Friday, October 17, 2008


Yesterday Sport was home with the stomach flu, and I was a little disappointed. Not because he soiled his sheets, moaned for attention, or asked for specialty foods, but because he didn’t.

For years, my kids have used my jeans like tissue. Without a second thought, I’ll hold out my hand so my kids can spit out gum, snuck candy, or plain too much food. And in public places I’ve even cupped my hands as an emergency vomit bowel. Bodily fluid has become my specialty.

Motherhood is not glamorous, people.

Those of you with kids are familiar with the Public Vomit. You’re at a formal gathering (it always is, right?) with a child who has been incubating an illness for about 12 hours, although you, as of yet, have no idea. And then, at the most inopportune time, the percolating child blows. And by blows, I mean chunks—and by chunks, I mean all over the place. (And if you’re unlucky, like the Belknap family, some poor, unsuspecting and immaculately-dressed older women had been trying to entertain aforementioned urpy child.)

As Mother, you step in and begin the cleanup, using everything from the Taco Bell napkins you’ve been stashing in your purse to your new leather jacket. In fact, you may even use your own shirt to wipe any residue from your child’s pale little face.

After years of such sickly episodes, you would think I’d be more than ready to graduate my oldest son from the human vomit bowl to the toilet bowl. Call me crazy, but I’m not.

Yesterday, Sport was a grown-up sick kid. He drank his 7Up and ate his soda crackers without complaint, even when it made him throw up thirty minutes later. And throughout all his disoriented nausea, not once did he miss the toilet. He didn’t cling, he didn’t whine, he didn’t use my shirt to wipe his face. What’s a mother good for if not all those things?

So I’ve begun to sing the enjoy-them-while-they’re-young anthem of motherhood. No more diaper bags, no more ear infections, no more public vomits. But while I may no longer be the human vomit bowel, I’m still the homework nag. That counts for something.

And the sibling rivalry referee. They still need one of those, right?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Winter, anyone?

Winter’s coming.

I know. Leave it to me to be the bearer of bad news.

Just this weekend, it snowed here in Idaho Falls. Sunday morning we had about an inch on the ground and it’s currently 29 degrees Fahrenheit. I still have nightmares about last winter. The ice dams, the frozen pipes, the icicle tears.

So I decided to better prepare this year. And so far I’ve insulated the pipes and practiced building fires. I went to girls’ camp; you would think that last one would come more easily.

I have decided that all my 2007 winter woes were the direct result of my inability to build a fire. The ice dams on the backside of my house? The fireplace is on the backside of my house. The pipe that runs under the stairs by the backside of my house? The fireplace – still on the backside of my house. There’s a definite pattern that you would think an educated women would have deduced before the third or fourth snowfall. But no, I had already abandoned my efforts of trying to make a spark with some steel wool and a 6-volt battery (kidding).

Firebuilding 101. There’s a fundamental college requirement for you.

More than the physical chill, I’m bracing myself for those heating bills. You think the feds might spring for those after they bail out Wall Street? I won’t get my hopes up; I’m buying a couple cords of wood and will continue to practice my fire-building skills. Yesterday I actually started one without having to use an entire newspaper (sports section and all). In fact, I’m moving through the newspapers so quickly I’ll have to use last year’s heating bills to fuel this winter’s fires.

So I’m bracing myself for what this winter will hold. Some people around here are hoping that, due to our mild August weather, we’ll be having an even milder winter. Being the eternal optimist I am, I think mean ole Mother Nature was just shutting down the sun early so that by Halloween the only kids who could survive trick or treating will be dressed like Sasquatch or Satan.

You better watch it, Mother Nature. It’s an election year and I just might vote for the Devil if you keep this up (still kidding!).

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Hope for Me, Thanks

I’ve joked about being Worst Case Scenario Mama. It seems a funny thing, a natural thing –something that prepares me for the worst possible outcome of a situation so that we are fully braced for all that is bad, ugly, and painful. I’ve done it for years to the point that it’s become as natural as breathing. Unfortunately, it has also made my life miserable. All that bracing is exhausting; it’s taken a toll on my spirit, making it difficult to embrace the good in life and celebrate joy.

I don’t talk about my beliefs much. When I first started blogging, it was simply an opportunity to tell my family about the crazy experiences I was having as a mother without calling them up, one by one, to share what they might consider the blathering of just another giddy mommy. But it soon evolved to be more than that, bracing me against the harsh edges of separation and then divorce, and then, encouraging me through the strange land that is single-motherhood.

But now I’d like to share another faucet of my life that I hope will grow to consume my experience, and that is JOY, something that I find inseparable from my beliefs as a Latter Day Saint (a Mormon).

Life is hard. I get that. I’ve braced for it, experienced it, and survived it (so far). I’ve learned a lot from difficulty. But life is also a blessed experience that should be full of hope and happiness. As I’ve thought about that idea, read lots of inspiring books and listened to the amazing leaders of my church, I’ve discovered (as many of you have probably already realized) that happiness is a choice.

This past weekend our church held its semi-annual general conference, where our leaders (men and women alike) shared powerful messages intended to inspire members to serve others, endure struggles, and capture joy.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s, second counselor to our prophet, shared a message (Saturday Morning Session) that was life-changing for me. He spoke of the infinite power of hope and how it has the ability to fill our lives with joy. The antithesis of hope is despair, which, as Worst Case Scenario Mama, I have often experienced. He explained, “Despair drains from us all that is vibrant, and joyful, and leaves behind the empty remnants of what life was meant to be. Despair kills ambition, advances sickness, pollutes the soul and deadens the heart. Despair can seem like a staircase that leads only and forever downward.”

“Hope, on the other hand, is like the beam of sunlight rising up and above the horizon of our present circumstances. It pierces the darkness with a brilliant dawn. …Hope upholds us. Hope raises our resolve. The brighter our hope, the stronger our faith.”

When I was in graduate school I despised the Pollyanna’s of the world, those stricken with a sickening optimism that seemed, to me, to have nothing to do with the realities of life—hardships, struggles, disabling disappointments. Now, however, I want to become a Pollyanna. Because, really, who enjoys life more? The Pollyanna’s of this world or the Negative Nellies? After years of being a Negative Nelly I say, take me to the bright side, the sickeningly sweet side, the side where I can smile at my children more and worry about the unknown future less.

In reading Marriane Williamson’s book, The Gift of Change, she talks about how we’re given opportunities to learn through joy. We encounter experiences and opportunities that enable us to learn, with grace and ease. If we refuse that opportunity, perhaps because we feel too busy, overwhelmed, or just not up to the task, it will pass and then return again. Each time it returns, it takes on an element of difficulty, forcing us to turn our attention to the curriculum God intends for us to master.

She explains, “It’s not up to us what we learn, only whether we learn through joy or through pain. But if we don’t yet trust that every situation is a lesson, we don’t bother to ask ourselves what the lesson is. And unless we do, our chances of learning it are nil. Then the lesson will reappear—with even higher stakes—until we learn it. We may as well learn it the first time, when the chance to learn through joy is still available.”

I can see that this lesson of HOPE has been returning to me again and again. I intend to learn the lesson this time and release the fear, the despair, and the darkness that has often suffocated me. It will require effort and intention, but it will come.

The last talk of general conference (Sunday Afternoon Session) was given by our beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson. He spoke of finding joy in the journey. For me there couldn’t have been a better message with which to close.

So while in the past I have easily spotted the storms, I intend to seek out the light, the uplifting and the hopeful more and more every day. I’m finding myself inspired by many who are doing the same and with them I will try harder to choose JOY.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Day Off

The kids didn't have school today so we went and got haircuts. On a well-measured whim (is there such a thing?) we cut Sis's hair to her shoulders. What I thought would be so traumatic was no big deal. Here she is in her big-girl haircut.

You can "almost" see her missing front tooth. *sigh*

Then we went to the dollar store and Spunk picked this:

I laughed out loud to see how much he loved the funny-man glasses.

And then, always combat-minded, Sport got fighting gear:

It's a little blurry, but all in the spirit of camouflage.

We're off to visit the cousins in Utah. Enjoy your weekend!