Friday, June 27, 2008

The Spiritual Aspect of Housework

(Not my photo)

These two articles "The Sacred Nature of Everyday Work" and "My Home as a Temple" are must reads. I often get overwhelmed and discouraged by all the demands of running a household and trying to keep my house clean. I've been doing better this past week and have found better routines and a better attitude. However, these articles moved my mind beyond the "task" of keeping my home clean to the "purpose" of housework and the possibilities that I am missing out on by being so task oriented.
The Sacred Nature article talks about the bonding that is created between family members when they work on tasks together. This reminded me of some of my own fond memories from my youth. We heated our home with a wood burning stove and each fall a load of logs would come and fill our driveway and our task was to stack all those logs on the back patio. This was a time consuming job and took all of us working together to do it. I remember that we formed a chain and passed the logs from one person to the next. Even to this day the overall feeling that remains with me is the fun that we had working together. My parents might have a different feeling about it. Maybe we complained and whined and whatever, but all I remember is the bond that felt with the others who shared that experience with me.
Another thing the articles talk about is working together. I don't think it means that on every chore that has to be done that everyone has to be together, but definitely none of us like doing jobs by ourself. I remember when I worked at a boys ranch (for teenaged boys who needed counseling) and a major component of our responsibilities as the "parents" was to have the boys do chores. The meals were cafeteria style and once a week it was our house duty to clean the large kitchen (like schools have). We had fourteen boys we were responsible for. Even with all of us working I think it took close to an hour to clean the kitchen. Jeremy and I divided the responsibilities between the boys and then we would work along side them. One time one of the boys commented about the fact that we worked along with them. I didn't understand why this was a big deal to him. He said that none of the other house parents worked with the boys, they would just sit and talk while they made the boys work. Us willingly working along side the boys helped them have greater respect for us and it also formed a bond between us.
At that point in my life, at least in that certain situation, it seemed natural to not require something of those boys that I wasn't willing to do myself. Now as a mother and the manager of my household I'm not quite as quick to work along side my kids. It's definitely not because I am sitting down while my kids work, it's more of a divide and conquer attitude - if we split up the work and you do that and I do this we will get done faster. Sometimes that is necessary, but right now while my kids are so young and think it will be better for me to work with my kids and not get all the tasks done than any other way. There is definitely time and place for kids learning to do things on their own and learning responsibility of a task and blah, blah, but I'm not at that stage yet with my kids.
The articles also point out that service and gaining Christ-like attributes are a result of family work and the ordinary everyday tasks that we have to do so often. I'll have to remember that when I am sweeping the floor for the fourth time in the same day, or wiping up the 3rd glass of spilled milk, or whatever the situation is that usually leaves me frustrated and feeling down. As I set my sights higher and maintain a spiritual view on these physical tasks I hope to transform my way of thinking and focus more on the positive aspects of housework rather than the negative - let them fill my soul rather than empty me emotionally.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cute Girl

Becca is such a cutie, and she is at a fun age 18 months. She is full of smiles and loves. I love that she can understand so much. Her vocabulary is limited, but if I ask her questions she correctly says yes or no.
Becca is a people person. She loves to be around people and does not like to be left out. If the boys are going outside and shut the door before she gets there, she cries because they left without her.
At night she loves to snuggle up and drink her bedtime bottle while I rock her in the rocking chair. If this routine gets messed up and someone else tries to put her to bed she protests.
Becca knows her mind and knows what she wants and what she doesn't want. When ever she wants to go outside she brings me her shoes to put on her. When I'm getting her dressed there are certain clothes she likes more than others and will protest if I try to dress her in something she does not like.
Becca brings joy and love to our house and I am very thankful for her.

Monday, June 23, 2008


I haven't done much on my computer lately. I was on such a roll last month, and this month has been so sparse.
A few weeks ago was the Smyth family reunion and I took this picture of my two boys with three of their cousins (Spencer's kids). Richard's family wasn't able to come, so we were 3 cousins short. The five cousins pictured are very close in age and have a lot of fun playing together. I wish, and they wish, that we lived closer so they could get together more often.

I spent the morning doing a quick clean of the whole house and ended with mopping. Mopping is such a chore - I have about 1000 sf of laminate flooring and it is such a workout. Now, 5 hours later after mopping I am still tired. I remembered why my good intentions of mopping more often never happen - it's too much work to mop more often. I really want to put in carpeting in my family room - that would eliminate a fair amount of work. I do love when my house is all clean. I'm trying to get into better routines so that it doesn't pile up and become such a huge chore to clean. In efforts to get my children more involved in daily cleaning I've set up a point system that they have to earn a minimum number of points just to be able to play and then they can earn even more points if they want to do something big, like go for and ice cream or go swimming or such. They earn points not only for doing a chore, but also obedience points for doing it when I ask (ie, not dawldling and telling me just a minute 500 times) and they also get attitude points when they do it with a good attitude.
It's been great so far. Last week when Charlie asked if he could go outside and play I asked him if he had earned his daily points yet, he still had to earn one more point, so he asked what he could do to earn that point, and then he quickly did it so that he could go outside. I also like that this way we can focus on one or two big activities for the week to work towards "remember, we are earning points to go swimming on Thursday", etc. It helps keep them motivated and it helps so that I don't have to tell them "no" all the time when they ask to do this or that.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Temple quarry hike

Saturday we went on a hike as a family. The kids and I just got back from Idaho on Friday and it's been almost two weeks since we've seen Jeremy. It was a beautiful morning for a hike. The kids love being outside and hikes are a fun way to enjoy nature. This hike is the "Temple Quarry" hike that goes along the trail where the pioneers took wagons to get the basalt stone that they used for the foundation of the Temple. We didn't do the whole hike, and so we didn't see the actual site where they took the rock from, but the whole hillside is littered with these stone. It's interesting because the sun turns these rocks blacker and blacker over time, various rocks have varying degrees of blackness on them. Even though we were hiking by 9 am, it was still quite warm and that is one reason we didn't hike the whole trail. Becca was a great trooper and she walked most of the trail on the way up and then we put her in the backpack carrier for the way back. We spotted a few lizards and Tom almost stepped on a desert tortoise. Jeremy said this is the first time he has ever seen a desert tortoise. There is lots of protected BLM land in St. George for the tortoises, but Jeremy has never seen one before. 
Jeremy kept reminding us "hydrate or die"- That was what he learned on his river rafting trip, some of the other people on his trip kept saying that and it stuck with him.
Jeremy took our small digital camera on his trip with him and the LCD screen on the back got broken, so now when we take pictures we can't see them. The camera still works and all these pictures were taken with that camera, but it is odd to not be able to see what the pictures look like - kinda like the old days before digital cameras. 

Friday, June 06, 2008

trip to Idaho

Tuesday was travel day. I loaded up my three kids and headed to Idaho. We are having our annual Smyth family reunion. Jeremy didn't come because last minute he was presented with an opportunity that he couldn't pass up - a week long river rafting trip down the Colorado in the Grand Canyon. He was able to go for the cost of the helicopter ride out when the trip is over and didn't have to pay the other $2000 the trip regularly costs. So he got it for about $200.

So that left me to travel alone with my kids to Idaho. I was worried that Becca would give me fits and not travel well. She nicely surprised me by taking two naps and her awake times she looked at books and played with toys and entertained herself. She fussed a few times, but Charlie would hand her a new toy or book and she was good for a while more.

We are having a wonderful time visiting with family and the kids are loving spending time with their cousins - Spencer's kids. They are all close in age and enjoy playing with each other.

The weather is not nice. It is windy, windy, windy. The kids haven't even asked to go outside today, so we've been in the house doing projects and watching movies. Mike, Susan, Debbie and I went to a session at the Rexburg Temple. This was my first time there. It is very beautiful. My parents are ordinance workers there and have 2 shifts a week. It's wonderful for them to have a temple so close by.

I'm hoping tomorrow will be nicer weather so we can play outside games and get out the water games for the kids. We keep our family reunions pretty low key - we just like getting together and spending some time with one another.