Wednesday, December 29, 2010

my favorite christmas present this year.

a $5 jewelry set from walmart,
picked out by my little fella caleb.
a pair of earrings, and a necklace
in the shape of a "C,"



"the C is for Caleb,"  he said with a smile,
"so that when you wear it you can think of me."

that boy sure melts my heart.

Monday, December 27, 2010

{on our 8th anniversary} the story of the rock heart. part 2.



so here we are, the group of us, just before we left for our 3 day backpacking trip.




notice my hair done & make-up on?  don't judge me, i was a novice.  

we enjoyed the ride down with windows open and chicago playing in the background.  {ben's oldest brother matt was driving & he is a forever lover of the 80's.}

we got to our first campsite and slept just outside the car.  the next morning we had "our last meal," egg burritos.  we filled up our water bottles, got our trail mix ready, and started off on the first leg of the hike.

i had no idea what i was in for.

the first few miles were a downhill descent through a crack in the middle of two rock walls that only allowed enough space for a human, not including our backpacks.  

much like this:



***picture provided by google.


so we had to belay the packs down with ropes.  as the group explained what we were doing and acted like this was no big deal, i knew at that point that i was in over my head.  and that was just the beginning.

but i kept going, pushing myself to physical limits i hadn't been pushed to before. the whole time watching ben with scrutinous eyes.  

the second day my knee was hurting, and we had stopped to rest for a few minutes and have lunch.  i tried not to complain because i didn't want to be a pansy...or have anyone regret that they invited me, so i just sat down on the rock, pulled off my knee brace and started rubbing my knee.  before i knew it, ben had grabbed my backpack and wrapped it around the front of his body, with his own backpack around the back.  he walked like this for about an hour.  i have a picture of him wearing both packs, but i couldn't find it.

on the second night, we had pitched our tents and finished dinner.  ben and i had some time alone.  he told me how much it meant to him that i was there, that he knew it was hard on me and he appreciated me so much for coming.  he told me why he loved nature so much, that when he's outside, he feels the closest to God.

 he gave me a rock that he had found.  it was small, and shaped like a heart.  i put it in my pocket, and then he kissed me.  even though we were sweaty and grimy and had dirt in our teeth, it didn't matter.  i knew i loved him.

the third day was the most brutal, and the day i saw my life flash before my eyes.
we had the choice to either hike up what was called a "scramble" and then it would be just one more mile to reach the car....or we could hike 7 more miles to get out to the car.  since i had no idea what a scramble was, and it sounded easy enough, i was excited to finish earlier than we planned and take the shortcut.  we were all tired, and the thought of getting to the car sooner was too tempting.


here is the best picture i could find of the "scramble":


***gracias again, google images, for the picture.


so how easy does that look?  for an inexperienced hiker like me, it didn't look easy at all.  but i kept hearing in my head, "just get up there, and then it's only one mile to the car!" so i started up after the others.  

there were two teenage guys behind us, about 17 yrs old or so.  they were several feet below us.  i was the last one in our group, and as the scramble started to get steeper, i became more nervous.  we were hiking up it at an angle, but my balance was off because i had my backpack on and i kept leaning back.  suddenly, my foot slipped and i started sliding doooooowwwn at a really fast pace.

the canyon echoed with my high-pitched shriek.  

"EEEEEEEEEEEEK!"

i stopped sliding, and tried to grip my hands into something that would hold, at the same time trying to get my footing.  phew!  i was stable.  i looked below me, and about 200 ft. down were the teenage boys, whose eyes were as big as headlights.  we exchanged scared glances as they easily did the math in their head....that if i went down, then i would probably be taking them with me.

i looked up, too scared to move, just in time to see both ben and troy climbing down as quickly as they could to help me.  finally they grabbed my hands and pulled me up to a more flat area of the scramble.  

by the time i finally made it to the top i was seriously exhausted.  i think i used every single muscle available to make it up that stupid "scramble" and wanted to kiss the dirt and rock-filled ground as i lay on it for a moment to rest.

we still had a mile to go to the car, and by this point i felt like my body was shutting down.  i had hurt my knee while climbing/crawling to the top, all of my water was gone, and it was over 100 degrees.  i felt like i could not go any further.  the rest of the group started on the mile, they were just as tired and wanted to get to the car as quickly as possible.  ben and his brother matt waited for me, and after about 5 minutes i was ready to go.  

but again, before i could put on my backpack, ben grabbed it and slung it over his front with his own still on his back.  he walked with me the whole way, giving me his water whenever i asked for it.  he offered me the m&m's in his trail mix...since he knew that was my favorite part.

 and finally, FINALLY, we were at the car.   

i remember driving away from the canyon, looking at the beautiful red rocks and arches.  i felt like i had conquered the world, because i knew that i had to dig deep in order to get through it, and also get through it without whining like a baby.  

 ***google images, we thank you.




i couldn't wait for a bathroom, a shower, a good meal.  a bed.

but i had learned a more important lesson than the fact that i could do hard things.  i thought back to how ben had treated me, and the words that my dad had said just a few days before.  ben's patience and kindness, his complete unselfishness.  he had never once treated me like i was slowing them down, when i know very well i probably was.  he wasn't bothered at all that i had greedily gulped down my water instead of rationing it, so that i had needed to drink his water.  in fact, he actually seemed grateful that i was relying on him.  he liked to help me.

these qualities about ben, it has been 8 years now.....and they are still the same.  it wasn't a front he wanted to portray while we were dating, he is as good as he led me to believe.  the words that my dad said to me during the blessing were true, and i am so grateful that i had that mini, 3-day experience to show me how things would be for the rest of my life with ben.

i have kept that rock heart, it's in my jewelry box now.  i showed him just a while ago that i still had it and he was surprised.  but i wanted to keep it as a reminder.

these past 8 years of being married to ben haven't been perfect, but they have been so, so good.  he reminds me all of the time what it means to really be married.  that it's about sacrifice, and unselfishness, forgiveness, humor, kindness, helping each other to reach the end, staying close to God, pushing ourselves to do hard things, and doing them together.  in fact, that's how we grow closer.

i love you, benjamin j.  thanks for an amazing 8 years!



Sunday, December 26, 2010

{on the eve of our 8th anniversary} the story of the rock heart.



eight and a half years ago.....


a younger, less-stressed version of ben strader was dating a girl.  she was awesome. 

ben was {is still} an outdoors-y fella, and was very much so in the throes of being at-one-with-nature at the time of this story.  

they had been dating for about 7 or 8 months when ben decided it would be a good idea to invite that awesome girl on a backpacking trip through escalante, down into a canyon for a 3 day, 26 mile hike.

the girl, you know, the awesome one?  well even though she was in good shape & exercised a lot....was more of an indoors-y girl.  treadmills at the gym and pilates work-outs and such.

but the awesome girl wanted to give it a try.  she wanted ben to know that even if she was more of an indoors girl, she was willing to dive into his hobbies and be flexible.  she made her voice sound excited during the planning of this trip, even shopping with ben for some "real" hiking boots specifically for these upcoming 3 days.

but deep down, the awesome girl was nervous.  scared out of her mind, actually.  

how do i know this?

because she is me, and i am/was her.  

i know, i had you all fooled.



so yes i was completely scared to go on this backpacking trip.  i had never done anything like this before....aside from the occasional hour long hike on a date or whatever....but that was nothing like i was preparing myself for.   

also, i was going with a group of experienced hikers.  ben's siblings loved backpacking as much as he did.  they all had the gear, the lingo, the shoes, the mole skin....do you even know what mole skin is?  well before that trip, i didn't.  i thought they were literally referring to the skin off of a mole.  and i thought they were all a little nuts to own a mole's skin, let alone to bring that backpacking. 

as the trip drew closer i became more anxious.  one thing i was particularly concerned about was my knees.  i have had awful knee problems ever since i can remember.  the un-medical term for it is water on the knee....and it's on both of mine.  i used to have to come home after my ballet class and ice both of my knees for a couple of hours to bring down the swelling.  i finally had to quit dance because of it, and instead tried the swim team, which seemed to help.  i had knee braces, but i had always been leery of big hikes because of my knees.  hiking seemed to make the pain & swelling worse.

so anyway.

i became so nervous about this trip that the night before i left, i asked my dad to give me a father's blessing, so that i could feel some comfort.

i remember thinking that he would bless me with strength and abilities to have my body cooperate on this trip.  or something along those lines.

however, the blessing said absolutely nothing about my body's endurance or strength.

the words my father spoke only mentioned ben.  he said to watch ben carefully on this trip....how he treated me.  whether it was with patience and kindness and respect, because this trip would mirror the way that he would treat me the rest of my life.

now at this point in the story, neither ben nor i had mentioned the big M word.  we were both pretty commitment-phobic, and even though we'd been dating much longer than most in our culture, we were a-okay with where we were at in the present time and not really talking too much about a future together.

so when my dad said that to me, i remember peeking up at him, turning my head to the side and furrowing my eyebrows as if to say without saying, "HUH?"  but i kept quiet.  my dad hugged me after the blessing was finished and told me that he felt impressed to say what he did.  

i wondered if i should mention it to ben, but decided not to tell him anything, and just watch him instead.  he had no idea, but he had just been put under a microscope for our 3 days in the wilderness together.



TO BE CONTINUED...

and just for fun, here is one of our "songs" while we were dating. whoever made this video was clearly into doing things up sappy, but it was the best recording of it.  enjoy.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

because i need a little magic.

the past couple of weeks have been a roller coaster.

our downstairs bathroom is still not completely finished, we now no longer have a wall with an enormous hole in it, but the linoleum hasn't been replaced, so even though the bathroom is "functional," the floor is still just cement.   this is WEEK 4 of a messed up bathroom.  when we were told it would be a quick fix.

ben's oldest brother matt came into town and we had so much fun spending time with him.  i'm not completely sure he'd say the same about his time spent with us, since from the moment he stepped foot onto our porch he was faced with disaster.

caleb brought the stomach flu home from school so that he missed his christmas party.  he was so sad, and so was i.  that little guy was looking forward to it so much, he just loves school and especially the parties.  luckily he has an awesome teacher who came to our house to give him his book exchange gift and a gift from her.  he was elated.

matt & ben left friday night to go on an overnight backpacking trip and took some pretty amazing pictures along the way:




i stayed home with the kids and helped caleb get back into shape.

saturday night, just as we were planning on going out to dinner as a family and with matt, leah projectile vomited.  so she had caught caleb's stomach flu and a few hours later, it turned out that i had too.

ben and i worked together helping leah out, in between me clutching my own stomach and praying for mercy.  then at about 3am, i was awoken to the sound of water rushing onto the floor of our master bathroom.  i jumped out of bed to see our toilet randomly overflowing.  i turned off the water and yelled for ben, who was so startled that he fell out of bed with a huge KA-BOOM.  even though i was sick and couldn't believe the wet carpet, i couldn't help but burst out laughing.

we set up a couple of fans to start to dry out the carpet and went back to bed.  i have no idea how much time passed, but the next thing i remember, i was being woken up to the shrill beeping of our smoke detector from downstairs.

ben and i ran down as quickly as we could, only to find that the water from upstairs was worse than we had thought, and had leaked through the top floor down to the bottom floor.  water was leaking through the smoke detector, which had set it off.  there were leaks pouring like rain onto our downstairs.  we set up bowls and buckets for the dripping water.  i was so sick, and we were both so tired.  the last time i looked at the clock it read 6am.

on sunday i was pretty much out of it, laying in bed and moaning incoherently.  luckily leah was through the worst of it and feeling better, but neither kids were well enough to go to church.  ben had to teach a lesson, so awesome matt took care of the kids.

monday i was feeling better, just really weak and dizzy with a gargantuan headache, and leah was also not 100%, so i missed out again on going out to dinner....again.  for anyone who knows me, going out to eat is one of my favorite things to do and we don't get to do it very often, i was disappointed.

BUT to make up for it, my friend andrea came over after "whipping up" a bunch of peanut butter & chocolate cupcakes, and oreo cheesecake cupcakes and we put together a mini surprise party for matt.  he shares a birthday with the baby jesus so he doesn't get much solo attention on his day of birth.

here are andrea's delicious creations:

here is matt's surprised face:



we were so grateful for his help, and just having his positive personality around helped us get through a pretty lame weekend.  thank you again, uncle matt!  next time let's get the whole family in on the visit and i promise we'll provide working plumbing and no barfing.....hopefully.

here i am trying to get a normal picture of the brothers.  clearly they wanted to work against me:




there have been other things going on that are personal and not for the blogging atmosphere, but let's just say that those things make the water leakage and upchucking look like child's play.

don't get me wrong, we're happy here.  and blessed, there is so much to be thankful for.  sometimes it feels like it's harder than it needs to be, you know?  why can't things just go smoothly?  i know that's life.  it's just difficult when you feel like you're being hit from all sides.

anyway, i'm excited for christmas.  it's only our little family this year, and even though i'm missing our extended relatives, i just love being with my 3.  i'm grateful that even though there is chaos around us, inside we are happy to be together.

lately you know what i've been missing?  SNOW.  yes you heard me.  even though driving in it isn't much fun, i am a girl who absolutely loves being home during a snowstorm.  sitting under a blanket, sipping hot chocolate.  or even bundling up in coats, boots and a hat and walking through it and playing in it.  i think it's magical. 

it just doesn't feel the same here in arizona, and even though i truly appreciate most days that i can go outside and still tan up, during the christmas season i just miss snow.


it reminded me of my favorite scene from edward scissorhands.  random?  i know.  but i do love that movie and the music.  and especially the scene where she walks outside and dances in the snow he's created for her.

so here's a little montage, you can watch the whole thing or just skip to about 1:45 when the part i'm referring to goes on.



well this posting has pretty much been all over the place,  
but i wish all of you a fantastic christmas weekend!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

a re-posting, because i needed a reminder.....

****originally posted july 17, 2009

 

 

coming out of the ugly closet

prepare yourself for some word vomit. or blogorrhea, whichever you prefer. but i've been thinking about this for the past couple of weeks. and then something happened that finally put words to my thoughts. watch out, world!

so.

the episode {link no longer works} from the online show about "body image" was really difficult for me. it's hard enough to admit to myself that i don't like the way i look on the outside, let alone to whatever joe schmoe is watching me spill it to a camera.

i've been a bit down lately. and unfortunately, it all had to do with the reflection i saw as i looked in the mirror each day. because for me, starting at a very young age:

overweight = ugly

but honestly, until today, i never realized that before. enlightening, isn't it? not done yet. i will expound (whether you want me to or not).

i always thought that i had cute features, okay hair, semi-decent skin (once jr. high was over), nice teeth (after braces), fantastic feet, and a good personality. i could hold my own in sports, had a talent for music, loved to have fun, loved to laugh.

but none of these things mattered if i felt i was fat or chubby. because those squishy parts were all that i could see, and for me they made the entire package an ugly one.

i don't know where this came from. my parents didn't put this on me, clearly not at 6 1/2, when i wrote a new year's resolution to "lose weight." (i messed up the age on the episode, i said 8, and i wasn't even 7 yet in 1987) i was always treated in a way that i knew i was loved, and appreciated, and valued.

so where did it come from??

i was not overweight at 6 1/2. in fact, i didn't really start to chub up until i was in 6th grade, and even then, i still looked like most of the girls my age, just a slight rounder.

but to relive a defining and devastating moment in my life, i will share a story....

and this is really, really hard for me to write about, even like 18 years later. because this traumatized me and broke my spirit in a way that probably has never happened since then.

i got asked to "go out" by a kid in 5th grade. he was cute, hung with the popular crowd, and admitted he liked me. boy, did i think i was a hot ticket. we "went out" for quite a while...which in elementary school terms, was longer than 2 weeks. we talked with each other on the phone, and would meet up with friends. got each other valentine's day presents.

that was as far as it went, but i felt special knowing that a guy liked me enough to not mind saying it in front of our entire 5th grade class.

sadly, all good things must come to an end. when he finally broke up with me, he wrote me a letter:

"10 REASONS WHY I'M BREAKING UP WITH YOU"

guess what? i don't remember 9 of them. they meant nothing to me, i knew that he was just a dumb boy and that his older brother had helped him compile this list. but the one that i did remember??

(this is word for word, burned into my memory)

"you're so fat that you can't even see the tops of your shoes."

i was crushed. devastated.

i am crying as i am typing this.

and just so you have a mental image of what i looked like, i give to you exhibit A:

(bottom row, far right, frizz-tastic hair, semi-sailor motif)


don't make fun of my fancy pants dress, my mom did make me wear that.

want to know who my BF was? ooh, just to be spiteful, i almost outed him. but i won't, because i'm sure he's evolved past the DB type of behavior he was a part of during this age. but he's cute, and tall, and on the back row, and he's the only one in a lighter color...aka, not wearing blue, brown, grey or black. you do the math. (sorry, he deserved it!)

so do i look FAT to you? i already know the answer. it is NO. but when this kid wrote these words to me, the saddest part was:

i believed him.

which again reiterated the belief that fat = ugly. a harsh belief at such a young age.

you know that christina aguilera song, "beautiful" where she says:

"you are beautiful, no matter what they say...words can't bring you down"

well, that last part is CRAP. sorry christina, i know the point behind the song. but it just isn't true. his words brought me down so quickly and so violently that i remember my cheeks burning with shame as my friends and i read his "stupid letter."

so what happens to a young girl who is told she is fat and believes she is ugly??

well, let me tell you.

she does everything she can to compensate for feeling ugly. she wears make-up too young, which then blooms into just too much make-up altogether, constantly compares herself to others, buys too many clothes to try to feel pretty. avoids things, sells herself short in a lot of areas, and begins to lie. not only to others, but to herself.

she lies that she is happy, and unaffected.

i didn't have a rotten childhood, i didn't even have a traumatic childhood. there were rough moments, but i felt that others have been through much worse than i had.

but what i did go through was inner turmoil. i truly did like my personality. in fact, i will go so far as to say i loved it. i was proud of the fact that i could be funny, make people laugh, was well-liked, had good common sense, and was kind because i wanted to be.

i loathed my outer image though. i could not stand looking in mirrors, hated having my picture taken, never wanted to get into a swimsuit. and lied to myself in the way that i would say, "it's not that bad" but once i saw a picture of myself, the devastation would come in waves and i would vow that not one more cookie would pass my lips. which would last all but a minute.

i hated to have birthday parties for myself. and what kid doesn't want presents, and cake, and friends? well, me. i knew it meant pictures, and everyone looking at me. i kept these reasons to myself, and just told my parents that i was "shy" or didn't want a party for some other excuse.

i kept my ugliness locked in a tight vault, only for me to see. and pretended i liked being the chubby, funny friend.

but truth?

I. HATED. IT.

i ached to be the long-legged, straight haired, beautiful girl. or even leave out the beautiful, i just wanted to be thin. because to me, thin = beautiful. that was all i cared about.

i remember going with friends to malls, dances, roller skating rinks, line dancing. it didn't matter what i wore, how fantastic my hair was, or how cute i could act. i was constantly overlooked standing next to my thin friends.

most of the time.

every now and then, i would get noticed. but because my self-image was so messed up, i would tell myself cruel, mean things. "he's only asking you because the other girl couldn't go." and start the self-sabotage pattern which would eventually end the relationship.

which was what i was talking about in this post. (only on the private blog) believing for years that you're unattractive does a number on your belief of self-worth, and your belief on who you feel you deserve. so the good guys i dated, i would sabotage whatever was happening. the jerks, i stuck around far too long with.

for those who don't know, ben and i met in high school. we were friends, and kept in touch every now and then after high school. when i lived in jackson hole & he was going to school at BYU-Idaho, he decided to come and visit for a day. at the time i was involved with another DB and he had a girlfriend, so there was nothing but friendship going on.

but during that visit, we were at a park talking, and catching up on the past couple of years. and he said something to me that i have not forgotten, and will never forget.

he said,

"i wish you could see yourself the way others see you."

i remember looking at him and stopping all of the negative voices in my head, and only listening to one. it was the small, sad one that said back, "i wish i could too."

a few months later, i moved home to get my tonsils out and he was home on a break. we were both post-break-up and both anti-relationships. so it worked out perfectly.

and with him, i felt something that i didn't recognize.

beautiful.

and it started to show.






see?

i am grateful because there has not been one time in our marriage that i have not felt beautiful when i am with him. no matter how stinky i am, whether or not i'm wearing make-up, if i'm 9 months pregnant, or if i still haven't lost the baby weight.

not once.

which is a good thing.

however, i'm realizing that i need him in order to feel beautiful. when he's gone, or when i see myself on the online show, or when i'm just staring in the mirror, i don't feel it.

which i think, is a problem.

because it's not coming from me, from the inside. it's coming from an outside source and when that source is missing, so is my self-worth.

another story, this one is a lot less depressing than the last...

last year, while living in north carolina, i took one of the group home kids out grocery shopping at sam's club with me. i was reaching for some water bottles and noticed a lovely, 30-something lady staring at me. i immediately felt self-conscious. she saw me catch her staring, and suddenly said loudly,

"you are so beautiful!" emphasis on the so.

i was flustered, caught off-guard, embarrassed. i had never had a complete stranger say these words to me.

"um, thank you," i muttered quietly, and smiled a quick smile. i walked around on clouds during that grocery trip.

as we got in the GH van, my thoughts were still focused on the comment from this stranger. so even though i didn't mean to, i blurted aloud,

"that was so nice!" another emphasis on the so.

and the teenage guy said, "what was?"

i felt stupid, because i didn't know how to get around telling him that i was still thinking about this comment. but couldn't come up with anything creative, so i said,

"oh, you know, when that lady said she thought i was pretty."

and his reply was,

"well, that's because you are."

in a very nonchalant way. like it was matter-of-fact. like, duh.

i was stunned again.

immediately i dismissed the compliment from the teenager. as i always do, when a non-stranger compliments my looks. "he said that because he didn't know what else to say," i told my self. and of course, i believed that. but as hard as i tried, there was no way to get around the compliment from this lady.

nice story, huh? i know.

so why can't i believe these words all of the time? and why does my weight have so much to do with it?

you want to know what's a tell-tale sign for me that i don't feel attractive? i change my hairstyle. so looking back in the last 6 months... i've changed my hair 4 times.

december.

january.

april.

june.

and still am not happy with it. but let's be honest here. is it really the hair?

no.

as i was feeding the baby the other day, i flipped on the t.v. and "the view" was on. i turned it on in time to see the ending of an interview with margaret cho.



remember her? a comedian, who at one point had her own sitcom about herself.

***ps- do NOT look for her interview from "the view." i did, trying to get an exact quote, but all the show featured was her talking about some nasty stuff. with a capital N. i was glad i had only seen the last part of the interview the first time!

anyway, she was talking about how the producers from the show asked her to lose some weight. to play herself. on t.v. she said she battled with bulimia, and body image issues for years.

and then one of the ladies asked her, "so, normally when people say they're coming out of the closet, it's referring to gender preference. but you say you're coming out of the ugly closet?"

and she said yes. that she was sick of feeling ugly and fat and that she was embracing her body image and finally telling herself that she is beautiful. she said she had to look at herself in the mirror and repeat it, so that she would believe it.

this was when the lightbulb came on for me.

i don't have to be thin to be beautiful! i already am beautiful!

sounds so simple right?

well, you try telling that to the 28 year old ugly girl inside of me. this mentality is years in the making, brought on by more experiences than just my 5th grade boyfriend. don't worry, i won't share them all.

so i've decided. it's time for a change.

time to come out of the ugly closet, undo the damage that has been done.

and become beautiful. or, finally believe that i always have been. no matter what size or shape i am. no matter what the scale reads.

i don't think this will be an easy or quick process. but i do believe that it will be completely worth it. i'm going to start with silencing the destructive voices and immediately change them into positive thoughts.

take more time for myself, eat better, exercise because i want to (what a novel idea this is!), get a good rest, and embrace every compliment that is given to me...without disputing it. whether it's from a stranger or not.

wish me luck, it might be a long journey.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

in my garden.

{yes these are all weeds in our backyard.  isn't that awesome? yeah...not really.}



i have been pruned.

i have been pruned for 30 years, to feel guilty over things that are not mine.
taking them upon myself to keep me in unhealthy situations for too long.

i have been pruned for 30 years, to feel guilty over things that are mine.
letting them weigh down my branches so that i will not rise to my potential.

i have been pruned for 30 years, to deflect compliments 
as if to say to those delivering them, "you do not see who i really am."

i have been pruned for 30 years, to hide in shadows 
so that the sun can never quite fully reach all of me.

i have been pruned for 30 years, to worry about whether i am accepted
so that my boundaries are weakened,
and my stem bows under the weight of those who 
sense my worry,
and take advantage.

i have been pruned by an invisible darkness
that enters the garden late at night
with sharp shears that cut and tear at what is built during daylight,
unbeknownst even to me.

who slithers around me
whispering un-truths to my heart,
to try to blacken its edges
so that i will forget the truth.

until i look around
and all i can see are broken branches,
withered leaves,
and dead flowers
laying on the ground at my feet.



but,


i have a gardener. 

a healer, a planter, a rebuilder.
one who will not let me die, if i can choose to hold on.

who will un-wrap the weeds 
that have tangled around my self-image,
to let the blossoms grow.

who will water and nourish
my broken boundaries
until they are strong and able to stand on their own.

who will turn me to the sun so that i can feel its warmth,
and see myself the way that i was created to be
and feel grateful.


who will tell me truths
to mend my heart,
and remind me
of why i am here.





so,

today i am choosing,

to say good-bye to the pruner
and start helping

my gardener.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

bring on the yuletide!

tonight we were supposed to go to the tempe lake lights parade, but i've had a whopper of a headache all day long & the thought of weaving in & out of the 50, 000 estimated peeps planning on being there didn't sound the most appealing.  

but we haven't really done anything yet to get in the christmas spirit except partially decorate our christmas tree {we still haven't found the rest of the ornaments and even if we had, leah has made it her sole christmas mission to remove any and all shiny things from our tree within her reach}. so we decided we needed to do something.

we packed the kids in the car and went down to the mesa temple to look at the lights.  we had a great time walking around, looking at the "dinosaurs" {what leah called the camels following behind the wise men} listening to the presentation of the Christus {the entire 5 minutes leah yelling out "WOOK! DIS  IS JESUS!"} and getting in the holiday mood by listening to christmas music on the way home.

fun family times.



here are the pictures to document, try to ignore the smears of candy cane all over leah's mouth & in caleb's teeth.  true parental bribery at its finest:


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

can you see the plane?

there are things going on here and i'm sure i could write a big rambling post about each thing, but today i'm going to go against my own grain and {gasp!} summarize.  with bullet points, nonetheless.  {to remind myself to summarize.}

  • time seems to speed up during the holidays, doesn't it?  if i blink, it feels like yesterday was halloween.  two blinks and i'm sure i will wake up on new year's day.  i want it to slooooow down instead of speed up during this time.  why can't it go faster during the summer when i'm sweating to death?

  • i can't get enough of my children at the ages they are at.  caleb is reading full books {not just the readers for his age group} now, and leah is just a sponge, sucking up information at warp speed.  every day she points out the colors of the shirt each person is wearing and she is 95% accurate.  i sneak into their rooms every night to kiss their sleeping faces and whisper i love them.  i have done this ever since caleb was a baby.  there is nothing more angelic than a snoozing child, in my book.  it makes those meltdowns during the day much more bearable.  {sort of.}

  • i'm grateful we live in a house that has 3 bathrooms because for the past 2 weeks we have been down 1 of them.  the sunday after thanksgiving we straders decided to break our tradition of decorating for christmas on dec. 23, and while searching for our holiday decorations, made the unfortunate discovery of a leak from the wall of our downstairs bathroom into the closet under our stairs.  several boxes of our things were ruined due to wet mold.  {insert your ewwwww!  here.  i know i sure did.}  luckily we rent from a great property management company who have gotten right on the job.  the carpet has been stripped, the hole has been fixed.  now the next step is the actual replacement of the wall.  it should happen this week, thank heavens.  and yes, for those of you concerned about this rug {which i'm sure is really just me}, luckily it was unharmed during the process of it all.  

  • ben is just about to wrap up a killer of a semester.  things have been piled on the man in every sense of the word and i'm grateful he is still alive to tell about it.  he is an amazingly hard worker, which i'm grateful every day for.

  • we're just about to celebrate 8 years of marriage.  can you believe it?  blows my mind.  there's a special blog posting coming up for that day, it's already in the works.  it's going to be full of action, sentiment, heartache, joy and love.  or really just be boring to anyone besides myself and ben.  but that's ok.  

  • that's about all going on here.  to celebrate the randomness of this post, here is a picture of caleb standing on top of a pile of 5 pillows that are on top of our couch, trying to reach a small airplane that got caught in our ceiling fan.  with leah's "magical star" as she calls it. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

crazy hair day.

friday at caleb's school was crazy hair day, so we flushed his head in a toilet bowl full of red kool-aid.   
{just kidding about the flushing part, we just held him steady upside down for several minutes.}

and this is what my fella looks like with red hair:



and this is what my fella would look like if he had red hair and were possessed by the devil:



let's hope we never have to find out for real if that last one is true or not.