April 11, 2019

Motherhood Now

I haven't written a post in years. I mean, sure, I started a new blog, sure, but not for the same reasons that I started this one. The reasons that I started this one can be satisfied with Instagram or Twitter. But I realized recently that when I stopped blogging, I did myself a serious disservice. This blog served as a collection of essays on my life as a mother of four little kids. Until I started trying to earn a little money. At this point, monetary hopes and dreams are out the window. What I would like to get back to, however, are essays about my life as a mother.

This time it's different. I don't have four little kids. I have six kids ranging from teenager to preschooler. I have one kid driving and still have two kids at home with me all day. It's a strange limbo to be in. I have built in babysitters, but those babysitters have lives. They want to hang out with their friends, be involved at clubs at school and basically do whatever they want. My preschoolers are spoiled rotten. They have been babied from the get go and I spend more time than I would like to admit doing damage control. I'm not entirely sure that I have ruined them completely.

Not only is this middle place strange, it's lonely. I have friends who have teenagers, but they don't have kids home during the day so they work or spend all day volunteering at school. I have friends who have preschoolers, but no one goes to actual school yet, so their days are full of library story times, naps and play dates. There really isn't anyone in my life that understands what it is like to be here. The strange combination of busy-ness and learning to read. Visits to the DMV and kindergarten orientation.

I don't have a profound observation to offer here. Just that this place is a new place, and I'm not entirely sure if I like it. I can see the end of the tunnel. Two more years and every kid will be in school all day. (But only for one year. Then the oldest goes to college. Yes. I will have a kindergartner and a senior at the same time.) But that tunnel isn't really a relief, it's kind of scary. I'm not sure that I want to spend all day volunteering at the school, and other than working a register at a fabric store, what kind of job can I hope to get? I suppose that I can always go back to school. But I graduated with a degree 15 years ago. I just never did anything with it.

I'm not sure if you know this about me, but I don't love change. It isn't easy for me. So the fact that motherhood changes regularly stretches and pulls me in ways I never thought possible. It's hard. It's lovely. It's fun. It's terrifying. It's exhausting. It's nonstop. I signed up for the ride without really knowing what I was getting myself into. But, I suppose, all mothers do.

March 13, 2017

I Don't Do St. Patricks Day

holiday traditions, st. patricks day traditions, kids tradtions

Confession: I don't do St. Patrick's Day.

My mom did it. Every. Single. Year.

We woke up to a treasure hunt with clues left on shamrocks all throughout the house, which led to a chocolate pot of chocolate coins. I have no idea where my mother found a chocolate pot, but there it was, every year.

I console myself with the thought that my mother only had two kids, whereas I have six, but then I remember that she also worked full time and that makes me feel like a failure.

I did dye the milk green one year. That was a standby growing up. The leprechaun would dye the milk green while leaving the shamrocks. Well, I dyed the milk green and then left to run errands. My ever conscientious seven year old daughter thought that there was something seriously wrong with it and dumped it right down the drain before I got home. Served that leprechaun right for not leaving clues.

Here's the thing, though. I probably could pull off a leprechaun treasure hunt. And two thirds of my children are still young enough to appreciate it.  I just really don't want to. I have so much on my to do list already that adding that one unnecessary thing just weighs me down. More than it should. And I can't really figure out why.

Maybe it's because I had four kids in five years, and when I was really right in the thick of it, trying to put together a leprechaun hunt really would have killed me. Maybe it's because I'm worried that my oldest two will feel like they missed out on something because I never did it when they were kids. Maybe it's just straight up laziness. Maybe it's just one more thing to do and it will not determine the life or death of my children. Or, maybe I'm just not as good of a mother as my own was.

Whatever the reason, my mom guilt makes me feel it every. single. year. And every single year, I ignore it, make green smoothies and green scrambled eggs, make sure everyone is at the very least wearing green so they don't get pinched at school and call it good. And, who knows, maybe that's enough after all.

March 1, 2017

Where do you get your ideas?

writing advice, writing tips, writing inspiration, author advice

I have gotten a lot of questions since my first novel, Dear Jane, was released. One of the most common had been "Where do you get your ideas?"
And the answer: Honestly? Everywhere.

I actually can't remember exactly what sparked Dear Jane. I do remember vividly, however, that I knew the title before I knew anything else. I knew I wanted to tell the story of a Sister missionary who receives a Dear Jane letter.  From there, the story just slowly unfolded.

Ever since I was a kid, I can remember rewriting my life. Usually in that space between waking and sleeping. I go over interactions that I had that day and rewrite them using words that I wish I had said or wondering what would have happened if they had said something differently. That kind of daydreaming has led to many a story. I take what might have been and twist it and turn it until an entirely new reality is formed. Characters are born, conflicts are magnified and it blossoms into an entire novel.

Alternately, I pay attention to the world around me. I don't like to use the word eavesdropping, but if you're having a conversation next to me, I'm not going to cover my ears and hum. Once again, my talent for creating a world around a conversation comes in handy and I take odds and ends of the overheard conversation and weave it into something new. I've heard other authors say, Don't tell me anything you don't want to end up in a book, and that is entirely true. It likely won't be your life story, but it just might be a silly detail that I thought was particularly memorable or an unusual phrase that rings true. There are a few family members who heard echoes of themselves in the pages of Dear Jane.

If you're thinking about writing, wondering where you can find your ideas, don't look to far. I imagine that you've been telling stories your entire life, whether to yourself as you fall asleep at night, or to the entertainment of your family at reunions, it doesn't matter. Figure out where your stories live and write them down. You're the only one who can.

October 27, 2016

Eight years ago today. . .

I had pretty much given up on ever giving birth.  I was convinced that I would be pregnant for the rest of my entire life. After a weekend of last minute Halloween activities and prep and lots of false labor, I was in despair.  And as a last ditch effort to induce labor, (I had tried everything else. No. Really.)  I decided to clean my house. My entire house. And, while I was at it, I might as well make a nice dinner.  And so I did.  From top to bottom, I cleaned everything.  I did dozens of loads of laundry, washed every dish, swept every floor and picked up every toy.  I made chicken, funeral potatoes, rolls, salad.  It was a nice dinner.   And just as I was putting the chicken into the oven, it hit.  The first contraction.

I straightened up and looked at the clock.  4:00.  I wasn't about to call the midwife. I had been having random contractions for weeks.  And so I headed upstairs to switch the laundry. And sure enough, another one hit.  So, I called my husband.  Then I called the midwife.  Then I called my mom. John arrived home a remarkable 10 minutes later.  Before my mom did, to take over the parenting duties. The hypnobirthing training had kicked in and I wanted to make John start doing the breathing, because he was stressing me out more than the contractions were.  They were about four minutes apart by this time.  And 5:00 in the evening.  And yes, that meant rush hour.  By the time we arrived at the hospital, 30 minutes later, the contractions were 2 minutes apart.  I couldn't walk into the hospital.  John deposited me in a wheelchair in front of check in while he parked the car.  Thirty minutes and a decent amount of screaming later, I was holding a perfect little baby boy with dark hair.

Five years ago that little boy woke up, determined that today was NOT his birthday and that he was still 2.  Until he saw the presents.  And for the remainder of the day he proudly held up 3 and a half fingers and proclaimed, "I'm fwee."

Oh, good heaven. My baby is fwee.


August 29, 2016

Song of Summer's End

My daughter goes to first grade tomorrow. And it feels like I am saying goodbye to her. I have spent every day with her for the past 6 years. Every day for at least 21 hours. I got to be there for it all. The first smile. Laugh. Word. Tooth. Joke. Time out. Tantrum. The good and the bad. I have been there. And now I have to give that up. The first spelling test. I won't be there. The first lunch in the lunch room. I won't be there. She will learn so much without me.

And more than just spelling and math. How to make friends and keep them. How to decide to be a bigger person and not make fun of less socially adapt kids. How to deal with disappointment all by herself. I won't be there for those moments. I will only get the leftovers. The few hours between school and bed. Those precious hours that homework has to be done, dinner has to be made. Chores have to be done, baths have to be taken. Those precious hours are not enough for me to soak in the goodness of my girl and to keep her close to me like I want to. And so I have to say good bye until next summer until she will spend every glorious hour with me again.

Maybe I'm selfish. Maybe I'm a bad mom for not wanting to let her go. But she is my baby and I don't want to give her up. Not yet.

*Originally published 2009

August 28, 2016

Stream of Consciousness

What am I going to make for dinner?
Pasta. No. We had pasta last night.  I wonder how much is left downstairs.  I bet I need to restock.

No-you cannot have a snack. I am just about to make dinner.  Okay. One tomato. But that's it.  No, wait let me wash it first.

Okay.  Is there any chicken left in the freezer?  What can I make with canned chicken.  Nothing that John likes. Life would be so much easier if he wasn't so picky.  It's like 100 degrees.  We can't have soup.

Shut the door!

Stupid flies.  I swear they wait for the door to open.    Did we really use that many dishes today? Maybe I should wash them before I make dinner.  Dishwasher is still full.  But if I ask the girls to come clear it right now, they will be in the way.

We have lots of beans. I should make something with beans. Beans and rice. John will have to deal.  I wonder if I can find a new recipe online.  Ehh. I'll just make something up. Should I make cornbread?

Eric, do you stink?  You do, don't you.  Go get me a diaper.  No kicking!  You don't kick mommy!

Now the living room stinks.  Two cans of beans.  A can of tomato sauce.  Is that it?  Hmm. Maybe I should have made cornbread. I could make biscuits. No. The food processor is in the sink.  Not washing that right now.  Oh, well.  I wonder if there is a way to make better rice.

I should put some brown sugar in there. I wonder if the cajun seasoning will clash with the barbeque sauce. What is in cajun seasoning anyway?

Shut the fridge please. No. You don't need any cheese right now. Shut the fridge.

We are having beans and rice.  You like it.

Put it down!  No! Put it down.

Everyone out of the kitchen! Out! Now!  I will call you when it is time to eat!

Sigh.  I should really fold the laundry. I'll have to do that tonight. Onions!  I forgot.  Garlic too.  Okay.  Rice is done.  Beans are done.

Guys. Come set the table.  No, just set the table. If you can't sing and set at the same time, then don't sing.  What did I just say?


*originally posted 2011

August 26, 2016


This week I had one of those days. I didn't feel all that great and my motivation was nada. So when my baby fell asleep on me--which doesn't happen often I didn't try and set him down so I could go get some work done. I sat on the couch and let him sleep on me for 2 hours.

This is a rare occasion for me. This baby does not sleep for two hours of the day EVER. And it usually takes lots and lots of work for me to get him to sleep while I'm holding him. Strange, I know, but that is who he is.

While he was asleep I watched his face. He is so beautiful. They are all beautiful when they are sleeping. The term angel here is cliche but appropriate. As I was gazing at his face I got a glimpse of what he might look light as a little boy, as a teenager, as an adult. And he will always be beautiful. But the thought of him growing up breaks my heart a little. And thrills me at the same time.

Motherhood is so full of moments like that. They can be hard to find in all of the screaming and running and dancing and singing. The quiet moments when you catch your child making a face and you know that they will have that same face as they grow. And you hope, desperately, that the person accompanying that face will live a good and happy and worthwhile life. And that your influence in their life will be for good.

And so I held my baby, sitting on the couch for two hours doing nothing but willing my baby to grow up healthy and happy. And loving him like I know he won't let me love him once he learns how to walk. Once he learns how to run. Once he learns how to drive. Hoping that loving him like that now will seep into him and nourish him for the rest of his life.

August 25, 2016

Why Harry Potter is So Amazing

I recently discovered a new podcast. Harry Potter and the Sacred Text.  And it's just bringing up my intense love of Harry Potter.  Generally, I try to keep my crazy under wraps, but I just can't anymore.
 I love Harry Potter.  For the following reasons:
1. Have you ever noticed anything about the names in Harry Potter?  JK Rowling didn't just make up funny words to name her characters.  Here's a few examples:

  • Sirius Black: Sirius is the Dog Star
  • Minerva: The Roman goddess of wisdom
  • Dumbledore: Old English for Bumblebee
  • Remus Lupin: Remus was a son of Mars, left to die along the banks of the Tiber, but saved and nursed back to health by a she-wolf.  Lupus is the Latin word for Wolf. 
  • Voldemort: Comes from a French phrase that can be interpreted as "one who flees from death." 
Right?   Right?  

Why yes.  I am a super nerd. 

2. The themes are amazing.  Tolerance. Love conquering death.  The power of friendship.  Faith in a greater purpose.  Everything you want to teach your kids in seven volumes. 

3. The writing.  THE WRITING.  My favorite line? "Tom Riddle hit the floor with a mundane finality."   Mundane finality.  After everything, after all he has done and all he has put the world through, he is just a human being like the rest of them and he has died like the rest of them.  You see now why I keep my crazy to myself?

4. The characters.  How do you read these books and not love them all? I cry for Harry, laugh with(at) Ron,  and just want to give Neville a hug.  And the twins.  And Hagrid! 

I think that's enough for one day.  Please let me know if you are a Harry Potter crazy person too.  We can chat!!

August 1, 2016

Church with Littles

Church is no longer a calm and peaceful experience. Would you like to know why?

1. I have six children.

2. Two of those children are 1 and 2.

3. Church starts at 1:00

Did you know that a family of 8 takes up pretty much an entire row?  We do.  Which means that if we don't get to church early enough to be able to snag an entire row, we are stuck in the very back on the folding chairs. And no one, not a single one of us, likes to sit in the hard chairs.  Just kidding.  The babies like to sit on the  hard chairs.  Do you want to know why?  Because when you bang the hard chairs with your match box car, your colored pencil or your sippy cup, it makes a loud, echoing sound throughout the gym.  And that is super awesome.

Because we moved at the end of last year, we landed ourselves in a two year stretch of 1:00 church.  Can I explain to you why 1:00 is so awful?  It has very little to do with the four older children. They are totally fine with it. They, however, are entirely capable of dressing themselves, feeding themselves and dealing with their own bodily functions.  The two people who live in my house and are not capable of any of those things make 1:00 church a nightmare.  The biggest problem is that it is smack in the middle of nap time.  It doesn't just overlap a little. It's straight up nap time. And those two littles NEED their naps.  I am firmly convinced that if church were at 9:00 I would occasionally get to sit through an entire sacrament meeting. As it stands, I haven't been able to stay in the chapel for a full hour stretch since about April of 2015.

Don't get me wrong, I adore my babies.  I don't want them to grow up. I want them to stay little for as long as possible. At home.

July 28, 2016

Try Everything

My older boys, Eric and Seth, feel like they should just know how to do something. There should be no practicing involved, they should be perfect on the first try.  Which is why it took so long for either of them to learn how to ride a bike without training wheels, why neither one of them can tie their shoes, and why Eric still insists that he doesn't know how to read. (He does.  I promise.)

So, while sitting in a dark movie theater watching Zootopia, this song punched me in the gut and I knew that it needed to be our family's new anthem.

I messed up tonight, I lost another fight
I still mess up but I'll just start againI keep falling down, I keep on hitting the groundI always get up now to see what's next
I knew that this needed to be drilled into their little heads. And not just my boys, but my girls too.  All of my children seem a little too prone to giving up.  When things get hard, they don't want to work harder to make it happen. 
'Til I reach the end and then I'll start again
No I won't leave, I wanna try everything
I wanna try even though I could fail
I know that listening to a song isn't going to create some magical reaction.  I know that watching Zootopia isn't going to solve all of their problems.  But maybe, just maybe, coupled with my encouragement, it will give them a little push in the right direction. 
I'll keep on making those new mistakes
I'll keep on making them every day
Those new mistakes.

I won't give up, no I won't give in

Copyright Trapped Between a Scream and a Hug

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