Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tender Mercies

Maybe about a month ago I learned that a dear friend of mine had cancer and had been given a short amount of time in which to live.  Patty was maybe in her late fifties (she has kids my age) and we had gotten to know each other well when we served together in our ward Primary presidency.  She was my secretary and she was amazing.  About halfway through our time in Virginia, her husband was made the Bishop and so then I was able to work with him as well.  Patty was tireless and thoughtful and such a huge support for me and I navigated my first calling as a President of an organization AND had a baby AND worked through the stress of Chopper's injury and job loss and eventual move here to Texas.  She was the only one who came to help me clean on the day the movers came -- probably because I said I didn't need any help when really I did!  She told me stories about herself and her life that I treasure.

I found out about the cancer through her daughter, who posted online what was happening and looking for "submissions" for a memory book for Patty.  It hit me really hard.  In addition to being sensitive to these kinds of things lately, well, Patty is the first person that I'm really close to who has died unexpectedly.  Unplanned.  And not because they're old.  Today I found out that she passed away earlier this week and it has hit me hard again.  A wonderful blessing has come my way though -- I'm leaving tomorrow night to go to Utah for a few days (without kids wahoo!!) for my Grandmother's 90th birthday and I'll be able to go to her funeral!!!!!  I'm just happy to have this opportunity to say good-bye.

Bishop Rich posted the whole story on Facebook so I've debated whether or not to repost it here and ultimately I don't think I will.  It is his and Patty's story and he has chosen to share it with so many and I think its definitely ok to tell people but I don't think I want to share it here.  But it is a story that practically screams about how much the Lord loves us individually, is mindful of us, and knows how to bless us even when we don't recognize the blessings or his care for us for ourselves.  I struggle to remember every day that the Lord loves me and keep Aaron's death in that framework and Patty's story is a wonderful testimony to me of that.  If you want to know the details, I'm more than happy to share!!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Something a Little Lighter

After posts like that last one I always feel a little bit like I'm dumping on people.  In all honesty I don't think that that many people read every blog entry that I made but still, I feel that way.  And then Chopper will tell me that this is a blog about our family and needs to reflect more than just me.  I agree 100% about that although I am the writer so it's going to happen.  So maybe I only agree 90%.

On that note, I thought I'd do an update on "a day in the life".  Every day is relatively the same with our school routines, etc. but this week both girls have brought home papers from school that made me realize that I need to document who they are and what they're doing at this stage in their lives and perhaps too some of the issues that we face on a regular basis.  Or at least more regular than it used to be!!  Because our family is getting older and changing and encountering different issues.

So all of these are pictures from my phone.  More and more I'm doing that and I have a feeling that it's not going to be good for the blog book.  We had just a few of Aaron on our phones and in order to get the resolution to be good, they had to print pretty small.  So I keep telling myself I need to be better about toting our regular camera around.  Since it's just a point and shoot it doesn't take up any more room but I also like posting pictures on Facebook and Instagram for my family and friends so I'll probably keep doing it to a certain extent.  

That was a really random side note.

Ok so Abby and Megan.  Abby was so excited this week to tell me that she wrote her own name for the very first time.  And here it is!!
I'm looking forward to parent-teacher conferences for her to ask specifically about her writing.  She is left-handed (yay!) and has a horrible pencil grip.  I've tried a few times to teach her how to change it and then kind've gave up.  People tell me I have a weird pencil grip too and my handwriting is very nice thank you very much.  However, hers seems to cause a lack of control.  

Megan on the other hand has taken off in reading and writing.  I don't know what her teacher has done in the first few weeks but she's writing and sounding out words and doing really well with it.  It's fun to read the papers she brings home and try to figure out what she's writing (because spelling of course is still atrocious) and this morning she wrote "I love you" notes for Chopper and I.  So sweet -- especially since she's pretty much mad at me about half the time.  This paper in particular cracks me up though.  Apparently doing their math problems they are supposed to show their work.  For single digit adding!!  I kind've think it's dumb although showing your work is valuable once you get into more complicated math.  I also have an aversion to story problems.  Anyway, I love this because it appears to me that she wrote her answer (11 at the top) and THEN drew out the "pencils" (probably because she was told she had to) and then she says, "I counted.  Pencils is 11 because 5+6=11.  I know it."  Chopper and I both about died laughing because it's TRUE!  And also because I can hear her voice when I read that.

I always told my high school kids that I knew when they plagiarized papers because I could hear their voices in their writing and if it didn't come through, there was an issue.  I'm sure there's some that I missed but I caught quite a few that way.  But I love it!

Megan told me that the past 2 days she has stayed inside for recess because she's afraid of the dragonflies.  She also has friends who flush the toilet for her at school believe it or not.  She is still struggling but gets greens on her behavior chart every day (that's good!!) and has had 100% on all her work and spelling tests so far.  So she's doing great.

Abby gave up naps over the summer right?  Which was ok when we were getting up around 7:30.  But now we're up and going between 6 and 6:30 and she is a crank monster if she doesn't have a nap -- super emotional.  But she doesn't take them anymore.  So pretty much every day after I put William down, I tell her I'm going to go lay on my bed and read my scriptures and she should come join me.  It doesn't take long for her to look like this: 
And some days I'm pretty sure I look like that too!

And William.

His vocabulary is growing!!  It needs translation pretty bad though.  Abby and Megan both spoke a lot more clearly from the get go I think.  Also, he continues to yell everything -- apparently he thinks I'm hard of hearing.  So some of his most common words (aside from mommy and daddy -- mommy being said ALL THE TIME and especially when he needs comforting -- apparently daddy is not capable of comforting because the screaming gets worse when he tries!) include "ar" (car) "bye" (which also is bike so you have to be watching -- is he pointing at one or waving), "hi" (which he yells at everyone and everyone always smiles), "mau" (milk), "nigh nigh" (night night), "ewww" (which is either ewww or I love you although for that he draws it out more kind've like e-u) and then a smattering of other things that we can kind've ask him to say.  But on a day to day basis, that's the vocabulary he gets by with.

 These are the ladies I went to Time Out For Women with!!!  Very good friends of mine -- Erin, me (yes I think I'm growing my bangs out for the first time in my LIFE), Sarah, and Maria.  Sweet sweet ladies.  We had a great time.

And this is everyone who went from our ward!!  So fun to sit with them all and laugh and cry (yes we did a lot of both).  I keep thinking I need to post about that and then I don't  -- but I'll tell you if you ask me!

 We had a ward picnic at the park and beach and even though it was not that hot out (like 60 degrees in Texas in September!  Just wrong!) the kids got in the water anyway.  Of course.

And that's it!!  Well of course not really but that works for now.  Oh I mentioned struggles.  Language.  I'm pretty sure that Abby said "damn you" the other day but she hadn't repeated it.  Megan has picked up a few unsavory things from school of course.  It just worries me.  They're getting older and I'm not the only influence in their life!!  And there is so much negative.  We have been really happy with Megan's school (and Abby's too!) but I'm seriously thinking about homeschooling when we get to middle school because friends of mine with kids there have STORIES!  And I don't know if I can handle that.  We'll see.  But by then they'll already have basic reading, writing, and math which is great because I don't think I could teach them those things anyway! I just don't have the patience for basics I think.  Anyway.  Happy Saturday!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Not Sure About a Title

I'm not even sure where to begin.  It's been an emotional week and I feel very overwhelmed with stuff.  But then I have friends who are going through very heavy things right now and I think that what I have to deal with isn't so bad.  But it is mine and it is difficult.

I'm struggling with the girls.  Maybe this isn't something I should be writing here because it will go into our book and someday they'll probably read it and be mad at me.  But then they'll be moms and they'll understand.  Hopefully.

I am struggling with tears and whining.  With negativity and crankiness.  For Abby, a nap in the afternoon still helps.  She doesn't want to take it but if I can get her to lay down with me she's usually out in about 5 minutes and it dials down the emotional outbreaks.  For Megan?  I don't know what to do.  I feel like I have to teach her to be happy because it's not her natural personality but I don't know the first thing about how to do that.  When she whines and grumps and complains my buttons pop and I get mad and frustrated and I'm sure that that's not teaching her any great lessons.  But then in all honesty, I have a really hard time reading parenting books.  It's not just the fact that they have good info. and not so good.  They're boring (there I said it!!).  I would much rather prefer a novel.  But that doesn't help me.  Well, it helps me escape.  William's tantrums when he doesn't get what he wants are over the moon as well so I feel like things are just hard.

Then it's been a hard Aaron-missing week.  Chopper found out that the wife of the scout leader he combines with from another ward is pregnant with twins but one has a serious aneurysm in his heart and they're not sure he's going to make it.  Chopper passed along my number and she's called me a few times to ask questions, hear Aaron's story, that kind of stuff.  I like being able to help.  That's why I talk so much -- so that it hopefully helps someone!!  (or at least that's what I tell myself!!)  I hope that I'm being supportive and helpful to her because it's been very hard for me to relive the whole experience in detail.  Add to that the sense of upheaval that we are feeling at home right now (although we're not going anywhere just yet), and I've been very raw lately.

I've been trying to make more positive things in my life and focus on the good things to combat all of this.  I've been exercising (yeah, that's a miracle), and taking vitamins and watching what I eat in an effort to physically feel better than I have been.  I hate to say that it's working.  I hate to say it because it hurts.  I'm not good at restricting myself, maybe I should say disciplining myself.  I like to do what I want to do!  I've also been trying to soak in the good moments with the kids -- Abby's excitement over going to preschool twice a week, both of their clothing choices for school, William's "recipe" for calming down -- mommy, blanket, milk -- in that order, and the increasing amount of words (or what are supposed to be words) that he's using.  A roof over our heads and a good elementary school.  Great friends and ward members.  The end of hot hot summer and the beginning of hot fall.  The fact that I just heard from the other room "this is the most beautiful flying lizard you've ever seen!" -- great imaginations.  

2 weeks ago I went to Time Out For Women with friends and had a fantastic time and heard from amazing speakers.  Perhaps I need to go back and reread my notes and make cards for myself with inspiring quotes to post all over the house.  We all need to be uplifted often and I'm grateful for those who do that -- it makes me excited for General Conference in a few weeks as well!  I'm grateful for my faith in Jesus Christ and for the Gospel in my life.  I seriously don't know how people handle life without those things.

Now I'm rambling.  I need to go take some pictures and get them slapped up here really!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

She's been waiting in the wings . . .

Today has finally arrived!!!!
Abby finally, FINALLY had her first day at Apple Creek Preschool.  She's been waiting for 2 years for this to happen and Megan has been telling her all weekend all the wonderful things she'll get to do there.  She insisted that she wear her Apple Creek shirt today even though Thursdays are spirit days (Megan refused to wear hers EVER by the way) and of course the sparkly boots had to join in the fun.

2 years ago when Megan started I had to drag Abby out of the building while maneuvering an infant car seat because William was only 2 months old -- craziness!!  So today should have been so much better with just one child to herd.  Hahahahahahaha.  I forgot that child is William.

When we entered the building he took off for the classroom and when we got close I had to hold him back so that Abby could find her name, put away her backpack, and wash her hands.  I wasn't holding him but he was straining against me to go explore and play with cars and toys and he was starting to get pretty upset that I wouldn't let him go.  So I told Abby I was leaving and she gave me a hug and a kiss and said "bye!" and that was it.  William then looked at me, with tears running down his face and waved at ME and said "bye!!!"  Poor boy wanted me to leave so he could stay.  Needless to say, he screamed, he fought, he even hit and grabbed and bit me on the way back out to the car.  And cried until we got to the store.  And then wanted to be held and cuddled.  And then saw the candy aisle and wanted to get down and put candy in the basket.  It was nice to go to 3 stores and only have to buckle/unbuckle one child and not worry about watching 2 or 3 but I did lose William in Walmart.  Kid took off around a corner and disappeared.  I called and called for a few minutes and was just grabbing employees to help me look when I hear his little voice and found him hiding under a clothing rack.  Scared. Me. To. Death.  And he rode in the cart after that.

Picking up Abby was less traumatic because we didn't get out of the car but he did not like sitting in line and kept pointing to her seat.  Once she was in and we were on our way home, he was good again.

What a day.