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A Month of Gratitude

“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

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving last year my bestie K and I went to a yoga class at the gym and our favorite yoga instructor read us this quote by Melody Beattie.  It was one of the best yoga sessions I have ever attended because our instructor set the entire intention toward gratitude.  She reminded us that during this crazy holiday season where stress is really high while we attend a million activities and parties while trying to decorate our houses and make holiday treats and buy a ton of presents for our kids, family, and friends, that it is good to slow down and really appreciate the blessings in our lives.

A lot of my friends have been posting on Facebook something they are grateful for every day until Thanksgiving.  Other friends have created a “gratitude tree” where they have a paper cut-out tree and every day they put a leaf on the tree with something they are grateful for until Thanksgiving (kind of like an Advent calendar) and I like this idea so much I think I will do it next year with my kids.  Last year I wrote an A,B,C post about things I am grateful for inspired by my friend Mitch.  All those things I’m grateful for still stand, but I wanted to re-iterate what I’m thankful for this year.

-I’m thankful for my family of origin.  God blessed me with two loving parents and two incredible siblings.  Even though my Mother is now in heaven and my Dad is far away, I still feel their love every day.  And my brother and sister are two of the greatest people I’ve ever known.  I’m grateful for their friendship, love, and support.  I love the people they are, the people they married who couldn’t be more perfect for them and add so much to our family, and the little people they created.  My nephews and niece are the cutest kids ever!  I’m glad that my nephews are such good friends with their cousins and that they love spending time together.  It’s true that some of your first best friends are your cousins.

-I’m thankful for the family the hubs and I created.  I married the best man I’ve ever known and not a single day has gone by where I didn’t think that marrying him was the best decision I ever made.   My sweet children add so much to my life and as usual they teach me more than I teach them.  It has been such a joy to watch them learn and grow.  I’m so grateful for the ease at which we have been able to add children to our family.  Working where I work, I can never take our fertility for granted.

-I’m thankful for the family I married into.  I’m so thankful for what a great family the hubs comes from because my mother and father-in-law are two of the nicest, kindest, most loving people I’ve ever known.  They accepted me as part of the family the day I met them.  They have helped the hubs and I out so much and they’ll never know how much I appreciate it, especially since they are the only grandparents my kids have who live nearby.  I love that my kids are so close to their grandparents and have such a bond with them.  Also, the hubs has some great siblings who also married some great people.  We have the cutest nephews and niece ever and I’m so glad my kids are close with their cousins.  The hubs’ sisters are some of my very best friends.

-I’m grateful for extended family and the love that has been given to me by uncles, aunts, cousins, second cousins, third cousins, great-aunts, and uncles, etc.  My extended family might not all be close by, but they’re always there supporting me and my family.  I’m grateful for my grandparents.  I didn’t get to know my paternal grandfather very well since he lived back east and died when I was 8.  My paternal grandmother was a force to be reckoned with and I’m glad I come from such a strong woman.  My maternal grandparents moved back to Utah from Boston when I was 2 and I was always so glad that I grew up having them be a part of my every day life.  My maternal grandfather was one of the best, kindest, most gentle men I’ve ever known.  He was out-going, loved life, never met a stranger, treated everyone like his friend, and I can’t help but think I married a man just like him.  My grandmother, while quite different from my grandpa, loved me and I’m grateful I got to know her better as an adult when the hubs and I took care of her.

-I’m grateful for good friends.  My NYCbestie and bestie K have been steadfast and loyal friends who have gotten me through a lot of hard times.  They are both my every day, in the trenches, through good times and bad, gigglefest, best friends.  My friend, Shupee, and her husband flew all the way across the country so they could spend 20 minutes at my mother’s viewing.  It was one of the most kindest, selfless things anyone has ever done for me.  She supported me through my mother’s illness by sending me cards and presents, and I wonder if she knew at the time how much that saved my life.  I have truly been blessed to call some of the most incredible people in this world my friends.

-I’m grateful for a warm home, a roof over my head, electricity, running water, enough clothes to change my outfit every day, and plenty of food, and a variety of it, to eat.  I read an article last Christmas that said if you have any of those things, you are more fortunate than 90% of all the people who have ever lived on the earth.  I try to remember this whenever I get bogged down in my first world problems.

-I’m thankful that my NYCbestie was not seriously affected by Hurricane Sandy and she is safe.  Especially considering she doesn’t live that far from places that were disastrously affected like Hoboken, NJ and Staten Island.

-I’m grateful for the good employment of the hubs and myself.  We’ve both worked in some crappy jobs and it’s nice we both now are employed in jobs and careers we love.  I’m grateful for the people I work with and the clients we work for.  I can honestly say my life has been blessed the last 6 years because of the type of work I’m involved in.

-I’m grateful for Mountain Dew and cheetos.

-I’m grateful for the great neighborhood we live in and kind, friendly, and helpful neighbors.  We moved here 3 years ago this Thanksgiving and it remains one of the best decisions we ever made for our family.  The kids go to a great school, have made great friends, and we are surrounded by great families.

-I’m grateful for my memories.  I’m grateful for having a mother who loved me unconditionally.  I’m grateful that if she can’t be here right now, that God gave me a mother-in-law whom I love like she was my own mother.  Sometimes I forget she didn’t birth me herself.  I’m grateful that if my kids can only have one grandma right now, that God gave them the best one.

-I’m grateful for words and writing and having an outlet to express myself.  I’m grateful for books and for a mother who instilled in me a love of books.

-I’m grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the peace it brings me.  I’m grateful for the atonement and for the opportunity to repent of my mistakes.  I’m grateful for the love and grace of my Savior because I know that I’m so far from perfect I could never measure up.

I hope that I can continue to reflect on all my blessings, not just during the holiday season, but all year long.

You can’t make me say anything bad about my husband

Four years ago when I was pregnant with my third child it was the most emotionally trying time of my life.  I had just lost my mother to pancreatic cancer and I was overcome with a grief I had never experienced before.  I had started a new job, which readily claims has a two year learning curve.  I was hanging onto to life by the skin of my teeth.  And the hubs stepped up and carried me and our family during that time.  Our daughter was in 1st grade and our son was in pre-school and the hubs took over parental duties and household duties as I tried to pick up the pieces of my shattered heart.

It’s no exaggeration to say he did homework with our kids, gave them baths, put them to bed, and got them ready for school every morning, while the thought of even emptying the dishwasher was so overwhelming I could barely cope.  He cooked our meals, he vacuumed, he did the laundry, he cleaned, scrubbed the bathrooms, did the grocery shopping, and gleefully gave me a foot rub whenever I needed it, even when I didn’t ask.  He let me fall apart and he supported me as I got back up on my feet. Continue reading

13 years

Thirteen years ago today the hubs and I were married.  A lot has happened in those years.  We were just talking the other night about how swiftly the years have gone and how it does not seem like we had our first date 14 years ago and then married a year later.  I blame it on the old adage that time flies when you’re having fun.

I would write a big long gushy post, but I already accomplished that with this post.  Anything I said now would just be a repeat.

Recently we were watching, “Storytellers” with Jason Mraz and he debuted a new song from his new album.  It really spoke to the hubs and I and we have made it our new song.  It’s called, “I won’t give up” and here are the lyrics.

When I look into your eyes
It’s like watching the night sky
Or a beautiful sunrise
Well, there’s so much they hold.
And just like them old stars
I see that you’ve come so far
To be right where you are
How old is your soul?
Well, I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up
And when you’re needing your space
To do some navigating
I’ll be here patiently waiting
To see what you find
‘Cause even the stars they burn
Some even fall to the earth
We’ve got a lot to learn
God knows we’re worth it
No, I won’t give up
I don’t wanna be someone who walks away so easily
I’m here to stay and make the difference that I can make
Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use
The tools and gifts we got yeah, we got a lot at stake
And in the end, you’re still my friend at least we did intend
For us to work we didn’t break, we didn’t burn
We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I’ve got, and what I’m not
And who I am
I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up
Still looking up.
I won’t give up on us
God knows I’m tough enough 
We’ve got a lot to learn 
God knows we’re worth it 
I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up
We’ve come a long way baby.  
From this
To this (recent-ish picture)
Happy Anniversary, Casey!  I love you so much!

Ode to the Man I love

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m re-posting a poem I wrote for my sweetheart.  Happy Valentine’s Day, the hubs!

Ode to Casey

You are so tall
That I’m able to wear
All my high-healed shoes
With lots of flair.

Your kisses are sweet
And hugs are so good
That I know I will always
Want you in my ‘hood.

You are such a geek
That I’m not able to resist
All your geek boy charms
In fact, I tend to insist.

You make me happier
Than I ever thought I could be
And I’m ecstatic to exclaim
“Yay! He picked me!”

I love you, my dearest
With all my heart
And that will never change,
No matter how often you fart.

I LOVE YOU, BABY!

30 Day Challenge: Day 1 – Your current relationship

My current relationship is also my future relationship for eternity, I hope.  The hubs and I have been together for almost 13 1/2 years.

This is me and the hubs at the Weber State Homecoming Ball in 1998.  It was the first formal picture ever taken of us.  We had been dating about a month when we attended this dance together.  It was at this dance that my friend Angie told me not to get my hopes up about the hubs because he only dates girls for 2 weeks tops.  I was glad we had this talk, because when I mentioned it to the hubs he told me this relationship was the real thing.  I think we said our first “I love yous” that week.

The hubs and I dated for a year before we were married in the summer of 1999.  We were the first children in both our families to tie the knot.  Both of my parents walked me down the aisle and my mom read a poem that my dad had written (he was too emotional to read it out loud).  We spent our Honeymoon in Jackson Hole and then made our home in an apartment by Weber State University.

A year after we were married, we became pregnant with our first little offspring.  This is the hubs and I at the Institute Valentine’s Day dance in 2001. I was sticking out my stomach so I would look pregnant and not just fat.

The hubs and I became parents to our first (and only to this point) daughter in May 2001.  This picture is obviously from Halloween where we dressed our little pumpkin up like a little pumpkin.

Next came our second child and first son in January 2004.  He was born four weeks early and was hospitalized with RSV when he was 6 weeks old.  We didn’t have family pictures taken until he was almost a year old, I was so afraid of exposing him to germs.

We took our little family of four to the Bountiful temple in June 2005 and were sealed for time and all eternity.  Our daughter acted like an angel that day.  Our son acted like a cranky toddler in desperate need of a nap.  The hubs and I count this as one of the happiest days of our life together.

The hubs and I in front of the Ogden temple, May 2005, when I took out my endowments.  Since they are currently tearing down and remodeling the Ogden temple, I’m so glad I have this picture.  I love that we are hand in hand because we’ve been that way ever since we met.

Then in June 2008 our third child and second son was born.  He was a sweet gift during a very traumatic time.  He gave me something  to live for when what felt like my whole life had been taken away.  Luckily I found out I was pregnant with him early enough to tell my mother before she died.  He has her maiden name as his first name.  He is her little namesake.
Along the way we have some major milestones.
I graduated from college in 2007.
We lost my Mom to pancreatic cancer in November 2007.
We bought out first home and moved into it in November 2009.
The hubs and I were counting up the other night and we figured out that in the last 12 1/2 years of marriage…
We’ve lived in 5 different places.
We’ve had 5 different vehicles
He has worked for 4 different companies
I have worked at 4 different places
He’s had 2 surgeries
I’ve had 20+ kidney infections
I almost died once while giving birth
He almost died once while having surgery
I donated 12 inches of my hair to the Beautiful Lengths campaign
He has effectively lost all his hair
Taken at the hubs’s sister, Holly’s, wedding in September 2006
We’ve had really joyful happy times.  We’ve had really emotionally and financially difficult times.  But through it all we’ve been hand in hand and side by side.  The hubs was by my side through every pregnancy, every birth, every sickness, every birthday, and every good time.  He was there for me during the most important time of my life, when my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died 3 months later.  He carried me during that time and I wouldn’t have been able to survive it without him.  He gave my Mom two blessings and was there with me when I said goodbye to her before the Mortuary came to take her away.  He and my bro-in-law spoke at her funeral.  And he was there for me in the ensuing months when the grief was like a huge wave of pain ready to wash me away.  He stayed strong for me when I was weak and without complaint.
Our 10th Wedding Anniversary in August 2009
I couldn’t ask for a better partner or father for my children.  He is such a good Daddy.  He has been a true partner in every sense of the word while raising our children.  No, he couldn’t carry them in his womb, give birth to them, or nurse them…but he changed each of their first diapers.  He was the first to hold each of them right after birth.  He is involved with them in all their activities. He does homework with them, he plays with them, teaches them new things, is a role model, and he nurtures them like a father should.
And he takes care of me.  And I take care of him right back.  He’s my best friend, my lover, my confidante, my giggle partner, and the one I try out all my jokes on.  Yes, we’ve been through hell and back.  We’ve been through heaven and back too.  Our happy times have out-weighed our hard times.  And I’m happy to say, that I have never regretted, not once, that I married the hubs.  He is the best thing that has ever happened to me.  I’ve never known a better person than him.  The truly crazy part is he loves me back!  Without question and unconditionally.  He has always accepted me for who I was, never tried to change me, and has always, always had my back.  I hope he knows that my love for him is unconditional, eternal, and no matter what, I’ll always be on his side.  It’s a good side to be on.
Photo courtesy of Josh Ashdown Photography (c)
What can I say except I’m a lucky, lucky woman.  

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.