Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Only One Word

As 2010 winds down and comes to an end, I have reflected on the events that have comprised the memories in my mind. This has been a very trying year in many ways and we could look back with either negative or positive reflections...we have chosen to look back in a positive way and will always think of 2010 as one of the BEST years of our life together.

Many changes have taken place. Some were calculated and some were surprises. Tests and trials came but so did joys and triumphs. Lessons were learned and more importantly, many good lessons were reinforced. We have been so incredibly blessed that it would be absolutely impossible to make a list of all of the blessings and tender mercies from the Lord. Sufficeth it to say that Brad and I both are humbled by all that we have and all that we are able to become.

I mentioned last year that I don't make New Years Resolutions. Not because I think there is anything wrong with them, just that I know ME and I know that my best intentions may not become realities and then I will self-depricate and beat myself up over my perceived failures. So my solution to this is to choose just one word that will become my word for the year. Last year I chose "Significance". So every decision I made during the year had to have some significance. I printed it up, framed it and put it in my home so I could be reminded daily of the "word".

After much pondering and soul searching, I have chosen my new word for 2011...My new word is "Focus". I feel that I have had a lack of focus in many areas of my life and desire to re-focus (if you will) on the really important (or significant) things of life. I am excited and looking forward to implementing this word into my daily endeavors.

So as we wind down 2010 and ring in 2011, I pray that all of you will have a very healthy, happy, prosperous and "focused" New Year! God bless you all...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy Birthday, Anthony!!

This adorable little guy turned 4 years old yesterday (look at those eyes!!). Anthony is my second oldest *Little* and he is my first grandson. I A.D.O.R.E. this little boy and miss him terribly (he lives in Idaho and I don't see him as much as I would like to).

I called him yesterday to wish him a happy birthday and he was bubbling over with excitement as he told me about all of his presents AND his new sled...this is what a sled was when I was a kid:

and this is what HIS sled looks like:

All dressed up and ready to ride!
Last year he jumped on a "sled" and took off. It was a bit scary, but adorable as he rode off with his dad frantically running after him since he had no clue how to stop the thing! His dad caught him and all's well that ended well.

Anthony is a precocious, very smart little man. His vocabulary is off-the-charts and he has the ability to explain things with precise detail. He sounds more like a 6 year old rather than a 4 year old and he constantly makes me laugh. Tonight when I was talking to him on the phone he said, "hold on Nana, I have to scratch my butt"...I about died laughing!

So I wish this sweet little boy a VERY happy birthday and want him to know that he melts my heart. I can't wait to see him again...soon!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Storm Fall-Out

Sunday night was crazy! It had rained pretty much throughout the entire day and melted most of the snow that was on the ground. Around 9:30 PM, Brad called me to the front door and I was SHOCKED at what I saw:
We figured there were about 8" of water on our lawn and then when we woke up this morning, this is what we saw:
The *Littles* slide on the front left of the picture was in the back of the yard.
We have a "dungeon" basement under our bedroom...this is what it looked like this morning!
We measured 26"...

**at 11:07 PM last night, the water had risen to the bottom of the pipe on the right side of this picture!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Among the Ashes

This past Friday, the Provo Tabernacle burned, was gutted and is pretty much a complete loss. This beautiful gabled building was filled with beautiful art and has housed many concerts and musical programs. Even my mother has performed in this iconic building which was built in the 1880's by the Mormon pioneers. As far as I know, the cause of the fire was faulty electrical.

It took more than 24 hours to get the fire out as firefighters fought it the entire day and through the night. I watched with great sadness as I saw the flames ravage the entire edifice. It was so cold that the water used to douse the flames froze on the trees and bushes around the building.
What is so amazing, is that when they were finally able to go into the building on Saturday, this is what they found:

On closer look...
The painting before being burned...
"The Second Coming" by Harry Anderson
The entire picture was scorched except for the actual image of Christ. It gave me chills!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Playing Catch-Up!

I have been away from my computer for the past week as I have given it to my hubs to use because Aja's is on the blink and we loaned his to her...whew! Since he works out of the home and sequesters himself in his office all day, I haven't had a chance to get on other than in the wee hours of the morn while he is still asleep. So I have stolen it away for a few moments because I have missed all of you so much.

This past week has been crazy busy! Over the weekend, I got roped into watching 3 of my *Littles* the ENTIRE WEEKEND, at the last minute because Aja's babysitters bombed out on her as she was literally walking out to door to leave town on Friday. So of course I had to step in and help her out...man oh man do those little ones wear me out! I adore them and they were PERFECT, but they are so high energy, full of questions and dependant on me for pretty much everything...I came home Sunday night and collapsed into my comfy bed at 7:30!!

Brad and I spent Monday together doing a little shopping and taking in a movie. I can't even remember what we saw (I guess it was that good, lol). Whatever it was, I remember liking it but not loving it...oh, it was "Unstoppable" with Denzel Washington...Anyway, we had a good day and it was awesome to have some alone time with him doing whatever...Tuesday we went to the temple and basked in the spirit there. It felt good to escape the craziness of the holiday season and just soak in the peace and tranquility that abides there. Wednesday I wrapped presents and yesterday I had a modeling job in Provo from 8:30 - 11:30 AM. It was a photo shoot for a previous video we shot. It's for "Dentrix" (they make software for Dental offices). It was so nice to reunite with the same cast and crew for this shoot. We had a great time and the crew was so good to us feeding us breakfast AND lunch (for a 3 hour job??) they were amazing...I hope to work for them again...and they pay GREAT! After the photo shoot, I finished up my shopping while I was in the valley.

So that's my week in a nutshell...but here's what I really want to blog about...

I have finished and wrapped all of the gifts I have bought and made for my family. (I have to send a few off in the mail today...then I'm really done!). It's a great feeling to be done and to have the opportunity to really enjoy the next week and a half. But what's really great is that I spent considerably less this year and I feel really good about it!

You see, for the past 30 years, I have gone COMPLETELY OVERBOARD with my shopping. Every year I have spent way too much, even though I had the money and paid cash for everything, I always felt a little guilty. Don't get me wrong, I have loved watching my children and other family members get excited when they opened the piles of gifts in front of them on Christmas morning. And it has never been about gifts for me...I couldn't care less about getting anything. But somewhere along the line, I got it into my head that Christmas was the time to buy everything that these sweet people whom I dearly love have ever wanted or needed  (to some degree).

I didn't do that this year! I forced myself to exercise restraint and I tried to be careful in what I selected for them. I tried to put a lot of thought into each gift and I limited myself to a {{gasp}} budget! And guess what?? It has been the best Christmas shopping experience I have ever had! Really!!

I have watched each year as my *Littles* are bombarded with piles of neatly wrapped packages placed in front of them. I have seen them become frustrated as they have opened something, wanted to immediately play with it while being told "don't take it out of the box yet, look how many more you HAVE to open!" Although they are happy with the final outcome, they are quite simply overwhelmed and just want to enjoy each gift as it comes...

So this year is different. I have tried to focus on the more meaningful things about Christmas. I have tried to explain to the girls the "why" behind the holiday while enjoying the festivities of the traditional celebrations. Of course I want them to have fun and get excited about Santa's impending arrival, but it's time to really begin to understand the true meaning of Christmas.

So that's what's been going on. I am more relaxed than ever and I am able to really enjoy the festivities of the holiday. Why oh why did I not figure this out earlier?? 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Walls & Bridges

In the last post I did on my son and his addictions a few months ago, I  mentioned that I had built a fortress around my heart where he was concerned. This is something that has really troubled me, but when you are the mother of a drug addict and have been lied to, stolen from and completely deceived in ways that are too numerous to mention, it's difficult not to protect yourself from more pain.

I am thrilled to say that I am now starting to build a bridge from my heart to his! I received a call last month from some random number. Generally I am hesitant to answer such calls but I felt that for some reason, I needed to answer this one. It was Tyler, my beautiful boy, who sounded hesitant to talk to me. When I asked who's phone he was using, he said he didn't want to say so I dropped it (I mean, who cares? He called me and that's all that mattered!)

After speaking with him a few minutes, he came clean and proceeded to tell me that he had checked himself into a rehab facility and would be there 7 days to detox...7 days will detox the chemicals from his body, but will NOT detox his mind from using...I was frustrated because he has been in rehab before and has used the very day he got out...but something was different in his voice. He asked me if I could come down to visit him the next day.

I did just that. As I drove down the mountain, my head was racing with all kinds of thoughts. I was anxious to see him again (it had been several months) but at the same time I felt...guarded. The intense emotional pain that this precious soul has brought into my life and the lives of my girls has, at times, seemed unbearable. I shed a few tears, but made it safely to the facility only to find out that I missed visiting hours by TWO minutes. I plead with the sweet little girl at the front desk to call up and see if I could just have 5 minutes with my son. She was so understanding and did just that...I was in.

My heart began to race as I walked down the seemingly endless hall and faced the locked doors. As I pushed the intercom button, I could see through the heavy glass doors and I saw him! He was waiting at the door for my arrival and had a huge smile on his face. Tears flooded my eyes as I saw my baby boy locked in this madhouse of dysfunctional people who are struggling for their very lives.

As the door was opened, he ran to me like an anxious 3 year old, and hugged me like he has never hugged me before. I melted into his arms and felt more love from him than I have in years. He was so grateful to see me. We went into a room with 2 chairs and he began to tell me the devastating details of his latest escapades in the dark world of drugs and addictions. We both cried as we held each others hands and I listened intently as he continued to recount the dark days of the past few days, months or even years...I don't really know, he just talked and it was good.

We only had about 8 minutes before we were interrupted by his doctor who was making her rounds. I politely excused myself, had one last embrace and reached up to kiss his cheek. As my lips touched the scruffy skin of his face, I was surprised to feel how cold it felt and a shiver went up my spine. As the doors closed and locked behind me, I walked out of his sight, turned the corner and dropped to my knees consumed by huge heaving sobs. I was haunted by the coldness of his skin and pictured him lying in a casket in a funeral home somewhere. It was a morbid, horrible thought, but very real and it shook me to my core. At that very moment I knew that he will die if he doesn't get this problem worked out.

We spoke later that day and I relayed to him my feelings of his impending death. He listened and told me that he too realized that death was the next step if he didn't get help. I expressed to him my doubts about 7 days of rehab...it is NOT A VIABLE OPTION. So we spoke of God.

This boy was raised in a strong, religious home with a strong belief in God. His judgments have become clouded and unfortunately God has been pushed out of his life by the choices he has made. So I proceeded to admonish him to "find God, I don't care where, just find Him or you will be dead!" I pleaded with him to listen to me and trust me when I tell him that he HAD to find an outpatient group that will support him and help him work some sort of a 12 step program. I know they can work and I know that Ty can overcome this hideous addiction, but I know that he can ONLY do it if he rebuilds his relationship with the Lord and turns his life over to him.

I am happy to say that since he has been out, he is now actively going to meetings; HA (Heroin Anonymous), CA (Cocaine Anonymous) and AA. He attends 5-6 nights a week and he is working the program.

I know with all my heart that total sobriety is possible, but I also know that he has a very long road to go down and that 6 months, 1 year even 2 years clean is not a lot...the ugly head of the monster is always around the corner and waiting to consume him. But, he is on his way and this time he is taking the right steps in the right direction to find the help he needs. Make no mistake, he has been clean before for long periods of time (1 year +) and he has relapsed, but he has never before gone to any sort of outpatient support and I am proud of him.

So now he takes it one day at a time.  We talk almost everyday (we used to speak maybe once every couple of months) and we really talk now. He shares his heart and I share mine which is so full of love for this child. I hope I can post again in several months and report that he is still clean and sober...not sure if I can, but I will continue to pray and put my trust in the Lord that He will help this beautiful boy regain/reclaim his life. But the one thing I know is that the bridge from my heart to his is being built and it feels so much better than living behind the walls of the fortress.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Decorating Traditions

With all the extreme cold temps and mounds of snow that we have been receiving lately, my hubs and I decided to get our house decorated ASAP. Since I had to work on the infamous Black Friday, we decided to pull everything out the following Saturday. It was a mess, but well worth the effort.

My house is so tiny and moving from 4000 sq. ft. to 900 sq. ft. has been an adjustment that I still haven't quite gotten used to...but I'm getting there. I have accumulated SO many Christmas decorations over the years that I simply could not fit into my house. So my girls has benefited greatly as a result! Now when I go to their homes, I am flooded with the sweetest memories of their childhoods...and my *Littles* are so proud to show me their "new" decorations {{wink}}. It brings me so much joy to see their little faces light up as they enjoy the very same things that their mommies loved when they were little.

But when they come to my house, they are drawn immediately to one specific thing...it's a basket of Christmas books. I set it just next to my tree and every year, I buy at least one new children's Christmas book and put it in a big basket with all of the others. My *Littles* ADORE this basket and are constantly perusing it for "just-the-right-story"...sometimes they even read them to me...and they don't even read yet!! BTW, if you live in Utah, Seagull books has a table of children's Christmas books that are marked down as much as 90%!!. I have picked up books for as little as .49 !!
It's just a little tradition that I started many years ago and it has grown so much that I have even had to give some of the books away (to my *Littles*, of course!)
I love my Christopher Radko tree...of course, not ALL of the ornaments are Christopher Radko;)
Oh, and this is what I won at Bunco the other day...
Isn't is adorable? Each mug has a topper that keeps your beverage hot...Soooo cute! (I apologize for the quality of my photos...one day I'll figure this camera out!)

And then I bought this little guy for $3.00 at an awesome store called "All That Stuff In The Barn" which is literally a block from my house, I love him:
So I'm just curious, what are some of YOUR favorite "traditions" or decorating ideas??

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas & Black Friday

I have never participated in the whole Black Friday phenemon until this year and I only did so because I picked up a part-time job at the "Guess" store at the Outlet Mall in Park City, UT. Prior to working that day, I had only worked one other day in that store.

I went in at 8:00 AM and worked until 5:00 PM. It was busy, but not crazy busy like the managers had hoped...maybe because it was about 3° outside and why in the world would anybody shop at an outdoor mall instead of opting for a warm, cozy indoor mall??

Early in the day, I loved working with the customers. A lot of families came in together and to watch mothers and daughters/daughter-in-laws shop together was a lot of fun. I was working the Fitting Rooms and I had several Mother-in-laws turn to me after I put their DIL in a room, and say, "Isn't she a doll?" or "I just love that girl...my son is a lucky man". It was great to hear such kind sentiments and to see such love exchanged between these people...But, as the day wore on, I saw people bickering and snapping at each other. I watched as spoiled, entitled daughters pitche little fits when their mothers told them something didn't look so great on them or made them limit their purchases. It became very exhausting and it really made me stop and think about this whole festive holiday.

I was kind of disappointed to see people SO caught up in the "shopping" aspect of things that they treated people with disrespect. It was a major contradiction in my eyes, but I don't want to judge, I just want to be aware and turn my focus in another direction.

I would absolutely love Christmas if I didn't get even one gift! And I sincerely mean that. What I love the very most about this holiday is the honor paid to Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. I love the sights, smells, the colors, music and the anxious anticipation on my *Littles* faces. I love the cheesy Christmas movies, time spent with family and friends. And the foods are just more than I can handle...really...I'm trying to pace myself and it's very difficult.

So here is what I am focusing on this Christmas season:

1. Simplifying. Rather than focusing on what to buy everyone, I'm going try to find ways to serve those I love...of course I will get them presents, but I refuse to go "overboard" like in past years.

2. Stay Centered. In the past I have allowed myself to get so overwhelmed because I would try to do everything...make ALL of the fabulous recipes, the cutest crafts, power shop until I want to drop and go to all of the amazing events going on in our town. I will focus on what I CAN do and know that it will be enough. Everything else, I will admire from afar and file away for possible future use. Things come and go, things can wait, but time with loved ones is more precious than anything else in the world.

3. Remember the REAL meaning of Christmas. Brad and I decided that we will read all of the accounts of His birth found in the Bible. We've read them all before, but this year we will really focus on each account. We want to help out some needy children and their families and play "Secret Santa" to them. But most of all we want to take time to breathe and reflect on the bounteous blessings of our life together.

I love my family and I love all that I have. I don't need anymore clothes, shoes, purses, or trinkets to clutter my house. I have all that I need and I have more than I could have ever dreamed.

Life is amazing. As I reflect back on the trials of this past year, I am forever grateful that my brother's life was spared, for whatever reason, and that he has emerged from his motorcycle accident with no long-term effects. I am so proud of my husband for making the most difficult decision in his life...to leave a 34 year career and start a new business. I can't believe that my dad is still with us (but so glad that he is!) He has endured more physical ailments than anyone I personally know. He is strong and has kept his adorable sense of humor which has brought all of us through some of our darkest moments. He is my hero!

So this Christmas, I have EVERYTHING to look forward to and none of them require wrapping paper, tape, ribbons or bows. I am anxious to watch my *Littles* on Christmas morning as they see what Santa has brought them...but more importantly, I am loving being able to teach them the REAL reason we give and receive gifts and I love that they are learning and understanding the importance of this joyous celebration.

I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy Hanukkah...I hope you all receive all of the important things that bring true joy in life!