Friday, December 18, 2009

What Santa Wishes She Could Bring

There's two things on our Christmas list we just can't afford this year. While that's probably true every year, I seem to have become obsessive lately. I search Craigslist & E-bay daily, hoping for someone out there to cut a girl some slack, but so far it's all been in vain. I'm hopeful we'll get both of these items in good time, but for now we just keep coveting. (And in the mean time, if you come across a good deal on either item, PLEASE let me know!)

1. A Learning Tower. I am convinced owning one would triple my patience -- and Betsy's IQ would probably take a leap, too. Every loaf of bread, every batch of cookies, every time I slice up veggies or saute meat on the stove -- there she is, and I'm practically on top of her as I trip. She's trying to put Momma's shoes on Momma, who often is already wearing a pair; she's getting into the towels drawer or the lazy susan; she's pulling spices from the drawer and wandering off to the bathroom with them. By the time I finished all my pies for this year's pie night, Betsy was moping around, sadly repeating her little "Momma busy" phrase I'd inadvertently taught her. A restoration of my sanity, for a mere $180!

2. I can't make up my mind between blond and brunette, a rather ridiculous quandry, since we're not going to be buying it soon anyway. Here's the thing: I pined away for Samantha, the American Girls doll, from the time I was 8. I'm pretty sure I didn't get her until I was at least 10, quite likely 12. All I know is, by that time Samantha finally came to my world, I was done with dolls and it didn't really matter, anyway. She sat on my "special shelf" largely untouched. But I had totally given my heart to American Girls, reading every single book about not only Samantha, but also Kirsten and Molly. (I'm so old they were the only ones around for most of the time I was that young!) Eventually Felicity came around, and I think I read hers, too, but not as fanatically. Well, Betsy's latest antics have upped our drive to get Betsy her own doll -- and a nice one, not one from the dollar store that is practically decapitated... hypothetically speaking -- led me to Bitty Baby from AG, and I became obsessed. There's no huge reason to have fallen so hard for a doll, particularly one with such a price ($50! My heck!) but AG has such sweet girlhood memories for me I just can't let it go. They're actually the same price/usually more on E-bay, which defies my logic, but I'll keep watching -- betcha prices drop after Christmas.

...And, of course, a job for Scott. But if we managed to grab that one, I'd like to think we could manage the other two items. :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

pucker up!


I planned to give this as a framed print to Kate, my sister, for Christmas. (She's the one planting the kiss on my cutie.) Do you think she'll like it? Or no, because you can't see her face? (If not, I included an alternate photo, but I don't like it quite as much.) I'd really like some frank feedback.

her inner world revealed

Betsy seems to be maturing by leaps and bounds this week -- at least in certain areas. I'm quite certain she'll be carrying her "silky" off to college, but that's not a battle I'm willing to fight quite yet. She's still young enough for one, isn't she?

The main area of growth is her language. She's got a great vocabulary, but many multisyllabic words were just a bit much for her. And there's certain sounds she's always struggled with (something the teacher in me inherently catalogs: z-, l-, and r-; many consonant blends like sn-, cl-, bl-, dr-, etc.) but with her dad's encouragement, she finally mastered "snake" or, more accurately, mastered "ssssss (pause) NAKE!" Lately that tool of pausing between difficult sounds helped her say the word "happiness" right on the first try. I expected a bunch of garbled, incoherent syllables to be repeated (as usual,) and then she just said it, plain as day: "happy (pause) ness." Good enough for me!

She's also finally putting several words together in interesting ways. I've been waiting to hear the single words flesh themselves out into mini-sentences for a long time, and while she's been doing it for a while, it was always the typical command stuff: "Book. Read it," or "Orange, please momma," "Coat, thank you, momma," stuff like that. But gradually, we're getting more insight into Betsyland: "Crayons fun, thank you momma." (She'd gone to hide behind the counter so she could throw all 64 on the floor... then proceeds to thank me?!? Kids are too funny.)

Today she wandered around the house with her rather hideous doll, carefully held up to her chest. The doll was wrapped in a silky and being patted on the back. "Baby napping time," she kept saying, walking around the kitchen island endlessly. (There's no way she remembers how many nights we did this very thing with her, is there?) This was the kind of stuff I knew she thought about on the inside. To finally hear about that interior world, locked up as a secret for so long, well it just tickles me.

As I was singing in the kitchen today, she asked me to sing one song again. This lead to me asking her which songs she liked, and she told me one or two. I told her a few I liked, and got her to name a few more. I know I'm just too in love with encouraging her language skills, but I couldn't help myself! She told me she likes "Daddy Home," (Wheels on the) "Bus," "Happiness," and another one I couldn't quite understand.

Too bad Scott's off in California and missing all of this fun stuff! It's watching this progress first-hand that makes me realize how much I treasure full-time parenthood, even when it comes at a cost. I continually count my blessings for this home and the renters who so graciously pay our mortgage each month. In spite of it, we continually drag ourselves further into debt, bit by bit, but I am happy to put my college degree aside to have these moments captured by a (usually) loving parent. At least, I think I capture most of them. I'm sure for many more she's somewhere else in the house being all insanely cute and I'm blogging, cleaning, or cooking, totally oblivious.

(12/18 edit: She's got a great memory, too! Every night before I put her to bed, we talk about what happened that day: what we ate, where we went, who we saw, etc. I can't believe some of the things she remembers that were very insignificant and happened much earlier in the day. Today while we were singing, she asked for Itsy Bitsy Spider, although the words were so jumbled I thought I'd never understand her. We haven't sang that song in weeks and weeks, but apparently she likes it!)

Oh -- one part of mothering I'd be okay missing out on? Betsy pushing the alarm in the library elevator today. Awesome. And awesomely loud.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mastering The Art of Mothering

Due to an undeniable urge to do anything but clean the kitchen, I blog. Whether anything substantial comes of it is doubtful.

Scott and I spent some time watching Julie and Julia a few nights ago, and I'm pleased to report neither of us fell asleep, which has to be a first for in at least six months' time. I'm sure many of you know the gist of the plot: Modern-day girl (Julie) decides to make all 530-ish recipes from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a single year. Her story is interwoven with Julia Child's, zealously carving her niche as an American In Love With French Food. While her husband is stationed in Paris, Julia cooks passionately and tirelessly, enrolling herself in cooking classes intended for professional European chefs. Her tireless devotion lends way to great success, eventually co-writing her book (intended for other American housewives and cooks like herself,) making endless revisions to it, only to receive numerous rejections before its eventual publication.

Well, the obvious energy of the movie was spent developing these two charming characters and their admirable (shared) obsession. But as the movie ended, I was still muddling through the question of how much one should really admire Julie. The movie makes her restlessness and questions of self-worth/importance of how she spends her time absolutely clear. Frankly, those are questions to which many SAHMs and others can thoroughly relate. And there is no doubt in my mind that she needed something substantial, something unique and defining to do. A mission, a project. (Again, I can sooooo relate. I am queen of projects. Not necessarily finished ones, though.) However, her project became utterly consuming. Rather than adding to her identity, it pushed everything else out. There was no room for anything but her project and its accompanying blog. Her husband spent a large part of the year most unhappy, leaving her due to the obsession but eventually returning.

The thing is, I can all too easily understand this part of the film, too. Some of my projects build such momentum, such steam, that it's tough to keep them in check. Drawing that line between the appropriateness of having interests outside the home (NOT optional, in my book) and letting them consume me is something I think I constantly mismanage. I have reigned in my photography interests these past few months for several reasons, but it seems prudent to mention how frustrating it can be to build up that energy, only to have to slow it to a seeming halt because this week Scott's days off need to be devoted to thesis work and job interviews and household chores; next week we need to be at my parents' place, and maybe I could squeeze in one photo shoot the first part of next month, if I play my cards right.

Seriously?!? It frustrates the life out of me. Some days, I'd rather just pack it all in. Be done. It's easier to not experience the thrill of the hobby. It's not worth the frustration. It was one thing when life was just the two of us. But now, someone has to watch Betsy. I can't always ask that of Scott. And even if I can, lots of times I'm wishing he could simultaneously assist on a shoot and keep Betsy at home. That's not really feasible, is it?

Well, these are rather scattered thoughts. And I'm too frustrated by it all (and the messy kitchen taunting me) to make all these thoughts sound pretty. I know everything has its time and season; I am very content with that. These days are good ones -- how much I love each minute with Betsy! Still, I live in search of obtaining outside interests that don't consume me. But frankly, the problem is my own: I've never been that kind of person. For me, it will always be a struggle. Don't mistake me, though, Scott will always be encouraging, but my first duty will always be mothering -- I'm not going to ever mistake that. After four years of teaching, I've seen what that does to a kid. So, as a result, I will never have the kind of time I crave. That's okay; it's my choice. My choice. But that doesn't mean it's not a sacrifice.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Lazy Man's Missionary Work

I never served a mission. However, Scott and I have been ward missionaries/WMLs in two wards for what comes out to be one-third of our marriage. Throughout that time, I've come to believe most heartily in the power of quietly speaking truth. After all, the truth doesn't need to be shouted. It has its own power, and shouting doesn't really add to it.

So I really loved the article in the Ensign a couple months back about sharing your testimony on-line, particularly through blogs. I'm not always as good at that as I'd like to be, but I know I am regularly uplifted by so many of you, and do strive to do the same for others along the way. When I came across these tags, I thought of many bloggers who demonstrate these missionary strengths so well, and thought you should know about them. You can find them here, and I think it's a subtle but great way to bear testimony. I added a few to my own blog (see: right) to showcase a couple. I will be narrowing it down to one, but wanted to give you an idea of their offerings.

The Month Called November

Well, the house is decorated for Christmas. This year I even let Scott do it before Thanksgiving -- quite a concession, but it came about so easily and naturally you never would have known it. And it happened so quickly! I went out to run some errand and voila! I returned to the most charming little home. ...We are very lucky to have the home we do; it suits our needs so well and is beyond economical. But it's no use pretending: I do complain about its looks more than I should.

But at Christmastime! Oh, there is something so endearing about how it looks at Christmastime, all glowy and cheery, that I fall in love with the place again. That's no small feat, as we continue to accumulate stuff and it has been feeling increasingly cramped of late. (Redoing the bathrooom did nothing to help the congestion, either. Four tubs -- FOUR TUBS -- of toiletry junk littering my bedroom. Betsy spent hours a day exploring the world of my tampons and Scott's contacts. Oh, am I glad the worst of that job is over!)

Thanksgiving was a quiet affair, low-key but still delicious. We all fit around a single table, and while that table was crowded, Kate was right: quite anticlimactic. (Are you allowed to say that about Thanksgiving? It feels so wrong.) I guess having Marcus away on his mission and Tanner with his dad really made the group even more subdued. I'd easily say those are the two most animated of the clan.

This year cream cheese had gone on sale a few weeks prior to the holiday, so each of my three desserts had cream cheese. And it's the sad truth: this was the first time I used my Cuisinart for a dessert. Oh, what heaven. What ease. What taste. I definitely plan on seeing what kind of semi-healthy concoctions I can devise with the use of it. I think by far its best advantage was the incredible taste the fat-free cream cheese still offered. Quite impressive.

I have maintained contact with Penny, even with their move to California. It's been delightful to spend time talking to someone so uplifting, and the best part about such a person is, they see you in your best, kindest light -- somehow see you for who you'd like to be instead of the crummy version you usually imitate instead.

We are simultaneously pursuing two very different career opportunities. While I am highly inclined to believe a certain one of the two will work out, it's been interesting to feel so divided between the two. Not because I have no preference between the two, but because both mean such different things for our family. One would involve a move; the other would involve several. One would mean a four-day work week; the other, more money initially. One would be working in transportation (one of Scott's earliest and most passionate loves), and the other, he would find to be slightly more mundane, though certainly enjoyable and within his chosen profession of civil engineering. I'll be surprised if we know much about whether we've been able to secure either position before January.

Oh -- and a note to those whose Christmas shopping includes kids: I picked up some amazing, amazing, amazing deals at Babies R Us this year. They had 50% off their clearance, and Betsy didn't have any winter Sunday shoes. (Yes, she'd still been running around in her sandals. Pretty embarrassing, but I just didn't have $10 to spend on them, you know?) Anyway, I got her a black pair and a white pair for under $3 a piece. I also scored some sandals for next summer, several pairs of cheap socks, and cute pants for under $3 a pair, too! How all of it added up to $70 I'll never know. They did, however, mention that this 50% off clearance was rare. So if they don't do it next year it might not be worthwhile after all.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

pout-free and loving it.

I have invested far too much time contemplating what I do/don't want this blog to be. Because of it, no entry ever felt just right to me. My mind just never fully wrapped itself around this identity, of who I was and what this blog was to represent. Luckily, something recently helped me make those decisions I can belabor all too much: I just learned that Blurb now has the ability to slurp from blogger, easily building cheap, beautiful books from the text and images of a blog. I've been waiting so long for this feature I'd forgotten all about it! It has renewed my desire to post in our family blog -- and also gave me a beautiful, single purpose: Now my blog can act as the only sort of family journal we'll probably ever have.

So, if you get sick of posts about one abnormally cute little girl, one wonderful husband, and one generally abnormal momma, this might not be the blog for you. In other words, I will be regularly blogging about the wonderful bits of our family life. It doesn't mean we don't have our down days, but the good days do vastly outnumber the bad, and when this is all my children have to understand their childhood, I want it to reflect the joy they bring me. If any entry ever sounds braggish -- which is something I abhor with every fiber I possess -- please understand, it's not written to make others feel slighted or inferior. It's not written for others at all. It's to let my children know, somewhere down the line, of their accomplishments. Those small steps, I feel it urgently important for them to know, were noticed and celebrated.

--- End bizarre informational section ---

Betsy is always cute -- what mother thinks otherwise? -- but dang, she gets cuter and cuter as her vocabulary grows and she can really express herself. In the strain of my friend Catherine, I've decided to start including Betsyisms.

*This morning Betsy was snuggling in bed with me and I heard her sigh. "Are you okay?" I asked, "Are you sad?"
"Yes," she said, quite seriously. I asked her why.
"Want Daddy." she moaned.
"Where is he?" I asked.
"Wook," she replied.

*At night when I put her to bed, we sing songs. Several weeks ago she started asking for her personal favorite, "Daddy Home" (I'm So Glad When Daddy Comes Home.) Well, it didn't take long before "Daddy Home" had turned into "Daddy... Poppy... Home" and a few days after that, it was "Daddy... Poppy... Jesus Home."

*As I was typing this, she opened the drawer where I keep the oven mitts. She put one on her hand and motioned me away, saying "Move back!" just like I tell her when I open the oven.

*She also started asking me to sing her "Jenny" at night. Considering she doesn't know a single Jenny, I had no idea where this came from. Finally, a few nights later, it hit me: She was asking for one of her other favorite songs: Genealogy.

*Several weeks ago she was sitting in the back of the car listing off several of her friends names, followed by "no." (We can only guess why.) "Max? ...No. Bannon? No."
"How about Rhett?" I asked.
"Rhett. Rhett coot (cute.) Honk, honk."

*She likes to count, but often skips four and consistently skips seven. But boy, does she love it!

*I was at the computer the other day and found that Betsy was no longer running around, but had climbed all the way up and was now sitting on the island. I watched her closely, and moments later, she dropped something off of it. "I get it," she declares enthusiastically, and climbed back down to retrieve it. How -- and when -- did she learn that skill?

*The other night as I was putting her to sleep, she was talking to me as she drifted further and further from wakefulness. Her words: "Pretty, pretty..." (as she holds my pearls) "Pretty, pretty, (she moves to my hair) pretty... brown... hair... pretty you... pretty BYU! B U! B U!"" (She knows how to say BYU, but will only say it once before altering it to B U. We have no idea why.)

*And least you think she's nothing but a wonder-babe, let me tell you the most frequent word I've heard from her the past few days: "No, mine!" Oddly, this is usually said when I ask her the most unrelated of questions. This morning, she clutched a copy of the Ensign and a silky as she wandered around the house. I asked her if she wanted Cheerios. "No, MINE," she fumed, holding her items all the closer. This same exchange occurred at least half a dozen times before I finally got her to agree that she wanted breakfast.

Well, there's several more, but I think you get the idea: she's keeping us busy, content, and usually laughing, during days when it would be so easy to pout and whine.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Penny!

The past couple of weeks I've kept thinking to myself there was something I promised someone I'd post, but I couldn't remember for the life of me what it was! It finally hit me today, and so I must apologize to Penny for my delay. She currently exists back in the pre-FB days and so I told her we'd post here.

Oh -- and kudos to Jessi of Creative Juice Photography! I had an absolute blast with her and felt so at ease with her. And not just because we'd spent a semester living together. Jessi is super easy-going and artistic -- exactly the right combination for family portraiture!












Thursday, November 5, 2009

My Favorite Phone Company

At seven years old, I had a favorite phone company. I am proud to say it was MCI. Square One TV was "brought to [my] television by generous funding from MCI, because they care[d] about the future." The message was reinforced each weekday at 3:55 when the show was wrapping up. After watching for a few weeks, I prepared to broach the subject of our long-distance carrier with my mother. Imagine my relief to hear MCI was already our phone company!

Then, years later, when they were now sponsoring Carmen Sandiego, my mom switched phone companies. It was less than a year later that MCI disappeared. I'm still rather disheartened about it all, particularly the loss of Square One.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

indebtedness and hibernation

I can give. I can totally make cookies and casseroles; I can take pictures and babysit. But I can't handle the feeling of knowing how big I "owe" someone. The irony is, as we all know, that when you truly love someone, you never consider any of the giving you do. Never count it, never add it up, never keep track.

But, oh, the minute I owe someone. It's like a sticky note taped to the front of my brain. I count it and re-count it; add it and re-add it, repeatedly wondering how to make it up to them. Hypothetically speaking, how many chocolate melts do you give someone when you're gone an hour and a half longer than you said? And they have your child, and take her trick-or-treating to a Halloween party for you?

Oh, please, someone give me the correct answer. Because now every time I think about it (which, with the sticky note, is pretty often) I want to crawl under a chair and hibernate.

Monday, October 12, 2009

deserve an explanation

Yeah, so, about the whole picking-up-wherever-I-want business. I guess that means I should mention...

1. Scott's graduation: It was marvelous. Pictures to come.
2. Visit by the Weed clan: Also, quite marvelous. Not many pictures, unfortunately -- spent more time chatting.
3. Visit with the Grawrocks and new baby Gavin: A quick but very nice trip. That is one cute baby!
4. Scott's birthday: he's 29. Wow.
5. Uhhhh, I swear we did other stuff this summer. I'll get back to you on that.

Well, with that detailed update, I guess it's time to move on to an honest analysis of why I've been such a lazy blogger. And don't say you don't care. I know it keeps you up at night, so there's no point in pretending.

As the facts stand, life is rather hum-drum at the moment -- and that's putting it sweetly. I think I've mostly recovered from this funk, but it's been a Big, Bad Funk; and I've been wimpier than my usual flighty self. And more emotional.

Scott is currently using his master's degree to rock the world of Lindon's Home Depot. They pretty much take him for granted and pay him accordingly. I know it's not the end of the world, but after putting in 6 years of marriage and schooling I'd really planned on living ...anywhere but Provo. I'd planned on us working ...anywhere but Home Depot.

The Lord has consistently taken my plans, surpressed a laugh, and shown me a much better way for things to be. I have no doubt the same will happen again. But in the interim, my pride gets injured -- which I think is part of the Lord's agenda. I think I'm learning to be comfortable in the Lord's hands, to have peace in the waiting and that I am showing the greatest level of trust when I relax enough to be cheerful -- even if it's a rather determined cheerfulness.

So, sorry for my withdrawl. Going inside myself is the only place I felt comfortable finding strength. I believe there is greater strength in good, close associations coupled with solitude than in myself alone. But I have been wary to share, wary to trust. I don't think this is how the Lord would have me be. It's the only way I've known how to be. I hope to change this about myself, but I do think it's going to be quite the gradual change -- things like this don't happen over night, no matter how much I'd wish it so.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Diary of a Young Woman

Dedicated to my cute wife!

For those of you who do not know our story, I will give you a brief synopsis of how we met. My family moved into the same ward that Mickelle's family attended. The year was 1994, 4 days after Mickelle turned 12. With her Mom in Relief Society, my Mom in Young Women's and my Dad in the Bishopric, our two families were intertwined a bit. Mickelle had the same Sunday School class as my younger sisters - Kimmie and Kammie. Mickelle moved out of the ward in December 1996 and we thought it was good-bye.
In September 2002 we were reunited via our mutual friend Michele and I had no recollection of knowing the Costantinos. Long story short, I am still made fun of because each member in my family remembers Mickelle as a young woman and my memory starts when she is a grown woman.
In order to appease my curiosity as to what I am missing of the young Mickelle, I dug up her diaries and opened the book given to her by her Grandma Britt for Christmas 1994. On the first page is a note from Kimmie saying "You're a real good friend", next was Kammie's "You're the best in being nice", clear evidence that Kimmie and Kammie knew Mickelle and I was out of the loop.
As I continued to read my love for this dear cute Mickelle grew as I read of her growing personality and of her testimony. I will only share this one thing about it, as I am sure she will already be embarrassed that I am blogging about the young Mickelle: in March 1994 she was having a sleepover with her cousins during Spring break and she wrote "I went to bed, but being not tired and unable to turn on the light (Corey already asleep in Jodie's room, where I was) I prayed that the person's light in the backyard would come on. It Did! No Coincidence! Just more testimony"
I love that Mickella! She's darling!



Friday, September 11, 2009

it happens.

Sometimes you wait so long to post you don't want to deal with telling everybody everything that's happened.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I like this picture.

I like this picture. Not for any technical skill it does or does not have, but because my haircut looks acceptable in it. This rarely happens.


I like this picture. Not because of how I look -- obviously. But it tells a story, and that's rather wonderful.


I like this picture. It reminds me of how I feel when I'm in rurality. All the colors and textures and feelings of the place are fresh. Don't you wish you lived there with me?


I like this picture. Something about it rings true -- yes, that's the boy I know and love. That's Tanner.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Betsy Enters Girlhood

Betsy has grown into a full-fledged girl, now, with one of her favorite words "shus, shus," -- being repeated endlessly. Already she's far more of a fashionista than her mother... I knew it would happen some day, but really?!? Already?!? She's also been known to bring me bows she wants in her hair, or clothes she'd like to wear. (Trouble is, she's usually already dressed!) At least once a day, she brings me her shoes and insists I put them on her. More often, though, she'll find my flip-flops, and wander over to my feet, where she attempts to dress me. Oh, how quickly the daughter turns into the mother...

About a week ago, while I was busy putting her shoes on her, I told her we were going to GO. "Doh?" She asked. Yes, go. Well, after her shoes were put on I ran to the computer where I was checking grocery ads on-line. A few minutes later -- me still running through the ads online -- there was the gentle tapping as she tried to get that dang flip-flop on me.

Around her neck? My keys.

Friday, June 12, 2009

These, Whom I Miss

Who? Whom? Why did I always miss out on the really good English teachers?





When you live across the street from both the police and fire stations, sirens are an everyday part of life. From time to time, Liz, Jenny, Erin, Annie, or myself would usually ask one another if we'd been woken up on this day or that by the sirens. A conversation would then ensure about joining the real world, where the police station is "down town" and you live on a nice, quiet residential street. One, preferably, without a four-lane road out front.

Thing is: they've all gone. Joined that legendary real world, more or less. And the uncensored truth is, it kinda bites being the one left behind. I am thrilled for the experiences each are having -- but I won't be sad when it's my turn.

I will get a turn, right? Okay. I was just checking.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Mickelle of Past Tense

In passing the other day, my mom mentioned how talented a couple of my cousins are in communication. My (weak and silly) inner-Kell threw a minor (but very mature) tantrum over this conversation.

I was a speechie through all of high school. I placed at our 5A state competition in Oratory, took 2nd at Districts and thus qualified for Nationals, and placed in numerous other competitions. I'm really not too shabby. Then, after four years without any practice, I competed for and was chosen to deliver the commencement address for the university-wide graduation ceremony.

Back when I started college, I didn't have any strong feelings about what to declare as my major; I'd loved history, communications, psychology, education, and one or two other subjects. After plenty of thinking and pondering, I knew I wanted these four years to be something that would help me and my little family for the rest of our lives -- not just a degree I achieved but that never really did much good after having kids.

So, I chose education. I fell further in love with it along the way and never regretted my choice. I just never felt total fulfillment with it, either. There was an academic drive in other subjects that education never really afforded.

Now, as the momma I'm trying to be, I'm grateful for my education degree. But having been absent so long from a world of mental exertion, I find my identity changing, old parts of me further buried and forsaken. ...I'll probably never give another speech again. And, trust me, I'm very okay with that.

It just bites that, in our small Provo world, with its emphasis on housekeeping, cooking, exercise, and popping out children one per year, I'm a little bit lacking. I miss feeling competent, content, and capable because of my skills. I miss feeling like I have skills. (Hobbies abound. Skills? Not so much.) The few I have -- they're just not much use in this season of life. ...I can't see them really being needed in the future, but I've decided to withhold worry. The Lord knows and loves me; he's blessed me too richly thus far to doubt him now.

It just makes me a little gloomy every once in a while.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

flicker

Every once in a while, I get a flicker of a more grown-up version of Betsy, a version that employs a full set of teeth and doesn't have the "boo" tacked on to the end of her name. Those moments are a melding of delight and ...nostalgia? For the present? Can you have nostalgia for the present? Never mind.

  • She loves animals. I'd imagine most every kid does, but Betsy seems a bit obsessive. It kind of scares me, since I'm not really interested in owning any. She particularly adores cats, which is quite unfortunate as her mother is a decided dog person.

  • Mary Elizabeth Shea is not scared, a trait obviously inherited from her father. I suppose it could easily change, but for the present, you can toss that girl as high as you'd like and push that swing for all it's worth -- my baby just giggles and squeals all the more.

  • She is a girl of routine. Don't mess with it.

  • She's outgoing. No, really outgoing. I still don't think you're getting it: really, really, really outgoing. Deena-esque outgoing. Considering her parents, Memaw is the only possible biological source. (She asks strangers in the supermarket to pick her up. She wants the stewardesses in airplanes to hold her. She wanders off with anyone who'll take her. This, too, is scary.)

  • Betsy is snuggly and lovey. She likes to cuddle, especially while you read to her, and throughout the day will randomly walks up to give you a hug. ...Kisses, however, are an entirely separate story.

  • She has an insatiable appetite for language. She loves to have books read to her, and she is always anxious to increase that little vocabulary of hers. Any one or two-syllable word made up of the right consonants is fair game. (My current favorite is "Oh, Geez!")

Of course, the truth is, I have no real assurances of who she'll become. But I certainly enjoy who she is.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

a loss for words

I am not a woman with a vocabulary. I used to be, once. But alas, fifth grade sucked it from me - or so I tell myself. So what exactly is that emotion on his face? It's love -- but there's got to be a more precise description than that, right? Do help me out.
Whatever it is, I like it.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Reasons I Love Motherhood

...Because of her. Her smiles, her words, her changes ...her naps.

Don't you think Betsy looks just like me in one of these pictures? Isn't one of them is just SCREAMING "Costantino baby" at the top of its little lungs? So piercingly you want to beg for mercy? Okay, maybe not that loudly. But still.

Guess which one.

Hint: I may have provided a hint.*




*

Thursday, May 7, 2009

planning our traditions

I am not, shall we say, a seamstress. Or a sewing woman of any kind. (I originally typed "sewer woman." For the record, I'm not one of those, either.)

But Scott is a Christmas Man. He and his thousands of Christmas lights, his special Christmas flatware, his dozens of Christmas storybooks, his Sunday Christmas sing-alongs -- yes, Christmas is a big deal 'round these parts.

Which is why I gave in and decided to make Bucilla stockings: I knew it would make him happy. And I'm a sucker for a happy husband. His mom handmade each of her children (and in-laws) their own Bucilla stockings so there's plenty of syrupy, delicious sentiment in them.

Now, let me totally distract you from all that Bucilla-ness and take you somewhere else entirely: Back in the days when Scott and I were in the same ward, our YW/YM did a Christmas activity every year called Gift of the Christchild. The gist: you thought about what gift you could give Christ this year -- usually the setting of a new spiritual goal -- and gave away a sort of physical representation of said goal to another kid in the ward.

When my family moved away, we kept up the tradition for several years, and I've always wanted to make it a part of our little family's tradition, too. What with all the seasonal decor Scott puts up, I decided we should have at least one decocration that had to do with Gift of the Christchild -- something that would remind the kids it was coming up, and to be thinking.

Enter: Prettiest Bucilla Stocking Ever. Note Mary's face. Beautiful, no? Also note the angel's awesome hairdo and trumpet. I want to look just like that when I'm an angel.

So now, at our house, I guess Jesus will have his very own stocking.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Uncensored

Chatty baby that we have, Betsy is saying a whole slew of words I haven't blogged about. (It would get boring. For you guys, anyway.) For the sake of journaling, I'll quickly mention them here: Katie, Poppa, gigi, dah (dog), cracker (dah-dah), and Jesus (se-suh). I might have forgotten a few, but you get the idea.

Now. There is a word in her vocabulary that probably shouldn't be there: tittie. (It's a particularly interesting word considering that she's been weaned a full month now.)

But there's nothing like making a special trip to the pet shop just to hear her say TITTIES and DAH! There's just so much enthusiasm -- so much zest and joy in her little words. I can't get over it.

Monday, April 27, 2009

National Infertility Awareness Week

Okay, I'll admit: the title totally sounds wordy, pretentious, and overdone.

But it's an awfully important issue, and one that gets very little attention. Now, I'm probably preaching to the choir, knowing my (verrrrrrrry small) readership as I do, but I'd like to mention a few things about subfertility, a term I much prefer to infertility. It seems much more accurate - and hopeful. These are just my feelings, but I'm just opinionated enough to shout them from mountains if I thought it would do any good.

1. Infertility isn't a curse -- and I'm not helpless.
It took me a long time to figure this out for myself. And (like most things) it might not be true for everyone. But I learned so much about myself and my body through taking charge of my fertility. It also helped me feel more in control and less like a victim. It's so easy for my inner-drama-queen to spiral further and further into crazy-land. But charting and reading up on fertility really gave me confidence in myself -- and (lovely segue way) helped me appreciate the wonder-creation that is my body.

2. Our bodies are of heavenly -- celestial -- design, even in our fallen and earthly condition.
If there is one thing I've learned about the gospel, it's that the most beautiful, saving parts of our religion are always the simplest. Sacrifice leads to love. Obedience is always rewarded. Service makes you cheerful. Happiness is a decision. Likewise, our bodies aren't meant to be so sophisticated no one could truly understand them until the last days. Just as other religions have limited light and understanding, so too do other forms of medicine. (And, I think it's worth noting, at no time has God said that 21st century Western Medicine is the "only true and living medicine.") We are prideful and narrow-minded when we assume anyone with a differing opinion must be wrong.
This doesn't mean I endorse your local crackpot. Just a small number of crackpots who personally helped me get pregnant and become healthier.

3. People will sometimes be thoughtless about infertility. It's usually just ignorance.
In the two years of treatment it took before we finally conceived Betsy, I don't think we once went to a party at Scott's aunt's house without somebody saying something dumb to me. One time we went to my SIL's baby shower and this woman who had never even met me asked when it would be my turn. It shouldn't have been a big deal, and hardly qualifies as an act of cruelty. Nevertheless, I ran out of the room, in a race with the flood of tears I knew were coming. Didn't quite make it; looked like a total fool.
Another time a woman (another stranger, this time her ward's Primary president) asked why we didn't have any kids. As the situation was far less emotional -- baby showers were always the hardest things ever -- I could just look at Scott and give him the "Why-does-this-always-happen-at-Leesa's-house?" look. He almost burst out laughing.
"Oh, I get it," she said, "She doesn't want any yet. Right?" This comment did qualify as thoughtless.

I could go on for quite a while yet. Luckily for you, it's infertility week, so I don't have to post it all tonight. What joys! More infertility posts to look forward to in the coming days! (If I actually get around to blogging again.)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

the fine line

Showy blog posts and Christmas cards are not my favorite thing. And that's probably putting it mildly. (Not to worry; I'm talking in generalities here. Not about you.)

However, I am Scott's biggest cheerleader. It's what I signed up to do, and I take that part of the job pretty seriously. If he is to believe he can do great things, it will be because I had to tell him so a half-million times. I know this about him; I love this about him; and thus I share some happy news.

My words may border on braggy, and for that, I apologize. Profusely. However, the greater obligation is to my husband, who deserves to feel the full weight of my admiration and adoration. And that of his accomplishment.

Scott found out he received one of only two Ellis Mathes Scholarships today. He competed against many other students from Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Nevada who are also pursuing public transportation careers. (Scott actually completed the application, which required three pages explaining his career and academic objectives, work experience, academic records and financial need, while on the plane home from Zacatecas. Talk about a productive use of time.)

And here's the cool part: the $2,000. Okay, yes, that's cool. Given.



But also, he is invited to the ITE Intermountain Section Annual Meeting in Jackson, Wyoming, where his award will be formally announced. He even gets another $200 for travel expenses! May 16, 2009 will be a proud day for this wife!

(And also probably a lonely day, as the travel expenses will likely not provide for two of us. But we'll hope. And wait and see.)

We give thanks to our Heavenly Father, who saw fit to reward and bless Scott for his endeavors these past two semesters of Grad School. It is always humbling and lovely to know he is there, so anxious to bless our lives, even in our flimsy and faltering fallen state.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I do not make 20k per month.

It's not the most thrilling of subjects, but I thought I'd mention that I have a job now. A legitimate work-from-home job. I do not make 20k per month. Nor are we retiring to an exotic island.

But I did make $18 in about 45 minutes yesterday. That's usually the exception to the rule -- I average about $12/hour. Still, that's not too shabby.

I call existing clients of a specific dentist's office and set up their six month exams and cleanings. I am paid on straight commission, which initially almost broke me. But the premise was so simple that I gave it an honest try. And what do you know? Most people with insurance are perfectly willing to set up an appointment! The hardest part is actually getting people to answer their phones.

Anyway, yeah. A good job. I only work evenings, once the dentists' offices are closed, and since I work commission, I pretty much only have to work until I've met quota, or am on track to meet it at the end of the month.

It's a good gig. They're occasionally looking for people. You need to go to quarterly meetings in Salt Lake, as well as for their interview and trainings. If anybody's interested, let me know!

Friday, April 3, 2009

imaginary conversations

(Betsy approaches me with a banana peel retrieved from the kitchen trash can.)

"Mother, I've been evaluating your work, and I really can't understand this obsession of yours with throwing things away. Take this banana peel I've brought to you. Perfectly good. Great for a teething baby like myself; wonderful texture, lovely smell -- and divine taste. Why on earth would we dispose of it?

(Leaves me with banana peel, returns with new treasure)


Next, we have the soda cracker's plastic wrapper. Heaven knows how anyone could think such an item could be garbage! Think of its creative possibilities. The hours of entertainment. Here, you contemplate; I've more to show you.

Grapes. Perfectly good grapes. You know better than to think that just because I've turned up my nose at them for the past three days doesn't mean I don't love them. In fact, please feed me some now.

I don't care if they were in the trash. Please feed them to me.

Monday, March 30, 2009

defeated.

Lest you think everything is cute chatter and adoreable walking around here, I thought I'd let you in on the mayhem that also rules our home.

Scott went to Zacatecas, Mexico for a week to optimize their roads with a BYU group. Betsy was more clingy than usual with him gone, and would flip out while I tried to shower. Eventually, I started bringing in all sorts of toys and non-toys that I thought would entertain her.

This worked for about seven minutes. Then she'd pry open the shower curtain. After I put a kabosh on that by standing on said shower curtain, she eventually found something else to entertain her. Victory! I shaved my leg, literally bathing in my success.

I could her her dropping things, a common Betsy pastime, and even took the time to put conditioner in my hair. But when I turned around to wash out the conditioner, I realized my utter defeat: she'd been quietly dropping in legos, cups, Q-tips, lotions, washcloths, and my pajams in the tub.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

She talks! She walks! It's like she's a toddler!


How does the time get away so fast? My little girl's hair lies down. On its own. Without the gallons of hairspray. Little light-socket Betsy is gone... I can't say I'm devestated -- it always drove me crazy -- but Scott sure misses her crazy hair. Check out the picture. It kind-of makes you want to pet her and tell her "good animal."

Betsy has been talking up a storm since just before her birthday. She says "chees" when she does her sign for cheerios, which is pretty dang cute. She says "baby"/"bebe" whenever we see a picture of a baby. She'll even point when you ask where the baby is, or give the baby kisses. I babysat Maland a few weeks ago, and all that girl wanted to do was kiss the life out of the poor boy! Oh, "bebe, bebe, bebe..." it went on and on. She knows "ba" for ball, and will even retrieve balls from her bedroom on command. With coaxing. She's just barely started with "no" in the past couple days. Luckily, Betsy is still easily distracted so when she says no, I just get her a different toy/move her to a different spot. So far, it works. But it's definitely taught me to watch what words are coming out of my mouth. A little distressing to think it's made the list of her very first words. (We also get "ma, ma" for more. I'm not so thrilled by that one.)

She says "hey,"and "daddy," but I have to say, we definitely hear more about babies and cheerios. Betsy still struggles to sign water, so she's given us her own version of a sign for water. It's exactly like the sign for eat, except she puts one finger in her mouth to help her make the "waah" sound. So we hear "wa, wa, wa, wa." I guess it's a compromise.

She's also been walking for a while. Not perfectly, and not everywhere, but eight or ten steps easily and daily since shortly after her birthday.

Well, that's enough Betsy news for one day. Oh. The scouting picture has nothing -- nothing -- to do with Betsy. Or anything else recent, for that matter. But it makes me smile. Nothing like seeing your spouse looking like he's 15.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My Lucky Day

So, in the evenings, when I should be busy with productivity, sometimes I enter blog giveaways. Eventually I'd have to win. Right? I mean, I taught ratios, I know all about them. At least enough to pass fifth grade. And even though the stuff I did know wasn't particularly encouraging, I kept entering.

Pretty much the whole world has my e-mail address now. Thank heaven for spam filters.

Wanna know what I won? A free photo shoot from these amazing gals. In fact, the link takes you to their movie so you can see all the thrills of the name drawing. You can even do the drumroll noise right along with the movie.

I'm planning to wait until things are just a bit greener outside, but I really can't wait to be the model for a change.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Betsyface's birthday


Okay, so I threw this together between midnight and 2:00 a.m. the day before yesterday. Just call me "Uber-Prepared-Super-Mom." Cause that would be fitting.

Really. Fitting.

Don't worry; I plan on passing out the invitations AT the party.

So if you're reading this -- guess what -- you're invited! And I'm making tasty treats. So you might as well stop by for those. (In fact, I don't even care if you come in my house and take some and leave. Because then I don't have leftovers.) Come between 2:00 and 4:00; any later and the selection won't be as good.




Tuesday, February 24, 2009

You deserve a free sub.

So go get one. On me. Cause nobody but nobody is quite as nice as Mickelle. Right.




Saturday, February 14, 2009

A perfect day...in planning

Mickelle and I have an awesome tradition, given to us from the Muldowneys. Every year it becomes a big guessing game as to what you are going to do for an anniversary or for Valentine's day. Instead of having two people try to plan "surprises" or special things, we trade off. Last year I was responsible for our 5th anniversary, this year I have Velentine's day. Having this arrangement, one person at least has a little bit of relaxing not having to think about it and it turns into a dating experience again. Remember those days when the guy would call, ask the girl out, plan the entire thing, and all she had to do was figure out what to wear (which sometimes was an impossible task in and of itself). Now, we continue that fun and I do my best to plan a day.

Anyway, last year as I was planning our FIVE year anniversary I remembered Mickelle talking about a restaurant that her Dad had taken her to but they did not actually eat there. (Mickelle's note: They have 2 acres of beautiful grounds. So we checked out their park. Pretty cool.) I thought it strange they did not eat at a restaurant, isn't that what you do at restaurants? I checked out the pricing and I realize why now. The restaurant is La Caille, in Sandy, Utah. The average plate costs $40, with specialty items being much more. In fact I would like to draw your attention to the "L'Hombard" in the screen shot below. It is described as a "Twelve ounce tail broiled with Clarified butter and herbed olive oil." The cost..."financing available." Needless to say we did NOT go to La Caille for our anniversary but I did manage to get us to the Melting Pot.
Some day...when we're making money to burn, we may burn some on a L'Hombard or two.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

dang it!

In an attempt to romanticize my blog for the holidays, I've lost everybody's blog addresses! ...I think I've got about 60% of them back, but my memory is spotty these days and I just know I'm missing some!

I feel so foolish. But if you want to leave me a note with your blog's address, I promise I'll keep reading...



Tuesday, February 10, 2009

mushy-gushiness


Valentine's is certainly a fitting excuse to shower Scott with adoration, but this guy has my heart every day, and he really deserves to know it.

Scott, you have always been a dream boat. And girls could see that in you. You always took care of me while we were dating; you constantly re-arranged your schedule so you could always spend every minute with me; you always had surprises up your sleeve. These kinds of things showed me how much I meant to you. But more importantly, they taught me what kind of man you were. And oh, how I totally flipped. By the time you left after Fall Fling, I knew I was in over my head. It made me nervous, losing myself to you so quickly. But for as timid as I felt, everyone was utterly won over by you. I always had a roommate, the Weeds, or my mom around to help me be okay with the vulnerability you feel when you're in love. You know, when I dated other guys, I always had a friend or two that I could tell had some reservations about the guy. But you were different. Nobody else had any concerns, so (in typical Mickelle fashion), I had to create enough to go around. How did you put up with me?

I feel so privileged -- and bewildered -- that you chose me when the world was always your oyster. (Is that why you've given me all those pearls?) You have always been an incredible man. But the man I am now married to has so many more accomplishments than you did 5.5 years ago. And with those accomplishments comes change. You have become more focused. With each passing semester, the enthusiasm and passion you have for engineering grows. You have given this master's degree everything in you, even as the burn-out reached its peak. Socially, there is so much in you to admire and appreciate! You reach out to those around you; you are accepting, inviting, and low-key. You are comfortable with many different personalities and something about you invites them to accept themselves as well. There are total quirks in your personality that are utterly endearing to everyone -- like your penchant for MPS, your love for birthdays and numbers, and your home improvement projects.

I don't know what the future holds for us, but after even the few years we've spent together, I know you well enough to know that it will be beautiful. It will be busy. And it will probably involve a kitchen remodel or two. And I am looking forward to it -- even the days when you are so frantically busy that we don't get as much time together as I'd like. Even then. Because at least I get to sleep next to you.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

For the Daddy-O

So, my dad wanted me to upload some wedding photos for my grandma -- they're getting and filling a digital picture frame for her birthday -- and this was totally the easiest way to get it done.