The Beginning

Every day, 97 things happen that I am sure someone would get a good laugh at. I may or may not be laughing at them. I had three adorable, manageable kids, then I had Brock, who is now the cutest, most loving 3 year old in the world, at select moments. Brock has a little brother named Blake, in the BTP, (Brockstar Training Program). I am 34 years old, have been married for 13 years, have 5 kids and sing now and then. I like to create, NOT COOK or CLEAN, which is turning out to be a great challenge since I am in charge of a house with 7 PEOPLE! I do love the people, though. Here for you all to laugh at me and with me, is a record of my funny life, the mistakes I make, and the lessons I learn while trying to earn, MY BIG GIRL PANTS.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Loving Rilee

When I was first married, I had a friend who told me when her daughter was three, she didn't like her. I had never had a 3 year old daughter, but I knew everything about everything and was shocked. What a horrible thing for her to say!

Soon after, I had my first child. A beautiful, perfect, happy girl. I can say without batting an eye, that I was the best mother of one child below the age of three that there has ever been.

Then two things happened:  I had my second child, and my daughter turned three. My perfection soon fell down around my neck, and it choked me, and I have never thought I was a perfect mother since.

Heavenly Father has a good sense of humor, doesn't he? I often find myself having experiences that I once judged someone else for. This was one of those.

For the first time in my life, I had a very strong willed, creative, smart, difficult 3 year old, and I was having a hard time. She will tell you a sad story about me slapping her face once when she was three. Don't call the police, but I did. She was freaking out, screaming hysterically, and I, the once perfect mother of one baby, had been consoling and bribing and soothing her (I can't remember the cause of the fit), for a half hour while she flipped and flopped and screamed in my face. Finally I just slapped her to shock her out of it. I know better now, today, I would just take her to her room, shut the door, and wait until she calmed down. But at that point, the whole world revolved around her and separation didn't even occur to me. Those days were stressful, I just didn't know what to do.

I remember thinking one day, that if I poured enough love on her, my heart and her heart would have to change.  I think that was one of those moments of inspiration that if you trust and follow, everything changes. I started having dates with her very young. I taught her how to bat and throw a ball. I pitched to her on our front lawn every day for months. If she hit the ball over the neighbors low wall, it was a home-run and she would sprint around the baseball diamond of shoes while I clapped and cheered. It really was a "Fake it Till you Make it" situation. We learned the alphabet and sounds by stacking ABC blocks, and I read a billion books to her.

Looking back, I think that was one of the hardest times of my life as a mother, having a new baby and a three year old, for the first time. Your hormones are changing, you are getting into a groove with the new baby, and you have a three year old, who understands what you say, but has no desire to DO what you say.

That inspiration to pour more love on her was the trick. Once we had that fun, one on one relationship, she was more likely to do what I asked her to do. I have to keep that in check with everyone of my kids still.

Today, my Rilee is one of the most amazing people I know. Without a doubt, we were best friends in heaven and asked the Father to come here together. We are from the same mold, she is more like me than anyone I know, but better.

This morning, on our way to school she told me she was not eating at the school BBQ. I asked her if she packed a lunch. She said no. Then she told me she was hungry because she hadn't eaten breakfast either, "What?" I said, "You can't go clear to the end of school without eating!" Then I remembered her little friend that is in Primary Children's Hospital waiting for a new heart. "Are you fasting?" I asked, she just nodded. She has never fasted before.

We have had some hard times, that girl and I, but we hold hands and go through them together. There may come a time when she lets go, but I am going to follow her around, throwing love dust on her head, until she reaches back for me again. Remind me of that later, ok?

I trust her. I respect her. I ask her advice. I admire her. I need her, and I am strengthened by her. Being Rilee's mother has been one of the great privileges of my life.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Letter of Resignation - Warning, Graphic Mental Images

Dear Brock,
There is a really good chance one of us is not going to make it today. Can you tell me what could be so much fun about poo that you felt like you needed to take the Witch skiing in it? And why you wanted to walk through it and track it all over the deck? Can you tell me what the motivation was behind the poo frosting you put on the two airports and jumbo plane?

When I put you in the tub, I had to scrape it out of your toe nails. Blake was carrying a felt horse when you both came in, I just threw away. Then I had to put him in the tub with you because your poop was all over his hands and on his face. It is just more than I can take.

I got you out, and went to clean the deck. It wasn't as bad as I expected, until you showed me where the actual scene of the crime was. It was caked in the deep wood grain, smashed between the planks, and wiped on the screen door. After the scrubbing, I was on my way back inside and noticed you also got the big window, again. I just don't understand. Is it art?

Also, did you HAVE to give Radar the Dog a lotion bath today? Why? Why would you do that?

As if this wasn't enough, you ran all the way down to the turtles, twice. One time you took Blake, one time you were completely naked. The weenie bird is going to get you if you are not careful. I am tired of hiking down after you Brock, therefore, I am giving my notice.

I quit as the poop checker and the turtle toddler retriever. You are going to have to find someone else.  I'm staying on as your mom, that is my favorite job EVER, but I am am rewriting my job description.

Ironically, during your 3 prayers at dinner tonight, you said, "Bless that mom and daddy won't run away," "Bless that mom and dad be nice," and "Bless that we'll have a good time." Heavenly Father hears you Brock, you are definitely having a good time.

Your Tired Mother

PS. On a good note, thanks for the big smiles, being the happiest guy ever and telling me you "love me more." You are a good boy.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"How Did a Nice Girl Like Me Get Into a Mess Like This?"

I have a handout from a YW lesson sitting in my kitchen. It is a quote by President Bensen that says, "Some of the greatest battles you will ever face will be fought within the silent chambers of your own soul." One of those battles for me is that I am extremely hard on myself. This week I have had this really mean list of all things I am failing at repeating through my mind. Because I am creative, it gets longer every day. I just added Brock's cavity to my list. 

The adversary knows me well. He knows if he can get me discouraged enough, it will slow me down. Sometimes it has worked, because I couldn't see where these feelings were coming from. But you all know, I have made a resolve to fight back, so I pulled up all of Jeffrey R. Holland's conference videos, looked for some good music, and found the words of Sister Marjorie Hinkley. I just wanted to share a few things I found, in case you need a lift also.

This is one of my favorite performances, ever: 

And you for sure need to hear this:

I was so grateful to find these quotes compiled by from Sister Marjorie Hinkley. She just makes you feel ok about not being perfect:

"How did a nice girl like me get into a mess like this?"
— Marjorie Pay Hinckley

"I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautiful tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails. I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp. I want to be there with grass stains on my shoes from mowing Sister Schenk's lawn. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbor's children. I want to be there with a little dirt under my nails from helping weed someone's garden. I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheek and the tears of a friend on my shoulder. I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived. " 
— Marjorie Pay Hinckley

“The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache.” - Marjorie Pay Hinckley

"Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
— Marjorie Pay Hinckley (Small and Simple Things)

"The thing about growing old is that when you wake up with a new pain, you can just about count on it becoming a permanent part of your life!"
— Marjorie Pay Hinckley

"The trouble with the world and the trouble with you and me is that we don't love each other enough. And if we do, we don't bother to show it, or we don't bother to say it. If the world is to know love, it has to be in your heart and in mine."
— Marjorie Pay Hinckley (Small and Simple Things)

"With intellectual curiosity the world will always be full of magic and wonder."
— Marjorie Pay Hinckley

"Just Save the Relationship"
Sis's Hinckley's advice to her grandaughter when she needed to know what to do about the fits her daughter was throwing.
— Marjorie Pay Hinckley

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, “Wow what a ride!"
— Marjorie Pay Hinckley

"Home is where you are loved the most and act the worst."
— Marjorie Pay Hinckley

 "The trick is to enjoy life. 
Don't wish away your days,
waiting for better ones ahead.
The grand and the simple.
They are equally wonderful."
— Marjorie Pay Hinckley

"We are all in this together. We need each other. Oh, how we need each other. Those of us who are old need you who are young, and hopefully, you who are young need some of us who are old...We need deep and satisfying and loyal friendships with each other. These friendships are a necessary source of sustenance. We need to renew our faith every day. We need to lock arms and help build the kingdom so that it will roll forth and fill the whole earth."
— Marjorie Pay Hinckley

"I know it is hard for you young mothers to believe that almost before you can turn around the children will be gone and you will be alone with your husband. You had better be sure you are developing the kind of love and friendship that will be delightful and enduring. Let the children learn from your attitude that he is important. Encourage him. Be kind. It is a rough world, and he, like everyone else, is fighting to survive. Be cheerful. Don't be a whiner."
— Marjorie Pay Hinckley (Small and Simple Things)

"Be a Mother who is committed to loving her children into standing on higher ground than the enviroment surrounding them.
Mother's are endowed with a love that is unlike any other love on the face of the earth."
— Marjorie Pay Hinckley

"We women have a lot to learn about simplifying our lives. We have
to decide what is important and then move along at a pace that is
comfortable for us. We have to develop the maturity to stop trying
to prove something. We have to learn to be content with what we
— Marjorie Pay Hinckley

"As we got closer to marriage, I felt completely confident that Gordon loved me. But I also knew somehow that I would never come first with him. I knew I was going to be second in his life and that the Lord was going to be first. And that was okay. It seemed to me that if you understood the gospel and the purpose of our being here, you would want a husband who put the Lord first."
— Marjorie Pay Hinckley

"...the beautiful thing--perhaps the thing I love most about the gospel-- is that everything we learn we can use and take with us and use it again. No bit of knowledge goes wasted. Everything you are learning now is preparing you for something else. Did you know that? What a concept!"
— Marjorie Pay Hinckley (Small and Simple Things)

"There are some years in our lives that we would not want to live again. But even these years will pass away, and the lessons learned will be a future blessing."
— Marjorie Pay Hinckley

"Think about your particular assignment at this time in your life. It may be to get an education, it may be to rear children, it may be to be a grandparent, it may be to care for an relieve the suffering of someone you love, it may be to do a job in the most excellent way possible, it may be to support someone who has a difficult assignment of their own. Our assignments are varied and they change from time to time. Don't take them lightly. Give them your full heart and energy. Do them with enthusiasm. Do whatever you have to do this week with your whole heart and soul. To do less than this will leave you with an empty feeling."
— Marjorie Pay Hinckley (Small and Simple Things)

Have a great week, let's all just keep trying!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Other Mother

Sometimes, I am a really big cruise ship-size brat. Like, a dinosaur size brat. If I am hungry I don't even notice if I hurt your feelings. Or if I am hot or people are publicly waiting for me. Or if your business has really bad customer service. I am learning to have more composure in stressful situations, but I am still growing up, and can sometimes act 14.

Perhaps the person I have been the biggest brat to, is now one of my most favorite people in the world.  My Other Mother, ie. my Mother-in-Law.

When Bob and I were first married, my Mother-in-Law was, competition, I guess. Bob would talk to her several times a day and it made me crazy.

When I had my first baby, she came to our little condo to help. I was so mad! Our perfect little family turned into my husband becoming her son again, and her wanting to take my new baby so I could sleep. How dare she?! This is all so embarrassing to admit. All I could see was how she was trying to take over everything. I'm sure I was perfectly unbearable.

Later on, if we ever left our kids with her, I would type out four pages on "The Proper Care and Feeding of My Children". I am sure she tried to follow all my instructions, even though she had four children, seven other grand children, tons of nephews and nieces, and knew how to feed and bathe everyone of them!  How wretched I must have been.

In my mind, I came up with a list of her "Mother Faults".  If Bob did something wrong or annoying, I blamed her for raising him wrong. I looked for things to be irritated by, excuses for me to not like her. (This is still embarrassing.)

But through all my judging and complaint compiling, she was always serving me, accepting me, trying to figure out how to love me, and giving me room to make mistakes while I was growing up as a mother and a daughter.

That was a gift I will never be able to repay her for. She never talked about me to others, even though she could have made me out to be the worst Daughter-In-Law EVER! I never felt like she and her three daughters were complaining or gossiping about me. At family gatherings, which I didn't want to go to, I  didn't ever feel like the aunts, uncles or cousins were judging me because of things they had been told. They loved me, because they thought she loved me!

Bob's mom gave me an environment where I was free to make mistakes, learn and grow-up. Because of how she handled me, I didn't have a reputation I had to fight when my heart started to change. I was free to become different than I was. She parented her children with respect, and trusted that they would do the right things. She also parented me that way.

It honestly was like 10 years of constant, unwavering love and service. I don't know how she had the will to keep spending time with me! But she stayed her course. And eventually, my feelings toward her started to change.

Bob's mom has that quality where each one of her grandchildren is pretty sure that they are her favorite. They would each have a really good case if it came to a debate. She is 78 and going through Chemotherapy right now. But Friday, she had her chemo treatment, got in the car, drove to Payson, picked up Bob's sister, then drove to St. George so she could spend the weekend watching my kids play soccer. They took the babies to the park and to the pond to feed the ducks, went to two soccer games, and played all day. Bob's mom and sister won't even go shopping or play with me while they are here, they just want to spend every second they are here with the kids. While Grandma Stookey is here, she folds clothes, cleans up the kitchen, and runs circles around me. And I have grown to adore her.

12 years have passed since I had that first baby. When I go out of town, I won't go until she and Bob's amazing sister, (who cries when she has to leave my kids), can watch them. (I don't leave instructions anymore.) They never make me feel like I am putting them out. His whole family makes all of my 5 kids feel loved and welcome  no, wanted. They are never a burden, and that is such a blessing to me.  When my mother-in-law got cancer this year, I started thinking, "Oh no! What have I done? I have wasted all these years when I should have been learning from her."

Like Ruth Loved Naomi, I have learned to love Barbara.  She is the strongest person I know. She has the gift of forgiveness. She has the gift of love. She doesn't judge, and when I have no one else I can talk to, I can confide in her.

In the early years, the one thing that would cause bad feelings between Bob and I were where we were going to spend holidays. When holidays come now, I want to be with Bob's family as much as he does. I love talking to his mom on the phone. I want my kids to spend time with her and to be taught by her. I see that most of the great qualities I love about my husband came from her. She is one of my dearest friends.

This Mother's Day, I am celebrating two mother's. My first dear mother, Rosalin, who made me so smart, and My Other Mother, Barbara, who made me smart-er. How I love them both.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

"Poo", A word I would NEVER say before I had kids.

"Mom! Mom! Mahhhhhhhhm!" (Yelling, finally he slaps my leg)
"Brock! Don't hit me! That hurts!"(Angry Eyes by me)
"Mom! Go get in you bed! I want to hold you and you tho comfortable! I want to thnuggle you! My tummy is tho thleepy and I want to take a nap!"
Well, I'm not going to walk away from an opportunity like that, so I take something  to the office and make my way back to my room where Brock is standing with his arms and legs apart blocking the entrance to the living room, hurding me like a cow into my room.
"Go, Go! I want to take a nap!"
So here we are, Thnuggling.

Blake graduated to level 3 of the Brockstar Training Program this month. I found him, alone, on my kitchen counter naked. I had just gotten him out of the tub, he had pooped on the counter, and was cutting it up with my knives.

He has an obsession with markers right now.  Some how, he keeps finding them. Today, his face and hands are Oompa Loompa orange. Two nights ago he realized he could climb out of his crib. The world as I know it is about to start spinning faster, I'm afraid. We let him hang in the room and whine for until he fell asleep. When we checked on him in the morning, he had found a blue marker. This is what happens:

Trevor just came in to my Thnuggling party and said, "Mom, did you know Brock smeared poo on the window?" No, I did not know that. Unfortunately, I just washed ALL the windows two days ago and it's only an annual event.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Help! Help!

My life is pretty much consumed right now by my children. So are my prayers! Each child has such different struggles we are trying to help them with. Sometimes we just have no idea what to do for them, so we are quickly learning to go to the one who does. I can't tell you how many times I have said, "Father, you made them, tell me what to do!" and I can't tell you how many times I have been given simple answers, in quiet ways, that made the difference.

For the last month I have been pretty worried about one of my kids. I have prayed more than I ever have for a child, asking for insights and ways to help them. Last week, I was trying to find an answer in the scriptures, needing one of "those" moments, when "D&C" popped in my head and I thought, "That's funny, I don't really like D&C and I am probably making that up, but I'll turn just in case." So I just flipped to the back of my quad. Immediately, babies woke up, started their daily destruction and wanted food. I read two verses quick, had no idea what they said and went to shut the book when that so still voice in my mind said, "Wait, what if the answer really is right here?" So I sat back down and started reading from some verse Bob had highlighted in his scriptures. As I took the time to concentrate, my Heavenly Father was able to teach me and help me parent. I cried off and on the entire day.

We are all facing the same problem as we raise our kids in this world, being slammed by the influence of the adversary. We don't listen to a lot of popular music at our house because there is so much sexual innuendo in everything. But my kids come home singing the songs because they play them on the bus to school. We are fighting inappropriate internet ads, even if we have filters. So many commercials are offensive to the spirit and even some of the shows on Disney and Nickelodeon have 12 year olds dating and kissing.  Trevor keeps saying, "Mom! How come they have Thor on the kid's meal when it is PG 13 and kids aren't even supposed to watch it?!" The world it blurring out all the lines of propriety. We are so flooded by images of violence and suggestive material, we can't see how wrong they are anymore, we don't even notice them.

But the Lord is aware of what is going on here. This is part of what I read that (tearful!) morning last week:

"And now, Holy Father, we ask thee to assist us, thy people, with thy grace...that thy glory may rest down upon thy people, and upon this thy house, which we now dedicate to thee, that it may be sanctified and consecrated to be holy, and that thy holy presence may be continually in this house: And that all people who shall enter upon the threshold of the Lord's house may feel constrained to acknowledge that thou hast sanctified it, and it is thy house....and that they may grow up in thee, and receive a fulness of the Holy Ghost...and no unclean thing shall be permitted to come into thy house to pollute it...And we ask thee, Holy Father, that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy name may be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them...that no weapon formed against them shall prosper....That no combination of wickedness shall have power to rise up and prevail over thy people...and if they shall smite this people thou wilt smite them: thou wilt fight for thy people as thou didst in the day of battle, that they may be delivered from the hands of all their enemies."

This is part of section 109, the dedication of the Kirtland Temple. How many times have we been told our homes and bodies are temples also? I have to be honest, when my kids go to bed, Bob and I stay up and watch shows, on regular networks, that we would NEVER let our kids watch. Because we think we can handle them. I had a bishop tell us there is no way we should let the spirit of those shows into our homes, even if the kids are not watching them. The adversary is just too real.

Rats! I feel like that's a lot to give up! But I was singing Saturday at our Stake Women's conference and when it was over, the Stake RS presidency brought me a frame that said, "The Stookey House" at the top. Then it says, "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. D&C 109.8. And I cried again because I know my Heavenly Father is paying attention to me. I think He knows I will try to do whatever He asks me to do.  For us, I think He means we need to get rid of the TV for now.

HELP! HELP! It's almost summer and I have 5 kids and I'm getting rid of my TV!  But last night I walked in and the kids were watching a discovery channel type show about a girl that got kidnapped, raped and murdered!


I guess He is, isn't He?