Saturday, November 30, 2013

Another Thanksgiving

(Thankful Papers, 2013)
I think this is the first Thanksgiving in I don't know how many years that we didn't get a family photo. We also didn't get any photos of the abundance of people, love, and conversation around our Thanksgiving table.

Maybe it means we were engaged in the holiday and actually enjoying time and memories together more than  being concerned with recording them. Or maybe it means I simply didn't think about it.

I did however remember when we arrived home on Thanksgiving night. Instead of trying to gather everyone together for a photo, I opted for individual shots instead.
(Poor quality photos, but remember I don't get professional photo shoots very often.)

And this is one of my favorite recorded videos of all time.
LOVE it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Mike, Tiffany and a "Hollywood" Debut

I recently recalled an assignment I had in a Minority Relations class at the University of Utah, almost 20 years ago. We had to list all of the "hats" we wear. College student, bus-rider, employee, sister, daughter, etc. are a few that I remember listing at the time. Our assignment was then to expound on what situations we found ourselves a minority in.

I think the reason I thought about the assignment was because while getting ready to leave the house yesterday morning, I laughed when I thought about where I was going...

To film a commercial for Caterpillar machines for Wheeler Machinery.

The hat I wore today was as an owner of a landscape construction company, and I had to give my two cents about why I love their machinery??

Back to why I remembered my college assignment....I'm quite certain that among my peers, I am a minority in some of the hats I wear...dealing with a dying goat one day, filming a Caterpillar commercial a couple days later.

The night before my filming debut, I texted a dear friend to tell her I could no longer keep an appointment. Her reply was a compliment, "Now you can add movie star to the list of amazing things you already do." It meant a lot, and I was quite flattered by her comment.

The same night, I emailed my BFF the dilemma I was facing. I asked sincerely, "So, what exactly should I wear for a Caterpillar machinery commercial tomorrow? Yes. That is my dilemma for the evening."
Her reply?

So much for the boost of confidence from HER.

Back to the commercial filming. (And no, you won't be seeing the commercial during any prime time television. It will be used primarily for Wheeler Machinery's own marketing efforts.) While waiting for the film crew to arrive, Mike walked around the job site doing what he does. I felt a little out of place. OK, kind of a lot out of place. I mean, what was I supposed to do? Start laying sod? Climb in a piece of equipment? Shake people's hands? I couldn't figure out what to do to look official. So instead I sat inconspicuously at a nearby abandoned picnic table and sent photos of myself in a hard hat and safety vest to Megan and my BFF.

The crew arrived at the most inconvenient time--just as I was calling the school to excuse Luke's absence because I left him at home providing daycare for Drew. Not that I'm embarrassed to be a mother, but I didn't want my first impression to be on the phone taking care of "mom business." I'm sure Mike gave it all away when he sarcastically said, "Oh! Important customer call?" as I approached to shake everyone's hands.

So... I'm not exactly the most "hands on" business owner, and Mike scripted me on the drive there as to why exactly I love Wheeler Machinery and Caterpillar products.

I was kind of a fake.
Well, not a business owner fake, but a lover of machinery fake.

Fortunately the recording was not live, and they told me several times they can edit the interview quite "flawlessly" to make it flow well in the final product. Which is a good thing, because there may or may not have been a few questions that I either laughed at or answered with something resembling, "Uh. I don't know anything about that."
Mike on the other hand was a natural.
Helps that he KNEW what he was talking about, but still between the interview part and the still photo shoot part, he was asked more than once if he had interview/modeling experience.
Mike wanted to die when they asked him to put his foot up on the equipment and "pose."
I'm sure my hysterical laughing in the background had something to do with Mike ending up with a few bouts of the giggles himself too.

  (photo courtesy of Tom Zdunich of LENZ works)

 (photo courtesy of Tom Zdunich of LENZ works)
Then when I was asked to put on my hard hat and the photographer suddenly started snapping away at me, I really couldn't stop laughing.
Since when does my life include photo shoots wearing a hard hat? Or for that matter any photo shoot?!
I may be the owner of Sinc Constructors Co. on paper, but 99% credit goes to Mike who manages day-to-day operations. He's worked hard to build this company. Considering he started the company in bed while on bed rest, with instructions to lift nothing heavier than 10lbs for 6 months following his back surgery, he's come along way.
(These were not "set-up" scenes. Our workers continued to work hard on the job, while the film crews did their job too.)
I should take credit for playing a supportive (and important decision making) role.
We make a good team.
 (photo courtesy of Tom Zdunich of LENZ works)
 (photo courtesy of Tom Zdunich of LENZ works)

All in all, the day ended up being a definite highlight for Mike and me. The people we spent hours with were fabulous! I wish I'd have done the interview part later in the day when I felt much more comfortable with everyone. I loved them all! If Mike and I didn't have our own company to run, I'd definitely want to be an employee of Wheeler. But as neither of us are in the market for a new job right now, we'll stick with being their customer instead. What a company! (And no, that wasn't part of my script. I discovered that all on my own after a great day with some top notch people out there in the business world.) I'm also not much in the market for a video made about myself, but if I were, or ever am...I'll be using the same recording crew at LENZ works. Great day!

So thinking again to my old college assignment...Here's the hat I wore today.
No pun intended.
 (photo courtesy of Tom Zdunich of LENZ works)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Saying Goodbye

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
~ Kahlil Gibran

(Luke and Dudley, July 2013)
I don't find it a coincidence that for several hours on Saturday morning, this display on the bookshelf in my room was in my main line of vision. A plate with a quote about remembering moments, a statue of a mother holding her child, and a home-made Mother's Day gift from Luke in 2010.
I will always remember the moments of Saturday morning. I will forever remember holding Luke as he sobbed, and I hope Luke will (one day) see the continued fulfillment of his 2010 sentiments to me, "Thank you for everything you do."

On Saturday morning, Luke's beloved goat Dudley died. Unlike the events surrounding Lily's death in January, Mike and I seemed to know very early on that Dudley would not recover. This time we didn't take photos of Luke laying face to face with a goat, thinking it was just a temporary set-back. This time, as Luke lay face-to-face with Dudley on my bedroom floor, Mike and I knew what we were facing. Our hearts were heavy and it was nothing short of heartbreaking when we told Luke, Dudley was unlikely to recover.

I am reminded yet again of the blessing our little family is learning about life and death experiences with animals rather than people, but it is still so, so sad. Unless one really knows Luke, it is hard to understand exactly how much he loves his goats.Two times in less than a year doesn't seem fair, and like Megan sobbed into my shoulder Saturday morning, "He's only 12! How much is he supposed to take?"

As the sign on my shelf reads, ... "We don't remember days, we remember moments" ...There are several moments from today I know I'll never forget.

Luke's cry to me early Saturday morning that told me something was wrong.

Mike stepping out of his truck after he'd received a phone call summoning him home, and me seeing a parents love for a child "written" all over his face.

Luke in the bath tub with Dudley, and Mike lovingly kneeling by the side assisting.

The eye contact Mike and I made frequently with each other throughout the morning that spoke volumes.

Paul and Vickie coming to visit, and Paul lovingly attempting to render aid and then solemnly reminding us of the fragility of life.

Hearing sobs come from Ellie and Joshua when we told them, Dudley was likely to die.

Megan quietly standing looking down at Dudley with tears running down her face.

All seven of us gathered in my bedroom with a dying goat. Six of us crying about the sad situation, and Drew, the lone dry-eyed person in the room, concerned only about the logistics.

Mike, Luke and me alone in the bedroom with Dudley as Mike lovingly told us, "He's gone now."

Mike, with tears streaming down his face kneeling over Dudley as he wrapped him in a green sheet, preparing him for burial.

Seeing absolute devastation on my 12 year old boy's face and wishing with all my mother heart I could take his pain away.

Joshua and Drew's little faces resting on their arms as they peered out the family room window as a funeral procession of sorts passed them by.

Mike kneeling down and tenderly and softly placing Dudley in his final resting spot.

Mike's silent glance at Luke for approval before we began quietly filling dirt in the hole.

Standing next to Mike who was eye-to-eye with Hank propped up on the fence and both of us knowing Hank knew his buddy was gone.

Believing as a little family that somehow, somewhere, there is an animal heaven, and Lily and Dudley are together.

My mother heart is reminded yet again how much these animals mean to my young boy, and I made sure to take the time to remind all of my children that grief and sadness come because there has been an abundance of love.

We are blessed with the ability to love. Even though it means it is difficult to say goodbye.

**I know some will be curious about what happened to Dudley. Friday evening at 7pm when Luke last saw the goats for the night, they were completely normal and fine. Saturday morning, Luke found Dudley lethargic in his shelter with Hank close-by acting protectively worried. Our first thought was some kind of hypothermia and we brought Dudley into a warm tub thinking it would help him. We then laid him nearby on our bedroom floor in hopes he would soon recover. It became somewhat clear that hypothermia was probably not the issue, but Dudley instead experienced some type of respiratory distress.**

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thankful Amidst the Realness

I've been reading daily gratitude lists from friends via social media, and my children and I (Mike?? Not so much.) have been faithfully adding to our Traditional November Pantry Door Thankful Papers. Yet, I feel like in spite of all the reminders of our blessings, this week especially has been easy to focus on the things I don't have.

I don't mean, things per se. I mean things like a more organized toy closet, a home for the package of toilet paper that sat in the hall for too many days and dirty clothes placed only in hampers, and nothing but tidy rooms throughout the house.

Enough already.
It's November!
The month of thankfulness and Thanksgiving--my favorite holiday.

Last year for my birthday, my sister-in-law bought this sign for me. I LOVE it. I smiled when I brought it back out on November 1st, and I smile every day when I look at it.

I do have a lot to be thankful for. We all do--those are the things that are easy to add to the Pantry Door Papers. I'm trying to be more grateful for those "other things" that are an invariable part of my life.

Here's an example of what I mean.

  • A tile floor covered with leaves, sand, footballs and jackets means my children enjoy being outside playing.
  • A tile floor with crumbs and food intermixed with the leaves and sand makes me realize the food we have in abundance. Some children would gladly eat those remnants from the floor.
  • Messy bedrooms and undone chores give me the opportunity to teach my children good principles.
  • An on-going challenging relationship with a family member means I have the opportunity for personal growth.
  • Dirty underwear on bedroom floors and discarded socks strewn around the house mean my children understand personal hygiene to some degree, and they are changing their socks and underwear daily.
  • Wet towels on bathroom or bedroom floors also mean they are grasping the hygiene thing.
  • Homework papers covering counter tops mean my children are putting effort into their education.
  • Making homemade lunches gives me the opportunity to provide my children with healthy lunches I know they will enjoy.
  • A husband that has been snoring earlier than usual means he has worked another hard day and is doing his best to provide for our family.
  • Drywall dust covering my bathroom and bedroom reminds me that a desire of mine is being met through the work of others.
  • Having the workers have to come back to fix a mistake will allow me even more time to be patient and accepting of people without "people skills."
  • Music strewn across my pianos and front room reminds me my children are advancing in their musical skills, and helping others advance too.
  • A few extra pounds on the scale tell me I have a husband who often asks me to meet him for lunch or go out to dinner with him.
  • A garage door that doesn't work properly reminds me that at least I have a covered place to park my vehicle on snowy/frosty nights.
  • "Finger lines" through the dust on my black tables, and finger-prints on the back door allow me to daydream of future days when my house will stay cleaner longer.
  • Not being able to see my mud-room floor tells me my children have plenty of jackets, coats and shoes to wear in the colder weather.
  • Being frustrated with my new cell phone makes me appreciate being able to upgrade when the old one wasn't working well.
  • The chaos of the morning routine helps me appreciate the closing of my front door at 8:23am even more than if mornings were peaceful and harmonious.
  • Fixing dinner for my family each night gives me the opportunity to teach them manners and etiquette about responses to food that doesn't quite agree with their palates. 
  • A bar stool slid up to the cupboard where I keep my "secret" chocolate stash gives me the opportunity to share fine chocolate with a 4 year old.

I always have much to be thankful for.
Even if I have to look for it sometimes.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Welcome Boost

Volunteering in my children's classrooms isn't one of my favorite things to do.The patience required to work with in a classroom full of grade-school children, often seems beyond the patience limit my personality has. I didn't do it at all during the years I was heavily involved in PTA, but last year and this one, I've given it a valiant effort.

On the mornings I go into Ellie's classroom to volunteer, there is always a journal writing prompt on the screen (note I didn't say chalkboard!) for the children to write about. I always wish I could sit down and write my thoughts from the prompt, but instead I help the struggling students improve their reading scores. (Which even though I said I don't always enjoy volunteering in the classroom, I have loved this assignment. It is very rewarding to see some of these children improve over the weeks. Others break my heart.)

The other day when I walked in, the journal prompt was, "I can't imagine living without..." My immediate thought was "being able to see." I interpreted the assignment as things, rather than people. 

I was pleasantly surprised when Ellie showed up at the table I was at a few minutes later and showed me her assignment...

Love mothering moments like this.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Sunday Drive

Mike woke up on Sunday morning and exclaimed, "It is such a beautiful day, we need to enjoy it." Looking ahead to three hours of church smack dab in the middle of the beautiful day didn't lessen his desire, and he declared, "After church, let's go on a drive to Antelope Island to enjoy the sunset."

Late afternoon found us on the driveway waiting for Megan and Luke to quit fighting long enough to get in the car. Joshua gave up his seat as a peace offering, (Of all our children, Joshua is the closest to a peacemaker any of them could possibly get.) and we went on our way.

Mike and I considered turning around more than once, as the excitement of our spontaneous little roadtrip began waning fast. There are few things we dislike more than all five of our children riding in the car together.
Regardless, the time spent on the island was quite magnificent. The sunset was glorious, the children somehow got along (once we were there), and the beauty of our surroundings seemed to settle upon all of us, and seep into the behaviors and attitudes in a positive way.

The drive home was much better than the ride there, with the exception of a "shall remain nameless" child wiping a booger on an innocent sibling.

All in all, kudos go to Mike for suggesting such an outing.

We live in a beautiful state.

(sad we forgot our "real" camera, but guess a cell phone suffices)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Their Job is to Play

Mike is a hard worker. He began "working" for a construction company at 12 years old, and working has been a passion of his ever since. His choice of activity is often physical labor. My work efforts are the antithesis of his. It isn't that I don't work, I just don't enjoy it. I do a job because it needs doing, and derive little satisfaction from the actual labor of it.

Somehow, despite the differences in mine and Mike's work ethics, teaching our children to learn to work has always been a priority to both of us. Fortunately a few of our children have turned out to be a little more like Mike, and enjoy working hard. Regardless of our children's ability to work hard, and even like it at times, they are still children, and they attempt to negotiate after-school chores, and weekend Cleaning Hour more than I think they should.

This week was a week like that. It seemed every chore chart sat untouched on the magnet board on the kitchen wall. No check marks noted a job completed, and it seemed more discarded underwear and dirty clothes than usual graced the bedroom floors. One morning this last week, as the children left the house for school, after the hugs, kisses and goodbyes were given, I very firmly announced, "Oh and Cleaning Hour will be done TODAY as soon as you get home." (I'm a nice farewell bidding mother like that.)

I'm not sure what day Cleaning Hour got done (or if it even happened) this week...

You see, the weather has been glorious lately, and considering we are approaching mid-November, there is no guarantee how long it will last.

As much as I say our children are hard workers, they also have an ability to PLAY hard like few children I know do. We never have to beg our children to go outside and get fresh air and exercise. We never have to ask our children to unplug from technology and use their imaginations. In fact, we have to do the opposite.

As the early fall sun sets, instead of allowing a child to turn on the back patio light, we suggest they come inside. Instead of always using their imaginations (forts are being built in my family room as I type this), we suggest they get some computer practice and do something on the computer, or I put an ipad in front of them for a reading practice game.

Perhaps the glorious fall weather, and the "play hard" personalities of my children are one of the reasons my house seems a little more like a tip than usual. (Haven't used that English word in a LONG time...) Last Friday afternoon, I watched Drew and his little cousin play in the back yard. Their imaginations and their choice of activities captivated my attention. A smile crept onto my face as I watched wood chips fly over their heads and I found myself having a major a-ha moment as I exclaimed aloud to myself, "Their job is to PLAY!"

Obviously, Cleaning Hour can't be skipped too many weeks in a row. Work, specifically housework is a necessary component of real life and family life. But I'm going to relax a little more, especially while the temperatures outside hover a little above average.

A child's main job is to PLAY.
So this last week, instead of opening the back door and calling children in to empty the trash, or set the table, I opened the back door more to watch them playing.
A child's main job is to PLAY!!
I need to not lose sight of that.
(Yes...that would be Luke playing football from a goat pen wearing his BMX riding clothes.)

(This teenage girl scene certainly entertained mowing the lawn, the other walking a goat?!)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Happy Day(s)

Luke's 12th birthday on Saturday marked the end of our fall birthday season.

As per tradition, Luke opened up his presents on mom and dad's bed. Obviously, he was pretty excited about them.

The day was spent attending a baptism, mowing the lawn (Who? Besides Mike makes their kid work on their birthday!!??), ordering new bike parts with birthday $$, going to a trampoline park with some friends, and ended with a Weanie Roast and Football Party in our back yard with even more friends.

As Mike and I sat by the fire Saturday evening as the party wound down, I silently patted myself on the back for the effort I put into making another child's birthday successful.

Luke is always very quick to say thank you for pretty much everything and anything. And the look on his face as he said, "Thanks Mom!" on Saturday night, makes all the effort of a birthday worth it.

Luke laid between Mike and me in bed Saturday night to watch a short video clip Mike wanted him to watch about Luke's upcoming priesthood ordination the next day.  It was a pretty tender moment, having a big 12 year old lay between us. I couldn't help looking back 12 years ago, and feeling nostalgic and sentimental about the days that have passed. Pretty soon Luke and Mike's eyes both got droopy, and I was the lone one left watching what ended up to be a not so short video clip.

Luke begged to be carried to bed, and as tired as Mike was, we put in a group effort and one of us held Luke's feet, the other his arms and carried him as far as his bedroom door. He was a far cry from the 7lbs 15oz he entered the world at 12 years ago, but carrying him to bed was a silly little birthday treat.

Happy 12th Birthday Luke!

Sunday was a special day for us too, Luke received the Aaronic Priesthood and was ordained to the office of a deacon. A definite milestone in his life. I wish I had taken a photo of all the people that shared in the special time in our home Sunday night. It was a small, yet special group. Luke's a blessed boy.
(I didn't even think to pull out my camera! Thankfully Mike's mom did.)


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