Friday, December 5, 2014

November Catch Up

Wow, I get behind in a hurry! I have been absolutely drowning in my life these days. We have all the end of semester HUGE projects and concerts. We celebrated Kaden's 15th birthday (be still my heart). We had his swim team banquet, Scott has been adjusting to full time Real Estate after 20 years working in the printing industry, we have been trying to get ready for Christmas, plus my Mom and Dad's birthdays and Scott's and I am running Primary. I was at my computer for an entire 6 hours Monday solely catching up on Primary. Wow! Oh and constant laundry/groceries/cooking/cleaning. Sometimes I wish I could call a cease fire on clothes and food. I would gladly go hungry and wear the same clothes for a few days to spare myself the work and I wish I could get my family to do the same once in a while. OK kids no eating this week, I am taking a break. You don't mind do you? HA!

Kaden is so fun to celebrate. He is an amazing boy and I LOVE being his Mom. No complaints here. He had a bunch of friends over and I embarrassed him a bit by plastering photos of him all over our sliding glass door. After they were all up I stood in front of the window and cried. Scott came up behind me, put his hands on my shoulders and whispered, "Do you miss that baby boy?" Which just sent me into another round of sobs.

Brylee and I have been reading Anne of Green Gables together. Which is a delight by itself. She has also been participating in a performing strings group this semester and did awesome in her recital.

We decided to take off for Thanksgiving so we packed up and headed to California. It was such a good decision! The weather was perfect and we loved spending the day at Knotts and having our Thanksgiving dinner there. It was a true feast and we loved it! We also spent a day at the beach and our last day at the Santa Monica Pier which is a crazy place but the kids loved it!

My favorite part was Thanksgiving morning. We gathered around our little hotel room and I gave a simple lesson on Gratitude. I used the Thankful Tree and showed them how barren and empty life is when we aren't grateful and then we added all our"thankful leaves" and they could see how life is full, colorful and beautiful when you remember to be thankful. Sometimes my lessons are complete flops and everyone fights and complains and I feel defeated. But this was one of those times when the spirit was strong, the kids listened intently and heaven was near.

We also stopped by the LA temple where my parents were married, it's HUGE. And then we stopped no less than 120 times on our way home for a variety of issues, it was a horrible long drive but worth every mile.

Life whirls around me so fast sometimes and to fit in everything seems impossible. IS IMPOSSIBLE.  Especially at Christmas time. But I am most content when I just focus on the most important things. I don't worry too much about a perfect Christmas Tree or a perfect appearance. For the Lord looketh upon the heart, and He is who matters. I want my day to day life and my holiday season to be focused on Him. I am trying to do that and when I fail, I try again the next day.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Like a Leaf in Fall

Ella is dropping teeth like a tree drops leaves in the fall. First they wobble, then they get really loose and then they dangle like an old grape on the vine, and then they drop. Never will she let any of us near her mouth for fear we will not be able to hold back a pull those suckers out. Her fear is justified.

I sent her to school the other day like this...

When she came home the tooth was hanging even more precariously and she told me that at one point in the day her fellow 1st graders started chanting, "pull it out, pull it out!" I thought that it was the most hysterical story of 1st grade ever. But she refused still to yank that thing. Nope she is a stubborn woman and waited patiently until it dropped on its own.

Having a toothless 7 year old just in time for the holiday's (All I want for Christmas...) is totally awesome.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

November-My Favorite Month

I love November. It is the best month of them all. The Arizona weather is golden, cool breezes and a warm favorite. I also became a Mother in November,  pushing November over the top to take the big win for best ever.

Plus, I love practicing and being and remembering to be thankful. I am convinced that gratitude and happiness are one in the same. When I am grateful it sure is hard to be jealous or sad or frustrated. Gratefulness is just the best way to contentment.

After 3 good years with my old, basic phone it was time for a replacement. I am really enjoying having a phone that takes pictures! Just a quick scroll through the photo roll reminds me how lucky and blessed I am.

Ella once again came in first for the girls in her fun run! Such a crack up to see this little Priss get so competitive.

I love that our school celebrates Holidays. On Halloween all the kids and teachers dress up and have parties and parades. Its so old-school and classic and I love it. Its one of the days of the year that I always sign up to help at, mostly because it is hilarious to see so many costumes and kids and candy all over the place. And this year did not disappoint.

Ella and all her little 1st grade girlfriends are very into playing patty-cake games. I totally remember loving these same exact games. Right now they are all obsessed with...Lemonade clap clap clap, Ice tea, clap clap clap, Coco-cola clap clap clap, Pepsi, turn around touch the ground kick your best friend out of town."

So the highlight if my day was when Ella was approached by a boy in her class fully outfitted as a power ranger and played the Lemonade patty-cake game all loud and proud. He knew it perfectly.  I laughed till I cried.

And it helps to be super cute, you get bonus treats at the snack table...

BUT by the end of Halloween night when my kids have been partying for exactly 12 solid hours they are pooped and Ella was going all phyco-tired and miserable by about the first 2 houses of trick or treating. Cali on the other hand was napped and ready and she made the most of trick or treating by using the phrase "Do you have a treat for me?" at every house  instead of "Trick or Treat".


I never did get a picture of my twin lifeguards and Kaden who had been at a swim meet all day was such a good sport to help cart Cali around.

On Sunday we had stake conference and then we had a steak dinner picnic. Steak on stake Conference...get it.

So much to be thankful for and now I think I will be better at getting those moments captured.

We can choose to be grateful, no matter what. This type of gratitude transcends whatever is happening around us. It surpasses disappointment, discouragement, and despair. It blooms just as beautifully in the icy landscape of winter as it does in the pleasant warmth of summer. When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ’s Atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven’s embrace. This is not a gratitude of the lips but of the soul. It is a gratitude that heals the heart and expands the mind. Dieter Uchdorf 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween and My Rules Regarding It

Not that long ago Halloween cost me too much money and too much stress. SO many costumes to organize, classroom treats to send in , parties to help with, carnivals to attend, "You've been Boo'd" treats to return, pumpkins to carve, candy to buy, buckets to remember. And then Halloween and I we had a little talk. I gave Halloween some boundaries and I told him to BACK OFF. And now Halloween and I get along much better.

My rules for Halloween.

If its not in the costume bucket or you cant put it together mostly by yourself from things we already have then you cant be it.

After the ward Halloween party you get to pick a few favorite candies and the rest gets dumped back in MY bucket to pass out on Halloween. Saving money and time and dental bills. A three fold WIN WIN. You WILL be OK since that bucket will get filled right back up on Halloween Night.

If the costume is itchy, hot or uncomfortable or has 5000 props its a NO. I have traipsed around on Halloween night carrying everything from discarded beards, swords, wands, wigs, shoes, and whole bodies of children who have lost their will to take one more step.

You WILL eat before you trick or treat and you will have a water bottle in your bucket. Thus sparing me from the melt down that occurs 3 blocks in--in the form of "I AM SO THIRSTY WHAAAA!"

If you sign up to bring something to your class it must be paper plates or the like. Something that can be easily bought and easily thrown in a back pack.

If you have perfectionism in your veins then lets just skip the whole pumpkin carving trauma. Your blood pressure and my ability to be patient will thank-you.

I probably have more rules about this somewhat weird and annoying holiday but I will have to make those up as I go. For now Halloween is simple and easy and almost free. And by some miracle there were less than 300 events that my children had to dress up for this year so that's something to rejoice about.

Arent they cute...

Maybe I will get a picture of the other three tonight. And if not, life will go on. And as for you Halloween, I would appreciate you not coming back for ONE whole year.

BONUS: Ella lost a top tooth yesterday making her smile perfectly suited for her witch getup!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Going For a Ride

Branson is gone from home quite a bit. He has school, scouts and gymnastics that keep him away. I wish he was home more. But I will admit that he is happiest when he is on the go. He NEVER watches TV, never sits still and hardly ever wants any down time. I recognized this personality trait in him early on and signed him up for gymnastics as a way to help him get all that crazy energy out. Little did I know all those years ago that one little gym class one day a week would turn into Gymnastics Team 5 days a week.

In the mornings he is speedy quick getting ready for school and then while he waits for the rest of us he takes Cali out for rides on the wiggle car. Branson can be such a great big brother. He knows how to take care of kids and he is so good at keeping them entertained. He is also so good at teasing. So good. Heaven help me endure the teasing. Amen.

Even with all that teasing (that he totally inherited from his Dad) he still wraps himself around m heart, I sure love that kid. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Prayer As Sleep Aid

I struggle to fall asleep at night. For some reason when I lay down at the end of each day a feeling of heaviness and panic and anxiety comes over me. So when those heavy feelings squeeze into my chest and make it hard to sleep I recite different things in my head. It is a sort of tool--a distraction and way of comforting my heart when I feel the most vulnerable and the most incapable. Sometimes I repeat my favorite scriptures over and over, many times it is a beloved Primary song... for those sweet melodies hold a magical power to calm me. A lot of the time I talk to my Heavenly Father because I know He cares and I know He wants to hear from me if I am worried--just like I want to hear from my children.

Last night in my thoughts I recited what I would tell someone that knew nothing of prayer all about it. Of course I had no audience or class I was teaching, it was just me and The Lord but maybe someday I will get to say this to someone who needs to know.

Prayer is all over my day. I pray as soon as I wake up. I just kneel right there in my bed and speak to Heavenly Father. I pray again with Kaden after our scripture study but before he leaves for the day. I pray again with the other 4 children after their scripture study. We pray again to bless our breakfast. I pray as I drive, as I run as I sit down to work on Primary or to read my scriptures. Scott and I pray together and I pray before getting into bed at night. Prayer is our link to God. Prayer is how we thank Him, share our feelings with Him and ask Him for blessings that we need. Even though He already knows, He still wants to hear it from us. He wants to know about the small daily frustrations I have as well as the major heartaches and trials of life. He cares about both.  I do not address Him as "you" but instead as "Thee" because I respect Him as my God. I pray to Him but in the name of His perfect Son Jesus Christ. Prayer is comforting and soothing and prayer works in our lives. We don't get everything we ask for and sometimes answers come slow after a lot of time and effort but even this is because He loves us and is lengthening our reach, bringing us closer to Him by helping us strive longer and harder. I am His child not in an abstract, mystical way but in reality. Though He is perfect and almighty He allows us, beckons us even, over and over to come to Him. He does not leave us because He is perfect and we are not. We are His work. He loves us. He knows us. He wants us home again. We have a Heavenly Mother. We don't know Her but I am certain that She knows us. That She is in our lives and aware of our prayers and that if it is Gods work to bring to pass our immortality and Eternal life--well then it is Her work too. Someday we will know Her and we will understand why we didn't know Her here. I don't need to understand everything now. Anyone, anywhere in any situation can pray, prayers can not be stopped by force, not by armies, or guns or prison or guards or sin, we are always free to pray.  Prayer is like breath and life to me and I am so thankful for it. 

And then the fear and anxiety left and I fell asleep.


Friday, October 24, 2014

This Girl's Mother

Brylee is home today. Sometimes a girl just needs a day with her Mom. Sometimes a Mom just needs a day with her girl.

Way back before the world began I must have done something good that granted me the honor of being this girl's Mother. She is good to her core, kind and fun and pretty. I wish she was home everyday.

There is a boy in our neighborhood who has an open crush on Brylee. He professes his feelings quite openly and Brylee can hardly stand the embarrassment of it all. On Saturday I had just finished getting her ready for family pictures. She looked angelic. She was glowing. I walked with her down stairs to show her to Scott and as he was telling her how beautiful she looked, the door bell rang. Knowing it was likely a neighbor kid I called out--"whoever it is send them away, we have to go soon." Brylee-in all her glory-opened the front door. It was the poor kid who has a major crush on Brylee. It was pretty hilarious from our stand point to see him stammer over his request to see Branson. (Yeah, nice try, we know who you came to see kid)  I can just imagine for this adolescent boy that the slow motion, music in the back ground, fire works, scene shot off in his very soul.

Brylee shut the door and we all busted up laughing.

I am so glad that for now those boys are not even on her radar. I am so glad that she is still all mine and that her heart still belongs to her Dad. Someday her heart will move on but mine never will. I sure love that sweet girl.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Love Love

I live a simple life. I am up early with Kaden, I get him off to A hour and then I start the whole process over with the middle three and then Cali and I do chores, make dinner, mop floors, fold laundry, grocery shop, visit teach, calender and wait for the school kids. I try not to make too many commitments or be running around town too often since I think its best for little ones to have lots of consistency and lots of chances to play instead of being strapped in a car seat or a grocery cart.

When Cali really likes something she tells me about it by saying "love, love".

Mom, I love love the big park.
I love love Popsicle.
I love love fersghetti. (Most kids say bsghetti for spaghetti but Cali says fersghetti and who on earth would correct that? It's too cute to fix.)
I love love ride my bike.
I love love read a story.

But lately her biggest "love, love" is painting. She goes-for-it with the paint and usually creates the most amazing pieces of art work.

I love love my Cali girl.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Parry Romberg

Do you ever stay out of a picture because you cant bear to face all the flaws? If I was being perfectly honest I would say that I mostly always stay out of pictures. I have Parry Romberg Syndrom on the left side of my face and when I look in the mirror or at a picture of my self I just see Parry Romberg. The sagging eye, the shifting crooked teeth, the thin damaged tissue near my mouth, the asymmetrical balance of my face. I am in so few pictures with my kids--so sad.

And then we went and had family pictures last week. The whole process of family pictures is SO unfun. I only do it every 3 to 4 years because the level of difficulty is like at a 10 point 0 for sure. 10 point 5000 even. Only this year--it wasn't. My kids are big enough to get themselves dressed and most importantly big enough to take a bribe. You gotta love a good family picture day bribe. "You want to fly to the moon, okay great we'll arrange that,  just smile kid!"

My good friend did most of the hard work but Scott and I snapped a few on the side that I have started to sift through and edit. Even though I still look at this picture and see Parry Romberg Syndrom I also see three amazing beautiful girls that love me AND my flaws. They are the world to me. The world and so much more. Parry Romberg and the heart ache it has brought has nothing on that.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Remember These Things

To Kaden,

Remember that one Monday, of your 9th grade year, when all the other kids had school but you didn't. You and I did all the house work, we cleaned bathrooms together and we talked about basic house cleaning skills that you will need for your mission and for life in general. And for a moment my heart hurt because I know that I am bringing you up only to let you go.  I loved my work that day. You made it wonderful and enjoyable. Try to remember our time together doing ordinary things on an ordinary day, I know I will.

To Brylee,

Remember the October break where you and I played endless games with Cali and Ella. We swam with them in the pool and read like a million stories to them. Remember how we worked together on your Personal Progress and made your Evening of Excellence poster. And don't ever forget how you and I scrambled around at the last minute to get Cali and Ella and you and me ready to go to Evening of Excellence. I loved seeing you shine as you talked about your project. Dont forget how you felt and dont forget that I loved every second of being there with you.

To Branson,

Remember that day that you and the neighbor boy spent many hours collecting the side walk trash and making a "ride" out of it. You used your imagination and your energy and your homegrown building skills. Remember that the next day we babysat Lainey, Lettie and Titan and you tied a rope to the ride, hitched it to your bike and spent hours giving these little cousins rides around the block. That was really nice of you, I want you to remember how that felt. I want you to remember your legs burning and the sweat beading on your forehead. Kindness can be hard work but it feels so good.

To Ella,

Remember how when you were 7 and Cali was 3 you asked her to come with you every time you played out back and every time you took a bath. Remember that she thinks you are the prettiest and funnest friend in the world. Remember how it feels when you practice reading with her and how it feels every night to snuggle up next to her while you fall asleep. You wont always get to sleep right next to that sweet baby sister so don't forget how great it was. Dont forget the fun we have at the park together and always remember that sisters are the best kind of friends.

To Cali,

If I could I would make sure you remember these days of so much time together, just me and you. I know that you will grow up, so I want you to know that me and you are special companions. We go everywhere together and I am so glad that I can still hold you anytime I want. I am so glad that you are here with me each day. I will always remember this time with you, I hope you will remember some of it too.

Sweet kids of mine, remember that its the everyday, mundane and ordinary things that make up most of life. Live those days faithfully and happily. Pretty soon you will look back and realize that little things, daily things, normal things were the most important things. How you treat people, how you love God and how you do your ordinary duty is most important. Remember these things.