Thursday, November 5, 2009

Another milestone in our lives

Yesterday our oldest daughter turned 18. All week as I have thought about her birthday, I have also been thinking how quickly she will be leaving. Another few months and she will be away at college. That, and maybe the new medicine I'm on, has made me a little melancholy. I can actually feel the apron strings in my heart being pulled to the breaking point.

I guess I got used to boys leaving, but now our first girl will soon leave the nest. I almost can't bear to think about when the girls were little. It was such a precious time. I think girls are easier than boys when they are young and having four young daughters was magical. Now, all but the youngest are teenagers and I can see her growing up right before my eyes.

Of course, I 'm glad that they are maturing and progressing. I wouldn't have it any other way. Only it's bittersweet.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Finding a little "peace" of heaven

My husband and I were sitting in the living room of our house this morning. We had spent a terribly stressful night with a child (our exchange student) in the emergency room. All morning we had talked to each other and others involved in the exchange program of all that had happened. We had little sleep and further worries to tire us. Then my husband made a simple comment. "This is a lovely room." I looked where he was looking and began to see not only the lovely objects, but the serenity of the room.

I remember in planning the house that it had been my desire to create a Celestial room for our home. I tried to choose soothing colors and objects to that end. My husband purposely added a stained glass that is found in the Celestial room of the Nauvoo Temple and I unwittingly chose a chandelier almost identical to the one in the baptistry of the Cuidad Juarez Temple.

As I looked about the room serenity and peace began to replace the stress, anger, and confusion I felt. It impressed me that our surroundings do indeed affect our mood and state of mind. I was grateful to have such a room in our home and that the clutter present to some degree in every other room of our house is absent in our Celestial living room.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Why I'm boiling mad

I usually don't write about when I'm upset, because I don't think it will be very good reading for anyone else, but today I need to vent.

Yesterday, Bill and I had an interview with the liason couple for our foreign exchange student.
That is why I am P.O.'d. First, I mentioned that I had had a hectic day and asked the woman how her day was, if it was busy. She replied in an arch tone, "Yes, I work ALL day long." In other words she is employed and feels that she works harder than a stay-at-home mom. Okay, I can be big. I let that pass and asked about her work. But it got worse.

This couple had taken Marion out to see a rodeo last month and talked with her. Marion had also gone to a sort of camp out at Ruidoso last month. I told Marion if she had any complaints and wasn't comfortable telling us, to tell the AFS people.

At first the couple just asked us how things were going and we said "Great!"; Marion is a jewel-a darling girl. But, we told them we thought she was experiencing depression lately and it was to be expected as the handbook told us there would be peaks and valleys and she was in a valley. We told them we had invited our daughter's boyfriend over to cheer her up, as he has become a friend. He brought another boy with him who came over to ask Marion to the homecoming dance, and Marion was very excited about that.

Then they began telling us of things that Marion had told them she was not happy about. One was religion. Our practicing our religion makes her uncomfortable. She doesn't believe in God. We were confused by that because we not only didn't force her to participate in family prayer, scripture study, family home evening, or church; we don't even ASK her. Sometimes she has been in the room and when we invited everyone to join us she came but didn't kneel or close her eyes. We were fine with that. Anyway, I told her after we came back, that she was not obligated to do even that, that she could simply leave the room.

Next: She is bored. She doesn't want to stay in her room and do nothing. Okay, well, I have told her she needs to extend herself and make friends. We are pretty boring, but when we do anything, we invite her. Sometimes she comes, sometimes she doesn't. What I tell my children is that, "Only boring people are bored. Find something to do." I haven't told her that. I know it's hard being in a strange country and not really having friends. I've actually been there and done that. But, like I said, you have to reach out. No one is going to do it for you.

Finally, at home she was used to family meals every night. She has a point. We always sit down together on Sunday, but during the week I average 3-4 nights of home cooked meals and we sit down to those, but the rest are either take-out or restaurants. With volleyball games two and three times a week, I find it hard to cook everynight. I would like to do better and plan ahead.

So, the reason why I'm boiling mad is not that Marion had complaints. I am glad she confided in someone and we can try to make some changes to help her and encourage her to help herself in making friends. The reason is the patronization of the woman liason. She told me, "I know when our (two) children were younger (they're both grown and gone from home) it was busy, but I always made sure we had dinner together. I had to leave abruptly to pick Chelsea and her friend up from volleyball practice, so I said, "You know, I want to make this work, but if Marion is too unhappy, maybe she would be better off placed with a non-religious family who do more fun things."

I felt like crying when I left. How dare this woman-who had TWO children- make judgements about my life. She has no idea what it is to mother six children, much less nine children, three daughter-in-laws, four grandchildren, two dogs and a husband who works all the time. I felt like crying last night, but I'm angry today.

I know I need to forgive this lady. She was trying to do her "job", and just had certain prejudices about SAHM's. I can accept that. I just hate the intrusive part of having a foreign exchange student. It started before she came and I almost backed out because of it, but I decided to stick it out. She's wonderful and we are very happy to have her in our family. Every family has issues they have to work out and I believe we can do this. But, the idea of meeting with this liason couple every month sticks in my craw.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Family Council: the (other) fight that starts with prayer

We, meaning my husband and I, have decided that we need to have more Family Councils.  We want to foster discussions of all sorts of things-anything anyone feels a need to bring up.  We hope that everyone will feel they have a voice, that they can be heard, and that their concerns and opinions will be respected.  To say that we are not there, yet, would be quite an understatement.  To say that we are more near to chaos, anarchy, and WWIII would not be much of an over-statement.  It would be funny if it didn't hurt.  Yesterday, after dinner, Dad tried vainly to establish rules of order and to keep said order, but ended up yelling for order-not that I blame him-you just had to be there.  I felt that if we could harness the power of "rolling eyes" we could have generated a good week of power for our home.   Now there's an idea that hasn't been brought to the attention of those trying to find alternate sources of energy.  

Which reminds me: there is a sign on Country Club Rd which advises that the street will be closed for repairs and that an "alternet" route should be used.  Things like this bother me each and every time I see them.  I suppose I should save my worry for larger things, but I consider it a sign of the dumbing down of America.  You worry about the large stuff and I will take care of worrying about the little things.

However, back to our Family Council, which I wished I could leave as I feel all of us did,  Nevertheless, we persevered, covering all the topics Mom and Dad brought to the table.  In the future we hope that the children will also bring ideas for discussion, but tonight it was all us. While Dad vainly struggled to keep order, Mom fought to keep peace, and son #4 tried to tell us how we were doing it all wrong, and son #5 tried to keep from laughing, and daughters #1-3 tried to either tell us how unfair we were or to leave, sometimes simultaneously, and daughter #4 kept telling us how no-one listens to her.  I hope you get the general idea and "feel my pain".

This isn't the first time we have had a Family Council and won't be the last.  It is just that we feel that if we have them more regularly we will get better at it and maybe there will come a day when we can all listen to each other and be more accepting.  In that day we can settle disagreements more civilly and show each other more respect.  I have to believe that that day can come.  Otherwise, I couldn't sit through another one of these if you paid me!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Family is great, isn't it?

I have one of my grown children home for a month.  Everyone, especially his four sisters, were thrilled that he was coming "home".  It's so fun to see how happy my children are to be together.  That first night no one wanted to go to sleep; they talked and laughed, teased each other, and even tickled and wrestled each other. 

Our precious nine year old daughter (the youngest) was so excited that he was coming that she wanted to make him a cake, and not just any cake.  She got out her little recipe book and chose to make one that included a 9X13 pan and another smaller cake for the top that was the shape of a dome.  Then she frosted it all and, lacking the correct ingredients, proceeded to make an original crumb topping out of several ingredients she found.  It was delicious. I was so amazed because she didn't need any help from me and that she would go to all that trouble for her brother.  

Tonight when the oldest daughter(17) came home from work she was a little weepy and told us of fighting with a boy at work.  When her brothers (four were at home at the time because the oldest son had cooked) heard how this boy had treated her, they all wanted to go to his house and threaten him.  I managed to keep them home and cool them down, but inside I was proud of them that they wanted to protect their sister and that they had learned one of my rules so well (boys don't fight girls) and were outraged that another boy had not followed the code.

I've been worried about how my children, lately.  Then, they go and show me that I don't need to worry at all.  I just need to keep loving them and watch them turn into wonderful adults.  I'm glad I get to be related to these amazing people and that they seem to love me, too.

Monday, July 13, 2009

What is normal?

Some of our daughters think our family isn't normal.  They told us that tonight as we were trying to have a family discussion.  They could be right.  But, which family is normal?  How do we decide what constitutes normal?  I used to be sure that it was the TV show Father Knows Best's family.  I've thought of all my friends' families.  And, sorry guys, but I can't think of any of you that have a more "normal" family than ours.  I'm not denying that we're weird.  It's just that everyone else is weird, too, in some ways.  We were recently interviewed as a family to test our suitability for being a host family for a foreign exchange student.  We didn't think the interviewers were any less weird than we are.  And, that's why we were having the discussion.  Apparently we passed and our family will soon be hosting a young lady from France.  We're all concerned that she will have to make a lot of adjustments to living with us.  We just hope it won't be too hard for her, or us.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What did it all mean and where did it go? My trip to Europe

I can't actually say it was my life-long dream to go to Europe. I never even thought it was a possibility. It was too big a dream and I think consequently I still have a hard time realizing that I was really there. At times I would stop and say to myself, "You're at the Eiffel Tower!" or "This is actually the leaning Tower of Pisa, not a picture!" I even took a picture of myself standing on the stones of the Colliseum. (see above).

It was really all too much. I couldn't take it in. It was that feeling, I think, that made me concentrate on more mundane things, like toilets. You can't get any more "real" than that. I have pictures of "Toilets across Europe". They are different, more scarce in public, and often, cleaner, with attendants that need tipped. That's funny. One didn't tip in Europe except in toilets.

One of my favorite memories was one that was difficult at the time. I was lost, by myself, in Paris. I had to go back to the hotel by myself to retrieve my moneybelt which held not only money, but credit cards and passports. In other words, everything I needed and could least afford to lose. Thus, my solo trip through the metro including changes (to different lines). My problem was that I hadn't paid quite enough attention on the way to the Eiffel Tower as I was simply a follower of the guide and our group. On the way back I saw the name of the street on which our hotel was located and got off, only to find when I emerged from underground that nothing looked familiar. This was because, I later discovered, the street was correct, but it was a long street and I had hopped off too soon. I tried to re-enter the metro, but (remember that part about my money belt being at the hotel) was unable to buy another ticket and mine had run out.

So, my options were to walk, but which way? I tried unsuccessfully to go this way and that but still nothing looked familiar. I was getting a little panicked, but remembered to say a prayer. I asked Heavenly Father to send me someone who could speak English and be able to help me. A few minutes later as I fruitlessly studied the map above the Metro, a woman neared me and I asked if she spoke English. She answered positively and I asked if she could help me. She was so gracious. She was a Librarian in town for a convention and was on her way to a local library to spend the day observing. She had some time before her appointment and apent it all helping me to find my way. She even took me to the llibrary and used the internet to find the exact address of the hotel. Finally, she got me going in the right way and I walked the rest of the way to the hotel.

Am I back? Hi, Mom

I am totally surprised that I still have access to this blog, but as I attempted to create a new blog that would be linked to my Google page (so that I wouldn't forget to write on it) I discovered that my old blog was still active, so here I am.

My precious daughter-in-law, Courtney, has a beautiful blog. It is always so well written and illustrated. I have never understood how she could possibly have the time with all of her school and work commitments to blog at all, much less such an impessive and professional looking blog. I know her mother, Sue, agrees. It's such a treat to read.

Then, my friend, Jen, has a professional blog. She even has advertisers and gets paid to blog. Wow! Her articles are always so well informed and helpful. I know she has a large readership.

I, on the other hand, doubt my ability to string together two sentences that make sense, much less make any difference. However, I have been so impressed by Courtney and Jen and have thought it would be a good way to communicate with my mother and other family and old friends. So, with out further explanation, I am back. Hi, Mom!

Am I back? Hi, Mom

I am totally surprised that I still have access to this blog, but as I attempted to create a new blog that would be linked to my Google page (so that I wouldn't forget to write on it) I discovered that my old blog was still active, so here I am.

My precious daughter-in-law, Courtney, has a beautiful blog. It is always so well written and illustrated. I have never understood how she could possibly have the time with all of her school and work commitments