Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dear Mom, Our last Pinewood Derby was “Normal.”

Week of April 7 - 13

It was another blew-a-relieved-sigh-when-it-was-over week, but there were lots of happy moments, especially looking back on the photos I took. I often wonder if I was born in the wrong century – when life gets quick-paced I tend to tense up and look for ways to slow down and do ‘nothing’. It’s funny because when I’ve mentioned this to friends they say that they like things to move along at a quicker pace and get depressed if there’s not enough to do. I am Mistress Quite Contrary. :)

In the midst of the craziness that is our current daily routine here were some of the shining bits of connection to Family, i.e. the joys of my days. There were more, but I’m trying to be picky and just share the very best.

O is for Ocean.

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And Organ.

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Our last Cub Scout (unless there’s Cub Scouts during the Millennium! :) and his last Pinewood Derby. . . .

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DC was a hero-dad setting aside a hands-wringing deadline to spend a few hours with Hummer and the hunk of wood. You can see by their faces that this actually was not a sacrifice.

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Hummer admitted a Pollock influence in the paint-job. :) I like the passengers he chose. And the very Hummeresque name.

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And my favorite moment of the week – the hush that marked the Palm Sunday beginning of our favorite Easter tradition, followed by loud singing of All Glory, Laud, and Honor.

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Can’t wait to see you tomorrow!

Love,

Michelle

Monday, April 7, 2014

Dear Mom, It’s going to be okay.

Week of March 31 – April 6

And it’s all because of President Uchtdorf.

Well, actually it’s all because of our Savior Jesus Christ, but President Uchtdorf is one of those wonderful servants of His who helped me remember that. I feel like general conference helped me regain my spiritual footing even more. I have lots more to say about this. . . .

It was a fun “N Week” for Rosebud and me. She loved getting to webcam with you (since N is for Nana) and her sweet cousin N in Texas.

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Google Hangout is such a hoot with all the props and backgrounds and Noises!

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Not sure how much of a conversation we actually had, but it sure was fun. :)

Also we made Nests and ate Noodles.

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I am really enjoying this fabulous organizing blog and that combined with another blog’s traditional annual 40 bags challenge has kicked me in the fanny and got me decluttering again.

I am trying to make it my new addiction instead of sugar. (Let’s hope it takes soon.) Here is proof that I am not making all this up.

Before:                                                              After:

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Yes, that is a sword protruding from the bag on the left. Whoever pulls it out is king of all Bakerland.

Fun stuff. But the real highlight of the week by far was general conference.

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See those animals waiting with rapt attention? Rosebud got them all ready and reverent before conference began.

My thirsty, exhausted spirit drank up all that wonderful, refreshing light and has felt nearly full ever since.

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It will take me a long time to implement completely the paradigm shift I had because of Pres. Uchtdorf’s talk. But I couldn’t believe how it was obvious he had been reading my thoughts for months and then told me exactly what the Lord wanted me to hear, which is that our living in gratitude should be independent of our circumstances.

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Blue Dada enjoyed conference from his mommy’s lap

It also seemed like a common theme was material goods vs. treasure in heaven. So many talks mentioned how quickly the first can be lost and how much better our time is spent on gathering the latter.

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The colored rectangles on the wall are our individual questions for conference. (Thank you, Jocelyn, for the lovely idea!) It was remarkable to see how the answers came and were sometimes not what we expected, but all of us felt that we had received an answer.

Exacto’s question was soundly explained by Elder Bednar and the whole family was gasping over how direct it was. It was pretty awesome.

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And yes, Robin Eggs were involved. Put a question about conference for someone in the basket below – get a Robin Egg. Later, over dinner, we asked all the questions and gave our answers. This is a great tradition we have done for years now, although we all got a bit sugared out this year and I think we’ll do blackberries or something next time. :)

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I wasn’t as sad when it was over as I usually am. I think it was because there was so much truth I suddenly saw which showed me some pretty deep weaknesses in myself that I hadn’t seen before. I really have my work cut out for me (learning how to access the grace of the Atonement to overcome these) and yet I feel a new, stronger peace than before because I can see that all will be well.

Even if I always fight depression. Even if our children stop making good choices. Even if DC never does get a good job and we are in debt for the rest of our lives. All will be well. It’s a miracle.

And that’s one of the things I need to change, by the way. Stop talking about money, already! I will always remember the story of that sweet Filipino lady—who was what, 78?—and had lost the home she and her late husband had built as well as her daughter and a grandchild in the terrible typhoon that hit there last year. Now she is living in a tent and working to try to support herself. I was cut to the soul when I heard her response to this challenge so much greater than mine:

“. . . .I accept everything that the Lord has asked me to pass through. I have no hard feelings.”

Wow. That speaker also quoted my scripture of the year! I tried to make it pretty like so:

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and hung it up in my bathroom. It makes me think every single time I read it. Am I spending my labor for that which cannot satisfy? Oh, yes, I need to remember to pray continually. Awesome, come buy and eat without money. etc. And I feel like this past weekend my soul definitely “delighted in fatness.”

Finally, no Sunday around here is complete without a trip to the temple site! Go go go! (It’s a good thing we visit on the Sabbath or we might be tempted to yell and cheer on the workers to hurry it up! :).

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I am so grateful for the Lord’s living prophets. Now I just need to do what they have taught me.

Love,

Michelle

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

quotables–time to chuckle!

One thing that has really helped me lately is remembering that I have a sense of humor. And that life can be very, very funny. I’ve been beefing up my “funny bone” Pinterest board, reading Calving & Hobbes and Middle-Aged Mormon Man, and best of all, just paying more attention to the hilarious people who live in my house. . . .

At the dinner table,

Rosebud told a long story about a pig named Connor, for whom things worked out ideally in almost every situation, from what he wanted his mom to fix for dinner to his dad giving him a story after all because Connor had been “naughty by accident."

The best part was when a razorback came into Connor's room while he was sleeping, and his dad was sleeping there too because Connor had asked him to, and the razorback roared and it woke them up, "and suddenly there was a flyswatter in Connor's hand."

Connor killed the razorback by hitting it really hard with the flyswatter and “then his dad threw the razorback out the window into the backyard so that they could have it for leftovers the next day.”

(And yes, the ending does frighten me a little.)

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Rosebud: Hummer? After dinner, let's get married, okay?

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Rosebud : I want to name one of my babies L'chaim. (with a surprisingly satisfying 'ch' :)

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As we were driving,

Rosebud having had a rather short night and we having weathered several tantrums,

Rosebud, from her carseat: I wonder why I'm so creepy today?

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Discussing a prospective purchase,

Exacto: I don't have enough money.

Hummer: Are any of your teeth loose?

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Fluffy to Rosebud: Hi, princess!

Rosebud, fiercely: No! I'm a cicada!

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Calling to the family generally,

DC: Let's have scripture study!

Exacto, at the table: Not right now -- I'm grading Fluffy's math!

Hummer, getting a drink: Photoshop comes from Greek.

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Here's an old one I just found from about September. It's a story that Rosebud told me about Branchy Kum-and-Go's sister.

"Her name was. . . . . .Elizabeth. And she was a grasshopper. She jumped up into a tree with the squirrels. And the squirrels said, 'How are you doing, Grasshopper?' And she said, 'I'm doing great!'

. . . .<long pause>. . .

It goes on forever, so I'm just going to tell PART of it."

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Walking around couch, singing,

Rosebud: My name is Humbelina. . . .

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It was time to take Fluffy to band, and Rosebud insisted she couldn't go.

Rosebud: I need to take care of my children.

Me, seeing Pink Dada and Blue Dada in the doll high chair: You can bring them with you.

Rosebud: But they don't have seatbelts in the car!

Me: Tell them they need to wait patiently until you get back.

Rosebud: But they will be sad!

Me: Just put them down for a nap.

Rosebud: But their food will burn!

Me, getting desperate: You're such a good mommy, Rosebud. But you need to come now!

Me scooping her up and carrying her down the stairs,

Rosebud, pleading: What about my children?!

Buckled her into her car seat, and as we were pulling out of the garage,

Rosebud, solemnly: I can hear my babies crying.

An hour and a half later, after a productive trip to King Soopers and picking up Fluffy, we were pulling into our neighborhood.

Me: Rosebud, do you think your babies will be excited to see you?

Rosebud: I don't know. <pause> They're still crying.

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Exacto: “They are herding us and we are bleating." (say it out loud :)

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All during a scripture quiz. . . .

 

DC had asked Fluffy if he could name 4 missionary attributes from D&C 4, which he did.

We started to list some more: temperance, humility, diligence. . .

Hummer: Exuberance!

Fluffy was asked who the two sons of Joseph were.

Fluffy: Um, Ephraim, and um, Bangladesh.


DC was carrying Rosebud off to bed,

Rosebud: Put me down! I need to toot!

She ran over to the corner in our room where we are currently keeping the tax forms and paperwork and Daddy's OT textbooks.

Rosebud, squatting: This is where I toot.

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Rosebud calls s'mores "mores", e.g., These are going to be yummy mores!
I love how she also says "lellow", and "flammly."

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Rosebud helping me get dinner in the crock pot, adding whatever ingredients I hand her.

Me: Okay, next is 3 cups of chicken broth.

Rosebud: I want to put in the chicken bra!

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And last I heard, Studio C’s new season starts next Monday! Hang in there, everyone. :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dear Mom, These are the times that try Bakers’ souls.

And we ask thee, Holy Father, that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them, and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them. Doctrine & Covenants 109:22

Week of March 24 – 30

I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit that this week has given us a beating. Hopefully writing to you about it will be therapeutic and I will feel better afterward (and hopefully you do not feel worse after reading it. :)

First up was a lethal duel with our taxes – getting them filed in both CO and AR was tricky, even for the kindly AARP accountant who helped me. There was an orthodontist appointment for Fluffy during which a very nice person put implements of torture between his molars. There were bouts with the big D that showed me the inevitable effect of my two weeks of not exercising while ill. And those were just the high points of the week.

Just kidding. Actually there were a couple of brightly shining moments. Like a spring walk with Rosebud.

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And visiting teaching was a bright moment, too. Nothing like sharing your testimony to start feeling heavenly strength behind you.

Really, the hardest part of the week was just facing some tough realities about our situation. DC is working his living tail off and still feels like he’s trying to learn it all in a foreign language. He just found out that the seemingly ideal fieldwork assignment for the summer probably is not a good choice after all, and is scrambling to find a different one which he will likely need to commute to. I have started looking for a new place to rent and am despairing at the soaring prices. Our normal everyday schedule of Exacto in seminary and at one school and Fluffy homeschooled and Hummer at another school with no bussing and getting them to Scouts on two different nights and Rosebud having major tantrum issues blah blah blah – just normal family stuff – feels so heavy. The issues I am having with the big D are not helping, and it all feels like too much. We are cracking. The funny farm sounds like a lovely restful place. :)

On Saturday we went early to the temple and just sat in the parking lot for a while as I blubbered and tried to get calm enough to go in. Frankly, I was angry. Angry that we are having so many problems that we “shouldn’t” be having. Angry that our life is so different from what we had planned and hoped and worked so dang hard for. Really and helplessly furious at the fact that we are so strapped for time and money and emotional energy. I just felt like there was no help. That we are basically alone in these struggles. It was not one of my finer moments. (I am only admitting all this because I hope it will help me and maybe it will help someone else who is carrying particularly heavy burdens right now.)

It would be silly to have driven all the way down to Denver and not go inside the temple, so with eyes still red and swollen, I walked in hoping for a change of heart.

I have been going to the temple for nearly half my life now—I received my own endowment just after my 19th birthday and now I am 36. But that morning there were so many new things I learned through the Spirit. Some of them were things I knew but needed reminding – like why life is so hard sometimes. One was an overwhelming sense of awe and gratitude at the gift of the Atonement. How could I not see the hope that is in my life because of Christ?

I came out a different person. I felt strong and happy and grateful, ready to face again this challenging little moment in our eternal development. May those “clouds of glory” I was trailing last for a long time!

I have exposed a rather less-attractive part of my soul. I hope anyone reading this is gentle to me. And oh, how I hope I can continue to grow and change! I am such a baby. Obviously I need these sorts of tough times. . . .

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Fort Collins temple site in background

I am really, really excited about general conference this weekend! There I will hear words and feel things that will strengthen and comfort me and make me able to continue on.

Thanks for listening and for all the ways you help us. I know we are not alone, and in fact, ridiculously blessed.

Love,

Michelle

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dear Mom, There are benefits to ‘going green.’

Week of March 17 – 23

I am trying hard NOT to say that this past week—our Spring Break that we had looked forward to so much—was a huge disappointment.

Monday morning started off just dandy. We had green smoothies and Lucky Charms for breakfast. Lunch was nice, too, with “Green Eggs and Ham” Irish muffin sandwiches. And then it began. . .

Hummer took the St. Patrick’s thing a bit far when he threw up all afternoon and several times that night. Exacto and Rosebud joined him during the night. DC and I succumbed on Tuesday. All of us but Fluffy were lying around, groaning, cancelling plans right and left, not fixing meals because any food at all was intolerable.

On Wednesday we looked at the fridge and sobbed because Spring Break was halfway over and there was our Bucket List, with absolutely nothing crossed off! We decided it was time to change our attitude. We added something to the list that we could cross off.

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Aren’t we the great examples of making our own sunshine? haha.

Fluffy did have his own bout with the bug on Thursday, and so we all got a chance to share in the fun. We noticed there are actually several upsides to having an entire family losing their appetite for days.

Here are some benefits you can have by ‘going green’:

  1. Save $ on groceries – couldn’t believe how much food was left by Saturday!
  2. Don’t have to do chores (Hummer noticed this one on the day he felt better and I asked him to empty the dishwasher.)
  3. No energy to spare for contention :) It was an unbelievably peaceful week.

It was a crazy long stomach bug and affected us all slightly differently, but I’ll spare you the details. It was just a roller coaster for everyone, each feeling better for a while then going back to nausea, then feeling better, etc. By Sunday everyone was fine except me. :’(

During some of our up times, we did manage to squeeze out a few fun things with whomever was feeling up to it at the time.

Geocaching for the first time in CO

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Flying a kite for the first time in CO

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(Fluffy was pushing his luck by joining us. . . .)

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Looking back on it, I think this was the best part of the week. It really was magical.

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All of us managed to get the kite up, even Rosebud.

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So grateful that at least we had this happy time.

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And there was a little bit of park fun, like roller-blading and tennis.

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Below is a comical moment – for a minute Fluffy couldn’t see what had happened to the ball he just hit. . . .He looked all around for it while Exacto was laughing and laughing.

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We also watched Fiddler on the Roof over the course of four evenings and everyone loved it, even though it has a “sad ending.” I remember Dad saying that was his favorite movie –is it still?

DC had a busy Saturday away from home, I was still sick, and it snowed, for crying out loud, so we pulled out a special surprise we had been saving for just such an occasion. It was a hit, even for the non-princess-lovers. :)

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I think it is awesome that her buvvas will play with her like this. She is such a lucky little girl!

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On Sunday I stayed home with BYUTV and indexing while DC took the sweet ones to church. Here’s a picture of Rosebud ready for church except her shoes. :)

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And so, it wasn’t what we had hoped for, but I guess things could very well have been worse. (Aren’t you anxious to visit us now? haha.)

We’ll remember the kite. :)

Love,

Michelle

Monday, March 24, 2014

Dear Mom, We made it to spring break!

Week of March 10 - 16

This has been a kind of excruciatingly long 9 weeks, but we did it!

Highlights of the 9th week:

FHE outside because it was just too nice to stay in the house.

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(Not sure what our neighbors thought, particularly of the OT demonstrations :).

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This next picture made me laugh so hard. In DC’s defense, he was preparing for a test on MMT the next day and was trying to remember what was next in the order of how it’s done. Exacto doesn’t need defense – he is just super funny.

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Rosebud and Fluffy built an epic fort in our living room and spent hours in it. Fluffy even did all his afternoon schoolwork in there.

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Wednesday night was a Court of Honor, at which Fluffy received his 1st Class rank advancement and 4 merit badges. Yay, Fluffy!

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The best part of the week was that weekend, when we had a mini-family-reunion with DC’s parents, sister Heidi, and all the CO family at Bob and Daniela’s house. Mom and Dad Baker came back to Fort Collins with us and we spent Sunday together.

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Never did get a good photo of all of them together, drat it all.

On the way home from church, Fluffy spotted a free trampoline!

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I made DC pull over and he and Fluffy carried it all the way to our house, Sunday clothes and all. :)

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As they arrived, Hummer celebrated on the recorder. (See video).

ode to joy!

The best part was taking them to see the temple site. Big progress! It’s amazing how much it is changing every week now!

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We were excited to see that they had added this sign to the fencing.

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Dad Baker said it looks like they’ve started pouring concrete for the pilings. (Wish I had a closer up photo—if you zoom in you can just see the flags marking where the rebar for those are, and the huge drill for making the holes).

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Everyone say, “Hi, tripod!”

We were euphoric that evening, with a full week of Spring Break ahead of us, ripe with possibility . . . . .

Love,

Michelle