Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween! I had fun doing Halloween costumes last week! My mother-in-law did Max's (tin man) hat and shoe covers and helped design Turner's (scarecrow) costume. I was particularly proud of myself because I didn't have a pattern for Amelia's or Max's and did button holes for the first time in a LONG time! I was even so inspired I created a skirt for me and installed a zipper for the first time in 20 years. I love Halloween! I am not a big scary monster bloody gory kind of person but give me any excuse to dress up!
My crazy 4!





All these cute kids with my amazing grandma!

Mummy dogs
We had mummy dogs for lunch! Happy Halloween to one and all!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Max Max Max Max Max Max Max

In the Book of Mormon, the first family that we encounter is Lehi's family. Nephi, the fourth son, is the narrator.  He talks a lot of his pain in the neck brothers Laman and Lemuel and briefly mentions his closest brother, Sam. Sam was a good kid. He didn't ask for a lot of attention, he went about doing good and following the good example of Nephi. I would imagine that if we could read Sam's account of the journey into the wilderness, there would be praise for his God, Father, and Nephi. I think Sam was a guy who went about doing good in a quiet way. He probably wasn't a problem for his parents and was a good friend to his brothers.

My Max is much like a Sam. He is a good kid whom is easily entertained. He is a good friend to his siblings and has become a good helper to me. Max is a great artist. He is kind to those around him. Max is friends with EVERYONE! He makes friends with older people as well as younger people very well. Max doesn't ask for attention.

Consequently he doesn't get it as often as he should. I was much the same way as a child from what I understand. One time I ran away and no one even noticed--so I came home. I often felt ignored but, in reality I was 5 of 7 kids. If you didn't squeak, you didn't get the oil! It would just bottle up inside of me until I had a major melt down at absurd times over seemingly stupid things. Yet here I am with a child much the same, and I am constantly struggling to give him enough attention.

Yet, this heart of mine is SO THANKFUL for a little guy who is just happy to be alive. I am thankful that there are people in this world that quietly go about doing good. If there is a battle of good and evil raging in this world (which I believe there is) then Max is a stealth-sniper type for the good guys. He is a power to be reckoned with and no one even knows all the good that he does in the world everyday! He is an amazing kid/person, and I just feel blessed to be his mom. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Many hands make light work!

Some days I get completely overwhelmed by how little I think my contribution to the world is. I wish I could do more or be more or change the world somehow. I was very comforted by M. Russell Ballard's talk in conference. We all have a part in God's plan. No matter how small or seemingly insignificant it may seem. The only problem is--now I feel extremely  guilty when I spread honey on my morning toast!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I don't normally do politics.

I don’t really like to get involved in politics. I know I should. I know I need to stand up for what I believe in. My biggest problem is that I can see it from both sides. I, for the most part, can understand where people are coming from and why they would vote one way or another. Honestly, when it comes to politics I have been on both sides of the fence—not to mention a big long stay on top of the fence. I don’t like picking sides in an argument; I just want everyone to get along!
I grew up in a very conservative home. My mother didn’t openly talk a lot about politics but my dad did. He was an avid CNN watcher and Daily Courier reader. He often talked about current events and didn’t hold back on the personal commentary. My dad served on the school board, even serving as president while I was attending public school.  I naturally agreed with his opinions and views. The instant I turned 18 I registered to vote, and didn’t even hesitate as I declared that I was a republican.
Yet as an 18 year-old I went off to college. I met people from various walks of life. I lived with a Vampire, Lesbian, a foster kid, Californians, a Mexican, Korean, and a CANADIAN! I had rich roommates, poor roommates, and pretty much everything in between. I served a mission to Montana where everyone was a gun toting member of the NRA. I saw different walks of life and for the most part LOVED THEM ALL! I love the richness of culture in general. 
After my mission I decided for sure on a degree in Social Work for I felt that helping others was the Lord’s work. The school I went to had a Behavioral Science degree with an emphasis in Social Work. I loved the hybrid mix of Anthropology, Sociology, and Psychology as it pertained to Social Work. It was here though that my conservative mindset started to change. I truly wanted to help everyone! I looked at the republican and the democrat views and decided that I was not a republican because they didn’t want to help anyone.  They focused on an ideal world and not reality—in my eyes. I felt like the real work was out there helping PEOPLE—not business.  I knew that if Jesus was alive then he would be a democrat. 
The very next time I moved, I changed my party affiliation. The shock and scandal for some family members was entertaining to me. They thought that I had gone off of the deep end. My sweet Grandma Anderson told me that her dad had been a democrat, and so it was okay with her.  If it was okay with her then I felt like that was good enough! When I met my husband, he teased me about it and said that our votes just cancelled each other out. I explained that I didn’t vote straight ticket but would vote for whomever I thought was the best person for the job. 
Then I had kids. It wasn’t the actual fact that I had kids that changed my mind but the fact that I stayed home all day and watched WAY too much day time TV. It happened to be that one day as I was watching the View, John Stossel was on the show that day. He was reporting on a new study that he had done. I don’t really even remember what it was completely about, but I remember that they were looking at who gave more to charity—democrats or republican. Democrats I blurted out to the TV! Of course democrats would give more—we believed in HELPING people.  John changed my life that day when he reported that it was republicans that gave more. 
It turns out that it is republicans because democrats desire for the government to do the helping. I thought that this was a little extreme but it got me thinking. When I pay my taxes, do I get the feeling that I am helping people? Do I get the same warm feeling that I get when I help my neighbor? Do I think of all the good this money is going to do in the world? Maybe some of you do. I just know that when I am in the moment with a person in need, I feel compassion, understanding, and love. The same as what the Savior felt as he helped people.  
Maybe Jesus didn’t give money to big business so they could hire more people, but he surely didn’t give it to the government in hopes that they would go out and feed the 5,000. I think that is where good-honest God loving people can be on opposite ends of the debates. Both want to help people they just have different views of how it should be done. I believe that I think it should be done person to person, heart to heart. 
I have been that agent of the government that you all paid for with your taxes. I have helped families that needed help. I have protected children. I have (hopefully) stopped kids from doing drugs or alcohol. I spent my days helping those in the community that didn’t know where to turn. I honestly think those programs are wonderful, and needed. Yet I don’t think I saw the same miracles as when I served at my (okay mostly my parents) cost as a missionary.  The difference was in the recipient. When you are acting as an agent of the government, a lot of times people take you for granted. They feel entitled to your help. They also see you as the government that is MAKING them do something. 
My parents served an LDS mission in Austria. Austria is a socialized country. They loved the people and the beautiful country that they lived in. The one thing that they had a hard time with was that there wasn’t as many opportunities to serve others. The government takes care of everything. Their neighbor fell and broke her hip. The government fixed it, put her in a care facility, when she returned home they sent someone to clean for her and bring her meals. This sounds wonderful, except that the human feeling of helping someone in need is gone. Also, they can’t afford to take care of everyone. So the Austrian government is selling all of their mountains and roads to foreigners to pay for all of the socialization.  
So for this reason I have changed my party affiliation back to republican. Although I don’t love everything about Mitt Romney, I do love that he believes in the founding father’s vision. I love that he is a man of faith. I believe that he can help this country get back on its feet. And by his life, I know that he is a man that believes in helping others. 
There you have it folks, my one political post. Now I will go back to the pretend world I live in where everyone gets along!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Three windows

You can't tell from the picture, but the crack goes all the way to the bottom and to the top!

Three windows now! My oldest son has broken THREE windows! The first one happened on Max’s third birthday. Turner at the time was four. He was outside patiently waiting for my parents to arrive for the party. I don‘t remember why my parents were in town, probably for conference, but they were bringing my grandma over for the celebration. He got bored and started throwing rocks. He ended up throwing a rock at our large kitchen window. The spider web started small but quickly spread. The fact that my mother and grandmother were here was probably the only thing that saved his life that day. My husband was upset but my mom and grandma reminded him that he is only a little boy, and accidents happen. It would be almost two years until that window could get replaced. At one point the cracks got covered with blue painters tape. We were officially the most red neck house in the neighborhood!   Not long after the first incident, the same little boy was throwing rocks again—this time at the front door. Again he broke the window on the door. It still is cracked to this day.

Our beautiful front door crack.
 My little guy grew and we hoped he had learned his lesson. When we finally replaced the kitchen window, we had all of the windows replaced, and felt it a good investment to buy windows with a lifetime guarantee.  No matter what happens, even if my kids break the window, it will be replaced at no charge. We felt that we were safe! That is until today.
I was making lunch when Turner ran into the house and started heading downstairs. I should have clued into the fact that something was wrong because he never goes downstairs by himself. My main concern though was that he had left the front door open for flies and two-year-olds to roam freely in and out of my house. I asked him to go get his brother and sister, bring them inside, and shut the door.  He got really flustered and muttered something under his breath.  I could have sworn it was something to the effect of “I just broke a window at the neighbor’s house.” I said a quick prayer that I had heard him wrong and asked him to repeat himself.  Sure enough he confirmed that I had understood his mumbling. He started screaming and ranting. I could tell that my little guy who struggles with his temper was losing it. I attempted to calm him down and explain that we needed to apologize and make it right. He was too scared which came out in the form of anger. 
During my attempts to calm him down, there was a knock on my kitchen door. There is only one person that uses that door, and it is my neighbor whom just had her window broken. The part of the neighborhood that I live in is mostly older widows and widowers. These particular neighbors are still both alive but retired, older, and struggle with some health problems. They have been the best neighbors, always so thankful for taking their garbage out or bringing in the empty cans. I feel bad because we hardly qualify for any blessings since they are always giving us gift cards, letting us use their snow blower, giving my kids cookies and treats.  They are such a joy to live by. 
Anyway—I guess what happened is that her great-grandson was over and he had a tee for t-ball. Her great-grandson had shown Turner how to use it and told him to hit the ball softly (Turner has never hit a baseball before in his life) he gave it a good smack and it went right into the ground to ceiling, huge-widow beside the front door.  
As I answered the door and apologized that we hadn’t come back over yet and she simply said, I want to talk to Turner. He was standing behind me, visibly upset. As soon as she saw him she said, “Oh Turner, I’m not mad at you. It was an accident, it is okay. Mr. Miller* isn’t mad at you either, we understand, it is okay.” I saw the look of terror slowly melt from his face. I reached my arm out and drew him under to give him the assurance that everything would be fine.  Then he had the courage to apologize for his mistake. 
I was so touched that our sweet neighbor would go out of her way to extend an arm of forgiveness before an apology was even issued. She didn’t wait to hear “I’m sorry,” she freely forgave. Her offering of forgiveness gave a little boy the courage to apologize and attempt to make things right. 
I of course offered to pay for the window. Later Turner was frustrated that I had offered to pay for the window, assuming that he would have to pay for the whole window himself. I explained that Dad and I would talk about it and decide what we were going to do but that it was an expensive window and there is no way that he would be able to pay for it by himself. I then had a chance to explain grace.
I went to my curio cabinet and pulled out a lladro. This particular lladro is very precious to me. I showed him the delicate statue of a little girl with pigtails, holding a doll, and putting on her mother’s lipstick. I then told him the story of how I had broken this precious statue when I was a little girl. I showed him how one of the pigtails was missing and the lipstick and broken off. I showed him her neck where she had been decapitated and glued back together. I told him that I had broken this, a wood carving, a wood carved table, an expensive grandfather clock, and several cars—just to name the expensive things. My parents had offered me grace. I never once remember getting in trouble for breaking anything. My nickname had been “The destroying angel” growing up. (Yes, the same nickname given to Satan.)
Most of all I am thankful for my Savior whom offers me grace every day. I can’t possibly right all of my wrongs, I can’t fix everything. I don’t have enough patience, money, talents, skills, or resources to do the things I need to do. I don’t have enough hours in the day, yet He offers me His grace. He promises that it is sufficient for all if we will but ask. 
I hope I can be like my sweet dear neighbor and offer forgiveness, even before the apology. What a great world we would live in if were all a little bit kinder, forgiving, and remembered that the Lord offers us, and those whom offend us, His grace. 
*names have been changed for internet privacy.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Internet knowledge

         When I first became a mother, we were strapped financially. I was staying home and Josh was going to school full time and working full time. We were looking for ways to save money as best we could. We looked at our budget over and over again and found that cutting out internet was one of the only things we could do. It seemed extreme but, "if we can't afford it, we can't have it" has been a motto we have tried to live by during our marriage. I knew that staying home with my baby was more important to us than having the internet in our home. I don't know how long we lived like this. It seemed long at the time, yet doesn't seem like it was that long now.  I know if we needed to do that again, we would. We recently switched from having a super convenient smart-phone to having just a regular cell phone because some financial goals changed. It has been harder than I thought it would!
         The things I didn't think I would miss has been just being able to check the weather whenever I wanted to, looking up a scripture no matter where I was, being able to google my son's 1,000 questions a day from anywhere. Yet sometime I wonder if those conveniences are really all that important. I do still have the internet at home and there are things that I LOVE about it. I would say staying close to my family, but I really don't hear much from my family via the internet. Sometimes I think we would be closer without it. Maybe we would make more of an effort to be in each other's lives otherwise. Yet I do love being in contact with friends and acquaintances. I love idea sharing. I love blogging. I love being able to look anything up that I want!
          I may be a little TOO addicted to this last one. Today I was reading in Alma. Alma was giving advice to all of his children during this, he discussed in length the after life with his son Corianton. Corianton had spent his time chasing after a naughty girl named Isabel. He had behaved inappropriately, and his father wanted to help him make better choices. He explained to him the purpose of this life and emphasized why he really should shape up! He discussed what happens after this life and how his choices in this life affect the happiness he will have in the life hereafter. As I was reading this, I was astounded by Alma's insight. I found myself wondering where he learned all of this. It isn't like this was the first time I had read this particular segment but the depth and breath of his knowledge really hit me this time. 
          Alma, as prophet, would have access to some scriptures. He didn't have other text or the internet to help him find answers to his questions though! He received revelation. He didn't just seek revelation as to the affairs of his family, or if he should grow corn this season. He wanted to know the mysteries of God. 
           We are accustomed to the easiness of information today that we forget, that with a little effort, God is willing to direct ALL our paths! He can not only help with the special needs of my family, he will let me in on His secrets--if I ask! He is available anytime, anywhere. It may not be as easy as pulling out a smart phone whenever I need and answer, but I know that when the answers come--they are probably more reliable! 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lesson from my amazing son!

It has been one of those mornings! I knew it would be bad when my oldest was out of bed before I was! I usually wake up at least an hour before the kiddos get up. I sent him back to bed and went on with my routine of shower, scriptures, and making breakfast. I don’t know what it was with me today but every shriek, scream, and whine were grating on my nerves like fingernails on a chalk board.
After Turner (my 6-year-old) and I had finished our breakfast, we went into his room so I could help him reach a t-shirt. All of the boy’s clothes are in the closet so something has to be out of reach, it just so happens to be his t-shirts. I was thinking how ahead of the game I was going to be with him already dressed. Then as he slipped on a pair of jeans, for the first time since spring, I realized that none of his pants were going to fit. Before I decided to accept the fact that he needed all new pants, I had him try on several pair. Frustrated at the financial ramifications, I found 3 pair that would still pass.
As we were in the middle of our flood fashion show, my four-year-old, Max, came into the room and wanted to also get dressed. As he was dressing he mentioned that the side of his leg hurt. I asked to see where it hurt, and discovered a huge-infected bug bite on his haunches. The red circle must have been at least as large as a quarter. I asked him to lay on my lap so I could inspect the wound and analyze if I needed to take him to the doctor or if this was something I could handle. As I started prodding around the wound, it erupted. The fount ‘o puss splattered in my hair and in my face. A putrid odor accompanied the white and red swirled splatter. By now Max was livid! He started kicking, screaming, hitting, and declaring that he didn’t love me anymore. As I sent Turner off for tissue and ointment I knew I was pushing it to try to continue to drain the infection but, I didn’t feel like I could leave this in my little boy. I gave it a go with all my might and out popped a more solid form of the stinky blood-filled goop. I dressed the wound, and apologized for having to hurt him. I tried to explain that it was a hurt that was going to make his owie better.
By this time I realized that the twins were still in their high-chairs, and I could tell by the sound that they were not happy about it. I went into the dining room, only to realize that they had decided to create a Jackson Pollock with their soggy cereal and orange juice. I felt frustrated and defeated. I grabbed a wash cloth, rag, broom and mop and got to work. After I had cleaned off the children, I went to work on the dining room. Cooper could tell I was sad so he of course wanted some reassurance that I still loved him, as two-year-olds do. He kept trying to traipse through his masterpiece while crying and reaching for me.
I looked at him and started crying myself. I explained to my room full of children that I was frustrated and needed to get this mess cleaned up. What I needed them to do was to stay out of my way. I realize that it would have been a better teaching opportunity if I would have made my two, two-year-old, artists help clean up the mess but I was frazzled. I went into the kitchen to rinse out my rag, and when I came back, the children were gone. I heard them all in the big boy’s room.
Turner, without being asked, had taken all four of them into his room, closed the door and was playing quietly with all of the kids. I lost is at this point and broke down with love, pride and gratitude for a 6-year-old whom wanted to help his mommy. I finished my task, and with a humble heart I went into his room and expressed my love and appreciation for him. Max asked me why I was crying. I explained that sometimes a mommy’s heart is so full of love—it has to come out of their eyes. The thing was—I realized how God must feel when we help his children.  My child, helped my other children, it in turn helped me (immensely!!)  It wasn't a big thing for my helpful little boy, but it was a huge thing for me. I hope today to find some way to help one of my fellow brothers and sisters, so I may serve my Father in Heaven.