Monthly Archives: March 2015

Beauty in EVERY Moment

My husband’s Grandma Jane made the BEST cinnamon rolls in the world. years ago on one particular visit I decided I was determined to learn her sticky bun magic. Pen and paper out, I jotted down everything, from the type of spoon she used to the number of times she stirred the dough. How she sprinkled on the sugar and cinnamon and the color of the pan she cooked them in. With my careful calculations and particular care I took in writing everything down I just knew I would be pulling out the most golden, soft, moist cinnamon rolls when we got home.

The batches that followed never quite measured up. Rock hard. Too crunchy, too doughy, not sweet enough. Even when following the directions I so carefully jotted down that day I have yet to master her perfect rolls.

Every spring I make a Little Shutterfly book for the previous year. Last July Grandma Jane passed away quickly and unexpectedly. While I looked through pictures to create our annual book and tried to decide what to say for the summer months, I thought about all that I wished I had learned from her before she left. If I could have watched her make those cinnamon rolls one more time I just might have discovered her magic. Just maybe.

IMG_0414But as amazing as her cinnamon rolls were, they dimmed in comparison to the other life lessons I wish I could have learned. In her funeral program is something she wrote.

“Every moment is beautiful and captures the attention.”

Right after our third son was born I remember feeling exhausted, exasperated, and at the end of my rope. Our then four-year-old and two-year-old had demanded one too many things and made far too many messes. I took the baby and locked myself in the bedroom. I could hear the two little criminal master minds contemplating how to break in as I sat with the baby in the rocking chair and cried. Whoever came up with the saying not to cry over spilled milk must have understood mother-dom well. That cup of spilled milk has reduced me to tears far more often than I would like to admit.

THAT moment was not my prettiest, nor what I would have called beautiful.

For months we fought a whitey tighty war against our middle son. Every time he woke up, every time he used the bathroom, every time he escaped my view I had to ask him, “M, are you wearing underwear?” and that was always, always followed by, “Please go get your underwear on.” Sometimes my response was anything but beautiful. Sometimes I was so tired of the constant questioning that it was downright mean. One day M came running down the stairs. “DAD! DAD! Guess what?? I remembered underwear! Wanna see?” With that he pulled down his pants, revealing a naked little bottom. His shocked face was priceless as he yanked up his pants and scampered back up the stairs.

As a mom I can’t say that I find every moment beautiful. Sure, it often captures the attention, but all-too-often in a “You spilled your milk AGAIN?!” sort of way. The scraped knees, the toddler tantrums, the cleaning up after every single messy meal. The legos that I always manage to step on and the beds that never get made. Frankly, motherhood often leaves me a grumpy old witch.

But Grandma Jane didn’t just write that every moment was beautiful. They were so much more than words. I have no doubt that she felt it. She really and truly believed it. Every moment DID seem beautiful to her and did capture her attention. She had an incredible way of finding the best in even the most rotten person or crummy situation. Grandma Jane left behind a legacy of finding beauty.

HPIM0657Some moments might not seem beautiful as a mom. Some moments are downright dirty. But I am sure that with effort we can, like Grandma Jane, find beauty in even the ugliest moment.

Maybe it will take a healthy dose of humor.
I’m sure we will have to seek for a good measure of forgiveness.
We occasionally will have to throw common sense to the wind, forget we’re adults and jump in the mud with the kids.
Sometimes it might mean taking a step back and just being thankful that it wasn’t worse than it was. We might have to be grateful for those that help us through those particularly hard days.

Beauty is there for the finding. We often just might have to look extra hard. And eventually I hope it will get easier and easier for the beauty to capture the attention instead of the mess.

Someday I will master her cinnamon roll recipe. It might take years to achieve the ooy-gooy Grandma Jane-y goodness, but someday I’m determined to serve up a plate of the best rolls you have ever tasted. And today, today I’m going to try to look on life with such Grandma Jane optimism, such happiness, such joy. And I will try to find beauty in every moment.

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Categories: Happiness, Life Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

When I Feel Weak

N, our two-year-old, burned his hand on our stove last week. I’d been fixing dinner early that day and he was being my little kitchen helper, mixing and measuring ingredients into the bowl at the table. The burner had been turned off only minutes before, and out of the corner of my eye I saw N pull the stool over. Everything was in slow motion as I dropped the knife I had been cutting with and rushed over to my little boy. It was too late. The palm of his hand had only rested on the hot burner for a millisecond before I grabbed him up, but the deed was done. Immediately under the running tap water blisters began to form. His tears dripped into the sink and pulled at my heart as I cursed myself for not getting to him sooner.

Later that day as he took a nap, I called my sister and cried. I spilled out my heart. I felt weak. I felt like I had failed him yet again. I was the adult, the one in charge, but I felt so inadequate, so lacking, so incredibly weak. His little hand bandaged in gauze, his sad cries played over and over in my mind. “Ouch! Hurt, Mommy. This hand, it hurt.”

Being a mom, being a parent, I’m convinced is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Not because of the late nights, not because of the endless dirty laundry. It really has absolutely nothing to do with the constant demands from little people still lacking patience or the dishes that pile high every night or the diapers that constantly need changed. When I became a mother I expected all of that. I knew full well what the job description entailed. What no one had warned me about, what makes it harder than anything else we do with our lives, is none of that. From the minute we found out we were expecting our first little boy I felt like my heart had been taken from me and would never be given back. I experienced emotions unlike I had ever felt before, from the most extreme joy to the most intense worry and pain. Their hurt is mine, more strong in my heart than any pain I have felt for myself. Their disappointment, their excitement, their successes and failures. Their happiness gives me gladness I never knew could be felt. THAT. That is what makes this job the hardest. Our emotions run in extremes and rest on these little ones.

IMG_1010On that particular day I felt weak. I hate feeling so weak. I wanted more than anything to take away his sadness, to put on a magic salve or give it a kiss and make it all go away. I felt like millions of mothers feel every day. So often we feel like we have to be strong, but we’re afraid there’s no strength to muster. We want to put on a brave face, tell them everything will be fine, but inside we’re scared too and want nothing more than to stroke their hair and take it all onto ourselves. It’s a hard job: wishing, hoping, loving, feeling and emotionally giving our all. Loving someone so intensely.

IMG_0997I’m so thankful for a Heavenly Father that knows the emotions I feel. He knows better than I do myself. He understands that complete joy, he sorrows in our sadness. Some days I feel so weak, like when my little two-year-old burns his hand on the stove. But I know with His divine help my weakness can become strong. I know because of Him, because of his love, I can pour out my soul to him and I can pick myself back up. Because of Him I can take on this tough job with strength. Because of Him I can hold my little boy in my arms and reassure him that everything will be okay. Because He is there for both of us, always, no matter what. I’m so thankful that I have been given the incredible responsibility to love and care for these little ones, and I’m thankful He will be by my side when I feel the emotional load of it all is weighing me down.

Because I’m human, because I’m a mother, I often feel weak. I often feel like I fall short. But I know that because of Him I can be filled with strength. And when you feel overwhelmed with the emotional load, I know you can too. He loves us. He will make up the difference.

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Categories: Motherhood | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Protecting our Children

A typical Tuesday night. 5:00. I pull up allrecipes.com on my iPad and grab a pot. I busy myself mixing ingredients as N, my two-year-old climbs up on the barstool and commandeers my tablet. Not two minutes later the familiar lyrics of “The Hamster Dance” fills the kitchen and the glow of the screen lights up my son’s smug grin. As I stir the simmering pot, I notice he has found his way to the paint application and is quickly filling the blank space with a rainbow of colors. Dinner ready, table set, I scoop him up and set him in the high chair. Before I close the iPad and turn off his music, I discover that in the ten minutes he took control, he managed to pose for four selfies, write a novel of toddler gibberish in a document, change my background settings, take off airplane mode, renew our library books, fix two bugs, clean the finger printed screen, order three books on Amazon and write 100 lines of code (ok, so I’m only halfway exaggerating).HPIM1512

My two-year-old knows how to navigate my tablet better than I do.

And frankly, that scares me.

Years ago while I was unmarried and still in college I had the opportunity to spend a summer as a camp counselor for a church program called “Especially For Youth.” Each week we worked with two “co-counselors” and a set of about 8-12 teenagers each. It was an incredible, faith-building experience. One week while talking with my male co-counselor I was surprised to find out that the night before eight of his ten boys, ranging in age from 16-18, confided in him that they had accessed and viewed pornographic images. I was shocked. How could that be? These were really great kids who had everything in the world going for them.

Eight out of ten. I know it isn’t a big enough pool of boys to create a real statistic, but it was none-the-less alarming to me. Now, ten years down the road and (almost) four boys of my own, the image of those kind, handsome young men and their confessions burns in my mind.

If you think that porn has no harm or lasting affect on the person or those associated with them, think again. If you think it is healthy, I have to disagree. If you feel you are alone in the fight, you’re not.

Pornography is… addictive. It impairs decision-making capacities and it “hooks” its users, drawing them back obsessively for more and more. A man who had been addicted to pornography and to hard drugs wrote me this comparison: “In my eyes cocaine doesn’t hold a candle to this. I have done both. … Quitting even the hardest drugs was nothing compared to [trying to quit pornography]” (letter of Mar. 20, 2005). –Dallin H. Oaks

This is a taboo topic I never dreamed of writing about, let alone thought I’d ever have to worry about. But with the power of the Internet at our fingertips, at our two-year-olds’ fingertips, the topic becomes a bit more real. I watch my six-year old create planes and helicopters out of bristle blocks with his brothers, laugh at the same knock-knock joke for the fiftieth time, then cuddle up with his stuffed animal monkey after he’s said his prayers. So innocent. I wish more than anything I could protect him and help him keep that innocence forever. But I can’t wrap him in bubble wrap.

So as moms, what can we do? The dangers are out there, and they are real. I don’t have all the answers. I hardly have any, and probably not all great ones. But I’m learning, and my thoughts are this:

Sure, we can secure our internet, put the computer in a public and heavy-traffic location. Limit their phone data, check their texts. We can micromanage every facet of their lives, but the only way to really help them, to protect them, is to create a relationship with them and love them. No security measures can compare to helping them see their self-worth and that of others. If we maintain an open communication with them, know their friends and genuinely have an interest in them, and help them to understand the seriousness of this addiction, of the way becoming involved in such activities could change their lives and current and future relationships, I think it might help. It’s certainly not foolproof, but why not try?

“My plea—and I wish I were more eloquent in voicing it—is a plea to save the children. Too many of them walk with pain and fear, in loneliness and despair. Children need sunlight. They need happiness. They need love and nurture.” –Gordon B. Hinkley

Being a mom has been by far one of the greatest blessings of my life. As I twirl all 22 pounds of two-year-old sweetness around the air to the fifth repeat of “The Hamster Dance” ( if only he would show me how to turn the darn repeat off!!), I remember what an incredible, wonderful, daunting responsibility I have to raise these boys to be kind, considerate, courageous, stalwart, chivalrous gentlemen. For their teachers, their professors, their future employers. For your daughters, for their children. For God. It’s kind of a big deal, and I hope and pray I can get it right.

IMG_5180What have you done or plan to do to protect your children from the scary stuff out there? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Also, here’s another link that I thought was good for moms in case you are interested.

Categories: children, parenthood | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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