Tuesday, March 30, 2010

love 'em all

I just spent a long weekend with my brothers and sisters (which counts in-laws since I don't really think of them that way anymore). It started about 7:00 pm Thursday night when a bunch of us piled into trucks and headed to St. George. We laughed and talked and told funny stories the entire way. Really, there wasn't a moment of silence. At 3:00 am we were still laughing our way down the aisles of the grocery store to buy Friday morning breakfast. Especially when Kelsey chucked a ball over the aisle and hit Matt. (And you can bet he threw it back. They can be naughty like that.)

The rest of the time? We woke up each morning and worked our buns off til dark. Then we'd all pile up on the couches to watch The Deadliest Catch and eat ice cream until the wee hours of the morning. We were doing a really yucky and hard job, but I hardly noticed (okay, so I noticed). But they all made it so much fun.

The past few days I've been thinking a lot about them. As Kate would say, my family rocks.

Last night, we got together in the dark to finish off our dirty job. But this time we brought all of our kids.

They rock too.

I really love my family.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

to my knees

Yesterday was a crazy, busy day. Like normal. We were at home mostly, but I had lots of things to do, which after all was said and done, I didn't get accomplished anyway. One of those days where my list seemed to get longer instead of the other way around.

That said, when afternoon came, we brought the older girls home to a mess. (I was one of them.) One of the school girls arrived, as she often does, a little at odds with the world. A bit cross with everyone and everything. It doesn't make for a very happy welcome home. Instead of being calm and available, I wasn't. I didn't have time for her grumpiness. Looking back, I never once stopped. Talked. Loved. Hugged. Welcomed. Sure, I had a snack ready. I asked all the right questions ('How did your day go?'), but when no one was quite ready to spill the beans, I went on. In my mind, I moved to the next task.

After yet another grouchy confrontation between she and another of the girls, I'd had enough. After all, I had other things to think about, and this was taking energy I wasn't willing to share. That's what it really came down to. I put my foot down, laid the blame, and dragged two girls to time out. I went back to the task at hand in a huff.

And then came the lesson. (Although I didn't fully see it til I lay alone in bed last night, mulling through my day.) When I went to remove culprit #1 from time out, I found her on her bed, tearfully writing a note to me. She looked up, crumpled up the paper, and said something like this: "Mom, I just wanted you to know that I've had a really bad headache all day. And now I come home and everyone is so mean to me. And it sees like it's this way everyday. I am at school all day, and then I finally get to come home. But after I get home, I just want to go back to school."

I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach.

On one hand, this girl of mine has a flair for the dramatic, and I know this doesn't happen every day. (Some days I am actually nice.) But it happens enough. More than enough. And bottom line is, it shouldn't.

Last night I lay in bed feeling humble to the core. (I've heard it said that if you say you feel humble, you really aren't. But I was! I felt as low as could be.) And although I'd defended myself to her, letting her know that she played a role in the whole affair with all of her grouchiness (and boy, did that help me feel better!), I knew she was right. I should know better. I should remember how hard school had been. The stress of friends. Trying to fit in. Wanting to meet expectations. Feeling desperate to excel, but not always understanding how. It all made for some hard days. Some 'really bad headaches'.

This morning, I was reading in the Book of Mormon in the book of Enos. Enos was talking in a different context, writing about the unwillingness of the people to hear the word of God. But when I read his words, I heard me. At home. And the familiarity of it made me sick.

"And there was nothing save it was exceeding harshness, preaching. . .and contentions, and destructions, and continually reminding them (v. 23)." While I knew Enos was speaking of a completely different situation, his words took on a new meaning to me. They sounded like me.

A few verses later, Enos writes a beautiful description of his impending death. "And I soon go to the place of my rest, which is with my Redeemer; for I know that in him I shall rest. . .then I shall see his face with pleasure, and he will say unto me, Come unto me, ye blessed. . ." As soon as I read those words, I knew what I wanted to become. I want to offer that rest. I want that the Savior to be a part of me. After a long hard day, I want my girls to know that no matter what they encounter in their world,

There's no place like home.

I wasn't going to post about this, you see. It felt too personal. But in the end, I had to.

Someday girls, I want you to know.

I am trying. I want, more than anything, for our home to be a place of refuge. A place of rest. I want you to see my face 'with pleasure'. And I am going to try to be more available. For a while now, I've known I could do better with this, but I wasn't ready to make the changes. Today? I'm ready. And while I know I'll never be perfect, I'd like to be. I'd like to offer you a perfect me.

Unfortunately, we both know that's not going to happen.

But someday, I think you'll understand. That, after all, is why I'm writing this down. Because someday you'll have all of this. Hopefully, when those hard days come (and they will, I'm afraid!) you'll pick up our books. I hope you'll laugh a little, cry a bit, and hopefully, remember that we weren't all that bad.

But you know what? I want you to remember that we had our bad days. I think it's important for you to know that you're normal. You're just learning. And what ever situation you find yourself in, there are days that you are going to feel sad. Unworthy. Some days will bring you to your knees.

You know what I'm finding? That's the best place to be.

Friday, March 19, 2010

just another day in paradise

This morning has been lovely.

We whisked the girls off to school. Only a few tears, and they were forgotten by the time we said our goodbyes. Even better, we made it before the last bell.

After arriving home, Claire and Emmy climbed into the tub for some fun. They had a great time.

And then Claire pooped.

A lot.

And then Emmy screamed, "If Claire poops in the tub one more time, I'm NEVER getting in the tub again!"

Then, the two of them gathered around to watch me make a delicate attempt at scooping Claire's little gifts out of the tub so I could disinfect it.

On the bright side, the tub needed a good cleaning, anyhow.

Sometimes, in the middle of a task such as this, I find myself laughing. In all those visions I had of myself as a mother, I somehow never pictured this.

And besides, the day can only look up from here, right? Just making lemonade out of lemons, I am.

Except, you'll have to excuse me please.

Buddy just peed on the carpet.

our gift

"Near the end of his life, one father looked back on how he had spent his time on earth. An acclaimed, respected author of several scholarly works, he said, 'I wish I had written one less book and taken my children fishing more often.' "Time passes quickly. Many parents say that it seems like yesterday that their children were born. Now those children are grown, perhaps with children of their own. 'Where did the years go?' they ask. We cannot call back time that is past, we cannot stop time that now is, and we cannot experience the future in our present state. Time is a gift, a treasure not to be put aside for the future, but to be used wisely in the present."

Thomas S. Monson, "Dedication Day," Ensign, Nov. 2000, 66

Thursday, March 18, 2010

falling short

I found the following pictures on the evening of our somewhat disappointing St. Patricks Day.

Compared to her last visit, it seems the leprechaun wasn't quite so fun this year. When we poured the milk, it wasn't an acceptable shade of green. In fact, Dads milk was almost entirely white. "What?" I suggested that the leprechaun was possibly just a bit afraid of Daddy, therefore leaving his glass alone.

That went over like a ton of bricks.

To top it off, the bread, which was sooo festive last year, went untouched. The waffles were also unfortunately pale in color.

And for dinner? Papa Murphy's didn't quite pull off the shamrock pizza I had envisioned. (And, I tell you, it took quite a bit of convincing to make it happen in the first place.) Unfortunately, after we cooked the poor thing, it just plain looked like we got ripped off.

That leprechaun. Someone should get after her. (Crazy me, but I'm just wondering if she had a busy day. You know, doing frivolous things such as carpooling, feeding, and basically keeping her posterity afloat.)

So anyway (excuse me while I take a deep breath), when I uploaded these pictures of our recent Valentine's Day celebration, I was once again reminded of the dismal state of yet another holiday.

Turns out, Cupid wasn't so great either. She did much better last year.

The breakfast meal fell short of charming. The decorations seemed far too. . . undecorated. In fact, in a desperate attempt to save the day, I may or may not have made the girls close their eyes while I quickly hung some hearts on their doors. There. . ."surprise! Ta Da!" (It wasn't quite the same.) Oh, and the traditional update to their Valentines Day books? Replaced by a hurried love note.

All in all, Miss Cupid fell far short of the girl's expectations.

There was only one thing to do. Considering the extreme state of holiday disaster we had found ourselves in, the girls decided they had better take things into their own hands. Armed with paper, markers, and ribbon, they headed to the playhouse.

If we were lucky, we'd get invited.

Turns out, they took pity on us.

Mom and Dad, in all our pathetic holiday unsplendor, were invited to the playhouse for tea.

It turned out nicely. But here's what I'm thinking . . .

I'm thinking Mr. Easter Bunny better get his game on.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

too cute

Emmy was getting dressed for preschool this morning. She was wearing a dress. Emmy loves dresses.

Even when she wears them over jeans.

She picked out a cute headband. And asked me to curl her hair.

Then she wore her "high-heel" sandals. I think you would agree that the words "high heels" and "sandals" all in one sentence would make any five year old happy. Especially in March.

This morning, Emmy was pleased with life.

As she finished fastening her sandals, she observed,

"I've never gotten this cute before."

Ahhh, we all need a day like that every now and then, don't we?

my choice

I'm a mother. A mom. It's what I do. Who I am.

For a while, I was a little bit confused.

You see, I've been a mom full-time now for going on 10 years.

I've enjoyed it. Laughed, cried, despaired, and learned. (How could I not?) But still. I haven't had a lot of other options. And more importantly, we've been blessed as family in a way that I haven't had to find other options.

You might say I have settled into life as a stay-at-home mom. It just kind of happened that way.

But a few months ago, Courtney and I had this idea.

We have spent a lot of time tossing this idea around. Here and there. . .everywhere. In fact, it became a little consuming.

And then, our idea turned into an opportunity.

An opportunity for me. To learn. To develop some talents. To use my inherent creativity for things outside my little nest. It felt like a chance to really accomplish something. Why not? I reasoned. Emmy's almost in school. It's time I made something of myself.

I admit, it was pretty exciting.

Oh, the time I've spent thinking. Praying. Pondering. Planning. Researching. Dreaming. Agonizing.

But the answers never came.

I never felt at peace. Like I said, I did feel excited. But there was something else. I felt breathless.

I think the breathless part was the problem. Because the more I prayed and planned and figured, the more breathless I became. This has been going on for months. Have you ever felt breathless for months? It gets to be a little unsettling. For a while, I wondered if this meant that it was the right thing to do. But the other part of me (the part that I didn't want to listen to) was telling me that it was too much. Too much of something that was fun, yes, but that would take away from what was really important to me. I think it was telling me that instead of researching the possibilities, I should be studying me.

Finally, I sat down. I wrote a list.

I titled it, "Things That Really Matter To Me." (I inserted the 'really' part when after only a few minutes, I came to the conclusion that while there are a lot of things that matter to me, only a handful of those things really matter.) I also required myself to think long term. Not only about things that were most important to me now, but about the things that would matter to me when this life was over. I only wrote down the things that qualified on both accounts.

My list includes a mere 6 items. And almost every single one includes Courtney and the girls.

It made my decision much easier.

It's funny how a little list like this changed my focus. The thoughts that had only recently been all consuming now took a back seat. What had seemed so imminently important now suddenly moved to a "someday".

Why? Because this list helped me to realize that what is really important to me will take my time. It will take my focus. My talents. My creativity.

My list requires all of me.

Long ago, before I went to college, was married, or had children, I thought a lot about the profession I would enter. Later, as a social work major, I thought of exciting possibilities, such of being a writer for National Geographic, working with the homeless, and getting my masters degree in Chicago. Even still, the thought of these adventures make me feel excited. . . inspired. . .


Maybe someday. Twenty years from now, my days will be different. My calender will change. My "to-do" list will take on a new direction, new possibilities.

But for today I only have a little window. A short stretch of time filled with little feet, messy rooms, and dirty laundry. An all too fleeting moment of giggly silliness, endless hugs and kisses, and teaching moments. I want to delight in this. To delight in them. With all that I have.

For one day, at the end of my life I am going to review my list. The one titled, Things That Really Matter To Me. And regardless of the outcome, I will know that one day in March, the year 2010, I made a decision.

I chose to be a mother.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

emmy's best day

Last week Emmy was in heaven.

You see, Emmy judges her days by the number of "fun things" she fills them with. Often, she resolves to tears because her allotted number of fun things doesn't measure up to her expectations. I often hear her lament, "What! Only one fun thing? Ryenne and Kate have three fun things today! And I only have one!" (The girls have school everyday, which in Emmy's eyes always counts for an automatic one fun thing. Throw in ballet, gymnastics, and piano, they often outweigh her in the fun thing count.)

Funny thing about it? Ryenne would happily give up any or all of her fun things to be able to be home. To my oldest girl, there is something magical about a day at home with absolutely zero fun things on the schedule.

On the other hand, for Emmy, a day at home with nothing but me spells disaster. Because of this, she has developed a back-up plan for boring days. When her days are not calendered to her expectations, she takes it upon herself to make her own appointments. I often find her on the phone (she has a pretty good list of telephone numbers memorized) in an effort to increase her fun thing tally for the day.

She's good, that one.

But this week? It was much better than normal.

Monday's are usually Emmy's toughest. No fun things on the schedule. However, this Monday started off on a positive note for her when Kate convinced me she was much too sick to go to school. Surprisingly enough, she soon made a miraculous recovery. Bad for Kate: she has cried wolf one too many times. Good for Emmy: someone to play with after all. Her one fun thing lasted all day.

On Tuesday, Emmy got up and got ready for preschool. One fun thing.

Directly following preschool, she was able to go to Britney's house for the afternoon. Britney is much, much more fun than mom. And Britney has a baby. Two fun things. And to top it all off, she told me that Britney had a friend over who brought her baby. Emmy bubbled with excitement as she told me how she was "surrounded by babies". She couldn't have been more thrilled when they had a picnic in the backyard (I told you Britney was more fun). And learned to read a few more words: this, that, and then.

I picked her up from her fun adventure and we drove to pick up the girls from the bus. Sisters are home! On the way home from the bus, we stopped off at the bookmobile where she was able to check out not one, but two new books. Three fun things.

On the way home from the bookmobile, Emmy sat in the back of the car and sang herself a new song. "This is my best day. This is my best day. This is my best day." I smiled inside.

Emmy does that to me.

On Wednesday, she had preschool. She normally goes to music class on Wednesdays, bringing her Wednesday tally to two fun things. Except this Wednesday, Claire was sick, causing us to skip music classes. Of course, Emmy was devastated. However, she quickly referred to her afore mentioned back-up plan: She called Aunt Andrea and invited herself over. There is always fun to be had at Andrea's house. Two fun things after all.

Thursday brought an early morning visit to Grandma C's house, because Mom had to take Buddy to show-and-tell at Kate's class. Fun thing, number 1. Then off to preschool. Fun thing, number 2. Not even 9:30 am, and already more fun things than normal. To top it off, friend Crystal's mom called and asked if she could come play after preschool. Three fun things.

Friday was an exceptionally bumper day. To start it off, friends Wyatt and Jace arrived to play for a bit while their Mom headed off to the doctor with their new twin sisters. Two fun things arrived at the doorstep at one time! Within five minutes of their leaving, Crystal arrived to play for a few hours while her mom helped at the school. Three fun things, (and it keeps getting better). Shortly after Crystal left for home, best pal cousin Halle arrived for their weekly playtime-followed-by-ballet date. Five fun things? Could it be possible? If you can believe it, yes! Ballet was followed by Buddy's dog class and ice cream at Charlies.

Seven fun things in one day may be the record so far.

And as for this week?

I'm afraid it's going to be a little bit like that let down people feel in January after the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Except, instead of depression, it may involve weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.

Heaven help us both.

the big tease

That's what March is.

Sunshine and blue sky one minute, rain the next. Or, if March is really in one of it's moods, you may even get a few snowflakes.


I know March is only trying to have a bit of fun before the serious sunshine sets in.

It's just that right now I could use a little consistency in my life. The sun-shiney kind.

Maybe I need to buy that ticket to Hawaii, after all.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

when no one else is watching

I saw this the other morning on my friend's blog.


She couldn't have known how I needed it that morning. But I think Heavenly Father did. It's funny how that works, isn't it?

Have a good day.