Friday, December 23, 2011

Decemberings

We’re not going home for Christmas this year.  And it’s okay.  Really, it is.  (Except when I think about it too much.)

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We’ve been having all kinds of local Christmas fun.

December 2011 We visited Santa twice.  I’m not sure what was up with this one at Harley’s work party.  He was a little sketch.  And a lot hatless.  But he gave the kids real gifts!

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Anderson and I made these.  Yep.  Christmas craftastic right here people.  Thanks Kelle for the idea.  (Are you reading Enjoying the Small Things yet?  Give yourself the gift of following her.  Best decision you’ll make all year.)

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I’ve been losing stuff lately. It’s ridiculous. My watch, (no, I’m not one of those people who can just look at her phone) items of clothing, and key Christmas presents.  It’s becoming a real problem.

We’ve all been sick and spent a lot of time in our sweats and pjs.  Even in public.  We don’t let it bother us.

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My baby had it the worst.  Double ear infection and difficulty breathing.  It broke my heart.  He had to go on a nebulizer for five days.  At first he HATED it.  Child torture, it was.  But then, overnight, he decided to cooperatively wear it, patiently keep it on for 10 whole minutes 2-3 times a day and not make one bit of fuss. 

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Trooper.

A movie and big brother joining him helped Max’s Mask Time.  (Say that 5 times fast.)

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DSC_0015-1  These moments melt me.

We rewarded Max with special treats.

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Hello peppermint milkshake.  You were a fun holiday discovery.

Allison and Hannah visited and we had such a great time!  Okay, that was technically Octoberings/Novemberings, but still worth sharing a few pictures.  For the whole shebang, go here.

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We were the cast of Despicable Me for Halloween. Gru and his minions.

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We’ve been pulling some big fat triggers on the home decor gun lately. BAM! The dining room and living room are coming together. Just in time to put on Christmas brunch and dinner. I finally have a dining room table! BAM! And really cool statement chairs. BAM, BAM!! Yes, they’ll have you talking, or at least me blogging. Soon… in the new year.

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Michael Buble Christmas  is making my holiday. Manheim Steamroller, on the other hand, is not. In fact, I get stressed out every time I hear this song. I feel the heart attack coming and have to change the station.

We’re fixing to host 11 visitors in four groupings over the next 34 days. Wahoo! Today is the long overdue deep cleaning day. Boooo.

DSC_0120This is what it needs to look like.  This is what it looked like 3 weeks ago.  This is not what it looks like now.

Merry Christmas all.

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Note:  Apparently I’ve been using my ipod touch for pictures a lot this month.  Maybe it’s because I finally got on instagram (yay!  follow me!  w2kdiva, so fun!).  Maybe it’s because our camera lens jammed and is now useless.  (I get sick just thinking about it.  Elves are working hard to fix this one.  Cheryl, so glad you’re coming today because we have to rely on your camera all weekend, mkay?)  Maybe I’m just practicing for my hopeful upgrade come birthday time…

Friday, December 2, 2011

Thankful

It’s been ten years since I’ve had a non-working Thanksgiving holiday with my family.

That’s a long time.  If I think about it too much I get depressed, lonely and homesick.  This year someone asked me what one food item makes me feel like home on Thanksgiving, and I didn’t have an answer.  I don’t know what my family makes on Thanksgiving.  It’s been so long I don’t remember.

DSC_0048We made these Thanksgiving weekend.  Not a family recipe, but a Whoops! Creation.  Rice Krispie Treats with Honey Nut Cheerios instead of Rice Krispies.  The Whoops! came because were out of Rice Krispies.  I don’t recommend the swap. 

We are fortunate to have great friends, who are like family, who take us in to feast and celebrate with them.  Thanks to the Manns we weren’t eating pizza on Thanksgiving.  In fact, we ate like Kings.

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One good thing about being on your own for the holidays is you get to start your own traditions.  Growing up we wrote things we were thankful for on construction paper feathers all month long and stuck them in a wooden turkey.  We’d sit as a family and read them aloud on Thanksgiving night.  I loved this tradition and finally recreated it this year with my own family.

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We don’t have a wooden turkey.  Someday.  For now we used tape and the sliding glass door in the dining room, which actually created a beautiful colored effect every day when the sun hit just right. 

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We had too many feathers for our turkey’s small body. Next year we’ll have to make him bigger. What a nice problem.

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Max is grateful for his recently discovered belly button.

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I am grateful for Max’s recently defined funny faces.  Especially his fishy face.

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Anderson totally got the Thankful Turkey.  Some days he came to me more than a dozen times rattling off everything he could think of that made him thankful, or as he said, made him “thank you.”  It made me happy.  I want to raise grateful children.  I want to create a home where counting blessings is a daily practice.  I want my children to know how blessed we are.

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And blessed we are.

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Two months ago we had a health scare.  October 6th 2011 was one of the worst days of my life.  It started with Harley having appendicitis.  During the appendectomy, the doctor discovered a lesion on Harley’s liver.  The doctor believed it was cancer.  Turns out it’s a hemangioma, a harmless cluster of blood vessels.  It’s nothing.  It’s like a birthmark.  But until the biopsy results defined that nothingness, we treaded through life bracing for the worst.  For six awful days and five long nights we feared we were facing cancer.  Again.

Harley Liver

Scary looking, right?

There’s a whole dramatic story that goes along with the appendectomy.  It includes Harley walking six blocks keeled over in pain to get to our car to drive himself to the emergency room, Anderson running a temperature of 103.5 that morning, me feeling absolutely torn in two:  wanting so badly to be with Harley in the ER but not daring ask anyone to take my sick, potentially contagious, kid.  It was awful.  I felt so alone.  I don’t think I’ve ever wished more for my far away family.  Eventually, I got help with my kids and made it to the emergency room.  There wasn’t enough time to arrange a Priesthood blessing before Harley went into surgery, but there was just enough time for the two of us to pray.  Then we talked to the doctors, then he went into surgery, then I waited.  I felt okay because it was a routine appendectomy and I was with him, right where I should be.  Everything was going to be just fine.  But when the doctor came out of surgery I could tell something wasn’t right.  He showed me the above picture of Harley’s liver and told me he was having it biopsied because he didn’t think it looked good.  That’s when I lost it.  I cried, openly, noisily, in a public waiting room, all alone, surrounded by strangers.  Three women I didn’t know came to my side and hugged me.  They talked to me, sat with me.  They were from out of town.  Their southern accents were friendly and their bright pink lipstick endearing.  I was happy they brought me some comfort but at the same time I was awkward because I’m pathetically crying to complete strangers.

Harley was released from the hospital the next day and we were left to sit around and wait for the biopsy results.  He couldn’t do much, including lift the kids, which prove hardest on Mr. K, who’s quite the fan of his daddy.

October 2011DSC_0023-1 Anderson understood “Dad’s tummy has owies” and tried to comfort Max.

For six days we waited.  Harley healed, didn’t lift kids, dealt with his sore body and we waited more.   Bad results would change our lives, so our lives kind of went on hold while we waited.  Meantime, something else was happening:  Appreciation.  Have you ever lied awake at night and listened to your husband breathe and been so grateful he’s breathing?  I hadn’t, but that week I did.  I would lie awake at night worrying, crying, praying, fearing, worst-case scenario planning.  When you have a scare like that you look at everything differently.  You realize how fragile life is.  You see how good you’ve got it and you didn’t even know it.

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And really, we’ve got it good.

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That week every time I went to get Max out of his crib I hesitated, squatted on his floor and played peak-a-boo with him instead of immediately lifting him out.  This was partly to stall that moment where he’d walk to Harley and be devastated when Harley wouldn’t pick him up and partly because I wanted to enjoy this beautiful child, this gift that was mine to love and appreciate that I didn’t love and appreciate quite as much the week before. 

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We went on a family walk around our neighborhood that Sunday.  Usually Sundays end with me assessing what I got done the week before, planning the week ahead and feeling anxious about the productivity levels of both weeks.  But that Sunday, no task mattered.  I hadn’t looked at my To Do list since Friday (highly unusual) because the To Do list was the least of my worries.  Things like buying a lunchbox for Anderson, figuring out Halloween costumes, getting our luggage fixed, scheduling a hair appointment, wrapping birthday gifts, redeeming Visa points all seemed ridiculous ways to spend my time.  The only thing that mattered that day was taking a leisurely walk with the three people I love most. 

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The weather was perfect.  It was a 76 degree fall day you want to bottle up and bust out again, oh, say, this time of year.   Harley and I walked and talked.  Max squealed at dogs from the stroller.  We stopped and let him “ohhhhhh” over each one.  We met some neighbors.  We didn’t know any of our neighbors until that day.  Why did it take us more than a year living here to stop our busy lives and talk to them?  Anderson rode his tricycle.  We’re working on important street crossing safety skills like “this way, that way, this way again.”  He likes to ride way ahead of us, but he knows the rule:  he has to be able to see us.  His feet work so hard, pedaling fast, speeding ahead.  His breath gets heavy and his face beams with pride.  Then he stops, dismounts, cups his hands around his eyes and looks for us.  Then it comes, “Mom!  Dad!  I can SEE you!  I am SAFE!”  He hops on again.  It’s a simple little pattern he’d done a dozen times, but that day, I adored it more.

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 His number is 3.  Lest you ever forget.

You know what a crisis does?  It changes your perspective.  In our case it was only a potential crisis.  Eventually we got the call.  Benign.  The doctor was wrong. No cancer.  All was well.  Life was no longer on hold.  We could move forward, most immediately with an anniversary trip that now meant much more.  Our lives would not change.  After Harley completely healed, which he has now, we wouldn’t have any reason to think of the entire ordeal.  Yet my outlook had shifted permanently. Had the results been malignant it would have been as though someone yanked the rug out from under us.  Everything would have changed and we would be flat on our backs in real trouble.  That didn’t happen.  He doesn’t have cancer.  The rug was not yanked.  This was just a tug.  A tug of our rug.  Still, it was enough to stop me, to test my footing, to jostle my world and my view of it.  It was enough to halt my To Do list.  It was enough to give me a cause to pause and a reason to realize what is important.

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I wouldn’t wish this trial on anyone and I hope I never repeat it.  Yet I’m grateful for the cause to pause.  I’m grateful for the tug of our rug.  It left me stronger and more aware.  It left me more grateful and more focused.  Appreciation anew settled in and I committed to strive harder to not take for granted my daily blessings.

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That week, Harley and I kept saying we want to squelcher our babies with love and kisses and say, “Do you KNOW how beautiful you ARE? Do you??!”

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My blessings are everywhere.  In fact, the six days of waiting had blessings.  We had incredible experiences.  Beautiful, personal epiphanies and the tenderest of mercies.  Oh how this trial was laced with tender mercies!  Small ones that probably seem silly to anyone else and big ones that I will hold sacred in my heart forever.  How the Lord knows us and how He rescues us and shows us His love in our time of need, when we need Him most.  How comforting to know He has a plan for us.

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Today was a bad day.  In fact, it’s the rotten cherry on top of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week.  The hundred little things that have gone wrong, gone missing, gone broken, gone disappointed this week don’t hold a candle to cancer, but they get me down and I struggle.  I could write a whole post about why I’m bugged/annoyed/grumpy/discouraged this week.  In fact, I was going to, but then I decided to instead finish a post of gratitude I started a month ago.  This post.  Counting my blessings and expressing my appreciation help me get over my blues.  I refocus.  I reprioritize.  I remember that tug of our rug.  I appreciate anew.   I realize how great I’ve got it.  I have so many things to be grateful for.  More than I could ever express on this blog.  Little gratitudes…

DSC_0042I’m not the only one with new rain boots. And I’m not the only one grateful for them. Love does not begin to cover how the boys feel about their boots. Hooray! 

And huge gratitudes.

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Life is good.  Life is fabulous.  We are thankful.  Whole piles of feathers worth.

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Speaking of gratitude, hello and amen!

Monday, November 21, 2011

I Think I’ll Go to Boston

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Harley and I marked eight years of marriage on September 27th.  To celebrate we planned a getaway to Boston.   We’d never been.  We’d always wanted to go.  We’d heard fantastic things.  We had all kinds of hopes and dreams and expectations for this time alone together.

Guess what?  Boston did not disappoint.

DSC_0148One of the best things we did:  walk the Charles River at sunset.

But first things first.  First we ditched the kiddos.  Cheryl was crazy kind to not only take them for a long weekend but also to meet me halfway from Pittsburgh to pick them up at 11pm.  Who does that?

IMG_0544 Goodbye my sweet babies!

IMG_0546 I have THE BEST sister.

Then I got my hair done.  Pretty much whenever I have any kind of free babysitting, I’m taking care of important things.  Like highlights.  Little did I know I was ticketed for speeding TWICE on that errand.  Thanks speed cams, thanks.

IMG_0555Is this color worth two speeding tickets to you?  Yeah, I didn’t think so either.

Kids gone, hair done and blissfully unaware of my speeding tickets, we had just one more crucial stop before we hit the road.

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Some people might dread an eight-hour road trip, but for us, it’s half the fun.  Without kids it was nothing but our music, our treats and our casual conversation.  Sometimes it’s our best way to reconnect.

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One of our main hopes was to find Fall in all her New England glory.  We planned the trip to coincide with peak color changes.

DSC_0403DSC_0047We found her.

DSC_0362DSC_0342DSC_0089I learned I love mums. So happy. So fall. So fun to say. DSC_0261-1

We toured Harvard.  Harvard was lovely.  Harvard was smart.  Oh, and Haaaahhh-vard is for Jessie Spano.  (I couldn’t get it out of my head all day.)

DSC_0003 DSC_0079DSC_0005 DSC_0013We kicked it on campus, acting all Dead Poets.  Except we laid on grass instead of standing on desks.  We’re rebellious like that. DSC_0060 DSC_0052This is what you see when you stretch out on Harvard Yard in the middle of October.

DSC_0081-1With my glasses and Harley’s hand pose we totally pull off ivy league, right?  Riiiiiight.

We shared two of the best almond croissants I’ve ever had in my life.  I’ve have some amazing almond croissants in my day.  I LOVE them.  This one took the cake.

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We wandered around MIT and marveled at the funky architecture.  DSC_0102 DSC_0103 DSC_0105 DSC_0106 DSC_0114-1 DSC_0112-1DSC_0116  DSC_0160

Little known facts about us:  Harley applied to MIT. I was thisclose to applying to Emerson. We both may not have gone to BYU, and instead both gone to schools in Boston.  What different lives we would have led.  Maybe we would have met.  Maybe not.  A little mind boggling to think about our lives the other way.  Or any other way.

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Hello non alma maters.

We saw Blue Man Group.  It was mildly entertaining and mediumly disappointing.  These guys aren’t messing around with that name.  Definitely very blue. I’m grateful for a partner who, independently of me, chooses a theatrical performance over a ball game when we visit a big city.  I know I have a rare find there.  I’m sure Fenway Park is awesome and all, but we share other priorities.

  DSC_0156  DSC_0230 Priorities like bald blue men.

Harley may love theater, but he does not know 1980’s television (outside Star Trek). The man honestly didn’t have a clue when I started singing “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” as we passed the Cheers bar.  He was also lost entirely by my Saved by the Bell reference at Harvard.  Seriously, where was he that decade?  So you know, like with any spouse, you win some, you lose some.

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We strolled the Freedom Trail and hung out at Faneuil Hall.  Rich history intersects with festive marketplace.  I like it.

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Can we talk about my boots for a quick minute?  I love them.  They are comfortable, stylish and the color makes me happy.  Today, a random dude at the mall called them sexy.  Feet down, my best purchase of the season.  Hope you’re not sick of them because I’m going to wear these puppies out.

  DSC_0208DSC_0203 DSC_0204This may be Harley’s 2032 presidential campaign tagline.  You saw it here first friends.

DSC_0212DSC_0224Can we spend another minute on Boston’s food?  There was more than life-altering almond croissants.  Like the best clam chowder EVER.  And lobster rolls the size of my arm.  And my first cannoli, which I actually thought was overrated, but the rest was taste bud heaven.  Not pictured:  the biggest Italian dinner of my life and our fancy seafood feast at Turner Fisheries.

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We did a little scenic-inspired photo shoot, which I gotta tell you, is a totally different experience when it doesn’t involve children.

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We stumbled upon beauty in all forms. DSC_0095DSC_0019DSC_0272DSC_0351DSC_0049DSC_0344DSC_0338

Late at night, curled up in our hotel room, we watched Lost.

DSC_0368 Oh Sayid!  Here we thought you’d actually died this time.  Again.

We visited the Boston temple.  It’s beautiful.

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We stopped in Windsor, Connecticut to see our dear old friends, the Maddens.  Also beautiful.

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Eight years baby.  Five of them in the East.  It was high time we experienced Beantown.  This trip was due.  DSC_0350

And this trip delivered.     DSC_0066

If you didn’t get my title reference then you don’t know me and you don’t even care.