Friday, December 19, 2014

Lights


                This has been a week.  A long and hard week as a 2 year old boy in our church passed away.  We were at his family’s house cleaning and helping out, when I looked out the window and noticed a man from church on the roof.  He was putting up Christmas lights on their house.  It touched my heart as I watched him.  It was freezing outside, probably ten degrees and he was out there willingly serving so the family could come home to some lights on their house.  After losing a light in their family so unexpectedly at this time of year that is supposed to be a time of cheer, lightheartedness and fun, they would be coming home to a bit of darkness.  But I wanted to think as they got home to their home, their sanctuary, their safe place, they would see the lights and be reminded of the light of Christ.  The baby who was born into this world to bring light.  A light that would never be dimmed or faded with the passage of time. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dear (five minute prompt)


Dear

When Blake and I first started dating, he called me “dear”.  It was almost a deal breaker because what 21 year old calls his girlfriend “dear”?  I always that was an old person term of endearment.  Each time he called me “dear”, I would inwardly cringe.  Finally, I got up the gumption to tell him that “dear” couldn’t be our word because it was old.  He was just find with it and we started calling each other “honey” instead.  (This is much before the new term “babe” had entered the endearment category.)  We have continued to call each other “honey” throughout the last 12.5 years of marriage.  I love the sweetness of that name.  It is just fun and light and sweet.  I would never want to switch, just like I would never want to switch him.  We are going to be marking our 13th first date anniversary January 30th.  Can’t believe it has been that long since we met and just fell in love at first sight pretty much.  It was so easy to skip the whole friend thing and go right to the dating/fiancĂ©e/marriage thing.  It was second nature.  We were married after knowing each other for six months.  Marrying Blake was the easiest thing I have ever done.  When you know, you know.  And I am so happy I knew.
Me and my love
 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Why we celebrate Jesus 2,014 years later


                I was teaching a song to a group of 30 children in church the other day when I had a thought.  A thought that I hoped would gather their attention and their thoughts on the importance of the birth of Jesus Christ.  I asked them how many years ago Jesus was born.  They told me “2,000 years!” excitedly.  Then I asked them if other people were born 2,000 years ago.  They said “Yes”.  Then I asked them why we don’t celebrate all those birthdays.  And I got some interesting responses.  “Because Jesus is so important.”  “Because he died for us.”  “Because he loves us.”  My last question to the kids was, ”Will we celebrate Him in 2,000 years, 4,000 years, forever.”  And they said we would. That we would truly celebrate Him forever.   It was a sweet experience.  Even now, it has me thinking of the greatest birthday party we hold every year.  In honor of a sweet baby, born in a stable.

                I know there are a lot of doubters out there.  People who don’t believe in God or Jesus or creation.  But I don’t have any doubt that there was a baby born.  A baby who would grow to be a child to a teenager to an adult.  That this person would be Jesus.  That he would live a life worthy of emulation.  The only life worthy of complete emulation.  That He would perform miracles, die for us, live for us, and provide teachings for us to live a perfect life or as perfect as we try. That he would stir up the world in such a way that 2,014 years later, there would still be controversy.  There would still be a great desire for people to find Jesus Christ and to make a spot for Him in their lives. 

                This time of year is sweet.  A sweet reminder of love.  Of the pure love of Christ, the One who would change lives and soften hearts.  Why do people feel so happy this time of year? Why do we reach out to others, donate money, donate time and feel the happiness we do?  It is because of Jesus Christ.  Because when we give, we are able to feel the joy of the One who has given us everything. He has given us a chance to change, to improve and to feel a perfect love from One who sacrificed His whole life for us.  And willingly.  My goal this year and every year is to make every day like Christmas. I know that's cheesy.  But I also know that every day we serve others brings us closer to Jesus Christ.  And that is one of the greatest gifts that we can receive.
 
 
               

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Turn (5 minute prompt)

I bought a picture this summer of a women looking off to the side, while Jesus is looking right at her. He is right beside her, but she doesn't see Him because she is looking away.  It seemed like a sad picture at first, because how many times do we do this?  Turn away when we should be turning toward Him! The one who can and does make all things better.  The one who helps without prejudice or repayment. 
As I looked at that painting, it reminded me of, well, me.  It reminded me of all the times I am trying so hard to do better or help the family better or be a better wife and mother and I look inwards.  Instead I should be looking to Him, the one who can truly make me better. The one who knows me so perfectly that He can improve me with just a mere question from me.  If I just turn my focus to Him, I will have peace. 
Sure, my questions might not be all answered. My situation might not improve.  My life won't become perfect.  But in looking to Him, I will find hope and happiness and an understanding.  An understanding of who I am and why I am here and what my purpose is.  I will be filled with peace.  And all I have to do is turn.
This isn't the picture I was talking about, but it is the way I want to be.  You can find more about what I believe here.

Blake, my hero


            I have been gone since last Thursday.  It is currently Wednesday.  I was supposed to be home last night, but ice and snow in Denver is delaying flights and I keep getting texts, “Your flight will leave at 130”, “Your flight will leave at 530.” They might as well say, “Your flight will leave never!”  But in the course of this craziness, I have had the chance to fall in love with my husband all over again from approximately 1,200sh miles away. 

            He has stayed with the kids on his own the whole time.  In the course of my time away, we have had three with the flu (one of them, Blake) and two with colds.  He has taken them on outings, to school, picked them up from school, went grocery shopping, did laundry, cleaned, did dishes, and even took all four kids to Hailey’s cheer practice, which starts at 7.  I mean, those days make me crazy!  But he has done all this with grace and with patience.  He has put me to shame almost!  I am thinking he is making my job look a little too easy!

            Blake has always been a great dad.  Fun and structured and nurturing. I used to joke with him about how he should be the stay at home mom and I should work, because he knows how to do it so much better!  So, in the midst of all this craziness, I called to let him know that I “might” come home today depending on flights.  Instead of freaking out, he just laughs and says, “That’s fine. I wasn’t feeling to well today anyway.”  What a guy!  He has shown stability and awesomeness throughout all of this uncertainty. 

            I have always wanted to be a bit calmer and relaxed.  I think that is why he and I make such a good match.  He knows when it’s time to chill out and take a break.  He knows it’s fine to have a movie day. He knows that every day doesn’t have to be productive to the last second.  He doesn’t sweat the small stuff with the kids.  He is a daily reminder to me to slow down and enjoy these moments.  I wanted to write this all down so I wouldn’t forget.

            And isn’t that why we write?  To have a chance to look back on old feelings and memories that have faded a bit with time.  To relive these precious moments that we might not ever have the chance again.  So, the next time I am feeling overwhelmed or stressed or annoyed, I can take a look at my husband as a parent and take on some of his characteristics instead of becoming more rigid.  And I will remember how much he sacrificed this week so that I could have a little break and hold some sweet fresh babies.  That he gave up a week of flex time to “relax” with the kids and take care of things at home.  So I will remember this all the time. 

            I love you, Blake!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Leave (5 minut post)

I am joining the five minute prompt group over at Kate Motaung's blog.  She took over from Lisa Jo Baker.  It is a great exercise and can really open your mind and clear your thoughts.  You don't have to link up if you don't want to, but they are all great starts.  I am always a bit surprised to where my writing goes!
Leave

Disclaimer: Blake and I are very happy together.  The “Don’t’ leave me” portion of this kind of just evolved into me needing him all the time.  Although I know that isn’t realistic, it would be super convenient and awesome!=)

“Don’t leave me.” I mumble to Blake in the early darkness of the morning.  He is headed off to work and I am lying warm as a caterpillar in its cocoon under my baby blue down comforter, king sized on a queen sized bed.  The only way to live.  I look to Blake as my steady rock.  My helper, my understander, my hugger, my everything.  Because he knows me so well. He gets my moods, my needs, my dreams and wishes.  And he accepts them. He doesn’t try to change them or tell me that I shouldn’t do that or that I won’t be able to do that.  No matter how far-fetched it might seem. Or no matter how many times I claim to have discovered a new way to help the kids listen or keep the house clean or to get rid of belly fat.  He just agrees that all my plans are awesome.  So, that is why I don’t want him to leave me.  Don’t go to work!  Be a self-made millionaire so we can travel to Spain with the kids, so we can visit Ireland’s rocky shores, so that we can lie on the beach in the Caribbean.  Don’t leave me, so that we can hang out on the couch all day watching food network or picking up the kids toys or rake leaves.  Don’t leave me so I have an excuse to go to breakfast every morning and lunch every afternoon.  Don’t leave me because you have great facts to share from NPR and Bloomberg Business and because most days, you are my news source! Don’t leave me because you remind me to sit down in the day, to snuggle the kids more, to get things done quickly so they don’t bother me the rest of the day.  Don’t leave me because after knowing you only five months, I married you.  And I know you will never leave me.

 
Blake on his last birthday eating red velvet cake. He said it's the best cake he's ever had.  See why I love this man!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Our Mini Miracle of Glasses

                Today we had a mini miracle.  A lesson learned that I won’t forget.  I hope the kids won’t forget either.
                We were raking leaves outside and the kids had gotten a bit rambunctious.  Brooke threw leaves in Spencer’s face, so he took off his glasses.  Of course, he dropped them accidentally into a pile of leaves.  A mountain of thousands of leaves.  All colors, black, brown stems and a maze of a mess.  We searched and searched through the leaves and couldn’t find them anywhere.  I was telling myself to not get mad, because what does getting mad ever do?  It just brings up bad feelings and causes more anger.  So, we prayed that we would be able to find the glasses. 
                We raked all the leaves into a pile and carefully tried to put them into the leaf bags, while also watching out for the glasses.  It was tricky with three “helpful” kids.  They really were trying.  Especially when I reminded Brooke and Spencer that they would be paying for new glasses if we couldn’t find them.  We had bagged eight huge bags of leaves and still couldn’t find them.  I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to empty them all and not find them glasses, but they had to be somewhere!
                I told Spencer to go somewhere quiet and pray to find them and to listen afterwards to see if any ideas came to his head.  I wanted to give him the opportunity to understand prayer.  Brooke and I were still looking through the leaves and not finding anything.  We had been listening to music and I had the feeling to turn off the music and be still.  To not have any excess noise entering my head.  So, I turned off the music and I could hear the birds singing and the leaves blowing and it was so peaceful.  I had the feeling that we should look through the bags again.  But there were eight of them!  Brooke and I went over to the car to decide which one to go through first.  We said a prayer that we would be able to find the glasses.  After the prayer, Brooke pointed at a bag and said, “This one.”  What did we have to lose? 
                We grabbed the bag and started going through it, a little bit at a time.  Spencer came over and took Brooke’s spot in the search.  About halfway through the bag, there were the glasses!  I couldn’t believe it!  We had found them and on the first bag.  That was awesome, but it wasn’t the miracle.  This was the mini miracle.  Brooke said, “I heard a voice tell me ‘This is the bag’.”  And you know what, I believe her.  I believe that the Spirit told her where to look because she is innocent and will listen.  She will listen without question. 
                I know that Heavenly Father cared about our situation.  I know that glasses are important to him, because they are important to us.  Sure, we could have bought more glasses, but why buy more glasses, when Heavenly Father is there to help us.  When all He wants is for me to put my trust in Him, so that He can teach me and help me.  I am so grateful for this experience.  It gave me the chance to be patient. It gave Brooke the chance to feel the Holy Ghost.  It gave Spencer the chance to pray for something He needed help with.  It brought us together.  I won’t forget that on a beautiful Fall day, Heavenly Father sent us a little miracle through a little girl who was willing to listen.
 
Moments before the "incident".  See, I'm talking leaves!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Long (5 minute prompt)

Long

Days as a mom can be long.  They can be drawn out and dragged through and just plain long.  They are sometimes very repetitive and routine and the same.  But the moments in these long days are the best moments.  The snuggles and hugs and the puzzles and books.  The bike rides and baking and dish washing and bathroom scrubbing.  The laundry and coloring and shows and music.  Those are the moments that break up the long days. I can't count how many times I have been dragging through a day and the kids have come up with a fun imaginative game or asked me to read a book or started a dance party to "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and suddenly a long day has become a fun day.  And when I look back on the day, I don't think "Man, that was long."  I think, "That was pretty fun."  Yes, we had to work and do chores that nobody was interested in.  Yes, there were arguments and fighting and apologies.  Yes, there were ten towels used to mop up the bathroom after bath time.  But I don't think of those at the end of the day.  I am thinking of the good.  The good times that made a day less long and more adventure filled.  A day of memories and good.  And I wish that days wouldn't go by so fast. How can a long day feel so short by the time you get to the end of the day?  The long can be made fun. The long can be made creative and imaginative and adventurous.  The long can be the best days of your life.
 We went to Target one night and the kids tried on Halloween masks.  This definitely was the highlight of an otherwise "long" day.
 The girls and I being goofy on a day off of school.
Was about to lose my mind one day because the kids weren't listening and they ran inside to show me this late summer harvest from the garden.  That was a great moment.


Move (5 minute prompt)

Move on
Move on from relationships that aren't fulfilling, loving, helping.
Ones that don't make you feel better
Ones that make you feel like you are worse
sad
lonely
less than
afraid
grumpy

Move on from the toxicity of words said in
anger
jealousy
fear
meanness
bullying moments where someone finds you an easy target.

Move on without guilt because that relationship didn't do you any good
It didn't uplift or
inspire or
create togetherness
or even make you smile.

At the end you are exhausted, not because of
so much time well spent or
so much cleaning done together or
baking days or
lunch dates or
late night get togethers or
deep and involved chats.

But you are exhausted because you wonder if
they are really your friend
if they are taking advantage of you
if you are less than them
if you make less money
or are less cute
or less educated
or less children
or too many children
or all the other reasons that we invent sometimes to have a friendship that is much less than we want it to be.

Embrace Friendships that are well meaning
well seasoned
well cared for

Even if I have two friends who are my favorite and best friends of all time.

So be it.

I would rather have two friends who love me for me.
Bring me cookies when my kids are throwing up all night
Text me to check up on me.
Watch my kids at the last minute at my house because I had a miscarriage.
Bring food to my family after I have had a baby.
Clean my house secretly.
Go on walks with me just for fun.
Bring Dr Pepper (when I drank it) to my house in the woods
Let my kids come play.
Let their kids come play
And don't look at my house like my house, clean or dirty, is a reflection of me as a person.
So to all those friends, whether you are new or old, thank you.
Image taken from Here

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

Overwhelmed

Overloved

Overneeded

But never useless.

I have felt

Stifled

Squished

Smothered

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

Exhaustion

Frustration

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

Useless.
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.


Change (5 minute prompt)

Change

Change, what a word.  A word that my college roommates warned Blake I was afraid of. I still remember the conversation, "Heather doesn't like change."  What?!?  I like change, I love change!  I have moved 10 times in 12 years. I have had four kids in 7 years, one of which was born two weeks after a cross country move.  I have changed houses, jobs, diapers, clothes, ideas, opinions.  Just because I might have a favorite powder blue down quilt that I have a hard time transitioning from in the Summer.  Just because I like to eat at the same places.  Just because I like the same almost-worn-out-in-the-crotch capris.  Just because I like the same kind of make up.  Just because I like the same kinds of lotions. Just because I like the same Ghiradelli boxed brownies once a week. Just because I like chocolate ice cream with all kinds of extras in it.  Just because I like the same exercise routine to work off (some) of those delicious brownies and ice cream.  Just because I like to clean in a certain way or do laundry a certain way.  Just because I could watch Food Network every night.  Just because my little idiosyncrasies get the better of me and make me have a hard time with change or change of schedule.  Well, I think I can fairly say that I can manage big change, as long as my regular favorite activities are in tact.  And do you blame me?  There is a definite comfort in regular.

One of my regulars.  This was in Las Vegas after a gorgeous thunderstorm.  Gorgeous thunderstorms call for this type of regulars.


The Hardest Part of Moving...

We have moved 10 times in 12 years and two of the moves were within the last 2 years.  So, I have had some experience with moving and want to tell you the saddest part of moving.  You would think it would be leaving your house, starting over, missing the old places, but for me it was:
 
Not knowing anybody at the store. 
 
You know, when you have lived in a place for six years, going to the store is like a friend reunion.  There wasn't a time when I didn't run into a friend at the store and before you know it, we have been chatting too long and the kids have put extra cookies in the cart and are racing through aisles.  I even ran into two families I knew while I was at the store in Las Vegas, after not living there for two and a half years.  Well, when you are new to town, the grocery store visit is much quicker.  It's just the weirdest feeling to know you won't be running into anybody that you know.
 
The other day, the kids and I were at the grocery store and I looked over and saw a lady, Nancy, from church and I was so excited! It was so fun to walk by and tap her on the shoulder and say "Hi!" while she ordered from the deli.  We aren't best buds by any means, but we have chatted and know each other's families.  It was just comforting to know a person!  Then we headed out to the car and I hear, "How was your trip?" and it was another woman from church, Emily.  We talked for a minute, while she sat in her car, about summer trips and whatnot. 
 
As I got into the car, I started to feel at home in Iowa.  I loved, loved our first little town in Iowa, Leclaire, the sweetest river town.  I had no problem feeling at home there.  The move to our second town was fine, but it wasn't as quaint, as slow as I had gotten used to.  A pace that I really acclimated to.  But getting to know and love people in whichever place you live, will make the place feel like home.  Whether you have family there or not, whether you are single, married, empty nesters or a new mom.  Reaching out to others, making an effort and getting to know people will make any town home.
 

Sunset in our town in Iowa
PS. I just remembered that I ran into another lady, Camille, at the store a few months ago and I scared the chicken salad (Mo Willems reference) out of her.  That was pretty rewarding as well.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Begin (five minute prompt)


Begin

Where do I begin? I don’t even know where because I am writing this without thinking of anything at all to write! And now I just told my nine year old to not look over my shoulder when I write and she got ticked off and went to go sit alone.  Sigh, danged if I do, danged if I don’t.  Anyway, beginning is hard and easy.  I love beginning new things, new projects, new ideas, new school years, new relationships, new exercise routines, recipes, anything really!  I love beginning.  Ending is harder for me.  I have a hard time pushing through sometimes to the end.  Except in writing.  I never think of an ending in writing because I hope it will never end. I hope writing will never have an ending for me because I look forward to it.  I love the release and the feeling of creation.  I love the small response I get every once in awhile.  I love the feeling of something coming out on paper that I never even expected!  I just love writing.  I am so glad I began writing when I did.  That I was reinspired a few years ago and definitely shocked over where my writing had gone.  I was involved in research writing for college which I loved, but now my writing is completely different. Not worse or better, just different. I hope I will always be beginning at writing.  I hope I won’t ever be too prideful or vain or some other thing so that I won’t take advice or be willing to begin again.
This picture was taken somewhere in Iowa, I believe.  I loved that there was a definite beginning but no end.

Why I think moms should take their kids on a long trip alone


Why all mothers should travel alone with their children at least once….

 

I just got back from a month long trip with my children.  Blake was able to be with us for two weeks but then he had to get back to work.  So, I made the awesome choice to drive home alone with the kids.  It was a 1, 500 journey, 20 or so hours in the car and took four days of driving with fun stops in between.  What?  This doesn’t sound fun to you?  I’ll admit that a few days before the drive I was a little, ok, very nervous about how things were going to go.  My kids are aged 9, 6, 4, 2 and they are both best friends and worst enemies, as most siblings are.  They learned a lot about responsibility and pitching in and doing their part.  They learned to share pillows when they didn’t want to, open snacks for the little ones, put up with the shenanigans of teasing and pestering in an enclosed space.  They learned to help each other in the bathroom, be patient for food and drink and that you don’t have to watch tv all day in the car to have fun.  They learned that when mom says/yells, “I have been driving for 18 hours, you guys can figure it out.” that it is time to be quiet. 

I learned that many hours of driving leads to a lot of reflection and wonder to “Why haven’t I lost my mind yet?”  And I came to this discovery.  I, (the adult) actually have some control over my emotions!  My kids to have some control, but they are still in the midst of discovering patience and love and kindness.  I am 33 years old and hopefully have learned more about these things.  When I wanted to freak out, I reminded myself that “I am the adult” and that I could manage my feelings.  The kids would work out their problems and I would just have to ride through the grumpiness for a few miles, which is surprisingly easy to do when there is some good music and beautiful scenery.  It will give you the confidence of a warrior!  You will have the feeling that you can do anything!  And you can and I can!  I am no longer nervous to take my kids to appointments alone, church alone, in public alone. I have always taken them everywhere with me but been apprehensive.  Now, I don't even think about it.  It is such a freeing feeling. 

I have always been bothered by the saying that the mother controls the mood of the home.  Who wants that responsibility?  I definitely don’t!  But I do have it and I have come to look at it as a good thing.  If I can swallow my outbursts and think before I speak, then my kids will learn to do the same.  It might take years of trial and error, but they will learn to do the same.  And hopefully sooner than I did!  It is a true honor to be the mood decider.  I have told myself many times that I will not let my kids affect my mood.  That one temper tantrum in the day doesn’t equal a bad day as a whole.  That a blown out diaper, broken figurine, an “I hate you” doesn’t have to destroy my life.  These moments are just moments of the day, not the whole day.  (Now ask me if I think these same things when I am pregnant someday!) 

All in all, I discovered that I could do something hard.  I could pack and repack the car, I could throw snacks back with great accuracy, stay awake after 9 hours of driving, maintain my sanity after a sleepless night courtesy of William and stop along the way for the first pony express station.  We bonded like crazy. I was the only adult to listen to, so they had to do it.  We relaxed and laughed and saw rolling plains, red rock, mountains, fields of gold and fields of corn.  I learned to go with the flow.  That if we got in an hour later, it wasn’t going to kill anyone.  If it took longer to get to the pool, we would still get there.  I learned that life doesn’t have to be as scheduled as it was when I had kids age 4, 1 and newborn.  I am pretty thrilled about this turn of events.  I am even more amazed at what my kids are capable of.  They were awesome at pushing through so many miles, different houses, food and all the rest that comes with a road trip.  I was so proud of them that I could shout it from the rooftops!  (I guess this is my way of doing that.)  To sum it up, you can do hard things as a mom.  You can push yourself harder than you thought.  You can live to tell the tale.  And you can live to tell the tale with grace.

Us at the first pony express station in Gothenburg, Nebraska

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Lost (5 minute prompt)

(This post really took 8 minutes, but I was on a roll and when you're on a roll, you don't dare stop!)
Lost
Sometimes, during the day, I end up lost.  I have a million things to do: laundry, cleaning, playing, activities that I just end up lost.  I wander a bit, not sure where to begin. Not wanting to miss out on time with the kids because I have to get errands or work done.  But not wanting to get errands or work done because I will miss out on time with the kids.  It's a vicious cycle.  I don't love feeling lost, without direction, without focus.  I find myself wasting time some days because I haven't buckled down on what I need to accomplish. I make lists and they help, but it is still hard to get everything done.  Because, as a mom, the work is never done.  The laundry starts over the minute it is done.  The kids are still hungry although they just ate 11 out of 16 hard boiled eggs between the three of them, then finished off a bowl of apple slices.  The dishes need me, the mopping and what is dusting? Hilarious!  Something that happens when people come to visit.  At these times when I am feeling lost, I try to take a break.  I try to take a breather and refocus on what my true purpose and plan is.  I want to be a good mom, first and foremost.  I want to teach the kids to work, to love, to play, to read, to share, to hug and to laugh.  I want to write, read an create.  I want to give Blake attention and not be completely drained that I just can't give him attention that he deserves.  I want to serve God and His children, my friends, my family.  When I found myself lost, I think of these things and I start to find myself.  I find myself reading to the kids or starting that laundry pile or finding a book or just sitting.  Sitting in the stillness of a moment when the kids are playing a made up game "secret forest" and I am Heather, not mom, not wife, but Heather.  That person who feels like a long lost friend.  I find her and she reminds me that I am still me and I am more.  As I have become wife and mother, I have become more. I have grown, I have stretched and developed into a person I hardly recognize from ten years ago, even two years ago.  And this new person is my forever self.  The one I have always wanted to be.  So, when I find myself lost, I know I am lost in the care of other people, people who love and enrich my life. Who think I am number one despite my many faults, which they are apparently blind to.  In being lost, I am found.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Release (5 minute prompt)

Ah, the release of writing...
the feeling of letting go of your feelings and emotions and fears.
Knowing that they belong on the page and not in your head.
Because inside your head they can seem mangled and unmanageable and frustrating.
But on your paper, they make sense.  They help move you on to other things.
They help you to heal, to accept, to plan and to endure.
Sometimes the words come out in a great spill and complete.
Sometimes the words come out in a slow pensive mood.
Sometimes the words need to be edited.
Sometimes the words are not able to be edited, because they are downright bad.
But even "bad" writing is still writing.
And any attempt at writing is a learning experience.
Sometimes the words end up being completely different than you thought they would.
Sometimes the words make you proud or sad or excited or happy, but the words are your own and there is no greater feeling than putting words together in a symphony of sounds and emotions and sentences that could change a life or change a mood. 
Especially if that life or mood is your own.
 


Monday, June 16, 2014

Guard against the storm

Blake and I were reading Alma Chapter 26 in the Book of Mormon.  Alma was talking about storms and how God can protect us from the storms.  You can read it here.

6 Yea, they shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea, neither shall they be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; but when the storm cometh they shall be gathered together in their place, that the storm cannot penetrate to them; yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds whithersoever the enemy listeth to carry them.

We are in the midst of an awful thunder/lightening storm.  We were just hiding in the basement with the kids because of a tornado warning.  I was thinking a lot about storms in life and how to stay protected from them.  I wish we could put our family into a cocoon and save them from all the scary, hard, awful things in the world.  The storm is real out there.  There are many different choices, good and bad, and many different winds pushing throughout the world.  If you aren't careful, you could end up swept away in the storms that the world has created.  It could be really hard to recover from the storms.  As we were reading this, and I heard the thunder booming and the lightening striking, I felt the most incredible sense of peace.  It was as if the storm were trying to destroy our house, but it couldn't get through.  We had the windows open and could feel the wind coming through, but it didn't affect us.  We were very aware of the storm but the storm couldn't hurt us because we were prepared.

I went upstairs to get something and almost slipped in a puddle of water that had gotten through the window screen.  We hadn't been vigilent with that window.  The rain had gotten through and could have caused injury to one of us.  If we aren't continually watching and working towards good things, then bad could sneak in without us knowing. If I would have slipped in the water (I totally almost did), I could have gotten hurt.  Who knows if it would have been a long recovery or not?  But we have to always be on watch and prepared to keep our families safe.

The winds of the world can push and tear at us.  They can be right up next to us, but if we are prepared, then we will be fine.  If we have taught our kids right and wrong and loved and encouraged them, then the storms and winds can beat on us, but we will be safe.  Of course, we have our right to choose what we will choose, but if we choose right, God will protect us.  He will enfold us in His arms and envelop us in His love.  And storms can rage around us, but we will be safe in the cocoon we have created.
 


Messenger (5 minute Friday)

This last week was a little bizarre.  We heard the news that Alyn Beck, the police officer, was killed.  He was in our church congregation in Las Vegas.  It immediately put me on edge.  I was so sad for the family, so struck by senseless violence and the destruction that it causes.  Then it made me think of the messenger.  Whoever had to tell the family that he had been killed.  And that they will always remembered as the person who told them.  But then I thought of the messenger that Alyn had been.  A messenger of kindness and service and bravery.  And I thought of so many I know who have been taken "too young" or too early in life.  My cousin, T.C, who passed at age 25 shared a message of redemption and fun and honor.  The neighbor down the street, Scotty, at age 18, who was a cheerful and good soul.  A mother, Pam, 38, who had the most infectious laugh.  My grandfather, Dale, at 52, who sang on road trips, loved his family and worked hard.  My cousin and dear friend, Laurie's daughter, stillborn, her message of endurance and families are forever.  And so many more young people we knew from Las Vegas, so many that the cemetery becomes a reunion, because we know so many who are buried there.  And I think, what was their message?  Did they spread their message more effectively because their time on earth was ended abruptly?  Is that the purpose of their abrupt ending?  So that we will remember them and their message?  And not just remember them, but the best of them?  The best they had to offer?  I hope my message will be one worth remembering and one worth sharing.


Challenged

Today I was challenged by my nine year old.  My nine year old with red hair and the beginning of "tween" hormones, mind you.  I can blame a unstructured schedule, summer, humidity or whatnot, but it happened.  And as I looked into her defiant and angry face, I had no idea what to do. I thought of what my college education classes would have said, my parenting books, my mother in law.  But I came up with nothing.  Instead, I thought, "How does my Heavenly Father parent?"  As much as I wanted to spank her butt and call it good, I knew that wouldn't help in the long run.  It might help me to feel momentarily better, like I deserved the outlet and she deserved a spank, but really, what does that solve?  Instead of losing my mind and getting angry or attacking her, I cried.  Yes, I cried and I said, "I'm done. Everyone go to quiet time." Blake came home for lunch and found me lying in bed, an eerie silence in the house, because I don't often say "ENOUGH!" And maybe that is part of the problem?  I told him that if he came home from work and I was still lying in bed, then we had a problem.  Getting back to the defiant face of my daughter, I gave her a punishment for her disrespectful behavior.  I had her clean the basement.  It wasn't that bad, but bad enough, that she might not want to be disrespectful anymore.  She was down there for three hours.  The job was a 20 minute job.  While she was down there, I took a nap, "pinned" some stuff on pinterest, texted my wonderful friends about my woes, did some cleaning and pretty much gave up on the day.  The kids finished their jobs and got tv/computer time.  They are currently watching a ridiculous cartoon and I am really ok with it, because sometimes you just need some space.  Ideally, my kids would spend all of summer vacation engaged in arts and crafts, learning, reading, outside time and learning an abundance of new skills.  We have been in summer for two weeks and it has been great.  Therefore, we deserve an afternoon of "whatever"!  I have a hard time recognizing when I need a break.  Oftentimes, I just fill my time with more productive things, when really I just need to sit down and take a break.  I need not feel guilty for loading free songs onto my freegal account or reading a book or writing something or doing nothing!  Why do I give myself so much guilt?  Am I not a person too?  Hailey and I worked out our issue.  She apologized and we talked about the problem and I hope that the three hours in the basement helped mellow her.  Nothing like some good alone/quiet time to realize when you are being a bum.  But until next time I see that defiant look on her face, I need to remember:
  1) Love heals.
  2) Disrespect is never ok
  3) Disrespect equals chores
  4) Arguing with an irrational person will never yield good results
  5) Watching tv and being mellow is not giving up.  It is relaxing and that is ok.
I have many years of parenting to go.  I don't want to burn myself out by trying to be the most creative, the most fun, the most patient mom out there. I will be myself.  I will remember that "Mom is a person too"!  That I am grateful for these four kids who have challenged me beyond all belief and have made me better because of it.  And I will remember that moderation in all things is the answer.  Hugs and kisses are the answer.  Chocolate is the answer!  And prayer is the answer.  Here is to many more great learning experiences, good days and bad days.  And acceptance of good and bad days. 
My 9 year old


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