Friday, April 17, 2015

My Friday Four

Can you believe how consistent I am being with blogging?! Turns out, setting reachable goals works. This week has been weird with sleep (which I am going to blame on some baby teeth coming in) and big on sunshine. I always imagine Winter and Spring duking it out during March and April, each trying to reign supreme. This week it feels like Spring finally won with consistent, warm, sit-outside-and-read sunshine. So with that joy that comes with regular Vitamin D intake, here are things I am loving this week.

-Crusty babies sitting all by themselves (outdoors!)

-This moment last night. Max had adopted that mini Book of Mormon as his scriptures and "reads along." My favorite is when he turns the pages along with Kyle but ends up turning five at once.

-Daniel and I were sitting outside with Max and Kyle doing yard work. I had to run inside to grab something and asked Max to sit with Daniel. I came back to this. 


- (Old pic but a favorite) This guy turns 28 tomorrow! He is my favorite thing of all time. He
improves the quality of life of anyone who is near him (Once though, he worked installing satellite
dishes and when the company called to ask how the lady's service was, she complained that he "smiled too much." So apparently not everyone appreciates his love of life.). So grateful to have found him and been smart enough to hold on to him. Happy Birthday Suckafish!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Intentional Parenting

I'm tired. I know I could be more tired, but right now my brain feels sluggish and it cuts my patience far shorter and Max will ask for something he knows I will say "No" to (a show! a marshmallow! to push over his brother!), but instead of an immediate reply I find my brain is simply trying to register what he said in the first place. So out trails a, "umm...." and when I finally land on the "no," tears erupt and whines of the screechiest variety are emitted, all because of the pause.

It makes me even more tired.

Mondays look like this around here.

Monday has become my deep-clean-the-house day, the whole time I want to throw everything away and drive off with only the necessities in our car like we did last winter. It was so refreshing to have so little.

I find myself  a midst the cleaning and the yawning wondering if I am doing it right, this whole motherhood gig. It is an inevitable question.  So many Facebook links shared, telling us not to worry we are doing enough, but they also shout out solutions on sleep, eating, discipline, potty-training and it is so easy to feel overwhelmed with the amount of information of what we COULD be doing.

After Max was born, that pressure to be doing it right, not to impress the world, but to raise a happy, healthy, child was overwhelming. The judgement to "do it right," felt intense. Slowly though, and still slowly to this day, I am learning to take a step back from all of the information, the noise, the suggestions and opinions. I am learning to let go of expectations and lean into making choices based on a combination of instinct and intention.

I want to parent intentionally. I desire to move forward, consciously trying to improve upon myself as a mother. This means reading those essays, books, and articles. This means talking to friends and studying things out in my mind at the end of the day. What worked? What didn't? This means thinking critically about how my children interact with the world and how to help them navigate being a positive force for good within it.

To do this, I must trust my instinct, that internal compass (the Holy Ghost) for direction. It is the force that helps me sort through what to listen to. It is the driving factor that keeps me thinking and searching, knowing that I must keep trying to improve.

So, I am tired. But I am not tired because of all the information anymore and the pressure to do it right. I am tired because motherhood is tiring. Mothering with intent and instinct is tiring. That effort to try harder, to learn more, to be a better mother for your unique, individual children is hard work.

I believe that this hard work is worth it. It is worth it because parenting with intention is my effort, and I know His grace fills in the gaps. As I try, He completes, perfects and covers my mistakes and weaknesses. Because not only does He care about me, but He cares about the little ones I am raising as well.

He wants us to succeed.

My mind is refreshed and energized knowing that His love is there to make us whole, that we may return to Him, for that is His intention.

Friday, April 10, 2015

My Friday Four

I used to chronicle a few things that made me happy, that reminded me of the bursts of joy that this world has to offer. I would like to get back to doing that, of taking the time to hone in on what makes life good and sweet. So, things I'm loving this week:

-This boy turning 7 months on Wednesday! That's basically a year old! After that they graduate high
  school! ;)

-These eyes. I have looked hard and deep and there is not a single ounce of color other than blue in
  these irises.

- A haircut that makes going without showering MUCH easier (I went three whole days wearing it
  down! Gross or awesome? To me, totally awesome.)

-Max waking me up one morning to tell me, "When I got scared last night, I prayed to Heavenly
  Father and I wasn't scared anymore!" The reality of raising a child of God hits me hard sometimes.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

He Lives

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend a baptism of a friend.

When we first moved here, when my belly was round and my heart anxious I was asked to visit someone who had moved here from China for marriage. Anna had met her husband online and knowing no English moved to America, to a tiny town in central Washington. She graciously welcomed us into her home and we struggled to communicate using an iPad and phone. This is also how she spoke to her husband and it confused me a great deal. I felt sorry for this woman, there was no one in this town that we knew of who spoke Chinese. I visited her every so often and as did others. She started coming to church and would stay only for the first hour, where we would partake of the sacrament.

Fast forward a bit, I had a baby, we discovered someone who had served a mission in Taiwan and spoke her dialect of Chinese (a miracle!). Through discussions with friends and missionaries and through the spirit I saw this woman light up within. It was not a quick transition, but when I came to a lesson (via phone with sister missionaries in Salt Lake City) they asked her to close the lesson in prayer. I, of course, could not understand a single word, but it was unmistakable feeling the spirit of that prayer.

Her baptism was beautiful. She was glowing and the room was packed. Afterwards, she was asked to share her testimony and through our wonderful translator we were all able to hear and understand where she came from and where she was now.

She said that there is saying in China that anyone who comes to America from China is like a mute because they cannot speak English, they are deaf because they do not understand English, they are blind because they cannot read English. When she first moved here she said she was so sad. She was lost and felt invisible because she could not speak, or hear, or read. But then, her first time coming to Church, she and her husband were invited to meet with our Bishop after sacrament meeting and while speaking, a person walked by, saw Anna and greeted her in Chinese. This was a blessing and gift to her. She had been invisible for so long and here was someone who saw her. This was the one person who spoke her language, who had served a mission in Taiwan and who was integral in her learning about the gospel.

As she told this story, I could not help but think about our Savior when he walked on this earth. He healed the blind and the deaf, he helped those who were invisible by society. He did this not only because he cared about those people individually, but to teach us that he can and will heal us in these ways as well.

Often, I believe, we think of His miracles, His healing as something within the past, contained within the scriptures.

But to only think of His miracles within the past is overlook the truth that He lives today.

He is not dead, but resurrected. Because of this, those miracles within the scriptures can occur within our present day. Because He lives, He can heal us from our sickness, our weaknesses, our sorrows.

Anna's story reminded me of this. I saw the miracle of the Savior's Atonement work within her life. I saw the joy and happiness and she told of the blessing it has been to be seen, to be heard, to be loved.

I believe that the Savior can do this for each of us. Not only did I see it this weekend within the life of my friend, but I have seen it in my life. I have seen him give me light within darkness and joy through tribulation. His love works today because He lives.

He died and three days later the tomb was empty. His resurrection not only is a promise to me that death is not the end, but that His ministry continues. He is a part of our very lives healing, blessing, wrapping us within His loving arms.

I hope anyone who is reading this will take the time to think about how His love has been woven in their own. Find the miracles that He performs for you, for those around you because He lives.

My Church has created a video to help us think about the Savior this Easter week.

Where is He in your life?

Monday, March 2, 2015

My Invisible Child

I have an invisible child.

Like an imaginary friend, he exists largely by my own creation. I see him throughout my day. Standing behind me as I fix a breakfast of cereal, sitting by my chair as I nurse, or watching festivities from a distance.
You cannot see him. He isn't there, but I imagine him there, pasted onto everything.

At the grocery store you would see me with my two visible children, one trying to be helpful by putting things into the cart and the other with fat cheeks reaching his arms staring wide-eyed at everything, he is barely six months old. The invisible child is where? Running around the cart? Barreling into displays and legs and requesting to be up then down then up in my arms again. My imagination runs wild with scenarios and situations and shared experiences. His presence has been made louder by the birth of my third child, I see that gap between my two boys and it is filled with wonder. 
No, I am not demented, my invisible child is dead. There is no soft way to say it. He died before he even took a breath. Thirty-nine weeks within my body and for some reason his life was erased before it ever began. He was stillborn, never taking a single breath. But his heart beat, and his legs kicked and he rolled around within me and for months I anticipated him. His future, his personality, his love. I practiced exercising my imagination, dreaming up the world that would spin with him upon it.
I mothered him before he was born too. I rubbed my belly feeling for feet and elbows. Searching thrift stores for tiny clothes. Finding a bassinet to keep in our room, to keep him near me. We prepared a name; James. We were still trying to decide on a middle name.

What I mean to say is, he was real. I roared him out of me and as he was place upon my chest I thought for a moment, “They had it all wrong!” But no, he was already gone.
For a time, after his loss, I ignored this invisible child. I tried to make everything go back to before. Before I was pregnant. Before hopes for a life unlived occurred. We went back to being a family of three and I focused my energy on what I had rather than what I lacked. If I focused hard enough, I didn’t have to see him waiting there. Waiting to be included, to be felt, to be a part of our family.
Then I was pregnant again. A mixture of elation and anxiety. Would lightning strike twice? Would I fall into the unlucky lottery once again? The reality of stillbirth was no longer lost on me. This one arrived and with him an unexpected sensation. Of course happiness reigned supreme, how can it not with a newborn to hold? But all the joy that this newborn brought with him was coupled with a clarity of what we had really lost. Baby sighs, giggles, rolling over, fat bellies and chunky knees. What would have been like with him?

I have two visible children who are growing and learning and smiling and one you cannot see. One who I imagine is right there with us. As we play in the morning sun, watching our new one giggle, a pause in the air—a stillness leads my mind to adding in an 18 month-old. I instantly see chaos and stress that comes with that age but even more, I see his smile and I feel his love.

They always ask, “How many?” and I hesitate to respond, because it is hard to say. I make mention of my invisible child, “one who passed, James” and the air halts with making mention of his life. My heart twists out the words and freezes in suspense for the response.

A simple sorry and change in subject tells me that they don’t want to see this child. The world is already so sad, no need to be more aware of it. 

Sometimes though, sometimes he is seen. “Three boys! Wow,” one exclaimed naturally, looking up to the sky. My heart lit up. You see him too!

“Yes, three boys.” 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A glimpse of my heaven.

I have been wanting to write more in this space, to share thoughts and ideas. But man oh man....sometimes there is too much to write about and I can't sort out the jumbled mess inside my head. The interconnectedness of it all is overwhelming. Like a spider web, all the areas of my life are like a thread and they overlap and influence each other and because of that, things can go sour really quickly. Conversely, things can get amped up in happiness quantities just as easily.

I can find a lot to complain about and I am REALLY good at complaining. I would get an A+ if grades were ever given for our murmuring capabilities. I notice the problems and study how they affect EVERYTHING in my life and pretty soon I am wallowing and encouraging everyone to join in with me.

I try not to, but sometimes it just gets the better of me.

They say happiness is choice that you have to make everyday and sometimes it is just really really really really really hard to choose it. You wake up tired, you are trying to be a mom that your child will remember with fondness, you are trying to keep up with all the good choices you know you should make as well as all the basic necessary choices of keeping a home livable and enough money in the bank.

Add on life's trials and it is enough to make anyone want to crawl up into a ball, under the covers, fervently praying for angels to descend and take care of it all for you, just for one day at least.

It makes me overwhelmed just thinking about it. But these boys, oh man.

A smile, a chuckle, a hug from them blows all of that away. It is the strangest phenomenon to experience. When you feel like you might collapse with the weight of to do lists and spit up and tantrums, they flip it all around in an instant.

They impact EVERYTHING and when one thing goes wrong, it quickly starts hitting other areas of life. Lack of sleep becomes stress which becomes a short temper which become lack of patience and on and on and on. But when it is good, it blows everything out of the water with this sickly sweet, heart-swelling, bursting forth with joy goodness. When they smile and act sweetly you remember why you signed up for this. Why you made the choice to raise a family and why, despite you are poor in many temporal things, you are rich in love.

And with that love, you experience a glimpse of heaven.

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Comparison of Faces and Other thoughts on Motherhood Right Now

The Evidence:

                                             Max                                                 Daniel

                                      Max                                                        Daniel

A resemblance is obvious but I conclude that Daniel has a much larger jowl and a more defined cleft chin. Maxwell's bottom lip is tad more noticeable and his hair was darker. They have the exact same nose though. 

Other findings not related to physical resemblance:

They both drool like the dickens! (Who made up "like the dickens!"?...) Daniel is much bigger than Maxwell ever was, in fact at 4 months he is already in 6 month clothing....which in the end is helpful because it allows me to maximize on Max's hand-me-downs seasonally. Poor Daniel is having a much more enthusiastic and energetic infancy than Max ever did, due to Maxwell himself. Max LOVES to shout in his face and tries to keep him alert at all times. I imagine it as a mini baby boot camp and Max is the drill sergeant, "BABY DANNY! LOOK OVER HERE BABY DANNY!!!!!!BABY DANNY! BABY DANNY!" Lots and Lots of stimulation. 

He is not without quiet moments though, because he LOVES to be held and carried and cooed at by all adults as well and we do so as often as we are able.

What a treasure these two are with their grey-blue eyes and easy grins. They love to laugh and I love to see them laugh and will resort to doing ridiculous things in an effort to make them smile, but like I said they are an easy sell for smiling so most of the time I am just doing ridiculous things because I am a bit eccentric. 

What an honor it is to be a mother, to be their mother. They are the reason I don't get a full night's sleep. They are the reason all of my clothes smell weird. They are the reason for many prayers and much stress but for some reason, all of that adds up to joy. It adds up to a sheer happiness that is unexplained. A giddiness that defies logic and sense. Babies don't keep, but the joy that they bring sure does.

(Don't eye-roll me for all of this sappiness...eye-roll the oxytocin from nursing.)