October 29, 2014

In The Thick Of It …

bathroomview

I never thought I would be forty-one years old and completely overwhelmed by my life with four kids. That sounds dramatic, and it is. Just bear with me because I’m hormonal and really emotional and need to put my thoughts to words.

My Hubby was talking to his mom the other day on the phone and she made a comment after hearing all that we’ve got happening something to the effect of, “Oh you are in the thick of your lives right now. I remember that time. It was crazy!”

duckpond

And that is pretty much how it is. Two high schoolers, a middle schooler, a preschooler, a Hubby, a Dragonfly,  a Church, extended family and a community have made our lives very, very full. And we wouldn’t trade it for the world. But sometimes it feels like a lot to juggle.

frontflower

What that means is every night of the week has something or multiple somethings happening. Believe me when I say that I am a huge proponent of not over scheduling a family. I wish that were our problem. It isn’t. We are just doing our lives and trying to please God. Times six.

hayfield

There are many nights when The Hubby and I laugh a little as we both plunk our worn out aging bodies on the couch after everyone has gone to bed. We need two minutes together to decompress, fill each other in on the day’s happenings, laugh at the Big Bang Theory and wonder how we got to this crazy juncture. There’s no one else I’d rather be crazy with than him!

yellowtree

What it has meant for me recently is less time doing some of the things I love, like writing here or taking endless pictures with my camera. I think over and over, I should write about that, or I need to catch that with the camera, but then when it comes to the end of the day, the energy is gone and it hasn’t happened.

sunsetathome

But feeding my family has happened. And cleaning their clothes has happened. And visiting a woman in my church who just had surgery has happened. And going to see my parents has happened. And watching my kids run races has happened. And cleaning toilets has happened.

See, so many good things are happening while we are in the thick of it.

punkinpatch

Off and on over the past two months, I have had my camera with me in the hopes that I could capture something beautiful to share on my blog. This post is an accumulation of what God has given me to work with in what I am feeling is The Most Perfect Fall Ever In Our Virginia Family History.

sunsetwoodgrove

These pictures are what I look at when I am feeling overwhelmed and tired and old. They are what remind me that God is aware of me. They are what tell me He continues to bless my life with His beauty and glory because He knows that I need a full moon or a sunset or a perfect pumpkin or a golden sunlit tree or a tiny flower or a few ducks in a pond in order to feel loved and to remember that He will always be with me. Even in the thick of it.

themoon

October 24, 2014

Help For The Reluctant Learner …

grumpylearner

That face.

That is the face he makes every day when I say, “Let’s do some learning!” Some days he lays down on the floor and kicks and screams. Other days he yells out, “I don’t want to learn! I’m nver going to Kindergarten!”

It is a struggle every single day.

One of the reasons we didn’t put Owlie in Kindergarten this year was because he is a reluctant learner. He has little to no desire to learn letters, read sight words, count to twenty or try to rhyme. It’s a little frustrating, honestly.  It’s hard to tell whether or not he is truly struggling with the learning process or just being the most stubborn five year old on the planet. Often when he finally relents and works with me, we have fun and he does great, taking pleasure in his accomplishment.

I’m putting out a call for help today. Do you have any fun ways to help small children learn? What has worked for you with your kids. Retaining information seems to be a problem for my boy. Any thoughts or tricks you have to help us would be appreciated.

October 23, 2014

The Night Time Hair Dresser …

bedhead

You can always tell when Owlie has had a very, very good night’s sleep because he’ll wake up with a new do from the Night Time Hairdresser. This morning he caught this backhawk in the shadows in his room. He couldn’t figure out why his hair was sticking up so severely. Finally he came to the conclusion that one of his stuffed puppies must have licked his hair while he was sleeping.

While he was eating breakfast I broke out the camera because I wanted to capture his new do. I got a few shots from behind, but when he saw that I was photographing him, he wasn’t pleased with me and kept hiding his head. I finally told him, “DO NOT look at me!” That did the trick! He was giggling and happy to look right at me because he knew I didn’t want him to.

Yep, I’m a smart momma! Awesome hair day!

bedhead2

October 20, 2014

What A Difference A Year Makes …

sibs

You may remember a year ago when I went off on a little rant about the High School’s Homecoming dance. If not, you can read that here.

I floated an idea for a “ComingHome” dance as a possibility to a friend who has a leadership position in our church community in Loudoun County after last year’s experience. She was in complete agreement with me that there was a need for an alternative activity for our kids who don’t want to attend the school dances because they’ve gotten so bad.

It’s been a year in the making and I am so happy to write today that this weekend my kids attended the first Mormon Homecoming Dance in our county and they had a BLAST! The dance, which started out as Coming Home, quickly earned the nick name MoHoCo. Kids at school started asking, “Are you going to MoHoCo?”.

We challenged Hannah and Chris to invite some of their school friends who don’t go to our church because we knew they would also have a great time at a dance that was, simply put, a better, cleaner environment than what the school offers. They took us up on the challenge, inviting groups of friends.

It is not an easy task for a girl to come to a dance like this because there was a dress standard that was enforced. Dresses had to go to the knee and cover the back and shoulders. Does that sound like an old fashioned standard to you? Not to me! It was completely refreshing to see so many girls in dresses that were age appropriate. I am so sick of seeing teenaged cleavage and thighs! I looked at these girls and couldn’t help but think how beautiful they were, not because they were showing off their bodies, but because we could see their true beauty! It was refreshing.

friends

One of the friends Hannah invited was our neighbor Alex. These two have been buddies since Kindergarten. He showed up completely dapper in a suit and bow tie. It was AWESOME! We had fun shooting some silly pictures in front of our house before heading over to our Bishop’s house where I helped host a dinner for thirty-five kids before the dance.

hannahalex

Chris took a darling girl from the Cross Country team to the dance. I was so impressed when her mom called us to double check on the dress standard. She had found one dress, but it didn’t meet the standard, so she found another one which was really beautiful. Chris has taught himself to hand tie a bow tie, and insisted on finding one to match her dress. Pretty cute, that kid of mine.

chrisraynavertical

He also invited two other friends from the Cross Country team. None of these kids go to our church. All of them had a fantastic time at the dance and said it was better than any school dance. Chris felt an especially great amount of pride since he was in charge of the music for the dance. He has worked for weeks to find music that is good to dance to and also has clean lyrics. Do you have any idea how hard that is to do? Several people told the DJ that it was the best music they’d heard at a dance (church or otherwise) in a long time.

chriscrew

There were about two hundred kids at the dance. I think next year it will be held in a bigger venue and more kids will come because they are going to hear how great it was from the kids that went this year. I am so relieved that my kids have a place to go with their friends for Homecoming and that they never have to step foot in a school dance again.

Yay for Mormon Homecoming! Yay for kids who have high standards! And yay that last week is over because it was one of the busiest and most stressful I have had in a long, long time.

October 9, 2014

The Inquisitive, Imaginative Knight . . .

plasma1

He is at a magical age. He loves to play with his imagination all day long. One minute he’s a ninja turning some serious moves in front of the mirror in my bedroom. The next minute he is an astronaut fighting aliens in space. He sings little songs to himself and tells funny jokes that only he gets. It is my favorite time and I am really glad that we are spending it together.

He has also started asking the really good questions. “Mom, why did got make us have feet?” “Momma, what is that pink stuff that’s keeping my eyeball in my head?” “Mommy, do you ever wish you were a koala baby so you could be inside your momma’s soft pouch?” “Mom, could Jesus make it so you aren’t allergic to dogs because then we could have a puppy?” “Mom, how do they make those little lights that make up the colored circles in the stop lights?” “Mom, I don’t have to like green “venchables” now because I will like them when I am big so I will grow, right?” Every question is so sincere and so funny.

My Mom and Dad gave him a plasma car for his birthday after he fell in love with one at our reunion in Arizona this Summer. It sat unused in the garage for a month because it was too hot out. Now that the weather has cooled off, he is on that car every single day, zooming up and down the side walks at breakneck speeds.

Big C was outside with his camera last week while Owlie was riding the plasma car, this time a rubber sword in hand because of course he was a knight on a very fast horse. I love these captured moments so much. They are a great representation of who this boy is right now: determined, with a fierce concentration and a zeal for life!

plasma

Arrgh!  He is a mighty warrior!

plasma2

And don’t forget – a complete and total rascal! He’s growing up so fast. But he still has a firm hold on my heart.

plasma3

October 7, 2014

The Best Part of Friendship …

scrabbletiles

Have you discovered what the best part of friendship is yet? I have! It is being able to meet a need for a friend. It is giving the gift of your time, compassion, service and care simply because you love someone so much!

My friend Susan is a perfect example of true friendship. She falls under the category I like to call “Need Meeter”. She senses the needs of others. But what sets her apart is that she then does something to meet those needs. She is always checking in on me, asking what she can do for me. She leaves delicious Honeycrisp apples on my doorstep because she knows I love them and have been going through a rough time. She comes to watch my kids – MY kids – at their sporting events. She lets me ramble on and on about nothing because I like to talk and she listens so intently. Just because she is wonderful that way.

A few weeks an idea popped into my head of how I could meet a need of hers and I got excited because I always feel like I am on the receiving end of her love and attention but never the opposite!

Her beautiful daughter, Christina, is leaving for to serve a mission for our church next week. I thought it might be fun to capture some pre-mission pictures for Susan and Christina. I set about pinning photo ideas and Sunday morning we headed out to yet another perfect Virginia photographic location to snap a few shots on what turned out to be the most beautiful Fall day.

I will never get tired of old barns and their crazy awesome wood.

globebarn

Or grassy fields lined with trees and fences! (That’s my kids’ cross country course, btw)

suitcasefence

Christina is going to be an amazing missionary! She’s got the feistiness of an Italian and the sweetness of a daughter of God rolled into one. I can’t wait to watch her grow as she shares God’s love with the people of Nevada.

theworld

What a treat to spend the morning with Susan and Christina! Hannie B. came along as my assistant. We are a good team. Go meet a friend’s need today – it will feel GREAT!