May 30, 2012

enjoying THIS moment.

it goes so fast...
my kids don't get out of school until june 15.
i have needed these extra days to really get ready to have them home.
i'm not ready, yet.
but, it's coming.
today we went with a group of friends to the fountains near the river in downtown corvallis.
with swim suits, sunscreen and friends- it felt like summer.

i have a sweet friend with four children.
her oldest son is graduating high school this year,
her youngest son is starting kindergarten next year (this is how it will be for me with Jakob and Eve).
her oldest son had been pondering 'life after high school' for sometime.
on memorial day he decided to enlist in the marines.
he will take two years off to serve an LDS mission, and the marines will help put him through school.
i could feel my friend changing... growing... right there beside me on the park bench.
her baby-- joining the marines.
her other baby-- starting school.
i asked if she was excited or sad.
she said- both.
and, as we watched our little ones splash and play in the water she said, "i'm going to miss play dates like these."
and i saw again the beauty of childhood.
i'm going to miss days like these too...
it is a fleeting time.
it is a time full of joy and wonder.
my sister talked to me this morning.
in a gentle, tip-toeing conversation she expressed her concern that i was sacrificing myself for my children.
she knows that we are the same-- we give everything for our kids.
and seven is a lot of kids.
i heard myself explain to her that it is a sacrifice-- but more than that...
an investment.
this time is hard-- it is the planting and the weeding and the pruning years.
but, this time is short.
i will harvest later.
my harvest will be bountiful.
some have done things in a different order.
MANY have waited to have children.
i started young and haven't stopped.
these days are not my own.
these days i sacrifice to serve.
but, i will have my time.
i will reap what i've sown... in a different season of life.
i LOVE being a mother.
i choose this life.
my oldest boys are both running for middle school offices next year.
they already passed the primary and are anxiously awaiting the final vote.
(wouldn't it be fun if they both won?  jakob is running for VP and drew is running for secretary)
they read me their campaign speeches this afternoon.
they are darling boys.
drew is turning 12 on Friday.
he was voted "most inspiring" on his track team.
he is graduating from primary to go to Young Men's.
(i cried as we sang happy birthday to him last week.)
my babies are growing up.
i LOVE having older kids.  it is SO fun.

my older girls love to watch the same shows i like to watch, they love to sew with me, they love to garden, they love to paint their fingernails and read the same books i love.
we have so many fun plans for the summer together.
it is so fun having girls.

and my little girls-- they are beautiful and fun and growing so quickly.
lily sat on a statue of a goose and kept saying, "Look Mom!  I'm riding a MOOSE."
leah's just fast and beautiful.
her legs keep growing longer and she is ALWAYS full of joy.
she isn't a baby anymore.  she is a girl.
she is ready for school... and i will miss her.
{i'm so glad kindergarten is only half day.}

and my BABY... have you seen my baby?
she is a toddler.
she climbs EVERYTHING!!
she wanders far.  {not all children will do that... just the feisty ones.}
she is hard and WONDERFUL.
oh the joy she brings to our home.
it makes me teary to try to explain the joy that sweet girl brings to our home.
everyone is blessed by her every day.
she brings love and smiles and energy and understanding.
we adore that baby girl.
she is our gift.
there is NOTHING i would rather be doing than sitting at the fountains on a beautiful, sunshiney, wednesday afternoon.
right here-- in paradise.
this is the life i always dreamed of.
i am happy.
summer- bring it on!

a start.

we had friends come for memorial day weekend-- i tricked them into helping us plant our garden.
i love my garden.
it's nothing fancy-- but i am SO excited!
i will admit to you that i HATE getting my hands dirty...
and i HATE dirt in my fingernails.
oh, and i hate bugs.
does that make me a bad farmer's wife?

this is our beginning.
figuring out the sprinkler line is still the hardest part.  ha!
and slugs... i'm scared of slugs...
we are still planting a BIG garden at our friend's house...
this is our home "salsa" garden.
(i couldn't forget to show you my cantaloupe and baby watermelon pots... i hope they grow!!)
i'm really nervous.
and really excited.

May 29, 2012

memorial day.

when you combine church and state...
when you watch the young, remembering those who are passed on...
bugles, patriotic music, friends, sadness, pancakes, hope, and gratitude.
it is beautiful.
i am grateful to live in this free land.
the flag that was hung had last been folded at the funeral of an elderly man in our ward.
i watched his sweet widow, standing a bit removed from the crowd, with tears running down her cheeks.
it touched me.
when the young scout first pulled the flag up into the sky, a wind came and blew it open-- i imagined that was sweet brother ashcroft saying hello.
happy memorial day!
may we always remember.

here is a pretty great commencement speech- Reasons for Optimism in Today's World.
i think it's a good perspective check.
as far as history goes-- we are pretty lucky!

ps- thanks for all of your sweet comments on my contention post.
it seems that more people are comfortable emailing than commenting...
i'm going to take off the word verification and see if that makes it a little easier to comment.
anyway-- thank you for all your sweet emails.
it made my day!

May 25, 2012

Safe for TADPOLES.

i wrote a LONG post about dealing with contention at home.
i'm going to still publish it, in case you want to spend 40 minutes reading my blog today.
if not, here is the condensed version...
i LOVE this list... and the rhymes.
1. Safe for tadpoles-- 
i realized that i wasn't protecting my little kids enough from the wrath of the big kids.
(this sentence sounds harsher than i mean it too.  good kids, bad habits.)
i noticed that the big kids were being very critical of my younger kids.
they were teasing too much.
honestly, i was sad when i imagined how hard it would be to be the little sister who was never fast enough in the morning and the brunt of all jokes in the afternoon.
i also noticed that my bigger kids were afraid of being hurt (even from fooling around play), and so they quickly responded with physical harshness.
i was concerned.
somehow, because the little ones really were slow and silly, i had been spending my time helping and teaching the younger kids instead of protecting them from their older siblings.
and, i really do think that some rough play is fine, so i let it get too intense without setting limits.
i began pulling my kids aside, one by one, and explaining my concern.
i asked them if they were so mean to kids at their school who did things wrong, like forgot to do their homework?
i asked if they would be rude to a little sister who was slow because she only had one arm.
would it be funny to tease her?
emotional immaturity might not be as easy to see, but it was still a missing arm.
an arm that would grow with time.
i reminded my good-intentioned older children that, as perfect as they are now, they were young once too.
i said, this house is a safe place for tadpoles.
we are all still learning and this house is a safe place for learning.
if i notice my bigger kids getting upset i just smile and say, she's still a tadpole.
it has changed the feel of my home.
this was a mix of what can i do better next time and what i love about you...
my favorite is "good penmanship" and "Not shove the iPad in your face."

2. Kind ACTS--
sibling contention is normal.
especially when you have a lot of children.
BUT, it is not best.
i noticed that my kids are VERY KIND to the kids at school and not so kind at home.
they are more kind to their friends than they are to their siblings.
normal, but not great.
they needed a reason to hold their tongue.
they control their temper at school because they are scared of detention or the principal.
so-- i started giving them consequences when they behaved unkindly.
when they hurt with their hands, even if it is a game that gets rough, i have them do push-ups 20 or 30.
if they say unkind words to their siblings, i have them write 20 kind things about that sibling.
Young kids, who can't write yet, have to draw pictures.
SOO cute!
i might not be able to erase the mean stuff they say, but i can weaken it with some positives.
this was jakob's second attempt at an apology list for anna.
(his first list was the scout motto... loyal, brave, trust worthy, kind, hungry, etc.)
i think it's darling how meaningful a list of simple words can be.
i LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these lists.
(i had a hard time finding lists to take pictures of because my kids really love them.  they hide them away in their special places to read over and over again.)
they have made a HUGE difference in my home.
not only do my kids have to take the time to make their wrong choice right, they can FEEL the happiness that their words have on their sibling.
there is power in positive words.
i used to have them do a service for the offended sibling.
this is a good idea, but it is harder to enforce.
even the BEST of families have waves of contention.
as mothers we just need to be aware of the slippery slope and help the kids climb back to safe ground quickly before contention takes over.
our homes can be happy and holy.
i know it.
my house FEELS kind again after a few simple changes.
this, and the hokey pokey, is what it's all about!!
(ha!  even my condensed version is a bit wordy...)
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