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!)
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.


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

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Hands (5 minute prompt)

My hands are shadowed in the late evening dusk of Iowa.  A light tan beginning to encompass them and freckles sprinkled throughout.  It will get darker as summer moves forward.  My left finger is encircled by my wedding ring.  A ring I love and would never trade, even for the encrusted diamond one I saw the other day.  It is a symbol of Blake's love and our commitment and nearly 12 years of trials, love, laughter, hardships and endurance.  It is a symbol of forever.  On my right ring finger is a friendship ring Hailey gave me. It is neon green and used to say BFF, but got rubbed off by many washings.  The pink one was given to Brooke because she wanted it so desperately, and lost in the same minute.  It is probably hiding under her bed collecting dust bunnies until the next time we attempt that room cleaning.  My fingers have two creases on the inside of them, the palm side. My mother has the same creases.  She and I are the only ones who share these creases.  My dad loves that we do.  My hands have fingernails bitten down to the quick.  The cuticles are overgrown and unkempt.  My goal: to stop biting those fingernails, a habit I began in first grade.  A bit of dirt under my nails as I just finished weeding some of the garden, the corn and tomatoes and strawberries beginning life.  Gardening is not work to me.  I think I have always loved creating.  My hands help me create. My hands help me write, turn pages, rub backs, tickles and hugs.  My hands are perfect for holding Blake's.  My hands can tell a story.  You just need ask.

Today was.....(Write your thoughts when you are inspired)

I wrote this down on a whim a few days ago, just because I was feeling the muse! I was feeling free and flowy and thought it should be remembered. Took me about 15 minutes while the kids played in the hose.  Then today happened.  William was up till 3 A.M.  Got up at 8 A.M. Dishwasher wouldn’t start.  Washed dishes by hand. Still had to do errands and grocery shopping (no food!) and plan primary and take dinner to my friend (no problem!) and all the other Saturday stuff. So, I am happy that I wrote this down to remind me of good days. I am going to share it, then get some brownies and ice cream and possibly pass out while I eat them. 

Moral of the story: When you’re feeling inspired, don’t fight it. Find a few spare minutes and write your thoughts down. You can come back later and revise and edit.  But you can’t fix what you haven’t written down.

Challenge: Write about your day, good or bad.  Doesn't have to be flowery.  Just has to be real.  Share or don't share.  Know that you will never regret writing something down that will help remind you of your life, clear your head and pass on to the future.


Today was:

Blake’s goodbye kiss, me blurry eyed and him smelling like Blake.  He told me of his plans to start putting his towel in the bathroom instead of the bedroom.  Good man.

Waking up an hour after that and not wanting to follow our original plan of going to Amish Country, but feeling like we should because the kids were planning on it.

Telling them I didn’t feel like going and them agreeing with me.

Feeling a little lost because we had a long and empty day in front of us.  Looking up places to go online and decided to let life happen instead of forcing it to happen.

Holding plank for a minute and feeling like this body has sure come a long way after four kids.

Knowing that stretch marks are beauty marks.

A bowl of homemade brown sugar and cinnamon oatmeal outside in the fresh morning air.  My little man William sitting next to me as he ate his.

The kids making Brooke raspberry soup and cake out of rocks and dirt and calling it her “birthday cake”.

The kids not fighting and using their grand imaginations.

Pulling weeds with the neighbor and tricking the kids into helping.  They didn’t cry.

Counting six strawberries growing on our plant, tiny green and hoping for red.  I really don’t mind that strawberries can take over like a weed. I am sure we will eat them all.

Cutting into the reddest watermelon I have ever seen.

Threatening the kids with more chores if they didn’t finish their chores without complaining.

Deciding that the “no TV till 4 pm rule” was stupid.  And that we can watch when we want and need to.  The kids watched an hour and a half in the morning and nothing else the rest of the day.  They didn’t miss it.

Feeling that too much structure and rules can make for a miserable family.

Listening to Harry Potter in the car and loving the magic and the magic of passing it on to my kids.

The quiet that books on cd create in the car.

Meeting Blake for lunch at Culvers, a nice change from my normal salad.  And getting a free chocolate reeses ice cream.  Man, that was worth it.

Throwing Brooke’s melted leftover ice cream in the garbage because she wouldn’t stop teasing William.  She didn’t even remember that it had been thrown away.

Being happy that I stuck to my word on this one.

A great quiet time where I read two chapters of a book that has been taking over my life, The Mysterious Benedict Society, (you must read this!) and taking a ten minute power nap, when the adorable mail lady knocked on the door to scan a package she missed.

A tiny bit of mascara, under eye concealer and lip gloss, because a summer tan is the best make up.

Spencer telling me, “Today is a good day for lemonade.”

Hailey doing an ocean mobile project and feeling happy because it felt like a school project.

Making blueberry muffins with blueberry jam and a lemon sugar topping with Spencer and Brooke.  And I was patient the whole time. 

Making no bake granola bars with Haile and her doing most of the work and the taste testing.

Rubbing William’s back in his bed after nap and him loving every minute of it.

Not having to make dinner because my friend is watching the kids while I try out hot yoga for the first time.

My friend saying they can come over and play AND eat pancakes with them.  Homemade pancakes.

Getting sprayed with water while I wrote this because the kids were playing with the hose while fully clothed.

Not caring that they made my laundry pile bigger.

Spencer liking the shirts I got for him for an awesome deal at Kohl’s.

Writing this with pencil and paper because I can’t find my computer and realizing how much I miss scribbling away.

William rubbing my leg and saying “wet” in a sweet baby voice.

Ignoring a schedule and not stressing about a timeline.

William playing cars by me while I exercised.

Perfect weather.  Clouds and sun and cool air.

Talking to my sweet and calm friend, 6 months pregnant, and still in control of her emotions.  A true example.

Completing hot yoga and not feeling silly even though the other people were ten years younger and fitness is their life.
Being happy my friend Danielle came with me because she isn't serious either!
Being happy they turn off the lights during hot yoga.

Drinking three bottles of water after hot yoga.

Having a bit of a hard time relaxing during yoga because I know I will have to drag the kids away from their friends. 

Eventually relaxing.

Dragged the kids away without too much pain.

Bedtime stories, snuggles and prayers.  My favorite part of the day.

Watching America’s Test Kitchen with Blake, because he knows I love it.

Pinning all of their recipes.  Even though each one is a million steps.

A feeling of knowing I am doing this mom thing. I am doing it imperfectly, but I am doing it.  I am trying and persevering, falling and getting back up.  I am starting to understand my purpose more fully and I am assured it is because I have been praying for it.

Our best attempt with four.  At some gardens 20 minutes from us. 


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