Monday, August 29, 2011

Stir Crazy!

Ok, so here's the thing: last October, we took the kids to Apple Hill, up near Placerville. We picked some apples, bought a couple of boxes (and made lots of apple chips, apple pies and apple sauce), enjoyed some home-baked goodies, and just generally had a fantastic weekend. That was nearly a year ago. Since then:

In January, we took a day trip over to Cal Poly to look into finishing Doug's Master's Degree. In June, we took the kids up to the park one last time before our passes expired and hiked Moro Rock and saw the General Sherman tree. That same week, we took a day trip to Pismo Beach, with a stop at Cal Poly on the way to drop off some papers for Doug's last class. For my birthday, we got to go to Visalia and have some burgers and do a little paint-your-own-pottery for a few hours with no children. Last month, Doug and I took a day trip to Inverness with just the baby. Oh, and this spring we went to a movie and went to the temple a couple of times. And that's it. In a year, that's all the time I've spent out of Lindsay or away from my children. And that wouldn't be so bad, except it was this year, and with McDermont right across the street, and having to pass City Hall every time I go to or from the kids' school and having a tense reaction to a couple members of the ward I see every week, I could've used a bit more relaxing.

But we don't have a plan yet, so I must change my attitude. For the most part, through all this nonsense, I've been quite calm and quite happy. A few things all came to a head this week, and I must admit I was a class A grump. That must change, because its not fair to my family--being grumpy doesn't get us anywhere, but it does make everyone more grumpy. So I'm saying all this to preface this statement: Don't be surprised if my blog posts start turning into merely lists of things I'm grateful for or funny things that happened during the week. Because there are a lot of good things happening in my life, and my husband and kids deserve a happy wife and momma to take care of them, so I need to focus more consciously on those good things.

On a side note, this morning as I was listening to Kylie sing to herself, I was remembering how at this age Keilana regularly sang I Am a Child of God and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam. Kylie's regular repertoire? Bust a Move by Young MC and We're Not Gonna Take It by Twisted Sister. My parenting might be getting worse with each child.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Now what?

We're doing OK. Disappointed because the job we wanted, the one that would've been almost perfect, didn't come through. But doing OK.

Tired, though. This year has been a doozy. A doozy that followed four whoppers. We're very quickly running out of time (read: money) and still have no idea where to find our footing. That can be very exhausting. Add to that that I almost always go to bed way later than I should, wake up frequently at night, and now I have some kind of nasty bug or something that is completely and utterly zapping my energy and making my whole body hurt. Especially my throat.

A couple of weeks ago, my dad posted the following in response to one of Doug's posts on Facebook:

What I learned going through similar experiences: 1. Trying to understand what God wants from you is more important than trying to get what you think you want 2. As long as the family is together, the rest is little stuff 3. The Red Sea does part, but not until the last possible moment

That's almost exactly how I've been feeling. I know something will work out, though its getting rather difficult to see what or how. And we have each other and our happy little troop of kiddos. Beyond that, life is mostly details.

So we're tired. Feeling a bit befuddled, but we're happy. And if there is one thing we've never felt in all this, its alone. Thank you for your love. We have felt it and been sustained by it more than you'll probably ever know.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

*happy sigh*

Sometimes the smallest things
take up the most room in your heart

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Responsibility, Forgiveness, Pride

Its funny how there are times in life when so many different things suddenly come to a head at once--sometimes you see it coming, sometimes you don't. But occasionally, all the little things that have been bubbling up around you, perhaps for years, all boil over at once.

It can be kind of exhausting.

A lot of recent events, and the various ways in which people have responded to them, have caused me to think a lot about personal responsibility, pride, and forgiveness.

I am convinced that much more of human pain is caused by myopia--I want what I want and it hasn't really occurred to me how that might affect you (or I'm in denial about how that might affect you)--than by outright malice. But something I heard several months ago at a meeting has really stuck with me: "Whether you shove me off of a 10-story building, or accidentally bump me off a 10-story building, the results for me are the same." Whether we intend to or not, sometimes through our selfishness or shortsightedness or weakness, we hurt other people and we have to take responsibility for that.

And when we fail to take responsibility for those actions, directly and personally, it is not unforgiving or mean-spirited of the injured party to establish some healthy boundaries. If we have caused them pain or difficulty and refuse to directly acknowledge that, much less make any efforts to change the behavior that caused the problem, it would be foolish of the individual that we wronged to allow us such closeness to them again. Should they continually regard us with anger, or view cynically any sincere attempts on our part to change, then they are guilty of being unforgiving. But so long as they retain a sincere hope that we can change, and embrace genuine efforts to do so, they are entitled to a bit of distance--once broken, trust must be earned back.

Personally, I've never understood why it so difficult to simply say to another person, "I was wrong, I'm sorry. And I'll try to be better." It can be embarrassing, and it can be painful, but life is so much harder and lonelier when we refuse to do the right thing. I've seen people be unwilling to admit that they had done wrong because it was just too big--the weight of their transgression was so overwhelming that they felt if they accepted the responsibility in that overt way, it would just crush them. How ironic that its just the opposite, in reality.

The Savior offers us the Atonement. We can't fix it on our own. Sometimes it is too big to lug around all our own, and it will slowly crush us if not addressed. Some mistakes are just too big to mend for ourselves. But he says that we bring to him a "broken heart and a contrite spirit" and asks that we "take [his] yoke upon us" for his yoke is easy, and "[his] burden is light".

A broken heart is pretty painful and terrible. Broken hearts are almost always the result of sin--our own, or others, but usually a combination of both. Sacrificing that pride, letting go of it and submitting our will to another, is often difficult and painful--at first. It is very natural to want to do things our own way, and we loathe relinquishing that. But if we bring with that broken heart a contrite spirit--a genuine desire to do and be better, by obeying his will--something rather marvelous begins to happen: our will changes. Less and less do we have to submit our will to His, because more and more our will becomes the same as His. We find greater joy, and consequently grow a greater trust for the Lord, and our will becomes simply a desire to enact his will. The Lord, as any loving parent, wants us to be happy. Sometimes he asks us to do difficult things, but he never asks us to do things that will make us miserable. I'm sure it pains him to see his children suffering and miserable--that's exactly why he worked the Atonement.

When we are willing to turn to the Atonment, our burden becomes light because the Savior takes upon himself all those foolish, selfish or wrong-headed things we do. We place that burden on his back, and we no longer have to lug around a broken heart. Pain and guilt are very heavy burdens to carry. When we come to him, and in turn to others we may have wronged and hurt, and humbly acknowledge that we have gone astray, and sincerely try to do better, he carries that burden for us.

That seems like such a simple thing, "a broken heart and a contrite spirit". However, letting go of our pride, and having that initial confrontation with ourselves before the Lord and those we've hurt, where we have to stare straight into that bruised and broken heart and feel that godly sorrow, seems so difficult that many people avoid it, trading it instead for a life of heavy, ever-growing burdens. So often, we insist on doing things "my way", refusing to submit our will, and then, in a strange twist, we often blame the Lord for our difficulties. We become bitter that he seems to be punishing us, when, in fact, he isn't punishing us at all. We are simply living out the natural consequences of foolish mortal choices. Our perspective is so limited by worldly distractions that, even with the best of intentions, it is difficult (if not impossible) to make the wisest possible choice without the Lord's guidance. But we must seek that guidance; he will not usurp our agency.

I've seen people sacrifice jobs, friends, even families and marriages, anything but their pride. And I don't understand it. Oh sure, I understand making a spouse or a child or a friend or myself miserable for a day or two because I didn't want to admit that I was wrong, or simply didn't realize that I was wrong. But I don't understand it as a manner of living--I don't understand how someone spends day after day angry and lonely and miserable, when the key to joy is right there. Why carry that burden when there is someone who has willingly offered to do it for you?

I've reflected a fair amount lately on the life of the apostle Paul. There was no worse tormentor of the early Church, but when the Lord appeared and rebuked him, there was no hesitation, no attempt at justification or obfuscation. He responded, simply and sincerely, "lord, what wilt thou have me do?" And when the Lord told him, he went and did without hesitation, and did so for the rest of his life. His was not a life most would generally view as "easy", and yet I'm sure that for all the tumult around him and the challenges he faced, Paul was at peace, that he felt, more often than not, that his burden was light. I'm sure that he had joy. When he realized that he was wrong, he made no excuses, and he didn't hide from it. In the face of his sins, he humbly changed his entire life, before both his former allies and his former enemies, by placing his sins, transgressions and hurts on the Lord's shoulders, and then spent the rest of his life zealously teaching others how to do the same.

In that, there is joy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


So I've been a bit of a slacker lately, both in taking pictures and uploading them (though admittedly its been worse in the uploading them department), so iPhone shots will have to do today.

The kids had their first day of school for the year on Thursday. Keilana is in second grade, and she was super excited. Her teacher is Mrs. Spradlin, and she was excited that some of her friends that she hasn't been in the same class with since Kindergarten (and that was like forever ago now) are in her class this year. She told me that she had a great first day and that she had lots of fun with her teacher. She's turned into quite a confident and self-assured little girl, and it was fun to see her happily bounce right into class and immediately find her place, easily understanding and quickly complying with her teacher's instructions to her in Spanish.

Dylan is starting Kindergarten and dual immersion, so I was excited to see how he'd respond to the new experience. When we got to his classroom (and found out that he has the same Kindergarten teacher that Keilana did-yay! I love her), Mrs. Samaniego started speaking to him. Entirely in Spanish. All of the sudden he got small, and then turned his body into me. This is such a natural thing for most children, but I honestly can't think of any time I've ever seen him do it. He is either actively, loudly, fighting and kicking against me terrified or unwaveringly confident--I've never seen much of anything in between. When his teacher asked him, "Como te llamas?" I said, "Dylan, that means 'what is your name?' Tell her your name." He turned a little and said, "Dylan." She showed him to his little name card and explained (with motions that made it clear to him what she expected) that he needed to sit down with a piece of paper and write his name. This he knows how to do, and on his way to the table he spotted a couple of familiar faces from preschool and any first day/new language nerves were forgotten entirely, as he started chatting and laughing while writing his name.

When I got there to pick them up, Keilana told me excitedly what her reading level in Spanish was and that she got a sticker for doing the best in math that day. Dylan strutted over to me and when I asked how his first day went he responded, "Great!" I asked if he had any English class yet or just Spanish and he said, "I just did Spanish today. I learned lots of Spanish today. To say 'turtle', its 'tortuga'. And I learned the Spanish word for 'yo-yo': [carefully shortening and accenting those 'o's] 'yo-yo'."

They're only three days in, but they both seem to be enjoying themselves. Yesterday when I picked them up, Keilana told me that she stayed on the little kid playground to play with Dylan before school started. He smiled and said, "Yep, we had fun!" I'm glad they enjoy each other's company.

In other firsts, Keira had solid food today for the first time. I've given her a little bit of potato or couscous or banana off my finger before, but she's so very interested in food, I thought it was probably about time I sat down and tried to really feed her. I just threw a can of peas in the Magic Bullet for our first go-round, and it was pretty entertaining to see her trying to figure it out.
Peas are a strong flavor, and even pureed with water, they don't go down like milk does.
Trying to figure out how to swallow, and use her tongue to help her get the food down, instead of pushing it back out.

All in all, she enjoyed the experience and the flavor (we even let Kylie spoon a few bites into her mouth for her. I can't believe she's going to be five months old tomorrow. Where does the time go? It really doesn't seem like it was that long ago that I was spooning sweet potatoes into Keilana's cheeky little self on the floor of our furniture-less apartment in SLO. And now she's four feet tall and argues with me about what to wear to school!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

All the little pieces

I'm grateful for all the people who have influenced my life and shaped me. . .

Annie Talbot Kent, my mom's grandmother

Meil, Georgia, Nathan, and Lettie Pierce (Mom's parents and paternal grandparents)

Grandapa Nate Pierce, mom's dad

. . .even if I never knew them here.