I'm a little behind...

I've been catching up on old posts, so make sure you scroll down.

Monday, April 30, 2012

More than we can handle.


I've learned some life lessons in the past couple of years. One big one is that each individual person has their own unique struggles and trials. And each person deals with them differently, with different levels of tolerance. In our church, we often hear the saying, "God will not give us more than we can handle." I'm guessing this saying stems from scriptures like Mosiah 4:27: "...it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength," or 1 Corinthians 10:13: "[God] will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able." Neither of these scriptures, when applied within context, really apply to situations of human suffering, such as stress, joblessness, illness, or death. But we like to reassure ourselves with the saying anyway.

But I'll say this. The Megan of three years ago was not able to handle her baby boy's death. The Megan of two years ago was not able to handle a child with special needs in her life. But the Megan of today is. Or at least she's doing her best, and she's still here, so I'm going to generously state that she's able to handle it. I'm thinking that God lets life happen to us, and life sometimes gives us more than we can handle. But God helps us become people who can handle those things.

So it's definitely not for me to judge when someone else is going through a trial that seems insignificant compared to mine. Because at that point in their life, it is more than they can handle. During my moments of grief over the past couple years, my mother never once said anything to the effect of, "It's really not that big of a deal. At least you're not dealing with _____." Even though she could have. Because my struggles have been nothing compared to hers. I've only lost one child. I only have one baby with special needs. That's just for starters.

And I quietly hope that my friends and acquaintances aren't hesitant to share their trials with me for that reason. Because grief needs to be shared, and I like to think I'm a pretty good sounding board. I want to listen to them gripe about how difficult that job search/house remodel/acute illness/bad hair day is. Because life is really hard, and it's usually not the huge things that make it that way. I really get that. And just because I have gained some extra perspective in the last couple years, that doesn't mean I don't struggle with things that pale in comparison to the big things.

So those big trials? The ones that make you think: This is it. This has to be the biggest thing I'll ever face. We all have them on varying levels. So for my imaginary friend Jane, Trial X is the one that rules her life right now, and it's more than she can handle. I don't understand Trial X. I've never gone through it. But I can definitely understand going through a trial I can't handle. It's the hardest thing imaginable, and it doesn't matter if there's a huge number of people who have been through Trial X, and more. When you're going through a trial like Trial X, whatever that might be for you, you don't care. So, for that reason, I feel for her, regardless of how her one big trial compares to mine.

Life is hard. Sometimes more than we can handle. But if we make it through, we become someone new. Someone who can handle it. And I'm sure God knew all along that we could.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Moving right along

  • Bree is learning addition and subtraction, has been mastering dolch words using flash cards, and has finished reading the Dick and Jane collection.
  • Mason spends his time begging to play Lego Indiana Jones, playing with his toys, running, bouncing, and sliding around on his knees (most of his pants didn't make it through the cold season intact), and alternately eating more than Chad or refusing to eat much at all.
  • Lincoln has three teeth: one on the top, two on the bottom. We thought we'd get a break from teething woes, but he has two more coming in on the top. Poor guy. But he sure loves to eat. When we pour Cheerios on the high-chair tray, he shovels them into his mouth with both fists at an impressive speed.
  • I've lost over 25 pounds in the last three months! That's how much extra weight I had when Lincoln was born almost a year ago, and it's taken this long to finally get motivated to lose it. A fresh outlook with the new year, and our ward's Biggest Loser competition were the kick in the pants I needed. I've been working a couple days a month, and I've been enjoying it. I've also been slowly chipping away at my list of 30 goals, which has been a fun project.
  • Chad is working 10-hour day shifts right now, with Wednesdays through Fridays off. I've been enjoying the schedule, but am anxious to have him able to come to church with us again; it seems like he's been working Sundays forever, and it will be nice to have him there with me. He's been eating healthy with me, and has lost at least 15 pounds. And he's been cutting back on video game playing to spend more quality time with the kids and me, and tells me he's been enjoying that.
  • Last Sunday my parents took all the kids with them for the week, and Chad took the time off so we could have a "staycation." We worked hard most of the time (except for a visit with Adam and Heather, in between trips to hardware stores), completing projects that are next to impossible with three kids running/crawling around.
    • All white walls, trim, and baseboards now have a fresh coat of paint. All evidence of nose-wiping, hand-trailing, and rogue ball point pens has been wiped away.
    • We have new bi-fold doors on our laundry closet. Which are freshly painted. They look exactly the same as our old ones, but they open and close smoothly, with only one hand. And the one doesn't completely unfold off the track in an unnatural manner. And the other doesn't go "kreeeaach-ch-kkk" when you slide it open. They are lovely and as they should be.
    • The forced air vents for our air conditioning have now been taped up and sealed, the final of a series of attempts to control the toxic allergen situation in our home. We put in a new allergy-rated air filter, and are optimistic.
    • I finished the grout-cleaning project that my mom started months ago. When we were getting ready to move into this house, we had new tile installed throughout the kitchen, living room, dining room, halls, and bathrooms while Bree was being born (literally the same day; I went into labor after a long day prepping the subfloors). So I sent Chad to Globe to seal all the grout before we moved in. Well, he sealed the bathrooms, and I think the closets, then ran out of grout sealer. So he came home. And the rest of our grout never got sealed. Fast-forward six years...the grout that was originally light beige is now dark brown. But not uniformly, so I couldn't just pretend it was supposed to be brown. Anyway, after many hours of work (mostly by my mom) scrubbing and washing and grinding with a wire brush on the drill, the grout is all pretty and ready to seal. I'll probably have to do it in sections, or while the kids are asleep, but it will get done.
    • 25 bags of insulation have been blown in to our attic. We finished at 9 pm Wednesday night because we only had the blower rental for 24 hours. I thought I'd be breaking up blocks of compressed insulation and feeding that machine forever. Then Chad came down from the attic covered in grey dust, and I was grateful to have gotten off easy. We hope to see savings on our future electric bills, and I'm already noticing that our A/C doesn't come on nearly as often to keep the house cool. Oh, and the walls surrounding our heat pump closet? The walls that used to radiate heat all summer long? Cool to the touch. This makes me very happy.
  • Our minivan passed its first test as a cargo van with flying colors. 25 bags of insulation. And then an insulation blower. Thank you Stow-and-Go seating.

It's been busy lately, and I am exhausted. Time for a day off.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

#10

#10: Take a family name to the temple

Tuesday was a busy day. We had to go to Mesa to buy the insulation for our attic. And trips to Mesa quickly become filled with other things we want to do while we're "in town." More shopping. Dinner and games with Adam and Heather. A visit to the temple. We had it all planned out. Unfortunately, Chad ended up having training that morning in Phoenix, so I had to go to the temple by myself. But I was so glad I went. It's been too long. And I have an envelope full of family names (that I prepared years ago) waiting for me to get my act together. Tuesday was Norma Moses' turn. Chad's great aunt. I hope she'll forgive me for taking four years to get everything done. It was a beautiful day at the temple for me. I felt close to loved ones who have passed, and I knew it was right to be there.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

#12 and #25

#12: Attend a theater performance

Every spring and fall our local Copper Cities Community Players put on a theatrical production. I've always wanted to attend, and have even thought about the possibility of trying out for one of their plays and stealing the show. So I finally made it a goal to go see what it's all about. I bought a single ticket, since Chad is supportive enough to watch the kids, but won't take it so far as to actually go with me. The performances are in the theater on the top floor of the Cobre Valley Center for the Arts Building in Historical Downtown Globe (I take voice lessons in the bottom floor; the entrance is just to the left of the entry stairs). This beautiful building used to be the county court house, and I love its charm.


I had fun. I dressed up a little, even though I knew that wouldn't be the norm. And I loved being in the small theater. The energy reminded me of my years of acting in high school productions. The play itself, "The Odd Couple," was not necessarily my cup of tea (though the target audience of our community's older population loved it, I'm sure). Most of the actors were average (Globe is a tiny pool of talent, to be sure), but I was quite impressed by the two leads. I smiled. I laughed. I went home happy. 4/14/12

#25: Leave a $5 bill and a note inside a library book

I hid the cash and a note inside one of my favorite books in the Globe Public Library. Just a few words congratulating the reader on making a stellar book choice. I'm curious to see how long it will take to be discovered. I probably won't be able to resist checking each time I visit the library. 4/16/12

Monday, April 16, 2012

One year already?

There is no way this little guy is one year already. I know, all moms say that when their kids have birthdays. But because Lincoln follows a special timeline, one year seems to have come impossibly soon. At 18 pounds and 27 inches, he doesn't even register on the "normal" growth charts. Strangers in the grocery store can't believe it when I tell them he just turned one. And I'm kind of enjoying that the baby stage is lasting a little longer, allowing me to cuddle him a little more. But he is meeting milestones like crazy.
  • Four teeth, and counting (the two more on the top have still not broken through, but he's been suffering for weeks)
  • Babbling sounds like mama, dada, baba, gooey-gooey
  • Feeds himself (still only using the palmar grasp, but it gets the job done)
  • Eats most of the foods we eat (that he's able to chew), and is learning to like foods with a little spice (I know he's had enough when his eyes tear up)
  • Grins (real and fake)
  • Giggles, (he laughs like crazy when he strokes daddy's face, and loves cheek-to-cheek contact)
  • Watches people intently, and we think more mimicking is around the corner
  • Crawls (or bear walks if he's wearing shorts on the tile)
  • Pulls himself to stand
  • Always has some kind of battle wound on his head (from his brother's or his own doing...it's probably 50/50)
  • Cruises the furniture
  • Can stand holding on to something with one hand, squat to grab a toy, and stand back up
  • Can maneuver in and out of any position Bree and Mason drag him into
  • Sucks his thumb when he's tired
My parents and Adam and Heather joined us for a birthday celebration. After lunch Lincoln opened his presents (it was difficult to get the tissue paper away--that was all he wanted to play with). He got some new things to chew on, because putting things in his mouth is Lincoln's life.



 And then there was cake. After we sang "Happy Birthday," Chad blew out the candle for him, and got an "Excuse me, why would you blow in my face?" look from Lincoln.


Lincoln quickly figured out that sugar is his new best friend.



The sugar made for one happy boy.


And, sadly, I accidentally switched my video camera setting to "time lapse" when I was adjusting the white balance. That's the setting you use when you want to record something really slow, like a plant growing. So all I got was this super-fast recording without sound. I slowed it down in movie maker, so I suppose it's better than nothing.



Happy Birthday Lincoln
4/15/12

Monday, April 9, 2012

Truly Easter

Easter is a tough holiday. I mean, I have no problem with pagan symbols and traditions when it's Halloween. Because it's just Halloween. But on Easter we're supposed to be commemorating Christ's resurrection, and it's difficult to explain that darn bunny and a bunch of colorful eggs to my kids. So I basically told my kids that the bunny and eggs traditions just happen to fall on the same day we celebrate the resurrection; just a coincidence. We can celebrate both, but we have to remember which is more important.

(Cute Easter cupcakes we made with supplies my mom sent us in the mail. Bree and Mason decided which friends and neighbors to share them with.)

And yes, the kids had baskets filled with candy and silly gifts.

 
 

And we found eggs.



But the Easter Bunny also left something special in our basket. It was a letter. The Easter Bunny told our family to remember Christ on this special day, and asked us to watch a special video called "He is Risen" on lds.org. He told us that the reminder of what Christ did for us was the best gift he could give us. So we all watched the video, and even though it's difficult to say how much of this stuff was sinking in (especially when 4-year-old Mason can barely sit still on the couch, let alone contemplate the significance of the atonement and resurrection), it really set a nice tone for the day, and the Easter Bunny was all but forgotten as we got ready for church.

After church, Bree showed me the treats that her teacher had given her, and I commented on how lucky she was. The she said, "Today was the best day at church, ever." I asked her what the best part was, expecting to hear that it was because of the goodies. She said, "The best part was learning about Jesus and his resurrection." I said, "Awww," and told her that made me very happy. Chad commented later that she was probably just telling me what I want to hear. I told him, hey, at least she knows what the best part of Easter really is.

And if she only said it to make me happy, then I'm okay with that.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Jungle Safari Birthday

Bree had big plans for her sixth birthday. "I want to go to Chuck E. Cheese!" "Let's go swimming at a hotel." "How 'bout we have a big party and invite lots of friends." In the end, she decided that what she wanted more than all those other things was a jungle safari. I convinced her that the nearby Pinal Mountains were pretty close to a jungle. And a treasure hunt was pretty much the same thing as a safari. And since we've been playing a lot of Lego Indiana Jones around here lately, the kids were pretty excited about being treasure hunters.

So we packed up the Suburban with every single camping item we own, managed to squeeze ourselves in there too, and drove the 30 minutes to Pioneer Pass to claim the best campsite. We had the place mostly to ourselves. We set up camp, had lunch, and sang happy birthday so we could enjoy some delicious jungle-themed strawberry cupcakes. Strawberry flavor is kind of Bree's thing..


Then I hid the treasure and drew a map for the big hunt. The kids loved it. I think it actually lived up to their expectations, which is always good.


Chad took the picture below at some point during the stay. Bree drew her own treasure map, which led us to where she had hidden the chocolate and graham crackers for our S'mores.


The kids also got butterfly nets and magnifying glasses to help them scout out exotic bugs, with Chad's help.



And we managed to relax quite a bit too, since Bree and Mason were more than content to romp around the place, climbing on rocks, and miraculously escaping injury for the whole trip. Lincoln stuck pretty close to us.


Actually, Lincoln was not a happy camper. I attribute it to the complete lack of napping that went on that day. And it did get a little chilly. Because usually he is the happiest, most mellow baby ever. But we're determined to try again. No child of ours is going to hate camping.


It's been almost two years since our last camping trip. And no, it's not that easy with kids and a baby. But we were all so glad we went. There's a kind of peacefulness that only exists when you're camping in the mountains. And being there together as a family was priceless. I'm sure Chuck E. Cheese would not have compared.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

That explains it.

Why is my kitchen towel always on the floor?




Oh, the places I'll go (#29)

Goal #29: Make a list of places I'd like to visit during my lifetime.

Chad has encouraged me to make this list, to help us dream and make goals for future vacations. I'll probably keep adding to it, but this is a pretty good start. (In approximate order of distance)

Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, AZ
Bisbee, AZ
London Bridge, Lake Havasu, AZ
Havasupai, AZ
Santa Monica Beach, CA
San Francisco, CA
Carlsbad Caverns, NM
Butchart Gardens, Canada
Alaska
Mt. Rushmore, SD
Smithsonian, Washington D.C.
Statue of Liberty, NY
Boston, MA
Hawaii
London, UK
Ireland
Paris, France
Italy (Rome, Venice, Florence)
Queenstown, New Zealand
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