Sunday, May 29, 2011

spring cleaning

It's the end of May.  Last weekend we attended Ryenne and Emmy's dance recital and a gymnastics meet for Kate.  The peas are growing and the rest of the garden is waiting to be planted.  The girls and I are anxiously awaiting a free evening that we can go pick out flowers together.  Sadly, I don't know when that will happen.  Baby boy is growing and continually reminds me of his presence (lest I forget him amidst the chaos), and I love it.  With only a few days of school to go, our schedule is full of field trips and school programs.  We are all feeling the itch to be free.

I can't wait 'til summer.

I guess I'm just a little weary of the routine, the structure, and the always-too-full calender.  I'm ready for days of our choosing.  Afternoons of bike riding and exploring in the backyard.  Popsicles and swim-suited little girls.

I'm ready for my kids to be kids again.

I feel this way every May, but this year our busy-ness seems to be running especially thin.  In fact, the other day as I sat packed into a gym watching a gymnastics meet with hundreds of other parents, I had to wonder what we were doing.  Here we all were, watching our seventy-five-plus daughters compete against one another.  For the most part, they are all fairly close in ability.  When I thought about the thousands of dollars and even more hours our families spend in this pursuit, I pondered the reason behind it all.  What is our goal?  I feel really lucky, in that Kate's coach is very cautious of family/kid time- therefore, Kate only (only!) spends six hours a week in the gym, compared to the sixteen hours many of the other teams spend.  Even still, six hours is a lot of time.  A lot of time spent away from home.  But it's just not gymnastics. . .

As I ran through our weekly calender in my mind, this is what I added up:
Monday:  Emmy, piano (1 1/2 hour)
Tuesday: Kate, gymnastics:  (3 hours)
                Emmy, ballet (1 hour + 1/2 hour drive each way)
Wednesday:  Ryenne, ballet (1 hour + 1/2 hour drive each way)
                      Kate, piano (1 1/2 hour)
Thursday:  Kate, gymnastics  (3 hours)

This doesn't count achievement day activities for church, meetings, homework, and time spent practicing piano (or feeling like we should be).  It also leaves out driving time for gymnastics and ballet, which adds 30 minutes or so, at least.  Or the combined sixty plus minutes I spend driving the girls to school in the morning, picking up Emmy from kindergarten, and then making sure I'm back to get the big girls at the end of school.  This also means that from the time I go get the girls from school, we are rushing, running, and coordinating carpools so everyone can make it where they need to be at any given time.  It explains why I never feel like I spend time doing fun time with the little girls because somewhere in the day I have to make time to do laundry, make meals, pay the bills, go grocery shopping, and keep the house in some kind of order.  When I look at the schedule we have created for ourselves, I can better understand why every time the girls (big and little) want to go to the park or on a bike ride, we can't seem to find the time to make it work.

Does anyone else feel this way?

Like I said, I ran all this through our mind and wondered what we are doing with our lives.  I don't think I'm alone, because as I talk to almost every other parent with school aged children, they all seem to be feeling the same thing.  I feel like I try to be careful at what we commit ourselves and the girls too.  We've tried to keep it simple, waiting until they are five to add activities (because really, I have no idea when I would fit dance lessons in for Claire!), and allowing only one sport and one music (the sporty activity because the girls love it, and the music because I do!)  However, with three girls (plus Claire who does music classes too) this "keeping it simple" suddenly seems not very simple. 

I remember those days before the girls were away from home and off to school all day.  The days before homework, piano, and running to and fro.  I realize our lives cannot stay that way forever, and that the girls wouldn't be happy if I kept them only to myself.  But I do wonder? 

Are we leaving any time for "keeping them to myself"?

Last night I was discussing this very thing with my wise sisters-in-law, when one of them said something that really struck me.  It was a comment she had read recently a quote which said something to the effect that we will know our children as adults for a long time, but we only have a short time to know them as children.  With both Ryenne and I struggling with the realization that she is beginning to be leaving her childhood years behind, this gave me a lot to think about. 

I want to do it right, but I'm not sure we are.

That said, we've (Courtney and I) spent a lot of time this past week pondering, reassessing, and discussing with the girls.  What matters the most to our family?  What do we do well?  (Which, by the way- the best answer the girls could come up with to this was "We eat really good.")  What can we improve?  When we talked about those things we wish we had more time to do as a family, there were several items on the list.  To make each one of these activities happen (and remain sane), we realize we need to cut a few things out.  We decided to spend the next few months making this a matter of prayer.  Basically, we need to simplify.

So.  I excitedly head into summer with very few calendered events.  No lessons.  No school.  No carpooling.  I'm hoping this much-needed break gives us all a little bit of time to rethink the way we want to live as a family.  While some days it feels as if this stage of "little people" will never end, I'm quickly realizing it's going to be gone before I know it.  Probably before I'm ready.  The one thing I am sure of is that I don't want to look back wishing I'd done it differently.  Knowing that I'd wanted to slow down and get off the treadmill of "we have to do it all", but I didn't dare- and then end up feeling like in doing it all, we really didn't do anything.  Anything that really mattered to us, anyway.  I think it's impossible to mother without regret (for an imperfect gal like me, anyway).  What I really want, though, is to know I mothered in a way that felt right to me.  I want to listen to my heart, and to be true to what it's telling me.

Right now it's telling me to slow down.  And you know what?  I'm hope I'm brave enough to listen.

Just as I am every May, I'm looking forward to summer.  I can't wait to have all of my little chicks back in my nest.  I'm excited to see them running through the fields, exploring.  We'll still spend a few days at the farm.  Lambs will need to be walked.  Hopefully we'll work on a few projects together (a few blue things for little brother, I hope!)  And I, of course, have a few slave-working ideas in mind.    But most of all?  All of those things the girls always want to do, but we never have enough time?  That's what I want on my calender.

As our family prepares to make a few changes in our schedule come next fall,  I will be reading and re-reading this talk, by Elder Uchtdorf, in which he counsels,
"My dear brothers and sisters, we would do well to slow down a little, proceed at the optimum speed for our circumstances, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most. Let us be mindful of the foundational precepts our Heavenly Father has given to His children that will establish the basis of a rich and fruitful mortal life with promises of eternal happiness. They will teach us to do “all these things … in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that [we] should run faster than [we have] strength. [But] it is expedient that [we] should be diligent, [and] thereby … win the prize.”

This summer I hope to do just that.  Lift up my eyes, and truly see the things that matter the most.  To focus on the significant.
I want to get to know my little girls again.

While they still are. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

thumper becomes a statistic

Well, maybe I jinxed Thumper by introducing him to our family history.

The poor little guy died this weekend.

I was up early Saturday morning to mow the lawn.  As I walked by his cage, I remember seeing him sprawled out and thinking something didn't look quite right.  Not being any sort of an expert of bunnies however, and considering I was on a mission to conquer my lawn, I gave it a quick thought and that's just about as far as it went.

Turns out something wasn't right.  Not right at all.  As you can imagine, Ryenne was devastated.  Not only was she heartbroken at the loss of her new little friend, she was upset at herself and thought it was maybe her fault somehow.  This brought on a lesson by her dad about how sometimes, no matter what we do, animals get sick.  Even Grandma and Grandpa, who care so well for their sheep, still lose some of them to no fault of their own.  This was confirmed yesterday at Sunday dinner by Grandma, who informed us that they figure on about a ten percent mortality rate each year for their fluffy little herd. 

Ten percent!  That's not good odds, it seems to me.  But, after all - I guess Mother Nature must run her course. 

Yesterday afternoon Ryenne and her daddy dug a grave and held a short, but meaningful graveside service.  No one else was allowed to attend, so I'm going strictly off heresay, but I am told that Courtney gave a few remarks on account that Ryenne thought it was "a little embarrassing". 

And tonight Courtney comforted her with the suggestion that maybe next go-round, she could get a lucky rabbit's foot instead.  Hang it on her backpack, perhaps?  Or maybe a stuffed animal.  This way she could even bring it inside.  Invite it to sleepovers, even.  The possibilities are endless I suppose.

Except for Thumper, that is. . .and all because of that darn ol' ten percent rule.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

ryenne's birthday, a month later

Ryenne turned eleven!  Once again, I'm afraid time is going far too quickly for my liking.  I keep threatening to put these girls in a jar to stunt their growth.  Ryenne, who is in no hurry to grow up tells me that would be okay, but Kate- ever the practical one, reminds me that it wouldn't really be possible. 

We started off Ryenne's big day with a birthday donut and candles, as per family tradition. 

For months, Ryenne had been asking if she could have a bunny.  A real one.   Her dad and I immediately nixed this idea.  Really, who needs another pet?

 "I do!" came her reply.  She contended that Buddy isn't just her pet, and she wanted one of her very own.  A bunny, to be exact.  One night, while Courtney and I were on a hot date, she called to ask us to "just think about it" (which is code word for "please talk it over and say yes or I'll keep hounding you 'til you do".)  We told her we would talk it over.  In approximately fifteen minutes, she called back.  I'm sure you can guess why.  We told her that we had indeed talked it over and here's what we decided:  No.  Courtney explained that he was afraid it would be one of those things that seemed very exciting at first and then wore off once the excitement faded away.  She immediately countered back, "Well, how can I show you I'm responsible when you won't give me a chance?"

To his credit, he concurred.  "You've got me there."

So this is what they came up with.  She would take care of Buddy all by herself for one month.  If she did it willingly and consistently, then maybe she could have a bunny for her birthday, which she continued to tell us was the only thing she wanted.  In addition, she would buy all the supplies herself, the food, cage. . .the whole nine yards.


Well, much to our chagrin, she took care of Buddy with gusto.  No complaints, responsible all the way.  As you might imagine, in between feeding and brushing the dog, she spent more than a few spare minutes on KSL, looking at bunnies.  She quickly found the perfect one, a tiny dwarf bunny which was selling for a mere $20.00.  She begged her Dad to buy it, imploring, "If you don't get it, it might be gone!"

A deals a deal, he argued.  One month of doggy-sitting before a bunny.

Soon, the bunny was for sale for only $10.00.  She amped up her begging, insisting that if we didn't move, her little friend would be snatched up by someone else.  Or, maybe the price would increase! 

Nope.  Again came her dad's reply, "A deals a deal".  Besides, he explained, there isn't bound to be a shortage on rabbits any time soon (something about bunnies being quite happy in their quest to multiply and replenish the earth).

So you can bet her Dad wasn't anywhere near home the day that she discovered her bunny had indeed been sold.  Awesome.  He's safely away  in Moab and I'm left to deal with the drama of the year (I've decided he has a sixth sense for predicting and therefore missing those moments).

Turns out we didn't think about one little minor detail in our bunny deal.  It was Easter time.  Seems that is actually quite a hot time for bunnies.  Especially little, teensy weensy baby bunnies that will look so cute and cuddly in an Easter basket.

When it came time for her big day, we kept our part of the bargain.  After a little bit of searching, we happened upon another bunny.  A dwarf, to be exact.  Not white, because I learned from her (after I had one all set to pick up, of course) that the white ones often have red eyes, which "freak her out". 

Meet Thumper, the latest and greatest addition to our family.

 Following her happy meeting of her new little pet, Courtney and I took her for a night out to the Olive Garden.  Later, we celebrated with some cake and ice cream and a sleepover with the ten-year-old Croney cousins.  A successful birthday, after all. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

emmy. . .our weathergirl

I was thinking the other day about Emmy.  I decided that the best way to describe her is "mostly sunny with a slight chance of thunderstorms".  That's because our Emmy is happy most all the time.  By happy, I mean haaaapy.  I don't know if anyone does happy the way Emmy does.  She gets this light in her eyes that is so alive.  The way her eyebrows raise when she smiles, her dimple. . .there's just something electric about a happy Emmy.

The slight chance of thunderstorms?  Watch out!  When the storm hits, it hits with a vengeance.  But again, it doesn't happen all that often, so we can hunker down and weather it out.  Pretty soon, we know sunshine is on the way. 

That's my Emmy.

The latest on this girl. . .She is Claire's best teacher.  Claire is so, so happy when it's time to pick up Emmy from school.  When the two are together, I know what role they will each take on.  Emmy will be the teacher, Claire the student.  This isn't always a good set-up, as Emmy has very high expectations and Claire. . .well, she's two years old.  The other day, Emmy was adamant about teaching Claire to read.  When she started getting frustrated at the rate of progress, I suggested that perhaps Claire was a might young for reading.  Maybe it would be better to scale back a bit?  Start with the alphabet, for instance?  Emmy looked at me with that trademark look of determination, hands on her hips, and exhaled, "Well, she's gotta learn to read sometime!"

No time like the present, that's Emmy's motto for life.  (Meaning that patience is something we continue to work on.)_

This week is Emmy's last full official week of kindergarten.  Next week she is off while the teachers do kindergarten assessments- her sisters still have to go to school.  When I explained this little vacation to her, she grinned and exclaimed, "I love kindergarten!"

Yesterday during dinner we were having the "What did you learn at church today?" discussion.  Emmy told us how she learned about prayer and then told us a lengthy story about a little boy who learned that sometimes Heavenly Father answers our prayers the way we would like and sometimes He lets us solve our own problems.  For example, He answered this little boys prayer about finding a lost toy, but didn't give in when the little boy prayed that he could eat ice cream for dinner instead of "mushy broccoli casserole".    We spent a few minutes discussing prayer as a family.  Later, Emmy wanted me to let her drag a mattress into Kate's room so the two could sleep together.  I wasn't going to allow it (we don't typically do "sleepovers" on school nights as it usually turns into a late-night giggle fest).  However, after she asked me, I saw her enter her room and hunch over her bed in prayer.  I knew that she was praying that I would let her have her wish, and my mother heart wouldn't let me say no.  I loved that I was able to witness that simple show of faith.

Emmy's still in ballet and loves it.  (She often hold ballet and tap lessons for Claire, too.)  She values looking "just right" and is very picky about her clothes and hair.  She's becoming a great reader and enjoys piano lessons, but practicing?  Not so much.  Yesterday, after a week of not practicing, she got out her book and decided that she was going to master her two songs in one sitting.  Let me tell you. . .I uncharacteristically showed an enormous amount of patience in her endeavor.  Because her teacher (Aunt Nan) lets her record practicing for each time they play the song (although ideally, it is daily practice instead of a once-a-week cram session), Emmy now has a practice sheet filled with twenty circles (she makes circles instead of check marks).  All in one day. 

As with all my girls, I'm so in love with Emmy.  I already dread next year, when I won't have her home for the afternoons.  And Claire?  I'm afraid she'll be beside herself, albeit with a little more time on her hands without all of her "lessons". 

Better go. . .I'm listening to Emmy lay down the law to Claire about her afternoon schedule.  Seems we have a full schedule of schoolwork- the ABC's are on the docket today.  So much so that "we may not have time for recess today", she says.  Heaven help Claire.  I'm hoping to divert my little school marm with a field trip to the nursery and a garden planting excursion.  Sounds educational enough, doesn't it?

Emmy Summer.  When we named her, we couldn't have known how appropriate that name was for her.  She is our little ray of sunshine, filling our days with happiness and an occasional cloudburst.  She has a zest for life that is unique to her, and makes her quite irresistible (in my humble opinion, anyway).

 Mostly sunny with an every-so-often thunder burst.  That's our Emmy, and I wouldn't have her any other way.

Monday, May 9, 2011

one day at a time

This weekend has given me a few opportunities to think about myself and motherhood.  I don't think I am alone when I say that Mother's Day sometimes makes me think more about my imperfections and inadequacies than it does in making me feel like a saint.  I know myself too well, I suppose.  Thankfully, my emotions over the weekend graduated from discouragement as I focused on my short-comings, to hope as I re-evaluated what I can do to become a better wife and mom throughout this next year. 

This morning I awoke with a fresh start.  A new day, a new week, a new year as a mother.  I decided that somehow I need to shorten my focus and concentrate on the day at hand.  I can seek the Lord's help each morning, each moment as I strive to be the mother I hope to become. 

All too often I look far ahead, wondering how I can possibly teach all that I wish to pass on.  I get discouraged when I try to carve out endless to-do lists for our future, feeling hopeless to accomplish it all.  I see what I wish us to become and feel that I should be doing more.  I fear we should be becoming more, more quickly.

All of this planning, fretting, and looking ahead can sometimes leave me weary.

What if I focused on this day?  This moment?  If I try to be patient this one time?  If I pause to relish in the laughter that fills my home today, instead of gearing up for fun memories we might make next month?  Perhaps I might try to make my home a refuge now, instead of fearing and bracing for the storms that may (or may not) come at some future date.  

Early this morning, long before the girls awoke, I set out to begin my day.  As I checked my email, I found a note from a dear friend, along with an attached text of a talk she had heard yesterday in sacrament meeting.  I was inspired.  I hesitate to include this, as I don't even know the sister who gave this talk, but I have thought of this over and over all day long.  Her words changed how I approached my day.  I could more easily see how my future, actually my spirit, is shaped by many seemingly insignificant moments that occur on a daily basis.   I thought this was beautiful:
It didn’t come as naturally in the beginning, but little by little I began conquering all that I had before me. If there was a reason for me to be offended, I took no offense. If there was a reason for me to be angry, I responded with a soft heart full of love and compassion (Matt 5:21-22). If there was a reason for me to be impatient, I remained still and calm. If there was a reason for me to blame, I forgave with no conditions (1 Ne 7:21). If there was a reason to feel hopeless about my future, I trusted that the Lord’s Plan of Salvation was for my greater good and that adversity was part of that beautiful plan (2 Ne 4:16-19). If there was a reason to feel insecure about who I was or what was happening to me, I believed that it was my divine right to be full of confidence as a daughter of God. If there was a reason to judge, I prayed for another’s weaknesses. And if there was a reason to feel sorry for myself & my circumstances, instead I actually felt grateful for the privilege of learning from this mortal experience, no matter how grim my life seemed.
Tonight as I spoke with Courtney, he told me of a talk he had listened to today that he thought I might like.  Later, I read through the talk and knew he was inspired in his recommendation.  The talk, given by Elder Todd Christofferson at a recent CES fireside, is titled "Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread".  Although it was directed to young adults, I felt it spoke volumes to me about my daily responsibilites as a mother. 

Thoughtful planning and preparation are key to a rewarding future, but we do not live in the future—we live in the present. It is day by day that we work out our plans for the future; it is day by day that we achieve our goals. It is one day at a time that we raise and nurture our families. It is one day at a time that we overcome imperfections. We endure in faith to the end one day at a time. It is the accumulation of many days well-lived that adds up to a full life and a saintly person. And so I would like to talk to you about living well day by day.
Later on, Elder Christofferson explains
I would like to quote to you the words of President N. Eldon Tanner, formerly a counselor in the First Presidency: “As we reflect on the value of resolving to do better, let us determine to discipline ourselves to carefully select the resolutions we make, to consider the purpose for making them, and finally, to make commitments for keeping them and not letting any obstacle stop us. Let us remind ourselves at the beginning of each day that we can keep a resolution just for that day. As we do this it gets easier and easier until it becomes a habit.”
Somehow, when I thought of the process of personal growth happening one moment, one interaction at a time- it seemed much more achievable. I could see how daunting my days become when I set out with blanket goals of perfection, instead of seeking the Spirit's help as the difficult moments arise. What's more, when I falter (because I surely will), I can ask forgiveness immediately. What a relief that I don't need to carry those mistakes to the grave (or even to the end of the day, to be sorrowed over at night as I lay in bed).

This Mother's Day, I wish to become less preoccupied with the end product and more involved in the process of becoming.  I hope to find joy and fulfillment in my ability to improve and become better minute-by-minute, day-by-day.  I strive to create a canvas of kind words and contentment, content with what my Father in Heaven offers me and at peace with the opportunity- with His help, to create many 'days well-lived'.

Here's to a new year of Motherhood, made lovely one moment at a time.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

my kate

I'd like to introduce you to my Kate.

Kate is super kind and super likeable.  She is always friendly and finds it easy to talk to people.  Just yesterday we had someone here working in the yard.  I  had to leave for a minute and reminded her to practice the piano and finish her homework and to stay inside.  She didn't want to stay inside, of course- she wanted to visit with the guy working in the yard.  So I had to laugh when I asked her about her homework/piano status last night.  She brightly told me she had finished both and then had plenty of time to chat with our friend.  She didn't break the rule (Kate doesn't like breaking the rules).  She just opened the windows and stuck her head outside so she could visit while he worked.  Just followed him around the yard via the closest window.  

I love that story- it's so Kate.

Kate loves gymnastics- with a passion!  What I think is great about this is that gymnastics doesn't come easily for her.  I like that she doesn't love it simply because she's good at it.  She has to work her buns off, and she still loves it.  This year she has really learned to stretch herself and has had to work extra hard to see progress.  Just this morning she was telling me how she has "made her vault better".  She proudly told me that Miss Carrie (her coach) thinks a light bulb has finally gone off for her.  She has recently mastered a few skills that she's been working on all year- ones that seemed to come a little quicker for the other girls.  We both know that the "light bulb" hasn't come easy.  She has worked super hard the past few months and I am so happy for her. 

Kate loves to read.  I think even more than I do, which is hard for me to believe.  It isn't uncommon to see her walking from point A to point B with a book in her hands, trying to finish a paragraph.  Sometimes we have to put a kibosh on her reading because she loves it so much.  (If she's into a good book, she's in a different world!)  I love that she is so thirsty to learn.

This girl of mine has a heart of gold.  She is always giving me the biggest hugs.  I often get a great big one out of nowhere, along with a "Thanks for everything you do, Mom."  She is quick to compliment, and quick to forgive.  She hates to see me sad, or anyone else.  She has a kind, loving, and sensitive heart.

She happens to be super-duper honest.  I can always count on hearing the truth from Kate (whether I want it or not).  She is straight-forward in the way she thinks and goes about life.  (And Kate is always thinking!)  I like that I always can depend on her to let me know the real story.  I always know where I stand with her. 

Kate reminds me of her Dad in some ways.  She is very particular about things and likes to think through everything before she makes a decision.  Last week she asked me, "Mom, am I rational?  Ryenne says I am rational."  She gets that from her dad.  She can be quite private, and when something is bothering her, I have a hard time getting to the bottom of it.  (I, on the other hand, am an open book.)  She is willing to work hard to do things, and if something is hard for her it almost always makes her more determined to figure it out.  Again, just like her dad.  

I love this girl.  I love the way she and Claire call each other "Mama Bear" and "Baby Bear".  I love how she can get along with most anyone and comes up with the most amazing insights on things I haven't thought twice about.  I admire the way she thinks before she comes to a conclusion, a trait I haven't ever been able to master.   I think she is beautiful, inside and out.  I just plain love this girl.

So glad she's my Kate.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

the real story

When I posted about Easter, I mentioned that I had made the each of the girls a skirt.  I also mentioned that they were cute, which they were.  But I had to laugh when someone told me how amazing I was to do it.  Why?  First of all, because they were so easy.  But most of all because I didn't tell the whole story.

You know the real me?  The part about how anytime I try to tackle anything above and beyond my typical mediocrity I fall apart?  How I don't know when to stop?  Yeah, that's the one.

And so. . .At the risk of everyone knowing how emotionally unstable I really am, I have to tell how it really happened.  Not because I like everyone to know I'm crazy, but because I want my girls to understand the real me (in the off chance that they don't already vividly remember all of my failings).  Someday I hope they are mothers.  And if they are?  I'm pretty positive they are going to have days when they are overwhelmed, out of patience, and teetering on the edge.  Perhaps it will help if they know that it's not their fault?  They come by it naturally, you see. 

Girls, here's you excuse:  YOU CAN BLAME IT ALL ON FAULTY GENETICS.

Now.  Back to the skirts. . .

I set out to make four skirts. 
Against my husbands advice. 
They are super-duper easy and only cost $8.00 a piece.   
Skirt one- 2 hours max (probably closer to one).
Skirt two- about the same.
(I am feeling somewhat proud and giddy at this point).
"I told you so." says me smugly to husband.
Skirt three- oldest children come home from school.
Oldest children feel very grouchy and uncooperative.
I'm on a roll, I don't want to stop.
I keep on sewing.  Sewing, sewing, sewing.
Untangle Claire from the thread for the one thousandth time.
Reset the dials that Claire has adjusted for the ninety eighth time.
Giddiness fades.  Pride starts to wane.  Patience wears thin.
Ask older children to manage Claire. 
Oldest children aren't feeling it.
I feel frustrated.  I slip into martyr mode.
After all, "I'm doing this FOR YOU!"
Know I should stop for the day, but don't want to.
After all, I'm on a roll.  Got a job to finish.
Skirt three- three + hours.
Start skirt four.
Chaos erupts. Crying/Yelling/House-full-of-girls-falling-apart ensues.
I fall apart.
I pick up the keys.
I mention my departure to husband (who is busy working on our latest wall-moving project).
Drive 1/4 mile to a deserted place, park, and cry.
Cry, cry, cry.
Say a prayer, wipe the tears, go home, and be mom again.
I finish the skirts, girls are happy, and we all arrive at church on Easter Sunday looking pretty as a picture.
Everyone asks how I do it all.
I smile and assure them that I don't.
They think I'm just saying that, but I know the truth.
Admit to myself that I wasn't doing it just for the girls.
I kind of wanted to do it for myself too.
I like them to look cute.
I like to finish a job.
I like to be creative.

I'm just not so good at being crafty and being a good mom all at the same time.

You know what my dad used to say?
It's hard to be beautiful.
Amen, Dad.  Amen.

and rain will make the flowers grow

Maybe I can't have it all.  Or perhaps I just can't have it all the time

That's what I've been wondering about lately.  Sometimes I get a little down about the quarrelsome moments.  I want us to be happy all the time.  I want patience and sisterly kindness 24/7.  Happiness, giggles, and hearts full o' love around the clock.

But I'm thinking that's not real.  

When I was younger, I used to love to listen to the music of Les Miserables.  Just now I remembered one of my favorite songs, although not one of the more famous ones.  I used to play it on the piano and sing it to myself because I loved the words- I loved the message.  The name of the song is "A Little Fall of Rain", and is sung by Eponine and Marius just before Eponine dies.  The whole song is beautiful, but this morning for some reason I thought of the line where she tells him, ". . .And rain will make the flowers grow". 

I've been thinking along those lines the past few days, but hadn't quite thought of it that way.  I've been pondering how families grow.  It seems that the past few months have been pretty sunshiney.  (Not outside, of course- just inside our little abode).  I've noticed this trend before.  Sunshine, blue skies. . .all is well.  I should know by now that blue skies can't go on forever.  Always, always there will come a little rain.  The clouds will gather, people will feel a little stormy, and a few tear drops will fall.  It just seems to be the way of things. 

But rain will make the flowers grow, wont it?

It will rain for a bit, the clouds will hover for a while, and all of us will hopefully dig our roots a little deeper to weather the storm.  The weather report holds nothing life-threatening, of course.  Just the typical showers and fleeting bursts of bad weather that come as children grow and stretch and parents struggle to adapt and fulfill those needs.  And then, before we know it?  We'll have weathered the rainy season, skies will brighten, and in it's wake we'll be left a little stronger for having toughed it all out. 

'Til the next storm arrives, anyway.  That seems to be the way it works in our garden anyhow.  In the meantime we'll pull the weeds that will certainly come with all this rain, fertilize a bit with some extra love, and wait to see the fruits of our labor.  I'll try not to fret about the dark clouds or the strong winds that threaten to uproot us.  I'll continue to strive and hope that I create sunshine enough that my little plantings won't wither away.  I'll strive to place more attention on the growth than on the struggle.  The sunshine instead of the storm.  And I'll remember. 

Rain will make our flowers grow.