Thursday, November 20, 2014

Super Mom!! Or not...

Tonight was a hectic one.  James is out of town and I found myself suddenly "overbooked".  The girls needed supplies for tonight's Young Women activity, dinner needed to be cooked, Kyle needed help with a paper that is a day overdue.  I also had visiting teaching at 6:30 as well as a Court of Honor AND a soccer banquet to attend, both of which started at 7:00 p.m.

So which child do I choose?  Brandon who had earned two rank advancements?  Not something that happens everyday, plus he worked pretty darn hard to earn those little badges.  Or Kyle?  My senior, my starting varsity player, who claimed it was no big deal if I didn't come, he didn't care anyway.  

Surprisingly, I was able to go to both.  No, I didn't split myself into two mommas, although there have been many a day I certainly wished I could do that.  Especially during the toddler years.

First up was running to the store for a bottle of Sprite and some "decorative" candy with Mikenzie.  It wasn't a very long ride nor was it a big shopping trip.  But we sure enjoyed one another's company.  Some alone time, which my kids are lucky to get these days.  We talked about her friends, Spanish and Algebra classes.  Her little sister, her big brothers. Christmas gifts, moving to California eventually. It's amazing how much you can get in during one 20 minute errand.

Next was dinner which I prepared with a sink full of dishes and limited counter space while trying to read Kyle's paper on a laptop.  Lecturing myself the entire time about keeping a cleaner kitchen, I was able to cook up a nice pot of Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo with garlic bread.  ( Full of fat and carbs... I know.  Nary a veggie was to be found in tonight's meal )  A quick prayer was said and the kids each grabbed a bowl and headed to the family room to watch Chopped: Grandma vs Grandma.  Silently cursing myself for not having a beautiful, healthy meal prepared 30 minutes earlier and served around the family table  ( because it was loaded with freshly folded laundry and I didn't have time to order kids to put everything away) I ran out the door to go visit a sister in our ward at 6:30 on the dot.

I kept my visit brief and excused myself at 7:00 to run up to the church.  Court's of Honor always have a flag ceremony, prayer, announcements, blah, blah, blah. Nothing too terribly important, right??  Arriving at 7:10, I slipped into the back row just in time to hear scouts listing things they are thankful for like "needed necessities and stuff ".  After that enlightening exercise that only 12-16 year old boys can provide, we were on to the awards.  I stopped myself from requesting Brandon go first and waited patiently for "our turn".  Luckily, he was 3rd in line and he moved along quickly.  With two mother's pins on my shirt, a picture and a hug from my now favorite Boy Scout, I excused myself and drove quickly to the high school.

I arrived just in time for the final round of ice cream sundaes and before the real ceremony began.  I caught Kyle's eye and a subtle but sweet look of relief swept over his face.  My tough teenage boy really did care that his mom was there. We all listened patiently as coach after coach thanked the parents for their dedication, the players for their character and explained post season training in detail.

Finally the individual teams were given a round of applause and it was all over.  That's it, the senior year of soccer has officially ended.  Part of Kyle's identity, a  big part of his identity,  as well as something that he is incredibly proud of, has dissipated overnight.  As we walked out we talked about future plans and all that life has in store for him.  I was grateful I could have that brief discussion with him as we drove home together.  It is hard to lay down one treasure for another, but in a year from now, he will be somewhere in the world serving The Lord and that is the greatest treasure anyone could ask for.

As soon as we arrived home, the overwhelming mess of kitchen hit me.  Kyle quickly reminded me we needed to work on his paper.  The girls wanted to say family prayers and go to bed.  I cracked open Preach My Gospel and read part of Chapter 8 ( as advised by the G.A. that I listened to earlier today on The Mormon Channel while I was cleaning the house ).  I asked each child what they had learned and quickly got " it's good to set goals..."  Good enough!  Onto family prayers with the obligatory play time with Tucker until he isn't so cute anymore and everyone is ornery.  That's right, no official scripture study.  But at least it was a church publication... we will do better tomorrow night. 

Kyle and I dug into his paper.  It needed a lot of "work".  I edited, cut and pasted, discussed, encouraged until we got that 7 page paper done by 10:30.  I sent a very tired Kyle to bed with his very bloodshot eyes.  Wondering if I "helped" too much, I re-read the final draft and hoped he would get a good grade on our... ah hemm...his paper.

As I tipped toed upstairs to turn the ceiling vents on so I could clean the kitchen while my kiddos drifted off to sleep, I checked each room and then started downstairs to do the dishes.
My grandmother's oft recited saying came to my head:
" Can't sleep a wink with dishes in the sink!" 
bounced around my head along with the constant whisperings about my failure as a mother because my oldest still isn't ready to serve a mission.  That little voice NEVER goes to bed.  It is always ringing in the back of my head. Can you say "eternal failure"?  Am I failure? Is he? As I washed the pots and pans I thought of the many mornings I would very loudly wash these same pots and pans, dropping baskets of laundry on the floor, all while the radio was blaring so said child would not feel comfortable in a warm, cozy bed and sleep through seminary.  Do I regret "making" him graduate from seminary?  Not letting him quit 6 weeks before graduation? Was I wrong?  Was I right?? Will I ever know if I did anything right with that child? Does it matter, he is who he is, right?? Have I only lost a battle or have I lost the entire war?? Will I ever know??

As I again reflected on the evening I was pretty darn proud of all that I accomplished.  I did a lot, on my own.  Seriously, I was almost, literally, in two places at once tonight! I wondered if my kids saw the stress in my eyes or heard it in the tone of my voice when they need one last hug before they went to bed.  Or if they will even remember Court's of Honor or soccer banquets? I hope they remember their mom was always there for them. Especially for the big stuff.  Including seminary!

Maybe they didn't eat a meal around the table tonight, but they sure enjoyed watching           Chopped: Grandma vs Grandma together and were all cheering for "Alma" to win as I ran out the door off to visit teach.  Maybe they will remember their mom was dedicated to her church and beliefs. Maybe they will laugh and tell their children " My mom was so crazy... unorganized... awesome... supportive..."  Or maybe tonight will just blend into the hundreds of other crazy nights we have had as a family.

 One thing I know for sure is, this Supermom has truly been blessed with great kids!

Be Grateful!! 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

He really is a great kid... and when I say he, I mean all of them

Tonight at 9:00 our home was filled with chaos.  I had just returned from Parent Teacher Conferences, which went amazingly smooth.  The usual comments from teachers:

Kyle is a great kid.  Full of personality, a lot of "personality".  He's going places, I can't wait to see where he ends up. And a new one: He has really matured over the past few months ( say what??)

Mikenzie is doing great, no complaints.  She is so sweet. Such a hard worker.

Baylie is such a joy to have in class, I wish I could clone her ( me too ).  
I would love a classroom full of Baylies.

Brandon is doing excellent.  Very bright. Love having him in class. 

As I walked into my home it was not a welcome sight.  Dishes were still piled high from making dinner for the missionaries that we hastily packed as we ran out the door, still steaming hot and 15 minutes late ( as usual ).  The window for conferences was closing quickly and we had no time to tidy up before we left.  James was busy working on the computer trying to finish last minute business before he left for his weekly traveling work assignment.  The dog was hyper, chasing toys and begging for food.  The boys were watching a sports program, as usual.  Mikenzie had just returned from work and Baylie from a volleyball game.  It was a typical teenage activity filled night.

We quickly huddled the family together for a few reminders, a spiritual thought and a family prayer before James left for his business trip.  As we tried to find some semblance of peace, Tucker came running in with James' sandwich he had prepared for the road, which caused a loud round of laughter.   The kids were teasing one another ( borderline bickering but we held the line ).  We managed to get our thoughts and concerns out ( seminary attendance is slipping around here ) and finally a family prayer.

James gave me a quick kiss and yelled over the now not so borderline arguing to call him when things calmed down a bit.  I jokingly told him to expect at least an hour.  Once he left and I had regained some control of our home I got to work organzing and cleaning.  Brandon finally put down the balls, the hot pad and whatever else he was harassing Baylie with and discovered he had math homework to do.  Mikenzie was in the shower, Kyle was already in bed and Baylie was doing her usual milling about, as she has to burn every single last cell of energy before she can finally drop off to sleep.  I tackled the dishes and the laundry, started to pick up shoes and  backpacks that had been discarded around the house a few hours earlier.

Slowly but surely the house became our home once again.  Lights were dimmed, the dishwasher was humming and peace was beginning to fill the air.  As I took a deep sigh of relief at the quick progress I made I saw this wonderful sight:

Brandon, who 15 minutes earlier had Baylie almost near tears due to his relentless teasing and hyperness, had quietly asked for help with a difficult math problem.  Baylie, who had just asked Brandon less than 10 minutes earlier" Why can't you just GO AWAY??"  willingly helped him until he understood the correct steps to the math problem.  I even heard a "please" and "sorry " ( not for the teasing, but for taking the pencil out of Baylie's hand too quickly ).

Amazing!!  Peace!! Kindness!! 

My children never cease to amaze me.  I think I am doing something right...

Kyle also greatly impressed me tonight.  In a rare sighting of humility, he returned to his old job ( the one he left because it was " the worst job ever " with hopes of making loads of cash at a " way better job " which turned out to be a total dud of a job due to his hectic soccer schedule).   He humbly went to his former manager and asked for his old job back.  That took a lot of maturity on his part and I am so impressed.  I know grown men that wouldn't take that big bite of humble pie.  He did it all on his own.  Just earlier that day I wondered how much time we should give this restless child of mine before we started to pressure him into looking for another job.  I would have never guessed he would return to his old employer ( on his own nonetheless ) and ask for a job. As mentioned earlier by a teacher or two: He really is a great kid!

And when all was said and done, even this guy was ready for some peace...

Be Grateful!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Motherhood, otherwise known as the Eternal Guilt Trip

My alarm woke me up this morning at 5:15.  I laid in bed for another 15 minutes before I made the trek up the stairs to wake my not so happy teenagers for Seminary.  I was greeted by my sleepy but sweet sunshine Baylie who was almost all ready and happy as usual.  I skipped Kyle's door as we have a no-knock policy until 5:40.  That extra 5 minutes of sleep can totally determine one's entire day.  Not really, but it can determine how pleasant said teenager will be for the next 15 minutes of my morning.

I then traveled downstairs to find Mikenzie half awake and trying to roll out of bed.  I made sure she was awake.  I then crawled back into my bed for another 10 minutes before I made my final attempt to awaken the beast.  I checked the weather for the day, the bank account and Facebook and then made the trek once again up the stairs.  I knocked, no response... I knocked again... no response.  Third, much louder knock... still no sign of life.  I then pulled out my handy dandy paper clip, unfolded it and inserted into a locked door.  Popping the door open, I told Kyle to get up.  No response.  Called his name again...  no response.  I finally grabbed a foot a shook it firmly until I finally got a sleepy... debating how ornery should I be... oh, it's my mom... I better be polite... response.

I headed back down to the main floor of our home and wandered around for a minute.  I chatted with Baylie who was how wondering how Kyle will ever succeed in life if he can't wake himself up every day??  I just smiled and thought of the mission he will soon be serving and breathed a sigh of relief that yes, one day he will indeed grow up and wake himself up.

After a few more minutes it became evident that Kyle and Kenz were nowhere near ready and would make Baylie late, again.  She asked for a ride to the church so she could arrive at at reasonable time.  I was more than happy to accommodate her so off we went.  As I drove home through the quiet dark streets I wondered to myself and to my Heavenly Father... why can't they ALL be as easy as Baylie 
( and Jeremy, who was just a pleasant and easy to raise )??  I then thanked my Heavenly Father and my lucky stars that I was blessed with two "easy" kids.

As I thought about my two or three " easy " kids ( depending on the day, Mikenzie is mostly easy ) and my three more challenging children ( who are on a constant sliding scale between independence to down right rebellion, but never anywhere near the side of complete compliance ) along with a discussion I had with my husband last night, the guilt rushed over me.  I wondered why these fierce spirits seem so content to ride on the coattails of  my testimony instead of building their own?  Why does everything from Home Teaching to Missionary Prep class to Seminary have to be a battle? Why do we argue over so many petty things?  It just wears a Momma down.  How firm of a line should we draw? Am I too demanding? Do I not demand enough?

Every morning as I clean up the residual mess that accompanies getting four kids off to school I wander around picking up dirty socks, empty dishes, discarded homework and sometimes downright bizarre findings. I mean really, who in the world finds the need or the time for that matter to stick 100 toothpicks into a stick of butter??  I think of all the perfect Mommy bloggers out there who never have to pick up one stray item as their children happily march to a positive beat all while staying neat, clean, prepared and organized.  Why can't I be that organized??

As I battle one last year with Kyle over seminary, telling him you WILL graduate from Seminary...  you WILL go to Missionary Prep class... you WILL go to church each Sunday... you WILL watch General Conference... you WILL participate in family scripture study.... I think of all the perfect Mormon bloggers who have children who run gleefully into Family Home Evening and drink fully from the cup of gospel teachings.  Why aren't I that spiritual? Where is my leadership?

Where is the line between allowing free agency and being a "goodly parent"?  Where do my teachings and desires to raise good, strong adults who add to society and not take away from it overtake my children's personal responsibilities and choices?  How do I raise children who WANT to serve missions and WANT to serve The Lord?  So many people have said " Well, you can't force them to go on a mission"  Um... have you MET my children?? I couldn't "force" them to walk across the street if my life depended on it let alone force them to fill out mission papers and serve for two years!  My children ooze independence, maybe a little too much, but that is who I raised them to be.  No helicopter mother here.

I then thought to myself  it would be SOOO much easier if they would ALL just do what I want! If they would just obey me and not question my impeccable judgement.  If they would just comply more than they complain!  Can't they just be happy, compliant little soldiers??

No, they can't!  That is not the plan... you know...the great, eternal Plan of Happiness.  I honestly can see Satan's side of things every once in awhile.  Seriously, I could save my children from so much heartache and myself from so many unnecessary headaches if we all just obeyed!  Life would be so much easier.  But what would we learn?  How would we grow?  Who would we become?  Not the people our Heavenly Father wants us to be.  Not the eternal, sanctified, righteous saints we are striving to become while we travel through this veil of tears.  

So as my children stream back home after seminary and begin making their sack lunches for the day, as they play and laugh with our puppy and Baylie stands in awe of a beautiful sunrise ( because that's just who she is, sweet, easy and grateful ) I take in a deep breath and enjoy the fleeting moments of raising teenagers.  Teenagers who will soon be leaving my home to start out on their own at college or on a mission.  Teenagers who despite their constant stretching and growing and rebelling and exercising of independence still somehow melt my heart as they fill our home with energy and laughter.

I don't have the answers, even after writing this long post.  I probably never will.  I just do my best, each day.  One child, one challenge at a time.  I hope for a better than average outcome.  I pray for my children each day.  I pray for myself as a mother.  And then I get off of my knees and go to work.

Be Grateful!!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

I'm too sick for this guilt trip...

This morning as I dragged myself out of bed at 9:30, after a long night full of sneezing, coughing, sore throat, maybe a bit of whining, achy muscles and a mild fever, I entered my family room to see two of my kids arguing.  I stopped briefly with my whisper of a voice and told them I didn't feel well enough to deal with who had the remote control to the TV.  Never mind the fact that all four of my kids were lounging on the couches.  Later that morning when I reappeared, Mikenzie was cooking chicken, at 10:30 in the morning??  I didn't really care, I just wanted Tylenol, Ibuprofen and some cough drops to go with my Kleenex and misery.

As I laid back down in bed I pictured of one of the "perfect sisters" in my ward who most likely had her home humming with happy, well groomed children completing their chore charts with smiles on their faces, all while primary music was playing in the background ( and I can almost guarantee you, that this was in fact happening and it is just not an exaggeration-- they truly exist ).  I laid in bed for a few minutes before I drifted off into yet another restless nap to help me overcome whatever illness I am battling and  thought " I am really NOT the best mom, my kids should be working, cleaning, practicing piano... wait... I'm too sick for this guilt trip... " and into dream land I traveled.  

Later today, when I finally arose with  my ears ringing and throbbing from what I am assuming is a double ear infection ( aren't 42 year olds too old for that ? ), hacking all the way to the bathroom and finally out the bedroom door, I found... no... not a immaculate home filled with sunshine...  but I did find that maybe I am not the worst mom either.

Mikenzie had readied herself for her job, which she had acquired on her own at 15.  One check in the good mom box. I have raised an independent, hard working child. 

 Kyle had taken her to work so I could rest.  One more, no two more check's in the good mom box.  #1, I have a kind son who had concern for his mom and was #2, responsible enough to take his sister to work.  Hmmm, not sooo bad I guess.

I then found Baylie, cleaning the kitchen.  Only half a check in the good mom box, as she had ulterior motives for the cleaning.  It is National Share A Smile Day and she was baking a cake in the form of a big smiley face.  Not sure who gets a check in their box for that one, me for raising such a sweet little girl, or Heavenly Father for sending her to me.  He must  think I can do something right, so half a check to even it out to four checks.  She had to hurry, as she was helping with hair and make-up in the school play.  Voluntarism! Another check!

And then we have Brandon, who was arguing earlier with Baylie over the remote.  He was off playing in a basketball game.  Another check for keeping my children well rounded and physically fit? Kyle was there watching, supporting his brother.  James was able to go as well.  Maybe another check for all that? 

Later today, Kyle suited up and went to work as well. Another check in my good mom column.  He is a hard working kid, he just doesn't enjoy it as  much.  I think he would rather be here at any given moment on any given day : 

So, a grand total of 7 checks in the good mom box for the day.  I guess I can take that with a good pat on my own back.  I think I can honestly say have raised some pretty decent kiddos.  And I am NOT going to be a dutiful accountant at the end of today, subtracting from my good mom column the many things that I am sure I did wrong, wrong, wrong... nope, I'm just too sick for that guilt trip today.

Be Grateful!

Finally Blogging Again

Boy has it been a long time since I last wrote a little something on this blog.  I have been thinking about it for months, but I just never seem to have the get up and go enough to get it done.  As I reviewed my quiet little blog tonight, I realized what a treasure it is to reflect on over the past few years.  Little memories that may have slipped by if I had not taken a minute to write them down.

Life has not been kind to us in many ways over the past six-nine months.  It has been a long difficult winter in more ways than the cold temperatures and extra snow we have received this year.  We have had job loss, funerals, children with medical issues, one son leaving for a mission, another one leaving for BYU.  It has been a busy time in life.

A year ago today, James sold  his private practice to move towards a more lucrative career opportunity.  Things were going swimmingly well and everyone was happy.  James was actually working less, I was at home and NOT working in the office.  The pay was unbelievable, we almost  had to pinch ourselves at our good fortune every time a pay check was deposited.  We had plans, big plans for being totally debt free in 5-7 years time.  Life was great.  Kids were growing and we were moving right along.   The kids had a phenomenal summer, with a lot of travel and fun.

On August 21st we sent our first missionary off to the MTC in Provo.  We were thrilled to be able to fund his mission and were (are) so very proud of him.  There had been a few rocky spots along the way.  A little tension surrounding the elephant in the room, as Jeremy should have been missionary #2, not #1.  He shared with me the awkwardness of it all and I reassured him he should never be ashamed of making correct choices.  I was blessed to attend the temple with him a few times before he left and those were cherished moments.  My little boy was all grown up.

So, we outfitted him and sent him on  his way after a wonderful farewell and open house.  My Dad was able to help in setting him apart as a missionary, which I would have never dreamed of in a million years when I was a teenager.  It is amazing how much we all grow over time.

So, we were cruising right along until August 28th when James called me to tell me he had bad news.  Well, to be honest, he always has bad news.  He went on to tell me the company he was working for, the one with the fabulous salary, was closed effective immediately and he was no longer employed.  Surprisingly, both of us felt calm, and have continued to feel calm through out the entire ordeal.  But reality quickly set in.

It has not been pleasant financially.  It took James over a month to find another job.  And it pays much less than what we had been enjoying.  Even less than his office produced, and that was always a struggle.  He now has a second job to supplement, but it requires a lot of travel and a lot of  hours.  No one is too happy about that.  And, we are in a very deep hole financially due to the months of being underpaid.

But, we have learned a lot as we have reflected on all that we have been through.  A lot of self-examination takes place when you are on the brink of losing it all.  And now, it is time for us to rebuild. So many blessings have come into our life along the way, not in the form of our choosing, like another high paying job, but many blessings.  Friends and family offering to help pay for Jeremy's mission while we are getting back on our feet.  An escrow refund check arriving the very week we needed a big chunk of change to pay for malpractice, kind gestures and yes, even a big dose of humility along the way.  Many blessings indeed.

As we were pushing through the fear job loss brings, Brandon had surgery.  Kyle happened to break his ankle the same night I was staying in the hospital with Brandon, which was the same night James was in Michigan being trained for his new job. of those days.

I was heavily involved with multiple ward parties and Christmas giving throughout this time and I kept saying " If I can just get through Christmas... things will slow down and I can relax"

The highlight of our Christmas of course was talking to Elder Teela via Skype.  We spent almost two hours talking to the happiest missionary on the planet.  It was wonderful seeing him so very content and just HAPPY.

I called my mom after our family call to let her know we had spoken to Jeremy.  She was thrilled for us.  And then, she told me my sweet Grandma wasn't doing too well.  That she had stopped eating and was sleeping 24 hours a day.  She didn't have a lot of time left.

I scoured the internet for a not so cheap ticket to fly to Utah.  Buying a plane ticket last minute during Christmas season is not an inexpensive task.  I found a reasonably priced ticket and flew out on the 27th.  Praying the whole time I would be able to go say goodbye to a wonderful lady who meant so much to me.  When I landed at 10:30 p.m., she was still hanging on.  I prayed all night we wouldn't get "the call" and woke up feeling anxious to get to Levan to see her.  At 8:00 that morning, just after breakfast, my aunt called to let us know Grandma had passed away at 11:30 the night before.  She wanted to let us have a good nights sleep.  I missed her by just a few hours, but was grateful she was in a much better place, where she could walk again, use her quick wit to make others smile again and to be with more family and friends than she has left on this side of the veil.

We had a wonderful celebration of her life on January 4, 2014.  Grandma brought so much joy into so many lives.  It was a great family reunion, as my mom said " Well, it's too bad Mother passed away, she would have loved to hear who came to her funeral"  And she would have, she loved family and friends more than anything.

So, it truly has been a long winter.  A lot of cold and dark nights.  Worry and sadness for one child, not to be outdone by worry for another child and concern for another.  Many nights spent praying, worrying, crying, and praying some more about the temporal and tedious, but necessary thing, called money.  

 But with it, many bright, sunny days as well.  I have wonderful children who make me smile and cry and make me want to pull my hair out, and then laugh again...all within a 10 minute time frame.  I have a husband who will work as long and as hard as he has to for his family.   I have been so wonderfully blessed with a good life, not an easy one, but a good life.  So... we are on a bit of a detour.  We might as well enjoy the scenery of the enormous mountain ahead of us, there is more joy in the journey that way.

Be Grateful