Friday, September 30, 2016

More than a Million Blue Crayons

I miss Cali.

I'm not used to her being gone for a chunk of the day and I am always eager to pick her up after school and hear about kindergarten.

The most prized possession in Kindergarten is "Kinder Cash" little green cards that the kids earn for their noble Kindergarten efforts to obey, listen and keep their shoes on all day.  They can use them at the end of the week to buy something (junk) from the treasure box. But they LOVE this whole magical process--Kinder Cash is King-- is what I am trying to say.

A few days ago Cali was showing me her two little Kinder Cash cards and then told me this little nugget...

Mom, Reagan needed two more Kinder Cash to get something from the treasure box so I gave her my two other Kinder Cash. 

On a different day she told me about Kinsley and how she cries at recess becasue she doesn't have a snack so Mom, I open the front zipper on my packpack and give her my snack.

And then the tale of the blue crayon...

Mom, Maddi didn't have a blue crayon and so I gave her mine--I wanted a blue crayon--but its ok Maddi can keep it. 

And then I loved my Cali J more than all the Kinder Cash, blue crayons and GOLD in all the world.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Meeting the World and Conquering It-FHE

I have felt like I should record some of our FHE discussions. Our Family Home Evenings are very casual and usually not outlined. We tend to focus on the big kids and hope that the little girls are absorbing some good bits along the way. I decided it was okay to do that when a very wise Mama told me, "If you focus on the big kids and keep them on the right path, the younger ones will see it, learn it and follow it."

I clean house all during the Monday school day and I always listen to General Conference talks while I clean. Our FHE lessons usually come from these talks and any inspiration I get while I clean and listen. Branson of all our kids has a deep need to be validated in his feelings. One feeling he has repeatedly expressed is that it is harder to be a teenager now-a-days and Scott and I really "don't get it". I have pushed back against that and not really given in. My feeling was that we HAVE been there, WE KNOW.

So Yesterday as I began my work I felt inspired to type in the word "teenagers" in the search bar of and I came across this great talk by President Packer. I was 10 years old when it was given but 27 years later it was just what I needed to hear. (just what I needed to learn) This is part of what he said to the youth:

I wish we could promise you that the world will be safer and easier for you than for us. But we cannot make that promise, for just the opposite is true.
There are temptations beckoning to you that were not there when we were teenagers. AIDS had not been invented when we were young, and drugs were something a doctor prescribed. We knew about opium from reading mysteries, but steroids, pills, and crack and all the rest belonged to future imaginations.
Modesty was not mocked then. Morality and courtesy were fostered in books and films as much as their opposites are today. Perversion was not talked about, much less endorsed as a life-style. What was shunned then as pornographic, you see now on prime-time television.
Your challenge is much greater than was ours. Few of us would trade places with you. Frankly, we are quite relieved that we are not back where you are. Few of us would be equal to it.
But, oh, what a wonderful time to be young! You have knowledge of many more things than we needed to have. It is my conviction that your generation is better and stronger than was ours—better in many ways! I have faith that you young men and young women can meet the world on its own terms and conquer it!
I knew that this would be what our FHE discussion should be about. So that night I explained to the kids that I hadn't acknowledged this before but they definitely face a more challenging world then we did and then we listed a few things.
Pornography wasn't readily available.
PG-13 movies were less violent, had less bad language and less sex.
All the domestic problems such as divorce, abortion, out of wed lock births, single parent homes, were a bit less
Immorality and immodesty were still somewhat looked at as a negative- now if you view those things as "wrong" you are the one that is looked at as negative and judgmental. 
Respect for teachers and adults was expected and was more the norm. 
So we discussed these challenges and several others and then we made another list. I had not planned to do this but the thought came to me and it worked perfect. The second list was all the good things that the kids have access to that we did not.
Individual limited use temple recommends
Mormon Messages
Scriptures, conference and hymns right on your phone
The Internet that allows them to do family history and missionary work
It was a really cool discussion. I loved telling them that as evil and wickedness increases in the world God will always provide the tools to combat it.  At the end,  I repeated President Packers words, "I have faith that you young men and young women can meet the world on its own terms and conquer it." 
Gosh I get teary when I read that. I expressed my own faith that they can and they are meeting the world on its own terms and conquering it.
I LOVE FHE and I LOVE my teenagers. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

His Image and Likeness

I love parenting big kids. ITS HARD but its awesome and I sure love any time I get to spend with them. They usually remind me of some import truth that I have forgotten or recount hysterical stories of middle school drama or High School woe.

Kaden had about point 2 minutes for dinner yesterday after swim practice before he needed to begin his 5 hours of homework. (Really Homework? You are so annoying) He is taking anatomy and physiology this year and he has been fully fascinated by it all. Between mouth fulls of tortellini and sausage soup (new recipe...nailed it!) he asked me, Mom how could anyone believe that our bodies evolved? They are so intricate and so precise and perfect that they had to be created by God.  And then he went on to tell the other kids all about bones and how amazing they are and all their different components that make them work so well and last so long and how it had to be-it could only be-an all knowing God that created us in His own image and likeness.

It reminded me of a few things. One, Kaden has been fascinated with the workings of the human body since he was a toddler. He loved body system books and he even asked for this guy for a birthday present:

I wish I still had it but Kaden played with it and wore it out for so many years that we finally threw it out.

And second it reminded me of a talk that Elder Nelson gave on this very topic. This morning I text it over to Kaden and thanked him for the spontaneous gospel lesson on a Monday evening over tortellini soup.

It is a privilege and joy to be his Mama.

Each organ of your body is a wondrous gift from God. Each eye has an auto focusing lens. Nerves and muscles control two eyes to make a single three-dimensional image. The eyes are connected to the brain, which records the sights seen.
Your heart is an incredible pump. It has four delicate valves that control the direction of blood flow. These valves open and close more than 100,000 times a day—36 million times a year. Yet, unless altered by disease, they are able to withstand such stress almost indefinitely.
Think of the body’s defense system. To protect it from harm, it perceives pain. In response to infection, it generates antibodies. The skin provides protection. It warns against injury that excessive heat or cold might cause.
The body renews its own outdated cells and regulates the levels of its own vital ingredients. The body heals its cuts, bruises, and broken bones. Its capacity for reproduction is another sacred gift from God.
Be we reminded that a perfect body is not required to achieve one’s divine destiny. In fact, some of the sweetest spirits are housed in frail or imperfect bodies. Great spiritual strength is often developed by people with physical challenges, precisely because they are so challenged.
Anyone who studies the workings of the human body has surely “seen God moving in his majesty and power.” Because the body is governed by divine law, any healing comes by obedience to the law upon which that blessing is predicated.
Yet some people erroneously think that these marvelous physical attributes happened by chance or resulted from a big bang somewhere. Ask yourself, “Could an explosion in a printing shop produce a dictionary?” The likelihood is most remote. But if so, it could never heal its own torn pages or reproduce its own newer editions!
If the body’s capacity for normal function, defense, repair, regulation, and regeneration were to prevail without limit, life here would continue in perpetuity. Yes, we would be stranded here on earth! Mercifully for us, our Creator provided for aging and other processes that would ultimately result in our physical death. Death, like birth, is part of life. Scripture teaches that “it was not expedient that man should be reclaimed from this temporal death, for that would destroy the great plan of happiness.” To return to God through the gateway we call death is a joy for those who love Him and are prepared to meet Him. Eventually the time will come when each “spirit and … body shall be reunited again in … perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame,”never to be separated again. For these physical gifts, thanks be to God! 
Elder Russel M. Nelson

Friday, September 16, 2016

Best or Just Good?

Our older three are running us ragged with their school sports right now. I love it so much and they are so fun to watch and then I go home and want to cry at the exhaustion and the dinner at 9pm and the late night homework and the never-full tummies and the sore muscles.

Yesterday I was really hoping that spending so much of our discretionary time on sports is a good choice. Is it a "best" in the whole good, better, best question of things? I mean I am really good at arguing both sides of this question.

There is just something so awesome about working physically toward a goal. Sweating and feeling your heart pound is, to me, just as good for your body as it is for your soul. Learning to deal with disappointment and be happy for the kid that did better than you is a skill some adults don't even have. And learning to lift and encourage those that you did better than is also invaluable. Being part of a team and seeing your parents and siblings cheer you on from the stands is all good. But that's not to say that it can at times become all consuming and that's something to think about. I am glad sports seasons come to an end and that vacations get scheduled. I am glad that I get up at the crack of dawn to make sure those "best" things like family scriptures and prayers happen everyday. And I am thankful to be these kiddos biggest fan.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Scrubbing Clothes on the Washboard

Last  week was unbelievable. Between me and all the kids we had no less than 6 appointments with various doctors, dentists and the like. My neighbor wasn't feeling well and I happily sent Branson to mow her lawn and delivered dinner. We had 1 swim meet, 2 football games, 2 neighborhood flag set ups and take downs, 3 cheer practices, 1 football practice, scouts for Scott, a Labor Day family swim party at our house, mutual for the others, Activity Days for Ella, 1 volleyball practice, an emergency yesterday with one of our neighbors that Scott and I were able to help with and then Thursday night Kaden and I were up until 3 am working on a massive homework project. Not to mention up again the next morning at 5:30 am for zero hour.

Come Friday morning I was absolutely burned. I went running to ease the tension in my body and then I came home and tried, I REALLY TRIED, to face the neglected house work and laundry. But the sight of it was even too much. My energy was so spent and I knew if I didn't get a little rest the day would be a lost cause so I curled up on the couch and dozed off.

While I layed there my mind wandered to a couple family history stories my Dad had sent and I began thinking about my Grandparents, the ones I've never met and only know from stories and black and white photos.

I remembered the tiniest little entry I had read about my Great Great Grandmother Julia West. Over the summer I had read it in a book at my Moms house and I took a picture of it.

Lavern came into the kitchen one day while his mother was scrubbing clothes on the washboard. He noticed the tears on her cheeks as she silently cried. He said, "Mother, whats wrong? Why are you crying? She answered tenderly, "Oh I am just so thankful that I have children to wash for!" Julia said, "The more washing I do for my babies the more I love them." 

In my mind I can see this sweet Mama standing in her simple kitchen next to her washboard, working in her apron while she dripped happy tears of gratitude. I just love her. I love that her little son Lavern caught her at such a tender moment. And I love that she was able to reach across decades and death and time and space and touch her great great granddaughters heart with the courage and gratitude she needed to keep going.