Sunday, November 28, 2010

our thanksgiving weekend--in pictures.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

thanksgiving 2010

i believe everything that is good in my life comes from God.

there are so many things to be thankful for.

health, home, friends, family.  so much more.

and mostly
the blessing it is to love and be loved by





and her.


and that i am me, 


and that i've been
given the ability to navigate through life.
the good and bad,
sometimes stumbling just to remember why i am here,
to pick myself back up,
count my blessings,
to not be perfect, to love myself anyway, 
and to be grateful for it all.

happy thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

lynsey vs. the backyard. {subtitled: lynsey vs. the birds.}

we have waited a long time for a backyard.

almost 8 years to be exact.  

when we first saw this house and wanted to rent it, we saw that the backyard was going to need some work.  but really, what backyard doesn't?  especially in arizona, if it's been neglected for a few weeks {or in the summer, neglect it for 12 hours} it will need a lot of tender loving care to get it back in good shape.

but we were ready for it.  probably eager just because we were so excited we could actually say to our kids go play in the backyard, and pictured hours and hours of uninterrupted self-entertainment.


our first taste of just how much TLC it was going to need was when we seeded the lawn with winter grass.  {that's right, for non-arizonians, we have to plant grass twice a year here.  our soil is like a high maintenance girl from L.A. who needs continual botox injections just to keep things looking "fresh."}

within 24 hours we noticed that our backyard was COVERED in birds.  i'm talking like 50 or 60.  all over the place, eating our seed.  i developed a loathing for these birds that could only match my loathing for spiders.  well, it was almost there.  the arachnid loathing started about 20 years ago so its roots go a bit deeper.  {roots.  a grass pun.  heh.  i am awesome.}

about every 10 minutes i would have to run outside to the backyard and cause a ruckus, creating a mass hysteria of swarming birds.  i would cover my head and squeal as i ran inside amid feathers and squawks.  i get it, i looked like a doofus.  i've seen the movie "the birds."  i would slam the door only to see all of those evil seed-eating botards lining the roofs of our neighboring houses, just waiting for things to settle down.

alfred hitchcock would have been jealous, he wouldn't have even had to hire stunt birds.

as i would watch through the windows, it would only take a minute or two before several flew down to start going after the seed again.  as soon as the brave ones confirmed it was safe for the wussy birds, they would all do a group-swoop down onto our yard, covering every inch of open ground.

they were determined.

but, so was i.

these bird shenanigans were going on during the time that caleb was home sick with a high fever, and ben was gone on a camping trip.  so it was a solo mission for me, but by this point it was personal.  i was up for the challenge.

i tried putting a CD player outside and blasting loud music.  that didn't work.  i had been told by friends on facebook to try buying a fake owl, but i couldn't get out to the store.  i had also heard that others would put old CD's upside down on their ground so that the shiny side would reflect sunlight & scare the birds away.  well, i didn't have a bunch of old CD's, so i got creative.

i used dental floss and tin foil and strung lines up all over our backyard.

 yes, it looked awesome.  totally classy.

but, it worked....for the most part.

those birds were sneaky!  they would go to every spot in the yard that wasn't next to a piece of flying foil and just eat around the areas that weren't covered.  soooooo completely infuriating.

i eventually gave in, and went through my collection of CD's to see if there were any i could part with.  luckily i had kept almost everything from high school & early back to the days of SheDaisy, Hanson, and Heather Nova.  

don't you dare judge me.

so those became bird ammo to cover the patches of yard that weren't touched by the foil.  and luckily, with the combination of those two i felt we had won the battle.

but unfortunately i didn't realize that we were fighting a war.

soon i will post about the adventures that ensued this afternoon with the kids and i.  luckily it's a bird-free story, but it involves a new enemy.

lynsey vs. the weeds.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

my last lecture, if i had one.

i've been thinking a lot.

a lot about being a mother.

a lot about being a wife.

a lot about being a daughter, a friend, a neighbor, a member of my religion.

a lot about being a human.

about why we're here, walking around, living life.

i mean, honestly.  what are we doing here?

what's the point of us going to work every school every day....making beds every day....doing laundry every day....loving, hurting, celebrating, living, enjoying, disappointing, dying, enduring?

is there a point?

i believe there's a point.  most readers know that i'm a member of the church of jesus christ of latter day saints.  and as a member of this church we are taught that there are reasons for all of it.  to gain a body, to be tested, to return to a loving Father in Heaven.

i am a big believer in all of this.

before i became a mother of real, live, breathing, screaming, smiling children, i was idealistic and naive.  i dreamed of adorable, chubby infants dressed head to toe in baby GAP clothing.  smelling constantly like baby lotion, cooing and giggling as if that was what they were born to do.

when i actually became a mother, my idealistic views wore off quickly.  oftentimes {more often than not} fear gripped my heart.  i was now responsible for this screaming, not-sleeping, pooping mess?  who in their right mind thought this was a good idea?  not only was i constantly worried about accidentally dropping the child, but also was i feeding them enough?  too much?  was that a temperature i detected?  a runny nose?  are they rolling over on time?  talking late?  talking too soon?  not to mention all of the extra complications that caleb brought with him.

there was so much to worry about.

and yet, i was so absolutely in love.

i also changed, as a human being.  i was pushed to levels i didn't think were possible during my single, idealistic, non-mother days.

so i became a mother for the second time.  and was again molded, formed, pushed, changed.  and my heart grew to let another little person in, with a love that is indescribable.  it's almost a painful type of love.  it's a constant ache, bursting-at-the-seams adoration.

for a while, my goal as their mother was to let them know that my love for them was unconditional.  that they would never have to go through this world wondering if they were loved by me.  that if i could do just that for matter what other mistakes i made as their mother....i would consider my job as their mom a success.

i was a mother on a mission, a mother determined.  a naive mother.  

as my kids have grown older i've realized that my fears and worries have adapted.  now i'm more concerned with how they're going to do in school, with peers, will they make good choices?  will they stick up for the underdog?  will they be the underdog?  will they stay strong, even when they are hurt?  what do they worry about?  will they overcome their insecurities?  are they going to know how beautiful and amazing i think they are?

for the past 6 months or so, caleb's favorite song to sing at night is "april come she will" by simon & garfunkel.
the last part of the song has words that, if caleb is extremely tired, make him cry.

August, die she must,
The autumn winds blow chilly and cold;
September I´ll remember.
A love once new has now grown old

when he cries about the song i ask him what's making him sad and he always tells me that the song has made him think of me, and that he never ever wants me to die.  never ever ever.

it's really sweet, and i hug him and tell him that the most important thing to remember is that right now i'm alive and that i love him. and that even when i do die, that i will always be with him.  and that we'll have a chance to see each other again one day.  i tell him that he can say a prayer and ask for comfort in times when he feels lonely, and Heavenly Father will help him to feel peace in his heart.

i was thinking today about those conversations caleb and i have.  sometimes i feel like i'm at a loss for words when he says these things.  i want to reassure him that i won't die....or at least not for like another 60 years....but that may not be true.  so do i calm him down in the moment, so that he can go to sleep untroubled?  or do i tell him the truth in the best way that i know how so that i don't set him up with false hopes?

and that was when it hit me.  the naive mother had evolved.

the goal of reaching what i deemed "success" as a mother...teaching my children that i love them unconditionally..... was just a small piece of it.

because there undoubtedly will come a day when i die, and if all i teach caleb is that his mother loves him no matter what.....well, what happens when i die?  what will he hold on to then?  not only that, but there will also undoubtedly come a day when i fail him in his eyes, when i make a mistake or screw him up in some way.  there may come a day when he questions the love i have for him because of a mistake, or a different point of view.  i am an imperfect being, as much as i would love not to be.  the odds are high that i may be the very person whose relationship sends him bee-lining it straight for a therapist's chair.  

when we put all of our faith in people or things, even if it's with good intentions... like loving a child or loving a mother or loving a husband, or in our success, or in our education, or even sometimes in a religion....well, it's like putting all of our faith into a feather that we hold in our hand and let go in the wind.  we don't have control over any of these things.  

people are not perfect.  they have their agency.  i remember as a newlywed sometimes i would think to myself "if ben dies before me i have no idea how i'll be able to continue living without him."  well what if ben does die?  or what if he doesn't die, but decides to go through a mid-life crisis and leave me to marry some 18 year old bimbo?  the odds aren't likely, but it could happen.  it has happened, to men just as amazing as ben.

so if i've put all of my love and all of my faith and my competency as a human being in ben....where will that leave me if he decides to exercise his agency?

i did not know that at the time, i was naively setting myself up to fail.  to find someone to blame if life brought me pain, whether it was ben...or God, or whomever else who i could put at the forefront of an oncoming trial.

life is unstable.  our home could be hit with an earthquake tomorrow morning, wiping out all of our possessions.  or ben could be in an accident that causes permanent brain damage, making the past 2 years of pursuing his education worth nothing.  

last night, for family home evening, i wrote a kid-friendly version of the story of Job.  the man who had everything, and had it all taken from him to test his faith in God.  he lost his children, his home, his animals and wealth.  he had sores covering his body.  {my stick-figured Job with sores all over was pretty funny.}  he had all of his previous roles stripped from him; as a father, as a successful, wealthy man, as even a physically attractive person.

his friends came to him and told him to denounce God, that God had abandoned him in his time of need.  but he refused, and praised God even through all of his trials.  and finally, Job received all of his blessings back and more for never turning his heart away from his Heavenly Father.

i have heard many people go through difficult things in life, situations that i wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.  i personally don't believe that God plants trials just to cause us pain, or cause us hurt.  sometimes we are given trials to humble us, or to teach us.  sometimes we suffer trials at the hands of others, who are just exercising their free will and we are simply innocent victims along their path.  but for  me, the why is not the most important thing to worry about.  the why seems to be what people can get caught up in, and it actually can become such a distraction in the big scheme of things.  

i have heard many ask, "why would God put me through this?  why would he want me to suffer this way?"

and the answer for me is very simple:

to bring us closer to him.

whether it's a trial deemed by God or not, it doesn't matter.  a trial is a trial is a trial.  and you going through it may just be life.  but it's what you do with that trial that counts.  where your heart turns, where your thoughts turn.

i've thought so much about the post that my friend andrea wrote, and have re-read the scripture she referenced about a dozen times since.

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."
Helaman 5:12

and then she wrote:  


and this is what it's about for me.  
if i could teach my children one thing, just one.  

it would be that no matter what, that they are not, and will never be, alone.  no matter how lonely they feel, or how sad, or how angry, or how unloved.  no matter what mistakes they make, or which path they choose.  which religion they decide to belong to, or if they decide none of them work for their needs.  

even though i know how important it is for them to know that their father and mother love them no matter what, it is more important for my children to know that they are loved by a God who will never die, who does not go through mid-life crises, who can't be destroyed by earthquakes or brain damage, or terminal illnesses, or hatred.

the rest of the things in life that i mentioned before.....going to work every day, to school every day, doing laundry, getting your heart broken, changing diapers, getting married, making friends....these are all amazing blessings and also simple distractions to what is most important.  but to live in this world, we have to participate in these things.  i just want my children to remember that all of these things are great, but they are also feathers in a wind that is always changing, and never in our control.

the only constant they have is our Heavenly Father. 

and i feel like....if my children really do come to know this, that the rest of their lives will be spent living in harmony of things that are good.  they will already be kind, hard-working, loving, honest, respectful, humble, God-loving people.  all of those things will fall into place if they truly know and feel deep down in their souls that they are important to the Most Important One.

i think that my role as their mother is also extremely important.  that by me unconditionally loving them, it is a small example of the love that God has for them.  to plant this seed of a foundation of unconditional love in our home will hopefully help them to someday see the bigger picture.  

i've gained a new appreciation of my role.  children learn by example, so my new goal is not just for them to have this foundation in their lives, but for me to have it in mine.  to live every day with the knowledge that i am also important, and that i know that Heavenly Father loves me as much as he loves them.  that aside from all of my roles, first and foremost, i am a daughter of God.  i have worth just by merely existing.

and yes, i am other things on top of that, but it is who i am first.

so now i walk around, picking up their laundry and driving them to school, supporting their father as he pursues his higher education, and changing their diapers knowing that there are greater purposes at work.

and that no matter what happens to me, i will not lose faith.  that the feathers i grasp in my hands are just feathers, but that my foundation is built upon my Rock.

and that there is a purpose in this life.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

a video. take 2.

i took a bunch of videos of leah singing this morning to brandi carlile while she ate bananas.  and this is the only one i have so far, it takes quite a while to upload them.  but i'm pretty sure we listened to that song 20 times this morning and she never stopped dancing and singing to it.  

the girl has good taste.

leah singing brandi carlile from lynsey strader on Vimeo.

Friday, November 5, 2010

photo shoot.

during caleb's sickness this week, i had a lot of down time.  which was good in a way, because i got a lot accomplished.  but aside from that small 30 minutes at the park, we literally didn't leave the house from sunday through thursday and that also made me a little crazy.  

i'm not sure if leah is still getting over being sick but the girl has thrown some tantrums that would make the super nanny shake in her little hat and button-up coats.  

luckily i was able to take some pictures of her while she was in-between fits.  here are some of my favorites:

{note:  the props of choice for this particular photo shoot were an empty and clean medicine cup measurer, and then moved to a more toddler-appropriate prop....her beloved hippo.}

if only she could look this cute while she's smacking me in the face, head-butting me in the sternum, and throwing her body back screeching at top volume.  

i still love her though, and am glad i took these pictures to remember the good times....just in case they become fewer & farther in between the approach of the inevitable year of 2. {dun dun dunnnnnnn}

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


sometimes i feel like caleb is a 65 year old man trapped in a 5 year old's body.

i had taken the kids out to the park today, to try to get us out of the house before our rear ends literally formed to the couch.  i had called andrea to meet us with her two boys.  as we were leaving the park to head home, i noticed caleb had his hands over his ears and kept yelling at tyler, the boy his age, 


because apparently ty's singing was too loud for caleb to handle at the moment.  andrea and i laughed over caleb's attempt at getting some peace & relaxation.

about an hour later, i was eating dinner with the kids and leah was in one of those moods of finding extreme joy in pushing her older brother's buttons.  her favorite thing to do to rile him up is to just look at him and yell for no reason.  and of course, caleb was taking the bait every time, getting more and more emotional with each yell.  

i gave caleb a speech about how we can't control what others do, but we can be in control of our own reactions and ignore others.  i showed him an example, letting him yell at me just like leah was doing.  i showed him how to ignore and then told him to do the same thing the next time leah yelled at him.

about 30 seconds later, leah started up again.

i looked over, and this is what caleb was doing:

i burst out laughing and then quickly took a picture.

"what are you doing there, bud?"  i asked him.

"mom," he said, in an exasperated tone, "i'm ignoring her.  and at the same time, i'm getting my peaceaxation."

namaste, my son.  namaste. 

going on 4 days of pretty much looking like this:

is about to drive me insane.
wishing everyone better health than what we've got going on!

Monday, November 1, 2010

denise richards is a scary actress and other halloween frights...

last night, in honor of halloween, i sat down to type about my history of scary movies and how coupled with my over-active imagination, halloween is pretty much the worst time of year for me to watch any type of t.v.  {or commercials for that matter}.

but my scary thoughts were interrupted by an even scarier sound.  i had been on the phone at the time when i heard a loud and fast thump-thump-thump-thumpthumpthump coming from upstairs.  

i asked ben, "what was that?"  but he was in the middle of watching james bond {the cheesy pierce brosnan one with denise richards.  because i had put a stop to any and all scary movie-ness.  sidenote:  denise richards is a terrible actress and puts a whole new spin on the word "scary."} and had been lost in the moving emotion {snort} of the movie so he didn't hear it.

thump-thump-thumthumpthump it came again.

"that!  did you hear it??  what IS that?"  i told my friend i'd have to call her back and took off running up the stairs.  

my over-active imagination ran with me, convincing myself that i would find freddy krueger leaning over one of my children, just about to make them his tasty snack.  or that the poltergeist was hiding in leah's closet and had snatched her in to our t.v. to try to make her his forever.  i had almost resigned myself to give a call to the creepy little psychic lady who helps rid possessed houses of their evil demons. {sidenote #2:  that lady's voice creeped me out almost as much as the clowns in the movie.  almost.}

i told ben to check on caleb & i would check on leah.  as i opened her door, i let out a huge sigh.  she was safe in her bed, bum up in the air, arms wrapped around her blankies and stuffed hippo.  but she was awake, and held up her head and let out a little cry.  i couldn't believe she was still awake, it was almost 10:00 at night.  she hadn't been feeling well for the past couple of days but seemed to be over the worst of it.  i wondered if i was wrong though, and decided to give her a little drink of water, change her diaper and assess whether or not she needed some medicine.

i met ben at the stairway who confirmed that no clowns had captured caleb and drug him under his bed, and we went downstairs.  leah was fussy, whining and wiggling around.  i should have recognized the signs, but my mind was on other things, more worried about men wearing hockey masks peeking through our windows.  

when suddenly, leah barfed.  all over.

about a million green beans from dinner, a gallon of curdled milk and who knows what else came forcefully out of her and onto her favorite blankie.  she had been sitting on my lap but luckily i missed the gushing nastiness.  ben and i went into what i call "barf mode" {caleb made us professionals in this area} and as i tried to wrap the blanket to catch whatever else was coming, ben ran for the nearest bowl...which in this case held the rest of the halloween candy we hadn't handed out.  luckily ben is good in a panic {unlike me} and dumped the candy out before reaching us just in time to catch the next geyser.

it went on for a couple of minutes and then her body finally calmed down.  but leah herself was not calm at all, she was screaming at the top of her lungs.  as ben cleaned up the mess downstairs, i took her upstairs for a bath.  back in the days of caleb regularly throwing up every 48 to 72 hours, the bath would always calm him down.  but it just sent leah into more of a fit, freaking out and repeatedly trying to climb her way out of the tub as i frantically soaped her up and washed away the vomit from her hair and hands.

once she was out of the bath, she wouldn't calm down long enough for me to even put a diaper on her.  she squirmed and rolled and screamed her head off, to such extremes that i actually started wondering if we were re-living "the exorcist" and needed to tie her to a bed.  as i softly spoke to her, trying to convince her to put on some clothes, she ran around her room buck naked,  screeching at top volume.  

she carried on this way, even involving ben trying to help out.  as she screamed i could tell she was cold.  and then the next lovely moment came, when she peed on her carpet.  and it disturbed her so much that she then started yelling, "UH OH!  OH NO!  OH NO!  SOWEEEE!"  over and over.  i wiped her off, and decided to momentarily give up on the clothing, wrapped her up in her towel again, held her close and rocked in the rocking chair with her.

her little body shook with the hup-hup's and finally calmed down.  she looked at me through swollen, red eyes until i could finally tell that the need for an exorcism was over.  she sat up and let me get her dressed, then she ate some goldfish crackers, drank a little bit of water, watched a baby einstein show and finally went to sleep.

i climbed wearily into my own bed a few minutes later and soon realized that there are scarier things than my over-active imagination, such as:
-leah's post-barfing breath
-caleb waking me up at 3:30 in a sneezing fit, letting me know he didn't feel well and needed some help
-having both kids sick at the same time
-my 2 day stint in just pj's
-leah's hair, after going to bed with it wet & unwilling to let me brush it before she went to sleep
-6:30 am, when caleb woke me up again, asking me to get him another tissue
-the dark circles under my eyes, after my mostly sleepless night.

someday i will write about my history of fear that began with a halloween episode of "the facts of life" and spans up to the present time that even now causes me to have to sleep with the closet light on some nights {ben is a very patient man}.  but for today i will deal with the real, and un-imaginary. 

and i never did find out what that thum-thump thumping noise was.