Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Good Son

This video made me weep.

I love baseball. I grew up going to Wrigley, loving the sound of Harry Carey's slurred commentating from a beer-drenched microphone, and losing a lot. And then I married the biggest sports fan I know, a guy who feels more than just love for the game of baseball, but reverence and romance, a fiercely loyal Yankees fan. If I resisted, there was no way I couldn't become a Yankees fan myself. In the '09 season, our first year of marriage, it was a thrill to watch Chris get so invested in the games - as happy or excited or angry or totally bummed out as if their performance had a direct, specific impact on our family's wellbeing - and to become almost that invested myself. (I say "almost" because you cannot fake that). He is ritualistic and superstitious (if Tex got a base hit when Chris was up getting a drink, well then he had to stand in just the same position for the rest of the game). And then the Yankees won the World Series that year. Chris was sure it was because it was the year Olive was born. I was pregnant with Lucy during that Series, and we hadn't found out what we were having yet, so I told Chris: "If Posada hits 20 this season, and it's a boy, then we'll name him Jorge." Posada came through, but we had to wait for the next go-around to have our Georgey. It was towards the end of my pregnancy with sweet Lucy when Derek Jeter was named the 2009 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, and I read this article. I naturally liked Jeter before that, exhilarated by his trademark jump throw, but this insight into the man he is marked the beginning of my true fandom. I read the article a few times, and wrote this blog post about how it made me want to have a son so badly. And today, I watched the video with my good little baseball loving son. I love baseball, and I love the Yankees, and I have just tons of #RE2PECT for Derek Jeter.

Still hoping we get to see him play this season...

Friday, July 11, 2014

Body Image

Eight pounds. That's how much weight I'd gained when I stepped on the scale the other day for the first time in a month. And here's how I would like to have reacted: a healthy Ha, what a summer so far, woops! Followed by a non-obsessive commitment to upping the exercise while not downing so many maple bars. Here's how I actually reacted: sat down on the side of the tub and sobbed my broken heart out. Then the thought came to me, clear as day, This is not your worth.

The trouble is, while I understand that, I don't believe it. Because I have, and have always had, a terrible body image. It’s undeniable that our culture and society foster an emphasis on physical appearance, and that on an indomitable scale. Where my husband and children and I live, you can’t go too far on the freeway without seeing a billboard for breast augmentation or fat removal/replacement, and you can’t walk down more than a few aisles at the grocery store without seeing someone sporting fake eyelashes. It’s one thing to deal with what these images and influences do to me - I am constantly battling an obsession with trying to be better looking - but now, as a mother of 4, my more urgent worry is how to help my kids survive unscathed and with a healthy sense of self.

Here are three measures I am taking in order to help my kids develop a healthy body image:
  1. Resist complimenting them only on their appearance. Now, I’m certainly not saying I never tell my kids they’re beautiful. I do. But the idea is to seek out other ways to validate them more often so that the emphasis is on their worth rather than their appearance. In this same vein, it’s so important that when we are talking about others we don’t place emphasis on their appearance. Our kids are listening. Always. Even when they’re not, they are. And if they hear us making someone sound valuable or worthless because of the way they look, they will absolutely learn from that.
  2. Just let ‘em eat! Anxiety at the food table is directly related to eating disorders and body image issues, and that anxiety can seep in even when you think you’re harmlessly encouraging them to just finish their dinner. I present healthy foods, let the kids see me eating them, and resist every urge to have any conversation beyond that.
  3. For crying out loud, don’t self-deprecate. This one seems very, very basic to me and yet I hear parents do this all too often. Example is the best teacher, and our kids are going to learn to behave as we do. I mentioned before my lifelong struggle with body image, but you know what? My kids have no idea. I never allow them to see me or hear me in my struggle, and I ask family and friends not to engage in that type of conversation in front of them as well.

All three of these measures have something in common: conversation. How do we resist the impossible customs and habits our world culture is teaching us and our kids about our bodies? Just shutup about it! Stop talking about it all together. I’m confident that if we resist our urges to talk about it, to post articles about it, and if we just shut up about it, we and our kids will be OK.

Monday, January 6, 2014

I'm a good time manager, and I'm organized.

I'm a pretty avid secret self-deprecator and can destroy my own self-esteem quite quickly and thoroughly if I feel like it. It's taken years and maturity to be able to admit to any of my strengths. But a few people have asked about this, and Chris has urged me to share, so here are two of my best talents - I'm an excellent time manager, and I am organized.

The time thing is built in, I think. My mother is a punctual lady, and I believe I inherited the trait. Ammanda says I'm scary punctual. I'm not sure it can be learned, but in case it can... First of all, I make it a priority. I place a lot of importance on being on time, and I make it a point to teach the kids that being on time is good manners, and that being late is bad manners. Secondly, all I do is count backward from the time we're supposed to be somewhere and work from there. And with 4 kids, I usually give myself at least a 15-minute cushion. Not a huge revelation, but it works.

Perhaps the thing I do that keeps me most organized is scheduling. This includes managing our family calendar, yes, but I also have a sort of skeleton to-do list specific to each day of the week. I add things as needed, but I always strive to at least get the skeleton things done each day. The items are listed in priority order, and I have the lists on cute colorful paper posted on the fridge. So, without further ado, here are my daily lists:

Sunday
-Personal scripture study & prayer
-Scripture study & prayer with Chris
-Scripture power/morning routine with kids
-Keep holy
-Church, meetings, etc.
-Tithing & offerings
-Journal, photos, videos, blogs
-Read to kids
-Clip coupons
-Write to a missionary
-Plan the week with Chris
-Have an inventory with Chris
-Go on a walk with the family
-Clean up before bed

Monday
-Personal scripture study & prayer
-Scripture study & prayer with Chris
-Scripture power/morning routine with kids
-Family night
-Read to kids, play with kids
-Make, mail birthday cards
-Chore: deep clean kitchen
-Laundry: whites
-Exercise: kettlebell with Chris, run & tone alone
-Clean up before bed

Tuesday
-Personal scripture study & prayer
-Scripture study & prayer with Chris
-Scripture power/morning routine with kids
-Chris' kid date
-Read to kids, play with kids
-Chore: bathrooms
-Laundry: colors
-Exercise: kettlebell with Chris, run, cross training class
-Clean up before bed

Wednesday
-Personal scripture study & prayer
-Scripture study & prayer with Chris
-Scripture power/morning routine with kids
-Read to kids, play with kids
-Read grocery ads
-Chore: basement
-Laundry: darks
-Exercise: kettlebell with Chris, run & tone alone, go on a walk with the family
-Clean up before bed

Thursday
-Personal scripture study & prayer
-Scripture study & prayer with Chris
-Scripture power/morning routine with kids
-Kid date
-Read to kids, play with kids
-Chore: dust, surfaces
-Laundry: linens
-Exercise: kettlebell with Chris, run, cross training class
-Clean up before bed

Friday
-Personal scripture study & prayer
-Scripture study & prayer with Chris
-Scripture power/morning routine with kids
-Date
-Read to kids, play with kids
-Chore: vacuum, floors
-Laundry: as needed
-Exercise: kettlebell with Chris, run & tone alone, go on a walk with the family
-Clean up before bed

Saturday
-Personal scripture study & prayer
-Scripture study & prayer with Chris
-Scripture power/morning routine with kids
-Read to kids, play with kids
-Chore: clean out cars, garage, yard, outside
-Laundry: as needed
-Exercise: run & tone alone, go on a walk with the family
-Prepare outfits, church bag, lessons, etc. for church tomorrow
-Clean up before bed

There you have it. Nothing too magical, just a lot of self-discipline and definitely some flexibility. I'm certainly not perfect, but when I stay on this routine, everything goes more smoothly. The end.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

new year

For 2013 I resolved to be kinder, and to take better care of my body. Here's how I think I did:

Within the first week of the year, we were at a store buying diapers and wipes. When I arrived at the register I told the girl I was buying the diapers and wipes as part of a promotion. As she chomped her gum (seriously), she said she didn't know what promotion I was talking about. Now, the pre-2013 Brookey would've likely pointed to the poster showing the details of the deal - which was situated right over her head - told her that the details were right there, and told her in no uncertain terms that it was her job to know. That's my natural inclination, not because I enjoy being unkind, but because I genuinely become baffled by incompetence and then my subsequent delivery shows my agitation. But I resisted! I remembered my resolution, glanced over at Chris who was watching the whole process with delighted anticipation, and kindly explained the details of the promotion to her. That was the marked beginning to my year of denying this ugly part of myself. Throughout the year, I tried to be a kinder companion to Chris, a kinder mommy, and just slower to react in general. I certainly wasn't perfect, but I did maintain my focus on this resolution throughout the whole year, and hopefully softened at least a little.

A more markable success for me came in my physical endeavors. From January to March I participated in a weight loss contest, lost 50 pounds, and won the contest. In the process of losing that weight and winning that contest, I began running and I began working with a trainer. In the course of this year I have run several organized 5K races, and I now run 3 miles three or four times a week. When we still lived in Boulder City, I would run down to my trainer's house 3 times a week and work with her, and then run home. I definitely became stronger, and more toned. She had a Wall of Fame, and when we found out in May that we were moving away, I determined to achieve that before we left. Here's what it included: 100 pull-ups, 100 squats, 100 tire flips, 100 burpees, 100 lunges, 100 push-ups, 100 crunches, 100 tricep dips, 100 TRX bicep curls, 100 BOSU crunches, 10-minute plank, and a 10-minute V sit. I achieved the Wall of Fame the day before we moved away. Since then I have maintained good habits, given myself some fun breaks, and am starting to develop what I think is a healthy relationship with diet and exercise.

I'm using the momentum from the success of these two resolutions to cruise into 2014. I resolve to be gentler, to always put Chris first, and to continue to take care of my body.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Another Couple of Lessons Learned in Parenting

1. I don't require my older kids to help me with the baby. For one thing, they are pretty much babies themselves. But more importantly than that, it's my feeling that EXPECTING or REQUIRING help out of the older siblings is selfish and lazy on the part of the parents. No matter the age of the older sibling. If Olive and Lucy are feeling mommyish and want to be helpful, I give them little tasks to do. But the very second they show any resistance to helping out, I drop the subject and happily do it myself. They are children, and their priority is to be children, NOT help out Mom.

2. I am realizing a new phase of parenting right now. So far it's been mostly about maintenance - changing diapers, keeping them fed, wiping noses. But as of late, it's been more and more about refereeing fights and figuring out appropriate discipline. When my mom was here helping with Penelope, she expressed that the thing that caused the most distress in her life as a mom was refereeing fights. And I am quickly getting a big old yucky sense of that in my own life. See, George and Lucy fight almost constantly. Even if they're playing happily together I have to keep a close watch because it will quickly turn south, Lucy will likely become inconsolable, and George will likely give a horrible bite. And then there are so many times a day when I have to decide what is appropriate discipline for each child, whether to ignore a certain behavior, whether to put them in timeout, whether to spank them, whose side to choose... I have quickly figured out that I would rather change a thousand diapers than referee one fight or discipline even one time. I am constantly worried about whether I handled the situation right, and that is a new sense of stress that I hadn't anticipated. And it is so much weightier than the day-to-day maintenance of having babies. I have no answers, it's just a new phase of parenting that I'm seeing in my life. I don't like it one bit, and yet I know it's here to stay for a good 18 years at least. My mom said on the phone a few days ago, "You're doing the Lord's work." Oh what a help that is to remember. In the intense, nearly helpless moments where I just don't think I'm doing any of it correctly, I think of that. Thanks Mama. And heaven help me! Seriously!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Contrast of Courtesy

Chris took the kids to see Papa and Oatsie this weekend. I wanted to take advantage of there being zero car seats in my car, and go get my car cleaned out. Mind you, when we first bought the car a few months ago it was filthy so I took it to the smog/detail guy here in town. He seemed very overwhelmed,  had me leave the car there for 4-6 hours, charged me around $120, and did a very poor job cleaning the car. I was frustrated, but I just went on with my life. When we first moved here, I had spotted a full service car wash next to the kids' pediatrician. So I thought I'd give them a try today. The staff was totally delightful, it took a half hour, I paid $20 plus a tip, and the car looks fantastic. It's 7 Hills Hand Car Wash. You should go to there.

I went to Vons just now to pick up some groceries. Mind you, I've been having lots of pressure and Braxton Hix-ers all afternoon, probably because I've been hustling a bunch today. So when I pulled into the parking lot and saw the spot closest to the door was wide open, I made a beeline. As I was parking I saw the bright yellow ice cream truck to my left, but made the assumption that since she was the ice cream truck she wouldn't be parking. Boy, was I wrong! When I got out of the car, she hurried over to me and said, "Well, I can tell you're from California" - (we bought the car in CA and haven't gotten NV plates yet) - "you totally cut me off AND took my parking spot!" I said, "Oh I'm sorry, I assumed you weren't parking. I can move my car." She kept walking and said, "Psh, yeah!" So I said, "Gosh, you know there are other ways you could talk to me about this." And then she waved me off and hurried into the store. I didn't have a chance to say that (a) I'm not from California, but live here in town, and (b) have 3 almost 4 little children who love the ice cream truck, and (c) will find it difficult to patronize said ice cream truck after her crazy display of hostility over such a simple misunderstanding. I will say it made me feel compelled to be more gentle, slower to react, when people out there do seemingly dumb things. Incidentally, I totally started to cry after she barked at me - chalk it up to hormones and missing the family - and this older couple said a few sweet, validating words that helped me feel better. From one ugly exchange came another lovely one.

Friday, August 3, 2012

"Wise Confidence in Men Builds Them"

That's a quote from Marion D. Hanks. I like the way Goethe wrote it, and recently have been thinking about how it can apply to parenting:

"If you treat an individual as he is, he will stay as he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he could be and ought to be, he will become what he ought to be."

Chris and I try really hard not to do for our kids what they can do for themselves. Right now that means the girls put on their own clothes, put their dishes in the sink and wipe their own faces after meals, for a few examples. Later it'll mean homework and projects, and even later it'll mean making good life decisions. And so, while it requires having more patience than comes naturally for me to wait for Lucy to climb on and off the potty by herself, that little exercise repeated several times each day is teaching some valuable independence and self-sufficiency. And even when they fail, or ask for help, it doesn't come without at least a little bit of discussion and learning. That's my theory and hope, anyway.