Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mothering 101--tips from an expert

I was raised by wise women. Our society doesn't particularly value wisdom, (youth and ignorance are prized, and wisdom and experience are overlooked and dismissed) but I was blessed to have true wisdom in my life.

My dear aunt once told me the best parenting advice she had came from 2 sources: My mother (her older sister, who had 11 well loved children) and my Grammy (their mom who had 10 well loved children). She said the emotionally wise things came from Grammy, and the rationally wise things came from mom (who took parenting classes, and read voraciously--choosing what she felt was the best and truest, most useful wisdom and tossing the rest).

Here is some of my Grammy's advice--the things that she left to be shared at her funeral.


*Parenting and grand-parenting are their own reward.

*Seek guidance from prayer.

*When your child, grandchild, or anyone comes to you with serious worries and feelings of failure: LISTEN – LISTEN – LISTEN! Avoid giving advice like the plague.

*Sit near them, say, “This is hard, but you can do hard things.”

*They may feel worthless – you know they are not. They may feel not lovable – you know they are. They may feel they lack courage – you know they’re brave.

*Remember the healing power of touch. Draw near, wipe away tears, pat their hand, rub their back, and give a hug. Let them feel the strength and faith that Heavenly Father will always bless and guide through prayer. Let them know you have faith in them and their prayers. Let them know that the Savior is watching over them by day and by night and loves them always no matter what. But most of all pray with them and for them.

A poem my grammy had saved (which describes her perfectly)

She had a way with children,
She molded them like clay.
She found the greatness in them, and
She nurtured it each day.

Our trip to Idaho for Grammy's funeral was physically rather uncomfortable--I have never been good at sleeping in the car. However, the love and joy that was gathered together to celebrate the life of a remarkable woman made it worthwhile--and, as an added bonus, I love getting to spend time with my family, and I loved being with my dad & 2 sisters. LOTS of stories were shared!

When you drive across the country in January, you know you will be crossing your fingers all the way for good weather. We were very blessed--although we had 30 mile an hour winds all the way across Kansas and most of Missouri, and the blowing snow was NOT pleasant to drive in, the wind did keep it from sticking to the road. That means that although visibility was reduced, the roads were bare and dry.

One fun note--at a late night potty stop (in Colorado, I think!)the restroom door was postitioned in such a way that there was a pretty good sized snowdrift (a foot across, 18 inches long & 3 inches deep) that had blown into the ladies room, under the door. While we were waiting, we made a tiny little snowman, with emery board arms and dog treat face, and left him sitting in the corner by the door (where the wind would keep him cold). It was fabulously funny. I guess you had to be there! Just more proof that life is about the journey, not just the destination!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I have read more non-fiction in the last few months than in the whole rest of my life combined (probably). Some was dull, some had a few sparkling bits in the dross, and a few have just been excellent. Three I recommend (and boy, do they cover the spectrum!):

"Garlic & Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise" by Ruth Reichl. This was such a fun read--as good as well written fiction, lots of plot twists-BUT--Caution: It will make you HUNGRY! It is about Ruth becoming the food critic at the New York Times, and the lengths she would go to to provide accurate reports. Very fun!

"The Forger's Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century" by Edward Dolnick. It is the story of a mediocre artist who managed to fool the world and the psychology he used to do it.

But one of the best books I have read lately is very short, but wonderfully sweet--
"The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers: Spiritual Insights from the World's Most Beloved Neighbor" by Amy Hollingsworth. It might not be to everyone's taste, but it had some wonderful treasures for my heart, for where I am at right now, and for how to become who I want to be.

I have had big plans all week about the awesome blogs I want to post--but BigGirl (poor, poor thing!) had a stomach bug and threw up every half hour, all night long, and we are both exhausted--and I am going back to bed!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

New Years Resolutions

I don't make 'em. I do not think it is necessary to have a "date" to change your life, and for me it actually works backwards. Positive changes can happen anytime, and some of my most successful ones have started on a Wednesday in the middle of a random month (or some such!). I am a firm believer that ANYONE can change, and that the New Year may help a few people (but not most!) and--that change is not easy.

That said, I am still trying to improve my life. I have been following FlyLady for about 9 years now, and many of the most positive changes in my life have come from her--but I am still not a great housekeeper*!

AND, the one goal I did make (but it wasn't a New Year's Resolution--it was just a goal for the year)--I AM DOING!

Tahh Dahh!


Yes, I know it isn't the world's most beautiful knitting, and I am having a bit of a hard time with patience! (Yes, I KNOW--I always do!) I know that I have to practice long enough to establish A) Rhythm, and B) Muscle Memory, but I STILL want to be great, instantly!

I keep reminding myself that everyone starts somewhere, and this is my start!

*Interestingly, on this topic, I was having a FABULOUS, late night girls talk** with one of my dearest friends, when this subject came up. She said something along the lines of "we all know you view it as a balance, with sanity and mental health on one end, and a perfectly clean house on the other--and you have to give up one to have the other!" I don't recall ever putting it into exactly that terminology before (although, I certainly could have, and have just forgotten it!), I do think it is fairly true.

I am searching for a balance--when my house gets too bad, it does "repress me+", but I know too many people, (and I have gotten caught in the cycle) that cannot do any living because their house isn't clean enough. They cannot stop to see the sunset, or build a snowman with their kids, or go on a walk--because they have 3 dishes in the sink. And, since there is ALWAYS more work, they never get to the living part.

Sigh, finding the balance is the hard part!

**Sorry, dear heart, I hope you have finally caught up on your sleep!

+Gratuitious Monty Python Quote: "Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system! HELP! HELP! I'm bein' repressed! I'm bein' repressed!"

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I'm Back!

Back from road-tripping, back from a LONG walk down memory lane! According to MapQuest, our trip was 31 hours, 14 minutes each way. The worst part about that, of course, was 31 straight hours in the car (we drove straight through both ways). The best part was the company in the car with me. Two of my sisters and my dad. Our family has always been good travelers. We loved going on trips when we were little, and, guess what, we still do!

I do wish that we had had the luxury of stopping to see a few of the more intriguing sites, but we were under a tight time deadline, so that wasn't possible.

It really made me grateful for the luxury of fast, easy transport. I remember hearing stories of my grandpa and his brothers driving out from their dry farms in Idaho to Detroit to pick up 3 or 4 brand new grain trucks. The drive was pretty epic--in the days before the interstate system, the roads were both haphazardly marked and mainly gravel. Their maximum speed was 40, which was exactly half of our average speed (I do love those high interstate speed limits!). No such thing as air conditioning (their trip was in the summer). It was a trip of several weeks and very few of the comforts I take for granted.

I really, REALLY love traveling in a car with a good heater. Dad's new car has an onboard thermometer--which allowed us to watch the temperature fall to -30 degrees. Nippy! When we got to Idaho, it was very cold, but perfectly clear. The sky was a perfect blue, the mountains unbelievably gorgeous. I do miss living in "big sky country". The sky here is usually boring, because of all the humidity. Ah, well.

I will be posting more about the funeral (which was a lovely tribute to a remarkable lady) as well as pictures from the trip, soon--I promise!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Quick Update

I am preparing to drive out to Idaho for my Grammy's funeral, so there will not be much in the way of posting this week.

However, in brief updates, I just wanted to mention how fab-fab-fabbity FAB Christmas was. Not so much because of "stuff" (although, in a nice twist on the tradition of "I give really thoughtful gifts, but don't actually get much given TO me"--with the year that I asked for sparkly earrings and got a FRYING PAN as a record low, I got some awesomely thoughtful gifts!!)but because of the people and the traditions. It was peace-full, and joyous, and I managed not to get wierd and crazy over anything.

New Year's Eve was spent in a fun (to satisfy me) and quiet (to satisfy My Favorite Gentleman, who maintains a party pooper attitude--in the words of our then-three-year-old daughter "my daddy poops parties!")--we stayed home with our good family friends and played "Michigan Bankroll"--a game with wild and ever changing rules!

And the highlight of my new year--Rock Day (One of the lesser holidays!). Rock Day is celebrated by spinners and weavers all over the world. It is "the day after Twelfthday, when, the Christmas holidays being over, women returned to their rock or distaff." (Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894)
What that means: The day after the religious observance of Christmas was over, and women returned to their regular work. However, it turned into a party, and it still is! I went and worked on projects with the awesome people of the Spinners & Weavers Guild--and a cooler group of people you will NEVER find! Yummy potluck, interesting conversation, neat projects, just AWESOME!

When I get back I will post some pix of some of the projects I have finally finished--I promise!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Goodbye, Cookie Grandma

It seems very strange to think of the world without my Grammy in it. I have had plenty of losses in my life--people I love, people who have been tremendously important in my life, but thinking of the world without Grandma Nelson is more like trying to think of the world without oceans, or without the color red. Much too big to comprehend.

Joyce Nelson Furniss, Oct 18th 1920--Dec 31st 2009.
Such a lot of lives are contained within that sentence. Joyce was the exact middle child--three older brothers, three younger brothers. She became the mother of 10 children, 9 of whom lived to maturity. All of them married nice people, and had some lovely children--a total of 45. FORTY-FIVE grandchildren.

Yes, she knew all their names. And middle names. And birthdays, and favorite stuff, and secrets, and how to kiss their owies better, and much, much more!

I am one of the older grandchildren. Actually, I am more of the "second wave". I wasn't old enough to be one of the "big cousins" for a very long time! My oldest cousin, Mike, is six months older than my youngest Aunt, Shanan (this happens surprisingly often in big families). They are about 8 years older than I am, which is a pretty hefty lead in the "being a big kid" stakes--although nothing like the lead I have on the youngest cousin Issac, who was born when I was 27.

The big cousins were remarkably slow on the "settling down and getting married" front, which means that my oldest child (BigGirl) is one of the oldest of the great-grandkids. In fact, they were so slow, that the last of them got married (for the first time) in 2009--and had his 40th birthday on his honeymoon.

However, Grammy FINALLY got some great-grandchildren. And, like compound interest, a little trickle at the beginning has turned into quite the tidal wave. 65 great grandchildren (more or less, I could have missed a couple!) With at least 3 more on the way, due this year.

Grammy spent her last week the way she preferred to spend all of her time--surrounded by family and lots of babies and toddlers. I am sure she sang them the "Grey Kitty Song" and I am jealous of that. Maybe they even got "Keemo-Keimo-Daimey-Wah"--lucky little skunks!

Grammy was one of the most truly selfless people in the world. We all learned great lessons about true love and service from her example. Even when we were terrible-two-year-olds or truly aweful fourteen year olds, we knew we were loved, completely and utterly by our Grammy--no conditions, no questions asked.

A great example of how to be a strong, loving, competent woman!