Sunday, January 14, 2018

A Birthday! A Birthday!



A few things (most things?) have not turned out the way I had always planned prior to being married. I thought our home would feature children. At least one child. But no. I thought I would DO all kinds of things...GET to do all kinds of things as a wife and a mother. But no. I thought I would plan and plan for days and ways to celebrate my husband's birthday, making everything just perfect for him including his favorite homemade meal and cake from scratch. I thought there would be elements of surprise and anticipation. I thought I would share my Jody soul by thinking of him and pleasing him. But no. Oh no. No, The Ranger likes to do his own birthday. And so I let him. In the early years of our marriage, most of my attempts got returned to the store or shut down or looked at with confusion, possibly dismay. So I have just stopped worrying about his birthday. It happens automatically.

One example of a "failed" attempt: For his 40th birthday, I contacted all the family and friends I could think of to write a letter to K to put into a binder so that he could enjoy the sentiments and thoughts of those important people in his life. I knew that throwing a surprise party would not be a happy occasion for him, so I went the letter route instead suspecting it would be more low-key and private. Went over like a lead balloon. He was not particularly thrilled with this gesture. It wasn't his love language.

Once again, it's his birth month and I haven't done a thing. I haven't even looked at birthday cards. Here's a list of his "celebrations" so far: We were in SLC and had the chance to eat at The Roof restaurant. All in the name of his birthday coming up. So that was the kickoff. He needed to see the latest Star Wars movie, so he did that by himself after school one day. Instant Pot was not brought by Santa, but fortunately, someone has a birthday within 30 days of Santa's arrival, so he made sure Instant Pot was ordered through Amazon. Temple session! Family names! Went to the high school basketball game. Saw another movie (I got to go this time). Ate at Olive Garden. Shopped for an ice cream cake at Cold Stone (ate ice cream there, brought a quart of ice cream home, but did not purchase an ice cream cake). Requested Swiss Steak for one meal and Lasagna for another (does anyone else get to request TWO homemade birthday dinners and not think they are pushing it a little? Or eat out twice for their birthday??). Yep, every year he gets 4 birthday dinners--two at restaurants and two at home. Purchased three types of cake at the grocery store bakery to sample various flavors (has rejected the idea of a homemade cake, but honestly, it was probably to spare me the time and trouble, he's very sweet in that way). Side note: he looked at all the Costco cakes, but decided to go a different route! Cake! FROSTING! And he bought a half gallon of ice cream at the grocery store as well. Going to the Jazz game. Purchasing a new Jazz t-shirt. Bought two new suits--blue and charcoal (which could double for my birthday because I've been trying to get him into a suit for 13 years and finally, he just walked into a store, got measured, and did it, so Happy Birthday to ME! Surprise!!! The sales clerk was smooth as butter and involved both of us in all the decisions). Almost forgot...Daylight Donuts and Chocolate Milk TWO mornings in a row!

I just smile and allow him to continue. I just let him do what he wants (not that I'm in charge or have ever tried to control him). It's his birthday! I watch...and marvel. Please note, we're only half way through the month!

My birthdays are a little different. Coming from a family that has hardly remembered my birthdays, most notably missing my 7th and my 16th, and most of my adult birthdays (parents too busy to celebrate on a schedule), I'm pretty much pleased with anything. I watch all the teachers on our faculty who have birthdays during the school year and how their students and room parents go all out and I...just can't comprehend all the attention received...because no such thing has happened to me by having a summer birthday. Colleagues have suggested that I simply tell my class my birthday is during a school month so I can enjoy the gifts. It's just not me to do something so contrived. Last time I got a sweet card (he's really good at cards) and he took me to the breakfast buffet at Old Faithful Inn before heading off to work. And I was happy and satisfied with such a celebration.

All in all, every day's a holiday with my husband, and every meal's a banquet. I love him so much and am truly thankful for our temple marriage and all the things we've learned and all the fun we've had. I just can't believe how much birthday happens in January!

By the way, the above "real us" photo was a selfie on the ferry in British Columbia (through the islands) in November 2017. We were the only passengers out on the deck.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Busting Dad Out of Rehab



Dad probably wouldn't like the fact that I'm posting his picture on the internet, but Heavenly Father loves him and orchestrated a miracle for him. We got to be a part of that, so I wanted this to be my last post of 2017.

We woke up in Billings, Montana on Thursday 28 December 2017 with the intention of visiting Dad at a horrible place (where Mom was before she died) called Missouri River Center (it's a tiny bit better now than when Mom was there, but still horrible). Dad was in acute rehab there after being in acute rehab at another place after being in a hospital room after spending five days in ICU which all happened after his helicopter ride on Sunday 12 November 2017 when he was found unconscious on his bedroom floor. The diagnosis was a staph infection in his leg that had turned into sepsis. I flew up there that same day and had to leave him in ICU a couple of days later in order to get back to teaching. K met me there by car. Dad has no memory of us being there at that time, though he was talking to us and knew us by name.

So yeah, we wanted to see him for Christmas. I was terrified to proceed in the midst of a winter storm warning, but K felt like we could drive it okay, so after prayer and tears and phoning a friend for a road report, we headed to Great Falls. On the way I received a phone call from Dad's social worker at the center stating that miraculously, an apartment became available for him in another city and he could leave as soon as the doctor signed the papers! The following morning we were able to get Dad, stop off to take care of some of his business errands, and move him to his new place. That one act of faith (driving in the storm) turned into a wonderfully timed miracle.

When we got there on Thursday afternoon, Dad explained that someone had stolen all of his clothing except for what he was wearing. He was wearing a blue sweatshirt, black sweatpants, socks, and slippers. And the same pair of underwear, his only pair of underwear. The previous Friday he inquired about laundry procedures and they told him to put his stuff in a bag with his name on it and they would launder it. The clothes never came back. In fact, he saw another patient wearing one of his shirts. He filed a complaint and gave details such as brand names, sizes, colors, and costs. They said they would send a reimbursement check to him. They didn't care that he only had the underwear he was wearing! So off we went to Walmart that evening to guess at Dad's sizes: underwear, shoes, pants, shirt, and a few other things for his apartment (bedding, towels, soap, toilet paper, and so on).

I gave him my hoodie to put over his sweatshirt and he walked out of there, strong and confident. However, he did some very touching, Christlike things on his way out that I will always remember and hope to emulate. He stopped to say goodbye to Dale, a fellow in the hallway seated in a wheelchair. He wished him the best and told him it was a pleasure meeting him. They shook hands. I cried a bit. He thanked the nurses and other people who had assisted him. The CNA who walked with us to the car had the pleasure of my dad looking her in the eye and hearing him say, "You're one of the great ones!"

He said it was a fairy tale ending to a bad predicament (actually getting out), but that he wasn't feeling as happy as he thought he would. However, as we put more distance between us and that prison (he consistently used words/phrases while incarcerated such as walking around the compound, the guards, prison, rations, and other such jargon), he began to perk up, naming all the familiar places and telling stories. We stopped to grab a few things (in -23 degree windchill) and K brushed off his pickup to drive it to his new place for him. One of Dad's friends gave him a sturdier pair of shoes to wear since those slippers weren't going to last long in the snow and cold. We stopped at the post office to change addresses and then I drove my father to his new town and new digs, enjoying his reflections and comments about a great range of topics.

I warned him that we had to leave as soon as possible due to the storm and that I was so sorry we were literally dumping him off. We got him to his apartment (he noticed the dance floor had room enough for four couples) and then down to the dining area for lunch. He insisted on walking us out to our car so we hugged and kissed goodbye. And cried. Seeing those tears in his eyes just killed me so I ran back in, trailing him, so I could snap a couple of pictures.

My brave dad who has hunted lions in Africa and has endured so many things that life brings to one who has reached eighty, shut those tears down quickly and marched right into his new circumstance with a smile on his face. When I caught up to get a photo I heard him say to the people at his lunch table, "Hello, Folks! My name's Gary!"

And that's how it's done. That was a Gordon B. Hinckley move right there. Optimism in the face of the unknown. And you know what else? He worried about us all the way home.

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Whole Ugly Christmas Sweater Thing

I don't recall if I've sounded off about this previously or not, but I greatly dislike the whole fad of wearing "Ugly Christmas Sweaters."

I have done zero research, so these are just my thoughts. First of all, someone decided that something was ugly. Sounds clickish. They started picking on a certain type of clothing that some people wore. Sounds like bullying. I'm guessing the people that wore those sweaters (before the whole UCS thing gained strides) thought their sweaters were cute or festive. People don't generally wear things that they think are awful. And yes, I'm stereotyping an older generation. How insulting for those cute ladies to discover that some other people were/are mocking them.

The other thought that comes to mind is placing the word "ugly" right next to the word "Christmas." Christmas contains the word "Christ" and I don't like hearing the word ugly next to the name of my Savior.

I know, I know...it's just meant to be fun and funny...but I think it brings a negative focus to what's supposed to be a festive, positive holiday.

Yeah, I never have been good at dressing up for parties.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Few Things to Remember...November 2017



We loved our trip to BC, Canada and no, I don't have time to blog about it. We did visit the grounds of the Vancouver Temple and we did endowments for my uncle and aunt in the Seattle Temple on the way home. We are so blessed to have had this vacation together. So little time...

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Kaibab Squirrel



There's this rodent around the North Rim of the Grand Canyon known as the Kaibab Squirrel and it looks like an odd skunk. They move quickly so until I saw my photos, I would have described them as black squirrels with bushy white tails. Well, they have other color as well, but they are a sight to see. I don't know why I never saw them before at the North Rim. Or maybe I just don't remember, but this time, they made me pay attention!

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Whole Halloween Thing 2017

I try to keep it fun for my students. I do put on the semblance of a costume. I grin and bear it through the forced parade at my school, loathing the fact that I have to walk past hundreds and hundreds of parents, to be "on display." I am truly thankful for the parents who bring the party and I do wonder how much they spent! The kids absolutely LOVED the party!

However, Halloween hasn't been fun for me for years! When we were first married I rallied to buy pumpkins for our little home and make things festive, but my husband kept asking, "Why?" He doesn't have a lot of Halloween spirit either, unless someone dangles a product with the name Reese's under his nose. I would like to think things would have been oh so different had we been gifted children. I really would have taken them trick or treating. I would have thought about their costumes way ahead of time. But...no children were sent to our home, so I guess I've become a bit of a Halloween grouch.

First of all, between the parade and the party, we lose most of our instructional time on that school day. Do you realize how much stress I feel to get through the curriculum? Do you realize how much more anxiety is attached to my job then say, five or six years ago? Scores are going up, but at what price? The loss of a day of school costs me as a teacher. I can't enjoy the "soft" school day because it only makes me get further behind.

Secondly, the kids are not themselves. There's something about putting on a costume that makes them forget their manners, our procedures, and how to separate reality from fantasy. It's a trying day in terms of management. Couple this with the consumption of a lot of sugar, and the emotional anticipation of heading out after school to beg for even more sugar...well, I've lost them you see.

Last of all, ...I originally wrote a lot here, but decided I could get in trouble if the wrong people happened to read it, so in the interest of staying off the evening news, I'm taking it down. It's come to that. You can't really be your real self on your own blog. No, not if it's public. And no, not if only 17 people read it.

And I don't know why I never put this together before, but it smacked me in the face this year, after my cousin posted a photo of herself with her siblings in their costumes as children, that there is not one single Halloween photo of me or any of my five sisters anywhere in existence...because my parents never took a picture. They never did much for Halloween either. I don't remember trick or treating more than twice perhaps and I don't remember anything about costumes other than perhaps buying one at the store once. I have no memories of being a witch or a fairy or anything at all. Don't worry, they were great parents in many ways, but nobody doted on us for Halloween. I'm sure they were working at their store until it closed at 8:00 p.m. I do remember one year Mom and Dad came home from the store after they closed at 8:00 p.m. Pumpkins had been purchased for us, but we hadn't done anything with them. It was too late to trick or treat so my dad said, "Girls, we're going to carve pumpkins!" Kudos to him for trying to make things at least a little festive, but even as a child I distinctly remember thinking, "It's too late. Halloween is over. Why bother?" I dutifully sat on the kitchen floor scooping all the guts out of my pumpkin, going along with the whole thing, just like I go along with it every year at my elementary school. Parents, the way you spin something to your child really DOES matter. It really sets a tone.

After school, I ran to the hospital for my mammogram. They were giving out chocolate truffles and compact mirrors. Then I ran home to pick up my husband and off to the temple we drove to be proxies for my aunt and uncle (baptisms for the dead). We were the only patrons at the font. It was a great experience! Then we went to the Olive Garden where we were seated immediately and served immediately by Oscar. We ate well and used a gift card. Then we went shopping at Kohl's. We were the only customers in the entire store and loved having the place to ourselves. So relaxing. So there. My professors told us there would be no class, so for once, I had a free night--no class, no church meetings, no scouting...finally! A chance to shop once. Halloween ended on a great note! I'll keep trying to get used to it.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Paria Riffle



After The Ranger emerged victorious from the Grand Canyon, I took him to our lodge and put him to bed after his shower and snacks and drinks with both Tylenol and Ibuprofen. The next morning, we made a couple of stops around the South Rim and then left the park. We stopped at Navajo Bridge and Lee's Ferry. We walked down to the Colorado River to stretch The Ranger's legs so he could keep moving here and there. Playing in the river was perhaps the highlight of my personal Grand Canyon Adventure. I waded and splashed and gloried in the feel of it all...the textures. There was a perfect rock to sit upon whilst drying toes and getting the sand off prior to putting the socks and shoes back on. Just perfect. So lovely. I am an extremely cheap date.