Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Week in Fotos

First of all:
HAPPY 26th BIRTHDAY, AUNTIE AMY!
I haven't taken many pictures this week--I forgot to take my camera on our Bozeman swimming outing on Saturday--so I forgot about the few that I have taken. Let's have a gander... I took some Eighth-Birthday/Pre-Baptism pictures of my niece, Isabelle, on Thursday in Uncle Mike Melin's garden. Check out those rockin' poppies!
Aw, so sweet.
(I had to dress Belle in a dress that was slightly small and a sweater that was slightly large for her, but she looks great in the pix, huh?). There are tons more cute ones, but I will let her mom show you those when you get your baptism invitations :)

James fell asleep waiting for me to tuck the girls in and come lay by him. That face smooshes my heart!
Last week on the way home from the park, we passed a house where they had put these old desks along their boulevard and planted flowers inside of them. I thought my mom would get a kick out of it cuz that's something she would do!

(mom wouldn't paint them purple, though)

Lately, everytime the kids visit Uncle Mike,
they pick a ton of flowers for me!
[Jill, they picked these for you ;) Belle really planned on giving you a beautiful bouquet, not realizing how they'd look--dead--by the time she went home! It's the thought that counts, so here's a picture of the flowers instead]

Thursday afternoon the kids were playing outside, and within about 20 mintues it went from sunny and breezy to wild hailstorm, then a little shower.
The kids, of course, LOVED this.
Belle + Ally + Addie = Cutie Cousins!

Here is a picture of Heidi's room on Sunday afternoon
(during "Quiet Time")...
Sounds good to me!

Monday night we had family night out on this hill overlooking Livingston.
Heidi, Addie, and James are looking out toward Paradise Valley.

...now face east...

Such a wonderful place to live!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Heidi-ism Update

Today (Monday), mid-afternoon

I went out to the front porch to water the plants and found two small framed pictures of Jesus (the ones the kids got at the Primary Christmas Activity) sitting on the welcome mat. Hm. Heidi was riding her bike up the drive way.

Me: Heidi, what are these pictures doing out here? Put them where they belong!

Heidi: No, mom. We need to leave them there so the animals will come up on our porch where I can pet them!

[I need to have a little chat with her just to find the root of this whole Jesus-and-the-animals/ wanting to pet animals thing].

Sunday, June 27, 2010

That Story I Was Going To Tell Ya...

Deeply personal, continue at your own risk...

Lyrics to that song I mentioned last night:
Rowing out into the air.
Taking blankets to the bay.
It's the same
And he was fine,
and, in the first place, he was around.
That was another country, that was another country.

I'm taking these dumb paper lanterns down.
Yards, no, miles they strung along.
And me with them.
And how was I supposed to know about that?
That was another country, that was another country

Are you alright, are you alright?
You are my friend, are you alright?…

I (re-)met this super-shy, quiet poet boy from Wyoming while I was in the MTC in October 1992. He was headed to Arizona and our district did teaching splits with his. While we were talking we realized we’d attended the same Shakespeare seminar, we liked many of the same writers, and had indeed met before (which made our paths crossing again seem more fateful). After we had gone our separate ways to our missions, I was happy and surpised to get a letter with some poetry and AZ photos enclosed from him. We carried on a great correspondence from then on, culminating in a proposal-by-mail that included a “promise ring.” This development made me a little uncomfortable. It semed like a natural progression, but kind of ---I dunno, premature? I mean, it wasn’t like I was going to be seeing other people while serving a mission. But I agreed to resume our relationship and plan for marriage after our missions with a goal to marry in February 1995. After that, we agreed to chill and focus on making the most of the time remaining on our missions.

Except it didn’t go that way. This man began to struggle, big time, in the field. While I was just hitting my stride and really getting into the rhythm and consecration of mission life, my friend was falling apart. The medication he had been taking to control his manic-depression stopped working rather abruptly right around my half-way mark. In his letters, he chronicled his struggles to stay in the field, to find a new psychiatrist and a new cocktail of prescriptions that would allow him to finish his mission . My heart was breaking for him—I was familiar with this struggle. My once-and-future boyfriend/ fiance from high school days was going through it when I left for the MTC; my BYU boyfriend who was at home waiting for me (unbeknownst to me at the time) had also struggled with depression so deep, he’d attempted to take his own life (and eventually succeeded). Red flags were flying, I truly mourned for him because I realized then what a high price he was paying for his creativity—the very thing that had attracted me to him came with a hefty side of mental illness.(By the way, this is one of my Big Questions for God. I can’t wait to ask him why creative genius usually comes with strings of chemical imbalance, manic depression, so much heartache. Maybe the answers will be obvious to me by then, but I really want toknow because it really makes me sad). It became clear by midsummer that he was not well at all, that he was not getting better, and he would be honorably released from his mission and head home to Wyoming.

I knew in my gut that I probably would never marry him at that point, but I still loved and cared for him and did not want to add to his heartache. One afternoon at a Sister’s Conference at the mission home, my president pulled me into his office. He asked me to tell him about this Elder, so I did. I told him that he wanted to get married, but I had some reservations due to the severity of his illness and I felt bad that I wasn’t “up to” being there for him the way he wanted me to. President then explained that my friend’s mission president had called him and told him that this Elder was going home, that he was very ill, and that I should know this. I replied that I DID know this, that I wasn’t surprised, but that I felt really bad for him. My President then asked me if I would accept some counsel from him. I said that I would. He then said, “The Lord wants you to know that this is a relationship that you cannot handle. This is a relationship that will only bring you sorrow.” I nodded. He continued by asking me if I could taper off my correspondence with him, and then when I got home, “give him a wide berth.” I asked what he meant by that, and he said, “Avoid getting involved with him again.” I said that I would. President said, "I don't know if you can. It will be hard."

I was crying a little by this point, but it wasn’t because I was sad to get this counsel—on the contrary, I was so touched that my Heavenly Father and my president cared enough to get this message to me. But I was so sad for my friend. He was so good—golden good—with so much potential, and I knew there was no way around hurting him. And I HATED that. However, from the very second my president uttered those words, I had every intention—a 100% commitment—to obey.

And I did. My friend continued to write me, but my letters dwindled down to a handful thereafter, to nothing after Christmas. He wrote to me of life at home in exruciating detail sometimes, which signaled to me that he had cycled back to being manic. And I could tell that he was frustrated with me—rightfully—but he seemed to understand my desire to focus on my mission and be obedient (I never told him what exactly my president said, but he realized soon enough that we were done). By the time I finished my mission we were out of touch and remained so forever.

I still have a soft, somewhat guilty spot in my soul for what happened between us, but I hadn’t “gone there” or even thought of him for years when last year, a poem he wrote for me slipped out of an old copy of the scriptures I had taken on my mission with me. I read it again and thought, I should google him and just try to find out where he ended up.

When I googled his very unusual name, the only thing relevant that came up was his obituary. And it wasn’t even an obit, really—just his name and some dates of his life and death and memorial. But undeniably him. He had died in Wyoming in 1994. This information was like a punch in the stomach, literally knocking air out of me for a moment. That little knot of guilt swelled in me with the horrifying thought, “What if he went home and felt so bad that he just took his own life the next summer? I added to that pain!” The date of his death was only a year after he had gone home from his mission. I felt sick. I needed to know what happened.

I typed his name into facebook and found a girl who seemed like she might be his sister. I sent a message explaining that I had been a friend of her brother’s and had just googled him and found out he died and aked if she would write back and share some more information with me. She did; I was right. He had driven his car up into the hills, rigged it up to asphyxiate himself with exhaust, and had just drifted off to sleep in the back seat. A hiker found him later. Heart-crushing, no? I admit, though, to feeling relieved when she told me that he had met and proposed to another girl in that year, and it was THAT break up that contributed to this final downward spiral. Small comfort.

While I was waiting to get all of this story, I was communicating with my Georgia who knows this sad side of mortality better than anyone should. Here’s a bit of our exchange:

GEO: I don't remember ever meeting X, but the story sounds familiar. So very sad. I'd be willing to bet your hunch is correct. I loved a mad artist too, for a few years. Only he'd tried to kill himself BEFORE meeting me… And another one too, who unfortunately succeeded. It's horrible stuff. I'm so glad I finally picked the right artist, one who's mad but not THAT kind of mad. Love you, James.

ME: Here is part of what X’s sister sent to me:

X had a major psychological condition. The kind they put people in institutions for. (pardon my spelling).

He got engaged and was really happy. Giddy. I was so happy for him. He deserved it. He decided that he was okay now and went off his meds cold turkey. He started acting crazy and his fiancee broke of the engagement.

He drove his car up to the mountains and set things up to axphisciate (I have no idea how to spell that) himself. He died in his sleep in the backseat of his car. I don't think he suffered any physical pain. It's hard to say.

A hiker found his body. It is horribly sad.

X off his meds is not X. My grandma was on her way to see him because he called her and told her he was loosing it and he was afraid. As always, he was trying to hold it together.

***
[heavy, heavy sigh] I can't help feeling crazy-sad, but also incredibly blessed and guided.

GEO: Poor, poor sweet baby. This rips my heart out. The sweet thing is knowing that he is wrapped up in love now, and that he is perfectly, generously, eternally understood and succored. The cross some people carry in life is so heavy. I'm sad for his family, and so so so so sorry for his fiancee. I hope she isn't losing it herself. What a burden. Those folks are all in my thoughts and prayers. And you are too. I'm awful glad you married Rich, the well and strong. (I mean, I know we've all got our "things," but some of us aren't coming apart at the seams.) This is a heartbreak I'm glad you haven't had to endure on such an intimate level. Love you, Jamie girl. xoxoxo

ME: You know, the lovely thing about Rich is that he IS so well and strong, and patient. I trust him like I've never trusted ANYONE, which has allowed me to be the crazy one for a while and work out all my "things." I could never have made it through the violent rollercoaster of childbirth and motherhood with anyone else, I just know it. And I thank Heavenly Father for His wisdom, for protecting me from myself and giving me something better than what I thought I wanted for myself. I am also thankful everyday for you, and good friends who coached me through that freaky decade without being judgmental, just cheering me on. Thanks for your patience and love--I know I was a mess when you met me, and you helped me grow up.
Hugs--I miss you.
***

Rowing out into the air
Driving home, home from the bay.
And we sang.
And he was fine
And what is more, he was around
That was another country, that was another country

But are you alright, are you alright?
You are still my friend, you didn't go out of my life

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Another Thread

I have written about threads in my life before. They happen all the time, but I always forget to write about them. Two months ago, there was a marriage-and-divorce thread happening (it lasted a good month or so), and now, apparently, this traveling+happiness-vs.-depression thread is happening (it overlapped with the marriage thread a little, truth be told). I have been randomly pulling books off the non-fiction shelves of the library and I could totally shape a curriculum out of the past 4 or 5 books---memoirs, travel logs, understanding happiness/one's place in the world thru travel, etc. {by the way, this is serious problem I have while reading--I am constantly writing a book review or a research paper or a lecture in my head. If I own the book, it gets marked all to heck; if I've borrowed the book, it's stuffed with scrap paper and post-its with my arguments, obervations, or favorite quotes from the book, which I then have to remove to retun the book, so I have little stacks everywhere. I blame this entirely on being a Literature and Composition major. Thank goodness for blogging--if it weren't for blogging, those 70 credit hours of lit & comp classes would be as useless as college algebra and calculus to me!!!}

So I am going to start this backwards. Tonight while I was blissfully cleaning the kitchen, the kids tucked in bed after a hard day of swimming, tomorrow's breakfast and dinner prepared and ready to enjoy on the Sabbath, the dishwasher peacefully whirring, the cd player softly playing Innocence Mission's "GLOW" album, I had a pretty intense memory--more than a memory, a flashback, a muscle memory, deep, involving all six senses.

Truth be told, hearing "Another Country" is always a sucker punch in the gut for me. It takes me back to January 1996 when I was living in North Carolina and my great-grandmother passed away and I couldn't afford to go home to Arizona for the funeral. It was only the latest of many heart-aches: a local unrequited love, a love back at school that was certainly requited but which led down a path that would surely lead to unhappiness, apathy about my current course of study, general homesickness, a long, icy Carolina winter, etc. My heart was certainly heavy, and it all comes back when I hear those first sweet, mournful, longing strains of the guitar on this song.

So I went there, but wondered why, when my day had been--my whole life IS--so peaceful and beautiful, was I feeling so melancholy? Then I realized that it was the book I had just finished, Grammar Lessons: Translating a Life in Spain by Michele Morano. It's 13 personal essays revolving around living in Spain as an English Teacher and experiencing life thru that prism of language, culture, grammar. Most of the essays happen with the backdrop of a dying relationship with a very depressed man back in New York ("...Or, I moved to Spain because the man I loved, the man who tried to kill himself, was driving me insane..."--the same could be said, to a lesser degree, about my leaving on a mission or moving back to North Carolina). This particular passsage about said boyfriend coming to visit in Spain struck an old familiar chord with me:

[From a section of grammar lessons titled "7. in adverbial clauses denoting purpose, provision, exception"] "Unless. In language, as in experience, we have purpose, provision, exception. None of which matches reality, all of which takes the subjunctive.

"On the long walk back down the hill toward your room, he turns quiet. You find yourself talking more than usual, trying to fill the empty space with cheerful commentary, but it doesn't help. The shape of his face begins to change until there it is again, the landscape of furrows and crags. The jaw thrusts slightly, lips pucker, eyebrows arch as if to say, 'I don't care. About anything.'

"Back in the room, you ask him what's wrong, plead with him to tell you. You can talk about anything, you assure him, anything at all. And yet you're stunned when his brooding turns accusatory. He says it isn't fair. You don't understand how difficult it is to be him. Your life is easy, so easy that even moving to a new country, taking up a new language, is effortless. While every day is a struggle for him. Don't you see that? Everyday is a struggle.

"He lowers the shade and gets into bed, his back turned toward you.

"What to do? You want to go back outside into the mild air and sunshine and walk until you remember what it feels like to be completely alone. But you're afraid to leave him. For the duration of his 90 minute nap, you sit paralyzed. Everything feels unreal, the darkened room, the squeals of children in another part of the house, the burning sensation in your stomach. You tremble, first with sadness and fear, then anger. Part of you wants to wake him, tell him to collect his things, then drive him back to the airport in Madrid. You want to send him home again, away from your new country, the place where you live unencumbered---but with a great deal of effort, thank you very much. The other part of you wants to wail and beat your fist against the wall and howl, Give him back to me."

I have lived this. Exactly, even down to the burning stomach (which anxious sensation I lived with for my first 29 years, then it disappeared in the peace of life with Richard) and being told that my life is "easy" (I could write a whole other post about this--few things anger me more than when someone tells me, "Yeah, you're good at x--it comes so easy to you, but me? I just could never do x..." This is insulting to both of us because [a] nothing comes easy; with a great deal of effort, certain things can become habits and therefor get easier with time, but I have to make choices every minute of every day to be who I am and do what I do and [b] so do you. You have the power, the divine nature, to accomplish anything you want to. Your life is, for the most part--illness and affliction aside, the sum of what you choose from moment to moment). With three different men I felt this--I lost three loves to depression. Two of them took their own lives. One survived and met a woman who lives gracefully (gratefully) on his rollercoaster. I have done the beating and the howling dozens of times as I watched my boys fade. It's a horrifically helpless place to be. I do realize that the only thing worse than loving someone with depression is being someone with depression, so the anger, it just stagnates and rots there between you because really, are you going to be angry AT this person who's as tired of it as you are? Oh, ouch, the memories! And then the stark contrast to my life today! How did I get here? I almost have to catch my breath from shock, from what might have been, to a sigh of relief for what is.

[I have a tangential story to tell, and I will tell it. Tomorrow.G'nite for now!]

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Heidi-isms

On the way home from the Library just now...

Heidi: [wistfully looking out the window of the van] I wish animals weren't afraid of people...(sigh)...there are so many animals I want to pet!

Me: [absentmindedly responding, distracted by driving, construction, other kids, etc] Yeah, that would be fun.

Heidi: I know what we could do! We could get a big picture of Jesus and tape it on our face like a mask!

Me: [tuning in and wondering] What?

Heidi: Cuz animals love Jesus. If I taped Jesus' face on mine they wouldn't be scared of me, they would bow down and start singing, "Alleluia!" cuz they love Jesus. We should totally do that, mom.

***
Something to think about come hunting season, people.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Since Thursday...

...we have driven 560 miles in the van. The first 490 were home from Utah...Heidi self-portrait
Ally in the passenger seat

Belle, Heidi, Addie, and James watching Disney's Alice in Wonderland on car DVD.

That's me drivin' my precious cargo, west of Bozeman on Thursday afternoon around 2:45pm.

On Friday, we baked a yummy chocolate cake for Daddy's birthday and delivered it to the office at noon time for him to share.
(Doesn't that remind you of the chocolate cake at Swenson's?)
So glad Richard was born!

On Friday evening, we headed out to Pine Creek to camp.
This is a photo from the highway that leads to the ranch...
"X" marks the campground.
Addie, James, Belle, and Ally around the campfire.
(Heidi and I came up a little later so Heidi could attend a friend's bday party).

The birthday boy and is niece.
James fixin' to wade in the creek...brrrr!
Ally & Addie being silly
Bubby in the creek
Girls around the fire at 11pm-ish:
Belle, Jamie, Ally, Addie
In the morning we took a long walk around the campground.
Here are Heidi and James on the trail.
James hiking.

James, Heidi, Belle and Addie on the trail.

Belle on the banks of Pine Creek

Belle & Addie throwing sticks in the raging creek.
Heidi hunting for more sticks...it's all about the sticks!
In July, we are having a ward campout with a dinner at this gorgeous spot

More hiking around...

Isabelle helping James on the trail

Back to the campsite!

Home-Sweet-Trailer
This is the view down the hill from the campground...
I still pinch myself, it's so beautiful.
***

Happy Birthday, dear Hubs! We love you so much.
Happy Fathers' Day, too...to Rich and our dads and grandaps and brothers. Thanks for being awesome dads. We hope you have a relaxing, sunny, pleasant day tomorrow!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Only Two Pictures

These are the only two pictures I have taken of my trip so far, and these are about 3 minutes from my house in Montana: I-90 West on Sunday afternoon about 3 miles from Livingston
(facing Bozeman--one of my favorite vistas ever, anywhere)
Addie took this one out her window a few seconds later.

So I am leaving Utah in a few minutes and I didn't take any pictures of all the fun I have had with my mom and sis and kids and friends. We arrived at bedtime on Sunday, woke up on Monday and met Aunt Jill and the cousins at IKEA, hung out with them most of the day while we helped Nana make dinner for her friends Tina and Chuck visiting from Tucson. Jill had to work Monday night , so she left, but I stayed & had a nice dinner/visit with Tina and Chuck.

Addie slept over with Cousin Ally Monday night, and I picked her up Tuesday morning and let Heidi and Jack play for a while. Then I met up with my mom and the cute little party store in Lehi and then went swimming at the Legacy Center with the kids. Papa Post saw my facebook post about going there, so he stopped by and found us (miraculously) right by the entrance. That was so fun. Swimming really tired out the kids so they crashed hard that night and I watched "The Young Victoria" (which was so, so good! I absolutely LOVED it! The music and the costumes and the story! Victoria and Albert have such a sweet story. Did anyone else see it and want a sequel? I want to see "The Aged Victoria" soon. Excellent!).

Wednesday I got up and cleaned up my car, got gas, etc. and waited for Tina and Cousin Robin to come over to mom's for a girls' date. We went to Nook and Cranny "stuff" store, to IKEA to get lunch and curtains, and because we ran out of time and were all in the same car, we all got to go to Nana's Rheumatology appointment in Provo from 2-5pm, too! I sat/ walked around outside and played with Heidi and James and visited with Robin. We took the kids across the street from the doctor's office to Will's Pit Stop for drinks and a treat (Robin bought them gummi candies and they were thrilled). It was so fun to visit with Robin and catch up on all her kids and nieces and nephews.

I had a lot of packing to do so I was frustrated being stuck in Provo, but it all worked out nicely. I was able to get home, get packed, drop Heidi off at Petersens' to sleep over with Cousin Jack, and have a little pre-trip meeting with Ally & Belle and Drew. On the way back, I stopped and got car snacks and came back to mom's and slept soundly from 10:30pm-5:48am, and here I am--ready to take off! Daddy, we can't wait to see you!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sweet Link

Up late, coughing. Took a eucalyptus bath and came to read some blogs, read myself to sleep. I loved THIS post from some e-friends who lost a little daughter 2 years ago--she would have been 4 years old today. What I liked is that I have had some of these same impressions in my own extremities and I appreciate Vic trying to express the inexpressible. It is hard to find words for our Father's love, to communicate to another person how He has taught us (which is, in the end, why we all have to walk that path and find our own testimonies, I suppose, although I wish so much my faith were really like a torch and I could simply share the flame!) and how there are some things--some messages--that come with such power, they are beyond words and are undeniable. I like to think that this is pure intelligence and is the way we will learn when we "graduate" from this life.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

End-of-School Cousin Celebration

The girls got out of school at 11:45am on June 4th, so we headed over to Helena to celebrate with our Postum & Lehman Cousins (who still had 3 days of school). We got to go with Aunt Amie to pick up Jake and we played on the playground for a while. Then we went back to Post's house and played some more while Aunt Amie made us a yummy chicken taco dinner (for which the Lehmans joined us). It was such a nice visit--thanks for the luvs, Amie & Laura!Best Buddies James and Sammy
I couldn't get Sammy to look at the camera!

More Cousin Pals: Jake and Heidi, our big six-year-old kindergarten grads! (Heidi is wearing Addie's shoes--silly!)

Heidi blowing bubbles in front of Aunt Amie's pretty tulips

Sadly, this is my only shot of Amie :( She has the cutest little baby bump and is almost half-way thru her pregnancy with my new niece (I hope it's a girl, anyway!)


Cousin Dogpile!

Silly kids!
Uncle MAtt was working the whole time we were in Helena, but he stopped by in his cruiser just as we were getting ready to leave. The kids were soooo excited to check out his car and uniform!

James with Uncle Matt aka Officer Babyface of the Helena PD

James with Uncle Matt again...he's pretty proud to have an Uncle Policeman (so was I!)
***
That was a short-but-sweet trip to kick off our summer festivities. Thanks again, for having us, Postums!


Babies Change the World

This is a picture of me with Adeline on November 21, 2001, just after she was born in Utah. I am talking on the phone to my Grandpa in Ari...