Tuesday, September 22, 2009


When I was a teen, I took a dare from Brother Bytheway and quit watching TV for some time, I think for about a month. Since this was the chief (read: only) form of entertainment available to our family in Blythe, California, it was a bit of a sacrifice for me--but worth it. I found spades of free time opening up for homework and relaxation, and a purity of spirit in my life that had not been present for years. When the month was over, my perspective had changed so much that I didn't care to watch TV as much, and as I got busier socially, there just wasn't time in the day for TV.

Don't get me wrong. I don't believe TV is intrinsically evil. Lots of great families have cable or satellite TV with all the trimmings and are able to make it work really well. And there are some amazing channels and programs that I know I would really enjoy. But it takes a lot of effort to strain out the good programming and avoid all the questionable stuff. And the commercials alone are objectionable enough to worry anybody. Plus, I know myself well enough to understand that wasting time in front of the TV would be a temptation to me. Not just relaxing in the evening, but basically watching instead of living.

When we got married, TJ and I couldn't afford cable or satellite, and didn't even bother hooking up the local channels. Over the years we've pretty much stuck to just watching movies, and it's worked for us. I love the absence of TV's noise in our lives, and that we're all in the habit of entertaining ourselves and each other instead of relying on the tube. I love that the kids spend so much time playing with each other, and creating their own adventures every day. And I love that the Spirit of our home isn't polluted by stuff that slips in through the TV when we're not paying close attention.

When we moved to Murray, TJ convinced me that it'd be okay to hook up the local channels, and, honestly, the offerings are so meager that there's no temptation to watch. But just last week, we slid off the slippery slope and hooked up cable so that TJ could watch the BYU games this season.

It's amazing that we've lasted this long, since TJ has worked in the satellite television industry pretty much our whole marriage. The poor guy installs the stuff all day and on the weekends certifies other installers, and he has no satellite dish of his own. So he plans to enjoy the football season like a normal bloke and then cancel our cable in January.

I'm glad we're doing it. TJ does nothing for himself, and I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen him manfully hollering at the excitement of a game. He deserves this. But I'll breathe a little easier when football season ends and we can disconnect the darn thing.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


The first few weeks of a baby's life are magical. But I really think they'd be more magical if each child came with his own Liahona-like device so that I would know exactly how to care for little Paul. It would come out after the baby and before the placenta, and I'm guessing that I would have a Safety 1st logo on it, just like my baby monitor. Any time there's a question as to Paul's needs, we'd simply take a gander at this handy little thing.

Why is Paul crying?
He pooped while you were out of the room and now wants a fresh diaper.

I have soo many questions for my Liahona! Why won't Paul burp? Why does he cry so hard when I diaper him, an early-developing sense of modesty, or he's cold? Why does he projectile vomit once a day or so? Am I feeding him too much? Too little? Is he allergic to one of five hundred possible items in my diet, and am I going to have to eliminate them, one by one, until he feels better? Or is it just your basic infant gas? Do the mylecon drops make any difference whatsoever? What can I do to get him to sleep at night, short of waiting six months? How can I get him to poop right after his midnight feeding instead of an hour later, just as I've finally got him nodding off to sleep?

So at this stage of development, it really is all about guesswork. I'm guessing that he likes swaddling even though he seems grunt more when I do it--because he seems to sleep better. But I'm not sure. I'm guessing that by keeping him awake for awhile after his feedings during the day, I'm slowly unmixing his days and nights. I'm guessing that letting him sleep sometimes in the swing is not going to come back and bite me in the butt.

Now that I'm the seasoned mother of four, (WOW! How did that happen?) there is one thing I don't have to guess at, and only one. Paul will for sure not stay one month old for long. Soon he'll be perplexing me in totally new ways that won't directly affect my sleep patterns. And I'll miss his sweet newborn kissablity while relishing the extra rest. So now's the time to relish his sweet newborn kissablity while missing the extra rest.

I just counted seven references to sleep in this post. Guess I'm a little obsessed.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I don't have the time or energy for well-written entries anymore, so don't count on reading anything witty here for about the next six months. Going on the assumption that most of you read just because you love me, however, I'm going to continue to blog.

TJ's doing really great in his student teaching. He's been observed twice, both times when he was in his very best form as a seminary teacher. We're holding our breaths for mid- to late-winter, when we'll find out that he's hired! He's been finding tons of time to be home and assist me, and I'm soaking up all the attention like a sponge.

Ezra's doing great in school and his attitude about reading and homework in general is improving under my prayers and relentless cheerfulness. Oh, and there was that time I told him to stop being a pain in the rear.

Liza is eating up her role as second mother in a way that even surprises me. She's a wonderful little helper and is passionately, fiercely in love with Paul.

Naomi is dealing extremely well with losing two siblings to school while gaining a baby brother. I'm so proud of her. She was barely complete on potty training right before the birth, and so far has not felt the need to assert independence by having accidents all over the place. Hallelujah for big blessings! She seems very happy and secure and I'm very relieved!

Paul is turning into a little fatty. He is a very sweet-tempered baby and eats really well, although the past few days he's been a little more fussy than usual. Sleeping at night is still a distant goal, but he's 100% worth a little bit of lost sleep.

I'm doing well, too. I've had a few rough days and many rough nights--but I'm discovering that when I'm approaching my breaking point, it's a good time to treat myself. A chick flick or a good book usually does the trick. Yesterday I was stressing over in impossible yet vital list of to-dos, and today I'm feeling just fine, due to an entire day of honoring only the very most vital of obligations. We've all eaten three meals today, the kids did go to school, and I did eventually find something clean to wear. Most importantly, I read two hundred pages of The Actress and the Houswife. I'll probably polish it off before morning, and then I'll be back and swinging at that to-do list. Funny how canning the thing for 24 hours put it all in perspective; there are really very few things that can't wait until you get around to doing them.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

First Day of Kindergarten

Eliza's first day of kindergarten was a poignant reminder of the fact that my days are numbered. Sure, I'll always be a mother to her, and she'll always need me in a certain way--but truthfully, she needs me a little bit less every day.

Eliza walked into the school with nary a backward glance, and I experienced that bittersweet mixture of pride and sadness at her independence. Of all the things I've worked to teach her these five years, I hope she never forgets how much I love her!

She's doing fabulously well, of course. She's well-prepared academically and socially, and really having the time of her life with all the fun activities they do in kindergarten. Her only complaint is that she hates being away from Paul for so long every day. It's will be so much fun to see how she grows and develops her talents in coming years. She lives for the spotlight, and I have no doubt that she'll find lots of fun opportunities at school to shine!
A tiny cry within the night,
A mother's touch, a gentle light,
A rocking chair, a cheek caressed,
A baby to a bossom pressed,
A bundle in a cot replaced,
A mother's footsteps, soft, retraced--
She whispers as the shadows creep...
"Now let me sleep! Please, let me sleep!"

Lynn Johnston (b. 1947)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dear Paul

Welcome to our family, Paul. We have waited so long for you! Through months of quiet and sometimes noisy anticipation we have planned for your coming. My tummy has been rubbed and greeted countless times as friends, family, and especially siblings have wished you well. Now you are finally with us. The sight of your sweet face is such a joy to me, whether you're sleeping or awake.
I even thrill at your beauty when you're sad or irate.

Every square inch of your body is the softest, softest soft. I rub your ears, your toes, your soft head, and I kiss your squishy cheeks all day long. You smell like...Paul. I breathe you in and will you to stay little forever.

Your siblings love nothing better than taking care of you. They love it when you cry so they can wait on you. They can't wait for you to stop eating so they can hold you.

You don't seem new to me. You seem as if you've been with us forever. How have we ever gotten along without you? Thank you so much for coming to be with us! Thank you for letting me be your mommy!