Thursday, January 8, 2015

Families are HARD and Birthdays are FUN.

Day-to-day parenting is not for the faint of heart or weak people. It is not made up of moments entirely like this-
or this.
These are the memories we want to preserve and that make us happy.  (Who doesn't love such happy pictures?) But, if you didn't know better, you might think parenting was just one big bowl of cherries all the time. 

Yesterday was not my best and most rewarding parenting day.  Shocking, I know.  I usually don't care, except for the days that I try extra hard, and it is so disappointing.  I had wanted to go skiing yesterday with my parents and Annie. However, Ryan was going to be in Boise, Joshua had an orthodontist appointment, Sophie was starting a little dance class, and I felt bad leaving the kids alone.  I also had lots of sleep interruptions the night before, and had not gotten barely any sleep.  I called and backed out that morning.  It just didn't seem like skiing was in my plans. 
I was excited about the day home with the kids though.  
Wednesday's are early release and so the kids came trailing in soon after lunch.  Back in the day, when I was a faithful Oprah watcher I remember (I think Maya Angelou was the guest) them saying this...
"When you child walks in the room do your eyes light up?"
I have never forgotten that and so when my kids wake up or when they come home from school or something, I try to make eye contact and smile when I see them.  I think about it so much that I THINK I always do it.  However, as I honestly think about it, I think that as the kids get older, I don't do it as much.  When they are little and wake up with their messy bed head and look so cute and cuddly, my eyes are huge and they know they have my heart.  However, as they get older, I sometimes just call out a casual greeting, momentarily lifting my head from what I am doing at the moment.  I need to do better at that.  
I feel like my kids are easier when they are little mentally.  They always love you and think you are the best thing ever.  But they grow up. They see your flaws, they don't like your rules, and sometimes they are downright rude.   I was so excited to see the kids when they came home from school yesterday.  I had illusions of finishing their responsibilities quickly so they could have a leisurely afternoon and evening.  I hate conflict and want things to be rosy all the time. 

However, due to not going to bed on time the night before...eventually all four of my youngest kids had complete MELTDOWNS.  We are talking huge.  And one of said kids can be brutal...spewing all sorts of ungrateful rudeness at you.   As a parent, you are sacrificing so much for these little human beings and when they act like that back, it makes for one grumpy mama.  I take things so personally and even though logically I KNOW what they say isn't true, or is ridiculous, I still let it upset me.
But, the more I had time to think about it, the more I realize the part I played in it.  
Was he out of line?  Completely. 
Was he rude?  Very. 
But there are things I could have done different.  I could have responded better.  

My lesson from this was that I need to be more still, more centered.  I need to "not let the man get me down."   If I truly believe what I say I believe-that motherhood is a divine calling, that it is a long-term project, that I can have Heavenly help and guidance, that I can be happy regardless of my children's choices, that I can show unconditional love, that I choose to love and serve them regardless of what I "get out of it", that I am trying to give as the Savior gave without expectations  of immediate gratification and payback...then I should not get so rattled when things go awry. Usually, when my kids apologize and come back and hug me, I am quick to forgive and tell them I love them. Yesterday, I did that with one of them...but I still acted kind of cold toward the other child, internally "punishing" them for ruining my day.  
Apparently, the kids are not the only ones that are not perfect.  

I had always thought that God gave us families just to make us happy and feel loved and to take care of each other.  When singing about Families being Forever, I just thought of all the things families were "supposed" to be and I only though of the good things.  Families are so great for those reasons, for the love and built in support they provide.  

But as I am now raising my own family, I also am realizing He also gives us families because it is so dang hard to live with them!  (Think extended family vacations.)  
It is precisely BECAUSE of these hard things that in the process of living with our families we can become more like Christ.  We can become less selfish.  Hard things make us better and stronger people.  (Hard things can also bring out the worst in us and make families fall apart.)  However, if we take advantage of the Enabling Power of the Atonement we can rise above our "natural man",  we can become more patient than we thought possible.  In families, we are forced to get constant practice in forgiving to people that may have hurt us, being kind when we don't feel like being kind, living with people that have faults and loving them regardless, learning how to deal with being "annoyed" and tired, serving children out of pure love, and sticking with people we sometimes don't wanna be with! We are forced to put aside current feelings, emotions, and wants for the greater good. In what other environment do we get the opportunity to sacrifice so much?  It is through sacrifice that we are sanctified.  
I need to remember when immediate or extended family problems arise...that it is normal and part of the plan.  It is precisely BECAUSE of those issues and problems, that we become "who He wants us to be."  

So, anyway, those are my thoughts and ramblings looking back on a less than ideal parenting evening.  And those are the lessons I am gleaning as I think about the times I might wanna throw in the towel.  
Thankfully, we get chances we have to look back on happy family moments.  (I am so grateful for cameras to remind us of all the times we might forget!) 

We usually don't take pictures of the bad times...except sometimes I catch a few expressions that remind me.  (hee hee)

Seriously though,
One of those happy family memories was back in September. 
 Michael turned Eleven!  

This year the kids decided that instead of Friend Birthday Parties, we would get Season Alpine Slide Passes for the Summer in Park City.  I think it was worth the trade!  Luckily, we have lots of family close by to come over and still make the day special! 

We are so glad Avery and her family now live so close! 

Nieces and Nephews are fun because they give you all the fun parts of parenting...and they usually save their meltdowns for their own parents.

Balloons for all!

I love to see how excited the other kids get when they gather round the birthday child. 

One year Michael and Luke wrapped up a bunch of gifts for Joshua and James and put them under the tree.  When Joshua and James opened the gifts they found they were things that already belonged to them and had been taken from their room, or things like toilet paper.  So the prank continues...

Michael was a good sport about it...


Joshua was still recovering from getting his wisdom teeth out. 

 Uncle David and Aunt Melissa 

Max is thinking, "When are they gonna wrap this up so I can eat that cake?" 

Good thing our family was blessed with such amazing musical talents.

It was a great day to celebrate a great boy.  He makes me laugh and has such unique talents.  I hope he doesn't lose his creativity and drive...I can't wait to see what he does in life.  There is no one like Michael. He is truly one-of-a-kind!

I LOVE YOU, Michael Wesley!  

So next time you wanna do this...
(My mother must have been feeling similar towards "her" Michael!  Just kidding, my Michael got this awesome AirSoft Gun mask for his Birthday. )

Put on your protective mask and you can take anything your kids sling your way!  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year

I love new beginnings and fresh starts...but I am not quite ready for the Holidays to end.  I wish somehow I could slow everything down during December, so I could squeeze in a little more.  Somehow it doesn't work, so for now, I will drag it out a little longer.  

Not ready to take down our pathetic little tree we had this year.  

I love me a wreath all year long and I love all the holiday colors.  (The paint color?  I would like to change that up in a heartbeat.)

Who knew that having a 70s metal room divider could be so great for garland and lights?

Remember how when we moved we went for a month with no TV? Well, we made up for lost time this month.  (At least these guys did.)

I love going to the temple at Christmas.  

Willow likes the tree too...

I am sad all the family gathering is almost over...

The nice thing about this part of the Holiday Party keeps on going for about three more months!  

I love that January brings....

-Cozy House and less running around (crossing my fingers)
-Bluebird Skies and Sparkling Snow
-Ski Trips to Targhee
-Getting organized 
-New Goals
-Downton Abbey

( I do have a goal to make some New Years's usually just an "I am exhausted from the last holiday" type of thing.)

For now we will stick with about the only tradition we have....Chinese Food.  Yum.