Thursday, April 17, 2014

Because of Him

This evening I was touched by the thoughtfulness of Z. He and Nev were grouped in age together at a local Easter Egg Hunt (dash) and I was watching from a distance. As it started Nev had her basket on her head as a hat. I figured that was going to be a problem but had no way to do anything about it since we were blocked by a bunch of other parents.

I watched as they started the hunt and she ran about 3 steps and then panicked: where was her basket? She couldn't possibly pick up eggs without the basket. Her brother was long gone, of course with task in mind. She turned back searching for me, the expression on her face heartbreaking the parental crowd thinned enough and I went to her, I pulled the basket off her head and handed it to her and told her she was okay (she was crying), and to go see if she could find an egg. I watched as she picked up one and then it was evident that all the eggs had been claimed. Her brother found her as he was charged to do and then from a distance I saw a huddle around her. When they emerged from the group everyone was happy.

They described to me what had transpired when they found me. Now looking through the pictures I am touched even more to see what I couldn't at the distance I was.

Without any adult interference just the sorrow of his sister he took it upon himself to make all things even.

In the pictures I can see her meet up with her brother, shoulders slumped in defeat.

I can see Z's appeal to the other hunters on her behalf. You can see in their faces what kind of a response they received.

He later told me he gave her half his eggs and then asked other kids around him if they would share just one with her.

It's a simple thing. A Christlike thing. A small act that makes me such a happy mom. Because of Him, Because of Jesus Christ my children know how to see a need and fill it, see a broken heart and mend it. They learn to serve as Our Savior served. Z ended up with less eggs than his sister.

Afterwards they had a raffle for a few gift baskets. In a tender mercy Nev's number won the raffle.
Which means that Z was even more unbalanced with the one he worried over, but it was all okay. 
As a parent, standing back and watching my children take care of each other is one of the most rewarding things. Their innocence, and charity is inspiring. 

May the beauty and awesomeness of Our Savior's gift and sacrifice be evidenced in types all around you. 
Happy Easter!

Because of Him I'm a better Mom, Because of Him my children are better people, Because of Him I learn to love more perfectly. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A wasted degree

I just got a call from a my alumni school. One of the questions they asked was whether or not I am employed. My answer was no. Technically, I own my own “business” and I have a unique product but haven’t pushed it in the recent year or two since I have other priorities. I contemplated calling back after I hung up to change my position on employment, because I am not a waste of my degree.

Recently there has been so much discussion about women, their rights and roles and their limitations in the workforce and even in my church. I feel it important as a mother and as a leader of the young women in my church to understand these varying viewpoints, whether or not I agree with them. When the call from the school where I received my Associate Degree came I was in the middle of reading a few articles and blog posts on the subject. 

There are many reasons I do this. One is to be understanding; another is to not teach in the old way with the old stigma and the old ideas. Is there something wrong with the old way? Well, I firmly believe God’s way is right. Right now our loving Heavenly Father has given us a “new” way to teach and I'm doing my best at it.  The “old” way certainly has its issues introduced by what I assume are well meaning individuals who can’t possibly foresee all the ways their good intentions will be misconstrued and torn apart or what the individual will internalize it as. My blog has gone relatively quiet lately because I see so many good blog posts, well written, well thought out get completely decimated my commentators who are cruel and often do not try to understand the author or their position at all. Bloggers simply share their world, their thoughts as they are. Generally speaking a Blog will never and can never cover all the angles and it shouldn’t try to. I am not great at putting my thoughts down and so I often keep them to myself, because I love a variety of people with a variety of views and ways of living and don’t want rifts, but I quietly try to understand them and know better how to approach them when those things we don’t see eye to eye on come up. I’m passionate about what I believe. Most people are.

So while I was trying to find a piece of information for the phone call I asked the questioner, “What is the purpose of keeping up with the Alumni?” “To see how Alumni are using their degrees.” So then I asked the pointed question, “Am I a waste of my degree?” Remember I just told her that I was unemployed. The young woman answered correctly in the negative. I let her know I do not feel that I have wasted my degree either, but that that view was certainly narrowing in the world around me. 

After my Associates degree from BYU-Idaho I went to BYU in Provo and received my Bachelor’s degree. I do freelance graphic design here and there, more frequently when my children were less and younger and took naps. Now we spend hours on homework and cuddling, reading and practicing letter forms, painting masterpieces and building with ceramic clay, we spend time playing in the tree house and making chalk masterpieces on the driveway, and dragging a red wagon laden with heavy little bodies up the slope to the road just because it’s the shortest route. I spend time folding laundry and telling the kids not to eat on the couch, dragging myself into the kitchen to attempt to create a meal that will please a vast audience, sweeping under the table and picking up random discarded clothing. I spend time reading the scriptures with my children and teaching them to brush their teeth, to organize the toys and fold laundry, I teach them to make choices and accept consequences, I teach them the way around a kitchen and recognize a need and be willing to serve, I teach them to pray, I teach them to change their attitude. I also sometimes yell, roll my eyes and melt to the floor like my toddler and then I get to teach by example to repent and forgive. I eat chocolate after they go to bed and whine about getting up in the morning to redo everything I did yesterday. I pray.

I’m a mother who is doing the best she can to raise a few children who will know how to handle life and work for themselves. Just like me, sometimes they will totally suck at it. It’s a fact, but they’ll get up and keep working at it, because that’s what their mom did and what their grandma’s did, and their great grandmas etc. etc. all the way back to Eve. She made a choice that bettered mankind and yes, womankind that includes you, the terms man and mankind is not exclusive. Eve isn’t to blame, but to thank. I’m thanking her by doing what I feel God has asked me to do; to live, to raise children, to nurture them and to be a supportive wife. Yes, I’m married. No, my husband wouldn’t stop me from working if that was my burning desire, or even a little desire. I don’t home school. I am happy to send my children who I have found thrive in the public school environment, where they can choose to live what we teach in our home and believe me, they have a choice. 

So what do I do with my degree? Sometimes I use it to make money, remember, I do freelance. Sometimes I do it to help out a friend, sometimes I use my degree to make something as a gift, or something I learned in my college classes to serve someone else or to add beauty to their world. Sometimes I advise people in things concerning my degree. Sometimes, I use my degree to simply teach my daughter that she can draw a neck between a head and its arms because it is there. Sometimes I use it to help my child with a homework assignment or project or to research something that interests us simply because we love to learn. Sometimes I even use it to help my daughter do a project on a "feminist." GASP! Sometimes I use it to make things for my husband that helps him in his job, and sometimes I use it to document our marriage or show him I love him. I use it to express myself.

Does it really matter if I use it? USE it in the way the general public thinks I should use it? No. It doesn’t. Because once you learn something it is stored away in that magical space in your spirit. It’s a place that sometimes my brain can’t quite access so I can’t remember how to do long division in a pinch to help my daughter, instead I get to learn it again with her, which gives me patience. But my spirit has it, it’s locked down solid and when I die, all those things will be opened to me again perfectly and I’ll use them. I’ll use them and build on them and be better for having the pittance of a foundation my 16ish years of schooling brought me. 

I am not a waste of my degree. I am exactly what I planned to be. A mother, a wife, a woman with experience, a woman with knowledge, a woman with talents, a woman with testimony, a woman with a plan.

I am a woman with divine destiny. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Motherhood teaches me

Running beside my oldest 

Accomplishment and pride

Her efforts and determination push her on

Learning that all good things take effort

Life is work

Holding my little boy's hand

Smooth and thin

His nails against my skin remind me with a smile 

We forgot to trim his nails at the last bath

They grow only older

Watching my oldest toddler dance

Whimsical and unembarrassed

Her soft body moves copying the street dancer

We forget what it's like to live

In the beauty of each day

Handing the baby-kid his teddybear 

Love and joy

His tight hugs and pursed kisses

Demonstrating it is a condition of the heart

To be happy

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


What is it that is so interesting and lovable about a good old steam train? And as lovable as Thomas and his friends are, I'm sure the Reverend was just making use of an interest that already existed for children in the formative toddler years.

In any case, in our family steam trains have held the interest of our toddlers regardless of their gender, though typically the boys are more obsessed for longer. 

We've taken the kids on the new electric trains, and it's cool but not as fulfilling as we had hoped. In the town where we live the trains are still older, not steam but at least not space age looking. 

We drive right next to some tracks every day to pick up the preschooler. Some days the itch to see a train or drive over the tracks is just too great and the two youngest are clear and persistent in their burning desire. 

After parenting these two for years I have it pretty well figured out when they are STUCK on an idea and since the most likely collateral damage was a bit extra in gas we turned right instead of left. We wove back and forth each block west following the rail line and driving across it only to return to it's crossing a block later.

And I smiled.

Their excitement at each crossing as our van bumped over the rails was the stuff that contented sighs are made out of. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Everyone has just enough of a cold to make me exhausted, since I'm feeling it too. So we kept the kids out of school today. I am writing because I need to note today's successes.
4 loads of laundry folded and put away.
practiced sight words with the kindergartener
taught the 9 year old (again) the correct way to form her b and d's, next up f
9 year old finished a book
2 year old and 5 year old took a nap
4 year old helped fold laundry
I made pancakes for second breakfast (what's that? when the kids get up at 7 with Dad and eat cereal only to be sent back to bed because they are all coughing, and when I get up at 9 after being up all night with the two year old, I make pancakes for everyone)
renewed the library books
practiced writing "e" (with the four year old who writes them as backward g's) and other letters in her name
identified the letters the 5 year old didn't know
read books with the two year old
read tandem with 5 year old
practiced shape identification with 4 year old
said yes (this is a big one folks, it just is)
helped the 9 year old finally put together the butterfly garden she got in June for her birthday
9 year old practiced piano
I made arrangements for supplemental help at tonight's youth activity
No TV has been watched (1 movie by the 5 year old before everyone else woke up)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Grouchy Lady Bugs

Today Nev brought home an Eric Carslile book from school. We read it together and she wanted to make a ladybug like Giddy and I did yesterday. ( we made a bee and a lady bug)
So we went at it from the angle on the front of the book. Ripping paper for grass, punching circles out, cutting heads bodies and undersides, and pipe cleaner and black cord for legs and antennae, respectively. I love how they turned out and it was fun to watch them work. At one point Giddy left and started walking off with the paint water, I had just refilled it and figured he thought he needed water since it was clean he couldn't see it? Er something. He kept saying something but as I had no context I couldn't understand until he showed me. 
A frog. 
Whaaat? How did that get in the house? I mean there are a TON of them outside but I'm always surprised at where we find them in the house. Come to find out when he was walking off with the paint water he was saying "wog" aka "frog."  Nev caught it after it jumped out of the paint cup. We took it outside, they each got to hold it before letting it go "home."
And back to our lady bugs. Nev made hers the sweet lady bug and Giddy said his was the grouchy one. 
They turned out so cute and the kids stayed on task well. Nev ended up drawing "names" in white on her lady bug 's back after I took the pic of her with hers. The white lines "are its bones-es" and he needed 8 legs because that's the way she drew it in white pencil. Duh Mom. :) Nev is pretty awesome with scissors now as she's had a lot of practice the last few months. 

She also presented me with another drawing and asked me if I could color it for her like I did her other one. See link for the other one.
I'm looking forward to it. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Things I thought of while my child screamed all through check out...

To the two grandma age women who really should have been encouraging: First off I had the shopping isle right of way, so don't glare at me when you almost run into my cart with the child hanging off the front of it. I am doing the best I can, you of all people should appreciate that, or has it been too long since you cared for a little being? Or perhaps you are still bitter life dealt you a card you didn't like. If so, I am sorry on both accounts. Smile, your life will increase in sunshine, especially if you are the ones to smile first. 

To the grandpa age man who offered me a spot in front of him in line, just to get the check out over with faster: Thank you. It's too bad, (for everyone) that I couldn't take you up on your offer since the line I was in was really going to be faster. Your thoughtfulness is recorded in heaven and my heart.

To the young couple with the three month old boy: It's not always like this. Sometimes it is better, sometimes it is worse. That's okay, because when I get home and put the little boy who cried himself to sleep in his bed for a nap, I will look on his angel face and wonder what I did to deserve charge of such a cherished child of God. Seriously. It's amazing how quickly a sentiment can change when they are sleeping. Though it might sound crazy, I'd take that shopping trip again.

Here's why:

*The old man who smiled at me and the children in the prescription line, because yes, they are cute, and yes, I am a good Mom, thank you for noticing.

*Because that two year old was so excited to pick and count tomatoes and apples with me and I know that these moments matter when he's looking at me wondering where to go from #4 before he drops the imperfect tomato he could reach into the bag.

*And when we stop to pick out underwear with the 4 year old who will look at all the options but still know exactly what she wants (Hello Kitty) because she is confident and her very own unique personality, I can be happy because I was a big part of that.

*And it's because when the two of them are picking out juice they think about what flavors their siblings will like. It's because I am working to raise individuals who care about others who can reach outside of their own sense of entitlement that is so rampant today.

*It's the little girl who could tell Mommy was worn out but really wanted the princess squinkie on the horse. She knew she could use her hard earned allowance to buy it, and also knew she'd not been the cause of Mommy's stress and so she gave me her best puppy-dog-eyes and-fist-clasped-pleading and then accepted it when Mom said, "no," (I later changed my mind because I was able to translate what "my lowance" meant).

So if I seem distant or unconcerned, cold or uncaring while my two year old cried the entire 30 minute checkout... (Note to self: never shop on a Tuesday again), it's because I care SO much, I'm not giving up. I'm fighting this battle against everyone who tells me mothering is a waste of time, against every Time Magazine Article that says a life with out children is "having it all," against every cocktail carrying woman who looks down at my newborn in the stroller and says "Why would you have a baby?" against, everyone who says, "you are too young to have kids," or "# that's enough," or "you have your hands full" or that "children ruin your body" etc. I'm fighting against the women who say I am throwing away my college education by choosing to be a stay at home mom. I'm fighting against everyone who says family doesn't matter, or that it can be modified to mean something other than what God intended.

I'm fighting for the four little people who are growing and changing faster than I could have ever imagined. I'm fighting for their lives, their happiness, their essence and their destiny. I'm fighting for my family. I'm fighting for all the young women out there who understand how important it is to be a mother, or who are even interested in trying to understand. I'm fighting for the future.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Little toes 
push into my knees
His body is long
It unraveled overnight,
It seems.
His softness fades slowly
As I cherish the moment 
His even breath 
And arms around my neck
His persistence has worn me down 
But I can still smile 
as I listen to him sleep
It sounds the same 
as when he nuzzled at my breast 
Years ago now.
Tomorrow he will be longer still 
his cherub flesh stretching
Into boy.

Monday, July 29, 2013

I don't know why he swallowed the marble, perhaps he'll die.

But I sincerely doubt it and yes, I'm laughing about it now, why wait? The kids are so I'm joining in. 

I was cleaning up lunch and turn around to Z with a traumatized look on his face. What's the matter?
He starts to cry, "I swallowed a marble."
"What? A marble? Why? Really? Where is it?"
"I swallowed it, it's gone."
"Where was it?"
"On the floor."
"And it jumped into your mouth?"
"No. Well it slipped."
"How did you swallow a marble?"
"It slipped into my mouth."
"Why was it in your mouth? Just tell me the truth."
"It wasn't."
"Huh? What happened?" 
"I fell on the floor and it slipped into my mouth, it hit here (roof of his mouth) and then went in."
"Do you feel it now?"
"Well I guess you are going to poop a marble."

From the bathroom we hear a squeaky toy squeak. Giddy is washing his hands. 
"What was that?"-o
"The marble burping." -z 
And now it's a big joke about sucking the marble out of him.  Nev is singing about swallowing a marble. He and Olea are running around. He burps and says, my marble just burped. 
I pick up my iPod to journal the anomaly and he says, " Mom please don't call the doctors! Look I'm fine!"

Nev is doing a stand up comedy routine about swallowing a marble.

Real life. You can't make this stuff up. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Reusing toddler paintings

My kids have a sweet easel which they use love and abuse.
 I am happy to provide water, paper and new watercolors etc on occasion. 
And because I was a born and raised saver I like to use things to their fullest extent. So when we've appreciated a painting long enough it goes into the re-use phase. 
 I like to use their random paintings because most often at the ages 2-4 they are quite lovely color washes. I hand them scraps of card stock and then later use them to make greeting cards, or cut up their work to use on bag toppers or other crafts. 
We use the large paintings as wrapping paper etc. 

My mother in law showed us how to make crafty 3-D flowers. They kids enjoyed it a lot. However, flowers in nature aren't perfect and I don't have those scalloped dye cuts but I do have little hands that are learning to use scissors so on occasion I have set them to work cutting circles with those fancy pattern scissors.
I then have them arrange their circle-ish shapes in order of size and have them select graduating sizes. 
At least 4. I poke a hole in them all and they put a brad through. 
They crumple them up and then open it back up.
They usually do a few of these and then go on to another project and I save their circles and flowers for when I want to embellish something. 
I also ready their easel with new paper and card stock for the next time they get a hankering to paint. Which I hope is soon because I need more card stock color washes for cards. :)

We both win. They get to practice cutting and sorting and fine motor. I get to reuse their art and pass the pretty along. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

El Galeon and Andrea

We came up to St. Augustine with Gary for work so we could go to El Galeon together. It was too late last night after travel and work to go on it so we looked at it on the bridge and watched the drawbridge go up and down in front of us. 
We saw dolphins in the intercostal and ate dinner, watched a magic show walked the shops, a confection store, etc. I picked up some macaroons, a new favorite. 
This morning we checked out of the hotel after the power flickered a little and went to get tickets for El Galeon, but they weren't doing tours today because of the tropical storm. Gary and I were so disappointed. But here's the good news: the ship is docked til the 23rd. Still bummed but at least we'll have another opportunity, potentially. So we tailed along as Gary visited clients. Yay for a portable DVD player and a creative mom making Simon says style silent faces etc while Gary was on the phone. Gary decided to visit clients further north and hope for potential weather improvement to see El Galeon on the way home. 

We rode a car ferry, and got out of the van in the poring rain to let the kids enjoy the ferry to the fullest. :) Our change for the ferry was 4 water logged bills. 
We stopped to see a container barge while Gary booked a hotel. We discovered that Gary was missing his AAA card and we spent some time searching for it. He was bemoaning the fact that Giddy had probably lost it while playing with his wallet a few days ago. I called for a new card, punched the hotel in the GPS and we were merrily on our way again. 

We were driving along a costal road and I commented, "Instead of going home you are taking us storm chasing following the tropical storm Andrea north." He said, "it is on the other side of the state," "ya, but it's got to cross the state sometime, and there's the arms..."
We continue driving and see debris scattered and garbage cans upturned and things generally out of order. People are out inspecting stuff. Further along shingles ruffled and missing and then a deck in pieces smashed up against a palm tree etc.  We pull over and ask someone and they said it was a tornado that passed through just about ten to fifteen minutes ago. Our hotel is just up the road so we continue on and then I notice power lines down across the road and Gary stops because the road is blocked by police, we ask a volunteer for the best route around the downed power lines and turn around. 

As we take the detour I realize the time we spent looking for Gary's AAA card potentially was just enough time to save us from diving through that tornado. Call it coincidence if you want, but I'm calling it one of the Lord's Tender mercies. 

As we come on the east stretch toward the hotel you can tell the tornado ripped down that street, limbs and branches down. Awesome. It's still windy seems to be calming but we're bunked out in a costal hotel on San Fernandina Beach. 

Life is such an adventure. I'll Add some pictures later.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Bear and his Boy

 When Giddy was diagnosed with Wilms Kidney Cancer we were relocated to a small room lined with shelves on one wall, a desk and chair at the end of the thin room and two chairs on either side of a small round end table with a fake plant on it. We sat in the chairs and had time to unthinkingly look at the offering of comfort items a child would be given on diagnosis. When the doctor handed our all boy one year old a sagging stuffed teddy bear, it was not what either of us would have chosen for him, as cute as it was. It sat in the hospital crib with him that time while we did tests and waited for Surgery and healed from surgery, mostly undisturbed.

 I'm not really sure when it happened but at some point he began cuddling with it at night. 

Giddy had pretty good communication and speech by the fall of 2012 (to the point where I understood him better than his sister who was 2 years older, and we put her in speech) so one Sunday afternoon after a nap he and I were cuddling in my bed and chatting the way you do with an 18month old. I introduced him to Surgery Monkey and asked him what his bear was named. To this point we were just calling him Bear. I asked him a few times when he started saying "Dap" every time I asked and I'd repeat it back to him and he'd agree, "ya, ya, Dap." So Dap was named.
About six months later it occurred to me he probably was saying "stop" instead of naming his bear, all the same it stuck. At bed time or nap time he'd wander the house singing Da-ap while looking for him. Or we'd forget and put him to bed without Dap and he'd ask "Where's Dap?"

Recently he has been calling him Dappy. He will croon "Dappy" and snuggle him when he finds him. Sometimes he will find acceptable substitutes, if it is brown and looks like a bear he will cuddle it (when Dap isn't around) they are usually small Beany Babies. Dap goes lots of places with us though, he's even been on a plane and the oldest City in the United States.
Dap is loved at nap time and bed time and often any time in between.

He goes on Renal Doctor visits, and regular ones.

One Sunday he brought him to church and took him to nursery with him. We were all loaded in the van and had driven halfway home at the end of services when I hear Giddy say, "Where's Dappy, at church?"
"We don't have Dap?!" I ask.
He puts his hands up. "Dap at church."
So we turned the van around to get Dappy.Thankfully they didn't lock the toy cupboards like they normally do and we were able to get Dap who had been packed away with all the other toys. That would have been a looooong Dap-less week. 

We have been grateful for Dap and the comfort he brings to this little boy. He is part of a charity that supplies a new stuffed animal to children in emergency situations called Allie's Friends Foundation. Dap is part of the family now. :)