Monday, December 8, 2014

Just a Typical Sunday

Our Sunday afternoons are quite often slow-paced. But let me clarify what I mean by slow-paced... we have little (if anything) scheduled or planned. It doesn't mean everyone walks around in slow motion, or that our voices and tones are slower and more controlled.

It simply means, there isn't a lot of things that have to get done, and for some questionable reason, we all seem to end up for hours in the SAME ROOM!

Mike and I have tried to question our children for years, "What is so cool about Mom and Dad that you want/have to be right here with us?" They don't ever really give us an answer.

We don't have a huge house, but we have bedrooms children could go in, an upstairs "loft/family room" that children could play/entertain themselves in, and we even have a spare bedroom that is often used as a craft room/toy room/school room, etc.

But not on Sundays. For some reason on Sundays, everyone likes to gather in the same room, and as rosy and peachy as that sounds. It usually isn't. Mike lays on the couch, I sit in the chair with my feet up on the ottoman and the children fit themselves (and projects and toys) in there around us.

Lately, the attention is focused on the television screen for NFL football games. So NOT what I want my family to be doing on the Sabbath, but I have relaxed even more since THESE DAYS.

Except no one watches the game quietly. There's Hot Wheels being vrmmed somewhere in the room. Megan is trying to tell us story on top of story as well as random NFL facts that I DON'T CARE ABOUT. Luke is throwing a football to Joshua, Ellie is typically fitting in cartwheels whilst dodging Hot Wheels and footballs.

Someone always yells at Drew to stop making so much noise. Someone yells because they got hit (or near miss) with the football, someone yells at Megan to stop talking so much, someone yells at Ellie to go cartwheel where there is more space, and I too often yell at Mike, who is calmly and quietly laying on the couch and ask, "How do you SLEEP THROUGH IT ALL? It's NOT FAIR!"

On a recent Sunday, the football toss escalated into a chaotic, wild game of sibling football. Obviously knowing how these types of events escalate, I was quite happy when I looked over and saw that Joshua had ON HIS OWN ACCORD separated himself from the chaos and sat in the corner of the family room reading a book. I was so proud (and shocked) of his little move to avoid the inevitable trouble, that I Instagrammed this photo with this comment: "Once in a blue moon, while absolute chaos ensues with all the other children, one child will choose to separate themselves and make a better choice. #hemaybemyfavoriterightnow #sundaysarenotmyfavorite"

(bad, bad photo I know, but I've never claimed to be a photographer...I'm a memory recorder.)

He remained my favorite child for a while...

This particular Sunday evening, we had somewhere we needed to be. So amid this typical Sunday evening, we interrupted the children to get on their church clothes so we could have our annual tithing settlement with our bishop. (Personal, short, family meeting with the clergy of our ward.)

Mass chaos began again as children argued, negotiated, fought, etc. about the task at hand, but within a few moments everyone came back ready to go, only for us to realize we had forgotten it was 10 minutes later than we originally thought.

So...Megan scattered into the front room to practice her harp, and Joshua was told to quit throwing a football and to leave the family room we were all in.

Joshua obeyed.
Unbeknownst to us, he took a soft "globe" and decided to use it as a soccer ball and entertain himself in the hall by himself.

Just as our 10 extra minutes were up, and we were to walk out the door to leave, we heard a sound that we knew wasn't a good sound. We didn't know quite what it was until we saw that it was 200+ pieces of Candy Corn and a large, tall glass jar hitting the hard tile floor.

First we saw this:
And then I noticed this:
(shelf where the fall decoration once stood- it was a tall glass jar filled with lots of Candy Corn and fall decor)

We all followed the sound.

Mike said nothing except, "We've got to go to the church. Megan, be careful not to step in the glass." I stood there, not knowing whether to laugh or cry at the horrible mess scattered into the dining room, living room and hall. Joshua promptly burst into tears, I think most likely at the perplexity that NO ONE RAISED THEIR VOICE at him.

The sound of the crash and subsequent spilling candy and breaking glass was enough punishment for Joshua. He knew what he had done was wrong, there was no need to remind him. (Nice example that once in a while Mike and I do okay at parenting.)

The next morning at breakfast, Joshua expressed his surprise that nobody yelled at him when the decoration fell to the floor. Just as I was about to commend myself aloud to him and remind him that Mom and Dad are capable of having calm, controlled reactions, Joshua surmised,

"It was probably because the decoration was almost 'expired.' It's almost time for Christmas decorations anyway."

I wanted to argue with him about his surmising, but I'm trying to set an example of disagreeing and arguing less with each other. (A frequent big problem around here.)

So, I'll leave it for you to decide instead...

Mike and I remained calm, cool and collected because:

a. sometimes, simply put, we have pretty stellar parenting skills
b. likely we were too worn out and exhausted to care
c. if it's almost the end of a particular season we don't care if seasonal decorations get broken
d. a and b
e. all of the above

Hint, the answer isn't c or e.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

I Miss This

I was just glancing back at old posts in an effort to find the specifics of an earlier blog post, and I found myself lost in past memories and write-ups of life around here. Despite other computer tabs open, anxiously awaiting my return to the task at hand, I couldn't help but "waste some time" reading and remembering.

I miss blogging frequently.

When I think about it, I feel mild anxiety about all that I haven't written on here.

But then again, sometimes I feel free that what I'm experiencing, thinking and feeling, isn't being written in my head while it happens. (I think that's when one knows they're a writer...when they are writing a sentence in their head while experiencing the event.)

I have a lot to write about, but I also have a lot to keep quiet about.

I know I can't go too long without writing, but I keep debating whether or not to just close off my blog to anyone but myself and write away to my hearts content.

We shall see.
For now, enjoy this little blurry glimpse of a recent family carnefel. This was Luke's game of "Who can reach the front door without touching any of the strings."
(And yes, for the record, I'd be mad if there was a picture of me in this position posted on the world wide web, but I'm optimistic Mike won't feel the same.)

This picture makes it look far more idyllic, peaceful, and kumbaya-ish than the carnefel really was. In reality, it was our first family carnefel in months, Mike and I really wanted to not follow through with it, somebody cried during it, correction, I think three people actually cried during it, Drew won his own drawing contest game that he was judging, Ellie's game was confusing to understand, and nobody got to the front door without touching the strings. (Actually, Mike claims he did but it wasn't worth arguing about.)

Those last few sentences sum up a few of our family's personalities perfectly.

The end.
I may or may not be back soon.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Mornings With Drew

It crosses my mind at least once a day how quickly time passes, and how little time remaining I have with someone home with me during the day. I LOVE having Drew home with me each morning. Despite his too frequent pleas for a snack, his forgetfulness to do his jobs, or his "youngest child syndrome" antics, I absolutely adore the time he and I spend together doing all sorts of things each morning before he heads off to kindergarten after lunch.

The other day, while Drew sat at the counter eating the exact same lunch he eats every day (a half peanut butter sandwich, and either applesauce, apple slices or carrots), I stood across from him "chatting." He had my complete attention, and it was a moment I willed my mind to remember forever. So much so, that I decided to grab a paper and pencil and record Drew's answers to some of my questions.

Me: What is your favorite thing about school?
Drew: "Math. Wait, what is math?"

Me: What do you like best about mornings with mom?
Drew: "Playing games and I forgot what else."

Me: What are you going to be when you grow up?
Drew: "A football player"

Me: What does it feel like being 5 years old?
Drew: "You mean AND A HALF?"
Yes: What does it feel like being FIVE AND A HALF?
Drew: "The same as 5."

Me: If you could do anything you wanted right now, what would you do?
Drew: "I would cook 100 pieces of toast and eat them all."

I love mornings with Drew.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Why I...

(Photo somewhat unrelated, but I did LOVE seeing Drew take it upon himself to clean the bathroom one morning.)

Why I love being a mom lately...

Because I see the progress my youngest has been making with reading, and as much as I credit the public school system for his continued learning, I credit myself just a titch more. Do you know how many games of "Sight Word Match" and "Sight Word Go Fish" and "Sight Word Snap" I play every morning? Far more than any kindergartener or 40 year old could possibly even count.

Because I love that my children are at ages where they can actually play together for long stretches of time with minimal arguing and fighting. (Depending on which children are involved in the playing together.)

Because I love reading the texts between a couple of my children and seeing their relationship develop into something more than an irritating intolerance of each other.

Because I love hearing my children in their different shared bedrooms some nights laughing and talking, and I realize that dealing with each other's messes, and the fighting, and "Turn off the light" yells really will end up resulting in something positive and good.

Because some evenings, when no one is really doing anything, yet we're all at home doing nothing, but interacting with each other amid minimal distractions, I believe in those moments we are doing everything we should be. (I will continue to fight to preserve those evenings with every fiber of my being--a post for another day...)

Why I don't love being a mom lately...

Because sometimes my eldest daughter passes her driver's test, but then while driving with her just a few hours later she stops at a stop sign then proceeds to go, and would have hit a car unless I hadn't yelled STOP 34 times. Because sometimes one can pass their driver's test but still be under the (incorrect) belief that as long as one has STOPPED they then have the right of way??????????? Don't get me started. I need a therapist to deal with the driving teenager and I'm not kidding.

Because sometimes one child hits another child and when I ask, "Why did you do that?" They respond, "What's wrong with hitting?" That child has been alive for a decade and is just barely questioning what is wrong with hitting another person?

Because sometimes when I'm 35 miles away at a fancy wedding, I get a phone call telling me my youngest son was hurt and I couldn't do anything about it for a while. But then big brother claims it's just a tiny scratch and we're satisfied until we get home and realize it was much worse than a little scratch.

Because sometimes I get requests from a child at school demanding to be picked up immediately because they have diarrhea. When I clarify with them that the aforementioned diarrhea and early departure from school will result in staying inside the house all afternoon and not playing outside or with animals and friends, on a balmy, late autumn day, the diarrhea is suddenly not really much of a reality.

Because sometimes I have a child who helps out by feeding the goats before school because older brother didn't have time, and they return into the house with hay stuck in their hair, on their sweatshirt, clinging to their socks and any other exposed clothing. With no time to pick hay off of clothing or hair, I make the child rush out the door to the bus-stop, hoping that the hay will fly off while running and will be gone by the time he arrives at school.

Motherhood is filled with the good, and the not so good...I'm finding the secret is to do my best to enjoy it all.

At least that's what I attempt to do...some days I do better than others.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Me in a Picture

For several years now, there were a couple of things I anticipated doing for my 40th birthday.

One of them is still "in the works", and will not be shared publicly, although there are a few of you that know what I'm talking about...

The other one, was... (prepare to laugh out loud!) have a portrait drawn of myself. Yes! You read that right. My claim is that anyone of any importance has a portrait drawn of them, and why can't I join those ranks of people who have portraits commissioned and hanging for all to see?

A few years ago I read a great novel about a portrait artist that fascinated me, plus having had a portrait drawn of myself when I was 11 years old, that is somewhat outdated now, I figured why not mark my 40th birthday with a portrait.

Except, then I started thinking about how I would really go about finding an artist, and was that really self-centered, and plus, WHERE WOULD I HANG IT? So, as my 40th birthday approached, and other to-dos took center stage, it didn't really enter the forefront of my mind as I anticipated it would.

Until two days before my 40th birthday, when Mike, Megan, Ellie and I walked into Central Park in NYC and saw an artist drawing a portrait of a couple that was VERY good and realistic. Immediately, Mike and Megan turned to me and said, "Here you go!!! Here's your chance, right here in NYC!"

All my dreams of a portrait for my 40th birthday suddenly were replaced with, "Seriously? I'm going to sit here in Central Park amid all this foot traffic and be drawn?" "What if I start laughing hysterically?" "What if he draws a completely unflattering version of me." "What if... What if... What if..."

We sat on a nearby bench and observed the artist finishing up with the couple, and politely declined the invitation of a nearby artist to be his next customer. (We didn't see any "proof" that he was as good as the one we were watching.) Mike, Megan and Ellie kept bugging me to be the next customer, but I was VERY skeptical. I'd talked about it for years, yet here was a perfect, unique opportunity to have it done and I was second guessing myself! Mike assured me I would regret it, and with that, I stood up and promptly became the focus of Central Park foot traffic.

It was actually quite embarrassing. My family sat across on a nearby bench laughing at me, while I was trying not to laugh. I wondered what the nice Filipino man was thinking about me as he stared intently into my eyes and face. (That novel I read about a portrait artist, left me convinced this artist was also a mind-reader and was reading every thought and feeling I have ever felt/thought.) People would walk by, stop and stare at the paper, and then at me. Some would give me a big smile, some a thumbs up, and some would avoid any eye contact with me. I could hear some whisper to others in their group, "Wow!" or "He's good." or "Very realistic!" All I could do was sit still (which is VERY hard for me to do), and keep quiet (another VERY hard thing for me to do.)

While I was sitting still, having a Filipino artist analyze every piece of hair on my head, and wrinkle on my face, I could tell across the path that Mike and the girls were suddenly in a state of near-panic. I wasn't sure what was going on, until Mike came up to me with my debit card and asked for my pin number. Apparently, there was a slight complication in the price interpretation of the artist's sign, and Megan, upon realizing we did not have enough cash to pay when the portrait was complete, caused Mike to trek off in search of an ATM in Central Park. (At the Central Park Zoo in case you ever need one.)

(Right before going into the park, we considered finding an ATM as we figured we'd want to buy some ice cream or something from a vendor, but we added up all the cash we had, and realized it would suffice our Central Park stroll.)

Until the portrait man caught our eye.

And so now, I present to all of its beauty? humor? flaws? realism? the portrait MIKE had commissioned of me for my 40th birthday in New York City's Central Park.

I refuse to point out my criticisms of the photo, lest you only notice those flaws. (Which unfortunately are likely flaws with MY FACE not flaws with the artistic abilities.)

This portrait was UPS'ed home from NYC to prevent any damage being done to it squished into a suitcase. It was quite humorous to watch how protective Mike was of this silly thing and its safety for the duration of that day's travels.

A week after returning home from our NYC trip, the portrait arrived home and has yet to be framed or decided where to hang. Mike now regrets not getting one of himself. Yes! That's right. I was as shocked for him to say that, as you may be for reading it.

Interpret it all as you wish.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Luke is 13

While pregnant with Luke, before I knew he was a boy, I wanted a boy soooo badly! So badly.

At my ultrasound with him, I warned the technician not to just blurt out what *he was*, but to tell me when she knew and I would then tell her when I was ready to be told. When she did finally say the word "boy", without giving any response, I simply burst into tears.

Very timidly, the technician looked at Mike and almost in a whisper asked, "Was that the right answer, or the wrong answer?" He assured her it was the right answer. Those were tears of pure joy, and I have loved, loved, loved that I have had the joy of both sons and daughters in my life ever since.

Today that baby boy of mine turned 13!

Anyone that has read this blog for very long knows what a unique child Luke is. There are SOOOO many things I love about that boy. So many.

I love Luke.
Happy Birthday!

(He claims he can't breathe when smiling. Thus the funny face he is pulling.)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Great Moms in Davis County

I spent Saturday with some wonderful mothers in Davis County, UT! I've been to more Power of Moms Retreats than I can count, but I have to say, this one was one of my favorites! Those mothers!!!!

These ones were some of the best.

I know I say it after every Power of Moms Retreat, but there is nothing like being in a room full of deliberate mothers. There is always so much focus, energy, and optimism about the role of motherhood, and I love it.

In the week leading up to the retreat, I spent a lot of time vacillating about whether or not this was possibly one of my last Power of Moms Retreat. There are some other opportunities I'm feeling drawn to right now too. But the fact will always remain...that I have a strong passion for motherhood and mothers in general. We are a mighty powerful force, together shaping the future of society. I feel blessed that for over 4 years, I have had so many opportunities to rub shoulders with some truly great mothers.

I so wish I had thought to take a picture of Lori Conger and me together! She was my co-presenter and a great mother! This is our second event to present together...boy do I love her! I have much to learn from her.

One of my favorite parts of the retreats is listening to the small group discussions, and looking at mothers' faces as they speak of things so dear to them.
 Motherhood is hard. But it is also so beautiful and joyous. I love that these mothers feel the same.
I wish we had thought to take the group photo at lunch time. A few people had to leave at different times during the afternoon, but this group still represents the fabulous group we had at the retreat.
As always, my thoughts return to the quote by Helen Keller that I know I think about after every retreat,
"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much."

I'm quite certain, that if circumstances allowed for mothers to meet together in groups like this weekly, we could quite possibly, solve every mothering problem out there. That many deliberate mothers together, supporting and encouraging each other is a powerful thing.

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