Sunday, May 11, 2014

Hooray, hooray--today is Mother's day!

           Two months after my first child was born, I was photographing a friend’s wedding. While at the wedding, I ran into a friend from my youth. The two friends had met and become close during graduate school. I hadn’t seen this friend since we had graduated from high school ten years earlier. We were catching up and the topic of career came up. When I told her that was staying home with my new baby, she looked at me in surprise and asked, “Is that ALL you are doing?” I have to admit that it took me off guard and I felt almost shame over it. I really don’t think my friend meant to offend me, and I have no idea if she really felt that motherhood wasn’t enough. I certainly don’t think she feels that way anymore as she three beautiful children of her own.

When I became a mother two weeks before I turned 28, I thought I had the best of both worlds. I had the opportunity to go on a mission, get an education, and have a career for several years. I thought that those experiences would have been enough so that I wouldn’t be left wanting or feeling like motherhood “was ALL I was doing” because I had “lived” first. I was wrong. I struggled to feel enough. I soon learned that all of my education, years of baby-sitting, and working with children and families didn’t prepare me at all—I wasn’t the perfect mom I thought I would be. I felt alone, inadequate and like I was wasting my time. 
I am ashamed to admit it but, I have struggled over the years, feeling like I am only helping these 4.5 kids when I could be spending my time helping so many more! I have dreamed of building orphanages and spending my days teaching crowds of kids. For people who are able to do those things, know that you are doing so much good and are being a mother to nations. Yet it isn’t in the cards for me at this time. Recently I have had a couple of experiences that have helped me know that my Father in Heaven thinks that what I am doing is enough (at this time at least.) 

A couple of weeks ago was my grandmother’s birthday and when I wrote a little tribute to her, the words came to me, “If anyone questions the importance of motherhood--they need to gather with (my grandma’s) offspring. She truly has helped to shape the lives of hundreds in a very positive way.” The words the Lord means to speak to my heart so often come when I am speaking, or writing to others. This got me thinking of my grandmas, my own mother, and my mother-in-law. Although they all served, taught, and were influential in their community, they shaped the world through their posterity.
Motherhood is enough. Even if I only influence these 4.5 lives then my life will be well lived. I have been blessed to have an amazing mom. My mom is beautiful, kind, service oriented, wise, thoughtful, and has a contagious laugh. She strives to be perfect like no one else I have ever met in my life—and she comes pretty darn close. She has courageously taught her children right from wrong and how to be good people. She is a remarkable mother-in-law (my husband would agree) and an amazing “Grammy.” She is more Christ-like than anyone I know.  I have a little bottle of her perfume that I wear when I need to feel strong—more like her. 
All my mom ever wants from her kids is their testimony. I want to share my testimony with her and with the world, because she has taught me to boldly declare, and stand by what I believe. 
I want to testify to the world that I know that my Father in Heaven lives and loves me. I know he is not only aware of me but deeply cares for me. He has answered more prayers, of mine, than I can even recall. I know that His son, Jesus Christ lives and loves me. I know that Christ has felt my pain, my sorrow, and my struggles. I know that Christ took upon Him my sins so that I can be forgiven and improve myself. I know that He is my brother. I know that God speaks to His children. One way he speaks to us is through living prophets. He hasn’t forgotten the children of today—he still speaks to us. His voice may be harder to hear than the voice of the world, but it is there. One way we can listen to His voice is through the scriptures. We have the Bible and we have another testament of Jesus Christ, The Book of Mormon. Those books are true. They will teach us the way to be happy.  I am thankful for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. I am thankful for the peace and guidance that I feel when I stop and listen. I know that God hears me, and directs my life. For all this knowledge, I am thankful to my amazing mother who taught me well, and taught me how to find answers for myself. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Funny boy

Today I got a very rare Sunday nap. When I woke up I had this strong feeling that I needed to go see my Grandma. I didn't act on that *prompting right away but it didn't leave me alone. I fed my kids some dinner and realized it was already after 7--which would normally mean that it is too late to drive to Grandma's house. I have before gone that late but left my kids with Josh so he could put them to bed. I really felt like I wanted my whole family to go though so we decided to put the kids in their PJ's and go, even if it meant we couldn't stay very long. 

We didn't get to her house until after 8. When I got there she said she had been alone all day except when *priesthood holders from her local *ward came to bring her the *sacrament and when her *Home Teachers came. Although I am glad she hadn't been truly alone all day, I was very thankful for the impression to go see her. 

During the evening Grandma showed Turner an invite to my cousin's son's *baptism. She then asked him what it meant to be baptized. Turner replied that it meant that you would get your sins washed away. Grandma then replied, "you don't have any sins do you?" He smiled and responded, "yeah, I got a lot of them. I have so many that they are probably going to have to baptize me twice; once to wash away half of my sins and another time to wash away the other half." Grandma and I both had a good laugh over that. Turner was in a good mood the rest of the night--so proud that he had made his great-grandma laugh. 

My yard--a history

"Let's start at the very beginning--a very good place to start." Josh and I bought our house almost exactly 9 years ago. In fact we got the keys on Memorial day weekend in 2005. We bought the house because we weren't afraid of a challenge, and it had features (like a creek in the back yard) that you just couldn't landscape in. The house has good "bones" and we thought it was the perfect little starter house. (Little did we know that we would have 4 kids and another on the way and STILL be living here!)

"Selfies" have been our thing before the word selfie was invented. We weren't even married yet when this pic was taken in front of the house we had just bought. 
We didn't love the millions of bushes in the front yard. The following picturee isn't the greatest, but on the side of the house there were tons of bushes between the fence and house. All along the perimeter of the front yard was lined with bushes and a really pretty rose bush in the middle of the front yard.
Lots and lots of bushes.
We slowly pulled out most of the bushes. Making the yard more open but defiantly more bare. The front yard had dips in the lawn and was kind of a pain to walk on. Clover had invaded.
July 2012. Google Maps camera.
I had a vision for the yard but I also had four kids in four years and the yard was down on the list. Last spring (2013) I sat outside on the lawn and sketched up my vision of what I wanted my yard to look like. I knew I wanted garden boxes as I felt I would be more successful as a gardener and thought I could grow more food in a smaller amount of space. I had also wanted a pathway up to our door forever. So I showed Josh my vision and he loved it. He also hated the grass and thought it would be better if we ripped out all of the grass and  just started over. So we demoed THE WHOLE THING. We rented a sod cutter and removed all of the grass in the front yard. And started building my garden boxes. Our awesome neighbor came with a skidster and started taking scoopfuls of dirt from the yard and filled most of our garden boxes with the dirt from our yard. I wish I had more pictures from this era of dirt but it wasn't a pretty sight.
Our 2 year old Coopy helping fill the boxes. 
Sept. 2013. My garden.
I was 100% accurate about the garden boxes. I was a much more successful gardener in my boxes. I still have jars of food on my pantry shelf from last year's harvest. It was a beautiful thing! The garden was that is. The rest of the yard wasn't very pretty. We had a drought, we got busy, and I got sick with my health issues. The rest of the yard didn't get finished. But once it started warming up we hit it with full force this spring. 

Our LAST till!!!!! 
We had to till the yard quite a few times during this project. Each time Josh would nick the sprinkler line in at least one place. The sprinklers hadn't been buried very deep when they were installed many years ago. There were a lot of trips to home depot to get parts to fix the sprinklers, and a lot of digging to bury them deeper.

The day I went to get the sod (Friday April 24, 2014) was a miracle--ALL DAY LONG. 

(Miracle one)I went to get the sod with my mother-in-law at 9:00am, and they told me they were sold out. The next day was going to be pouring rain all day and I knew we couldn't lay it then. I was frustrated that it was going to take several more days before it was done. He took down my name and number and told me that if he had a cancellation he would call me. About a half an hour later he said that there was a mix up with an order and they had ordered too much. He had enough for my project. I booked it back over there and picked up the sod. 

(Miracle 2)Then the yard wasn't quite ready for sod, and the skies were darkening. I was working on it when my mother-in-law showed up and started right in on getting the park strip ready. I don't know why but I am really challenged with a rake. She saved my life and she made the park strip PERFECT!

(Miracle 3)I started in on the main area of the lawn and thought that we still had too much dirt--like maybe 2 wheel barrows full. My dear friend Amy came and started to rake it out. I shoveled and dumped the dirt for a couple of hours. 

(Miracle 3)I was wearing out fast and just as I was about to admit defeat, my friend Shannon came walking up the hill carrying a pair of gloves. I almost cried--it felt like a movie when the Calvary comes up over the horizon. It was one woman but it was the Calvary to me! She told me to sit down, and she took over the shoveling and dumping while I rested for a while. Between the both of us, we actually got about 15 more wheelbarrows of dirt out of the front yard. Amy had it smooth and even--picture perfect.

(Miracle 4)Josh was able to get off work a little early--just as all the prep work was done. Shannon had to attend to her family and right after she left (Miracle 5)Michelle came ready to help. 
Josh laying the sod. 

Josh laying the sod on top of Amy's perfect raking job. 

Amy and Michelle laying sod like PROS!
The boys in the neighborhood playing in our mounds of dirt.
(Miracle 6)My in-laws came and helped with the cutting around sprinklers, and small patches. They were also a HUGE help with the clean up. There was DIRT everywhere!!

After the final piece was laid. 

Michelle, me, and Amy
Not one of my friends was asked to help. They just came when they knew I needed help. They are true disciples of Christ. True blessings in my life and true friends. 

(Miracle 7)Shortly after the above picture was taken, right as we were getting done cleaning up, the first rain drops began to fall. Within an hour it was pouring rain and didn't stop for two days. 

So much better! My house stays a lot cleaner and I am loving the view out my window. Hard work over many years, that really has paid off!
My view out my window--can't wait until I have flowers along my path!