Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A quandry

Summer is here, so basically my house is a disaster area. Despite the fact that we have the kids do chores each day I seem to go to bed each night amidst an amazing amount of clutter and mess. This is such a quandry to me, because I feel I've spent ALL of our summer so far playing drill seargant when it comes to the kids and their daily chores. I've long been an advocate for the idea of raising kids that can take care of themselves, so we have for some time expected the kids to clean up after themselves and contribute to the general "tidy-ness" of the house (bathrooms, weeding in the garden, it's all about teaching them how to do this for themselves some day...). Why is it that when the day is over, and I feel I've spent most of it hounding my kids to clean things or fold things or deliver things to their proper places, I see all around me a royal mess just waiting to be cleaned or folded or delivered the next day?

The kids are roused at 7 a.m. each morning so we can have some family time before John leaves for work (we are the religious type, so we read scripture for a minute or two, have a prayer as a family and just try to build unity for 15-20 minutes each day, does wonders I tell ya). The kids have a list of chores they are responsible for each day; 4 solid daily tasks(the regular make your bed, pick up your room, dress yourself and practice the piano) and then 2-3 that change day to day or week to week(like clean and vacuum the den or clean a bathroom or weed a portion of the vegatable garden). These jobs could be finished, complete, sionara to the work for the day in about 90 minutes (may sound like a hard grind for little munchkins, but they can change laundry loads and empty dishwashers and I'm utterly pleased with this fact). It usually takes them until 1-2 p.m. to actually complete the tasks. INSANE I tell you, how they drag these mundane jobs out for hours on end. They act utterly punished, defeated and obstinate most mornings, and I feel like the most loathing creature on the planet as I try to remind them to work faster and just get it over with. Love summer, I do; but I hate this part of it for sure. It seems such a horrific waste of time for all of us that they putz around the house instead of "bustin' a move" and getting these little jobs crossed off their to-do lists for the day so they can be lazy and care free and feel like summer is acutally fun...

Just wish I could open the young minds to the concept of efficiency; they'd have so much more time to play and I'd have so much more time to do my own chores instead of wandering around supporting their lengthy efforts each and every day. If anyone out there has ideas on how to incite speed in the family work place I'm all ears. My summer is so far piddling away as I encourage my kids to finish their little jobs sometime before the sun sets on their days of summer fun!

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Honestly, I'm not quite sure how to word this entry. Lucy, it seems, has now decided that walking is better than crawling. This realization came to her last Sunday after church, and for a week now she has been practicing, tooling around the house, turning with the cutest little "spin" I've ever seen (one foot solidley planted on the ground while the other foot is mobile, turning Lucy's body in her desired direction...). It is a great accomplishment for her, and I am a beeming mom concerning her ability and her mobility.

or am I? Truly, when Lucy crossed the kitchen on two feet I had the most unexpected reaction. I cried, and I cried again. My life as the mom of babies has come to an end, and there is something in this truth that brings into my heart a sense of lost identity. While I can jump for joy that all my children can now walk upright, thus opening the way for them to all potty themselves, dress themselves, eventually make their own beds and even wash a dish or two, it also means that I am aging as a mother. My abilities to pull all-nighters and make meals with hands full of little bodies will soon become obsolete. And just when I was getting good at it. Soon will be gone the time when Good Night Moon is read by rote to little ears before bed. Soon will be gone walks around the block taken at my pace because I'm the one pushing the little bodies in the stroller. No more cradling as babies fall asleep in my arms at church. No more baby magic lotion, no more whole milk in the fridge for that bedtime bottle and cuddle. This part of my life is in its sunset, and the day of babies will close for me.

I know it is all part of life, and that now I must evolve into that other mom who can manage schedules for ballet practices, various school start times (Jr. High, Elementary and Pre-school to be exact) and listen to complex problems involving what a friend said at school that was crushing and how my teenager accidentally started the food fight in the cafeteria. I need to be the mom who can deliver forgotten lunches, help on the PTA boards and volunteer in the community when all the kids are happy in school (Lucy will be my only charge 3 mornings a week come September, crazy to only have one carseat to buckle, and one body to transport to and from the grocery store or the schools etc.). I have to be the mom who is young at heart as I try to age gracefully while fitting in a work out each day and kindly turning down the treats. I can do that, I'm sure I can. I'll like it too-especially come the day when all the diapers can be handed down to younger nieces and nephews and everyone learns how to flush for themselves...

But, this baby era of my life while challenging has been defining. And now that clear definition is fuzzy. Hard stuff for a gal in her mid-30's. Aging and maturing has never been something I've done with great dignity. Wish me luck , it could be a shaky evolution from mom of babies to mom of big kids. I hope as the dawn of my "mature" mothering approaches I can be what my big ones will need for me to be. Change can be good if embraced and welcomed in. Hello new day I guess. I'm ready to face you.
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Big Splash Birthday

Yesterday was Porter's 5th Birthday party. Totally fun. Porter is at an age that a mom can adore. Still small enough to have wonder and awe when it comes to all things parental ("your the best mom", "I always want to be with you mom", "wow mom, you can do anything") and enough independance to keep the messes to a minimum. On a recent pediatrician visit i expressed to our doctor that if I had a guarantee that another Graham would be just like Porter I'd have another Graham. The doc called this a very strong endorsement indeed, as those words left my mouth with Molly screaming and clinging to my pant leg and Lucy screaming and grabbing at my shirt...but Porter is great, just simply great.

So planning a big swimming party (in the dicrepid swimming pool in our back yard) was a pleasure. Especially since I have actually and truly finally embraced the truth that kids turning 5 don't need fireworks to feel they've had a great party. An ice cream cake, a pinata (in the likeness of a crocodile) and the back yard pool were enough for Porter to feel like he'd been handed the moon. We even topped this with stuffing the pinata with candy, and passing around floaty noodles and blow up aligators from the dollar store as party favors. Porter felt he was on cloud nine. And because my mom and two of my sisters were around to help me throught the chaos of 4 other 5 year olds and all of our cousins i thought it was all pretty fun too. Here's to turning 5, Happy b-day to Porter!
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Thursday, June 07, 2007

No Pics...

In an effort to regain some of my writing skills I'm really trying to blog at least a few times each week. I thought after last summer's prolific blogging that I'd continue to find charming and interesting pieces of my life to comment about and that I'd share them all on the web for others to see me as wise and funny. Not so. Life with 6 kids and a dog has truly taken over any hope of writing articles for Real Simple or Sunset and even for writing in full length book version our adoption story. I can't even get a blog in, like I'm going to fit a book into my life :) Add that to the fact that it is work for me to take and download pics of anything fun to blog about that isn't my kids and that makes the whole blog thing seem a little more difficult. But yet, I try anyway... So sorry for two entries without graphics to back up my thoughts-hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to pontificate on my very mixed up feelings about the fact that Lucy now walks wherever she goes (and I have a picture to prove that...). I am no longer the mother of an infant, nor do I believe I will be again in this life time. Identity crisis to be sure.

My partner in crime and parenting is headed to one of our former hometowns tomorrow. J goes back to Dallas to visit old colleagues from the Boston Consulting Group. How interesting what life throws you. Things might be a changing - again - for the Grahams.

So I'm off to make sure he has all the socks and underwear he wants to pack in his overnight bag, and to kiss my sleeping kids one more time before I go to sleep. Hopefully my entry tomorrow will have lovely photos and deep thoughts. For now, good night.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

IKEA is open...

One of our family's best adventures was living in Stockholm Sweden. We left there over 6 years ago, and our stay was only 18 months; but you'd think we'd been there much longer for all the love of things Swedish we came home with. We sing "happy birthday" in swedish, we eat some (not all; no thanks on the pickled herring) swedish meals, and we celebrate swedish holidays like midsummer (coming ever so quickly) and Santa Lucia Day. John actually has some swedish ancestory, so we take full advantage of that fact and exploit all we came to love about the culture as just being part of who we really are...

Well, recently in the Salt Lake Valley one of Sweden's best contributions became available. IKEA. Cheap, cool stuff in a giant warehouse. That is what IKEA is. A place where awesome design meets chinese production know-how and the company passes along it's dirt cheap production costs on to the consumer. Brilliant Swedish thinking. I haven't personally visited IKEA yet, but the day is soon coming. Been waiting for the crowds to ebb a bit (truly, our most congested freeway became unbearabley jammed with traffic for over a week just because of the store's grand opening). I know I'll buy lots of cheap things I don't really need. It's o.k., its IKEA, you can afford to splurge a little...

Difference is, I won't just be savoring the awesome textiles or the fun kid's plates, I'll be enjoying the Swedish farm cheeses and Saft berry drink concentrate in the store's food imports boutique. This is what makes me a self proclaimed partial SWEDE; I know what they'll be selling there, and I will know what it will taste like when I serve it for dinner next week because, hey, I've had it before, in SWEDEN. Make no bones about it, I love it that some of my life was lived in a foreign land, and that people in that foreign land speak a foreign tongue, eat foreign foods and live a foreign life (1 year maternity leave and 50% tax rate, totally foreign to me). I feel happy to have adopted a little of the Svensk tradition, and my pilgrimige to all things designed for swedes by swedes is just one way I show it. IKEA, here I come! Valkommen!