Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saturday

Well,
I didn't pet the dog,
because he chewed up both A/C wires today.
And I didn't touch the laundry,
because,
apparently,
I'm not as young as I once was,
and so I took a nap instead of doing half the chores.
Notice I said, "Half."
But the half I neglected are the most obvious.
No one will care that I did the grocery shopping,
and ran the errands.
They will only notice that I didn't clean my bedroom again,
and the kitchen didn't get mopped.
But.....
The presents are purchased and wrapped.
There will be no sneaking of any peeks this year.
Mwahahaha.

And I am officially finished doing the single-mom thing.
I will have to repeat my song all week until I finally finish my chores,
hopefully before next Sunday :)

Things I found interesting this week:
  • The 6th grade boys are circulating the Hunger Games series.
  • Maryn monkeys around saying, "Ma, Ma, Mommm, mom, mom, mom." She is a parrot, repeating the rest of the kids. It's amazing how many times a day I hear my name.
  • People at Walmart are crazy. Colin is a people observer and was way too entertained by the midnight frenzy. Sydney has some video footage she might post to youTube.

Something I found sad this week:
The fire guys worked a few codes (near death/dead).
Our friend worked one that was a two year old on Thanksgiving who pulled a gate down on himself and got trapped. He was dead, and they revived him.....mostly.
He said it was really, really sad.

We can't be too careful with our kids.
Really, more than 2 minutes out of sight is too long.
And for me,
it's an enormous challenge.
There is a constant paranoia that battles my inability to be in all places at once.

Turkey Day...minus all the details.

Thanksgiving in this family started Wednesday after school.
We took the kids to Harry Potter,
and that was super fun.

Did you know that a 12 passenger van comes with 1 of 2 different doors?
One is a sliding door.
The other option is having "Barn Doors."
(That's the technical term btw)
Remember a few years ago when I posted about my van?
It brought me to tears to think I would be driving a vehicle with "Barn Doors."

The latest theory circulating among the kids and their friends is that, "She's a pushover."

The other day,
when the football boys wanted something,
I overheard one say to Colin,
"Dude, ask your mom......you know she won't say no."

And so,
as it goes around here lately,
the children hand me the keys,
open the 'Barn Doors'
and hoards of kids get taken tons of places.

Dan mentioned in his lesson that I was 90% finished Christmas shopping the week before Thanksgiving.
(That kind of embarrassed me.)
I don't want people to think I am some kind of controlling, over-achiever.
Most of my last decade of Christmases have been sub-par effort due to pregnancy or new babies.
Maryn is a year old now,
And I have energy.
I have spent the last few weeks cleansing...my house, my yard, my heart.
I felt somewhat inspired to finish many things and be prepared.

Last Sunday,
we were asked to help head-up a project to adopt a less fortunate family for Christmas.
It was that assignment that helped me understand what I was preparing for.

And then again on Thanksgiving,
when all the cousins were getting excited about Black Friday
and shopping
and Christmas,
I was the one most available to take kids along for their own fun.
And so I stayed up most of the night,
taking kids in shifts for shopping.
It was a hodge-podge combination of cousins,
most of whom I barely know,
and we had so much fun.
I was happy to spend time that way.

And yesterday afternoon,
when I was so exhausted,
the keys were again placed in my hands,
and the Barn Doors opened.
9 girls got in with a destination to the mall.
And these sweet girls took their little sisters to see the new Disney movie.

It was a good day.
It was good because I was more prepared than usual.
And it feels better to have completed some of the harder parts of the season,
so I might have time to focus on the best parts....the service and the time.

Some years that Dan has worked the holidays have been really sad for me.
It's difficult to miss him on these weekends,
when families are all together.
We dropped by the station a few different times.
The kids got to hug their dad,
and the cousins had some fun.

Today is the first Saturday in several weeks that we had nothing of significance on the schedule.
So he took an overtime shift.
That makes 72 straight hours.
And after Black Friday,
it's probably best that he is working ;)

The children miss him.
I miss him.
But,
He is here,
even when he is not here.

There is a part of my life that I could not survive without.
It's the mind-over-matter part.
8 children needing so much love,
and only 2 parents.
Our big kids step into larger roles to willingly help.
I believe they do it out of love.

We woke up Thanksgiving morning knowing that Dan would be gone for several days.
I asked him to move some heavy things.
We had only 40 minutes and it was a project that would normally take all morning.
He worked quickly,
and said goodbye.
I finished the project that morning.
Colin and Presley came out to help me wash the van.
I am sure we looked a little crazy,
washing our car and doing chores on Thanksgiving.
In a large family,
the work never breaks,
even for Holidays.
I insisted that the regular chores be completed,
and I admit,
that I wasn't backing down on those.
But,
I would never ask the kids to help with a bigger project on a holiday.
It was something I needed to do.
It brought me tremendous peace to have my little volunteers out helping.
And we loaded up a little late to Thanksgiving,
but everyone was dressed
and happy.

We spent only 2 minutes with Dan that day,
because just after we arrived at the station,
the tones went off,
and he was gone.

Holidays are the hardest part of is job.
We had a near miss for an emergency room visit.
(Blood is his thing.
When he's not here,
I invoke the mind-over-matter.)
And I missed shopping with him.

I wonder if he were here,
how different the weekend might have gone.
Would the children have had the attention?
Would I have forced myself to stay engaged as long as I did?
Probably not.
Maybe..... just now,
I understand single mothers a little better.

Well,
today is Saturday.
In our world,
it's the day we get ready for Sunday.
There is a little song we learned in Primary,
and I sing it in my head all the time,
(except the words escape me,
so I make up my own.)

"We wash the clothes (all 28 loads),
and vacuum the couch,
and spot shot the carpet,
and find all the shoes,
and scoop up the poop

and water the grass,
and scrub the toilets,
and throw tons of stuff away,
and polish the appliances,
clean out the microwave,
and fill up the van with gas,
and return the movies,
and drop off the library books,
make our beds,
put out the matching towels,
and refill the toilet tissue holders,
and ride our bikes,
and try to make it to the temple without falling asleep at the wheel,

sooooo.......we can be ready for Sunday!"

I love that song.

Do you know who misses Dan the most?
The dog.
So I will also say hi to the dog today,
and pet him,
and take him for a walk,
(well.....maybe,
because that's a work out,
literally.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

To My Mother

Dear Mom,

I'm hacking your blog to tell you how thankful I am.

Thanks for getting up and helping me through the day.

Thanks for inspiring me to be the best that I could be.

Thanks for teaching me mind-over-matter. It has become my motto in life.

Thanks for teaching me the gospel, that I might grow to have my own testimony, and to know the truth.

Thank you for loving me. You have made me what I am today.

Thanks for everything.

Love,
Sydney

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Back

I am finally back on my early schedule.
It took a long, 20 hour day yesterday to kick my late night habits.

Okay,
so something is seriously wrong with me.
We put up our Christmas lights on Veterans Day.
I like them too.
And yesterday,
I wrapped all the Christmas gifts I already purchased which is about half of what I need.
And I hid them.

In a few days,
I will complete the "Gift-Purchasing" part of Christmas,
And I am looking for all kinds of ways to feel the spirit of Christmas.

It all started when we decided to wash the windows.
It took 8 hours,
and involved the blinds,
the window sills
and the screens.
That lead to dusting the high stuff,
replacing the light bulbs,
cleaning the fans,
washing the walls,
and scrubbing the baseboards.
And all that took us out to the yard,
which is finally becoming a yard.

We had about 10 days after football and I seized my opportunity to keep the momentum going.

I do not believe in long breaks.
6 weeks is too long to waste between sports seasons,
and so we organized a little tennis camp.
It filled up super fast,
and Monday we begin learning tennis.
I love the structure of a busy schedule.

I know everyone is different,
but it always works best for me to stay active.
"A body in motion tends to stay in motion."
(That's what rolls through my head all day long)

Today ends soccer.
:(
My girls did a great job.

It's supposed to be Rainy Day Schedule today.
I remember 2 years ago on the last day of soccer,
it was pouring rain,
and they finished the season dripping wet in the freezing cold.
I think I will bring an umbrella today.
I can be taught.

My husband is MIA.

Dear Husband,

Just a little note to let you know that I am thinking of you. You might also appreciate knowing that a text every now and then is not sufficient to maintaining a good relationship with your wife. 48 hour shifts work best when I don't want to kill you at the end.

Love Forever, (conditional upon your participation in the kitchen, of course)
Me

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday

Is it really Friday?
Dan walked in Monday morning,
and we never really quit moving all week.

I spent the week in the dirt,
raking,
hoeing,
shoveling,
pulling weeds,
planting.

Football season ended and I took full advantage of the afternoons.

One of the kids commented that no one else they know does yard work like we do.
It might be true.
But this time of year is too irresistible to pass up.
The weather is absolutely perfect.
We are still in shorts a t-shirts,
and it's hoody weather at night.
I am having to use all my concentrative energy to try to be inside, and today,I desperately need to do some house work.

I put my apron on as motivation.
It's not working though.

Only 2 kids left the house this morning.
The others are sick or sickly,
and they have been remanded to their beds for the day.
Today I am on a mission.
(They know I am a pushover,
and they will try to suck me into a movie on the couch.
Can't do it guys.
Must. be. strong.)

The coolest thing about this crew is their obsession with books.
They would just assume be curled up in their jammies reading.

Before I forget,
I have to recap
(to see how much I am remembering):

Crossroads
Prayers
Scriptures
Meals
Family Night
Read
Do things together as a family
Friends
Teaching
Love
(I missed 2 this morning)

As for my progress:
I am eating every meal.

'Being at the crossroads' is taking work.
I have to be a little more strategic about my daily comings and goings so I can purposefully be here when the kids get home.

And the rest of the list is a work in progress.

Here is something I need to be reminded of this day.
It's one of our favorite stories,
especially when we think about our kids.

It never gets old.


“While we were growing up in a small community, my father saw the need for my brother and me to learn the principle of work. As a result, he put us to work on a small farm on the edge of town where he had been raised. He ran the local newspaper, so he could not spend much time with us except early in the morning and in the evening. That was quite a responsibility for two young teenagers, and sometimes we made mistakes.

“Our small farm was surrounded by other farms, and one of the farmers went in to see my father one day to tell him the things he thought we were doing wrong. My father listened to him carefully and then said, ‘Jim, you don’t understand. You see, I’m raising boys and not cows.’ After my father’s death, Jim told us his story. How grateful I was for a father who decided to raise boys, and not cows. In spite of the mistakes, we learned how to work on that little farm, and I guess, although they didn’t say it in so many words, we always knew we were more important to Mother and Father than the cows or, for that matter, anything else” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1974, 12; or Ensign, Nov. 1974, 11).


This week,
I am especially grateful for my sweet children.
They work hard,
and it's always appreciated.

This week,
while out pulling weeds,
Caleb told us of a story about a troubled kid at school.
I wonder sometimes if that story will be about one of our kids someday.
I really doubt it.
They are very kind and respectful and it is truly a blessing to Dan and I that we never worry about them.

This morning began at 2am.
It's been awhile since I was able to make it to the temple early on a Friday.
I was so happy to be there.

I have nothing very significant to report this week,
except that Maryn took her first steps,
and Dan gloated about it,
because I missed it.
And Cade used the potty,
and I somehow missed that too.

I feel like smiling today,
but I have no apparent reason.

It feels good to be a mom today,
sick kids,
laundry,
lonely bed,
and all.

To the one who steals the covers.....I miss you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dark Gift

Last night,
we asked Presley what she was reading.
She said, "Sister for Sale."
Colin was on the computer,
in the background giggling at that thought,
feeling rather vindicated.
I said to Presley,
"Brother for Sale might be better, but you wouldn't get as much money."
Presley was now giggling.
Colin quickly responded,
"How 'bout 'Cranky, Yelling mom for sale.....No charge....Comes with Horrible Dog."
Now the whole room is laughing.
"Buy One, Get One Free," they said....
Ha ha ha son.
Laugh it up with the rest of the minions.

Obviously my sweet children neglected to read the earlier post.
Added to the list of things we don't say, 'cranky, yelling, and horrible.'

Look, yelling is bad,
but sometimes it's the only way my voice is heard above the deafening clatter of noise.
Maybe lowering the decibel level would help?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

#10 Suggestions to Mothers

"Truly Love Your Children. Tenth and finally, mothers, take the time to truly love your children. A mother’s unqualified love approaches Christlike love.

Here is a beautiful tribute by a son to his mother: “I don’t remember much about her views of voting nor her social prestige; and what her ideas on child training, diet, and eugenics were, I cannot recall. The main thing that sifts back to me now through the thick undergrowth of years is that she loved me. She liked to lie on the grass with me and tell stories, or to run and hide with us children. She was always hugging me. And I liked it. She had a sunny face. To me it was like God, and all the beatitudes saints tell of Him. And sing! Of all the sensations pleasurable to my life nothing can compare with the rapture of crawling up into her lap and going to sleep while she swung to and fro in her rocking chair and sang. Thinking of this, I wonder if the woman of today, with all her tremendous notions and plans, realizes what an almighty factor she is in shaping of her child for weal or woe. I wonder if she realizes how much sheer love and attention count for in a child’s life.”

Mothers, your teenage children also need that same kind of love and attention. It seems easier for many mothers and fathers to express and show their love to their children when they are young, but more difficult when they are older. Work at this prayerfully. There need be no generation gap. And the key is love. Our young people need love and attention, not indulgence. They need empathy and understanding, not indifference from mothers and fathers. They need the parents’ time. A mother’s kindly teachings and her love for and confidence in a teenage son or daughter can literally save them from a wicked world."

From an address by President Benson at a fireside for parents on 22 February 1987.


To answer Debbie's question from the previous post,
I would like to say,
that if it wasn't for Dan's current job,
I never would have found the degree of love I feel for my children.


When Dan joined the fire department,
my world was turned upside-down.
For long stretches of time,
I would be without an adult companion.
At some point,
I looked around and noticed I was surrounded by little people.
I could complain, because they are high maintenance,
Or I could treat them like friends,
and enjoy my time.
They became my world.


#10 is now easy for me.
What I lack in mothering abilities,
I make up for in love.

But I still have something to learn.
I tend to be more of a "Task Oriented" mom.
Sometimes I forget to stop and play.
I worry about messes,
and homework,
and practice.
I need a clean house to survive
and that seems to be my biggest hurdle.

How do I balance work and play?
Lately, the play has taken precedence.
I have to be really creative with my time.
Our little ones need unstructured day time and attention.
Our big kids are wanting to stay out late at night.
I am having to adapt my schedule to meet every one's needs.
Thankfully,
Cade and Maryn still like naps,
and on Tuesdays and Thursdays between noon and 2pm,
we catch some zzzz's,
(if we can).
I doubt I will ever be very productive late at night.
I miss my really early mornings.
I do not prefer to be without Dan for so many things,
but we are surviving.

Would my children say that I "play with them?"
I don't think so right now,
but I can be taught,
and I will try.

Yesterday,
football came to a close.
It was bitter-sweet.
This week,
soccer will end too.
I have loved. loved. loved. watching them play.
Last night,
Dan was on the computer signing up for spring sports.
In the mean time,
For the next 2 months,
we will find something fun to do....
Tennis perhaps.


Well,
today is Stake Conference.
That might explain the fact that my thoughts are scattered.
2 hour church meetings need tremendous preparation.
I think I will come back to this post later this afternoon.

.....
It's 12:31 pm and we are home from church.
Maryn is napping.
The littles are watching Vegi Tales.
I need to make dinner...or lunch...well, whatever you call the big meal today.

My mom sat with us for church today.
It was going really great,
for about 15 minutes.
(It's a really long time to sit.)

I remember a talk on gratitude,
and one on rescuing.
I heard again,
for the thousandth time
all the things that will protect our family.

It's always the same message,
but I hear something new each time.

Please endure with me while I commit the 10 suggestions to my memory:
Be at the crossroads,
Pray together daily,
Daily scripture study,
Family Home Evening - meaningful,
Eat together.....(I eat almost every meal now.)
Read to my children,
Be a real friend,
Teach my children,
Do things together as a family....(like Stake Conference, which is painful)
Love my children

Maybe after a few more weeks,
I will really remember.

And one final thought for my children on this day of rest:
Please know how much I love you.
I believe we were meant to share this life together.
There are moments when we lose our dignity and say things we should not say.
I am more patient than most with the words that come flying my way at times.
I excuse bad moments easily,
because I love you,
and I understand,
But I feel like there are some phrases we should completely eliminate from our household vocabulary.
I worry that some of the things that are said will destroy all the good feelings we have fought so hard to create.
Every family argues. It's not good.
All kids say regrettable things. Parents do it too.
Do you know the words and phrases I am referring to?
Can we all make more of an effort to say good things, or in bad situation....remain silent?
Never ever believe that angry words are acceptable when used as personal attacks against people we live with, love or respect.
It's okay to share an intelligent opinion,
but we should choose our words carefully,
If kindness cannot accompany our thoughts,
then we should keep our words harnessed until we find ourselves in a more controllable frame of mind.
There are times lately,
when I turn my back from angry words.
I walk away with tears,
because the things I hear break my heart.
I won't pretend that it doesn't hurt.
Please know that
There isn't anything good I would withhold from you,
but I cannot always please everyone all the time.
Please be patient.
I will try harder too.

Never forget how much I love you,
and your kindnesses to each other is where I find my strength every day.

Have a good week.
Love,
Mom

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

#9 Cont...Suggestions to Mothers

"Teach Your Children. Ninth, mothers, take time to teach your children. Catch the teaching moments. This can be done anytime during the day—at mealtime, in casual settings, or at special sit-down times together, at the foot of the bed at the end of the day, or during an early morning walk together. Mothers, you are your children’s best teacher. Don’t shift this precious responsibility to day-care centers or baby-sitters. A mother’s love and prayerful concern for her children are her most important ingredients in teaching her own.

Teach children gospel principles. Teach them it pays to be good. Teach them there is no safety in sin. Teach them a love for the gospel of Jesus Christ and a testimony of its divinity.

Teach your sons and daughters modesty, and teach them to respect manhood and womanhood. Teach your children sexual purity, proper dating standards, temple marriage, missionary service, and the importance of accepting and magnifying Church callings.

Teach them a love for work and the value of a good education.

Teach them the importance of the right kind of entertainment, including appropriate movies and videos and music and books and magazines. Discuss the evils of pornography and drugs, and teach them the value of living the clean life.

Yes, mothers, teach your children the gospel in your own home, at your own fireside. This is the most effective teaching that your children will ever receive. This is the Lord’s way of teaching. The Church cannot teach like you can. The school cannot. The day-care center cannot. But you can, and the Lord will sustain you. Your children will remember your teachings forever, and when they are old, they will not depart from them. They will call you blessed—their truly angel mother.

Mothers, this kind of heavenly, motherly teaching takes time—lots of time. It cannot be done effectively part-time. It must be done all the time in order to save and exalt your children. This is your divine calling."


These words made a strong impression in my heart years ago.
I am grateful I was young the first time I heard them.
These words changed my whole outlook on motherhood.
They developed my understanding,

and created a change in my behavior.

I don't believe this counsel is meant as a weighty, crushing, overwhelming burden.
These words are meant to inspire.
Basically, every moment we have with our children can and should be used to help them.

I have recently discovered something interesting.
This soccer season,
our daughter Reagan is on a team where the coach is busy.
They practice only once a week.
It wasn't quite enough for Reagan and so she plays on Monday's with Presley also.
Just adding one practice a week has yielded a result of twice the performance on the field.
She is developing skills at 2 times the rate of the others.
Just one extra hour a week.

I see this in our boys' football team as well.
One day they learned button hooks,
and practiced a little.
For the rest of their lives,
they will know what a button hook is.

Once, when Colin was little,
I taught him how to make his bed.
(I think he was the only one I took the time to actually go through step-by-step.)
He keeps his bed immaculate.

Once with Sydney,
we had a talk about being 'completely honest'.
She understood.

One day, I stopped hurrying just long enough to look over Caleb's homework.
I noticed that he has a gift for writing.
We talked about.
He now practices regularly,
and is developing a strong talent.

When Corbin was little,
for a few months, he received some special development therapy.
In only a few sessions,
he was taught how to pretend.
Corbin is our best at playing with toys.

So...do I believe the words of the suggestion above?
With. All. My. Heart.

Last night,
I walked past a pile of stuff I have needed to put away for 4 weeks.
I never stop and take the time to take care of it.
And the kitchen floor has needed mopped for a week.
And I keep meaning to finish my projects.
A flood of guilt washed over me.
It was very profound,
and I knew that all the things that get neglected are 100% my fault.
(It was kind of a depressing moment really.)

I am the hinge,
upon which swings,
a very large gate.

Every mother feels hopeless at times,
and I feel that way often,
but the amazing discovery I have made in the last week is:
It truly is the the little things that will make all the difference.
The days are slipping past us,
but we can be assured that all the seemingly insignificant teaching moments are adding up to make the most significant impact on the development of our children.

And while they are little,
it's all about them,
and only a little about us.
We will never regret these young, hard years,
and I am certain we will miss them.

I won't regret the cruises I didn't take,
or the GNO's I skipped.
I doubt I will look back and say,
I spent too much time driving kids to practice,
or too much money on education.
I will remember all the time I spent with the kids that truly bless my life.

Everyday the same question plays through my mind at least once:
"What if this is as good as it gets?"
What I am really asking myself is:
"Am I really giving this all I have to give?"
Usually, no.

So to recap:
Be at the Crossroads
Be a real Friend
Read daily
Pray daily
Weekly night together
Meals
Scriptures daily
Do things together as a family
and
Teach....all the time, about everything we can.

Sounds like a lot.
Seems worth it too.

9 days ago,
I tried to pray with the kids holding hands.
It didn't go well.
I almost gave up.
Just now,
we read and discussed the scriptures,
and everyone (who was awake)
put their hands in for prayer.
(Colin put only a finger in,
but that is progress).
9 days.
And the complaining is gone,
and the spirit was there,
and we prayed for each child this morning by name.
Some have games,
others have projects.
One has a presentation.
The little ones need safety.

Will all these suggestions help?
Yes.

And for some more naked truth......
Why do I spend so much time and effort trying to become a better mother?
Because it does not come naturally to me.
But the more practice I give to it,
the more natural it feels.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

#8

"Do Things as a Family. Eighth, take time to do things together as a family. Make family outings and picnics and birthday celebrations and trips special times and memory builders. Whenever possible, attend, as a family, events where one of the family members is involved, such as a school play, a ball game, a talk, a recital. Attend church meetings together and sit together as a family when you can. Mothers who help families pray and play together will stay together and will bless children’s lives forever."


This one is easy....and hard.
It's tough to go out all together,
but I can't leave anyone behind.

Right now,
we have 2 little boys with tons of energy.
When they are together,
it is truly Mayhem and Destruction.
Really, they are just playing,
and so we do our best to keep up with them.

So here's the naked truth:
I only leave kids out when I am feeling lazy,
or it's not an environment conducive to small children.
I wouldn't take a toddler to a funeral,
but I admit that I did send Corbin and Cade on a sleepover instead of taking them to the school carnival.
I didn't feel like playing the 'lost and found' game all night.
I was tired.

If we go to Disneyland,
we go together.
Last night,
we all went to soccer practice together.
That was a little crazy,
(but it wasn't just my kids.
The entire field seemed to be amped-up.)

With our ages right now,
we do leave some behind for games.
Dan and I sometimes need to focus on the kids playing,
without the worry of our boys getting lost.
This is probably just rationalizing,
but for lots of games,
I am secretly appreciative of the fact that we have to split up.
Sydney and I take either Corbin or Cade.
I am sure that will change when our game times don't conflict anymore.

Anyway,
good reminders for me to be more conscious of doing things together as a family.
It is a challenge with little peeps,
no matter how many.
If I give more thought, preparation and effort,
I am positive we can find a way to have more fun when we are all together.

And to anyone who has ever visited a Mormon Church Meeting,
it's loud.
For the first hour,
we sit together as families.
This past Sunday was a mess for me.
I ended up in the hall with Cade who was the loudest of the bunch.
Maryn was really tired,
and my sister had her in the hall.
Corbin sat with Aunt Jenny one row up.
Everyone else was restless.
That hour couldn't have been any longer.

Like I said,
better preparation would probably bring amazing changes.

Colin, Caleb and Sydney....what can you think of to help with this?

Well,
it's Tuesday.
I wake up everyday thinking it's Friday.
:(

As for my 'mealtime' progress,
We successfully completed 2 days.

Oh, and incase you are wondering,
my gas dryer, dries a load of clothes in 15-20 minutes,
but I realize my daily limit lingers around 4 loads before I forget what I'm doing.
That's not quite enough right now.

Well, on to this day,
where we will
pray together,
read together,
eat together,
work together,
and spend quality time together as friends.


Today is the day.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lucky #7 for Monday

"Read Scriptures Daily. Seventh, take time daily to read the scriptures together as a family. Individual scripture reading is important, but family scripture reading is vital. Reading the Book of Mormon together as a family will especially bring increased spirituality into your home and will give both parents and children the power to resist temptation and to have the Holy Ghost as their constant companion. I promise you that the Book of Mormon will change the lives of your family."

The word that pops out is "vital".
I have been reading the Book of Mormon to my kids since Sydney was 4.
I read it once in 60 days with her by my side every night.
I read it with Colin and Caleb,
and we are nearly finished with Reagan.
By the time our last child is in her 8th year,
we will have read it 9 times together as a family,
One time for Dan and I,
and once for each of the kids.
It is my very favorite book,
and I love the special year with the kids when they are baptized.
Those years are just for them.

This year,
we are studying the Old Testament.
Yesterday, for the brief moment I was in Sunday School,
I heard something interesting to me.

The guy was talking about 'feasting'.
He also spoke about 'fasting'.
(That is what you do if you want to feel closer to God.)
In our church,
we do it once a month.
I have heard it is also healthy for cleansing our bodies.
The interesting thing about fasting is what happens when that 24 hours is over,
and we feel spiritually satisfied,
and physically weak.
We have to be careful what we eat right then.
Usually,
we are prepared for dinner on Fast Sunday,
because we want something good.
We like to have a little feast.
But if we aren't prepared,
we might eat whatever is available,
even if it's junk.
Well, the guy yesterday spoke of spiritual feasting the same way.
If we aren't careful,
we might be drawn towards things that aren't healthy for us.
The scriptures are meant as a feast,
and if we stay away from them,
we might look for strength in false places.
I was thinking about that,
and how much it made sense to me.
I try to stay close to the things that bring me the most strength.

Movies,
TV,
Self-help books,
Self-realization groups,
GNO,
shopping,
"Me Time",
aren't the things that make me happiest.
But sometimes,
I reach for those things because I feel empty.

I am always the most satisfied when I am keeping the commandments.
It's just tons more exhausting.

When I woke up this morning,
I wondered if we are too busy for what's really important.
I contemplated how to simplify our life here.
I considered all the things we feel are important.
Of course,
religion and family are highest on the list.
Education is up there.
Sports are up there.
It's been an amazing bonding experience this year.
The yard work is good,
because we work together,
but our housework feels to complicated.
Our work feels complicated sometimes too.
Our outside social network is smallish,
because we tend to spend lots of time with family and close friends.

So, in my head, I tried to simplify
(in list format, because I need lists)
  • Church,
  • Family Home Evening,
  • Scripture and Prayers,
  • Meals,
  • Homework,
  • Practice,
  • Chores,
  • Workouts (has become a family activity lately...really fun to do bootcamp in random combinations with Dan and the kids)
  • Personal hygiene (super important my sweaty little minions. We must keep our hair nice and our teeth sparkly. Maybe we could even take some vitamins. hint, hint)
  • Service
  • Play time (most of playtime happens at practice and games)
  • Date night (usually at the temple)
  • Social time (usually happens with sports, date night, church or service)

I guess my life is all about multi-tasking. Dan tells me all the time that we can work smarter and not harder. This morning, after my prayer in the silent, dark.....I believe him.



And one more thing....
To my little angel:
This year has been one of our best.
Happy Birthday.

And to the one who steals my thoughts,
and most of my time,
Happy Birthday.

I love you both.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Suggestions for moms cont....#6

"Be Together at Mealtimes. Sixth, take time to be together at mealtimes as often as possible.

This is a challenge as the children get older and lives get busier. But happy conversation, sharing of the day’s plans and activities, and special teaching moments occur at mealtime because mothers and fathers and children work at it."

Hey Dan....care to comment?

Meals are hard for me, because I don't care much for food.
Dan loves food.
We need food.
But of all 10 things on the list,
this might very well be my greatest challenge.
How do I turn this weakness into a strength?

Sydney, Colin, Caleb and Dan....what are your thoughts?

I am a firm believer that a successful dinner starts at breakfast.
I just wish I believed in breakfast.
You see my dilemma?
Possibly it's time to resurrect the crock pot.

So what I am getting from #6 is that meal time is not about food.
Like gardening is not about plants,
and tithing is not about money.

I will do my best to post my 'mealtime' progress.
Here is my plan.
Sit down to 3 meals a day.
(Seriously, that might do me in),
but I am always willing to experiment on a good concept.
Maybe it will actually stick for me.
My mom says my grandma always said it takes 2 weeks to start or break a habit.
I will give this 100% for the next 2 weeks,
because I love my grandma,
and she was pretty smart,
(even though she only had 4 girls),
and Dan and I like to imagine a life with 4 girls.
Actually,
the other night we only had 4 kids home.
It was quiet.

Well,
in 1.5 hours,
I need to be loaded and ready for 3 hours of church with 8 children.
I am not too proud to admit that thought frightens me.

This morning as Dan was getting ready to leave,
I put on my best poker face,
but really I was dying inside to know he was leaving.
It's not because the work is harder without him.
It's because I miss him when he's gone,
and it always feels so right when he is here.
Cade was upset to see his dad leave,
and I can only imagine how hard it must be for Dan to drive away from the tears of his little shadow.

This morning,
I had a little talk with the kids.
Today is Sunday.
It's a day of rest,
and I need some reprieve today.
No whining.
No crying.
No fighting.
Just some soft background music,
and lots of peace.

The kids must have understood,
because it's been rather quiet for a few minutes.
And when it's quiet,
the important feelings come lingering into my mind and heart.
I remember my purpose here,
and how grateful I feel to be so abundantly blessed.

This week of retrospecting has been good for me.
I need to fill my day with constant reminders.
It takes 10 times more good to combat 1 bad.
For me,
that's 10 x 8, and my day is full of distractions and disappointment.
For me, remaining 10 times more positive,
10 times happier,
10 times more uplifting,
10 times more patient,
is a challenge.

Well....
time is sneaking away again,
(as are Corbin and Cade)
so I would be best to get onItalic with my challenges
before this day gets away from me.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

#5

More on....."ten specific ways our mothers may spend effective time with their children."

"Have Weekly Home Evenings. Fifth, take time to have a meaningful weekly home evening. With your husband presiding, participate in a spiritual and an uplifting home evening each week. Have your children actively involved. Teach them correct principles. Make this one of your great family traditions.


Remember the marvelous promise made by President Joseph F. Smith when home evenings were first introduced to the Church:

“If the Saints obey this counsel,
we promise that great blessings will result.
Love at home and obedience to parents will increase.
Faith will be developed in the hearts of the youth of Israel,
and they will gain power to combat the evil influence
and temptations which beset them”
(in James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. [1965–75], 4:339).
This wonderful promise is still in effect today."

Family Home Evening is still a stretch at our house.
It really is Family Home Moment.
The amazing thing is that our kids always remember it,
and still want to have it.
We used to be very creative.
Lately,
it's more of a time to open the scriptures and absorb more than just the minimum.
Sometimes we watch a short meaningful video.
Some nights,
it really is only a moment,
that begins and ends with a prayer and song,
and it's nearly all any of us can handle after a long day.
Still, I honestly believe we benefit from our moments.
Family Home Evening is usually Monday nights for most LDS families.
It can't always be that way for us,
but we try to be consistent.
Really, how hard is it to set aside one night a week to be together?
And I wonder what we would lose if we didn't make it a priority.
We have had many lessons about
kindness,
courage,
faith,
unity.
I know that if we were not deliberate in our lessons,
I might never take the time to teach our kids some of the basics.
Family night isn't all about fun.
It's a night to learn,
hopefully while having fun.
Some of my favorite memories were the nights we gathered in Corbin's room and hid Colonel Mustard in plain sight.
And the children love Dan's clue games.
I loved the family nights when we read the Friend cover-to-cover on my bed until all the kids fell asleep one-by-one.
I believe in family night.....for everyone.
It's time to re-double my efforts to make sure it always happen.
Repetition builds faith and commitment.
And we will never regret any time we spent dedicated to our kids.
I imagine that someday we might regret the moments we neglected.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

#4

"Pray with Your Children. Fourth, take time to pray with your children. Family prayers, under the direction of the father, should be held morning and night. Have your children feel of your faith as you call down the blessings of heaven upon them.

Paraphrasing the words of James, “The … fervent prayer of a righteous [mother] availeth much” (James 5:16). Have your children participate in family and personal prayers, and rejoice in their sweet utterances to their Father in Heaven."

ahhh.....prayer time. It's a challenge with so many little peeps.
We have tried something new recently.
I heard someone suggest that a family could hold hands during family prayer.
That was interesting.
Most of the kids had to practically be forced to put their hands in.
One refused.
Some wiggled.
Others just couldn't handle it.

Really guys....how hard is it to put your hand in the family pile for a 30 second prayer?
We need work.
It was a pretty good indication of how the temp is reading around here.
Hugs, kisses, hand-holding....all very important.
So we are beginning with prayer,
and hoping that eventually
we can all be in the same room together,
sit on the same couch together,
ride in the same car together,
function as a team together.

In my opinion,
it's a very humbling act to kneel with each other.
Hard feelings can't exist.
Good dads really can set amazing examples to their wives and children by making prayer a priority.
Some dads aren't the praying type.
Some moms aren't.
Kids can't learn if they aren't taught.

In my experience,
anything worthwhile takes tremendous effort.



Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Lesson #3

Continued again from my favorite parenting manual:

"Read to Your Children. Third, mothers, take time to read to your children. Starting from the cradle, read to your sons and daughters. Remember what the poet said:

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be—
I had a mother who read to me.
(Strickland Gillilan, “The Reading Mother.”)

You will plant a love for good literature and a real love for the scriptures if you will read to your children regularly."


Last night,
after a long day of running here and there,
I had only a few minutes to get my little boys to sleep before I needed to pick up a few kids somewhere else.
I thought about lesson #3,
and remembered the countless hours I spent reading to our older kids.
Dan has always read to them,
but I dropped off the radar a little.
Our first five can now read to themselves,
but the babies,
they still need my time.....
not just Dan's,
but mine too.

It's humbling for me to consider how many different ways my energy is spent.

I remembered having 4 little children...once upon a time ago.
Sydney was 4.
Reagan was new.
Colin and Caleb were so small.
We played at the park most days,
sat down for dinner with Dan,
and read books before bed.
I didn't work then.
We didn't have homework or sports.
I remember thinking I was busy.
I remember feeling happy.
Back then, I probably was not appreciating my time as much as I could have been.

What's wrong with me that I forget to enjoy every minute of every day?
I feel so ungrateful at times.
I share this world with the love of my life.
We are surrounded by the most amazing kids,
and they love us.
We have friends and family,
a home,
cars,
work,
religion,
health.
Should anything else matter?

As for reading and it's importance,
I was happy to again be reminded of my responsibilities in this area.
Last year I wrote a post about my thoughts on reading.
It's here.

Today is meant to enjoyed....not just endured, so......Happy Wednesday. Today is the day.