Saturday, May 29, 2010

finding happiness...

Lately I have been trying to find the time to ponder, to evaluate and to have a good internal search on the things that make me happy. Surprisingly this has been a difficult process. I know easily the things that don't make me happy... like a messy house, tight fitting clothes, slamming doors, spiders in my bedroom, burnt dinner etc. but finding what makes me happy has been a lot harder than I thought...

I have had to look back over my years of life (all 35 plus years - which today seems like ages) to try to remember what used to make me happy. As I have done so I have been able to remember little pockets of time where I felt pure happiness. Little moments of pleasure in the simple things and tiny treasures of joy that I was able to experience and delight in.

Reflecting on these experiences I realised that I have stopped doing what makes me happy because my time is taken up with housework, mothering and wifing (is that really a word??? is now!). I believe these things are very important and are truly worth my time but after some thought I can see that I am now at a stage where I can begin to do some of those things that make me happy again. I can  start to plan them into my life a little at a time and begin to do more things for me....things that will make me happy, not everyone else.
"Happiness is a state of mind, 
therefore the real source of happiness lies in the mind, 
not in external circumstances."


I totally agree. I have seen people with nothing, no material possessions, that were truly happy. Their happiness came from simple things. After pondering this quote I realise that I need to change my thoughts, my ideas on what is going to make me happy and that I need to decide to be happy with the things that I already have in my life.

So after all this thinking what is going to make me happy?
Here is what I came up with so far:
Family adventures - I love hanging out with my family, exploring new places and just playing with each other
Flowers - love fresh flowers (now that I know where the flower market is - there is no reason why I cannot pop on over to get me a bunch every so often)
Music - I love listening to different styles of music - I am going to take a stand and insist that we play some songs that I like instead of the wiggles and the latest teen music
Books - I am going to make an effort to read more- with the books that I already have... (great! my kids are thinking, because when I read more it means they are going to read more) and to plan it into my schedule
Hugs - I love getting them and giving them. I want to slow down, to be found sitting down so that I can be on a level to hug the kids more and that they feel they can approach me for one. I also want to focus on giving more to Matt, especially when he gets home from work - need to fight the kids off to do this one!
Dancing around the house - In our house we love putting the music up load and dancing our little hearts out. I love it when the whole family gets involved and it makes me laugh to see the little ones giving a dance move a good try. We have been so busy lately we have not made time for our dance nights and I miss them.

Of course I have many other things that make me happy such as: sunsets, the ocean, creating craft, coriander, dark chocolate, gardening and bargains but I need to start slowly to add things into my life and the ones I have chosen to expand on are the ones I will start with first.

So what I need to do now is let go of wanting everything to be organised, to be perfect and to do the things that will make me happy. Sure a house of order is great but life is passing me by while I pick up the toys for the 100th time or I sweep the floor for the 4th time that day. I want to be remembered for living life, participating in life and not for standing on the sidelines wishing I was out there doing it.

So here's to happiness and finding what really does make us happy.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

big sister blessings...


This is not the best picture...blurry and the lighting is bad...but I love it!
The kids love giving piggy-backs in our house and having a big sister is a wonderful help in allowing more of the children to have a turn.
Having a big sister with muscles is even better....Go Chelsea!
She is so patient with the kids and always happy to participate and have fun. Total angel that Chelsea!

As I sit and watch the kids take turns trying to carry each other I am often surprised at just how much strength they have...my mind of course goes to housework...hmmm...you are now strong enough to carry a washing basket or you could carry a heavier shopping bag inside next time...can't help myself...obsessed with mothering and progressing them all...anyway, enjoy!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

update....

We have been a busy bunch lately.
Lots of school activities and performances.
Chelsea spent 3 days on a music camp - totally loved it and finished it off with a performance.
Here she is in the middle with her purple flute...easy to spot!



I am sure I have mentioned this before...but Chels is getting so grown up....and this girl just keeps on growing...the other night when we were watching a movie I decided as she is taller than me now that I need to snuggle on her shoulder...what a weird site we were...but Mum's need hugs too you know!


We have had some relaxing weekends at home recently and it has been great to see all the kids hanging out together in the back yard...here they are all doing something oranges...who knows what idea they came up with? all I know is that it kept them busy and they played with each other.


Liahona has been into baking lately...must have caught that bug from her dad!
She made this 'yummo' pound cake...it was so sweet...after looking at the recipe I could see why...it contained about 5 cups of sugar...don't think we will be making that one again!


Sam had a fall at kindergarten and hurt his arm...after x-rays and doctor visits we were happy to discover that it was more like a sprain and no broken bones...he was very sore for days and tried really hard to smile for me...thanks Mr. Sam.

Here he is after the picture is taken, back to his miserable self...poor little man!


Liberty has been enjoying being the only child home on some days during the week - gets to lick the chocolate bowl all to herself...can't get any better than that - hey Libby!



 

Harmony has been doing a lot of 'dress ups' and creating lots of mess in her exploring and creating with pictures, toys and books. She is doing really well at school and is so excited that she can READ!

 

Eli - well he is being his cheery self...playing with everyone, doing everything and still making time to come and give me a cuddle every so often. He has been improving with his drawing at school and I delight in seeing the pictures he draws of me...go Eli!




Sunday, May 23, 2010

love a man who bakes

I don't know about you...but I love a man who knows how to cook.... and especially bake!
I was quite surprised when we got married to find that Matt is a great cook.
He even knew how to make some dishes better than me (thanks Mary).

I decided early on in our marriage that it was important for Matt to keep his skills up to date and have always provided opportunities for him to keep these skills and expand on them in the kitchen.

He is always happy to do dinner and loves to spend an afternoon with the kids cooking.
The poor guy...sometimes I see him in the kitchen with a mass of children around him all wanting to spend time with him and all participate in the cooking...he handles the pressure really well and somehow everyone comes away feeling happy!

One thing about Matt...he loves to bake...loves to get the yeast out, to prepare the bread or rolls and see things rise. The kids favourite part is punching the dough and watching it shrink.


He has been into making rolls with tomato, ham and cheese mixed throughout them.
Yummo! is all I have to say...actually I think I have been enjoying them a little too much lately.



Keep up the good work sweetheart!
Keep those skills up...you are blessing our whole family with your talents.

Friday, May 21, 2010

blogging...I think I am addicted

I think I am in trouble.
I think I am addicted to blogging.
I realised this the other day as I was wondering around the house pretending to do housework.
I caught myself looking at things and coming up with ideas to blog about.
I remember looking at a plate thinking what application I could find, then looking at the washing and realising I had at least 20 blog posts I could write about in relation to that!
I also noticed this change when I caught myself several times this week wishing I had a camera on me to capture a moment lost so I could record it on this blog.
I find that now that I have started expressing some of my feelings and being a little bit brave with some opinions that my mind wants to spew forth information and thoughts all the time.
I am finding it very therapeutic getting things out and wonder why I did not do this sooner!
I have kept a journal for a long time and stopped several years ago because finding the time was difficult..I was always too tired at night to write but blogging seems to work for me.
Of course not everyone is interested in my random thoughts and opinions and that is fine...some people might even really dislike it but I will keep going, sharing little adventures our family has and things that I like.
So after discovering this new addiction...what am I going to do about it...nothing! I am going to feed it but doing it more and more...because I am happy that I have found something that I like to do. I don't have to be good at it, or perfect at it. The important thing is that I am giving it a try.
If you don't have a blog, start one, give it a try...you might even like it too!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Nathan does cross country

A little while ago Nathan made it into the districts cross country.
He was very excited because even though he ran fast enough last year - he was too young to compete.
So off I went with the three younger cheerleaders - who let me say were in no mood for cheerleading.
It rained, we had no umbrella and it was miserable but we were excited to see Nathan try his best.
Below is the line up for the race in his age group.
All 114 of them.




With his friend Josh who was able to run with him.
Nathan was so excited he came exactly half way in the race - 57th.
Good job for a first try, with no practise!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

creative play...pumpkin baby



I love it when my kids think creatively.
When they use everyday things around the house to create adventures.
I try to look at what they are doing and help to encourage it.
Here is one simple adventure Liberty had.

I pulled a small pumpkin out of my cupboard and Liberty took to it right away.
She started carrying it around like a baby. 
Realising that this looked like a fun opportunity to expand on her thinking I got out a marker and made it real - well, as real as it was going to get!


I love the way she is holding the pumpkin and keeping it close to her.


I just love this picture...the expression on her face is gorgeous!
(maybe only a mother would love????)
I know that this is her 'I think you are so cute and I love you' look.

This little pumpkin went in the pram, was wrapped in a blanket and went in the swing outside.
Libby had a delightful time playing with it and later she had a delightful time eating it.
(She doesn't know that part....it's our secret!)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

camping boys...

On the weekend Matt took the three boys away with him for an overnight camp.
It was a Father/Son camp with other friends. The boys had a wonderful time hanging out with other kids their age and Matt had a great time catching up with friends his age! Amazingly on the one night he was away he actually managed to get some sleep...thanks sweetheart for giving the boys great experiences.


The boys really love hanging out with their Dad and it's nice for them to spend some separate time together...to talk boy stuff!


When the boys came home Sam and Eli told me several times their story of 'roasting marshmallow's' on the fire. What made the experience even sweeter was when Nathan told me that there were not enough marshmallow's and that he gave up his so that Sam and Eli could have the experience of roasting them over the fire. The boys love putting a marshmallow on a stick and will never know the great thing their older brother did for them but Matt and I will remember. What a great older brother!


Some snaps from the camp:






Saturday, May 15, 2010

coupon books...

This morning I have been looking through my coupon books I got for Mother's Day.
I love them.
I get very excited when I receive them.
I love planning when I am going to use them up.
They are full of bubble baths, dinners, massages and other personal treats.

One of my favourites this year is from Nathan.
(some are left blank for the kids to fill in themselves or for me to fill in)

It says: You are entitled to one coupon of - One tie.
I laughed when I read it because I know it means he will wear a tie to church for me.
He knows I love it when he does because he looks so handsome and grown up.
I really appreciate that he was thinking about me and what I would like.

So let the planning begin and the relaxing joy that comes from coupons.
Thanks to those who helped put these together for my kids and blessing my life!

I included this cute card from Liberty - for the O in Mother's Day it has a finger print of her cute little finger and I love the idea.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Too tired to be a mum.

Tonight I am feeling too tired to be a mum.
My brain hurts, my body hurts and my bed is calling my name.
(Fresh sheets make it even more tempting).

My patience has gone, it has left the building, it vanished in a puff of smoke and I have had enough and just want to do things that I want to do. Like eat chocolate and go blog surfing.

I have spent the past 2 hours (and counting) trying to put the kids to bed.
The reading stories, the 'I will give you a chocolate if you get into bed' bribe (which I only use if I am exhausted and desperate), the silent treatment, the no eye contact treatment, the hugs, the back rubbing, the hair stroking....none of it is working and I am tired.

I want to finish the dishes from dinner.
I want to mop the floors.
I want to put the washing away.
I want to read a book and drink hot chocolate.
I want to not be interrupted so I can think for once.

(I love these kids so much but how many times do I need to be told everything their teachers and friends said today???)

(teachers I love you and appreciate you and you play such an important role in my kids lives and I know my kids feel the same way because they remember everything you say!)

So right now, while I am feeling this way, I try my best to turn my thoughts to good things.
I put on a song a like, sometimes a slow relaxing song, that helps me focus on spiritual things, to draw strength from above, and uplift my heart and mind to be able to cope.
Sometimes a upbeat dancing song that will motivate me (especially if I have lots of housework to do) and to help me find energy to do the things that need to be done.

Why? because I know like most of us, no-one is going to come and rescue me.
I need to pull myself together and face the things that need to be done.
I know I can leave them and they will still be there in the morning but there is a greater feeling that comes the next morning if I have been able to overcome my challenges the night before and I can walk into a fresh, clean kitchen.
That next morning it makes me smile to remember that every day is a fresh new day with a fresh start and it gives me hope that each day has the potential to be better than the last one.

kind words...

Last night I was getting ready to go out to a meeting.
Sam came into my room as I was preparing to get changed.
He walked into my walk in robe and looked at my clothes.
He pointed to my skirts and said 'Wear this one Mum, you will look pretty'.

So I took down the skirt and put it on.
Sam looked at me and said "You look beautiful Mum".

His face was priceless as he looked me up and down and his sincerity melted my heart.

I love that he knows how to give compliments.
I love that he says them to me.
That he knows what pretty and beautiful mean.
(He does think other things are pretty and beautiful beside me!!!)
That he has a great example from his Dad who uses those words and says them to me often.

I went off to my meeting feeling great, thankful for my sweet son and his tender words.

mother/daughter flower market adventure

This year for Mother's Day (I know it is over but I still haven't finished sharing all the great things that happened), I decided to do something different. Instead of getting a bunch of flowers from the family, which sometimes happens for Mother's Day, I decided to get the girls together and took them off to the flower market. I decided to turn the experience into a teaching moment and to help the girls learn about flowers.


It was of course packed out the day before Mother's Day (which was great for them to see so many other people loving flowers and buying big bunches), we managed to find a park and have a great time together. I took the girls around the different stalls, showing them all the different types of flowers. I showed them that some flowers are more for look/decoration and some are for their lovely aroma. It is wonderful when you can find both together.


I took them into the cold rooms to see how they keep the flowers fresh and that was not a favourite place to be early on a Saturday morning for them!  I asked them to look around to choose which flower they liked best, we smelt it, we touched it, we discussed why they loved it so much.


We then had fun working out which flowers we wanted to buy to create our own floral arrangement. We looked at price, quality and quantity. It was great fun to see them working out which colours they thought would go together well. We came home and had some fun putting them together and I was impressed with their efforts. Go girls!


Below are some of their favourites:




Flower girls...with one missing!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Upside down cake

I was delighted to receive a special gift from Liberty for Mother's Day.
Some wonderful women at church had organised for the little one's to give their mother's a special cake and card.

When I arrived at the car to go home, Liberty was already strapped in her seat.
As soon as she saw me she squealed out my name and went crazy with her arms and legs, she was so excited to see me.

I went up to the back of the car where she told me she had a cake for me.
I gave her a hug, thanked her and she gave me a sweet little kiss on the cheek.
(Which was just too cute!)

When I looked at the cake, I just laughed. I loved it.
It had become an upside down cake and it was just how it should be.
(The frowning face below is because I wanted a picture and in her eyes I was taking too long to eat it).




Just in case you could not see it properly.
Here is my gorgeous cake.
Liberty style.

Thanks Libby.
Tasted great too!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day talk

This year was a different Mother's Day for me.
I got to give 2 talks about the sacred role of Mother.


At first it was difficult to write my talk as I kept getting interrupted by the kids and did not feel I was being a good mum by having to keep saying 'Please leave me alone...go and play....go away...I am busy...I need to concentrate'. Eventually I found the time and managed to put my thoughts together. Here are a few things I talked about:


Ever since I can remember I wanted to be a mother. I greatly desired it, I dreamed of it and I planned for it. I planned on having a large family because I love children and after the birth of my first child, I quickly learned that being a good mother was going to be a lot harder than I thought. I began to devote more of my time to learning how to improve my mothering skills. 
As more and more children came to my family I realised I needed more than study to help me out and I turned to friends and other women to guide, uplift and instruct me on how to find nobility in motherhood. The women I met at church and other places became my friends, my support and truly my mothers as they adopted me and helped me through those early difficult years with no sleep and way too many nappies and tantrums.
Normally when you hear people teach about motherhood they teach the ideal...the model of what we should be striving for.  As a woman and as a mother this can sometimes make us feel inadequate because we can’t seem to do all the things we want to do or we may not be living according to that ideal standard. Recently I was asked to describe how I feel how women in general are doing. My answer was simple: they are heavy laden. Motherhood and parenthood are challenging roles. The responsibility mothers have today has never required more vigilance. 
Mothers face many challenges and they try the best they can. Many women have to work to help care for their families and there are many widows and single-parent women who carry the load of taking care of families and feel like they are facing this challenge alone.
Occasionally, as mothers (alright...most of the time as mothers) we are too hard on ourselves. We think that our offering is not quite perfect, it is not acceptable. I tell you, however, that if you have done your best, which you usually do, your humble offering, whatever it may be, will be acceptable. You are doing a much better job of holding it all together and making it work than you realise. We face many challenges and distractions that can stop us being the kind of mother we want to be.


All we need to do is do the best we can. We need to take our challenges one day at a time. To look at everything through the lens of eternity. If you do this things will take on a different perspective. 
During the week I had an appointment in the city and took my 2 year old daughter on the train with me. She taught me some valuable lessons about motherhood and helped me to see things with a different perspective. 
As we were riding the train my daughter stood up on the chair to look out the window and she was surprised to see everything go black as we entered a tunnel. She loudly yelled out ‘Dark, mummy Dark’ and I said ‘Yes, it is dark outside’. As she turned back to look out the window the train came out of the tunnel and she was delighted that she could now look out of the window and see the scenery wizzing past. “Light, mummy light’ she yelled out to me. “Yes ,you can see the trees and the cars now’ I replied. She was very happy that it was light and that she could enjoy the view on the train. Shortly after that experience my daughter looked out the window and saw a train go past that had carriages filled with dirt and spray painting all over the outside. She looked at me and said ‘Dirty, mummy dirty’. Then she looked at the train we were riding in and lovingly rubbed the walls and said ‘Clean, mummy clean’.
Even though this was a small simple experience I was impressed that my 2 year old daughter knew the difference between dark and light and it was obvious that she loved the light. As I pondered this moment I was reminded of the sacred role of mother, of the responsibility I have to continue to teach my daughter to love the light, to look for the light in her life and to understand that the ‘light’ is the gospel of Jesus Christ. I also was surprised that she could clearly define the difference between dirty and clean. Oh! how I love that she wants to be clean. 

I believe that motherhood in the eternal sense is developed through sacrifice, service, and love. For most women the greatest opportunities to develop nurturing talents come with the birth of their own children. However, I am sensitive to the fact that there are many who do not bear children and I know that they can develop qualities of eternal motherhood in other ways. 
These feelings of motherhood can also come as we laugh and cry with each other as women, as friends and as we cherish children we met throughout our lives. Even if we don’t have children of our own, we can serve as mothers to people young and old throughout our adult lives, teaching and loving and helping them.  
Who ever said that a child can have only one mother? I believe children can have as many mothers as they need to help them grow stronger in personality and character. The sacred role of motherhood is not defined solely by the physical process of giving birth. I hope that my children will have many women mother them as they grow and develop. I have had many mothers over the years who have cared for me, loved me and taught me great lessons I needed to learn. 
What a blessing and a gift it is for us to be mothers and to have children who help us be the best that we can be!




Mother's Day morning.

What a lovely morning I had. Homemade cards, small gifts from the school stalls, kisses, hugs, loving words...what more could I ask for? Nothing.

I love reading the words the kids write in my cards. Here are a few:
Nathan thanked me for the many things I do. For keeping the house clean and in order (so great that he knows that is important to me). For making yummy dinners (so happy he likes my cooking!) and for doing many jobs.
Liahona said I was the sun rising from heaven and a butterfly fluttering in a meadow (Wow! this really surprised me and touched my heart). She also loves the way I care for her and make her smile (especially when she is trying to tell me a lie).

It is nice to have all the kids hang out in my room and share their love.
I don't have breakfast in bed like some other mum's, I find it is messy, doesn't taste nice and I generally feel sick for the rest of the day, I am just not a breakfast person. So we have a nice dinner and the kids can help out and serve me in that way.

I was really surprised when I got up early this morning to get things ready for our normal Sunday to find out that Matt had beaten me to it. He must have stayed up late the night before and done them all. The kitchen was cleaned, everyone's clothes were ironed and the house was in order. What a great man I have...I was truly blessed and was able to relax and get ready without rushing around. Thanks sweetheart.

Matt also surprised me by giving me a gorgeous necklace with 7 blue sapphires (my favourite) on it to represent each of the kids....sooooo spoilt...I love it!!! I am so keeping this guy!!!!

I love being a mum to these cheeky cute kids and love them soooo much!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

my walls

Lately I have been assessing what we have on the walls of our home.
Really taking the time to look at what we own and to see what images or messages we are sending to our kids and others who enter our home.

I want to send a message that families are important and to the kids that they are a big priority in our lives. I also love bright fun things.


I have taken some things down and totally changed some rooms.
It is still a work in progress and with the budget I am working with - it could just take a lifetime to have my walls looking the way I want.

So I started looking around for ideas and came across one I really liked.
It was focused on your families name.

I scrounged around and managed to find enough scrap paper and letters to make something new to hang on our walls. I was happy with the result.


I placed above it a simple picture of one of my favourite flowers that Matt surprised me with once. It is a reminder that he cares about me and the importance of the little things in our marriage.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The reading mother.

I believe in books.
I believe in the power of books.

Books have been a big influence in my life.
When I was growing up I loved being able to escape into a story, to become a character and to let my imagination fly as I dreamed of different places and adventures. Whenever our family was going out somewhere I always wanted to stay home, to be left in peace, to just read.

As a mother I have spent a lot of time (and money) getting great books and reading to my kids. We have lots of children's books and I am always encouraging my children to have a current story they are reading.
I love sitting down to snuggle with them, to feel their little bodies sitting next to mine and to see their eyes light up with excitement as we share a story together.

I love a poem that says:

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be - 
I had a mother who read to me.
(Strickland Gillilan, "The Reading Mother.")

One of my favourite things about being a mother and reading books is when I sit down to read to the smaller children. I begin the story with a couple of children listening but when I finish the story I generally have all seven children listening. The older kids try to act like they are not interested but can't help themselves from listening and have to join in. I love it!

So to all you women out there that read to kids - I love what you are doing, you are blessing our children's lives and helping their minds to create, imagine and develop.

Thankyou.






Tuesday, May 4, 2010

chilling out....ellis style

How wonderful it has been lately to have 2 public holidays in a row.
On these days I get this great urge to go crazy painting a room, cleaning out cupboards and trying to pack in as many things as I can, as I have Matt home to help watch the kids.

This time I decided to let is all go and to chill out.
I was surprised at how difficult I found this to be.

I let myself sleep in.
(well a BIG sleeping in around here is to 7am).

I went outside and pottered around in my veggie garden - delightful :)
(especially as all the kids were inside and it was just ME).

I did a small clean out of the shed (couldn't help myself) but it was small, more like rearranging the entrance to the shed and I felt so much better knowing that I had made a little difference.

I hung out in the kitchen with some of the kids and we made zucchini, ham and cheese mini quiches (our favourite) and we ate them hot, fresh out of the oven...yummo!

With my full tummy I then had a small snooze in the lounge...lovely, just lovely.

When I woke up Matt had decided to make homemade bread and rolls. The house smelled great and boy do I love a man who loves to bake!!! Hot bread with butter, fresh out of the oven...it has been way to long my friend, we have missed each other...white bread and butter...delicious.

We all then gathered in the lounge room for our family night. Clapped, laughed, sang songs and finished off with a conga-line to some funky music. Great fun and great company!

What a sensational day...so glad I decided to chill out and not miss those wonderful moments at home, that I took the time to hang out with my family instead of filling the day up being busy, busy, busy.

Love you guys....

Monday, May 3, 2010

Deep thoughts...

I walked out to the kitchen the other morning to see Liberty sitting at the table like this: