2011 – The End

I did this at the end of 2009 and thought it would be fun to re-visit it for 2011.  What a year!

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

I went to Seattle twice this year.  I had never been to the beautiful Pacific Northwest before.  Now that the hubs’s office is out of the Seattle area, I anticipate many more trips to beautiful Seattle.  

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

My New Years resolution for 2011 was to lose the 17 pounds I had gained by being complacent.  I joined Weight Watchers in March and became much more active.  I discovered that I love exercise.  My New Year’s resolution for 2012 is to take a weight lifting class (strong muscles are more important the older you get) and to relax and have fun.

3. How will you be spending New Year’s Eve?

Going over to my parents-in-law’s house and spending time with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law who surprised us for coming home for Christmas.  My in-law’s always have a fun New Year’s party.  This year we’re eating Prime Rib.  Oh yeah, baby!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

The hubs’s lost his paternal grandmother in April.  Charlotte was always so sweet to me.  She will be missed.

5. What countries did you visit?

I wish!  I’ve never left the country.  Denmark, the UK, Australia, Canada, South America, are all on my bucket list.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

More patience.  Learning patience has been a life-long struggle for me.

7. What date from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

August 31, 2011 – Casey started his new job with a High Tech Company and it changed our lives completely in all good ways.  We also thought we were going to have to move to WA for several months, so finding out we could stay in UT was also a good day.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I haven’t had a kidney infection in a year after seeking specialist services.  This might not seem like a big achievement to some, but I’ve been pain free for a year and to me that’s an accomplishment.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Gossiping.  Some times my human nature gets in the way of me being my best self.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

The usual bronchitis I get with my asthmatic stricken lungs, but other than that, I’ve enjoyed great health this year.  

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Plane tickets to spend Spring Break in NYC with my daughter.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Mortgage, bills, food, kids, shoes, books.  In that order.

13. What song will always remind you of 2011?

“Moves like Jagger” by Maroon 5.  One of the first things the hubs said to me in recovery after his surgery was, “I’ve got the moves like Jagger.”  Hilarious.  

14. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Training for the half marathon I dropped out of in August.  I should have just bucked up and done it.

15. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Stressing out about situations and people I have no control over.  I can’t control a lot of what happens in life, but I can control how I react to things that happen in my life.

16. What was your favorite TV program?

Community continues to be the best sitcom on TV.  NBC is crazy for putting it on hiatus.  New ones that I discovered this year and loved are Being Human and Game of Thrones.  I can’t wait for both their second seasons in 2012.

17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Hate is a strong word. Does Newt Gingrich count?

18. What was the best book you read?

House Rules by Jodi Picoult.  I understand Asperger’s syndrome in a way I never would have because of that book.  Other good ones:  Sarah’s Key, The President’s Daughter series by Ellen Emerson White, Wicked, The Baby Thief, and Half-Broke Horses.

19. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Adele is a musical genius.  

20. What was your favorite film of this year?

Soul Surfer, Bridesmaids, and The Help were the three films that drove me to the theater this year.  

21. What did you do on your birthday?

I flew up to Seattle for the first time to join the hubs who was already there on a business trip.  We went to lunch with one of his co-workers and then back to the hotel to take a nap.  Then we drove around Issaquah, Lake Sammamish and Maple Valley looking at houses since we thought we’d be moving there soon.  Then we went and had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory in Bellevue.  We spent the next 3 days in Seattle and went to the Seattle waterfront, took a harbor cruise, and the Aquarium when we weren’t driving around looking at houses.  We ate lots of good food and had fun just the two of us.

22. What kept you sane?

The hubs, my bestie, K, the love of my children, and exercise.

23. Who did you miss?

My mother. Always and forever.

24. Who was the best new person you met?

I’ve met lots of new people this year that I thought were awesome.  A lot of new people in our neighborhood are cool.  And every one of the hubs’s co-workers that I met at his company’s holiday party were exceptionally nice. 

25. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011:

When you have a choice whether to be right or to be kind, choose to be kind.


New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time of year again.  Time to make promises to ourselves of what we want to accomplish the next year and then forget them by mid-January.

What are your New Year’s resolutions this year?  Any self-improvement you want to focus on this year?

My goals for 2012 are:

1 – Start working out again and more often.  I’ve gotten off track with the holidays only going to the gym once or twice a week this December.  The hubs having hip surgery didn’t help it either.  There is a weight lifting class at the gym on Saturday mornings that K and I want to start going to.

2 – Do the Little Red Bicycle Race in June that is a women’s ride benefiting women’s cancers.  The hubs and I priced out hybrid bikes at the local bike shop and I will probably buy one once it’s safe to ride outside without the inversion choking me out.

3 – To floss more.

4 – Have more fun.

5 – Have a Happy and Healthy year for my family.  No surgeries, major illnesses, or broken bones!  (Think we can make it?)

Risa and the hubs wish you a Happy 2012!

The Gratitude Alphabet Game for 2011

For Thanksgiving my blogger friend Mitch wrote this post about gratitude and Alphabetized it.  I thought it was a great idea and I thought I should do something fun like that for 2011.  These are the things I’m grateful for in 2011 in alphabetical order.


I’m grateful for the people I have met while working in Adoption this year.  Where they had good or bad experiences, they have shaped my worldview about adoption.  Because of some wonderful people that I’ve met either in person or online, I am more committed than ever to the parents I work with who are considering adoption that they know their rights, they’ve considered all future consequences for their decision whether good or bad, and they know that I am an advocate on their side ready to protect them.  The people I’ve met working in adoption have blessed my life in so many ways.  


I love books.  I’ve read many good books this year.  Including, Sarah’s Key, Victim: The Other side of Murder, Shattered Silence, The Pact, House Rules, The Baby Thief:  the Untold Story of Georgia Tann, the Baby seller who corrupted Adoption, White House Autumn, Long Live the Queen, Long may she Reign, Half-Broke Horses, Class Action, I still Dream about You, and Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.

I’m also grateful to have joined Goodreads.com this year and getting to share good books with my friends.  


With joining Weight Watchers in March, I learned to start cooking better meals with higher nutritional values.  I have enjoyed cooking more and have begun to see it as an adventure instead of a chore.  It goes without saying that I’m really grateful for really good food, and really good people to share it with.


I’ve been blessed to have some pretty great Dads in my life.  This year we spent a lot of time missing my dad after he and his wife moved to the mid-west in 2010.  We were fortunate enough to spend time with him in August when he came out for a visit right before the kidlets went back to school.  His grandkids miss him especially.  Whenever we go past a place their Peepaw took them, they mention it.  

My dad-in-law is a truly wonderful father.  The hubs comes from a large family and he was blessed to grow up with a father who spent a lot of time with each one of his kids, teaching them values, and instilling in them a work ethic.  Every thing my dad-in-law does is for his family.  He’s a great example to us.

The hubs is a wonderful Daddy.  I re-fall in love with him every time I see him in tender moments with our children.  He melts my heart.  My kids are blessed to have him as their dad.  


This year I discovered Spin class and that I love cycling.  I never thought I would!  My goal was just to survive my first spin class.  Instead I fell in love and after a couple of weeks, went out and bought clip-in bike shoes and bike shorts.  This year I want to get my own road bike so that I can cycle outside.  I also discovered Zumba this year when my gym started offering it.  I’ve always loved dancing and now I can do it as exercise.  I’m grateful for how exercise as made me feel this year:  strong, confident, happy, healthy, and tired.  


Of course!  I’m so grateful for the family I came from, the family I married into, and the family the hubs and I have created.  I’m so grateful for close friendships with most of those in my family.  I’m grateful for siblings who remain close even though one of our parents is gone to Heaven and the other to the mid-west.  I’m so grateful for my parents-in-law and for loving me the minute I started dating the hubs.  They know the true meaning of family.  They do so much to help us that I can’t imagine my life without them!  I’m so grateful for the three children the hubs and I have been blessed with.  Never will I take my fertility for granted, because it truly is a miracle that each of these children have been born to us.  They’re so funny, and cute, and smart!  I’m so grateful to be their mother.  Sometimes I think they teach me more about myself, than I will ever teach them.

Good Friends.

I am incredibly grateful for good friends, especially this year.  I’m so grateful for a friend like K, who works-out with me, listens to my problems, IMs with me late into the night.  She and her family brought ice cream to us after the hubs’s surgery.  She is the kind of friend you can always count on.

I’m grateful my NYC bestie is coming for a visit in January. I  don’t get to see her often so it’s always a holiday when I do.

I’m also so incredibly grateful to all of our good friends in our neighborhood that brought us meals, prayed for us, checked in on us, and visited us after the hubs had his surgery.  I was so incredibly humbled by their generosity and love.  I am so grateful for all the good friends we have made in our neighborhood.  It reconfirms to us the rightness of deciding to move here.  


Ha ha!  I’ve been growing out my hair this year, trying a million different colors, and I’m so grateful it hasn’t rebelled and all fell out.  I’m also grateful to a great stylist, Courtnee, who is a great colorist and is always giving me flattering hair cuts.  

Internet friends.

Some of the coolest people I  know live in my computer.  Through blogging I’ve met some incredible people I wouldn’t have known otherwise.  I’m especially grateful to find this cool people on Facebook and get to know them as their real selves and not their monikers.  I’ve had to the opportunity to meet some of these incredible people in real life, and they’re just as cool in person as they are on the internet.  I’ve really enjoyed the ways that these incredibly insightful, intelligent, and thoughtful people have helped me expand my thinking, think about things in a different way, and re-evaluate my thoughts and beliefs.


I’m grateful for the hubs’s new job.  Not only was it a HUGE pay increase, the people he works for are all so incredibly nice.  That was the thing that struck me the most when I went to his Holiday party at the first of December.  I’m thankful that his opportunity has allowed him to work from home, which helps me when I need to pick up a sick kid at school, or take a kid to a doctor’s appointment, or just need more help during the day.  It has allowed him to travel to all sorts of place he would have never gone otherwise.  I’m also incredibly thankful for my job and the people I work with.  I work in the most supportive office one could ever imagine.  Where else do your co-workers pray for you and your family in staff meeting when your spouse is undergoing surgery that day?  I’m grateful for the work we do and the friendships we share there.  And I’m especially grateful the hubs and I are actually employed in an economy like this.  


I’m so grateful for my sweet kids.  My daughter has such a tender heart and is always looking out for everyone.  My oldest son is so smart and constantly amazes me with his wit.  My youngest son is growing into a little boy, and is out of the baby stage.  He is so cute.  He calls lullabies, “Baby Songs.”  They make my laugh and they make my heart swell on a daily basis.  Now if I can just get them to stop fighting with each other….


The Beatles sang, “All you need is Love.”  Well, I don’t know if I believe that is true, but I certainly appreciate the sentiment.  I’m so grateful for the Love in my life.  And especially for the Love of my life, the hubs.  He is my greatest champion, my bestest friend, my lover, the one who is always there for me, my soft place to fall.  What would I do without his love?  Love gives you the courage to take on the world.  I’m so grateful that a man of the caliber of the hubs chooses on a daily basis to love me.  How did I get so lucky?  


I love musicals.  I love singing.  This year I’m grateful that I got to see Les Miserables with the hubs, K, and her hubby down at the Capitol Theater in Salt Lake City.  I love Les Mis.  I love the story, the music, everything about it.  This was my 4th viewing of the stage version.  (And who wasn’t enthralled by the 25th Anniversary of Les Mis on PBS this year???)  I love musical theater.  I’ve been blessed to see Les Mis, Wicked, Legally Blonde, Beauty and the Beast, The Color Purple, and In the Heights (the last three on Broadway in NYC).  This year I’m hoping to see the stage adaptation of Newsies on Broadway and Wicked, again, when it comes back to Salt Lake City this summer.  If I can get tickets for Wicked on my birthday, I will be one happy lady.  

Not moving.

With the hubs’s new job came a request of his company to relocate us to the Seattle area.  They gave us a year to sell our house, pack up our things, say goodbye, and find a new house.  We were just starting to wrap our brains around the implications of re-locating when we got word from his boss that a move was not absolutely necessary at this time.  Instantly the sad fog I had been in a for a few months had been lifted.  I don’t mind moving in the future, but it did not feel right at this time.  I’m so grateful we get to stay here for a little longer and enjoy being around our family and friends.  I’m so grateful we don’t have to sell the house we just barely bought 2 years ago.  I’m so grateful we get to enjoy the yard we put in this year!


I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given this year.  The opportunity to meet so many great people.  The opportunity to make new friends.  The opportunity to drop out of another Half marathon after damaging the big toes on both my feet, but still being able to do 3 formal 5Ks this year.  The opportunity to learn from my mistakes.  The opportunity to right my wrongs and grow from them.   The opportunity to just keep living.  The opportunity to be a mother, daughter, wife, sister, and friend.


I’m grateful for all the people in my life.  People who teach me how to be a better person.  People who restore my faith in humanity.  People who teach me how I don’t want to be.  People who are my friends without question.  People who know the real me and love me anyway.  People who accept me, faults and all.  People willing to give me a chance.  People who inspire those around them.  People who work hard to make the world a better place.  People who give to others.  People who are really masquerading as angels on Earth.  People who write the most beautiful, insightful, amazing things.  People who make others think.  People who have a great love for children.  People who always bring out the best in others.  People who want to leave the world a better place when they are gone.  People who make me love people.  


I’m grateful for quiet moments.  I’m grateful for places where things are still, peaceful, and I can rest in the quiet.  I’m grateful for quiet when my life can sometimes seem so loud.  I’m grateful for the moments I had this year, in the quiet, where I felt my Mother’s presence.  It doesn’t happen often, but these quiet moments let me know that she is still here with me.  


I’m grateful for those times when life is just completely, and totally ridiculous.  I’m grateful for those moments when I can laugh at the ridiculous instead of crying.  Like when the hubs is traveling for work, and the kids have many school projects due at once, and I’ve worked 12 hours in a day, and I still have to make dinner.  My first reaction is to cry, but then the utter ridiculousness of the situation gets to me.  I’m grateful for those moments, also, when I realize that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.


I have many.  I am grateful for my biological sister, who is one of my best friends. She took my children for an entire weekend after the hubs had his surgery.  She is a fun Aunt for them.  She is like a mini-therapist for me and I can always go to her with any problem and she always knows exactly what to say.  She has always been there for me.  I’m so grateful for her friendship and love.

I was also blessed to inherit three little sisters when I married the hubs.  I always wanted a little sister, and I was blessed with three when I got married.  I have literally watched all three grow up.  I’ve been blessed with the addition of more sisters each time one of my brothers-in-law, and brother, get married.  I’m grateful for these incredible women in my life.  For my friendships with them, the love and laughs we share, and our lives we share together.  


It sounds silly, but I’m grateful for the new television shows I’ve discovered this year.  My favorite have been Being Human and Game of Thrones.  Watching TV is my one way to unwind after the kids go to bed at the end of a long day when reading takes too much brain power.  This year I started watching The Big Bang Theory at the behest of both my siblings and I’m grateful for the laughs it has given me.  Community is my favorite comedy on TV right now, and I’ll be very grateful if the bigwigs at NBC come to their senses and keep it on for another season.  

Undivided Attention.

I’m grateful for all the times this year the hubs and I could give each other our undivided attention.  He has been on many, many business trips this year.  It’s true that absence makes the heart grow fonder!  While I am grateful for the new opportunities his job has brought us, I am much happier during the times when we could focus on just each other, re-energize our romance, and get the know the new “us” that changes every day.  I’m grateful for those moments when we could give our children our undivided attention in a world that seems to be pulling us in so many different directions.  I love it when I have one-on-one time with my daughter, or sitting down reading a book with one of my sons, or singing a lullaby to them.  


I’m very grateful for the vacations I’ve had this year.  They help me get through the responsibilities for the rest of the year.  The hubs and I have gone up to Seattle twice this year together:  once at the end of July for my birthday, and once right after Thanksgiving for his company’s holiday party.  We also had the opportunity to spend four days at Bear Lake with the hubs’s parents, grandparents, youngest brother, and first cousin.  That was actually very relaxing.  So many beautiful places for us to visit. 


For some reason, I’ve always been drawn to water.  I’m grateful for the restorative affects of water.  I much prefer having a bottle of water at the gym than a Sports drink.  Water is my favorite drink next to Mountain Dew. I’ve always wanted to live beside water.  I love falling to sleep to the sound of waves coming to shore or a rushing river.  I’m grateful for being able to swim in Bear Lake this year and see the Pugent Sound from the Seattle seafront.  


I know, I know…exactitude doesn’t start with an X.  How many words in the English language do that and make sense?  The dictionary definition of exactitude is:  the quality of being exact, exactness, preciseness, accuracy.  I picked this gratitude for two reasons.  A) I really like exactitudeness in writing (no, that’s not a real word).  I don’t like seeing typos, spelling or grammar mistakes.  They drive me batty.  And it’s important to practice exactitude in my profession when documents can change lives.  B) I really like big words.  My mom used big dictionary words and they just became a normal part of my vocabulary.  The hubs teases me because I even use big words, like placate, when I’m talking in my sleep.


I’m grateful for the peace that Yoga brings me.  The instructor of the Yoga class I go to always seems to know exactly what intention I need for that day.  She always has the neatest things to say at the end when Yoga has turned into a meditation. The Yoga class I attended right before Thanksgiving, the instructor set the intention for the class for Gratitude.  That night she read to us what would become one of my favorite quotes.  “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” -Melody Beattie.  I feel like when I’m doing Yoga, I’m not only stretching my limbs, but I’m stretching my soul.  Whenever I come out of Yoga class I’m as relaxed as if I just had a massage at the spa.   I’m truly grateful for that.


As in sleep.  I’m ever so grateful for sleep.  I’ve always been the type of person who needed at least 8 hours of sleep a night.  I’m so amazed by the hubs who can function as a full human being on only 4 hours of sleep. I can’t do that.  I’m grateful for the energy sleeping gives me.  I’m grateful for a comfortable bed to sleep in and a comfortable couch to nap on.  I’m grateful that I live in a safe place where I can get a restful night’s sleep.  

This is my gratitude list for 2011.  I hope you all have a blessed New Year!

This Christmas you gave me your Heart

Last week it seemed like I posted every day.  The truth is I write a lot of posts in advance and schedule them to come out at different times.  I have no idea why I didn’t spread out the posts last week.

The truth is last week was very difficult.  I have been playing nurse-maid for the hubs.  On the 7th he went in for an out-patient surgery.  We elected to do it this time of  year since he will be on crutches for 6 weeks and this is the slowest time of the year work-wise for him.  And the best part is I get to keep him home for 6 whole weeks.

Surgery day started out as any normal day does around here.  Got up early, got the kids up and off to school, ate breakfast.  Except that the hubs couldn’t eat breakfast.  We got to the hospital at 12:30 and they did all that intake paperwork and stuff.  The nurse thought I was joking when she gave him a Valium and I asked where mine was.  I don’t know why I was so nervous…the hubs had out-patient hernia surgery five or six years ago and I wasn’t this nervous.

The hubs left for surgery about 2:00 and the surgeon told me it would take about 3 hours, but don’t be surprised if it takes longer.  My boss was kind enough to let me attend our staff meeting over speaker phone and that was interesting.  I had to put it on mute every time a nurse or doctor walked in until they wheeled him off to surgery.  Then I ate lunch while on the phone, so I hope no one heard me chewing, and was grateful that the hospital cafeteria sold Mountain Dew.

After the staff meeting call ended and I was done with lunch, I went back to the waiting room where I wasted a few hours playing on Facebook.  It was nice to have some friends distract me with a few funny conversations so I didn’t worry so much about the hubs.  About 5:00 I shut down my laptop thinking that the surgeon would come in at any time to talk to me, and I didn’t dare leave my laptop just sitting in the waiting room.  So I packed up my stuff and started reading my book. About 5:45 the surgeon came out, pulled me into a small consultation room, showed me the pictures from the hubs’s surgery (I still have no idea what I was looking at) and told me he did great.  I asked when I could see him and the surgeon told me about 15 minutes.

So I went back into the waiting room and kept reading my book.  After a while I noticed I was about 100 pages into it (this was a new book I had just started that day) and I looked up at the clock and it was way past 15 minutes.  Then I started getting really anxious.  Finally at about 6:45 a nurse came and got me and took me back to recovery.  That’s when I found out they had given the hubs Demerol at the end of surgery for pain relief and we found out the hard way he’s allergic to it when he stopped breathing and they had to resuscitate him.

He had a hard time in the recovery room for the next 3 hours.  We also discovered he has sleep apnea.  They had him on oxygen, because he stopped breathing, and every time he would fall asleep and hold his breath, all the alarm bells would go off.  We realized about 9:00 that night there was no way he was going home.  So much for out-patient.  They admitted him and once he was safe and secure up in his hospital room and I felt like the nurse was competent enough to take care of him, I left and went home and got there about 10:30.

My wonderful in-laws had taken care of my kids, literally all day.  My MiL brought the kids home so they could go to sleep and she was prepared to spend the night just in case.  She had even started to fold my laundry!  I had 10 baskets of clean laundry that I had planned to fold when I knew I would have so many days off with the hubs.

After she left is when I had my break-down/freak-out about almost losing my husband to a routine procedure.  I didn’t sleep well that night, and it didn’t help that the pre-schooler was practically sleeping on top of me.  When I arrived at the hospital the next morning I was greeted by a much different sight.  The hubs was fully lucid, even joking around, and the physical therapists were teaching him how to walk with crutches, even going up and down stairs.  He was able to be released and back home by lunch time.

It was really difficult the first few days and I didn’t even leave the house for four days.  It’s been 10 days and the hubs is so much more mobile than he was even a week ago.  I can hardly believe it.  The first couple of days it was taking all my strength to help him out of bed just to go to the bathroom.  He’s 9 inches taller than me and out-weighs me by at least 70 lbs.  I was making every single one of his meals, helping him out of bed, waiting on him hand and foot and now he’s able to work from home on his laptop, make his meals, and get around so much better than he was.

Taking care of him on top of 3 kids was hard, but thankfully I have great friends and family that helped me out.  Not only did my in-laws watch kids for me, my sister took the two oldest for the entire weekend.  My ward friends brought us five meals, my bestie, K and her family, came over and hung out with us and brought us ice cream.  K’s husband had at the exact same surgery two months ago and he was so helpful in letting us know what to expect.

That Sunday the hubs stayed home while I took the kids to church.  I had stupidly volunteered to play a piano solo of “Angels we have Heard on High,” in Sacrament meeting (not realizing that the second Sunday would be right after the hubs’s surgery).  People told me they thought I was Wonder Woman to have taken care of the hubs and prepare a piano solo.  The truth is he was high on pain meds a lot of the time and was asleep, and I chose a piece way below my skill level so that I could sight read it if I needed to.

I’ve had so many people help me, give me and the hubs encouraging words, and pray for our family.  It has been really humbling to feel so much love and concern.  I know that those prayers helped me in moments when I was struggling.  It’s not easy to see the person you love the most almost die and then be in immense amounts of pain.  This family doesn’t work without him.  My life doesn’t work without him.

I’m feeling especially thankful this Christmas for my wonderful husband, my very loving family, and all my good friends.  They are all my angels on earth.