Living

Anatomical Adventures

May 18, 2012
posted by Tia in Living

Just in case any of you have wondered whether I had fallen off the planet, let me assure you that I did not.

I only fell through a lawn chair.

A broken hand makes for a wonderful reason to learn some anatomy. Makes it really hard to type, though. I think I wrote a post about my hand about twenty times in my head, but transferring it to the blog was another matter entirely. Two months after the accident, I have only some advice and a bit of good news.

Advice: Don’t stand on an old, sun-rotted plastic lawn chair in order to reach something on a shelf in the shed. Especially with a cement floor you could fall to if said chair gave way.

Good news: My hand is almost fully functional again. It still is stiff and sore, and it probably won’t ever again be as good as new. But hey – I can type, play the piano, and change diapers once again. What more could a mom want?

Blogging isn’t the only thing in my life that has been neglected recently. I have a lot of catching up and pulling together to do. But I have not forgotten you, dear little blog. There is hope for you yet!

What has your Spring been like?

January

January 9, 2012
posted by Tia in Living

I was trying to decide what to title this post, but all that would come out was “January.” I feel like January right now. All of it. Excitement for the new year, and nostalgia over time passing too quickly. The welcome calm after the storm of the holidays, and the mild letdown and winter blues that come along with it. Cold. Finally getting over a long winter illness. Still working on getting over holiday messes. Prevailing is the let’s-snuggle-together-under-a-blanket-and-read-a-book-together feeling.

I’ll put up the other posts I promised soon, I need to get my pictures together so that I can share our Christmas with you. For now I was just going to share tidbits from our home.

Sunshine is still feeling a little under the weather, so I’ve been snuggling her a lot. No complaints there, the house can wait. She’s crawling all over the house now and I’ll take all of the loving cuddles I can get.

Orator, what can I say, was talking up a storm today. Things like, “Go ahead and throw that back in the fridge now, Mom,” and “I don’t want nothing,” and “Don’t read it in Spanish, Mom, read it in English.” (I was reading it in English.)

Vi kept disappearing into her room today to play with her “children.” (She’d loudly protest if she knew I put that in quotation marks.) She has a dozen or so dolls and stuffed animals that she says are my grandchildren and that she can play with and draw and talk to all day. They’re quite an assortment, but she makes me think of Beth in Little Women and I think that it’s sweet.

Captain is pretty determined about his reading lately and has really been going at it. He’s also quite fascinated with the revolutionary war time period and we spend a lot of time reading out of books about it. And then he’ll get out legos or blocks or action figures and role-play battles with General Washington and the Hessians.

As for me, I continue to have life’s assortment of struggles and victories. I have a box or two of apples going bad in my kitchen because I haven’t found someone with time to help me make applesauce and I haven’t seemed to be able to pull it off myself. I read a stack of new-to-us books to my kids this afternoon and we all reveled in it. The meals I made today weren’t very popular, but our family night together was rich and simple and sweet.

My lessons that I am working on right now? Learning the meaning of unconditional love. Learning to abandon doubt and fear for faith and hope. Learning again that the most precious gift that I have is every moment that I have to spend with my husband and children.

I love my family. I feel so very blessed. I hope you have a wonderful new year.

How is January at your home?

One Comment

Coming Out of the Christmas Haze

January 4, 2012
posted by Tia in Living

This is a Christmas picture of Captain and Sunshine. Sunshine looks a bit like she just woke up and isn’t sure what’s going on. That’s about how I feel right now. 🙂

Christmas at our home was wonderful. As you can see, I took a break spanning all of the winter holidays! Between staying up nights making Christmas presents, regular holiday traditions, and the entire family taking turns being sick for the last month and a half (well…we’re almost done with that), I’ve had lots going on. But lots to share, too!

I’m looking forward to sharing our homemade Christmas with you (the successes and the failures), how the kids are doing with their reading, our math ventures, and some other thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head like so many rubber bands (more on that later).

In the meantime, Happy New Year to you all. I wanted to share a link to Doctrine and Covenants 6 with you, since it is one of my favorite passages in all of scripture. It speaks directly to my soul and I find direction and guidance there any time that I seek it. I always feel that the Lord is speaking directly to me. If you don’t already love this section, get to know it and you will. If you already do, I invite you to read it again.

How was your Christmas season?

In it for the Long Haul

November 1, 2011
posted by Tia in Living

What a crazy month it has been – and already it is over. I feel as though I have been so busy and I hardly know why.

Lately, when people ask me how it is going with four kids, I give them somewhat of a bewildered look and answer,

“Pretty well. I love it. I’m just not sure when I’m supposed to clean my house.”

I can almost do it all: caring for the babies, spending time with the kids, homeschooling (those are my favorite parts of the day), and even meals. It is the cleaning that has me baffled. We’re at a bare maintenance right now and that’s about it. There’s so much dejunking, reorganizing, wall-washing, systematizing, and just plain cleaning that I want to do, and there’s just no time to do it in.

Sigh. Deep breath. Oh, well.

I’ve heard it so many times before, but it’s true: walls will wait to be washed. The piano won’t give up on being dusted any time soon, but my children won’t let me push pause on their growth to enjoy them later. They are of primary importance, and it’s when I really remember and act on that, that I am happiest.

Something that my mom taught me a few years ago has been running through my head lately. Now, Mom had lots of kids – in the double digits. And she’s homeschooled all of us. She knows busy, overwhelmed, and tired, almost as intimately as she is acquainted with joy, love, and fulfillment. She’s amazing. (I’m rising up to call you blessed right here, Mom, just so you know. Thank God for you!) When I spoke to her a while back about the overwhelming responsibility of being a mother, she counseled me to remember what was important and spent most of my time on that, and not worry so much about the things that don’t really matter.

We talked specifically about homeschooling, and she told me that she had learned to be very careful not to go overboard with her methods and efforts in that area. This is when she said the phrase that has stuck with me:

“I’m in this for the long haul. I can’t afford mother-burn-out.”

I’ve thought about that a lot. What am I doing that could cause me to burn out? What will matter in the end? I’m sure we all ponder these questions at times, especially when our time and energy are limited and we have to spend them carefully.

Well, my family matters. My relationship with God matters. The other people around me in my life matter.

I’ve been trying to spend time on those areas, and ignore the walls. (And the bookshelves. And the closets, and sometimes occasionally the dishes or the laundry.) These things will have their time, but right now is not a season in my life that I should be worrying so much about them. Because I can’t afford burn-out. My family is too precious.

What things do you do to avoid burn-out? Is there anything that helps you remember what is most important when you’re feeling overwhelmed? It’s not just me that feels this way sometimes, right? 🙂

Eat What You Can

September 11, 2011
posted by Tia in Living

Here I am to share a neat lesson passed down from my Great-Grandmother, as well as give you a peek at what has kept me too busy to do much of anything on the computer all week.

My Grandpa recently shared with me something that his mother used to say. This grandma, incidentally, was a remarkable woman that I may have to write more of in the future. We even named Sunshine for her. Here is some wisdom from her:

“Eat what you can. What you can’t, can.”

I love this. Love it. It will become a tradition around our house as well, I believe.

I didn’t do all that much canning this week. The kids and I did lots of things together during the day, and then I let the canning cut into my free evenings (and hence into my computer time). One evening, though, I did some peach jam early enough that Captain volunteered to come and help me (for a little while).

Yep, we ate what we could out of two large boxes of peaches, and then I made a couple batches of jam with some of it and froze what was left. You’ve got to love the irony in a canning day with kids though, right? It tends to go something like this around here:

“Mommy, I’m hungry.”

“Well, sweetie, I can’t really fix you anything right now, because I’m busy canning healthy, organic, sugar-free, juice-sweetened homemade peach jam so that I can feed our family well in the off-season. Hmm, how would you like to snack on this cracker which is loaded with refined sugars, flours, and addicting flavor enhancements?”

“Sure, Mom! You’re the best!”

Okay, maybe it’s not always that bad. 🙂 Depends on what I’m canning. Sometimes I can just offer them one of the fresh peaches I’m cutting up, if they’re not already too sick of eating what they can of it.

Here we are making jam. Captain has gotten pretty good at using a butter-knife while he waits impatiently until he’s old enough to use a “real” one.  And yes, that is my two-year-old doing dishes in the background!

Wonderful work for a kid to help with! I’m planning to post soon on our “teaching kids to work” endeavors, as well as adventures with letting kids help out in the kitchen….

Thankfully my husband stepped in after a while and suggested I use one of our food processor gadgets to chop the peaches. What a good idea. That sped things up a lot.

I’m almost caught up on the canning for now, I just need to do one more batch of tomatoes. Until I get more food we can’t eat all of, anyway. 🙂

So just remember: Eat what you can. What you can’t, can.  ….And then, you can eat what you can!!


Do you can? What kind of things? I’m still learning!

2 Comments

Creative Parenting

August 18, 2011
posted by Tia in Living

Remember how I mentioned that I’m not creative? I’m ready to modify that a little bit.

It goes like this: I do have limited creativity, but when my life is in a complicated state, I use all of my creativity maneuvering through it.

For example, a new baby. I love babies. Babies are darling, I could just eat them up. They are worth every bit of work they take, and then double that. But, you have you admit that they can often be complicated. Especially if there is also a toddler thrown into the mix.

Many days, I find that it take every drop of creativity in me just to figure out how to get both the crying baby and the screaming toddler to sleep at the same time. (Because you must realize that if they do not fall asleep almost simultaneously, the still-crying one will wake the other one up. This job is no small feat.) I’m happy to report that I have managed this.

More than once.

I tried to find pictures of other daily, creative accomplishments that I manage. Like, encouraging the older kids to do their chores as fast as childly possible without hollering at them. Or, making dinner from scratch with the last three things left in my fridge before a farm day or a shopping trip. Or how about loading up and buckling four children into the car (over and over again) because I have to take all of them with me to run errands.

But, it seems that the only creative moments in which my hands are free enough to take pictures of my accomplishments are when I’ve just managed to get the babies to sleep. So, here’s one more picture of it, just for good measure. Just to prove that I have moments of creative genius daily.

I love this talk by Elder Uchtdorf. He talks about creativity and how it’s not all about music, art, and crafting. All of us have the power and opportunity to be creative, in one way or another. He speaks of creating smiles, of writing thank-you notes, of nurturing children. That’s not a cop-out, people. I’ve found that it takes a lot of creativity to get out of the ruts we sink into in every day life. It takes creativity to stay calm in moments of chaos or crisis. To guide or teach children in ways that we were not taught or guided ourselves. It takes creativity to make yourself be more than you feel like you can be when you drag yourself out of bed at 6 am in the morning.

Here’s to creativity. In all of its many forms.

How were you creative today? Come on, you can think of something—be creative. 🙂

One Comment

To be, or not to be . . . comfortable. That is the question.

August 16, 2011
posted by Tia in Living

A couple of years ago, a general authority from my church came to our stake conference and spoke to us. Something that was said has stuck with me—the concept it taught, if not the exact wording. The idea was this:

Most of us tend to try too hard to become comfortable here on earth. We are not here to be comfortable. This is not our home.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about that.

It was pointed out that most of us measure “good” as in “I had a good day” by how comfortable we have been: I have felt well. It was not too hot, or too cold. I didn’t have to do anything too difficult, nor too challenging. My children were easy to get along with today. My throat wasn’t hurting like it has been for the past week. Etc., Etc.

This is such a natural way of judging our experiences that it’s hard to step away from it and look at the bigger picture.  The eternal picture.

We are here to do our best, to prove what we are really made of. We are here to serve, to learn how to put others’ needs before our own, to live as Christ lived. Our primary goal in life, or even for a good day, should not be to be comfortable. There are much higher goals to be aiming for. Our Lord, of course, puts this best:

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matthew 6:19-20).

Can I just point out one thing that I find really interesting about that scripture? The word “treasure.”  I tend to think of treasure as a really worldly thing. Kind of like comfort. But Christ refers in this scripture not only to worldly treasure, but to treasure in heaven that we should be focusing on. Interesting.

C. S. Lewis’ classic essay The Weight of Glory (found in his book by the same name) comes to mind. I love this essay. If you haven’t read it, you should; it will give you a remarkable paradigm shift. If you are already a fan of C. S. Lewis, you will understand me when I say that I cannot possibly do justice to his point by writing a few lines of his essay here. If you are not yet a fan of C. S. Lewis, read this essay through two or three times, that you may become one. 🙂

In this essay, Lewis speaks of how Christians are taught to desire the rewards of heaven. But what are they? We hardly know. So how then are we to desire them? Lewis suggests that this desire is already manifested in us, we just don’t realize that it is heaven that we are yearning for. Perhaps we remember a time where we think we had momentarily obtained ultimate comfort, beauty, happiness or inspiration. But even in trying to recreate these experiences, we never…quite…are satisfied. Lewis tells us why:

The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited” (C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, Harper Collins 2001 ed., pp. 30-31).

He goes on a little later to say: “A man’s physical hunger does not prove that man will get any bread; he may die of starvation on a raft in the Atlantic. But surely a man’s hunger does prove that he comes of a race which repairs its body by eating and inhabits a world where eatable substances exist” (Ibid, p. 32).

So first, here is the bad news: the ultimate comfort, the ultimate beauty, the ultimate fulfillment that we all seek for, simply does not exist here. We may get glimpses, but they will be gone in a flash and we will always be left wanting more.

But the good news is that what we want does exist. What’s more, we are supposed to be yearning for it, and seeking for it. The reason that we are not supposed to focus too hard on being comfortable or perfectly happy or satisfied here is that we cannot be. And the only way that we can be, someday, is if we give up these moth-eaten earthly treasures to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven—the real, lasting, incorruptible treasures. The ones that we were created for, the ones that we already feel the ache for.

For people of faith, this is the great motivating force for all the good that we do. Take up your cross and follow me becomes an attainable goal when we remember that we are following our Master to the only place where all crosses will finally be laid to rest, and where we will be eternally happy in ways that we have only yet glimpsed or dreamed about.

So don’t lay too many treasures up here. There is much more to life than being comfortable. But remember, we are on our way.

What scriptures or other inspiration helps you to stay focused on an eternal perspective?

2 Comments

Back on the ole’ School Schedule

August 4, 2011
posted by Tia in Home Schooling, Living

Look! It’s all four of my cute kids up early in the morning.

I’ll just tell you right now. I am not, by default, a morning person.

When evening has come and all of the kids are (sometimes finally) all tucked away in bed, the nighttime hours seem to stretch before me filled with endless possibility. I could stay up for hours, virtually undisturbed, doing whatever I want. Even my husband is a morning person, and is guaranteed to wander off to bed long before I’m out of steam.

I figure that my default sleep pattern is simply obedient to the first law of physics: Things like to keep on doing what they are already doing. If I’m working on a project at night, I like to keep projecting. If I’m sleeping in the morning, I’d like to just keep on sleeping, thank you. 🙂

That being said, I like myself much better when I get up early in the morning.

There is a scripture that I believe very much in that says, “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19 in The Book of Mormon).

Another scripture in point: “Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary, arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:124).

That natural man in me really puts up a good fight, but early mornings do invigorate me, there’s no doubt. If I don’t arise early there’s a very small chance that I will get any personal, alone time for reading scriptures during the day. Or praying. Or exercising. Or showering. (Or going to the bathroom, for that matter.) Only when I am up early with my family (and ideally up a little earlier than my family), do I feel like I begin the day in a way that sets us up to be orderly, productive, and peaceful.

Since Sunshine was born, I’ve slacked off a lot. I’ve stayed up late, I’ve slept in most mornings, I’ve napped with the baby in the afternoon. At least it was summer. But this week, we’re back on track. I’m heading to bed earlier, I’m up early in the morning with the family before my husband leaves for work. We haven’t officially “started school” yet, but we’ve got our schedule ready for it. I’m putting off that natural man again. Hard work, that!

I am a morning person. But not by default. By choice.

Are you a morning person? If so, is it by default? Or is it by choice, effort, and battle with the first law of physics?

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