Tuesday, September 15, 2015

September Morning

The air is crisp today. The weather app on my phone tells me it is 54 degrees, sunny in Milton, New York.

As Liam, almost seven, stands in the middle of the kitchen, stripped down to his Batman boxer briefs, he tells me he is going to need a jacket. He then proceeds to wrestle on his black and gray polar fleece, hugging it tightly to his bare chest.

"It's so warm and fuzzy, Mom."
Especially if you are naked, buddy.

We rush through lunch prep. Peanut butter and Nutella for Liam. Sunflower butter and honey for Symon. Leftover enchiladas for Andrew. Carrots, grapes, and a piece of pumpkin cake with maple cream cheese frosting--last night's Family Home Evening treat--go in each Land's End lunch box.

A quick breakfast: a piece of ham and a piece of bread washed down with apple cider from Saratoga Apple (thanks, friend Brenda for bringing it over last night).

Brush teeth; no shoving, fighting or tears today! Progress.
"Andrew! Did you do your inhaler?"
"Where is the OnGuard?" Rub on feet. Avoid that back-to-school cold everyone always seems to get.
On go socks.
Folders and lunch boxes cram into backpacks.
Gym clothes for the fourth grader.

"I need a jacket, Mom," says Symon as he sees Liam put on his polar fleece, over his clothes this time.
Run to find a sweater.
Rummage through pile of shoes to find yours.
"Andrew will you get Symon's shoes out, too?"
"Hurry, Mom!"
"Go. Go."

I grab the first sweater I see in my closet and swoop out the front door, helping Symon on with his backpack. I can hear the squealing metal on metal of the bus breaks at the stop before ours.

"I love you, Mom."
"Love you, Mommy."
"Bye, Mom."

"Have a good day," I say as I finally slip on my own sweater. It is a pale blue floral/paisley print on a creamy background. It is soft inside. My sister, CeliAnne, gave it to me. I think I should take a selfie and send it to her to say thanks for such a fantastic sweater. I hug it close as I walk back from the bus stop to my house with the pots overflowing with purple petunias and a happy red door. It is a bit crisp today. But the sun in shining!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Monday, June 17, 2013

Look Mom! No Training Wheels

Do you remember when you learned to ride a bike? I vividly remember the day. I was riding the white and yellow banana seat bike, trying over and over to get my balance. My brother, Chris, was holding on to the back and trying to help me up and down the driveway of our Wanda Street house in Ammon, Idaho. I just couldn't seem to get the hang of it. I remember everyone leaving me out there alone. I was determined to get this bike-sans-training-wheels thing. In my mind I rode for hours trying on my own to get it. And finally, triumph! It was probably one of the first things I taught myself how to do. I nailed it and was in bike heaven.

On Saturday, my oldest son finally figured out how to ride his bike without training wheels. I worried all summer last summer that it might take many summers for Andrew to get the hang of this. He insisted that he didn't want his training wheels removed. But last week he got out his bike and asked my husband to raise up the training wheels. Within a few minutes he was ready for them to come off entirely. He took off like a pro! Oh man was he excited to show me his new trick.

Today he spent the whole afternoon after school riding his bike up and down our street. I let him venture a little further when he could show me he had a pretty good handle on using the brakes. He kept commenting on how much faster he could go with the training wheels off.

I thought a lot about how this is a great metaphor for our lives. Last summer, Andrew was too nervous to even try raising the training wheels, let alone remove them. It was always slow and steady, but wobbly, and predictable. I wanted for him to do what so many of his friends could do. I was anxious for him. But he wasn't ready.

When he was ready, he went for it and let go of the things that were holding him back. He still fell a few times, once pretty badly. But he got back up and flew down the road over and over.

I wonder what holds me back from experiencing all that the Lord has in store? Am I desperately holding on to training wheels, playing it it safe, unwilling to trust a little more fully. Do I see that the ride will be liberating, invigorating, enlivening. Do I see that the training wheels are actually holding me back. I can't move with the same speed and agility. I can't go to nearly as many places and maneuver with the same dexterity. What are these spiritual training wheels I "need" to hang on to? When will I have the courage to let them go?

As I ponder on that, I get to enjoy seeing my seven year old discover the new found joy that comes from having courage, working hard, and trusting himself. He's going to have a great summer on that bike, I can see it already!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Doing Normal Things

The last two weeks have NOT been normal. The first week was a super amazing trip to Guatemala, which I promise to post about soon. The second week was spent with our oldest son in the hospital and then trying to get my husband ready for a six week work assignment away from home. I've had a little bit of a hard time processing everything that has been going on. Today at pre-school pick up one of the other mom asked how I was doing and said I looked very tired. To her credit, she is a great woman and helped so much with my younger kids last week while I was at the hopsital. I don't think I realized how tired I must appear (and I had even takedn a nap this afternoon. Ha!)

In an attempt to digest all of this non-normal behavior, I decided I better do something "normal." So I mowed the lawn. Just the front, no trimming. I am going to miss my husband this summer. I don't really like to mow the lawn. It's sort of patchy and bumpy. But it was almost up to my knees in some places and had to be done. And it looks so nice.

I also washed the "big" dishes, you know, the one's that don't fit in the dishwasher. This is my most un-favorite job to do. Usually Jim takes care of it. But again with that six week assignment thing...

So I guess I'll be doing lots of "normal" things on my own for a while. Kudos to all those single parents and military families! New normal is still normal, right? And at some point all that non-normal stuff will be digested and just melt right into normal.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Nine Habits for a Happy Healthy Home

The apostle Paul had lots to say about happy homes. In part of a letter to the early saints of Colosse, Paul urged the families of the church to live nine basic habits that would make their home and family life happy and centered on the Savior. Drawing on Paul's words from Colossians 2:15-21, here are those nine habits:

1. "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts"

How do we get peace in our hearts. Christ himself said that he gives peace not as the world giveth. In our homes, I believe this means avoid contention, work on patience with eachother. Most importantly slow down and let the Lord have room to breath and move and wisper and influcence us.

2. "Be ye thankful"

My sister has a large tree literally painted on the wall of her home. It has paper leaves glued to it. Each leaf has one thing that someone is thankful for. I asked my sister when they put the leaves on. She said, "Oh whenever I feel like someone needs to be reminded to be thankful for what they have!" Gratitude seems to help us all be more content with what we have.

3. "Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly"

The words of Christ through prophets ancient and modern will do more to strengthen a family than another other single thing. As our family has made time to study the Book of Mormon together each morning, things run more smoothly. We made a decision in October of 2012 to get our kids up at 5:45 a.m. before I teach early morning seminary and my husband goes to work at 6:00 to read together from the scriptures. It is a miracle how attentive and REtentive the boys are that early in the morning. No breakfast to fight over, no distraction of stopping a game or a tv show. And they are remembering and making connections with things they hear other places and the things we are reading together as a family.

4. Teach and amonish one another, especially through music

We have spent many prayers asking the Lord to help us recognize what our children's spiritual gifts are. I am certain there are important and significant things each of them are to teach me and others about the love of the Lord and other precious truths. When we use the hymns and other positive music, the teaching flows naturally. Sometimes music can say things, especially when it is time for correction or reproval or admonision, that a sit-down conversation cannot say. Correct principles taught through music stay with us. We often tell our young boys to think of a favorite primary song when they feel scared or can't sleep. What an asset we have in teaching eachother.

5. What ever you do, do it in the name of Christ

The primary children are learning a song this year called "If the Savior Stood Beside Me." I would do well as a parent to use these words as my guide. Would I do the things I do? Would I say the things I say? Would I be the kind of person that I know I'd like to be? I also imagine what changes would happen if we adoped the philosophy that we are here in families to do for eachother what Christ would do if he were here. Would I be so inclined to put off the house keeping? Maybe, if it ment spending meaningful time in the scriptures or prayer or with my family or serving others. We want to be people of great character, honor and repute. This is probably the single most important way to do that.

6. Wives submit to, or counsel with, your husbands

Part of God's great eternal plan is that husbands and wives should be helpmeats for eachother. As women (or at least THIS woman) I often think I can just do it myself. I'm strong and indepenant. And yes, I could. But that is not God's plan. To seek out my husband's counsel refines my ideas, gives me persective, assures me of the wisperings of the spirit, confirms truths, opens solutions. Most of all, we become closer to eachother has husband and wife as we work as a team, pray as a team, counsel as a team.

7. Husbands, love your wives!

I have had the sad experience of seeing women I love dearly who do not enjoy the blessings of deep and sincer, Christ-like and romantic love from their husbands. Interesting that Paul felt like he needed to remind the men of Christ's church to love their wives. I am certain, and grow and deepen in that conviction every day, that my husband loves me. He says it with words and deeds. A wife who feels loved and appreciated is maybe the single most noticeable factor in how happy and healthy family life is.

8. Children, obey your parents in all things

As I was sitting with my stake president to be set apart as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I learned a phrase that has been a guide for my whole life since: Obedience is the first law of heaven. Obedience brings blessings. My sister-in-law always tells her children that obedience keeps us "safe and happy." As parents we are obligated to teach our children right from wrong and to be wise stewards of Heavenly Father's precious children. As we require obedience, it would be well for us (note to self) to help our children understand WHY such and such behavior is so key to their happiness and safety. Sometimes I think it is as simple as saying things like, "it makes our home a happier place."

9. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

I asked my husband, the father in our house, what this ment to him, especially the discouragement part. In essence we discussed how we never want to break our children's spirits. Too much anger, often through frustration at a child's mistake, can cause them to be discouraged and retreat. They withdraw from conversation and family time. I am not what you would call patient. I learn this lesson the hard way all too often. It is a good thing my husband and I seem to balance eachother out.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Finishing the Race

I am inspired this week to finish a race. A race that others started and didn't get to finish. Not of their own choice, but because of the choice of others. I was super motivated to run this week to honor those who didn't get to finish the Boston Marathon.

It also started me thinking about other races I have run that weren't quite so literal in pounding the pavement, but that were equally lengthy, just as challenging and sometimes feel unfinished. Tonight at my Weight Watchers meeting I told my members about some of my thoughts and encouraged them to finish their race. Stay the course. Many people walk through the door to my meetings with some sort of baggage or at least weight on their shoulders that they are working through. I think the greatest reward in the journey towards better health and wellness is the satisfaction of setting goals and achieveing them, knowing you can be the master of your fate AND shape. (As a note, when I realized I could actually change the shape of my  body through exercise, that seemed to open up a world of possibilities. What else could I change just through positive, small changes).

I hope I can echo the words of the New Testament Apostle, Paul, when he said "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." Timothy 4:7.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Chased By a Bear

Today 4 hours and 9 minutes into the 117th running of the Boston marathon, a bomb exploded at the finishline in Copley Square. And then another bomb exploded some 20 seconds later. Chaos errupted. Racers were diverted to side roads. Such sadness on such a perfect running day. My heart goes out to those who were injured and the loved ones of those who lost their lives. I also ache for those who worked and trained and sweat and cried and triumphed and then never got the chance to cross that finishline. I heard one report that most of those who were left in the race (which was actually a large chunk) were the charity runners. These are the people who were fighting more than a personal fight and had run to raise money and show support for a cause near to them. My friend Maren and her husband, Ryan, were running for their beautiful daughter Leah, who has Rhett Syndrom. They raised over $10,000 for Rhett Research! Maren made it to mile 25.5. She and all her fellow Rhett team were safe and accounted for. Maren has been my inspiration when it comes to running. I've been meaning for months to write this post about how I got into running. This post is dedicated to her.

(My husband and me running our first half Marathon in Salt Lake City, UT)
Chased by a Bear
In college my friend Maren tried to get me to go running with her. I'd tell her, "Maren, I will run if a bear is chasing me!" Secretly I think it was because she ran early in the morning and I am not much of a morning person. But she was persistant in asking. While I never did run with her in the time that she and I were neighbors, fast forward many months and a few moves cross country and a baby, to the breakthrough.

After some intense health problems and then getting pregnant, and struggling with my weight, I knew it was time to do something about getting a handle on my health. I could hear Maren in my head inviting me to go running. My sister told me to just go run a mile. I said, I don't think I can even run to the end of my street. Enter inspirational friend #2, Erin. I knew from my experience with Maren that I wanted to try running. We had just moved back to New York from a seven-month training assignment for my husband's work. Erin and her family had just moved to New York with her husband's job. She had been training to run a marathon and then found herself pregnant and scaling back. Some how we became running buddies.

I still can't believe the patience she had. We'd meet every day at our favorite park, pack our little boys in their strollers and run. It was so slow going at first. Again, I am amazed at how willing Erin was to run with me, the girl who would only run if being chased by a bear. First we'd walk and then run one minute. Then we'd increase to two mintues running. We'd gradually add minutes to the running and take away minutes from the walking. In a matter of six or seven weeks I could run a whole loop, about 1.5 miles, without stopping. And then I did two loops! I even hit three one day. There is hardly anything so satisfying as running further than you've ever run before.

Over the many months that followed I ran and exercised and lost weight and felt wonderful. But there was still that little voice called "Maren" in my head. After my second child was born, I knew it was time to heed Maren's call and I signed up for my first half marathon in Salt Lake City. I knew Maren would be there and I was excited to tell her I'd learned to love to run. In the training process she was so good at answering my questions and calming my nerves. Read this for details of the SLC race

I have now run half marathons in Salt Lake City, Utah; Hartford, Connecticut; had another baby; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Troy, New York as well as a handful of other 5 and 10Ks. No longer am I the girl only running from bears. I'm grateful for the inspiring friends that told me I could do it when I wasn't sure I could. I'm grateful for the inspiration of my running friends who make me want to run hard and do good in the world. I'm grateful for Erin and her willingness to pay it forward. I've since trained with and ran two of those halves with friends who were really running for the first time. It's hard to express how proud I felt for them on the days that they ran further than they had ever run before. I'm so grateful for Maren and her steady heart. In the face of her own challenges, she ran on and told me I could, too.

You can read more about some of my running experiences on my post Heart of a Runner