Monday, September 28, 2015

Shells and Prayers

Oh I had a good time packing up with my two little girls and spending a few days at the beach. I feel like it healed a few things between Ella and I. Ella is a dramatic girl and that drama can sometimes get her into trouble. She tends to throw fits is what I am trying to say. She has the most tender and kind heart, she loves beauty, has a brilliant imagination and she is good at a lot of things but boy oh boy can she hang onto a fit like you wouldn't believe. Strong willed is putting it gently. I really wanted to be her friend on this trip and love her better than maybe I have been over the past few weeks of chasing my 3 big kids and their crazy schedules.

I am such a believer in Heaven's help in parenting. I feel entitled as a Mom to divine direction and counsel. I know that the Lord knows what to do in any tough situation and I know He wants to give me that information and inspiration. When I am doing a good job with my prayers and scriptures that Heavenly help seems to come so easily and I have come to rely on it so much.

One evening Cali, Ella and I were the last ones left down on the beach. All day all the kids had been finding awesome shells. They were hoarding them like little treasure hunters and then they would compare their collection and go back looking for more. The shells had become a hot commodity. The sun was setting making millions of broken shells,  that were scattered all along the edge of the water, glitter and shimmer against the sand. The waves would roll in and then the girls and I would do a quick hunt for good shells just when the water would pull back and reset for another round. I found a peach colored spiral shell and gave it to Ella. She loved it! She had that precious little shell squeezed tightly in her fist for quite a while and then-an unexpected wave washed in and pulled that little treasure out of her hand and swallowed it before we even had a chance.

And then the crying. Poor Ella cried with her whole heart for that shell. She wailed. Swore that she was staying right there on that beach until she found it and I believed her because well...strong will and all. I found a bunch more really great shells but nothing was working and then I went for the guilt by saying, can you please cheer up so that we don't end our fun day with crying? Still she persisted. Then as I felt myself starting to feel mad and frustrated with her I asked for help. A quick prayer for an idea that would turn her heart around and let us end on a happy note. And in a moment I knew what to do.

I told Ella I wanted to sing her a song about shells. I sang the whole first verse of Pearly Shells and then when I got to when I see them my heart tells me I love you, more than all those little pearly shells I pointed to all the shells on the beach and Ella leaned over and gave me a hug. There were no more tears, I told her that she was more special to me than all the shells in the whole ocean.

And she is. Heaven was not far.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Break Time

Ey-ey-ey! This first quarter of school has nearly done me in. I am counting the days now until October Break. If I wasn't too tired I would staple a paper chain together because I am looking forward to it like it was Christmas when I was 7.

Some of my friends and acquaintances and family have taken big trips with their husbands away from their kids recently. Just yesterday Scott and I were talking about this and we both looked at each other and busted up laughing. The idea that we could actually leave seems completely ridiculous. The list of "to do's" for the babysitter would be nigh unto solving the worlds hardest equation.

BUT we did get away for one glorious night a few weeks ago for our 17th anniversary. 17 years is a good run and we figured it needed at least 24 hours devotion. Sweet rest for the soul it was! My brother Josh and his wife Emily stayed over with the kids. When we got home the next day I told Scott that I had never had such a great experience leaving my kids. Emily acted like I had done her a favor by asking her, my whole house was clean including vacuum lines and the kids hadn't missed us one bit. It was a miracle.

Breaks are so important. Life is intense and demanding and it is so good to step away from time to time. This morning I saw a look of complete weight and heaviness on Kaden as he walked out to the car for A-hour. That boy, he is feeling too. He keeps a tough schedule and this quarter has been so hard. He has a huge swim meet today and tons of homework and I am so happy that October Break is finally in his sights. Even though he has 2-a-day swim practices for the whole break...uggg! But really could any Mother be more blessed than I am with this Dear Sweet Big Ol Teenager for a son? Here he is learning to drive..

Yesterday when I was getting through an editing job I clicked open a folder of pictures from the summer and found this sweet LOVE staring back at me.

Mom, I have a surprise for you...

Ta Da...

What I wouldn't do for these 5. I love them heart and soul...even though they make me tired they also make me happy.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

More Than I Am

I sat here in tears the other morning with so many things demanding my attention. I felt like that person of interest that you see in news clips that is in the middle of a crowd of reporters and photographers. They are all stuffing microphones in the persons face, yelling questions at them and snapping a flash in their face. The person will sometimes just pull a hoodie over their face and run for it. My hoodie is on and I am bout to pull the string and run.

I couldn't even think through the list of urgent needs. Should I clean up the morning mess of breakfast, lunch making, shower taking, clothes changing, should I sit down and write those hand written primary notes that I have been so wanting to get to, should I actually take a shower and get myself presentable, I still need to exercise though, should I just sit down and read my scriptures that I only got half way through this morning at the crack of dawn, I really need to log in and check on Brylee and Bransons assignments and grades, darn, I still haven't written that email that Scott asked me to send, when is Kaden's dual enrollment tuition due? I know that's coming up oh and that $8 that was due last week for Brylee's cheer bow, maybe I should fold the three loads of wash on the folding table...

My heart was hurting as it was being pulled and yanked into all these separate places. I dont know what to eliminate and yet I am so tired of being one step behind...always. I finally just knelt down near the couch and flopped forward with my head buried in my arms. And prayed. I feel so comfortable telling the Lord that I am overwhelmed, sad, discouraged...whatever it may be. I am so thankful for my personal Father daughter relationship that I have with Him. I know He wont swoop down and clean my kitchen, or write all those notes, what loving parent would want to just take over and eliminate the opportunity for their child to grow. But He makes me more than I am and better than I ever could be alone. He helps me to clearly see what is most important and what to do first and what can sit and wait for another day and He helps me to feel OK about it even when leaving something for another day usually gives me huge anxiety. He calms my heart, soothes my spirit and teaches my line upon line.

Prayer builds that relationship. Prayer is our anchor and life line. How I love the power of prayer, ask and Ye shall receive knock and it shall be opened unto you.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Life on the Roll

Does your camera roll on your phone tell the best stories? Mine does. I love to scroll through old photos and remember happy moments in time and relive the good memories.

Cali in the rain. So cute

One Saturday morning my dear friends Amy and Jaime and I were texting each other the ridiculous messes in our homes. Sometime its just nice to know you aren't alone in the struggle for a clean house!

Branson and Scott going over football plays. 

This was Cali's first day of pre-school. She hopped out of the car...

I made her stop for a picture, and....

See ya Mom! 

Branson is a 7th grader on a 7th and 8th grade football team. There are some boys that are bigger than Scott. Holy Cow. 

I LOVE watching Brylee cheer! It brings back so many great memories. I really really enjoy cheer and I love sharing my experience and knowledge of the sport with Brylee. 

Cali was just desperate to fly a kite. Finally we got a good wind storm and Branson took her out to get that thing in the air. It was a dream come true! 

Cute Ella at school. 

Oh happy day! Wal-Mart finally carries Biscoff. You are a little late to the game Wal-mart, a little late. 

The two sisters. Sigh. This is where they sleep every night. Right on the floor in our room and the one cant go without the other. What a joy sisters can be, I am so glad they have eachother. 

And speaking of sisters. Cousins are a close second. Not more than 6 months separates these little babes. So lucky to have built in best friends. 

One morning Brylee was getting her shoes on just before heading out to school. I couldn't take how stinking adorable she looked with her ripped jeans and cheer bow all ready for the pep-rally. She is growing up and sometimes I hardly recognize her. 

We had a fun FHE the other night with the jelly belly game. So many gross flavors so little time. Just as we were finishing off the last of the vomit flavor jelly belly's a giant monsoon came blowing through and the kids ran for their swim suits and had a great time playing in the rain. 

The other day Ella wore a very high bun and giant bow in her hair to school. When we got in the car to leave she also added to her ensemble a huge pair of giant, sparkly, blue sunglasses. On the way to school, I said, "Ella, I am pretty sure those shades are against dress code."  Then Ella looking all offended, "Why in the world would these be against dress code?" Me, "Well I think they would be a distraction." Ella, "Mom, these are not a distraction."  Me, "Also, you have them on upside down." Ella, "Um Yeah, because if I put them on the right way they fall down and then they would be a distraction.!" So off she went with her very high bun, giant bow and her huge sparkly sunglasses. 

Our school played cousin Belle's school. Rival school cousins are the best!

Big brothers are the best.

This make-shift bridge was for FHE the other night. After I cut it up, it was so hard to put back together that I had to take a picture just to keep track of where the pieces went. Clearly puzzles are not my thing.

I don't love everything about phones, internet and technology but I do love having a camera in my pocket. And I sure love the stories that camera helps me to remember.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Are You There?

All I think about lately is my family. I am constantly looking at the calendar and trying to plan the next family outing, the next family home evening, the next time all of us can have dinner together, the next time we can all sleep in and I can make them a big breakfast. I have always been mindful of family time but something in me now has gone into over-drive. I know it has something to do with Kaden's upcoming 16th birthday. 16 means that my time is running very short.

I try not to let anything be more important than my time with my kids and sometimes that can be pretty tricky. This last weekend there was a family project day scheduled for a family member who is moving into a new house. All the adults were supposed to come and help paint the house and do other jobs to ready the house for moving in. My heart sank because all of my kids are home on Saturday mornings, (a rarity). I like to make them breakfast and I like to work with them through our Saturday chores. Our big kids are old enough to come help but if we brought all our big kids then we would have no one home to stay with the little ones who were of course not exactly invited to the painting day. 

While most of the other adults in our family stayed most of the day, Scott and I only stayed for a few hours. I felt guilty and torn but in my heart I know that home is where I need to be when my kids are home, which is becoming less and less as they get bigger. 

And then late last night I got a text to come to a 7:15 work out. I love working out. Its hard for me to say no to this sort of thing. But I had promised my kids that we were going to make biscuits and gravy and then plan out a fun day together on this rare day off of school. Excersize for me has to happen in the wee hours of the day and not during a time when I can be with my kiddos. 

Things just change as kids grow up. They are gone. They have their own lives. They are on teams, have jobs, make plans with friends and it becomes harder and harder to have all of your children together. As a Mom you have to sort of force it. You have to give up, sacrifice and plan to make it happen. But when it does- it pays off. Family unity solidifies. Memories get made, and you can see that when you make the effort,  your kids-even those big ones whose wings are stretched and ready for flight-come home. 

Every day the phrase "Mother are you there?"  from a wonderful Robert D. Hales talk goes through my head. I truly want to be there, I truly love being there, there is no where else I'd rather be. There have been times over the years that instead of looking at the calendar and trying to find family time I was looking at the calendar trying to find away time. Any time at all that Scott and I could escape and get a break. I had all these little ones and I was literally with them 24/7, breaks were important and I definitely looked forward to them. But before you know it those Littles get big and they aren't home with you all day anymore, it becomes easier to get a break and harder to be with them. I am so grateful to be a Mom and everyday and every moment that I can have with these quickly growing kids by side is a treasure. 

For our interactions with [our children] to truly touch their hearts, we have to pay attention to them just as we would pay attention to a trusted adult colleague or close friend. Most important is asking them questions, letting them talk, and then being willing to listen—yes, listen and listen some more—even hearken with spiritual ears! Several years ago I was reading the newspaper when one of my young grandsons snuggled up to me. As I read, I was delighted to hear his sweet voice chattering on in the background. Imagine my surprise when, a few moments later, he pushed himself between me and the paper. Taking my face in his hands and pressing his nose up to mine, he asked, “Grandpa! Are you in there?”
Mother, Father, are you in there? Grandpa, Grandma, are you there? Being there means understanding the hearts of our youth and connecting with them. And connecting with them means not just conversing with them but doing things with them too.

So we spent the morning cleaning, then went to lunch then to open skate at the ice-skating rink and then we hit ice cream cones on the way home. After a quick swim in the pool Grandma and Grandpa joined us for FHE. It was a good day. I'd like to have a million more just like it.

Later, Cali brought me this sweet little picture. "Mom, this is us when we go'd ice-skating." And then my heart died of love and joy over this family of mine.