What If I Could Write A Letter To Myself?

What if I could write a letter to myself? My younger self, that is. With all that I know now that could help erase some of the pain of back then? Or what if my future, older self could write me a letter that I could get today that would tell me yes, everything really will be okay? Would it help me now to get through all our trials? And what seems so huge today… will it seem that huge in 5, 10, 25 years?

Today a couple in my ward blessed their baby. They had been trying for a long time to get pregnant. It got to the point where they were just about to give up and were looking into adoption, when she got pregnant. And stayed pregnant. It wasn’t the easiest pregnancy (really, are there actually easy pregnancies? I don’t believe there are, no matter what some women say!), and several weeks before the baby was due, the mother and her father were in a car wreck. It was bad enough that the mother was in the hospital and they were trying to prevent an early labor. It was too early to have a healthy baby. Thankfully, everything turned out just fine the worst that happened was her baby shower had to be rescheduled. The couple has a healthy baby boy a few months ago.

When the mother got up to bear her testimony during Sacrament Meeting today, she said, “If someone had told me a year ago I would be here today, blessing my baby boy, I would have laughed in their face. No, I would have cried in their face and thought it a cruel joke.”

I remember those feelings all too well. I remember how long it felt we tried (unsuccessfully) to have a baby. I remember feeling the desperation as I watched friends and family members seemingly have an easy time of it. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get pregnant. And when I finally did get pregnant, it resulted in a miscarriage. It was such a tough time. I sometimes wonder how it was the Ches and I made it through that because there was so much strain. So many tears. And then… Aiden. I couldn’t believe we actually got this little miracle who was so perfect and so lovely. I didn’t know how I could ever be so happy again. I never forgot the pain of the years before Aiden came to us, but the pain was lessened so much by that little being we were blessed with.

And now look at us… three boys. Three wonderful, active, smart, funny boys. After a long break where we thought our family was complete, we found ourselves blessed again. In the next 15 weeks we will have our fourth child. FOURTH!

Has it been easy? Not by a long shot. Am I a good parent? I try. I don’t think I am (not what this post is about, however), but I try. Is everything perfect since we got our long-awaited for children? Not by a long shot. We still have so many trials and tribulations. Sometimes it feels like we are bogged down so far into the muck there is no way of pulling ourselves out. But I don’t know what it will be like a year from now. Will I be able to look back at this year and say, “I am so blessed. We kept working and trying, and things are better. We are happy.”

That’s all I really want. To be able to acknowledge that life isn’t always great, but we’re still happy. I have Ches. I have my kids. We’re still working and we’re still trying to pull out of this muck. Little by little, we’ll get there. Maybe I don’t need a letter after all. And maybe I need the pain to make the reward that much sweeter.

Mistakes

When I was a senior in high school I was the 3rd chair flute in our school’s audition band. The 2nd chair flutist was a junior I’ll call “Kayla”. Kayla and I were friends… to a point. She actually drove me crazy. The worst was that whenever she made  a a mistake during rehearsal she would turn to me and tell me what to fix. “That was a B flat”, she would say in what I heard as a sickly sweet voice with a simpering smile. Blech! I sat next to her and could hear that she was the one who played B natural instead of B flat. Not I. I played to correct note. I hated being “corrected” for something I never did wrong.

In the spring we both auditioned for and made an all-region honor band. It just so happened that I actually made second chair and she made third chair. In the middle of sight-reading a piece, I made a mistake on a note. I couldn’t help myself. I turned to Kayla and said, “That was an F sharp, not an F natural” and gave her a big, fake grin. She gasped, “Oh my gosh! You’re right!” and quickly marked her music. She never made that mistake. Just me. But I wanted to get back at her. Not my finest moment.

Last night I got an email asking me not to do something. I can’t really go into the details here, but it was from a family member and it was asking me (with several other family members) to specifically not do something to one of my siblings. I felt like I was being admonished and chastised for something I have never done and would never do. If anything, I felt that this family member treated this sibling much the way I was being asked not to. It reminded me of sitting next to Kayla in band again. I bristled at the email, but the more I thought about it, the less angry I got.

You see, we all make mistakes. We all know that. It’s part of being human. However, it is often just so hard to admit when we have made mistakes. Sometimes it’s harder to admit the small mistakes than the big ones. So we point it out in others, perhaps to take the attention off ourselves. Perhaps to make us feel better about our mistakes. Perhaps because we assume that if we’re making these little mistakes, others must be, too. Sometimes we may honestly be blind to the fact that we make those mistakes and we really do want to help others that we see making those mistakes. I don’t know, honestly. I just know that I am going to try not to let the admonitions of others bother me anymore. They are not telling me something because they hate me. And maybe I am blind to the fact that I really am making those mistakes.

Here’s to me, recognizing my mistakes and striving to be better. That’s all we can do, right?

Bagels for Breakfast

My mom and stepdad got married during the summer of 1987. While they went on their honeymoon (which was really a cross country road trip where they went from job interview to job interview), I got to spend a few weeks up in British Columbia with my grandfather.

My grandpa was awesome. He was a pilot and had amazing stories from World War II. He also told us kids a lot of stories about The Red Baron (I know now just how untrue those stories were because The Red Baron was World War I, but my grandpa never let things like facts get in the way or entertaining his grandchildren). My grandpa was an artist, with a studio in his house where he painted and sculpted. He had a kiln and all these great glazes to paint on to ceramics. He let me make a few things that summer. He took some pictures of me and started painting my portrait. He never did finish it (he was never happy with it and kept tweaking it over the years), but I have that now. My grandpa was a story teller. In addition to the airplane stories, Grandpa would often tell us about how he was really born on Mars or something, or he would line us kids up, call us to attention, march us around the room, and yell things like, “Wipe that smile off your face!!” and then tell us to stand “at ease”. He would have us sit in a circle, then gave us Indian nicknames (mine was Princess Long Hair) and tell us more stories that always started with “Many, many moons ago…”. Even though I was the only grandkid up there that summer, he still called me Princess Long Hair, still marched me around, and still told me story after story.

That summer my grandpa took me on walks around his neighborhood. He read to me from “Around the World in 80 Days”. He took me to the library to check out books and he got picture books of zebras so he could sculpt a zebra. He taught be to fox trot and do the box step. He showed me pictures of him and of his first wife from before the war (they both looked like movie stars). He let me wander around the yard while he played bocce with his friends. He played ping pong with me in his basement. He took me to a water park (even though he didn’t swim at the park). He made sure my passport got stamped going into Canada, even though at that time I didn’t need a passport to get into Canada and they never really stamped them anyway. It was my very first passport stamp. He took me to the Okinagan Lake and let me watch for Ogo Pogo. He taught me to play the beginning of “Somewhere, My Love” from “Dr. Zhivagho” on the organ. He taught me to play chess. He played War and Crazy Eights with me for what seemed like hours on end, and even tried to teach me to shuffle a deck of cards (it never worked).

Every morning for breakfast he would have a grapefruit. I would have a bagel. I don’t remember ever having bagels before going to Grandpa’s house. This was a real treat. I wanted bagels for breakfast every morning. I wanted bagels for snacks. I wanted bagels with my lunch. I wanted bagels almost as often as I wanted a glass of milk (which, if you know me, you know that is a lot). At one point, when I asked for yet another bagel to eat, my grandpa said, “I’m going to make you a huge bagel necklace so you can just pick it up and take a bite whenever you want.” The image in my head made me giggle.

I had a bagel for breakfast this morning. It wasn’t anything special. Just a plain bagel, lightly toasted, with butter. However, whenever I eat bagels, I still think of my grandpa, how much fun we had, and just how much he loved me.

Edward Who?

My mom has been on my case for years to come get my “stuff”. She is tired of dragging my childhood books and toys and journals across the country every time she moves. I can’t say I blame her, as I haven’t gotten my stuff because until we settle down and get our own house, I refuse to drag that stuff across the country. That and we don’t have any place to store it. Anyway, Mom has come up with a clever plan to get rid of my stuff… just start sending me things. For the past couple of years I get random boxes in the mail filled with my old books. I finally requested specific books so I can be sure to get what I want (still waiting for The Secret Garden, Charly, and Little Women — of which I have about four copies!!!) and will read or read with Aiden.

The most recent box held my Anne of Green Gables series. Since I finished Three Cups of Tea, I needed something light to read and I don’t think I’ve read any Anne books in about 15 years. It has been like going home after a long time away. I had forgotten just how lovely and descriptive L.M. Montgomery writes. I had forgotten just how funny and delightful I find Anne. And I had forgotten all about my crush on Gilbert Blythe.

Oh, Gilbert Blythe! My first literary love. In my imagination he was so cute (and once I saw the movies, I was so glad the actor lived up to my expectations. That doesn’t happen often enough). Gilbert is so steady and sure and wonderful! Sends my heart a-flutter to remember all about Gilbert.

Like millions of girls out there, I will admit to having a huge crush on Edward Cullen, but honestly, he just doesn’t hold a candle to Gilbert Blythe. There will always be an extra special place in my heart for my first love. Other loves come and go, but your first just stays with you. Even in imaginary characters.

I was trying to think of some of my other literary crushes. Mr. Darcy, of course, and Teddy (from L. M. Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon series) popped in my head right away. I remember wishing I would someday find a guy like in so many of Jack Weyland’s characters. I read a lot of teenage romances in 7th grade. It was a series of books called “Couples”. In my group of friends we all read them, and we all kind of adopted a character to be ourselves. Mine was a shy, petite, brunette named Holly. Her boyfriend in the series was Emerson (his last name… don’t remember his first name. He was mainly called by his last name), a large, jovial football player who was absolutely devoted to Holly. So, since I was Holly, of course I had a crush on Emerson. I wanted an Emerson.

Ahhh, the memories. It’s really funny to me now, but don’t expect me to talk about much else on my Facebook status for a while. I’m back with my first love, Gilbert Blythe.

Who did you have a literary crush on?

Ring Ring

I haven’t worn my wedding ring in over 2 years. I had to quit wearing it when we moved here to Arizona, right before Parker was born. It was getting hard to get on and off as it was, but once we moved here (August, 8 months pregnant) I suddenly swelled up and couldn’t wear not only my wedding ring, but any of the shoes I had. Thank goodness for flip flops.

After I had Parker, I lost a few pounds initially, but then I developed a thyroid problem and started gaining weight. I still never go tmy wedding ring on, and I had taken to wearing another ring instead. It’s an heirloom… a white gold engagement ring with a sapphire for a center stone and four tiny diamonds (two on each side of the sapphire). It was my great-grandmothers, and it’s just gorgeous. My aunt passed it on to me when I was 20. I was able to wear that ring comfortable for quite a while, but then one day realized I could no longer get it off. I had gained too much weight.

Well, I still haven’t lost any weight. I think I’ve finally stopped gaining weight (it’s only been an extra 60 pounds), but losing weight is a lot harder than gaining weight. I don’t know if I’ll ever lose any of it, honestly. I’m not very disciplined when it comes to working out, and I refuse to cut foods out of my diet. I’ll cut back (no problem… done), but stop eating breads or sugars? Heck no. Not going to happen.

I miss wearing my wedding ring. It’s my engagement ring and wedding band sautered together. Ches bought it for me in 1997, when we were on a trip to Calgary. He had taken me up to meet his family for the first time over Labor Day weekend, and I had no idea he bought a ring that weekend. I’m the type of girl that always wanted to be surprised with the ring. I didn’t want to pick it out. I didn’t want to be proposed to without a ring. So it was a great surprise!! I love my ring.

I went in to a jeweler’s today and got my antique ring cut off. I got the pricing for the antique ring “repair” (which is what the resize is considered for that one, since it was cut), and the pricing for my wedding ring. The antique will cost $75. I can use money from my next paycheck to cover that. My wedding ring is a size 5. I need it resized up to a 7. It is going to cost $125. For just my wedding ring.

I don’t have $125. It’s Christmas time and we can’t even afford presents for each other, but this is something that Ches and I have been talking about for a long time and I know that he wants me to wear my ring as much as I do. So, do I come up with the money anyway?? We still don’t have that kind of money. Where would it come from? I can’t afford to get both rings done! I almost burst into tears right there in the jeweler’s. (It didn’t help that Parker and Dallin, who had started off being angels suddenly turned into devils and were acting up like mad). So I’m getting the antique ring repaired, and will have to do without a wedding ring for a little longer.

I’m now thinking seriously that I could be disciplined enough to workout regularly and I could give up breads and sugars and whatever else I have to give up to lose this extra 60 pounds and wear my ring again. It means that much to me.

Memories!!I

I want to play, too!  So…

1. As a comment on my blog, leave one memory that you and I had together. It doesn’t matter if you knew me a little or a lot, anything you remember!

2. Next, re-post these instructions on your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you. It’s actually pretty funny to see the responses. If you leave a memory about me, I’ll assume you’re playing the game and I’ll come to your blog and leave one about you.

Oh What Do You Do In The Summertime?

I got a new calling at church a couple of weeks ago, and last week was my first week.  I’m the primary chorister, although I tend to think “song leader” is a bit more appropriate of a title.  I’ve never done music in primary before, and it scares the heck out of me.  Getting ready for Sunday felt like my Elementary Music Methods class at University of Idaho.  Basically, I was trying to come up with a lesson plan to teach a new song that all the kids would enjoy and would be able to learn from.  All the kids means all 120 of them!!!  Argh!!  scary.

This Sunday, in addition to learning the song, I want to do a fun activity for the 20 to 30 minutes I have in Singing Time.  When I was a kid in primary we would sing “Oh, What Do You Do in the Summertime?” and I just loved that song.  The summer my parents separated my mom took the three of us kids with her to live with her dad and stepmom in Kelowna.  My grandpa’s house was this huge place, on top of a mountain (or so it seemed to 6 year old me) that over looked the Okanagan lake.  That summer (and the summer I was 10 and got to visit my grandpa all by myself while my mom and stepdad were on their honeymoon) had many afternoons of sitting. looking over the lake, hoping to catch a glimpse of Ogopogo.  I swear I even saw him when I was 10, and I stick to my story today.  

I still remember going to primary that summer when I was 6 and during Singing Time getting to sing the Summertime song.  Then the leader asked all of us children what WE liked to do in the summer, and she replaced the regular lyrics with what we said.  One kid even said he liked to look for Ogopogo in the summer.

(I’m going to steal the idea and do this activity with the kids this Sunday.)

I was thinking today of the different things I used to do as a kid during the summer.  Once school got out, it seemed like summer was the best time of life.  In California we rode bikes all over town.  We climbed trees.  We’d play soccer in the backyard and baseball in the street.  We’d go to Thrifty and get ice cream cones for 25 cents.  We would walk to Grandma’s house to play cards and to go swimming.  In Maine we’d walk to the local swimming pool, or my best friend would take me with her to the lake with her parents.  In Wyoming we’d go to the Frontier Days parades and pancake breakfasts and carnival.  In Norway we went camping and sightseeing and once went fishing in the fjords.  In Arkansas we’d walk to the park and meet up with friends.  In New Hampshire we would walk across the street and down the path to the beach.  In Indiana we would walk to the library, the park, friend’s houses, downtown.  We’d play in sprinklers, on the slip-n-slide, or just use the hose to drink from.  No matter where we lived, our summer activities were basically the same, and they were always spent outside for the majority of the time.

My kids stay in the house and watch movies or play on the computer.  We go swimming almost every day, but almost no time is spent just outside, running around.  We have this huge, grassy, common area right in front of our house, and some evenings the kids go outside to see if any of the neighbor kids are out.  It’s pretty rare, though.  We have a playground practically across the street, but we’ve only been 3 or 4 times since we’ve moved in.  My kids don’t own bikes, and they don’t know how to climb a tree.  They don’t get to walk to the closest grocery store or convenience store for ice cream treats.  We haven’t been camping since Aiden was Parker’s age, and we just don’t have the money to travel to see relatives like I did when I was a kid.

What is wrong with their summers???  Summer was supposed to be the most enjoyable time of the year for kids!  What happened?

Oh, yeah.  We live in the desert of Arizona.  It’s frickin’ hot out, and we can’t stand to be outside for more than 30 seconds.  I took Dallin to the doctor today, and from the second he got out of the van, he started complaining of how hot he was.  Don’t start with all the “Oh, but it’s a dry heat!” business, because i have to tell you, 115 is hot, not matter how humid or how dry.  Yes, it’s beautiful here in January, and we spend a lot more time outside here during the winter.  However, it’s just not summer.  Winter time is full of school activities.  You don’t get that freedom that comes with summer. 

School starts in just two weeks, and I have to say I’m really happy.  Aiden will finally have something to do.  He will make friends, and in just another 2 or 3 months it’ll cool off enough for the kids to go out and play after school.  And maybe we can see about getting some bikes.  I feel bad that my kids don’t get the awesome summers of freedom that I had as a kid.  I know there are tons of things we could be doing that doesn’t involve melting in the heat, but again.  Summer is supposed to mean outdoor freedom, not structured trips to indoor, air-conditioned places.  I’m going to mourn this for a while, I think.

My Other Name

Karen called me Sariah the Somnolent Amphibian in a comment the other day.  I didn’t know why, and I had to look it up in Dictionary.com because I don’t know the meaning of the word “somnolent”.  It means “sleepy”, in case you’re wondering.  Once I read the meaning, it occured to me.  You see, to sign in to comment on that particular post of hers, I didn’t use my regular Blogger sign-in.  I used some new sign-in option, clicked on the “W” icon for WordPress, and instead of it saying “Sariah”, it gave my suer name:  “sleepyfrog76”.  It’s all making sense to me now.

I got this username years and years ago.  I was signing up for an email account (which I don’t have anymore), and I wanted something cooler than just “sariah_s” or something.  At first, I tried to use “theslayer” or “slayerfest2000” or “buffyness”, that kind of thing.  It wouldn’t accept that.  Ches suggested that I use “sleepyhead” because I love to sleep. We have different ideas of what is an appropriate bed time and what is an appropriate waking up time.  He is a morning person.  I’m so not.  Anyway… sleepyhead wasn’t accepted either.  At that time I was in to collecting frog paraphenelia, so I thought I’d combine my two loves of sleep and frogs, add my birth year (Spirit of ’76, baby!!) and see what happened.  It worked!!  I’ve used that username for my new email addresses and for my blogs… and a few other things. 🙂

The funniest is that I sent out an email to my friends and family saying, “here’s my new email address”, and my stepdad immediately called me.  “Did you open your Christmas present from Mom already??” he asked.  Uhhhh, no.  I don’t even remember if I had it yet (as my mom is notorious for sending packages late).  I asked why, and all my stepdad would say was, “You’ll see.  It’s just interesting the name you chose for your email.”   Hmmmm.

I opened my Christmas present from my mom… pajamas.  With frogs.  I put them on and declared, “I’m a sleepy frog!!”  I still have those pajamas.  They are just too appropriate.

I like what Karen called me though.  It sounds more distinguished.  Sariah the Somnolent Amphibian.  Sweet.  Karen, you crack me up, just when I need it most.