Tuesday, March 24, 2009

babies, babies

To my darling, baby-producing nieces: Well done, ladies!

Studies show that women who are mothers believe their lives have greater meaning... It’s difficult to measure the value of unselfishly giving of yourself to a child who depends on you. In the words of lawyer and mother Jennifer C. Braceras, "Mothers' reap extraordinary rewards that are impossible to quantify” (p. 2) And as researcher Ellen Galinsky (1987) points out:

Taking care of a small, dependent, growing person is transforming, because it exposes our vulnerabilities as well as our nobility. We lose our sense of self, only to find it and have it change again and again…We figure out how we want to interpret the wider worlds, and we learn to interact with all those who affect our children…In the end, we have learned more about ourselves, about the cycles of life, and humanity itself. (p. 31)

Yup. All of that. And more. Again: Congratulations, lovely nieces.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

holy dishes, batman!

I am contemplating a major Spring Clean around here. Ld has been after me to ‘clean up my act’ and get to the sinkhole that is our garage. Just the thought alone has overwhelmed and depressed me. But, for me, today, it goes way beyond that. I have pronounced myself a degenerate loser. Challenges and failures in my mothering and my total ambivalence for day-in- day- out chores and tasks that do not ever energize or excite me confirm this. Ahem. Anybody else need to ‘reel in the crazy’ and do the self-talk; the kind that usually calms and soothes negative, distorted and defeatist thoughts? Anyone else need a bit of encouragement and big ‘mo today?

Some fav quotes that nearly always help:

From Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and "Women's Work"

"Our culture's ideal self, especially the accomplished, professional self, rises above necessity, the humble, everyday, ordinary tasks that are best left to unskilled labor. The comfortable lies we tell ourselves regarding these 'little things'--that they don't matter, and that daily personal and household chores are of no significance to us spiritually--are exposed as falsehoods when we consider that reluctance to care for the body is one of the first symptoms of extreme melancholia. Shampooing the hair, washing the body, brushing the teeth, drinking enough water, taking a daily vitamin, going for a walk, as simple as they seem, are acts of self-respect. They enhance one's ability to take pleasure in oneself and in the world.”

And then later she says:
…”I was slow to recognize that combating sloth, being willing to care for oneself and others on a daily basis, is no small part of what constitutes basic human sanity, a faith in the everyday."

I love that: faith in the everyday. I love the whole book, only like 88 pages, but very insightful. A reminder that domestic rituals are not just trivial mindless activities. There can be a kind of spirituality associated with the repetitive and mundane, like doing dishes or laundry. (By this measure ld, you are the Dalai Lama)☺ In fact, considering their enormous life-giving importance, the feeding and clothing of a family and maintaining of a household can be done in a contemplative, spiritual way and can provide the motivation needed to, say, clean out the garage. Yup.

Which leads me to another quote I love, sort of ‘be not weary in the whole motherhood thing even though it never ends and you’ve totally screwed it up’:

“The family circle is everlasting,and so are its responsibilities and blessings. It is an act of greatness and heroism to hold a family together, to set before them an example, to teach them in ways of truth, to live a life of consistency…,to counsel, to love, to understand, to pray, to be patient, and to do the thousand other unnamed things that it takes to rear a family, to make a house a home—and to do it everyday, sometimes without seeming gratitude—and to lead a family righteously unto eternal life.

And since it is our Father’s purpose to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children, what could better be our purpose as parents? And what if it takes 20 years—or 40—or forever? What can life better be used for? Keeping a home, a family, going and together, is heroic.”

-Elder Richard L. Evans, October 1964 General Conference

To all the above ‘persevere in dishes and children’ quotes I will also add:

“The only time we fail in the home is when we give up on each other.”
- Marvin J. Ashton

I feel better.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Zoo Party 2009

Seems the concensus among young, educated and hip parents today that birthday celebrations for children should be kept low key. Parties should be less about the child (and I’ve even heard of some parents having the child do a service project for their birthday to combat the days’ self centeredness, not a bad idea really). It’s fashionable to protest nowadays (and with good reason) against over the top, crass, self centered and commercialized parties.

I get their thinking. I really do. These parents are oh so wise.


If you are a Grandma who has spent many years in Primary, Cub Scouts (where cardboard crafting reigns supreme), Young Women (where nearly every activity revolves around a theme, a theme!), and dare I add Relief Society with all it’s events, conferences, workshops, and funeral dinners, if this is your life experience then it is not possible for you to be a party planning pooper. Add in the mix a slightly obsessive personality to boot and it all stands to reason.

Therefore, I make no apologies or excuses for Cate’s birthday party. I simply get a kick out of the whole thing. I know you are all thinking, Doesn’t she have anything better to do with her time?

Nope. I don’t.

I love, love little birthday parties and I love, love cardboard and I love, love my little grandbaby. So there.

The Invitations
Kenzie painstakingly cut and glued adorable little animals on some cardstock (maybe she’ll post a pic on her blog, hint hint) with the following saying:

Friends of the Zoo
Have gathered to say
“Hey, Swing on over”
Cate’s 1st Birthday
We’ll have a roaring good Time!

The Games
Made my favorite way: on the sides of cardboard boxes. It’s great painting on them because you can fold them up and store them, they are all contained, and you can crawl inside of them to actually conduct the game.

Pin the Tail on the Zebra’s Rump

Let’s Go Fishing
(you climb inside the box to attach the prize to the fishing line and throw it back out over the top)

Going Bananas Photo Op

Feed the Animals Ball Toss

Puppet Show
(the script uses the song by Peter, Paul and Mary Daddy’s takin’ us to the Zoo tomorrow, remember that album?)

Giraffe Ring Toss
Much harder than it looks

Caged Animals
For the wild animal in us all

On the last side wall, you can’t really see, is a giant Flannelboard, made with some felt and glued directly onto the cardboard.
One of the books we purchased for Cate was Dear Zoo and Polar Bear, Polar Bear. I made a flannelboard story out of Dear Zoo (I found the patterns for free on a children’s website and she loves this. I’m going to make one for Polar Bear too when I get some time. Flannelboard stories are my latest obsession)

Another game, was Zoo Escape. Here’s how to play: Set out plastic animals all over the floor and cover them with a cloth. Then say excitedly, Oh no, the animals have escaped, where’d they go? The child looks and uncovers the cloth as all exclaim, “Peek a Zoo!” Remember people, Cate’s only 1.

The Decorations
Some vines twisted out of brown paper bags. A few streamers and some jungle leaves. Probably could have used some more monkeys swinging around.

Notice the sign lovely Meghan made. It turned out adorable.

The table is covered with some zebra fabric I got on clearance and some old tablecloths I had around the house. We just pinned the green cloth up with safety pins for a swag. Oh, and the Zoo Choo we made out of old Diaper boxes. So save those diaper boxes, ladies☺

For more details about the cake and party food, you’ll have to visit The Humble Pie. We had a lot of fun with the Zoo Theme food.

For our gift to Cate Grandpa ld and I gave her this sweet little rocking chair that I found online. You can’t really tell from the picture but it has a precious little poem stenciled onto it about Reading Happily Ever After, has a little clock, a chair cushion and attached to the armrest a little bookshelf built in. Needless to say she received some books, too.

For more party pics check out the Grandparentals. My next event planning will be….yup, you guessed it…the upcoming Arnett Reunion. Because I have nothing better to do.