Saturday, May 31, 2008

Happy Belated Mother's Day

A sweet friend of mine sent me this story and I loved it enough to want to share it for Mother's Day, but unfortunately I never got around to it until now. Forgive me. Happy Belated Mother's Day and happy building!

I'm Invisible

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?' Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. The invisible Mom.Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30 , please.'I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that had great dreams and plans - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England . Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a hair clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe . I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: 'To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

- No one can say who built the great cathedrals
- we have no record of their names.
- These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.
- They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.

The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.'And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction . But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime , because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it there.'As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Determination

McCall just before the beginning of her backstroke race.
Parker during his backstroke race.
Well slowly but surely we are getting back into our groove after our amazing family vacation. We had a total blast and it exceeded every expectation we had. We made lots of fun memories together as a family. We landed in Sacramento late on the evening of May 10th and have been running ever since.
A few days after our return we were lucky enough to have our dear friends the Reimschiissels come and visit us for a very short 5 days. We tried to live it up as much as we could while they were here, but the end of their visit still came much too soon. Amy brought her two darling girls with her and Gracie and Bayden had a great time playing with them. We had so much fun staying up late chatting, eating all of our favorite foods and getting cute haircuts from Aubrey along with a lot of great hair products.
We have also been consumed with swimming since our return. The kids recently had there swimming Time Trial meet. This is the meet where they don't compete against another team, but set their benchmark times for the season. Our kids have been in the pool since the first week of March practicing, so we were anxious to see how much Parker and McCall's times had improved over last years times.
At the suggestion of Carson's Occupational Therapist, we also enrolled him in swim team this year to try and help improve his low muscle tone. I have to admit it was quite sketchy the first 6 weeks of practice, since he couldn't swim unassisted for even a few seconds. This would pose a problem for the meets where he would have to make it a full length of the pool without touching the lane line to avoid disqualification and being kicked off the team. I spoke to his coaches and asked what they thought of the situation and they just kept telling me he is so determined and tries so hard let's just see how he does.

Carson on the blocks.

I signed him up for the meet and decided we would let the cards fall where they may. He was in one of the first events of the day. He was so darling standing up on the blocks waiting for the buzzer to signal the start of the race. He leaped into the pool and started swimming as hard as he could. Unfortunately, he was use to swimming with fins during practice and he had a very HARD time getting his little legs to go. He was really struggling, working so hard and swallowing a ton of water. He got about 1/4 of the way and he totally started crying, but he wouldn't grab onto the lane line. He kind of started treading water, bobbing his head up and down while he tried to compose himself. By this point in the race all of the other swimmers have finished the race and the once cheering crowd is now silent. I could see the stroke and turn judges looking at each other wondering if someone was going to have to jump in and save the little boy in lane 4. I just started crying, cheering and praying for him all at the same time.

This is how Carson began and stayed throughout most of his race...underwater.

Mark was a timer, so he headed over to Carson's lane at the other end and I could hear him cheering him on in between my own cheers. His coach started walking along the side yelling as loud as she could, encouraging him to go on. McCall and Parker left the ready bench and joined Mark at the end of the lane to cheer him on. Before we knew it the whole pool was cheering his name as we all willed him to make it to the end without drowning. I started looking for the Bonneville Television cameras because I felt like I was in one of those LDS commercials. It honestly was the sweetest thing I've ever seen at a sporting event. When he finally made it to the finish line at 3 minutes 08 seconds the announcer asked the audience to give him one big final cheer. When he touched the wall and came out of the water and still heard the crowd cheering he looked up at me and said, "I think I won Mom!" I had to answer him, "Yes, you sure did"


He was so tired and required lots of rest before his second event...the backstroke. It was even slower than his Freestyle, but again I couldn't have been prouder. He was such a great example of hard work, perseverance and determination to me that day. My only wish is that all of our family could have been there to see it. It really was a magical moment even though he came in dead last. Later that day I asked him if he had fun and he said, "It was great Mom, can we do that every Saturday." So I guess he is hooked.


Both McCall and Parker also had a great meet. They were able to improve upon all of their times and McCall jumped up and down for a good 10 minutes on Monday when she learned she earned a 1st place in Backstroke. Parker got 2nd in his Backstroke and freestyle. They both learned that the 4 by 1 Medley is very hard and very tiring. I guess they could use a little more conditioning. Most importantly they just had a fun day of swimming, which made it a fun day for Mark and I. Here are a few pics from the day.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Colonial Days

On Wednesday we finished the last of our US history tour exploring Jamestown and Williamsburg. We hoped to get to Yorktown as well, but the day got long and we were driving to Raleigh, NC that night.





Williamsburg was fun, but not very kid friendly. Jamestown on the other hand was a kids paradise and we had a great time there. Here are some pictures from the day:

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Mount Vernon - Day 5



After yesterday's very hectic day, today was low key as we only saw one sight. Mount Vernon is incredible though, and the beauty was amazing. It was great to learn more about George Washington, especially the stories you never hear. Here are a few pictures of Mount Vernon. After our time there, we loaded up and drove down to Williamsburg to see the original Jamestown colony and other colonial historical sights.

Carson running down the hill behind the house.


Here we are in front of the Washington's tomb.

Parker sitting on the wall behind the house. The Potomac in the background.

Monday, May 5, 2008

DC - Day 4


I can't believe it has already been FOUR days! We have been going what seems 24x7 with a few ice cream stops and occassional meals. I don't know how the kids are holding up but they still lay in bed and read their books and other brochure's and stuff they received throughout the day.


Today was a great day that started at the White House. The best was when Parker yelled to everyone pointing up to the White House, "Look, there is President Bush...mowing his lawn!" It was pretty funny.


We were then off to the Capitol. The highlight of that was actually going to the private offices of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the Capitol and hanging out on his balcony over looking the many monuments around town. It was incredible. It also gave us a little bit of insight into one of our Nation's most powerful leaders. For you Mormon's who can't stand him, you'll want to know that tucked away in his book shelf were plenty of works by President Gordon B. Hinckley and a small statue of Joseph Smith.

Here are Parker and Carson standing in front of his desk:






















And here are the girls lounging on the balcony:



And finally, the whole family together living the life of political luxury:


Then we were off to the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress. It was an incredible day. Here are some additional pics to wrap the day up with. DC has been a great vacation, and the kids have endured the hectic schedule well.






Well, it is past midnight, and this is only a sample of the 113 pictures we took today. There are many more very cute ones of our kids, and some OK ones with me in them. I'm sure when we get home Becky will post her own favorite pics from the trip.

Mark



Saturday, May 3, 2008

Washington D.C.











Here are some photos from our trip so far. We've had a great couple of days seeing the sights, learning the history (from McCall and Parker mostly) and enjoying time together as family. It is extra fun having Kyle, Haley, and Olivia as our tour guides.








I hope you enjoy.


More to come....





Mark