Here's what I recorded (and I think I'll keep doing this - love recording and cherishing these little moments!)
Yesterday I walked to the younger kids' school to surprise them with the chance to enjoy the beautiful weather by walking home together and enjoying a stop at their favorite park. I picked up the kids and we all walked to the park, then when Isaac called from his school, I asked him to come meet us at the park. He was grumpy and said he didn't want to meet us at the park - he'd rather just walk home on his own. But I wanted him to walk home with us so we could have a nice time together and so that he wouldn't have to walk home alone (Ashton had to stay late at school and I don't like them walking home alone, especially w/o a cell phone and Ashton had the phone). Isaac agreed to meet us as we headed towards his school - or so I thought. Turns out he thought he was supposed to meet us at the park and he took a different route from us so we missed each other. He ended up at the park by himself while we were at his school looking for him. (A friend of mine was kind enough to go look for Isaac at the park while I went home to see if he'd decided to do his original idea and just walk home. My friend found him at the park and brought him to the house.) I thought my instructions and our agreement about where to meet were clear, but apparently they were not. Isaac was mad at me. I was frustrated that my plans for a spontaneous and fun afternoon enjoying the beautiful weather with my kids hadn't turned out and was sad that Isaac was sad and mad.
Anyway, after we were all safely back home, Isaac and I had a big talk. He told me his whole side of the story and I listened and tried to simply empathize and not be defensive. Then I gave him a big long hug and told him my whole side of the story. I felt so much love for this boy of mine as I really listened to him and thought about how grateful I am for him, for his safety, for what a good boy he is. And when we got done explaining our points of view to each other, I told him about a silver lining that had happened while I was looking for him at the school. One of his teachers came up to me and said she'd been meaning to talk to me about Isaac and went on to tell me that she loved having him in her class so much and that he just has a very kind and helpful spirit and was a real joy to teach. She told me about a little boy with special needs that Isaac has been helping and how Isaac did such a good job explaining science concepts to this kid and helping him to focus. I felt so much love for Isaac as the teacher told me all this. And then I felt even more love for him as I told him about what his teacher said and saw his tears turn to a big smile.
Sometimes the sweetest moments come after the worst moments, I guess!
It's so easy to be a great mom when I'm used to having five kids and I suddenly just have two! Jared took the twins and Ashton up to help with the annual Bull Sale at his family's farm in Idah - Isaac and Eliza had obligations here so I stayed with them. Making a lovely dinner for three is a snap. Enjoying a board game with just two big kids is a pleasure. Getting just the three of us ready for church was so easy. Being patient and loving is a lot easier when there are just a couple kids needing my attention. I've loved the chance to shower attention on Isaac and Eliza and really focus on doing what they want to do for a few days. They made a list of fun things we'd do together while the others were gone and we got to pretty much everything on the list - play a board game, go on a walk, play soccer together at the park, get frames at the dollar store to frame all the great artwork the kids have produced and hang them up in the kitchen, make brownie sundaes, have a little read-a-thon. I loved seeing Liza's face light up with pride once we got her artwork nicely displayed - and seeing Isaac and Eliza get excited about how excited the twins would be to see some of their artwork up in frames when they returned home. (I need to get Isaac and Ashton to contribute to the gallery now...)
But while I'm feeling the love in a wonderful way for these two kids and enjoying some special time with them and a bit of a break, I'm feeling my heart grow extra fondness and love for those who are gone. The three of us are a lovely, manageable little family for a few days - but I'm starting to miss the constant party of our regular family of seven, even though it brings its share of craziness with it!
Last night, Eliza, Isaac and I got the twins on speaker phone and heard all about the adventures they're having up at the farm. The twins, in their cute, funny little voices, told us all about how they'd played in the barn on the hay stacks, helped shovel manure, and met some "totally adorable" newborn calves. I felt so much love for Oliver and Silas as I heard their cute voices and when we got off the phone, Eliza, Isaac and I talked about how much we love those little boys. Isaac talked about how sad he is that they're growing up so fast. Eliza talked about how funny and cute they are when they play together (the other day she saw them playing with their big firetruck and pretending it was an adorable little dog). Hearing my kids express love and appreciation for each other always fills my heart to overflowing.
When Jared, Oliver, Silas, and Ashton got home last night, it was SO good to see them! Absence does make the heart grow fonder. Oliver and Silas gave me big big hugs and Silas sang the song he always sings for me - "Mom, I love you so, so much, I will never stop loving you." When I hugged Ashton (he's not one to initiate a hug), I caught our reflection in the window and saw that he's very nearly as tall as me. How did my baby get so big! He got a big smile on his face when I pointed this out. And he went on to tell me all about the work he did at the bull sale - drawing me a diagram so I could see how he lined up the bulls in the order assigned by the auctioneer and got them ready to go into the sale barn. It was great to see him so excited to tell me about his work and success. He's such a young man all of the sudden!
Isaac didn't make the soccer team and he's so sad. He really looked good and played his heart out but I guess it wasn't meant to be (and as a 6th grader trying out for the 6-9 grade team, it was tricky). My heart ached for this boy of mine whose soccer dreams had been dashed. I felt such love for him as the tears rolled down his cheeks and he tried to buck up and be a good sport about it. All the other kids were so nice to him about it - loved seeing that.
Oliver's prayer last night: "Thanks so much that I can have my mom and that we get to be together forever and that we're back together now and that she takes such good care of me." So nice to be so loved and needed and appreciated.