30 June 2010

When I Listen

Today I had a card project I wanted to finish. Making cards is a great love of mine. I enjoy the process, the diversity, the discovery, the methods...I just love to escape into a project. In real life, however, I can't always escape. Today I had two babysitting kids, five of my own at home, and somebody, something, always seems to need me. I was still determined to finish this card. At one point in my day, two kids were at sports practices, another was busy in her summer major (more on that in another post...), the little kids were busy with building Lego creations and I thought I might could slip into my cards...

The only one who was not engrossed in something was Josephine. Joey is five. She is just adorable, and I'm not just saying that 'cause I'm her Mom; she has huge brown eyes and luscious curly hair and a demure way about her. She's our dancer and our Mom-wanna-be. Another quality of Josephine's - persistence. Wow. Seriously to the point of nagging and whining.

So while I wanted to work on my card project, Joey wanted me to play with her. I told her to go play in her room, I told her to join in with the little kids, I told her to jump on the trampoline, brush her hair, watch a movie, color a picture, play on my iPhone, sweep the floor - ANYTHING! To every suggestion of mine, hers was the same, No, Mom; come play. Josephine, I said, just let me get this done.

I went back into card-land and Josephine persisted. Play, Mom. No, Jo. Okay, she said. I want to make a card.

Now let me just say that the kids are NOT supposed to touch my stuff. My toys. And I get very nervous when little kids come close enough to touch. I'm not really proud of how possessive I am, but, these are my toys, and the ladies and Jay have heard from the very first: don't touch Mom's toys.

I relented. I gave Joey some scraps from my project, a punch and some stamps. I kept a close eye on her. In no time, she had arranged a nice pattern, tacked it all down and added some sparkle. Next she was asking me for spellings because she was writing inside her card. She had made a thank you card for her friend who had taken her swimming last week. What a sweet little lady.

I was trying to get rid of her, and she was a natural at making a card. I'm such a better Mom when I listen.

22 June 2010

Nervous to Confident

Charlotte had her first swim meet this week. The night before, she bumped heads with her sister. In a house with seven people, bumping heads is NOT uncommon. I would say it's a daily happening. Charlotte saw this opportunity, though, and seized it. She cried, I can't go to my meet tomorrow. I hit my head. I might be bleeding inside. After many assurances and some tylenol, she fell asleep certain that in the morning she would not be bothered by a swim meet.

Since she needed to be in the pool at 7:15 am, I got her up early. I was pretty excited. Come on, Charlie, get your competition suit on and come get some breakfast; today is your first meet! Charlotte was not so excited. She said, No, Mom. Remember I bumped heads?

After my arguments about how proud she would be, how she has to face feelings of anxiety and fear, how swimming is her thing and here's her chance to win a ribbon, how she needs to listen to coaches, her parents & herself, how she gets to wear her cool team swimsuit, how she should just get the first one over with and the rest will be gravy, STILL, no dice. Charlotte was steadfast. She cried, she refused, she argued.

Enter Dad. (As a side note, let me remind you that James just had back surgery. He's been walking, but, only has left the house once in a month.) In his stern and authoritative Dad-voice he says, Charlotte, I'm going to watch you swim. Now you have five minutes to get your suit on and get in the van. Go.
Charlotte is in the van. She even thought to grab a towel and her cap and goggles.
Once we arrive, it's chaos. Swimmers everywhere. (There were three teams competing.) Loud noises. Coaches shouting. People setting chairs in odd places. Splashing and cheering. Charlotte lights up. She knows just where to go. She knows what to do. She tells me, set your chairs over there and I'm going to swim a few warm up laps. My coach is over there, by the green tables; those are for our team. Then, into the pool she jumps and I do as I'm told. I find her coach, check her in, and sit with James, who is now the parent/coach, giving last minute pointers to Charlotte as she warms up. No more tears, no more worries. And her bumped head is all better.

Charlotte swam two events in the category of 7/8 year old girls - the 25 yard freestyle and the 25 yard backstroke. In a field of ten girls, Charlotte finished fourth in freestyle and first in backstroke! So proud of you Charlotte!

I learned a lot in this meet. First, I learned how a swim meet works. But more importantly, I learned a lesson again that I learned first with Rachel then with Samantha, and that is that you must know your children. You must, as a parent, know when to push, when to admonish, when to relent and when to just listen. Each child of ours is different in so many ways. What motivates and inspires Rachel may not work for Charlotte. I can only listen to my child, my husband and my promptings to know what to do. I must do my part and let Charlotte do hers. She did it so well. She's already telling everyone that next week she's going to get more ribbons! And I bet she will!

20 June 2010

Cub Scout Day Camp

As part of my calling at church, I attended Cub Scout Day Camp. For four LONG, HOT days, I followed around my den of seven boys, all Wolves (which in Cub Scouts means that they are about seven years old, second or third grade). We had six stations everyday, each lasting an hour, plus time for lunch and flag ceremonies. I was unsure of what to expect, since I have never been involved in scouting before. I have to admit it was partly fun. Mainly hot and exhausting, but fun. The boys were able to learn archery, shoot BB guns, make birdhouses and kites and play games in an obstacle course. Even with highs in the mid nineties and heavy humidity, the boys thought it was all great fun. They ran everywhere. They played kickball, volleyball, ran relays, learned about tools, looked through three different telescopes, and studied color. It was a jam packed four days. We even had the local fire department out one day to mercifully spray the boys down with the fire hose!Note: the picture above is of the scouts from our ward who attended Cub Scout Day Camp. The picture below is of my den - with our Den Yell - We're In Heaven.
Wilson, Landan, Izac, Andrew, Kyle, Carson and Garrett

18 June 2010

Josephine Swims

Josephine had a great summer kick off: swimming lessons. For two weeks, three days a week, for an hour at a time, she shared a pool with five other kiddos and learned swimming skills. A sister in our ward, certified and trained to teach swimming to kids, gave her time and talents so our kids could gain skills, confidence and a love of the water. Thank you Dawn, for sharing. Josephine loved it.

Her major milestone by the end of the lessons: jumping from the diving board and swimming to the ladder! Fantastic, Joey! She can also now sit on the bottom of the pool (in about three feet of water), retrieve dive sticks and swim underwater. We will be at the pool as much as we can this summer, letting her perfect her latest skills!

I had to include the following picture. The little boy in this picture is NOT our daughter, Josephine, BUT, I include this photo of "J" because Josephine did jump from the diving board to Dawn and swim to the side, I just didn't get the picture. So, imagine a cute five year old in pigtails and a pink suit where you see a sweet blonde boy in his trunks!
As a side note in all of this is that another sister in our ward provided the pool for the lessons. PLUS: Her family has generously posted pool hours, so that we can come over during those hours and swim. No need to call, no need to ask. Just use the pool and enjoy. And did I mention she lives down the street from us? Yeah. We will be at the pool this summer. Wow!

09 June 2010


The other day a friend was over playing with the little ladies. We will call her Grace. She is a friend from school, who lives down the street with her parents. Even though she is used to her quiet life with no siblings, she blends well at our chaotic, often loud, house. This particular night, she was staying for supper. We all helped get supper on the table, we all sat down, we all waited and looked at James. All of us except Grace. Instead, Grace started eating. We corrected her, saying, wait, we have to say a prayer before we eat. She replied, "What's a prayer?"

I was taken aback. What an opportunity to teach. What an opportunity to learn. What an opportunity to grow.

James spoke first; "Prayer is our way of speaking to our Heavenly Father. We thank Him for our supper, our blessings, and our health. We ask Him to continue to bless us." Rachel added, "At the end you say Amen. That means you agree with what was said." Charlotte said, "You don't have to say anything during the prayer. Dad will pick one of us to say it."

And so he did. He picked me. As I said grace that night over supper, I spoke the words over our meal, but that night more than others in days past, I added requests for Grace, her family, her understanding, and her heart. I added gratitude for teaching moments, testimonies and family bonds.

I cannot imagine eating a meal without first saying thank you. My parents taught me that fundamental value. I teach my children. I am grateful for the opportunity to teach their friends as well.

07 June 2010

The Old Mill

Warning: Lots of {great} pictures.
If I do say so myself....

Over Memorial Day we had no big plans. We headed to the Old Mill, a park about forty minutes away. It's part historical marker, part playground, part botanical garden. Professional photographers use the lovely backdrops for their clients. The whole structure is a life size replica of a working mill, but, it's made entirely of stone. The mill itself, the bridges, the walks and even a few trees, stumps and branches are all made of stone. All of the stone is carved and shaped to appear like wood. The day we visited we saw a beautiful bride posing for her portraits and a party of about twelve all dressed alike, celebrating a quincenero. So, I had to take some pictures of my beauties, too:

06 June 2010

Josephine Ball Skills

Josephine ended her first ever soccer season with a party and a trophy. The trophy is the important word in that sentence. She was ecstatic. Over-the-moon excited to get a trophy. Giddy, even. The coach was sweet about the whole event and gave each soccer star his/her own certificate, too. Josephine was Ball Skills. Cute, huh? I asked Josephine if you wanted to play again in the fall, and she replied, No, Mom. I already have a trophy.

Josephine the Star, June 2010, five years old

05 June 2010


I have been away from the blog for a while, and ironically, that means plenty is going on to include here. James had surgery last month for his back injury. He has been hurting for quite some time, and this surgery is a result of three different doctors trying all their means to help him. After months of physical therapy, injections and nursing it, surgery was his last resort. We are all happy to report that his pains are much improved. He will NOT be on the basketball court again, but, he will be back to his "normal" life soon. James would not let me post pictures of him in the hospital or physical therapy; I only get the "before" shot of the day of surgery (after his "anxious meds" had started flowing...):His vertebrae (three of them) are now fused and he has pins and rods in his spine. He is walking every day, getting stronger and stronger. His hips are still hurting, and he will not be giving any more piggy back rides, but, James is healing.

The kids have learned to be more gentle around their once rough housing Dad, and Charlotte (first grade) wrote this sweet note as a journal entry in school:It reads: To Daddy From Charlotte I'm so sorry that your back is hurt and I'm trying to be careful. Love, Charlotte. (I corrected her spelling, but, dang hers is so cute!) Charlotte explained her picture to me: James on our red couch, with his black stool and a red glass with ice. The flower looking shape is our ceiling fan and the girl with the curls and purple shirt with a heart is Charlotte dancing for Dad. I just love the way she spelled careful.