On a lighter note, perhaps I should feel sorry for my poor friends in Southern California:
* Much as I try to instill civilization into the minions, at times I feel it might be futile.
Case #1: Yesterday, while helping (i.e. hurrying) one of my daughters into the car before Church, I made the discovery that said daughter had failed to put on any underwear. She tried to deny it but she was marched back inside and ordered to dress appropriately. I wish I could say this was one of my younger children but let's just say she is older than 6.
Case #2: My kids love to visit several older people who live on our street. Last week, Allison, Sarah, and Eliza worked their hearts out making cards and cutting pictures and writing their love for one couple, the Hatches. On Saturday, I told them they could take their stack of love over. They walked out all bundled up and with their arms overflowing (they get a bit carried away with the artwork stuff). They came back twenty minutes later with suckers in their mouths and the piles of artwork still in their hands. When I asked them about it, they said, "Oh yea, Brother and Sister Hatch weren't there, so we went to Sister Bulldog's. She gave us these suckers." Great. And I'm sure the pile of cards intended for another neighbor went unnoticed while she handed out suckers to my greedy beggars.
* I lost 3.8 lbs my first week on Weight Watchers. On my second week, I gained one. No surprise there, as I didn't stick to the plan. This week, I'm determined to get back on track.
* I had a pretty great week last week. I've been working harder at our family meal plan, cooking some new, fun recipes, baking bread on Fridays, and giving more time and attention to the other meals. I've been hitting the treadmill on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6:45, while DH is still home to tame the masses. No big failures on my part last week, unless you count the one pound I gained (after losing 3.5 the week before). But I still hit a low point Thursday. Though my health is mostly better, I still feel like I'm running on empty. Even on nights when I go to bed early and don't wake up with sick kids, I still wake up tired. I'm tired of being tired and feeling like there's not much I can do about it. I'm tired of needing a nap most days. I was pretty discouraged that day (it didn't help that DH called at the last minute cancelling our date night because of a work obligation). And that's when I made the mistake of surfing some blogs I haven't visited in a while. I hopped on one where the shiny perfection and happy faces and constant over-the-top traditions and happy life just made me feel worse. I should have stayed away, but as I read more and more posts, the fake mommy guilt piled up. I started to berate myself for not doing fancy Christmas traditions with a fancy elf or printing up fancy scriptures for my kids to memorize or creating a work of art as a family to display prominently in my home. I don't stay up all night playing the Easter bunny or . . . and so on.
But then I realized . . . who does? The trappings of modern day life and the constant barrage of other people's talents on display in the modern age give us a distorted picture of what ordinary, happy life is. How many good mothers have there been throughout the history of the world who mothered like that? Probably not very many. I think of the simplicity of the Little House series, where the children were happy to play with their few toys and to get a penny and a peppermint stick for Christmas. Somehow, I think that a hundred years ago, if a mother stayed up all night, it was out of necessity, not because she was helping the Easter bunny leave his fancy clues all over the house for her darling kids to enjoy. The work of life and the demands of every day meant a lot more work and less free time than we have today.
Even if I had the energy, I don't want my home to look like a magazine spread. I spend extra time on things that are important to me, like photography or keeping a family history or (lately) cooking, but mostly, I crave simplicity. I like the happiness of working together in our simple traditions. I just need to keep it in perspective better. Either that, or be more careful about what blogs I read.
* While I wouldn't wish health challenges on anyone, there are things you learn, especially about priorities and what is really important. Sister Julie B. Beck, former Relief Society president, spent ten years of her life with diminished capacity.
It was after the birth off her third child that Sister Beck began more than a decade of illnesses that taught her lessons she hopes to share with women today. During this time, she was PTA president, a Primary president and helping on her parents' farm after her father was called as an Assistant to the Twelve Apostles and later as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
With emotion, she recalled moments of despair. "This is my life?" she would ask herself after attacks would send her to bed for days at a time. "I was in a wrestle with the Lord, like Enos, and the answers came in little pieces, in drips and drops, line upon line."
She said she learned to prioritize, to scale down to the bare essentials — make time for personal spiritual growth and for family. The family had daily devotionals and scripture reading; the children received piano lessons and were allowed one other activity. Sister Beck laughed when she related one of the most important lessons she learned during her illnesses. During one particularly challenging day, she expressed the feeling that she just could not accomplish anything. Her daughter replied, "You can smile."(source)I think about that and wonder how much of that experience when I read things like this amazing address that Sister Beck later gave. In it, she shares how to prioritize:
Years ago I began using a system that works for me, and maybe it will work for you. There was a time when I needed to prioritize, and in one of those sacred meetings between me and the Lord, He gave me three categories that I have worked from, and they have been a guide in my life. The categories are the essential things, the necessary things, and the nice-to-do things. I started writing those things down. I asked, “What has to go in the category of essential?” What things must be taken care of, and if I don’t take care of them, the blessings of eternal life won’t be mine nor will they be my family’s.
I wrote at the top of the essential list revelation. I have to be able to know the mind and will of God. Therefore, I have to do the things in my life that put me in a position to hear His voice. Reading the scriptures then became an essential for me because the scriptures contain the mind and will of God, and by reading and studying from them, I can hear His voice and receive His guidance in all aspects of my life. I came up with a simple rule that was easy for me to keep: Every day I will spend some time in the scriptures. The accumulative power and learning of that commitment has changed my life and helped me learn daily the mind and will of God.
Personal prayer took on new meaning when I knew that I needed to know the mind and will of God. I have taken a paper and pencil with me most of the time since then to my prayers. I don’t always receive an answer or instruction, but I am ready. I want to be ready to learn what the Lord would have me do in my day. Who needs my help? How can I increase my faith this day? How can I strengthen my family? What things do I need to correct in order to be worthy to receive His Spirit? He will tell me.
Taking time to ponder and fast with sincerity took on added meaning when I knew that
revelation was an essential for me. Making covenants and keeping covenants is on the essential list. Going to sacrament meeting and repenting every week took on added meaning. Going to the temple and fulfilling that responsibility frequently became an essential. Sharing the gospel is something the Lord tells us is an essential, and we are charged as part of the house of Israel to share that message. I need to open my mouth and find ways to share and express my testimony.
Service took on added meaning. The Lord said if you want eternal life, give all that you have and follow me. So those things went on my essentials list. The list wasn’t very long, but there were essential things that I could see to and make sure that they were taken care of.
* I love watching the wonderful people my older children are turning into. Sure, Michael is a clown and a jokester.
* Joey is quite loving and very capable. He also looks pretty sharp in a tie.
* Lillian is wonderful. She's thriving in her advanced 8th grade program and is becoming quite a musician with the piano and violin.
* I love these pictures of my oldest and youngest together. Cami looks just like Lillian did at her age and it's easy to see the resemblance remains, especially in the beautiful eyes. Where did the time go? I remember when Lillian was the delightful 11-month-old running around everywhere.
* Cami's learned to climb up stairs, but not down yet. We've filled our landing at the top of the stairs with an assortment of little people, little animals and houses and such. She loves to climb up there and play, but she doesn't have a huge attention span. She climbs up, plays for a bit, and then screams until one of us goes up and carries her down. She gets upset when we try to turn her around and show her how to get herself down, but I'm sure in a few weeks, she'll catch on.