Jul 20, 2014

The Better Part

I was looking through some old drafts that I never posted and found this blog entry I wrote when Parker was just a newborn. For some reason I forgot or decided not to post it.  After looking at the tender moment in the picture. . . it startled me as I read the first line.  "every single room in my house was a mess . . ."  Long gone are the feelings of wishing my house was cleaner.  Did I end up with a clean house that day . . . who cares.  Oh what I would do to hold that little newborn of mine again.  He was so small, so happy to be here and so beautiful.  I decided to post this as a reminder to me . . .  remember the better part.    

It makes me think of the poem cross-stitched on my Aunt Lisa's wall when I was a teenager. . . 
Cleaning and scrubbing 
Can wait till tomorrow
Babies grow up
We've learned to our sorrow
So quiet down cobwebs 
Dust go to sleep
I'm rocking my baby
Cause Babies Don't Keep!

When I took this picture, every single room in my house was a mess. No exception.

I just caught them looking at each, talking to each other.

Gazing at each other totally oblivious to everyone else.

It was a beautiful moment.

A Little Lesson
I'm so glad I stopped cleaning and picked up the camera.


Jul 16, 2014

Cool


Clara keeps us cool at dinner by whipping up green shakes for us on a regular basis.
She's been taught how to make those nutritional shakes most of her life.
But after a fun "how to" session with the achievement day leaders,
 it all of a sudden became pretty cool to make those frothy drinks for us night after night.

A Little Lesson
Thank you Achievement Day leaders for making cool green shakes cool.
Now here are some suggestions for future lessons...
weeding the garden
practicing the piano
Saturday chores
playing with younger brother
So far these activities have not reached cool status yet.



Jul 12, 2014

It All Happens in the Clouds


Our youth activity was going to be held at our place on Tuesday evening so I quickly zipped over to the church to pick up a few things for the activity with my six year old travelling companion Benjamin.

As we drove into the empty church parking lot...

Benjamin:  Mom where are all the cars?
Mom:  It's not Sunday honey, nobody is here.
Benjamin:  except Jesus.
Mom:  what?
Benjamin:  Jesus, He lives at the church.
Mom:  Are you sure about that?
Benjamin:  Of course.  He also lives in heaven with Heavenly Father, but he comes down to be in the church when we are there, so we can be close to Him.  As he travels through the clouds he becomes invisible.  That's why we don't see Him.  But he's here.  Then when he goes back home he is normal again.  It all happens in the clouds Mom.

A Little Lesson
Over the years our children have come up with wonderful ideas of how things work in the big picture.  I never question. The older I get the more I tend to believe they are probably not too far off the mark.

Jul 11, 2014

Dear Mom


Dear Mom,

I understand you might be a little frustrated.  When I broke your violin-playing-music-figurine from your childhood I was just trying to play with it gently.  Honest. It's strange how it's been in storage all these years and so soon after you  brought it out I broke it.  Weird. It sure was neat watching it twirl around like that to that pretty song.  Incidentally,  my ability to climb up on things is coming along nicely, wouldn't you say?  I know you love me so much and this is just one of those moments we will laugh about hysterically when I am in my twenties.  I promise.  Until then, hang in there mom, only sixteen more years before I leave for my mission.

                  
                                Love, 
                                Parker



Jul 10, 2014

It Bites!

More than our first car,
more than our second car,
more than my church mission to Japan,
more than Craig's church mission to the Bahamas,
more than our whole family flying to Australia in first class. . .

is the combined cost of my teenager's braces.

A Little Lesson
They don't even have very crooked teeth, just lop-sided bites.
Yes, sometimes you have bite the bullet and pay for lame things like braces, drain tiles & alternators.
Frequently I had to bite my tongue when I would see them eat candied popcorn, toffee and caramels.
( 2 years is a long time! )
The day Jordan went to the ortho to get them off was a bit of a nail-biter,was it going to be worth it?

Check out that new $8000 bite!
Awesome ...I didn't want to take my family to Australia anyway.

Jul 9, 2014

Sharing


 Parker and his good buddy Carter at the Canada Day Ward Picnic. . .
   "Carter do you want to play with my football?"
 "It's super fun, my big brother Jordan and I play all the time!"
"Actually yep, nope, I'm just going to take this back now, I've decided against that idea..."


"What?"
"I'm not even two yet.  I'm not even going to think about sharing until I'm four."


A Little Lesson:
Is it possible for the caboose of a family to ever learn to share?
Even when all odds are against them?
When tired mothers tell all other offspring to give them WHATEVER will make them stop screaming . . . while driving to basketball, dance, swimming, seminary, school and church?
Hmmmmmm



Jul 8, 2014

Lost

Emily challenged her big brother to a push-up and sit-up competition.  
She lost.  


A Little Lesson
I won't say how badly she lost, but I will say three weeks 
of all-you-can-eat-Netflix doesn't do anything for your abs.

(Parker couldn't resist getting in on the action.)

Word

I know, I know, word clouds are yesterday's news, but I still think they're pretty awesome.
You can click here and do one for yourself for free online.
Each of these words represent something I love and enjoy or something I once loved and enjoyed.
What beautiful words these are.

A Little Lesson
But let's be honest, there is usually another whole set of words that can also describe us . . . 

how on earth did my kitchen get so messy?    d i s c o u r a g e d
what do you mean you didn't eat any of your lunch?   a n g r y 
why is gaining weight so much easier than losing it?   f r u s t r a t e d 
are my kids really going to fight about this?  d i s a p p o i n t e d 
did I honestly just spend that much money at Costco?  e x h a u s t e d
did my kid really just smell the dinner I put in front of him?  f e d   u p 


What we choose to think about will always make all the difference.

Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly . . .
D&C 121:45

Jul 5, 2014

Nature


It's in our nature to have a full calendar with plans weaving in and out of every chunk of time.
Last night it was sprinkling and cloudy so we loaded the kayaks and headed to the lake. 
We didn't worry about what we were wearing or what we were doing, 
we just dropped everything and got in the car.  


The beach was empty but we filled it quickly with laughter, squeals of delight and the odd quarrel.
Good Times.

A Little Lesson
There are about five Albert Einstein quotes that I love and suspect 
have literally shaped how I look at the world.

This is one of them.


Amen to that.

Jul 4, 2014

For the Love of Pete!


If you ever call my house and I don't answer.  Cut me some slack.

A Little Lesson:
This is the THIRD time Parker has covered himself in handfuls of vaseline from our vaseline tub.  If you're wondering, it takes approximately two hours of bath time, and two rolls of toilet paper, to bring Parker back to a semi-normal state.  It is a reflection of three truths. 1. Parker loves the feel of vaseline all over his body.  2. Parker has too much time on his hands.  3.  I still have some child-proofing to do.

Jan 9, 2013

Count on It!

Here is Clara making a snowball back when we had that  ONE day of snow we had over the entire holidays.  
Today it will be TWO weeks since Christmas and it's starting to feel like the decorations have been up too many days.  Let the take down marathon begin.

Benjamin is sadly playing Lego on his own because Clara's best buddy Reed is over and THREE'S a crowd!
Today I bought Craig FOUR new desperately needed dress shirts for work. When I showed him my fabulous find, he announced he had ordered three online three days earlier and forgot to mention it.


A Little Lesson
You can count on the fact that no matter what life deals us there are always two ways of looking at it . . .
Geographically speaking . . .
I'm sure Hawaiians and Haitians alike would be grateful for even one hour of snow.
Mothers in North Korea, would probably love the freedom to put up and take down decorations from any religious celebration they choose.
Most little boys in Nigeria would probably be delighted to spend the afternoon alone with a drawer full of Lego.
And the average wage of a husband in Sierra Leone per day is $1. Owning seven new dress shirts would be like winning the lottery.

The glass is surley half full.  Count on it.

Jan 6, 2013

Floored

Someone asked me the other day . . . is he rolling over yet?  I replied in slow motion as my brain started thinking in overdrive "nooooo heeeeee's nooooooot mmmmmmmmm"  It occurred to me this baby of ours, if you can believe it has never, yes, never been placed on the floor!  What!?!  He's over three months old!
All our other babies spent countless hours down there while we sat next to them, cooing, filming, clapping, talking and making ridiculous "getting the baby's attention" sounds.  Oh we have plenty of reasons for this oversight.

1. Our house doesn't have one square inch of carpet.  (not including the stairs of course, but laying him on the stairs seemed rather stupid.)

2. Our house is full of unruly dogs. (sort of)

3. There are twelve arms flapping around all over this house just craving for a few minutes of snuggle time with this baby rockstar.

And so folks, this is the FIRST picture of Parker Thomas laying on the floor.

Incidentally, in the fourteen minutes he spent on the floor, he did not roll over, and I had three people enter the room and say "What's he doing on the floor!!! I'll take him!"

A Little Lesson

I'm not reading the What to Expect the Toddler years, or surfing new mother websites or forums.  Nope.  When I run into a new mom holding a small infant anywhere, and there are a few minutes to converse, I quickly ask what they're worried about to make sure I'm not missing anything too big, as I try to shuffle my brewd around town.  The other day I did this and was reminded from a lovely new mom stranger about the good ol' vitamin D drops for babies in the winter time.  Whoops.  It's all good.

I was floored to find out from the nurses in the hospital, when I had Parker, the newest and latest for the new mother is:
1. we no longer swadle babies (we don't!!!)
2. when it's time to start feeding them solid food, start with red meat not rice cereal (what!)
3. There were a few more but I think I started tuning her out.

We used to let babies sleep on their stomachs, ride shotgun in the car without a seatbelt, and apparently pencils used to really have real lead in them.  It's a miracle we are all still here!



Jan 4, 2013

It's That Time of Year


If
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master,
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

This is my go to poem.  I think about it when I am setting goals.  I think about it when I have a big decision to make.  I think about it when I am tempted to loose it. It's my all time favourite poem ever.  My grade seven teacher Mrs. Pinegar had our whole class memorize it and recite it as a class, for our grade seven graduation.  I can still recite about half of it.  It's January and it's on my mind.  Thank you Mrs. Pinegar.

A Little Lesson
Memorizing things as a child is a brilliant gift you give to your future self.  I used to allow my kids the opportunity to reduce the time away from confiscated items due to sibling unkindness by memorizing awesome quotes and scriptures.  I bringing that parenting strategy back.

Jan 3, 2013

Contagious


Our house is healthy again, so Craig took the older kids out to the movies.  When they all came home they entered the kitchen as if they hadn't seen the baby for three weeks.  It had only been three hours.  I love that.



A Little Lesson

Star -struck, captivated, enthralled, smitten, entranced, bewitched  - these people are just plain crazy about their little brother.  It's contagious.  We just seem to keep giving it to each other!


Jan 2, 2013

Occupied


I found it.  It was right there all along, but I didn't know I could just take it and chomp on it whenever I liked!  It's so awesome. I can even switch hands.  Sometimes my mom's really busy and I start to get hungry.  It doesn't fill me up or anything but man does it keep me occupied until my mom is ready to nurse.  So cool.

A Little Lesson
Around here it is an essential skill to know how to keep yourself happily occupied.
As I write this . . .
Jordan is gutting his closet of unwanted clothes.
Emily is doing a remake of an Adelle song in the recording studio.
Clara is putting Barbie stickers on her new camper
Benjmain is harvesting a garden on Smurfs.
And now Parker is inhaling his right hand.

Dec 30, 2012

Good Night



A Little Lesson
 Having a newborn during this Christmas season has made me 
reflect over and over and over again about the literal birth of our Savior.  

I put Parker in an extra cozy flannel sleeper, swaddle him in a soft clean fleece blanket,
 turn on quiet  Christmas music and rock him to sleep, where I will then lay him in a bassinet, 
turn off the light, check the heat, turn on the monitor, kiss him one more time on the forehead, 
say goodnight and close the door.  

And his name shall be called. . .

Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God,
the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

And yet
 he was born under the stars, placed upon hey, and surrounded by animals.

The son of God came quietly to the earth, to quietly, one by one, save us all.

Dec 29, 2012

6 Days A Week, 52 Weeks a Year



He took Christmas eve, Christmas day and boxing day off.  Except Sundays, he pretty much plays basketball every other day of the year.  The past two days he was invited to play up with the seniors at a tournament in the states, and of course there is a practice tomorrow at 10 am.

A Little Lesson
Right now, Jordan's ultimate dream would of course be to one day play in the NBA. His perhaps more realistic dream would be to play college ball. If someone said to me the chances of a white, 6'2" Canadian boy making it to the NBA are essentially 0%,  I would say that's okay.  One,  it doesn't matter if you make it to the very top.  I believe the skill of developing a talent, honing a skill, reaching beyond the mark, and pushing yourself to excellence is a life changing skill that can be used in every future area of your life whether or not you actually use that original skill directly.  
Two. . . S t e v e   N a s h.

Dec 28, 2012

Traditions

We have a handful of traditions at Christmas time that my kids look forward to. Some are formal, while others are a little more casual, some are fun while others teach a spiritual message. 
here are a few . . .
late night steamed egg nog and couch chats
opening pajamas on Christmas Eve
family knock and drop
gingerbread house with Grandma
dressing up and acting out the nativity with the Milads
advent calenders on the fridge

and a few more . . .
In our old house we used to have a full staircase where the kids would gather at the top of the stairs as they each woke up Christmas morning.  One by one they would arrive still half asleep, waiting together, giggling about what was to come.  Sometimes we would leave them there a little extra time, before we called them down into the living room because they were so wonderfully kind and fun with each other.  Now, living in a rancher, we still hold on to the tradition with our two stairs . . .barely.


Before the mountain of shiny wrapped gifts are opened, we hand out the figurines of the nativity and each of us get to share a little part of the story to remind us what we are really doing when we share gifts with each other.  This year Benjamin got baby Jesus, (a coveted gift) and  he decided to share it with his little brother Parker, because after all. . . he was a baby just like Jesus.  My eyes welled up with tears it was such a lovely gesture by my five year old.


A Little Lesson
We forgot one of my favourite traditions this year.  Things were busy and we just simply forgot.  At the beginning of December when we put all the nativitiy sets out, (about seven of them) I usually put them out without the baby Jesus figurine.  This exercise reminded us that all season we are waiting for him to be born.   My little kids would anxiously wait until Christmas morning to finally see Him, and they would shout "He's Here!!!"  running from nativity to nativity seeing the baby Jesus in the arms of Mary or laying peacefully in a manger.   It used to warm my heart that that was the focus on Christmas morning was "finding Jesus" instead of good ol Santa Claus.  When I realized we had forgotten to do this tradition, it was too late.  I reflected on the importance of writing down not just the memories we create as families but the traditions, big or small, that unite and bind us together.  

Dec 27, 2012

Man Down (make that men)

It started late on Christmas eve with Grandpa, then Clara, Emily and I went next followed by Benjamin, then Auntie Shauna and finally Craig. Jordan and Grandma dodged the bullet.  Christmas afternoon in our house was very, very quiet as everyone was nestled sound in their beds  Weirdly enough, half of the gang was reeling with symptoms of food poisoning and the other half, symptoms of strep-like soar throats achy skin and fevers,  It all landed within a handful of hours of each other and there were clearly two separate camps.  One camp needed bowls and close proximity to flushing toilets and the other camp needed tylenol, heating blankets and lemon tea. Fun fun fun.  If you're reading this and feeling sorry for us, thank you, it was awful.  

Thank goodness we played hard the few days leading up to Christmas morning . . .

a little charades
some ornament painting


some gingerbread house building



it was all so fun until . . . well . . . it all went sideways . . it was awful.

A Little Lesson
Getting sick stinks.  Having everyone in the household getting sick really stinks.  Everyone sick on Christmas day . . .well it sure helps you appreciate that we spend most of our year feeling healthy.

Dec 22, 2012

About Face

(Parker in his carseat)

I face each new day with a smile, because this little darling likes to sleep all night long.  His bassinet faces my side of the bed, so sometimes I still check to see if he is breathing he likes to sleep so long!  I even have time to put my face on when I wake up and start the day, before he even stirs.  But let's face it, I'm not really doing that. We do realize, we might have to face the facts that 10-week-old babies generally don't sleep nine, ten, or eleven-hour nights, and that this glorious habit might be coming to a jarring halt sometime soon.  Perhaps you will need to meet this little bundle face to face before you believe he capable of such feats.

A Little Lesson
Because he sleeps, I function.
Each week I drive around the world and then back again.
He is with me every tiring step of the way. . .

and let me just say. . .

man oh man, I never tire of looking at my little travelling companion's  . . . beautiful face!

Dec 21, 2012

One More


Yep.

A Little Lesson
I get asked a lot "Was Parker a surprise?"
The answer is no.
When I made these stockings, Clara was a baby, and I thought perhaps we will have one more or maybe even two.  But I don't like to sew.  So I made one more blank one and shut it down.  As you can see, Benjamin is still waiting for a picture of the nativity scene to be embroidered into his stocking and Parker's stocking is still uncut pieces of fabric in my sewing closet. 

I was never a mom who said I am going to have ____ children.  I've always peferred the one by one approach. Parker came a little later than we expected, but we did in fact, if you can believe it, want to have one more after little Benjamin. Boy oh boy are we sure glad that we did!  This bright-eyed little bundle of joy, bursts our hearts everytime we lay eyes on him. 

Dec 20, 2012

Handful of Minutes

Parker was sound asleep in his bassinet.
Jordan was busy learning at school.
Dad took everything that makes noise in our house out for a hike in the woods.

A Little Lesson
Never underestimate, the renewing power, for a mother's soul, as a handful of minutes, of 
peace and quiet. 

Dec 19, 2012

I'm Easy

I'm okay with it.
I'm the fourth child.
It's the first snow of the year.
Wearing a pair of my sister's pink gloves doesn't bother me.
Not one bit.

A Little Lesson
Flexibility.
It's one of life's greatest assets. 

Dec 18, 2012

Make up

Thank you nice lady at the Mac store.  
I make up beds. I make up stories.  I'll even help you to make up your mind.
But I don't really do make up.
I tried to tell her she didn't need it.
She gently reminds me she is not the same person I was in grade seven.
(I've never liked make up.)
She likes make up. 
She tells me she is the last grade sevener in the province of 
British Columbia to be allowed to wear make up.
(Really, the whole province?)
I get it.
So I went to the big guns.
The professionals.
Thank you nice lady at the Mac Store.
A Little Lesson
She's right.  I naturally steer my kids in the same direction I travelled when I was their age because that is what I know.  That is what is comfortable.  Let it be known, I am willing to turn left and even right off my comfortable beaten path.  Just let me stop once and a while to ask for help, and get some directions.  Thank you nice lady at the Mac Store.

Dec 17, 2012

Lucky

Jordan's team in the stands waiting to play their long time rivals
Vancouver College in the tournament finals.

Jordan spends most of his time, when he is away from home, with some of the nicest boys you could ever meet.  This group of boys is Jordan's basketball team.  They pretty much do everything together.  They are not just teammates but very good friends.  Believe it or not, this bright group of boys also sit together in honours math and honours English and take their mostly straight-A report cards very seriously. Why are they all in shirts and ties?  A place on this very competitive team is one of respect. Just as the players in the NBA arrive and leave their games in their best suites, so do the boys of this championship team. As their coach puts it "they are not just training to become great basketball players but training to become great men."   They are a special group of polite, considerate, fun, smart, and athletic boys that I consider myself a very lucky mom to have them as my son's best friends.

A Little Lesson
Because we are not able to pick our children's friends, we must wait each year to see who they will call their buddies. When I was a young mom of toddlers and babies, I'll admit, the idea of my children heading off to school one day and getting into the "wrong crowd" only to dismiss everything I had ever taught them, sometimes terrified me.  I've come to appreciate over the years that although I believe friends play a critical role in shaping and molding who we become in life, for good and bad,  likes attract.  Kids with self esteem are attracted to other kids with self esteem.  So although I can't pick my kid's friends, I can however do my best to build them up, give them lots of love and support and do the best I can to help them spread their wings. . . and of course cross my fingers and pray my little heart out.

Dec 16, 2012

Thank you Parker for sitting quietly in your bouncy chair so that I could finally finally finally finish decorating the tree. Days between starting the tree and finishing:  9

A Little Lesson
Christmas with a newborn . . . keep the bar low.

I am days away from no longer getting to use the term newborn.  
He will simply become our little baby.
I'm trying to drink up every minute of it.
Okay Shell, wipe the tears, pull it together.

Dec 14, 2012

I Cried Today

I cried today.  I cried when I heard the terrible news on the radio that there were possibly dozens of children killed in a school shooting somewhere in Connecticut. I thought of the moms and dads racing from their cars towards the school, pleading with God under their breath, don't let it be mine.   I cried when I saw the video footage on CNN of kids being escorted out of the school by swat teams.  I thought of all those little children squished into corners and bathrooms and under desks and tables, hiding and wondering if the bullets they were hearing, echoing in the hallways, were going to hurt them.  But most of all, I cried when I walked by my little kindergartner's bedroom and thought of all the moms and dads who were coming home today to empty bedrooms where toys and clothes and books were left behind.  They didn't know they were saying good bye to their sweet little five-year-olds for the last time this morning.  I am heart-broken for those parents.  I prayed and prayed for those poor families that they would be comforted in their great suffering today and the days that will follow.  The world experienced a terrible, terrrible day today.

A Little Lesson
I wish there was lesson I could learn from this horrific day, so that my little elementary-aged children could be safe from such a senseless tradgedy.  Or somehow there was a lesson to teach me how to make sure this never happens to our family.  But there is not.  Instead we can only hope and pray each day we will be able to endure the experiences that come our way.  So I hope and pray . . .each day.

A B+ Day



 My three younger kids are out of school and on Christmas holiday.  In an attempt to NOT have three young people glued to some form of technology on this stormy rainy day, I made some soft, squishy playdough.

  It brought literally hours and hours of squishy fun.  It even prevented an unexpected argument between my two compadres. Check it out . . .

Clara reaches in to take little brother's ornament.
Benjamin almost freaks out . . .
remembers . . . "hey I'm playing with playdough"
"I'm over it."


Their masterpieces were creative and clever.



A Little Lesson
Sometimes I give my day an actual grade . . . in my head.
Like laundry D, dishes B+ and one-on-one kid time A- and so on.
A self-evaluation so to speak. . . I know weird.
Instead of saying Shell you're so lame for not doing laundry I say - Whoo we're gettin a D in laundry today!
It keeps it light so I don't take myself too seriously.  Hey, each day somethings going to get a D. . . move on!
In terms of my kids filling time in an empty afternoon, not including homework, practicing or chores, 
it goes something like this.

Grade C-/D:  When kids spend the afternoon on a computer game or watching copious amounts of episodes on netflix. 

Grade C+:  When kids spend the afternoon doing something productive or creative on the computer.
starfall/webkinz/typing tutor/other websites I can't remember their names

Grade B+:  When kids spend the afternoon making or doing something with their hands.
art/painting/playdough/Lego/clay/paper planes/embroidery/baking/planting/

Grade A+:  When kids are reading an awesome novel (not Captain Underpants) or running free on the property building fortresses and kingdoms with plots and props and forgetting to come in to eat lunch because they are having so much fun
. . . ah summer I miss you.