Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sassy Girl

I was picking out a card at the store today when I got an important phone call. I was only on the phone for about 5 minutes but the whole time Lauren was competing for my attention and being extremely overbearing. When I got off the phone I was NOT happy with her behavior and proceeded to give her a mini lecture about her "not being the center of the universe."

Her response to this was to tell me in her very sassy tone, "Well,..... I don't like you being my Mommy." I wish I could say that I handled this like a mature parent but the immature side of me won that battle and I found myself blurting aloud:
"Well, I don't like you being my little girl."

I was worried that I may have taken it too far and hurt her feelings, but her next response assured me she would be just fine.

"Well you're the one who had me so you 'get what you get and you don't throw a fit'!"

I was speechless.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Mornings

I light the pumpkin spice candle hoping it's warm aroma will welcome my children down to the breakfast table. Apple streussel muffins are baking in the oven as I pack their lunches for school. I put on soft music to fill our home with the spirit because I remember the feeling of peace that came into our home when my mother played primary songs on the piano. I glance at the clock realizing I need to get upstairs and start waking them up. It brings me back to my own school days. I remember how hard it was to get up on Monday mornings, facing a new day and another week of school. Would it have been easier if I'd had a mother wake me with her warm smile and soft kisses? I think so....but even with my best efforts to sweetly wake my sleeping boys sometimes they're grumpy and don't want to get out of bed- I don't blame them, sometimes I feel like that too.

As I finished up on their lunches I was thinking on these things. Suddenly a feeling of love and compassion came over me. I felt a connection with my children that I haven't felt before. It was a feeling of me being not just their mother but (spiritually speaking) their older sister. Sympathetic to their trials and suffering because I've "been there and done that" not so long ago. I felt the significance of my role as their sister to help ease their burden and smooth their transition into their journey of life. From heaven, to home, to the world. I am the keeper of that gate and my heart aches for them as I think of the world I must send them off into. I hope that the little things I do will soften the sting of the trials they must face. Creating in our home a soft place for them to fall at the end of their day when they're weary from the world.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Nothing hurts me more

Why does it hurt so bad when someone hurts your child?

A few days ago on the way home from school Joseph was in tears as he told me about 2 older boys that were being mean to him at school. One of them was a boy that he thought was really cool so it was especially painful for him (and for me). As he shared with me the details of what they had said I did my best to comfort him but nothing could take away his pain.
Nothing hurts me more than to see my children suffer. I can't get the sound of his voice cracking with pain as he recounted the details of what they had said. I wish there was something I could do-but there isn't, and that hurts.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Taking it like a man

When he hurts himself he calls my name,
tears stream down his dirty cheeks.
If he's far away he screams to his brother...
"Go get Mama!!!"
I come running when I hear his cries
not like the other ones which I try to ignore.
This is a different kind of a cry,
the kind that tells me he's really in pain.
I know there's nothing I can do to make the hurting go away
but still I run to his aid, to hold him, to rock him,
to press his head against my cheek
as I whisper in his ear:
"mama's here..., I know it hurts...., I'm so sorry that happened."

Today I was at the park watching the boys ride their bikes over the dirt bike trails.
An older boy in his late teens was there doing jumps & tricks. He fell off his bike coming down from a jump and hit hard, really hard. The mother in me gasped and almost leapt out of my chair to see if he was okay. In obvious pain, he abandoned his bike. Walking off somewhere to be alone. He leaned over behind a tree, I couldn't see if he was crying or not. There were other teenagers there, his friends I think. They watched him walk off but left him alone. Letting him deal with it like a man I suppose. After a minute or two one of the teenage girls followed after him to see if he was okay...

As I watched this unfold I wondered at what point does a boy change from instinctively calling out for his mother to pushing everyone away to inwardly deal with the pain? The boys still call out for me when they're really hurt. It doesn't happen very often anymore because they're getting so tough. But when it does, I come running. Grateful for these moments when my arms and soothing words can bring some degree of comfort to their pain as I wonder upon the day when this will all change.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A little girl and her bottle of lotion

A date with Daddy to the mall, her tiny hand in his.
Walking from store to store they go,
so proud of his little girl.
Patiently she waits as he stops at the apple store
He picks up his new phone,
then takes her to dinner at Cinnabon.
(I love that he confesses this with no hint of shame)
After eating they walk through more stores,
he wants to buy something for his little girl.
Sparkly shoes or pretty clothes?
"Daddy, I love this!" she says to almost everything she sees....
In the end, Bath & Body Works has just the thing;
a little bottle of sweet smelling lotion.
What girl doesn't love a new fragrance?

As I tucked her in bed tonight I couldn't help but smile at this happy little girl holding her little bottle of lotion from her Daddy.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Remember These?

We were camping last week and I kept seeing this thing laying around. The boys were playing with it off and on and finally I got curious and opened it up to see what "fortunes" lied inside.
I smiled when I read them.....Jacob came up with these:

1-You will get a black eye!

2-You will be in the military.

3-You might wrestle a wolf.

4-You will go camping in the snow.

5-You will get a jeep.

6-You will be a baseball star.

7-You might not go to college.

8-You will not break your leg.

I love boys.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My Elder Brother

It's almost 3am. I woke up about an hour ago to see an amazing moon hovering over the tops of the trees. It was so beautiful I decided to go downstairs and set up the telescope on the front porch. After several unsuccessful attempts, (I am hopelessly tech-retarded) I came back upstairs, crawled in bed and had to settle for looking at the moon and stars through the window instead. I laid there for a while looking up at the clear summer night.
Staring at the stars always makes me think of heaven and God and my purpose here on earth. Perhaps that's why, I'm not sure, but as I lay there my thoughts turned to my Savior and I recalled again the beautiful details of an experience I had as a young girl. I don't know why but I feel really impressed that I should share it here.

To put it mildly, I didn't grow up in a very loving and nurturing home. But despite this upbringing, from my earliest memories I was deeply aware that I had a Father in Heaven who knew me and loved me. As a child there were many times when I would cry myself to sleep at night and the only thing that comforted me was the sense of His love and understanding for the trials and abuse I endured. I never doubted his existence or His love. I knew I was a daughter of a Heavenly Father and that he loved me. He gave me hope that one day I could have the life I wanted; filled with love, acceptance and goodness. I held onto that hope and it carried me through until the day I kneeled across the alter from my husband in the House of the Lord.

Although I had a deep and abiding love for God, my Father in Heaven, I am ashamed to say that at that time in my life I did not share the same affection for my elder brother and Savior. I remember struggling with this for weeks feeling guilt that I had such great love for my Heavenly Father but I felt little emotion toward His son, Jesus Christ. I'd been taught in primary (Sunday school) that Jesus had lived a perfect life and had never sinned or made a mistake. He was tutored by the spirit and angels administered to Him teaching Him of His role and mission in life. I vividly remember the thoughts that ran through my head one day as I played outside in an old shed that I used for my playhouse . "If I had angels by my side helping me, I think it would be much easier to be perfect." In my young heart there began to grow an ignorant resentment that he was somehow given special privilege. I began to feel that it wasn't fair, that He had been given an unfair advantage. I'm embarrassed to confess that I felt this way but at that time in my life I was really struggling with feelings of self worth and was facing some personal problems that left me feeling far from perfect.

Not long after having these thoughts I had a dream. In my dream I was outside by the same shed playing with my sister and best friend. I soon found myself alone standing in the tall summer grass. I turned to see where they had gone and saw instead a figure dressed in white standing just a short distance from me. Immediately I recognized who He was and felt of His divinity and love. All prior feelings of resentment melted away but in his presence I was flooded with a wave of embarrassment as I recalled my recent thoughts. I came to Him and began to cry as I fell to my knees in shame. He never said a word to me and I never saw his face but my heart learned volumes of his love and mercy when He put his arms around me and pressed me to his bosom. Words cannot express the warmth and peace that I felt. I never wanted to leave his embrace. I woke from that dream, my pillow wet with tears, still feeling the warmth of his arms around me. I think back on this experience from time to time (as I did tonight) and cherish it in my heart. Years later when I was in high school, I wrote this poem about my dream.

My Elder Brother

Radiant Robes of the purest white,
glowing like the sun.
All in shame, I fall to my knees
as I recognize the Son.

It was his eyes that never I saw
or His facial features
and yet I recognized His hands,
I knew he was my teacher.

Not a word was spoken,
nothing could be said.
No answer to my worries needed,
my spirit had been fed.

The warmth and love I felt for Him
as I wept upon his robes
His warm, gentle hand assuring me
that I'd never be alone.

How this vision given to me,
one night in a dream.
Has brought His spirit closer to me
when in times of need.

Now I know without a doubt
the love of my Elder Brother.
To know of His sacrifice for me,
so I may live forever.

All at peace I am inside,
when I think of your warming embrace
I could have lived forever there...
in your arms, with a tear-stained face.

By Andria Cole 12-12-94

Friday, June 25, 2010

Benjamin- my little fighter

It doesn't matter to him that he's younger, half their size and physically outmatched. When his mind is made up prepare yourself for battle because he will never willingly retreat. He's my little fighter and he's always been this way. At 3 years old he gave me a taste of what was to come when he took something from his older brother and refused to give it back. It was something small that fit in the palm of his hand. His little fist squeezed tightly around it refusing to let go. I intervened, trying to persuade him to return it to his brother, but with no success. I then proceeded to threaten him with punishment if he didn't do as I asked. This also was done in vain. He just stood there with a stern furrow on his brow, staring down at the ground refusing to let go. His fist was clenched so tightly it took me a full minute to pry his vice-like grip open from around the toy.

Benjamin has always been a tough kid but what I learned that day was that his strength lies not only in his muscly body but in his resolve to to do what he wants, when he wants, no matter what the opposition or cost he must pay. It is the cause of many conflicts in our home. His older brothers just want him to do what he's told, but if he disagrees there's always a battle. Just today I broke up a brawl between Jacob and Ben and Jacob was in tears expressing his frustration with his little brother. "I just want to beat him up so bad Mom! Then maybe he'll learn to do what I say!"

But even if Ben did get beat up I don't think it would be the end of his resistance. It's who he is, and although it's frustrating, I believe at the core of this trait lies an admirable virtue. His strong will and unyielding resolve (when bridled and tempered by the spirit) will make him a mighty warrior for the cause of truth.

I can see him as a grown man, strong and unwavering fighting on the front lines of battle firm in his beliefs, unyielding to the opposition. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12)
The Lord needs strong men. Firm in the faith of Christ unyielding to the wickedness of this world. They must be valiant in the cause of truth doing what is right no matter the opposition or cost they must pay. Here's to my strong-willed son; may you always be stubborn in your resolve to follow Christ.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Life you've built for Us

When I'm driving somewhere with the kids in the car and one of those new Cameros passes by the boys go crazy....

"Pow, pow, shot that camaro!" they excitedly yell.

It's their unique way of calling "dibs" and owning that "cool car." The other day Jacob told me he was going to buy a corvette when he grew up. I told him how expensive they were and how he'd have to get a really good job to be able to afford one. Then came my motherly discussion on the importance of getting good grades and going to college, blah, blah blah....

As I was talking to them about this I thought of you. I wondered if you ever dreamed of driving one of those fancy cars when you were a boy. Did you? Did you dream about living in a nice house, maybe with a swimming pool? Did you dream of owning your own boat? Then I thought about how hard you've worked to get to where you are today. How carefully you planned your future, setting your goals, putting yourself through college, taking those training courses, getting those extra certifications all to work your way up to where you are today. You're probably right where you wanted to be. But instead of having that fancy car and the "finer" things you chose to be a husband and father and to take care of all of us.

When I saw that new Camaro pass our aging family car (with it's lovely scratches on the side and the bike rack in the back), I thought of how much I'd love to see you driving that car. I sure wish we could have given you one of those for Father's Day. Instead you got your homemade cards and gifts from the kids and you'll keep on driving that P.O.C. commuter and ignore the annoying knocking sound it makes every time you take a corner. I wish your car could be as fantastic as you are. Because you deserve it sweetie, you deserve so many things that you never get.

Words cannot express the emotions that run through my heart when I think of how hard you work to meet our family's needs. Love, gratitude, humility.....they're such empty words.

Do you know how comforting it is for me to know that you'll always take care of us? That you'll provide the food that we eat, the clothes we wear and pay for the heat that warms our home? There's so much that you sacrifice to give our children every opportunity you can. When that alarm goes off each morning you never grumble about having to get up so early for work. You kiss me goodbye and let me keep sleeping. You envy my life of being home with the kids, but if it weren't for you, I wouldn't be able to. My heart is warmed by these thoughts. You give so much and never complain. You work so hard and take so very little for yourself. You always hurry home to be with us and when you're here you spend your time loving us, caring for us, leading us and protecting us. You are everything a man should be.

I feel safe in your care, safe in your love and safe in the life that you've built for us. Thank you, my love.

Happy Father's Day

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Dream

Just before I woke up this morning I had a dream about Jacob. He was a teenager driving his own car and working a job to earn money for gas. In my dream I wanted to see him and spend time with him but he was gone. He always seemed to be working and there were few opportunities to be together, it made me so sad. Then I woke up.

I laid there for a moment thinking about my dream, happy to be back in reality. But sad at the realization that not long from now summer vacations aren't going to be like they are now. Soon he'll be off mowing lawns or working a job and so will his brothers. They might not always be home at the same time, might not always get the same days off. Like an eclipse our schedules may rarely align allowing us all to be together at the same time.

I feel like I'm starting to get old. Not in the sense that I'm aging (even though I am) but that I'm moving into a different phase of my life. I'm not having babies anymore. My kids are growing up, and it's happening much, much faster than I thought it ever would. Last weekend we attended my nephew's graduation and I started getting choked up as they played the procession and all the graduates filed in. I thought about him being a little boy running around with his brother at our wedding reception. How quickly he seemed to transform into this young man who'll be living in his own apartment and taking college classes this fall. It made me think of my own little boys and how they're older than he was when I first met him. Right now Jacob is almost half way through his time at home. In 9 more years he'll be the one in his cap and gown and we'll soon be saying goodbye to his yesterday's at home.

There are a lot of babies being born in my circle of friends lately. Some of them are younger mothers some of them are older but at a girls night this week three of these mothers brought their infants (all less than a month old). It isn't until you're around a newborn and hear those little sucking sounds as they're nursing, or see the quiver of their little lips as they cry with gas pains that I get glimpses from those earlier days and realize that almost as one hardly notices how spring suddenly grew into summer, I have now entered a new season of my life. I'm not the "new mom" anymore or even the "Mom with pre-schoolers". It doesn't seem like long ago that I was looking to the moms with school age-kids and I saw them in a different way because "they had older kids and were more experienced."

That's me now. Almost all of my kids are in school. Next year I'll only have 1 at home. I'm not pregnant, I'm not having new babies and what's more I don't plan on having any more babies. It's strange how that happens. It's strange how a season of your life that for years was all about nursing, and changing diapers, spoon feeding little ones in high chairs, bouncing babies in the the back of the chapel at church and hauling that stinking infant car carrier on your arm like a darn purse has slowly but surely melted away into what it is today.

Today, as I sat with all the kids on the couch, excitedly showing them the latest books I picked up from the library, I felt so happy that we were all there together. And as we read "The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig," laughing at the pictures, trying to guess the ending, I felt happy that when it was done they all hung around for more. I just know that it won't be long when Jacob and then Joseph will start to lose interest in picture books and these moments of togetherness will slip into my pasts, just as those days of nap times, Blues Clues, Wednesday playgroups, and Toddler Storytime at the Library have slipped away into my past.

As I've reflected upon this dream, I'm reminded of an embroidered poem I once saw hanging on the wall of a messy home where I babysat as a teenager . It has stayed with me for years and I'm often reminded of it. When the first line comes to my mind I feel the guilt rush in and I know I need to be better and heed it's message....

The cooking and cleaning can wait till tomorrow,
for children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
I hope that my child looking back on today
Will remember a mother who had time to play;
Because children grow up while you're not looking,
There are years ahead for cleaning and cooking.
So, quiet down cobwebs, dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby, and babies don't keep.

If I choose to I can spend all day tomorrow enjoying the kids. Jumping on the trampoline, pushing them on the swings, playing soccer in the front yard, fishing in the pond, catching frogs, exploring in the woods walking down to the beach and building driftwood forts. I can spend all day doing whatever I want. Because today they aren't going anywhere. They don't have to go to work, or spend the day up in their room studying for a test or reading a book for English. They don't have mounds of homework that keep them up later than I can wait and they won't be leaving for seminary at the crack of dawn. They won't have their heart in another place, preparing for a date, distracted by some lovely young lady.

Right now their time is mine. And though they can and often do drive me crazy with their bickering and mischief they are still my precious children that I love with all my heart. Sometimes I wonder if they wouldn't drive me as crazy if I'd just loosen up and take more time to have fun and enjoy them instead of letting myself get so stressed out about the house and the messes and all that I need to get done. What is wrong with me? Why am I so obsessive about cleaning? It's so hard for me to leave a mess and do something/ anything until I get it all cleaned up. Even when I do take time and spend it with the kids it's rarely without that nagging ticker in the back of my head thinking about how much time I can allot to sit and read some stories or play with Play-Doh, a game of chess, a tea party or color a picture. Why can't I just relax???
I get so frustrated with myself. I really need to be better at stopping and enjoying these moments.

Maybe that dream came to me for a reason. If it does come true (as I'm sure one day it will) the only thing that is going to comfort me as I'm missing my kids is to know that I enjoyed them while I could. Right now I know that I am not doing this and it fills me with guilt and pain when I think of the missed opportunities I'm leaving for my future self.

Today was the last day of school and the first day of summer break. I'm going to make more of an effort to be better in this area and try a little harder to catch up on preserving some memories (back blogging) and enjoy the experience of making even more whether I get to writing them down or not, I know they'll at least help me sleep better at night.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Joseph's Birthday

Joseph was 1 month old when we moved to Washington. So every year when we celebrate his birthday it's also the anniversary of our new life post our Air Force/Hawaii days. I can't believe we've lived here for 7 years now. It's really starting to feel like we're putting down roots and I love it.

On the morning of his birthday Jacob and Ben woke up early and hid around the corner waiting to get him with silly spray as he came downstairs. I can't remember when we started this tradition in our family but the boys love it and I'm starting to regret it. It makes such a mess! Anyway, we had his favorite breakfast of crepes (my kind of kid) then sent him off to school. That evening Papa and Grandma came over for his birthday dinner and family party. He chose a random collection of some of his favorite foods for his birthday feast: Macaroni and Cheese (the box kind which I hate and rarely serve), croissant rolls, Orange sherbet jello salad, and steamed broccoli with cheese. This was also the first year that he wanted just a regular cake (not something crazy or colorfully decorated). It was much easier for me and much better tasting. I have a great recipe for chocolate cake and fudge frosting that we hadn't had in a while, it was soooooooo yummy! (and yes, I did have a piece)

Aaron and I were really struggling to come up with ideas for gifts this year. One great thing about having kids that don't watch a lot of TV is they don't see all the commercials for the newest greatest things. Consequently, they also aren't much help when you ask them, "what do you want for your birthday?" He couldn't come up with anything more than Legos (which he already has a ton of) so we went back and forth on several ideas until Aaron stumbled upon the best idea ever. Joseph has been studying the solar system in school and has been fascinated with what he's learning. So Aaron found a really good telescope online and had it ordered just in time to arrive on his birthday. He was ecstatic when he opened it and wanted to try it out right away. We had to wait until it got dark but when we did there was a full moon and we were ALL amazed as we looked at the surface of the moon with amazing clarity and detail. You are supposed to be able to see the rings on Saturn too but we are still working on finding Saturn in the night sky....

Joseph's wanted to have a basketball themed birthday party with his friends, which meant we kind of needed to have a basketball hoop. I had no idea how expensive they were until I started shopping around for one. In the end I decided to save some money and found an old free one on craigslist. After I cleaned it up, repainted it and put on a new net it looked pretty good. Aaron sunk it into the ground back behind the garage where there was a concrete slab already poured for who knows what. Now it's our mini basketball court for the boys.

We had so many things going on the Saturday of his party (District Pinewood Derby race for Jacob, birthday party for Lauren's friend, Ben's T-Ball game) that the only time we could fit in his party was in the evening. So we had a pizza party during the dinner hour with a plan to have a basketball game and to watch Air Bud inside the house. Well, things never go as planned. It seems that the big event quickly shifted from playing basketball to running around the property throwing horsetails at each other. We call these "horsetail wars" at our house and our boys play them all the time, grabbing the weeds by the dozens and chucking them at each other as they run around the yard. Who would have known that it would be such a hit when you add a few more boys to the mix. Apparently it was more exciting than anything else we had planned. I was fine with abandoning our party plans in the name of boys making their own fun (really it was much easier for me anyway). However, we did have multiple kids coming in and out needing to be treated with baking soda and water for nettle bites they had acquired in battle. And one boy even fell into the pond and came to the door shivering and soaking wet with pond weeds all over him. It was pretty comical but not at all what we had expected. You just never know what you're going to get when you have a house full of boys.

All About Joseph at 7 years old

Here are some random observations that I want to record about my 7 year old Joseph.

-Joseph is extremely generous. If you ask him to share with you or give you a bite of whatever he has he will always say yes. Recently I was with him at a birthday party of one of his friends and they were doing the pinata outside. After the pinata broke and the rush of kids had frantically gathered every last piece of candy into their Ziploc bags it was discovered that 2 of the kids were off playing and missed the rush. One of the parents asked if the kids might be willing to share some of their candy with these boys and Joseph immediately went to them and emptied his entire bag into their two bags. I was speechless. He is such a generous little boy.

-Joseph is a great student. He is very conscientious about learning and prides himself on his school work. He enjoys doing his homework and has a real hunger for learning. He's an excellent reader and has amazing penmanship. His mind is like a sponge soaking up everything he learns in school. During their unit on the solar system he would come home every day telling me new (and very interesting) facts that he had learned about different planets. One Friday he came home near the end of their unit and started making a book about the solar system. Each page was about a different planet where he wrote several facts about the planet and included diagrammed pictures on each page. He stapled the pages together and gave it a cover and presented it to me proudly. It was amazing. Right now they are studying insects and I'm learning a TON from all of the things he comes home and "teaches" me. I love it.

-Joseph likes to be organized and will often write notes on post-its like To-Do lists for what he wants to do for the day. Recently I was organizing his drawers and after showing him how I had organized the shirts and pants in his drawers he had went back later to label the stacks with the appropriate tag.

-Joseph has a very interesting sense of style. He has these brown pants that he loves and I hate. Luckily they recently wore a hole in the knee so now they are off limits for school but forever he would wear these ugly straight leg/slim fit brown pants that I hated but he loved. I kept trying to buy him other pants to get him to wear but he always complained that he didn't like them. When I questioned him as to why he informed me that cargo pants or pockets on the sides are "ugly" and he hates those pants. He also goes crazy if his pants are too loose fit or too long. He likes the straight peg legs and he likes them to hit them exactly at the bottom of his heel, no longer. He freaks out if I make him wear dark denim or any other pants that he doesn't think look cool. I have to keep reminding myself that he is a boy because my other boys could care less what they wear. I've had to send him off to the bus crying hysterically because he "hates these pants." Even though they're actually the stylish ones that look nice on him. It's crazy.

-Joseph thrives when he is praised. You can almost see him glowing when you compliment him on something he's done. I try very hard to shower him with praise for the good things he does to off-set the many times that I have to correct him for crazy stuff he does. Which leads me to another thing about Joseph.....

-He's very, very quirky and regularly does things that make you wonder "WHAT IS HE THINKING!" I have felt like I'm going to go crazy many times. In addition to his spazzy mannerisms like making this annoying hoarse laugh that sounds like a (I still don't know what) whenever he gets to feeling silly, he regularly does crazy things that make you scratch you head in wonder. Recently, Aaron caught him outside with a nail carving lines into the side of our suburban. We had just gotten it back from being washed and waxed and it was cleaner than it had been in years and for whatever reason our nearly 7 year old thought that using a giant nail and carving lines back and forth, several times in random patterns spanning the entire length of the passenger side door would be okay. UNBELIEVABLE! The whole thing was so shocking neither of us knew what to say or do, we were literally speechless. He told me later that he didn't see "what the big deal was and why we cared so much." Ughhhhhh!

-Joseph is easily frustrated when he is working on something new. If he does not find immediate success he will often become inconsolably frustrated and abandon all efforts. He wants so badly to be successful that if he tries a few times and doesn't get the right answer or can't play the piano piece perfectly he gets very upset and will often begin what I call his self destructive talk. "I'm terrible", or "I'm stupid, I can't do this!" It's very challenging as a mother to try and help him understand that it's okay to make mistakes and to keep him motivated to keep trying and not give up. Each week when he has a new song he's practicing for his piano lessons we go through this. He usually starts out the first couple days barely able to get through the piece and sometimes crying that "it's so hard he'll never be able to play it". I have to deal with him slamming his fingers on the keyboard or storming off upstairs because he got to the last measure of the song and then made a tiny mistake which turns into a huge meltdown. But, by the end of the week he plays it perfectly. He was also having trouble passing a level in his math wizard for subtraction a couple months ago. Each week on the day of his test he'd come home from school devastated that he was still on Level 1 for the timed subtraction test. It broke my heart to see him so frustrated and sad week after week. Finally, I made it a priority (I should have done it much sooner) to work on it with him at home. After giving him a bunch of practice tests with similar problems he began to see himself improve. By the day of the next test he could pass it easily at home and he had the confidence to be able to do it at school. Once he got over that hump and realized he could do it he's been doing great.

-Joesph leaves me little random love notes all over the house. I will find them in the office or on my pillow. Usually they just say things like "I love you Mom" or just "I love you" with a little hand drawn heart. He's a sweetie. Speaking of sweetie, look at what he wrote me for Mothers Day. I saw him excitedly working on something the day before mothers day but he was very secretive about it. Needless to say I was speechless when he presented it to me. It's the first poem he's ever written.

-Joseph has terrible luck. He's like me on this. No matter what, when he's playing any game with an element of chance he is sure to lose.

-Joseph is very social and his relationships with his friends are very important to him. We have already had to deal with "playground friend drama." We are working with him on being a leader and sticking up for the kids in the group that some of the boys are excluding. I was really proud of him when he took a stand against a ring leader bully (that also happens to be his friend) that was being mean to their mutual friend. He abandoned the group for the rest of the week and played with the other boy who was excluded at every recess. When they tried to get him to play with them he told them he wasn't going to be in their group if they weren't going to let the other boy play with them too. Granted, I coached him into doing this but I was still impressed that he chose to do it and stood up to his friends in support of the other boy.

-Joseph is still very irreverent with his body. I am seriously worried that I'll be one of those mothers getting a call from the principal in high school telling me that my son just mooned someone in the school parking lot. He just has no sense of boundaries despite our efforts to teach him modesty and appropriate behavior. I try to get him to keep a towel on after the bath when he goes up to his room but he is completely comfortable streaking through the house naked. I probably wouldn't care so much is we didn't have to worry about Lauren being exposed to his private parts. I'm constantly reminding him to dress in his room and am frequently horrified at his lack of modesty in her presence. I just caught him the other night while he was getting dressed for bed holding a metal slinky in front of his private parts and whipping it around like it was the world's longest you know what. He thought it was the funniest thing in the world and I was mortified.

-Joseph is very service oriented. He does his chores but sometimes he will on his own just do somethings sweet without being asked, like unload the dishwasher or organize the shoe closet. It doesn't happen very often but it happens often enough that I know its unusual because my other kids don't do it.

-Joseph is still writing on things. I see his marks all over the house. Writing on the walls, the window sills, the piano! It's very, very frustrating. I keep thinking....isn't he too old to be doing this! Why does he keep doing this? The latest one I found was on a window sill in black permanent marker. It said, "I love mom." Talk about feeling two emotions at once. That was a weird sensation.

-I have mentioned before that Joseph has a very spiritual nature. He is always talking about God and Jesus and will often ask very deep questions of a spiritual nature. He is also very good about looking at life with a spiritual eye and relating every day situations to a spiritual metaphor of sorts. Something recent that comes to mind was when he bore his testimony. On the first Sunday of the month we have a little family testimony meeting in our home where we each take turns sharing our faith and beliefs. We set up the piano bench in front of the fireplace and use the paper towel holder as the microphone. Usually the kids are kind of silly about it but recently Joseph surprised us all with his testimony about prayer and having faith. This is a brief summary of part of his testimony: "Last week when I was trying to feed the chickens (his chore) I was trying to get in their pen and grab the feeder without them escaping but they kept trying to get out because they were following the food container. No matter what I did they kept trying to get out and no one was there to hold the door for me. So I walked away and waited for them to go back inside their hen house. Then I tried to sneak back to their pen and grab their food container but as soon as they heard me they came out of the house and were swarming me again. So I went back out and prayed really hard that Heavenly Father would keep them in the hen house so that I could get their feeder and feed then without them all getting out of the pen. When I went back they were all in their house and they stayed in there the whole time. So, I have a testimony of prayer, I know it works." I also would like to add however, that almost without fail every Sunday when it's time to get dressed he cries that "he hates going to church".

-Joseph will often destroy something he's made or worked hard on if when he shows it to you you do not exhibit enough excitement or interest in his work. Just the other day after picking the kids up from school he was showing me his hole punch card from the Diabetes walk/run. He was very proud that he had completed 38 laps in the 3 days. I was very proud of him too but because I had just received a phone call that was making my mind wander and giving me stress I responded to his card with a "good job buddy." and not "Oh my goodness, that is awesome Joseph!!!!!" (We had already talked about the run in the car on the drive home and I had sung his praises for being such a good runner and being able to do that many laps). Well, apparently none of that mattered because somehow he interpreted my somewhat distracted "good job buddy" as a lack of interest and and he totally called me on it too. He had a partial meltdown because he assumed I didn't care and later that night I found his hole punched card torn up into tiny pieces in a pile on the kitchen table. I've also noticed him do this with pictures or cards he's made for other people. If he's not happy with it and doesn't think it's perfect he won't just put it to the side and start on another one he'll completely shred it to pieces or take a big marker and scribble all over the top of it.

-Sometimes when I wake Joseph up in the mornings I will find him sucking his thumb in his sleep. He was my only thumb sucker and he started doing it when he was 6 months old. It's a sweet little trait that he inherited from his father who also sucked his thumb. One of my favorite pictures I have of Joseph in my head is him as a little baby/toddler in his dark green sleeper pajamas holding his blankie in one hand and having his other thumb in his mouth. When he got older (3-5) he only did it at night when he would sleep. It was so sweet I just figured I'd let him grow out of the phase on his own but alas his pediatric dentist started noticing that it was affecting his teeth and encouraged us to work with him on it. So we used "Thumb Suck" at night and within a few months he didn't suck his thumb anymore. Now that he's a "big boy" (and I know we're going to have to get braces for him anyway) I just smile when occasionally I see him sucking his thumb in his sleep. It reminds me of my sweet little baby JoJo.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Jacob the Builder

The past few months Jacob has been busy building. The first thing he made was a little miniature pirate ship out of little wood slivers. It had a mast and different levels to the deck with railing on the sides. The whole thing was only about 5 inches long. He then made a catamaran style sailboat with saran wrap for the sail. Then when Aaron framed in the door for the pantry he took the extra shimmy's (little pieces flat wood about 18 inches long) and cut them with his pocket knife (I didn't know he was doing this) and glued them together to make a speedboat. Then he added string and little paper inner tubes to the back. He also made a jet from carefully folding and taping scrap computer paper. Another project he did (with the help of his brothers) was building an elevated race track with 3 lanes for his matchbox cars to race down. The whole thing was about 6 feet long. He used a couple of big cardboard boxes and almost a whole roll of masking tape.

It thrills me to see him working on little projects like this. It makes me wonder if he'll be an engineer or an architect one day. When he got his block of wood for his first pinewood derby car back in January he was excited beyond belief. The race was a month and a half away but he started on his car the next day. Aaron told him to draw the outline on the side of the block of wood. He drew, erased and drew until he got it just right. Then Aaron cut it out with a jigsaw. As you can imagine the cuts were pretty rough but over the next few days Jacob sanded those edges down to perfection. He and Aaron went to the store where he chose the colors he wanted. He had a great idea for a style but the stripes were too tricky do do on his own so Aaron placed the tape and helped him fix the over sprayed parts that got too much paint. In the end he was very happy with his car.

On the day of the race he was very excited and nervous. I told him that since this was his first year making/racing a pinewood derby car that he might not win. "I know mom," he said. "Rookies hardly ever win."

Once the race started I think his brothers were as excited as he was. About half way through the race Joseph came up to me (Jacob was doing really well at this point) and he said in a very sincere voice, "Mom, I'm so nervous, I just want Jacob to win."
To make a long story short I'll sum up the race results with what Jacob told me later that night when we got home. "Well Mom, I guess rookies really can win!"

How a little boy who designed his car entirely himself, with absolutely no influence or intervention from his Dad (I love Aaron for this) built a pinewood derby car that won the whole competition is beyond me. He really is an amazing little builder.

I just have to add here that his race composure cracked me up. Often times I'd be taking a picture of his face while his car was racing down the track so I never knew if his car won or lost because I was zoomed in on him. I thought that he lost the first couple races because I interpreted his "poker face" as him handling a defeat. Later I learned that he had won those races and was working very hard to suppress his excitement because, as he said, "I didn't want to be annoying." He's such a funny boy.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

May Mornings

The early light awakens me
rising beyond the trees.
I lift from my pillow to see the view
before settling back to sleep.
The hillside is cloaked in a deep em
erald green
lurking in the shadows of the towering trees.
A new day dawning, the house is still
soon he'll be leaving for work.
The sound of songbirds plays in my ears,
a warbling springtime symphony.
The chirping makes it hard to drift back to sleep,
but soon enough I do.

When later I awake, the sky is alight, blazing pink and gold
and the memory of his goodbye kiss
lingers sweetly upon my forehead.

The bed is empty now, or so I think,
until I see an angel sleeping next to me.
Her bare shoulders peek out from her sleeves,
with hands placed perfectly under her cheek.
I shuffle nearer until I feel her little breaths
and watch the rise and fall of her chest.
I can't resist kissing her lips
and brushing the hair from her face.
I gaze at her sweetness with pure delight
sharing a corner of her pillow.
So peacefully she sleeps on his side of the bed,
the thought lifts the corners of my mouth.
I imagine her shuffling in the dark of night
making the trek to the far side of the bed
just to be in her Daddy's arms.
I look up at the clock it's 6:15,
time to get up.
I grab for my clothes and dress in silence
enjoying the beauty of the morning.
Then carefully I creep across the room headed for the door.
I cringe as I carefully pull it closed,
it scrapes across the old wood floor.

I wait a moment, holding my breath....
then exhale when all is still.

I tiptoe to the stairs,
avoiding the spots that creak

but by the fourth step I hear the cry
from behind my bedroom door:

I quickly turn and head back upstairs...
a new day has begun.

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Mountain Man

*The caption for this picture is at the end of this post ....

During the work week he may seem like a city boy toting his Mac in his laptop bag, texting on his iphone and working in a fancy Seattle high-rise but on the evenings and weekends he's an entirely different man......

My downtown man becomes my outdoor guy dressed in his farmer clothes digging fence posts, building chicken coops, splitting wood and clearing the land. He thrives on being outside whether working or playing he'd rather be outdoors. His most recent project is making an obstacle course for the boys. He cleared a place back in the woods down by the creek, chopped down a tree (okay, chain-sawed) then hauled it across the gully, dug holes and sunk stumps of varying sizes into the ground staggering them for the boys to try and hop from stump to stump without falling off. If I remember correctly part of his "plan" includes a climbing wall, a zip line and....okay, I forgot the rest. But what I love most is not just that he does these sorts of outdoor guy things, it's that he does everything (whether working or playing) with our boys by his side. It makes me so happy to look out the window and see my three sons working alongside their Dad stacking wood, digging holes & hauling rocks. When they're done working and come inside they take off their muddy boots smelling of dirt and sweat and I can't help but smile with pride.

After they work, they always play. According to Aaron a Saturday would not be complete without doing "something fun." So outside they go again..... off to their next adventure. Sometimes it's fishing down at the pond, hiking or biking on the trails of Banner Forest. The last couple weeks when it was raining they went rock climbing at the Y.

His latest hobby and new found love is mountain climbing. As young men's president he plans and supervises the 16-17 year old boys on their scouting high adventures. This year he received stake approval to take the young men on a 3-day climbing expedition up Mt. Rainier. In preparation for this climb they'll have training climbs as they summit 4 other mountain peaks in the northwest. When I asked him why he was buying all the gear instead of just renting it he said, "I want to have all the gear for when our boys are older so that I can teach them how to climb mountains too".

REI and Sierra Trading post are my worst enemies right now. When the UPS truck comes up the driveway I'm rolling my eyes wondering what on earth he has bought now...doesn't he already have all of his gear? Apparently not, because even after many, many deliveries there still seems to be things he "needs." Ugh!!!
(I can already feel myself getting cranky as I type this). Sooooooooo, before this loving post takes a turn south, I'm going to take a deep breath and focus on the positive.......

I'm happy to be married to my outdoor guy who enjoys snow caving in the winter and mountain climbing in the spring and summer. A man who uses his brains at work and his muscles at home. That lets me dress him up when we go on a date but isn't afraid to get his hands in the dirt when he works. A man who works hard at whatever he does; whether a computer geek during the week or my outdoor guy on the weekends.

Here's to my mountain man husband that I love and adore, I hope our boys grow up to be just like you.

*Shopping for mountaineering glasses at REI on his lunch break, he sent me this (and 2 other pictures) he'd taken on his phone to get my opinion on which he should buy.....Trying to hide my irritation I replied, "whichever's cheapest!"

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

March Memories

I love Lauren's Fashion Sense.
It cracks me up when she comes downstairs wearing an outfit she's put together. This is one of her better combinations.

Ben loves riding the mower with Daddy.
Actually they all do. They patiently wait their turn to ride on Dad's lap. Aaron's always so sweet to let them hop aboard.

Anyone need a cell phone?
I love finding things like this around the house. It reminds me so much of myself when I was a little girl. My boys actually play with the same set of blocks that I played with as a kid. On one of those blocks you can see a bunch of numbers that I wrote on it years ago when I decided to turn one of them into my phone (this was back in the day before cell phones). I think Joseph was the one that made this wonderful styrafoam phone. Hey, that has a nice ring to it. Wow, I'm on a roll....

Rocket ship for Teddy
Another discovery I found one day up in the playroom. When I asked the boys what they had built they said it was a rocket ship for teddy.

Suma, Suma
For years this has been a fun game that Aaron plays with the kids. Usually it starts out with two opponents facing each other on opposite corners of the rug. "Suma, Suma" they say, then charge at each other trying to wrestle the other one to the floor. Usually it's just one kid against Daddy but as you can see from the picture it usually ends up turning into a huge wrestling match with all of them. Aaron told me once that it's his way of getting extra cuddles and snuggles from the kids.

Campfires and Silly Stories
Aaron is so great about being spontaneous. He loves taking the kids out to the fire pit in the woods next to our house and roasting hot dogs or smores. He'll do this on any given day of the week, just for fun. Part of their tradition includes telling silly stories around the campfire. We each take a turn and everyone gets to pick the name and type of animal that the story is about and then you just go for it and tell the best story you can. It's funny to hear what the kids come up with and Aaron too!

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Family Tradition

Last night was a special night for our family as we read the last few verses of this book of scripture. When we moved back to Washington Jacob and Joseph were 21 months and 2 months old. We knew that family scriputre study was something we wanted to do but were unsure about the appropriate age to begin this tradition. We decided that now was as good a time as ever and so we began.....
The boys were so little we just made it a part of their bedtime routine. We only read a handful of versus each night, then sang them a primary song (usually Teach me to Walk in the Light, or I am a Child of God) followed by a family prayer.

It has been over 6 years since we started this tradition. In that time we have only read through the Book of Mormon twice (last night being our second time). Sometimes the kids are crazy (what am I saying-most of the time they are), and sometimes you're wondering if this is really doing any good. But then there are those occasional moments when you're discussing what's been read and teaching them a principle of the gospel and a sweet spirit fills the room as you find yourself bearing sincere and heartfelt testimony to your surprisingly attentive children. These are the moments we wait for.

You never know when something you read or something you say will sink in or speak to their little hearts. And whether or not it's a spiritual feast (and it rarely is) we have seen many benefits to doing this each night. Now that the boys are older they participate too following along in their own scriptures as Aaron reads aloud. Then each of them take their turns reading a verse or two. I am amazed at how there almost always seems to be something that we can learn from just the short amount of verses read each night. When we apply these scripture stories and gospel principles to our everyday lives we've found many opportunities to have great conversations with our kids talking about a variety of topics ranging from compassion and courage to charity, contention and even chastity.

Probably like most parents we struggle every day, trying our hardest to raise our children in the best possible way. Daily we make mistakes and hope that our kids will overlook our imperfections and forgive us for the things we do and maybe don't do so well. With that said I pray that when all my children have grown and the apron strings have been cut, that they'll sail off into the horizon of their lives equipped with what they need to have a safe journey.

As their mother it is my sincere hope that this legacy of faith we have established will sail with them upon the seas of their lives. That they'll sail with confidence as they navigate their way on this mortal voyage, equipped with the assurance that they are not alone. That their Father in Heaven loves them deeply and that Jesus Christ is their Savior, Redeemer and truest friend. He will captain their lives if they turn the wheel over to Him. By following His gospel and teachings they'll sail on calmer, safer seas finding joy in the journey as they learn and grow through the storms and calms of their lives. Sincere prayer and study of the scriptures are the compass and map that will help them find their way back to God. Daily I carry in my heart the hope that these traditions we set in place for our growing children will one day be the light they turn to when they've left the safe harbor of their childhood home.

For those of you who are not of our faith I pray that you will feel a yearning in your heart to seek the Lord in your life and feel of the peace that following His path brings. He has changed my life in so many ways and continues to be my kind, wise and trusted friend. If you want to learn more about these beliefs I invite you to visit this website that can teach you more.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Too Busy to Blog....

So I have a list of things I want to blog about but we've been so busy with house projects and entertaining visitors that my blog has fallen to the bottom of my list of priorities. It is, however, important to me to preserve these memories so on my desk in the office I keep a running list of things I need to blog about....Here are just a few as I chip away at my list:

Lauren's BAD haircut....

Yes indeed.....I totally screamed.
I was in the kitchen when Lauren came downstairs just moments after her bangs had been lovingly cut by her big brother Ben. Just a few steps behind her was the culprit holding the green handled craft scissors in his naughty little hand. With each step she took I saw how terrible it really was and I literally screamed in prolonged shock as she got closer and closer, revealing to me that this was indeed very, very real. This is the 3rd time my son has cut my daughters hair and the 3rd time EVER that ANY of my children have been caught cutting hair. Why, oh why, does it always have to be on my little girl ? How though do you punish a sweet little boy that each time thinks he's doing something good by making his little sister "look pretty?" (In his defense she was in desperate need of getting her bangs trimmed). Will this be the last time he takes matters into his own hands or did my screams of terror at the sight of his hack-job scar him for life and remind him to keep those craft scissors away from my daughters hair! After I got over the shock I got out the flat iron and multilple hair accessories in an attempt to conceal the missing bangs....this is about as good as it's gonna get for the next 4-6 months.

Speaking of Ben, whom I love dearly (truly), I've been noticing that as he's getting older he is becoming quite the little pessimist. I don't believe in labeling my children, although it can be difficult at times when you have a chronic liar (not Ben) in your household. Or when you have a son like Ben who whines and complains about a great many things. I confess that lately I've been biting my tongue (sometimes unsuccessfully) to keep myself from calling him a "little grump". Just for fun I started writing down on my magnetic grocery list some of the "grumpy things" that he has said....mind you this is just a little sampling. It seems that daily he finds new things to grumble and complain about. I'm really hoping that this is just a passing phase....

Some of Ben's Grumpy Quotes

"This dinner looks slimy..."

"Why do I have to do everything?"

"Oh great, I hope it's not Family Home Evening."

"I don't like this day."

"Why do I always have to say the family prayer?"

"Oh great, I hate this bread."

"This is a dumb shirt."

May I take your Order, please?
I've been keeping busy with a lot of projects around the house since the new year. While I was re-painting the bathroom vanity Lauren was a busy little bee getting into everything. After I pulled the drawers out to paint I couldn't keep her out of that cabinet! She was making such a mess of things I was getting a little irritated but at least she was staying away from the wet paint. My irritation melted away rather quickly though when I came in to find her sitting on the side of the cabinet with her head peeking out pretending to be a drive-thru girl at McDonalds. "Mama" she said, "Do you want ice-cream or french fries?" I nearly burst into laughter. It was just what I needed to take me out of my busy, busy mode of trying to finish the painting before picking the boys up from school. I sat down on the floor and played along for a few minutes all the while smiling from ear to ear at this funny little girl....


"The Club" is what they call it and we've been spending a lot of time down there lately. The kids love going down to the beach and anytime we have friends over for the day we all pile into the back of the suburban and drive down the road to driftwood cove. I look forward to when they get older and they're old enough to ride their bikes down there to spend an afternoon playing on the beach. It's such a great place to play. This is a picture of Joseph and his friend Hank next to the club they built out of driftwood.

It's been raining a lot lately and when it's a Saturday and it's raining there's only so many things fun things you can do. Aaron's been great about taking the kids to the YMCA to climb the rock wall.
Here's a picture of Jacob at the top.

We were so happy to have a visit from Megan and her family this month. The kids enjoyed playing around with their cousins Tyssen and Trenton. We even got to celebrate Tyssens 5th Birthday! I sure wish she lived closer, I just love my little nephews.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cute stuff from January

Lauren has been using her tea set from Grandma and Grandpa a lot. The other day I went in to the bathroom and found her just like this. I only hope she didn't get the water in her tea cup out of the toilet!

Jacob has been working on earning his Wolf badge in cub scouts. One of the things he had to do was to learn how to tie a tie. He was very proud that he could do it all by himself.

We took the kids to the Pacific Science Center for the Mission to Mars exhibit. The IMAX film about the Mars Rovers was absolutely amazing and captivated the kids for the entire 45 minutes. Pretty impressive for a scientific documentary.

As we were walking down to see the Mars exhibit I looked behind me to see Joseph and Ben rolling down the sloped ramp down to the ground floor. Ahhhhh, to be a kid again, they find fun in the most unusual places.

This month has started a chess and checkers craze in our home. I dug out the checker board one day and taught Jacob how to play, soon the other boys learned too. Then we got a chess set and Aaron taught them all how to play. Now Jacob is always asking me to play chess with him. He has beaten me more times than I have beaten him. Benjamin is more at my level when it comes to chess. Pretty embarrassing that a 5 year old is an equal match for my wit.

There seems to be a magnetic attraction between kids and water. I love the look on Laurens face. She realized that she was caught before the boys even knew I was there looking at the water all over the counter top, dripping down the cabinet and all over the floor. I think Lauren was probably thinking one word when she saw me in the doorway, "Busted!"