Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Little Sentimental

This week my feelings have been a little tender.  The week started out with my grandpa's birthday.  I posted about that already.  During the week I seemed to keep coming across pictures of him and my kids.  Some I posted on Facebook.  Each picture brought back so many memories.  The smells, the sounds, the sights, my mind has just been flooded with them this week.  It has been fun thinking back on so many good times.  It has also been sad of course. 

Today was another moment.  When I was pregnant with Zane my Granny Branch died.  It was really hard for me. I hadn't seen her for a few years.  I always planned on going out to see her (she lived in Tennessee and I lived in Idaho) but it just never happened.  I wanted her to meet my kids.  She saw pictures and always talked about how cute they were and how she wanted to see them but money was tight, I was pregnant and it didn't ever come together.  Then she was gone.  At the same time Michael's Grandma Hyde passed away.  Her funeral was going to be there in Idaho and all his family came.  Michael told me I could go to my granny's funeral if I wanted to but I didn't think it was the right thing for me to do so I stayed.  It was hard but I was thankful to be surrounded by his family. 

After her funeral everyone came to our house to go through a treasure box that his grandma had saved for the kids and grandkids.  It was fun to listen to the memories they shared, but it also added to some of the loneliness and sadness I was feeling.  Later that day Michael's sister had a ring that she had picked out that belonged to Michael's grandma.  For some reason she decided she didn't want it and wanted to know if I did.  I said yes and I wore it every day from then on.  It connected me.  It connected me to them but it also (in some way in my mind) connected me to what I missed out with my own Granny's funeral.  I guess the fact that it all happened at the same time on the same day my mind made that connection.  Even though it belonged to his grandma and it reminds me of her, it also reminds me of my grandma. 

When I got pregnant with Olivia my fingers got swollen and fat from the weight I gained so I had to take the ring off.  I was sad and hoped that as soon as the pregnancy was over I could wear it again.  Well, unfortunately that didn't happen.  Since that pregnancy my body has been struggling and I have not been able to lose that weight.  Off and on I would try to put the ring on only to have to put it back away because it still didn't fit.  Well, today I finally got it on!
I wore it with pride today!  Pride from the road I had chosen to take to finally get to this point. I also wore it with gratitude.  Gratitude to Stacey for giving it to me for some reason and allowing me to have something that reminds me of two wonderful women.  I also wore it with reverence.  Reverence for the two women that it represents.  Today I felt close to them and they were both very much in the forefront of my mind.  In between band lessons and music classes I was able to remember them and have them in my heart adding to the emotions I was already feeling. 
I am thankful for these earthly reminders that I have of such wonderful people.  I am thankful for the memories I have of them and for the choices that they made.  Their choices have affected how my life is in so many ways.  I am also thankful for the knowledge I have of life eternal.  I am so thankful to know that these loved ones are not gone from me forever.  I will see them again and be with them again.  One of the greatest pieces of knowledge that I have is that families can be together forever.  That knowledge brings me comfort and hope when I am sad and missing them.

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Clean Dresser, A Broken Toilet, Lessons Learned

Sometimes life is great and we move along on cruise control without thinking about the curvy road that we are travelling.  Sometimes those curves jump out at us, cause us to step on the breaks and pay attention to the road.  Life is a learning process.  That is why we came here.  We needed to learn.  We needed to show our Heavenly Father that we could make good choices and follow Him even when it was hard, even when the curves were sharp, the deer were out and the fog had settled in.  Lessons come in all shapes and sizes and they do not discriminate!  This last week we have learned some lessons.

One child was asked to clean off her dresser and shelves so that they looked nice and neat.  She informed me that she didn't want to.  This was after she had informed me that she didn't want to do the dishes, clean her room, walk the dogs or anything else for that matter!  So I grabbed a bag and Michael and away we went.  I cleaned off her dresser, her shelves and her floor.  It all fit very nicely into a garbage bag.  Of course she was upset and crying at me to stop.  I told her that I was just helping her.  She did not want to do it so I did it for her.  That didn't go over well :)  I told her when she was ready to calm down and listen, I would let her know what she needed to do to get her things back.  Well, the day came and went and she never asked.  She did ask for her things back and she did ask for a cookie since her room was clean (that was the bribe for the day).  I told her she didn't get her things back until she earned them (she didn't want to know how to do that) and that she didn't get a cookie because I was the one who cleaned her room! 

Now, some of you may think this is harsh and for some kids it would be.  However, for this particular child, it is not!  This particular child likes to push limits, talk back, and argue.  She has been warned of consequences for such actions (garbage bag full of belongings) and knew that if she continued to refuse this is what would happen. 

This brought several lessons.  One:  Obedience allows you to keep your stuff! Two: Mom will follow through!  (For mom make sure the consequences you set in place you will be able to follow through with.)  Three:  It requires humility to get things back on track.  Once she has calmed down, she knows what she has done is wrong.  She usually becomes very helpful (her way of saying sorry) and humble as she asks what she needs to do.

Lesson for me?  How many times do I make the same mistake over and over again just like she does?  How many times do I get mad at myself and say I will never do that again and then the next thing you know, there I am - doing it?  All.The.Time.  How many times do I have to humble myself, ask for forgiveness and then ask what I need to do to make things right?  How many times does my Heavenly Father forgive me and help me to get back on track?  Every time.  His love is unconditional.  His patience is never ending.  I constantly have a bag of stuff that He has had to come and clean off my dresser because I refuse to do it.  Maybe I'm tired or maybe it's not fair or maybe some one made me mad or maybe I just don't want to do it!  The reason doesn't really matter. It all leads to the same consequence - cleaning. 

Another child was innocently playing hide-and-seek in the school.  We were there for a basketball game.  The kids who weren't playing ball were out in the lunchroom playing.  We checked on them several times and all seemed ok.  I did not know there was an intense game of hide-and-seek going on! This child decided to hide in the bathroom.  Well, there aren't many hiding places in there.  He decided on a stall but he didn't want anyone to see his feet underneath the door so he stood on the toilet seat.  Well, that was slippery and he was afraid his feet would fall in so he stood on the back of the toilet.  Problem solved and he had en excellent hiding place!  Then the back of the toilet cracked and a chunk fell off one of the corners (his words).  As I said earlier, I had no clue all of this was going on.  The game ended, we left and nothing was ever said.

That night before he went to bed he asked if he could talk to me.  My first thought?  Now what?!  First thing out of his mouth - How much does a new toilet cost?  Huh?!  He took a deep breath and told us the story.  Now for this particular child to do this was HUGE!  He does not like to get in trouble and he has been known to tell a lie or two (or not say anything at all) to try to get out of trouble.  So the fact that he came to me with no prompting and told me when no one would have ever known it was him was big stuff.  While I was upset over the broken toilet, I was very proud of him for stepping up and letting us know.  We told him he would have to tell the principal what he did and that he (if required) would have to use his money to get a new lid for the back.  He talked to the principal this morning and he is waiting word on what his exact consequence will be.

Lessons learned?  One:  Rules have to be kept even during off hours.  Just because school was not in session didn't mean that the rules were void.  We teach our kids it is the same with church.  Even if we are there for Wednesday night activities, it is still a church and we have to behave respectfully and reverently.  Two:  You feel much better when you tell the truth.  It was hard for him to come out and say it but I could see the relief on his face when he was done and he felt so much better.  Three:  You don't get in as much trouble if you tell the truth!  There are still consequences of course, but they are different.  Because he told the truth, we were able to praise and thank him for that.  Before, he would  be in trouble for the action and then even more trouble for the lie.

Lesson for me?  I actually learned several things.  One:  My kids are listening :)  Some days I wonder and I worry.  Am I doing a good enough job?  Are they understanding and see the importance of what we are saying?  Are things really sinking in?  Times like this let me know that they are and it gives me hope that they will continue making good choices.  Two: Softness.  I was frustrated with the fact that he broke the toilet, but using softness helped the situation be better.  If I would have yelled and gotten mad, he would have gone to bed feeling worse and it would not have helped him see that honesty really is best.  He would have regretted saying anything and then next time he wouldn't have.  But using softness and thanking him for telling me lifted him and it lifted me too.  Three:  Forgive and Forget.  After he told me, we let it go.  He knew his consequence would come from the school.  We did not keep reminding him of his mistake and rubbing it in his face. That never does any good.

Heavenly Father, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, has given us the wonderful gift of repentance.  We all make mistakes.  There have been many times that I have had to ask Heavenly Father if I could talk to Him before I went to bed.  There have been many times that I have had to ask Him "How much does a toilet cost?"  Repentance allows me to put my mistakes behind me, to forgive myself and others and to forget - not forget the lesson learned, but let the mistake go and not allow it to be a part of me anymore.  Heavenly Father also forgives and forgets.  When we repent, our slates are wiped clean and He remembers no more. 

At school, some of the teachers use colors for warnings for the kids.  Green means you are doing really good, yellow means you have had a rough moment or two, red means you haven't changed your behavior and orange means you are out of chances.  The result is loss of privileges.  However, every day when you come in, you get to start all over on green.  No matter how bad the day before was, you get all your colors back and you get to start the day out good.  Repentance allows us to get all our colors back and start out on the green again.  It is such a blessing to know that Heavenly Father loves us so much that He sent His Son to sacrifice for us to allow us this gift.  It is such a blessing to know that Jesus Christ was willing to come and sacrifice for us so that we could have this gift. 

We are all going to need our dressers cleaned off and we are all going to break a toilet every now and then.  How grateful I am to know that I can learn, humble myself, repent, and be forgiven.  That I can get my stuff back, fix that broken toilet and start a new day with my green card showing!  I hope that I can lay off my cruise control a little more and be ready when the curves are sharp, the deer are out and the fog thickens.  While the lessons we have aren't always pleasant, I am grateful for what they teach me and how they help me grow.  I hope that through them, I can become a better person and with each passing day become more like my Savior.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Peanut M&M's, Wing Tipped Shoes and Baseball Caps

That is what is on my mind today.  Today is my Grandpa's birthday.  He would be 95.  He died a few years ago.  I was supposed to go out to see him and my grandma that year on his birthday.  My parents and siblings were going too.  Unfortunately a snow storm came and I wasn't able to make it to there.  He died the next month.  I was so sad I didn't get to see him.  He was always such an important person to me.  We didn't get to live close to him all that much.  He lived in Nashville and we lived a little bit of everywhere.  He and my grandma would always come out for a visit in the summers.  We loved their visits!  I remember standing in the driveway the day they were supposed to arrive and just waiting and watching for their car to appear.  When we saw it we would all go running and yelling.  I'm sure it was quite the sight!  Six kids running and waving their arms, shouting hellos and waiting for their hugs!

My grandpa always wore wing tipped shoes.  He always wore dress slacks with a polo shirt tucked in and a baseball cap - the kind with the netting in the back. And he always had peanut M&M's!  Sometimes he would share with us and we loved that!  He always made us feel special.  I loved sitting next to him on the couch and just listening to his voice.  He always called my Potsie.  I'm not sure why but he did.  I loved that too.  No one calls me Potsie anymore.  Sometimes it makes me sad because I know that a part of my life is gone now.

My grandpa liked to golf and he was good at it.  He liked football too and he was also good at that.  He was also a good baseball player.  Sometimes he would come out in the yard and play with us or watch us do "cool" tricks.  He always made us feel special and important.  After my 8th grade year we moved to Tennessee.  I was so excited!  That summer I got to go spend a few days and nights at my grandparents house.  I loved being the only one there and getting all the attention.

My kids were able to meet my grandpa before he passed away.  Not all of them remember him but I have pictures of them with him.  They are very special to me and I am so glad that I have them.  I remember talking to him on the phone one day and having him tell me how proud he was of me.  He told me what I good person I had become and what a wonderful family I had.  He told me my kids were beautiful and that we were doing a good job.  That meant so much to me.

So today, on his birthday, I am celebrating him by eating a handful of peanut M&M's and just remembering... Remembering his smile, his voice, his laugh, his smell, his wing tipped shoes and his baseball caps.  Happy Birthday Grandpa!  I love you!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

To: Mrs. Christiansen

I have had the wonderful opportunity to do a lot of subbing this year at my kids' elementary school.  Being a sub, you do have some kids that will test you, try to get away with things and push limits.  You also have kids that you can count on every time to be good and do what they are supposed to do. They know me on all different levels.  I coach some of them, some of them hang out at my house with my kids and I have subbed for all of them.  I love to tease them and give them a hard time and I always try to talk to them when I see them and let them know that I care about them.  This morning I was subbing and I saw one of the third graders with her bag of valentines that she was going to hand out to her class.  I said, "Oh! How nice!  You brought me some valentines!"  Well, guess what?!  She really had!  She pulled out a treat from her bag and it said "To: Mrs. Christiansen, From: Bailey".  I was totally surprised!  Even though I am just a sub, she had thought of me and made a valentine for me.  This isn't the first time that one of the kids have thought of me.  One day I was at school and one of the girls asked if she could go to her locker because she had brought me something.  She came back in with an ink pen with her family dairy logo on it.  Simple, yet thoughtful.  Another time at one of the elementary volleyball games, one of the 5th graders brought treats for her team.  After she had handed them out I heard her go to her mom and ask her if she could give me one too because I bring them treats sometimes.  Again, very thoughtful (and delicious!).  They ask me if I will come watch their games and want to know when I will get to be their sub again.  They give me high fives in the hallway and share their stories with me.  Last night at the ballgames I had seven kids (none of them mine) sitting with me and talking to  me!  To be honest, it makes me feel good.  It makes me feel like maybe I am making a difference in some one's life.  I hope that these kids look at me and see some one who really does care.  I hope that by listening to them, joking with them, coaching them, sharing my treats with them and taking time for them, their confidence will be increased.  I also hope that when I have to get on their case a little bit that they will know I do it because I care about them and want what is best for them.  I am very thankful for the opportunity I have to work with all these kids.  They test my patience at times and have to square dance in the library with me during lunch recess when they don't listen in PE, but there are also days that they totally make my day.  Like today, with a simple little valentine!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My 6 Little Valentines

I love doing things for  my kids.  I love surprising them with little treats.  I love to see their faces when they get something unexpected, whether it's time on their electronics, a trip to town, a special treat or a dollar for being extra helpful during the day.  I love making the holidays (and other important days) special for them.  Not just Christmas, but the little holidays in between.  I try to find things we can do that are simple but that can become fun traditions every year.  Each year on the first day of school the Backpack Fairy comes and leaves them something for their first day of school and a treat to eat when they get home.  On St. Patrick's Day the leprechauns come and leave them a treasure hunt to go on.  At Thanksgiving we write in our Thankful book and this last year we started a thankful tree.  A few years ago I decided I wanted to start doing something at Valentine's Day too (we call it love day).  There is nothing I love more in this world than my family.  I always got the kids a little treat but I wanted to make it a little more fun and special.  I found an idea online and changed it up a little to make it the way I wanted it to be.  Starting on the 1st day of February I leave them each a treat of some sort in their Valentine baskets.  Sometimes it is home made, sometimes it isn't.  Sometimes there is a note I leave them too.  Last year was our first year in this house.  We have no mud room so I made a hooks for the kids to hang their coats and backpacks on when they come in.  So I decided this was where I would put their baskets too. I found some at the dollar store that they decorated with a few stickers.  Then we hung them on their hooks. 

Each day I put something in there for them.  Last year I noticed that they started taping up the notes by their hooks so they could see them.  Some of them left their notes up all year.  It made me realize that to them it was more than just a treat.  It really did make them feel special and the handmade notes meant something to them.  This year they are doing the same.  I love that simple things can bring such joy.  Along with that we try to find something we can do each day to show some one that we love them.  Being aware of one another makes a big difference in how we treat each other.  I am so thankful for my family and each of my 6 little valentines (although they really aren't that little anymore I am realizing).  Almost 14 years ago when all this started, I had no idea what was in store for me!  There have been some really rough days and sleepless nights.  There have been tears, fighting, frustrations, and major changes.  Things that a person could never prepare for.  But there have also been joys, triumphs, celebrations, laughter, sharing, accomplishments and so much more.  Motherhood has opened my eyes and my heart in a way I never thought possible.  Yes, Valentine's Day is just another commercialized holiday that the stores use to make money off of us, but I love that there is a day (or month in our case) set aside to celebrate love. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014


After several months of nonstop basketball, the season is coming to a close.  We have about two more weeks and then we will be done.  We had four kids in basketball this year.  Maddi played JH basketball and has really loved the new level of playing.  She is learning new plays and skills and learning how to get out there and be aggressive.  She has an amazing class of girls and I love going and watching them play.  They work hard and love to play.  I hope all of them continue to play throughout high school.  Here are a few pictures of Maddi:

Makenna also played ball this year.  It is her second year.  I was able to help coach again this year.  Makenna has also learned and improved over the season.  She loves getting in and getting the rebounds and she is not afraid to go fight for the ball.  She comes home from most every game with a floor burn of some sort!  Her team is learning to work together and it will be fun to see them play next year when they get to JH and get more gym time!  Here are a few pictures of Makenna:  (I haven't been able to get a lot of her because I am always on the bench and keeping the books.)

Zane played on the 5th grade team this year.  They have 10 boys on their team and he has really enjoyed playing.  Their whole team has improved so much over last year.  This is only their second year to play so they are a year behind a lot of the other teams.  Last season was tough and they lost most of their games.  This year they have been able to come out and win some games so their confidence has really grown.  Here are some pictures of Zane:

(Zane is the one on the floor.  He was fighting for the ball.  He likes to do that.)

Dillon played on the 4th grade team.  They have anywhere from 8 to 10 boys depending on the day.  Dillon loves playing ball and he gets out there and hustles.  He and his friends just go and go and go!  They are fun to watch.  There are some really competitive spirits on that team so things get a little intense at times and they get frustrated with themselves but they are a fun group of boys!  When Zane's class and Dillon's class finally get to play together on the same team in high school, they will have a very athletic group of boys!  And a lot of them!  Here are a few pictures of Dillon's games:

Unfortunately with four kids in basketball I was not able to be at all their games like I would have liked to.  I was able to see all of them play at least 2 games though.  Michael and I had to do a lot of tag teaming and splitting up.  Even then there were a few times that we couldn't get to see everyone.  This weekend we had three different tournaments in three different towns.  Michael took Dillon because he helps the coach during the games.  I went with Maddi because I had not been to one of her tournaments and Makenna had to go with a friend to hers.  I felt bad that she didn't have anyone there but they understand and know that we do our best!  Next year will be the same except we will have five playing ball.  Zeke will be in 3rd grade and that is when they start playing now.  Makenna will be in JH with Maddi so most of their games will be at the same time and I will not be coaching so that will help too.
Anyways, it was a fun season.  I love watching basketball and I love watching the kids play!  They don't always win but they always get out there and give it their best!