Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Junior was in charge of the letter
I realized I was maybe too tired when I accidently wrote "from Satan" instead of "from Santa" on a few and had to re-wrap. Not that my kids would have noticed, but still...we have had enough "gifts" from satan in our family lately, thanks! I also realized around midnight that I had hidden the candy for the stockings a little too well. It still hasn't surfaced but I unearthed a bag of tootsie rolls and a few dum dums and just thanked my lucky stars that my children are not old enough to notice the omission of actual chocolate.
Monday, December 28, 2009
went shopping for the real tree
decorated Christmas cookies with friends
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I hope you laughed as hard as I did (come on, you at least smiled, right?)
Little boys are awesome...
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
On the other hand, he is far more of a stinker than Junior ever was. He is into more, he is more stubborn, he is more messy with pretty much everything and is more of a daredevil than Junior. He often comes up with excuses for things he has done wrong, from the simple "I didn't did that..." (even when we all sat and watched him do "it") to more elaborate excuses including blaming the cat, Jesus and sometimes Sis. Tonight was my favorite though. I was in the living room changing Sis for bed when he wandered in...
Bubba: (innocently) "What was that noise?"
Me: (distracted) "What noise?"
Bubba: (still innocent) "The noise that sounded like water, or like 'swimmy' and 'bubbles' fish food got spilled? hmmm..."
Me: (still distracted) What? I don't know..."
After I put them to bed, I went into the kitchen to find that the fish food had indeed been spilled. I wonder who might have done it?
Monday, December 21, 2009
On the flip side, I have an amazing, sensitive family who know me very well and have tried to forestall any unnecessary triggers for me. Weeks ago, they forbade me to go anywhere near my ornament box, which holds my only collection. For the last eleven years, I have been collecting an ornament from every country I visit and every vacation I go on. Over the years, the ornament collection has expanded to include one every year that best represents our year (i.e. a little house when we bought this house, a car ornament for J for the year he bought a car he really loved, a hummingbird ornament for the year he began his business since he was so busy, going from one project to another, etc.) My tree has never been matchy, but every ornament has a story. They are not up this year. I am not even sure what I will do in future years. I can't bring myself to throw away the little ceramic bird from our honeymoon in Mexico, or the ornament that commemorates the year we got married. Being ditched by your spouse tends to really stink when you are a sentimental junkie like me. Everything hurts and it hurts worse to throw it away. Any ideas for an ornament that represents this year? Do they sell broken heart ornaments? A trash can? A gilded mini divorce decree? Most likely I will go with something that says 'hope" although I haven't gotten it yet.
I all but kiss it good night along with the kids, I love it so much...I had one of these before, but had to go with the best price on ebay and ended up with a boring but serviceable black one, which has found a new home with my older sister Jen in return for all the babysitting she did over the summer for me while I tried to keep my whole life from falling apart.
I keep thinking about how last year I never would have expected to be in this position this year. I knew we would have a six month old baby by then, but didn't think anything else would have changed too drastically. I am really trying to enjoy this season for the boys sake but the truth is that I just want it to be over. I am looking forward to Christmas morning, which I have chosen to keep quiet with just me and the kids, because I so rarely get to be the bearer of fun things. These days, I am the one making them do chores and stop fighting and be respectful. I am not looking forward to not sharing that fun morning with the father of my kids, or the idea that doing so is no longer in the cards. I suppose the thing that will get me through this Christmas season is the idea that my life has altered so much once, it can change again and hopefully for the better. I don't want to assume I will be in the same position this time next year. I don't know who will be in or out of my life by then but I can't imagine it could feel worse than this year. I know I will have an almost seven year old, a four year old and an 18 month old who will be getting her first doll. I hope for peace in my heart by then although I am still taking that one on faith that it can and will come. I have yet to catch a glimpse of how this will all turn out ok.
In the meantime, I have two more days in which I am not allowed starches or sugar but after that, anything (within reason) goes...What delicious thing should I make in my beautiful new mixer? If you live near me, you can come help me eat it. I promise to put away my scrooge like feelings for the evening :-)
Saturday, December 12, 2009
When the boys are gone, it's worse. They are with me full time during the week and it feels like a wrench to have them away. I wonder about them the whole time. How is Junior's cold? Will Bubba (who has been crawling into my bed every night) know where to find dad in a strange apartment? Are the doors and windows locked at night? Are they asking about me to J 100 times a day like they ask about him here? Both boys have been having abandonment based nightmares and I worry about them waking up in unfamiliar surroundings. Their beds are so empty and I find myself wandering in there from habit every time I get up in the night (which is still fairly often - all I want for Christmas is a good night's sleep :-) I do enjoy the time I get to bond with Sis. The third child of a now single mom doesn't usually get that much one on one face time.
The boys are often thrown off for a day or two when they get home. It's then that I have to answer the questions that are hard; "why doesn't dad love you, mom?" (I don't know...) "Why can't you just come with us to dad's next time?" (I wish he wanted that...) "Do you miss us when we are gone?" (so much...). I worry about what I am missing because I know that J misses so much around here on a daily basis. I know I miss the family adventures we used to do. Hardly a Saturday went by that we weren't heading out for somewhere by mid afternoon, even if it was just McDonald's play land. It feels hollow when I do that with them now. Something is missing and it can't help but feel unreal, like what we are doing and feeling is temporary. Bubba still thinks it is. He often refers to "when dad comes home" and Junior, who seems to finally be getting it, will say "remember Bubba, dad is never coming back home..." He sounds subdued and resigned and it is clear that he is still not fooled by the lure of another bedroom and fun weekends if it means that dad lives across town. I think something in me will really break the day that Bubba also stops patiently expecting his daddy to come home. Something has already broken in me that Sis will never know to expect that daddy's do anything but live far away and see them a few times a week.
I want my little "monkey see" and "monkey do" to understand what a family life should be and I am afraid to have this situation become normal for them at such a young age. They will never know how it should feel to have a united mom and dad under the same roof committed to them. J and I have tried to agree that we will remain as close as possible in terms of raising them and keeping rules and curfews and morals consistent But if parenting with a partner in the home is hard, parenting with a partner from a distance who is giving into a life of morals I don't agree with is completely terrifying. There is no guarantee that we can remain on the same pages now regarding the upbringing of these kids for the next 18 years. I don't want them to grow up this way, always shuttling back and forth between parents. I don't ever want them to think that this is an acceptable life for their children either. People (J included, I believe) tend to generalize my future for me in an attempt to comfort me in my current circumstance and I know their story for me ends with "...and she found a really great guy and they got married." Even though I know that this sentiment is kindly meant, to me it doesn't feel anywhere near that easy or probable. It's very ironic that J, who has found himself to be a Dr. Laura fan, always said he wholeheartedly agreed with her sentiment that if you get divorced, you DO NOT remarry until your children are grown and gone. I'm not sure where I stand. I am even more protective of my little ones than ever. Someone who is willing to love my kids mostly for my sake will not be acceptable. My standards for a second father for these kids will be very high. When it comes right down to it, their own father was not willing to remain here and raise them, even though he does love them (just not more than his own path and desires). I have a very hard time believing that anyone else can or will love my children enough to satisfy me. I will never say never, but the bottom line is that my kids don't need two dads who only half-love them. I took a chance on J when he asked me to marry him. I invested everything I had in this life of ours. I envisioned raising our children together, retiring and growing old together. I never thought for a moment that anything except death would thwart those plans. I sometimes wonder if he took the best of my ability to love anyone else because I will never be that trusting again. What clinches it is that he did nothing to try to regain that trust. He never gave me the option to see if I could get that back. I thought I could, but now I will never know.
So here I am on another lonely, quiet weekend, missing my boys. I have been sitting here wondering if I would have changed things and not married J if I had known how this relationship would turn out and it is so tempting to say yes (cue Garth Brook's 'The Dance'...). Then I remember what Junior has been saying to me a lot lately:
Thursday, December 10, 2009
This message was by Elder D. Todd Christofferson (one of the truly great men of this world) and appeared in the November 2006 Ensign. It's powerful, succinct, inspiring and 100% true. I don't care if you are a Mormon, Catholic, Wizard, Environmentalist or Hottentot, the same principles listed here apply to all men. I would never suggest that you have to be LDS to be a good person or a good man, but we are promised so much if we are obedient. Everything we are asked to do by the church is intended to steer us toward happiness. When it comes to living the gospel, if you have one foot in and one foot out, you don't get that promise of happiness. You get chaos. If you do what has been suggested 100%, God is bound in his promise to you and you are entitled to that much more happiness. There is nothing else I can think of in this world that is a sure thing. Try it out. I double-dog dare you... Thanks for the heads up on this, Jared.
Years ago, when my brothers and I were boys, our mother had radical cancer surgery. She came very close to death. Much of the tissue in her neck and shoulder had to be removed, and for a long time it was very painful for her to use her right arm.
One morning about a year after the surgery, my father took Mother to an appliance store and asked the manager to show her how to use a machine he had for ironing clothes. The machine was called an Ironrite. It was operated from a chair by pressing pedals with one’s knees to lower a padded roller against a heated metal surface and turn the roller, feeding in shirts, pants, dresses, and other articles. You can see that this would make ironing (of which there was a great deal in our family of five boys) much easier, especially for a woman with limited use of her arm. Mother was shocked when Dad told the manager they would buy the machine and then paid cash for it. Despite my father’s good income as a veterinarian, Mother’s surgery and medications had left them in a difficult financial situation.
On the way home, my mother was upset: “How can we afford it? Where did the money come from? How will we get along now?” Finally Dad told her that he had gone without lunches for nearly a year to save enough money. “Now when you iron,” he said, “you won’t have to stop and go into the bedroom and cry until the pain in your arm stops.” She didn’t know he knew about that. I was not aware of my father’s sacrifice and act of love for my mother at the time, but now that I know, I say to myself, “There is a man.”
The prophet Lehi pled with his rebellious sons, saying, “Arise from the dust, my sons, and be men” (2 Nephi 1:21;). By age, Laman and Lemuel were men, but in terms of character and spiritual maturity they were still as children. They murmured and complained if asked to do anything hard. They didn’t accept anyone’s authority to correct them. They didn’t value spiritual things. They easily resorted to violence, and they were good at playing the victim.
We see some of the same attitudes today. Some act as if a man’s highest goal should be his own pleasure. Permissive social mores have “let men off the hook” as it were, so that many think it acceptable to father children out of wedlock and to cohabit rather than marry.1 Dodging commitments is considered smart, but sacrificing for the good of others, naive. For some, a life of work and achievement is optional. A psychologist studying the growing phenomenon of what he calls “young men stuck in neutral” describes this scenario:
“Justin goes off to college for a year or two, wastes thousands of dollars of his parents’ money, then gets bored and comes home to take up residence in his old room, the same bedroom where he lived when he was in high school. Now he’s working 16 hours a week at Kinko’s or part time at Starbucks.
“His parents are pulling their hair out. ‘Justin, you’re 26 years old. You’re not in school. You don’t have a career. You don’t even have a girlfriend. What’s the plan? When are you going to get a life?’
“‘What’s the problem?’ Justin asks. ‘I haven’t gotten arrested for anything, I haven’t asked you guys for money. Why can’t you just chill?’”2
How’s that for ambition?
We who hold the priesthood of God cannot afford to drift. We have work to do (see Moroni 9:6). We must arise from the dust of self-indulgence and be men! It is a wonderful aspiration for a boy to become a man—strong and capable; someone who can build and create things, run things; someone who makes a difference in the world. It is a wonderful aspiration for those of us who are older to make the vision of true manhood a reality in our lives and be models for those who look to us for an example.
In large measure, true manhood is defined in our relationship to women. The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have given us the ideal to pursue in these words:
“The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. … By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.”3
Over the years, I have visited members of the Church in many countries, and despite differences in circumstances and cultures, everywhere I have been impressed with the faith and capacity of our women, including some of the very young. So many of them possess a remarkable faith and goodness. They know the scriptures. They are poised and confident. I ask myself, Do we have men to match these women? Are our young men developing into worthy companions that such women can look up to and respect?
President Gordon B. Hinckley, speaking in this meeting in April 1998, gave specific counsel for young men:
“The girl you marry will take a terrible chance on you. … [You] will largely determine the remainder of her life. …
“Work for an education. Get all the training that you can. The world will largely pay you what it thinks you are worth. Paul did not mince words when he wrote to Timothy, ‘But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel’ (1 Tim. 5:8).”4
Integrity is fundamental to being men. Integrity means being truthful, but it also means accepting responsibility and honoring commitments and covenants. President N. Eldon Tanner, a former counselor in the First Presidency and a man of integrity, told of someone who sought his advice:
“A young man came to me not long ago and said, ‘I made an agreement with a man that requires me to make certain payments each year. I am in arrears, and I can’t make those payments, for if I do, it is going to cause me to lose my home. What shall I do?’
“I looked at him and said, ‘Keep your agreement.’
“‘Even if it costs me my home?’
“I said, ‘I am not talking about your home. I am talking about your agreement; and I think your wife would rather have a husband who would keep his word, meet his obligations, … and have to rent a home than to have a home with a husband who will not keep his covenants and his pledges.’”5
Good men sometimes make mistakes. A man of integrity will honestly face and correct his mistakes, and that is an example we can respect. Sometimes men try but fail. Not all worthy objectives are realized despite one’s honest and best efforts. True manhood is not always measured by the fruits of one’s labors but by the labors themselves—by one’s striving.6
Though he will make some sacrifices and deny himself some pleasures in the course of honoring his commitments, the true man leads a rewarding life. He gives much, but he receives more, and he lives content in the approval of his Heavenly Father. The life of true manhood is the good life.
Most importantly, when we consider the admonition to be men, we must think of Jesus Christ. When Pilate brought Jesus forth wearing a crown of thorns, he declared, “Behold the man!” (see John 19:4–5). Pilate may not have fully understood the significance of his own words, but the Lord indeed stood before the people then as He stands today—the highest ideal of manhood. Behold the man!
The Lord asked His disciples what manner of men they should be and then answered, “Verily I say unto you, even as I am” (3 Nephi 27:27; see also 3 Nephi 18:24). That is our ultimate quest. What did He do that we can emulate as men?
Jesus rejected temptation. When confronted by the great tempter himself, Jesus “[yielded] not to the temptation” (Mosiah 15:5). He countered with scripture: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Gospel commandments and standards are our protection also, and like the Savior, we may draw strength from the scriptures to resist temptation.
The Savior was obedient. He forsook completely the “natural man” (Mosiah 3:19) and yielded His will to the Father (see Mosiah 15:7). He was baptized to show “that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments” (2 Nephi 31:7).
Jesus “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). He employed the divine powers of the holy priesthood to bless those in need, “such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases” (Mosiah 3:5). Jesus told His Apostles: “Whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:44–45). As His fellow servants, we may become great in His kingdom through love and service.
The Savior was fearless in opposing evil and error. “Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple … and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Matthew 21:12–13). He called upon all to repent (see Matthew 4:17) and be forgiven (see John 8:11; Alma 5:33). So might we stand firm in defending sacred things and in raising the warning voice.
He gave His life to redeem mankind. Surely we can accept responsibility for those He entrusts to our care.
Brethren, let us be men, even as He is. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Look mom! No hands (starting to outgrow the swing. What will I do!?...)
Successfully grabbing and chewing on everything around her that she can reach