Thursday, October 27, 2011

Family Pictures

As you can tell from the last family picture above, I don't like to do things too ordinary.  I like to live life big...huge even.  So, this is my request to you, my beloved readers.  I need to get my graduation picture done soon so it can be included in my Christmas/New Years/Valentine card (depending on when I actually get around to mailing it).  I need your thoughts and suggestions because this needs to be epic.  The photo shoot could include just me or me, Ben and the kids, or me and my family and my parents.  Lots of options.  We will all be wearing maroon/gold and I will be in my cap and gown.  I would like it to be on ASU's campus somewhere so that it is obvious where we are.  Think about props, poses, location, etc.

Ready?  Go.  

I'm waiting.  Literally. I'm sitting at my computer right now waiting to hear what you have to say about this.  Think of something and get back to me.
Note:  I do not want to ever end up on www.awkwardfamilyphotos.com on accident...only on purpose.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bucket List

I know I just blogged recently about setting goals, but since I found this contest and wanted to enter, I figure I'll share some of my bucket list items with you.  I have tons, but here are my top 15:

1.  Graduate College.  I know, I've already talked about this one, but I can't wait to cross it off my list!  7 weeks and counting...

2.  Serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I have the potential to send off 7 more missionaries before I can go, but I will do it.  It will be awesome to serve with Ben.

3.  Hike the Grand Canyon.  We keep planning a summer trip, but babies, missionaries, time constraints and money have kept us from our goal.  I want to do it soon so that I can helicopter my dad and mom in to stay with us then helicopter them out.

4.  Learn to play the harp.  I really want to take lessons, but buying the harp is the expensive part.  Guitar is my second choice and I might try to pick that one up in the near future.

5.  Learn to speak a foreign language.  I'm doing well in my spanish class, but I need to practice so much more.

6.  Visit England and do some family history research.  I would love to visit the cemetaries, churches, and towns where my ancestors lived.

7.  Tour a castle in Spain.  I have wanted to go to Spain ever since my cousin served his mission there.  He would send me pictures and write letters about the beautiful country and it has been my dream since then to go visit.

8.  Run a marathon.  My ankle isn't going to last forever, but before I have it replaced, I really want to run 26.2 miles.  Crazy, I know.

9.  See all 8 of my children graduate from college with at least a two year scholarship.

10.  Write a book.  I have several that are in my head, just waiting to be put into my computer.

11.  I want to own a Bed and Breakfast with Ben.  It will be the Triple B (or something like that).  We will have 8 rooms and it will be in the mountains near Sunrise Ski Resort.  It will have a large football field and adjoining fields so we can host sports camps and girls' camps throughout the summer.  I want a big lodge with a stage and large kitchen to put on skits and talent shows for when my kids come back for family reunions.

12.  Be debt free.  Enough said.

13.  Earn my Young Women Recognition as an adult.  I did it when I was a young girl, but the program is so much different now...better.  I'm getting there one goal at a time.

14.  I want to own a sports car with leather seats.

15.  I want to write a song for my children and record it.  I want to be able to tell them how much I love being a mom and how they fill my life with joy and I want them to hear me sing it to them even after I am gone.  My grandchildren will know how much I loved their parents.

This is my entry in the Just Ask Bucket List Getaway Giveaway. Just Ask offers a breast and ovarian cancer screening and is encouraging people to share 15 thingsthat I want to enjoy in my lifetime as a reminder to be aware of my health. Want to enter? Head over to TodaysMama.com to get the details. 

So, what is on your bucket list?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I am the original inventor of the Sarcasm Meter

It bothers me when people don't know when I am being sarcastic or not.  When I'm talking to you face to face, it should be fairly obvious by my facial expression, hand gestures, tone of voice, etc.  I struggle with the written word and how to use sarcasm appropriately when I write.  So, a few months/years ago (I have no idea when), I invented the sarcasm meter for Facebook.  Yes, I did.  I wish I would have patented it or sold my idea to Mark Zuckerberg because maybe I would be rich today, but oh well.

Here is how it works.  If you are saying something extremely sarcastic, you should put a (5) at the end of said statement.  If you are completely serious but are concerned that your comment may be taken sarcastically, then you put a (0) at the end.  Obviously, if you are somewhere in the middle, you can choose numbers 1-4 to show your level of sarcasm.

While I find that I am pretty good at sarcasm, I realize that sometimes it can be taken wrong and feelings can be hurt.  I try to be very careful when I find myself dripping with sarcasm because I would never want anyone to be hurt because of my fun.  That is why my meter is so helpful.

Today Drew came home from school and related the following story: (This is in his words)
"When we were at lunch today, my friend Will said something super sarcastic and then his girlfriend turned to him and said, "Was that a 5?"  My eyes got big and my ears perked up,then I turned to her and said, "What did you just say?"  She looked at me and said, "I asked him if that was a 5 on the sarcasm meter.""

Drew said it was beyond belief.  Of course I am laughing and a little surprised.  My reply to the whole story was, "Did you tell him you knew who invented the sarcasm meter?"  His reply...


"No Way!"

Of course not.  What 15 year old wants the world to know his mother invented the sarcasm meter? (0) 
I cannot stop laughing.(0)  I'm also doing the happy dance (3), I'm so cool. (5)
I wonder what I can do tomorrow that will compare in "coolness."  Shopping at Costco? 
Yes. (5)

Trying to be the Cool Mom

My dad, Drew and Skylar
Several of my friends confirmed it today on Facebook so it must be true.  Now I wish I had a picture of me being the cool mom so I had proof.  I will let the sunburn on my arms and neck be my witness to those that see me.

I went golfing today with two of my boys and their Grandpa.  Poor hubs had to work today and well, someone had to do it.  I'm just happy they asked me.  Maybe I have always been cool to them and I just didn't know it.

Ben asked me to go golfing with him when Drew was just a baby.  I went and fell in love with the game that very day.  Of course, it doesn't hurt that lots of people think Ben looks just like Phil Mickelson and I think he is a hottie.  But, I knew (hoped) that ahead of me were many long years of pregnancies and nursing babies.  I told him that I had so much fun, I knew it would be an activity we could do together after I was done with kids so I could actually spend some time enjoying it on a regular basis.  I hadn't thought of that day until last week when the boys asked me to take them.

We invited my dad to come along.  He hasn't golfed since his surgery a few years ago and I think he was nervous.  He had a great time and after I snapped the picture, I stared at it longingly, hoping it isn't the last one I get to take of my dad with my boys.  I also hope he gets many  more golf outings with all of his grandsons.

So, I am in love again.  Of course, I'm not quitting my day job and going on the women's tour, you'd think by my score that I was going for the highest possible strokes.  I'm thinking I might have found my Christmas gift suggestion to Ben: golf lessons.  I need them.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Do you ever want a Do-Over?

Sometimes I get so frustrated with my parenting that I wish I could have a do-over.  Lately I feel that way a lot.  I think is is part of my senior-itis kicking with my graduation only 8 weeks and 4 days away (but who is counting?).  I feel a little consumed by my two classes but at the same time I have this "who cares" type of attitude.  There is nothing stable about my parenting (or my emotional status) lately.  I'm all up in their grills one day and my house is spotless and homework turned in on time and then the next week my house is trashed, my homework is late or not done at all and the worst part is I don't even notice.

It doesn't help that I have tons of external things to blame it on...Jenny's funeral, the pneumonia, the weather, potty training issues (the three year old, not me), etc.  But, the reality is, I am not very consistent.  There you have it people, I have a weakness, it is consistency.  I can do really great one day/week/month and then the next, I have fallen off the wagon.  After a few weeks like I've had, I just want to go back to the beginning and beg for a do-over.  But, we all know that isn't reality.  The reality is that I can blame nobody but myself.

So here I sit, at 11:30 on Sunday night, waiting and praying for morning to come so I can have my own kind of a do-over.  The kind where I say to myself that today is a new day and I'm getting back on track with homework schedules (for everyone, not just me), chore charts, meal planning...everything.  Yes sirree, that is my kind of a do-over since I'm not getting the one I really wanted.  Look out Monday, I'm all over you like stink on a poopy diaper.  I'm even going visiting teaching and it isn't even the end of the month yet:)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dreams and Secretariat

I saw the Disney movie Secretariat at the movie theater when it first came out months ago, I even paid full price.  If you know how cheap I am, you’ll know how much I wanted to watch this movie.  I was hoping it would uplift and inspire me.  Secretariat was that kind of movie.

If you are not familiar, it is the story of a woman who takes over the business of running her father’s horse breeding/racing farm due to the death of her parents.  She does what she needs in order to succeed, even in the most difficult of circumstances.  
What I loved most was seeing the determination and at the same time, the uncertainty in Penny as she had to choose between living this dream or not.  After two years of living a dual life, late one night, her husband questions her ability to keep up such a tremendous pace.  Her response stuck with me when she replied, “When I went off to college, I felt like that colt, full of promise, full of adventure, like I could make something work.  I gave up a career to have our family – and this colt is part of our family now, I just want to see him run.”
 
While I don’t want anyone to believe for a minute that I feel like have sacrificed everything for the sake of raising my family, I do sometimes feel like women sacrifice more than their share.  Sometimes we lose our sense of balance when we give absolutely everything to our children and spouses while reserving little or nothing for ourselves.   I want my children to have the kind of parent that shoots for the stars and follows her dreams, no matter how difficult or uncertain the chances of realizing that goal may be.  In my small way, I hope I am showing them a bright example of how I want them to live their own lives.

Please don't misunderstand me, I absolutely believe that a mother’s place is in the home, no matter how old fashioned that sentiment may seem.  I also realize that for many women, not working is just not an option, I get that.   But, there is nothing that is more fulfilling in my life than watching my children succeed and simply being there for them when I can.  When my children succeed, I feel like I can take a small part of the credit for their achievements.

If my goals and dreams were taken away from me, or even shoved too far back in the closet until a “better” time for them to come out, I think I would lose a part of me that I would want my children to see as they grew up.  I think that is why I am so persistent in doing the things that I want to do, even if it means giving my children a bit more responsibility around the house,  expecting them to help out with their younger siblings more than their friends have to, and sometimes sacrificing my own personal time supporting my kids.  I can closely relate to the scene when Penny is missing her daughter’s performance and lays on her hotel room bed sobbing while listening to it through a payphone.  I don’t know how many football/baseball games, music recitals, field trips, etc. I have missed because I was taking a test or finishing homework.

So, what are my dreams?  First, I am going to graduate from ASU (December 15, 8:30am).  This goal is 22 years in the making.  It has been a wonderful and exhausting experience and my family has sacrified as well as myself, but I am so excited.  Another goal is to help each of my kids graduate with a major scholarship that covers at least two years of tuition and books (I’m 1 for 7 thus far).  My additional goals include traveling to Spain and visiting a real castle, maybe picking up Vance in Paraguay when his mission is done, going to England to work on family history documentation, and serving a mission with Ben.   I also dream of the day when my blog magically turns itself into a keepsake book, or when I get my own parenting book published.  I’m like Penny when she said, “This is about life being ahead of you and you run at it!”  Speaking of running, a marathon still eludes me, but that is next summer too.

This movie is less about a race horse and more about living out your dreams.  What are you made of?  What are your dreams?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Adoption

I'm so blessed to have a stake calling in my church that allows me to work with LDS Family Services.  Each month, we are inspired and uplifted with information regarding our calling.  Today was not unlike any other meeting, but this topic has been weighing on my mind as I wonder who in our area could benefit from my services.  Each stake (geographical boundary that include 8-12 congregations/wards) has an agency representative assigned to them so the information I am presenting is available to all, members and non-members alike.  This post might be a little long, but it barely scratches the surface of all there is to say about this topic so I hope to include more later.

I wanted to give a little background on my experience with adoption and why I feel so blessed by it.  My husband was adopted, as well as his 6 siblings, I had the sweet experience of watching someone very close to me place her baby for adoption (and that is a fabulous story in itself ), and I remember the experience of my cousin being adopted after my grandparents had been her foster parents (another great story for another day).  So, my point is, that my testimony of adoption is strong, and I know it is another way that our loving Heavenly Father shows us how much He absolutely loves each and every one of us.

Today, I heard from three women who each shared their stories of why they chose to adopt.  Carlie suffered from endometriosis and while she was able to conceive one baby, it was with the help of expensive and invasive medical treatments.  While struggling with her medical condition, a friend made the comment that if it wasn't for infertility problems, there wouldn't be anyone to adopt all the babies.  This struck a chord in her and she decided that her infertility would not be a problem for her anymore, but a solution for an unwed mother.  She was blessed with the finalization of her sweet daughter just this past Thursday and is planning on taking her family to the temple on Saturday to be sealed for time and all eternity.

Another sister, Angie, suffered from cancer as a child, but the doctors reassured her that it would pose no threat to her reproductive organs.  Unfortunately, this was not the case.  13 years after being married, she had a wonderful experience in the temple.  The person for whom she was going through the temple was an aunt who had adopted a child before her death. Angie felt like she could hear the voice of her aunt telling her that she would be blessed by adopting children just as her aunt had.  Angie is now the mother to 3 sweet adopted children.

Megan had a heart problem in childhood that seemed to heal itself after much fasting and prayers.  When she was newly married, she felt prompted to go to the cardiologist before getting pregnant.  The news the Dr. delivered to her was devastating; If she were to get pregnant, her heart would not be able to stand the strain put on it and she would possibly die.  Megan was devastated at this news and immediately sought counsel at LDS Family Services where they told her she had to be married for at least 2 years before applying to adopt.  This turned out to be a tender mercy of the Lord  as she needed some open heart surgery shortly after this and a year of rehabilitation to be able to take care of herself.  Once she was well, they completed the paperwork so they could adopt.  She is now also the mother of 3 sweet adopted children.

I wish I could go into detail about the miraculous events that transpired as they were interviewed by birth mothers.  Prayers were answered, miracles happened, and lives changed for the better.  The act of placing a baby for adoption is nothing less than the biggest sacrifice a parent can make.  In the book titled For the Love of a Child: The Journey of Adoption, the Introduction by Bonnie D. Parkin, then the Relief Society General President touches on many aspects of the adoption processs, including the need for repentance on the part of the birth mother.  She says,
          "What if you're pregnant and unwed?  Here are a few of my thoughts.  First, remember that you can be forgiven!  You can, and you must, move forward and receive every blessing promised by the Lord to His faithful children.  Then seek for the Lord's sweet forgiveness.  It will be difficult, it will be painful, but forgiveness will come.  Keeping a baby is not a penance to make wrong choices right - only the Atonement can do that."

In a letter from the First Presidency of our church dated 19 July 2002, it states:

"When a man and woman conceive a child out of wedlock, every effort should be made to encourage them to marry.  When the probability of a successful marriage is unlikely due to age or other circumstances, unwed parents should be counseled to place the child for adoption through LDS Family Services to ensure that the baby will be sealed to temple-worthy parents.  Adoption is an unselfish, loving decision that blesses both the birth parents and the child in this life and in eternity."

So what does this have to do with my calling?  As an agency representative, I am the birth parent volunteer in my stake.  My job is to assist unwed mothers on their journey through pregnancy and beyond.  It is my job to be her friend and her unyielding support no matter what decision she makes with regards to her child.  I can offer her information, support, programs and whatever else the situation calls for.  Yes, I will encourage her to consider adoption as I support the leaders of our church and have a strong testimony of the divine principle of eternal families.  But, my job is to be the one person she can count on to support her, no matter what her choice.

My calling has really not been busy, but the church statistics show that on average there will be one girl per ward per year that will find themselves in this situation; I can only hope that my stake will prove the statistics are wrong.  But, if you know of someone who is in this situation, please know there is love and support on the road to forgiveness from a loving Father in Heaven, who wants us to succeed in our life's journey back to Him.

For more information check out these websites:
www.providentliving.org and click on social and emotional strength
www.southwestfsa.com if you are a couple looking to adopt

www.itsaboutlove.org for those who are pregnant, those looking to adopt, those who work in a professional capacity where they might know someone in either of those cases, or for leaders of our church in need of more information.
As always, feel free to send me a private message if you have specific questions to stacy@becauseihadchildren.com