Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Before & After: Jaxon's "New" Dresser

Quite a while ago (January? I don't know), I bought a dresser for Jax. It was from someone on Craigslist, and I paid too much for it. ($20? $30?) It was a particle-board MDF something-weird concoction, already a little bit falling apart. But he had no dresser at all, and definitely needed one. So we bought it, and thought we'd just get a brand-new one when the time came. Over time, it just fell apart, until this is what was left:Note: That bottom drawer is pushed in about as far as it will go. And yes, there really are only two drawers left of the shoddy four we started with.

Unfortunately, good-quality brand-new dressers cost LOTS, and I didn't want to pay LOTS.

I began to hunt at various thrift stores, and wished we had American Fork's D.I. here, as it is STOCKED with potential treasure. However, on my FIRST visit to our own D.I., I found not only one dresser (NOT made of "pretend" wood), but TWO--for $55. Total. Then I waited patiently to have the time, resources, and weather to work on them. (I was not about to be painting a dresser in a 115-degree garage.) So. Jaxon's is done! Savanna's will have to wait a bit longer. Without further ado:Seventies charm, I suppose? Someone loved the sunburst drawer handles and pretend wood grain....once....a long time ago....maybe.
I got a little worried when I noticed that a cross-support was missing from underneath one of the drawers, but I brought one of the intact cross-support pieces to Home Depot, batted my eyelashes, and said, "Can you cut out nine of these for me?" And they did! So I have eight extra....just in case. (I didn't ask for more just to torture the poor Home Depot employee who spent forty minutes cutting these out....I really thought I might need to replace all of them.)
And the glorious AFTER:
Still a little nicked here and there, but in my opinion, worlds away from what I started with. I was thinking about a cooler-toned brown, or a darker brown, but....I think I like this one. I think we'll keep it. And now Jaxon has NINE drawers in which to distribute his Nemo underwear and Spiderman shirts. Ah, sweet relief.
Project Expenses:
Dresser - $27.50

Borrowed electric sander - FREE (thank you, Bishop)

A pint of paint - $8.00

Paintbrush - $2.50
Sandpaper - $3.00
Drawer knobs - $12.00

9 "fresh" cross-supports - $6.60

Total: $59.60

Not bad for a fully-functional 9-drawer dresser!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Romance Ends (& a new one begins)

Dear 2005 Running Shoes,

What an amazing four years it has been!

No one thought we'd last this long, right?

over the last four months, things between us have become strained.

I just don't feel....supported. In fact, sometim
es, you've really put me through some pain.

And after that 20-miler a couple of weeks ago? Well, let's be honest. You folded under the pressure, and really caused me s
ome bitter aching. You know, a relationship between Runner and Shoe can only work if both are dedicated to making it work! And I'm just going to let you off the hook, because I can see that you are really, really tired. Ready to move on, forge new paths, meet those other fish in the sea.... Anyhow. It's been great. You've seen me through two postpartum workout plans, as well as everything in between. I can't thank you enough, but it is time for me, too, to move on.

All my love (and sweat)

* * * * *

Dear New 2009 Shoes,

You are full of pizazz and bounce.

I think you are precisely the support system I need.

I can't wait for our date next Saturday.

With admiration (and sweat)

Friday, September 25, 2009

You've GOT to try this....

I made this cake tonight for a coupon party, and I have to say, it is UH-mazing! The cinnamon-sugar with the chocolate--I forgot how cinnamon & chocolate are a match made in heaven. SO good. And guess what? It is really easy. As in ridiculously easy. And cost-effective! Like--if you have sour cream, chocolate chips and basic baking ingredients, you're set! Great new "fall"ish recipe!

Monday, September 21, 2009

feeling the love

To Sarah, my wonderful friend and very-close-by neighbor:
You are a jewel. I love you. Thank you for bringing me that smoothie to soothe my horribly-sore throat.

To the random woman at Lin's who quietly insisted on paying for my $11 of groceries:
When you told me not to cry and hugged me, I felt like I had known you for ages. You are an angel in human clothing, and I will try to take what you've done for me today and pay it forward. I love you.

My heart is full to bursting; some really specific prayers of mine were answered today.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Of Food and Foundations

Because I have been feeling much more hungry than usual for the last four months as a result of my training, I have given much thought to food--mainly to how I feed my family, and how I want to be fed.

My little sister sent me a text this morning that said, "My weight rarely changes; it's like my [body] shape decided itself a long time ago." My reply was, "If you think about it, our bodies DO somewhat choose their shape early on. We were blessed to be raised in a home where sound nutrition was the norm, which set us off in the right direction." (Do I sound smug? My grandma says I'm smug. But she always says it with a smile, so I don't know if she's serious.)

I grew up in a home where we were nourished well--both in quantity and quality. My mom stayed at home with us seven children, and had several hearty, healthy dinners that she kept in regular rotation. We didn't stay away from any one food group, but we didn't indulge in any one food group much, either.

Moderation was the goal.

We were taught not to tie our emotions with food in an unhealthy way--i.e., do not pacify with food. But we did use food as a communication tool ("Rae, let's make some cookies while you tell me about your latest crush.") and learning tool (chocolate chip math, anyone? Family Home Evening lesson about taking care of our bodies?), and we bonded around the dinner table.

This is where that line between emotion and food is blurred for me--some of my sweetest memories are marked by a family meal. Thanksgiving, of course, but also dinners here and there where we were simply together and happy around the table. On Sunday evenings, when Monday-dread was looming and church-tiredness started to set in, my four sisters and I would make chocolate chip cookies. Always we ended up laughing or confiding, feeding each other's souls.

So I do believe that it is natural to have some emotional ties to food, and even healthy. So long as food is not the only way by which we work through emotion.

I was talking to my grandma once about the wonderful meals she served when I was little and we stayed at her house in the summers. She still makes amazing meals, when her aging spine lets her. I said, "Grandma, I miss real food. You know. The food you make. Food that just is what it is....real butter. Real mashed potatoes. Corn on the cob from your garden out back. Don't you think there's something to be said for the way we used to eat?" She gave an emphatic "Yes," but then laughed and said, "Except for the lard. And the fact that we were laborers back then."

I'm grateful to have been given a foundation in my childhood of good nourishment and an active lifestyle. I feel like it has definitely shaped how I eat now, and how I am teaching my children to eat. I am learning that extremity in any direction isn't healthy....if I want a cookie, I will eat a cookie. But I most certainly don't need 12 cookies. :) (Sometimes I do eat 12 cookies. No exaggeration there.) I do think that if I eat plenty of produce during the day, it is alright for me to have some hefty "real" mashed potatoes for dinner. And I also believe that now and then, it's alright to have a day when we simply eat what we want, because we want to. Even that isn't bad--in moderation.*

Everything in moderation.**

*I would like to state that I am in no way an expert. These are simply my opinions, and you can feel free to take what I've said and throw it out the window! :D
**I would also like to state that in our family we are free of any allergies, which makes it quite easy to eat a variety of foods.
***Thirdly (is that a word?), in general, I eat at about Great to Medium on the spectrum of healthful food choices. I'm not a health nut, but I do try to stay away from McD's and such.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

words to live by

While my last post communicated that as stressed-out moms, we're not alone, secretly, I have lately been feeling rather lonely-ish in my various efforts as a mother. Not because I don't think anyone has gone through more difficult times as a mom, but because I'm just in the throes of it; I'm a little weary, and I am having a hard time seeing an end in sight. (Oh Jaxon, WHEN will you decide to go to the bathroom ONLY in the bathroom?) It's more than the potty-training stuff. It's the contention. I am trying--so hard, so hard--to teach my children to be kind to each other. Most days I feel like it's definitely going to be a very gradual process. As in, maybe in a few years they'll go more than an hour without fighting over something.

But I'm not actually posting to complain. I'm posting to say that I read something this morning that made me feel so much better. So hopeful, and so much lighter. I know that what is frustrating me right now is not so huge, especially compared to some bigger things I've been through, and of course compared to some enormous adversity suffered by those close to me. But I also know that the Lord is aware of even my smallest issues. And even those smallest issues matter to Him.

Here's a snippet of what I read in the September 2009 Ensign this morning:

From Lessons from Liberty Jail by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

"...we must not succumb to the fear that God has abandoned us or that He does not hear our prayers. He does hear us. He does see us. He does love us. When we are in dire circumstances and want to cry, 'Where art Thou?' it is imperative that we remember that He is right there with us--where He has always been! We must continue to believe, continue to have faith, continue to pray and plead with heaven, even if we feel for a time our prayers are not heard and that God has somehow gone away. He is there. Our prayers are heard. And when we weep He and the angels of heaven weep with us. When lonely, cold, hard times come, we have to endure, we have to continue, we have to persist...Keep knocking on that door. Keep pleading. In the meantime, know that God hears your cries and knows your distress. He is your Father, and you are His child."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I Just Wanted to Say to You Readers:

If your 4-year-old punched your 6-year-old in the nose and made it bleed,

you're not alone.

If your 2-year-old punctured your 4-year-old's foot with a rake,

you're not alone.

If your bathroom smells disgusting, takes an hour to deep-clean, and STILL smells disgusting afterwards,

you're not alone.

If your 4-year-old uses his carpet for a toilet,

you're not alone!!

And if you find it simply exhausting and overwhelming to keep your temper in check when all of these things happen in ONE DAY.....

you guessed it. You're not alone.

It has been quite the day. I will recover, but at the moment, I have put myself in time-out until I feel forgiving.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My boy Jaxon is four.

When I was 3 months pregnant, Phill left for several weeks of training to prepare him for his second deployment to Iraq. Reed (who was 2 at the time) and I spent our time quietly, going to the park to swing, staying in on the couch to cuddle, or sitting in the rocking chair reading.

As my belly grew bigger, my heart grew heavier. I wondered how this little baby would have a good relationship with his dad, who was so far away and would be for so long.

I grew more and more round; Reed would place his hands on me, put his mouth less than an inch away from my skin and say, "You okay, baby? You come out? You come out and have some chocolate milk?" He was eager. I was anxious.

I listened to my HypnoBirthing CD every night. Every night, I visualized a birth without my husband, a birth still sacred and sweet without the company of the one I wanted most. Every night, I prayed for strength, and I prayed for my little boys--my Reed and my Jaxon--prayed that this long absence from their father would not somehow scar them. Prayed that I would feel gratitude for the support around me, and not anger at this situation that couldn't be altered. I prayed, and I was blessed--both with priesthood-holder's hands on my head, and with blessings that were very personal and tailored absolutely to my own anxious mind.

On August 23rd, 3 days past my "due date" (ha...ha.), my mom and I drove with Reed up Cedar Mountain, thinking to pass some time while we timed my somewhat-iffy contractions that had been here and then gone for the last several days. They were mostly painless; I talked to my mom, she talked to me, and Reed slept peacefully as we made our way along the mountain road.

We came home that night, and Phill called--he was by this time in Iraq, done with training and a couple of months into his long absence. I said, "I've been having contractions for a few hours. Nothing too huge, but....they feel different." He said, "I think Jaxon is coming soon. I just have a feeling." I did, too. I fell asleep at ten. This was the first of many tender mercies, as I couldn't usually fall asleep before midnight.

I slept so solidly, and yet I was aware that as I slept, my body continued to work. I awoke at midnight and thought, Oh. They're still going. I smiled to myself, relieved that this was really happening. I fell back asleep for a couple of hours. At two, I awoke, fully aware that I was definitely laboring. Not unbearably, just obviously. I felt both tense with anticipation and happy with relief. I prayed, fervently, that I would be fearless, and that I would see the good things happening around me.

I slept on and off until about 4, when I needed to get in my bathtub. It was a need--I needed that hot water around my belly, my back.
As I squatted there in the tub, the house was quiet. My mother slept downstairs, and my Reed was in the room next to the bathroom. I had been so afraid of feeling alone without Phill to help me through this labor. I had prayed so desperately to know that I wasn't. I knew, surrounded there in warm water, that I was being quietly supported. I knew that I was not the only one awake in my house. I cried some and stretched some; I talked to myself and to my belly. "Daddy is so excited. I am so excited. You just keep doing what you're doing, and I'll keep doing what I'm doing."

At 4:30, I needed my mother. I went downstairs and walked into the room where she slept. All it took was a gentle touch to her shoulder, and her eyes opened; she looked at me and said, "Hi, sweetie." She lead me up the stairs and was right next to me as I had a contraction on all fours.
My mother was so quiet as my body worked before her eyes, but I understood what she was saying. I could feel her saying, "I know....I know." Seven--seven is her number. She placed her hands on the small of my back, pressing, and asked, "Okay?" I nodded. She knew that less words were better. When I finished with that contraction, she said, "Would you like juice?" And I was astounded at how much I did want something sweet and cold in my mouth.

We called my doula: my pregnant (as pregnant as I was, in fact) friend, Camille, the daughter of a midwife, and my constant through that pregnancy. She came over, walked in quiet as a cat, and took her place on my other side, opposite my mom.

I was surrounded by good women.

I asked my mom to stay with Reed. After much thought, I decided I would rather have my mom at home with my little son whose life was changing so drastically, rather than at the hospital with me, where I was familiar with what was going on.

I didn't labor long. When I arrived at the hospital, I was so 'busy' with labor that I could hardly lay on the bed to be monitored. I spent plenty of my labor in a hot tub of water, sometimes moaning, and often just drifting, silent, in some other realm. Sometimes I felt carried away, grateful for the rest, grateful for a chance to refresh. Somewhere around 9 centimeters, my body paused.

For a bit of a stretch, I did not contract. I simply floated. And then I awoke, and felt that something was in my way. That I was waiting for something. And my midwife, angel that she is, said, "Rachel? Do you need to cry?" And I nodded, beginning to sob, saying, "I need Phill....I just need Phill....I want Phill." She asked with tears in her own eyes, "Do you feel like you can't do this without Phill? Are you afraid?" I nodded again, and she held me for a while. Then, when my emotions had run their course, she said, "Rachel, are you ready? Whenever you're ready, this will happen. You can do this." And I prayed, once again, for strength, for resolve, steeling myself. I had been told in a priesthood blessing that Phill would be there in spirit, and now I could feel his joy and his anticipation, and even his support. Further, I could feel my Savior's joy for me, His support, His influence in that room of women.

My legs shook mercilessly, and yet I couldn't bear to do anything but stand. I stood, leaning heavily against Camille, her own belly soft against mine, my arms around her neck. I marveled at her ability to hold me up! She stood so solidly, so calmly, just bathed in quiet and assurance. I breathed many thank-you's to her, and moaned--deep, low, moans that seemed completely involuntary. They simply rose up from the depths and carried me through each wave of my working body. They were the strange soundtrack to Jaxon's birth.

In only a few pushes, Jaxon emerged at 9:28 in the morning on August 24th, so quiet and awake, while I could not help but loudly sob his name over and over again. So soon he was at my breast, feeding eagerly and staring into my eyes, communicating in only a language mothers and their newborns know.

Tinged with the elation of this birth was some bittersweet aching for Phill. At some point afterwards, I wept and said to Jaxon, "I'm sorry he didn't get to see you come out. I'm sorry. But he was here." And later, when I looked at my phone, I saw and Missed Call: Unknown: 9:27A.M. Missed Call: Unknown: 9:29A.M.
Phill had called. One minute before, and one minute after. He had been there.

"...I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up."

Phill was able to hold Jaxon six weeks later, and see the video of the birth. He was home for good nine months after that, and Jaxon kindly deferred learning to walk until a month afterwards, when only Phill was in the room.

Our Jaxon is four now, and I feel as if I've only just caught up. He is incredibly funny, with the timing of a true comedian, but he's also quite introspective and silent at times. He has a very special, very different bond with Phill, and for most of his second year of life hardly seemed to notice me (in favor of Phill). He seems to already be reading some, or at least memorizing very well the things I read for him. He is kind to Savvy and in awe of Reed, and loves to play with them both. I love you, my boy Jax.

My Clean Car: A Poem

Crusted juice and puree of gummi,
contents of the cup-holders weren't yummy.

Forty different little toys,
long-car-ride entertainment ploys

Crushed-up goldfish, flake of bread,
an Arby's curly fry, long-since dead.

Stains in the carpet, substance on the chairs,
this poor blue van has seen its fair share.

The vacuum's monstrous appetite was satisfied;
when I looked at my cleaning cloth I nearly cried.

The moral of this poem I don't really need to say:
Don't put off 'til tomorrow what you SHOULD be doing today!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

basic happiness

There are days when simple pleasures are totally adequate to make me mostly happy throughout the day. (I must admit that I am not yet well-adjusted enough for this to work every day.)

Here is a sampling of a few things that made me happy today:Yep, strawberries. I did say simple pleasures, didn't I? Both the strawberries and the Ikea containers housing them. I just love the way it looks. (And tastes.)
Savvy and her new (new from D.I.) baby doll, Baby D.I. (Phill bequeathed this somewhat creepy dolly with the name "Deseret-Indigo", so she is "Baby D.I." for short.) All of a sudden this evening, Savanna looked at me and shouted, "Baby D.I.!! She wake up!" And she bolted into her room, with me on her heels. Holding on to the side of her crib, Savvy said, "My baby wake up! She awake!" So I took out Baby D.I. and put her in Savvy's arms. Isn't Savvy a good mommy?
I will be posting about my birthday and Jaxon's birthday, obviously not in chronological order, soon. He was very particular about the kind of cake he wanted, and I have to say, he was right on. This thing was delicious! I had two pieces today, and I'm planning on a third when the kids are in bed....sneaky, sneaky. (Once upon a time I hid in the pantry to eat a Creamsicle because I didn't want to share.) I love the fact that because I ran 9 miles today, I don't feel bad about 3 pieces of cake. I'm sure some marathon-training experts would be shaming me for my gratuitous dessert use, but....I just don't feel guilty! :D
Now, this thing....this thing makes me happy mostly in retrospect. I hate using the treadmill, but when I decide to be lazy in the morning and don't wake up in time to get my miles in outdoors, I end up running to the sounds of HGTV or the Food Network while Jaxon and Savvy watch a movie. Once I'm done, yeah, I'm happy!
Jaxon playing Lego Batman on the XBOX. His concentration is a hoot.
Reed ran into his room immediately after school to change clothes--into Phill's shirt. It makes me smile hugely to see Reed in Phill's clothes.
This man. The minute he walks into the door, my day is instantly better. I also happen to love him in dashing.
Last, and of course not least, on my list of today's simple pleasures: A phone call from my beautiful sister, Liz! We were able to talk for much longer than normal. We laughed, we really. We cried and laughed. It's our style. :)