My Mom Goes to Funerals

16 11 2013

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I read this piece from NPR the other day. (It’s short and worth the read.)

It made me think of my mom. She goes to funerals more than anyone else I know. Seriously, I was thinking about it, and I’m positive she goes to more funerals in a year than movies.

It’s a quiet thing to do, a caring thing. And showing people she cares in quiet ways is one of my mother’s hallmarks. She takes cookies when someone has a missionary farewell. She writes thank you notes and birthday greetings and Christmas cards. And she always goes to the funeral.

A lot of times, she doesn’t even know the person who died very well; she goes to support the people who are left behind.

And that, to me, is a perfect example of what Deidre Sullivan said. “In my humdrum life, the daily battle hasn’t been good versus evil. It’s hardly so epic. Most days, my real battle is doing good versus doing nothing.”

Thanks, Mom, for always showing me it’s worth doing good.





Halloween 2013

1 11 2013

Time for a photo dump! First, the pumpkin patch:

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This is in the beginning, when I had the color setting on “electric.” Eden found this pumpkin with an eye in it.

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Bow ties are cool.

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The lady pirate–I made her the belt and we deconstructed the striped button-down shirt into the overshirt she wanted. She’s got some sweet striped leggings on, too, but you can’t see them from this angle.

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Colby was super-sonic in this rocket (which I scored at the thrift store for $5).

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Rainbow is obsessed (and has been for at least six months) with hamsters. (She’s been wheedling both her dad and me to get her one for her birthday.) So this was my attempt at a hamster costume. I don’t think anyone guessed. Despite it looking rather like a bear with a growth on each cheek, she was pleased with it.

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Zack wanted to be the 11th Doctor (from Doctor Who), so I tramped around town looking for a bow tie, suspenders, and a tweed jacket. Do you know how hard it is to find a boy-sized tweed jacket? Let me tell you: difficult. But I found this one at a thrift store and (ba-dum-bum-ching!) altered it myself. I’m not much of a tailor, but I feel like it turned out all right.

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Shortened the length, shortened the sleeves, moved the button and made a new buttonhole, moved and small-ized the pockets . . .

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. . . and added elbow patches (which is naturally the best part).

 

 

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Here he is with his sonic screwdriver, trying to light his TARDIS pumpkin.

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And it worked!

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Hope you all had a wonderful Halloween!





Tender Mercies

30 10 2013

Back in 2005, Elder Bednar gave a great talk in General Conference called “The Tender Mercies of the Lord.” In it, he described small and simple ways the Lord blesses us when we need it most. Since then, I have looked (and found) in my own life many ways the Lord has blessed me with tender mercies.

Last week was a chain of tender mercies, one right after another.

Here’s what happened:

  • My home teacher came over and gave me a priesthood blessing.
  • I had a five-hour rehearsal and my kids followed directions and went to bed on time. (Except one. You should have read the text Eden sent me about it . . .)
  • Eden had some VERY particular ideas about her Halloween costume. We had gone to Goodwill on Saturday, but she was dissatisfied about everything we looked at. On Monday morning, I went back as a last-ditch effort to find what she wanted. I had combed through the children’s section and was about to head home when I had the thought to check in the adult section. I said a prayer (partly because of previous item: five-hour rehearsal the night before, and I was tired) before diving into the skirts. And I found exactly what I needed. Not only that–it was the right tag color to give me 50% off! Seriously, folks. I almost started crying right there in the store. Rejuvenated, I slid over to the men’s section and found a perfect shirt to deconstruct for another part of her costume. Also 50%. I think I smiled clear until that afternoon . . .
  • . . . when I was really stressed due to a concert I was playing in Seattle. Timing-wise, it was tricky. Figure out dinner for the kids, write directions down, pack a dinner for me, pick up kids, get dressed, relay all information, drive to Seattle (not my favorite thing to do), find a parking spot, find the venue. It all worked. I left on time. I got a text telling me Colby was successfully picked up. And I was able to breathe.
  • My friend picked up my kids from my house, drove them to Seattle, and sat with them throughout a two-hour classical music concert, just so my kids could see me play in an orchestra. That is friendship, folks.
  • The next day, I got to spend some time with my bestie who happened to visiting from Scotland (yes, you read that right). We ran errands and laughed and just talked continually. One of the errands was to pick up my sewing machine, which I had taken in to be serviced. Once home, I went to work making Eden’s pirate costume pieces. There were some tears (from her, not me), but it ended up coming together to the point that she smiled. I’m calling it a win.
  • Wednesday, Zack, Rainbow, and I headed to Seattle in the morning for infusions. This is where I felt I was rolling in the miracles. Zack got a fantastic nurse and had his best poke EVER–no yelling, no fainting, and in on the first try. Rainbow’s went the same way–no tears, no fainting, and in easily. This might seem like a little thing, but their dad was out of town and I was extremely concerned that it go over well. Later on, another friend came to visit us, bringing fun gifts, goofy socks, and the talent to suck Jell-o through a straw. The kids loved having the extra attention, and I loved having an extra adult around while I took kids with I.V. poles to the restroom or went on snack runs.
  • Thursday was party day. I am not a party mom. My kids know they get one “friend” birthday party when they turn eight, and that’s it. However, Eden somehow talks her way around my anti-party-ness when she points out it isn’t for her birthday and promises to plan the whole thing. So I spent the day trying to put my house back together from several days of dropping things on the floor and falling into bed. A friend called and said, “I know yesterday was stressful for you. Can I help get ready for the party?” I told her to come in a couple of hours, then spent that time sorting and sifting through the various detritus that accumulates as a natural byproduct of entropy. (Or having children.) She came and vacuumed, swept, dusted, and did my dishes. Twenty 11- and 12-year-old kids screamed through and destroyed it all several hours later, but the weight it lifted off my shoulders was not insignificant.
  • Friday morning, I said good-bye to my friend from Scotland after a quick, cozy visit. And that night I crashed.

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Smiles all around.

One of my friends said today regarding miracles: “They serve as much-needed reminders in the midst of our struggles that God is aware of us and loves us, that no matter how hard the path we’re walking, we aren’t walking it alone.”

I am so blessed to have such wonderful kids and so many friends who willingly reach out to help me. I’m humbled by the generosity of so many and know that God is aware of me. That’s completely amazing.

Now who’s ready for Halloween tomorrow?





Hard and Soft

15 09 2013

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Life with autism is hard sometimes.

Like when you’ve had a couple of bloody noses, and so every time it starts to drip after that you think it’s going to be bloody. Then you yell to your mom, “It’s a red nose!”

And she says back, “No, it isn’t. It’s a white nose.”

“It’s a red nose! I need a wiper!”

So your mom hands you a tissue and you dab your nose and sigh in relief when it comes away not-red. And you walk around for the next several hours with a Kleenex held up to your face, occasionally changing it (and not always remembering to put the used “wiper” in the garbage can).

Other times, someone takes a bath, and for some reason you get extremely agitated by the sound of the running bathwater. Your mom can’t figure out why it’s making you so crazy, and all you want her to do is stop holding you so tightly so you can run into the bathroom and turn it off. So you scream and yell and and try to squirm out of her arms but she won’t let you. She tries to talk calmly but she just doesn’t understand the urgency of turning that water off. You don’t know why–yelling, “Turn it off! No more water! Mom walk!” seem self-explanatory enough.

And when the water stops, you give a shuddering sigh and let your mom wipe off your cheeks because it seems to make her feel better. Then you tuck your head under her chin and ask her, for the first time, to read you a book.

Her heart melts a little bit.

You snuggle in against her and she sighs, just as tired as you are from the recent wrestling match. Then she picks up the book and leans back into the pillows.

They’re soft, and you relax into them together.

 

 





School Is Back In Session

11 09 2013

Long time, no blog. Crazy life! I felt a bit like summer went too quickly, but once the kids were back in school and we had a routine it felt like I let out a big sigh. It was time!

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Who’s too cool for eighth grade? Yeah. This guy.

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Starting middle school in grade six!

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Fabulous fourth–

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Number one first grader here–

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The elementary school kiddos.

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The middle school peeps.

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This is my favorite picture from the morning.

I sure love those kids of mine.

We’re back in session!





Thoughts on Divorce

6 08 2013

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A friend asked me what helped and what didn’t when I was going through my “life transition.” I came up with the following. Hopefully it can help someone who’s wondering what to do.

For some people, divorce comes after years of problems. For me, it was almost like a bomb being dropped. The first several months, I was in shock. “Is this really my life?” I would ask myself numerous times every day. As I tried to reconcile my life’s expectations with my new reality, I went on auto-pilot. So many hands reached out in so many ways. I will be forever grateful for the prayers people offered on my behalf. Along with that, here are some things that were particularly helpful:

Don’t pry. Offers to talk were appreciated, but I didn’t even know entirely what was going on in the beginning. When you push for details, it comes off as nosy–like you care more about the event (and passing on the juicy details) than about the person going through the event.

Cards, flowers, emails, and food. It touched me deeply when I would receive a card in the mail. For me, going through a divorce made me feel completely alone, so when I received something it was a wonderful reminder that people cared. I remember one day in particular when a friend showed up on my doorstep with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a sweet card. Another friend gave me a flower on Valentine’s Day–which was sweet, but almost had the opposite effect. Rather than feeling particularly loved, it drew extra attention to my single-ness. A better idea would be to remember a birthday, or to help the children of the newly-single person make something special for Mothers’ Day or Fathers’ Day. One of the best things I received was food. The transition from two adults sharing the workload to one, along with the emotional toll a divorce takes, makes the everyday chores in running a household even more burdensome. Treats and dinner were always welcome.

Take the kids. I tried very hard to be stable for my kids during the time of transition. Being able to send them to the neighbors’ to play (and stay for dinner, too!) helped me to have some space to grieve and process and cry. I remember one time in particular when my neighbor invited the kids over for a fire in their backyard. They left, and I was mopping the floor when a certain song came on that brought my warring emotions to the surface. I hung my head and wept, great gulping sobs–the ugly cry. I was grateful my kids weren’t there to see that. It scared me in its intensity; I’m sure my children would have been scarred for life to see it. The children weren’t scarred and I was able to vent my emotions and come closer to healing. Win-win!

Don’t forget your friendship. I appreciated so much the friends that still invited me to do things. I hadn’t realized so many of my activities were couple-related until I was no longer a part of one. Divorce isn’t contagious; single people still enjoy going out to dinner or to the movies with their married friends.

Be understanding. If your friend doesn’t share the details with you, there’s probably a reason. Don’t jump to conclusions as to what happened. If you feel like you need to know, ask. If your friend doesn’t want to give details, be okay with that. Divorce is messy and complicated and rarely can be boiled down into a sound byte.

Fill their love bucket. Above all else, divorce made me feel inadequate. I wondered why I wasn’t enough and what I had done wrong. Emails letting me know people noticed me, supported me, and were cheering for me boosted my confidence when it waned. Even though I knew my worth was not based on other people’s perception of me, my self-worth was at a very low level. A sincere compliment buoyed me when my spirits were low.

I’m sure there are many other things, but these were what helped get me through. I’m so grateful to have such good friends and family. Loving support is invaluable.





Summer Cuts

9 06 2013

I posted Eden’s new haircut a month or two ago. When Rainbow saw it, she said, “I want to cut my hair like Eden’s!”

I said, “Okay. But I’ll have to get you an appointment.” (It is a style beyond my basic hair cutting skills.)

Then things got busy (was May a vortex of craziness for anyone else?) and I forgot to get her an appointment. Which turned out well, because a couple of weeks later she said, “Nevermind. I just want a trim.”

I said, “Okay. Let’s do it next week.”

Next week never came (I make my kids so crazy sometimes), and Eden was scheduled for a trim. Rainbow said, “I want to come! I want my hair cut like Eden’s!”

I said, “Okay. Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“You changed your mind last time. Are you sure you won’t change your mind again?”

“I’m sure.”

So Rainbow came to Eden’s haircut and we set up an appointment for the next day.

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Voila! Cutest pixies ever.

For the first time, both my girls had shorter hair than I did. Not only that, both of my girls had shorter hair than Zack.

Weird.

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Zack is on the one-haircut-a-year plan, though. And this weekend, he decided, was the time.

That is the before. Here is the after:

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How would it be to be so handsome that it matters not the length of your hair?

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Of course, we had to stop midway and take pictures.

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Because who doesn’t love to imagine themselves with a mullet?

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Business in the front . . .

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. . . party in the back!

I imagine you’ll all want my number to share in this hair cutting goodness, but I’m afraid the craziness didn’t end in May. Life is just so busy right now I can hardly draw a full breath.

However:

Nine more days of school left. Then we can really party!