Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Bye Bye Winter

Hilariously enough, it's snowing as I type. For the first time in weeks. A true jest by mother nature because February and March have been wonderfully mild. So mild I was a tad mournful that her big winter storms passed us by. You know, the ones that pounded the eastern states and kept kids home from school? I love shut-down snow storms. And Utah usually gets several. But not this year.

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Yet when I looked out the kitchen window and saw that flash of familiar yellow in Martha's front yard, my heart skipped a beat. 

Crocuses! I whispered. Spring! 

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It happens every year, and still, there is something thrilling about the first sign of spring. Petals opening in pools of light as children race outside, toss jackets, and turn their faces to the sun. 

That first glimpse of color knocks at my ribs, cracks me open. And hope slides in.

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Even the mountain is warming. Slipping off her heavy, winter blanket, filling the streams and lakes. Dripping, sighing, melting.

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So Saturday we were out of doors most of the day. Searching for signs.

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We found most of them in Martha's yard. 

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There was leaping, dancing, and (our apologies Martha), some climbing. As evidenced by Gordon in the background.

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I promise that was the only time he climbed your rock wall. 

I noticed the boys' pants baring skin at the knees. Also a sign. Signaling a year of wear and tear, and a Mom determined to make all denim last until Summer.

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I surveyed the clusters of tulips shooting up from the earth, sat on the bench, and let the warm sun tingle across my back.

The past month has been hard. Tax season is always hard. And in so many ways it's getting easier. But as the kids get older, their wills seem stronger. They push back harder, and some days I feel like I'm regressing as a Mom rather than progressing.

January 23rd I got this text from Doug. A sentinel message on the screen. 

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And since that day he's been working Saturdays and evenings, with Sunday being our one golden day as a family.

May becomes the horizon month for me. A far-off place on the calendar when Doug and I will finally chat before 11PM. When we will set the table for seven instead of six. When we will reconnect, play, love.

I worry that this lifestyle is taking its toll on our children. 

After 8PM my patience thins. I get snippy if I'm not careful. And all the happy presentations of this craft, this dance, or that special story, trail out the window unfulfilled. Because I can't do it all. The hustle after dinner to help kids bathe, finish homework, practice this or that, read out loud, and find clean clothes, often feels insuperable.  

I know in the rush I am missing moments. 

And every night, as I wash dishes in a silent kitchen, I wonder if my kids would feel more loved, more confident, more secure if they had a parent who could stop at their bedside and listen to all their stories, spend more time with them each night. Because by the time I'm tucking the last one in, it's 9:45 PM and I. am. spent. 

I scoop suds onto a pan and look out the dark window, my reflection peering back at me, and I play the day over. How can I move us along faster? How can I do it better?

And the words come to me. "Be calm. Be grateful." I know they are good words. If I can stay calm and stop looking at the clock as I move us towards bedtime, they will be okay; they will know I love them. If I can see this mess of a house with all its busy children leaving a wake of learning and living behind them, my heart won't knot into discontent. For this life, gloriously undone, is the life I longed for. 

And that's the magic of gratitude. Suddenly, I see the scene differently. I am okay.

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So, as we say farewell to winter, here are a few photos. And some video. A look at how we weathered the winter.

We built snowmen. 

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We went sledding in Grandma's backyard.

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Gordon tried the stand up descent.

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And every day I sent the boys outside to burn off energy. Snow or shine. 

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Once I found them hauling chunks of ice over to the swing set. It looked like the opening scene from Frozen.

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Can you hear it?

Beautiful! Powerful! Dangerous! Cold!
Ice has a magic, can’t be controlled
Stronger than one, stronger than ten
Stronger than a hundred men! 

They were using the ice chunks as bricks. 

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To make an ice fortress.

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Their creative industry made me smile.

Most of December and January, we had a HUGE sheet of ice on the side of our house. A stretch of slippery snow that made for great ice bricks and a fantastic luge (video at end of post).

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This is what Doug looked like after running in single digit temps. It was 4° this particular morning. I've always loved his long lashes, but these were especially stunning. We thought he looked like Kristoff.

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Another day, in search of open space, we went to the State Capitol and let the kids run around. 

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We raced around the fountains.

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And took in the gorgeous art and architecture inside. Can you see the seagulls on the top of the rotunda? Utah has a miraculous history.

Now, for your entertainment, here's some footage I considered sending to the US Olympic Luge team. We missed our chance in Sochi. But we're hoping for Pyeongchang, 2018.

First, the boys. Who needs a sled?

And second, luge via cardboard box. This was Sami's idea and oh my goodness, it was a blast. Word spread quickly, and soon we had a mob of neighborhood kids vying for a turn. I stood at the bottom to make sure no one hit the honey locust tree. :)

Makes me laugh every time.

Winter, I'm grateful you came to visit. Because I would miss you if you didn't. But I'm ready to welcome Spring. Ready to step outside more, shed some layers, and let the sun loosen my stiff, achey soul.

This weekend I'll post some great Mom resources, as well as info about our new Power of Moms book that will launch April 8th! 

Until then, I'm hoping you've found yellow blooms of your own.


  1. Haha, I had to chuckle -- it seems as if I spent all winter to make my son's Jeans last... And now, that Spring is finally here, I could finally make them last even longer... (http://fraumahlzahnsgrazerlei.blogspot.co.at/2014/03/fruhlingserwachen-oder-schnippschnapp.html). I so love Spring -- if only for this reason, ;-).

    Frank just returned from a two-and-a-half-week trip to China, so I can relate to what you write about patience thinning after 8:00 p.m., or thinking what how I could have handled our days better... but Spring even helps with that, it seems that everybody is much more relaxed these days...

    Btw., remember that a few weeks back I wrote in a comment that I am struggling with the Sacrament... Well, I love the ways things... take care of themselves, great story: I wrote to the Parish in the city we are going to move to in China to ask how they handle the Holy Communion, since my youngest daughter will be old enough and mature enough for it soon, and they answered, they didn't have anybody there who'd be willing to take the responsibility for the preparations -- and if would be willing to be in charge of it, I'd be more than welcome to... So I talked to some people here, so I have to give serious thought to it and figure it all out for myself, ;-).

    As always, the pictures are wonderful, so full of life and joy!

    So long,

    1. Ha! The jeans. You mean cut them off above the knee? I did that last year. Brilliant. We'll be doing it again this year. :) And wow, you had a long stint solo, with Frank in China. Glad you survived. And I agree, Spring does help! I'm thrilled for you, that you'll have the opportunity to be in charge of Holy Communion while you are in China. Will this be an every sunday thing? Please keep me informed. I'd love to know what you do and how you manage it for the Parish there. Always sending love Corinna. xo

    2. Well, just _preparing_ the kids for their First Holy Communion, which is kind of a big thing... Only a priest is allowed to bless the bread, and he (always a man) and his communion helpers (may be women as well) are allowed to hand it out.

      In the Catholic Church, children are most likely to be baptised when they are babies, and then later, at the age of 8 or 9, the First Holy Communion serves to renew their bond with Jesus und God. After that they are allowed to receive the Sacrament every Sunday. Since parents usually decide for their children to receive the Christening and the First Holy Communion, there is the Catholic Confirmation at the age of 13/14, when the kids decide out of their own free will to renew the bond. (My oldest daughter decided against participating in Confirmation, because she said she just wasn't up to it yet -- she is a free spirit and will not just do things because they are expected of her).


  2. Your kids are growing up! So tall...and the boys' haircuts so tame. :) I always wish I could do bedtime differently- that there was enough of me to spread out generously to each child- fully, unhurriedly present. Some nights are better than others... My inner Mary Poppins is gone by 9. And how is it I don't see any spring flowers popping up on our side of the valley?? Must do some exploring!

    1. You have to also give yourself a break and realize that bedtime does not a good mother make. It is so hard when you are doing it by yourself. If you can do one thing better tonight than you did last night you were successful. Those kiddos absolutely know you love them, I can see it oozing from their faces. Someday I really need to meet you because I think you're amazing!

    2. Tricia, I know. The hair. It is tame, for a change. I kinda miss their bouncy, blonde curls. But they said they're glad to not have their hair in their eyes. :) Ah, you say it so well. "to be able to spread yourself out generously to each child - unhurried, present." I have this nag of guilt every night. Because I just can't do that, be that. At least your inner Mary sticks around until 9. Mine seems to vacate premises at 8. It's so nice to hear from you! Those spring flowers have to be around you somewhere! xoxo

      Cheryl - Your words are comforting. Thank you. I thought of them tonight. And I do hope we meet sometime soon! I'm thinking you're on the POMs board, yes? Am I right in that? And will you be at the May retreat?

    3. Actually, just recently I read an article about this very issue -- the author argued something along the lines of good partenthood not being trying to be unhurriedly present for everyone _all_ the time, but recognizing if and when one of the kids needs that presence more than the others or more than usually -- and then acting on it. Personally, I do see something good in not always being able to divide this unhurried presence among everyone equally at the same time -- it teaches the kids, that even though mom or dad can't always fulfill their needs right aways, they are still loved and cared for.

      So long,

    4. I'm not on the board, but am a trainer. I am hoping to be able to swing the May retreat, but am also going to BYU women's conference which is the same week. I may just have to walk down to meet you when I visit Lisa/Mavis sometime :)

  3. We had more snow today in Boston; you can have it!!

  4. I love the way you soak everything in! You are amazing...I am continually in awe at what you do each and every day. I wish I lived next door so we could share work loads. :) xoxo

    1. Oh Deb, me too. And I'm in awe of you. I love you.

  5. Being able to shift your focus and see your priorities visible among the everyday is a talent and a gift, Cath, which you obviously have. I constantly wonder if "my kids would feel more loved, more confident, more secure if they had a parent who could stop at their bedside and listen to all their stories, spend more time with them each night." Because I'm constantly torn between what needs to happen, what ideally will happen, and what skerrick of energy I have left at then end of the evening, I feel I'm too often running at a deficit.

    But then I look at my boys, and the last thing they say when they go to bed - and often once more once they turn off their lights - is "Love you Mum!" It's an exhaustion and a delight and I'll take every ravaging crazy moment of it. And seeing/reading how you parent gives me the boost and encouragement to see the reality of what I'm doing, and not just my fears and worries. Love you dearly!

    1. Kel, you have good, good boys. And you're giving them everything they need. Even when you feel the deficit is wider or greater than usual. I love the way you love them. The way you embrace where they are. And I think of you often, how aware God must be of you, as you manage your home alone. But not alone. Because I think He has a vested interest in mothers like you. A presence that others of us might not experience. I know He fills in for you Kel. I love you to the moon and back.

  6. I did, Cath. I found my yellow blooms. Daffodils living again. New life springing out of the ground. And new life springing within. And hope springing up in my own heart. xo
    I want to go on that luge in a cardboard box next year. And I want Spencer and Gordon with me.


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