Sunday, April 8, 2018

There's a House in the Road

Sometimes you can have a lovely morning. Peaceful, even. Well, almost peaceful. In this house it is nearly impossible to achieve total peace. Nevertheless, it was a good morning. The kids even got the Expedition converted from work vehicle to family vehicle without having to be told. And then we started the drive to church.

There was a house on the road. On the road that was the quickest there was a house blocking the way. This is not a common occurrence, but not unheard of when one lives in the country. It's always a good idea to have an alternate route. We went a different, slightly longer way. That was not a good idea. There was a traffic jam. On Sunday. On the highway. We eventually found a way around but our usual 25 minute trip was doubled. I did not arrive remotely peaceful. That did change. It could not help but change. It was a testimony meeting.

Sometimes our familiar path is blocked and the alternate is not any better. What do we do? Just keep moving. The goodness will come. Maybe in 50 minutes. Maybe in 50 years. One of the quotes from conference that seemed pertinent today "Success isn't the absence of failure, but going from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm."

I may not be very good at maintaining my enthusiasm, Persistence. I can be persistent. (Kermit calls it stubbornness. But I'm trying to be kind to myself.) When I can't quite make it to enthusiastic, at very least I know where I can find solace. With a healthy dose of solace I can regain my equilibrium and move forward.

There is a house on the road I want to travel. I'm certain there is a life metaphor here. Something about obstacles. Could be a house or traffic or, since we are in the country, a cow. Maybe some days none of the roads are good. We just have to keep moving forward. And if we arrive at the end a little frazzled and battered and bruised, it's OK. There will be Someone at the end who knows how to heal that.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Day 2

I have discoverd that the hard day is the day after the child leaves. This is the first day I did not see or hear from my daughter. No text to let me know where she was. No grumpy wake-up. No hug. She spent so much time out of the house it wouldn't seem to make that much difference. But it does. It could also be the 10 second phone call to let us know she had arrived safely. Kermit said she sounded a bit weepy. I hate that.

Monday, December 11, 2017

How Are You Feeling, Mom?

How are you feeling?

This is the question I have been getting almost constantly since Hannah decided to join the US Marine Corps. "How are you feeling?" comes with a lot of meanings and undertones. Some are really concerned for my well-being. Some are curious, maybe not sure how they would react in similar circumstance. Some are trying to reassure themselves. "How are you feeling?" is almost always well-meant.

The truth is I am fine. My daughter is amazing. During her senior year of high school she put a lot of thought into what she would do with herself after graduation. Just about every week there was a new plan. About two weeks before graduation she mentioned that she has talked to a recruiter. That conversation evolved into a strong desire and then a resolve to join the Marines. Through all this I knew (and have always known) that whatever she decided to do, Hannah Monzingo would be fantastic.

This particular path was a small surprise, and then again it was not. We have strived to raise independent, responsible, service-minded human beings. It cannot be a true surprise that once the children grow to adulthood they choose to serve, whether it is in the mission field or in the military.

How am I feeling?

I am proud of her decision to serve. I am confident in her ability to do well. I am joyful with her happiness. My Hannah is dynamic and resilient and intelligent and strong and caring. While we were not tear-free at parting, I cannot feel sad. My baby bird has learned to fly. Now she has the opportunity to soar.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

A Little More Gratitude

I think I'm going to have to accept that I'm not going to get to all 30 "days" of gratitude. I found it too late. But I will share a few more before I move on to a different theme.

What place are you most grateful for? 
This one is easy to answer. Home. I am grateful for home. My home is not fancy, the kitchen sink drips, the shower in the back bathroom leaks, the carpet is terrible, the cabinets are cheap and the electrical wiring has issues. With all it's problems, it is home. I am grateful to even have a home. I suppose I would be grateful for any place that my family could gather. That is really what home is. Family.

What talent or skill are you grateful for?
I have several talents. I am most grateful for creativity. I think it is innate in all of us. Sometimes we only appreciate creativity in the arts. That is what is most visible. Creativity helps us to solve problems. Daily. It is as useful in designing a new costume or figuring out how to get kids to all their various activities.

What small thing today are you grateful for? 
I got a short nap after I got the kids off to school. It was glorious.

What knowledge are you grateful for?
I am grateful for the knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God loves us. Families are forever. We can be like Him.

This is by no means an end to gratitude. We can give thanks every day. I try to live thankfully. Thankfulness leads to the next theme. Light the world. 25 ways to try live like the Savior.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A Few More Days of Gratitude

Yesterday was a long, tiring day. I ended up working all day and didn't get home until late. We did get our Christmas tree up. The kids just wanted to get that done. Truthfully, so did I. I love the holiday. I like decorating for Christmas. Every year the challenge is where to put the tree. If I didn't move the furniture around we might have an idea of what to do with that thing. Also, we have a tall tree. It doesn't quite fit where I want. I suppose it . would be wise to find a slightly shorter tree, but we like this one. It's pre-lit. The lights change from white to colorful with the click of a button. We don't have to argue about which lights to put on. We have both. 

Here it is. Not the best picture. If I had bothered to get up out of my chair I might have been able to get a better one. I refer back to the super long yesterday. And my chair has a nasty habit of sucking the life out of all who sit upon it. Just can't move. Despite the bad picture, I love our tree. I love the mismatched, homemade ornaments. I live the strings of red and gold and pearly beads. I love my quilted tree skirt. The ornaments are the best though. They represent family. Almost all of them were crafted by kids or grandparents or me. Those that were not handmade were gifted by loved ones. It is a tree full of love. I am grateful for our family Christmas tree.

Speaking of gratitude, I have a few more to share.

5. What sound are you grateful for today? Laughter. Today and everyday. Especially my children's laughter. It's happiness and hope all bundled together.

6. What in nature are you grateful for? The sky. I love a lot of things about nature, but I really appreciate the sky. I had the opportunity to travel with a touring theatre group right after college. I saw many wonderful, amazing places around this country. We spent the first part of our tour on the East coast. When we were returning to Texas for Christmas break, I noticed how big the sky was. I had missed it. I didn't know I would miss seeing the sky. Some people are uncomfortable with how flat and open the land can be here, but I like it.

7. What memory are you grateful for? It would be easiest to say that I am grateful for memories of my family. While that is true, today I am most grateful for memories of my mistakes. Remembering mistakes can motivate me to be better. To do better. I could chose to wallow in the mistakes and beat myself up about how terrible I am and sometimes I do indulge in that impulse. However, it is not always bad. If I know how I messed up before, I can fix it and avoid it in the future.

8. What book are you most grateful for? Reading is my passion. I am a voracious reader. My Goodreads goal this year was 48. That was an easy target for me. With all the books I've read the one that has influenced and shaped my life most is The Book of Mormon. All the good things in my life have happened because of that book. It's all true. Heavenly Father loves us. Jesus is the Christ. Joseph Smith was the prophet. Putting the precepts and principles found in that book to action has done more good for me and for many, many others.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

30 Days of Gratitude

Thanksgiving has come and gone. We gathered together the day after traditional Thanksgiving Day. The kids protested a bit. But really, any day is good for gathering family and being grateful. I am especially grateful that all my children were present and that my mother could come and that my bother also was present. I wish I had taken more pictures, but I was busy eating and enjoying people.

Look. Good Food.

And good company.

Saturday was family picture day. We spent time at Kaufman Lakes park. I'm not sure that they actually qualify as lakes. Daniel calls them glorified ponds. There are two bodies of water, whatever title a person wants to give them. They did prove to be a nice location for a photo shoot. I think the kids actually had a good time. Kermit might have even had fun, but he wouldn't dare admit it.

My pics aren't as good as my mom's, but that wasn't really the point.

I saw this on Facebook.

 I wish I had seen it at the beginning of November. I've been so abundantly blessed. I feel that I should express some of what I am grateful for. I like this list because it acknowledges the small and simple things. I'll try to list a few. 

1. What smell are you grateful for today? There are a lot of smells I like, but today I thought first about wood smoke. Wood smoke is a smell of Autumn when temperatures finally drop enough for a fire. It can also mean campfires. I like camping. I like roasted marshmallows and hot dogs that are slightly burnt. 

2. Which technology are you grateful for? The home computer. I've participated in my share of frivolous computer activities but I have also accomplished a great deal of work. It has also afforded me the ability to keep in contact with friends and family that live far away.

3. What color are you grateful for? How am I supposed to pick one? I love colors. The orange, yellow and pinks of a Texas sunset. The green of forest trees and fresh Spring grass. The deep purple of midnight sky and the brilliant blue of a summer day. I don't know how to pick one.

4. What tool are you grateful for? The pocket multi-tool my uncle gave me one year for Christmas. I've had it over 20 years and it is the best.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

He's Home

Daniel has been home for about a week and a half now. It has been nice to have all the children at home even if it is for a short space of time.

When he first walked off the plane it was obvious he was feeling a bit overwhelmed. I'm sure it didn't help to have a mass of siblings and one anxious mom mob him. Add to that a long, overnight flight, cooler weather and a bit of culture shock. He handled all very. Lots of patience. He seems to have grown a bit in that regard.

When we finally got home, he toured the house. He looked into every room. Touched things. Commented on a couple of things that had changed since he left. All the while the siblings orbit around him. Every now and then looking or poking at him. I think just to make sure he is really there. The kids were super excited when Daniel started pulling out the treasures he brought from Brazil. The blow dart guns are a hit.

Every now and then we have to remind him to speak English. I love that he speaks Portuguese so very well. Sometimes I just want to listen to him, however we do need to understand what he is saying.

It is obvious how much he loved the people in Brazil. The other missionaries, the church members, the investigators, all of them. The stories have been trickling in and it is plain that the people are dear to him. Maybe I can convince him to share some of them here.

I'm trying to think of a clever way to finish this. Not feeling very successful right now. I'll just end by saying that it is good to have the boy home.