Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A little breeze

I guess when they give the wind a name it might do things like this...

But really, this happened before the real wind even got started!  

Our poor tree was dead.  We were just hoping that next spring it was going to miraculously come back to life!  I guess we won't have to make the hard decision of cutting it down any more...

5 amazing neighbors came out to join Ryan as he chopped it up and hauled it away.  They did it in record time!  We are so grateful for so many kind people that live nearby!

Our poor house looks so bare without a big tree in front of it!  The kids each kept a small piece of it...we have girls...things like this are emotional!

The final up-rooting!  Thanks to our neighbor's green machine!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Window to My World

This is our front window.  This is our life!  

It started with one picture that she was really proud of.  We really love the new neighborhood art gallery!

Coloring is Alice's passion right now.  She colors from sun up to sun down.  In the car.  On the couch.  At the table.  In her bed.  This week's flavor is Halloween pictures.  It buys me a quiet time.  Then I usually color a couple with her after quiet time.

On the same day that I decided to take pictures of Alice's art work, Audrey decided to make sure that her art was picture worthy too!  Soon after the pictures above, Audrey woke up and the older girls got home from school.  I was trying to be the engaged, present mom I want to be by sitting at the kitchen table and talking with the school kids about their day.  Audrey left snack time after a few minutes.  Little did I know, there was a box of markers in the front room...

But she's so darn cute it's hard to be mad!  And it all came out (phew!)

Sunday, October 14, 2012


About 10 years ago I was accepted...

...to the most rigorous training program known to man.


It wasn't on a whim.  It was something that I wanted with my whole soul.  I had felt the heartache and tears of applying and being denied.  I waited longingly for that acceptance letter!  I was thrilled about my new future and more than willing to commit to a life-long program.

I felt confident, scared, excited, and complete.

I was determined to do it all right.  To master this role.

My heart was filled to the brim with love for my new baby...that cute little bundle reaffirmed that this was my mission.  I loved her.  I loved how she changed our family.  I loved being her mom.

But, despite buckets full of love in my heart, I was shocked at how often I felt a little lost in my new role.  I was surprised at how unfulfilling the hard days and weeks were.  At how quickly I stopped noticing the good moments and couldn't forget all the hard moments.  At how foggy my brain became without enough sleep!  I wondered what I had gotten into.

But we bumbled along...sometimes enjoying the ride...sometimes surviving.  I remembered that this wasn't a course I could quit.  Which was good--because some days I would have handed in my notice and missed the amazing journey of growth that I am still on!

Since then we've signed on to more complex training programs...adding more babies one by one.  It's been an intense and satisfying journey.

When  baby #4 was born I was stretched to my limits for a little while.  I wasn't sure if I was going to make it!  But, sure enough, after some time, my role started coming back into focus.  I think I truly started to understand some of the most important truths about motherhood for the very first time!  I'm sure some mother's are a little quicker.  I'm pretty stubborn and determined.  So it took 4 kids and 9 years before I stopped just plowing ahead--determined to succeed!

The first and most important realization that I accepted was this:

I thought I was there to love, mold, shape and train my children.  I knew I wasn't perfect, but I thought that my adult status made me completed.  As my true role as a mother started to come into a crisp focus, I finally started to "get" the fact that while this was about assisting my little ones in their own journey, this was one amazing opportunity for me to be loved, as I was molded, shaped and trained.

There are so many ways for us to experience life.  We can seize countless opportunities that will challenge us and help us to develop and internalize characteristics and skills that improve us as human beings.  We all have so many ways we can grow, improve, expand, and become more balanced people.

My choice was to experience my life through motherhood.

I'm not sure if I'm a slow learner compared to others on this journey, but I am happy to say that I am finally at the beginning of that course that I started on many years ago.  Because I am finally here as a student.  I am ready to learn.  To seek out and master new skills and learn new tools.

I believe that I have a spiritual inner compass that helps guide me as a mother.  I believe in prayer.  I believe in miracles.  But I also believe that it is my job to fully immerse in my new-found student status.  I am hungry for knowledge and skills.  Sometimes my resources are "experts".  Sometimes I reference friends.  Often my husband and I have brainstorming sessions that give me enough material to practice and tweak for a month!

My goal is to take on the attitude of a student--which is harder said than done in mothering.  I am trying to look at what I need to change about me and my reactions before I assume it's my kid that is a lost cause!  I have learned that as I learn new skills and find tools, I am a more effective mom.  If I mess up (which I do often) I am trying to adopt the attitude of a scientist instead of a highly emotional woman!  I want to step back and say "Huh!  That didn't work--what could I do differently next time?"  I search for tools to help me with my weaknesses.  I am a project that I am fine tuning.

I loved this quote that I stumbled on...

I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have to learn and grow in the safe environment of our family.  This is a life-long process.  Just because I am an adult, doesn't mean I am finished with my schooling!  I sure hope that my kids can feel safe in their environment as they tweak their weaknesses and learn, fail and succeed at new life skills.

I have learned that family is a powerful laboratory.   They love me even when I fail.  They make me laugh even when I'm at my wits end.  They help me remember to enjoy the process instead of wishing it were all over.

This isn't a course that I'm taking just for the diploma at the end.
 It's the way I've chosen to experience my life.  I've finally learned that "doing it right" and "mastering this role" isn't about perfection in the moment.  It's about letting myself be changed through the process so that I have no regrets about my schooling.

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Blissful Bedtime

(written sometime during summer 2012...before I was ready to publish and commit to this blogging thing)

I just want to remind myself that tonight my heart was full of gratitude as I experienced a [rare....almost unheard of] bedtime.

Our bedtimes are generally miserable....have been for quite some time.

We are typically very proactive parents.  When we recognize a problem we are quick to put our heads together and brainstorm, search, ask for advice, implement and execute a plan then tweak until it works.  But in the bedtime department our efforts have seemed pointless.  Positive results from all our experimenting are few and short-lived.  I have wondered why we continue to fail in this area.  It makes me sad to feel frustrated every night as we end the day.

Typical bedtime involves:
asking kids to do the list of things they do every night and yet can't seem to do on their own...asking again...losing a kid somewhere...fighting over senseless things because they are tired...whining...my patience running thin...finding a kid that's suppose to be brushing teeth out on the trampoline...firmly reminding them what they should be doing...wishing we were just curled up reading together...someone inevitably gets hurt...more whining...someone refuses to go potty...I know we'll be up at midnight taking her potty...another fight...losing a kid again...this time she's reading a book two flights down in the basement...tired of running up and down the stairs carrying a baby that has to be held...wondering why one kid still hasn't brushed her teeth...asking...waiting...tired...

...and by the time they manage to lay their little heads on their pillows, I am at a breaking point.  Frustration rules.  Not cuddles and love like I dream of.  Regrets.

So in an effort to continue to try to fix our little problem we spent many hours last week moving everyone's bedrooms around.  We have 2 small bedrooms for the kids.  There are only so many options.  But we found a way to stop using the top bunk which will allow me to be closer, lay in bed, scratch backs and cuddle easier with one of my girls.

Just in case it never happens again, let me outline my dreamy bedtime tonight.  I have seriously dreamed about this for a long time!

-Everyone completed their evening responsibilities with support from mom but minimal nagging (cleaning up a small area of the house--their zone, plus normal bedtime drill)
-Everyone climbed in their bed without protests and early enough to read for a while.
-At one point the older 3 were all reading books on their own in silence while I read books to Audrey on the floor.  I was stunned!!!  (This is usually the time that they are fighting for attention and I don't have enough to go around)
-Ryan took Audrey (it's always easier with 2 of us!)
-I spend the next 45 blissful minutes having one on one time with each child.  They talked my ear off and I loved every minute.  I sang them their favorite lullaby "Baby Mine" and smiled when each girl smiled and helped me insert her name in the last line.  I scratched backs, rubbed necks, rubbed feet and gave hugs and kisses.
-I soaked up and enjoyed every second of it.
-I walked away.  2 little hops out of bed but right back.  No fighting.  No frustration.  Everyone fell peacefully asleep.  Bliss.

Tomorrow night probably won't go like this but for now I'll live on a hope that it is possible and we'll keep striving to enjoy our last minutes of each day together.