Monday, November 14, 2011

Process vs. Product

Growing up, Saturday was our chore day. Even if we spent the night at a friend's house, we always had to be home by 7 am so that we could do our Saturday chores as a family. We worked until at least noon and then we were free to play with friends, or whatever else we wanted to do. Although at the time I HATED this Saturday tradition, as I look back on it now I think it was one of the best traditions we had. Me, my sisters, and my parents would clean out and organize the garage, pull weeds in the garden, scrub the bathrooms, mow the lawn, paint the house, etc. We worked hard and accomplished a least that's how I remember it.

Now fast forward to my life as a mother with children who are old enough to work. Seriously, Mom and Dad, how did you do it??!! Teaching children to work is not only hard work it also requires A LOT of patience, long-suffering, repitition, consistancy, and endurance. Disciplining is hard, but I think that teaching your children how to work is even harder. But, it is worth all the effort it takes (I need to remind myself of that every single day!!).

This last Saturday evening, after our chores were done, we decided to build a camp fire in our homemade backyard fire pit and roast marshmallows. Cory told the girls that they needed to go and help him break branches from the big pile of tree limbs that he had trimmed off our trees over the summer. I was in my bedroom feeding Makayla and as I looked out the window to watch my girls "working" with their Daddy, I started laughing. There was Cory breaking and cutting up wood while the girls were making leaf piles and running and jumping into them. Although part of me wanted to open the window and tell the girls to get back to work, I didn't. Instead, I just enjoyed the moment. I watched with fondness as they played with one another, laughed together, and even taught Hailey how to make an angel in the leaves. They were ten of the best minutes of my day.

Although they had only broken up a handful of branches, they had so much fun "working". As we sat around the campfire later that night, they proudly talked about all of the branches that they had helped break apart. The words of the kindergarten teacher that mentored me as I did my student teaching came to my mind. One day as we were looking at the finished products of one of the art projects I had come up with, I commented about how horrible they looked and that I guess that project was a failure. She then said, "Melissa, it is the process that matters most, not the product." Those words have become a life lesson for me over and over again through the last seven years.

So much of what we teach and do as parents end with a product that may at times seem like a failure. The "scrubbed" bathtub that is not even close to clean, the silverware put away in the wrong slots, the bedroom that is clean until you look under the bed, and the "clean" windows that now have more streaks than when they were dirty. But then there are moments, within the painful process of teaching, that the real lessons are learned and when the true measures of success are realized. Moments of clarity when all of the sudden the task to be accomplished is overshadowed and insignificant as you see what is truly happening in the process.

I'm sure that as I worked all of those many Saturdays growing up, that the jobs that I did were not even close to what my parents hoped for or expected. But nonetheless, within the recesses of my memory I can still see me "working" alongside my family to fix every problem that needed fixing and every job that needed doing. And in the process, we learned the most important lesson. The lesson that cannot be taught with words or lectures...because it is the lesson of love. The love that binds a family together. Growing up, we had that kind of love within our family, and we still have it today. This is the lesson that I want my children to learn. The people that we become, the product of our existance here on earth, will never be complete in mortality. But, the processes we go through, the lessons we learn along the way, are the ones that will determine the success or failure of the finished product.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

7 Things That Every Mother Needs...

1. two mothers (my own and my mother-in-law) who continually teach, love, and support me from hundreds of miles.

2. a husband who will sit with all four of your children for two hours of stake conference so that you can sit on the stand and be part of the choir. This is one of MANY things that he is constantly doing for me and our children. Although he's not perfect, he's perfectly what I need.

3. A friend to run with at 5:30 in the morning. Seriously, it is so therapeutic (mentally, emotionally, and physically). I look forward to my morning runs because I love to be with Jenae and because I am always so much more productive on days that I run.

4. Sisters who somehow always know when I need them (even though the closest one to me is 12 hours away). The other day I had one of those pity party days. The kind where I spent the day griping at my children and husband because I am sick of cleaning up everyone else's messes. I was also just feeling so inadequate and inferior in so many ways. Like I said, a major pity party. Little did I know that my sister had been working on this project for school all about me. She sent it to my email last night. As I watched it I just cried and cried. How did she know that I needed something like that? Because she is my sister and somehow she just always knows.

5. chocolate....except when you can't eat it! AHHHHHH!!! Can you tell that I'm still in withdrawls?! I'm actually doing okay without it (most days). It's a good thing I can still drink diet coke. :) I am learning so many things through this diet, but the greatest thing I'm learning is self control and self discipline. Two things that I really need to improve on.

6. A baby to kiss. I keep telling everyone that I am done having children, but then there is this other part of my heart that just can't imagine not ever having another sweet precious baby again. It is almost too hard to even think about. But, I'm pretty maxed out at this point so I guess I'll just keep enjoying this beautiful baby girl that is the toughest baby I've ever had. You'd think she was my first baby because she is SO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than any of my other children.

7. Christmas music. Yep, I've already started listening to it and oh man it seriously makes all my mundane chores so much more exciting! I'm LOVING the beautiful music filling my home (I'm listening to the David Archuleta Holiday radio on Pandora) and the BEAUTIFUL fall colors out my window. I LOVE this time of year!!!

Monday, November 07, 2011


Cory and I trade off singing to our girls at bedtime. Each time one of us sings them to sleep, one song is never enough. It never fails, they will always ask for "one more song please". On Saturday night, after getting the girls to bed late, I was really trying to get away with just one song, but of course the all familiar pleading began for "just one more". So I did. I sang my all-time favorite songs. By the time I got to the second verse of How Great Thou Art, both girls were asleep. At this point, I usually just stop singing and quietly leave the room. But this time I didn't. I continued singing just a little bit more. As I sang, I stroked Katelund's hair and wondered where the time has gone. It seems like just yesterday she was a two year old running in circles around our living room floor. Then my thoughts went to the future as I realized that before too long she would no longer be wanting me to sing her to sleep or tuck her in at night. My singing then turned to pleading as I prayed for just a little more time. More time for her to just be a little girl. More time for me to teach her all the things that I need to teach her. More time to be silly with her, listen to her, comfort her, protect her, and learn from her.

More time for me to become the kind of mother that she needs me to be.

Yesterday in stake conference, I was part of the stake choir. One of the songs that we sang was More Holiness Give Me. As I sang the words to the song, I realized that the song I was singing was exactly what I was feeling inside throughout the entire conference weekend. Yes, there were some AMAZING talks (especially from our visiting General Authority), but it was even more than that. My heart was pricked over and over again as I not only heard the beautiful words of the speakers but also the powerful and humbling words of the Holy Ghost as he spoke to my mind and heart the exact words that I needed to hear. As I continued singing with the choir, I began to sing with more intensity and more feeling. The words that I sang became the prayer of my heart. Today, the words to that song are still singing within my soul as I plead for more holiness, more faith, more love, more freedom from earth stains, more strivings within, and...

...more time to become the kind of Christian that He needs me to be.

As we enter into the holiday season, I am filled with great hope. Not for more yummy holiday food (with my no dairy diet, I will miss out on all my favorites this year), not for more presents at Christmas (4 kids=no presents for me), and not for more family in our home (sob, sob no one is coming here and since this is super busy time for Cory, we aren't going anywhere either). I am filled with hope for more love in our home, more gratitude in my heart, and...

... more of my time filled with moments that will truly matter.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Love it!

A conversation after school today...

Cloey: "There is a new boy at school and today on the bus he told me that he wants to marry me."

Katelund: "Man, what is up with boys these days?!"

What I've Been Up To

Last week I got to spend time with one of my favorite people in the whole world, Stefani (Cory's baby sister) AND her beautiful baby, Lily. Lily and Makayla are only 3 weeks apart, so it was really fun doing the whole baby thing together. I can still see Stefani as that little 6 year old girl that was my best friend's little sister. I loved the time we spent in Fayetteville because I got to know her as a teenager. I seriously fell in love with her! She has a heart of gold!! I loved that girl so much and I haven't really gotten to spend a lot of time with her since then, which has been like six years. Having her in our home for a week was so WONDERFUL!!! Cory and I just kept saying over and over how much we love her and how much we are HOPING that her husband goes to med school out here in Tennessee (that's why they were out here) so that we will only be a couple hours away. It was amazing, while she was here my flaundry would somehow just fold on its own. I'd leave the room with a basket full of laundry on my bed and when I'd come back to it, it was already folded. That's just who Stefani is. One day she told me to just leave and go to the store on my own. Although I didn't leave Makayla, I really could have and not even worried. Stefani has such an amazing gift. She has always been SO GOOD with children. When we lived in Fayetteville, she would go and sit with women who were sitting alone with their children because their husbands were deployed. She saw a need and she would immediately act upon it. Someday when I grow up, I want to be like Stefani!!
We also had lots of laughs. One of the things that was consistent with almost every conversation we had was the sentence, "I saw it on Pinterest". So, after one of my friend's husband stitched up Stefani's finger (she sliced it open slicing apples) we made some bread to say thank you. But not only did we make bread, we also made up a cute saying, put some ribbon on it and created a "photo shoot" so we could put it on pinterest. Afterwards, we realized how lame that really was but we had a lot of fun doing it. She has been gone for a week now, and I am still having withdrawls. We had such a great time.

*Last Thursday was our ward's visiting teaching conference. I am the VT coordinator right now so this was my baby. I loved doing it and had a lot of fun with it. My theme was all centered around a s'more. I made up a whole analogy with a s'more and visiting teaching. We had the activity outside in our Bishop's backyard. We sat around a camp fire in snuggled up in our sweatshirts and blankets and listened to great talks by our RS president and Bishop. I wish I had taken some pictures. Two of my good friends helped me decorate with Christmas lights and outdoor lanterns. I do have one picture I'll post below of the handout I passed out the Sunday before.

*A couple of months ago, a girl moved into our ward. She had me at hello. Just kidding. But really, have you ever seen someone for the first time and just knew that you would be friends? That's how I felt about her. She has become such a great friend and I LOVE being with her. We have been meeting every morning REALLY early (this morning we met at 5:30) to run together. I never thought I would enjoy running so much, but it is so fun to run and talk with her. We have decided to do a half marathon in Feb. and then a full marathon in April. Crazy, right? I just have to do a full one. It's for my Grandpa Black. He ran MANY marathons in his life and after he passed away, I decided that since he can't run anymore (although maybe he does in the Spirit World) that I'll run for him. I am by no means a runner. Just a girl who loves her grandpa and loves a challenge, especially when I'm doing it with friends. We are trying to get a big group together to do it. Wanna do it with us? Fly out to Nashville in April. There's actually a country music concert every mile and then a big one at the end. It's going to be so much fun. Hopefully I don't kill myself getting there. We are up to 6 and a quarter or so miles each morning. Now I just have to be able to do four times that. Whew. I can do hard things. I can do hard things. :)

*Halloween was great! We had so much fun celebrating it with a bunch of family friends last night. I think Cory went a little over board on the girl's makeup but they liked it and so I guess that's all that matters. They were WAY TOO scary for me!! I'm all about the princess costume but they really wanted to be a spider witch and a vampire (this year we just re-used past costumes). But, my mind is already reeling for next year and I think I'm actually going to go all out next year with hand sewn family themed costumes like my sister-in-law, Amber, always does. You should see the one they did this year! She's amazing. Why do I have to have such incredible sisters and sisters-in-law. They just make me look so bad!!! Oh well, I love them anyways.:)

So apparently, I still need to upload my pics. They'll be coming soon, I've got to get off this computer and get some stuff done.

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