Happiness

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

My Happy Place

I’m typing this one-fingered on my iPad (something that drives my husband crazy!) from the rocking chair. My left leg bounces up and down and my fingers run through a two-year-old’s blonde hair. His blue eyes hidden under heavy eyelids and long lashes. A rare moment I seldom get to enjoy, but today…today I will. The dishes wait, the toys strung from one room to the next sit. This. Nothing in the world could compare to this.

For the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about “my happy place,” thanks to my dear friend Marla who writes a beautiful blog, Pendulum World. After being challenged by another blogger and writing about hers, she challenged me along with a few others to write about mine. Let me first tell you about Marla. I’ve never met her in person, but she has a way of making you feel like an old friend. She writes words of encouragement and often reminds me of what this life is really all about. I’m so thankful for her friendship and how she has touched my life.

Last year for the 100th day of school our son was asked to bring in 100 of something. For days I proposed ideas as we sat around the dinner table and watched as my husband’s face twisted in mocking smirks.

“How about we make a treasure box and paint it, then fill it with 100 gold coins? You could wear a pirate costume when it’s your turn to present. Eh?” Brilliant.

Now, here’s just a simple example of how my dear husband and I are complete polar opposites (for what it’s worth, we are living proof that opposites really can attract!).

My husband smirks. “R, Mom is crazy. Here’s a $1 bill. Take it in and say it’s 100 cents. Easy. Done.”

“So typical!” I’d think. “Sure, take the easy, straight-forward route. So engineery.”

Our proposals went back-and-forth for days. Finally a decision was made. R put together a cute little photo album with a title on the front, “100 People, Places, and Things I Love.” Each photo protector held a picture of someone or something near and dear to him with a label of what it was. I was a proud mama, and even my “this project is way too frilly and time consuming” husband thought it turned out pretty darn cute.

I won’t put 100, but I thought I’d share my happy place(s) with you through pictures. Like Marla said in her post, being with people I love is where I find joy. They are what makes life full and happy, and I’m so thankful for those who have shared their lives with me. So, without further ado, here are my “people, places and things I love,” or “my happy place.”

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Being with my family

...and more family

…and more family (thanks, katiejanephotos.blogspot.com 🙂 )

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Sailing on our boat

Hiking

Hiking

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Places that bring back special memories

Here, one of the most beautiful places on earth

Here, one of the most beautiful places on earth

Here, because of all the peace, joy, and completeness it represents in my life

Here, because of all the peace, joy, and completeness it represents in my life

Running (and being) with friends

Running (and being) with friends

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Being with my kids

I’m so glad Marla challenged me to think about what brings me happiness. With the start of a new year, I hope we can all look back and remember those people, those moments, those places that we find joy. And this year I hope we can all share our joy with others.

As these traveling posts go, I have thought about some bloggers to pass the “happy place” challenge to. Of course, I don’t want to make anyone feel obligated to do it, but if you would like, I’d love to read yours.

Shape Up Cupcake— Kristen and I go way back to volleyball freshman year of high school, guitar class, soccer, and sleep overs. She is amazing! I feel honored to call her my friend after all these years. She is such a inspiration to me and so many others.

A prompt reply— Torrie has quickly become a good friend. Being in different walks of life, I love to hear her view from where she stands, with adult and teenage boys. Her advice and words of wisdom is always something I appreciate.

Sensitive and Extraordinary— Leila is such a kind person. I have loved getting to know her through her blog and reading her thoughts on raising children. She has been a huge help to me as a beginner in the self-publishing adventure, always answering my questions and sharing her experience and knowledge.

Categories: Happiness | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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