Tuesday, January 31, 2012

31 January 2012

And just like that, the year is 1/12 over.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Best.. Day. Ever.

When I was a girl, when a young man or woman was leaving on a mission, we held a "farewell" sacrament meeting.  It was a lot like a Mormon funeral--happy, with bursts of tears.

We no longer hold "farewells" per se, because the focus of sacrament meeting ought to be on the Savior and his teachings.  However, the person leaving on a mission is usually invited to speak in sacrament meeting shortly before leaving on his or her mission.  In that respect, today was Briana's "farewell."  She was asked to speak on missionary work.  She did a BEAUTIFUL job.  Remember how I'm a lucky mom?  Yup, I remember, too.

So many friends and family to came to our ward to support Bri, and after sacrament meeting we went home and had a light luncheon.  It was standing room only at our house, and it was wonderful.  All of our children had some of their friends come.  Spencer's parents, his brother, and his sister (and their families) came, as did my grandparents and two of my brothers and their families.  Spencer's aunt came, as did two of my uncles and an aunt.  We had so many friends there (Hi, Giffords!)--we feel so incredibly blessed.

And THEN we all (ya know, the close family and friends) went to the Jordan Institute, where Taylor was ordained an elder.  Glorious!

This was a total parents' payday, and I loved every minute of it.

Except now I'm overstimulated from the noise and really tired.  It's 7:25 p.m.  Good night.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Our Very First

Before we were married, Spencer's dad took him to a dealership, where they bought a brand-new motorcycle.  We finished paying that off AFTER we were married.  And after we re-po'd it.  That's a story for another day.

I don't think I've ever even stepped foot into a dealership.  Except when I went with Jana to pick up her dad from work.  I've been in service departments before; does that count?

I'd like all of you to meet Jessie:

We name our cars after Disney characters, did you know?
Color me happy!

(Don't judge me.  I love this shirt!)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sharing a Memory -- Day of Celebration

It was actually the title of this post that brings me to today's memory.

In 2005 our Church celebrated the 200th birthday anniversary of the Prophet of the latter-day dispensation, Joseph Smith.  As part of the celebration, youth groups all over the world were involved with activities to celebrate Brother Joseph's birthday.

In the Salt Lake City area, the Church produced a marvelous event called a "Day of Celebration."  All of the youth of the area were invited to gather at Rice-Eccles stadium at the University of Utah, where there were all kinds of activities planned.  The youth had been invited to participate in rehearsals, etc., if they wanted to be performers at this event.

One of the activities was a choir, and Taylor (who was 12) and Briana (who was 14) opted to participate in that.  The choir--which was originally planned for 3,000 youth--was 15,000 strong.  Imagine 15,000 young people belting out "Praise To The Man," and you can understand why I was thrilled when I was asked to also be in the choir as a driver of 5 young women and one young man (our Taylor).  For many weeks before the DOC, we held rehearsals in The Conference Center.  The rehearsals were fun because the choir director was funny and bold and talented and because of 15,000 young people belting out "Praise To The Man" (and other songs).  They were also spiritual feedings.  We were taught by members of the Seventy and Mack Wilberg (the director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir) and others.

One evening we were practicing "Joseph Smith's First Prayer."  The choir director was encouraging the young people to consider the words of the song.  He said, "Our Father in Heaven appeared to a 14-year-old boy, and he called him by name.  It's incredible, and it's all true.  And THAT is why young men leave their homes and families for two years to go out into strange places throughout the world to wear suits all day and talk to strangers.  THAT is why we choose to look peculiar to the world because we don't drink or smoke or use profanity.  THAT is why we wear modest clothing.  THAT is why."  He then shared his testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, which came through the Prophet Joseph Smith.  It was a sweet, spiritual, beautiful, tender moment in time.

We had been seated by vocal parts, so I was sitting by the girls who I drove.  I had told Taylor that I would meet him after the rehearsal by a particular pillar.  To get to that pillar, I had to "swim upstream" against a lot of people walking the other direction.  When I arrived there, Taylor was standing against the pillar.  He looked at me, smiled as I approached, and said, "Ah, Mom!  Did you FEEL that?"

The DOC was fabulous, and I'm so grateful that I got to participate.  But my very best memory of all of it was that 2 seconds when I saw our son really "get it."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I Took A Day Off

Taylor gets his wisdom teeth out today.  Exciting, right?  Well, he's excited about it, because it is the very last thing he needs to do to complete his mission paperwork.  He meets tonight (THAT oughtta be interesting) with his stake president regarding receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood.  Then President goes out of town for 3 weeks, so paperwork will still have to wait at least that long.

Anyway, the oral surgeon said Taylor should have a responsible adult with him for 24 hours after the surgery.  Briana is going to take him and bring him home.  I sacrificed (heeheehee) and took the day off work.

Responsible adult?  Questionable.

But I'm here for you, Son!

Monday, January 23, 2012

It's Getting Real

Yesterday the bishop informed Briana that ward conference is on February 12, so she gets to give her missionary talk next Sunday. We had family planning on coming into town, so we were going to have a luncheon afterward.  I feel like since we already invited people we need to follow through on that, even though we doubt that people will come from out of town now.  We are determined to go with the flow on this, because of course the most important thing is that Briana will share her testimony with our ward, friends, and family before she enters the mission field for 18 months.

Yesterday we went to Amber's for mission pictures.  Because it's winter and because I was hoping for a more studio'd look, Amber gave me a great deal in exchange for letting her play around.  She is fabulous, and I can hardly wait to see the finished products!

In the meantime, here is a little preview of Sister Briana Nicole Hill:

That beautiful woman is my baby girl!  I am such a lucky mom.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Older They Get, The More I Love Them

Amy's post reminded me of several things:

1.  There are eternal days when you are the parent of small children.  These are the days people seem to forget.  These are the days when you are 100% convinced that when people say, "Don't blink," they are completely high.

2.  Having small children is incredibly physically demanding.  You must get them out of their beds, change their diapers, get them dressed (often multiple times each day), bathe them, carry them everywhere, carry a lot of stuff with you everywhere you go, feed them, lift them into and out of cars and various other places, get down on the floor to talk to them at their level, etc., etc.

3.  Sometimes being a parent doesn't seem like the decision was worth it.  Even when you know in the long run it is worth it, there are many times when it doesn't seem like it.

4.  Parents of small children miss the company of adults.  Adults don't head-bang you, throw up on you, poop their pants, pat-pat-pat you to get your attention, throw their food all over the place, or call you "Mama" 400 times (even when you have answered them 400 times).  Usually. 

5.  Having small children can be embarrassing to you.  They might poop all over you just when you are supposed to close the meeting.  They might call that very kind lady "Fat."  They might use a word they weren't supposed to hear you using.  They might sing really loud during the really quiet part of the movie or meeting.  They could burp or pass gas loudly at any moment.  They might pitch a fit in the middle of the store.

Sometimes these things are easy to forget, especially when you've reached a point with your children when they are completely capable of toileting, showering and dressing themselves, not only getting themselves into and out of a car but actually DRIVING themselves places, and holding a reasonable conversation that doesn't include tears or kicking or head-butting. 

Fortunately, life has a way of helping you remember mostly the good stuff:  the sound of a roomful of giggling children; the adorable handprint card they made for Mother's Day; the song they sang all by themselves or with their class; the stupid, funny jokes that made you laugh till your cheeks hurt; the times when you were exactly the person who could make the ouch go away; the moments when they reached for your hand or put their arm around you just because you were there; their testimonies shared, whether publicly or privately; the breakfast you got in bed; the day you woke up because your body was ready instead of waking to the sound of arguing; Christmases all about giving instead of receiving. 

Of course there are a million things that are forgettable.  But don't worry, there are also a million things to remember.

And in the meantime there are some of us who would welcome the chance to hang out for a few hours with naughty, screaming, laughing, adorable, lovely children.  Call if you need me.  Because it really did all go too, too fast.

And yes, I remember. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Announcing the Unannounced

For a couple of months my boss has been working with the next high-guy to make a split in our division.  He had to choose which side of the split he was going to sit on.  I didn't have to decide; I just decided to stay with him.  I had my hopes, however.  Anyway, everything has to be approved by the Top Guys, and that just happened on Wednesday.  My boss was leaving the country for a week and a half, so he decided to let it go, and everything could be announced to the division when he returns.

Except the managing director of one department got a bug in his bonnet to get the whole thing moving.  So today they started tearing out walls and core drilling and pulling cables to create a new office on our floor.  It was noisy.  It was not discreet.  It was messy.  It interrupted conversations and phone calls and meetings.  And most people had no idea what was happening.

So here's my official piece of the unofficial announcement:  Dean and I will be moving to the SPD.  I don't know when.  I don't know who is going with us (about half of our division will go).  We will move to the 10th floor, and HQF will move back to the 11th floor.  There will be a new MFD controller.  I don't know who that will be.

And now you know it all.  Unofficially, of course.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Fear This Missionary!

Taylor has had a heck of a time getting through his mission papers.  It took him WEEKS to have his first bishop's interview, because he could not get hold of the executive secretary to make an appointment.  When he finally got an appointment, the bishop re-scheduled twice. 

Finally he was able to get his paperwork and get started.  It took him two days to fill out all of the information.  He got into the doctor, but he couldn't get a dentist appointment for 2 1/2 weeks.  He called them after a few days, and they moved him up a week.  When he got there he learned that he had lost two fillings, and one of them resulted in a cracked tooth.  He had one new cavity.  And he needs his top wisdom teeth removed.  More waiting for appointments.

He called the stake executive secretary to schedule a time with the stake president.  He thought that appointment was for last Sunday, but it was for yesterday.  He waited all week, missed "Christmas" dinner with his grandparents, got to the stake offices, and... no stake president.  He called the executive secretary, who rescheduled with him for next week.

This is our text conversation which followed:

Me:  What happened to meeting with the stake president?

Tay:  He wasn't there.

Me:  So did you call?

Tay:  Yes.  Reschedule with secretary.  Satan doesn't want me on a mission.  He also doesn't want me to get the Melchidezek Priesthood.  I don't blame him.  I'd be scared, too.

Me:  Be afraid.  Be very afraid.

Tay:  Dun dun dunnnn!!!

When this man gets into the mission field, look out!

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Story, An Observation, and Some Philosophy

Yesterday I left work about 45 minutes earlier than usual.  I waited for about 15 minutes for the train to come, but I was so glad that it was still light outside that I didn't even mind the wait.  I got off the train at Courthouse to wait for the train that would take me home, and I waited there, too.  But that was OK.  There were lots of people laughing, the sun was shining (it was COLD!), and I was so grateful to NOT be at work that I just stood there patiently waiting.

The train came, and I got a seat (no small feat at 5:00 p.m.).  At the next stop a man and his 8-year-old got on the train.  The man was a bit short with his son, and that always makes me kinda sad, but he also told him he loved him and was just trying to keep him safe.  We had traveled about 2 blocks when the train came to a very long stop.  We moved about 50 feet and stopped again.  Before we even got to the next stop, it was apparent that there was some kind of problem. 

The trip from 900 S. to 1300 S. took about 20 minutes.  During those 20 minutes I took a tiny (teeny tiny) power nap, listened to two young men talk about their majors and their missions, and listened to a woman say the f-word about 10 times.  When we finally arrived at 1300 S. we learned two things:  first, a pedestrian had been hit and killed by a Trax train at the very next stop; and second, our train was having mechanical problems.

We all got off the train.  They uncoupled the last car and pulled it backward down the track to where the next train in line was already parked and waiting.  They then re-routed the track and used what had been the middle car to pull the ailing lead car off onto the detour.  Then they re-routed the track again, pulled the one car forward, and started loading people.  That whole process took about 45 minutes. 

45 minutes can be a long time.  First of all, it was cold.  Now, I'm not talking about Aundrea-is-cold-while-everyone-else-is-fine.  It was COLD.  Everyone was cold.  I know this, because I heard about 25 different people utter one version or another of the phrase "It's cold!"  Some people used the phrase conversationally, almost laughing as they said it.  Some people threw in a number of expletives just so they could finally convey to all of us that it was cold, in case we didn't know (presumably).

There was one couple there who were clearly high, and the woman was seriously NOT in good shape.  She needed to clean up in the worst way.  WE needed her to clean up in the worst way.  I think she used the f-word about every 3 words on average.  Not kidding, here.  The only way to ignore it was to focus on something else, like its frequency.

One man could have won a world record in how many complaints he came up with in 45 minutes.  "That's what they get for having too many trains on the tracks."  "How many more people will they kill?"  "This is ridiculous!"  "I think it would faster if I walked home."  "How about we just do the job UTA is doing such a crappy job at, and PUSH the train ourselves."  I left out all of his expletives.  You're welcome.

I was really frustrated at people's lack of patience or kindness.  But then I realized that the only differences between many of them and me was that my irritation was with PEOPLE rather than situations or an object AND I didn't say mine out loud.  I guess that makes me the shallow person that you already know I am.

On the other hand, because I didn't speak my frustrations aloud, I didn't annoy the people around me.  I didn't make a difficult situation worse through foul language or complaints or unkindness.  And neither did many other people.  It's just that the loud, obnoxious, rude ones are the ones who get the attention, ya know?

There was a woman whose husband was coming to pick her up.  She offered another woman--a stranger--a ride home.  There was a woman with two small children in daycare, who quietly called her daycare provider and offered her explanation and her sincere apologies. 

When we got back on the train, it was just one car.  We had previously been on 3 cars.  It was packed!  Again, many people complained.  But most people were grateful to be on their way, to have heat, and to good-naturedly share smiles and sighs with their neighbors.  There were so many people that I didn't have a handhold.  At one point the train slowed abruptly, and my neighbor from behind held me upright while my nieghbor facing me grabbed my hand. 

I believe most people are good.  I believe most people are kind.  I believe most people just try to make the best of their difficult situations.  I believe most people try to help other people whenever they can.  Some are not, and some do not.  Which kind are you and I?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Life Lessons

My next class is entitled "Leadership."  In my reading last night I read that as managers gain more experience managing they learn and practice certain skills.

It made me think about what I've learned in my jobs.  Here are my top three:

1.  When you get soft-serve ice cream that is icy-ish, it's because the machine hasn't been cleaned for a while. 

2.  If you're in a car accident, don't sign ANYTHING from the insurance company until you feel that you are well.

3.  If you want a free meal or hotel stay, scream loud enough for long enough till you get someone powerful enough.

Profound, right?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Life and Lies of a Bathroom Scale

Like many of you, I started on January 2 trying to take better care of my body.  I haven't done a lot of working out, but I am committed to being nutritionally nicer to this temple of  mine.  I am not a weigh-in kinda girl (usually), but my doctor is hoping that the scale shows some changes, so I thought I'd get a baseline.  I did that on Tuesday, January 2 (which I already said, but I wanted to reiterate).

On Monday, January 9, I got on the scale again.  This was after nearly a week of being hungry, having a screaming headache (Hello, chocolate addiction.  Thanks for coming.), and spending a lot of time in the bathroom (8-10 cups of water a day?!).  Don't judge me.  There's a point here.

On Monday, January 9, I got on the scale again (which I already said, but I wanted to reiterate.  Again.).  And that dang thing said I'd lost less than 1 pound.  One freaking pound!  How discouraging!  I mean, it's not like I only have 5 pounds to lose, you know?  I was ready to just throw in the towel, and keep eating all the things I love and just keeping gaining weight one freaking pound at a time.

And then I thought, "But I lost the equivalent of a pound of butter off my body.  That's quite a bit of fat."  And I also talked to my support group (Hi, Amber!).  I admit it, I ate a few M&M's (because I'm doing BETTER, not being PERFECT).  (P.S.  Did you know that milk chocolate M's are 10 calories each?)  And then I drank some water, popped a carrot into my mouth, and moved on to...

Tuesday, when I got on the scale again, on a whim, because I'm not a weigh-in kinda girl (usually).  Only guess what?  It showed that I had lost nearly 5 pounds from the baseline weight.  I thought that couldn't possibly be right, so I tried again, and it said the same thing.

Basically I think the scale is on drugs, and I'm all kinds of tempted to get back on it every morning, just to play with its mind, ya know?  Only remember how I'm not a weigh-in kinda girl (usually)?  So I'm anxiously holding off till Monday the 16th to see what our high scale has to tell me.  I gotta be honest here:  I hope the 5-pound loss number shows up again.  But if it does, how do I know if it's telling me the truth?  Was the baseline number a lie, too? (I'm afraid not, but a girl's gotta ask...)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Landon Has a Girlfriend

I got home last night, and Landon said, "Mom!  Smell this!"  He holds up his shirt for me to sniff.  What I smelled was perfume and cigarette smoke.  I wasn't sure if he was telling me his shirt smelled good or bad.

Girlfriend's mom stopped in to meet me when she brought Landon home last night.  I wasn't there, but she met Spencer (and others), and was very kind and good and personable.  Girlfriend, too, has been good and not dramatic (ya know, for an 8th grader) and kind to Landon.

Landon swears he is never getting married.  Ever.  Yet he has had two girlfriends, long before any of our other children have.

Can you sense my anxiety?  Should I be anxious? 

Monday, January 9, 2012

If Only Fat Were Water-Soluble

I've been trying to make sure my water intake is what it should be.  I could be losing so much weight.

'nuff said.

Love Me A New Scarf

Whit is Briana's age, but closer to Ashtyn's size.  She's a lovely woman, and she has very graciously given Ashtyn many pre-loved clothes.  Ashie is always well-dressed (although for her birthday last year she asked if she could have just a FEW brand-new clothes).  :)

Whit decided to move into an apartment with her friend, so she has spent the last few weeks going through her stuff, deciding what was good enough to be kept and moved and what needed to go.  So Bri and Sass went to Whit's this week to go through the pile.

What I got out of the deal was a great bag (it's red and gold and it's perfect for my scriptures--hooray!) and a new scarf.  I am not now, never have been, and never will be a fashionista.  But I love how a scarf can put some color into any drab outfit.

Today's ensemble is black on black, with this GREAT purple-and-gray-with-leopard-print scarf.  When I put it on for church yesterday I remembered a brooch of my grandma's that I have had in my jewelry box forever.

Aren't you glad I shared?  Thought you would be...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sharing A Memory. And Starting A New Year.

When I taught preschool, a new year was always an eye-opener.  For one thing, the children were always excited about everything we did and I was ALL kinds of cool.  By the end of the year, that's not always the case.  (Weird, right?)

The other thing that amazed me each year was the realization of just how much last year's preschoolers had learned. 

And now I was starting over.

This year I am teaching the CTR 6 class.  Again.  These kiddos can't read yet.  They don't know how to find scriptures.  They don't know to BRING their scriptures.  They don't know my name.  They don't know that they are old enough to raise their hands and go to the bathroom between class time and sharing time.  On the other hand, the prayer / line leader chart is exciting and I am very cool.

I'm so excited for the new Primary year!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Panic Mode

My least favorite thing about the class I've been enrolled in since September is that I feel like every other week I am in panic mode.  Each task has been difficult, and now I'm on the last task, the culmination of all the other tasks.  It's huge.  It's daunting.  I went into freeze frame for the last two days.  But today I decided to roll up my sleeves and just try to start.

It feels like I did a lot.  It feels like I barely scratched the surface.  It feels like I'm completely alone in this.  Ugh! 

Technically, I have till February 25 to finish this class.  But the next class has team exercises (Guess what?  I don't like team exercises.  Clearly, I am not a team player.), and it starts a week from Monday.  Oh, how I would love to be finished with Financial Analysis before Leadership starts.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happiness Is...

Cute fingernails.
A great color of lipstick.
Texts from people you love.
Mail.  Real life mail.
Email.  I like that, too.
Laughing so hard your sides ache.  Any laughter, actually.
Perfectly-popped popcorn.
A book of your choosing and a nice warm blanket.
Completing a project.
Lunch with a friend.
Burnt almond fudge ice cream.
Super-long icicles.
Snow that sticks to each individual branch and twig.
The sun so warm it makes your cells dance.
Children who wave at you, whether they know you or not.
Finding something you lost.
Giving the perfect gift.
Sleeping without interruption and waking on your own.
Crossing the start line and knowing you can do it.
Crossing the finish line and not having to do it any more.
Making your entire journey without having to stop at a red light.
NOT wearing nylons.
Family prayer when we're all awake.
A cancelled meeting.  Better yet, a meeting NOT scheduled!
Clean teeth.
Itmes spelt cureckly.
All things Harry Potter.
Finding money in my pocket.

My life.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Last year I used my blog to "cheat" and see what I had done during the year.  Today it struck me that I haven't given much thought to how the year went or what I hope/plan to do during 2012.  So here I am, thinking things through.

One of the best things to happen this year was that I fell in love with my job.  I was able to move past the disappointment of leaving my previous job and come to enjoy what I am doing.  Of course, that all came AFTER I started my MBA.  :)  I guess I still don't really know what I want to do when I grow up, but maybe I'll be an administrative assisntant forever.  An administrative assistant with an MBA, because Spencer won't let me quit.  *rude!*

I don't know which came first--loving my job or loving the people--but whichever it is, I seriously love many of the people I work with.  Celebrating the marvelous people helps me some with dealing with the people who drive me crazy.  So goal #1 (which will be an ongoing thing forever, because I'm basically shallow) is that I am going to try to stop complaining so much, especially ab out people and the things they do.  The good news is that there are many wonderful people doing a variety of marvelous things, so I will try to focus more on that.

Goal #2 is that school thing.  *sigh*  I wish I could say I love it, but I seriously don't.  It's really, really hard to stay focused on school when there are so many other things going on at home.  I'd really rather be watching TV or reading a book or even running (it's clearly January 1  :)  ) than having to study.  I think that realistically I will not finish school during the 2012 school year, mainly because of financial restraints; but I hope by the middle of 2013 to be completely finished and ready to walk.

Briana will leave on her mission on February 15th, and Taylor now just has to go to the doctor (tomorrow morning) and the dentist before his paperwork will be completed.  We are seriously THRILLED with our children's decisions to serve the Lord as missionaries for our church, and we are filled with faith that everything will go well for us while they are away.  I'm not sure how that is going to happen financially, exactly, but it will happen. 

Which brings me to another goal for 2012:  Get my spending under control.  That is going to mean work on my part.  I'll need to make lunches.  I'll need to mend clothing.  I'll need to make dinners.  I'll need to plan gifts.  I don't have the best track record, so this is going to be hard.

Of course, what look forward would be complete without the fitness stuff?  Yes, I need to exercise.  Yes, I need to get fit.  As part of that, though, I REALLY need to be better about what I eat.  Each passing year my metabolism slows, and I just can't eat all that junk that I never used to think about.  Besides the weight gain, I know I would just plain feel better if  my nutrition were better.  This is also hard for me.

Looking back, I feel that 2011 was a beautiful year for us.  We are incredibly blessed.  I am optimistic that 2012 will be another fabulous year.