Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Blessings Part 3

Times change, years speed by; but Christmas continues sacred. It is through giving, rather than getting, that the spirit of Christ enters our lives. God still speaks. He prompts. He guides. He blesses. He gives.Giving, not getting, brings to full bloom the Christmas spirit. Enemies are forgiven, friends remembered, and God obeyed. The spirit of Christmas illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than things. Christmas gifts become Christmas blessings.
-Thomas S. Monson


So right after "Cookies with Grandma", I brushed my hair and wiped the frosting smears from off of my shoulder and then I left for a little get-together that I had been looking forward to for weeks. My old primary and young women's friends were meeting up. Friends I hadn't seen in more than a decade. In fact it had been a good 13 years.

When I came through the front door of my friends Mom's house, (a place I spent many childhood afternoons) I hugged my dear old friends, and it felt like being welcomed home again after a long, long time away.

3 hours of visiting, catching, up, remembering, laughing and talking went by in a flash and far too soon- it was time to say good-bye again.

When I drove home through a drippy winter rain, I felt so thankful for these old friends. Friends that shaped my childhood and filled my early years with good memories-memories that still warm me up to this very day. I realized that the best part of the place and the people where I grew up- is that no one is trying to impress anyone else. Everyone loves you for who are, not what you are wearing or what you have or what you drive or where and how you live-in fact they don't even care or notice that stuff.

I loved this low key get together more than I can say. My soul need it. No one needed any pomp or circumstance, fancy table decorations, or new outfits, we just needed each other.

It was heart and soul good and I cant wait to do it again.

to bad this was taken after several friends had left

Love you girls! Thanks for the fun, it was a true "Christmas Blessing" for me!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Blessings Part 2

Times change, years speed by; but Christmas continues sacred. It is through giving, rather than getting, that the spirit of Christ enters our lives. God still speaks. He prompts. He guides. He blesses. He gives.Giving, not getting, brings to full bloom the Christmas spirit. Enemies are forgiven, friends remembered, and God obeyed. The spirit of Christmas illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than things. Christmas gifts become Christmas blessings.
-Thomas S. Monson


When the twins party was over at the school we sped down the road to Grandma's house. It was "Cookies with Grandma" day and we were a little late. Grandma started doing this crazy, cookie-frosting-sprinkles-free-for all afternoon when there were only a few little grand kids. She did this so us Moms could have a few hours to wrap up any loose Christmas odds and ends. I can not really say how valuable that time has been to me over the years. But like I said, it began all those years ago with just a few....



Now there are 18 of these little "helpers" and those two in the picture, kinda don't help much at all anymore. But-they still LOVE to be there. Grandmas kitchen looked like a Christmas bomb full of flour, sprinkles and frosting had hit it at point blank range.



The next day my own Mom took my kids for the morning which was beyond helpful and I headed back to Scotts Mom's to finish a few things. I found her in the perfectly clean kitchen-it was like a crew of merry maids had come in and transformed the place for a sizable paycheck. . Only I know there was only one maid and I know there was no paycheck. Grandma had a brace around her neck, to alleviate the pain of two bulging disks. When I walked in I said,

''Oh dang, is your neck hurting today?"

She responded that it is always hurting. But I know it was hurting a little bit more, from all the cookie baking and all the clean up. Maybe a lot more. How thankful I am for the amazing Grandma's that my kids have and the willing sacrifice that they make for me and my kids.

My kids Christmas is always made just a bit more magical by their kindnesses-and mine is too.


 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Blessings Part 1

Times change, years speed by; but Christmas continues sacred. It is through giving, rather than getting, that the spirit of Christ enters our lives. God still speaks. He prompts. He guides. He blesses. He gives.Giving, not getting, brings to full bloom the Christmas spirit. Enemies are forgiven, friends remembered, and God obeyed. The spirit of Christmas illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than things. Christmas gifts become Christmas blessings.
-Thomas S. Monson

So I might need a few posts to write down all my "Christmas blessings". There were many. The other reason I might need a few posts is because I have had a house full of children, neighbor children and cousin children. It has been a mad house, but it has been fun. I have worked the easy bake oven. The air hog helicopter. The ball blowing toy for Cali, the electric car for Ella and I have watched many-many new magic tricks by Kaden.

But in between all of this playing, I will try to write down a few of my very favorite Christmas Blessings that filled this holiday right up with fun and peace and joy.

It started last week. Thursday was the kids last day of school for the semester. Kaden opted to stay home because as you know- 6th graders don't really get to do fun things. The twins class, on the other hand, was  in full on -party mode. They had a gift exchange. A snow storm and a movie with cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate.




































They also got to reveal to each other, who- was- who's secret Santa. Branson was so cute I could have eaten him whole, when he told his friend Gabe that he was his secret Santa....




































Priceless. Also priceless, is having a teacher who is willing to go through all the trouble, work and effort to give his class a magical Christmas celebration and teach them about the fun of giving.




































Tune in for more Christmas blessings posts to come!

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Christmas Letter


Dear Friends and Family,
Did you notice the perfect family picture that I have attached to this letter? Isn’t it
great? What you can’t see, is the time and money I spent looking for coordinating
clothes, pants that fit and hair bows to match. What you can’t see is the hours I
spent frantically trying to get everyone’s hair combed just right, teeth brushed and
shoes tied. What you can’t see is that by the time this picture was captured, I had
bribed begged and threatened smiles out of my family. What you can’t see is that we
were all pretty sick of posing and saying “monkey”, by the end of the night.
Yeah, that picture may have turned out pretty perfect but believe me, we are far
from. Most days, no one’s hair is combed just right and most days our clothes aren’t
nicely coordinated and pressed.


This year has not been perfect for our family but for the most part… it has been
wonderful. We did have a perfect baby girl in February and she brought with her an
amazing, sweet little spirit that has her wrapped tightly around our hearts. The rest
of us have a long way to go to reach perfection but Cali, has it nailed and hopefully
a little bit of that goodness has rubbed off on the rest of us.

Brylee and Branson are in 3rd grade and spend their days in a class that they love
and running the neighborhood barefoot with their little pack of friends. Each week
the big goal for them is to get a perfect score on their Thursday spelling test. Both
the twins are perfecting their handstands in gymnastics and Brylee ended up with a
few perfect gold medals in swimming last summer. Kaden played on a football team
that was so imperfect that they lost every single game…except one. Even his load
of touchdowns and interceptions wasn’t enough to help the dismal season. Ella is 4
and is in love with anything pretty. She takes long afternoon baths and has a knack
for applying lipstick…perfectly.


Kaden turned 12 in November and received the Aaronic priesthood. In the days
leading up to his Bishops interview he was uneasy and stressed. On the night before
his appointment I sat on the bed next to him to get to the bottom of why he was so
worried about it. We talked for a while and then he looked up at me and asked,


“Mom, do I have to be perfect to get the Priesthood?”


My heart ached for him a bit. How many times have I felt that exact same way? Just
not quite good enough for my blessings, just a bit too imperfect for the countless
gifts that I enjoy. How many times has life felt hard and perfection- just plain out of
reach?


A few weeks earlier, Scott and I took our family to one of our favorite spots on the
lake. Just as the sun was setting, we all loaded up and paddled a short ways out onto
the water. The kids had mud stuck between their toes, the boys weren’t wearing
shirts, the girls had ragged waterlogged pig tales, Cali was not wearing a cute head
bow, Scott was unshaved and I had old mascara flaking off underneath my eyes,
but for a few brief moments life was perfect. Scott held up our little point and shoot
camera and captured my favorite picture of the year. Somehow, the imperfection of
it makes it perfect.



When Kaden asked me his tender heartfelt question on the couch that night, I
hugged him tightly around his broadening shoulders and told him that he didn’t
need to be perfect, only worthy and trying.


We stayed up and talked late into the night about sacred promises about repentance
and about the One and Only perfect person to have ever walked the face of the
earth. We talked about our own imperfections and how the Lord uses them to teach
us and show us how to be more like him and how he loves us in spite of them. I
promised him that even though not a single one of Heavenly Fathers children are
perfect, He does give us glimpses of what that feels like. Once in a while the veil
feels thin, Heaven feels close and we can see more clearly His love that is all around
us. This year, we have been blessed with a few of those glimpses; the birth of a
sweet new daughter, Kaden’s priesthood ordination, and 100’s of ordinary moments
where life was so good.


Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness;
and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might,
mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be
perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise
deny the power of God.


We are so grateful for the birth of that tiny infant that came to earth so long ago to
take on all our imperfections, all our sorrows and pain and to give His one perfect
life… for us.

How we love Him for it.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Branses-pantses

Something funny happened today. We went through our usual flurry of morning craziness today. Breakfast, lunch packing, shoe finding, teeth brushing and hair combing. On the way to school we watched the temperature on the rear view mirror, which we always do. The kid in the front seat gives a play by play, to the rest of us.

"48-47-come on, come on...wait for it...46! Yes!"

After that we pull up to the lane where one of the teachers opens the car door to let everyone out. I said good-bye to Kaden, to Brylee and then as Branson hopped out of the car I noticed that something was terribly NOT RIGHT.

I saw the fly of Branson's pants running right up the middle of his bum and a pocket that was facing the wrong way. Just before the door shut I yelled from the drivers seat,

"Branson wait, get back in!"

The teacher looked at me confused and Branson looked at me confused but did what I said and GOT BACK IN. Thank his lucky stars.

I pulled around into a secluded spot and told him through a fit of laughter that his pants were on backwards. He was stunned but looked down and realized his mistake.

Off came his belt, off came his shoes, off came his socks, (not sure why the socks but still, off they came) and he made the switch all the while blabbering on about how bad that would have been for his 3rd grade rep to have sauntered into school with his pants on backwards.

And you betcha, I was blabbering on about what a good Mother I am, as to catch the mistake before anyone saw.

When the pants were switched and the belt relooped his socks were no where to be found. I mean, can socks really disappear from the front seat of a car in a matter of 30 seconds? I suggested he check his shoes and when they weren't there I got a motherly hunch about where they must be. I stuck my hand quickly and unrespectfully up my boys pant leg and fished out the first sock. Branson could hardly breathe he was laughing so hard, because apparently it tickles to have someone jam their arm up your pant leg. I didn't hesitate for a second, the bell was about to ring and so help me- I was getting that other sock before I had to traipse into the office in my pj's and slippers to sign the kid in. In two seconds, I had retrieved the other sock and all was well.

We had such a good hardy laugh there in the front seat,  that I was still laughing when I drove away.





































My Buddy Branse, thanks for the hysteria, I'm awful glad that your mine kid.

(picture by Robin Lee)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Worth the Work

Friday night the big kids and I took Scott to see "A Christmas Carol" for his birthday. Only he really took us. The food was so good and the company was even better. Scott had been up since 4 am and I could feel his head nodding in and out of sleep during the show. This, just another sign of his devotion to his family. At the end when Scrooge had become a changed man, he came down into the audience and that old Ebenezer Scrooge himself came right to our table and shook the kids hands and wished them a Merry Christmas.


For our 3, plus 2 cousins the whole thing was magical and merry and bright with fun and joy and music. For Scott it was a story that he knows by heart and a fight to stay awake but if I know Scott, he thought it was just as magical, just as merry and just as bright as the kids because if it is for them- then it is for Scott.
























After a picture with Tiny Tim....






















the two girls, danced, plied and pirouetted all the way to the car...

































The next day was full of working to get things ready for the holiday. But by 2pm I was showering the kids, combing their hair, forcing them into clean clothes and loading them up into the car. Scott had been invited to a Christmas party for a company that he did some donation work for. Scott does such a good job for his clients and I love seeing them load him up with praise and thanks. The party was at the zoo and the kids were excited. The only thing was that Scott and I were already wornout, stressed and hot before we even got there. As it turns out, it takes work to get a family of 7 out he door. The dinner room was packed and it took some effort to get the 7 of us seated at our table but when we got there we realized that we were about to have dinner with the guests of honor....

The real, Santa and Misses Claus.



























Never in all my days have I seen my 5 children eat with better manners. There was not a fight, not a fit not a spill, not a complaint-nothing!

Dear Santa, you are here-by invited to every single meal that our family ever eats together again for as long as you shall live.

The best part was Ella. Ella got the prized seat, just to the right of Misses Claus. Ella impressed that sweet, rosy cheeked lady with her consumption of pomatoes (tomatoes) and salad. And Ella was very much a fan of the sparkling, snowflake earrings that were dangling out from underneath Misses Claus's gray hair.
































After dinner, we had a quick tour of the lights and then it was back for hot chocolate and cookies and to pick up a special gift. Baby Alive for Ella, Crayola glow in the dark board for Brylee, a remote control car for Branson and a gift card for Kaden. I think my kids just about died. I am pretty sure that for them the whole night was magical, and merry and bright with thousands of colorful lights. For Scott and I, it was a lot of maneuvering the stroller through crowds, counting heads so to not lose anyone, taking coats off, putting them on, taking them off, bathroom breaks and baby passing-back and forth, back and forth. But if I know Scott , and I do...I can say that between all the work to make it happen, it was magical, merry and bright with happy kids and excited smiles-for him as well. (and me too)





During dinner I noticed that Misses Claus had her white gloved hand resting on top of Santa's white gloved hand. I heard her lean over and say,

"Come here often?"

and then St. Nick said,

"Oh every year about this time."

Then they both giggled a little. I thought I might melt like snow right there. Between that and Ella's glowing adoration for her new dinner friend all the work, sweat, and grouchiness to get there became magically...worth it.

Seriously, it did.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Birthday Letter to Scott (Sorta)

Dear Scotty,

Today is your birthday and I cant help but think that you were a 22 year old kid when we met. And me, well, I was still a baby..18. Lots of years, and birthdays, and firsts, and babies, and holidays, and tears, and challenges, and vacations, and joy later- we are still good together, don't you think? I have a lot more mushy stuff I could say in this letter but I will save it for a piece of paper and pen and I will give it just to you. You know, private! Hows that for a happy birthday gift? But, I would like to share with you these photos of your baby girl. She had her first Oreo and it was a resounding success...


































She also had her first candy cane and it was not a success....






















You liked that didnt you? I knew you would. Also, Scotty, I read this poem years ago and I loved it so much because it reminded me of you. I only had to omit a few parts that I hated. I wish I wrote it but I didn't, I hope you enjoy...

I Like You by Sandol Stoddard Warburg
I like you and I know why.
I like you because you are a good person to like.
I like you because when I tell you something special, you know it's special
And you remember it a long, long time.
You say, "Remember when you told me something special?"
And both of us remember

When I think something is important
you think it's important too
We have good ideas
When I say something funny, you laugh

I like you because you know where I'm ticklish
And you don't tickle me there except just a little tiny bit sometimes
But if you do, then I know where to tickle you too

You really like me, don't you?
And I really like you back
And you like me back and I like you back
And that's the way we keep on going every day

If you go away, then I go away too
or if I stay home, you send me a postcard
You don't just say "Well see you around sometime, bye"
I like you a lot because of that
If I go away, I send you a postcard too
And I like you because if we go away together
And if I get lost
Then you are the one that is yelling for me

And I like you because when I am feeling sad
You don't always cheer me up right away
Sometimes it is better to be sad
You want to think about things
It takes time
I like you because if I am mad at you
Then you are mad at me too
It's awful when the other person isn't
They are so nice and  you could just about punch them in the nose

I like you because if I think I am going to throw up
then you are really sorry
You don't just pretend you are busy

You say, maybe it was something you ate
You say, the same thing happened to me one time
And the same thing did

If you find two four-leaf clovers, you give me one
If I find four, I give you two
If we only find three, we keep on looking
Sometimes we have good luck, and sometimes we don't

I like you because I don't know why but
Everything that happens is nicer with you
I can't remember when I didn't like you
It must have been lonesome then
I like you because because because
I forget why I like you but I do

So many reasons
On the 4th of July I like you because it's the 4th of July
On the fifth of July, I like you too
If you and I had some drums and some horns and some horses
If we had some hats and some flags and some fire engines
We could be a HOLIDAY
We could be a CELEBRATION
We could be a WHOLE PARADE

See what I mean?
Even if it was the 999th of July
Even if it was August
Even if it was way down at the bottom of November
Even if it was no place particular in January
I would go on choosing you
And you would go on choosing me
Over and over again

That's how it would happen every time
I don't know why
I guess I don't know why I really like you
Why do I like you
I guess I just like you
I guess I just like you because I like you.


And I do my Scotty. So very much! Happy Birthday.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Double Good

This morning while I was doing Brylee's hair she started to tell me a school story. I was all ears because heaven knows I love a good tale of elementary school happenings. The story was about a girl in their class. I have heard about her before, she seems to be the friendless type that takes a lot of gossip, a lot of harshness and maybe even some bullying.

Now, here is where I will say that the story I am about to reveal is about the same boy that dumped his entire bowl of cereal-on purpose-after he was accused unjustly the other morning by a sibling.

AND...

This is a story about the same little girl that had one long continuous whine last Saturday when her Dad-heaven forbid- took her and her siblings out for the day. These two are by no means perfect little angels but yesterday they were....

The going recess game these days is four square. 4 kids get to be in at a time and the others wait in a line hoping for the players to make a mistake, thus bumping them out and allowing someone from the line in on the action. The goal is to get into the "King" spot and stay there as long as possible. Branson, Brylee, some other kid and the forlorn, friendless little girl were in.We will call her Jenifer.

So apparently Branson served the ball to Jenifer and she missed. The line of kids immediately started calling for her exit from the game.

"Jenifer you're out!"

"Get out you messed up!"

Like that. Where upon hearing the chants and demands Jenifer refused and sat her little self down in the square. The demands grew louder and more angry. Brylee revealed that Branson started to shout over the yells,

"redo, redo!"

But the kids from the line wouldn't hear of it and kept up the calls for Jenifer's elimination. When it all became more than Jenifer could stand she got up and ran away to hide behind the classroom. Then Brylee looked up at me through the mirror and said,

"So Mom, Branson and I quit too and we followed her to cheer her up."

I nearly choked on the lump in my throat right then and there. I went to find Branson to see if his story was the same as Brylee's, it was identical.  Except he added in,

"Yeah, and I was even the King."

I gathered them in and told them that they did the exact thing that the Savior would have done if He had been at recess.

So like I said, these little twins aren't perfect by any means or stretch but yesterday....they were.


















My goodness how I love them.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

So This is Christmas

Yesterday was Christmas.

At least it was to me.

In the morning the kids were cheerful and quick to get ready. (What the heck? They were?) After they were off to school Ella, Cali and I got through the morning chores and I even showered and got dressed before noon.

And I thought, so this is Christmas!

Late morning came and my sister-in-law showed up at the door. She picked up some Christmas items that I needed and saved me a trip. Plus, she brought with her my niece who happens to be the very best baby-sitter there is for Ella. Those two girls spent the day in cousin heaven and I spent the day getting the office project done for Kaden.

The babysitter kept Ella busy in the bath for like 3 hours.

























Then they did pizza and a movie. And I thought, so this is Christmas!




























Then my amazon package showed up.

Then my sweet friend left a box of hot chocolate and candy canes at the door.

Then I thought, so this is Christmas!

Then I wrapped Cali in a blanket and sat with her on the porch swing watching the rain while we waited for the bus. Then when the school kids came running and shouting Cali's name- her little face lit up and her legs kicked with excitement at the sight of them.

Branson and Brylee set straight to writing their animal reports like they were on a mission. They needed very little help and Branson even finished his entire rough draft without so much as a word of complaint. Kaden on the other hand came home with very little homework, he even had time to play the computer and I got a sneak picture of him playing with Cali on his shoulders, cause as it turns out that boy loves his baby girl and then seriously I thought,

"So this is Christmas!"































Then my phone rang and it was Anna,

"Have you made dinner?"

I told her I hadn't even thought about dinner and then she said,

"Good cause I made you pizza."

I hung up and thanked Heaven for such a awesome neighbor and then I thought,

"So this is Christmas!"

After dinner all the kids went down to the church because the young women in our ward offered to baby-sit for 2 and half hours. Yes, they really did! Those sweet girls let the kids, cut and glue to their little hearts content and Scott and Cali and I enjoyed an evening alone. When I went to the church to pick them all up they were happy as elves and laden down with Christmas crafts. It was pouring rain so we hurried home and snuggled together in front of "The Grinch Stole Christmas" and for sure I thought,

"So this is Christmas!"






























My Ella-sitting niece was picked up and I put the baby to bed and then the big kids and I had scriptures. They were all quiet and peaceful and listening, it was a miracle to behold and then I thought, so this is Christmas!

After everyone was tucked, I was in the bathroom getting ready for bed when KAden knocked at my door. It was 10 pm but he grinned a little and said,

"Can I have hot chocolate and candy canes?"

I only hesitated for a second and then I went for the kitchen, I warmed some milk and mixed in the chocolate and handed over a creamy, steaming cup to Kaden, who smiled his most handsome smile and said,

"Thanks Mom."

I sat next to him and rubbed his back while he sipped down his warm drink.



When Kaden was officially tucked in, I went back to my room to find my little beauty Ella sound asleep next to Scott. She had a red and white candy cane clutched in her fist.






































When I knelt down to say my prayers I felt a bit astounded that such a good day could actually be real.  I could only thank Heaven that it was. And then I knew for sure that it is really Christmas.


"For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when it's mighty founder was a child himself."



Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

By Way of Catching Up-December Edition

I have some catching up to do.

It has been raining. I love it. I have never lived anywhere except right smack in the desert so these cold drizzly days where the clouds take the show, are such a treat for me. It was fun yesterday to wake my sleeping school kids with a warm back rub and a,

"Guess what, it's raining outside", whisper in their ears.

For some reason my bathroom is a great place to listen to rain on the window. Brylee and I stopped in the middle of placing her 2 piggy tales yesterday morning to listen. And when it was time to go to school, I looked out to see Branson standing across the street with his friend, holding Ella's pink Rapunzel umbrella over his head- high and proud. I tried to sneak a picture but it didn't really turn out great.






















I had a vison early on in the Christmas season of the kids and I snuggled around the Christmas tree, all the lights in the house turned off so that we could read Christmas stories together with just the glow of the Christmas lights. But like usual my visions don't always play out like I dream them up. I actually had to beg Kaden to join us. When I told him my plan and asked him to go and get a pillow and a blanket I thought his eyes might roll right out of his head.

"Really Mom?"

"Yes, really kid, go get a blanket."

I miss my little boy Kaden that was still eager to indulge my visions and big plans for magical childhood things. He is way past being willing to pretend for the sake of his Mama and he is way past being willing to stand in the morning rain under his sisters pink umbrella.

Sigh.

He did end up curling up near my feet to listen to the story and it must have been peaceful to him because he fell asleep.



I'll take it.

Last week we took the kids to see The Nutcracker. Now that gets Kaden every time. He may not be drawn in by the show but he is drawn in by food. Ella hardly moved her gaze from the dancers and singers, she was entirely captivated. I held her and Cali on my lap through almost the entire show, which didn't bother me a bit. I love those two little sisters.























And speaking of sisters, my phone rang in the late late hours of the night a few days ago. My sister was in need and I spent 2 hours talking to her. While we talked, I silently worried that I wouldn't be able to face the day and all it's demands on the little sleep that I was going to get. When the conversation finally wore down, we said our goodbyes and I was thankful that I had gotten up. I hate to think what she would have felt if I hadn't. And as it turns out, I conquered tired just fine. I cleaned my entire house, babysat for my friend, took 4 kids to the dentist and got ready in time to go with Scott to a clients Christmas dinner. Blessings abound when we GET UP. That I know for certain.

We have a house situation that goes like this...Our house is too small. So when the baby was born Kaden lost his bed. He slept most nights on the couch anyway so I didn't worry too much about it. But lately I have felt something picking at me, nudging me to fix the situation. Then this morning Scott woke me up at 4am to tell me that Kaden was up watching Myth Busters reruns.

"Something has to be done," I said.

On the way to school, I reached over to Kaden in the passenger seat, I squeezed his hand and asked him if he would like it if we cleaned out our tiny office and made it into somewhat of a room for him. He didn't look at me but he said softly under his breath,

"Thank-goodness Mom."

I honestly didn't think he really cared, he has never complained about it. But honestly- a lot of the time, I am just plain wrong.

Thank-goodness indeed-for little prickings and nudgings that wont go away until we listen.

And one last thing. At the dentist yesterday, Ella needed me to come back to the room and sit with her, so I left my boys out in the waiting room. There were a few other kids in there too, all of their faces were buried in video games. Half way through Ella's cleaning, an alarmed receptionist came in and said,

"Um, your boys are out front climbing a tree and it's raining"

I wanted to say,

"Yea, so?, Haven't you ever heard of little boys climbing trees?"

Do we really live in a world where little boys climbing trees causes great alarm? Is that crazy to anyone else? What she should have said is,

"I am so glad that your boys are out front climbing a tree in the rain instead of lost in some wireless world."

Am I right or am I right?

What I didn't tell her is that they not only climb trees they climb fences and basketball poles and backyard sheds. Plus, they build fires all by themselves and they own their very own pocket knives and they use the stove to help me with dinner and Branson even has his own hot glue gun that he is allowed to use whenever he wants without adult supervision.

Yea, I didn't tell her all that.

And that is how my blog got all caught up.

























Pink umbrellas and everything else.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Sweets

On Saturday afternoon Brylee started cooking up plans to take some "secret treats" to her two best friends. I told her that if she would wait until Sunday, that I would be more than happy to help her put something together after church.

With in the first 30 seconds after church Brylee was begging to get started. Then as soon as Branson heard the mixer start up he was in on it too. The twins and I, (along with Cali under my feet and a mostly naked Ella on the counter) spent the entire afternoon baking, frosting and crafting.

I tell you what, these little twins can really put their hearts into a project. They used lunch bags and little foam squares, left over from some other art project and made the cutest little gift bags. They glued together a couple snowman ornament's and their finished product was awesome. They also stuck with frosting and decorating dozens of cookies until it was all complete.



When Brasnon was scribbling out the message he wanted on his bags, I suggested that he write something like,

To: "Friends name"
From: Branson

His answer to me was,

"No way Mom, Mr. Eyre says that it's best to be secret when you give a gift."

So instead he wrote,

To: Friends name
From: ?

Once again I was so thankful for a teacher that teaches my kids way more than just math and reading.























The best part of the day was when we loaded up to deliver our secret treats. Of course, the twins wanted to do good old fashion door bell ditching so we parked strategically at each house and made good clean get aways. It was a highly covert operation.



Later that night while I wiped frosting smears off the counters and swept up cookie crumbs from off the floor I realized that I had made some of my very own Christmas wishes come true. On Thanksgiving Day, I had made a few silent plans to myself that I was going to say "no" to most of the extra Christmas fluff so that I could say "yes" to my kids.

"Merry Christmas to me", I thought because yesterday, was as sweet as it gets.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

What's in your Cupboard?

You know that commercial that says,

"What's in your wallet?'

Around here it's

"What's in your cupboard?"

The other day I opened my bottom cupboard to put some dishes away and found this...



It's my colander, filled with rocks and ashes, stirred together with the teaspoon, placed neatly on the bottom shelf. I have one good guess who put it there but I wont say names. I will say that it starts with an E and ends with LLA.

Our house is clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy. ~Author Unknown

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Piggy Backs and Whispers

Kaden has what I have diagnosed as "School Anxiety." My heart has burned hot with frustration for him this year, as I have watched him shrink under the pressure of lots of teachers, and lots of homework. I make a concerted effort to keep my kids little for as long as possible but when they start doing reports on the cultures of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia and reading things like "the Prince and the Pauper", that I swear one needs a dictionary dated 18 hundred and something, straight from a London library to understand-growing up is inevitable. And so, I have sought answers and help and I have promised to walk the road of 6th grade, right along with my little man. Only sometimes it feels a little more like a piggy back ride, where Kaden does the riding and I do the walking.

Yesterday, after a bunch of pacing, panting and worrying, ( and gnashing of teeth), Kaden wrote a paper. He did a fabulous job, it was smart and witty and well written. When he was done, I complimented his work and then said,

"OK, two chapters of your book study and then your done."

He looked at me like I had just informed him that he was to march to his room and sever his own arm with a butter knife.

I was about to force him to finish, (which I would have preferred because I cant stand it when homework trickles into all hours of the night). But just then, I felt a whisper of help....

"Don't."

 So instead, I asked him when he would be ready to do it.

"8pm!"

He answered quickly back.

"OK Kaden I will see you at 8pm."

 I could actually see the tension sliding right off of his shoulders and face. A little bit later he wandered into the kitchen and asked for a game of tether.

(Dear Tether, How I love you and thank you for your family bonding magic.)

We played 4 games. And laughed so hard that Kaden finally called out,

"Hey Mom, no laughies!"

(Whatever that is? They are always making up new rules, mid game.)

 And at 8pm we did the book study. I read and he rested his warm cheek on my shoulder. I could smell the shampoo from his freshly washed hair. There was not a trace of anxiety in him or me. There was peace and security and in the end there was a finished book study.

After Kaden went off to bed, I thanked Heaven once again, for all those timely whispers, that are felt more than heard and for tether, and warm cheeks, but mostly, for walking the road of Motherhood right along with me, only sometimes it feels more like a piggy back ride, where I do the riding and He does the walking.

photo by Robin Lee

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dad

When I was little, we lived in a really tiny house. The Kitchen was tucked back on the far right side of the house and was fairly closed off from the rest of the rooms. Every once in a while, late at night when the house was all dark, my Dad would turn soft music on the radio, scoop me up without a word, carry me to the kitchen and rock me back and forth in his arms. I can remember wrapping my arms around his neck and resting my chin on his shoulder. I can remember knowing with out a doubt in the world, that my Dad loved me.


When I got bigger I was very busy with sports. Sometimes I was playing on 3 different teams at a time. I was the 3rd of 10 children and during those years, my parents still had a bunch of little ones running around and I am sure they were up to their ears in busyness. But more often than not when it was my turn to bat, I would look out and see my Dad sitting off to the side watching me play. And I can remember knowing with out a doubt in the world, that my Dad loved me.

When I was busy with college and dating and working, I was in and out of the house so much that I was rarely home for conversations or meals. Every now and then, I would get in my car to leave and I would find that a package of my favorite cookies was on the seat and my gas tank was filled up. There was never a note or an explanation but I knew with out a doubt in the world, that my Dad loved me.

When Scott went to my Dad to ask if he could marry me, my Dad gave his approval but looked to the floor and whispered, "Do you know that you are taking my Sunshine away?" Scott and I still talk about that conversation and when we do, I know without a doubt in the world, that my Dad loves me.

In fact, I can not remember a time that I wasn't sure that my dad loved me. He is not an "I love you" sayer, he is an "I love you" doer.






















Happy Birthday Dad.
Love,
Julianne

Monday, December 5, 2011

Over the Weekend

Scott and I decided to run an errand together on Saturday. I put Cali down and told my 3 big kids that they were going to be babysitting for a little while. Branson asked if they could put up the Christmas decorations while we were gone so Scott got busy dragging in all our bins from the garage. I gave them total control and when we left, all kinds of red and green was already starting to fly. We got a few phone calls early on, all about the injustices of "who wasn't getting to put up what and who did it last year and whose turn it was-and was NOT."

What's Christmas decorating with out a little fighting anyway?

But pretty soon the phone calls dried up and Scott and I had a great afternoon running errands together without any tag alongs. I had already prepared myself for what I would be coming home to, I was ready. I expected,  Hiroshima, Christmas atom bomb in my living room. But they did a surprisingly good job. The tree looked fantastic and aside from the strips of fake pine, scotch taped to the walls, I didn't change a thing.

The Christmas decorating had been done right on top of the morning breakfast mess and the house looked cheery yet disastrous at the same time. Branson got his feelings hurt by someone on another street so Scott and he went off on a rainy bike ride and I strapped Cali to my hip and started working. I straightened and washed and fixed and vacuumed. In between, I made Ella some lunch, watched Kaden do a magic trick (or 7) and red Brylee's latest handwritten story.

It occurred to me in the middle of this famylish stuff that this is all pretty awesome. It really is. Cleaning toilets, wiping snotty noses, folding warm clothes into stacked piles, spraying down counters, peeling potatoes, negotiating the fights, making jelly sandwiches and reading stories, all add up together into what makes motherhood and I love it. I relish in being the middle space around all this flurry of family life. I like being the maid, the cook, the nurse, the hand holder and the story reader. It's the same messes, the same dirty dishes the same sticky floors over and over again but the longer I do it, the more I see it as a privilege.

And this gig does have some pretty priceless rewards.

Yesterday, Kaden passed the sacrament for the first time. Be still my heart he was handsome as all the stars in the sky. His white shirt and tie, his hands folded reverently in front of him, his freshly combed hair. After the water was passed Kaden lined up with the other Deacons right where the chapel ends and the cultural hall begins. I had the front row right behind them. Kaden looked back at me and when our eyes met, a smile that he would have probably rather had kept to himself, spread big and broad across his face. A full-on teethy grin met mine and then he quickly turned back forward.

(by Robin Lee)




































If I have to clean the same floors 4 million times to get that, then all I have to say is, "where's the vacuum?"