Friday, April 30, 2010

Novelty


Will the novelty ever wear off?
 
I hope not. :)
 

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Is there anything sweeter...


...than cool spring nights, looking up at the stars coming out?


Or allergen-laden blossoms?


Or playing at the park with your sisters on a breezy spring day?












Or being safely bundled under the blankets?



Don't think so. :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Yoga for Congo Women


For months, I know I've been mentioning a project that Matt and I have been working on.  I'm finally ready to announce it!  This project is dear to my heart, and it would mean a great deal to me if you would take a few moments to learn more about it, and to pass the word on to anyone who may be interested. 

It's so easy to feel discouraged, dark, and weighed down upon hearing the horrific stories of these women.  I think that is because of the feeling of helplessness we may have.  It is common to feel anger or despair at knowing the stories, as there is nothing that can be done about them.  My hope is to help as many people as possible move beyond that feeling of helplessness, and into empowerment, realizing that there is something that can be done to help. 

This September, we will be holding the first annual Yoga for Congo Women, to benefit Congolese women through Women for Women International's Congo Program.  This is a program I believe fervently in, and I truly believe it can and will save their lives, and the lives of their children.

If you're in Colorado, consider registering!  I'd love to see you there!  Please spread the word to anyone you think may be interested.  Donations are very welcome, and can be made here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dancing in the rain

This morning, was gray, quiet, and rainy.  Matt and I got up earlier to do yoga together.  It ended sooner than expected with us slow dancing together in the loft.  :)  The rain falling outside reminded me of the night we got engaged.  It was raining, and I remember lying on the grass together, looking up at the stars through the breaks in the clouds, talking about our future.

That future is one neither of us could have imagined, but which has included the high points, like dancing in the morning together, and the low points, like coming downstairs afterward to crying children and a massive mess that you wonder why you didn't clean up last night (oh yeah, you were exhausted...). 

A line from a song this morning keeps playing over and over in my mind.  Something about being so afraid to die that we never lived.  I'm not afraid of death at all, but maybe of the hard things.  There are those moments, when you're trying to listen to three very persistent girls at once, and you are potty training another that wants to do nothing but pee on the floor and cry, and a new baby is colicky and needs to be heard.  Those moments when there is so much mess from making a cake together, then eating it, the night before, that you can't imagine how you'll take care of everything and clean it up.  And when you wonder why bother cleaning it or potty training or even taking a shower, because it will all get messy again.  And then you become overwhelmed by schooling your children and all of the better things you want to do with them, but the mundane math problems take so much time.  Those moments, when you'd rather stay in the little hole, the little rut you are currently in. 

And the tears start and I close my eyes. 

Sigh.

But then, I remember dancing in the morning.  I remember lying on the grass in the rain.  And I open my eyes, and see a husband who is very late to work, but who is nevertheless holding a baby while pouring cereal for the girls, and I see my oldest sweeping up cake crumbs without being asked.  I sit down to breakfast and try to keep breathing, and then my three year old asks if I'll read to them. 

And somehow, seeing how others love me, even in my imperfections, and taking that one step to read, just one step, makes all the difference.  And we live again. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Actual size

Yesterday, I wanted to give the family a treat, so I bought some cones and ice cream.  I had seen that this little box held sixty cones, and wondered how they fit them all in there...what economy of packaging, I thought!

I didn't know you could buy such a tiny little ice cream cone.  These pictures from my phone don't do the tiny-ness justice.  I let the kids have two cones.  They were so excited...maybe I'll mini-size more often.


I shall not divulge how many cones I ate, however. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sunshine

(This picture cracks me up.)
Today has been full of unexpected sunshine. :)  Like this girl, who I found changing a diaper for me, so that I wouldn't have to.  What a sweetheart.

And like this little one, who is one month old today!  I cannot believe that.  Before I know it, she'll be digging up worms in the backyard and riding a bike. 


Like making volcanoes, just for fun.


Or like this woman, my friend Jen, who I have met only once in a delirious state after a run.  :)  I just have to say, she is a constant inspiration.  She is a bright, bold, courageous woman, who loves her family and loves other people.  She is an incredible mother, and an incredible activist.  She is in charge of the Run for Congo Women in Colorado...she cared so much about the cause that she started it without even being a runner!  Her efforts have changed and inspired my life immeasurably, and given me courage to pursue my own ideas, daunting as they may seem.  I also love her because I feel like she is one of the very few women who truly understands and feels the same weight that I feel about what is happening to women in the Congo.  So, was I ever surprised to be featured on her blog today, with a Sunshine award.
In return, I'll post links to some of the blogs that uplift and inspire me.  Though I'm not great at figuring it out, I love the benefits of technology.  Blogging and the internet can definitely fill the world with plenty of unpleasant things, but it can also be used to reach out, uplift, and inspire.  And I am grateful for those who do, because we moms need each other.  :)

The Sleepy Time Gal
The Evolving Homemaker
Rare Books and Fishing Tackle
The Pioneer Woman
A Thousand Sisters
Women for Women Get Involved Blog
Enjoying the Small Things
Savory Seasonings
The Malleable Maze
Oopsey Daisy
Four Little Women
Tipping Bucket

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What I've been carrying around...

There has been a lot on my mind lately. I have been working on a project of mine in every spare moment I have...i.e., when all 5 children are sleeping. Those moments are rare, so my work must occur at a rapid pace.  (Yes, I know I've been discussing said project here and there...I promise to actually talk about it soon.)

So I'm tired.  But adding to that tiredness is a monumental heartsickness that I grapple with almost constantly, and which I am constantly trying to figure out how to deal with.  There are so many things I care about, and things I am trying to do something about, and the gruesome injustices and fears of the world weigh on my mind. 

I go through such a flux of emotions.  I hold my dear, precious baby, and I feel such joy and such pain all at once.  I feel such gratitude, and such guilt.  It's hard to explain.  I ache for the women who suffer.  For the women who have such pain, all over the world, in all walks of life.  I have so much, and at times, it seems so unfair.  And no, I need no helpful comments telling me it's not my fault.  I know that.  But I still ache. 

At times, I rise up on wings of gladness and hope, feeling like I can help.  Then self-doubt would have me crash.  The ebb and flow is constant some days, and it's exhausting.  Working on this project makes it come ever stronger, and more violently.  I constantly fight the "Who do you think you are?" feelings.

Well, as Matt would remind me, I'm a woman, a daughter of God.  One who cares about other daughters, and who will try to help.

I saw this today, and it lifted me.  Women who carry such burdens, who can still laugh and find joy.  I found the burdens they carried to be so symbolic of their burdens in life.  If they can keep smiling and laughing, surely I can, too, as I try to help. 



And truly, this child is a gift, one of my greatest.  They all are.  How could I ever hold them and not be comforted?





Friday, April 9, 2010

All good things...







...must come to an end.


So long, old cast.
You've taught us a lot, but I don't think we'll miss you much.  :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lost and Found

Missing
One pregnant belly.
Makeup on my face.
Motivation of any kind to start doing yoga again.

Found:
One perfect, healthy, sweet baby.
One very sore and bruised belly from the shots.
One mind full of thoughts and concerns about the many things I care about and want to change.
That empty, lonely feeling inside that comes post-delivery when there is no more baby in there.
One body that seems not to trust me any more.
25 extra pounds. 

Oy.  That brings us back to the final "missing" item.

This has been a remarkable recovery time, for which I am so grateful.  Everything has been so blessed this time around, in spite of challenges.  Emotionally, I think I'm doing better than I ever have post-delivery, and I am so thankful for that. 

But alas.  My body and I are not getting along so well.  It seems my body, mind, and heart have all been going in different directions.

For three weeks now, we've been at odds with each other.

It all started that fateful Sunday afternoon three weeks ago.  I had been up most of the night with a sick two year old, and I was tired.  So when my contractions became harder and harder, my body cried out, but my mind said, "No, it's not really happening yet...you're too tired today.  Besides, you have no one to watch the other little ones today.  Wait a few days."  

And with that, though my heart knew that whatever would come would be alright somehow, my mind told my body to be quiet and forced it to lie down.  

For hours, my mind and my body fought, with my heart in between.  My body moaned, but my mind willed that the baby would not come yet, not until the time was better. 

Poor Matt pleaded.  My mind said no. (So stubborn, goodness sakes.)

My mind, for the love of my other children, and out of pure and complete exhaustion, just could not accept that the time had come.  (Not that I wasn't aching to have my baby.  I just didn't know what I would do with my girls, particularly my sick one, that day.)  Somehow, Matt got me to go, and found a kind friend to watch the girls for us, for which I am so thankful.  

The birth was a bit difficult, but we were so tremendously blessed and our little one arrived safely.  My heart and mind rejoiced.  

My body began its recovery, but it has struggled to realign itself with my heart and mind.  For someone like me, that has been a true challenge.  I have felt at odds with my body, and I have felt like we don't exactly trust each other right now.  For me, that has brought a sadness.

Hence the lack of motivation to step back into my yoga.  

Of necessity, in steps my bossy mind.  

Today, knowing full well that I just needed to take a step, my mind forced my body to at least try again.  I donned the Gaiam socks from Matt...I needed all the encouragement I could get.

Breath started to flow again, and after a few minutes, I tried my first post-pregnancy child's pose.  Sigh...the surrender.  I sank.  The comfort.  Dared I try downward dog?  Still a bit uncertain. Upward dog?  It's been so very long.  Oh, my back cried Hallelujah! And my mind started to flow once again with ideas of how to help and change and do the things I need to do in my life...the ideas that come when my whole self is in tune.

Can my body and I learn to trust each other again?  I think so.  It's harder when I'm self-conscious about my post-pregnancy body.  We've all felt that way, I know.  

But I think we'll get there.  I know we will.

So I think the point of this very long entry is this:  Sometimes, for whatever reason, we become disjunct, disconnected from a good and important part of ourselves or our lives, be it through mistakes, bad choices, or happenstance.  And there are things we know we need to do to make it right, to make ourselves whole again.  Those things will never be easy to do, but if we just take that first step, the next one will come, and the next, and peace and trust can reenter our lives.


PS - I caught the tail-end of a little smile that this sweet one gave her sister today. :)  Hope abounds.
PPS - To the dear friends who have called, I promise I'm not dead, and I promise to call back soon.  I have been napping and reading to little ones, and beyond that, just taking it a day at a time.  I love you. :)



Supermom?


Often, people like to make little comments to me when they see me with the girls. The other day, someone saw us all and said, "Wow! You're a Supermom!"

Supermom?

Well, I must admit, it was flattering, as I am used to usually hearing, or at least seeing, "Crazy mom" written all over their faces.  :)

But I must confess... I'm not a supermom.  I'm really, really, really far from it, I wanted to say.  I get grumpy sometimes.  I lose my temper sometimes.  I cry sometimes.  I get tired someti... all the time.  And my kids?  I think they're perfect, but truly, they're not...they're human, too.  Sometimes they get tired and grumpy, too.  Sometimes, they don't like to do schoolwork.  Sometimes they struggle, just as anyone else's kids do.

Example?  Here's a confession.  My two year old still really struggles with going to sleep.  Really struggles.  By now, all of my others could easily go to sleep fine on their own.  But this little one doesn't do it so well.  I have never been able to let them cry it out...I'm a big softy.  She and I have always had a very deep bond, from the moment she arrived.  It is harder for both of us, she and I, to separate.  So, Matt or I sit next to her.  Sometimes, it's not too long, but sometimes, it takes a very long time.

Now, personal judgments that any of you may have on the subject aside, let's all admit that this could be a challenge.  And tonight, as I sat next to that sweet, funny little girl, rocking a baby in my arms and listening to my other girls breathe, I felt like a very very un-super mom.  "We ought to be past this by now," I told myself.  I felt down about my parenting skills and began to think of all of the other un-super things I had done today.  I thought with envy of my beautiful friends, most of whom I consider "Supermoms," who tuck their little ones in and leave the room, with no peeps and no trouble.

But, as the evening ticked on and quiet settled on the house, that sweet two-year-old reached for my hand, and somehow, quiet settled on my mind, too.

I found myself being grateful for these moments, these quiet moments in the dark, just listening to my girls breathe.  I find that when I can stop beating myself up, these moments can be the calmest, sweetest moments of my day.  They give me a chance to feel nothing but love, calm, and quiet, if I let myself sit there in the right frame of mind.  They give me a chance to talk to my Father, to commit to do better, and to count my many, many blessings. 

So I may not ever be a Supermom.  But I wouldn't trade my life for anything. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Real life

This past weekend was so nice.  Easter was wonderful to enjoy as a family, and Conference was so uplifting and so filled with hope.  (In our religion, we have a General Conference twice a year, which nearly all members worldwide are able to listen to.  It is a chance to hear and learn from the leaders of the church, who we believe are modern-day Prophets and Apostles on the earth, just as Christ had in His church.) 




Today, "real life" starts back up.  At the end of Conference, or at the end of any wonderful event, I always feel so uplifted and full of joy in the possibilities of the future.  But then, inevitably, real life begins again, as it always must.  The brief reprieve is over, and the ride must continue. 
"As we listen to the messages in this Conference, we will be touched in our hearts, and make resolutions and commitments to do better.  But on Monday morning, we will return to work, school, neighborhoods, and a world that in many cases is in turmoil." - Elder Quentin L. Cook, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
I find myself struggling today, as I always do, to hold onto those commitments and changes in my heart.  Real life is so much less glamorous and so much more difficult than quiet, removed moments. 

But thank goodness for those quiet, removed moments.  They offer the opportunities for reflection that inspire us to change and to hope.

And I want to change, to be a better mother.  The world is in turmoil.  But if I keep trying to be better, my family and I can make it a better place.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Thoughts

As I stand here in the kitchen, preparing Easter dinner for my family, and reflecting on the remarkable and uplifting Conference we've been able to watch this weekend, my thoughts are humbled.  I am amazed, constantly, at the complete love of Christ, our Savior.

I want to take a moment to say that I know that He is the Son of God.  I know He was sent to show us the way, and to make it possible for us to return to live again with our Father.  I know that it is because of Him that I have my life, and I know that He has suffered everything, so that I can be forgiven, and so that I can be comforted.  I know that because of Him, our family can be together forever.

I am forever grateful and full of love this Easter for Christ, my Savior.  I know that all of our lives are fragile, precious, and a miracle.  I want mine to be full of service to Him, who gave everything to me.

Have a wonderful Easter, and know you are loved.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010