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3T: Sliding into home base

sliding-into-home-plateWhen looking for an image for this post, I came across a little piece of US history: a women’s baseball league. What fascinates me about this picture is that they are wearing those skirts! Seriously? Sliding into home base in a skirt?

Truth is stranger than fiction!

This end period of the school year (from March to June) feels like a very long and very packed stretch from third base to home for me. There are always so many things happening: spring sports, recitals, end-of-year homework projects and celebrations, wrapping up school volunteer responsibilities. And this year I’m also counting the days until it is all over!

One of my personal weaknesses is handling the stress of the various events and commitments that come along with my family. I’m better at it than I used to be, but some days are better than others. One of my coping methods is to write. Another is to put something less pressing away for a while–like writing–and come back to it when some of the deadlines and events have passed.

So that is what I’m doing today. I love to write so much that I think about it all the time. No joke. I’m compose posts in the night when I can’t sleep. It’s a passion for me, and I’m still learning to bridle it. I could write for hours and let all responsibilities go by the wayside! So I decided that if I’m going to help Julia find that elusive prom dress (that fits in our budget and modestly fits and looks like she hopes), get Rebecca to all of her choir performances, help Eliza get to track and dance, keep Peter and Anna practicing their instruments, wrap up the music program and my kindergarten teaching and keep teaching Primary, be present at the family wedding AND sleep at night, something’s gotta give.

And it can’t be my sanity.

So I’m going to have to do what I’ve done before: push pause.

I’ll have my little blogcation and then I’ll be back. It ain’t gonna be easy, trust me!

But then summer will be here. Ahhhhh.

Happy Sliding into Home Base,

Liz :)

P.S. I was just thinking right now: I’ll just write one more tiny post, which made me think of this hilarious cookie jar my mom bought once for my step-dad. He had diabetes AND a fondness for food. Especially sweet food. So they had a policeman cookie jar that when you lifted the cap said something like, “Step away from the cookie jar.” All of us had to lift the lid when we came over just to hear it say that. Makes me smile just remembering.

I’ll compromise: When I get back, I want to write about spring break, prom dress shopping, white dress bridal shower, Linnets and ValeriansLonging for Home, Richard Peck books, choir, open spaces in my home, planting from seed, and curry. OK. Now I can go. :)

(I know. My husband’s not holding his breath. I might just make it two weeks just to show him I can do it.)

P.S. One. Last. Thing. (I’m reminding myself of when I leave for any extended period of time and am giving 42 instructions to the children. Enough already!) Yesterday I listened to a very inspiring podcast about one amazing young woman, Natalie White, who is dealing with a major heart defect. I loved her perspective on true happiness: “True happiness is eating toast with my mom in the morning and getting to see my younger brother get baptized.” (The quote as I remember it.)

 

 

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YW baptisms at templeLook at those smiles! I LOVE these beautiful young women! I got to take them to the temple one day recently. It wasn’t an “official” activity for church. They simply went as friends. Their smiles manifest how they feel about being able to go to the temple together. What a gift for me to know them!

 

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I can’t believe I didn’t get a photo of Eliza’s amazing cake today. It looked a lot like this, minus the hearts:

chocolatefudgecake

Over spring break, Eliza, Anna and I traveled up to Salt Lake and had lunch at the Lion House Pantry. I was so proud of the girls, because I dropped them off at the Church History Museum to go to an exhibit they love while I headed up to the Capitol building for a meeting. We met at the restaurant about 90 minutes later. I was nervous about it, because Eliza’s cell phone wasn’t working, and we hadn’t done something like this before. But I knew she was capable of navigating from the museum to the restaurant, and I had given her careful instructions. I said a little prayer and hoped for the best.

Lion House Pantry

I hurried back from the Capitol to the parking and scurried up to the restaurant, turning the corner at 12:31 to see them waiting for me! I was so proud of them. We walked into the restaurant and immediately oohed and aahed at the sight of some beautiful pies and tall, frosted cakes in a bakery case. Being vacation, Eliza and I wanted to buy a toffee cake, but Anna doesn’t like toffee. So Eliza volunteered to make Sister Dewey’s Perfect Chocolate Cake for our cousin dinner on Sunday. $22 saved, we went to order lunch.

joyful moment statue

temple square tulips

temple square gardeners

After our fabulous lunch, we walked out to enjoy the gorgeous scenery and weather of that perfectly sunshiny day. We walked around and took a few pictures, chatting with some gardeners. We learned that they only replant the tulips every four years.

temple square woman gardener

I saw a gardener bending over some flowers, and it reminded me of how labor-intensive both gardening and motherhood can be, but how invigorating both activities are. Anna loved the statues of a mother and children turning in a circle. She said she wished she could jump in and join in their dance! Temple Square is one of the loveliest places on earth!

We have had several years of cousin dinners, now. Living close to the BYU and UVU campuses, our family and another family take turns hosting a dinner for both our families and any college-age cousins in town each month. It is wonderful! We have anywhere from 16 (yesterday) to 30 people. We always look forward to seeing one another. There usually isn’t time for games after, because of firesides and college-ward commitments, but we linger and love it. We have adopted a few extra “cousins” along the way, such as friends or roommates.

terrel's bakery

Serving a crowd is not too hard, thanks to crockpots. And it’s not as expensive as you might think. Staples, such as rice and rolls, are easy to share. Two of the recipes I’m including today are for Pork Cacciatore and BBQ Pork (“Pulled Pork”). They are both VERY easy. Another crowd pleaser with any cousin dinner is hot rolls. We are fortunate to have Terrel’s frozen rolls available at our grocery store, in case we don’t have time to make homemade rolls. We try to keep a bag on hand in the freezer. They are GOOD. Sometimes we make the dinner potluck, but most of the time we simply host it to give each other a break from cooking. We love this tradition!

Happy Tradition and Chocolate Cake Making,

Liz :)

 

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GQ: Adapted to the lowest capacity

Christ and lamb

A friend recommended to me yesterday a speech given by Elder Bednar on “The Character of Christ.” I have just barely begun to study it when I came across this quote: “The revelations of the Lord to his creatures are adapted to the lowest capacity, and they bring life and salvation to all who are willing to receive them” (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 124).

That contains a beautiful truth!

All of God’s truths and commandments are accomplishable.

In my mothering, I have tried to find solutions to many problems. Often, I have had an idea and have applied it in a most complicated way. I didn’t realize it was too complicated at the time. And it wasn’t that the ideas per se were wrong, but that I needed to simplify my application of them.

And I didn’t recognize it until I had tried it out for a while.

Take the time card, for example. Or the job chart. Or any organizational system or plan! I learned, after time and multiple applications and revisions, that the best system or plan or lesson is the one that accomplishes the task (or teaches the principle) while being the simplest to understand and easiest to perform.

I have now taught music to kindergarteners for three years. Since I have been creating the curriculum, I have recycled the same principles and lesson plans, teaching them in various ways to different children. Each time I have learned something. What have I learned the most? It helps to simplify something so that each child can accomplish what is asked.

This doesn’t mean that God (or a parent or teacher) doesn’t know how to adapt something to a child who wants or needs more challenge. The principle itself needs to be taught plainly and simply, and then further growth can come to one who is ready and wanting.

The second concept about this quote, in my mind, is how much God desires for us to understand Him and His plan. He isn’t trying to complicate anything so that we can’t do it. He wants us to learn and accomplish. He allows us to stretch to learn, only because He knows we can do it. And He will provide whatever support along the way that we require.

Sometimes I have noticed that when something feels too hard, I have panicked internally. I have believed it was too hard and that I couldn’t do it. I have sometimes wanted to be coddled like a baby by God instead of simply encouraged and helped back up like a toddler. God wants me to grow up and learn to walk, not just be carried or pushed in a stroller my whole life, figuratively speaking.

This quote reminds me that I CAN DO IT. And if I simplify something, I can help a child learn to do what is needed for their growth, too.

What a GREAT QUOTE!

Happy Adapting,

Liz :)

P.S. This quote reminds me of a favorite scriptural passage of mine. It’s the story of Jacob when he meets his brother Esau after some 2 decades or so. They embrace in reconciliation and then Esau invites Jacob travel with him. Jacob declines, saying,

“And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die.

“Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir.”

This passage has always suggested to me that Jacob understood about working patiently with children and pregnant cattle. He knew that making them and the pregnant cattle go too fast or too far isn’t good for them, so he slowed his pace to accommodate them.

I’m so glad this story was included in Genesis so I could remember that sometimes I just need to slow down and take things a little more easily. Adapt to the pace of my family and accommodate the children, and then we’ll all be a lot happier. :)

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SOS: Seminary Graduation

easy button

 

I have been procrastinating signing my teens up for seminary, not because I don’t love seminary or recognize how important it is, but because I’m not sure why. Opposition? I just kept moving it down my to do list as a less important item. But today, I determined to do it and not procrastinate any longer.

It took me like 15 seconds to register. I just had to sign in on my lds.org user (on the registration page), check to make sure the info was up to date, and click a button.

Seriously?

The Staples’ slogan, “That was easy!” came to mind.

Happy Registering,

Liz :)

P.S. I feel so grateful for having had the chance to go to seminary as a young woman! I had the most awesome Old Testament teacher, a woman who poured heart and soul into helping us understand those stories. I think I love the Old Testament because of her. I still remember the scriptures, such as “It is better to obey than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22), or “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart…” (Prov.3:5-6). I wish I could remember her name so I could honor her! (I do not always have a great memory for names.) But my heart remembers her and feels much gratitude.

I also love that because of seminary, I developed the habit of getting up early to study my scriptures and pray before starting my day and being at a class at 6:00 am to learn God’s word. It helped my testimony of God and my relationship with Him grow in ways it just wouldn’t have otherwise. I really loved getting to know the words of the scriptures. I even enjoyed the filmstrips. (Some teens today have no idea what that even is.) I apologize to my teachers for those mornings I feel asleep on my desk. (One teacher had such a mellow, soft voice, it was an uphill battle.) I enjoyed carpooling with neighbors, even when it was freezing and I had to wear that too-short polyester cheerleading skirt and nylons. LOL. I remember blowing my breath in the car and making fog, some mornings were cold. And this was only Northern California! I think of my son Nate driving the Suburban with the heater broken and keeping a blanket in the car to wear after he had scraped the snow off the windshield. He was not a whiner. Way to go, Nate!

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RTW: Let’s try this again

weekly reportI just re-designed our weekly report (i.e. time card). Again. For like the 100th time. Someday, I might land on the simplest and most effective way to do this for teenagers.

In our home, once you turn twelve, you start to earn your clothing allowance. You get paid weekly if you do the work assigned to you. This means you pay for all of your clothes, except for clothing you receive as gifts.

This has been a deliberate choice on my and Lane’s part, after observing families we admire, to help our children develop self-sufficiency amidst prosperity.

Our children are growing up with practically every basic need provided for them, along with some wants, and more than any time in the history of the world, we feel like our children need to develop the strength and ability to provide for themselves so that when they leave home, they won’t fall flat on their faces, so to speak. We don’t want them to be depressed because they feel overwhelmed with what is required of them as adults.

So we’re giving them a jump start while they still have back-up and can make plenty of mistakes without serious consequences.

Part of earning their clothing allowance is reporting on the work they have done.

My emphasis in having them fill this out is not to have them be perfect job-doers. I mean, it’s really awesome if a child can get everything done each week, but I can’t even do that as the adult! So I have a deal with them: Do your best. And you report on whatever you got done. If you really didn’t try, then you don’t get paid. We look at what happened that week: did we have vacation? Were you sick? Did we have 12 siblings’ recitals and games and having 2 papers to write and an AP test to take, etc. But we also talk about effort: are you just wanting to get paid but not really putting forth the effort?

Even though they report on goals, we don’t pay them for working on their goals. That is simply a way for them to learn to focus on their continual effort to work on and accomplish goals, both individually and as a group.

I know the most important part of doing jobs isn’t the reporting part. For them, it is doing it. For me, working with them to help them learn, encouraging them, and then praising them is my MOST important part. But because in life, if you don’t report your work, you often don’t get paid. So it’s just my way of helping prepare them for the future. Providing a way for them to learn to report and measure their progress is valuable and has its place.

So that’s how we do it in our home.

It’s not perfect, but we feel like it’s helpful. It motivates them sometimes, at least, because they do want to buy clothes from time to time. :)

I know that what President Monson said years ago is true. I’ve quoted it before, and I’m sure I will again: “When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates” (see Thomas S. Monson, in Conference Report, Oct. 1970, 107). 

Happy Finding Ways to Motivate Your Children,

Liz :)

 

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UnknownWe watched the first episode of Granite Flats tonight, and it got us talking about communism, the fear of communists in our country in the Senator McCarthy years, and war. That led Eliza to ask, “Was it right for [the United States] to drop the bomb?” What a question!

We talked about the problem of nations warring with each other and all of the innocent lives that had been lost. We talked about some of the reasons why the bomb was dropped and some of the horrible consequences that resulted from the bomb. “Remember Sadako?” I asked. No, she hadn’t read the book yet.

It’s interesting, as a mother, how you do something with some of the older children and forget to do it again with the younger children. I remember reading Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes aloud to my older girls. We all wept as we finished this true story. Such heavy consequences!

red scarf girl

Eliza asked about The Red Scarf Girl she had also seen some of us read. That is an excellent introduction to communism and the effects of it upon the lives of families and children. Just a heads up: it is not light subject material. I wouldn’t read it to or suggest it to be read by a younger child. Personally, I would not recommend the book to someone younger than fifth or sixth grader. 

Biography is my favorite genre, and historical fiction after that. So I love finding nonfiction books that teach and inspire and grow empathy in my children. These are two excellent books that, in my mind, do just that.

Happy (or in this case, sometimes Sad) Reading,

Liz :)

P.S. My dad did a wonderful thing with a group of grade-school children not long ago. He is a wonderful story teller and out loud reader. He read Sadako to a class, and then they made paper cranes. He created a mobile to which he hung a number of these paper cranes, and the school hung it in the library. What a wonderful project! Way to go, Dad!

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Right after conference, they aired 10 minutes of continuous “Homefront” commercials. We love these! These make us laugh and cry!

These messages are some I’d like to keep in my mind, such as:

“All I really needed to hear that day was what my dad told me: ‘You’re never a winner if you lose your temper.”

“Life’s most important messages are best learned at home.”

Happy Watching,

Liz :)

P.S. There are lots more great Homefront commercials!

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LOL: “I hate that word.”

water gun boys Jackson Peter

One of my daughters was upset with her sister who was, in her opinion, taking too long in the bathroom. Her sister’s crime? Clipping her toenails!

The audacity!

I joked with the daughter for a minute, and then I teased her, “There’s a great secret in life. It’s spelled P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E.”

Pause.

Her reply: “I hate that word.”

As I’m typing, I get a phone call. From another daughter who is outside.

Her: “Mom! Peter says he’s having a water fight outside. While I’m tanning.”

Me: “You better get another towel or an umbrella.”

Her: “Mom!”

Ahhh: Spring break. Teenage daughters. Bathrooms. Tanning sisters and little brothers armed with water guns! So much fun.

This is what why I have so much on-the-job humor.

Happy Enjoying,

Liz :)

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brain-food-2-1

I love to think! The only problem is that I enjoy thinking so much that sometimes (OK, a lot) it’s hard for me to get back to sleep at night when I wake up in the early morning hours. There are so many things to think about, and so many questions to ponder!

One question I have is: Do we store everything we process mentally in our brains? Or do our brains, like our body, have a way to eliminate some of what we take in?

My guess is that somehow our brains record everything we read, hear, speak, and think, but we don’t always know how to access that memory. I mean, perhaps some people who have perfect recall just have a door unlocked, so to speak, in their brain that allows easy access to their internal library, whereas the rest of us only get to go through the door sometimes or have another kind of limited access. Kind of like a key has unlocked a door to them whereas the rest of us are waiting for the key to be turned?

I don’t know.

Or could it be that our brains, like our houses, get organized by the way we are brought up: the books we read, the conversations we hear and have, the music we listen to? In my home, I know where most everything is in each bedroom because I have organized it to the extent that everything has a place. Of course, the is one room where we stash stuff that we don’t know what to do with yet or don’t have time to deal with that second. You know: where you stick the piles that you just have to get rid of fast in order to set the table for dinner or company. :) At least, I have piles like that!

So if, in our brains, we knew where we had “stuck” everything, would be able to access it?

Or if we could “clean up” our minds, neurologically speaking, we could access more of our memory?

Or is it possible that if we learned how to simply hold onto the positive and let go of the negative, that our minds would be better organized and more accessible? We could access more creative energy and thinking?

I know that the Holy Ghost can help bring things to our remembrance.

I admit that I believe that to some extent we store the books we read, the movies we watch, the music we hear, the conversations we have, the images we see, and the experiences we have because I am able to recall parts from all of those sometimes. I can remember a story from my childhood, or a quote I read at a friend’s home, or a part from a conference talk, or a tune that I loved. Of course, I have no idea how those are stored in my brain or how I access them! I just know that I do.

That belief certainly has had an impact on the “brain food” I have served up my children. I’ve tried to select the best books, music, movies, etc., for my children to watch. Not that I can choose everything for them. At some point, they begin to choose for themselves. But I have tried to give them a taste for the best to help them choose well.

Someday, I’d love to be a neurologist. The brain fascinates me.

But not instead of my life right now. So while I’m living my life now, I’ll just keep reading and thinking and wondering…

Happy Thinking,

Liz :)

P.S. There’s a very interesting blog post associated with that cool image that talks about literal nutrition for the brain. Click on it to go there.

 

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