Monday, April 15, 2013

Spring Brake

As long as Doug works in public accounting, Spring Break for us will always be more of a Spring Brake. We stay put. Take things slow. Go nowhere. And I like it that way.

The neighborhood empties out. Only a few cars troll down the street. We bake treats, eat outside for lunch, ride the quiet roads.

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In a neighborhood with no sidewalks, this private drive that runs behind our house is a perfect speedway. 

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Here they go...

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About a month ago, I stood here watching them with my hand clutched to my chest and one eye closed. We didn't have helmets for the boys and the image of a major head injury kept flashing across my mind. They were going So. Darn. Fast.

So I texted Doug and said, "We need helmets. Stat."

Bless his heart. A few seconds later, he replied. "Done. They'll arrive in a couple days." Now that's service!

I've calmed down a bit. I'm okay with them on the private speedway now. But the streets? I'm a mess, wondering where they've tootled off to and yelling at them to move off to the side when a car is coming. It's like trying to follow five pin-balls. Last Friday, Gordon had a near miss with a car that almost necessitated CPR. For me. 

That day pretty much put me in the loony bin. Chasing them all over tarnation. I finally dragged all things with wheels into a time-out and shut them in our pantry. Wiggle cars, Skuuts, Scooters. (We put a lock on our pantry door a while ago. No need to explain that one.)

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Days earlier, Gordon split his Skuut right down the fork. Apparently he'd gone looking for his sisters who had strayed too far from home. 

He was flying down a side street when a truck backed out in front of him. Gordy had the presence of mind to move out of the way and ride onto some grass so he wouldn't hit the truck, but he was going so fast he slammed into a fence, split his bike, and went hurdling into the fence. (All this from the man in the truck who followed him home.)

"I was wearing my helmet Mom, " he said.

And good thing he was. All this wanderlust at high speeds is giving me angina.

If I survive boys it will be a blessed miracle.

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We went through two boxes of band-aids over Spring Break. Road rash on Spencer's upper-lip turned into an awesome mustache. Doug thought he looked like Charlie Chaplin. Fair likeness, I would say.

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The boys have taken to exploring the neighborhood despite my attempts to keep them in our backyard. Thank heavens we have exceptional neighbors who welcome their visits. I gave the kids a little more freedom over the break because the neighborhood was so empty. But climbing on Marion's waterfall is off limits. Yet there they are. 

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So is leaving without asking. And there they go. See those little specs on the hill across from our driveway? 

I might need to invest in two long leashes, or a tracking device we can implant in their forearms.

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The girls also did some exploring. They discovered Miss Susie's cottage. A darling little playhouse with dress-ups, dinnerware, clothesline, baskets, and fairy-mushroom chairs.

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They were in heaven, setting up house, decorating with tiny flowers, cooking for each other. 

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Susie is so kind. They purposely put an entrance to their yard on every side.

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The boys dug in Susie's sandbox. (Classic Spencer face.)

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We were given charge of our friends' bunnies while they were out of town. So we fed them each day, got them out to play. The kids fell in love with Theodore and Carly.

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I've not been one for pets, but this week almost persuaded me to get our own bunnies. So easy to care for. Maybe once we get the boys potty-trained?

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Speaking of potty-training... every time (EVERY time) we went to feed the bunnies, the boys wet their pants. And sometimes it wasn't just number one. I kept putting them in underwear (silly, I know) because I thought spring break was the perfect time for toilet triumph.

But two weeks later, we're still not there. And the fact that Gordon is climbing over a fence is oh so typical.
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Some days it rained...

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and Gordon searched for worms.

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One day he and Sami found 26! (She counted.) Here's part of their stash. Does that gross you out? For some reason, it doesn't gross them out. They love worms.

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Occasionally, being inside got to be a little much. We call this Refrigerator Gymnastics.

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And I have to tell you a little more about our neighbor, Miss Marion. She is going straight to heaven.

Marion lives behind us. One day while she was out planting her pansies, my kids plus four extras descended on her and offered to help. Most of us would freak out with so many "helping" hands, but Marion just started giving directions, encouraging the kids, enjoying the moment. By the end of all their "speed planting," every one of those kids felt like they were her favorite person. Like they'd saved her hours of hard labor. (Good thing pansies are hardy.)

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Talk about patient love. Everyone needs a neighbor like Marion.

It was a good Spring Brake. I was a nicer Mom. With nowhere to go, no homework to do, no early wake-up or early bedtime. But despite all my attempts to slow us down, it was still kind of exhausting. And now all that freedom I doled out has necessitated a crack-down. A reigning in and retraining to keep the kids from venturing off without telling me. Hopefully we can restore order soon.

One day when I told Gordon they had gone too far from home he said, "Why you worried, Mom? You worried because you couldn't see us?"

I said, "Yes."

Then he said, "But we could see ourselves."

Not bad logic. Not bad. Thank goodness someone else is watching over them besides me. I pray every morning for their safety. That God will keep them alive.

This spring has given me a taste of what summer might be like. I have spent a few days doing nothing else but chasing my kids around the neighborhood, trying to keep up. 

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At some point though, I do need to cook something, move the laundry, do the dishes. 

Always dynamic, this mothering thing. We're always changing, reinventing, strategizing.

I'm speaking at BYU Women's Conference (a gathering for LDS women) on May 2nd about mothering young children. I'm slightly stressed because my talk isn't coming together, nothing is flowing, and I'm straining to find the right words. I haven't the perspective that seasoned mothers have. So I'm praying the right thoughts will come, that I can efficiently say what God needs me to say.

One of the gals I am speaking with (both are amazing - come hear THEM!) asked if I knew what I was wearing yet. Hadn't even thought about it. All I knew was that it had to be something that didn't show my sweaty pits. Because you can bet they'll be working overtime.

And moving on to the good news: It's April 15th! If you listen quietly you can hear me cheering across the northern hemisphere.

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15 candles for April 15th. And M&Ms. His favorite. 

Can't wait to have Daddy home.


  1. Holy Smokes Cath! Women's conference is big time! That is awesome and makes me want to come hear you. We need to catch up. Lets find a time for lunch again!

  2. So happy you are this side of April 15th!

    And I'm so excited to come watch you speak in a couple weeks. You will be amazing - you are relying on the spirit and that makes everything you have to offer enough. And perspective? Seasoned? I would say mothering has come to you in one giant costco container. You've got all the seasoning, in one big batch. Okay, really bad metaphor - I just think your perspective is invaluable because you've had the blessing of being intensely focused on each stage of motherhood. Also, because you are just wonderful in general. I can't wait to come cheer you on and hear what you have to say!

  3. Em - you have been on my mind a ton! I have clothes for you. And I want to catch you up on Joy School plans. Let's find time for lunch in May. xo

    Melissa - You'll be there? So sweet of you. That's a comfort to me. I know you're going to hear Cristie. I hope I can figure out how to hear her talk too. And I liked your metaphor. Especially since I made a Costco run with the boys today. Yes, my motherhood did kind of arrive like that. In one big costco container. :) I love you.

  4. Catherine - I'm so glad I found your blog! Such a delight to read! How awesome you are speaking at Women's Conference. I haven't gone since we lived in Provo. I hope I can come I would love to hear you! I can't think of anyone in the world more qualified! xoxo Meredith

  5. What?! You're talking in Women's Conference! This seriously would have been the tipping point for me to go if I had known a few weeks ago. I am not joking at all. I know that the words will come. You have been blessed by an abundance of the Spirit and a gift with words. I hope you can post some of your thoughts afterwards. Blessings with that.

    Happy April 15th! So glad that you made it to the day again! That is something to rejoice over! You did it! All these pictures make me so happy. Such a magical childhood for your kids.

    A while back, I think you had asked what I thought of Magical Journey (kenizon's new book). Truthfully, it was not one of my favorites of hers. There were a few gems in the book, but it felt like lots of meandering and rambling. And, it was not an uplifting book, at least for me. It felt kind of heavy.

    Wishing you the very, very best.

  6. Love the pictures! Oddly enough, that amazing neighbor of yours, Marion, was my husband's neighbor for a little bit when he was growing up! She is the cutest lady! My husband and in-laws all adore her. She is a saint for letting them all help with the pansies! I want to be more like that...

  7. Haha! This was great, Cath. xo

  8. First-you know I get the boy thing! I also remember my little brothers racing down a huge steep hill in front of our house in their big wheels and I swear my mom hardly batted an eye. I am a nervous Nellie-I think she just thought it came with the territory of having boys. I love the photos of your neighborhood-it's beautiful!
    And Cath-your talk with be beautiful---not a seasoned mother? That's all relative! To someone pregnant, or with one or two, or just babies...I can go on and on-just like Melissa said! You have SO much to say and I would love to hear that talk. You inspire with your words all the time.

  9. My heart was racing reading this post! Haha! Keeping up with those little dudes! I LUV it! Keeping up...keeping up! Keeping on!!! So excited you are speaking at womens conference...I've never been but I am going this year so I will for sure plan to come to yours!

  10. Meredith - I'm so glad you live nearby! I'm looking forward to our boys getting to know each other better! I would love to have you there! xo

    Anne Marie - You were thinking about coming!!?? Oh, I wish I'd known! Any plans to come to Utah in the near future? Yes, having Doug home for dinner this last week or so has been so nice. When he's here and it's still crazy I wonder, how in the world do we manage all those months he's NOT here? So glad to get your take on Kenison's new book. A good friend of mine who also read it, had a similar reaction. Wasn't her favorite. Hmmm. Of late, I feel like she lost some authenticity. Even in Mitten Strings, that was one of my complaints. Anyhow, grateful for your opinion. Sending lots of love to you! Would love an update on your new house, pics, how your boys are doing. xoxo

    Georges - I want to be like Marion too. Yes, she is a Saint! So glad you recognized her!

    Kara - You heard the sobbing, i-can't-take-it-anymore me on the phone. Thanks for bringing me back to earth, for your constant encouragement. I love you.

    Sarah dear, bless you. I'd kinda like to be the cool-cucumber mom who doesn't bat an eye. Working on that... And I will send you a copy of my talk afterwards. Wish you were closer and I could have picked your brain. Just curious, in all your blogging and interaction with mothers, what do you think mothers with young children are longing for/needing to hear? xo

    Cami - I would LOVE to see you at women's conf. I've only been once and we just sat in the Marriott Center because we were too lazy to race to other venues. Should be interesting. Once I can put this thing aside and think of something else, let's get a date on the calendar. And I still want to hear about NZ. We're planning to go next Fall. Sure Love you Cam!

  11. I just stumbled across your blog and was so uplifted to read about that creative, resourcefull and adventurous children you have. We too have a lock on our pantry door, as well as our fridge, my kids of "refridgerator gymnastics" too, AND we often have most of the bathroom doors locked in our house... any access to water has to be closely monitored. Anyway, so glad its not just my kids. Love your writing. Thanks


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