Thursday, February 18, 2016

Our first Valentine's Day

This week was Valentine's Day.  I was not a good Valentine.  I was sick, in bed.  I ignored my poor husband and he took another girl out for a date on Valentine's.  It was B, they went to the drive thru to pick up some hamburgers and fries as I was too out of it to cook, much less get gussied up and go out for the night.  It was better than last year.  I was in Missouri and James was in California.  We are making progress.  Just another crazy Valentine's Day for the books.

James and I both laugh at our first Valentine's Day 26 years ago.  It was before his mission and we were in L.O.V.E.  We had planned a super fun day of skiing at Sundance.  We were both looking forward to our all day date when we said good night.  February 14th arrived with quite a bit of snow.  I can't remember how much, but it was  a pretty good amount.  I was 18 at the time and still living at home, as was James.  We had quite the predicament.  My mom, the infamous worrier of our family, the over protective parent, told me she really did not want me to go up into the scary canyon which was surely slick, icy and deathly dangerous.  My boyfriend, who had been given a ton of independence growing up thought she was crazy.  He couldn't believe we would have to miss out on a perfect day for skiing, loaded with fresh powder.  I have to tell you, my mom never said " I do not want you to go."  She knew I was a guilt ridden, obedient enough kid, even at 18, that I would not want to disappoint or upset her.  She didn't have to put her foot down, she just had to mention her concerns and I usually fell into line.

Thus, the stars were aligned for the very first disagreement in our young love.  Should I stay home where it was safe to keep my Mom happy or run free with the love of my life and have an adventure?? I just couldn't cross my Mom.  It was gut renching for me, but I was still a young girl and I just couldn't cause any strife for my Mom who I loved so very much.

So, it was settled.  We postpned our Valentine's Day date.  James decided to head on over to  my house where we would be safe and warm and no harm could possibly come to us.  He told me he was on his way.  So, I got all prettied up and waited... and waited... and waited.  I should remind you, this was years ago, before cell phones were even a thought in our minds.  Communication was limited to whenever you were in a building with a "land line"  Remember those??

So, I called his house, no answer.  I called the family buisness, no answer.  Hmmmm.  Where could he be??  I waited some more, and waited.  I was finally frustrated.  No boy was going to treat me like this!  I wasn't going to be stood up!!  So, I proceeded to take my anger out on the snow.  I shoveld our entire drive way, still, no James.  I waited some more and then drove around the block to shovel my grandma's driveway.  I was about half way done when Romeo decided to finally show up.  Boy was I mad.  He explained he had to shovel his family's drive way, then run to the store for his mom who would never ever drive in the snow.  Then he stopped by the family buisness to check on his dad and had to help shovel the entire parking lot.  He tried to call but I didn't answer ( probably because I was blowing off some steam shoveling away my anger ).  

This was our first argument.  Looking back it seems almost silly.  With the technology we have today we could have checked the weather, the travel conditions, he could have texted or called me to let me know he would be late.  It is amazing how communication has improved so greatly in the past 26 years.  Not only via cell phones and social media, but as we have grown together in marriage.  

Ironically, we were both trying to accomplish the same thing. He was disappointed I was trying to keep my Mom happy and cancelled our date.  I was upset because he was trying to keep his parents happy by running errands and shoveling the driveways. Good thing it was young love, we got over it pretty quickly.  I honestly don't remember much more of the day.    Now we just laugh at the immature reactions we both had, as well as our good intentions.  

We actually went skiing a few days later and had a wonderful time.  The first and last time we skiied together sadly.  Hopefully we can fix that soon now that we are closer to Utah and will have better opportunites come our way.  

I will admit, sadly, that was just the first of many disagreements, arguments, flat out fights if I am to be honest, along the way.  The hurt feelings and anger have always melted away as quickly as the snow on that Valentine's Day in 1990.  I am so grateful for our wonderful years together, for our strong marriage that has taken more than it's fair share of hits.  I am thankful for the gospel and the way it has centered us on the really important things in life. 

Be grateful!! 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

12 months and 6 months

This morning as I watched Brandon play in a basketball tournament I realized our family has been in our new city for 6 months this week.  James moved out here 12 months ago this week.  Time sure does fly by!

Farmer's Market

Sequoia National Forest
I reflected on all that we have overcome, accomplished and the great things that are ahead of us.  Six months ago we waved goodbye to what we thought would be our family home, forever.  We said goodbye to wonderful friends who had become like family to us.  I listened to Baylie crying in our front room with her friends as they said goodbye.  I remembered watching as Brandon bravely walked out from his best friends house when we picked him up as one of our final stops on our way out of town. We looked onward to a home we had never seen, in a city we had never visited and wondered who would become our new friends.

We arrived two days before school started.  I remember well, walking through the strange new high school with Baylie.  It was so different than the high school all of my kids except for Brandon had attended.  No longer was her high school one solid, sprawling brick building.  It is now made up of multiple buildings, similar to a college campus. No hallways, just many walkways and courtyards to walk from one to class to another.  It was a refreshing change in some ways.  I remember looking at the aged oak walls in the library, comparing them to the high tech, bright and very open library at the old high school.

Baylie didn't know a soul.  She and I were completely lost and had to ask for directions many times. Two days later, I dropped her off at the front of the school and she braved the new school with it's non-existent hallways and not a friend in sight.  My heart was broken for her and yet it swelled with pride as I watched my courageous little girl walk into her new life.

Cutest Defense Attorney ever!!!

Fast forward six months.  She tried out for volleyball but didn't make the team ( we weren't too surprised ).  She made a new friend on the first day named Jill.  A vocal, liberal feminist, a complete opposite of Baylie, but a kind friend who helped her navigate her way through the first day and weeks of her surroundings.

Baylie joined Mock Trial which kept her engrossed in something other than being homesick and filled with tears every day.  She struggled with "settling" for a less than challenging orchestra class and a less than challenging French class.  Luckily she tried out for and made the TKMEA Honors Orchestra and enjoyed every minute of it.  She has blossomed along the way and made friends in every class along with new friends in our ward quickly.  She learned to enjoy lunch hour as she was only two blocks away from James' office, which many times would have lunch catered and she was a benefactor of such lunches.

This Thursday, I was just as proud of her when she again walked confidently with her head up.  This time into a county courtroom in her professional suit with a tag with the words "Defense Attorney". She talked and laughed with her teammates and friends.  She stood and presented her opening argument, cross examined witnesses and objected to the prosecution.  I was one proud Momma! She has grown and developed in different ways than we had planned and she has blossomed into a wonderful young woman. And, despite all of the changes, she still maintains as straight A GPA.

Brandon walked onto his new campus just a few minutes after Baylie did.  He hadn't even had a chance to find his way around campus.  We had just stopped by the office long enough to register him.  His campus is just as open and broken up as Baylie's.  It is shocking to see the lack of lock down we were so accustomed to in Liberty.  Not a single door to be buzzed into.  They are all open at all times.  He had no fear, as usual.  He was full of confidence.  He had a day or two of complete loneliness, until one day he wore one of his signature BYU shirts and a bunch of LDS boys invited him to sit with them.  He made instant friends and hasn't looked back.  He played on the flag football and basketball teams. He is the proud ring leader of the irreverent Deacons quorum and has excelled in scouting.  He is still full of confidence and is doing so well in school.

Kyle left for his mission a few short weeks after we settled into our new home.  He loved the MTC and thrived at what I call mission day camp.  On October 14, 2015 he flew for over 24 hours from Salt Lake to Atlanta to London to Portugal to Cape Verde.  He called me on every single leg to talk. Not a momma's boy at all!! He struggled greatly the following months, bursting into tears when we talked to him on Christmas.  He was so tired, had lost weight, was SO very homesick, struggling with the languages and felt so overwhelmed.  He now speaks Portuguese and Creole fluently, is confident and progressing greatly.  He no longer complains in Every.Single.E-mail.  That may have to do with me telling to man up or come home, but I also think he has finally settled.

Good ole Jeremy has had his share of ups and downs since coming home just a few days before our big move.  From being betrayed by a once beloved friend, to chronic stomach and GI troubles as he adjusted to American food again, finding himself lonely beyond belief while surrounded by thousands of college students.  He has become very self sufficient, confident for the most part.  He is still struggling as most young adults his age do in finding himself and where he would like to be in a few years.  And the ever present stress of dating and finding "the one".

Mikenzie did great as she stayed in Missiouri to finish her last semester of high school.   A few teary phone calls here and there, but she grew and made me so very proud.  She registered her car 100% on her own, from inspection to repairs to full registration.  She did great! And we are so proud of her growth.  She now worries every day whether or not she will be admitted into BYU, where she will be if she isn't accepted. And if her roommates will be weird or not?? And where will she work?? And will she take the right classes?? She will be blessed with the right path as she has exhibits her faith in her Heavenly Father and His plan for her.

And Alex?  Well, he is still our Alex.  Going against the grain whenever possible, questioning every rule and regulation, challenging life to a battle that will leave him with a few scars and hard knocks, hopefully a better person on the other side of each hard fought battle against those solid brick walls he is convinced he can knock down.  He is still ungrounded and searching.  The greatest growth has come from James and I as we struggle to accept and love a child that we loving nicknamed "our porcupine".  He would love a big hug if his sharp quills just didn't get in the way so easily.  We have learned that Alex will always, no matter what the consequence,  zag when everyone else is zigging. It's just who he has become.  I struggle to say it is in his nature because this momma is happier remembering the little boy who was a lot more joyful and had a more pleasant nature/personality.  It seems so long ago and almost impossible to remember "my Alex"  The boy who didn't constantly push against the barbed wire that was placed there for our safety. The Alex that had a soft heart and loved his family.  The Alex that could laugh easily and was filled with curiosity and had a testimony of the gospel.  It has taken years, but James and have grown and are learning to leave that Alex behind.  My heart breaks for him as he watches his high school friends preparing to graduate from college in a few months and he struggles with attending one 3 credit hour class.  He cannot conform, regardless of the price.  I pray daily he will be surrounded by light and peace.  Perhaps one day when I write about my son,  I will write with happiness and not heartbreak.  ( The guilt never leaves me.  The guilt of knowing I somehow failed my child and my Father in Heaven.  I doubt it ever will ).

My all time favorite picture of " My Alex "

 And so we all have grown and become better people through our challenges, opportunities and lessons learned.  We still have some growing to do, friends to make and accomplishments that we are yet to see come our way.  We feel so blessed and grateful for all of the things that have come our way thus far. And most of all, we have come to depend on and love each other so much over the past six months.  That is what really counts.

Be Grateful!!