Thursday, December 29, 2011

Zhu Zhu's Mettle

After being dropped in a toilet full of Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner (which, I suppose, is preferable to being dropped in a toilet full of, um, other things one might find in a toilet...), cleaned under scalding hot water, and set out to dry before being prepared for burial, little Zhu Zhu is inexplicably alive and well, zooming around the floor making happy little gerbil noises.

Talk about resilience.

Although, all things considered, if I had been dropped in a toilet full of corrosive chemicals, waterboarded, and hung out to dry, I'm not sure I would be all gung ho about having a second chance.  Especially if that chance involved a tyrannical toddler who takes delight in poking her fingers in everybody's eyeballs.  Maybe it's just me, though.

Welcome back, Zhu Zhu.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

We Held These Truths to Be Self-Evident (Until We Became Parents)

A toilet plunger is not a sword.

Or a pacifier.

Or a hat.

Neither is a toilet brush.

There's a reason pre-chewed gum is not available for resale.

Edible foods do not include things found on the sidewalk, in the garbage can, or on the bottom of a shoe.

Grocery cart handles are not intended for licking.

Contrary to popular belief, the bathtub does not double as a toilet.

Toothbrushes can be used for cleaning or for brushing one's teeth, but the two are mutually exclusive.

If you don't want to share something, it is best not to announce what you have and wave it in your siblings' faces saying, "Look what I got!"

Tonight's spaghetti dinner is not meant to be used as a deep hair conditioner.

Diaper removal is meant to be handled with adult supervision.

Rain puddles are not suitable for drinking.

Puddles anywhere are not suitable for drinking.

Scissors are not intended for haircuts or clothing alterations.

Markers should not be used on walls, doors, bodies, or the family photo album.

Snot is not a food group.

Biting your toenails is physically difficult for a reason.

Milk in a blue cup tastes exactly the same as milk in a green cup.

Electrical outlets are not compatible with forks, knives, pretzels, sticks, or pens.

Public bathrooms should not be explored on hands and knees.

Sticking an object in your diaper never improves the object in form or function.

Proper uses of the toilet do not include licking, splashing, bathing, bailing, drinking, or dunking.

*This post is dedicated to the memory of Leah's beloved Zhu Zhu pet (Dec. 25, 2011 - Dec. 27, 2011) who died an ignominious death after being dunked unceremoniously in the toilet.*

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Post-Christmas Letdown

It's two days after Christmas and all the decorations have been taken down.  Not because we were in a hurry to move on to Valentine's Day or anything, but because we were all tired of staring at a tree that looked like it had been ravaged by piranhas.  (Well, most of us were.  Matthew cried like he was broken-hearted when he woke up from his nap to discover the tree was packed in a box.  "Tree!" he wailed over and over.  So sad).  Now the living room has that lovely clutter-free feeling that accompanies getting rid of the fake pine needles and random ornaments that have been residing in every corner.  Ahhhhhh.

It sort of makes me feel like I need to decorate.  The only problem is that I'm not one of those people who can throw two bamboo shoots in an urn and make it look classy.  When I do it it seems less intentional and more "Oops, bamboo is growing out of that ugly vase again."  Perhaps I should graduate to wheat stalks.

Christmas itself was lovely and was a calm end to a week that included the almost-two-year-olds boycotting their usual substantial naps and Matthew conducting experiments with a q-tip that ended up in his sister having a punctured ear drum.  Or at least that's what the evidence suggested, considering Leah interrupted my peaceful shower with hysterical screaming and blood pouring out of her ear and Matthew was following closely behind her wielding a cotton swab.  The doctor didn't seem fully convinced that Matthew was the culprit, but considering the fact that I found him today with a crayon sticking out of each of his ears, his defense is shaky at best.

Our Christmas Eve included a Christmas Story where the wise men brought the baby Jesus "Gold, metal, and plastic," according to Michael.  Frankly, I think plastic would have been awfully useful back then.  I'm sure Mary, especially, would have been thrilled. 

Christmas morning was relaxed and peaceful.  The kids played with their Santa loot for quite some time before anyone remembered there were also presents under the tree.  Leah, decked out in every necklace Santa had brought her, wandered around for a full hour holding a stuffed mouse, a plastic phone, and a bag of chips, happy as could be.

Michael and David declared the holiday "The Best Christmas Ever".  Michael has been enthralled by his big box of legos, Leah and Matthew have delighted in chasing their little Zhu Zhu pets around, and breakfasts in the days since have consisted of foods that are most often considered dessert items.  That, combined with the fact that David took a few days off work, means we're pretty content around here.  Even if Santa is considering shipping the light saber back to the North Pole until Michael is 21.

Are 21-year-olds mature enough to handle light sabers?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sabbath Observances

Yesterday at church David and I experienced a miracle - both toddlers fell asleep on our laps without having to be taken out of sacrament meeting once.  Unfortunately, motherhood has completely obliterated my ability to pay attention to anything unless it is in short spurts and involves snacks, so even with two sleeping toddlers, I couldn't focus.

My eyes wandered to my right, where a tween girl was playing the dot game with her younger sister.  They got into an argument which culminated in a loud outburst from the younger girl.  Her mother used the Deathly Mom Whisper in her ear while I smiled inwardly at the scene.  I don't know what the mother said, but it must have been along the lines of "Be quiet and apologize," because two minutes later the guilty girl handed her big sis a sheet of notebook paper that said, "I'm sorry.  Will you forgive me?"  At the bottom were two empty boxes with instructions to "Check YES or NO."

A bit later I glanced over again and the two girls were playing Hangman.  The younger girl was just solving her big sister's puzzle, which turned out to say, "I don't like my sister.  She is annoying."

Ha!  So much for forgiveness.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What Shall We Give to the Babe in the Manger?

Two weeks ago I was walking by the check-out line in Wal-Mart when I spotted a woman who was not only wearing fuzzy pajama bottoms to the store, she was wrapped up in a plush, polka-dotted bathrobe.  Completing the effect were her pink house shoes and stringy, just-out-of-the-shower hair.  I couldn't resist.  I pretended to be interested in a bin of $5 videos while I surreptitiously snapped a picture of her with my cell phone.  "Seriously.  A bathrobe?" I texted David.  "I realize it's Wal-Mart, but come on."

I intended to blog about her.  I uploaded the picture and began to type.  But then, as I looked at her, I changed my mind.  Maybe it was the fact that I had just spent the morning navigating the aisles at Target with two toddlers who like to remove their socks and shoes as soon as they enter a building, which, I admit, makes me look like quite a negligent parent, especially when coupled with the fact that Leah also regularly refuses to wear her coat in spite of the freezing weather outside.  Or maybe I just felt sorry for anyone whose circumstances caused them to end up at Wal-Mart wearing a bathrobe.  Whatever it was, I started wondering about her.  What if she was wearing a bathrobe because she just had a baby and couldn't bear to wear anything else?  What if she just had surgery or chemotherapy?  What if her whole family had the stomach flu and she had to run to the store between her own barfing episodes to buy medicine?  What if her house burned down and her pajamas were the only thing she had left?

Suddenly her bathrobe seemed less of a joke.  It was a reminder:  You need to be more charitable.

Fast forward two weeks and I was sitting at the computer staring blankly at the screen, completely uninspired as to how to begin my Christmas letter.  Michael had been banished to some solo wii time so I could get a few things done.  I felt stressed and busy.  I had new shelves I wanted to prime and paint, birthdays and Christmas to plan, doctor visits to schedule, guests to accommodate, bills to pay, laundry and visiting teaching to do, and, of course, plenty of cleaning.  I had put Michael off several times in his requests to play with me.  "I'm busy," I said.  "I have to get this done.  I'll play with you later."

From the couch he mumbled under his breath, "I wish you could have fun with me, Mom."

Again, like I had with the bathrobe photo, I stopped in my tracks.  I shut down the computer and hopped on the couch to play Super Mario.  Michael spontaneously hugged me every time I helped him pass a difficult level.  "I love you, Mom!" he said.

He was a reminder:  You need to give more time to your kids.

So it was that the words of a song came into my head:

What shall we give to the babe in the manger,
What shall we offer the child in the stall?
Incense and spices and gold we've a-plenty
Are these the gifts for the king of us all?

What shall we give to the boy in the temple,
What shall we offer the man by the sea?
Palms at his feet and hosannas uprising;
Are these for him who will carry the tree?

What shall we give to the lamb who was offered,
Rising the third day and shedding his love?
Tears for his mercy we'll weep at the manger,
Bathing the infant come down from above.

That's when I realized that the thoughts I had had earlier were reminders that I did have a meaningful gift to offer.  Time.  And my heart.

I'm so grateful for the Savior and for those little moments that helped me see how I could better serve Him -- Grateful for that Babe in the Manger who gave His time and His heart to save us all.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Whole Picture

Don't we look blissfully happy and in love?  Good, because we are.

P.S.  We were laughing because both toddlers were hanging on my legs, screaming at the top of their lungs.

Now you know. 

We are a Happy Family

Or at least we look like we are thanks to my sister and her ninja photoshop skillz.  Thanks, Di!

Make Love, Not War (Or Things That Don't Belong at Walmart)

No, this isn't an attempt to make a political statement.  (And what do people mean when they say that, anyway?  That if we would all just sit around smooching on each other instead of sending our military to drop bombs on evil dictators, the tyrants would calmly decide to stop torturing and killing people?  Is that how that is supposed to work?  Evil Dictator: "Well, I was going to continue with the whole rape and pillage thing, but since everyone has retired to their bedrooms for the evening, I guess I'll just call it a day...").

Ahem, where was I?  Oh yes, running through the aisles of Walmart, hastily chucking things in my cart (for two reasons: 1) I hate Walmart and wanted to get out of there as fast as humanly possible, and 2) I usually have about 4.5 seconds in any given store before one of my children starts screaming) when I whisked by a middle-aged couple who were actively berating each other for not having the ability to read minds.  Apparently, not possessing thought-discerning powers renders one "stupid" and "incompetent".  Also "#$*#&!" and "@*&#%!" in case anyone is suffering for a lack of adjectives.

Now, I'm not going to say that I've attained a level of righteousness to where I've never had an argument with my husband, nor that I haven't  heartily disagreed with him in public.  Because, while David may be practically perfect in every way (seriously, it can be so aggravating to argue with someone who has the ability to say, "I appreciate your patience" and "I can totally see where you're coming from" while you are yelling at him), I am not yet so celestial.  However, I do subscribe to the philosophy that any arguing-in-public should be mumbled quietly in a corner, not blasted through the loudspeaker on aisle three.  No fisticuffs allowed, and the discussion should never, ever be about any of the following subjects: sex, sex, or sex.

Because, as far as the rest of us are concerned, no one else has sex.  Especially, but not limited to, our parents and grandparents.  Don't shatter the illusion, particularly not by broadcasting that your sex life is completely conditional on your husband's adherence to your ridiculous Tyrannical Wife policies.  If you think so little of your husband that you dangle sex in front of him like a carrot in front of a rabbit, only to yank it away when he forgets to take out the garbage, we don't want to hear about it.  Especially not while we are perusing a shelf full of last season's clearance items.  Seriously, people, there is a time and a place to discuss such things, and it's not at full volume next to the cash register.

After all, you never know what people might mistake you for if you are discussing sex in front of a cash register.