April 30, 2012

sowing seeds- part two.

"my" garden spot
when i was younger i prayed for a pony.
my mom told me to.
she said, if i was a good girl and i prayed, God would give me a pony.
my grandmother rolled her eyes at this.
we were living in section 8 government housing at the time and my mother was a single mom of two children.
in Northern Virginia.  Fairfax County-- the center of metropoliten, expensive, Northern Virginia.

the summer before 7th grade my mother got married and we moved to a small house in the center of town.
just down the street from us was a little barn-- a pocket of land that had withstood urbanization.
Dell, was an older, fairy-like lady who lived on the property with her sister, Tink.
Tink raised Italian greyhound dogs... and Dell boarded horses.
i would knock on Dell's door every morning at the break of dawn, asking if there was anything i could do to help.
she taught me, and i worked alongside of her.
i moved saw dust piles and curried horses and carried white buckets full of water (trying not to spill all over my legs).
it was heavenly.
we were a good match.
young and able with older and skillful.
after a summer of working together, Dell found me a free pony- an advertisement hanging on a cork board at the Saddlery.
she arranged a meeting with my parents and offered to board my pony in exchange for my working around the barn.
we paid $12 a month for horse chow.
I GOT A PONY!!  a real-live pony.
i did pony club.
i spent my summer brushing and grooming and jumping and riding and taking trail rides through the woods.
i made friends with another girl who boarded her mare at our barn and we enjoyed our summer days together.
it was heavenly.
the summer between 8th and 9th grade i got really sick and had part of my intestine removed.
i spent my summer healing from surgery and couldn't take care of my pony anymore.
it worked perfectly because that was the summer that Dell's family sold much of their land to a developer.
they closed down the barn.
i started high school and early morning seminary.
my years of having a pony drifted into memories.
but, they shaped me.
i had an identity in middle school that was different from all the other kids in my school.
i had a horse!
i knew God had answered my prayer.
He always does.

today, i know that i'm a farmer's wife at heart.
a farmer's wife stuck in a city girl's body.
raising children who NEED to feel the dirt in their hands.
i just know it.
God and I have a continual conversation.
i tell Him that i'm a farmer's wife...
He tells me to find the joy in the life i am living.
i tell Him that my children need land and animals and "responsibility".
He reminds me that my 'dream life' isn't all that i imagine it is.
He tells me that i can have the desires of my heart!
i just might have to look for these experiences in DIFFERENT ways.
i might never have a homestead-- but that doesn't mean we can't experience the joys of homesteading.
God works in mysterious ways.
i have many friends who are grandparents.
one couple, Debbie and Jerry, are living in the most darling house on a piece of property.
they are AMAZING.
their children are grown and they are just starting to get grandchildren of their own.
i love this couple.  they are a wealth of experience and knowledge.
they are always saying, "we've got it... if we can find it."
and, it's true.  they have barns full of potential!
they've raised sheep for years, they pan for gold, they fix old jeeps, they collect metal, they have a horse, they're getting chickens, they grow AMAZING gardens...
i am not even touching on all the amazing things this couple has done...  their house is like a treasure trove of experience.
they were getting tired and i could tell they could use some help with projects around their house.
we are full of young energy and excitement.
we are a great match.
we went over one afternoon to help with yard work and they suggested we plant a garden with them.
(have i mentioned they are amazing gardeners?)
one thing led to another and my 'service' has ended up being a great blessing in my life.
as i've gotten to know them better i can see how much they are adding to my life.
yes, i'll repeat the situation... we were helping them and they are CHANGING OUR LIVES.
i might not have a barn of my own, ever... but, i do have great friends who are willing to share with my family.
last Saturday we planned our garden out while the boys cleared the land for tilling...
it's still too muddy to till here in Oregon.
i am SOO excited!
(oh, and so are my kids... this is really all about the kids, right?!)
tonight we brought dinner over and planted seeds for our Family Night.
i do worry that it's a bit crazy for them with my kids all around.
they say it is so fun for them to have people who are excited about gardening.

i had a moment.
as i held a tiny, tiny oregano seed in my hand (as small as ground up pepper), i was amazed.
seeds are amazing.
holding a seed, i felt the same awe that i feel as i carry a baby in my womb.
there is a Creator.  a Master Creator.  and He designed this earth so incredibly.
tiny, dirt-like seeds, grow into plants!
i can make a baby.  babies form inside my stomach.  HUMAN BEINGS are created inside me.
we provide a healthy environment and seeds grow!
reproduction is inspiring to me.
maybe that is why i love produce and have a large family-- they are related.
i never thought that before.
i have never really planted a garden before.
i can hardly keep a house plant alive (i like the kind that just get all limp when you need to water them).
i am learning so much.
last week as we were planning our garden, looking at seeds and catalogs and drawing our garden map, eve was playing in the grass.
she found a lawn ornament that had tipped over.  there was mud on the bottom.
eve took her little fingers and just dragged them through the mud again and again.
she was amazed.
she threw her pacifier in the grass and tasted a finger full of mud.
she smiled a big, dirt-dirty face at me when i said, "Yuck."
i LOVED that.
lily sat for a long time filling her seed cells with seed soil.
when she got one filled she turned and smiled so proud of herself with a big, "See!  I did it!"
leah and drew and ellie and jakob were all great seed planters-- they are really into this.
drew refused to plant any tomato seeds.
future plumber
the supervising father, my friend, Jerry, said that anna filled her seed trays with the perfect amount of soil.
he held up hers as an example of what they should all look like.
anna smiled at me when we got home tonight and said, "Mom, i think i really like gardening."

my friend, debbie, loves 4H.
she is always telling us we should have our kids join.
jakob said he wants to raise a pig.
she said we would need to get at least three piglets... for the boys.
and three lambs...  for the girls.
the registration is in September.
i told her that i know nothing about animals... but that i think i'm a farm girl at heart.
she laughed.  i was amazed that she was as excited as i am.
 "Pigs and sheep," she said, "This will be so fun."
i laughed.  "I hope you don't get sick of us.  You'll be glad when we leave and your yard is peaceful again, won't you?"  (by now i had 3 or 4 crying kids in the car... no naps and bedtime fast approaching.)
she just smiled and said, "We love it!  Jerry was just telling me how nice it is to have someone who is excited about all this with us again."

God works in mysterious ways.
Debbie and Jerry are my farming angels.
i don't have land that is mine-- but i have friends that share.
we are so blessed.
did i tell you that we're planting a GARDEN??!!
a big one!
with people who know how to grow a garden?!!
yeah, as my kids would say, "i'm Mary and you're Laura."
we learned from Farmer Boy that if you want really big pumpkins you need to milk them instead of water them...

Jerry taught me...
- buy the smallest seed potatoes.  most people buy big ones and cut them.  they buy small ones and leave them whole so they don't get moldy.  {if you're crazy, like me, then you can grow red, yellow, white and BLUE potatoes... oh, i'm going to love being a farm girl.)
- don't plant seeds in potting soil... plant seeds in seed starting soil.  it's better.
- add water to the soil and mix it up till it is wet enough to stick together well.
- just barely put the seeds under the soil in each cell (a cell is what you call those black tray things)-- not deep at all.
-you don't water the seeds from the top.  you put the cells in a tray and you water the tray... they suck the water up.
- plant heating pads are pretty cool.
- after your corn starts to grow, you can put pumpkins underneath it.
- homegrown celery is really good.  it's dark green and tastes so different from store celery.  i can't wait to try it.
-gardening is not scary... it is a process... we can enjoy the process and let the kids be as involved as they want to be.

(I bought this stuff at the counter of our local nursery.  It is plant food that is supposed to make your plants grow really big.  My boys are so excited to experiment with it!  and, we bought a start for a HUGE pumpkin.  they're so excited!!)

ahh... day one of gardening...
i know that i might not love gardening when it comes to weeding and watering and harvesting and canning.
but today, gardening feels dreamy.
yes, i've told you that i get goosebumps IN THE PRODUCE SECTION OF THE GROCERY STORE!
i want to sing-- "I'm proud to be an American!" when i buy a pineapple in December.
well, guess what?!
i get goose bumps in future gardens too... when i'm holding tiny seeds.
i want to sing "I Stand All Amazed!"
because i do.
and, i have moments with my kids too...
moments where i see into their eye and a catch a glimpse of who they are and who they can become.
i want to sing, "How great thou art!"
i want to thank God for sharing these great spirits with me.
i am humbled by potential.
i know there is a God... because i've held a seed in my hand.
and, it was inspiring to me.

life is beautiful.

thank you for all your nice comments on my last post!
thank you for reading my blog.
thank you for being my friends.

April 26, 2012

the ideal homemaker- part three {ATTITUDE}

you can read the ideal homemaker- part one {consistency} here.
you can read the ideal homemaker- part two {hard work} here.
and this is part three... {ATTITUDE!}

if you have read the Bible, you have wondered over this scripture.
Matthew 11:27-30  where Christ says,
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light".

Christ-- the Savior of all mankind tells us that HIS yoke is EASY, His burden in LIGHT.

is your burden light?

my mother taught me how to clean.
she is very organized, very clean, very meticulous.
we had white carpets and white walls and a perfectly manicured yard.
we worked hard.
when i got married, i didn't struggle to know HOW to clean...
i struggled MENTALLY with keeping house.
i still say-- housework is 98% mental and 2% physical.
i completely believe this is true.

my standards of good enough were very high.
in fact, i was never good enough.
housework was a HEAVY burden that i carried.
i really didn't have a problem cleaning my house--
i had a problem feeling like a failure every time my house needed to be cleaned.
it was bad.
my dirty house was a sign that i was a failure.
i was wracked with GUILT.
the tasks were heavy.
i spent years thinking that if i were doing it "right"...
i could get my house organized enough.
i could plan ahead enough.
i could work hard enough...
if i was doing it "right" my house would never be a mess.
if my husband helped more, if my kids were taught to be responsible, if i got up earlier...
then i wouldn't be a failure every day.
my goal has been to get it clean so that i could stop cleaning it.
imagine my AHA moment when i realized "clean" and "organized" is NOT a destination.
it is a LIFESTYLE.
it is what you DO, how you LIVE, who you ARE.
you do not achieve CLEAN so that you can move on to more important things.
you become clean and organized as you spend your time cleaning and organizing.

-- when my first child, jakob, was under three years old, i remember telling him to clean his room.
his floor was covered with toys.  i was a young mother continually overwhelmed with my home and quickly growing family.  after yelling at him all morning to clean up (while i helped the younger children), i entered his room with exhaustion and a black trash bag.  i explained to him that i was going to give all of his toys away.  that because he wasn't cleaning up i was going to give his toys to another boy that didn't have any toys.
he was sitting on is bed with his long-ish blond hair and his big green eyes.
He quietly asked, "Why does that little boy not have any toys?"
i yelled back at him, "Because!  Because he doesn't have a nice mother like yours to buy him nice toys.  And you can't even clean them up!"
i continued dumping all the toys on the floor into my giant trash bag.
jakob got off his bed and went to his shelf.
on the top shelf was his very favorite toy, a plastic bull with long horns.  he handed the bull to me and said, "Mom, do you think that little boy would like this bull?"
i looked at him, sunk to the floor, and i cried.
this child did NOT need to learn to be more responsible.
i did.
he was saintly.
i was humbled.
Note::  jakob is 13 now.
EVERY DAY i am amazed at his natural order, self discipline and organization.
his room is cleaner than mine.  his backpack is precisely organized.  he loves office supplies.
my second child used to be very messy-- he is 11 now and almost as clean and organized as his brother.
they amaze me.  {my girls are still growing into this-- hah!}

the truth is...
my house has ALWAYS been clean enough.
my struggle has always been mental.

i am an observer.
i have noticed families where the mother works hard and children just naturally pitch in.
i have also noticed families where the mother works hard and continually argues with the children that they are not doing enough.
i have noticed in my family that when i argue with my kids about housework, they argue with each other.
i'm saying "get the dishes done."  they're saying "she needs to empty the dishwasher."  he's saying, "I emptied it yesterday it's her turn."  blah, blah, blah.
the dishes could have been done in the time that we've spent fighting over the dishes.
(yes, some of this is normal in a family.  i'm not talking about normal squabbling, i'm talking about the feeling of heaviness that comes from extended contention.)

i have heard myself use these phrases...
"Am i your SLAVE??"
"Do you expect me to spend my whole life cleaning this house."
"All I do is clean up after you, cook your meals, wash your clothes..."
"Nobody even appreciates me."

again i will say, some of this is normal life... but, i'm not talking about normal life.
i'm talking about "my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

i've said this before...
my mother in law has come to my home often after the birth of my children or as we were moving.
she has a way of coming into my life and making it feel light.
she takes quiet walks with my children, she folds my laundry as the buzzer beeps, she just heads to the sink after a meal is done- no matter whose chore it is.
my kitchen is clean, and it feels easy and light.

i don't believe that ideal homemakers just have homes that are clean.
i believe ideal homemakers have homes that FEEL peaceful, easy and light.
i believe that as we serve in our home, happily, gratefully, with our heart full of love...
we will be filled with charity.
we won't feel that homework is a burden and we will teach our children to work by our joyful examples.

i loved this comment on my last ideal homemaker post... by The Wife.

I think often about teaching our kids the value of work. I came across this quote in the Dec. 2009 Ensign by Bishop H. David Burton (and promptly posted it on our fridge as a reminder to me and my husband):
One of parents’ most important responsibilities is to teach their children to work. Even young children can begin to experience the benefits of working when they are involved in household chores and in service to others. Wise parents will work alongside their children, will provide frequent praise, and will make sure no task is overwhelming.

although i struggle with many aspects of homemaking...
(oh, i am naturally a lazy soul.)
i think i'm best at recognizing when the FEELING of my home isn't right... and fixing that.
i have always felt that LOVING is more important than TEACHING.
teaching is SO important!!  but, loving is more important.
i think this about homosexuals.
i think this about lazy kids.
i think this about rebellious kids.
i think this about struggling parents.
(i wish i was better at practicing what i know to be true.)
this is true of housework too...

Parents feel a strong responsibility to teach their children.
it is SO easy to justify our EVIL behavior because we do it with holy intentions.
i have actually heard myself yelling at my children, "WILL YOU JUST TALK NICELY!!."
we stopped and laughed at that one.
"don't hit your sister!"  as i spank them on the bum.

i have learned...
"When we're HELPING we're HAPPY" is best taught by someone who is HELPING HAPPILY!!!

you have heard it said, Children should hear 10 positives to 1 negative.
pick housework.
evaluate YOUR words about cleaning, organizing, working, washing...
10 positives to 1 negative?
do you wonder why your kids complain when you ask them to help?

the truth is-- KIDS LOVE HOUSEWORK!!!
it is natural to them.
they LOVE helping.
they want to wash dishes, toilets, floors, windows, tables and chairs...
they want to fold laundry.
is anything better than planting a garden and playing in the dirt?
there is no toy on earth that can compete with Windex and a roll of paper towels.
the vacuum is almost as fun to play as Hula Hooping WII fit.
cooking is one of the most naturally bonding, intrinsically rewarding activities on earth.
grocery shopping is better than preschool for teaching numbers and colors and letters and counting... 5 apples, 10 bananas... find the red box of cream of wheat... say hello to the sweet grandma.
sorting-- kids LOVE to sort.  sorting a toy or game closet or having them help pair socks can teach them as much about matching as any purchased matching game.

kids come to us thinking that cleaning is great--  we teach them that work isn't fun.
we ruin them by our attitudes and our examples.
and then, we spend the next 10 years yelling at them because of their attitudes.

having a mentally healthy home is more important than having a clean home.
teaching your children JOY is more important than teaching them responsibility.
teaching your children HOW to enjoy hard work is more important than teaching your children HOW to properly clean a toilet.
having a good attitude about housework is harder than knowing how to clean.
but, it is possible and it is worth it!

So, how do you FIX things?
when your house is messy-- clean it!
when you begin to feel frustrated with those around you who are making it messy, or not helping, take your frustration to God and your love to your family.
serve more.
if you feel that your family isn't doing enough... find ONE THING that they are doing right and THANK THEM.
turn on happy music while you clean.
wear a cute apron.
think of the little red hen-- and just keep baking your bread.
think of tom sawyer and pretend like you LOVE cleaning floors... watch for people to flock around you.
tell yourself that even if your kids are not learning how to clean today-- they will learn to like a clean house because you keep it clean.
they will become comfortable in a clean home and as they grow up they will seek that in their own lives.
remind yourself-- actions speak louder than words.
show your sermons... live your lectures... be the responsible person you want your children to be.
praise their efforts!

i can feel when my home is full of tension... when it feels heavy... when i am nagging my children or husband, and they are nagging each other.Having seen an EXTREME lifestyle, i can notice this trend in my more mild household.
i almost ALWAYS feel justified in my bad attitude because i am trying to teach THEM something.
yes, Christ was talking to ME when he described someone squinting at a splinter in someone else's eye when you have a BEAM in your own.
i have tried to pull out many splinters unable to see past my own beams.
i have come to KNOW... my children ARE hard workers.
they really are.
the most important thing i can teach as a mother is a healthy ATTITUDE.
it is better to have a KIND, PEACEFUL mess of a home than a contentious, clean home.
if you have to choose-- choose LOVE over responsibility.

but, IT IS POSSIBLE to have a kind, peaceful, happy, loving home that is also neat and tidy.
the BEST homes are clean physically AND mentally.
the most IDEAL homemakers are those who serve happily and willingly.
the tom sawyer housewives that make whitewashing the fence something that people will pay to do!

i am a natural tom sawyer mother.
i adore children and my kids want "72 more sisters".
i want to be better at being a tom sawyer homemaker.
you can NOT teach Godly principles the Devil's way.

In Mark 10:43 Christ taught,
"whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
"And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
"For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."

My four oldest children (2 boys, 2 girls) take piano lessons, they have for the past 4 years.
They all practice at least 30 minutes every day.
I rarely need to remind them and they rarely complain.
The love the piano and they are really good at it.
They have always been blessed with really great teachers.
Honestly, I think they all love the piano because I love the piano.
I don't know how to play-- so i have never been critical of any "wrong" practicing.
Every time they sit on that bench I feel like a good mother.
I praise them often and honestly for all that they are achieving musically.
I am awed and humbled by their musical talents.
Honestly, i don't even know if they really are good-- but they are better than me and I think they are amazing.
I think piano FEELS happy and light to them.
I have taught my children the FEELING of piano... they practice skill on their own.

Creating a house of order is a process.
We can practice our homemaking skills while our children are young.
i imagine that when our children are grown we will be able to really see the magic of a clean room that stays clean for days.
clean will come with time.
and how lonely we will be if we find ourselves in a clean home with no lasting relationships.

it is good to work towards consistency.
it is good to work hard every day.
it is good to WANT a clean house.
it is good to practice being a good homemaker.
it is good to purge and reorganize and set goals for improvement.
but nothing is more important than the relationships you have.
clean is optional.
examples speak louder than words.
when we're helping we're happy!!

no matter how clean your house is you will never be an ideal homemaker if you don't learn to create love at home.

as a mother, my greatest role is PEACEMAKER.
the shine on the faces of my family is more important than the shine of my sink.
i make peace as i order my home.
i make peace as i cook meals.
i make peace as i love my children.
i make peace as i place a band aid on a skinned knee.
i make peace as i laugh at my husband and let him become on his own timetable.
i make peace as i serve joyfully.
my family FEELs me. they radiate what i emanate.

i have reclaimed peace in my home by eliminating chores and focusing less on me teaching them responsibility and more on ME serving more.
you can read my blog about it here and here.
today, my children actually do MORE around the house than they did when they had chores.
and, i am continually grateful for them.
i had already taught them to work hard.
i just needed to SHOW them that working hard wasn't too hard.

so many people talk about children of today...
how they are lazy, how they are unclean, how they spend too much time on tv...
we need to teach them responsibility and hard work ethic.
yes!! i agree.
but, i have noticed something else about children of today...
children of today grow up to be adults...
adults that are perfectionists.
adults that are DEPRESSED.
adults that need alcohol or energy drinks to feel "enough".
as i see it, we are doing a better job teaching children to be COMPETENT than we are teaching them to be HEALTHY.
the feeling of our home is so important.
when i'm helping i'm happy, and i sing as i go, and i like to help my children... for i love them so!!
i love being a mom.
i am grateful that God is teaching me every day.
As i take His yoke upon me, my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
my home is full of love and joy.
we have a quote by our front door that says,

"A true Mormon home is one in which, if Christ should chance to enter, he would be pleased to linger and to rest."  David O. McKay

i have a hunch that Christ has often lingered in my home on days when my floor was strewn with toys, the dog food was getting soggy in the water bowl, and my toilet paper was in an unrolled heap on the bathroom floor.
i also know that Christ has lingered with us as we've cleaned the kitchen together laughing over the days events.
Christ cares more about our hearts than our sinks.
i know it.

maybe the reason that i LOVE the donna reed propaganda is that the homemakers are always SMILING!
i love that.
i want to be like that!!
every day i feel SO BLESSED to be at home with my children.
i am grateful for dirty dishes-- for we have had good food to eat.
i am grateful for laundry-- for we have clothes to wear.
i am grateful for toddler messes-- for my children are healthy and active.
i am grateful for sticky doorknobs and fingerprints on my windows-- these things will end.
i am grateful for busy schedules-- my life is full of goodness.
i am grateful that at the end of my day i am tired-- i have many to love.
i am grateful for a car that collects McDonald wrappers, Sunday shoes, and my little ponies-- i never dreamed of limos.
i am so blessed.
i should clean with a smile on my face!!
i want my children to clean with a smile on their face too...
this is me.
in the morning.
with my daily to do list...
it says, "Clean the house again."
and, i'm LOVING it.
we're getting there!!
life is good.

April 25, 2012


just writing a blog post...
because i haven't made dinner yet-- it's 7pm.
(i have rice cooking, ham and a can of pineapple warming on the stove... no recipe, kinda nasty)
i just told the girls the first four kids to get their jammies on would get a surprise.
(maybe chocolate if i can find any?)
when they came up in their jammies i said, "quick, bring me your dirty clothes."
they ran back down.
when they came up again i said,"quick, set the table!"
they smiled and said, "OK!"
i love being a mom.

todd is at a track meet with the boys.
i assume he is thinking he will come home to a family that has already eaten dinner.
my job was to do laundry today.
i just put in my first load.
i did exercise.
and read my scriptures.
and, cleaned up breakfast.
and, um, that's all.
as in, i'm still in my sweaty exercise clothes.
well- they're not sweaty anymore.
the hardest thing for me with daily exercise is daily showering...
i used to be an every other day girl.
i hate having to redo my hair every day.
and, i took my girls to my friends house to play with their dogs while i read in the car.
good mom.
{i had to take them to my friends house because i didn't want anyone else (at a public park) see the fact that i was going to let my kids play while i sat in the car.}
good mom.

my problem...
i'm an addict.
remember i said i starting reading a georgette heyer book while i rocked eve to sleep...
yeah, i'm on my second book-- and i have no control whatsoever.
i'm conflicted until i get to that kiss on the last page.
it's pathetic.

my other problem...
she is a MESSY baby.
instead of following me around (like she used to do) she has taken up EXPLORING.
she particularly likes dog food and water.
she can find the dog food in the cabinet.
she eats dog food by the mouthfuls.
she stinks.
it's a MESS.
she empties my drawers, pulls books off the shelves, and has started...
she's good at them.
why does she tantrum?
because she wants to be FREE!!
she wants to walk by herself and run away and go outside and empty Tupperware drawers forever...
she's only ONE.

leah and lily.
i THOUGHT they took a nice nap this afternoon.
when they "woke up" i took lily's hand and it was covered in soap.
her whole arm and her hair was covered with soap.
their bedroom was full of bowls of water, wet tissues (a whole box), and hand soap.
oh, and many wet my little ponies.
my girls are so creative... {sigh}

the middle school is having sex ed.
i'm very open with my kids and don't have a problem with them learning any sex ed stuff.
i did NOT want to opt my kids out of sex ed.
{my parent's opted me out and i was humiliated.}
i went to the office and looked at the curriculum.
most of the Mormon's in my community do NOT opt their kids out of sex ed.
the curriculum was FINE.  good stuff those kids are learning.
they separate the boys from the girls when they teach it.
mentally, i had NO ISSUES with this class.
i made the mistake of saying to myself... "What is so wrong with sex ed?"
i felt the distinct answer, "There isn't anything wrong with it... In fact it is SO GOOD.  It just should be taught at home not at school."
i didn't want to hear that or think that or feel that.
so i smiled at the secretary, did NOT opt my boys out of the class, and i went home.
i couldn't get that thought out of my head.
it's not that there is anything wrong, just that it should be taught at home.
darn it.
i talked to my boys, told them my thoughts and asked what they thought i should do.
i told them i would not opt them out if they didn't want me to.
they both said, "mom, i think you should do what you think is right."
yesterday i went back up to the school and opted the boys out.
a friend told me that she also opts her boys out.
she says-- if you're telling someone about a beach and you love the beach, you'll tell them a certain way.
if someone else is describing a beach, and they hated the beach, their description will be different-- even if it is the same beach.
she said you just never know the background of the teachers... she agreed that teaching children about sex at home is the best way.
i will add-- because it is my nature-- i think it is really a good thing that the school has sex ed.
many parents don't teach their children things they need to know.
i think it's good that the school does.
and, i even think my boys' teachers would do a good job.
but-- i can't deny the feeling i had.
for me, i choose to teach these things at home-- to my family.
i decided that i wouldn't make them sit by themselves in the library writing reports.
drew has health 7th period, so i pick him up and we do "homeschool sex ed."
he loves coming home early.
it is a PAIN for me to pick him up, bring him home, bring him back for track...
but, a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do... right?!
see, i am a home school mom after all... for the really important things.  {wink, wink}

and, guess what else?
i BOUNCED my account.
{yes, todd and i have separate accounts-- he transfers a chunk of money to me and i spend our discretionary money.  i'm not super good at budgeting it.  yet.}
because of target red card.
you spend debit card money but they don't take it out till later.
so, when i checked my balance and spent more money-- my target stuff bounced.
oh man, i've got to get better at planning my money.
next month.
for sure.

want to invite us over for dinner?
all my easy food is used up and i'm down to the actual things i have to cook...
grocery shopping MONDAY!!!
i can't wait for may first and a clean slate!

that's my day.
how was yours?

ps.  no pictures lately because my hard drive is ALL FULL!!
i can't download them from my camera.
next month i'm getting more memory.
can you wait till Tuesday for pictures?

April 24, 2012

parenting 101- how to hug a teenage porcupine.

a friend sent me these cd's for my birthday--
How to Hug a Teenage Porcupine, by John Lewis Lund (they cost $20 for 4 cds)
How to Hug a Teenage Porcupine

i would not have bought them for myself, because i don't have a teenage porcupine.
{plus, i'm prideful enough to think i know how to deal with teenagers pretty well.}
i am SO glad that my friend bought them for me!  she knows me so well...
love them.
love them.
love them.

honestly, i want to buy 100 copies of these CDS to send to every mother i know for mother's day.
really-- i love them.
they are written for parents of rebellious teens.
i think they are perfect for parents of TODDLERS-- if we can figure out the principles while the kids are young we might not need the drastic measures later!

this man outlines EXACTLY what i believe about parenting.
his examples rang true to me.
his testimony about God's role in our children's lives rang true to me.
his understanding that some children must learn from experience rang true to me.

he focuses on THE PARENT more than the child.

i listened to them in the car-- with my children.
they LOVED them too!  and, it was so fun having them hear what makes a good parent!!

here are some of his ideas that i love...
(just from my memory so they won't be exactly right.)

:: You cannot run God's plan in the devil's way.

:: an emotionally healthy teenager (and parent) 1)can forgive  2)does not blame others for their own happiness  3)has the ability to make a plan to improve

:: take your love to your child and your frustration to God.

:: you either married your biggest trial in life, or you gave birth to it.  :)

:: he gave an example about family prayer and how we should not force our children to attend!!  he said that he tells the kids "family prayer in 5 minutes"... when only 5 of his 8 kids come, they say prayers and then he whispers to the kids to hop in the car.  he takes them to the store for ice cream cones!  when they come back the other kids whine that they didn't get ice cream and he just smiles and says "you never know when the ice cream man is going to strike!"  i LOVE this example.  it is how i operate!!

:: when you feel the urge to criticize your child-- serve them instead!!!  (oh, i love this idea!)

::  he says if you're speaking french to your child and they don't understand, you can yell it to them and they won't get it any better.

:: he says parents too often try to play every position on the court (like a volleyball player that runs around crazy trying to hit every ball- inevitably the ball falls right into the spot that they should have been standing in).  he says, play your part and trust that God will put other players or experiences into the path of your child to help teach them the things that they need to learn.

These CDs are VERY MORMON.
they teach the doctrine of pre-existence and spirit world.  They profess our belief that this life is a time to
LEARN and grow.
these talks are my favorite talks on parenting!
{even though i hate the silly cover and silly title.}
wish i could send all of you a copy of them for mother's day!


April 23, 2012

why i can have seven children...

can i tell you my secret to success?
todd at the top of Mt. St. Helen's
my husband.
he cooks, he cleans, he takes care of kids, he loves waking up at night with my babies.
he's a better house wife than i am.
and, can i tell you my deep, dark, silly secret?
i have always been embarrassed that i have a husband that does so much.

i spent a lot of time with friends this weekend.
we went on a date night to the temple Friday night (it's a three hour car ride, round trip).
then, i had a "craft night" minus the crafts with a bunch of women on Saturday night.
and, we had a couple of great friends over for dinner last night.
i talk (too much) in social settings.
this weekend i was amazed at people's reaction to my husband.
a friend asked, "how can you have a house that is so clean with all your kids?"
i told her todd straightened up while i was at the grocery store.
(i should have told her my house is clean because i CLEAN it ALL THE TIME and because i have a helpful husband.)
another lady commented under her breath "No wonder you can have seven children!"
i laughed.  she is exactly right.
they joked about their husbands who couldn't make a meal if they had to-- not even on mother's day.
i couldn't relate.
i'm glad i couldn't relate-- kind of.
but, you have to admit, women who do everything often talk with great pride about how much they do.
"Yes, I even mow the lawn at my house..."

i can not relate.
i am one of those wimpy wives who has a helpful husband who is not at work all the time, who can cook, and who takes a VERY equal role of the parenting.
often i wish things were different.
i have lamented many times at how hard it is to be independent when you have a husband that is so dang available and willing to help.
when my friends complain of husbands who are always at church i tell them, "Feel grateful that God thinks you can handle it."
i tell God all the time-- I can handle it!!  i promise.
most of the time I am called to leave the house and Todd is supporting ME in our church or community service.
people ask in surprise-- "How is your husband handeling you being gone so much?"
i whisper, "he's a better housewife than i am.  i come home and dinner is on the table, the house is spotless, and the kids are playing a game of chess."
{truthfully, the one thing i am better at than todd is having HAPPY children. my kitchen is spotless but my kids miss me still.}
i love when Todd is out of town because i feel so hard-working.
i always tell him, it's ok, you can work late, i've got things under control at home!!
i WISH he had a calling where he couldn't sit by me at church-- because the times when i have to sit by myself are the times when i am super mom, and i love that feeling.
sometimes, todd's involvement is my trial.  (hah!!)
are you yelling at me to GET OVER IT?!!

i believe, at my core, that the wife is in charge of the children, the home, the cleaning, the cooking.
i know that sounds old fashioned and, this is not how my family functions.
but, deep down this is how i think i WISH it was.
part of me thinks that if i were better then i could do everything by myself.
i look at women who are fiercely independent and wish i was more like them.
i LOVE donna reed.  it is my nature.

part of the reason we choose the life of academia, is because of the flexibility it offers families.
todd doesn't teach many classes, most of his life is flexible research time.
most days he is up at school like a regular job.  some nights he has to teach late.
but, if i really need him to be home with the little kids so i can head to a field trip or something, he can work it out.

one lady asked me how i trained him to do so much around the house.
i laughed and said he came that way!
i admitted that it was embarrassing to me.
that i feel like other women are looking at me like a slacker because he does so much.
when people come to dinner and compliment some dish we are eating,
i'm always embarrassed to admit that todd made it.

my mother in law told me that when todd was a senior he asked a girl to prom who had gotten pregnant young, given birth and given her baby up for adoption.  he was always a tenderhearted boy.
todd said he didn't ask that girl as a service project- he asked her because he really wanted to bring her.
sometimes i feel like his service project girl.
i wonder if people look at me and think "How did a nice boy like that end up with that crazy lady?"
is that horrible for me to admit?
how many years have i spent inwardly competing with todd- trying to prove that i was as good as he is.
seriously-- he's really good.
(i thought he was good before i married him... as the years have gone on i see more and more clearly what a genuinely great guy i married.)
my friend said, "be proud of the marriage you have!"
that line has echoed in my brain.
i do have a great marriage.  his strength doesn't make me any less strong.

when we were first married, i had no idea what a functional marriage looked like.
i was too harsh with todd.  i was too critical of him-- wanting him to parent exactly like i did.
i could feel him pull back.  he wouldn't do anything without me asking him too.
he interacted with the kids like i did... and they were missing out.
i learned to shut my mouth and let him be a father... the way he knew how to be a father.
my children didn't need two mothers.
i learned to appreciate his lack of patience and stricter nature.
it is good that we are different.
we have learned to laugh at our differences in marriage.
a friend asked me this weekend, "Do you two ever fight?  Or do you just laugh all the time together?"
that was an interesting observation-- because we do resolve conflict through humor.
i'm not sure if that is the best way, but it is how we do it.
and, although we have cranky interchanges every now and then, we don't fight much anymore.

todd loves to tell the story of early in our marriage.
he had come home from work and jakob had a stinky diaper.
i asked him to change the diaper and he whined saying, "Jen, I just changed the last one."
i laughed and asked if we were really keeping score, because i was sure i have him beat 100 to 1.
the next morning he was driving to work and he smelled something.
he found a dirty diaper under the seat in his car.
i'm certain that i wrote a sweet note on it, like "love you!"
he laughed.  honestly, he likes me strong and sassy.
 my friend's husband said he would have been ticked off if that happened to him.
and that baffled me a bit.  i wasn't being mean-- just teasing.
so much of our marriage is teasing banter back and forth.
i love that about our marriage.

when our first was a baby, we had friends come over.
they asked how jakob was sleeping through the night.  Todd raved at what a wonderful sleeper he was.  after they left, i explained to him that jakob was NOT a wonderful sleeper-- that Todd was a wonderful sleeper while we were awake.
he asked me to wake him up at night when the baby got up.  he offered to go and get the baby so i could nurse him.  we often joke about this exchange-- me saying "Well, Todd is a great sleeper!"
that began our evening routine... todd is usually the person that wakes up first at night with a fussy baby.
it isn't always like that, but often.  he LOVES night time with babies as much as i do.
sometimes we fight over night time with babies.  OFTEN i tell him to let me do it-- that he is working during the day and i can take a nap (hah!).  Todd argues right back that he is gone all day while i am with the children.  that he LOVES this time with the baby.  plus, i am a heavier sleeper than he is, so he hears them first some times.

we do have some funny stories about night time with babies...
once a child was crying so i kicked todd and whispered, "honey, go get the baby who is crying."
he came back with a child... but it was the wrong one.
i just laughed and said, "nope, the OTHER crying child."
todd has a way of waking up, getting up, and going back to sleep in a few seconds.
while i lay there awake listening to the sounds of the night and silently praying a prayer of gratitude for that sweet man.

todd likes a nice dinner every night-- place mats, full courses, fancy-ish meal.  we never eat leftovers (he takes them in his lunch).  once when i suggested a cereal dinner he asked me, with all seriousness, if we would be MALNOURISHED.  hah!  he isn't willing to eat simple meals, but he is willing to cook any night i ask him to.  he would be in charge of the kitchen every night if i stopped fighting for control.
he takes over breakfast most days-- we still battle back and forth with that one.
he drives the kids to sports practice-- we battle for control of the carpool also.
i love driving my kids just as much as he does.

he doesn't clean bathrooms, put away laundry (much), or do puttering jobs around the house (unless i beg him to).
it's routine that he's good at... the everyday schedule of family life.
and, he'd rather cook dinner than play with the kids after work-- i'd rather play with the kids than cook dinner.
BUT, it is GOOD for me to cook dinner and him to play with the kids.
so, most days we try to do things the traditional way.

todd is super involved with the kids and super involved with the boy scouts.  when there is a camp out coming up he plans it, packs for it, and cleans up afterwards.  i often her other mothers complain at the work they have to do to get ready for these experiences and i can't relate-- todd is better at it than i am.

he also keeps track of my kids schedules on his computer.  (I have the schedules on my phone and he has them on his outlook.)  we coordinate schedules on Sunday night and check-in with each other around lunch every day.  for sure we are 50-50 when it comes to caring for our kids and 80-20 when it comes to the older kids activities.  todd is out with the big kids more than i am, i am home with the younger kids more than he is... we are together as a family, as often as we can be.

no, we do not have a perfect marriage.  he is not perfect and neither am i.
but, we are good together and funny together.
every day i thank God for blessing me with Todd.

Todd doesn't think he does too much around the house.
He thinks I am great and amazing.
sometimes he laughs that we have no milk or butter, but a fridge full of weird vegetables (because i love produce)...
but, he likes our marriage routine.
almost weekly todd asks me if i want to go back to school and get my PhD.
he brings me home academic books to read and says, "You would LOVE doing research."
i roll my eyes and tell him that i think i'll just grow old and spend all his money.
i yearn for an old-fashioned, traditional marriage.
it's sounds ideal to me.  even though i know it probably wasn't.
the problem is ME and what i think other people must be thinking about us.
i'm 35 now.  i'm getting over it.

whenever i see a good man that is serving in church or in the community i imagine that he has a great wife behind him holding up the fort at home.  i try to be that kind of wife for my husband.
someday todd may be asked to do things that take him away from home more often.
i will miss him, but i know i will also feel strong and capable.
someday i may go back to school... and todd will cook more of the meals.
i'll have to get used to that too.

today, i feel grateful that i have a husband who has been here by my side for the past 15 years.
he is my best friend.  my help-meet.  my example.
he is the secret to my success in life.
i am so grateful.  no, i'm not weak because he is strong.
we are stronger together because both of us try hard every day to be the best we can be.
maybe next time someone compliments the rolls i will not cringe to admit that todd made them.
maybe most marriages don't work like this... but mine does.
he's that kind of guy.  and i picked him!
we trained each other.
(i had just turned 20 when we married-- todd always teases "get em young, raise em right"...)
he is the reason i am who i am.  i certainly couldn't have had seven kids without him.  :)
i sure love that guy.

as i was entering the pictures for this post, anna handed me a final draft to read.
this is the first paragraph...
"Have you ever made a no-bake cheesecake?  I have.  It was my dad's favorite dessert growing up.  He showed me how to make it.  Yes, I did just say dad.  He is the one that does most of the cooking in the house."
ahhh?!!  really?!!
i'm just writing a post to say this doesn't bother me any more. 
do i have to say "anna, dad does not do most of the cooking?"
do i have to feel embarrassed that she wrote that?
it isn't true.
but, he does cook a lot.
and, he did teach her to make no-bake cheesecake.
and...  having a great husband doesn't make me any less great.
gotta go-- todd is just starting scripture time with the kids!
he already made the oatmeal.
have a great day!

i have to add one more observation that i have made as i've pondered this topic.
BECAUSE i have a very traditional view of family roles, everything that todd does around the house i count as 'helping me'.  
although i do cry to him that i can't do all i wish i could do, i very rarely complain that HE isn't doing enough.
i do spend a lot of time trying to figure out how I can be better-- BUT not a lot of time thinking about how he can be better.
i am very grateful for the small things he does do... and i think my attitude makes him want to help more.
i don't EXPECT him to do much-- so i am always grateful when he helps out.
i don't get upset when my high expectations are un-met.
and he always exceeds my expectations.
that makes for a happy wife!!
(if i could just accept his kind gifts without feeling like less of a women because of his help we'd be SET!!)
that's all...  
i'm off to the park to take a long walk with my girls-- they have their shoes and socks on and are waiting by the door!!  (i'll straighten up my house when i get home...)
see ya!

April 19, 2012


me in real life.
i am naturally a spiritual person.
i think deeply and i learn easily from things around me.
i feel God talking to me often-- we have conversations.
i heard someone explain revelation this way...
"I know God is talking to me when i learn something that i didn't know before."
and, i love that description.
it is true.
God teaches me many things as we converse throughout my life.

And, He recently taught me something else...
I NEED TO BE MORE DISCERNING with the voices in my head.
Yes, it is good to think deeply about things, good to learn.
But, it is not good to become blogged down in negative.
i know for sure that God is real.  i also know for sure that Satan is real.
i didn't realize how careful i need to be to DISCERN right from wrong.
to CHOOSE what i focus on.


Combating Contention--
Satan's Lie--  My children needed to learn to WORK.
God's Truth-- Love one another as I have loved you.
Wow!!  Can I tell you the HUGE difference i feel in my home since i BANNED chores (you can read about it here)?  Chores, although a good thing, had become an area of contention in our home.  I'm not one to yell often, i am not one to spank, i am not one to get in fights with my kids often.  Our home wasn't horrible, but there was much underlying contention.  Even if i spent considerable effort "controlling" my temper-- it was the FEELING of my home that was WRONG.   We felt justified in our wrong because we were "supposed to" teach our children responsibility.  The way i saw my kids was wrong.  I noticed that i was saying 10 negative comments to 1 positive comment... and, even as i noticed the negative i couldn't think of any positives.  I really thought my kids were just plain bad.  I'm not usually like this, we have just slipped into a bad habit of contention.  And, my kids were quarreling with themselves all the time.  It was driving me crazy.  I identified chores as one of the variables in the equation that i could change.

In my mind i picture a woman and a horse.  The women is trying to bring the horse to water, the horse is yanking against the reigns... back and forth, with the attitude, "Come on you stupid horse, drink this water."  To really get the horse to drink the water you MUST let go-- give them their head, and then gently coax them, by showing them "Look, this is good stuff!!"  After one week of letting go of my kids' reigns, they are ALL happily serving in my home.  It feels SO right.


I know another thing FOR SURE-- we can't expect our kids to be better at their young age than we are at our old age.
It is SO MUCH easier to think we can fix our kids or teach our kids then it is to BE good ourselves.
Yes, teaching children to work hard is important.
My children are VERY hard workers, honestly.
Having a happy home is MORE important.
Sometimes, you have to let go of the reigns and mimic a behavior, in order to really teach it.

Figuring out Exercise-- 
Satan's Lie-- It is just TOO hard to do the things we need to do.
God's Truth--  Men are that they might have JOY.
I know what i need to do to be happy.  I need to go to bed early.  I need to exercise.  I need to make good meals for my family.  I need to work hard and keep my home in order.  I need to spend time each day praying and studying my scriptures.  And, I need to BE KIND if it kills me.
It was just too hard to do all those things... my life was overwhelming... i just didn't know how...
For me, i was stuck on the exercise part.  I had 100 excuses why i couldn't do it.  And, they were real.  I decided i was done making excuses.  For me, i knew buying a treadmill was the answer.  So, i just announced to my dear husband that we were going to head to Play It Again Sports and buy a used tread mill.  Without researching the best kind... without buying the best kind... without weeks of budgeting and planning... we just bought it.  We did pay cash.  It cost us $299.  We didn't get the cheapest kind or the most expensive kind.  If we use it so much that it breaks that will make me happy.  And, we will buy a more expensive one knowing that we need it.  Oh, our life is changed just because of one silly decision.  Why has it taken me so long to do this??

I've been reading the biography of Russel M. Nelson- Father, Surgeon, Apostle.  He said this describing his wife (mother of 10), "I've seen her pick up her children after injury or amidst a convulsion resulting from a high fever, and she was not beyond control.  She was always composed, calm, and in command, as if having been given a special dimension of strength when needed for the benefit and welfare of those depending on her.  How grateful I am that not one of our beautiful children has ever been, even for a moment, disrespectful or disobedient to her.  They, too, know of her saintly nature and sense almost continuously that their being is a result of her willingness and eagerness to give them life and quality of life."  This is just one of many quotes about this angelic wife and mother...  it has stuck in my mind.  Not because her children were so perfect-- but because she worked SO hard at being angelic that they were good as a result.

Reading about this family just renewed my hope that it IS possible.  I can do this.  We can do this, Todd and I and God.
It is completely possible to have a clean, happy, functional home-- even with many children.
And, it is completely possible for me to be a happy, healthy, functional mother.

This line of a primary song echoes in my thoughts, "It shouldn't be hard, even though I am small, to think about Jesus, not hard at all."

I downloaded this app of my IPhone-- My Wonderful Goals and My Wonderful Days.
I can record and keep track of my goals and I write a little daily journal with smiley faces or frowning faces.
i love it.

it has only been 5 days, but I feel 100% different.
Not really different, just RIGHT.  100% right.
This is a familiar feeling.  I've figured it out before... and forgotten.
This isn't a story about buying a treadmill.
This is a story about KNOWING what you need to do and DOING it.
It isn't that hard.
Isn't there something that you know you should be doing?  Honestly, the time and energy that you take making excuses why you can't do it is WAY heavier than just doing it.
Just do it and stop whining.
That's my lesson to myself.
Please remind me of this.

It's just SO hard--
If you've read my blog, you know that i struggle with the idea that i'm "different" from everybody.
It's what Satan whispers in my ear.  I feel alone and I sometimes feel that my lot in life is so hard.
I think Satan whispers this same thing to all of us.  When i really stop and look at my life-- it is SO good.  I have nothing to complain about at all.  Just tell me, "Stand up and keep walking Jen, it's not that hard."

My splash of cold water came this weekend in a religion class I attended.  I was listening to a lesson on the early Christian saints, around the time of Constantine.  These early saints were persecuted much like the Jews have been in modern times.  Unless they denied their beliefs, they were burned, skinned alive, hung upside down on crosses and left to starve to death... they watched their families and friends killed, they had to go into hiding.  Yeah, they had it rough.  They must have felt pretty lonely.  They must have felt pretty different from everyone around them.  Their life was hard.

My life is NOT hard.  I have a great family.  Not a perfect family, but a good family.  I have many friends.  I'm not getting skinned alive.  I certainly can handle the little bit of trial that I have been dished out in life.  How blessed I am to be living in this day and age!  Really, we have it so good!

Oh how my heart yearns to be more discerning!!
Can you imagine how much better it would be if i could just spot Satan's lies the moment it enters my mind?
i know his voice.
God whispers- you are so good!  you can do better!
Satan whispers- you are so bad... you can't do it...  look at your failure...  it's too hard...
i don't want to spend one more moment mulling over a thought that brings me down.

When i am better at discerning the thoughts in my mind, when i recognize the good and recognize the lies, i am able to focus on what is real and true.

I know that in this life we can have joy.
Our homes can be places of peace and order and love.
There is a God... and there is a devil.
In all of our thinking-- let us DISCERN good from evil.
let us focus on goodness.

I am torn between wishing i was more concise and wishing i could write on this topic FOREVER.
This is one of those things that i wish i could yell to the world--  DISCERN!!
It is one of those lessons i wish i could have tattooed to my forehead-- don't just think more-- discern more!
Areas of contention are for me sign posts that I am not doing something that i should be doing...

This week i have been reminded to--
Love More!
Work More!
Rejoice More!

Life is good.
Joy is possible.
God is great!
 this picture makes me laugh.
leah is trying to convince me to let her go somewhere i told here she couldn't go.
don't you love my mother face?!  hah.

April 17, 2012

eliminating chores.

we needed a change.
i've been feeling contentious with my kids lately and they are feeling apathetic.
when i evaluated our problems i saw a unique solution.
the problem...
1.  we aren't together that often, and i felt like when we were together i was constantly urging them to hurry up!!
2.  they were very rarely getting done what they needed to get done.
3.  i was spending money every week on piano lessons that were less effective because my kids weren't practicing well.
4.  my role was enforcer, disciplinarian, nag... "come on guys, get your jobs done..."
5.  i felt my kids pulling away from me, trying to have some time to play without me telling them to do something  else.
and REALLY they couldn't do everything that they were supposed to do.
i felt like they were spending their time wisely and still not having enough free time.
everyone at home just felt heavy laden and burdened with responsibility.
(including me)

so, i BANNED chores.
i made an announcement that i was not going to have them do ANY chores.
i would do their chores for them.
and all i asked for in return was
and for them to take care of their own things.
i printed out this list of jobs and taped them to the door leading to the garage...
and i printed out personal sticker charts like this for each child...
i didn't check up on them or give them any reward for completing their chart...
i changed my role-- from nag to cheerleader.
and then i watched what would happen.
at first i was cranky.
my house was a bit overwhelming and i felt angry that it was all my responsibility.
it's not that my kids were really doing so much when they had chores...
(two of them were in charge of the kitchen-- emptying the dishwasher, setting the table, clearing and loading; two of them were in charge of straightening the upstairs living room and dining room area).
but, i realized that i was in the habit of being cranky with my kids when my house was messy.
it was an easy response, "Boys, look at this living room.  Can't you take a few minutes and straighten up?"
even when the living room was messy from my little girls playing all day while the boys were at school.
because i didn't feel dishes were "my job" i would huff a bit if i had to do them.
my kids are very involved in extracurricular activities and they don't get home until late.
sometimes i would do their dishes for them, sometimes their partner would do the dishes alone and then gripe the whole time at the injustice, and sometimes they would have to stay up late trying to finish their job before bed complaining about all the homework they still had to do.
i suppose the biggest change for me was mental--
1.  i didn't feel like it was their job.  so, i didn't feel like i was doing something wrong when i cleaned up myself.
2.  i started appreciating every little thing that they did to help-- because i wasn't making them, they were choosing to help me.

It has taken a week-- but i can honestly say ELIMINATING CHORES IS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS I HAVE DONE AS A MOTHER.

i'm not certain that this a permanent solution.
i do think it is good for children to contribute around the house.
i think that is so important.
my children needed to stop and regroup.
they are not cleaning the house.
they are not in charge of a nightly dish job.
they do not have a bathroom they are assigned to.
they are not mowing the lawn or in charge of the trash.
they are more focused on their own things-- their back packs, their shoes, their clothes, their messes.
they are practicing the piano a full 30 minutes every day.
they are really great at keeping their clothes picked up and put away, their room is clean, their beds are made.
they have more time to read.
they are busy doing responsible things after school-- without my nagging.
they are happier.

because i'm continually carpooling, i had a chance to talk to each of my four older kids on the way home today.
i asked them what i could do better as a mother.  how could i serve them?  what one thing they could think of that i could do to make their life happier?
all of my kids said, "Oh Mom!  You do so much already.  Thanks for serving our family."
the girls said they wish we went to parks more, drew needs a new pair of church shoes, jakob was grateful that i drove him up some papers that he forgot.
we had a chance to talk about how they are doing...
i said "I see you're trying hard to be kind to your sisters.  What can i do to help you with that?"
it felt SO RIGHT to be a HELP and not a nag.
it felt like we were on the same team.

AND, my kids are SO HELPFUL!!!
i'm shocked.
it has taken awhile... at first whenever i asked them to do something they would say, "Mom, remember we don't have to do chores."
i would cheerfully tell them that they didn't have to help, i was just asking for a favor.
if they helped even a little bit i would make a big deal about it.
in the morning, a few times i have said, "It would be so nice if someone could empty the dishwasher before you leave, if you have time."
can i tell you how AMAZING it feels to have kids that CHOOSE to help out, because they want to?!
they used to empty the dishwasher because it was their job.
now, they do it because they know it is important to me.
i am serving them more by not requiring chores and they are serving more by helping out where they can.
it feels SO RIGHT.
and, what about my little, disorganized one?
it is SO SAD to have some children who just can't ever get up early enough, loose all their homework, can't find their shoes, never have pjs to wear, are ALWAYS the last ones in the car in the morning with 6 siblings yelling at them to hurry up... it's a sad life.
i felt my kids feeling apathetic-- why try?  even when i do try i can never do what i need to do...
my kids are too young to feel like failures every day.
i hate that.
helping them focus on these basic things has been so good.
my creators respond well to sticker charts.
i have heard piano keys playing continually...
homework due on Friday is finished on Monday night.
my house feels charitable and hopeful and happy.
it is good.
just thought i'd share my latest twist on family responsibilities.
who knew that eliminating chores would be so beneficial?
hah!  the things i've learned as a mother...
life is good.
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