Monday, January 31, 2011

Christmas Surprise...in January

This weekend, I was sorting through the pile of papers on my counter, separating out bills (boo!), information to file our taxes (eh...) and all the wonderful Christmas cards that I got this year (yay!). 

I came across an unopened envelope, addressed to Josh and I, mixed in with the chaos. Somehow it made it into the "needs to be filed" pile, without me opening it, when I got it. Inside, was this beautiful card:
Front of the card

Inside of the card

There was no return address. There was no signature. There was no explanation.

However, there was money.

This has happened to us, before. We don't know who does it. Or why. It always touches us greatly and we are so thankful that someone would think of our family, during the Christmas season. I wish I knew who it was, so that I could express how thankful I am, to them. However for reasons unknown to me...they wish to remain anonymous. I can only hope that they read this and know how much we love them.

Like we have done in years past, we are choosing to "pay it forward". We will take half of the money and give it to another family, who we feel  may be able to use it. Someone has given us this unexpected gift and it only feels right, that we share it.

So, Christmas Stranger, I pray that you read this and you are blessed for your generosity and beautiful heart. I don't know who you are, or what we have done to deserve your love, but we are eternally grateful.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Can't We All Just Get Along?

Why is it that all men like to do, is fight?

This American Civilization class I am taking this semester is going to be the death of me. For hundreds of years, all the people did was fight. Then, every other day, they named it a different battle. How in the world am I supposed to remember who was fighting who, who was allies with who, what they were fighting for, where they were fighting and what the fight was called...when all they did was fight???

*sigh*

Josh just laughs at me. He's loving this class. If I have to hear him say one more time, "I don't know why...this just clicks with me.", I may have to hurt him. I understand that it's like one big loooooong, drawn out story. I understand that I should find it interesting and entertaining to learn how our country was founded.

But, I don't.

I just want to cut organs open and see what they look like inside!

That didn't sound morbid at all, huh? ;)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Unexpected Gifts

It's amazing how sometimes life gives you what you need...even when you don't know that you needed it. Looking back, those times have been some of the most profound moments of my life.

The first time I ever realized that life can sometimes throw you a curve ball, that ends up being a blessing, was when I found out Bailey was joining our family. We didn't plan on starting our family so young, however we knew immediately that we were committed to each other and this little baby. I've always referred to her as "the greatest surprise, that I never knew I wanted." She instantly filled a hole in my heart...that I never even knew was there.

Since then, I've been careful to take note of times in my life when I've been given things, that I didn't ask for, but I've so desperately needed. I try to be more aware and more thankful for these things, because they tend to have such a pronounced presence in my life. These things tend to lift me up, hold me together and fill voids, even though I was unaware that I was longing for any of this.

Friends that call, for no reason, just to see how I'm doing, on a day when I didn't realize that I was barely holding it together. Packages that show up in the mail, just because someone wanted me to know that they were thinking of me. A random, sympathetic smile from a stranger, watching me struggle with my kids. A rainbow on a sunny day, reminding me of Mom watching over us. A love note, tucked under my pillow, from Josh.

Sometimes, friends can also be brought into our lives that complete a piece of our seemingly completed puzzle. Friends that instantly feel like family, as if one soul says to the other, "Why, hello! I've been waiting for you to find me." Friends who you didn't know were missing from your lives, but who you now know that you can't live without.

These kinds of experiences are unexpected gifts. Gifts that you didn't know you needed. Gifts that you didn't ask for. Gifts that require nothing in return. Gifts that make you stand taller and smile brighter. Gifts that make you want to be a better person.

Those are some of the greatest gifts in life.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Just A Little Bit Longer



I wish every single day, that you could have stayed... just a little bit longer... till we were a little bit stronger.

I wish you could have stayed... to see Peanut run and hear Bailey play the piano.

I wish you could have stayed... to see Luke ride his bike and see what a big helper Avery is.

I wish you could have stayed... so that Ryleigh wouldn't still cry herself to sleep, because she misses you.

I wish you could have stayed... to see how well Josh is doing in school and so you could be here to see me hold my diploma. We want to make you proud.

I wish you could have stayed... so that you were only a phone call away. 

I wish you could have stayed... so that we didn't miss every little thing about you. Your hugs and your smile. The way you always dropped everything, to bake chocolate chip cookies. Your silly jokes and your laugh. The way you always made our birthdays so special. Your quiet strength and faith. The way we could talk for hours, about absolutely nothing. The way your house, always felt like home. The way you loved my kids, just as much as I did. Your horrible memory about little things...but you'd never forget the important things. Your endless "to-do" lists...that you'd usually lose amongst your billions of notebooks. The way you'd get so excited to go out to lunch with Aunt June. The way you'd shriek with excitement, when the kids would come running in the door, for a visit...and you never minded when they talked a mile a minute, all trying to tell you a story. The way your fridge was covered with their drawings...even more than mine is. The way you always took the time to listen.

I wish you could have stayed... just a little bit longer... because I don't think that I'm ever going to be stronger... or stop missing you.

Happy Birthday, Mom
1/26/61-5/19/09

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oh, I'm Learning From You, Alright

"Learn from the mistakes of others.
You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself. "
Eleanor Roosevelt

Observing how people have dealt with things recently, has taught me a lot. It has shown me how I do not want to handle certain situations in my life.

Seeing pain and hurt in someone else's eyes, has made me step back and realize what is important. Things that some people hold in high importance, matter very little, at the end of the day. Those remarkable things that may impress the world...do very little to impress those close to you.

So, thank you, for this little lesson. Now I know where to place my priorities in life, so that at the end of it, I can look back and be surrounded by the things...and people...that matter most.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Never Grow Up?


Dear Munchkins of Mine,

Mommy loves you. So much in fact, there is nothing in this world that I wouldn't deny you, or do for you. Everything I do, every single day, is to make your lives better. I work hard, to provide you with necessary things and a few fun times, now and then. I go to school, to show you that hard work and perseverance can get you get you where you want to be, in this life. I discipline you, to teach you that respect must be shown to others and to help keep you safe.

I understand the point behind this song...I really do. I look at your baby pictures and I look at each of you now and I want time to slow down. Hours melt into days, days melt into weeks, weeks melt into months and months have melted into years. I feel time running away from me. I see each of you blossoming into little people, who every day, need me just a little bit less.

However, isn't that a good thing? Doesn't your independence mean that I'm doing my job, as your parent? It means that I'm showing you how to be self reliant and responsible, so that one day you will be able to care for yourself and be a productive, happy member of society.

Like I said, I really do understand the point behind this song...and it's cute. However, it made me think. Even if I could block you from all of the hurt in the world and all of the negative experiences...would I? I don't think I would.

Having regrets means that you've learned a lesson, because of choices that you've made. I wouldn't want to take that away from you. One day, inevitably, someone is going to break your heart. It will be the worst pain that you will have ever felt and I will be waiting with open arms, for you to cry on my shoulder. But, this broken heart will serve a purpose later, when you fall in love. It will show you how sweet love can be. Much like a rainbow, after a storm, you cannot fully appreciate the beauty, without having first experienced the darkness. Being scarred by someone, isn't a bad thing, in hindsight. First of all, it serves as a reminder of how strong you are. Secondly, when a "scar" forms, that area is stronger than it was before. You are made tougher, by the trials you endure.

Everything that you are now, will never be gone. It is forever ingrained in you and who you are becoming. Just like your Daddy's freckles and your Grandma's laugh and my eyes...you will take your memories and your experiences of your childhood...into adulthood. Always remember how much I love you and even as you get older and...someday...    *gasp!*...fly out into that big 'ole world on your own, I am only a phone call away. I come running for skinned knees and bruises, now...and I'll come running for broken hearts and bad days, then.

Don't be afraid to grow up, my loves. There are far more wonderful things to experience in this world...than there are, to be intimidated by. There are also many wonderful, amazing people, to help you along your journey. Embrace growing up...just please...don't do it too fast. :)

Love, Mommy

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Welcome Home, Elder Cody Garrard

On Thursday, we ventured to the airport to pick Cody up. The kids were exceptionally excited to see him and had a hard time controlling themselves! They had waited a long two years for him to return from the Philippines and the last 20 minutes nearly killed them!
 ~Cody and Brittney~
 ~ Cody and Aunt June~
Mom wasn't there...but having her sister there to support him, was so wonderful. We don't get to see her as much as we would like and we really enjoy any time that we spend together. She has such a fun personality and it really feels like Mom is around, when we get to be with her. 

  ~Cody and Brittenay~
~Cody and ME~
A man's best friend. :) Joey jumped right up and snuggled with Cody. We all laughed over how a dog never forgets. We also had to laugh at how cold Cody was/is. He's so used to a different climate, that he's done nothing but chatter his teeth for the last three days!
Little Peanut, wasn't so little anymore! On the left is the day that we brought her home from the hospital, so about 2 months before he left. On the right, is Thursday. It's amazing how much she's grown! She has gained about 20 lbs and he's lost about 30 lbs! :) All that rice and fish...

Code,
We're so happy that you are home. We've really missed your sense of humor and your smile. I've missed being able to talk to you and knowing that you're always good for a laugh. I know you came home to a lot of changes and we are all here for you and love you very much.
Now, lazy butt, it's been 3 days...get a job, would ya? ;)
Love, Me

Friday, January 21, 2011

Because I Couldn't Say It Better


"...feel calm, I belong, I'm so happy here,
it's so strong and now I let myself be sincere..."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

...But, I Know I'll Make It Through...


Dear Mom,

We're going to pick up Cody from the airport in a few hours! It's going to be amazing to see him, after all this time. So much has changed in two years and I can't believe how fast the time has flown by. The few times that I have been able to talk to him, I'm able to tell what a wonderful man he has become. I know you would be so proud.

I can't wait for him to see the kids. They have changed so much and have grown up a lot. I know they will be a little shy, at first, but they will quickly warm up to him and talk his ear off. This morning they were so excited to be able to show him how long their hair has gotten and how tall they are. He is going to be amazed at the fabulous little people they have turned in to.

I'm so sad for him and us...and you...that you won't be there today, Mom. It's a Missionary Mom's greatest honor, to welcome her child home, after serving their mission. You should be there today, with open arms, a huge smile and happy tears streaming down your face. I can see Cody running to you, barreling you over and you shrieking...all the while laughing at yourself, for crying.

I hate, that once again, cancer has robbed our family of another memory. Another moment in time...ruined. I love you, Mom. I'll be hugging him extra hard for you, today...tomorrow...and always.

Love, Me

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Love

Love is a funny thing. You can't force it. You can't stop it. You can't control it. It just...happens.

Then, one day, you find yourself looking at your life...in shock..thinking, "Whoa...how in the world did I end up here?"

Love.

It's a word that gets overused. "I love spaghetti." and "I love puppies." and "I love those shoes."

That's not the kind of "love", I'm talking about.

I'm talking about the kind of love that makes you smile when they walk into a room. The kind that gives you comfort, knowing you can trust them to catch you, when you fall. The kind that forgives for mistakes and makes you laugh, on a bad day. The kind that doesn't ridicule or judge. The kind that is patient and gentle. The kind that still gives you butterflies.

I can see love.

In a smile. In a look. In a selfless gesture.

I can feel love.

In your kiss. In your hand, on the small of my back. In your fingers playing in my hair. In your hand, in mine.

Love is amazing...in that it gets even better with time.

I can't wait. I've got nothing, but time and I can't imagine spending it with anyone, but  you.

Love. It's such a funny thing.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I Love The Feeling Of...

...laughing till I cry.
...a warm blanket, out of the dryer. 
...a newborn snuggled into my neck.
...rain on my face. 
...my head on his chest.
...sweat; proving I've worked out hard.
...a child's hand wrapped around my finger.
...accomplishing my goals.
...your fingers absentmindedly playing in my hair.
...being loved and accepted...just for being me.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Missing You

Dear Mom,

You have been on my mind so much lately. I think about you every day anyway, but there is just so much that I want to tell you and it's tearing me up inside, that I can't. Your birthday is only a week away and it breaks my heart that you won't be here to celebrate it with us. We should be going out to lunch and having pedicures...instead, I'll be bringing flowers to a snow covered headstone.

I wish you could see how happy Josh and I are now, Mom. When you left, we were still going through our hard times and I hate that those were your last memories of us. We have worked out our problems and are now the strongest that we have ever been. "Happy" doesn't even begin to describe us. The past has been forgiven and forgotten and we have truly moved on. I'm so thankful, every day, that you raised such an amazing man.

The kids still cry because they miss you. I never tell them not to cry...how can I, when I still cry, too? There is so much that they are missing out on, with you gone and Bay and Roo are really feeling the void. They are always talking about the sleep-overs they had and making cookies with you. I try to fill your shoes, as best as I can, but let's be honest...there's no one like Grandma.

I wonder if I will ever stop reaching for the phone to call you. Or stop thinking, "I need to tell Mom...". Life has been changing so much lately and there is so much I'd love to talk to you about. You always knew how to listen and when to offer advice, or just offer a hug. I miss your hugs. I miss your sense of humor and your laugh. I miss the way you always made me feel at home and never made me feel like a burden or not worth your time.

I love you, Mom. Give Jared a hug for us. We miss him like crazy, too. Hold Carter for me and smother him in kisses. He's been on my mind a lot lately. I wish I knew the reason why people I love, had to leave.

Love, Me

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Welcome To The Circus

Life in my house can never be described as "dull".

The other night, I was preparing dinner and I hear, "MOOOOOM!!" Now, I hear this all the time in my house. It's like the ticking of the clock and a good 80% of the time, I don't even hear it. This time, however, it was followed by the words, "...there's a FIRE!" I immediately turn around and go racing into the front room, to find a piece of paper lying on the carpet...in flames.

Let me back up a little bit. I burn candles around the house. They aren't where Presley can reach them and all the other kids have had the fire safety talk a billion and a half times. It has never, ever been an issue before. However, for whatever reason...on this night...Luke decided to see what would happen if he touched a piece of paper to the flame. I think he panicked when he realized what he did, so he dropped it and ran.

I scooped up the paper as fast as I could and went tearing outside with this flaming mini-torch and threw it into the snow...right as our dinner guests were walking up the drive-way.

"Welcome to the circus!", was the only thing that I could even think of, to say...

*sigh*

Friday, January 14, 2011

I've Discovered the Secret to Happiness

Have you ever been happy?

I don't mean fake happy, where you plaster a smile on your face and pretend to the world that everything in your life is perfect. However, in reality you're hiding in the bottom of your closet, eating a bag of Hershey Kisses and crying.

I don't mean robotic happy, where you are smiling, cause that's what you've always done, but deep down you can't really think of anything to be happy about.

I don't mean just happy...

I mean HAPPY. Content. Peaceful, if you will. True happiness that exudes from every move you make and every word you say. Happiness that makes you feel complete and whole. Happiness that radiates off of you and makes people wonder what your secret is.

Because, I am that HAPPY. :)

You want to know my secret, huh? You want to know what little pills I'm swallowing several times a day, to cause it? You want to know where I'm stashing my lottery winnings? You want to know how I haven't gotten caught tying up and duct taping the children? ;)

None of those, are the keys to happiness. (Though, I dunno...after today, the duct tape doesn't sound like a bad idea...)

You really want to know?

C'mere. I'll whisper it to you.

STOP LIVING YOUR LIFE FOR OTHER PEOPLE!!!!

What? Yeah...I didn't stutter. Stop living your life for other people. Does that mean that I no longer take care of my family or volunteer my time or give help where it is needed? Of course not. That's not what I mean, at all.

Stop making choices in your life, based on what other people want you to do. Stop worrying so much about what other people think. Stop living your life in such a way that pleases everyone...except you. Stop doing "what's expected", if that doesn't follow the path you want for yourself. Stop trying to please everyone else, but overlooking what you need, to feel complete.

Sounds a little selfish...BUT IT'S NOT! It's the best thing you can do for everyone around you! Why do you think that you are counseled on an airplane to affix your own oxygen mask, before anyone else's? Because you are no help to anyone around you, if you aren't at your best. It's amazing what you can accomplish for other people and the world around you, when you feel right and centered within yourself, first.

I have never, in my life, been this HAPPY. My marriage is wonderful...better than it's ever been. I'm actually appreciating my body and the miraculous things it has been through and learning to love the flaws...though I have been working hard to fix a few. My kids still make me crazy, but I've had more patience with them lately. I'm still working full-time and going to school, but my schedule seems to be flowing better.

Is all of that coincidence? You think the Universe just randomly decided to throw me a bone and line up my life for me? Nope. I started living to make myself HAPPY and it allowed the rest of my life to fall into place.

However, if all else fails...there's always Hershey Kisses and duct tape...