Tuesday, October 14, 2014

When Playing with your Kids feels like blah

When Playing with your kids Feels like Blah

                I am sure all of us mothers, or most of us, have the moments where we just don’t want to play with the kids.  We don’t want to do anymore trains, dolls, legos, barbies, blocks.  We know that doing these things can help grow our relationship and can help us to see the world from our kid’s perspective, but we’re just not feeling it!  Am I wrong?  Well, I had one of those days a few weeks back.  Things in the house were mostly caught up. It was a lazy morning with just Brooke and William.  They wanted me to play kitchen with them.  My first thought was, “blah”.  But then I decided to make a conscious effort.  I was going to play with them and I was going to like it, dang it!

                So, I played and while I played, I noticed all these super cute things about my kids.  Little characteristics and actions and sounds that I would have missed out on if I had been busy doing other “more important” things.

William “w sitting” and pushing his little fire truck he loves so much, saying “wee o, wee o” in his little boy voice that won’t always be a little boy voice.  His messy bed head, a dirty blond head, needing a hair cut.  His tan line on his chubby foot from his summer sandals.  His little shoulders hunched over his activity, so snuggly and juicy that I could just hug him forever.  His voice saying “stuck” and “oh” and discovering the world and the joy that can be found in a little truck.  The scratch on his face from a run in with Brooke during a tantrum and his cherubic chin and his elbow dimples and his chubby hands, such a symbol of his toddlerhood.  His belly button pokes out over the top of his diaper.  A clean diaper bum is something I will always miss seeing when the kids have grown.  Not the mess inside the diaper, but the diaper bum.

And Brooke, the leader of the pack for now, sitting in her pink underwears because she just doesn’t like to get dressed.  Her little girl chest that she calls, “peachies” because who doesn’t want to be a big girl when you are five years old!  Her glittery toenails peeking out underneath her crossed legs.  Then I notice that she and I are sitting the same way and I smile.  Her big old lips, don’t know where they come from, but she has them and they are talking to William, to me, to anyone who will listen.  The bruises on her legs from so much summer playing and adventures outside.  Her raven hair hanging down in her face, which she pushes back over and over again. I try to put a clip in her hair to keep it back and she replies, “I like it this way.” 

And this is what I discovered on the morning I didn’t feel like playing with toys.  I discovered that there really is beauty in the routine and in the simplicity of playing.  There is something to be said in closing out the world and noticing the details in your children.  The details that won’t be there forever, because they will eventually grow.  And the dimpled elbows and the pouty lips and the diaper bums will be exchanged for other things.  And I will be so grateful that I paused and played and wrote this down.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Family is an Anchor

                As children, my parents created an anchor for me.  It was a safe place, not perfect, but safe.  A place where you are accepted and where family becomes friends.  Where traditions are made and secrets are shared and memories are relived one after the other.  About 2 ½ years ago, our little family moved far away from any immediate family.  Far away meaning 18-24 hours.  It’s not a jaunt down the road or a day trip. It is serious planning.  It is organizing for weeks and packing for days.  It is work.  It means that the family anchor from my childhood isn’t within arm’s reach.  When the kids are acting insane on Sundays, we can’t just run over to my parents for a change of scenery.  When new babies are born or weddings occur or missionaries go away, we can’t always make it.  We wish we could, but we can’t. 

                In all this thought about anchors and family stability, I came across some realizations that have strengthened me body and soul.  While we might not have our family anchors, we have created a family anchor.  Meaning one that is stable.  One where safety and love and (moments of) peace abide.  Where there is laughter and tears and fights and hugs.  Where there are activities and work and scripture reading and testimony sharing.  Where there is laundry and bike riding and baking and snuggling.  Where words can hurt and words can help and words can inspire. 

                A few weeks ago, our church had a conference by leaders within our church.  There are inspirational talks and ideas on personal development and altogether uplifting topics. It happens twice a year and is almost a “Mormon holiday”.  There are activities and food and family get togethers.  Our first conference away from family was 2 ½ years ago, a few weeks after we had moved to Iowa and had our Iowa baby, William.  It was a bit sad.  It was lonely.  We didn’t know anybody really and had to come up with our own traditions.  It was hard and it felt forced.  Fast forward to two weeks ago when the conference occurred.  I didn’t feel an itch of homesickness.  I didn’t feel that twinge for what everyone out West was doing or how much we were missing out on.  Don’t get me wrong, we love those people with all our hearts, but we had finally found our place.   We had finally created our family anchor.  We had snacks and activities and fun.  We went on a family walk in the brisk fall weather.  We took a nap.  We had a wonderful time. 

                It made me think of one day when our kids have grown and moved away and on (selfishly, I hope they don’t move too far!)  Will they long for our family anchor or will they be busy making their own.  Will they borrow ideas from our traditions and their friend’s traditions and their in law’s traditions and make a family anchor so intertwined that they won’t be able to tell which piece is which?  My hope is that they make their own.  That if they move to a far off land of Texas or New York or Europe, that they have the realization that them creating their family doesn’t change our family.  That one generation creates the next.  That family is forever.  That the intertwining vines on our family trees create a beautiful anchor and a safe harbor.
Found this picture HERE

Sunday, September 28, 2014

3 ways to help your children champion each other

We have moved twice in the last two years.  One move was four states away and the other was 2 1/2 hours away.  They were both trying and frustrating at times, but have leant themselves to wonderful growth within our family.  First, I want to say that yes, our kids have fights and arguments and sometimes straight out brawls!  But they are also each other's best friends and greatest supporters.  We have tried to influence them to understand their role in the family and their role to uplift each other.  The Proclamation to the Family states: Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.  I wanted to focus on the respect, love and work aspect of that statement.

1)  We encourage our children to pray for each other.  Whenever one is having a bad day or has a test or another event that they are nervous about, we share the news with the other children so that they can pray for each other.  We have family prayer in the morning and at night and there have been times when the kids have said "I am grateful for Spencer."  or "Please help Brooke that she can do well in preschool."  It is so rewarding and the best feeling is the happy hugs that follow the prayers when they have prayed for each other. 


2)  Teach your children to work together.  There have been times when the kids are fighting non-stop while they work together.  But on many occasions, they work together and help each other.  They divide up the work and even if it takes a little longer because they are playing or have invented some game, they are still working together.  They have even volunteered to help each other with their chores and say they are doing service.  They have worked as a team and feel pride in completing a task.  We just returned from a three day drive out West. It was just me and the kids and when things started to get rough, I would encourage them to help each other.  "Grab her suitcase" or "pick up his pillow pet." Or "pass this back."  Doing service for each other is a great method to help with sibling fighting.

3) Help them to teach by example.  My five year old daughter Brooke does NOT like having her hair done.  Period.  However, the other day, Hailey, my nine year old did her hair and then did Brooke's hair.  Brooke was so excited to feel extra special that Hailey took the time with her and she wanted to leave her hair in because she wanted Hailey to be proud of her.  I have praised my children for their work only to find that it encourages the others to get theirs done as well.  The example of a sibling is one of the most powerful influences. 


We do have our ups and downs in our family but I know my kids are each other's best friends.  Come what may, another move or changes in life, we have helped them to build a foundation of friendship that I hope will last into adulthood.  When we encourage our kids to love and share and take care of each other, we have a spirit of peace in our home.  Children are born with a God given ability to love and to serve.  They might need encouragement at times, but the desire is there and when we help them to reach their potential, they come closer to Jesus Christ.

My name is Heather Bell and I write about anything that inspires me on my blog bellesbazzar-heather.BlogSpot.com.  Our family made the move to Iowa from Las Vegas 2 1/2 years ago and have grown along the way.  I love reading, writing, baking, exercise, nature and sunlight.  I don't have any goals to write a book someday but hope to be a lifelong writer of whatever comes to me.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

I have posted over at this wonderful blog, We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ, about how to get your kids to champion each other and become friends.  Jocelyn's blog is about strengthening families and influencing the world for good.  I have followed for a few years now and have gotten many good ideas from good family activities to gospel ideas to remembering my role as a mother.  I feel like we are friends and I am sure you will enjoy her as well. 
Here is the first bit of the piece and feel free to click over for the rest:
We have moved twice in the last two years.  One move was four states away and the other was 2 1/2 hours away.  They were both trying and frustrating at times, but have leant themselves to wonderful growth within our family.  First, I want to say that yes, our kids have fights and arguments and sometimes straight out brawls!  But they are also each other's best friends and greatest supporters.  We have tried to influence them to understand their role in the family and their role to uplift each other.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Encouraging the positive in a Strong Willed child

Brooke is my wild child.  She is my wild card and bag of surprises.  I don't know what to do with her half the time and it scares me.  She isn't like me and she isn't like Blake.  She is a cherubic faced, ball of energy and sprinkle of freckles across the nose.  She is wild haired and will only wear a barrette in her hair if she gest rewarded.  But for all of her wild and crazy antics, I try to find her positive attributes, which are so many.  She loves hard and she hits hard.  She fights hard and she hugs hard.

For every time she tells a lie or a "story" as we are calling them "stories", I think

She is one of the best sharers I know.  She gives her last bite of cookie, her favorite toy, her pillow, her toy, her book without a problem.  And she never talks about it again.  She never says "I gave you that, so give me this."  She gives without restraint and without expectation.

For every time she hits someone so hard that they cry, I think

She is one of the best huggers I know.  She will hug you till your head pops off.  She hugs with all the gusto she has in her.

For every time she has a giant tantrum that reverberates the walls of the house, I think

She is a brave soul.  She will do scary things first.  She will ride her bike without holding the handles.  She will hang upside down from monkey bars.  She will even try new foods without dying about them.

For every time she is so stubborn I could just scream, I think

She has the biggest heart of anyone I know.  She is friendly to everyone.  She makes friends easily.  She is loyal to a fault, a wonderful fault.  She says the sweetest prayers of love for her family members and truly means them.  She says the kindest words that stick with you, like calling William "my sweet baby boy" and Spencer "my wonderful son".  Calling me "my sweet mother" and Hailey "my beautiful Hailey" and Blake "my funny dad". 

I always tell her she will make a wonderful nurse and an even more wonderful mother because she is truly a kind and good person.  She loves the body, she loves "bled" as she calls blood and taking care of people.  So, when she is in one of her moods, I try so hard to remember her good qualities and remind her of her good qualities.  I want her to focus on the good things about her while we work on the faults she needs to overcome.  She is a strong willed soul who will do great things in life.  We just need to channel the energy.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

I have never felt Useless

As a mother, I have never felt useless. I have never felt unneeded or unnecessary or undesired.  I have felt the complete opposite of that feeling. I have felt




But never useless.

I have felt




But I have never felt useless.

I have felt

A million questions

Four voices at once

Four needs at once

But never useless.

I have felt



A love greater than any other feeling

But I have never felt useless.

I have felt

Little hands, older hands and baby hands

Grubby fingers, soft and clean hair and sweet smelling skin

A great joy and a great sacrifice

But never useless.

And I wonder:

Will I feel useless someday? 

Will I long for my baby’s first days or will I be eager for grandbabies?

Will I need to have neighborhood children come over to feel the void?

Will I need to live close to my grandkids to

Snuggle them

To love them

To bake cookies with them?

Will I ever feel useless?

I know I don’t ever want to feel useless. 

I love being needed.

I love that this family seemingly can’t live without me.

I love the pile on mommy moments

The tickle fights

The chasing

The cheering

The sounds of laughter

I didn’t use to enjoy being needed

At times I am still frustrated with the strain on mommy life.

But I would never trade it.

I would never trade this full life for one where I am

My family down by the Cedar river.  One of my favorite pictures ever!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Change: take 2

I wrote my original five minute prompt on change, which I liked, then I saw a picture. One solitary picture that placed words in my mind.  Words that must be written down while America's Test Kitchen plays in the background and my sweet baby big boy sleeping and my almost 5 year old in 2 days is out with dad and my 6 almost 7 year old is in first grade and my 9 1/2 year old is in fourth grade.  Change.  My life has changed. My life has given me some breathing room.  My daughter started preschool today, which she was so thrilled for and I (not so guiltily) was happy for her and a little sad for me, but mostly happy for her. Then I wondered, am I changing a bit because I am happy for her instead of sad for me?  I am happy because she is doing something new and exciting and big girl.  Because she is moving on to the next big step in life.  Because she is prepared for it. 
I used to be a cry my eyes out on the first day of school mom.  Feel guilty because my kids were in school when they should be with me every second.  Because I love having them with me even when they drive me batty.  Then my sister, Michelle, whose oldest son is turning 14, told me that she isn't sad when her kids move up (not too sad), but she is excited because all the kids are doing something new.  An exciting adventure, just for them!  Yes, she is sad, feeling  twinge of loneliness maybe as her sweet Nolan goes off to full day school.  But also a feeling of pride as she has prepared them so well to take on this big bad world. 
And I am thrilled to have an older sister who reminds me to not be a depressed mom, but to be happy for their new moments.  To embrace new things for myself.  That I have prepared my kids, as well.  That I have tried as hard as I can because I know that the few years at home with the kids do fly by.  But that as they fly, I am developing small grown ups.  I am developing little people who can add to society, can change lives and improve the world!  And in this process, my little ones are developing me.  They are changing me and encouraging me to be my best.  That change is part of life and we can embrace it or can let change ruin us.  I do have my moments of crying, wo is me, missing my kids, did I do enough feelings.  But overall, I am going to embrace change.
My four changing kids in the changing Iowa corn.  Yes, my 2 year old has goggles on.  My oldest boy hates hair cuts because the hair gets into his eyes, so I had the bright idea to put goggles on him. Problem solved.  Someday I will write how I came to this idea.


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