"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Friday, March 21, 2014

factual friday

Fact is, there are a lot of mental pictures from the last few weeks that I wish I were fast enough to catch.

Like Eliza and Charlotte standing expectantly at Janie's feet, looking up at her and waiting for her to finish a last bit of homework so she will go out and play with them. They wait all day for her.

Or Celia, sitting on the end of my bed talking up a storm after a late night out. Her every thought, going on and on as my eyes grew heavier and heavier.

Christian standing on the right side of a discussion, not questioning for an instant where his standards lie in the midst of a grey area.

And Annie, leading a young women's activity in the setting & clean up, caring for each girl and her feelings as a concerned class president.

Grant making a bowl of cereal for Eliza.

Christian and Grant flying out the door after homework, long boards under their arms.

The sound of some sort of sing-a-long by girl's-supposed-to-be-going-to-bed, drifting through the vents of my bedroom.

Tonight, Newel returned after five weeks of back to back business trips over seas. I wish I could have captured the jubilation as he came through the front door.  Little girl's climbing all over him. Teenagers hanging on every word.

And though none of those experiences were actual pictures, here's a few from our last few weeks that make me realize how long those five weeks felt.


Found my lost binder under the snow on the driveway. I must have driven over it a few times. At least I'm not crazy.

We've had some warmish days. Charlotte hangs on the doorknob daily, begging to go out. Those that are pleasant are filled with the tinkling of laughter until the sun disappears. I could listen to that sound forever.

One of those warm days came with a stop for an ice cream cone. A first that brought a priceless smile.

Annie and her best friend have spent many of those warm afternoons playing photo shoot.

I've loved sharing little tips and watching their enthusiasm. They really are producing some pretty creative shots.

This one just makes my heart hurt ...

During a meeting for church, Charlotte was fascinated by another baby. I know she's our ending. It's just never easy to think on all of that.

On the lighter side, I'm eating up all the little things, like how she folds her arms for every prayer ... even if she can't help eating before we say them.

And how she called all of these "puppies" and they came to check her out. No babies were harmed in the taking of this photo.

We still have some quick snow storms blow through. That's Colorado spring.

Then, the girls peddle around the shed calling "Pizza Girls!!" or as Charlotte echos ... "Peeta Gurlz!!"

It only looks like we've given up on our hair since our dad left.

Annie worked and reworked a school art assignment to create a drawing for Google's "google doodle" contest. 

Man, the winning art from years past is out of this world. But, Annie's idea for the theme "What one invention would change the world?" ... was pretty outstanding if you ask me. She's a winner in my eyes. 

St. Patrick's Day hijinks's.

I came home from all the morning school drops to find this in the refrigerator. Thank you, sneaky kids. Glad I wasn't needing milk on any cereal.

Eliza, on the other hand, had quite a story of leprechauns to tell regarding these freckles she found on her face in the morning.

When life gets dull, Christian livens things up. His latest plan is to support the events of all of his female friends by being their "super fan". I hope it doesn't throw off any one's game ... my apologies, girls ;)

These two waited daily for Newel's Skype call.

And when it was over ...

(Pardon my unmade bed. The minute I try, those two turn it into a trampoline)  .

Longest five weeks ever, but we couldn't be more glad to have him home safe and sound tonight. 

Those are the Friday facts.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

mirror reflections

Hans Christian Anderson writes a fairy tale called, "The Snow Queen: A Tale of Seven Stories".

The story begins with an evil hobgoblin who invents a mirror that shrinks all reflections of good magnifying negativity.

The literary imagery paints a really great picture.

"... every bad and good-for-nothing thing stood out and looked it's worst. The most beautiful landscapes reflected in it looked like boiled spinach, the best people became hideous, or else they were upside-down and had no bodies. Their faces were distorted beyond recognition, and if they even had one freckle it appeared to spread all over the nose and mouth. The demon thought his immensely amusing."

I laughed at that freckle part because being a freckled gal myself .. as a kid, I actually felt they look that way at times ;)

In short, this hobgoblin gathers the negativity across the world, flying higher and higher until he drops the mirror and it's pieces shatter. Splinters lodge in the hearts and eyes of the people below. Namely, one boy named Kay. Kay and his childhood playmate, Gerda, begin experiencing troubles from the effects of this mirror splinter as Kay begins to reflect not so appealing qualities. Out causing mischief one evening, Kay gets whisked away by a snow queen who freezes his heart. Gerda spends the rest of her life searching for Kay ... hence the "tale of seven stories" part. When she finds him as an adult, her genuine embrace of love brings him back and melts the frozen mirror shard for good.

That's the gist ... if you're really interested, you can read the whole story here. 

Up front, I'm not an expert at motherhood. Recently, in searching for answers among articles and self help parenting books, I've just loved reading, "If you want to see ... blah, blah, blah, blah .... it's best to start when your children are young."

And I laugh.

Cuz I'd really like to know where the books are for those of us late to the party ...

Today in the quiet of the morning, I turned as usual to this perpetual stack sitting on my bedside table.

The only place where my mothering frustrations get quieted.

I read about the qualities of mothers. I studied the responsibilities of mothers. I made a list of what more I'd like to inspire as a mother to these children of mine from this favorite beautifully written document.

Credit for this cute copy is here.

As I sat back and looked at the list I'd made, one thought popped into my head.

"Mirror what you'd like to see Reflected"

Oh boy.

I knew that. I did. And I do. But sometimes, I forget it.

Ever heard a child say something and cringe because you recognize that it sounds just like you? Ever say something yourself and feel like you've turned into your mother?

Isn't it crazy how our children will reflect back the absolute best and worse in us?

If you self degrading-ly laugh at personal inadequacies, even in jest, even if they're true ... is it any wonder that the dark of night has you laying awake worrying about a child with low self esteem? Can't really tell a teenager to obey the speed limit, yet fly around pushing ten above the law and then be surprised at a first ticket. Want respect? Be respectful. Kind words? Use kind words. Want appreciation? Be appreciative. Wishing for responsible, reliable, finishers? Be a reliable, responsible finisher. Looking for optimistic youth? Fight like the dickens to keep those pessimistic thoughts to yourself.

The list could go on. Mine did.

They are their own people. I get that, too. Children come here with personalities and traits already established to work with. But hopefully, they'll want to mirror the very best reflections because it's what they know.

I remember my father saying during a visit to me with my first little toddling two year old, "If you want her to pick up her toys, show her how, do it with her, and then encourage as you watch her do it." I remember thinking, "Yeah, that only works until she just doesn't ... and whose got time for that?"

... cuz I was a really smart twenty something mother ;)

But in time, the hope is what we mirror will take over. Better make it good.

Sometimes, our children won't follow suit no matter how much effort we put behind the good we are trying to see reflected.

Sometimes, we make mistakes as parents and shock our children by the mirror of our own inadequacies.

It's never to late to change things up if there is a need.

We have to rely on the only tools a mother has in her bag of tricks. Faith, hope, repentance and forgiveness go a long way.

Mirror what you want to see. Have faith that those things will be reflected. Hope for the best to come. When it doesn't, hope that the best will take over because you set the stage. When you fall short ... because, by golly, though you are trying your best to teach patience, yet you loose your own ... acknowledge imperfection, know how to say "I'm sorry", and most importantly -- teach those children that the true beauty of the Savior's atonement is that it works for moms, too.

This morning as I read this little snippet:

"Now this was the faith of these whom I have spoken; they are young, and their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in God continually."

I could not imagine anything in this world more awesome than to have children whose "minds are firm". So, putting my trust where I know it belongs, I'll pay just a little more attention to the reflections the little pieces of my own mirror make.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

the music man

I'm amazed at what high schools do with musicals these days. 

I don't remember my high school having a musical, though I'm sure they did.

But by golly ... watching a group of kids learn to play off one another like clockwork ... tap dance flawlessly when they've never worn tap shoes ... harmonize like a quartet that's been together for years ...  perform ensembles to rival Broadway ...  pulled together in a ten week span ...

... made my heart pound as I warned a friend sitting in the auditorium chair aside that she should restrain me if I tried to jump on stage to join in the song and dance.

Yep, it's that bad.

As my big kids have entered high school, they've looked for a place to belong. They and their friends have really enjoyed the theater department.

Most especially, they have found a little niche on the technical theatre side.

I can usually find them with this great friend who is so good to teach them everything he knows.

Celia loves running a stage crew, the sound, the lighting, the set, the costumes, the microphones and effects. There's a lot of talent among these high school kids, and she enjoys what lies behind the scenes.

And she's phenomenally good at it.

But The Music Man auditions were coming ... did you hear me? The Music Man! It's a classic!!

So, I begged her to try out.

I think she doubted herself at first. She selected a really cute character piece to audition, got a friend to help fine tune it, brought in her own pianist to the try out ...

And grand slammed that number out of the auditorium.

Resulting in the part of Maude Dunlop, one of the ever so hilarious "Pick-A-Little" ladies.

She was so proud of herself and I was over the moon to see hard work undeniably pay off.  Sometimes high school can feel like such a popularity contest and this .... this was all hers. Earned and payed for.

Boy did she ever prove that she could do hard things.

What a great group of kids to be friends with. We were so happy for this good friend who played Harold Hill so very well.

Here he is again with is little brother barely peaking around there in the back row. That little guy is one of Janie's favorite friends. We also love that "band leader".

Then there's this adorable gal in the sailor suit on the far right with the contagious smile who I would take home to be my own. 

And again in the library ensemble which was seriously so hard for me to sit still through.

Christian leaned over and told me that he had built this yellow house .... and then he had to tear it down and build it again.

He is the best boy I know at doing things once and then doing them over correctly ;)

He is NOT into the acting part ... but give him a bandsaw and drill during school hours ...

Though she loved being in the play, Celia lit right up when talking of the Wells Fargo Wagon she worked so hard on.  For all the rehearsal and performance hoopla, I could tell her heart was really in seeing all the constructed pieces come together.

I don't know if for her, "the play's the thing", but she sure made watching fun. That girl came alive on the stage.

Impossible not to fall in love with all those colors.

And let me live vicariously for just one moment as she showed us all how beautifully she can do hard things. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

perfection in ordinary

Today was pretty close to perfect.
It won't last but today it was ...

A day of early spring warmth.
Clean house.
Pantry loaded.
Time to spare.
Enjoy extended evening light.
And room to breathe.

And perfectly ordinary.

A few things gave me pause to think last week, on how quickly the weather of life can turn.

Tomorrow, everything will be different.
I never know how much.
Maybe a little. Maybe a lot.

So today, I soaked in gratitude for perfection.
The perfection of a beautifully ordinary day.