Saturday, March 21, 2015

I am not the energizer bunny (but Andrew might be)

Sometimes I feel like I have no big projects going on. Other times I feel like projects pile up into a big monster and attack me from behind. March is turning out to be one of those months. This week is turning out to be one of those weeks.

Andrew was sick all week but by Thursday he was starting to feel better. I'd been asking him to get boxes of kid clothes down from the attic so that I could sort through them before Trading Tables.

"Next week," he kept telling me. "Next week."

The poor man was in the middle of trying to throw together his dissertation committee and working on a billion other things, so it's not like he had anything else to do. But I'm nesting! Where are his priorities?!

Finally we came to this week—the week when there was no "next week" on which to put off a trip to the attic—and he comes home from school throwing up. So I waited some more. I waited until Thursday night when I came home from book club. At 11:30 PM.

"Did you make it up to the attic?" I asked.

"Not yet," he said. "But I'm planning on it. Just let me finish a few things here and then I'll go up."

So at 1:30 AM (yes, you read that correctly) he went up into the attic to find the boxes of kid clothes, which were a little all over the place, especially the box of baby girl clothes, which was way at the back because we haven't needed it in years.

"It's kind of a mess up here," Andrew said. "I'm going to organize it really quick."

"I know I said I really wanted these boxes," I said. "But do you know what I want even more right now? Sleep. I want sleep. Right now."

"I'll be fast."

He eventually came out of the attic and announced all the Christmas stuff was together, etc. etc. etc. And we went to bed. Hallelujah! But then I had the worst heartburn of my life. Heartburn like "wake up at 5 AM literally choking on stuff that exited your stomach the wrong way" heartburn. It was the worst night ever. I could hardly get out of bed on Friday morning...and kind of didn't.

Benjamin woke up nice and early so I put on The Land Before Time, which was a mistake because "dine-sors so sawy!" He kept coming to snuggle with me and whimper about the scary dinosaurs (which is weird because he loves other dinosaur shows) so I eventually got up and put on Peter Pan instead. Because Captain Hook and man-eating crocodiles are a lot less scary.

Miriam was up by the time Peter Pan was finishing and I was still crossing my fingers they'd never make me get out of bed. When the show ended Miriam started to get some cereal for the two of them but since the milk jug was a new one and too heavy for her to pour, I started to roll myself out of bed with as much flourish as a beached whale. Instead Miriam proclaimed she'd use almond milk instead since it comes in a carton and isn't as heavy. Bless that child. She's a problem solver.

"We'll just let Mom rest," she told Benjamin.

But then my phone buzzed. I picked it up.

"Babysit for Marian," my calendar reminded me. "10 minutes."

That got me out of bed in a hurry. I quickly got dressed and rushed the kids through breakfast and told them to get dressed fast because friends were coming over to play (always a great motivator—hey, if it works for me, it usually works for the kids, too).

Miriam had a blast playing with Marcella. Benjamin had a harder time playing with Baby Jay.

The first thing he did was close his bedroom door.

"My 'oom sulla chokin-tazards!" he announced. "Baby Jay can't play in there!"

The girls have been slamming their bedroom door in his face ever since he gained mobility, telling him to keep out of their room because it's "full of choking hazards." I guess he's been storing this phrase up, just waiting for someone small enough, yet mobile enough, to use it on. The funny part is that his room is just about the safest room in the house, as far as "chockin-tazards" go, and in many other ways as well because his room is baby-proofed(ish) because he's been our baby.

The next thing he did was tell Jay over and over again that his mom wasn't present.

"Mama?" Jay would innocently inquire, peeking out the front door, or pawing at my pant leg.

"No!" Benjamin would tell him. "Your mom's not here! She's gone! Your mom is gone!"

This would cause Jay to cry every time, without fail.

"Benjamin," I scolded. "Will you stop telling Baby Jay his mom is gone. It makes him so sad."

"But Baby-Jay mom is gone," Benjamin shrugged.

"But you don't have to tell him that. I know she's gone. You know she's gone. Even he knows she's gone. Mama is just a word he knows, so he says it a lot, but that doesn't mean he needs you to remind him that his mom is gone, okay?"

It was a long couple of hours. But I didn't see the girls at all. They happily played in Miriam's room, with the door shutting out those pesky baby brothers, until Marian returned.

Friday afternoon brought nap time (of course) and then ukulele practice and then dinner and bedtime happened in rapid succession, except for Andrew. He's feeling energized and is trying to get caught up on all the work he put off while he was trying not to die earlier this week. And I was stuck sorting through kid clothes, of course.

Too small clothes that I'd been weeding out of the laundry for the past several months had been building up in piles around our bedroom. Rachel's cast-offs went into Miriam's box. Miriam's cast-offs went into the "Zoë may eventually wear this" box, though I was a little more picky about what went in there since those clothes will be left sitting in a box for five years and we'll be moving before Zoë gets around to wearing them. Whatever didn't go in there went into a bag for Trading Tables. A few of Benjamin's clothes went into a too-small-for-Ben box, but most went into that bag for Trading Tables because his wardrobe is 98% hand-me-downs anyway and so far we have no obvious reason to hold on to them. Plus he hasn't really grown out of much yet since he's still wearing 18 month clothes.

Anyway, cleaning out the piles of hand-me-downs from various perches in our bedroom activated Andrew's cleaning gene. By 2 AM we had four bags of stuff ready for Trading Tables and I was begging Andrew to go to bed.

"Just after I sweep the floor," he said.

"Remember when I was pregnant with Rachel and I would fall asleep in the car on the way home from work?" I asked. Don't worry. We carpooled (because having two vehicles is totally overrated and because we were both working/learning at BYU (he was a student; I was working) so it was totally convenient) and he drove while I fell asleep on the fifteen minute drive home every day for nine months.

"Yeah," he said.

"Okay, so, I don't even know how I'm standing right now."

This morning's alarm came far too early, but we managed to get all set up for Trading Tables with time to spare. The bishop's wife came to help and scolded me for rolling a table by myself (rolling is not the same as lifting or carrying) so I ended up taping signs on tables while other people set the heavy things up. When everything was ready, Andrew left for his soccer meeting. He'll be coaching Rachel's team again this season.

I showed great restraint and hardly "shopped" at all, though we did pick up a few things. At the very end someone brought in a whole box of children's books so I grabbed several of those because one of my favourite things to do is put books back on shelves, apparently.

Clean up was a breeze this time around because also at the very end, this lady showed up who wanted to "shop" for some refugee families their church was hosting. Five women, all single mothers, with twenty-two children between them all.

"Do you mind if I just bag all the clothes up and take them to my church to sort through?" she asked. "I'll take the leftovers to goodwill when we're finished."

Do I mind? I thought. Do I mind?! This woman is my hero!

"That is not a problem at all. We'll help you bag it up!" I said.

Because, dude! Carting all the leftovers away is probably the biggest job of running Trading Tables. And, honestly, I have no problem giving our leftovers to thrift stores (The Durham Rescue Mission is our go-to donation center) but I also cringe at the idea of them selling everything we give them when people who really need it can just have it if we go through alternate channels. I was more than happy to (A) not have to haul all those bags off myself and (B) that they'd be going directly to people who need them.

She also took a bunch of household items (a crib mattress and some blankets and things) that I was also quite happy to not have to take anywhere.

She's friends with someone in a ward in Chapel Hill, which is how she found out about Trading Tables. I got her email address so I could contact her directly the next time we do this, because apparently their church sponsors several homeless families every year and they're always looking for hand-me-downs to sift through.

All the women there who heard what she was up to were pretty impressed by the idea, and I can't help but think that's maybe what the idea was when humanitarian projects were turned over to individual wards to find, rather than the church having projects for wards to fill. It used to be that they had patterns for toys to sew and lists for hygiene kits and wards would do those projects and send them to SLC and then the church would distribute them. A few years ago, though, the church all but did away with that and Relief Societies were left to find their own projects to carry out (supporting local charities and filling local needs). I have the feeling we're still in the middle of a steep learning curve, and though there are some amazing women doing some amazing things (Days for Girls, Teeny Tears, and so forth) I'm excited to see what other amazing projects other amazing women are going to come up with.

After Trading Tables I napped—with relish—while Andrew took Benjamin grocery shopping. Because that man is amazing and I can only do so long on so little sleep.


  1. I am so glad you got that lady's contact info! That is awesome. My friend Anita's church in Lincoln Nebraska also takes care of refugee families.

  2. I wish I had that much energy! Sounds like a good day. I'm glad you were able to help others with what you had left!

  3. That trading tables thing is awesome!!! Cleaning up is the worst great you can actually help out by getting some help! Also girl why are you staying up so late? You are exhausted! Andrew put this girl to bed by ten if she won't go!