Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Time of My Life

In my last post, I wrote about how some days are really hard--requiring every ounce of energy and focus available to keep the right perspective.

Well, one thing I'm learning is that once I get through those hard days, I open up the opportunity to have the time of my life.

Today is one of those days.

We went to the roller skating rink this afternoon (I'll just give a shout out to Cal Skate of Grand Terrace, California here . . . it was phenomenal), and everyone was so happy.

Whenever I was skating alone, my eight-year-old son, Ethan, would come and grab my hand.  At one point, I smiled at my husband and whispered, "He won't always be doing this."

Four-year-old Spencer held my hand for the first few laps around the rink, and then he was fiercely independent for the next two hours--specifically when he was skating near groups of cute girls.

It was just a sweet, happy day with my sons, my sweet daughters, and my boyfriend/husband . . . and we had coupons!

Then tonight, we gathered in the family room after dinner and played all our favorite songs on iTunes.  My husband has a passion for singing in harmony, so he started teaching our three oldest children how to pick out different parts of a song.

We sang for nearly two hours--stopping occasionally to remember a funny story related to one of the songs or to break out some new dance moves.

For our Perry Family theme song, we're rewriting the words to Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours." 

As we were singing that song tonight--all five of us (with Spencer in bed early), my husband and I just looked at each other with a hint of tears in our eyes.

This is what we've always dreamed about.  After years  of hard work, it's finally happening.

The morning was still full of trouble-making (Spencer drank out of the gutter and then colored with dry erase marker all over his door and the living room wall), but in spite of the inevitable chaos, this day turned out to be one of my favorites.

I have a lot of hang-ups about blogging because I am always concerned that my words will be misunderstood or that someone will assume that my family is always hanging around in the family room singing in harmony.  (Once in a blue moon.)

But since I shared a "low" day in my last post, I at least wanted to update it with a "high" post--just to emphasize the fact that every family has both. 

I think I hear some more singing downstairs . . ..

Love,
April

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Note from the Trenches

Today is one of those "in the trenches of motherhood" days. 

We've returned from our 8 am orthodontist appointment, the first of five loads of laundry is churning in the washer, Fisher Price toys are organized into a "Little People" village on our kitchen table, one child has already had a 20-minute break because of too much fighting, and I'm about to launch into a day of cleaning with the kids (today we're going to go step-by-step through bathroom cleaning so it gets done right). 

I took a break to come up to my office for scripture study--to give the Lord the opportunity to remind me of the vision He has for me and my family.

I hold onto this vision with everything I have, but somewhere between the sticky kitchen cabinets, the whining children, and the three dozen emails needing my attention, I start to forget.

I forget that families are a privilege and that motherhood is a privilege.  I forget that everything doesn't have to be perfect and that my best is enough.  And sometimes I forget that the Lord is going to help me with the challenges that make my stomach hurt when I wake up in the morning (yes, I have a few of those).

One thing that helps me remember that God is involved in our everyday lives is the Personal Progress program.  Alia and I are working on it together, and though it's designed for young women, ages 12-18, mothers are encouraged to join their daughters in this incredible opportunity.

The first section we're working on is about Faith, and this morning I read a few scriptures about faith and motherhood in The Book of Mormon (Alma 56:45-48 and 57:21), as well as "The Family: A Proclamation to the World."

Beautiful, beautiful words.

Another way I remember God's messages to me is through my screen saver.  Whenever I read a scripture or a quote that really strikes a chord, I type it into a PowerPoint file, which is then saved as images and used for my screen saver.

That way, a stream of uplifting, inspiring messages are consistently right in front of me. Here are a few:









These words bring me back to center.

Living a deliberate life is hard work.  Caring for a family and contributing to society sometimes seems to require more energy and focus than I've got.

On an "in the trenches" day (like today), I won't necessarily see my progress--besides the five baskets of clean laundry.  But if I can remember that there's something bigger going on here, and that today is just one tiny part of a truly important work, I can make these trenches into safe, beautiful, precious, God-filled days that will serve as solid foundations for the rest of my life and the lives of my children.

All right, I think they need me now.  If you have any other ideas that bring light to an "in the trenches" day, I'd love to hear them.

Much love,

April




Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Valentine's Day Preparations and a Photo Contest

Thanks for all your kind comments on Alia's California Retreat wrap-up.  I'll be writing more about the Retreat soon, but I can't even express what a huge help Alia is to me.  My hands are often full of dishes, laundry, and piles of paperwork, so it's very fortunate that I have an extra set of hands (Grace and Ethan want to start helping too!). 

For today, I have a post at The Power of Moms called, "A Valentine's Tradition Your Family Will Never Forget."


It' about our annual "We Love to Be a Family" Day that we're holding again this Saturday.  Alia's helping to plan this year's event, but I can't say any more about it because my other children read this blog.  (More on that later . . .)

Also, we announced our Photo Contest for the cover of our Power of Moms book today, and we've already received some wonderful entries.  I'm seriously giddy about this.  Every time I check my email, I see new, beautiful photos depicting deliberate motherhood.

If you're thinking about entering, please do!  If your photo isn't picked, there's a great chance we'll still use it on the website.  Click here for details on the contest, okay?

One of my favorite parts of the day was when Alia and Grace created their own entries.  Here's Alia's:


That melts my heart.

It's time for me to go tuck my children in bed, but I just wanted to record three other favorite moments from the day:

(1) Eating carrots, hummus, and a sweet potato in front of our fireplace with Spencer (those are his favorite foods . . . kind of unique, I know), and having him tell me all about the things on his mind (that's a LOT of information).  We read stories, and he gave me a lot of kisses, and I felt so grateful for those sweet moments because usually I'm chasing him up and down the stairs or trying to convince him not to use the backyard as his own private bathroom. 

(2) Helping Ethan get ready for school.  He broke his arm a couple of weeks ago, so he's been in a cast, and he can't really wash his hand very well, tie his own shoes, or make his lunch.  Even though it will be great when his arm is healed, I enjoy having a little extra special time with him.

(3) Sitting around the kitchen table with the X-acto knife, helping my girls to make their cards for Valentine's Day.  (They have been super excited about these, and we've been talking about them all week.)



Much love,
April


 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Our L.A. Retreat . . . Such a Treat!

Hi! This is Alia, April's daughter.  :D  My mom is getting the kids ready for bed and getting ready for a webinar with Saren, so I offered to help update her blog!  She had a wonderful time at The Power of Moms Retreat this weekend. 

Below are LOTS of pictures that she took while she was there, and I will tell you all about them!

My mom didn't take any pictures on Friday during her MOM session, so she'll add one of those later, but it was a great experience, and she really appreciated having Sarah Chapman there to help her!

Friday night, some of the ladies stayed for a really nice dinner that Amy, Susan, and Sarah Chapman prepared . . .


and then they had a delicious dessert.  (See how there's a daisy on that cupcake . . . like on The Power of Moms?) 



After the games, Allyson played some fun songs on the piano, and my mom felt SO happy to be there.



After a great night's sleep on Friday night, everyone came back to this beautiful house for the Saturday sessions.  My mom wanted me to be sure to thank Lisa Palmer for letting The Power of Moms have their retreat at her house.  It was absolutely lovely!



This retreat was really special for my mom because her mother, sisters, and sister-in-law were able to come.  These are their names (from left to right): Laura, Lisa, Linda, my mom (April), Zoe, Melanie, and Susan.


On Saturday morning, Saren and my mom focused on "Taking Care of the Person Inside the Mom."  Allyson (pictured below), provides the "Comfort Food" for all of the moms there by encouraging them to be their very best selves and not to compare themselves to other moms.


This is my mom's friend (and Allyson's sister-in-law) Shauna, who was there with her brand-new baby.  So cute!


During the Retreat, they did an exercise called "Thought Replacement Therapy," where moms shared some of the negative thoughts that pop into their heads during the day. 


Then they crossed out those phrases and replaced them with better ones.  I don't really understand why moms would think these thoughts.  Seriously . . . without moms, the world would stop.

It's neat to see all these moms in one room, wanting to make their lives better.


This is Kristi Eyre, Saren's sister-in-law, who just had a new baby!


This is my Grandma Zoe.  She was so excited to come to the Retreat.



An author named Beth Aldrich spoke at the Retreat, too.  She wrote a book called "Real Moms Love to Eat."  My mom liked how she was so positive and encouraged women to take care of their whole selves.


Before lunch, everyone participated in discussion groups out on the lawn.  They focused on finding more joy in motherhood.


Don't they look happy?


This is the DELICIOUS lunch--with sandwiches, salad, and cookies from the La Canada Panera.






Here's a picture of Saren presenting Family Systems:



And Susan Chapman talking about Love Languages:




My mom is always sad to leave all her new friends.


This is Allyson Reynolds and Laurie Brooks:



It was Christine James' birthday, and in the middle of the Retreat, the doorbell rang, and it was a delivery person with flowers from Christine's husband.  All the moms said, "Awwwwww."


And in the middle of the Retreat, there was a very loud snoring noise.  Everyone looked around to see who was fast asleep . . . and it was this cute dog who had laid down right at the front of the room!


When the Retreat was over, my mom and her new friends took lots and lots of pictures.  Here are a few:


The moms in the photo above were so sweet and kind to my mother.


The mom in the photo above is named Melanie.  Her niece Morgan was one of my best friends when I was two.   And this mom below, named Mary Jenkins, is going to record a podcast with my mom really soon.


These are two of my mom's friends from our neighborhood.


And this is Beth Aldrich with my mom:


Isn't this baby darling?  He belongs to Sarah Chapman, who helped put on the Retreat.


Here's my mom with Laurie Brooks:


And this is my mom with Suzy and Malea:


This is Daisy and my mom:


These are the presenters and the hostess: Susan, Sarah, Allyson, April, Lisa, Amy, and Saren.


After the Retreat, a few mothers stayed for a Train the Trainer session.  They are interested in hosting workshops and Retreats for The Power of Moms.  Isn't that exciting?




Then they took more pictures!






My mom got home the next morning and found that we had made a little "house" for our Zhu Zhu Pets.  Here is a picture of the King & Queen sitting in their room.


Here are the two grown-ups and the two babies enjoying a "dinner" together.


Finally, we made a little "fish-shaped" swimming pool for them.  The only problem was that my little brother (4 yrs old) kept making his little action figure crash into everything. :D


Oh, and here's a picture of many of the women who attended the Retreat.  They forgot to take a group picture before everyone had to leave, but this was a part of them.

 
I hope you enjoyed hearing about the Retreat!  My mom will tell you more when she gets a chance.  Have a great day! 
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