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. :)