Posts filed under ‘The Family’

For all those older, wiser folk who stop me in the store

There are a few categories of  comments to people with young kids get at the store.  The first and most frequent comment is… wait for it… everyone together now:

1. “Wow, you’ve got your hands full!”

Frequency: Daily

Number of kids required for comment: 1 +

Tone in which people say it: ranges from friendly to utter disgust

I know (about half of you) mean well by this comment, but please, stop.


This one is meant well but is just irksome:

2. “Enjoy them while they are young! It goes by so fast!”

Frequency: 2-3 times a week

Number of kids for comment: 1+

Tone in which people say it: Friendly

I know you miss those years but your comment only makes the ragged mom feel more guilt. Or lately I feel like saying “I am thank you.” I really DO feel like I am enjoying them as much as I can. We have great times together and with homeschool we are learning and sharing together ALL. THE. TIME. So comments like that makes me want to say “you don’t KNOW me, do you really think I want your advice?” I know I’m in the wrong for taking it in a pushy way and wanting to push back, but it happens all the same.


The next one is not as frequent and somehow always takes me a few moments to process, it’s something the the effect of:

3. “How much for one of them? Didn’t know they were selling those here, where can I get one?”

Frequency: bi-weekly

Number of kids required for comment: 1+

Tone in which people say it: Friendly

Since I have something that is actually for sale at the store active in my brain, when someone says this I automatically think something like “Sure they sell bread here, what in the world are you talking about…. Oh you mean my kids… I have no idea how to respond to this comment, just courtesy laugh and move away from the person, JUST IN CASE they are serious about wanting to by one.”


You know you have graduated to the next level of big family when you start getting this doozy:

4.”Are they all yours?”

Frequency: weekly

Number of kids for comment: 4 + (I don’t remember getting this one with three kids but I may be wrong)

Tone in which people say it: shock

I actually feel pride when I say “yep they are!” Even when it is said with a less-than-well-meaning tone.


The next one requires no words at all

5. The “Don’t you know what causes that?” judgy stare down as you walk by

Frequency: 2-3 times a week

Number of kids for look: 4+

Tone: Rude

Yes I do and don’t you have something else better to do than judge me?


This is the one I actually LOVE and the reason I am writing this post today. This comes from specifically empty nesters or nearly empty nesters:

6. Oh I had “x” amount of kids and it was so wonderful, we used to… (insert brief story here)

Frequency: Maybe a few times a month

Number of kids for comments: 4 (for me)

Tone: Loving

People like this loved their family.  Maybe they soaked up every moment or maybe they wish they could have done more.  Either way, what they have in common is this: When they look at my family, they lovingly remember their own and it shines through their eyes.  They recharge me. They remind me that family is worth it and there is much joy to be had.

As a parent with young kids, it is easy to focus on the hard.  It can be REALLY HARD.  I don’t know if anyone else does this but often times, when I hear the word “hard,” I brush it off like it’s not so bad. Much like when doctor’s use the word “sore.”  I had a very small minor surgery about 7 years ago.  My first experience with surgery really,  and the doctor said, “Take some of this hydrocodone if you start to feel sore.”  What he should really have said is “Take this within the hour or you are going to be in excruciating pain for a half hour until it kicks in again.  “Sore” is a euphemism for excruciating pain. Before I had kids and someone would say “parenting is hard” what they really meant was, is it is going to put you over the edge in what you think you can handle.

My point is, when we are in the thick of it with young kids, it is easy to only see the hard part. It is easy to be discouraged (another euphemism people use I have discovered for “utterly hopeless and in the depths of despair, convinced you are the worst parent ever”) It takes effort to focus on the good.  It takes effort to encourage rather than reprimand.  It takes effort to choose love and communicate. In all this effort to mold a little person into a well rounded individual, it is exhausting and if done with humility, I believe,  all the edges on ourselves get knocked off too.  In the end you can become a loving, selfless, Christlike individual because of all that effort of trying to inspire others to be that way. So after the kids who put you through the ringer are gone, you become a wiser person who’s been though it and remembers “the good old days.” They were “hard” but they were good because they were work.  You love what you put effort into. If there is anything that requires blood sweat and tears, it is raising a family.

I believe these are the people that often stop me in Walmart when they see my gathering of little ones along with me.  The people who came out a better person because of the work that went into their own family.  I see the love in their eyes as they remember the precious days of having little ones and they often tell me a little snippet of what they miss.  They might squeeze my hand or touch a child on the head.  There is no judgement, no overused phrase thrown out to be interpreted however my mood wants to take it that day. Only love, and that is what I, or every mom needs. Love.

To the commenters who want to throw out a one liner, choose:

“Your doing a good job”


October 29, 2014 at 11:40 pm Leave a comment

A Choice to Kick out an old “Frienemy”

When I decided to homeschool, I knew there would be a lot of stress.  Trying to find the right curriculum for your family is pressure, getting your schedule together can be really hard, trying to figure out chores and how your going to make everything work with all your little kids around all the time is really hard.

In trying to get all this sorted out this first year, there is one thing I have found that will instantly sink any attempt to accomplish any of these things.  Something all parents can easily let escape if we aren’t always on our toes.  Especially when trying to inspire someone to learn.  Here it is.  Anger.  Specifically, if I get angry.  So I have made a new rule. Anger is NOT allowed in our house. Ever. By me.

Whatever behavior I do, the kids pick up on and do too.  If I’m happy and encouraging, they are happy and encouraged.  If I focus on their strengths, they are strengthened.  If I see their potential and treat them gently, knowing they are barely at the beginning of knowing what life is about, we all have an awesome day with lots of I love you’s and “Mom LOOK what I accomplished!”  If I’m impatient and rude because they just can’t see what I do for them all the time, the kids are hurt and I’m a wreck feeling like a bad parent, like a “need a break” and discouraged from taking on such a task.

Michelle Dugger from 19 Kids and Counting says when she is feeling angry, she whispers instead of yells.  This was what first inspired me.  That and knowing if we are going to get through this amazing homeschooling journey, there was going to have to be a lot of love and patients. The MOST important change of all is going to have to be within myself.

If I wake up in the morning and commit to being gentle and have a servants heart, we have a great day.  We are all so happy.  The moment I let selfishness creep in, I’m in a bad mood and yelling.  I’m not saying I never get time to myself.  I’ve learned over the years that my “breaks” don’t need to be lengthy. An hour or two by myself, or a nice evening with Nathan, is usually all I need.

I’m just starting to understand the joy there is in losing oneself in the service of others, and there is MUCH joy to be had.  I keep thinking of when the late President Hinkley (of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints if you are not familiar with him, was on his mission in England and he was struggling.  He wrote a letter back to his dad saying that people were cruel and ridiculing and he was sorely discouraged.  He didn’t want to waste his family’s money and maybe it would be better if he just went home.  His Dad wrote back with a single sentence.  “Dear Gordon, Forget yourself, and go to work.”  So he did and he had an amazing change of perspective and a wonderful experience.

Those words are often in my thoughts and when I do decide to “forget myself” and just get to work, my perspective shifts and I’m full of patience and love.

So back to the no anger rule.  This is a conscious every day effort. Some days are rough, some days are heaven on earth, and some days I fail completely.  Luckily there is always tomorrow, and tomorrow is another chance. There are more good days than bad and the great days are starting to pile up too. I know that if I work hard on this it will get easier.  A quote President Hinkley loved that has stayed with me since I first read his biography in high school.

“That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed but that our power to do has increased.”- Ralf Waldo Emmerson

I also put up this saying to help me remember.


I am amazed at the loving patience of children.  Luckily they are made to forgive time and time again. So many times I have felt undeserving of their affection after some emotional rampage. But they still love and forgive completely.  Surly this is a quality meant when we are encouraged to “… becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” Mosiah 3:19

These kids are amazing and they teach me more about myself than I ever knew possible. In this midst of this refiners fire I sometimes get a glimpse of how these experiences will help us become bright and strong in the end.

September 29, 2014 at 11:10 pm 1 comment

Structure for the Spinelli’s

Last week we came up with some new ways to be the worst parents ever.

First, there has been big problems with picky eaters or eating too many snacks or just really not enough structure with our eating habits.  So now the rules go like this.  You must eat your vegetables before you get your plate.  If you choose not to eat than you don’t get anything else until the next meal. Meaning that only that plate of food is available until the next meal.  A dessert will always be available for those who eat their food.  It sounds like common sense when I write it out like that.  However, it is amazing how kids have a way of training you to give into their whining that they don’t like something and then there is a great dinner for Mom and Dad and the kids get chicken nuggets. Again.  The first few days Isaac HAD to have been pretty hungry with all the food he refused but today everyone ate some veggies, ate real food for dinner, and got a brownie.  Less food wasted, less whining, and I think the best part is there is structure now so everyone knows what to expect.

The other thing we started doing was having No Screen days three days a week.  No screen days are the best because everyone is in a much better mood and we spend a lot more time together.
 Honestly this has been harder to achieve regularly because of ME breaking the rules to “quickly look” at the bank account or tracking a package that turns into looking at facebook or editing photos.  Before I know it I’m telling Isaac he can watch a show and Summer is on the iPad and then I give up.  When we DO successfully go the whole day though, it has ALWAYS been a really good day.

This is a game we got for Christmas and it is popular on No Screen days.  You take turns pushing in these pokers into the balloon until someone pops it.  Isaac LOVES it but runs away after the first few rounds because he is afraid of the balloon popping.  Funny kid 🙂

The cheap Walmart balloons are incredibly stretchy.  The three top pokers were pretty much touching by the time it popped this time.


January 28, 2014 at 11:36 pm 1 comment

Christmas 2013


The anticipation of baby Aelynn overshadowed any documentation of Christmas but hey, it is better late than never.  We had Nathan’s parents and my sister Tiffany and her family here for the holiday this year.  It was brave of anyone to come actually because the flu was going through the house that week.  Summer had it really bad when everyone was here.  She had a hard time getting to sleep at night and on Christmas morning we just let her sleep in because she was up late and just felt horrible.

WSP_2399On Christmas eve we made some mini gingerbead houses and attempted to make a train out of graham crackers.  Isaac has his heart set on a gingerbread train and when I (finally) went to Walmart to get one, they were out.




Christmas morning!






Summer came out after everyone else was done with presents.  This is the best smile she had all day poor thing.




It is pretty much tradition for all the guys to play cribbage at every gathering there ever was.  Nathan finally got his very own board as a present from his grandpa.







My silly nephew



and my adorable nieces




More of the kids.





Summer was crying because I got frustrated with her wiggliness. This photo breaks my heart but it is the only one that I caught with all three kids in it by the tree. Sorry Summer, I love you 😦

I didn’t get photos of Grandma Spinelli, Tiffany, or myself.  Sorry family I still love you, I seem to get too focused on the kids sometimes…

January 24, 2014 at 4:32 pm Leave a comment

Aelynn’s story

Warning:  If you are a Hypnobirth person looking for a positive birth story, this is not it.


I got to the hospital a little before 2 and I got my first dose of Cytotec at about 3.  It made things progress pretty well and when I got my second dose of it at 7 my body caught on to the rhythm and labor was really going.  Everything was totally perfect.  I had my breathing and relaxation I was focusing on. Honestly nothing really hurt much at all anyway and I was practicing my relaxation through contractions just for practice sake.  They broke my water when I was a 5 and then I got really scared.  This was really happening and there was no going back.  They were uncomfortable but I was handling it and then when I got to a 7, they REALLY hit.  The doctor came and asked if I was feeling pressure and I wasn’t yet so he said he would check on me in 1/2 hour. About 10 minutes after that I called him back because I was in a TON of pain no matter what I breathed like or visualized. I was done, I wanted an epidural. They called her, but I knew, and they also knew, she wouldn’t get there in time.


First bath

The next part, I was told, all happened within about 5 minutes but that isn’t how I remember it.

When I was preparing for this I REALLY didn’t want to be one of those ladies who screamed.  I didn’t even want to make any uncomfortable noises either.  My mom said she screamed once (out of 6 children).  I was really concentrating on surrounding myself with “good birth stories” to eliminate doubt and negative feelings about natural birth.  I watched some amazing births where the mom is so calm and relaxed. I knew it would be work and it would bring me to top of what I could handle but I foolishly thought I might be able to hold it in.


Every contraction turned into absolute horror. It felt like my insides were being ripped out, so yeah, I started screaming. A lot. I was attempting to breathe or relax or visualize or something but to no avail.  My doctor and Nathan were both telling me to breathe over and over. I was trying.  Really I was, and they just weren’t getting that so yelled at them that it just wasn’t going to happen and to stop telling me to breathe or I was going to kill them.


When I wasn’t screaming I was saying what a stupid idea this was and stupid Nathan and his research about what drugs do to you that would give me the idea to try and do this. I was holding his hand and it wasn’t good enough to squeeze it.  I was holding back digging my nails into him.  I said that I wanted to dig my nails in him and he offered to get me a blanket or something to maim. For some reason it wasn’t good enough for me, it needed to be him (that’s real love).  So he put a blanket or something around his hand (honestly I never saw what he had on there because I didn’t open my eyes much at all at this point) and I dug away.

Luckily for Nathan, I traded beating him to a pulp for the side guard on the bed. I started beating that thing and there was some sort of conversation about breaking the bed where at some point I apologized in advance for breaking it.

I felt like I was trying to tell them (scream at them) the baby was coming a while before they did anything about it.  The problem was I was on my side and they needed me to change to my back.  I was too far gone to tell anyone about the side position of birthing and I sure didn’t feel like I could move to my back.  Somehow I did though and he said she will be out in two good pushes. This is where my preparation came back it.  I was able to get it together enough to think about “J” breathing to get baby out, and pretty much just like that, she was out.

I was happy she was out but I didn’t feel any relief.  I barely heard she was a girl, and that was surprising, but my body was in shock and I didn’t really have a real reaction to the news.  I knew the placenta still had to come and it felt like too much to handle.  Finally that was out and then getting stitches felt like too much to handle.  Moving at all felt like too much.


While all the after birth stuff was happening with me, Aelynn wasn’t making a sound.  The cord was tightly wrapped around her neck when she came out.  She also came so fast that she was also in shock.  It took a good two minutes for her to take her first breath.  During that time the respiratory therapist was giving her oxygen.   As soon as she did though she turned pink and she was perfect.


A big reason why I chose to do it without drugs was that I wanted to see if drugs were preventing me at all from feeling that euphoric feeling afterwards, or preventing the immediate amazing bond people talk about.  I’ve always just felt like “oh a baby!”  I’ve never cried or gotten extra emotional and I thought maybe this would change that.

No. Not at all.  I didn’t even care to see her because I just hurt and was in shock and overwhelmed.

Something I hear all the time was how great you feel afterwards if you don’t use drugs.  This made no difference for me.  Actually I just felt awful.  If people mean more of the longer term recovery, I’d still say last time was easier.

I know you can’t really “fail” at giving birth because there is no way you can stop it when it starts.  You have no choice but to get the baby out.  I don’t think I would have felt like a failure if I did get an epidural in time.  What made me feel like a failure, was not being able to keep it together.  Every woman is different and feels and copes with pain differently, so please don’t leave a comment about how if I did something differently it would have helped.  For me, the pain was far past anything I felt like I had ANY control over.


So onto the more happy stuff.  Aelynn (pronounced Eh-lin) Rose Spinelli.  She has been a total angel.  So far her temperament is very quiet and reminded me of Ahnna.  Ahnna slept until I had to wake her up to eat and the only way to wake her up was to take off all her clothes and even then she had a hard time waking up.  I thought there might be something wrong with her because she never cried.  If Aelynn is like that I will feel very blessed.  She is my smallest baby at 7 lbs 7 ounces and 19 inches.  She is just a cute little bundle and I’m so happy she is part of our family.

WSP_2599 WSP_2596 WSP_2496

January 9, 2014 at 4:35 pm 3 comments

The Real Reason the End of Pregnancy Sucks

For me at least, it isn’t feeling uncomfortable, or lack of energy, or sleep, or feeling unattractive, that really gets me down.  It is the MIND GAME of when-is-baby-going-to-get-here that drives my up the freaking wall.  All day I have been comparing it to a kid at Christmas time.


This was taken unknowingly not long before I went into labor with Ahnna, 2 days over due date.


Baby Ahnna

Christmas is SO EXCITING and you just can’t wait.  The problem with this Christmas is you don’t really know what day it is going to fall on.  You have a ball park idea but it could get here as early as two weeks before or as late as two weeks after the estimated date.  You don’t want to start hoping it might be early but dude, it is CHRISTMAS so you can’t help but think everyday “maybe it WILL be early, that would be so awesome! I’d get to see my presents early!!”

As time passes you just want to do what you can to stop thinking about it because the more you think about it the harder it is to wait (especially since it might get here early.)  Then other people who are also excited ask “oh when is Christmas coming?” or say “You haven’t had Christmas yet?” Or ,”oh man it sure looks like Christmas will be here any day!”  It’s ok, they love Christmas too and you know that they are just happy to see that Christmas is looking closer and closer (and might come early.)


I have NO pregnant photos with Isaac that I can find. I fail. He was one week early.

The kicker question though is “how are you feeling?” This is a loaded question.  For a kid who heard 10 months ago that Christmas was coming and started counting the weeks and is WAY too hopeful that it might come a little early, the real answer is “OUT OF MY MIND WITH ANTICIPATION” but you want to look calm and cool because you’ve had Christmas many times before and you know it WILL come so you know how to handle it.  Nope! Everyday you find out Christmas is not today you feel a little more out of your mind and completely discouraged.  Especially when you feel, yes, Christmas really looks like it is happening right now. Call your mom, pack your bag, we are going to Grandma’s house! (i.e. hospital) Then just when you let yourself get totally excited that this is it, you find out someone lied to you and it isn’t time after all.


Summer belly at 32 maybe 33 weeks

Summer 2011 019

Here she is! (also one week early)


That, my friends, is how it feels right now.  Just need to try and forget about it, relax, enjoy my sleep, be happy with this time, blah blah blah. To that I say HA!  Have you seen a kid not think about Christmas on Christmas eve?  Every day feels like it could be Christmas eve.


New baby at 38 weeks (who hopefully will also be born a week early which would be this Tuesday)

Looking through these made me see I’ve successfully had a different hair color with every kid haha

January 5, 2014 at 4:58 pm 3 comments

Easter (Finally)


A good reminder.

Even though I have found photography to be super fun and I love it, I still have this problem of taking photos while traveling.  Give me a subject and and hour to get some great photos of them I do great,  give me a whole weekend to shoot whatever I want and I get lazy.  I can’t seem to take pictures of everyone we saw even though I feel the people were the most important reason we went.

We visited my brother’s family in Bellingham for Easter.  My nephew Aaron who lived with us had his Eagle Scout Court of Honor the same weekend so we were able to attend.  He did his project while he was living here with us, so Nathan spoke and Aaron chose me to have his mentor award.  I was surprised and honored.  I also dubbed it the nagging award because constantly asking him about going out and working on it was a lot of what I did haha!

On Saturday we crashed an Easter egg hunt one of Mimi’s friend was holding.  Mimi couldn’t go and we didn’t know anyone but I really wanted the kids to get to do a hunt even though we were away from home.  A little awkward at first but Nathan found a doctor that thinks a lot like him to talk to which is rare so I’m glad I drug him along.









Then on Sunday we ate some good food, relaxed, and talked.  Then it was time for Church and we had to head home after that. It was a short weekend but I’m glad we were able to go!






This was the “zombie bunny” because of his eyes. haha



Isaac with Aaron, he was really excited to see him





Yes it is pretty much impossible to get a picture of Summer looking at the camera.

April 13, 2013 at 11:29 pm Leave a comment

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