"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

because their mothers knew it

"When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling that what happened in congresses?"
 -- Neal A. Maxwell

I made the mistake of opening up my calendar this morning to reveal the last three weeks of summer before school begins.

I got that overwhelming "roller coaster feeling" again.

That ominous,

tick - tick - tick 

upward into a looming senior year for a first child, accompanied by a heart pumping

have i taught enough - have i taught enough - have i taught enough.

I just know it's followed by that gut seizing here - we - go whoosh of here - THEY - go, as big things send each one out on their own successively quicker than I can wrap my brain around.

 I've reminisced much lately on an observation made in India of the amazing women I met there and also some of the perspective reflected on them.

Without exception, one of the first questions asked in conversation was always, "What do you do?" to which I would answer that I was engaged in raising seven children.

I would return with, "And what do you do?" and always, her face would light up and she would say, "I, also, am a Mother!"

Our guide who'd become like family, took us on a tour of a site riddled with religious symbol and statue upon statue or god and goddess-like replica. Each had a name, a story, a back ground. He knew them all.

"How many are there?" I asked.

"At this site?" he said, "200 or more but within the various religious sects, innumerable. Within my own, about 500."

"Do you know about them ALL?" I asked astounded as he nodded affirmatively.

I silently marveled at his extensive knowledge and couldn't resist asking, "Did you receive some sort of religious training? Do they teach this in school? How in the world, did you acquire such a vast understanding? It's simply amazing!"

To which he tilted his head and looked at me a little funny, then smiled …

"My mother taught me!" then a brilliant grin, "And my wife teaches my children!"

I let that wash over me for a minute, feeling a companionably silent admiration for a woman I had not met but felt suddenly analogous to.

"That's a big job," I said more in reflection of overwhelm than observation.

"She has the biggest job in the world," he replied nodding. "What is important to her, she makes important to my children. She will deepen our religion. She will make our education important. She will teach them to succeed or our family will loose hope."

I've thought so often since, of this woman on the far side of the world from me, raising several children in a one bedroom, dirt floor, ground level apartment facing the daily challenges of a camp stove to cook on, pestilence to hold at bay, and routine flooding from monsoons requiring fortification and rebuild of that structure.

A life riddled with physical challenge yet deeply focused on the constant need to fortify and a rebuild the most basic building block.

Her family.

That calendar today reminded me of my own need to give this upcoming year a little more attention. Time to start thinking once again on those things that are important to me that I hope will be important to them. Especially as some are in the last leg of the journey here.

So I pulled out my favorite little go-to book that brightens my imagination every time I read it. It's dog-eared and marked up with handwritten lists shoved between it's pages. An icon from the 70's you just gotta love ;)

And it's not very big but it's chocked full of so many good ideas that make me think. That over loved cover says, "Making Your Home A Missionary Training Center".

That's a reference to the preparation of the young men and young women who head out into the world to serve as full time missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

But I tell you what … it's awesome for any mother of any religion wanting to send her children out into the world ready to be well rounded contributing adults.

It's a pretty straight forward book and maybe that's what I love about it. I'm not a very deep thinker but I love little common sense gems like this:

Boy, does that make me feel like less of a meanie mom when I say no to some things!

I absolutely love this:

I love to do for my children. But I don't love to be the last man standing. There's a lot packed into that little thought. Like teaching them to look outside of themselves, seeing needs, serving in families, and not taking others for granted.

This one was written for exercise, but doesn't it go for everything? If you love it, make it important and so will they!

I adored the whole chapter on manners. It reminded me of "etiquette nights" my dad would call for dinner. How we'd laugh as he'd show us the improper way to eat soup, or watch as we unfolded napkins on our laps.

It made me think on dinner conversations and topics I'd like to see.

And made me cringe that I'd not yet pulled out that red checked Betty Crocker cookbook with the "table settings" section in the back like my mom did, and teach my kids how to properly place a knife, spoon, and fork or fold a cloth napkin.

I'm a firm believer in this:

We attended everything our siblings were doing as a kid. It was hard. I watched my mom struggle with littles, but it meant so much that everyone came. I remind myself of the same thing every time I stand in the back with a child hoping to hear that solo or catch the score of the game.

And this, that taught me that I want my children to stretch more:

There are so many useful skills to develop. Oh! If only there were more time ;)

I found a couple of lists I'd written and shoved into the pages of the book. Some, we've gotten better at. Some, it's time to renew and make time for.


Prompt handwritten thank you notes.
More frequent journal writing.
Development of public speaking skills.
Responsibility with meal planning.
Balancing of check book registry … a real lost art.
Typing skills
Manual research skills
Poetry memorization

The list could go on and on. 

Mostly, what is important to a mother will be important to her children. Once again so well said by Elder Neal A. Maxwell:

"By the power of her example and teaching, her sons learn to respect womanhood and to incorporate discipline and high moral standards in their own lives. Her daughters learn to cultivate their own virtue and to stand up for what is right, again and again, however unpopular. A mother's love and high expectations lead her children to act responsibly without excuses, to be serious about education and personal development, and to make ongoing contributions to the well-being of all around them".

The biggest job in all the world.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

summer love (part 2)

Friends came through town on the way to family adventures. We couldn't have been more thrilled to have them stay with us.

We kept one for a bit and would have kept him forever.

Big kids spent a week in the mountains at youth conference. They came home while I was out and this is how I found them on my return.

I loved hearing all about it when they revived hours later.

Father's day was the best because we hadn't had our dad in town to celebrate for that last couple years.

We couldn't have enjoyed him more.

We love to stop in at the park. Janie bumped her head one day and didn't feel it swell to this. Gave me a shock to see it with no memory of the bump.

Plenty of pool days .. most of which get cut short by nasty afternoon storms.

Oh yeah … and I midlife crisis-ed my hair by having bangs cut.

When we run out of bread for pool-side sandwiches, any bread will do.

Love that the pool is such a gathering place for all our friends.

Funny, though, when the boys do this ...

And the girls are here ...

We are into all things long boarding.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Sometimes the boys long board the neighborhood as I sit by the pool with little folks.

I couldn't be more grateful for young women who come prepared with full boxes of neon bandaids.

Someone asked what happened to Grant. "He was born to be Christian's little brother." is the answer. That's all to say about that.

Some days require folks to take things into their own hands and make their own sandwiches.

I successfully completed the whole30 program which entailed avoiding sugar, gluten, flour, carbohydrates, additives or preservatives and a few other things for 30 days.

I took it to 48. It was awesome and I celebrated with a banana, cashew butter, almond milk - milkshake.

I've since fallen deeply off the wagon and am facing another round.

But, I'm a Monday starter .. so check back with me on Monday ;)

Just one more of cuteness before the last of the babies found a good home.

We have seen more missionaries come and go.

And we love them.

We said goodbye to this one we adored for his time among us. His story was so unique and inspirational.

And we will miss him.

We've said goodbye to a lot of young men leaving from our ward on missions.

It's really surreal to have my children's friends leaving to serve the Lord for two years.

Driving home from church the other day, Eliza said from the back seat, "Gabe wasn't in sunday school class today …. (long pause) …. maybe he's sick … (long pause) …. maybe he just went on his mission forever." :)

She's been hanging with too many teenage friends.

The Father's & Son's campout was held here in a pretty big rainstorm but regardless, my boys were so excited.

And while the boys were away, the girls wanted to play pedicures. How could I say no?

Girl's camp happened.
We dropped Celia first very early in the morning. We all felt pretty ;)

Grant headed off to cub scout day camp and dubbed those the best days EVER!

The other girls left a day later for girl's camp. I joined them shortly after. Man, I love getting to hang out with them. It's a time when we get to just be us.

And I get to join in the hilarity just a bit.

I so love these girls.

And soaking it in, one day at a time.
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Thursday, July 10, 2014

summer love (part 1)

I forgot to put this at the end of school wrap up but …

Celia and Christian finished another year of early morning seminary. 

So proud of those kids. It's no small thing to get up every morning at 5:30am for an early morning bible study class and to pick up a friend not of our faith to attend along with them.

Great way to start the morning.

Celia was acknowledged for receiving the Stake President's Award.

One day I drove home in the most beautiful light and found these kids of mine flying kites in the open space at the end of our road.

Just had to stop and take this series of shots.

No dolled up kids, just a moment and the slanting sun to which the pictures don't do justice.

Grand parents came for a visit and we utilized that open space once again.

Janie was delighted to have a captive audience.

Grant spent the first weeks after school let out, building his own long board from stuff he found.

Christian has been given some opportunities to lead the music for sacrament meeting in our ward.

He takes it seriously serious.

And he's so cute up there.

Way back on birthdays, I didn't get a picture of how Celia is passing me up in height. She seems to be gone more and more.

Perfect park nights.

And sunsets I wish I could more fully capture.

Lots of fun with these guys before they found good homes.

I think "Cheeto" was the favorite. He stood out among all that black and grey.

Renewed that zoo membership and marveled in the beauty of creation.

Some are just spectacular.

I thought these were feeding each other. Turns out, it's a demonstration of affection between companions who mate for life.

Really amazing.

Just had so much fun with this guy.

He's the best orangutan ever.

Charlotte shouted "Monkey!" at this monkey until we were pretty sure he knew he was a monkey.

Then decided giraffes weren't nearly as interesting as washing her hands in a public water fountain. Gross.

Pretty much a perfect day. Except for a dead battery in super high heat at the conclusion.

But this guy working nearby was my hero to come to my rescue.

Not one complaint. Have I mentioned, I love him?

And so it goes ...

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