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.

Magic.

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.



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What Matters



When I read way, way back into the pages of my early parenthood, I gag.

My goodness, I was ridiculous. When I was a growing child in my parents home I thought that I would eventually produce little angel babies that were perfect and that everyday as their Mother would be glory. And ladies and gentleman I tried to paddle in that stream of "ideal mother" for a LONG time. I started out really caring about important things like combed hair and carrots everyday and chore charts. I read about family systems and family motto's and rewards and all that JAZZ. I even implemented these things with fervor. I think I even taught my children at one point to wash their hands (every time, ha!) after they use the bathroom. I certainly believed in bedtime and book reading and all these awesome family traditions that I would keep up with. I cared at least some about safety and the avoidance of bodily harm for my brood.

But guess what? I kinda stink at all that. We have been through approximately 15 million different money systems. I cant DO IT. I always let these systems fizzle and die. Chore charts, 28 million. I will never in all my days make another chore chart. No rewards on your door, no points, or marbles or sticks or anything. Sorry about that Children.When chores need to be done, I just tell the precious children to do them. No gold star for you, just DO IT. Healthy food is awesome, I make a valiant effort but I will tell you now that the whole entire year after Cali was born, as I slept um, never,  and tried to feed a baby that would NOT-- my other 4 orphaned children ate white flour, in the freezer frozen waffles- every day. I have let my girls go summer days on end with the same pig tails. Just the other day Branson slid down the mud hills left over from construction and doused in summer rain on his belly for an hour. I loved it. I let him use power tools. I gave him his OWN hot glue gun. I hand my 3 year old paint and say, GO FOR IT.   We don't own knee pads, shopping cart covers or trampoline nets. I no longer hold my self to the daily regiments that say for every 150,000 minutes of reading you earn 30 minutes of TV. When I want the TV off, I turn it off. When I want them to read something I had them a book.

By Sunday night my home looks like a frat house. I believe in clean organized places with all my soul but I have people here. Humans that LIVE and PLAY and EAT and rarely, even though they have been taught, clean up voluntarily BEFORE lets say I turn into the Hulk and demand a clean up.

My children argue. My children tease. My children ride down the stairs on snow sleds. My children spill something every 1.2 minutes of my life. Yesterday,  Branson and his buddy cooked bacon out on the sidewalk -with a lighter.

What I am trying to say is we are less than perfect here. I am less than perfect. I stopped caring LONG ago if all my children look perfect before we leave, or eat perfect everyday or read my carefully thought out "summer reading"list. (Who am I kidding, I never even tried the blasted summer reading list).

But, children don't need a perfect home, they need a loving home. And boy can I love. I care about scriptures, prayers and kindness. I care about TIME together. I don't worry as much about one of my kids scraping a knee or falling off a tree branch or running the neighborhood barefoot as much as I care about teaching them to avoid spiritual injury. My energy goes into LOVE more than into charts and systems and timed TV limits.

Prayers.
Scriptures.
FHE

That's what matters around here. So I hope my grown up kids will forgive me for not making them organic lunches with star shaped sandwiches. I hope my girls will forgive me the buns they wear 4 out of 5 days to school. I hope they don't resent the fact hat I never looked up fancy hair styles on Pinterest and I never threw them a birthday party that looked like a magazine spread. I hope they aren't scared for life over not having a chore chart that ever worked or a reward for when they picked up their own darn mess.

I am totally over perfect. I am totally into what matters.


























“Am I committing my time and energies to the things that matter most?” There are so many good things to do, but we can’t do all of them. Our Heavenly Father is most pleased when we sacrifice something good for something far greater with an eternal perspective. Sometimes, that may even mean nurturing small but beautiful forget-me-not flowers instead of a large garden of exotic blooms."
Dieter Uchdorf




Thursday, October 2, 2014

Swimmer

I love high school sports. I grew up on high school sports. I have been waiting to have a kid in high school sports for a LONG time.

It has been so fun watching Kaden swim this season. He is one of only 2 Freshman on the varsity swim team and he is learning and growing and getting faster by the week. There is just something about swim teams that I love, these are good GOOD kids. These kids have been getting up early every summer of their lives, enduring grueling practices and getting good grades. They are awesome and I am thankful that Kaden is a part of this team.

Even though the 6 days of the week practices and meets are totally draining! I don't know how he keeps up. I don't know how I keep up. 

I should get a trophy.

So proud of you Kaden!


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wet Weekend







































I had a lovely weekend. Of which I don't have any pictures. I am the last living inhabitant of America to NOT own a smart phone. My old phone does little more than call and text and sometimes gets in a mood and wont even do that. SO, since I refuse to lug my huge camera around and my phone only takes teeny tinny unseeable photos, I just enjoy my life and forget the photos. Which I usually regret.

Friday night I took the kids to the school carnival. One of the many reasons that I love our school is that we only have one fund raiser ALL YEAR!

Gone are the days of taking my kids fund raiser packets and throwing them straight in the trash because I hate them. Dear fund raising packets, you are NOT welcome in my life and I here-by ban you for eternity.  Gone are the days of yanking my kids out of school on the day of "you can win a limo ride if you sell 500 tubs of cookie dough" assembly. Those things should be outlawed.

Nope just one little school carnival. I can handle that. Cali spent the whole time at the little petting zoo. Ella cried, begged, and generally made herself miserable until, blessed be the heavens above, she found a friend and ran off.

Branson was gone before I put the car in park and Brylee had to work the whole thing because she thought it would be fun to be on student counsel. She fell asleep approximately 30 seconds after getting home. Scott and I were able to sneak away after that for a late dinner and then on Saturday it rained. Which here in the desert just makes for an automatic good mood. We rented two red box movies and let the thunder out our door carry on while we all crashed on the couch. Good stuff. Brylee and I then put dresses on and headed out for the General Womens Conference of our church. So good and so inspiring. Then we made a quick dash through the rain, got dinner and then dessert mind you. We had a great time together. I have the best big girl in the whole world.

Sunday was our Primary Program. It was a slice of Heaven. I loved everything about it. As I crouched down on that itty bitty nursery chair, next to the pulpit, I felt such a surge of love for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And for all those lovely children that I have the pleasure of loving each week.

And now I am totally ready for October Break and then when October break is over I will be totally ready to send those kiddos the heck back to school. I have come to a good place in my life where I am happy to have the school kids home on the days off and happy to send them back. I don't panic anymore about what they are facing and dealing with while they are away. Nope! Instead I have decided that I have raised some pretty brave and good kids, they are able to face it and win. And besides, parenting is beyond exhausting and I need that mental break, I do. There I said it!