Tuesday, November 26, 2013

it's a great day in the forest

On Friday, at great risk of another throwing-up-in-the-car experience
(Nicholas had a six-day stomach bug and threw up yet again that Thursday night)
we tossed the kids in the car at 3 am
and drove to California to spend Thanksgiving with our family.

We covered every surface in the car with towels and placed buckets on every side of Nicholas, just in case, and then we made the twelve-hour drive.

The first night here we spent at the cabin.

Teresa has this magical way of making every place she lives in one of those
beautiful, "feels like it's been my home forever" kind of places
even the first time you've ever seen it.
 The cabin is no exception.
It is incredibly cozy.  Nostalgic.  Perfect.
 The kids were overjoyed to be out of the car.
Our gps took us on this gorgeous, windy mountain road. Icy mountain lakes, towering sequoia trees, fern-covered forest floors, beautiful.

Two hours of switchback roads.

Apparently both our children have inherited Kent's car sickness gene.
Poor kids were crying and saying they felt "yucky" the last hour and a half of the drive.
And with the stomach flu fresh on our minds, we were taking it very slowly.
 We made it eventually, and everyone was oh so happy to be there.

That night Sam and Heidi and their kids arrived, and we spent the next day as a work day and a play day with the cousins.

We're now at Kent's parents' house for Thanksgiving, and last night Nicholas made up a song as we roasted marshmallows around the fire.

"Camping, camping, camping
It's a great day in the forest!
I love to run in circles
run in circles
run in circles.
It's a great day!
Great day!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

perfect love

The sun broke through the clouds as it set one stormy afternoon a few weeks ago
I'm not sure how to start this.
Let me first tell you why I'm writing this.
A dear blogging friend of mine has made a point of authenticity in her writing.  I find it refreshing and encouraging.  I want to be authentic.
Also, my blog is where I record my life right now. I do not want my children to look back and wonder why I had it so perfect when they have real life troubles in their own lives.
My life isn't perfect. I want them to know that I have difficulties, that I overcome them, and that they can too.

My life is good and beautiful and full of love and joy, but it isn't perfect.

I sometimes struggle with anxiety.

I know it is a common problem. Many many many people, especially women, battle worry and anxiety of their own.

I saw some incredible counselors about it as a teen, and for the most part, 
I have reached a point in my life where my worrying doesn't surface often, and when it does, I can quickly recognize what is happening and set my fears aside.

Aside from an intense few months of worries and fears when I was dating Kent and trying to decide if I should marry him (thank you, thank you, Kent, for not giving up on me), I haven't really had lasting trouble with anxiety since I was a young teenager.

Most of the time, I live happily and confidently and without fear.

This summer, however, was different.
I began having some strange and frightening physical symptoms.  No one could tell me what was wrong-it seemed serious, then not serious, then serious again--and I began to fear. The summer was busy with my brother's wedding and everything else that went on and I was stressed, sick, and completely freaked out.

As the months passed, we discovered most of my symptoms were caused by a potassium deficiency, easily corrected, but even so, my fear became a cage that I could not escape. My usual tools and tricks were ineffective, and my worrying was affecting my life in a major way.

I wasn't happy anymore. Every single moment of every single day was spent in fear.  I wasn't able to play with the kids. I was short-tempered and distant.  My physical symptoms slowly began to fade, but I was hypersensitive and every little normal ache and pain and twitch set me off the edge into panic.
I had several panic attacks over the course of a few months. I hardly ate, and I would wake up in the middle of the night and be unable to go back to sleep for several hours because I was so worried. The anxiety had taken over my life and I wasn't able to function anymore.

There were moments of peace and clarity and spiritual confirmations, as well as priesthood blessings, that promised me I was fine, all was well, and I would be all right.
But I felt unable to trust in those feelings of peace. I set them aside every time a new "symptom" came up.

I began seeing a chiropractor in September, and my remaining symptoms improved.
The worries and fears, though, were still there, and I still felt like I was looking at my life from a distance, separated from the joy I normally feel because I was too busy being afraid.

And then, about five weeks ago, I felt the strongest impression that I needed to go to the temple.
I went. That very night.  By myself.

And I have been changed ever since.  That night, in the temple, I prayed with simplicity and intensity. I mostly just said, "I am here. I am here. Help me." I prayed this over and over as the hours in the temple passed.
And then, in a single moment, at the end of my time there, I felt my Heavenly Father's perfect love fill my broken heart.  Tears ran down my face as I was filled with joy, peace, and assurance that truly, all is well.

Love has become my daily mantra.  Anytime I feel that cage, that pit of fear, begin to close itself around my heart, I say to myself over and over again,
"You are loved. You are loved. You are loved."
And the fear goes away.
I have joy in my life again. I can be with my children and really truly be with them.  I feel whole and present and happy again.

I have returned to the temple every week since then.  There is a power and a strength in myself now that was not there before.  And every time I leave those beautiful bronze doors, I look up at the spire, brilliant white against the night sky, and I promise that I will be back. Again and again and again.
I will continue to go,
for I have discovered for myself the power of the temples in my life.

I know that not every battle can be fixed just by relying on the love of our Heavenly Father.  There are pains and problems that also need medical attention or professional help.  I have needed that help before and I may need it again at some point.

What I have learned this time, though, is that God's love is perfect. 
Perfect love truly does cast out fear. 
He hears our prayers, and He is true to His every promise.  His love binds our wounds, heals the broken hearted, and makes us whole again.
I am grateful.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

places we've been

 I've been wanting to do this little project since we moved in to the house. Yes, a year and a half ago.
Finally, last month I got it done.

It's our "places we've been" photo wall.
Every photo is a landscape shot from some of the places we've vacationed as a family or couple.
So far we've got France, Mexico, Mustang Island (Texas), Tony Grove (our favorite camping spot here in Utah), San Antonio, and Hawaii.

In the center is the photo of us in front of the Louvre on our honeymoon,
our very first "family" vacation. Our luggage was missing so all we had was a disposable camera we bought at a souvenirs shop. 
And it has become my very favorite picture of us.
I bought almost all of these frames from IKEA. I decided to go with white frames of varying shade and design and color pictures.

I spent three days looking at all these frames, trying to figure out how best to hang them in a visually pleasing arrangement,
finally got fed up with having to walk around them (I'd laid them out on the floor),
set up the ladder, got my nails and hammer, and just hung them up
one at a time, just eyeballing where they seemed to look right. I'm actually really happy with the casual finished result.

We've got a lot of wall above left to fill as we take more trips and go new places.
I figure each time we vacation I'll print out a photo, get a frame, and hang it up wherever it fits.

That sweet little world globe was a happy find at an antiques store that Kent's mom took me to in California.  I bought the little birdies from a garage sale.

I find myself stopping at the top of the stairs throughout the day, just looking at my photo wall.  
I tend to do that sort of thing whenever I finish a project.  Please tell me I'm not the only one who obsesses over a finally finished job...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I ran away for a weekend

To St. George. With my mom, Josh and Alicia, Sarah, and Nathan.   
Kent stayed home with the kids all weekend. (And rocked it.  They had a fantastic weekend with Daddy.)

The true purpose for our trip was to see my brother Jonah perform in his marching band competitions.  

I took Nicholas to one of Jonahs' band practices at the beginning of the season.
It was a disaster. 
Nicholas screamed in the car the entire time. The show was "too loud!" apparently.  
So there was no way I was going to drive my kiddos all the way to St. George just so they could sit in the hotel room with Kent all day.

So I went alone.
And it was fantastic.

We drove down on Friday night, watched the first of the band competitions with my Grandma and Grandpa who live down there.  It was great to see them; we wished we could have spent more time with them.

The next morning we had a few hours before we needed to be at the stadium for the competition, so we went to Pioneer Park to explore the red rocks.  

To be there without having to keep track of my littles?  I felt like a kid again myself.  I got to climb, run, jump off of ledges (small ones), wedge myself into tiny holes, and just play.
Someday I'd love to take my family there, 
but probably not until my kids are old enough to climb and explore without me carrying them the whole way.
It's going to be a while.

This weekend was refreshing.
I got to just be me, without responsibility.
(In fact, I think I might have relaxed a bit too much....I was constantly losing my sunglasses, waterbottle, phone, etc.)
I adore my job as mother, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.  
But sometimes, I find myself feeling like I'm not much fun anymore.  I haven't figured out how to relax and just play like I really want to when I'm helping my kids do almost every single thing.  I love helping, I love the fun I do have being with my darlings all day every day,
but it's a different kind of fun.  
And sometimes, it's just nice to have some "me fun" for a while.

When my siblings all get together, we get a little silly.
Maybe more than a little.

That's what I was looking forward to the most, though.  The laughing.  
I found remnants of a dead bird next to my head as I squeezed myself into this rock.

Getting up into that little hole was easy.
It was the getting down that proved more difficult.  And do you see Josh's little head there on the right? We're grateful he didn't fall and break something trying to perch there.

I love my family.
Nathan found these glasses just sitting on a rock.

I'm in love with how this picture turned out.  

Mom, Alicia, me, and Sarah. 

That's my brother Jonah, right there in front and center with the big jungle drum.  He rocks. Seriously. He is an incredible percussionist and he's only just getting started in high school.  I'm so proud of him. 
Just looking at this picture reminds me of the chills we got watching them perform. 

Jonah's band (Sky View High School) did awesome.  It was a regional band competition, so the best bands from Texas all the way to California were there, and Sky View placed 5th overall, which was incredible.
Watching him perform was so much fun. 

And I was definitely glad we'd decided not to bring the kids. We sat on the cement bleachers from 11:30 am to 11:30 pm on Saturday with just a quick break for dinner and a tiny bit of swimming.  It was quite warm during the afternoon and quite chilly at night.  
There's no way my kids could have handled it.
Even us adults got a bit weary,
luckily we had Josh and his jacket pockets to sneak in a bunch of snacks.

Favorites from the trip:

  • Dark chocolate coconut covered almonds from Costco (these things are devilishly good, people.)
  • Chocolate covered cinnamon bears 
  • Discovering that eating the almonds and the cinnamon bears together tastes like Christmas
  • Mentioning how I wanted to find The Swig (a soda/smoothie/cookie place) and then turning my head to see we were actually driving right past it.  
  • Josh's "magical" parking 
  • Having our "slantwiches" on slightly squashed (slanted) bread
  • The Beaver Nursery (you had to be there...)
  • Listening to the announcement of the awards Saturday night and being so thrilled when Sky View took 5th
  • Swimming.  In November.  St. George is a delightful place in the winter.
  • And on a more serious note, watching my brother Josh give a girl a priesthood blessing in the foyer at the church ward we visited. She was having a grand mal seizure and I was so proud of my brother for being willing and worthy at that moment to help.

When we arrived home on Sunday afternoon, the kids came running. Nicholas jumped into my arms with a great big "Mommy!"
but Ellie ran right past me, didn't even look my way. 
Shouted "NANI!" (Nathan) and gave him a giant hug. 
Well, now we know who her favorite is.

This trip was just what I needed.  A break from the everyday, time being silly with my family, and a reminder of how much fun I had when I did marching band in high school. 
Life is grand.

So, same time next year, everyone?