Busy week. And you?

This week has been one of those weeks that are supposedly “typical” for moms.

  • Had strep throat.  Got a shot.  Survived.
  • Planned and hosted Natalie’s birthday party.  (more to come about that)
  • Cleaned house frantically, did laundry, had party, need to clean house again.
  • Husband out of town on business, running him to and from the airport.
  • Planning Clark’s class Thanksgiving party.  Research out craft and treat ideas online.  Make phone calls and design fliers.
  • Meals.  You know, breakfast, lunch, dinner.  Every day.
  • Took kids to the play “Frog and Toad All Year.” (I love plays.)
  • Grocery shopping.
  • Walking and/or driving children to/from school, 3 different schools, 3 different schedules.
  • Trying to find clothes that fit my boys when they get dressed in the morning. (Could they please stop growing already?)
  • Exchange emails to plan upcoming Relief Society activity.
  • Taking Grant to friend’s birthday party.  Buying gift.
  • Volunteering with take-home reading at Clark’s school.
  • Trying to get a jump on Christmas presents since I’m trying to make stuff this year due to budget restraints.  (And when I say make, I mean things like reading aloud stories and recording them on CD.)
  • Return what seems like hundreds of phone calls and emails.
  • Make signs to hang up around my house like “Close this door!”
  • Eating all of the leftover cupcakes from Natalie’s party.
  • Sleeping occasionally.

See? It’s all totally normal stuff.  And yet?  Mind-numbingly exhausting.  I recommend you don’t make a list like this unless you have time to take a nap afterwards.  Then again, it’s a nice reminder you actually got stuff done.  Moms rock.

How was your week?

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A woman’s work is never done. (Subtitle: My house is always dirty.)

image credit

I’m going to make a declaration about housekeeping that’s probably going to sound stupid.  I don’t claim this philosophy to be any doctrinal absolute, and I admit up front that it may be entirely motivated by rationalization; nevertheless, I’ve thought about this for several months and I’m ready to declare it true in the Book of Stephanie.  Ahem . . .

I don’t think we’re supposed to have a clean house. I think we’re supposed to WANT a clean house and work toward it.  This phrase from April’s General Conference about Mary and Martha’s house fit in perfectly with my philosophy on this:

“It was a welcome place for the Master, where He could rest and enjoy the surroundings of a righteous home.” ~ Elder Gregory A. Schwitzer

I think the Savior would rather hang out in a home where people are working together harmoniously (even in a very unfinished project) than where a mother on the verge of a nervous breakdown is screaming at her children to get their last sock off the floor, and they better not have left the hand towel on the floor when they just used the bathroom.  In fact, if he showed up at my house right now, I bet he’d sit on the floor next to me and help me fold laundry while we talked about important things.  But I’d miss out on that if I ran around like a freak trying to clear the counters and make the beds really quick before I paid him any attention. I think I’d even miss out on that if I sat down with him, but my mind was constantly focused on everything that was undone.

Don’t get me wrong, I still believe that “cleanliness is next to godliness,” and all that “house of order” stuff, but I believe what matters most is that we are consistently striving to make our home a place where the Spirit of God is welcome.  And if that’s our goal, be it in the early stages of chaos or the last load of laundry, for all intents and purposes, I think the Savior knows He’s invited.  And that’s all that matters.

GCBC Week 7: Of Things that Matter Most

“Of Things That Matter Most”
President Dieter F. Uctdorf
Second Counselor in the First Presidency

This talk is a perfect sequel to Elder Christofferson’s talk about consecrated living that we just read last week.  President Uctdorf reminds us what to focus on, and he communicates with testimony and example the same principles from King Benjamin that “it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength.”

This was one of my favorite talks from conference.  It made me realize that when I feel overwhelmed, I tend to react in a counter-productive way.

“If life and its rushed pace and many stresses have made it difficult for you to feel like rejoicing, then perhaps now is a good time to refocus on what matters most.”

I’m learning that the joy comes from the basics:  from choosing them, using them, and focusing on them.

Plus, this talk has one of the greatest laughs from conference, where President Uctdorf jokes about always speaking about airplanes.

Did you all receive your general conference edition of the Ensign in the mail by now?  I love to curl up with mine by the fire.  I felt full-blown famous when I realized they published my quote on p. 128 about you guys and what we do here.  I can’t think of any issue I’d be more excited to be a part of than the general conference edition.

So, how about you? What are your favorite moments or quotes from this talk?  Is there anything you learned here that you had not considered before?  What stood out to you as you studied it?  And, most importantly, what did it make you feel or want to do?

Parental Preference

Natalie is a daddy’s girl. One night while I was tucking her into bed, she told me, “I like daddy better than you.” “Why?” I asked. She responded matter-of-factly, “Because daddy smells like truck, and I like the smell of truck.”

Alrighty then.

The other day (after reading one of those horrible news stories) I breached the subject of child molesters while she and I were driving in the car together. Basically, it was a 3-year-old-level discussion about appropriateness and safety, etc. When I told her that she could always come talk to me and daddy about anything, she rolled her eyes and looked up at the ceiling.

“Is this embarrassing to talk about?” She shook her head no. “Is it silly?” She sighed and said, “No, but I’m going to talk about it to daddy instead because I like him better than you.”

Oh, right. I reassured her she could talk to either one of us about anything and if she wanted to talk to her daddy about it, that was fine.

This weekend I’m taking a little girlfriend-type getaway. I’m going to meet up with a few bloggy friends and do important stuff like talk and eat food. I’m really looking forward to it. Every time I mention it to Natalie, she gets all pouty and doesn’t want me to go.

This morning, I reminded her I’m leaving soon and she made the most disapproving face she could. I said, “You’ll be fine. You like daddy better anyway, remember?” She softened a little and said, “But you’re the best cooker in the whole world.”

Take that, Matt. You may smell like truck, but I can make a mean chocolate chip cookie.

Why I might let Clark teach FHE every week

Occasionally I get into a funk where I know exactly what I should be doing in my life, but I feel a little bit too lazy to do it. I try hard to have realistic expectations for myself, so I’m not referring to to-do lists. I’m talking about the basics: Reading my scriptures, praying, serving my family with the right kind of attitude and fulfilling my role as the kind of mother I know the Lord wants me to be. Some days I feel worn down– and just lazy, I guess– and I rationalize that I need a break. I only feel like doing stuff I want to do, not the stuff I should do (which is obviously self-defeating because I’m denying myself the very blessings I need to get back on track).

Clark is 6. Last night he taught our family home evening lesson about service.  He bore his testimony at the end of his lesson:

“So if you know you should do service, but you really don’t want to because you just don’t feel like doing service even if someone tells you to, you still have to do it. Because service equals love.”

And that’s when the Holy Ghost reminded me of a lesson I learned earlier this year: When I struggle, I need to pray to love what the Lord loves. When I see the love, I see the joy.

We discussed the service we do for each other in our family, and Clark said that “if Mom was gone from our family, that would be horrible.  I would starve to death.”  He told us all to draw a picture of service and then we showed them to each other.  This is what my husband drew:

He said (pointing to the right side), “This is mommy putting socks in the washing machine,” and (then pointing to the left) “This is Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.”  The kids all giggled at his artwork, but I understood what he meant, and I love him for it.

“Follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.” (3 Nephi 31:12)

“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)

So, Clark pretty much got it right, didn’t he?  Service equals love.

Picture perfect

We have our winners.  Thanks for all your participation and voting.  Even with 13 entries, these 4 photos garnered more than 50% of the total vote.  The following photos were elected as the best representation of this quote by Elder M. Russell Ballard:

“Recognize that the joy of motherhood comes in moments. There will be hard times and frustrating times. But amid the challenges, there are shining moments of joy and satisfaction.”

3rd place, Helen, with 12% of the total vote:

Helen said:  “It’s my mum and my sister just after my sister went through the temple before her mission.  She is now serving a nursing mission in Panama.” I have a soft spot in my heart for women who serve missions (especially Spanish-speaking ones) and moms who help them get there.  I admit it, standing with my children on the steps of the temple will be a moment of ultimate satisfaction.

Tied for 2nd place, with 14% of the total vote each,

Liana:

Liana said about this photo: “The picture doesn’t do the mess justice, but you get the general idea, and yes, those are packing peanuts.” Personally, my favorite part about this photo is the printed quote in the quarter.  It’s evidence of a mom trying to do good and play many roles, only to be thwarted by her children.  Oh, how I get it.

Charlotte:

Charlotte explained that this photo respresented “satisfaction and joy moments” to her.  I couldn’t agree more.  When we see our children showing love and tenderness, especially to each other, we can’t help but think we must be doing something right.

The 1st place winner, with 20% of the votes,

Velda:

When Velda submitted her photo, she said, This one’s my favorite.” Well, it’s obviously our favorite too, Velda.  It embodies both the joy and exhaustion of motherhood in one beautiful image.

Thank you to everyone who participated.  All 13 of the photos together were a beautiful testimony of the ups and downs of motherhood, with an underlying theme of joy.  Every single one received several votes and was meaningful to others.  I loved seeing them all and recognizing how much in common we mothers share– in our feelings, in our experiences, and in our mission.

If you’re a winner, please send me an email with your address and I’ll send you (or deliver if you’re close) a small prize.  You’re all welcome to steal that beautiful trophy at the top of this post and display it proudly on your own blog.  Let me know if you need help with some html code to do that, and I’ll try to figure it out.  Velda will have a place of honor on my sidebar for a season.

Happy Monday to all, and here’s to a week of joyful mothering.

GCBC Week 6: Reflections on a Consecrated Life

“Reflections on a Consecrated Life”
D. Todd Christofferson
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

“To consecrate is to set apart or dedicate something as sacred, devoted to holy purposes. True success in this life comes in consecrating our lives—that is, our time and choices—to God’s purposes (see John 17:1, 4; D&C 19:19). In so doing, we permit Him to raise us to our highest destiny.”

What stands out to you as you study this talk?  Is there anything you learned here that you had not considered before?  What did the talk make you feel or want to do?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. If this is your first time to General Conference Book Club, click here to learn more about it, and then join us.