I read a blog the other day about not sugar coating our blogs, Be "REAL". It was interesting. It's not that we ever lie, its not that we even stretch the truth. We do however, simply put our best face on, best foot forward and go from there. But, it was an interesting exercise, to be more honest.... Well. Let's be honest, on both sides... the good and the bad.
First the Bad.
Laundry - it's not just a problem... it's an adventure. We have six in our family, and with a 2:1 ratio of kids to adults, there is going to be a ton of laundry. We never catch up. Sometimes we come close, but once that day is over then there are at least two more loads that the family was wearing at the time all the other laundry was being done! It is like trying to sweep back the ocean with a broom!
Scriptures - We try, we really do, to read the scriptures. I remember as a kid only reading once or twice as a kid with my folks. Ok only once, but that single memory is a very good one. The kids don't complain, they don't gripe, they don't even mind. It's simply a matter of trying to talk myself into taking the extra 10 minutes at the end of the day to do it. I love it, the kids love it, Laura loves it. It seems we simply get lazy...(sigh... ok "I get lazy") . We have done really well in the past. We not only got through 2nd Nephi, but are about half way into Jacob. This is the "Good Stuff" for kids in the BOM. The great stories of King Benjamin, Ammon, Noah, Alma.... We just need to get going again.
Fighting - I can't tell you how much I HATE fighting among our kids! I hate the turf wars that they have. "That's mine!", "I had it first!", "You never help me!". I can't stand this. I can show several scriptures that say that Satan is the father of lies and stirs the hearts of the children of men to contend one with another... Hearts mean attitudes... And he plays with our attitudes and makes it so we get angry and fight. It is true with kids, friends, couples, neighbors and countries. I want no part of this. And yet I see my children at each other's throats! I once found myself telling one of my kids, "I have spent your entire life loving you, please don't hurt one of my other children!"
Yard - My backyard has several things that could be done to improve it. I have a fort, slide, swingset in the back and the slide is broken. Have I fixed it?... No. Have I tried? No. Have I planted any flowers? No. Have I weeded? No. (Are you seeing a pattern here?). Laura has quietly resigned herself to the fact that if she wants a pretty yard, she has to do it. I hate that. I really, really ought to be better.
Weight - I really, hate the current amount of force that gravity has on me. I won't go into details, but it isn't a little thing.
What is good?
Family Home Evening - This is a time of the week that everyone looks forward to. The kids love giving lessons, they love the time together. About 10 minutes before each FHE, either Laura or I print a shape on a piece of paper. It is usually very simple, like a line and a circle, or a squiggle and a dot. Then we call the family together and we all draw our own picture on it. Each person is allowed enough time to draw whatever they want. Then (while they are calming down) and we begin FHE, we take turns sharing what we drew. This has been a source of joy for many years! I can't tell you the laughs we get looking at "Man inside hamster ball" or "House on a tree" or any other silly, yet fun times we have shared.
Education - The kids are doing really well in school. They have friends, they have activities, they are busy and happy. Jared has found this summer the love of books. Mom can't keep enough in the house to satisify him. He zipped through the "Spiderwick" and "A Series of Unfortunate Events" series as fast as 3 - 4 per week! Sarah loves to read as well. Nicole has read a vampire series called "Twilight" twice! I love it that the kids do well in school and love reading. It is a blessing that will serve them well the rest of their lives.
No TV - Hey! The kids didn't die! When we moved back we decided that we wouldn't pay for a cable. I like some shows (all on Sci-Fi channel) the kids watched other shows simply because they were on. But we decided that we didn't want it. We don't regret even a little bit.
Church and Gospel Teaching - Even though we should read our scriptures better, the gospel is always talked about in our home. As parents we are constantly trying to teach our kids how gospel truths relate to every day activities. From fighting, loving, service, patience, forgiveness and a host of others. As a married couple, we are always talking about how different events relate to our Heavenly Father's Plan. We know that our Heavenly Father is a tutoring Father.
This means that he doesn't just give us lessons in Sunday school, but rather every day, real life stuff to work with. I can't imagine a day where we don't relate what is going on in our lives, to something that Father is trying to help us with. Even cleaning the table, making dinner, building relationships with ourselves, spouse, children, parents, friends, loving, supporting, teaching, helping, forgiving, laughing, reading, studying, crying. I read a scripture that says, "All things point to Christ". It meant it... not some, not most, but ALL. As parents, we try hard to teach our kids not only how to behave, but why. And Laura and I encourage each other to be better. She encourages me to be better in Home Teaching (another not-so-highlight in my life) and I encourage her in areas I think she can be better.
Friends - I have always lived as a hermit. Quiet, alone, and just fine with that. Friends scare me. I have never felt very comfortable with myself (childhood issues) and getting out of my comfort zone has been a really big help. Laura has gently prodded me into being social, something that is definately NOT easy for me. But the rewards have been wonderful. I enjoy so many people in our ward and I wanted to talk about a few here.
First Alex and Cindi - I can't even comprehend how much I appreciate them. We have cooked with them, played with them, cried with them. We have stayed over at each other's home just to have breakfast in the morning (and catch the early session of conference). I am proud to tell people about my friend and what he has done (think Riverwalk, think TV studio, think church DVD). I can't tell you the number of calories I have consumed with that family.... (think big numbers... with exponents...)
Next Nick and Andrea - When I was running my own business, and I needed a vehicle, Nick gave me a truck. GAVE ME A TRUCK!!!! Even now, I can't think about this without tears in my eyes. It was such a huge deal to me, to be able to continue on working and building my business. I will be grateful to that family... forever!
Now come Rocky and Janine. What a great family. They are so much fun to play with, to laugh with and to simply hang out. I will never (ever, ever) be as handy as Rocky is.... He made a picnic table for heaven's sake! He flies airplanes, and cooks Dutch oven (got me hooked on it). Janine is a teacher. (she isn't working for a school district now but she teaches her kids every day). They came and visited us in Las Vegas once. It was so nice to have friends come and be with us. When we go to the temple, we stop by to drop our kids off there. It's great when they join us.
Finally Damian and Trisha - They are our newest friends. Damian does so many things that I like, and he does them so well. Piano player, database guy, MBA, CEO, and an out-of-the-closet Babylon 5 fan! (how cool is that!). Trisha, also plays piano, laughs at our jokes, went to Ricks (BYU Idaho), keeps a cheerful smile while home schooling. From the first moment I saw this family I knew that we were going to be friends. They were on a date, and stopped by our house just to see if we wanted to come too! Yeah! It was fun, Chili's for dinner, frozen yogurt for dessert, and a piano store just to see which ones sounded better... how cool is that!
My Father in Heaven - It is funny. I really do consider Father a friend. Not a distant God somewhere far away, but rather a friend, a teacher, a helper. He is Someone who knows me and loves me and is trying to help me and my family. I have talked with Him, cried to Him, laughed with Him, yelled at Him, and each time (even during the yelling) I could feel Him simply taking the yelling, without being angry, just letting me throw my tantrum, absorbing my anger, knowing it will soon pass. He guides me, telling me to watch out for particular problems, with me and my family. He encourages me to be better, be stronger. He teaches me, not only what the commandments are but "why", and how they relate to His plan. This has brought me so much comfort. The "Whys" teach us the most wonderful parts of the gospel!!
I have felt His laughter when we have talked. For example I was troubled with a personal issue the other day...I started my prayer with "Father, I want you to know..." I could feel him say while laughing... "Robert, do you think there is something I don't know about you...?". My Father has taught me lessons about His love for me using things around me, He has given me lessons about eternity using commong things like stars, rocks, water, fish, dead birds and fallen trees, torn toe-nails, mud, scars, pregnancy, blindness, flat tires and so much more! The list never ends! My Father loves me, and I love Him. He is kind, patient, and loving and is trying to help me and my little family go back and live with Him again. He has given me promises (think about that!!!) about me and my family. Who am I, to merit even the notice of God, let alone his attention? I am his son. And I have been charged with raising a family and do all I can to bring them home to him intact. He is helping me with this duty.
Well, this was much, much more than I wanted, but, I thought it was time to share... a little more about me...