time management

Maybe I’m just impatient. I think that’s why I’m not as loving a mom as I could be. Either way, Noah had a project yesterday and it drove me crazy.

He had to create a poster for the Cub Scout Pack meeting we had last night. We both knew about it weeks in advance. And I was prepared. I had the poster board and on the way home from school at 2 pm I told Noah that he needed to stay on track and finish his homework quickly so that he could have time for making the poster before the event at 5:30 pm.

Staying on track. sigh. Not one of his strong suites. Or Liam’s either. As soon as we walked in the door from school, I went upstairs and put Ray down for a nap. I was gone from Noah and Liam’s presence for about 5 minutes, maybe less. I came downstairs and found them on the floor, Noah had has arms locked around Liam’s neck, Liam was half laughing, half yelling and their things (backpacks, lunches, sweatshirts) were strewn across the room like someone had stood in the middle of the room and joyfully thrown everything as high as they could in the air. Total chaos …. how long as I gone??? I had to check, yep. Five minutes. In order to do this, they must’ve come inside and immediately gotten to work acting like maniacs.

We got them on track, putting away their things and …… PAUSE. I need to say something:

As I have been writing the past two paragraphs, things have fallen apart. It’s only 8:30 am and things are a disaster around here. I feel like this whole motherhood job requires one to be a certain kind of person, that I am not. Ya know how in job descriptions it says stuff like “self-motivated, Excel training a must” etc (I actually can’t even remember what job listings look like, but go with me here), I feel like motherhood has the requirement of being a morning person. A non-morning person cannot handle what needs to happen before 8 am. I get up at 7 am and that’s because Daniel has already gotten up with the boys at 6:30 am. I USED to get the boys up at 6:45 am but I couldn’t maintain that and it wasn’t enough time for them to get ready. It wasn’t enough time because they would get distracted and start playing with Legos. That’s why. We have to get them up 15 minutes earlier to account for their shenanigans. Anyway, 6:30 am??! I can’t handle that and be a happy person. So Daniel does it, but still. Being up at 7 am is not my bag baby. One of the reasons I struggle with motherhood is largely the sleep issue and the early mornings.

Beyond just being up (which is too much for me anyway) I have to deal with insane little creatures at 7 am. Reminding Noah and Liam what they should be doing, making lunches, making sure the boys don’t forget the basics (shoes, backpacks, lunches, water) but then I also have to make sure they’re prepared for tests for the day, homework in their bags and of course answer thoughtful questions Noah asks (he’s a morning person and his brain is awake and inquisitive at 7:15 am) and then I’m also keeping the boys from arguing. You might say, “you could cut out half of that by preparing the night before, by making lunches and checking backpacks”. Ahhhhh, yes, you’d think so. But last night was the scout thing that kept us out until bedtime and I was exhausted from yesterday’s events and went to bed at 9 pm! It’s one eternal round of prep work and reminders for these boys.

But things have fallen apart just while I’ve been writing. As I’ve been writing, I have had to get up 5 times to get things for Ray, who has decided that he’s no longer supposed to sit in his high chair, but he will now sit in the counter height chairs next to me, at the bar. He’s almost fallen out of the chair twice and he keeps yanking and leaning on my arms as I write. During the time I’ve been writing, Ray has also dropped an entire bowl of dry (thank heavens) cheerios on the floor. He’s also started walking all over the cheerios. So, during the time I’ve been writing, I’ve also had to stop and sweep the floor. During that time, Ray has been put in his high chair and he’s crying about that. He’s also started crying and asking for “more cheerios”. I told him they’re dirty because he dropped them all over the floor and he’s now mourning the loss. Crying and wailing in his high chair. Just while I’ve written the first two paragraphs.

But enough of that, back to time management. After much prodding, constant reminding and after finding both boys playing at 17 separate times and places, it was 4 pm and time to start the poster! I thought this would be the easy part. The homework part was hard enough. Just getting to this point was exhausting, now it was just time to write and draw a poster.

I read the description of what he needed to do: illustrate the Leave No Trace frontcountry guidelines. There were 6 guidelines. I left him to it and started working on things I was planning on doing for preschool on Friday at my house. I came to check on Noah 25 minutes later. The poster was empty and there he was, sharpening every last colored pencil and even some crayons (which are not supposed to go into the electric sharpener … but that’s another problem all together). I told him to stop sharpening and to get going on the poster. This time I stayed close, working on my project side by side Noah on the floor in the kitchen. I watched anxiously as he painstakingly used a ruler to write each letter of the first guideline: plan ahead. He spent probably another 15 minutes doing this.

Now, I am admittedly a bit of a control freak. Motherhood has only enhanced this issue because I feel like, “If I don’t do it, it won’t happen at all and we’ll be stuck up a creek without a paddle”. So, on projects like these, I try to stand back and let the chips fall where they may, to teach a lesson. But when it came down to the last half hour and Noah had nothing actually “illustrated” like the directions asked … I had to step in. I told him to divide 5 (the rest of the guidelines he had to illustrate) into 30 (the minutes he had left to accomplish this), he came up with 6. Six minutes per guideline. I had to time him from that point on. He’d ask how much time he had as he drew and I’d tell him. We did it. It was finished.

I never wanted to be one of those moms that “nagged” but man, nothing gets done. Speaking of nothing getting done ….. I gotta go.

what happened to my Ray?


Ray has been my happiest baby by far … I use the past tense because it is a thing of the past. What happened to my sweet, happy Ray?

He used to be my pal. My little side kick. We’d eat breakfast together, talking about the berries in his yogurt and giggle about how they looked with yogurt on them. Not anymore. Now he cries because the yogurt is touching the berries. Or because the spoon is already in the yogurt, so he whips the spoon out, flinging yogurt everywhere (including all over himself) then cries because he now has yogurt on himself. He’s no fun anymore.

We used to meander outside, look at the lemon trees, water them and talk to one another about the flowers and then sniff them. Not anymore. Now he has serious opinions about wearing a sweatshirt or not and cries about it. He doesn’t like the shoes I put on him, or the socks, or the fact that I opened the door instead of him. He wants me to let HIM water the plants, but refuses to let me help him hold it, so then we both get wet when he jerks away and well … he’s no fun.

He cries all. the. time. About everything. He whines and cries and yells and his language has taken a turn for the worse. He used to try and copy what I would say. I’d get close to his face and help him repeat it. We’d touch each other’s lips and I’d stick out my tongue and so would he. We smiled. Not anymore. Now he just grunts and whines. I have to guess at everything he says.

I pick him up to go outside:
Ray: uh uuuuuuuh!!
Me: Ray, you don’t want to go outside?
Ray: uh uh.
Me: No?
Ray: uh UH!
Me: ok, no outside.
Ray: ahhhhhhhh!
Me: what? You want to go outside? Do you mean yes?
Ray: uuuuuuh ….
Me: Outside? Yes?
Ray: uh uh.
Me: Ok. (I put him down and walk away from the backdoor)
Ray: (crying, wailing, gnashing of teeth)
Me: (I pick him up to go outside – he goes straight as a board and screams like I ripped off a limb).

There are no winners here. He cries and is sad all the time and I feel like crying after spending 10-15 minutes with him at a time. The days are full of time outs in his room, lots of grunting, crying and questions. We are at an impasse. Everyday. All day. Nothing gets done and no one is happy.

The worst part is that I feel absolutely no empathy for him. at. all. He stares at me with his face covered in greek yogurt and honey, crying about something stupid like the placement of his spoon and I think, “Man! Do you have any idea how good you have it kid?!” So I put him in his room and let him cry it out until he’s more ready to deal with the world around him. Aaaaaand, he’s actually there right now – in his room. But lucky for me, I live in a two story house, so his crying is like the faint, distant crying of maybe someone else’s kid. I can imagine that it has nothing to do with me and I don’t have to worry about it for a few more minutes. Then it’s back to being a mom of a 2 and a 1/2 year old. ugh.

january 2015

Things are different here in California. I knew they would be, but wasn’t sure how that would translate. Turns out, they’re better different.

I can’t help but contrast my life here to my life where I was before, in Michigan, but it seems like an unfair comparison because things here are so drastically different in a positive way. I blog less. For no other reason than because I’m busy doing things. Fun things. Good things. Family things. In fact, it’s quiet this morning and has been the past 4 mornings because Christmas break finally ended and the boys are back at school. I have this new thing going on where I get the boys to school and Ray is still sleeping, so there’s this quiet morning hour where I have no kids to care for, it’s too early to practice singing and so nothing is pressing (except for laundry, that’s always pressing …. but don’t worry, I just try to ignore it until we’re going without underwear. Come to think of it, I’m on my last pair ….) and it’s just quiet and calm in my house. We just had visitors over the weekend and I’ve gotten comfortable with anywhere between 10-20 people roaming my house. When they all left on Monday morning, I scrambled around cleaning up and making myself busy, but then the past 3 mornings, I took the quiet time to: sleep, workout, take a bath, make really yummy oatmeal, make my bed, read an article out of the Ensign and right now, to blog.

It feels like I’m moving into a new phase of life – the older kids phase, and that is wildly different than Michigan. I know I still have a 2 1/2 year old but we’re going to start potty training this year and next year he’ll be in preschool and then what? I’ll be a real adult again, with time to dedicate to stuff. What stuff, I don’t know yet, but we’re on the cusp of this people!!

I hate that this is true, but I am one of those people that takes stock in January and makes goals. yes. goals. I do that. This year after the annual Family Home Evening where we talk about our yearly goals, I spent some real time coming up with a plan on how to display our goals in an artful way. Then I went to Staples, not once but twice! To print it out correctly. And truth be told, I’m going back today because the yellow didn’t print right and I needed a few more pictures ….. anyway, I’m THAT person.

So I’m taking stock of the past year, really the past year and a half here in SoCal and … it’s pretty nice. Daniel and I were planning the year and already have a few things on the calendar – a trip just for us to go snowboarding and do Vegas (cuz you can do things like that with a sister to watch kids, cuz you know she’ll turn around and have you watch her kids too), we’re planning to see Ian come home from his mission and be there in the airport, then take a ski trip as a family. Daniel will take a hiking trip to Havasu Falls in AZ with brothers. Then there’s Spring Break for heaven’s sake! And we’re only up to April! In the winter here we’re planning ski trips, Vegas, mountain biking, hiking and camping because that’s when it’s cool enough to do really active outdoor activities. Then the summer should be filled with beach trips, tide pools, our anniversary and NorCal trips. The Fall will bring our Halloween party, which I think I’m up for this year. Then Christmas might be together with the Damianos at a beach house in Newport! We’ll see. All of it is still in the wishing/planning stage, but it’s realistic. It was never that way in Michigan.

I love my MI friends, they made things better, but man it feels good to be home in CA.

I feel more at ease with motherhood even. I think a large part of that is that the boys are getting older and more self sufficient, but with each new phase comes its own challenges. But I’m ok with planning the boys’ soccer games and swim lessons, with taking Ray to the library and doing play dates. I don’t mind staying on top of allowance and homework. It doesn’t seem as overwhelming as before. It seems good and fun even. I feel settled into it. Maybe it’s the freshness of the new year, but I’m energized today, this quiet morning. And I think I’ll jump in the shower! 2015, here I come, showered and everything!

good day

Sometimes it’s just such a good day you have to make good “old fashioned clementine pound cake” to top it off :)

This morning Daniel took the boys to school. I love a day that starts with Ray and me waving goodbye to Daniel and the boys while still in our PJ’s. We went inside and promptly made a smoothie. Ray drank his smoothie while watching a Thomas show on Netflix while I drank mine while setting up the mantel. I recently redesigned the mantel with new black and white pictures and an aqua colored quote that says “Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured” by Gordon B. Hinckley. I love it.

I’ve been worried about making everything in the house earthquake proof, so today I tackled that. I secured the pictures on the mantel, then went into the boys’ room and secured the expedit bookcase to the wall and took glass out of frames. While I had the drill out …. I finally fixed the bathroom towel rack too! Ha! While in the bathroom … I gave Ray a much needed bath.

Then I decided I needed a break and laid down on my bed to look at pinterest. I found an awesome article by one of the general authorities and started reading about being meek and before I knew it, I had drifted into a cat nap. That is such a lovely thing to do. I only slept for about 20 minutes but to quietly drift into sleep while Ray played with trains next to me was a special kind of wonderful.

It was time to shower and sing. So I did. Showering is always awesome. I never take that for granted. I’ll bet at some point in my future life, I will take showers for granted … not now. A good day always includes a shower. Then I practiced singing. I have a performance coming up, so it was needed.

I had about ten minutes before I had to pick up Noah and Liam from school and I took that opportunity to look online for some piano books for Noah. I didn’t have much hope that I would find exactly what I was looking for … but then I did … and then I bought them … and they will be here in 2 days, before his next lesson. It was a total success.

When I picked up the boys from school I was bombarded with good news!! Liam said he got 100% on his math test that day and only 3 kids in his whooooooole class got 100%! Noah chimed in with news that he had just passed the next level of reading tests! I was so happy that we spent the rest of the ride home discussing which kind of cake we would make as a celebration.

We got home, put Ray down for a nap, and did homework. Noah finished all his chores in a flash, without any reminders and Liam finished his homework then helped me make the Old Fashioned Clementine Pound Cake. Liam finished his chores while I did dishes then the boys got to play computer games and I got a quiet 35 minutes to start cleaning the guest room. It wasn’t scrubbing the baseboards kind of cleaning, it was looking through old school papers and pictures kind of sorting and organizing type of cleaning. Full of memories and cute pictures. So delightful. Also, I don’t have to have the entire room ready for guests until this weekend, so I wasn’t crunched for time. It was leisurely and rewarding.

As I walked downstairs the air was full of smells of clementines, sugar and cinnamon – that right there will put you in a good mood.

It was 5 o’clock and time to get dinner on. We made homemade pizza. Ray was still babbling in his bed and the other boys were happily enthralled with Spiderman on TV, so I just took my time and made dough from scratch. Noah asked if he could help me cook and the boys both wanted to help. They were fighting over who could cook with me … how often does that happen??? I’ll tell you how often – never. But they were, so I had Noah help me make the sauce and roll out the dough. It was so pleasing to teach him how to fold the dough into 4ths to put it on the pizza pan, just like my mom taught me as a little girl. He giggled as he did it and said, “huh! So fourths?! I got it!”

I went upstairs and got Ray before he started crying and Liam jumped in and actually helped with Ray. Liam got him milk and played nicely with him while Noah and I finished up. Then Daniel walked in the door. I didn’t have to call and ask him if he was going to be super late. I wasn’t checking the clock. Daniel just called us on the way home and then came home. At a decent hour. BEFORE dinner. whaa?? Yeah. That kind of a day.

We ate together at the table, the boys shared their good news about what they’d accomplished at school and Ray ate his salad and showed everyone at the table that he could count to 4 (then he jumps to 7 and that’s the end). We finished off by downing some delicious clementine pound cake.

As I write, Liam and Ray are almost falling over giggling and trying to chase one another with a ball and each telling the other “that’s dangerous!” (about running). It’s funniest to hear Ray say so clearly, “that’s dangerous Leo!” (he calls Liam, “Leo”). Pure bliss.

I’m just going to finish this post, snuggle up on the couch with my lover and watch some good shows. It doesn’t happen all the time, but I guess that’s what makes this so sweet when it happens. Good day.

end of summer

Sooooo, it’s the last day of summer and tomorrow school starts … sort of. For some reason the school schedule here is retarded. For Wed, Thurs and Friday (the first 3 days of school) they are “minimum days” which means “we don’t really learn because we’re only in school for 10 minutes and of that 10 minutes 5 are spent in recess and at lunchtime”. Give me a break, if you’re going to start school, start it already! Don’t do 3 minimum days, just start 3 days later and do full blown school days. It’s almost not worth getting up at 6:45 am and getting the kids to school by 7:45 am, just to pick them up at 11:35 am! A waste, total waste. And don’t they know we moms are chomping at the bit to get these darn kids back into school??!

I don’t know how everyone else is doing, but I am fed up. I wonder some days what I was thinking when I decided to procreate. It doesn’t help that on this lovely last day of summer, my kids have been especially terrible. We’re going out with a bang here, by taking the car in to the dealership to get some recalls taken care of. Nothing worse than being in public, in a small room, waiting for hours for your car, with all of your children in close proximity to you. They said it would take 45 minutes, then 1.5 hours, then 2.5 hours after we were there the guy comes up to me and says, “I checked on your car and they said 10-15 more minutes and I even told them that you have all of your kids with you!” I had no sympathy or patience I just said, “yeah, whatever” and put both Liam and Noah on time out … for 10-15 minutes.

It’s not like there wasn’t stuff for the boys to do. They had an entire little room for children, with toys, seats, a magnetic wall, movies playing in Blu-ray and they even offered the boys snacks too! Granted, it was not a smart choice to give 3 boys chocolate muffins. There was chocolate on the floor in the children’s room and trailing out the door into the hallway for passersby to track everywhere with them. A little gift from me to them.

But a 20×20 room could not contain my boys, oh no. We decided to leave and take a walk after Ray started teetering on coffee tables outside of the children’s room and when I pulled him off, he fell to the floor (made it look like I pushed him too … total drama queen these days) and laid there in the hallway, face to the floor crying and kicking his feet. Thank you my little two year old. I picked him up, called for Liam and Noah to follow me and walked right out of the door and started down the street. We found a burger place within a few blocks and ate there for lunch …. also a bad idea.

I am beginning to think that there is no place for my children. They are wild, mean, ungrateful, loud creatures meant only for cages and the outdoors.

I thought getting some burgers in them would be good. I have to feed them right? Liam and Noah were ok, although, I can’t for the life of me get Noah to stop wandering around in large circles, knocking into people and things. Liam continues to say things too loud, whine and wander away in public places. My boys wander away from me everywhere – in stores, on sidewalks, in parking lots. Sometimes they just start walking towards the street or moving cars, with their heads down, staring at their own feet, mumbling. ??????! I have no words for this kind of behavior. It’s stupid and dangerous. I guess I do have words for this. Anyway, nothing more than the usual for Noah and Liam, but Ray was in rare form.

Ray has been in rare form for about 3 days now and I’m ready to sell him on craigslist. It’s pretty typical 2 year old behavior – yelling, “mine!” or “I do it!” or “NO!”, hitting, not sitting down anywhere at anytime, running away, throwing things, being wildly giddy then totally raving mad the next minute … it’s like they go insane for a year between 2-3 years old. Then their brain chemistry regulates and they act a little less mean.

Ray was doing all of this at the burger joint. He threw his drink on the floor and it burst everywhere, making a huge mess that the patrons had to step around and one slipped in (insert me apologizing and trying to mop up pink lemonade with 60 napkins while Ray keeps whining and yelling about his “deenk”). He refused to sit and when he finally did sit down to eat, he only ate fries, nothing else and then started pushing the stroller around, knocking into people and things. And while I’m playing defense on Ray, I look over at Noah and Liam, hoping they are close to done eating and I see them not eating anything, but staring out the window mindlessly. I had to snap them back into reality and set a fire under their buns to get eating or we’d leave and they’d be hungry. Finally, I had to go to the bathroom. So, I asked Noah and Liam to go to the bathroom and go potty and wash hands while I took Ray with me.

The bathrooms are right next to each other, so I could hear every bit of the shenanigans that was happening in the men’s bathroom. sigh. It just makes me tired thinking about it. Once outside of the burger place, I look over at the boys and they have ketchup and food all over their faces. Back into the bathroom to clean faces …

Once we walked back to the dealership I thought they would surely be done, since it had been 2 hours already and they had estimated 1.5 hours. Nope. We waited another 40 minutes before getting out. painful, just painful. And that was just half of the last day of summer. Right now I am listening to Ray, not sleeping, but yelling and crying from his room when he should be taking a nap. I WAS hearing banging and crashing about and yelps of pain from Liam and Noah until I put them on time out for the past 15 minutes. ugh. summer, just end already and get these unruly boys out of my house and learning, doing something useful! sheesh. And the fact is, they act waaaaaayyyyyy better for their teachers than they do for me, so get them out!