Sunday, May 30, 2010

My Kids Asked Me For Fashion Advice!

With the school's uniform policy and because I'm no fashionista, I've never cared--or even really realized--that my school-age children don't ask me for input about their outfits. I'm just grateful that they understand my reasons for requesting modesty and they have generally embraced that value for themselves.

Then Tuesday came, and they all wanted my fashion advice. I was flattered. Finally they viewed me as an trend expert. You see, they were celebrating "Decades Day" as part of School Spirit Week, and they needed to know all the weird things we did with our clothes in the '80s.

The memories came flooding back as I helped #1 layer two pairs of colorful socks and peg her pant legs. #2 went with a skirt over leggings. I think they both kind of thought the flipped up polo and jean jacket collars were kind of cool, even as they laughed about how dorky they looked. #2 was incredulous as she asked if my mom really helped me with side pony tails when I was younger, but #1 loved the big hair. I just wish she'd had bangs that I could hairspray into a fan. Hightops, parachute pants with stirrups, and long charm or bead necklaces would have been nice to have too.

I had to laugh with #3 who wanted to be from the 70s. She found some wide-legged jeans, a rocking T-shirt, and a denim jacket from her own wardrobe that all worked pretty well. All I had to do was feather her hair a bit and she was ready. Funny how those trends have come full circle.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Humbling Experience

There's nothing like shopping for a swimsuit to take you down a few notches.

The board shorts I've been wearing for the last couple years have apparently resized themselves in my drawer each winter. The waistband has gotten progressively smaller and the length isn't hiding the stretch marks on my thighs as well as it used to. I've also never been a fan of my halter-top tankini. To hide some cleavage, I sewed in a piece of fabric when I first bought it; but I still always worry that the tie behind my neck will come undone or stretch to unacceptable lows.

A month ago I saw a billboard for Lime Ricki modest swimwear directing me to check out their retail site. They do a lot of online business, but given the option, I thought I would rather try on a few suits to avoid the process of returns by mail. While I was in Salt Lake County visiting a friend who had come into town, we made a stop at the swimwear store.

I learned two things:
1) Lime Ricki's target audience is teens. Maybe young women in their early 20s. Not so much women in their mid-30s. They must be in cahoots with my board shorts at home because they somehow mislabeled all their sizes. Their patterns were cute, but their cuts, although modest, still...
2)...revealed flab between my neck and torso that I hadn't known existed. I guess when everything is being squeezed in the middle, the excess is bound to spill out the top and bottom. (This suit looks cute on the internet; not so much on me.)

I did fall in love with the store's board skirts, which hang down to mid-thigh. And I settled on a tankini top that matched the skirt, the operative word being "settled".

Lucky for me, Wal-Mart came to my rescue. When I stopped there for groceries on my way home, I noticed a tankini top that would match the board skirt I'd bought, and it had wide shoulder straps. So I went through the trying process of again trying on spandex and discovered two more things:
1) Wal-mart knows its customers well.
2) The suits were much more forgiving and the size I like to think I wear fit me at Wal-mart.

I went to a second Wal-Mart last night to help #2 buy herself a swimsuit; at least, that was my excuse. After that third round of fittings, I came home with a second swim set: a cute skirted bottom almost as forgiving as the board skirt and a tankini top that has wide shoulder bands and a high, scooped neckline. Yes!!!

All that remains in this battle of swimwear is to make the returns. And maybe to skip my late-night bowl of ice cream a little more often.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Evolution of a Blog

I've noticed that a lot of my friends' blogs go through more or less the same development. They begin as an online scrapbook of photos memorializing family events and kids' accomplishments. Every child's birthday is recorded with a post about what an important part that child is in the family. Then more random posts start dropping in showing the humor of parenthood. These types of posts are usually accompanied by the blogger's (usually a female) musings about life, politics, favorite memories, the future, etc.

My blog has followed a similar evolution, and now it has reached a stage of me not knowing what to post and not having much time to post even if I think of something. I'll call this the stagnant stage. From here, I predict that this blog will either fizzle or become fresh and fun and draw a huge following. In the meantime, I apologize for the inactivity. My lack of time on the internet means my family and house are getting more of my attention, so I can only apologize with partial sincerity to be neglecting my blog.

I'll wrap up with a tangent. Did you know that May 30 is "My Bucket's got A Hole In it Day"? Why would anyone want to recognize such a day, and what kind of person takes the time to get that day officially on the calendar? Weird.

I just looked it up. It's based on a drinking song, so I guess that explains some of my question.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

...Outside the Box: Exercise

Years ago we bought a gym membership...that we never used. Well, maybe three or four times, which "works out" (ha!) to something like $200 per visit. Luckily, we were able to sell it and recoup some of that cost. A year later we got into the "Body For Life" program, and I still use its basic concepts for exercise, though my routine is slightly different than most people's. In the room we call our office, we have a weight set and Cardioglide (like the Health Rider machine that was so popular 20 years ago). Every other day I get an aerobic workout while watching downloaded episodes of American Idol or SYTYCD on the computer. The other days I listen to classical music or downloaded radio shows while I do some weight training. I can't watch a show while I'm working with dumbbells because half the time I'm lying down.

Kent also has a unique workout. He bought a mini trampoline last year at the advice of his mom. It's been great to keep in our TV room. "Jogging" for 40 minutes while we watch a show is an easy way to dovetail downtime with workout time. The kids frequently just bounce for fun. I've even used the trampoline as part of a clean-up game. (That would make another good "...Outside the Box" post.)

Kent's preferred exercise is to shower and get dressed for the day, then watch music video clips on YouTube while he bounces. (The laptop is hooked up to the TV.) I'm glad he's getting his blood moving, but it creates a major distraction for the kids who are supposed to be eating breakfast and running out the door at that time. Still it's fun. His favorite "workout videos" are anything by OK Go, U2, or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Five Scheduled Births: Baby #5

In July of 2005, Kent and I got a surprise: I was pregnant, which I confirmed with my first-ever drugstore pregnancy test. I spent the next two days being upset because I was happy with my routine as mom and having my body to myself. I did not look forward to the next year-and-a-half of changing sizes, being achy with pregnancy, sore with nursing, and sleep deprived. But with prayer, I got used to the idea and accepted it as God's will. I knew that there would be a son in our family, so I was grateful that his spacing would be close to #4 at 27 months. At 16 weeks I went in for my first prenatal appointment and the clinic ordered an ultrasound. Because I had waited so long to go to a doctor, they confirmed for me at that first appointment that this baby was a boy. Kent was in shock for a few days after seeing the ultrasound picture, but he eventually warmed up to the idea of being a dad to a son.

When I was one week over my due date, my new doctor decided to induce labor. I told him I always progressed quickly, so he decided I could just report to the hospital in the morning and maybe have the baby on his lunch break from his clinic. At 6:15 a.m. as Kent and I were driving away from our neighborhood on Geneva Rd., the car started jerking and slowed down. Kent pulled over right as the engine stopped. We had run out of gas for only the second time ever! High fuel prices had gotten us in the habit of fueling up whenever the prices dipped. Unfortunately, the "empty gas tank" light had burned out, so we didn't know we were that low! Kent hitched a ride, and when he told the driver we were on the way to have a baby, the driver waited for Kent to fill the gas can and drove him back to our car. (I love Happy Valley.)

Rising healthcare costs meant prostiglandin was no longer offered, so when we got to the hospital I got started right away on pitocin and asked for an epidural while they were at it. Then Kent and I tuned into "American Chopper" while my body started contractions. After three-and-a-half hours, the epidural completely wore off. Giving myself more medicine did nothing, and the anesthesiologist's "extra strong meds" also did nothing. At that point, I was dilated eight centimeters and felt all of the transition to ten. My awesome nurse, Ann, helped me breathe through contractions that were literally only a few seconds apart. Within a few minutes I was at ten centimeters and ready to push the baby out. But there was no doctor! The nurses had called him three times with each call increasing in urgency as my labor progressed rapidly to delivery. Ann asked me to breathe through several more strong contractions--do you realize how difficult it is to ignore the pushing urge and just breathe through that pain?--and then she promised me that she would only ask me to breathe through one more before she would deliver the baby herself, which sounded dandy to me! Just then, another nurse ran in to say she had seen Dr. Gordon's car pulling into the lot. A moment later, we heard him running down the hall yelling, "Thanks a lot for making an old man run!" (I had warned him my babies come quickly!) As soon as he took his seat, I began pushing and my son was born in only three or four tries. Kent cut the umbilical cord, Dr. Gordon finished with the afterbirth and explained he had six ladies waiting for exams back at the office, and he took off. (That man was way overscheduled--but he was a good doctor, and on my fifth baby, I didn't much care about getting lots of attention.)

#5 was born at 11:58 a.m. on May 2. At 8 lbs. 10 oz. he was my biggest baby. He and I came home 24 hours after he was born so we could get some real rest. Kent chose his first name, which means "fifth child"--how original, right? As soon as I knew I was pregnant, I knew what my son's name was supposed to be, so he goes by his middle name. He was an easy baby for the first few weeks, and didn't spit up like my girls did. (My theory is it was because I switched to soy milk from cow's milk.) However, he did become a difficult baby, which he grew out of around age eight months when he finally got mobile. He had big (for a baby) hands and could hold his head up from day one. He's now a sweet little guy whom people love to be around. You should see him work a crowd! We are so grateful for our surprise gift from Heavenly Father, and we all love him dearly.

This ends my series of birthing posts--for good! I developed very painful varicose veins with that last pregnancy, which were somewhat incapacitating, and I don't think I could do another one. However, I'm not opposed to adopting a child who already sleeps through the night and is potty trained. It would be fun to have a brother for #5, but only if I can skip all the annoying parts of pregnancy and babyhood!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Putting the "Fun" in Funeral

Maybe you can't say any funeral is "fun" exactly, but I really do enjoy funerals and the past two days have been the best funeral experience I've ever had.

Kent's Gramma Dixie passed away last Saturday from complications of old age. I have not felt to grieve about the loss, mostly because I've had a good relationship with her and I had no regrets about unspoken conversations or missed opportunities to be with her. She broke her femur last Thanksgiving-ish and I think we all knew her time left in this life would be finishing. As her children expressed, we were blessed to have five more months with her after we almost lost her last Fall. This photo of Gramma with her six kids was taken in February of 2008.

Gramma Dixie is one of those bright, artistic spirits who is full of the gospel's light and who is full of life. Her mantra was to sit long, talk much, visit often, and always dance in the rain. She lived that way until the end. She was never too old to dance with her great grandchildren or miss a good party. That's why I think she probably loved her funeral.

Thursday night was the first viewing at the mortuary. A lot of people commented on how much it felt like a joyous reception. Gramma's artwork was displayed along with a video of pictures from her life and scrapbooks to record our favorite memories of her. But what really picked up the atmosphere was the noise volume of conversations. I don't thing the funeral home has ever had such a loud group. At one point, my children started dancing because there was such a happy spirit there.

Friday morning was another viewing followed by the funeral service. The Relief Society room was packed with standing room only when the family met for the prayer. In the chapel, the family filled almost all of the center pews, which was a spectacular thing when we all stood halfway through the program, turned to face the audience, and sang "We'll Bring the World His Truth" as a tribute to the missionary work Gramma Dixie and Grandpa Guy did together. It was a very emotional service, but in a very good way. We would all be laughing at a story one moment, and shedding sweet tears the next as we thought about the many ways she touched each of our lives. Kent and I never felt sadness at losing her; we just felt a lot of emotions.

Following the funeral we went to the cemetery. The rain and hail accompanied by bagpipes made the mood perfect as we dedicated her grave and said our last goodbyes. Her ward provided a lunch for our large group, which I appreciate greatly. After such an emotion-filled day, it was nice to not break the sequence of events with a trip out for fast food.

In the afternoon when the sunshine came out, Gramma's descendants met in her home where the grandchildren shared their stories of her, we sang her "Prune" song, and tried on her clothes. It was very spiritual, and fun too. The party moved on to Kent's aunt's house where we finished off the funeral potatoes and gathered around the TV for the Jazz game or around our aunt's bedroom for more stories. I love that my children's memory of the day includes climbing into bed with their Grammy and Kent's aunts to reminisce together.

Gramma was a great matriarch, and the size and closeness of her family yesterday demonstrates to me how important that role is. While sharing stories, we realized--"we" being her 75 direct family members--that each of us felt like her favorite. What a great legacy that is! One of Kent's uncles took me aside yesterday to say I remind him of Dixie, which brought me to tears. I feel like I am a far cry from the great and humble lady she is, but I do want to be more like her.

It was a perfect day.