Thursday, July 31, 2008

Oh, what do you do in the summertime?




Today our littlest one had a pretty big day! It was her first time to get in the pool with her sisters!

She has watched and been so sweet every time I've let the girls in, and lately has started to kick with excitement and seem to want to leap in there with them! So today she got her chance. :)



After some adjusting, she loved it!! :) She splashed to her heart's delight.

Her sisters did a very good job of trying really hard not to splash her back! :)



The girls love to make footprints on the cement when we get out! :)



Can I have a bandaid?

Our toddler is cutting the 4th and final 2-year molar. For her (and for her family), it has been a miserable time. :) She is swollen, grumpy, in a lot of pain, and grumpy. Oh, and did I mention grumpy?

In her own words: "Mommy, I gumpy!"



She came to me with her finger in her mouth and crying. She said, "My toof hurts, mommy! Please, I have a bandaid??"

I wish a bandaid would help!! :)



But for a small moment

My sister-in-law directed me to a wonderful quote today by Neal A. Maxwell. It was so touching to me that I wanted to post it here:
"The cavity which suffering carves into our souls will one day also be the receptacle of joy."
I loved it so much that I looked up the entire talk. It was incredible, as Elder Maxwell's talks always were. I heartily recommend it! You can read it here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Why we keep journals

I am not a tremendous journal keeper these days. Before I got married and had babies, I wrote every day, but of course, as I became much busier, I let myself lapse quite a bit in that area. But I have genuinely tried to write down the very important things, thoughts and impressions that have come to me.

I have been aching and struggling so much lately, and these past couple of days have been so discouraging to me and my heart! I have been praying fervently for help. I just have not seemed to be able to find peace. I know that I came pretty close to it before, but I just couldn't find it again. My heart was sad and I found myself becoming more and more grumpy and frustrated. Amazingly, peace eluded me all the more.

Today as I have plead for peace and for help, I knew I should truly have been praying for a change of heart. I just could not. I just want things to be different! I have been feeling such anxiety, and it began to engulf me this afternoon. I went to my Father in desperation with a plea for help. I read my scriptures, hoping for peace. I did find great peace in the scriptures, and once my heart was a bit more softened by them, I could hear the gentle prompting to read my journal.

As I went to it and began to read, I was amazed to read my words, describing how I was feeling right now! I had felt this way before. Many times. But there, in my journal, was an entry I had nearly forgotten, written the day of General Conference. I had prayed fervently then, too, for answers, for help, for peace, for guidance. And it had come. My heart had been a bit softer and more willing then, and peace had come more readily. The answer that I so dearly sought today was in there. It was an answer I had forgotten...that in my own desperation, I had nearly erased from my heart. I am so grateful that I wrote what I was prompted to write, months ago, so that that sometime down the road, I could save my own "perishing soul."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

New delight

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
Who violently sweep your house
Empty of its furniture,
Still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
For some new delight.

-Rumi

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A peaceful day

Things have been so stressful for our family lately. Yesterday we decided that we needed a day away from it all, just for a little while. We went to the zoo as a family and had a wonderful time together. I have found no greater joy than in the moments we share in happiness in our family. I think one of my favorite things to see at the zoo is actually the other families! I feel such hope when I see families happy and enjoying being together.

The flowers are always so lovely this time of year!

We went into the butterfly house, and that was magical.










I love Matt so very much! He makes every single day, and every single thing, wonderful. :)



Teeth, anyone?



I love these girls. :)



I feel that my husband and children are the five most perfect and choice people ever created. I am so honored to have them all in my family! :)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

World Peace

The girls and I have been having many many discussions about strangers lately. It is sad to have to, but it is crucial. The sad thing about it is that my girls are so loving and friendly and love to say hello to people in the store. I don't mind if they say hello when they're right next to me, but they want to run down the aisle to say hello. So our "stranger danger" talks have begun in more earnest.

The girls haven't been phased enough by hearing that "some strangers are very bad." So I finally had to tell them that bad strangers could take them and hurt them very badly. That was a very sad and horrible thing for our 5-year-old to ponder on. She started to ask me questions about it.

"Mommy, why do some people want to hurt us?"

"Because they're bad."

"But why are they bad?"

"Some people just are."

"But why are they?"

So then we started to get more in-depth:

"Well, if people don't listen to the Spirit enough times when it tells them not to do something bad, eventually it won't be with them anymore. They won't be able to feel good, they'll just feel yucky all the time. All they'll be able to hear is satan instead, and you know that satan is bad and just wants to hurt people."

That finally made it clear for her. She chewed on that thought for a while. She came back a little later with a solution. She said it to me as though she couldn't believe that I, as a mommy, had not thought of this before and solved the world's problems!

"Mommy, bad people who listen to satan and hurt people need to get put in a big time out. Then they can say they're sorry and be all done!"

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pray for what you need

Tonight when I was putting the three older girls down, the 2-year-old had a hard time, as she always does since the baby came. She begged me to sleep with her, like she does every night. I discussed my little system I have with her to get her to at least try to go to sleep on her own like she used to. :) She wasn't having it. She started to cry a little bit, and I encouraged her to say her prayers. I told her that Heavenly Father can help us when we're having a hard time, and that He will give us what we need to be able to do what we have to do.

She stopped crying and folded her little arms and bowed her curly head. "Heavy Fahver, please my mommy sleep up here?"

Phone call

Today my 2-year-old was playing with an old baby monitor, pretending it was a telephone. I could see her chatting away, and saying nice things like, "How your day going?" and "I love you!" A few minutes later, she brought the phone over to me and said, "Mommy, the phone for you. It's Jesus."

I was touched and surprised. :) I wasn't quite sure what to say, and of course my mind deliberated about how to best teach a 2-year-old reverence for Christ in that moment and if I should really discuss the fact that we can't talk to Jesus on the telephone. I had a quiet impression not to say that. Instead, I put the baby monitor up to my ear and said, "Hello, Jesus. I love you! Thank you for loving us and for helping us all the time!"

My daughter was so happy, and took the "phone" back to the chair where she'd been playing. I watched her, and soon heard her say, "I love you Jesus. Thank you for helping me!"

It was a wonderful moment, and I am grateful for a daughter who has the faith of a child that the Savior is real and hears her, because He does.

As a side note, lest you think us surreal...ten minutes later she was talking to Santa Claus on the phone. :)

Not so good?

Today after my 5-year-old finished her handwriting practice, she asked me if she could turn her handwriting paper into a paper airplane. I said sure. She didn't quite know what to do, so she ran to ask her dad to help her. I stopped her, as Matt had just closed his eyes for a five minute nap after working really hard on a few things this morning. I told her that I would help her. :)

She studied me for a minute. I could see the wheels turning in her mind: "Does my mom really know how to make an airplane?" After a few moments, she agreed. As I started to fold, I could see her shifting her weight and breathing with uncertainty. I looked at her, and she seemed concerned. "Are you not making it right, mom?" she asked. I laughed and said I was sure it would be fine.

When I finished, I handed it to her, and she said, "Poor mom. Are you not so good at making airplanes?"

I tried not to laugh as I told her that I had done the best I could. :) She went to try to fly it and show her sisters, and what do you know? It actually flew! She got very excited and shouted to her sisters, in total amazement, "Hey guys!! Mom knows how to make airplanes!!"

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Woga



It's pretty cute...my daughter calls yoga "woga." :) I love yoga and the difference that it has helped me to make in my life. Of course I have lapses like all normal people, but I do try to do it every week day. I used to try to save my yoga time for when the girls were asleep at night or during naps, but then I decided that I wanted to make it a more "public" part of my life for them. I was only putting it off till nap time because then I could have a more centered practice without four girls literally hanging off of me like a jungle-gym. :) But I decided it was worth the swap to make it more public to them, because I want yoga to be a part of their lives, too.

I feel deeply about caring for our bodies. I feel that they are marvellous gifts and that we are truly responsible for taking good care of them. They house our spirits and are deeply connected to them. At one point, I was trying to do "yoga time" as a structured activity that included them...sometimes they liked it, but sometimes they didn't and would get frustrated as I would gently try to correct their little poses or tell them to keep going. One daughter began to push away and really didn't want to do it anymore.

I felt somewhat discouraged, because I knew how good it would be for her. In pondering about it, what came to me is that children, and all of us, really, learn best by example, not by being pushed to do something. So I changed the way I did yoga time. Now, I just put on some calming music and start to do yoga in the middle of the living room. I don't say anything, really, but a calm settles over the house, and often the girls are fascinated and quiet. I often comment to myself how much I like how this pose makes me feel good, or I try to remember to keep a pleasant smile on my face even when I'm trying to stand on my head. :) Usually, within a few minutes, the daughter that I was originally worried about will come and do yoga alongside me, trying to copy what I do. Often the other girls will join in, too, but even if they don't, they usually dance or twirl to the music. All of us end up using our bodies in good ways without me having to push at all. The key is that the example is established!

It makes me think about other aspects of parenting...of course there is a certain level of expectation that we should have for our children and what they should and should not be doing. But truly, our own examples are the loudest teacher! If we tell them to stop yelling at each other, but we yell at them, what are they learning? If we tell them to pray, but we do not pray, what do they think? They will be more likely to want to do it themselves if they see us doing it cheerfully. :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The hippos

Tonight my 2-year-old kept telling me something:

"I got the hippos."

The what? I couldn't figure out what hippos she was talking about. We lost our toy hippos from our little Noah's ark about a year ago, and couldn't think of any other possible hippos in our house. But she kept insisting that she had hippos. She'd leave and then come back and tell me again, rather insistently.

I was pretty baffled until a few minutes later when she came and said it again. "I got the hippos! [hiccup]"

I laughed pretty hard while I went to get her a drink of water to help with those hippos!! :)

Mother may I?

The other day, we were having one of those moments where I needed to find something to fill the time for a few minutes, so I started to try to teach the girls how to play "Mother May I?"

The older girls kind of got it, and the younger did not at all, and it was over in a few minutes anyway. But the lasting funny thing has been that since then, they keep calling me "mother may I," instead of mom! :)

They are just fascinated with turning pictures different colors, and today my oldest came up to me and said, "Mother may I, can we turn a picture blue?" So here it is. :)



Monday, July 21, 2008

Reflecting

I found a quiet moment to ponder today, which is a quiet miracle all its own.

My heart has ached lately. I haven't wanted to write about it. I have been barraged by thoughts that my pain was unwarranted, that I was being foolish about so many things. But I have ached inside. I have pondered and pondered about things and spent a great deal of time in prayer. No lasting peace was coming. I felt the Lord's love, His kindness...but true peace has eluded me.

As I prepared to go to the Temple last week, I found myself desperately praying for help, for answers, for peace. I love the Vernal Temple. I love them all, but this one holds such a place for me, largely because I was endowed and sealed there. But there is something else about it. In the celestial room, there is a picture of Christ, the largest I have ever seen. It is the most beautiful painting I have ever seen, and I have loved to look at it and ponder, time and again. As I pondered in the Temple last week, many things came to me, many too personal to share, but one thing came to me that I have pondered again and again.

This painting came to my mind:

This is my favorite painting of Christ, because it has taught me so much throughout my life. I love the compassion, the kindness, the light. I love His healing kindness. I do know that Christ can and will heal us. One of the things I have been praying for lately is His healing power in my heart and my life. But as I pondered last week, one aspect of this painting continually came to my remembrance:

This is probably not the part of this beautiful work that most people enjoy. There is something odd about this man, something terribly unsettling. His eyes are troublesome to me. I used to wonder why Bloch put him in there...he seemed to detract from the love of the Savior. I read a book some time ago by Lloyd Newell that discusses this painting, and though I don't have it right here in front of me to quote from, I do remember a part of this book that discussed the man in the red cap. One thing that I had read came back to me with a great deal of clarity. The thing that disturbs us so much about this man may be that he reminds us of part of ourselves. He is one of the few people in the painting who is actually noticing Christ. Most of them are going about their business, but this man does see that He is healing someone. Yet he holds back...his arms are around his wounded legs as though he is holding onto his pain, not willing to let it go yet, even though the great Healer is right next to him.

As I have pondered about my own heart and my own life of late, I realized something. It's something I have realized before in my life, but this time has been the most painful for me. I realized that I have been asking for peace and for help, but deep inside, I have been holding onto my pain, not ready to let it go, because it is pain for something so dear to me that I haven't let it go. In praying for peace, though I have never actually said it, I know that I have been secretly hoping that peace would come by the Lord telling me that He's proud I've suffered this far, and that now I won't have to go through that particular trial any more. I was hoping He'd give me my deep, righteous desire after a while, not asking me to truly go all the way through it and fully accept His will. I realized as I looked up at the painting of the Savior in the Temple, pleading for answers and for help, that I have been like the man in the red cap. I have been holding on to my pain and my desires, not willing to fully let them go, because they are too dear to me. But as I looked at the painting of Christ, I realized that I wanted nothing more than to be with Him, to be what He wants me to be, to truly let go of myself and to feel Him with me. I knew that I could not have that without letting go of my own will, every bit of it. I have been able to do that before, and it has been very hard. But nothing has ever been this painful for me before, so nothing has ever been so hard for me to let go of.

I am working very hard on it. I think that the biggest part is learning to have faith that if I do let go of this enormous part of myself, that He will be there to fill it in.

Like I said, I've had experiences like this before that I have wrestled with and finally been able to let go of dear dear parts of me and given them to Him, and I have always found greater peace and joy and progression. But this has been a larger pain and a larger challenge than I have ever faced, and it has been a very lonely one. So few people can truly understand the depth of what I am feeling, because it is something that doesn't affect many people in the way that it does me. So the pain has been even greater.

I find myself being grateful for the "preparatory pain" that has led up to this point in my life. It gives me something to remember, to reflect on. Most of all, to remember that each and every time I have trusted Christ, He has filled me with joy and blessed me in ways that I could never have known before. This time it is harder, because it is impossible for me to understand and fathom how it can be okay.

I needed to write it all down, I think, to clarify my thoughts. I do know that He will help me, as I strive to truly give up all of myself. I am trying desperately to do so, but one thing I have learned to try not to be so discouraged with is that progression is painful and takes time. I am trying, though. I do know that He has "inclined unto me, and heard my cry" (Ps. 40:1). I look forward to the time when I can give up my will enough that I can allow Him to "put a new song in my mouth!" (v. 3)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Remembering

I have really been struggling the past week. Today was the culminating grand pinnacle of it all, and I won't even go into it all, because though I'm sure it would be funny to laugh at later, I'm not laughing right now. :)

Today at church the girls were wiggly, as often happens with small children. During the Sacrament, two of my daughters were being a bit noisy. I was already almost in tears, not because of them, but because of the great heaviness I was feeling. I tried to quietly shush them, but it wasn't working. Before that, I had been silently praying for help with the heaviness I was feeling. I bent down near them and whispered, like I do every Sunday, "What should we be thinking about during the sacrament?"

Both girls started to beam and said, "Think about Jesus!"

"That's right," I said. "Does He love you?" They both nodded. I asked, "What has He done for you?"

Instantly they began listing off as many things as they could think of that they had been blessed with because of the Savior. "Our mommy, our daddy, our sisters, our home, our toys, our primary, our pretty dresses..." on and on.

Their joy at listing off their blessings lifted my heart and caused me to start to remember and list off in my own mind all that I have because of Christ. He suffered for me and He knows how to heal my heart. I felt instantly uplifted and much better. It really is true, that if we are feeling low, if we "count our blessings," we do feel immensely better and see everything in a better perspective. I am grateful for the innocent faith of my children that teaches me every day.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Too much salt

I am a sucker for salty crunchy snacks. :) I like them far too much. :) Doritos are my ultimate downfall.

So the other day, trying to satisfy my desire for salty crunch, but trying to be a little better, I bought a bag of Chex Mix for the drive home from Utah. As soon as I opened it and started to munch, much to my dismay, the chex mix was much saltier than any I had ever tasted! I let Matt try it and he instantly decided it was horrible. Somehow, the mixture was very wrong, and much too salty. You could hardly taste anything, it was so salty. It burned my tongue and my throat to eat it.

I was disappointed, because I had been excited for my crunchy snack. I closed the bag and put it back down by my feet. As the drive went on, I kept wanting a salty crunch, so I'd open the bag and try it again. After I did this several times, I noticed that my taste buds would get more and more numb, and that the salt was more bearable.

Matt, who was watching me, laughed and asked why I continued to eat it if it was so gross! I said, "I just keep hoping that it won't bother me so much the next time."

It really made me think. :) How often do I partake of something that isn't good for me, not only physically, but spiritually as well, hoping that eventually I will be numbed to it and it won't affect me as much? At times I think I get excited to watch a movie or read a book that won't be good for my spirits, but think that if I just keep nibbling at it, eventually it won't offend my spirit so much, just like I hoped the chex wouldn't offend my mouth as much! I need to be more careful. :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The loooong road home

Well, for those of you who may have missed my stories of my hilarious children this past week, I have been on vacation! We are now on our long drive home, trying to stay awake, and so I am trying out blogging on the road, hoping it will help. So far, so good.

We drove out to see my family this week. It was so nice to see everyone! I wish that we could have seen some of our other friends and family, too, but it was such a long and difficult drive, and there was such a short time for us to be there. If only traveling were a little easier!

The drive was so long and it felt like we would never make it! But sweet Matt helped make everything cheerful and pleasant for everyone, just like he always does. :)

The girls were definitely troopers. Here they are at a gas station at about 4:00 in the morning, raring to go!!

If only my parents would feed me...

It took a very long time to get there. Nebraska is one of my favorite states, but WOW. It's horrible to drive through. While driving through we got caught in a horrible storm and were reminded by that and some other sights of the awesome destructive power that nature can have. We were grateful to be safe.


Of course, there were about one million potty trips. :)

We finally arrived at my parent's at sunrise. It's been a long time since we've been in the desert!

We were very tired!! I like my punk-rocker hair in this one:


The girls were able to enjoy lots of fun things like love from aunts and uncles, tea parties with Grandma, and riding the tractor with Grandpa!


Here's Grandma trying to show them how fun and not scary the older tractor is:




One of the most special things we did was sealings for some of our ancestors. It was a wonderful thing to be in the Temple together with Matt and with my parents and siblings. It was especially neat to be there with my brother Joe, who just got home from his mission. It was very neat to be in the same room that Matt and I were sealed for time and all eternity in!

We also went to the Dinosaur museum together. It was a nice time. :) My girls were just fascinated with the dinosaurs!

My second daughter, as many of you know, has a very boisterous and fun spirit. I love these pictures. She looks like she is ready to take on the wooly mammoth!


Here she's showing us that this Brontosaurus isn't so big and tough.


The whole family together:

My girls:

My brothers: living proof that if you leave your face like that for too long, it will stick!

I had fun being with my sisters, especially late-night chats with my sister Chantile. She and I feel the same about healing the body through the mind and spirit, and it was so uplifting to visit with her so much! Here I am, lecturing her about something important, obviously (do I always look so stern??):


I'd say the absolute highlight of the trip, though, was the last morning we were there. We went to church and saw my sister Chantile and my brother John give talks. I was proud of both of them, but I have to say that seeing John get up there was amazing. I knew how difficult it was for my brother to do it, and the courage and determination that it took for him to prepare and present his talk. I was more proud of him than I could ever say. It was a blessing to be there with him. :)

After our visit, we went home by way of Denver. I love the mountains on the west side of Denver, and it was so fun to drive through them as a family!



The final destination before heading home was my home-town, Fort Morgan, CO. I hadn't seen it in nearly ten years, and it was interesting to see the changes. It is much different now. It's also amazing how everything seems just a little smaller... :)

There are some sights that never change, though!



This was finished at home, since the on-the-road blogging did not end up serving to keep us awake. :) We're glad to be safely home, and grateful for the nice trip!!