Saturday, May 31, 2008

Confessions of a Women in Pain

On May 16, I woke up with a little backache. Ryan mentioned cleaning the garage so we had room to put the bikes. As I looked out in the garage I was hit with the overwhelming feeling that I wanted the job done. Knowing this feeling was fleeting, I decided to seize the moment. I popped an Advil and went to town. I moved all the heavy boxes, trash, ladders. I swept up. I arranged everything beautifully. Then the medication wore off. Not good. I went to bed, woke up not feeling much better. Went to the movies. Went swimming for a couple of hours. The pool is my enemy when I am in pain. Because I have that weightless, flexible feeling, I over did it BIG time.

I woke up on Sunday morning and knew that I was in trouble. So I went for the serious medication. Nothing. Called Kyle to take over my lesson at church. He compassionately said yes, but then told everyone about my predicament.

I woke up on Monday, feeling a little better. I didn't fool anyone while dropping off the Tiny Tots. Everyone was looking at me like I was in trouble. Kolette even volunteered to bring dinner. "No that okay, I hosting a BBQ tonight." Company comes over. We BBQ, we swim. I try to hide my pain. I overdo it in the pool AGAIN.

I woke up on Tuesday feeling like I just might die of pain. Even the girls' teachers were asking "you are much worse today, aren't you?" I missed Festival of Nations, which is my favorite school event of the year. Wednesday was bad, Thursday was bad.

Friday we were leaving for Phoenix and I knew that I could at least survive the drive. I love Marriott mattresses so I figured I could get comfortable in bed. I was very careful and cautious. I swam a little. I made it home. We went swimming with the family Monday night. I overdid it in the pool AGAIN. Stupid, stupid me.

Tuesday I wake up back to the worst pain of this experience. In tears I am pleading in prayer. "Please help me through this. Please let me know what to do. I promise anything. I will be good. I will be kind. I will be obedient. I will be a better person. I will be humble, just let me get through this." You know, my usual bargaining. As I am standing up, I hear this crackling sound, kind of like a cross between foil and wax paper being crumpled. Within minutes, I realize my back did the cracking.

I felt better on Wednesday. Much better on Thursday. Full range of motion on Friday. Pain free on Saturday as of May 31st. I am confessing this all now for two reasons: I am better and I did not want all you compassionate people running over with dinners AND Alysa was brave enough to confess her aches and pains. Oh yeah, I made a deal to be more humble. Oh yeah, that bargaining thing. I should also include more grateful.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend: Phoenix Trip

Ryan has been to Phoenix a number of times in the last few years on business. Each time he has returned, he tells us of it's beauty and goes on and on about how much he wants to take us. So with a holiday weekend, great Marriott discounts, and a family who was eager and ready and willing, we embarked on our adventure.

We left on Friday afternoon and stayed until Monday at the JW Marriott's Desert Ridge. We had tons of fun at the pools and the waterslide and especially the lazy river. This was one of the nicest hotels we have stayed in and we could have stayed a few more days and never left the property, there was so much to do. But since this was our first time, we had a few other things on our agenda.

One place that Ryan knew I would love was the Arizona Biltmore Hotel.

The only existing hotel in the world with a Frank Lloyd Wright-influenced design, The Arizona Biltmore has been an Arizona landmark since its opening on Feb. 23, 1929 when it was crowned "The Jewel of the Desert." The resort was designed by Albert Chase McArthur, a Harvard graduate, who had studied under Frank Lloyd Wright from 1907 - 1909 in Chicago.

I am a bit of a Frank Lloyd Wright/Arts & Crafts movement junkie, so the minute Ryan saw it, he knew he would be bringing me back. When Ryan visited, his boss, who loved the hotel, would take him to eat at the Biltmore (it was out of the budget range for the expense account to stay there, as it was for us as well) but they had dinner at Wright's. The hotel was beautiful and I loved showing the girls features and admiring the details. I loved the fact that everything in and around the hotel is an homage to Frank Lloyd Wright.

We went to Amazing Jake's with friends. When we had announced our intentions to visit Phoenix over Memorial Day weekend, in front of Brigham's dad, he enthusiastically suggested that Brigham come out also and the three of them play golf. Brigham and Jenn were considering it, so it was a done deal when a social event was planned. We would hang with the Curran clan.

Ryan, Brigham and Steve played golf that morning and met the rest of us (Jen & Rell, Brigham's mom, sister with husband and 4 kids, and brother-in-law with two kids) at Amazing Jake's for rides, games, and all-you-care-to-eat pizza. There was birthday cake for Rell (our second time celebrating the blessed event.) There were many laughs and good times. Maya did not care for the Frog Hopper (predictable) but Madison only crashed her go-cart once ( a marked improvement from the eight times at Legoland five years ago.)

It was fun hanging with everyone. Brigham's parents treated us. They are so generous to us. It is one thing for parents to treat their own children (that is fairly normal.) But to treat someone just because they are friends with your child? That is exceedingly generous. My dad would do that with me and my friends, so having someone take care of us like that was very special to me. I love being with people who treat you as members of the family. I love generosity as a character trait. I hope I am always in a position to treat my children and their spouses and children to dinner and shopping and vacations. I hope that I can take their friends out too.

Kierland Commons was recommended by Kodi, our resident expert. We loved it all and had quite the experience. (Note to all readers: the following is a graphic representation of an actual event. Those with a sensitivity to violent descriptions should skip to the next paragraph.) I assigned each big girl to each older girl, because there were too many pretty things to see. They had a Crate & Barrel that was the biggest one I had ever been to. It was two stories with the second story having all the wonderful, beautiful furniture that made me covet, covet, covet. Is that a sin? You bet. But I paid the consequence for it. I sent each group of children down the escalator. I was a tad delayed. While I came down, Maya and McK were come back up - just for kicks an giggles. So Monterey decided that she wanted to follow. Let me interject that Monterey has serious escalator issues. So I got down, only to realize that McK and Maya had gone back up and Monterey was getting on. Madison did not quite get to Monterey in time as she stepped on the up escalator. Monterey turned to catch Madison's hand, freaked that she was alone, causing her to fall backwards and roll in somersaults down those hard, metal, moving steps. I am freaking. Madison is running up to rescue her. Everyone else in the store is divided between looks of shock and concern for poor Monterey and looks of shock and disgust toward me. Madison rescued her, took her to the elevator, and rode that down while I got down and McK and Maya joined me. We left rather abruptly. Luckily Monterey was okay physically, only a little redness and scraping on her arm. Emotionally, I am not sure. She had issues before. I don't even want to deal with the next time. I see a lot of elevator riding in our future.

The Mesa Temple was our Sunday activity. We walked around the grounds and took pictures. We spent some time in the Visitor's Center looking at the "Reflections of Christ" photography display. It was beautiful and moving. I really liked the pictures of the ten virgins and the photos showing the preparation for the Crucifixion. They were reverent and brutal at the same time - not easy to achieve.

That night, Ryan decided we should go to Roy's. He knows that it is my favorite place to eat EVER. He had scouted it out the night before and was very specific in the location he wanted us to sit in and the time: 6:30, just enough time to enjoy the light, sunset, and the dark, surrounded with the torches and firepit and beautiful lakes. It was a plus that Kodi had helped to design it's interiors AND that Lillie had put into my mind that I had to eat the butterfish. When we arrived, they took the girl's names and gave them all their pineapple drink cups. Roy's does a terrific kids' menu. So I had to order the trio of butterfish, Ahi (as long as it's rare) and salmon. Maya, after tasting the butterfish, told the waitress that it should be on the kids' menu. Everything was so good and so beautiful with perfect weather and perfectly behaved children. When they brought out the kids' desserts, they wrote their names in chocolate. This was quite thrilling for the big girls 'cause they could actually read their names and ate each letter with sheer pleasure.

Was my description of perfect children nauseating to all of you? Well, give me a minute. Monterey complained of a tummy ache and was quite mellow and did not eat much. (Note to all readers: the following is a graphic representation of an actual event. Those with a sensitivity to gross descriptions should skip to the next paragraph.) When we got back to the room, while she was getting ready for bed, she proceeded to throw up AND have diarrhea, at the same time, while she was naked, all over the bathroom floor. So much for the perfect weekend. Someday, we will get through a vacation without any disgusting episodes. Someday.

Overall, we had a great time. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then having the experience is worth a thousand pictures. I love that now I know where Mesa is in relation to Scottsdale. I loved the details of design that were present in everything from the freeway retaining walls to the landscaping. I am a saguaro cactus nut. I love that I can now understand why so many people love Arizona and the Phoenix area. I am sold. I even went so far as to tell Ryan that if he were to get transferred to the area that I could be happy (in the past, I told him within 30 minutes of ocean was a mandatory requirement for my happiness, so this is a really big deal.) I love my husband and all the efforts he made to make this a glorious weekend. I love that we could spend time as a family. We all loved Phoenix.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Welcome to my World

I usually do not post videos on my blog because my goal is to publish a book. But after many requests from out-of-town family, here is the dance that Maya did in the Tiny Tots talent show. This is not from the actual talent show. The two videos are because I love both for different reasons. Monterey is doing it with her which she did not do for the actual performance. Maya actually choreographed this dance whereas Monterey is shadowing her and is fairly spontaneous. There is a slight Tonya Harding moment in it, but we kept it in for posterity. (Not the crushing of knee caps, the other one.)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Ryan's Promotion

Ryan has no tolerance for me to toot his horn. In fact, he usually gets mad at me for every little kudo I mention. Which amazes me, since he has very much the male ego. So I will post this and within a few minutes I will get a phone call telling me to take it off. But since I cleared it through his boss, too bad. This is for posterity and your daughters. So tough luck. Everyone is going to know how wonderful you are and everyone at home and work knows it anyway.

Congratulations Ryan. We love you and are proud of you.

DATE : 5/19/08

TO : Team Desert

FROM : Anthony Brick

CC : Dean Mattsson

SUBJECT : Ryan Caress promotion to Senior Marketing Manager

It is with great pleasure I announce the promotion of Ryan Caress to the position of Senior Marketing Manager. Ryan started with the MVCI in July, 2005 as the OPC Marketing Manager. In the fall of 2007 he moved from OPC to In-House Marketing Manager. In his current role he has led the In-House team to heights it has never seen before. As of Period 5, the In-House team is $2.4 million ahead of budget and 1283 tours over budget, with a 12% year to date closing percentage which is 2 points above last year.

Ryan will continue to manage the In-House Marketing department as well as assist in other areas of the marketing.

Please join me in congratulating Ryan in his new position.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Blogs & Missionary Work

M. Russell Ballard made the following statement/request to the graduating students at BYU-H in Dec. 2007 and the church opened it to all members and has asked that we all take it upon ourselves.

“May I ask that you join the conversation by participating on the Internet, particularly the New Media, to share the gospel and to explain in simple, clear terms the message of the Restoration. Most of you already know that if you have access to the Internet you can start a blog in minutes and begin sharing what you know to be true.”

I keep this on the sidebar of my blog. Partly to remind myself that I should be sharing and not be afraid to share my testimony on my blog and partly to justify spending endless hours on my blog and my friends’ blogs. However, since he made that statement, I have thought more about what my non-member friends and relatives think when they read some of my posts and try to put in links to the church website to explain those obscure terms that are unique to our church (i.e. FHE, EQ, General Conference, ward, stake, HT, etc.) I also made a decision that I would not pander to any audience, but try to express true feelings that I want my daughters to read in ten, twenty, or fifty years. My three main reasons for having this blog are 1. to write our family history (and publish it in book form,) 2. to connect with family and friends, and 3. because it is fun. Now I MUST add, missionary work.

Last night I went to a meeting/party where fellow members of my PTO Board and other helpers were putting together baskets and organizing items for the silent auction for the Festival of Nations. We were talking about everything under the sun: children, restaurants, politics, spouses, the economy’s affect on families at our school and fundraising efforts, yada, yada, yada. One of the women mentioned how much she loved reading my blog because it gave her so many insights into our church. About three other women chimed in and started practically quoting passages off my blog. They were all completely fascinated with my post about General Conference. I froze in my tracks as I quickly tried to recall what I had written. They asked me about how new prophets were chosen and what a solemn assembly was. They asked about Holland’s talk about continual revelation. They asked about Ballard’s talk and the church’s views on women.

But here is the catch. They were SO respectful and gracious and acted like I was doing them a favor by answering their questions. They felt that because I wrote from the heart (and not with a proselyting purpose) that I was sincere. They were so supportive and curious. Not a single person, out of the dozen or so women (most of them practicing members of the Catholic church or Southwest Community church,) was attacking me or challenged me on any point of doctrine. I have never had an experience like that before.

Now I am not saying that anyone asked to get baptized or to speak with the missionaries (yet), but I was able to share my testimony AT THEIR REQUEST because of blogging. I totally understand the power of the blog and Elder Ballard’s request. You never know who is reading, but truth and sincerity will win the day.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Tennis Lessons

All the girls have been taking tennis lessons at the IW Tennis Gardens. Here are some of the pictures from the big girls' class. Their coaches, Coach Lisa and Coach Tyler, are so patient and fun. (The older girls description is a little different-they push them a little harder when they are older.)

We had previously attend the Pac Life Open, so when we told Maya she was going to be taking lessons at the same place, she cried. When I asked what was wrong, she explained that she did not want to play in such a big place in front of all those people. I explained center-court was years away.

I don't know how much they really got out of it. I'm sure it helps with hand-eye coordination. It did get them excited to play tennis on the Wii.

They love their hot-pink Barbie type rackets. They loved all the little games and high fives. They loved racing to pick up all the balls afterwards. They loved the water breaks where they could grab their own cone shaped cup and get their own water just like a grown-up.

I just don't think they liked the part about the ball coming at them and they had to swing their racket to hit it. Unfortunately that is the essence of tennis and the stuff they liked has very little to do with the whole game. Oh well.

I have no pictures of the older girls (yet) because logistically it is just too easy to drop them off and go run errands than say and keep track of the two big girls running all over the place. Plus the older girls are still playing to I have more opportunity still to come.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Why I love being a mother . . .

It is almost a joke that I am trying to articulate this. Maybe if I had a better vocabulary or I was a great poet, I could do this. But I will try.

1. Having a baby immediately shifted all focus from my self to my child. Literally, in one moment, my whole life was changed. The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~Rajneesh

2. When I had a baby, I joined an incredible club. Sharing stories of pregnancies, labors, breast feeding, teething, and potty training with perfect strangers: this is the most bonding thing out there. A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. ~Tenneva Jordan

3. My children make me a better person. When that little voice explains right back at you what you know you should be doing . . . it is like Jiminy Cricket has come to live with you. It is better to just shape up than disappoint my children. "Over the years I have learned that motherhood is much like an austere religious order, the joining of which obligates one to relinquish all claims to personal possessions." -- Nancy Stahl

4. I am never lonely. I now have a team to do anything I want with. Who wants to go to the mall with me? Who wants to go drop off this plate of cookies? I always have someone. A suburban mother's role is to deliver children obstetrically once, and by car forever after. ~Peter De Vries

5. McKayla. She was my first. I always say that I could have had ten if they had all been like McKayla. She was 8 lbs on the dot. The rule of thumb is that babies should double their birth weight by 6 months and triple by one year. McK weighed in at 16 lbs at six months and 24 lbs at one year. How great was that? She was always so friendly, she would go to anyone. She had a great smile (still does.) She loved all the vegetables and fruits (still does.) We lived at Wymount, during her first year, in the bottom, corner apartment, on the way to the laundry. Everyone would come by and McK would be playing in the fenced off area on the porch which we had made into her playroom. She would greet everyone. She had a special bond with my dad. He would come up to Provo to baby sit during finals week, so we would not have to stress over babysitting issues (in truth, he never really trusted anyone else to watch her.) McKayla is now 12. She is teaching me a whole different set of things. I love her passion and kindness. I love her work ethic. She makes me laugh everyday.

6. Madison. She taught me that less is more. Madison would only be held by me, Ryan, my dad, my sister Karen, and Ryan’s grandfather. With everyone else, she would scream bloody murder and make them feel bad. She would only sleep for an hour and a half, then was up (this went on for most of her first year.) I learned so much about patience and love and service. But she was totally worth it. Mad always made everyone smile. Even as a baby she had the cutest little smiles that would let you know she was going to have a great sense of humor. She had a special bond with my dad. He would take her out to breakfast at Denny’s once a week and she would order “pooched eggs” (the waitress knew she wanted scrambled, but it was so cute, no one ever wanted to correct her.) And that was the way Madison was and is. She has her own way of doing things, but we love it so much, we don’t want her to change. I love her integrity and organizational skills. She makes me laugh everyday.

7. Maya. Maya was my healer. After Madison, I felt done. It was a comment made in RS that stung me in my heart that convinced me, we were not done. I got pregnant right away. My dad was diagnosed with cancer in April. I had a miscarriage in June. I got pregnant in August. My dad took a turn for the worst in April. Everyone was talking about his long-term procedures and therapies. I knew, a gift from the spirit, that he would die before I had the baby. I remember telling my bishop that the first week in May, when the doctors were still giving my dad six months to a year. I went on maternity leave from teaching and that very day my dad needed me all day, everyday. It was such a blessing to me to be able to spend every moment with him, at that point. He had a stroke-devastating to me because I could not communicate with him. During this time I was due, then overdue. I was going in for appointments and for stress tests. I knew that he would die and I prayed that I would not miss anytime with him and I wanted to go to his funeral. However, I also knew that if anyone knew that the doctor wanted to induce me, my family would insist that I follow doctor’s orders and that I would miss it all. So I put my faith in the Lord. I knew that I would end up in a c-section. The doctor told me that I needed to be induced. I said no, went to the car and cried my eyes out, then went home and told everyone that everything was fine. My dad died on June 2nd. His funeral was June 8th. I spoke and honored him. We went to the graveside, the luncheon, the hospital and Maya was born, by c-section at that night, 14 days overdue. Holding her healed my heart and was a manifestation of love like I had never felt before. She brings joy to me everyday. She is spunky and sassy and sensitive. She makes me laugh everyday.

8. Monterey. My bonus baby, not that she wasn’t planned for, but was definitely icing on the cake. She is a daddy’s girl, but still loves her mommy. She loves shoes and clothes. Her average is nine outfits a day, not counting swimwear and pajamas. Her favorite place to go is a shoe store, where she (wants to) try on every pair. She brought to our family a feeling of completeness. I love that she can turn any song into an homage to poop and pee-did I mention she is very crude? The problem is she is so funny that we laugh and this only encourages her to continue. Rey-rey promises me she will always be my baby. She makes me laugh everyday.

9. Ryan. I love Ryan as a father. And because of that, our love has deepened as I am amazed how this mass of testosterone has softened with each girl. He has discovered the best part of being the father of four girls: they take care of him. Motherhood would be meaningless without his fatherhood – kind of obvious, but true on many levels. You don't really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around - and why his parents will always wave back. ~William D. Tammeus

10. My Heavenly Father. At BYU Women’s Conference (back before they kicked out breast-feeding mommies,) I heard Janet Lee speak. (Her husband was president of BYU.) She said “the end result of child rearing is not the child, but the parent.” That statement rocked my whole world. I thought I was supposed to raise these children to be perfect adults. I am just supposed to give them the foundation of love, security, and the love of the gospel, (and all those other wonderful things-it really is a long list) so when they turn eighteen, they are ready to embark on their own quest for perfection. But in the meantime, who have I become? With love, patience, understanding, a proper respect for agency, selflessness, endurance, (and all those other wonderful things-it really is a long list) then I will become like my Heavenly Father and know what His parenting is like. There are times when I really get this. There are times I forget. I would be a better mother, if I remembered more frequently. This process is transforming me, hopefully. Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels. –J. Reuben Clark

Oh by the way, did I mention how much I love the Mother's day presents? This year my gift was the Wii. Hours of fun to come.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Random May Fun

We celebrated Rell's first birthday. Cousin Sterling was also there so we had fun playing in the park together. Cupcakes, presents, good food, good company, singing, frisbee toss, and that sweet smile. How could we not have a good time?

Tiny Tots had a field trip to Freedom Park. Not only is it amazing new, clean park with all the right features (awesome play equipment-near clean well-stocked bathrooms-shade structures-AND a misting system) but it was fun hanging with the other Tiny Tot moms. What a nice group of moms. I am going to miss seeing them all twice a day, four days a week.

Several days a month it is always SOMEONE'S birthday at Tiny Tots. Monterey thinks it is funny to get food all over her face. So here she is, cracking herself up, eating her chocolate cupcake with white buttercream icing. Frosting makes a pretty good accessory - at least it is sweet to kiss her.
The girls were so excited about their new outfits, courtesy of Costco. They even discovered that each one matched their older sisters' American Girl Dolls' pets: Coconut & Licorice. See, even dogs can be accessories.
Maya decided to take her trophy from soccer to sharing time at Tiny Tots. So, of course, Monterey had to have one to. Since she has not played yet, she grabbed one of McKayla's old ones. Trophies can be accessories too.

"I just cannot get over how cute we are!"

"I could spend all day staring at myself."