June 18, 2016

A Walk in the Woods

2.6 miles from my door and back.
This is a beautiful land that we live in.
I have known, since my body endured near-death experiences, that I needed to walk outside each day to help heal my mind and body.
It has taken me three years to really do it.

It also make me smile how much I love my silly dog.  He's perfect.  I thought I was buying him for Jakob, but I think I got him for me.  I would never be brave enough to traipse around without him.

Have a great day!

June 13, 2016

Little Things I Love About My Big Family

The Professor has been in Norway at a conference all week.  When he's gone, my big kids feel like my partners.  There are small moments of tension or silly arguments, but for the most part my kids are helpful and easy.

I watched them this morning and I wanted to freeze a snapshot of this time.

While I was showering Jakob knocked at my door and then said, "Nevermind, I'll tell you when you're out."  Later he described how he touched Lily's hand and then said "Lily, time to wake up."  When he said her name she jumped and they both laughed about this all morning.

Eve has Kindergarten round-up today.  She has been anxiously awaiting this day.  I said she was taking a test to see if she's ready for school.  Leah and Lily both corrected me sweetly explaining to Eve that this was just a time to talk to a teacher to see what class she'll be in.  Nothing to be nervous about at all.

When they got out of the car to go to school, they yelled back, "Eve, you'll do so good today!"  Eve yelled to them, "Thanks, I hope you do very well at your school work today too!"  Heart melting, sweet girls.

Jakob fixed Ben a bowl of steel-cut oats and was helping him sit in his highchair.  Ben was pointing to a chair at the little table where Eve was sitting and doing his best to explain that he did not want to sit in the highchair.  While he was fussing, he slipped and almost fell off the highchair.  Jakob was right next to him, so was Drew.  They both grabbed him.  He didn't get hurt, but began to cry because he was startled.  Watching my two 16 and 17 year old boys, hug and comfort their three year old brother, melted my heart.  They really are darling!  Drew said, "Ben, it's ok.  You just did a Ninja.  Ninja's are fast and strong."  Jakob convinced Ben to sit and be safe, promising he could eat lunch at the little table.

Anna called to Ellie asking her to come help her zip up her dress.  Ellie ran right upstairs.  (Rollerblading together at night IS bonding them.) 

Lily asked Jakob to make her a sandwich and Jakob said, "You can do it Lil!  I already packed the rest of your lunch and got out all the sandwich stuff for you."

Drew read a scripture and explained how it applied to our lives today.  We are usually happy, but running late when the Proffesor is out of town.  Scripture time is a bit more casual.

Yesterday for church, I fixed 3 sets of pigtails.  We are squished on our church pew, sitting by friends.  I had YEARS of struggling through church.  It isn't hard anymore.  My big kids are so helpful and only sometimes annoying.  We are not perfectly reverent.  But, we're always together on Sunday and we're happy.  
I remember being a little girl and seeing large families at church.  I always wanted a family that took up a whole pew.  Now I have one.  It's the best.

Eve just brought me a brown box and announced that we got another package.  I asked her what was in it and she slyly smiled that she thinks it's another kitten.  Poor kitty was in the box!  

Sweet Princess will be glad when Eve goes to Kindergarten.  

Yesterday, Eve and Ben had the kitten outside.  They said they were "Teaching her how to climb trees."  I couldn't find the cat one morning and asked Ben and Eve where she was.  Ben took my hand and led me to a cupboard where a sweet little kitten sat patiently, wrapped in Ben's blankie, waiting for someone to open the door.  Sweet, sweet Princess Cinderpaws.

The other day, Ben had cat food in his hand and he said, pointing to the empty food dish, "B eed da itty at? Peez, B eed da itty at?  See?  Not!"  (He was asking if he could feed the kitty cat, telling me there was no food in her bowl.  He's talks like a real-life tweety bird.) He is so cute and talking more lately even though he still leaves off those first sounds.  

I helped at our local blood drive again this year.  It is so fun to see all the good people in Tully who donate blood.  I love working with my friend Lori Snow and spending the afternoon talking to her.  There are so many good people in the world.  Drew donated for the first time and he did great.  He said he felt best about it afterwards when he asked to see his blood.
All the kids helped.  Lily was so cute at the recovery table offering drinks and explaining to everyone how they can donate books for refugees. 
After the blood drive, I headed up to speak at a friend's baptism.  I spoke about the Holy Ghost and said that he is gentle like a dove, but powerful like the Incredible Hulk.  I'm pretty sure nobody will forget that talk, they are already teasing me about it.  Ha.
We are getting more active as a family.  I am fatter than I've ever been and so is Todd.  I got a Fitbit and have loved recording my motion.  I especially love that the more I move, the more my kids move.  They have been playing outside and rollerblading together most nights.  My favorite thing is that there is always a crowd of chicken and our little bunny hopping near them while they play.  I'm so grateful for this season of life.
Life is good!!
Happy Monday Friends!
Todd comes home today!

June 09, 2016

Not Finished Yet... Life as the mother of a Junior

I sat down yesterday listening to my scriptures as I cross-stitched a few lines on a sampler I've been working on for over three years.  Like so many things in my life, this is a reminder to me that my life changed a bit when I was diagnosed with a high-risk pregnancy, put on bed rest, and learned the miracles of health and healing.  I feel ready to finally FINISH this stage of life and just put it behind me.  But, there is always one more row and never enough quiet time to sit and stitch.  I'm getting close though!!  

NY schools don't end for the summer until June 23, so I am currently in the midst of choir, band, drama, sports, and academic end of the year award assemblies.  For some reason, these assembles have hit me hard.  (It could be the fact that Todd is in Norway and I am flying solo.)

My oldest son, Jakob, is a Junior. (Drew is a Sophomore.). I have ONE MORE YEAR of life as I know it now.

How I will cherish this year.
Our last summer together, our last Thanksgiving, our last Christmas, his last birthday.  The last time 4 of my older kids will sing in choir and play in band together.  

I get teary-eyed noticing an unloaded dishwasher.  Will my girls ever be as disciplined as their brothers are?  Oh, I will miss my boys.

It's actually funny.  As reluctant as I am to send Jakob off, I am quite eager to send Eve and Ben to school.  My mind craves time without toddlers.  For 17 years I have been constantly wondering if they were safe, fed, smart enough, kind enough, loved enough, disciplined enough, or happy enough.  I just know I'm going to love having school hours to accomplish tasks so that I can stop multi-tasking and really connect when they are home.  

It is quite ironic that wishing time to speed up (Eve goes to Kindergarten this fall, Ben doesn't go until 2018) is actually pushing not only Jakob, but also Drew out the door faster.  You can't slow down the older years and speed up the younger ones at the same time.  And really, I love these younger years.  

When I think about my older children, my heart aches for what I did not give them. I feel bad for the track meets I didn't watch.  I hate that we stopped piano lessons when I got sick.  I wish we had more money for exotic family vacations and I hope with my whole soul that they remember me laughing and loving (not just yelling at them to turn off the tv and get their chores done.)  I hope they didn't have too many rules or too much responsibility.  I hope they know I love them and I hope they feel that I delight in who they are.

Jakob spoke at an award assembly last night.  He was humble, well-spoken, kind, funny, confidant, and adorable.

I was so proud of him and I just knew in my soul that in the midst of the hundred things we didn't do right as parents, we did some things right.  He is good.  Really, I have always felt blessed to be his mother, to be their mother.

I have great plans for this last year and the many last year's that follow.

My personal goal is to DELIGHT in my family.  I want them to feel that I love them more than I need them to know I expect them to clean their room (although I'm glad they know how to keep their rooms clean).  I'm really focusing on my physical and mental health.  I'm exercising every day (just walking outside) and I'm giving myself permission to take time for health and strength.  This is the year I return to myself.  I feel it.

I want my kids to really love each other.  Not just love, but like each other.  I want them to have fun together.  We're planning more sibling dates-- where we take just the older kids out and hire a sitter for the little ones.  It really is fun hanging out with older kids.  I've turned off video games and really restricted TV and movies.  (I told jakob after next year he can play Civilization for as long as he wants-- but this is my last year to choose.)  I want them to learn to unwind DOING things not just numbing out.  We've actually played more family games in the last few weeks than we have in a long time.  The kids are walking with me.  I want to get more use out of our basketball hoop.  I want to hike more and laugh over ice cream.

I'm going to beg Jakob to take one more year of piano lessons and sign him up for voice.  These are skills I just want him to have.  And, I'm going to plan a trip to take the place of Christmas.  Anyone have any ideas?  

I ran upstairs last night to grab my shoes and remind my girls to hurry up.  Anna was in the hall bathroom and Ellie was in my bathroom. They were both putting on a little make-up and they were both beautiful.  All three of us wear the same size shoes these days.  I LOVE THESE KIDS.  My eyes brimmed with tears as I encouraged them to hurry up.  Man, being a mom is the hardest most amazing job.  

Ellie grabbed a pair of my high-heal wedges to wear to her assembly.  When we got to the school she realized she really couldn't walk in them.  She was literally crying in the parking lot. I was laughing.  As I hugged her I just whispered-- "I'm SO glad you're still little."  I'm SO glad I have her, so glad she has 4 or 5 year until she needs to know how to wear heels for prom.  I'm so glad I have eight.  My heart couldn't handle a drastic end to highschool.  From the first day he entered nursery, confidently waving for me to leave him at the door (I was teary then and he was excited), Jakob has always paved the way through these transition times.

I'm still stitching, but I'm almost done with this stage.  There are a lot of mistakes in my Sampler, but it's beautiful.

These years of parenting have been hard every single day.  There is so much I'm still learning and there is a whole list of things I admire in other families that we will never be.  But, my soul sings with gratitude that I got to live this dream of mine.  I know I will miss this.  I miss it already and I'm still living it.  I have loved every stage of parenting.  I know it gets better and I'm ready for these next stages.

I think I'm just going to spend these next few months finishing up and looking for the perfect frame.  I wonder what my next project will be?

Granny squares?!  

June 01, 2016

Top 10 in May

1. Jakob went to his first prom.  It was surprisingly low-key.  Thank goodness my oldest was a boy because we were pretty funny trying to figure out how to order a corsage, I'll be a pro by the time my girls are old enough.  

Jakob doesn't date a lot (dating is pretty unheard of here in NY), but I am always impressed at the girls he chooses.  Sofia is a Senior (Jakob's a Junior) and she's wonderful.  Everywhere I went people would tell me how much they liked her and how glad they were that Jakob had asked.  

Jakob's promposal was pretty unique, we don't know of anyone else in the school who asked in a creative way.  He got a box of pink helium balloons that he drew pigs on, Hershey Kisses, Butterfingers, and peach rings.  He said, "Now that I've made pigs fly, kissed the ground you walk on, and buttered you up, would you be a peach and go with me to prom?"  He did it at school and the video circulated around town.  One teacher was crying she thought it was so sweet.

There are not a lot of Mormon LDS youth where we live and that does have some disadvantages.  But, our family has found that the world is FULL of good people of every religion.  Although we have high standards of modesty, I will say that I felt Jakob's date and so many of the girls I saw that night were beautiful and modestly dressed.  

The best group of mothers and students planned a prom night free of alcohol and where everyone ate together a nice, catered meal and went to a big trampoline park after the dance.  I love this little town I live in.  I didn't feel nervous at all while he was gone.

2.  We adopted a sweet little kitten "Princess Cinder-Paws".  She was named before we got her and Lily (who is the proud new owner), thought this was a purrrrfect name.  Princess had a rough start in life.  She was crushed and thought to be dead.  Her leg was broken when we got her and doctors had told the previous owner that the fact that she lived was a miracle.  We believe in miracles and this little kitty has nestled snugly into our abundant life.  She really is so sweet.  She has an M on her face- for Moss.
3. Todd had a work trip to Germany and London.  He was able to visit my aunt and uncle who live in Ware.  I was extremely jealous of every picture he sent home, but was so happy that he had that opportunity.  We will not discuss Todd's beard.  He is growing it for the Palmyra Pagaent.  I believe I have a few sensory issues (I hate to clap and silky fabric freaks me out).  I also have a VERY hard time kissing beards, even beards attached to men I really LOVE to kiss.

4.  My dad came to visit and he painted my basement!!  Honestly, new paint CHANGED MY LIFE.  My basement felt like a new house.  It is so bright and clean.  There were so many holes leftover from the previous owners.  He is going to work his way through my whole house.  New paint and new carpet will be so refreshing.

His painting inspired me to organize!  I really sorted out my toys and my whole storage room.  It is never finished, but it's getting there.

5. My mom and brother came to visit, from Florida.  It is always nice to visit with family and my brother Matt is one of my favorites.  They were only here for a couple days. It was too short.

6. I went as a chaperone with my middle-school girls to Darian Lake Six Flags.  
Honestly, I love roller coasters but they TERRIFY me.  I scream the whole time.  It was so fun to be terrified. 

7. Ben is out of diapers!!! 
17 years of my life I found joy in cleaning, loving, and bonding while I changed diapers.  I lived that stage fully and I will not miss it.

We have rediscovered PlayDoh.  Every day.  Homemade is best.  They play for HOURS.  I love PlayDoh.

8.  I was SO blessed to meet sweet Sister Linda Reeves, Sister Jones, and Sister McConkie when they came to visit Central New York.  These women serve in the General Presidencies of our   Church.  They are good, holy, humble women.  I felt God's love for me through their touch and heard Him in their words. 
9. We had a fairly quiet Spring.  My kids are involved but not excessively involved in sports, lessons, clubs, etc.  This has been a quieter stage of life and I just want to remember it.  We play outside a lot.  Our farm animals are dreamy.  Our yard is dreamy.  We play games, we sneak out for Icecream.  We have friends over.  We have a no tv, no video game, try to do something besides movies rule. We're focusing on DOING more together and it is really fun.
10.  How am I feeling?  I feel good.  Spring is in my soul!  My lung, swelling, weird autoimmune issues have cleared up.  I'm fat (from steroids) and out of shape.  Todd and I both are.  We need to get moving!

I LOVE this beautiful weather.  Although I never made it very far with Whole 30 (way too extreme for me), I am eating healthier.  I'm walking everyday, outside.  I'm going to bed early (by 9 or 10) and waking up early (by 5 or 6).  My food focus is little meat, whole grains, fruits and veggies, nothing ridiculously expensive or extreme.  I'm trying herbs to heal.

I still have a large, complex cyst on my ovary and they want to do surgery to remove it.  The thought of more surgery is really not attractive to me.  I just spent too much money on some highly recommended Chinese herbs that are supposed to help calm and then nourish my insides.  Hopefully, after a few months on these herbs my cyst will shrink naturally (although it is not the shrinking type of cyst).  I've never tried anything like this before, but I have a lot of respect for Eastern medicine.  Todd and I figured it was worth a try.  Hope with me!

I hear people talking all the time about finding themselves, caring for themselves, loving themselves more.  All I have to say about that is that my life is very rarely about myself and I am having so much fun!  

Yes, there are many days when I'm drowning and overwhelmed.  I'm never as good as I wish I were and I'm certain I'm not as physically attractive or stress-free as I would be if I focused on myself for the past 20 years.  I don't get pedicures, I wash laundry while my husband eats lamb and mint pie in England, I haven't gotten a tan in four years.  My life is full and overwhelmingly wonderful.  I can't imagine a life without prom, roller coasters and PlayDoh.  Loose yourself and ye shall find yourself.  

I'm tired and happy and I wake up each day filled with purpose and power.
My family is my treasure.
My life is real and eternal.
I'm so grateful to be alive, to be a mother, to be a member of this New York community and to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Life is beautiful and so good.

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