LESSONS FROM MY LAST: What My Final Baby Taught Me

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I became pregnant with my 10th child when I was 41 years old.

Initially, I was totally mortified. In fact, I felt like a terrible disaster had occurred in my life. I dreaded my first prenatal visit. I avoided the grocery store. I was hesitant to face my cute, skinny friends who were already finished with bottles and diapers. I was convinced that my pregnancy—and our upcoming child—meant the end of my independence and freedom.

I wondered how I could go into public at my age carrying a carseat. I worried about the impact of another baby to my already busy family—our nine older children and my husband. I felt exhausted at the prospect of adding one more child to our home. In short, my 10th pregnancy sent me into a spiral of self-doubt. Surely, I reasoned, this baby would be nothing but a burden for our family.

But I was wrong. In fact, I was dead wrong. My pregnancy was not a tragedy, it was a tender mercy. My 10th baby was an incredible blessing that I did not anticipate.

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Now my baby is almost 4 years old. He is everything to me. He is everything to my husband and to our nine other children. He is the light of our lives. We can’t begin to imagine a world without him.

IMG_1633.JPGHe is the sparkle on our cold, dark mornings. He is a ball of blankets to hug and hold when we are lonely. He is the first person we all want to see when we come home after a long day. His toddler words and laughs and antics are the softest and sweetest and most comforting. He is the last smile we seek at night. He is the spice in our world. We love him dearly.

IMG_2138.JPGAnd, in addition to the fact that we adore him, all of our previous parenting skills have gone completely out the window. No more motherhood theories. No more trainings or teachings or natural consequences. He eats his ice cream first. He sleeps in our bed. He gets McDonalds nuggets for lunch. He stays up past 8pm. In fact, raising our baby is SO. MUCH. FUN.

IMG_1579.JPGWhen he wants a toy at the grocery store, I buy it. When he needs new shoes, we pick out the cutest ones. When he asks to ride the merry-go-round, I let him. This is my last chance at parenting, and I aim to enjoy every minute. Continue reading

Take a BREAK! (Every Mom needs one…)

The most constant element of motherhood is EXHAUSTION! It doesn’t matter if you have one child or ten children, parenthood is demanding.

Strings that are ALWAYS taut eventually lose their ability to bounce back, and mothers are no different.

I recommend taking a break AT LEAST twice a year! Spend time with your hubby, by yourself, and as a couple. AND, rejuvenate your whole self: spiritually, physically, mentally, and socially.

TRUE LOVE – A Tribute to my Valentine

I love love. Not in some sissy way or anything like that. I love love because it’s real and sustaining.

I first met my husband when he and I were both 18.
I know. We were terribly young. “Love, like youth, is wasted on the young.”

It was love at first sight. Really.

Neither one of us admitted it during the following years of our courtship, but I would have married him that first day if he would’ve asked.

He was that good. And that real. And that solid. And that true. That’s how love should be.

Continue reading

Family Calendaring: One Key to a GREAT Year

Last week we held FRANCIS FAMILY FROLICS. What’s Family Frolics, you ask? It’s our annual family planning conference.

All successful businesses and organizations make an annual plan–and our families should, too! Remembering the past, calendaring for the future, and setting goals are all keys to a meaningful and productive year.

Our planning sessions (Family Frolics) are simple. They generally have three elements: -Remember the past (record favorite happenings from the previous year),

-Establish a Vision (set goals for the new year), and

-Formulate a Plan (create a calendar).

That’s it! Simple, right?

Well, that’s almost all we do. Mingled amongst our discussions and planning, we PLAY!

This year we embarked on a cross-country adventure, a first! Now that we no longer have babies, we felt that all of our kids could survive on skis, and we were right!

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We had a blast enjoying the beautiful Utah mountains, and the adventure was a perfect memory during Francis Family Frolics.

Check out my Vlog for more tips on holding your own fun Family Frolics.

Christmas Change – The Miracle of Scrooge

Published in the Deseret News, December 26, 2018. Read it here.

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This year marks 175 years since the publication of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

During December one year we read the iconic story for our early-morning family scripture study. Don’t worry, we weren’t apostatizing. We continued to read from the Bible; but my husband also wanted to share Dickens’ touching tale with our children.

I loved hearing the familiar words as I made breakfast each day. The old English terms and phrases were delightful and filled with humor and meaning. In fact, as Dickens wished in his original preface, the tale haunted our house “pleasantly” during the month.

Although the story is familiar, it brought on new life that year. In addition to our daily reading, several of us also attended the theatre production. Lines from the book that had become dear to us were shared dramatically throughout the show.

Of course, Ebenezer Scrooge is the villain – and hero – of the story. The descriptions of Scrooge are comical but clear. “The cold within him froze his own features.” “He carried his own low temperature always about with him.” And, “even the heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet…often ‘came down’ handsomely, and Scrooge never did.” In other words, Scrooge is cold and hard. Continue reading

Papa’s Song: The Story Behind the Story

Papa’s Song Booklet

A young girl, torn between childhood and adulthood, finds comfort in her father’s Christmas lullaby. This short sweet story includes the Christmas Lullaby sheet music by Cy Coleman and Peggy Lee. Papa’s Song is sure to become a Christmas classic for any heart longing to be home for the holidays.

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Our family Christmas tradition, “Papa’s Song,” started over 40 years ago. Since then it has been translated into 23 languages and shared around the globe. Hear the story behind the story from the original Papa, my Dad!

Mothers of the Mayflower

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One hundred two passengers. Twenty-four children. Nine cats. One cargo ship, ninety feet long. Sixty-four days on a stormy sea. A possible recipe for disaster—at least in this day and age.

If I had set sail with my children, I would have preferred a private room, catered meals, and disposable diapers. And I would have requested a cruise liner instead of a 1620’s trading vessel. Continue reading

Happy? Halloween

I love holidays. But I must admit that Halloween is a bit scary. Take it from a mother’s point of view: nine children = nine costumes. Crazy! How creative and artistic can one parent be? Not to mention the dreams of my over-zealous 4th grader. “Let’s all be Harry Potter figures this year!” she plans. “Daddy can be Dumbledore, you can be Professor McGonagall …” (I can’t even fathom adding two more people to the dress-up list.) However, there are a lot of possibilities with a big family.

Continue reading