Wednesday, August 27, 2014

We did it

Packing a missionary is a fairly major undertaking. I tried so hard to do all the shopping early because I knew at the end there would still be things we forgot. As we packed yesterday we came to realize we going to need a third suitcase. Hopefully it all works out okay for him but he has room to spare now. 

We were finally weighing them on the bathroom scale around 12:30 last night. They can't be one ounce over 50 lb. I had to move some heavy items from one to another but we were totally fine. You also have to take into account study material they have to carry from the MTC in Mexico to the mission.

Nathaniel was set apart at 8:45 last night by President Oldroyd. I gave the opening prayer (which started Sarah & I up pretty good) and then he talked with us some and set Nathaniel apart. Nathaniel was holding it up like a champ until his Dad said the closing prayer. I finally said what everyone else was thinking. "I'm so tired of crying! I'm ready to be done with this day already!"
It was all incredibly special. Lots of mixed emotions. 

We had planned to eat beforehand but none of us could stomach much for most of the day leading up to the setting apart. I kept having visions in my mind of stopping in the middle of everything and just throwing up in a trash can. I felt awful all day and was of course fighting off a headache and sore throat on top of it. 
So we ate afterwards instead. At IHOP. Again the only place open.

Here he is after being a missionary for about an hour celebrating with a Dr Pepper. 
I think he really needed that right then.

 Sarah and her swollen eyes.

(John's heart is breaking)

Missionary amidst the packing of the room. I slept on the floor that night (for all of the 2 hours we had) because once they are set apart they are not supposed to be alone. 
Those monitors you see him in front of him are not hooked into a computer. No video games for missionaries;)

Got to the airport at 4am where an airport security drill sergeant lady was belting out instructions to the missionaries they get every Wednesday at this time in the morning. 
I doubt any other airport has workers yelling instructions to groups of young men in suits about their emergency contact being their mission president. Salt Lake City Airport has this thing down.

There's no sugar coating this. It's just hard. Really hard. Definitely one of those thing you have to experience for yourself to get it. You're going against your natural instinct and there are all these alarm bells going off and you really begin to wonder just what you are even doing this for. I know for Nathaniel you could probably amplify that feeling by a thousand.
There were three especially hard things yesterday.
One, saying goodbye to Nancy. I knew this was going to be tough. My heart was broken for them.
Two, watching Peter bring Will in for a final goodnight to Nathaniel as we weren't taking him or John with us to the airport. It's very hard to leave your adorable two-year-old brother knowing he won't remember you and will be completely different when you get back.
Third, and really hardest, was going into his room to say goodnight before I laid on the floor in the area right outside his room and he is laying in his bed with the light on just staring out with tears falling down his cheeks. You can't know unless you've been there just how much it is for these kids to take in. They are leaving behind everything they know. Everything
I don't know if he was crying because he was leaving his family, because he was missing Nancy, because he spending his last night in his room, or if he was feeling scared. It was probably a mix of many things. (Not to mention the exhaustion. He had to get up again in two hours.) And there was nothing I could do or say. It's just one of those things you can't fix.

People will tell me this is the best thing for him. I know that. People will say it will all be worth it. I know that. People can tell me I'm blessed. I really know that. 
There isn't anything I would want for him more than this right now. 
In spite of all this my heart feels like it is breaking. So bear with me if I need to feel sad right now. I'm hoping I do better soon.

I thought about telling Nathaniel all the feelings I have for him but decided he probably didn't need that right now. I thought about sending him with a note but decided maybe that wouldn't be necessary or helpful.
He already knows how I feel.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Nathaniel's farewell

Grandpa, Nathaniel & I
I have the greatest Grandpa. 
I'm so glad my kids have been able to know him.
(That's not a ponytail. It's John behind me on the swing. Don't think for a second he didn't know what he was doing.)

This is the majority of family we had there. (Grandpa had left to go home teaching.) We weren't expecting any out of town family until Peter's sister Sally and her husband Michael made a surprise visit Friday night. 

It was a double farewell and Sacrament Meeting was packed because the other boy (Jackson) is a popular kid and has a massive amount of family and friends that came. The chapel and whole cultural hall was full and there was people standing in the back. We have seen a whole lot of farewells in this ward since moving here over seven years ago and I don't know that I've ever seen it more full than this. As they were sitting up there on the stand looking out on the enormous crowd a jittery Jackson turned to Nathaniel and said, "Man, I hope I don't throw up all over my face." That's funny for a number of reasons.
Our complete family & friends only took up about two rows:)

My cousin Sean and his daughter got cut out of the picture to the right so I had to put this one in instead:

The tears started for me as soon as I sat down in the chapel. The first hymn was solemn and slow and just not conducive to holding it together. Why can't they have a nice peppy song to kick things off when there are two mom's sitting in the audience about to say goodbye to their sons? 

It is such a strange feeling sitting in a missionary farewell for your own child. Such a joyful and monumental event. You know your child is closing the door on one chapter of his life and opening a whole new one. I know this brings up a lot of memories for Peter of leaving for his own mission and he's thinking about what an incredible experience this is going to be for Nathaniel and feeling so grateful to see it. All those feelings mixed with the anticipation and preparation for this event come together for some pretty bittersweet tears for both Peter and I as we sat there.

 Mason & Nathaniel

 Lucky Nancy got to sit next to me in Sacrament Meeting

With two of his Young Men leaders
Brother John and Brother Marcum.

The whole meeting was great and Nathaniel did an awesome job on his talk. I had managed to pull myself together by the time he started talking and was doing ok until he made his last remark thanking his parents and especially his mom because he knows she doesn't get a lot of the appreciation she deserves. Well that did it for me and then they closed the meeting with "Called to Serve."
(My eyes. They are sore.)
Lots of hugs from good friends as I left. I'm so blessed.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Rebecca starts 8th grade

Here is my beautiful, imaginative, artistic, clever, and rather sarcastic eighth grader in her shirt that exactly matches her eyes.
If only I could make her as excited for school as she was about the new Doctor Who season that started today. 
She was quite literally heartbroken when she discovered she had the wrong time for the first airing and had to wait another two hours for it to air again.

Here is the view of the new junior high at drop off time from my kitchen window. 

He's two and don't we know it.

In today's news: Sweet peanut butter and jelly face 
hides inner demon of destruction.

Last week after an exhausting 7 hour cleaning marathon mostly centered in Rebecca's room Will managed discretely find a bottle of green nail polish, open it, paint it on body/ his clothes/ his hair and then dump it about on the carpet of two rooms which resulted in a lot of muttered cursing and nail polish remover and Goo Gone.The next day he found some bright red lipstick of Rebecca's (again with the carpet?) More internet searching, unrighteous muttering, carpet cleaner, Windex, and Spray&Wash. We used them all. (No photos. Too much fire coming out my eyes.)

John and Rebecca absolutely do not get the programming of a two-year-old. I am constantly finding scissors, markers, paint, etc. in both their rooms just waiting for Will to do awful things with them. Like cutting John's blanket or his own hair. (Check!) The threatening and confiscating and natural consequence of helping mom scrub carpets and walls until their arms ache doesn't seem to be having the desired effect. The outright banning of using these items isn't turning out to be practical. Maybe losing money or adding additional job duties?

Will can now climb out of his crib which has left us with many dilemmas. First was how to rig the door so he couldn't get out. Then we had to worry about him climbing about the room on top of furniture. I checked in on him one morning to find him sleeping soundly with his blanket right on top of the changing table feet of the ground. (Not safe enough to even risk sneaking a picture and having him startle awake and fall) so I just picked him up and deposited him on the bed. He was not pleased.

(Then I give up and he ends up in my bed.)

Peter took the front off his crib but often he just sleeps in the chair in his room.

Below is the TP on the garage floor that I retrieved after Will sucked it right off the roll in their bathroom (John got the hose out and left it unsupervised.) After frantic calling I learned the most likely place it would be and after disconnecting a pipe that led right into the unit out in the garage I reached in there and like some sick magic trick I was able to pull it out in one solid piece. 

Peter says I can now advertise myself in vacuum repair 
(maybe even at birthday parties?)

Sunday, August 17, 2014


I woke up this morning and realized I can't talk to Nathaniel on his mission. I knew this of course. I just hadn't actually made the connection that I won't be able to hear his voice until Christmas.

Nathaniel's Sunday School teacher from last year gave me an old questionnaire she had given them. (And you know how we all love those.) One of the questions was "What do you like most about yourself?" Kind of a weird question, right? Nathaniel's answer was just so fitting. He wrote, "I'm hilarious." 

There are things that he says that just kill me though frankly they can be disturbing let your imagination wander. Like the other day when some guy came through the Taco Bell drive thru cursing and honking and screaming and Nathaniel turned to his boss as he drove away and said, "Gosh, I hope that guy doesn't get into a car crash, catch on fire, and then burn alive." 

I also think it's cute that his non-member boss chastises him for it. "You can't say that kind of stuff! You're going on a mission!"

When our Lithuanian boys were here I bought whole milk because we drink nonfat and foreigners usually find that pretty disgusting. I had a couple of gallons left over. Nathaniel was all over that and wanted to know what was so different about it from our usual milk. I told him there was basically more fat. "No Mom," he corrects me, "this milk is from angel cows." 
I have visions of cows with wings blushing under Nathaniel's flattery.

We got his flight itinerary on Friday. His flight for Mexico leaves at 6am from the SLC airport. That means we need to get up by 3am and say goodbye to him in a blur of exhausted emotion. He has a layover for a couple of hours in Dallas and then is off to Mexico. I don't love that he won't have a cell phone so I can text him to find out if he got there safely or if he met up with whoever is there to greet him. Bottom line I guess is I won't have any more control over what is happening to him.

It occurs to me I've come to the end of my most influential time as his mother. No more spontaneous moments of having him walk in and ask for advice, which I can now freely admit I pretended to be all casual-like and keep wiping down the counters when I'm really thinking, "Everyone stop what you're doing and take notice!!" My teenage boy is asking me for advice and appears to be listening!!"

He'll have to figure out things all by himself for the next two years and then he'll come back and be all independent and grown up. (Well, mostly. I mean, do we ever feel "grown-up?") 

Of course I want all these things for him. This is the way it is supposed to be. Kids grow up. They move on. I know that. 

I'm just really going to miss him and his hilarious self.

Sarah's 1st half-marathon

Around mile 10

 Hitting the finish line!

Sarah and her friend Veronica Tarin have been training all summer for this. They've been running buddies for a long time.  
They are my heroes! Sarah's time was 2:10 

All went really well I think-- especially for a first marathon. Afterwards Sarah wanted me to buy a watermelon and was very happy to stop waiting in line for porta potties and go home to her own bathroom. I hear they are thinking about doing cross country this year.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Nathaniel goes to the temple

Leaving the Provo Temple tonight

Today was another big day for the our family. This is a season of big events for us. July 27th Nathaniel became an Elder and a week from Sunday is his farewell.

As I was in the temple today I was wondering what I did right in my life to be having a child going through the temple. Certainly not enough. I think of all the amazing moms I know that struggle with wayward children and I just don't know why things work out the way they do sometimes. 

Speaking of which, as Peter and Nathaniel are pulling away from the house Peter just so happens to double check for his recommend in his wallet. We had just checked them Sunday in Sacrament Meeting because they are expiring soon and that was the last time he saw it-- right before he put it back in his wallet four days ago. Gone--absolutely not a clue where it disappeared to. Frantic searching and calling ensued but it never turned up. I called the temple to tell them not only were they running late but we were also missing a recommend. When they got there the temple recorder told them to relax now because he said in the temple things have a way of just working out. They got to meet with the temple president who talked with them for a while and answered some of Nathaniel's questions. How amazing is that to meet with the temple president? I think Peter was envious:)

Can't believe this is here already. (And why do I keep feeling like I'm not even old enough for this?!?) Our ward has a lot of missionaries coming and going all the time and moms of other missionaries give me sympathetic looks and tell me to feel free to call them because it's so hard the first time. "Best kept secret of the church is how hard it is to send a missionary out" is something I've heard more than a few times. True story: Sunday a woman told me she cried for eight months the first time she sent out a missionary. Wow.  Really? What does that even mean? Like constant crying? Or just occasional weepiness? How did she function? This kind of talk causes me anxiety. I have no idea what this is going to be like. I prefer to let the emotion come as it does instead of anticipating it to be one way or the other. I keep telling myself there is no sense working myself up before I have to. Unfortunately that doesn't mean I'll listen to myself:)

Nathaniel and Peter keep reminding me this is a happy occasion. I told them on the way home in the car not to give me a hard time if I get emotional over the coming days. It isn't because I'm not excited. It's just a really big life change and two years sounds like so looong to not see your child you've never been apart from for more than a couple of weeks at a time. Here's the deal. Weeks are different than years. I'm a mom. It's kind of what I've dedicated my life to the last half of my lifeBut no worries, right? I got this. I'm tough! Woman of steel! Pillar of strength! In. The. Bag.

Besides, there is still another twelve days. Twelve whole days. That's basically forever when you're a kid twelve days before Christmas, right?

(I know. I'm screwed.)

In other news, here is Aaron on the way to the temple. He wasn't supposed to be there but made time to come, which makes him all the more awesome than he already is. He's growing out his scruff while he takes a few weeks off his job working for the church. He says it's way more popular with the babes. Better hurry up then I guess because he has to go back to work in a month and the beard has to go again. Chop, chop! 

The temple president mentioned to Nathaniel that from his experience about 36-28 months from now he'd be bringing in a girl to get sealed. I should mention that Nathaniel is still smitten with Nancy. When he isn't at work he is taking her on dates and when they aren't on a date they are Skyping. I keep getting hints that they're fairly serious but I've decided there is only so much I want to worry about. Peter, ever the optimist, says that if pre-mission relationships were a stock he would not invest.

After the temple we went to IHOP because at 10pm it is the only place still open. (It also happened to be BYU graduation because their one and only server was wondering why there was an invasion of people in church clothes during the night shift.) While we were eating we were talking about all of this and Nathaniel tells Aaron he only has three more years to find a wife. Aaron, like me, is wondering what happens in three years. "Because," Nathaniel says, "If you don't by then then I'll beat you to it."
That Nathaniel. He likes to push your buttons.

Full house

Lily got to come out and visit us before she starts graduate school to become an occupational therapist in Arizona.
 Lily, Aaron and I get to be together! It's been a long time!

 Lily and Will get reacquainted. 

Meet Justas, Julius, Matas and Nedas, our dancers we hosted for the Springville Folkfest. They were here the same week as Lily and that meant for the two nights Aaron stayed there was officially thirteen people staying in our house. It was kind of brutal. See those crutches? That happened on the trampoline within the first couple of hours after they got to the house. It took a few days to convince the festival people it needed to be x-rayed. We were all hoping it was just a sprain but of course it ended up being a brake. So poor Nedas came all the way out here and never got to dance in America. Poor guy! That and he was introduced to our fabulous American medical system that wouldn't take his traveler's insurance. I negotiated the best deal I could get for him thanks to my many years of self-employment and we bought the boot and crutches for seven bucks at the DI. 

 The boys jumping sticks.

We went to the festival several nights.

Will got a little tired of it after a while:)

Family vacation to Moab

We finally got a chance to take a few days off and go to Moab as a family.

And bonus! Aaron got to come!!

 Pool at the condos

Our sweet three bedroom condo worked out so great we only ate out once and everyone had plenty of space. 
(Well, as much space as you can have when you're sharing an enclosed area with John.)

 Will's rough ride up to Delicate Arch. 
Reminds me of an Egyptian pharaoh.

 This is how us redheads do in the heat.

 Aaron's awesome picture

The second day we hiked out to this place Nathaniel has been to a number of times when he was in scouts.

 That drop where the boy is sitting up there is so high. Nathaniel and Aaron were the only ones who did it. The water is shallow so you have to jump in just the right spot and that freaked me out.

John, Rebecca and I jumped from here instead, which was plenty high enough for us.

 Rebecca still hit the water hard enough to give herself a pretty bad bloody nose.

Everyone kept trying to get my dander up by me this was our last family vacation before Nathaniel leaves. 
Not that I wasn't already acutely aware.
All in all it really went great and we would definitely do this again.