Thursday, March 21, 2019

Apricot Chicken...and some good soups

We have one recipe that we make on repeat the vast majority of Sundays.

I don't have any fancy pictures of it, and I'm sure it's not the most healthy thing on the planet, but I've had a lot of requests to share it lately so here goes.

You ready?  It's pretty complicated...HA!

All you do is mix these up in a bowl:
1 c. apricot jam or preserves
1 c. french dressing
1 pkg. Lipton onion soup mix

Arrange frozen chicken breasts (8-10 of them or double that if you're using tenderloins like I have in the picture above) in a 9x13 pan, and pour that mixture right over the top.

Bake at 350, uncovered, for an hour (a little less if you're using the smaller tenderloins).

Serve over rice.  

Extra good with THIS or THIS or THIS as a side salad (just omit the chicken from that last one if you're making it with this).  And usually my girls whip up THIS flat bread too.

Also, I wanted to share my friend Lillie's recipes (I totally don't "know" her, but I love her because she has the best recipes ever).  

Her blog is over HERE, but I follow her mostly on Instagram because she has so many good ideas.

And since we're winding down winter over here, I'm sharing a couple of her soups that I've made lately...

I love looking at stuff like this:
(and feeling all healthy that there are all those veggies in there)

...that turns into this:
(Recipe for that chili is HERE.)

She's good at helping me use my Instant pot too...all that stuff up there goes into here:
 ...with a few more things added:
 ...and after the cooking but before the cauliflower:
 You get the idea. 

And if you pair any of those soups with this from Trader Joes:
Then you've got yourself a pretty great meal.  (We use half applesauce to replace half of the oil and it's better for you and still so so good...our family favorite for sure.)  Yes, still not the best side dish as far as healthy goes, but when you have all those veggies packed into your soup it makes it totally ok:)

Lillie has lots of other recipes I love as well, but for today, just sharing the soups. 

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

ten ways to manage pre-adolescence

Ha!  Did that title fool you into thinking that I actually know how to manage roller coasters of emotions?

To be honest, I actually thought I was doing pretty well at that task with my four older kids.

Or maybe I just forgot.  You know how you forget stuff like how tough it is to be pregnant until you are eight months in and you can't sleep and you're just so dang anxious to meet that baby you can hardly stand it? 

Anyway, I'm in the thick of this pre-adolescence thing right about now.  Some parts I get right, sometimes purely by accident.  It reminds me of those miraculous nights when my babies were tiny and they actually slept through the night.  I would wake up completely refreshed feeling like I won the lottery.

I remember so very well trying to determine why they had slept so well.  The next night I would painstakingly work to remember the exact process of the night before...use the same blanket, swaddle just so, I'd feed that baby just how I would remember I did the night before, and tiptoe out just sure all my hard work would give me another night with good sleep.  Only to wake from my slumber an hour later, back to the starting line.

Well, that's kind of how this pre-adolescent time is going with this girl of mine:
Oh there are some good times.  Times when I am a "durable object" patient as can be with outbursts.  There are times when I can get that iron will to bend enough to try something new and she comes out victorious.  Times when all the stars align and that smile comes out and brightens all the world around.  

But then there are the times when I can't do anything right to save my soul.

So, I've been collecting little "tips" that work along the way.  And I'm sharing them here so I can remember them.  Most of these ones are from a little conference on social technology of all places.  I wish I could give credit to someone in particular but these are my notes from a couple really good talks:

1)  When kids are upset, have them drink a glass of water.  This allows time to slow down and internalize feelings for you and for your child.  Maybe I need to drink more water...

2)  Instead of asking yes or no questions, start more with something like this:  "Tell me more about..."

3)  Give them their dignity.  Help them make their voice heard.  I LOVE the repenting bench for getting kids to talk and articulating feelings as one example.  They keep their dignity as they discuss and take ownership of their actions (I wrote all about the repenting bench HERE).

4)  Let them be involved in the "rules." Ask them for their input. "When this happens, how should I react?  What do you think is a fair natural consequence when one of us makes a mistake?"

5)  Help them transform feelings of frustration rather than transmit them to all those around them.  An underdeveloped brain (that of a pre-adolescent child) cannot transform easily.  Come up with a strategy to help.

6)  Use the formula LML ("Let Me Listen") and really just listen, offering minimal input.

7)  In order to really connect, we need this formula: V+V=C ("Vulnerability + Validation = Connection)  We need to let our kids feel safe being vulnerable when they talk.  Which means we can't jump in and judge or try to fix.  Like I said back in this post about teenagers back HERE, we need to be ok to stand back and watch the waves of the rollercoasters that come with all those hormones bouncing around in their bodies.  We need to set and example of letting ourselves be vulnerable right along with them.

8)  We need to not try to pull them out of the "holes" they sometimes find themselves in.  We need to get right in there with them and validate how they're feeling.  Let them figure out how to pull themselves out.

9)  Show them that you see them.  I'm not talking about seeing them physically there, I'm talking about SEEING them.  Seeing them for who they are.  Seeing their problems and worries are real.  Seeing that they are trying.  A friend once pointed out to me the beauty of this picture of Christ many years ago:

It's been one of my favorites ever since.

My friend pointed out how Christ is really THERE with those children as evidenced by those hands cradling that child's face.  I have taken that to heart with Lucy and even my older kids sometimes.  I feel like it helps so much with her moods when I take her face in my hands and look her right in the eye, hopefully spilling out my love to her and letting her know I am THERE.  

I love this picture from Max's wedding where you can see that eye contact in the background...see us back there on the right?:
Ok, not quite hands on her face, but you get the idea.  I hope she feels heard. (and I think Abby's feeling "heard" by her dad in that pic too...never too old to want to have your parent look at you with all that adoration. :)

10) Appreciate the moments.  I've long been a believer that there can be a bazillion tough, excruciating moments, but that if we stop to let the beautiful ones sink in, they have the power to outweigh all the tough ones a hundred fold.  I LOVE how beautifully Rachel Nielson explains this principle in the I Am Mom Summit over HERE (if you're not registered you can still register over HERE for a few more days. So many gems in that thing!)  Rachel's is one of those talks I've been thinking about a lot over the last week.  She is so good!

I'd love to hear other ways people have found to stay even keel with all these hormones running haywire around their homes. Often we talk about girls having these emotional upheavals but I know it's very true for boys as well, sometimes in just different ways.  And I know there are so many good parenting ideas out there.  Please share!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

life experiences

I came across this quote a while back:

“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.”

--Rene Daumal

I've been thinking so much lately about all the experiences we go through in life to give us those "summits" where we can gain new "sight."  

Whether they be education, a new job that is stretching, helping someone who is sick (I know that wouldn't generally be considered a "summit," but you can learn so much compassion from something like that, which gives so much more life experience to learn from and to navigate other parts of life with), parenting (gosh, that can sure bring you both the "summits" and the "descents" for sure!), pushing yourself to make a new friend, traveling, reaching out to those who might need your light, reaching for and trying to grasp and learn from the good examples of light surrounding each of us, making tough choices (those sure bring you to the "summit" in my opinion!).

Even reading a book that transports you to another time or place, something that helps you see life from a different perspective is a "summit" that can help us "see" better in my opinion.

I love when I discover myself at those "summits," the tough ones as well as the glowing ones, learning and growing, and can recall them when things aren't feeling quite so stretching ("one descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen").  And as a mother, especially of older children, I love seeing my children at their own summits, watching them learn and grow in ways only the world and others can provide for them.

And gradually learning the "art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up...when one can no longer see, one can at least still know."

I could go into so many tangible experiences where I've seen the beauty of this thought unfold, but for today I'll leave it right there with a challenge for us all to try to get to more "summits" in life...or maybe just recognize the ones we are in right now.  In my opinion, they are all around us, there for the taking.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Sunday Ponderings on a Monday -- a little tip for Come Follow Me

I may as well start calling these “Monday Ponderings” instead of Sunday ones since I tend to be a little late on them.  I’m slowly getting my act together around here, but here we are again on a Monday :)

I love the new program our church is doing called Come Follow Me.

It’s a study guide complete with all kinds of study helps, questions and thoughts to ponder as we study the New Testament this year (you can find it HERE, and I already wrote a little about it HERE, and also a little bit HERE).

I love it first of all because it is so beautifully anchored in the scriptures and the life of Christ.  I have learned so much this year and it’s still just March!

But I also love it because we are all studying the same thing. Sunday School, Primary, Young Women, etc. all talking through the same scriptures. So when we discuss as a family, the kids have things to add from what they’ve learned at church, and at church they can contribute with what we’ve studied at home.  It is a pretty awesome cycle, so simple yet fantastic.

We’ve struggled a little bit with our family meetings to get kids to do more of the teaching but I’ve discovered something that really helps.

So I figured I better share it.

Super simple but it kinda works wonders around here.When I review the lesson myself (which means I have to STUDY the lesson myself, which doesn’t always happen, so don’t go thinking I’m all perfect at this…).  But when I do, I underline and circle parts I think that the girls could give a good lesson on.  Just little segments so they’re not overwhelmed, and then I text the screenshot to them like this:

Or this:

Did you know if you take a screenshot it gives you an option to use some little tools that come up at the bottom of the screen to underline, star, or circle?  And you can underline all pretty by highlighting the text you like and choosing what you want to do to mark it up.

I know, I really am missing my calling as a tech-whiz I tell you!

(Actually my brother taught me that handy-dandy thing, and probably everyone else on the planet knows it except for me, but just in case you didn’t know that fun fact, there you go.  It’s pretty cool.)

Yesterday we had to have our little family meeting in the car after church en route to pick up Bo from where we left her while we were gone for Spring Break and we were a little pressed for time and Dave had meetings all day.  Sooo, I had the girls just pull out their phones, pull up LDS tools, and each read a paragraph and a few of the scriptures and we had a pretty great car discussion.

Sure, I complain about technology taking my girls hostage at times, but then something like that happens and I want to just hoist technology on my shoulders and pat it on the back because it is pretty grand to be able to have all that at your fingertips.

Also, I love that I teach primary so sometimes I have little things from my lessons that I can bring home and add to our lessons:And my girls perk up and think they actually have a fancy mother.

So there you go, just a little thing that helps around here, hoping it helps fellow strugglers out there!

Friday, March 15, 2019

2019 family snapshot

Each year I write a “family snapshot”…just some notes on how life is going in that little “snapshot” of time right then.

So I’m a little late for 2019, but then, I’m a little late every year so we’re really right on track :)

It still feels strange to only have three kids at home, and now we’re getting ready to lose another one.  I hate letting kids go.  Grace has gone through the normal ups and downs of teenagerhood but adores high school and is almost as sad as I am to feel the end coming close.
2019 02 05 iPhone 214840
…although that picture doesn’t show it.  Ha!  We both try to put on a happy face but letting her go isn’t going to be pretty.  She adds so much light and life to this house.

She loves student council and is firmly planted in full-blown senioritis WAY too early.
2019 02 09 iPhone 215205

Speaking of high school, these two high schoolers are loving life being together at that big school for this one year they get together:
2019 02 03 winter 214636
I think Claire is going to go through withdrawals next year without her big sister.  And Grace is going to miss her like crazy when she heads off to college. Love that they are such good friends, and that they’re both into film photography (they are both taking that class at school, but different hours).

They get to be together for tennis though so hooray!  And there’s not much better than see them out there on those courts just swinging at those balls.
2019 02 25 tennis 215842
2019 02 25 tennis 215860
(Lots more about tennis over HERE.)

Ok, and speaking of girls, I have four girls who ALMOST all wear the same size shoes as I do (Lucy is only a half size away from the rest of us).  We can all wear the same shirts too so that’s kinda fun.
2018 12 20 Max s wedding 210610
…except when I find my shirts scrunched up into little balls in the backs of their closets.

Then it’s not that fun.  Ha!

The girls love all things 80s right now.

How strange it is that all the horrible stuff I wore in high school is now back in fashion:)  Should have kept a closet-full of it.

We have dwindled down to only Lucy taking piano lessons.  We gave a valiant effort to at least keep Claire going, even Claire herself wanted to make that work, but we just couldn’t make it happen with volleyball and tennis and homework.

Everyone still practices though as part of their “job charts” that still hang in our kitchen (more on that HERE), and I love having the house filled with that piano music.

Speaking of job charts, the girls aren’t so hot at keeping up on those these days, but they know they have to do their practicing and their reading before they go anywhere else so they get it done.

Lucy is in sixth grade and is starting to feel a little excitement mixed in with intimidation for junior high to roll around next year.  It makes us both a little nervous since her vision is declining rapidly right now but she has some great helpers that are going to help us through.

Lucy’s vision loss is emotional for all of us.  We try to tuck away those emotions and plug through, but it’s tricky business sometimes and we don’t know what to do with it.

So grateful for good teachers and services that help her in so many ways.  And grateful for this cane that gets her around all kinds of tricky terrain:
2019 03 11 iPhone 216377

Her fascination with Lego's is still going strong and it gives me a surge of happiness that she can still see them enough to follow all those tiny instructions.  She wills herself to do it and it works.
2019 01 06 iPhone 212251

Another one of Lucy’s favorite hobbies is math.  We find her like this lots of the time:
2018 11 14 iPhone 208478
Oh and cards.  Boy does that girl ever love cards!  She whips us into shape with Lucky Unders and Scum whenever she can.  And she is a trash talker extraordinaire. 

Lucy and I try to walk to school any chance we get.  We take Bo along.
2019 01 16 iPhone 213391
(She has a goal to get a mile in each school day and walking to and from school works out perfectly for that.)

I love that all those times telling myself "I love dogs” in the midst of drive-you-crazy puppyhood have paid off and now I really do love {at least one} dog.  We all do.

Even Dave.

And THAT’S a big deal.

Despite our most valiant efforts to keep shoes and socks put away, Bo almost always finds a sock to chew on.  She knows when she's done something naughty and sluths around hiding behind chairs, her head drooping in guilt.

There are a few English words Bo understands like magic.  One is "walk."  When one of us says it she scrambles up from wherever she is and stands super alert, her head cocked to the side so filled up with hope that "walk" is really what we mean.  And then she scrambles out the door in pure glee.  And she cracks us up every time.

We still have our family meeting every Sunday, this year it’s after church since church starts at 8:30 as of the new year.  We are getting used to the new two-hour church block and have stepped up those family meetings a notch with the new Come Follow Me church curriculum.  We are trying hard to get our girls preparing some of the lessons.  It is trickier than I thought not to spoon feed gospel stuff.  I want them to build their own foundation as they build their faith in Christ and it’s tricky to figure out the best ways to step back.  We try to assign the girls parts of the family lesson each Sunday.

Family scriptures are still at 6:30 every morning.  Sometimes we have them at the counter in the kitchen, Lucy's chin propped on the counter, eyes closed, all of us a little bleary-eyed.  During Christmas we stretched out in front of the fire and did Advent.  And now since I wrote that line we’re back in the family room for scriptures trying to incorporate the material from Come Follow Me for the week.  We have a loose “plan” that since we have five of us at home, we each lead family devotional/scriptures one day a week.  Sometimes this works, but the majority of the time Dave and I end up doing it.  We’ll get there if we just keep trying right??

Claire, as a Freshman in high school, has firmly planted herself in the volleyball-love club and has given up her adored soccer.
2019 02 16 winter 215134
She played on the freshman high school team during that season and just loves it.

I really do think we could see he grow if we stopped and watched…according to our measurements she grew an inch in December alone.  It will be interesting to see how tall all these kids get!

Max is MARRIED and Dave and I are still not quite sure how that happened.  Our heads and hearts are still spinning a bit but boy do we ever love our daughter-in-law!
2018 12 20 Max s wedding 210689
They are tucked all safe and sound in a little duplex in Provo, living the good, newly-married life.

Max is on the BYU volleyball team.  He’s redshirting this year and is loving being a part of that team with so much talent and kids from all over the world:
2019 02 14 iPhone 215047

Abby is taking Chinese and I love this picture her mom took of those two having a little Chinese conversation in the car when she was there visiting:
2019 01 31 iPhone 214093

Elle is living the good life over in Hawaii.  She’s majoring in Graphic Design and is almost done.  She’s doing an internship for a great graphic design company this summer and is excited about that.  

When she finally moves away from that island some day I wonder if she’ll ever feel comfortable in shoes again :)
2019 01 24 iPhone 213786
(We gave her those ones for Christmas and within minutes of our walk she had to have them off again.)

Lucy is very social.  She's pretty great at gathering the sweetest girls over and often draws them over to get them playing chess.
2019 01 18 winter 213019
Dave works from home.  I love to have him close, but we try not to get in each other's business since we both have lots of things to keep us busy during the day.  Every now and again we invite each other on a little date to get lunch.  We are so lucky.

Dave still plays pickle ball whenever he can squeeze it in. These guys sure have fun (there’s a rotating group, these are just the four for that day):
2019 01 18 iPhone 213444
He is still serving in the high council of our church congregation and serves working with the missionaries.  He is learning so much from that and enjoys working with so many missionaries from all over.  I'm so grateful for that guy.  And that he can juggle lots of balls in the air.  Stuff like leading the Turkey Trot for the last couple years to two different China trips in the same month and that he still works in pickleball and helping clean the kitchen and that he loves me.  And still makes me laugh after all these years.

Bo Jangles sleeps in the laundry room and when we're ready for scriptures in the morning we let her out and she goes and wakes everyone up with snorts of glee and wagging her body so much it often seems like she might give herself whiplash.

Lucy is our table setter.  She has been for years and she still takes pride in it.  She sets the dining table like this every Sunday...usually plus a chair for Josh and for whoever else may come join us:
Screen Shot 2019 03 09 at 9 03 13 AM
Also, we have apricot chicken the good majority of those Sunday dinners.  Sure, we branch out every now and again, but that’s for sure our “go to” and everyone loves it.

Yet our meals are shrinking.  Shrinking in quantities and shrinking in those sitting around the table.  Life seems more quiet.  Yet more bumpy.  With three adolescent girls, bouncing from happy to sad.  And back to happy again.

Grace has worked two jobs this Fall, then gave up her gig at up Old Navy and went to a political door-to-door polling job, and is now deep into tennis which takes up her working hours.  I miss her being with me in the kitchen, she’s always been the best helper, but Claire is stepping up for the task when she’s actually home.
2019 01 29 walls 213289
I love having my girls with me in the kitchen.

I'm not sure what gets Lucy going on her "kicks" but right now she could just about eat, sleep and breathe the broadway play soundtrack of Hamilton.  She is fascinated by every part of it and listens to it ALL THE TIME.  And asks me questions ALL THE TIME too.  "Why don't they ever talk about the third sister of Eliza?  Why don't they talk about Hamilton's brother?  Is this song after Hamilton dies?"  She'll work random little Hamilton facts into an every day conversation and I love how her mind works like that.

Ok, enough for now.  That’s how our life is rolling these days of 2019.  

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

some addendum items from the I Am Mom Summit

I’m excited to share some relationship ideas via the I Am Mom summit starting today.  (If you haven’t registered, get on over HERE to get yourself situated…).  I think my video will be up during the 1:00 hour today, Mountain Standard time…maybe near the end of the hour.  My parents will present at 10:00 MST so be sure to tune in then.

I’ll be honest, it wasn’t easy to record that thing!  I’m so technologically challenged it was tricky to figure out how to record myself, and stuff like that is SO far out of my comfort zone.  I think it’s weird how it was so awkward even to have Claire take a headshot for me let alone record myself talking.  We live in a generation where everyone (well, maybe the younger generation) is so comfortable being in front of a camera (selfies, vlogs, etc.) and I am just not.

But that recording is DONE, and I really am excited to share the ideas I have recorded there.  And guess what?  I even figured out how to share some pictures throughout the video along with my stories.  Maybe I’m missing my calling in the tech industry.  Ha!  I let it all hang out and just went for it. There’s too much to share to be so shy about recording your dang self, so just bear with me on that one.

You know how when you prepare stuff like that you learn and think about so many things along the way? I’m so grateful for that opportunity to really think about relationships.  Because there's no end to workin on those things you know?

There are a few things I wish I could go back and splice in to what I am sharing in that summit, so I’m adding them here.  I’d love any input people have.  One thing I wished during that recording was that I had all of you blog readers there having a discussion with me, because I consider many of you good friends…you could have all added so much!  There are so many great ideas out there that you have shared over the years.  I love discussions about this stuff.  So please speak up in the comment section if you have things to add, things you didn’t agree with, things I didn’t touch on that should be brought up.  Because as we all know, relationships matter!  And twenty minutes on a little video obviously can’t cover everything.

We can learn SO MUCH from each other.

Ok, so the things I wish I could add to my segment:

1) When I talk about how we need to respect our kids, I would have loved to add how important it is to apologize once in a while.  We all make mistakes.  When they realize we're human too, and we recognize our own mistakes and can talk about them, they're going to be much more apt to come to us with theirs.

2)  After the part where I give three ways to nurture connection, I talk about disconnecting and I kind of skim over it.  I was running out of time.  And although it seems counterintuitive, I think it’s so important to disconnect with in teenagers to some degree…and also pre-teens as they morph into those confusing teens.  I talk about disconnecting from fighting our kids’ battles (which is so tough to do! We want them to succeed so much that sometimes we don’t let them fail).  They need to fight their own battles to develop their own strength so we’ve got to back off.

I love the story of the ecosystem (Biosphere) that scientists created in the 80s and 90s (I think it was to help research how it would be to create sustainable life in space, but I’m not altogether positive about that).  It was a perfect environment with healthy vegetation and rich soil. But the trees couldn’t seem to mature they way they had hoped.  After some research, they realized the problem was that they didn’t have wind.  Trees need wind to help firm up their roots and to make them stronger.  (I wrote a little about a poem that goes along with that thought back HERE.)

Love that analogy to raising kids…that “wind” or all the trials that come their way is essential to help them to forge their own ways and build their own foundations.  So we have to disconnect from fighting for them.

3)  We also have to disconnect emotionally in some ways.  When one of my teenage girls come in with a drama story about what’s going on with her friends I need to disconnect my knee-jerk reactions to the craziness they're spilling out.  It’s so easy to jump in and take sides or offer advice or gawk at something that we just can't believe.  But we need to back off and let them know we have confidence that they can figure it out.

One of my girls has been coming home so sad because of friends lately.  I internalize that sadness, because I am her mother.  I carry it heavily around with me.  When, in reality, that daughter of mine just needed a little space and time and within an hour is JUST FINE.  But there I am still wringing my hands in worry.  I need to disconnect myself from that.  They can handle this if we’re not so quick to try to carry them.  I love what a speaker mentioned one time:  our kids have lots of “happiness boxes” and THEY need to carry them, not us.  If we are carrying their happiness they won’t learn to carry it themselves.  They'll think others are in charge of their happiness when really, the only person who can really make them happy is THEM.  Yes, we can be a support, but we have to realize we can’t fix everything, nor should we try.

One of my other daughters tends to get so sullen and dark at times.  Oh boy do I ever want to just get in there and fix that girl…”what is wrong??”  “How can I help??”  But guess what I’ve realized?  SHE’S A TEENAGER!  And sometimes teenagers are sullen.  Sure she needs love and maybe I should do the good ol’ “talents on fingertip” thing with her to make her glow a little brighter sometimes, but hopefully she’ll learn that that sullenness doesn’t help anyone and she’ll grow out of it.

4) We have to disconnect from making decisions for them.  Oh boy.  The teenage years are one time when I wish I could just take that free-agency away just for a little.  Boy to I ever wish I could make some of their decisions for them!  But that is the whole point of learning to build their own foundation: it is made on their own decisions.  Yes, some will be awful ones.  And some will be grand.  And we just have to roll with the punches.

And we have to start early.

I keep thinking of a little story from church a couple weeks ago.  It was Fast Sunday (in our religion we fast for two meals the first Sunday of the month…more about that HERE).  Lucy came up to me in the hallway at church and asked if she could please take a drink from the drinking fountain.  She had a cold sore and she was sure that drink would make that cold sore better.

I looked her in the eyes, held her chin in my hands and told her that was up to her.  If she thought it would help, then go for it.  She was old enough to make that decision herself.  And instead of skipping off and deciding to drink, her whole face clouded up.  “I can’t make that decision mom!” she wailed.  Oh boy.  We have some work to do in letting our kids make their own decisions!  I promised that I wouldn’t be mad either way (maybe that’s what she was nervous about, and I need to do better and not connecting my emotion with their decisions...that's a huge deal too) and I prodded her to just make that choice.  So she took a drink.  And guess what?  She did feel better.  And all was well.  And I don't know if that little thing is going to lead to her casting her whole fasting to the wind or make her want to do it more, but at this point it needs to be her decision come what may.  She’s old enough.  And she’s not even a teenager yet!  Ha!

I love what my friend told me one time about raising teenagers: we just sometimes have to be spectators watching the waves.  We don’t have to dive in and correct.  Our job, when kids morph into the teenage years (at least the older ones) is just to love them to pieces and disconnect the emotions that so naturally come with what they do.  Oh, you decided to turn your hair pink?  If you like it, I like it.  You lost your retainers?  Dang, here's the phone number for the orthodontist to figure that out.  Those friends you're hanging out with are making you feel intimidated and self-conscious?  What do you think could fix that?  Turning things over to them and being their best cheerleaders is so important for teenagers.

And also so dang hard for parents.

Grace and Claire, although best of friends, came home in a huge huffy fight the other night.  Teenage girls are crazy.  Maybe I should have included that in my summit talk...

But I just watched those waves.  And guess what?  Within a half an hour they were best friends again.  The storm blew over.  What do you know?!?

Ok, that's all for today...although I could go on and on.  This isn't even touching the thoughts about what to do when teenagers are so far away emotionally that you can hardly reach them despite your very most valiant efforts, or when they're alternately so close that their emotions and worries and anxiety are taking over your life and you know both of you really need help.  I've talked to moms in both those situations lately and I want to send some serious love to moms who are in the trenches with so many tough, dark struggles so unique and varying.

But no matter where you are in your parenting, toddlers or teenagers or adults, hopefully the I Am Mom summit will embolden you to go forward with new ideas and courage to help you know that you're not alone in this challenging, amazing, sometimes painfully harrowing yet beautifully rewarding thing we call motherhood. 

Sending lots of love out today!

Go hug those awesome teenagers!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Valentine's Day 2019 and an invitation to some cool parenting things

Here’s how Valentine’s Day went down over in our neck of the woods.

I stayed up late the night before (because I always procrastinate) to whip our kitchen into shape for the big day:
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My mom started doing these Valentine’s cups when we were all little and that tradition has carried on:
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I wonder how many of my siblings do this for their kids?

We ate the traditional pink pancakes early early in the morning…when apparently those girls in that picture below were still partially asleep...
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Lucy was pretty sure those pink pancakes should really be hearts, so we made them that way:
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Had a quick contest to see who could build the tallest conversation heart tower:
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And then the girls were off to school, leaving me to bask in these beautiful flowers my Valentine got for me:
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I filled his mirror with some simple but heart-felt heart notes:
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I thought it was pretty appropriate that this picture of the temple (where we got married in the beginning of our valentine’s sweetheart life) was sitting there on the counter:
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And that this hangs on the wall right there too.  
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Because, of course, he’s my number one valentine forever and ever.

The student council made hearts and put them up on the walls of the high school for EVERY SINGLE STUDENT IN THE WHOLE SCHOOL:
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Which, as you can imagine, is no small feat when there are nearly 4,000 kids who attend that school.
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Lucy marched off to school with her edible cell project...which I have some thoughts about...a blog post for another day.

Dave and I snuck away for a little Valentine’s lunch while the kids were gone.  

And I don’t even have a picture to commemorate that, darn it.

We went out for lunch because this was happening at our house for dinner:
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Claire invited a bunch of girls over to make heart-shaped pizzas.
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They did a fabulous job.
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And included Lucy which was sweet of them.
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Once they were all situated Dave and I snuck away for a little Valentine’s movie date:
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The girls continued to celebrate...
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…Grace went to dinner with her friends:
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I don’t know who that boy is up there, but I think he made a good choice to hang with all those girls :)
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And that was a Valentine’s wrap.
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Love my Valentine.  Even when he’s grumpy and we’re in a fight or he’s bugging me.  Because believe me, that happens.  And probably I bug him even more.  Oh there is the thick and the thin.  

But at the end of the day he’s the one I want to tell my whole life story.  He makes me feel safe. He loves me despite all my deficiencies and I love a good day to think about how happy that makes me.
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Ok, and as an addendum, just want to throw in two extra things today:

1) A pretty cool opportunity out there for couples wanting an extra cool date night THIS FRIDAY for Utah locals:  My sister still has a couple slots available in her Power of Families date-night couples’ retreat she’s holding that is going to be fabulous.  Here’s an overview of what it is:

Are you ready to shape the future of your family?

Please join Power of Families Founder, Saren Eyre Loosli, and a stellar group of other purposeful parents for an exclusive opportunity to learn, share and come away with tried-and-true methods and clear plans for raising happy, successful children in a family filled with love and purpose. 

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Click HERE to find out more details and register.  Wish I could go!!

2) along that same line, (separate event), I’m getting excited about the I Am Mom summit that starts tomorrow with a mission to "empower, educate and inspire moms all over the world"  that I get to be a part of:
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See me down there below?:
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More information and registration for that is HERE.

I’m going to write out a few extra things I wish I could have included in my session in a blog post here tomorrow so come join me if you can!  I'd love your input too!

So there you go, two fun opportunities to think more deeply about parenting and mothering all in one week.

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