Saturday, October 29, 2011

Book Worm is an Understatement!

This evening Kimball and I worked together to make up his bed with clean sheets. Since has a full sized loft bed, I sent him up top and asked him first to pass down to me anything that wasn't bedding. I expected five or six books, but here is what I got:

  • Ivanhoe
  • 2 Roald Dahl books
  • Leven Thumps volumes 1, 2, and 4
  • The Bronze Bow
  • 2 Star Wars Cookbooks
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • 3 library books about magic (for his Halloween costume)
  • The Book of Think
  • Obessessed with Star Wars
  • A Star Wars Fandex
  • The most recent issue of Lego Magazine
  • A take out menu to our favorite sushi place (the kind with photos of all the sushi rolls)
  • Canterbury Tales (A kid's version)
  • Much Ado About Nothing (The Shakespeare Can Be Fun series)
  • Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites
  • a Kindle guide (yes, all these books, AND he owns a Kindle!)
  • The Time Travelers
  • 3 chapter books for 2nd graders that I'd checked out for Ian
  • 4 picture books he'd swiped from his younger siblings' bookcases
By the time he passed down the tenth book I was laughing, but by the time we got all of them down, we were both hysterical. That's 26 books, a magazine, a fandex, a users' guide, and a menu! Perhaps we need to change his bedding more often!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Lunch Date

In a family with five kids, having quality one-on-one time with them can be challenging. I will admit that on a daily basis, they get a few moments of one-on-one, but not usually big chunks of time all to themselves. In order to guarantee a little more individual face time, Jared and I try to take them out on a lunch date one at a time. We are not consistent with it-- it seems to happen more in spurts-- but it is something that our kids really look forward to.

As long as it is reasonable, we let them choose the venue for their date. Sometimes a kid chooses to grab some fast food and go to the park together. The older boys like to choose a restaurant where they can get dessert or chips and salsa (or both). Bronwen prefers a cupcake date.

This Friday, it was Ian's turn for some one-on-one. He picked me (Jared usually gets these dates) and said he wanted to have lunch at Bel Air, our local grocery store. I was really in the mood for restaurant food, but we only had an hour before we needed to be home, and I reminded myself that this was HIS date, not mine, so off we went.

We perused their prepared lunches section. I chose a roast beef and fontina sandwich on a sourdough roll, Ian found a little lunchbox with a turkey sandwich, goldfish, applesauce, and a juice box. We also grabbed his favorite potato chips (gotta love Lay's), some shortbread cookies from the bakery, which we planned to share with the others when we returned, and a doughnut for him. Okay, so I never claimed that these dates were healthy.

We sat outside at a little bistro table and Ian talked my ear off. If you know Ian, that wouldn't surprise you one bit; but what surprised me is that he dropped the goofy act that he often uses to get attention. He wasn't babbling nonsense, he didn't use baby talk-- no signs of the silly personality he uses with the family (except when the camera came out). Instead, he talked about things that interested both of us. He told me all about school and his classroom (his favorite part is his teacher, he said), about new friends he has made, and about ways that he has gone out of his way to be kind to other kids in his class.

It was a delightful hour spent, and it reminded me how much we both needed some extended one-on-one time with each other. It also allowed me to peek at a side of my own son that I don't get to see often enough. I am so proud of the young man that he is becoming.

How do you meet the challenge of giving your kids one-on-one attention? Tell me I am not the only one who struggles with this!

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Voices in My Head

4:30AM. The alarm clock wakes me up. Today, I get out of bed quickly and head for the bathroom, thinking, "That was a decent night's sleep. No one woke me up in the middle of the night." I calculate and realize that I slept for 6 1/2 hours. That's when the voice in my head, the one I've decided to name Fat Girl, pipes in.

FG: Six and a half hours!? You think that's good? You'll need more than that if you are going to get your to-do list done today, let alone get through the day without yelling at your kids!

Luckily, Skinny Girl was awake this morning, too, so the battle in my head commenced.

SG: Sure, it would feel good to sleep some more, but you have to be up by 6:00 anyway to get the kids up and off to school. You haven't been to spin class in two weeks. You need this.

FG: You can go on Wednesday. Your spin buddy is out of town, after all. And they may run out of bikes before you get there. You don't have one reserved, remember?

SG: Oh, brother. How many times are you going to buy that excuse?

FG: And what about your hair? If you go back to bed, you won't have to wash it today.

SG: What about your jeans? You want them to keep getting tighter? Maybe move up a size?

At this point, I am leaning towards Skinny Girl and begin getting dressed. Fat Girl gives up-- for a while. I am 20 minutes into spin class when she shows up again.

FG: I'm tired. Can't you switch to a lower gear? Maybe just stay for half the class and then go do some weight lifting? Or head home and get a head start on the day?

SG: Ugh. Would you please leave me alone?! If I made the effort to come, I might as well get a decent workout in.

This morning, Skinny Girl was louder than Fat Girl, but it doesn't always work that way. And they don't just put in their two cents about workouts. Oh, no, they have lots to say when I am grocery shopping, when I am home alone with chocolate in the house, or when I'm running errands a little too near the cupcake place.

That's why I've decided to give them such decisive names. I know that I should be aiming toward Healthy Girl instead of Skinny Girl and I don't have anything against fat people. I just thought I'd take a page from the spin doctors who come up with powerfully suggestive names in order to sway how we think of things. I thought of a few examples, but I try to keep this blog from being overly political, so I'll just leave it up to your imagination:) Anyway, I figured that calling that negative voice in my head "Fat Girl" might make it easier for me to find the strength to shut her up more often than if I called her "Relax and Enjoy Yourself Girl".

How do you stop the voices in your head? I'd love to use some of your strategies, so please share.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Seasons Change

"To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven." Ecclesiates 3:1

Four years ago, we started a wonderful adventure that we hadn't anticipated: homeschooling. I knew at the time that it might not be the right thing for us for our kids' entire educational careers, but we knew it was the right thing for our family at the time. Over the past four years, I grew to love homeschooling and the lifestyle it allowed us. I loved the time together the most. Sure, we had plenty of spats, of teasing, of crying, of all the typical sibling conflicts and mommy meltdowns, but we also had lot of fun together, lots of spiritual experiences together, and lots of learning together. We learned to cooperate more and to deal with our differences in a way that we might not have done if we were all going our separate ways for most of the day.

This year, the direction we got from Heavenly Father was different. It made me feel sad, scared, nervous, excited (for them), guilty, hopeful, and a slew of other emotions. At first, we only had the guts to commit Henry and Ian to returning to school in a new charter school, but as the school year approached, we began to feel strongly that Kimball should participate as well. Much like our decision to homeschool four years ago, this decision was one that we spent lots of time praying and agonizing over, and in the end, proceeded with the confidence that it was the right choice for our family.

So, on the day after Labor Day (which is the perfect day to start school, by the way), our boys donned their new uniforms, grabbed their backpacks, lunch sacks, water bottles, and set off for school. I am sure that I was more nervous than they, and I am the only one who cried that morning. I managed to keep it to moist eyes until I kissed Ian good-bye in his first grade class and had to bolt out the door because Ugly Cry was coming on fast.

So far, we have been too busy to miss them much during the day. Bronwen did remind me the first day about 100 times to go get her brothers from school, but once her co-op preschool and ballet class started up, we found ourselves quite scheduled during the school day. I also jumped into the new charter school with both feet and took a big role on the fundraising committee as we did a huge kick-off fundraising dinner and auction event last weekend. People ask me what I am doing with the extra time I presumably have because I am not schooling my children all morning, but I haven't found any extra time!

The boys are all making new friends, rising to new heights, gaining confidence, and learning loads of interesting things every day. Kimball even moved up to 7th grade after three weeks in 6th! We are all adjusting to them having less free time and more homework and deadlines, but I remind myself that they are learning some discipline that wasn't necessary when I was their teacher. It is good for all of us.

I am so grateful for the homeschooling season of my life, and look forward to the ways that my family will be blessed by this new season. Will we ever return to homeschooling? Maybe. We're just taking it one year at a time. But for now, I know that my kids are just where they need to be, and that feels wonderful.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Things I'll Miss

 After months of studying, considering, and praying, Jared and I have decided to send Henry and Ian to a new charter school in our area next year. I don't know if this means the beginning of a new era for us or if it will just be what school looks like for one school year, but it means saying good-bye to some of the things that I cherish about home schooling the entire family together. I know that we want to do the right thing for them, and to help them gain the experiences that they will need in life, so we will keep an open mind through this school year and prayerfully consider what comes next, but deep down in my heart I am hopeful that the answer comes to return to homeschooling. Here are some of the things I will miss:
  • Moving at our own pace in the mornings. Even though we stick to a routine, it only roughly matches the clock. I do not look forward to having everyone ready to go in the morning and out the door before 8:00 am, especially since we need to have family devotional, breakfast, chores, and piano practice done by then! I will need to pray for a zen attitude, as rushing children who do not want to be rushed is a quick way to push my stress levels into the next stratosphere!
  • Studying world history together. This is one of our absolute favorite things to learn about together, and is a part of daily conversations in our home. Their new school is classics based and will include the study of world history, but I love doing it together.
  • Having so much time as a family. We learn together, work together, go to the park and the library and the store together, watch TV together, read books together . . . you get the picture. This family will be going separate directions each day. This makes me really sad and is probably the biggest reason that I hope we go back to home schooling after a year or two in school. I will be very protective of our afternoons and evenings when they are going to school each day. Family time is vital.
  • Having them do so much work around our home! This year they have really made a big difference in the day to day housework, and I know that if they are gone for a big chunk of the day, the morning chores will be rushed and rarely teaching moments. Hopefully, since this school is promising minimal homework, I'll be able to get plenty of work out of them in the afternoons!;)
  • Being able to take a day once in a while to just cozy up by the fire and read, or spend the whole day doing science experiments, or to give in to spring fever and go on a nature walk and look at birds instead of sitting around the table looking at math facts.
  • No homework! Do I need to say more? Beyond just not wanting to deal with homework and other teachers' deadlines, I love that our afternoons are free to participate in other activities, run and play with the neighborhood kids, or curl up with a book. 

I believe that lots of good will come from this experience. My girls will get more of my attention. I will be able to help Kimball focus on some fabulous things he has been wanting to do more of. Henry will have more opportunities to gain some independence and make some friends. Ian will get to be in an environment where he is not the middle child, where he can see his own strengths instead of always comparing himself to his older (and thus, more advanced) brothers. 

I hope that fellow home schoolers  will not feel defensive or judgmental about our decision. It has not been done lightly, nor without a certain amount of anguish. I know that it is possible to teach your children everything they need without ever sending them to school, but we really feel that this is the right thing, right now, for these two boys. We are not "giving up" on homeschooling. What will come the following year? Only time and inspiration will tell. But I promise that I will shed real tears on August 22nd when they start school and the rest of us return home without them for the day. And perhaps for a few days after that. I have really treasured these years with my children all around me, learning together.

(Photos all courtesy of Bronwen, who swiped my camera at the park.)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer Checklists

The kids and I are all making summer checklists today-- things that we want to be sure we do this summer, and I thought I'd share them. I tried to not interfere too much in theirs, although I have tried to help Kimball set some more reasonable goals and plans. (He's obviously the oldest child over-achieving type. I don't know where he gets it!)

Michal's Summer Checklist
  • Go beach camping-- check! (I'd been really wanting to do that this summer, and at the last minute, we took a four-day weekend and did it!)
  • Do something fun with the kids every day.
  • Learn/Teach something with the kids every day.
  • Make fresh squeezed lemonade, refrigerator pickles, and a homemade ice cream that Henry can eat. (Not all for the same occasion;)
  • Run in a 10K race.
  • Tackle one organizational nightmare project a week. (homeschool closet, computer armoire, cookbook cupboard, kitchen freezer, Kimball's desk area, . . . )
  • Read A Thomas Jefferson Education plus at least 5 books for fun. 
  • Learn how to use my dehydrator to make fruit leather or dried tomatoes.
  • Have at least one family over for dinner each month (not counting people related to us).
  • Have a backyard movie party. At least once, but maybe more often.
  • Teach Bronwen to read. 
  • Call my sisters-in-law.
  • Take my kids to Folsom Lake at least once, but perhaps once a week!
  • Let the kids have the lemonade stand they are always begging for.
Kimball's Summer Checklist
  • Play 4-way Ninjago.
  • Read 4 serial books in one day.
  • Eat a whole or half box of Ritz Crackers. (Random!)
  • Write and publish a book. (No problem! Easy, peasy, right Tamara?)
  • Make meals for a week. (I WISH this were a reasonable item!)
  • Hold a diving contest.
  • Pickle something weird.
  • Clock myself for swimming from one end of the pool to the other without coming up for air in the middle.
  • Watch Kung Fu Panda 2.

Henry's Summer Checklist
  • Go swimming at least 12 times.
  • Read at least 3 *** "me-approved" books. (Upon inquiry, I discovered that this means books he rates at at least 3 stars after reading.)
  • Invent a game.
  • Win at least 5 games of "Josh-ball".
  • Go to an amusement park.
  • Learn to ride my bike without hands for at least 10 seconds.
  • Make a successful club that lasts at least a week.
  • Write a comic book that is at least 10 pages long.
  • Have a lemonade stand with Kimball.

Ian's Summer Checklist
  • Go to Raging Waters.
  • Skip one meal and eat two lunches on Saturday. (???)
  • See the new Cars 2 movie in the theater.
  • Read 12 chapter books in one day. (His are short.)
  • Learn to do a back flip.

Bronwen's Summer Checklist
  • Go visit Grammy and Papa.
  • Have a lemonade stand.
  • Go on a date with Dad to a restaurant to eat burgers for dinner.
  • Go to swimming lessons.
  • Go see a movie in the theater.
  • Play hide and seek.
  • Learn to do a back flip.
  • Go to the zoo.
What's on your summer checklist?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Everybody's Doing It

Bronwen has a habit that makes me (and you other mothers out there) cringe. It is not completely uncommon among preschoolers, but she really seems to revel in how much it revolts me. I have attempted to convince her to stop with protestations of how dirty and yucky it is, but to no avail. Yesterday, we had another conversation about it, and I tried a different approach (which you will find, FAILED)! If you were a fly on the wall, here is what you would have heard transpire:

Bronwen: Ooooooo, yummy boogers! (Yes, I know she was baiting me.)
Me: Bronwen, that is so gross. If your friends find out that you pick your nose and eat the boogers, they won't want to play with you anymore. No one likes to be friends with someone who is disgusting!
Bronwen: Oh, Mommy, all my friends eat their boogers!

So much for that strategy. I guess I'll have to try to have the self control to shrug it off  and hope that she doesn't grow up to be a nose-picking, booger eating monster.:)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Brick Walls

Monday morning we packed up our school things and took them to my mom's house. She was out of town and we were going to give her kitten some people time while also doing math, history, and literature.

We headed over and I explained to my kids what our itinerary was going to be and what they should do when we got to Nana's. "Nana won't be there and we won't be running off to the playroom today. We are not going to wander off to the bookshelf and get lost in a book. We are definitely not going to immerse ourselves in Calvin and Hobbes for the morning. You can play with the kitty for a few minutes, but then we have work to do-- it's a school day! Kimball, you'll start with Math Lesson x; Henry, you'll work in your spelling book, and Ian and I will read together. Then we'll take a look in the Japanese box that Nana pulled out for us and read more about the shoguns. If we can get our work done, maybe we'll have time to go to the library before lunch!" I love giving them a view of the morning as I'd like to see it go, with a reward of some kind for using our time wisely.

Just then, we pulled up in front of the house, and Ian said very matter-of-factly, "Mom, I didn't listen to a word you just said."

He was baffled when I couldn't stop laughing.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Please Don't Hate Me!

It looks like this girl is going to potty train herself.
 Over the past few weeks I have found her several times like this, fully clothed, trying to go potty. When I finally relented and let her take off her clothes and once or twice she has actually peed! Still, I have told her, "I'm not potty training you until you can speak."

Little Meggie (20 months) has few words, but boy, does she know what's going on! She does not enjoy being left out of anything her older sibs are doing, and this is no exception.

This morning, after I got her dressed and put her piggies in, she had a melt down because I wouldn't open the door to my bathroom. I finally did so, and she climbed right up on the potty. I thought to myself, "There is no way I am going to take off her clothes. We just got dressed. She's just playing potty." Alas, she accidentally slipped backwards into the water, soaking her outfit. I stripped her down and sat her back on the toilet and went to get her some clean clothes. Guess what? She tinkled.

"I do not have time for this today," I thought. My tried-and-true method of potty training requires 3 days of going practically nowhere and doing practically nothing but taking a child to the bathroom and washing panties. And I can not clear my schedule this week (and perhaps not for months) to do this. But, given her willingness, I figured I'd be crazy to stifle it. I remembered that we had some princess pull-ups. I have a hard and fast rule of no pull-ups during potty training, but I do use them for bed wetters, and had some left over from Bronwen's bed wetting days. I have learned, however, with five kids, that hard-and-fast rules are made to be broken, so today Meggie is wearing princess pull-ups. Whenever I remember (which has been about every two hours) I take her in to go to the bathroom. She has kept them dry and gone ever time we tried to go. I can't believe it.

In other getting-too-big-for-her-mommmy's-liking news, Margaret also learned to crawl out of her crib this weekend. That, my friends, is always a very dark day. :)

Little Meg is bound and determined to grow up as soon as possible; alas, I am willing her to stay my baby forever. And I know which of us will win this particular struggle. Sigh.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Gluten Free Goodness

**Note: This is not a compensated review. I wish I had received the cookbook or GF flours for free, but alas, this is just me passing along something wonderful that I have discovered.

About six months ago, our son Henry went Gluten and Casein Free. The change for him was immediately noticeable. He stopped complaining of stomach aches. His bowels began cooperating. His tummy distention disappeared, as did the dark circles under his eyes. His swollen nasal passages and head congestion that he had suffered with since infancy went away. His mood swings improved as well, although he did get emotional for quite some time about food. (He loves grumpy faces, even when he's cheerful. Silly boy!)

I am emotional about food, too, so I hurt to watch my son go through this. At first we tried to all eat GFCF when we were around Henry, but there were two problems with this: it was an expensive way to feed a family of 7 and it didn't taste good. I gradually moved to frequently preparing two meals or two desserts so that Henry could partake with us while we ate our old favorite stuff. I did hold off on making things that were his favorites if he couldn't have them, at least until the holidays hit.

Henry has stuck to his diet, cheating only a couple of times when we have given him the option (and always regretting it later). I am proud of him, because it isn't easy. I do take heart in the fact that this experience is making Henry a stronger person, not only because it is better for him physically, but because he is learning that he can do hard things and not just give in to his appetites.

I was thrilled, recently, to find this GFCF cookbook put out by Silvana Nardone, called Cooking for Isaiah. Silvana is a foodie like me, only more so:) She is the founding editor-in-chief for Everyday with Rachel Ray (among other impressive gigs). She loves to nurture and bond with her family around good, homemade food. And she wasn't about to let her son, Isaiah's, gluten and dairy intolerances stop her from doing that. Her cookbook starts out with their story (don't you love a cookbook with a story?) and then her own recipe for an all-purpose gluten-free flour and a gluten-free pancake mix. These two flour mixes are used throughout her cookbook, but they can also stand in for all-purpose flour in other recipes. I love that she researched and tried all the options available on the market and tells you which are the best products for her recipes.

Anyhow, we are loving the recipes. Henry had a chocolate birthday cake (adapted) from the cookbook. Gluten -lovers and -eschewers alike gobbled it down (I did a base of her chocolate cake with an Irish mint frozen yogurt-- Henry can sometimes tolerate yogurt-- and her chocolate whipped frosting, frozen). Please don't look too closely at the picture, as the I was rushing when I put the frosting on and it was still a bit too warm for the frozen cake.

 The cookbook is full of sweet breakfast options. We have also loved her cinnamon toast waffles. (Yes, I had some whipped cream on mine-- and butter. But Henry loved his with just maple syrup, and it was far better than giving him a GF freezer waffle while the rest of us ate homemade.)

We also devoured her Frito-crusted chicken fingers with honey mustard aioli, and the Spaghetti & Meatballs with Garlic Crumbs was so good I made it again only a few days later. I'm going to share that recipe with you here, but if you or someone you love is Gluten-Free, you have got to get this cookbook! And if not, never fear! She has the gluten- and dairy-filled substitutions listed as well!

Spaghetti & Meatballs with Garlic Crumbs

Adapted to serve 8 people if a few of them are not big into meatballs (read: my family)
  • 1 pound ground beef or chuck
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 5 cloves garlic-- 2 grated, 2 smashed, 1 chopped
  • 1 cup rice cereal crumbs (I used Rice Chex)
  • 1/2 cup rice milk (or regular milk)
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 T. flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Salt
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 package corn or rice spaghetti
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, or less if you have a wimpy family like mine
Combine the beef, onion, chopped garlic, 1/2 cup cereal crumbs, milk, egg, 2 T parsley and 1 tsp salt. Shape into meatballs. (I make 16 small meatballs, Silvana makes 8 large meatballs to serve 4 people).

In a large saucepan, heat 1 T olive oil over medium heat. Add the smashed garlic and cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Submerge the meatballs in the sauce, bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

Cook your pasta until al dente. Drain and toss with the sauce.

The garlic crumbs are what really elevate this dish! Heat the remaining 1 T. olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the grated garlic, remaining 1/2 cup cereal crumbs, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 tsp salt. Cook until toasted, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Don't get impatient because you want that nice toast, but don't walk away either, or they might get too toasty (like mine did the second time around). Sprinkle them liberally over your meatballs and sauce and over your salad if you like as well! They add such a nice crunch.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Faith in Motherhood

Having a journalist in the family is great for me, because she keeps me thinking. Of course I think every day, but Tam poses great questions about the things that she is thinking about and it stirs me to think about topics that I wouldn't necessarily be musing over at the time. Last week, she asked me and the other moms in her family and life what it means to us to be a mother of faith. I figure if I'm going to respond, I might as well do it here, so that you can start thinking about what it means to you to be a mother of faith (and share with us)!

First of all, I'd like to define faith for this discussion. When I speak of faith, I don't just mean that I adhere to a religion or belief system. I mean the deep down feeling, the conviction that I can never deny, that God is real. That He hears my prayers. That He loves and cares about little old me. That He will bless me as I do my best to follow Him. Faith to me means trusting God that He can see things beyond my own vision and that His Plan for me is greater than anything I could dream up. I have faith that Jesus Christ is who He said He is-- the Son of God, the Savior of the world, the Prince of peace.

Now, how does that affect me as a woman and a mother? My faith in God truly affects every part of my life. Surely my faith had an impact on my decision to have children, particularly on the decision to start our family while Jared was still in graduate school and there were plenty of financial reasons to wait. Even now, I catch myself for a moment dreaming of how different our financial situation would be if I had stayed in the work force for five more years until Jared's practice was up and running-- but I wouldn't trade those five years for all the money in the world. We knew that it was the right time and that the Lord didn't want us to postpone our family for selfish reasons or to rely on our own strength. Surely I have been able to see the Lord's hand more clearly in my life because we needed Him more to provide for our needs at times.

I firmly believe that in becoming a mother, I am fulfilling my destiny; not a destiny that was forced upon me, but the plan that God had for me if I chose to accept it. And I feel myself growing and becoming the woman He would have me be through my mothering experience.

Motherhood has required leaps of faith on my part-- times when I had to trust and let go of fears that might hold me back. Making major moves, buying a home, accepting callings (or assignments) in the Church that were overwhelming, buying a practice, having another baby . . . and then another, pulling my kids out of public school -- all these and more have tested me and allowed me to prove God. He has blessed me in so many ways that I can't even express. I have never had cause to regret a single decision that I made based on faith-- and the sense that I knew what God wanted me to do, even if I couldn't see the why or how.

As a mother of faith, I accept the enormous responsibility of giving my children not only physical nourishment and love, but also to instill faith in them. This can be an overwhelming prospect if you let it be, but I have found that as I lean on the Lord for help, this comes naturally. Regular daily family scripture study and prayer have a huge impact, but so do the small, everyday moments when opportunities arise to teach a principle or share an experience with my children that has strengthened my faith. Moms of young children have the advantage of the fact that their children want so much to be around them, want to soak up everything they say, want to feel important and loved. Thus, they are easy to teach, for they make apt pupils. I know this will slip away a bit as they become teenagers and I must make the most of it now. What is, perhaps, more daunting, is knowing that my actions must teach my faith as well. I pray for strength to live up to the values that I hold dear and teach my children.

I have found that my mothering is vastly improved if I take time each morning to strengthen my faith through a study of God's word, prayer, and pondering on my life and His plans for me. I think it benefits me first and foremost because in this way I invite Him to participate with me in my mothering, but also because it reminds me of the big picture. Much of the daily work of motherhood may seem monotonous or menial, but when you have a clear perspective, even those tasks have a beauty and greater purpose. I find myself to be more patient, more able to listen to my children, and more in tune with the Spirit (some might call it with my intuition, but I think it is more than that) to know how to handle situations that arise.

Tam asked us: what is the most important thing about your faith that you want your kids to know? For me, it is that we can each have a personal relationship with Father in Heaven; that we each have access to His guidance and to feel of His love in our lives. I want my children to feel His power and have experiences that bring them to trust Him as I do. Then it will be their faith on which they rely and not mine.

I am so grateful for the way that my faith shapes my life and my values and for the way that it strengthens me and leads me to good things. I am grateful that because of faith, I am able to be brave in the face of hard things, to feel joy in the midst of trials, and to have hope in the future. Could I be a mother without faith? Sure. But faith makes me a much better mother than I could ever be on my own.

What role does faith play in your mothering? How does it change the way you mother? The way you think about yourself? Please share!

Saturday, February 19, 2011


I hate running.

A few months ago, my sister-in-law invited members of the extended family to train for and compete in (aka complete) a half-marathon this spring. If you've been a long time reader of my blog, you know that I have been a (fairly unsuccessful) wannabe runner for a while. At the time of this challenge, I was not running at all. But I took her up on it, ready for a challenge and unwilling to look like a wimp to the rest of the family.

We've used a little learn-how-to-run program that has served us well. Today I was scheduled to run 8 miles for the first time. My running buddy canceled on me. The weather was gloomy. My MP3 player wouldn't load the thing I wanted to listen to. I could think of a thousand things I'd rather do than run. But I left the house when Meggie went down for her nap.

Somewhere during the first mile, it started to rain.

Somewhere during the second mile, my phone (on which I was listening to this) malfunctioned and I was afraid for a few minutes that I would be running the rest of the way in silence. Thankfully that bug worked itself out.

By the end of the third mile I was soaking wet and the rain was coming down hard. I contemplated turning toward home, but my pride kept me going.

During the fourth mile, I realized that I really needed to empty my bladder. And that my hips were starting to hurt.

I felt exuberant when I hit mile 5, knowing that I was more than halfway finished. The rain subsided and the sun came out. I noticed a family of geese drying off in a meadow. I saw a bird that I'd never seen before. I marveled at the gorgeous oak trees in my area and at the amazing world that Heavenly Father created for me and for each of us.

During the sixth mile, I tried hard to take my mind off my full bladder and my sore hips. I noticed that my shoulders and back were feeling tight. Trying to take my mind off these things didn't work.

During the seventh mile, I began to write this blog post in my head. I reminded myself of all of the reasons that I want to make blogging a priority again. I thought about blogs that I (used to) read that inspired me. I remembered how I want to have an influence for good on the world and that I have this forum to use for that purpose. (This was a more effective way of forgetting my pain, by the way.)

During the last mile, it was all self-talk and gunning for the finish line. I did not want to think about 13.1. Eight miles felt like plenty.

I arrived home 1 hour 45 minutes later (yes, I am that slow) feeling sore, stiff, and like I had conquered the world. I had done something that I didn't want to do. I had done something that was hard. I had done something that I had never done before. I had done something that was good for my body and mind and spirit when what had been far more enticing was staying home and nibbling chocolate chips. I felt wonderful. I knew I will do it again, and that one day in April, I will run 13.1.

I love running.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Through the Eyes of a Child

Bronwen got a hold of my camera during preschool's playtime last week. I nearly deleted these photos, then thought it might be fun to share her perspective first! Besides, I need to blog again and this is an easy post to get me started:)