Thursday, August 29, 2013

Subtle Changes - The Wife's View

I see it at the top of my calendar.
And I know what they say.
Eight months, they say.  Eight months after December.
And still I don't believe.  No matter how many ways I bend my brain, I cannot make sense of the reality that it's been eight months since I stood alone, gripping a friend's phone in that emergency room, watching doctors and nurses frantically work to save the life of my husband.
To be cliche, It Feels Like Yesterday.
Maybe not yesterday.
But certainly not eight months ago.

In March, a friend asked me over the phone if I felt like Brian's heart attack had changed me; if it had helped me realize the gift that Every Day is; if it reminded me to live fully in each moment.  I thought for a minute and then answered as honestly as I could.
"I wanted it to.  I thought it would."
But life still felt hard.  Our house wasn't selling (wasn't showing) and we had a newborn baby to care for.  Brian's energy was low and our stress levels were high.  Little things still irritated me sometimes and, darn it all, the kids still needed to eat every couple of hours.

More time passed and the stress of selling and moving and leaving grew.  And grew some more.  But my pregnancy related hormones started leveling out and Timothy started giving us longer stretches of sleep through the nights.  The aftershocks of the heart attack itself started subsiding and I found myself feeling a little more in control of the chaos that had become our lives.  And one night, I noticed that a small shift in service had taken place during the months.  Instead of asking Brian to finish the dishes for me, I had been doing them myself.  Instead of waiting for Brian to go get our late-night ice cream snack, I had preempted it and made my way to the freezer.  I pulled the sheets tighter when I made the bed in the mornings because I know that Brian does it for himself every night. And I thought, maybe I have changed a little after all.

The first Sunday in April, Brian stood in sacrament meeting and walked our little baby to the front of the room.  With a circle of men he stood and surrounded Timothy with the power of the priesthood and, in that setting, cradled our son in his hands to give him a blessing.  As he spoke I was overwhelmed by the simple fact that he. was. there.  I thought of the moments we'd shared that had been sandwiched between the heart attack and that minute of Timothy's blessing and felt the warmth of all the long hugs, the joy of all the laughs, the sweetness of all the tender conversations and even the sting of all the tears.  It was hearing Brian's voice blessing our child that made that moment even more special and even more cherished than it otherwise would have been.  And in appreciating that moment so deeply I thought, maybe I have changed a little bit after all. 

I have noticed that there is a substantial increase in the number of times I shrug my shoulders and genuinely mean it when I say, "Eh, it doesn't matter that much." In small things such as not being able to find time in the day to get dinner started, to personal things such as feeling a little too squishy in my bathing suit, to big things such as the thousands of dollars lost on our home.  I see that it is my faith that matters.  It is my husband that matters.  It is my children that matter.  It is relationships and love and trust and companionship and friendship and doing good for others and seeking the most delectable brand of chocolate ice cream that matters.  So, maybe I have changed a little bit after all.

This man... this incredible man holds a much deeper place in my heart today than ever before.  I can see that we have built our lives in, around, and through each other to an extent I still can't quite grasp.  Through the past eight months as I've contemplated just how close I came to losing him, I have started to see all the ways that he is literally a part of me.  I would not be who I am today without his influences on me, and I would not like to try to be me without him by my side.  I need him.  And despite what critics might say, I believe this is how God intended love to be... whole and completely encompassing.  Independent, yet so dependent.  I sometimes get scared to love him this deeply, but my faith reminds me that, should God call him away from me on this earth, we would continue in this love through the eternities.  In this new and more dependent depth of love, I see I have changed after all. 

It's just that I had expected the changes to be drastic, I suppose.  But I should know by now that change in myself doesn't happen drastically.  In fact, change happens so slowly that sometimes I wonder if it's even happening at all; so to have expected myself to never again feel irritated at a glass of spilled milk on the carpet, or shoes left (again) in the middle of the floor, was, simply, to be unfair.  But now I see that, maybe I have become a bit more thankful.  A bit more humble in the knowledge of our mortality.  A bit better at focusing on the eternal perspective of my life and a bit farther away from getting so distracted in the details of things that simply don't matter.

But as far as the day to day life goes, things feel... remarkably the same.  I've gotten used to hearing the sound of pill bottles being rattled in the mornings and evenings.  It just reminds me to be so thankful for all the medical miracles.  And I've gotten used to the slight discomfort I feel every. time. he. lifts something/walks quickly/goes for a run/looks stressed/wrestles with the kids.  It just means that I love him.

So I guess the heart attack has changed our lives.  Not drastically, and not outwardly, but significantly.  It's given us hard things to work through, wonderful things to cherish.  And oh, how lucky I feel to be living this day with him.  And if the wind makes my hair look like dandelion poof?  Well, that's just the small stuff.

Happy 11th anniversary, my love.  I pray that God has many, many more years planned for us. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Super Seven

There's something special about this one.
From the moment of his birth, he brought light, hope and love.
He came, healthy and screaming, into this world and gave us the promise of future. As a tiny newborn, he wrapped our mourning hearts in a healing balm and showed us that that it was possible to always remember our stillborn son and still choose happiness and life.  As an infant, we could feel his heart bleeding love for us and as he grew we realized that it bleeds that love for everyone around him, too.
This makes him such a sensitive, beautiful person. 

Recently, I have noticed that the rate at which he bleeds that love is slowing down a bit.  I think he's finding his footing and recognizing that he can look out for himself and make his own choices.  His sensitive, caring, vulnerable side has been covered with a thin layer of self-confidence. This is wonderful.  I work hard to help him build that confidence and feel triumphant for him when I see it grow.  There is still much work to be done; my goal is to help thicken that layer until it shields him like a heavy blanket strong enough to protect him from the demons of his middle-school years and beyond (be they other people or himself), but soft enough to be able to feel the beauty and texture underneath.  I believe he will be a beautiful, compassionate person throughout his life.

I looked at him playing in the waves the other day and saw the muscles in his back work with him to ride the waves.  They're small, those cute little muscles, but they're bigger than they were and I know all too soon they'll be long and strong.  A big, strong body to hold that beautiful personality?  I think I'll love to see that.

But he's seven today.  Seven years old and melting my heart almost every day.  His eyes somehow have the ability to pierce me through like an arrow and speak to my heart in something so much stronger than words.  Of course a mother loves her son, but I love him so. so. so. much.  Just thinking about it gets me all choked up. 


He's gotten into this habit of making us laugh.  He's hilarious!  The other day I was singing a (very awesome) song complete with clapping that went something like this, "Let's open the blinds, open the blinds, we'll open, open, open the blinds!" and instead of glaring at me with an embarrassed 'I can't believe she's my mother' look, he bounced up and down to the beat and bopped like a coordinated chicken all the way over to the nearest window.  Of course, receiving such positive reinforcement, I continued my song, clapping and laughing, and Carson continued his dance until all the rooms were lit.

Plus, he's such a caring kid that all he does is laugh when Timothy spits up all down his shoulders and back (*giggle*  Oh no! *giggle, giggle* TK's such a *giggle* cutie pie, Mom!  Could you get me a *giggle* spit-up rag?).  I worried a bit that his fierce devotion to his littlest brother would diminish as the baby grew, but I needn't have worried.  It's just getting stronger.  He cannot concentrate on anything - even his favorite movie - if Timothy is crying in his crib or fussing on the floor.  It's a common sight to see the two of them cuddled together.

His birthday was awesome and simple this year.  His excitement was palpable.  It started with the requested cinnamon roll breakfast in bed.  Carson, please always be that excited about a giant cinnamon roll.  Life is full of wonderful things just. like. that.

 We then watched the sun rise

and played with packing peanuts.

It wasn't long before we were all in our swimming suits, heading down to his favorite spot.  The beach pool. 

He had a blast playing in the water, and I had fun playing with my new favorite toy:  my underwater camera case.  (LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!)

 After he'd had his fill of water-play, we headed back upstairs to make the cake masterpiece.  Carson came up with the whole concept on his own, and then we worked together to create all the little pieces.  I've kind of gotten into this habit of having the kids help me with their cakes, and it's pretty awesome.  They surprise me with their creativity sometimes!

Daddy came home after that and we had the requested 'chicken pillow' dinner,

opened presents,

(and, Miles was hilarious to watch with Carson's new Nerf gun... it requires some serious muscles, that thing!)

gawked at how adorable Timothy is,

sang happy birthday,

and ate cake while we laughed all the way through Despicable Me (seriously... how have I not watched that movie more than once in my life!?).

I went to bed happy that night.
Carson did too,
which is probably more important.
Happy birthday, my love.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Water of the Melon

Let's talk about watermelon.

I had awesome plans of throwing this watermelon in the ocean to teach my kids how to play watermelon polo.  But then I forgot that I had planned that.  We ate it for dinner instead.

I remembered about watermelon polo after we'd eaten the entire thing that night.  But I didn't think that playing with just the rind would be as much fun.

Plus, maybe sharks like watermelon rinds.

Speaking of kitchen tables, we don't actually have a good place inside the house for ours.

But that's okay.  We've figured out how to make it work.

And, being able to have this much fun at dinner knowing that the entire apartment looks just as disastrous as the slice you can see?  I love it here.

We'll play watermelon polo another time.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Feeding the Masses

 My grocery shopping buddy and me

I'm a once-a-week grocery shopping kind of girl.  If I set foot in a grocery store more than twice in one week, it's a sure sign that something is off kilter in my little world.  This truth must be so in my life because I find it almost impossible to stick. to. my. shopping. list.  And, since I am a passionate budgeter, this can turn into a bit of a problem.  (Could I really just pick up a bag of lettuce for dinner when that bunch of asparagus is making googly-eyes at me?  And when those peaches, those peaches!, smell so divine? Oh, and I am out of strawberries, too.)  So, instead of coming out with a $3.00 receipt, it reads $24.73 (but, I do get to smell peaches on the way home).

This, combined with the fact that my family could consume a large garden of vegetables, an orchard of fruit, a granary of wheat, and a ranch full of meat every week, makes these weekly shopping trips rather colossal.  As in, two carts full of food, colossal. Which has always been just fine... until we moved into an apartment located on the 11th floor.  I just simply do not have enough arm length to layer that many grocery bags up and down them.  And... even if I did, my strength would come up... short.

So, the kids and I find ourselves just 'running to the grocery store real quick' now-a-days.  And, with the grocery store just 4 blocks away through traffic-filled streets, I've found it only takes a few extra minutes and saves a whole lot of stress to put on backpacks and walk.  This works well because it significantly limits the amount of things I can buy!  That carton of ice cream doesn't look quite so tasty when you have to rush it home through 95 degree heat.  (Don't worry... Brian has made sure we do not have an ice cream void by dropping into the store on his way home from work occasionally.)

The amount of food I have to haul up to this apartment is getting a bit worse, though... it seems we've created another monster.

I'm not sure what it is about our genes, but our babies eat.

And eat.

How many people does it take....

And eat. 

And then they turn into children who eat even more.  And eat.  And eat.  All of them. I might never have known how much they eat without having (secretly) watched other kids and their eating habits.  In our house, there is no such thing as 'adult' portions and 'child' portions.  Each plate holds about the same amount of food.  School lunches are something to be laughed at, happy meals are out of the question, and my 9 and 6 year olds have long stopped ordering from the kids' menu at real restaurants.

Oh, he looks so sweet and innocent.  But there's a food consuming monster lurking in there...

...that never seems to be quite satisfied...

At least I have some helpers to take over feeding duty once in a while...

Now I have to figure out how to get even more food into that elevator (and out of the elevator, and down the hall, (and down the next hall (and down the next hall)), and through the door...).

And, I'm not even going to think about how much food my teenagers are going to consume.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Have you ever watched a youtube video of an alligator or crocodile attacking a large mammal?  It's... chilling.  On a completely unrelated note, we took our four small children on a day trip to the everglades.

Brian was almost drunk with anticipation of finding a wild crocodile.  Or alligator.  He wasn't picky.  Did you know that southern Florida is the only place where alligators and crocodiles live in the same ecosystem?

We were just about ready to hop on an air-boat to go traveling through the mosquito-ridden swamplands in search of one of the reptiles when TK protested his hunger.  Deciding I'd much rather feed him in the comfort of our car vs. on an air-boat traveling through the mosquito-ridden swamplands, we found a small, seemingly deserted dirt road off the beaten path and started driving down it while TK filled his belly. 

Not three minutes into our detoured excursion, we found this guy sitting on the side of the swamps.

"ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!" Brian screamed as he screeched the car to a halt and threw it into park in the middle of the road.  He grabbed the camera and jumped out the driver's door to snap some proof of our find.  This next picture is not zoomed... he got this close...

The children wanted desperately to follow Brian, but I quenched that hope before the full sentence was even expressed and told them that being fifteen feet away inside the car was close enough.  And then I let them roll down their windows as a compromise.  The crocigator (?) seemed quite uninterested in his audience and eventually sauntered away.

"Did you SEE that?!" Brian said as he slid back into his seat.  I love seeing him excited like that...

Within a few minutes, dark clouds started rolling in and added a creepyness to our fun little jaunt through the everglades.  Soon, the rain started pelting down on our car.  And then the rain started sheeting down in buckets.  And then the lightning started flashing right on top of us and made us clench our muscles in nervous excitement.

"You should send a text of that picture we got of the crocodile!" Brian requested. (Though, after some later research, I'm pretty sure it was an alligator because it's snout was more U shaped and less V shaped.)
I pulled out my phone and tried... "No reception."
We drove for a little while longer, eyes wide with excitement and car filled with anxious silence (but for the pounding of the rain on the rental car we were driving (turns out two cars cannot merge into the same lane at the same time (which is a whole nother story that you should ask Brian about sometime))), watching the wipers fail time and time again to create a clear view of the dirt road ahead.
"You know what this feels like?" I asked Brian as I took in the eerie atmosphere, smelled the new car smell, and after I had turned around to see the kids faces pressed up against the windows, searching for man-eating reptiles.  "What?"
"Jurassic Park."

He threw his head back in agreeing laughter.  I love seeing him laugh like that...

For the next couple of hours the rains slowed and poured and slowed and poured, but when they seemed to be gone completely we decided we had had an amazing, perfect day in the everglades and didn't want to finish it off with an air-boat ride that would probably just let us down, with how much fun we had already had. So we finished driving the deserted dirt road, taking in more of the surroundings.

Everglades, we will be back.  Please show us just as good a time next time...