Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

I didn't send Christmas cards this year.  If I'm lucky I'll get out new year's greetings, or maybe Easter cards as I've done in the past, but I'm not making any promises.  So take this as your Christmas greetings. 

This year has been so full.  Looking back to January, we've been on a ride that we never expected this year.  I never would have guessed that we'd be selling our home and building a new one.  It brings meaning to the adage, "life is what happens when you are busy making plans."  We are already starting to see the blessings of following these promptings to make our home some place new.  I am grateful to our Heavenly Father for the journey He has led us on.  It's been full of learning and growth.  I am also grateful to feel settled again soon.  The in between times can be tiresome.  This month has been a blur as our house gets closer to completion in the midst of the holidays and family birthdays and so many other good things.  Last night I took some time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas, and all of the stresses melted away for a little while.  I know that Jesus Christ came to earth, a perfect, sweet baby, and that He lived a perfect life and died for each of us.  Even though the story of His birth is common and widely told, it still feels personal and sacred to me each time I hear it or read it or retell it.  My knowledge of Him is my anchor, and after this year I feel especially aware of this.  Wishing you and yours the peace that only He can bring!

via Jessica Haderlie

Friday, September 20, 2013

Checking In

I have accepted that while there is a season for everything, this is not currently my season for blogging. Hopefully in a few months that will change, but right now things are sporadic at best, and that's ok.  I do want to remember a few things here and there. I want to remember that last Saturday Nellie took her first steps while I was on a walk to the temple with some ladies from church.  I want to remember that she can't be bothered with anyone trying to coax her and only wants to do it if no one is paying attention.
I want to remember that building a home is equal parts hard and wonderful.  It is a blessing that I am grateful for every day, but it is also not easy.  Shawni, one of my favorite bloggers, posted about her experience with building a few weeks ago.  And then she was massacred in the comments section for "complaining" about the process.  I have hesitated to post much about building for that very reason.  I know that most of the people who read my blog are friends and family who are genuinely interested, but I don't want to seem ungrateful when I talk about the hard things (even though they really are  hard!).  I don't want to lead people down a path of comparison.  I plan to share some pictures when all is said and done, but in the mean time it's not something I want to share every detail about.  I'm happy to talk about it when people ask (and if you have questions, feel free to do so!), but it's not something I want to write about at length.  Progress is being made slowly but surely, and I'm still working on making a few decisions.  As grateful as I am for the process, I will also be grateful when it's over.  I look forward to feeling my time being less divided, because this process ranges from a part-time to full-time job, and I already have a full-time job that I kind of like and that I really want to give all of my energy to.
I want to remember living in this quirky house.  I think the kids have loved sharing a room (minus Nellie).  I will be glad to have everyone sleeping a little more.  I will be glad when light fixtures are hanging from the ceiling instead of piled high all over the house.  I will be glad to have food that doesn't rapidly spoil due to humidity or a fridge that likes to freeze my food.  I will be glad to not feel so displaced, not feeling like I belong much of anywhere.
I want to remember that this week with Sam has been eternally long.  A ruptured ear drum that didn't fully rupture initially led to some long days and longer nights.  The amount of crying has been astounding, and I've felt so bad for my poor boy.  But today he's rebounding and I'm so glad we're turning the corner.
Today I want to remember that the sun is shining and the air is crisp, but warming up a little for the weekend.  Oh, how I savor these last few warm days.  General conference is around the corner, and the anticipation makes me happy.  There are good days ahead.

Monday, August 12, 2013

So hello

Well, there's no easy way to jump back in besides jumping back in, so hello!  Sorry for the extended hiatus.  Summer in our little house has been busy.  Life in our little house is busy.  There is chaos and clutter everywhere making it hard for me to function, let alone think coherent thoughts or write coherent sentences.  The past few months have been devoted to meetings with contractors, swimming lessons, library trips, and attempts to maintain sanity.  Still more contractor appointments to go, but we're getting closer.  Framing has started and it's starting to look like we might indeed have a house sometime.
We returned last night from a lovely trip to San Diego.  We went with the husband's family to celebrate my mother-in-law's completion of chemo-therapy.  We are happy she is cancer free and hope it remains that way!  And what better way to celebrate the good news than galavanting all over southern California in 70 degree weather.  It was fantastic.  I think one of the highlights of the week for me was the beach.  I could have done a whole week of beach days and been totally content.
In other news, the husband started a new job today.  I need to come back and record this story because it's one for the books, but we are feeling extremely grateful for this new opportunity, and the fact that his commute is being cut in half has me beyond thrilled!
In a few weeks I'll have 6 hours a week with only one child at home.  I'm hoping blogging will increase.  In the mean time I have a busy week ahead with back to school preparations and to-do lists that have been put off for a week.  Hope to be back soon!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Best-laid plans

Sorry for the extended hiatus.

We moved.

Despite our best-laid plans to only have to move once, it didn't work out that way.  We're still waiting to break ground on our house (come on, building permit!).  In the mean time, we knew the house wouldn't be finished before our buyers needed to move in, so we found a cozy little house in our current ward, affectionately referred to as our "summer cottage", and moved in over the weekend.  We're all...adjusting.

Somewhere in there Nellie turned 1.  She is in that busy stage, which is not very ideal for moving.  She is sweet and getting more personality all the time.  She still has no teeth, but she's developed quite a love for food and is bottomless.  Her belly gets enormous when she's done eating.  She crawls up on her feet a lot because the tops of her feet are so chapped from crawling. She waves and says a few words and has an extreme love affair with her blanket, or fuzzy, or as she says it, "duddy."  It's adorable.

I turned 31.  We were moving all day, so it wasn't the best birthday ever, but I had friends and family who made me feel special despite the less than desirable activities that day.  My quilt project started 5 years ago was quilt-napped and finished by my amazingly talented sister-in-law.  I am beyond excited about it!  I can't wait for it to find a place of honor in our new home.

I'm hoping to return here soon.  So many lessons I don't want to miss out on writing down.

In the mean time, my current realization is this.  Sometimes I think that if things seem good there's an inevitable cruel twist of fate.  I've blogged about it before- waiting for the other shoe to drop.  But I've again been reminded that there are no back-handed blessings.  Heavenly Father loves us and isn't passive-aggressive.  He doesn't delight in irony or wait to zing us just when things are going along swimmingly.  I need to be more trusting in His plan instead of looking for the dark cloud I'm sure is waiting on the horizon.  Things are good, and I need to remember that there are good things to come.  His plan is always better than anything I could dream up for myself.

Hope you're enjoying summer!


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day





gorgeous pictures of me with my kids by Jessica Haderlie

These four.  I love them deeply.  Although there are a million things I've learned since having children, I also realize that a mother is something I have always been.  In college my friends would tease me about my motherly ways.  I was always keeping things real (aka responsible).  Having children was just a natural extension of my true desire- to care for others.

I've had a lot of thoughts lately about things I want to pursue outside of motherhood.  My deepest desires are all intertwined in pursuits to help others.  I want to help people recognize their worth, improve, and become the best versions of themselves.

Suddenly I realized that I don't need to wish for other avenues to do this- I am already doing it in the very best way I ever will- as a mother.  I am grateful that my greatest desires are being fulfilled in my role as a mother.  It's always been who I am.  It always will be.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mayday

Some years on May day I love thinking about traditions of sharing flowers with friends and celebrating Spring.  Other years, it feels like the cry of distress for falling planes or sinking ships.  This year was more akin to the latter, especially when we woke up to snow this morning (I kept telling myself I'd rather have it May 1 than June 1 to try to console myself).

The past few weeks have been a blur. Two weeks ago Sam had a little stomach flu.  And then Addie.  And then Charlie was sick but never threw up.  And then I got it.  And the husband never did, but the next day he ended up in the hospital for a few days thanks to his Crohn's.  We'd been on the fence for about 10 days at that point as to whether he'd be able to stave off dehydration and turn the corner or whether he'd end up in the hospital.  Crohn's won.  One night his dad was there visiting with me while he was falling asleep.  He turned to me and talked about what a great example the husband is of being cheerful through his trials, and truly, he is.  He learns the name of every nurse, aid, and janitor who comes into his room and jokes and laughs.  He is good-natured and kind, even when he doesn't feel well.  He came home a little too soon and we've almost returned to the hospital several times, but he's doing his best to recover and taking it easy at home this week, going stir-crazy in the process.

He came home last Thursday and Nellie started feeling lousy that night.  Finally on Monday a trip to the doctor confirmed double ear infections- her very first.  In other Nellie news, she started crawling Sunday, just days before she hit the 11 month mark.  She has taken to it with gusto and is trying to explore all over the house.  As glad as I am that she finally hit that milestone, I am not always good at keeping every.little.crumb off the floor, so I'm trying to catch up on baby proofing and on housework in general after how the last few weeks have been.  There is a long list of things waiting for me, but housework is so patient, it always waits.

Sometimes I get a little flustered by people around me who somehow have gotten the mistaken idea that my life is perfect.  It's weeks like these that make me want to call them up and give them a laundry list of the things that aren't quite so perfect so maybe they'll have a little perspective.  Obviously that's not really appropriate, but I have those conversations in my head sometimes when I'm feeling particularly ornery.

Really, I know that I have it pretty darn good.  Everyone has their good days and bad, and we have had a few bad lately.  But even the bad days are filled with plenty of good when I stop to add it all up.  My sister-in-law made a wise observation that maybe those lives that seem so perfect seem that way because we're enduring our trials well instead of moping and complaining all over the place.  I think she may be on to something.

Happy May Day/mayday.  I've had a few things on my mind lately I hope to write about soon.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The eye of the storm

Today was the kind of day in motherhood that could have felt like a failure.  Each child had their own needs that I seemed to have a hard time meeting.  It launched this morning when Charlie wouldn't come get dressed and in my effort to catch him as he tried to run by, I pulled him down onto a small plastic giraffe that scraped down his ribs.  The look on his face was one I'm not sure I'll forget- his lip quivered and his eyes got big as he said, "You...hurt...me" and then launched into sobs caused by equal parts pain and betrayal.

Long portions of the day were spent comforting and consoling over injuries and hurt feelings and wrong choices.  At the time I was supposed to be making dinner, I was feeding the baby, comforting one child with hurt feelings on my lap, one had fallen asleep after some melt-down induced quiet time, and one was off pouting after letting off steam in inappropriate ways. By the time the husband walked in the door at 6, the sleeping child was awake and crying, the baby was fed and playing while inching closer to bedtime, the pouting child was trying to get back to normal after a lengthy talk and my attempts to try to communicate love and forgiveness, and the child with hurt feelings was off playing to avoid chores.  We had some form of leftovers or sandwiches/quesadillas as I played short order cook while the husband left for a night of meetings.

There were several times when I felt defeated.  As I sit here, the evidence of the living that was done in our house today abounds, and I need to restore some order.  There was a whole lot of emotion happening.  But I had the impression come more than once that I shouldn't quit.  Just because today wasn't picture perfect doesn't mean that I wasn't doing a good job.  I was holding it together the best I could, and I'll do the same thing again tomorrow, and some days are better than others.

Somedays I feel like the eye of the storm, the calm as it swirls around me.  Somedays it's not so calm, but I succeeded today in keeping perspective that even if I didn't have a calm moment, the next moment I could try again.  There was a whole lot of forgiveness in our house today, and at the end of it all I think an increase of love.

Wouldn't you know that today was how it was after our family home evening last night on this highlight from Richard G. Scott's general conference talk.  His topic?  Peace at home.  We haven't succeeded yet, but we're trying.

----

For more inspiration, General Conference is available online, and I'm loving going back through to watch my favorites again!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter

image via
As I have thought about Easter this year, my mind again and again has turned to the part of the story beautifully depicted above- the part where Mary returns to an empty tomb.  I can't stop thinking about her grief that in an instant, upon hearing one word, her own name, is changed to inexplicable joy.  A miracle.

I love Easter and although I definitely try to spend time reflecting on the crucifixion and the last week of the Savior's life and the Atonement, I can't help myself from rejoicing in the resurrection.  My heart feels like it could burst when I think about it!  He lives!  I know He does.  And that knowledge changes my life everyday.

Wishing you an Easter full of joy.



Thursday, March 21, 2013

Whirlwind

So remember how we were selling our house?  Well, it sold.  We're under contract.  This week has been a whirlwind.  Our first showing was Tuesday at 4.  We had an offer late Tuesday night.  Wednesday was spent hammering out details of a counter-offer.  Today we're under contract.  

It is surreal and nothing short of a blessing.  We couldn't have asked for things to go any better.  I am grateful and humbled by the blessings that have been poured out.  

And then there are moments I'm caught a little off guard.  I hope when I share the goodness in situations full of blessings like this that life does not appear to be just perky perfect.  It is never my intent to seem like I just have to wish it and it happens or that everything goes our way.  We are blessed beyond measure, but reality exists here just like it does everywhere else.  

I could make a laundry list of the things that are less than perfect, but I don't think there's much to be accomplished by doing that.  I don't need to focus on the things that aren't going well, although they weigh on my heart heavily.  Sometimes I wonder if it would help give critics a dose of perspective to really understand the day to day.  When it comes down to it, my day to day is pretty great.  But everyone has their trials and we're silly to think just because something good is happening for someone that they've escaped their fair share.  

The husband and I take the good with the bad.  We enjoy the sunshine and figure out how to weather the storms that are sure to come.  We try to keep a positive outlook.  And above all, we thank heaven for the blessing to be here together- true abundance.  We have grateful hearts tonight and a knowledge that there is One who is mindful of us and has a plan for our little family right now.  We are so grateful.    

Sunday, March 17, 2013

faces and places




Felt Feb 17 2013 pictures from Christina Felt on Vimeo, pictures by Jessica Haderlie


Somehow, this month has turned into a whirlwind.  March has definitely come in like a lion at our house.  I'm currently bouncing back from round two of strep/sinus infection/flu after round one of antibiotics didn't do enough to get rid of it.  So that's been fun.  Especially when I woke up to round two of being sick on the day we listed our house.  Yes, we did.  We listed our house.

This was not in our plans.  We just finished our basement and made some changes and are finally getting things just the way we want them.  There's room for everyone and room for visitors and space for our family to be as they grow.  But the first time I was in bed this month, I knew it was what we were supposed to do. I had 5 days in bed to think about it and pray about it.  As I prayed I could barely get the words out before I was overcome with peace and warmth that it was right, and that is not how things usually happen for me when it comes to getting answers.  The husband took some time and came to the same conclusion.  Before we knew it we had a contract on a lot about a mile away and a dear friend coming to take decent pictures for us and boxes everywhere as we pare down and put things in storage and clean and de-clutter and our realtor calling with people wanting to see the house while I was sick in bed (I hope "sorry, not today," won't be too much of a deterrent).

I walk through my house right now feeling a little disjointed, knowing that this place where we knew we were supposed to be 7 and a half years ago isn't where we're supposed to be anymore.  It's also interesting to think about who is supposed to be here right now, and what this house will come to mean to them.  I could give them a tour of the room where I've rocked my babies, or the places where we patched the walls after my dad fell through them.  I could tell them about how much salsa and spaghetti sauce I produced out of the harvest of my garden boxes.  I could share with them the countless nights of  chatting shared with the husband and with friends.  I could tell them about the parties hosted and the holidays shared and the hundreds of family dinners around our kitchen table.  We could talk about the neighbors who came and helped build the cover for our deck.  We could talk about the days it took to put together our swing set.  So much to share.

Obviously I am sentimental to the core, but somehow I have also been blessed to feel ready to move on from this space. I know there is somewhere else we're supposed to be, and I'm excited to see how the next chapter unfolds.

In the mean time, I'm counting it as a tender mercy that we had our family pictures taken one more time in this home we love.  Little corners and details were captured that I will love remembering, but more importantly, faces of the people I love.  Moving isn't as hard when I know they're coming with me.


Friday, March 8, 2013

catching up

It's good to be back.  A few days after my last post, I got sick.  Like, I don't remember the last time I was that sick, sick.  I spent Wednesday evening through Sunday in bed with strep throat, a sinus infection, and the flu.  Luckily the husband stayed home part of Thursday and was off Friday through Sunday to hold down the fort around here.  Also luckily I have good friends who will pick up my kids or bring over soup or text me to keep me up to date on life happenings.  Finally by Wednesday this week I was starting to feel like the fog had lifted, and I've spent time this week trying to dig out and get back in the swing of things. 

Being down always brings a good dose of perspective.  I'm grateful for good health.  I'm grateful for the pace of my days.  As exhausting as it may be sometimes, it was hard to lay in bed and not take care of my kids- I missed them and enjoyed the constant string of get well cards and posters they delivered.  I'm grateful for a good support system.  I'm grateful for the ability to be healed- both body and spirit.  

I'm so glad that I'm starting to catch glimpses of spring in the air.  Oh, how I need it.  My kids are stir crazy from what has felt like a long winter, and I am, too.  I'm anxious to dive into projects and clean top to bottom and watch things blossom and welcome change.  

Happy weekend!  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Changes

pretty print with a great quote via 


Today was my last Sunday in my calling as the primary president.  It was a hard Sunday looking into the faces I've grown to love and realizing that I won't be spending my Sundays with them.  It was harder to look in the faces of my own kids.  All of those children are amazing, but to be there with my own and to watch their faith grow and hear them sing has been a gift.

I felt it coming the start of January.  Quiet whisperings to enjoy the time I had in my calling, others helping me think about life with my family without a busy calling, all preparing me for what was to come.  But I'm still left in some ways wondering what's next.

The beauty of it all was being able to go back to the knowledge I've had all along- that Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us- and a plan for me.  I'm excited to figure out what is next.  I'm excited to do things I haven't done for the last almost 5 years that I've been in a presidency (first Relief Society and then Primary).  That quilt that I started ages ago?  I'm planning to get back to that.  The books that have piled up on my nightstand?  I might have time to work on that pile.  And that running that I've been trying to increase?  I think I might just make it happen!

More than anything I'm excited for the increased time with my own children.  I don't have any week night meetings to go to.  I don't have frantic Sundays.  I don't have any lessons to prepare.  I won't be able to stand it for long, but as long as it lasts I'm going to attempt to enjoy it.  I'm going to plan more meaningful family home evenings.  I'm going to increase my one-on-one time with my kids.  I'm going to read more books with them and dance around the house and play trains and legos and polly pockets and tend to the needs of my home and my family without long to-do lists hanging over my head of non-home-related tasks.

And I'm going to come back to this list in the moments I'm not quite sure what to do with myself.  Bittersweet, indeed.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Happy Moments

image via Jessica Haderlie

The past few weeks have been exhausting.  I've experienced a lot of growth, but there have been growing pains along the way.  There is more to share, but I'm a little too tired to process everything that's happened right now and write about it.

At the end of the day, I can say I'm content.  I know that I'm loved.  I am blessed with a husband who adores me, even when I'm not the best wife.  I'm blessed with children who snuggle up, even when I'm not the best mom.  I'm blessed with a Heavenly Father who is completely aware of who I am, who knows me better than I know myself, and who has a plan for me.  I can't think of a more beautiful love than that.

Over the weekend we had family pictures done.  I hadn't gotten serious about family pictures since my dear friend Melissa moved, but after 8 months I decided I needed some Nellie on my walls and in our family pictures.

Enter Jessica and an amazing family session. I can't tell you too many times how much I love having our pictures done at home.  My kids feel, well, at home.  There's so much less stress than trying to corral them in the middle of a field or mountain or other pretty place.  I love these pictures that capture us in various stages within our own walls.  There are few things more beautiful to me than these happy moments at home captured forever.

These happy moments fill my days.  They make all of the growing pains and the life lessons and the hard things balance out.  I can't reflect on these moments and not appreciate that the scales are tipped in my favor, that the good always outweighs the bad, that I have more than I could ever ask for.

Thank you, Jessica, for sharing your talent with our family.  The link above is to the preview- I can't wait to share more!  

Monday, February 11, 2013

TMI

Last week was one of those times I felt like I'd lived every day twice.  Over Christmas break Charlie started potty-training.  We did a bit of starting and stopping because I wanted it to be more of his idea, and the first part of January proved to be just that.  He ended up with a week of potty perfection and I considered him trained.  But then he started having bladder issues.  He would hold it all day long and then have panic attacks at 9 pm because he was about to explode.  I chalked it up to some sort of potty-training induced urine retention, went over it with the doctor at his 3-year check-up, and moved on.  Things got a little better and then he went for almost 10 days without urinating during the day.  I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Last Tuesday he began to seem more off throughout the day, but I thought maybe he was coming down with the strep throat that Addie and Sam had both had the week before.  Around dinner time he was writhing in pain, screaming, and looking at me with panicked eyes as he cried for help and told me we needed to go to the doctor.  I knew he was right, so we loaded up to head to the hospital.  That was after the husband had gone to work at 1 am the night before and returned home around 4 pm.  He ended up coming with me and I worried about my semi-sick, sleep-deprived husband and my really sick son.  An x-ray confirmed that his rectum and large intestine were completely full of stool, and you could have knocked me over with a feather.  He'd still been having bowel movements everyday, even in the middle of all of this urine retention, so I had no expectations of stool retention.

Since then things have been fun, and when I say fun, I really mean not fun.  How does one go about cleaning out a 3 year old?  Is it an immediate process or should we use a gradual approach? I got various answers from the ER doctor and nurses, the nurses on call at my doctor's office, and even my pediatrician's nurse.  We spent two days in panic mode with suppositories and magnesium citrate and talk of enemas until a visit with the pediatrician calmed everything down and we started treating from the top down instead of the bottom up.  Slowly things have started happening and the pressure on his bladder has lessened so he can urinate during the day without as much pain.  And last night from 1-2 am I spent the hour changing a string of diapers finally ending in a grand finale of a code brown.  The husband changed the sheets, I bathed Charlie, and we finally all plopped our exhausted selves back in bed.

He still complains of his stomach hurting.  He's still not totally back to normal.  But we're working on it.  I would say this is definitely in the top 3 most difficult parenting challenges I've come across so far.  I know one day I will want to trade teenage problems for pooping problems any day, but right now, these pooping problems really stink.  Literally.  Luckily we're starting to get to the bottom of things.  Literally.  I'm sorry, I can't help myself.  And there you have it, way more than you asked for and an explanation for why I've fallen off the earth.  I'm working on coming back.

Friday, February 1, 2013

A list for the weekend

Adorable print via Sarah Jane.  I love it!  


Happy February!  Happy Friday!  The sky is blue this morning and it's amazing how I feel a million percent happier when I'm not surrounded by gray.

Our weekend agenda includes a baptism for a special friend, a birthday party for Mr. Sam (even though Addie now has strep, she won't be contagious by party time, so we're planning to seclude her, disinfect, and hope for the best), serious cooking/double meal preparation so I can take some freezer goodies to a friend, and as many house projects as I can cram in before the husband has to go to work Saturday night.  I thought I'd share a few things I'm loving lately to head into the weekend.

-Lenka.  This album is on repeat.  Everything at Once and Everything's Ok are two of my faves, but her music is so fun and happy, just what I need mid-winter.

-This post resonated with me on so many levels.  I worry in the same way.  I'm trying to learn not to worry and just focus on loving exactly like the author talks about.  I am learning and growing and worrying a little less.  I am definitely a work in progress!

-My love for Sarah Jane continues with the start of her printable inspirational prints.  You all know this is right up my alley.  I love a good inspirational print.  Can't wait for more!

-I watched this earlier this week and cried grateful tears and immediately sent my husband an email thanking him for being him.  I am also grateful for my Heavenly Father.



Happy Weekend.  So excited for this month of love!  And almost the 2 year anniversary of Bee!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Currently

-I am currently over the many bugs seeming to be passed around this winter.  So far we've cancelled Sam's birthday party twice, so I'm hoping it comes to pass this weekend.  Just when some people get better others seem to come down with something.  I'm crossing my fingers we can kick sick to the curb.

-I am currently elated that I saw blue sky.  This is the time of year when I question why I live in Utah.  Winter has been particularly winter-y this year, and between the cold and the snow and the frequent inversions, I'm ready to head south.

-I am currently realizing that I bit off a little more than I could chew for a few days this week.  The days I race from one commitment to the next never seem to go very well.  I'm assessing to see what can be cut or postponed, and I don't feel too guilty doing so.

-I am currently menu planning for the rest of the week.  We tried this delicious dinner tonight and it was a great weeknight meal- not too labor intensive but flavorful and delicious.  Beef stew, lasagna, and a new chicken pot pie recipe are on the menu so far for the rest of the week.  Hearty winter fare is definitely winning this week.

Hope you're surviving the winter-time blues.  Three more days until the longest month of the year is over.  I can't wait!


Enough

The weekend after we returned from Idaho with my dad, it was our annual Stake Women's Conference.  We were still very much adjusting to our new schedule and I still had a small baby at home, but I knew that everything at home would still be there when I returned.  The husband assured me that he could hold things together for a few hours, so I left and went to the conference.  I was not prepared for the speaker's message to feel directed to me.  I was not prepared to sob through the whole meeting.  I was not prepared for the promptings that would come almost faster than I could write them down.  I was not prepared to feel the love of my Father in Heaven so abundantly just for me.

The speaker was Emily Freeman, and she spoke on the promise of enough.  She talked about the miracles that happen when we work with the Lord to take what we have and make it more.  She spoke of the abundance that can come when we need a miracle.  I was keenly aware that I was in desperate need of a miracle.  How could I care for 3 young children, one of which was a newborn?  How could I meet the needs of my dad?  How could I continue to function in the leadership positions I held?  How would my marriage hold up under this kind of pressure?  Suddenly I felt a greater peace than I had up to that point, that there would be enough.  Enough time.  Enough patience.  Enough stamina.  Enough help.  Enough love.  Not just enough, but enough and to spare.  

When my dad moved in, he had minimal resources.  We knew that we were not only entering a physical, emotional, and spiritual challenge, but also a potentially difficult time financially.  We had savings that began to deplete as we paid for co-pays on top of co-pays and prescriptions and supplies and COBRA premiums and a variety of other expenses.  After about 4 months, things began to look grim.  We were still wading through red-tape to get a short-term disability pay-out, and we had no promise of Social Security or Medicaid or anything else that might help ease the financial burden.  The husband and I sat down and looked at things and had a talk about how we might make things work, possible ways to improve the situation.  We prayed that night asking for help and went to bed. 

The next afternoon the husband called in the middle of the day.  His voice sounded different and I started to worry at the beginning of the call.  He asked me to guess what he was holding at the moment, and a variety of bad options filled my head- a pink slip? a pay cut? Faith was hard to find some days and I feared more bad news.  In quiet disbelief, he told me that his boss's boss had called him into his office to award him a bonus for his outstanding efforts.  The amount of the bonus was slightly more than a month's salary.  Tears streamed down my cheeks as well as his as we expressed our gratitude for a perfectly timed blessing.  

Cutting checks at the husband's job are a long process.  The award would have gone through approval and red tape weeks ahead of time.  But somehow things worked out to receive that blessing exactly when we had asked for it, exactly when we needed it most.  It was just one of the many times we witnessed the promise of enough.  

As I talked about in my last post, all of us will have times when we experience loss.  But in contrast, I am constantly amazed at the abundance that we find in the Lord.  Miracles are truly waiting for each of us.

In an effort to remember what I've been through taking care of my dad post-stroke and share the growth and beauty that came along the way, I will be journaling this experience as part of Bee a Little Better.  You can find all posts in this series under the label "the dad story".  I hope you'll stick with me as I record this experience.  If it doesn't interest you, come back tomorrow for something different.

Loss

This week has been a bit of a roller coaster.  Thoughts of loss have been on my mind frequently throughout the week, especially with some heartbreaking news at the start of the weekend from a dear friend.  Through it all, I've come back to a song that I first heard a few weeks ago.  The chorus provides such beautiful perspective that all we have comes from God, and that when things seem to be lost to us, they are not lost to Him.  Although this song specifically references loss of a child and loss from adoption, but I feel the application to so many times we feel loss in life.  I am trying to keep the perspective of "what's mine is yours" in relation to the Lord, and knowing that He knows what is needed for all of us.  I am grateful to know that all loss is somehow compensated.




Friday, January 18, 2013

Notes for the Weekend

Look at me!  I'm blogging!  It feels good to write again after being sporadic for so long.  At least I'm writing, because I'm still struggling with the running, and when I say struggling, I mean not having my husband home so I can do it and not having the energy to haul two kids in the double stroller to go do it.  I need to figure out this plan.  And maybe get a treadmill, although I think running on a treadmill is a cruel form of torture, but it may be the only way that I accomplish this running thing right now.

My family has been sick.  The husband was down Saturday through Tuesday, and despite looking like death he decided he had to go to work Wednesday.  That was just in time for Nellie to start her fever which is still going strong today.  Luckily she's sleeping right now.  Unluckily I'm pretty sure she feels awful.  I'm crossing my fingers no one else comes down with it.  

In the mean time, I'm supposed to be planning Sam's birthday party.  I'm a little reluctant to pass out invitations for fear that the plague will continue to take down the rest of the house.  I'm tentatively planning on Monday (thank you Martin Luther King Jr. Day- you come at just the right time), but I may have to wait until next Saturday.  I'm not sure if Sam can wait that long- his excitement levels are through the roof and his patience levels are not.  I'm also a little tired of party planning.  I guess that's what happens with a birthday at the end of our family birthday season- I'm a little worn out by the end of it all.  I'm going to need to dig deep for a little enthusiasm for another party.  

In other news, Amazon has a bunch of albums on sale for $2.99.  A lot of them are so deeply discounted because I'm not sure who would listen to them, but I found a few this morning that were worth adding to my iTunes library.  I'm currently listening to Carole King's Tapestry album and feeling like I'm about 10 again cleaning on a Saturday morning.  Maybe I should start cleaning again while I listen.  I'm hoping to disinfect every inch of this house.  Luckily there is not a lot on the weekend agenda aside from the birthday party I should be planning, so I just might get something done around here.  

Hope your weekend is fun-filled and germ-free.  I'll be back here soon.  Because I do that now.  I blog, you know.  Ha!

P.S. I turned on word verification.  Too many spammy comments lately.  I'm hoping this keeps the computer robots away, but I'm sorry to do it because I think word verification is all sorts of annoying.  If it's bugging you too much, let me know.  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Set-backs

The first weekend of April my brother came to visit, and I couldn't have been more thrilled.  I remember leaving with the husband for two or three hours at a time the firsts day he arrived to spend time together running errands, returning to feed Charlie and then heading back out again.  It was the most freedom I'd felt in months, and I was so glad to have one of my brothers there to share the load, even if it was only for a few days.

After jumping through a variety of hoops in the process of social security disability paperwork, we had finally gotten word that my dad was scheduled for several appointments with specialists who would determine if he would qualify.  The first appointment was with a physician that first weekend in April.

Friday evening we spent time together with the family, but started to notice that my dad seemed a little off.  His speech had become extremely unintelligible, so he tried to avoid talking that night.  His walking was struggling.  After he went to bed we sat up trying to determine what to do.  The training I'd gone through at the rehab hospital along with my personal crash course into stroke management pointed to the fact that my dad was experiencing a TIA or mini-stroke.  At the same time, we knew if we missed the first disability assessment the next morning that our case may not be taken seriously and the appointment would be extremely difficult, if not entirely impossible to reschedule.  We decided to take him to the appointment and monitor him closely in case he got worse.

My brother and I accompanied my dad and arrived at a strange doctor's office.  Offices normally used by physicians were occupied that Saturday morning by the Social Security staff, and the waiting room was filled with a very motley crew.  I sat filling out a stack of paperwork while we waited.  When it was time to go back to the tiny exam room, my dad barely made it.  He could barely talk to the doctor.  When he was asked to do certain tasks, they were impossible to complete.  The doctor got to the point where he would verbalize what he should be asking next, but he would instruct my dad not to attempt it because there was no way he could accomplish what was being asked.  Then he had my dad stick out his tongue.  It went to the side.  He left the room and came back in several minutes later.  He started to tell us that he was not allowed to give out any medical advice, but he asked my dad to stick out his tongue again.  I told the doctor that we were planning to leave his office and head straight to the emergency room, and he nodded in agreement that we were doing the right thing, although he couldn't tell us in so many words.

We headed to the hospital and spent the afternoon and evening with scans and assessments and phone calls and concerns about his current situation.  He had a TIA.  There was nothing we could have done to prevent it, and he may have more.

All of his progress to that point had been wiped clean.  We were starting over.

In an effort to remember what I've been through taking care of my dad post-stroke and share the growth and beauty that came along the way, I will be journaling this experience as part of Bee a Little Better.  You can find all posts in this series under the label "the dad story".  I hope you'll stick with me as I record this experience.  If it doesn't interest you, come back tomorrow for something different.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Six


I love the poem "Now We are Six" by A.A. Milne.  I feel like it was just yesterday when my mother-in-law was sitting on the couch with Addie teaching her this poem, writing it on paper for her to commit to memory, Addie filling in the borders with illustrations.  And now it's time to teach that poem all over again to my Sam.  I just wish it could come true- that they could stay six forever and ever.  

Sam helped teach me that I could do this job as a mother.  Where I spent so many days questioning everything I did as I mothered Addie, I felt at ease and comfortable starting over again with another baby.  I prayed the entire time I was pregnant with him that he would be a happy baby.  My prayers were answered.  

There are so many things I don't understand about how he ticks- the second born is a bit of am enigma to me.  He moves at his own pace.  He is a slow starter.  He is sensitive to the core.  But he says the most sincere prayers that frequently bring tears to my eyes.  Since my mother-in-law has been diagnosed with cancer, I don't think there's been a prayer where he hasn't prayed for her cancer to go away or for her to get better or feel well.  He prayed for my mom not to be frustrated by the snow during a snow storm.  He prays that Nellie won't cry and that Charlie will share.  Listening to him pray reminds me of feelings I felt years ago rocking him one night in our blue gingham glider.  He is a special boy meant to do great things. Happy Birthday to my sweet Sam.  

"Now We are Six"

When I was One,
I had just begun.
When I was Two,
I was nearly new.
When I was Three
I was hardly me.
When I was Four,
I was not much more.
When I was Five,
I was just alive.
But now I am Six,
I'm as clever as clever,
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.
-A.A. Milne


Monday, January 14, 2013

Our new schedule

After arriving in Utah, the string of appointments began.  My dad needed to get established with new care-providers to continue his recovery.  I spent a while looking through his provider directory and mapping things out in relation to my home.  I was concerned about location because I knew I needed to balance the needs of my kids with the needs of my dad the best I could, so I was hoping for things close to home.  
Within days of our return, we met with Dr. Ling.  She would be my dad's primary care provider and help to manage his stroke recovery as well as his diabetes, blood pressure, and other health problems.  At our first appointment I tried to explain my desire for home health as I still had a newborn and thought it would be helpful so I wasn't spread so thin.  I envisioned a physical therapist coming to work with him in his own environment, along with a nurse to help monitor him occasionally. She thought it was good for my dad to get out of the house and denied my request.  I should have realized that this would be the beginning of negligent care as our questions and needs seemed to fall on deaf ears.
Because home health was no longer an option without doctor's orders, we met with a physical therapist, a kind, practical man named Jerry.  Over the coming months, he worked with my dad to improve his balance, mobility, and strength.  Gradually his appointments lessened from three times a week to twice a week to just weekly until sometime that summer Jerry told me he felt that we'd probably come to the end of the road with physical therapy.  Any progress that would continue would be more of a blessing than something we could expect.  
After getting into a routine with doctor's appointments and physical therapy, we added speech therapy to the mix.  The problem was that the only speech therapist in the provider directory was about 30 minutes away, but we decided it was worth a try.  It only took a few visits with the young, curly-haired hippy before we realized that this therapist was lacking the experience and skills necessary to help my dad.  
It was difficult to watch my dad try to improve.  In the beginning we were so diligent about his stretches and exercises.  We'd sit at the dining room table as he would stack cups or put quarters into cups or reach items that we'd place barely out of reach. I bought hand weights and ankle weights and balls and puzzle books and mirrors and anything that anyone seemed to suggest may help.  We kept a crazy pace going to appointments 3-6 times a week.  My in-laws and kind friends helped watch my kids as I figured out which appointments I could bring them to and which ones they couldn't attend without being too disruptive.  As we got more relaxed about helping him to do his exercises, I gained a lot of guilt about any lack of progress.  I was sure it was my fault because we weren't helping as much as we should.   We really did see a lot of progress until the first weekend in April.  Then everything started over. 

In an effort to remember what I've been through taking care of my dad post-stroke and share the growth and beauty that came along the way, I will be journaling this experience as part of Bee a Little Better.  You can find all posts in this series under the label "the dad story".  I hope you'll stick with me as I record this experience.  If it doesn't interest you, come back tomorrow for something different.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Collecting my thoughts

My brain has been overflowing lately.  Things I need to work on, things I need to do, sorting out some life lessons, gaining perspective and understanding, learning more everyday, improving ever so slowly, it's all there.  One of the things on my resolutions list for this year is to write.  I look back on the times I've documented my life and those words are treasures.  I was lamenting how few recollections I had of my older kids as toddlers, but I found some gems on my old family blog that helped remind me of those times, and I was beyond thrilled.  I started this blog to write part of my story.  And it's a huge part of my story that has shaped the last three years of my life.  It's been three years since my dad had a stroke.  In two weeks it will be three years since he moved in with us.  It has changed me forever.  But I also recognize that that is just part of my story.  There is so much more.  When I think about writing it, it kind of scares the pants off of me.  It's so vulnerable.  But I know it will be good for me to work through some things.  Even if I never hit publish on some posts and they sit in draft form, only for me to read, at least they will be there.  I'm going to work on it.

Another goal for the year that scares the pants off of me? I'm planning to run a half marathon.  It's January 10th and I'm yet to start walking again, let alone running.  I haven't done any exercise since pre-Nellie.  The run is in June.  I'd call it a race, but I know it's not really going to be a race for me, just a run.  I'm scared that I won't follow through.  I'm scared that my body won't be able to push to those limits.  I'm scared that my normal pace of life will take over the times I'm planning to run.  The proceeds benefit local cancer patients who can't afford treatment, and just typing that makes my eyes fill to the brim.  As we're in the middle of my mother-in-law's cancer, it has affected our family in ways I didn't expect.  My kids are becoming familiar with terms that I had no idea about at their ages.  They have a compassion that I can only hope to develop.  Tonight I attended a class on chemotherapy with the other adults in my husband's family, so we can know what to expect over the next six months.  I feel confident going into this knowing that my mother-in-law will come out ok on the other side of it, but it doesn't change the fact that she still has to go through it.  So while she's doing her hard thing, I'm hoping to do a hard thing and run.

I have yet to totally outline my plans for the year, but maybe with the two afore-mentioned goals I should make it the year of doing the things that scare me.  I'm also deep in introspection as I try to rid myself of some of my less-awesome personality traits and trade them in for better ones.  Change is hard.

I am in a place right now with a really soft heart.  There are many things I'm learning, and it's hard to recognize all of those faults and the many hurts left in that wake.  There are thousands of mistakes I make every day.  Motherhood is throwing me for a loop lately, with all of my children seeming to have various needs and circumstances that I'm not sure how to meet.  After a few days of potty-training success, Charlie decided it was more fun to explore urine retention and spent a few nights screaming at 11 o'clock at night as he finally could no longer hold all of the day's liquid in his bladder.  Potty training is currently on hold.  Nellie won't eat solids and I'm really ready for her to have another food source besides me.  The most she's eaten are a few grains of rice, 3 bites of avocado just today, and a spoonful of sweet potato.  I've never had a kid who didn't like food this much.  Just when you think you've figured things out, another child comes along and throws you for a loop.  It is hard to gain confidence in motherhood when each child needs such different things.

And there you have it.  A fraction of my current goings-on.  All that to say I'm hoping to be back here more.  And when I'm not, I'm hoping to be running more.  And when I'm not, I could list a hundred other things I'm hoping to be doing, but I'll save those for another day.

Happy weekend.  We have a baptism to attend and a few primary things to pull off and probably a pile of snow to play in.  Hope your year is off to a great start.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sweetness

Addie in the celebration dress she changed into so she wouldn't mess up her white dress for church the next day!  
Last Saturday Addie was baptized a member of our church.  At age 8 we believe that children are more understanding of their choices and the promises they're making.  She was full of all things good and sweet. I loved sharing a few private minutes to talk to her as I helped her get changed out of her wet clothing and into her baptism dress.  I talked to her about the feeling she was experiencing (besides being all wet) and the promise that she can feel that same clean feeling every week as she partakes of the sacrament.  I talked to her about the importance of choosing to be baptized and how this is a wonderful decision that can be followed by many more good decisions in her life.  Before we went back to the meeting I stood with her in front of the mirror and encouraged her to take a mental picture of that moment.  There are a few fleeting images from my baptism cemented in my head, and I wanted her to have a few of her own to look back on over the years.  She received a sweet blessing from her dad as she was confirmed.  I couldn't have asked for things to go any better.  We came home to celebrate with family and friends over brunch, and everything was completely lovely.  I am so grateful for this good girl and her desire to choose the right. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

All things

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When I was at BYU I took multiple religion classes from Todd Parker. One of my most memorable lessons learned in one of his classes was the gospel principle that all things testify of Christ. He gave example after example of things in our world, things we experience, that can all be paralleled to the Savior. As I've been thinking about embarking on a New Year, I realized yet another example of this principle. I think it's more than appropriate that the New Year comes just the week after Christmas. The holidays soften our hearts. Beginning with the gratitude at Thanksgiving, our hearts and minds continue to soften through Christmas. Our focus shifts from ourselves and as we focus on Jesus Christ, we reach out to others and feel the blessings of charity. The grand finale of it all is the New Year, a chance for all of us to set goals and start anew. It finally clicked for me how fitting it is that the New Year is the capstone for the holiday season. Annually, packed into a 6 week period, we have the opportunity to reflect on our blessings, reflect on the Savior, and make changes. It is truly the Savior that softens our hearts and inspires us to change, and the Atonement is what makes it possible for us to change. The New Year is almost a celebration of the Atonement- the chance we have to repent and improve! We set goals because of Christ. We feel inspired to because of Christ. And we can improve because of Christ. It is more than a coincidence in calendaring. All things testify of Christ.

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This post was originally posted on my family blog several years ago, but I wanted to share it here.  The past few days I've been reflecting and re-evaluating to come up with a few goals.  I'll be back to share them soon.  Happy New Year!