Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Why Worry? A Lesson Learned AND LIVED

Back in January when Mike sang a duet in church, I learned a valuable lesson...

I spent the whole Sunday morning before his performance nervous and anxious. I worried he'd hit a wrong note (like I would recognize that?), or that he'd trip and fall on the way up to the front. I worried he'd forget the words (they were in front of him), or that he'd open his mouth and nothing would come out. I worried so much (which I think contributed to my nervous laughter), that when it was over, I felt as though I'd missed the entire performance. I drove home from church that day with tears in my eyes wishing I had enjoyed the musical number. I wished that when people told me how well he had done, or how much they liked the performance that I could relate. But I couldn't.

Fortunately our friend had recorded it and I listened to that recording more times than I care to admit.

It is quite coincidental that his performance fell the week before leaving for our week-long cruise. As I woke up the Monday morning, five days before leaving, I tried to rid myself of all of the worry and anxieties about leaving our children for 8 days. I was committed to living the lesson I had learned less than 24 hours earlier from Mike's musical performance. As natural worries surfaced in the coming days, I tried to remind myself to enjoy the moment.

At the forefront of my mind was the determination to not spend the week of my cruise worrying about all the what ifs that had crossed/or would cross my mind. You know those silly things like, What if the ship sinks or the plane crashes? What if the kids are naughtier than they've ever been? What if Mike drowns? What if the ship gets delayed a week. And so on and so on.

(Yes. I am a worrier.)

When I got out of the car at the SLC airport to begin our journey to Florida, our friend Kellen's last words to me were, "Your kids will be fine." (Not that he was going to be in charge of them!?)

I can honestly say, as soon as I stepped onto the ground at the Florida airport, I didn't worry about the children, the ship or anything even once! (Cruises are obviously very good for my mental health.) OK, I do admit one exception, I did worry slightly that Mike had gotten separated from his snorkeling group when he was 20 minutes late meeting me at our assigned destination.)

I lived in the moment on that cruise the entire week! I basked in the beauty around me, embraced the opportunity that was ours, and had faith and optimism that all was well at home. I had no regrets from wasted energy or thoughts, or time spent worrying. I stepped off that ship feeling like I had enjoyed every moment, and the only regrets I had were that it and come to an end, and that I had eaten too much. (Oh and that I left my favorite navy blue Gap t-shirt on the sandy white beaches of the Bahamas.)

I tell you this experience for no other reason than to remind myself of this experience. I need to duplicate getting rid of my worries as I get on a plane on Tuesday afternoon and traipse across the world to Paris and London.

I know, I know! What in the world am I doing gallivanting off to Europe when I have five children and a husband at home? But opportunity knocked and I answered.

(I'm heading to Paris with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, then I'm going to London alone for a few days to visit dear friends and places I will always love.)

Did I learn my lesson completely from January? Hopefully once I step foot in the Paris airport, I will not give a single worry about the goings on at home. I will try not to think about whether Mike will get Joshua to a birthday party on-time on Friday, or whether Mike will remind the little boys to occasionally brush their teeth, or if they will have a fruit and/or vegetable in their pack lunches, or if he'll remember to help Joshua with his homework each afternoon.

I'm going to let the worries leave my mind as I say goodbye to Mike on Tuesday afternoon. My family and life will still be here when I return on May 8th, so I am going to make the most of everyday I am in Paris and London. Like with my cruise, I want to return knowing I basked in each moment and have no regrets of wasted energy or worries.

I won't even regret eating too much this time... French pastries, baguettes, Brie cheese, fish and chips, Battenburg cake, prawn cocktail crisps, and Flakes and Double Deckers will be consumed in bounty in the coming days.

Bon Voyage!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Easter Around Here

Our Easter was pretty simple. It started with an impromptu family devotional on my bed before heading downstairs to see what the Easter Bunny brought.

I love Easter. I love the simplicity of the holiday set around the greatest event of all time! I love our daily focus on the days leading up to Easter that reminds us of some of the most important events of Jesus Christ's life. And guess what? I also love Easter eggs and chocolate!

The Easter Bunny always came to my house as a child, and yet I made it to adulthood with an understanding and belief in the realities of the real reasons behind Easter. (Same with Santa and Christmas...It seems so many parents of my generation inherently think their should be no place for such frivolousness amid religious holidays.)

The Easter Bunny brought the traditional flip-flops, candy and a few insignificant things.
(Not sure what in the world the Easter Bunny was thinking by Ellie's flip-flops being 2 sizes too big!)

Joshua had ALL but one of his candies finished by 1pm church and Drew was caught hiding under Joshua's bed secretly consuming more candy than he should have. Megan flew a new twisty plastic flying wand directly into Joshua's face, and Ellie didn't want to share her new chalk with the boys.

Before church, Mike attempted to get a decent photo of the children. Mike was put in charge, because I ran out of patience about the time Joshua's church pants developed permanent grass stains on them. I'm sad to say that was before the photo shoot even began.
(Believe it or not, this is the most decent one!)

We finished up the Easter holiday with cousins and family over for dinner, games, horse-rides, and fun. All in all, a pretty decent day.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

One of My Favorite Days

I've written lots of anniversary posts and Mike and Tiffany posts over the years, so I wonder what more there really is to say about us that others will want to read and here.

(Here are a few of my favorites: HERE, HERE, and HERE.)

There really isn't much, except the simple words on a sign I saw the other day at a gift store. I now wish I had bought the sign, because I say those words to Mike all the time, and didn't really think others would say them too, until I saw the sign.


And I guess that's all I'll say to wrap up our anniversary post this year. Happy 17th Anniversary to us. I'm even more excited about it this year because it is on a Thursday, just like the day it was in 1997.

I'm glad that I quit trying to marry Mike off to all my friends (proof of that in my avid journal writing entries from my college years), and married him myself. I'm a pretty lucky gal.

(Most days that is. Some days that guy has far too much stubbornness for a pleasant, kind-hearted person like me.)

Actually we make a good pair, in completely different and opposite ways.

I heart Mike.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Grease Memories

When Megan was barely 2 1/2 years old, Mike and I took her to a musical production of Grease at a local high school. Megan sat still on one of our laps the entire time. Her attention never wavered. She sat mesmerized by the singing and dancing the entire time. (This was also the first time we realized she was scared of cotton candy. I had bought a big stick of it at intermission and she cried when I put it near her. Her fear of cotton candy (and ice cream trucks) continued for years.)

I digress.
Megan LOVED the high school production.

That night when we returned home, the three of us knelt down for family prayer. It was Megan's turn and her prayer included the following:

"Thank you 'Go grease lightening.'" (Which included the hand actions from the musical.)
"Thank you 'Tell me more, tell me more.'" (Which was said in a singing voice.)

Mike and I looked at each other and tried not to laugh. Obviously Megan LOVED Grease! The next day, I went to the local video store and rented Grease on VHS tape for Megan to watch. She loved it, but especially favored the two scenes she had referenced in her prayer. For the few days of our rental, I spent time fast-forwarding and rewinding these favorite scenes.

Fast forward a few months... It was time for Megan to be potty-trained before Luke came along. I give 100% credit to the movie Grease for potty-training that child. If she pee-ed in the potty, I promised her we would go to the rental store and rent it. It ended up, that I purchased the movie at the local Wal-Mart upon Megan's potty training achievements.

Megan watched that movie for months and months and months. My brother was not a fan of me allowing her to watch it...namely because while with his 2 young children and Megan at the store once, she broke into singing, "Look at me, I'm Sandra Dee 'lounging' in virginity." (She had sung that song for weeks with the absolute WRONG words and so we didn't think it too big of a deal that she sung it. Turns out she started to pick up the CORRECT words, and once she started singing about virginity, we realized it was no longer an appropriate song for a 3 year old to be singing. (Because up until that time, it had been OK?!?)

Please don't judge us.

It wasn't too long after her discovery of the correct words to the song, that we realized her days of watching Grease were numbered. The decision clincher came not too long after. By this time Megan loved the whole movie, not just the two originally favored scenes. Luke was a small baby, and I actually sat down while feeding him one afternoon and watched the movie in its entirety with Megan. Oh boy was I shocked at those scenes! Obviously most of the story-line, jokes and scenes went over 3 year old Megan's head, it was the singing and dancing she was so enamored with. But man, some of those scenes were downright crude and I couldn't believe she'd spent so many hours viewing it.

I tell you this story because the other day, Megan asked me when I thought she would be old enough to be allowed to watch Grease again. I told her, I didn't think ever! She then suggested Drew would probably love the movie as she had. I'm sure he would, (Megan and Drew are very similar in their musical appreciations.) but I told her I think our days of Grease watching are probably over. She couldn't believe that she was allowed to watch a movie as a 2 and 3 year old, but not allowed to watch it as a 15 year old.

I will admit, making the break from Grease was just as difficult for me as it was for her. Some of those songs are fun, catchy and lively and I missed hearing the music in the background that I had grown to love alongside her.

To be honest though... there's a tiny part of me that considers sitting down with just Megan and having a little Grease movie reunion.

Sometimes my mothering skills amaze me.

September 2001, Mike was taking photos of Megan in the front yard and she said, "Let's pretend I'm Sandra Dee, k-Dad?"

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Definitely Tough and Hard, But...

You've probably seen the video that went viral about the "world's toughest job." It's heartwarming to watch, and I really quite enjoyed it. I know there are also on the flip-side a lot of critics that didn't enjoy it either for a variety of reasons. I liked it for what it was--a nice, sentimental message that motherhood is hard, often thankless, and on-going. I looked at it as motherhood in general, whether one does other things away from the home or not. Motherhood still requires a mother to show up day in and day out regardless of other employment, interests, pursuits or activities.

Of course I am a big cheerleader of motherhood, and I think it deserves high praise for the often thankless hours, weeks, months and years we put into raising children. However, I sometimes cringe at the high accolades always extolled to motherhood, when there are a lot of wonderful fathers out there, and of course a fair number of shabby mothers.

There are a lot of valuable, much-needed "jobs" in the world, that could definitely be classified as "tough." There are "jobs" that I would NEVER want even if I were to be paid a high salary with fabulous benefits. I will also say, motherhood is a tough job, but the toughest? I'm not sure about that. Hard? Yes. Difficult? Yes. Tough? Yes. But putting the "est" on any of those, raises it to a level that I don't think is fair for so many reasons.

With that being said, I think the sentiments behind this video are wonderful, and there is certainly a fair amount of truth to the "job" descriptions...

Well worth the watch.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sick or Not, A Birthday Must Go On!

We were having a funny discussion last night about birthdays, and Mike declared, "Tiffany, you are not normal in this area." Megan on the other hand sided more with me about birthdays being important and that they should be a big deal. Obviously not everyone feels the same way as I do about the importance of celebrating birthdays. (Meaning, I will likely never be out of town on a child's birthday, nor will we ever not have presents and festivities to celebrate.)

That being said, you can imagine how I felt last Thursday morning, Joshua's 7th birthday, when he woke up sick. It was a sad day. I'm not sure which one of us shed more tears.
Although Joshua spent a good chunk of his day on the couch, it was interspersed with some play time, arguments with Drew, and questioning of how much longer till his party.

The football party did go on! It was too difficult to reschedule, and as it was an outside party I wasn't too concerned about the sharing of germs. (I'm a good mother like that.)
Joshua request a Green Bay Packers cake and so I put my mediocre cake skills to the test once again. One of these days, I'm going to have a beautiful, custom STORE-bought cake of the child's choosing, instead of thinking my own creations will satisfy me. However, upon Joshua seeing the finished product he declared, "Wo! That's awesome." So then again, maybe I'll skip the beautiful, custom STORE bought cakes, and provide this labor of love each birthday.

(just try to ignore the thoughts of all those sick germs being blown across the cake...)

Also to be noted, Grandpa Peter sat atop a horse for the first time in his life. He lasted mere seconds longer than my first (and last) time upon a horse 7 years ago. We're each confident in many areas of our lives, but sitting on top of a potentially moving animal is not one of those areas in which we display confidence.
(In my dad's defense of only lasting mere seconds atop the horse, he (my dad, not the horse) does have a bad cough, and I think he was concerned his cough would startle the horse. It was just as a cough was coming on that he declared he must get off. Although I think he was thankful for the cough, I don't think he would have lasted much longer on top of that thing, cough or not.)

By evening Joshua perked up and it was almost as though he hadn't been sick. Except, it didn't last too long...by Friday afternoon Joshua was back on the couch, and by Friday evening Joshua was at Insta-care being told he had Strep throat.

Like I said, I'm a good mom like that to spread Strep throat germs around children at a birthday party, and children in his classroom on Friday. Oops.

Strep or not, this boy of mine is seven, and he's pretty swell to have around.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Motherhood Realized...

It was no less exciting to open the package with the second book I'm a part of, as it was the first. Although, we have yet to make it to Baskin Robins as a family to celebrate like we did the first time around. (And believe me, one of my children keeps reminding me of that fact!)
The week of the book launch was exciting, as I've mentioned before. Motherhood Realized made it to #27 of ALL the books sold on Amazon. It fell shy of making the NYT list the first week, but still, what an accomplishment! (It still could make the list in the upcoming weeks.) It hit bookstores on April 3rd, and I'm going to make a trip to my own Costco and Barnes and Nobles soon to see it in person on a shelf.

I'll be doing a few upcoming book signings at the Costco in West Bountiful and Lehi in the coming weeks, but will miss a book signing at Kings English (darn! it's a fabulous book shop!) in May due to being out of town.
(a few of the authors in the Motherhood Realized book)
I did however love the Book Launch event the Power of Moms put on last week in SLC. It was a wonderful evening. There was so much good food for thought, but my very favorite take-away came from a recent friend and mentor, Ingrid, who gave some wise advice. "Just keep showing up each day."

Some days it seems all I do is "show up", and there are some days I not only show up, but actually perform too!

Just yesterday someone joked that I must have "most of the answers". Of course I laughed! It coincidentally coincided with a text from a wise, wise friend and mother whom I absolutely admire, expressing her frustration with some mothering difficulties of her own. I'm a firm believer that very few (if any) mothers have most of the answers. Motherhood is difficult and challenging, yet it is mixed together with such beauty and loveliness that it comes together like a magical kaleidoscope--a beautiful result made up from a little of everything.

I love that I have friends and fellow mothers to share in the experience with. Some of my best learning and encouragement come from friends and fellow mothers. Two of these dear friends shared the Book Launch evening with me. Love them!
(Dear friends, Melanie and Kari)

The friend that text me yesterday wasn't exactly asking for any advice (she surely knows I have little to give), she was simply asking for some validation and support that she is not alone. No mother is! I hope every single mother alive knows that. That's one of my favorite things about Power of Moms events...seeing mothers faces and lives light up when they realize, there is a giant support group of women that are committed to being in this motherhood thing together and helping one another along the way.

Even if some days, the advice is simply to keep "showing up." 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Not The Best Idea I've Ever Had

I thought I'd put a little more effort than usual into encouraging my children to listen to the talks during LDS Church General Conference. (One of the 2 weekends of the year we Mormons sit around and "watch church" instead of going to church.)

I got a "Candy Bowl" idea from my friend Shannon. The idea being that when the children heard words or phrases from talks, they could choose a piece of candy from a corresponding bowl. My friend used simple words (pray, family, Jesus, temple, etc.), but I opted to do fewer choices and chose things that weren't likely to come up every few seconds. (My children eat way too much sugar as it is. I'm not exactly sure why I even opted to do this "good idea" in the first place.)

Instead of the desired result I was hoping for, all it seemed to do was encourage dishonesty, exaggeration and over-eating...

It seemed every few seconds, Drew would come up to me and whisper in my ear, "I heard them say 'families are forever' or "They just said 'the Atonement of Jesus Christ.'" Apparently Drew wasn't paying close attention enough to know that the speaker had just barely stood up at the pulpit and hadn't even greeted the audience, let alone announced his topic or said the highly favored words, "Families are forever." The poor kid did eventually hear one "Atonement of Jesus Christ" phrase all by himself and you'd have thought he won the jackpot, rather than just been granted permission to eat one Mini-Egg.

Ellie on the other hand was saying such things as, "They just said the word 'man', a man is part of a family!"

Who knows if Mike was listening or not. According to his eating of Cinnamon Bears (his favorite) you would think "any story of Jesus' life" was being talked about non-stop. Mike eventually conceded that the bowls weren't a good idea either... "I don't like that you have these sitting out. I can't stop eating them."

The bowls of candy, well, what is left of them, have now been hidden. It remains to be seen whether or not the bowls will be a part of our General Conference viewing tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Ordinary

One evening in late March, Drew ran an errand with Mike over to our office. I'm not exactly sure why Drew was wearing his swimming suit, and I'm pretty sure the temperature wasn't any higher than the 60's, but nonetheless Drew went. Turns out they made an unexpected visit to The Chief (friend in the next office over), and Mike captured this beauty of Drew deep in conversation. I think I should begin a scientific study as to why Drew's little bum crack is more often than not...exposed.
Unfortunately, Mike and I are not the kind of parents to laugh at all of our children's antics. Too often we're irritated about the children's poor timing and/or lack of judgement to give into the capers of youth. It seems they always attempt their comedian acts right around bedtime, when Mike and I are not typically in easily entertainable moods. However, one particular night when Ellie stalled the bedtime routine to return downstairs to show us this hairstyle, we couldn't help but laugh.
My in-laws are great to invite my children to their house to sleep-over. Apparently, Joshua and Drew put on quite the "Pirate Show" for them.

You'd think perhaps I should let this next photo be a blog post of its own, but not this time. There's getting to be too many...Meet Packer, (as in Green Bay Packers) Luke's newest goat. Which I will take 100% responsibility for adding to the family. Hank was getting to be lonely, and Luke felt badly for him, which in turn made me feel badly for both Luke and Hank. Luke kept saying he wished Hank had a friend, and I would think, "Oh dear! How lonely for Hank not to have a friend!" and Mike would roll his eyes and say Luke has enough animals and tasks to keep him busy, and then Luke would look at me and I'd think about lonely ole Hank outside all day by himself, and so I, yes, I took Luke to get this new goat. It is actually Dudley's brother from the same litter, which of course endeared him to me even more. What?? Why oh why are goats endearing themselves to me?????????????

(Mike rolled his eyes when I told him I teared up while taking this photo of Packer and Hank meeting for the first time. Or maybe he was rolling his eyes because I was tearing up about it still hours later when telling Mike about the meeting. Roll your eyes if you must, but I see the beginning of a tender goat friendship here.)

When the stomach flu went the rounds of all seven of us last week, I tried not to mentally blame Joshua for being the first to get it and thus pass it all along to us. But then I see his sad, sick face in this photo and wonder what kind of mother was I to think it was his fault?
(Yes, we use empty ice buckets as throw up buckets around here. In fact, Ellie returned from somewhere recently and was describing the ice cream they had at the event: "It was the ice cream that you get in throw-up buckets.") 

Megan thinks she is hilarious and wanted to trick everyone into thinking this was jello in the glasses. Upon the "fool" lifting up the glass it was discovered it was nothing more than colored water and we had quite the mess to clean up.
Such is life around here.

“You need to let the little things that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you.” 


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