Monday, September 29, 2014

We can do this!

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Today is a new day.  Keaton fought me like crazy to get in our workout.  And I get it.  There are a hundred other things I would rather do.  Tonight we start preparing for our 21 Day Fix Challenge group that starts Oct 6.  Twenty one days....we can do this.  Yes we can.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

On Learning

This evening my beautiful Isabella was practicing her flute before bed.  In all honesty, it was awful.  The notes were out of tune and airy.  Oh how she struggled to get the correct fingering.  Forget anything about correct timing. 

As I listened, offering encouraging words, I couldn't help but think back to my beginning days of playing the flute.  I don't play much anymore (the occasional Christmas pageant) but it all seems to be there whenever I pick up my instrument, just like riding a bike.  Hard to imagine a time when the notes where not imprinted in my fingertips or the perfect place to position my lips to create that sweet sound was not automatic.  I must have gone through that rough learning phase.  You know, that time when you wonder if you will ever catch on.  It's a difficult phase.  You see the notes on the paper, imagine the sound coming from your flute but your fingers don't move fast enough and the sound is squawky and airy.  Everyone else seems to be getting it.  You feel awkward and discouraged. 

Isn't it this way with growth, with learning. 

Right now practice time is not always exactly music to my ears.  But one day it will be.  With consistent practice and pushing through the rough patches, one day she will play masterpieces. 

And so it is with all our learning.  There will be rough days.

Then, 26 years later you look back and wonder if you ever really struggled with what now seems second nature.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Parenting: Stand Up

For my oldest child this is an exciting time.  He is in his junior year in high school.  Soon will have his full driver's license.  He has his first car.  He is working a little for his dad and earning his own money.  And...He is dating.  At least he is old enough to date.



In our faith, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, we are counseled by our church leaders to wait upon dating until we are sixteen years of age. In the church pamphlet "For the Strength of the Youth the leaders admonish the following:
A date is a planned activity that allows  a young man and a young woman to get to know each other better. In cultures where dating is acceptable, it can help you learn and practice social skills, develop friendships, have wholesome fun, and eventually find an eternal companion.
You should not date until you are at least 16 years old. When you begin dating, go with one or more additional couples. Avoid going on frequent dates with the same person. Developing serious relationships too early in life can limit the number of other people you meet and can perhaps lead to immorality. Invite your parents to become acquainted with those you date.
 Choose to date only those who have high moral standards and in whose company you can maintain your standards. Remember that a young man and a young woman on a date are responsible to protect each other’s honor and virtue.

 Fast approaching is the homecoming dance for the high school.  My son has anticipated this day since the start of classes.  As his mother, I enjoyed watching him think of ways to ask his date to the dance.  He truly was excited for this event.  As his mother I was excited for him.



Somewhere along the way I forgot the young woman he wanted to take to the dance was not sixteen.  We all did.  Maybe we didn't want to think about it.  I admit the excitement and thrill of this dance and seeing my son so happy almost made me forget...that is until a few days ago. 

A friend of mine posted on FB that he was a little torn about allowing his own daughter attend her high school dance.  Not quite sixteen, her birthday would be five days after her high school dance.  Comments came in saying to just let her go.  She was a good kid.  Five days wouldn't make a difference.  And on the other side came, not sixteen means not sixteen.  If you bend on this one, you will have to bend on other boundaries.  My comment read to follow the teaching of our leaders and host a part for all the non 16 year olds and all those not attending the dance for whatever reason.  The night doesn't have to be sent feeling sorry for herself.

Then I thought of my own son.  While he is sixteen, his date will not be until late November.  UGH.  In addition, she is not a member of our faith.
 
 
Feeling like I had really dropped the ball, I wrestled with where to go from here.  Plans were already made.  The request had already gone out and a yes had been received.  My son was going to hate, detest, not like me very much.  I went to him with my concern.  I made suggestions.  Discussed with him setting an example.  Discussed the counsel from our prophet.  Discussed alternatives to the dance.  I didn't get very far.  I somehow wanted him to make this VERY BIG decision on his own.  You know, the same decision I couldn't make, I wanted him, a sixteen year old boy full of dreams and hormones, to make the right decision.
 
I made a call to his dad (we are divorced).  He agreed this was a sticky situation but we as his parents needed to set the boundary and stick with it.  He stated he would talk with his wife and call me back. 
 
As I left work, headed for home he called and stated that he had spoke with our son.  He said that in the conversation he went over the expectation of our leaders but ultimately left if up to him to make the right decision.  Although I was relieved he told our son what the standard was, I was also disappointed he did not show there was no decision to be made and that as his parents we were advising him not to attend this dance.
 
It was now up to me.
 
I arrived at home and immediately asked to speak with Taron.  Long story short, as his parent I made the decision for him.  He was hurt, angry, disappointed and sad.  Everything he felt was validated and justified.  I hurt.  I hurt for disappointing him.  I hurt for not having done it sooner.  I hurt for being left out there alone to make the decision.  After the direction was given, I discussed what happed with his dad.  Without getting into that conversation, I will say, he left me out on a limb.  As a parent, doing what is right doesn't always lead to being liked... at the time.
 
Shortly after, as I stood at the kitchen sink straightening up, tears flowed.  Wow!!  This parenting thing stinks at times.  I thought it was hard standing up for what was right when I was a teen.  It may just be even harder when you are a parent and do not want to disappoint your children. I don't want to be the one to take away all the fun. I don't want to take away his agency.   I don't want to be the one that doesn't teach that we need to follow the counsel of our prophet.  It's hard knowing I have made my own mistakes and that can be highlighted at times when trying to do what is right.
 
And then the miracle came.  Both of my teenage boys saw the goodness in following all the counsel we have been given and not just the ones that feel good at the time.  My tender son, trying to understand all of this for himself, tells me that he understands why I have made this decision and it is okay.  
 
It will be okay.  Moving forward I pray these choices will get easier.  I imagine they won't.  I can hope that as we strive to STAND Up for what we believe, as we have already made the decision to follow the counsel of our church leaders, each choice, though difficult, will already be made.  Makes following their counsel much easier when the decision to follow all of the precepts has already been made. 
 
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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Reflecting

 
This morning I wake up in my own bed after 7 days of sleeping in a bed at the Marriott Grand Chateau in Las Vegas, Nevada.  First thing I did was download all the vacation pics to my laptop.  I had every intention of doing a day by day highlight post.  However, I can't stop looking at this one photo.
 
 
Everything in me tells me to take a moment and share some thoughts.  We didn't do a whole lot this last week that required much money.  Quite frankly, I don't have much of it.  We did Vegas on a budget.  
 
There were many times where I wished I could take my kids to all the best attractions, go for a ride in a limo and enjoy fun places to eat.  We didn't do that.  As a mama I wanted to give my kids as much as possible.  Yet, come to find out, that isn't what they needed. . . or what I needed.  We simply needed to be together. 
 
Don't get me wrong, we did stuff every day.  But mostly it was about being together.  We talked.  We walked a ton.  We played in the pool at our hotel and at the MGM (a friend gave us a room key to show to get in that works there).  We connected with friends.  Rekindled an old friendship and started some new ones.  We took in the sights.  We cooked together.  We watched movies.  We worked out to DVDs.  I caught myself so many times watching them, my children. I watched them as a whole and individuals. 
 
For me, the entire trip was about time.  Time to snuggle.  Time to laugh.  Time to watch.  Time to be 100% present in their lives.
 
So often I catch myself playing the what if game.  What if I had not married that guy?  What if I had ran off with that guy? What if I finished my degree in nursing instead of switching to English? What if I had taken that job in Dallas?  What if I had gone to Texas to finish my Master's.  What if I didn't have my kids?  What if I had stayed married to the boys dad? What if I won the lottery?  What if I could be a stay home mom?  What if I was thin?  What if I was beautiful?  What if I had a better relationship with my family members?  Oh my goodness it can get out of control.
 
The thing is . . . the thing I am learning/feeling, I am right where I want to be.  To have these four children in my life is beyond a doubt my greatest gift to me and my gift to the world.  I don't have to go looking for things to make me happy or fulfilled.  I have them right here. 
 
This is the good life.  
 
Today as I adjust to the real world and the idea of returning to work tomorrow, I savor the last week and hope to carry the idea of being more present with my children forward.  Now we have a full time job, housework, yard work and all the responsibilities of life to balance.  Part of that balance will be to capture every moment with my children that I can.    
 
 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Making Memories- Memorial Weekend Hike


 Getting four children ranging in age from 4 to 15 to agree on a family activity is not an easy task.  I often struggle to feel like I am providing quality activities for the kids that they will remember.  Making memories is important to me.  I want them to look back on these years as years of joy, development and with any luck, love for their mother. 

It would be easy to take them swimming, which is what most of them wanted to do.  Yes, we would be getting in physical activity.  Yes, it would most likely be a great memory.  However, it costs money.  Quite a bit of money actually.  Next, I don't know about your family but typically once our towels are laid out and our spot claimed, the kids scatter in all directions to do their own thing.  For our Saturday family activity this is not what I wanted.  I wanted my children close to me.  Close to each other.

HIKING

Free.  Good for the soul.  Good for the body.  We are all together.  Appreciate the place we live.  Good for the environment. Can take the dogs. 

My idea involved a family hike up in the mountains.  Oh my goodness.  You would have thought I cut off the arm of one of my children when I listened to all the grumbles and groans as we prepared to head out.  I heard negotiating, begging, questions and down right kids that were upset we were not swimming or doing something else. 

Being the great mother that I am, I simply kept restating how excited I was to be with my children and dogs in the mountains and how much fun it would be to adventure in the outdoors.  I drove to a trail head about 13 miles outside of town.  In the parking area I could see trucks with 4 wheeler trailers.  We don't have those things but figured we could hike it none the less.

With nothing more than a couple water bottles and sunglasses we set off.



 
 Pretty early on I asked Miss Olaya if she was having fun.  She responded that she was and then under her breathe, my little four year old said, "as long as we don't see any poison snakes up here" to her sister.  That's my girl.

 
 The dogs had a fabulous time.  Miss Lucy looks like a black lab in this picture.  She is actually a Newfoundland just back from the groomer with her summer shave down. 


 
 For this photo I asked Olaya if she was happy.  She said she was but she wanted to be at grandma's.  FIGURES!
 
 For a while my phone was taking bad pictures.  Cause....I currently don't have a case and keep it in my bra.  The phone screen got a little clouded with....yep...boob sweat.  You are welcome for that visual. :)

 
 
 Up where we were there was no cell service.  Unfortunately, I could not run my MapMyWalk to see how far we went.  I wasn't so much concerned with distance or speed for this hike.  I simply wanted my children close to me and enjoying all that we are surrounded with.  We hiked up for one hour.  I figured coming down would not take nearly as long.  It didn't.  Only 30 minutes. 
 
 
 As much as I heard a few complaints going up, the laughs and comments of pleasure started as we went down.  I thought I had different children.  They were running and playing.  So different from the struggle for each step headed up. 
 
 
 We didn't make it out injury free.  Miss Olaya had a little struggle with figuring out the proper mechanics behind using a walking stick.  Somehow her stick made direct contact with her eye leaving her a little scratch and some blood to show off.  For the photo above she was using the camera as a mirror to see her injury.
 
 
 I wish I had started doing these things sooner with my children.  Don't get me wrong.  I have always done activities with my kids.  Movies being a big one.  It was a warm day and I thought about taking the kids to a matinee.  There are quite a few movies we want to see right now.  Those are memories also, right?  That doesn't work anymore.  I don't want them to look back and say my mom took me to the movies and we shared popcorn.  I want them to say my mom held my had as we walked up a trail.  We watched as the dogs splashed through the stream.  My mom encouraged me to make it to the top.  I want them the remember walking, serving and laughing together.  We saw caterpillars, butterflies, flowers, birds, trees.  We felt hot, tired and invigorated. 

 
 
 I want these moments when the kids hold hands walking down the trail.  When brother helps sister and sister learns who she can trust.
 
 
 I want them to feel the sun on their face.  The breeze blowing in the trees.
 
 
 Even the dogs played hard.  Our English Pointer never stopped running.  The Newfoundland, she sure enjoyed laying in the stream to rest and cool off.
 
 
 I want memories of laughter and smiles.  They joy that comes from pushing our bodies and feeling fabulous.
 
 
 I want them to appreciate the beauty we have right in our backyard.  Seriously... we live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. 
 
 
 Today was a good day.  We made good choices.  We made some memories.  We did things we didn't want to do and realized we liked it.  Coming off the trail all the kids said they had a good time and that they loved it.  PHEW!!!!
 
 
 Until.....Taron was stung by a bee on his lip right as we were getting in the car. It started swelling pretty fast.
 
 
 Then, as we drove back down the mountain we had the windows open.  All of a sudden, Keaton screams and starts flailing his arms and legs around like crazy.  You could feel the car shaking even as we drove.  A bee flew in the window and went smack on his face.  He didn't actually get stung.  However, that bee didn't stand a chance against his fear based revenge.  And that little bee....wasn't so little. It was huge.  Poor kid! Some luck he has to have that thing make it in the window and smack him in the face.


Love these kids!!!  This mama is feeling today was a success.  Ready for more days just like this.

Ready for a Challenge?

Anyone that knows me knows that I have had my fair share of challenges lately.  From these challenges I am stronger, braver and hopefully come out learning amazing new things about myself.  While I have a different kind of challenge starting, I 'm confident the end result will be the same.

Along with 5 other coaches I will be hosting a mixed group Beachbody Challenge starting June 9th.  This challenge is all about motivation, accountability and  learning something new about myself.

Do you do better when someone is cheering you on? That's exactly what happens in Beachbody Challenge Groups. We share our struggles and triumphs, cheer each other on and pick each other back up when we stumble. Um, and there's some really sweet prizes sometimes.

This is an amazing opportunity for you to get some great coaching from me and 5 other coaches. The challenge begins June 9. I am looking for 3-5 people to join with me and get their summer started off on the right foot! Leave a comment below (or shoot me a message if you'd rather) if this sounds like something you need in your life!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Everything Kind of Love

It is in our nature to love.  Love makes the world go round.  People search for it.  Wars have been fought for it.  Works of art have been created for it.  Having said that, I don't believe it is in our nature to open ourselves up to the idea of love when we know there will be an end.  Yes, love ends every day.  Relationships end.  Marriages end.  Love songs come to an end.  And yet, we don't ever enter with the idea that this will end.

Right now I find my heart battling what it knows and what it wants.  My heart has been blessed to welcome three spirits into my home as foster children.  One we received on his fourth day of life, he is now 4 weeks old.  The older two, age 3 and age 2, came last Wednesday.  Their mother, my sister, got lost for a bit.  While she is finding her way back, I am acting in proxy for her, loving these children.

First Night

Therefore, with every touch, with every kiss, with every goodnight, with every 2 AM feeding I feel my heart growing.  I am amazed at the capacity a heart has to love. I am amazed at how when I thought I had nothing left, when I felt far to inadequate to provide for these children, my heart just grew, and it grew and it grew.

Every Night :)


But....with that growth comes the knowledge that one day those beautiful creatures that fill my heart now, will return to their mother.  Don't get me wrong.  Every night (and frequently during the day) I pray she continues to get stronger.  I pray her capacity is strengthened. I pray she is preparing herself to be the best mother she can be to these children.  I pray her children will be returned to her.

Meal Time


That said, I am wildly aware that loving these children as my own (because there is no other way to love a child in your home) will one day come to an end when they return to live with my sister.



I don't know if I can adequately express the spectrum of feelings associated with loving a foster child.  My heart swells when I see little Baby I smile as I sing to him when I think he is asleep.  My heart is overjoyed when Little M holds her arms out for me to kiss and hug her goodnight.  I am knocked over with pride when the oldest, Little E finds me after attending his second Sunday at church beaming with joy as he shows me his picture he colored in primary class.

At Church

How do you move forward with never wanting this to end and yet praying my tender sister will have her children returned to her as soon as humanly possible.  When loving these children, we don't just clear out a drawer for them.  They become a part of every thing we do.  Extra hooks in the bathroom for towels.  Extra car seats in the car- if not a larger car.  Extra little kid plates and silverware for the kitchen.  Step stools to reach the bathroom sink for hand washing.  Little cars and trucks for this confused little boy.  Princess dresses for this little girl that follows my own little princess around like a shadow.  A baby swing in the living room.  Bottles.  Diapers. Wipes.  A bassinet by my bedside.  Our entire routine has changed.  And that change is not only felt by me but by my husband and four children.  They are making sacrifices as well.  For us to make it out the door in the morning it is a team effort to get these little ones ready.  The schedule in our home has become dictated by 8 PM bedtime for the little ones and now as sleep is ever so coveted by me, I do not follow far behind in getting to bed.

Trying For A Nap


My love for my sister grows every day.  I see her efforts and listen to her words as she mourns not feeling her babies in her arms.  I can not begin to imagine the pain, the overwhelming pain, that must be felt to have not ever had a chance to take her baby home from the hospital.  The pain that it must be to see empty car seats in the back of her car.  There has only been one moment when I was angry, like truly angry with my sister.  One night, Little E woke around midnight screaming and continued to scream for nearly two hours.  I had no way to console him.  He could not communicate his pain.  Only then did I fight off feelings of thinking she did not deserve to have her children back.  Only then I threatened to run away with these kids in the event she was to get them back.  I am sad I felt that way.  My heart eased as this little guy finally drifted off to sleep calling for his mommy.  His feelings for his mother are real.  His pain is real.  He doesn't understand why he has to be with me.  No matter how  good I am to him, I am not his mother. 

Today my sister came for her scheduled visit.  It was a good visit.  My role is to support her and encourage her as she works on establishing boundaries and learn and utilize parenting skills (which we could all be better at).  Again my heart swells to watch her interact with her children and see their love for each other.  After the visit ended, the tears from the children had stopped as I distracted them as she left by getting them to help frost a cake. 
Distraction


After all was returned back to normal, Kevan and I found ourselves sitting at the kitchen table with him holding the baby.  I watched him ever so tenderly love on the baby as he was fighting between sleep and awake. I couldn't help but be filled with love for my husband as I watched him parent this baby and I also felt my heart break as I was washed over with the idea that this will all end.

I am determined to love these children with everything that is in me.  I will continue to love them as my own.  I will love them with the knowledge that by loving them with abandon I open my heart up for pain.  As a family, we all will incorporate the life of having 7 children and all that that means knowing one day we will have extra hooks in the bathroom for towels.  Knowing we will have extra little plates and silverware.  Knowing the space in my heart that has been filled with these three children will one day feel their absence.

I love my sister.  I pray her children are returned to her arms as soon as possible.  I continue to pray I can be proxy for her in her absence and continue to love these children with everything that is in me....I know it will hurt.  They deserve nothing less than an everything kind of love.

This is what it looked like while I was typing this post-
kids joined us to watch Pro Bowl and baby needed some loving while our
Miss Olaya tried to convince me her DVD would play even though
it is scratched beyond the point it will play