Monday, August 26, 2013

First Day of School

Last Wednesday, the 21st, was the kids' first day of school.  They were all quite excited to go.  We started off the morning with checking out what the Backpack Fairy brought.  Some got new clothes, some got locker stuff and everyone got snacks!

Since I am doing a long term sub for the Health/PE teacher I got to go back to school with them.  We all loaded in the car around 7:20 and headed off to our first day of school!

Maddi started 7th grade this year so she gets to go to the high school.  She is excited to be off in a school on her own doing new things.  She is also excited about getting to run cross country this year.  She has worked all summer getting ready for it and is excited for it to finally be starting!
Makenna is the big dog at school now with all the other 6th graders.  They are top of the food chain and seem to enjoy it!  Makenna was excited to get back to school and her social life and is looking forward to volleyball this fall.
Zane has moved to the "big kid" end of the building too.  He is in 5th grade this year and they get to be at one end of the school with the 6th graders while all the other grades are at the other side of the school.  It's hard to imagine that he is in 5th grade already!  Football is in full swing now and he is enjoying playing that and having Michael be one of the coaches.  I can't wait to watch a game!

Dillon is in 4th grade this year.  He loves seeing his friends every day and playing dodge ball at recess.  He also loves being able to play football again this year.  He is looking forward to his 9th birthday in a few days and even though he is the youngest in his class he does a good job keeping up with everyone!

Zeke is in 2nd grade this year.  It seems like just yesterday he was running around in his diaper and cowboy boots with a binky in his mouth.  Now he is all grown up and keeping up with the big boys!  This year he just gets to watch the others play the sports but he is excited that Michael said he could the water boy for the 5th/6th grade team.  He loves being with the older boys and feeling a part of things.
Princess Olivia is in 1st grade this year.  My baby is no longer a baby!  In fact, it seems like she has grown the most!  She reads and writes and goes to sleepovers and is a total social butterfly!   It is fun to watch her interact with her friends and classmates and watch her grow!  She loves going to school!

Here are all the kids lined up from oldest to youngest. 

 Here they are from last year.  You can tell from where their heads hit the windows on the door that they have grown.  They are still stair steps, but they are taller stair steps!


Friday, August 23, 2013

It Didn't Work For Her

School started Wednesday and this year I got to go back to school with the kids.  I get the opportunity to be a long term sub for the Health/PE teacher while she is on maternity leave.  First day was great.  Energy levels were high.  Humidity was even higher and we were all melted into sticky wet puddles by the end of the day.  But it was a good day.  Second day was much cooler and the kids had settled down just a little bit.  During PE we were talking about the benefits of PE and physical exercise.  One of the kids in the 3rd grade class said that one of the benefits was being skinny.  Before I could even respond the boy in the front row looked at me and said, "It didn't work for her."  Not knowing exactly where he was going with that and wanting to make sure that he wasn't saying anything mean about some one in the class I asked him what he was talking about. (I know, probably not too smart of me.)  He looked at me and said, "You.  It doesn't work for you."  Then I knew what he was talking about and I was ready to fight!  I asked him what he meant by that.  (I know, still not being smart.)  He said, "Well, you must not exercise because you are fat and exercise helps you be skinny.  You need to exercise more."  With my hands on my hips I informed him that as a matter of fact I exercise every day!

Now, I am going to be completely honest with you.  Even though it came from a little 3rd grade boy, it hurt!  For one, it hit too close to home.  My weight is a very sensitive issue for me.  It is something I have struggled with for years.  I do exercise every day. I try to eat carefully.  My weight however,  is ever so faithful and stays with me through all the sweat and tears.  I am very self conscious about it and it is something that I struggle with emotionally on a daily basis.  To have some one, even innocently, point out my weight almost brought me to tears.  That day as I sat in the office and ate my lunch (a salad - no cheese and very little dressing with some fruit), I was quite sad and didn't enjoy my lunch like I should have!

I will tell you why I felt bad and why it is wrong!  Growing up if you were fat, that meant you were a lazy slob.  You ate too much and didn't do anything all day except get fatter.  It was a very negative thing and a person who was fat was some how less of a person.  Now as a child I was not fat.  As a young adult I was not fat.  In fact, I did not get fat and stay fat until after I had Olivia.  My first pregnancy I gained a ton of weight.  Three months after giving birth to number one, I was pregnant with number two.  I only gained 10 pounds that pregnancy and was able to lose all of my extra weight by the time I got pregnant with number three.  Then I lost weight again, but didn't quite get down to my original weight before number four came along.  Same thing with number five.  When number five was 5 or 6 months old I got pregnant again and ended up having a miscarriage.  Something happened in my body then.  I could feel it but can not explain it.  I ended up getting pregnant again and when number 6 was born number one was 6 1/2.  So, in 6 1/2 years I had 6 babies and one miscarriage.  Yes, it was a choice that I made.  One that I feel good about.  One that I prayed about.  Each child came when we felt it was right for them to come.  Yes they are close together and yes there are a lot of them (although I know lots of people with more!).  Despite me having no regrets, my body still did not recover from it all.  I have had all sorts of testing done.  I have had appointment after appointment, but nothing shows up.  I am healthy.  The doctors tell me to exercise more and eat less.  It doesn't work.

Last fall I was running 3 - 4 miles every morning followed by walking another 5 or 6.  Then in the afternoon I would go to cross country practice and run another 2 - 4 miles.  I would do that 5 days a week!  I would count my calories and eat healthy and I lost nothing!  There is only so much a person can do right?!

Now, this isn't a blog on weight loss.  I was just giving you a little history of me.  What this is about is stigmas.  The stigma for overweight people is that they must be lazy slobs who eat everything in their path.  Well guess what?  That's not true!  I am overweight.  Do you want to know who I am?

I am a mother of six kids.  My days are spent taking care of them and my husband.  I get up and exercise, shower, get my kids up and help them get ready for school while I am trying to get myself ready for school and get a lunch packed.  I drive them to school and stay there and teach all day (At least for the next 6 weeks).  Then I come home, do the cleaning, make supper, get the boys ready for football practice and get them where they need to be when they need to be there, I make sure they all get bathed and get their homework done.  I make sure they get everything ready for school the next day.  I read scriptures with them every single night and pray with the family every morning and every night.  I do the grocery shopping.  I feed and water the dogs and take them for walks.  This summer I did an exercise program for the kids and I and others in our neighborhood.  We went five days a week all summer long.  I go to their games, I do their hair and cut their hair.  I mow the lawn and sew up their stuffed animals that have holes in them.  I teach Sunday School.  I take the kids to Wednesday night church.  I try to make them special treats.  I am the Backpack Fairy and Santa's helper.  I am the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny.  We do sleepovers and parties.  I make cookies for their classrooms and read stories.  I'm on the PTO.  I vacuum the pool out in 60 degree weather so they can swim.  I pump up bike tires and look for missing earrings.  I teach them to be good people and stay up at nights worrying that I have failed them as a mother. I like to write.  I like to sing.  I like to bake.  I like to do things for people.  I like to talk to friends.  I like to go on walks.  I like to snuggle with my family.  I like to sit out by the fire and talk and roast marshmallows.  I like to take a warm bath.  I like to drink hot chocolate.  I like to shop. 

I am not trying to brag.  What I am trying to point out is that I am not lazy!  I am not a slob!  I am overweight, yes, but I am not that!  There is so much more to a person than what you see on the outside.  I am so much more than just a number on a scale.  I am so much more than a clothing size.  I may not be beautiful in the eyes of the world but that is not important to me.  What is important to me is what is on the inside.  Who am I?  What kind of mother am I?  What kind of wife am I? What kind of friend am I? What kind of neighbor am I? What kind of example am I?  Am I beautiful on the inside?  I am a daughter of God.  Do you know what that means?  I am a daughter of God!  He loves me.  He sent His Son to die for me.  He trusts me with six beautiful children to love and nurture and teach.  I can return to live with Him again!  Does who I am on the inside please my Father?  That is what is important. 

Yes, I would love to be skinny again but I will not allow that to take over my life.  I do my best to be healthy.  I do my best to teach and help my family to be healthy.  But I do not allow an obsession with physical to take over everything else.  Does it still hurt?  Yes.  Because even though I know what is important I still have to fight that stigma.  I still feel like I have to prove to people that I am a good person even though I am overweight.  I still have to deal with people not being able to look past the outside to see the inside.  I still have to listen to people say, "Well, it didn't work for her."

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Living the Dream

Have you ever wanted something so bad that you could hardly stand it?  It was all you thought about, all you talked about and what you dreamed about at night.  I have.  In fact right now I am going through that.  In my last blog I talked about how I had finally found something that I felt fulfilled what I had been looking for for the last few years.  I have been so excited.  It is seriously the topic of all my conversations, controls all my thoughts and it is what I go to sleep dreaming about.

Have you ever had to walk away from something like that?  Have you ever had to step back and acknowledge that maybe now is not the time?  I have.  It is hard.  It is very hard. This is something that I have thought about off and on for years.  Something that has always been in the back of my mind.  Something that I love.  I thought that we had finally figured out a way to make it happen.  I thought we had finally figured out a way to make it work with our family.  Well, after meetings yesterday and lots of conversations and paperwork, I'm not so sure.  After all of that I think that once again I will have to walk away.

I wanted it so badly!  I imagined what it would be like in the coming years.  How it could bless myself and my family.  How it could become a place of fond memories, comfort and family time.  But I also have to think of the right now.  How will it affect our right now?  To go out on this business venture the way that it seems I will have to do, will be hard to do right now with my kids still at home needing me.

I read a quote the other day that says: "You have nothing in this world more precious than your children."  My dream when I was little was to be a mother.  When I got older and went to college I really had nothing that school could offer that I wanted to be when I grew up.  Still the only thing I wanted to be was a mother.  I got a degree in preschool education so that I could work if needed and still be with my children.  Luckily over the last thirteen years of marriage I have not had to work.  Now my children are all in school and I have been looking for something for me to do.  What do I want to be when I grow up is coming back to my mind.  I have found what I want to be.  The only problem?  It interferes with my original dream of being a mother. 

I started back to school when I was pregnant with Zane.  I don't know why.  I guess I just thought that I should.  During that first semester I had strong feelings that now was not the time.  I finished off that semester and didn't go back.  I stayed home with my children.  Maddi was 6 1/2 when Olivia was born.  I was very busy taking care of my little crew.  I loved it!  There were bad days of course.  Days when I called Michael and told him that if he didn't come home quickly he was going to be minus a child or two!  There were days (still are) when I officially declared that my name was no longer Mommy and that I would not be answering when that name was called - I was off duty! But despite those days, I still loved it and I loved being able to stay home and be involved with them.

Last year my youngest headed to kindergarten.  I started walking in the mornings with a couple of friends.  I helped coach cross country and basketball.  I subbed.  I went to their classrooms and made treats with them.  I went grocery shopping by myself!! I spent the weekends going to ball tournaments with them and eating concession stand food.  I loved it! Through all of that though, I wanted something for me.  Maybe I am selfish.  I know Michael has dreams too that he has had to push away.  Things he would love to do that he probably could do if he wasn't a husband and father. I know that I have nothing more precious than my family.  I know they need to come first.

Even though they are all in school now they still need me.  One of the questions raised in my meeting yesterday was "how is this going to affect the other areas of your life, including your husband's job?  What are you going to do when you have kids home puking and you have to be gone and your husband has to go to work?"  Good question.  Who will go to Maddi's cross country meets?  Who will eat lunch with my kids when it is their meal of the month?  Who will make Easter Bunny cars in their classrooms?  Is what I am pursuing good for us right now?  In the future, yes, there would be great benefits.  But right now?  I don't know. Would I be trading what is most precious for something that isn't as important?

 "The most important work you will ever do will be in the walls of your own home."  That is another quote that I have tried to remember through out the years.  My most important work is a Mother. My first dream, after realizing that I indeed would never be a pro football player, was to be a mother.  My second dream, after trying out for the Vikings and not making it, may have to stay on hold for awhile.  I guess, what I have realized is that I can't allow this dream to interfere with the dream I am already living. 

It is hard to say that.  Last night I went to bed with tears in my eyes.  This morning those tears are still there.  I want it so badly! And if I walk away now I don't know if I will ever get the chance again.  But my family is a forever thing.  It is not just for right now.  What I am building within the walls of my home is more important than anything I can do outside the walls of my home. So in regards to the last post... yes, my search is over.  I did find the thing that I had been looking for.  It is something that I would love and be passionate about.  It is something that has potential to bring blessings.  I haven't given up on it but unless something changes it is going to have to wait. Maybe some day I will find a way to make it work.  Maybe some day, when my kids don't need my presence and driving skills so much, I can pursue it again.  For now though, I will continue to live the dream I started 13 years ago.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Maybe My Search is Over

For several years I have been trying to find something.  I wasn't sure what.  I felt like I needed to do something more with my life.  Something that would allow me to still be the mother that I needed to be but also give me something of my own and a way to help out the family financially if ever needed. I looked at different degrees.  There were some that caused a little interest but nothing that interested me enough to pursue anything.  I looked at different job options and nothing felt right.  Still I felt this urge or need or desire or something to keep looking.

When we moved here I started subbing.  All my kids were in school for the first time so I had my days free.  I loved subbing and getting to know the kids and the staff.  I thought maybe this was what I was looking for but I still had this emptiness or lack of something in the back of my mind.  I don't know how to describe it.  I just felt something was still missing and that there was more out there for me.  I thought about school again but I still felt something lacking.

I had regular conversations with Michael about what I could do and it all ended with an "I don't know.  I don't know what to do."

Then everything changed a few weeks ago... I can't go into details yet because not everything has come together yet.  But I will say that for the first time I am excited and very motivated!  There are times that my nerves go crazy with all the "what ifs" but then a calm comes over me and I relax and know that everything is going to be ok.  I know that doesn't mean that it will all work out the way I am planning, but I do know that it means everything will be ok and turn out the way it is supposed to.

I have support and encouragement from my friends here and many offers of help.  It is kind of scary taking a step into the dark.  I am trying to do something that I have never done before.  Everything ahead of me right now is completely new to me.  This is going to be such a huge learning experience.  I will grow in ways that wouldn't be possible in other situations and my family will grow too.  The possibilities are endless.  This will be something that can grow and change with our family and something that has the potential to provide many blessings.

I know I am making it sound like a too perfect dream.  I know there will be headaches and frustrations along the way, but for once the good seems to outweigh the bad.  This is something that has been floating around in my head for years but the timing was never right.  At one point my kids were all too small, later on Michael's job didn't allow it to happen.  Now, things are different.  Our kids are older, Michael's job is different, our ideas are different and I am ready.

I feel like I am being led in this.  I feel the Lord's hand in this and it gives me strength and joy.  In the scriptures it says: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy."  They also say: "But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought."  In the past I have had a stupor of thought.  Things just haven't come together.  This time however, I feel like my mind has been enlightened and Michael's too.  We have both been able to talk and come up with ideas and work things out so that this would work with our family and our life. 

I am excited to see how this all turns out, what I will learn and where this journey will lead.  Maybe after all these years, my search is finally over.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Be The Reason...

Another summer has come to an end and school will be starting next week.  Last year my kids were the new kids in the school.  This year they won't be but almost all of them have new kids in their classes.  We talk a lot with our kids about how to treat other people.  In our family scripture study we asked the kids what topic they wanted to study.  Dillon wanted to do love. 

The other night we read the scripture to love our neighbors as ourselves.  Who are our neighbors?  What does it mean to love them as we would love ourselves?  They came up with some pretty good answers.  Everyone around us is our neighbor.  If we love them we help them, we are nice to them, we ask them to play with us at school, we don't talk bad about them or join in on conversations where others are talking bad about them, we stand up for them if they are getting picked on, we make them cookies :), we say hi, etc... I was impressed with the things they came up with.

Last night we read the scripture saying that we should love our enemies and do good to them that hurt us.  What does that mean?  How do we love people who are mean to us?  That stumped them a little.  I told them how Daddy still stops and talks to a family here in town that has chosen to "unfriend" us and how he offers his help with their horses or other things. He is nice to them even though they do not return it.  We talked about how maybe kids at school can be mean sometimes but that we should not be mean back.  We don't have to be friends with them, but we don't have to be mean or rude either.

We also talked about the new kids that they would be having in their classes.  We asked them what kids did last year to make them feel welcome.  We talked about what they could do this year to the new kids to help them feel welcome and maybe not so nervous.  Even something as simple as a smile and a hello can make a big difference. A put a quote on our wall that says, "Be the reason some one smiles today."  I challenged my kids to find a way every day to help make some one smile. 

This is not just for kids, it's for everyone.  I am not always good at going out of my comfort zone to greet a new person or be kind to some one who is not very nice to me.  I don't want to deal with all the emotions that come with either of those situations.  I need to look for ways too, to be the reason some one smiles. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

New Additions

Over the last few years we have been searching for a dog that would fit into our family.  To be honest, we have gone through several.  Most of the time the kids ended up being afraid of them for one reason or another. 

We have a cow dog that Michael uses at work and he does an excellent job there but the kids don't particularly care for him.  Olivia has her kitten that they all like, but we still wanted a dog.

Well, we found not one, but two!  And they are huge!  They are Irish Wolfhounds named Nava and Orla. They are sisters and are 2 years old.  We went out to see them almost two weeks ago.  They were so mellow and nice.  Even Olivia (who is most afraid of the other dogs) was petting them and laying on them.  She loved them!  So did the rest of us.  We went back a week later and got them. 

We have had them for five days now and the kids have really been enjoying them.  They take them for walks, brush them, pet them and sometimes just sit with them.  The dogs are super mellow (which I need in a house with 6 kids) and seem to fit right in.  I'm sure to others it may seem like total chaos at our house with 6 kids, 3 dogs and a cat, but there is order to our madness and it is what keeps life fun and interesting.  Here are a few pictures of our new additions:

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Off to the Races!

Last weekend we took our yearly trip to Shakopee to watch the horse races.  We have been doing this every year since 2004 (except for the summer we spent in Wyoming).  The kids love it!  Their favorite place to watch is down on the ground at the finish line.  Their heads are about ground level so they can watch the horses come running across the finish line. 

Zeke was really excited when we got to the races and saw that they had a Buffalo Wild Wings vending cart.  He enjoyed his wings while he waited for the races to start!
Friday night after we watched a couple of races we went to the backside of the tracks to the barns.  We got to see all the horses that our friends, the Michaels' own and race this year.  One of the horses would smile when you blew on his face.  The kids thought it was really funny!

We swam in the hotel and did some school shopping in between everything else.  Saturday morning we went miniature golfing.  It was the first time for most of the kids.  They seemed to really have fun.  We had a few end up in the sand trap...

Zeke thought he was the winner because he scored the most points!  Unfortunately golf doesn't work the way the other sports do :)

That afternoon we went back to the races and then headed home.  We love getting to go to the races every year.  Michael and Dillon especially love the horses and could be with them all day.  It was nice to have a little getaway before summer ends and school starts up again.