Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Toosday, the day before Winday.

I can hardly correct this girl's work. S E R I ously. How stinking cute is that "cursive" she's "teaching" herself because I am clearly too remiss in the pretty script department to show her how to properly write fancy, twirly letters? I mean. Dream snatcher. That's me.  And Toosday? Of course ! Duh. WHY are the big humans spelling like this: TUESday when it should be like this: TOOSday? *Obviously* People. Let us learn from the little ones. Lead the way, baby. Toosday it shall be. A+ for you, Clover True. If I could type you up some cursive this very minute, I would.
And what about those backwards letters? Fantastic! Marching to the beat of their own drum, they are. Not a thing wrong with a little individuality, sweetie pie sugar cube honey pot rainbow sparkle plum cake. Not. A. Thing. Your mommy will cry big salty tears the day they all turn around to face properly forward from here to forever more. Maybe it will be a Winday. A sad, sad Winday. 
And those TEETH. The new, big ones with the giant gap between. I could eat them up. Crunch, crunch, crunch. Your jack o lantern grin melts my frozen chambers into drippy puddles. My heart rises up big and round and spilleth over sugary gratitude all around the place. Love. Sweet, sweet love. You are my babiest girl.
There aren't words. There just aren't words.
There's only heaven on earth.
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I spent a while this morning listening to Christine Moers Youtube videos on therapeutic parenting. Good, good stuff. I needed a refresher! It's been a while since I'd seen them. Years, actually. Practical tools from a MOTHER who has DEALT with this stuff - things I CAN ACTUALLY DO. If you live in the trenches with wounded kids whose behaviors tend to drive you to the brink of batty, you might want to take a few minutes to listen too. Maybe they will lift you the way they do me.

Monday, October 13, 2014

To Myself: A Reminder

A billowy thing, it comes bustling back into our lives ushering in waves of fresh but familiar heart dropping emotions. It often it catches me by surprise. I relax. I ease up and swell lazy with complacency. The daily routine takes over. I observe progress causing me to breathe in the satisfying air of hard earned accomplishment. I want to settle in for a new reality, to believe we have moved past all of that. 

She is such a darling girl, a gentle soul, a speaker of softness.

Things feel normal for a while. Not a We Are The Family I Want Us To Be normal, but an I Can Accept What Is normal.

I forget the pain behind her eyes, her deep seated mournful sorrow, the mistrust she holds dear at all costs, her self protective urge to push, push, push me away, driving me far from her.

Then the behaviors flare up. I am mystified. How can we still be here five years later? It works. She shoves and drives and maneuvers herself into her most comfortable position: undesirable. It's so much more soothing than the alternative: closeness.

All I see is the deception, the hiding, the attempts at manipulation. I want it to stop. Let's just go back to easy. I rack my brain for solutions, offer consequences, parent her like the others. It goes nowhere. We go round and round and round again. More questions met with more lies leads to more anger leads to more hopelessness leads to more distance.

More distance.

More distance.

More distance.

In distance from me - distance from all adults - she is safe and comfortable and defensive and warm.

There is no vulnerability in distance.

There is no abandonment in distance.

I have to remember the distance is a simply a self preservation strategy. 

My job is to love always. To be safe. To not take it so personally. It's not about me, it's not about me, it's not about me.

I can't make it happen for her, I can't will her to choose to open up and love and let go of control.

But I can make a safe, reliable place to come, be her truest self, to fall, to know and to be known. I can love without failing, without condition, no matter what. 

I can make a bridge for her to span the distance, should she decide to.

I chose this life to give the girl the best shot I possibly can.

She has to make her own decisions about how much of me she wants to have.

The least I can do is remember how difficult it is for her take what's given.

Photo credit: Karin Winter Photography

Monday, October 06, 2014

Just Another Sunday Funday

Our clan makes a concerted effort to keep Sunday afternoons free for Family Fun. Period. No ifs ands or buts. Because these young people, they neeeeeeeeeed to have fun. And they still like to hang with the parental guidance portion of the tribe. The Old Folks will take it as long as we can get it! Sometimes we go out on a family date. Other times, maybe due to weather or time or money we stay home, but whatever we do, the hours are devoted to letting go of responsibilites and genuinely enjoying each other's company. Like yesterday...

Which began with this...
(Many, many turns on the mini dirt bike)
And a little of this...
Oh my love children. How cute is this?!?!
Takin my baby girl for a ride...
Then a little square dance...
A game of "Who Can Shoot the Arrow The Farthest?"
Turned into "Who Can Shoot A Moving Target?"
Which evolved into "Who Can Shoot A Bigger Moving Target?"
Which became "Who Can Shoot Dad's Bootie?"
Whatever...
We don't ask questions. We just go with it. Funday Sunday. {Love}

Sunday, October 05, 2014

All the Big Feelings

They well up, bubbling just beneath the surface, rising, rising, rising to the brim, spilling out, splattering and splashing, erupting hot, heavy emotion all over everywhere.

They are all the big feelings.

The ones I harbor over the experience of years spent in unfulfilled longing. The awareness that ultimate acceptance is the only healthy and wise option set before me. The moments spent wishing I could grab hold of it once and for all to never let go. Though my countenance is brighter and my days less laden with the weight of sorrow, there are triggers lurking in all the corners of an ordinary hour. They take me by surprise causing my heart to lurch. I glance over at the car idling beside me during a red light. There is a mother in the back seat next to a baby in a rear facing car seat, stroking his face. I enter my online password for my bank account and the usual security question pops up, how many children do you have? I remember the weeks I spent thinking, hoping, expecting it would soon be one more. The man before me in line at Target buys diapers, tells me he has new twins. I smile, congratulations, blink the burning tears away, willing them not to leak out. A lump rises in my throat. A pit forms in my stomach. Again and again. It's not always forefront, but it seems I can not escape the clutches of grief entirely.

My darling Meadow buries her loss deep inside so she won't have to stare its too painful gravity in the face. Though it rears its head, finding other ways to seep through the cracks and spring forth, sprouting new thorny growth that must be plucked time and again. Deception is her ally, distance her objective. Guard your heart, she tells herself. Don't let anyone near. They will hurt you, leave you, destroy you. Her methods weary me, mock my relational efforts, tearing my labor to shreds. Will I ever be enough to earn her trust? Will she ever unlock the chains around her heart, freeing herself to love? I wish there was a way I could do it for her.

My dear husband, over run with the work that must be done, the brevity of hours in a day, the fatigue that inevitably sets in, the perpetual elusiveness of the final check mark of completeness. The to do list nags long and winding. It won't grow still. At home, at work, at home at work at home at work, the labor is ever there. Waiting. Demanding. Expecting performance. Requiring accomplishment only to begin again on The Next Thing. People are counting on him. Always looking to him for answers, leadership, guidance, progress, achievement, monetary gain. Where a large family resides the quiet respite that refuels the body and replenishes the soul is hard to find.

Our Flint flails beneath the cumbersome tether of school work he faces. It proves more difficult than he is able. He struggles to keep pace. He notices his classmates advancing. His mind won't cooperate with his desire to catch their stride.

Decisions about how to proceed in all the vast and varied aspects involved in this life we have forged together insist on our focus. Where do we go from here? How shall we ease, bear up under, carry the weight of, accept, assuage the tension?

The big feelings arise. They expect, require, demand that our attention to turn all the way toward them, head on, toe to toe. They won't be over looked, glossed over, ignored. They must be engaged.

We are a family. A messy, burdened, loyal, busy, forgiving, flawed, disheveled collective unit of individual people making a go of this existence in unison.

Time and again it proves itself a tarnished tapestry of humanity woven together in love - breathtaking in its tenderly faithful, heart wrenching and otherworldly beauty.


Photo credit: Karin Winter Photography

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Excuse me, please.

I have this friend. In many ways, she is much like me, residing in a constant state of wrestling with the hard questions surrounding her faith, which unites us in this impeccable tension only the self tortured soul, destined to inquire regarding every single divine thing can fathom - not to stand in opposition to God, but to enter into true and honest Communion with Him. Only she is much kinder. Because so often when we talk about how so and so could possibly do or say such and such, while we shake our heads and point our pious mental fingers in judgement, she gently reminds me about herself, "I've been there too. I thought...said...did....the same thing. I used to be in their shoes." And I recall my own experience. I have also. I've been there. Certain. Sure. Blasting the world with The Exclusive Truth I was so convinced I had a firm handle upon. Who gets in, who is left out, I was positive I understood. 

Until I didn't anymore. 


Until the questions just became too loud, the assuredness too quiet, the list of hopeful exceptions for people I desperately wished entrance though they didn't fit the mold too long. 

To me, she is the finest example of what it means to remember from whence you've come. She reminds me to understand their point of view. No matter who they are. 
   
It's the kind of thing that makes me comfortable having my kids address their weakness, while allowing them to freely witness and express mine. 

The way I see it, there is no burying them, they will be with us until the end of our moments spent plodding this luxuriously privileged planet. We will labor to subdue our worst, to contain its effects on our beloveds. Try to hide and cover and squelch and reduce them as we may, the poorest, most base portions of ourselves serve to remind us of a glorious truth. We are all connected. To whatever extent in whatever context, we've all been there. Somewhere. If we are brave enough walk all the way into honesty, we've probably all been ashamed of the unthinkable we've actually mustered the audacity to think. We've likely all surprised ourselves in those moments when we've stared our darkest in the mirror. Most of us have probably startled our very own conscience with a terrible, tragic image that's popped into our mind we would like to think was scrubbed clean. 

To me, it's a wonderful, liberating reality of exquisite unity. We all need blessed pardon, love that covers a multitude. Because if we afford ourselves the grace and space to be real, the majority of us can freely admit, we've been there too. And that makes us a whole lot easier to be around. 

As far as I can tell, if I am able to be like my friend Jen and remember that used to be/could be/ might be me...I can more generously pardon you as you graciously excuse me.

Monday, September 29, 2014

I suck. No, wait...I'm awesome!

No, really. I'm b-a-a-a-a-a-d. Until I'm oh so g-o-o-o-o-o-d.

Flint has been engaged in a series of tests that comprise a complete neuro psych evaluation. We've been coming and going and driving...and...driving...and...driving...(did I mention driving?) back and forth to and from downtown Colorado Springs so he can be quizzed all the day long in an attempt to help us understand the way the grey matter atop his head functions. 

He is being tested on IQ, academic skills, processing speed, language, attention, memory, learning, problem solving, visual processing, fine motor skills and social/emotional/behavioral skills. It should be a very telling set of results that will help us better understand how his mind processes information and what we can do to best serve him, especially with regard to his unique educational needs. 

And so...

It has started a conversation amongst the congregation that comprises the student body representation of Deutchland Academy. Because everyone knows. Flint struggles. A lot of time is spent working to assist him. Mom struggles. Dad struggles. We all struggle, struggle, struggle with the Ethiopian male child. 

But the thing is, Flint has his own personal set of outstanding strengths too. Stuff that sets him far apart, way out ahead of the crowd. Like his pleasant disposition. The boy is full of blessed sunshine down deep in his soul. Complain? He doesn't do it. Ever. Not at all. The child eats whatever heap of vegetable medley tis laid upon his plate, then he says, thank you. With a smile (!) For realsies. His heart? Made of pure, spun gold. It's a big one. Pumping all kinds of juicy gladness through that body of his. He has his challenges, yes. And they often take center stage because we just have to get the business done in a day. We're American, after all. Productivity is our highest achievement and ultimate goal. Let the fine numbers reflect our stellar work ethic...ahem. 

Anyhoo.

Aren't we all in the same boat as dear Flint? Knocking it out of the park, bringing the fans to their feet in certain areas and striking out to the boo of the crowd in others? Don't we all have places where our highlights glisten like golden honey dousing wholesome sweetness on every pure bit of goodness they touch? Aren't there moments where we shine like the star we know simply know we were born to become and we can't believe how fortunate we are just to be in the company of ourselves?  

Then, we go and wreck and damage and mar and ruin and clutter some precious thing up. We realize no matter how altruistic we'd like to pretend we are, we can't escape our own self interests to some small extent. We examine our motives and find them sorely wanting. We stare our selfishness in the face and we all at once understand, we are wretched, wretched souls in desperate need of forgiveness from nearly everyone we encounter. 

Because dear humans, do we not splatter our mire at the exact same moment we spread our sunshine? We're a mess like that. And when you think about it, it's kind of a beautiful thing. We are complex, multi faceted creatures in need of tender mercy and cleansing grace at the very second we are lifted high, just as much as when we are brought low. 

We're in this together. All of us in the same wonderful terrible boat. 

Clover - One of my strengths is dancing.
One of my weaknesses is heights.
Meadow - One strength of mine is sharing. Another is sleeping. I also like running a lot. Reading is something I think I'm good at. Doing math I'm sort of good at. Mostly doing the correct thing. I'm good at getting ready to leave the house. Staying healthy is something easy. Coloring I like to do. writing is not a challenge much. One weakness is stealing. One more of mine is drawing. I'm also bad at communicating. I'm not so good at science. Another one is spelling. Coming up with things to do. One thing is lying I do a lot. Remembering what I don't do well. Those are some of my strengths and weaknesses. But there are many more of both.
Flint - My strengths are building and gazing out the window. Some of my weaknesses are spelling, reading, science. Some more of my strengths are forgetting, drawing, tracing, coloring, and lying. (He's not lying. The boy is skilled at lying.)
Jayla - I'm a great party planner. I love baking desserts. I can get my school work done in two hours. I am a responsible babysitter. I like organizing. I am good at using what I have to make what I need. I'm a horrible speller. I don't always get along with my siblings. I hate breakfast burritos, peas and pears. With my braces I'm supposed to brush my teeth three times a day, but I only brush two.
Tyden - One of my weaknesses is keeping  a positive attitude. One of my strengths is pokemon cards. Another one of my strengths is smiling. My weakness is food. I will eat a lot of it.
Onyx - One of my weaknesses can be that when I am around other people I get angry and hurt people. I also just do not like being around the other kids most of the time. (Um, introvert much?!)
One of my strengths is that I like to try new things and that when I do most of the time I like it. Another one of my strengths is I am good at reading comprehension, spelling and mostly I am organized.

Stryder - One of my weaknesses is refusing to do my school work and my jobs. But one of my strengths is making up ideas and doing dot to dots.
*********
Dude. These kids make me so proud. Getting a handle on their own positive and negative attributes so young. They will make some fine, well balanced adults! I LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE some JOTSCMF! 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Around the Homestead

**First, answers to a couple questions. 

El numero uno: What makes ME feel loved? I like them all! [The love languages, that is.] Except the gifts. Unless a gift is really useful and kitchen-ey. Those are my favorite. As far as the nibblets are concerned, I enjoy them hanging out with me and telling me about themselves. I try to ask lots of questions so I can really get to know what makes them tick. I like it when they come along side me and we talk as we (mostly I) work together. I also like playing games with them and reading books and we often have a lot of fun during school. Like yesterday when Jayla, unbeknownst to me, recorded my *awesome* rendition of Just Give Me a Reason and sent it to me via e mail. Listening to it later and hearing us all laugh reminded me of what a gift it is to so much spend time with them, even though school can regularly be frustrating. My love tank is filled by their presence. I like them near. 

Regarding The Calvous Man Of the House? Of course, my honey do list is long. Because he is a capable handyman and there is nothing hotter than a capable handyman. I do like it when he checks off those items one by one. So acts of service are big around here. But is that what makes me feel most loved? Probably not.

I need   T    I    M    E. 

Spent together. Chatting, laughing, doing nothing or something or whatever. That's probably my primary love language. But his words of affirmation go a long way too. As does a hug when he gets home from work. So, all in all I'm a high maintenance hillbilly who requires just about all the languages of love.

Just don't buy me lots of gifts. Not with our shared bank account, anyway.

Truthfully, my honey love language speaker is an EXcellENT listener who always gives me lots of room to verbally process and just be completely myself. And he remembers what I say. THAT speaks love to me in a big, big way.

El numero dos: Concerning the ideas for the pictures and writing prompts for the kids? Most of them just come to me while we're doing school or sometime throughout the day based on what we are learning or what's going on with the younger population. I'm definitely known for stopping everything to do a creative writing or drawing assignment.  
************************
Some poor phone photos of what happened down on the prairie over the summer --

Life of a wannabe homesteader is never a bore... 

Onyx mowing to make way for the lookout tower ~
Lookout tower in progress ~
The expanded garden ~
Our first butchering experience ~
The farmer and his wife doing the deed ~
Shooting mice in the hen house with a BB gun ~ 
The garden well under way ~
Almost complete: The tree house in the land of no trees ~
When bad bees swarm ~ (Noooooooooo!)
Reduce, reuse, recycle: Making a mobile chicken run out of an old trampoline ~
Novice beekeepers trying to hive the swarm ~
Cleaning out the stove pipe for a new year of wood burning ~
Bringing wood to the garage to prep for winter ~
Pulled oodles of green tomatoes due to an early, early September freeze ~ Boo!
New clothesline in the works - the old clothesline area is being turned into a dog run ~
The homesteader's Mercedes Benz ~ 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I feel loved when...

Recognizing the unique ways my kids register love spoken to their hearts can be tricky. For some of them, it's more obvious. They seek, request, demand attention in a very specific manner with the clear desire for a very specific outcome. Mom, can I teach you to play chess?  Um, let me think about that. Well, no. You may not. Find another method of communicating affection between you and I, mmmmkay baby? (I adore games. But chess. Really? I'm afraid it will snore me to death. Half my life is already gone, for the love of middle age (!) Can't Spend The Rest Playing Chess.) 

With other kids, those who are more laid back and aren't all up in my grill all the day long, it can be tough to determine what it is precisely that translates I am loved for them.

But I want to learn. (Even if it involves rooks and pawns and knights and bishops and queens and kings...who I will undoubtedly come to know...) Because aside from chess oh, babes. I want you to know you are loved. Deep in your soul, where you find all that is you in the still and quiet of the darkest night, I pray you realize your worth and your value and your meaning to us, your parents and your family. That you feel in the depth of your being that if you did not walk this earth at this very moment, it would be a much worse place.

You are valuable beyond measure and because of that reality lived and breathed, you are capable of achieving enormous good. You just are. 

So tell me, what makes you feel loved?
Clover: I feel loved when mom says "I love you, Clover."
Meadow: I feel loved when my awesome mom gets me something.
Onyx: I feel loved when dad lets us drive the mower. 
Flint: I feel loved when dad helped me when I fell down.
Stryder: I feel loved when I help mom in the garden.
Jayla: I feel loved when mom and I go somewhere and we talk in the car.
Tyden: I feel loved when I talk to mom while she is cooking.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

25 things you may not know about me

I love reading these. They are in a magazine I like.
A total narcissistic exercise, but kind of fun nonetheless.
Trying to lighten the mood.
Here we go...

1. I am an enthusiastic gardener, but if I see a pretty weed I won't pull it.
2. In my alternate life, where I have no children, I am a cirque du soleil performer.
3. I can eat a whole watermelon by myself in a day.
4. When I was younger I was sure I would get my Ph.D and become a professional person.
5. I never thought I would marry a white guy. Hispanic!
6. The All Carbs All the Time diet would suit me just fine.
7. I despise being the center of attention.
8. I could not leave my house for weeks and not mind.
9. If the world were full of people like me, no organizations would exist.
10. In other words, I don't facilitate anything and prefer not to be in charge.
11. I like to turn every little thing into a competition, especially with my husband.
12. He still floats my boat even after 19 years together.
13. If I had a baby girl, I was going to name her Flower.
14. I used to be very religious.
15. If I come across a COEXIST bumper sticker, I might buy it for my mega van.
16. I try to maintain few vices so I am most fully engaged.
17. I gave up coffee on Dec. 27, 2013.
18. If there is not some "next big thing" to reach for, I go out of my mind.
19. That drives my white husband out of his mind.
20. I try to convince my daughter to have babies. Now. She resists.
21. It would insult me most if someone called me "shallow."
22. My next tattoo will be 2 swans representing faithful love.
23. Mary Lou Retton was my hero.
24. I can't stand to touch a wooden spoon.
25. I love heights but hate small spaces.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Melancholy

It's the relentless weighty blanket determined to shadow me throughout my days. My own personal cloud of dreary grey. Even when the sun is shining, it's the covering of grief over what was lost, over earnest desire that can never be fulfilled, of longing that must be forcibly quelled time and again because it has no reasonable place to land.

My mind rebels against the reality of what is. It schemes and plots and wants to force a way where none exists. I've always been tenacious. My tendencies work against me. Accepting is not my strength. Maybe one more try, just one last treatment, another few months, we could do this, it could work this time...

Only I know I can't. It won't.

Everywhere I look they are there. The announcements. Ones that would have been born the same time as mine. The swollen bellies. The strollers and carriers and plush blankets and tiny whimpers and supplies and miniature clothes I have no need to buy. The photos of pride and joy. The rejoicing. The jokes and complaints and warnings about raging hormones. 

It hurts to look. Anywhere. Everywhere. I want to stay home, offline where they can't reach me. Where my heart is insulated, protected from the ache produced with the simple swipe of a finger - another day, another elated announcement, they will meet their babies. Do they know how lucky they are? I want to tell them. I want to scream it. I want to curl up in a ball and wail.

I dream over and over at night that it was a mistake, they were wrong. It's still alive. It will be born! The physical remains still departing my body remind me. It's not alive. It won't be born. It is gone.

I've spent years in this vein. Focused. I think in terms of little ones. Always. All the time. I want nothing more on this physical earth. How do I change everything that I am, everything that I crave? For most people, this would be enough. More than enough. There is no category for people like me. My brain doesn't work the way I wish it would. I have to forcibly will it to change.

Life marches on and I do too. I am one of the fortunate ones. It could always be worse. There is so much worse happening to people every day. My heart shatters for those without. I can not imagine. I am so sorry. I have beautiful children. Many beautiful children. I love them so much. They are the beat of my heart. Staying home, raising kids, making a life within these walls is my passion, my delight, my devotion, my skill, my ability, my drive, my motivation, my ambition. I want only to do this. I was made for this job. I want to do it forever. I know it can't last, but I yearned to begin again, just one last time. I have gone to extreme measures for one last time. I would give nearly anything for one last time.  

I'm not usually prone to extended sadness. With great hope for light I anticipate normalcy resuming. But it will take time.

I'm going to allow myself the grace and hours and days and nights I need. There is no healthy way to skirt around. I must keep walking. Straight through. Thankful for all that I have. 



Tuesday, September 09, 2014

10 Pieces of Advice

Inspired by Thomas Jefferson's 10 pieces of advice written for his grandson, as a writing prompt the kids wrote advice they would offer their loved ones.

Jefferson's:
1) Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
2) Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
3) Never spend your money before you have it.
4) Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.
5) Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst and cold.
6) We never repent of having eaten too little.
7) Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
8) How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.
9) Take things always by their smooth handle.
10) When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, a hundred.


Jayla's:
1) Don't eat more food just because you can.
2) Nothing anyone says to you can hurt you unless you let it.
3) If you like what you look like you look perfect.
4) Don't get a tattoo unless it means something special to you.
5) Spend your time doing what you enjoy, not what will make you look cool.
6) Save your money to get something you will use and you really want.
7) Keep your areas clean. It will help you look more organized.
8) Cut your nails so you look pretty, not gross. Plus, you have to look at them all day so they should be nice.
9) Get up, don't spend your life in bed or on a couch. You'll never accomplish anything.
10) Your family are the most important thing in your life. Keep them close.


Meadow's:
1) Think before you speak.
2) Help others when they are in need.
3) Don't buy tings that you don't need.
4) Eat healthy foods.
5) Don't listen to what a bully says.
6) Try your best not to spread germs.
7) When there is a problem try and find a way to help.
8) Don't cheat even when it is tempting.
9) Don't be a sore winner or loser.
10) Congratulate those who win.
 Altogether try to be a nice person. 


Tyden's:
1) Don't do things without thinking.
2) Don't get into trouble.
3) Do as your are told.
4) Make right choices.
5) Do well in school.
6) Listen to your parents.
7) Don't wait to do things you can do now.
8) Don't do too many electronics.
9) Don't do dumb things.
10) Keep your things in good condition.


Stryder's: 
1) You should think before you talk.
2) Travel, don't stay inside.
3) Do as you are told.
4) Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
5) Buy what you need, not what you don't need.
6) If you make a mistake, try to fix it.
7) Do your job fully and completely.
8) You should study to get smart.
9) Try to live a happy life.
10) Make people happy, not sad.  


Clover's (as dictated to mom):
1) Make a small house instead of a big house because then you can save your money for other things that are more important.
2) Have less animals than more so you can give to others.
3) Be nice to people and don't be rude.
4) Treat others how you want to be treated.
5) Only buy the things you need, not the things you don't need.
6) Have less boys so there is less shouting and mess.
7) Treat animals nicely.
8) On birthdays, give presents.
9) If someone's ship is falling apart when they are in the sea and you have a better ship, help them. Don't just leave them there!
10) Go outside! Don't sit inside all day and play the iPad! Live a happy childhood! 


Onyx's: 
1) Do what is asked of you.
2) Pay attention when someone is trying to teach you something.
3) Do not procrastinate.
4) Do not borrow money if you can not pay it back.
5) Do not take advantage of someone's hospitality.
6) If someone does something good to you, do something good to them.
7) If you borrow something give it back in better condition than it was given.
8) Even if someone is bad to you, be good to them.
9) Eat what is given to you.
10) Enjoy things while they last.


Flint's: 
1) Do not eat too much candy.
2) Don't become a robber.
3) Do your school quickly.
4) Pay attention.
5) Do your best.
6) Sound out the words you can not read.
7) Treat others how you want to be treated.
8) Don't watch t.v. all the time.
9) Clean up the mess when you're done.
10) Don't get in a stranger's car. 

Mom's:
1) Kindness is never the wrong choice. 
2) Work to love people as they are rather than try to change them.
3) Find what your hands like to do and do it heartily.
4) Enjoy nature.
5) Say, "thank you" daily.
6) Compliment others sincerely and regularly, it will keep you in the habit of seeing the best in people.
7) As much as possible, focus on positive aspects more than negative. 
8) Be gentle on yourself but honest about your mistakes.
9) Realize there will always be something with which you must contend.
10) Find joy in all the corners of your life. 
Life's extraordinary beauty mainly resides in the ordinary pockets of a regular day.

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