Friday, October 16, 2015

The Time I Couldn't Come Up With a Title

It's a good thing that I'm basically made of stone.  We've tried to teach our kids to talk nicely to each other and use kind words but that has not taken root in our youngest as well as we had hoped.  He's the first of my kids to ever say, "I hate you," and often, when he's upset, Hewitt will let me know that I'm "the worst mom."  He's also the first kid of mine to cry about going to school because, "I just want to stay with you! I love you so much!" so I take it all with a grain of salt.

Last night I didn't start dinner at home and our evening was full.  Jeremiah and Isaac went to the Bishop's Storehouse to help stock shelves and the rest of the crew and I went to pack meeting.  Scouts wasn't done until 8 and we still hadn't had dinner so I swung by the ever-so-handy Little Caesar's to pick up a pizza.  The kids were elated.

On the way home Hewitt said, "Mom, that's so nice of you to get us pizza.  Next time that I say you're the worst mom just remind me that one time you bought me a pizza for dinner."

"How about the next time you're about to call me the worst mom you stop and think of all the nice things I do for you?"

"Oh, that's a good idea!"

Clearly the thought had never occurred to him.

Monday, May 11, 2015

To Jack, On Your Eighth Birthday

Or thereabouts.

I'm going to be honest Jack, I'm not sure what to say to you.  You have changed so much in this last year that I almost wonder if I birthed twins; one of which I raised until age 7 only to be switched with the other child that I feel you've become.  Not long ago I wrote about my concern for you.  Now I feel like you are my first child to "get it."

When you come home from school you're very good about doing your homework and chores before you ask to play with friends.  You're the only child in the house who regularly wakes up to his own alarm clock and it's not unusual for me to get up in the morning to find you dressed and sitting at the table eating the breakfast you've prepared for yourself.  (Granted, it's either cereal or toast, but your older brother lies on the couch waiting to be served and your sister stays in bed until I drag her out most days.) 

You are by far my most social child.  I don't think there's a day that you don't ask to play with a friend or they ask to play with you.  Our doorbell is constantly being rung on your account.  You seem to be a good friend to the kids in the neighborhood and it was fun to see you surrounded by them at your birthday party. 

While I am grateful for it, I find it highly comical that one of your favorite people is your primary teacher, Sid.  Every time you get a hold of you father's mobile phone you start a text conversation with him.  He's been a good friend to you and I think it makes him feel pretty special to be admired by you as well.

You're a funny kid.  Your humor is generally natural and without pretense.  Often your manner is more amusing to me than anything.  You like to play it cool and nonchalant; although you may not be fooling as many as you think.

This also goes for your attitude.  You like to appear tough on the outside, but really you're a caring kid who still loves to have his back and belly scratched before going to bed at night.  When I have babies at the house I can always tell when you play with them because you love to make them laugh and smile.

This birthday was of special importance because you were able to be baptized.  Given how funny you can be - and also how differently you've behaved in the past - I've been pleasantly surprised at how seriously you took this ordinance.  At your interview with the bishop he gave a you remembrance book for your baptism.  That book was proudly displayed by you to everyone who came to our house after you received it.  You've taken the time to record memories and moments from your baptism in your book, making you the only child so far to not leave it blank.

I really, truly love you Jack.  Your crooked smile melts my heart and I love looking into your big, hazel eyes.  You are a blessing in my life and important to our family.

Happy birthday, you little stinker.
Love, Mom

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

To Isaac, On Your Twelfth Birthday

Ask any parent and they'll tell you that time seems to go by faster each year their children grow.  My theory is that we always remember the moment our child came into the world. It is so imprinted on our hearts and crystallized in our memories that it seems it could have happened only a moment ago.  It then seems impossible that twelve years have passed since you entered this life.

When I was expecting you, my aunt, Pat, told me how wonderful it was to have a baby in May, because that's when you were due.  She told of how nice it was to have a little baby in tow as the world outside was fresh with new flowers and sunlight streaming in through the window; she painted a lovely picture.  But, you see, she lives in California, not good ol' Idaho.  And then you decided to come early.  The day you were born there were giant, wet snowflakes gliding to the ground out the hospital windows.  Interestingly, there have only been a couple of your birthdays since then that haven't also brought snow.

You are one intelligent boy.  You came into this world seeing adults as your peers and have always behaved accordingly.  Consequently, many adults love you.  Over the years the primary teachers at church have commented on how well spoken you are and your future leaders tell me they can't wait to have you.  You're school teachers love you, they even negotiated a trade from fifth-grade to sixth-grade over which of them got to have you in their class.  Although you are bright and get along well with adults you have no problem making friends your own age.

A big part of your friendships has to do with your personality and sense of humor.  You and your friends share jokes and puns, create Lego structures, and build in virtual games.  You love to laugh, and up until a years or so ago, would sit at the dinner table and say, "Comedy, anyone?"  It is no coincidence that Isaac means "laughter" or "he will laugh."  We love your humor, especially when it is impromptu and witty.  Recently you have enjoyed reading Garfield comic books and then trying to include their antics in our life at home.  Just a couple of weeks ago you awarded Hewitt an invisible trophy for his gullibility.

You are an avid reader. While I was at the school for a book fair I told a friend I couldn't keep enough books in the house for you.  The school librarian happened to be nearby and interjected, "I can't keep enough books in the library for Isaac!"  Your reading level currently topped out the testing criteria, placing you at a college reading level (for the last two years.)  However high your abilities, you've been wise in the books you choose, selecting books within your maturity range.  Dad and I have suggested several books for you to read, but unless they're required for school, you prefer to choose your own material, often opting for fantasy and science fictions books.

This birthday is special for you as you will be eligible to receive the priesthood.  You've been preparing and it's gratifying as your mother to see your excitement and willingness to take on this responsibility.  You have a desire to do what is right that I hope will strengthen as you continue to progress in this life.  Dad and I are thankful that despite your intelligence you have remained teachable. You are a special young man with divine potential.  We hope that as we guide you and are here for you that you will realize who you are and what you were sent here to do.  We love you so much, Isaac.  Happy birthday.

Love, Mom & Dad

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

An Open Letter

Dear Young Man Outside of WinCo,

I still think of you from time to time.  Oh yes, though nearly eight years have passed, I remember you. 

I remember seeing you by the entrance as I approached from the parking lot.  I remember watching you try to get the attention of customers as they entered the building.  And I remember how each of them passed you by.  I remember that you looked a little rough and each time you were ignored you seemed upset, though not offended.

I remember your respectful address, "Excuse me, Miss?"  I remember considering ignoring you like the others.  But I stopped.

Maybe it was curiosity. Maybe it was pity after seeing you repeatedly ignored by your fellow man.  Either way, I stopped.  And then my lesson began.

You asked if I would like a $20 WinCo credit coin.  I'm not sure how it came to be in your possession, if you cashed a check, had returned items, I don't know.  I remember the feeling of surprise that you were offering something.  I asked you if you could use it, surely there was something inside you might need.  I remember you placing it in my hand and saying, "You can have it."  I said a quiet thank you and then you were gone.

I still wonder why you chose to give it away.  We were at a grocery store!  Surely there was something inside that you needed.  Everyone needs food!  I even asked if you could just use it for junk food; soda, donuts, jelly beans, whatever.  There had to be something that you would eat.  But you gave it away.

What you didn't know is that I was pregnant.  You didn't know that this was my third child.  You didn't know that I was staying at home while my husband worked and went to school and we were basically living on student loans.  You didn't know that weeks earlier we had been in a car accident that totaled our car.  You didn't know any of this.  How could you?

The bigger concern was what others didn't know.  They didn't know that a young man who looked different from them had something to offer.  His outstretched hand intended to give, not to receive.  They didn't know that although they ignored him he remained willing to give.  They didn't know he was going to change my life that day.

That $20 coin did more than help with groceries that day.  It taught me that all have something to offer.  And while I was the recipient that day I, too, have something to offer.  It won't always be money but I can give of myself.  I can look inward, past the outward appearance and see that there is good in others.  I can sacrifice something of mine to share with another. 

I can try to be like you.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fall Memories

I love the fall!  It is by far my favorite time of year. 

Some of my fondest memories as a child are from when my brothers and I would rake leaves under the leaning tree in the backyard.  We'd rake them into clubhouses, mimicking home blueprints, leaving entrances to and from the club and making doorways.  We'd then choose who got to president, vice-president and treasurer.  Treasurer was the best job!  Somehow we always had candy available at that time of year and whoever was treasurer got to hide the candy in their office and be the one to dole out treats.  My favorites were the monster chews; fruity flavored taffy with monsters on the wrappers.  We'd play like this for hours, and as soon as the clubhouse "walls" were no longer discernible it was time for a new floor plan.

Although we always had plenty of leaves in our yard from the several poplar trees I remember one year wanting more leaves.  Luke and I hauled a wheelbarrow over to our neighbor Mary Alice's yard.  She had so many trees!  We piled her leaves into our wheelbarrow, nabbed an apple or two off one of her fruit trees and wheeled the leaves over to our yard.  I'm not sure why we though we needed so many leaves, and neither was my mom.  She didn't seem too pleased at all the extra leaves.  (I get it now, Mom.)

We'd also take turns burying each other in the leaves.  Sometimes we'd even get a blanket, put it over ourselves and then pile the leaves on top.  No one ever stayed under the pile too long, but we each took a turn.

It was always fun to make a giant pile of leaves to run and jump into.  We'd kick the leaves and throw them high in the air and then rake them into a pile again.  Inevitably someone would jump into the leaves and then quote Linus, "Never jump into a pile of leaves with a wet sucker." We probably all took our turn doing that as well. 

I can also remember the smell of burning leaves in the air.  I don't remember if we burned ours, I don't think we did, but living in a rural community that, too, was inevitable.

I still love the smell of the air in the fall, the morning frost, the threat of snow just around the corner.  The reminder to slow down, enjoy the season while it lasts, and gather in all that needs protection. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

The One On My Mind

Its amazing to me how 4 kids from the same parents have so much in common and yet are so different.  Just when you think you have them figured out something clicks in their mind, they switch gears, and you are left to figure them out all over again.  (As our several different chore chart attempts can attest.)

I have one child who gives me a particular challenge.  Jack.  He's loving and sweet and awful and annoying and funny and a brat.  All. At. Once.  I don't want to document any particulars at this point in time in the hope that in years to come they will all be a thing of the past and I will be left with only the good memories.

The funny thing is that ever since Jack was a baby I have told him several times a day that I love him.  I tell all my kids that I love them daily, but I felt a need to repeat it multiple times a day to Jack. When he began to communicate more I made it into a little game.

"Guess what," I'd say.

He'd offer up a curious, "What?"

"I love you."

Then he'd smile and say, "I love you, too."  Jack thought it was fun for a while.  Pretty quickly he started to respond, "You love me," completely skipping over the formality of answering, "what?" 

As he's grown older I still tell him often that I love him, though we play our game less.  I did it so often that when he heard the words,  "I love you," he'd say, "I 'm tired of you telling me that.  You tell me that everyday."  He even went so far as to insert an eye-roll here and there.  Yeah, good times.

The fact is, Jack is not always well behaved.  He is impulsive, reckless and thoughtless at times. He can be mean, whiny and entitled.  He is all boy.  There are good things, don't get me wrong.  It seems, however, that the good times often come about when he's trying to dig his way out of the bad.  (We're working on it.)

I've wondered if I feet the need to tell him of my love so often as a way for me to crystallize it in my own being before dealing with whatever he may throw my direction.  I've also wondered if he needed to hear it often so that even when I may not be happy with his actions and choices at times he will have the crucial and fundamental knowledge that I love him.  I. Love. Him.

So yes, Jack may tire of hearing it, but I shall never tire of saying it. 

I love you, Jack.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Father's Day Questionnaire

Father's Day Questionnaire
Here's a fun follow-up to the Mother's Day questionnaire. This time it's all about dad!

My favorite thing to do with my dad is:
I: play video games
K: go on daddy daughter dates
J: play dot to dot
H: play jump over the log and bounce

My dad teaches me:
I: a lot
K: how to be kind
J: stuff
H: how to play rise of the robots

My dad makes the best:
I: barbecue
K: of me
J: mac'n'cheese
H: tacos

My dad is good at:
I:  everything
K: making parties
J: doing stuff
H: every game for Nintendo

My dad is as strong as :
I: 50 raccoons
K: an oxen
J: chairs
H: everything

I love my dad because:
I: he's awesome
K: he is awesome
J: he's awesome
H: he's the strongest dad in the world and can lift up our house!

There you have it.  If you ask me a 75% awesome rating is pretty darn good!