Many May Milestones

This month has been one for the record books!  At least in our family.  Each one of my kids has accomplished some major feats and I could not be more proud!  And also sort of terrified and nostalgic and overwhelmed.

Jade

I do not know where this kid came from!  She is something else.  This year she has participated in more activities than I have in my entire life.  Since she is the only one of my children old enough to really get involved in activities, I decided to just let her experience anything and everything.  So at one point this winter she was a gymnast, a ballerina, an ice skater, a basketball player, and an actress all at the same time.  And she loved every minute of it!

Her first year as an elementary school student culminated in many very exciting events, starting with field day.

For her school field day, each class competed on its own in 6 different events.  Three events gave the kids the possibility of placing in the top three and earning a ribbon.  Jade was awarded 1st place in all three events (the 50 yd dash, the softball throw, and long jump)!!!  Go here to watch her in action.IMG_1082

Next came her gymnastics show and ballet recital on back-to-back days.  This session she was moved up a level in gymnastics and is the youngest in her class.  She’s also the youngest in her ballet class.IMG_1134

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And last, but certainly not least, she lost her two front teeth!  It was quite a battle.  She was hanging on but the teeth wanted out and they finally won.

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Oh, and one more thing: Next week Jade will be honored by her class and her teacher at the last Student of the Month assembly of the year 🙂 Shhh…It’s still a secret, so don’t tell her!

Lochlan

I wish I had video to prove it, but Lochlan’s vocabulary has exploded this month!  He really only says a handful of words that I can understand (mom, daddy, cracker, more, and ball) but he spouts off sentences like he owns the conversation.  He knows exactly what he’s saying and he gets frustrated, I think, that I don’t get it.  Also, his hair is getting sort of crazy.  Maybe a real haircut will be another big milestone.

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Now onto the really, really big stuff…

Everest and Calder

POTTY TRAINING.

There’s not a word that describes what has been happening in my brain since the big “P” day.  And I do mean day literally.  I foolishly attempted to use Teri Crain’s Potty Train in Just One Day method.  For someone who thrives off of being in control, this is a vulnerability like I’ve never felt before.  Potty training twin boys!

“The day” actually went surprisingly well.  As you can see, I was prepared.  And I was determined.  I had a small window of opportunity to make this happen while Jade was at school and Lochlan was at Grandma’s.

IMG_1030Our *Potty Party* started, of course, with gifts.  And what better gift to give a child than a Disney stuffed animal wearing a diaper.

The goal, of course, is to have the child tell their new doll that its time to get rid of the baby diapers and to teach them how to use the potty.  Both Goofy and Donald successfully mastered their first attempt (using a medicine syringe filled with water) and were rewarded by big boy undies!  Calder and Everest were so proud that they helped their new friends choose a reward sticker and put on their new underwear to watch a movie. IMG_1035

Now it was time for the twins to try!  This is what the next 9 hours looked like…

IMG_1034Only sometimes the sippy cups were filled with chocolate milk, juice, or pop…

And sometimes they switched potty chairs.

What a day!  After a few hours Everest was our first success story.  By the end of the day they each had half their chart filled up, and by day 3 (yeah yeah, I know it was only supposed to take 24 hours) they’d filled them completely.

IMG_1036I can’t say that my twins are “Potty trained” per se — What does it even mean when someone says “It worked for my kid!” ? — We’ve been at it for a week now and, while they haven’t put a diaper on since, I’m pretty sure pullups accomplish the same goal.  They know I’m not going to risk it and since we try not to sit at home on the potty watching TV every day they have spent most of their days/nights in these cop-out undies.

The good news is May has also been a month of many baths.

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Don’t be a Mixed-up Mom

The other night our family traveled a short ways to my sister-in-law’s house to help her with some yard work in preparation for gardening season.  Well, I had very little help to offer but I enjoyed getting some footage of my kids playing in the dirt.  As I watched my sis-in-law using the giant, heavy tiller, I turned to her daughters and said, “I hope you realize how special your mother is.  I would never be able to do that!” The next morning I was reflecting on the image of Heather in the garden and I said to Aaron, “You know, my talents have given me some pretty fun experiences, but I wish I had talents that were actually useful to other people.”  He, of course, disputed the idea that my talents weren’t useful (bless his heart), but I was still skeptical.  How could dancing or singing benefit my family in any way?

Later that day I found an opportunity to watch Dancing With the Stars while I folded laundry (I’m good at folding laundry!).  As I watched this dance segment I was so happy and I couldn’t keep from smiling but wanting to cry at the same time.  I watched it again and had the same reaction.  It didn’t forever change my life in a huge way, but it was a moment in a generally boring and monotonous mom-day that made my heart jump a little.  Okay, a lot.

Side note:  I’ve really been loving this show lately.  I think one of the biggest reasons is Candace Cameron Bure (DJ of Full House fame).  Her optimism and commitment to her faith and religion in the middle of raising a family and being in the public eye is inspirational.  Despite growing up as a “child star” she has still managed to stay true to who she is and people are actually rooting for her.  She is the perfect example of being in the world but not of it.  She has used her talents to inspire and make people want to be better.  Her children are in the audience cheering her on every week and one week showed her daughter telling her mother how cool it was to watch her mom out there feeling so empowered.

Remember in March I said I’d attended a inspirational conference for women?  Well at this conference one of the musical groups shared some thoughts about the talents they each wished they had.  One wished she was a better cook so she could make wonderful treats for her kids’ friends when they came over.  Another wished she was more organized so she could actually find clothes in her kids’ closets.  The last wished she knew how to garden so her family could be more self-sufficient.  They each admitted that these were not talents they had acquired.  Yet here they were, inspiring and uplifting people in a way that most mothers could never do.  One of them (ironically named Whitney) said, “God made YOU the mother of your children because he wants you to do ‘you things’ with them.”

I remember my mom getting out her old performance scrapbooks to share from her Broadway days and, on a good day, I would mmm-hmm and wow until she put them away.  Now I think my mom is one of the most talented and incredible women on earth who had one of the most rare opportunities any mother could ever have.  God made her specially for me.  She is my inspiration.  She understands the struggle it has been for me to stop dancing because she has BEEN THERE.  No one else understands that.

-1That’s her with President Reagan, by the way.

I’m still not entirely convinced that my kids are going to be inspired by the fact that I know how to dance or sing.  At least not yet — Recently I turned on an old performance video of mine for educational purposes and Calder threw a hysterical tantrum as he tried to climb up on the TV and turn it off — but maybe one day.

Sometimes I wish I had the talent of sewing, always I wish I had the talent of patience (it is a talent, and if you have it you are lucky), in the winter I wish I had the talent of skiing.  Almost always I wish I had every talent.  I’d be such a better mom if I had ALL the talents.

If you need to be reminded that this is not true, read The Mixed-up Chameleon by Eric Carle.  You can always develop new talents, but you don’t need all the talents to be useful to people.  Only the ones that make you, you.

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My valiant, pungent raindeer king

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One night many years ago, my sister and I were sitting in the basement of the home she was currently living in.  We were watching In Her Shoes, which was less than memorable because I couldn’t tell you today what it was about.  But the company was wonderful.

At about 10 o’clock my cell phone rang.  It was my college dance professor, Wendy Bone.  “Hey, Whitney, sorry to call so late.  I’m in sort of a desperate situation,” she said, “I had an emergency appointment come up tomorrow right in the middle of my classes and I was wondering if you could sub for me.”

This was BIG news!  Wendy never asked for my help!  Keep your composure Whitney, be cool, “Of course, what do you need me to do?”

“Could you come meet me at the school?  I know its late, but it would be much easier to go over the lesson plan with you in person and I won’t have time tomorrow.”  I didn’t need to think about it.  I apologized to my sister and hopped in the car.

When I arrived at the dance department building, I tried to recall if she had given me a meeting place.  I was pretty sure she had said to meet her on the stage, which was strange because her classes were in the studio.  But you don’t argue with Wendy.  I went to the stage door.

Darkness.

So I went to the studio.  Empty.  In fact, the whole building seemed to be empty.  I was sure she had said the stage, so I went back.  This time I saw a faint light coming from right in the middle of the stage.  As my eyes adjusted to the dark, I saw him.

Aaron McKee was standing center stage.

My mind couldn’t make sense of this situation, but the unfamiliarity of it made my heart pound as I walked towards him.  As I got closer I realized that there was music playing:  Goldberg Variations, a classical piano piece Aaron had told me he really loved.

He held my hands, and my entire future flashed before me as I looked into his eyes.  While I can’t remember the exact words that he said, I remember the feeling as he asked the most important question I’ll ever hear.  And my answer was yes.  It may have taken me a few days to realize fully that I had been lied to by Wendy, and that I didn’t ever finish that movie with my sister.

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Four short months seemed to drag on forever, and on May 6, 2006, eight years ago today, we were married in the Bountiful, Utah temple and sealed to each other for this life and for all eternity.

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I love this man.  He has shown me kindness, patience, and Christlike service and selflessness every day of the last 8 years.  He makes me laugh.  He’s brave when I am definitely not.  He allows me to be myself.  He has given me 4 beautiful children.  I am so proud of the man he is and is becoming (hopefully I have a little something to do with that).  I look forward to his future head of thick gray hair!

Happy anniversary Aaron!

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Drive-through candy stores

As my boys and I were driving home from dropping Jade off at school, Calder says, “A candy store!  Look mom, its the sucker store!”  I looked to see where he was pointing.  It didn’t take me long to realize he thought the bank was the sucker store.

“Oh.  No, Calder, that’s the bank.  It’s where we keep our money.”

“Bunny?!”  He exclaimed.

“Noooo.  No.  Money.  Like dollar bills.  Do you know what a dollar bill is?”

“Buildings?!”  Everest chimed in (“bill is” to “buildings” — sort of a stretch, I know).  “I looove buildings!  I wish I had a…I wish I was…a…I wish I had a construction hat!”  Calder nodded and giggled in agreement and they spent the rest of the drive home singing songs about building things.

I can’t stop laughing as I share this.  Of course he thought the place where we drive up to a window, stop and wait, and are given a sucker, was the “sucker store”.  Recently we went through a drive-through pharmacy and the kids chorused, “Suckers!”  Apparently drive-through=sucker.

Being the overanalyzer that I am, when I got home I started thinking about how this early childhood development theory, sometimes called schema, applies to life as an adult.  Don’t we all organize and interpret information into a conception based on our reality?  And isn’t it really difficult, and sometimes frustrating, when people have beliefs or fears that we can’t comprehend?

Calder also has a lot of fears (the dark, monsters, ghosts…digital clocks…the usual).  We’re really careful to sensor the things that he takes in from the media but you just never know how things are being processed.  And explaining to Calder that the clock isn’t scary when his hysterical “the car is counting down!  It’s gonna explode!” clearly says otherwise, doesn’t cut it.  Since digital clocks are everywhere, sometimes this can be infuriating.

But all I can do for him is assure him that things are going to be okay and be patient while he figures things out for himself.  Sometimes we have to tape a piece of paper over the clock numbers which isn’t so hard.  And sometimes, at the bank, they’ll give us an extra sucker just for me.

Shedding pride while finding worth: A lifelong struggle

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Circa 1989

I was in a jazz dance class, mostly with kids who were quite a bit older than me.  I was pretty proud of myself and it showed through my dynamic recital performance.  My enthusiasm came to an abrupt halt when, after my number, a little boy got up and sang a solo; my memory tells me it was the song Father Figure by George Michael.  I didn’t say anything, and I’m pretty sure I thought I hid my disappointment well, but I remember thinking he’s not very good, why did he get to sing by himself?

Summer 1992

I was attending a performing/fine arts camp in Wilmington, NC while visiting my dad for the summer.  During a lunch break, a small group began to congregate around one girl as she told a story.  I was nearby and overheard her talking about her relation to Christina Applegate.  I’m not sure why this was a big deal to everyone, or how they even knew who this actress was — At the time I only knew her from Married, With Children and Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, both of which I shouldn’t have been watching at my age — But they did care.  A lot.  I felt something well up inside me; a feeling I now recognize as jealousy.

During one camp day we took a field trip to a theater called Thalian Hall.  I was very familiar with this theater because the previous 2 summers I had been in productions of Annie and The Sound of Music there.  I’d explored every nook and cranny of this space as we searched for signs of its supposed haunting.  So as we walked behind our tour guide, listening to stories about when and why this building came into existence, all I wanted to do was run off and go back stage.  “This is boring.  Lets go see my dressing room!  This is my theater!” I wanted to scream.  But nobody knew, or cared, about my experience with this theater.  Why do they care so much about that other girl’s experience? I thought.

7th Grade

Our 7th grade class was assigned to complete an awesome project together.  We were to create an actual restaurant, interview for the job we wanted, and then bring our creation to life in the school cafeteria.  My Language Arts and Social Studies teacher, who also happened to be my drama teacher, announced that included in the list of jobs would be the job of “entertainer”.  I didn’t even need to look at the rest of the list; I knew that’s the job I wanted.  But since he also told us that the entertainers needed to first sign up for a REAL job, I chose hostess.  I thought that’ll be an easy job that I can get out of the way at the beginning before my performance starts.  Auditions were held, cuts were made, and the final cut left 4 of us.  For my final audition I chose a song from The Secret Garden.

The Girl I Mean To Be.

I thought it went really well.  I must have thought wrong.  Mr. Deboer assigned the other 3 girls as entertainment, while I was the only one who didn’t make the cut.  I fulfilled my job as hostess and when it was time for the singing to start you can guess who I thought could have done a better job.

Fall 1996

In the Grand Rapids Ballet company, cast-list-posting time was the most exciting time of the year!  And no matter my track record, I still had high hopes every time I walked into that studio.  We’d had auditions for The Nutcracker recently, and I felt strongly that this was my year.  I’d worked hard and paid my dues and this was going to be my time to shine!

It wasn’t.

But it also wasn’t Molly’s.  Oh, Molly.  She was one of the 3 girls who had been chosen as restaurant entertainment, and had also been cast as the coveted role of Clara in the previous year’s production of Nutcracker.

After we had all had our chance to look over “The List” I found Molly crouched under a ballet barre in tears.  I sat next to her and put my arm around her and told her it was going to be okay.  Her response?  “You don’t understand.  You’re USED to getting bad parts!”  Touche Molly.  And thank you for reminding me why I resented you so much.

Forest Hills Central High School: Senior Year

Since leaving the GRB company a few years earlier, I’d had very few disappointing experiences when it came to dancing and performing.  My departure overlapped with my acceptance to the high school pom squad, and upon hearing from the captain that my audition score had been highest of all participants, I knew I’d made the right choice.  I was finally — FINALLY! — in a place where I was appreciated and recognized for my talents.

My final year of poms I was named captain.  And at our annual pom camp, I was also thrilled to be chosen as an All-Star and given the opportunity to perform in Disney World with a select group of dancers the following winter.

86(That’s Molly embracing me…clearly only hugging me to try to overshadow my special moment…not really, but that’s the teenage me talking)

Before winter came, I decided to audition for our school’s production of “The Music Man”.  The auditions went seamlessly and I found myself again in a group of 4 girls (one of who happened to be Molly) singing the lead character, Marian’s, solo.

Disappointment set in when I found out that although I had made the call-backs, they fell on the same day as the final All-Star rehearsal prior to leaving for Disney World.  I made the tough decisions to back out of the All-Star performance and take my chances with the musical.  After all, auditions had gone so well!

I not only did not get cast as Marian, I was cast as a chorus member with no lines.  Molly was cast as understudy Marian.  I spent a lot of time regretting my decision to back out of the Disney trip.

Summer before college

Despite almost 10 years of difficult with Molly, she and I decided to take a trip to Wisconsin just before graduation.  We were both auditioning to be counselors at the pom camp we’d spent the last few years attending.

I have such wonderful memories of that trip.  The audition was so much fun, we met some great people, I did my very best, and I went home with a lot of confidence and excitement about my new summer job!

A few weeks later I still hadn’t heard back in response to our audition.  One day, I got a call from Molly.  “Did you get your letter?!” She asked excitedly.  “No…,” I knew where this was going, “Did you?”  By this point it was clear that she felt bad for calling.  “Yes…”

The best part was that summer:  While I was attending my younger sister’s pom competition, the same competition I’d competed in for the last 3 years, Molly was performing with the group of counselors as an introduction to the event.

Still in need of approval even in adulthood

I’m embarrassed at my reaction to all of these experiences, and so many others that I didn’t mention.  I really could throw myself off a bridge for allowing myself to waste so much of my life judging my worth based on whether I received more recognition than someone else.  And I wish I could say it stopped when I left home.  But as you can see, that’s not the case…

Last week

A few months ago, I wrote a post that included a story about a “falling out” that I had with a fellow Zumba instructor.  He is currently teaching at the same studio that my daughter takes ballet with, and whose recital we’ve participated in as instructors.  I knew that if I wanted to take part in this year’s spring recital I’d have to take matters into my own hands — he and I haven’t spoken since December.  So I wrote him and asked how he would like to handle this years performance and what days would be best for him to get together.

His overdue response came, in which he briefly told me he had it handled and that he’d already gotten a group together to participate.

I instantly felt rage that I’d forgotten I was capable of.  I didn’t realize how prone to grudge holding I really am.  I’ve always thought I’m pretty great at getting along with people.  But not this person.  As much as I’ve been blaming our broken-relationship on what he did to me, the truth is I just never wanted to see his face again.  And it makes me sad, because I really miss doing this.

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That same wave of jealousy I felt as a 6 year old in a dance recital, that same disappointment I felt when my teachers didn’t think I was good enough, that same humiliation I felt when Molly got chosen over me for parts, jobs, boyfriends (oh, did I not mention that my high school bf cheated on me with her?), the rage I felt recently at being rejected, it still creeps up now.

This is where I segue into something more serious and important that may not be immediately recognizable as relevant…

About 5 billion years ago

My spiritual beliefs tell me that life did not begin at birth.  Before the Earth was created, we lived with God as his spirit children, where he revealed his plan for us to receive a mortal body and live an Earth life away from him, where we would be tried and tested, but also form families and experience joy.  In this way we would have the chance to learn things we couldn’t without a body and hopefully one day choose to return to live in Heaven again.

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At that time, Lucifer (Satan) stepped forward and wanted to be recognized and praised as the one who would make all of God’s children return to live with him after their Earth life.  But at that same time, Jesus Christ, understanding that God’s plan required his children to be able to make their own choices and mistakes, volunteered to atone for the sins of the world, providing the gift of repentance and forgiveness to all of his brothers and sisters.

It was then that Satan, feeling resentful and vindictive, rebelled against his Father’s plan, taking a “third of the hosts of Heaven” with him, and in doing so was denied the opportunity to receive a body.  Determined to deceive the rest of God’s children into rebelling as he did, Satan has subjected us to much temptation, fear, and sorrow.

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I really do hesitate to compare myself to Satan, the father of all lies, the cause of all unhappiness and sin.  But when I get so angry about not achieving success, being the favorite, or being in the forefront of everyone’s mind, I can’t help but see that he is succeeding.  He does have such a strong hold on me.  I’ve been feeling so much hate and resentment towards people lately, and the more hate I feel towards others the less I feel I am worth anything.

I think he knows that the younger he starts tempting people to hate others and hate themselves, the more likely he is to succeed.  Lately, I have heard the phrase “It’s not fair!” out of my 6-year-olds mouth WAY too much.  Satan is no respecter of age.

One day, possibly many many hundreds of thousands of years ago, I made a decision to follow Christ’s plan and not Satan’s.  He’s angry with me for that and trying in every way to get me to change my mind.  I chose eternal joy and family in spite of temporary challenges, over limited progression in a naive and oppressed dictatorship we would have been subject to under Satan’s plan.

“…having made that decision, why should we have to make it again and again after our birth into mortality?”  The late prophet Gordon B. Hinckley asked.  And he continued, “I cannot understand why so many have betrayed in life the decision they once made when the great war occurred in Heaven.” (“The Dawning of a Brighter Day”, Engisn, April 2004)

He goes on to describe the “faint but beautiful light” that shines through the darkness of these perilous times the world has always lived in.  There are so many opportunities in life for us to do good and to be a part of something much bigger than our own journey.  We are told that we have so much more tremendous significance than we could possible comprehend.

But despite our significance in God’s eyes, “…this does not put us in a position of superiority.  Rather it should humble us.  It places upon us an unforgiving responsibility to reach out with concern for all others…We must cast out self-righteousness and rise above petty self-interest”.

Based on my history of pride and resentment, clearly I’m not qualified to preach humility.  Even as I write this post I have to convince myself that I’m not sharing my experiences so people will think I’m an amazing writer.  Or even so that someone might thank me for being the reason they found God.  So I’ll end with the words of another remarkable leader:

“Some suppose that humility is about beating ourselves up. Humility does not mean convincing ourselves that we are worthless, meaningless, or of little value. Nor does it mean denying or withholding the talents God has given us. We don’t discover humility by thinking less of ourselves; we discover humility by thinking less about ourselves. It comes as we go about our work with an attitude of serving God and our fellowman.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 2010)

UPDATE (May 25)

When I wrote this post, I honestly had no thought in my mind that someone who actually knew Molly would read it, let alone Molly herself.  I had no intention of dragging her name through the mud and I hold absolutely no ill will towards her today.  She is and was a beautiful person.  Regardless of the jealousy I always had towards her, I still considered her a great friend for many years.  I think sometimes we choose friends based on our admiration of them.

My point of this post was not to prove how terrible other people are, it was to show how in need I was and am of changing.  How in need many of us are!  Pride is a terrible thing.  It is no one’s fault but my own that I carried these grudges and resentment around with me for so long and life would have been so much happier if I could have let them go and seen myself for who I really could be without being compared to others.

As for the writing style, drama always makes for better story telling right?  So while I wrote as if I still hold these feelings as a 31 year old woman, I truly don’t.  It is always easier to see the truth and the purpose behind the experiences in hind sight.  I’m grateful for what I learned about myself through these times, even if I didn’t handle them as I would have liked.

So I want to sincerely apologize to Molly (and John and that little boy who sang a solo and anyone else who I thought was living the dream that I should be living).  They don’t deserve what I have felt for them in the past.  Love you Molly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Insomniac Child

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Ever since my little Calder was an infant it has been a real struggle to get him to bed at night.  The twins have always shared a room, but when we first put them in separate beds Calder began his nightly ritual of screaming himself hoarse.  Luckily, at the time our closest neighbors were about a half a mile away so no one reported us.

Despite the lack of sleep, I do have fond memories of cuddling with my little boy as he stared at me, refusing to close his eyes.  I remember one night when he was about 18 months old that I sat in the rocker with him sprawled across my lap, gazing wide-eyed into my face, my arms falling asleep, and thought he’s so big, I’m not going to be able to do this for much longer. 

Eventually his terrified howls turned into hysterical laughter.  After an hour-long bedtime routine, the lights are turned off and we slowly exit the room.  Seconds later, the laughter starts.  I peek in his room and whisper “Quiet, Calder,” and the giggles instantly halt.  Before I’ve taken 2 steps out of the door frame, it starts right back up.

After a few minutes the room is quiet.  But then we hear a soft creak in the door and look to see two little eyes peeping through the crack.  As I start towards his room, he turns to run and I hear a fast pitter-patter as he jumps back into bed.  When I enter the room, I approach the bed and kneel beside it.  I whisper, “Calder, everyone is sleeping.  Can you go to sleep too?”  “Yes,” he says.  “You promise?”  “Promise,” he replies.  “Okay…I love you.  Goodnight”.

You can guess how this goes on for the next hour or so.  Promises mean nothing to a three-year-old.  Sometimes it results in a firm pat on the bottom and a few tears shed.  Many nights the same thing happens in the middle of the night.  Aaron and I take turns going to his room and trying to coax him into falling asleep.  Once he (and we) have exhausted all our tricks, there’s nothing left to do but just wait it out.

Several days ago, this happened.  At about 3 AM, I laid in bed looking up at the ceiling with my eyes wide opened, thinking about what I needed to do the next day and if any of it required a well-rested body and mind.

Suddenly I remembered that the previous evening, as we tried “the usual” to get Calder to bed, Jade burst into a song that went something like “Go to sleep, go to sleep, you need to get your re-e-est…”, to the tune of — what else? — Let it Go.  Aaron and I laughed and tried to continue with the song.

And that night, at 3 AM, I did continue the song.  And this is what transpired:

The light still shines through my window tonight.
Jammies on and teeth are brushed,
lullabies of twinkling stars, ABC’s and babies hushed.
The sun is setting but I’m still awake inside.
Couldn’t close my eyes even if I tried.

I need a drink, my diaper’s wet,
there’s a monster underneath my bed.
One more light on so I can see, Mom, please.

Stay awake, stay awake, don’t wanna sleep anymore.
Stay awake, stay awake, don’t know what this beds for.
Parents still watching TV.
Maybe Oso’s on…
I don’t think sleeping is for me.

Funny how the darkness makes everything more fun,
but despite my curiosity I can’t play with anyone.

Brother, wake up and play with me.
It’s more fun than your bed, you’ll see.
We’ll play dress up with our dirty laundry.

Stay awake, stay awake, I’m having so much fun.
Stay awake, stay awake, can’t be the only one.
Mom thinks its necessary,
but I’m not tired.

My bed is soaring through the air to outer space.
I’m strapped into my bright blue car and I’m ready to race.
My yellow submarine’s submerged beneath the sea.
Fire truck’s on it’s way with help to those in need.

Stay awake, stay awake, I’ll miss something if I blink.
Stay awake, stay awake, I’ll never sleep a wink.
There’s so much to do and see!
When will the sun rise?
I don’t think sleeping is for me…

I would like to take credit, but if it weren’t for my clever daughter and my insomniac son, none of this would have taken place.  Oh, how I love them!

In the days that followed, I got it in my head that this was going to be something big.  So I pondered and worked and sang and edited and three short days later…

 

 

 

A little regret and a lot of perspective

This weekend has brought with it a lot of reflection, as well as a handful of stories via blog-surfing, that really knocked some sense into my hard head.

For the last two days I’ve been listening to the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Since college, I’ve always really looked forward to this weekend twice a year and have made a huge effort to watch all 8 hours of it.  Since 2007 it has gotten progressively more difficult to listen with full intent, but I do my best because every time, without a doubt, it redirects my focus down the right path.  And one day I hope all my babies will be teenagers who really look forward to and benefit from this weekend as well.

As I come close to the end of this conference, my head is spinning with confusion about how certain things can seem so important one moment and totally insignificant the next.

Before I forget precisely why I am posting this, I want to admit that my resentment towards people who don’t care about Zumba was entirely misdirected.  In fact, I had a friend stop me in the grocery store yesterday and explain why she hasn’t been able to come the last couple of weeks.  She told me she had been so sad to have to miss it because it is the highlight of her week.  And not only that, her 5 year old daughter was so sad to miss it because she loves to come play with the other kids!  My response — “Oh, don’t worry about it!  I completely understand.  I missed you!” — sounded sort of forced coming out of my mouth after what I posted the previous day.  But I realized it was actually more true than I thought.  Why did I start doing it again anyway?  Not for the praise of people around me, but to hopefully build closer relationships with people I didn’t usually spend time with, and show them a way to be healthy in the process…if they were interested.  Mission accomplished.  If anything, my resentment should have been directed at myself for being disappointed that I couldn’t stick to my original purpose.

So what I said Friday was exactly what I said it was…venting.  I had a strong emotion that somehow I needed to release, and it came out as anger towards people who I’m sure all had very logical reasons.  I’m over it, hopefully for good.  And I owe apologies to the innocent victims of my anger.

Now in the process of coming to this conclusion, I also came across two stories that just made me want to punch myself in the stomach for being so self-absorbed.  One was this one about a little boy who survived drowning a couple of years ago.  The other was this story about a mother of 5 children whose husband was shot in Boise, ID a few years ago by the husband of the woman he was having an affair with!  Okay, I can’t think of very many things worse than either of those two scenarios.  Except for maybe this one where the child didn’t survive the drowning.  Or the story of the father whose car was was hit by a drunk driver, ending the life of two of his children and his wife who was 6 months pregnant.  And of course the Nielsen family’s story is both tragic and inspiring.  Don’t click on any of these links unless you’re ready and willing to invest a significant amount of time retracing the steps of their tragic stories as you mourn with them.  You have been warned.

At this very moment, I have a good friend who is at Primary Children’s hospital with her 2 year old daughter who is undergoing a clinical trial for a very rare form of leukemia.  While they were very blessed to have caught it when they did and to have made it into this trial (she was #75 in a trial that only had room for 75!), they have a very long road ahead.  And not only that, but she has a pre-teen daughter with autism who she had to leave at home with friends and family.

All of these stories are incredible examples of faith and forgiveness.  Today as I look at my life it almost seems unfair that I’ve had it so easy.  And it scares me what could lie ahead in order for me to learn these principles.  Maybe you’ve heard the concept that if everyone were to put their trials into a pile in the middle of a room, you’d be quick to pick your own back up?

No, Multiple Sclerosis is not fantastic, but would I choose it over cancer?  Yes, of course.

Yes, having 4 kids within 5 years has been very physically and emotionally demanding.  But would I prefer to not be able to have children?  Or would I have chosen a career instead if I could go back?  Definitely not.

I understand that my Father in Heaven knows and loves me and has designed my life, with all its joys and challenges, specifically with my potential and progression in mind.  I’m really trying to find joy in MY journey and not envy someone else’s journey.  I’d love to constantly have an “attitude of gratitude” not only for my blessings and times of ease, but for the hard times that make me stronger.

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A time to laugh, a time to dance, and a time to vent.

If I was a mathematician, I could tell you the exact probability, statistically speaking, that people will show up if you invite them to something.  For example, if you invite 300 people to a wedding, you can count on 33% of them not coming so you’d only plan food for about 200.  The no-shows’ reasoning for not coming would vary, anywhere from “I live in New York and the wedding is in Hawaii” to “Honey, who is this person?  I don’t think we’ve ever met.  Oh, she’s your mother’s second cousin’s ex-husband’s new wife?  Okay, she probably won’t notice if we don’t show up.”  But even then, they’d probably send a gift.

But let’s say you plan something that is not only NOT in Hawaii, it is just down the street.  You offer to change the time if it doesn’t work into people’s schedule.  You tell them they can bring children so “my husband is working and all the kids are home” can’t be an excuse.  You invite 92 of your closest (emotionally and geographically speaking) friends to come.  And best of all, its FREE!  Now even if 66% of your invitees didn’t show up, that would still leave you with 30 guests.  Even if 90% of the people you invited didn’t show up, you’d still have a cozy little group of 10.

So if you’re really good at math, tell me, what is the percentage if only 3 of the 92 people show up to your convenient, fun, and free event?  This is a fun game, huh?

You may have already guessed that this is precisely what happened to ME this morning when I invited NINETY-TWO people to come to my FREE Zumba class.  I’ll be honest, I actually had five guests and not three, but that’s because one of the friends I invited, invited two of her own friends.  And 100% of the people she invited came.

This is actually nothing new for me.  I’ve been teaching Zumba for 4 years, and I actually think I’m pretty good at it, but I never could discover a magic formula for how to pack your classes.  Which is why I already decided I was done teaching, and then I decided again, and again!  And then I composed myself, blogged about it, and then changed my mind.  I’m such a glutton for punishment, I don’t know why I keep coming back to this.

But please, if you have someone close to you, or even just an acquaintance of no exceptional importance, who asks you to join them for something that they’ve put a lot of work into, do them a favor and just accept!  It will make their day.

Okay, thanks for listening.  Have a nice weekend 🙂

 

Making unorganized matter…organized. And making it matter.

Several months ago I wrote the following in a post entitled Leave No Path Untaken:

“I have an innate need to be part of things.  And not only PART of the world, but CREATING it and IMPROVING it.  Somehow my ego thinks this is possible and actually necessary or the world just simply won’t go round…It’s really difficult for me to feel just mediocre.  I tell myself I am destined for greatness and need to be the best at everything I do.  There’s a lot of pressure that I put on myself to be this person every. single. day.  Even when I try to GIVE MYSELF A BREAK by taking a walk (or starting a blog) I still feel like it needs to be the BEST walk of my life, or the absolute most inspiring blog post ever written!”

I think a lot about the need I have to somehow make every moment a memorable one.  Blog-worthy.  Epic even.  Last week I had one such experience which I would consider to be particularly remarkable.

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For the last few years I’ve attended a conference called Time Out For Women with my Mother-in-law and sister-in-law.  It is, exactly as it sounds, an opportunity for women to give themselves a break from daily tasks, whatever they may be, and focus on what makes them (us) special and important.  Each conference has a line up of inspirational speakers and musical guests (both men and women).  This year the line up included an incredible singer/songwriter/guitarist and also husband/father named Justin Cash.

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Well, since I don’t really ever “give myself break”, I used his performance time to imagine a scenario in which I got him a job working for my dad and devised a plan for how I would make this a reality.  If/when this worked out, Justin would have a great job, Dad gets a fabulous artist, I have something to say to this singer after the show besides “I really enjoyed your music!”  Everybody wins!  Of course I couldn’t just sit and enjoy the show.

Ironically, Justin also had a few things to say between songs and what came out was a paraphrase of the following quote by Elder Dieter Uchtdorf (Member of the LDS church general presidency):

“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before…Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty… As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you.”

Hey, that’s what I’m doing!  Thank you for the validation, Elder Uchtdorf.

So after the show, I approached Justin and, in the most composed voice I could muster, pitched to him my idea for his future.  Not wanting to offend him by implying that he needed a better gig, I think I apologized and smiled a lot.  But I was thanked with a hug and a napkin to write on.  I gave him my dad’s email address, with “Tell him Whitney referred you” scribed underneath.  Again I apologized and explained why I had written my own name on the napkin, he laughed and thanked me, I wished him luck and we parted ways.

I just realized how many times I referred to him as “Justin” so apparently from my end the meeting went well and we are now on a first name basis.

I was very inspired by this conference and did actually listen and not try to respond to or intervene with the majority of the show.  It was a good feeling to be recognized for the things I’m already doing, and encouraging to see that change is possible for me.  Probably the next few posts will have to do with things I learned from this experience.  But for now I’m going to make one last helpful (and hopefully profitable) plug!

If you’re reading this and you live in the Charleston, South Carolina area, please make this a priority!  It’s an incredible show created by a couple of people who I love very much, who also happen to have been very talented Broadway performers.  Maybe if you mention me they’ll give you a discount!

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I believe in karma.  Maybe…just maybe…now a spot will open up for me in their cast 😉

 

 

 

One choice can transform you

My enthusiasm for young adult fiction may have reached its pinnacle this past week.

If you, like me, savor this genre of reading material then you also know that the movie Divergent will be in theaters this week.  To celebrate this special event, a friend of mine assigned the book of the same name as this months book-club read.  Upon completion of reading something for a book-club, typically you gather together to discuss feelings about your experience reading the book.  YA fiction fans do things a little differently.

Here is a schedule of events for our book-club meeting:

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•As you enter you will be greeted by a table upon which the 5 factions are displayed.  Here you should choose a tattoo and use the small dish of water and cotton applicators to mark yourself before full entrance into the event.

•Take the following test to determine which faction you will continue on with in the choosing ceremony:

1. You most want your friends and family to see you as someone who…

  • A. Is willing to make sacrifices and help anyone in need.
  • B. Is liked by everyone.
  • C. Is trustworthy.
  • D. Will protect them no matter what happens.
  • E. Offers wise advice.

2. When you are faced with a difficult problem, you react by…

  • A. Doing whatever will be the best thing for the greatest number of people.
  • B. Creating a work of art that expresses your feelings about the situation.
  • C. Debating the issue with your friends.
  • D. Facing it head-on. What else would you do?
  • E. Making a list of pros and cons, and then choosing the option that the evidence best supports.

3. What activity would you most likely find yourself doing on the weekend or an unexpected day off?

  • A. Volunteering.
  • B. Painting, dancing, or writing poetry.
  • C. Sharing opinions with your friends.
  • D. Rock climbing or skydiving!
  • E. Catching up on your homework or reading for pleasure.

4. If you had to select of of the following options as a profession, which would you choose?

  • A. Humanitarian.
  • B. Farmer.
  • C. Judge.
  • D. Firefighter.
  • E. Scientist.

5. When choosing you outfit for the day, you select…

  • Whatever will attract the least amount of attention.
  • B. Something comfortable, but interesting to look at.
  • C. Something that’s simple but still expresses your personality.
  • D. Whatever will attract the most attention.
  • E. Something that will not distract or inhibit you from what you have to do that day.

6. If you discovered that a friend’s significant other was being unfaithful, you would…

  • A. Tell your friend because you feel that it is unhealthy for him or her to continue in a relationship where such selfish behavior is present.
  • B. Sit them both down so that you can act as a mediator when they talk it over.
  • C. Tell your friend as soon as possible. You can’t imagine keeping that knowledge a secret.
  • D. Confront the cheater! You might also take action by slashing the cheater’s tires or egging his or her house—all in the name of protecting your friend, of course.
  • E. Keep it to yourself, statistics show that your friend will find out eventually.

7. What would you say is your highest priority right now?

  • A. Serving those around you.
  • B. Finding peace and happiness for yourself.
  • C. Seeking truth in all things.
  • D. Developing your strength of character.
  • E. Success in work or school.

•To determine your faction, simply add up the number you have of each letter.  Depending on your propensity towards being selfless, honest, peaceful, intelligent, or brave, you will either continue as Abnegation, Candor, Amity, Erudite, or Dauntless respectively.

•Once you have chosen your faction, you, along with the other members of your faction, will start on a journey that will take you from home base to the grocery store 2 miles away on foot in 20 degree weather through the snow.  Without getting caught.

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I almost didn’t go.  I didn’t really want to.  I’m so glad I did!

Even though I am not a good runner, and it was very cold, and I was hiding in bushes and against people’s houses wearing all black while dogs barked at us, and we easily could have been identified as criminals and stopped by authorities (I mean look at us, don’t we look scary??), it was definitely worth it.  Especially since my group got there first.

I would definitely be Dauntless now.  Can’t wait to see the movie!