Thursday, May 30, 2013

Save the drama for your momma

I wish I was blogging about our awesome trip to Montana. Yet, tonight I had to reply to a nasty "anonymous" letter sent to us. I process through writing.I am pretty sure I know who sent it. So should I actually print it off and take it to his house or just print it off and post it in our big 'ol pile of dirt? Or just take the guy cookies and kill him with kindness??

**Back story** So those who may not know, we are re-landscaping our front yard. We are including some amazing garden boxes my husband built. They are big (good to grow lots of veggies in) and they take up about a third of our front yard. We are debating whether or not to put a fence in front of it. (I want to, Josh doesn't.) Right now we have a bunch of big metal and wood garden boxes, a pile of dirt, a pile of manure, and a TON of mud. Not a pretty sight, but an OBVIOUS work in progress. It has been a work in progress for a month now--way longer than we anticipated. Yet, we are making slow but steady progress. Albeit, it doesn't look like progress yet!

So today we get a letter in the mail. It is addressed to my husband. It is written in shaky-elderly writing. It has our address as the return address. It was a little printed piece of paper that was cut out--about 4"x4" square. Centered at the top of the paper what the word: why. Then it proceeded with an unnumbered list of 12 why questions. Here is the list with my responses.

Dear why,
I am pretty sure that your intent by your letter was not to get answers. If you truly wanted answers you probably would have asked us these questions in person or at least signed the letter and put your return address (instead of ours.) We clearly received your intention of intimidation and harassment. Yet we would like to take the opportunity to answer each question and ask some of our own. Your intent to stay anonymous forces us to publicly reply (although we are fairly certain as to who sent the letter.) We would have preferred to have kept the matter just between us.

1.   Why are you destroying the beauty of our neighborhood?
We understand that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We probably have a very different view of what beauty is. Yet we are in the middle of this project and are not even near completion. I would hope that when we are done most people will see it as a thing of beauty. Not everyone will as there are so many ugly bushes in this neighborhood that we despise, yet they are not ours and not in our yard so we just don’t worry ourselves about it.
2.   Why are you creating such an ugly sight?
Most construction sights are not pretty. Progress takes work—and work isn’t pretty. Again we are not done with this project.
3.   Why can’t you have the boxes in back or at the side of your house?
The optimal sun is in the front yard. The correlating landscape that will be going with our boxes will beautify our front yard (of course –our opinion.)
4.   Why take play area away from your children?
Our children need healthy food more than they need more play area. Our back yard is sufficient. We also go to parks. Thank you for your concern in our children’s wellbeing.
5.   Why are you lowering the value of our houses?
Again, I ask for your patience. I don’t expect everyone to have our same vision. I can tell by this letter that you are really worried about what the end product is going to be. I assure you, we are not done. Yet I don’t feel like we are lowering property values. The generation that is buying houses are largely apart of the “grow gardens—not lawns” movement.
6.   Why aren’t you thinking of what is good for the neighborhood?
We assure you that we had no idea that people would be so upset by our intent to garden. It seemed pretty innocent to us. We had no intentions of maliciously hurting anyone.  Yet we also have to consider what is good for our family. Having more organically grown fruit and vegetables is really important to us. We don’t belong to a generation that can count on the food in the grocery stores being the healthiest for us. With some of the health concerns our family has, the cost of all organic fruits and vegetables is quite expensive.
7.   Why didn’t you move out in the farm area?
I don’t know if you have priced farms lately—it is a rich man’s game now. We wish that we had the millions of dollars to buy a nice piece of property with a house on it. But we don’t. We have our little slice of suburbia and we have to make the most of that for now. If you would like to purchase us a farm that my husband can still commute to his job, we would be more than happy to accept the donation.

***Up to this point the questions weren't nice, but tolerable--this is where it gets personal!***

8.   Why did you gradually destroy the beauty of your place?
Again beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We actually are not fans of bushes. We have been gradually taking out bushes since we bought the house. I can see, to someone whom loves bushes, that this would appear that we were gradually destroying the beauty of our place. Different generation—different tastes.  Yet we have had a vision of what it can be. We are doing it little by little as we can.
9.   Why don’t you fix the down spout?
We do know our down spout has had issues since it blew off in the windstorm of 2011. Yet it has been fixed—or so we thought before we got your letter. If we did not do this to your standard, please feel free to teach us a better way to do this.
10.                   Why can’t you be better neighbors?
This is actually the question that injured me the most. I am not the best neighbor. I have severe anxiety, and am really shy before I get to know someone. Yet I have made an effort to get to know my neighbors despite the difficulty for me. I have tried to be kind, wave, and offer a hello to all those that I meet. I have taken food to neighbors I don’t even know when they have been ill. We  roll our neighbor’s garbage cans in and out weekly. If this is who I think it is, after the big wind storm we spent the next day cleaning up a huge tree that fell in YOUR yard. I had all four of my kids out in the December air. My twins strapped into strollers because they couldn't even walk. Yet I was out there, my boys were out there. We cleaned your yard up. No one came and helped us--no one. I can only assume that if you feel we have not been good neighbors, it is because there has also been no effort on your part. Yet I am truly sorry if we have done anything that was not neighborly. Please show us what a good neighbor is.
11.                   Why have you not tried to improve your place instead of letting it go to pot?
I realize that this statement is written by someone who must not remember the amount of work it takes to raise a young family. I can only assume that you never had 4 kids in 4 years—including a set of twins. It is all I can do some days to get my kids dressed and fed. Our yard is far from perfect. Our home is also. We are a work in progress (as well as our yard) there has been a lot that we have learned as we have gone along. It will never be perfect. We will never be perfect. I am so sorry that you have taken it as a personal injury.
12.                   Why can’t you make us happy and proud to have you in our neighborhood?
Well, one thing I have learned in my life, thus far, is that no one can make you happy but yourself. I am sorry that you are unhappy. I will not take credit for it though. If you are unhappy with us and not proud of us, I would challenge you to get to know us. We are more than our yard. We are good people, with good hearts.

So here are our questions:
1.      Why couldn’t you come talk to us and find out what we were doing? No, we didn’t take the time and expense to have an artist do a rendering of what our landscaping is going to look like. If we could have, you might even like what it is going to look like. Right now all you see is a piece of the puzzle—and a small one at that.
2.      Why is it that you felt you had to criticize and demean us?
3.      What were you hoping to accomplish with your letter? Were you trying to create peace and harmony in the neighborhood? Were you hoping convince us that we needed a landscape to match yours? Were you lifting us up? Or did you just mean to hurt us and cause ill feelings in the neighborhood? Are you trying to divide the neighborhood?

I can only assume by this letter that you are not the kind of person to admit when you are wrong. Yet I hope that when we are done, you will realize that you were too hasty in your judgments of what is going on. Please be patient with this process. With four little ones, and my health problems, and the copious amounts of rain we have been getting, it takes time.

Love and Laughter,
The Thomsons

**Self-esteem takes a big hit with this one today!!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Horse's behind

Never have I been so thankful for my home as I have today. I often offer up a prayer of gratitude for my home. Even more so when the wind is howling or the snow won’t stop falling. Yet today it was for the peace that a “home” can bring.

My family and I were at a family gathering. We had a great time with cousins, aunts, and uncles. After a while my husband said something that was un-thoughtful to a family member. He was joking, but it offended two people deeply. In fact two grown women ran out of the room crying. He had tried to apologize but there was no taking back the words he had said. We are not close with the inner circles of our extended family. We don’t know ANYTHING about anyone’s personal lives. So this was a situation where a comment that was meant in jest had become a personal injury.

We quickly grabbed our children and fled the extremely uncomfortable situation. After a couple of minutes of driving he reached out and grabbed my hand. This wasn’t the kind of sweet, loving hand holding. This was a desperate grip of physical contact. He wanted to know that even though he had made a mistake, he was still loved.

After a couple of minutes he whispered, “I feel like a horses behind.” We talked about how to be a little more sensitive in situations like that. He was hurting, I was hurting and I thought we would never feel happy again.

After the drive home, we pulled into our driveway. There was the garden box he had been working on all week.
A sense of satisfaction started creeping into the pits we both had in our stomachs. 
After we came inside, I was checking FB and there were some sweet comments on a post about his project. All of the sudden a peace started coming over me. We were home.

Home is supposed to be the place where you can come to and feel okay—where the experiences from the day can turn into lessons, yet the pain forgotten. It is a place where you are allowed to not be perfect—yet are loved anyway.

Sometimes amid the screaming, fighting, teasing, and messes I forget. I forget that home is the place where we get a glimpse of the love our Father in Heaven has for each of us. A love that forgives those foot in the mouth experiences, that forgives shortcomings, bad haircuts, extra pounds, miss matched clothes, stains on couches, fingerprints, tempers, clumsiness, boogers hanging from your nose, ignorance, bad manners, bad breath, a missing earring, different colored shoes, a bad hair day, and many more things. Home is a soft place to land, a place where we can be okay.

One of my childhood friends has this quote on her blog: “The happy home is all, where the roughness of the way shall be forgotten.”Rev. Samuel Rutherford. The first time I read this, I didn’t really like it. I felt like I wasn’t creating a home like this. I felt like our home was a place where you were constantly being corrected. Yet, this is something I am striving for. Something I yearn to achieve. Today I feel like my home served that purpose.

After we came home, we headed to our ward meetings so my boys could fulfill their assignments in primary and I could teach my lesson. Upon arriving, we found out that sacrament meeting had let out 10 minutes early and we had missed the opportunity for Max to give a talk and Turner to say a prayer. They were pretty bummed about it. In fact Josh ended up taking Max home. I sat in the meeting and cried. I was still upset about what had happened at the family gathering. My heart hurt for those that had been offended. My heart hurt for my misunderstood husband.My heart hurt for my disappointed boys. 

As I sat and cried, the women in primary brought me tissues, put their arm around me, passed me a sweet note, gave me chocolate and just plain loved me. (I wasn’t loudly sobbing, I promise.) I was so thankful for the fact that a ward can feel like a family. It has taken me a long time to get to that point in this ward, but I am glad that I am there.

I hope that I can treat others a little bit more kind. Give each other more of the benefit of the doubt. I hope that I can be more thoughtful, and gentle. I hope that the lessons learned today won’t be forgotten. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Awesomeness of mothers

Hey, guess what? It is mother's day this weekend. Cool hu? The thing is, there are so many mothers that are DREADING this weekend! I posted a cute mother's day video on FB. It was an ode to mothers. I was surprised when I got not only one, but two comments from people saying they were dreading mother's day. What shocked me was that they were from women that I look up to SO much!

Now the idea of women hating mother's day isn't anything new to me. My own angelic mom struggled with mother's day. The thing was, as a child, I didn't get it. My mom was PERFECT to me. She is beautiful, intelligent, humble, selfless, spiritual, giving, funny, encouraging, supportive, god-fearing, kind, patient, plus a million other things, but mostly the BEST mom SEVEN children could ask for. 
She is gonna kill me when she sees this! I love you Mommy!
So if my mom and my two other amazing friends/family can hate mother's day, it makes me think that there are a lot of others out there that hate it also. 

The thing about being the child is that I (as an extremely overly sensitive and egocentric child) I took it very personal. It made me sad to think that she didn't like being a mother, my mother. I of course understand now that it wasn't about me. 

Yet, I have been determined to enjoy celebrating mother's day. I love the opportunity to celebrate the gifts of children I have been given. I enjoy a day to give thanks to my Father in Heaven for the four wonderful kids He has blessed me with. 

I don't view mother's day as a day to celebrate perfection. I view it as a day to celebrate motherhood. A day to celebrate all women (with children and without) that give their time, talents, and abilities to nurturing, and loving children. 

I know it is also a really hard day for thousands of women that WANT to be mothers and don't have the opportunity to. It is my personal opinion that any woman that wants to be a mother, can find opportunities to mother. (If you are looking, I have plenty of opportunities right here for some extra mothers!) And I personally am so thankful for the women in my children's lives that mother them. I have great aunts that have served as extra mothers in my life. Teachers, neighbors, and friends that were interested in my life. 

If you are struggling with feeling of inadequacy--stop it ;) and hug a mom. Let's celebrate motherhood together! Yay for the family! Yay for God's plan :)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Taking it home with me theme

This is one of my favorite pictures of my siblings--EXCEPT it is missing my brother Brett!
One of the things I got from Women's Conference that I wasn't planning on was a deeper understanding of family. Or at least what it COULD be.

I was blessed enough to be invited to Women's Conference by my dear friend. My friend Amy lives across the street. We have kids roughly the same ages. She is an amazing woman is is always looking for a blessing to be in others lives. You always feel loved and accepted in Amy's presence.
Amy goes to women's conference every year with her sister-in-laws. Amy's husband comes from a family of 7. They have 4 girls and 3 boys--exact opposite of my family. One of his sisters also lives in the ward. Actually she has been in the ward longer and also use to live across the street in the same house. Diana (the sister) has been a dear friend for years and years. I had met the other sisters in passing at a couple of events, but honestly I couldn't really keep them all straight!
Although I wasn't sure at first if I wanted to come along as the 5th wheel (or 9th as the case was,) I really wanted to go to women's conference. So I accepted Amy's offer to travel, bunk, dine, and be inspired with this group of women.
Also the opposite of me is the fact that all of the kids in this family live here in Utah. Not only that, they all live in the suburbs of Salt Lake City. The sisters and sister-in-laws get together EVERY WEEK!! The whole family gets together often. The cousins are best friends. Through thick and thin, they are together. It just kind of hit me when someone we were talking to asked Susan (the mother-in-law) if all of these women belonged to her. She explained that I was a friend but the rest were daughter, in-laws and one granddaughter-in-law. When she told her new friend how close they all lived, the other women were so impressed with her good fortune. So was I.
I realized that location made it easier for them to all stay close. Yet, I come from a family with AMAZING people. I am really a bad sister. I haven't known about my own nieces baptisms. I haven't kept track of the happenings in my own siblings lives.
I honestly often feel like an outsider in my own family. It isn't my siblings fault. It is mine. I have put myself on the outside. I have seperated myself from my family that I love because it has been too hard to pick up a phone.
I long for it to be different. I wish it was. I gained such a huge testimony of the blessing of family. I enjoyed being with my friend's family, I loved watching them laugh together. I loved the unconditional love they have for each other. No one seemed embarrassed to say or do something (believe me--all inhibitions were GONE!)
There is a peace that comes when you are with people that know you so well. You know that they know you to your core, and nothing you can do would be bad enough to skew their opinion of you. There is no way to offend them because they love you too deeply. We all need times like that. Family--it's about time. So how do you spend time with people that live all over the country? I know that I can't wait until this summer when I get to be with my whole family again! Family is such an amazing blessing. And if you are close with yours, physically and emotionally--you are truly blessed! Is it okay to hope all my kids stay close by in their old age?? 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

One of these things . . .

Is potty trained!
It is Miss Milzy! She has been for a few weeks, she did it all on her own. I have no advice except that when they are ready, they are ready! It was just pretty awesome that she was ready so young :)I have been reluctant to post it just because I was afraid she would regress all the way back to diapers. Here's to hoping I waited long enough! I guess we will find out!!

Family anthem

 Several months ago I was doing the dishes, and attempting to multi-task. I had my laptop on the counter and was listening to a session of last years women's conference. I honestly don't remember what the talk was about. I only remember that it was taught by a husband and wife team. The wife had this little cheer that she did every morning as her children walked out the door. It was cute and she was so enthusiastic when she did it for the group. It had several attributes that she hoped her children would display in their day. 

It got me thinking of what kind of cheer I would do for my kids as I helped them to put on their daily armor of God. 

A couple of months ago I was trying to find a good old primary song to teach my children during school. When I was flipping through the Children's Songbook, and came to Dare To Do Right, I knew that was the song for the week!

As we started learning it, I realized that it had EXACTLY what I wanted for my children to remember each day. 

I want them to KNOW that they have a work that "no other can do." I think it is one of Satan's best tools to make people think that they don't matter. If they believe that they don't matter, then they won't fulfill their life mission, and a big score for the bad guy. 

I want them to know that they need to be brave, courageous, and true to God's plan. 

I also want them to know that "other men's failures can never save you." Just because everyone else is doing it, it won't save you! Do what is right no matter what. 

Since then, I have adopted this as our family anthem. Do you have a family anthem? What is it? Or what would it be if you were to adopt one? Or do you have a family saying that your family repeats each day? I would love to hear about it!!

Monday, May 6, 2013

God knows our hearts

Right now all I want to do is write. I want to write about the amazing experience I had at Women’s Conference. Somehow I feel like if I write about it, it won’t go away. I have the words from that EFY song dancing in my brain, “I hope this feeling won’t go away, if I let it stay, I’m taking it home with me.”  (A song that is stuck in your head like that is called an earworm by the way, just one of the MANY things I learned this weekend.)

The thing is, I have been to many amazing programs, weekends, conferences, etc..., and I know that when you walk out of there, you are on cloud 9, yet pretty soon real life starts to hit you again and slowly that 9 drops to an 8, then a 7 and pretty soon, you are back in the real life mode.

I have found that if I set some goals about the things that I learned, I CAN keep something from my days away. I want to be CHANGED by the conference.

One story that I want to share happened at the very last session. Somehow at the last session, we discovered the wonder of the blue seats. Each day started and ended with a large group session in the Marriott Center. The stadium stands were old and built for people that were built 50 years ago. My knees were squashed behind the backs of the seats in front of me and my thunder thighs were squeezed against the armrests. The blue seats though were a newer section of the stadium. There was more room between rows and a couple of extra inches for the bootie, and they were PADDED!

The only down fall of the blue seats is that they were behind the speaker. This didn’t seem like a big deal due to the fact that they broadcast the speaker overhead on the jumbotrons. What surprised us was that you could read the teleprompter from where we sat, and that thing is mesmerizing! 
Our concluding speaker was President Henry B. Eyring. It was amazing to hear from one of the first presidency.  The theme of the conference was D&C 100:12 “Therefore, continue your journey and let your hearts rejoice; for behold, and lo, I am with you even unto the end.”

President Eyring gave so many great examples of people that have been strengthened through their journey by the Lord. As he spoke of Joseph Smith, my heart was drawn up in prayer. I believe Joseph Smith, yet I don’t really feel like my testimony of Joseph Smith is as strong as I would like it to be. I prayed to have my testimony strengthened. 

As I prayed, President Eyring started to conclude his talk. I was watching the teleprompter as he began the closing remarks of his talk. He stopped reading what was on the teleprompter and bore a POWERFUL testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith then continued on with the talk as written. A wave of the spirit poured over me. His words of the prophet spoke straight to my soul. Not only had I received a powerful witness of the prophet, I received a powerful witness the God was aware of ME. He used one of His apostles to answer MY prayer!

I was changed by this gesture. God know us personally. He knows our thoughts, He knows our desires, He knows us. I am so glad that I have a Father in Heaven that loves me enough to use one of His apostles to answer a prayer of someone so insignificant. I know that there were other people that needed to hear that powerful testimony also. I am so thankful that God hears and answers prayers.