what is a squiggle?

According to fifth-grade teacher Mrs. Hill, a squiggle is a beginning point, a small, wiggly line on a page with the potential to become something more--a brilliantly drawn fifth-grade picture!

A beginning point. A silly phrase from my preschooler, my teenager rolling his eyes, or my kindergartner deleting my entire 3rd chapter...

Friday, April 5, 2013

Am I Smarter Than My Six-Year Old?

With the warmth having returned to my desert home in full force, we've been prepping for scorpion season.  Last weekend we sprayed outside and inside the house and recapped our safety rules with the kids:

  • Always wear shoes outside
  • Check your shoes and clothes before putting them on (especially our eighteen-year old whose clothes live on the floor)
  • Be careful
  • And if you do cross paths with a scorpion, follow your oldest brother's example: scream like a girl and jump behind the couch to safety.  No, not really.  Don't touch it and get someone older to come take care of it.

My kindergartner is very afraid of bugs and is always very grave and serious when we discuss scorpions, black widows and other dangerous pests.  He's also my thinker.  Which combination lead to our conversation as I walked him to school a few days ago.

Just before noon, the day was still somewhat cool with an intermittent breeze flitting by.  I held my son's hand as we walked and felt like a really great mom.  How nice to have some one-on-one time with the boy.

Then he turned to me and asked, "Why did Jesus create scorpions?"

And I, in my amazing motherly wisdom, replied, "Um.  I'm not sure."  Looooong pause.  "Maybe he thought they looked cool?"

My son gave me an
is-that-really-the-best-you-can-do? look and let his gaze drop to his shoes.  After watching the dust kick up around his feet for a few steps he said, "I think I know why."

Curious, I asked him what he thought.

"I think when Jesus created them, they were good, but Satan made them turn bad."

Wow.  Such wisdom from one so young.  That simple phrase taught me so much.  My son not only understood that Jesus is Good and Satan is Evil, but he understood that Satan, by influencing the fall changed the nature of things.  Creatures that once lived in peace and harmony were now at odds with each other.  And by considering the nature of scorpions, he reminded me that I should do the same.  I should remember that the Lord is in every aspect of life, and I should look for evidences of such.

Am I smarter than my six-year old?

Not always.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Big Bad Mommy Wolf

If I had a dollar for every time my three year old has told me "Mommy your mean" in the last two days, I'd have, well, a whole lot of dollars.

I'm mean because it's not time for snack yet.  He calls me mean for not letting him have another Popsicle.  Or because I told him he couldn't have more snack after he'd already had a Popsicle, sour patch kids, and fruit snacks.

I'm mean because HE pooped in his pants and lost his reward.

I'm mean because it's getting dark, and  I tell him to come inside for dinner.  And because I make him hold my hand when we're crossing the street or walking through a parking lot.

The list of my evil doings goes on.

None of my other children ever called me mean.  They've never said they hate me or any such thing.  In fact, I like to believe that my older children live in fear of upsetting me.  But not this three year old.  He pushes me to the count of three then comes running, giggling and grinning, just before I finish counting.  He's like Nemo, defiantly swimming out to touch the boat, watching to make sure I see what he's doing just before he does it.

This kid will do the opposite of what I tell him while smiling mischievously, but then, when he faces the consequences of a time out, the tears quickly pool in his eyes and he says, "sorry Mommy."

Despite his tantrums and his flinging of the "mean" word though, he either loves me or really likes to torture me.  I'm the only one he'll let get his pajamas on or brush his teeth.  Only Mommy can take him potty or get him dressed.  No one else can put him in his crib and cover him up.

And as I ponder this, I suddenly understand why my youngest brother seemed to get away with murder in our home.  He got to stay up late, eat whatever he wanted when he wanted...he pretty much did as he pleased.

By the time he came along, the Big Bad Mommy Wolf was too tired to fight those battles.

I know how she feels.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Movie Night

Most weekends my husband and I like to unwind by watching a movie.  Unfortunately, sometimes a crazy, hectic day leaves us with little viewing time.  On such nights we usually manage to fit in one of our favorite Star Trek episodes before exhaustion knocks us out.

Such was the case last weekend when a late work day for my husband  made us push back our dinner date with our almost eighteen year-old son.  Which, of course, meant by the time we got home and got all of the kids to bed, the time was pushing toward ten thirty.

But we felt the need to relax and do nothing before we could settle down to sleep, so we determined to watch an episode of Star Trek the Next Generation.

Well, that was our intent.

We turned on the TV and the blue-ray player to access Netflix.  However, our daughter had left a movie in the player.  Barbie, and a whole lot of pink filled the screen:  Barbie and the Fairy Secret.  I jokingly leaned over and asked my husband if he wanted to watch it.

He must have been pretty tired, since he said he'd give it ten minutes, and if he was completely sickened we'd have to turn it off.

So we let the movie play.

And surprisingly  after ten minutes we found ourselves laughing.  Admittedly, sometimes because the movie was pathetically cheesy, but at other times because it was genuinely funny.  (Ken's tiny pink clip-on wings were quite hilarious )  So we kept watching.  Fortunately, we were too tired to be annoyed at the rapid reversal of feelings between Barbie and her worst enemy at the end.

When our eight year-old came out to use the bathroom, my husband quickly snatched up the remote and paused the movie, not wanting to be caught watching it.  But by the next morning, all of our kids knew the truth.  Mom and Dad had watched the Barbie movie.

Not only that, but Dad was quoting it.  More than once.

And so was our eighteen year-old.  Apparently he'd watched it, too.

This weekend, I'm hoping for a movie with a little more substance.  Hotel Transylvania is waiting on the bookshelf.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Firsts, Lasts and Inbetweens

I'm not a crier.  Except for the mad years of high school drama, I never have been.  I didn't cry when my oldest child started kindergarten.  Nor did I shed tears when he graduated from elementary and moved on to high school.

But...If I were to be a crier, this would be the year to do it.

2013 holds a frightening number of firsts, lasts and inbetweens.

Firsts: My oldest graduates from high school and Seminary in May.  He leaves for his mission sometime in July or August.  We're taking our first (and probably last) full family vacation to Disneyland in June. We'll spend our first Christmas without a member of our family (but at least we'll get to talk to him!) And for the first time ever, I have no kids in nursery and no kids who I'm counting the hours until their old enough for nursery.

Lasts: Today I went to my last "muffins with mom" with my eighth grader.  This is my last year of having four kids in primary.  In May I will disassemble the crib and assemble the toddler bed for the last time.

Inbetweens: My husband will baptize my fifth child in April.  My third child graduates from elementary school in May and will be old enough to attend the church dances in August.  My youngest daughter enters Young Women's in September.

The lists could go on.  But I'm not teary eyed as I contemplate these events.  Maybe because they are still out there, waiting to happen (except for the muffins.  And I didn't even blink back tears when my eighth grade son voluntarily gave me a hug in the middle of the crowded cafeteria.).

I have a feeling though, that the tears will catch me when I least expect it.  I got a hint of them during my oldest son's last drama performance when they called the seniors out and had them do an extra bow to the audience.  I'm sure my watery eyes as I watched him on stage were merely the result of my allergies and all of the perfume and cologne wafting from the teenage boys and girls.  Who cries at the ending of "Get Smart" anyway?

In the mean time, I'll be sure to keep a supply of tissues handy.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Play Date

Every school day, my three-year old and I walk my five-year old to kindergarten.  By myself, I can complete the trip in two minutes.  Even with just my kindergarten I can make it in under four.  But with my little Loopie Loo, the journey takes close to twenty.

His adventure starts the moment we step out the front door as he pauses to search for dead and dying crickets around our doormat--poor misfortune insects who made the fatal mistake of hopping into the pesticide that protects our house from terrorist scorpions.  After he's pointed out all of the bugs, Loopie Loo bounds down the steps, across the grass and onto the dirt road with its thick, loose dusty covering.  He plops down in a soft pile of dirt, dust billowing around him, and draws one of his two favorite letters--an "x" or a "t" or sometimes, both.

When I finally convince him that he can play in the dirt later, and that we must get his brother to school, he jumps up, his backside covered in a light brown sheen, and runs to catch his brother, who, by this time, is impatiently waiting at the cement bridge that spans the irrigation canal.

I try not to choke on the dust kicked up in his passing.  At the bridge, Loopie again pauses for insects.  This time he stomps around the bridge, squishing any and all giant red ants that come into his line of sight.  His brother helps him, until I insist on holding their hands so we can cross the street.

The second we reach the other side, Loo Loo pulls his hand from mine and runs to check out a hole in the dirt next to the sidewalk.  He steps in it, then continues walking--on the curb, which at his age, with his grace and balance, takes an eternity.  For a brief moment he runs again, just until he's moved across the parking lot to another curb, and starts over with his tight rope act.

At last I take their hands again, we cross in front of the cars dropping off kindergartners and step to the office.  My five-year old says his goodbyes and disappears inside the building.  Time to go home.

But, no.

Loopie wants to wave to his brother at the playground.  So we walk to the fence that surrounds all of the cool playground toys that Loo Loo wishes he was old enough to use; while we wait, Loopie tries to squeeze himself through the slats of the fence.  Only his leg and arm fit.

My kindergartner eventually emerges, drops his backpack and waves at us.  Loo Loo stares after him for a moment before we turn around to walk home.  He slides his hand across the low wall in front of the office, and triumphantly kicks at the traffic cones set up to guide cars picking up and dropping off.  Thankfully, he ignores the curbs, walking contentedly beside me until we are again across the street.

As soon as we reach the rocky dirt, he selects two rocks, one for each hand, before resuming his war against the red ants.  When he has smashed enough ants, he drops to his hands and knees in the small, round stones that top the dirt in front of the bridge.  After he hands me his rocks, he scoots through the pebbles for the three feet that they extend into the dirt road while I cringe at the thought of holes in his pants.

Finally, he climbs back to his feet and runs over to the decorative curb that surrounds our neighbor's landscaping.  Loopie calls it "the snake."  As he walks along it, touching each of the solar accent lights he passes, I pray that he doesn't break anything.

Then, he's mine again, holding my hand (not the one holding his rocks) and telling me about the airplane he sees or the clouds floating by.  We are almost home.  We actually set foot on our grass.  But he asks for his rocks and trots off to drop them in the big hole he discovered in our lawn.  By the end of the school year, it should be filled.

After he plucks a leaf from a weed, Loo Loo runs to catch up with me, insisting that he open the door.  He swings it open; I barely catch it in time to keep it from slamming into the wall and watch as he drops his leaf and settles onto the couch to watch a movie.

I sink into a chair.  Exhausted.  Grateful that it's Wednesday, early release day.  Because it's too early to walk from the school to the mailbox.

That's an entirely different adventure...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I'm sorry, my poor neglected blog, but I'm abandoning you for an entire month.

I shall not visit you, read you, or even think about you.

I have other things to worry about.

That's right.  Tomorrow is November 1st--the beginning of National Novel Writing Month.

For the second year in a row, I've decided to participate in the 30 day madness of writing.  And....I've convinced my husband to join me this year.

Looks like the kids will be busy cleaning, cooking and doing laundry.

Until December...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Day of the Dead

Halloween scares me.

And it has nothing to do with the year my brother jumped from behind a bush when I was walking back to rejoin my husband after taking my toddler son potty.  Although, that was pretty scary.  I nearly peed my pants.

Nor does it relate to the grotesque costumes that abound: Zombies, vampires, people sporting fake (but very realistic) injuries on their bodies.

My fear of Halloween stems from something far scarier.  On October 31, 2006 my husband nearly took his own life.

He hadn't yet been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but he had been suffering from depression since late summer.  We'd taken a few trips to a psychiatric emergency room, but at that point we were still waiting to get him in to see someone on a regular basis.  And none of the medications they gave him seemed to be working.  In fact, they were making things worse.

On the night of October 30, my husband and I stayed up late working on his pumpkins for a work contest the next day.  We had purchased a nice little set of carving tools: scoops and various saws and knives.  As we worked, I noticed that my husband kept pausing in his work and examining the implement in his hand.  His eyes had a strange faraway look, and I wondered if, at those moments, he was even aware that I was sitting beside him.

Realizing that my husband was considering how the carving tools could be used for suicide, I quickly counted how many we had and started tracking each one, hoping to prevent him from pocketing any of them.  When the pumpkins were finished, I cleaned up the tools, while my husband protested, insisting that he was fine and he could put things away.

After sending him out of the room, I found a hiding place for the tools and did a quick sweep of the kitchen for anything else that he might find useful.  I had already hidden most things weeks before.  Finally, I was satisfied that he was safe.

I was wrong.

I didn't know about the knife he'd found in the sink before my daughter washed dishes earlier that day.  The knife he had hidden under the cushion of the couch in the living room.

I expected him to be subdued as we prepared for bed, but instead he was oddly cheerful.  When I questioned him about his mood he shrugged his shoulders.  "Tomorrow things will be different."

His answer worried me.  I continued to press him until he finally confessed that he planned to take his life the following day, but he wouldn't tell me how.  I spent nearly an hour reminding him of all the reasons he had to live, of the people that loved him, and how empty our lives would be without him.  Nothing seemed to reach him.

Halloween was the day he'd set as his last day on earth.

To this day, I'm not sure what I said.  But somehow my husband ending up huddled in the corner of our bathroom, crying.  He told me to check under the couch cushion.  I ran out to the living room and found the knife, which I hid.

He insisted on going to work the next day since we had worked so hard on the pumpkins, so I insisted that his father drive him in.  I wanted someone with him at all times.  I picked him up from work and we took the kids out trick or treating.  Then I stayed up with him until after midnight, until the day changed from October 31st to November 1st.

Halloween had passed, and he still lived.

Six years later, my husband's bipolar disorder is controlled, and his moods are failry stable.  But he cycles in the fall, which happens to coincide with Halloween.  And lurking in my mind is the fear that one day he may again decide that Halloween truly is the day of the dead.