Wednesday

Be A Cork

"Some people are like rocks thrown into a sea of problems. They are drowned by them. Be a cork. When submerged in a problem, fight to be free to bob up to serve again with happiness…" 
"The Lord is intent on your personal growth and development…When you trust in the Lord, when you are willing to let your heart and your mind be centered on His will, when you ask to be led by the Spirit to do His will, you are assured of the greatest happiness along the way and the most fulfilling attainment from this mortal experience"
 --Elder Richard G Scott

I just want to make sure I document the fact that God's hand is in my life. I wasn't so sure for a period of time. I mean I know God knows me and my situation, but sometimes I feel like He is keeping me at arms length, checking in every now and then assuming I would figure it out in time, certainly others have. Is that just a me thing - thinking I am unworthy of blessings? (I know what you're thinking, I'm the one putting God at an arm's length, hindsight 20/20)

But I was having a hard time feeling happiness and joy. It was as if I dug a hole and stood content only seeing that hole. Not only that, but I added in despair, anger, impatience, jealousy and other crap and sat in it like they were my new best friends. Heck, many of you dear friends would probably pat me on the back and be all kinds of understanding even when it smelled like poo, but I also appreciate those who offered hope, even if seemingly limited. 

Because the thing is, even though my situation hasn't changed, my mind and heart has. Yes, I still have those moments of "if I linger here just a little longer I'm going to be swimming in sheeat" - wallowing in self pity is definitely a downward spiral. But the weight has been lifted. I don't have a better way of explaining it than the fact that I just have hope in a better future. My energy is no longer drained from stress and worry. A little bit of that anger has dissipated. Working some has been a part of that, which was also a blessing and essential to that bigger picture that exists out there. 


Prayer can be tricky for me sometimes. Because there is this agency vs the power of God of which I don't have a complete understanding. How do I reconcile unanswered prayers? I don't feel like God is always waiting for us to knock in order to move mountains. Certainly it plays a part. But prayer isn't just a way to make requests. However, it is always a way to gain strength. On Sunday the teacher used the metaphor of an extension cord for that very reason, and I related to that. God isn't even waiting for us to complete x y & z. Trying to make righteous decisions puts us in the mindset that can feel the Spirit, whether that is to be guided or to be uplifted. And whether hard times are self inflicted or not, they are always opportunities for us to draw closer to the Lord.

"No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God…and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we came here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven."
--Orson F Whitney

Sunday

Living With An Anarchist

I'm kind of kidding about the title. I mean in some moments it's completely true.


I feel like I need to share more stories. The little ones that happen e.v.e.r.y day like that period of silence you've been begging for the last hour, but you don't actually want because the silence of a toddler 95% of the time means crayons on the wall, another lost box of tissues, ear swabs all over the floor, the toilet as the new bath or something to that effect (I mean did she really have to stick her hand in the toilet after our friend's daughter went pee? Where was I? oh right). We love stepping on cheerios. They can reach that china and they will eat all the mints out of your purse no matter where you try to hide them. One day, they'll finally learn how the zipper works. It just takes that one time of being human and lacking the energy or second thought that involves hiding everything you hold dear from the little anarchists. Which is why I'm quickly learning not to care about having nice things or things I even call mine. I'm still human and feel like I want some things that don't come with sticky pages, but complete selflessness may not be reached in this life. However, getting married and having kids = large, significant steps in that direction. Because even if you fight it, you can't outlast it; said little tyrants will stop and look at you and say something ridiculously charming and your heart melts, because you're a sucker


After one time in nursery, grandma was told that they weren't sure how much Lexi understood from their little lessons, but the lesson that day was on saying they are sorry and as soon as Lexi heard that word she went around to every child giving hugs and saying "sorry." So they realized she knows that word. And they implied that we teach it to her . . . a lot. They may not be wrong. At the moment there are two toddlers here pretty regularly, which means there are several "put them in the ring" battles or just the casual body slam, face swipe, etc… most of the time I feel like I have to pick my battles because I just can't handle all the negativity. In normal circumstances, the daily environment would be a little different, i.e. I lack some control over what's available to her at the moment. Recently, she started throwing fits e.v.e.r.y time she wants something and we say no or at least it seems that way. I just kinda go back to what I was doing and try to ignore it, but I do tell her to get over it; I've just realized she isn't as easily consoled or distracted anymore. What, this spatula isn't amazing?! Oh it's a weapon. Now I have to give up the entire tupperware drawer...

We say this is the time where they learn habits, because it is true, but where is the line between behave well because you know better versus you aren't even two years old yet and you poo your pants without a second thought? So yes, she knows when she is doing something that will probably get her middle name hollered out, BUT is she really internalizing anything? To her, the world is a game and everyone should want to play with her even if she claims all the toys are hers. Because who doesn't enjoy playing with tyrants? (She can be fairly decent with sharing if it doesn't involve a doll)


Eventually, she will need to know when to use her inside voice, keep her hands to herself and share if she wants friends. We're assuming that's only if we repeat certain phrases from the time of their birth? Whatever. Until I can have an honest heart to heart, it's a 1 minute "time away"for the real sins of causing bodily harm, but for most things - I'm all about distraction or survival of the fittest. I guess we just want to know what all those parents with riotous children are doing so that we don't do that. Everyone has the answer.

Another leader said she has a son in the room who is always the rougher one, but she appreciates Lexi because she is the only one who can put up a fight and handle him. #fighttothedeathfortoys - And I appreciate people who can appreciate her!

Her most recent word has been "funny" and she mostly uses it in situations where she is causing messes. But she also goes "Maren funny". Typically, she throws the fruit down the stairs and says "funny" or dumps out the blocks as soon as you clean them up, etc… super funny!! Along with that, another word + action is "walk" as she pulls on your hand. She will fuss until you get up and walk with her to where ever she wants to go. Tyrant no? She has her moments. Again, our world revolves around them. So as soon as we internalize and accept that... Mickey Mouse on repeat for the hundredth time… joke! Obviously their experience with life is limited so we should not assume they know best even if they learned how to repeat the word as if they expected a cracker


She talks to the Mickey Mouse show; it's not really an understandable language, but neither is Mickey Mouse. I can't tell you enough how obsessed she is with it. These days, she doesn't watch anything else. She just constantly asks for "Peeka" and definitely watches it too much. She will scream his name with complete euphoria. It's not an addiction. I mean it is. We are allowing those brain cells to slowly zap zap zap away because we are lazy. I mean I could go on about this with my lack of creativity, energy etc… but I'm just going to end it with a goal that one day my children will know what it's like to play outside.

I fear I focused on the negative, tyrant image of todders, but to be completely honest although everything above can cause headaches, it truly is a blessing to see your children grow and it is twenty times easier when they can communicate and do things on their own. Every phase is a blessing and a curse. The curse is really a chance for us adults to learn and grow. I will have my arms wrapped around her when she is laying on me and if I take them off, she will whine and go to grab my hands to put them back around her. I mean, you can't not love those moments when she waits for me at the top of the stairs while I run and grab something "okay mommy" - I mean seriously. I love this phase that encompasses more than "no". They want us to be happy. They want to make us happy. And it's the best thing to wake up to "hey mommy" every day.


Life likes to toss out lemons to catch our reactions. So today, it's nice to be happy. And secretly, we like cleaning up the messes and being the shoulder to cry on. All of the craziness makes life worth talking about. And we are all learning from each other. There is no one answer. Each child is different. That's why there are a billion books on this crap. And really only God knows.

And of course, Mr Smith




Wednesday

How Did You Meet?

I've written the story about how we met before. He has shared part of the story as well. But I'm worried I'm forgetting the little details; I'm not sure how good at journal writing I was back then. I just blogged a lot (remember), but because my blog isn't private, I don't share everything.

You know how you watch movies and when someone passes away, they show clips of memories with that person as if they were right there. I'm not sure my memory is that great, but sometimes I try and go back and play the videos in my mind. It is always hard to see faces, but I smile at thinking about those moments. I'm scared I will lose those images. Some people might think that is silly; enjoy the present.  But I think I enjoy the present more when I think about how far I've come, we've come. Those moments seem like ages ago already.

The night of the Halloween party. "twins" was about as good as we got.
I remember seeing him at that Halloween party. I remember walking right by him trying to be noticed, but I wasn't. I remember walking out the door with my roommates and standing around the car talking about how cute that boy was who walked in when the party was over. We had just sat on the stage forever bored from the singles-ward party thinking we will never find real love. My roommate, Rachel, was bold and I remember waiting for her when she got back with his roommate's number. She said she had asked them to text her if they were interested in doing something with her roommates. I told you, bold. But of course we didn't hear from them. I slowly forgot about that cute boy, but my roommate hadn't.

We walked into the final institute of the year and sat in the back. I went to talk to Ally who was dating someone new. I walked back to the bench with my roommates and they were joking with some men across the isle. We were a little squished because people had sat on our pew. I wasn't sure who was sitting behind me, but I could tell he noticed me.

Oh the people that help you get where you need to go . . .

I was in this awful Christmas performance. It really wasn't awful, but the fact that I was part of the back up singers that had to shimmy around Elvis in a red sequins dress sounds pretty dreadful, but for whatever reason when they asked me to take part, I agreed. Devon took the video for me and we headed over to share that video with the other two dancers after institute that night.  We pulled up in the parking lot and I was like oh.my.word that's him, that's the guy who sat behind us who I thought was cute.

That was when Rachel informed me that the man at institute and the man at the Halloween party were the same AND not only that but she had been trying to set us up on a blind date! I'm not sure how I processed the irony because I definitely didn't act like I was interested that night! In fact, I remember talking to someone about a different guy. I remember sitting on the arm of the couch as she downloaded the video, watching my roommates talk to Mr Smith. And then I remember him walking over to shake my hand and ask for my name as he was leaving. And I remember thinking he went out of his way to ask my name.

Two weeks later Christmas had come and gone. We were back into the single Mormon life and I randomly tagged along on a karaoke restaurant/bar night. We walked in and once again I was shocked to see Mr Smith sitting at a table with three other women. I feel like I went straight to that table saying hello to one of them, perhaps it was him? I can't even remember if he assumed I forgot his name. My roommates and I danced some on the dance floor and I feel like he came up and tried to talk to me. But it was so loud. Everyone went to another table to order food. He came over to the table with us and sat between me and my roommate. There were a few other girls there that night I hadn't gotten to know well, but I found out some offensive news about another guy that set me back a little. But I was on some "oh no he didn't" high and just enjoying a little drama/ gossip I guess. I couldn't tell you a single thing that me and Mr Smith talked about. Eventually we decided it was too loud to hold conversations and our waitress was getting impatient when she realized we weren't ordering drinks. So I guess someone had a great idea to go to the Korean karaoke bar across town. 

There were a lot of us, so we split up into two different rooms. There were a couple of people I didn't know, I really wish we had pictures from that night. I don't remember ever seeing any. I don't remember everyone in that room. I don't remember sitting by Mr Smith, but I remember trying to catch his gaze from across the room. I know I caught it. And I definitely know someone made him get up and sing with them. For the life of me, I want that video now. I'm pretty sure I sung to Shania Twain and one other. I had a really good time. It was sometime towards the end of January. I am pretty sure I left without ever speaking to Mr Smith. But he added me on Facebook that night. I didn't like to fb chat, but I knew it was our chance.

The weekend with Abby. [Me, Devon, Abby & Rachel]

That weekend I went to Abby's cabin with my roommates and I believe that is when Mr Smith started texting me (he got my number through Facebook). I told Rachel to lay off the blind date request because I believed I'd have the chance & I didn't want him thinking I was the stalker behind the blind date, only kinda!

We met up after institute one night at my house (because he came down to VA for my institute) and we got a frozen pizza at the grocery store and came back to the house to talk? I remember him sitting close to me on the couch; and I thought it odd. I felt like conversation was easy, like he understood everything I was and wasn't saying. I don't feel like I had any expectations for us. I was a little jaded from a couple other guys and I was distracted by a couple new developments, which never happened. I felt like I went from being invisible to the spotlight in one month. But maybe that was the best way to meet Mr Smith, distracted and confident.

I remember Valentines to be a turning point. I still wasn't dating anyone exclusively, but guys know that Valentines Day is tricky when you aren't in a relationship yet. So it matters who you spend it with and what you do. I chose Mr Smith. And I guess the rest is history.

  
I'm grateful for every single person who was there along the journey. It is a crazy world where the unexpected definitely happens. And sometimes that's just perfect.

Friday

Working

All it takes is for me to need some photos for work, one or two to display my family on my desk and I find that I have nothing that sums us up perfectly. I'm either not flawlessly beautiful or Lexi has a funny, but not charming face and well then there is Mr Smith who knows I don't pay attention to him in the photo. I could always go back to the wedding photos of us if all else fails, like our engagements did.

Here are the photos I decided on:


Unfortunately, we took the photo on the right after I already sent out invitations
But it is blurry so it looks best as a 4x6.
And Mr Smith didn't tell me that was the last time he would do anything like that again.


He gave me his beanie to keep me warm. I miss how beautiful DC is.



8 Things I Like About Working

1. I get to listen to WHATEVER I want in the car during my 20 minute commute or just enjoy the quiet. QUIET.

2. My workspace is QUIET or I can stick headphones in without a problem

3. I don't feel as stupid and out of place as I did when they showed their best on interview day. There is still a learning curve, but things are less unknown and less abstract as the days go on.

4. I get dressed. I actually feel ready for the day. As if I accomplished something by putting on the work pants.

5. I know I'm making something, even if minimal, some money.

6. Going to work kind of seems like a vacation. It is completely separate from the rest of my life.

7. #6 exists because I work half days. I could get used to only working 4 hours a day.

8. I'm remembering & learning again. My brain turned to mush post baby.




Wednesday

Cold, Cold & Freezing

Well, Christmas was the first time we got snow that actually stayed. So, we attempted a snowman in the dry snow. I'll admit, a little subpar and duckish, but we let the girls create the overall design. A deer ate the carrot nose a few days later and now it is buried under a snow slide. As long as she is properly wrapped, she enjoys the snow. And thanks to G-ma Looper, we have some bibs that allow her to be so.   It's the infant gloves that are trickier. That Christmas morning, she totally biffed it out to the car face first, and that's not exactly the best way to wake up.  Any how - Alexis has been introduced to snow and appreciates the hat & gloves. It is entertaining to watch her walk around in the get-up.


Ignore my asian eyes, the snow is incredibly bright



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