Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Are They All YOURS?



The stares.

The avoiding maneuvers.

The questions.

The compliments that you realize later were really jabs....

And all of this from a 15 minute run with my kids to the store for milk and cereal!


When I decided to relocate our family from Centerville, UT, to Portland, OR we were – and still are – totally happy with our choice.  We love the scenery, we love the people, we love the job he now has, we love the land we own. All around? Totally a great change for our family.



You know what also came with the move?

The fact that, outside of Utah and maybe a few other states, having four kids is equal to total insanity in the eyes of others.

Like, What is Wrong With You,

Do You Not Know What Birth Control Is, 

"How Are You Even Surviving This?" 

insanity.

I find it incredibly amusing, given the past experience that having four kids was actually just a normal size family – even small in the eyes of some in the Beehive State.



I have also found it interesting that while the fruits of my womb bring undue attention living here, I remember how many in Utah would feel judged for their lack of fruits.

 How long have they been married? is whispered between friends.

Are they not able to have children?

What are they waiting for?

Indiscreet conversation tactics would follow to try and tease the answer out of the all-too-suspecting couple.

I guess it is natural to be curious in our church when, after having been taught about the importance of having children, some seem not to heed that teaching.  In the end, though, I think we really all know this truth:

It Ain't None of Yo' Bizness.



President Gordon B. Hinckley gave this inspired counsel to an audience of young Latter-day Saints:

“I like to think of the positive side of the equation, of the meaning and sanctity of life, of the purpose of this estate in our eternal journey, of the need for the experiences of mortal life under the great plan of God our Father, of the joy that is to be found only where there are children in the home, of the blessings that come of good posterity. When I think of these values and see them taught and observed, then I am willing to leave the question of numbers to the man and the woman and the Lord” (“If I Were You, What Would I Do?”Brigham Young University 1983–84 Fireside and Devotional Speeches, Provo, Utah: University Publications, 1984, p. 11).



Dallin H. Oaks said:

“Some who are listening to this message are probably saying, “But what about me?” We know that many worthy and wonderful Latter-day Saints currently lack the ideal opportunities and essential requirements for their progress. Singleness, childlessness, death, and divorce frustrate ideals and postpone the fulfillment of promised blessings. In addition, some women who desire to be full-time mothers and homemakers have been literally compelled to enter the full-time work force. But these frustrations are only temporary. The Lord has promised that in the eternities no blessing will be denied his sons and daughters who keep the commandments, are true to their covenants, and desire what is right” (“The Great Plan of Happiness”, October 1993 General Conference).



There is no doubt that the world increasingly looks down upon those who choose to have large families.

I remember hearing a friend say a few years ago, “Well – three IS the new five,” in regards to having children.  This may be the case, whether due to economic considerations or a myriad of other reasons, but we do know we are encouraged to bring as many children into this world as we are able to effectively care for physically, financially, mentally and emotionally.

Does this mean that if I have four children and Susie next door has seven that she is more mentally healthy as a mother? Absolutely not.  This decision is truly a partnership with our Father in Heaven. He knows the path of our life and what is best for us. Our well-meaning neighbors or even loved family members simply do not.


Whatever the size of our family, I hope that we:

Dwell less on the number of children we have 
and more on the number of times we tell them we love them every day;

Dwell less on what the world feels about our family 
and more about how our family feels about one another and the gospel of Jesus Christ; 

Dwell less on the riches of the world 
and more on the treasure of family, no matter the size.



As for those trips to the grocery store, I have learned to face them with a bright smile, eager to tell others how much I enjoy being a mom to these special souls.


I recently had a woman stop me as I pushed my drastically overfilled cart toward the exit of the store.



“Now I feel better about buying more than I need, too,” she said, pointing at my purchases.

I knew that how I reacted to this comment would affect not only her day, but mine as well.

Suppressing my desire to be upset, I smiled, held on to her hand and said in an excited tone, “You know what the crazy thing is? We actually DO need all of this! We have a large family, and they are the joys of our life.”


Bring on the stares. Bring on the questions. I welcome opportunities to share why I have children and why that choice has blessed our life immeasurably.



Thanks for sharing your time with me.  Have comments on how you have been affected by the size of your family, for good or bad?  Please comment or email me at amotherwhoknows@outlook.com.

Blessings,

Holly

Saturday, August 15, 2015

I'm Not Driving a Whole HOUR to See Another Temple



Yes, I actually did hear someone say that.

I was attending Women’s Conference with my mother this May at the beautiful BYU campus in Provo, Utah. As we left the closing session at the Marriott Center and walked back out into the sunshine, I overheard a conversation. (Here is where my husband would pipe up and tease me for the word ‘overheard’. It’s more like ‘specifically listened in on’. I am a writer and have that people-watching/conversation-listening disease common to those of my fate.)

“My sister-in-law wants us all to go down to the temple open house.” A woman close to me, maybe in her early thirties, was talking with a group of friends. She continued, “She got us tickets and everything, but I’m just like – I’m not driving a whole HOUR just to go and see another temple.” She flipped her blonde hair back over her shoulder as the conversation turned to another topic.

My. heart. hurt.

Immediately my mind turned to people the world over who have waited their whole lives for a temple to be built withing a day or two’s journey from their home. I think of families who sacrifice and scrimp and save to be able to make the trip to a temple to be sealed together for time and all eternity. And yet, for those privileged few who live within minutes of multiple temples, a whole HOUR? Puh-lease. I have better things to do with my time.



Now – to sidestep a little – I readily admit that I did not hear the entire conversation. Who knows what that comment could have meant with a little more context? Maybe she just had a really tough schedule that week and making that trip fit into her family’s life just wasn’t going to work. Possible? Yeah. I will do my best to give her the benefit of the doubt. Heaven knows I have been misunderstood about things I have said many a time in my life. My foot and mouth are pretty good friends by now.



When it comes to the gospel, I tend to say it like it is.  I haven’t always been brave enough to do that, but I am now. Neal A. Maxwell is my hero for his firmness and no-nonsense approach to it all. When I read his inspired and wise words, I feel as if all the confusion and noise of the world fall away, and I become a student in a classroom, with Elder Maxwell basically saying “C’mon – let’s be real now. This is how it is. You know this. Let’s be grown-ups about it.”

I have a firm testimony of the gospel. Satan has done his very best to shake it – and boy has he – but his efforts have been in vain. With each earthquake of doubt I have carefully rebuilt my faith to withstand a storm twice the size. It has taken time, it has taken great effort, humility, soul searching, study and repentance.

What have I gotten for my labors? I have an irrefutable connection to my Father in Heaven, a serious love and awe for my Savior, and am daily grateful for the comfort and guidance that come into my life through the Holy Ghost.

In other words: The gospel is the gospel is the gospel is the gospel. The truth is the truth is the truth is the truth – and there is not a darned thing a single person in existence can do to change that.



The gospel is not dependent upon anyone believing in it to be true. 

Truth does not need to be housed within a social or religious construct in order to be real or have validity. 

Even if not a single soul on this beautiful earth believed in God, the reality is that He would still be God. 

God over Heaven and Earth and all things between, before and after.

In the end, ‘religion’ itself will be a non issue. Christ will come again, and His gospel will stop being simply ‘religion’ in the eyes of the world and will shift into an absolutely glorious, terrifyingly unavoidable reality. 

Right now we can pull the blinders over our eyes and plug our ears, but we will not always have that opportunity.

So, what exactly am I getting at?

I hope that when we look at a picture of a temple, or think of our families and how much we love them and want to be with them forever, there could be no distance too great to keep us from these precious blessings. One hour or a thousand, there will come a time when those minutes become irrelevant – but the things we chose to do with them will be of utmost importance.



Have questions or comments on how you honor and keep your sacred covenants? Comment below or email me at amotherwhoknows@outlook.com.

Blessings,

Holly

Tuesday, July 21, 2015




School lunch.



Remember back in the day when we would wait in line with our lunch card, pick up a tray, walk along the counter, and then face the terribly difficult choice of:

 Roast Beef Au Jus

{or}


........Oh, yeah. There was only ONE choice. 


I remember being hungry, taking what was offered, and eating it. 

On Friday, we could pay an extra quarter for chocolate milk. 
 Aahhh, blessed Friday. No wonder it's everyone's favorite.




These days, the menus my children bring home are comical. Each day has five - count 'em, FIVE - main dish options, and even more when it comes to sides, each one more unhealthy than the last.

And yet, and yet....no matter how many times I would try to gear myself up to make homemade lunches, I would last a week, if that, and then give in to the "hot lunch" option.


Why?

Let's be honest, here:

It's easy.

It requires nothing of me in the morning, and I can even deposit the money online now.



About two months before the end of this last school year, however, I determined to do it.
For real. All out. Whatever it takes.


I printed out cute little calendars....



Planned out a month at a time....



Went shopping.....



.....and I was already exhausted.

For those of you who truly enjoy grocery shopping and preparing lunches,
I say hold on to that. 
You hit the personality jackpot.

For me.....it doesn't matter how much planning {even though I love lists}
how much shopping {even though I love to eat}
and how much pep-talking {even though self-affirmations make me feel like Stuart Smalley}



...Morning Mommy Syndrome always wins. 

I might do a whole post later on the symptoms of MMS.
 I'm thinking of starting a support group.


I needed a solution. That didn't involve me expecting too much of myself.


My solution?

Lunch stations.



Download the labels by clicking on and saving the image below.



I realized that if I did an hour or less prep once a week, my kids would be able to not only easily make their own lunches,
but also be more excited about them
{because they got to choose what went in to them}.



My lunch station line-up:

The Hardware Bin: 

paper bags (for those I-forgot-my-lunch-bag moments)
sandwich bags,
snack size bags,
index cards (for our son with type 1 Diabetes to write down the carb count)
marker and pencil
plastic silverware
straws
napkins


the Bread Bin:

loaf of bread
rolls
bagels
tortillas


the Sandwich Station:

pb & j
sandwich meat
cheese slices
lettuce leaves
pickle slices
mayonnaise
mustard

{I like to place a cutting board between the bread and sandwich bins
for an easy surface to assemble sandwiches}

Yogurt and String Cheese Bin:

self-explanatory!

Fruit and Vegetable Bin:

snack size bags of:
carrots
pickles
olives
cherry tomatoes
snap peas
strawberries
watermelon chunks
grapes
pineapple chunks
apple slices
....you get the picture....


Snack Bin:

snack size bags of:
pretzels
ritz crackers
goldfish crackers
graham crackers
and occasional treats, etc.



The great thing is, I don't have to keep all of these options on hand.  Let me clarify - I DO NOT keep all of those on hand. I can take a little bit of time Saturday or Sunday night, put together the bags for the next week based on what is in season or whatever I have on hand, put the bags in the bins, and breathe a huge sigh of relief.

My children will eat healthy lunches all week, and with no exhausting effort on my part.
A perfect arrangement.
Plus, what kid doesn't LOVE getting to choose things to put in a lunch bag?


On school mornings all I have to do is set the bins out at the table or counter. The kids take it from there, filling their bags with some pretty cute giggles most of the time.
 It makes it really fun when I get to add a special treat or try out a new fruit or vegetable.
They get so excited to see the choices change from week to week!

And the cleanup?



Simply the best.


The other wonderful thing is the huge help it is for feeding a child with type 1 Diabetes.
Any parent of an elementary school age child with this condition
knows the absolute stress lunchtime can be for you and for your child.

 I find that if I keep our little OXO food scale next to me while I am making up the bags, I can weigh the portions out so easily and then I write the carb count on EVERY bag, whether it is going to our Diabetic son or not. That way, no matter what he grabs, the carb count is right there in plain sight for him or the nurse or the secretary or the teacher or ANYONE who has something to do with his care while at school.


I hope these stations help curb the chaos in your home! Tell me what you like or don't like and why!
I love suggestions.

As always, feel free to comment below, use the share buttons, or email me at:
amotherwhoknows@outlook.com

Happy Lunching!

Holly

P.S.: Here comes the reality photo. My kitchen counter today. Yay for reality!









I came upon a talk last night in my study that had within it a quote from C.S. Lewis I had never heard.

The talk, Women for the Latter Day, was given by Barbara B. Smith in the October 1979 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

In her address she quotes:

C. S. Lewis has wisely said that homemaking “is surely in reality the most important work in the world. What do ships, railways, mines, cars, and governments, etc. exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their own homes? … We wage war in order to have peace, we work in order to have leisure, we produce food in order to eat it. So your job is the one for which all others exist” (Letters of C. S. Lewis, Warren H. Lewis, ed., London: Geoffrey Bles Ltd., 1956, p. 62).



There may be many in the world who scoff at the work a mother does, but I do have a personal testimony of its importance, for the influence we have over society is great beyond measure.