Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Last year I knew our marriage was struggling. I needed to improve but I am not creative. However, I am a great gleaner of others' fabulous ideas so I spent a few hours searching archives of a couple of discussion boards and the internet for tips on how to show love, date ideas, and improve romance. Unfortunately, my marriage disintegrated within weeks of compiling "The List". I am still excited about these ideas so I share them with all of you in the hopes that they can provide lots of laughter, fun & memories to cherish forever. Without further ado, The List.Attitude
Get up with him & make him breakfast
Always wave good bye
Call him "lover" or another sweet nickname
Yummy, passionate kisses when he leaves &/or comes home
Leave white board marker messages on the mirror or in the shower
Hold hands in the car aor walking together
Make dinner together
Clean up dinner together - snap towels, squirt each other with the water hose, make beards out of the bubbles
Play "your" song and dance in the living room
Leave flirtatious voice mail messages
Leave "coded" messages on pagers, cell or email - such as 143 (I love you - each # stands for letters in word) or SHMILY (See How Much I Love You.) etc.
Pack lunch - include a treat, card, garter. Use valentine cookie cutters year round on sandwiches & cookies
Fix hair & make-up daily. Re-apply lipstick & perfume before he comes home.
"Daddy Dinner" with his favorite meal on china and w/ candles
Shop together: groceries, Home Depot, antique stores, Bass Pro
Decorate "his" parking spot (at home or at work) with sidewalk chalk
Decorate his car while at work
Card / Ecard / letter
Fill his car with gas & leave a single rose or note on the the steering wheel or a new air freshner
Share your "passion" foods, such as chocolate covered strawberries, shrimp, fondue, etc.
Send flowers/singing telegram/balloons to his work
Attend temple together (esp. with family names)
Attend adult session of confrence & go out for dessert together
Board or Card games / Puzzles (cribbage, sequence, chess, checkers, statego, speed, etc.)
Read a book together
Stargaze in the backyard
Play a sport together (tennis, racquetball, frisbee golf, tetherball, etc.)
Hike & picnic
Fly a kite at the park or beach
Treasure hunt/ Geo-caching / Letterboxing
Eat Out- Nice restaurant (just dessert or appetizer if $ is low) take out - Pizza or chinese
Arcade date: bowling, pool, air hockey, foosball, mini-golf, laser tag, paint ball, etc.
Window shop: motorcycle shop, sports & outdoors stores, model homes, plane hangers
Arts & Crafts: take a class together - sculpting, gardening, home improvement, cake decorating, etc. Make if fun, not necessarily serious.
Sight Seeing: Museums, local tourist areas, Planetarium, Zoo
Music Date: check out different kinds of music from the library, make new playlists, share old music memories
Culture date: concert, play, or lecture in parks, museums, high schools, universities, etc.
Bookstore date: browse together or separately and then enjoy a dessert or cocoa or smoothie together discussing book choices or enjoying live music.
Dancing date: country line dancing, ballroom, historical, Latin, etc.
Water Date: Aquatic center, water park, hot tub, spray park, squirt guns, slip & slide, etc.
Snow Date: make a snowman, snowball fight, snow angels, skiing, snowboarding, sledding - come home for hot chocolate
Movie Night: make a kit with some munchies & soda. Smoothies or Root Beer floats. DVD at home or dollar movies. Quote as many lines from movies as you can. Make these part of your regular speech/fun jokes.
Adventure date: skateboarding at a skate park, in line skating, roller skating, ice skating, Rock climbing/Repelling, ropes course, etc.
Outdoors: Camping or cabin (backyard if $ is low), canoeing, boating, rafting, etc. Horse or sleigh riding, four wheelers, target shooting, Archery, etc.
Mini-Honeymoon: First go to the temple for an endowment session and sealings if possible. After go out for a nice dinner & then on to a bed & breakfast. Sight see & take lots of pictures.
Message in a bottle: write a love letter, insert in a bottle & toss in the tub or pool
Make a favorite mix tape/play list ("These songs will always make me think of you...")
Monogrammed towels (big & fluffy)
Love Rocks - write a love note or quote and leave in his pockets or give as a paperweight. Start a vase to collect all your love rocks over they years.
Sheets - 800 count sheets or silk sheets
Scrapbook or DVD montage of your life together
Tickets to sporting events or movies
Friday, December 26, 2008
I am also ashamed that I have not been there for so many others. I have 3 siblings and a dear friend who have all experienced divorce before me. I talked to them, offered words of comfort and included them in my prayers but I wasn't there for them, especially not the way others have been there for me. Some people have to experience to understand, others can understand others' experiences. I definitely needed to experience divorce to understand its devastation. I am so sorry to you who I love dearly. I hope some good will come of all this and that my heart will always be tender to others' heartache.
I was talking to my brother last night (who has experienced an unexpected & devastating divorce) and he said something that describes some of my feelings. He said that at one point he was angry at his former wife because "she destroyed something that wasn't her's, it was our's." That is how I feel. I feel so angry and helpless and sad and betrayed. Our marriage was mine too and I didn't have any say, my votes didn't count, I couldn't stop it. Many will think that I must have seen it coming. I mean divorces don't just happen. And yes, in a way you are right. There were problems and a gulf between us that seemed to increase. But I have learned that while it does take two to make a marriage or even an argument, it only takes one to walk away.
My grief for the loss of my marriage threatens to overwhelm me at times. I truly do not grieve Tim - many times I feel I didn't know him at all. But marriage - I miss it desperately. I miss having someone to talk too, someone who knows everyone I know. I miss planning the future & dreams, I miss early morning talks, I miss a parenting sounding board, I miss holding hands and kisses, I miss the priesthood in my home, I miss companionship, that feeling of us against the world. I had no idea what a incredible blessing marriage is until it slipped through my fingers. I took it so for granted.
Last night my brother asked me what I wanted out of life. My heart broke to tell him - I want to be married to a man who loves the Lord first and cherishes me second, I want to be a stay-at-home-homemaker soaking up every second with my kiddo, and I want a houseful of kids to love. I have been raised to set & reach goals yet these goals are beyond my control. I can't make them happen. I do know that eternally, they will happen one day. And I know that I can experience so many wonderful things in the mean time and I have many days that I am excited for those adventures. Other times, my heart aches and tears flow.
Slowly, I am creating a new life. This week I have a project that I am very much looking forward too (more to posted on that later.) The future is very hazy, but answers are coming in bits and pieces. I try to plan enough when I am feeling positive to keep me walking through the bad times.
Visitation is the worst. I don't mind seeing Tim - when he is alone & we talk as a family, I feel the most positive for our success as a divorced family. The hardest is when his girlfriend comes along. Seeing her interact with my son stabs my heart. I feel very keenly that I am the unwanted one. It is in my nature to be friendly and yet I struggle with her. I don't know how to be her friend. I know many will say I don't need to be her friend, but unfriendliness is hard for me. Befriending everyone is one of my few talents. By not being her friend, I feel like I've lost a bit of myself.
I've thought about how many times in life does one person's happiness come at the expense of another's heartbreak. For example, organ transplants. One family is thanking God for their miracle while another is sobbing and asking "why?" My personal heartache has been a blessing for her. I always come away from visitation thinking, "How did this happen? What did I do? What didn't I do?" "Why?" So many questions without answers. I am grateful that Tim's girlfriend cares about Ryan. She makes Tim happy. She has been civil to me. It isn't her that is hard for me, it is what she represents. I guess that for now, she embodies my heartache, disappointment and shattered dreams. I want her to be happy. I want Tim to be happy. I just wish that it didn't have to come at my expense.
Visitation is also hard for me because I am a control freak. I have such a hard time sending Ryan because I don't know what he will come up against. Will he be strong enough to make the right choices? Does he have the power of discernment to see good and evil for what they really are? Will anyone remind him to read his scriptures? Will he be enticed to want to go live with his dad all the time? How will I ever make it through that? I have read the story of Daniel in the Lion's Den every visitation. Like King Darius, I plead with the Lord to protect him. Please don't let him suffer for my mistakes.
I bought a box a few months ago that is my God's Box. My deepest hurts get recorded and put in His hands. Remarkably, there are not many notes in there. I have been strengthened and blessed beyond measure. He has taken care of my needs and many of my wants. I know that He knows me. I know that He loves me. He is my priesthood leader now and He will never leave me. I can trust that he will always be there. I am learning to, bit by bit, trust his plan & goals for my mortality. Many days I stubbornly keep holding on to what I want in life but he is patiently walking next to me.
So, how am I doing? I hurt. I cry - sometimes tears of gratitude & other times tears of heartache. At times, especially lately, I have felt strong. Other times I have felt so weak. My smile has reached my eyes a few times lately, but it hasn't quite warmed my heart. I do trust that it will again someday.
So, how am I doing? Depends on when you ask.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Old Gentleman Gray
Said old gentleman Gray, "On Christmas day,
If you want to be happy, give something away."
So he sent a fat turkey to shoemaker Price,
And the shoemaker said, "What a bird, now how nice;
with such a good dinner set before me,
I'll send my chicken to poor widow Lee.
"This fine chicken, oh see!"
Said the pleased widow Lee,
"And the kindness that sent it, how precious to me.
I would like to make someone as happy as I,
I'll send washwoman Biddy, my big pumpkin pie."
And "Surely," Biddy said, " 'tis the queen of all pies,
Just to look at its yellow face gladdens my eyes.
Now it's my turn, I think, and a sweet sugar cake
For the motherless Finnegan children I'll bake."
Said the Finnegan children, Rose, Denny and Hugh
"It smells sweet of spice, and we'll carry a slice
To poor little lame Jake who has nothing that's nice."
Oh, I thank you and and thank you!" said little lame Jake
"I'll save all the crumbs, I won't waste a one
And give them to the little sparrows that come."
The sparrows they twittered as if they would say,
Like old gentleman Gray, "on a great Christmas day,
If you want to be happy, give something away."
Christmas Journal - I started a Christmas Journal when we got married. Each year everyone who has been with us on Christmas day has written a line or two in the book. The last couple of years it fell by the wayside but I dug it out again and we are writing in it today. I want to record these special memories, thoughts and feelings for us to remember for years.
Bethlehem Dinner - On Christmas Eve we have a Bethlehem dinner, eating traditional Jewish food from Christ's time. We sit on pillows on the floor in the living room & eat with our fingers with only the Christmas lights, candles and some Christmas music in the background. Last night the menu was broiled fish, Bulgar pilaf, raisins, grape juice, pita bread & goat cheese. After dinner, we watch the Nativity on TV or read the story from the scriptures or do the candlelight nativity. It is my favorite part of Christmas. I always feel so peaceful on Christmas Eve. (A side note for keeping it real purposes- Ryan was very sick yesterday so I enjoyed our Bethlehem dinner while he laid on the couch with a bowl nearby. It was still fun to watch the Nativity & Joy to the World DVDs together in the Christmas light.)
Christmas Devotional - I wrote a Christmas Devotional book 6 years ago and I love it. This is the first year that it really took off and I have loved reading it with Ryan. One thing I love about it is that it begins on Nov. 30 and goes until Jan. 1 which helps carry the feelings of Christmas into the New Year. The book includes ideas for activities that go along with the devotional for the day. A new tradition that I am gleaning from Alisa is that I will choose an activity for that day and put it in a red envelope to be opened each morning after our devotional. I am so excited about the red envelopes! Some days it will say "Listen to Christmas music all day!" or others may have a more involved activity.
Ornament - Every year we each have had a new Christmas ornament in our stockings on Christmas day. I have always tried to find ornaments that say something about that person or the events of the year. This coming year Ryan will turn 12 yrs old and be old enough to receive the priesthood. This year's ornament has a picture of the three Wisemen and says "Wisemen still seek Him". We talked about him being old enough to seek the Lord and do His work and what he must do to prepare. We talked about the trials that the Wisemen might have endured to get to the Savior. My ornament for this year is a picture of a Phoenix on a silver square. I choose a phoenix because their tears are healing and they rise from the ashes. I wanted it on silver to remind me of the Savior's purifying process. For me, it symbolizes this past year.
A bit of a twist- we are going to exchange our ornaments on Christmas Eve as part of our Bethlehem dinner and enjoy our new ornaments all Christmas day.
Lastly, a tradition that Alisa shared with me that we are going to start next year. We are going to get new PJ's the weekend after Thanksgiving and get to wear them all December. I think it will be fun to have them washed & comfy for Christmas. Plus we will get to have tons of fun memories in them each year - drinking hot cocoa, watching movies, devotionals, etc.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I grew up in the Hood River Valley, a tiny, somewhat isolated, beautiful valley in the Columbia River Gorge. The valley has the ideal conditions for growing fruit and produces 3% of the nations pears as well as tons of apples, cherries and some peaches. When the weather warms up each year the trees blossom and become seas of flowers. It is absolutely beautiful.
Occasionally, we would have a few weeks of warm weather suddenly followed by a return of winter weather. The blossoms would be frozen on the trees, unsure of what was going on in the mixed up seasons. Families would spend the cold nights lighting smudge pots that would burn and warm up the orchards trying to protect the harvest. We would wake up to a black sooty cloud over the valley. Those years would be fraught with worry - the bees could not pollinate in cold weather, the blossoms would break off. How much fruit would grow that season? Everyone in the valley depended on the fruit so the worry could be a tangible thing. All would work as hard as they could and prayers became a bit longer & much more earnest as we put the trees in the Lord's hands.
They say adoption is about love. Well, I have learned that for me, Motherhood is about time. Time to have morning devotional, time to eat a real meal together, time to work on a project together, time to talk, time to read together, time to wrestle & play, time to tuck-in bed & discuss the day, time to work together, time to create a home not a hotel, time to plan, time to sing, time to cook, time, time, and more time.
I have always wanted to a be a mother. My biggest worry in college was trying to figure out what to study if I didn't get to be a mom. I really didn't want to do anything else. Before I met Tim, I wanted to have 8 kids. I grew up the oldest of 6 (plus a few extras along the way) and I learned at a young age that kids are more important than stuff. When I met Tim, I knew his personality was more of a 3 or 4 kids kind of guy so I settled in with the idea of having a small (to me) family. When Ryan arrived, I was ecstatic to be in the mothering season of life. Over the years, I have had to work more than once. My heart ached, but I always felt like it was a temporary chill in my otherwise warm spring season.
Since the divorce, I feel like the fruit trees caught blossoming in an ice storm. I don't know what season I am in anymore and I feel stranded between mothering and working. I know how important this mothering season is and yet I feel so powerless as we go through this storm. At times, I feel like I am trying to breathe the choking soot from the smudge pots of necessity in my life right now. I am limited in what I can do and feel that the harvest truly is in the Lord's hands.
My mom was almost always home growing up. And dad, if I never said thank you, I am saying it now. Thank you! As a teen, we would all come home and tell her all about our day, good & bad. On the rare occasion that she wasn't home, we would go about our afternoon but when she did get home a bit latter, the moment to tell her about our day was past. My good friend Kim made me a sign this last Mother's Day that says "The Joy of Motherhood Comes in Moments." I believe that. Mothering is moments. Moments when your kids' hearts are open, moments of sharing, moments of teaching, moments of sharing. The season of motherhood is a collection of moments.
I have come to realize that my pre-teen (as he likes to be called) needs my time even more than he did as a toddler. Teens only share or listen when the mood strikes them and if you miss that moment, it is gone. Also, they can get into so much more trouble. There are four of us ladies at work that are mothers returning to the workforce this year. Last week we were discussing the stress our families are under and the balancing act we are trying to perform. One lady had received a call from a detective that week as her son had been contacted by an online predator. He is in 6th grade. We talked about the critical hours between 3 & 5 when our kids were without any supervision. My good friend Alisa picks Ryan up from school and drops him off to me everyday so that he is not home alone and so that I don't miss that moment with him. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
So, what am I trying to say? For me, mothering and working are two different seasons of life and trying to mix the two has left me confused, stressed, and the harvest in danger. Mothering is a full-time job for me, not until Ry is in school, but until he is gone on a mission. I child-proofed our home when he was a toddler, I now feel that I need to youth-proof our life to safely get him to adulthood.
So, what am I going to do? Right now, pray even harder that we can make it until May. I am starting to look for other jobs at the school, something that will not require my time 24/7. I will take a severe pay cut, but right now, my mothering time is priceless. If I don't make every effort, the harvest will be lost.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
So a few months ago my good friend Megan posted a link to a blog of a friend of her relative or something like that who chronicled her divorce. Interested, I followed the link and began reading. After a while, I meandered through the blog's list of links on the side. One said "Pepper" and since I once knew a Pepper, I always click on that name. For the first time ever, it was MY Pepper! Pepper is one of the younger sisters to one of my mission companions. I lived with their family for some six months after my mission. I LOVE their family and over the years we have lost touch. Of course, Pepper had links to her sisters' blogs and it was so fun to time travel over the last 10+ years. But it gets better. One sister (Paige) mentioned her kids attending Capitol Hill Academy. Suddenly bells went off in my head and after some internet detective work, I am 99% sure that Capitol Hill Academy is run by non other than Megan's mom! How is that for a small world!
Monday, December 22, 2008
*Birthday & Christmas gifts from Missouri
*Christmas gifts from 3 loving sisters
*12 Days of Christmas from sisters & a wonderful ward family. So much fun looking forward to the next gift.
*Food, food, and more food- Oranges, candy, fudge, cookies, turkeys, and a huge rubbermaid tub from the Fostercare association.
*New, beautiful stockings from a sweet sister I have never met.
*New-to-Ryan freestanding basketball hoop that two wonderful hometeachers found & delivered.
*Beautiful Christmas music on my new-to-me IPOD from a sweet sister & wonderful friends.
*Christmas cards from angels, especially from my in-laws. It means so much for them to reach out to us right now.
I wrote a Christmas devotional book a few years ago but every year it would fall by the wayside. It has been a treasure to have Ryan remember it each day and read the stories & scriptures together.
Thank you for a wonderful Christmas. It has been hard but it has also been sweet, tender, touching and treasured. Thank you my angels.
Dad- they are in the mail!
The mailman brought me the next best thing to Lasik this morning:
Lastly- I have a million posts written in my head (or at least started) so you may hear multiple times a day from me as I don't have time to write when school starts up again. Love you all!
Saturday, December 6, 2008
We went to the Journey to Bethlehem program last night. A local church puts on an outdoor (yes it was freezing!) program where we walk through the woods to Bethlehem and meet all sorts of camps of people dressed in biblical clothes & campfires that teach us about Christ's birth. Eventually we got to a huge market place were we danced Jewish dances and then found the baby Jesus in the stable. We have gone 6 years now and it was the best one last night. This church works for 6 months to put this on and they do such a good job. I am so glad we went.
We put up our tree on Tues. night. Both events this week have been bittersweet, but not for the reason that you would think. As we were putting up the tree, Ry made the comment, "Who will put up the angel?" and then answered his own question "I will." In the past that has always been Tim's job. However, other than the angel, it was a year just like every other year, it was just the same. It suddenly hit me. We never put up the tree as a family. Tim always said, "just have you & the kids do it." And we always left the angel for him when he came home. He did go with us once or twice to the Journey to Bethlehem, but again, most of the time, the kids & I went while he worked late. My heart ached with the realization that we had missed opportunities to create family memories. Yet, I was grateful that those mistakes made this year a bit easier. Bittersweet.
I have been realizing mistakes that I made over the years and I share this only to help others not to fall into the same traps I did. With our hectic lives, it is easy to fall into the "divide & conquer" trap in marriage. To alleviate the stress Tim was under during Law School and opening his practice, I took on most of the stuff at home - the budget, the calendar, the kids, the cooking, the cleaning, the traditions. That temporary need became a way of life for us and it led to a disconnect in our family. In the last few years, it was very difficult to bridge the gulf, to try to establish meaningful family times. If I could do things over again, I would not "divide" the labors of a family but seek for ways to work together which, for me, it is much harder to do because it requires more planning, flexibility and time. I would care less about bedtime for the kids and more about decorating the tree as a family, even if it meant staying up to midnight.
So, this holiday season, learn from my mistakes and take the time to celebrate the season together, even if it means you do less. It this case, less is more.