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. :)