Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I'm loving it!

Thanks to Chalice Leaman (of Mesa AZ) for the great family photos -- it's no small feat getting ten people to look nice (my job) or look at the camera all at the same time (hers). I think between the both of us, we did all right.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Three Years Old (Wordless Wednesday)

I took Harmony out for a quick photo shoot the other day. I was so pleased with how these captured her personality! By the way, I still have a few spaces available if you are looking for family photos this fall -- my schedule is here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mothering Milestones that Change your Life: Kids in School

A friend of mine with two young toddlers told me after seeing my schedule that she is much more determined to be organized and is working on a similar schedule for herself.

Rather than be encouraging in her quest, I wanted to cry out, "No! You're at a completely different stage of life than I'm in. Enjoy it!" I wish I could have taken the time to sit down with her and explain that right now, she's at a unique stage in life. There are no school bells and very few activities demanding she be somewhere at a certain time. Without that structure, she's free to create her own schedule completely around the needs of her little ones and her own desires. It doesn't matter so much if grocery shopping gets put off a day or two while she spends a few days working on a huge project. The dishes can wait a little bit while she read stories to children. If the weather is nice, it's wonderful to be able to take a walk and let the kids romp at the park without worrying about being back in time to pick up your kindergartner or that there won't be time later in the day to finish those kitchen dishes.

I miss that part of those days -- the unstructured parts of the day where I could just let whims dictate how I filled my time. When the kids seemed restless, I could rush off to the park or a museum at virtually a moment's notice. I hardly ever planned fun activities for my kids because they just seemed to happen.

(One of our favorite summertime activities was wading in the river behind our house. Here, Lillian is 6, Joey is 4, Michael is 3, and Allison and Sarah are 1.)

But I believe there are several milestones in mothering that change your life and your daily habits. The first is when you have children in school. Once the school schedule starts to break up your day, determining when you wake up and when you have to be doing what, you start to lose a little bit of that magical, let-things-happen part of your life. It happens gradually, but it happens. As more and more of your children attend school, your days are dictated more and more by that schedule (and yes, you homeschooling moms have a different story to tell). After school, the time gets filled more and more with homework, piano lessons, activities, and juggling all those balls means the "afternoon shift" leaves little time for catch-up if you get behind in the morning.
(Lillian on her first day of first grade -- I had no idea how much my life would change in the next five years!)

At my stage of life, with five kids in grades 2-7, three preschoolers, and pregnancy that divide my time and energy, I don't have the luxury of wasting much time. If I get behind on the housework or miss a grocery shopping day, our family suffers. I have to be organized and disciplined enough to stick to a basic schedule or things fall apart. As part of that scheduling, I've lost a bit of the ability to just let the days unfold. I've found that at my stage in life, I have to plan the fun outings with the kids or they don't happen. I have to set aside the day and time for library storytime or we end up missing it. It works well because I have gradually learned the discipline and work ethic I need at this point, but it's not something I relish about this time in my life.

But at my friend's stage of life, with just young children at home, life is so different and the schedule should be as well. So my advice those with young children is an echo of so much advice given to young moms: Enjoy these days! Enjoy these times when you can fit life around your family's whims and needs and not have to fit your life around a schedule. Sure, set up some basic structure and scheduling, and if your house is falling apart due to lack of attention, then get to work! But do it around your kids' naps and your husband's work schedule. Take some time to pursue your interests and talents (another thing I have to schedule in or it doesn't happen). Leave some time to just let life unfold.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Overpopulation Myths (Friday Favorites)

I think these videos are very well done, and if you go to the site that produces them, they back up all their statements with research and facts.

Some other interesting articles about the troubles with declining birthrates around the world, along with a few telling quotes:

Where Have All the Children Gone? Number of Children Declining Across the Country
This article includes these facts:
* According to the 2010 Census, "95 percent of U.S. counties have fewer children today than they did in 2000."
*"It's more common to have a dog (43 million homes) than a child under 18 (38 million)."

Low Birth Rate Has Economic Consequences
* "With above replacement fertility for 150 years, many programs were instituted that worked well in growing populations, including pay-as-you-go Social Security and Medicare, he said. “Basically both of these systems tax the young to pay for the old,” Becker said. “But it’s getting harder and harder to do that. For example, Japan is facing a real problem. The population is getting older and there are fewer young people. Germany, Russia, and a number of other countries are facing this problem, as well.”"

Population Implosion? Low Fertility and Policy Responses in the European Union
* "At the same time, low fertility is accelerating the ageing of European populations. As a region, Europe in 2000 had the highest percentage of people age 65 or older — 15 percent. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of the Census, this percentage is expected to nearly double by 2050.[1] These demographic trends portend difficult times ahead for European economies. For example, a shrinking workforce can reduce productivity. At the same time, the growing proportion of elderly individuals threatens the solvency of pension and social insurance systems. As household sizes decrease, the ability to care for the elderly diminishes. Meanwhile, elderly people face growing health care needs and costs."

Demographic Winter more Certain than Global Warming
* "If you have contracting economies, what does this say about our future ability to pay for a baby boom generation coming into its senior years, soon to leave the workforce and needing support? What does it say about our future ability to pay down our current huge budget deficits? The engines of commerce will be strained as the workers of today fail to replace themselves, the consumer base shrivels, and you have fewer innovators."

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Q&A Thursday: Dining Table

Today's Question comes from Sarah:
Where did you get your dining room table? I have been on a quest for a few years for a table that is real wood, light colored (I'm woefully out of fashion right now apparently), can seat 6 daily and easily expand to seat 10, have pedestals and rounded edges (I imagine I can seat even more than if the corners were squared and had legs) be able to take the lumps and bumps of kids and is affordable. Yours seems to fit that bill.
We bought our table at a store called Oak Plus about ten years ago. It has since gone out of business in our area. Our table has two leaves, the great pedestals, and we can seat up to ten people when necessary. Eight fits quite comfortably, but since we have nine seated at the table (Katie's in a high chair nearby) now, it's getting a bit cramped.

And Sarah, I feel your pain in your quest, because we are on a similar quest to find a new table ourselves. We love the brightness of our maple kitchen (when we were building, alder was the fashion), and were glad our table matched that. Since then, though, the trend seems to be going towards dark, dark, dark and it has been tough for us to find what we're looking for.

Our plan is to fill the space with two square tables with pedastals. Pushed together, the two tables will seat twelve, and then when we have company, we can pull the two tables apart and seat four more by having two tables instead of one. While there are tons of dark tables, we have not been able to find anything in maple anywhere on the internet or in local furniture shops.

Luckily, my husband is fairly handy and we were able to find two pedestals on Ebay rather inexpensively. Since I just want a basic, unadorned square top, he's planning on making it. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping by Christmas we'll have a new table. Good luck in your quest!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Beautiful Fall (Wordless Wednesday)

Someday, I might take more time for nature photography:

But for now, I get more excited about the WILD LIFE I enjoy every day:

Monday, October 03, 2011

Weekend Thoughts

(Sarah's paper dolls from her activity packet)

I've decided General Conference is like a well-attended baby shower. You get so many exciting gifts that it's hard to keep track of them all. It isn't until you take them home, examine them one by one, and decide where they fit into your life and home that you really appreciate the thoughtfulness of the gifts and how helpful they will be.

This past weekend, we listened to eight hours of speakers and lovely music. Eight hours is a lot of time to dedicate to listening and learning, particularly when you have eight kids, but to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, this is an important weekend that comes twice year. We believe our Church is a modern restoration of Christ's Church, and that includes having prophets and apostles on the earth today -- we believe that our leaders are not just inspired, not just generally good, but that they have the same calling and authority as prophets did anciently. They are not perfect men, but they are men who have the calling to speak for God, and we take that seriously.

So, what do modern prophets speak about for eight hours? Lots of things, but in particular their testimony and the doctrine of Christ and his Atonement and Ressurection. They also instruct us in how better to teach and rear our families, how to be better examples and more charitable, how to respond to tragedy and trial, and how to communicate with God more fully through prayer and scripture study.

One of my favorite talks for its clarity and focus was about how Latter-day Saints view and honor the family and why we have children. If you've ever wondered why I or other LDS families you know have more kids than the average household, this talk is for you. Later in the week, the words of all the talks will be posted and I'll do some more extensive quotes.

One of the best parts of conference for our family was the announcement that the Provo Tabernacle, which was burned in a fire last Christmas, will be turned into a temple. This is a building that has housed meetings, graduations (including DH's), concerts (including one of my BYU choir's), and more.
I'd driven by it on Thursday and looked at its charred remains and felt so sad. What a great tribute to the people who sacrificed to build it in the first place to have it become a temple. Beauty for ashes.

Despite the beautiful feast conference is, it can be tough on kids to pay attention that long.

My kids were really, really good for the first two hours. See?

They colored and took notes at the table and were amazingly quiet. The second hour, they all helped me sort through all our kid puzzles. We did every single one (probably 25 to 30 total), trying to find and match up all the homeless pieces.

They weren't QUITE as good for the rest of the sessions. I heard the words "boring" and "how much longer?" more than a few times, but there wasn't any fighting and I know at least the older ones were listening.

We try to make sure the weekend isn't just sitting and listening. We roasted s'mores in our backyard. We went for a walk to the duck pond yesterday, where Sarah caught a new friend and was disappointed when I wouldn't let her keep him. We enjoyed the fall colors. We let the kids play outside between sessions, where Michael led three of his sisters in an elaborate Orc-fighting game.

It was a beautiful weekend.


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