Friday, May 6, 2016

Arizona's Mountain Spring

I spent a hurried twelve hours up north this week (and I slept for seven of them). We hit 100 degrees this week down here in the Valley, and it's hard to remember that the rest of the world is still enjoying spring.

I arrived at the cabin way past dark, ate a hasty dinner, then headed to bed. I left at 6 am and the golden sunrise was just peaking. I loaded my computer and bag into the car, and as I turned to lock the door, a surprise greeted me.
Lilacs are my favorite flower of spring, and they don't exist in Mesa. When I discovered last spring that they grow in Pine, I dreamed of planting some by the swing on the front porch. Brad had to go chop up a fallen tree a few weeks ago, and while he was there, he planted three bushes for me--a little love letter from him that I will enjoy for years. I plucked off one bunch and smelled it the rest of the day.

As I headed down the hill to the highway, this field of irises forced me to stop and pull out my camera.
Life has been extra hectic and stressful this week, but taking the time to smell the flowers even for a moment before I drove home calmed my racing mind.

God has created such a beautiful world. And we're so lucky to live on it. Take time to enjoy it today.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Stand Tall, Stand Strong, and If Necessary--Stand Alone

In eighth grade, a seventh grade girl and I got called to the vice principal's office for fighting.

Mr. Armstrong had a paddle on the shelf and everyone at O'Leary Junior High knew that he used it occasionally.

With us girls sitting in facing chairs, he asked, "Why are you here?"

The other girl was a known bully, a person everyone tried to avoid or appease--everyone except me. I had been bullied enough in my life, and this time I was going to stand up.

With a tiny bit of fear but trying to sound braver than I felt, I answered his question. "We walked across the street yesterday after school was out. She brought her friend, and I was alone. We exchanged words for a few minutes, and then I waited for her to hit me. When she did, I fought back. I'm not proud of it, but I did defend myself. I shouldn't have left school grounds, and I should have gone home instead, but I didn't. I'm sorry for fighting."

But I wasn't sorry for standing up to her. To this day, I'm proud of that moment in my life. In that brief encounter filled with hair pulling, kicking, and a few well placed punches (from both sides), I stood up for myself and the dozen other kids she'd terrorized.

After hearing my side of the story, Mr. Armstrong gave me a not painful swat with his paddle and dismissed me. Later, he confided in me that the punishment for fighting was a swat, no matter the situation, but he knew that I had defended myself. And he actually told me he was proud of me for standing up to her.

I recently uncovered a similar situation with a bully, but this time it's an adult. I agonized over what I should do with the information I received.

Should I lay low and hope someone else would stand up? No one else had all the information I did. Others who knew of the situation were in positions where their jobs would be jeopardized if they disclosed what they knew.

What would happen if I did nothing? The situation would undoubtedly deteriorate, with long lasting effects rippling through our neighborhood.

What would happen if I did something? I could be portrayed unkindly and villainized in my community as a troublemaker. And the decision to stand up for what was right could affect not only me, but my younger kids as well.

I took a few weeks to plan a course of action. I knew I was facing a situation where, while there may be a desired outcome, consequences would reach far and deep and last long. Was it worth it?

In the end, I chose to stand.

I stood alone, the face of the resistance to authority, armed with the testimonials of others to support me. I knew what I stood for was right. It was the truth.

Since making the fight against this bully public, many have gathered to my standard. Some have mobilized against us. Others, whose fear is strong, are choosing to wait out the battle. I'm not passing judgment on anyone. I respect everyone's right to speak their truth and follow their own hearts to the actions best for them.

But for me--right now in this place--I'm choosing to cross the street and meet the bully face to face, just like I did at thirteen years old.

I will fight today to preserve tomorrow.

And I'm not afraid.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

She's Gone

It's been a long six months for this girl. We've spent countless hours side by side--in the truck, in the Suburban, and in Brad's car--with me teaching her how to drive.
Thirty minutes at the DMV on Saturday, and now she's licensed and free.
Thirty minutes after getting home, I heard her call up the stairs, "Bye!"

Where you going?
"Dad needs something at the store."

When she got home, she had taken the truck through the $3 car wash and vacuumed it out.
And with that, she's received her wings.

But bad luck hit Sunday morning. The starter went out.

She'll have to wait a few more days until she's completely free. And it will be almost as hard as waiting six months.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Waiting On and On

To review my 2016 goal, click here. January's post is here, February's is here, and March is here.

That was my entire April--holding on. Asking God for guidance and patience and understanding every single day.

It would have been much easier to quit trying or to quit believing or to move on to something new. I felt like cracking apart almost every day, but one morning I got my favorite bowl out of the dishwasher to make muffins.
Each time I place it on the counter, I wonder if this will be the last time we work together, this bowl and I. 
I don't know what is holding it together. It's cracked completely through in places, but even when I use the hand mixer and rattle the beaters around inside, the bowl stays in one piece. I know it has limited use left, but I cheer for it every time it weathers a mixing experience. Such tenacity. Such willpower.
And that morning I thought, "If the bowl can hold it together one more day, then so can I."

Weird life metaphor moment, right? My brain works like that.

Each day all month I would wake up and think, "Today. Today is the day I will get an answer. Today is the day I will stop stressing about what I can't control. Today is the day I will be patient. Today is the day none of this will matter and I will be at peace."
With the setting of the sun each day I would think, "Nope. No answer today. Maybe tomorrow."

And finally, by the end of the month, seven weeks of (im)patiently waiting for an answer ended.

In retrospect, I didn't handle waiting and holding on very well. But just like my favorite bowl, I held it together, even if the cracks and chips in my psyche sometimes showed.
Seven weeks later, I can now look back and see some of the lessons I learned. 

  • God is in charge. 
  • Worrying about what we can't control is not only unproductive but it can also be destructive if we let it.
  •  I have more patience than I ever thought. 
  • I need more patience than I have. 
  • Prayers are heard, even if they aren't immediately answered. 
  • And most important . . . Nothing is too small for God. If it's important to us, it's important to Him.

I will rely on the lessons of April 2016 forever. I will remember it as the month that I learned this about myself:

I really can wait. I just don't like to.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Thank Heaven for Little Girls*

Nine-and-a-half years is a long time.

That's how many years apart these two girls of mine are. Lily is in and out all the time, rushing from school stuff to work stuff to fun stuff, and Eve is usually home. Occasionally, their paths cross, and I love these moments they spend together.
I think Eve even won this game. She's got a wicked good Uno game.

Another night I took both of them and Lily's friend to see a Broadway touring company's version of "Beauty and the Beast."
It was absolutely spectacular--the costumes, the sets, the voices. Eve managed to stay awake for most of it, but I remember she missed the Beast's transformation into the Prince. When the smoke cleared and the lights came up, Lily and I both looked at each other and said, "That's the prince? Meh. A little bit of a disappointment." Guess you can't always have mad dancing and vocal skills AND be drop-dead attractive. But it was the best production of the show I've ever seen.
Ah, little girls. I love being their mom. I love tucking this littlest one into bed at night. I love talking with the bigger one when she comes bursting through the door just before curfew, bubbling over with excitement and adventure to share with me.

*And thank you, Maurice Chevalier. I remember watching Gigi over and over with my mom.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Time to Face the Truth

We've all been there.

 The day when you look at yourself in the mirror and say, "I have to get my hair done . . . NOW!!!!"

I had that day two weeks ago. After scheduling the appointment with a stylist I've never seen before, I spent time on Pinterest with Lily looking at hair colors and styles, trying to decide what to do with my uber straight, uber fine, uber boring hair. I knew that I wanted a little change but nothing too drastic. We pinned a few images to show the stylist and off I went, with my heart full of hope.

The stylist and I talked for a while. She looked at my pins. I explained my pesky cowlick in the center of my forehead. She fingered my hair and gave opinions. I discussed options with her. Then she went to mix the color.

I sent this pic home to Lily. See? I was still smiling.
I told the stylist that I wanted to go darker. I told the stylist I didn't want bangs.

But as the appointment progressed, I realized that my requests fell on deaf ears. After cutting the back, she pulled out the hair dryer, and blond streaks appeared. What part of "darker" involves blond highlights? My flight or fight radar bleeped, but then it receded again. Maybe this would still work out. Things would be ok.

Then things really weren't ok.

She had convinced me that a few layers framing the face would be good, and I was ok with that. She sectioned off the front of my hair and cut it to just below my chin. It's all good. I can handle this. The next cut caused me to sharply inhale and stiffen.

She cut bangs. Not just bangs, but a heavy fringe of bangs. Right across my forehead.

I was speechless.

"Are you ok?" she asked.

How do you answer that question when you're at the mercy of someone with scissors and you most definitely are NOT ok?

"Yeah. I'm fine."

The appointment couldn't end fast enough, and I was so gobsmacked that I couldn't process what had just happened. When Lily heard me enter the house, she rounded the corner and excitedly asked to see. She saw my hair, and knowing what we'd pinned earlier that morning, she immediately knew. She froze, silently assessing my new look. She held out her arms to hug me and said, "Come here, Mom. Did you pay for that?"

Yes, dear. I did.

Brad didn't recognize me from a distance. I sat on the bench at church with my family, and my friends wondered who was sitting with my family. Eve's friend got in the car and she whispered to Eve, "Why does your mom look so weird?" Eve's reply was, "It's because she has bangs. And they aren't going away." It's that different.

It's been almost two weeks now, and I'm ready to face the truth.
I have bangs. For the first time since high school (and the first time since we've been married), I have bangs.
At first, I really hated them. Hated them so much that I hid them under a ball cap or headband for the first few days. But they're beginning to grow on me. I still hate the highlights, and the dark color has already faded, but the bangs? The bangs may be around for a while, much to my surprise.

And I may actually be a teeny bit grateful to a stylist who went completely against my wishes.

Plus, it's just hair. It will grow back.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

When Dad's Away

It was our annual Mom/Son weekend. At least that's how I saw it when Brad took Eve on the Daddy/Daughter campout this weekend. Lily had to work and stayed home, but she was so busy that we rarely saw her.

I love these weekends when it's me and just a few of the kids. I let the boys dictate our schedule, and it was testosterone heavy, to be sure.

After stopping at Sonic for Lily (and for dinner and shakes for the boys), we played three rounds of laser tag.
Guess who was the best shot of the three of us? Hyrum. Laser tag is not Mom's favorite activity, but I'd do anything for these two guys.

After laser tag, we made popcorn and watched the first part of Harry Potter 7. The rule in our family is this: before watching the movie, you must read the book. As great as Harry, Ron, and Hermione are on the big screen, they're even better when seen through J. K. Rowling's prose. Hyrum just finished #7, so this was the perfect opportunity to watch the movie without excluding Eve. Hyrum falls asleep easy and early (just like his mom), but he had no problem staying up till almost midnight to finish the movie.

Saturday morning (after dropping Lily off at work again), we ate breakfast at Cracker's, their favorite breakfast anywhere.

Then we were off to the next boy thing--BYU FanFest at Pioneer Park. I didn't think the boys would enjoy this much, but I was happily wrong. It was boy HEAVEN.
They tackled the practice dummies like pros . . .

. . . and passed to their favorite receivers.

Coaching staff mingled around and talked with the kids.
They gave passing pointers and showed the boys the best way to stand.

A few photo ops were sprinkled around, and the boys loved wearing the real jerseys and helmets. Micah insisted on an action shot. That boy loves football right now.
Fans lined up for autographs all over the park--there were football players and basketball players, to be sure, but the most popular? Coach Sitake . . .

. . . and the man I wanted to meet, Ty Detmer.
He is the nicest guy ever.
I'm sure his head was pretty sunburned after standing in the AZ sun for hours on end, talking to fans.

We left the park stoked for this next year's season, especially for the BYU/U of A matchup to kick off the season.

I know Dad and Eve had fun camping, but our weekend was the best ever!