God is Mindful of Us

There are times when the veil feels thin. Times when I'm sure those I love from the other side are with me. Sometimes I know who they are. A Grandma, a Grandpa. Sometimes it's just a feeling of love.

I woke with that feeling drenching me.

Usually there is a reason. Something hard. A sadness I'm dealing with, or a loneliness, but I couldn't pin-point a greater need than usual. I just knew that my Grandpa was near. He often pulled me into his lap and sang to me as a child. I recalled stories of him doing the same thing to my fully grown aunts when they were sad or needed comfort.

My son crawled into my lap. He snuggled up to me and stayed there a long time. We read together. I told him about Grandpa and sang to him. I've been waiting to pull out the Christmas decorations until tomorrow. Saturday seemed like a day as good as any to do it. But as I sat with my son, I found myself wanting to do it now.

I turned on Christmas music. We hauled the Christmas boxes upstairs and popped the plastic tubs open. My little boy examined everything. He undid boxes, skipped around the house, and plugged in the pre-lit Christmas tree before I got it up. Ornaments sprawled on the floor around him, he announced, "This will be the best Christmas ever."

Christmas hasn't hit me until today, but the music flooding the house, the decorations from my childhood going up, my little boy hanging all the ornaments in a clump a few inches higher than last year, and suddenly Christmas was right again. That sweet arms-wrapped-around-you-lay-under-the-Christmas-tree-and-look-up kind of moment when it has nothing to do with stores or buying things and everything to do with God and a tiny baby He sent to the earth.

I think Grandpa stuck around for the tree going up.

A couple hours ago, something happened, and I realized why he did. I needed him today. More than that, I needed to know that God is mindful of me. Before the storm, my Father in Heaven's arms were already around me, and I felt a protecting wall of peace, love for my Savior, and closeness to the people who love me.

God is mindful of us all. I hope your December is full of angels, seen and unseen. I hope you find that still, quiet peace that is Christmas. May you always have joy and awe and amazement when you consider a loving Father who sent His son. Even with all power, all might, majesty, and glory, He still looks on the one and blesses individually.

Women I Admire: My Sister-In-Law

I get frazzled sometimes. No surprise, I know.  People get frazzled. It comes with mom territory, among other things, so I always assumed that I understood the Mom Frazzled State. Oh, totally. Kids, cleaning, husbands, I get that.

Little did I know.

You are all laughing at me, I'm sure. I have one child. A boy. He's my only one and has been for five years. We've got our quiet little routine and our set pace. And sometimes I thought I got frazzled.

I've been living in a state of denial.
Before she left, my sister-in-law (We will call her AD in this post) mentioned, "You're going to get a real glimpse of my life."

She said that because she was leaving her three children with me for two days. Let me clarify. Two DAYS. My mom was taking them when she got home from work and putting them to bed.

I approched the adventure with a bit of nervousness. Two kindergarteners, one in the morning session of school, and one in the afternoon, a four-year-girl with dance and preschool, and the one-year-old baby you met in this post. I knew it would be busy. I knew I was going to rely heavily on the carpools that had been arranged. I knew I would have to be on my best behavior.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Here's a glimpse into AD's life, at least when it gets stirred up by her well-intentioned, but clueless sister-in-law, me.

Oh, yeah. Babies get more on the floor than in their mouths. Sure, you can have a drink. Wait, wasn't the four-year-old eating a second ago? I miss-placed the boys again. I think I need to cut all these french toast sticks up. Come sit back down. Boys, you can play after you eat.  I think the baby wants more to eat. I almost burned the pancake. Can you get back in your chair? Oh, drinks . . .

The Ten Minutes After Breakfast:
Don't eat off the floor. Maybe I should sweep. You'll have to get dressed. Dancing around in your underwear in the living room isn't getting dressed. The gel for your hair is blue. Should I have got your hair wet first? Does your hair look a little blue now? Wow, I should never attempt pigtails again. Ponytail it is. The carpool got here earlier than I expected. I just answered the door in my pajamas and I'm pretty sure I haven't combed my own hair yet this morning. But look how cute the four-year-old's ponytail is. Why is that bed wet? Did some one wet their pants? Oh. The baby. I forgot to change her diaper.

In the hour or so after I got the beding stripped and started the laundry:
Let's all clean together! Make beds, brush teeth . . . oops I forgot to brush his teeth before kindergarten. You can help while I vacuum!
Or you can run from the vacuum screaming . . .

In the hour between morning kindergarten and afternoon kindergarten:
Please don't make any more jokes about bodily functions. Yes, all those grapes I gave you to eat do look rather wrinkled. Don't eat them. I better sweep again. Sure, you can play Legos. I'll just do laundry. Did someone just knock? What time is it? Oh. Kindergarten. Sorry. I can't find his shoes and backpack.

The Afternoon:
What time was dance? Yes, I love your spins. And your leaps. The baby has the dance shoes. Should I be worried the carpool hasn't shown up yet? I don't have the lady who's driving's number. We're related. I should have her number. Wait, there she is. I just let the four-year-old wander outside without a coat on. The baby is sleeping. I could write! Or I could stare mindlessly at Facebook and look at Christmas ads . . .Wow it's time to pick up my son. 

Three car seats are really tight in the back of a car. Yes, you can all unload and follow me up to the kindergarten. Please don't run in the road. My arms are burning. I feel like I've been working out, but I'm pretty sure its just this baby I've been holding on my hip. But she's so darn cute. Just look at that grin. Please stop talking about farts. Please stop making farting sounds. Yes, you can play in the snow. I'll look through the old snow clothes and see what I can find. There is a wild bird in the laundry room. A real-live-fly-around-the room-watch-itself-in-the-mirror bird that is in the laundry room. HOW did that happen? Welcome back from dance. That ponytail looked a lot more secure than it was. Yes, you can play in the snow, too. I did mean to put two pairs of socks on one foot. It will be warmer that way. 

Listen for a second, JoLyn. This little girl is telling you about dance. Look at that smile. Keep that moment. It's worth remembering. 

Have fun in the snow. Holy cow. This room is a mess. I'm pretty sure I still have carpet. It was blue this morning. You back inside already? Yes, you can have hot chocolate. I do have colored marshmallows. Here you go. The phone is ringing. No, you don't have to eat the colored marshmallows you piled in your cup. Here. Scoop them out on this plate. Didn't I just clean this room? I forgot to call Dad about the bird in the laundry room. Maybe I better put dinner in. Here come the boys. Yes, I'll make you hot chocolate, too. No you can't have more cookies I need them for Relief Society tonight. Okay, maybe one. Wow, he eats cookies like my brother. Ha. Yes, I am making you hot chocolate. I forgot to turn the microwave on. When did the baby get a hold of a cup of hot chocolate? Where is the carpet cleaner? No one step right here. Why is my hip wet? Baby. Diapers. JOLYN! Change the baby. She's escaped. Oh, I totally missed that enormous puddle of hot chocolate on the kitchen floor. Maybe I should remake the beds. The baby is wandering around in a diaper. I always wondered why that happened. There is hot chocolate on the baby's blanket. 

Hello again washing machine.

The half-hour before my mom gets home:
I probably should have taken that out of the oven a while ago. The baby is crying. The kids are making money, magazines, weaponry and food out of paper. The baby is sitting on the pile of paper. Don't take the calender off the fridge. Don't eat the magnets. Yes, I know the baby is in your stuff. I'm coming. When is my mom going to get home? I'll get her, don't panic. Maybe we should pick up this stuff. I know, I'll get her. Lets clean up so we can eat. Do you really need to keep all this paper? Don't panic, I'll get her out. I'm cleaning up. Do you want this? I'll get her. Can you pick up the toys you got out? Do you want this too?

Anything you want you'd better put away, because I'm throwing it away, now! 

Hello children. Yes. I'm threatening to throw away your creations. Thank you for being so willing to clean up. Yes, you've done a great job. I'm going to get the food on the table.

Wow, that's really dried out. Hopefully they won't notice.

Mom. Hello, Mom.

I've never been quite so excited to get to Relief Society. 

Ah. I won't go into the next day. You all get the point. 

So that was when I realized that I didn't know the meaning of Mom Frazzled. That was when my admiration for AD rose substantially. She's been laughing at me all these years thinking to herself "You have no idea, Jo, no idea at all."

No, I didn't. The last two days have been the most crazy, chaotic, flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind-of days I've had in long time. They were also fun. Something about that constant state of being needed is really rewarding. I've taken moments with each of them and recorded them in my mind for keeps. Times when they laughed with their entire bodies. Times when they sought me out for conversations. Times when the baby grinned, and snuggled up to me. Times when the world was me, four kids, and a whole lot of crazy and fun. 

I'm a little shell shocked still. I keep looking over my shoulder thinking the baby is into something, and I can't tell you how many times I glanced at the clock while I wrote this, thinking I needed to be somewhere, or I'd forgot something, but I wouldn't trade a minute for anything. You gotta love the brilliance of childhood enthusiasm and energy.

So thanks AD. For letting me have your kids for two days. For putting up with me thinking I understood Mom Frazzled for all these years. For being the kind of mom that you are. Your babies are beautiful.

My Life is a Calvin and Hobbs Cartoon

Meet Lobster, an unassuming stuffed animal with a strange life.

The other day I poked my head in my son's room to find him and Lobster playing Go Fish together.

My son was loosing.

This morning my son crawled under the kitchen table and began calling, "Mommy! Mommy!"

"What?" I asked.

"It wasn't me, it was Lobster."

Oh. Silly me. Of course it was.

"Mom, Lobster needs a hug."

"Mom, Lobster pinched me."

"Mom, Lobster won't go to sleep."

"Lobster is being mean."

"Lobster is sad."

"Lobster missed me while I was at Kindergarten."

The creature wanted to be a pumpkin for Halloween. He sleeps with my son. He gets the best seat for TV shows. There are strict rules about him going inside places with us, but he's patient about waiting in the car. 

What did I say? Calvin and Hobbs, right?

It hasn't always been Lobster. A few years ago, it was an actual stuffed tiger almost as big as him. My son would be sitting there holding the thing when WHAM! They'd both be rolling on the floor as if they were having an all out battle.

Maybe its something to do with being an only child. As long as he doesn't start breaking things while my son is at school, I guess I can live with it.