Monday, January 27, 2014

How I Came to Love Being a Mom

(I'm a little embarrassed to be putting this here after not updating this blog FOR A YEAR... that's right, baby just turned ONE this month!!  But I wanted to save this somewhere and since that's what a blog is for it seemed like the right place.  Maybe it will motivate me to be a better blogger this year.  By the way, my sweet Miss M... this is for you.)

When I was a teenager I didn't think much of being a mom.  In fact, that thought process continued as I grew into a young adult, attended college, lived overseas, held full-time jobs and basically became an adult.  Looking back it’s silly that I didn't even once consider my own mother and the amazing woman she is and how fully I owed my life and the shaping of my persona to her loving time and attention—didn't even cross my mind.  That sort of sums up young adulthood, though.  We spend a great deal of time “finding ourselves” or discovering our interests and planning our future or whatever it is we do and conversely spend very little time thinking about how that future could involve or shape other people.  Now, there are others who are more sensitive than me, I will whole-heartedly agree to that.  But even those seeking altruistic professions would probably agree that those times in their lives were basically selfish.

Then, I met my husband.  Well, of course, he wasn't my husband when I met him.  He was just a hunky guy that I wanted to wrap myself around and never let go.  I fell in love.  We talked about a future and I admitted that, while I agreed to the ideal of family, I wasn't sure if it was the life for me.  It sounded so… boring, so unfulfilling.  I worried that I needed to be out backpacking around the world, volunteering in third world countries, holding a corporate job, doing SOMETHING BIG that really mattered, otherwise my life wouldn't mean anything.  Really, I was still in my selfish phase and I had no clue.  Understandably, this freaked out my poor soon-to-be-husband who actually really wanted a family and it was almost a deal-breaker.  It speaks volumes about his maturity and his love for me that he accepted my concerns and stuck with me. 

After we were married we both worked full-time in jobs that paid our bills but that we both ironically hated.  ‘But this is what adults do and this is fulfilling,’ I kept trying to tell myself.  It was hard to take myself seriously. 

And then we decided to have a baby.

We talked about family, we talked about our responsibilities, but really we had no idea.  Would I continue to work afterwards?  Hmmm, I wasn’t sure.  We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, I thought.  Although, truth be told, it was a relief to have an exit plan from a job I dreaded going to every day.  I had thought about looking for a new job but they all seemed the same: stuck in one place, working for someone else all day, only being able to live my own life for about 2 hours a day, plus weekends.  For the first time in my life I started to get excited about staying home with a baby.

I still didn't know how long it would last.  Maybe I would get bored after a few months and be itching to get back to work.  (And honestly, those times have come over the years as we have welcomed more children into our home, but they never last very long.)  I can promise that the moment I held that squishy baby on my chest, breathing his first breaths, I never wanted to be away.  Not for a moment.  I wanted to hold him every second of his life and let him hold my finger for comfort and just be there.  And so I was.  I stayed home, feeding him, holding him, trying to keep up with mealtimes and cleaning and oh my goodness how do I go grocery shopping with a baby??? and being an attentive wife and a helpful neighbor and all the while dealing with the nagging doubts swirling around me of “what do you do all day?”  (Well, if you don't have kids, try babysitting for a week sometime and then we’ll talk.)

And it was hard.  And beautiful.  And we created memories—some good, some bad, but all memorable.  And we’re still creating them.  My children are still all under 10 years and I have learned a million and one things since that first foray into full-time motherhood and I will learn another million and one things just this year.  And then they’ll grow, reach new life stages and it will all change.  But somewhere in there, I got it.  I mean, I get it now.  I understand why motherhood is important.  I understand that having a full-time out-of-the-home job is not as fulfilling as the full-time in-the-home job I’m undertaking right now.  Mostly because co-workers and bosses and corporate politics will fade but I will have my children forever.  But also because I’m realizing that I am the first line of defense for my children in a confusing, violent, and sometimes dirty world.  I can spend my days teaching them about self-control and love and patience and making better choices and learning to see beauty and wonder and love in that scary world.  Certainly I can teach them their ABC’s and how important it is to eat their vegetables and how to sort clothes for the laundry.  Those are visible things, probably things that they can recognize now as teaching.  But most of my teaching they won’t recognize until they’re grown and trying to raise their own little brood.  Then, possibly like I did, they’ll understand the significance of their mom teaching them to pray always.  They’ll know why the most important parts of the day were the ones when our family was all together.  They’ll remember that their mom believed in them to make good choices and knew they could always strive to be better.  I could still be a part of the work force and do those things, but I have found that this is where my heart is…and I count myself incredibly blessed both in circumstances and in my husband who allows me to do this, to be taking part in the noblest undertaking I will ever experience in this life.  I walked through the valley of the shadow of death to bring these kids into this world and I've never looked back.  Nothing can ever shake the firmness of my belief in the VITAL, CRUCIAL, IRREPLACEABLE role of a mother.  And I believe fathers have their own vital, crucial, irreplaceable role as well but that deserves its’ own topic another day. 

I wanted to record my thoughts today when I realized my own daughter might struggle with these same fears.  And that’s OK, everyone has to learn and we do that by experience.  But I want her, and any young woman concerned with her place in this world, to know that their potential to be a mother will be the most difficult, fulfilling, and important work she will EVER do.  Not to mention the most lasting.  So prepare for it, if you can.  Make your foundation steadfast and immovable so that you’ll be strong enough to hold up yourself AND your little ones.  It will be hard, you may feel unnoticed or unsure, but stick with it and I promise that someday you will look at your life’s work and say, “It is good.”

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Right on time! (sort of)

So in case you're not friends with me on Facebook I thought I'd make a baby announcement here...
We had a baby!!! :)
And even though it was 5 WEEKS EARLY, we really should have been expecting our baby to come because for some reason I can't keep them in any longer than that.  And even though it was 5 WEEKS EARLY our little baby (BOY!!) basically came right on time.  And he was a quick one, too.  Not to be outdone by his brothers or his sister, he came faster than any of them!  I started contractions about 9:30pm, headed to the hospital with contractions 10 min. apart about 11pm, got to the hospital about 11:45pm with contractions 3 minutes apart...he was born 20 minutes later just after midnight!  There was a MAJOR snowstorm that night that really slowed us down...he was darn near born in the car!!  Phew, that was close!

You can see the little oxygen tube they sent us home from the hospital with.  Not fun.  So glad it was only in for a day or so. 

This kid is SO loved, he hardly ever gets put down because someone always wants to hold him! 

Happy momma & poppa.  (Even though it's only half my face, you can tell I'm happy.) 

Silly brothers!  I can already sense it, these 3 are going to be a handful! 

Well, hello there, pretty eyes! 

Welcome to the world James A. Weist!!!  We sure love you.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

We have a winner

The other morning Michael & I were playing "I bet my dream was weirder than yours" as he got ready for work.  He dreamed some sort of military tactical warfare where he was chopping off heads.  Yawn.

My dream took place on the historical island of Pompeii (back when it was a thriving metropolis) and was about some conspiracy theory that a man purposely caused the fateful volcano with a planned train crash.  And while people were fleeing the ash & destruction onto cruise ships there was a zombie outbreak and no one knew if their neighbor was a zombie until it was too late.  I won the game because Michael said he'd totally pay to see that movie.

Oh, and Michael Jackson also featured as a zombie in my dream.  Double win.

Sleep deprivation from nursing: causing awesome dreams for the win!

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

It's about that time...

I'm sure it's only obvious to myself that I AM GOING TO HAVE A BABY ANY TIME IN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS and I'm going slightly berserk, as will happen at the end of my pregnancies.  Usually I fill my end-time with craft projects and since we just had Christmas this was a perfect way to vent my impatience.  I found an awesome DIY project whilst browsing Pinterest one day and gave this as a family gift on Christmas.  (By the way, has anyone tried doing mostly "family" gifts at Christmas?  Everyone seems to want to use each other's toys/stuff anyway so we might as well make them family presents, right?  And all our kids' birthdays come within a few weeks after Christmas so we can get them individual gifts then.  Right?  Right???)  Anyway, I digress... here is my lovely Pinterest find (don't mind my phenomenal photography skills.  Or my immaculate fridge).

(Tutorial that I used to make ruler HERE)

I know, I'm proud of me, too.  It's a giant ruler to measure our kids' growth instead of using the door jamb (which is currently where all the measurements are, directly behind where this ruler is now).  And we can take it with us if we ever move!  It was ridiculously easy to make and I didn't even bother using vinyl like some of the websites I saw, it's all by hand.  Anything to make my life easier.  I think I have another board in the garage I could probably make another one for a gift sometime.

So craft project #2 was even easier and took even less in, I made it right before dinner because all I had to do was cut and stitch.

The blue hat on the left I already had in a baby boy box somewhere and both my boys have worn it, but since Miss Em was born in Malaysia she never needed a hat and thus we had no girl hat ready.  Since we don't know the gender I stitched up the girl hat quickly so we'd have one of each.  It wasn't even supposed to be ruffled like that at the fold but it is incredibly stretchy knit so I accidentally pulled the dickens out of it while sewing.  I was all worried that I'd destroyed it but then I folded it up and it looks like a cute little flower.  Serendipity.

So now we are (sort of) ready (mostly) for baby, because, you know, I couldn't give birth if I didn't have a hat ready.  But at least the hats are both waiting patiently (unlike mom) in the bassinet at the foot of our bed.

Now I'm off to find another craft project.  I've become obsessed with the mess that is my bathroom lately and I'm looking forward to (probably not until this summer) painting walls and vanity, putting up shelves, framing my mirror, getting a new light fixture and new curtain rod...but for now just the planning will help take my mind off the fact that I have only a few weeks left.  If anyone needs help with their own projects I have energy for two!  If only I didn't still have a zillion things to do.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

November School Days

School is still going strong (admittedly sometimes stronger than others, but still strong, nonetheless) and we are enjoying our fall-leading-to-winter here in the Weist home.  Our most exciting and challenging class by far has been the engineering class that is offered through our school co-operative, My Tech High.  They sent us the kit filled with all of the blocks and links and wheels and parts to create various simple machines.  The picture below is one of the machines we built-- a scale.  It looks a lot simpler than it is and it usually takes the 2 of us working together at least 2 hours to finish one of these.  It's actually great bonding time with my son and I love every minute of it.  He thinks it's pretty awesome once he's finished them, too.

My princess below is less embroiled in class work because she is only 4 and technically preschool age, but I have a few Kindergarten books that she has started and recently she has showed an interest in learning how to read (yay!) so we spend a lot of time each week going over letters and sounds and working through very simple words.  With most of "school" activities I like to be very involved but so far a more hands-off approach has worked for me with teaching reading.  I provide ample reading time, both separate and together, I involve them in games that use simple reading words (I made a set of small cards with words of 2, 3, or 4 letters that we use for matching and other fun games) and I give them challenges to read things to me when we are out shopping or running errands.  I know there are probably millions of dollars spent by parents across the country using phonics programs and reading curriculum, and I don't discount those by any means. But thus far I have found this simpler (and far less expensive) approach to work just as well.  Kids seem to naturally want to progress so if you give them opportunities to do so they'll grab it with both hands and take off.
Of course, this princess is still in the VERY early stages of showing interest and learning how to put sounds together.  Her older brother showed greater inclination and ability from an earlier age and is now reading several grade levels above his age-- I don't necessarily think Miss Em will exhibit that same ability, but it's still exciting watching the progress and it's one of the reasons I became interested in homeschooling in the first place.

This sweet little goober is so good to mostly play while the rest of us do school and he is thrilled to just sit at the table with his brother and sister and be given something to keep him occupied so that it seems like he's at school, too.  He likes "doing letters" (what we call Starfall) but is nowhere near recognizing them like his older brother was at this age.  But I'm not too worried.  I don't want him to grow up too fast.  Can you blame me?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What month is it again?

Phew!  Time is flying!  Can someone please explain to me how it got to be October already?  I swear it was just July, like yesterday.  Well we have a month of homeschool under our belt and I've got to say things are going well and I am pretty happy with our situation right now.  There are still plenty of set-backs (such as when one of my children, who shall remain nameless, decides to throw an absolute fit about having to do handwriting practice and throws us off schedule for a half hour while they pout and kick things in their!) but we also have the freedom to go to the zoo occasionally or have a playdate because we've accomplished all of our goals for the week.  This school year is going to fly by!

On another note, did I mention that I sang with the symphony???  Last month was one of the most stressful times for me (and I got the nasty canker sore to prove it) and those nightly rehearsals at the end were not helping, but IT WAS SO WORTH IT!  I couldn't believe I was up there singing in Abravanel Hall with the ACTUAL Utah Symphony.  Dream. Come. True.  And even when I go to our weekly rehearsals I will look around and listen and start grinning like an idiot because I can't believe I'm there.  We have started practicing for the Annual Messiah Sing-Along that happens after Thanksgiving and I tell you what it already got me in the mood for Christmas.  It is going to be FAB-U-LOUS, so I highly recommend you get tickets and get in on the action.  Although they won't be on sale for like another month.

Speaking of months I am halfway through my 5th month and getting ready to start month 6 of my pregnancy!  Things are going great as far as we can tell and aside from usual tiredness and occasional crazy hormones (sorry, family!) I am a happy camper.  I get a little stressed when I think about homeschooling and new baby and choir and dinners and laundry and general housekeeping...but then my sweet husband wraps his arms around me and lets me cry and tells me he's here and will help and that everything will be great.  I need that.  Thanks sweetheart.

And speaking of needing things I always need the jolt that accompanies General Conference weekend and this last week was no different.  I cried more than usual (is it just me or were there a lot of stories of suffering/dying children?) and I'm sure my hormones were no help, but it was still reassuring and uplifting and strengthening and all those things I need to sometimes just get through the week.  And it was all true, so that helps too.

And finally, in case you didn't know it, one of the sweetest things on earth is the face of a child who has just woken up from a nap and still has sleep in their eyes.  And I have one of those cuddled in my arms right now.  All is right with the world.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012


For those of you who don't know I have been homeschooling my kids for the last year.  However, since my oldest was only in Kindergarten it hasn't been much of a big deal.  Our school was entirely informal and loosely scheduled.  We practiced reading, did handwriting drills, played math games and sometimes included the younger kids so things were always LOUD and wild and wonderful.
But this year is different!  We have a schedule!  We have various curriculum!  We have classes with subjects and textbooks!  We have a lot of exclamation points!!  I can't help it, I got so excited last night, our first night before school, that I couldn't sleep.

I was worried.

I was worried about it failing big-time.  I was worried about it being crazy.  I was worried about my kids not listening and absolutely hating it.  I was worried about being organized enough to make it happen.

I spent a while on my knees last night.
I think I'll be doing that every night for the whole school year.

But you know what?  It definitely helped me.  Things went more smoothly today than any other school day we've ever had.  Ever.  There were still a couple of hiccups, a couple of whining moments and "I'm not going to do that!" protests but they were short-lived and few in number.  In fact, our day started wonderfully with a fun music time where we listened to different genres of music and talked about their differences (including several dancing moments, of course) and I distinctly heard this surprising declaration: "I love school at our house!  It's so fun!!"

I died.

It may not always be perfect (or even work at all) but this was a wonderfully auspicious way to begin our school year.  I am hopeful.  I am tired.  I am thankful.  But most of all I love the decision I made to homeschool this year.  I still don't know how many years we'll try this but I am loving the journey while we're on it.

Look out for Miss Attitude on the right.  She didn't like that I told her to scoot in closer.

John, my big 1st grader!

A little less attitude.  She's technically in preschool but I'm starting her on John's old Kindergarten stuff.  We'll see how she does!

David is only 2 but loves joining in-- he's a great reminder for the other kids to behave because he copies EVERYTHING they do with this new "school" stuff.

Homeschooling, here we come!