Ups and Downs

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It hit me about 10 seconds after I heard the door close behind me, and about three steps from my car. I didn’t have my keys. I was locked out of my apartment. It was about one in the afternoon and …

Source: Ups and Downs

Weekly Nutshell

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Today in Sacrament meeting (the family hour of my church), one of the speakers, a lovely mother who is new to our ward (congregation), shared a quote by C.S. Lewis that really stood out to me. She was talking about adversity and how our trials can challenge us, strengthen us, and lead to personal growth.

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of- throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

Isn’t that lovely? Backing up… this was Marcus’ and my first week back to Arizona after spending most of the summer in Utah. Friends and family keep asking us if the temps are cooling down here. If cooling down means the upper 80’s to lower 90’s than I guess the answer is yes? To those of you who are enjoying temps in the 70’s and upper 60’s, and especially those of you seeing signs of fall, you are so lucky!

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The highlight of our week was three days of impromptu service, which of course pushed off our formal homeschooling in the best of ways. This service involved a lot of elbow grease, child care, and friendship. The only picture I took was a trailer I helped fill with potted plants!

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It was also Marissa’s first week as a college student. She sent me these pictures that she took of the horticulture gardens and the Rexburg temple (which she took at a distance once she realized she was walking the wrong direction!). She loves her courses and has already made friends with her roommates. She even has a calling in her new singles ward, as a family home evening leader. She called and sent me texts several times each day, asking me for advice or to proof-read an essay or just sharing her day with me. I am still enjoying weekly calls and texts from my oldest college kids, sometimes as often as daily or an every-other-day basis. I’m so thankful we are a close family and nothing touches my heart more than to hear my sweet 18-year old baby girl call me, “Mommy”. ♥

And that was our week in a nutshell.

Looking Forward

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Remember the movie, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium? Near the end, Mr. Magorium instructs Molly Mahoney to “turn the page, continue reading… and let the next story begin.”

Whether I look at this part of my life as the next story or just the next chapter, I’m definitely in a major transition and I can relate to Molly’s reluctance to accept the inevitable change.

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Driving Marissa to college, the back (and around her seat) loaded with her stuff, including a giant stuffed penguin.

Just this past weekend, David and Marissa and I drove to BYU-Idaho where we settled Marissa into her apartment, which she shares with five other girls. We unpacked her belongings, placing everything on the shelves, drawers, built-in desk or in the open closet.

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Walking around Idaho Falls. It’s hard to see, but one of our temples is in the background.

We made a few trips to the local Walmart and one trip to Albertson’s to stock her up on basic groceries and other necessities, such as cleaning products and bedding. The multiple shopping sprees happened because there were other college related activities going on in between (picking up her student card, meeting mentors, etc.) so we were on limited time frames, plus we kept discovering things we hadn’t anticipated, such as the desire for bed risers (so she can store stuff under her bed). The stores were bursting with other parents shopping with/for their college kids. We were all on the same mission, buying many of the same items, which were getting picked over fast. Popular items such as pancake mix, Pam spray, individual plates, bowls and mugs, and fingernail clippers were scarce!

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Returning to her apartment after our only shopping trip together.

We attended the parent orientation where tears threatened as I took in the sea of parents and students surrounding us. I was thinking dark thoughts, taking myself back in time when I was 18, fresh out of high school and clueless about what to do next with my life. I didn’t have supportive, loving parents encouraging me along the way. I knew college was a long shot, but I had to get away from home. I had no money, no guidance and honestly, I was burned out from just surviving high school. So I took a job for the state of Colorado, as a roommate to a deaf mom and her eight-year old son. They had been rescued from an abusive family and placed under the care of the state. My job was to help the mom become as independent as possible. Sadly, I knew more sign language than she did. We quickly became friends as I helped her cook and clean and be a responsible mommy. I knew how to parent because I cared for my younger brothers and raised my baby sister. But I digress…

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Driving through Zion’s national park on the way back to Tucson.

I could tell my baby girl was holding back tears of her own when we hugged farewell on Saturday morning, after taking her to breakfast. I cried all the way back to our house in Utah, where we picked up our son, loaded our own things in our car, hugged our oldest daughter farewell, and began our drive back to Tucson. (We said goodbye to our oldest son over Labor Day weekend.)

Just the three of us. I now have three college kids living independent lives. I’m now raising a sort of “only child” for the next five years. And this mama is on a roller coaster ride! Letting go of my kids, watching them spread their wings and soar, is natural and for the best, but it is most heart wrenching thing I’ve ever done as a mother. It brings me joy to see them taking full responsibility for their lives, pursuing their dreams and especially continuing to live our gospel values, but oh how I miss having them around on a daily basis, seeing their smiles and receiving their hugs.

I don’t know what it’s like to have a mother who misses me and yearns to hear from me and be a part of my adult life. What I do know is that I’m going to find joy in this next chapter of my life. I’ll probably continue to have a few weepy moments, and I can tell my son is in a bit of a funk right now, missing his big sister terribly as they are best friends, but we’re going to embrace this new homeschool year together (which we can finally ease into tomorrow now that we’re back in AZ),  and we’re going to look forward to each and every text and phone call from the college kids, and especially to spending Thanksgiving and Christmas altogether as a family.

So, here’s to turning the page.

When I Grow Up

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Just this summer, I was mentioning to a long-time friend how emotional I’ve been preparing for this new chapter in my life, in which three of my four children are now grown and in college, leaving only my baby of thirteen-years, home as a sort of “only child” for the next five years.

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I guess I should’ve been prepared for the questions she then threw at me, as I’ve heard them from well-meaning friends and family before:

“Have you thought about taking some classes? Figuring out what you want to be when you grow up?”

Sigh.

I remember singing this song when I was a little girl… “When I grow up, I want to be a mother, and have a family. One little, two little, three little babies of my own…” Oh how I loved mothering my younger brothers, my baby sister and my dolls! When I was a teenager, I chose to spend Friday nights babysitting of all things.

My friends and family know that I married shortly after graduating high school and immediately began a family of my own with my wonderful husband, who had already put himself through six years of college, and was established in his career (he’s sixteen-years older than me). I have been fortunate to have the means as well as the desire to stay home and raise our four children.

I’ve embraced my roles as wife and mother and I’ve made my family my career. I am a homemaker. I serve in my church, have my own hobbies and love to spend time with my family and friends. I look forward to being a grandmother someday. (I want my grandchildren to call me, “Nonnina” which means “little grandmother” in Italian.)

I know it’s typical for many of my friends and family to “go back to school” at some point, and I honestly admire them for that. However, I have never felt compelled to follow that same path. That is not my dream. I seem to know something they don’t know: I have already furthered my education in other ways. My non-homeschooling friends and family don’t get this, but my travels and living abroad, my homeschooling lifestyle, and just being a wife and mother have taught me so much! For example…

♥ I know the life-cycle of frogs, how volcanoes are formed, and other science related tidbits, from hands-on unit studies and experiments.

♥ I understand Algebra for the first time because I taught it to my son (and teaching reinforces learning).

♥ I can name various cacti of the Sonoran Desert from my nature walks through desert gardens.

♥ I’ve improved my nature photography skills simply by taking photos out in nature.

♥ I can share first-hand knowledge about Peruvian culture, having lived and traveled in Peru for four years.

♥ I can speak and understand Spanish from years of submersion.

♥ I’ve expanded my vocabulary from reading classics aloud to my children.

♥ I’ve learned planning and organizational skills, simply by planning and organizing my home and homeschool.

♥ Etc. etc. etc.

I took a cake decorating class once, with my daughter and enjoyed it because it was special mother-daughter time. So, yes, I have thought about taking a professional photography class for no other reason than my love for photography.

 

But, what do I want to “be when I grow up”?

I’m already that person. 😊

Back to School Success Kits

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I enjoy putting together fun care packages for my young nieces and nephews. Since they are starting their new school year, I mailed them each a back to school success kit. They’re not that clever, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

I had to keep the cost down so I hit the dollar store, Staples, and Walmart, and bought inexpensive items in bulk as much as possible.

Each kit includes:
*A mechanical pencil
*Two crayons
*A smiley face sharpener
*An animal eraser
*A mini notebook
*Cute paper clips
*A bandaid
*Smarties
*Owl Stickers
*Pencil case
*Education quote

I found these cute “tickets” in my teacher box which I had never used, haha, and I wrote a little thought on the back of them and attached one to each item (with a paper clip or
tickytac).

Here’s an example of what I wrote on the tickets:
*Notebook- Where clever ideas, doodles and math problems mesh together.
*Pencil- Clever writing tool.
*Sharpener- Smile at your sharpened skills.
*Eraser- Mistakes don’t stand a chance!
*Crayons- Imagine a world without color.
*Paper clips- On the paper team.
*Bandaid- For life’s little owies.
*Smarties- You’re smarter than you think! (Called, “Rockets” in Canada.)

For my two nieces starting middle school and high school, I also included emergency kits, filled with a few essentials, such as: pocket Kleenex, hair elastics, chapstick, deodorant, chocolate, flossers, and Tic Tacs.

As for us, we will be starting our new homeschool year on August 30th. Right now I’m at our apartment in Arizona preparing our homeschool spaces as a surprise for Marcus when we return from Utah in a few weeks. More on that to come. Thanks for visiting my blog. 😊

Our Inspiration Word & Scripture Theme

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We watched the Olympic opening ceremony and I was touched when the Refugee team, made up of ten refugees walked out. I also didn’t know this was South America’s first time to host the Olympics. We thought this opening ceremony was beautiful and amazing. And, if I’m understanding correctly, Rio de Janeiro’s national anthem is called, “Aquele Abraco”, which translates to “That Embrace”. Embrace, as in, hug or welcome.

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This past homeschool year, we did something we had never done before: we incorporated random weekly scripture verses which we tried to memorize, and I chose a yearly scripture theme as well, which was from our Doctrine and Covenants, section 88, verses 118-119:

And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.

Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.

As a new homeschool year is nearly upon us, I asked Marcus to choose our scripture theme and he selected one of his favorite verses from The Book of Mormon:

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I’ll be explaining the context of this verse in a later post. It’s actually a beautiful and amazing scripture story. ♥ Something new (to us) that I thought we’d try this homeschool year, is to have an inspiration word. It’s something many homeschooling families seem to do, choose a word to inspire their year of learning together. Our word is (you guessed it), Embrace. For us, embrace will mean to adapt, nurture, nourish, affirm, appreciate, cultivate, seize and foster. I chose Embrace as our word because I am entering another chapter of motherhood. I’m thinking of calling it, “I am now only one child away from being an empty-nester and I don’t like it one bit!”, which seems rather lengthy and a bit negative, but that is how I feel. Can you see why I need this word?

Did you watch the opening ceremony? Do you have a word that is inspirational to you at this time of your life?