make it for maggie wrap-up

Oct 30, 2011 by

make it for maggie wrap-up

Katherine and I are grateful and filled with love for each and every participant in Make It For Maggie. Words cannot do justice to the feelings we have in our hearts after yesterday’s event.

I walked through the day with a smile on my face and oodles of gratitude in my heart at the greatness of soul that was demonstrated by our community. It was a privilege to spend a day learning, serving, and laughing with you.

There were SO many amazing and wonderful and delightful moments throughout the day. Here are just a few of them.

1. Bill and Linda Watts helped us set up chairs and get each room ready for our classes to begin. We couldn’t have been ready on time without them!

2. Charlene walked in with the box of Handout Booklets at just the right time. We gasped when we saw how beautifully they turned out! They are lovely. Thanks to Charlene Hertzberg for her hours of work putting them together! We hope they prove to be useful in the lives of our supporters and they get used and used and used!

3. Several attendees showed up with friends! Yeah for spreading the love!

4. Check-in was super fun (although a little bit of a bottleneck!) because we were able to speak to each person, give lots of hugs, and connect with our attendees.

5. The decorations, table settings, and the whole flow of our lunch together was FABULOUS! Thank you to Kim, Stevie, and Zoie Conder for going the extra mile to make Make It For Maggie run a gazillion times more smoothly than it did last year. Your efforts are greatly appreciated!

6. Liz sang to us at lunch and what can I say…her voice melts me every time. There were many tears throughout the room. Thank you for sharing your heart with us and blessing us with the gift of music.

7. The Silent Auction was a HUGE success! Thank you for your generous support and for bidding at the last minute!

8. Christine Paugas gave Maggie a cute little knitted turtle…wish I had a picture of it because it is adorable!

9. Our classes were thoroughly enjoyed! One participant said “I have been inspired by this group of amazing women. I can’t wait to come back next year!” Yes, we have wonderful teachers!

10. An anonymous and generous donor wrote us a lovely letter and put it in our donation box. Thank you to whomever you are…and may God shower you with blessings!

10. The Bartell family showed up at 5:00 and said “Put us to work! We are here to clean the building.” Woo-hoo!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

11. When Eric Browning saw that Brian Bartell was the only man putting up tables, he dropped his schedule and got right to work! Thank you Eric!

12. Lots of people put up chairs, swept floors, and got the building put back together! I drove away at 6:39! Yes, only 1 hour and 39 minutes after it ended! Thank YOU to everyone who helped!

13. I received so many wonderful hugs yesterday…and not your average-pat-on-the-back-hugs, but tight squeezes full of love!

14. Another donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, made a very generous last minute donation. She brought Kat and me to tears with her love for the Lear family. Thank you!

15. Melissa Bartell donated money from her Halloween Costume Party…such a fabulous idea! Thank you!

16. Many people brought in door prizes at the last minute and filled our day with fun and lots of winners. A special thank you to my mama, Dorothy, for bringing so many adorable and yummy items! Thank YOU!

17. I was able to snuggle my nephew, Easton, so his overworked mama could attend Jodie’s relationship class. He promptly fell asleep on my shoulder and I was in baby heaven for an hour. Isn’t the sound of a baby breathing in your arms one of the most precious things in the world?

Here are some pictures of our day:

Check-in

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Miss Maggie at lunchtime

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Sharing information about some of our donors

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Picking Door Prize winners

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Lincoln Lear and lil’ guy Damon

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Giving Maggie’s mom, Jodie, money for Maggie’s new Proloquo2Go Communication Program and two Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatments. Yippee!!

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Jodie sharing her words of inspiration and gratitude for Make It For Maggie. She showed us some of the blessings that came into Maggie’s life through Maggie’s Month last year.

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Liz singing her heart out and bringing us to tears

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Lunch

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Bill and Linda Watt’s amazing display of preparedness items to use without electricity

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Silent Auction

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Door Prizes

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Making Tea Towels Aprons

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Knitting

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Cosette’s Stewardship Approach to Chores class

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Amy’s Just Add Water class

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Dorothy’s Make It, Take It Wooden Craft Class

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Kim, our amazing luncheon chairman

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Liz’s Green Smoothie Class

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Thank YOU to everyone for making Make It For Maggie a huge success! Thank you for joining with us in Changing The World One Family At A Time. Every single donation from $10 to $500 made a difference and we are humbled to be surrounded by such greatness of spirit.

Please feel our love for you and please spread the word, build the momentum, and join us next year.

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angels among us

Oct 6, 2011 by

I believe…in fact, I know there are angels among us. Some of them are earthly, some of them are heavenly. Some are with us for a short time, some bless us for an extended time. Right now, we have one (who knows? we probably have loads of them and just don’t know it) of the extended versions. Some precious soul out there loves us very much. Every once in a while, an envelope comes in the mail with a gift card to our local grocery store. Somehow these envelopes come right at the perfect time. Right when I have no idea how I am going to by milk, much less a cartload of groceries. Right when I am at my wit’s end trying to make my small budget make ends meet.

It’s simply amazing. The kindness overwhelms me. I have no idea who this angel is or why they are doing it. All I know is I want to hold them in my arms and tell them thank you, thank you, thank you. If by chance they read this blog, or if one of you lovely readers know who this is and could pass on our heartfelt gratitude, we would so appreciate it. Our family prays for this angel often. We pray for him or her to have financial blessings heaped upon them ten-fold and to be protected and watched over by our Heavenly Father. We also pray that we will one day be in a position that we can bless other’s lives as you have SO abundantly blessed ours.

Yes, I believe there are angels among us.

Oh I believe there are angels among us.
Sent down to us from somewhere up above.
They come to you and me in our darkest hours.
To show us how to live, to teach us how to give.
To guide us with the light of love.

They wear so many faces; show up in the strangest places.
To grace us with their mercy, in our time of need.

Oh I believe there are angels among us.
Sent down to us from somewhere up above.
They come to you and me in our darkest hours.
To show us how to live, to teach us how to give.
To guide us with the light of love.

To guide us with the light of love.

Thank you for being our angel. Words can never express how much your kindness has filled our hearts with hope, our bellies with food, and our souls with faith.

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homeschooling: how to start

Sep 1, 2011 by

I have had many people ask me over the years how to start homeschooling. The whole thing feels big and overwhelming and uncomfortable because it is an unknown. We all know how to do the whole public school thing, but homeschooling often feels like unchartered territory. We don’t know what it looks like, so we don’t know how to create it.

If you are a brand new homeschooler or even considering it, this post is for you.

First, breathe.

Really, take some deep breaths and allow that oxygen to saturate your body. Breathe, breathe, and breathe some more.

Second, pray.

Start each day in prayer or meditation and ponder what your children need from you. I promise you, the answers will come.

Third, read lots of different books about educational philosophy. Erickson, Dewey, Montessori, Waldorf, Charlotte Mason, Leadership Education, Classical Education, Prussian models (learn where the current American model came from), colonial-era ideas, Sir Ken Robinson (watch him at TED!), John Taylor Gatto, etc. As you read, ideas will be bouncing around in your head…some will feel right, some will feel wrong, some will feel like you need to ponder them more, some will be intriguing, some will be rejected immediately. Let yourself experience all sorts of ideas and sort out what feels right and what feels wrong. You will come to understand what your view of childhood is, how you think education happens best, and what course you want to pursue with your own children. Some books that have greatly impacted my life are Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning, A Thomas Jefferson Education, You Are Your Child’s First Teacher, Better Late Than Early, The Charlotte Mason Companion, The Seven-Lesson Schoolteacher, The Well-Trained Mind, A Mother Just Like You, The Underground History of American Education, The Three R’s and Teach Like Your Hair’s On Fire: The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56 (I love all of Rafe Esquith’s books…read them all!). I have read hundreds of books about education and each have influenced me. It is hard for me to go back in time to when Blythe was five and figure out what was impactful then, but I think the books above will give you a wealth of fodder to chew on.

Fourth, focus on rhythms, routines, and relationships. What are those things, you say?

Rhythms are the flow of your day. These things don’t need to necessarily happen at a certain time, just have a rhythm to them. Rhythms are family specific…each family’s daily flow will look and feel different. Some will start with yoga, some with gardening, some with snuggle time, some with music, some with cleaning, some with eating and then from there they will continue to look different. Some homes are high energy, some are calm, some are orderly, some are a tad chaotic feeling. Figure out what you want your day to look AND feel like and start creating or fine tuning your rhythms.

Routines are the way things get done. Cleaning, meals, learning time, phone calls answered, errands, email, etc. Anything that needs to be done will usually go more smoothly and efficiently if there is some kind of learned system for how it is to be accomplished in your home.

Relationships are the connections and trust (or lack thereof) you have with your children and they have with one another. A wise mentor once told me if they can’t trust you emotionally, they won’t trust you academically. If a child feels you understand their heart they are much more likely to listen to you, yearn to obey you, and desire to learn from you.

I actually struggle with all three of the R’s…none of it comes naturally to me, so if it doesn’t come naturally to you, please don’t give up or think you can’t homeschool. Homeschooling is a journey, an adventure ride, and a refining process all at once. Homeschooling helps me grow into the mother I want to be. Homeschooling teaches me what I need to change in my mothering so I can be who and what they need me to be. People often tell me, “I could never homeschool, I’m not organized enough” or “I want to homeschool, but I am not patient enough” and I tell them “None of us are the perfect homeschooling mother, we all struggle with organization and patience and systems, but we keep trying and learning and growing and loving and it gets easier and more natural as time goes on.”

Fifth, start with some basics. Study your Core (your source of truth) Book(s) and make those truths come alive for your children. Gather your children around you and have time together in the morning. You may have a big ol’ family devotional or just read-aloud time or singing time. Pick some things you want to do every day and make them special. Then add in read-aloud time. Read books that reinforce your core values, that nourish the soul, stimulate the mind, and are a pleasure to read. When that is going well, add in something else, like math, science, history, geography, nature studies, narration, FIAR, music, art, poetry, etc. Study the lives of great men and women. Choose things you are interested in and do them. Go on walks, collect rocks and bugs. Go on bike rides. Make a picnic and read outside under the trees. Cook with them. Enjoy them. Find what works in the course of your day and what doesn’t. You will know. Trust me, you will know.

Sixth, pray (if that works for you) and breathe some more.

Seventh, keep educating yourself. Study, learn, read, write, discuss. Model learning for your children. Share what you are excited about. Invite them on your learning journey.

Eighth, smile, laugh, create family traditions you love, make being part of your family (and your homeschool) super cool and special. Enjoy your children and love them.

Ninth, pray and ponder what your mission is and what your children’s missions are. Prepare for those things and be ready and willing to serve, lead, sacrifice, and love those people and causes that you feel led to. Assist your children in doing the same.

Tenth, build a community of people who are on your same path.

It works. It really does.

Now, I have had a lot of people ask me what our days look like. I hesitate to share this because the whole point of this post is to inspire you to create your OWN days, not copy mine, but for those of you that need a picture before you can start tweaking, here you go…but remember create your own.

In our home, we start with singing time…we pull out all our drums, shakers, and rhythm sticks and sing at the top of our lungs. Each person picks out at least one song, but often it is much more. Then we have a prayer to start our learning time, recite the pledge, learn about our temple of the day and find where it is located on our big maps. Many times we find lots of other things on the maps too. I often read a story of faith, courage, or sacrifice from our family, religious, nation’s, or world’s history. We read our scriptures and discuss them. We learn or practice our Poem of the Week. Then we do spelling words, a grammar lesson, and whatever else I feel like teaching them at that time. This is my special time to share what I love with my children. We may discuss a current situation going on in the world, read a science book, each write a poem, act out a historical event, or whatever…I just share what I am thinking about and we go with it for however long we are interested in it. Then Blythe heads off to her room for her studies while I read to the younger three for awhile. Sometimes read-aloud time is fifteen minutes, sometimes two hours. Keziah camps out on a couch surrounded by her math books, art work, handwriting, and whatever else she wants to work on while I read. Fisher and Annes usually draw or play with blocks while I read to them. Reading time is often interrupted with questions, finding places on the maps from our readings, needing to grab a snack, or someone at the door. We have learned to go with the flow of the morning. When I am tired of reading or their interest has waned we move on to the next phase of our morning. I often work with Fisher on reading or math, play learning games with Fisher and Annes, work one on one with Keziah in her studies, teach them all about whatever I am excited about, or if they are all happily learning on their own I will sit with them and study my books, knowing I will be interrupted on a regular basis. By now, it is lunchtime and Blythe makes lunch and we all eat and clean up together before starting our afternoon routine. Afternoons are often full of personal reading time, artwork, outside time, sewing, projects, science, FIAR time with Fisher, one on one time with any children who need me academically or emotionally, and my study time. During the mornings we are all together in our learning room (well, except for Blythe who studies in her room), but during the afternoons we are all over the house and yard. We gather back together for dinner prep, eating, and clean-up. Then we have scripture study and family read-aloud time in the evenings when Richard can join us. On some days I throw the whole routine out the window and go on a hike or park or some other adventure with them.

Many days go really well, some go so-so, some are terrible and I want to give up and throw in the towel, but usually at the end of a day I am grateful for my life as a homeschooling mother. Errands, email, blogging, phone calls, etc are all squished in around the edges and I have to force myself to not let those things take over my life. Laundry is my nemesis, as are dishes and the amount of messes that occur when five people are home together all day every day. I haven’t figured any of that out, but I have learned that I can clean all day long or I can learn all day long and either way my home is in about the same condition the next day. There will always be work to do in the upkeep of a home, but there won’t always be children wanting to learn, so develop a cleaning routine that works for you and then focus on the learning and being together.

I have been homeschooling for fifteen years. I am in a different place than someone just starting out. I have different worries than I did back then…and a different sense of peace. If I had to do it over again, I would make many of the same choices, but I would also gather them around me more and BE with them more. I would go on more walks in the mountains, schedule less of our days, and relish in the joy of learning together more. I did all of those things, but now that I see how fast life changes into having a youth with all sorts of needs and schedules, I would go back and do less. I would relish reading Charlotte’s Web for a whole afternoon. I would turn off my phone, build a fort, bake some cookies, and read with her. Now that she spends her time studying in her room for hours upon hours every day, I wish I could back and snuggle with her again as a precious little six year old.

Now my eyes are full of tears as I think back to those early days of homeschooling. We had so much fun together. Before Blythe was eight years old, we had read our core book over and over and over again, all of E.B. White’s works, all of the Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, thousands of picture books, Little Britches, The Little House on the Prairie series, and so many more. We spent our days reading books, going on walks, and collecting bugs. Now I have a busy schedule and lots of people who need me and I rarely have a day to spend sitting in a fort or going on a two hour walk. I need to figure out a way to be in this current phase of my life and still create the magic that I had with Blythe.

If you are just starting out or even thinking about the possibility of homeschooling, I am happy to talk in-depth with you and help you on this journey. It is a journey I am so grateful to be on and I love helping others on the path.

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the lesson of submission

Jun 16, 2011 by

I have been learning much.

Learning that I can’t solve my problems.

Learning that I can’t control my life.

Learning that I have been far too prideful.

Learning that I am much too reliant on my own pitiful attempts to rescue myself.

Learning that it doesn’t matter how smart I am, how good I am, how angry I am, how deserving I am, how anything I am…I am not in charge, I can’t change my husband’s job, and I can’t change this lump in my breast.

Now, I am not saying I am powerless…I AM saying relying on my own strength, tenacity, brains, or anything else of MY own won’t work.

I have had to give this all to God and let Him change things.

I have had to submit…in some ways it is the most frightening experience of my life.

It is also the most humbling.

Several weeks ago, I was told that because my mammogram results came back clear, I was no longer eligible to receive funding through the Early Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program. Since then, I have made countless phone calls, had numerous appointments with specialists in a variety of fields, and been researching till the cows come home…actually far later into the night than when the cows come home. Through all this study, I have decided that the mammogram results are not accurate due to my dense breast tissue and that I need to pursue further testing.

The Screening Program said they would absolutely not pay for any other appointments and they would certainly not pay for the $5,000 biopsy. No way around it. I did not meet the guidelines to continue with further testing and there was nothing I could do about it.

I have pondered fundraising ideas. Bake sales, selling my beloved bike, my cello, some of my books, creating some sort of new business that could quickly raise the money needed. Ideas have poured through my head and all of it was completely overwhelming. I knew I wasn’t up to doing anything that large or that quickly. I am tired. Each day is a struggle to get through and there is just not enough of me to get it all done.

For years, I have thought if I just worked harder, stayed up later, smiled more, or involved more people, I could solve whatever problem is in front of me. For the last four years, I have been learning that I can’t solve our financial problems. I can’t magically give Richard a new job. I can’t give him more hours with us. I can’t go back in time. But, I have made myself miserable and exhausted by taking the weight of that burden on and trying to solve it and feeling the weight of guilt and torment that has gotten us here. I have beat myself up over and over and OVER. I have distanced myself from God because I have felt so absolutely unworthy of His love. I have sobbed into my pillow all night long more times than I can count because the pain is so unbearable. I have not allowed the atonement to work in my life…all because of debt and poor choices and guilt and not measuring up to my vision of a good steward.

Sometimes the reality of trying to get through the day feels like a boulder pressing down on my chest. Sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe. Sometimes I try to escape into a book, but at the end of the last page, the problems are still in front of me. Sometimes I look into the eyes of my children and start crying because I can’t solve this problem.

I know God does not want me to feel this way. Yes, He wants us to be good stewards, but He does not want me to hate myself and be unwilling to accept His atonement because of my self-imposed guilt. My priesthood blessing of a few weeks ago helped me to feel and know His great love for me. It helped me to let go of the guilt and bask in His peace. Since then, I have felt His love on a daily basis. I have felt wrapped in His arms.

Many times, I am able to be comforted by the fact that innumerable miracles have fed, clothed, and sheltered us in the past four years since our business closed. Many times, I am able to remember hope. Many times I am functioning in a state of shock as my family and friends give me clothes, make-up, gas, food, trips to Utah, warm meals, books, and all the other wonderful things people have provided for us. Many times I am so embarrassed by the help people give us that I am unable to communicate and perhaps they don’t know how grateful I am and how perfectly timely their gifts have been. Many times, I know, absolutely know, that I am in God’s hands and that I need to trust.

But mostly, I still think I can solve everything.

This lump has taught me that I can’t. I can’t get rid of it. I can’t find out what it is on my own.

I can eat healthy foods. I can cleanse. I can relax. I can trust. I can simplify. I can try to fix the hormone imbalance.

But I can’t solve it.

I don’t know if anything I am saying is making sense. I am typing a million miles a minute and pouring my heart out into my keyboard and probably not really communicating the feelings of my soul. I hope someone can sense what I am saying.

Last night when I got home from having a wonderful time with my friends, Jessica and Jessica, I had a message from the screening program.

By some miraculous turn of events (and by miraculous, I mean miraculous…I’m sure there had to be some angelic intervention), they have decided to pay for another surgical consult AND the biopsy if it is necessary AND follow-up appointments.

I’m speechless.

I cried and cried last night. I do not deserve this. I haven’t earned it. It doesn’t make any sense.

But that is exactly how God works. I need to stop trying to earn His love and just love Him, just trust Him, just submit my willful, prideful, selfish self to Him.

The next miracle happened this morning.

Dr. Jones’ (the best breast cancer surgeon in our area) office called and said they had a cancellation for this afternoon and it was mine if I wanted it.

What??????

Generally they are booking appointments 4 – 6 weeks out.

Miracles are everywhere.

I am learning to submit to God’s plan for my life. It is hard, but I am learning that His hands are best place for me to be.

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how does it feel?

Mar 27, 2011 by

The entire trip to the TJED Family Forum would have been worth it for just this one lesson I learned in a presentation by my friend, Jodie Palmer.

She asked the question “How does it feel?” repeatedly. She kept asking it enough that it finally sunk in to my heart and has had me thinking deeply about it ever since. I ask you to think about it also.

How does it feel in your home?

How does it feel in your arms?

How does it feel to talk to you?

How does it feel to read a book with you?

How does it feel to eat a meal with you?

How does it feel to pray with you?

How does it feel to drive with you?

How does it feel to work with you?

How does it feel to wake up with you?

How does it feel to go to bed with you?

Jodie asked the first question and I have been asking myself all the rest. I have realized I have not been looking in my children’s eyes enough. I have not been connecting with their spirits the way I used to. In some ways I have become a drill sergeant and I know a drill sergeant is not what God wants me to be. It is not how I want to be.

Jodie asserted that whatever we are doing with our children, be it reading, mathematics, history, gardening, packing for a trip, doing their hair, sewing, cleaning, art, WHATEVER, the real question we need to ask ourselves is not how well they are learning or doing or accomplishing, but how they feel while they are doing it. How they feel will play a far larger role in them eventually learning the reading, mathematics, history, etc than how they are actually learning it right now. When they feel safe, loved, nurtured, excited, understood, invigorated, and competent, they are defining who they are, what family is, how a mother treats her children, and what learning feels like. When they feel scared, overwhelmed, ignored, pushed, bored, misunderstood, or failing, they are learning the exact same lessons, but with very different outcomes.

Think about this.

Let it sink in.

Find the truth in it.

I am not saying we try the ridiculous social experiments of the 80’s where unearned praise and “good job!” were lathered on children. I am not saying feelings rule the day and that behavior doesn’t matter. I am saying that as a mother I have a stewardship to create the culture in our home and that culture plays a large part in how my children feel. If children are called to meals and hurriedly told to sit down so we can pray and then have the food devoured they will have a very different feeling than if meal time is treated as a special time of day where we are able to jointly give thanks to God, enjoying our meal, and share stimulating conversation.

If I am not looking at my children while they are talking to me, they will have a different feeling than if I get down on their level and look them in the eye.

If I am too busy to be able to listen with my heart, I am too busy to sufficiently fill their souls with my love for them.

If my voice is taut and strained while I am teaching a math concept or reading or driving or any other thing, my children will not only sense they are not smart enough to get it, they may also come to believe that learning is overwhelming, causes mom to become stressed, and takes way to much work to be worth it.

On the other hand, if I am able to set a tone of calmness, order, stability, connection, patience, forgiveness, and most of all, love, my children will carry that feeling in their souls and it will define for them what a family is, what home means, how a mother treats her children, and they will yearn for that feeling to stay with them. That feeling will keep them close to their family and close to God. They may stray from what they have been taught, but that feeling will bring them back.

This is what I want. I think lately I have been too busy teaching the academics to remember to focus on the feeling I want to create in my home.

Jodie’s class reminded me what my real goals are and has given me lots of things to ponder this week. I have been striving this week to get back to the mother I used to be and to fill my children’s spirits with the feeling I want them to have of home.

If you want to listen to Jodie’s talk, you will be able to download it at TJED Marketplace in a few weeks. It is called Family Mission Statements by Jodie Palmer and was fabulouso!

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a lesson from reepicheep

Dec 20, 2010 by

Tonight in the middle of our sewing marathon…which if you remember involves Kat sewing and me pressing and pinning…Richard took our family (plus Trey) to Voyage of the Dawn Treader for Family Home Evening tonight.

I loved it.

In spite of the changes to the book, I loved it.

I loved sitting in a theater surrounded by the people I love best and watching the absolute joy and wonder on their faces as they experienced this dearly loved story brought to life right in front of them.

I thought that was the reason I felt so strongly we needed to fork out the moola to attend.

I was wrong.

I needed this film.

I needed to see Reepicheep run across the beach and paddle in earnest to Aslan’s land. I needed to see the look in his eyes as he greets it. I needed to see him say goodbye to those he loves and then move forward with excitement to the land of his King.

I have had far too many loved ones die in the past two years. My precious grandmother died two years ago at Christmas-time. I miss her so much. I still cry when I talk about her. I still touch the place on my cheek where she last kissed me on November 29, 2008. I still hear her voice in my mind and sometimes I play her voice on my answering machine. I still think of her when I sing As Sisters In Zion. I still think of her every time I bake or fold or knead or serve.

As I typed these thoughts out, I realized her funeral was today.

Today was the last time I saw her beautiful face and held her hand.

And tonight my Heavenly Father blessed me to see Reepicheep run to heaven to help me see what death from this life can come to mean to me.

Someday.

Maybe someday I can let her go and be full of joy with her instead of holding on to the pain in my heart which longs for her to be with me here.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for teaching me once again the majesty of your plan for each of your children. Thank you for loving me enough to give me this blessing on this very night. Thank you for remembering the pain in my heart and soothing it with thy tender care.

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number ten and the saga of the hair gone bonkers

Sep 2, 2010 by

I haven’t wanted to talk about this. I haven’t been willing to face it. I haven’t wanted to admit it. But now, I feel I must be open and honest about events of recent days.

I was pregnant. I wasn’t excited about it. Although I want a baby desperately and much of my life revolves around figuring out the mystery of how to help my body stay pregnant, at this moment in time I was not excited. I kept thinking, “How will I be able to support Blythe in Shakespeare if I am giving birth right during her play? How will I do gym? How will I get my children to their classes that they are so excited about? How will I teach classes at iFamily? How will I tell all 75 of my gym students I cannot teach? How will I break my contract with the gym? Will they let me or will I have to pay them rent even if I am not using it? How will I homeschool my children? How will I ever survive the months of throwing up, the constant feeling of needing to throw up, the heartburn, the pelvic pain, the possibility of my midwife not attending me, the cost of having a baby, the reality of Richard working 12 hour days, six days a week. How will I meet the needs of my other children? How, how, how?”

I was overwhelmed at first. I knew I had ovulated twice and I was doubly worried about having twins. I mean, I think twins are fun and all that, but I was full of fear that my body simply would not be able to carry twins successfully. That I literally would be unable to walk because of my pelvic issues. That I would not be able to do it. The big IT, meaning everything that every mother makes bigger than it really is when we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the hugeness of our responsibilities as mothers.

Then I started to get excited. I started thinking that because of a quite miraculous conception, a full week after my fertility signals had disappeared, that God must have intended this baby to stay. I started to be full of hope that this time, this pregnancy would not end as so many other pregnancies have ended for us, but that we would actually get to hold this baby or babies in our arms. I began making adjustments in my life to accommodate for this life inside of me. I began to embrace the idea of pregnancy.

And then, the bleeding started.

Once again, I was miscarrying one of my children.

Parts of me were relieved. Relieved that I didn’t have to make all those adjustments. Relieved that my children’s lives could go on normally. Relieved that Blythe’s Shakespeare play wouldn’t be effected.

Part of me was devastated. Devastated that I would not be seeing this child, would not be holding him in my arms. Would not be nursing him. Would not be watching him grow.

But most of me? Most of me felt guilt. Horrible, gut-wrenching, knife-stabbing, take my breath away guilt. Guilt that I had rejected a child of God. Guilt that I had put temporal worries in front of being a mother. A MOTHER. What I know I was born to be. Guilt that this child felt unwanted and so he left.

So I stuffed all of these feelings deep down inside and went on with life like nothing had happened. I told very few of my friends. I didn’t want anyone to know what I had done. I didn’t even tell my mom, who I tell everything too. I kept bleeding and I went on with life as if nothing had happened.

It was too overwhelming to face.

And then I decided to get my hair lowlighted to add in a little bit of light brown and make my hair look more natural instead of the super blond it has been all summer.

The light brown turned black, navy blue, grey, and red.

We tried to lighten the darkest parts and they turned orange. Bright orange.

We tried to darken the orange parts and they turned dark brown and so not a lovely color of dark brown. At this stage, I also had a two inch white streak in the front of my hair with crayola marker red mixed in. Bimbo-city is what my hair was screaming to the world.

I was completely befuddled. What on earth was going on with my hair? Why was it not turning the right colors or even the right tones? What did I need to do to fix it?

I called my good friend Melissa, who is a cosmetologist and does foot zoning, and explained the whole hair situation to her. She immediately asked what was going on in my life. I told her “nothing, nothing out of the ordinary. Just the usual amount of busyness, getting ready for gym, iFamily, etc.” She probed deeper and asked “what is going on hormonally.” Again, I said “nothing.” Then, I finally admitted that I had just miscarried. She jumped on that idea and said “Tracy, those hormones are making your hair do this. I am sensing you are not dealing well with the miscarriage, that you don’t want to admit it, that you don’t want to face it and now your body is calling to you to notice what is going on, to acknowledge the pregnancy and the loss of the pregnancy.”

Immediately, I knew she was right. I thought of the day before when Amy had kindly said “We need to get you another bead for your miscarriage necklace and I reacted so strongly and said “NO, no, I don’t want another bead. I don’t want anyone to know. I don’t want to have a tenth bead hanging on my neck.” I thought of how I hadn’t told even my mother. I thought of how I was just moving on with life as if nothing had happened.

So, now we knew why my hair was behaving so erraticlly, but we still didn’t know what to do about it. Every person we consulted with said we needed to stop processing it. Stop adding chemicals to it or it would all fall out. I thought “We can’t stop now! Not at this bimbo stage. No hair must be better than bimbo hair. I cannot go out in public and portray myself as a Latter-Day Saint woman and mother of four with hair like this. I simply cannot. Shaving it all off would be a better option.”

So we decided to consult with lots more people, getting different opinions from each one. We finally decided to fill the white parts with a copper color and then to dye the whole thing brown.

It worked…kind of…it went much darker red than we thought and it went much darker brown than it should have. But it is all the same color…mostly…and I don’t look like a bimbo. So it worked, right?

Brown Hair

This has been a big lesson for me to learn. My body and my emotions cannot be separated. I cannot ignore what is going on with me at the deepest levels and expect my body to be okay with that. I cannot hide from it, for it will come out in some way.

It is pretty interesting that I was not willing to face the miscarriage and now I have to look in the mirror and face it everyday.

Our bodies are amazing creations. They speak to us even when we are not listening. They present lessons to us even when we don’t want to learn.

I will now admit it.

I have lost ten babies. Ten. TEN. It is overwhelming to me to think of it.

But now, I also feel surrounded by love. The love of all those children. The love of a Heavenly Father that has allowed me to be a co-creator with Him for fourteen babies and that somehow, somehow, I have four that have come to earth and are spending their days learning with me.

I no longer believe I drove this baby away. I believe he loved me enough to come again when it will work better for our family. For his family.

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grl top twenty

Aug 13, 2010 by

My favorite place in the whole world.

Rainbow

Pink clouds over Cat Ears

This little piece of heaven brings me peace, joy clear down to my little toes, courage to face hard things, and so much more. I am so grateful for these mountains, the frigid water, the moose that wander on the beach in the early morning hours, the wind in the trees, the sunrise over Osborne, the rugged sturdiness of Square Top, the seven little streams on the shady side of the lake, Mill Creek, rainbow trout and the mighty fishermen who catch them, the Sleeping Giant, Clear Creek Meadow, the tradition our family has had for forty years of camping there, the friends who join us, the strangers we meet, and the connection we all feel to this beautiful place.

Here are the Top Twenty from our Green River Lakes camping trip this year – in no particular order!

1. Watching Fisher jump off the bridge all by his little own self AND swim about 20 feet to me.

2. Scott pitching to Fisher.

3. Blythe and Andie’s 14th birthday parties…with 28 people at the first one and 18 people at the second. Plus, we got to eat two different birthday cakes and yummy ice cream. Good thing we have girls with August birthdays so we have a reason to have a big treat up there every year!

Guests at the first party

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First Birthday cake

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Head scratchers from Grandma
Head scratchers from Grandma

“LIfe is Good” shirts from Grandma

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"Life is Good" shirts from Grandma

Annesley and birthday cake

Annesley & birthday cake

Blythe’s Birthday book
Blythe's Birthday book

Blythe’s new “Life is Good” hat
"Life is Good" hat

The second birthday cake

Andie's Birthday cake

Andie’s new battery charger

Andie's new battery charger

4. Setting up camp three times in less than 24 hours.

5. Watching Jared and Fisher catch bugs together for hours on end.

6. Jumping off the bridge, swinging on Scott’s ingenius swing under the bridge, and swimming in the water hole in the river. Courage awards for bridge jumping go to Samuel (4), Fisher (5), Teryn (5), Christian (7), Jaxon (8), Keziah (9), Eve (10), Tiegen (11), Marcus (13), Tod (13), Blythe (14), Andie (14), Scott, Tracy, Camille, Austin, Tonya, Chance (8), Alyssa (11), and Logan. Yes, we are awesome.

Here is Fisher’s whole jumping process:

Watching everyone else jump

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Thinking about jumping…how far is it anyway?
Fisher thinking about the bridge

Being lifted over by Uncle Scott

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Getting ready to jump

Getting ready to jump

In the air!

In the air!

Coming up out of the water

Coming up out of the water

He made it!

He made it!

In mama’s arms at last!

In mama's arms at last

Andie on the swing

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Teryn on the swing

Teryn on the swing

Annesley

Annesley on the swing

Fisher

Fisher on Scott's ingenius swing

Jared

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Camille

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Camille jumping off the bridge

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Camille again

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7. Beating Mom and Scott at Rook…I’m sure it is the first and last time that will ever happen.

8. Annesley and Teryn lovin’ on Uncle Logan. Teryn was basically glued on to him the entire time. Uncle Logan made them both bracelets and gave Fisher his own necklace to take care of till he can make one for him as well.

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9. Going on a hike all alone with Camille and Tami (and of course, her little cutie, Jace). Yes, Tami came clear from Colorado to camp with us and Camille rearranged her college test schedule so she could be up there when we were there. Thank you guys for making my camping trip wonderful. I love you both!

Our hike was made possible by Tracy, Camille’s oldest, taking eleven children with her on their own hike. What an amazing girl she is!

Tami and Jace

Tami & Jace

10. Discovering my long-lost friend Tonya camped right next to us! It has been 11+ years since we have seen each other and 20 years since I first took her to Green River Lakes. Spotting her walking through the campground is one of the tender mercies God has given me. Thank goodness we decided to canoe across the lake at 6:30 a.m. on our last morning there. Beautiful mountains, good conversation, a bald eagle right above us, and two golden eagles flying nearby.

Tami, Tonya, and Moi

Bald Eagle

Other side of the lake

Golden Eagles

11. Lots of cousin time together…all told we had 21 second and third cousins playing with each other…not including our generation of 1st and 2nd cousins.

Blythe, Andie, and Tod

Blthe, Andie, & Marcus

Eve, Teryn, and Keziah

Annes and Jace

Annesley and Jace

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12. Swimming at the Aquatic Center on our way home with Tonya and her adorable family and then being treated to a delicious dinner by her stubborn and insistent husband, Ryan.

13. Keziah climbing on top of our new-to-us-given-to-us forty-year-old camper to put a tarp on top to stop the leaking from the rainstorm our first night there. She should be a mountain climber some day.

14. Playing softball with family and friends and watching Fisher tackle cousins to get the ball in his mitt first. He has come a long way from the shy little boy he used to be.

15. Logan’s dutch oven peach cobbler. Yummm!

16. Grandma playing Garbage with all the kids on her blanket in the shade.

17. Sleeping eight people and all our gear in a camper made for half that many.

18. Scott holding Annesley, Jace, or Taz on an daily hourly basis and helping them be happy while games are played, meals are cooked, or older siblings are attended to. What a great uncle he is!

Scott & Annesley

19. Watching Sadie leap over Mill Creek and dash into the water.

20. Sitting around the campfire at night, seeing shooting stars, gorgeous constellations, and the Milky Way while listening to Scott’s hilarious stories with the people I love most in this world.

21. I couldn’t stop with 20…my favorite thing of all is watching my husband fish with a smile on his face and contentment oozing out of his body. He needs this trip even more than I do and I am so glad he got to fish and catch some big ones.

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How many fishing poles can these guys use at one time?

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Green River Lakes is not really mine, but it sure feels like it. It is the place I think of when I think of love, family, hope, fun, good meals, growing up, laughing with Camille, and of course, my dear grandparents. I can’t imagine a summer going by without this annual trip. The beauty and the majesty of these mountains is just what I need to get me through another year.

More pics…

Blythe and Grandma

Blythe and Grandma

Keziah and Sadie

Keziah and Sadie

Annesley and the worms

Annesley and the worms

Fisher and Sadie

Fisher and Sadie

Mikelle, Andie, and Kez

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Fisher and his papa

Fisher and his papa

The cutest two-year-old ever

Annesley

Fisher and his catch

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Mikelle and Logan

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Tami, Teryn, Scott, Christian, the handsome Steevo, Annesley, Fisher, and Richard

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Blythe and Andie

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grow the tree you have

Jun 23, 2010 by

I am reading a great book and it has a chapter in it called “Grow the Tree You Got” that gave me some big food for thought today. It talked about a man who had a gorgeous Kentucky black oak tree growing in his yard, but he yearned for an Australian acacia.

Every time he looked at the oak he saw that it didn’t have purple blooms and it didn’t let the sun stream through his yard the way an acacia would. He didn’t appreciate the strong branches of the oak, the beautiful colors of the leaves, the cooling shade it offered to every passerby. He didn’t notice how the oak’s root system nourished younger trees nearby.

The oak cannot do enough to please the man and soon the man doesn’t even see the magnificent tree when he comes home. There is a gift waiting for him in his front yard every single day, but he does not notice it.

From Parking Lot Rules & 75 Other Ideas for Raising Amazing Children by Tom Sturges

He only saw what his tree didn’t have and was not able to appreciate or be grateful for what it did have.

The author applied this to parenting and opened my eyes. He talks about how sometimes we do the same thing to our children. We have expectations, hopes, and desires for a certain child and when we don’t have that child we fail to see the wonderfulness of the child we do have.

I think in some small measure I have done this with my oldest. I have always adored her. She completely changed my life by making me a mother. I nursed her for over three years. I spent years being her mom with no one else around. She was with me every day and we had a delightful time going on walks, discovering bugs, reading for hours and hours, talking to all sorts of strangers on our journeys, going on bike rides, cooking up concoctions she could eat in spite of her allergies. We were completely in love with each other.

But then she grew up and I had more kids and she didn’t have all my attention and she wasn’t like what I thought she would be. I thought she would be like me and well, she wasn’t. She was a tad introverted. She thought artistically, not logically. She felt things deeply, but then she wouldn’t talk about them. She kept her ideas to herself. She wanted to be alone for hours at a time. She didn’t like being the center of attention and I embarrassed her constantly because I simply could not understand that facet of her personality. She was a slow reader. She held grudges. She created worlds in her mind and often went there to live unbeknownst to me who was treating her as if she was still in my home and thought she should interact with us. She had thin, breakable hair that seemed beyond my abilities to do anything with. She had oily skin that needed to be showered, washed, and pampered to stay on an even keel. She didn’t laugh at the same things I laughed at. She didn’t love math the way I love math.

Sometimes I saw these things as huge deficits. Things she didn’t have, couldn’t do, wouldn’t be. But really they were just things I couldn’t understand. They were things that weren’t like me. Things that seemed frustrating because they were out of my realm of experience.

Sometimes I saw them so much I couldn’t see the beauty and the wonder of who she was.

Who she is.

She is passionate about freedom for all of God’s children. She believes in standing up for truth. She has the soul of an artist. She moves with grace to the music of her mind. She has beautiful laughter and a lovely smile. She has the ability to be friends with all sorts of different types of people. She taught herself how to crochet and then makes things…like slippers, headbands, and gloves…just by looking at some and then figuring out how to do them. She is not afraid of doing things imperfectly. She stubbornly does what she sets her mind to. She is an amazing swimmer. She has a lovely body. She taught herself how to sew. She is clear about who she is and what she stands for. She is not afraid to do hard things. She is modest. She is funny. She has a beautiful singing voice. She has a flare for fashion. She has amazing curly hair. She is a great babysitter. She loves the Book of Mormon. She is strong. She is determined. She is resilient. She can draw for hours. She sees beauty that I miss. She is a deep thinker.

She is not me. She is not who I thought she would be.

She is her very own self and I love her.

I need to figure out how to send that message to her on a consistent basis and not focus on what the oak tree lacks.

Grow the tree or the child you have. The one you were given and not the one of your dreams. It will make all the difference.

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