A better day

I had Dave post that thing about the kid earlier because my work blocks a lot of sites and I couldn’t get on blogger. I got a call at 8 a.m. from Paw-in-law and realized I may have managed to stress out people just like I was stressed out. Sorry if I did that to you.

I am learning something about myself. When I have tons to do, I get all fired up and am a whirlwind of productive creativity. When I have a lot of downtime or unstructured time, all of a sudden I am a bump on a log. I had all the time in the world to do the personal projects I’m taking on before I went back to work, but was stagnant. Perhaps it was discouragement about things, financial frustration–those things can be paralyzing.

But, if I was all rich and hopped up on Prozac I think I’d still be more motivated by being busy. Isn’t that a funny word–business=busy-ness. It makes business seem so inane–the cause of being busy.

At work the new employees had a big 4-hour meeting on the Franklin Covey Four Disciplines of Execution today. I’ll be honest, I’m a little burned out on the Covey cult and don’t drink the Kool-Aid, if you know what I mean. Mainly because I think he’s getting paid too much for stating the obvious, both of which he is, but most of us need the obvious stated and many are willing to pay him for it. So, kudos to him and whatever.

I’ll say it. In the end, it was totally great. The whole point was to get tools to bridge the gap between what you want to accomplish and what you actually do, and I felt like I got my mind around the actual concrete things in both my job and my personal life that I can do to get me what I want. I sipped just a bit of the Kool-Aid.

Oh, I wish the camera cable wasn’t in where Lucy is sleeping, I have SO many pictures for you, including no less than 20 pounds of produce I picked today. I spent my evening making zucchini bread, grating bags of zucchini for the freezer, roasting chiles–it’s a fun time.

Well, it’s 11:37, I need to get up at 6 and I still have empires to build tonight, so I’d better go.

Long Day

I was told at 3:30 that there was a major wreck on the freeway between my work and my house that would take hours to clear. I was told when I got in the car that another wreck was on the freeway that runs parallel to that freeway right before they join heading toward my house. I spent over an hour going to every major North-South thoroughfare from the far West to the far East of the valley, and they were all dead stopped from SLC all the way up to Bountiful.

I scrounged $5 in nickels and ate in my car at Wendy’s. Everything was still blocked. I drove downtown again, everything still blocked. I resigned myself to not seeing my kids today and went to the Family History Center to work on my file until 8 p.m. It still took me an hour to get home because it wasn’t opened up very much where the wreck was after five hours.

As I drove home, I heard the news telling me about the earthquake in So Cal, and I pray for you guys that somehow that relieved some pressure and you’ll be safe for another 20 years. There was a big fire in the canyon above SLC I could see as I paced the roads. The smoke was pouring over the hill on to the traffic jam and over the wreck area. As I drove home past the refineries that separate SL from Davis counties, I looked through their smoke and smog right as the sun was going down in a dark red sky full of ruby and black thunderclouds. It was all very ominous.

Just as I got home, it was dark enough to put the chickens away–they were already asleep, with the regular two hens outside the door sleeping on the feedbox as usual (having jumped the fence as they do everyday). There was then a knock on the door and a little girl was looking for her brother. A boy from Ben’s primary class went for a bike ride a few hours ago and hasn’t come home or been seen since. I’m really scared about it, but just hoping he’s watching TV with some neighbor somewhere and lost track of time.

If you read this tonight, pray for him, will you?

‘Squito brew

Thanks so much to all of you for the advice. I’ll have to check out Cousin Lisa’s suggestions, and definitely need to get down to Ikea ASAP. I recently read a report discrediting skin so soft, and also two of the “natural” bug sprays, but who can believe anything anymore. I might as well try it–my backdoor neighbor sells the stuff.

So, here’s what I did last night. I found out there is no safe indoor substance for trapping/repelling mosquitos to be found in the standard retail establishment. But, I read that mosquitos hate catnip. I also remembered that my homemade bug spray for the garden is castile soap (same peppermint kind) with some cayenne pepper (and some mashed garlic–blend then strain through cloth). I went out to the garden, where I have PILES of wild catnip, picked two big handfuls of leaves and put them in a blender with some water, added cayenne pepper, strained, added soap and a bit more water to fill the bottle. It was way dark, vibrant green stuff and smelled half minty good and half weird and not good.

I sprayed all the kids walls and around their beds on a light mist (it is VERY green, so too much shows up). The aerosolized cayenne makes for a few minutes of coughing, I intelligently realized afterward. I also shot directly any mosquitoes I saw. If I saturated them, they died instantly, but they may have drowned. If I just persistently misted around where they were, several of them spiraled down, and if they didn’t die, they were too slow to fly away while I swatted them. It can’t be comfortable, it’s basically pepper spray for bugs.

At midnight I checked on the kids. Two mosquitos in Sophie’s room (last night was way more) and they were away from her bed on the other side of the room. Sprayed them. One mosquito in Ben’s room (way better than last night). Sprayed it. None in hallway, one my bedroom, sprayed.

I woke up hearing mosquito buzzing in the early morning. (BTW, that means that mosquito is VERY close to your ear.) I had only one new bite. Ben had only one new bite. I deemed the effort a success and sprayed around beds again tonight before bed.

Today we rose early and went boating with David’s brother Danny, his wife Jessica, Jessica’s sweet parents, Paw/Maw in Law, and David’s sis Karen (and daughter Morgan, just three weeks older than Noah–they look like twins). I’ve never ever been boating. I got dragged around by a boat on a tube and on a knee board (although I can’t honestly say I was on my knees for that one.) I didn’t dare try the skis. It was all fun and I have many bruises and aching muscles to prove it.

I had a nice talk with Jane, Jessica’s mother (and long time Jr. High principal), and it was refreshing to talk to someone that was so supportive of my working and positive about the good things. If I have to work, which I do, it gets old having everyone mourn over it like there’s been a death or something. It’s true, lots of good is definitely coming from this change and we all see it already. We all know it’s ideal for moms to be at home, but it doesn’t benefit me to lament that everyday. It was really nice to have her support, and hey, Jessica turned out very well, so I guess childrearing failure isn’t imminent after all.
Anyway, I swam in the lake, I sat on the shore and watched my kids make sandcastles. It was a fabulous, gorgeous day. We applied sunscreen twice and all have splotchy sunburns anyway in random places. We all had a ball, and the kids, having arisen very early, all crashed hard tonight. I’m ready to do the same.
I’ll try to do the pictures tomorrow. I owe you many.

Where did the week go?

I am off to Target to find out if there is such a thing as a mosquito killer/repellant you can put indoors. Everything I’ve seen says outdoors only, and the bug spray I bought to put on the kids basically says on the back, “Don’t put this on anything or anyone at anytime.” Let alone let small children sleep covered in it night after night.

The kids leave the doors hanging open half the day and our house is full of mosquitoes that come out at night. Last night I spent 45 minutes with a wet towel whacking all the ones in my bedroom so I wouldn’t spend another night being eaten alive (complete with dreams of being eaten alive). I finally felt like I had all those in my room and went into the hall to check the kids rooms. The hall had TEN mosquitoes on the walls and ceiling. Sophie’s room had 8. I turned on the light in Ben/Noah’s room and up on the wall by the top bunk where Ben sleeps was no less than 7 mosquitoes, right next to him. I killed one and it left a Ben-blood spatter on the wall.

Ben is covered in bites and sores (because he won’t stop scratching them). He looks like he has chicken pox. Most of them are from sleeping, not from being outside! The bug spray I bought today said don’t put on skin with any cuts or scrapes. Great.

Sophie looks like she has teenager acne, with bumps all over her face. The bug spray I bought said don’t put on kid’s faces except for very, very sparingly if at all.

It’s really very frustrating to not feel like I can protect the kids. We can do mosquito nets, but they are $35 a piece for one that goes around the whole bed but still lets them crawl out (not tucked under the mattress). We may have two incomes now, but we won’t be feeling like we do for a good six weeks, so that’s not going to happen either.

Advice?

Oh, I do have advice for what to do after you have been bitten, and it’s works like a charm–soap!! We use Trader Joes Pure castile soap with peppermint (liquid), and put a drop on the bite and rub it in. A minute or so later, the itching stops, and it actually helps heal the bite–sometimes I can’t even find the bite if I put this on fast enough. Just rubbing a wet bar of soap on it works too, but I like the TJ stuff.

The 24th (Pioneer Day–State Holiday) was fun, complete with pancake breakfast at the park, games, fair rides, cotton candy, snow cones, pony rides, and the fondly remembered “tiger paws,” now called “Brigham’s Frybread.” The booths and signs hadn’t changed from 20 years ago. We watched an indian play a flute and a lady spin wool by hand and on a spinning wheel.

The night before I took the kids to the Bountiful parade in front of my grandma’s residential living facility. They had a great time and it was raining candy, popsicles and toys. I did have a moment at the parade where I realized I was not only watching the same parade I grew up watching, but I was watching it practically at ground zero in what I fondly call the “Triangle of Pain.” I tried to put that out of my head and enjoy it anyway, and was pretty successful.

Melodramatic, I know, but even though I live here, there is a large swath in the middle of town I avoid at all costs. Unfortunately that swath includes both the library and my grandma’s place, although only the former holds bad memories. I call it a triangle, but I’m not sure if it is. Let’s do a brief experiment. There. In David’s mapping program, I marked all the places I avoid because of unpleasant associations or violent nausea–old schools, places of humiliation, certain people’s homes, my homes–and voila! Almost a triangle it is! Happily, my house, the inlaws and my mom are all outside (and on opposite sides) of the triangle. I always drive around.

David and I have discussed the downsides of living in your childhood town, but boo hoo, we’re both fine.

I argue that an unhappy childhood makes for an interesting adult. At least I hope so.

My 101st Post

Highlights of today–found two (big) cucumbers I hadn’t seen before, the first, and ate one of them with salt on the spot. Came up with a good PR idea at work which people liked. Dreamed about how I want to start this or that business. Wrote several new blogs I never intend to start in my head. Listened to two full operas at work (we can have headphones), one of which brought me to tears. Found a new voice teacher for myself. Talked to some friends on the phone. Watched a flash-flood thunderstorm come down out the window at work. Ate sweets.

Downside was when Sophie dramatically and accusingly told me that she was forgetting she even has a mommy lately (yesterday I got another version of this statement from her), and when I came home David rushed downstairs to get some work done and I was left with three children fighting over my lap and crying for attention while Ben tried to talk over it to tell me about his day. Also, I ate sweets, and I’m up 10 lbs since moving here! I wanted to buy a cow, not be one!

Yesterday my friends the Hunters came over which was super fun–I love being in a place all my long-lost friends come to visit.

Things are good. My husband has the hardest part, because we both have identical income quotas and he has to make his while watching the kids all day and then working into the night. That’s modern living, I guess. He’s a good man.

PS. There was actually an article outing that funny blog I mentioned below, if you want to know who is really writing it.

Harvest has begun!

Thursday the apricot tree was ripe and we picked them all, and the zucchini is coming in with more every day–they are SO good!

Today I thought I had what I needed for stew and got the meat on during church but came home and realized I had no potatoes or carrots. So, the kids and I headed out to the garden to see what we could put in our stew. I checked the russets, but they were tiny, like a kumquat. I went down to the reds, and they were perfect new potatoes, from an inch to three inches. Many of the pea pods were fat and ready to shell, so we set the kids to work on that. We took some of the 2″ carrots that aren’t even close to done, just so we could say we had carrots. The stew was fabulous. I never had a just-picked potato before and they taste so real and potatoey. It was just heavenly. Pics are coming.

I love work, the garden is great, the kids are happy and things are looking up. It feels so good to do something I am good at for once, and to be making a positive impact on our situation (also for once). I feel confident that we are on the path the Lord has laid out for us to answer our prayers–sometimes I guess the answer isn’t always magic fairy dust but hard work. I feel truly happy for the first time in–so long I can’t remember.

Oh, I have learned that although I seriously know hardly anyone here, all the women at church seem to know that I am working and some apparently have reached the conclusion that my husband is not working and is “making” me work so he doesn’t have to take a job he doesn’ t like. Of course they don’t know all the details of our situation or that the bishop (let alone the Lord) are fully on board with our plan, but who needs facts when you’ve got interesting conjecture? It’s amusing that people have enough time on their hands to form judgments on people they don’t even know. Maybe they should get jobs.

I am honest when I say this doesn’t bother me, but it is interesting to juxtapose my role and mega-activity in E.Pas. with my fringe status here. I didn’t realize I was such a liberal–I was a conservative in LA., for heaven’s sake!

Just wait two weeks when David is assigned to teach on righteous justifications to go to war as stated in the scriptures, where we learn our current foreign policy is expressly forbidden in the BoM. We’re going to make a lot of friends with that one.

Today someone asked in Sunday School, “Who are some modern day Corihors?” (an anti-Christ in the Book of Mormon). And the first thing out of someone’s mouth was the name of a recent democratic mayor of SLC. Oh BROTHER.

On that note, everyone I’ve met here thinks global warming is a hoax. Does that mean miles of ice lost off Greenland and the poles is a hoax? Or sea level rise? It’s just weird. Sure, it’s been politicized and most proposed solutions are ineffective, but just saying it isn’t happening? That takes some real guts–or is it faith?

I saw The Dark Knight last night, you just can’t go wrong with Batman. It was an action-packed film with lots of ideas to think about in the battle between good and evil. The question is, can you actively attack and conquer evil without meeting it on it’s terms and becoming the evil you are fighting in order to win? Is there such a thing as attacking with goodness? In the global spiritual battle of good vs. evil, I’m thinking just being good and teaching good is the only weapon you can use that doesn’t require you to take on some evil yourself, you can’t actively go out and beat people over the head with goodness and make them good. The end result (of the film) was that the one doing the good thing will look to the world as if they are evil. There are many scriptures saying that will be true in the last days. It’s an interesting thing to think about.

How come thinking hard just brings one to more questions? Well, the good news is God is in charge and there for us in a very personal way in this crazy world. We just can’t get through this unscathed without Him. This is why the idea that we have a loving Heavenly Father who we can talk to anytime and anywhere is something we proselyte so heavily as a church–none of us are meant to go through this life alone. For that I am SO grateful.

Observations on leaving kids to go back to work

  1. My kids absentmindedly call me “dad” when they want something
  2. Absence does make the heart grow fonder. I am a pretty hot commodity now and get lots of cuddles.
  3. Lucy prefers David when she’s upset.
  4. I do tend to spoil a bit more, just as they warn you against.

But, I am getting more into the groove, and less in that psychological shock of “Oh no! I’m a working mom!” I seem to be shifting gears well between work and home.

This week has been hard on everyone, but mainly on my 15 year old cousin, who has watched the kids every day from 1-5 and is a little burned out. My mom has done 7a-1p and actually loves it, and is cleaning my house in the process. She wonders what my problem is that I can’t do both. I am really grateful to her and glad she’s adjusted to the idea of hanging out with four children without panicking. She is a saint. It is so good to be mothered. I’m sure my kids feel the same way, but at least they are getting mothered by Mommy’s Mom.

Today I got home a bit late and Kim, another saint, was feeding my children along with hers, and then she fed me. That was a lifesaver. We came home and reviewed the garden, weeded a bit and set the sprinklers going. And…

I picked my first zucchini!!!

It was an Italian Striped, and a total surprise, I hadn’t looked underneath there in several days, so I thought we were still in blossom stage all over the garden. I also picked a globe zucchini–almost the size of a tennis ball, all round and cute, it was buried down in there, too. I picked a small onion and some basil and am going upstairs to fry it up and gobble it down right now. Oh, and I also found a green pepper which I picked, blanched and put in a freezer bag.

I have to keep things picked so they’ll keep producing. The chili peppers are kind of wanting to be picked, but I need to decide what I’m going to do with them–freeze, roast and freeze, make salsa verde? Any suggestions?

I have a feeling that soon I’ll have a blessing so great that I will not have room to receive it. But, I can always take baskets to work if I get overwhelmed.

Oh, I reviewed my first writing project of about 10 pages with my boss today (which is why I was late home), and he liked my stuff, so that’s a weight off. We see eye to eye on style and approach, which is huge. He has promised never to read my blog again, so that’s also nice. I also finished a 20 page marketing plan for the remainder of the year today, so let’s see if he’s up for everything I’m asking for.

David’s home tomorrow, we made it!

Single Mothers, I salute you!

I’m a single working mom this week, and have lots of support from my mom and cousin, but seriously, I am wasted. If this were really my life I’d have to use this time to pick up the house, do bills, etc. Since I’m just faking for a few days, I’m just holding my breath until Friday. It has been a trick just staying awake until sundown so I can go put the chickens in without a fight.

Lord, please help my husband live a long time and not do anything to make me have to divorce him!

I hear that life is good

My husband’s work has been really picking up, and here I have a job and stuff. We have this fabulous house and two big gardens, and two kittens and a full hen house. I have a zucchini plant up to my waist. On Saturday I weeded for 4 hours, picked all the cherries (made a pie today), planted carrots and radishes, organic bug-sprayed the grapes and potatoes, and generally farmed.

On Friday I went to a Marketing Department retreat, and we spent the morning learning about our communication styles (mine: apparentely I’m a shapeshifter, whatever works in the moment), and our strengths (mine: Learner, Ideation, Futurist, Relator and Activator–all made-up words that mean I live in my head and in the future, relate to people and love to start stuff). Then we rode horses in a gorgeous canyon for a few hours. I ended the day knowing (and liking) my team quite a bit. Plus, I’m getting in to the actual work part of my job now the training part is wrapping up, so I’m looking forward to my week and know what I’ll be doing.

As much as I wanted David to get another job, I realize this job makes it so we don’t have to scramble to take care of the kids and house, it pays well (when there’s work) and makes him available to do some other things that may be useful to him down the road. It makes it so we can both work without having the kids taken care of by non-parents (except when David is traveling).

But I talked to my pal Lori yesterday and was all, “But what about [whine whine],” and she clearly explained how perfect everything is, and how we’re being allowed to have this great lifestyle even though we haven’t fixed everything yet, and how now we have this great situation to get everything put together. I left that call totally woken up to how completely ungrateful and unaware I was being–there is clearly a plan.

I’ll just say it, judge me, whatever, but I don’t miss being at home when I’m at work. I like doing what I’m good at, I don’t like doing what I’m bad at. I sometimes lament that what I’m good at has no eternal significance, and what I’m bad at is critical for eternity, but hey, there it is. I love my kids, I love my family. I’m a crap housekeeper and the day to day of homemaking makes me mentally ill. I’m messed that way. Apparently God knows me, I’m His creation after all, and he’s arranging my life accordingly for now I guess.

The thing about that “strengths” exercise was there’s a place in the “Strengthsfinder” book that explained that it is inefficient to constantly focus on your weaknesses. Sure, you need to bring them up to a level they don’t destroy your life or overshadow your strengths, but if you are a natural 2 at something and put a ten effort, you will still be a 20, whereas if you work on the stuff you are a 9 at and try just as hard, you will be a 90. Think Michael Jordan, who was a 10 talent and 10 effort. He tried baseball, and he was no 10 talent, so he couldn’t come up with the same result.

The American dream is about overcoming odds and weaknesses, our culture is obsessed with our weaknesses. And we’re all about equal opportunity and saying to our kids that they can be anything they want if they try hard enough–but life is so much easier when you try hard enough with something that is already a talent for you. We’ve said that the Chinese and Russian communist states were oppressive because they take kids who show talent in something at a young age and direct them into that career permanently. Maybe that’s extreme, but I also think it is oppressive to spend my life fighting against weaknesses and ignoring my strengths. We all have both, which do you want to spend your life thinking about?