Squirrelly kids and screen time saves

Today was Stake Conference. We thought that we would go to the broadcast at our regular building instead of the live session at our Stake center. We figured that we would be less distracting there than at the broadcasted version, because have these two noisy, squirrelly kids. You know the ones I’m talking about:

We were wrong, very wrong.

We walked in and apparently only those with no small children who are looking for a very quiet meeting go to that building. We walked in… and walked right back out to go to the (noisier) Stake center. We lucked out by ending up in a side room with a big table and big comfy chairs where a few families and their kids were. That was perfect. Lots of wiggle room and just enough noise that no one was bothered by our additional noise.

Some highlights that I pulled from conference in the midst of wriggly children:

-Sometimes it feels easier to leave family members behind when we are trying to travel on the road of following God’s commandments, but the difficulty does not merit abandoning our family members.

-Holding tight to the rod of iron (the word of God) can take us through rough terrain and sometimes it is going to feel incredibly difficult to hold on. If we ever find that we have let go and are lost, we should kneel down and pray to find our way back.

(Side note, this resounds with my reading tonight in 2 Nephi 7 (or Isaiah 50), in verse one the Lord points out that he never leaves us, it is only us who leave him. He will always be there.)

-The real mission of the Church’s increased focus on sabbath day observance is to help foster an increase of faith in our Heavenly Father. (According to our speaker Elder Worthen) That’s one I’m going to need to ponder some more, and/or figure out how to improve my sabbath day worship, because right now I don’t see that direct connection. That was very interesting to me.

After Stake conference it was time for naps, for all parties here in the Cluff home. Marty and I made a deal that this time if the babies woke up, it was his job to go get them. I’m always on the night shift so I figured that was a fair trade. Sometimes naps are not even worth it for me because getting woken from a nap too soon makes me crankier than not taking one at all. Today was a good nap.

We went to visit Gma and Gpa Cluff today, and Marty’s brother and sister-in-law who live a couple of doors down.

Check out the beautiful snowy trees down Main Street in Farmington:

Peter loved playing with the cousins and everyone loved Carolyn and her little dimpled smile. (Seriously, everywhere we go, people fawn over her. It’s hard to keep my mom-pride in check sometimes).

When we went to leave both of the kids were overtired and Carolyn did NOT like how cold it was on the thirty second walk to the car. She usually loves her carseat but this time she screamed and screamed for the first 10 minutes or more of the drive. That is rare, she never screams like that. We finally decided to pull over and calm her down (because it’s a 45 minute drive home), so we took her out and got her calmed down, but when I put her back in the carseat and she started screaming and screaming again. Marty put on his quick thinking cap and pulled up this video on youtube:

She LOVES this song. It was insta-calm-baby. We played it once and then started driving again, and I had to play the song one more time before she finally fell asleep. Phew. Luckily Peter was pretty good on this drive thanks to that DVD player and borrowing UP from Gma and Gpa. The last 30 minutes of the drive were lovely.
Now we’re home again, both babies are sleeping, and I think Marty and I will have some ice cream. Not a bad night, not bad at all. 

(Random ice cream tip: If you like butterscotch dilly bars from Dairy Queen (like Marty loves), melt some butterscotch chips with a little bit of coconut oil and drizzle it over vanilla ice cream. If your husband is like mine it will win you some big time wife points.)

Play dates are my saving grace

A few weeks ago I posted on Facebook asking if any other mom friends in the area wanted to get together for a play date sometime. I got quite a few responses and it made me realize that I’m probably not the only mom who gets a little starved for adult connection. At first I ended up with something like 10 play dates booked all in a row and I was a little worried, but as things tend to go with children, about half of them had to be rescheduled because something came up with the kids (either mine or theirs). Now it has worked out to having two or three play dates every week and that has been perfect. It seems like any more than one outing per day makes for too chaotic of a day, so one every day or two has been really nice.

This week we went to the aquarium for one of our play dates and I decided to get a pass, so if anyone wants to go, let’s do it! I wasn’t sure how Peter would like it, I thought he might still be a little young to love it. He wasn’t as interested as maybe a five year old would be, but he seemed to love running around and there were a couple of exhibits that he was fascinated by. I didn’t have my camera out much but I snapped this cute picture of Peter and our play date buddy by Carolyn’s stroller. They had both been walking beside of it hanging onto the side, and they stopped to hold her hand. It was too cute, her own mini bodyguards.

I’ve come to the conclusion that play dates are a lot like exercise. It’s a lot of work to make it happen, and it’s always hard to make it out the door (or tidy up the house for visitors), but I am ALWAYS glad we did it. It’s been a treat for me and it’s been really fun for the kids.

Whenever I was working or going to school, it created a built in network of connection with people who were at a similar place in life. That has been hard to find for me since staying home full time. Play dates have become my way of building a network of my own.

Peter and Carolyn are getting more and more able to play with each other too, and that has been fun to watch. Peter loves her, and is usually sweet with her (you know, when he’s not smacking her on the head for touching his toys. We’re working on it…). He loves to give her kisses, and she doesn’t seem to mind much.


Today I caught them being narcissists simultaneously. You’ll notice here that they are both enthralled by their own reflection in those toy mirrors. Peter kept asking for “Peter” all day, because he wanted to look at his reflection again. Funny boy.

Today was the first day this week that we didn’t have plans to go anywhere, and I was looking forward to having a day at home with no running around. I didn’t follow enough of my own advice though, and I never changed out of sweatpants for the day, and I didn’t get much done around the house. As I’m writing this I’m remembering those piles of laundry that I’ve been meaning to do every day for the last few days. Whoopsie. 
Marty had to run around for most of the day today to meet with customers and such, and by the time he was home I was out of juice. Today was one of those run-out-of-gas-before-bedtime days. At one point, after I had rough time getting Carolyn down for a nap, I laid down on the floor in our living room on our giant teddy bear, pooped out. Peter came over and laid down on it behind me and started rubbing my back. I don’t know where he learned that from, but it sure helped melt my almost-stoney heart. 
Tonight I sat down to write this blog post and I was feeling pretty wasted. We’ll call it a three on a scale of one to ten, one being completely miserable. As I started to type, the words just started flowing from there, and now I would say that my mood is about four notches higher than when I sat down. So thanks for anyone reading this, you give me a reason to sit down and boost my mood four whole notches at the end of the day. 
And if you do love reading, hit that subscribe button on the right! I hear that’s what you do with blogs. 

Blogging Performance Anxiety

When I decided to start this blog, the only thing that was really clear to me was that I should write a post every day, about some aspect of my life.  I believe that was an inspired thought. And every day so far (in my whopping 12 days of blogging), writing this blog has been a delight. 

Many of you probably know that I used to blog back before Marty and I got married (and once after), as Slightly Awkward Shelly. In one of my first posts on that blog, I needed something to help me illustrate an idea, so I drew a diagram in MS Paint, and it was a hit. Then I started to add some stick figure drawings and everyone loved them. It was a really fun project for me for a long time, but as my friends started to get more and more excited for each new blog post, the pressure to have each post live up to the last started to cripple me. You would be surprised at how long it takes to draw such poor quality stick figures. The combination of both the effort required for each post, and the pressure to perform, made it a relief to quietly “retire” when I got married. I had loved blogging, but was ready to be done. 
Taking those lessons with me as I was deciding what kind of blog I would have this time, I knew that I would be susceptible to Blogging Performance Anxiety (or BPA). I also knew that as nice as it was to have people love my stick figure drawings, what I really loved was sharing my voice, and with this 24/7 gig I have going on with the babies, I needed to be able to get my voice out there without a prerequisite of something really time consuming like the drawings. I offer my heartfelt apologies to the stick figure lovers out there, I wish I could be what you needed me to be. 
Well folks, yesterday was officially my first case of BPA on this blog. A measly three people had told me that they loved reading my thoughts, so as I sat down at my keyboard after an especially long day, I longed to produce something profound and wonderful for my “fans”. Yet felt completely void of inspiration. 
Mind you, at this point I hadn’t realized that it was BPA that had set in. I thought I was tired from the long day, and Marty was ready to go to bed so I felt rushed, and it’s hard to be profound when you feel rushed. I finally squeezed out a post that I still don’t really like, about five minutes after Marty’s patience for going to bed had run out (we still do that cute newlywed thing where we [try to] to go bed at the same time). I’ll also note that he waited an entire hour to give up on me, it’s not like he was breathing down my neck. 
As I got ready for bed I was grumbling to myself that I have this ONE thing that I want to do for myself, and alllll day long I was taking care of everyone else and of course I wanted to be done sooner than I was but I wrote it at the soonest moment that I had to myself. Grumble grumble grumble. 
As we laid in the dark to fall asleep, I was giving him the silent treatment. (I’m sure that he had no idea, and was rather enjoying how uniquely considerate I was being of his efforts to go to sleep). 
In my grumpy silence I decided to reflect and make sure I understood why I was feeling upset with him. What had he actually done wrong? If it had been ME who was tired and ready for bed, waiting an hour for him to finish what he was doing would have been more than fair. It was then that I realized I wasn’t so much mad at him, as I was frustrated that my blog had been so difficult to write and my post had been so underwhelming, and he was a convenient scapegoat. I had tried too hard to say something profound and in doing so, I had lost the feeling of authenticity that makes blogging so satisfying for me. 
It was then that I had another ‘a-ha’ moment about why blogging every day was so important for me. If I blog every day, I am going to have some boring and crummy blog material. There will be no avoiding it. I will be forced to let go of trying to make every post something that everyone will love or be impressed by. 
And if every post can’t be amazing, then at least every post can be real. On days that I feel inspired to say something profound and wonderful, great. But on all those days in between, you’re going to have to hear about poopy diapers and sleep schedules and look at pictures of my cute babies. Because that’s what’s real. 
So here’s some REAL cute baby from my day today.

Learning to say what I think and mean what I say

Today I was going to tell you about all of the things that I beat myself up for today, all of the things I did that made me feel like a bad mom. And then I started making a list and it made me feel like an even worse mom, and I decided I didn’t want you all to know that I’m THAT bad of a mom.

So now I don’t know what to write about today.

I have gotten feedback from a few people that I respect and admire that they love reading my thoughts and ideas and are glad that I am blogging.

I want to give them something profound and wonderful to read every day.

But mostly I want to find a way to share the things that I am learning every day with you all. And I am learning. Every day. Motherhood is a bunch of hard lessons every day.

Today I was reminded that I need to continuing learning how to better communicate what I am actually trying to say.

I remember a time that a bunch of Cluff cousins were at our house, and someone told one of the little boys to be careful, and then asked if he understood what it meant to be careful. I don’t remember what he said, but I remember it being clear that he did not understand what he was supposed to do with that command.

I had found that I was saying “be careful” to Peter all the time. Toddlers are always doing things that are likely to result in injury or death to themselves or another. They clearly need a little more caution in their lives.

I realized one day that Peter must not have any idea he is supposed to do differently when I tell him to “be careful”, so I have started trying to better articulate my concerns in hopes of helping him see what I see and understand what I want him to do.

When he is wildly banging wood toys on the ground inches from his baby sister’s face, I tell him “Peter those toys are very hard and heavy and I am afraid that you might hit your sister in the face with one and hurt her. Please scoot further away from her if you are going to keep swinging those.”

Now let’s be honest here, I don’t know how much of that he understands either. But at least I’m learning to tell him what I actually want him to know and to do.

When I tell him to “be careful”, I’m thinking that his mind must be able to see things exactly as I see them, and obviously if he is doing something that I would not do- his mind is not seeing things as I see them. So if I really want him to see the dangers in the midst that I see, I need to do a better job of pointing out what they are and what he should do to reduce that danger or risk.

It’s been interesting to realize that there is a pretty large disconnect between the words I am using and what the request actually is, and even more interesting to learn how to better relay my own wishes more effectively.

(HINT: This is super useful with husbands too)

So that’s the thing I’m working on today.

Toddler Limping: Update 2

[Here is the first and second post about the limp if you are catching up.]

I called Doc yesterday and today trying to get an update on Peter’s labs, because I didn’t see the virtue of patiently waiting for his call in this scenario. He was supposed to call “early” this week and my definition of “early” ended yesterday afternoon.

Anywho, he called me back today and said that all of Peter’s labs came back “stone-cold normal”. This means that several more things have been excluded, such as the dreaded leukemia (BIG sigh of relief), as well as juvenile arthritis, and any kind of systematic inflammation in Peter’s system. It’s still possible that there is some local inflammation in his hip, but anything really big would have shown up on the labs.

Doc said that now it’s a matter of how much testing to throw at it in an attempt to figure out what is causing the limp, and because it’s been going on for three months, if we want to go another step further, he would recommend that it be with a bone scan.

Basically that means putting Peter under, and injecting a radioactive dye into his system that is absorbed into his bones. Then a full body scan would show any “hot” or “cold” spots in his skeletal system. Doc said that he saw a boy with similar symptoms as Peter who had early onset of the Legg Calves Perthes that I mentioned in Update 1. If we do a scan and that is what we find, they would just monitor it every few months to watch for dislocation of the hip.

Marty and I talked about it after the call and we’ve decided that we are not going to do the bone scan right now.

Peter still doesn’t seem to be in any discomfort, and the limp is very slight right now, so we are going to watch and wait and see what happens. Maybe if it’s still around in a couple of months it will be worth doing the scan, but right now there doesn’t seem to be anything to gain but answers. (And the only thing we could do with those answers would be to watch and wait anyway.)

We also have some homeopathic supplies that a friend of ours gave us (things like epsom salts and essential oil), and we’ll try those too and see if it helps to improve things. If it’s just something like local inflammation in the hip, those things may be just what he needs.

Oh, and I forgot to mention it in the last update, but we also had him adjusted by our chiropractor and Peter was a little “off”, but the adjustment didn’t seem to impact the limp at all.

We went to the Provo City Center Temple open house today and Peter was running all over just fine. Here he is spinning in circles. I wish I had footage of a bunch of other 22 month olds running around so that I could compare their gaits. It’s so hard to tell how much of a funny walk is just “toddler” and how much is abnormal.

And here’s a bonus picture of him using his “tools” after we got home. The picture is blurry but it was too cute not to share. 

Sorry that it’s sort of an anticlimactic ending (not really that sorry). If you have any insights or ideas that you think we haven’t considered yet, please share!