Friday, August 31, 2012

A Message for my Children






















Dear Children,

As of right now, and for the next several weeks, we have a 25 minute drive to school. Therefore it is imperative, that you have both shoes fastened to your little feet when we leave the house. It is imperative that that you do not forget a backpack, a lunch, a homework assignment.

You see my sweet little gaggle, twice, that's right TWICE this last week, the afore mentioned items have been left. I can literally feel my blood pressure rise like a bubbling volcano, when I hear the desperate cry from the back seat as we pull into the school parking lot,

"Mom, I forgot my shoes."

I would like to teach you all,  here and now, that shoes are an important part of success in life. For the love of all that is decent and righteous, please put on your shoes! I did not enjoy traipsing into the store, in not much more than yoga pants and a t-shirt, hiding behind sunglasses, to procure a pair of new shoes that we did- not- need. Only we did need...because the right shoes were 25 minutes away. (50 minutes to cover the ride back).

Running through the store in flip flops, with only minutes to spare, is a terrible way to send your Mother off for the day.

Don't do it again, is good advice.

I am writing this letter to inform you that the cost of the shoes will be covered by you. Not me, you. And when backpacks and such are left, there will be  hungry stomachs and zeros for homework. I will give you one guess as to whose stomach will be hungry...and it isn't mine.

Children, you should know that I love to wake up early, provide you with clean clothing, have scriptures with you, make your breakfast, pack your lunches, sign your planners, drive you across town and assist in everything from hair brushing to deodorant finding. I also take full responsibility for the care and feeding of your 2 little sisters. Clearly, I am doing my part. The rest, sweet dears, is up to you.

Shoes.
Backpacks.
And did I mention Shoes!

Got it?!

With much love and complete confidence,

You devoted Mother.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

About the Weekend

(So help me, I will get this posted today, I will, I will, I will! It has taken an entire week to write one measly post!)

So about the weekend.

First, Scott and I have some  rad sisters and sister-in- laws. On Friday night, Stacey took Kaden, Sheri took the twins and Melanie and Jed took our two baby girls. And each with such a sweet, willing heart...they all made it sound like it was their lucky day to have these extras for the night. (Plus Anna, who kept Branson for most of Saturday!)

This was the first night since June of 2009 (SINCE JUNE OF 2009!)  that Scott and I have spent alone. I could actually hear Scott's voice when he talked! I could actually hold his hand when we walked and I could actually remember when life was a little simpler and sleep was more readily available. Ah sleep, good stuff!

Less than 24 hours later it was time to get the kiddos.

Grandma is out of town so we wanted to take advantage of an empty house and camp-out there for a few days, so we drove around picking up all the kids and settled in at grandmas. (I wish it was that easy...there was a key fiasco, a fight, a fit, fifteen trips to the car, and a baby that hadn't eaten since before her nap).

But settled in at last.

I felt so happy (elated is better) to have my family to myself. I didn't worry that the kids were bugging someone, or making too much noise, or getting into the kitchen as soon as it was cleaned. We just relaxed and enjoyed the rare time together. I made a quick trip to the store for groceries and Sunday morning we had a big Kings Breakfast.
























(I love bed heads...so much!)

The girls ate Popsicles on the porch.






































and told secrets on a blow up bed.
























One of the sweetest moments was the breakfast prayer when Cali decided to learn one of my very favorite baby skills. Folding arms...it is to die for.

























I don't even have pictures of the boys because they were too busy off playing. It was a good weekend. I loved so many things about it, but I went to bed Sunday night with an ache in my heart and tears dripping into my pillow.

Sometimes, I don't like to write down things about the down side of life but without some brutal honesty, I don't think my kids will learn much of anything from all these hundreds of posts. I do want them to know that life is not easy and that things aren't always rosy and sweet, actually alot of the time life is hard.

Amid tons of happiness on Sunday, there was also contention. Like this only times all 5 kids...




































It wasn't all day, only a little here and there but if there is anything I disdain, it is contention. There was complaints and fights and fits and one awful feeling by the time I tucked everyone in. I can see the joy through the struggle and work and effort it takes to raise a family, with out even trying, I am good at it, but seeing joy through contention is almost impossible for me.

The kids were all around us on the floor and in the darkness Branson said, "Mom, I have a super scared feeling."

I told him that I didn't have a good feeling either. We talked a little about how that happens when we are less than kind to each other.

Some of the same garbage has carried over through the week and then yesterday was a half day of school, so I made plans. After I got the kids, we picked up Scott and the kids all voted unanimously, in favor of...wait for it....The Golden Coral. (That place is famous here on my blog! Kids love it I'm telling you!)

And for an hour...life was perfect.

We needed that.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Glow

School days are busy and crazy and full of driving, dropping and homeworking. Sometimes the day is over just as I am getting my bearings. And then...something about them also feels long, hot and long again. It's confusing how something can feel over- before it begins, but also dripping slow.

That is why we must watch the children play in the sprinklers. Don't you know?






































It is a piece of heaven in a fallen world and it is solace to a crowded mind. You can let everything go and just watch those beautiful slippery bodies jumping, running and laughing, and feel like life and it's duties are a privilege.

And if the sun is beaming just right off of their skin, making it glow like copper...even better.




































 Read this and let it soak in...it's good stuff...
"The happiest people I know are not those who find their golden ticket; they are those who, while in pursuit of worthy goals, discover and treasure the beauty and sweetness of the everyday moments. They are the ones who, thread by daily thread, weave a tapestry of gratitude and wonder throughout their lives. These are they who are truly happy." ~Dieter F. Uchtdorf


Monday, August 20, 2012

Thumb Open




































The other day Ella was sitting at the counter eating a generous bowl of cereal when I noticed her looking  down at her right hand. She was pulling her two middle fingers in under her thumb, leaving her index finger and her pinkie straight. She said, out loud to no one in particular, "If you are saying I love you, you open your thumb, if you are shooting out webs, you close your thumb."

So it came as no real surprise that for her birthday party at the pool with cousins, she chose spiderman cupcakes over, Hello Kitty.

Dark Side, I am telling you, dark side.

Still, most of her birthday prizes did come in her favorite....sparkly, shinny and fluffy. She is so cool that little Ella Mae, and I loved celebrating over her 5 year-old-ness!
helping to make the cake

shopping with Lanny


Grandma Mag-birthday card!









































































Plus this weekend we got to see Brylee preform in her singing group show. My amazing cousin Mindy, (shown here as Brylee gazes up in admiration).....



















has a wonderful talent for teaching kids music and dance. Brylee had the chance to be in her group this summer. Saturday night was the spectacular show, starring 60 kids, that Mindy basically put on single handedly.  I was so impressed. I just cant get over the gift Mindy has for music and she does it all while raising 7 great kids and being my cub scout partner!

And Brylee wasn't bad herself!




























(Now, I am keeping my thumb open for a huge, I love you to these two awesome girls!)



Friday, August 17, 2012

More Firsts

We have had some "firsts".

Sunday was Cali's first day attending nursery at church. She is officially 18 months old and eligible to toddle past those elusive doors and enter into play time heaven. I was hesitant and afraid though, because she is Little.

One percentile.
Small.
Undersized.
Tiny and petite.

Not only that, but I have never left Cali any where with anyone, except for close family and friends and even that has been sparse.

She loved it. She did great and even after she was brought out to me for a diaper change, she wanted to go back for more. But when I picked her up she was a bundle of tears in the teachers arms.

I came in and said, "Oh no, did she get sad?" Thinking that she had missed me. But she had just been knocked over during the bubble blowing. Nothing can ensue a riot like bubbles in nursery and little Cali went down.

What a cutie.






















And Monday morning was Ella's first day of school. We call it "pre-school" even though it is technically a half-day Kindergarten class. I love holding my kids back a year! Keeping them little for as long as possible is a good thing in my book. The system of one year of half day-one year of all day, worked great for the twins, so I am planning on doing the same for Ella. She will have to make a school change when we move in November, so next year will be a better time to really start kindergarten. Besides, I am no where near ready for her to be a TRUE school kid. I am stalling for sure.

Ella was excited. She had her little pink princess bag packed and ready, she had two tight braids in her brown hair and she had brand new purple Converse on her feet. She was ready. I walked her to the door, my heart in my throat and her sweaty hand closed safely inside of mine. She spotted a friend with a pink hair flower and gold bracelets on her wrist and with that,  her hand slipped out of mine and she was off.

I don't know if these kinds of things will ever stop breaking my heart. But man, was she ever adorable.
When I was on the couch, nursing the twins, with a 2 year old running around, I read and reread Sister Hinkley's book, "Glimpses".

"Marjorie savored the days she had her five to herself, and she went to great lengths to keep summer unstructured so her young ones would have time to lie in the gully and listen to the birds sing if they wanted to. She wept every fall when it was time to send her brood back to school."

I love her so much. She is my hero and it very well may be that very quote of hers,  that has helped me to savor each and every day that I have "my five to myself". Because Kindergarten just comes way too soon.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Birthday Letter: Ella at 5




































Dear Ella,

You are a whole hand old today my Love. Every year on your birthday, I like to reminisce about the perfect baby you were. And you were! So beautiful and so good. Good sleeper, good eater and good company after a five year baby halt. I needed you so much and I was so glad to have you there with me each day when Brylee and Branson would board the afternoon kindergarten bus and head off. We were buddies. We still are.

Ella girl you are so pretty and you love beauty in all it's forms. You have a gorgeous smile that makes me smile too. You have a spicy, strong willed side but also a gentle sweetness. You love to fall asleep sandwiched between me and Dad and if I lay on my side facing the wall, you will wrap your arms and legs around me, giving me a good, baby monkey hug from behind. I really love that.

I like how you use the word, "nenny" for none or not any. It is so deliciously adorable that I can never correct you, instead the rest of us just go right ahead and use it too. When I say, "Ella, what movie do you want to watch you usually say,

"Nenny!" Because you are happier placing a bunch of dolly's in a line or making a pile of click-clack shoes, or taking all the hair bows down and pinning them around the room. But if you do watch a movie it is, "the first Alice in Wonderland." Meaning the 1985 live version, you love it.

You have two brothers and two sisters that think you are hilarious. They love to play with you and they love to tease you because you give quick and strong reactions...loud to! We never have to guess how you are feeling because you let us know. You are confident and happy with your self and I love to see how you shine when something catches your interest.

You are wrapped tightly around your Daddy's big heart. What a joy you are to him and how lucky you are to have each other. You know just how to melt his heart and he knows just how to get you laughing, and talking and playing.

Latley, I have noticed that in a stark contrast to your love of pretty, sparkly, fancy and fluffy you have an obvious interest in blood and other yucky stuff! I like to call it your "dark side", because it is so funny. Earlier this year when I sliced my finger open you were fascinated, you watched every stitch be placed and you hardly blinked at the sight of all that blood. You love to check for poopy diapers and you always want a front row seat for changings. You like to watch closely when Cali gets her shots and I think you may grow up to be a nurse. We'll see?!

You are Sunshine my sweet Ella Mae. There is "nenny" one quite like you in all the world and I am so happy that you are mine. How I love you!
Happy Birthday!

Mom

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

14




























Sometimes, you eat beef jerky in bed. You shower before working out, and your feet are as flat as pancakes.

You make us laugh at your boisterous singing and your "foreign language" that includes words like nostrilious for nostril and bicycletta for bike.

You are ambitious and determine in every way and if I had to describe your style of living in one word, it would be thorough. You do nothing half way.

Time has barley changed you, only a few grey hairs peeking out here and there. If anything, time has made you even more of everything I like. Strong. Safe. Spiritual. Steady. Sure. Stable. Steadfast.

You know me well enough to never, and I mean never, make me watch boxing. Our children think you are Superman and you have a knack for seeing the world through their eyes.

I like your stubby, bitten finger nails and I like the feel of your hand around mine. When we first started out,all those years ago I thought you were shy and even though you really aren't, I still see that side of you every now and then.

You are not one to react with dramatics or boldness. You take your time, assess, think it through. You are a "measure three times, cut once" type of man.

When you are home, life is so good and when you are away, I miss you. Your testimony and commitment to God warms my heart and makes me feel safe.

You have provided to me the gift of never ever having to be a working mom. Becasue of you, I have been here with them, undivided- every step of the way. I feel that gift in every loaf of bread, every pair of new school shoes and every box of diapers. Thank-you will never be quite enough.

I loved you so much that hot to stormy, August day and I have loved you more everyday since.

Happy 14.

Julz



Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Old Lady that Swallowed a Fly and Other Tender Mercies

I have started and stopped 5 posts in the last week. Living in someone elses space has caused me to loose my writing voice a little. My parents are so kind to let us be here while we wait for our house to be built but it feels a little like my life is not my own for now.

I still cant sit through church without missing my ward and I still cant drive the kids to school in the morning without longing to stay there in the neighborhood-where we belong. Being temporary anywhere just leaves you feeling lost and I find myself thinking of nothing other than the home we left and the home awaiting us.

On the other hand, all these feelings of longing and loneliness for home, produce guilt, especially when I think of my brother who kissed his wife good-bye this week then boarded a plain to Afghanistan.

So chin up right? But in the meantime: boring, lifeless posts, or none at all in last weeks case.

I have learned that time never stands more still, than when you are waiting for something. And the waiting makes me curious. (thanks Alice-I get what you mean) Curious about the decisions we made and the results of those decisions playing out. There were reasons for our move that I have never spoken about. Concerns known only to Scott and I and when I think of those things, I remember about faith and how without faith, I am left with only fear and second guessing. Boy am I good at second guessing. Amazingly enough there are tender mercies at every turn. The evidence of Heavens love all around...it never leaves, never hides and never gives up, even when I have my head buried deep under the covers and fail to notice it.

Heavens love delivered by tender mercies this week....

Sunday was fast Sunday. My 3 older kids fast along with Scott and I, the twins until lunch time and Kaden goes all the way through. Every fast Sunday Branson makes speeches to me about how starving he is. My response is always the same,

"then go eat."

And then he wails about how he just cant because he'll feel bad....
"but I'm STARVING...WAHHHH!"
That boy is in a battle with himself, I tell you. But my fast Sunday was sweet and tender as I love seeing Kaden's determine efforts to be obedient. He is a champ on fast Sunday. His 12 year old, growing frame can have an absolutely insatiable apatite, he eats all day long. But once a month he quietly goes with out and does it so full of faith that it inspires me. We do hard things Kaden boy and someday Branson will too...thanks for your example.



































Another tender mercy has been Brylee's swimming. She's pretty good.












































And by pretty good, I mean that in her last 2 meets she has come home with 5 golds, 1 silver and the high point trophy from city finals.  Now, if that isn't a grotesque display of parental bragging, I don't know what is, but seeing her speed through the water and love every minute of it, is a joy to me.

And while I am at it, I could tell you that she has a gorgeous body lined with muscle,  a head set on determination and a heart full of kindness and sportsmanship. I could tell you that she swam against one of my best friends girls (giving us a good excuse to reminisce) and that her swim meet was the most fun I have had in ages.


























Ella tells me everyday that, she NEVER wants to grow up to be a Mom. She says that,

"Mom's don't like gum, they don't play dress up and if I grow up to be a Mom then my swimmy suits wont fit."

Valid points, right?  But then why do I find her like this....








































It warms my heart. She even uses the steps of the stairs to play, "church", where she and several babies sit reverently for like 5 seconds. She gets her babies to be reverent for about as long as I get mine to be,  in real church. Only I at least see that my babies are dressed, hers always worship there on the stair, entirely nude.

























Ella can really wear me out. She has a demanding side to her that I swear could break Al-Qaeda. But she's got a goodness in there also and when it shows up, I like to indulge completely in  her sweetness. So last night when she came to my bed and told me to turn off the t.v. (Olympics) I gladly clicked the button and gathered her in. She likes to lay smack on top of me, her tummy to mine and then she lifts her shirt for a back tickle. Oddly enough, her song request as of late is,

"There was an Old Lady that Swallowed a Fly".

So I sing and tickle and breath-in every bit of her 4 year old self. I try to memorize the weight of her body on mine and the curve of her cheek on my chest. There is nothing as pure as the feel of a baby, going from awake to asleep right in your arms. The last flutter of heavy eyes, the way their breathing slows into deep, long huffs and the pressing feel of a sleeping frame molded around you is something of Heaven.

Branson conquered sock folding. A true miracle to behold! He's the first of my children to master this skill and if I do nothing else good as a mother, count me a success for this accomplishment, could you please? All other faults can be forgiven of a child who can properly fold socks. Amen.




























And although Cali is at her prime-empty out every cupboard and drawer-age, she is always, ALWAYS a tender mercy in my life. Cant get enough of her baby delight!


















The tender mercies of the Lord are available to all of us and that the Redeemer of Israel is eager to bestow such gifts upon us.
Elder Bednar