Monday, July 11, 2011



"One afternoon I watched as two-year old McKay donned a scarf and became Superman.  He flew around the house with his cape flapping behind him.  With two girls between my oldest son and McKay I had forgotten how much I enjoy this part of boyhood.  Later on when I watched him running in the back yard I thought how nice it was to have Superman back in the family again.
However, it’s one thing to have a super hero in the family and quite another to have those super skills yourself.  I’m the one who really needs them after all.  Being faster than a speeding bullet and stronger than a locomotive would definitely have its advantages.  Just think how quickly I could put the house in order.  I would love always being in the right place at the right time.  I would be there at that moment of decision, there when a little one finds her way to the street, there when a middle schooler needs a shoulder to cry on and there with the right words to say.  Imagine having the strength to patiently deal with two year old as well as teenage tantrums.  I could have the beautiful, organized home, be the fun mom, the great cook mom, the teaching mom, the supportive mom, the peaceful mom, the favorite house on the block mom, the making and keeping memories mom and that’s just the beginning.  It seems so unfair to be constrained by time and my own human weakness.  If only I could be super.
Yet, one of the problems with wanting this is that it causes me to forget my most important partner in parenting.  I find myself thinking I can, with just a little more effort, do it all myself.  The reality is I can’t do it alone and I must rely on the Lord.  When I want to do it all and painfully discover, once again, my deficiency, I am reminded that it is through His power, not my own, that I can do all things.  "Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things (Alma 26:12.)"
Sometimes I have to remind myself that God gave me these children knowing full well that I could never give them everything they need.  He knew I wouldn't be the perfect parent and that I would often fail.  He knew there would be times I would hurt their feelings and break their hearts.  Yet, I have to believe that is the way He planned it.  If I was who I want to be, that super human being that can do it all herself, I would never need Him and neither would my children.  I would never seek for the blessings of the atonement for my children and myself.  And, I would never come to know Him and the priceless gift He gave in His Son. 
Maybe there is really only one super thing I can do; that is to fly to Him.  It’s really the only way.  I will never be super, but with His grace I can more gracefully maneuver the pitfalls of temper, fatigue and frustration.  Although I’m unable to do it all, with my eyes on Him I just might get better and better at choosing “the one needful thing . . . that good part, which shall not be taken away from (me) (Luke 10:42).”
So I bid farewell to wishes for superhuman strength, unlimited energy and infinite amounts of patience. However, I’ll always hold on to one small lesson about being super that I learned from my first young Superman several years ago.
It all began quite innocently.  I was doing the laundry when Josh came in with his blanket and announced that he needed to be Superman.  I tied it around his neck and off he flew to save the world.  A few minutes later Sarah arrived with
a blanket that I tied around her neck and away she went.
It wasn't long before Josh was at my side again.  "Mom, do you want to be Supergirl?" he asked.  "Oh, I think Sarah is Supergirl," I replied trying to evade this invitation to play.  "I'm Superman!" he said proudly but, that wasn't the end of it, he pushed on.  "Sarah is Supergirl and I'm Superman.  Who can you be?"  I continued folding laundry and said, "How about I'll be Supermom."  "Oh yeah!" he said with excitement, as if he should have thought of that himself.
Sarah arrived just seconds later with two blankets for me to choose from.  I tied the bigger one around my neck, shouted "Supermom!" and off I flew.  Perhaps lumbered would be a more accurate description of the flight of a nearly nine months pregnant woman.  Anyway, for my children and me it was flight.  I flew around the house with two little super heroes holding tightly to my cape.  We stopped here and there so they could show me how to fly off the furniture.  I didn't try any of that however; Supermom does have her limits.
So who says you can't be Supermom?  The secret is so simple it’s astonishing, just like Josh's "Oh yeah!" to my suggestion of it.  We should have all figured this out long ago.  It just took the insistence of my little Superman to help me see that all it takes to be Supermom is a blanket and a willingness to leave the laundry."

Friday, July 08, 2011

An Injury and A Date Night

Today was a beautiful example of how a challenge can, in reality, be a blessing in disguise.

This morning, Grins sustained a sizeable injury to his toe.  He was wearing flip flops and standing next to the door, knocking.  When the door was opened, it met with his toe, slicing it in 2 places as a result.  A much larger injury than you would imagine given the mechanism of injury.  He cried and refused treatment for a good hour but finally, after some lunch and a chance to calm down, he consented to a gentle cleaning.  (Only after many attempts.  What finally worked was me offering a baby wipe embedded with a small teddy bear pattern - I told him the teddy bear would be kissing his 'owie'.  And magically, he allowed it!)

Interestingly, he would only allow cleaning if he could do it himself!  Most people I know are better off when they can't see the injury - they'd rather look away.  Grins, however, insisted on watching - and then doing - the cleaning himself.  He even giggled and said "The Teddy Bear's kisses really tickle!"  He especially like shooting (aka irrigating) the wound with the 'squirt gun' (a medical syringe).  Amazing how terminology is everything in an injury!

Aside from his good attitude about his injury, what made the day so special was the 'date' he and I shared as a result.  We had planned to go swimming as a family, but this plan was thwarted by Grins' new open wound. So, it was decided that Daddy would take the girls swimming, while I had the pleasure of a date with Grins (a much too rare occurrence lately!)  This proved a special treat indeed!

No sooner had the girls and The Mr. left than Grins wanted to write them "I Miss You" signs.  Then he wanted to pick some raspberries from the garden.  And then make them cards.  What a little dear!  Instead of relishing his 'alone time', he spent it in the service of his sisters!
In case you have trouble reading words in which the letters are scrambled :), Grins wrote our names and then "i miss u".  While writing, he said "I never knew I had a 'NO' in my name!"

Next, we spelled our names with dominoes.  Actually, Grins spelled while I watched.  He is SO entertaining to watch - his tongue protruding between his pursed lips while he's concentrating, and his dimples when he's proud of his work.

Then the conversation turned to his upcoming birthday, and the potential of a party to celebrate.  I asked who he'd like to invite, and I had to laugh at his responses:

"Alden, Angel, Isabelle......I have to invite Isabelle, because Angel said she will only come to my birthday party if I invite Isabelle (Isabelle is one of Angel's friends from school; Grins has only met her once!)....Chloe and Inara.  And that's 5, and I'm turning 5, so that's all." (Our family rule is you may invite as many friends as you are years old.  I was surprised he remembered this, as I've only ever discussed this with Angel.)

When I explained that he could invite anyone he wanted, and was not constrained by Angel's requests/demands, he said "OK, then I will take Isabelle off the list and add....what is the boy's name in Angel's class who wears glasses?  I want to invite him."  

It took me a moment, but I finally realized he was talking about Joseph, a special needs boy in Angel's kindergarten class.  When I asked why he chose Joseph, he said "Because he always seems sad and I think he might need friends, so I'll be his friend!"

Seriously, could this little man of mine be any sweeter?  Grins, you are such a joy and blessing in my life!  You warm my heart more than I ever dreamed possible.  It is a privilege and honor to be your mother.  This little alone time was so precious, and the perfect reminder that we ought to schedule time together more often!  We'll certainly not wait until the next injury to plan a date!!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

How does your garden grow?

I am extra busy growing things this summer!  First and most importantly, these 3 little sprouts; a little sunshine, a little food and water, and lots of hugs and kisses is all they need, and they are turning out beautifully, if I do say so myself!  Secondly, we are cultivating a garden - much improved from our last year's attempt.  If I ever get around to taking a picture, I will post it, but The Mr. has constructed a beautiful raised bed garden, complete with 2 stone/rock paths and a fence (to keep out the friendly woodchuck and raccoon who made off with some of our produce last year!)  This year, our garden boasts raspberries, squash, melon, carrots, eggplant, cucumbers, lettuce, cabbage, beans, celery, basil, chives, rosemary, sage, a few species of flowers, and several undetermined plants.

You see, much of our garden essentially grew itself this year!  For a year, we've been composting food scraps, and last month the Mr. laid the rich compost out over our garden, rototilled it into the ground, and we then left it for about a month while we waited for our little seedlings to start.  I noticed some weeds coming in, but decided I would wait to deal with them until I was ready to plant the seedlings.  Last week, when I went to plant the seedlings, I realized that most of the 'weeds' in the garden patch were actually little plants - sprouting up from our compost.  Apparently the seeds from our food scraps had not completely decomposed!  We were unsure what most of them were, so we thinned them out enough to make room for our seedlings, and left some remaining just for fun - to see what comes up.  It was a funny little surprise that helped us realize we have a lot to learn about composting and gardening.  But we are happy to be learning together as a family!

Keeping with tradition, we had our "Garden" Family Home Evening, in which we discussed the prophet's recommendation to plant a garden, sang songs about it, and, of course, topped the evening off with "Dirt Cake".  It was so cute to watch the horror on Wiggles' face as we offered her "dirt" (crushed oreos) to eat....and so tender to see the trust/faith she placed in her older siblings as they reassured her "It's OK, (Wiggles!) It's yummy! Try it!"  One bite and she was hooked.

Though I sometimes feel overwhelmed at keeping up a house and yard, most often on my own, moments like these remind me of how truly grateful I am to have a home and yard to call my own!  I'm so grateful to the Lord for all with which he has blessed our family, and to the Mr. for his tireless labor on our family's behalf!  I am one lucky woman! :)

Tuesday, July 05, 2011


One thing I forgot to mention in my previous post about our camping trip...

One evening while camping, we lay on the ground, looking up at the stars.  We asked the children what they thought might be looking down on us from the stars (hinting at Heaven, angels, etc.)  Grins immediately said, in all seriousness, "The great Kings of the past."  The Mr. and I laughed when we realized that he must be quoting the Lion King book (he's never seen the movie).

Monday, July 04, 2011

God Bless America!

While I often take it for granted, and am discouraged by the lack of morals in today's society, I am so grateful to live in the United States of America, the land of freedom and opportunity.  Yes, freedom to choose brings opposition, but there must be opposition for us to appreciate the good.  I feel truly blessed to live here, "where at least I know I'm free, and I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me..."  And this be our motto: In God Is Our Trust!

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Why I'm posting right now....

It's been ages since I posted, because I've been busy studying for my recertification exam coming up this summer.  Sunday, the one day I don't study, is usually filled with my duties and responsibilities as Young Women President, and family time.  Today, however, The Mr. just returned from an overnight shift at the hospital, and offered to read books to the children for as long as he could keep his eyes open.  When I went down to check on them a few minutes later, this is what I saw (ignore the mess please!):
(The white flower to the left of The Mr's head is Angel's hair bow.)  My entire family - asleep.  Wow! Time to blog! :)

Portland Museum of Art and McClellan House

The children try their 'serious' faces, keeping with the period.

The children 'pose' in their period clothing.
This past week, we visited the Portland Museum of Art.  While it contained some beautiful pieces, it is not likely a place we will visit again.  We were followed around as though we were criminals!  Though The Mr. and I were both there, and our children were very well behaved (walking quietly with their arms behind their backs, whispering, etc.), there was always at least one 'guard' following every move we made.  It was quite disconcerting.  And unexpected, given the fact that Angel's Kindergarten class took a field trip there earlier in the year.  Perhaps I'm just used to attending museums in Utah, where people are more accustomed to children.  Is this normal?

I was also somewhat put off by the nude sculpture in the very front of the museum.  I understand some people enjoy the 'beauty of the human body', but it is not the style of art I enjoy, and I don't appreciate it taking the 'front and center' display of a museum.

The one room we DID enjoy, however, was the "children's room" in the McClellan House.  They had some toys and nice activities for the children to enjoy, and it was a welcome reprieve from the much more rigid security of the rest of the museum!

Bradbury Mountain

With Angel out of school and The Mr. home from work for a few days, we decided to take advantage of living in such a beautiful place and actually vacation in "vacationland"!  If the rest of the East comes all the way up here every summer, we figured we would go see what all the fuss was about! :) (By the way, our camera is in the repair shop again - so enjoy my lovely cell phone shots!)

We decided to visit "Bradbury Mountain" (really, more of a hill, but it was still beautiful!)  We went up Tuesday and found that the campsite we had reserved was INCREDIBLE!  Most of the campsites were small and close together, right off the main road.  Ours, however, was down a wooded trail and was so private and secluded that we honestly felt we were the only people for miles!  It was amazing!  (I wish I'd taken a was that great!)

We set up camp, made foil dinners and then, of course, roasted marshmallows for s'mores.  I think the last time we went camping was before Wiggles was born, so at least 3 years ago.  Which essentially means the kids had never really experienced s'mores (at least that they could remember).  It was so precious to watch their eyes as they tasted the gooey goodness for the first time.  They couldn't get enough!  (By the way....behind the children is the path leading to the campground.  Behind the Mr. and I was just forest.  Can you appreciate how secluded we were? LOVE it!)

We told stories around the campfire and then cozied up in the tent.  Angel had a hard time falling asleep, because she was worried someone would "come steal our stuff since it's just out in the open, and not locked up inside."  But we finally convinced her to go to sleep when she realized we hadn't brought anything valuable anyway. :)

The next morning we had a tasty breakfast of eggs, french toast and "rocks".  Really, I had decided to try some purple potatoes for the first time, and didn't realize that they were actually a very dark purple all the way through.  When The Mr. was cooking them over the fire, Grins asked, astonished, "Dad! Why are you cooking rocks?! Do we HAVE to eat that?!"  Fortunately, it was all delicious.

When we had finished breakfast, we decided to bike up the mountain.  (Remember, it's really just a hill!)  We went over to the State Park and looked at the various routes available - and decided on the "easy" biking trail.  Unfortunately, in order to get to the "easy" trail, we had to bike for a mile on an "intermediate" trail - but we figured we could do anything for a mile!  So, with each of us on our bikes (mine without brakes) and Wiggles on The Mr's back, we set off.

I knew we were in trouble when the trail started with multiple rubber 'hurdles' (for lack of a better word) in the path.  (Apparently they are designed to prevent erosion - but they are quite difficult to get a bike over, particularly if you are a child!)  There were also lots of steep inclines, large protruding roots and stones, and even some places in which we had to climb over large boulders!  The kids kept pleading "We can't do this! Can we turn around and go home?" to which we would reassure them "Don't worry! This is the hard part!  We're almost to the easier portion of the trail, and then we will have so much fun!"  We continued up the rocky, difficult trail, which seemed to get increasingly steep and difficult as we progressed, just waiting for the blessed "Tote Road" - the 'easy' path.

Imagine our dismay when, upon arriving at the Tote Road, we realized it was not, in fact, 'easy' at all.  For the Mr, a seasoned mountain biker, it was easy.  For me, it was quite difficult and, at times, scary.  For the children, most of it was impossible and terrifying.  The Mr. and I did our best to cheer them on, helping carry their bikes over the most treacherous parts, and encouraging them to push their own bikes most of the way up.

Despite their repeated "Let's go back!" pleas, we kept reminding them that, because we were on a loop, we had actually come further than what lie ahead.  Turning back would have been more difficult.  And so we pushed on.  For much of the way, the children were very brave, even getting on their bikes for the smaller inclines with smaller roots and stones.  (There were no smooth or flat parts as we'd promised.)  At other times, we would tell stories of pioneers who climbed mountains with bare feet in the snow...which seemed to offer little in the way of relief to the kids, but kept them somewhat occupied enough to stop complaining momentarily.  

Poor Wiggles; though she was fortunate enough to be carried on the Mr.'s back, she had an incredible bumpy, "Scary!" ride for much of it, as the Mr. would often quickly ride ahead to check 'how much further' or ride back to get something we had dropped.  "Bumpy, Daddy, Scary!" she would scream, the poor dear.   The screaming must have worn her out, though, for she actually fell asleep towards the end!  We eventually came up with the idea of earning a prize if we could make it to the top.  The children suggested ice cream, and we thought that sounded like a marvelous idea!  We vowed to get them each an ice cream cone as soon as possible!  (Note: I didn't manage to get any pictures of us biking.  I could have sworn I snapped a few, but looking back over the photos, I can't find any....apparently I was too preoccupied with just getting through the adventure to bother photographing it!)

Finally, after a seeming eternity (but in reality, nearly 3 hours), we reached the summit.  We sat and enjoyed the breathtaking view.  Incredible!  And miraculously, once we reached the top, the crying and complaining immediately ceased.  The children were mesmerized by the beauty of it, and the Mr. and I could sense their feeling of accomplishment; that they had made it to the top....carrying a bike, nonetheless!  What troopers!

We stayed up at the summit as long as we possibly could, (well, until we ran out of food and water, and Wiggles needed a diaper change), not wanting to face the mountainous landscapes again.  While there, we enjoyed the local wildlife (frogs and insects), and a few rounds of hide-and-seek, forest style!  Then, already well past lunch time, and quite exhausted from the trip up, we decided to try a different route down.  The Mr. rode our bikes, one at a time, down the 'black diamond' path (I can't even imagine what a 'difficult' trail was, if the "Tote Road" was easy!), and then ran back up the hill, first for my bike, then again for the kids'.  The children and I hiked down a steep, but shorter, trail.  (Note: despite her previous concerns about people stealing things, Angel was more than willing to leave her bike unattended at the top of the mountain to avoid carrying it back down!)

We reached the bottom, glad we'd all made it safely, but not looking forward to repeating the adventure any time soon!  Surprisingly, the children had enough energy remaining to play at the playground while the Mr. and I took a moment to sit and recover. Whew!

We finally returned to our campsite and enjoyed lunch, some games, and some rest.  After dinner we made it into our tent just in time to hear a storm roll in.  What felt like small rain drops sounded like popcorn popping on our tent, and lasted all night long!  We were so grateful for a tent to keep us safe and dry!  The rain continued into the morning, but our eagle scout of a husband/father still managed to make us a nice, warm breakfast, despite the rain!  What a man!

With the rain persisting, we decided to pack up before it got worse.  The kids rode their bikes around the campground (flat, gravel roads! Delightful!) while the Mr. and I cleaned and packed.  Though it was cold and rainy, and still before lunch, we stopped for ice cream on the way home!

All in all, a delightful family vacation, and one we will always remember with fondness, how, as a family, we overcame our obstacle, and climbed that mountain together!