Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Another loss in our family

Warning: This post contains some rather graphic photos.  If you are squeamish and faint at the sight of dismembered bodies you probably should not read any further.

Experiencing death in a family is a natural thing.  It's that whole "circle of life" bit we learned watching Lion King.  However, natural doesn't always mean easy or beautiful.  My hair color, for instance. . .  Sometimes were are given warning of an impending loss like spiritual promptings or the slow decline of health.  Other times it occurs when we least expect it.

Today I didn't expect it.

The day began rather normally.  I was awoken by a text message from my sister, Andrea ate oatmeal for breakfast, I unloaded and loaded the dishwasher, changed the sheets on my bed, started a load of laundry, sang in the shower (loudly and off-key), and dealt with an 18 month old meltdown when I made Andrea stop digging through the bathroom garbage.  The productive morning was lifting my spirits and, combined with the anticipation of my grandmother's arrival from Illinois, I thought nothing could really get me down.  That is. . . until I lifted the lid to washing machine and found a most gruesome sight.

Yes, dear friends, what you see before you was once my pillow.

My pillow and I have been together for almost 14 years now.  My mother brought him home to me shortly after we moved to Utah.  I hated him a first.  He was so fluffy that I had a sore neck every morning.  But the more accustomed we got to each other the more he softened up and the more I began to love him.  When I was twelve I named him George.  No joke.

He was the pillow that listened to my first private prayers.  As a ten year old they were mostly about bugs and to please not let my sister throw-up tonight, thankyouverymuch.  But he was still with me as those prayers matured and became less about myself and more about others.  He heard the deepest desires of my heart, my biggest fears, my greatest joys, and he was my secret keeper.

He absorbed so many tears as I cried on his soft, polyester shoulder during a punishment, after a personal failure, or after having my heart broken.  He cushioned my cranium as I drifted off into dreamland on peaceful nights where the world was right.  He harbored my head when sleep was elusive and thoughts overwhelming.  He never complained.

Even when I drooled on him. . . daily.

Aside from the emotional connection we shared, George was a part of every event in my life.  He went to Clear Creek, girl's camp, Snowbird, family reunions, sleepovers, and was even there for my honeymoon.  Paul learned one of the quickest ways to sour my mood was to take away that pillow.  (He like it too, probably because it smelled better than his. . .)

Paul sleeping on my pillow
I know the "experts" say you should replace your pillow every other year or so, but would you replace a child every other year, or a parent, or a spouse?  No, George was family, and although I battered him with the occasional spin cycle and dryer tumble, I loved him.

As I vacuumed his remains that had scattered about the floor, I wondered if I'd ever have another pillow like George.  No.  I don't think I ever will.

Farewell, George.  I hope you are happy up there in inanimate-object heaven.  Say "hey" to Loona for me.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

To pin

I finally did it.  I joined Pinterest.  My initially aversion to the site due to some unrighteous and covetous thoughts proved to be great motivation for self-improvement.  It began with gratitude lists, which I did find helpful for a while, but my journal entries became less frequent until the beginning of May when they pretty much stopped altogether.  But the beginning of May brought a new job for Paul and with the new job came a decision.  To move or not to move. . .?  After sifting through KSL and craigslist for apartments closer to Paul's new job in Salt Lake, I came to two conclusions.  The first was commuting was more affordable than relocating up there.  The second is how amazingly blessed we are to have the apartment that we have.  What we can afford in SLC would cost us the convenience of a washer and dryer, a dishwasher, some major square footage, and we'd be much further from family.

Have I mentioned how blessed we are here? 

The feeling of gratitude that began three weeks ago seems to have pressed on throughout the month and given me the courage I need to test my resolution with a site full of beautiful pictures.  I also finished my interior design class and am full of ideas.  Some require money which we just don't have, but others require some simple rearranging and perhaps a little furniture painting.  And maybe someday Pinterest will help me assemble some ideas for such projects. 

But for now, it's mostly just showing me pictures of men's clothing.

When I signed up for Pinterest the site asked me about some of my hobbies and interests.  Based off that information, I was automatically given 50 random people to follow.  I guess they didn't want to my homepage to be pictureless.  From the information I supplied, I believe Pinterest has determined that I am a gay man, because from day one my homepage was completely flooded with men's clothing.  Oddly enough, I didn't even select fashion as an interest.  So my first few days on Pinterest have mostly been about unfollowing the fashion boards of my gay interior-designing "friends" because I have no need see pins about Tommy Hilfiger blazers and Sperry Top-Sider plaid washed canvas boat shoes.

I'm finally starting to see some recipes. . . thank heavens.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Laundry in the spring time

The air was crisp tonight.  Crisp and delicious.  The warmth of midday faded into the cool of the desert, and a slight wind re-circulated the smells of Orem barbeques.  I filled my lungs with salty drafts and completely fell in love with spring nights as I rounded the house and approached my front door.  A pleasant evening of adult company and delicious food was paired perfectly with a long car ride home and stimulating mother-daughter conversation.  While the nature of the conversation was serious, the experience was required.  Every once in a while a girl needs a break from talking about pee-pees and rawrrrrs. (That’s peaches and lions for those who need a translation.)

Andrea got her first molar this week so as you can imagine it’s been. . . super.  Whenever Andrea falls into prolonged fits of grumpiness I never think to look for teeth.  I almost always assume that I’m doing something wrong as a parent and that my happy, sweet Andrea is changing.  When the grumpiness stops, I’m surprised to find a new tooth and relieved that the change wasn’t permanent.

However, I find happy Andrea almost irresistible.  She’s learned to say ‘please,’ and kindly declining such polite requests nearly tears apart my soul.  Dramatic?  Ya.  Accurate?  Most definitely.  Paul is just as susceptible to her charm and far more lax in setting boundaries.  She plays him like a grand piano.  I’ll return from class and ask how his night went, and he’ll tell me how many episodes of “Yo Gabba Gabba” she wrangled out of him (I only let her watch two a day) and how many snacks she gleaned with those big blue eyes of hers.  Forgiveness comes quickly for this kind of transgression because seeing his love for our daughter melts me into a puddle of Kayla goo.

I suppose living with two people who melt me daily isn’t the worst thing that’s ever happened.

Andrea is learning new things every day.  Just two weeks ago all animals said ‘rawr.’  Now cats say ‘maooo,’ dogs say ‘ffffff,’ monkeys say ‘aa aa aa,’ cows say ‘moo,’ lions say ‘raaawr’ and so do all the other animals in world.  She tries to smell pictures of flowers.  She blows her nose on command.  She knows all of her major body parts.  She says ‘no no’ while she does something naughty.  (It’s like a warning siren.)

What. The. Heck.

Wasn’t she a baby just yesterday?

Because she’s growing up so fast, I thought, why not?  Let’s give her some chores.  Please enjoy what I’ve captured of Andrea helping with laundry.

(if you listen closely, you can hear her say dryer.)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The heart keeps growing

Today Andrea decided to be cuddly. We sat in the front row in sacrament meeting, and as the decans quietly walked up and down the aisles of chapel Andrea laid her head on my chest and breathed to the beat of their footsteps. I wrapped my arms around her tiny body and sniffed her hair wondering how many of these little moments she'd afford me. Older mothers warned me if blinked I'd find her grown. I believed them, but couldn't fully comprehend exactly how that would feel until I brought her into the world and one moment later found myself holding a 17 month old in the middle of sacrament meeting.

Two years ago on Mother's Day I announced on my blog that I was going to be a mother. I was so excited, scared, sick, but mostly excited. I knew that becoming a mother would teach me so much about myself, and I knew I would come to know the ins and outs of a new little person, but what I didn't expect was how much I'd learn about my own mother.

When I was young and my mother sent me away from the table without desert because I wouldn't eat my healthy food I thought she hated me. When she wouldn't let me play until my room was clean I thought she was a slave driver. When she made me do my own laundry and pay for my own gas and come home at six and make my bed every day and babysit little siblings and pull weeds in the garden and come to scripture study before the sun rose (even in the Summer) I thought she was cruel.

I know I've expressed this before but. . . I wish I knew then what I know now. I wish I would have understood the love of a mother. Setting limits isn't easy. Always being the bad guy isn't super fun. And being completely misunderstood is challenging. But I'm grateful that she did those things so I could learn. I'm grateful she did those things out of love.

I love Andrea tremendously, and that love grows every day. Sometimes I find it overwhelming, especially while watching sapping movies where babies or mommies die. When I think about the maternal love my mom has been cultivating for almost a quarter of a century I wonder how she keeps from exploding.  I suppose that’s the beauty of motherhood; your heart just keeps growing to make room.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Real life begins

Yesterday was a big day. Star Wars Day. May the 4th be with you. The day Paul walked across the stage, received his empty diploma case, moved his tassel from one side of his hat to the other, and said goodbye to school forever. It was also the day that he was offered his first big boy job as a Junior Commission Analyst (whatever that means). We couldn't be more thrilled!

Andrea wore her matching dress so stylishly.  She even left in her hairdo for the entire. . . walk to the car.  It's a start. . .

These too looked so cute together.  Andrea was a little frightened by his hat though.

We ended up in the nose bleed section at the graduation which was perfect since keeping Andrea quiet is nearly impossible.

Although, snacks helped a little.

The ceremony felt a little like a Vegas wedding.  They had to read off over 800 names and it took just under two hours.  My father-in-law did manage to get a picture of Paul amidst the chaos right after he got his "diploma".

I tried to match also but ran out of time to make a matching skirt.

I am so proud of this guy.  He began working toward his bachelor's at UVU just after we started dating.  In four years he earned not only that bachelor's degree but a master's at the U of U as well.  There has been blood, sweat, and tears.  We added a baby to our family.  I felt like a single mom.  He spent nights sleeping at school because by the time he commuted home he would have had to turn around and go back.  We scrimped, saved, starved, did without a lot, and wondered if there would ever be an end to student life.  Yesterday's graduation AND job offer gave us the answer we'd so diligently sought.  Yes.  Yes, there is an end and we made it-- alive.  Now REAL life can begin.

This week, while filled with joyous events and miracles, was also a very challenging one for me.  As I experienced a particularly difficult trial I was often reminded of the love my Heavenly Father has for my family.  I saw His hand in all things and am grateful for the peace He brings.  But for those moments when I was too distraught to recognize that peace, I was given an angel-- An angel who held my hand, joked with me, and promised to be strong so I didn't have to be.  I'm so grateful that he's stuck with me forever.

Congratulations Master Paul!  I'm so proud of you, and I love you!