They Coached the Coach

“What better way is there for me to spend quality time with my kids than to be their coach? I have to take them to practice anyhow.” That was my reasoning at the beginning of this season when as a  mother of five and a part-time college student I was already feeling stretched. Little did I know that my kids didn’t need me to be their coach as much as I needed them and their team to be my trainers.

volleyball head

I’ve loved volleyball since I can remember. I played on the JV team in high-school, and quit before I had the chance to reach any braggable level of competetive skill. But for a recreational league I knew I would be “good enough”. When I showed up to coach training they didn’t even warn me that coaching has very little to do with skill and a whole lot to do with modeling and mentoring.  They let me learn the hard way. Best gig ever.  Learning the hard way is my super power.

Let me just start by confessing our season record. 1-7. Yes, that’s one win and seven losses. And, yes, you can stop reading now if you are anything like I was eight weeks ago in believing that the wins are all that’s important.

You see, my lesson #1 was this:
Winners are not those who never fail but those who never quit.

I started with a really inexperienced team. We got our butts kicked over and over again, but I taught them the basics and told them to master them. I promised them if they could just get down their bumping and serving we would be good for the tournament.

These girls never quit. They kept working. And on Saturday we have our last tournament game. We go into it 3-0. Yes, three wins. Zero losses. If we win tomorrow, we will be the league champions. They never quit. And I’m so glad I never did either.


Lesson #2: Actions speak louder than words. Actions are determined by thoughts and beliefs.

One time when we were losing badly, I hurriedly sent the team back on the court without the traditional team cheer. I was distracted, frustrated and worried about how as a coach I was letting my team down. I had just ran on about mechanics and with the impatience of the official raining down on me, I pushed the team along without any encouragment, a sweep of the hands and a, “Just go.” My daughters informed me on the way home that Olivia had looked at them both with anxiety all over her face. She felt bad. Coach was mad and disappointed. My lack of positivity brought the whole team down.

what you say

That brings me nicely to my third lesson:
You can only teach someone who wants to learn. You can only learn when you want to be taught.

My daughter Bella has been struggling with her serving the entire season. Last night before the game I was determined to get her serving perfected before the game started. I took her aside and dug in. “You need to keep your arm straight. Hold the ball steady. Don’t start so far back.” She refused to move up six inches. The more I tried to explain how her balls were falling short that exact length, the more she shut down. She ended up in tears. It’s not a proud moment.  Thankfully my husband came over and asked me, “Alice, is it really worth it?” She didn’t want to learn what I had to offer, yet I still wanted to stuff it down her throat. Both she and I had really fragile feelings for the whole first set. It wasn’t worth it. Unless you call her first two perfect serves from too far back worth it. Like her mama, she is out to prove a point. For the record, I know now I was wrong. I’ll never forget the horrible sinking feeling I had while watching her sit on the bleacher and cry.


Lesson 4: Change is progression.

I’m the kind of person that holds my ideas and opinions tightly. I feel like if I need change I failed. Volleyball has reminded me that the only thing that defines failure is being too rigid to progress. At the beginning of the season I was using a lot of practice time on cardio and strength building. I realized early on that my team needed more time on the ball. I had to completely change our practice outline.


And last:
Always, always, always focus on the positive.

It took me six losses to figure this out, but on a positive note, I guess there are slower coaches to be found somewhere. In the beginning of the season, I kept harping on the girls about what they were doing wrong. They couldn’t  bump the ball for the life of them, and so I determined to force competancy on them.

Meanwhile, the other teams were not just mastering bumping, but also learning new skills too.  Or so it seemed to me. I decided that I had to change my approach. I started finding ways to compliment each player. I dished out praise like Halloween candy. I demonstrated and allowed time for practice and encouragment. I continuously repeated how much I believed in them. I told them the could win. They started to believe it.


I can’t really explain the beautiful experience it is to jump around a court like a crazy kid with a team full of girls that you know you helped to learn the lessons of champions.  Last night, as I watched them high-give and congratulate each other with joy written in each smile line, my heart swelled. I was so grateful that they coached me way more than I could have ever coached them.

Update (next day)

We won. My favorite part was when we all sang “We are the Champions” in celebration.




You’re Gold.

I’ve thought many times that I should dedicate this song to my girls.
They are gold literally and figuratively.
If you don’t get it, remember our last name is Gold.
I married into a great last name, but even better than the name is the fact that I am a mother to four beautiful daughters who are truly golden. They shine so bright and make me the richest woman in the world.

you're gold

Here are Bella and Sophia mining for gold at The Mormon Batallion Center last week.

I was impressed today by this video made by a bunch of old stuffy Mormon clergy.
It touched my heart as I thought about these old dudes putting aside their stodginess to get a very important message out to the youth that they are called to lead.

You’re gold. You’re all gold.

We had a lady get up in church yesterday and talk about her newly appointed position as the suicide prevention specialist for the state of Utah. She talked about how excited she was to get out an important message to the kids in the state of Utah. Her message is the same: You’re all gold. She said she may not be able to teach them the gospel, but somehow she would find a way to get the message into the kids….they are of infinite worth.

This is a concept with which I have a personal struggle. In fact I received a message today from another lady from church. She sat through a lesson and heard a comment I had made. She took a moment today to say this to me:

Just thought I would pass along this quote to you after what you shared in Relief Society. It’s something I’m working on too! “One of the greatest weaknesses in most of us is our lack of faith in ourselves. One of our common failings is to depreciate our tremendous worth.” Elder Perry We need to try to remember that we are daughters of Deity and are so loved. Have a Great Day! P.S. My impression of you is you seem very giving and an incredible mom.

This beautiful little note was such a contrast to the barrage of texts I got last Friday from a disgruntled family member. [Noted: She had every right to be upset with me after my last post that I ignorantly shared and very promptly removed  – My hubby helped me understand that although my quest for honesty is very noble, I can’t force it upon other people or air their dirty laundry] Anyhow, I heard what she had to say but she kept dishing out advice via many texts. It was overwhelming and I couldn’t even process all she had to say. I just agreed with her and tried to keep the interaction to a minimum. She was right, I was wrong, but the circumstances reminded me of my own tendency to think I should control how other people do or do not act instead of just loving them where they are.

How much more motivating it is to hear a person tell me one good thing about myself. In fact, it’s a million times easier for me to to take advice when I know someone truly believes in my worth and wants to lift me up. I am praying specifically this week that God will help me see everyone as the gold that they are, especially within my family. I also hope that my very overwhelming experience from last week will help me remember to keep my compliments at full-tilt and my advice to minimum.

{Family member if you are reading this – which I hope you are not – I love you – I understand you – We are very much alike – I have processed and reprocessed everything you had to say and will try to be better – Please don’t flood my phone with texts again. My heavy heart can’t handle it. Today I am just working on trying to remember that you are gold, and the even harder task is convincing myself that I am gold too.}

I am proud of my children. {there, I said it.}


All one needs to do is look at my instagram feed to know that I am overly proud of my kids. The other day a friend said that we win as the most photographed family of all time. (proud of it)

As I look over on my feed showing on the right of this blog, 12 of the 20 pictures are of my kids. There is no shame on instagram. That’s probably why I love it so much. (In fact the photo in this post is originally from instagram.)

Even if you find this post a year from now, I can promise that the ratio of  my kid pics to my other pics will be about the same. I may have to quit instagramming all together when they move out, or stalk them like paparazzi. [I like the idea of getting a dark pair of sunglasses and an SUV and following them around the country.] Poor kids. They are going to need therapy.

I am a prideful person. Very prideful. Pride is my Achilles heel. I try to keep it in check, but with my kids it seems impossible. As a religious person I have sought answers as to whether or not I am going to go to hell for the way I feel about my kids.

These two quotes from two of my church leaders have been of infinite assistance.

In terms of your happiness, in terms of the matters that make you proud or sad, nothing—I repeat, nothing—will have so profound an effect on you as the way your children turn out. ~Gordon B. Hinckley

I believe there is a difference between being proud of certain things and being prideful. I am proud of many things. I am proud of my wife. I am proud of our children and grandchildren. ~Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I’ve concluded that if God meant for us to never have pride, he would have never given us children. Pride is a parental privilege. It’s an emotion I plan to keep for eternity.

Let me make this clear. My pride for my children is not wrapped up in what they accomplish. They can end up in jail and I will still be proud of them for they are mine and my love for them is infinite. I think every parent should feel this way. The children that I worry for most are the ones that don’t have a beaming parent watching their every move in utter satisfaction. What a great motivator it is for children to want to make their parents more proud than they are already.

Yesterday during Bella’s last softball game of the year I got to really indulge my pride. The best proud mom moments here are easily detected by the amount of tears shed. Yesterday was an all-time contender. You see, Bella caught her first fly ball. I watched her playing at shortstop with great anxiety. This is her first softball season and being the new girl she has mostly been confined to outfield. Playing shortstop was already a big accomplishment. She had missed her first grounder and so when the fly ball went soaring in her direction so did this mom’s anxiety. I wanted nothing more than her success. I was hyper-focused and I feel like some mom magic must have guided that ball right into her glove. Such keen focus is normally reserved for jedis but once in a while if a kid really needs help moms can tap into the force. (o.k. not really – it was all Bella)

She caught that ball. She CAUGHT the ball. She didn’t drop it. She stood there staring at the ball in her glove while her jaw dropped because of her good fortune. [She didn’t know I had jedi powers.] um I mean – She didn’t believe that all those softball practices would actually do her any good. But, they did. She had made the third out of the inning with two threatening runners on base. The smile that came across her face was priceless as was her attempt at covering it up.

I wanted to scream out for the whole world to hear. “She CAUGHT the ball. Ah huh, ah huh, that’s my girl”, but for Bella’s sake I kept my cool and my decibel range in check and said, “way to go Bella” as the tears streamed down my face profusely. I was so glad I was sitting on the front row of the bleachers. I have never been so happy for anyone in all my life. Truthfully. It’s a moment I will never forget as long as I live. My Bella got a moment to be proud of herself.

As her teammates congratulated her in the dugout, I knew that Bella, my daughter with floundering esteem would never be the same. After that fly ball she knew she could accomplish anything. She had her moment and I was there to share in it. I thanked God for the privilege and for the justification in my pride.

Oh yeah, they lost the game, but who cares, my baby had her moment! And so did her very very proud momma.

Birdwatching with Bella

2012-05-22 18.12.01

Photo Jan 28, 2 47 03 PM

One way I struggle as a mother is connecting with my children. Bella is particularly challenging for me as she is  my little clone. She tends to be very long-winded and extremely needy in that auditory department. Like me, she is an over-sharer.

It is especially challenging for an over-sharer mom who also happens to be a crappy listener to connect with her child who over-shares and doesn’t listen. You can see how that doesn’t work. “Mom, listen to me.” “No Bella, you listen to me!” We go round and round in circles, neither listening and neither caring about what they other has to say.

I would dare say this problem with Bella is my most challenging as a mom, but then 50 more problems that are currently going unnoticed will abruptly come to my attention. So, let’s just say this is one of my hardest challenges.

But,people, I am here to happily report that I  made a breakthrough this past week. It was so huge that I called my husband at work and explained it through my tears of joy and gratitude. Maybe my “inloveathome” experiment will actually work after all, a little teeny change at a time?

So, what happened? Let me explain by oversharing. Bear with me.

One of our family traditions is taking a walk around the neighborhood after Sunday dinners. The past two weeks, we happened by our neighbor Sue’s house right as she was settling in to watch the hummingbirds feed for the night. The whole family stopped to chat but both times as the rest of the family went on home, Bella and I settled in to join Sue on her porch. I was delighted to see that Bella loved Sue’s bird sanctuary as much as me. Bella didn’t know it, but I have spent many moments alone in the past with Sue on her porch watching the birds. Bella seemed to fit right in with Sue and I, watching intently, enjoying the quiet, and discussing hummingbirds. We discovered that we all had many questions that needed to be answered about the hummingbirds. Sue suggested we look up the hummingbird mating flight patterns online. Unbeknownst to Sue, with one small sentence, she was an answer to my many many prayers.

The next day, as I arrived home after a long day of errands, Bella approached me while I was folding laundry. She had two papers covered with her own handwriting front and back. She informed me that she had been doing some research about hummingbirds all morning. As Bella proceeded to share what she had written I found that I was completely enthralled. I didn’t want to miss a word of what she had to share. It was as great of interest to me as it was to her and I was able to easily listen as she shared. She was providing a service to me by answering the questions I had voiced the day before. In the moment I felt a great love and appreciation for my Bella in a way I had never experienced before. I loved her for a part of her that has always made me batty. She was over-sharing in a way that I respected. Like me and her dad, Bella showed a great propensity for research. Like me and her dad, Bella showed her love for teaching. I was dumbfounded: what a little miracle she is! And to think that I had never taken the time to notice before? I was ashamed. As soon as Bella left the laundry room, I said a prayer thanking God for making this moment happen. It changed me. It made me into a better mother.

Here is a video of Sue and I enjoying a bluejay on her porch over a year ago.  I treasure this small video file for reasons only known to Sue and I. I don’t want to air Sue’s laundry to the internet, but she has experienced two extreme challenges in just a year’s time. At one point I remember writing her a letter while at church: through heavy heavy tears I told her I looked forward to many more excursions on her porch, even though I was 90% sure it was never going to happen. God is good. Miracles abound. I am so grateful for Sue and the time I have spent with her in her piece of heaven called her front-porch. Without Sue I don’t know if I would have ever had this major breakthrough with one of my hardest parenting challenges.

Talking to the Girls about Motherhood {Vlog}

Just having a lazy summer morning with Sophia and Bella.

We interrupt Buffy The Vampire Slayer for the following message…

Contrary to popular belief giving birth is not the hardest part of motherhood, it’s the monotony of taking care of the children physically

forever and ever and ever and ever….

(Oh and I had food in my teeth not because I didn’t brush my teeth the night before but because I had gotten up two hours earlier to take Abigail to soccer conditioning – and yes those are pizelle cookies in my teeth because I love sneaking baked goods for breakfast.)

And for those of you who just can’t get enough, here are more videos of Sophia and Bella at their school’s annual end-of-the-year dance festival a few weeks ago.

When it says 4th grade it really means 5th grade and visa versa….good enough.

Motherhood: less work, more joy.

joy of motherhood

I had an epiphany this morning as I sat on the couch watching the girls get ready for school. One of the reasons I am not enjoying motherhood is because I associate it with work. Someone always wants something from me and I feel depleted much of the time.

I am a really hard worker. Work is an escape for me in a way, so when I am not happy, I just work harder and try not to think about stuff. I use my physical body as a barrier between my emotions and my reality. As they say, “I power through.”

This week at work has been especially exhausting. Tonight is my last night and the relief I feel to mark off this stressor in my life is a lot bigger than I had realized it would be.  This morning after our morning family time, I gave myself permission to just sit and do nothing because I am physically and mentally drained.

I watched as Abigail ran out the door. LG came and gave me a kiss and slogged out to work. (I smiled knowing that he will be tired all day because spending time with me last night was important to him) Then Sophia ran out of her room  and down the stairs to fetch a pair of pants from her laundry basket in the laundry room. She was in a newly acquired shirt (hand-downs are great) and just her undies and socks. Watching her backside try to stealth-fully trot made me smile. She was so cute with her little bum hanging out. It reminded me of when she was a baby. How those baby bums are delightful.

Then Bella came and asked me to braid her hair. It’s not a task I particularly enjoy and because I am usually in bed or running around like a chicken with my head cut off, she doesn’t ask it of me. Just being on the couch made me available for something that makes her happy. In that moment I felt joy. I felt the joy of motherhood.

My epiphany: I am missing out on the joy of motherhood because I allow myself to be too busy to feel it. I have to slow down. I have to quit working so hard. I don’t need to use all my time as a mother working, I need to use a lot more of  my time as a mother to breathe in the beautiful people in my life.

Mini-Me Bella

I recently wrote about Abigail and Sophia.
I always write about Caroline.
Well, today it is Bella’s turn.
She’s a mini-me.
Just look at the picture above
and tell me that
she isn’t a me.
Funny girl.
In the middle of it all.
Just like her momma.
The life of the party.

Sometimes I look at her in
pride and admiration
and wonder why I don’t
recognize her
strong personality traits
in myself and pat myself
on the back.

Other times
I shake my head
in shame
knowing she’s
going to experience
the same life frustrations
as I have.
I wonder if I made her the way
that she is
or if God just sent her
to me so I could have better
glimpses of myself.

I’ll start with the things I love about Bella.

Bella is thoughtful.
She is very aware of the people around her
and their feelings.
This probably stems from her own
deep feelings and sensitivity.
Of course I automatically
go to a bad place when recognizing this.
I’m sensitive too
and it gets overwhelming at times,
but really it’s a spiritual gift to be aware
of possibilities for despair in others
and to know the importance of love and support.

Bella just came home with the school
award for
Remember a few weeks ago
Sophia was awarded with love.
I am amazed at how astute
the girls’ teachers are
in pinpointing their character traits.
Bella is dependable.
She is extremely capable.
She is a lot like me in this way.
She puts all her energy into
what she wants to accomplish.
She looks for ways to help others.
She takes pride in her accomplishments.
You can count on Bella.
She is extremely responsible.

Once again I see the downside in this
because of my own hang-ups.
I know a lot of my dependability
stems from my need to
prove myself
and I wish that I didn’t have to struggle with that.

I love watching LeGrand with Bella.
When she is having her stubborn moments
and I just can’t handle it
because I am even more stubborn than her,
LeGrand will go in and lay with her in her bed
and talk her down.
It melts my heart.
He’s her soothing balm,
and mine too.

We have four kids,
so it’s impossible to have a middle child
but if we had to choose between
Sophia and Bella,
Bella would have to be the middle.
She has middle-child syndrome.
The reason is probably because ever since
she was born,
life has been stressful.
She was born one month
before we trecked across
the country
to law-school
and has always known
poverty (until recently).
She was the youngest of 3 kids
under 5
and her mom
was always had-it.
(This is also my life story)
When Bella was 6,
Caroline was born.
She was old enough to
note when she went
from baby to
somewhere in the middle.

Bella is creative.
She loves to write and draw.
She loves to create stories
and she will read them aloud
Again, like her mom,
it’s as though she feels
things by analyzing
other people’s experiences with them.
This is very intriguing to me.
She’s a kinsthetic learner.

Unlike me,
Bella is really good at math.
She loves math.
Also unlike me,
Bella hates spelling..
Reading is not her favorite thing
but she has grown to like it.

Like me,
Bella can talk your ear off.
Unlike me,
Bella can also listen.

Like me Bella
loves her sweets.
Unlike me,
she is a picky eater.

Also unlike me,
Bella really isn’t
in to sports.
We are hoping she might really enjoy
softball this Spring
when she plays with just the girls.
Her t-ball experience wasn’t the greatest.
Impressive though is the fact that
in our family Bella has the most
sports’ experience.
She has tried
basketball, t-ball, football,
swimming, dancing, and soccer.
Like her mom,
maybe she is destined
to become
jack of all trades
but master of none.

Bella loves to bake.
She is a master baker.
She wants to own her own bakery
when she grows up.

She is proud of the fact
that at 8 years old
she had saved enough money
to buy her own laptop.
The other night she told me
that she would
save enough money to buy her own car
and her own bakery.
I hope she does.
Bella is fiercely independent.
Just like her mom.

Unlike me,
she is great at saving money.
I guess she does
get some things from her dad.
Although for the life
of me I can’t think
of any other paternal comparisons right now.

Bella is insightful
and spiritual.
She recently wrote
her own primary talk
that brought the room to tears.
I wish I could do that.

Like me,
Bella is stubborn.
She’s impatient.
She constantly fights her
desire to be in charge.
She would get
at least 50%
queen executive
if she took the
archetype me test.
She loves to plan parties
and she can carry them out
on her own.
Unlike me,
she’s very aware
of her pride and bossiness
at an early age
and to her credit
she works on collaborating
and humility.

Bella loves music.
She recently volunteered
to sing a solo at church.
She refused to let me
help her practice.
Like I said
she’s a mini-me.

And I love her.

We will have a perfectly happy picture!

My mother-in-law requested family photos for Christmas.
In an effort to keep the Christmas budget,
we opted for my mad raw camera skills.
Yeah, I took one photography class
so that makes me qualified right?
So very wrong.
Add in
a dog on a leash,
a crappy crappy tri-pod
some cold weather
and a
“as stubborn as I’ll get out”
you have me screaming:
“We will get a perfectly happy picture.
Gosh danget.”
That got some smiles.
We can always count on laughter
to see us through.
And laugh, we did.
Like always.
Here are some good outtakes.
I was trying to test the shot
and I had already set the timer
so they entertained themselves
through the 10 sequential shots.
We got a bunch of great shots
and in about 10 of them
Caroline was sticking out her tongue.

I like to call this one
“Don’t drop the dog.”
The funniest part was that
I had no idea this was even happening.

When we got home, 
Sophia came into my room and said,
“Mom I learned something important today.
You can’t put a dog in the simba pose for a picture
like you can a cat.”
It wasn’t until I went in to edit the photos that
I understood what she was talking about.
Please, don’t eat my head.
 These are the best that we got.
I really like how the scarf pose
turned out
minus Abigail’s expression
and the random blanket
on the grass.
Don’t even worry about the discarded
old fashioned sled.
I really don’t know what I am doing.
We got our perfectly happy pictures.

Merry Christmas Faye.
These will be on their way to you
in your Christmas package
as I know you won’t be able to figure
out how to print them from here.

Oh and sorry,
I forgot to do a pose
with LG.

Maybe next year.

The Art Fart

I really hope Sophia doesn’t decide to read the blog today.
I do believe she’d die of embarrassment.
I must write though
because it’s stories like this that I don’t want to forget.

And I do forget.

I forget as early as next week if I don’t write it down.

LG’s been playing with new camera more than me. I love it.
We finally got Sophia into an art class.
She has shown a real propensity for art since she was a toddler,
and I am so grateful we finally have the means to help her along.
Check out her very first project.
I dare you to say she’s anything less than a prodigy.

And now, here’s a little art fart funny from Friday.
I went into the studio to tell Sophia that I was there to take her home.
She was happily working on a picture of SpongeBobSquarePants in colored pencil.
Next to her was the cutest boy about the same exact age
working on what looked like a tribal tattoo.
They were both having a blast doing the art thing while bantering back and forth.
It made this mom very happy to see Sophia in her element.
When you know something about your kid, you just know.
And I have always known that Sophia has the soul of an artist.

Minutes later Sophia bounds out to the car and we head home.
I zone out thinking about all I have to do
to get out the door that evening in time for
a friend’s birthday party and a choral concert of my nephew at BYU.
All of the sudden Bella and Sophia are cracking up.
I ask them what was so funny.
Through fits of laughter they tell me.

Sophia – Nooooooo, don’t tell her.
Bella – I have to. Sophia likes __________!! (I can’t remember his name)
Me – (Not surprised in the least.) What’ so funny about that?
Sophia – Nothing. Nothing.
Bella – Well, Sophia and _______ were messing around hitting each other and being silly.
Sophia – STOP! Bella don’t tell her.
Bella – And then Sophia…
Sophia – (butting in because if the story is going to be told, she’s going to tell it) We were just playing around, and all of the sudden I farted. It just came out. I couldn’t help it.
Me – Oh my gosh, how embarrassing. Did you just die?
Bella – It gets worse mom.
Sophia – So then the teacher comes in and asks us if we need anything.
Bella – And _____________ says, “Do you have a clothespin?”
Me – Did it stink?
Sophia as red as a beat – “I guess so.”

This may not seem funny to any of you, but it’s moments like this when I just love being a mom. It is so fun to watch your kids grow up and become adults who are embarrassed by bodily functions.

Now, here is something to make it up to Sophia whenever she reads this story.
Sophia brought this home last year from school after the class all wrote down anonymous compliments.
She is one cool kid, even with the gassy gas.

And me, you ask?
How’s the photography going?
Well, it’s going when I squeeze in the time.
Here is one of my practice shots
while I was outside the art studio waiting on Sophia.
We are learning about aperture.
Photography is art.
Maybe I should leave it up to Sophia.
It’s a lot more complicated then I expected.
(That’s why I’ve dragged LG into the hobby,
he’s my scientific go-to man.)
Check out my the website of my super cool teacher.

Here’s a photo of another one of my cool kids.
She’s taking a cooking class right now.
I’ve always known that Bella would grow up to be a beautiful cook.
Shooting action is more difficult
especially without the right lens
but here is our Abigail.
I always knew she’d grow up to be a soccer star.
Notice that she’s reading dad a bed-time story.
At 6 pm.
That’s how it goes around here.

Isn’t he cute?
I do believe my car is in need of a wash.
And here is LG’s latest project.
An expose about the life of a housewife.
Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.
All the time.
Even on Sunday.