Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Ten Things to Smile About

Being that I really don't enjoy Halloween, and October is one of my most stressful months of the year, and we've been having some health struggles with one of our children, and I've basically been feeling very overwhelmed and discouraged recently - I think it is the perfect time for me to link up with Emmy and her Ten Things to Smile About.  I need to take a good long look at the things that brought me joy this month!

1 - General Conference.  The opportunity to be instructed, uplifted and inspired by prophets of God, and those He has chosen to serve and to lead in His church.  I love, cherish and look forward to Conference Weekend every 6 months and heard so many things that my spirit needed to know or to remember.

2 - This sweet, spunky girl turned 9.  I cannot believe how my little family is growing up.  It makes me smile and makes me crazy at the same time!  I love this girl and love celebrating her and the blessing she is in our family. 

3 - Christmas music.  Yes, you heard me right.  It's what gets me through October.  It reminds me that I just need to soldier on, make it through Halloween, and then - the most wonderful time of the year will be waiting for me on the other side!  I listen to Pandora Christmas Radio while working around the house, and I recently acquired 3 new Christmas CDs for $1 each at the DI!  So those lift my spirits while I'm being personal chauffeur to my lovely offspring and their friends.

4 - Speaking of Friends...
These cuties always make me smile.  This was taken during our ice cream stop on our way home from the Crazy Corn Maze.  Watching my kids with their friends is always entertaining - and keeps me young!

5 - Speaking of friends AGAIN...
This beautiful lady also had a birthday this month.  And man I do NOT know where I would be if she hadn't been born!  I would certainly have had a LOT less of laughter and adventures in my life! 

6 - I smiled BIG TIME when I shipped my final Halloween costume order out last week.  It is always a huge relief to know that I've completed all orders, and that they are on their way to making someone's Halloween happy. 

7 - The kindness of strangers.  We had a wonderful experience with this that I'm going to blog about later in the week.  So I guess you could consider this a "teaser". ;)

8 - My crock pot.  It makes me smile to dump a bunch of crap in the pot in the morning, and then have a nice hot dinner ready in the evening after a day of running around and being crazy busy.  I'm always on the lookout for new recipes.  I only have 2 requirements:  EASY, DELICIOUS. 

9 - Kicking it old school.  Even though I hate Halloween - it was great fun turning this girl into a cute 80s chick for a couple of Halloween parties she was invited to.  

10 - This handsome boy right here.  He works hard and does good.  He works part time in the evenings and on weekends to earn money for his expenses (like dates and extracurriculars) , and save for a mission and college.  He serves his peers in church and in leadership positions in school, and despite his busy schedule, and taking AP and college courses - he's still pulling a 4.0 for his first quarter of Senior Year!  I'm so proud. :)  I am having mild panic attacks when I think that in less than a year, this boy will be graduated, and out in the world serving the Lord as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  My poor mama heart is in denial!  But still so proud.

What made you smile this lovely October?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Why I Truly Love Parenting Teens

I think teenagers get a bad rap.  I really do.  I'm constantly seeing memes and viral Facebook posts and letters to the editor about "today's generation".  As if that term is a dirty word.  Repeated often are words like "lazy", "entitled", "disrespectful" and many other unflattering terms.  And I think it's garbage.

YES, there are some crappy teenagers out there.  But I think the percentage of "bad kids" today probably isn't any different than it was when I was a teen.  And if "our generation" was so much better, and we KNOW what kids today need and how they should be parented, who exactly is raising these crappy teenagers?  It certainly can't be all those perfect adults out there who think teenagers today suck.  Because if those folks were raising them, I mean they wouldn't be so crappy, right?

We always "shudder" at the thought of our kids reaching their teenage years.  Especially when they are already strong willed babies or toddlers or young children.  But I have to say that it is so much more fun than I ever imagined it could be.  After struggling through the sleepless nights and poopy diapers and teething pain and potty training and toddler tantrums and the excruciating elementary school jokes that are the same horrible jokes WE told when we were 8 - my reward is a trio of cute, funny young people that I can actually have real, grown up dialogue with.  They actually GET the jokes that I think are funny.  We can enjoy the same movies and books and TV shows.  We can have serious, in depth conversations about life, friends, family, the gospel, REAL conversations that don't have to be simplified for younger minds.  I honestly, truly LOVE being a parent of teenagers.

Do I know that I am the parent and not their "friend"?  Of course!  Do they still make me crazy, sometimes argue with my decisions or rules, roll their eyes at me and stomp out of the room in anger when I overrule them? Absolutely.  I am the parent.  I have been where they are, and I understand many things about life that they are still figuring out.  But more often than not, we just really enjoy each other.

Also?  I love their friends. More cute, funny young people.  I love when they're hanging out at my house, or I'm driving them to the mall, or somewhere else they need to be.  I love just listening to them enjoy good, healthy friendships.  I love hearing the funny, dorky teenage things they say.  I love the way they tease each other, talk about crushes, complain about certain teachers and just enjoy their young lives.

MaiLee and Ambria - school musical 2015

Kaden and gorgeous best friend - Jr. Prom 2015

And they're not just all silly, frivolous teenage fluff.  They do productive and meaningful things.  From school musicals, to sports, to service projects, to church activities - they don't just spend all their time laying around playing video games and scrolling through Facebook.  I'm not saying they don't do those things, even too much of those things!  But that's not all they do.  I've seen incredible kindness and compassion from these young people. And I love witnessing them all learn and grow together.

MaiLee, Ambria and friends in the car after spending the evening entertaining a group of special needs adults with musical performances.  (Kaden and Brielle participated too, but weren't in the car when we took pictured friends home!)

Kaden, Ambria and friends - Michael Vey launch party 2013

Ambria and best friend helping me make freezer meals for a friend 
who was injured in a serious car accident.

So young parents who fear the teenage years - take comfort.  It can be a lot more fun than you have been led to believe!  And other people (parents or non-parents) who truly don't see the amazing things today's generation of teenagers has to offer - I feel sorry for you.

P.S. Make no mistake - I still absolutely adore and enjoy my younger kiddos too.  Just a different kind of enjoy - ya know?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I used to be a Blogger

I don't even really know what to say.  Or write about.  I only know that I miss blogging.  And for the past several weeks I've felt the call of the blogosphere tugging at my fingertips.  Things will happen in my life that I want to write about.  Or something will happen in the news that I want to share my views on.  But not in a combative, Facebook debate sort of way.  And then I think - I wish I was still blogging.

The world of blogging has changed so much since I first started my blog years ago.  Back then we had a little circle of blogging friends who visited each other regularly, started getting to know each other, and in many cases lasting friendships in the real world were made.  I still keep in touch with many of those friends I made through facebook, or texting.  Some have gone on to be big-time money-making famous bloggers.  Others have quit blogging.  In both cases, I miss reading their blogs each day, giving my little piece of input on their posts, and I miss seeing the comments they left on whatever post I had made that day.  It was a time-consuming, sometimes not very productive way of life - but it sure was fun. :)  Then I felt like when I was making a post, I had an actual audience that I was speaking to.  Now it feels weird - like I'm just typing to no one.  I have no idea who, if anyone will see this post.  I sort of feel like a new blogger just starting out again, with no audience, and no way of knowing if there is a potential audience out there.

For those who may be past readers of my blog - how has life been treating you?  I have a whole pile of news about our life to catch you up on!

Like for example: My baby is 2 1/2, my girls are in 4th, 7th and 9th grades, and my son is a SENIOR!  WHAT??  I seriously blinked and boom - they're big.  It'll take awhile to get up to date on each of their lives.  But they amaze me and make me proud every day.  Also, Jeremy and I will be celebrating 20 years of marriage this winter!  TWENTY!!!  That is CA-razy!! I seriously cannot be that old.  No. Way.

So here's to my attempt at getting back to blogging.  I don't know how well I'll do, I just know that I need to give it a shot.  Because I really miss it.  And I miss the connections made with so many great women out there and would like to be part of a community like that once again.

Do me a favor, will ya?  If you happen to be reading this post, just leave a little comment to say "hi", just so I know you're out there. ;)  Thanks!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Focusing on the Fun Stuff

I'm still working on my political post - I'm having a hard time finding time in my life to write.  I am going to be honest and let you know that right now I am completely overwhelmed.  I feel like I'm drowning.  Between Halloween costume orders, jewelry orders, my disaster that we call a house, Hubby's business, and the kids and all their activities - I have literally felt like crying most of the time lately.  But I'm sick of feeling crappy, so I decided to sit down and blog about some fun stuff that has been going on, and think about things for just a little while that really put a smile on my face.

Two of my beautiful daughters celebrated birthdays in the past few weeks.  I cannot believe how quickly they are growing up.  I need it to S-L-O-W down already!  But I look at them and nearly burst with joy at what wonderful girls they are and how each passing day they get more and more fabulous.  I'll post about them in 2 separate posts so I don't have a post that drags on for eternity.

First, my sweet Ambria turned 14 at the end of last month.  We don't do friend birthday parties every year, just at specific, significant ages.  14 isn't one of the years.  BUT, I did tell her that although I wasn't going to throw her a party, buy food and cake and put on a big shin dig for everyone, she could still invite a few friends and we would take them downtown to City Creek Center and let them do this fun scavenger hunt that we found online.  It's the same hunt that Kaden did with his group for Homecoming last month.  We did make a few changes based on age appropriateness, and also took out a few things that didn't seem like a great idea.  I told you here how much I love her group of friends.  Not everyone in the group was able to make it, but the ones that did sure made it a fun night.  They said it was okay if I posted a few pics of the evening.  They had to pose with certain things or in certain ways, and then they had to find certain items.

Posing with a bird that flies but never moves.  If you are a long-time reader, that cute Bat Girl on the right is Tanielle's daughter (my adopted daughter) Lexlie!  Can you believe how much time has flown??  She chose to be the photographer in many of the pictures, and so her pretty face is missing from too many of them!! :(

Posing as Tim Tebow on the stairs.

By the bathrooms looking panicked....

Riding the escalator with hands in the air

Posing with a mannequin

Wearing cool shades

A girl's best friend

Wearing hats.

Arms linked in front of a waterfall.  There is an ACTUAL waterfall there but they felt this met the requirement.  I'm not sure I concur - but whatever.

And these 3 boys - my adopted sons. I'm not really sure what requirement on the list this picture meets, but I love it!  I always wanted another son, and thanks to Ambria - I inherited 3! :)

I'm pretty sure they all had a good time, and if not, Ambria was at least good enough to let me believe they did. ;)  I'm so grateful to have such an amazing daughter who makes good decisions, chooses good friends, and just chooses to be a happy, kind person.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I'm Grateful.

It's been over a month since my last post - but I'm not giving up on my little blog.  I have too much I want to write about!

I'm working on a pretty heavy political post right now.  At least it feels heavy to me.  I'm not really sure when it will be finished and ready to publish.  I only know it has been fighting to burst out of me for months and months and I finally had to sit down and start writing.  We'll see what it looks like when my brain is finally relieved of all the the thoughts and feelings that have been tumbling around in there for all this time.

For today I think I'll just share some things I'm grateful for.  Because I am truly, truly blessed.

Today I am grateful for the teenagers in my teens' lives.  And for their parents.

I'm so thankful that I was able to send my son out to his first school dance yesterday with a wonderful young woman who values modesty, and who knows she can be beautiful and have a magical evening while dressing in a way that shows respect to herself as well as to my son.  I'm so grateful to her parents for setting that expectation, and for raising her to become a young woman with high standards that will help my son live up to those standards that he believes in as well.  I hope her parents feel the same about sending their daughter off with my son.  I'm also grateful that he was able to go with a whole group of great young men and women who also value these same things.  As a mother, it is the best feeling in the world to know your teenager is spending his time with a bunch of other teenagers who share the same beliefs, standards and outlook on life as he does.  It is a comfort to hear about their friendships, their activities and experiences, and to hear how they help each other be their best selves, and lovingly lift each other up when one of them may be struggling to be the best them.  My son's friends are a true blessing in his life, and therefore mine.

Today I am grateful that my 13 year old daughter has a group of wonderful, kind friends who also influence her in good ways.  I remember so vividly being her age.  I remember how tempting it could be to join in with others who weren't always trying to do what I believed was right.  I remember seeing friends give in to some of those temptations.

What a blessing it is to watch my daughter with her friends.  Laughing, being dorks, messing around and being silly - but also seriously trying their hardest to do what's right, and expecting the same of each other.  I'm thankful for the decision my daughter and one of her close friends have made to start getting up early to serve in the temple every Tuesday at 5 a.m., in order to make it back home in time to get ready for school. They are setting a good example for not only their other friends, but for me as well!  Weekly temple service is something that I really would like to get back into the habit of.  I watch my daughter interacting with her friends, and my heart fills up with gratitude and pride.  I love these kids and am proud of them for knowing who they are, what they stand for and where they are going.  And again I feel so much gratitude to their parents for raising them to be the kind of kids that impact my daughter's life in such a positive way.  I'm proud of her for being a wonderful example to and influence on them as well.

Today I am grateful that I will soon be able to hold my new baby niece.  She spent the first month of her life living far far away in North Dakota, and is now here for a 2 week visit!  I get to see her later tonight and I can't wait!  I'm not nearly as excited as my kiddos though.  They have been wanting a new cousin for SO LONG!!  They are the only grandkids on my side of the family and have been waiting (im)patiently for some cousins.  It's going to be a great night.

I hope this beautiful Sabbath day finds you all healthy and happy and that you have a wonderful week ahead of you!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Life is Good

Well - it's happening.  Right now.  I'm blogging.  I have been feeling the pull of the blogosphere for a few weeks now.  I'm not sure why - but I've just really felt compelled to get back to blogging.  I have no idea how I'm gonna make it work.  I have so much stuff sucking all my time already!  But I've missed this place.  There's nowhere else quite like it.

I'm not even really sure where to start.  Do I update on my family?  Some people may remember us - some people may be new.  Maybe nobody out there will be reading this at all.  What's a rusty blogging girl to do?

I guess we'll start with this cute thing.

This Baby Girl is 18 months old - can you believe it?  It seems like such a short time ago she was coming home from the hospital.  Yet - and I think I've said this before - it's incredibly difficult trying to remember what life was like before she came.

She's kind of a stinker.  Like a lot.  She's spoiled by all her siblings and extended family, and has developed quite an attitude.  It doesn't help that everyone thinks it's hilarious and laughs hysterically whenever she's naughty/bossy/bratty.  I keep telling them they won't think it's so adorable when she's a big 5 year old brat.

At the same time she has a smile that can melt your heart, and when she laughs it is, of course, the best sound in the universe.

This Monkey is about to turn 8.  I can't believe how she's grown.  It breaks my heart just a little bit.

She's so smart that sometimes I forget that she was the baby for a lot of years before Baby Girl surprised us.  I'm afraid sometimes I expect too much of this beautiful girl and get too impatient when she doesn't act as old as she often seems.  I'm working hard on correcting that behavior in myself - because the worst thing ever is when I hurt this sweet girl's feelings.  She is the best at wanting to help with her baby sister and just really wants to be like her big sisters.  Of course that comes along with the sassy attitude they sometimes have as well!

Speaking of sassy - my Pixie is 11 1/2.  She'll be turning 12 this winter.

She is all girl.  She loves clothes and jewelry and does her hair about 5 times a day.  She doesn't normally wear make up, but this picture was taken after her performance in the American History Operetta that her 5th grade class performed.  She is counting down the days until her 12th birthday - when she'll be allowed to start wearing some conservative eye make up.  She says she wants to be a hair stylist - but after I discovered some drawings of "outfits" she made up - I'm thinking fashion designer. ;)

That brings us to Cowgirl.  She's almost 14 and has become quite the little athlete.

She LOVES soccer.  How long she'll be playing remains to be seen.  She suffered 4 head injuries in 1 year playing soccer.  3 of them were fairly mild, but the first one - not so much.  She knows she's on thin ice right now.  Because as much as we love watching her play - we are SO not willing to gamble with her health (maybe even her life) just so she can be a soccer super star.  She has way too much besides soccer to offer to the world.  It was a real struggle for us as parents to even decide to let her play this season.  She begged us.  She knows there are 2 non-negotiable conditions:  1 - she only plays soccer in her soccer league.  She no longer plays wild crazy soccer with her friends where it is basically a free for all!  And 2 - one more hit to the head - just one - and she's done.  The new season's about to start, so we'll see how everything unfolds.  Aside from soccer she is having fun just being a teenager and we are having fun watching her grow.

And finally our Bookworm.  This guy turned 16 this summer.  That's right folks - he's behind the wheel and on the road!

This photo was taken with James Dashner, a favorite author of his.  What he really wants to be is a writer and whenever one of his favorite authors comes into town for a book signing, he makes sure he's there to meet them!  He's still developing his talent in playing violin and just completed his first year of High School where he has made a wonderful group of friends.  Good kids with high standards who help each other do what's right.  He's been on his first 2 dates, and I have loved watching him grow into the leader and friend he is becoming to those around him.  I am so proud of him and his sisters.

I sure do love these five fantastic kids of mine.  I pray every night for help being the mom they deserve and the mom they need to help them become who they are meant to be.  I'm also so grateful to have a good man by my side to be their dad.  Life is good.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Our Weekend Unplugged

Last week I told you our family was going to have an "unplugged weekend".  I had been thinking about doing this for a while, and finally got around to discussing it with Hubby.  With him on board, we presented it to the kids, starting out with watching this short message as a family:

As parents, hubby and I are pretty conservative when it comes to a lot of the technologies of today.  We don't allow violent video games in our home, our children were probably some of the last of their friends to get Facebook accounts and I know that Bookworm (our only child with a cell phone for now) was the last of his friends to get a phone.  It has nothing to do with not trusting our kids and everything to do with what we felt was or wasn't necessary for our family's circumstances and what we did or didn't feel was the most uplifting or healthy way for our family to spend their time.

Of course there is a fine line between giving them everything, and allowing them nothing.  We have social media accounts, we have cell phones and ipods, and we have the natural tendency to let our personal electronics consume more of our attention and time than is needful or healthy for real relationships.

And I'm not just talking about the kids.  I know I have been guilty of being engrossed in reading something on FB, or answering a text while one of my children is trying to tell me something, only to look up to their frustrated faces as we both realize I wasn't paying attention to a word they said.  I have also felt frustration when looking around at my family and not seeing eyes, because Hubby is reading something on his phone, Cowgirl is playing a game on her ipod, and Bookworm is engrossed with the 3 conversations he has going on at once via text.  Nobody is doing anything BAD, it's just that nothing really GOOD is happening with the time spent with our faces stuck in our personal devices.  So we had a weekend that was unplugged.  And it was awesome.

We started out on Friday around 4 o'clock.  Everyone was home from school and we all powered down our devices and "turned them in".  We had a few exceptions.  Hubby's business and my business both depend on us being somewhat prompt in responding to our customers.  So we were allowed 1 or 2 brief times during the day where he would check his voicemail, and I would check my shop correspondence to see if there were any customers who we needed to respond to.  We also took Hubby's phone while the kids were home alone watching the baby, just so they could reach us in case of emergency.  But that was it.  The rest of the time our phones stayed powered down and in a little collection on the piano for the weekend.  We all let people know that we would be without our phones, but they could call our home phone if they needed to reach us.  Remember the days of not being "on demand"?  Of being out with your family and really BEING with them, and whoever needed to talk to you would leave a message on your answering machine, and when you got home you could call them back?  Remember how good that was?  That's what we did this weekend and it was really, and I mean really wonderful.

One of the things I learned that has "gone away" (at least for me) is the art of planning in advance.  Like a real plan, not "okay, I'll text you when I'm there".  Grandma, the girls and I were meeting Hubby and Bookworm (they had been at violin lesson) at Wheeler Historic Farm.  We went over a little early and when we got there, I realized that there would be no way for Hubby to contact us and find out where we were so that we could meet up with them.  Back in the day we would have actually planned a meeting spot.  Maybe some of you still do, but this illustrated to me that I put off the specifics until we can just text or call each other right at the very last moment.  We ended up playing at the playground near the parking entrance until we saw them pull in.  Then spent a wonderful, completely uninterrupted evening walking around the farm and seeing all the animals.

I did miss the convenience of immediately being able to look something up if I had a question, or text someone if I had a thought or observation to share, or just scroll through FB if I was feeling bored.  But it also taught me that we (at least I) have developed into a people (person) who need(s) to be continually entertained or amused.  Now that I have a smart phone, I am easily bored and need something to hold my attention at all times.  One cannot just wait in the doctor's office, or at the bus stop, or ride along in the car without having to be entertained by something online.  I even find myself reaching for my phone to check Facebook or Instagram when a commercial comes on during the TV show I am watching.  This is a little sad to me.

I was proud of my family, who all participated without complaint.  Tonight we had a short family discussion where we talked about what we missed about being "plugged in" this weekend, and what we enjoyed about being "unplugged" as well as anything we learned from the experience.  It was apparent that the things we missed were really not that earth-shattering, and I think the consensus was that the benefits definitely outweighed the negatives.  The things we enjoyed were really being "present" when we were with each other, and the conversations we had and the time we spent together without distractions interrupting us every 5 minutes.  

I personally enjoyed not feeling tied to my phone, and feeling like I was truly giving my family, particularly my children, the attention they deserved.  I was actually pretty sad to see our experiment come to an end, and although it is not too practical for us to be unplugged permanently in this day and age, I definitely think we will be having more unplugged days, and activities in our future.