Category Archives: One Step

One Step Report #46

Just over one week left in November.  Is anyone else worried about the calendar like I am?  We received our first Christmas card in the mail yesterday and the stress I suddenly felt was almost more than I could bear.

Traditionally I’ve tried to keep these reports positive, and I promise they will remain that way, but I hope you’ll forgive me a few minutes of honesty.   The struggles are, after all, part of the journey, and this week has been an emotional struggle.

For the past 3 years I’ve struggled with Utah winters.  It wasn’t like this for the first 10 years that I lived here.  The new format showcases a blanket of clouds that descends over the state and stays put for 5-6 months.  I swear the clouds are a mile thick, and generally they prove to be impenetrable by the sun.  There are usually two times each day when sunlight is visible.  The first, on most mornings, is sunrise.  As it rises over the east mountains, a few minutes of light can be seen before the sun is shrouded in clouds.

The second happens at 5 pm when the sun sets and for five minutes a glorious painting spreads itself across the sky.  For five minutes I stand there, drinking in the little patches of blue and the soft pastel colors that wash over the cloud-covered sky.  Today as I watched it, there was a single shaft of light that made it under the clouds and over the mountain to kiss everything in it’s path with gold before the sun was too low to offer more.  A two foot high, horizontal strip of branches on my cherry tree were dazzlingly beautiful… for five minutes.  It’s so beautiful that I can ALMOST forgive the clouds for robbing me of sunlight.  All other hours of the day feature shades of one color:  gray.  It’s like having dusk last for 8 hours each day.   I wasn’t ready for the arrival of gray, but it’s definitely here and I’m trying to summon strength to face it.  I wish I could claim that I’m exaggerating, but last year I started watching the clock and keeping a record of how many minutes of sunlight we had, and the number never got very big.

So I’m thankful for sunsets because they’re the only sunlight I can count on.    Winter is now a very real exercise in being grateful for the sun that seems out of reach and invisible, and having faith that it will eventually appear.  If you’re living within the reach of blue skies and sunlight, please look up and smile at it for me.

This week’s report:  82 steps.   Truthfully, I accomplished a lot, but there was so much more I felt like I should get to.   This is a week when I remind myself why I started this whole project in the first place, as all these little things don’t appear to be adding up to what I envision.   Sometimes you have to make allowances for unexpected speed bumps like 3-day migraine headaches, two sick children, one teething baby, and one toddler who decided to potty train herself without warning.  All of those speed bumps converged on the same three days of my week and I still feel like crying (except that it would only make my head hurt more).  I know they’re all small things but they felt heavy.

Highlights (and I promise they really are highlights):

1.  We celebrated my daughter’s 12th birthday, complete with homemade dutch apple pie instead of cake.  A trip to the mall for ear piercing finished the day.

2.  I baked and baked and baked.  Friday night we had a cookie decorating party for my daughter and 14 of her friends.  They all decorated a tray of cookies while they giggled and squealed and talked at the same time.  Seriously, I have NEVER had so much noise in my home.  It was amazing.  It’s a good thing they’re such great girls!

3.  Fifteen hours after my daughter’s birthday party we had my son’s birthday party.   He invited a group of friends to go on a special mission at the Christina McAuliffe Space Education Center in our local school district.  I enjoyed watching them complete their mission from the control room.  They did a great job and had a fun (and intense) time.

4.  In the middle of birthday party preparations we had our Thanksgiving plans change and I am now hosting Thanksgiving dinner for 30 at my home in four days.  I’ve got my work cut out for me, but it will be fun.

5.  I finished reading a chapter book to my children.

6.  I didn’t say anything harsh when I discovered my son left a nice hardback book outside last night… to get snowed on.  I didn’t even let myself ask him why on earth it was out there in the first place.

7.  I witnessed a small miracle in the life of one son.  In spite of my inclination to complain, I must say that all of the week’s frustration and emotion was worth it.

8.  I needed to run a few errands mid-week and I’m happy to say that my four year old boy was incredibly helpful and cheerful.  Not once did he burst into hysterics and lay on the floor screaming.  That’s progress!

9.  This morning I got up a couple of hours before my family to have some quiet time alone.  It wasn’t nearly long enough, but it sure helped.

And so we head into another week, Thanksgiving week.  I’m all partied out and ready to begin afresh physically, mentally, emotionally.  I think I’d better add “a new week” to my 2010 Gratitude List.  What are you thankful for tonight?

Hopeful Homemaker

One Step Report #45

The temperature has dropped significantly.  It’s dark at 6 pm.  We’re snuggling in our blankets with new appreciation for their warmth.  I’m afraid winter has made its entrance.  Much as I dread it, it brings its own blessings.  My favorite constellations belong to the winter sky.  I love having more family time in the evenings.  I hope and pray that we can fill that time with worthwhile things.

The week has been a full one, but I needed it to hold much more than it did.  My baby had a particularly tough week, needing lots of attention and time in my arms, which motivated my two and four year-olds to seek the same.  More than once during the week I looked down at three people standing at my knees, arms up, crying “hold me!”  And I thought to myself, “Seriously?  All three of you?!?”  Much as I love motherhood, sharing one lap between three crying children gets old quickly.  It’s good for me to remind myself that although I have only three at home during the day, life is intense with three little ones, no matter how many more come spilling through the door after school.

At the end of one long day this week when my husband had left for an appointment I hadn’t known about, I sat wearily at the dinner table with my 8 children.  I confess I didn’t really want to be there.  I wanted them to be in bed, I wanted to be done being needed for the day.  I looked around the table in the soft glow of the lights and told myself, “Someday I will miss this.”  I didn’t think it because my heart was tugging at me.  I didn’t think it because I was trying to enjoy the moment.  It came on blind faith, faith in the words of the hundreds of mothers who have gone before me who say, “Someday you will miss it.”  That promise is perhaps the most universal one offered by every mother I know whose children have grown and gone.  And because they are women I know, respect, love and want to be like, I believe them.

So I paused.  I looked around the table, listened to snatches of the little conversations they were having with the sibling nearest them.  I looked at the sizes of their bodies, the way they sat in their chairs, some of them filling the seat and others almost being swallowed by them.  I watched the way they held their forks, some with expertise and others with minimal control.  I tried to memorize them.  I tried to memorize the curve of their cheeks, the color of their hair, their eyelashes almost touching chubby little cheeks.  I tried to memorize their voices, the way they sound right now, the things they did or didn’t like on their plates.  I watched the way they looked at each other, the way they talked to each other, the way the older ones helped the baby as she sat so proudly in her little chair at the table.  I tried to memorize all of this and for a moment I felt like I was standing just outside the room watching a re-run of an old movie with dim lights and faded colors, observing a traditional family gathered around a traditional table for a traditional meal.

It soon passed, they finished eating, my husband came home, we moved on with the evening and put them to bed.  It’s funny.  I didn’t have any kind of emotional reaction at the time I paused to observe all these things but as I type it tears stream down my cheeks.  I hope that time will not rob me of that picture I still see, of my eight young children scattered around my kitchen table on a random night eating a simple meal.  And in a sense, those few minutes might be the most important thing I did this week.

My report for the week:  100 steps.

1.  My tulip bulbs arrived in the mail.

2.  We woke up to gray skies and rain on Monday morning.  I was tempted to wait for better weather but instead went out in the rain and dug trenches along the edges of my flower beds.  I planted those bulbs, all 250 of them.  It felt good to be doing yard work in the lousy weather, and as the week wore on I was so glad that I got them in the ground when I did.  As the temperatures dropped I felt like gloating at the winter weather, daring it to do whatever it wanted because I have already won.  I’ll have flowers in the spring.

3.  I got my hair cut.

4.  On Thursday morning I had a friend over and we worked on a Fall project together.  It was so much fun to let the little ones play while we talked and worked.   Friends are one of life’s good things, wouldn’t you say?

5.  Late Thursday night as I was driving home from something I saw the moon and it took my breath away.  It hung low and large over the west horizon, a waning gibbous that looked as if it had slipped from it’s spot just a bit, almost laying on its back.  It looked like the color of golden wheat, and as I drove I realized I was seeing the very sight that has caused illustrators for generations to depict the moon with a nose, cheekbones, and a slight smile.  The sight was so magical that I felt I could almost see those details, the moon smiling down on a peaceful night as I smiled up at a most beautiful sight.

6.  Thanks to my sister, I looked at the Happiness Project blog and saw this list of happiness mistakes.  It was thought provoking to consider how many of them I make at different times, and healthy to consider ways to grow and change.

7.  I had a lucky bit of time when my three little ones all fell asleep at the same time.  I had a million things to do but I sat down in a comfortable spot and read a good book.

8.  I discovered my baby had cut her first molar.  (that explains some crying)

9.  I discovered my baby had cut her first canine.  (that explains more crying)

10.  I discovered my baby has two other molars on their way in.  (that explains the rest of her crying, but none of it explains the crying of the two or four year-olds)

11.  My two oldest daughters went with me to the baptism of my cousin’s daughter on Saturday night.  It was wonderful, and I had a lot of fun talking with my cousins, my aunt and uncle, and others.  We were so grateful to be invited.

12.  This morning I got up 2.5 hours earlier than everyone else and enjoyed a most pleasant, quiet, morning.  I had dinner made and in the refrigerator before 7 a.m.  I wish I could do this every day!

13.  Tonight we attended a fireside as a family and listened to our 9 year-old son speak.  He did an outstanding job and we felt so proud of him.  He is a great young man.

I am stunned that November is already half over.  Like everyone else, there is so much to do and so little time.  It’s sobering, and I hope that I’m careful and making good choices with what time I have.  I’ve got two birthday parties to pull off before I can worry about Thanksgiving, so I’m praying for a happy baby this week.  I can say this about raising children:  I’m pretty sure there’s no danger of a boring life in my future.  Something will always be going on.

Have a great week!

One Step Report #44

Yikes.  As the number on my report grows larger, the year grows shorter.   It’s amazing how long the days are, and yet how quickly the months are history.

I love November.  It’s a month for gathering in, watching the sun rise, enjoying slow, quiet evenings and good books.  It’s the month we drink in all the comforts of home after a busy August through October.   November slows my life down, slows my heart down, and provides a precious pause before December.   I wish it was 45 days long.

Report for the week:  81 steps.  Lots of  little things this week, little things that were important because  most of them were part of preparing for my daughter’s baptism.


1.  On Monday night we had a family Book of Mormon party to celebrate our recent completion of the book.  It was a fun night together.

2.  I voted.

3.  I spent a day running errands, and got much less accomplished than I hoped.  The baby screamed the entire time.  It helped me to feel very humble, and reminded me why I generally avoid running errands.  I felt like crying several times but managed to stay calm.

4.  I feel like I finished a few dozen little things this week:  replacing glass in a picture frame, hanging this, fixing that.  It feels good to just be done with things!

5.  My heart was full as I watched my daughter enter the waters of baptism with her father.  It was a perfect moment.

6.  I spent time engaging in imaginative play with my two and four year olds, which means that I just followed orders and choked back my laughter.

7.  We loved having my parents here for the weekend.

8.  With my parents, we did a lot of laughing at the funny things our younger children said.  Sometimes I wonder how people find humor in life without little children to provide it.  I’m grateful ours is rich in laughter, thanks to innocent but oh-so-charming little ones.

9.  In an uncharacteristic move, I decided to go ultra simple on food for our gathering this weekend, and it felt good.  I chose to order a 6 foot sub sandwich instead of cooking for the luncheon.  I added a basket of apples and little bags of chips for a casual feeling.  The children loved it and I enjoyed having more time to talk.  Simple is good.

That said, I have a long list of things I want to do to enjoy this season of Thanksgiving.  We’ll see how simple my list gets as the week progresses.  There is much to enjoy and much to be grateful for.

Have a great week!

Hopeful Homemaker

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