I started this week absolutely tired and overwhelmed with cleaning up from our trip, getting our house in order, and at the same time determined to start our summer schedule and chores off right. Every room I'd walk into had huge projects needing to be tackled, put away, sorted, organized, or cleaned. It was quite discouraging.
Today, though, and for the last few days, I've been on top of the world. The daily efforts to catch up and make progress have really paid off. My house is clean, the floor is mopped, everything's been vacuumed (well, except the van -- we'll get to that next week), we mowed the lawn, our strawberries and roses are mostly weeded, I swept and sprayed off our back patio, the kids have been doing their chores and I've been keeping up on the housework, and DH cleaned out a good part of the garage. That last one? A huge boost to my sanity. I'm tired, but it's a good, "Look how much we accomplished" tired, and I'm so excited about the rest of the summer.
It's amazing how much lift a few good days can bring. And counting your blessings is always good.
I've got quite a few to count:
* I've really felt blessed with energy and wisdom in catching up this week.
* Right on schedule, at nearly ten months old, Harmony is now sleeping through the night, at least most of the time. I'm emerging from the fog that is interrupted sleep. I've gotten a few naps this week and woke from them overflowing with energy (I even tried a new recipe for dinner one night, which for me is huge!). It's as if my cup of sleep is finally full to the brim and I can drink fully enough to cover my thirst, rather than just limping along with just enough sips to get to the next resting point.
* I love watching my children grow and growing along with them. I have marveled this week at what great children they are:
Lillian, with her love for cooking (she didn't get that from me!), has taken on making lunch every day for us. She loves it, and it is a huge blessing, since I use that time to help the others work on cleaning downstairs and their own rooms. And at age ten, she is responsible enough to look after the younger ones so that both DH and I can work on a project like the garage. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it's called having responsible older children! This is the first summer where I've been able to be outside working on a project while the kids are inside with Lillian. I look forward to a bit more freedom to come and go without dragging the whole gang with me as she grows older. She's also been amusing herself this week by playing lots of games and teaching them to her younger siblings. The other day, she had the twins enthralled for an hour playing war and a few other games. She spontaneously engages lovingly with her siblings. She is such an amazing, wonderful help. (She also hates getting her picture taken, so I have to be sneaky about it)
Joseph, with his zeal for learning, is always asking questions I can't answer. He loves to read and explore. He's taken to reading some of the newspaper and asking me to explain political cartoons and various headlines. He loves to help read to Eliza at night. We struggle with helping him learn to do chores without complaining, but when he's engaged in a task, there is no better worker. Tonight, as I told DH I'd clean up the kitchen and do the dishes, he offered, of his own accord, to help. Then he stayed with me until the kitchen was all clean. He even filled up the dishwasher -- his least favorite chore -- with nary a word in complaint! He's always surprising me.
Michael, with his loving heart, is so blessed with two good friends nearby. They are daily off on adventures, including visiting Ben's secret hideout that no one knows about except Joey and probably Sam and Ben's mom and dad and Conner and maybe some other people too. He thrives on friends. He also thrives on learning the gospel. I've been reading Old Testament stories to the kids this week, and every time, he's told me, "I love these true stories." Tonight, he asked me to read him more. He'd rather learn about the scriptures than read any other book. What a tender, believing heart he has.
Allison loves life and lives it to the fullest. She and Sarah have made friends with the gals at the bakery at our grocery store. The bakers are always excited to see them and hear them walk up and say, "Do you have cookies for good little girls?" They love to pick dandelions and weeds and take them to Sister Hatch across the street, who always accepts their gift with graciousness. This week, I brought five kids to the dentist. When we walked in, Allison grabbed a reader's digest and sat down next to an older lady on a couch. "Will you read this to me?" she asked. The lady, though taken aback, was delighted at the attention and found a kid's magazine to read to Allison instead. Allison believes that the whole world is her best friend.
Sarah is sweet and smart. She loves to fill her mouth with sweet strawberries from our garden and wants everything to be exactly fair and equal. She thinks I'm the best mommy in the world, (that is unless she's in trouble, when she tells me she wishes I wasn't in this family). When she picked out her prize at the dentist, she had to rush back to show the technician what she chose, "Look, it's Nemo! Oh, I love my Nemo SO MUCH!" When Allison chose a bracelet, she worked out a trade. "Allison says she will share her bracelet with me and I will share my Nemo with her. We're so lucky to be twins!"
Eliza, oh sweet Eliza! I never cease to marvel at what a special, sweet girl she is. DH and I often remark at what a perfect stage Eliza is at right now. She's fun, loving, excited, cute, and a whole bunch of other positive adjectives. When I was pregnant with her I was stretched to the absolute limit of my endurance. My two two-year-olds were some of the toughest two-year-olds on the planet. We were facing delay after delay on building our new home and I was trying to keep my home immaculate so it would sell for a good price. Soon after my ultrasound revealed a little girl, I was pondering on what her name should be. Eliza came easily, and both my husband and I agreed on it, but as I considered different middle names, I felt the Spirit whisper, "Joy." That moment moved me to tears and brought me hope and strength as I carried her beneath my heart. Now, two and a half years into her life, she is such a joy. I've never had such a loving, sweet, fun, and yes, compliant child. She learned on vacation how to get out of her pack-n-play herself. DH and I cringed, hoping it wouldn't give her the idea to climb out of her crib at home. It did. She's now in a toddler bed and while I wouldn't say the transition has been easy, it's been much smoother than I expected and she's been so excited to sleep in a big girl bed.
Harmony also lives up to her name. She was a patient little traveler last week, enjoying our hikes and putting up with a strange place and strange activities like swimming. Since we got home, she's been walking around all day long like a drunken sailor, and grinning about it. Today she climbed up five steps on the stairs! So little and yet so active.