Sunday, September 11, 2016

tender mercies, inspired leaders and direction

I want to write about an experience I had this summer. When I was in Arizona with my mom I got a call from the Stake Executive Secretary who set up an appt. for me to visit with the Stake President. Of course, I wondered what it was all about, wondering if I was going to get a new calling and what it might be if I did.

We got back from Arizona on Saturday and I went to my appt on Sunday evening. He invited me into his office and we small talked for a minute. Then he said he'd tell me why he'd called me in. He said that he'd seen me in a meeting and had a feeling and concern about me, wondering how I was doing. He didn't pursue it until he saw me again at another meeting and again felt that same concern and decided he would talk with me and see if I was ok. He asked me if I was ok and said he really didn't know why he had this concern but that he felt he should check on me. I was a bit bewildered and told him that I was fine and that everything was good. As we talked I did share with him that the last couple of years have been very hard with things that have occurred in this town that have created some uncomfortable feelings. That Curtis was really hard hit and that it was hard to watch him struggle. He shared with me that with some events in his own family, he had come to the point of learning to not say anything if it wasn't positive. That words so easily spoken have so much power to cause damage. He also said that he felt impressed to tell me that Heavenly Father was very pleased with my efforts to be a good person and a good mother. That the work I am doing in my home is the most important thing I could be doing and that he was grateful I was willing to do it.
I left his office with the same calling, (in church and at home) and a full heart from the message that an in-tune leader shared with me from my Heavenly Father.

When I got home I shared what had occurred with Curtis and he said that it was probably his fault. I told him it was probably my leaky tear-duct's fault. It seems that I cannot get through a church meeting anymore without tears and I've given up wearing mascara on my lower eyelashes. But Curtis shared with me that he had noticed me struggling lately with myself and that he had received a strong approval from the Spirit in the temple in regards to himself and so he had prayed for me to have a similar experience. He said he thought it would just occur in the temple, not through the Stake Pres. What a wonderful, loving husband I have. I'm so, so, SO grateful for his concern and love for me and that he actually prays for my benefit.

The struggle I've had lately has been seeing all the cool 'things' that people are doing and displaying on Instagram and FB, whether they are selling them or not. One of the things I've felt I've lost over the years is my creativity, and I've been wanting to rediscover it and for some reason I felt that it needed to be in a way that could be shared and possibly marketed. That for me to be creative just for creativity's sake and for my own fulfillment wouldn't be enough. That it had to be bigger, something that was unique to me and that I could sell. And I felt very inadequate to come up with something that fit that bill.

So this experience of talking to Pres. Lewis and to Curtis and the whispers of the Spirit to me, confirming what they shared with me have led me to question why I'm even having this struggle...

Then, I read this quote on a blog I've been reading for a few years, and Karen's words
 spoke to my heart/regarding me finding 'my thing'/trying to do what I see everyone else doing...

Then there's money. Everything seems to be about money. Go to school so you can make money.  Improve your talents so you can sell them. Market yourself. Find your passion so you can make money with it so you can travel and live your dreams.

Me, me, me. It's exhausting. And it's so hard not to get caught up in the fray... "What if being a mother is not enough?" I start to wonder when I get on facebook and see this message almost everywhere I look.

Whatever happened to loosing yourself in service, "freely you have received, freely give", "inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least these..."

Not that making money is bad. Just when it becomes the motivation for doing what we do. Christ should be our motivation - money is just one of the outcomes we'll be blessed with if it would be good for us and those around us. If I'm having a hard time looking beyond this message to what is really true (that nothing matters more than motherhood; and that worth or influence is not measured by the number of followers I have or the amount of likes) then how can I hope my children see beyond it?

I'm also tired of the constant pressure to pull my family in lots of different directions. "Each child had a unique talent they must pursue at all cost and sacrifice..." so each child is away from his family most of the day "pursuing their talents" - by the time a child is in his teens, family ties are weakest just when they need to be strongest.

Family time needs to be guarded diligently. We shouldn't be so overscheduled that there is no family time during the day.  Electronic devices need to be put away for family time each day. But I digress...

It's been about a month or so since I read this and had this experience and I've come to the conclusion that my focus should still be on mothering (and grandmothering) and that while it's great for me to spend time to rediscover my creative side, it does not need to be for the purpose of marketing whatever it is I choose to do, for making money. That I can be creative for the fun of it, to share with people, to make my life more full. That I can find my 'thing' or the 'thing that I'm known for ' and it can just be that I'm known for it within my own family.

I'm grateful to know that I am not wasting my time or my life by being 'just a mom'. I feel so blessed to have received this tender mercy from the Lord. He is aware of us and our troubles and desires to bless us. He uses those who will listen to bless His children.

Friday, June 10, 2016

How we do sports in our family....

I always assumed that we would be like most other families in the world who taxi their kids from sporting event to sporting event and whose lives are ruled by the sport seasons. That was sort of what I was planning on.

Then I had two boys signed up for soccer one season and I quickly realized that that was not going to work for me. I did not have the energy or desire to spend every afternoon/evening in the car or watching a practice or game, or trying to get my babies to take naps in cars or on the sidelines. And I could not figure out how to be in two places at once. There's a secret to that, and I don't know it.

After trying to do the two kids in sports thing, I came to the conclusion and told my family that it was not going to work for us. If they wanted a sane mother, we were going to have to do it a bit differently.

We decided that as each sport/season came around, one child would be allowed to participate and the rest of the family would support that child for that season. Then, when the next season came around, a different child would get the opportunity to participate and the whole family would support that child. And so on.

That worked pretty well for a while. I did feel guilty, like I was depriving my kids of something they should have had, but I knew my limits. Then, I felt completely vindicated when Elder Oaks gave his Good, Better, Best talk in General Conference that touched on this topic. I knew I did not need to feel guilty any longer and I haven't.

At one point we actually decided to not enroll the kids in any sporting seasons and to take the money we would have spent on that and buy a pass to the Provo Rec Center instead. That way we could all go swimming as a family unlimited times and it would be a recreational activity for the whole family. We did that for a year or two.

When we moved to Monticello and enrolled the kids back in public schools, I knew they would want to participate in school sports. The first spring we were here, Cambria was invited to play Spring Volleyball, which is pretty much club volleyball. There was a lot of driving to neighboring towns for weekly tournaments and again I realized that it was more than I was up for. Particularly with a young, nursing baby. I told her that I was not sure I wanted her to do it the following year, and thankfully she didn't really want to be in it again.

But we have had kids in Cross Country, Football, Track & Field, Basketball and Drama, Band, and Choir at MHS.

There are people/parents in town who follow their children to every game all over the area as well as the state. With a family as large as ours, we have not been able to do that. Even if we wanted to. So again, we modify our expectations and it works for our family. I tell my kids that if their meet, game or event takes place within an hour of our home, I will most likely come watch, unless there is something pressing at home. I have, at times, gotten to go to State competitions, but its not expected so it's always a nice surprise for the kids if I do go.

Cambria and I were talking one time about it and she said she was fine with me not being at every event and that it made it a bit more special when I was able to go.

As a coach for Track, Curtis has been able to be at all the T&F meets with the kids through the years.

So between the two of us, we do the best we can to support our kids in their athletic/music endeavors as they explore their talents and interests. We are thankful for the opportunities they have had to try things to see what they are interested in or what they might be good at, as well as what they do not like.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Moab Giants

Since we were heading up to Utah Valley to attend cousin Emma's baptism and to drop Curtis off with his parents, we decided to make a small vacation out of it. We left home as early as we could so we could get to Moab right when Moab Giants Museum opened. We wanted to be able to walk around and see all the replicas without getting heatstroke. Even at 10 am it was really hot. 

This museum is very new, having just opened in the last year. We watched it being built and when we saw the large replica dinosaurs out on the grounds, we knew it was something we were eventually going to spend the money to go to. 

Fortunately for us, they have a 'locals discount' that allowed our whole family to get in for under $40. For a family our size, that's a real bargain. (last year it cost us about $120 to get into the aquarium in SLC) We did the Dinosaur Walk first thing, then went back and watched the movie and went into the actual museum part. Then we went into the gift shop and bought some souvenirs. I was surprised that even their gift shop prices were not extreme, it seemed quite reasonable to me. They also have a cafe, which looked like it had good food, but we didn't go into it. Maybe next time.

Here are some fun photos of our adventures:

The gang just inside the gates, ready to go...

The whole thing revolves around dinosaur tracks and how they formed and created. 
Every different replica has a placard to explain what type of track it is and gives an example of the type/species of dinosaur that would make that kind of track.

Sadie channeling her inner 'raptor' 

Just the right height for a 'smooch'!

I was blown away by the size of this one...
I absolutely can't imagine being near a live creature this size. The ground would've literally shook with each step...

And can you imagine the size of it's 'cow-pies'?

Had to do a little cheer stunting to be able to reach the tip of its tail...

They had a few places set up for fossil digging. There were misting stations for the waiting and watching parents. It was a very welcome thing.

The salt cedar was in bloom....I love the color and feathery nature of its blooms.

Had to do a little rodeoing on the Triceratops. I loved that there were some replicas that were open for touching and climbing on for photo opps. That made it a lot more fun.
Charlie going for his 8 seconds...

Soren trying to stay on his wild mount...

James wasn't too sure about being in the 'hot' seat.
It really was hot and was hurting his legs...

Sadie was pretty comfortable on hers...

Hannah was and rodeo at the same time...

I've seen large skeleton exhibits before but to be able to see a fully fleshed replica was incredible. I'm so glad they are extinct. I would hate to have run into any one of them...herbivore or carnivore.

This was the final replica, the piece de resistance....The T-Rex
Can you just imagine that thing chasing you?

I loved how they put it in a perfect place for a great photo. 
I thought the kids did a great job 'running' away.

Sadie seems to know something Cambria does not!

Soren and I were in trouble....he was catching up with us fast...

They had a playground and some other fun things to climb around on....
Sadie trying desperately to save Hannah

Charlie doesn't look too scared for being in a T-Rex's mouth...

Looks like he got Sadie, too.

Soren trying to escape

They had some really cool exhibits inside the museum. This one was really fun for the kids. It had a couple of games that were projected onto the floor, one was Tic Tac Toe, and the other was a track recognition and trail game.  It had some other interactive things, like you stand near an exhibit and act like you're trying to catch little dinosaurs as they run past. The other people can stand by a monitor and see you on screen as you try to catch the little CG dinosaurs. 

Hannah and Soren playing Tic Tac Toe

James doing one of the other activities

They also have a short 3D movie about the creation and evolution of the earth. Of course, it is depicted from an evolutionist viewpoint. But the 3D graphics were cool and don't we look cool in our sweet shades?
(We often talk about creation and evolution. I don't know what processes Heavenly Father used to create and shape this earth, nor how long it took, and it could very well have happened exactly like the scientists think. But we always emphasize that the earth was created by Heavenly Father for a purpose and that was for his children, who we are.)
My crew waiting for the movie to start

The glasses were a bit large for James' head....

I would not include this picture but James wanted to take a picture of me so I thought I would put it on this post. I think he did all right, even though he so wonderfully captured my extra chins. ;)

this is a much better angle

They also had this cool swing in the playground. All of my kids who tried it declared that we need to put on in the backyard, or in their bedroom!
Isn't he dressed well for Moab? A black T-shirt and dark gray sweatpants???


Cambria and Hannah


We had a blast at this attraction and I'm glad we took the time and shelled out the money to visit. It was well worth all that we spent! I hope we'll be able to go again when they get their 5D aquarium opened up. #MoabGiants

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Memorial Day and Ford's Birthday

It was a different Memorial Day this year than it usually is. Usually we visit the cemeteries in Monticello, Blanding and Bluff, taking most of the morning. However, Mom had already taken care of the graves in Bluff and Blanding before she and Hugh left on their trip on May 22, so we only had to do Monticello.
We actually waited until afternoon, when Stacy and Stewart were coming through on their way home from Blanding. We all met at the cemetery, put fresh flowers in the vase on Dad's headstone, put silk on everyone else and took a few snapshots, and that was it. Short and sweet. And a bit sad. I like spending the day taking care of the graves. Otherwise, it's just another day.

Cambria had a selfie-stick so we were able to get a good group photo of all of us to send to Mom...

I like that my family is comfortable at the cemetery…siting or standing around and visiting is common...

After finishing up at the cemetery we had Ford's family and Karla's family over for dinner to celebrate Ford's birthday. This year was exactly like the year he was born, because he was born on Memorial Day and my OB was out of town, of course. Hard to believe that was 22 years ago. Where does the time go? Curtis smoked a roast and we had yummy potatoes and some dutch oven potatoes as well. I don't know why we don't do this more often, it's always good to have family over for a meal.

Just had to throw a couple of these crazy pictures in….  I think she was having entirely too much fun taking selfies!! Looks like Allie wanted in on the fun too!

MES Spring Dance Festival

Time for the Spring Festival again. The format for it changes every year depending on what the Arts teacher and other teachers decide I guess. This year each class did a dance and Oh, BOY! were my boys not excited about it. In fact Charlie started refusing to go to school on the days he knew there would be dance practice. I had to write a note to his teacher explaining what was going on and try to encourage Charles to just participate. He eventually did do it and I was pretty proud of him, and Soren, for doing something they just really would have rather 'stuck a fork in their eye' than done! (family joke) 
So here's Soren doing the Turkey in the Straw Dance. He was pretty business-like.

Then, here's cute little "Chicken" Charlie! The first grade did the Chicken Dance that most first grades around the country do. I loved their little masks and tail feathers. They did a good job.

Each class had also made a class banner. Here are the boys in front of their class banners.
Soren's teacher is retiring after this year. So they made their banner in honor of Mr. Boyle.
Next year I'll get to see all three of the younger boys participate. James will join his two brothers at MES.