Monday, August 22, 2016

not open for commentary.

i have seriously been avoiding blogging.
a lot went down this past weekend and i just didn't want to share it.
it basically PROVES my insanity. and i don't want people to judge me.
its true. i am crazy. i should be locked up.
after this past weekend, i felt like i should shut down my blog and stop sharing my life with the world because all it does is condemn me.
but whenever i feel that way i can't help but see it as a warning sign.
if i am unwilling to be authentic, why? and what can be done about it?
if i want to live a life of secrecy, when usually i am an open book... am i ashamed of something?
what is the healthy course of action?

and i really can't find a way to justify anything.
the bottom line is... YOU WILL JUDGE ME. and... its okay.
you will be right. i am insane. psycho. idiotic. and your mind will be completely baffled.  you may even write me off as a friend or associate. and... i get it. i would, too. i would totally not be friends with me if i were you.
but... keep it to yourself. for now.
"if you can't say something nice- don't say it at all"... is the best advice i can give you.

right now i am totally aware that i am in over my head. that i have created my own destruction. i am completely responsible for any stress or ridiculousness. I AM MY OWN AGENT. and i am trying desperately to come to peace with myself and figure out a way to be happy and what it will take.

but also? right now i cannot explain myself. i mean, i could try... but you won't get it.

so... here it goes. i'm going to spit it out.

the long version:

after we got rid of Ginger, my mom exasperatedly said, "promise me you will never get a dog again." it felt a lot like a commandment. it felt a lot like... a complete failure. i had failed my family and the dog. it was my fault that she turned wild. i sucked at owning dogs. pets in general i guess. i just suck. and so i said to myself, 'never again.'

thursday i watched a lot of "pet"-themed kid movies/shows. it was on my brain.

on Friday night i wrangled a babysitter so that Jeff and i could go to build-a-bear and make our traditional 'theme animal' for our new baby boy's nursery. i was excited. Jeff... was not. i could tell, so i asked him what he WANTED to do. he said he wanted to see a movie. but then he looked up the movie times and it wasn't compatible to our sitter's arrival.... so we were just gunna do the build-a-bear as planned. we were going to go to chandler fashion mall and then get cheesecake factory dessert. but..... i told him the closer one was in gilbert. he said we may as well go there and so we did. and as we walked to the build-a-bear, we passed a pet store. i could tell Jeff was wanting to go inside. and in the outside window was... of course... german shepherd puppies.
we went inside. i had absolutely NO interest in any of the pets. Jeff would oooo and ahhhh over this one or that one and all i ever saw was A LOT OF WASTED TIME AND MONEY. i seriously had ZERO desire for a puppy. because... ahem... just like a newborn, amiright? i mean, i am 6 months preggo and um... already drowning in life. and then we saw another batch of german shepherds. they were bouncing off the walls. which for me was a giant red flag. I DON'T NEED THAT IN MY LIFE. one of them, however, was laying down and looked sickly. kinda gross, actually. Jeff pointed right to it, "That one looks like Holly." (that's his beloved dog that passed away a few years back. i know, i know... the NAME... hilarious.) i rolled my eyes and said, "yep. and it looks super sick and gross." i was ready to get to build-a-bear and on with our date. but that was when he grabbed a worker and said, "can we spend some alone time with that dog right there?" and i was like... "ummmmm.... what?!" but there we were. in a room. with a sickly german shepherd puppy. she laid there calm and sweet. she looked defeated. Jeff held her and kept telling me what a wonderful temperament she had. and i was like... "well, i mean, if we got a puppy... i would want this one because she is so... calm." then a worker came in and tried to sell us other puppies. she was really... weird. and i am almost 100% positive that she did not care one lick about any of those animals. she kept bringing in tons of puppies and they were bouncing off the walls while our beloved "reincarnated holly dog" was sitting peacefully. Jeff asked questions and i sat there thinking... "WHAT IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW? whyyyy are we even here? why didn't we just go to the build-a-bear? now we are running out of time!" and then she told us how we could put a dog on hold and think about it. Jeff told her to let us be alone for a bit. he wanted to pray about things. i was like... "well... i mean... this is the best puppy option... but... what about THIS or THAT or THIS or THAT... " and i went on and on. Jeff kept on answering each question with a hope in his voice that perhaps his dreams would be realized. and so i said we could put her on hold and ponder it that night. i felt very stuck, actually. because... if we didn't put her on hold- then someone else could get her. but if we didn't get her then... where would we find a CALM and PEACEFUL puppy? i had never seen such a thing.
when we left we talked about it nonstop. "it will ruin my life completely" i told Jeff over and over again. "what if it doesn't work out and i want to give up?" "what if she has cancer and dies right after we get her?" "how did she get so sick? i bet they don't take very good care of those dogs. she has probably never even been out of her cage... what if... we get her and then she gets healthy and then she starts bouncing off the walls and she is just as crazy as a normal puppy?!!!" i was filled with stress. but i really saw no way out. i knew it was up to me to make the final choice. Jeff would not force me to get the dog. but oh boy did he want it. he wanted it like the desert wants a rain.

and so i stressed over it. i stayed up until 1am watching videos about training puppies and trying to wrap my head around it. HOW ON EARTH COULD I POSSIBLY FIND TIME FOR A DOG? what would we even name her? we spent hours looking up names and definitions until we found one. and i could not even fall asleep. but finally i did. and Saturday i spent the whole day wishing i was not me. i was anxiety ridden over the fact that in just a few hours i could not undo what i had done. it felt like the eve of my death! just the terrifying thought that i would own a puppy... made me nauseous. and no one was going to feel the weight of that choice more than me.
Jeff spent the day fixing the fence to the backyard. and then... we left to go get our puppy.

nothing went smoothly. the kids behaved HORRIBLY when we went to the store to buy the supplies. then Jeff forgot the stroller and so to avoid complete chaos we sat in the car waiting for him to get her from the pet store. and by the time they got back to the car it was dinner time and everyone was dying of starvation. so we grabbed some crappy mcdonalds. Sally had to pee. everyone was crying. and in the front seat sat our new puppy- completely calm and peaceful.

that night was a lot like the first night i brought Charlie home from the hospital. NO SLEEP at all and complete stress that i was doing everything wrong. but little puppy... she remained calm. and i began to ask myself if she was at deaths door and we had made a horrible mistake to spend all that time and money on someone so sick. i slept on the hardwood floor next to her to keep her from crying. and i was SOOOO exhausted Sunday morning. thankfully, i had two sick kids to stay home with... so Jeff left me and the kids home alone with the dog.

and this morning? a little better. i gave her a bath. i made a vet appointment. and i took her with me to pick up the kids from school. she is a pretty grand dog... and Jeff is patient with me.

and so... here she is.
little Lindy. Lindy is short for Melinda, which is a GERMAN name that means Gentle. and there is no other way to describe our little Lindy.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Family History Friday Q#34

What are some of the personal values that are very important to you? What have you done (and what are you doing now) to teach these values to your children?

i dunno.... i mean, inevitably i am going to be a hypocrite at whatever i type here... but...

its really important to me that i teach my kids to work. i don't want them to be lazy like me when they grow up. i want them to have the ability to work hard. so i have them wake up at 5am to help with chores before school, that way they can play when they get home. implementing chores has been a huge struggle for me because i want to do it effectively and its hard to involve my children when i know i can do it better and faster, but i am hoping it pays off one magical day and that one day they will thank me. probably not, though!

i also really value the teachings and standards of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. i try to teach those things to my kids on a daily basis multiple times in various ways. family prayer and scripture study, singing songs and reciting things in the car, holding family night and attending church to name a few. sometimes it feels like it does nothing, especially because i am sure that my bad example of actually LIVING the gospel is much more overpowering than all the words i spew at them. i really suck at being a good example and i am much more a "letter of the law" person instead of "spirit of the law". thank goodness Jeff evens me out.... sometimes.

i also value music and health- but i have not embarked on teaching those to my kids at all. i am still drowning in the aforementioned. 

i am trying to figure out what i value concerning education. i want my kids to always learn and value education and enjoy the opportunities that life has to offer them. i want them to have the ability to be independent and provide for themselves and make it in the world. how to accomplish that? i do not know. i am just going to keep trying. 

i am working on valuing family as well. and relationships. and... life. i want them to value others opinions without being rude to them, having the ability to hear people out and listen. i want them to value history and those who have come before them. i want... a lot of things for my kids. and i guess this gives me a smack on the behind to get started on teaching them!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

another day.

i saw my friend post a very poignant, life-changing status on facebook the other day. it really helped me out:

Dear Moms of Facebook:
Yesterday, I took my kids grocery shopping and the trip quickly devolved into a chorus of screaming tantrums that I had the privilege of pushing through the store. I avoided making eye contact with my fellow shoppers and took endless deep breaths to keep from collapsing into an embarrassed heap on the floor and barely BARELY made it out alive. I swore to myself that I would never leave the house with my children again.
Today, I took those same children to the library where they played respectfully and quietly for a whole half hour. I sat reading and watching them, planning all the fun things we could do now that I had the Most Angelic Children in the World.
That's all to say, if you ever see me relishing in a moment of Parenting Bliss, it's only a small moment in this crazy emotional roller coaster of a job. Make sure you don't compare your hard moments to others' best moments. In the big scheme of things, we're all having our highs and lows and doing the best we can at loving our kids as much as we can (and some days just managing not to have a complete and total meltdown).
You rock, fellow moms.

isn't that awesome? i mean, i know i have good and bad days, but for some reason, reading her words and realizing that no one has all good days or all bad days made me not only feel NORMAL but also very compassionate for myself and others. why judge that mom with grumpy kids? its her off day. why be jealous of the mom with reverent church kids? its her on day. and why hate myself or my kids when my errands go haywire? its just a moment in time. 
so today was just a day. 
it had good moments and bad ones. it doesn't make me a failure or my kids hopeless wrecks. it doesn't make me mom of the year or my children angels. i just had an average day of life. and thank goodness for that!

the good parts? i did service for a friend, i got people out the door on time, i drove through Cooliage and found an awesome antique store, i made meals for my family, i mailed some much needed letters, had important text/phone chats, i greeted my husband with a kiss instead of scowl! and i made some progress on my kids' homework that we were behind on- i even read to them 30 minutes as opposed to my usual 15, AFTER giving them all baths and brushing teeth! Jeff helped me clip nails and got in some bow/arrow practice. Charlie pointed out super cute moments of Roger and at one point my kids all sat in the new library chair reading a book together. oh... and i SHOWERED. woot!
but guess what? there were some bad parts, too. like how my kids ate four snacks instead of two. no one liked my dinner. i whacked the baby i was babysitting in the head accidently with a door! my kids watched THREE movies today. i didn't get my inbox cleaned out. i didn't exercise. Sally got ANOTHER discipline note today for throwing wood chips. i felt super angry at what a dictator Gladys is and how she wont let anyone sing in the car. i was annoyed by Walter's whining. children fought A LOT. kids got to bed at 8:05 instead of the desired 7:45. i didn't set up my Visiting Teaching. i spent too much time socializing on facebook.
and those are just simple summaries of moments in my day.
and its all OKAY.
tomorrow will have more good and bad moments and its going to be ALRIGHT. i don't have to hate my life or be ungrateful and i also don't have to feel full of myself or look down on others. i can just... LIVE. isn't that an amazing breakthrough for me? i think so.

quick catch up.

i just gotta hurry and say something about my weekend before another week goes by!

friday my mom came out with my favorite pizza for dinner and let me go out on a date with Jeff to the temple. we had a good time and went to red lobster afterwards... where we held a lobster.... because Jeff just has a weird thing about water creatures.

saturday was super busy with random things... like Jeff going out to shoot his bow and arrow with his best friend, Lee. he came home in such a good mood and it made me want him to go out with Lee every week, even if it did take up the entire morning. i honestly don't understand their friendship, but i am so grateful that Lee and Jeff are friends.
i met up with an ol' college pal for lunch that day, too. we have known each other for 15 years now and she is expecting her first baby, a little girl, just a week apart from my due date! we ate some yummy food and talked forever. Dala is a lot more my polar opposite than anything, but she makes me laugh my guts out. like when she said, "it takes so little to fail as a mom and so little to succeed as a dad". plus, she has a lot of wisdom and so since she is the primary president in her ward, i got advice from her on how to better fulfill my calling as a first counselor. it was great.
i spent my afternoon helping the primary presidency put together reverence jars and watching the olympics. and then that night i stayed up until foreverz making choc chip cookies and praying that they would be edible for the entire primary (80 kids) the next day.

sunday was a pretty good day. i gleaned a lot from sacrament meeting and i didn't do too horribly (besides being HIGHLY EMOTIONAL and crying too much) on my teacher training for primary. Jeff and i spent time subbing for nursery, too, which was good times. one kid who said her name is Bug said after a huge fart, "farting just makes you feel better." and it was awesome.

monday was back to the grind. it was a pretty good day and i got a lot done, plus i got to chat with my bestie. then we ended it with a family night in which we drove to our new beloved "owl park" and we showed Jeff these adorable burrow ground owls that live there. oh, and that night i told Jeff about a spider in the living room that i never caught and he vacuumed the entire couch.... so that was awesome.

there are just a few little moments i don't want to forget lately, so i here they are:
*Sally got in trouble at school and came home with a note that says, "i made a poor choice today when i decided to not have safe playground behavior when i climbed to almost the very top of the fence because i want to go out and play in the desert field with another friend and got separated from classmates with a loss of my recess." it was awesome.
*Sally has made some really cute little friends that she hugs when she gets to school. one of them is named Ace, which is the coolest boy name EVER, and she said he runs away from her when she says hi. Jeff thinks this is proof that Ace is brilliant.
*Roger was just who i needed a hug from when i was feeling gloomy the other day. he just came up and snuggled me and kissed me for no reason. i loved it.
*when gladys was throwing a tantrum about having to clean up legos that she threw all around, Roger went and got her blanket for her to cheer her up. it was adorable.
*did i ever document how Gladys colored all over my wall? well just in case i didn't... just know that she did. and i was super mad about it. it was super hard to clean up. and so i kept asking her "where do we color?" and wanted her to answer "paper" but she still always said, "NOT on your wall!!" yes, Gladys. definitely not there.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Family History Friday Q #33

well, of course after i posted the last post i thought of a question i could have answered. 
"what do you think of the current world events and what are your predictions for the future?"
which would have invoked some exciting conversation about politics and moral code... but alas, i will move on to the next question:

What are some of your life philosophies or life views that you would share with others?

i don't really feel qualified to give advice and usually after i give it i regret it. i have heard plenty of opinion from my husband, family and friends and also complete strangers, and i often find myself trying to decide what it is that i actually feel and believe. sometimes i pride myself on my ability to hear others out and see things from their point of view (something i haven't always been able to do) and not argue with them or demean them for thinking that way... but other times it feels like a horrible fault because i lack my own identity and passion for a cause, while in constant fear of offending others. 

i am much to young to have life philosophies or views, really, and have lived a very sheltered life. i don't have a lot to offer anyone, really. 

i guess the only thing i can think of that has guided many of my choices and actions is the hatred of the word BORED. i hate HATE HATE hate that word. to me it coincides with the word lazy. because really? there are endless ways to use our time and endless ways to serve others around us. there are endless things to learn and read and study and do. so if someone is bored i feel it means there is a lack of desire or effort. its their choice to be bored. i understand that some things are boring. i understand that some circumstances are difficult and lead to boring situations, but in general i truly feel like no one should ever be bored. you could choose to relax and browse the web. you could choose to make a phone call or take a nap. you could choose to make a friend or reach out to someone. you could choose to bring order to your life. to be creative. you can choose. boredom sounds like you gave up that freedom to choose and you have no passion left in life. i just don't like it. 

that reminds me of another life philosophy that i often think of, but don't always apply like i wish to. it first came to me in my years of playing the string bass. i had a teacher who was very much a hippie, for lack of a better word, who always tried to teach me that "Less is More" and that phrase intrigued me. i thought about that over and over again in my life, and then when Jeff and I were newlyweds serving in the primary of our first ward together, there was a lady (i wish i could remember her name... i think it was Susan Hawes?) who taught the sunbeams. she was INCREDIBLE and such a simple, wonderful woman. i was so impressed that she could come to church with only a flower in her hand and teach, enthrall, and enlighten an entire group of young children for an hour. the same could be said of sister Anderson, who was the primary president. she literally used only a piece of chalk during her sharing time and everyone came away inspired. there were no handouts, there was no fluff. just simple truths taught in the most beautiful simple way. and i remember thinking that somewhere in Africa they could do the same lesson. they didn't need laminated pictures or fancy treats. all that was required was love for the children, and spiritual preparation. i just loved it. i look up to those people and think of them all the time.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

as of late.

admittedly i have been a bit quiet over here... just trying to process all that is flowing through me. thoughts. feelings. experiences. and it feels like a jumbled mess.

lately i have been having nightmares. nothing i can quite make sense of, only that i am feeling stressed in many aspects of my life. i feel unsettled and unhappy.

Sunday night, right after i pushed publish on my last blog entry, i fell down the stairs in my house and twisted my right ankle. or so i thought. i could still walk on it, but it really really hurt and i was worried about it. the next morning however, it was completely healed and my left ankle was in HORRIBLE shape. i don't understand why it didn't hurt initially, but it seriously was in horrific pain and i could barely walk at all.  it felt like i had torn something. i wanted to go in to a doctor or something but my monday was jam-packed with too many important things that needed to be done. and all of them involved walking, of course. i pushed myself through the day and just felt miserable and angry at the world. i shouldve just sat on the couch but i was feeling stubborn and wanted to stick to my plans. by that evening my ankle was very swollen and i HAD to lay down and i couldn't enjoy family night at all. it had been a very very bad day.
Tuesday my knee felt twisted and twerked in addition to my ankle issues, and so i just was bewildered at my strange injuries and pressed through the day. i barely made it, but i wasn't a very happy person.

Wednesday things were a bit brighter, but that afternoon when i made a trip out to Mesa, my stress level reached a new height and i realized that i had some major issues building in my life. i haven't really resolved them, but i am at least aware of them.

one major stressor for me is my children's school and homework. its occurred to me that i want it to be perfect and therefore when things aren't perfect i get very upset about it because i feel like i am failing myself, the school, and my children. in all honesty the homework load isn't really the issue, its that each of my children need one on one help with their homework because they cannot read and so i get really overwhelmed when i have three people to help at the same time. when Jeff helps it is stressful for me because i worry that he will do things differently than i want him to or think he should or how i have already done it with them in the past. i desperately want to be a part of each kid's learning process but i just can't do it all.

and i guess that is the main problem. I CAN'T DO IT ALL. i feel so much pressure to do so many things perfectly and i just cannot. let me just try to list some of these pressures:

i SHOULD have a clean, tidy, organized, orderly, sanitary home.
i SHOULD be an angel mother who my children constantly feel love flowing from and i SHOULD enjoy every moment with them because youth flees and i will miss all these moments one day.
i SHOULD be taking care of myself and have a healthy pregnancy. i SHOULD be brushing my teeth and showering and exercising and eating right and dressing nicely. nesting and RESTING.
i SHOULD be serving others and reaching out to my neighbors and ward friends.
i SHOULD be fixing up my home and doing projects.
i SHOULD be helping my children love school and show enthusiasm and wonder at each thing they tell me or do.
i SHOULD be dating my husband and keeping our marriage alive and happy.
i SHOULD be preparing healthy, affordable meals for my family
i SHOULD be magnifying my calling in the church and studying the scriptures and attending the temple.
i SHOULD be more grateful and write thank you notes and be more gracious
i SHOULD be using every opportunity in the many car rides with my children to teach them things like good songs or articles of faith or scriptures or tell them true stories.
i SHOULD be teaching my children how to work hard and contribute to our home and family.

the list goes on forever.
and i am failing at ALL OF THEM. i am a total witchy monster that hates life. i have many things to repent of and change completely. but i just... give up and i am a total grump.

Jeff has been super nice through all of this turmoil. he has been patient with me. called me multiple times a day, apologized when he didn't need to, bought me flowers for no reason, suggested and said many prayers with me in moments of turmoil... and tried to bond with me despite my 'get away from me' attitude. he even has tried to be helpful and productive, himself, to set an example and make things easier.

and the rainy weather has been therapeutic. and i am slowly making it through this week. i just need to keep moving forward. or something like that... you know, put my shoulder to the wheel and push along! today i had tiny moments when i loved my children and held them close. i want more of those moments and less of the "WHY IS EVERYONE AGAINST ME?" crap.

here's hoping my weekend is a good one. we can hope!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Family History Friday #32

How did these events change your life? (in reference to previous question concerning world events)

i feel like i already answered this in my last post, so maybe i should just come up with another question....

but i am drawing a blank. 

so instead i am going to tell you about the past few days. cuz i am boring.

the past few days have been exhausting. physically. emotionally. just really taxing. i thought that going on a date with Jeff on Friday night would solve all my problems, but unfortunately, even though it was a good date, i just didn't really feel like we connected and i just talked about myself the whole time. and then i was so stressed about getting home for the sitter that i wasn't very present. by saturday i was completely depleted. it felt like my heart had literally given up and i had nothing left to give the world. i just stopped caring. i tried to understand my feelings but all that emerged was rage. the kids fought like cats and dogs that day, too. and then the water went down again. this sent Jeff over the edge and it became a really crappy day. that night my sister, who is moving from Texas to Prescott, came to crash at our house.

so today came and Jeff left with my sister and her clan to move all her stuff. i forced myself to take the kids to church and honestly went just to exist. i planned on getting nothing out of church and had a pretty crummy attitude. but the kids actually didn't do too badly and i was somehow miraculously able to get something out of church. it felt like i came home to complete chaos but then i somehow pulled through and got kids in bed. now i sit and wait for Jeff to return and anticipate another very busy week.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

put your shoulder to the wheel

hi. i'm back from my depression and ready to forge forward.

since our move to Casa Grande i have given our home and family a motto to help us forge forward.
it comes from an LDS hymn:

the world has need of willing men who wear the workers seal
come help the good work move along put your shoulder to the wheel
put your shoulder to the wheel, push along
do your duty with a heart full of song
we all have work, 
let no one shirk, 
put your shoulder to the wheel!

and let me tell you, i have had to put my shoulder to the wheel the past few days and i am EXHAUSTED. but i gotta at least try to document some things from the past few days.

1. the rain! the rain. i love it. its so needed and so appreciated here. in Casa Grande the monsoons seem more powerful and destructive. Jeff and I cannot sit on the porch and watch- we have to take cover!

2. Roger has just been bursting with personality lately. his quiet, laid-back nature is almost non existent anymore. he is just... CRAZY. the cute things he started this week are holding up his finger to his lips and whispering a mischevious little "SHHHHH", and he actually went down a slide by himself- forward facing and everything!

3. Jeff has been working overtime it seems. lately i have been very aware of how he takes care of us and what a burden he carries. i honestly could not do what he does. i would shrink from it. but he just keeps forging onward. he is loving his bow and arrow hobby and his new trombone that he bought for playing with the community symphony. its nice to see him doing wholesome things to unwind.

4. sometimes i listen to the radio and become amazed at all that is going on in the world and how unaware i am- how i am worlds apart from so many people and i just go about my silly little life trying to survive. in some ways i wish i was more involved and connected to the issues of the world and that i made some sort of difference, but when it comes down to it, i honestly feel like all i can muster is just to do my best as a full-time mom.

5. i gave the boys back to school haircuts and they acted like it was a death sentence. oh well. they turned out pretty handsome.

6. i had an OB appointment the other day and got to hear baby's heartbeat. i also asked the doctor about my strange 'numbness' issue and he doesn't seem to have any answers. he wants me to go to a neurologist if it worsens, but most likely after i have the baby. part of me is worried that its actually a big deal and very serious. what if it never goes away? will my arms ever be normal again? but the other half of me wants to believe that its just me being dramatic and its really no big deal. only time will tell, i guess.

7. i had a really bad day the other day. it was the day before school started and i thought that by some miracle i had scheduled all five of my kids to see the dentist that day. i told Jeff, "wow. God must really be aware of me and how stressed i am that He would foresee my need to schedule this six months ago! what a blessing this is! what a miracle!" i thought of it as a sign that i must be on the right path in life. i thought it was so amazing that on the same day i had also randomly scheduled my OB appointment and they fit perfectly one after the other. plus, my mother (who usually babysits for me when i am in Mesa) had not started her semester yet, so she was going to help watch kids that day. i just felt overwhelmed with gratitude and awe that God would love me so much to give me such a gift. AND THEN I WAS WRONG. turns out i didn't read the email correctly. there were no appointments that day. i drove all over kingdom come and got lost and everything only to find out that it was not real. and then i felt like perhaps i was doing everything wrong in my life. i felt alone. i felt really stupid. and i cried a lot. thankfully the weather was cooler that day and i took the kids to the park so i could calm myself down. and thankfully my mom bought the kids lunch so i didn't have to worry about it. but all the driving around with a screaming Gladys and a crying Walter really just... was not awesome.

8.i took the kids to the library and they were downright HORRIBLE. i was mortified. i don't even know what was up with them, but it was bad. i had to go pick up a new book for my book club, but i also grabbed some 'first day of school' fun reads for my kids. my friend and i (bookclub) are currently on a 'parenting help book' kick because people keep recommending books to us, so we read them together and analyze them. the book i am on right now is called the "well-brained child" and its all about helping your child process things with their brains to lesson issues. its wayyy over my head and i can't say i agree with everything, but i guess since its science its interesting. and thank my lucky stars she has illustrations in the book- haha!

9. Evelynn lost her first tooth. it was very dramatic leading up to it. finally she announced that the next morning she would be allowing her father to pull it out. i really didn't believe her, but she totally kept her word and just let him yank it out! she didn't cry or anything. she wrote a note to the fairy and got a little prize the next day, which she was pleased with. *sniff* she is growing up!

10. THE KIDS STARTED SCHOOL. first came meet the teacher night and i almost cried the entire time because of all the hope that swelled up into my icy heart. i found it neat that Charlie's teacher loves the peanuts and had decorated the classroom in Charlie Brown and Snoopy. Jeff wanted to come so i found a sitter last minute and it was great having him there for it all.
building up the the first day of school, we did trial runs of getting out the door on time. it was a bit stressful, but i am glad we practiced.
then came the moment of truth. parents are invited to be there with their kindergarteners during the first 30 min, so Jeff babysat while i took everyone to school. Sally and Evelynn immediately made a friend named Jessica and I had to talk to Charlie about not being 'selfish' because he was cutting everyone in line for the monkey bars. Sally caught a beetle and wanted to take it to class. then the bell rang and because there was a HUGE SEA OF PARENTS i decided i should just say goodbye to my kids instead of staying. i bent down to hug charles and the tears started swelling up as i said, "im going to miss you!" and he comforted me with "i will be here all day mom, then come home and play and do homework". i hugged the others goodbye and walked quickly to my van which was now surrounded by five hundred cars and i didn't know if i would ever escape!
when i got home it felt so quiet. i wanted to get stuff done, but i couldn't stop thinking about my kids and suddenly the only thing that seemed important was to play with my babies. so i sat around and played with them. well, okay, i got a few things done, but... i was lazier than usual. then i fell asleep on the couch and when i woke up i realized i was late to pick up! i had planned on going early to get in line but now i was going to be caught in the horrible traffic jam. i grabbed a snack and left.
the wait in line was horrific. i hope it gets better with time. it was a mess. but when i saw my sweet boy running up to me, again my eyes filled with tears and my body swelled with joy. unfortunately, as soon as all three kids got in the car, right before i could ask how the day went, Gladys AND Roger started to scream incessantly and we had to endure the long car ride home with their terrible sounds.
when we got back home, though, i could tell the kids were in good spirits and had enjoyed school. Charlie's teacher took time to write me a note (i had concerns and had emailed her) and informed me that he had done well.
the kids have no homework this week but i did some flashcards with them and journals and reading just to get in the habit. and i am SOOOOOOOooooooo pooped.

11. we finally got our new washer and dryer. its nice to be on top of laundry again! but guess what? NOW OUR DISHWASHER IS BROKEN. it still washes things, but the top shelf broke off the track and now its extremely annoying to load or unload anything!!! i just can't win. but Jeff says, "at least we have the means to pay for these things..." and all i can think is, "BUT I WANT TO BUY OTHER THINGS!!!" because i am a brat.

12. the kids have been fighting non-stop. but sometimes they do great things like build forts or enjoy toys or play make believe. i especially enjoyed watching Gladys play "mommy" today. she even had her baby fake cry and got out her cell phone to talk to people. it was totes adorbs.

13. we had family night amid the chaos and it wasn't anything special. just an article from the friend and some ice cream bars. our activity was watching the making of 'castle in the cloud' and we discovered how many famous voices are in that film!

14. Jeff is almost done with another class and only has 13 more to go before he has his masters in business! then its on to his NP degree. today at work his boss said she adores him and wants him to take over when she retires. its nice that he is loved so much where he is. lately he has been enjoying some movies in the theater and either goes by himself or meets up with his twin brother. here are some random pictures from his phone that i stole:

15. i exercised today. i know. big shocker. but i watched BYU tv while i walked the treadmill, and i watched American Ride. it was all about Ulysses S Grant. it made me want to know more about my country. its history. i feel like the main issue in this day and age is the lack of education. i am the problem. but also i am unsure of how much correct history is being taught. i feel completely lost when it comes to this upcoming election and i fear for my children growing up in this world today.

.... and with that, i am going to welcome August. its going to be exciting for sure.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

from Rainbows to Ramens

Dear Holly,

i'm going to write this letter to you, because my blog audience just doesn't matter. they will think what they are going to think, but you GET ME. you know whats up. you need to remember this past weekend, so i am writing this for YOU.

yesterday, Saturday, you had big dreams. you wanted to start a new tradition to get kids off with a bang for a new school year. you planned out some 'dad dates' for the eldest three and thought you would have the ability to get everything done you wanted to get done that day, while he filled the kids' love tanks. and secretly, you really wanted your own date. you wanted to leave the kiddos in the care of another at the end of the day and ESCAPE LIFE. you wanted to do something fun. something NOT AT HOME. you wanted to break free. live it up.
and... suffice me to say that it didn't go like you wanted it to. you tried not to be devastated about it. but it was still disappointing. and you kept thinking about how mad you were that your Saturday sucked so hard. and really it wasn't that bad, it just wasn't what you wanted... so that made you feel like you were just ungrateful and lazy. like it was your fault that it had sucked so much.
then you fell asleep wayyyyy earlier than you should have. and you didn't get anything done that you had to get done before the next day.

you know, the Sabbath day.

you set all these goals for yourself to keep the Sabbath day holy, and ever since your move you just haven't made the cut. but this Sunday? oh man. it was off the charts bad! you felt guilty about it. it made you feel like your priorities must be all off. and you had no choice but to either give up completely or forge forward as a failure, so you chose the latter. and who knows if it served you well or not? i guess you would have felt MORE guilty if you gave up, so... good job.

church was not awesome. and you are super struggling in your calling right now. and when a dear friend asked you how you were in the hall, you literally had to hold back the floodgates because you almost completely lost it. you could feel the tears forming and your voice clamping up. thankfully... you made your escape to the next awkward moment in your life.

you feel lost. you feel down. you feel... frightened. you just don't know if you can do it. and you don't know if you should. maybe you are making all the wrong choices! maybe this is all a waste. you can't help but focus on the negative and the what if's. you can't help but think about people who probably don't like you and how you can't make them like you because you are just who you are. its way too late for first impressions. its way too late to please people. you are in survival mode.

oh yeah, and the rolls. THE ROLLS! you tried to make rolls today and you failed at those, too. they had potential, but your timing was off and so you didn't have time for the second rise, which made for some dough-y rolls. now you have to make another batch sometime this week. IN YOUR SPARE TIME.

your son lost his tooth today. and all you could think about was if you were ruining his life. you thought to yourself, "i don't brush his teeth enough. he is going to have the worst adult teeth! he will have cavities for sure at his appointment this week. he doesn't believe in the tooth fairy because i have confused him and ruined his childhood. i should be giving him pennies and quarters for his prize but the kid expects treasure maps and toys under his pillow because i have failed him!"

the kids got back-to-school blessings. Sally appreciated hers and Charles seemed to really comprehend his.... not sure about Evelynn.

Gladys had an accident today. it makes you feel like a total failure as a parent! will she ever make it in life? how many more accidents are in your future? what are you doing WRONG?

and then there is the dinner you made your kids. ha! its hilarious.
you actually thought you could pull a stephanie nielson and have a feast for them, but instead you ended up feeding your kids RAMENS. and Charles was stoked about it! he has no idea what he is missing. Roger ate a fair amount, too.

then... when the kids finally went to bed, you got your own back to school blessing. not sure why, except that blessings are never a bad thing. here is what you remember:

Lord is aware of my questions and worries
Lord will guide me on how to comfort, assist and praise kids as necessary
Lord loves all His children and wants them to succeed
best education comes from Jesus Christ as the cornerstone
center my motherhood on Jesus Christ
Lord grants me peace

then, you tried hard to find a song to express how you feel inside and get out your raw emotion after such a tumultuous weekend. but nothing soothed you. you are just going to have to forge forward. and hope that you don't have a breakdown.

goodluck ol' girl.

~love, Holly

Friday, July 29, 2016

monsoon memoirs

right now we are enjoying a really crayzee monsoon. and there is no better time to take a moment and document this past week, you know, in list form, like i do. 

first of all, Sunday i taught primary sharing time for the first time! it was pretty exciting. and by exciting i mean, i was like, "um... hope you guys aren't sorry you called me to do this!" i am super eager to learn the kids names so i can connect with them more. 

Monday morning my dryer died. this was no bueno. i begged Jeff to just fix the belt. he said that because we have had it since our first year of marriage that we should just get a new set. i was bugged. but i let him have his way and now i am WAITING AND WAITING for a dryer.
FHE happened. it was nothing fancy. short lesson. brownies. a small game of animal dominos which i didn't love and then a long and painful game of memory with five hundred matches! but we survived.

Tuesday there was no denying that i had some sort of horrible cold. but i was determined to get things done regardless. i made a list of all i had to do and decided to run ALL MY ERRANDS in one day. because i am just totally off my rocker. one of those errands was redeeming my purchased car detail, which required a four hour wait. i packed a lunch for the kids and tried to hold them down at the place for as long as possible, but Roger isn't one to watch TV for very long. so then i attempted a trip to chandler fashion mall, which is about a mile or so away and we went on foot with two strollers all the way there. it was horrendous. the indoor play place was closed for cleaning when we got there, and then when we dove into the splashpad Gladys announced she had to peeeeeeee. i was soooo done and we walked to the wrong mall entrance and had no choice but to walk back. we prayed. we lived. it sucked. but we lived.
that same day i chose to go to walmart for a few things and a lady named Michelle stopped us in the parking lot and told me that she needed cleaning supplies so she could clean the apartment complex to pay for her rent. i believed her story, took her along to shop and it was an exciting addition to our walmart trip. she thanked us and told us that Jesus really was looking out for her. 
the calm before the storm at the detail shop
Wednesday the word was out (because of facebook) that i was psycho and so when i stopped by my pal Stephanie's house to drop off her book, she gave me no choice and started taking my kids out of my car so i could run errands childless. i was shocked by her service, especially because she is a tired mom to a newborn baby and 5 other littles, but i was ever grateful to run errands with just Roger in tow. her act of love really touched me and it lifted my heart.

Thursday i wanted to die. i wasn't feeling so grand, but i pushed through the morning because i had no choice, plus my sister amy was coming over for a tour of my new home. she could only stay briefly (it seriously felt like five minutes!) but she was kind and encouraging about our new place and even though we didn't have tons of time to talk or bond, and not all our kids were having a very magical cousin play date, it was a fine little visit and i hugged them all goodbye wondering when we would see each other next. 
then i got a text from Jeff informing me that our dryer would not be delivered that day and it wasn't coming until monday. he had no more underwear OR work clothes to wear at this point and so i HAD to figure something out and get the clothes clean. i texted my pal Garnet and asked if one of her teens could come sit so i could go to the laundromat, but then ten minutes later she arrives at my house with chocolate chip cookies and took all my laundry to her house to do it for me! then when she saw how bad i felt for her service in our behalf, she told me i should just bring all the kids over and help her fold it all and she would teach me to bake bread! i was like, "um... wont that just make your life WORSE? my kids will ruin your house!" but she was determined. she made me take an oath. so i finished lunch with the kids and we went to her house to do laundry, bake bread and chat. i was so humbled by her kindness and service that i have NO WORDS. i don't even think she knows what her gesture meant to me. it really was such a blessing.
that night Jeff had symphony practice and came home obsessed with dreams of his newfound love: the trombone. i spent fifteen minutes trying to talk him out of buying a professional one. thankfully it made him want to do a bit more research. 
that night we both gave into our addiction for "band of brothers" and watched it until 2am. because we are STUPID. oh, and my baby boy was super active that night, i never felt him kick so much! it was great. Jeff got to feel it and it was magical.
Jeff bought these to beautify our home.... and probably because he loves me, too.
this is his new silencer. who knows how much it cost us, but he is happy.
well... Friday became my "Christmas in July" playdate party. because i am just... weird. long story short, when my sister gave me a christmas package in June that she had never mailed, i got the idea in my head to have a christmas in july shindig with my kids. but then summer got away with me and before i knew it our beloved playdate friends, the drapers, were back in school and i wanted to have one last hurrah before we started school, too. PLUS our pal Thiphanie is moving and so i offered to take her kids while she packed. so it turned into a really... obnoxious playdate! but i guess it wasn't too bad... because i do everything ghetto. seriously.
the agenda went like this: first a rousing game of pin the star on the xmas tree, then 'find the elf' where you sing christmas songs louder the closer they get, and finally a chocolate game where you roll dice and when someone gets a 1, they have to hurry and put on gloves, a hat and scarf before trying to eat the chocolate with a knife and fork BEFORE someone else rolls a 1. it was exciting. next they picked a christmas movie to watch while eating christmas goodies. then i painted candy cane nails on the girls and the boys wrapped party gifts for the guests: sparkle snow playdough. after that the kids had some time to play upstairs (which was what they really wanted to do anyways) and after they cleaned up we read some library christmas books while waiting for pick up. it wasn't too shabby.
when everyone left we opened up my sister's xmas package and enjoyed the goods.

emma was pooped!

Jaysea stole walter's heart and he said, "i want to dance with a princess" when he saw her. so cute.

loot from Auntie Colleen. livin' the dream!

before the kids went to bed tonight, we sat on the porch with the kids and just enjoyed our home and being together. i looked over and saw THIS:

and my heart skipped a beat. i just felt so overwhelmingly blessed and content in that very moment. i wanted to freeze time and keep it that way forever. plenty of stressors swimming around us. plenty unknowns. myriads of imperfections, but... just... so much abundance and really,  its just the people that enrich my life and help me grow. i am the luckiest. the very luckiest.
i guess that feeling is why i took time to tuck my kids in bed tonight and sing them lullabies. life is just going so fast. i can't even keep up with it. but i feel so blessed and... happy.

family history friday Q#31

What were some of the major community, national, and world events you lived through?

i gotta say, i don't like this question. it makes me uncomfortable. i feel like it exposes my inadequacies in the knowledge of the world events around me. 

for one, you need to know that i lived a very sheltered life for the most part. i grew up in the same home for the first 21 years of my life. i was very self-absorbed. i knew nothing about anything else. i honestly didn't. i was naive. things were happening all around me all the time and i had no clue about it unless it directly affected me. and... it rarely did. i would occasionally hear about elections or olympics or war or rainforests or fires or criminal activity in the community... but i just wasn't really... 'into it'. my mom would constantly remind me to be afraid of being raped, and i rarely did anything remotely dangerous because i just lived in my little bubble on Dresden street. 

i suppose that one would consider September 11th a significant national event in my lifetime, but i gotta say, that again, it wasn't hugely significant to me. i had never ever heard of the twin towers before that day. i had never ever heard of terrorists. i had never ever heard of the pentagon. i honestly didn't understand what everyone was so mortified about, besides a plane crashing into a building and killing a lot of people. it didn't seem like the start of a war, it just felt like a tragedy that was very far away from me and my home. 

ironically, it was spirit week at my high school that week, and the following day was 'army day', so when i went to school and saw lots of people dressed in army attire, i was like, "um... what? are we seriously all going to join the army now?" when i realized it was just for spirit week- i laughed it off, feeling stupid for even thinking that. of course i always wondered if i would see a plane crash into a building after that day, especially when i worked in the Chase building as a law firm file clerk in downtown Phoenix. but again, sadly, it wasn't very life changing for me when 911 happened... i just noticed that it mattered a lot to a lot of other people around me... and i didn't get it.

nowadays, thanks to social media and the internetz.... i am a little (and i do mean LITTLE) bit more up-to-speed on some world-wide issues and topics. my husband has lots of opinions and such to say about this person or that person and all the many problems worldwide, but i mostly just listen and try to hear out both sides and try to decipher what i agree with and what action to take. sadly, most of the time, while i do feel more informed and open-minded than i did previously, i feel like there is little i can do besides raise my kids the best i can and try to live a good, respectful life and strengthen my own family, marriage, and community. i think service helps me to feel useful, too. 

in general i feel like there are so many devastating issues and tragedies worldwide that it seems silly to only spotlight a few, or have a flag half-mast for a couple days depending on how 'important' the person was to the public. what about all the murdered or lonely or bullied or ill or poverty-stricken or raped or abused people that no one ever talks about? there are countless people suffering world-wide and it bothers me to only spotlight whoever the news depicts as worthy or popular. the reality is that each community, nation, continent- struggles in various ways. i think we should be more aware of that. its hard to know where to start when it comes to standing up for the 'underdog', because there are SO MANY problems and so much hurt in this world. who am i to judge? 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

once upon a time... we baked a snake

i don't know how to recount the past events of my life. i just don't. there is the brutally honest version which is not acceptable here (too many people read this and WILL read this in the future), and then there is the pollyanna version where i tell no atrocities at all and make everything look like sunshine and roses.... which would truly be a disservice to the reality. but if i try to find a happy medium, then i am guessing it will offend both those who want only the sunshine and those who only want the gore. but i am going to try to be as 'real' as possible, i guess.... i mean, a very watered down version.

you see, last week was my family reunion. the richardson reunion- where my mother and all my sisters and their families get together for a really long week of intense emotions and expectations and try to get along. it stresses me out more than i wish it did. i really truly wish that i could understand why this reunion gives me so much anxiety and stress. its too multi-layered to figure it all out, discuss, dissect, or correct it- so i just try and cope with it as best as i can. every two years i know its coming and every two years i try to put on my big-girl pants and just... try to survive.

i know, i know, its my own bad attitude that ruins the whole thing. everyone does everything in their power to make it a blissful week of grandeur and memories. i have plenty of 'helpful hands' to assist with my youngins and people really do try to get over the fact that they can't stand (or understand) my husband, but... it just ends up feeling like a week where i am constantly standing on the edge waiting for someone to push me off.  probably MOST of my issues are all in my head. but i really do just feel judged the whole week long and its just... too much for me. i can do my family in small doses, but all together- its just... a lot to chew. for some weird reason. it makes no sense, but that's how it feels.

why go? i guess the same reason i go to church for three hours each week, or stay married to someone who is my polar opposite. it comes down to 'doing what i feel is right' i guess. there is a tiny piece of me that thinks family is important and so i better just learn to love my family and learn from them and get along with them for seven days. i feel like this reunion is my mothers LIFE. she literally LIVES for this and i would ruin her entire life if i just 'didn't want to go' and ditched out. i've already broken her heart and shattered her dreams in countless other ways, so why destroy her fantasies in this way? how bad could a week of family be? she is a widow who really could use her grandkids and daughters around her... and so i may as well make the sacrifice. i don't go for myself. i go for her. i go in hopes that my children will grow up close to their cousins and that i might have meaningful conversation with people at some point in the trip. i might learn something or grow as a person. that's what trials are for, right? to help you mature. so... i went.

the trip up was less-than ideal. my sister made the difficult decision to put her family dog to rest the morning of our departure and it got things off to a depressing and late start, which, kinda sucked for my kids who were being cared for by a very 'stick to the plan' mother, who just can't seem to BEND when it comes to curve balls. (this is a quality about myself that i don't care for, but it is what it is.)
when we arrived, i tried to breathe and just expect nothing. but then that night i had to sing my kids to sleep (aka sing every song i know- which lasted a half hour) only to find myself stuck under Gladys in a VERY hot, suffocating room and fall asleep in my jeans and bra. i was dying of thirst and really tired and grumpy- but i couldn't move because i wanted my kids to SLEEP. and then at 3am Sally woke up with a night terror and started a chain reaction from all the kids crying their eyes out (and SCREAMING) and it... just wasn't pretty.

over the next few days people started to arrive one by one. first the mckays. they are all too often my 'ideal'- and i try desperately to just be inspired by them instead of downright jealous and angry that i can't compare.
then my husband (trust me, its better that he spends as little time with my family as possible... its a disaster when he opens his mouth around them)... which i had missed terribly and thought i was going to lose my ever-lovin-mind without.
next came Colleen, her girls, and Emily- who instantly added babysitting abilities that i never dreamed possible.
and finally Jen and her clan, which i was very stressed over, because they only have one kid and are calm and peaceful people who would most likely be horrified by me and my children. i wanted to hide under a rock... or at least run away.

on Sunday i chose to take my kids to church. i really wanted to get some sort of re-boot from the messages and feel a spirit that would carry me through the difficult week. but... it wasn't that way at all. Sally peed her pants in primary. Gladys threw a massive tantrum. i sat in my car for 2 hours of church and cried. i wanted to drive home right then and there.

also? no one had phone or internet service at the reunion. this was kind of good, but... difficult. it made communication pretty darn hard, and a lot of people went to town to get service, which was straining at times. but i survived. i returned to 150 emails and lots of texts and missed calls, but... the world didn't end.

we had music night. Jeff really got into it and sang his love song that he wrote me. we sang a duet and the kids sang a primary song with us, too. i enjoyed listening to Angus sing the devil down on the guitar, and it was grand to sing 'you are my sunshine' with two of my sisters.

we had a giant family night where my mom introduced the theme of the reunion and gave us t-shirts. we planted a tree and Charlie threw a tantrum about getting muddy. it was good times. i should mention at this time that i brought and was reading a book a friend lent me entitled "child whisperer" and regardless of the fact that i can't agree 100% with its claims, it really helped me make it through the hardships within my own little family that week.

we attempted a family movie night, which got moved a few times because of rain, sound issues, etc. but the kids enjoyed it along with the spoils that their Grammy had provided.

there was a 'family outing' day in which the most of us went to a fossil quarry site and then splashed in a creek. my kids literally thought this was the most magical place on earth (the fossil place) and could have spent 24 hours there if we let them. i was shocked with how enjoyable it was for them, but glad they liked it. Evelynn found a geode which was cool. Gladys had an exciting potty accident at the creek that made me want to tear my hair out, but we lived.

we had picture day, too. which is where i lost it. all of my emotions came to a head in that moment and i cried and cried and cried. i told Jeff we needed to give everyone a break from us and just take a family drive, and so after the pictures we loaded up kids and left. but we didn't get very far. i felt too guilty for leaving and we turned around to try and finish it out.

we had a game night. it was my favorite night. we had random teams and everyone participated. i recited a poem from fourth grade and won my team some points, and Jeff won at "chubby bunny" and crammed 21 marshmellows in his mouth to make his team the champions of all. i was also impressed when he recited the preamble to the US constitution, but not as impressed as the fact that he didn't get angry at the kids on his team for being crazy and just finished the whole thing like a champ.

during the week my mother gave out fake money to people for doing good things and then we used it at an auction filled with family heirlooms and some silly kid-toys. i was pretty happy with my loot and glad that everyone was there to get stuff.

also Jeff and I went on a date at one point. he took me to thrift stores to look for decorations for our home and then we found some more stuff at a few antique shops. it was nice to get away and do something fun together. i wish it would've been longer... but life is life!

Jeff brought his gun with him on the trip and then later bought a bow and arrows. one day he left to do his own thing and on his way he saw a body lying in the road! he stopped and got out and realized it was a lady who had been flung off of her four-wheeler and was unconscious. he called 911 and kept her stable until help arrived. he got blood on his pants and it was just crazy! he said her ankle bone was sticking out and that she could not remember anything from hitting her head so hard. i could have never done what he did. i would have passed out!

other things?

well... the rain. THE RAIN. i loved every single drop of it. christopher creek/payson was very lovely.

i went on a couple BIKE RIDES! you guys, i am so fat and out of shape but i wanted to go and i did it, dangit! my butt hurt like somethin' else, but... i lived!

i played a lot of ping pong. it was grand. i love ping pong. it reminds me of my college days.

i enjoyed a musical put on by my nieces (we had tickets for admission and everything!). i seriously think that was my all time favorite part of the reunion. i just think i have some fabulous nieces and nephews.

my kids caught A TON OF WILDLIFE! horny toad, beetles, a baby snake! even a palo verde beetle. i was astounded at all they found in the forest!

my kids played with cousins and enjoyed the outdoors a lot. it was a whole week of no-technology, which was great. they got plenty of attention from family the whole week long.

i played lots of card games and board games... which i really really love. i love games. i stayed up wayyy to late, but i couldn't resist the chance to play without kids around and socialize with people. i invented my own game to play while playing games called "story topper/hashtag" and it provided a lot of laughs and conversation.

i went on a couple hikes. and almost died. because i am fat and out of shape. but it was still fun.

my kids did a bucket load of crafts. i tried to relax and do some, too.

we had chores at the cabin, too, and ate a lot of food. i fell asleep sometimes and took a few naps. the best was the porch swing and hammocks.

john braided my hair.

David let me call him by his new name: Big Swayzee

Jen told me how to get over my fear of putting my kids in school, and also handed me a dollar and said i was a good mom.

VOLLEYBALL was another favorite of mine. i am not sporty in the least, but because i was really at an all-time low on this trip, i was able to just say, "WHO FREAKING CARES ANYMORE?!" and just play without worrying how stupid i looked. it ended up being pretty dang fun.

oh, and us sisters went up on the rim one day and hiked around a bit. it was just lovely. and amy almost broke my back while playing 'corners' on the car ride back.

there were some good times. some times when i was able to really laugh and enjoy some of my relatives. there were some not-so-good times, when i wanted to seriously run away and never come back. but i survived. we all made it.

ironically my mother started out at mcdonalds with us, waiting for my sister. and at the end of the trip she ended up at mcdonalds with us, wrapping things up before i headed home.

and when i got home? Jeff informed me that he had turned off the air conditioning for the whole week and BAKED OUR PET SNAKE. and you know what? its one of the worst smells ever. and i am sad that he died. and sad that it was such a tragic death. and... just like that, we were back to life.

bring on the next reunion.
as long as i don't have to host it!