Friday, January 20, 2012


The word makes me a little intimidated. And so I procrastinated a little. Just a little. Until about halfway through January.

Then I started to get intimidated by some other words: "I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don't set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential." -M. Russell Ballard

And so, about halfway through January, I set my New Year's Resolutions. And I wrote them down. And I did it in a fairly nerdy way....

I broke my goals up into four categories: spiritual, physical, family and talent (yeah, I know, those don't flow very fluidly together, but it works for me). Then I chose a goal for each category. Then, beneath each goal, in proper outline form (wow, it is nerdy!), I wrote out "sub-goals", i.e. the specifics of my goals and the smaller steps I need to take to reach the goal, with appropriate calendar deadlines where it applies.

And then I took a look at my goal outline/yearly plan--essentially, this is what I'm doing, right? Planning my year?--and I was immediately overcome with two very powerful feelings:

1. Elation. "Wow!" I thought. "Look at this! I'm going to be a powerhouse by the end of the year! Look at everything I will have accomplished! I will be unstoppable!" And I reveled for a moment in my goals--each one deliberately thought out, calculated to stretch but not overwhelm me. It felt really fantastic, to see them written out there, in black and white, with my own how-tos and completion dates and even the occasional helpful pointer. I was proud of myself, and relieved to have given them real dimensions, rather than leaving them as nebulous ideas ("I want to be healthier. I want to work on my talents. I want to spend more quality time with my kids" etc).

And then.... 2. Fear. Almost kind-of heart-stopping, paralyzing fear. "Holy smokes!" I thought. "What in the world am I thinking?! Need I remind myself that I'm having Offspring #3 this year? That means three little people to take care of all day! When am I planning on doing all of this? And geez, why did I write the blessed things down? Don't I know that means that I'm accountable now, because I actually gave them definition?" And I started to panic, already projecting when and why my failure date would come.....

And then I took a deep breath, and I thought again of Elder Ballard's quote. Do I want to reach that ripe old age and look back and realize I didn't make real all the dreams I had at this time of my life? Because I was making excuses?! Like how I'd have so much more time when..... when? When am I magically going to have more than 15-18 waking hours in a day? When am I suddenly going to find myself without obligations of one kind or another?

Or really, more honestly, when am I going to wake up having magically absorbed the ganas that I'm lacking. That's what I'm really waiting for, isn't it? The day when I suddenly feel that "up-and-at-em" spirit the moment I get out of bed. Except nobody just has that. I don't think even the movers-and-shakers of the world just had that feeling one day. I think they made themselves have it, every morning, when their blasted alarm was going off at 6:00am again! And they thought about the hard work they'd have to put into their kid-raising and their writing and their neighborly service and their whatever that day. And maybe they groaned a little. Then they got up and did it.... and did it better and better every day! And that's what we all have to do, to be powerful potential-reachers one day.

So I have my goals for the year. The ones that are challenging but attainable. The ones that I thought and planned knowing I had another little dude coming. Knowing that I'd have to pull myself out of bed earlier than I really like to. Knowing that I'd have to give up some of my coveted kid-nap-time/mommy-movie-time to study and write and practice and stretch and grow. And yep, I'm still intimidated. But I'm kicking the fear out of bed. Because at the end of 2012, I want to see, for myself--because, really, what do my goals matter to anyone else?--a change in myself: In my abilities and confidence, my relationship with my lover and kiddos, and my own sense of worth and daily peace. I want to look back, when I start thinking about goals for 2013 (when I'll be thirty, by the way--yikes!), and say, "Wow! Look at everything I accomplished last year! I was--I am--a powerhouse!"

So, really, my overall goal for 2012: Become a Powerhouse! And I know how.... Now bring on the hard part....

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Three Whole Years

My boy is three! What a trip! That I have a child--that I bore a child--that has reached three years of age! (Do you sometimes have those moments where you sit back and look at your children, and it dawns on you again, "What the heck?! I am your mother! When did this happen??")

Well, it was a rather lovely birthday. We spent the weekend at Chad's parents, and so we did his party shindig over there. And I'm sure he was all kinds of proud that day, because he pretty much got to throw out all of Mom's regular rules--"Yeah, go ahead and have another cookie, it's your birthday." "No, I guess you don't have to eat your noodles, it's your birthday." "Okay, you can watch another movie, it's your birthday." And all week the anticipation was building.... I would ask him what we were going to do on his birthday, and he list off all the highlights he was looking forward to most--"We're gonna eat chicken nuggets! And blow up balloons! And have cake!"

And that really kinda covers the bases. We had chicken nuggets for dinner--Coren's choice, of course. And fruit and cookie salad (I also added a regular salad to the menu to make it a little more appetizing for the adults). And we blew up balloons and left them all over the floor.... I tried to hang them up with the streamers, but Coren took one look at my first hung balloon and stated, on the verge of tears, "You can't do it, Mommy! It's too high, I can't get it." So I pulled it down and left all his coveted balloons where he could get to them.

And I made a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse cake for the boy--another special request; Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is his favorite these days.

Which didn't turn out too badly, actually. I did have to doctor it a bit and change some of my original plans around to make it work, but it did the job. What really made me most proud was how, for the entire week after Coren's birthday, whenever he saw the clubhouse at the beginning credits of the show, he yelled, "Look, Mommy! My cake! It's my cake!" Success! The cake was followed by presents, and it was a perfect little party for him, meeting all his expectations. Hooray!

Some updates on my three year-old boy:

-He loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, as I stated before. And he has just started a Blues Clues and Jake and the Neverland Pirates kick.

-He has a macabre streak, which I'm still trying to decide whether or not I should worry about. He loves The Nightmare Before Christmas and can pretty much sing the entire opening song word for word, as well as being able to quote about half of the movie itself. He loves Monster House and "Spoky Marley" (Disney's A Christmas Carol, which, yes, is quite "spoky"). He pretty much enjoys anything with monsters, aliens, weird creatures, or dark stop-animation (like all of Henry Selick's work).... And before you really protective mothers start to get all hot and bothered, no, we haven't let him start watching anything past kid-level maturity, so don't worry. Just the creepy made-for-children movies for us! :)

-He has started making statements about when he thinks Mom or Risa or Daddy are funny. And he'll even happily admit when he himself is funny.

-He LOVES music. He's definitely the musical product of his parents, which is probably inescapable for any of our kids. But he takes it to a whole new toddler level. He has certain songs which are assigned to each family member. He knows which songs are Mommy's songs and which songs are Coren's songs. He can tell you what movie a song is from after the first four notes, practically. But then he wants to know about every other song that comes on as well. And he runs me through a gamut of questions. What is this song? Why is it called that? Whose song is it? Why do they sing this part? What are they saying? Do you like it, Mommy? Why do they sing like that? And so on and so forth. And he picks up a song after hearing it one time.... I am with my children pretty much all week but the two hours they're in primary. And yet, out of the blue yesterday, Coren sings the entire song of "The Wheels on the Bus," which I have never sung or played for him. All I can figure is that they sang it in his class on Sunday, and therefore he memorized the whole thing, the whole thing! I'm beginning to think his inner thoughts run through his head with melody lines.

-He's still a super-fruit boy. But he has also discovered some of the regular kid favorites, like, well, chicken nuggets and hot dogs and cheeseburgers (which he always asks for in the "cool computer voice" from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs). He still hasn't gotten into some other kid regulars, though, like pizza and mac and cheese--a couple of bites and he's done. He loves trees (broccoli), and he likes pasta without the red sauce. And, of course, he loves cheese, in pretty much all its forms.

-He loves the snow. He'll wake up and peek his bleary eyes out the window, and the minute he sees the snow (which, really, has only been a few times this year, thus far) he asks for his boots and his Jack hat. And I give them to him. I bundle him up and let him go out whenever he asks to, because I'm trying really hard not to kill my children's love of snow with my own less-than-favorable opinions about it.

-And the boy is a crafter. Huh. We discovered this just in the last couple of months. Especially at the Brooks family reunion. They had three or four crafts each day for the kids to do. And we were rather astonished: Coren was the last child remaining at every craft, still working on his little project long after all the other kids had lost interest. Who would have thought? A project boy! A hands-on boy!

-He's trying to find the balance between playing with Risa and driving her nuts. It's a delicate balance. But he is thoroughly enjoying his playmate these days. Which is my favorite thing ever!

-And he's officially daytime potty-trained. We have yet to tackle naps and bedtime, but he's a champion in the day. Only one accident in a week, and I am SO HAPPY!! We started about two weeks ago. He picked out M&Ms for his treat; I stuck him in Spongebob underwear and told him how it worked (which he pretty much already knew from Elmo's Potty Time and such); and then we started in on the training. And the first few days were not bad, but certainly not encouraging. He had one success and about five accidents a day. And he got the concept, but he didn't recognize the sensation until it was too late to get to the potty. But I, surprisingly, kept my patience (which, let's be honest, was a miracle). And then on day four something just clicked. And from Friday on, he made it to the bathroom every time; even when he was upstairs by himself, with no promptings from parents; even when he was at his cousin's house, playing outside. I am so proud! And he is too--Each morning, when we take off his diaper and swap it for underwear, he loves to declare, "I'm too big for diapers." Oh frabjous day!

And that's our boy. He's really a fantastic, imaginative little dude--big dude, actually. Most people think he's four, not three. He's still quite the handful, but he's calming down in small ways. And he listens and responds, now that he can communicate in full paragraphs and have entire conversations. It's amazing how much that changes things! And, as usual, he's a really happy kid. Not one for tantrums or excessive whining (actually, hardly any whining) or crying. He's just a contented child, and I love that! He's one of a kind, and I'm really, really grateful that he's my one-of-a-kind! Happy birthday, my son!