Fruit Snack Attack

This week I got to go on a field trip with LOTS of 1st graders.  It was actually really fun and the time went too quickly.  I was in charge of 3 of them, and those three girls keep me running.  It was fun to see things through their little 6-7-year-old eyes.  So fun. Normally the kids eat lunch at 11:40 when they are at school. Well, the field trip was LONG for them.  At about 11:30, you could see them kinda get glassy eyed and slow down.  When we climbed on the bus to come back to school it was 12:10 and we had a 45 minute drive back to school.  Luckily the 1st grade teachers knew their students well.  They passed out fruit snacks and water.  Normally, I HATE fruit snacks, but I had some any way and they were the best fruit snacks I have ever had.  I think I just needed some sugar to boost me through the craziness.  So, sometimes you just have to be flexible.

There are many things that I said I wasn’t going to do when I was a parent, but I have learned to be flexible.  We don’t have the financial security that I thought we would, we don’t buy the expensive mac and cheese, and my kids don’t love vegetables.  But, we have fun, we smile, we laugh and we read together.  I love my life and am so grateful for every day.  But, I still don’t buy fruit snacks.

Keeping up with the reading habit

First of all, thank you to all of you who have reached out to me about concern for my daughter.  We have definitely felt your prayers this past week.  Some days are harder than others, but we are fighting the battle!  Thank you so, so much.  You don’t know how much it has meant to me!

When I was little I couldn’t get enough of reading.  I hid a flashlight in my bed, between the side of the bed frame and the mattress, and would get it out almost EVERY night and read.  Sometimes I would put a sheet over the top of me and let the flashlight light up my little cave.  Other times I would just bust out the flashlight and get to the task at hand.  I couldn’t tell you now what books I was reading but I can tell you how important reading was to me.  It kinda goes with out saying that it drove my mom crazy.  Many nights my reading party was interrupted by my mom.  She never took the flashlight away though, I always wondered why, but I think she was trying to tell me that she trusted me to do what I knew I should, and I usually did.

Fast forward to my life now, as a parent.  My six-year-old taught herself how to read when she was two.  It was a surprising revelation to learn that she could read.  We were at my mom and dad’s house and my mom had her old-school “Dick and Jane” books out.  My mom was a reading teacher in an elementary school, so naturally she got to work with said two-year old.  The only problem was, my mom didn’t have to do anything except point to the words and our daughter was reading.  I remember thinking, “what just happened?”  My husband got out his phone to capture the moment on camera and I just kinda of sat there stunned.  I remember my mom looking up at me with this look on her face which said it all…”You have no idea what you are in for.”  Well, she was right.

Guess what my sweet daughter figured out when she was four (way earlier that I thought of it)–night time reading parties.  She would get really clever with her use of a flashlight though, since she didn’t have access to them.  She would use her turtle nightlight (her name is Sprinkly), she would sit really close to the plugged in night light, and she would sneak things into her room that had some sort of light on them.  Sometimes it was just plain amusing and other times I was thinking, “now I know how my mom felt.”  Isn’t it funny how some things come back to bite you in the behind.

Mostly, I didn’t mind, until she started school and the next day it was obvious that she did not get enough sleep.  Part of the nightly bed time ritual now, is to check for books and make them unavailable until the next day.

I love that she loves to read.  I love to read.  Some days I long to sit down on the couch by her and we are each reading our separate books, but are together doing something that we both love.  She is definitely my daughter in that aspect.  I can usually tell when she has had a hard day at school or has had to be really social at school because at home she takes respite in getting lost in a book to recharge.  I love when she reads to her younger brother and sister and that her excitement for reading has them trying to aspire to learn.  We have lots of books in our house and the library is a common staple, reading together is a cherished time for every one.  My youngest loves for anyone to read to her.  Lately I have found her pulling off book after book from the book shelf “reading” in her own two-year old way.  I love to see the piles of books around her.  My little guy is learning sight words now and actually teaching someone how to read is new territory for us.  He is doing great for a four-year old and he gets so excited when he knows words and is “reading”.  Reading is an important skill.

In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “I cannot live without books.”

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Henry hole-in-the-wall and kindness

I want you to meet Henry.  This is Henry.20160909_210243

He used to be a hole-in-the-wall.

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The reason we have Henry is because we found a leak on the outside of our house and the warranty we bought when we bought our home, doesn’t cover anything on the OUTSIDE.  I will spare you the rant and the details about the warranty, believe me I could go on for lots of words.  Well, I called my brother.  Yep, my brother Eric who lives less than 4 miles from me, because he seems to always know what to do.  Eric cut a huge hole in the wall and found the leak and fixed it for less than $50.  It was amazing to me, to say the least.

Well, every time I see Henry, I think of my brother.  Every time my 2-year-old sees Henry she says, “Uncle Eric fixed for us!”  It makes my heart happy.  Not because Eric is filled with knowledge of how to fix things, but because of what it means to me.

Eric and I have always been close.  We have always had a bond.  It is hard to describe really.  We were two siblings that happen to be willing to listen to each other and spent a lot of time together, despite the almost 10 year age difference.  Growing up I always looked up to him and wanted to see what he was doing.  He spent a lot of time outside fixing things, but I have never really been good at fixing anything.  I am good at helping Eric though. I can get a tool, I can hold something and I can start the car when he is making sure he fixed a car right.  He has also always had an uncanny ability to help others.  Whether it is fixing or helping or listening or being able to have all the family history stories in his head.  He really is amazing.  He won’t tell you that he is amazing though, so I will!

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Eric works for an airline and while I was growing up and he had “left”home he would work 4 days on and 3 days off.  He would come home a lot for those days off and we would be buddies.  I would always try to tag along, but realized that I couldn’t always.  But I figured I could learn something from him.  I learned how to reload bullets, wrote out all of his checks for him, ironed his clothes, learned how to drive a stick shift when I was 14, went on TONS of adventures in the desert with him, shot a lot of bullets with him, and spent lots of late nights talking together.  One thing we seemed to always do was load up and head out for a drive.  Sometimes we would go to our regular target shooting spot and then drive for hours through the desert with no where particular to go.  We spent a lot of time talking as we bumped through the hills and listened to a lot of classic Billy Joel songs.  The time is a treasure to me.  I am sure that he got sick of me sometimes, but I loved it.  Sometimes I didn’t know if we would make it home in one piece, but we always seemed to.

As we both got older, we would still make time to see each other.  We always had late night talks and I loved getting his insight on things.  He truly was a good friend and still is.  He was always the one I would go to to talk about things in life.  He was always so giving to others as well.  He was close to both sets of our grandparents in ways that I am sure I will never know.  He used to spend summers with my Grandma and Grandpa DeMille and it is amazing now to hear the stories from those summers and to hear about all the information he learned from that time.  When my Grandma and Grandpa Nelson moved closer to his home, he always made time to go and help out or just to be with them.  He was and is always a force for good where ever he goes.

When I flew home from a mission for my church, he had an outpatient surgery in the morning and then drove 4 hours to be there when I arrived.  I moved in with him after my mission when I found a job and it was fun to see his kindness in action again.  His kindness didn’t just stop with family. He lives in a neighborhood where there are a lot of “grandmas and grandpas”.  In the winter he wouldn’t just snow blow his drive way, but like 5 other people’s driveways because he wanted to make sure that they were able to get out.  He was good friends with one set of neighbors and they invited him over to Sunday dinner, like every week.  He went to all of their family get togethers and loved to help them out as well. He is always out serving to help someone else out.

When I moved to a neighboring state, Eric loaded up his truck and drove me there and then helped move me to another state after less than 2 years.  He is just that kind of person, through and through.  And you better believe that when I started dating Scott seriously, it was Eric who was asking all of the important questions!  The crazy thing was that Eric started dating Denise (his wife now!) shortly after I started dating Scott.  It was Eric that Scott was more nervous about meeting the first time!  It was fun to be at the same point in our lives as we continued to move forward, we had MANY late night talks around this time.  I remember staying up late with him the night before I got married and talking about how even though things were changing, we always needed to help out each other and to be able to give to those around us.  100_0012

When he married is wonderful wife, Denise, the ability to help people out multiplied.  Now they work together and serve so many people, it makes my head spin.  We also have kids around the same age and that has been fun too. Then when we were going to buy our house, I called Eric again and again and again…and I am sure that I will call him again because he told me I should.

I am so, so grateful for Eric.  Not just because of all the things that he has done to help me out, but for being a great example of kindness in action in his whole life.  I love that my home has little things to remind me of certain people and certain times of life.  But I love most of all, Henry and that my kids can see their Uncle Eric is a “helper” not just to us but to so many.  I am not ready to paint over Henry, I still have a lot to learn about kindness and helping others.

Just a homemaker

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In the Fall last year I went to get my haircut.  Not a big deal, right?  Well, I went to a salon I had only been to once, but I REALLY needed my hair cut, I had a coupon, and a few minutes without my kids.  So I sat down, explained what I wanted done with my hair and the hairstylist starts cutting.  Being the introvert that I am, I wasn’t exactly chatty and the hairstylist looked like she was having a long day.  But I attempted to start up a conversation.  Turns out that she had an outpatient surgery that day and was working her second job of the day, so she was tired.  Well, she asked what I did.  My response was, “I am just a homemaker.”

Now, before I proceed, in my head I was running through this amazing dialogue about a response that I would love to here after I state that I am a stay at home mom.  The purely magical response would be, “You’re not just a homemaker, you definitely do a ton.”  Followed by a great conversation on motherhood and the joys and difficulties of the hardest job on earth.  On another side note, a couple of years ago I saw this blurb on a social media site that was interviewing people for an unnamed job.  It showed the interviewer Skyping with potential applicants and telling them a little more about “the job.”  They were told they would never have a day off, there was no sick time or leave offered, they had to work every holiday, and they would always be on call.  Most of the people were totally appalled and many asked if that was legal.  Then the interviewer told them what “the job” was, it was the job of a mother.  All of the applicants smiled and it ended with all of them saying a big thank you to their own moms.

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Well, my dreaming response was cut short with the response of the hair stylist, “Oh, well did you do any thing before, or did you do anything else with your life?” Truthfully I wanted to jump up and scream, but that would not have been good.  So I swallowed my pain, hurt, and angst and told her what my job “used” to be.  I asked her about having kids and then my heart hurt.  Yes, she has kids but in so many words, let someone else take care of them and put them to bed because she preferred that.  I am not trying to talk bad about this hairstylist and I definitely don’t know her situation at all, but it sure has made me think a lot since that night.

I love being a homemaker.  I remember when I was 7 months pregnant with my third baby and was trying to tie a quilt on the floor, my back was screaming, my other two kiddos (ages 4 and 2) were running around probably hitting something they weren’t suppose to, but being so happy.  I remember sending my cute husband a text, “I love being domestic!”  Haha, that makes me laugh.  But I really do enjoy being home, taking care of my home, and enjoying my time with my kids while they are little.  With that said, we have definitely had to make some sacrifices for the opportunity to be a stay at home mom.  There are too many to even talk about, but I am so grateful for a husband that is a strong supporter of family.

One of my favorite things on motherhood especially, is from Elder Neil Andersen.  He gave a talk about having children and how they will ultimately bless your life.  Read this little blurb: “Many voices in the world today marginalize the importance of having children or suggest delaying or limiting children in a family. My daughters recently referred me to a blog written by a Christian mother (not of our faith) with five children. She commented: ‘[Growing] up in this culture, it is very hard to get a biblical perspective on motherhood. … Children rank way below college. Below world travel for sure. Below the ability to go out at night at your leisure. Below honing your body at the gym. Below any job you may have or hope to get.’ She then adds: ‘Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.’ Now I am not totally saying that every minute of being a homemaker is glorious and perfect or that my children are perfectly obedient.  But being a mom is definitely what God has given me time for right now.  It is an amazing experience that has blessed my life in so many ways.  I love when my kids are all clean in their jammies and we are reading scripture stories or the last Winnie the Pooh book, then every one lays down and I sing them songs.  It is a cherished time for me and I hope it is something that they will remember.

When I was little, I loved to read, and I loved when my mom read to me.  I don’t know if my mom just got sick of me asking for bed time stories or if she was just tired and wanted to go to bed herself, but she recorded many tapes of her reading stories.  I took one of those tapes to college with me.  It was those little things that meant so much, that I want to instill in my kids.  We have long since digitized those old cassette tapes and now have a play list for our kids with both of their Grandmas, one Grandpa, one set of Great-grandparents, and Scott and me reading stories. I am so grateful for those small things.  Many times I find myself reflecting on all the crazy things I put my mom through and you know what, she still loves me.  I hope that as the years continue, that my kids will know how much I am grateful for this time to be their mom and what a blessing it is to be with them. I want them to know also, how much I rely on God to get me through some days.  I pray that they will pray for that help when they need it.

This past week my oldest started 1st grade.  Seriously, it has been hard.  I miss her and I miss all the kids playing together.  The first day, Jake (my 4 year old) and I were wandering around the house because we didn’t quite know what to do without Jenna.  Jake keep asking when Jenna was coming home, and the first time he asked she had not even been gone for an hour.  Tessa, my 2 year old, was confused when Jenna didn’t come back home with us after we dropped Jenna off at school.  “Where’s Jenna?” and I would have to remind her.  Jenna on the other hand, said she missed us but I think she was doing just great and having a wonderful time in first grade.  It is definitely an adjustment for all of us to have her gone.  The sad thing is, is that this week was early out so she hasn’t even been gone for as long as she usually will be!  My mother heart aches, but is exciting for her as well in her new adventure.

Since that Fall, I have often thought about changing my response when people ask me what I do.  But, you know what, I have the best job right now.  I am a wife and a mom with a family that loves me.  Julie B. Beck said what I know is true, “When mothers know who they are and who God is and have made covenants with Him, they will have great power and influence for good on their children.”   Why would I want to change my response?  Now, I say that I am lucky enough to stay at home with my kids, because I really do feel lucky.  I am blessed to “JUST” be a homemaker.