Setting the tone

Categories: Family, Happy Things

Last Friday I took our kids to the library for our regular every-third-Friday trip to the library. As they were wandering around, sitting in every chair to read their books, checking themselves out with the laser scanner, etc (all in the kids area), I saw an older gentleman watching and I could tell he was getting ready to say something about me having my hands full or something like that.

Checking myself out Have you seen this book yet?

Before he got the chance though I started the conversation with a big smile and said “We have a lot of fun.” Because we do. And that’s what I want my kids to hear adults talking about with regards to them. That they are a joy. That I have fun. That our life is a great adventure. I will not bash my husband in public and I will not do the same to my children. Enjoying our kids is a choice, and it’s a moment to moment choice I have to make, not even a day to day choice. And some times it’s a real hard choice and some times I choose differently. But I try real hard to enjoy them when we’re out in public because I never want them to hear me talking to others about them not being good or fun. Iddo asked me once what “hands full” meant and that’s when I knew we’d been hearing it too often.

As I talked with that proud grandpa that afternoon I realized that I’ve been taking that route, cutting in before strangers can say something stupid, a lot lately. And it’s made me enjoy going out a whole lot more. Besides, it allows me to set the tone for the conversation. When I start it I get to hear about their fun kids or grandkids. Instead of passing on misery we get to pass along joy.

Sharing

Categories: Gospel, Infertility

A question was posed in church this morning about why people dealing with certain trials needed to come out and tell everyone what their trials are. Shouldn’t they just keep that to themselves since it’s really nobody’s business to begin with? It was a very specific trial being discussed and not one I personally struggle with, but it made me think about my own trials, how much of them I share, who I share them with, and more importantly, why I share what I do about them.

One of my major mortal trials is my infertility. I will never get pregnant without the extreme efforts of medical specialists. Technically, the only people who really need to know about this are my husband and my doctor. It’s really nobody else’s business. And yet I often feel driven to share this trial with others, and for a variety of reasons.

I share so that others will know they are not alone. In a church with a strong emphasis on families and children, where people make off-handed comments about God sending so many children to the righteous women today, it can feel very isolating to not be able to have children or not be able to have as many as you would like. Knowing that others have been where you are, and kept moving forward, can really help you to move forward as well.

I share so that others will understand why I react the way I do in certain situations. Some baby showers I can go to. Other days it’s just too hard. Some days I can laugh off your question of if I’m pregnant or not. Other days I’m going to go home and sob some ugly tears. And before I was ever married and making actual plans for kids I was never one to play “pass the baby” with the babies of others (I wait for the mom to offer to let me hold the baby, I never ask), so after going through all we did to get them here, I’m rather possessive of our kids and I’ll-just-hold-them-the-whole-time-thank-you-for-the-offer-but-I’ve-got-this. At one point I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to hold my own babies in this world so I’m going to hold them as much as I possibly can now that I have the chance.

But the big reason I share my struggles is because of how my struggles, my weaknesses, my trials, have affected my relationship with my Heavenly Father. If I share my testimony of prayer it will include all the prayers we offered while undergoing treatment. If I share my testimony of family it will include all that I learned about the eternal nature of family while we experienced the loss of children we never got a chance to meet. If I share my testimony of Heavenly Father’s love for me it will include the peace He gave me when I was at my uttermost bottom. If I share my testimony of service it will include the strength I was given when I prayed not for myself, but for my husband who was suffering in his own way right along side me. If I share my testimony of fasting it will include the strength we felt from the fasts our families and friends did on our behalf.

I cannot explain to you who I am without explaining this part of me to you.

So no, you might not need to know the details of my mortal struggles. But if you don’t know my struggles you can’t know me.

I’m so crafty

Categories: Family, Happy Things, Infertility, Life

When we were struggling to get pregnant and wondering if and how we would ever have children, I started seeing this graphic online and it honestly bugged me.

crafty

Because I’m crafty gosh darn it! And several times I cried because of all the things I could make and do, I couldn’t make people. And yet I looked at the world and saw all kinds of people making other people and not appreciating what that fully means and seeing it as the incredible and miraculous blessing that it is.

Now, having had the blessing of being able to have children I can honestly say it is a singular experience unlike any other. And it is an incredible blessing. The potential that these mortal and imperfect bodies have is immense. And it has very little to do with my crafting abilities and what I can do with a sewing machine or a glue gun.

As part of this blessing I am so grateful I have been able to breastfeed our children as much and as long as I have. I will confess to not always enjoying the middle of the night ones, but even those have had a sense of the sacred about them. Not only was my body able to create these tiny humans, but it has helped them grow as well.

Knowing that my time nursing is limited and will probably end before I’m actually ready, in October we had a photographer come and record for us what it is like for me to get all three kids lunch and down for naps, including nursing our two little ones. It’s kind of a crazy time of day, but it’s one that we’ve worked out a real good routine for and it was great to have it recorded like this.

keeping watch
being watched
needing more cuddles

I hope I never forget what an incredible blessing it has been to be able to give birth to our children and help them grow. Nor do I want to forget that the role I played wasn’t the only role. It took me, Brett, our fertility doctor, the embryologist, the scientists and doctors over the last 40 years who made IVF as successful as it is today, a quick thinking/working OB who didn’t let Shimei die right before he was born, and God. He is the ultimate creator. Just look at all the people He’s made.

Not for their ears only

Categories: Family

There’s something about having a baby or small child with you that seems to give most people the impression they have the right, or even duty, to say or do stupid things. How many strangers’ heads would you rub or feet would you grab? Exactly. So why do strangers feel it’s okay to rub a baby’s head or grab their feet? Let’s think about this for a minute.

And then if you happen to have two babies (or from what I hear, three or four), then even more people feel it is their duty to remove their mouth filter and just say whatever happens to come to mind.

Thankfully most of the weird people say the same crazy things so by this point, over a year-and-a-half in to having twins, and having heard the stories of other moms before they were born so I could prepare myself, I’ve got some pretty standard answers to their pretty standard crazy.

But my replies aren’t just to help the stranger reattach their mouth filter. My replies are also in large part for the benefit of my kids, who also have to hear these crazy comments and who pick up on them.

One comment I hear a lot is “double trouble!” by some person thinking they are being clever or funny. I definitely don’t want my kids thinking they are trouble of any kind so I always reply to that one with “Nope. Double the fun!”

Another one I hear a lot is “you must have your hands full.” Now that one can seem innocent enough. Until you are trying to explain to your 3-year-old what “hands full” means because she’s heard it so often. How would you explain it? I told her it means you’re busy and have a lot to do and have a hard time doing it. Isn’t that what you think of when you hear the phrase? Would you want your kids thinking you have a hard time being their mom? Now there are moments where it’s hard, definitely, but I do not want them thinking that’s the status quo. Because I baby wear, I’ve had a lot of fun replying to this one most frequently by holding up my empty hands and saying, “Nope, hands free!” And even now that the two little ones are walking everywhere I’m still mostly hands-free. In fact, with their pack-packs, Shimri is often carrying my wallet and keys for me and Shimei is carrying the diapers so I’ve just got my phone in my back pocket. So still, hands-free!

Look kids! No hands! Ready to go!
Note: I’ve only ever actually worn all three kids once, for this photo.

Hopefully my replies help the stranger think about what they are saying and maybe filter a little better in the future. Thankfully I haven’t had anyone say “I’d kill myself if I had twins” (seriously! who says that? because I’ve heard stories) or “Better you than me” (to which the reply will be “we think so too”), but I hope my kids always only hear me talk about them in the best of terms. They’ll live up to what we expect of them and I expect a lot of fun and adventures, so that’s what I tell others we do when I know my kids can hear.

I love to see the temple

Categories: Gospel

Brett and I have attended the temple together every month (except the month right after Shimri and Shimei were born when he represented our family alone) since before we were married. As it takes us two hours each way to get to the temple, the whole family goes and it’s a whole day trip and we always come home with doughnuts. We are blessed to have friends and family near the temple who help us watch our kids so we can serve in the temple.

And then I realized we kept telling Iddo we were going to the temple, and she loved going and getting the doughnuts and playing with our friends, but she wasn’t even seeing the temple. And that wasn’t right.

In July of last year during a Relief Society lesson on temples a friend talked about how she would take her children into the foyer of the temples because you don’t need a recommend to go there. When we stopped at the Gilbert temple on our way home in September last year so Iddo could see the Angel Moroni on the top (she has a thing for Angel Moroni), I remembered that comment and took her inside to sit down for a few minutes. It was only a few minutes (she wasn’t even 2.5 at the time). But she sat quietly. Looked around. And I could tell she felt the difference.

Since then we’ve made it a regular part of our monthly trips to take her back to the temple after we pick the kids up and we take turns going into the foyer with her. This July as we left dinner after serving in the temple she said, “Let’s go get doughnuts and then take me to the temple. I don’t want to miss going to the temple.”

I don't want to miss going to the temple.

As Shimri and Shimei get bigger we’re letting them explore the temple grounds right now. Soon we’ll let them sit in the foyer for a bit too.

Soon we’ll have a temple we can serve in here in Tucson. After the ground breaking for the Tucson temple we’ve tried going up regularly to watch the progress. What started as going to see the “temple hole” has turned into a beautiful building. We’ve truly enjoyed taking Iddo to watch as she already has a special understanding of the sacred nature of temples.

Watching it get big Looking to the future.
I love to see the temple

Plans

Categories: Happy Things, Life

When I was 15 I made a plan for my life. I was going to go on a date with J and it was going to be great. After graduating high school I was going to attend BYU and get a degree in elementary education. I would serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and thought England would be a great place to go although I knew that I wouldn’t get to pick where I served. I’d get home and get married on February 2, 2002, at 2pm because that is the coolest date ever. And then I’d have kids and be a mom. The end.

And then my life actually happened.

I did go on a date with J. It was nothing special and even as it ended I thought to myself that I could’ve skipped out on that and not missed anything in life. I did go to BYU and got a degree in elementary education, with a minor in computer science (my minor wasn’t part of my 15-year-old plan). I did serve a mission for the LDS church and went to Brasil. I ended up student teaching in Mexico (not part of the original plan). February 2, 2002, came and went and I wasn’t even dating anyone.

The list of things that have happened so far that I couldn’t even begin to imagine at 15 is a rather wonderful list. It involves graduate degrees, belly dancing, community theater, getting married on maybe not the coolest date ever but instead on the most absolute perfect date ever to someone I couldn’t have even dreamed of at 15. It involves struggle and pain, sorrow and joy. And yes, it did eventually involve having kids (twins never would’ve been in my 15-year-old plan, I wasn’t that crazy).

But that hasn’t been the end yet. And thank goodness for that.

I still have plans for the future, but there’s not really a time line to it any more. And I’m much more open to all the different things that will come up along the way. In fact, I’m looking forward to all the ways my plans will go awry.

Teaching the little ones

Categories: Books, Education, With the Kiddos

I remember when this Luvs commercial came out and I couldn’t believe there would be moms who would actually think flash cards were an appropriate way to interact with babies and toddlers. I thought for sure this was some stretch of the truth they did to make the commercial funny.

And then we had Iddo and I found myself in online communities of moms who were asking for flash card recommendations and comparing tricks to get toddlers to sit still and pay attention to the flash cards. Apparently this craziness was an actual reality.

In true mom fashion these women were making teaching their kids harder than it needed to be and piling the guilt on themselves when reality didn’t match their fantasy.

Teaching kids is definitely important and needs to start as soon as birth (and does, whether you realize it or not), but it does not need to be complicated. In my professional opinion, and I went to school long enough to have a professional opinion on this, teaching kids is really quite simple.

Read to them every day. If it’s a book that’s 1 minute long, great. If you’re reading a longer book out loud while they run around, perfect. And let them see you interact with physical books too.

Sing to them. The rhythm and rhymes help them learn new words quickly.

Talk to them. Narrate your day. Describe what you’re seeing and doing. Ask them what they’re seeing and doing, even if they don’t have the ability to answer back yet.

Draw, color, scribble, paint with them. Until Iddo had the mental ability to understand when we told her to only color on coloring pages her crayons were something I controlled, but they came out regularly.

Play with them. Run. Jump. Climb. Spin. Build block towers and knock them down. Nobody, even adults, is meant to sit still for long. Little kids need to be moving and exploring and discovering. Someone will make them sit still for longer than they want to some day. For now, let them move.

That’s it. No flash cards required. A library card definitely comes in handy, but it doesn’t take any special skills, schedules, or big plans to teach children. The reading, singing, talking, playing, and even the coloring to some extent, all happen as they naturally come up during the day.

So put the flash cards down and stop it with the unnecessary guilt and stress. You’ve got this.