Monday, October 31, 2016

Punkin' Patchin'

Happy Halloween to you!
Our kids are so excited for all that the day has in store.
Last week we enjoyed a visit to the pumpkin patch.
I didn't bother to bring my good camera
and it was pretty cold and rainy,
but the boys didn't seem to mind!
They happily tromped around through the mud and damp straw
and picked out pumpkins
and enjoyed the festivities.
They are anxiously anticipating carving their jack-o-lanterns.

Then we came home and had hot chocolate and pumpkin chocolate chip bars.
A visit to the pumpkin patch even gets a Halloween-Scrooge like me in the mood!


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Pep Talk

This photo is a pretty good representation of Wesley's personality right now.
Earlier this week I was encouraging him and Lincoln to go outside and shoot some hoops.
Lincoln despondently threw himself down and said, "I can't do it! I can't!"
Wesley came up to him and said very firmly,
"Lincoln! Listen! If you say you won't be able to do it, then you won't be able to! But if you say, 'I can do it,' then you will be able to!"

It cracked me up because it is almost identical to the speech we give Wesley on a regular basis.
And it showed me, once again, that we have to be so watchful of our words and behavior,
because the kids mimic us constantly.
It certainly makes me feel a lot of pressure to know that everything I do is influencing our kids' behavior, thoughts, sense of right/wrong, and sense of normalcy.
It's truly terrifying to me at times.

But I appreciate the opportunity to constantly evaluate my life
to see if I want our children emulating whatever it is I'm doing.

Happy Friday to you!
Halloween is probably my least favorite holiday
(the boys are rather chagrined about my aversion to spooky stuff),
but I hope yours is truly wonderful.

The Big Kid Stage

I tend to get kind of grumpy about my kids growing up.
I've always loved little kids,
and I feel a sense of loss when I think of sending them away from my protective bubble.
I hate the thought of seeing them go through emotional pain as they grow.
And being a mom of small children fills my life with joy, humor, and innocence.

But there has been something amazing about seeing our oldest grow in maturity.
He just turned seven, and he frequently amazes us with the choices he is making independent of our immediate influence. It is seriously gratifying and it has made it easier for me to come to grips with him leaving the "little kid" stage behind.

Like when he told me about how he had seen a disabled girl older than him at school, looking at the playground. He asked her if she needed help and then helped her up the playground. I teared up at the thought of my little first-grader helping her!

Or when he gave me some chocolates he had received for his birthday before Church. After Church, I explained how I had started to feel like I was going to pass out in Primary and I was thankful for the chocolates in my purse, because I ate them and they made me feel better. He thoughtfully responded, "I just thought I should give them to you...I think the Holy Ghost told me to."

Or on Sunday--our stake (group of congregations) had some ward (congregation) boundary changes. In our church, we are assigned a congregation based on where we live, so these changes affected the church members people would associate with on a regular basis. After the meeting where these changes were announced, we came home and were getting the boys ready for bed. Talmage said his prayers and said, "Please bless all the people who got put in a new ward that they won't be sad and they won't miss their friends from their old ward." I was shocked at his sincerity, sensitivity, and thoughtfulness.

The other day I asked him, "Why do we follow the Prophet?" "So we can be happy," he replied instantly. "Why does following the Prophet make us happy?" I continued. "Because he speaks for Heavenly Father, and He is our Father, so He wants us to be happy!" he stated adamantly.

So even though he's starting to prefer "big kid" activities, and he is losing much of that precious innocence of childhood, and even though my days of writing stories about him whenever I want are numbered, and even though he is still a typical boy (i.e. chasing girls at the bus stop while holding worms...),
I am learning to love this stage with all my heart as well.

Check out Lynette's post entitled "In Defense of Teens" on her blog, Simply For Real. It helps me not dread the teenage years so much, either!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Back in the Day

Being a mom of four little children
sometimes feels like a big game of whack-a-mole.
The needs are constant,
someone is always hungry,
and I have gotten about 300% faster at folding laundry than I was when we got married.

There is so much to remember...
doctor's appointments,
reading minutes,
daily chores,
clipping box tops,
feeding times,
frequency of dirty diapers,
church responsibilities,
to pick up more pens at the store...

One night I'll be up late making a student-of-the-week poster
and the next I'll be up late trimming 40 lbs of chicken to put in the freezer.
Just when I think I've got my feet under me,
something unusual comes up that knocks them out again.

I am so incredibly happy with this life,
but it is definitely so busy.


The other day I was re-reading a blog post I wrote about Wesley's blessing day.
As I read those words, I was taken back to the days when Sam was gone 70-80 hours per week working, he had very demanding church responsibilities, I was trying desperately to adjust to two children, my oldest was struggling with the transition, and we were several states away from any family members.
I remembered those days that were so busy in such a different way.
And although life hasn't slowed down,
the busyness of today feels so much easier than the busyness of those trying years.

So grant me this flashback for a moment:

January 5, 2012
We have been meaning to bless Wesley for quite some time. We wanted to do it when Sam's mom and brother were here so his brother could stand in the circle, but it happened to be Stake Conference when they were here. So we made plans to do it the first Sunday in December. We neglected to remember to call a couple of friends in the ward to participate though, until the night before. So we decided to do it the following Sunday. That happened to be the day we took Wesley to the ER and spent a couple days in the hospital, so we finally got to bless him on Sunday, December 18.

Since we don't have any family close by, we weren't having a dinner or anything like that, so my one request was that we get a family picture with Wesley in his blessing outfit. Perhaps you can find some humor with me in how the day went:

-Our car broke down the day before so we had only one car and Sam had his meetings before Church started at 8:30. So he hurriedly came home in between his meetings and Church to pick us up.
-We got to Church, Sam took his place on the stand, I got a little girl to sit with the boys, and I went to play prelude music on the organ and help accompany.
-Sam, who was conducting, announced Wesley's blessing and I hurried down from the organ, got Wesley, handed him to Sam, and stayed with Talmage while Wesley was blessed.
-Sam then handed Wesley to me, I turned around and handed him to the woman sitting behind me, and then hurried back up to help play the Sacrament Hymn.
-After the Sacrament was passed, I took Talmage and went to feed Wesley.
-I got back into the chapel just before the intermediate hymn was to be sung and hurried back up to accompany that.
-After playing the closing hymn, I quickly gathered up our things and Sam took Talmage to nursery while I stopped at the library to get a few supplies for Sharing Time in Primary.
-The library (which isn't open before Church, so I had to go between Sacrament Meeting and Primary) was very busy and there was difficulty in finding my supplies.
-Sam helped me bring the large TV, movie, and pictures down to the Primary room.
-Primary had already pretty much started and I was supposed to conduct since the president was out of town.
-Because of a series of events I had only 5 minutes for Sharing Time so I quickly shared an abbreviated lesson.
-After Church we needed to hand out new manuals to the teachers and set up more chairs for the next ward.
-Wesley was still trying to get back on track with his eating and weight after his hospital stay and weight loss, so screamed the whole time we set up chairs.
-Sam returned the things to the library
-I hauled Talmage, Wesley, Wesley's carseat, Talmage's nursery handouts, my church bag, my purse, a large wooden block the Relief Society gave out for Christmas, and 2 coats to the Mother's Room to feed Wesley again.
-Sam helped process tithing and then we had tithing settlement, after which I hurried to a baptism since I needed to do the Primary welcome (again, since the President was out of town).
-Sam dropped off tithing at the lockbox at the bank and came back for the very end of the baptism.
-The pianist had to leave after the opening song so I filled in for her. Again, Talmage and Wesley were left with friends while I played the piano.
-We finally got home from Church way past Talmage's naptime, Wesley's front was completely yellowed with copious amounts of spit-up, he had blown out of his diaper all over his blessing outfit and I gave up on the family picture I had hoped for.
-Talmage napped and Sam left to take the missionaries to a fireside in Sugarland, returning around 9:00 pm.
-And that was that.

On days like that I just have to laugh and wonder how--when I can barely manage things at times with two kids--I will be able to manage many more. I guess we just take things one day at a time, huh?

I read those words and just want to smile and tell my former self to hang in there,
because things will get easier--
and you will learn to enjoy the busyness of it all.

Monday, October 24, 2016

When Your Husband is a Scientist

The other day, Sam was home alone with the older three boys while I was out with Maxwell.
When I got home, he told me that in my absence they had discovered that a loaf of bread had gotten a bit moldy.
It conveniently had small spots of white, green, and black mold, so Sam had gathered the boys around for an experiment.
They took pieces of bread, rubbed the spots of the different colors of mold (white for Talmage, green for Wesley, and black for Lincoln), and then rubbed the bread in the shape of the first letters of their names. Then they put the bread in ziploc bags and were waiting to see if the mold would grow where they spread it.
Over the course of this past week, the boys have been eagerly checking their bags of nasty bread.
And guess what?
Their experiment totally worked.

And that, my friends, is what happens when your husband is a scientist.


Friday, October 21, 2016

Make the Most of Each Moment


Time management has been a continual theme of my thoughts, prayers, and study over the past few years.
Each moment is so fleeting and every now and then the time I have wasted comes crashing down on me, carrying with it a wave of regret and desire to NEVER waste a moment,
especially as our children are growing up.

The trouble with motherhood is that there are so many tasks that rank fairly equally in importance.
And often the less important tasks are the more urgent ones, so more important ones get delayed.
It's been a constant struggle for me to figure out how to manage my time wisely as a mother.

I've improved a lot over the years, although I still have a long way to go.
Here are a few quotes I've found very motivating!

-"We give our lives to that which we give our time." -William R. Bradford

-"Time is a stewardship and my goal is simply not to waste any." -Dallin H. Oaks

-"With an uncluttered life, you will not be so busy doing Terrestrial things that you do not have time to do those things which are Celestial." -William R. Bradford

-"Satan has a powerful tool to use against good people. It is distraction. He would have good people fill life with "good things" so there is no room for the essential ones." -Richard G. Scott

-"We must learn to prioritize our choices to match our goals." -Ian S. Ardern

-"Distractions rob you of time that could have been invested in doing good." -Randall Ridd

"We are all indebted to God for the ability to use time to advantage, and He will require of us a strict account of its disposition." -Brigham Young (I think this one motivates me the most!!)

How do you fellow mothers out there manage your time and decide what to do when?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

He Thought We Didn't Love Him

On Monday, Lincoln came into the bathroom where I was getting ready and started to unroll the toilet paper.
"What are you doing?" I inquired. "Don't unroll all the toilet paper!"
He told me that he needed a telescope like the empty paper towel roll I had given the boys earlier.
Evidently it was bent and he wanted a different one.
"Just use that one!" I said. "We don't want to waste the toilet paper."

Lincoln walked out of the bathroom and I thought all was well.
But a few minutes later, he came walking up the stairs sobbing.
I poked my head out of the bathroom and saw him carrying an empty toilet paper roll with toilet paper trailing behind him up the stairs. My resourceful boy had just taken care of his problem in the other bathroom.
But why the sobbing?
"Can you fix it??? I wasted the toilet paper! I wasted it! Can you fix it?" he burst out through his sobs.
I wrapped my arms around him and tried my best to comfort him and explain that it was a mistake that we could try to fix and learn from. "Does it make you sad when you're disobedient?" I asked.
"Yeeesss!" he sobbed.
His crying continued for several minutes despite my best efforts to comfort him.
I was surprised because Lincoln is our boy that generally seems completely unfazed by discipline and usually seems to have little remorse as he giggles over consequences and wrong behavior.

Why was he taking this mistake so hard?

A while later a friend's little boy came over.
I didn't want to expose him to Lincoln's cold, so while Wesley played with his friend, I let Lincoln watch "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" on the computer in our room. It was an episode where Daniel gets mad and has to learn how to cope and calm down.
A few minutes into the show, Lincoln came running out of our room on the verge of tears.
"They're going to do a mistake! I don't want to watch it!" he said frantically. "They're going to do a mistake!!!"
I had a moment of realization so I reached down and lifted him gently onto my lap.
"Lincoln, do Mommy and Daddy still love you when you make a mistake?"
"No," he said sadly.

I was crushed.

Evidently our efforts to discipline with love had not been successful,
and Lincoln was feeling the weight of tremendous guilt and stress over his mistakes
instead of feeling love as we helped him learn and do his best to fix them.

I drew his sturdy little body close to me,
wiped the tears off his cherubic, rounded cheeks, and reassured him over and over of our constant love, even when he makes mistakes. He eventually returned to Daniel Tiger and life carried on as usual,
but I've been stewing over the situation quite a bit.

I love the new teaching program Teaching in the Savior's Way.
It's an excellent resource for parents as well as those who have been called to teach in the Church.
And it's interesting that the NUMBER ONE principle that is taught and emphasized over and over is "Love those you Teach."
If they can't feel your love, the teaching is largely ineffective.
The NUMBER TWO principle is "Teach by the Spirit." That means that my second focus needs to be on my own personal state of being. I likewise cannot teach effectively if I am doing so in response to anger or my life is not in order.
After those principles are taught and addressed, the manual explains how to teach.

My parenting is constantly being refined.
I learn more and more and I recognize that each of our children needs an individually catered approach.
Sometimes that refining process is painful and involves regret.
But regret is a sign of progress.
And so I continue to learn and to hope that I can teach with love as our Savior.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Friday Fun

Today Talmage's class has a pajama party,
so Wesley asked me if we could have a pajama party at home, too.
It seemed just right for this Friday at the end of a crazy week, and I quickly agreed.
So if you stop by, don't be surprised if we're all cuddled up in our pjs watching a movie.
Sometimes a fun Friday is in order, don't you think?

In other news, one of our neighbors gave us a few huge boxes for the boys to play with.
One was just perfect for turning our stairs into a giant slide, and it provided several days of entertainment for the boys.


Also, Lincoln's eye has been many gorgeous shades this week.
He has gotten to be quite a pro at reciting what happened in about 3 seconds flat,
as he's constantly asked about it.
Beautiful, right?!?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Calm for a Moment

Yesterday was Talmage's seventh birthday.
When did he get so old??
When did I get so old, for that matter?
We had a nice celebration together.
But today it was back to business as usual.

I've been feeling a sickness coming on for the past few days, and today it finally hit fully.
Talmage woke up with a sick stomach that kept him home from school.
He threw up multiple times,
one boy wet the bed,
one boy accidentally soaked his clothes when he was going potty,
the baby overflowed his diaper,
and one boy hit another in the head with a belt buckle which caused a very bloody gash.
I added bedding and lots of clothes to the mountain of dirty laundry
and spent the day trying to get my feet under me before the rental agency comes tomorrow to do a condition check of the house.
It kind of looked like a war zone for a while.

Things have settled down for now,
and I am thinking of the lovely, peaceful picnic we had on Monday evening before Family Home Evening.
We ate pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, chili, and fruit in the most magical place and enjoyed the beautiful weather.
It was the kind of place dreams are made of.

I love this crazy, beautiful life of mine.
With its mountains of dirty laundry and all.

Monday, October 10, 2016

2 Months

This handsome little guy is 2 months old.
At his doctor's appointment, he was 14 pounds, 2 ounces and 24.5 inches long,
putting him in the 98th percentile for height and 90th percentile for weight.
We adore this little giant!

He is starting to wake up more and he is intensely interested in what surrounds him.
He has the brightest, super-dark eyes.
I feel like he has an old spirit when I look into them, but when he smiles it carries up to his eyes such that they literally twinkle.
He lost almost all of his hair (except a patch in the back) around a month old, but it is growing back in nicely.
He is smiling and chattering quite a bit these days, and he is so close to a belly laugh!
He still loves to be snuggled and swaddled tightly.
He eats every 3 hours during the day and every 4 hours at night, usually for less than 10 minutes (so his size is kind of strange).
He blows out of diapers pretty much daily.
He sleeps reasonably well at night, usually waking up once to eat and then a few times to be re-swaddled. I usually cuddle him from 5-6 on the couch so we can delay eating until 6:00 which puts him on the right schedule for the rest of the day. That makes both of us happier!
I think he looks the most like baby Talmage, but he also resembles baby Lincoln.

He is a fairly content baby, especially if he is in his swing or laying under his play gym batting at the toys, but the trouble is that I'm the one who doesn't ever want to put him down. I can't get enough of his soft, warm, squishy self cuddled up with me.

I'm so thankful for each moment we have with this bright-eyed boy.

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