Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Moving into a new house, celebrating birthdays, taking a truckload of teen girls to the drive-in, seeing two girls off to their first dance, joyfully welcoming our third grandchild (a boy!), watching children grow and change....this is what Spring 2013 has brought our way:

Baby Hayden!

I sometimes feel as if everything is in fast forward- there is so much to experience, so much to enjoy and savor and yet life slips by faster than I can grab hold of it.  I feel breathless and, as I've mentioned before, as if I have one foot continuously on the brake, trying to slow things down.

Today I read a quote that summed up those feelings.
 From Courtney Kendrick (on the eve of her son's fifth birthday):  "....His birthday, the anniversary of my motherhood, is the date my life hit a fast forward button and everything started sinking rapidly into a vortex of time and information.  I never knew this was motherhood--watching life disappear into memories at a speed you can't control.  It's a rush of so many sorts."

I so agree!  My life, this blog, everything that I am is dedicated to my family.  It's all-encompassing and yet, 
I wouldn't want it any other way.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Beauty and Wonder of Ordinary Life

wet peony
Photo by Muffet

-For some reason, the link to this April 2011 post is broken, so I'm reposting it.
(I'd also like to recommend at this time, the book and film 'The Magic of Ordinary Days.')

Our Town, a wonderful play by Thornton Wilder, is set in Grover's Corners, New Hampshire at the turn of the 20th century.   I'd only heard of this book in the last year or so and finally took the time to read it.

From Sydney Theatre Company's 'Our Town', 2010

Our Town is a love story about George Gibbs and Emily Webb.  Childhood sweethearts, they grow up next door to each other amidst  common, all-too average daily life. They marry right out of high school and begin their family, both learning to sacrifice for the good of the family. But during the birth of their second baby, Emily dies.
The last act is about her death and what she experiences. She watches her own funeral and burial and sees those she loves.
 From the book:
“Live people don’t understand, do they?” she asks. “I never realized how troubled and how…in the dark live persons are…From morning till night, that’s all they are – troubled.”

Then, even though those who have already died before her try to persuade her not to, she chooses to go back and relive a day of her life- her twelfth birthday.
They tell her it's not a good idea.   Still, she goes.

She steps into her mother’s kitchen, circles the stove and table, watches her mother prepare breakfast. She sees the birthday gift George left on her doorstep early that morning. A post-card album she had forgotten about.

“I can’t bear it. They’re so young and beautiful. Why did they ever have to get old? Mama, I’m here. I’m grown up. I love you all, everything. — I can’t look at everything hard enough…Oh Mama, just look at me one minute as though you really see me…Mama, just for a moment we’re happy. Let’s look at one another.”
Finally, she begins to sob.  Overcome with the grief and beauty of it all – the wonder of her ordinary life.

“I can’t go on. It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another…Take me back – up the hill – to my grave.”
Before leaving, however, she wants another look. Longingly, she says good-bye to clocks ticking, her Mama’s sunflowers, new-ironed dresses, hot baths, sleeping and waking. Then suddenly she throws her arms out wide and cries,
“Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you! Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it – ever, every minute?”
“No.” the narrator, replies. “The saints and poets, maybe – they do some.”

Unfortunately, there is so much truth in that 'no'.  
Just yesterday, I looked at The Man of the House....really looked at him.  I noticed the silver creeping into his hair more, the tired lines around his eyes.  
So often, we look at each other but in our busyness, we don't really see.   

My children tell me about exciting moments in their lives- eyes shining, crooked grins forming , hands gesturing wildly.  How many times have I listened half-heartedly, focusing more on tasks I'm working on or worries plaguing me?

How often do I really see the beauty in the daily activities that we sometimes call 'grind'?  
Running a bath for my daughter- only occasionally now as she's likes to do it herself- and hearing her sing to herself; in her own water world that has transformed into whatever her imagination has fantasized.    Then, later, waiting impatiently to blow dry her hair, she arrives in fresh PJs, with her towel wrapped turban-style with only her eyes and nose showing.  She makes me smile.

Cooking dinner and trying to get things done before rushing off for soccer practice; my eleven year old daughter comes up behind me and gives me a hug.  Not just a cursory hug- a real hug.  She smiles, looks into my eyes, knows I'm about to wriggle out of her grasp in order to drain the pasta.   She tells me, "We have a connection, Mom."  I put down the pot, wrap my arms around her and press my forehead to hers.  Yes, we do.

Taking a breather...really trying to relax after cleaning like crazy for a house showing (that was later canceled), my fourteen year old son walks by and just lifts my hand and holds it for a moment.  He smiles at me and encourages me to relax.

Hearing my children chorus much like frogs in the night with their "thank yous" at dinner time.  I sing out a long "You're Welllcome" with a smile on my face.

Taking a morning- really grasping hold of it and claiming it for my own- to stay in bed and snuggle with The Man of the House.  To first absorb the deliciousness of a quiet house (kids not woken yet) and a warm, familiar body.  To feel worries and tensions drain away.  Then to talk softly about life: goals, children, etc.  And, last of all, to put on an old movie and watch it, legs entwined, pillows a wonder of downy softness, the view out the window pale gray and foggy.

Later, the children waking on their own schedule and wondering why the house is so quiet on a school morning; coming up to find bacon and eggs cooking and Mom and Dad full of patience and serenity; waiting for warm hugs.

Even noticing the dog- who spends years of her life anticipating what we may want or need of her, greeting us with the same exuberant joy every. single. time. we arrive home.   She gets ordered off the couch if we need more space or put outdoors if we have company over.  Cheerfully, she complies.  Never does she complain.

Just today, washing up some dishes by hand- those that couldn't fit in the dishwasher- I noticed how therapeutic it can be to immerse your hands in hot, soapy water.  To think or dream while methodically washing the dishes.  

These little things, little moments are the stuff of which a good life is made.  

A few quotes to remember:

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take; But by the moments that take our breath away….."

"Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it is about Learning to Dance in the Rain."

Of course, life is full of difficulties, too.  Children argue, people get grumpy and things go wrong.  But, I think if we make it a habit to really see the loveliness in an ordinary life, not only will we have so many less regrets later, but we'll be able to withstand the difficulties thrown our way with a greater patience and broader outlook.  

Here's to looking for that which is lovely! 

(And I highly recommend reading this play or, even better, watching it in person!)


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Learn As You 'Go'

Live Extraordinary by Life Manifestos
I'm a big believer in taking advantage of learning moments.... and a captive audience.   My older children joke about the times alone in the car with me, vehicle moving, when I'd bring up sensitive topics to discuss.  Things like body changes and the Birds and the Bees.  They could sit and squirm, but they listened!

Another favorite has been the use of teaching tools for the captive audience in the, ahem, bathroom.
My learn as you 'go' method, you might say.  : )
Through the years, I've posted items of interest,  ideas to memorize and inspire.
My two biggest complaints in renting a home or having a home on the market are these:  painting over or erasing my children's heights off the wall and not being able to hang learning tools in the bathroom.

Every once in a while,  I casually ask my kiddos if they've learned anything from the educational wall art.  At times I've seen eye rolls, or heard flat-out 'no', but mostly I have learned that they do absorb the information.

This afternoon, I overheard my two youngest daughters laughing over the discovery that they both had developed their own songs to the words on the above poster.  This poster being one of my very favorites from Life Manifestos.  I heard one daughter, singing her tune to the words, "Be an intiator, not a criticizer. Be a player, not a spectator."    Then my other daughter, laughing, singing her own tune to, "Make every day an adventure.  Keep your word, no matter the cost."
Hearing this, I asked them if they read it every time they're in the restroom.  They both said yes and then went on to tell me that they and their brother have also been paying focused attention to the Periodic Table of Elements I recently added to the wall.
From posters of the solar system or wonders of the world to famous art prints and quotes, all I can say is-
 It works!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

I Like My Life!

I'm thinking today about this youtube video:

 In following her lead;

I like my life,
I like my family,
I like my house,
I like my hair,
I like my room,
I like that I don't have to sell a home,
I like that I am free to care for my new home any way I please,
I like my husband,
I like my future (and I'm learning to be okay with the past!),
I like that I still have piles to unpack and find a place for- and I can take all the time I need,
I like my freedoms,
I like that my garden is planted,
I like that summer is here and school is out this week!

Recently, I heard a woman speak to a room full of teenage girls and she mentioned the above video.  She said that no matter how many affirmations people shower upon you, all it takes is one or a few negative messages to make you discount the good, true affirmations. Most of the time, those negative messages come from ourselves!
 Why is it that negative messages or thoughts have so much power?
 Don't we know that we are are special?  That our uniqueness is grand?

I'm challenging myself to focus on what I like and love about my life; leaving out the negative, focusing on the positive.  Quitting comparing myself to others when I am already niftyGiving myself a whole lot more 'Atta girls' rather than allowing silent criticisms to fester in my brain and body.

Here's to being ME and loving it!

Friday, May 17, 2013

How to Preserve Children

'From the Garden' by Robert Duncan
1 large, grassy field
1/2 dozen children
2 or 3 dogs (small or large)
a pinch of brook
some small pebbles

Mix the children and dogs well together and put them in a field, stirring constantly.  Pour the brook over the pebbles; sprinkle the field with flowers.  Spread over all a deep blue sky.  Bake in the hot sun.  When thoroughly browned, remove and set to cool in a bathtub.

~author unknown

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

Life doesn't come with a manual...it comes with a Mother.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

 May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human enough hope to make you happy. -Unknown

The past few years have been a major trial and learning process for me.
Wanting things in life-GOOD things, striving for them and yet, still having things turn out differently or feeling as though prayers are not being answered the way we want, or that we must be doing something wrong to be experiencing all of these trials in the first place.
I have learned some important things- which is the point of all trials, right?  LEARNING and GROWING.
I have truly learned the following (even if I thought I knew it before):

*Faith and Fear cannot coexist.
*We are carefully watched over and are engraven in the palms of the Lord's hands.
*What we think we want may not be what we need.
*If, at any time we pridefully think we know all the answers in an area of life, we will surely be made aware of our weaknesses.
* If we think our trials are difficult, remember, there are always those experiencing much more difficult things!
* At times, we may think others have it 'all together' when in fact, they may be experiencing deep pain or hardship.

*GO and DO, don't sit and stew. 
* Do NOT feed the wrong wolf within you.
*Trials make us stronger.
* Happiness is a Choice.
* The Sweet, Simple things in life are the real ones.

These trials, this period of our life, have changed us.  I realized the other day how much less we have laughed over the past few years or just enjoyed simple pleasures.   We have known burdens unlike any we had known previously.  
On the other hand, we have been blessed exquisitely and have felt a depth of satisfaction and love for our children and grandchildren that is amazing and has carried us through.

I have come to deeply admire those who have made it through trials and tribulations and my compassion and empathy have grown by leaps and bounds.  This is a powerful thing. 

At this point in time, I can carefully say that we are now safely on the other side of a major life storm.  We have weathered it- not always well, but having learned some big lessons.
A weight is being lifted from our shoulders and we are filled with gratitude for our blessings.

Here's to looking forward to experiencing simple pleasures once again, with a more wisened heart.  

  Trials are medicine which our gracious and wise physician prescribes, because we need them and he proportions the frequency and weight of them to what the case requires, let us trust in his skill and thank him for his prescription. -John newton

Things for me to remember:

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all they ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."  (Proverbs 3: 5-6)

This has been my journey- and I'm sure always will be.  I know that as I have needs or desires or questions, I can pray and ask for an increase in faith.  " It is an upward spiral. When we ask in faith, we receive answers to our prayers.  When we receive answers to our prayers, our faith is strengthened.  With increased faith, we can receive increased blessings." From  You Can Become Pure In Heart 

"The Lord answers our prayers according to our desire and according to our faith. It is important that our desires are correct and that our faith is strong."

To that, I will add that every answer is in the Lord's time and is for our benefit- even though we may think we're not receiving what we prayed for.  It is a learning process to truly TRUST IN THE LORD....and He knows best!  

Getting Answers:

"Why does it sometimes appear that God is not listening or answering?  Perhaps we have not prepared properly.  The Savior said, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to  him, and will sup with him and  he with me."  (Revelation 3:20)

"This promise is made to everyone.  There is no discrimination, no favored few, but the Lord has not promised to crash the door.  He stands and knocks.  If we do not listen, he will not sup with us nor give answer to our prayers.  We must learn how to listen, grasp, interpret,  understand.  The Lord stands knocking.  He never retreats.  But he will never force himself upon us.  If our distance from him increases, it is we who have moved and not the Lord.  And should we ever fail to get an answer to our prayers, we must look into our lives for a reason.  We have failed to do what we should do, or we have done something we should not have done.  We have dulled our hearing or impaired our eyesight." ~ Spencer W. Kimball

"If we are worried about something and upset in our feelings, the inspiration does not come.  If we so live that our minds are free from worry and our conscience is clear and our feelings are right toward one another, the operation of the Spirit of the Lord upon our spirit is as real as when we pick up the telephone; but when they come, we must be brave enough to take the suggested actions."  Harold B. Lee

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