Thursday, December 24, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
A prominent feature in this deep cleaning whirlwind always includes de-cluttering the desk. I have an image to uphold and I certainly didn’t want my guests to think my desk always looks like the paper shredder threw up on it. So I sorted, filed, and threw away, and somewhere between unused, expired coupons and statements of all sorts, it showed up again.
A Christmas card.
Addressed and stamped.
Unmailed and unopened.
I come across this same card every time I clean the desk and each and every time it goes back there to be dealt with at another time. This ritual has continued for the last twelve months. I can’t throw it away. There isn’t anywhere to file it. I can’t even send it this year. The addressee, my Grandma Viola, died the morning I was to mail it.
My mom phoned me the night before to let me know that Viola had suffered a stroke. She told me that she was still lucid, but she was having a difficult time eating. I’m not dumb, I know what those words really meant…Viola wasn’t doing well and her time left here was short.
I knew that her 93 year old body was failing, as we had visited her earlier in the year and I found her dramatically changed from our last visit. I left the retirement home trying to stave off the flood of tears until I was in the car and my face hidden from the kids. I failed miserably- the dam broke. Luckily, Richard explained to the inquiries of”Why is mom crying?” that it was hard for me to see my grandma so weak, frail, and bedbound. But I knew it was more than that- much more. I knew that this was the last time I would see her in this life.
Even with such knowledge, I had been in denial and figured there was always more time. Now with a phone call, I was facing the reality that time had run out.
I felt badly, that as always, I was behind and hadn’t even gotten her Christmas card mailed yet. Mom said it would be good to send it anyway and perhaps, it would get there in time. So I gathered the card and a family picture, I addressed the envelope, but I couldn’t write the sentiments in the card. Words failed me. How do you adequately express to someone who is dying how much you love them and what the part they’ve played in your life has meant to you? Words were not enough, so I went to bed determined to try again after a night’s sleep.
Moring came and so did the words. But even as I penned those words, walked the card to the mailbox, and put up the red flag, I knew. It was too late. Another phone call from my mom confirmed it. I retrieved the card from the mailbox and laid it in its final resting place on the desk.
Arrangements were made and so was our trip to LaGrande for the funeral.
I have never been one to deal well with death. My emotions run close to the surface and I become the leaky faucet you can’t fix. I don’t cry for those who have passed; I know they have been welcomed into loving arms. It’s the loving arms left behind which are now empty, the great-grand children that are too small to remember the loved one that filled the void, the absence that must be endured until we meet again, that is what I cry for.
I did pretty well at the funeral. I held the tears mostly at bay, forming a headache from the built up pressure, until the reading of Viola’s life sketch. As my mom read about the grandma I had know my whole life, I realized I never really knew her at all. It is a devastating feeling when you learn more about a loved one at their funeral listening to their life sketch, than you did from visiting with them in life. I didn’t know she played basketball, that she worked in a bank, or that she loved to fish the lakes of my beautiful British Columbia.
I simply didn’t know and I hated myself for it.
Grandma Viola is my step-grandma, but since she married my grandpa before I was born she was the only grandma on my mom’s side I’d ever known. She was loveable, quick to laugh, and always had a candy dish filled to the brim, waiting to rot our teeth out and spoil us senseless- just what grandmas are supposed to be. I never felt like I was a ‘step’ down from her “normal” grandkids. She was always interested in how we were doing, what we were doing, she even asked questions about boys, and always wanted to see my latest dance or gymnastic routine. Sure, she lived 8 hours away from us, but we visited once or twice a year, corresponded through letters and phone calls, and I always felt connected. She loved me just like a grandma should. She loved me… that was the one thing I knew for sure- Grandma Viola loved me.
Sitting in the chapel enduring the remainder of the funeral, as I thought about the things I had just learned, I wished for 10 minutes, just 10 more minutes to visit with her, ask the questions I now desperately wanted answered; learn the most important things about her I should know. And now every time the card makes its way to the top of the pile I call a desk, the same wish passes through my mind; last week’ s de-cluttering session was no different, but the answer was.
As softly as the falling snow that flitted outside my window the words fell into my conscious thinking.
“You already know.”
As I stopped to ponder what these words meant, I found that perhaps my Christmas card wasn’t my last expression of love to my grandma, but hers to me.
The most important thing I should know was that she loved me.
And now there are no questions left unanswered.
Monday, December 7, 2009
It made me wonder about the scripture found in Alma 33:7- "And when I did turn unto my closet, O Lord, and prayed unto thee, thou didst hear me."
I wonder if He still hears and answers the recorded prayers of stuffys in behalf of lazy 5 year old boys?
Monday, November 30, 2009
On the way home from our Thanksgiving weekend Ben treated us to this little serenade. No matter how many times we heard it, how out of tune it may have been, or if the words weren't exactly right, it still brought a smile to my face and reminded me that even after a less than stellar holiday, I am a blessed woman with much to be grateful for.
So tonight before the giving thanks of November ends and we head into the excitement that only the Christmas season can instill, I reflect on the performance of a sweet boy's favorite song and I give thanks.
I give thanks for a little spirit that is drawn to the truth of a particular song that teaches him who he truly is and why he is here.
And the part where he still thinks his parents are "kind and dear" is something to be grateful for too.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Cary Grant always has a way of making me feel better. But today Cary's magic doesn't work so well. After all, it is Thanksgiving, and I am sitting in a basement- alone.
It is okay really, when I don't think about what I'm missing; turkey, potatoes & gravy, yams, stuffing, and pie. Really the food has no appeal to me; my tender tummy warns me against it. It is the other things about this holiday that I miss today.
It is gathering with a large group of family, much too large to fit in anyone's home, but we do so anyway. It is the 50 or so (I lost count a long time ago) grandkids & great-grandkids running around in between all the adult bodies perched anywhere they can comfortably or semi-comfortably fit. It's the plotting of the most efficient routes amid the scattered newspaper ads to aquire the best early morning deals on Black Friday. It is catching up with my sister-in-laws while the men catch glimpses of football through their tryptophan induced slumber.
It is the experience of Thanksgiving I miss. The experience of being together.
But luckily for me, I married into a family where they love to be together and do so every chance they can get. Most holidays, monthly Family Home Evenings, missionary comings and goings, weddings, baptisms, baby blessings, and in a family of 10 children there are a lot of those. So now I can happily look forward to the Christmas season and all the family gatherings that will ensue. I can look forward to the experience of being together again.
And hopefully, by tonight or tomorrow, I can look forward to a plate of leftovers.
Those are some things I can definitely be thankful for.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I am not there yet folks. I am having a hard time wrapping my head around Christmas this year and it's bugging me. And then the fact that it's bugging me starts to bug me.
Maybe it's because Thanksgiving isn't even over yet; it is still in fact, a week away, and my children are on their 2nd or 3rd Christmas lists already.
Maybe it's because all my Christmas money is still tied up in a dedicated savings account waiting for its maturity date. That's got to be it... Shopping would definitely make me feel better...
Maybe, it's because I have a cold; my head is foggy and my teeth even hurt, plus being snotty always makes me a little snotty.
Maybe, it's because my hubby's supposed vacation time next week has gotten eaten up by a business trip, yet again...
Maybe, it's because I am stressing over being asked to substitute and teach Relief Society this Sunday. I haven't been in RS for how many years, let alone ever taught it, so I really hope the ladies in my ward like to play concentration and color pretty pictures to take home because that is the type of teaching I'm used to.
But there is one thing I am enjoying about the upcoming Christmas season; something a mother can never use to early in the year, but works particularly well with Christmas only a month a way- the phrase "Santa's elves are watching."
Even the most whiny, disobedient, and unruly child feels the power of that phrase- especially mine. Call me evil, I don't care. A mom has to do, what a mom has to do, to get things done and the phrase is it.
So I unveiled the phrase the other day when I could no longer stand looking at the playroom that looked more like a war zone; complete with overturned furniture and all. Dallin and Ben were given their orders- clean the playroom and remember...Santa's elves are watching. They worked, but I didn't get up there to check it out until yesterday and I found it still needed a lot of work.
Dallin stayed home from school since he threw up during the night in his sleep...first off, before I go on, someone please tell me how that is possible? How can you sleep through vomiting? Anyway, since he was feeling well enough to play soccer in my kitchen, I figured he was well enough to clean. So I herded them up to the playroom along with all of the phrases:
Monday, November 16, 2009
A few months ago, we came home from church and I began making Sunday dinner. True to form, I turned on my laptop, opened iTunes, clicked on 'Church Music' and hit the play button... and Led Zeppelin's "D'yer Mak'er" started playing. Not exactly the Kenneth Cope or Afterglow type music I was expecting.
I knew I had clicked on the right play list, but I double checked to be sure. Sure enough I had the right playlist, but ‘Church Music’ had been added to by about 100 songs that were definitely not church music. I figured that either my playlists got crossed somehow or church music had really changed in the last week. Anyway, I spent a good hour moving all the non-Sabbath worthy songs and forgot about the incident until about a month ago.
With Benjamin in pre-school he has learned his ABC's and a month ago that was his favorite song. He would sing it over and over and over and over... I was experiencing the same eardrum gouging symptoms I have been having lately. Figuring that distraction was my best line of defense against the never ending ABC song, and since our Primary program was about a week away, I decided to download all the Primary songs we would be singing into a playlist. It was pure genius. We could practice and learn the songs we desperately needed to and hear the ABC’s sung in different keys, tempos, and expressions- as cute as they were, a little less.
When I told Ben what I was planning to do, he sat excitedly waiting for the songs to download. They finished and I clicked play… and “Don’t Tread on Me” by Metallica started playing.
I don’t think I have ever moved as fast as I did right then to stop that song from playing any longer.
Ben was wide eyed and at a loss of what was going on and questioned why I stopped the music. You try explaining to a 5 year old why we can’t sing Metallica songs for the Primary program… It’s not so easy.
So I checked the playlist and sure enough it had happened again; non Primary songs had been moved into the Primary playlist. I was getting a little miffed at iTunes about now, but you know what, it sure made me take a good look at and think about the music I have downloaded. Still, I had no idea what was going on with iTunes or why this kept happening.
But I have a theory.
I will tell you, but only….if you promise not to laugh.
My computer is possessed.
Back in high school I had this boyfriend who listened to the above mentioned group that begins with a ‘M’ and ends in ‘etallica’ and after spending much time with this boy, I grew to like a few of their songs. These songs just happen to be those which I downloaded, right before this iTunes music switching happened.
Call me paranoid, but now these songs sit unchecked as not to be played in one of my 'less active' iTunes playlists.
So in the end, since I am now a mother and must be forced to grow up and cast off my bad habits, I guess that some things really should stay back in the glory days of high school… right along with old boyfriends.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
My runs were even worse. I was supposed to be building up my mileage to make it through the upcoming race, but found myself barely making it through 2 & 3 mile long runs. My legs acted like they had no clue what I was trying to make them do and my stamina had decided to take a vacation.
I was frustrated.
I decided the time had come for me to do something I had been putting off all summer. I went on e-Bay and ordered a Garmin running watch with GPS. I had been wanting one, but figured by running the trail with markers and using a stopwatch I could get away without spending the money and still time myself just fine.
I was wrong.
My new toy arrived and on my first run using it I couldn't believe how I ever got along without it. Running would never be the same. With just a glance at my wrist I could instantly see my pace, know exactly just how much further I had to go to reach my desired distance, and see exactly how long I had been running. It made all the difference. Why?
Because it was feedback.
I knew exactly how my performance was. It helped me realize I was doing better than I thought I had been and it gave me that boost to make it through those hard weeks when all I wanted to do was quit.
A few weeks ago, I experienced a change that caused me to question my performance in a different aspect of my life. Change is not always bad; sometimes it is very good and sometimes it just is. This change was a mixture of the three.
I had been serving in our Primary Presidency for what would be 3 years in March. I was privileged to have served with some wonderful women I greatly admired and had learned a great deal from. We had a great time serving together and had become good friends as a result. Now we were being split up and sent in all different directions with new callings.
As well as being fun, those years had been trying too. We all endured pregnancy and had babies in that time which presented a little more juggling, stress, and chaos. We had husbands who frequently traveled for work or needed to be away for other reasons leaving complete responsibility of our homes and children on our shoulders along with the various other duties we had to fulfill. There were times I'm sure we wondered if it was really worth it, if we were making any difference to the children we taught and yes, there were days we just wanted to quit.
Needless to say, we started feeling a little burnt out.
Then the news came that soon we would all be released. The dam of emotion broke; sadness & relief worry & wonder. At first, I was more relieved than sad. Life was crazy; I was struggling and felt like a change was the prescribed remedy. But as the day got closer to our release the worry and wonder took over.
A small part of me wondered; was it just a time thing that we were being released now? Why not wait until the first of the year or when our 3 years were up? A bigger part of me worried; was I being released because I had become so burnt out that my performance wasn't what the Lord needed it to be or was it simply because a wise and omnipotent Father saw a child's need for a rest?
The next Sunday in church I received part of my answer. The new presidency invited us to join them and the Primary chidren for the last 10 minutes of closing exercises where they presented us with 'Thank You' cards signed by all the children. As I stood in the front of that Primary Room receiving my card in front of all my little friends, I felt completely out of place and like I no longer belonged there.
You would think this experience would make me sad, but it didn't. It was feedback.
I realized it was time. I had my turn and now it was time for someone else to share their testimonies with my friends and to grow from the experience of serving them. My stewardship no longer belonged there; it was time for me to progress elsewhere.
The rest of my answer came a few days later when one of those sweet Primary girls showed up on my doorstep with her mother holding a plate of cookies she and her Primary teacher had baked (3 different kinds- Wow!) and a homemade 'Thank You' card. The cookies were delicious (esp. for breakfast) and the individual gesture was greatly appreciated. In fact, it made all the difference to me.
It was that boost to help me through the tough days where I still struggle.
It was feedback.
It made me glad I hadn't quit and gave me hope that maybe my performance had been enough after all.
Friday, November 13, 2009
The cravings as far as I can figure, are just my body's way of wanting to add to my own figure. You know like an animal fattening up for protection against the cold. That or the weight I have lost is trying really hard to find me again...
BTW- I forgot to list Oreos, french toast with peanut butter and maple syrup, creme brulee, and hot almond punch...sigh.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Ashton took the challenge from his teacher and is working toward a party consisting of pajama wearing, cereal eating, and cartoon watching fun. Knowing this challenge would be no easy task for Ashton, my Nintendo DS addict, Richard, Dallin, and I decided to join the challenge for moral support. It started yesterday and so far it has been pretty easy.
My biggest worry was bedtime. We are bad parents who let their kids watch a show or two while they are nodding off to dreamland, but after FHE last night that was a non issue.
Ashton chose to have a dance competition for our FHE activity. I really hope there are no hidden cameras in my house; although, I would have loved recording Dallin's break dancing (he's actually pretty good), Emma's twirling until she was dizzy, Ashton dancing ballroom style with his little sister, and Ben just trying to get his little body to move with the rhythm. It was hilarious and the type of moment a mother wants to freeze in time. And it wore them out. Completely. Halleluiah!
Oh... are you wondering who won our little competition?
That's right, with a little booty shaking, hip swinging, and the clincher... 'the centipede', I showed them all up!
Whoever said you wouldn't need the stuff you learn in jr. high?!?
Monday, November 9, 2009
Dating is hard.
And it doesn't get any easier once you're married. When you get married the dynamics of dating just change. Sure you don't have to worry about making the right first impressions, but you do have to worry about continuing to endear yourself to your spouse; making him/her think you are still the most adorable creature on the face of the planet even when they wake up to your scary bed head, horrid morning breath, and ruddy, no make-up face every morning.
I am sure it is for this very reason we have been counseled to date even after marriage. Once a week we should take a timeout from mom and dad duties to go out and get away, where we can try to be the cute and charming selves we once were; to reconnect, and remind our spouse why they fell in love with us in the first place. Right? Well, I'm sure that is what they intended when they suggested having a date every week, but in our real world- it does not work.
You know it has a lot to do with budgets and other boring stuff, that I won't get into, but I will just say that hiring a sitter to watch 4 kids while we go away for an hour or two, let alone the 3 plus it takes to do dinner and a movie (cha-CHING!), is not feasible. So we have improvised.
Friday night is Movie Party with the kids and Saturday Night is Mom & Dad date night. Every Saturday between 8:00 and 8:30 the kids are banished to the upstairs and we take our places on the loveseat, him on the left, me on the right and we begin our date. Most often with an accompanying bowl of popcorn or plate of nachos, we catch up with our DVR. Like any other parent who has children with homework and extracurricular activities, there is not time to watch live TV, so we record our favorites like Ghost Hunters, Psych, Monk, & the Mentalist to watch on Saturday night. Sometimes we watch a movie. Other times, like tonight, we sit each with a laptop occupying our lap and we blog side by side. Yes, we still interact; we read each other's work, he gives me suggestions at things I can improve on, and I admire the way he can write. I share fun or thought inspiring blogs I read throughout the week and he catches me up on the news and most things political. We may sound like nerds, but it works for us.
Well, kind of.
See the problem is that the kids never stay in bed, or upstairs for that matter, like they are supposed to. There is always the need for one more drink, a bedtime snack, or one last plea to lay with them. By the time they are settled it is usually near 10:00 and with Richard being a night owl and me being more of a morning person, by 10:30 or 11:00 I have trouble holding my eyes open and I usually fall sound asleep missing the end of whatever we were watching.
I am such an exciting date.
For this reason I decided to surprise Richard for his birthday, which was the last week in October, by taking him out on a real date. I figured it was time that I put a deposit in the proverbial "relationship account" and that really he deserved to go out and not have his date fall asleep on him.
I really love when we do get to go out. Eating somewhere new where I haven't had to fix the meal and going fun places where the only one I have to take to the washroom is myself, is a major draw for me, so I was pretty excited about my little plan. I hired a sitter and when Richard came home on his birthday he was completely surprised to find me dressed up and ready to go out. I wish I could say he was excited about it, but it had been a long day at work, he was bordering on a headache, and I think he really would have rather just stayed home. But he went and did say it was nice to have time with just me.
Since it was his birthday, I told him we could eat out wherever he wanted to, but for a man that travels a lot this is not music to his ears, as it is mine. He determined that since restaurants hold no allure for him, we should just eat in the mall food court since we had decided to see a movie after dinner. So he had a chicken quesadilla and I had Panda Express. Maybe it was not the fanciest of birthday dinners, but it fulfilled its purpose by filling our stomachs, and we headed off to enjoy the movie.
But "enjoy" is not the right word to describe our experience with the movie 'The Invention of Lying'... "excruciating" is probably more appropriate. We both loved Ricky Gervais in 'Ghost Town' and the trailers made the story of 'Invention' look intriguing, so we thought it was a good pick. But from the disgusting opening scene, which thankfully we were spared visually because of a film malfunction, but not audibly, we should have known we were wrong. Richard walked out of the movie more disgusted than he did when we saw 'Happy Feet'.
It was an agenda driven movie basically saying that God is a lie and that religion is just the rules made up to perpetuate that lie. Even if you didn't catch that theme while watching the movie, which I'm not sure how you couldn't, I don't know how any Christian person could not be offended by the end.
I don't recommend it.
So we went home and paid the sitter for an evening of crap (sorry, about the language- sometimes you have to call it what it is) being pushed down our throats, enjoyed Richard's birthday treat of brownies (instead of cake) and tapioca (instead of ice cream), and after the kids were in bed we took our usual places on the loveseat where the usual activities ensued, including watching another movie. And do you know what? I stayed awake until 1am without nodding off once. And even though the rest of the date was a flop, I think that definitely counts as a mini deposit in the 'relationship account' and I should get some credit for at least trying, don't you?
You may be wondering why I am posting this now, after all it is Monday, and no longer Saturday night, well... that's because... you guessed it- I fell asleep.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
These amazing bodies we've been given, I have found, also seem to be made for certain activities. The tall and slender build may lean towards ballet, the more athletic to soccer or football. Now, I am not saying that we are in any way limited by our stature; that would be quite prosaic of me; I may love to run, but the lean grace of a long distance runner is not something I possess. The short, squatty types such as I am, were made for a different type of activity; something I was once very good at. Tumbling.
Now this is when my blog becomes a brag. I'm sorry. But after having 4 children and being almost exactly 2 months shy of my 33rd birthday I feel pretty good that I can still do this. I haven't tried to do it since having my last baby 2 years ago, but I was out playing in the back yard with Ashton today and decided to try.
FYI- Just in case you were wondering...nothing "snapped". Thank you very much, vocal camera boy.
And enjoy we did. The Ash-man and I put the tramp through it's paces before it is covered with a blanket of snow.
Here are some of our 'tramp tricks'.
Monday, November 2, 2009
In years past, we have had everything from superheroes such as Batman & Superman, to our everyday heroes like firefighters and policemen. This year was no different. All 3 of my boys chose a specific hero to emulate.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Obviously, I loved it or I wouldn't be sharing it with you here.
As the music's tempo increased and locales started going by faster, I was excited to see where he would dance next and I even got misty eyed from a couple of different locations that I have an emotional connection to myself. It made me smile, laugh, cry, and think. I identified with the question posed and thought about it off and on for the rest of the week- until Friday.
That's when I saw something that made me appreciate the connections we make a little differently.
First, I have to explain something so you will understand my appreciation.
My eldest child is sensitive. You know the characteristic you hope you won't pass on to any off your offspring, well he got the double whammy. My tendency to worry and Richard's relationship with anxiety fell squarely on his shoulder's.
We realized the depth of his sensitvity a couple of years ago when he started 3rd grade. It was his second year in this school since we had moved back to the states from Canada. He had done really well getting settled and making friends his first year, so we didn't anticipate any problems the following year. The first week went fine.
Then the dam broke.
He couldn't sleep. He couldn't eat. Panic attacks started and so did the inconsolable crying. Going to school was out of the question. He would beg me not to go, but after some coaxing I would get him there only to end up leaving with him in tears. We finally got that the heart of the problem was that there was nobody he knew in his class.
He was the only boy from his previous class that had been placed in his current one and of course, the girls he knew still had cooties. His problem all boiled down to this; it was hard enough to be the new kid and have to make friends one year, let alone two in a row.
The only way to solve the problem though was to go to school. And he did. And eventually he made friends. Things were better, he wanted me to walk him to class each day and would give me the "please, don't leave me here look", but at least he went.
There was a difference in him though. He was more particular about what he did, what he wore, and he became really concerned about what people thought about him. He didn't want to do or wear anything that might cause him to lose the friends and connections he had made. It intensified last year after a bully stopped a soccer game he was playing in to make fun of him.
The boy who used to love to dance in the kitchen with me to Elton John's "Crocodile Rock" won't even dance with me anymore.
That is why I was so surprised and delighted to be able to film my own little 'Dance' video on Friday morning following the Fun Run at the school.
I was only able to get 15 seconds of it- I wish I could have gotten more, but I will take what I could get. Just look at my boy "shaking his thang" with all of his friends (I like to think he gets his moves from me), but better yet... think of the connections he has made to make him feel comfortable enough to do it in public!
The good it did this mother's heart, who has the propensity to worry, was great. And perhaps, it is time I give "Crocodile Rock" a rest... it looks like I have a new dance to learn.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
As a girl I don't remember buying a costume for Halloween. We had an old cardboard box that was full of odds and ends of different costumes and masks that was pulled out and we were given carte blanch to do what we wanted. I remember rummaging through it each year waiting for something to spark my interest, or better yet, creativity. Most of the time it didn't and I was left to come up with something else from other things around the house.
Some costumes I do remember are that of being a baby, a pair of cards with a friend of mine, a punk rocker, and a paper boy, which wasn't much of a stretch, since I had or shared a route for 7 years; the only difference was that I was naturally a girl. But even if my costumes didn't amount to much, the fun I had trick or treating in them did and that is what Halloween was all about.
Each year I am always surprised at the creativity of some new costumes. I always wish I had a brilliant mind that could concieve such creative genius. But over the last few years I have been surprised in a different sort of way when shopping for various costumes. In order for you to fully understand, allow me give you a few examples.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Our particular suite had a kitchen, complete with dishwasher, two bedrooms, and three TVs.
There was golfing to start it off. Sorry, there are no golfing pics because we didn't get there in time. But honestly, we really suck at golf, so it was just as well.