Monday, June 19, 2017

18 Summers

I wish someone would have told me when I was a young Mom that my summers would be numbered. 18 summers seems like a lot but let me tell you it wont be 18. Once these kids hit 12 they start leaving you. Scout camp, girls camp, EFY, friends trips, sports camps. Long gone are the days when I thought summer would never end and filling the days with all my kiddos home was HARD. Long gone are the days where summer meant my kids were all mine all summer.

But oh how fun it is to see them grow and GO and fly!

Brylee has hardly sat still all summer. She started with girls camp with her cousin Belle and then off to EFY. One thing I so love about Brylee is she is not afraid to be in a setting where she doesn't know anyone. For girls camp she literally only knew her cousins and they were not in the same group but that didnt phase her a bit, she went, made new friends and came back with great memories. She went to EFY with a cousin and two friends but came home with a whole crowd of new friends. Plus those sweet friends did a great job taking care of her on her birthday. We all cracked up when Brylee and her cousin ended up accidentally packed the same dress. Twinners!

Kaden took off to surf camp with his Priest quorum and I literally ended up with 1 (you heard me 1) picture and that's it. Branson had a camp as well but chose to miss it as he is pretty dedicated to his Freshman football team and didn't want to miss practice. But both boys will be leaving for a LONG three week trip that has been in the works for a couple years and I will MISS them like CRAZY! It really deserves a post of its own if my heart doesn't break in the mean time.

I LOVE my teenagers even if they are determine to leave me!

These Twins

My twins are 15. These little baby twins are 15!

They are the best and I am so thankful for that very special day when we saw two little figures on the ultrasound screen. Brylee decided to LEAVE us on her bday and spend the week at EFY with her friends but we did slip in a few fun things with her before she left of which I have very few pics. She went ice-skating with her friends and we were able to sneak some birthday notes into her EFY bag. I have decided that Brylee is the kind of girl that everyone needs for a daughter. MAN she is good. She is kind and easy going and even though she loves her family she isn't afraid to stretch her wings. She has never held back from trying something new, going on an adventure or making new friends.

Branson spent the day off at a water park with his friend but then we were able to take him to dinner. I love being with Branson because he loves to have deep important conversations and he is ever aware of those around him, holding doors, carrying heavy things and making his sisters laugh. I also love how he loves Brylee. He'd choose Brylee over just about anyone when it comes to hanging out. They truly enjoy each other and the older they get the more I see the security that has developed in them from always knowing the other one is there.

Football, volleyball, cheer, track and swimming keep these two busy but I am so happy to be their mom and I love who they are becoming. Twins is seriously just about the best thing that can happen to a Mama and I'm so thankful.

Our Tribal Leader

I am so thankful for Scott. He is a good selfless man that strives each day to be who the Lord wants him to be. The best advice I think I can give to my girls is to find a man that loves the Lord. If he does then he will be selfless and he will be good. Not perfect or flawless, not strong every moment, not with out weakness and not mistake proof but good and kind and always striving to be better. Of all the attributes of the Savior, that helped Him live a perfect life, I think His perfect selflessness was perhaps the one that saw Him through the atonement and the cross. He loved God first and He loved us second and that is how He became the Savior of the world. When I think of righteous fathers, carrying the weight of their whole family on their shoulders, spending their hard earned money on others and their time on serving their family my heart swells. Righteous Fatherhood is so selfless and I am so thankful to see that kind of fatherhood in action every day. My heart honestly can not contain the love and respect and devotion I feel when I see Scott act in his God-given role as a worthy priesthood holder in our home.  

 I love this quote from Sam Levenson. Sam was one of ten children and he was raised by immigrant parents during the depression. 

"Friday night's dinner was a testimonial banquet to Papa. For that hour, at least, he was no longer the oppressed victim of the sweatshops, the harassed, frightened and unsuccessful breadwinner, but the master to whom all heads bowed and upon whom all honor was bestowed. He was our father, our teacher, our wise man, our elder statement, our tribal leader."

If only all men (in books, movies, TV shows and in reality) were shown this sort of respect and if only all men lived in such a way to deserve it. The world would be a different place. 

In our home the world is far away as Scott loves and leads our little imperfect tribe and I sure love him for it. We LOVED celebrating him yesterday and I am so thankful for all he does for me and our children.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Enjoy the Magic

One more post to wrap up MAY, I cant write about May without including a little bit about the amazing school year Ella had, I want her to always have these memories to look back on!

Years ago Brylee and Branson were lucky enough to get the famous Mr. Eyre for 2nd grade. I'll never forget another Mom saying to me "enjoy the magic" when I told her that the twins were going to have Mr. Eyre. I thought, "seriously, its 2nd grade, how magical can it be?"

Turns out, when your teacher is Mr. Eyre, second grade can be all sorts of magical.

Branson was a strong willed, hard to parent kid in those days, I struggled to figure out the right ways to Mother him and I often felt discouraged and worried that I wasn't getting it right.  But more than once I remember crying happy tears as I read emails from Mr. Eyre. Here is just one example of those emails from August of 2010:

Branson and Brylee are some of the most amazing kids I have ever known. You can tell a lot about a kids parents when you teach them and you guys are doing a fantastic job. Brylee and Branson are both true leaders and will be for the rest of their lives. They are so eager to learn. They're such a great example to their classmates, not only academically but also in how they conduct themselves, I am honored to be their teacher. 

That same school year Mr. Eyre decided to move up to third grade and take his 2nd grade class again. We were thrilled and felt so blessed that the twins would get another year in Mr. Eyre's class. They had so many amazing experiences and by the time those two years were up their self confidence was soaring. What I have noticed as one of the main ingredients to Mr. Eyre's ability to build up a child's self image is that he shows them by his actions and words that he as their teacher he LOVES being there, he LOVES to teach them, he LOVES to learn with them, He LOVES to be around them. Common phrases from him are things like:

Monday is my favorite day becasue I get to start a new week with my class!
I have the best job in the whole world!
I cant wait for Spring Break to be over so I get to come see you all again!
I am so sad that its May, I just don't want this school year to end.
This is the best class ever but every class is the best class ever because every year just keeps getting better and better.

Its amazing what it does to a child's heart to KNOW and FEEL that their teacher (or parent or any adult) WANTS to be with them.


Brylee often wrote notes like this on her papers:

This last school year it was finally Ella's turn to be in Mr. Eyre's class. She had been waiting and waiting and was so excited. Because of some academic struggles that Ella has Mr. Eyre came over during the summer and set her up on our computer with some learning programs. School hadn't even started yet and Mr. Eyre was already sending the message that Ella mattered and he wanted to help her.

The year was filled with so many fun and unique activities and most of all confidence building for Ella and tons of extra help before and after school. Nothing is sweeter as a parent than seeing your child feel good about themselves. And there is a special kind of love and appreciation that swells in your heart for other people who love your children.

Over the years Mr. Eyre has become a dear friend, Scott was able to help him with his Real Estate needs and he has always made an effort to come to our baptisms and concerts and other events the kids have. This year Mr. Eyre was awarded "Teacher of the Year" and we were not a bit surprised. Teacher of the century more like it.

Excerpts from an end of the year email:

Seriously Julianne and Scott, I can't even put into words how much I have loved being Ella's teacher this year and how proud I am of her. One of my very favorite things this year was after-school tutoring on Thursdays with Ella. It's really one of my highlights of my whole teaching career. The reason I became a teacher was to have experiences like that...when a student is so willing to learn, so eager to learn, and has an attitude that they can learn and understand anything. It was amazing seeing her make those connections in her mind and see so many light bulbs turn on. And to see her be so proud of herself when she grasped the concepts. It happened a lot in class, too, but particularly during those Thursday tutoring sessions I just had some of the greatest feelings I think a teacher can have when a student really grasps a concept and finally "gets it."

She has such an amazing mind and is such a wise soul. There is no praise too high for what she accomplished this year. The crowning moment was when she got 100% on that last math test (probably the hardest test of the year) and we entered it into Infinite Campus together to see what it did to her grade. It boosted her overall math grade to an A- and the look of joy and pride on her face was just priceless. That qualified her for the Principal's list and it was such an honor to give her that award.

To say that Scott and I are grateful for the blessing Mr. Eyre has been to our kids would be an understatement. I'm so glad that this year Ella got to "enjoy the magic". 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Birthday and Mother's Day

My birthday and Mother's Day always fall in the same week. Branson worked especially hard this year to make me feel special. He worked for a solid week in secret to build me a beautiful oversized frame. One afternoon, I found out later, he road his bike to the hardware store and rode all the way home with lumber perched on his shoulder. Ill always remember the extra effort he through to give me something he made with his own effort, time and love. Kaden really should be in the photo too as he funded the whole thing! Branson has the skills but not the funds! Ha!

I really enjoyed Mother's Day. It wasn't anything special or elaborate but I've never needed that. I just need my kids and Scott around me and then I'm happy. I try to remember that its not "all about me" but just a special day to be especially thankful for the chance at Motherhood.

My birthday was a busy May day (as every day in May is) but the twins stayed home and missed first hour and went to breakfast with Scott and I. It was such a fun morning. Later that day Ella had her school music concert and then we were able to get dinner together. I even got a nap! Which is my favorite birthday treat!  (Apparently the yellow shirt was my favorite for birthday week)

Monday, June 12, 2017

No Such Thing

I don't usually get annoyed at cultural issues because I honestly just-do-not-care. In my opinion everyone is trying to do the best they can and the best they know how at the stage they are at in their life. I don't judge, I don't label and I always give the benefit of the doubt. I make decisions for what I (and my family) will or will not do and I don't really give a thought to what other families decide for them selves. Who-has-the-time? Who-has-the-energy?

I read a blog post from a popular and amazing blogger titled, "Not Your Typical Mormon Mom". It was a great post with great points but here's the thing...What the heck is a "Typical Mormon Mom"? Why is that even a thing? UGG!

If I had to guess I would say that 100% of people, if polled, would put me in the "Typical Mormon Mom" category.

Oh SURE! I wear long shorts, I stay home with a gaggle of 5 kids while my husband works, I married at the stupidly young age of 19, I wear board shorts over my one-piece swim suit, I don't drink caffeine, I drive a Yukon XL, I grew up in a family of 10 siblings, I was born a member and have always stayed faithful to my faith and Church, my two sons are about to receive their Eagle Scout Award. I don't have tattoos, piercings or shaved hair, my schedule is dictated entirely by carpools. I live 5 seconds away from a temple. My husband is a returned missionary, has served in the bishopric and is now the ever-lovin Scoutmaster!  I LOVE the scriptures, I love the Prophet, the temple, The Savior and I loved serving as Young Women's President, Primary President and in all of my other callings. See that typical Mormon family picture above? That's us. Typical, Typical, Typical. And sometimes I think that all of this "typical" translates into, "Oh you wouldn't understand, you silly,  typical, naive Mormon girl."

Well...WELL! Did you know that I have a sister with multiple tattoos and piercings and no custody of her 4 children? A brother that has been in and out of jail?  Another sister that has left the church entirely? Not gone "inactive" LEFT. My Dad never served a mission. I have a younger brother that is an alcoholic, a cousin that died, this year, at 27 from drug use, 3 siblings that live unmarried with a girlfriend or boyfriend. Between Scott and I we have 3 divorced siblings, one divorced twice. I have a sister in law that has been married for 6 years with no children that loves serving actively in the US Army. I have a brother that did professional MMA fighting. I have another brother that stays home with his two boys while his wife works. I have a nephew that is gay. Typical? Really?

I love these people. They live ENTIRELY differently than I do but I still LOVE them, I love their kids, and I love their triumphs. They are part of who I am, they are part of my story and they are part of how I chose to live and treat others.

So am I "typical"?

Are you typical? I am pretty sure that even if we wear long shorts, have been lifetime members with pioneer heritage and live the "stay at home" life I am pretty darn sure that none of us are "typical". We all have things! We all have stories and issues and hidden heartaches and corkey weird things that don't fit any "mold". And its so great! It is SO SO great that we have all this uniqueness in life experience!

I love being a part of a growing world wide church that has ALL KINDS of people. Lots of them don't look or live so called "typical Mormon" and that is insanely awesome! A few weeks ago a teenager I didn't recognize blessed and broke the sacrament with long hair hanging in his face and I died of love for him and his desire to be there and help provide the sacrament to our congregation. And even those of us that do "look" the part from the outside, believe me when I say, typical is NO SUCH THING. So before you go saying, "oh I am not the typical Mormon" just remember that NO ONE is!

Thank Heavens!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Awards and Such

One of my favorite quotes is this...

In these preparatory years, you young women (and young men) spend much of your time in schools or jobs where you receive accolades, honors, awards, ribbons, or trophies. When you move from that stage to young motherhood (and fatherhood) there is a dramatic drop-off in outside commendation. Yet in no other capacity is there more opportunity to serve selflessly as Christ would do by taking care of hundreds of daily physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. You will bring the light of the gospel into your homes—not to be seen of others, but to build others—men and women of strength and light. Susan Tanner

I love it because its the truth. Awards are great, I am not against awards but I just don't want my kids to "inhale" too much of that kind of thing. I want them to always remember that the praise and recognition of the world will not matter in the end if you haven't been faithful to God and to your family. I want them to learn to do good when no one is looking and when there is no chance for recognition. And at the same time it is so good and so nice to be recognized, especially as a teenager, for the good. Its never a bad thing when you get that little invite from the school saying that your son or daughter will be receiving and award.

For the third year in a row Kaden received the "academic achievement" award which is for students that maintain a 4.0 or higher. This always cracks me up becasue when I was in high school I didn't even know that there was any such thing as higher than a 4.0. Kaden works hard in school, he takes hard classes and he is respectful to his teachers. What a guy that Kaden boy.

Branson was LOVED by his teachers this year. He just has a knack for being witty and funny and handling class in a way that endears him to his teachers. More than once I received an email this year from his teachers telling me what a great kid he is. And I'd have to agree! His Spanish and PE teachers especially took a liking to him. He was awarded the Excellent Student award for the foreign language department.

Brylee was also loved by her teachers but she was especially loved by her coaches. Her track team often practiced at the high school and one of the high school coaches took the time to contact Brylee's junior high and tell them that Brylee was an outstanding athlete and good sport to all her team mates and they looked forward to seeing her in High School. She excells in athletics so we were not surprised when she received 'Female Athlete of the Year".

On the way home we told them how proud we were of them and then I just HAD to add, "Enjoy it while it lasts kiddos!"

Haha! Congrats to my teenage loves! I couldn't be happier or more privledged to be your Mama!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Kindergarten Graduation

Ill never understand Kindergarten Gradation. But it is super cute and super sweet so we go, we clap, we take pictures. And let me just say that I will never have a Kindergartner again and that my friends is sad. Kindergarten is just plain hilarious and I love the 5 and 6 year old years. Sweet and funny as they come if you ask me.

A few weeks later Cali was asking me about summer break and I briefly gave her a run down of the different plans and trips for the summer. I ended my explanation with "and then we go back to school."

Cali looked up at me with hurt and devastation in her eyes and said, "BUT I GRADUATED!" 

I am pretty sure the girl though that when she "graduated" wearing her construction paper hat and yellow yarn tassel that she had finished and by finished I mean no more school for her...ever.

We talked about 1st grade and how exciting and fun it will be and then I held her on my lap and kissed her still-a-hint-of-baby cheeks and felt so grateful for summer and long hours of play and swimming and snacks. I love having my Kindergarten Graduate home for a spell and 1st grade can just stay away for a bit...its my turn.