Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Not-So-Parable of the Stuck Van

It's way too soon to laugh about this (although the rest of the family already has, and Brandon has been laughing about it within an hour after it had happened), but I learned some hard lessons last night about my ridiculous reactions to things.

Yesterday was a half-day of school for the older boys. When they came home, they ate lunch, and then asked if they could play with some friends. I knew the friends they were going to play with, although I didn't know (by memory) the house they would be playing. I didn't tell them when to be home, but we have a family rule: when it gets dark, get your butt home.

The girls came home from school, I cleaned the kitchen, it was getting darker. No sign of the boys. I waited. I waited. I called the house where they were supposed to be --no answer. I called another friend who had gone with them --he was already home and said the boys had stayed at this other house.


I called that other house again. This time, the friend answered and said the boys had already left for home. So, I waited. And waited. And started looking out the windows and pacing. By now, it's pitch black outside, it's almost 6PM (sunset is around 4:45PM), and I'm really worried. Not only were they coming home in the dark, but our streets are not safe for pedestrians even in the light, let alone the dark! #3 had taken his bike, too...

Finally, exasperated, frustrated, I told the girls I'm going to look for them. I went in my stocking feet, got in the van (our Bison. Our 12 passenger van. Because Brandon wasn't quite home from work, although I knew he was on his way home), and pulled out of the driveway. I went down to the edge of our property and that's when my headlights saw the boys, so I pulled over to the left. Brandon, who happened to be driving down our street, had seen me pull out of the driveway and go down the street, and in his confusion as to what I was doing, had followed me. He also pulled over. I rolled down the window, told the boys they are in SO MUCH TROUBLE!!! (and I probably yelled other things, too. I don't remember...) and told them to go inside.

I was so angry. I had been so worried, I was frustrated that Brandon followed me, upset that I hadn't had more patience (seriously, 2 minutes and they would have been home), and I took it out on the van. I started a 5 gazillion point turn (our street is narrow), and in my flustered emotions, I backed one wheel over the edge of the road and onto the grass (we have no sidewalks). Well, dear reader, it was 68 degrees last night. And we have a lot of water in our ground, here. Wanna take a guess at what happened?

I was totally stuck.

I figured I could maneuver it out, but it kept getting worse. Then, in panic, I reversed again, and both back wheels went over the edge. Lovely. I was so stuck, and upset, and crying, and angry, and Brandon, watching me do all of this, just walked over to the van. I jumped out and went to his car and drove it into the garage, while he tried to grapple with the van.

It stayed on the front lawn all night long.

During dinner (making dinner, too), I was so upset. Upset with the boys, upset with the situation, but mostly upset with myself. I was snippy, and cried a bit, and yelled, and pouted (I could blame pregnant hormones, and my mental illness, but it's all of that combined with my weakness of a generally short fuse). FHE made things a bit less tense in the family, and we all felt the tension (i.e. MY tension) release. The boys had felt horrible. Just horrible. #4 had lost a football at their friend's house and they had been looking for it; #3 knew I was worried and he could sense my frustration from three blocks away! They knew they were going to be in trouble. And I made them feel worse.

This morning, Brandon tried to get the van out again (using boards under the wheels, etc.) and had no luck (it's only 55 degrees, now). Since I had to have the van today (I have three parent-teacher conferences and an eye appointment for #1), he called AAA. The tow truck had the van out in seconds.

How I wish last night had gone down:

*I waited for the boys.
*I calmly grounded the boys from playing with friends tomorrow for breaking the rule (I did, in fact, ground them, but the operative word of how I wish I had done it is "calmly.")
*The End.

But that's not what happened, so I just have to admit that I was wrong. I was justified in my worry and the punishment. But the anger? No justification there. My embarrassment, my pride, my impatience? It was so awesome to see all my weaknesses on display for the whole neighborhood and all of my family. And by awesome, I mean, "horrifyingly humiliating."

Thank goodness for repentance. And forgiveness.

And I'll laugh about it later.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Grateful for Brandon

Today, my husband turns 38 years old! I know it's not a significant type of birthday; we're still pretty young, but I find that each year we spend together means something significant --each year we get older is rather miraculous. Not because we're dying (although I guess we could get into the philosophical discussion that we all begin to die once we are born, but who wants to dwell on that!?), but because life is so fragile and we're blessed to have so much of it!

Last year, I wrote about 37 reasons why I love him. The year before that, I wrote 36 random facts about him. This year, I've decided to just share a few photos and anecdotes about his awesomeness. 

He is a handsome man! 

And can be a bit nerdy, too. Cute nerdy! 

See!? Look at that face?! Handsomest guy in the world!

He's a great public speaker and presenter.

And he loves to travel and see new things (like me!):
The Great Wall of China near Beijing, 2010

Island of St. John, 2014

Buckingham Palace in London, 2009

Being goofy by the Shrimp Shack on the highway from Honolulu to Laie, Hawaii, 2011

Waterton National Park in Alberta, Canada, 2008

Catching Fish in the Bay of Banderas in Puerto Vallarta, 2004 

He's a wonderful date!

And he has a brilliant mind:
Wharton Graduation (Executive MBA) 2011

He loves his kids a lot:
Nearby Arboretum 

Fishing in Connecticut

Hiking Battle Creek Falls 

Niagara Falls

Playing a game at FHE

Arches National Park

Avila Beach, California

The "Y" trailhead

Hiking to Stewart Falls

Raymond Parade (Canada)

Riding horses in 2004

Playing catch at the park in September 2014

All in all, Brandon is a very good man. He works hard to provide for our family, and he is always more than willing to serve the Lord. He's a complicated and talented and beautiful soul, and I'm so grateful for our life together. I dearly love him.

Happy Birthday, Brandon. Here's to many more! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Time is Elusive

I was reading through my blog last week with the kids, showing them pictures from when they were little, watching the videos I had taken of them being just adorable, and I noticed something. I used to be really funny! This blog was full of angst, humor, observations, spirituality, friendship, and... well, everything. I was witty, even when I wasn't always smart. I was smart, even when I wasn't always kind. I was kind, even when I wasn't always witty. Anyway, it's interesting to me how the "death of blogs" has really transpired over time, and how even my writing reflects this. I'm also older and bit less confident because I realize the eternal truth we all eventually realize, which is called, "I honestly don't know nearly as much as thought I did."

I hope it doesn't mean I've become more cynical, though. I've always been able to see the humor in a lot of things and I don't want to lose that! Maybe I should tell a joke.... umm, maybe not... Ooh! My house right now is a joke! Ha! Haha! Sigh...

Anyway, here's what's been going on lately:

*Had our first snowfall! It lasted one evening and was gone before noon the next day. It's bitterly cold, but not cold enough for sticking-to-the-ground snow. And after two days of cold rain (and I mean cold and pouring), it's nice to have sunshine. Cold sunshine, but sunshine, nonetheless!

*Removed a tick from the cat last night (that was creepy). We felt horrible because we've been great at the tick repellent on him this last summer, but got lazy about it as it's been colder. The tick was on his head (poor kitty) and alive and huge (because it was full), and I think I got all of it. Brandon held him down while I pulled it out. Btw --cats don't like to be held down while you rip things out of their heads! In case that wasn't an obvious conclusion.

*The last few weeks have been really stressful for me. I had some anxiety attacks this past weekend, but I'm doing much better today. We are just so busy with everything --and even then, it's not much. Maybe it feels like more because everything is so far away? Or maybe it really is a lot? The truth is, I can't even remember everything we do because I have to focus day-to-day. And my pregnant brain (i.e. memory) is getting worse.

*I've been working on getting Christmas finished. Started? Middle-ized. I've purchased things and I've planned the homemade things (just gotta figure out when to make everything when I only have #6 with me. Or after the kids go to bed...). This year we will not be sending Christmas cards (I usually send nearly 400 every year!), because I've decided to wait until after the baby and send something in March. Baby announcement/Easter cards? Plus, we have not had family pictures taken this year (odd for me, I know). I also think that will be better --we'll take them next summer/fall after baby girl is with us and make sure not to skip cards for Christmas 2015. Not doing the cards will save me some stress and I can focus on the gifts for family/friends, too. I'm actually really excited about it because I'm organized this year! Here's our Christmas card from last year --sorry it's so blurry. I believe in simplicity, so it's always pretty this simple (with a small paper with the highlights of our year). Costco is the man!

*We're having some friends over for Thanksgiving! We thought about traveling for it (and had some invitations), but with Brandon's work schedule and all the church things we need to do, we decided that hosting it and inviting some local friends to come would be a better option. I'm looking forward to it! I can't believe it's next week already. Holy cow!

*I've been doing the Gratitude month on Facebook. That means each day I've been listing what I'm grateful for. Here are the first 18 things:
Day 1: Autumn (the colors, the falling leaves, the pumpkin desserts, the smells, the crisp air --everything about it!)
Day 2: Rain ("Some people feel the rain — others just get wet." ~Roger Miller)
Day 3: Chocolate. Halloween chocolate. Children's Halloween chocolate!
Day 4: The freedom I have, as a woman, to vote!
 Day 5: I'm grateful for rubbermaid bins that have now transformed my basement and will forever and ever protect all of my decorations (I'm still trying to figure out why I waited 15 years to transfer everything from boxes to bins).
Day 6: I'm thankful for Relief Society! It doesn't matter where I go or where I live in the entire world --I'm a part of a worldwide women's organization that exists simply to learn, to serve others, and to follow Christ.
Day 7: Today I am grateful for the beautiful soul growing inside of my womb. She is the result of weak and hesitating faith, which was then followed by intense prayer and gratitude. Every time I hear her heart beat and feel her move around, I am grateful for her existence. When people ask me how many kids I have, I now say "seven!" without much thought.
Day 8: Today I'm grateful for (#1). I am grateful God gave us her first, because she is so kind, so forgiving, and so wonderful to raise. I've seen her do remarkably difficult things and overcome so many of her own fears. She teaches me so much!
Day 9: Today I am grateful for music! The time I took to practice since childhood, the hours spent learning how music works, the magnificent men and women who have created it, the opportunities I have to continuously use it in my life... Music is a gift, and I'm so grateful it's a part of me and my life!
Day 10: Today I'm grateful for being a SAHM. I could list the myriad of reasons as to why, but today, it's simply because my 10 year old got sick (fever) and I didn't have to cancel anything or work around things in order to be here to take care of him because I'm already here. I'm grateful I have the choice; I'm grateful I can do it, even when I'm not great at it!
Day 11: it was the Veterans!
Day 12: yesterday I was profoundly grateful for Costco, for my energy to do some winter prep bulk shopping at Costco, for my kids who helped me haul the stuff to various correct places around the house, that we had the money to shop, that we have food so easily accessible, that I have a refrigerator and freezer to store food, that we have electricity running through a house so that we may store food safely. Basically, I'm grateful for the ease I have in which to feed my family. It's incredible!
Day 13: Okay, we have wood, a generator, food storage (building it up, still), water, camping gear, winter clothes, and lots of blankets. Be gentle with us, PA, even though I can now say: "bring it on!" (Update: made this my gratitude of the day because I'm grateful we're prepared!)
Day 14: today I'm grateful for my 11 yr old daughter! She is feisty and brave, and has a self-confidence that I have always wanted. She is brilliant and very helpful and we (along with her sister) have the best conversations. She understands wit, sarcasm, puns, and literary humor! I sure love her.
Day 15: Saturday, I was grateful for friends. I have been blessed to meet some pretty incredible people in my life, and I'm grateful for every single one!
Day 16: Yesterday, I was thankful for my 10 year old son. He has an auditory disorder, some anxiety with change, and difficulty expressing himself --but that boy has the kindest heart and works hard through his challenges. He is a wonderful big brother and has many talents, and he's a hard worker. Yesterday, as I watched him in the Sacrament Meeting Primary Program, I cried, thinking about how much he has overcome to simply be able to speak so clearly to an audience, to sing willingly, and to participate. I'm so grateful for him!
Day 17: Today, I am so thankful for my 7 year old son. He is one of the smartest kids I've ever met. He is funny and full of energy; loves to run, read, and play with his friends and brothers. He is always so kind to his younger brothers and I am often blown away by his understanding of the gospel! He is passionate about things and sometimes we can really argue, but I love him and I'm grateful he's my son!
Day 18: Today I'm grateful for the Book of Mormon! We just finished reading it this morning as a family (again) and will start it again in January (we're going to read the Four Gospels in the New Testament in anticipation for Christmas). Every time I read the BoM, I learn something new. I'm so grateful we have it! So grateful those prophets took the time to record such an incredible history, amazing experiences, and testimonies of Jesus Christ. Here's one of the verses we read today:
 "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God." (Moroni 10:32) ‪#‎sharegoodness‬

*I'm almost 28 weeks along, now. I still get the, "when are you due?!?!" questions because I'm large. Instead of being offended, I just ignore it. I say, "Valentine's Day," which is true, but mostly because it's a simple answer and I don't have to dwell on it. If people push the subject ("but you look so big!") I just ignore it and change the subject. I've decided I can't stop the rude people, but I don't have to reply to the rude people. AND HOLY COW --my belly is not public property. Why do people think they can touch my belly just because there's a baby in it? I've really appreciated the people who have asked first (usually women who understand) because then I don't mind (and, ironically, it's only my good friends who actually ask, who I wouldn't mind touching my belly, you know?). Just because I'm pregnant does not mean my body is suddenly public property --sure, it's a public interest, and the majority of people will agree that pregnant women deserve respect and awe because they have life growing inside of them! --but they are still individuals with the right to bodily privacy. *rant over*

*I "get" to go take that stupid glucose test this week. It makes me mad. Mad that I didn't ask if I could forgo it, mad that I have fallen back into the old western-medicinal way of prenatal care and childbirth. I'm angry and frustrated because I swore I would never go back to a hospital if I could help it. Mad because I'm not having this baby at home. Mad that I'm feeling so... mad about it. I have a good doctor and it's a good hospital, but I'm going back to something that (for me) was not as wonderful as what I've now experienced. And this is most likely our last baby (I said that with #6, though, so don't hold me to it! I could be totally wrong about that), and so the thought that I'm not doing home birth when I could/wanted to makes me so... sad. Tired. Defeated. I know, dear reader, you're going to ask, "Then why are you doing it!?" It's so complicated. So complicated. And it has almost everything to do with that evil, awful, stupid thing called money. Women in Utah! Be grateful that home birth is not only supported there, but pretty inexpensive! *another rant over*

*Can you believe that it's almost 2015? 2015. 2015???!!!?!? Will I continue to be shocked by the passage of time? Will I always look at the calendar and just wonder, "where did it go?" and wonder why I seem to watch it slip before my very eyes --without doing much? Sunday was the Primary Program in our Sacrament Meeting and we had four kids in it. It's #2's last year, and #3's second to last year. #5 was singing just about as exuberantly as #3 used to sing, and it made me pause for a minute --when did #3 grow up? When did #5 take his place? #4 will be turning 8 years old in February and a few days after his birthday, #2 will be turning 12 years old. How did this happen? How do our babies, dear reader, who grew in our wombs, who nursed at our breasts, who held our hands, who relied on us for every part of their existence --how did they grow up so quickly? How have they turned into these amazing individuals with their own thoughts, ideas, opinions, talents, dreams, and goals? It goes by so quickly. They are here, inside of me, then near me, then next to me, then further on, and then... they are gone. I'm not ready. I'm glad #1 is only 13. I'm glad she has five more years before she leaves. I'm glad I have more time... this slippery, elusive time...

Monday, November 10, 2014

Healthy Dose of Beauty

It's so easy to focus on what's wrong in my life; the bad things that happen, the frustrating moments, the anger, the hatred, the pain, the... you get the picture. I think that's why a healthy dose of beauty every day helps a lot.

I remember telling my therapist that I knew I was feeling better because I was playing the piano and singing again. I hadn't really sung/played since we had moved here, and about 2-3 months after starting the meds/therapy again, I was sitting down and letting music back into my life. The simple beauty of the music made a world of difference in speeding up my recovery, too.

Here's some more (recent) beauty and wonderful-ness:

*A really fun double-date with some friends on Friday

*Stumbling across this at bedtime and letting them stay up a bit longer rather than being upset at the mess:

*Singing in the ward choir

*Watching our youth present in Sacrament Meeting, yesterday (not the Primary --they'll do their program next week!), seeing my husband accompany one of the songs they sang, and listening to #1 speak, knowing that her entire talk was researched and prepared only by herself, and getting weepy when I saw how much she's grown. (And the truth is, I love watching my husband whenever he conducts Sacrament Meeting. I wish he was sitting with me, but there's something wonderful about observing him so easily.)

*Starting rehearsals for the Stake Messiah Sing-a-long, which will be next month (so excited!) and seeing this sunset sky on the way there (usually our sunset views are blocked by all the trees):

*This Autumn Day (today!):

*Finding this caterpillar, who had made it all they way across the road without being squished or eaten, and watching him finish his journey to the safety on the other side (do you see him?):

*Hearing new words uttered by the 2 year old that sound like actual words!

*Reading Night by Elie Wiesel, again, and weeping for the evil of men, but expressing gratitude for those who overcome.

*Seeing my girls start to branch out more (they're both joining Drama Club).

*Realizing that crying now-a-days really just comes with the pregnancy hormones. I'm not wanting to make light of bi-polar disorder (because it's serious), but I feel like I'm multi-polar while pregnant. My moods are all over the place! I cry at everything. I'm pretty sure I was like this with the others, too, but I can't remember: pregnancy brain, you know. Anyway, I don't feel badly about this. I just let the feelings come and go and try to maintain some sense of patience until they pass!

What beauty and wonderful things have you seen, lately? 

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Halloween (Finally!)

Halloween was a roaring success!

We had a family costume theme straight from the Wizard of Oz. #1 made all the costumes (except for mine, and #2 did most of hers):

My phone battery died just as I arrived at the Elementary school for the parade; luckily a nice mom next to me let me use her camera and she texted them to me:

Trick-or-treating went thusly: Brandon took the four boys, #1 and #2 went with different friends, and I stayed home. Because of our secluded (and spread out --every home is on an acre or so) neighborhood, I opened the door to trick-or-treaters exactly 5 times. I had bought enough candy for four times that, so... Sigh. But it was still fun! When the kids got back, we watched "Hocus Pocus" (a must!) and ate candy like crazy:

(She opted for a warmer costume in the evening!)

Saturday night was our Ward Fall Festival, and we had a wonderful time! Chilli, cornbread, and pumpkin desserts for dinner; carnival games for the kids, a costume parade, and loads of fun socializing. It was a great party!

Sunday was met with gratitude that we got an hour back (although I still think Daylight Saving Time is so dumb). It was a long day, because we hosted Bishop's Youth Devotional (that means dinner and the devotional were in our house). Because of it, we had a house full of youth and leaders, lots of good food, and I had a reason to clean it before and after. Monday morning, I woke up a very clean house and it was awesome!

How was your Halloween weekend?