Thursday, May 31, 2012

Real Work Brings Joy

David found this quote in one of his books, and wrote it up on the white board for us.

I like it.

Summer Bucket List

Today was the last, last day of school (Alec was done last week, and Ben was finished on Tuesday).  It's officially summer now, and we haven't yet been bored.  We're working on finding fun, growing and learning things to keep our minds and bodies busy and healthy this summer.

Here is the beginning of our summer fun school.  We brainstormed a list of categories (reading, geography, cooking, exercise, technology, family togetherness, art, etc.), and came up with about 20 different areas of focus.  Today, I made a list for each category, and taped them up to the window, along with a pocket for pencils.  The kids (and parents) are brainstorming and writing ideas on each list.  We'll see what we come up with tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Summer is Coming!

When I hear the word "summer" this year, I am having a unique set of reactions.  Firstly, I start hearing Beach Boys songs through a lazy haze.  Secondly, I wonder how it could be summer already; the weather hasn't yet turned hot, and wasn't Christmas just a few weeks ago?  Lastly, as I think about summer as it relates to the kids being out of school, I start imagining Paul Revere galloping through the house, yelling in alarm, "The summer is coming!  The summer is coming!"

There are  lot of things I like about the summer.  I like having less structured time, and not always having to hurry.  I like lemonade and barbecues.  I like getting together with families and friends.  I like watching things grow (around here, the things which grow best are teenaged legs, dandelions, and bindweed).  I don't like the heat; I don't like the dry (so why do I live in the desert??); and I don't like the chorus of "I'm bored!"

I am scurrying, like Paul Revere, to be prepared before the onslaught.  I've been working on making (again) our family binder, and also working on good things for the kids to be doing.  I suppose I'll post more as we get more into it.  My family binder ideas are mostly coming from a wonderful workshop I attended (given by Marvelous Marie at House of Order - love this inspired lady!), some from the I Heart Organizing blog, as well as what has worked for us in the past.

My summer activities spring from a wide variety of online summer bucket lists, reminders from the years we did Summer Scouts (our own homemade program modeled after earning Boy Scout merit badges), a few years of home-grown summer school (ok, I admit that I have a weakness for curriculum development), and inspiration from Power of Moms here and here.

I'm expecting good things from this summer - not great, because we don't need to be great.  Good is good enough.  And avoiding the "I'm bored!" will be even better.

These Are the Days

I love it when the weather finally gets warm enough that we can play outside - but before it gets so hot that we melt.  Usually we have a week or two of such loveliness between seasons, and I usually blink and it's gone, or I forget to go outside.  But this weekend, the boys noticed how nice it was, and they all trooped outside.  After our stormy outing to the air show, they wanted to bask in the sunshine and warm up while they ate lunch.  I can't blame them.

It was fun that they all lined up in a row there, outside our patio doors.  I need to get the patio cleaned off so we can enjoy it.  Oh, and a fence to keep in the little ones would be nice, as long as I am dreaming.  And grass.  We need the grass to grow.  You can't see it in this picture, but the lawn drops off sharply just in front of the boys.  In spite of the fact that the elevation of the patio lets us be seen by all the neighbors, we love to sit here, because it is so pretty.

In the winter, we can clearly see the mountain over yonder, and the lake betwixt.  When the trees are leafed out, we get to see the trees.  I love trees.  Maybe we will plant more trees on the hill and pretend we live in a forest.  I like where we live.  The Lord sure made a beautiful Earth, didn't He?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Air Show

We were planning to (finally) put in our garden today, and let our little plants start growing already.  But it was a holiday, after all, and we wanted to go out and do something fun.

So we jumped in the car (and the van, since we don't all fit in one vehicle), and drove.  For a long time.  Then we sat in bad traffic with all the other cars.  Then we followed traffic directors and got into a huge parking lot.  We all piled out, loaded up the regular stroller and the double stroller and our water bottles and our hats and jackets and blankets and folding chairs AND all the kids.  Then we started to walk and walk and walk to get to the field where we could watch the air show.  All the boys (including the Dad-boy) were really excited about seeing the planes.

And then, in the middle of our long walk, it started to rain.  It rained and rained and soaked through our hats.  The wind whipped rain through our jackets.  Our shoes got squishy.  Our faces were dripping.  David and Eddie were cold (Note to D & E: next time when Dad tells you to wear more than a t-shirt and light shorts in a storm... listen).  The babies were shivering.  It was miserable.  And then we noticed that there were more people leaving the airfield than going to it.  The show had been cancelled due to the wind and rain.  Drat.

So we left, and squished back to the van and the car, unloaded our now-wet everythings, and buckled back up.  We were wet and cold and hungry, so we went out to get some lunch.  We dried off while we ate, and the rain stopped!

We went back to drive through the traffic, followed the traffic directors, and got into the huge parking lot again.  We unloaded everything and the kids, and decided not to walk and walk and walk.  We rode the shuttle bus instead this time.  Angel and the babies were thrilled to be on a bus.  Freddie said we were on a "but."  He loved it.

We got to the field much faster this time.  The boys were so excited to see the planes on display, but Trent was anxious to see the stunt fliers.  I made them all stop for a picture.  Moms do that.

Angel was amazed that we got to walk inside a plane.  Here is proof that I went, too.

After we looked at a few planes on the ground, it was time to watch the planes in the sky.  

It was a fun day, full of noise and speed and daring (the guys loved it) and airplanes and helicopters (the little ones loved it) and family togetherness (Mom loved it too).

Oh yeah, and Ben was happy to learn that he isn't yet too tall to fly an Air Force fighter jet.  They have a 6-foot, 7-inch cutoff.  He can grow two more inches!  Whew.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Princess Bride and the Graduation Party

I’m writing this at four in the morning, watching Princess Bride with a bunch of newly-minted high school graduates.  Yeah, I know I just said that I didn’t like being up at 5:30 in the morning, and here it is even earlier.  Losing sleep over our kids is just one of those things that moms do. 

Alec graduated from high school yesterday.  Yes, just yesterday.  The graduation he had a few weeks ago was a graduation from our local university, as he was getting his associate’s degree.  Is he awesome, or what?  My boy has graduated from high school, with a college degree.  I’m so proud of him.  After high school graduation,  his school sponsors an all-night party, and we parents get to help chaperone.  It’s a good way to give then a fun party, while keeping it safe and clean.  I’m all for that.  And I like being involved in my kids' activities.

So that's how I ended up watching this movie at this hour.  I have to keep an eye on the kids who might be tempted by the dim room to be naughty.  I've got a good evil eye I can shoot at them.  But I don't have to, because they have all been so good.  I am impressed.  The worst (if you can call it that) thing I have seen was four boys, with empty 2-liter soda bottles and wheeled office chairs, jousting in the hallway.  It was a little wild, but ultimately harmless.  They are great kids.

Back to the movie.  “True love.  That’s the most noble thing in the world.”  That’s one of the best lines from Princess Bride.  Or how about, “Mawwage.  Mawwage is what bwings us togevvah today.  Mawwage.  That bwessed event.  That dweam wifin a dweam  Wuv.  Twoo love will fowwow you fowevah  So tweashoe yo wuv..."  

Treasure your love, indeed.  And then take a nap.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Family Scripture Study

I've been asked about how to have family scripture study, especially when you have children of different ages.  Well, you just do it.

We've read at dinnertime.  We've read just before family prayer and bedtime.  We've quoted scriptures at the table.  I've read to them as they eat breakfast.  You just pick something and do it.  If it doesn't work, try something else.  There are plenty of ideas on the internet.  Just make sure you read something, every day.  Teaching the children the importance of the scriptures is nearly as vital as teaching them the doctrine.  If they learn to love the Good Word, they will learn how to go there and find their own answers.  That's important.

Right now, we all get up and read scriptures at 5:30 in the morning.  It's not my favorite time.  At all.  That's the latest time that everyone is home in the morning, so that's when we do it.  The kids suggested it, and they have been getting up with very little complaining.  I have enjoyed feeling a bigger love in our family, and less bickering.  It's magic!

By the way, we invite them to read with us, and we wake them and remind them, but we don't force the children to join us.  They come because they want to, and not all of them want to... but most of them do, and it makes a difference.

I'm grateful that we have the scriptures, and the peace that comes into our home when we read them.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Charity = Love

I was beaten over the head (very nicely) with this scripture today.  Wouldn't it be nice if everyone acted like this all the time?  Wouldn't it be nice if *I* acted like this all the time?

I think I'll work on the "kind," "not easily provoked," and "hope" parts for now.  I'm not looking forward to the "endureth all things" part, though.

How about you?  What part of charity do you love?  What part is especially challenging?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Today I  was dizzy.  I felt rushed, spinning and swirling around in tight circles.  At every urgent turn, I only saw the same things I saw last time.  Hurry, whirl, dash, repeat.  Around and around I spiraled, always going, but never getting anywhere.

I took the hose out to water the new saplings we just planted.  I turned the water down and let it fill up the moat around the little tree, to give it a long, deep drink.  I watched the water tumbling down, bubbling, picking up random bits of grass and carrying them along.  The little stream ran and swirled, and a tiny eddy caught my eye.  A tan bit of something was floating in circles, without a way out.  I realized that I've been feeling like I was racing in circles, stuck in an eddy, taking on water, slowly drowning.  Blue.

In the afternoon, I ran out of the house to drive the elementary school carpool.  I rushed around the corner of the van, still feeling blue, and saw this: the first rose of the year.  It stopped me in my tracks.

This bit of beauty was the tender mercy I needed to remind me that the Lord loves me.  I stared for a few moments in spite of my need to hurry.  The longer I looked, the more loveliness I saw.

Boy, those roses smell sweet.  

Thanks, Lord.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Seminary Graduation

My high school kids attend seminary, where they learn more about our faith on a daily basis.  At the end of their four years of high school, if they have earned good grades in all their classes, they can graduate and get a certificate of completion.

Last night was seminary graduation for the kids in our area, and I was so proud to be there with Alec.  The program was nice, and the songs were wonderful.

On the way home, however, I think all the uplifting messages were lost when a neighbor let Alec drive home in his cute yellow car.

He was floating all night, and enjoyed the incredulous looks his brothers gave him.  What a cute boy I have.

More Mothers' Day

I almost forgot to tell about the fun gift David gave me.  It's one of those sweet fill-in-the-blank books that he wrote in and colored.  I so love to look at the world through my children's eyes!

All About the World's Best Mom

My mother has eyes the color of evergreens and a smile like a rising sun.  When she daydreams, she thinks about her family.   The thing she likes to do best for enjoyment and relaxation is decorate the house.  Of the things she values, I think she likes kindness and family best.  Her favorite food is chef salad and pasta, but she doesn't like big macs.  Mom likes me because I am very funny and cute to her.  I think she hopes that when I grow up I will be an astero fysist.  I like to hug her because she's soft.  If she had a lot of money, I think she'd want to extend the family room into the garage.  Mom helps our family by cooking dinner.  She spends most of her time doing these things: taking care of the twins, tidying the house, and napping.  She doesn't like messy rooms, so I tell her not to worry because I will do my best to clean my room.  For her, the secret of having a good day is having a good sleep.

Sincerely, David

Saturday, May 19, 2012

So Quiet

It was quiet around here this afternoon.  Trent was gone, working at a trade show.  Alec was gone with his Science Olympiad team.  Ben was mowing Grandma's lawn.  Chris was over at a friend's house.

It was so quiet and empty because we only had five children in the house.  Only five.

I'm laughing at myself.

I guess you just get used to what the normal is, and then anything lighter than that feels so easy!  Still laughing.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Family Tree

My sister-in-law and I had a little Pinterest challenge the week before Mothers' Day.  We enjoy looking at all the great ideas so much that we sometimes forget to DO the projects.  So we challenged each other to complete one of the beauty tips, or home decor items, or crafts, or recipes, or hairdos, or exercise routines we had pinned - or we had to start deleting them.  No!  No!  I can't part with my pretty pins!

So I made family trees for my mom and first mother-in-law.  It was roughly based on this lovely family tree that I adore (and I wish I knew where it came from so I could credit the artist!):

and this tutorial from the very creative Gardners2Bergers blog.  The picture I pinned on Pinterest says this when I click on it:

Then it tries to tell me that my project inspiration is either spam or inappropriate content, which is really funny because it is so far from either of those.  Anyway, their tree looks like this:

Becca has a very nice tutorial on how to make the tree using Microsoft Word.   I also used Word and WordArt to make my tree, but it was a little bit easier than how she describes the process.  It worked very well, but I'm not gonna lie - it still took a long time.  It looks like both of my inspiration trees start from you (or a couple), and traces their lineage back to parents, grandparents, great-grands, and so forth.  I started with my folks (or my folks-in-law), and showed their children as main branches (and their spouses), with all the grandchildren being at the ends.  I guess your ancestors would be the roots of this tree.  I like how it turned out, and my mom loved it (you loved it, didn't you, Mom?).

And that is my Pinterest project challenge that I made for Mothers' Day.  My pins are safe for now. The end.

Hamburger Buns

You know how Wonder bread has the reputation for being light and fluffy and... white?

Well, it doesn't always stay white.  It changes color when it catches fire.  Don't ask me how I know.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Easter Again?

Remember how I said that I was very sad because I had lost my camera?  And then that I was so happy that I had found it again?  Well, it took a while before I could use it because the battery was dead.  Which meant I had to find the charger.  Then actually charge it.  Then find the cord to connect it to the computer.  Then download the pictures.  You'd think this all shouldn't be too hard, huh?  <sigh>

Anyway, I found some fun pictures of Easter.  Here we have the anticipation of the morning Easter egg hunt.  Eddie (way excited), Angel, Freddie, and Georgie (who don't know what is going on, and don't care), and David (also excited).

This is how the hunt for the littlest ones went.  Freddie and Georgie spent most of the time picking up a random egg, peering into their bags, and wondering what was going on, while Daddy went bananas trying to collect eggs for them.  We decided that the pay-to-get-in Easter extravaganza place wasn't worth the money or the awful crowds.

We had another hunt in the afternoon - with family this time.  Now the twins knew exactly what was going on, and what was inside the eggs.  They were more than happy to break them open and eat up the candy goodness!

Ben and Chris were very good about helping the twins and Angel find enough goodies to make them all happy (for a small fee, of course).  Alec is evidently too old for all of these shenanigans.

Angel and David had to ride the stone lions in the entryway.  Angel is in love with lions, because Daddy told her a story about Aslan, from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  She had been having bad dreams, and he told her that Aslan would come and scare off the bad dreams.  She was comforted, and convinced that now "Asland" lives in her heart.  "And one day," she often tells us, "I will open my tummy and see my heart.  And I will open my heart and see Asland.  And I will be so happy!"

And lastly, during cleanup we found that Angel had mistaken some cute bunny candles (which are not edible) for the similarly sized and colored marshmallow chicks (which may still not be edible).  Yeah, she bit off the candle-bunny's head.  Yuck.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mothers' Day Gifts

I wanted to share the sweet sentiments in the Mothers' Day card Eddie gave me.  It starts out, "dear mom," in his neatest third-grade writing.  Then comes the xeroxed verse:

When flowers bloom
And skies are clear
And baby robins softly sing,
I think of you
Both night and day
And thank you, Mom
    for everything!

On the next page, Eddie carefully recorded his dearest sentiments for the mother he loves:

When skies are blue
and flowers are new,
When the world is nice,
you never think about the people dying to protect you.
Without them there would never be a nice day.

On the last page, in giant letters to fill the entire page, he scrawls, "you are the Best!!"

I love being a Mom and watching these boys grow.  This one has such a tender heart, and it's a joy to love him.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mothers' Day

So I tried a new thing on Mothers' Day, to think of all the other great women and mothers who have inspired and taught me and my children.  That way, I wouldn't get all martyr-y when it didn't turn out the way *I* wanted it to (and when does it ever turn out 100% perfect?).  Besides, motherhood is so much bigger than just little old me.

The day started out beautifully.  I had already made gifts for my mother and my first mother-in-law.  One was presented last week, before me mum went on vacation, and the other was put in the mail, all set to arrive late too late for the big day.  (Phooey!)  My second mother-in-law had a heart attack:  we papered her windows with melted-crayon hearts that the boys and I colored, cut out, and pasted on her front window at midnight.  (Really.  Ya gotta love teenagers for that kind of stealth!)

Trent made a delicious batch of homemade granola for breakfast, and presented me with a gorgeous red rose on a platter with little gifts from the boys.  Then, he brought out one of these:

How fun is that??  You can't tell in the picture, but ours is red.  We took it for a spin around the block before church.  We call it "Marriage Therapy", because we have to work together so well to avoid killing each other.  :-)

Church was lovely - Ben gave a nice talk about mothers and their divine calling, and the young men gave each lady a large chocolate bar.  I loved feeling the sisterhood of women with all the other fabulous ladies in my neighborhood.  How lucky am I to sit next to these shining examples of womanhood and mothering?  My heart was full.

It kind of went downhill from there, though, but I won't go into that part.  No day can ever be expected to be 100% perfect, right?

But now I'm thinking about that maybe our family needs one of these:

Yup, it's a ten-seater.  Or how about a pedal-powered auto?  Wouldn't that be fun?

I'm so looking forward to family bike rides, and glad, glad, glad to have a working bicycle.  I love riding a bike (I don't say "biking," as that sounds way more athletic than I ever would be).  I even rode up until about 8 months pregnant with the Angel ('twas easier than walking, actually).  I haven't ridden since the twin's pregnancy, and I've missed it.  Thank you, you wonderful man of mine!

Friday, May 11, 2012


I'm tired.  I'm always tired.  Trent often invites me to stop and take a nap, but I can't.  I would get interrupted so many times that I would get grumpy and the attempt at sleep would be not only futile, but frustrating.  So I just ought to get to bed earlier.  That would mean I'd have to get the kidlets to bed earlier.  The thought makes me even more tired.

This is how bedtime goes down around here:

When the big kids were the little kids, 7:00 was pajama time.  The day was ending; we were beginning the bedtime routine.  By 7:30 we were brushing teeth and saying prayers and reading some scripture together.  Bedtime came quickly, all the small fry were tucked in, and Mama and Daddy had some grown-up time.  It was lovely.

As they got older, we kept to the same schedule, but only the littlest ones went to bed after family prayer.  The older kids got "lights on time," which was quiet, in-your-bed reading time.  "Lights on time" was longer for the older children, and shorter for the middle ones.  After getting the babies in bed, I would go through the children from younger to older, spending a few minutes with each one before "lights off time" meant they really had to go to sleep.  Took longer, but still worked well.

These days, it takes half an hour just to gather everyone in the same room.  It is like herding cats sometimes.  We still have family prayer together, but that is where the similarity to our former routines stop.  David and Eddie head downstairs to bed right after prayer, with Chris soon thereafter.  Trent and I start changing diapers and wiggling three toddlers into pajamas.  After a while, I hear giggling, then shouting, and I have to go downstairs and chase Chris out of David and Eddie's bedroom.  Back up to find the babies in the fridge.  Trent gets things set up in the kitchen, because he is the breakfast guy.

Later, I notice that the light in the family room is still on, and I try to convince Ben to quit reading and go to bed.  I repeat this every few minutes for the for the next 20, or until he has finished the book (he's a very fast reader).  I find the pink quilt that Gram made for Angel, and brush her teeth.  One twin is begging for toothpaste, so I brush both twin's teeth, whether they both want it or not (tooth brushing is sometimes easier when they are screaming with mouth wide open than when they are biting the brush, by the way).

I scold Chris for bothering his younger brothers again. pick up all the books Georgie just pulled out of the bookshelf, tell Angel it's time for bed ("I just want three more minutes, Mom.").  Pull Freddie off the kitchen counter, tell Angel she has two more minutes, find Alec playing computer games.  Turn the lights out for Ben, still reading, wonder why Trent has holed up in his office, holler at David to be quiet and go to sleep already!  Tell Angel yes, it is really time for bed, because it is dark outside.  She needs to go potty, have a little drink, be tucked in, have two stories, one song, and say her prayers.  She gets upset if we change the ritual.

I go back upstairs to only find one baby, happily playing with computer cords.  Say goodnight to Ben, tell Alec that it is really time to quit, and find the other little guy punching holes in a package with a push pin.  I sit on the couch and ask, "Milk?" and they come a-running.  This is our favorite time of the day.  I relax and nurse the babies, we snuggle until they get milk-drunk and drowsy.  Trent comes in and dims the lights, then helps me carry them to bed.  It's not unusual for a teenager to come sit by me and want to talk, and I oblige.  If I want to really connect with them, I have to do it when they want to - often later in the evening - and I love it.

Then I should go to bed, but I don't.  Instead, I suddenly want to do big-person projects that I can't do with little ones underfoot.  I want to write about our day, organize pictures, pay bills
(ok, I really don't want to pay bills, but I often do it anyway), read the news, paint something, read just for fun...  And I go to bed late.  I ought to quit it, I really should.

<sigh>  Goodnight!  (after I just glance at the newspaper...)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Some Days Are Like That

You're stuck.  And then you whine some,  grunt some, fix the problem, and move on.

All better!

Whipped Cream

You should see what the twins got into tonight when, all by themselves,  they got the fridge open.

Yup.  Nearly a whole tub.

Can't get too mad at them - I'd eat it too, if I thought I could get away with it.  But I wouldn't waste perfectly good whipped cream by finger-painting the inside of the fridge.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

About Tears

Being a mother is not easy.  Let me say that again.  Being a mother.  Is. Not. Easy. But I get better at it as I go along.  Some of the things which troubled me as a young mother have become easier.  There are an awful lot of things I wish I'd known when I started.  I can't count the number of times I've kicked myself and shouted, "Why did it take me five (or six, or seven, or even eight) babies to figure this out?"  But I do wish I'd known then some of the things I know now.  Here is another post in a What I Wish I'd Known (or WIWIK) series.

When I was a new mother, It wasn't uncommon for me to have a little nervous breakdown in the middle of a project that wasn't going very well.  I had such high aspirations for sitting down and teaching my children the principles which were an integral part of me.  And when they didn't listen - nay, when their father was playing cars on the floor with them while I was trying to teach a lesson, I got a little bit frustrated.  Or when, in the midst of making lovely hand-made cards for my mom and mother-in-law for Mother's Day (I mean Mothers' Day, of course!), little Ben has to fall off the table and break his collarbone... frustration city leading to nervous breakdown-ville.  I shed a lot of tears over times that were trying, over projects that went bananas, over parenting mishaps, over discarded goals.  Mothering was sometimes a very hair-pulling, scream-into-a-pillow, cry-a-lot, discouraging venture.

I wish I had known that there were also happy tears.

I know I had happy moments, and out-of-your-heart joyful moments.  Most of the time, I was quite content and cheerful with my little family.  But I didn't know that my tears could be just as heart-wrenchingly happy as they were heart-wrenchingly difficult.

Tonight, I attended Ben's last band concert of the year.  My mother-heart just filled up, brim-full to see him walk confidently onto the stage, carrying his beloved trombone, and sporting his dashing tuxedo. I am so honored to be the mother of this boy, this on-the-verge-of-manhood lad, this son of mine, filler of my heart for the past nearly 16 years.  And then his band played one of the most beautiful love songs ever: Song For Lyndsay, written by Andrew Boysen to his wife, Lyndsay.

I cried.  My heart was so full it leaked out my eyes, I guess.  It's pretty amazing that mothering could be so huge and wonderful and humbling, but it is.  It is.

I wouldn't choose anything else.

That's all.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Story of the Spider

(A living room in the mountains.  Late evening.  MOTHER sits on a sofa, hair mussed, two sleepy babies in her arms.  She looks tired.)

          (Little girl voice, interested but not scared, coming from stage right.)
Mommy!  Come see the spider!

          (Stirs, looks, sighs.)

It's crawling.  Mommy, the spider is crawling!

          (Enters stage left, looks at MOTHER tenderly, crosses stage in long strides, exits stage right.  We hear loud STOMP!  Enters stage right, walk toward MOTHER.)

I guess the spider won't crawl any more.

          (Starts to laugh uncontrollably, slowly exits stage left, still shaking with laughter.)


Happy Motherhood Day

I had an interesting, and slightly uncomfortable insight the other day, and it has to do with guilt, Mother's Day and Carly Simon's song "You're So Vain."  Quite a combination, don't you think?

You can watch it again, just for nostalgia, if you'd like.  Or not.

My thought is this:  I'm so vain.  I probably think Mother's Day is about ME.

And that's why it's often such an awful day for me.

It starts long before the actual day, when everyone is inundated with advertisements for jewelry, restaurants, getaways, spas, and everything else trying to hawk their wares on "that special lady in your life."  It kinda gets your hopes us.  I get my sweet little handmade presents from elementary school children as soon as they get home from school because they can't wait until Sunday to give them to me.  This is my favorite part.  But on the actual Mother's Day, I feel waves of guilt, martyrdom, and disappointed.  

Guilt comes because I'm not the perfect mother everyone talks about - I fall far short of Norman Rockwell ideals.  I feel grouchy because I should have the day off, shouldn't I?  And I still have to take care of (list seventeen daily chores here).  Me, the Mother Martyr.  And I get discouraged because I don't get all the pampering and the "things" the ads have just told me I deserve.  And then I feel more guilt because I should be a smiling, happy mother - and I'm so not feeling smiling or happy.  How do you like all the guilt and the "should"s?  No, I don't like them either.

So this year, I've decided that Mother's Day is actually Mothers' Day.  It's not about one mother.  Motherhood is so much bigger than just little old vain me.  It's about my amazing mother.  And her uber-talented mother.  And my dad's excellent homemaker mother.  And my loving husband's fabulous mother.  And my loving first mother-in-law.  And about the wonderful women who have helped mother me.  And the outstanding women who help me mother my children.  And it's about motherhood in general, and about how privileged I feel to be a mother.  And Mothers' Day is about how I can teach my children to celebrate and respect motherhood.  Mothering is wonderful and awe-inspiring - I'm so honored to be a mother.

But Mothers' Day is not about me.  Really.  (I'll get my pampering on MY day - my birthday.)  (But that doesn't mean I won't accept chocolate.)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

About Differences

Being a mother is not easy.  Let me say that again.  Being a mother.  Is. Not. Easy. But I get better at it as I go along.  Some of the things which troubled me as a young mother have become easier.  There are an awful lot of things I wish I'd known when I started.  I can't count the number of times I've kicked myself and shouted, "Why did it take me five (or six, or seven, or even eight) babies to figure this out?"  But I do wish I'd known then some of the things I know now.  Here is another post in a What I Wish I'd Known (or WIWIK) series.

Years ago, we purchased an ugly little house.  It had four-foot weeds for a front yard;  rocks and tumbleweeds for a backyard.  The garage looked like an abandoned barn (with no door), and the house itself looked like a boring warehouse.  We put a lot of time and energy into that house, and got it downright presentable.  There were lots of scuffs and dings on the walls inside, but I didn't want to repaint everything, so I took a chip of the paint to the store and got myself a gallon of perfectly matched paint.  I wasted no time in painting every one of those marks - it was a wonderfully productive day.  As the sun set, and the slanting light came through a different window, however, I did the V-8 forehead handslap.  The colors were exactly the same, but I could clearly see every patch I had just painted.  The old paint was a satin finish; the new paint was flat.

Our walls were cream, not red, but this shot shows how the same color can can look totally different in the light.

I wish I had known that no two things are ever exactly the same - especially children.  

I bet you hear some of the same complaints I do:
     "It's not fair!"
     "His cookie is bigger than mine!"
     "But you let him _________!"
     "But he didn't have to _________!"
     "I have to do more than him?"

And it's ok.  No two kids are ever going to be exactly the same - not even my "identical" twins are really carbon copies.  And I wouldn't want them to be.  I cherish the unique traits that make each of my children special.  And because they have different strengths and different weaknesses, different interests and different challenges, it's ok if I parent them differently.

As a kid, I didn't mind a spanking, but I hated being grounded.  David withers with a scolding.  Chris would rather die than have his computer privileges suspended.  Ben wants to drive so badly he can taste it.  Alec craves independence.  David thrives on approval.  So my rewards and punishments don't have to be the same.  In fact, our consequences are more effective if they are custom-tailored to each child.

And when they complain (because they will), I can tell them that I know it's not the same, but different can still be fair.  And I can tell them that I am able to parent each of them differently because I know them individually, and because I love them completely.  I can tailor their consequences - and rewards - to what they need to become stronger individuals.  I think that's kind of how God parents us, isn't it?  And we complain, too.  Maybe I ought to do less of the griping.

That's all.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Poor Plants

I've been reading recent posts about houseplants with a modicum of interest. 

 (from one of my favorite sites:

Maybe a smidgen more than that.  You see, I love plants.  I like them outside;  I like them inside.  I like them in the rain and on a train...  (too much Green Eggs and Ham.  Sorry)  I like how they liven up a room, and I really like how they clean our air.  I love how they connect me back into God's beautiful world.

Twenty years ago, my mother gave me a few cuttings from her plants.  As a new bride, I carefully started them, and cared for them in our sparse little apartments.  But then a few college moves became a few more, and one move after another, we lost our plants.  They didn't fit in the truck, or they tipped over, or they wouldn't survive the trip so I gave them to neighbors...  I'm still sad about the demise of my plants.

So I bravely tried again.  I bought a few little plants from the store and put them in cheap (but cute) little pots.  I water them when I remember, and try not to remember too often.  And then I remember the real reason why I haven't had plants for the last decade or so:

Yes, that is a dumped-out pot and an uprooted plant.  Poor plant.  I hope it will recover.  (And yes, they had fun playing in the dirt in MY room when they were supposed to be taking a nap.  They are boys, after all!)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Scouting Awards

We've been busy around here.  We are big into Boy Scouts of America.  With seven boys, it's a natural.  Alec earned a palm (the next award after you earn your Eagle Scout), and David earned his Arrow of Light award (the highest honor in Cub Scouts).

What good-looking boys!  Naturally, I'm proud of them both.  And thankful for the great scout leaders they have had.  And now, I'm tired.  All that work wears me out.  Just like this:

Goodnight, sweethearts.

Bad For Me

I was running errands today and saw a big, jacked-up pickup truck - we call them "virility vehicles."  It had  modified exhaust pipes just behind the cab, and as I watched, it roared away, belching clouds of black exhaust.  My first thought was to roll up the widows.  I don't want to breathe air I can't see through - air that I'd have to chew up before I could choke it down.  Blech.

As I drove away, grateful for the breeze of fresh air coming in my once-again-opened window, I was thankful for clean air.  I have to keep the windows down because the little car doesn't have air conditioning, so I'm more aware of the air.  And I wondered.  Why couldn't that guy see how much he was polluting the air?  Did he not care?  Did he just not see all of the mess he was leaving behind?

Obviously, that black plume was neither natural nor healthy.  What if other not-good-for-you things were that obvious?  Imagine pulling up to a fast food place, going through the drive-through, and being handed a sack with black tendrils of stench wafting out.  Or a menacing cloud lingering over the candy counter.  We'd be sure to steer clear.

How about other unhealthy things?  I remember a Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (love those books!) story about children who told lies, or said bad things.  She gave them a medicine that made oily black bubbles come out of their mouths and hang grotesquely over their heads.  What if an asphalty fog escaped our mouths when we told a "white" lie?  Or a dirty billow during an argument?  Or just a little black cloud over your head when you allowed a foul mood to control your attitude?  We would all learn to avoid those bad things.  Wouldn't life be nicer?

Pulling onto our street, I realized that I do have the ability to recognize when things are bad for me.  My soul can feel that negative smog when I enter into a questionable situation, or when I am tempted to say less-than-cheerful words.   I need to turn up the volume there, and pay more attention to how I am feeling.  Tune in to those little prompting inspirations..  I think not listening to my internal pollution warning system is bad for me.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Family Funnies

Chris made a tank out of rice crispie treats, then had to photograph it because, "My friends and I are having a contest about making edible tanks."  Ok then.

The Angel's favorite new word is "dee LISS uss."  She draws it out, rolling the word around in her mouth, savoring it.  I'm glad she likes my cooking.  She wore a new (to us - love hand-me-downs!) dress to church on Sunday.  When I helped her pull it on, she reverently gasped, "Oh, it's wunnerful!"  The top was velvet;  I stroked it and asked, "Now how soft is that?"  She thought for a moment and answered, "About twenty."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Found: My Camera

I got a new camera for Christmas.  It's nothing fancy, but it was cheap (bought it at the pawn shop!) and it does work better than the old one, whose flash died when I dropped it onto the stone floor.  (note to self: don't drop electronics onto hard surfaces)   Unfortunately, I lost it a few weeks ago, and have been anxious ever since.

I last saw it when I was getting ready to go out for the evening.  It was on my computer desk, and I made a mental note to move it before I left.  Unfortunately, that mental note was neither written in triplicate, nor filed properly.  When I came back home, the camera was nowhere to be found.  Ben remembered one of the babies pointing to it, but he didn't remember where it was.  After a few searches, we gave up.  Trent was sure it had been lovingly placed in the garbage by some pudgy little fingers (which has been the fate of some of their favorite toys before we fished them out).

But now - I found my camera!  It was in a box of papers that were waiting to be filed.  Hmmm.  Maybe I ought to file more often?  But now I can take pictures, with a flash, that might look better than this one:

Or maybe it's a good thing the potty-party-picture didn't turn out so well on the old camera...


Yesterday was a Monday, although a very lovely one, weather-wise.  I went outside and picked some of our fragrant pink blossoms to bring in.  I love having flowers inside, and one day, I'll have a cutting garden where I can pick all I want.  And one day, I won't have little ones to help me.

<sigh>  And that was one of my favorite vases, too.  And one day, maybe I ought to have shelving running around the TOP of each wall, where little ones can't reach.