August 21, 2014

Lesson I learned at #byueducationweek

(My very first house as Jenifer Moss.)

BYU is my beloved alma mater.
In 1995, I took my first airplane trip (alone) out to college.  My whole life was ahead of me and I knew my decision to attend BYU would set the course for my future.

On my first day of classes, I took my backpack overflowing with every text book it had purchased for the classes I had that day. Ha!  

I remember clearly my walk back from my first religion class at the JST.  I was surrounded by majestic mountains and a stunning blue sky painted with the fluffiest white clouds I had ever seen.  I was so overcome with gratitude for this experience that tears dripped down my cheeks and my soul sang a prayer to Heaven.

I felt this same gratitude yesterday.

Tears just dripped down my cheeks as I walked.  I wondered-- when does this end?  When will I be able to pass a lady using a walker and stop swelling with gratitude that I can walk?  

Will every single experience in my life be that much more poignant to me because in the back of my mind I know "I could have missed this"?

Will I always choke with emotion when I'm reunited with old friends?  Will I always hug just a little but tighter as I say the deep words "It's soo good to see you again."

I'm a grateful mess, I tell you.

Day One and I'm feeling filled.
I have been reminded of so many gems.

The one lesson I learn over and over is this-- 
Love More.  Love Deeply.  Be Kind.  Keep Trying.  Serve Others.  Forgive.  Feel God's Love for Them and Me.  Build a Home that is a Sanctuary From the World.
Life Is A Gift.
Family Is A Gift.

I love this poem--

I Walked a Mile with Pleasure

I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne’er a word said she;
But, oh! The things I learned from her,
When sorrow walked with me.

-Robert Browning Hamilton

::if you can't change the children or your attitude-- just play music that can!!

::use music to pull you out of your ruts!!

The man who forgets to be grateful has fallen asleep in life.

::stop fighting contention and start nurturing love

Luke 14:28-30

"Character can not be developed in ease and quiet.  Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved."

Helen Keller

I am so grateful for this time to learn and bask in light, truth, and goodness.

God is good to us.

How I love being alive!!!

I know this is sappy- I am just seeping with sap these days.  Ha!

***if you are in the Utah area and want to come to ice cream-- please join us tonight at 8:30pm at my friend Christina's house--1283 Camelot drive in Provo.   1283 is the west coordinate and camelot is about 810 north.

Please don't feel awkward coming-- I have never even met Christina and she is kind enough to host this get together!  I'm so excited to meet her.  Come!! I'm sure it will be fun and sisterly.

(My best friend and phone cleaning companion- we became mothers and friends at this very apartment complex.)

August 20, 2014

Time Away.

Wow.
I can not remember the last time I travelled alone.

I'm so used to herding, cajoling, encouraging, counting, holding, or calling for children that walking down a corridor alone feels negligent.

I count other people's children for them.

The absolute feeling of freedom that comes from being able to potty, wash your hands, and exit a restroom without pulling curious children from under someone else's stall is invigorating.

I am only gone for a few days.
My ticket was free from the many frequent-flier miles my hubster has earned this year.
I'm meeting friends, staying with family, and generally too much of a people person to not spend the whole flight talking to the kind people around me.  And even still, I feel the peace and healing that comes when one has time to listen to the thoughts that spin inside our heads.

Take time to touch them more.  Touch daily.  Let them physically feel your love for them.

I felt this reminder as I saw an older son hug his mother tightly at passenger pick-up.  He hugged onto her tight and long while kissing her on the cheek- twice.  I could feel their love.  I want my kids to feel that love.

::hug longer

I think it's normal to have some social phobia.  I actually get all nervous talking on the phone or texting old friends to arrange "long-time-no-see" get togethers.  I pick up on awkward silences and feel like an imposition.  

One of my closest friends taught me this wise advice-- it has never let me down.

::Act as if everyone you wish was your friend already is your friend.

Almost every time I'm texting someone to arrange a get-together, my mind starts racing with feelings that I'm a big inconvenience to them.  I stop those thoughts.  I remind myself that we ARE friends and that I love them and they love me.  I push aside my insecurity and let my heart love.  It's a conscious choice.

Can I tell you how beautiful it is to let yourself love people?  
Life is designed for loving relationships.

Today I met up with old friends that I love like sisters.  I met new friends that I love like brothers.  I spent too long laughing and sharing parenting stories with my husband's cousins who are as dear to me as my own.  

One friendly plane neighbor (Hi Jimmy!) told me that if he had met me when we were both younger and unattached, I might have been able to convert him to Mormonism and convince him to have eight kids.  Ha!  What a compliment!

I really love people.
I'm so, so grateful for some time apart, in the mountains, to listen and to pray.
I love this beautiful world we live in.

I absolutely believe that we are all brothers and sisters.
If you're at BYU this week, look for me and say HELLO.  
We're friends!

Life is good.

August 18, 2014

The day before "vacation"

This is me
This is my garden
These are my girls playing as I type this blog (they just finished swimming)
Today I...
-took seven kids to four orthodontist appointments
-went grocery shopping
-tried to get a copy of current physicals from our pediatrician 
-found out it takes a WEEK to get a copy of physicals from a dr
-learned that without physicals my boys can't start school soccer today and won't be able to play in their first game
-argued with Todd and the coach about the fact that I have physicals scheduled for next week and felt that last years physicals (from September- less than one year ago) should still be valid until next week
-got a (well-deserved but still utterly devastating and expensive) ticket for talking on the phone in a work zone.  Ugh.
-stopped by the library for a school required summer reading book
-stopped by the local Ag store for molasses cow feed
-stopped at the nurse's office to pick up an OK to play form (yay! They're letting my kids play and have their physicals next week.)
-made lunch
-had a PT appointment for Ben
-scraped my van mirror off backing up in my driveway-- darn branch Todd's going to be thrilled-- a ticket and broken mirror all in one day.  Oh my.  

Todd called while I was typing this blog so I told him about the broken van mirror- my 2nd blunder of the day.  He laughed at me after asking "Seriously?" ten times.  He reminded me this is the SECOND car mirror I've broken off.  He said we need to hurry up and get me on that airplane and encouraged me not to drive for the rest of the day.  Haha.  I love him.

Ben's Physical Therapist is a sweet, young mother.  She said, "After I came here the last couple of times I went home and told my husband how amazing your house is.  I have two kids and someone is always fighting or crying and my house is a mess, you have eight and your house is immaculate and your kids are so calm and well-behaved.  They even answer the phone so respectfully."

Haha.  What a sweetie.  My house is NOT immaculate.  She is absolutely seeing only a tiny snap shot of my life (we obviously straighten up and threaten the children to behave properly while she's here).  But, it's nice to see my crazy life through someone else's eyes every now and then.

Can I tell you something?
I just know we have a Father in Heaven who blesses us profusely.

Weeks ago I prayed for a little time away to be taught, to be quiet, and to get ready for a new year.  This trip I'm about to take is an absolute, miraculous gift.
I almost forget that sometimes in the day to day stress of getting things ready to go.

I sometimes forget how absolutely blessed I am to have the beautiful, large family I have.  I forget how lucky I am to be perfectly in love and married to my best friend.  I forget that to be able to work and to serve is a gift.
This is the life that I created.  I love it.

Today, once again, I remember and I am grateful.
Life is good!
(Ben likes peanut butter and has his mother's eyes.)

August 05, 2014

A Happy Family

We are visiting the beach with all of Todd's siblings- 11 adults (Todd is still at a conference) and 28 kids.  We have two separate houses.

I could gush for hours about this trip, but I am going to turn off my phone and savor my morning hours.

I wanted to say one thing.
Good, close families are beautiful.
How I love my brothers and sisters in-law.  I feel safe here with them.

We drove yesterday to one beautiful, local attraction.  I was sandwiched in the middle of the caravan with a van full of kids.  As I followed, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of safety, love, and peace.  My brother in laws take good care of me.  My sister in laws are good, good people. I love them.  

Family is the best.
These are good parents who are all trying to raise good children.
We love each other, we help each other, we laugh together, we cherish quirks, we parent differently and similarly.  It is so fun to be together.
In this there is safety and peace.

Being with family (and being at the beach) makes me want to be with my own family more.
I hope all of you have fond memories of being with family in your childhood.
I am a friend person-- I love people easily.  But, there is just something special about family.
Oh, I'm so grateful to be alive, to be at the beach, and to be with FAMILY.
This is good.

August 01, 2014

Ellie is Eleven

This girl!!
Oh sweet Ellie, how I love you.

I wish every one of you could know this child.
Ellie is bright, shining and sharp.
She is social and very aware of social nuances.

Ellie is a great fashionista.  Her nails are always painted with funky designs and evidence of her kind heart shows through on the nails of all who live in or visit our home.  

Ellie is creative.  She is always making something.  

She's funny and feisty and inspiring.

Honestly- Ellie is so much like me.  She has had to learn to control her emotional soul.  She loves easily.  She is so much fun to be around.  

Ellie writes me notes all the time.
Ellie helps me pick out accessories.
Ellie feels the Spirit.
Ellie is quick to pitch in when I need a hand.
Ellie is GREAT with little kids.
Ellie keeps friends, writes letters, calls people, and gives good gifts.
I feel so blessed to be her mother.
I have loved this beautiful little girl from the days I carried her in my womb.
She is an angel.

Happy Birthday Lady!!
You are really growing up.
I hear that eleven is the year young ladies begin to do their dish jobs happily!!
;)
It's going to be a great year!!!
Mwah!!

Ps-- eleven is still WAY too young for makeup and stiletto heals...

July 29, 2014

Just so you don't worry...



We have a full line-up of fun that is beginning to push us through these summer weeks.  

I will try to post off and on, but don't be surprised if I'm more off than on.

My world is blooming and beautiful. 
My children and my calves are growing before my eyes.
My feathered ladies have begun to lay the most adorable eggs.
We have vacuumed and cleaned out our van in preparation for fun trips ahead.
I'm re-visiting my "morning routine" which I have missed for... Oh, about a year and a half!

I am dabbling with the idea of resuming an exercise regimen (gasp).
I am listening to glorious audible books as I putter around the house.

Yesterday, I sorted and purged the girls' clothes (again).  Leah (who gets the most hand me downs and usually has an armoire that is quite full) said, "Mom!! This is so good!!  I can see all my clothes!!"
(Too much is harder to deal with than too little!)

I miss our long philosophical chats, but I am remembering my niche as a mother.

I absolutely love to sing songs, read Mother Goose Rhymes, and play ring around the rosy.

My children are my friends- and I'm just getting to know and like them again.  (Is that bad to admit?)  I grew away from them a bit as I focuses on my own personal recovery.

My oldest boys are growing up before my eyes.  Jakob looks down on me now and I feel that I have always looked up to him.  Oh-- the JOY of teenagers.  Yes, there is heartache.  But- wow!  I love these kids.  

We have become a team.  They are so fun and helpful (when they are not being not fun and unhelpful- ha!).
I am still the coach-- but, I am not the high-scorer these days.

My children love to quote my sigh of exasperation as we played Memory one afternoon.  They think I was absolutely serious when I sighed "I don't even care if you guys beat me because I beat Eve ever single day."  Ha!  It's true.  But, I'm sure I won't be able to beat Eve much longer.  Isn't it amazing how smart these little whiper-snappers are?!

Summer is beautiful.
I hope you swim.
I hope you feel sand beneath your toes.
I hope your toy bins get all mixed up, your kitchen floors are sticky, you find wet swimsuits on your carpet, and your windows are forever fingerprinted!
I hope you laugh, LOVE, and take a nap.

Today- we are alive and blessed.
I am grateful for family.
I'm grateful for summer. 
Life is SO good.

July 24, 2014

Surrendering to Summer

I surrender.

I'm waving my white flag of defeat.
I don't care one whit that my garden is growing weeds and it is!
(Lettuce in the grass.)

Weed ground cover is my contribution to organic gardening.

I believe the grass is growing better inside our garden than outside.
 I think it's funny.
(Peppers in the grass.)

We still have tomatoes and peppers and kale and corn and onions (I have no idea what to do with the onions) and an artichoke... but, this is not the year of the garden.

Who cares?!
Yellow squash grow in weeds!

I'm almost ready to surrender my whole life.  My house, my kids, my job... I just don't know.

This-- right here-- this is the summer that I can NOT do it all.  I can't keep my house from looking like I have 8 (messy) children.  (I can't even surrender without offending someone.  My house is OK it's just not my ok.)

Honestly, my van was stinky and I found a bag of sausage next to Ben's car seat.  Sausage?!  It was beyond gross.
(Me, taking pictures in my garden with a lap full of junk I grabbed to throw away on my way out of my van.  This morning I went to a funeral for my dear friend's wife, and then I had two physicals, and now I'm home.)

Yesterday, I noticed a loaf of bread under the benches in the van.  I was laying outside talking on the phone to a friend when Eve came out of the house with a butter knife and a jar of jelly.  Seriously?  I grabbed the loaf of bread (from my van) and let her make sandwiches for herself and Ben.  I surrender.

I'm always ten minutes late and I'm battling with the mountains of laundry.  I'm doing it, but I'm not DOING it.  I'm enduring and it takes endurance.  This summer is almost as hard as last summer was.  Last summer I was clinging to life, this summer I'm clinging to normal.  Will I always feel like I've talked my way into an honors class that is a bit over my head?  

I'm the little girl who is doggy paddling in the deep end.  I'm certain life guards are watching close to see if I'm swimming or drowning.  I'm smiling, so I think I'm swimming, but if the waves turn on again, I'm sure I'll drown.

My To Do lists feel stagnant.  Both Todd and I are tired.  I'm so sick of pushing forward, climbing, trying, that I'm about to surrender.
(My kitchen today, I was gone and nobody cleaned up breakfast.)
(The boys folded laundry while I was gone.)

Have I arrived at my midlife crisis?  Am I halfway through my marathon and just hitting my wall?  Am I screaming for an epidural when I'm just 2cm away from a beautiful new birth?  I think I already delivered the baby and I'm still trying to push out that dang placenta.  Yes- I cuss about placentas sometimes.  :)

Is this surrender something that I should lean into?  (I imagine on the other end of  surrender might be the land of grace.)  Or, are these the days that I need to tell myself to just keep swimming?  Am I almost there?  (Perhaps my surrender needs to be a grit-filled,"I'm going to climb this mountain even if it kills me", head down, feet moving surrender.) Are these the days I keep planting, pruning, and pushing forward because the harvest years are coming?  Or am I stupid for even planting a garden?

If I didn't plant a garden I wouldn't see my weeds, but I wouldn't have any cute peppers either.

Last week I went with my favorite husband to a dinner for his work.  It was fancy, almost black tie (the chancellor of SU spoke). I, um, didn't quite get the fancy message.  I changed quickly after returning from a birthday party and fixing a quick dinner for my kids.  I wore white linen and sandles.  Todd told me I was beautiful and shining, but I knew I was unmanicured and under dressed.  

I felt honored to be there.  My heart swells just rembering the good people I met who are doing great things in this world.  I had a chance to talk for sometime with the chancellor and his sweet wife, Ruth.  They are such good, inspiring people.  I'm not sure they even noticed my sandles.

Right now, I'm typing away on my phone while my kids play around me.
My gardens have weeds and my pool has leaves.  My house needs me and my kids need me.  And, I surrender.

I'm done with this blog.  I'm putting on my swim suit and I'm going to play!
Drew is my pool cleaner and he asks-- "Mom, why on earth would anyone ever plant a garden around a pool?"
Haha.
Can you see the fuzzy purple tree that is just about to dump it's fuzz into the pool?
Haha
I surrender.
Gardens around pools are beautiful.
We choose to embrace the leaves in our pool.  :)
It's summer.
I'm just hanging on.
Fall will come, my children will grow, my van will be clean, and my gardens will be weeded.
Right?
Just say yes.

Today, I am SO glad I planted a dumb garden.  I have squash!
I'm not always pretty- but I'm there.
I'm here.  I'm living.  I'm smiling.
And sometimes, the only difference between drowning and swimming IS the smile on your face.

I surrendor many battles but I'm still in the war.
I'm winning.
I'm swimming.
And my squash doesn't mind weeds.
Life is good!!!!

(My baby is jumping into the pool and I don't have one more moment to read over this silly blog-- I have leaves in my pool, weeds in my garden and typos in my blog.  And, I'm ok with that!)
Happy summer!!!

July 22, 2014

Life.

Boy howdy!  I have a lot of kids.

Life is good!

July 21, 2014

Feels Like Family

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints call one another Brother and Sister.  Even if you are not LDS, the closer my children feel to you, the more they will call you Sister Ball or Sister Post.  I'm certain their teachers at school are used to hearing this.
We joined 5-6,000 people to view the Hill Cumorah Pagaent in Palmyra this Friday.
The Pagaent itself was beautiful to watch.  With close to 700 volunteer actors, families who participate together, it was inspiring.  I was amazed at the special effects.  It was more fun to watch than 4th of July fireworks.  There were storms, waterfalls, explosion, destruction, and Christ coming down from Heaven.
My phone was over full so I didn't get any good pictures.

I was disturbed at the protestors, but love the sense of community they inspired in my children.  It's almost like we could feel the evil and unkindness pouring out of those (paid for by other churches) to shout obscenities and religious slurs at us through megaphones.  The stark contrast between their anger and our calm, gentle, peace was palpable.  We felt proud to stand with the Mormons and our friends of every religion.  

We met family and friends from all over the country.  There are so many good people around the world.  It was fun to start talking to families we haven't seen in years, and pick up right where we left off.

We met the son of some of our best friends who is a missionary in the Rochester area.  I hugged him tight (grown women really aren't supposed to hug those missionaries) from his mother, and got all teary feeling his kindness and glow.  He felt like family.

I just know that's what Heaven will feel like.  

Well, minus the crazy guy who stormed the stage yelling and howling.  My friend, a volunteer who was asked to do security, was the one who had to tackle him to the ground and help escort him off the stage.  Oh my!  What a night.
Next year, our family is going to apply to be in the Pagaent.  So, you should all plan a trip to Central New York to come visit us.

It's beautiful here.
We'll call you Brother and Sister and have a fun family reunion.
Because really- we are all family.
We should love each other more.
Life is good.

July 18, 2014

Crumbs.

Yesterday was a crumby day.
I felt tired and crabby.  I spent the whole day avoiding a desperately overdue trip to the grocery store.
My kids played indoors- creative play that brought little pieces of my house to create a new house for their animals who were living on my bookshelves.  The books are piled all over my living room.  This will be a hard clean.
Sigh.

The only redeeming part of yesterday was tasting every Wegman's free sample and finding two of the most delicious salami rolls (bricks?) ever.  Oh my.  Soo good.  I think I might always have to buy cool salami.  

We had a thrown together dinner- but it was perfect.  Fresh ciabatta from a local bakery, salami, caprese salad with basil from our garden, dragon fruit, yummy olives, tiny roasted Brussels sprouts, fresh lemonade, mushrooms and baby carrots with dip.  Mmm.

Even crumby days can end well.

I'm searching out some energy-- I've contacted my healthiest friends to get their opinion.  Do you have vitamins or supplements you love?  I currently take nothing and feel the need to pour some vitamins and minerals into my cells.  (Also wanting to start my kids on something.)

I'm certain today will be a beautiful, rainbow day!!  It's Friday! Wish me luck!!
  I think I may just have some salami with my breakfast.  ;)

July 17, 2014

Sisters

I take my kids in small bites.
Because we are always together in a large group, times to have them one on one or one on two are essential.

Todd and I both take a kid or two wherever we go.  We combine fun things with errands.  Whenever I spend time with my kids outside of the pack, I always come home thinking how much I like them.  I really like the children I'm raising. 

(They both sat on my lap to get their shots.  It made me laugh.  They were joking, even though I knew they were a little bit nervous.  They're growing up, but they'll always be my little girls.)
Since we haven't been watching TV or playing video games, there is a lot more creative play happening.
This was a rendition of Frozen.  
It was adorable.
(Cute Olaf)
My girls like to coordinate their outfits.  
They make me laugh.
Goof balls.

Today, I'm grateful to be a mom.
Grateful for an afternoon of physicals, haircuts, and bathing suit shopping.
I love these girls.  
I thought I loved them as babies, and I did.
But, big kids are SO fun.  
They really are becoming my friends.  
I love it.

Life is good.

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