Saturday, May 25, 2013

Oliver Bear turns 4

Dear Oliver,
Today you turn 4 years old and I can't believe how fast it's gone, how funny you are, and how much I love you. Four is a big number, it's almost all the fingers on one hand and you are so excited about getting to be a 'big boy'. This is in important term, as you keep reminding me that you are a 'big boy' and not to call you my 'baby'. But right now, kiddo, you are the baby in the family.
You are such a cute kid- people who see you coming ruffle your hair as you walk on by because you are so cute. "He's so cuuuute" people say to me. I know exactly what they are talking about. You are.

You love to play. Trains are your favorite right now- Thomas the Tank Engine is a big deal for you, but you're starting to get into things like Legos and Star Wars but only because Dad and James are, I think. Your best friends are Elijah Cosby and Westley Roberts- but because you have a hard time saying "l", you pronounce them "E-wai-jah" and "Wes-wee". It's. Adorable.
And because you're an easy-going guy, who will do anything that looks fun and have a good attitude about it all the time, everyone loves having you come over to play. You get along great with all the kids and when something is not right, you are full of righteous indignation. Sometimes.
Sometimes you can be a pill.
Sometimes you push all your big brother's buttons just to get him in trouble.
And that's annoying.

You love to help me cook. If I'm in the kitchen, you want to be there too, helping me make whatever I'm making. I think you'll be a great cook one day. You also love to wear the Captain America kitchen apron. It's a bit big, since you're tiny, but it's so cute. You're like a puppy. Big Head, tiny body. Irresistible.

You love to ride bikes, draw volcanoes with chalk, read books, snuggle, watch movies, eat popcorn, look at bugs, find things, dress-up like a pirate, and do most outside things.
I say "most" because there is one thing you hate.
I personally do NOT understand this, but you HATE HATE HATE big areas of water, swimming, even floating in a water-floatie just makes you angry with fear, and you end up screaming yourself hoarse. Every.Time.
This will not go on. I'm just letting you know now, so when you find yourself reading this years down the road, you will thank me for putting you in the strictest swimming lessons I could find. You. May. Not. Drown. Not while you are my child. So, while you'll probably hate me all summer, at least you will be alive.

We love you, Oliver Bear! You're my sunshine, a funny little love, a sweet boy, a swarthy pirate and a punk, but always we love you to bits!
Happy 4th Birthday to you!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

It's Dad Day

It's Dad Day today.
I've decided to celebrate my Dad every May 8th, instead of waiting until Father's Day because of two things:
One, today is the day that one year ago, my father passed away
Two, he is such a cool guy, that I think 2 days should be used to talk about how neat my Dad is.

Who else could ever play Santa Claus?! My Dad was the best. Even after his original suit got stolen (! I know, WHO steals a hand-made completely velvet and fur Family Heirloom Suit?! The Karma is staggering),
He still played Santa for years! 

This picture has something my Dad loved to do: cook meat on a grill to perfection. You can see the grill in the background. He was also a big fan of smoking. Meat, that is. 

In addition to being a grill-master, my dad was also incredibly adept in the kitchen. He was tremendous with pastries. Here he is with James when James was only one. I love how intensely focused they both are.

This beauty shot was taken by my parent's good friend in Canada. It is my favorite Simpson Family picture of ALL TIME.

My dad always loved a good running joke. Captain Morgan.

It was rare to see my Dad without his trusty RayBan Wayfarers. In fact, they became a bit of a trademark.

I made this Quilt for my Dad. It was his family quilt that he could use in Dialysis so he could keep warm, and keep us all with him. He did not actually use it for that. Which, in all honesty, I'm a little bit perturbed about. But I'm sure he had his reasons- NONE of which ought to be that there was burnt-orange in the fabric. I tried to stick with as much Maroon and White as I could.

Mom took this photo, but it has all Simpson Children in it (Jacob is on a Mission, so he has to make do with being in a frame).

I love this photo.

Lest I forget, my dad loved to play in the dirt and get dirty. Even more, he loved getting everyone ELSE dirty too. Especially if he got to use cool tools to do that. Exhibit A: tiny diggers at the SLC Zoo. Yup. Sand Fight. 

More Zoo.

Dad was great at taking photos. He was always ready with a smile and (rarely) complained. At least, I never heard it.

It's been exactly one year. I don't feel like he's 'GONE' in capital letters. I still feel like he's just 'right there', like, I could call him from the next room and he'd bellow, "What do you want?". Occasionally I feel sad- sad that I can't just talk to him on the phone, ask for advice, hear the latest (bad) joke, or him gloating about what he's eating for dinner. That part is awful.
I still have photos, memories, e-mails, handwritten notes. And that's good.
alright, now I'm crying.
I miss my Dad.
But I know it's not for forever.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Staying Home

I realize I haven't posted anything for a long time. Not that there aren't things to write about, it just happens that at the end of the day, I would much rather spend a little time with my husband than write about "things", trying to find an appropriate picture to match the post, and in all other ways be a "blogger".
This may come as a shock. But I'm no blogger.

But something happened last night that I think is really important that I would actually LIKE to write about. So here we go.

Last night, D and I were sitting in the concert hall waiting for the Giuseppe Verdi's Requiem to begin. As the hall filled, there was a couple sitting behind D who were conversing with people next to D. So, naturally, we could hear everything being said. Not like we were eavesdropping. We weren't. It was just one of those inescapable situations.
The lady who was talking mentioned to her friend that she had enjoyed the privilege of staying at home with her children all the way through their school years.
This seems like a small statement, but I was so glad to hear it.

It IS a privilege to stay home with my children. Sometimes I feel like I need to justify my mom-status to people I meet, or people I know. That somehow, being a stay-at-home mom is not enough. That I need to be doing more "acceptable" things than being with my kids.

Hearing that woman last night was a breath of fresh air. She was not ashamed of being a stay-at-home mom. And I don't have to be either.

Sure, it's nice to be able to say: I have this and this degree, I do this and this in the community, I volunteer here and here, I I I I I. But is that what is MOST important? Really?

I'll be honest. Sometimes I have a VERY difficult time being a mom. There are really only a few things that I can actually stand to play and unfortunately, my boys are not interested in them. They want to play trains, cars, star wars, dress-up. They want to do the things that I have NO interest in. But I try to do it anyways. Why? Because it matters to them. I don't want to do laundry (it's the worst chore, no?). I don't want to clean a kitchen 3 times a day, or pick-up the legos my kids missed. But I DO want the things that doing the I-don't-want-to's bring. I DO want my kids in clean clothes, playing on a clean floor, eating good food that I can make for them. I DO want my kids to have an imagination. I DO want them to appreciate nature, listen to and learn to play good music, and know how to have fun with very little. I don't want them to become a slave to technology. I DO want them to be independent and learn to use the power of words. They should be curious, excited, engaged, and occasionally crazy. They are kids, after all. Those are things that stay-at-home moms teach kids to do. What to be. We have all the power in the world.
People who make policy, who sit at heads of state, who manage economies- they have nothing on the strength and power of a mom. Who are they? Elected or appointed. Temporary. Dispensable. Forgettable.
But who is a mom? Permanent. Included. Indispensable. Forever. Unforgettable. (for good or for ill, ask any psychiatrist)
And here's the best part: a Mom does not need to be the woman who actually gave birth to you. All adopted children know that.
A mom is the one who loves you and sticks with you and supports you and encourages you and helps you up when you fall NO MATTER WHAT.
But that comes at a price.
And sometimes that's a heavy price for a smart, educated, driven, ambitious woman to bear.

I gave up a LOT to be a stay-at-home mom and I know FOR A FACT that my cohorts in the mommy-world also have given up much of their immediate desires to raise a family. I wanted to get an advanced degree. Well, I started, and then my one-year-old baby had a seizure, stopped talking and was soon enrolled in early childhood intervention with an eventual diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome as well as struggling with echolalia. The work I have put into him ALONE has been a huge undertaking. But I felt like there were more people who needed to be a part of my family. Now, as a family of 4, we still feel there is another who needs to come. And I will stay-at-home with my children gladly.

And my advanced degree? I do not want it right now.

David O.McKay is quoted as saying, "There is no success in the world that can compensate for failure at home."

Do you believe that?

What ill of the world would not be improved except by a stay-at-home mom who cares, loves, instructs, corrects, and supports her children?

This is what weighs in the balance. A Mom makes ALL the difference. Not a PhD. Not a business. Not accolades, money, or power. The ultimate power is in being a Mother.

Someday I will look back on what I've done. What will be the most important? I think it will be the things that bring me joy. Things that give me a feeling of fulfillment. Will that be hours spent in a library or in front of a computer achieving another couple of letters after my signature at the expense of my kids? No! It will be the things I did with my kiddos. The many trips to the park, the swimming, the sidewalk chalk, the reading stories, the science projects, the piano recitals, the soccer games, the swim meets, the camping trips and everything else that a parent is BLESSED to do with their children, as well as the rough parts: scraped knees, broken hearts, bullying, homework, failed dreams, belligerent attitudes, hard work that doesn't pay off etc.  The things that brought my parents joy will be the things that bring me joy.

Now there are still things that I get to do for "me time" each day. I run alone. I do yoga. I sew. I play piano for myself. Occasionally, I cook a REALLY nice dinner for D and I, and my kids eat PBJ. I go on dates with my husband. There is plenty of "me" time built into my day- lest you understand from my thoughts here that I am a slave to my family. NOT true. But my overriding occupation is a mom!

I was so moved by this nice lady's statement of simple occupation- being a stay-at-home mom. Ecclesiastes says, "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven."
This is my time to be a stay-at-home mom.
Another time will come when I am no longer needed to raise children in my home. And that will be an exciting new chapter.
So, I will not be ashamed. I will not answer the question "so what do you do" with "I'm a piano teacher", or any other peripheral occupation.
I will answer, "I have the privilege of staying home with my children".