Saturday, March 29, 2014

How did we get here?

You may not know that one of my favorite musicals is Rent. Ive loved it ever since Beth and I first saw it at the Paramount Theater as teenagers. We had no idea what we were going to see (and some of it is a bit racey for Mormon teenagers) but we both fell in love with the characters and especially the music. And like all good music, it frequently pops into my head when I hear a phrase from the music. Like: "How did we get here? How the hell?" (Sorry for the swears, but it's from the bible so it isn't a swear word, right?)

I keep hearing that song lately, whenever I think about where we are at right now.  More than half way through PA School, on the cusp of a new career, with an almost 8 year old daughter, nearing 10 years of marriage, and in a basement.  How did we get here? How did we go from a great job in Real Estate, newly weds with two small children, and our first house to the place we are now?

I'll tell you how, Inspiration.  Ny sitrapon' i Andriamaniatra. ("The Will of God" in Malgasy, one of my favorite, while slightly overused, phrases from Madagascar.) That's how it all happens, right? God's will. The interesting thing about His will is that it is rarely centered on one of us completely as an individual. He usually includes quite a few of His children at once to carry out His will.

I'll tell you how we ended up in a basement.

We bought our first house 5 years ago, and with that came a new ward at Church. Among the many amazing people we met in this new ward was a soon to be beloved Nursery leader. Riley was barely 2 years old and took right to Sister Tingey. Of course she instantly dropped the formality of "Sister" and went straight to calling her Tingey.  We often called them Kindred Spirits because there was a true connection between them. It was instant, and effortless. It was love.  I don't know who adopted who first. Did "Tingey" and David adopt us or did we adopt them? I guess that is part of love, you never know who started it.

The friendship evolved from Sunday lessons, to stopping by to play with the porcelain doll collection, shopping trips, pictures with the Easter Bunny, movies, and an annual trip to the Tulip Festival.
The Tulip Festival
One of the beautiful pictures Jennifer took of Riley in the tulips.
I can't help it, I love our Tulip Festival pictures.

Hannah's Wedding
Seeing the movie Brave

But three years ago, on March 30th, Tingey lost the love of her life.  We watched as she nursed David, we cried with her, prayed for, and mourned with her when he finally passed on.  Of course, as memory fades, my kids remember his bird Edward better than they remember him.  But the thing that they have always known, is feeling loved whenever they were here in David and Jennifer's home.

When it came time for us in 2012 to move to Seattle for PA school (to rent out our own house and save money while we are living off of student loans) things just weren't working out.   The stress of the past few years of hard choices, disappointment, and finally acceptance to school was overwhelming and our family needed a break. So we took a vacation to Disneyland.  One night, while the kids slept in the stroller and JT and I walked back to the hotel after a day of fun, we started talking about how things were going to work out. We knew that Heavenly Father had a plan, we just wanted Him to let us in on it.  And then, as we talked, a "random thought" popped into my head.  Why not live in Tingey's basement until the housing comes through in Seattle?  She would probably be willing to let us live there for a few months.  She might even like the company with her daughters away at school, and her sweetheart gone on to Heaven.  It wouldn't hurt to ask.

And here we are. Almost two years later.  We got here on a winding path of friendship, love, loss, and a kind Heavenly Father who knew how to meet both of our families' needs at once.

Jennifer has not only adopted my children, but she has totally adopted JT and me as well.  She opened up her home to our family, and we are still here almost two years later.  I am amazed at her generosity, and I probably take it for granted sometimes.  She has sacrificed her home, her space, her privacy, and her refuge with our family.  (Not to mention sharing her Easter Peeps with my kids!) I have never heard her complain (even though she has every right to) or regret letting us move in.  My kids have had her love at a hard time, with their Dad gone so much and their Mom exhausted.  She is thoughtful, and extremely aware of each of us.  She knows the things we love and the way to each of our hearts. And I think that we have found the way to hers as well.  I think that we have blessed her life almost as much as she has blessed ours.  I think that we will all miss each other more than we realize when JT graduates.
Tingey's Green Bay Packers Birthday
Papa Joe and the Popsicles
The beautiful Chestnut Tree
High Tea with Tingey
The first trip to the Circus!
Trans Siberian Orchestra Concert- so awesome!

I am grateful that Heavenly Father answered our prayers through each other.  I am grateful that he knew we would need each other at this point in both of our lives, and I am sure that will not end even when we move out and she gets her whole house back.

When I look around our comfortable, homey, happy basement, and the words from Rent ring in my ears "How did we get here?" I remember Ny Sitrapon' i Andriamanitra, and Tingey's generosity and feel very thankful.


Friday, January 31, 2014

The Traitor

Ever since I was a child, I have been keenly aware of clothes and fashion.  I hate to admit how much it has consumed me.  I have had entire family vacations ruined because I was dressed (what I considered to be) inappropriately. The MTC was depressing for me when the Temple Square sisters arrived and I was in my jungle dresses.  I use to not like going to the gym if my shoes didn't match my tank top. It's been bad.

As a five year old, my first experience at Disneyland was tainted by the fact that my "mean" mom made me wear shorts instead of a dress.  Now that I am an adult I realize that maybe she just didn't pack any dresses (or tutus) for me to wear on vacation.  (This was long before Princesses took over and everyone started wearing dresses and glass slippers to ride the rides and get autographs.) Or maybe she thought I would be more comfortable in shorts.  But I wasn't.  I was extremely uncomfortable.  I can still point out the spot (near the Haunted Mansion) where I saw some teenage girls in their mini skirts and I wanted to cry (and probably did) because they got to wear dresses to Disneyland and I had to wear shorts!  Of all of the wonderful memories I could have created at The Greatest Place on Earth, this is the one that I have. Shorts.

Yes, my two year old wearing heels at Disneyland.

I had to throw in some of our Disneyland pics.


In fifth grade the biggest fad was  "International News".  It seemed like every cool 6th Grader wore a baggy sweatshirt with the bold "International News" print across the front.  And I felt like the only lame 5th Grader who didn't have one of the sweatshirts. I would have given anything for an article of clothing from Varnet, International News, or Gotcha.  But since they hadn't been out long enough to circulate to the local Value Village, I was out of luck.  I was forced to pin my giant New Kids on the Block pins to a regular old jacket. (Yeah, because the no name brand jacket is the lamest thing in that sentence...)

I barely survived Elementary School fashion in time to get to Middle School.  Thankfully my parents were sick of my crying starting to understand me a little more.  When K-Swiss were popular I got the coolest new style.  When the puffy Adidas jacket were all over the halls of Nelsen Middle School, I unwrapped one for Christmas.  I didn't have all of the cool clothes.  But I had at least one article that made me feel like I could breath and cope with every day life.

This is making me sound very vain or shallow or materialistic.  I prefer "keenly aware of fashion". Painfully, keenly aware, with no way to turn it off.  I can't make myself unaware.  I have tried.

But I thought I had it under control.  As the wife of a PA student, I am not wearing 7 for all man kind jeans.  I don't carry a Kate Spade hand bag.  And I am not strutting around in Jimmy Choo shoes. But I am still breathing and enjoying my life. So apparently I have learned how to cope. (Also, most of my friends are not wearing those clothes, so I don't feel like a 5th Grader idolizing the "big kids".) I thought I was immune to that "keen sense" of fashion around me, but it's back.

This time it isn't about shoes, or purses, hairstyles, or anything that even remotely resembles high fashion.

This time it is Blue and Green.

It's everywhere.  And I think I am the only person in Seattle who is not wearing a Russell Wilson jersey today.  Team Sports Wear has never been high on my radar.  Maybe because it didn't use to be very flattering, or particularly fashionable.  Or maybe because I have never been very passionate about any specific team (or team color for that matter, I would probably be more likely to buy a jersey if it were pink).  Or maybe because I have never been the only person not wearing Blue and Green in an entire state.  (Wow, this sounds exactly like me at Disneyland! The only child whose mom wouldn't let them wear a dress!)

This time it isn't about my "mean" mom.  It isn't about the cool kids at school and their fashion. It isn't even about wanting to fit in.

It is about feeling like a traitor in my own state.

I have lived "in" Seattle all my life.  I have rain boots and a rain jacket but no umbrella.  I went to Mariners games in the Kingdome.  I go to the zoo in the pouring rain.  I cancel all of my indoor plans if there is a sun break to be outside.  I camp with blue tarps.  I still like alternative music. I feel compelled to recycle everything. And I think that fish should always be thrown. So why do I feel like I just don't belong??  I feel as unpatriotic as a Beattles shirt on The 4th of July.  I feel like I am letting down my friends, family, and my hometown by not having a giant 12th Man Flag blowing outside in my front yard and proudly wearing an oversize Marshawn Lynch sweatshirt.  I feel like a traitor.

Looks like it is time to go shopping.

I had to get the pic here, since I don't have a 12th Man Flag. :(

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Happy Birthday (in July) Blake!!


Happy 5th Birthday Blake!! (2013)



Every now and then I throw one of my kids a pretty cool party.  This time it was Blake's turn.  He wanted a Ninjago Party.

Kai's Fruit Punch
Ninjago cupcakes and balloons

Kai is Blake's favorite. (Frosting is not.)

Ninja Riley

We had a Ninja Training Course where the kids could test out their skills.  They were pretty cute doing somersaults and tricks on the obstacle course.










One of the other brilliant Pinterest ideas, was a Ninja lollipop.  Seriously, what did our Mom's do before Pinterest? 

The Birthday Boy


I think this might be my favorite picture! So cute!!

Viva and Riley posing with the Golden Shurikens.

Russell and Ella in the sun.

No party is complete without a Party Break Down. 

The Boys. (These Boys are all born within a month of each other!)

Ready for the cake.

FYI I'm dressed to go swimming (not running) after the party.

Singing Happy Birthday

Even cute girls can be Ninjas.



Karate Jumps off the wall.

Sadie showing off some of her moves.

Macie loved being a Ninja



Viva, the Ninja Fashionista.
My Favorite Pose.  (It was so hot, Blake was dripping sweat.)


Looking tough

Ready to fight

More awesome jumps.

Another adorable Ninja.

Happy Girls




Blake


Now I feel like a good mom again, for posting one of my kids' birthdays.  I better do Riley's Birthday soon so that I can move on and begin 2014. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What does Mom DO all day??

Thankfully, I have never had anyone ask me, as a Stay at Home Mom, what I do.  I have seen comments on Facebook and various blogs asking that question. "As a stay at home mom, what do you DO all day??"  The few times that I have seen it from an arrogant, condescending, "I can work a 40 hour week, then come home and do your job on top of that.", snotty attitude.  I have been pretty irate. Thank you all for never being that rude to me (for your own safety).  But even with out the "you just sit and watch soap operas all day" stereotype, I think that some people legitimately don't know what it is we do all day.  And that is because each of us Stay at Home Moms does it differently.  I considered sharing my normal "work" day with all of you.  But realized that writing out "continually doing everything I can to teach, love, support, and inspire 3 children without going insane, or crying in a closet." doesn't really do it justice.  (Maybe someday I will write that post.)

For now, I would like to share with you what my son, Blake, thinks I do all day.

This morning, as we were gathered (in a reverent, angelic manner) to have family prayer (read: someone inevitably crying, someone sneaking bites of cereal with one eye open, and me trying to remember to brush someone's hair before the bus comes) it was Blake's turn to pray.  He sweetly gave thanks for our family and then proceeded to ask Heavenly Father for the blessings we need today:

"Please bless Daddy to have a good day at school...

"Please bless me and Riley to have a good day at school...

"Please bless Macie to have a good day at Preschool...

"Please bless Mommy to....

This is where I stopped thinking about where I saw the brush last and listened intently to see what Blake thought I would be doing today.  It was clear that the entire rest of the family would be at school. So what is it that my 5 year old son thinks I do all day??

"...uh... to do good in her class at the gym..."

So there you have it.  While my husband needs blessings to study hard and get through his final year of PA school, and Riley and Blake to enjoy their schooling, and Macie to be have fun at Miss Ashlee's (how hard can it be?), I am blessed to kick some butt in my spin class at the gym. :)

And that is just what I did.


But here are a few pics for the snotty attitudes ;)


Teaching Blake to make Pie Crust

Raising them to get recognized at school for outstanding behavior.
Throwing awesome Birthday Parties (that I forgot to Blog about)

Teaching them to ride a bike.

Ok, ok, I guess I do a little bit more than work out at the gym :)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Best Day Ever!!!!! (besides my Wedding Day, oh, and the birth of each of my children...)

Maybe I should go back and explain how this all came to be. 

Last year when I decided on my Word for 2013 and blogged about it here I chose the word Dream.  I wanted to focus on living my dreams, and helping my children live their dreams as well.  It was important for me to start living them now, and not wait until we are out of school, out of the basement, or out of debt to live. I am very happy to report that my children have had some fun adventures this year (that maybe I will get around to blogging) including taking Gymnastics and beginning Violin lessons.  Both of these are things that my kids have wanted to do, and are things that we probably can't afford.  But in the spirit of chasing dreams, we have made sacrifices so that our kids could believe in the power of Dreaming Big.

As for myself, I really hadn't done much to further my own dreams.  I think reality hit me harder than I expected in 2013.  It turned out to be one of my most difficult, and most trying years.  I often felt like I was in survival mode only.  And that keeping my head above water was going to be my greatest accomplishment.  (I did accomplish one dream; of running a Half Marathon... that I don't think I ever blogged about... but it was a pretty huge accomplishment!) Other than my run, I think I somehow set myself and my dreams aside to get us through this year.

Fortunately for me, JT did not set aside my dreams.

I have always wanted to fly a plane.  I remember the first time I flew in a small plane.  My family was at the Fair in Monroe where there was a tiny plane giving short rides around the fair grounds and surrounding area.  If I remember right, my sister and I thought that sounded like fun, but assumed we couldn't do it because it cost extra.  To our surprise, my Dad encouraged us to take the flight. (We were use to a very a frugal family, so spending extra at the fair was a pretty big deal.)  Thank you, Dad, for encouraging your girls to do something that seemed crazy (like risking our lives in a tiny airplane at a fair). It changed my life.   I loved it.  I couldn't believe how much I loved it.  And I have loved every flight after that.

If you know me, I get almost as excited for the plane flight as I do for the vacation. I love seeing planes flying overhead.  I like to imagine who is on the plane, where they are going, and how lucky they are to be going on an adventure! (I hate it when I realize that someone on the plane may be going somewhere they don't want to go, or leaving people they love.  Usually I just assume everyone is headed somewhere tropical with the people they love.) Basically, I love everything about flying.

As a young adult I met a guy who was getting his Pilot's license and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. And then as an EFY counselor I remember one of the speakers talking about his Dream List.  Where he wrote all of his craziest, wildest dreams.  And how he lived each of them.

I decided then, that I would get my Pilot's license by the time I was 30.  Well, 30 came and went, and I was no where near getting my license.  I was pretty much still day dreaming whenever a plane flew over head.

But last month was my Birthday.  JT told me he had a surprise scheduled for the week after my Birthday.  On my actual birthday, he gave me a gift that was not what I expected.  I was actually disappointed ( I really hate admitting this). The gift felt somewhat thoughtless (probably because I am use to him giving very thoughtful gifts).  I got upset and accused him of not thinking about me. I even accused him of planning this surprise to be something he wanted to do, not me.  After all, I didn't ask to do something for my birthday, I asked to receive something!  My friends tried to insist that he had something up his sleeve, but I didn't believe them, and went to him crying that night. Keep in mind, this is minutes before my temperature spiked and I began throwing up. So I blame some of my obnoxiousness on the fact that I was getting sick and had no idea. The rest of it was me just being a brat, I know. When I cried to JT about how I felt like he wasn't thinking about me, and the gift was about him, he was pretty hurt.  He told me how he had thought a lot about the gift, and all he wanted was to help me live my dreams.

I was humbled.

And immediately I knew what I would be doing. FLYING.

We haven't talked about that particular dream in years, but he had remembered. (Yes, I felt dumb.  Yes, all of my friends were right.  Yes, I constantly underestimate the amazingness of the man I married.)

So, after rescheduling 4 times because of weather.  On January 3, 2014 I flew an airplane.

I had no idea what to expect for the flying lesson.  I was nervous that they would have me do math.  Especially when I saw this picture in a book on the coffee table of the waiting room at the flight school.
This has been one of the things holding me back: Math.

But the pilot came and got us and walked us straight out to the runway.  And there sat the little two seater Cessna that we would be flying. He showed me how to check the plane for safety and the next thing I know, I was inside the plane learning about the instruments. (Luckily there wasn't a quiz, because I was too excited to remember half of it!)
Pretty impressive that my scarf matched my plane :)
I was shocked when Grant (the instructor) asked me if I wanted to take off. Like me, personally, lift the plane off!!  But I had already decided that I would say Yes to whatever he asked.  The next thing I knew I was pushing in the throttle and pulling up the Yoke and we were lifting off the ground.  And that is when it happened.  The feeling of pure freedom rushed over me.  I felt the plane lift off the runway and into the air and I was released from all of the cares of the world.  It was just me and the plane (and the instructor, Grant, of course) and the air beneath us.

I have imagined a million times how wonderful it would feel to soar above the clouds but nothing compared to the reality.  I have never felt so free.  Nothing (but some laws of gravity and physics) connected me to the earth.  I was absolutely free.  No distractions, no stop signs, no boundaries, no limits.  

I was definitely timid at first as I got use to the yoke and the controls under my feet.  But Grant reassured me how safe we actually were. (The scientists who invent and build planes are pretty amazing.) Soon I was comfortable enough to take the yoke and experience the sky for myself.  We flew all around the greater Seattle area and the Puget Sound.  
Out the window, overlooking UW

One of my favorite moments was a deep 360 degree turn, and feeling the force of 2G.  I know I am not a Blue Angel or anything, but even 2G was pretty awesome.  At another point in the flight, he made the plane stall.  I felt like all time stopped.  Everything sat hovering over the Puget Sound, and then all at once the nose began to dive down and to the right, my stomach lurched, and my smile brimmed.  To go from standing still, to diving and then regaining the controls and altitude was one of the most exciting moments.
Sorry, its hard to be a pilot and a photographer.
I took a video, but I can't figure out how to get it on blogger:( so this will have to do.


After gliding past the Seattle shoreline, it was time to land the plane.  Which was also pretty cool, to line it up, and try to set it down smoothly.  (Grant did 95% of the work on the landing, but he let me believe I did more.)


When my feet were back on the ground it was almost a let down.  I was literally out of the clouds, and back down to earth.  I can't believe how much I loved having nothing under me except air and wind. I don't feel like I can adequately explain how incredible it felt!  I don't know what it is about the ground that seems to be holding me back, but there is something about the sky that seems to let me go.  The sense of freedom and being unbound was one of the best feelings of my life.  I am probably sounding really repetitive, because I don't know any more words for amazing. Fascinating, marvelous, incredible, thrilling, spectacular, stunning. It was everything.

It was a dream come true.

Even though it wasn't in 2013 I am counting it for living my dream.  It was the best possible start to a new year. I don't know when I will be able to continue with more lessons, and be able to get my license.  But for now I am content knowing that I am one step closer to one more dream.
The other planes, I have yet to fly.