Friday, May 22, 2015

home-ies.

it's hard to believe that finn will be starting kindergarten this fall. i know he's ready. photo may adventures small 14 of 39_zpsaebfl0jb.jpg
having he and evy home together for this school year has been so good for their relationship.
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i know they will be good friends as they grow older.
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i know i'll miss finn the way i miss his brothers each day.
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but i think his sister will miss him even more.
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it'll be quite different but exciting to write the next chapter with just one little nestling home during the day.
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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

evy-girl.

every time evy eats an orange she has me start the peel, but she does the rest. she delicately lines each slice and eats them in order.
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often i will go into the bathroom or my bedroom and she'll come running in with me. she'll slam the door shut behind her and look up at me with her intense eyes. "girl time," she'll say in a tone like we're commencing a classified meeting.
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evy draws pictures from sun-up to sun-down. people are her specialty. she signs her pictures and includes the word "wow" on each one. she tells me, "look, it's your name!"
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she loves girls. her cousin ella, her church friend louisa, her exercise-group friend prairie dawn. she loves them and talks about them all the time. she also loves her aunties and any older girls she meets. evy believes that all girls are princesses.
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evy gets emotional when she's even slightly tired. little things set her off and then only rubbing her legs with lotion and putting her down for a nap will bring her back to her senses. she loves it when i tell her that her legs are talking to me. i hold them up to my ears and say, "what's that? you need some lotion and then a rest?" evy giggles and giggles when her legs start talking.
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evy wants me to hold her. if we go somewhere new. if she doesn't have shoes. if she's feeling sad. if she wants to dance. if she has something to tell me. if i start to leave the room. if i come into the room. if we need to go to the car. if someone new talks to her. "howd me, howd me," in her tiniest voice.

oh, my heart. i love my evy-girl.

Monday, May 18, 2015

nature-babies.

we followed my phone to a new park and played on the swings for a good while. the whole time ossi was asking, "when can we go home?" the other kids were content to play but lazily roamed from the slide to the sandbox, gently amused but not intrigued by the designated play area.

we decided to venture into the bordering woods before heading back to the car.
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geese swarmed to our picnic basket as we stopped by a pond. they fought at our feet over scraps of tortilla and frightened evy into a retreat for the sheltering trees. she watched from a distance, completely intrigued.
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the sight of a "bleeding tree" caused thoughtful questions and further examination.
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the discovery of a crude seesaw brought delight to the faces of my curious children.
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i'm convinced that the human race thrives when surrounded by simple, gently-touched nature.
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when we arrived back at the car they groaned and asked if we could explore some more. how is it that the fanciest designed playgrounds lose their enchantment after a time, yet a patch of earth with wild plants and animals can hold us captive in unending splendor?   photo april adventures small 133 of 134_zps2vjfj14c.jpg
if ever i get trapped in the idea that our recreation must be costly and exciting, i will remember the front-yard tree of my childhood. i'll picture my brother eating the maple leaves and imagine him swinging down from the branches like tarzan. i'll think on the park we visited in my youth that had slow, deep water running under a bridge. and i will picture the forest seesaw and the faces of my nature-babies.
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Sunday, May 17, 2015

the door.

a long time ago, when evy was a new baby and my life was diapers and depression, we had a door to our upstairs. the door had a lock on the outside. it was like that when we moved in to our home.

at bedtime, from the moment we moved in, the boys would not stay upstairs. we'd tell them that the first time out they'd get a warning, the second time out they'd lose their night-lights, and the third time out we'd shut the door. this was a system developed in the most desperate days of sleep deprivation. each night we'd make it to the locked door stage and matthew and i would have to stay awake until the pounding and crying stopped so that we could unlock the door for the night and carry a sleeping boy into his bed from the stairs.

i felt hopeless about bedtime. i felt powerless to change the arrangement. then, one afternoon i walked by the door and i felt something. take the door off. i thought, no, no, no, you don't understand.   i need that door or i'll never get any sleep at all. the kids will never stop coming down. take the door off. i couldn't shake the feeling.
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the boys saw me take the door down and they cheered like it was the berlin wall. they asked, "why did you do that?" and i told them that i felt prompted to do it, but i didn't know exactly why.

that night when we put them to bed we explained that there was no door now, but that we all needed to sleep. i don't remember exactly how the conversation went, but i do remember that not a child came downstairs until morning.

maybe the door was the problem the entire time.

i learned that day that the solutions to the problems we face as parents may be very simple, but outside of our understanding at the time. i learned that being still and paying attention to quiet inspiration brings power, love, and a sound mind into parenting.

the other day matthew put an arrow through the hole for the handle. the boys all gawked in amazement as they walked around the door to see the arrow in the fence. i don't think they remember the old days, but how fitting that this door found it's place in our life as an archery target.

Friday, May 15, 2015

marriage.

we've been talking a lot about marriage lately.

topics like intimacy, pornography, same-gender-attraction, divorce, and dating have been coming up often. all these conversations lead us to talk about the importance of marriage.
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one child might ask, "what would happen to us if you got divorced." and we talk about our marital vows and our commitment to them and each other. we explain how divorce has played out for families that we know and love, assuring them that there are ways for families to navigate divorce. we also try to calm their fears. our marriage is so important to them. ossi saw us kissing the other day and said, "gross, but beautiful."
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i might feel prompted to talk to them about same-gender attraction. i ask them if they've ever heard the word "gay" and one of them tells me the kids call him that at school. "what does it mean?" i ask. "they said it means stupid." so i explain to them that the word gay does not mean stupid, and that i would be so sad if they used those words interchangeably. I try my best to describe same-gender attraction, working hard to convey the love we should have for every person and the sensitivity we must have for these very-real feelings, and I tell them that if they ever experience those feelings they can talk to me and I won't be upset. I explain that the word gay describes a man who acts on their feelings of same-gender attraction and becomes intimate with another man. we talk about Heavenly Father's commandments concerning intimacy outside of marriage. then we talk about marriage in the context of Heavenly Father's plan. i realize that these conversations must happen if we are to teach both commitment to traditional marriage as the foundation of family and love for people who believe differently than we do.  photo april adventures small 118 of 134_zpsoindaj9m.jpg photo april adventures small 119 of 134_zpswez8h7t7.jpg photo april adventures small 112 of 134_zpsbosdsfyz.jpg photo april adventures small 113 of 134_zpsgfoe5gsh.jpg
another time another child asks, "do people get divorced if one person looks at pornography?" i tell them that it depends on the couple, the circumstances, and the path they feel is right. i throw out a few scenarios and ask them what they think. we talk about intimacy and how important it is to be completely faithful in marriage. they ask lots of questions about intimate feelings and we discuss the purpose of those drives and emotions. then one asks, "if dad ever looked at pornography would you get a divorce?" i say "no." i tell them that we are committed to our marriage because we love each other, we love them, and we love Heavenly Father. we believe that there is always a way to fix our mistakes and that forgiveness is a huge part of marriage.
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when my kids were babies i was dreading their pre-teen years for all of the uncomfortable conversations. little did i know that the conversations would start so soon and need to be addressed so often! i am thankful that we have an open family and that our kids feel comfortable asking questions. i am also thankful for the little promptings that urge me onward to break awkward ice. those conversations end up being sacred and loving treasures in our hearts. marriage is so dear to me and i know they are beginning to feel how important it is and will ever be in their lives.
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as we walked the temple grounds they asked me about the day that i was married there. i was able to promise them that if they are married to the right person, at the right time, in the right place, and if they are true to their marriage covenants, they will build wonderful families of their own.
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the response was as i expected. something along the lines of " gross, but beautiful."
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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

patient with precocious

ossi isn't afraid to ask anybody anything.

some kids would ask a stranger if they could try their kayak. ossi asks strangers if they will buy them a kayak. unless they're woodcrafters, in which case he will ask them to custom-make him a model.

the reactions range from amusement to irritation, but sometime ossi gets lucky.
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i was so thankful for these friendly brothers who let each of the kids take a ride around the dock. there are so many kind men in this world. the other day i stopped to let a man with a little girl cross the street (he looked like he could be her grandpa). as she happily rode her bike ahead of him, he painfully limped to catch up, walking a very pink beach cruiser. i was touched by his willingness to go riding with the child under less-than-ideal circumstances.
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i try to remember the men and women who treat children with kindness and love whenever i encounter cranky folk. as i found myself stuck on a slick hill carrying two children i had to let molly off her leash. she ran ahead to bother a couple with a dog and they turned back and yelled at me for the intrusion. i don't know if they were surprised when i came running up the path with four children and cuts and scrapes up my left shin, but their looks were not very kind.
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it's easy to focus on the few people who seem impatient or unforgiving. in truth i think the majority of people are generally patient with precocious children (slash animals) and their often overwhelmed mothers. for every trunchbull there are dozens of honeys.
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the adventure was worth the scraped shin, to be sure.
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watching these three boys overcome their hesitations and swing out over the lake was worth any minor injuries incurred. although evy might disagree considering she spent half of the time drying off from a spill into the shallow lake (i may have fallen in with her) and the other half of the time battling ants (a recently acquired phobia).
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