Category Archives: Parenting

Choose to Rise Above

I watched this beautiful video recently and it really got me thinking. It’s a powerful message and reminder to be kind to everyone.

What’s been on my mind in the days since watching it are the choices we make. Unfortunately, no matter how many amazing videos there are that teach us not to bully or be unkind, no matter how we strive to teach it in our homes, churches, and schools, as long as there is agency to choose right from wrong, there will be those who choose to be unkind and downright mean. Sometimes the unkind acts are intentional, sometimes they are unintentional – the offenders may not even be aware they have caused offense or hurt feelings.  Not only do we need to teach our children how to be kind and (hopefully) not be the bullies, and by all means, correct their behavior when and if they are, we also need to teach our children that they have a choice on how they will let others affect their lives.

We can choose to let them rule us, let their words and actions keep us from reaching our full potential. We can choose to let them drive us from church. We can choose to  hold a grudge that will eat away at our spirits.

We can choose to not let what others say and do keep us from reaching our full potential. We can choose to not let others drive us from developing a close and personal relationship with God. We can choose to forgive and rise above, gleaning good lessons from our experiences.

Some might read my post so far and say, easy for you to say such things, what can you possibly know about being bullied or picked on.

You’re right, I may not know as much as some, but this is what I do know.

I know the moments when I walked into the lunchroom in grade school and sat at a table only to have it immediately evacuated. But, it taught me to be more compassionate and to seek out the lonely.

I know the sinking feeling of waiting to be picked for a team and always to be chosen last. To hope that this time I’d do a good job at kickball or whatever sport we were playing, only to be jeered by both my team and the others when I royally messed up. But, it taught me to be patient with others as they practice and learn to do things.

I know all to well the embarrassment and dismay of finding out that vicious rumors were being spread about me, not only at high school, but at church – and they were started by the girls I went to church with. But, it taught me to be careful with my words.

My list could continue, there were many moments through middle school and high school that were hard and hurtful. I was rather awkward, and though I strove to show confidence, I was a quivering mess inside. But, each experience taught me something and made me stronger. I know I wasn’t always successful in showing the lessons I learned. I am sure I made mistakes, though hopefully not the same ones that hurt me as I grew up.

We all, in life, experience many things, many trials, whether it be bullies, or sickness, or death. And with each trial we have a choice. We can give it power over us. We can become the victim. We can get angry and let it drive us away from all we hold dear and true, or we can stand tall, lift our chins and press on with conviction. Conviction that we are of worth – that no matter how others may see us, we are sons and daughters of God. We can develop forgiveness in our hearts, and be the comfort bringers to others who have suffered similar hurts who may not know how to overcome.

There are days when my girls come home upset, sometimes even in tears, with what kids have said to them. Does my heart ache for them? Yes! But, I know that if I strive to teach them right, these experiences can be for their good. Rather than sitting and talking about how mean the bullies are, or how we’re justified to dislike them or be rude back, we talk about how they can be sure not to treat others that same way and how we can choose to forgive and move on. I remind my dear daughters (and sons) that they are beautiful children of God, and that they have the power to choose. I remind them to keep that power, and not give it away.

Just the other day one of my daughters mentioned to me how she saw a girl sitting all by herself, and she went and sat with her. She didn’t know the girl, but she knew what it was like to sit alone. She excitedly told me how grateful the girl was and how the girl felt she had no friends. My daughter could understand and reach out because she had learned her lesson, and rather than letting it defeat her, she chose to rise above and bless someone else’s life. I was prouder in that moment, than any other about the choices she is making.

Yes, bullying needs to stop. It’s cruel. It’s wrong. Yes, we need to teach our children to be kind and to not bully.
But, we also need to teach our children that when they are picked on, made fun of, bullied, or treated unkindly, that they can choose to let it defeat them, or to let it make them into strong, compassionate people.  We need to teach them to rise above and to love, even the undeserving and the unkind. We need to teach not to sacrifice their eternal well being for anything.

I remember Lizy coming home one afternoon from elementary school in tears. The girl who upset her had been rather mean. We talked for quite a while. As her tears dried up a thoughtful look crept upon her face. “Mom, maybe that girl can’t help it. Maybe she doesn’t have someone at home to love and teach her.”  I recall nodding my head in agreement as I told her, “we have no idea what trials others are passing through and how it affects them. But we can choose how we will let their words and deeds affect us.” She went to school the next day with the determination to show that girl more love, and what an example she taught me!

Gordon B. Hinckley says in his book “Stand a Little Taller”:

“Rise Above Weakness

‘And blessed is he that is found faithful unto my name at the last day, for he shall be lifted up to dwell in the kingdom prepared for him from the foundation of the world.’ – Ether 4:19

“Do we have frailties? Yes, of course we do. Do we have members of the Church who are not what they ought to be? Of course we do. Some of them may be your neighbors. You might have one for a roommate. Do not condemn the Church for that. Rather, say to yourself, “My membership in this Church is worth more than all of the evil that people can do to me,” if that is what it takes. You be faithful, you be true.”

“LOVE OVERCOMES

‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not parish, but have everlasting life.’ – John 3:16

“Love is the only force that can erase the differences between people — that can bridge chasms of bitterness.”

I strive to live my life so that I can be found faithful and true to the end. I do this one day at a time. Every day I have to forgive myself and forgive others.  I hope that they will in turn forgive me for actual or perceived wrongs that I have committed. I pray for love and compassion towards others, especially those who are difficult to love, and I hope they do the same for me when they find me difficult to love.

Life is a series of experiences designed to help us learn and grow and reach our full potential. It’s too short to let the intentional or unintentional injuries caused by others to the body, spirit, or soul get or keep us down. What we take away from life is up to us. Only you can decide how the actions or words of another will affect you. Will you get to the end with a list of grievances about how it’s been unfair, how you let others control your life by their actions? Or will you get to the end knowing that no matter what happened to you, you strove to love and learn the good lessons and let those experiences, both good and bad, shape you into the amazing person you are?

The choice is yours.

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” –John 13: 34-35″

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Filed under Opinion, Parenting, Religion

Love At Home

I love summer.

I love being with my kids all summer.

But, I always know when it’s time for school to start –

it’s not a yearning for them to be away

or a desire for a mommy break

it might be a little of a desire to have a cleaner house

or a more set schedule

but what it really is

is a realization that the kids are fighting nearly non-stop and need a break from each other!

The last couple weeks have been rough. REALLY rough.

And not just on the fighting kid front – a number of other things have thrown their hats in the ring that have made me rotate between wanting tear my hair out and sob non-stop or laugh insanely at the total wackiness of life.

Let’s say, I’ve laughed a lot – or at least tried.

Anyway, the other day I remember hearing someone somewhere say that in order to raise happy healthy children their parents need to tell them they are loved on a daily basis.

I agree with that – and my husby and I make sure we tell them (& we tell each other) numerous times a day how much we love them. But, I wasn’t convinced that it was helping much on the happiness level – especially when listening to the 5-year-old howl because the 8-year-old won’t stop staring at him – as though his eyes were burning a hole into his forehead and sucking out his brains!

But then, last night when one daughter was having a really rough time with one son it hit me.

I might tell them I love them all the time – but are they telling each other?

I hear constant barbs and mean words tossed about among occasional kind phrases, but after listening for a while it hit me in the gut that they don’t tell each other “I love you.”  At least, not very often. Could those three little words really make that much of a difference coming from a sibbling?

I decided to test it out. I snagged my 13-year-old and whispered a few moments with her about my plan and challenged her to be sure each day to tell every one of her siblings “I love you” and I encouraged her to use their names in the phrase too. I asked her to try it out on her brother whom she was struggling with at the time and see what happened.

She looked rather dubious – after all, this was some crazy Mom scheme- but being a good sport she gave it a try – it was even heart felt! Her brother looked a little surprised. I encouraged him with a whispered “what do you say when someone says ‘I love you’?”

A little smile played around his lips, and he said, “I love you too.”

The grin on the 13-year-old was amazing. The 8-year-old was beaming and neither remembered why they were so angry in the first place.

Then she tried it on her sister who had the same surprised reaction. Again, I gave the gentle prompting and the love was recipocated with grins from bother girls.

This was too good to pass up! I challenged all the kids to tell each of their siblings “I Love You” every day.

On the way home from Stake Conference as the 2 older boys were going at it, I reminded them of the three most important words they could ever hear or say. Before I knew it they were giggling and tossing back and forth numerous “I love you”s to each other.

I can feel a difference.

It’s only been a couple days, but the feeling in our home has completely changed.

There has always been love in our home – but now it is being more fully expressed by our children – and that is making all the difference. There are still squabbles and fights – but at least they know they are loved by each other.

The greatest gift a family can give to each other is love.

It’s not enough for just the parents to express their love on a regular basis to each other and their children  – or for the children to express their love for their parents. To truly have love at home, they need to express it to each other too – every day.  I feel so blessed to have that little nugget of wisdom. It seems so simple – yet it is making such a blessed difference in our home.

There is truly beauty all around when there is love *expressed* at home! 😀

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Filed under Children, Parenting

Finding the Joy

Ah the Goof

is

BACK!!

Here I sit with my foot wrapped and propped up. (It’s looking like a sprain and is already feeling better than it did this morning)

Sitting around – especially on a beautiful day – is not much fun, but it gives plenty of time for thinking.

And I found myself thinking about how lucky I am to have such an amazing family and how proud I am of the choices my kids are making.

I first thought of it when James wandered up from the basement in the late morning. He didn’t say anything to me, just walked to the dishwasher and quietly opened it. I thought he was getting a drink when I heard the chink of dishes, but as the chink lasted longer than a few seconds I realized he was quietly unloading the dishwasher. No one had asked him, he just decided to come upstairs and do it for mommy.

And I smiled and thought of all the joys of parenting.

Sometimes we get bogged down in the negatives – I know I do – how hard it is (after all – being a parent is one of the hardest jobs we’ll ever do). And I wondered if I told my kids how much I look up them and how they set amazing examples for me.

Almost every night when I go into Jacob’s room to tell him lights out he’s sitting on his bed reading his scriptures.

Emily frequently goes out of her way to help friends, siblings,  parents, and teachers. I often hear her ask, “Anything I can do to help?”

Even Robert sets an example with his loving hugs and willingness to help pick up toys.

And Dot – I  am often so amazed by my Dot. She seems fearless and is so courageous when it comes to standing for what is right. The other day I picked her up from Stage Band and asked her how her day went.

“Good,” she replied, “but I think my whole science class hates me now.”

I of course asked why and she explained that the class before hers – or maybe it was hers had angered the sub so much that he had walked out. Not having a teacher, Dorothy got up from her seat to report the situation to the office. The class members told her not to go – “We can have a party” they said. But Dot went anyway, informed the office of the situation and a sub was provided for the class.

To me that was pure bravery. That was awesomeness. I am in awe of the courage and example that she set. The youth theme for this year for our church is “Stand Ye in Holy Places and Be Not Moved” – she embodied that to me and I couldn’t have been more proud of her.

Sometimes I want to stand on top of a mountain and shout for all to hear

“MY KIDS ARE AWESOME !!!!”

Sure, kids are hard – and I know many stories of how difficult teenagers and preteens can be – but there are SO many joys. It’s worth it. Those moments when you see and hear of your child making the hard choices and doing the right thing – standing up in the face of possible ridicule to do what’s right – standing up for other kids who are being made fun of – not being afraid to live up to their standards and not compromise them. Sure they will make mistakes and maybe they won’t do all of these things all the time – but the moments they do should be celebrated and remembered. I hope I can remember to focus on all the good my kids do and not get bogged down in the negatives of parenting.

There’s so much negative in the world today – we don’t need more. My kids make plenty of mistakes and poor choices and it’s easy to think that’s all they do and then I remind myself that they do just as many good things if I’m paying attention. Most people are eager to point out how hard parenting is, how tiring, how difficult – how awful the dreaded teenage years can be – most people know all these things.

But, how many point out all the joys, the rewards, the pay offs, that come with it? I can’t count how many times I heard the words loaded with negativity “Just wait until their teens” when I talked about how good or hard my young children were. How discouraging those words felt. We don’t need to be told and tell other parents how hard things are – or how hard they may get – I think most of us already have a pretty good idea of the heartaches – just check the news – what we really need to to remind each other of are the things that make parenting joyous.

Let’s not be so eager to point out all the negatives – let’s encourage, lift & celebrate all that our children are and can do. I know I have hard years ahead – what stage in parenting doesn’t? But I know for every battle lost or mistake made there are many battles fought and won.

Celebrate the amazing in your kids!

And who knows – maybe it will give them the courage

to be even more amazing than they already are.

MY KIDS ARE AWESOME!!!

AND YOURS ARE TOO!!!

(I think this calls for an ice cream party – and when asked why, I think I’ll just say “Because you are all AWESOME!!”)

4 Comments

Filed under Bobert, Dot, Em, Jacob, James, Parenting

Refreshed

I feel refreshed.

This weekend was WONDERFUL.

I’ll write more and post more photos, but for now I’m just going to ramble about how wonderful it was to get away.

The thing with loosing a child is that there is a constant reminder.

You can’t get away from it.

I’m a Mom – that’s my job. It’s the best job in the world. I LOVE being a mom.

I’m a Mom(and wife of course) first and a piano teacher, writer and anything else second.

I go to work in the morning by opening my eyes.

My family is my most wonderful work and there’s someone missing. Not a second goes by where she isn’t in my thoughts and hardly a second goes by where I don’t miss her and notice her absence. She is a part of us. I saw that adorable face every day – more hours than not – for almost 14 years and all of a sudden that adorable face is no longer there.

There’s no distraction from that.

I can’t throw myself into my work as a distraction – my family is my work. SHE is my work.

I can’t throw myself into some fantastic hobby as a distraction – how can I possibly neglect the rest of my amazing family, and my husband? They are my work too.

There’s no easy or simple answer and it’s an uphill battle. And not only do I have to figure out how to deal with my grief and my emotions, but those of my children – and be considerate of my husband.

I found myself craving more and more a chance to get away. A break from life. Something where for the first time in 10 months I could focus on me.

That probably sounds horribly selfish.

But, as a mom we rarely focus on what we want – and that’s as it should be. Our focus is on the children and their emotions and needs. Oh, there are times and moments in the day when we get away and get to focus on ourselves, but not often and not long.  The idea of an escape from the pressures of life sounded wonderful.

And impossible.

But then I realized it may not be so impossible and due to some wonderful caring friends it happened sooner than I ever expected, but I think at the time it was most needed.

I felt like I was crumbling. Barely able to hang on to my sanity and process my own emotions, let alone help five children grapple with theirs. And I felt so very tired – if you recall my tired post. 🙂

This little get away was just the thing to rejuvenate me. For the first time in my life I took a 2 hour long bath! I just relaxed and watched a chick-flick while I soaked. I’ve never been SO self-indulgent. And, because I was away from home with no responsibilities for the weekend, I didn’t feel guilty about it!

For the first time in 10 months (and longer, really) I completely relaxed. It was wonderful having no demands on my time and being able to do the things we (my husband and I) wanted to do.  We were definitely ready to come home and get back into routine, but the break was so wonderful.

Missing Lizy was lessened a bit. Since we were missing (and maybe even not missing, lol) all our kids, it wasn’t so heavy on our hearts.

For the first time since the accident, Paul and I had time to sit down and really talk about it all. What happened, how it happened, how we felt, what we’re feeling now. It was wonderful. It drew us closer together and I think I burned through an entire box of kleenex. And that evening as we drove through the foothills of the smokey mountains, the sunset turned them pink and I had to smile at our little Lizy gift.

And how do I feel today, now that I am home and back into the every day routine of things?

I feel more calm and at peace with things than I have felt in a long, long time.

I feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and renewed.

I feel like I’m ready to tackle real life head on.

It feels good.

It’s been a long time since I have felt this way.

I feel like I have a little of me back – my old self.

And that feels good.

I still miss her dreadfully, the pain is still there.

But, I feel like since I took a break this weekend, I am more able to face it, handle it, cope with it.

While I was away I took it for a stroll and let it be my companion for an hour or so while I talked with Paul.

Now, I feel like it can be put away a little while so I can focus on my many other responsibilities. It’s still there – always will be. But at least for the moment I have a grip on things and don’t feel quite so tired. 😀

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Filed under Child loss, Family, Parenting

A Perfectly Imperfect Christmas

I woke up Christmas Eve morning, my entire body feeling heavy, like it was difficult to breathe.  My heart felt like it was  broken and trying to pump lead . Some days over the past months are easier than others and that day, it just plain hurt. It had been building over the weekend. The family had been fighting more and I found myself wishing that things could just be easy, for a few minutes if nothing else. In a spot in life where remembering to be happy and to smile can be hard, some days, I just wish for easy. I sat in the bathroom sobbing. All I wanted was to have everything back to how it had been before Lizy died. Sure, life would be far from perfect, but it wouldn’t be impossible.

But, it was Christmas Eve day and dinner had to be made and all the other preparations and I couldn’t let my family down. I struggled through the day. We all did. I think we fought more than we ever had. I cried more than I ever have. Everything felt broken. Nothing seemed to work right. And I caught myself thinking numerous times, “How can we hope to be an eternal family and see Lizy again, if we can’t make it through a few hours without a major fight.” I sobbed, I pounded on my husband’s chest and soaked his shirt with helpless tears and no clue how to fix everything that was broken, because it wasn’t the kind of broken that could be fixed with some duct tape or crazy glue.

I pulled my self together for the fifth or sixth time that day, smeared my tears away and ran a last minute trip to the store, trying to collect myself, knowing that when I got back our adopted grandparents would be there and the festivities would begin. I cried some more in the car and hoped my eyes didn’t look too red. I tried my best to wish the cashier a cheery “Merry Christmas.” I don’t know if I was convincing or not.

Sure enough, as I arrived at the house they were there. I walked in and my heart lightened. It was Christmas Eve. It would be perfect, and even though we couldn’t see her, I knew Lizy would be there.

We ate dinner and acted out the nativity – the kids insisted on Lizy being the angel and we draped the white lab coat (angel costume) around her picture. We made it through, I laughed and had fun – the kids were so cute in their costume and we felt the spirit and Lizy’s presence. Santa came and brought pjs and we tucked the kids into bed.

We spent the next couple hours cleaning up and getting ready for Christmas morning and then, as I stood there and looked at the fully packed stockings and Lizy’s rather lacking one the tears hit again and all the missing came back.

I cried myself to sleep.

I awoke on Christmas in a post-cry haze to the sound of the girls whispering excitedly. The day progressed remarkably smoothe – I was wrapped up in the joy of the children. I didn’t mind the crazyness and the mess. There were a few tense moments,fights and one rather large explosion at one point, but I managed to hold it together some what.

Evening came and we sent the kids off to bed and I stood staring at the fireplace mantel where all the stockings, now empty, hung. All but one. Lizy’s sat on the hearth still waiting to be opened. We brought the kids back down and sat on the floor by the tree. I shook out her stocking and paper after paper tumbled out. Paul and I began to read – our Christmas gifts to Lizy. Most were acts of service or kindness carried out by our family, but some were by others – even a neighbor down the street had dropped some by. We read, and read and read. Often times our voices cracking with emotion.

As we finished, Emily climbed, sobbing, into my lap. “I can’t believe all the service that was done for her.” She choked out. We cried together, all of us – Dot and Dad, Jacob, Em, James, and I. Robert looked on in bewildered 2-year-old innocence. As the tears dried I looked at the family. I knew Lizy was there too. It was perfect – a perfectly imperfect Christmas. And for that one little moment I caught a glimpse of heaven. A glimpse of what it’s all about.

We might fight, we might argue, but we also love. We love deeply and eternally.   Our dear sweet kids have struggled and strived and done hard things – some of the hardest things they may ever have to do. My husband has been my solid rock. My littlest boys have been some of my greatest comfort. Last night as I glanced around at the messy house and the toys and wrappings scattered about all I could remember was the happiness of the day, the gratitude in my heart, and the joy that I had a family and friends who cared so much that they filled Lizy’s stocking with service that took us well over thirty minutes to get through. And that time when I cried, it wasn’t so much tears of sadness and missing Lizy, as it was an overwhelming feeling of gratitude.

I knew Lizy was thrilled and I knew that no matter how hard, how much we fought, how impossible it all felt and seemed, that we would make it through – we’ll have a lot more rough patches to still make it through – but we’ll get there one way or another. I’ll fight for it, our family will fight for it, and we might mess up big in the process, but that’s what this season is all about. A celebration of the birth of the one person who made it all possible – Jesus Christ.  With His help, and only with His help can we do it, – and we will. I know it.

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Filed under Child loss, Family, Lizy, Parenting, Religion

The Effect of a Typical Day

Today’s post is brought to you by my

Husby

and his

SMILEY FACE MUG!

He had a little fun taking photos of it and using those photo warping apps on it….

A fresh new day!

Full of possibilities, enthusiasm, the world is yours!

No dish will be left unwashed, no corner uncleaned, no job undone!

Smiley 1

And then the effects of the typical day,

whether at work

or at home chasing children

(which is a ton of work, by the way)

take their toll,

the day wears you down,

and your left feeling just a little….

Smiley 2

Luckily, you know that after a good nights sleep,

and quite possibly a hefty dose of chocolate therapy,

you can feel like this again in the morning…

Smiley 1

READY TO CONQUER THE WORLD!!

(or at least the two-year-old)

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Filed under Humor, Parenting

The One Regret

It’s the 5th. In some ways, the 5th is just as hard as the 7th. I have found that keeping busy on those days helps – it helps a lot.

Sunday Jacob wanted to talk about Lizy. It’s rather rare. He usually doesn’t usually say much about how he feels with everything.

I pulled him onto my lap and we put our foreheads together to have a whispered pow wow.

“Remember when Lizy got hurt and Dorothy was screaming her name?”

I winced. It was me screaming Lizy’s name. With everything happening. With the worry of what Dot saw I didn’t think about how he may not of seen everything but he heard it.

He continued. “And then when they were taking her out on the board, I wanted to say goodbye, but I didn’t get to say goodbye.”

My heart broke. Things happened so fast. We had Dot come to the hospital, but not the other children. Em has expressed regret at not saying goodbye either. They said goodbye at the funeral, but it wasn’t the same.

“I’m so sorry.” I whispered. I didn’t have anything better to say. There are no comforting words to such hurt and regret. I hugged him tight.

“Next time, can I say goodbye?”

I kissed his forehead. “I hope we never, ever, have anything like that happen again, but I promise if it does, I will do everything I possibly can to let you say goodbye.”

I meant it. If there were one thing I could change (besides the obvious) it would be that. The only regret about how it all happened. So fast and my mind not thinking properly. I should have brought them all the hospital.

I hope no one else is ever in a similar situation, especially some one I know – but if you are – let them say goodbye if you can. Please. I wish I had. I can’t change it. I can only pray and talk with them, and try not to be hard on myself, because no one thinks straight in those situations.

I love my family. Every single amazing one of them. I love places like Fernside that help us all be able to talk about things and uncover hidden emotions.  I am grateful everyday for the Atonement. I am grateful that no matter how alone I might feel or how hard things might be, He understands. He is there for me. He weeps with me. Through Him I can see Lizy again and through him myself and my family can find peace and comfort until that glorious day we are reunited.

“And he shall go forth suffering  pain and afflictions and temptations of every kind, and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh,  that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.” – Alma 7:11-12

“Each of us will have our own Fridays – those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays. But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death – Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come. No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, in this life or the next. Sunday will come.”  – Joseph B. Wirthlin

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Filed under Child loss, Parenting