Saturday, December 30, 2017

I'm Back for 2018!

 Like it or not, I'm resuming my blogging this year!

All of the girls on Christmas Eve.
 I even had our skirts made
before December,
which is a big improvement over the usual "night before" game I play!

Social media has been cramping my style lately.  The Facebook algorithms are making my feed a bore, loaded with links and memes, instead of actual information about my friends.  I find myself spending so much time scrolling to find the good nuggets; all of that scrolling time is such a gigantic waste!  So, I'm taking a break to see what better things I can do with that time.  

This blog is one of the things that I've neglected.  I enjoy writing it and I especially enjoy having the record of my life.  It is a format that works for me.  I don't know if I have any followers left, but if you are still hanging around, great to see you!  I'll try to return to my old jabbering ways.

Let's have a wonderful New Year, shall we?  Let's find the joy, the good, the worthy.

You can't see him well, but this is our most recent family picture with
Elder Isaac Sanders phoning in on Christmas Day. (We are missing the baby who was napping.)

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Our Parenting Manual

One of our children suffers with a condition called misophonia.  In a nutshell, it is an extreme sensitivity to common sounds such as gum chewing and popping, mouth sounds, humming, people biting fingernails, hiccups, and when people rub their hands or feet together.  When she hears those sounds, sounds that might bother or annoy you and I, it sends her into a white rage.  She is learning coping skills and even how to sometimes control it, but it still often interrupts her life in discouraging ways. 

 I am also somewhat sensitive to sounds and so though mine is manageable, I do hear what she hears.  Depending on the day, I can be understanding and supportive or I might be impatient and wish her to just get over it (a command which is as unhelpful as it is impossible).

I want to share two experiences with her wherein our Heavenly Father intervened and helped me to  understand and help this child in a way I otherwise would not have been able.  The first happened in the evening as I was getting ready to go out.  Someone was making a sound that she could not bear.  She came into my bathroom in a near meltdown.  Because I could not help her when she was in such an irrational state, I had her sit down, put her head between her knees, and wash her face with a wet washcloth.  Slowly, she began breathing evenly and getting control.  I, in the meantime, was undergoing a transformation of my own.  When she first came in, I wanted to roll my eyes, tell her she was being irrational, command that she cowboy up and stop her belly aching!  Instead, as I stood there brushing on my mascara, I plead with my Heavenly Father to teach me what to say to her; something that would actually help her rather than make her feel worthless because she couldn't yet control those strong emotions. 

As her rage settled to despair, I knelt in front of her and heard myself say the most wise, most encouraging council. I reminded her that she was loved and continually prayed over.  I reminded her that Heavenly Father was aware of her and her challenges.  Then I said, "I know this feels like a life sentence, but it isn't.  You are already improving!  Every day you get a little bit better and you will continue to get better!  Have patience with yourself and with time you will hardly believe how far you will have come." 

I watched her eyes go from the black of I cannot take this to being filled with hope.

Then, more recently, she had had another difficult evening.  I talked her down and helped her to find herself.  After all was well once again, we knelt together in prayer.  After the ordinary pleadings of a mother about a beloved daughter, I heard myself say, "Heavenly Father, please bless this child as she struggles with this weakness and then bless this weakness to become a strength to her, that she might bless others because of it."

These were not my words, but because of my sincere desire and faith, the Holy Ghost gave me the words to speak, the prayer to ask, the blessing to invoke.

Parenting is difficult!  People love to suggest that children came without an owner's manual, BUT THEY DID!  We have scriptures and, if we are willing to listen to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit, we have personal revelation.  What could possibly be a better parenting guide than the King of Heaven himself?!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Kids are Funny

As we were driving,

Child #1:  First Presbyterian Church? How do they know they were first?!

Child #2:  I know!  I see those all over the place.  They can't all be first.  Wait, is that some kind of a chain? No, that's not the right word. Franchise.  It must be a church franchise.

Done with Phase One

We had a missionary open house last night for our son, Isaac.  He will be leaving on his mission to Scottsdale, Arizona in two days.  I kept the party pretty low-key, since we had been at the fair all week and I knew I wouldn't be able to do much to prepare.  A couple of weeks ago, I sat at my computer and found random facts and trivia about missionaries and the parts of Arizona and New Mexico where he would be serving.  I printed those off and tacked them to the walls.  Then, I went through pictures and printed off every picture I could find of Isaac in church clothes or doing churchy things (home teaching, Scouts, family visits to temples, etc.)

After everyone had gone, I wandered around my living room and looked at the pictures taped randomly to the walls. Without realizing it, I had inadvertently displayed a record of Isaac's religious education.  There weren't pictures of him reading the scriptures with the family or kneeling quietly in prayer or the many, many conversations we had over the years, answering questions or musing over doctrine.  But, there, in my view, was evidence of a childhood steeped with gospel teaching and participation.

In another, unrelated incident last night, I was reminded once again that I am frustratingly imperfect; that I am ignorant of many things and continually make mistakes because of that ignorance.  Satan introduced that element on the heels of something so wonderful because he wanted to spoil the beautiful evening we had had.  Though I have a long way to go and so, so many things to learn, that doesn't mean that I haven't given my all.  From the time that child was in the womb, he was going to the temple.  When he was mere days old, the hands of worthy Priesthood bearers held him and blessed him.  From the time he began attending church, his mother whispered words of doctrine in his ear.  Every trip we took, we went out of our way to find the temple--even if we didn't have the time or resources to go inside, we went to the temple to make sure that the children knew it was important enough to go out of our way just to see it.  We made sure he had regular Personal Priesthood Interviews with his father, went home teaching, and served others on his own, with his family, with his quorum, and with his ward and stake.  Church was always a regular thing and General Conference was an anticipated event, not a day to take off.  He was surrounded by good music, good books and uplifting images.  He has been given every opportunity for learning and growth we could provide.

Did we make mistakes?  Absolutely.  Did we miss opportunities?  Without a doubt.  Hath she done what she could (Mark 14:8)?  Yes. And our loving Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ filled in those blank places.

The other six will get the same.  I will stumble and I will fall, but I will also be running all out and giving it my very best effort. They are worth the struggle.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Timely Rewards

Two things happened this week that I have to put down in writing.  As my children grow older, this great parenting experiment is beginning to show its fruits.  And, the thing is, as you're raising the children, you don't really know if your ideas will pan out!  You can only hope you're fighting the most important battles and the little things you decide to let slip are, in actuality, the "little" things.  I got some evidence this week that we are doing alright.
Waiting for her prom date.
The first came from our oldest girl, Eliza.  She turned 16 just last month and has been wanting to enroll at the community college in the fall.  For home schooled students, this can be an excellent college entry point, since traditional transcripts aren't always applicable.  She had to take a placement exam.  This wasn't unexpected, yet I hadn't done much to prepare her for the test.  (Other than spelling bees in the car and random general knowledge verbal quizzes, I'm not big on testing.)  She placed in the college level English course; it was the same course I tested into when I was over two years older than she is now!  Boy, oh, boy am I proud of her!

Messing around for the camera.

 The second reward came from our adult son, Isaac.  He is traveling all around as a freelance ballet dancer.  He gets to meet all kinds of people and is frequently invited into the homes of either the artistic directors or the students of the different ballet schools.  Recently, at the dinner table in one such home, someone asked Isaac to tell about his friends, specifically asking, "Who is your best friend?"  Isaac's response was, "Well, truthfully, my best friend is my mom . . . or my dad . . . or one of my sisters . . . or my younger brother."  He realized that his family really are his favorite people and best friends.

And so, as I continue to struggle through each day, striving to teach these precious souls, I'm beginning to get a glimpse into what is on the other side.

It is valuable,

It is worth dedicating my life to this cause.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Kissing Through the Glass

This is why my windows are dirty.
And also why I don't care!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Glorious Snow

We are having the most beautiful winter.

I know not everyone loves the snow, and maybe I love it more than others because I'm not required to drive in it constantly, but the beauty of a winter wonderland is captivating to me.

This was my view from the couch one day just before Christmas.

Though we have had two weeks of seriously cold temperatures, the rest of the time has been perfect for playing outside.  The kids usually want to go out to play, but if they don't volunteer, I kick them out for a while each day anyway!

I love to hear the stories of their imaginative play in the snow.  

One kind of worrisome thing is our monster icicles.  They are 8-10 feet long in some cases.  Either the roofer or the insulators didn't do their job correctly and our contractor (who was never here) didn't pick up on the mistake.  We'll have to do some mitigating when we thaw out.

You can see that our accumulation is now higher than the steps on the kitchen porch!  So awesome!

I bought six canisters of family size Hot Cocoa mix when it went on sale last week.
It won't be enough for the season.

I feel bad for my friends who are in Hawaii this week.  They are missing out on our perfect winter weather!
Of course, at this rate, it will be here waiting for them when they get back.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Staying Up Late

I have finally figured something out about myself.  I know why I stay up too late reading my books.  I will often fall asleep in the middle of a sentence, my arm cocked at an odd angle, holding the book aloft until I wake up with stiff joints from trying to stay in that position, despite sleep's desperate call.

I turn into a five year old when I am reading late at night.  I'll shake my head, change positions repeatedly, drink ice cold water, take a run to the bathroom, even hold my eyelids open sometimes in an attempt to stay awake and read just a few more minutes.

WHY in the WORLD do I do that?!

Well, I had an epiphany this morning and I now understand my motive.

Every day, I have my list of chores that must be done to keep the house running and my sanity intact.  I make my bed, unload or load the dishwasher, fold some laundry and start a new load, make breakfast and read the newspaper.  By that time, someone needs a ride or help with something.  I finish that, run in to fold the dry clothes and start another load of laundry and put something in the crock pot.  This list of chores continues, yet throughout the day, I keep thinking to myself, "I just need to finish this and then I can go read my book!"  But it doesn't work out that way.  I finish the "this" of that thought and it is time for a diaper change or a trip to the grocery store or any other number of things.  When I finally finish my chores and sit down, book in hand, to relish in the story I'd been trying to get to all day, it is late in the evening.

I sit by the fire or cuddle in my bed and read, read, read.  Ahh! Here at last!  The house is quiet, no one is demanding my time or butting into the magical moment to ask if I know where their shoes have gone or if we can buy a dog (and what breed would we get if we do buy one).  Even the three year old is sound asleep and not destroying the house.

I have to read late because I know that when I get up the next morning, I'll have to go through the whole rigmarole before I get a chance to savor the written word.

So even though I am tired in the morning and it is hard to get out of bed, I keep doing it.  I'll stay up late to read because I EARNED it . . . and I have to make the most of it before I have to start all over tomorrow.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

40 Blessed Years

And that's a wrap!  My thirties are done and I am on to my next great decade.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Little Master Mischievous

Our three year old has me in a frustrated state of parental consternation.  I am quite at a loss as to how to train up this child.  I'm not kidding when I say that I have a mental countdown until his 4th birthday, sure that the simple change in number will change the child (don't laugh).

First day of Sunbeams.

He is trouble from the moment he wakes up until the moment he finally falls asleep at night.  And even then, he's only conditionally receptive (he sometimes has night terrors and he really likes to sleep with me).  Whether it's caring for his sister's fish (feeding it the entire canister of food), drawing me a picture (on the wall), or helping with the dessert (two fistfuls of cake straight from the pan), he is constantly on a creatively destructive path.

Tonight, after he fell asleep with his arm carefully around his baby sister, I remembered an old favorite poem by Edgar Guest.  It goes like this:

Little Master Mischievous, that's the name for you; 
There's no better title that describes the things you do: 
Into something all the while where you shouldn't be, 
Prying into matters that are not for you to see; 
Little Master Mischievous, order's overthrown 
If your mother leaves you for a minute all alone. 

Little Master Mischievous, opening every door, 
Spilling books and papers round about the parlor floor, 
Scratching all the tables and marring all the chairs, 
Climbing where you shouldn't climb and tumbling down the stairs. 
How'd you get the ink well? We can never guess. 
Now the rug is ruined; so's your little dress. 

Little Master Mischievous, in the cookie jar, 
Who has ever told you where the cookies are? 
Now your sticky fingers smear the curtains white; 
You have finger-printed everything in sight. 
There's no use in scolding; when you smile that way 
You can rob of terror every word we say. 

Little Master Mischievous, that's the name for you; 
There's no better title that describes the things you do: 
Prying into corners, peering into nooks, 
Tugging table covers, tearing costly books. 
Little Master Mischievous, have your roguish way; 
Time, I know, will stop you, soon enough some day. 

If there is one thing I've learned in these 18 years of parenting, it is that the hardest parts come and go in phases.  While I'll obviously keep using every trick I can muster up to teach him, help him feel safe and loved, and avoid the serious disasters, I'm going to take a deep breath and remind myself that
"Time, I know, will stop you, soon enough some day."

Or as JM Barrie wrote it, 
"Young boys should never be sent to bed. They always wake up a day older, and then before you know it, they're grown."

I should know.  After all, I used to reference the exact same poem to this wild three year old . . . who is now on the cusp of his 18th birthday.

Four will come soon enough.  Enjoy him, Mama.
Take a deep breath, remove the sharpie/scissors/sucker/stick/gallon of juice out of his hands
and enjoy him.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Kids' Resolutions

For several years, we have made a point of sitting down with the kids on New Year's Day to review and resolve.  We read over last year's resolutions, favorite memories, hardest things and books read.  It is fun to analyze our progress and rate our success.  It is often confounding that this or that thing was so long ago or more recent than we would've guessed.

The hardest thing for this guy last year was when he was weaned.  That was just last year?!
After that, we read some of this year's favorite memories, hardest things and books read.  Then it is time to make those new resolutions.  This year, I think just about all of the children want to cook more and to learn more recipes.

Yesterday, I pulled out a sheet of paper and asked each child what they would like to learn to cook.  With as many children as we have, if everyone cooks one meal per week, I shouldn't have to ever be in charge of dinner again!  Here are some of the requests:  yeast bread followed by homemade pizza, banana bread, homemade spaghetti sauce, black bean soup, raspberry pie, chicken French bread pizza, cabbage soup, and Mexican spaghetti.  Of course, for this to work, I have to be in the kitchen to teach the children, but just knowing I don't have to come up with the menu means one less chore for me!

My new Christmas present was a 16 qt pot.  Now I can make a super large batch of soup that will feed everyone for several meals.  Cooking vacation!
And more accountability for homemade meals means I will be able to stick to my resolution of using cash and avoiding the I'll just pick something up mentality of a busy mom.  We can do it!

Spaghetti Sauce Skills

Monday, January 2, 2017

A New Year

My beautiful baby, whose picture has nothing to do with my post.

I like resolutions, but not just resolutions, I like goals.  I respond to goals.  So, this year, I made a bunch of New Year's resolutions and downloaded an app with a bunch of ❤charts❤ to encourage me in keeping those resolutions.  (I thrill at charts that show progress!) And I'm off!

  • More reading (scriptures, books, aloud to my babies)
  • Less social media (only on my computer, not my phone)
  • More dating my husband (and not just running an errand together)
  • Pay cash 
  • Write more
  • Claim back my Project Mom title (stuff to build, things to create)
  • Have a stellar second (and final) 4H year with the pigs

Too much?  Probably.  But if one has high expectations, one will reach!

Happy 2017, friends! Let's get a move on!