Good moments… Long Days…

[Observation: I’m not filtering much these days. I know this post is mostly for me – for the record… so that someday when I’m 50+ I’ll remember to be kind to young mothers because I REMEMBER the long days. Hopefully I’ll REMEMBER and recognize the blessings that were poured out upon me as well.)

Lately I’ve tried to focus on being grateful for MOMENTS. This is good.

But last week when I was flying solo as mom to five (with 3 under 3 at home ALL.DAY.LONG.), I realized that there are oodles of wonderful (yet short) MOMENTS yet the days are long and hard. This is when CHARACTER is built. Let’s just say that lots of character will be built in the next few years.

I find myself with these thoughts…
“If only we can make it until quiet time.”
“Just keep going until the kids get home from school.”
“Survive until dad gets home from work.”
“phew… we endured another dinner time with tots.”
“I think it’s one of those days for early bedtime.”
“Is it Friday yet?”

Not exactly positive affirmations here…

I’m cruising through the days… trying to keep everyone alive (mostly keeping Eliza safe from Tru!!). I think I need a daily PURPOSE… a goal to accomplish with the tots… so I don’t wish my days away.

I BELIEVE in the value of my purpose/mission as mother… to lead and guide these little spirits. It’s honestly easier to believe when things are smooth sailing … when you don’t have to live all the hardest, ickiest parts of housework (cleaning barf and poop and eternal spills). Some days it feels like all I’m doing is keeping Tru and Max from screaming at each other all day. Even Max prayed last night, “Grateful that Truman don’t hit, scream, pinch, or kick.”

I’m really trying… really. I try to use wisdom, listen to the Spirit, pray to be filled with LOVE for my family. And often I feel like a complete goober of a mother – really. Sometimes I just stare glassy-eyed at the situation in silence… wondering what is best to do. Tots are screaming/fighting over a toy, baby is hungry, kids need help with homework or chores, dinner isn’t ready or even planned, dishes are piled, floor has crumbs, glass door has gooey fingerprints. I stare… and pray… and then act… wondering if I will ever get it right.

So yes – I’m trying. I wonder how hard things would be for those who don’t try … for those who don’t take their calling as parent seriously. Maybe it’s easier for them because they don’t make efforts… I don’t know. But this quote by Elder Eyring’s mother, I BELIEVE…

We’re not here on earth for leisure and vacation… it’s a test… time to see what we’re made of… all those fabulous character-building days. Then there’s booger Satan who tries to discourage anyone doing good.

I like that the Spirit ENCOURAGES. We need more of that around here. I like this encouraging statement by Elder Eyring about moving upward… and onward.

Elder Henry B Eyring, “Raise the Bar”, BYU–Idaho Devotional, January 25, 2005

We’re definitely climbing mountains lately… we’re finding a new normal with a new little person in our family… each child is in a different stage of life… it’s ever-changing. Mom and dad are tired. There is stress affecting everyone. I liked Elder Uchtdorf’s advice to slow down in times of difficulty.

Uchtdorf, Dieter F., “Of Things That Matter Most,” Ensign, Nov. 2010

The purpose of life is not to speed it up – but to focus on the basics. So for now, we’ll strive to keep everyone alive, semi germ-free, mostly happy, and making efforts to choose the right.. And hopefully I’ll do better at having a purpose for each day to stay focused on loving my little ones amidst the chaos. I’ll continue my goal to enjoy the milliseconds of peace instead of just waiting for the days to speed by.

Train Up A Child

I somehow am under the delusion that I can buckle down and train and teach my children in ONE summer … and they’ll be perfect little people – able and willing to fully help and take over once our babe is born. Reality says… yes, I can Train and Teach… but I need to remember how young my tots are. They are still “in Training” for many more moons.

But – TRY I shall. We’re focusing on the basics this summer… the stuff that really needs to be done to keep this family going (a bit more smoothly!) on a daily basis.

My tots (especially Abe) work best with a checklist. They know all tasks need to be marked on their chart before privileges. We’re sticking with the charts in a frame so they can wipe clean every week. Here are the new charts for the summer… plus, the morning devotional schedule (I just hope I can be somewhat dedicated and cheerful in the mornings to pull this off.). Max gets his first chore chart. He liked the monkeys. He hugged me and thanked me for his new preschool workbook. Oh – the joys of innocent little people.

I’m not going to freak out about workbooks getting finished by summer’s end… but hopefully they’ll do 2-3 pages a day. I want them to write stories and keep their handwriting up. A major focus is reading. The kids are going to set a goal of how many pages they want to read each week… and maybe they’ll earn some new books. I also wanted the kids to set some goals… like to learn a new skill… or improve a talent. Hopefully they’ll see their progress at the end of the 11 weeks. All of those could be done during the daily quiet time (my sanity!).

My kids have not been overjoyed by all my talk of work, work, work this summer. L. Tom Perry has a motto that I wanted to focus on this summer.

… as well as this thought that Jimmy remembered as a kid from a Plumbing Company Truck in Georgia.

Ok – I can see why my kids wouldn’t be thrilled with all this talk of work. I just want them to appreciate the accomplishment that comes from doing a job quickly and well. We’ll have plenty of time for play… right tots?

Now that I sound like the meanest mom on the planet…
lovely.

I decided that I ought to read up on best ways to Train and Teach Children. I’m so glad I did. I tend to be lax for a while (’cause i just want to play) … then crack the whip and get fed up when things aren’t going as I plan (and the house is a major disaster). I was taught so many things to help me remember to lovingly nudge instead of forcing when it comes to obedience. “Follow me” and Leadership qualities of the Savior taught me how to be more gentle. It was also confirmed many times how important it is to teach children to work and find joy in accomplishment… but also to focus on building Faith and Love. I loved so many quotes that I wanted to remember so I put them in a pdf. Download ‘Train up a Child’ PDF (if anyone else is interested).

We’ll see how this summer plays out. Last summer I wanted to be out doing lots of activities in the valley (A Colorful Summer). This summer we’re limiting major outings since Tru is wanting to be independent and I don’t have energy to deal with him plus 3 others. I envision backyard play with swimming and popsicles… snow cones… walks on the river trail… sports with dad… quiet time inside reading… mellow time with the wii or movies when it’s too hot outside. Welcome… Summer 2011!

Movin’ to the Country

not that we’re going to… but if we could sell our house and actually make a penny or two… we would. And we’d move to the country and buy 5 or 10 acres. We would. Well… if we had any money to buy land. Why? Because … See that huge lawn in the lower right photo… heaven for kids (and Jimmy).

Jimmy’s friend Patti took these photos at a Seminaries and Institute Inservice day at a sheep farm in Huntsville Utah. See those mountains beyond the awesome rustic fence…. they belong to Marlin K. Jensen. How would it be to own a mountain?

Would it always be peachy to live in the country? No. I realize that. Skunks… Dogs (biggest fear for my tots)… mice… loneliness… a long driveway to shovel… long commute to the grocery store … who knows what else. But sometimes I want to have a farm house with a cool porch and hang my wash outside to dry. I want to have a few chickens… and a cow for Abe to milk… I want huge trees surrounding our property (like David O. McKay’s home pictured lower center)… I want a quieter, simpler life … well… this website put it best…

The Homestead Revival™ Mission: is a challenge for readers to get back to the basics of living closer to the land through homesteading, strengthening the family through homemaking, and building community through sharing […] to inspire women to joyfully embrace being a keeper of the home and educate the next generation in homesteading skills while encouraging them to adopt these principles as their own.”

I don’t know what I’m thinking … wanting to change our lifestyle. I’m so worn out and weary as it is… just physically managing my two youngest tots… keeping them safe… and paying barely enough attention to my oldest two. I’m not sure how I’d handle all the extra chores from living in the country with a huge garden… and canning… and sewing (all stuff I want to do deep down)… plus 5 tots. And can you imagine what trouble I’d have with dirt and such in a country farm house when I get bothered by our sandbox? sigh…

It definitely would be a lifestyle change. but perhaps …
Green acres is the place for me.
Farm livin’ is the life for me.
Land spreadin’ out so far and wide
Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.

p.s. we asked the kids if they wanted to move to the country and live on a farm. Abe said “NO.” Hannah said, “But Abe… then we could ride horses.” So now for the past few days Max randomly says, “Me wear a hat and ride a horse.” Jimmy would make a great farmer… but I don’t know if he’d go for the horse idea. We’ll give it a few years thought.

Creating

This week I sewed… well, if a few zig-zags count as sewing. I borrowed my mother’s machine and zig-zagged the circles for a quilt block for my cousin’s wedding quilt. What a DELIGHT it was to sew. Yes… it was made with LOVE not perfection… but still a fun project. I remembered that I find great delight in creating … in accomplishing a project … and seeing something come together from little pieces. I liked Elder Uchtdorf’s talk from a few years where he focused on CREATING.

I also decided I really need to just make homemade bread regularly. I can’t stand paying $3 a loaf for bread (Grandma Sycamore raised their prices!!). Plus, I need to learn to make a tasty whole wheat recipe and rotate through our wheat. Hannah loves wheat bread. I tried a new recipe and even though I was interrupted to resolve a fight between the tots… and henceforth forgot to add the honey and oil at the right time … it worked out in the end. If you’ve followed my bread experiment, you definitely know I’ve had more failure than success…. which is why I liked President Uchtdorf’s quote.

And what good is homemade bread without some sweet jam. We enjoyed the strawberry jam so much that I made last month that I wanted to make more so it would last longer than through the summer. Problem #1: we don’t have an extra freezer… so I hope it all fits. Problem #2: I combined 2 batches and I hope it sets up properly. We’ll see soon. Either way… making it was fun and only took an hour.

I had a Groupon for a Shutterfly book that expired on Wednesday so I cracked down and finished the winter pages. More than a Cozy Winter… it was a LONG, hard Winter. But there were moments of coziness amidst the sickness, pregnancy nausea, and freezing cold temps. I love putting together family memories. It puts things in perspective for me and helps me realize that we have some successes and some fun amidst the work and squabbles and frustrations.

I guess most of all, I hope I’m creating more than just STUFF for others and my kids… and I’m creating warm memories, righteous traditions, and a good example for my family.

Quaker Ducks and Pancake Bunnies

We kinda have a thing with ducks in my family – the Nelson family, that is. My Grandma Ruth Nelson was called Quaker Duck and she had lots of little duckies around her house. My mother has darling wooden ducks in her home. My kids LOVE her awesome Donald Duck talking.

Well – I’m thinking all the Quaker Ducks in the family would love these cute duckie rolls for Easter.I’m guessing you could do this with homemade roll dough as well – what think ye?

p.s. Aren’t these bunny pancakes so fun too?

Strawberrrrrrrrries!

Last week we were able to get 8 lbs of Strawberries from Bountiful Baskets ($13… eh?… good deal? okay, I suppose). Oodles of ripe strawberries to enjoy.

One of my friends brought us some rolls and homemade jam a while ago and I just loved the jam! I called her up and asked for all the details and tips. Usually when I make jam (non-cook freezer kind) it is way too runny so I feared I would ruin this batch. I didn’t let fear hold me back though. I carried on and actually met success. It was plenty thick without being gooby.I started a bit late… oh – like almost 9 p.m. I wasn’t about to make jam in a messy kitchen so the dishes came first! But – it went quickly and well. I used this low-sugar pectin.I just had to cook the sauce for a few minutes and then add the strawberries (that I finely chopped in my food processor – I love that Braun machine!). I poured it into the jars. Then let it settle and realized the last of it had little fruit and lots of sauce at the bottom of the jars. So I mixed it up again and this time stirred while I poured into the jars and it seemed to mix better (you can see that they aren’t all even with fruit/liquid… is this normal??). We let it sit for 24 hours as the recipe said. Then put it in the freezer. And you know, I quite like this jam. I was so pleased that it was a success.

Because I only used 4 lbs of strawberries, we had 4 lbs of very ripe strawberries left over which we needed to use quickly. We used some in a very tasty slush recipe … with bananas, oj, pineapple, strawberries… frozen and then later mixed with Fresca. It was so yummy… plus it was a lovely pinkish/peach color. We made some smoothies with oj, bananas, and strawberries. Such a refreshing morning type drink. And then Jimmy and I froze the rest in little baggies to put in smoothies all summer. How yummy is that! I’m so excited to have tasty strawberries that we prepared ourselves to enjoy for the rest of the year.

I’m being very long-winded about such a short topic… but I’ve just been excited to enjoy all these strawberries!

The Old Fashioned Kinda Soap

A long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away, bar soap ruled the personal care cleaning industry. Sadly, liquid soap took over and bar soap was shoved to the back of the storage cupboard. Then antibacterial foam soap ruled in the land. But – I believe it’s time for bar soap to make a come-back. My tots were having a hard time squirting the soap… and hence, were avoiding it all together. Ick!

So our new experiment is trying bar soap. The funny thing is that I had to teach the tots how to use it. Wet hands… rub on soap… lather… scrub… rinse… done. Ok, really, they just needed to know to wet hands. I showed Max the new AWESOME soap bar and he asked me to open it. He must have viewed the bar of soap as a box. Too funny!

I totally talked up the new amazing awesome soap so my kids would actually use it. I kept thinking I was so hilarious by saying how it was the old fashioned kind of soap. Hannah kept saying, “Oh, Mom!” and slightly rolling her eyes at my silliness.

I guess we’ll see how our experiment lasts. Will it scum up the sinks? I know not. I’m loving it already because I know it’s cheaper. Plus, the smell of Lever 2000 stays with your hands forever… or at least for 10 minutes. Which means my kids smell much cleaner. Hallelujah!

I can’t remember the last time I used bar soap, but I’m glad to see it’s found a place in our home. Welcome Lever. I’m excited to try the new Fresh Mandarin Orange and Grapefruit scent.

So – what kind of soap do you use? Bar soap? Liquid soap? Foam Soap?

It was very bountiful.

This week we tried Bountiful Baskets. Basically you pay $15 (sign up on Monday) and you pick up whatever fruit/veggie assortment they offer that week (pick up on Saturday). I was worried we’d get something really weird that would be a waste to us, but everything was pretty normal. The only things we hadn’t bought before were asparagus and mango. I like both, but just never think of asparagus and I never know how to pick mangos… or cut them. Here’s what we ended up with.We estimated it was about $25 worth of food, so it was a good deal.

Plus, this weekend we’ve enjoyed more fruits and veggies. Yesterday I baked some asparagus with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Even the kids ate it! For dinner we sliced the mango and the kids tried it but didn’t want to eat a lot of it. I really enjoyed it! This morning we had Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity pancakes with strawberries and bananas and mangos. And for Sunday dinner we had a great veggie salad and a great fruit salad to go with our spaghetti and bread. Overall, I’d definitely say I’d try Bountiful Baskets again. I’m hoping this summer to get some great fresh foods.

This weekend I decided we needed to have a better balance with food groups (especially for my picky children who don’t like protein!). So – we reviewed the food pyramid that was on our fridge. I am not a huge fan of this specific pyramid from Harvard. Tofu? Beans… seeds? Kids aren’t gettin’ that.

I prefer this one from mypyramid.gov though I think the vertical lines would be more confusing to kids.

Basically I think we’ll just review the word of wisdom with our kids and go that route. Anyhoo… bye-bye sugar treats and refined carbs (well… at least fewer)… and hello! more fruits, veggies, whole wheat, and healthy protein.

The Reality of Preparedness

For weeks (since our mini earthquakes started), … and particularly since the devastating earthquake in Japan, I’ve thought about the reality of being prepared. As in… what do we really need to be prepared for what is to come? If it were just Jimmy and I… things would be different… but the thought of feeling prepared to care for 4+ tots in an emergency makes me really want to do what we need to do.

For example…
It seems there are a million situations that we may deal with… earthquake during the day with everyone gone… earthquake at night… in the cold… in the extreme heat. Floods… War… Fires… etc… etc… Each situation seems different… in that we’d have different needs. In some cases all food storage, 72 hour kits, car, home could be destroyed. Would we have to walk? In some cases we could just hunker down at home and enjoy all that we had prepared.

I will spare you all my blah-blah concerns on preparation. I suppose in the end, I realize that as we follow the prophet… do our best setting up our food storage, emergency kits, pay tithing, pay off debts, care for others, that the Holy Ghost can guide us to know what we will personally need as a family. The thought of building up a spiritual reservoir has stuck in my mind. Yes, we’ll all do better in any situation with a firm foundation of Faith in Jesus Christ … as will our children.

Will I ever feel completely prepared? I hope so. Right now, I realize that food storage is certainly easier to rotate through than to restock? 72-hour kits are a twice a year major task for us. But I feel it’s important to help my tots feel more prepared. I wonder if I’m really doing all that I need to as the caretaker of these tots… to prepare them spiritually and physically for what lies ahead. It all just seems like such an on-going task… and I wonder when I’ll have a grasp on it.

I’d love to hear from you. Seriously! What have you done to help your family feel more prepared for disasters? Have you felt that peace of mind that all is set in order in the preparedness department? Share your ideas, please.

p.s.
I liked these ideas from this article: Lessons to learn from Japan’s earthquake

Link to Donate to LDS Emergency Response Charity for those needing help in Japan.

This is still our favorite song/video about being prepared. Whenever we say “Be prepared” in a conversation, I love to start singing this. In fact I thought of it twice yesterday when I talked to Abe about forgetting his water bottle that he wished he had… and also when he refused to bring a jacket because it was sunny… but ended up raining later. Be Prepared!

yes folks… it was a day

Here I sit eating 2nd dinner at 8:30 p.m. … homemade minestrone soup, french bread, and oj. 1st dinner was put on hold due to a phone call from Abe’s teacher. 1st graders pretending to fight at recess with the sun in their eyes = accidentally punching your friend in the eye and bending glasses beyond repair = not good. I don’t like dealing with these situations. May they be few and far between. Bless Abe’s heart… he rarely does things to be mean and he has an apologetic, kind, and sensitive soul. We just need to work on “Think before you act” with these boys. Thankfully he has the best teacher on the planet for him. She sees the good and praises talents and loves when poor choices are made. Lots of life lessons to learn from… and then move onward – eh, little buddy!

Since prep work on dinner started at 6:30 we ended up with some starving tots. Truman kept bringing me a raw potato which he had tried to bite. He was very sincere in his desire to eat it. Max pulled out the corn chex for a snack. Hannah and Abe each had a carrot (which was also going in the soup) and pretended to be rabbits. They had an interesting conversation about how good carrots are for your eyes. It probably occurred while they were standing 2 inches from the tv.

The funny from the day came from Abe. He was watching a movie during dinner prep and said it was called “The Privileged Child”… which really was “The Prodigal Son”. Oh, how we all laughed.

FHE happened during dinner since we were running so late. We chatted about that movie and what lessons we can learn. Don’t spend all your money on silly clothes people! Max was standing on his chair with his shirt off (soiled by his apple juice) saying loudly, “Pible, Pible. What’s a pible?” My response: “Bible, Max. It’s scriptures.” Then Max started saying loudly, “My bummy hurts.” Abe asks, “What’s a bummy?” Oh dear… such talk at the table.

The other thing that brought a smile to my face was seeing how much Truman enjoyed his soup… tomatoes, carrots, celery, potatoes, noodles, broth and all. He slurped it all up! When I was putting him to bed he let out a loud burp. He laughed and laughed. Then he kept saying, “Silly. Burp” (well… with his 1 year old pronunciation which really sounds like “See. Buh.” Too funny.

And that folks, is the end of this long day. Off to watch Forever Young with my love.