Monday, December 30, 2013

Dear Grown Children

I knew this day would come but I didn't anticipate how hard it would be to actually let you go. I do want to thank you for sticking with us as long as you could because being the two oldest of eight cannot be an easy thing. Knowing I am losing 25% of my kids at one time is hard on my heart so tread lightly.

There are so many things I hope I have taught you and maybe I'm a little scared that I didn't. Just in case I didn't cover something, here are a few reminders before you go:

1 - Pay with cash as often as possible. You need a house to live in, a vehicle to drive and an education. You don't need new couches, expensive clothing or dinner out a 12% interest rate. Pay your tithing. Everything we have came from the Lord, all he asks is 10%. Be wise and always pay your debts on time.

2 - Serve others. You are entering a period of your life where you only have to be responsible for one person - YOU. You may have to deal with roommates or co-workers but it will be nothing like the service you gave to your family. Reach out and find small ways to serve every single day. It will help you see that there are others out there who need you.

3 - Finish your education. Remember that time when I had eight kids at home and I was going to college? It was really super hard. I regret not doing it when I was younger. No matter what you want to do with your life, get an education. I promise you won't regret it. And by education, I mean graduate from a trade school if that's where your career takes you but a Batchelor's degree will never hurt you.

4 - Choose The Right. That one seems pretty clear. Even though you are an adult now, it doesn't mean that you are perfect at making the right choices. Make your own rules in regards to curfews, sleepovers and what you put into your body and then follow those rules. Take precuations to avoid compulsive decision making. For example, eating out is an easy fix when you are hungry but it will suck your food budget quicker than you could suck my budget eating at home. Adults eat Mac and Cheese and Ramen and peanut butter sandwiches sometimes too, especially when they have tight budgets. You can always come eat with us if you want to.

5 - Take pride in your new home. Scrub the toilet, mop the floor, vacuum the floors and wash your dishes. A clean home is a happy home.  A spray bottle full of water and a small amount of bleach will kill a ton of germs but only if you use it. What if you brought a potential spouse over while dating and they were completely turned off by your filth? Don't be "that" person. If you need to bring your laundry home that's fine, but a laundromat might be more efficient depending on how far away you live from me. Remember to wash your clothes with the hottest water possible for the fabric.

6  - Remember that while you are so happy to be on your own, there is a hole the size of the Grand Canyon in my heart knowing you will most likely never be back for an extended period of time.  I am going to miss you. A phone call, a visit, a lunch date will be needed as (your dad and) I  try to respect your space and desire to be independent. Your younger siblings want to be a part of your life too. Take the babies to the park if you have some free time, invite the others to go hiking with you or go shopping. Remember that your siblings will always be there for you long after your friends have moved on with their lives. Come home for holidays if you are able. Thanktivus is our special December holiday that shouldn't interfere with other holidays and future family commitments. At least shoot for that one every year.

I hope that about covers it. Remember that even though you are living on your own, you will always be a part of our family. I love you and I hope I have taught you what you need to be an independent thinker and a righteous follower of Christ.

Love, Mom


Monday, December 9, 2013

Potty Training and Modern Medicine

I'm a wimp. I'm not a fan of natural childbirth. I joke that with baby #8 my epidural didn't work and that's why I'm never having another child again, ha ha. The truth is that the epidural man was my best friend for many years. When I went into labor, he was the first person we called. (Not really, but close.) I'm a huge fan of modern medicine. But, when I have a headache, I try drinking water, I suck on peppermint, I close my eyes for 15 minutes or so, etc. But if that doesn't do the trick, tylenol here I come. When I got nausea during pregnancy, I tried  eating crackers, sipping ginger ale, sucking on ginger, I even bought sea bands to wear on my wrists, etc. When that didn't work, I turned to my trusty Zofran to get through my day.

I like to think I have a good balance between "natural" remedies and modern medicine. I'm thankful for both and this is why.

When my daughter turned three, we started potty training. It was rough but I chalked up her failure to train due to my five year stint with no potty trainers in the house. I figured I had lost my skills.

When it came time to go to preschool, I don't know why I thought that was a good idea not being potty trained but maybe in my head I figured peer pressure was the ticket. Why wouldn't it work? I had tried everything else. Unfortunately it didn't change anything. By September I had her in pull ups and by January I just finally pulled her out. I resolved that it was psychological. For one month I ignored it and when she had an "accident," I simply reminded her to go change. The next month I spanked her (don't judge me). Another month I tried rewards, etc. My efforts were futile. I was trying to do this "naturally." It wasn't working.

So, at age five when her peers are all going to kindergarten, I decided that the fact she was missing out was going to be the ticket; I tried shame. She would ask why she couldn't go to kindergarten and I would explain that only big girls could go to school when they could stop peeing their pants.

The worst was when I finally made an appointment with a pediatric urologist and then told her they were going to stick a tube up her pee hole to find out what was wrong. (I know, Mother of the Year right here.) She cried and cried and then fessed up she was doing it on purpose so she could stay home with me because her friends told her how hard school was...

You have to be kidding me. For real? I called and cancelled the appointment.

So, I started "training" her one last time and she was totally on board. We set the timer and sat on the potty every 15 minutes for the first week and had very few accidents. The next week I shifted it to about every 30 minutes. More accidents. I was dying. I waited a few more weeks before I finally gave up. Something was wrong.

I finally called the urologist and made that appoinment...again. They could see me in three weeks. I bought a large package of pullups and went on with my life.

All went well at the appointment. They did an ultrasound and couldn't find anything abnormal there but a little fluid left in one kidney after she used the toilet that could be something but most likely it wasn't anything. I was getting discouraged. I actually prayed that they would find something physical with her because I wasn't sure I could deal with something psychologically wrong.

After visiting with the nurse practitioner for what seemed like an hour, we still had no clue as to what the problem might be until she asked one simple question,

 "What does she look like when she has to go to the bathroom?" 

I responded, "you mean the potty dance?"

"Yes, what does she do?"

I must have sat there and stared at her for close to two minutes mulling that one over before I responded, "I've never seen her do a potty dance."

Oh. My. Gosh. How did I miss that? She has never felt the urge to urinate. I was dumbfounded, how did I miss it?  As I reflected on the last two years, my hindsight became quite clear. She would pee her pants while walking, while sitting at the dinner table, while playing with friends. She had been wet for so long she no longer even noticed she was wet and was actually bothered when I made her change her pants. 

We discussed it further and came to the conclusion that maybe, just possibly, she had an immature bladder. That was our best lead. The good news? There is a medicine for that and it has been around for over 60 years. Who knew? The fix is a simple one, try the medicine and see if it helps. I agreed.

We discussed the side effects and the potential outcomes and came to the conclusion that this was the best road for us. We started on the lowest dose possible and after four weeks saw considerable improvement but still at least one or two accidents a day instead of 8-10. We increased the dosage at the four week mark and her success is noted by the fact that we have maybe one accident a week now. It's a miracle. A modern medicine miracle that I'm happy to be a part of. And the potty training is more or less complete. It only took me almost two years to announce that I have finished potty training eight children. It only took me 19 years to get it done, I think I deserve a reward of some sort.

The end.

Monday, December 2, 2013

I Don't Miss It

Circa 1997 My hands were full 
"They grow up so fast, in the blink of an eye," they said. I still resent those people who said it would go by so fast and I should cherish them while they are still young. Really? I had six kids under the age of 11 at one point, there was very little about my life that I cherished except maybe date night without the kids.

Cherish the stinky diapers, the vomit, the bed wetting, the whining, the dirty laundry that truly never ended, the sticky kitchen floor and towels dropped on the linoleum in the bathroom? Let's not forget the nausea, sciatica and discomfort of being pregnant for so many years and then having a baby stuck to my boob 24/7 for sustenance. What about those comatose days because the baby didn't sleep well during the night but the toddler was up at 6am as usual. Yeah...I don't think so.
Circa 2003 Survival Mode
Life is now way more fast paced than I could have envisioned and I'm seeing that I missed out on hugging my children more and telling them how much I love them. I might not have read to them as much as I wanted to or even cuddled them and tucked them in at night as often as I should have.  My older children may think it strange to encounter so much hugging from me since the first 14+ years of motherhood were sparse in the hugging category. Let's face it, I'm not a touchy feely person and I didn't make a big enough effort. I think I did other things that showed my kids how much I loved them though so I don't have any guilt. Survival mode is just what it sounds like.

My kids do things I like to do now, like football and basketball games, movies and restaurants that don't have a drive-thru. We cook together at home without making serious messes that result in my frustration in having to clean it up by myself. Sitting at the dinner table is enjoyable since I don't have six plates of meat to cut up and portion out. We talk about our day and laugh and make memories. Even though we still have two "babies," I have older kids to help out when I need another set of hands or free babysitting.
We all survived. Photo taken April 2013, oldest son on a mission
Nope, I don't miss those days at all. But I am cherishing the ones right now because I am truly happy being a mom at this stage. That is of course, until next month when my babies leave the nest...


Monday, October 28, 2013

Challenger Cheer Squad: How I Grow My Heart

Update: As of 10/31/2013, our team goal has been met and exceeded. We are so grateful for all the support that has been given to our team. If you still feel like you want to sponsor a special needs squad, there are Pop Warner leagues all over the country, please follow the link below to our national website and consider searching for a team in your local area. We will always need sponsors so keep us in mind for next year as well. In the last week, I have already heard from three new girls who want to join our squad for next year so our need will be even greater if we are invited to compete at the Regional level again. We want every child with special needs to have the chance to participate. Again, thank you for all your support.
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I have belonged to many organizations, specifically those dealing with coaching youth sports. But, the best one I've worked with EVER, is Pop Warner Football and Cheer. My husband and I have served on the board of directors many times and in many different positions as well as coaching. But the very best position I've ever held was this year, after 13 years of doing pretty much everything else, I finally had the opportunity to coach the Challenger Cheer Squad for South East Pop Warner. This organization covers Queen Creek and San Tan Valley and its surrounding areas.

My squad is made up of six girls with varying degrees of disabilities. Cerebral palsy, down syndrome, brain disorders and more. Truly I do not know any of the specifics of their struggles but after working with these girls for approximately for hours each week at practice and games, my heart has tripled in size because of the amount of love I get from these girls...all of them. While my squad is made up of only girls, we welcome any boys who want to participate as well. They can cheer with us, they can be water boys for the football team or whatever else they want to do.

I don't know if it is the same in all leagues, but in our league, we feel that taking care of a child with special needs has its own challenges and because we want these kids to participate, we don't want there ever to be a financial challenge because of it. We provide them with a uniform and equipment, coaching, the opportunity to cheer at football games and to learn a routine to perform at a competition. It is all FREE. This year we had a donation of a pop up shade and chairs, t-shirts, team and individual photos and competition music.

I knew this wasn't a job I could do myself so I recruited three girls from Combs High School who were familiar with cheerleading to be the real "coaches" for these girls. A) that helps me from having to demonstrate jumps cause nobody needs to see that, B) I needed someone who could teach the cheers and C) I wanted to create an opportunity for my coaches to interact with the girls they go to school with.

These girls are your typical teenagers; concerned about their looks, always wanting their picture taken, boy crazy and looking for respect from those around them. They are not typical in the amount of love they express and how they encourage each other and lift each other up when they are struggling. The bond of friendship between the girls and the coaches went beyond what I could possibly have imagined. They talk to each other at school, they text each other, they have truly become friends.

We worked hard from the beginning of August until our state competition on October 27th. These parents brought their kids to practices and games even when I absolutely know it would have been easier to stay home. They watched as we got their girls to do things that seemed too difficult for them and pushed them to get it right. Even though we were hard on them, we knew what they were capable of. This video is the culmination of their efforts. Grab a tissue.

www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=729973683684331&set=vb.248537068606047&type=3&theater Show message history

My girls were offered the chance to compete at Regionals in California in three weeks on November 24th. In keeping with the philosophy that we don't want to add a financial burden on these families, I am looking for sponsors to fund our trip. Any money raised will pay for hotel, food and gas for two days and one night in Long Beach, California. The money will pay for each girl and one parent along with my three coaches and myself to attend. We are willing to eat PB&J, carpool to CA and cram ourselves into the fewest hotel rooms if we have to but we still need your help. Would you consider a small donation for our team?

$25 = handwritten thank you note from the team
$50 = autographed team photo and thank you note
$100 = plaque to hang in your home or business, autographed photo and thank you note
$200 = Longhorns T-shirt or polo, a plaque, autographed photo and thank you note.

I estimate the cost of our trip will include but not be limited to:
Gas - with a dozen people, I expect three vehicles driving at $30 a tank/filled 3x = $270
Hotel - 3 rooms = $300
Food - 12 people, team dinner Saturday night nothing too fancy = $120
Food - Sunday morning team breakfast (hopefully covered by hotel) but if not = $120
Food - Lunch on both days, cheap fast food = $120

Total Goal = $930

Note: Any money left over at the end will be used to purchase a gift for each girl to be presented at the team party. If there is still excess, the funds will be held to start our team off right for next year.

I have three weeks to get it done. Can you help? Please use the PayPal button on the left of my blog. Please send me an e-mail to johnsonteammom@yahoo.com to let me know it is coming so I can keep track.

Thank you in advance.



Monday, August 12, 2013

Wuv, Twu Wuv

Please tell me you recognize that iconic phrase from Princess Bride movie?!?!

The subject of marriage has been on my mind for quite some time now.  Well, let's be honest, I met Ben when I was 17 so it has been on my mind for a SUPER long time.  This anniversary means we will have been married for 22 whole years.  When we had been married a short time, I told Ben I had never loved another boy as long as I had loved him.  He thought I was being corny.  OK, I was.

Several months ago he found several of the letters I had written to him while he was serving a mission for our church. In one of them I had answered his question as to if I remembered the first time he told me he loved me.  It brought back such sweet memories of me sitting in the driver seat of my red chevy pickup, my body turned facing him as I was getting ready to head home.  He kissed me and then he said it.  I replied back that I loved him too. I still feel weak in my knees and I get all twitterpated just remembering.  That was January 6, 1989.  I was a senior in high school and he was a newly turned 19 year old about to devote two years of his life to preaching the gospel to the people of South Korea.  That would have been 24 years this past January.  My how the time has flown.

We wrote letters every week and I do remember one sneaky phone call in the middle of the night while I was at college.  He had found a  phone card and how he knew my number I have no idea (I an not denying that I may have written it down for him in a letter but the adult me wonders why I would have done that while the young woman in me knows this was exactly why.)  He called me and explained about the phone card and not knowing how much time was actually on it.  We didn't talk but for just a few minutes but hearing his voice was pure joy.  We said I love you over and over and over again before we were disconnected.  I think he even has his side of the conversation tape recorded if I had the energy to go back and find it.  Not that it matters because I can relive that moment like it was yesterday.

A few short days after his return, we went on our "other" first date.  He took me to a dance at the ASU Institute.  As soon as we got out of the car before walking into the dance, I took a moment to ask him exactly where we stood as far as our relationship went (2 years is a long time).  His reply, "Right next to me," he grabbed my  hand and we went into the dance.  I'm not sure how I stood up on those wobbly legs as his words just melted me.  We were engaged a few weeks later.

The last 22 years have been wonderful but not without our challenges.  I would say for the most part, we have been exceptionally happy;  we have had sadness because of illnesses and death within our immediate families and have struggled with our share of health problems for our kids and each other.  We've moved houses 11 times and that doesn't include a few transitional weeks living with my parents or grandparents while we waited for a house.  We have lived the military life as well as civilian life.  We've been poor and we've had times of plenty.  We have been pregnant 10 times and have brought 8 beautiful children into the world.  Our testimonies have been challenged and strengthened and we have served in callings in the church we thought were way beyond our capacity (OK, that might have just been me).  We have been blessed beyond measure and my knees still feel wobbly when he walks into the room.

So for the last 22 years, I have stood right next to him through all the heartaches and joys that we have endured.  It hasn't been easy but it has been so far, a beautiful life together.  Thanks Babe, here's to many many more anniversaries and years of wobbly knees.  I haven't ever loved anyone as long (or as much) as I love you today.




Monday, July 8, 2013

The Food Fight

Less than a week from the end of the year, the kids at our local high school instigated a food fight. Several kids were suspended and were required to take their finals after school and several seniors were not allowed to walk at graduation (on the condition that they were eligible in the first place). It was on the news several times that night and it was all over Twitter and Facebook. This is big news to our community and devastating to our already struggling school.  A lot of people are upset with the way the administration handled the consequences. I get it. I'd be mad too if I had heard that my kid wasn't graduating because he was part of a food fight.

I want to make it clear that while I think the punishment doesn't quite fit the crime, what is really bothering me is the childish behavior on behalf of grown adults who have NO IDEA WHAT THE ENTIRE STORY REALLY IS. I suspect only the principal and parents really know both sides.  That being said, why do we all feel like we can start name calling and threatening the school via social media? Is that the example we are setting for our children? Is that how we deal with our problems nowadays?

I can't imagine it is easy being on either side of this issue.  As principal, the needs of the school as a whole as well as the safety of each child must be considered and consequences must be applied. Would community service in order to walk with his graduating class be punishment enough?  Is not letting him walk too much punishment? Not my call, I'm not the principal.  As a parent, I have the right to defend my child.  Do I want people to agree with me?  Absolutely.  I just think we've gone about it the wrong way and it makes me sick to see adults behaving as if their mothers hadn't taught them any better.

So maybe you think I am a softie.  It's true; I don't like confrontation one bit.  But I have tried (sometimes unsuccessfully) to teach my children how to deal with people in a civilized manner.  Talking badly about others on social media or behind their backs makes you more of a coward than I am.  I wrote my e-mail to the school and then I moved on.

No wonder there is a bully problem in our world.  No wonder.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Parenting Book Review

I love a good parenting book.
 “But this is a football book?” you argue. 
Why yes, it is.  And it is a WONDERFUL resource on how to run a family too!!
While Bronco isn’t the author of the book, he assisted them in putting together how to build a successful team by sharing the things he has done during his career as BYU head football coach.  Much of what he learned came from the mentoring of author Paul Gustavson and can be applied to managing a business, coaching a team or running a household.  

Bronco’s approach uses the analogy of five smooth stones, just like the ones that David used in the Bible to slay Goliath.  The chapters go in depth on how to apply these principles.

Smooth Stone #1 – Organizations Can Craft a Sustainable Competitive Advantage through Differentiation
Smooth Stone #2 – Organizations Are Perfectly Designed to Get the Results That They Get
Smooth Stone #3 – Organizations Are Made Up of Business Processes, and Not All Processes Are Created Equal
Smooth Stone #4 – Knowledge Is the Purest Form of Competitive Advantage
Smooth Stone #5 – Effective Leaders Capture Hearts and Minds

The book gives background on Bronco’s life and how he came to be the BYU head coach.  The next 11 chapters cover his program processes and the nuts and bolts of his program.  This was some fascinating information on how to run a successful football team.  They were all things you can apply in your own family, like differentiation, all work is not equal, knowledge and the impossible.

One of my favorite things about the book are the Quick Response (QR) codes throughout.  After reading about a process, you can link up to a youtube about what was just discussed.  For example, chapter 6 is titled Champions On and Off the Field.  On page 148, it gives the QR link to this video (see the video here).  I loved Bronco in real time talking about these principles.
 

The second section goes into great detail, the Smooth Stone analogy.  At the end of each chapter, they even give suggestions on how to apply the principles to your organization.

Bronco uses football as a vehicle to teach greater life lessons.  He emphasizes Faith, Family, Finding Knowledge, Friends, and then finally Football and in that order.

You don't have to be a football fan or a BYU fan to appreciate this book but if you are, it makes the reading that much better.  Go get yours today.




Friday, May 3, 2013

Bullying and the Sweetie Peace Conference

On a busy Thursday afternoon, my husband got a phone call from our 14 year old who called to say he had been in a fight. After making sure he was all right, we listened as he told his side of the story.

He had been hit from behind and quickly turned around with his fists up to defend himself. Luckily, nothing else happened. A teacher saw the whole thing and took them both to the office to meet with the principal. My son was allowed to go back to class and the other child was given a three-day suspension.  

When I figured out the other boy was my friend’s son, I immediately wanted to call and talk about it but we were on our way out of town. I decided to go with my "10 rule" (see that post here) before making the call.  I wasn't really mad because it turns out my son had been teasing this kid for quite a while. A few years to be exact...and I had no idea.

How is it that a good parent, like me, doesn't know her son is being a "bully" at school? He knows better. We talk about making good choices, we preach the Golden Rule, we pray for kindness and yet it still happened. I hate the label of "bully" because it makes him sound like he is one of "those" kids. My boy is good-hearted. If he had teased this boy only one time, I would have shrugged it off. But he had been doing it for a few years. That is bullying.

I realize at the middle school, hormones are out of control and fighting happens. The fear of being unpopular is a serious threat and putting others down by teasing and making rude comments has been happening since preteens were created. And I don’t condone it.

But today I want to give props to the kid who finally did something about it. I'm sorry it took you so long to let it be known you were sick of his teasing. I'm sorry you let someone treat you badly for so long without saying something. I'm especially embarrassed it was a fellow Aaronic Priesthood holder from a church that preaches how we should be more like Christ. Neither kid’s actions were Christlike but kudos for your courage in standing up to your bully and letting him know you are done.

I called my friend when we got home from our trip and together we schemed to get the two boys to talk to each other at the local frozen yogurt place called Sweetie Peaz. I told my son that morning I was taking him there to meet with the boy and his mom. He was less than happy. He dubbed it the Sweetie Peace Conference.  (See, he is a cute kid!!)

We arrived, got our yogurt and found chairs to sit on outside to keep the conversation a little more private. We gave each boy a chance to tell their side of the story before chiming in with our own take on the event. The phrases,"you shouldn't have hit him" and "you shouldn't have been bullying him" were repeated and a conversation about bullying ensued. They said they were sorry and we each went our separate ways.

My family made fun of me for going to the effort of meeting with the other kid but I'm glad I did it. Will it end his bullying? Maybe...maybe not, but I hope so. Will I know if he is bullying other kids?  Probably not. Will I continue being vigilant in reminding my children of the importance in being respectful towards others? Absolutely. But I can only do so much.

We live in a society of victims. This is where we all can do our part to end bullying. Teach your children to stand up for themselves. I'm not talking about fighting. I'm talking about defending themselves and knowing you have their back. When they tell you so-and-so is calling them names, ask them if they really think that’s who they are. For example, my four year old often comes to me telling me her 3 year old brother said she was a poo-poo head. I say to her, "Well, are you a poo-poo head?"  Her response is always “no” and I confirm to her that she is right. She is a smart and beautiful girl who shouldn't let her little brother say naughty things about her. I tell her to go back and let him know she is not a poo-poo head and to stop calling names. Usually that is the end of the discussion.  

With my older kids, I have always let them know I stand behind them if they have to defend themselves. I tell them, “If someone is calling you names, tell them to stop and tell them they are wrong.  Have courage and confidence.”  Okay, maybe not in those words exactly but you get the gist. I want to relate a story to you that illustrates my point.  

When my brother was in junior high school, he was having problems at the bus stop with a kid who wanted to fight him.  My dad told him he wasn’t allowed to throw the first punch but he was allowed to defend himself.  If the boy punched him, he was to tell him to stop. If he punched him again, he could fight back. Sure enough, the boy punched my brother and my brother told him to knock it off. The boy punched him again and my brother hit him hard enough to end the fight. The bus arrived, they were driven to school and both taken directly to the principal's office by the bus driver. (I believe school bus stops are technically school property). Each parent was called and when the truth came out that my brother had in fact hit him back after being hit first, my dad told the principal that those were the instructions he had given his son.  

The issue of bullying is out of control because kids know if someone looks at them wrong, they can run to mommy or daddy and be rescued. We want our kids to run to us so we can soothe them and teach them skills to deal with their problems, not to fix it for them. What will your child do if he is bullied in the workplace as an adult? I have had two adult children bullied at work and I’m so glad they had the confidence and skills to take care of themselves. They could have easily quit and given up.

We need to love and nurture our children without making them incapable of solving their own problems. We can’t put all the focus on how to fix the bully issue without addressing a larger issue of a growing generation of kids who lack the confidence and skills to stand up for themselves when things get hard.  Encourage your kids to talk to you, acknowledge their struggle, teach them coping skills and give them the confidence to stand up for themselves. It might take time and it will certainly take patience on your part.  Your heart may even break at times but that is what will end the bully problem.  

Post Edit:  I want to make it clear that I do realize there may be circumstances beyond your child's control due to severe and excessive bullying, disabilities, etc.  I do not want anyone to think that I am against going to the teacher/administration/parent of someone who is a bully. I do think there are appropriate steps to take before that happens and that is what I'm talking about here. At that point, I totally support you going "Mama or Papa Bear" in defense of your child. That's your job.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Are you a Gem of a husband?

I recently had dinner with three wonderful friends I met while attending ASU.  We are all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we each hold a batchelor’s degree or better and we all are mothers and were or are married for more than ten years.  The thing that makes us different is that two of these women are divorced.  One of them I have only known since after her divorce.  She is beautiful, intelligent and devoted and among her other talents.  She has always been (to me), happy and content with the direction her life is going.  That isn’t to say it has been easy, but where she is today is more peaceful than when she was married.

My other friend has only been divorced for a few months.  She has always been beautiful, intelligent, devoted and insightful but only until recently did she seem happy like my other friend. Her countenance had significantly changed and the light was shining from her like I hadn't seen before.

As some women do, we were talking about the ups and downs of marriage (nothing specific, but general thoughts).  I was quiet as I listened to the adventures of the dating world and we discussed the world of men, both single and married.  I was fairly quiet as I listened to my divorced friends talk about the sadness that accompanied their marriages.  I will admit that I even wept for them right there over my prime rib and sweet potato.  My heart just ached for these women.  My married friend talked about health problems that can also cause hiccups in an otherwise good marriage. 

He's not perfect but he's a gem.
I almost immediately wanted to run home into the arms of my husband who was at home wrestling with our little ones and getting them ready for bed.  I wanted to tell him how lucky I was to have him.  As I listened to these women, I knew I had a gem of a husband.  Don’t get me wrong, my husband isn’t perfect, but I will clean up his homemade popcorn and diet Mountain Dew messes forever if that is the worst of it.  So for the last few days I have been trying to come up with a few things that make a good husband great.  Would you believe I only came up with two?

Put God first.  Whether you are a member of my faith or any other faith, Heavenly Father needs to be first in your life. It isn’t just a matter of saying you do, but acting like you do. Do you fulfill your callings at church to the best of your ability?  Do you have personal prayer and scripture study regularly?  Do you lead righteously as head of your family by calling for Family Home evening, family prayer and scripture study?  Do you honor your priesthood by serving in your quorum?  Do you do your home teaching?  I have found that out of all the extra-curricular things my husband does (and there are a lot of them), I have never been upset or frustrated about him not being home when he was out doing the Lord’s work.

Second, family always comes first…after Heavenly Father.  I have found that if you are putting your faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, this will naturally happen.  You will WANT to be with your family and serve them because of your desire to serve God.  I think sometimes men in general, because of the traditional demands placed on them to be providers for their family sometimes forget that their wife comes first.  Yes, coaching your kid's baseball team is important but not as important as your relationship with your wife. There will be a day when the kids are gone and you and your wife will be the only ones left.  What kind of relationship will you have then?

Above all, make sure you date your wife regularly.  I’m not talking every other month or so.  If possible, take her on a date every single week.  She needs it.  She wants it.  She must have it.  As the mother of eight, I can tell you that the sacrifices we had to make because of finances, babysitter issues and scheduling conflicts were always absolutely worth it.  Our outings are rarely expensive and I have shared many times how when we were younger, we spent our entire date night budget on the babysitter (there wasn’t that much to begin with.)  We shared a soda and sat in the car under the runway on the military base and watched the jets take off while we stared at the stars and just talked about stuff.

In addition to family first, please respect your wife as a person and her responsibilities at home.  If you think being a stay at home mother is easy, I challenge you to send your wife away for a week and see how you do.  It is tiring, it is mentally and emotionally draining and sometimes it is extremely lonely.  Add to that, many women are working part time or full time jobs as well.  Clear the dishes and load them into the dishwasher, run the vacuum in the family room or surprise her with pizza for dinner.  Thank her for being awesome even if by the looks of the house you wonder if she was on Facebook all day. (You could send her a FB message telling her how awesome she is and she would love it.)  Hold her hand and tell her she is beautiful.  Remind her that she is and will always be your favorite member of the family and tell the kids how much you love their mom.  Make out on the couch in front of them once in a while.  They will be embarrassed but your actions will say a thousand words. 

Lastly, she is not your mother, she is MORE IMPORTANT than your mother.  No matter your relationship with your mother, ALWAYS choose to be on your wife’s side of family matters.  Please put a picture of your wife on your desk, next to your bed or as your screensaver.  Hang your wedding picture where your kids can see it.  Honor your wife  the way you want her to honor you.

I think most everything else falls into one of these two categories.  Put God first in your life and your family next.  It won’t be easy at times; there will be hiccups in your life that cause you to lose sight or get off track from what is important.  Repent and move back to the right choices immediately and don’t be so proud that you can’t ask for help either.  Ask a friend, your Elder’s Quorum or High Priest leader.  

How about asking your wife?!?!?!?! 

Now get off the computer and go kiss your wife…right now. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter

We took the kids to the Easter Pageant.  For more information on that, click here.  Our 12 year old daughter Katy was able to invite a non member friend to go with us.  It is a pageant about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It is fabulous and I have fond memories of going as a child.

We stopped and got Ned's Krazy Subs "to go" and we took our blankets and ate our dinner picnic style on the lawn of the temple.  We always sit on the lawn, I think it is more intimate and personal to be huddled together with my family.

My babies, Anny age 4 and Derek age 3 would not stop asking me questions all throughout the performance.  I'm glad they have a basic knowledge of Jesus Christ but at times I wanted them to just stop talking so I could enjoy it in peace but who tells their kids to be quiet and stop asking questions about Jesus?  For reals.  Anyway, I tried to be patient.

When Jesus was hanging on the cross, I thought Anny was going to cry.  She kept saying, "this is so sad, why would they do that?"  Even Derek was mesmerized.

We enjoyed the parable of the Ten Virgins (my favorite bible story) as they danced and carried their lamps.  We talked about the importance of knowing the Savior for ourselves so we will be ready when he comes again and I felt the spirit as we quietly whispered to each other.
Someday Anny will have two "big" hands.

The most awesome moment was at the end after Christ's
death when the angels are rejoicing in his resurrection.  Atop the large stage, dozens of angels singing and rejoicing and the music was wonderful and inspiring and loud; so loud that it covered the shriek of happiness that came from Anny when she saw Christ rising up from behind all the angels.  We laughed and cried at the same time.  When it was over, we reminded the kids that our bodies will die someday and we will return to our Father in Heaven just like Jesus did.  But that because of our Savior's sacrifice, our bodies will rise again and be resurrected.  All the things that were wrong with our bodies will become perfected and we will be whole.  This she reminded us gently that it will be the best day because, "I will have two big hands and no little hands."

My tears flowed freely as she remembered a principle we have taught her over and over again.  My testimony is sure that we have a loving brother Jesus Christ who suffered for our sins, died and was then resurrected just as we will.  I am indebted to my elder brother for his sacrifice and example.  I know Christ lives and loves each of us.  I want to live my life worth of that sacrifice.

I can't wait till next year...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Poetry Month is in April - I'm getting ready

I posted earlier this month about how to write an acrostic poem.  Today I learned from my author friend Theresa how to write a cinquain poem.  It really took me back to my elementary school days and I loved it.  Find her post here on how to write one and then try it out yourself.  I'd love to see what you come up with.  Here's a few of mine:




Brothers
Incredible Bond
Making Moments Count
Setting a good example
Forever











Missionary
Service, Exhausted
Walking, Praying, Teaching
Teaching others about Christ
Vance




Sleepy
Always Needs Nap
Searching for ways to cope
Ending up at the pop store
Stacy




So let me see what you come up with!!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Why Is This Such Sensational News?

I love my job as a writer for The Beehive.  I have met some pretty awesome individuals over the years as I have done interviews.  I have decided my favorite people to write about are the youth.  I like to get people excited about the future generation and what they have to offer.

My latest article is about Chy Johnson (no relation), who is a special needs student at a nearby high school who was struggling with bullies.  You can read it here.

The one thing that I like about my blog is that I can express my opinion where in the article I cannot.  What I wish I could have said (besides how awesome I think these boys are), is that I wish this didn't have to be such a unique story...I wish this was just an every day, run of the mill news article we watched on the television every single day.  Why is it so sensational to hear that a boy and his teammates were nice to this girl who was being bullied?  I would like to think that this happens every day all over the world.  The truth is, that I know it happens, but why don't we hear more of these kinds of stories?  My theory? Because people are reading or hearing about it and thinking to themselves, "this is too good to be true."  Well I know Chy and her family and I know this story is for real.

Carson was the football player Chy's mom sent an e-mail to asking for names of who he thought was doing the bullying.  No names were given, he decided instead to take action.  He invited Chy to eat at his lunch table and she had an escort to each class from that day on.  According to Carson's mom, she didn't even know there was anything monumental going on until she read about it in the local paper.  That says to me, that Carson and his friends were just doing what they knew was right.  It wasn't something they really thought about or planned, they just went and did it, with no idea that it would turn into a news story covered across the nation and in other parts of the world.  They did it because it was the right thing to do.

Is it really too good to be true?  I say no.  I say this is just one of the many stories of compassion, friendship and love that goes on every single day around us. Think about it.  Really consider the kindness showed to you as you went about your day today.  Someone smiled at you or said thank you, maybe held the door open for you.  Those are seemingly small things that make a big difference not only for the recipient but for the giver.

You know what would make me start watching the news again?  (I stopped several years ago because I was sick of the hatred and violence and narcissism ). I would love to write an article about the lady at Circle K who occasionally gives my kids their drinks for free because she likes them, or the man in front of me in the drive thru who paid my bill anonymously.  I'd like to turn on the news and hear the news anchor ask a homeless person, "what were you thinking when the pizza delivery guy handed you the pizza and told you it was already paid for?"  I want to hear stories about kids who learn to play the piano despite having no fingers on one hand or blow everyone away on America's Got Talent  t.v. show despite the fact that they have never had a formal voice lesson but sing like an angel.  I want to hear about the good feeling the older woman in the post office had when the teenagers offered to carry her packages inside for her.  Yep, that's what I want to be sensationalized on television news broadcasts.  That might get me watching the news again...

Do you have a great news story?  One you think needs to be shared?  Let me know, I'd love to spread the word.




Managing Finances...Women's Conference part 3

I feel like this could be its own series in itself but suffice it to say that money is a part of keeping our homes, is it not?

I'm not a professional on this topic, I can hardly balance my own checkbook, let alone give advice.  I live paycheck to paycheck, sometimes stretch myself further than I should and waste money on things that have very little lasting value...like many people I know.

But there is one thing I do know:  When I start spending more than is coming in, the problems start.

Budgeting is key. Because I'm horrible about writing checks and not remembering to log them, I stopped writing checks.  I am on a strict cash only basis and I'm not always as vigilant as I ought to, but I'm getting better.  I find that I spend less, I am more careful about my purchases and I have learned how to say no to lots of extra things that don't have lasting value (except for maybe my diet pepsi splurges).  This works for me.

There are lots of wonderful resources out there for managing our finances.  Dave Ramsey is one of my most favorites.  You can find lots of good ideas by searching the internet also.

Things I've learned about money:

Not having ice cream in the freezer is never an emergency.
If I consolidate my errands, I save time and gas.
If I buy certain vegetables in bulk for much cheaper, then take them home, cut them up and freeze them, I save time and money.  Onions and bell peppers are a good example.
It's embarassing to owe people money.

If I pay my tithing first, I am blessed.  Always, every single time.

I'm sure there are more but like I said, I'm no expert. When I am careful with my money, my marriage is better and I have less stress.  And that's all I have to say about that.

Next:  Prioritize and Simplify





Monday, March 4, 2013

Managing Distractions...Women's Conference part 2

As part of the topic of House of Order, House of God explained in my last post, one of the things we focused on was how to manage the many things that distract us.  There are lots, aren't there?  Books, television, computer, cleaning up messes, breaking up fights, lunch with friends, hobbies, sexy  husbands (ha ha), and a myriad of specific things that could fall into any of those categories.

This is part of my job ?  I say yes, guilt free.
To start off, I would argue that things like cleaning up messes, breaking up fights, making lunch, taking care of the kids, etc. fall into the category I like to think of as part of my "job" as a keeper of the house.  If I look at it that way, then I don't see them as a waste of my time or effort in keeping my house, I see it as something that I am responsible for taking care of (or at least one of the parental units is responsible).  So, when I look at the other things, that is where I find my problems lie...

I don't have many hobbies.  I am not crafty.  I do have a pinterest account of all the beautiful things I would love to have in my home, but they are there mostly as a suggestion for anyone looking to purchase me a gift for my home, take your pick hint hint.  I don't enjoy too many hobbies besides running (but we all should exercise, shouldn't we?) and writing (and I look at that also as a job since sometimes I get paid for it).  I don't like to decorate, paint, create jewelry, scrapbook, paper craft, etc.  But I know some of you do.

I insist that we ought to have something that is ours and ours alone.  Something to break up the monotony of what we sometimes think of as drudgery when it comes to keeping house.  Everyone needs something to escape to...every once in a while.  But with that escape there needs to be a balance.

Office cleaning overwhelms me.  Let's go to lunch.
My most severe distraction is the computer.  Since I'm on it a lot for work, it would be easy for me when I'm sitting here, to say I'm just gonna check my Facebook for a minute and then get back to work when in reality we all know I might not.  For some it is a book or television.  I have also found myself saying yes to a lunch date when I ought to stay home and straighten up.  Truth is, sometimes I get overwhelmed with the amount of work I know it will take to get it clean so avoidance is a great distraction for me.

So, what do I do to manage my distractions?  I use the reward system.  After I have cleaned the bathroom, I get 10 minutes on Facebook or a chapter or two in a book.  Kitchen dishes done and counters wiped off?  10 minutes on FB.  I just read books to my babies for over 1/2 hour so I deserve to read a chapter or two in my own book.  Maybe you like to watch t.v?  Record your shows and then reward yourself for vacuuming a few rooms with 20 minutes to just sit and relax and watch.  No DVR?  Maybe clean up the bookshelves during commercials or fold clothes while you watch.  I'm all about multitasking.  I can get done in the 3 minutes of commercials than most people do in half an hour.  They key to it is making sure your 10 minutes don't turn into an hour or one chapter into five.  I have used the timer feature on my phone before and have disciplined myself to get up and walk away when it goes off.

Maybe you need to do something more drastic like turn the Facebook app off on your cell phone or simply put it on silent while you work.  There are tons of ways to manage our distractions, the problem is making it a priority.  Only you know what your worst distractions are and the best solution in managing them.  So, tell me what is your biggest distraction is and how  do you manage to work around it?

Next: Managing Finances...Women's Conference part 3

Thursday, February 28, 2013

What I wish I had said...Women's Conference part 1

I was asked to give a presentation at our stake women's conference last weekend.  I stressed about it and worried about it for several weeks.  I didn't sleep (I wish I hadn't eaten but I did the opposite), I couldn't relax or really think about anything else.  I'm sure my friends were sick of me asking them what they thought on the topic.  The truth of it was...I didn't feel worthy to address this topic.

House of Order, House of God

My friends and family are all laughing pretty good right about now.  I'm not a great housekeeper.  End of story.  And, to top it off, most of the time I'm not that worried about it ever getting clean.  So, how am I going to talk to a group of 300 or so women about House of Order, House of God?  And then it dawned on me.  I'm doing the best job that I can do for ME and MY family, so that's what I tried to convey.

We talked about some of the reasons we don't have perfect homes.  Some of us haven't ever been taught, some of us are rebelling, and some of us are just so overwhelmed at times that we give up.  I had a friend tell me recently that she is afraid to try because she knows she will fail and she doesn't want that kind of stress.  I understand all of those reasons and the many others that we came up with.  I just wish we weren't so hard on ourselves.

We are working mothers, some of us, we are raising our children, we are involved in civic, school and community activities, not to mention providing the basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter for our kids. We volunteer at church and have a responsibility to watch over and care for our friends and neighbors.  Sometimes cleaning up our homes is the last thing on the list, sometimes for many years.

I heard a funny quote once that said, "Cleaning your house while children are growing is like shoveling snow while it's still snowing."  I think that is absolutely true.  When I had six children under the age of 11, the last thing on my list of stuff to get done was clean the house, it seemed so pointless.  Of course, it may have been nearer the top of the actual list, but feeding the baby, grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning up spilled kool-aid and carpool usually took up most of the day and by the end, I just wanted to go to sleep.  I ignored my house for a long time.

It wasn't that it wasn't clean underneath (I know how to scrub a toilet and mop the floor), it's just that with so many people living under one roof with their combined total of activities, it wasn't my priority.  Was I embarrassed?  Maybe.  I kept the front room pretty clean and inviting so that I could let people in, but beyond that, you entered at your own risk.  Some might think I'm exaggerating but in my eyes, I was the worst.

As I've gotten older, I've made it more of a priority (even if that means I have to pay someone every once in a while).  My kids are older now and more able to be (really) responsible for their chores around the house.  It's one thing to have six kids under age 11 doing their chores than it is to have eight children under the age of 19 doing chores.  With age comes wisdom.

My chore charts have evolved too and I've taken on more of a zone defense rather than man to man.  I used to assign someone the job of picking up the toys on the family room floor.  Now, they are in charge of straightening up the family room.  Sometimes that means putting away toys, but more often than not, it means putting the cushions back on the couch, finding the DVD case for the movie found under the couch and putting away all the dirty socks and shoes and dirty dishes that didn't belong in there in the first place.  They know what needs to be done, when it needs to be completed and the consequence for not getting it done.

Even then, my house is rarely super clean.  All of my children would have to get their jobs done all at the same time on the same day for that to happen.  And that just isn't going to happen...

Having said that, the point that I really wanted to make was that 1 - Your house will never be perfect.  With the business of our lives, we must accept that our houses will only be as clean and orderly as we want them to be.  Until we made the decision to put it higher on the priority list, we need to stop worrying about it so much.  2 - Pat yourself on the back once in a while and consider all that you have to accomplish in one day.  You are doing more to create an orderly home than you think.  It will get better, I promise you.  And 3 - I know you hear it from "older" people all the time, but I tell you it is true: You will miss it when it's gone.  As much as I couldn't stand the mess that came from my 19 year old, I miss him.  I miss the music blaring from his room, I miss the smell of his running shoes, socks, shorts, t-shirts strewn all over his bedroom (but not that much), and I miss the crumbs from the bazillion peanut butter sandwiches he would make throughout the day.  I seriously do.

So, maybe it took me almost 20 years of keeping house but I have learned to let things go a little more.  When we go to pick up the books that somehow manage to all be on the floor in front of the bookshelf ten times a day and end up sitting there and reading them instead of cleaning them up, it's o.k., they will still be there tomorrow.  When my family sits around the dinner table long after the meal is over talking and laughing about the day/week's events and then we all rush off to a football/basketball/volleyball/cheerleading/
Photochoir/band/scouts/activity days/young women's/booster club/bishopric/or "whatever" event without doing the dishes, it's o.k., they will still be there tomorrow, along with  a billion or so other things that I didn't get around to today.  But, my kids and husband might not.

So, today I will do my best with what I think is important and remember the words of this cross stitch my mother made and had hanging in her room for 30 or so years...it will be hanging in my office as soon as decorating/organizing my office gets higher on my priority list.

Next: Part 2: Managing Distractions

Friday, February 8, 2013

I'm A Poet and I Didn't Even Know It...ha ha ha, not really

I have a lot to say.  I have these things all stuck in my head and they need to come out.  It isn't necessarily because I think anyone else needs to read or hear it, but if I don't write about it, it stays stuck there.  It causes me to lose sleep and to be distracted when I'm awake so I write.

I belong to a fabulous group of LDS writers called ANWA (American Night Writers Association).  I have been a member for over ten years now and have appreciated the things I have learned and accomplished.  It is through this group that I found an outlet for the crazy stuff inside my head and how to get it out there.

I don't write a lot of stuff for the general public, but I do write a lot.  I write for a newspaper called The Beehive (you can read my latest article here), I have been published in our local Independent paper, I am on Facebook more than necessary and I blog.  I even wrote a fictional story a while back that needs some serious editing.

Writing is a major outlet for my creativity.  But I'm a mother and wife first so sometimes my writing gets put on the back burner.  That's why I love my writer's group so much.  It gives me a reason to write something...anything, to keep the creative juices flowing, even if it is only once a month we get together.  

At our meeting last night, we learned about Acrostic poems.  Basically, you take a word and write it down, like this:
S
T
A
C
Y
So, the subject of my acrostic poem will be Stacy...me.  Then, you start your poem by using the letter at the beginning of each line to create your poem.  Here is an example:

Someone once said
That I could become whatever I wanted
And so I set out to be a 
Career girl, then motherhood called and I answered
Yes.

So, that is kinda cheesy but you get the point.  It can also be something like this:

Words all jumbled inside my brain.
Really wanting to be shared.
In the quiet hours of the night or day.
The keyboard gets used.
Everyday I try to carve out time.
Reassured that someday when the kids are grown, the time will come.

Haha.  I'm the worst!! But it is kinda fun to see what you can come up with.  So, stop what you're doing and write me an acrostic poem in the comments, seriously, those took me like five minutes, obviously...Get those creative juices flowing, I dare you.  I'd love to see what you come up with.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Technology Is Awesome and It Is Not Awesome

I love technology (but maybe not as much as Ben).  We are hooked up to the internet so many ways at  our house including phones, ipad, computers and satellite t.v.  I have some awesome apps on my phone that help me use my brain like Words with Friends and Ruzzle.  I love listening to music without too much commercial interruption by using Pandora, I have the scriptures and other gospel resources at my fingertips with LDS Tools, Gospel Library, Mormon Channel and Indexing.  I can read from my favorite books while sitting in my car waiting for children to be picked up by using my Kindle, Deseret Bookshelf, or listening through Audible.  I take pictures of my kids and upload them to Instagram and Facebook with one click of a button and I rarely miss an e-mail because I get that on my phone too.  My State Farm Pocket Agent saved me from getting a ticket the other day because of no proof of insurance and I save money at Hobby Lobby with my coupon app.  I check my bank account from my phone and I can even watch movies from Netflix.  All these apps were free plus many others I use on a regular basis.  I absolutely love my phone and everything it does for me. 

But in the same breath I hate it.  I hate that I sometimes feel dependent on it. I wish I didn't feel like it is some sort of lifeline and I can't live without it.  I try to keep it in my purse or leave it upstairs while I am downstairs, but eventually it finds me and I get caught up in my technology love affair.

Many times I feel like I have lost all my manners.  I still remember when call waiting first became popular and I'd be talking to someone and another call would come in and the person I was talking to would say, "Hold on, someone else is calling," and put me on hold.  That might be innocent enough but what I heard was, "someone more important than you is calling so I'll get back to you."

When I drive in the car with my kids, sometimes I pull out my phone (if they are driving, not me) so I can hurry and get some e-mails answered during my "down" time.  If I'm driving, I tell them to pull out my phone and send a text for me.  What a wasted opportunity while I have my kid's undivided attention to talk to them.

The other night, the whole family was upstairs watching t.v. and I think Ben counted 4 of us on phones, one on his ipod and one on the ipad.  Talk about multitasking in the worst way...it's making me sick.

I think we've lost our ability to have real conversations one with another.  Our attention spans are growing shorter because we have to be using our phone while having a conversation.  It is frustrating me to death.  But guess what?  I still do it.  I know how I feel when I'm trying to talk to someone and they keep checking their phone. I feel so unimportant, as if they are waiting for something better to happen because I'm not interesting enough.  I'm completely guilty of it too.  I'm not laying blame anywhere I don't already have personal guilt.  I still have to remind my children that the kitchen table is a cell phone free zone.  Why do I have to keep repeating myself?  Because we are addicted.

My family is gonna hate me cause I'm cracking down. Starting today, there is going to be a new set of rules in our house.  So, if you can't get me on my cell phone, Facebook, blog comment, e-mail, text or house phone, just come over to my house and visit with me and I promise I won't pull my phone out and look at it.

Out of curiosity, what are your technology rules at your house?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Possibility of Marriage


"When a couple have commenced a marriage based upon reasonable standards, no combination of power can destroy that marriage except the power within either or both of the spouses themselves; and they must assume the responsibility generally. Other people and agencies may influence for good or bad; financial, social, political, and other situations may seem to have a bearing. But the marriage depends first and always on the two spouses, who can always make their marriage successful and happy if they are determined, unselfish, and righteous.

The formula is simple; the ingredients are few, though there are many amplifications of each.
First, there must be the proper approach toward marriage, which contemplates the selection of a spouse who reaches as nearly as possible the pinnacle of perfection in all the matters that are of importance to the individuals. Then those two parties must come to the altar in the temple realizing that they must work hard toward this successful joint living.

Second, there must be great unselfishness, forgetting self and directing all of the family life and all pertaining thereunto to the good of the family, and subjugating self.

Third, there must be continued courting and expressions of affection, kindness, and consideration to keep love alive and growing.

Fourth, there must be complete living of the commandments of the Lord as defined in the gospel of Jesus Christ." - "Marriage and Divorce" by Pres. Spencer W. Kimball 

I would say that I have always thought this simple formula to be true.  It's good to have someone like a prophet of the Lord to back me up on it.

I was blessed by good examples of strong marriages throughout my life.  My grandparents, my parents, aunts and uncles and friends.  When I became a little older, I began to see that their lives weren't without struggles or sadness, but they learned to work through them in order to keep their marriage strong. I can still remember my dad kissing my mom in the kitchen when he got home from work and all of us laughing or being grossed out.  To this day, I remember the feeling I had when I saw him do that, that I knew they loved each other even when at other times I saw them disagree.

By the time I was old enough to go away to college, I met lots of wonderful young men.  I dated and hung out with friends and wished I could already be married.  By the time I finished my only year away at school, I looked back and realized that I had only dated pre-missionary boys.  I think that was not by accident.  I truly think that Heavenly Father knew in my heart that I could have married any one of those boys but my heart was already taken by one.

When he and I met with his stake president before our wedding, his stake president told Ben, "Always put her first in all situations and you will be a happy man."  The first couple years of our marriage, every once in a while he would ask me if I was happy just to be sure.  So sweet.

What I really want to point out here, is that I have the firm belief that any marriage can work out.  Having 
said that, they can only work out when both parties are following this simple formula as stated above.  I would like to elaborate on those four principles briefly from my own experience:

1 - I think I selected a spouse who is as close to perfection for me as I could have asked for.  We have similar goals and interests and a mutual respect for allowing each other to participate in things that don't interest each other.  Having said that, he is nowhere near perfect and neither am I.  Mr./Mrs. Perfect does not exist.  It makes me crazy when Ben leaves his toiletries on the bathroom counter each morning, when I find cans of Mt. Dew  around the house, and can you believe I married a man who makes mouth noises?  Gross.  But, in the grand scheme of things, these aren't important and I learned a long time ago that it is easier to clean up a few things or roll over and put the pillow over my head when I'm trying to go to sleep...and I'm not going to be mad about it either, which leads me to #2.

2 - I'm happy to sacrifice a few moments of picking up instead of the constant nagging that could ensue instead.  Some may see my sacrifice to delay a career for having a family as a complete sacrifice of my life.  I don't see it that way.  I choose to see that the things I sacrifice for my family are part of the job I agreed to 20 years ago when we started our family.  On the flip side, Ben sacrifices his time and money to allow me to be a stay home mom for all these years.  It has put a financial strain on him and I am completely aware of the fact that he sacrifices much for our family as well.  The fact that I'm sitting here blogging while all around me there is laundry to be done, dinner to prepare and a house to straighten is proof that he is willing to sacrifice a little bit of his sanity to let me have this outlet of writing in order to keep my own sanity.

3 - I could not have the strong marriage I have now if it weren't for the continued courtship we enjoy.  We go on a date regularly, if not every week. When our kids were little and I was at home literally all day and we had no money so we rarely went out, I finally told him I needed to remember what it was like to be me, to be Stacy his wife and not just the mother of his children. (I truthfully wanted a reason to get out of my sweatpants and put on a skirt)  Since that time, it is a rarity that we miss a date night.  When he takes me out, I am reminded that I am the most important person in his life.  

4 - I am in awe of marriages that are able to stay together without their knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That isn't to say that it can't be done.  I just know that my perspective on the fact that this life isn't the end, nor is it even the largest part of our existence makes this earth life a tad bit easier.  It's like knowing there is a happy ending at the end of the movie or having a tag team partner in the wrestling match of life.  I firmly believe that two people who put Christ first in their marriage can overcome pretty much anything.  
Like I said earlier.  I married when I was young and naive.  I can't imagine the amount of courage it would take for me to join my life to someone else even in my later 20's or 30's after being single and on my own for a while.

We got married when I was barely 20 years old.  I was young and stupid, or maybe Ben was, but whatever:)  I had visions of a life full of traveling, business dealings and sexy shoes.  Anything was possible at that point because of my naive personality and ambition to do/be whatever I wanted.  Marrying Ben was one of the easier paths I chose in my life. 

We learned early on in our marriage how to manage our disagreements and how to live with another person.  Neither of us had lived alone for a great period of time if at all so we didn't have any pre-conceived notions of how we liked things.  The first time we had a really heated argument, he left our apartment in anger.  I cried and cried, until I finally went outside of our apartment complex and waited for him to return because in my young heart, I was afraid he wouldn't. Upon his return, we both decided that no argument was worth causing the other person that much pain.  We haven't had an argument like that since.  Yes, we disagree, but we usually work it out fairly quickly.  

But in the end, I think that choosing to be married to someone who loves the Lord and binding yourself to a person who is willing to sacrifice some of him/herself for you without either of you knowing what the outcome will be but still wants to jumps off the cliff telling you it's all gonna be o.k. while holding your hand, the journey is going to be awesome and totally worth it.  Totally and completely. No matter what.  

*For those of you who would like to know more about what our church believes or why we believe so strongly in the concept of marriage/family, please go here and here.



Monday, January 28, 2013

Potty Training and chastity

I'm two weeks into the process of potty training child #8.  I think my reward for even having that many children is that the last two should have been born potty trained!  But, so far so good.  I was going to work on it the first week the kids went back to school but Derek was so sick and the antibiotics gave him the runs so I gave up on that after day 2.

Once he was feeling better, we started over.  He loves wearing his cute little boy underwear (he makes it clear that he doesn't wear panties like his sister).  To keep him from poop accidents, I told him if he pooped on Spiderman, he will turn into The Incredible Hulk and that would be too scary. (I'm not sure this has really been effective.)  I also have been taking this time to talk about body parts and why we need to keep them covered.  It makes for the start of good conversations about who can touch down there and why they would need to, like for cleaning up after an accident or the Doctor when we are having a checkup as long as mom or dad are in the room.

It has been interesting to talk to this kid about who has boy parts and who doesn't.  I want my children to be comfortable talking about this kind of stuff so that they will feel comfortable and confident asking questions in the future.  Who knew I was going to have to make it clear that bad guys are boys and bad girls are still girls and they have different body parts (I don't know why he asked me that, ha ha.)

Anyway, that leads up to what Ben and I did this weekend.  We attended a wonderful class put on by our stake called Especially For Parents day in preparation for our youth's upcoming Youth Conference weekend.  There were some awesome classes put on by some exceptional people.  I learned a lot of information and enjoyed all the classes.  One of them was taught by Dan Oakes MEd, LPC, who is an awesome member of our stake, our Young Men's stake president and former Bishop of mine.  His class was on helping our children live the Law of Chastity.

One of his suggestions was Teach early and Consistently and he gave some guidelines for when and what to teach our children:
Age 8ish - Just tell them the facts (menstruation, how babies are created)
Age 11ish - Puberty prep - they want to know "what is happening to my body?"
Age 13ish - Teach boundaries
Age 16ish - Dating prep and rules

**He also noted that when we talk to our kids we need to focus on development as well as morality.
**Don't mistake normal development for addictive behaviors
**Talk regularly and positively about these topics, even monthly.

My favorite quote on this topic comes from Elder Boyd K. Packer in the July 1972 New Era magazine "This power [the sacred power of procreation] must be strong...Except for the compelling persuasion of these feelings, men would be reluctant to accept the responsibility of sustaining a home and a family. This power must be constant, too, for it becomes a binding tie in family life."  You can read the whole amazing article here.

Our responsibility as parents is to teach our children about being chaste.  It cannot begin when they are teenagers, it cannot begin when by chance they come to us and ask us to clarify something they heard at school, it must begin young and it must be shown with love and compassion, ensuring that they will come back to us time and time again.  Our energies devoted to teaching our children about staying pure before marriage and having complete fidelity during marriage begins very early or if you have delayed, it begins today.  Brother Oakes reminded us that while the powers of procreation are strong and consistent, so should we be in teaching our children.

Let's go and have some awesome conversations with our kids!

"That's so gross Dad!" said one child after one such awesome talk with her dad about how babies are made.  We live to make our children suffer all the good stuff and so far, we have grossed out 6/8ths of them:)

Ha!!  Good times.

Monday, January 7, 2013

I've been gone too long

For a few weeks in September I was unable to log in.  Then, life got busy and things had to go.  But, I just wanted to say that I'M BACK!!  I hope to find make the time to write again because there is so much stirring around in my head that I want to say.  Needless to say, we started potty training today so I don't know what the week or two holds for me, lol.

In the meantime, here are a few questions mulling about in my head and I want your replies to them...

Women, as far as your home is concerned:

1.  How do you manage your time?  (lists, daily schedule, fly by the seat of your pants, etc)

2.  What things stress you out?

3.  How do you prioritize?

4.  How do you keep from getting over-scheduled?

I'm working on something and need your help.  Thanks!!