Rewards

Gorgeous image by Jose Villa

Once upon a time I had four little girls that looked just like this.  We spent days outside at the park, in the fields, at the beach, in the yard.  Life wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t easy, but it was fairly predictable and routine and comforting.  I knew what it meant to be a mom to little girls and I think I was pretty good at it…healthy meals, fresh air, lots and lots and lots of reading, lullabies and cuddles, puzzles and play-doh, crafts and pets, nap time, nature, and lots of love.

This phase of parenting is different.  It is loud and crazy and unpredictable at every moment.  A day does not go by that one daughter or another or all are mad at me. A day does not go by that someone doesn’t cry.  A day does not go by that I don’t tell myself that I’ve done everything wrong.  It is a hard parenting stage and full of regret for so many days that I will never get back and so many things that I wish I had done better.  It is full to the top of “if only.”

But something else I’ve learned about this phase of parenting is that there are lots and lots and lots of rewards and reminders that somewhere along the way, I made some good choices and did a few things right.  When the way gets rough and I get discouraged, I try and remember the rewards.  Sometimes they are big and sometimes they are little and sometimes they come all at once.

This week is full of big rewards that make my heart happy:  Halle is dancing in two dance competitions and ranked first academically in her entire 7th grade class.  Lainey is performing in Phantom of the Opera several times this week, and received the highest score on her standardized literature test for the entire 9th grade.  Riley is taking on the banking industry with her new job and planning to give college another try this fall.  And Courtnee and her husband are graduating from BYU this week!  Amazing rewards all the way around.

For all you parents out there who are struggling through the early years, hang in there.  I promise it will be worth it.  It won’t necessarily get easier, but you’ll start to see the results of your efforts.  And your children will amaze you every single day with the incredible people they are.  And at some point every single day you will realize that you are  a part of these amazing people…and then you will smile…and then you will cry.

 

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Dreaming of a European Vacation

roman holidayJoe and I have a big anniversary coming up this year and we are hoping and planning and working hard towards a vacation in Europe.  Neither of us have ever been and we are dying to make this dream come true!  One of the first steps towards making this dream come true was to put down a deposit on our trip…a big step.  Now, I’m trying to put little reminders around the house to keep us focussed on our goal.  Last month I bought some mugs that feature cities we hope to visit on our trip.  They are in our kitchen windowsill as a constant reminder.  This week I saw these mint oxfords at Target and am hoping to add them to my inspiration collection.  I will probably need sturdier shoes for all the walking we will be doing, but I’m thinking these would be fun to wear on the train or out to breakfast.

What about you?  Planning any big trips this year?

 

Changing Roles

baby white announcementLovely Baby Items at Coral & Tusk

It is official, Mama Lori is becoming Grandma Lori this year and I’m absolutely thrilled!  A new role for me, a new role for my daughter, and a beautiful little soul to welcome into the world.  Baby White, you are going to be so loved.

Mom Moment: Take the Trip!

ski lift

 

A couple of weeks ago, Joe and I took our two youngest daughters on a weekend ski trip.  It was a perfect weekend…cozy condo, a fireplace and hot chocolate, movies and a jacuzzi, games and brunch, perfect weather conditions and snow at the ski resort.  It was expensive, but worth every penny on so many levels.  We were together every minute for three days, we cooked and ate and played and laughed and argued together.  We did something fun and active and new and difficult together.  Joe and I remembered our love for skiing, and Lainey and Halle discovered theirs.  There is nothing like watching your teenagers tackle a difficult mountain on skis and emerge with pink cheeks and a glow of confidence that they have accomplished something big.  Unless it is listening to them giggling in bed at night for hours.

As we took a midday break in the lodge, a woman was there with two very small children…1 and 4.  She and the 4 year-old were dressed in ski clothes and the 1 year-old was running around and enjoying every second of being 1.  Although the woman was patient and happy, she became increasingly frustrated as the lodge became more crowded and here children more energetic.  She came close to us to gather them up, and said, “I can’t wait until they can both spend the day skiing instead of running through the lodge.”  A simple encounter, but one that I’ve thought about a lot since them.

I wish I could rewind that moment and tell her what a fantastic job she was doing.  She wanted her children to ski, and she was there and one was learning to ski and one would.  And she would enjoy about 5 minutes of that time when they were both skiing and she could hug them and kiss their pink cheeks.  Then, they would be off with their friends and they wouldn’t want her there and she would miss them in ways that she could never imagine.  And she would probably spend the rest of her days as a mother feeling like something was missing…she would be happy and productive and fulfilled in other ways, but a piece of her would be out in the world somewhere without her and she would no longer be whole.

As fun as our weekend was, it wasn’t complete without our two oldest daughters.  And hovering around the edges was some regret.  You see, Joe and I had decided years ago that our children were going to be skiers and we had our oldest daughter, Courtnee, on skis at age 6.  We talked and fantasized about winter ski trips as a family, and occasionally we looked at costs and dates.  But we never took that trip…we were too busy, or too broke, or too tired.  And now Courtnee is married and busy with her own life, and Riley is 18 and busy with her own life.  And somehow we have gone from a family of 6 to a family of 4 most of the time.  And every single day I ask myself how it happened.

I have heard it a million times, and you have too, but enjoy every minute you can with your children.  It goes by so quickly, so unimaginably fast!  And then they are gone and as a mother, you are empty…empty rooms, empty arms, empty schedule.  But if you have worked hard to enjoy as much as possible, your mind and your heart will be full…full of love, and moments, and joy.  And somehow, that full mind and that full heart will ease the pain of the emptiness and you will carry on, never entirely whole again, but grateful for every single minute you were and are a mother.

A Reward

Image

For all of you moms (and dads) out there that are wondering if your hard work as a parent will pay off, I promise you the rewards are coming.  Just thought I would share Courtnee’s blog post from yesterday.  I was going to write a long list of disclaimers first, but I decided I’m going to take these words, wrap them around me, and wear them with pride.  I really needed this gold star!

My Mom taught me a LOT of things in my life. She taught me how to dress myself. She taught me how to put on make-up. She taught me how to write. She taught me how to treat my husband. She taught me how to decorate. She taught me how to cook. She taught me how to do laundry. She taught me how to treat other people. She taught me how to be a good mom (someday). She taught me a love of reading. She taught me (hopelessly) how to use a sewing machine. She taught me how to be a lady.  But two of the most important things that I learned from my mother were how to take care of my body by eating healthy and exercising and how to love myself and my body.

“A mother’s weight, body image, attitude, and health habits are strong
indicators of whether her daughter is overweight, satisfied with her
body, and physically active. Girls look to their mothers for advice on
healthy living.”
–“The New Normal: What Girls Say About Healthy Living”

Leading My Daughter to Safety

Image from A Cup of Jo

I miss being here…this is my happy place and life doesn’t feel complete without spending some time here every day.  We are in family crisis mode over here.  One of my sweet girls is really struggling and as all moms know, that means I’m struggling right along with her.  She needs me right now in a way that I haven’t been needed for a long time.  It feels good to know that as a mother I do make a difference…I just wish I was feeling this under other circumstances.

I’m not sure what the future holds for her or what my role will be.  We are taking this a day at a time and counting each good moment as a victory.  One thing I am sure about, though, is that I will fight for her fiercely and see her through this time in her life.  Because that’s what a mother does.  They love and protect and guide with their entire being.

On a lighter, but related note, this is just what parenting feels like right now…Mother Duck Leads Her Family to Safety.

 

 

Getting Ready for High School–Warrens

Watership DownImage

In preparation for her high school honor’s English class, Lainey was asked to read Watership Down over the summer.  It is almost 500 pages long and not an easy read, but I think it is a perfect choice for new high school students… Continue reading

Mom Moment–Lainey is 14!

Lainey turned 14 last month and I’m still shocked every time I remember.  Not only did she turn 14, she also made the high school volleyball team, and then marched into the high school last week as a freshman…all 5 feet and 85 pounds of her!  This girl might be tiny in body, but man does she have a big personality.

Here are 14 things I love about Lainey:

1.  She decides what she wants and then works really hard to make it happen.

2.  Her sense of style is fun and sometimes quirky.

3.  She takes really good care of her body…eats healthy, goes to bed early, exercises.

4.  Her big, brown eyes.

5.  Her cute spaciness that always reminds me of her dad.

6.  Her stubbornness that always reminds me of me.

7.  She is a saver, not a spender.

8.  Beautiful hair.

9.  She has really big dreams and plans…college at Emory or NYU, LDS mission, famous writer.

10. Amazingly intelligent.

11.  Her kind and gentle spirit.

12. She prays for the honeybees.

13. She is an animal whisperer…completely confident, gentle, and instinctive with all animals.

14. She is one tough cookie!

Love this girl and love watching her grow up.  So grateful that she is mine!

First Day

Only two girls to send off this year…two more with a first day next week.  Halle headed off to her first day of Middle School and Lainey to her first day of High School and her first volleyball game.  Both were nervous and excited for a new year and a new school.  So was I.  And apparently we were not very good at getting ready this year.  Let me explain…

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Getting Ready for Middle School–Southwest Accessories

Mossimo Moccasins and Backpack

Getting ready to go back to school means lots of shopping for us.  This year I’m taking my girls one at a time…I’m not with them as much now that they are older so I really enjoy the one-on-one time with them.  I started with my youngest this year and was so happy with her choices.  I give my girls a budget that we try hard to stick to (sometimes I let them go over a bit because we are also buying practical things like underwear and socks) and then I let them make their own choices.

This year, Halle was really excited about the southwest trend in accessories.  She spent a chunk of her money on moccasin booties and a southwest-inspired backpack.  She even chose to give up a second pair of colored jeans and a hoodie.  I think she chose just the right amount of trendiness to go with standard skinny jeans and loose shirts which made up the rest of her choices.

What do you think of this new southwest trend.  I’ll admit I’m not a huge fan, but I think Halle will really rock those moccasins!