Friday, April 15, 2011

Who doesn't love a modern Mormon man?

This blog just launched. Go check it out.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

I Can Do Hard Things: My Motto for 2011

My motto for 2011 really started to formulate itself at the end of the summer last year. One day in August, as Lisa and I spent an entire 24 hours setting up, executing, and cleaning up a yard sale at her house while simultaneously caring for 14 children by ourselves (Ben was in CA, Chris was in the UK), I asked her, "Why are we doing this?" To which she wisely replied (as she always does), "Because, Hailey, we can do hard things! Here's a Diet Coke!" A few weeks later, I packed up my family and drove away from the place I had called home for the past twelve years. Soon after, we found out we had lost our apartment and we boarded a plane, with no idea where we would live when we got off of it. In the weeks that followed, as I took bus trips to and from Boston, experienced intense emotional highs and lows over schooling, and stood on subway platforms looking dazed and confused, Lisa's voice kept re-playing in my head: "We can do hard things!"

These days, when we're supposed to pick up Ethan and Mila from school at 2:55 PM, and it's 2:45 PM and one or both of the twins is half-dressed, crying, needs to pee, can't find shoes, just woke up hungry, angry, both, doesn't want to walk to the school, I just keep my mantra in my head as I muster all the patience I possibly can and plug forward. When it's been 28 degrees outside but "feels like 17," and I'm trying to run to catch a bus and one of the girls trips and falls and loses a boot, but then we make it on the bus and it's full and we try to balance and not fall on the old people as the driver takes off, I can either cry or say to myself, "I can do hard things." When I get too much at the grocery store (for the love, why can't I remember to just buy milk at the 711 below my apartment?) and I physically can't carry it all home and the handles on my re-usable grocery bags break and I have to drag them into the building, I realize, "I can't do THAT hard of things..." So there's definitely a learning curve. But for the most part, it's simple.

The thing is, I am aware that the stuff I'm doing is not even that hard compared to what many people have gone through or are currently experiencing. My ancestors were pioneers in the literal sense, who crossed the oceans and plains, losing many family members all along the way. When I look at pictures of people in Japan crying over their destroyed homes or read accounts from my friends dealing with debilitating illness or infertility, I'm embarrassed at my trials of little consequence. At the same time, I truly believe that practicing doing "hard" things will help us be prepared for when the REAL hard things happen in our lives. If I can cultivate an attitude of "can-do-ness" now, I can only hope it will be there in my pocket when I most need it. In the meantime, it is hard for me to be so physically far away from the people in my life who buoyed me up on a daily basis. It's hard for me to watch my dear childrens' faces as yet another person screams profanities I've never even dreamed of right over their heads. It's hard for me to smell people on the subway. Sorry.

That said, I'm so grateful to have a wonderful apartment to duck into, away from the city smells and sounds. I'm grateful that I have those sweet children to protect and teach. Even if Ben has to work occasional long hours, I am unbelievably happy that he has a job. I'm healthy and still have most of my wits about me and I have the best friends and family a girl could hope for. I get to eat amazing food and watch some awesome TV and I am truly lucky.

But, for this Utah Mormon girl who got used to driving a minivan to Costco and Super Target at least once a week, being able to say, "I can do hard things!" makes all the difference in the world.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

General Conference is a good thing

I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints. I think most of you know that. This weekend we had General Conference, where we get to hear from our Prophet as well as other women and men in leadership positions in our church. I enjoy watching General Conference, but sometimes I forget the little tidbits that stood out to me as I get back to my crazy week. So, without assigning them to any specific speakers, here are some thoughts from the talks:

Charity and gossip can't co-exist. Live within your means, so you have enough left over to help other people. Heavenly Father answers the prayers of His children by using other people as a means to help. "Have I done any good in the world today?" Being married is wonderful--show love and appreciation. Make tithing offerings from the "firstfruits" of your income. Our prophet has devoted more than half his life to service in the church. We must be examples of honesty and integrity wherever we go. Preach the gospel...and use words, if necessary. Explain why a child's actions were incorrect, but do not make the mistake of labeling the child themselves--what they do is different than who they are. On the other hand, praise them for who they are and not just their accomplishments. A child is one thing we can never check off a to-do list as being "done" (so I admit, some days, I really wish this weren't true!) Forgive others. Let it go, leave it alone. Temple attendance is so valuable.

Elder Scott and Elder Holland made me tear up a little. Elder Scott's talk was so sweet and full of tender feelings toward his spouse, and it made me want to be a nicer wife. I love Elder Holland's humility and the power with which he speaks. I've said before that I don't often talk about religion on my blog but living in New York City has helped me to realize that my religious lifestyle is 100% who I am, and I'm fine with that. And if Ethan can talk about Jesus with his friends at recess, then I can certainly say the word Mormon on my blog.

Also, we played General Conference hair salon, with very positive results!

Friday, April 01, 2011

Ethan is 8

That title basically sums up the last month of my life. Well, that and a wedding/trip to Arizona somewhere in the middle there, but mostly it's been about the boy child. I started out writing this post on February 25th, the day he actually turned 8, but then life got all kinds of busy crazy, as it tends to do.

8 facts about Ethan:

1. Ethan has a birthday twin. I called Rachel on the morning of February 25th, 2003, to give her my baby news. She said something to the effect of: "Dude, I'm in labor!" And later that evening, Emma was born. Ethan was one week overcooked and Emma was two weeks ahead of schedule, so they apparently had an agenda! Here they are at 6 months:

2. When he was about 15 months old, I tried to give him a haircut. It did not turn out very well and so Ben got out the trimmers to fix it. As Ben was trimming the back of his head, the attachment fell off, and it made a huge bald spot. I stood there and bawled as I watched Ben shave the rest of my baby's golden locks off to match the gaping baldness. We left to AZ for a funeral right after, and I spent lots of time giving the evil eye to people who stared in public. I cried inside when relatives at the funeral said, "What a beautiful little girl!"about Mila. And then, "Oh, have a boy!" Unfortunately, the hair really makes the baby in some cases, as we learned the hard way. Basically, he went from:

this... this. Poor kid.

3. Right after he turned two, he really wanted a duck.

Incidentally, whenever he used to get mad at me as a 3 year old, which was a lot, he'd say, with all the rage he could muster, "Mom, if you don't stop saying that, I'm going to turn you into a DUCK!!"

4. When he was 3, Ethan developed a weird, bumpy rash all over his leg. We found out it was called Lichen Striatus. It doesn't hurt you in any way, it just kind of shows up and looks really creepy for a few months, then disappears. The doctors that diagnosed it were totally pumped because they had never seen it in real life, and they got to get out their special picture books and show me really gross pictures. But now, I wish I had taken a picture of Ethan's, because he would have loved to show his friends today.

5. Ethan never went through a train or superhero phase. He saw Cars when he was 3, and so Lightning McQueen reigned supreme for a few years, mixed in with some Scooby-Doo, until he discovered a little thing called Star Wars. Then it was all Jedi, all the time. Today, he still loves Star Wars, but he is also into Indiana Jones and Harry Potter.

6. Ethan was the nicest baby on the planet. He smiled at everyone and went to everyone. Just super pleasant and happy all around. Today, he is social and outgoing and loves to make his friends laugh. His church and school teachers tell me that he is a natural leader and the other boys in the class watch him to see how he will react in different situations (I don't know where he gets it from! No, seriously, I really don't.) He's not always happy. If he's upset with me, I know it. He has a crusty pout to rival all others. He also seems to enjoy butting heads with his older sister, because they certainly manage to do it a lot. But he also prays for Heavenly Father to listen to the prayers of homeless people, which melts my heart.

7. These days, his favorite things are frozen yogurt tubes, pizza, Top Ramen, Chinese food, playing board games as a family, Lego XBox games, his Nintendo DS, his cousins, his stuffed animals, play dates with friends, recess, Sponge Bob Square Pants, Cub Scouts, chasing the twins, going to the park, reading Harry Potter, and pretending to be embarrassed when he's snuggling with mom. His least favorite things are homework, bullies, his church pants, any pants (they never fit right!), Mila bossing him around, not being able to run around outside with friends, most of school, and being teased about liking Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez (to my knowledge, he doesn't like either, so I don't know why it's so funny to tease him about them. It just is.)

8. I love him a lot. He stole my heart when he was born and has yet to give it back.

Next up, the 8th birthday party...