Friday, July 16, 2010

All good things must come to an end

including Daddy Trips. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of my family tomorrow. It has been a great experience. My only concern is that I don't think I've fully enjoyed it because I've been rushing around trying to get stuff done! The scriptures tell us we should be "anxiously engaged in a good cause," (D&C 58:27), but sometimes I'm just anxious.

While DH has been gone, I:
* Got our intercom fixed
* Got our vacuum repaired
* Tracked down warranty repairs on our oven
* Tracked down and scheduled a warranty check on a bed 
(Sometimes I think everything in this "brand new" house is breaking, but I guess that's what happens after nearly 4 years)
* Replaced the hardware on five chests of drawers
* Spent hours cleaning and organizing our storage area
* Rearranged and cleaned out everything in the little girl's room
* Purchased and arranged a new chest of drawers, some shelves, and some hooks for the little girls room
* Put together two sets of shelves
* Ran a 5K while pushing two kids in a stroller 
(REALLY!  Well, all but the 8 minutes I spent walking)
* Shot & edited one photoshoot (with a borrowed camera since DH took mine -- thanks Desiree!)
* Ran dozens of errands
* Took Harmony & Katie walking and to the park five or six times
* Spent lots of quiet time with my two littlest, including reading dozens of books to Harmony
* Taught a Relief Society lesson on the Atonement 
(what a heavy topic!)
* Prepared a lesson on the Priesthood for Relief Society (I guess I'm becoming the designated substitute, which is fine with me; I love teaching)
* Made cards to help organize Church cleaning (this is my real Church assignment right now)
* Went to my new doctor for the first time for my regular bloodwork (I have hypothyroidism and my old doctor is no longer practicing)
* Went to the library
* Cleaned out my closet & bathroom
* Mopped the floors and vacuumed
* Did Laundry twice, including bedsheets
* ALMOST finished my 200-page 2009 Book, entitled "Are We There Yet?"

It has been wonderful to fill my days full with the kind of work I don't usually get to, but that 2009 book weighed me down all week -- it took 80 scrapbook pages to finish up the best of the photos from the year, and what would have been enjoyable in small pieces felt like a chore as a huge chunk.  I finally finished most of it last night after midnight and printed it to read and edit. I still need to create a cover and order it, but a few more hours and it will be done.

I was annoyed by all that it required to put together, but as I read it carefully looking for typos and mistakes, I am reminded again of why I do this. There are so many gems I've found among the weekly descriptions, from a record of prayers answered to notes on how I'm doing schedules or chores to hilarious things the kids have done and said.  As I'm reading through it, I'm finding all sorts of things I had forgotten about.  I'm glad I'll have this record of my life.

For your enjoyment, here are some of my favorite scrapbook pages, followed by some short blurbs from the book:
From January:
"Sarah -- She's been pouty and over-tired a lot lately.  This morning, she was hiding a cup full of Cherrios in the mud room and eating them while we were trying to get everyone off to Church.  I made her put them in the kitchen, and we were off to Church.  Just as the closing song got over, Sarah took off her shoes and said sweetly, "there's something in my shoe."  She reached in, pulled out a small handful of Cheerios, and ate them!"


Eliza's Favorite Person
Today as I picked up Eliza from nursery (she still screams every time we leave her), the nursery worker was asking her if she liked all her brothers and sisters.  "Yes!" she said, and I asked her who was her favorite.  "Jesus Christ!"  She said.  We laughed, and I clarified, "Who is your favorite brother or sister?  Lillian, Joey, Michael, Sarah, Allison, or Harmony?"  She immediately exclaimed, "Harmony!"  She is so sweet.

 From February:

Joey earned a book this week at school because he’s improved a level in his reading.  He chose Calvin and Hobbes and has been reading it constantly this week and taken to drawing his own comics.  Some of them are a little weird, others are off-the-wall, and some are funny.  He stapled together his own book of comics this week and read them all to me and his siblings.  He even put in a dedication page:  “To Mommy, Lillian and Michael who always laf (sic) at my comics.” 

Bedtime Stories
Usually I read to the kids at night, but this week, I got a box of books out of storage and DH found “My Side of the Mountain” among them and is reading it to the kids, touting is as “a little kid being Man vs. Wild.”  Even the twins are interested, and it’s been fun to see five kids lying down by the fire listening to their dad read.
Gymnastics Showcase
Joey and Michael did their routine next.  At one point, they had a hanging contest to see who could hold onto the bar for the longest.  Michael was among the first to drop to the floor, and one by one the other kids dropped down, leaving just Joey and one other boy.  They held on and held on for quite a long time, then finally Joey dropped down.  The other boy dropped down a few seconds later, and Joey went right over to him and shook his hand, congratulating him.  Both DH and I were really impressed with his sportsmanship.   
Foundational Habits
I’ve been evaluating our family a lot lately.  I tend to feel discouraged when things aren’t going the way I want them to.  I feel personally responsible for all the problems in our house, even though I know that we have 9 people in our family who have their own agency.  I feel like a failure during the daily battle to get Joey to do his chores (today I asked him to pick up ten things in the entryway and came back to find nothing changed.  When I confronted him about it, with a self-satisfied smile, he told me he had “picked up” ten things.  Picked them up, then dropped them back on the ground!).  I feel like a failure when I raise my voice or respond more sharply to discipline issues than I want to.  I feel bad that Michael’s not improving on his reading fast enough.  If I started to list all the small things that aren’t going well in our family, it’s easy to feel like I’m not doing enough.

And yet, as I have pondered and prayed about the way I feel, I don’t feel any censure from Heavenly Father.  Instead, I feel the Spirit direct me to see the things that we are doing well.  When I worry about the future and wonder about how my children will turn out, I have felt that the habits we are consistent in are the foundation for all the blessings we desire, and that He is pleased with those efforts.  We have family home evening each week and the Spirit is present when we teach our lessons.  We read the scriptures together daily.  We pray as a family.  We genuinely love our children and express it often.  We read together as a family.  Ultimately, those simple habits will lay the foundation for good things to come.  Parenting can be messy.  There are days and moments when I’m completely at a loss, but in the overall scheme of things, the foundation is in place, and that is something I can feel good about.
From March:  
Parent Teacher Conferences
Lillian's teacher, Mrs. W (fourth grade), loves her and says she's doing wonderfully.  We teased her about her nearly perfect scores, and laughed about the self-evaluation she'd done.  She was supposed to rate herself on a scale of 1 to 5 in various areas.  She'd sprinkled 4's liberally throughout, so we asked her about it -- "Lillian, why did you give yourself a 4 in 'Coming to School on time'?  You're always here on time."  "Well, there was that one time I had a dentist appointment and I was late."  The other fours were for similar reasons.  DH told her she shouldn't mark herself down, but I told him she didn't want to seem stuck-up by choosing fives for everything.  Her reading is now testing at the 8th grade level.

"Jo Jo --  Loves --  Me!"
Joseph has a real generous nature.  Earlier this year, he used some of his tickets saved from doing chores to buy Lillian a Nancy Drew book from the prize bin.  This week, he continued that trend by using all his tickets to buy Eliza a Care Bear video he knew she wanted.  She has been watching it every day since.  She's a little obsessed with the sticky-sweet fuzzy things, sleeping with five or six of them (and a dozen other animals) around her at night, carrying them around with her, and singing all the songs from the DVDs.  So of course, she was thrilled and asks daily, with the little pause in her voice between words, to "watch -- Care -- Bears -- Joey -- gave -- me -- Christmas!"  We pointed out that Joey didn't give it to her for Christmas but that he did it because he loves her and taught her to say, "JoJo -- Loves -- Me," which of course makes both of them smile from ear to ear.
*  I went walking last night and found a cell phone on the sidewalk.  I tracked down the owner, a teenage boy, by calling the number labeled "Mom."  He came and picked up the phone but didn’t say thank you.  He was kind of a punk.  But I rather expected that, because his parents, who answered the "mom" number, didn't say thank you either.

From April:

Lillian and DH in Chicago
I did well without DH, but it was exhausting to be the only parent.  And much as I missed DH, it was Lillian I missed the most!  She has a way of jumping in to help that I just take for granted.  Ask her to set a table and you can count on it being done.  I asked some of the other kids several times to help with simple things like that and let’s just say it would have been easier to do it myself!  And I kept forgetting about the chores she usually does.  I’d walk by the kitchen garbage and wonder why it smelled, then I realized I hadn’t taken it out yet.  I’d forget the cats until they mewed pathetically at the back door.  She takes such responsibility that I hardly even think about the jobs she does.  Her cheerful kindness to her siblings was also missing.  Everyone is so excited to have her come home.  During the morning session of conference, Joey made a welcome home sign in the entryway and made her bed and put away her clothes.  The other kids made notes to both Lillian and DH, Michael spelling out phonetically:  “To Lileyn and Daddy:  I luve you!  Fom Michael.” 


And that's all for now -- I've still got hours of work to do and my family's going to be here tomorrow!  Wish me luck!


Wendy said...

Which size are you doing now?? 12x12 or are you doing the smaller size still??? Those look really great!!

Handsfullmom said...

Wendy, these are 12 x 12. Blurb added that size as an option a year or so ago, but I haven't wanted to change -- their 8 x 10 books are much cheaper. But I figured I'm saving a lot because I fit more on a page. Last year's book was 320 pages, this year's is only 200. It's still more expensive than I want it to be, so I'm not sure if I will keep with the 12 x 12 next year or not.

Kacy said...

I love the new 12 x 12 format!

Kristen and Tyson Cramer said...

Wow, you sure know how to make the most of your time! Thanks for squeezing in the photo shoot. :) Oh and I love those pages!

Mostly Diane said...

You make really nice scrapbook pages. And I really like your book idea. I think I will start doing that for our family for 2010. What a treasure!!! I don't know where you get it printed, by my sister in laws company Mighty Authors is truly cheaper than all of the rest. Glad you had so much time to get things done. But we look forward to being able to play with you guys again.

bjahlstrom said...

That was a really, really nice post. I loved seeing into the daily notes of many of the kids.

Claire said...

I love the scrapbook pages!

Lana said...

I need to call you sometime. I have so much I want to talk to you about. It seems we just have way to much in common to just keep writing like this ;) Are you coming up any time soon? PM me on PYP. Talk to you soon.

Deserie said...

Those are great pages! Congrats on all the things you accomplished. I could use something like that! I'm feeling a little behind on things right now.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you need a vacation now. Your scrapbook pages are so cute.

Maryanne said...

You got so much done! I often look forward to breaks but then end up being lazy during them. And a 5K with two kids, and how old is your baby? Very impressive. I hope your kids come home tired and very happy!

Natalie said...

Beautiful post! I love the pictures of your family and especially loved your little not about "foundational habits." I love reading about your life and how well you document it. You're a wonderful writer as well as photographer, so I'm sure those books will be priceless for years to come. I like the 12x12 layout a lot.

Cynthia said...

Christina! I have been trying to figure out how to contact you for months! You can check out my blog or email me and I just sent a friend request through facebook...I would love to catch up, it has been way too long!


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