Showing posts with label Mothering. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mothering. Show all posts

19 June 2014

Teaching Apologies

I think one of the more difficult things that I have need to teach is teaching how to deal with conflict. It's not an easy thing, even for adults. Figuring out how to help my children to correct their own behavior (and why they should go to the effort), and how they ought to deal with the behavior of a sibling that's doing wrong, these are not simple things to deal with. Still, the mandate is clear:


It's got to happen. But it's not easy.

I'm pretty much always in the market for good ideas about how to make things go better. Not too long ago, I found one. Cuppacocoa has a fabulous post about how to apologize. It's well worth the time to read the whole thing, but here's the heart of her method:


I’m sorry for…
This is wrong because…

In the future, I will…
Will you forgive me?



I read it, lost it, and found it again, and in between times tried what I could remember, which was only the first two steps, and it is already making a difference in our home. Owning your mistakes is such a huge part of fixing them, and already, just that much is making a noticeable difference in the quality of apologies. But, as much as I like her formula for a good apology, I think that some of her insights into why apologizing is important and the benefits it brings to the offender are quite possibly even better. She plays out a common insincere apology scenario, and then she steps back and looks at it a bit:


You know inside, however, that the offended still feels bitter, because the apology was not sincere. And while it may seem like the offender got off easy– not even having to show proper remorse or use a sincere tone–he is actually the one who loses out the most. He not only learns a poor lesson that he can get away with lies and empty words, but does not have the opportunity to experience true reconciliation and restoration of relationships. He will probably continue inflicting similar offenses, feel less remorse than he should, and undergo less positive character change than he could have.


That's an unfortunate circumstance for the offended, but it's a serious problem for the one apologizing! So much of parenting hinges on finding ways to reach the hearts of our children, and fakey-fake apologies are a complete failure. Empty form, with no truth behind it -- just exactly what we need to avoid in all areas if we are to be successful in leading our children to Christ!




It's not the saying sorry that makes the difference - that's just the outward sign of an inward change (or mumbled compliance to get Mom off your back). It's this idea of Godly Sorrow that really makes the difference. For change to happen, you need more than just feeling sorry for yourself because you got caught and now you're in trouble. Real change, the stuff that builds character traits like courage and virtue, the real stuff grows out of sorrow for actually having done the deed. This kind of feeling can't be imposed from the outside - "Say sorry, and mean it!!" It's just not going to get the job done. It comes from understanding what the wrong did to the other person, and wishing you could undo it. And that wish leads to the determination to avoid doing the same thing in the future. And THAT is what we're aiming for when we teach our children. The process of saying, "This is wrong because _____," helps this process along more than a little!

I was pretty sure that I was forgetting something important, and I was. That third step. Planning for success next time. That's so important, to help kids know what they should do, the next time a similar situation comes up. We'll be adding that to our practice here in the next little while. And I really like the way that the blog post focuses on stating things positively:


Wrong: In the future, I won’t push.
(Right: In the future, I will keep my hands to myself.)
Wrong: In the future, I won’t take your eraser.
(Right: In the future, I will ask you if I can borrow your eraser.)


I love when I can help my kids plan and practice for success. I love the message that it sends to them that they are good kids. This was just a little hiccup, and next time it'll go better. That's an important message. YOU ARE A GOOD KID. So much tells kids just the opposite. We watch heroes on TV, and read books about Superman, Batman, and the rest, and we spend a good bit of time talking about the differences between Heroes and Bad Guys. One of those differences is that Heroes make mistakes, but they fix them. Fixing things is hard, and this sort of apology seems to offer a chance for the kids to practice and plan for being one of the Good Guys by fixing things this time, and planning how to do better next time.

I like that.




11 May 2014

Thoughts for Mother's Day

Brother Holland said the following at a BYU devotional in 1982:


For my purposes today ... I have labeled my remarks “The Inconvenient Messiah.” I wish to speak this morning of the demands of discipline and discipleship, of the responsibilities we have to face when we choose to follow Jesus Christ. In the Savior’s life and in ours, Satan counters such discipline with temptations of an easier way, with an offer of “convenient Christianity.” It is a temptation Jesus resisted, and so must we. Life was very inconvenient for him, and, unless I miss my guess, it will often be so for you and for me when we take upon us his name.


 Brother Holland then went on to read and comment on the account of the temptation of the Lord:


Then Jesus was led up of the Spirit, into the wilderness, to be with God. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, and had communed with God, he was afterwards an hungered, and was left to be tempted of the devil, And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But Jesus answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.  -JST Matthew 4:1–4

It is the temptation to be the convenient Messiah. Why do things the hard way? Why walk to the shop—or bakery? Why travel all the way home? Why deny yourself satisfaction when with ever such a slight compromise you might enjoy this much-needed nourishment? But Christ will not ask selfishly for unearned bread. ... there is no convenient Messiah. Salvation comes only through discipline and sacrifice.



Mothering is working for the Salvation of our families.

But this doctrine of it may just be one of the best-kept secrets in the Church. It's about salvation.

Think about the Plan. We'd come to earth, we'd get a body, we'd be tested, and have an opportunity to walk by faith. When given the choice between good and evil, we're here to prove to ourselves (because God knew from the beginning) that we really will choose the good.

So we have a family. We're born. We. Forget. Everything.

How terrifying is that? We come to take a test, and we're told up front that there's going to be a Veil of Forgetfulness that means that all the studying, or whatever it is you do to prepare goes away. Who agrees to that kind of thing? It sounds crazy! But not only did we agree, we shouted for joy! Why did we do that?

We knew we would have a Mother. Our own personal angel, guide, teacher, mentor, and care-giver, and her primary role -the main thing she's supposed to do- would be to nurture and to teach, so that all that important stuff that babies forget when they arrive as little bundles of cuteness and joy could be re-learned as quickly as possible.

Our world no longer values mothering, but we are to be a peculiar people. We are to buck the trend; stand out from the crowd. President Spencer W. Kimball said,


“...I beg of you, you who could and should be bearing and rearing a family: Wives, come home from the typewriter, the laundry, the nursing, come home from the factory, the cafĂ©.

“No career approaches in importance that of wife, homemaker, mother—cooking meals, washing dishes, making beds for one’s precious husband and children.

“Come home, wives, to your husbands. Make home a heaven for them. Come home wives, to your children, born and unborn. Wrap the motherly cloak about you and unembarrassed help in a major role to create the bodies for the immortal souls who anxiously wait.

“When you have fully complemented your husband in home life and borne the children, growing up full of faith, integrity, responsibility and goodness, then you have achieved your accomplishments supreme, without peer, and you will be the envy through time and eternity” (Source)


The prophets know that not every family is the same, and that some mothers labor for the salvation of their families under very trying circumstances. President Gordon B. Hinckley addressed this in the October 1983 Conference when he said:


“To you women who find it necessary to work when you would rather be at home, may I speak briefly. I know that there are many of you who find yourselves in this situation. Some of you have been abandoned and are divorced, with children to care for. Some of you are widows with dependent families. I honor you and respect you for your integrity and spirit of self-reliance. I pray that the Lord will bless you with strength and great capacity, for you need both. You have the responsibilities of both breadwinner and homemaker. I know that it is difficult. I know that it is discouraging. I pray that the Lord will bless you with a special wisdom and the remarkable talent needed to provide your children with time and companionship and love and with that special direction which only a mother can give. I pray also that he will bless you with help, unstintingly given, from family, friends, and the Church, which will lift some of the burden from your shoulders and help you in your times of extremity. ... 

“Now to others who work when it is not necessary and who, while doing so, leave children to the care of those who often are only poor substitutes, I offer a word of caution. Do not follow a practice which will bring you later regret. If the purpose of your daily employment is simply to get money for a boat or a fancy automobile or some other desirable but unnecessary thing, and in the process you lose the companionship of your children and the opportunity to rear them, you may find that you have lost the substance while grasping at the shadow” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1983, 114; or Ensign, Nov. 1983, 83).


From the Proclamation on the Family we learn that mothers are "primarily responsible for the nurture of their children." That's "it." Mothers nurture children. That's their main thing. You can say it in so few words, yet it will take a lifetime to really figure out how to do it, to know what it all means.

Sure, superficially, it's a messy job, and sometimes leaves you coated in grime its best not to consider too closely. But that's not what it's about. My husband sometimes comes home with grease smears on his shirts, or scraped up knuckles. But nobody thinks that's what his job is about; he works on radiation equipment for cancer centers. Mess is incidental; Mothering is eternal.

But Mom can't do it if she's not there. And there's so many voices saying to her that she doesn't need to be there. So terribly many things saying to women, "Never mind that homemaker stuff. Nobody does that anymore." Or sometimes it's something more along the lines of, "You need that new gadget. You deserve it; you need it. You're going to have to get a job." It's a lie. It's all lies. Our children need us. Your children need you. My children need me. And we can't swap places and expect it to work.

In the October 1942 Conference, President Heber J. Grant taught:


This divine service of motherhood can be rendered only by mothers. It may not be passed to others. Nurses cannot do it; public nurseries cannot do it; hired help cannot do it - only mother, aided as much as may be by the loving hand of father, brothers, and sisters, can give the full needed measure of watchful care.


The Lord, in His wisdom, sends us the children we need - and the ones that need us. He sends us souls that will blossom in the strengths that we have to offer, and that are able to weather our weaknesses. He sends us the children that can teach the things we need to learn, and that need to learn what we can teach. He sent my children to me, and He sent your children to you, and that was not an accident. From President Benson:

"It is a fundamental truth that the responsibilities of motherhood cannot be successfully delegated. No, not to day-care centers, not to schools, not to nurseries, not to babysitters.


Mothering is amazing. It can be easy to focus on the hard or monotonous parts of being at home, but Mothering is amazing. There is laundry and dishes and meal after meal to prepare. Scraped knees and hurt feelings, moments of anguish. But Mothering is also that little boy running across the whole backyard to give you a hug and just as fast running back to his play. Mothering is also gifts of dandelions… or bugs. My one brother used to bring Mom bugs. She didn’t like it at the time, but she smiles when she remembers now. Mothering is squeals of laughter and cozy story times on a rainy day. It’s staying up late and talking with your teen and having the Spirit feed you words she needs to hear.

Mothers' Day is hard for me. I struggled over this talk. I called my Mom and cried, and we talked about a lot of things. Among other things, we were talking about the good things that bring balance she said, "It’s not really pride, it’s just real, true, joy at seeing your children doing what they are supposed to be doing. It’s hard and it’s difficult, but the balance is there. They say that there must be opposition in all things, and the joy is there. It makes the worry and the all the agonizing melt away. You forget it. It’s hard right now, because it’s here and its present and its right in your face. But when it’s done, and things get straightened out, it will all melt away, and it won’t matter. And you’ll look back and it will be ok. It won’t hurt. You’ll remember, and draw on it to help other people that’s good too." Mom talked about how it's not really very surprising that things get hard, because the joy in Mothering is immense.

When I read the story of Jacob and Esau, I am amazed that Esau would sell his birthright for no more than a single meal. He did not understand the value of the Priesthood. In our day, many voices seek to put a mess of pottage into attractive packaging, all the while running down the value of Mothering. But no matter how beautiful the bowl, pottage is still pottage. Mothering is about salvation.

I've seen, time and time again, feminists and others try to convince women that something else, anything else, is more important than being at home. They're wrong. One summer I sat in my grandma's living room, and we talked about feminists. Grandma was born in 1927, and she was in her late 70s when we talked. She lived through some amazing history. She married my Grandpa in 1950, and they lived 38 years together. He died in 1988, and she went on another quarter century, looking forward to the reunion. She saw the rise of feminism first hand. This is what she told me:


Feminists should have stopped with the vote.


The more I think about it, the more profoundly right I think she was. All this "equality" stuff has lead women to trade something precious - partnership with God Himself - for a mess of pottage. A bit of alphabet soup after your name, that a corner office, the latest toys, they hardly compare. The personal development you might find in the workforce can't possibly hold a candle to what He would teach you in the walls of your own home.

Is it hard? Heck yeah! It's really hard! But, did you expect salvation to be convenient? Have the prophets said it would be easy? Do you even want it to be easy? In the words of the poet:


Good timber does not grow in ease.
The stronger wind, the tougher trees,
The farther sky, the greater length,
The more the storm, the more the strength,
By sun and cold, by rain and snows,
In tree or man, good timber grows.
-Douglas Mallock



I want to finish with a final quote, from President Joseph F. Smith:


To do well those things which God ordained to be the common lot of all man-kind, is the truest greatness. To be a successful father or a successful mother is greater than to be a successful general or a successful statesman. ... We should never be discouraged in those daily tasks which God has ordained to the common lot of man. ... Let us not be trying to substitute an artificial life for the true one."
(Her Blessing - Her Calling; BYU Speeches)



There’s hope and there’s beauty, and joy. There’s sunshine and shadow, like there is with anything else, but the whole experienced is magnified and deepened by the love that you feel. Love that is strong when you first hold them in your arms, but grows and deepens as you serve. And you do your best, and you lean on the Lord, and He makes you more than you are on your own. He gives you the love to overcome the fear, and the strength to keep going through the sleepless nights, and the eyes to see the joy when all seems dark.

Mothering is partnering with God in the work of Salvation, and there is nothing that is more important than that.

21 February 2014

Educating Women (Part 1)

It always surprises me that this whole "educating women" thing is still an issue. And then I read a blog post like this. And I realize that maybe it's not as settled as it seems.

The post takes issue with an article called, "The Fork in the Road: Graduate School or Motherhood?" in a BYU publication for women. Now, I'm not a BYU fan, and when I say that I don't mean that I don't follow BYU sports, I mean that I think that BYU -specifically their honor code- does some things that are fostering doctrinally unsound attitudes in their students, and then it exports those doctrinally unsound ideas to the rest of the US, and very likely the world, when the graduates leave. I actually think that these unsound ideas contribute significantly to the stereotypically unpleasant "Utah Mormon" that you hear about from time to time. So I'm cool with taking aim at BYU. However, in this case, I don't think it's just.

Here's the issue the blogger has with Fork in the Road:



The author points out that “decisions to pursue education, career, and family are very personal to each woman,” and that it’s important not to judge women for pursuing a career. She then lists reasons why women might want to pursue a career:  a family may not be able to live on one income, a woman may become a single mother, or a husband may lose his ability to work.
 
What about the woman who pursues a career because that is her “individual path” that she has carefully chosen?


Now, I don't see it. Sure, the reasons explicitly stated leave out the "individual path" option, but I think that if you read the article closely, the most likely reason why the author chose graduate school was either (a) she also had a struggle with infertility going on that she chose not to share with the reader, or (b) it was her... carefully chosen individual path. After reading and re-reading the article, I actually suspect the latter. So far, there's really not much to write about here. But the blogger continues:


I would like love to see more support for women who are completing graduate programs and pursuing careers, not just as a plan B. Pretending that the only possible reason a woman would want a career is as a backup is dangerous because it alienates those who are pursuing a career for other reasons. Doing so implies that such women are selfish and perpetuates a culture that tells women, “be whatever you want to be, as long as it fits within the bounds of what I think you should be.”


And this, I will address, because I am an advocate of careers as Plan B. But not because I have any desire to force people into "bounds" that I set. I advocate it because it is what I believe is being an at-home mom is the thing most likely to make the largest number of women happy. And that belief grows out of my understanding of the doctrines of the religion that I share with this blogger.

So. What is the doctrine on the matter? There's two topics here: education, and Mothering.

Mothering first. What is the doctrine of the Church on Mothering? I blogged about it some a few weeks ago. I'll give you a hint: Mothering isn't about the goo that's sometimes on my shirt, any more than my husband's work with cancer treatment equipment is about the grease that is sometimes on his hands. For some reason, this seems to be harder to see with the decision to be a SAHM than it is with other lines of work. But Mothering isn't about the mess or the housework. You have to look deeper than that to see the essence of Motherhood. President Grant had to say this about it, in a First Presidency Message, in Conference:


The Lord has told us that it is the duty of every husband and wife to obey the command given to Adam to multiply and replenish the earth... Thus every husband and wife should become a father and mother in Israel to children born under the holy, eternal covenant.

By bringing these choice spirits to earth, each father and each mother assume towards the tabernacled spirit and towards the Lord Himself by having taken advantage of the opportunity He offered, an obligation of the most sacred kind, because the fate of that spirit in the eternities to come, the blessing or punishments which shall await it in the hereafter, depend, in great part, upon the care, the teachings, the training which the parents shall give to that spirit.

No parent can escape that obligation and that responsibility, and for the proper meeting thereof, the Lord will hold us to a strict accountability. No loftier duty than this can be assumed by mortals.

Motherhood thus becomes a holy calling, a sacred dedication for carrying out the Lord's plans, a consecration of devotion to the uprearing and fostering, the nurturing in body, mind, and spirit, of those who kept their first estate and who come to this earth for their second estate "to see fi they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them (Abr. 3:25)." To lead them to keep their second estate is the work of motherhood and "they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever (Abr. 3:26)."

This divine service of motherhood can be rendered only by mothers. It may not be passed to others. Nurses cannot do it; public nurseries cannot do it; hired help cannot do it - only mother, aided as much as may be by the loving hand of father, brothers, and sisters, can give the full needed measure of watchful care.

The mother that entrusts her child to the care of others, that she may do non-motherly work, whether for gold, for fame, or for civic service, should remember that "a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame (Prov. 29:15). In our day the Lord has said that unless parents teach their children the doctrines of the Church "the sin be upon the heads of the parents (D&C 68:25)."

Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels. To you mothers in Israel we say God bless and protect you, and give you the strength and courage, the faith and knowledge, the holy love and consecration to duty, that shall enable you to fill to the fullest measure the sacred calling which is yours. To you mothers and mothers-to-be we say: Be chaste, keep pure, live righteously, that your posterity to the last generation may call you blessed.

-President Heber J. Grant, Message of the First Presidency, General Conference, Oct. 1942 (Emphasis added.)



So, the first and most important reason that I encourage women to be an at-home Mom is because it's really really important. I believe that it really is the highest, holiest service women can do. It's not a crumpled second, left over after men got the good careers; it's the best, most significant thing that a woman can do. We get to partner with God in His work.


For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. -Moses 1:39


His Work is grand and marvelous, and almost beyond the comprehension of man, He allows parents, and especially mothers to play a critical role! One that the Prophets have repeatedly warned cannot be delegated. They have warned that to do it correctly, Mom needs to be home. And not just when the kids are babies. Mom needs to be home. Children need their mother - and women need what the process of Mothering will do for and to them.

Two years after he became the prophet, Ezra Taft Benson gave a talk entitled, "To the Mothers in Zion" which emphasized the eternal significance of Mothering. There is a lot of good stuff in this talk, including the following:



Young mothers and fathers, with all my heart I counsel you not to postpone having your children, being co-creators with our Father in heaven.  Do not use the reasoning of the world, such as, "We'll wait until we can better afford having children, until we are more secure, until John has completed his education, until he has a better paying job, until we have a larger home, until we've obtained a few of the material conveniences," and on and on.

This is the reasoning of the world and is not pleasing in the sight of God. Mothers who enjoy good health, have your children and have them early. And, husbands, always be considerate of your wives in the bearing children.

 Do not curtail the number of your children for personal or selfish reasons. Material possessions, social convenience, and so-called professional advantages are nothing compared to a righteous posterity. In the eternal perspective, children--not possessions, not position, not prestige--are our greatest jewels.

 Brigham Young emphasized: "There are multitudes of pure and holy spirits waiting to take tabernacles, now what is our duty?--To prepare tabernacles for them; to take a course that will not tend to drive those spirits into the families of the wicked, where they will be trained in wickedness, debauchery, and every species of crime. It is the duty of every righteous man and woman to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can" (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 197).  Yes, blessed is the husband and wife who have a family of children. The deepest joys and blessings in life are associated with family, parenthood, and sacrifice. To have those sweet spirits come into the home is worth practically any sacrifice.


President Benson goes on to acknowledge the struggles of those who wish for children, but cannot have them, and then he says this:



The Lord clearly defined the roles of mothers and fathers in providing for and rearing a righteous posterity. In the beginning, Adam--not Eve--was instructed to earn the bread by the sweat of his brow. Contrary to conventional wisdom, a mother's calling is in the home, not in the market place. Again, in the Doctrine and Covenants, we read: "Women have claim on their husbands for their maintenance, until their husbands are taken" (D&C 83:2). This is the divine right of a wife and mother. She cares for and nourishes her children at home. Her husband earns the living for the family, which makes this nourishing possible. With that claim on their husbands for their financial support, the counsel of the Church has always been for mothers to spend their full time in the home in rearing and caring for their children.(Emphasis added.)


While it is the norm for girls to be encouraged to select a career, and even within the Church I have heard girls encouraged to look for their life's work outside the home, this is clearly not in step with either the scriptures or the teachings of the modern prophets. I think, too, that it is telling, the way that women talk about their lives. When you ask a woman who stays home what she does, she'll usually tell you some variant on, "I'm a stay-at-home Mom," but if you talk to women who work outside the home, even part time, they will usually tell you, "I am a nurse." "I am a teacher." "I do payroll and taxes part time for Bob's Heating." "I work a few hours a week at the craft store." It is very unusual for a working woman to mention that she is a mom when you ask what she does. The role of mother, though it is undoubtedly the more significant, gets very little consideration.

Whenever possible, the challenges and joys of full-time Mothering should be Plan A. Being a city planner or a therapist or an engineer can never hope to compare. To many listen to the feminists and other voices that encourage us to exchange our birthright for a lousy mess of pottage. Too many recoil at the foolishness of Esau's decision, and yet do the very same thing. A career is, and should be, Plan B. Mothering is the work of salvation; no career can hold a candle to that. Pretending otherwise is dangerous because it endangers souls. It pretends that following the prophet and not following the prophet are equally valid choices, and that is certainly not the case.

Which is definitely not to say don't be educated, but that's a post for another day.

16 February 2014

A Day in the Life

I wrote this last Tuesday, when my kids were sick. This week, they're much better.


7:10am: wake up to Tigress screaming and rubbing her ear. Give her some medicine, massage the area like my pediatrician showed me to try to drain some pressure off. She's really sad. Snuggle. Pat. Change her diaper. Still pretty sad. Snuggle. A drink of water finally helps. It takes her a loooong time to go back to sleep. I'm tired. But at least Dragon has been ok. He was up until after 1am, coughing till he puked. It took forever to get that cough to settle down so he could rest. She finally goes back to sleep about 7:45, and I do too.

8:05: she wasn't as asleep as I thought, and she's fussy again. I'm beginning to be concerned that she's not going to let me sleep anymore. This is not a very nice beginning to my day. 

8:15: We head down to my big chair for more snuggles. I don't want her to wake the boys yet, but I'm running low on ideas to help her sleep some more. 

10:30: The Daddy was really nice to me, and let me sleep, but all good things must end. Dragon just woke up, and he's hot, coughing, and miserable. (He and Tigress were diagnosed with bronchiolitis yesterday. My little girl also has an ear infection.) The Daddy gives snuggles, and I grab medicine. First, the ibuprofen and an antibiotic, and then they both get a breathing treatment. Dragon starts to refuse his, but when I let him pour the medicine in the cup & turn on the machine, it's good. Tigress, though, cries through the whole thing. By 11:00 we're done, and I'm wondering how to find 10-15 minutes to do a little yoga, and thinking about what I want to put on Hero's list for school. I make a list, but it feels like I'm forgetting something. 



11:40: I'm partway through my yoga. Tigress started out playing with my yoga strap. Then I tried her in the high chair. Clingy as she is, I didn't think it would work, but it did. For a few minutes, anyway.


Dragon doesn't want breakfast, in spite of his assertion yesterday, "I'll be hungry tomorrow." But he does consent to eat a clementine. When that's gone he surprises me, and asks for an orange creamsicle. I don't have any. Happily, I do have some creamsicle ice cream. At this point, he's hardly eaten in 2 days, and part of what he had, he puked up last night, so calories in the boy is good in my book. I'll worry about sound nutrition later. I give him ice cream. For breakfast. He's pleased. 



Hero and the Daddy head to the basement for their workout. It's nice to hear the sound of their conversation floating up the stairs. 
 
1:00pm: I'm still not dressed, but there's a fair amount accomplished. Hero chose history first today, and so we read about the Spanish Armada. This is (finally!) the last chapter of our Middle Ages book. In the process of  discussing this, we talk about slave trade, and touch on the way that this battle opens up more religious freedom, globally. I've studied the Spanish Armada before, but this time it's obvious to me that part of what's going on here is the hand Providence is reaching out to set up the sort of circumstances necessary for the Restoration, and we talk about that a little. Hero colors a picture of a Spanish Galleon for his history notebook, and copys the first couple sentences of his narration into his book. He's getting better at writing, but his narrations are still longer than his endurance, so I'll finish it off in a little while. Dragon has finished up his turn on the computer, and he asks me, "Can I eat something, Mom?" Music to my ears! I drop everything and find him some food. He's only picking at it, but something is better than nothing. He's looking a lot better than he was when I woke up. Tigress is pretty grumpy and clingy still, but has had some time on the floor, playing pretty happily. I get the boys a glass of milk, and wonder if I can get enough dishes into the dishwasher to get some clean sippy cups. I'm getting seriously behind on my dishes. And I've noticed that the bathroom smells faintly of puke. I must have missed some when I was cleaning up last night. 1am isn't the best time for a good job, but I can think of one or two things I'd rather be doing, than re-cleaning a puked-in bathroom. Ugh. At least everyone is reasonable cheerful right now. I like that. Maybe I can score a shower.

2:10: The Daddy's appointment for work today fell through. This is both good and bad. Good because we always love the days he can be at home, and this kind is especially nice because he doesn't have as much paperwork to do. But it's also bad, because it means that his hours this week won't be as nice, and that makes the boss grumpy. But, with him home, I get a shower (yay!) and get dressed, without having a sad baby. That's awesome. The kids ate some more, and he and Hero head out to the garage to work on a project out there. It's not on our list for today, but he'll be learning all sorts of skills while he's working with his Daddy. Very useful. I've learned to roll with it when cool opportunities come up. He can do some of the other stuff later.

Tigress took a tumble a few minutes ago, so I of course snuggled her. It's about nap time anyway, and she fell asleep. Oops. It's time for her nebulizer. She can have it when she wakes up; a nap is at least as important, and there's no way she'll sleep through the noise. Dragon wants to watch an Iron Man movie. Suddenly, I have time to do some dishes. I also throw in a load of wash, though I forget that Dragon's Avengers bedding needs to be washed, and I put in just whatever was by the washer.



2:45: I've  been listening to my Japanese lesson (I use JapanesePod101) and working on the dishes. The dishwasher is just about filled (but not quite), when I hear a Sad Baby. I grab her and put the last few things in and start it, since I know if I wait, I'll forget it until I start looking for clean dishes. That doesn't take long, and I'm ready to do the nebulizer. This time, she's good with doing it, so it's much more pleasant for us both. I've accidentally brought an extra mask to the couch, and Dragon amuses himself dissembling it. Then he puts it back together, which he's pretty excited about. I realize that Tigress has fallen back to sleep while she's been breathing. Hopefully she'll stay that way. She needs it. When she's done, Dragon breathes too. Meanwhile, Hero pops in to grab his gloves, because it's chilly outside. I wish I could get out to see how their project is going, and get some pictures, but it's not going to happen. 

6:00: Hero has just about finished off the basics of his book work, which is all we're going to do today. He finished coloring a Spanish Galleon for his history notebook. We discussed doing the crystal growing kit he has, but decided that would be better done first thing tomorrow, so he'll have all day to observe it. He did his scripture box, and wrote a little in his journal. A little free reading will round out his day, as far as school goes. 

The little kids are all worn out. Dragon rolled himself into a blanket and fell asleep on my chair. Tigress fell asleep on my lap while I was on the phone. I want to do Speedscrap tonight at DSP, but I don't know that it will happen, as miserable as my little ones are. 

7:00: Dinner is cooking. Scrambled eggs with some veggie mix-ins. I thought about doing some more Japanese, then decided to listen to the next lesson from the Great Debate course that my sister and her husband gave me for Christmas a year ago (it's awesome; wait for a sale). I've been doing it pretty slowly, since I've done a lot of reading with it, and it's also difficult to find large chunks of time to listen to the lectures. But it's a fantastic course, even if I am progressing very slowly. 

7:50: Dinner is over. I'm ignoring the dishes. Hero found You Wouldn't Want to be a Viking in a pile of books his sister pulled off the shelf and settled in to read it for a few minutes. Dragon wants to snuggle, but after a few minutes, he asks to watch some Avengers cartoons. The baby's asleep on my lap, and I take her with me for some one-handed Photoshopping and the Speedscrap chat. I'm a little slow, but it's all good. 

8:40: I've found the picture I want to work with, and in the process learned a bit about my photography, which actually happens pretty regularly with Speedscraps; that's one of the reasons I like to do it. I start my editing, and Dragon comes in. "I want to huggle you!" He looks so forlorn. I say goodbye, save, and go snuggle some more. And watch Avengers. 

9:10: Avengers are done, and we send Hero to shower. After that, it's family scriptures. Tigress has had it, and we don't read much, only 7 verses. They're good ones, though. 
 

22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you. (Mosiah 2:22)



9:45: The Daddy brings the nebulizer out. Dragon doesn't want it, but I tell him I'm going to make him his very own cloud to breathe. And we sing silly songs. It shouldn't, but it feels like a lot of effort. But it works. I'm glad when it's Tigress's turn and she just sits, not quite asleep. Dragon runs off and asks the Daddy for a snack and a drink. Then we all head upstairs for bedtime. 

11:10: Teeth are brushed, prayers are said. I have the phone read to Dragon because my voice is threatening to quit. Hero reads his own tonight. Both of them fall asleep quickly. 

11:30: I take my sleeping baby downstairs with me, figuring that there's no way she'll let me park her just yet. The Daddy is on his computer, and I spend a few minutes on mine before I decide not to be stupid and go to bed on time tonight. 

12:05am: I can't find my jammie pants. And Dragon is breathing badly. He's hot. Find the thermometer; 103 again. Drat. He's not very pleased when I try to slip him a little Tylenol without waking him up. Sometimes that works, but not this time. I wonder why he resists taking stuff more when he's really sick. 

12:15: Dragon throws up. We help him into the shower. I feel bad for the Daddy, because Tigress wants only 1 thing: me. And I'm helping Dragon shower and changing his bed, and I need two hands. 

12:45: Dragon is back asleep, but Tigress is still fussing. But I found my jammies, so I don't have to sleep in jeans. That's nice. So is a washer and dryer. I'm going to have clean bedding ready for my little son, and that's a blessing. 

1:10: The baby is still sad. I've tried a bunch of things, and it's not working. Now I grab a squeezy-pack, and she sucks it down. Wants to play with the empty package. Fine. I put the lid back on and let her play till she falls asleep. But wakes back up when I try to lay her down and turn off the last few lights. I try more food; she scarfs it. I guess the poor thing finally got hungry. Neither one of my sickies has been eating much. Still not ready to sleep, though. We try some water next; she likes it. Falls asleep drinking. I hope she gets some "feed me" words or signs soon. Words are a wonderful thing. 

1:45: She's finally asleep enough that I dare trying to put her down. I'm tired. This time, she's finally really asleep, and that means I can sleep too. I check Dragon again (I can't not and still sleep), and I get some rest too.



P.S. I'm so glad you stopped by to read about the adventures at our house! If you want more, "Like" my blog on Facebook to get posts (and the articles n things I wish I had time to blog about) in your feed. Wanna see all the projects and ideas that I may or may not get around to? Follow me on Pinterest. Thanks for stopping by!

21 January 2014

Good Trade

The local elementary school isn't far away, about one and a half blocks. Sounds pretty reasonable. Yeah. Until I checked the weather as I saw some poor kid walk past our house after school today.

-9F, with windchill. And you definitely notice the windchill getting too and from school. I remember. "Chill" doesn't even begin to cover it.

So we traded subzero walks to school for a really great conversation about the Great Law.

See, Hero was telling me how, even on "Agents of Smash," Red Hulk still says mean things, even though he's a good guy on that one. So the three of us, Hero, Dragon, and I, talked about saying mean things, and if they can be "good guys" and still say mean things all the time like Red Hulk. And in the course of the conversation I asked them what they thought the most important commandment might be. Hero had a good guess, but I ended up telling them: "Love the Lord thy God will all your heart." Then told them that Jesus had told us the second most important commandment as well, to love our neighbors. Dragon was with me that far, but at about that point is when we started getting too deep for him. But Hero was still doing great, so I kept going and told them about how "on this hang all the law and the prophets." And we talked about how all the other commandments go back to keep one or the other (or maybe both) of these two great commandments. Hero got it. Dragon got part of it. But we would never have had that conversation over lunch if I sent my boys to the school down the road.

So. The Gospel, rather than freezing cold walks.

It's a good trade.

30 December 2013

First Broken Bone

We have our first broken bone. The baby's finger got stuck in a hinge when she pulled up just as someone went through a little half-door in the library at church, and she has a tiny fracture right at the tip. Also, her fingernail popped off. And she had to have a stitch in the nail bed. It is, hands down, the worst pinch I've ever seen- more like a crush. 


She's a tough cookie. She had plenty to say about it while they were working on her at the ER yesterday afternoon, but when it was done she took a nap and woke up all smiles. 


15 December 2013

Women in the Church

I got asked about women and the priesthood. Women, Mothering, feminism, priesthood... it's a huge topic, at least potentially.

The initial question was generated by a feminist's article. She saw that a number of her friends in "the cause" were calling for the Church to ordain women, and wondered if she ought to jump on the bandwagon, even though in 20 years of "committed feminism" this had never bothered her. 

Now, normally, I link to stuff that generates posts like this one. I'm not going to this time. I'm not linking because I think feminism is nasty, insidious stuff. It takes the actions of a relatively few men, and holds them up as examples of why ALL men are rotten. It devalues Mothering. It sends rotten messages to boys about not only the men in their lives, but also the men they will become. It teaches girls to look for offenses where they may or may not exist. And, in cases like this, where feminists "take on" the Church, it introduces seeds of doubt, and those seeds, when grown, bear bitter, destructive fruit. I'm not linking to that, but since I've been asked, I will share a few thoughts on women in the Church.

This has been a tough topic for me in the past. When I was 13 or 14 I remember really grilling one of my Sunday School teachers about it. "Why can't women have the priesthood?" I was a bit put off by that, at that time, and suspect I was somewhat belligerent. OK, knowing myself, I was probably more than a bit belligerent. I remember that I made him sweat a bit, which I regretted even then, but I also remember that I really, truly, wanted to understand. He told me that women get to be mothers, and I went away entirely unsatisfied. I didn't understand any more at the end than I did at the outset.

He was right.

The doctrine of Mothering is beautiful and profound. The privilege of Mothering is awe-inspiring. The experience of Mothering is like nothing else. Nothing else has challenged me, taught me, given me opportunity to serve, frustrated me, thrilled me, or made me grow like Mothering does. Nothing else even comes close. It's amazing stuff.

But the doctrine of it may just be one of the best-kept secrets in the Church. And that's what I was missing the day that my teacher told me, "Women get to be mothers."

It's knowing the importance of what I'm doing that keeps me going through the puke and the tantrums and the poop. It sustains me through the sleepless nights and the days when nothing goes right and I can't get "anything" accomplished. It puts the snot on my shirt in the proper perspective, so that I can see that it's not about the snot; it's not about the mess.

It's about salvation.

Think about the Plan. We'd come to earth, we'd get a body, we'd be tested, and have an opportunity to walk by faith. When given the choice between good and evil, we're here to prove to ourselves (because God knew from the beginning) that we really will choose the good.

So we have a family. We're born. We. Forget. Everything.

How terrifying is that? We come to take a test, and we're told up front that there's going to be a Veil of Forgetfulness that means that all the studying, or whatever it is you do to prepare goes away. Who agrees to that kind of thing? It sounds crazy! But not only did we agree, we shouted for joy! Why did we do that?

We knew we would have a Mother. Our own personal angel, guide, teacher, mentor, and care-giver, and her primary role -the main thing she's supposed to do- would be to nurture and to teach, so that all that important stuff that babies forget when they arrive as little bundles of cuteness and joy could be re-learned as quickly as possible. (Dads are awesome too, and I know that, but this post is about Mothering.)


Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.
-The Proclamation on the Family


That's "it." Mothers nurture children. That's their main thing. You can say it in so few words, yet it will take a lifetime to really figure out how to do it, to know what it all means.

Sure, superficially, it's a messy job, and sometimes leaves you coated in grime its best not to consider too closely. But that's not what it's about. My husband sometimes comes home with grease smears on his shirts, or scraped up knuckles. But nobody thinks that's what his job is about; he works on radiation equipment for cancer centers. The mess is incidental. Mothering is about the Message.


For unto us a child is born
Unto us a son is given
and the government
Shall be upon His shoulder;

and his name shall be called
Wonderful, councilor
the Mighty God,

the Everlasting Father
the Prince of Peace
-The Messiah



But Mom can't do it if she's not there. And there's so many voices saying to her that she doesn't need to be there. So terribly many things saying to women, "Never mind that home and family stuff. It's beneath you." Or sometimes it's something more along the lines of, "You need that new _________. You're going to have to get a job." It's a lie. It's all lies. Our children need us. Your children need you. My children need me. And we can't swap places and expect it to work.


This divine service of motherhood can be rendered only by mothers. It may not be passed to others. Nurses cannot do it; public nurseries cannot do it; hired help cannot do it - only mother, aided as much as may be by the loving hand of father, brothers, and sisters, can give the full needed measure of watchful care.
-Heber J. Grant, October Conference 1942




The Lord, in His wisdom, sends us the children we need - and the ones that need us. He sends us souls that will blossom in the strengths that we have to offer, and that are able to weather our weaknesses. He sends us the children that can teach the things we need to learn, and that need to learn what we can teach. He sent my children to me, and He sent your children to you, and that was not an accident.


"It is a fundamental truth that the responsibilities of motherhood cannot be successfully delegated. No, not to day-care centers, not to schools, not to nurseries, not to babysitters.
Ezra Taft Benson, October Conference 1981



You know how you always hear that it's the teacher that learns the most? Mothering is teaching. You teach them to walk and talk, to tie shoes and ride bikes. You teach them to work and play and to feed the dog and be nice to people -- and that's just the little stuff. Moms teach about God and the meaning of life, and the Gospel.

Mothering is about salvation.


There’s not a higher good than motherhood and fatherhood and marriage. There is no superior career and no amount of money, authority, or public acclaim that can exceed the ultimate rewards of family.
-- D. Todd Christofferson,  October Conference 2013



I've seen, time and time again, feminists try to convince women that something else, anything else, is more important than being at home. They're wrong. One summer I sat in my grandma's living room, and we talked about feminists. Grandma was born in 1927, and she was in her late 70s or 80s when we talked. She lived through some amazing history. She married my Grandpa in 1950, and they lived 38 years together. He died in 1988, and she went on another quarter century, looking forward to the reunion. She saw the rise of feminism first hand. This is what she told me:



Feminists should have stopped with the vote.


The more I think about it, the more profoundly right I think she was. All this "equality" stuff has lead women to trade something precious - partnership with God Himself - for a mess of pottage. A bit of alphabet soup after your name hardly compares. The personal development you might find in the workforce can't possibly hold a candle to what He would teach you in the walls of your own home.

Is it hard? Heck yeah! It's really hard! But, did you expect salvation to be easy? Do you even want it to be easy?



Good timber does not grow in ease.
The stronger wind, the tougher trees,
The farther sky, the greater length,
The more the storm, the more the strength,
By sun and cold, by rain and snows,
In tree or man, good timber grows.
Douglas Mallock



My Sunday School teacher told me: women get to be mothers. But it took twenty years and more for me to understand the majesty of what he was telling me. Mothering is amazing stuff. Fresh, pure souls, entrusted to my care. My job is to point them to Christ, to show them the way home. It's a hard job. The demands are constant. The rewards are amazing.

 


P.S. I'm so glad you stopped by to read about the adventures at our house! If you want more, "Like" my blog on Facebook to get posts (and the articles n things I wish I had time to blog about) in your feed. Wanna see all the projects and ideas that I may or may not get around to? Follow me on Pinterest. Thanks for stopping by!

07 November 2013

The Choices We Make

My Dragon loves to be outside. He loves to ride his bike. He loves to watch the birds, especially the crows.

He also loves to dump out baskets of toys. 

This time, he dumped out our big bin of Duplos, moments before we were supposed to go outside, and right after he and Hero finished picking them up. Mostly, Hero had picked them up. 

Now, Dragon has to do that great big job. By himself. While Hero rides his bike on the deck.




It's a hard lesson. But a good one. I'm hoping that he'll figure out that dumping the toys isn't a great idea. He's a bright kid. It shouldn't take that many times before he's a bit less into the mess. Natural consequences are good stuff.

Turns out, people have been talking about natural consequences for a good long time. Over at the Mises Institute they've got an article on natural consequences that's a bit older. They've reprinted an article from the 1800's called "On Moral Education." It's pretty good stuff. Talks about natural consequences in a way that I'd never considered:



Now in these and like cases, Nature illustrates to us in the simplest way, the true theory and practice of moral discipline. Observe, in the first place, that in bodily injuries and their penalties we have misconduct and its consequences reduced to their simplest forms. Though according to their popular acceptations, right and wrong are words scarcely applicable to actions that have none but direct bodily effects; yet whoever considers the matter will see that such actions must be as much classifiable under these heads as any other actions. Note, in the second place, the character of the punishments by which these physical transgressions are prevented. Punishments, we call them, in the absence of a better word; for they are not punishments in the literal sense. They are not artificial and unnecessary inflictions of pain; but are simply the beneficent checks to actions that are essentially at variance with bodily welfare — checks in the absence of which life would quickly be destroyed by bodily injuries. It is the peculiarity of these penalties, if we must so call them, that they are nothing more than the unavoidable consequences of the deeds which they follow; they are nothing more than the inevitable reactions entailed by the child’s actions.
 
Let it be further borne in mind that these painful reactions are proportionate to the degree in which the organic laws have been transgressed. A slight accident brings a slight pain, a more serious one, a greater pain.


So far, so good. When Tigress is exploring, I warn her, but I don't always prevent her from getting minor bumps: that's the stuff of learning, and she'll be better off for having them. Which is not to say that I let her just dive off anything! Still, she's developed the respect for the Edge of things that all babies eventually do.

It's becoming something I'm aware of in my parenting, this business of not getting in the way of natural consequence. That can be hard. Interestingly, it makes me aware of the natural consequences of my own actions. If I don't keep up on my dishes, the kitchen is nasty and unpleasant. And I don't have the things that I need for cooking, and I'm still responsible for making food appear at regular intervals. If I stay up late I suffer in the morning - and my family often suffers with me. Natural consequences don't go away. Bumps don't stop hurting. Short nights always act like short nights. Dirty rooms never are pleasant. Yelling never solves the problem, and in fact, it makes new problems to deal with.

On the other hand, natural consequences can work for us too. Kindness and patience encourages more of the same. Clean spaces are more pleasant to be in -- and they tend to be easier to keep clean too. Reading the scriptures brings peace and stability to our home.

Choice is a remarkable thing.


P.S. I'm so glad you stopped by to read about the adventures at our house! If you want more, "Like" my blog on Facebook to get posts (and the articles n things I wish I had time to blog about) in your feed. Wanna see all the projects and ideas that I may or may not get around to? Follow me on Pinterest. Thanks for stopping by!

22 May 2013

Messes

In my most honest moments, I admit it: I am a recovering slob. It's not a pretty thing. I've been working on it for years now, and it'll probably take years more to get it really fixed. It's certainly not my Mom's fault; she taught me what to do, what clean looks like, and how to get there. But it's never been something that comes naturally to me. I had to learn to see dirt. And before I did that, I had to want to see the dirt.

When we were kids, my long-suffering sister had to share a room with me. She tells a story (I don't remember it, though I don't doubt it in the least) where she asks me to get rid of a box of my junk that was sitting in the middle of the floor, and I didn't do it. She asks me a couple more times, and then eventually complains to Mom and Mom asks me about it. I told her there is no box. So Mom and I go downstairs and look at the room. And Mom shows me the box. Sitting in the middle of the room, right where my sister said it was. I like to hope that I was decent about cleaning it up, but I can't remember.

At least tonight I knew my kitchen was bad. Really bad. And I've improved enough that it was driving me crazy all.day.long. But I've got a sick two year old, and a six year old that needs to have me do school with him, and the baby just might be teething. Either that, or she's sick too. I just couldn't quite stretch so far as to get the kitchen under control, though the dishwasher did spend some time open while I made a valiant effort. But how do you do dishes when the Dragon comes and says, "I want to huggle you, Mom!" And he looks miserable and is coughing. That's been my day, for five days now. (Yes, he's been to the doctor's, and it's getting better.) I just can't do it. I can't tell him that my dishes are more important than he is. So I sit down and snuggle, and my kitchen just keeps piling up.

Life is like that sometimes. Sometimes, important things have to give way to more important things. But sometimes, it's just messy because I didn't do what I'm supposed to do. That happens too, and with bigger things than just the kitchen. Promises get made... and broken. Feelings get hurt. Duties get neglected. Life is messy stuff.

My Dragon has been learning that lately. He means to do well, and he plans to follow directions. And then he doesn't. Again. And there he is, with a mess on his hands. Unpleasant consequences. He and I have been struggling through more than a few messes the past few months. My dear, sweet son, whom I love more than I would have guessed was possible before I had kids, has a gift for locating my last nerve. And stomping it to smithereens. And then I make messes too. It's ugly. Much worse than a dirty kitchen. I realized a while back that he no longer believed that he is a good kid. I was heartbroken. He is such a good kid. I cried. What was I doing to my precious son?? I cried hard. And I begged the Lord to teach me better ways to mother my boy.

And He did. He is.

Some days, I feel like such a slow learner, but I'm getting there. The very first thing the Lord said to do was be kind. Even when Dragon is in trouble. Especially then. And that helped a lot. But the past few weeks I've been learning something about Grace. I never really understood it before. Brad Wilcox's talk, His Grace Is Sufficient, was a turning point.

I'd always understood Grace much like the girl in his story:


A BYU student once came to me and asked if we could talk. I said, “Of course. How can I help you?”
She said, “I just don’t get grace.”
I responded, “What is it that you don’t understand?”
She said, “I know I need to do my best and then Jesus does the rest, but I can’t even do my best.”
She then went on to tell me all the things she should be doing -because she’s a Mormon- that she wasn’t doing.
She continued, “I know that I have to do my part and then Jesus makes up the difference and fills the gap that stands between my part and perfection. But who fills the gap that stands between where I am now and my part?”


When I listen to this speech, everybody chuckles as he tells this. Brother Wilcox is a great story teller, and he manages to sound more than a little bit like an exasperated college girl, and it's funny. But also it's not. She's hurting because she feels like a failure. She sees the messes she makes. The problems that she should have been smart enough to avoid. The tasks left undone. And they are robbing her of hope.


Finally I said, “Jesus doesn’t make up the difference. Jesus makes all the difference. Grace is not about filling gaps. It is about filling us.”
Seeing that she was still confused, I took a piece of paper and drew two dots—one at the top representing God and one at the bottom representing us. I then said, “Go ahead. Draw the line. How much is our part? How much is Christ’s part?”
She went right to the center of the page and began to draw a line. Then, considering what we had been speaking about, she went to the bottom of the page and drew a line just above the bottom dot.
I said, “Wrong.”
She said, “I knew it was higher. I should have just drawn it, because I knew it.”


He goes on to tell her that it's wrong because it's a trick question. He's telling her that her understanding is fundamentally flawed, and she needs to see Grace in an entirely different light. I have a lot of compassion for this girl that came to see him, because I'd always understood Grace in the same way. Brother Wilcox explains that Grace isn't like that at all. Christ paid it all. Every penny. He asks for our poor efforts, not because He needs them, but because we need them. We need that process of change that comes in trying to avoid the dirt and clean up the messes. He draws a new analogy, one that works very well for me since I love to play the piano. He compares Grace to a child whose mother pays for piano lessons.


“But Brother Wilcox, don’t you realize how hard it is to practice? I’m just not very good at the piano. I hit a lot of wrong notes. It takes me forever to get it right.” Now wait. Isn’t that all part of the learning process? When a young pianist hits a wrong note, we don’t say he is not worthy to keep practicing. We don’t expect him to be flawless. We just expect him to keep trying. Perfection may be his ultimate goal, but for now we can be content with progress in the right direction. Why is this perspective so easy to see in the context of learning piano but so hard to see in the context of learning heaven? ...

In all of these cases there should never be just two options: perfection or giving up. When learning the piano, are the only options performing at Carnegie Hall or quitting? No. Growth and development take time. Learning takes time. When we understand grace, we understand that God is long-suffering, that change is a process, and that repentance is a pattern in our lives. When we understand grace, we understand that the blessings of Christ’s Atonement are continuous and His strength is perfect in our weakness (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). When we understand grace, we can, as it says in the Doctrine and Covenants, “continue in patience until [we] are perfected” (D&C 67:13).


This was such a revelation to me! And it's changed how I'm doing my mothering, particularly with my Little Golden Dragon. Messes are part of the learning process. They were anticipated. That's why we have a Savior! And, understanding that, I can be more gentle with myself. Although my kitchen isn't perfectly clean tonight when I go to bed, it's cleaner than it was. And that's progress. Tonight, it's not just one box in my room, there's a whole stack of them. They've been there for two days (I had to dig to find the nebulizer for Dragon). But at least this time I know they're there, and I have a plan for what to do about it: the boxes go back in the boys' closet. Even if I haven't managed to remember to do it while they're awake.

And for my kids? For them, me learning this stuff means that I'm teaching them to find satisfaction in cleaning up the messes, and fixing the problems. Not only do we talk about the things that went well when the Daddy comes home and asks how the day was, we also talk about the problems that got fixed and the messes that were cleaned up. We talk about the plan to do well, and the effort expended in trying to carry it out -- even if things didn't go exactly according to that plan. Once again, Dragon believes in his own goodness. And I am learning to believe in my own goodness. Grace means that effort counts.  Intentions are important. Grace means that we're not there yet, but if the journey isn't in a straight line, at least we're still moving in more or less the right direction. It's important that my children know that.


02 December 2012

Praise Ye the Lord

He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.
-Psalms 113:9


This is one of my very favorite verses. I used to hold it as a promise, now, I look at it there on the side of my blog, right above the pictures of my children, and I am filled with amazement and gratitude. Through the long years of waiting, I cried over the stories of Hannah and Elizabeth and Sariah, and yearned for children. Now I have three little angles to hold. What a blessing. Praise seems like such a tame word for what I'm feeling.

12 October 2012

Weekly Wrap-up: the one where we potty trained

This week has been intense! And that intensity is probably going to keep right on going through the weekend: we are potty training Dragon. He's doing great. On day 2 he was dry from naptime clear until bedtime. Turns out that, now that he's got it figured out what he's supposed to be doing on the potty, those M&Ms are pretty motivating. Daddy took Hero out for the morning on day 1 (Wednesday), and Dragon and Mom stayed home and just worked on peeing in the potty. He loved it when I got out my camera! I got some great ideas for doing it this time around here. Last time, with Hero, it was a process and he sort of grew into it. This time, Dragon had everything: he wanted underwear, he had control, he understands rewards... he just wouldn't pee in the potty. We got it done though! And now he's doing awesome. We're just doing days for now; when I asked him the one time if he wanted to pee in the night (he'd come into my room and was "awake" already) he just cried and cried. But daytime trained is great for a little boy just past 2! And, once the new baby gets here my budget will really appreciate not needing to diaper them both.


We had a bear that "peed" too; a medicine dropper helped create the illusion.

Hurray for salty snacks and "Daddy Soda"!

Jiggle that pee down; JUMP!!

In spite of all that craziness early in the week, we still got some good school done, especially late in the week. (We took Monday off to recover from General Conference before doing any serious work, Tuesday was full of appointments and a visit to Grandpa and Nana, and Wednesday was Potty Training Day.) We were supposed to finish up Story of the World volume 1, but we're not quite done. Still, Hero did a couple of great narrations. This is one of them:



One of the paragraphs in the story talked about the size of the battle. It was huge. There were 100,000 Celts, and only about 10,000 Romans, yet the Romans won. I didn't think that this had made any impression on Hero, so while he colored his picture of Boadicea I got out our base-10 blocks and our cuisenaire rods. And I showed him what it looks like to be outnumbered 10 to 1. He was suitably impressed. And we talked about how the organization of the Romans helped them, while the Celts just charged in without any plan. Still. Just imagining looking at a force like the blue one coming at your little white guys... intimidating. No wonder Washington was so adamant about the importance of discipline to the army!



Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable;
procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.
-George Washington

We'll clean up a bit of math on Saturday, but otherwise, things are looking pretty good. Dragon is (mostly) staying dry; Hero got a good amount of school in this week, even if it wasn't on our usual schedule. His reading is coming along so nicely. I'm going to have to start getting some "Step 2" books to have around so that as he feels a bit more secure in the "Step 1s" and other easy books we've got, he's got something to grow into. One of these days, I'd like to take a trip up to Half-Price books to browse their easy readers all by myself. And, in the mean time, I'm making slow progress on organizing and cataloging my bookshelves. We're getting there!

Check out how other homeschoolers' weeks went at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers:



28 May 2012

Sweet Sleep

I love to watch them sleep. We spent the morning at the park, leaving as soon as we got out of bed to each breakfast with our friends from the ward, and staying to eat lunch with a smaller group. The boys played hard, and now they're sleeping. I used to call it "baby gazing" when I just sat and watched them sleep. I'll have to call it something else today, because neither one of them can rightly be called a baby.

29 November 2011

24 Hours: A Day of the Life

I saw a number of "Day in the Life" posts at the beginning of the school year and thought they looked like fun, but I keep forgetting to do one. Since I remember it now, I'm starting RIGHT NOW and I'll finish tomorrow. Not the typical format, but it will get done! (I'll be back and make updates for the next 24 hours or so.)

4:00pm - I'm visiting teaching tonight and it's her birthday, so I'm making pumpkin bread to take her. The boys are both napping.

4:05 - I realize (A)this bread is not healthy and (B)it's making a huge batch and is difficult to stir. I should have done this in my mixer. Can't wait to taste it.

4:30 - I add ginger, even though it's not in the recipe. The batter is delicious. Then I have A Moment of Panic as I realize that I have no idea if I've got carseats or not: they were both in the van, which Daddy has taken to work. I make myself finish the bread before I look, so it will be baking. I'm trying to think up alternate plans, just in case. I almost forget to set the timer on the bread.

4:40 - Peek out the window; the carseat is there. I should have known Daddy would remember. Close the curtains because it's already dark, and turn on the Christmas tree.

4:45 - The dishwasher is running, but I realize I forgot a few things. Dragon wakes up. I wonder what he did with his other sock. Monkey is still sleeping. This is typical: he's older, but his naps are still regular and usually longer. I'll have to wake him up soon so we can discuss the rules (No saying, "Are you done yet" or anything like it) before we go Visiting Teaching. I also should feed the boys a snack.

5:10 - Finish reading some stories to Dragon. He's a tough audience, but we made it through 3 this time. I remind him again not to pinch. And again. I think it's time to wake Monkey up.


5:12 - Monkey comes downstairs before I can go up. We negotiate for good behavior while Visiting Teaching: if he doesn't complain or ask to leave he can earn an extra TV token. Then we have a snack. While the boys eat, I read some more of Gilgamesh. When Monkey is done he works on his coloring sheet. We stop and talk about the difficult vocabulary: lintel, enraged, Ishtar, and frieze are some of the words. We look at a picture in the Assyrian Art book I'm reading when the explanation of what a frieze is falls completely flat. I have him do mini-narrations to check his comprehension. It's pretty OK, and we talk about the parts he's fuzzy on.





5:38 - The bread is done (I hope) and not a minute too soon! We need to get on shoes and leave... as soon as I look up where she lives again.

5:45 - My sister calls to firm up plans for this weekend. I say, "Can you call me back in 2 hours??"

5:55 - On the road. We're more or less on time. The boys are awesome. They play with the toys and books we brought and I don't have to say anything to Monkey and only have to chase Dragon off the lady's tree once. (It's not fully decorated yet; that helps.)

6:55 - We finish the visit. I heap the praise on the boys for their awesomeness while we drive to Walmart.

7:07 - Arrive at Walmart. Spend a minute unloading all the toys and books from my purse so they don't arrest me for shoplifting. I didn't check my recipe, but I can kind of remember what it calls for. It's only been 2 years... what could go wrong?

7:30 - Back in the car with what I hope are all the ingredients I need for the cheesecake and also some deli chicken for dinner and some dish soap. Dragon is frantically signing, "more! more! more!" so I tell Monkey to pray on the food while I get rid of the cart and they dig in.

7:40 - Home again. Put Dragon in his high chair and he's happily working on chicken. I also give them both a bit of the pumpkin bread. It turned out good... except for the spots where I apparently didn't stir enough and there are nice white flour bits. Ouch. Not what I like to give away. Definitely in the mixer next time. But it's tasty. Since nap time went so long, we still have school to finish. I need to find my list for today and decide what's next.



8:30 - We've practiced sixes, fives, and fours (he'd done the others another day), which Monkey thought it was fun to join like trains, and then we added a few more elements to our Raptors lapbook. Dragon gets a diaper change. Now, we pause for a lightsaber battle. Monkey is ferocious, but I can take him! Dragon has a brand new saber too, but he hasn't quite figured out the game yet, so he's sort of milling around through the battle, but manages not to be a casualty.

8:40 - Dragon is picking up food off the floor and eating it (I just fed that kid!!) so I call a halt and sweep. Then lightsaber battles continue.

8:45 - Monkey is sent to get his jammies for a shower. Dragon and I place chase, do a few jumping-jacks (he's been watching us do PACE), and then settle in with the legos to play a few rounds of "baby towers." That is, I build, he destroys, and we both laugh.

9:00 - Monkey finally comes back with jammies. Dragon is throwing legos over the gate into the bathroom. It's very distracting, but they are having a ball. Dragon turns up with his brother's shirt on. We play more legos.


9:10 - The water is finally on. I go wash Monkey's hair supervise while Monkey washes his hair. I also remind him that he doesn't need permission to get out of the shower. Dragon needs some jammies, so I find those while I'm waiting for Monkey to finish up. He gets cute monkeys with bananas. I also pull up All About Birds' page on mallards and pick out a couple of mallard clips from YouTube. And remind Monkey to finish up.






9:50 - Time for scriptures and prayers. No, we're not doing it at the computer. "No pinching, Dragon. Soft touches." Don't pinch your brother either.

10:08 - We call Daddy. "Are you going to be home in time to tuck boys in?" It's going to be close. He says goodnight to the boys on the phone, just in case.

10:15 - Brush teeth, go potty. All that good stuff. We're doing the scripture boxes when Daddy gets home, and pause for hugs and kisses, then finish the  box. Monkey asks for a story, so I tell him about Christ's birth, and then insist that he go to sleep. "No pinching, Dragon. Soft touches." Again.

10:55 - Back downstairs. Dragon is asleep; Monkey still is not. I still need to read scriptures myself and look at my plans for tomorrow.

11:38 - Looking at Pinterest for "just a minute" doesn't work so well. I need to get busy again and finish things up before bed.

11:45 - Finished reading my scriptures. I want to read the whole Old Testament, but it's hard. I started 2 years ago, and I'm still laboring my way through Numbers.

11:50 - List of school work for tomorrow is written out on a post-it. I think I need to go through my lesson plans and make some adjustments, but I'm going to have to pray about how much is the right amount of work for Monkey. If he didn't nap it wouldn't be a big deal, but the inconsistent amount of time to do our work is killing me - 2 hours naps, but only some of the time?! Blarg. I don't know how to plan for that. I'm turning off my computer, touching up the kitchen, and going to bed.

12:45am - We're going to sleep. It's a little later than we'd prefer, but not out of the ordinary.

1:15 - Dragon's fussing so I bring him to my bed. It's sooner than I'd hoped (he was starting to sleep through the night before he got bronchitis last month), but he'd had an impressively runny nose all day, so I'm not surprised. He's getting used to being weaned, and hardly fusses when I offer him a water cup rather than nursing. He seems restless.

1:45 - He's still restless, and coughing. We think the snot is bothering him and decide that he should sleep sitting up a bit. I take him downstairs and we settle in on my new chaise lounge. He seems more comfortable, snuggles in (I love that!) and falls right to sleep.

Sometime after 2:00 - I wake up because he's coughing a lot, and decide I want a bucket handy in case he pukes while we're on my new chair. As I'm getting up with him, he pukes. On me, all over himself, and on my chair. We head for the bathroom and I aim him at the pot. When he's done I check the damage, and decide to wake up Daddy. Dragon and I shower; Daddy takes care of the chair and the floor. I get the bathroom once we're done.

2:45 - We're headed back to bed. Dragon is playing and happy, until I make him go back to bed. He fights sleep for a few minutes, then drops into a very restless sleep. He wants his feet on me, but keeps kicking them around to get the blankets off. It's chilly! I try to recover him a few times, then give in to the inevitable. His sleepers should keep him warm. Now that my boy is doing better I am slightly miffed because I'd wanted to share a normal day, not a sick day!

8:22 am - Dragon wakes up. He's coughing and restless, but clearly still tired. I try to get him to go back to sleep. I'd really like some more sleep!

8:45 - I bring him downstairs to keep him from waking up Daddy. I sit down at my computer with him on my lap and his coughing eases, he snuggles in, and finally falls asleep again. I think sitting up is helping him, and Monkey will probably wake up soon, so I type one handed for a while, then go look at pinterest again. That seems like just the right amount of mental effort.

9:30 - Monkey's up. I send him back for pants, because he likes to sleep in shorts. While he's getting dressed, Dragon wakes up too. We're all hungry, so breakfast is next. I grab the scriptures to read to them while we eat our cereal and pumpkin bread.

10:30 - Breakfast is finished, Daddy's up, and we start doing math. Monkey loves it, so we usually do it first because it's an easy way to start. Today is "Math Lab," which means it's somewhat choose-your-own-adventure, and he chooses to play Skipbo.




11:00 - Daddy leaves to run some errands; we all wave goodbye, then return to the game. In addition to counting as we build piles, Monkey practices the partners of 5 to figure out how many cards he should draw. We use fingers to figure it out. It's easy; I don't think he really needs the fingers, but he likes them, so we keep using them.

11:15 - We finish our game. I probably should have made it just a touch shorter, but it went well anyway. Monkey wants to read some books, so we do. Dragon listens to most of the first one, then wanders off.



11:20 - I chase Dragon out of the tree. He brings me an ornament. He runs off with the globe and leans on the tree. It's cute. I chase him out of the tree. And try to read to Monkey about the Euphrates. Monkey's attention is wandering (with all these interruptions, who can blame him?). Dragon wants the wipes to pull out of the box, so I offer to let him empty the diapers from the basket instead. The tree is more interesting.


11:45 - I give Dragon some benedry to try to dry up the river that keeps flowing from his nose, and try to put him down for a nap. Monkey plays with legos. Dragon, having had more sleep than me, outlasts me, and I give up on the nap and get myself dressed. Monkey comes upstairs to see what's taking so long, so the boys play in their room for a couple minutes while I update the blog and put the ornaments back on the tree. "Only" the bottom half is mostly naked. I hear regular thumps, so I know they're not doing anything too interesting, just jumping around. I need a nap.


12:20 - Since the boys are still playing nicely, I look up the recipe for the pumpkin cheesecake their Daddy asked me to bake for this weekend, and get the ingredients out so they can warm up to room temperature. Monkey tells me that they're bored, so I grab Dragon and we start doing more school.

12:25 - The boys are both saying they're hungry, and Monkey wants to make a "Super Hero map, that requires 3 pieces of paper and some tape, and the white parts are going to be bridges." So I give him paper, tape, and markers, give both boys cheese, and try to figure out lunch. This starts with finishing putting away the groceries from yesterday. I got so distracted that I didn't even open the dark chocolate I bought. How did that happen? This oversight is corrected, and I enjoy a piece of Giradelli dark chocolate. I still don't know what's for lunch or when Daddy's coming home. But the chocolate is good. Think I'll have another. We'll practice reading after lunch.




12:35 - I'm still trying to clean the kitchen so I can think. Monkey has decided that the map is in his head, so he's done with his project, and heads back to the lego pile. Daddy comes home and shortly is at the legos too, playing with the boys and also playing referee. Even with him there, there is a lot of crabbing from Dragon and more than a little whining from Monkey. Naptime anyone? Oh, yeah. That food. I start making enchiladas.


1:00 - Monkey is putting cheese in the enchiladas for me, and Dragon falls asleep in his Daddy's arms. Once the food is in the oven we play "Build a Sentence" to practice phonics while it cooks.





2:30 - Lunch is over. Monkey's getting ready for his nap. Dragon wakes up from his. So much for mine; Daddy's got work to do - he's telecommuting, not off.

2:45 - I'm done tucking Monkey in for his nap. He's not happy about it, but he clearly needs it today. Dragon grabs my face, turns it to look at him, and signs, "More! More! More!" I give him enchiladas and he chows down while I sweep the floor and consider cleaning that nasty bathroom. I also need to look at the plans I neglected last night before I run out plans to do. That would be a problem. I need a nap.

3:15 - It's starting to get dark. I turn on the tree, but put off closing the curtains. Dragon's cough sounds awful, but at least he's eating nicely. He's supposed to be rechecked from his bronchitis next week. I call about moving up the appointment to tomorrow. 11:15 tomorrow morning? Yeah. I can do that.

3:45 - Snuggles and lightsaber battles... at the same time. But it makes Dragon happy. I like that.

 

LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin