Payoff.

Actually, I do have a post that’s not about my book.

And two posts in one day? Cue the apocalypse.

The last few weeks have been very, very busy, plus my husband has been out of town. In all this chaos, I have made a marvelous discovery. My children have actually learned some of the things I’ve taught them. I have spent years and years repeating the same things over and over to them.

“Do your chores and homework first.”

“Finish what you started.”

“Clean up after yourself.” or the common, “Don’t leave Clark tracks.” :)

Etc., etc. You’re no stranger to these things, so you know what I’m talking about.

Now, I’m not saying I’ve arrived, but it dawned on me that they are starting to get it. Finally! They are doing their chores and homework and actually earning their privileges, with less and less complaint. Grant is suddenly taking a lot more personal responsibility for his homework. Natalie will sometimes come and report to me that she finished doing a task that I don’t even remember asking her to do. This morning, Clark stuck his face in my room while I was still in bed and told me, “I’m starting on my chores early so I don’t have to do them after school.”  Seriously? There must have been an alien abduction. Or an angelic visitation. Something.

Anyway, I just wanted to offer hope. If you find yourself saying the same things over and over and over again and wonder if they will ever get it…. well, they just might. And won’t you be surprised?

Yesterday, Clark walked into the office while I was on the computer and I could immediately tell he was hiding something in his hand. “What do you have?,” I asked, “Hands up! Drop it.” He did, and it was a napkin, folded up. I opened it and this is what I found:

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(written in yellow highlighter: “I love you.” and a little heart)

“Oh. Thank you,” I said.

I think I like these kids.

Midterm exams for moms

Have you ever had one of those nightmares where you’re in college and it’s exam time, but you just realized you’re enrolled in a class you forgot to attend the whole semester?  And now you have to take the exam and you are SO unprepared?  It’s a horrible dream.  I always wake up with a tight chest and lingering anxiety.

See this kid?

He is my oldest.  He just turned eight a couple weeks ago, and this weekend he will be baptized.  And I’ve got that same nightmare feeling.  It’s like this is the big test of my motherhood, and I do not feel ready.  My time for preparing him to make major covenants and lead a life of free agency is over.  (I know this is a little exaggerated and melodramatic, but hello?  Eight already?  Gah.)

And remember how I said before that I think Satan gets a free 90-day trial before their baptism? I’m sure of it.  He and I have been at odds lately. (Grant and I, not Satan and I.  Maybe.) At odds.  He has been pushing all my buttons, and I’ve felt angry and exasperated and thoroughly convinced that I have somehow failed at preparing him for this major event in his life.  Oh, he knows lots and lots of things about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the promises he’ll be making, and what it all means.  But he’s still just a punk little kid who makes me want to put him in time-out until he’s 18.  Evidence:

“I think this family is dumb.  I think your dumb too.  I wish this family didn’t even exist.  Hate, Grant” (Note he penned on a paper towel and then handed me a couple nights ago at bedtime.  Why so angry? Because he didn’t get ice cream after throwing water on his brother.  Right after our “Love at Home” family home evening lesson.)

So I guess I just have to really count on the Holy Ghost to take it from here?  Either that or the ethereal hope that when he gets older, he’ll like me again and his heart will be flooded with all the things I taught him over the years and he’ll turn out all great and stuff.  Oh boy, Holy Ghost, work your magic.  Some of you experienced mothers out there better tell me that this is going to be just fine.

The season where dreams (almost) come true

A week or so ago, we were on our way home from a family outing and decided to eat out because it would be too late by the time I got dinner ready at home.  We stopped at a Chinese buffet.  Is it weird that except for when I actually lived in China, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a Chinese buffet before?

Anyway, I wasn’t very impressed, but my children pigged out to an embarrassing level (Matt gave them free reign of the dessert buffet.).  Then they each got a fortune cookie as we were finishing up.  Grant opened his and started jumping up and down for joy.  He started yelling, “Yes!  I’m going to Disneyland!”  He was SO excited.  Matt and I looked at each other quizzically and I asked him for his fortune paper.  A close look revealed the following fortune:

“You will soon be traveling to a distant land.”

His hasty reading had an unfortunately over-abundant translation.

I tried to comfort him by reminding him that he had just consumed more desserts than children in most third-world countries get in a year.  Somehow that wasn’t quite as magical to him.

Personally, I think it was a nice introduction to the season where Santa politely says no to most of the things on his Christmas list anyway.  :)

(For those of you who missed it, please join us in the  12 days of Christmas challenge! Random acts of kindness daily until Christmas. Today’s the “2nd day of Christmas.”  Click here or on the button on the sidebar for more information.)

Freeze frame!

Summer is coming and this is my favorite time of year, except for the part about swimsuits.  The other day I was outside in the yard while the kids were playing.  It was sunny and warm and breezy and beautiful– the kind of day that just makes me feel content.  And then, suddenly, I felt a little bit panicky because it’s ALREADY JUNE and it’s going so fast and summer’s going to be gone and it’s going to be snowing again before I even know it.  STOP THE CLOCK ALREADY!  I really wanted to freeze the calendar and stay in June 3rd for a long, long time.  I keep thinking about that song by the Steve Miller band that says, “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future . . . ”  And I thought about the Book of Mormon, where it says (somewhere, I’m too lazy to look it up) that in the last days, people’s treasures will become slippery.  Time is a treasure Continue reading

My son thinks I’m a murderer of the Earth.

Just in case you didn’t already know this, first grade turns you into genius.  During the course of your first year in elementary school, you will in fact become an expert on many topics, thereby learning that your parents are idiots.

(The subtitle of this post is:  Why I want to kick Grant’s science teacher in the knees.)

Thanks to Grant’s science teacher, our first-grader has become an environmental vigilante.  Never mind that we already have a fairly well-coordinated recycling program in place.  My recycling garbage can is always at least as full as my actual-garbage garbage can, we trade in our printer cartridges for refills, use rechargeable batteries, and replaced all our lightbulbs with those twirly-whirly- save-lots-of-money lightbulbs that I can’t remember the name of.  If the tree-huggers could look past my compulsive paper towel use and occasional paper plate use, I think they might be kind of proud of us.

I do not know if Mr. Science Man has a program in place where he bribes small children with treasures untold if they can confiscate half of their family’s belongings and bring them directly to him to be disposed of properly, but I have my theories.  Several times, Grant has tried to grab all our printer cartridges and convince us that he needs to take them to his science teacher, along with all our batteries.  That same self-proclaimed genius cannot seem to comprehend that I will recharge and refill them on. my. own. (thank you?) and thereby save our family some money.  “But Mr. Science Man says we have to bring them to him!”   No matter how I try to make him understand that his teacher’s intention is to keep those items from being thrown away, and we are NOT throwing them away, he still thinks I’m ruining his life as an activist.

Today he came from school and enjoyed his after-school snack for a few seconds before he jolted, quickly remembering that he is a man on a mission.

“Mom!  Do we have milk cartons or boxes or things that we can use to make other things?”

“They’re in the recycling bin, Grant.”

“No, mom!  We’re not supposed to throw them away.  That’s a waste!  We can use them.”

“Grant, when they are recycled, that means they can be melted down and use them again.  We are not wasting them.”

He began digging through my garbage.  I began picturing his science teacher in that torture machine from The Princess Bride.

He grabbed a ziploc bag and held it above his head, victorious.  “Do not throw these away, mom!  That is a waste.”

I rolled my eyes, “What?  Do you want to wash them out?”  “Yes!”  “Fine, you can do it.”

He kept digging.  “I need a bottle or something for my agates (small rocks designed to make your mother curse when she does the laundry).”

“Grant, the bottles are in the recycling bin which means they are going to be re- … never mind.”  I give up.

Anyway, I think educating our children is severely overrated. I offered him this box from the garbage to carry the rock collection he’s accumulating so he can impress Mr. Science Man.  I’m sure he’ll be thrilled when he sees how resourceful we are in our family.


 

Sometimes they get it.

trac3275-01Moms don’t get a lot of feedback.  And results are often delayed.  So, it’s great every once in a while when you get an indication that something you’re doing might just be working.

Since I heard Sister Beck’s talk in May about intentional parenting, I felt really strongly that I needed to establish some routines in our home that would help me to achieve the goals I have for my children.  Matt and I sat down and thought about what kinds of things we wanted our kids to know and do and be.  And then I built them into a weekly schedule.  (Just a loose schedule, to make sure that every goal-related thing happens at least once in a week.)  Wednesday mornings are for service.  I just really want my kids to grow up thinking about others and trying to show love.  I taught high school, so I’m particularly annoyed by the arrogant, self-centered entitlement that seems to be the norm among many teenagers (and now adults).  Anyway, on Wednesdays, after they finish their chore, we try to think of something nice we can do for someone else that day.

Today, we had to go to the grocery store for milk, so we decided to buy some flowers and take them to someone.  I dropped off the flowers where the person worked and Grant and Natalie came with me.  Clark stayed home with his great grandmother who is visiting from Utah.  The receptionist took our flowers and card, and then offered my children a balloon.  They both accepted it and then Grant said, “Can I have one more balloon please?  I have another brother, but he stayed home with my grandma.”  So with three balloons in hand, we walked back to the car.

Grant was happy, and he asked, “Mom, are you glad I got a balloon for Clark, too?”

I said, “Yes, that was very thoughtful of you.  And kind.”

“And service?”  he asked.

“Yep, Grant, you did service.”

And I felt like our little efforts meant something, and were making something happen inside my children.  It’s just another testimony to me that when you feel prompted to do something, and you do it, the blessings come.  In many, many cases the results are not visible for a long time.  Motherhood, after all, is “creation in slow motion,” but it’s sure nice to get those little glimpses of success every once in a while.