Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dress Up

Thanks for joining me for this month-long writing challenge.  I've learned some, and been reminded of more.  And to finish out my month of ways to be happy, a few fresh-today photos of what makes me the most happy.

Thing 2 (Georgie), Cat in the Hat (Angel), and Thing 1 (Freddie).  The twins were type-cast this year.

David as a Dementor.  Had to take the face-mask part of his full-body shadow off during school, but had a good time with it.

Giant teddy bear (Chris) and Aloha tourist (Ben).  Chris threatened bad things if we asked what the fox says, so I won't.

Eddie as a bearded minion.  He is truly in love with the beard beanie I made for him.  Now Trent wants one.  And David.  And Eddie wants another one...

Because I love being a mom.  These kidlets make me happy like I wouldn't ever have been able to imagine.  This is the first year in a while that I didn't make myself a costume.  That's ok.  I'd rather be a happy mom than a dressed-up, stressed-out mom, and that's what it boiled down to this year.  Next year, though...

Just for today, dress up and look at the world from a different perspective.  You might be surprised how fun it is.  Or jump on a bed.  That always helps happy.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Read Something Happy

A few of my favorites.  The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin.

My sister-in-law sent me this book a few years ago, and it is still one of my favorites.  Lotsa good stuff in here.  Also see the Gretchen's happiness website here.  Lots more good.

Here is one I'm currently reading: Happiness by Joan Duncan Oliver.

And my favoritest happy book ever, Lighten Up by Chieko Okazaki.  She has got to be one of the most cheerful people I've ever wanted to meet.

Just for today, read something happy.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Settle and Un-Busy-fy

Un-busy-fy.  I like my new, made-up word.  I think, and I think most of us agree, that we are often too busy.  And sometimes busy just for the sake of being busy.

Dieter Uchtdorf, the man whose impeccable German accent reminds me of my own dear Opa, said it this way:

Isn’t it true that we often get so busy? And, sad to say, we even wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as though being busy, by itself, was an accomplishment or sign of a superior life.
Is it?
I think of our Lord and Exemplar, Jesus Christ, and His short life among the people of Galilee and Jerusalem. I have tried to imagine Him bustling between meetings or multitasking to get a list of urgent things accomplished.

Slow down.  Do the important things.  Enjoy the people around you.  Drink up the fall colors.  I'm talking to myself, as a result of my overly crazy self these past few days.  And that's all I'm going to say, because I'm getting off the computer to go read a story to my kidlets and love on them.

Just for today, settle your brains for a few minutes, un-busy-fy, and really live.  Then jump back in if you must, a bit happier.

Monday, October 28, 2013


I have the funniest kids.  Well, maybe not the funniest.  That honor probably goes to my sister-in-law, whose children are constantly saying the most hilarious things.  But we have some pretty funny things going on here, too.  And the laughter that my children create helps to balance out the wild and stressful and not-so-funny times.

Yesterday, the twins came home from the nursery at church wearing spider hats.  I think they talked about the creation/Halloween.  Creative mix.  Georgie was running around the house and Angel and her little friend were running from him, screaming.  He wasn't chasing them; he just wanted to play with them.  As he ran through the living room, he yelled at them, "Don't run!  The Georgie-spider is nice!"

Angle got tired and spent half an hour telling me all that was wrong with the world as I held and quieted her.  In the middle of a sentence, she interrupted herself to pose the question, "What if we ate a bus?"  He abrupt shift of topics led to her telling me about stone-and-marshmallow sandwiches.  A few minutes later, after gesturing to show how big something was, she exclaimed, "Hey!  I wish I didn't have a thumb!"

Georgie was growling, pretending to be a hungry lion.  Calmly, Freddie asked, "Are you mad?"  Pause.  Renewed growling.  "Yes!"  Still calm, Freddie replied, "Don't be mad so I can look at you."

Freddie fell down and got a minor hurt.  He came running for me and climbed on my lap.  Stroking his hair, I told him that I loved him, then asked, "You are getting so big!  What will you do when you can't fit on my lap anymore?"  He thought for a while before answering, "Um... eat spicy sauce."

This quote is from Marjorie Hinckley, one of my mothering heroes, and it's literally true for me.  Many are the times I've made a feeble joke in the hopes it would ward off tears.  It almost always works.

Just for today, find something funny or even ridiculous and laugh.  It helps happy.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Be Patient With Yourself

I had a million things going on.  And at least half of them were things going wrong.

I had to make emergency runs (yes, plural) to the big box store and to the grocery store.

We got all out-of-whack about out meal schedule, which ends up meaning that we have kids at random times who get hungry or grouchy when they didn't eat at the last meal because they were still too full from the meal before.  I can be more flexible with meal times when there are fewer people around, but with everybody home, on a Saturday, it turned out to be not pretty.

I doled out normal Saturday chores at the beginning of the day, but I didn't follow up.  So some chores got done and others didn't.  Evidently, I also promised (did I?) to help a child or two with their chores (did I really?), so they spent the day waiting for me to come and help.

I was supposed to be working on Halloween costumes, but couldn't get around to it.

The cat stunk up the basement.  I've been warning the boys about leaving blankets or clothing on the floor.  I'll have to find the source of the stink, and get it cleaned up.

I had to give a couple of haircuts.  That's always a mess.  And the twins dragged themselves through the hair clippings, so there was twice the mess.

I stayed up late helping a boy finish his English paper.  All the commas in the essay had to be perfect, the teacher said.  I now know more about comma rules.  But it took much longer than we thought it would.

I chauffeured a  boy to a dance, then forgot to pick him up.

At 11:30 pm, I was finally able to start working on my Relief Society lesson.  I had to start over because I had lost the original text I had been working on.

You've had days like this.  Not necessarily with the same activities, but with the same level of too-much-to-do-and-not-enough-time-and-too-much-stress.  They happen, and we need to just accept that.  We can't always avoid them - although I could probably have planned my time and allocated my resources better.

So when a really wild, stressful day comes around, be nice to yourself.  Do the best you can.  Breathe occasionally.  You will get through.

Just for today, be patient with yourself.  This will pass.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Be Patient

It's true.  We love our chickens.  They make good pets, and they make us breakfast, too.  And my man loves having a good, hearty breakfast of eggs.  Me?  I'm a syrup kind of gal.  Pancakes, waffles, French toast.  Yum.  Give me sugar first thing in the morning, and I'm happy.  But even so, we need to have eggs.

That's why it's been upsetting lately that our chickens have gone on strike.  The ladies refuse to lay.  I;m not exactly sure what is going on, but I suspect it is a combination of issues: the watering-boy took a break from getting the birds clean water daily, we ran out of official feed and gave them whole grains, the days are getting shorter, and one hen went broody.  She sits in the nesting box all day, trying to hatch two golf balls, and clucks at anyone else who disturbs her.

Gotta fix this problem.  Trent actually had to buy eggs from the store.  No space for freeloaders here!  So we changed the water-boy.  Got more feed for laying hens.  Partitioned off the broody hen (with a chicken noodle soup box - subliminal messages) so the others have access to the nesting box.  And we sprinkled cayenne pepper in their food.  Some say it will kick-start their systems.

Man.  It would sure kick-start something in me, too.  But they really liked it.

And now we wait.  One egg yesterday.  Three eggs today.  Things are looking up.  Maybe it was good that we didn't make a giant pot of chicken soup back when we first got frustrated with the girls.

Just for today, be patient when things aren't going your way.  Do everything you can to improve the situation, then wait with hope.  The sun will come out... (bonus if you are singing!)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Grin Like You Mean It

Just had to share this photo my boy posted.

Alec and his buddy just got their airborne patches.  Is he excited to jump out of airplanes, or what?  Me, not so much.  But I love this smile.  I love the enthusiasm.  I love being his mom.

Oh, and I love that smile.  I'm gonna work on getting a smile on my face again.  I know I already wrote about smiling, but it really makes such a difference!

Just for today, smile like you mean it.  With your whole face.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dressing the Part

Ben went to a girl's choice dance with one of the nicest girls I've met.  He's had such good, good friends throughout his high school year.  For that, I am very grateful.  The dance was Disney, so they went as Mary Poppins and Bert.  What is Bert's last name, anyway?  I digress.  Aren't they cute?  Cute isn't the right word for high school seniors, I'm afraid.  But what fun that they really got into this and dressed up all the way to the chimney brush.

I think I am a bit too shy to go all-out like this.  I wonder what other things my hesitations have held me back from?

Just for today, don't be afraid to try something a little bit beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone.  I'll have to laugh at my own awkwardness, but laughing is good for us!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Scout Is

My mom was a scout leader when I was growing up.  She was a natural.  She worked so well with the "Blazer Boys" who were 11 years old.  She knew what made a boy tick - she had four of them herself!  I watched as she cooked tin foil dinners with her scouts in the backyard fire pit she dug for that purpose.  I watched her sit down with the boys and go over requirements.  She was patient and fun.  I wished I were a boy so I could be in scouts.  I even begged to join Girl Scouts, but to no avail.  In retrospect, that wouldn't have been good for me.

But I have always loved the boy scouting program.  I think it did great things for my brothers, and I can see the ways it has helped my boys grow and learn good things.

Chris and David have been working on some of their scout requirements.  Chris only has a few merit badges left - and his Eagle project - before he can join the ranks of Eagle Scout like his brother Alec.  Ben has his project done and is finishing up his last merit badges.  David is just beginning, but full of enthusiasm.

I think there are lots of good things I can learn from these my scouts boys.  First off, maybe I should learn the Scout Law.

See that "cheerful" in there?  That's happy.  And "clean" makes me happy too.

Just for today, pick a virtue and pursue it.  Maybe it will even lead to more happy.

Monday, October 21, 2013

We've Been Hit!

Our doorbell rang the other night during dinner.  I used to answer the door, but I don't anymore.  NowI just wait for the kids to rush the door and I come if they call for me.  Saves time.  It's rarely for me anyway.  But this time, there was (insert spooky Halloween music) no one there.

Just a plate of goodies on the doorstep, with a note.  We are supposed to make two more plates of goodies and deliver them, with a copy of the note, to other neighbors.  And put the ghost up in our window so others will know we've already been hit.  It's like a grown-up chain letter with cookies.

We don't have a copier to copy off the page our secret friends gave us, but we found another one here.

So tonight Chris is making chocolate chip cookies (can I make them without oatmeal in them please, Mom?), and we'll package them up.  The kids love the knocking and running.  I think David will put on his black morph suit for the adventure.  So fun

Just for today, bake some cookies and spread the fun with your neighborhood.  Oh, and make a third plate for you, too!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Write Your Stories

One of the things I do with my dad is write his life history.  He has Parkinson's disease, and we never know how long he will be completely cognizant.  He has been wanting to write his story for a long time now.  My mom was helping him with the first part, and since her passing, I have taken it up with him.

Mom and Dad just before they were married

It's fun to hear his stories.  It's not unusual for Dad to be a little bit fuzzy in his thinking - mentally off-balance.  But when he remembers his past, the sparkle is back in his eye.  He talks faster than I can type, which isn't hard.  I ask questions to help him remember parts, and then he's off again.  I think writing down our stories actually helps us remember them better.  And there is the added benefit of being able to pass them along to future generations as well.  I don't think my own childhood would have been as rich without my favorite Little House on the Prairie books.

That's one reason I blog.  It forces me to write some of the little stories we create in our day-to-day living.  The good stories make me happy twice - once for the living it, and once (or more!) for the reading it.

Just for today, write down a story.  And then maybe find a notebook or folder on your computer where you can keep stashing more of your stories.  Yes, your stories are important, because YOU are!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Love My Dad

My dad is staying with us this weekend.  I love having him here.

About a month ago, we decided to alter Dad's schedule a little bit.  Dad has been forgetting the names of his grandkids.  So to give him a little bit more time with our kids, he comes to our house.  Every other week he spends the weekend with one of his other children.  I say "other" children, to differentiate me and three of my brothers from my fourth brother who lives in Dad's basement and helps care for him.  Very grateful for them.  I also know how caregiver burnout feels, so it's good for him and his little family to get a break as well.  Win for them, win for Dad, win for us.

I've always thought that it would be best to make good friends with my family members.  We believe that families will be forever, so I might as well like these people!  As it turns out, my best friends are my brothers and sisters-in-law.  How lucky I am.

Just for today, make an effort to connect with your extended family.  You will never know what joys are just waiting there for you.  Reaching out with real love can fill your heart.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Be Happy Through the Rain

We wanted to go camping, but the weather was not cooperative.  It was raining like crazy.

Good thing we took our whole house with us (thanks, wonderful neighbors of ours, for letting us borrow your wheels!).

But still, it was cold and wet and drippy and I was hoping so hard that the trip we had planned for so long wouldn't turn out to be miserable.  We were going camping, and hiking and rock climbing and playing in the great outdoors.  But we decided that we were still going, rain or not!  After a few hundred miles, we started to see this:

And then finally,  "fly-knee," as Freddie says it, we made it.  And it was beautiful after all.  So glad we didn't let a little rain stand in the way of our good time.

Just for today, press on through the rain.  And smile.  Even rain is beautiful!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Be Happy In Helping

Eddie brought a box home from cub scouts.  We're having a box derby relay at pack meeting next week, he explained, and I need to make this into a car.  OK.  I filed that thought away with too many other thoughts.  That's code for I forgot about it.

The week flew by, as they do around here.  Wednesday afternoon was particularly busy.  As I started to think about dinner, Eddie came up with the box.  "Alright Mom," he announced.  "Let's do it."  What?  Oh right.  The box for pack meeting.  But now??

I scrambled to clear the counter while scrambling to clear my thoughts.  I pretty much had to do this project with him.  I could be grumpy and tossing blame bombs, or I could choose to be happy and enjoy some time with my boy.  I chose happy.  It was a struggle.

But the more I tried to enjoy it, the more I did actually have a good time.  I really do like creative projects.  And I love spending time with my children.  I don't like feeling rushed, or doing things at the last minute.  But since that is where we were, I made the most of it.

We opened up his box, turned it inside out and reassembled it.  Then we spray-painted it white - with only one coat of paint since we didn't have to cover up the words.  We cut a hole in the top (bottom?), big enough for him to fit through.  He colored the lights while I made the windshield with more cardboard and aluminum foil.  The cut-out circle became the spare tire in the back, and he was ready to go.  He gave me a big hug, his face full of enthusiasm, and said "You're a great mom!  Thanks for helping me!"

At pack meeting, the cubs sat, in teams of 4, in the middle of the gym.  One member of each team ran  around the gym in stocking feet, then stopped in the middle to get their windshields washed (squirted in the mouth with a spray bottle) by their pit crew (team members).  After the next lap, they needed fuel (team members fed them a cupcake).  The runners were not allowed to do anything but hold their car (box).  After lap 3, they needed an oil change (they were fed a juice box).  After lap 4, they needed new tires (team members changed their socks).  Then the next team member would begin their four laps.  It was a great lesson in teamwork.  The boys had a great time.

And so did I.

Just for today, choose to be happy when you are helping someone - even if it isn't your first inclination.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Find Good Things

I've been thinking of product placement.  And Facebook ads.  And Google's new "privacy" policy.  I understand that advertising pays for a lot of what we consider "free."  Like radio.  And search engines.  And this blog.  So I appreciate that.

But for today, I'd like to go back to good-old sharing stories about things without worrying about whether we are holding the label facing outward, or getting compensation or perks from it.  This is not the Truman Show.

Because I'm going to tell you about a few of my favorite things in my medicine cabinet.  These things make my life a little bit better, and I've decided to recognize them and be happy about it.  Too many things are annoying, and make us frown.  Maybe we ought to get in the habit of smiling for good things.

This is my moisturizer - coconut oil.  I feel fancy when I say moisturizer instead of lotion.  I use it on my face and hands and I love it.  It's not slimy or greasy at all.  And it's cheaper than any moisturizer in the beauty department.  More love.

Burt's Bees lip balm is not as cheap as others we have in the house.  But it works, smells nice, and best of all, doesn't taste like chemicals.  I use it all the time - see how the print is worn off the tube?  I have to hide it from the twins, who like to each chapsticks.  Eat the cheap ones, small fry.  Not Mommy's.

This one makes me laugh at myself.  I don't necessarily love this toilet paper.  But I do like the wrapper.  The swirls make me happy.  Maybe one day I'll paint my bathroom in swirls like this.  Then I'd smile every time I went in there.

Just for today, take a look in your cupboards and drawers and notice the products that you really like.  Maybe even smile at them!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Feel Vindicated

I just read the funniest article.  I know it won't be funny to everyone.  But it was funny to me.  And poignant.

I graduated from college when I was 6 months pregnant.  We had been married for a year.  I know, quick - but that's what was right for us.  My husband had one more semester to go before he was done.  I was too blah and uncomfortable to go out and get a job or anything, so I just stayed home in our little apartment.  I read books and slept a lot, and sewed baby clothes.  I remember being bored and feeling yucky and wondering what I had gotten myself into.  What am I going to do all day as a stay-at-home mom?  I wondered about that often.  I soon found out.

Raising children takes a lot more time than I thought it would.  Mommying is hard work.  Sometimes nasty, sometimes joyful, sometimes frantic, sometimes boring, but oh-so-gratifying.

So when I read this article titled "You're a stay-at-home mom?  What do you DO all day?"  I was interested.

I loved it.  I read and re-read it.  And then I had to read it to my husband who was groggily stumbling out of the bedroom after hunkering down for a few days with the man-flu.  He was nice enough to listen and not fall asleep while I was reading.  Thanks, dear.

I came away from the article feeling grateful that someone else gets me.  I'm understood.  I'm important.  My role as a mother is critical for the health of our society.  And it felt good.  I'm not trying to say that non-stay-at-home-non-moms aren't important.  Quite the opposite.  We're all beneficial.  Really.  Unless you live off a government grant that has you collecting elephant poop.  But maybe then you are important to the elephants, so you're good.

So today, do an internet search of something you like to do, and read up on the latest articles (they doesn't even have to be peer-reviewed) that prove you are worthwhile.  I bet you'll find something.  You love quilting?  You are an important part of America's cultural heritage.  Are you into marketing?  Society needs you.  Are you a grandparent?  "The government needs to rethink the policy implications" of your "positive role."  Are you a manager?  Your role is critical.  You like shopping on Main Street? Your hometown economy depends on you.

Don't be cynical.  Just take it as a little boost for the day.  It might even make you share an article or two.

BTW, Man flu is real.  I'm not making it up.  I feel vindicated.

Just for today, google (or bing or yahoo or whatever you do) "my interest/job/hobby/calling" important (like "librarians important") and see what comes up.  And then feel vindicated.  And important - 'cuz you are!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Repair Work

As I've been thinking a lot about depression this week, it's easy to feel like you are broken, not fixable, not worth anything.  Not so.  NOT SO!

I came across this article about the ancient Japanese art of fixing broken pottery.  It's called kintsukuroi or kintsugo.  In the process, not only is it successfully put back together, but becomes more valuable.  Imagine being more worthwhile because you were once broken.

Please read the post.  It is beautiful.  You can read more about it here and here.

A last quote from Jeffrey Holland's talk, "Like a Broken Vessel:"

   Though we may feel we are “like a broken vessel,” as the Psalmist says (Psalms 31:12), we must remember, that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter. Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed. While God is at work making those repairs, the rest of us can help by being merciful, nonjudgmental, and kind.
   I testify of the holy Resurrection, that unspeakable cornerstone gift in the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ! With the Apostle Paul, I testify that that which was sown in corruption will one day be raised in incorruption and that which was sown in weakness will ultimately be raised in power. I bear witness of that day when loved ones whom we knew to have disabilities in mortality will stand before us glorified and grand, breathtakingly perfect in body and mind. What a thrilling moment that will be!

Just for 15 minutes today, envision yourself as a valuable vessel adorned with ribbons of gold.  You are beautiful!