Friday, March 29, 2013

The Three Best Things

If you have scheduled one of those days where you're going to be running, running, running from one thing to the next, let me tell you three things that you absolutely need:

A good haircut
Brand new underwear
Time in the temple

It's been a good day.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

No Hollering

Last week we were at the home of some friends, where a lot of yelling went on.  None of it was in anger, it was just hollering up the stairs, yelling their conversational input from another room, etc.  By the time we left, I was ready to crawl into a quiet hole for a while.

We got into the car, and I told Spencer that he is the best man in the world.  We did some hollering in the house where I grew up, mostly among us kids.  Once, when we were engaged, I raised my voice at one of my brothers and came around the corner to see Spencer, eyes open wide.  I decided then that I did not want our life to involved yelling.

I have not been perfect at this, and yes, I have yelled down the stairs to get someone's attention.  Our children will sometimes say one of us yelled at them, and I think, "My dear, you have no idea what it looks like when one of us is yelling."  (However, I did yell at T a few months before he got his mission call.  EVERYONE remembers that.) 

I'm pretty sure that Spencer is still the one who sets the tone in our house for this particular action.  I am very thankful that ours has not had to be a house of yelling.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Following Up

Remember when Landon went to CHHS's prom and had a horrible time?  Remember how he cried all the way home and didn't sleep that night?  And remember how it took him till Sunday afternoon to be able to talk about any of it?

Well, by Sunday night he had decided that it might be fun to go to WJHS's Prom and try to have a better experience.  And he thought it might be fun to take his friend, Aschley.  And he thought he'd just talk to her instead of trying to do some big, fancy thing to ask her.

So he did.  And Monday Asch went and bought a dress, so Tuesday Asch and Landon went to buy him a tie.  And he bought some cuff links and buttons.  And a corsage. 

So Saturday they went to Subway for lunch (with her parents, who were driving).  They bowled a couple of games at the bowling alley.  He came home and had a nap.  Aschley and her parents came over, the kids exchanged flowers, and the parents took pictures.  Landon and Asch took Jessie-the-Magic-Car (with Aschley driving) downtown.  They had dinner at the JSMB, where Aschley announced--after being complimented a couple of times while she was in the restroom--that "Mormons are so nice!"  They went to the State Capital building, had pictures taken, and danced, danced, daaaaaanced  ALL NIGHT.  They got home a little before midnight, tired and sweaty and all smiles.

So Landon had a fabulous Prom experience and announced on Sunday morning, "I'm definitely doing that again.  It was a lot of fun!"

One of the Ways My Friends Bless Me

I decided near the end of last year that this year was the year I am going to run a half marathon. 

I said that in one sentence, but the truth is that that word "decided" is more than just a fraction of a second word.  In fact, this particular "decide" took several months to happen.  I WANTED to run a half marathon.  I thought it would be COOL to run a half marathon.  I knew it was possible that I COULD run a half marathon.

On the other hand, I like to eat, especially chocolate.  I thought I was pretty cool without a half marathon under my belt.  In order to be able to run a half marathon, I knew I would really have to work, including running and not undermining myself with bad eating habits.  I knew that I would be busy with school and with work and with church and with family (as I always am), and in order to run a half, I must be willing to give up time on those other things in order to run.  Every day.  I also know that when you first start--and as you progress to longer distances--running hurts.  I'm not really into pain much.

So, in two paragraphs and several months, I decided I wanted to run a half marathon.  I started by jogging a tiny bit on my lunch breaks.  I joined a gym.  I went to the Oval on snowy Saturdays.  I lost some weight and I got up at 5:00 a.m. and I was DEDICATED.

But you know how it goes.  Now it's been 3 months, and I'm tired of getting up.  And I have a cold.  And my homework is piling up-up-up.  And I really want that cupcake.  And...and...and...

Today I had lunch with several girlfriends.  The daughter of one has been working for a year in order to be in shape for a competition (toning, but very like body building).  Her competition is this Saturday, and she looks amazing.  It has taken a lot of mental strength for her to do what it took FOR A YEAR in order to get here.  Her coach thinks she has a good chance at winning an award.

The former boss of one lost nearly 40 pounds because "It's amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it."

One has worked hard and is continuing to try to find her motivation to keep working.

I participated in the conversation, which was more about healthy choices and motivation than about weight loss, and suddenly I found myself thinking, "You know, I can totally do this!"  (Remind me of that after work when I have to go for my run, since I didn't get up early this morning.)

I'm really grateful for friends who help me remember to do and be better, just because they are there.

My Poor Sad Face

For the past two weeks I have had the driest skin ever on my face.  A few days ago I pulled down on my lower eyelid in order to insert a contact lens, and my skin was like tissue paper; it just stayed down!  Gross!  Between getting older and losing a big of weight, I am uncovering some more wrinkles, but that was ridiculous!

My skin got so dry--in spite of my moisturizing--that it cracked at the corners of my mouth and eyes.  I've been absolutely scaly.  Now this week I've caught a spring cold, which means lots of tissues.  The skin around my nose is absolutely raw; but it kinda was before the cold, anyway.

My whole face hurts.  I haven't changed soaps or lotions or makeup, so I don't know what has caused this.  Last night I took a shower at 6:00 p.m. and I must have reapplied facial lotion 4 or 5 times before it was finally bed time.

Plus, I'm vain.  *sigh*

Thursday, March 21, 2013

When the Synapses Don't Fire

My husband tells the story of when the girl he had been in love with during high school announced to him and his friend that she was engaged to be married.  In his mind, the conversation went something like this:

M:  Hey!  Guess what!  I'm getting married!
K (S's friend):  Wow.  Congratulations.  That's terrific.
S:  Yes, congratulations.  I'm very happy for you.

His friend, however, says it went more like this:

M: Hey! Guess what! I'm getting married!
K (S's friend): Wow. Congratulations. That's terrific.
S: Yes, congratulations. I'm very happy for you.

Apparently, his brain went into slow motion or something. 

I've laughed about that story for years, because sometimes we'll be having a conversation and I'll ask a question, but the answer doesn't come for several minutes.  I tell him, "Your synapses are misfiring again."

Today my boss was looking for a specific document about a property in France.  If he had shown me the words, I would have been able to tell you that it was pronounced "San (nasal) Clu," which is exactly what he was saying.  However, the French do not have a very phonetically-friendly language, and in my word-based mind, all I could picture was "St. Clu."  So--hoping to help by looking for the document in a database--I said, "How is that spelled?"  He looked at me but did not answer.  A few minutes later I said, "Spell that for me."  We made eye contact, but there was no answer.  About 10 minutes later I'm on the phone with someone else, still looking for the information.  I asked him again for the spelling and he didn't answer.  Finally I said, "My friend, do you not know how to spell this or are you just ignoring me?"  He got a totally surprised look on his face--as if he'd already answered three times--and said, "It's Saint Cloud."

TOTAL synapse misfire!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Discouragement Is Not Our Friend

I began a new class on March 1.  It involves this huge simulation, where I develop a company, its products, advertising, production, human resources, etc.  A quarter passes every other day.  Tonight I finished Quarter 8.  A quarter has averaged me about 6 to 8 hours of homework, which means about 4 hours of homework a night.  Part of me is frustrated that I don't even get graded on it.  Another part of me is GLAD, because I'm good at running this business into the ground.

The thing about this stupid class (besides the fact that I still have to complete all the reading and writing in order to complete and pass the course) is that it is taking every waking moment (in which I am not at work). I'm getting NOTHING else done.  I can hardly even bear to THINK about Church or anything or anyone else.  I needed to take the kids to the doctor, which is kind of a priority, you know?  But it was a HUGE sacrifice to do that.  My workouts have suffered, which is also discouraging.

Now to shift gears a bit:  When our children were very small, there was a woman in the ward who lived on the edge of sanity.  I don't mean she was going to lose her mind, but one tiny thing would send her into stress land.  I was very grateful at that time that I could take several fairly large steps before I got stressed out.  I did a lot of good things during those years, and they were a pleasure for me!  Jax, Grandma, church presidencies, PTA.  I was involved in a large variety of things and I still managed to care for our home and our children mostly successfully.

Now, though, it seems like one tiny thing sends me over the edge, and I hate it!  I don't like that I'm a flake and that I'm a mess.

Our children are mostly grown up, so there's very little I need to do with or for them.  I don't have to feed them or bathe them or put them to bed or even buckle them into the car.  They're wonderful, mostly self-sufficient people.  So I am not doing that.

There's no grandma or niece.  There's no PTA.  There's very little necessary in my church callings.

Here's what I do:  I go to work and I go to school.  School has taken me MUCH longer than it probably should have.  Our house is piggy a lot of the time.  I have one day a week to complete everything (homework, laundry, house cleaning, yard work).  That's just not enough time, and it makes me feel like a failure.  It's very discouraging.

I also have friends who have been parenting as long as I have and who still have little ones for whom they are caring.  They seem to be able to handle things so well, and even though I know that I should not compare my worst with others' best, it's really hard not to get discouraged.  I think What is wrong with me?  Why can't I do _______?  I think I'm a loser.  I should be able to ______.  I think She is doing _____ and _____ AND _____, and she's doing it with grace.  Why can't I do _____ and ______ or at LEAST _____?

What do I do about it?  All I can think to do is just to finish school so I can take that big thing off my plate.  I hope to re-fill my plate with more important, fulfilling things.  And hopefully not feel so inadequate and worthless and less-than-great.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Blowing Kisses

When our kids were little, we gave lots and lots of kisses.  At least 1,000 whenever possible.  If we weren't kissing, we often blew one another kisses.  If you were the recipient, you had to grab the kiss out of the air and put it on your face.

I have this vision of little bits of blown kisses--pieces that detached from the main kiss--floating around in the air, sticking to people as they walk by.  Isn't it a nice thought that someone might have left you little bits of love that are just sticking to you?

And MAYBE even a real kiss leaves little bits of itself in the air because it didn't fully stick to the recipient or there was too much to sink in fast enough, so now it's just floating around.  :)

If I could draw at all, I would draw you a picture of this.  It's hard to do in stick figure form, though.

Profound thinking.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Quick Update

Here's an update on our lives.  Because, ya know, you care.

Spencer spent most of last week in Lexington, Kentucky, at Toyota's Lean Manufacturing plant.  (It used to be that I was too tired to think about his being gone.  Now I find that I don't sleep so well when he's gone, no matter how exhausted I am.  I just need him. here.)  He spent three solid days doing homework for his current class, but he got all of it finished (math), so now he just has to attend the last couple of classes to be finished with this one.  Big accomplishment; AND it gives him a bit a free time on the weekends and in the evenings to do other things.

My school is KILLING. ME.  I am currently taking a Strategic Management class, in which there is a run-your-own-business simulation.  I am not graded on the simulation; I will have to write about my experiences and decisions later on. Only guess what?  This simulation is taking me an average of 4 hours of homework daily to complete.  Unfortunately, I can't jump ahead to the next "quarter" in the simulation, because there are other teams involved.  So, for example, I spent 6 hours yesterday (Saturday) and another 45 minutes today (Sunday) to get Quarter 6 completed.  It is due at noon tomorrow (Monday).  So Quarter 7 will not be opened till 1:00 tomorrow, but it is due by noon on Wednesday.  So I'll spend about 3-4 hours each day on Monday and Tuesday in order to have the assignment done on Wednesday.  I'm think that my written statement will look something like this:  I hate this dumb simulation.  I think this course should be worth MANY more units than it is.  Thank you for taking over my life.  Do you think they'll accept that?  Best of all, I'm failing miserably at running this virtual company.  I'm projected to finish two years at -$9M.  Amy says I should go into government.

A member of the bishopric asked if I thought I might be able to head up a ward activity in April or May.  I hope he reports back that Sister Hill looked like she might meltdown right then and there.  I also got a call from the stake Scout leader asking me to be the Family Life merit badge counselor in April and May.  I haven't called him back, but I'm pretty sure that's gonna be a no.  I've been attending ward conferences and teaching my Primary class.  Youth conference is coming up.  I gotta be honest.  I'm kinda sick of church. (And it wouldn't be a big deal without school.  So "alls I know is" I gotta get this school thing behind me.)

In better news, I ran 4 miles yesterday.  It felt really good to accomplish that, because you shoulda seen me on January 1, trying to walk through a mile.  Ugh.  And I just keep getting stronger.

Also, I get to teach Primary.  It's what keeps me going to church right now.  (Don't get me wrong.  I LOVE the Church.  I love the gospel.  I love the Savior.  But I might be a little tired...)  I love those kids so much!  Last week Annie's little sister, Lucy (a Sunbeam) did not want to go to her class, so Annie asked if Lucy could come to our class.  I told her she was welcome to stay.  Annie ran to the restroom, so I just started talking with Lucy (who is PRE.CO.CIOUS).  She told me many things about their recent visit to Disneyland, and it was a delightful conversation.  Her mama came and took her to her own class.  Then we went to Sharing Time, and Lucy and her teacher sit in front of our class.  Sister Curtis did a Sharing Time where the Primary was divided into groups.  The Sunbeams (there were a couple of visitors) had their assignment, and our class had our assignment.  Ours was to answer the question "How much money did Judas take?"  So we read the scripture about it.  I had to explain to the kids what "betray" means.  I said, "It means that some people gave Jesus's friend, Judas, some money in exchange for him telling them which person was Jesus so they could arrest Jesus and kill him."  I didn't realize that Lucy (in front of us) was listening to our group until she piped up, "That was NOT choosing the right!"  I looked at her, and her little face was showing her distress.  I said, "He wasn't a very good friend, was he?"  She shook her head very solemnly and said, "Heavenly Father wants us to be a good friend."  What a good (vibrant, active, head-strong) girl!

Briana has been struggling with some health issues on her mission.  Her president's wife called several weeks ago to keep us in the loop, which tells you that this is more than a case of the sniffles.  I am anxious for p-day tomorrow so we have more word.  They were able to get her on some meds.  Last week she still wasn't feeling so great.  I hope that tomorrow shows a little more light in her life.  (Why can't we choose what we pass along to our kids?)

Taylor had a rough go a few weeks ago, but the mom I have keeping an eye on him (Hi, Denise!) says that he seems to be doing better.  I'm proud of him for the courageous way he's facing difficulties.  He only gets snail mail about once every 3 to 4 weeks (sometimes even longer).  I know that when he gets mail he always feels better.

Taylor's best friend, Logan, had to come home from the MTC for health reasons.  I know Tay will be sad for his friend and for the fact that he can't really do much from Canada.  We're sad for Logan, too, mostly because we know he's sick.  Our poor boy!

Ashtyn is doing really well right now.  She's spent some time looking at apartments, apparently (I just learned this from Landon).  She hasn't applied for school yet, though, so I hope she's not terribly disappointed if she doesn't get into her program immediately.  She can get started, though, and that will be good for her.  Mostly I'm just thankful her health has been as good as it has.  This past week she had to work Saturday and then 8.5 hour days because the plant needed a shut-down for some mechanical reasons.  She hated that, but then she got to leave early on Thursday and have Friday off, along with this weekend.  She doesn't LOVE her job, but she does love having her own money.  It's a decent job, and she knows it.  I am grateful that she has something to do each day that gets her up and going (early!), because I know that that helps with her health, too.

Landon went to CHHS's prom last night.  To say it wasn't a good experience would be a pretty serious understatement.  This weekend is WJHS's prom, and he said he thought he might ask one of the girls from his debate class to go.  I think it's a great idea, and I hope he'll do it.  He was a sad boy last night (breakups hurt!); this morning he seems to be doing a lot better (though he says he only slept for about 3 hours last night).

So there it is.  Ups and downs for everyone--mostly ups (we seek after these things), for which we are very grateful.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Sometimes the cafeteria smells so good!  Sometimes it smells like elementary school.

Sometimes I think I am strong.  Sometimes I just want to curl into a ball and sleep.

Sometimes I do good things for the right reasons.  Sometimes I do good things for the wrong reasons.  Sometimes I don't do anything.

Sometimes I think my children are the cutest, most wonderful people in the world.  Sometimes I'd like to sell them to the gypsies (did your mother ever use that phrase?).

Sometimes I'd KILL for a chocolate chip cookie.  Sometimes that cookie is very disappointing.

Sometimes I think I've picked the perfect outfit.  Sometimes I wonder what I was thinking.

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Step Back to Childhood

Yesterday our son gave the sacramental prayer for the first time.  He had to do it six times before it was correct.  He was very embarrassed.  But he handled it very well; I was proud of him.  

Today I got to play the piano in our Monday devotional.  I am terrible about sitting down at the piano, so every 3 or 4 months when it's my turn to play at work I start to get pretty nervous.  I went into the conference room early this morning so I could practice a bit before the devotional started.  Even so, when it came time to play the introduction, it was a massacre.  After two measures I just took my hands off the keyboard and said, "Let's try this again."  There was a collective chuckle; I think everyone was relieved.  It went better after that.

Somewhere along the way I learned to just do the best I could at the piano.  It wasn't perfect, but it was OK.  I can stop and catch up with the congregation within just a couple of notes if I have to.  I can stop an introduction and begin again.  I can just play the melody if nothing else.  It's still embarrassing, but what are you gonna do?

I guess Landon is learning the same lesson.  Maybe he'll use it when he's in his 40's.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Blessing #7,892

This week has been a HUGE favorite in the list of "Ways We Have Been Blessed By Having a Missionary." 

Last week T was really distressed.  My brain knows that he was probably fine by 5:00 that evening, and definitely by the next day.  But I cannot just call him and check in, so for a week I worried and prayed over that particular challenge he was having.

Blessedly, our son had had a good week when we heard from him on Monday.  That always eases my mind.

But wait! There's more!  Later on Monday I received an email and a picture from one of the sisters in the ward he is serving in.  Because of the specific frustrations Elder Hill had had, this was a particular blessing--although any time we hear from someone else about our children, it is blessing.  :) 

Anyway, I wrote back to this sweet sister immediately.  We have now shared DOZENS of emails, and I have a kindred spirit living in Canada.  Isn't that fantastic?

Icing on the cake:  Denise's daughter is coming to SLC to serve her mission at Temple Square in April, so I will get to reciprocate missionary-lovin' with HER daughter.  I can hardly wait!