Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thoughts of Peace

If I had to choose one room in my house that I love the most, it would be my living room. It's a strange choice, really, because it's the only room in the house that we could functionally live without. Maybe that's what makes it my favorite. I sit in there every morning, sinking into the rocking chair cushion with my favorite blanket wrapped softly around me. I read my scriptures by lamplight and watch through the big windows as the sun slowly changes the colors of the world outside. I sit in there every evening, surrounded by the people I love most. We read scriptures together as a family before kneeling down to close the childrens' day with prayer. It's a quiet room. And when I'm in it, I feel peaceful. Sometimes we wrestle with the kids in there, sometimes we play a game of Memory or Old Maid, sometimes we huddle under blankets and tell stories. But, most always, when we are in that room, we have gone there deliberately to do something. It's very rarely a thoroughfare and, because of that, it stays quite clean and in order. I think I could sit there for hours. Hugged by warm browns and reds on the walls, pampered by thick carpet at my feet, I somehow feel that if the world was crumbling down around me, I could be safe and at peace if I watched from that room.

I taught my children about the Plan of Salvation in that room last Monday night. I brought in the white board and, after confirming that every single dry-erase marker left to the children had been aired out in the open, grabbed a new one from my secret stash. Using pictures and circles we talked about life - where we came from, why we are here and where we are going. Knowing that his time on earth is drawing to a close, we talked about my grandpa and what would happen to his body and spirit after he died.

One of my favorite parts of the night came when we were talking about the Celestial Kingdom, the greatest kingdom, the goal at the end of the tunnel of life that helps me make my decisions today.
"And this one," I said pointing to the top circle in a group of three, "is the Celestial Kingdom." I wrote the words CELESTIAL KINGDOM in the circle and continued, "This is the place you'll go if you make great choices through your life. If you obey Heavenly Father's commandments and try your very hardest to do what He wants you to do. Do you know what the greatest thing about the Celestial Kingdom is to me?" I asked.
Carson's eyes got wide and his smile almost jumped off his face, "You can have as much gum as you want for free?!?!" I laughed a little and said, "Well... maybe. But, this is what I like most about it..." I started drawing little stick figures inside the circle and McKenzie followed my train of thought. "We get to be with our families?" she asked.
"Yep." I glanced at Carson and he didn't even try to hide his unimpressed look. "Don't you think that's cool, Carson? That we get to be together as a family if we go here?"
He shrugged his shoulders with one corner of his mouth up in a sneer and one eye squinted, "Ehh...," giving the slightest shake of his head.
"You'd rather have all the free gum, wouldn't you," I said with a smile. At that, his look remained the same, but the direction of his head changed into a slight nod.

When the kids bounced off with their Daddy to be tucked into bed, I sat on the couch in that peaceful room and pondered Heavenly Father's plan. My heart felt so warm and I realized the corners of my mouth were turned up in a small smile. I recognized the feeling as the Holy Ghost, testifying of truth. And my own testimony swelled. It's true, I thought. I mean, I knew it was true....but, it's true.

Tuesday morning, my dad called to tell me that Grandpa had passed away.

With my dad's soft voice sounding in my ear, I subconsciously made my way into the living room and sat down on the couch. A mix of sad and happy stirred in my heart but by the time we had finished talking about details of funeral schedules and plane tickets, I remembered my Grandma and how much Grandpa has missed her over the past two and a half years, and almost every ounce of sadness left for a moment. This year, come October, they'll be able to celebrate their 71st wedding anniversary together.

This week is not the most convenient time for me to leave my home, but with the help of six wonderful women, a supportive husband, and a sacrificing co-resident, I feel like the support beams are just strong enough for me to pull out for a few days. (Wonderful friends even agreed to be 'on call' with Brian this weekend - so if he has to go into the hospital at 3 in the morning, one of them will come over to sleep with the kids.)

And for this I am grateful. I feel so blessed that I can go celebrate with my family the life of this wonderful man. I feel blessed that I have been taught the plan of salvation, and that my heart is filled with happiness and hope because of it. I don't remember what heaven is like... but if it's anything like my living room, my grandma and grandpa must be happy, indeed.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Valentines for Two

I forgot, a little, what it's like to have a complete, uninterrupted conversation with my husband. We must have had them all the time before our children came...and we must have had more of them before the children developed radars expert enough to recognize even the slightest shred of an adult conversation. Now, once the adult conversation is detected, they lock on and fire all missiles with intent to kill. Our conversations are shot dead before they even start.

So when my friend offered to take the kids for the evening on Valentines Day, I didn't think too long before I accepted. It didn't matter that Brian wouldn't be getting home until after 7:00 - - - in fact, it was perfect. I dropped the kids off at 5 and had two solid hours to transform the house and make a delicious dinner for two.

I forgot, a little, what it's like to make a dinner without fielding children at the same time. No noise, no fighting, no little ones latched onto my legs so tightly I have to be creative in getting around the kitchen, no supervising each little hand pouring ingredients into the pot. Instead, I turned on some classical music and poured all of my creative juices and energy into one meal.

And guess what? I didn't forget to add the melted butter, or take the bread out on time, or sautee the shrimp and onions together. I didn't forget to crush the raspberries into the bottom of the goblets, and I didn't even forget to pick some of Brian's favorite leaves from the yard to garnish our chocolate mousse. I even remembered to add a salad fork and dessert spoon to our table setting. Maybe my brain is as sharp as it used to be - it's just maxed out most of the time.

And, when Brian got home, we even had a few complete conversations over dinner. No interruptions. And I was reminded, again, just how wonderful he is. I'm not sure how I got so lucky. Really.

Happy Valentines Day!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Wanting Warning of Warnings

It didn't even sputter.

The only clue as to why my car had suddenly stopped moving forward was located inside my dashboard: a small, orange light in the shape of a gas pump shining firmly over the gas needle that was plunked down on E.

I don't know what I was expecting, really, aside from making it to the gas station. I have a friend who runs out of gas so commonly that it's the first question her children ask if they stop unexpectedly on the side of the road. But even so, I didn't really ever think that running completely out of gas was something that could really ever happen to me. And, if it did happen, the car would give plenty of warning in the form of choking, sputtering and general discomfort to warn me to pull off onto the next side road.

But my car offered no such convenience. Coasting comfortably along at 45mph, it took all of 10 seconds to come to a standstill. Enough time to get into the right lane, yes...enough time (or power) to pull into the next driveway, nope. And so I put my emergency flashers on and sat in the right lane of Guess Road, watching in my rearview mirror for a few seconds to gauge my safety and come up with a plan. Thankfully, I had stopped at the top of a small rise and people seemed to have no problem seeing my van. I watched as car after car after truck after van pulled into the left lane to pass my sorry load. I knew I couldn't push the van into the nearest driveway by myself, but I didn't feel good about leaving it in such a precarious position as I walked to the gas station. So I said a short prayer and when the traffic had a slight lull, I unbuckled myself and my baby, stood on the side of the road, and tried to look helpless so someone would stop to help me.

A moment later, a man pulled into the driveway I had been eying and started walking towards me.
"Do you need some help?"
"Yeah. I ran out of gas here... do you think you could help me push the van into that driveway so it's out of the way?"
"Sure - this is actually my family's house," he said pointing to the house whose lawn I was standing on. "Let me go get my brother."

Coincidence or answer to prayer... I'll let you decide for yourself. But I sure felt blessed as he walked up to his front porch. Seconds later, a police officer pulled behind me with his lights on and I was grateful for the added visibility. The man came out with his brother and, together with the police officer, they pushed my van into their driveway.

The brothers had a gas can in their shed which happened to be holding a couple gallons of gas which, with insistence and no hesitation, they poured into my tank. My van soaked the gas up greedily and soon hummed back to life. With words of thanks and promises of good karma coming their way, I drove off and didn't stop until I was snuggled safely under the awning at Costco with a gas pump to my left.

So today, when my gas light appeared on the way to Carson's preschool, I was quick to remember that that was indeed the final warning . . . and I made sure to stop at Costco on my way home.

Because, it turns out, my van can - and will - run out of gas if I push it too hard.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Beauty Brothers

What a funny relationship these two have with each other! Carson feels a tangible, unquenchable love for his little brother that is sometimes overwhelming to that 4-year-old heart. It's in those overwhelming moments that the hugs come in. Oh, the hugs! The squeeze-you-so-tight-until-you-scream, knock-you-over type hugs that are a bit too much for the baby. It's the best way Carson knows how to express himself. Miles generally doesn't appreciate Carson's expressions of love, however.

I laugh at the picture above every time I see it. This picture is their relationship. If there was a thought bubble over each of their heads, you would see Carson thinking "I love this little guy. I could sit here and hug him forever." And you would see Miles thinking, "Alright. So far this is okay. But my guard is up, and I'm prepared to scream if this hug gets out of hand."

That picture was taken during the summer and, five months later, I'm starting to see a shift in their relationship. Carson is the same...same love, same intensity...but Miles is getting bigger and starting to hold his own a little better. Today I actually found them playing together and sneaked a few pictures to mark the momentous occasion.

Who knows...maybe someday they'll end up opening their own beauty shop together.