Sunday, April 30, 2017

Be Here Now


A friend of mine is a therapist,
and one of her colleagues, who has been a therapist for many years,
told her that so many problems could be overcome if we would all learn to "be here now."
He spoke of the mental challenges that take place when we live in the past or live in the future.
There is a type of therapy that helps some clients with anxiety where they tune into all of their senses and focus on what they are currently feeling, seeing, hearing, etc. Although I don't mean to promote the technique as a cure-all, focusing on the present certainly has its advantages.

I've thought a lot about this concept since she told me about the conversation.

Be here now.

It's hard, as a mom.
I never thought four kids sounded like that many (I mean, Sam and I have dreamt from the beginning of having 6-10!), but goodness, there is a lot to keep track of!
I've noticed that I am often so preoccupied.
The boys tell me a story about various heroes and the defeat of a villain and they are contented with an occasional "mm-hmm," and "Wow!" while my mind is elsewhere, tuning them out and thinking about what else I need to do.
I am so focused on accomplishing the task at hand sometimes that I forget to enjoy the process.
Lately, as we've been considering our future options more seriously,
my mind has been drawn to our hypothetical plans and scenarios to the point that it has become a bit of an obsession.
As a result, I sometimes forget to open my eyes wide and fully soak in the magic that is taking place right now.

Yesterday I went to a lovely women's conference that reminded me to be a joyful mother--
to consciously smile and to be a little less task-oriented and more process-oriented.
Today Wesley whispered into my ear at Church, asking if I could set down the notebooks in my lap so he could lay his head in my lap.
I stroked his head as he lay there, looking up at me with a contented smile on his face.
I fully took in his big, blue eyes and his long, dark lashes,
his constantly rosy cheeks,
and the gentle sprinkling of freckles that is beginning to crop up.
I felt joy in that moment.

I grabbed Lincoln's hand on our way home from Church and together we skipped down the sidewalk--
Never mind the fact that I was in heels and probably looked silly...
I felt joy in that moment.

I listened to Talmage pray fervently over something that has been concerning him
and then saw his prayer answered.
I watched him open the hymnbook at Church and sing the hymns loudly in Sacrament Meeting
while helping Wesley follow the words as well.
I felt joy in those moments.

I watched Maxwell as he found a glue-stick on the floor--a remnant of his brothers' creating--
and then stood next to a #10 can of dry beans, beating on it enthusiastically with the glue stick
while throwing glances over his shoulder at me periodically.
I felt joy in that moment.

And I felt my husband's comforting presence
as he walked up behind me in the kitchen, wrapped his arms around me, drew me close,
and told me that he loves me.
I felt joy in that moment.

I am on a quest to stop myself from being preoccupied and to immerse myself in the experiences I am having now--to fully enjoy them and to not just go through the motions.
I want to listen attentively to my kids, no matter how long-winded the story.
I want to be less rushed and to hurry them along less often.
I want to experience the happiness of a child as I join them in their simple pleasures.

In short, I want to be here now.
Because "now" has so much goodness and joy to offer.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Frozen in Time

What is it about memories that evokes such strong feelings in me?
I have always been rather sentimental...
when I was about 4 years old my mom was giving my favorite Mickey Mouse outfit to Deseret Industries (the DI).
I saw her put them in the box to donate and demanded to know why she was giving them away.
"They don't fit you anymore!" she said simply.
"But they don't fit the DI!!!!!" I wailed.

I am a minimalist and I love getting rid of things, and yet I am somehow completely sentimental.
And it doesn't take much for waves of nostalgia to come washing over me.
Every time we go to BYU, my mind is filled to overflowing with memories.
The boys love our visits...
and I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that every visit includes a stop at the Creamery for ice cream. *wink*
The Bean Museum has expanded so much since I was a student there.
It's pretty amazing to see the displays.
I love that it gives the kids a chance to see real animals up close--to study every little detail and soak in the beauty of God's creations. I always wish I could freeze a moment in time, and I suppose these beautiful creatures are forever frozen in their beauty and elegance.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

In Hindsight

(Summer, 2012)

Things are so much easier in hindsight, aren't they?

Tonight I re-read a journal entry from January of 2012.
I had a 2-year-old and a 2 1/2 month old,
Sam was incredibly busy with graduate school and was in the bishopric,
and I spent so much time alone with the kids.
Sam would come home late at night and leave again early in the morning.
Somehow the weekends were even busier than the weekdays.
It was hard not to become discouraged at times, as you can tell from my entry:

I was also feeling kind of bad as I discussed the difficulties of living here with Sam briefly tonight. A few minutes later, I was feeding Wesley and putting him to sleep and I started singing, “I Will Follow God's Plan.” I was very touched by the words, “My choice was to come to this lovely home on Earth, and seek for God's Light to direct me from birth. I will follow God's plan for me, holding fast to His word and His love. I will work. And I will pray. I will always walk in His way. And I will be happy on Earth. And in my home above.” The Lord reminded me through a sweet, simple Primary song that it is my decision to be happy. I can't let my surroundings determine the life I live. We felt guided to come here, and I feel strongly that Sam needs to be in graduate school. So even though it means a lot of loneliness on my part, I need to have faith in the Lord and in His plan for us. I need to trust that this will make me a better person and that we will come out of this difficult stage of life stronger and more unified than we were when we entered into it. It is our job to seek inspiration as to how we can make that happen.

Within just a few months of that journal entry,
things seemed to get so much easier.
I settled into my role as a mother of multiple children and learned to love where we lived.
It's so much easier to appreciate growing experiences in hindsight,
but I can honestly say that Sam and I came out of those years stronger and more unified.
I am so thankful for the past 8 1/2 years that have, in many ways, set the course for the rest of our lives.
We've grown a lot and learned a lot.
I find myself feeling more peace about my mothering
and yet simultaneously realizing that I can do so little of my own accord.
Trusting in God to support me in mothering has paradoxically brought both confidence and humility.
Isn't life such a wondrous ride?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Easter Symbol Dinner


For years now, I've been wanting to do more to celebrate Easter.
The meaning of the holiday is so significant, but I feel like most of the Easter activities out there, although fun, aren't as faith-promoting as I want them to be.

I'm still working out the details of the experiences I hope to create...
I have plans to start a collection of Easter music that we only listen to in the weeks preceding Easter,
and someday we will grow Easter lilies (my favorite, and the main flowers in my wedding bouquet!)
and fill the house with vases of them at Easter time.
We've enjoyed making "empty tomb cookies" and sharing the Easter story in Easter eggs in the past.
I also have plans for an Easter morning sunrise devotional tradition, but we haven't started that tradition just yet.

And so, despite my good intentions, this year Easter came and went with minimal celebrations at our house.
Each night during the week before Easter,
we read from the scriptures about what Christ did during the last week of His life.
On Saturday morning, the kids found their Easter baskets,
and that evening we had a special "Easter symbol dinner."
I had the kids remove their shoes, and we ate from all-white dishes.
Our food, although not really traditional Middle Eastern food, was simple to symbolize Christ's humility.
We drank grape juice and ate pita bread, honey, fruit, cheese, and avocado-tomato salad.
We lit 3 dozen tea lights and ate with the lights off, the flickering flames adding a sacred feeling to the meal.
We sang an Easter song before we began, and then we prayed and read about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
We talked about His miracles and the kids pointed out as many symbols as they could find in our dinner.
The next morning, the boys and I made "Resurrection Rolls," and while they baked we read some Easter storybooks.
Then, as they ate their rolls, we talked about their symbols and read about the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Later in the day, we had a nice Easter dinner with family and the boys got to participate in Easter egg hunts their grandma and aunt put together, which they loved.

I think our simple, reverent dinner was my favorite part of the weekend.
I'd welcome any ideas for additional sacred Easter traditions!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Papa Wes

I'm the 4th child in my family, and the 2nd child (my sister, Jocilyn) was about 4 years older than me.
She was a miniature mom, and as a toddler I referred to her as "Mama-Joc."
It's interesting to me that our 2nd child is now so smitten with our 4th child and is always toting him around, making him laugh when he's fussy, and saving him from danger. Maybe we should start calling him "Papa-Wes."

The other day we were out running some errands.
As we walked out of one store, Maxwell reached up and grabbed the receipt.
I didn't think anything of it as he shook it around and crumpled it up.
A few minutes later, we were on the freeway and I heard that terrifying sound of a baby choking.
I knew instantly that he had chewed off a chunk of the receipt and was now gagging on it.
Wesley, who was sitting next to him, began to panic and wanted to get it out of his mouth, but I felt that the risk was too high of his 5-year-old finger pushing it further down Maxwell's throat.
"Don't get it out!!!" I exclaimed, my mind racing.
Wesley began to cry with fear and worry.
Thankfully, Maxwell's choking stopped and a freeway exit was just a few hundred yards ahead.
I quickly exited, pulled into a gas station parking lot, hopped out of the car, and removed the paper wad from his mouth.
As I closed the driver's side door, relief washing over me, I told the boys,
"Let's say a prayer and thank Heavenly Father that Maxwell didn't choke."
"Can I say it???" Wesley asked.
And so he voiced the gratitude we all felt, and we continued on our way.
It was a terrifying moment, and both heartbreaking and incredibly sweet to see Wesley's reaction.
Maxwell is one lucky boy to have this big brother.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Day in the Life

I am often wishing I could be a fly on the wall at others' houses,
just to see how their daily routine goes and learn from their systems.
I can't be a fly on the wall,
but I thought it would be interesting to record everything I did one day,
allowing myself to visit my past later on as a figurative fly.
There probably isn't much to learn from my daily routine, but if you're interested in a fairly typical day (slightly more productive than usual because accountability works wonders!), read on!



4:29 am-Maxwell is crying. I sleepily ignore his cries for a while, then stagger into his room and attempt for a few minutes to soothe him. He isn't having it, so for the sake of sleep I decide to break my rule of not feeding him before 5 am and nurse him, wrap him up, and crash back into bed.

6:03-I turn my alarm off, scan through my phone for 2 minutes, say a prayer (in the bathroom so I won't immediately fall asleep again...), shower, get dressed, and quickly put on some make-up.

6:48-I wake up all four boys, we gather for family prayer, load everyone into the car, and drive Sam to the bus stop.

7:10-We're home and breakfast and morning chores commence. I work on cooking chocolate bran muffins using the batter left from the batch I whipped up the night before for dinner. Talmage gets ready for school.

7:30-We eat breakfast while I feed Maxwell baby oatmeal mixed with applesauce.

7:45-I put another batch of muffins in the oven, dress Maxwell, briefly research whether arsenic from treated wood leaches into soil when using wood for a raised garden bed- and then conclude that in modern times treated wood is safe to use.

7:50-Talmage practices the piano, Wesley and Lincoln do their chores.

7:59-I tidy Maxwell's room, make our bed, dry my hair, comb Talmage's hair, make Talmage's lunch and pack up his backpack.

8:30-The bus picks up Talmage. I nurse Maxwell, trim his fingernails, and lay him down for his morning nap. Deep breath. Morning rush is over.


8:41-Call my sister about picking up some wood from her, clean up the breakfast dishes, finish fixing my hair, work on the laundry. Wesley and Lincoln play a typical game that involves weapons and dressing up like knights.

9:39-Maxwell is awake. He is supposed to sleep until at least 10, but napping consistently isn't his forte...he cries for a few minutes while I finish folding some laundry and then I get him out of his crib and after a morning snack (applesauce and string cheese), I help everyone get ready to head out to the library.

10:13-Leave for storytime. The theme today is lambs. The children's librarian has gone all-out again and is dressed up in a lamb costume she made herself! The boys work on making their puppets and we choose some books to check out and swing by my sister's house to pick up some wood.

12:07 pm-Home again! I nurse Maxwell, lay him down for his nap, and make Annie's "bunny pasta" for Lincoln and Wesley to eat for lunch. I read them library books as they eat.


12:35-Maxwell is awake and fussing. I enter his room and my suspicions are confirmed--he has made a messy diaper. I change his diaper, wrap him back up, and take him down to the couch where I finish reading to the boys before putting Lincoln down for his nap.

1:06-Wesley works on his "Upstart" preschool while I rock Maxwell and read scriptures. Finally he falls asleep again and I lay him down. Wesley goes down for his nap and I head down to the laundry room to work on some laundry. I've fallen behind this week, so a mountain of folding awaits me.

1:46-Maxwell is screaming again. This is a typical afternoon...I wrap him back up and rock him to soothe his gurgling stomach (when will the reflux and spitting up settle down??). I settle down on the couch to read scriptures a while longer while he sleeps in my arms. The warmth and comfort of cuddling my baby boy puts me to sleep for a while too...I wake myself up by scanning through social media for a few minutes.

3:05-Maxwell wakes up--this time for good. I make some administrative phone calls and nurse him again.


3:19-I wake up Wesley and prepare afternoon snack and begin grinding wheat for the bread we'll be having for dinner.

3:39-Wesley has fallen asleep again. I wake him up and greet Talmage as he comes home from school. Wesley is asleep again, so I spend several minutes with him trying to really wake him up so he will be able to sleep at night. When I am convinced he is awake, I mix up the bread and visit with Talmage about his day while Maxwell eats some puffs in his high chair.

4:00-Time to teach piano! My students come and the boys gift me with a surprisingly quiet afternoon as I teach--they are all absorbed in library books for 45 minutes of the hour I'm teaching.

5:00-Piano lessons finish up, I wrap Maxwell up and lay him down for his evening nap before preparing the rest of dinner--white bean chili.

5:40-I wake up Maxwell, load the kids in the car, and leave to pick up Sam from the bus stop. (Great big cheer!) The boys struggle for turns to tell Daddy about their day...the ride home is always a bit chaotic.


6:00-We're home, we eat dinner, and clean up.

6:55-It's the end of the month and I haven't taken Lincoln on his outing yet. So even though it's a week night, I take him to a local grocery store where we get soft-serve ice cream cones and sit and talk in the deli. In an effort to have meaningful conversation with him in the car, I turn off the kids' CD that is playing. He immediately asks for it back on and I say, "I want to talk to you! ...What makes you happy?" He responds, "Listening to the songs..." So much for meaningful conversation.

7:30-Lincoln and I arrive back home, the boys take showers, and the bedtime routine commences. We clean up, Talmage and Wesley read individually from The Book of Mormon, we brush teeth, we read a chapter from the illustrated children's scriptures, the boys say prayers and we have a family prayer, we tuck the boys in and read to them from the scriptures and then from a chapter book we're reading together...all while Maxwell crawls around, wreaking havoc as he tries to get hold of choking hazards and play with the plug of the lamp. It's a happy, peaceful way to end the day despite the busyness of it all. After we kiss the boys good night, I nurse Maxwell, say a prayer with him, and put him to bed.

8:45-Everyone is in bed! We're pretty late due to Lincoln's outing, but we did it. I spend the evening sending out e-mails, writing a blog post, and writing in my journal while Sam exercises and does more work from home. I pray with Sam and individually and we head to bed around 10:30.
Another day is in the books.

********

As I wrote the activities of the day, I realized how drab most of them sound. Why do I love life so much when we do basically these same activities day in and day out? What is it about motherhood that is so deeply satisfying? Why do I feel like the luckiest girl in the world every night when I've spent every day folding laundry, doing dishes, wiping noses, and fighting sleep every time I sit down?
I guess it's all about love. It's amazing how service doesn't feel like a chore when you love those you serve so deeply. And in return, the love they show to me lifts me and surrounds me and blesses me constantly.
It may not sound glamorous, but this life is a dream come true to me.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Monday, April 17, 2017

Everything Seems Right

Life...
it just feels so crazy right now
and I'm continually fighting to find some sort of balance
between all of my responsibilities.

And then...
something like this happens.
The boys were outside playing and Maxwell crawled over to the glass door,
pulled himself up to stand,
and watched them play.
After a few moments, they saw him at the window
and they all came running excitedly over
and began banging the window, talking to him and playing with him through the glass.

And then everything seemed right with our little world, despite the constant chaos.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Therapeutic Dish Washing


Last night Sam and I got to go see the play "Oliver."
Sam enjoyed the book Oliver Twist, and an old roommate of mine was performing in the play,
so she got us tickets and we had a lovely time.
When I was in college, a mid-week date was a marker that a relationship was beginning to get "serious."
I guess the two of us are pretty serious by now.

We got a new dishwasher a couple of months ago.
But last week it randomly stopped working.
I called the rental agency about it, but they've yet to come fix it.
Strange as it may be, I haven't minded too much...
when Sam and I work together on the dishes after the kids are in bed
(I wash, he rinses),
it gives us a few minutes of quiet to visit and catch up.
We laugh at the Dr. Seuss-like towers he makes as he stacks the dishes on the counter to dry.
I hear about his day at work and he hears about my day with the kids.
I occasionally splash him with water, taunting him to retaliate.
And all too soon, the dishes are done and we tend to our separate responsibilities.
There is something strangely therapeutic about a sink full of warm water and bubbles.
That being said, I won't be upset to have the dishwasher fixed. :)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Greatest


I LOVE these people.
Growing up, we spent many Sunday afternoons at my grandparents' house,
exploring the land they lived on complete with its 2-story shed,
huge garden, and quaint orchard with the bench swing nestled beneath the branches.
In many ways, that land they lived on emulates what we hope to achieve in the coming years.

My grandparents have moved on,
but their newest home still has that special feel they create with my grandpa cracking jokes and spreading cheer (it may well be impossible to not smile when he's with you) and my grandma sharing stories of the past and looking out for everyone.
I'm so glad we got to spend a morning with them recently.

Lincoln has been insistent over the past few weeks that he wants to go to Norway on his mission because it "looks like a dragon." He was so delighted to learn that my grandpa served his mission in Norway!
They shared stories from their missions with me
while the boys played with Lincoln Logs and wooden blocks.
And then the boys played hide-and-go-seek in the basement while I sorted through some things with Grandma.
Lincoln was only too delighted to inform me that Grandpa had slipped him a chocolate or two.

I think it's so important for our kids to become acquainted with their heritage
and learn from their remarkable fore bearers.
I'm so thankful for these two and their influence in my life.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Adventuring


Pardon the lack of posting there...
Talmage had Spring Break last week and Sam was out of town for the first part of the week,
so we had adventures all week long...
we visited my grandparents,
stopped by the Payson temple,
dropped by the Bean Museum and the BYU Creamery,
had a game night and sleepover at my parents' house,
toured Welfare Square,
went swimming at an indoor wave pool,
visited the aviary,
and spent a day playing with cousins.
And that was all prefaced by a fantastic Conference Weekend!

Now we're back to normal life...
and it just so happens that I love normal life!
Tonight I burst out laughing when Sam told me the bread I made for dinner was "so good it's illegal in California." Maxwell has learned how to climb up the stairs, we are planning our garden, family reunions are on the horizon, spring is in full swing, and I'm one happy girl.
This is such a joyful, busy stage of life, and I can't get enough.
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