Monday, February 17, 2014


Warning: the first part of this post is about how much I hate Valentine's parties, so if you're not interested in hearing that, simply skip to paragraph 10:)

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate parties?

Oh right, I think I may have said something about that little fact in the post just before the last one when I was talking about Nate's birthday. Well, it just so happens that I not only dread birthday parties, but I also deplore school holiday parties. I know. I know. I sound like a total lame-o, but I simply can't help it. Let me tell you why.

Think. Think. Think. Ok, I've got nothing good. But let me tell you about what happened this year for Valentine's Day, and maybe then you will understand just a little.

Thursday I had a Valentine's Party for my preschool class. It's not my favorite thing to do as I am no party girl, but of course I do it for my darling preschoolers because I know they love it and I love them. A mom came to host the little party, and she was fabulous, but I must admit when her idea was to paint all of their feet red for the craft, I realized it might be a long party:).

Ok, I must admit these turned out pretty cute. Thankfully, some of the kids insisted on painting their hands, rather than their feet. Are these kids the cutest or what?
The next day I found myself at the elementary school for two hours doing activities for Regyn's and Nate's classes. Now, for many moms, this would be super fun. Many moms are very good at coming up with fabulous ideas for activities and crafts for such parties, but this mom happens to not be good at that kind of thing at all, and even though I spent hours on Google and Pinterest trying to figure out what in the world to do for a craft that 12-year-olds wouldn't find absolutely juvenile and ridiculous, I still had nothing great by party time on Friday.

By this time, however, I was tired from a long week and frustrated that I had spent so much time (not to mention money for the supplies and treats--and let's not forget the Valentine's all of my children insisted they needed) on activities and crafts for these darn school parties. Still, I put on my happy face and ran up to the school to try to make everything as fun as I could. That's when the kids, one after one, scoffed at my game, then at the treat I offered for winning the game, then at the craft I had them do, and so on and so on. By the time I left the school, I couldn't help thinking, "Why on earth did I spend so much time, effort and money on kids that had no appreciation for it?"

Nate's class. They are cute kids, I just have to say. 

 The worst part about it all was that in doing all of that to fulfill my responsibility to the school, I had no time left over to do anything for the people that really matter in my life--my own children and husband. I realized how absolutely unacceptable the whole scenario was, and although Regyn was as happy as a peach in a pie that I had helped in her class party (and I do love to make that girl happy), I felt pretty sick inside that I had done so little for these people in my home that I love so very much. And I decided right then and there that the school is not going to control my holidays any more (now don't get me wrong--I love our school and I do love holidays--I just don't like the social pressure of doing everything the way everyone expects us to).

I already go rogue when it comes to Halloween, and I think I might do the same thing for Valentine's Day. Doesn't that sound kind of exciting? I mean, can you imagine NOT buying valentines and giving them out? What if you did something completely off-the-wall and you took your kids out of school and had your very own family-date day instead, doing all kinds of simple but wonderful things to show your children and husband how much you really love them? To me, that sounds so much more wonderful than designing boxes (hoping to have the best one in the class--which we don't even do anymore, btw), filling out silly little valentine papers, and exchanging candy notes. I know that's what society tells us we must do for Valentine's Day, but seriously, WHY?

If Valentine's Day is really about love, then by golly, I'm going to start really spending that day with the people I love doing the things we love--and that does not include school parties. Not for me. Now, I realize many of you may read this and think I am one crazy lady because you love school parties and Valentine boxes and cards, and that is fabulous. That's what makes the world so great. I just feel like for too long I have conformed to doing things just because. Next year I want to do things my way.

I did happen to get up early and pull off an amazing Valentine breakfast for my kids, which I was pretty happy about I must say. I was exhausted all day from such a busy, busy week and from getting up early, but it was worth it.

Berkley was very happy about the candy on the breakfast plate.

Kinda a goofy picture of Dan, but I sure love this guy

Ok, so now that I've talked way too long about school parties, let me get to the real meat of what I want to say. I've been thinking a lot about this word LOVE. I always thought it would be the easy part of parenthood. I mean, love comes so naturally and loving children is an especially instinctive and simple thing to do. From the first time I felt life inside of me, I felt love for that life. It was amazing! And then she was born, and I knew I would never be the same. I had never understood love on that level before.

Now here I am, four more children later, and I find myself sometimes wondering if I am loving enough--wondering if I am loving more than I am nagging, reminding, scolding, and so on. In this fast-paced life we have come to live, it is easy to become hyper-focused on getting things done and getting people where they need to be on time. It's about schedules and routines and to-do lists. And sometimes at the end of the day, I lie in bed and wonder if I loved everybody enough. I wonder, Did each one of my children feel love from me today? Did my husband feel love from me today? In the midst of the chaos and the scheduling, did I take time to simply make them feel loved? Because at the end of the day, what else really matters?

Sometimes our children go through difficult stages and our love gets tested a little bit. Actually, I think our love for them doesn't change--it's our "like"for them that may waiver a bit:). Depending on a child's particular attitude, I find I still love him tons, I just don't particularly like him at the moment! Truthfully, it's just his behavior I don't care for, not him personally, but it definitely can become difficult to distinguish the two at times.:) Anyway, I have found my children--all five of them--go through painful growing stages at times and they test their boundaries all over again, and they become belligerent and difficult to manage. It is easy to want to withhold love during these moments out of frustration and hurt and anger. But the truth is, love is what they need most (along with consistency and boundaries and many other things, of course).

I read something recently that said this: "When the going gets tough, love harder" (That is from the Power of Moms book called Peace, Order, Purpose and Joy--awesome book!). I love that thought. Love harder. When your child is consistently naughty, love harder. When your teenager is grumpy all the time and not talking, love harder. When your husband is stressed out and irritable, love harder.

That is what I am going to do--Love harder. Love longer. Love more. 

Because this family of mine deserves all the love I have. They are everything to me. They are the reason I get up every morning and smile (and then take a deep breath:). They make me feel loved on so many different levels. They have taught me what it truly means to LOVE.

Here are my children in the car ride home from Wyoming this past weekend. Not even sure why I snapped the picture, but I turned around and looked at them and just thought of how much I loved them, and then I snapped a picture of the moment.