Monday, December 28, 2009

On the Road Again

I know it's been almost a week since I've written in here, and I apologize for that. I had every intention of writing something inspiring for Christmas, but, alas, we were busy and so I didn't get around to it. I'm happy to report that we had a wonderful Christmas as a family. My sister and her husband and two boys and my brother and his wife and their three kids were all at my parents' house. It was a bit crazy at times, but we always enjoy being together. We also had some quality game-playing time. I will post pictures at a later date.

I'm happy to report that during our game playing time on Saturday, something historic happened: I beat my younger brother at Hearts! And I didn't just beat him a little bit, I kicked his trash. I know it's a terrible thing to gloat, but this seriously NEVER happens! He's always the one who watches as I collect points almost at an alarming rate and take the Queen of Spades many, many times. I was quite excited to see the tables turn and me win for once. Wa-hoo!!

Anyway, while it's been wonderful to be at my parents' house, I've really been waiting to come to my sister's house and visit my beautiful niece. She's still not doing so great, and we don't know how long we get to keep her. There have been many times during the last month when I wasn't sure I would get to see her again, so since she's still here, I definitely wanted to take the time to come up for a few days. So guess what that meant? Yup, back on the road again.

She was pretty much exhausted when my mom and I arrived. But after a bath and a short rest, she was happy to see us. My mom and I have both spent time sitting with her tonight, just holding her hand and letting her know we love her. She does look quite different than when I was here before, but she'll always be my sweet 'n sassy Miss Sassypants. And, like the rest of my family, I rejoice in what time we have left with her.

I'm still afraid of what's going to happen and how we're all going to deal with it, especially my sister and brother-in-law. However, I know that Heavenly Father will never leave us alone nor give us more than we can bear. I also know without a shadow of a doubt that he's with our family during this difficult time. He hears our prayers and answers them according to His will. It's so difficult at times to keep that in mind, but we do our best.

And in the meantime, we do our best to soak up all the time we have left with our precious angel. We all love her so much, and nothing will ever change that.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Snow boots?

So yesterday we got hit with a pretty big snowstorm. It wasn't a surprise as it's been in the forecast for a couple of days at least. However, the snowstorm presents some concerns aside from slick roads and cold weather.

This is a picture of what my feet looked like as I walked from my building to the parking garage. Don't worry--I have no illusions about how awesome the look really is.

I have to do this because I have short legs, and short legs equals pants that are too long. If I don't do something, they drag on the sidewalk and get stiff with all the salt they collect. It's pretty nasty. Last week I tried to prevent this by stuffing my pants into my shoes, but, alas, they wouldn't stay . So yesterday I was determined not to protect my pants, so I did this instead.

I'm pretty sure this means I'm in serious need of some snow boots. Wouldn't you agree?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Learning to Trust

So I think after my last post, it's time to write something more cheery/positive. I've wanted to write this for a few weeks but just haven't gotten around to it. Despite the late hour, I think now is a great time to do so.

About a month ago I had a conversation with a friend about everything that is going on in my life. I was telling this person about my excellent support team who are always there for me when I need them. I know when I reach a certain point (usually a low) that I need to be willing to ask these friends for help. This friend asked if my real question was if I should be relying more on God and not on man.

I was slightly put off by the question because that's not what I'd been asking at all. However, we had a great conversation which encouraged me to think things over. I realized that I do need to put more trust in my Father in Heaven. At that point, I was already praying to be able to do so, but I don't think I was putting as much effort into it as I needed to. Following our conversation, I made a promise to myself that I would.

I recently realized that in the last few weeks I have seen myself learning to trust more in God but not in the way I would have anticipated. (Doesn't it always happen that way, though?) :)

As I mentioned in my previous post, the last few weeks have been some of the most difficult ones I've had to face. I have despaired as I read all that my niece has had to suffer, along with my sister and brother-in-law who are doing their best to take care of her. It hurts so much to know she's suffering and to realize I can do nothing to help. Physically, there's not one single thing my family or I can do to relieve her suffering.

Except thanks to the conversation I had with my friend, I know I can do something: I can pray with all the strength of my heart and then trust that Father in Heaven will hear me and bless her accordingly.

It's not an easy realization to have, but in some ways it has brought me peace on those darkest days. Even at the times when I don't know what to pray for anymore, I still know that I can pray and, more importantly, that my Heavenly Father will hear me. My job is to trust with all my heart in that being who will never let me down, and I know that He will bless her according to His will. That's the other difficult aspect of this: I also have to pray hard to be able to accept His will. But I'm pretty sure that's another whole territory that I won't go into right now.

I just feel humble to have learned this important lesson and to be doing my best to live it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

While my Heart Gently Weeps

This is an odd time for me to be writing in my blog, and I should probably be doing other things, but I feel a great need to express myself right now, and this is one of the places I feel comfortable doing so.

I have always loved the Christmas season. With or without Santa, it's still a special time of year when people try to be a little nicer and look beyond themselves more than they would at other times of the year. I love everything from the music to the lights to all the Christmas activities.

This year I've tried to keep myself especially busy and pack in all the Christmas-oriented events that I can. This includes attending Odyssey Dance Theatre's "It's a Wonderful Life," going to Hale Center Theatre's "A Christmas Carol," going to the MoTab Christmas concert (which just seems to get better and better every year), attending my ward Christmas party, having a holiday gathering at my house with friends from work and even visiting the lights on Temple Square.

But, despite all these wonderful seasonal activities, I'm still struggling to feel the magic that is Christmas.

I'm well aware of the reason for this: my heart is weighed down with sorrow for a little girl who has been struggling for her life for months and now she's tired of the fight. Now she just wants to be done. She's ready for an end to her pain and suffering. And I don't blame her.

With each new terrible development in the last few weeks, it only makes me feel more sorrowful. I hate knowing how much she is suffering, but selfishly I'm also so pained at the idea of letting her go. I feel powerless to do anything to help her or even my sister and her family, who are even more weighed down by this than I am. It breaks my heart to hear about the conversations my sister has with her beautiful angel, conversations like who will take care of her on the other side or if it's suicide if she wants to turn off her pacemaker or wean herself off her meds. Likewise, I feel so sad at the idea my sister is losing her best friend when she loses her daughter.

I often feel like there's a great stone sitting on my chest all the time that is all the emotions associated with this situation. Sometimes it gets better when I cry or when I talk to someone about it, but it never goes away. And although I have a great support team that is there for me, I can't bear to spread the sorrow that I feel with them, even though sometimes I truly can't help it because it's too much for me, so I have to let it out. I want to feel the happiness of the season and although I may seem like I'm doing okay most of the time, inside I'm hurting. And I hurt not just for myself but for my family too. We all love our Miss Sassypants, and we all want only what's best for her.

But that doesn't make losing her any easier, especially if there's a good chance it might be before Christmas.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

God bless us every one!

Tonight Smirk, Betty, another friend and I had the lovely experience of going to see "A Christmas Carol" at Hale Center Theatre. Smirk's and my work was offering discount tickets for this week's shows, and we decided to take them up on the offer. What a great idea it was!

Hale Center Theatre did a fabulous job, and I loved every minute of the production. From the period costumes and hairstyles, to the perfect portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge, to the great set design, the production was nothing less than picture perfect. And, just as it always does, it delivered a special message of sharing Christmas spirit and cheer with those around us.

I wish I had a picture I could post here, but of course photography isn't allowed during the show. That's all right. I guess that means you can use your imagination to picture how it might have been.

The most important thing about the production is not only that I was able to enjoy it with close friends, but it also helped increase my own Christmas spirit and reminded me of the importance of thinking about other people especially during this season. I hope that I don't ever get to the point that I need three Christmas spirits to remind me of this. :)

But knowing myself as I do, I'm pretty sure I will be just fine.

Merry Christmas everyone! Enjoy the spirit of the season!

I DO NOT live in Rexburg anymore!

So, both this week and last a serious cold snap has held Utah in its icy grip. I'm pretty sure Idaho is part of it too, judging by the low temperatures I've seen for my home town, and perhaps it's even a few degrees colder.

In any case, it's freezing outside!!

I wasn't terribly excited at the prospect of the winter storm forecast for Tuesday, but I was slightly relieved because normally when it snows, the temperature creeps back up at least a little bit. And it did--all the way to 30 degrees or so. That doesn't sound very warm, but when it's been steadily sitting in the low 20s and the teens, 30 is like a beach vacation or something!

Unfortunately even with Tuesday's storm, it's still been blasted cold. It was so bitterly cold this morning that after scraping the thick layer of frost off my car windows (which probably took only 5-8 minutes), my fingers were numb for the entire drive to work. And Smirk and I were seriously freezing throughout the 10-minute walk from the parking garage to our building. When I looked at the temperature on, I understood exactly why: it was all of 6 degrees this morning. Brrrr!! There was also a slight breeze which didn't really help things.

This bitingly cold weather has put me in mind of my Rexburg days. Don't get me wrong--I loved going to school in there and had a lovely educational experience. But, it's nicknamed Iceberg for a reason. I definitely don't miss those subzero temperatures and snowstorms all the way until April. It hasn't been a pleasant reminder to have it be so cold here for over a week now.

But lest you think me a terrible whiner with nothing positive to say, I do have something happy to add: a heat wave is coming our direction. Saturday is supposed to get all the way up to 37. Yippee!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I'm so thankful for my family

You know, I'm feeling just a little bit down tonight, so I decided one of the best ways to deal with that is to count my blessings. I've been meaning to write this entry for some time now, but my current state of mind helped me decide to do it now. It might be just a little gushy so if you can't handle gushy, please stop reading now.

The particular blessing I wish to recognize tonight is my family. I know that everybody says it, but I really mean it: I have an amazing family. They are a great strength in my life and provide support and help in ways that no one else can. This also helps me feel grateful for the blessings of eternal marriage and families. I would never want to spend eternity without my family. Of course someday I hope to have a family of my own, but since I don't yet, that makes me all the more grateful for the family I have.

This is a montage of pictures taken at Thanksgiving. I'm hoping it helps demonstrate the reasons why we're such a close family: we love each other deeply and are involved in each other's lives. Almost nothing makes me happier than seeing how much the kids love their cousins. They're always so happy when they get together. (Of course they are kids so they have their little tiffs, but on the whole they do quite well together). Enjoy the pictures!
Ahhh! Counsinly love! Between both the boys and the girls.

Okay, this one technically isn't cousins (more like aunt and niece), but little Bumblebee is such a sweetheart that she brings joy to everyone she meets.

Another pair of sweethearts. Let me tell you that sweet baby has charmed her way into everyone's hearts, and, of course Miss Sassypants is our angel girl. She loves like nobody I have ever met before.

Miss Sassypants was so delighted to finally have a girl cousin, after five boys in a row, and they are still best friends.

Da boyz, well five of them anyway. Below are the other two.

More family joy in the form of my sisters. I have three of them and am so grateful for each. And, no, we don't look alike at all. :) I don't have pictures of my brothers here, but I am grateful for both of them too.

So part of the reason we were all in Idaho for the holiday is because two of my nephews got baptised. Here are our the two newest members with me. I was slightly shocked to realize this is the only picture of both of them together. Oops!

These are the wonderful missionaries who have been working with the older of my two nephews. His dad is behind him. That is another wonderful miracle, but I'm not going to write about it here. If you want to know, you'll have to contact me directly. :)
The matriarch of our family. For some reason, my dad avoided the camera almost entirely. He won't get away so easily next time though.
Extended family, meaning my sister-in-laws, both seen below, and my brothers-in-law. An important addition to our family. We wouldn't be complete without them (and let's be honest--there wouldn't be any children either.)

No family is complete without its pets. This isn't all the pets but a couple of them anyway. Miss Sassypants loves Angel, the black dog seen in the picture. And Boo-boo, the cat, loves to be right in the middle of everything, particularly if there's food involved.

What a great example to me of a happily married couple, who are also each other's support team.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Lessons Learned at the Festival of Trees

Man! I've been meaning to write in here all week, but it's been a rather crazy week so I haven't had the chance. However, I'm hoping to rectify that now with this entry, complete with pictures!

So last night Smirk, another friend and I went to the Festival of Trees. I love the Festival and try my hardest to go every year if I can. I love seeing all the beautiful trees people have decorated either because they feel passionate about something, are doing it in remembrance of a loved one or just because they want to help Primary Children's Medical Center. I suppose I'm in the mood to learn from different things or something because I made some new observations this year and gathered some new wisdom that I'd like to share with you.

Lesson No. 1: Many of these trees were done in remembrance of someone or to honor a person. I have always known this fact but this year it struck me in a way it never has before. Perhaps this is because my wonderful aunt and cousins entered a tree in honor of my ailing niece. I also learned that you can read the story about the tree, well a brief one anyway, by picking up the name card and looking on the back. While it made the tree much more meaningful, it also struck a chord within me and brought tears much too close to the surface for comfort. I am so sensitive of late and things that I could normally handle just fine make me cry. This was one of them. I know that it's not a bad thing to cry, and I'm sure people would understand, but I would really hate doing it in such a public place. Luckily I was able to avoid doing so, although I was weepy eyed for a good portion of my walk through the many rows of trees.

Here are pictures of the tree my aunt and cousins made. It's called "A Beary Special Angel."

Lesson No. 2: Although trials and adversity are difficult, keeping a good perspective makes them not only more meaningful but also easier to bear. This thought was inspired by this fun little sign. I made the picture bigger so hopefully you can read it but if not, I'll tell you what it says: "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain." I found that to be profound.

Lesson No. 3: Sometimes it's okay to be naughty. :) (Yes, I know this picture is sideways, and I tried everything I could think of to fix it. It refused to upload horizontally. Ugh!)

Lesson No. 4: Snowmen apparently have wise advice about life. I'm 99 percent sure that this is too small for you to read, which makes me sad because it's funny as well as insightful.

Lesson No. 5: The Festival could be just the place to catch a man! Here's me blowing a kiss to my "prospective suitor" but, alas, it appears he is someone else's prince since he didn't change. Oh well! At least I didn't turn into a frog. . .

Lesson No. 6: When they say "gingerbread houses," they really mean "gingerbread palaces." The house below is quite elaborate and looks like it took someone many hours to create. And it definitely wasn't the only one.

This is an actual gingerbread castle. It was huge, probably about 3.5-4 feet tall. I had to take a picture and send it on to Miss Sassypants to let her know what her next gingerbread project should be. . . (Making gingerbread houses is one of the activities she loves doing. She has made both a house and a train of late, and while I was there over Thanksgiving, we were making a miniature gingerbread village. It was quite fun. I hoped that sending her the picture might help her smile.)

Okay, so I realize that I intermixed lessons: some were silly while others were more serious. Nevertheless, I hope you all benefit from the wisdom I gained at the Festival of Trees. :)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Greetings from Idaho all my blog readers! I write this listening to the sound of seven little boys running through the house, shooting Nerf guns at each other, playing some sort of hide and seek game. We haven't had any tears until a few minutes ago but my sister addressed the issue and peace has been restored once again.

I guess it would drive some people crazy to handle all the chaos that I'm currently surrounded with but it doesn't bother me at all. To me it's just the sound of family, and my family is my life. Recent events have meant that we've been together quite often of late, and it's been great!

As I write this, I'm listening to the sound of my beautiful niece, Miss Sassypants, playing the piano. I don't know that she's felt up to playing the piano too much recently, so it's wonderful to listen to her. I decided to not go to the store with my mom and sisters (they have to pick up a few items for dinner), so she decided to stay here with me--and all the ruffians. I just calmed things down considerably though by telling them they needed to find a different activity. A couple of the boys are waiting for this computer though so I guess I need to be brief.

I think I'm getting lost in the details right now, but the true point of this post is to express gratitude for the wonderful family I've been blessed with. I meant to write some type of Thanksgiving post yesterday but didn't have the chance. I feel so blessed not only to have my fabulous parents and siblings, but also all their spouses and especially the kids. Oh how I love my children! They fill a need in my life that nobody else can fill. It's always great to be together even when things get out of control. I'm going to have to be creative to find something they can all do that doesn't involve rowdy play. Any ideas? J/K!

I was going to write more, but the boys have all disappeared into the bedroom for some "secret" meeting so I'd better go make sure they're not going to do something naughty. Happy belated Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Do You Really Appreciate This?

Have you ever noticed that in the moment it's sometimes hard to appreciate things as much as you should? You may recognize that something great is happening at any certain time but then you get caught up and forget to appreciate it. We all do it, and I think the most appropriate term is "taking things for granted" which is truthfully hard not to do.

I've been in a reflective/sad mood all day because of some new developments with my niece. We all love her so much, but even small things are getting harder for her all the time. We don't know how long we get to keep our precious angel, and it's hard when that reality hits you, which is what happened to me today. It's so scary to think about.

Tonight I was going to the Salt Lake Temple, which is of course in downtown. I decided it would be a waste of time to come all the way back to my house to sit for a few minutes and then go back down to join my ward so I stayed downtown. I was hoping to squeeze in a workout, but time was not quite long enough to do that, darn it!

I decided to just go sit in the JSMB and think for a little while. But when you're in the mood I was in today, thinking is often your enemy. I started looking at all the moms with their kids running around the building. I couldn't help wondering if these parents really appreciate how precious their children are, even when they're so frustrating you feel you're in danger of going mad. One mom came over and was briefly sitting in the pod of chairs where I was sitting. She had a little boy in a stroller and two energetic little girls running around. I could tell just from watching them for a few minutes that they were a handful, one more so than the other one. I could tell this mom was getting impatient that her little girl wouldn't be obedient.

I know that I'm not a parent so I can't fully understand what it's like. And I have a couple of my own nieces and nephews that are difficult enough children that I can see that parenting is often no picnic. But tonight I just couldn't help hoping that even if this mother was super frustrated with her little girl, that she could still appreciate her. You just never know when something's going to happen, so you have to make every minute count, even the hard ones.

Sorry about the philosophizing; I'm sure it's not all that fun to read. But it's helping me feel better and that's what's most important anyway. :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pre-Thanksgiving Fun

Ladies and gentleman. I have a very special blog post for you today. Yes, once again, you have the opportunity to enter my head and take one of "Tammy's journeys" with me. I hope you're excited!

Today's adventure centers around an activity that I did for the second time in my life today: cooking a turkey! I wrote a post about my adventure last year, which I would put a link here for except I don't know how to. Sorry! That's what happens when you're secretly a little bit technologically impaired. In any case, cleaning good old Tom Turkey out and putting him into the oven wasn't nearly as traumatic this year as it was last. In fact, I didn't have to make any calls to the Expert about the actual cooking (although I did ask her about thawing this morning, but that's beside the point).

Here are a couple pictures of me performing the deed. Yes, I asked Speak to document it for me to put in my blog. :) And I promise that the frightened face is just me hamming it up for the camera. Sometimes I like to do that.

I was slightly distressed when I checked Tom this afternoon after my nap to discover that his button hadn't popped yet. Yikes! He'd already been in the oven for three hours, and my company was, theoretically, going to be arriving in 40 minutes. I turned the oven up slightly and left him in for almost an additional half an hour, hoping that the button would pop. When it didn't, I had to phone the Expert to find out if he could still be done despite the unpopped button. She told me he likely could and to just watch for pink meat as I carved him.

That was my second accomplishment for the day: I carved the turkey for the first time! Both Smirk and Speak were adamant that I didn't need a man to do it for me, so I set out to prove them right and did it myself. I can't say that I had a great technique or really knew what I was doing, but if the meat came off the bird, that's what matters anyway, right?

I don't have a euphemism for her yet. I guess I'll call her Betty. She helped carve the turkey.
I had compliments from several people about how good the turkey tasted, so I guess I did a good job. Here are a few pictures of the party and our guests. It felt good to do a big event at the house. As a good friend pointed out this week, it's been awhile since Speak and I have done anything like this so it was fitting to gather friends close once again. Happy pre-Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy the pictures!

Here's the men being gentlemen and letting the ladies serve themselves first.

Just a few photos of our guests as they feasted on all the wonderful food.

I was pretty proud of us. We crammed 15 people into our living room. That's two more than last year.

The Couch, or Canada. Ask He-Man if you want to know why that is.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mmm, Christmas in the Aire

Oh man! I am so pumped right now! I just had the most wonderful experience, and I'm going to quickly record it in my blog so that I don't forget. I'm hurrying because I've been a bad child this week and haven't done so great with getting to bed on time so I'm extra tired. But I'm going to be fast, well I hope I will anyway. :)

Tonight my very dear Smirk and I had the wonderful opportunity of going to see Mannheim Steamroller in concert. I hope you're familiar with them, but if not, they're most known for their Christmas music which is a mix of traditional music with technical wizardry. I'm sure that sounds strange but if you ever hear them, you'll probably recognize them because they have a distinct sound.

Unlike some musicians, I'm proud to say that Mannheim Steamroller sounds just as wonderful live as they do on their CDs. They included some interesting elements to the concert, such as a screen behind the orchestra that often showed videos to accompany the music. I can't remember if it was "Catching Snowflakes on Your Tongue" or "Messengers of Christmas" but one of the two songs had an entire ice skating routineperfectly choreographed to the music. I thought it was pretty darn cool.

I could feel it as soon as the music started: the formation of the big stupid grin on my face. Such a look usually means either I'm REALLY happy about something or I've been mischievous. Since there wasn't any tricks going on during the concert, pretty much this look meant I was stoked for the entire two and a half hours I sat in Abravenal Hall.

The concert started out strong with "Hallelujah", "Feliz Navidad" and "Deck the Halls." They harmonize so well, and I love it when they start slow and build up. The entire group is so talented but I was especially impressed with the drummer. I thought I was going to be sad for the slower songs, but instead, the opposite happened. As the orchestra started into its rendition of "Away in a Manager", I felt goosebumps forming on my arms. And then as I let the music wash over me, thinking of its true meaning, tears started rolling down my cheeks. I wasn't sad, just touched.

The second half was quite interesting because it featured several of the band's more Middle-English sounding carols such as "Gagliarda", "Wassail, Wassail" and "In dulci Jubilo." For most of the second half, the orchestra had a screen in front of them showing videos of a Middle English style feast with nobles eating and servers popping in and out. I have to be honest though: it was trippy to have the picture up on the screen and then have the bottom half illuminated enough so you could see the orchestra through the picture. Tres interesante, but still a cool effect.

The concert ended with one of the group's most famous songs, "Carol of the Bells." It was pretty stinkin' awesome, except for the three screens in the background that had corny black-clad dancers. Oh well! This was supposed to be the last song of the night, but of course they did an encore and performed Smirk's favorite, "Silent Night" and now I can't remember the last song. Darn! It was an appropriate ending though.

Sorry this post is so long, but I just wanted to share my excitement and enthusiasm right now while it's fresh in my memory. G'night everyone!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

"Lo, I am with you always"

I think my last post was quite depressing, and I'm sorry about that. I'm feeling better about everything today so hopefully that means I can let it go. The real reason I want to write, however, is because I had a wonderful experience that I want to share.

Today I attended a baptism for a girl in my ward. I wasn't aware until a couple months ago that she wasn't a member and has been investigating the church for some time. I was quite excited to hear that she was going to be baptised, and although I don't know her all that well, I wanted to go to support her.

I was amazed at how many people came! We almost filled up an entire chapel, but I'm glad because that means she has support. Going to an important event like this was a good opportunity for me to reflect and to remember how important my own membership in the Church and testimony are to me. I also felt so loved and welcomed from a lot of my fellow ward members. I've been gone a lot recently so I haven't seen many people. It always makes me feel good to know that I'm missed. :)

But all of this is aside from the point. The neat experience came during the special musical number. This sister's boyfriend and his family were singing "Come Unto Jesus" and the congregation was asked to take out their hymn books so they could join in on the fourth verse. It's been awhile since I have sung this particular song, and I didn't remember all the words. As I listened, I was struck by them to the point of tears:

"Come unto Jesus, ye heavy laden, Careworn and fainting, by sin oppressed;
He'll safely guide you unto that haven, where all who trust him my rest.

Come unto Jesus, He'll ever heed you, Though in the darkness you've gone astray.
His love will find you and gently lead you. From darkest night into day.

Come unto Jesus, He'll surely hear you. If you in meekness plead for his love.
Oh, know you not that angels are near you, from brightest mansions above."

Reading the words helped me feel the love my Father in Heaven has for me full force. I knew that He is aware of me, and he is strengthening me through this difficult trial. I also gained a greater testimony of the Atonement and understood its importance to me personally in dealing with my sadness. Several friends have told me they hope that if nothing else I can feel the love of my Father in Heaven and Savior Jesus Christ always. Today it was made clear to me just how strong that love is.

Heavenly Father will try us, and He might even try us to the limit of our endurance, but He'll never leave us alone or try us above what we're able to bear. And miracles come along the way, sometimes at unexpected times or places. I just hope I can keep what I felt today close to my heart so when things do get really hard, I'll remember who is the true source of my strength.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I did it AGAIN!

I have been feeling so frustrated all day long! I promised myself that I would never do this again and somehow I have. Ugh!

A long time ago in January I wrote a blog post about how you should never jump to conclusions about something or react out of anger. (Okay, I can't remember about the anger part, but if I didn't include that, I really should have.) This is because you almost always say things when you're mad that you don't really mean and then you can't take them back. I think I do fairly well at holding my tongue when I'm mad, but I'm definitely not perfect at it, and this week proved it to me once again.

Oh gosh! I'm really shaking my head at myself for doing something so stupid, but I need to just calm down and look at this logically.

I guess I should bring all of you into the loop of what I mean. I don't want to go into specifics, but let's just say that I let myself be talked into being angry at someone. I was upset by something this person had done, and perhaps justifiably so, and I waited for several days before letting them know I was upset. I was afraid of the reaction I'd get, but I talked myself into believing that whatever I had said was justified, gosh dang it! I wouldn't necessarily say that I was cruel but I was harsh. And I made some snap judgements that perhaps I shouldn't have.

In a mature and kind fashion, this person didn't send an immediate response but waited and carefully composed a message that was both explanatory and kind. I suppose a good part of it was justification, but they didn't make excuses for their behavior, and I respect that. I know this friend well enough to know that I can only expect so much from them but then I talk myself into thinking otherwise and, shock, get disappointed. I also went into this thinking I understood all the possible reasons why this person might have behaved that way and there is a lot more going on than I was aware of. I want to say for sure that next time I won't behave that way, next time I will take a step back and consider what might be going on in that person's life and, above all, I will stop letting myself be so influenced by other people but I suppose these are all weaknesses I have to overcome.

Oh well. I guess you live and you learn. I would like to think sometimes that I'm wise, but in all honesty I still have so much to learn. Hopefully I'm at least on the right path.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bigger than myself

So yesterday I had a bit of a wake up call. And I think it was really good for me.

I've talked a little bit in here about how difficult things have been in the last little while. It really has been tough to contemplate losing someone that I love so much and especially at such a young age. But I've forgotten, or simply not thought about, the fact that other people are going through tough times too. These might even be things that I can't imagine dealing with and, frankly, that I hope I never have to face. But life is so unexpected that you never know what's going to happen. And you can't always be prepared. In any case, it's helpful to remember that you're not the only one struggling.

I was reminded of this fact last night. It was a good thing for me too. I've been feeling rather humble about it all day. It's been good for me to remember that no matter how hard it seems sometimes, there are so many others out there who have their own set of struggles, and they're dealing as best they can too.

I just hope that I can take this opportunity to help and support someone else as so many people have helped and supported me. To remind those I come into contact with that they're not alone, and if nothing else, I can pray for them to make it through. Sometimes that's all you can really do anyway. The key is to keep the bigger picture in mind, to not get lost in your own sorrows because so many out there could really use a friend. Why can't I be that friend?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Just Like a Mother

I meant to write this post early last week, but then I got sick and didn't feel like doing any writing for a few days. I'm so relieved to be feeling better now and so I'm going to write it even if it is just a bit older than I'd intended.

Last weekend I had a unique opportunity to really step up to the plate and do something that seemed to be an overwhelming task at times but turned out to be rewarding in the end: I went to visit my niece and ended up taking care of my sister's sick family for three days.

The Sunday prior to my visit (two weeks ago today), I'd learned some news about my niece that was quite upsetting. I was already planning to visit for the weekend, but after hearing the news, a friend encouraged me to take the time to spend a few extra days if I could. I talked to my team leader and got clearance to take Thursday and Friday off. I was all prepared for it to be a difficult weekend, and it was but not for the reasons I expected it to be.

My niece was happy to see me, as were my sister and brother-in-law. Unfortunately, one of my nephews had turned up with swine flu the Monday before, and it ended up passing through the family. My brother-in-law got it on Thursday and my sister on Friday. Luckily, my niece didn't get it, but she did get some type of flu, which was scary considering her delicate condition.

It was inspiration that I went to my sister's house just at the right time and was available to help out. My sister said they couldn't have possibly made it without me. I cooked meals, washed the dishes, ran to the store for supplies and medicine and supervised the other non-sick children (my three nephews). Just like a mother.

Of course my sister is a mother to her core so she had difficulty completely relinquishing her responsibilities to me so she still did far more than she probably should have in her diseased state. But I tried to help as much as I could and if nothing else offered support, assistance and love. Just like a mother.

On Saturday while my sister was resting I made my second run to the store to pick up a few other supplies. I took my two nephews with me and as their bribery for coming (ick!) shopping with me, I introduced them to Baskin Robbins, which they thought was cool. It was a good opportunity for me to bond with them, one of my goals for the weekend. I hope they felt special and loved because I know this situation must be hard on them with all the attention focused on their sister. That night my other sister and I took her two kids and my three nephews out trick-0r-treating. It's been an awfully long time since I've gone, but it was fun. Here's a picture of the kids in their costumes. I took it with pride--just like a mother.

Shouldering so much responsibility was not always easy, and I felt the pressure at times. Luckily, I had good friends to support me the two times when I almost lost it. My brother also came up, and I was so happy to see him. I was grateful to have even a small taste of what motherhood will be like someday when I have the experience for myself.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Replay -- Do Not Laugh?

Oh my poor neglected blog! I officially reached an all time low last month in only writing in here twice. Oops! Oh well! I guess that means life events have just kept me so busy that I haven't had the time or the inclination to write, not always sure which. But let's not dwell on all of that. I'm more interested in talking about today.

I'm going to start by saying today was just one of those days, you know the ones when nothing catastrophic happens but it seems a whole series of small events happen that seriously seem to mess things up? And bear with me because this post is going to be long. If you get bored, just skip to the middle/end part which is where the humor comes in. :)

To start off, I've been recovering from a rather nasty illness this week, and last night was the first night I tried to sleep without medication. It seems my body didn't like that idea or maybe I've turned into a minor drug addict because it didn't work out so well. I woke up at 2:30 a.m. and although I tried, I was unable to go back to sleep. *sigh * Probably a little bit of a setback to my recovery. I didn't even feel tired until right before it was time to go to work, and by then it was too late to do anything about it.

I felt disconnected and out of it for most of the day. (A measly three hours of sleep will surely do that to you, right.) A slight miscommunication meant I was delayed on a deadline. I heard from someone today that I'd rather not talk to for a variety of reasons, and I just didn't have the emotional energy to deal with it. I was trying so hard not to wallow in everything that I was feeling, but the plain fact is that all I really wanted to do was go home, crawl into bed and cry. I finally resigned myself to feeling miserable at least for a little while.

But then something happened to drastically improve my mood. And it's all thanks to Smirk!

As I was preparing the documents for my deadline, I asked Smirk about the pronunciation of a foreign word contained in the documents. She told me the correct way to say it but then jokingly said she was sure nobody would mind if it was pronounced in a completely unaccented American way and said the words that way. For whatever reason, this set me into peals of giggles.

Laughing is one of my preferred ways to deal with stressors in my life, particularly things I can't control. However, my illness has left me with a lovely smoker laugh that not only sounds funny but also makes me cough, yup, you guessed it, my smoker cough. Good thing this is only temporary!

But even though I know my laugh sounds ridiculi (ask Smirk if you don't know what that is), I couldn't help laughing over and over about this. And then I was writing something on the top of the document and realized that instead of writing "Replay -- Do Not Record", I had instead written "Replay -- Do Not Laugh." You can guess what happened after that. Smoker laugh, smoker laugh.

This may seem like a silly little thing, especially because I kept laughing about it the rest of the afternoon, but honestly, it turned my entire day around. It didn't make the frustrating things go away; instead, it put me in a better mood to deal with them, well some of them anyway. Thank goodness that my mind is so often entertained by simple things. :)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Labor of Love completed

Wow! I haven't written in my blog in quite some time. So sorry for anyone who faithfully follows it and has been waiting and waiting for me to finally write something. . . It isn't that I don't want to write; it's more like hard things have been going on, and I'm trying to cope as best I can. However, I've had several experiences recently that I'd like to write about, so this may be a collection of posts rather than just one.

Remember how several weeks ago I wrote a post about the love quilt we were putting together for my niece? If not, basically everyone in our family made a quilt square of their hand print with a special message and then my aunt took it back to one of her friends who is a talented quilter and put it all together. The result is beautiful. Here are some pictures so you can see for yourself what it looks like and how happy our beautiful girl was to receive it.

These are pictures of the hand prints people made. They are a good reflection of each person's personality, I think.

Here's our happy recipient. My sister told me that when she received the quilt she enjoyed looking at it, putting her hand on all the hand prints and saying, "They really love me."

Look at the beautiful stitching my aunt's friend did on the front and the back. Wow! Thanks to her for doing this for us.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

"Oh Say Can You See. . . "

I meant to write this the other day, but, alas, I got distracted so it didn't get done on time. This is becoming rather of a regular occurrence. Oh well! Better late than never.

So there I was sitting just off the court of the EnergySolutions Arena. I couldn't help thinking that if I were sitting here for an actual game I would have quite an awesome seat! These weren't even the plastic seats but the padded folding chairs. But I digress. Before I get on with my story already though, I have to add just one more thing -- I also thought how much bigger everything looks from this viewpoint instead of miniature from the nosebleed seats where I usually end up. The players would actually look their height and everything!

A panel of judges was sitting about a hundred feet in front of me. I watched as the next singer was called up. She walked to the front clad in black pants and a nice blouse. She pulled the microphone out of the stand and started singing, "Oh, say can you see. . ."

She didn't sound too bad, but one of the judges raised her hand just after "rockets red glare" to stop her. She walked quickly off the floor as the next person was called. Again I listened as the strains of the national anthem began all over again. I was fascinated at first, especially as I listened to each person's take on our country's most famous song. I was also quite interested to note the mode of dress. Some people went completely professional while others took the jeans and T-shirt route. The Fasionista informed me those jeans wearers hadn't read the Web site, however, because it says to dress professionally. . .oops!

You may be wondering just what I was doing on a Friday morning listening to 40 people sing the national anthem. Well, the Fashionista was auditioning to sing it at one of the home Jazz games. We were planning to go to lunch afterwards, but she didn't want to go to the audition by herself so I accompanied her. I found it interesting, but you can only listen to so many people sing the national anthem before it starts sounding tedious. And I was worried about just how long those famous words were going to be stuck in my head. . .

After listening to 30 people, finally it was the Fashionista's turn. She walked confidently up and took the microphone. She put a bit more interpretation into her version than most, and I thought she also added more emotion. Either way she is a talented singer, and I hope it works out for her. The judge cut her off after "rockets red glare" so I'm not sure what that might mean. She cut a number of people off (some deserved to be cut off, particularly those that changed keys where they weren't supposed to--insert wince here, or who dragged it out so you thought it would never end) and others were allowed to continue. In any case, I found it to be an interesting experience and am glad I went with the Fashionista.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oh the Memories!

Tonight I've been sorting through literally hundreds of pictures (and these aren't even the recent ones!) searching for certain ones for a special project I'm working on. It's been a big task, but it's also been rewarding. It reminded me of some of the great memories I have stored up from fun times in my life.

I've always been the queen of pictures, ready with camera in hand to document important life events. I try my hardest not to shy away from having my picture taken either. Even though that means I have some not so great photos of myself, it also means I'm not absent from pictures of important family events. I appreciate that. In some ways it also helps me see how I've grown and changed.

Tonight I was reminded of the time when I only had a niece and a nephew. It seems like so long ago now, especially when I see how little they were in the pictures and how big they are now. Time passes crazy fast and before you know it, you have 12 nieces and nephews, or rather 5 nieces and 7 nephews. And they're growing up so fast. Some of them are on the brink of becoming teenagers. Scary! (If I wasn't technologically impaired, I would scan my pictures into the computer and post a few here, but, alas, I cannot.)

I also ran across many, many pictures from my college days. I'm not going to idealize and say it was such an easy time of my life, but it was certainly a time of growth, learning and discovery. I was so young when I started college as an 18-year-old freshman. Of course I didn't think so then, but I can see now that I was.

I was blessed to have wonderful roommates for the whole time I was at school. They become some of my best friends, and we made fantastic memories together. Some of our more memorable ones include the flour fight/snow dance in the kitchen (we still found flour in the drawers months later!), when my two roomies turned themselves into Texas Rangers and tied the rest of us in our living room, when we played a little "Sixth Sense" joke on our roommate (I'm not going to elaborate so you'll have to use your imagination) or when we played Trading Spaces with our home evening brothers. Ahhh, those were good times! Again, I would post a few pictures, but I am unable to at this time.

If nothing else, this little trip down memory lane has helped remind me that no matter what happens, I have been so very blessed in my life. It humbles me to even think about it, but perhaps that's what it's supposed to do. All I can say is that I'm so glad I had a camera to capture these memories on film. Now I can remember them for many years to come. (Yes, I realize this last part is sappy, and I apologize for that, but I can't help it. I think you can handle it though.)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Reality Check

I think there are times in our lives when we all like to escape from reality. Escaping comes in many forms and includes everything from going on vacation to reading a book or watching a movie. The degree to which we can check out depends entirely on how enticing the distraction is. If the movie or book draws us in, then our escape can be more complete. If they're not so great, well, reality might not be quite as far away as we might hope.

I recognize that the escapism I speak of is a temporary condition, and that's what it's intended to be. But who's to say that you can't enjoy leaving your own life behind for a few hours or a few days, if you go on vacation. I can think of more than one vacation I've taken that's hit just the right spot. . . mmm and what a nice spot it was too. :)

The only setback to escapism is that eventually we have to return to our own life. No matter how compelling the story or how into a TV show or movie you may get, your form of escapism must come to an end. You eventually have to return to reality, which in some cases means returning to work.

Once you return to reality, then the things you're trying to escape from all come crashing back in and you must face them again. It's a hard fact of life, but it's the truth. And honestly, that's the way life's meant to be--we can't avoid the hard things, stressful situations or things that make us sad. We can temporarily escape so we don't have to think about them, but eventually we have to make our way back.

Lest you think this entry beyond depressing, I will end on a happy note. I am also a strong believer in the resiliency of the human spirit and the fact that we are stronger than we think. While life may seem like too much at times, don't ever give up. Keep forging ahead (and it's okay to allow yourself to escape sometimes) and you can and will make it through. Just be careful not to try to turn your form of escapism into your reality. It won't work and could potentially leave you in a worse condition than what you were in before. Face it as much as you can as soon as possible, and you will make it through.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


It's late right now, and I should be going to bed, but I have this idea in my head and if I don't write it down, it's going to bug me. And since I need my sleep, I'd better hop to it.

I am a strong believer in the idea that we are all different. We all come equipped with our own set of ideas, unique perspectives and talents and gifts that are all our own. Sometimes these are similar to others, but many times they are not, especially the combinations within ourselves. And I think this is a wonderful thing, something to be celebrated even because it's what makes us who and what we are. It sets us up to learn from one another and to expand our horizons just by being around someone so different from us.

What I don't understand is why it's sometimes so hard for people to accept these essential parts of us. Why do some people feel the need to change us or to prove that we are missing out on something because we haven't had the same experiences that they have? This is not to say that I believe we should close ourselves off from new ideas or different perspectives; I just mean that I think it's unfair when people can't appreciate our innate characteristics or treat us like we're not as world wise as they are because our background is so vastly different.

Wouldn't it be better to be just a little bit more accepting of these differences, or if we can't, to not be condescending about them? Can't we all try a little harder to see things through someone else's perspective in order to understand why they do or say the things they do? And for goodness sake, even if you think someone's level of understanding and/or experience about something is below your own, can't you just accept this and learn to love them more for it? Ugh!

Okay, I promise that I'm done ranting now. My whole point is to express the desire that people, including myself, should be accepting/understanding and not try to force someone to act or think a certain way because they think it's what's best. They can introduce that person to new ideas and hope it will be beneficial for them, but that's really as far as it goes. We were given the ability to think and reason and also to choose. It's up to us how we use those abilities. Stepping off my soapbox now. . .

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Labor of Love

Some of you may be aware while others of you are not, but my precious and beloved niece, Miss Sassypants, is not doing so well recently. Her heart has decided it's tired of working for her and is showing signs that it's failing. I don't mean to depress any of you by mentioning this; I only say it to explain the significance of this post.

My sister has been trying to think of something she could do to help Miss Sassypants. One of the things suggested to her was to make a Love Quilt. The way it works is that each person in the family makes a square and writes a special message to our girl and then when she uses it, she can feel our love for her. It may sound cheesy, but it fits our situation. It's so difficult to be facing a situation like this and know there's nothing you can do to make it better. This is one little thing we can do. Here are a few pictorial highlights documenting our work on Sunday. Thanks to my wonderful sister-in-law for coordinating all of this!

We'll start with T, K and L. They were excited about this project, but then again K loves artsy/craftsy types of projects and her little sister often follows in her footsteps. :)

Here's me with my purple hand.

And my sister. An appropriate blog name for her is on the tip of my tongue, but it's so late that I can't think what it is, so she'll just have to be nameless for right now.
The newlyweds stopped by before leaving on their honeymoon to get in on this project.

Our adorable baby girl, who charmed everyone in the family, and a few extras besides, also got to do a square. She wasn't too happy about the pressing her hand/foot onto the square, but just look how cute the finished product is!