Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Survey and Why I Feel Pregnant

As parents of six kids ranging from 11 down to 1, as former foster parents of two teenage girls, and as leaders of many, many children and youth over the years while serving in charitable organizations, Brent and I have made a variety of parenting observations. We've struggled and stressed in many different situations. We've needed and heeded lots of inspiration as we've frantically thought a million times, “What are we going to DO with/for/to that child!?!”

Answers and ideas have come and have resulted in the conception of what we call ‘The Pyramid’, which basically gives us a clear picture of how to discipline our children as their little brains mature. We've been using ‘The Pyramid’ to help manage all the big and small conflicts that occur in our family for almost three years now and have experienced such increased maturity in all of us that Brent and I (well, mostly me, but Brent is incredibly supportive) are at a point where we've wondered about sharing more of these insights with others through this blog.

But given the time commitment, we thought (well, mostly Brent, since more writing time for me means he’ll get to do more dishes and diapers…*wink wink*) we’d ask our many friends and family to help us decide whether more writing/sharing time is a wise option.

So here’s a quick survey. Can you take a few seconds to share your opinion? And I guess not answering the survey would send a loud message too. So either way…thanks in advance!
And here's why I feel pregnant:

Can you picture a writer, inventor, artist, scientist, thinker…maybe even yourself stewing over a new idea that, though it's exciting and joyful as the thought grows inside you, it also leaves you feeling restless, bloated, and nauseous as you labor in preparation for it to burst forth into daily life?

The “contractions” continue…far apart… close together…intense…mild…far apart again…until you finally conclude that you must give birth to this idea that has so beautifully altered your life already...with the hope that your creation will ignite a new light in the world for someone else, too. But expressing it in such a way still seems painfully far away...

That's how I feel. I'm pregnant with 'The Pyramid'. It makes me feel excited, but anxious. 

This nostalgic picture of me when I was 9 months pregnant with Kenny 12 years ago sums things up quite nicely. It was taken by my dear husband on March 10, 2001 after an I-can’t-stand-being-two-days-overdue-when-is-this-baby-ever-going-to-come-maybe-never-which-is-probably-good-because-labor-sounds-scary-but-I-guess-he-has-to-come-out-sometime-so-I-might-as-well-take-a-stroll-to-increase-my-chances-even-though-I’m-wearing-my-husband’s-early-90s-grunge-shirt-because-what-I-look-like-in-public-is-the-last-thing-on-my-mind-so-I-don’t-care-if-my-neighbors-see-me-and-please-remind-me-why-I'm-even-smiling kind of walk. 

Kenny was born a few days later and life changed forever.

I think I’ll go for a brisk walk. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Job Update

I said I would post a job update...

Well...I probably don't have to explain much about how Brent spent his time while I was in New York City two weeks ago. After he shooed me off onto the plane, he shed his yellow-tinted computer glasses, ripped off his white shirt and tie (just like Superman...you should have seen it *wink wink*) and transformed into SuperBrent...he cooked, cleaned, taxied, read stories, played games, helped with homework, and even convinced the library lady to check out a movie to a dad without a library card or account who was home alone with 6 kids. Sold.

The arrival of this new birthday T-Shirt** was just in time for such an extravaganza.

But for his new day job, Brent has chosen to lend his time and talents to LED Industries, a start-up company in Lake Geneva, WI where my dad is CFO. They have an awesome product. Best in the market. And Brent hopes his big business experience (director level at IBM and Motorola) will assist them in getting off the ground. 

LED-Industries sells cutting-edge LED lights that snap right into existing outdoor light fixtures. Their lights save the environment and save their customers (like airports, parking garages, car dealerships) big $$ on electric bills.

Below is a Before (on the left) and After (on the Right) pic. 

I think it's cool that he works for the company whose lights light up this beautiful building in Nauvoo, IL. 

The guest bedroom is Brent's new office. And with all the button-pressing he has to do, it's a good thing he has more than one secretary.

There's no paycheck yet (which makes the hundreds of hours so far on this adventure feel more like a sabbatical than a job...woohoo! well, kinda). But we're certain that this is the Lord's path for us for now. 

We are grateful to have followed wise, scriptural guidance to store away surplus in our "times of plenty". We plan to live off of the extra the Lord has blessed us with in past years (as opposed to government unemployment, church, etc.) until we feel His nudge to change directions again. That could happen soon or not. (Though unsolicited, Brent has had a few interviews. So, we're keeping doors open and will keep praying for inspiration.)

We hope to offer God our time and talents always...but particularly for the next few months when our time is a bit more at our discretion. Any suggestions??

**Story behind the shirt: A few months before Brent was laid off, we discussed future plans and joked that if the Golden Handcuffs ever set him free, then he could just be Superman (there's a much longer childhood story that I won't explain now that would explain why we thought that was a clever idea.). He could keep busy pretending to have a job and then when wind of an urgent need came, he could swoop off and do what he lives for: Helping People. I like to write (and apparently we're theater people now), so playing Lois Lane sounded like fun. Just trust me...it was funny at the time.

Anyhoo...Brent's birthday came shortly after he started working upstairs...and he's had a bit more flexibility to fly to the rescue when friends were in the hospital or in need of moving some furniture (or when all hands on deck are needed in the kitchen!). So, I couldn't resist...

I asked Brent's childhood friend, Mike Bonham, for really fast design advice. (He owns and operates Unruly Studios. They do awesome design/web work. Mike also designed LED's logo pictured above...Thanks Mike!) Mike shot an email back within the hour. I ordered the shirt online. And the UPS truck arrived just as we sat down to open presents mid-September. Happy Birthday Brent.

In place of the TM symbol at the bottom...is the word BE. Because now that Brent has some freedom from the Golden Handcuffs (at least for awhile), he can just BE Brent.

To me, Brent IS Superman...he keeps sweeping me off my feet and taking me on a fabulous journey. 

The view from his arms is awesome.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

NYC & Me

I went on an adventure this last weekend. I kissed my Hubby and Kiddos goodbye and joined the rushing winds of people bustling to and fro at O'Hare airport on Thursday afternoon. Then I hopped over to NYC to attend my beloved friend's wedding.

Kirsten was my first roommate at BYU. She bragged about Anahiem, CA weather. I boasted about the Chicago Bulls. We both had waist length hair and became instant Besties. I remember lots of laughing during that cherished freshman year. I didn't have a sister growing up...but I can imagine what having one would be like.

This was taken around Halloween...we didn't normally dress like this. ;)

After my sophomore year, the man of my dreams swept me off of my feet and whisked me away into the night as cans rattled against the pavement. (He became an awesome roommate, too!) Brent and I joked with Kirsten that we would name our first daughter after her. Our Kirsten is now 8.

I wouldn't miss Kirsten's big day for anything.

But heading to the Big Apple to witness Kirsten and Wil become eternally united meant jumping out of my familiar fishbowl and into a sea of New Yorkers...and leaving my Precious Minnows behind.

(side note: Besides a couple of postpartum hospital days, I haven't spent a night away in over six years...let alone TWO nights! Staying close to home is my choice...I don't like to leave my littlest ones for more than a few hours.)

So...Walking into the crowded airport, I felt lonely a midst America's business folks. So few children. So little spontaneous light in people's eyes. I missed sharing my personal space with people who innocently depended on it. Nobody clung to my leg to show me how odd it feels to empty pockets and strip off my belt and shoes to expose my body through a machine in front of an armed stranger. No one tugged on my pants to show me a demonstration of how airport workers use light sabers to communicate with pilots. Nobody begged for a bite of my mouth-watering cinnamon pretzel from Auntie Anne's. I had to eat it all by myself.

Once in New York, I faced the intimidating task of navigating my way to Kirsten's bridal shower. I found a few nice New Yorkers who explained the MetroCard and how to get one. Then I mingled with a crowd of people waiting by the "Public Bus" sign. With my only belongings strapped to my back, I studied maps and confidently moved with the herd that began a stampede when the Route B bus came to a stop. I didn't make it on...which was lucky...it was the wrong bus.

The correct bus came by a few times in the next 45 minutes...but was full and didn't stop.

Finally, the chance to ride a New York City bus came. It was standing room only...very authentic. The hour-long ride made my tired legs feel proud (and the people around me glad I'd used Dial). A talkative lady from LA relieved my friendlessness. I found out all about her daughter at Columbia University and after discovering that my religion might have something to do with my bright smile when mentioning that I have six children that I miss so very much, she asked me if I liked "The Book of Mormon" musical and Mitt Romney. I said from what I know about them...mostly no and mostly yes.

Because of my handy dandy Droid Razr, the nearly empty bus towards the end of the route didn't make me nervous. I sat with confidence (and maybe even arrogance) as I kept watching the blue arrow on my Maps App move closer to the red pinpoint "A". After exiting the bus, I descended some Manhattan stairs and jumped on THE subway. How cool is that?

I quickly figured out that the big numbers decorating the walls every time the train stopped represented the street directly above us. I didn't even have to ask anyone. I know. I'm practically a New Yorker. And get this...the train didn't drop me off at the doorstep of my final destination. I had to walk a few blocks in the cool, smuggy, but very surreal New York air. It was awesome.

I think I felt the most at home in NYC when a middle aged woman boarded 
one of my standing room only subway car rides along with four mentally disabled adults. One of them, an African-American man with graying hair, was particularly smiley. I can still picture his big grin. For several stops, every time the train lurked forward again, he ignored the unwritten adult rule about not looking at other people on the train. Instead, his eyes searched for someone to celebrate with...because the train was moving again. It only took one shared smile for him to remember to look in my direction from then on. His fists pumped with excitement by the end. Mine didn't. But my heart grew a size or two. It reminded me of how exciting it is to have the garbage truck come by our house...on both sides.

The only time I didn't pull my GPS out of my pocket was when I ascended the subway stairs in search of the Manhattan Temple. All I had to do was lift my eyes a little...and it was easy to spot.

The wedding of course was beautiful. Kirsten and Wil are a stunning couple...both such incredible individuals who will make a memorable mark on the world because their union increases their potential. Witnessing them begin an eternal path together refreshed my deep feelings of appreciation for the man who inspires me by his love and for God who completes our triangle so perfectly.

Here are a few views from the reception while on board the Lexington (where I ate a fabulous meal that I didn't prepare myself and uncharacteristically enjoyed the more than mild rocking of the boat on choppy waters):

 If I were a true New Yorker, I could inscribe the name of this bridge [here] as part of this caption...but isn't it beautiful nonetheless?

The partial Freedom Tower extends above the clouds. So symbolic.  

Absolutely breathtaking to snap a personal photo of this amazing woman! I dream of being like her...to stand as a symbol of liberty for my spouse and children that their true potential might be unleashed for good in this world. (Perhaps a future parenting/brain science post is starting to bubble... And I'll put in an order to my seamstress for a future Halloween costume. just kidding)

[Final Reflection]
I wrote most of this post while sitting in a New York apartment, listening to honks and screeches and sirens and whistles and shouts outside while the pouring rain washed Manhattan on Friday morning....and upon returning home, I naturally find it difficult to squeeze in a few moments to finalize the record of this memorable weekend.

I've learned New York City and I have a lot in common (feeding, taxiing, nursing, cleaning up after, and nurturing the growing lives of a ga-zillion people). I admire NYC for managing so many people, for tolerating so much noise and chaos and doing so with such patience and dignity. In Central Park, in the Manhattan Temple, at the corner grocery store, in a new friend's quaint apartment, on the crowded subway...NYC absorbs life and is at peace. I felt it.

When the unusual westerly tailwind rushed me home an hour ahead of schedule on Saturday morning, giving my new 4-year-old an extra birthday memory, my two-day meditation melted into my own crowded city of 24/7 constant energy that swirls through ME...the mother of my home.

But I can be like NYC.

My senses can absorb the sights, smells, and sounds...the high-pitched voices and slobbery kisses...the often intimidating chaos. My senses will keep my soul awake so my mind and my heart can appreciate life around me for what it is in each moment. And only then will chaos consciously transform into the joy and peace that makes life beautiful.

Yep. NYC and Me...we're like THIS [fingers crossed, heart swelled].

  Behold the box of mints that now fills little tummies with such pleasure.