Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Joseph's Baptism

Joseph was baptized on Saturday, May 7th. He was very excited about this day and sent invitations to all of his friends and family including his entire class at school.

We had a special dinner & reception in our home that evening before his baptism. We showed this slideshow that I made for him chronicling his life from birth to baptism. It is always such a treat to look back and see how much your little one has grown. There are so many memories that you forget about until an old picture reminds you. Congratulations Joseph! We love you and are so proud of you for taking this important step in your life.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Joseph Turns 8!!!

For weeks I couldn't get Joseph to settle on a theme for his upcoming birthday party. Usually this is an easy decision for him. In the past it's always been very closely related to his current interests (Star Wars, Sports, Dinosaurs, etc.) But this year he was giving me nothing.

With only 10 days left until his birthday I pulled into the parking lot of Party City hopeful that a walk up and down the aisles would inspire him to choose something, anything. A short time later we emerged from the store empty handed. Joseph was in a funk that I didn't understand.

"Do you just not want a party this year? Is that what it is?" I asked him.

I thought that he had just been struggling to come up with a theme that wasn't too "babyish." But when he walked right past the TRON party display I knew it must be something else.

"No,I don't...... he said, I just want one with our family."

"You don't?" I was shocked. "Why didn't you say so?"

Almost immediately I felt my mind decompress at the possibility of not having to plan a party with all of it's attending stress, (sending out invitations, making party favors, planning games, treats, a second birthday cake etc. etc.)

"Are you sure?" I said, needing final confirmation.

Maybe this was why he'd been so indecisive. Maybe he was just growing out of this whole 'friend party' thing. Hallelujah, I secretly thought. My life just got a lot easier.

A few minutes later I heard him burst into tears from the back seat of the car.

"Mom," he said. "Do you know why I don't want to have a friend party?"

I was bewildered beyond belief, my curiosity peaked.
I listened...

"Because last year I had all my friends come over and no one would do anything that I had planned for my party. They all just left me and ran around outside and no one even payed attention to me, and it was my birthday."

My mind flashed back to last year's "Basketball party." He was very excited about this theme. We even bought a basketball hoop that I fixed up and Aaron sunk into concrete out in front of a poured cement pad. He had the whole party planned out with basketball games, Sports music CD playing while they shot hoops and then he wanted to eat pizza and watch "Air Bud." (which he had never seen but was very excited to watch.) The party did not go as planned, (you can see the link from last years birthday post here:


He ended up spending an hour of his party up in his room on his top bunk crying. I didn't know what had happened and no matter how I pleaded he wouldn't tell me why he was so upset. You can't force a kid to have fun at his own party so I just let it go and let him come down when he was ready. Anyway, it all made perfect sense to me now and my heart just ached for him.

So, this year we just had our normal family party on his birthday with Papa and Grandma and then on Saturday instead of having a friend party the plan was to have his best friend Hank come over for a fun day of doing whatever the two of them wanted to do.

Since Joseph didn't have a party theme I used some leftover hot pink streamers and balloons from a YW activity. They were perfect for him though because currently his favorite color is hot pink. It's a little alarming to Aaron and his Dad but it just goes to show you the quirkiness of our little Joseph. (I personally think he chose this color for 'shock value' more than anything else. He enjoys seeing people's reactions when he tells them his favorite color.)

Aaron called a few days before the weekend from work and told me that he'd been given 8 amazing seats to a Mariners game (from his boss) and so we thought we'd all go to that as a family. Turns out he really did want his friends there because he asked if Lauren and I could maybe stay home and have a girls night so that he could use the tickets to invite some more friends. Here is a picture of them at the game.

A week after Joseph's birthday I was asked by our Gospel Doctrine teacher at church to bring one of my children to class and speak for a few minutes at the beginning about some of their admirable qualities. I immediately thought of Joseph and the benefit that he would receive from hearing my publicly acknowledge his goodness.

Here were the things that I shared. I also thought it would serve well as an example of the young man that he is during this phase of his life.

Joseph at 8 years old

-Joseph has great faith. God and things of a spiritual, religious nature seem to always be in the forefront of his mind.

-Joseph is very service oriented. He wants to be helpful and almost always does his chores without grumbling. Sometimes when he's done he'll ask me if there are any "extra chores" or things I need done. He genuinely cares about helping out and does it in such a sweet and caring way. Sometimes when he can't sleep at night he'll come down and ask me if there are any extra chores I would like him to do.

-Joseph has a lot of courage and is a great leader. He is well liked among his friends and is in the "popular" group of boys at school. Earlier this year the ring leader of the group formed a club with 5 other boys (Joseph being one of them). Joseph's friend Hank was not allowed in the club and the other boys were teasing him and not letting him play with Joseph at recess. Joseph told the ringleader that he wasn't going to be in the club if they left Hank out. So for a whole week he played every recess with Hank until finally the other boys (wanting him to be in the club) relented and let Hank in too. I was so proud of him taking a stand against the popular kids.

-Joseph is very sweet and caring. Aaron and I will often find notes on our pillows with sweet sentiments. He will also make pictures for Lauren and make her gifts at school. Recently he spent almost all of his class earned points to buy a jumbo pack of play-doh for her. Another example of his caring happened at the beginning of the year. There was a new boy in his class that had just come to this school and he told me that every day during class he would lay his head down on the desk and cry. I talked to him about what he could do and the next day he told me that he asked the boy (his name is Ezra) if he would like to be his friend. The boy told him he "would think about it." I don't think that was the reaction he was expecting but I was very proud of him for reaching out to this boy and being so kind and caring.

Joseph is an amazing missionary. When I think of the scripture that says "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ...." I think of Joseph. Joseph has invited many of his friends to come to church with him. He doesn't just invite them but seems genuinely disappointed when they say they will be there and then don't come. One time he asked during the opening hymn if he could go out and check in the foyer to see if his friend was there because he had "promised" that he would come and he was worried that he wouldn't know where we were to sit by us. He has given out 2 book of Mormons to his friends since school started last fall and wrote a message to them on the inside over all on his own.

He asked if he could invite his class to his baptism and so we put an invitation in each of his classmates Friday folders. As a result of that 3 people from his class came including his 2nd grade teacher.

He also started reading the Book of Mormon this year and asked me one day if he could bring his
own copy to school so that he could read it during "read to self" time. He told me one day that he tried to get Aidan to read it during read to buddy time but "he wanted to read a joke book instead."

-Joseph is very generous and giving. He is so willing to give what he has to others. I have never seen him grudgingly share anything. He is eager to give what he has and is very generous in his giving. Just the other day Aaron asked for a bite of his ice-cream. There was only about 2 bites left in his bowl. When Aaron asked for a bite right as he was about to put it in his mouth, he lowered it from his mouth, scooped up a little more on the spoon and sweetly offered it to him.

Here are a few of Joseph's Favorite things at age 8....
Color- Hot pink
TV show- Star Wars The Clone Wars
Book- The Book of Mormon
Board game- Pictionary for Kids
Subject in school- Reading & Math
Best Friend-Hank
Dessert-Magic cookie bars
Things to do-Play basketball at home, play soccer with his brothers in the front yard, climbing rock walls.Candy bar- Twix

Other things about Joseph at 8
Mile Run time- 7:59
Chores he does (some daily and some regularly)- Bring goats in at night, take out the garbage, burn barrel trash, unload dishwasher, clean bathroom, fold laundry, organize the shoe closet, unload the step basket, clean his room, make his bed.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Because of You, Mother...

We can choose to remember the bad or we can recognize the good...

I did not come from a nurturing home. The majority of my memories involving my mother are not tender, loving or endearing. They are painful, hurtful and emotionally damaging. For many years the sting of these wounds stayed with me. For many years my judgement of her was harsh and unforgiving.

When I became a mother myself, I vowed that I would be nothing like her. From the moment I held my first baby in my arms, I put my whole heart into being the kind of mother I wish I’d had. As I traveled my own path of motherhood, I found myself less and less understanding of her. These feelings of love for my child were so powerful, it was difficult for me to understand why she didn't love me.

A few years later I found myself in a very difficult phase on my own path of motherhood. My 4 children were very young and their endless needs required all of my time and energy. At the end of my days I was exhausted and left with little strength. I felt much like a meager portion of butter being spread across a dry piece of bread. My stress level was high and my patience wore thin. There were many times that I became frustrated with my children and had to fight back the urge to angrily snap at them for doing childish things. But then I remembered my mother, and (not wanting to be like her) I tried my hardest to bite my tongue. Each time I felt that I couldn’t take the stress and the noise from all the crying, fussing, yelling and whining I remembered her. I vowed that I would not let myself become like her and I hit my own head against the wall instead of theirs. She was on my mind through it all.....keeping me from repeating her mistakes. And without condoning her, I grew to understand her.

In later years she sought my forgiveness for the things she did, stating “I did the best I could.” For a long time I felt that this was a lame excuse. But not anymore. After nearly 10 years of my own experiences as a mother, I have come to believe that she really did do the best she could. I do not condone her behavior, nor do I excuse it. But I nevertheless forgive her and have chosen to accept her and love her in my heart.

We are all imperfect as mothers, some more than others. We can choose to remember the bad things our mothers did or we can recognize the good. I may not have any tender moments or loving memories with my mother, but there is still a great deal of good that she did.
In recent months I’ve come to realize how much of what I do as a mother came from her influence and example. This is the good that she gave to me and on Mother's Day it is what I choose to celebrate.

For my Mother......

Because of you, I am a runner.
I remember seeing you many times as I rode the bus home from school. Through my window I’d spot you jogging along our old country road wearing your yellow polyester jogging suit with thin black stripes down the sides of the arms and legs.

Because of you, I read to my children.
When I was little I laid on your bed at nap time as you read me stories like Yurtle the Turtle, The Pickle Chiffon Pie and Petunia the Silly Goose. As I got older, you read books aloud as I sat behind you playing with your hair. The Hobbit, Amy’s Eyes and Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites were among my favorites.

Because of you, I cook healthy meals for my family.
Each morning at breakfast there was hot food on our plate. Eggs and oatmeal were not my favorite, but they are now. My lunch consisted of a whole wheat sandwich, an apple and a quarter for milk. You never gave me fruit roll-ups, potato chips or pudding cups. Just the basics my body needed for a foundation of good health. Each night you cooked our meals from scratch and made sure we had a meat, grain, and vegetable on our plate with a large glass of milk to wash it down.

Because of you, I read daily from the scriptures.
One of my earliest memories of the scriptures was seeing you read from the pages of your old, worn copy. The black leather was weathered, the pages were soft from being turned as you read intently, reverently and frequently.

Because of you, I volunteer at my kids school.
I was always so proud when you would come to volunteer in my class in elementary school. Many of the kids would tell me how pretty my Mom was and it made me so proud. Having you there made me popular among my friends. One time a kid was teasing me and another kid intervened and told them to leave me alone because “I had a cool mom.”

Because of you, my children take piano lessons.
We always had a piano in our home even though you couldn’t afford to pay for lessons. I learned by hearing you play and knew that when I became a mother my children would take piano lessons and learn to play as well.

Because of you, I decorate my home.
You sewed curtains, painted walls, stuffed pillows and hung flower boxes with red geraniums from the outside windows of our old farm home. On a limited budget you decorated our house and turned it into a home.

Because of you, I manage the money in our household.
How many times did I see you upstairs at that desk punching numbers into that silly adding machine amidst frequent groans as you balanced the checkbook. When I’m at my computer paying my bills online I remember you and smile.

Because of you, I am grateful for my dishwasher and dryer.
Countless times I saw you hanging clothes on the clothesline outside and upstairs in the hallway along the bannister rail. For years you washed dishes by hand in that old farmhouse sink cooped up in a tiny kitchen away from the rest of the house. Every load of laundry I throw in the dryer, and every dish I place in the dishwasher, I am grateful because I remember you.

Because of you, I am a Mother.
You never earned a college degree or held a full time job and yet when anyone asked you what you did, you never hung your head, but responded graciously and with pride, “I am a Mother.”
And now, I do too.