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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Making Sure They're Fed - Part 2

image: freesamplefreak.com
TOTAL meltdown yesterday afternoon..... How do you keep your family fed? Mine is VORACIOUS, and no matter what I do, it's never enough. I don't buy fun things any more because anything I buy is gone in a day or two. I buy the same old stuff, but within days of buying it the cyclone hits, and before I know it, my kids start asking, "Mom, when are you going grocery shopping again." Ugh!

Is there a trick to this? Is there something I'm missing?

Let me paint you a little picture here....elementary school-aged son comes home has a cookie (I made a few extra from those we'll have for FHE last night), he eats a string cheese, a yogurt, a whole bagel and was headed for the pickle jar. UGH!

image: ediltd.com

image: termagon.com
At this point, watching them all eat up everything I'd just worked so hard to buy (and paid full price for), I FREAKED out! NOOOO!!!! It was all going to be gone within minutes the way they were going. It was like watching termites eat away at your house.

They are NOT starving, I'm SURE of it. They eat breakfast. They eat lunch, and they eat dinner. I provide a snack for them in the afternoon when they get home from school. They just eat because it's there, and when it's not there, they sit and complain. Ugh! This is NOT good.

image: en.wikipedia.org
I find myself, yet again, running the hamster wheel.

So, here's the next chapter....I blew up (it's been coming for a long time), went for a drive, and ended up in my husband's office. It was so nice to have a place to go to vent. He listened calmly and patiently (oh, how I love that man!). When he left for home, so did I. Oh, while I was there, my daughter called him and it sounded like they were looking for the missing ingredients for dinner--that's what sparked all of this....I now have a very specific menu for the week, and if they eat the main ingredients, we don't have dinner. Thankfully, he knew where the ingredients were--not in the place they should have been. SURPRISE!

Anyway, we got home, and the house was spotless. They had obviously worked hard, and I felt foolish. I love these kids and hate it when I come unglued about dumb things, but really, they need to be a little more courteous.

When I returned home, I started right in making dinner, after I exclaimed over and thanked them for cleaning the house. They each jumped in asking what they could do to help. During dinner they oohed and aahed over what they were eating (it wasn't over the top. Just nice little comments: "Oh, this is so good," etc.). After dinner, they each thanked me.

After dinner jobs were done without complaint--even though my husband, while he read to our youngest would insert things into the story like: "And when she went into the cafeteria, she saw that that TABLE WAS CLEARED and the dishes were PUT IN THE DISHWASHER" as a reminder for kids sitting in the room who hadn't jumped up to do their jobs yet. This really wasn't part of the story, but the three-year-old didn't mind. The 17-year-old, however, told him "that isn't creative, Dad."

During Family Home Evening, I asked for a few minutes at the end. I apologized and told them that I'd been trying to come up with a solution, so I asked them three things....Would they:

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1. Ask before they eat things.
2. Tell me when they use the last of something.
3. Throw empty containers away.

They agreed that they would.

After making my requests, I asked the kids if there was one thing they would like to snack on that I could attempt to keep a larger supply of, what would it be. The answer....fruit and veggies.

image: raisingzak.com

Not a problem. Actually, our fridge is practically overflowing with them right now. So, we're set.

So, for now, things are good. A little reminder about courtesy and gratitude, and we're back on the right track.

I'm not one to blow up very often--"reproving betimes" (D&C 121:43)--but maybe that's why it seems to go a little farther when I do. I'm hoping this trend stays for awhile or even becomes a habit. Boy, that'd be nice.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Yep, We've Resorted to That

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Okay, so yah, I did just get our pumpkins last night--at the grocery store, and no, my kids aren't completely solid on what they're wearing on Wednesday night. I'm SUPER lame at holidays and becoming lamer every year. What's wrong with me?

image: besthomeskitchen.com
I have a friend whose home looks absolutely GORGEOUS every holiday. It's always so fun and festive at her house. Why can't I jump on that bandwagon? Heaven knows I want to, I just can't seem to get a leg up.

I am, however, a really good pumpkin carver, and that will happen at our house tomorrow night as part of Family Home Evening.

We used to go to a really great pumpkin patch, but last year, when I told the kids we were going, they groaned. Ugh! What?! I need to leave the Grinches at home and take the little ones, but it looks like that'll be next year's fun. For this year, it's the grocery store. Really. Eight cents a pound. How could I say no to that.

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#7's going to be a "kitty cat." We have that costume already in our dress up box. YAY for simplicity. We're trying to get her just to say "cat" since her "k"s are all "t"s at this point in her language development. YIKES! #6, last I heard, wanted to be a "karate guy"--also in the dress up box. His mind keeps changing, though, so we shall see. I'm really pretty good at last minute costumes. #5 has visions of becoming Captain America. We went to Target to find a costume, but there wasn't one to be found. Do you think I can pull that one off before Wednesday? We shall see.

You know, it's funny. It used to be that my oldest kids had homemade costumes every year. There were three times I year when I really sewed--Easter, Christmas, and Halloween. I've become lamer as time's gone on. Help! How do I pull myself out of this? My younger kids deserve that mom too. I want to be her again.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Making Sure They're Fed

image: stackedstonefarm.blogspot.com
I'm reworking how I view grocery shopping. With coupons, to really work great deals, it's a matter of stockpiling. That's super great and so fun, but it's tough when the kids are trying to make lunch and lunch meat didn't make the list the week before, so they're out of luck and then it ends up not just being lunch meat but item after item doesn't exist in the house. Things get a little stressful around here when you can't find what you need.

image: savingandgiving.net
I guess a big part of our problem here is that a stockpile has to consist of a heck of a lot of stuff in order to build up. If I buy six boxes of granola bars, you'd better believe they'll be gone within the week. Frustrating!

So, here's my new plan.....

image: hotcouponworld.com
I decided that every week I'm going to buy the very same things. I created a four-week menu from those items. No recipe is repeated, but if I buy meatballs, for example, one week I'll make sweet and sour meatballs, the next week it'll be spaghetti and meatballs, the next is meatball subs, and then the last week will be Swedish meatballs. See how it works? I make sure that I buy what we eat and that we eat what we buy.

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I created a master grocery list that will be used week after week, and tonight, I went to WinCo because it, pretty consistently, has the everyday lowest prices. I bought every item on the list and used absolutely no coupons. Yes, it just about killed me to know that I was spending full price as I put things in my cart, but I had to have a base line to work from.

When I got home, I tracked how much each item cost and the size and brand of what I purchased.

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The result....I have found that I need to increase my grocery budget markedly. I already knew this, but I was betting each month on the fact that I'd use coupons and save quite a bit. I have saved a lot, but until I get ahead, it just isn't practical here.

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Here's how I'm going to get ahead.....Each week, when I get ready to go grocery shopping, I'm going to go to theobsessiveshopper.net. I'll click on my area and when it asks me to select my store, I'll take the "all in one" option. At the top of the list, I'll click "start." That will darken in (select) the entire list. I will also have my spreadsheet of prices open. As I cruise down the obsessive shopper list, I will compare the prices with those that I've recorded from WinCo. I'm only going to look at those items on my weekly grocery list. When I do find one of those items, and I see that it's got a lower price, I will click on it. This will make it lighter. When I'm all done, I click "shrink," and it will take only those items that I've clicked, and I will have a shopping list to print.

image: classycouponclipper.blogspot.com
Then it's a matter of locating the coupons for those items, and I'm on my way. The great thing is, if I don't want to have to run to every store in the area for those deals, I can just run to Walmart and do an "ad match." They will match the prices on most of the other store's advertised deals. Here's their policy.

I include this here because until fairly recently, the city I live in hasn't had a Walmart close enough to shop at on a frequent basis. Now, we have one that's a grocery store only, but considering that that's what I'm going there for, and considering this ad match policy, I can't complain. I had no idea that Walmart did this until my sister-in-law came into town and showed me the ropes. It was a very joyful thing!

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So, here's the best part of all....Although I will have all of that money budgeted for groceries, my plan is to not use it. As I shop the other stores' sales and use coupons, I'll keep from spending what I have on hand. That money can then be used for something else, and if I HAVE to buy things at regular price, I can, and it won't be such a stressful situation on a week when I find I don't have the time to coupon.

If you have any desire to see my spreadsheet of prices or my monthly menu, I'm happy to share. Just let me know.

Friday, October 26, 2012

What Matters

You know what I think I've decided......

I think it doesn't matter.

  • It doesn't matter if my house is a wreck.
  • It doesn't matter if I don't cook on a regular basis.
  • It doesn't matter if I keep my car spotless.
  • It doesn't matter if I have a wad of cash on hand at all times.

But what does matter....

What DOES matter is....

  • That I love my children.
  • That I'm there for them.
  • That I care enough to take them aside and talk through decisions with them when they're about to make a dumb one....or worse....when they've already made a dumb one, and I need to get them back on the right path.
  • That I laugh with them.
  • That I connect with them.
  • That I hug them and kiss them and put my arm around them everyday.
  • That I make them aware that they're my EVERYTHING.
  • That I take the time for them while they're still here with me.
  • That there's no question EVER that they're each in my heart.

THAT's what matters!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Opening Windows

Today's story is a true story. It's something that happened before I had children, and it's something I want my children to know. I want them to know it happened, and I want them to walk into the future of their lives intrepid, ready to do anything they are guided to do.

The Warden and I became pregnant with #1 back in our college days. We were right in the thick of school. We were originally going to wait to have children until we had received our degrees, but it became quite clear, because of some very strong feelings that would not leave me, that we were to have a child.

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Financially, we were at our lowest point. We had tried not to take out student loans, but it had become necessary right before this time. Of course, society makes you feel that you're an idiot for having children when you can't afford them, and this was a HUGE concern to us, but we also knew that we were being told from someplace we couldn't see, so we went for it trusting that we would be provided for and watched over.

I went in to see the doctor right before finals and was told that I was pregnant. "Was this planned?" was  the question. Well....yes? She proceeded to basically tell me what we, of the LDS faith, refer to as the "Word of Wisdom"--did I drink alcohol? did I smoke?....I was very happy to know that at least physically, I was ready to have a child, but I have to admit that I left the appointment with very mixed feelings.

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I wasn't as thrilled as I probably should have been just because my faith wavered. Were we really doing the right thing? Did we really feel those feelings? Were we really going to be able to take care of another person's needs? So many doubts.

I walked into the apartment and told the Warden the news. Being the more feet-on-the-ground kind of guy (thank goodness), he knew just what steps to take to provide for us. We got set up with WIC. If you don't know, WIC is the Women, Infants, and Children's program put on by the government. We also worked with the Oregon Health Plan for the insurance needed.

These were great blessings at this point in our lives and provided the means to our end. My feeling during all of this, though, was that this is only temporary. We'll be okay. This is just one way we can provide for this child.

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When we shared with others that we were expecting, we received a mixed reception. One person approached me with a lot of misgivings. Of course, I knew this person had our best interest at heart, but we were faced with the question, "How on earth are you going to do this?"

This was my chance to finally verbalize all that had been in my heart. I shared that I knew that we were doing the right thing. I couldn't deny the feelings I'd had. This child was meant to be and meant to be now. We were attempting to be obedient to what we felt God wanted for our family. I shared that I knew that if we obeyed, we'd be blessed. At this point, we had nothing; less than nothing, and I didn't know how it was going to happen, but it would.

About a month after this conversation, I received a phone call from this person and was told that there were a number of items we needed to pick up. Some mutual friends, who had been waiting for quite awhile to adopt a baby had heard that we were expecting. Those friends had gathered up all that they'd stockpiled for their own baby and had brought it to this person to give to us. They were going out to buy new when their time came, and many of these items were used.

We went to get the items about a week later. What a huge blessing! There, before us, was a swing, a bassinet, a carseat--most of the expensive items you'd need for a baby--as well as a few other things. Wow!

After the fact, I thought it was interesting that these items came to us as they did. Almost as a witness to both us and this person who'd been so concerned about our well being. We learned that not only would be okay, but we were being abundantly blessed.

We only lacked one thing...a crib. At that time, I was teaching at the English Language Study Center in Monmouth, Oregon, just off the campus of Western Oregon University. After class one day, one of my students from the United Arab Emirates approached me. "Miss, you need baby bed?" I couldn't make out what he was asking, so I asked him to repeat it over and over again. Finally, I figured it out. He explained that his brother, sister-in-law, and their new baby had been living with him for a short time and had since moved on to Minnesota. They had left their crib behind, and he, as a single guy, had no use for it. Could I use it for my new baby?

Wow! Heck yes, I could.

#3 and Salem's crib
The Warden and I drove over that afternoon and picked it up. Each of our children, but the last, slept in Salem's crib.

I hope that my children will read this post in the future. I want you to know that I know without any doubt that when we obey, we are blessed. Become attuned to those feelings in your heart, and learn to follow them obediently. Your steps will be guided, and you will be abundantly blessed--windows of heaven...windows of heaven.

image: http://antelopeislandpix.com

By the way, the couple that had been waiting to adopt received a phone call less than a month later and adopted a beautiful baby girl. I believe windows were opened for them as well.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Oh how I HATE being sick, but who doesn't, huh?

I really felt fine when I woke up this morning. I've gotten so I wake up at 4:30 when my first alarm goes off, and I climb back into bed for half an hour just to lay there an meditate until the next alarm goes off. I have my cell phone set across the room, so I have to get out of bed to get it. It sings the song from Nacho Libre--"I am singing at the party....."

So, I got up at 5, and went to my little corner of the world. I read Alma 59 this morning. I'm trying to take personal notes on each verse--how does this relate to me and my world? It's helped a lot. My enthusiasm for this time of the morning has increased hugely since I started doing this. I look forward to it when I go to bed at night.

Last night, before going to bed, #4, who had come home from school very quietly saying his stomach was hurting him and that he had "nasty burps," was in the bathroom throwing up. Ugh! He and I were the only ones in the family not to get the creeping crud. Everyone else had spent multiple days down and out with this illness.

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I was feeling rather smug last night that I had survived the onslaught. I was the only victorious one. I had done it! HaHaHaHaHa! Yah, right.

I got up, after my time alone, to get ready for the day, laid down on the bed for just a few minutes to talk to the Warden about the day, and UGH! My stomach started hurting like crazy....no warning.

Here's the deal....I'm supposed to be teaching preschool on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. Oh, how I hate that I'm leaving the teacher in the lurch. It's the worst feeling in the world. I laid here and battled with myself. I mean, I haven't actually thrown up yet. The sick feelings aren't persistent--they're just kind of wave-like at this point. I could still go. But....I, having seen how my kids have dealt with it, know how this one works. It starts with the stomach, goes to your lower intestines (if you know what I mean) and then the upper (again, I'm sure you get my drift). I illustrate like this because in the past three days, one of my children's favorite topics of conversation with me has been various graphic experiences with illness. ICK! I won't do that to you.

Here's the next problem....I have seen my children deal with this illness for three days in a row. It has taken each of them that amount that long to get back on their feet and feeling better. How can I possibly miss one more day of preschool? Maybe if I lay in bed and get it all out of my system today I'll be up and at 'em again by tonight or tomorrow morning.

Oh, how I hate being sick! How do working moms do this?

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Bathroom Floor is Cold

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The Warden and I retired at about 9:00 last night. I was beat. He stayed up for awhile checking out some of the videos for the 2013 curriculum for church for the Young Men's program. We decided that we would show one tonight for Family Home Evening. As he showed them to me, I would doze off. Yes, I'm that kind of wife....darn it!

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Each time I'd wake up, I'd hear voices (rather, a voice) down the hallway. It was always #6. He had had a nap earlier in the day, so falling asleep was a bit of a challenge. He shares a room with #4, and I knew with what I was hearing that #4 was not going to be getting any sleep for quite some time if things continued as they were.

I called #6 into the bedroom and explained that I was tired. I also shared that the one thing that was making it impossible to sleep was his voice that I could hear down the hallway. I told him this just wasn't going to work. He said he was talking to #4. I told him that I needed, for his safety, to keep him on the same floor of the house as me but were there other options of places upstairs where he could sleep.

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We discussed the laundry room, the bathroom, and the hallway. We discussed the pros and cons of each area, and he finally decided on the laundry room. He asked if he could use some extra blankets, and I gave him the thumbs up. He, very maturely--actually, this entire conversation was very mature--took the blankets and set about setting up a little nest for himself in the laundry room. He quickly learned, though, that the dog was asleep in one of the baskets of dirty laundry, and right now, the dog doesn't smell very good--long story. I HAVE to bathe her today. Needless to say, the laundry room quickly ceased to be an option.

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Because of the fear of being trampled by some wild needing-to-go-to-the-bathroom-in-the-middle-of-the-night sibling, the hallway also was no longer a choice. That left the bathroom as the final option--at least a child would find a light switch before he/she found him lying there. The bedroom was never taken away as a possibility as long as he was willing to go in, lay down, and be silent, but I think #6 felt that being given a choice was fun, so a choice other than the obvious was what he was going to make. Either that, or the idea of being silent was so distasteful that ANYTHING else would be better.

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He laid out his blankets, hollered "g'night" to us, and I fell peacefully back to sleep and remained that way until quite early this morning.

When I got up for the day, I went down the hallway and threw in a load of laundry. I peeked across the hall into the bathroom and found one blanket and a pillow on the floor but no boy. I walked down the hallway, and there he was, snoozing soundly in his bed.

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A few hours later, #6 woke and came into our bedroom. The Warden shared that shortly after I'd fallen asleep, #6 had returned to tell the Warden that he was heading to his bed. #6 added, "The bathroom floor is hard and cold."

Gotta love those natural consequences!

Heroes of the Day! Yes, I Can Have More than One

I wrote this post back on Friday. Here it is Monday. Tells you about life right now, doesn't it? I do name names in this post--something I don't do very often, so if you're looking to be offended by something I do, please don't read this post. The kindness of these women was just too great not to mention them personally, and I did ask each of their permission to do this.

image: http://truthworks.org
Things are non-stop around here. As I shared in the previous post, "Life moves pretty fast....." I'm learning that I really do need to stop and look around every so often. Part of that "looking around" translates into more than just observing; it needs to become observing with a grateful heart.

A week ago, I was just plain overwhelmed. I've written about that quite a bit lately, and I also shared that part of that feeling is brought on by people in my family not being able to find things. This is a huge source of frustration to me.

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With little ones constantly in the house, there is really very little time to get to the areas that I need to for as long as I'd like to to get things into a condition that I feel is functional. I'll work for a little while, get called away, and not be able to get back before someone else has helped take that area back to its original state--to one degree or another. This has been the hamster wheel of my life lately.

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Everything in my house really does have a home. It's just that with so many homes and so many more things being added to those homes so frequently, and so many not remembering or not caring that things have homes, it's all rather chaotic. It is difficult to stay on top of it. It's just one more thing that makes it nearly impossible to stop and look around in this fast-paced life.

About a week ago, I was sitting pondering on this problem and trying to come up with an answer. I don't believe in whining for whining's sake. Whining is only a symptom of an upcoming solution.

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Since school started, I've had very little time to myself. I get up super early in the morning in order to have that time, but I arranged with a friend to trade off Fridays. I had her son last week; she had mine this week. In preparation for his absence, of course, my list of what-should-I-do-while-I-have-no-children started to grow. Right up there on the top of the list was "muck out the house."

I know, from working with my children, that many hands make light work, but I couldn't keep them all home for the day--what would that teach them? If your house is a mess, stay home from work? No, I had to find someone else who was "like family," who I could trust enough to venture out to my garage, who would help me clean it up, and who would still be my friend after all was said and done.

I put out an invitation to a few people. To be completely honest, I was VERY nervous. Was this a ridiculous thing I was asking of people?

I was shocked when people started to respond in a positive manner.

Well, yesterday was the day. Shaila and Darilyn showed up first. As I opened the door, they were introducing themselves to each other. I love it when my friends get to know each other. I really know some amazingly fantastic people.

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They attacked the book shelves and the linen closet while I worked on organizing the laundry room shelves. When they were finished, there was an empty shelf in each place. I LOVE empty shelves. It makes me feel so in control. We had such a fun conversation together while we cleaned.

image: en.wikipedia.org
Shortly after they left, Deanna showed up at the door. It gave me just enough time to figure out what my highest priority was--the garage. I took her out to the garage. You know, it's not just anybody that you can show the messiest area in your house and still feel loved and valued--Thank you, Deanna, for being that kind of person! We worked for a little while and Lisa showed up through the garage door. I was so happy to see her!

One thing I put on the invitation was that I needed someone who would pick up #7 from school and keep her for just a little while. I had a couple friends offer this as they would have their own little ones at home during that time. Around noon, Caitlin brought #7 home--happy and fed. Wonderful! It was so great not to have to worry about her during all of this.

I asked #7 if she wanted some soup. She said she did, so we all walked in and had some soup and ate apples and just sat around and chatted. It was so great, and so needed.

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As we ate, Tonya and Toni came--Toni walked in carrying a paper shredder. I had expressed my concern over my paper pile, and Toni had answered my cry for help. Thank you! We continued our gab session for a little while. Honestly, heavenly!

When we finished eating, I set Toni to the task of the desk and filing system. This is how much I trust this woman--she has been much more like a sister to me over the years. Paper is my hardest thing, but she knew just what she was doing. She started stapling, filing and organizing my biggest phobia....Next to my fear of the dentist is my fear of paper. It's true. Funny thing is...her husband's in dental school.

I had asked #7 after the soup if she was going to come out and help us. She said she would, but as we proceeded downstairs to the family room to head to the garage, she curled herself up on the couch and there she stayed. She was asleep in a matter of minutes and stayed that way until everyone was gone and the kids started arriving home from school.

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Tonya, Lisa, Deanna, and I went to the garage and started tackling it. I have random boxes of stuff that make me crazy. Thank you, Tonya, for helping me with my crazy boxes. There are four boxes left. We filled the back of my car full of items to recycle immediately as we knew they were going to be tossers. My garage is now absolutely lovely and the items are all recycled!

Deanna and Lisa set to work on a bunch of clothes. They took crates and marked them with sizes and folded everything worth keeping. It looks so nice!

When my elementary schoolers got home, I asked them to find their soccer gear for their Saturday morning games. We have to do this the night before because there's ALWAYS at least one item that goes missing, and we're all stressed out by the time we get to the first game.

#6 told me that he still hadn't been able to find the shin guard he'd misplaced last week. He was basically setting me up for some stress. I told him to go look in the "soccer box" in the garage. He went to the garage door, opened it, and exclaimed, "Wow!" I was sitting at my desk with my back to him. 

Without even going to find his shin guard, he came running back, jumped on my lap, threw his arms around my neck and said, "It's gorgeous out there! You did a great job!"

YAY! Great happiness! The shin guard was in the soccer box. It had been found in a box in the garage. Another YAY!

Well, I guess you can blame this long post on the fact that I'm taking time to "stop and look around." I want to thank my heroes of the day--Darilyn, Shaila, Caitlin, Deanna, Lisa, Tonya, and Toni. Ladies, I really can't thank you all enough! You've eased a very large burden from my shoulders. Thank you!

Friday, October 19, 2012

"Life Moves Pretty Fast....

image: captainsdead.com

...If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."  --Ferris Bueller

There was one other, very sweet, tender mercy yesterday.....

As I drove #7 home from preschool, a red van passed me. It looked a lot like one of #1's best friends, but knowing that that friend is in college now, I knew I must have been mistaken.

We got home, I got the kids settled at the table for lunch, and the doorbell rang.

One of the kids answered it, and there was a bit of a hubbub as the kids greeted the visitor.

I walked around the corner, and there was #1's friend. To be honest, I think part of my down-ness has been compounded by missing #1. It was SO GREAT to see this young woman!

She walked in to hand me some ice cream she had purchased for me. #1 had once told her how much I love Blizzards, so it's become some kind of tradition for her to bring one with her when she comes to the house. So SWEET!

If you read this, Anna, I hope you know you're welcome at my house any ol' time--ice cream or no.

I gave her a hug, we spoke for just a moment, and she was gone. I feel honored to have had her drop by. For just a moment #1 didn't seem so far away.

In hindsight, I wish I would have, after she left, taken a moment and seen her visit for what it really was. I think my down day would have ended right then and there. Life just moves too fast. I need to take a little time to be grateful--to not overlook the wonderful things that surround me.

Everyday, I pick a "hero of the day." For yesterday, Anna, you were it. Thank you for taking a little time out for me.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pulling Out of the Funk

It was a tough day. Everything was dragging me down. I think too much, and at times, I care too much about what others think about me. All it takes is one look, and I'm off and wondering what I did to tick that person off.

It's funny, but now that I'm over it and look back through the day, I can see that there were a dozen or so little tender mercies trying to pull me out of my funk.

*   #7, out of the blue, walked across the room, put her head gently on my arm and said, "Mommy, Julie, I love you."

*   I turned on Facebook at one point and found this quote:
""I encourage you to discover who you really are. I invite you to look beyond the daily routine of life. I urge you to discern through the Spirit your divinely given capacities." Richard G. Scott

This is a HUGE part of my struggle. I'm trying to be everything to everybody. Honestly, I don't think this is wrong. I feel like I am supposed to be doing these things. Others might think I'm crazy to do so much, but when an opportunity comes along, I'm very careful to listen to my gut. I deny things that I don't feel good about. For me, and my personality, I need to do this much so that I remember to lean on the Lord. I can't get too comfortable, or I forget to lean.

*   After I saw this quote, I ventured to another part of Facebook and found another mom of many who was struggling. I was sad to know she was having a tough time too, but so glad not to be alone and unusual in my feelings.

image: www.scenicreflections.com
*   Then, the biggie....I was supposed to go to a stake leadership training tonight. Right before I left, my daughter (#3) reminded me that she had a choir concert tonight. I went ahead and headed to the church with full intention of going to my meeting, but as I sat there, I knew that I needed to be with her, so I texted her, told her I was on my way, ran home, and we dashed off to the high school. On our way, as we passed a restaurant, I shared with her that we WOULD be going to get a piece of pie together after the concert no matter what. We left the concert a bit early--after she'd performed--and hurried off to the restaurant. I had a meeting at 8:30, so we had a time limit on our fun. As we ate, I asked her how her day was, and she asked me about mine. Hers was good; mine, not so good. She wanted to know why, but instead of telling her, I said, "How about instead of dwelling on all that's wrong, we sit here and count our blessings." So we did. As we did so, my life took a complete 180. Suddenly life became perfectly blissful, wonderful, and blessed. I can't even remember what I was unhappy about before the pie adventure. Who cares if everybody hates me....There are so many things that are good that SO far outshine all of the garbage.

image: journeyofjapan.wordpress.com
*   On the way to my 8:30pm meeting, I sang "Count Your Blessings" out loud all the way there. A few words really stuck in my head...."Do not be discouraged God is over all." I used to sing this as I rode my bike on the streets of Japan back on my mission.

*   As soon as I got seated in the room, I was asked to play the piano for an opening song. I haven't played in such a long time. I'd forgotten how therapeutic playing the piano is for me. I could choose any song I wanted to play. I chose, "I Know that My Redeemer Lives." I played it fairly well--miraculous. The feeling as I sang and played further solidified how blessed my life is. What do I have to complain about, really?

image: liccafansubs.blogspot.com
*   Just now, my daughter (#1) posted this:
""Whatever comes, cannot alter one thing. If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside. It would be easy to be a princess if I were dressed in a cloth of gold, but it is a great deal more of a triumph to be one all the time when no one knows it."

There is the last tender mercy for the night. So glad for the little personalized messages from heaven. Glad to have the reality check that He's still there, and still cares.

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