26 February 2007

Two things I learned this weekend (despite the almost constant obsession over the layout on my new blog)

It's been a while since I've felt like I learned something at church. I am usually too busy getting out quiet activities or snacks, shushing little voices, teaching my oldest one to listen and fretting over being a spectacle in the process of it all. I guess it was divine intervention that allowed me to pay enough attention that two simple phrases really stood out to me yesterday.

"That which is of enough value to memorize becomes part of you."

and from Alma 37:37 -

"when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning, let thy heart be full of thanks unto God"

I love the first quote because I am one that thrives on words - be they scripture, lyrics, poetry or just plain wisdom. And they do have a way of working themselves into my mind when I most need them. But sometimes I let days go by without studying anything, without pondering any sort of words, and that often leads to a stupor in trying situations (rather than having positive thoughts or feeling guided). I love that any worthy words can be beneficial to you. Scripture study is an obvious necessity in our lives, but do we make time to study the great God given talents of writers like Shakespeare? It's just like turning on classical music in the car for my children as we head out to school... I know that it opens up the mind and calms the spirit and will have an effect on their day.

Alma 37:37 has been marked in my scriptures for years. I have it mostly memorized and I'd say it is a part of me... it comes to my mind often. But this particular part of it has never made quite the impression that it did on me yesterday. I vainly repeat "let the Lord watch over us in our sleep" every night before bed. And I rarely wake up thankful that He did. In fact, I am a bear in the morning... I'm not really thankful for anything at that time of day. That really sets a tone in our home and can be difficult to change after I'm more fully awake and ready to dig into the day. So I'm making a goal of not just praying for the Lord's protection over my family each night, but with gratitude for that blessing in my life each morning as well.

22 February 2007

Creativity Cannot Be Stifled

... is the name of my new blog, a place to show my crafts and art, provide ideas for home decor and entertaining, birthday parties, etc. So, if you're interested in all that (and really, who isn't), come and check it out here!

19 February 2007

My hands are small, I know...

One pair of mischievous little hands did this when I wasn't looking:

(you're looking at oreo cookie crumbs... right before dinner, no less)

These small hands are rarely at rest.

But I love them.

Because today they made me this:

Fruit Loops are a girl's best friend, you know.

15 February 2007

Stuck in one place

Have you ever felt like you finished exactly where you started? Like you ran in place all day? The minute you get one thing done, something else needs your attention (usually not 2 feet away). And when you've finished with that, something else comes along. With two little boys in the house, this is a common scenario for me. Case in point... this afternoon I fed the boys pasta with their lunch. I served Drew first. I turned around after dipping up Jonah's plate to find that Drew had tossed all his pasta onto the floor. I told him "no-no" and bent over to pick it up while he ran his buttery fingers through my hair and giggled at me. I told him "no-no" again (this time with a little disgust in my voice) and dashed upstairs to clean myself up real quick. I came back dowstairs to find that Drew had then tossed all of Jonah's pasta onto the floor. I told him "no-no" and proceeded to pick it up and get Jonah a fresh plate. Then I cleaned off one of Drew's hands with a wet cloth. I moved to the next hand while he put the clean hand back onto his messy plate. After I recleaned both hands and carelessly decided to just let him go with a cup of cheerios, I turned around to make my own lunch. I quickly got it prepared and checked on Drew who was playing in the next room and found that he'd tossed all of his cheerios - all together now - onto the floor. We picked them up together, he merrily singing the clean up song, and I - not affected by his sweet little carefree outlook - took them away... because obviously anything that can scatter in all directions is not safe in the hands of this little stinker.

Some days I feel like the unamused lunch lady who says "Next." all day long. I just move from one little task to another and have nothing much to show for it at the end of the day. I am lucky to have a husband that understands days like these. I've made sure he's experienced a few for himself! He never asks me, "What have you done all day long?" because he knows how easily you can get stuck in one place. I think of a funny email that got forwarded to me this week. A man comes home to a house that looks like it's been robbed: furniture is overturned, there are dishes all over the floor, clothing and shoes are strewn about in all the bedrooms. He moves from room to room, his jaw dropping, until he reaches his bedroom where his wife is peacefully napping. "What on earth happened?", he asks. "Well, you know how you've asked me what I do all day?" she replies. "Today I didn't do it."

My advice on days like mine is don't sweat the small stuff. I almost feel like a hypocrite saying that because it has taken me 8 years of parenting to put it into practice. But here I am at 4 in the afternoon - toys strewn about, my lunch still on the counter - testifying that it really is not going to help you to run faster than you have strength. A few years ago I did not understand the mom who said, "Hey, as long as my kids are fed, clothed and happy, that's all that matters to me!" But now I know that that alone could make for a full day's work!

12 February 2007

Having it all

It has taken me some time to "surrender" to motherhood. In the beginning I often found myself trying to hide it. I suppose I was a closet mom. Lol. For one thing, the toys were always out of sight. When people came over, even those who were childless, they would literally ask, "Where are the toys? You have a daughter, don't you?" (And she would peek around the corner and blow my cover.) And for another thing, I didn't want to morph into a craft loving, WalMart shopping, easy recipe seeking, trendier, less thrill seeking person. If that makes sense.

It's not that I was ashamed. Honestly. It's that I felt like I'd given up on the dream. The dream women have of having it all. And I'd cashed in my bond too early, so to speak. I was 24 when we had our first child... so, not terribly young, but definitely "in my prime". None of my friends had children. Many of them STILL do not have children. I tried to act like nothing had changed, just because I'd had a baby. "Sure, I'm still playing... why I just had a gig last week." (And never mind that it was a freebie.) But things had changed. And suddenly I was on a different wavelength than everyone else. My day was the polar opposite of their days. My responsibilities had changed, my concerns had changed, and my path in life would be forever changed.

I had a difficult time accepting this. My friends and colleagues were travelling,working their way up and gaining exposure without me. I'd see their accomplishments and somehow feel insignificant. I remember my mentor asking me when my daughter was about a year old, "What are you doing with your music?", and feeling ashamed that I had no breaking news for him. That I saw no way to be both mother and professional musician. I knew that he and his wife had found a way to have it all and that I wasn't going to be so lucky. Maybe I lacked desire. Maybe I lacked ambition. Maybe I didn't deserve it. I didn't know. But I felt guilty.

The truth as I can now see it, is that there probably WAS a way for me to be a mother and a professional. But there is no way I could have been the kind of mother I WANTED TO BE, or I was SUPPOSED to be, and a professional musician. Motherhood has set the highest standard for me... higher than my music, or my dance, or my art, or any other keen interest has. And through the years, I've learned to hold my head high and embrace all that comes with motherhood. I no longer hide my "motherness". Or have it in my head that "I can't have it all". I know Oprah recently did a show on this, and although I am not really a fan, I really liked what she said - that "You can have it all, just not at the same time." Definitely true.

Am I justifying my decision to be a mother... a decision I probably made before I was completely ready? Maybe. A little. But, as I'm sure many of you moms out there have realized or begun to realize, the blessings you receive from raising children are tenfold. You can have everything back and then some. And I would never, ever, change that. That's a full life right there. That's a life with no regrets.

05 February 2007

Love's Own Day: A Family Affair

*updated to include some more ideas relevant to Shannon's WFMW!

I picked these ideas up at an open house at one of my favorite home stores, Belle Maison, in SLC. All these charming ideas come from Tasha Tudor's Valentine's Day anthology All for Love. When her children were little, Miss Tudor used to create tiny little magazines, catalogues, and cards for her children and their dolls, and had them delivered in the mail! Miss Tudor reminisces: "Valentine production starts as soon as Christmas is over. It takes many hours to make the number of small valentines required for this special day. And, of course, each person and each toy character has to receive enough cards to feel warmly loved. Besides the exchanging of the tiny greetings, when the children were little, a whole celebration would be planned."

Cupid's Tea

To inspire you, why not have a "Cupid's Tea" the weekend before Valentine's Day for all your family members and close friends? The purpose: to create homemade valentines.

Valentine's Day Breakfast

Start off the day with an early morning greeting: "Good morning to you, Valentines. Has any sweet child been stung by Cupid's bow and arrow?" (Cupid has left a special old-fashioned valentine underneath each child's pillow.) Begin celebrating at breakfast with heart-shaped cinnamon toast and strawberry muffins with hot drinks served in heart-patterned mugs. Make the table bright with cheery red-and-white heart placemats and napkins.

School Supplies

Slip a small gift in your children's book bag that they can use at school - perhaps a heart-shaped pad, pencils, pencil sharpener, or eraser. Also include a funny valentine from Mom and Dad tucked into their lunch, along with heart-shaped sandwiches (use cookie cutters) and cookies. Festive red-and-white paper napkins complete their Valentine's Day lunches.

The Dolls' Tea Party

After school there's a valentine tea party for all the dolls and stuffed toy friends who keep the children such good company throughout the year. Dolls and toys are, as you no doubt realize, very generous to those good children who take such loving care of them, so when the children arrive at the party, they're sure to find tiny foil-covered, heart-shaped chocolates and valentines waiting for them in the arms of their faithful companions.

Home Sweet Home

In the evening, illuminate the dining room with candlelight for a family St. Valentine's Day party. At each person's place setting, have a gold-foil paper cornucopia pilled with penny-candy motto hearts, chocolate kisses, and pink mints. During dinner, tell the children the story of your courtship.

Remember that family traditions require an investment of creative and emotional energy. Like enduring love, they are true affairs of the heart.

A couple things I like to do for Valentine's Day is pull out my wedding invitation and frame it with a display of other Valentine decorations... homemade valentine's and red candles. I make HUGE heart-shaped sugar cookies with chocolate icing and red hots, or white icing and conversation hearts, for an after school snack. The kids get a Valentine lunch complete with fancy paper bag and napkin, a little love note, apple ring slices with a heart cut-out of the middle, a string of red licorice tied around their graham crackers, red fruit punch and a heart-shaped sandwich. One year I put together a book of memories for my husband, with old pictures and funny captions, love notes, etc. I came up with one page for each year we had been married. Another year I made a big 3D heart of Her$hey's kisses and Ree$e's Peanut Butter Cups. This year our family is participating in a service project that's like the 12 days of Christmas. For 7 days we treat another family to a secret surprise of some kind or other. We are coming up with riddles for them to solve and leave out on their door step. Then we'll come pick it up and leave them a treat if they've answered it correctly. Some ideas are - a list of family movies to pick from, and a bottle of pop and some popcorn. A gallon of ice cream with bananas, Her$hey's chocolate syrup and a jar of marachino cherries. And a compilation of scriptures dealing with love.