"Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely."

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Weston is 7!

It is almost unbelievable to me that Weston is actually seven years old! It occurred to me on his birthday that I have now spent 20% of my life being a mom. Everything before that was just preparation for this most glorious adventure and I thank God each and every day for the chance to be mom to my kids!  Weston made me a mommy, and I will never, ever forget the feeling I had while looking down at him, cuddled in my arms, only days after his birth.  I was overwhelmed, as most moms are, with my love for him.  I thought I would never be able to love anyone else as much as I loved this incredible, perfect creation!  I was almost convinced that I could never have another child, because it just wouldn't be fair since I could never love another child the same way I loved Weston!  Fortunately, I was wrong.  Awww...these kids!

So, Weston's birthday started off in the typical manner.  I told him I was picking him up for a special birthday lunch which he was thrilled about, since he is not a fan of eating in the lunch room at school.  What he didn't know was that I actually had planned to take him out of school for the rest of the day!  I had planned to go to the Children's Discovery Museum (one of his most favorite places in the world).  After having a fabulous lunch with Jason, we headed off to the museum, but MUCH to our chagrin, it was closed!  We all felt pretty sad, and Weston burst out into tears.  I tried to think of how I could salvage our afternoon, and decided to head over to a large park that we hadn't spent much time exploring yet.
The kids had a BLAST!  And, it was such a bright, warm day that we actually all got a little sweaty...not something most people around the country can say in the middle of February!
I had fun capturing a few moments at the park...
This picture may as well just be a flashback to when Weston was a baby... I can't get over how much they look alike.
This is the look Brighton always gives me right before he darts in the opposite direction.  It's basically a tease to get me to pay attention to him and then prepare to run and catch him!
I loved that there were so many areas at the park suitable for Brighton to play!  Weston just loved being at the park while all his friends were still at school.  He kept asking me if everyone was still in school and what they were doing now.  I thought it was so funny!

Brighton kept being drawn to this bench..  It's not every day you find a bench to match your jammies, after all!
Weston and Sophie couldn't get enough of these slides...they probably spent at least 45 minutes just doing slides...of course, Brighton jumped in too.  I didn't get any pictures of him, though, because I was holding him every time.  Although, if it were up to him I'm sure he would have just plunged ahead on his own!  I have to admit that I kind of enjoyed the slides too...


Sophie is always ready for her turn in front of the camera...
Weston finds posing for a picture a pretty big nuisance, but it is worth the hassle.  Just look at this handsome kid!
After getting home, I quickly whipped up a cake and made dinner (with Jason's help).  Weston got to talk on the phone with some VIP's (grandparents and Uncle Mike), and eat his special sushi roll, which is what he wanted for his birthday dinner.  I don't know if I've ever seen anyone inhale sushi with such enthusiasm!  I thought it was amusing and cute that of all the food in the world, sushi was his choice.

Grandpa Bob and Curtis both came over for dinner, and after eating we had an abbreviated Family Home Evening.  Weston was hoping it could be short so that we would move on to "Weston Home Evening," as he called it. After the brief spiritual portion of FHE, Curtis gave Weston a gift from Grandma Ruth.  Mom wanted the kids to get something special of hers for their birthdays after she was gone, and I was thankful that Curtis picked this out for Weston.  It was a bunch of treasure (rocks from different countries mom had been to) and a golden key.  He related the gift to the scripture we had just read, and told Weston that the real treasure of life could be found through obedience to Heavenly Father and that is the key to happiness! I loved it, because these little things help the kids think of mom and remind them of what mattered (and still matters) most to her.  I want her to have as much influence on them as possible, so I thought the gift was perfect.
Examining the golden key with great interest...
After tearing into the remaining presents, Weston gleefully spent most of the rest of the evening with this cowboy pistol.  Apparently it was asking too much to put the darn thing down for a picture with Sophie...
How much joy can one holster bring?  Apparently, quite a lot...
Grandpa's gifts were such a hit that this is the only non-blurry picture I was able to take of gift opening!  I think it is safe to say that Weston made out like a bandit.  Both Jason's mom and my dad sent legos, which is quickly becoming a new interest...and while I'm not a fan of all the spoiling, I figure that is what grandparents do.  They have earned the right, after all.
Sophie chillin' with "Grampy"
Jason perusing one of the books Weston received...I believe this one is a book about the history of pirates.

It was a satisfying, wonderful day.  I love spending the entire afternoon with Weston and just enjoying the company of family!  What a great life! We are so blessed.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Feb 21, Friday

These are the things on my mind right now, thoughts swirling around, intertwining, and fighting for my attention…

I read a quote today from President Hinckley: "We should work at our responsibility as parents as if everything in life counted on it, because in fact everything in life does count on it.”

This thought underscores something I have been thinking about lately.  I am not a terrible parent, and in some ways I am a fabulous mom.  But in other ways, I stink.  I lack self control at times and yell – something my own parents never did!  Often, I find myself simply not knowing the wise way to handle a situation, or what kind of consequence would actually teach my kids what they need to learn.  The whole goal is to guide and teach them to become capable, successful, emotionally intelligent, hard-working, responsible, respectful adults, right?  Just like any other parent, I want to give them the best of what my parents gave me, and much more.  I want them to be better prepared for life than I was in certain areas.  I want them to want to do the right things for the right reasons.  But I often find myself at a loss.  How do I handle this situation, or that one?  And more often than not, I don’t have time to think it through or even ponder it, because there are 50 million things pulling for my attention – things and people that cannot be neglected!  However, in light of this quote from President Hinckley, I feel that I must focus myself more on improving my mom skills and tuning myself into the real needs of my children.  I guess I have never been great at multi-tasking.  It comes naturally to some, but not to me.  How do I concentrate on so many vital things?  Impossible.  However, I WILL make this a higher priority.

Another thing on my mind – health.  I started to make significant progress in 2013, but lately have dropped the ball.  We’re not all sitting around eating twinkies, mind you, or even eating fast food.  But I know this is an area where I have been slacking – not out of laziness, but maybe out of exhaustion!  I can do better.
I want to be prepared.  Self sufficient.  We are so far away from this goal in almost every conceivable way, although I suppose we are better off than many because of the small preparations that we have already made.  I just don’t know where to begin. It is absolutely overwhelming to me!  One of the most significant dilemmas I face in this realm is food storage.  Food that stores well is mostly crap – or at least lower quality than what I want to feed my family.  I am ok with us all living on sub-par food in an emergency situation!  The problem is that you are supposed to rotate the food…and eat it regularly.  What to do?

Order and organization have never been my fortes.  But it is slightly ridiculous how much organizing (and cleaning) I really need to do.  Why am I typing this right now?  Good question.  I need to get my buns off the computer and start cleaning like a mad woman while the baby is asleep!  My problem in this area is that I never seem to manage more than the bare minimum.  IF I am able to keep the kitchen clean, the floor semi-vacuumed, and all the stuff put away, or mostly put away (including laundry) – even for just a short while -  that is a small miracle.  So I never really make it to the organizing, because I never get past the cleaning first!  Deep cleaning is preceded by surface cleaning, right?  I literally do not know how I will ever make progress on cleaning out the garage, or even just a closet, when it takes all of my best efforts to simply “maintain.”

These are just the largest, most pressing concerns on my mind.  There are at least a hundred more, not the least of which is this decaying society.  And I am so incredibly concerned about our freedoms being snatched away…because our government is absolutely, unabashedly, out of control! I want to do something to fight it!  But I literally have no clue what to do…and the aforementioned responsibilities weigh so heavily on my mind that there is no room for more.  

Keeping one’s head above water is a full time job, especially when you want to create the best for your family.  The best health, education, knowledge, spiritual understanding, purpose and happiness – the pursuit of these things for those you love most literally requires all of your focus and energy.  In fact, it requires more than your best.  You need God’s help.  And I suppose that is what this all comes down to.  I will not be swept away by the tide of my own overwhelm caused by innumerable to-do lists!  And I will not be swept away by my own feelings of inadequacy in the face of so many solemn responsibilities!  I will live deliberately.  I will push forward and not waver in my determination to create the life the Lord expects me to live and create for my children!

However, we need each other.  I need your ideas and suggestions, and I suppose I may have something to offer that you need too. So please, share your insights about any of the above mentioned concerns… I would greatly appreciate it. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Red Letter Day

Today began like any other hectic Sunday morning.  Sophie woke up sad that she wasn't a mermaid.  She said that she had made a wish and it didn't come true that she could be half girl and half mermaid.  I gave her a pep talk about how Heavenly Father had sent her to earth to accomplish things that only SHE could do, and that she could only do as a GIRL...but alas, the pep talk didn't cheer her up at all.  Then, because he was so sleepy, Weston wouldn't get out of bed.  So Jason, with alarm in his voice, rousted Weston by telling him that he had been asleep for 5 years and that he was now turning 12!  He told him that Sophie and Brighton were actually his new little sister and brother, Summer and Hammy (don't even ask), and that Sophie and Brighton were at church practicing for a primary program.  Sophie thought it was funny and started calling herself Summer, while Weston grumbled but did at least get out of bed and get dressed.
Fast forward to church.  Someone is giving a baby blessing.  In the middle of the blessing, Brighton digs into the diaper bag, finds a container full of cheerios (an envied snack only to be had at church) and somehow figures out how to open the tupperwear.  Mid-blessing, I am frantically trying to pick up all the cheerios while he manages to stuff at least 10 in his mouth.  It turns out that was too many to eat at a time, so he spits a few out (some half chewed and slobbery, mind you) and then tries to re-eat them. Because today was a big day for me, I am trying to pay really close attention to what the bishop is saying.
Before we get to the part I dread (where I am released as young women's president), he says he has an award to present, and calls me out of the congregation to help "present"the award.  Turns out he had an award for me!  That did soften the blow of my aching heart, but I still braced myself for my last lesson to the girls.  I had prayed and worried all week about what I would say to them.  Thankfully, the words came out right.  Thankfully, I was able to speak from the heart and tell them what I knew I needed and wanted to say to them.
There are literally no words to express how much they mean to me.  I have treated them as an extension of my own family, and loved them, in some ways, as I would my own children.  I have prayed for them every day, laughed with them...and heaven knows I have worried about them! I have spent many hours each week preparing to teach, guide, and plan terrific activities with and for them.  I have reminded them of a million different assignments, and they probably wished at times that I would stop reminding them so often! We have had so much fun together and also many spiritual experiences...and they have taught me so very much.  They are a part of me and always will be.  I hope that just as my own young women's leaders left a lasting impression on me, that I have left something on them - my testimony, my belief in them, my faith in Jesus Christ.  I hope that they are better because of our association.  I know that I am better because of them. I am so thankful to have been chosen to serve them for a time!  I would by lying if I said I wasn't a little (or a lot) broken-hearted about leaving them.
Today when Sandy had her moment to tell them good-bye and share her testimony with them, she said that she hopes her daughters grow up to be like these girls.  I feel the same way! There is also a special bond that you forge with people you work so closely with on such a regular basis.  I have been able to serve with some of the most incredible women I know.  And I will miss that, too.  Ultimately, I know that the young women will still be a part of my life.  I will see them for a few minutes on Sundays and ward activities, and maybe I'll get them to go out to ice cream with me, or come over to hang out from time to time.  But I will miss seeing their bright and shining faces on such a constant basis, miss their cute stories, their inspiring faith, their energy and zest for life - all the goodness that they radiate!  And of course, all the love that they have shown me.  I think I forgot to thank them for accepting me and showing me so much love.  How could I have forgotten?
I used to be distressed thinking about the world that my kids would grow up in - afraid all of the rotten, degrading mess that our society as devolved to and the deplorable, crass influences all around them.  But when I see these radiant young women - women of faith and strength and beauty - I know that as long as I teach my kids well, they still have a future full of bright possibility.  They, too, can be a light in this darkening world.
I'm not sure how long it will take to get used to this "new normal."  It is amazing how much you miss something the second that you no longer have it.  I know that is a weird thing to say because a calling isn't something you have to keep.  It is an opportunity to serve in a certain capacity for a certain time.  But when you come to love people, you are never the same, and you don't want to let go of them!  I know I don't have to let go of these cherished friendships, but I also know that it won't be the same...and that is the hard part.  It is, in some ways, how I feel when a cherished friend moves away.  The friendship remains so dear and precious to me, but I ache for their company and constancy in my every day life! I've had a few of those kind of major aches in the last year - the loss of my mom, of course, being the worst.  But now I must focus on gratitude, and fill my heart with thanks for incredible bonds of love that have filled, and will continue to fill my life with rich joy!
Here are just a few pictures from a few activities over the last few years...