Wednesday, November 30, 2011
I once heard something about parenting that has given me a lot to think about. Someone told me that as parents, we tend to take too much credit for our children's successes, and blame ourselves too much for their mistakes. In reality, these little people of ours come with their own unique packaging, traits and talents and agency created by a loving Heavenly Father, wrapped and sent to us to bless us, try our patience, and teach us a gazillion different things.
A few weeks ago a woman in our ward came up to me following relief society and told me that she had cleaned the church with my family the day before (not me, I was being lazy at home!). She said she was so touched by their willingness and sweet attitudes as they worked.
Ummm. My children? I'll admit, it took the words right out of my mouth.
Because I have the privilege of witnessing my children in all their glory (that being the good along with the very most stinkerish moments), I sometimes lose sight of what great little people they can be. In fact, I try to remember another piece of parenting wisdom I once heard. (I put all of these little bits in a special place and pull them into my mind when I'm teetering on the edge of a perceived parenting failure.) Someone told me that everyone needs a safe place to fall apart. So when my kids are a complete mess, I try to remind myself that I'm glad that they can fall apart at home. After all, I want home to be their safe place- the place where they can be their best and worst and will know we'll love them either way. That said, I have the glorious opportunity of witnessing a whole lot of falling-aparts.
Anyway, it was really nice of this kind sister to tell me something nice about my girls. She even teared up a little bit when she told me so I could see she was really touched. It took me back a little, because they sometimes move me to tears when they are working at our house, but not in quite the same way if you know what I mean. More in a make-me-want-to-crawl-back-in-bed-and-pull-the-sheets-over-my-head sort of way. Anyhow, it was super duper heartening to hear a bit of good news and it made me decide two things:
1. When I see something good in a child, I am going to share that with their parents, straight-away. Who doesn't like to hear those kind of things?
2. I need to give my children more credit for being good people, all on their own. It's not my fault. They just come that way.
However. I do have a little boy here who happens to be the cutest, sweetest little guy that ever was. He just came that way. So, what I'm wondering it this. Is it okay for me to flatter myself by thinking I might just have a leeetle bit to do with that? It would make me feel like a genius of sorts. He really is pretty much perfect.
On second thought, he looks an awful lot like his dad (just like the rest of 'em). But how about the sweet part? Maybe sometimes I can be sweet?
I'll ponder that whilst I spend the rest of the morning watching movies with my Claire-girl. Today's a bit of a down day for this 'ol body of mine, which means I'm giving myself permission to do absolutely nothing. You should try it. Maybe we'll snuggle by our newly decorated tree and watch a Christmas movie. That sounds very nice. Claire's new favorite is "How the Crunch Stealed Christmas". It's a good one. . .
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
The other night at dinner we took turns going around the table telling all the things we were thankful for. Here's a few I can remember. . Tender mercies, freckles, family, chocolate, friends, doctors, prayer, medicine, scriptures,grandparents, and mom & dad (hey, that's me!).
Since then, I've been thinking even more about all that I am thankful for. You know what? I am super, duper, great big thankful this year. Maybe more than ever, which is a cool idea if I think about it. Hopefully next year I'll be even more, and then the next, and. . .well, you get the idea. I like the thought of that because it means I'm becoming more aware each year of all the gazillion good things Heavenly Father has blessed me with.
Yesterday as I was nursing Samuel, Claire had climbed up on me and was literally hanging from my neck- crazy as usual. I thought to myself, I'm so thankful for this moment! So thankful for sweet little Samuel and fun, crazy Claire. Thankful for the chaotic moments that make my life fun and exiting right now.
A little while later, I was chasing Claire around the family room so I could take her back to her bedroom for a nap for the four hundred and sixtieth time, and I was thankful. So thankful to be a mom. Thankful that I am at a point where three years old seems like so darn much fun. So thankful to have the chance to read bedtime stories and sing lullaby songs.
As I knelt down by the tub to give Samuel a bath, I was filled with a happy, thankful feeling. So happy to watch him smile and splash. So very pleased that I could kneel down and then stand back up again all by myself. So glad it was I who got to wrap him up in a big, warm towel and rub yummy smelling lotion on his cute little cheekies.
When the girls came rushing loudly into the house from the bus and woke Samuel and I up from our little afternoon nap (grateful for those, too! They help my body work oh! so much better), I was smiling inside. Smiling to hear their happy voices. Excited to learn about their day. So thankful for good teachers and nice friends.
I felt cozy and snuggly in Courtney's sweater that I wore around yesterday when I got chilly. It's big and soft and it makes me happy, all lovey and tingly inside. He's pretty much all of my happiest thoughts each day. Super duper thankful for that guy.
I'm grateful when I read the note the doctor wrote the other day about Emmy. "Rosy, beautiful, and well spoken". What a very nice thing for her to say.
I'm happy when I hear giggles. I'm happy when my gals are happy.
I'm happy to hear the little nicknames the girls call Samuel, my favorites being Hiccup, Moose, and "THE CUTEST BABY EVVVVER!" I admit, I'm pretty in love too. In fact, last night after he was tucked in bed, I secretly kinda hoped he'd wake back up soon so I could cuddle him again. (Wow, I just now see how serious this is. I have a very serious crush on a three month old- but really, if you saw his little grin and his awesomely chubby cheeks you'd understand).
Mostly, I am more thankful than ever this Thanksgiving season for my job. The job of being a mom, that is. Because, really- these people need me. That is one thing I have realized this past little while since my whole medical adventure. My family needs me. In a lot of ways, their world stops when I do. Isn't that a recipe for an amazing career? I mean, I can't think of a single other job that can't be filled by just about any fairly capable human being. Corporations go through employee changes all the time. But in this joint, I'm irreplaceable. Irreplaceable, I say! It used to overwhelm me (okay, it still sometimes does) that five little human lives are so totally dependant on me. But one night in the hospital, the girls came to visit. They were sad, sad little girls. They had the most wonderful grandma's ever (and I would say, more capable and kind than me in most every way), but what they wanted was me. That night, I understood my job was in a whole new light. It is very, very important. As imperfect and ornery as I can sometimes be, I'm the mom around this place, and there's only one me in the whole world. My family needs that me, and that responsibility makes me feel very humble and very, very thankful.
And even though I groaned out loud this morning when Claire and Emmy graced our presence when their very, very cheery little bodies jumped into our bed at sixish this morning, I was secretly thinking thankful thoughts. It's kinda fun, this mommy business is. A tad worrisome at times, and completely exhausting at best. I admit there are times when it makes me want to pull my hair out. (In fact, I'm laughing because the other night after a particularly dramatic outburst by one of the girls, I looked over at Courtney and saw him making stabbing motions at his eyes. You know, as in parenting sometimes make you want to poke your eyes out!)
But really. This time of my life (when sleep is rare and chaos is plentiful) is a very nice time. A very nice time of life indeed. I really do have the most important job in the universe, and that is something to be thankful for, don't you think?
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
I've talked before about my talented friend Nicole, from Nicole Nelson Photography. She's the best. In fact, I decided the other day that if I could have just one wish for Christmas, it would be to carry her around in my back pocket so she could photograph our lives each day. Wouldn't that be the best? Well, guess what? She is doing a give-away (a family photography session!), and I would be fantastically happy if I won it. Quite honestly, I will be fantastically happy if you win it too! But I am thankful she got me to write down my thankful feelings all the same!
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
It's official! A few weeks ago, we gathered together with family and friends to celebrate Samuel's birth and give him a name and a blessing. It was a great day.
Before Samuel was born, Courtney's mom gave me the blessing outfit Courtney had worn as a baby. I loved the idea of blessing Samuel in it, but we waited so long to bless him that I was afraid it wouldn't fit. A few days before the blessing, I tried it on him and what do you know? It fit! Like a glove! I laughed that it looked a little bit like it was painted on him, but it fit nonetheless and I loved it. To top it off, my mom gave me some little blue booties that my great grandma had made for my dad when he was a baby. That made it extra special (I'm named after my great grandma, too).
When it came time for Courtney to bless him, he started to fuss a bit just as I remembered that I'd forgotten to feed him. The only time Samuel ever cries is when he is hungry and when he decides it's time to eat he means business! I was sure he would cry the whole time, but all those men held him and gently bounced him up and down. As soon as Courtney began the blessing, he quieted down and didn't make another peep. It was perfect.
After we'd blessed him and everyone gathered to eat, I just sat and watched. I became pretty emotional as I thought about the past few months and all of those who have helped us so much. I was so happy to be able to be there on such a special day, together with all these people who I loved so much. I was filled to the brim with thankfulness- I couldn't help but cry a little bit and say a prayer to Heavenly Father telling him thank you for all the good things in my life.
Samuel and Uncle Shawn (who I've always thought look a lot alike).
My sweet sister Kerri decorated the tables for me. She'd called me a week or so before the blessing to see if I needed any help with the tables. I told her I hadn't even thought about it and probably wouldn't. Due to everything I've been through and the resultant loss of my brain, I've simplified a whole bunch. I told her I'd be happy if I remembered to order the food! So wouldn't you know, she took care of everything and surprised me! The tables looked cute, decorated with little trucks, backhoes, and little blocks that spelled out SAM.
We were planning on blessing him at my mom's house, and since she'd just gone through knee surgery, I was planning on getting up to her house to clean. However, knowing how easily I get tired, Kelsey and Amy made a plan and spent a day cleaning and getting everything ready for me so I didn't have to worry about it. Sure enough, by the end of that week, I was so tired and never would have pulled it off.
I don't know what we'd do without our families.
My two handsome boys.
(By the end of his big day, Samuel was pretty tuckered out. It's hard to be the guest of honor.)
A wonderful day to celebrate our favorite little guy!
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Yesterday I wrote something about my physical self. "Let's face it, it ain't good." Afterwards, I thought to myself, "No, it ain't what it used to be, but it ain't too bad." And then I went and whipped my utility room into shape just to prove it. Hey, self. I may be short on stamina, but I'm still here. That's something to celebrate!
Last weekend we went bowling. Correction: the girls and Courtney went bowling and Samuel and I went spectating/cheerleading. It was lots of fun. While we were rocking out to the very, very loud music (I must be getting old), Kate yelled, "It feels so good to be bowling again, Mom! I think we should do this once a month! It should be our New Years Revelation!" I loved that. I'm all for New Year's revelations. In fact, I like the way she thinks. Hmmmm, should I resolve to lose ten pounds or go bowling? Let's start with bowling, shall we?
Speaking of Kate and her extra awesome ability to be herself, try this one on for size. This little girl of ours called her grandpa the other day to see if he would teach her how to weld. A very marketable skill for a nine year old girl, no? He asked her if she was considering building a battleship. I'll just say this: If that girl made up her mind to build a battleship, I wouldn't put it past her.
And today? I'm sitting here typing with the cutest little guy on my lap. He is cute- I'm not just saying that cuz I'm his momma. And he smells good (most of the time). AND. He is grinning. It is super, duper, fantastically cute. In fact, his daddy called the other day just to tell me, "I just thought about Samuel's grin and laughed right out loud." Everybody should be able to see a grin like this each day. We'd all be a whole lot cheerier.
Also. My today includes a very spunky three year old, which is good because not only do I have Samuel here to make me smile, I have Claire here to make me chuckle. She's pretty funny, that one. The other day our home teachers were here and after sufficient time had passed she announced in a not-so-quiet voice, "It's time for them to go home now." When she didn't think they'd gotten the message, she repeated herself. "Please tell them it's time to go home now." Awesome. Luckily, they were good sports.
Oh, and another thing. Emmy is sick. As in deathly sick. The kind that keeps you home from school and then makes you want to watch movies, play with your little sister, and eat chocolate chip cookies. You know the kind? I could sense the sickness coming on yesterday morning, but managed to get her out the door. However, she called me about 30 minutes before school got home. The chipper "Mom, I don't feel good!" gave her away. After school, of course, she was much too ill to go to ballet, but then made an amazing recovery the minute the carpool left. Amazing, I say. I wasn't surprised when she crawled into my bed this morning with an excruciating tummy ache.
I had no choice but to pull out the big guns.
I explained that a sickness of this magnitude can only be helped by one thing: staying in bed. All day. When she agreed, I groaned. Is there anything more painful than keeping a seven year old in bed all day? Okay, so maybe there is. The point is, sometimes being a responsible mother requires patience. And some good acting skills. You see, the trick is to put on my most sympathetic face, adopt the sweetest voice I can muster, and remind her how very, very sick she is. So sick, in fact that she couldn't possibly go to school. The only cure? A day of strict bed rest. So, it has only been one hour and and I have already escorted my little girl back to bed approximately seventy-two times. On account of her being so sick and all. She knows I am acting (maybe it's because I'm not usually so very sweet). She is quite aware that the gig is up. At this point, it has become a battle of wills. We will see just how long her pride will carry on before she breaks down and admits that she was pulling my leg. She wasn't sick after all! And then (enter sigh of relief), we can sit down and have a nice chat about the boy who cried wolf. We can spend the rest of the day having a Vacation From Life Day, both of us satisfied and happy with a lesson learned. Mom isn't so dumb, after all. But if I cave first? She'll play hooky again. And again. I've seen it play out a hundred times.
I've become my mother.
Last of all, a funny poem. My friend Robyn sent this to me and it made me laugh.
There once was a woman who woke up one morning,
Looked in the mirror,
And noticed she only had three hairs on her head.
"Well," she said. "I think I'll braid my hair today."
So she did
The next day she woke up,
Looked in the mirror,
And saw that she only had two hairs on her head.
"Hmmm," she said,
"I think I'll part my hair down the middle today."
So she did
Looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head.
"Well," she said,
"Today I'm going to wear my hair in a pony tail."
So she did
The next day she woke up,
Looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn't a single hair on her head.
"Yay!" she exclaimed,
"I don't have to fix my hair today!"
Attitude is everything.
Be kinder than necessary,
For everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
Speak kindly. . .
And leave the rest to God.
(One more thing that made me laugh out loud today!)
Monday, November 14, 2011
Love is nice.
Courtney has been working away a lot lately, which means I miss him. We all do. It also means that in my current physical condition (let's face it, it ain't good), I'm kind of a mess by the time he gets home. For some reason when I get tired, my legs don't work so good. They're actually getting to the point that I can walk okay when I am rested, but when I'm tired? I shuffle.
Lucky Courtney. By the time he gets home on Friday I'm in shuffle mode. He's usually coming off a five plus hour drive home and a week of extra long work days. I'm sure the last thing in the world he wants to do is put me back together again.
But he does. And he makes me feel like it's a pleasure for him.
Last weekend when he got got home on Friday night, he gave me hugs and kisses and promptly sent me off to bed while he got dinner ready and the girls settled down for the night. After I'd fed Samuel and fallen asleep, he quietly wrapped up his little boy and made a bed for the two of them in the family room. Then, without saying a word to me, he fed him during the night so I didn't wake up. He does this often. And on Saturday, he ordered me to bed again. When I told him I couldn't because I needed to make brownies for a family party, he told me, "I can make brownies. Where's the recipe?" And he did, despite the fact that he'd never made brownies before. (They were yummmmy too.) When I woke up Saturday afternoon, I saw a sign hanging on the door, with strict instructions for the girls to leave me alone. What's more, he stuffed pillows into all the windows and so the room stayed nice and dark so I would sleep better.
I'm not sharing this so people think he's perfect. I'm sharing it because he is kind.
Kindness is a good thing in a marriage.
When he left to go out of town again on Monday, I thought about him. A lot. I thought about what I might do that would make his day a little happier. When someone does something kind to you, it makes you want to do something nice back. Kindness begets kindness.
I am positive that a regular doses of simple kindness can do more for a marriage than almost anything else.
While I understand how important it is for both of us to share the load that comes with raising our family, I think true happiness in marriage is found when we find joy in serving each other without thought of what we might get in return. I don't think the kindness means as much for either of us if we are keeping a tally. Love seems to grow best when we do something for one another simply because we see a need and wish to make each other's day just a little bit better.
I'm convinced that there's nothing better than being married to a nice person.
Try doing something nice for your spouse today. . .just because!
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Kate made me laugh this morning.
I was waiting in the bathroom for her turn in our line-up of morning hair-do's when she marched in and announced, "I prefer ponytails today, please!"
That's my Kate.
I chuckled out loud (because Kate makes me do that) and then asked her if she got her lunch. When she said yes, I double-checked to make sure she knew hers was the blue lunch box (she and Emmy had different orders today). Again, she said yes. "But if I got the wrong one, I could just ask my teacher if I could quickly go to Emmy's class and trade," she said cooly. "But that won't be necessary."
Once again, I laughed out loud, telling my Kate, "You make me laugh."
With that, she grinned and said, "I do that to a lot of people. That's cuz I'm just myself."
But the best part? It was still to come. It will make me smile all day.
"It's best if I'm just myself. I figured that out a while ago. First, from experience. And second, if I try to be someone else it doesn't work out so well. It's like that sign you have hanging up in my room (one of those that I love but I wonder if the girls ever read), 'If I am not I, who will be?' " She paused, "I think about that saying all the time".
You make me very happy, Kate Jeannett Wood.
(In case you're wondering, Henry David Thoreau deserves the credit for that favorite quote of mine. That makes it even fancier, eh?)
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Since I'm not the most energetic gal on the planet right now, I was relieved that the girls kept costumes pretty simple this year. With the exception of Ryenne, the girls wanted to wear costumes they already had. That made me very happy. Ryenne had her heart set on being a 50's girl, and when my sister found someone who would rent the whole get-up (skirt, sweater, scarf, and glasses!) to us for a mere nine dollars, Courtney said "Sign us up!"
I thought we had everything in the bag until a few nights before the big day, Courtney asked me what Samuel was going to be.
"Ummm. Samuel?" I gulped. Hadn't exactly thought through that one. (I don't think through a lot of things these days).
Luckily for us, we had a superman onesie in our repertoire. I merely had to add a cape, dye some tights, and find a pair of whitey tighteys (except I needed them to be reddy tighteys!). Ten minutes and wah-lah!
Superman. (Or "SuperSam" as we called him!)
We were glad cousin Kalli and friend Hailee could join us for the big night.
Courtney and I dug up our best duds to arrive as the tackiest tourists ever.
A good time was had by all. Maybe too much fun, in fact. I had a pretty hard time prying the girls out of bed for school the next morning. After a good ten minutes of working on Emmy, she finally sat up in bed, folded her arms and announced, "I'm not going!" I inspired her, after all. . .oh, the schemes I can concoct with a bit of candy and a little blackmail.
Since we're at a new elementary school this year, we were all relieved to find that the new school has a pumpkin walk. That's cuz we have a family tradition of ditching it. And then having a bigger, better party at our house.
Or a party at our house, anyway.
Last week, Kate ran into the house after school shouting, "Yeah! It's the pumpkin walk tonight! That means we get to skip it!"
If you know us at all, you know the story. It all started out because I was too lazy to help the girls carve extra pumpkins for the pumpkin walk. And it was cold. And it just didn't sound very fun. So we bribed them with a party. Same thing every year- donuts on a string, pin the nose on the pumpkin, and silly pictures of the gang.
Plus, I get to eat sugar and kiss my man all at the same time. Bonus for me!
Samuel is already a fan. Turns out, he didn't think the pumpkin walk was worth all the hassle, either.
We're pretty relieved we won him over so easily.
'Til next year, pumpkin walk. You're always the best night we never had.
Once upon an afternoon, I had plans. Take a hot bath and then maybe a nap. Ohhh, it sounded so nice.
However, just as I was ready to embark on my vision of loveliness, daughter number one asked if I would pleaaaaase paint pumpkins with her. I almost declined (in fact I may have a time or two), as I was so very, very tired. A hot bath and a nap seemed to be just what I needed.
But then? I remembered something daughter number one had told me a week or so earlier. "You won't get to read bedtime stories to me forever, mom."
Turns out, I painted pumpkins, after all.
And a lovely afternoon it was.
As with any good fairy tale, it was not without it's fair share of drama. (A few tears were shed when little sister joined the party. And made a mess, much to the chagrin of daughter number one.) And of course, we must have a villain or two- Me and Me. This after I laid down the law that allowed little sister to stay and fulfilled my motherly duty of enlightening older sister with my rendition of the importance of kindness. patience, and sisterly love. How is is possible that I am so very often the heroine and the villain? Such talent I possess.
I was pleased to discover that pumpkin painting was just what I needed, after all!
That, and a pleasant ride with daughter number four.
Daughter number one was right, you see.
I won't be able to read bedtime stories forever. Nor paint pumpkins with excited little girls. And swinging with my little girl at my side on a beautiful autumn day? That opportunity won't always be mine, I'm afraid.
And so, my dear daughters: I conclude this tale with the hope that you will remember that once upon a lovely day in October, we painted pumpkins. I almost missed it, but I was so glad I did not. For I will look back and know that for an afternoon, at least. . .
We all lived happily ever after.