I never could have imagined the experiences, challenges and rewards that come along with the title and responsibility of being "Mom". Everyday my little ones present different needs to be met, new attitudes to understand, stages to conquer, and find new ways to unravel my patience. Despite the challenges, the rewards that come from a genuine I love you mom, a moment of 3 children happily playing together, and even a simple accomplishment bring feelings and emotions that words can't describe. I am ever so grateful for my Precious Little Ones; for their individuality, talents, and the completeness each one contributes to the Cox Clan.

March 24, 2010

My American Idol

Over the last couple of years, Madelyn has joined the fans of "American Idol."  A few nights ago, she asked me what the title of the show meant, specifically the word "Idol". As I began to explain its meaning, I couldn't help think how unforunate it is of the "Idols" or role models this show portrays for my seven year old.  There isn't an episode that goes by that Madelyn doesn't comment on someone's dress being inmodest or a song that says a bad word, or an action that is done in a provacative and inappropriate manner...especially for my innocent little girl.  This led me to think of how important it is that I continually find ways to reaffirm and establish appropriate behavior and standards.  It may be very simple like the music we listen to or complimenting about a modestly dressed young woman at church to Madelyn, or maybe sharing experiences or stories with her of people I know that are my role models. I've recently discovered someone to add to my list of idols...someone who has truly touched and motivated me to be a better person.

I recently picked up a book that has been collecting dust on my bookshelf for years. I have fallen in love with it, or more accurately, I have fallen in love with who it's about.  The title is "Glimpses into the Life and Heart of Marjorie Pay Hinckley."  Before reading this book, I didn't know much about our late Prophet's wife. I remember her being funny, diligently by her husband's side and always wearing a smile.  But other than that, I didn't know a whole lot.  After reading this book, I can honestly say, Sister Hinckley is my new Idol.  I can't tell you how many times I stop and think, "Now what would Sister Hinckely do?"  Whether it's in dealing with my kids or my thoughts about others, or my approach in various situations. There have been countless times I find myself reacting differently, always in a much better way, when I think of her and what I've read. So I want to share (journal for myself too!) some of the highlights of this book and some of those things that have really impacted me.

For being the wife of a prophet, you would think that the position might give her a feeling of prestige and higher social standing.  However, this is not the case! That means nothing to her. Here are a few descriptions made by others:
"One gets the feeling around Sister Hinckely that she is absolutely unconcerned with the fads and fancies of the secualr world.  She is comfortable with kings and queens, princes and prime ministers, but she is just as comfortable-and probably more interested in- the newest member of the Church she just met in a distant land.  You get the feeling that she sees right to the heart of everything and everyone.  The idea that anyone could be false or pompous or self- aggrandizing with Marjorie Hinckley is unimaginable.  She has a radarlike sense of honesty, humility, genuineness, and sincerity."

"If I knew nothing else of Sister Hinckley, that alone would be the testimony of her values and priorities.  She does not do things to impress.  She does them for the right reason--because they make sense to her and to the Lord."

"'Sister Hinckley is so real ' is the description often used in describing her influence in people's lives.  She is not one who would want to be held up as a perfect model to intimidate others.  Rather, she is one of our beloved sisters to walk beside, learn from, laugh with, and follow, knowing that she understands and cares."

Recently I have felt like my children deserve a better mother...someone with more patience, kindness, love, a better disciplinarian, etc. etc. This book has shared great insight about Motherhood for me.  Here are a few examples:

"Have joy in your children" is something Sister Hinckley expressed often.  Love them for who they are; find happiness in the stage of life your experiencing; look for the good in all they do; and most of all, treasure the time you spend with them.  I love the story shared about her son: "One day when Dick had to stay after school for some grade-school discipline, Marjorie marched over to his classroom and announced to his startled teacher, 'You can do anything you want with this boy all day long, but after 3 p.m. he's mine!'"
I found myself questioning my own attitude. Am I excited and happy when the time comes for Madelyn and Mason to be coming home from school, or do I wish I had just a little more time....
Sis. Hinckley emphasized how important it is to just let kids be kids! They're only going to be there once and for such a short time.  So much of their lifetime is going to be spent scheduled, competing, and stressful.  She teaches, "It has never been so important that children have a home that is a place of refuge, a place of peace, a place of unconditional love--even when the report card may not be what you hoped for."
"While you enjoy your days of mothering, be sure your demands on your children for perfection are not so heavy that they cannot be children."
"We all feel the pressure and stress of the sophisticated, fast-paced, complicated, competitive world in which we find ourselves.  Not only do we feel it as adults, but the children feel it too.  Because of TV, the press, and videos, our children are exposed to adult life very very early.  This makes it doubly important that mothers and fathers consciously  strive to make it possible for children to be children before they become adults."
"Praise your children more than you correct them.  Praise them for even their smallest achievement."  When they feel like they can do anything, they will try to do so. 
"Sister Hinckley sincerely believes each one of us has the wherewithal to do the right thing, and she communicates that belief.  Her confidence empowers others to make the right choices." 

I love that.  It's not through force, or threats, or taking prized toys, but confidence empowers our little ones to choose the right.

I find Sister Hinckely's perspective so intriguing.  Kids don't need the pressure to excel in everything they do; or physically and emotionally stretched thin because of too many activities.  Instead, they need love and positive encouragement.  Secular achievements and prestige don't amount for much...not in the big picture.

In the Hinckley home, there were very clear expectations that only courteous and respectful language was used.  The other was just not tolerated. A story was shared that exemplifies this.
"Kathy and her friend Bobbie Olson were playing at our house.  They were about twelve years old.  It was a summer day, and they were in and out of the house, racing around acting their age.  Mom was trying to tell them something, and they ignored her and were probably a little sassy.  They were getting on her nerves, and I remember watching her frustration mount.  They were being in a word, naughty.
Getting nowhere and totally exasperated, Mother finally blurted out, "Damn you girls!"  Well, the world might as well have stopped! I was shocked. Kathy was shocked.  Bobbie was shocked.  Most of all, Mother was shocked.  She froze in her tracks, covered her mouth with her hand, and said incredulously, 'Oh dear, did I say that?'
Instead of staying mad at the girls, she said, 'Oh, I am so sorry I said that.  Can you girls ever forgive me? I think I had better go and wash my mouth out with soap!'  And she did!  That was our punishment if ever we said anything we should not have said, and she wanted to make sure we saw her do the same.
Then she went to her bedroom and sat on the edge of her bed and cried.  I felt terrible.  Kathy and Bobbie felt terrible.  I never heard her swear again."

I wish my kids could say the same about me!!

The Hinckleys' belived that children rise higher when treated with respect. And they learn all about respect in the home.  Sister Hinckely states, "Home is where you are loved the most and act the worst.  But I have come to the conclusion that it is in the home where we are tested the most.  Most of us have developed a pretty good set of company manners that we exercise at school and socials and church and other places, but it is what we are at home that tells the true story of what we really are.  The family unit is fundamental.  I wonder if this was so there would be some area where we would function with our guard down so that the Lord could see what we really are."
After reading this, I had to stop and reread it.  Her statement is so true! But I have never thought of things in that perspective and it makes me want to really be better where it counts the most.

If I were to take away just one idea from this book that represented Sister Hinckley the best, it would be here sincere compassion, love, and interest in anyone she was in contact with.  Many examples and stories were shared by people throughout the book of how personable and genuinelly interested Sister Hinckley was with family, new acquaintances and dear friends. And they all adored and loved her for it.
"Sister Hinckley is like a human magnet who draws people to her.  Whenever she enters a room, she brightens it because of her cheery presence.  She has such a caring way about her that she makes each individual feel as though she were a personal friend whom she would help in any way she could."

"Mother has the ability to see beyond the exterior and look into people's hearts."

"The typical greeting Marjorie Hinckley gives sincerely to literally thousands of people is: 'Hello, my friend." And she truly and genuinely means you are her friend, and what an amazing friend she would be!

I literally could go on and on about Sister Hinckely, how her perspective on life has changed me, and how much I love and admire her strength and example. But I've written enough! If anyone's even still reading, maybe I've convinced you to read the book for yourself!! But I can't stop without sharing my favorite part of the book. It is a bit long, but bare with me...it's worth it!  She states, "We 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 anything, to be what we are.  With all of these decisions we have three responsibilities:
We have a great responsibility to our husbands.  I know it is hard to believe, but almost before you can turn around the children will be gone and you will be alone with him.  You had better be sure that 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.
We have a great responsibility to our children.  Find joy in them. Don't overschedule them or yourself.  You may not be able to take them on exotic vacations.  It doesn't matter.  When  the day dawns bright and sunny, take an excursion to the canyon or park.  When it's cloudy and wet, read a book together or make something good to eat.  Give them time to explore and learn about the feel of grass and the wiggliness of worms.
Now to our homes.  Your home is your own private temple.  Keep it clean.  Put something beautiful in every room for your family to look at. Your home can be beautiful without being elaborate or expensive.  Create a feeling of order and spirituality.  As you create your home, don't get distracted with a lot of things that have no meaning for either you or your family. Don't dwell on your failures, but think about your successes.  Have joy in your home.  Have joy in your husband.  Have joy in your children.  Be grateful for the journey."  

Isn't she so wonderful!  It's almost like she's too good to be true. But reality is that she was this good.  So many people experienced her genuine goodness and honest love for them.  Realizing this has made me think, maybe I can be better.  I know I won't ever be like her but I can sure try...to be a better mother, wife, and friend.  I know I'll never have the experiences she did, being the prophet's wife, watching the growth and success of the church, or sitting accross the table with the most faithful and honorable people in the world.  Most of us will never experience that life but we can sure still live by her standards.  As was said so perfectly, "We can't walk in Sister's Hinckley's shoes, but we can emulate her stride."  That is my goal.

March 12, 2010

Birthday Boy!

Each year, Mason anticipates his special day for quite some time. He loves the excitment, attention, and surprises that birthdays bring. This year was no different! I'm not sure which he enjoys the most... the decorated kitchen with balloons and crate paper; choosing what we eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner; not having to make his bed or do any jobs (which he loves to remind everyone all day!); the presents; the party; the special phonecalls from loved ones; or maybe it's simply because for one day, it's all about him! Whatever the reason, I love making him feel special and helping him know how much we love him.

Mason's 6th Birthday

Bike Birthday Party

Mason and his friends decked out their bikes with streamers, personalized license plates and noisemakers on the wheels.They loved this!

They were then ready for the bike parade.

They had fun racing on the chalk made roads, through the obstacle courses, and most importantly, seeing who could bike the fastest!

Of course, another favorite at the party..cake & ice cream!

We had such a fun day! Thank you to everyone who celebrated with Mason and helped to make this a fantastic 6th Birthday!!