Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Late night minutes

bedtime shots from Melissa

Last night I returned home from a meeting to a clean kitchen (thank you, husband) and a quiet house.  Well, a mostly quiet house.  The muffin frequently has late night crib parties, and last night was no exception.  There is very rarely crying, but instead he jumps on his crib mattress and talks and laughs and sings and eventually he goes back to sleep.  While I puttered around and spent some time decompressing, I waited for him to go back to sleep.  But after an hour and a half of listening I was ready to head to bed myself and I decided I'd sneak in a quick cuddle with my boy to see if I could get him back to sleep.
As soon as I opened his door I realized he wouldn't be going to sleep anytime soon without a diaper change.  Then I remembered I needed to bring more diapers up from the basement, so lights that I'd just turned off were turned back on again all over the house as I grabbed the supplies and returned to his room. The minute I picked him up he planted a big open mouth kiss on my cheek.  While I worked on his diaper he laid peacefully with his hands over his eyes to block the light from the hallway.  Freshly diapered, jammies zipped, we settled back into the glider and I wrapped him up tight in a blanket.  He nestled his head in my neck, and seconds later he was back to sleep.  I sat there for a while just soaking it in.
He's much too big these days.  He fairly coherently communicates what he wants, with his most frequent requests being "reag-a-book-a-me" said with various intonations, or "pease drink-a-wat-ah" or "crack-ah" or "outside-ride-a-bike".  His personality is getting bigger and funnier all the time, and I'm not sure if it's a new days-away-from-two stage or if this is really part of who he is, but he's constantly out to amuse us all.  Although usually on the go, he regularly settles in for some cuddles and gives hugs and kisses and apologies freely.  It's getting harder for me to hold his 30-pound frame for long stretches, and I'm usually looking for somewhere to sit down if he's seeming to want to be held.
He is sweetness.  I remember with Miss A and de-Man holding them in the blue chair and realizing our days there together were numbered and soaking in those minutes at bedtime, knowing they'd be gone much too soon as a new baby would take over the spot in the chair.  Last night was that feeling all over again.  I love that chair just for the times it's given me with each of my babies.  And I'm grateful for the late night minutes I stole with my muffin last night.  In two days he'll be two.  His golden birthday this year- 2 on the 2nd.  This growing up thing happens way too fast.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

People

image via tumblr via pinterest
Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  We enjoyed back-to-back celebrations- Wednesday with my dad and brother/sister-in-law, and Thursday with the husband's parents, brother/sister-in-law, and my sister-in-law's sisters and their families.  The rolls were plentiful (sign of a successful Thanksgiving, I think) and in addition to everything being delicious both days, it was just plain fun.

As nice as it was to enjoy good meals and a lot of down time, the best thing over the whole long weekend was the people.  I had the opportunities to visit with a lot of people over the break- visits with people from church, visits with family, and visits with friends filled much of last week/weekend.  It was perfect.  I loved learning from those around me as I saw examples of tireless service, quiet thoughtful acts, generosity of time and talents, and sweet conversations lifting and comforting and communicating love.  I could write about 100 acts of service witnessed over the weekend, but two in particular stand out to me.

For the past several months I have watched my sister-in-law work on a quilt for her sister's birthday.  Hours of planning and cutting and sewing fulfilled their purpose as the quilt was opened this weekend by her very surprised sister.  I can't think about that moment when she opened the box without getting teary-eyes.  Surprise was coupled with gratitude and deep appreciation for the hours sacrificed to create such a beautiful gift.  The moment between giver and receiver was beautiful- almost sacred- and love was an unspoken backdrop to the occasion.

The second lesson came from an interaction the husband had with my dad after he took him home from dinner at our home on Wednesday.  While he was here we were all on pins and needles as we watched my dad try to get around.  Every time he stood up we were sure he was going to fall.  He hadn't seemed so unsteady since his first days at our house almost two years ago.  Despite the nerves we felt and the demands of his visit, the husband is very open with my dad in sharing his love and kindness.  He told my dad how glad we were that he could come, how much we enjoy spending time with him, and communicated an open invitation for him to come any time.  My dad was grateful for his kindness but also added that he really only feels at home when he's at his assisted living center.  I've thought about this interaction a lot over the past few days.  I feel a pang of sadness for my dad, but also gratitude that he does feel at home in his current circumstances.  I feel great love for my husband at being able to communicate things with my dad that are often too difficult for me to do.  I feel an increase of love for both of these men in my life.

Mentioning these examples is not to diminish the gracious invitations we received over the weekend, or the aunts helping with kids, or the kids who helped each other, or the dozens of other acts of kindness.  I truly feel overwhelmed as somehow over the weekend my view has enlarged to see each of these things for the love they communicate instead of overlooking their true value as I have for a long time.  

I am always inspired by the amazing amounts of goodness that people have.  There is a tremendous capacity for love and service that each one of us contain.  This time of year always seems to bring out the good in people, and I'm grateful I can witness those examples around me.  I have always felt that people are part of your life for a reason, and I am blessed to be surrounded by truly good people.    

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Days- A Few Final Thoughts

printable via Honeybear Lane

I wanted to take a minute to link-up with Life Rearranged and Joy's Hope and post a quick recap of my experience with the Happy Days Project.

I shared before about how excited I get about these kinds of challenges, but the hard part is always in the doing, and this time was no different.

Day 1 I was feeling really good.  I planned ahead and got the filling for my pumpkin muffins in the freezer while I was in the middle of making chicken and dumplings for dinner.  Time started speeding up, but I put the muffins in the oven just as we were sitting down to dinner.  The husband came home late from work, always a curveball, but I was still determined to follow through and sent him and the big kids out to deliver our treats to a few neighbors when the kids should have been going to bed.  The highlight of the whole experience was probably the discussion we shared while the husband was eating his dinner before heading out the door.  We talked about all of the things our neighbors do for us and why it's important for us to serve them.

When we moved into our home 6 years ago, it was quickly apparent that we would have a very different experience than we'd planned on.  We thought our quiet cul-de-sac seemed charming, and I imagined the kids playing with friends and the neighborhood gatherings we were sure to enjoy with other families.  As we began meeting our neighbors, we noticed the details that we couldn't have planned for- there were no kids.  The majority of our neighbors had bought their home as the one they wanted to grow old in- their retirement home for lack of a better term.  There are two kids next door, but one is going away to college next year, and the other will be entering high school.  They're not exactly playmates.  Although it's been difficult to miss the realization of those dreams for our home of a neighborhood full of kids, there have been great blessings from these neighbors in such a different season of life.

They drag our garbage cans back up our driveway when they know I'm sick and pregnant. They are patient with our slow progress in our yard, and offer advice as well as physical help.  Two of the neighbors showed up over the summer with tape measures and helped engineer and construct a roof for our deck.  They are patient and kind to our kids as they stop on their many bike rides around the circle to ask about one neighbor's chickens or to see the horses that back up to another neighbor's fence or to ask about whatever fascinating project they might be in the middle of.  They share their produce from their abundant and beautiful gardens.  They are generous with their time and talents in the ways it's hard to be with a busy home full of young children.

I was glad to have a chance to share these feelings for our neighbors with my kids.  They need to know that although it's a bummer to not have neighbors to play with, we are still very blessed to have good neighbors.

Day 2 of the project left notes still waiting to be sent/delivered, and the rest of the days quickly got away from me, although the challenges have continued to play in my mind with plans to carry them out eventually.  

Although I could look at the project as a fail considering I didn't complete every task, I count it as a great success.  Any time I can share valuable lessons with my kids and help them think of others, I really can't ask for more.  I'm hoping we can take the long weekend and do a little more planning for some service this season.  There are few things I'd rather do with our family this weekend, especially while counting our blessings.

Happy Tuesday!
I'm busy today making preparations for Thanksgiving round 1 tomorrow and round 2 on Thursday.  Hope you're enjoying the family and friends and food this week.  Be back soon.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Grateful Heart

via homegrown hospitality

I would consider myself an optimist.  I'm a generally happy person and usually have no problem looking for the good or seeing the glass as half full.  Lately I've found myself a bit unsettled- a bit of anxiety, lack of optimism, and lack of faith all rolled into one.
Almost two years ago my life turned upside down after my dad's stroke.  Although I can look back and see the little things whispering to me of such a big change to come, it still felt like something I was completely unprepared for- a total sucker punch.  We made it through and I learned amazing lessons and came out better on the other side and am truly better because of it, but I've realized it's also left me a bit more doubting (totally ironic considering the increase of faith I experienced at the same time).  The more time that passes since that event, the more I find myself feeling anxious waiting for the next big thing.  Every small challenge is suddenly multiplied in my head into the worst possible scenarios.  I am constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop, certain that life can't remain good for this long without another personal tragedy surfacing.  
Writing this makes me even more aware of how crazy I sound.  I know a million responses I'd give to a friend who was experiencing those feelings.  So in case you may be experiencing any or all of the above, here's my pep talk to myself.
The answer to overcome all of this stress is gratitude.  If I can focus on my blessings, it will help me to see the good and to feel the love of God.  If I can feel His love, I can feel peace and overcome the doubt and anxiety that so readily creeps in.  There is such a paradox here for me.  I know that adversity is a blessing.  I don't doubt the gifts that come when we endure great suffering, and I feel grateful for those opportunities, as difficult as they've been, which have drawn me closer to my Savior and to my Heavenly Father.  But in my current state of waiting for those trials, I am neglecting to be grateful for the sunshine They give, as well as the rain.  It feels so silly and ironic and just plain sad that I can't seem to embrace the good days and be grateful for them. and instead I waste time worrying about the bad that I assume must be coming.  Trials are sure to come at some point- we all endure them- but sitting around waiting for them isn't going to change the outcome when they arrive.  The only thing I'm wasting is my time and energy and plenty of perfectly great days to be grateful for. 

I've got work to do.  I've got to increase my faith to replace this fear that comes so easily right now.  I've got to nurture my feelings of gratitude to crowd out the craziness.  

Tonight I turned on one of my favorite Thanksgiving messages created a couple of years ago (take a minute to watch it below).  I've watched it probably 100 times with my kids or by myself.  My favorite part?  The part when Dallin Oaks says, "Let us give thanks for what we are and for the circumstances God has given us for our personal journey through mortality."


There are times when my circumstances are bleak, and there are times when my circumstances are beautiful, but always they are given to me from God.  They are always just what I need for my journey, and they are always a blessing.  I am grateful for that knowledge of the involvement of God in my life.  I am grateful for the current challenge that is helping me to focus on my blessings.  I can always use an extra helping of gratitude.  It makes everything so much better.  


Friday, November 18, 2011

A few Friday lists

Charming Things Recently Said by My 1-year-old
1.  Chubby face (while pinching my cheeks)
2.  Stop it
3.  Uh-wock a door- NOW (translation: unlock the door- NOW)

Fun Things Accomplished This Week
1.  Craft night with friends where I made a great cornhusk wreath
2.  Testing for some of the students in Miss A's class- 1st graders are pretty cute
3.  Online shopping, helping me once again stay home when the thought of retail shopping with kids is more than I can handle
4.  Spent time with local family hanging out and eating pizza while the husband helped his brother with some highly nerdy computer/wiring project

Not Fun Things Accomplished This Week
1.  Successfully caught the cold I've been trying to fight for over a week, just in time for a meeting tonight I can't really miss
2.  Took a visit to the doctor and then to the local children's hospital for ultrasound and labs to see about the lump on de-Man's neck that hasn't gone away for the last 6 weeks.  Luckily all tests are coming back normal.  Unluckily we still don't know what it is, but hopefully it will go away soon.
3.  Vacuumed the family room 20 times due to the trail of cereal that seems to never end  
4.  Burned out the motor on my blender this morning while making a smoothie, sticking to my one blender a year average

Things I'm Grateful for Today
1.  PBS kids (not my favorite mode of entertainment, but I'm glad it's there when I need it)
2.  Quiet, unexpected promptings
3.  Good friends
4.  Supportive family
5.  Stretchy pants
6.  Popsicles (currently this pregnancy is brought to you by Dreyer's whole fruit bars)

Hope you have a great weekend!  Two family birthdays on the agenda, so hoping I feel better fast.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Words

image via pinterest

Today was a bit of a much needed wake-up call, and I need to write it down to hopefully avoid repeating this one {again}.

My patience has been thin lately when it comes to the kids accomplishing tasks set before them.  I'm sure de-Man's extra early wake-up call this morning didn't help matters, not to mention hormones, but I'm taking responsibility for my actions regardless of hormones and sleep-deprivation.  By the time we all piled in the car to take Miss A to school I was not exactly chipper and started into a discourse on how much I need their help and need them to meet the expectations I have for them.  I'm pretty sure de-Man was upset because he refused to put on his seat belt, a task he knows how to do but frequently prefers not to.  Finally he interrupted me and burst out, "But Mom, I'm trying my best," and exploded into tears.  His words hit me.  Although I wasn't sure that it was his best, after all I've seen him fasten his seat belt a hundred times, he said that it was.  I realized that maybe for today, it really was his best.  Maybe his early wake up wasn't giving him the energy he needed.  The fact that he felt it was his best and that I wasn't accepting that was hurtful to him.

Instead of clueing in at the beginning of the day, parts of this lesson came again tonight.  The witching hour (aka 5:00) was particularly bad today as I worked on dinner and tried to prod the kids to help get their toys/papers/art supplies/belongings picked up.  I remembered the instructions the husband gave them last night about expectations when he returned home today, and I wanted them to meet them.  Feet were dragging and gentle prodding turned to harsh demands and suddenly everyone was in tears.  I tried to gather them and discuss gratitude and the principles of how taking care of what we have shows our gratitude.  I think my earlier harshness caused it to fall on ears that weren't very willing to listen.

By the time we had Family Home Evening, I knew I had some apologizing to do.  I read a story about using kind words and then asked for forgiveness for the unkind words that have surfaced so readily lately.  I am blessed to have a patient and forgiving family.  We all admitted a need to try harder to speak kindly (myself being the one primarily at fault, no doubt), and we even came up with a code word to remind each other if we forget.

Sometimes I forget that one of the blessings of motherhood is to learn from my children.  I get so wrapped up in being the mom and being in charge that I neglect the valuable lessons my kids share with me daily if I open my eyes to see them.  Today they have taught me important lessons.

Yesterday I became aware of the sorrow felt by a sweet girl in primary.  With all of her youthful enthusiasm she was so excited for her dad to see her participation in the primary program.  It wasn't long before her enthusiasm turned to disappointment.  She turned to the leader next to her and lamented, "He didn't even see me do my part.  He slept through the whole thing."  The leader tried to soften the blow, telling the girl that maybe his eyes were just closed.  But children are perceptive.  She knew he was asleep and insisted upon the fact of the matter.  My heart broke for her and the lack of validation she received from someone so important to her.

Thoughts of her, and of my own children, have weighed heavily on me tonight.  I feel so blessed to have my own children, and indirectly many others currently entrusted in my care.  I've been freshly reminded that encouraging words, validation, praise, kindness, and gentleness can make all the difference.  It brought to mind one of my favorite quotes shared a few years ago by Jeffrey R. Holland:

We must be so careful in speaking to a child. What we say or don’t say, how we say it and when is so very, very important in shaping a child’s view of himself or herself. But it is even more important in shaping that child’s faith in us and their faith in God. Be constructive in your comments to a child—always. Never tell them, even in whimsy, that they are fat or dumb or lazy or homely. You would never do that maliciously, but they remember and may struggle for years trying to forget—and to forgive. And try not to compare your children, even if you think you are skillful at it. You may say most positively that “Susan is pretty and Sandra is bright,” but all Susan will remember is that she isn’t bright and Sandra that she isn’t pretty. Praise each child individually for what that child is, and help him or her escape our culture’s obsession with comparing, competing, and never feeling we are “enough.”


What wise words- I especially love the thoughts on comparing, something I've shared a lot recently with my kids.  I also love the reminder on the image above.  There is no time to leave important words unsaid.  Tonight I said two of those most important words, I'm sorry.  I followed them up with three more, I love you.  And I hope that I can maintain an awareness of how I speak to those around me, leaving them feeling uplifted and encouraged and happy and loved after every interaction.  There is always much to improve on.  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Current Events

I love this thought via this etsy shop via pinterest


I am currently:
-wrapping up Sunday preparations.  Tomorrow is the primary program, the day when the primary children do the program for the whole congregation during sacrament meeting.  I am so excited for the kids to show what they've been working on.  And I am also so excited for it to be done.

-fighting the tickle in my throat that's been coming around nightly for the past three days.  Luckily it goes away the next morning (so far), I'm just hoping I can keep it that way. Come on, Emergen-C!

-happy after a day full of good news at doctor appointments yesterday.  Baby looks good at the 10 week mark.  The  muffin did not react to tree nuts or eggs, so he seems to be outgrowing some of his allergies!  Hooray!  And there were no cavities for the big kids at the dentist yesterday.  High fives all the way around.

-feeling a little guilty about skipping out on the blog all week.  Life just happens.  I've still been trying to play along on the happy day challenges.  Some days are easier than others, but I always feel better when I make a deliberate effort to think about others, and sometimes it's nice to have the service already thought out for me.

-thankful for good friends.  I received happy mail this week from an old friend I worked with during college.  She sent me an envelope full of comics all pertaining to pregnancy just to lighten my mood and distract me from the blahs.  It was so thoughtful and unexpected- the perfect pick-me-up.  I have some pretty amazing women in my life and I am grateful for their influence for good.

-satisfied with my dinner performance this week.  It wasn't perfect, but 4 out of 7 dinners being thought out, well-balanced, and planned ahead was definite improvement from where we have been lately.

-warming up to the holiday season.  I suppose I've started to realize that summer is indeed over and I should embrace this time of year.  This week was a flurry of email activity with Thanksgiving menu planning.  This year we're doing Thanksgiving two days in a row with different sides of the family, and I'm excited to be a part of double feasting/cooking/planning.  It's one of the best holidays, I must say.

-grateful for the designated day to honor our veterans yesterday.  What amazing sacrifices by so many.  I am humbled by their service.

-a total cryer.  I'm pretty sure by the time the primary program is over tomorrow any ounce of make-up I put on in the morning will be gone.  I'm trying to be tough, but really there is no fighting it right now.

Hope to be back soon!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Happy Days: Day 1 Update

adorable printable accompanying day 1 of The Happy Day Project

Thought I'd give a quick update before heading to bed.  Tonight as a family we talked about serving others, especially our neighbors.  We talked about things we were grateful for and reasons why we're grateful for good neighbors.  The big kids (accompanied by the husband) chose which neighbors to take our delicious pumpkin muffins to while I put the Muffin to bed.  Mission accomplished.  By the way, do yourself a favor and make those pumpkin muffins.  The cream-cheese filling is completely brilliant.  I haven't made them for a while, but I have a feeling they're going to be in heavy rotation around here this fall/winter.

Happy Days


Looking for a way to make your week super happy?  You're in luck.  Today is the beginning of The Happy Day Project.  Daily challenges all week will inspire you to spread kindness to others, and I'm pretty sure it will put a spring in your step as well.  Check in with Julie and/or Jeannett for the daily tasks plus printables and other inspiring things happening around the web.  You know this kind of thing is right up my alley- I love a little feel good challenge, and I think it's just the kick in the pants I need to get out of my rut.  I'll be playing along and updating my progress among my posts this week.  Hope you'll join the fun!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Internal Dialogues (or proof that I'm crazy)

image via this shop via pinterest

Tonight I'm in one of those places I seem to get myself into far too often.  I feel like I'm in a rut and I should be doing/being more/better, but the motivation to make it happen isn't exactly there.  Then begins the current internal dialogue:

Pregnant Christina: "Take it easy.  You're growing a person.  You're in survival mode.  Cut yourself a break." (don't worry, when I'm not pregnant Christina I still find excuses to take it easy and maintain this amazing dialogue- this is not solely a pregnant thing)
Type-A Christina: "You're pregnant, not diseased.  Step it up.  This is not an excuse to quit life.  Don't take the easy road.  It won't be any easier later, so start now!  Get to work.  You can do it!"

And so it goes.  Usually the type-A half is humbled quickly by the pregnancy half (or other excuses half) and we meet somewhere in the middle, but somehow the middle-ground eventually leads to the rut.

This weekend was highly productive.  I suppose by highly productive I mean that the husband did amazing amounts of work winterizing outdoor things and somehow cramming our garage tightly of all bikes/scooters/ride on toys/garden gadgets/hoses/kitchen sinks so we could again both park inside (usually his car moves outside for the summer so the bikes/scooters/ride on toys can have their own more accessible parking spot).  Inspired by his productivity, I decided to get my act together.  I scrubbed kitchen counters and cleaned out some things.  The blahs subsided and I made a run to Costco, came home, and made a quadruple batch of meatballs (hello 3 dinners in the freezer) and two loaves of french bread.  Our dinner of spaghetti+meatballs+salad+bread was quickly devoured and I realized how desperate we all were for some home-cooked deliciousness.  I've taken it easy regarding meals for too long.

Goal 1: Step up the real cooking around here.  Breakfast burritos, grilled cheese sandwiches, waffles, and quesadillas mixed in with plentiful local drive-throughs have run their course.

Last week I was on my game one morning while getting Miss A ready for school.  By the time we all got in the car, she finally said, "Mom, what's wrong?   You're just so happy this morning!"  I then realized that it's a sad commentary if my child thinks something's wrong because I'm happy in the morning.  The stresses of our daily routine are often taxing and leave me feeling like a taskmaster, but it has me rethinking the routines in general to make some improvements.  It also has me rethinking my attitudes.  I don't want everyone's days to start so poorly just because I may not be feeling well.  It's ok for my kids to learn to be sensitive to my needs as a person, but I also need to be more aware of the role I play in setting the mood in our home.

Goal 2: Improve my attitude.  Think before I react.  Put the needs of others before my own.  (and maybe this is why I get overwhelmed- is this really 3 goals?  We'll call it 1 for now.)

My spiritual habits have such a great effect on my day.  If I start my day in the scriptures and take time for meaningful prayer, it is always a million times better.  For these things to happen, I've got to get to bed on time.  To get to bed on time, I need to plan ahead and accomplish the things I need to get done in a more organized way.  It's all part of a giant cycle, but I know the bottom line is if it's important to me I'll make it happen.  I just need to remember how important it really is.

Goal 3: Make spiritual nourishment a non-negotiable part of my day- everyday.

So there you have it.  Lofty?  Probably.  But needed?  Most definitely.  I loved the print above.  I may or may not accomplish all of what I've set out to do.  Somedays I'll still feel exhausted and barf-y.  Other days will hopefully have bursts of productivity.  But I need to just keep on keeping on, doing my best everyday, and hopefully it will be a little better than the day before.

Press on, brave soul.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Week's End

This week has been another blur.  Halloween feels like a hundred years ago, so it's weird to think that it was just on Monday.  I'm so glad it's the weekend!  Although I always have a long list of things I hope to accomplish/errands I need to run, there are very few concrete plans- just the way I like it.

The list making has begun for the coming holidays.  Thanksgiving menus ideas are swirling together with Christmas gift ideas, and my kids all happen to have birthdays within 3 weeks of Christmas (hooray for my first non-winter baby on the way), so birthday planning is also thrown in the mix.  I'm hoping I can spend some of the weekend getting the house in order to feel better prepared for the next few busy months.

Speaking of lists, I've recently come across a few links worth sharing:
-these ham and cheese sliders were enjoyed during a lunch with friends this week and were delicious.
-the coolest kid's duvet cover I've seen in a long time- a project full of patience.
-emergency car kits may just be on my weekend to do list, and this post has some great ideas.  This has been on my mind a lot lately.
-this post on holiday gluttony had a lot of great food for thought, especially in the comment section.


In the midst of relaxation and productivity, I'm also hoping the "extra" hour of sleep this weekend leaves me feeling magically rested.  Don't forget to set your clocks back Saturday night.  Happy weekend!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Rewind

For the sake of documentation, I give you Word Girl and Captain Huggy Face.  Forgive the horrific i-phone pictures.



Chuck the Evil Sandwich Making Guy refused to wear his hat that turned his head into a sandwich shape and was not photographed amidst the chaos.  After two class parties and a 250 person party at church that I just happened to be in charge of, I am grateful that Halloween is over.  I'm really not much of a fan.

But now that it's November, I can start getting excited for the real holidays.  Thanksgiving, here we come!