Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How We Help

I've been stewing over this for months almost.  How do I give back to the people that helped us so much through Aaron's birth and death?  How do I contribute to a hospital that bent over backwards for us and then didn't charge us a dime -- I probably haven't said that before.  We've gotten bills from other people but the hospital itself wrote off Aaron's account after filing it with insurance.  And his 6 days in the hospital cost about $75,000.  Such a blessing for us but such an amazing thing for them to do.

Anyway, I try to serve when I can and help ladies in our ward with meals, babysitting, etc. but I've wanted to do more.  Chopper and I have talked a lot about different things we could do donations-wise like giving the money we would have spent on presents every year to the hospital or paying for a missionary in memory of Aaron's 18th birthday (because we would have anyway!).  But I feel compelled to do something now and I think that I've hit on an idea but I don't know how to implement it.

Through everything that we went through, people wanted to help so much.  But other than prayer, there wasn't really a lot that could be done.  Our ward provided a freezer full of meals and delivered meals the nights we were in the hospital.  I had fantastic friends take my kids for me when I needed them to be taken care of and it was all a huge help and a huge blessing to us.

But once everything was done and it was just grief left, there wasn't anything anyone could really do.

I laugh about it though.  As much time as we spent crying in that hospital, the one thing we needed that the hospital did not have was decent tissues!!  It was all those little boxes of medical grade crap that will tear your eyes and nose up after 2 uses.

So last night it occurred to me: a fundraiser for tissue boxes!!  Or even better, get the corporation involved and get specially designed boxes that when purchased allow a portion of the proceeds to go not necessarily to funding research (although that's important) but to supporting families who are going through these medical crises with their children and then who lose them.

There is an organization out there called Newborns in Need that makes quilts and layettes for the burial of babies and I've thought about getting involved in that too but I keep coming back to this whole tissue thing.  Even now I go through so many boxes of tissues because I just cry way more than I ever have.  I've got to think about this -- I really do.  It is heavily on my mind and in my heart.

Monday, May 26, 2014

It's a Happy Birthday!!

I don't remember who took this picture

This is a side note.  We've had two cherry trees on the side of our house that bloom beautifully every spring.  One of them is twisted badly so Chopper had it cut down.  That same day, in the afternoon, we had some major wind and this happened to the second tree!!
So no more cherry trees!!

Abby and I are out examining the damage and she finds cherries!

I'm pretty sure they're just ornamental.  We cut one open and it was red and juicy but hard and very very sour.  But still, it makes me sad that we were producing cherries and now have no trees!!!

Megan's been bringing quite a bit of work home from school.  I toss most of it when she's not looking (she gets really mad if she sees her papers in the trash) but every now and then there's one that I save.  Mostly artwork but I loved this example of her writing and her drawing.  The story says, "On the way she met Megan and they do spins all the way to town."  I'm assuming those curvy lines are spins! 

On Saturday we rented a bounce house for Chopper's birthday.  I know that sounds weird but he wanted the kids to be occupied and happy!  Well it worked!!  And even we got in and jumped.  We sent out a blanket invitation for people to come over and enjoy with us and had quite a few families join in the fun. 

Friday night we had hotdogs and s'mores for dinner cooked over charcoal in the smoker.  No fires unfortunately!  Saturday night Chopper and I went to dinner on a date for Thai food and then picked up homemade tamales on our way home. 

Sunday was the actual birthday so the true celebration.  Chopper slept in all morning (literally!) and then we went to church where William was a terror as usual.  It's now at the point where he starts screaming the moment we walk into the chapel.  It's driving us bonkers actually.  Anyway, breakfast for his birthday dinner and then 37 candles in his cupcakes!! 

Look at that smoke!!!

You have to have something to open on your birthday so I got him a book series he's wanted and then he ordered himself a sound system for his birthday.  He's very very excited about that coming in the mail!

Happy boy because he slept in nursery (not in sacrament meeting unfortunately) so we actually had a really nice birthday evening.  This morning Chopper went fishing and I stayed home but slept in!  The little turkey slept until almost 9 a.m. and the girls watched a movie.  It was fantastic!!  It's a little wet for smoking ribs like Chopper wanted to today so maybe a low-key day at home and a nice dinner.  We'll see.  I hear screaming -- I guess I should investigate.  William is usually the culprit.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Yay It's Official!!

I have a calling again!!  I am officially one (there are two classes) of the Valiant 9 Primary teachers at church.  I am very excited about this for a couple of reasons -- 
First, the senior primary classes are taught from the scriptures for second hour instead of the topic centered lessons of the junior primary.  The curriculum this year is Old Testament and I've been reading it on my own so I'm excited to learn more especially on a primary level!
Second, 9-year olds is a good age I think.
Third, I will be busy during church on Sundays!  I enjoy attending Gospel Doctrine and Relief Society for myself but lately it's led to too much time for my mind to focus on Aaron and watch the ridiculous number of babies in our ward (and I say that with love).  The kids will keep me busy -- no question about that!  
Fourth, I get to hide!!  It can be so hard to be in a primary calling when you're new to a ward or home 24/7 with young children anyway because it can be very isolating in terms of meeting others.  I am actually very much looking forward to being isolated.  It's been really hard for me lately to put myself out there.  I have really good friends that I've been leaning on and spending time with a lot so I haven't been completely anti-social but I'm actually really looking forward to the bubble.

At home we've been pretty quiet too.  The end of the school year is approaching quickly -- only 3 more weeks to go.  But with only one child in school and she doesn't participate in any extra school activities like band, choir, etc. so it hasn't been too crazy around here.  I'm looking forward to the summer even though we won't be taking any vacations.  My parents are moving so they're out and Chopper's mom isn't really in a position to receive small guests.  Perhaps we'll do a family trip for a long weekend or a few days or something some time this summer.  The girls would love a beach trip!  And then Abby's off to preschool this fall!  Which reminds me that I need to get her paperwork in . . . 

Life is quiet but life is good.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

100 Happy Days!

A friend of mine has invited me (and others -- I don't think she's targeting me!) to join in a 100 Happy Days challenge.  It's just posting a picture of something that makes you happy every day.  And I'm doing it!  I enjoyed the picture posting over Easter and I think this will be nice.  I even like it a little more than just writing it down because I have to look every day for something that I can take a picture of that makes me happy.

So my personal goal is to make it a different thing every day.  I figure many of them might be similar or closely related but I think I can do it!  100 different things or moments that make me happy!  I think I'll try to post on the blog though at the end of each complete week (so every Wednesday) because I don't necessarily get on the blog every day.  But I'm excited!!!  If you're on Instagram or Facebook, they'll be there every day.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

I'm OK!!

Chopper told me he was worried about how much he should do for Mother's Day -- would it be nice or send me over the edge?  And I did seriously consider skipping Relief Society today but was more or less ordered to go by friends and actually I was ok.  In fact, the only tears today have happened while watching "Call the Midwife" and that happens anyway!!

But that doesn't mean it hasn't been on my mind.  I guess the big difference is that I am a mother and I have 4 beautiful children, one of whom is temporarily on vacation from our family.  My heart aches for my friends who don't have children because they've been unable to and there is nothing anyone can say or do that makes that better.

But I've learned a few things.  

This is not the end.
I have agonizing (and probably will for a long time to come) over the size of our family.  I've always wanted a big one.  When we were pregnant with Aaron, Chopper and I decided he was the last.  After all, 4 kids, one of whom would need a tremendous amount of attention and medical care is a good sized family.  Now that he's gone, I want another baby to hold in my arms but I'm also ready to move on the next stage of family life so to speak.  So I'm getting healthy just in case.  But I've talked to myself a lot about being done and about my reality not meeting my expectations of family life.  And the past few weeks, even though I have missed Aaron terribly, I have clung to the knowledge that this is not the end.  This is not the end of our family.  Yes, we'll raise Aaron later -- he is and will always be our son -- but I also believe those who are not mothers here will be mothers there.  

Joseph Smith said, "All your losses will be made up to you in the resurrection, provided you continue faithful. By the vision of the Almighty I have seen it.”  

Thank you very much but I will hold him to that saying.  Funny how we all have expectations of what life should be when really, did any of us have a clue?  But I hear it in the whining of my children (that's not fair!) and I see it in myself.  So another thing that I have learning and am learning to hold on to is that I am not shooting for having it all now.  That's not, or shouldn't be, my goal.  I want it all when I am judged by my Heavenly Father.  The problem is, it seems so far away and I don't really know what it all is and so it's difficult not to mourn my losses.

And I'm not saying that we shouldn't mourn.  Christ has asked us to "mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort."  Before raising Lazarus from the dead he cried with Mary and Martha and I can't even imagine the tears that were shed both on earth and in heaven over His atonement and resurrection despite knowing that they were necessary in order to bring greater joy.  But the grief cannot consume me because hope and joy are at the end.

So today I am grateful for both of my parents because they raised me in the Gospel with prayer and scriptures and love.  I'm grateful that I am a mother 4 times over.  I'm grateful for that role in my life -- for the ability and experience of bringing children into this world and grateful for a husband who works hard so that I can stay home with those kids and who relieves the burden when it is simply too much and I'm a cranky, angry mom.

I'm grateful for William's laugh and his funny run and for Abby's perpetual excitement and her need to be close and cuddle.  I'm grateful for Megan's mind with her questions and comments and for her completely off-key voice when she's singing at the top of her lungs.  I'm not sure that I'm grateful for the fighting or the whining or the tantrums but then I guess if it was roses all the time I wouldn't appreciate them!

So we bought the kids a pool because it has been HOT and our pool doesn't open until Memorial Day.  I took a bunch of pictures and some video because it was one of those moments when everything IS just perfect and I love it.  And William's excitement over the girls sliding into the pool is enough to sustain me through his terrorizing all this week!!

Ok so I realize the pictures are mostly William but really, it's only his second summer!!  I think all of this probably feels very new to him.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Dressing Your Truth

I've been reading a book by Carol Tuttle that's not titled dressing your truth but that's what it's about.  She has a profiling system which takes into account personality, habits, a bunch of different stuff, and categorizes people into one of four "types".  She uses this for a lot of confidence and "be who you are" kind of stuff, including dressing to match your type.  If you google it, she has a bunch of videos that go through it all and I find it interesting.  But then I've always struggled with clothes.  I've never felt like I have a secure hold on how I look and feel pretty.  I'm hoping this helps.

As I've been reading it though, I've noticed that children instinctively pick what they want to wear and then feel good in it.  I don't know when it will really kick in that my girls need to wear what other girls are wearing but for now they are happy being themselves and I like that.

I have really enjoyed having a boy.  Boy clothes are simple and easy.  Of course William's not old enough to care.  Except about shoes.  He loves shoes.  I think that he feels like if he's wearing shoes that we're going somewhere because he LOVES to go (especially when mommy is chasing him -- I don't really need to exercise outside of chasing this boy).  My mom sent new shoes to the girls -- sparkly boots for Abby and sparkly shoes for Megan.  William LOVES those boots.  He throws a tantrum when he doesn't get to wear them and was very excited to find them unoccupied and brought them to me today.  Abby is the sweetest girl and so good at sharing.  She doesn't mind in the least if William wants to borrow her boots!!

And of course she got them back later.  Right now her clothing obsession is leotards.  She still wears the pink one with the attached skirt but I finally threw away her black one because it was too small and had a hole in it.  She dug this one out of the costumes today.  It's one that a friend gave me from a recital her daughter had done but had outgrown the outfit.  The problem is that wearing leotards always results in Abby's butt cheeks hanging out so I make her wear shorts or pants over them when we go out in public.  It makes for some great combinations.

Megan has not let kindergarten affect her preferences at all!  She still comes up with some wild outfits that just make me laugh.  I'm not one to insist on coordinating clothing, just weather appropriate clothing.  I do hope though that she doesn't get made fun of.  Kids can be mean.  She can too, I've seen it.

Monday night she and I went alone to Target to get a gift for her teacher for teacher appreciation week.  We went through the women's department and of course all the swimming suits are out.  She was very excited to point out all the colorful bras!!  I had to inform her that those were swimming suits called bikinis and she wanted to know why I didn't wear one like that.  So we talked mostly about modesty and I thought mostly about my rolly, saggy, fluffy body.  But regardless of whether or not I would actually look good in a bikini (I would not), I've never felt comfortable exposing that much skin.  I think it went a long way towards keeping me modest as a teenager and I hope that the girls feel the same way.  It will certainly make for less battles!  But I don't know how to instill that in them.  Especially when they see so much skin everywhere they look.  

I've been thinking a lot about the values that they need to survive out there lately.  I feel like I've been very thoughtful, reflective, philosophical?  lately.  It has been such a positive experience to have Megan in kindergarten.  She has grown so much in ways that I could never have helped her and her academics are fantastic!  But I kind've feel like I need to make the most of the summer and steep her (and Abby) in the values that matter most.  I'm not sure how I'm going to tackle that project but I'm considering approaching it much like you would approach homeschooling for academics.  We'll see.  Last summer I had grand designs and pregnancy sickness destroyed it -- well maybe that and a little summer laziness.  But rest assured we will not be purposefully getting up in the morning to study!!  So maybe I can achieve something positive!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Brene Brown on Empathy

I HAVE to share this!
It's only 3 minutes long and it's simple, but great.  I think we all struggle with empathy.  I know that I do.  My friend sent this to me (well, she told me to google it!) and it's good advice -- for any situation.

Growth is Good!!

Today's stake conference was a little bit painful.  It's hard to spend 2 hours in a stadium with a nearly 2 year old who doesn't like to be contained.  Which also reminds me of my grocery shopping yesterday with said 2 year old and it's no wonder that I am looking forward to next weekend's Mother's Day fabric shopping!!

But it is exciting that we are now in a new stake: the Frisco Texas Shawnee Trails Stake.  Great name except nearly everyone who said it at the podium today messed it up somehow.  It's amazing to me that they can call a stake presidency in about 24 hours.  Since I don't typically receive or recognize inspiration that fast, I'm a little in awe of those who do!  At the beginning of the conference they said that the Frisco stake has only been around for 6 years.  That means that there has been an incredible amount of growth in the past six years in order to be big enough to split us off and create a new stake.

And speaking of growth, I am really really REALLY looking forward to William talking.  And understanding.  And not running away from me laughing directly into the parking lot or traffic.  This boy is completely exhausting me.  And the girls are exhausting me with their whining and complaining.  But on the bright side our Ensign came in the mail yesterday so I can finally read the talks that I heard parts of a month ago!!

Do you ever wonder how Eve did this for hundreds of years?  I've only have them for 7 and I'm going bonkers!!!  Happy Sunday, happy happy Sunday.