Sunday, March 31, 2013

My tiny huge life

I read a book recently in which an overworked, under-appreciated mother asks her teenage daughter, "Do you think I lead a tiny life?" The teenage daughter doesn't pay attention to the question.

Since I am more thoughtful than the teenage daughter, I did pay attention. I thought about this mom for a few seconds and then turned my brain back to myself. (I'm still more thoughtful than the teenager.) Tiny-ness is something I fear. I push against it in my own way, telling myself that someday I will have more time to remind the universe that I exist.* But for now, on a daily basis, I am only important to three people: Seth, Jonah, and Andy.** And Jonah and Andy don't even know how important I am -- neither of them has ever said thank you to me after a diaper change. They usually say the opposite.

We discussed this question at book club, a group made up of mostly mothers. The consensus was that NO, our lives are NOT TINY. We're doing something crucial here. Our love and care shape our children, who in turn shape the world.

That night in bed I thought of that cliche: "To the world, you may be one person. But to one person, you may be the world." (Bonus fact: I've had the country song this saying inspired stuck in my head since then.) And it's true. To 99.99999% of the world,*** I will forever be just a number. Just one of the 300 and whatever million people in the United States. Just one 2.5 billion Christians and 12 million Mormons. Just one of 3.5 billion females.

But when Andy wakes up in the morning, the only thing he wants is me. (Okay, and Seth. But really, we're talking about me today.) He wants me to pick him up from his crib, to change his diaper, to feed him, to hug him, to cheer him on as he planks,**** to put his toys just out of reach to encourage him to STRETCH! (He doesn't know he wants this.) He wants me to teach him (well, someday) about how God sent us out into a world where bad things happen and we have pain but how he provided a Savior to give us light and hope (happy Easter, everyone).

And Jonah hasn't learned how to open his bedroom door yet (someone put the handle on upside down), so his world would be less than 100 square feet without me.

So is my life tiny? No, it's TWO WORLDS worth of huge.

I thought this was grand and glorious for about 20 minutes after waking up the next morning. (As I've said before: Breakfast is a stressful time at my house. Plus, there's the whole diaper issue.) Since it's draining to be needed so urgently and so constantly, I feel like I could live with a little less huge-ness.

But for now, there are enough moments of grandeur and glory***** to refill me when I've been drained and to reassure me that the enormity of my life won't knock me over. At least not yet.


** And YOU. But not as much.

*** I didn't actually do the math on this.



Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Jonah's recipe for chocolate milk

Chocolate milk
by +Jonah Grigg

Chocolate syrup


Note: My recipe is not all that different. But it's a little different. But not all that different.

Notes on my name

  • It's pronounced "Dah-nee." (I've thought about it, and that's not really the same thing as "Donny.")

  • My full name is Daniela. (Dahn-yel-uh.) My dad tells me my name is German (he was a missionary in Germany and baptized a girl with my name), but whenever I mention that to someone who has been to Germany, the look they give me isn't exactly one I would call "approving." It's more like "skeptical but not interested enough to try and dissuade me."

  • There was this one time, when I was at the testing center at BYU, that the student employee behind the desk where they distribute tests pulled my test off the printer, read my name, and called out "Dahn-yel-uh." I was stunned (because the only logical way to pronounce it at first sight is "Dan-yel-uh", right?) and thought for a minute that he might be my one true love. I asked him why he'd said that and he said "Oh, did I say that? I don't know." Then I started to wonder if he'd actually said it. Then I dropped the idea of pursuing the honor of becoming of his soulmate. 

  • I always always always put dinner reservations in Seth's name. Restaurant people probably think my husband is the boss of me, but I'm really just trying to avoid the following conversation:

"What's your name?"
"D-O-N-N-I?" (Or whatever combination of letters strikes them as appropriate in that moment.)
"Well, how do you really spell it?
"Well, it's D-A-N-I, but..."
"Okay, D-A-N-I. Got it."
Arrive at the restaurant.
"We have a reservation for Dani?"
"Hmmmm, do you mean Danny?"

This problem could easily be solved if I just pronounced my name Danny in situations like this, but I can't bring myself to do that. It's the same deal when I'm leaving messages with receptionists or whatever. If I tell them how I really spell my name, the person is going to call me back and call me Danny. I could lie about how it's spelled, but all the phonetic spellings look silly to me.

  • All my kids have/will have names that you can both spell and pronounce. YOU'RE WELCOME.
(p.s. Mom and Dad, DAS OKAY.)
(p.s. One time my cousin Tara had a big crush on this boy and her best friend tapped her on the shoulder during a church meeting and told her that this boy had asked her [the friend] to a dance and apologized and Tara fake smiled and was like, "DAS OKAY" and turned around. This makes me giggle every time I think about it.)
(p.s. Tara is very happily married now to SOMEONE ELSE.)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Morning snack

This is what's left of Jonah's morning snack of Lucky Charms. Notice anything missing?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Breakfast breakdancing

Breakfast should be the happiest time of the day. You are finally doing your favorite thing in the world (eating) after at least 8 hours of not doing your favorite thing in the world (eating). On top of that, you MIGHT be eating PANCAKES. 

I love pancakes. 

Wait. Let me rephrase that:


So many carbs. I love carbs. And then you pour SYRUP on top. Excuse me while I eat my computer.

Anyway, breakfast. As I was saying, it should be a happy time. But my two-year-old struggles to see the happy side of it. We love oatmeal in our family, so oatmeal is often requested (even though pancakes are better, obviously). I get out a bowl, dump some quick oats into it, then pour some water in. Here we come to our first opportunity for trouble. I walk toward the microwave, and if the inspiration so strikes him, Jonah will declare, "I don't wanna cook it." I respond, "Oh, we have to cook it. It's yucky if you don't cook it." Sometimes he lets that slide, but sometimes... he doesn't. Then there are tears. 

But regardless of the tears, I cook the oatmeal. Then it's time to add the toppings, and here we have more trouble. I don't even want to get into it. I'll just say, there are issues with what kinds of toppings, how much of the toppings, who gets to add the toppings, what spoon is used to scoop the toppings, and whether the toppings are stirred in or left on top. And then there's the X factor, which accounts for all those times I have delivered the oatmeal perfectly according to instructions and +Jonah has seen the flawless product and screamed and fallen on the floor, crying. 

Yesterday was an X-factor day. Upon presentation of his oatmeal, Jonah threw himself on the floor, like so:

This is the back of Jonah's head, in case you can't tell from the lack of face.
 Then he pushed against the floor, sliding his whole body backward and straightening out, tantrumming the whole time.

It was a pretty impressive maneuver. I would have thought he was breakdancing, except he didn't do this at the end:

Instead he maintained his prostrate position:

In case you forgot what the prostrate position looked like.
This time I laughed, imagining him break dancing. But usually I don't laugh. Usually I walk away going "aaarrgh"--no, "AAARRGH"--and vowing to never give him oatmeal again.

But really, no breakfast is safe. If I'm giving Jonah a breakfast bar (aka "fruit and grain bar"), there could be an issue with how the wrapper is opened and you'd better WATCH OUT if the breakfast bar breaks. Toast has the same toppings issues that oatmeal has. You'd think cereal would be alright, but there's that X factor. 

Childless friends, you may think I'm advising you to never have children, but what I'm actually advising is that you never try to give breakfast to a two-year-old. If you can think of a way around that part of the day, please let me know and then go ahead and multiply and replenish the earth. And friends with children, if your two-year-old doesn't do this at breakfast, I don't want to hear about it. Then I will know that you have no understanding of why I'm walking around with a hint of crazy in my eye at breakfast time.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Potential reasons I keep losing at Nertz

1. I have a huge paper cut on my thumb.
2. Seth cheats.
3. I'm slow.
4. My cards are too thin.
5. Seth is a cheater.
6. I'm tired.
7. I'm unlucky.
8. I deal wrong.
9. I'm not aggressive enough.
10. Seth is the biggest cheater ever.

Me, in happier times, doing something weird with my pinky.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The exotic life of Jonah Grigg

Today as we were driving to the grocery store, I was telling my two-year-old what we were going to buy. (This was an attempt to distract him from the previous direction of our conversation, which was "I don't wanna go to grossy store.") So it went like this:

"We're going to buy apples, and bananas, and spinach, and cheese, and bread, and eggs, and turkey--"

"And turtle?"



"Yeah. We're going to buy turtle at the grocery store. And oats, and yogurt, and sour cream..."

I lied. Turtle wasn't on my list. I was just trying to get him on board for our errand.

I can absolutely see his logic on this one. A turkey is an animal that starts with "tur." We are buying it at the grocery store. A turtle is also an animal that starts with "tur." We will also buy that at the grocery store. He has no idea that that's weird and gross.

It reminded me of the oddness our Zoo Boise annual pass has introduced into our lives. We got it two weeks ago and have visited the zoo three times since then. +Jonah takes all those animals for granted now. Yes, he's excited to see the giraffes and lions and penguins, but he's also excited to see the squirrels and geese. When we go for walks, every dog is an event, as is every cat.

I'm not sure how I feel about this particular misconception of the world. I kind of want him to think a tiger is a bigger deal than a house cat and show appropriate amazement when he gets to see a tiger. But on the other hand, what a cool world he lives in -- one where a zebra could be around any corner and that meat in his stir-fry could easily be turtle.

(But let me be clear: Ew.)

The number of times it takes using paper towels instead of toilet paper before I remember to get some toilet paper from the garage:


Monday, March 11, 2013

Brain. Work with me, here.

Something alarming has been going on since Christmas. While I was visiting my parents' home, I was exposed to a picture of my little brother from his kindergarten days that was on display in the kitchen.That picture has invaded my brain and won't surrender.

The main problem is that Matthew has the same color hair that my 2-year-old son Jonah has. It's a beautiful color -- a pale blonde, like the silk from an ear of corn. But now when I try to picture Jonah, the hair first pops into my head, and instead of proceeding to my toddler's face, the circuitry in my brain now supplies my little brother's face. IT'S NOT THE SAME FACE.

This makes me uneasy. I feel like a mom should always have her child's face at her mind's fingertips. But there are some things that are just broken in my brain.

For example, I will never remember what "erudite" means. "Botulism" will always just translate to "scary and creepy disease" and nothing more, no matter how many times my friend Shannon explains it to me. People named Heather will half the time be called Rachel, and Mikes will often be thought of as Chris. I will always assume people know I'm including shrimp and clams when I tell them I don't like fish.

Oh well. If I'm going to forget my son's face, there are worse faces I could be substituting.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

What Jonah said today

"I want one two mommies!"

I'm not sure if this was a comment on the quality of his dad or a manifestation of early political progressiveness. Either way, we're not ready to have that talk yet.


We got a babysitter this weekend. We never get babysitters. This is what I always envision:

And then I envision the babysitter avoiding eye contact with me at future meetings, and since I want everyone to love me, that's not okay.

But we got a babysitter anyway--a fun, sweet teenager from church--and she came over and I handed over my nearly nude baby and reintroduced her to my (formerly very unfriendly) toddler and this is how things looked:

Andy was doing that really darling thing where he reaches for someone's face and laughs and Jonah was showing her all his stuff. And this is how I looked:

I'm tilting my head because my heart is warm, and that is what people do when their hearts are warm. 

But then something really awful happened. Something so awful that it should never be illustrated. The babysitter got something on her hands that she thought was broccoli-tinted spit up (Andy is known for his prolific spitting) and she looked for something to wipe it up with. But then +Seth came over to help and took a closer look at his DIAPER and discovered that the green stuff was NOT SPIT UP. IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. 


So my head quickly untilted itself, and my expression switched to this one:

Horror. This poor girl. She did not deserve this. 

She handled it with all the grace of a ballet-dancing queen, though. She just said "Oh. I'll wash my hands" -- and then washed her hands. And then went on to take such good care of my kids that the first thing Jonah did when he woke up the next day was ask where she'd gone.

So this is my family and my home -- if you enter, you will surely not escape without spit-up on your clothes, but now there's the added risk, apparently, of being pooped on. Word will get around that this happens -- primarily because I feel compelled to share this tale of shame with everyone I meet -- and I'm not sure I'll ever be able to ask someone to babysit again. 

I paid her well at the end of the night, and I threw in a you-got-pooped-on-bonus umbrella with ruffles, but there are some memories that can't be erased for any amount of money. Or umbrellas. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Me in public

Along with motherhood came a fact of life that after two years I’m still having trouble accepting: Out in public is not where I belong. At least not with my very young kids. Almost every day I defy this truth, telling myself it’s worth it. 


For example. This weekend I was craving Mexican food and I wanted to get out of the house. The answer was obvious: Take my family to my favorite Mexican restaurant for lunch. Foolproof plan, right?

Riiiiight. +Seth and I spent half the time encouraging our 2-year-old to stop jumping on us and the other half of the time on the floor wiping up the baby’s spit up, which comes out by the pint all day long. The teenage busboy kept glancing over at us and drawling “Do you need more napkins?”

Finally Seth managed to get most of his food down his throat and hauled our atmosphere-destroying sons out to the privacy of our car. Thankfully our server forgot I was waiting for her to come take my credit card, so I had several minutes alone in the booth with my carne asada. I smoothed my hair and closed my eyes, taking some slow breaths.

The food wasn’t even as good as I thought it would be.

Another time -- this was a year and a half ago, when there was only one Grigglet -- we optimistically booked a couple extra nights in a hotel in St. Louis, where my brother-in-law was getting married. The famous arch was practically within arms reach of the window.

Unfortunately, Jonah can’t fall asleep if he knows we’re in the room. We spent every night, ALL NIGHT, pacing with him or feeding him, sometimes resorting to letting him cry it out while we hid in the bathroom only to have him wake up within the hour. I feel sorry for myself even now, writing about it.

By the time our stay was up, I was ready to punch the arch in the face. We all needed home. And sleep. Lots of sleep.

But here’s the good news: While I was standing by the table at the Mexican restaurant, watching my carne asada grow cold, there was a soft little baby cheek just inches from my lips. And when the server brought more horchata, my 2-year-old clapped his hands and shouted “YES!”

And in St. Louis, when we took our then-9-month-old to the (free!) zoo, he pulled himself to his feet in front of the turtle tank and tried his hardest to wrap his pudgy hand around the little guy treading water behind the glass.

It’s hard to remember every day that this is the life I want, but it IS the life I want. Despite the baby and toddler drama that spreads chaos through the house, deep down, my heart has never felt this good. I don’t know which I hear more of, laughing or crying, but the laughter is full of joy and the tears do eventually end.

But I might punch YOU in the face if you try to remind me of that the next time an attempt at experiencing life beyond my front door knocks me down.