November 29, 2009

it's beginning to look a lot like christmas...

to be honest, i got the after thanksgiving blues...
i got a tummy flu and had to leave during our New Moon date night to puke in those nasty movie theater potties.
(i was sick BEFORE we left, but didn't think i had anything left to throw up...  i was wrong.  the professor REALLY wanted to go see the movie since he has read ALL the twilight books.  honestly, he practically dragged me from my sick bed and forced me to watch edward tearing off his shirt-- maybe it's because my edward looks better without a shirt... and, by the way, i still like JACOB better.  yup i do.)

Saturday i had grand plans for garage clean-up and Christmas deco...  and i was sick and crabby.
the professor pulled thru... majorly.  he did the garage by himself with the boys AND got all the Christmas stuff down from the attic. 

i felt better after spending some time in my bed, re-reading this AMAZING book, Finding Peace, Happiness and Joy by Richard G. Scott.  This paragraph just kicked me back where i needed to be...
"Anyone who paints a picture of life as being easy, without challenge, is either dishonest or has not yet encountered the growing experiences that the Lord gives each of His children.  They prepare us for happiness in this life and the blessing of dwelling in His presence eternally...
"To clarify the purpose of growth experiences, Elder Orson F. Whitney wrote: 'No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted.  It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility.  All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God... and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we came here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven."  [p190,  Finding Peace, Happiness and Joy.]
I remembered that some days are hard and long, but LIFE IS GOOD.

A couple of the kids got sick too... but, gratefully, they all puked in their buckets and were happy-sick.
The professor went to church with two, i stayed home with four.  most took naps.  Anna and i spent time crafting...  she made a cute nativity pillow and stitched the word REJOICE on the top, and i started a wall-hanging "jingle all the way".  it was fun to spend time with her.
when the gang awoke and returned from church, we did the tree.
it was magical.

i surprise myself every year with my tree.
you see, part of me thinks i'm a 'pretty tree' type person.
but, i'm not.
and, i don't even look at my totally kid-decorated tree and cringe.
i LOVE it.
i love that half the lights don't work, even though the professor spent HOURS trying to fix them, and even added strings of lights, that later didn't work.
i love the paper colored ornaments the kids have made in school, the broken ornaments...
i love the 20 gingerbread men on the bottom of the tree-- because leah found the bag of gingerbread men that we made when the boys were younger... she spent an hour arranging them at her height all the while singing, "Run, run, you can't catch me!!"

maybe someday, when i'm grown.
when the professor is out of school and i feel like i have a real life...
maybe then i'll have a pretty christmas tree... i don't know.
maybe i'll surprise myself.

i have two pretty nativities.  but, my favorite is the one i let the kids play with because i don't care that it's broken.
i love that they spend all night arranging... with baby Jesus in the center.

it helps me remember to always keep baby Jesus in the center...

ps- i love that leah calls the bells on our tree "tinkerbells"  she even sings "Tinker bells, Tinker bells..."  funny girl.
pps- we roasted chestnuts... in our oven.  just so we could sing about it.

ppps- chestnuts roasting on an open fire... are gross.

November 27, 2009

my life in pictures... thanksgiving day

life is delicious!
[thanks ashley for the cute turkeys!] 

just fyi...
i tried some new recipes this year  and enjoyed some oldie but goodies...

-butternut squash puree from pw  (loved it... i just love the idea of cooking squash in the fall)

-scalloped turnips from pw (turnips are my mom's favorite)

-mini pumpkin (and cherry) pies from bakerella- mine were fun, not cute (the girls made them!)

-holiday cranberry muffins-  ooohh  i'll have to type in this recipe
-i TRIED to make a fruit slush punch... with strawberries and pineapple juice.  it was FUN but not great.  
do you have a great fruit slush recipe i should try? 
-i loved the callister's cranberry jell-o and i was glad i made it because it was jakob's one thing he was grateful for.
-my ionno family's haggas oatmeal stuffing... it's the BEST!
-yummy rolls from my mother-in-law's recipe

-plain, yummy turkey...  (we cooked TWO, one sunday, one thursday) oh, how i love turkey roasters! 
-buttermilk pie... this was a fun, fancyish, and easy new pie
-cherry pie, with a lattice top for de professor

-i bought a pumpkin pie, it was nasty...
- i made a pumpkin roll... so good, pretty fancy, and surprisingly easy to make.

-and, we HAD to have sparkling cider, because what is thanksgiving without a toast.  
(my stemmed glasses cost 25 cents each so i don't even mind watching leah say cheers!!)

November 25, 2009

the night before thanksgiving...

tonight, is our Thankful Night.
we are eating black beans and rice and drinking water.
we are talking about hunger and poverty and what we can do and why we are SO VERY BLESSED.
i have gathered some stories from our ancestors and some of our friends that we know, and we'll be watching these videos...

how do you teach a child gratitude?
how do we really come to appreciate that which we have until we have seen and felt want?
our thankful night... my effort to teach and remind and remember.
we have so much. 

although i doubt it will happen, i would love us all to go to bed tonight with a tiny, tiny pain of hunger...
but, if not, i hope we all go to bed with a large amount of GRATITUDE for the bounty we enjoy.
someday, we will do more.  
tonight, we will remember.
tomorrow, we will GIVE THANKS.

November 23, 2009

on great expectations...

so.  you think being married 12 years we should have some stuff figured out.
but remember... we started VERY different.
the professor is VERY logical and calm and focused...
and i am very emotional and passionate and concerned.
i began sweet and volitile.  he began nice and structured.
after our first passionate fight over the fact that i always had to make the bed just because i got up later than him... the professor sat on the bed, put his head in his hands and said, "what have i gotten myself into." 

since then, we've come a long way.  we're a great pair.  he centers me and i strengthen him.
i remember reading a quote by someone who said that he could not remember ever fighting with his wife and wondering if we would EVER stop arguing.  about little things and big things...
we don't fight much anymore- i can see progress.
but, i do get cranky with him.  and, he does get snippy with me when he doesn't think i'm spending my time wisely.

my wise friend taneil gave me this advice.
it has changed my life.
along with REMOVE THE EXPECTATIONS comes the idea that i need to understand that IT'S MY JOB (i'm accepting it as my job not being the martyr to the mundane). 
i TRUST HIM to choose for himself and he trusts me to do my best.

the truth is... when i have GREAT EXPECTATIONS it has nothing to do with how much the professor helps or what he does.  it will never be enough.  because it's not him.  it's me.
it's just that we both have EXPECTATIONS that make us BLIND to what we each DO DO :) each day.
When we are both doing our best, why do we need to be critical of each others efforts? 

ok, so here is the example.  i'm at home with the kids.  i'm cooking dinner and caring for my 6... we've done chores, and homework, and music practice, and i've dealt with the babies, and the 6 PTA calls, and the laundry, and the spilled milk, etc., etc..  The professor walks in the door and I relax a bit.  I now EXPECT that he is going to do everything that is hard for me to do and, no matter what he does, IT IS NEVER ENOUGH.  honestly, it's not even a conscious thing, i'm just a bit upset with him.  he comes in and checks his email.  I start to boil a bit.  He may try to help with dinner by suggesting we add beans to the meat i'm cooking (helpful- NOT, just offensive).  He might try to play with the boys by turning on the Wii.  He might give leah some cheese.  He might set the table.  It really doesn't matter if somehow I have an internal idea of what i think he should be doing.  if i tell him what i want him to do, then i'm a bit upset that i had to tell him.

the same thing happens with our saturdays.  i have expectations- sometimes we talk about them and sometimes i bury them... usually i'm dissappointed.  sundays... i expect a nap, he expects a nap, we have 6 kids who expect breakfast, lunch, dinner and entertainment.  there is a bit of a strain.

This past week... i told myself after-school is my job.  Dinner is my job.  Dishes are the professor's job (he would agree so no undefined expectations here).  And, bedtime is my job.  I didn't specifically tell him that dinner and bed were my job, because really i do enjoy help, but i did tell MYSELF that it was my job.

so, here is the example.  i'm at home with the kids.  i'm cooking dinner and caring for my 6... we've done chores, and homework, and music practice, and i've dealt with the babies, and the 6 PTA calls, and the laundry, and the spilled milk, etc., etc..  The professor walks in the door and I'm happy to see him.  I  EXPECT that I am going to finish making dinner and holding together the fort, i TRUST that he will choose wisely how to spend his time and that whatever he does IT IS ENOUGH.  IT IS A CONSCIOUS DECISION I REPEAT TO MYSELF... DINNER IS MY JOB.  he comes in and checks his email.  I'm glad that he can relax a bit.  He may try to help with dinner by suggesting we add beans to the meat i'm cooking i thank him for his advice and shoo him out of MY kitchen.  He might try to play with the boys by turning on the Wii.  He might give leah some cheese.  He might set the table.  I am GRATEFUL that he is home, that he is connecting and that he is different from me.  because, differences are good.  if i really need his help, i ask him as a favor, not an expectation.

sometimes i am pleasantly surprised at how helpful he is.
sometimes i am totally confused at the things he chooses to do (on Saturday he spent and hour doing something to the back door because he said it didn't close well...  hmm... it closed well enough for me, but... i'm glad he's different.)
sometimes i feel embarrassed that i'm just learning this lesson now.   
sometimes i'm SO GRATEFUL that i am learning this lesson now.
and i hope i keep learning it.

when the professor is out of town, my life is EASIER.  (in some ways)
my kids are in bed sooner, my house is cleaner, i feel very lonely, but i'm free and happy.
when he's home, i really like him, i'm always glad to have him with me, but i feel frustrated and stuck.
i've sometimes wondered why we're not better on the days we're together.

i think this is the answer

and, i actually feel really good about myself.
on Saturday, i took my kids swimming by myself while the professor mowed the lawn.
it was good.
different from a normal saturday, but good and empowering.
really, it's not about what you do... it's about DOING what you think needs to be done.  taking responsibility instead of blaming someone else.

i believe that as i raise my expectations for myself and remove my expectations for other people, the Lord will strengthen my ability.  i will be ok when i fall short, and i won't need anyone else to blame.

Alexander Pope said,   
 'Blessed is the man who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed' was the ninth beatitude.

Alice Walker said, 
"Expect nothing, live frugally on surprise"
Someone said,
"Truly loving another means letting go of all expectations.  It means full acceptance, even celebration of another's personhood."
we are still trying to help each other improve... as cheerleaders not judges... as partners not police officers.  i don't think you need to accept everything about your spouse, but i do think you need to accept that we are both imperfect beings working towards perfection.  i need to trust him on his journey and he needs to trust me.  we're on the same team.  and, we are both spirit children of a loving Father in Heaven who are TRYING to be the best we can.  it's a process that works best when we expect great things of ourselves and TRUST that other people are doing the best that they can.

ps.  this is HARD.  i have LOTS of expectations.  and... truly removing the expectations means you CAN'T just do everything as the quiet martyr.  you really have to replace great expectations with trust and acceptance.  uggghhhh!  it's HARD.  but, i can do hard things.  and, i'm getting better.  12 years from now... i'll be great!
pps.  so, every time the professor wants to take a kissing picture i cringe because i hate how puckered he gets.  i've fixed the problem.  i pucker too and it's a joke.  really, i love this guy. 

November 20, 2009

wood blocks... and a letter to santa.

aren't these cute?
a friend of mine invited me over and we made blocks...
modge podge, sandpaper, scrap book paper and letters.
fun, fun.
it's nice to take a break from my regular routine.
but, for a craft addict like me,  it's hard not to jump right in... my craft juices start running and my brain has 100 different projects to do and i forget that i want to "put my laundry away warm"...
it's so hard to stay consistent.
especially during the holidays.
when there are so many fun distractions. 

um.  Santa...
can i just pause my life and have one week without kids or laundry or meals or schedules?  (a maid and/or a nanny for a week?) just one week with me and my projects.  and, a book on tape.  the professor can come along, he's fun.  (seriously, as i typed that line he came in upset with me cause i'm blogging and not helping him with breakfast.) ix-ne on the rofessor-pe.

love, jen

November 17, 2009

family night... all about ellie

for family night tonight we focused on ELLIE!!
ellie picked out her FAVORITE dessert for the treat- cotton candy sherbet push pops
her FAVORITE game to play- Hi Ho Cheery OH!
i printed out an All About Me sheet (see here) and had each kid fill out what they thought Ellie's favorites were.  
My favorite part was where it said, I am BEST at...  ellie wrote:
-Climbing- Monkey Bars (then she copied what anna wrote about her)
-Being a good sister
-Cleaning the house
-Feeding the fish and frog.
-Jakob said that ellie was BEST at... make believe.
-Drew said that ellie was BEST at... playing and TACKLING.
(It is a well-known fact around these parts that Ellie can hold her own in a wrestling match.)

next week we'll do another kid...  
easy and fun. 

backwards day...

and we have backwards day... as different as the kids in my family.
jakob- underwear on the outside
drew- church clothes backwards
anna- hair and shirt backwards
ellie- pants inside out

 the kids are dressing up for school...  if they bring 2 cans they can dress-up.
the cans are donated to a local food bank.
i had to buy 56 cans for my kids to participate.

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