Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Thank You, Daryl

Last year I read the book, The Ultimate Career by Daryl Hoole. What an amazing book! Now, if you're interested and want to read it, I suggest you read chapters 11-21 first. The first 10 chapters are good if you want pointers on how to organize and clean your home. But the second half is a wonderful and beautiful tribute to motherhood and how to deal with everything from jealousy, guilt, fatigue and boredom. A nice little kick in the pants and lightbulb in the attic. I'll be sharing quotes on different topics now and again.

Blessed is the family whose mother's heart is in the home...

A mother whose heart is in the home feels a commitment to her sacred stewardship. She pledges to give her time and attention to her children. She is devoted to their care and well-being.

A mother whose heart is in the home knows her position to be a consecration. She is willing to sacrifice everything--even her health or her life, if necessary--for her children. She sanctifies her efforts. She recognizes she is engaged in a holy work.
(Hoole, 119).

Woah. Motherhood as consecration. It doesn't get much clearer than that. Once you become a mother, you have pledged to give everything you have to that role by default.

This is such a beautiful and terrifying thought. Take it one step further. I consecrate my body every time I carry and bear a child, then all my energies to rear him. I felt very strongly to get pregnant with Felix. I did NOT want to do it at all. Now I can't imagine life without him. I'm so glad I followed that prompting. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed I won't get another prompting for a while. BUT, if I did, I would follow it because I have no idea what lies ahead in my future and I trust Heavenly Father more than myself.

Once I couched motherhood in these terms, my children became much less annoying. When they needed things while I was on the computer or reading, I tended to them without annoyance. I committed to give them my time AND my attention. For some reason I'd never really thought about the attention aspect before. Computers can wait, I've made a commitment to care for my children.

Now, this doesn't mean you shouldn't take care of yourself, have girls' nights out, pamper yourself, take breaks when needed, etc. We have a lot of Monday movie-pajama days at my house. To be the best mother you can be, you have to take care of yourself. That's part of the package.

As I write this, Felix is rolling around my floor, crying to be fed. Perhaps I should take my own advice.

Until next time...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

If You Build It...They Will Come

We all remember the movie, Field of Dreams. Back in its hay-day, it seemed like you could find it on TV on at least one channel every day. But that's not the point. The famous line, "If you build it, he will come" reminds me of how influential our words can be on our children. We should use our words to help build our children into good people.

For example, I call the girls "ladies" in the hopes that they will believe they really are ladies and grow up to become genteel women with good manners. I cringe whenever I hear a parent call their child "naughty" or "a brat." Well, if you always call them that, that's what they're going to be. Right? Jon and I try really hard to avoid these phrases and instead say, "That was naughty." Or "You made a naughty choice." We also never miss an opportunity to tell them "You're such a good girl" when they've done something praiseworthy.

Okay, so that last paragraph sounds braggadocios. Sorry. This is just something I feel strongly about.

Labels are powerful.

I'll never forget two examples of this. My brother once told me he could have gone either way as a kid. He had good friends and really bad friends. (Excuse me, friends who made really bad choices.) He was mostly a good kid because that's what his teachers and leaders assumed he was, because of the family he came from. Eventually, that's what he became.

Conversely, one of my dearest friends growing up made some really bad choices in college. I mean, really bad choices. She eventually found herself in a very dark place. It broke my heart to hear her say, "I've finally become what my parents always thought I was." I was speechless. I couldn't fathom what it must have been like for her growing up, trying to prove to her parents she wasn't the bad egg they thought she was, and then finally giving up trying.

Choose carefully what you call your children, even when you think they're not listening. That's the hardest one for me. I'm pretty good about carefully choosing my face-to-face labels, but sometimes I vent to friends and family over the phone. Who knows which set of little elf ears may be listening. I should probably be more careful.

I've found that if your child is acting really bratty, or does something horribly naughty, it helps to use innocuous terms to deal with the situation. Over the course of their lives, my girls have been called, "vixens, squirrels, minxes" and other strange animals, instead of brats. 'Cause sometimes you just have to call them something...especially when they've somehow gotten into the child-locked snack cupboard and are running around in the nude. Vixens? Squirrels? Minxes? You decide.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Is the fighting MY fault?

There was an excellent talk in the March Ensign by Marion G. Romney titled "The Celestial Nature of Self-Reliance." Such an excellent talk for so many applicable reasons in this political climate. But the phrase that really stuck out to me was, "...despair that comes from enforced idleness..."

How many times have I forced my children to be idle just so they don't get in my way? If my kids are getting crazy or bothering me, I usually plop them in front of a movie. Now, while this method definitely has its place, I'm sure I'm over-using and abusing it.

How many times have I enforced idleness on myself and I become bored and depressed and cranky and short-tempered...and you get the picture.

I also thought of this phrase in relation to the scripture, "They did become an idle people, full of mischief." (2 Nephi 5:24).

I started to mentally connect the dots. How can I expect my children to keep the peace, aka, NOT FIGHT FOR THE LOVE OF PETE! when I'm forcing them to be idle and therefore "full of mishief?"

I'm not planning any radical changes, but maybe suggest coloring instead of a movie. Or asking them to help me make or do whatever it is I'm doing? If I'm cooking or cleaning, I should let them help. My kids are usually willing to help me because they just want to be with me and learn.

I remember President Monson recently talking about children: whatever is put into their heads before they're 8 years old is there to stay, good or bad. Just another motivation to stuff them full of love, sweet life skills, songs, and happy memories making cookies with Mom. Don't you think?
An idyllic Saturday where Jon cleaned out the rain gutters and Sam and I cooked french bread and strawberry jam. The weather was divine and strawberries were 99 cents per pound!
Sam wouldn't let me throw away this apple peel. "Mom, you can't throw that away. Those are the good parts!"

Low-Sugar Jam with Apple, from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything.

4 cups berries or pitted, peeled, and roughly choped stone fruit, such as peaches, plums, or nectarines
2 cups peeled, cored, and minced apple
2 cups sugar, more or less
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste

1. Place all the fuit in a large saucepan and crush lightly with a fork or potato masher. Add sugar and lemon juice. Turn heat to medium-high.

2. Cook, stirring almost constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture liquefies. Taste and add more sugar if necessary.

3. Turn the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, unti the fruit has broken down and the mixture is thick, 30 minutes. Taste and add more sugar or lemon juice if necessary, then cool and refrigerate (use within a few days) or freeze.

*Test for gelling by dropping a dollup on a cooled plate. If it is still runny after a few minutes, either cook longer or add a small amount of gelatin.

Are Kids and Happiness Synonymous?

Don't you find it interesting that the most wonderful thing Heavenly Father could think to reward us with is eternal increase? Lots and lots and lots of children? Now, whether that means I will bear and rear children for eternity or whether it's generations that go on forever, I don't know. Personally, I hope for the latter. I don't think it would be heaven if I didn't graduate to at least grandparenthood. ;)

I'm trying to find that happiness with my kids now. Joy in the here and now. Joy in the changes. Joy when they grow up and out of certain stages, even if I love that stage. Just love. And happiness. Why is it so illusive sometimes?

New blog and title

This new blog is mostly for me. I feel so blessed to have three healthy children. How did that happen? I love staying at home; it's what I've always wanted to do. I have "good Mommy days" and the "not-so-good Mommy days," the latter of which trouble me greatly.

Especially lately, with my third pregnancy and subsequent birth of Felix, I have noticed a great need to have Heavenly Father as a partner in this thing called parenthood. He is helping me to learn and grow as a mother and person.

I have had a lot of epiphanies lately, I should probably call them revelations, since I know they are from Him. I want to keep a written record of them all in one place. Mostly so I will remember them and so I don't have to rummage through my diary to locate them. (Ha, ha. This is a theoretical diary. My diary is my brain. And now that I'm dumb...I should write these things down. Like sand through a seive.)

The title of this blog "To have a quiver full" relates to Psalms 127:3-5. "Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord...Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them."

I definitely feel like I have a quiver full and am learning how to be happy in just about every situation...including those with nail polish.