Monday, May 13, 2013

My Mother: In honor of Mother's Day

My mom with her newest grandchild: Molly 

I have to admit that it was not long ago I thought my mother and I were totally different.  I was probably just hoping that we weren't alike.  It's easy to focus on the negative qualities of a person. I think that in some way, it is a pathetic, subconscious way of boosting our own self esteem when we find qualities in another that are less than desirable which we don't posses ourselves (at least not yet).

My mother looses her temper and yells much more than is acceptable.  She can be rude in public when it's not necessary. She avoids eye contact with certain people (my husband) almost always, showing passive aggressive disrespect.  She either has a horrible memory, or lies about things that are not all that important (like what she bought at the drive through or what time she said the party was supposed to start.)

All that being said, she is and has been an incredible mother.  She gave birth to four of her own children, adopted one little boy with brain damage when I was ten, then adopted two other little boys when I was in college.  She encouraged me to develop my talents from the time I was little, putting me in dance classes, talent shows for singing, and musicals in school as I grew up.  Every day after school, she'd be home having done all our laundry, cleaned up, and waiting for us with a special snack on the table (my favorite was pudding with whipped cream). When I was sick, she would sit at the end of my bed and rub my feet, bring in poached eggs and sprite and tell me how sorry she was that I wasn't feeling well.

 She always made me feel as if I could do anything and be great at it.  Although I was not the smartest or most intelligent in my class, I always felt as if I was because that's how she spoke of me in front of others.  She filled out all the paperwork that ended up getting me a full ride music scholarship to California Baptist College.  In college, she'd bring me baskets of treats even though all my food was taken care of.

 When I started having children of my own, she treated them just like they were her own; showered them with complements and gifts at every holiday. She's been at every one of my children's births, helping in whatever way she thought necessary. When I called her bawling on the phone that I was pregnant with my seventh child (and wasn't thrilled obviously), she consoled me and told me that it was going to be wonderful in the end to have another beautiful, talented child.  

Her home is always "open"....I don't even have to knock when I come over.  She would be thrilled if I just showed up.  She rejoices in my (and my children's) accomplishments with me.  She shaped me into who I am today.  I wouldn't have my singing voice without she and my dad.  I wouldn't have a strong will like I do without having learned it from my mom.  She has never given up, though has had plenty of reasons to do so.   Her marriage has lasted despite legitimate reasons to end it.  She has attended church since we were kids and never gave us the option of not going.  We learned to love Jesus and his teachings.  We learned to forgive and move on.  We learned how important family is.  We learned to live without.  We learned to be frugal.  We learned how to be a mom.  I may not be the best one myself, but I have never done anything else that felt more natural and perfect.  I'm sure that's because of her.  She has gotten her joy from her children, just as I am getting my joy from mine.  So, am I just like my mother?  I hope so.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Most Important Events Since Last Post:

Nate:

--Nathaniel Christian Carter--born-Sept. 2, 2011.  Weighed 8 lb. 3 oz.  My water broke on its own for the first time in any of my pregnancies.  Although I tried to hold him in as long as I could, he still came five days before his due date.  I laughed all the way to the hospital because with each contraction or laugh (any use of my stomach muscles), more water would come out.  It was such a different feeling that it made the experience fun.  (Not that I wasn't in pain because I was, but having a new experience made it bearable for the first couple of hours.)  I did end up getting an epidural which went well.  The delivery was pretty uneventful and "Nate" was as beautiful as all the others.










                                                         (and now here is Nate today)



                                                                             

Pregnancy #7 :

--I'm 37 weeks pregnant with our seventh: Due May 28th.  Girl.  Adel.  (Had to stick with the "stars with 'A' and ends with 'L'.")  I balled my eyes out when I found out I was pregnant.  I had done nearly everything to ensure this wouldn't happen.  I had been on birth control since Nate was born.  We scheduled a vasectomy for Will.  After I got off the pill (because my body was having a hard time with it), I tracked calculated my ovulation for months and did nothing for that entire week I thought we could get pregnant.  Even though, in the back of my mind, I knew we were meant to have another one, I fought it.  I was starting to lose weight, going to the gym, Nate was getting more independent; all was well.

When I couldn't eat anything for an entire day because it made me want to barf looking at food, I decided to take a test; I was sure it would be negative.  When it turned positive within seconds, I called my husband first and kept insisting that something must be wrong.  He, of course, was excited.  The, I called my sister and mother and just wept.  They both assured me that it was wonderful and things were going to be okay.  My sister was three months pregnant herself at the time and was excited that we'd have one close together.  This was the only positive thing I could see for many weeks.

The pregnancy has been one of the easiest thus far I must say.  No problems to speak of except for major swelling when I was working hard on our house for a month a while ago.  I'm also anemic, which is no surprise either since I was with the two previous ones as well.  I crave ice and eat it all the time.  I'm too stubborn and lazy to take vitamins.

Truthfully, I still can't believe I'm going to have a seventh child.  It's un-real.  (and yes, I DO know what causes it).  At the same time, I feel so proud and blessed that I've been able to have so many beautiful, talented, healthy children.  I don't know why I've been blessed with this opportunity when there are so many other women out there who would die to just have one.  I know these kids were supposed to come to us and that we have been given the task of raising them well and getting them back to Heavenly Father.  This is my soul purpose in life and I'm so glad.  There really is nothing I'd rather be doing.  I LOVE these kids.  I'm sure the next one (Adel) will prove to add something I couldn't live without once she's here, just as each of her siblings have done.

The most often asked question:  Are we going to have more?  I honestly have no idea.  I can only take it one day at a time and see where those days lead.  I would love nothing more than to say that I feel done and complete and that's it.  I don't feel that way.  Does that mean that we're destined to have more?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I have learned these last few years that my plans are not God's plans.  His have by far been better even when I could swear that I was being punished.  2011 seriously felt like a punishment to me.  I cried that year more than I care to admit.  I have grown stronger and closer to those that matter most at this time in my life.  A lot of people refer to me as "super woman."  I can assure you that I'm not.  I may seem that way to an outsider of my home, but trust me when I say that these walls have seen and heard all of me and it's not all great....far from it. I do my best like most moms and just hope that one day my kids will love me and want to be with me.

                                                 (Liz and I in March right before "Mollly" came.)
                     (Baby Shower for Liz and I a couple of months ago with my older sister, Meredith)

Homeschooling:

--This year, I started homeschooling Anibel as well as the older three.  This was my first one who has never gone to public school, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  She is reading as well, if not better, than all my other high achievers at her age.  Her favorite books are the Ameilia Bedelia series.  She is doing great in math as well, finishing up the end of Saxon for Grade 1 even though she is technically in Kinder.  I don't push her at all....she just really likes learning and it comes easy to her so far.  She's also taking Gymnastics and Tap; mostly loving her friends that go there rather than the skill (or non-skill) that she gets from it.  The only down side so far to this is the fact that she's growing up fast socially as well.  Being around all her older siblings makes her seem so much older.  She doesn't want to hang out with others her age....she'd rather hang out with her ten and eleven year old sister's friends.  (This does not make Ariel and Abi very happy and the friends aren't too fond of hanging out with a five year old either.)  All in all, though, the pros are definitely out-weighing the cons when it comes to homeshchooling.  Here's my breakdown:

Pros:  -Wake up when we want
          -Go to bed when we want
          -Use funds from school to take classes like: Sewing (Ariel), Acting/Singing/Dance (Abi), Football                                                                       (Daniel), Tap/gymnastics (Anibel)
           - Not have to pack any lunches; kids eat when they're hungry and don't waste food
           -Take a co-op class that helps with Science, History,(taught by a good friend) Art, (taught by another good friend) and cooking (that I teach); and they get to do all this with their best friends!
            -Have time to actually practice and learn the piano....I'm so proud of the three older ones who are getting stinkin good at it.  I can't even help them anymore; they're that good!
           -Not have to deal with stupid project assignments from teachers who know that the parents are going to have to do most of the work.
            -Watching my younger kids interact with their older siblings; Daniel couldn't be a better bigger brother to Cael.  It's every mother's dream to see them become best buds.
           -To know exactly what the kids are learning and help set an appropriate pace; for instance, I made sure they were almost done with their curriculum BEFORE the state testing in May so that they'd be ready.  Now, we get to take it easy till the end of the year, then start slow over the summer to ensure the same results.
         - Be able to go on field trips that are actually FUN!  For example: We've been to Disneyland several times this year (thanks to a generous gift from grandparents)
         -Teach the kids to REALLY work around the house.  I just implemented a Friday, no academic school day; strictly chore day.  They each have very specific assignments to help keep out house running smoothly and in good shape.  It takes them most of the day and it's hard work.  They sometimes....okay.....often complain that we're slave drivers, but each one will leave our house knowing how to seriously manage a home and all that comes with it.
        -We are not rushed to have scripture study in the mornings.  We don't just read the scriptures.  We STUDY them.
        -I can schedule any appointments that are needed whenever.
       -  If someone is sick, for the most part, they really don't miss anything.....it just takes them longer.
       - I have saved a lot on gas.  We hardly ever leave during the day (their night time sports are another story)
       -We don't have "home-work".  All work is homework.  There is never "busy" work.  No wasted time at all.
        -The kids are learning time management.  I don't tell them when to start (except for Ani who I do all her work with).  They are given their assignments well in advance (at least a week....sometimes a month).  They know what to do and can choose to put it off (which would mean no tv, computer, sports, or friends), or they can even choose to work ahead and have a day off.
        -  They have time for friends.  I remember the days when I would have to turn friends away at the from door because my kids just had too much to do; or I hadn't seen them all day and wanted to spend time with them before they ran off to sports.  It's not like that anymore.  I get to see them all the time, so when their friends are ready to play, so are they.
           -Anything they don't understand in their learning can be corrected and dealt with immediately.  In public school, I would spend sometimes hours after school teaching them something they didn't get in school that day.  This gets nipped in the bud immediately at home.
            -They are being forced to deal with people of all ages, not just kids their own age.  This is giving them an incredibly well rounded social experience. (which they may not be grateful for now, but I can see how it's helping them and will help them for their future.)
            - There is no peer pressure to where certain clothes or shoes.  I have saved a lot of money in that regard I'm sure.
           
           Cons:
              -There is no break.  This is double sided.  I don't get a break from them and they don't get a break from me very often.  We see each other's good and bad sides daily, and some days too much of the bad comes out from stress.
             -They don't have a huge network of friends to get invites for birthdays and such.  That may seem shallow, but they have mentioned that.
             - They don't get award assemblies to praise them for the work they do.  Even though I believe this is a false equalizer that public schools use to make kids "feel good" even when they really don't deserve anything special, the kids looked forward to it and they are certainly not getting anything big like that from me.
              -Speaking of "false/undeserved" praise;  I don't get what I used to from teachers telling me how wonderful they think my kids are.  I hated having to take the time to go to these meetings with an impossible baby or toddler, but it sure was nice knowing that others knew how wonderful my kids were and it reflected well on me.  It made me feel accomplished.  I certainly don't get that with homeschooling, selfish as it may be.
             -I'm definitely not able to keep as clean of a house as I could when the kids went to school.  It used to be somewhat possible; now, it's impossible except for Friday's around 5 pm.  (right after the kids have done their major chores).  I'm hesitant to let people in most of the time because of how un-tidy the house becomes on a daily basis.  Either I clean, or I teach.  I can't do both.
              - I have no friends.  My family is my life and I have no time for play dates with the little ones like I used to at the park or wherever.
            - I don't have time (or haven't figured out yet how to make the time) to cook great meals the majority of the week.  By the end of the day, I'm pooped and have prepared nothing; so it's usually something like Costco, McDonald's, KFC, Taco Bell, Del Taco, etc.  My kids are not eating extremely healthy these days.  Breakfast has become our big meal, lunch is more like a snack, and dinner is certainly nothing fancy.
           -Because I don't have to be on a strict schedule, I often don't do as much as I used to when I did have a schedule.  The saying "If you want something done, give it to the busiest person you know" is so true. People think I'm incredibly busy (and I somewhat am), but truthfully, not as busy as I was sometimes when the kids were in school.  I got a lot done during those hours I was at home.
           -I worry that somehow I'm going to screw my kids up.  I worry that I'm not teaching them enough, or not doing it well, or not teaching them what they'll need to know.  That they won't be prepared when/if they want to go to public high school/college.
           -I hate being "that mom."  I know I chose this, and even though I'm glad I did, there's a part of me that's embarrassed to admit that I have become the "freak."  I am a cliche.  I am the mormon mom with seven kids who homeschools.  I don't see myself this way, but I can totally see why and how others see me this way.  Now all I need is a 15 passenger van and we're complete!  (By the way, this may not be far off since we can't all fit in one vehicle now.)  Go ahead and laugh.

Most Recent Pics:

                                                                   (All six of them!)
                                                                     Cael 3
                                                                      All six a year ago
                                                                 Ariel:  11....she now has braces!
                                                                       Anibel: 5
                                                                 Abigail: 10
                                                                 Daniel: 9             Will: 51
                                                                             Nate: 20 months



                                                          (Family Pictures: Nov. 2012)



Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

Babysitting disaster and Andy Williams

One week before Christmas, we received a call from a good friend asking if we'd like to sing in a little back up choir for Andy Williams.  My first reaction, quite honestly, was "I know he's famous, but I have no idea off the top of my head who he is."  After telling my husband and mother, both thought I was nuts for even questioning the opportunity.  (He's most famous for "Moon River.")  I really didn't want to because I knew it would make the rest of the season stressful and not at all what I had been hoping for.  That being weight, we decided it was too great of an offer and we jumped in head first.  

After the first day of rehearsal with the real back-up singers, we talked and decided we were going to call and cancel.  It was just going to be too much time away from our family with no pay and lots of stress.  (We had Sunday and Monday to learn five songs....we were to perform Tuesday and Wednesday night.)  Just before making the call, Will's mother called him to let him know that they had bought tickets to see the show!  Well, there went our plans to drop out.  Now, we HAD to do it. 

Because I had been singing constantly for the big church Christmas concert the previous week, and then had to add to it, my voice started to go.  By Tuesday, I opted to not speak the entire day and use all the remedies I knew of.  I virtually had no understandable speaking voice, but was able to maintain a decent singing voice amazingly.  

We were very nervous, but super excited the first night.  We had practiced as much as possible and sounded dang good I must say.  We never did a full rehearsal on stage which left us a little panicked.  The staff were wonderful to us.  We had our own "green" room just like in the movies.  It had food and drinks stocked for our convenience, the iconic bulb mirror, and comfy couches with a big screen to see the show live as we waited.  Each night we were given vouchers for dinner and ate like kings.  (I know you're not supposed to stuff yourself before you sing, but I wanted to enjoy everything I could, so I was OVER stuffed both nights!)  It was a memory we'll never forget.  We got pictures with Andy after, but I have yet to receive them.




This is Debbie who had to transcribe all the music we sang.  She is not only beautiful but amazingly talented.


 This one is shows where my in-laws were sittin (in the mezzanine).  The whole theater was packed....and was quite large I might add, too.  =)




 When we got home the second night, our baby-sitter, Jena, who is the best in the world I must say, let us in on her night:  Ariel had a hole in her pillow and as she squeezed it to plop into bed, feathers went EVERYWHERE!  She took some pictures so we could see what her night was like.  We felt so bad for her!  This picture is AFTER she cleaned most of it!  Poor Jena, but I must say that the kids sure thought it was fun.

So, long story short is that our Christmas season was once again stressful and left a lot to be desired, but also created long lasting memories for Will and myself.  Next year, it's no commitments and total soaking up of everything around us.......or so that's what we think.