Sunday, January 30, 2011

May I relax yet?

Today has been a long day. I gave a talk in sacrament meeting this morning. I had been preparing for it for three weeks, and felt like I had a good grasp of it three days ago, but last night I started getting the jitters. I ran through my talk in my mind, and tried to time it, and ended up with it being ten minutes longer than I wanted it to be, but that may have been because I stopped to help Hannah with a knot in her cross stitch project in the middle. I worried that I wouldn't remember everything that I wanted to say. I worried that I would repeat myself, or lose my train of thought and not have time to get through everything I wanted to say. As I laid in bed last night waiting to fall asleep I ran through it in my head again. And again. This morning I was still feeling nervous. I guess one of the benefits of having 9am church is that I was able to get it over with quickly. Unfortunately I was the concluding speaker so I had to sit through a youth speaker, an adult speaker, and a rest hymn before I finally got to speak. Speaking itself wasn't so bad. I had a good amount of time, my note cards helped me stay on track and I said most of the things that I wanted to speak about. I bore my testimony and sat down. Sacrament meeting ended on time. (If you'd like to read it, or something very similar to it, a draft is posted here.)

After sacrament meeting came primary, where I was in charge of Sharing Time. In Primary, we follow an outline that pretty much tells us what to teach for four weeks every month. Unfortunately today was a fifth Sunday so I didn't have a lesson plan written out for me. Instead, since we've been learning about how the scriptures are the word of God this month, I asked a few children to share their favorite scripture stories. In Junior Primary, we heard about Daniel in the Lion's den, Lehi's dream, Noah, and Adam. I sort of walked the young children through the stories, asking leading questions, but the gist of the stories got out. In Senior Primary, I had asked my own children (Hannah, John and Joshua) to share their favorite scripture stories. Hannah told the story of Jacob and Esau, John told about Ammon, and Joshua acted out the story of Zachariah being told about John the Baptist's birth. (It was kind of fun watching him go back and forth between Zachariah and the angel as he acted out both parts!) Anyway, it went well.

After church we were able to come home and relax, but tonight I headed back to the church for our ward's Priesthood Preview. For some reason, the Primary is now responsible for organizing this meeting which is to introduce eleven year old boys to the responsibilities of the Priesthood. In the last few weeks, I had figured out a basic outline, assigned the YM president to assign young men to give the talks and ask the young men who do the music in priesthood to select appropriate songs and provide the music for the meeting. I asked the bishop to conduct and give a talk directed to the parents. I assigned one of my counselors to make the invitations, and my other counselor and my secretary made refreshments and brought them to my house this afternoon. All I had to do tonight was show up with the refreshments, set them up on a table, and clean up after. Easy, huh? Anyway, the meeting went well. All the boys were there that had been invited. The songs were sung, the talks were spoken, and the Spirit was present. What more could I have asked for?

So now it is all over and done. I can relax. I don't even have to teach another sharing time for a couple months.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Three Day Weekend

Happy belated Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

We had an exciting three day weekend. On Saturday, I made the kids good clean their assigned rooms. (Each child has a room or section of the house that they are responsible for cleaning: kitchen, dining room, living room, or hall/bathroom/entry) The kids were rewarded with tootsie rolls for tasks completed, and by around noon, the house looked pretty clean and I let them get out the big box of little Legos and they had a blast scattering them throughout the house for the rest of the day. (While we were busy with this, Steven was taking his GMAT test, and got a really good score on it, too! He came home and submitted his application to the MBA program he wants to attend.)

Sunday was busy with church meetings and relaxing. The kids spent a significant portion of the day playing with Legos.

On Monday, since the kids were out of school, I decided that the bedrooms needed to be cleaned. Hannah sequestered herself in her room, the boys worked in theirs, and I worked in my room, when I wasn't in the boys room telling them what to pick up. When I got frustrated with the boys, Steven took over directing their efforts. By lunch time, all the bedrooms were vacuum-able, and Steven and I had moved on to a new task. We started packing books into boxes so we could move the bookshelves and other furniture out of our room. Later that afternoon I took the kids out to a park and then a McDonald's play area so Steven could start painting our bedroom. We are getting so close to getting our house fixed up, and finally completing the tasks we set for ourselves months ago. (See post here.) The popcorn has been scraped off the ceilings, we're finishing up the painting - of walls and ceilings. The kitchen cabiniets are almost finished; one side needs some touch up white paint, and a couple coats of polyurethane and they'll be done. Considering our financial situation at the moment I'm guessing we'll have to forget about replacing the carpets for the time being. But it definitely looks more homey!

Today the kids are back in school. Steven is back in the bedroom painting. Life is good.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dealing with Trials

How do you cope when life takes an unexpected turn? What is your first reaction when you hear news that surprises you in an unpleasant way? How do you deal with the day to day stresses and trials in your life? When the waiter at the restaurant of life sets the partially filled water glass in front of you, is it half full or half empty? Okay, that last one is kind of weird. Anyway, you get the way I'm drifting.

When Steven came home from work a little early one Thursday almost four weeks ago and told me he had been laid off, my first reaction was shock - a brain freeze, and not the kind that comes from eating ice cream too fast. It was cushioned somewhat by the warmth I felt - like the hug of an angel, that I have come to associate with the influence of the Spirit. Why did I feel it just then? Was it just to comfort me through a difficult situation? Or was it to assure me that it was part of the Lord's plan for our family?

The shock has passed. I've accepted the fact that we are now among the thousands who are unemployed in a struggling economy. We aren't particularly concerned yet. We have food storage, our debts (other than the mortgage) are paid, and we have money in the bank. 

I've actually enjoyed the last few weeks. Steven finally found time to paint the living room. We had been planning a quick trip to Utah for a couple days of the week between Christmas and New Years, and we were able to extend that trip to an entire week. Now the kids are back in school, and we it was convenient to be able to ask Steven to take the kids to school yesterday over slippery, icy roads, especially when my van battery was totally dead from the door being left open overnight.

The weeks have had a few challenges too.  In the past I've tried to do the housework when Steven is away at work. Now I am trying to teach myself to work when he is home. I'm learning to share the computer once in a while, having been used to have it all to myself during most of the day.

While I was writing this, Steven called from the vet's office. One of our cats, MoMo, has been sick for the last few days, hiding more than usual, not eating much, and throwing up. Steven just called to tell me that he swallowed a string. He will have to have surgery to have it removed, and that will be expensive. How do I respond to this? MoMo is one of God's creatures and we love him. Some how the Lord who comforted me when Steven was laid off will find a way for us to pay for our cat's surgery, hopefully without depleting our savings too much.
Moroni, aka MoMo (last October)
 Again the scripture returns to mind - the one that has been floating in and out of my consciousness for the last few weeks, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:5) Somehow the Lord will provide a way for us to get through this. I have to accept that it might not be in the way I'd prefer it (Like Steven finds a wonderful job tomorrow) but somehow we'll get through it and be better off in the end.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Family Pictures

John playing hand bells. He's the short kid directly in front of the tree.

We were way overdue. Steven's mom and sister were begging us through November for one for Kathy's Christmas newsletter.  Our most recent one was a year and a half old - from John's baptism, and that was just an informal one, standing in front of our garden. I wanted a good one. It didn't happen in time for the newsletter. Between sickness and busy-ness and everything else life threw at us, it just wasn't possible. Then the holidays were upon us and life got even busier.

Hannah and viola after her orchestra concert.
We had so many projects we were trying to finish - like painting the ceilings and walls in the living room and stripping and painting the kitchen cabinets, and doing the Christmas shopping and attending the kids' Christmas concerts and trying to finish the 2011 Calendar that I make every year. Family pictures were not the highest priority. About a week before Christmas, Steven was laid off from his job and suddenly he had time to spend at home. In spite of being sick, he found time and energy to paint and work on some of the other projects around the house.

Hannah's homemade Christmas slippers
Christmas day was spent at home. We opened presents, ate cinnamon rolls, and had April and her family over for Christmas dinner.

The Monday after Christmas we climbed in the car and drove to Utah for our first week long family vacation in I don't know how long.

I loved our stay in Utah. It was great to see my parents and siblings I hadn't seen in over a year. A couple of the kids and I were sick the first couple days, but we felt better as the week went on. It was nice to relax and play games, and not have to worry about schedules and chores. (Sorry Mom, I'm realizing I should have helped more with the meals and cleaning!)  While there, I learned that my sister Amber, who is a photographer, was coming over to take pictures of my other sister Heidi, and I asked if she would be willing to take pictures of our family too while she was there. To my joy, she agreed! The pictures turned out wonderful, and I'm thrilled to get them printed and posted on my wall. And if anyone else wants pictures of our family for whatever reason, I'm posting  my favorites here so you can see them too. Thank you Amber!!!

By the way, the 2011 Calendar that I make every year did not come together very well this year. I tried. My camera view screen broke. I took pictures without seeing what I was taking them of and then cropped them. My computer got a virus that made it freeze up or work incredibly s-l-o-w. I worked with it. I worked with a lot of patience. I finished the pictures. I started updating the calendar pages in Excel and discovered a bug. I got Steven to fix the bug for me. I started to print the calendars and the pictures came out so muddy and blurry that I realized I couldn't print them on my printer. Steven didn't have a printer at work he could print them on either. I took them to Utah with me and tried to print them there. They came out a lot better on my parents' printer, but because I was sick, or for whatever reason, I printed out an entire calendar with the pictures upside down! By then I was done. I was so tired of the entire calendar thing. I had been doing them for twelve years, but this year just wasn't happening. So yesterday I converted it to PDF files and posted it on my website here. If you want a copy, you may print it out yourself and bind it. May you have better luck with it than I have had.