Saturday, December 26, 2009

Unexpected

Last Sunday was a little worse than what is typical. Allen had some meetings that prevented him from attending our meetings with us so I was left alone to wrangle the youngest kids.

About 10 minutes into the meeting Little O started his squirming which then became whining which developed into full-fledged You-Better-Get-Me-Out-Of-Here-NOW-Or-The-Whole-Congregation's-Gonna-Be-Sorry.

I grabbed Little O in one arm, the diaper bag and bottle in the other, and headed for the foyer. When I got there I realized that Hubba and Curly had followed me out as well. Curly wanted me to help her color a picture. Hubba wanted to pretend he was a train headed into a volcano that was ready to shoot hot lava UP TO THE SKY! Little O wanted to run. I wanted to die.

I looked back into the chapel to get some reinforcements (aka The Teenagers) but realized that they were all heading up to the front to participate in a Christmas musical number. All-a-Boy sat on the edge of the bench, reading something, while Princess and Cowgirl tried desperately to annoy each other. I let out an exasperated sigh. What could I do from the foyer with a wiggly, screaming little boy?

I was lucky to have a friend who was happy to have Curly sit with her. This left me with the two rowdy boys and a whole hour yet to keep them un-rowdy. Hubba kept trying to jerk away from my grip and get closer to the gym where he wanted to run for the remainder of the meeting while Little O bashed his head back against my face and chest hoping I would let him down. I was trying not to cry as I stood there feeling helpless and I offered a silent prayer in my head.

Please, Heavenly Father, I pleaded, I am trying to do what's right. I want my kids to know that church is the right place to be today. I don't want to let them run around but I don't know what to do. Please, help me to make it through this meeting without breaking down. Help me to do what is right. Help me not to cry in front of people.

I stood for a few moments longer, wrestling with my boys, and just when I was nearing a point beyond frustration, help came.

I like to think that my Heavenly Father has a sense of humor, because the help I sought came in the most unexpected and unlikely way...

It was a cat.

She came out of nowhere and started pawing at the doors to the church, meowing and jumping about. Hubba noticed her first and dragged me to the doors. "Awww, mom, that cay-at is so cold outside and it is so warm in he-yer. She just wants to come get warm for a minute. Can't we let her in? She just wants to he-yer the people singing..." After I explained that cats do not come inside churches he and Little O were content to stand near the door and just watch her.

She would strut from one end of the doors to the other, occasionally stopping to stretch or roll or pounce at a stray leaf and they were mesmerized.


That cat silently entertained my boys for the rest of the meeting. Then just as the congregation began to sing the closing song, she turned and left.

Some may say it is a coincidence that the cat showed up when she did, but I see things differently. Coincidence or not, that cat was an answer to my prayer. It was evidence to me that my prayers are heard and that my Heavenly Father will not leave me alone when I am frustrated and upset and at my wit's end.

Yes, a cat, of all things, was evidence of my Savior's love for and understanding of me.

And I was so very thankful.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Let It Snow

Early last week my scissors came up missing. In our home this means one of two things...

1. I misplaced them.
2. They are in one of the kids' rooms.

It is usually #2.

I made my usual rounds and asked each child if they knew where my scissors were and I was having no luck. I got to the final room, my oldest boy's little alcove in the basement, and opened his door. I found my scissors - and a winter wonderland.


What 16-year-old boy does this? Mine, apparently. And it's awesome.

Are you dreaming of a white Christmas?

All you need is an imagination and a pair of scissors.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday Cheer

As a general rule, last minute Christmas shopping = misery.

Except for one small moment on Saturday.

We have a tradition of letting the kids buy gifts for each others' stockings so Allen and I each took a portion of the kids shopping. I had Coolister, Thumbelina, Princess, Hubba and Little O with me as we looked for fun items to stuff stockings with. At each store Coolister would hoist Little O up on his shoulders and my little trail of duckilings would follow me in.

When we came to a bookstore a gentleman and his wife held the doors open for us - me at the front and Coolister with Little O at the back of our entourage. As Coolister thanked him for holding the door the man responded, "My pleasure. You two have a good-looking family!"

Coolister looked to me, rolled his eyes, and thanked the guy... even though I know that he was probably disgusted that someone would think he was married to his mom.

It's the little things like this that make my holidays awesome.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Energize!


photo from gnurf.net
I am not a fan of cats.

Don't get me wrong. If you are a cat-lover, we can all still be friends. I have no problem with others' pet preferences, but to me cats seem to have an air of arrogance that I just cannot tolerate. They laze about doing what they want, when they want and seem to enjoy napping more than anything.

Today I was surrounded by chaos. I was ready to pull my hair out. My second batch of dough for holiday cookies was mixing, my clothes dryer had broken and my kids were into everything imaginable. I put the dough into the refrigerator, draped sheets and blankets over doors to finish drying and got down on the floor to pick up the Legos that were strewn from here to infinity.

As I sat there on the floor, my foot became warm. I looked and realized that it was caught in a sunny patch of carpet and I moved my entire self into the sun's pathway, allowing it to warm my legs, my arms, my face. Oh, heaven, did it feel wonderful.

I woke up awhile later to the sound of my telephone. I had fallen asleep? In the middle of the floor? I had let the sun overtake me and dozed as it warmed and energized me. That was when it hit me... how much like a cat I was just then, lazing about in the sun's rays right in the middle of a mess of Legos and the incessant chatter of toddlers vying for a turn on the computer.

Right then, it was like nothing else was important. That little siesta was all about me. I felt a bit... what's the word? Arrogant? And I liked it.

I suppose it just goes to show you that even with our differences we can learn to appreciate the things we share in common with those we don't like much.

As much as I hate to admit it, I loved my afternoon catnap, basking in that little spot of sunshine as the chaos continued all around me.

But I'll still never own a cat.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Golden Rule


Today's Sunday School lesson was all about the golden rule and making good choices. After an extensive message on doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, I gave the kids examples of situations they could be faced with and then asked what would be the right thing to do.

I asked Super C what he would do if he found a wallet full of money on the street near his house.

"Give the money to someone who needs money?" he asked.

"Well, that would be very nice for someone who needs money, but you could maybe look inside and see who it belongs to..."

"And buy them some gum?" he asked.

"Well, no..." I started to answer, but then he excitedly answered,

"Oh, I know! So the people who need money that you gaved the money to can tell them thank you!"

Close enough.

Next I asked Hubba what he would do if he was playing baseball in someone's yard and broke a neighbor's window. His response was immediate.

"Run!"

"No," I told him, "you don't run. They would probably see you running off anyway and then you'd be in even more trouble. What would be the right thing to do?"

"Hide?"

*sigh* Sometimes I wonder if I am actually teaching these kids anything.

But this much is true; they certainly know how to make me laugh.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Season's Readings

Every year at Christmas our family likes to read a holiday story together. These are my two favorites and I often recommend them to others whether it is the holiday season or not.

Let me tell you why.

Christmas Jars is the story of Hope, a reporter who is grieving the recent loss of her adoptive mother when her apartment is robbed. Soon after someone leaves a small jar full of money anonymously on her doorstep. Eager to learn the source of this unexpected generosity, Hope uses her skills as an investigative journalist to find other recipients of 'Christmas jars'. Her search eventually leads her to the family who first began the tradition of saving a year's worth of spare change to give to someone in need at the holiday... but that's all I'm going to tell you.

It is a wonderful story which teaches the power which lies in giving of yourself... and may inspire a new Christmas tradition for you.


A Return to Christmas is a heartwarming Christmas story which follows the lives of two young boys living in different worlds; Artemus and Chess. I don't want to give away too much of what happens, but through a simple twist of fate these boys are thrown into unexpected circumstances which teach them both much of who they really are. It is a story of Christmas miracles and family ties and enduring love. This book is written by Chris Heimerdinger, who is one of my favorite authors because of his ability to write in such a way that his stories are brought to life.

Both books are great to read aloud with your family or all by yourself, wrapped in your favorite quilt with something chocolate nearby.

Celebrate the season with a little bit of readin'!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Where Are You, Christmas?


I was at the end of my rope.

I finally had all of the Christmas decorations ready to be set out, the festive music of the season playing and the tree purchased and waiting to be wrapped with strings of colorful lights. I plugged in the lights for their annual test-run and sighed. Only one strand was working.

Two of my youngest kids were rummaging through the box full of ornaments which sat beside me on the floor. "Careful, guys!" I warned. "Lots of those can break." They moved to the piano to admire the nativity.

I sat, cross-legged on the floor next to the tree for nearly 2 hours, painstakingly removing and replacing each light in an attempt to find and repair the one bulb which was preventing the others from glowing. As I did so I reflected on the lack of Christmas spirit I was experiencing this year. Where are you, Christmas? I wondered. The beginning verses to this song seemed to play over and over in my head and I found myself growing more melancholy as I worked. I had 3 colors working on one strand and 4 on the other but the dead bulbs detracted from what I wanted to accomplish. Again, a sigh. After 17 years it was time to purchase new lights for the tree.

I stood to stretch my cramped legs and noticed that the nativity scene had been rearranged into a small cluster on the piano. I placed each piece back into its proper position and went to the kitchen to set up Santa's Village. When I was finished I collected the now useless lights in a grocery sack and placed them near the door. I went to grab my purse and noticed the nativity, once again, all pushed into a corner. I knew this was the doing of my 5-year-old boy, Hubba, as I had seen him push the nativity together numerous times already. As I rearranged the pieces I wondered if this was all worth it; setting everything up only to have it moved around so that I would need to organize it all over again and again and again. "Hey, everyone!" I announced as I left to purchase new lights. "I'm leaving! Keep the little kids away from the piano, please!"

I ventured out onto the snowy roads, found the lights as well as a few Christmas gifts I needed, waited in a long line to make my purchase and then headed back home. As soon as I walked through the front door I noticed the nativity again, all crowded together. Again I moved each piece where I wanted them to be. I noticed Hubba peeking at me from around the corner.

"Hubba!" I scolded, exasperated. "I asked you to leave these alone. Why do you keep messing them up?"

"They're not messy, mom. They like being in a circle."

Frustrated, I turned to look him in the eye. "They do NOT like being in a circle. The wise men want to stand over here, the shepherd and his sheep want to be over there, and the angel wants to stay right here," I told him.

"But I thought they all camed to see Jesus," he said to me. "It's Jesus' birfday, and they want to see him. I was just helping them see him more better. 'Cause that's Chris-mis, right mom?"

And that's where I found Christmas. Right there on my piano, in the middle of a cluster of nativity figures. The reason we celebrate and decorate and give gifts and sing carols and promote peace on earth, good will to men all December long. I just needed Hubba to rearrange the nativity - and my way of thinking - so I could see things more clearly.

Yes, Hubba, that is Christmas. Thanks for helping me remember.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas Letter 2009

I finally got around to writing our family Christmas letter. I try to make it fun every year - a bit more than the typical "our family is awesome" (although, we ARE awesome, make no mistake about that!). Parts of this poem may not rhyme or fit well because I had to switch out the kids' real names for their blog names. But either way, you're all on my Christmas card list, so here you go. Enjoy! And happy holidays everyone.

p.s. If you would like an actual hard-copy of the picture and poem, I'd love to send you one. Really. All of you. Even if it's just so that you can have more Christmas photos on your fridge than your roommate or neighbor. I'm all about competition. Just tell me so in the comments or send me an email at gerbdonna at gmail dot com.

This year was exciting, fantastic and fun!

Let me tell you some of the great things we have done.

Allen & Coolister came back, all ranting and raving

From scout trips with rafting and camping and caving,

And biking and hiking and canyoneering, too.

There is nothing that these two scouters can’t do!

The oldest 3 kids are involved in all sorts

Of reading and writing and singing and sports.

Cross country was great for Coolister(16) and ElemenoB(15)

And basketball’s in the equation as well.

Thumbelina’s(13) in “Annie” and an all-girl choir,

All-a-Boy’s(10) a Webelo who loves a good fire,

He, Thumbelina and Cowgirl are writers of prose

They always impress us with what they compose.

Cowgirl(8) was baptized because she turned 8,

She, All-a-Boy and Princess think choir is great!

Princess(6) loves the first grade and lunchtime at school

She always says ‘awesome’, thinks reading is cool.

Hubba(5) loves trains, dirt and video games,

(And he thinks that Hubba is really his name).

Curly(3) enjoys singing and drawing with colors.

She loves to drink milk and play with her brothers.

Can you believe our happy Little O turned one?

He thinks that destroying and biting are fun.

But we’re always a sucker for when he will come

And snuggle up to us while sucking his thumb.

Allen’s year (in numbers) has been mighty fine.

He’s been alive for 40 and at his current job for 9.

Want to know what’s happening with me; Gerb, the mom?

Go visit gerbsrandomthoughts.blogspot.com.

For you in our lives, we count ourselves blessed.

We wish you all peace, love and much happiness!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

It's Finally Here

This morning we looked out the window and saw this:


Which resulted in Princess' prayer this morning:

Heavenly Father,

We thank thee for finally covering everything with so much snow 'cuz it sure is sweet to look at! We know we can't play in it yet because we are good kids who hafta go to church in this morning but when we do get to play in it later we'll be thankful all over again.


We're thankful for the food we get to eat for breaftist because we can eat it while seeing all that sweet snow outside! And right now when we woked up it was still snowing so thanks for letting us really see the snow fall and make even more snow stick on the earth, too. It's pretty awesome.

I want to ask thee to bless lots of things but I can't remember them because I'm too excited about the snow. But bless all those things. You know what they are.


In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Friday, December 4, 2009

$20? $20! Do I Hear $25...


I'm not sure how many of you have heard the story of the recent tragedy at the Nutty Putty Caves here in Utah. I'm not sure why it has affected me so much or why I can not stop thinking about what happened. We do not know John Jones or any of his family. Perhaps it was because Coolister had just been to the cave the week before and returned, along with his scout crew, with stories of excitement and adventure. Maybe it is because Allen and I were following the story online as soon as we discovered that someone was stuck in the cave.

We went to bed the night before thinking that the morning would bring news of a rescue and were shocked to learn that he had died. It weighed on me for the following few days and still makes my heart heavy to think about what happened and how this unexpected turn of events is affecting his family - specifically his young daughter and his wife who is expecting their second child next year.

It is one of those times when I really wish there was something I could do to help, but feel completely helpless... until yesterday.

My friend Rebecca posted on her blog about an online auction being held to raise funds for John Jones' widow and children. This is how I can help. And I wanted to pass the word along.

Just visit the online auction here, find something you want for yourself or maybe as a Christmas gift for someone else, and place a bid. New items will be posted until December 7th, so you can shop all week, all the while helping someone in need.

It's a win-win situation. So click over there and buy some stuff!

By the way, the warm fuzzies you'll get are free.