Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Wednesday Hodgepodge

The other night, after having me pooh-pooh yet another family Halloween movie suggestion (due to frightening things in the reviews such as “mildly scary-looking creatures”), Mike threw up his hands and asked if we ought to just watch “Fluffy Bunny Fluffs Around”. Hahahah. That does sound more up my alley. . . . (And one mustn’t be too hard on me. Penny recently had a bit of a worrisome time going to sleep after having watched a Thomas the Train Halloween special. So . . . )

IMG_2115_edited-1IMG_2214_edited-1Photo Oct 14, 5 25 40 PMPhoto Oct 14, 9 01 07 AM

Monday night, between a measly two children, we endured 18 bouts of throwing up. 18! I don’t even know quite how such a thing was possible. Makeshift beds were strewn about our room and nearly every 20 – 30 minutes we were up again – holding bowls, rubbing backs, washing hands. Penny was so dearly apologetic that I felt guilty for showing my exhausted distress. And Anders. Well. I’m sure he would have been apologetic, if he hadn’t been rather busy moaning about it being “the worst day of his life” and all (which, to be fair, it very well may have been – afterall, he’s only five . . . and that was a lot of throwing up). But we all seem well enough again. And besides, it might have been three children and 27 bouts of throw up. Or eight children, two adults and (let me do some math here) . . . 90 bouts? Oh goodness. That’s a ghastly thought!


I’ve always been touched by the story in the New Testament (Matthew 14 and Mark 6) where Jesus heads off to a lone place in hopes of finding a little solitude after just having heard of his cousin John’s beheading. I’m sure he would have liked a little time to mourn and process and pray. But the mulititudes desperately followed him, and, in seeing their shepherdless state, he had compassion on them and so, forgoing his own private time, he taught them and even fed them.

Today I read a blog friend’s comments on this event. She compared it to motherhood and talked about how often we might want/need a little time to ourselves to grieve or think or regenerate, but how, very often, we simply must continue on with caring for our families – through sickness and sorrow and frustration and exhaustion. She talked about how we are being like Christ in this – we are continuing to serve even when it feels hard and inconvenient.

I loved her thoughts so much! In fact, just the other day I escaped to the bathroom for a quick cry. I was feeling worried about one of my children and overwhelmed about several things, but that tiny moment of crying in the bathroom was all I could afford before needing to wipe my eyes, square my shoulders, and get back to making dinner, helping with homework, and picking up kids from activities. I’ve typically seen no glory or great selflessness in things like that. I’ve probably only felt a little self-pitying, but reading her blog post today made me feel . . . I don’t know . . . more noble I guess, like Heavenly Father is proud of me when I press on with the demands of being a mother and serve my family – even when I don’t feel up to the challenge and even when I’d prefer to just have a good cry. I felt like, in doing this, I’m being more like my Savior.


Lastly, I need to follow Abe around more often when he is completely preoccupied with other things. It is nearly impossible to get a picture of that kid these days, but I got several perfectly lovely ones while picking him up from bike practice and watching his race last week! Handsome boy. He ought to be eager to appear in more photos.


And a few other folks at the race:


Thursday, October 13, 2016

“. . . in the eyes of some . . .”

Today I read a little scripture in 3 Nephi 5:8.

As the Nephites were finally seeing the light at the end of a particularly long and dark tunnel, it talked about how many things had happened “which, in the eyes of some,” were “great and marvelous”.


That part: “in the eyes of some” really jumped out at me. Some. Some saw miraculous and beauty in the events, experiences and blessings that had come to them. They saw “marvelous” in the things they’d been through and their current situation. But “some” also means . . . many didn’t. Many went through the same experiences, had the same blessings and witnessed the same wonders without particularly seeing anything special in any of it.


It made me think of a quote I once read about us never being able to experience the joy something has to offer us until we are grateful for it. It’s such an obvious statement, but how many things are happening around me or are a part of my life that I receive no joy from simply because I don’t even know to be grateful for them? How many things do I not recognize as “great and marvelous”? How many miracles and blessings do I just . . . not see?


This is a silly and rather small example, but when we spent all those weeks in Georgia this past August, much of the time was full of adventure and fun, but there were other moments that were very hard for me. Mike was gone during the day with the one car we had there, and, while often we’d wade through the work to get ourselves all down to the beach a few blocks away, other times I thought I might go insane waiting for Mike to get back. We were there together, my kids and I, but we didn’t have many of our things, and we didn’t have any of our usual demands. I’d never realized before that having a home of my own to take care of during the day, tasks to help my children complete, errands that needed done and chores that demanded my time was a blessing. I’d never thought about it being “lucky” to have a car at my disposal to get anywhere I wanted or needed – even if it typically entailed carting at least three small children along with me.


Ever since coming home, when I start to feel stressed or grumpy about all that needs done around here, I often pause and am surprised by a spark of gratitude that I have a busy life with purpose and demands and meaning.

But that was only one small thing. I want to have my eyes opened to more. I’ve been saying little prayers more constantly throughout my days. Prayers of thanks for having this entire home to just be in -- unbothered by the world and quietly taking care of my family. Thanks for my freedom to come and go where I please. Thanks for autumn. Thanks for Mike – his loyalty and kindness and hard work.

Even still I feel a sense that there is so much more joy there – waiting for me; so many things where God’s hand is at play in my life or I am being given a task or challenge that is a blessing in what it allows me to learn and how it stretches me.


During one of my most difficult life trials, I recall having a very distinct thought come to my mind. It was simply this: gratitude will save you -- as if I’d been tossed a life line and I could choose to grab ahold of it or not. I remember looking for the spots of beauty in my life. One that struck me most constantly was simply seeing my kids interact happily together or noticing moments when we were all together joking or laughing about something. There it was. In the fear and darkness: JOY! It seemed to anchor me and spread light and hope. It awed me to know that what I’d always hoped . . . was actually true – that trials did not have to mean life lost its joy. Elder Nelson’s talk, one of my favorites from our recent general conference, spoke of the same thing. And I’ve been feeling strongly that I will need to refocus on gratitude as we welcome this new baby to our family. I will have three kids under two and a half, and the demands of the rest of my family and life will still all be there as well. It is going to be hard, and there is a chance I’ll get some post-partum depression; but I feel again that strong feeling that gratitude will save me. It will bring me joy. And it will open my eyes to the Lord’s awareness of me and my path. It will allow me to better see the amazingness of the “great and marvelous” around me.


Monday, October 10, 2016

Journal Post. I Guess? Kind of?

This girl.


She’s a precocious little child and can tell us anything in the world that she might wish to tell us. Unfortunately most of what she wishes to tell us is that she absolutely does not want her hair in pony tails, or even the very smallest of barretts (heaven knows how this day’s hair ever managed to happen), and that she most certainly does not want to put on whatever outfit (or even multiple choices of outfits) that we might have pulled out for her (unless, of course, it is her worn and stained pair of “butterfly jammies” [and, in a pinch, her sheep jammies]).

But we like her all the same. We like sneakily listening in on the conversations her little toys have with one another; we like the magna tile houses she builds day and night; we like how she thinks she’s one of the big kids, and we like how she knows the full names of everyone in our family, and how, if she doesn’t know someone’s she just uses the name of her pediatrician/uncle as the most likely substitute (“Mommy Uncle John Harris”, “Daddy Uncle John Harris”).


In other news. Anders turned five. Daisy made him an Elmo cake just like he’d requested (again, I can not tell you how much I love not making birthday cakes anymore!). And, he didn’t: quit recognizing me as his mother, stop loving his blankie, or be unable to fit in any of his clothes or shoes! All those worries were mentioned and fretted over repeatedly as his birthday drew near, so it was a tremendous relief when it turned out he was . . . mostly just the same (only with an Incredible Hulk remote control car now in his posession).


And here is Abe – as he can often be found these days – doing homework. He’s gotten incredibly good at just tuning out the noise from one kid practicing piano, another kid crying, someone playing their allotted time on the wii, several kids running around yelling, and Jesse and I loudly working nearby on Jesse’s homework. He just writes his little essay about the Edict of Nantes as if he were in a silent chamber.

Speaking of Abe. Our church meeting this past Sunday was held at our local tabernacle. As usual, we sat in the balcony section (because balcony = fun). I spent a good portion of the meeting wandering about outside with a rather grumpy Summer and Mette (and nearly had to wade into the nearby temple fountain when Mette hurled her bottle into it – almost out of my reach). Afterwards I asked everyone what the last speaker had said. They seemed disturbingly uncertain, however, Abe did tell me that he’d figured how to save himself and Jesse (who was sitting next to him) if orcs were to suddenly storm the balcony from the stairs. It was clever, involved some scaling of stained-glass, and included returning for more of us if we weren’t all dead by the time he got Jesse down. And then Penny asked what orcs were, and Abe gave her a perfectly Tolkien explanation, and she wondered if perhaps there might be some good orcs, and I said the only good orc was a dead orc – and everyone thought that was funnier than it really was. So . . . church wasn’t a total loss.


Lastly, we decided to go on a little family walk rather spur of the moment last night. We intended to make it to some very large rock that Mike was sure the kids would love to climb on, but rather quickly the day went from this:


To this:


Luckily Mike had the foresight to bring a few flashlights and, while we missed the big rock, we did make it safely back to our car (due mostly I’m sure to Anders singing a little made up tune that mostly went, “follow the light path not the dark path” and then repeated, as he swung his light about the trail in front of us).

And, before all of that I got a few pictures of kids in the car being both happy, sad, and . . . unwilling (Abe! Grrrr.).


And also these few photos. Summer loves Mike so much. She was already a little extra fond of him and then, she was such a tiny little soul when Mette was born – and I’d just had a c-section and wasn’t even supposed to lift the poor angel for weeks – so she quickly became very close to this dad of hers. I just keep looking at these pictures of him with her and thinking that I’m glad he’s my husband and the one taking care of these kids with me.


And then we were home. And Summer tried to shut me out. And Penny let me back in.


The end. Only – side note – that month between orange, twinkly Halloween lights going down and white and/or colorful, twinkly Christmas lights going up feels . . . rather barren. Perhaps we need a few twinkling . . . pilgrim and turkey lights???

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