Tuesday, October 30, 2012

work trips and wedding weekends.

well, we got home last week from all of the fun and i will only admit it to you..i JUST finished completely unpacking.  how embarrassing to admit, but whatever.  unpacking is completely un-fun in my book.  snore, bore.  

anyway, lots to share.  

the work trip to louisville was a lot of fun.  i feel really grateful to be able to work for and with such a great group of people.  you never know what's going to happen when you stick 6 women in 2 adjoining hotel rooms, but we had a fantastic time and all got along so well.  and i think i may have even come off as professional to a few people at the expo we went to...who knew i had it in me?!  

here are some pictures from that trip, all from my phone because it was the only camera i had on me:

and then i flew to las vegas to catch a shuttle to st. george, where ben, the kids and the rest of ben's family were staying for a few days.  5 minutes into the 2 hour shuttle ride the ladies behind me started talking politics and i knew i was in for a looooong drive.  surprisingly neither of them were able to convince the other to see their side.  shocking, i know!  i wonder when my politically-charged facebook friends will realize the same thing...wink.

i kept my opinions to myself even though there were some things i would have loved to have said, but that's not how i roll.  instead i buried my head in a book...oh yes!  i read an entire book in 2 days.  that in and of itself is a miracle.  i've missed reading, escaping into something besides my own little life.  

once i got to st. george it was a non-stop party and love fest.  ben has been blessed with some amazing family and i sure love them.   

first we celebrated matt's (ben's oldest brother) son donovan's baptism, which was so special.  he is such a good kid and we love matt & jennie and wish we lived closer to them.

then we celebrated the wedding of ben's mom ginny and her new husband paul, and it was a really special and emotional day.  ben and i are so excited for them, and so glad we were able to be there. 

now for a bunch of pictures of people you may or may not recognize: 

overall, we came home exhausted, happy, and ready to sleep in our own beds.  

next up?  halloween!  

Friday, October 12, 2012

the whirlwind begins!!

here is miss junie b. jones, helping me pack today.

i leave tomorrow for kentucky, with the ladies from my work to attend an expo and do my best not to make a fool of myself approaching professionals while trying to act like a professional.

then i fly to meet ben and the kids in utah for a weekend we have been looking forward to....ben's mom is getting married!!  we are so happy for her, and really like the groom-to-be, paul.  

so my continuous blogging {ha! i'm so funny.} may take a hiatus, or maybe it won't?  maybe i'll have more opportunities than i'd imagined, not having my three little people to take care of for a few days.

sniff, sniff.

as exhausting as this motherhood thing is some days {or nights, like tonight specifically} i sure love my family.  and it will be hard for me to be away, not able to hear caleb's excited chatter, or see leah's imagination at work, or feel june wrap her little arms--and toes--around me.  and that no matter how late ben walks through the door, to be able to kiss him hello, and then a few minutes later goodnight.  it's only a few days, but for some reason i've felt anxious about leaving this time.  

anyway, i won't dwell on that.  instead i'll just dwell on how much love i have from 4 people, and how much love i feel for them.  all of the hard, all of it.  

is worth it.

Monday, October 8, 2012

looking back and celebrating a Master.

last year....or maybe a year and a half ago?  the timing is cloudy.  ben qualified for his Master's Degree.  at the time we were saying, "oh, let's not bother with it."  he's registered in the doctoral program so it isn't a necessary step for him, it cost several hundred dollars to even apply to receive the certificate and whoknowswhat other fees {or reasons why they were there} and we were struggling to even pay our rent, so we skipped the ordeal.

but, with the past year of the ups and downs of schooling and the up-in-the-air way things have gone with his dissertation which will put a hold on everything, we decided to fork over the money and make ben an official Master.

sometimes it's nice to have a piece of paper to hold in your hand, in case your best laid plans go awry.  something tangible, to take with you...if you need it.

i looked back on the first two {and a half?  again, cloudy.} years of school and what this certificate and ben walking up a few carpeted stairs to greet one of his professors meant to us.  what the symbolism behind watching his hand reach up and flip the tassel on his cap from the right side to the left meant to me.

and truthfully, i teared up.  because to me, it meant a lot.  we faced quite a bit in those first couple of years, and realized what the words graduate school really entailed.  and what having multiple children while in graduate school really entailed.  what moving {twice} and having no close family support in graduate school really entailed.

we were very naive going into this situation, this idea of school.  almost as naive as we were when we first decided we wanted to have a baby.  we were starry-eyed and big dreamers and so optimistic about what our lives would look like.  during those first two years i struggled personally more than i think i ever have.  and ben did too, but in a different way.  individually we faced some of our darkest demons, and there were times when both of us felt extremely lonely, though we were together through it all.

we.  us.

ben received the paper and he earned every inch of that sucker.  but he walked up to me afterward, hugged me and thanked me for being there through it.  and i love him for that, for seeing me.

i have a few friends whose husbands are also in graduate school, and they just seem to take care of things on their own.  yes he is gone a lot, and she is left to work through children and all that entails, but with us it has been different.  ben has needed my support in ways i had foreseen and in ways that i hadn't.  and this has been the case for me as well, needing him in ways we had not expected.

blurry blinking at 4 a.m. to help correct/rewrite one of his many extremely long papers that was due at 5 a.m.  biting my nails off as he drove to turn in his end-of-the-year papers, praying he would make it in time.  crying tears as our hopes of finishing school in the timeframe we had initially thought pushed back another year.  working through constantly stressful financial aid problems together.  giving countless pep talks to let him know that regardless of what anyone {including himself} said or thought, that i knew he could do this.  that he could not give up, because i knew he would regret it for the rest of his life.

filming the online show in between studying and doctor's visits, hoping we didn't look as frazzled as we felt.  bouncing an endlessly screaming and colicky baby through 4 months, staring at the empty space in our bed, grateful in knowing his full-time overnight shift was helping him to complete his homework, while silently resenting his absence when i needed him most.  feeling trapped and suffocated in our small apartment with no car to leave, and only the blistering heat of the summer to walk out into.

we grew apart those first two and a half years, learning how to cope on our own because we were hardly ever together.  and ben and i had never been apart in this way before.  it was scary for a moment, until we both woke up and realized that if a child with special needs could not break us, and a group home full of mentally unstable teenagers could not break us, and a whole lot of outside family drama could not break us, then neither could this.  our love for each other and this life we had created was bigger than this.

we dug deep, recommitted, and worked through it.  no longer starry-eyed, but holding hands, interlocking our fingers and setting our jaws in determination to finish this.  together.

i can count on one hand the times i have literally felt a fork in the road of my life.  and i felt one those first two years.  and thankfully, as with the other times i have felt this, i look back and know i made the right decision.  i came to know the Mercy and Grace side of my God once again.  another growing pain put to rest.

i used to hate graduate school, loathing the very words and how it tore us down and changed us.  but now i see we were both stretched those first two years, and am finding we are now in more of a groove in life, in our marriage, than i feel we ever have been.

and it isn't over, this graduate school thing.  i think when it finally is, we will have to find our identity once again.  we will search for our new place in life and readjust as we so often have.

but until that day, we will hold onto this paper and know what it means for us.  

congratulations, Master Ben.  i know what this degree means to you personally, and each day i love you more and more for sticking with this and seeing it through.  i think the easy road would have been to quit every time you were discouraged, or when you saw your wife crumble under the pressure for a little while, or when you missed out on family events that the 9-5-and-home-on-weekends dads were able to attend, or just wanted to get a good night's sleep for the first time in weeks instead of staying up writing and studying.

we will get there one day, that will be us.  and we will appreciate it so much more than we would have if we hadn't earned it.


this weekend, we were lucky enough to have some family come into town to join us for the commencement, and then to meet up at a restaurant with an even bigger group to celebrate benandlynsey strader style--with food and laughing.

and now....of course,