“I can’t help you if you don’t listen.”

DSCF0006Natalie is a squirmer, and she likes to exert her independence, so everyday when I try to get her dressed, or change her diaper or put on her pajamas, a small battle ensues.  I ask her to come here, and she scampers across the room.  I tell her to lie down, and she wiggles and flops around and giggles.  I tell her to put her arm in her sleeve, and she thinks it’s funny to roll from side to side.  It’s exasperating.  And it gets old fast.  I find myself saying things like this all the time:

“Natalie, I can not help you if you won’t listen.”

“If you’re not obedient, I can’t get you ready.”

“Do you want me to leave and come back and help you when you’re ready?”

The irony of this whole thing is not lost on me.  It makes me think about how much Heavenly Father probably wants to help us, and how it might be so simple to receive that help if we just listened and obeyed.  I can’t help but wonder how often I’m running around doing “my own thing” instead of paying attention to what he’s asking me to, and therefore, missing out of the help I need to do what it is I should do that day.  Spiritually speaking, I need to listen, come when He calls, lay still and let him dress me.

“There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, uponpredicated— And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” which all blessings are   (D&C 130: 20-21)

“I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” (D&C 82: 10)

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Diagnostics.

kidneyEarly this morning I took Natalie to the Children’s Hospital for a kindney ultrasound.  She was pretty nervous because of all the invasive testing she had done a couple weeks ago when they were diagnosing her UTI.  I assured her that nothing would go in her nose or throat or poke her fingers.  She settled down and did a great job.  Everything was normal.

It was pretty fascinating watching the ultrasound.  Did you know your kidneys are all the way up under your rib cage toward the back?  I seriously always pictured them much further down in the “loins” region.  Anyway, I thought it was such a cool concept that we can take a close look inside ourselves, and and an expert can tell us if all is well or if there’s something that’s cause for concern.  (btw, This graphic is just pulled from an Orlando Clinic I found on Google Images.)

Anyway, I thought to myself on the way home that personal prayer is kind of like our own spiritual diagnostics.  We can look carefully inside ourselves and take inventory of what’s going well and what’s not and then take it all before our Heavenly Father and let him diagnose us, counsel us, and ultimately heal us.  The concept is actually quite cool, even more miraculous than the fact we can see our own guts on a computer screen.  I thought how much I probably put my spiritual health in jeopardy by failing to do daily diagnostics with the Lord.  It made me want to be better at it … again.  (Do you think I’ll really get it someday?)  When I do remember to say my “formal” personal prayers (not the frequent God conversations I have in my heart throughout the day), it’s very robotic and not nearly as penitent as it should be.  At the end of each day, if I took the time to think about it, there are probably many blips or irregularities on my spiritual ultrasound.  I need to discuss those with my Heavenly Father every day and clean that stuff up.  I bet that would make each morning a whole new birth, in a sense.  A fresh, clean start.  Literally.

And isn’t it interesting that something so scientific and medical could give me insight so spiritual and personal?

Here’s my sweet Natalie hugging the teddy bear they gave her after her little procedure.  If I can get my spirit half as bright as hers, I’ll be in good shape, I tell ya.

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Post script: I have to say I was genuinely surprised by the “controversy” that popped up in yesterday’s comment thread.  Let’s not argue about if one way of fighting pornography is better than another way; we’re all on the SAME TEAM for heaven’s sake.  The purpose of the post was simply to say:  I have a new project I feel inspired to do.  Would anyone like to help me out? Thank you to all of you who make efforts inside and outside of your homes to protect your children from what President Hinckley accurately called a “pernicious evil.”  To those of you who offered up some help,  I will contact you soon with some direction.  (And thank you so much.)   I’d be happy to add on any other team members along the way.  I firmly believe that if we can all do some part, in our own best way, to fight pornography or any form of inappropriate media, we will make a difference.

Lessons learned at Urgent Care

Urgent-Care-Nurses-StationMom guts just know stuff.  Natalie suddenly cried out during church on Sunday that her hand hurt.  She wouldn’t stop crying about it, so Matt had to take her out into the hall.  Strangely, she was still fussy and even cried about going into nursery, so I told them to come find me if she didn’t seem to settle down.  I was meeting in another room about 40 minutes later when I heard Natalie crying in the hallway.  I stepped out and the Bishop told me that Matt was looking for me and Natalie was not well.  We played that ridiculous circle the halls and not find each other game for a little while and finally met up in the corner of the building.  Matt said, “Natalie has a fever and she needs to go home.”  She didn’t look good and she had tremors going on, and I said, “Something’s not right.”  I took her and started asking for directions to the nearest Urgent Care and headed out immediately.  She was hot and listless, and I felt scared.  I know most people don’t react to fever like I do, but when you’ve spent 3 days in Pediatric Intensive Care with a son who had a series of violent seizures that they concluded were somehow related to a (low) fever, you respond a little differently.

So with my eyes glued carefully to the rear-view mirror, I drove quickly and said prayers in my mind.  I took Natalie out of the car and noticed she was quite hot.  I checked her in and the nurses asked all their regular questions, and I knew that I did not land on their “must be seen quickly” list by their reaction to my description.  I added, “I just know something is not right.”  We waited for about 15 minutes or so before Natalie started crying out again.  She threw up all over her lap and mine.  I sat stunned, not knowing where to move or what to do next.  (As a side note, one minor lesson I learned is that God has a sense of humor.  When I was feeling really nervous about EFY and my new church assignment, I went out and bought a $100 skirt because I liked it, it fit me well, and it gave me confidence.  I never spend that kind of money on an article of clothing, much less something that’s dry-clean only.  I knew it was a frivolous purchase, but I bought it anyway.  I was wearing it on Sunday.  Ha ha, sigh.)  A nice man brought me a garbage can and I threw her tights away after I used the dry half of them to wipe us off a little.  After that, she fell asleep with her steamy little head on my chest.  When she stirred for a while, I was able to get a small hospital gown and change her out of her soiled dress.

I sat holding her for a long time after they checked her vitals.  The rise and fall of her hot little body up against mine made me feel a tight bond to her; her health was just as much a part of me as my own.  My mother’s mind went through all the worse-case scenarios, and I mourned each one and ached for her.  I sometimes have days where I fantasize about spending some nice quiet time away from my children for a while, but in that moment, I had a strong impression that gave me a new awareness.  I realized that I would rather be there in that Urgent Care room, covered in vomit, with her than be anywhere else in the world, including a beautiful white and sunny beachfront without her.  I would not trade the love I feel for her for any of the “freedom” my life might be without her.  God gently reminded me how much I need my children.

When we were able to see a nurse and then the doctor, it was determined her fever was 102.5, but there seemed to be no other symptoms of sickness… minus the obvious puke residue.  She tested negative for strep and didn’t respond to a body exam with any expressions of pain, so they determined it was probably just a mean virus and I should keep her hydrated and try to control the fever.  The next 24 hours were spent alternating Tylenol and Ibuprofen, but the fever wasn’t dropping much below 103.  I called her primary care doctor’s office, and other than lowering her fever, they didn’t seem too concerned and gave me the option of coming in or not.  I questioned myself back and forth the rest of the day, but felt like I wanted more tests dones.  They saw her in the afternoon and tested her blood and urine, and ran an influenza test.  Everything looked okay, so they increased my doses and frequency of the Tylenol and Motrin and sent me on my way again.

Today the doctor called back and said that Natalie has a bad urinary tract infection.  Apparently her urine culture grew over 50,000 units of bacteria overnight?  Maybe you medical types will scoff at that, but it sounded scary to me.  I’m just glad to know what is wrong.  I’m glad I followed my gut and kept pushing for more testing.  I’m glad I didn’t just “wait out the virus” for the next several days because her kidneys could have developed toxins, and the fever would NOT have gone away on its own.  Moms just know sometimes, even when they don’t really know.   Sure love that girl.

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Someone in this family is going to jail.

So far I have counted three legal infractions today.

We went Wal-Mart (that in itself should be a misdemeanor).  Clark wailed in the parking lot and said he did NOT want to go in.  His heart was set on Sam’s Club and free sample handouts, but my membership expired, so we went to Wal-Mart instead.  He wasn’t happy.  He refused to get out of the van.  I explained to him that if I left him in the van, someone would call the police, and they would come get him and take mommy to jail and he would have to live with another family.  He thought about that for a minute with a scowl on his face.  I’m not sure what his real preference is, but perhaps for the sake of not hurting my feelings, he hopped out of the van and surrendered to our shopping trip.

While I was checking out, he and Natalie somehow managed to get about 5 toy cell phones in their possession and run with them over to the blasted arcade section in front of the check-out area.  I finally wrangled them back and returned all the merchandise to its appropriately unpurchased position.

When I got home, I unloaded the van.  As I was putting the groceries in the kitchen, Natalie kept digging in her pocket.  “I have lipstick,” she grinned.  “What lipstick?”  I was trying to think what she might have dug out of my backpack or van.  She proudly showed me her treasure.

DSCF2080“Hey, where did you get that?!”

She smiled again, “At the store.”

“Natalie….(remember that grumpy sighing I told you about yesterday?)… that’s STEALING.”  I went on to explain to her in terms that she understood that she was a robber.  (She always asks me, “what if there’s a robber?,” and I say, “He’ll go to jail,” and she says, “I’ll punch him in the nose.”)  I’m not sure whether she was more afraid of jail or a punch in the nose,  but she got a little remorseful and said, “I’m sorry mommy.”  I asked her what we should do and she said, “take it back to the store.”   To be honest it feels like torture to return to Wal-mart again with my children, but it must be done.

All that criminal behavior for this little gem:

DSCF2082Yes, it does say “Oooh La La Bubble Gum Lip Gloss.”  What can I say?  Natalie’s got impeccable class.

Grant is my smoochie kid.  He is super cuddly and lovey-dovey.  Not being much of the affectionate type myself, I’m often annoyed with his abundant loving.  (I know, that’s not very nice of me, but I am.)  So today, Clark and Grant were playing tag and I hear Clark say the classic line of obnoxious childhood, “You missed me.  You missed me.  Now you have to kiss me,” which of course Grant takes literally and chases Clark around the house for 30 minutes trying to smooch his face off.  I reminded him of my tramautic childhood experience of being chased by a kissy boy around the playground in kindergarten.  I also repeated my sage warning that boys who kiss people who don’t want to be kissed can go to jail.

So, I’m sure you’re all proud of me for raising a band of 3 pint-sized hoodlums.  Maybe our family can just become a small gang of toddler thugs.  Yesterday I cut off the bottom of sweatpants to make shorts for the boys and I used the discarded pieces as hats.  How do Clark and I look?

DSCF2075Maybe our gang can be called the Jailbound Jesters.  Send me chocolate when we’re all in the slammer.

(Final plea to go vote for my blog at MMB by tomorrow…. look on my sidebar for the link.)

Add Reptile Surgeon to my resume

Clark got a toy frog from his Grandpa this weekend.  It’s one of those gummy, stretchy kind of toys that is perfect for a boy with an overactive and slightly destructive imagination.  He stretches the arms and legs out as far as they go, flips it around several times, then releases it to watch it spin itself back to original position.  This is, of course, more fun with sound effects of what a frog would sound like if it were forced to ride the Vomit Comet at the local amusement park.

Unfortunately, Clark and said frog were a little careless in their adventures this morning.  He thought it would be funny to wind up the frog and then put it on Natalie’s head.  The result:

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That thing was all wound up and twisted in and out of Natalie’s locks.  After much apologetic wailing by Clark, it was determined that drastic measures must be taken.  I amputated the frog’s arm.

DSCF2032The rest of the arm was stretched out and twisted a hundred different ways in Natalie’s hair.  I would free one small section at a time, and then surgically remove it.  Final results:

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Dr. Oz and Sanjay Gupta have got nothing on me.  I am mother.  Hear me roar.

Lovely ladies

dscf1750Lately I’ve been feeling grateful for wonderful women in my life. Sometimes we let ourselves drown a little bit in the dreary details of motherhood, but a conversation with another mother I admire can lift my spirits, refocus my purpose, and remind me that I am not alone in what sometimes seems difficult.

When I was 16 years old, I was the only girl from my church group that was not invited to a particular formal date dance. When the next day at church, I was the only one who showed up in a regular dress, and the rest of the girls were all wearing their formal gowns from the night before (for the record, I’m not fond of that “trend”), I felt like an idiot. And in typical teenage fashion, I felt dramatically sorry for myself. I went home and moped for most of the afternoon, until the doorbell rang. There on my doorstep was Julia, the president of my young women’s class. Julia was a senior at my high school, and she had recently undergone a bone marrow transplant in an attempt to escape the cancer that had come and gone more than once. She was bald, but had a lovely smile, face, and grace about her. Anyway, she showed up at my house that afternoon with a small flower pot and a card. It said “Bloom where you are planted.” Apparently, she sensed my hurt feelings at church and went out of her way to reach out to me and encourage me. The irony was not lost on me. My problems were small and insignificant in comparison to hers, yet she was noble enough to acknowledge them and encourage me.

This trend has repeated itself many times in my life, especially recently. In the last month alone I can pinpoint conversations I’ve had with women who have significant struggles that make mine look ridiculous at best. But like Julia, they have served me. They have showed me kindness and made me feel their love and God’s love through them. One has a handicapped daughter and struggles daily with decisions related to her care and balancing her needs with those of her other children. Another recently overcame cancer while caring for her three small children. One has five, yes FIVE, children with special needs and amazes me frequently with her spiritual insight and willingness to listen to me. Another, pregnant with her fourth child, was just diagnosed with cancer. These women are AMAZING. They think they are ordinary, but they are great examples to me, and I thank God I know them.

President Ezra Taft Benson said, and I whole-heartedly agree:

The fellowship of true friends who can hear you out, share your joys, help carry your burdens, and correctly counsel you is priceless. For one who has been in the prison of depression, the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith have special meaning: “How sweet the voice of a friend is; one token of friendship from any source whatever awakens and calls into action every sympathetic feeling.” . . . What a boon to be in the company of those who edify us!

I’m also constantly amazed by those of you who drop by this blog and whom I read about as I surf the blog world.  You are good women with good hearts doing good things.  We should all tell each other that more often.  We need to say it, and we need to hear it.

A few shout-outs, just because I feel like it:

Jana at The Meanest Mom always makes me laugh.  Her post today cracked me up.  I love her integrity in parenting; sticking to her guns despite the pushes and pulls of children and critics.  (She’s also hosting a great giveaway, but you don’t need to pay much attention to that.  I believe 47,000 people have already signed up for it, so your chances are probably better with Powerball or the NFL draft.)

Heather at the Extraordinary Ordinary wrote a great post this week about the lessons that motherhood forces us to learn.  It made me think so much that I had to email her instead of leaving a comment because I was so verbose I would have been a comment pirate and taken over her post.  I love her authenticity and substance.  Incidentally, I spent some time with her in person recently and she’s just as lovely in real life.

And all of you that have commented on the General Conference Book Club posts have impressed me so much.  Thank you for being as cool and insightful as you are.  Really.  I’ve spent the last two nights falling asleep while reading Elder Christofferson’s talk, but I’m going to jump in tomorrow with my own feedback.  Hope to hear from many more of you, too.

And I have to mention this lovely lady:  dscf2015

She’s one spunky, delightful little girl who keeps me smiling.  Her daddy’s out of town this week and it’s endearing to see how much she misses him.  Today, she bumped her nose and said, “When daddy gets home, I will show him my nose and he’ll kiss it better.”  When I  grow up, I bet she’ll be my favorite woman on the planet.

Oh, the noise . . . the noise, noise noise, noise!

droppedimage-copyThis entry was originally posted on August 19, 2008.  (I’m re-creating my lost archives.)

Has anyone ever noticed that by signing up for motherhood you inadvertently sign up for a lifetime of mind-boggling noise?  Clearly this is fine print I missed because I’m not sure I would have knowingly agreed to surrender all opportunities for peace and clarity of thought.  Oh man, last night at Wal-Mart my daughter screamed so loud that the whole store (I’m not kidding, the whole store) fell momentarily silent.  After a painfully long pause, a woman many aisles away cries out, “Well, I think we heard that alright.”  (Since it’s not the topic of this post, I will refrain from commenting on the kinds of feelings I had at a moment like this.  I’ll save that pitiful musing for another day, since I’m sure it will happen again.)

Anyway, how can SO much noise come out of such small packages?  I mean it’s like children are little atomic sound bombs that blow up with random frequency, leaving pain and destruction in their path.  And so, bedtime becomes the mecca of each day… the beloved treasure of the night.  I wish that I were better at using the quiet time to actually quiet my soul; I so need to be better at moments of worship when the silence finally comes.  I think that if I were more consistent at using this time for prayer, scripture study, and pondering, then I would do a better job of seeing the good in each day and have more strength to face the next morning. I’m curious; what works for you? (I know you’ll say it, but please don’t tell me to wake up before everyone else! It hurts just to think about it.)

UPDATE:  Since I published this post, I did find one way to help me with scripture study/devotional time.  After Natalie goes down for her nap, I sit at the kitchen table with the boys and set the timer for 30 minutes.  They can choose to read books or color pictures, but they know they need to be quiet because it’s “mommy’s scripture time.”  They do a pretty good job and I’m able to read and think a lot more than I expected I would, plus I love that they see me read my scriptures and know that it’s important to me.  Of course, like most of my great ideas, I struggle with consistency… but I’m trying.

(Saturday is last day  to vote for your favorite limerick.)