Sunday, February 28, 2010

Week Ending 2/28/10

This has been a rough week. We've all been fighting various strains of the cold. I've been tired, cranky, and moody. It's come to a point where I've decided I need to start prioritizing my life. We made the decision for me to go to work full time, though I'm still not completely sure it's the best decision right now. The suburban started to shoot smoke through the vents at me, the washing machine is making a bad, squeaky noise, and we still need to file our taxes. These are things that would just be easier to deal with if my schedule were more flexible. And the reality is that I have great bosses who allow me to be flexible. But my work ethic won't allow me to take advantage of that.

The highlights of this week were two birthdays. Nicholas turned 7 on Wednesday and Daniel celebrated his 12th birthday today. We had a combined birthday party on Friday after school. It was actually very nice. We had it at Peter Piper Pizza, the only thing I had to bring were the cakes. It probably ends up costing less and being much less frustrating for me to do it this way.

Today Daniel was sustained in Sacrament Meeting to receive the Aaronic Priesthood. He was then ordained a deacon and had the Aaronic Priesthood conferred upon him during the 3rd hour of church. Neil did the ordination, and I was interested to hear the blessings he pronounced on Daniel. I wonder sometimes if Neil sees Daniel's behaviors as positive traits or annoying habits. The blessing mentioned Daniel's sensitive nature and how his awareness of others will be a blessing to him as he carries out his duties as a deacon. It also mentioned his great faith and his intelligence. One of the things the Bishop had asked Daniel to do during his interview was to memorize the 13th section of the Doctrine and Covenants. I was very proud of him as he stood at the pulpit and recited it. I do wonder, though, if he truly understood the meaning of the words or if he had simply memorized words with no meaning. I guess I'll have to ask him about that.

Our home teacher came tonight. We love having him in our home. Cierra had been feeling sick so asked if he would help her dad give her a blessing with the oil. I had asked for a blessing last month to help me deal with my finger which causes me pain off and on. Cierra has always gone to her dad whenever she feels sick or scared to give her blessings. I am in awe of her faith at such a young age. She knows the power of the priesthood and relies on it constantly.

Neil and the older boys are off at a youth devotional. Daniel had his board of review earlier for his 2nd and 1st class ranks. He is off to a good start and I think he will be a good addition to our small troop. They now have 3 active deacons and 2 who are semi-active. The two come from split families so I believe they are as active as they can be given the situations. Now if only we could get some more teachers. Aaron is the only one who shows up for the mid-week activities and I know it is hard for him to stay focused when there really is no camaraderie. We had a Little Philmont last weekend and the main message I got from it was that the general authorities want us to expand through recruiting (i.e. missionary work) rather than compress by consolidating either within the quorums or unilaterally with other wards. I applaud the idea, but I wonder how Aaron can have any success in this endeavor. He has many friends at school, but his closest friends are already involved in scouts either with traditional troops or in other wards in our stake.

Well, I need to go convince the little guys that they really should be asleep by now. 5:30 is going to come very early.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

This Old House

I'm going to miss this house. It was the one that I thought we would raise our children in. The one that we would grow old in together. The one that would be filled on the holidays with the joyous sounds of children coming home from college, missions, and with families of their own. We talked about how when the kids got older and moved away, we would still sneak out to the pool for night swimming. We planned on what to do with all the extra rooms once they were gone. My own sewing room, an office, an exercise room - the possibilities were endless. Now the dreams have ended.

I guess they actually ended a year and a half ago when Neil lost his job and we watched our savings slowly drain away. When we realized we couldn't afford to live here so stopped making payments altogether. When we put the house on the market first at regular price, then as a short-sale. The past year has been hard. With the acceptance that we would eventually have to move, I pulled back emotionally from friends and acquaintances. Why strive to form bonds when they would be severed in the end anyway? I've moved enough in my life to know that nobody really has the time or energy to make a friendship last regardless of best intentions.

And the process has dragged on. It would have been so easy to walk away a year ago. There was no positive attachment to the ward as a whole. The little kids were still young enough that no lasting bonds had been made either at school or at church. The older kids had been through previous moves so another wouldn't be a big deal. We've now had three offers on the house. The first two took four months each time for the bank to get close to a decision. The first buyer walked before we could get the bank to agree. The second buyer walked two days before receiving the approval letter from the bank. This time it's an investor who has actually been wanting the house all along. We've been told by bank representatives that this time it should go quicker.

I'll be relieved really when it's over. And I am past the point of caring whether the bank accepts the offer or just goes through with the foreclosure. Yes, I would prefer the short-sale because it does look better on the credit ratings, but given the recent economic downfall nationwide, it's not like many people have stellar credit anymore anyway. I just want to be done so that I can unpack boxes and get on with the business of living. But it is still hard. There is a part of me that really would like to be able to save this house. I know it's a financial impossibility. I also know that Neil wants to be done altogether for a number of reasons. I respect that, but I still can't help but hold on to a few of the dreams. The ones where I have a spare room to have grandkids stay the weekend or a devastated child get back on his or her feet. The ones about night swimming in the pool when I'm 80. The sewing room and the ever allusive dream of being organized. The dream of owning a home that truly is home.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Til Something Better Comes Along

As we approach Valentine's Day and the world around us is filled with heart-shaped balloons, cute stuffed animals, and flyers portraying a variety of jewelry, I can't help but reflect on the love lives of my close friends and other acquaintances. Relationships are difficult. Hopefully, the longer you are together, the more unified you become. Supposedly, marriage vows are meant to strengthen the relationship bonds by providing promises to have and to hold, for better or worse, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, til death do us part or for time and all eternity.

Instead, what I witness is a cynical approach. The thought, if any, behind the promises is about tax write-offs, staying together for the kids, and staying together until it gets to hard or something different comes along. The first year is often the most difficult. You have come out of the honeymoon stage and realize that despite the best of intentions, you are not married to Prince Charming or Mrs. Right. For many, this disillusionment is considered to have been dishonesty or misrepresentation on the offender's behalf. The reality is that we all want to be the person we portray ourselves to be and it is only after time that we realize that we can't live up to the ideal we set forth and disappoint both ourselves and our partner. Some partners are forgiving enough or loving enough to accept this human frailty and keep on putting up with us. These are the lucky couples. They will persevere and find joy in each other's company. They will live up to the vows taken at marriage and continue to love, cherish, honor, and obey even when it is difficult to remember why exactly they took those vows.

Sadly, others will look for their ideal person elsewhere. They will refuse to acknowledge that even as they have been disappointed, so have their partners. Instead of recognizing that this may be a portion of the "worse" instead of the "better" and strive to focus inward on the marriage and the partnership, these individuals will look outside the relationship with the idea that something better is out there and will cause them to be happier.

What a selfish outlook. They disregard the wake of disaster they leave in the path behind them as their partners and children are left to pick up the pieces. What is truly sad is that this new adventure will most likely end the same way and more lives will be destroyed and happiness will never truly be obtained. They are unlikely to realize that they need to change themselves and be that something better and create their own happiness.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cute Stuff

Nick: Mom, is that stuff dad puts under his arms called yogurt?

The McDonald's has an air hockey table. Since the youngest three are a bit too short to reach the table adequately, we drag chairs over. Nick used the chair for better reach. Rachel used the chair to climb onto the table. She's the winner because not only does she have better control of the table, she effectively blocks her goal with her body.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

This classic story is the one chosen for this month's book club. Surprisingly, it is not one I had previously read. I suppose I thought it "too girly" as a child and it wasn't something I chose to read later in life. I am glad to have had a reason to add it to my "have read" list.

Anne of Green Gables highlights the life of a young orphan girl brought mistakenly to the home of Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert - elderly siblings wanting a boy to help out with the farm. We first meet Anne at the train station, an 11 year old disgrace full of optimism. She is a realist full of fanciful notions, and though she is a bit too chatty and direct in her comments, she is a delightful child.

We follow Anne's progress through school, family life, and friends for the next five years. We rejoice in her triumphs and feel heartache through her sorrows, and we applaud her as we realize that she has developed into a bright young woman.

Although there is nothing magical or cinematic about this story, only those who have read it can understand why it is considered a classic.

Week Ending 2/7/10

It has been a busy week with some triumphant moments. The biggest happened on Wednesday. Rachel turned 4 years old and, true to her promise, started wearing underwear. She had a couple of accidents, but has picked up on the urges pretty well and has been doing very well. I gave her the option of underwear or pull ups for church and she chose underwear. Yay Rachel!

Last night was our district Volunteer Recognition Dinner for scouts. I MCd again with the help of a 100 year scouter. Our Council CEO was present and commented to our district commissioner that this was the most entertaining dinner he had ever attended. I brought home a couple of plaques myself - one for the Tiger Den Leader of the Year and one for Scouting Spirit. I don't think anybody becomes a scout leader in hopes of getting a plaque or any other recognition, but it is nice to have your hard work acknowledged.

Other highlights of the week was Wednesday night's Pack Meeting, Thursday night's Roundtable Meeting, and meeting a deadline at work on Friday. We also received word that the bank had finally accepted the short sale offer only to find out that the buyer had walked. What this means is that we are now in negotiations with the other bank on the 2nd loan and busy trying to find a buyer who will come in and accept the offer as is. In the meantime, we are basically going to look for a rental house to move into at the beginning of March. The idea is that whether we find a buyer or end up in foreclosure, we will have a satisfactory roof over our heads. Prayers would be much appreciated.

On to another busy week.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

I admit, I love Dan Brown. Well, maybe not so much him as his books. Truth be told I've never actually met him, so yeah, it must be his writing I am so fond of. I read The DaVinci Code before it was a movie. I'm not sure it was even a popular book when I read it. It may have been and I just didn't know it. That happens a lot in my life. I'm actually more relevant than I realize because my eclectic taste in literature, music, movies, etc. means that at some point I will have already read, listened to, or watched something that is now mainstream popular.

I digress. The DaVinci Code intrigued me. I have a sort of interest in history. I like learning things that are put out there, but I really don't want to have to go delve to determine how much of what is put out there is actually true. This is fine as long as I don't spout off history learned in novels as actual historical fact. When Angels & Demons came out as a movie, I had to read the book. I still haven't seen the movie, though I'm interested in how close they portrayed the book in the movie. I was on a Dan Brown roll and so had to read The Lost Symbol. I imagine it too will be made into a major motion picture. It certainly is written well enough to have some great Hollywood effects.

The reason I like Dan Brown's writing came to me as I read The Lost Symbol. I don't know how much of what he includes is true fact, what is myth brought to a possible truth, and what is just made up. He makes it all very intriguing and believable. He also adds in some great twists and turns in the plot that are not so obvious but yet you later think "I should have seen that coming."

The Lost Symbol deals with the secrecy of The Masons throughout history and one man's ploy to unravel and reveal all to the world. At least in a way that makes the Masons look really, really bad. I have a modest interest in The Masons. Major historical figures have been identified as being part of this group. Again, I do not know how much of what Dan Brown included in the novel is accepted as truth or near-truth. But it is written in such a way that the reader wants Professor Langdon to protect the secrets, even at the risk of losing the lives of loved ones and self.

This is what I find so intriguing. It is just a story. The horrid events that happen to people aren't really happening to people. And yet, I find myself so completely wrapped up in the lives of these characters that I want them all to be okay and I find myself feeling sick to my stomach when vicious killings occur, particularly to innocents just doing their jobs. Dan Brown writes in such a way that the reader is pulled in and becomes emotionally involved. He makes us care about the characters - even the minor ones.

Even if there is going to be a movie, I suggest you read the book.