Sunday, December 28, 2008

Finally Home

Yes, Margaret and I are finally home. After being in 8 states in the last 10 days (not including the District of Columbia) we have returned from our weary journey and are currently relaxing while the Cowboys get their butts kicked (sad day).

Thursday night Margaret and I went to Virginia to see a play at Arena Stage called "Next to Normal" it was a rock musical about a woman who is losing it mentally and how she and her family deal with it;. Margaret said it was one of the best musicals she has ever seen (which is saying a lot if you know that Margaret loves musicals). I thought it was really good and the day after we saw it Entertainment Weekly Magazine named it the best play in the US of 2008.

Friday night we packed the car and at 4:00 in the morning on Saturday we got out of bed and left for Michigan half an hour later. Timothy slept until 8:00 and we pulled into Margaret's parent's house in Michigan shortly before 2:00 where we were greeted by a hug from her parents and a 17 foot tall Christmas Tree.

We enjoyed a great time with all of Margaret's extended family and enjoyed Christmas with Santa (that's what the grandkids call Margaret's dad). The most interesting present was that Margaret's brother bought his girlfriend a pet snake for Christmas. She loved it.

Timothy had a blast playing with his Cousin Tabitha and even got to go sledding in the snow.

Margaret and I were given a couple of gift cards for Christmas as well as a gift certificate for one free night at a Bed and Breakfast. The best part of Christmas for me was that Santa got me a stocking that looked like a tool belt.

While we were in Michigan we got to spend a little time (not nearly enough) with Margaret's best friend Mandy and her family.

(Margaret said Mandy would get mad if I put a picture of her in our blog, so I made it a small picture. You're welcome Mandy) We got to go out to eat at Ponderosa's Steakhouse where Timothy thoroughly enjoyed his meal. And Mandy made us an apple pie, which I ate at least half of.

On Friday we got up, took pictures with Margaret's family, packed the car and drove to KY to see my mom, who was visiting my grandparents/aunts uncles and cousins in Louisville. We spent most of the day Saturday bowling with family at the bowling alley where my grandma has worked for the last 11 years. While we were bowling Timothy stood by the ball return watching the balls come back and advising people on which ball to use.

Saturday evening we went to my grandparents house, met with even more extended family and played yahtzee for a solid 3 hours. We got up and left Louisville at 6:30 Sunday and made it home right at 5:00.

It's fair to say we're tired. But it was worth it to be able to spend the Holidays with family.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Parties and Pictures

Last Friday was our ward Christmas party, for which I whipped up a HUGE batch of mashed potatoes. Looking at the pan, I figured it would be cheaper to buy a big bag of potatoes than untold boxes of instant potatoes. Plus the real thing is always better. They tasted great, but it took a while. Thankfully I didn't really have anything else planned for that afternoon, and Timothy was very accomodating while I worked. He'd play, then come watch, and go back to playing.

Anyway, the party was great fun. LOTS of food, of which I ate too much, lovely music, and of course, a visit from Santa. Now, last year, We got a picture of Timothy and Calista on Santa's lap, and they were pretty cool with it. Not so much this year....

Oh well, they had fun the rest of the time, and Calista was soon soothed with a candy cane and a cuddle from Mommy. It was also bedtime, so they were kind of tired. The apparently did fine the next night when they tried another Santa.

As for us, the next morning, we slept late (Thanks to Timothy's later bedtime) and then trotted off to the mall to get a family Christmas photo. It turned out pretty well, even if it did take 3 hours....

Turns out that was the high point of my weekend, as I then spent the next three days throwing up and wanting to die. Thankfully it was this weekend, and not next weekend when we head to my parents for Christmas. It's no fun to be sick for the holidays.

Well keep you posted on our fun adventures in cold cold MI, but for now, check out the rest of the fun photos on our flickr page. (Link to the right)

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Okay, this one is for all the guys out there. If you're a woman (especially if you're married) you may want to skip this post, but feel free to read on. Know however that you have been warned.

When we ask what's for dinner honey, the answer is definitely not leftovers. You can answer anything from "chicken" to "I'm not feeling up to making dinner, let's go out", or even "I'm not feeling up to making dinner tonight, would you mind making it?"

However, the answer is in no way shape or form "leftovers". We're good husbands. We take leftovers to work for lunch while all of our coworkers go out and eat delicious greasy burgers right in front of us. We don't complain. We often time eat the same meal three times or more in the same week for lunch.

With the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas, we do not want to eat the same meal more than once in a week. We don't care if the fridge needs to be cleaned out. If you're that desperate to get rid of food invite the missionaries over for lunch; those guys will eat anything.

I'm not saying that it's your job to make us dinner every night. I actually enjoy cooking and have been known to create delicious dinners. I'm just saying don't put "leftovers" on the meal plan for dinner time.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas Beginnings

Monday we began our Christmas celebration officially. When John got home, we ate a quick dinner, and headed off to get a Christmas tree.
Timothy was amazed when we entered a whole yard of trees, and approved the second tree we looked it. It was a very nice one, I approved too. Then, we added to the amazement when we tied the tree to the car and headed home. All the way home he kept repeating "Tree" and "Car" as if to make sure we knew what had happened.

However, once we got the tree stand out, his confusion seems to have vanished, and he was all business. He escaped my attempts to get him undressed for a bath, grabbed his hammer, and proceeded to help Daddy put the tree stand together. Then he crawled under the tree to help John tighten it down. I was holding the tree at the point, so I don't have a picture, of that, but here's a good one of the tree stand...

The tree is up, and looks great. It's a little bare at the bottom two feet, but I had to keep moving things up as cats and child wanted to play with all the ornaments. Oh well, such are the joys... =)

In other news, I've been getting creative with leftover turkey, and found this great recipe. Turkey Primavera from Campbells Kitchen. John proclaimed it "restaurant quality" and I'm pretty proud of it myself. I even took a picture. The "Zesty Turkey and Rice" that I made last night from the same site was pretty good too.

Oh, and here's some cute videos just for fun. We have such a polite little boy. He shares, and says thank you... Enjoy!

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Thanksgiving Margaret didn't tell you about...

So this past weekend was Thanksgiving. Margaret has told you all about our guests, the food we ate, and her other musings. However there is one part she left out.

On Wednesday nights there are a couple of shows on Television that Margaret and I like to watch. This past Wednesday was no exception. However, this past Wednesday Margaret was multi-tasking and preparing the Thanksgiving Turkey as well as making a delicious pumpkin pie. Margaret asked me to let her know when the show was back on as she went in the kitchen to do some of these preparations. So I did as I was asked and Margaret came back into the living room to watch the show with me. About five minutes later Margaret yells "Oh Crap" and runs into the kitchen where she has left the water running in the sink (which she has plugged up to thaw out the Turkey)

Needless to say the kitchen was flooded. Margaret cleaned up and I took pictures :) However, Margaret was so embarressed by this she then deleted the pictures off of the camera. Then this conversation followed

John: Margaret, what'd you do
Meg: Shut up
John: Why did you drown the bird, poor bird
Meg: If you don't shut up I'm gonna flip you the bird

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving musings..

We had a lovely day yesterday. What I would call the perfect Thanksgiving. Good food, good people to be with, and I only had to cook 2 things!

We weren't going anywhere this year, and John wanted to have people over so that we weren't celebrating alone. I was a little nervous as the guest list grew, and I didn't know how we were going to fit everyone, but my fears came to naught (and I had a good excuse to get John to help me deep clean before hand...). We had enough room, and everyone had plenty. The total count came to 10. 8 adults and 2 toddlers. The toddlers didn't eat much. They were too busy fencing with their spoons across the table and hamming it up for everyone else. But the rest of us had plenty, with all kinds of leftovers. I made the stuffed turkey, and my Aunt's sweet potato casserole, and someone else made green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and gravy. Another person brought delicious yeast rolls, and the pies and home made ice cream were provided by another couple. I think I will definitely do Thanksgiving this way as long as I can get away with it. None of the stress of cooking all morning, just pop stuff in the oven, and relax with the family.

(Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of this event. I completely forgot about the camera until all were gone.)

After the lovely dinner, I had all kinds of help with the clean up, and then the guys watched the football game, and the wives traded stories in the dining room, with the small children running between the two groups (Except then they would decide to watch the game - much to the consternation of the guys, as they would stand DIRECTLY in front of the television) It was a great, relaxing day, and one that I am very grateful for.

I think I needed just such a day right now. It's been a week of ups and downs, as today was my last day at work. I found out a week ago that I would soon be more affected by the unemployment rise than I ever imagined, as I too have been laid off. It's been hard, but in many ways it's a good thing. It has forced me to be honest with myself about a lot of things I've been avoiding.

The last 6 months have been the dying of a dream for me. All my life, all I ever wanted was to be a wife and mother. I wanted to stay home and raise my children. I wanted the American dream. I didn't need the big house, or lots of cars, just a small yard and the freedom to be home with my kids. Most of the major choices in my life have been directed in some way by this dream. I chose my majors in college, and most of my jobs since then, because I never saw it as a long term thing. This was something to do while I was waiting. I acquired knowledge of course, I want to be an intelligent mother to my children. I want to be able to teach them, especially to love learning. But I rarely made a college or career choice with the intent of doing it for any amount of time. I just took what was available. What worked for now.

Recently though, I've had to come to grips with the realization that my dream isn't possible. Maybe someday I'll have that dream, but not anytime soon. Where we live, and need to live for John's career, is expensive. It's not going to be possible for me to stay home with my small children. Not unless I wait until I'm too old to bear them. It hurts me to think of other people raising my children, no matter how much I may trust them, but I need to have that trust. And I need to find a career instead of a job.

This scares me. It scares me a lot. This is not the easy way out, and I, being human, am a bit lazy in this. I like the easy way. Let me save the hard stuff for things that I don't find that hard, like cleaning, cooking and childcare. But unless I start making decisions about a career, and find a job I love, I will spend half my life being miserable, and resent the time that my job takes me away from my children. I don't want to do that. I've spent the last 6 months that way, and it's showed. My job itself wasn't bad. It wasn't great, but it wasn't bad. I've done if for 2 1/2 years. But it's not what I want to do with my life. Not by any stretch of the imagination. It was a job, a means to a paycheck, nothing more. So it's good that I'm gone. When things pick up again, they can hire someone who loves the job, and wants to grow with the company.

As for me, I'm going to be frantically applying for work (now that I'm home a lot, I can really get frantic), but I'm also going to make sure that this time, as much as possible, it's something that I want to do for a long time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Timothy the Explorer

(This is Margaret. I'm hijacking the blog for a bit, and so you can tell us apart in the future, I'm going to steal a page from some others in my "clan" and use italics.)

So, lately, I've been reminded of the importance of stopping to smell the roses, or more accurately, the leaves. Timothy is walking almost everywhere now, and everything is so new to him. The leaves, the sticks, the rocks, anything he can pick up, and many things he can't. He surprised me the other day by picking up a leaf and announcing "leaf!" then pointing up and saying "tree!" The way his brain is making the connections astounds me. We'd taught him the words, but I don't remember teaching him the relationship...

He is such a joy. It takes a lot longer to get places, but I don't mind. It's worth it to be a part of such an amazing learning experience. And it's helped me to slow down a little bit and be remember to appreciate the world around me. The leaves, the trees, the squirrels... each miracle of this world that God has blessed us with. It truly is wonderful.

Now that he can walk with confidence, the world is his oyster. He loves to go. Anywhere and everywhere. The playground is the best, but anywhere new is also good. He's a clip of some fun we had this weekend.

He's also become quite the little helper. He helps me give the cats their treats, he hands me the groceries to put away, and he won't let us go upstairs without checking the mail. He knows that's his chore, and is adamant that he get to do it. Now if only we can figure out how to keep that attitude... =) Here's a cute shot of him "helping" with dinner the other night. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Miracle of Democracy

Last night all over America, and around the globe, people were glued to their TV sets waiting in anticipation for the various networks to report the election results. Margaret and I had stood in line before work for nearly two and a half hours that morning to cast our ballots. In Virginia 81 percent of registered voters cast a ballot and across America record turnouts were reported.

At 11:00 pm eastern time NBC was the first network to call the election in favor of Obama. A lot was said about what a moment in history that would become. They are right. In a country whose history is not dotted, but rather flooded, with race inequality this truly is a new chapter.

From the Trail of Tears and the pushing the Indians off of their land to the scar on the land that slavery was, to keeping Japanese-Americans in intermittent camps during WWII to the Civil Rights movement, America has always struggled with race relations.

What makes the election of Barrack Obama more spectacular to me is that he is the child of a Mixed Race Couple. An issue which many people struggle with today, and in the fundamentalist church I was raised in was discouraged well into the 1990's. His election truly has given America a chance to redeem some of the ills of the past and to look towards the future.

The most amazing thing about this election to me however is not who was or was not elected. It is the fact that here in America, unlike many nations around the world, we were able to once again see a peaceful transfer of power. The people had voted and the results were in. John McCain gave a speech showing the graceful man that he is. Then there was the victory speech by Barrack Obama, and here in Washington DC that was followed by people celebrating in the streets.

With all of this, and with the hard fought election and the deep emotions had by people who voted for either candidate, there have been no reports of unruly rioting, and will be no attempt at a coup of government. Around the world, it is rare that a change in philosophy and ruling governments goes so peacefully. I believe that even if the election had gone the other way there would have been an understanding by the American people that this was the voice of the majority and that we are government for the people by the people.

It is this, the fact that Americans can put so much feeling and emotion behind their candidate, and understand that in defeat the real miracle is the democracy that always prevails in America, that I am truly grateful for.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Collecting Forks

Growing up everytime I would ask my mom for something she would look at me and say "Honey, money doesn't grow on trees" (This is a fallacy because money is printed on paper which is made from trees, so technically it does) but whether or not money grows on trees or not, I think Margaret and I have a fork tree.

We have accumulated more forks than you can shake a stick at. I mean really, there's only two of us how many forks do you need. Timothy has his own plastic baby forks that I'm not even counting, but we have a dozen regular forks, a dozen differenty sized forks and like a dozen salad forks. Now you think well that's nice for when you have people over at the holidays and such, but what you don't realize is that when we have people over Margaret breaks out the other forks that match the nice China.

Then on top of that we have accumulated like a thousand plastic forks. We never buy plastic forks they just seem to magically appear. It's like everytime you turn on the dishwasher it creates a plastic fork. (If the dishwasher is going to be creating things I should figure out how to use that to my advantage).

However the sudden rush of plastic forks reminded me of something I may have done back in high school. I can't admit to doing it because my mom reads this blog but I may have had something to do with this

That's called forking a lawn. Similar to tp ing a house but more work and more of a pain in the but for people to clean up.

I don't think I'm going to be forking a lawn anytime soon (especially since halloween passed without it happening) but I really would like to know where the heck all the forks are coming from.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Costume Fun

So, last night was the Halloween "Trunk-or-Treat" at church. Where all the kids dress up and parade around to cars in the parking lot, where everyone has decorated their trunks with spiderwebs and black lights, the whole deal. I was surprised by how elaborate people got. But this year was my first experience with the whole thing. This year we had an excuse. =)

First there was the general gathering and adult socializing, while the kids ran around and compared costumes. There were some very good ones, and I amazingly don't think I saw any duplicates, except perhaps in the same general category. Timothy's costume was a big hit. All the little kids kept coming up to pet the chicken, or try to steal it, and the "bigger" kids asked me "How is the chicken carrying him?" (Anyone else need clarification? Look closely for small blue shoes sticking out of the bottom of the orange feet)

John, unfortunately was working late, but we got some great video for him, and of course lots of candy. One of the perks of trick-or-treating with a 15-month old: He's not the one eating the candy. =) Timothy had fun walking around and watching the big kids, and even won ""Most Humorous Costume."

Then we all traipsed outside to "knock" on some trunks. It was dark, and Timothy was a little confused, but one we got back inside, and he saw what was in his bucket, boy was he excited!

By the time we got home, we had a very tired boy. He didn't even wake up when we changed his clothes and put him to bed. But he sure was cute. John's hoping to get off early on Friday, and then he can take him Trick-or-Treating at the mall. We'll see. In the meantime, here's some fun videos for you all!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Oh God, Where Art thou

"Oh God where art thou, and where is the Pavillion that covereth thy hiding place?"

This question was asked by the LDS Prophet Joseph Smith while he was being held in the jail in Liberty Missouri. He had seen the LDS saints suffer through many tortures and would shortly see Govenor Boggs of Missouri release an extermination order; ordering all of the members of the Mormon Church to leave the state or stand to be executed.

There are times in the past when I have felt like asking this same question of the Lord. We are given commandments and we are promised blessings of the Lord for keeping these commandments.
We are told to pray over our food before partaking, so that we may thank God for the food he has given us. That became difficult when I was thanking God for the fourth night in a row for the Ramen that was set before me while I was in college.
We are told to pay tithing and trust the Lord with our monetary security. That becomes difficult now as a father figure when it seems that the choice is between giving to the church and providing food and rainment for your family.

As you might tell this past week has been somewhat stressful. As reported in my blog last weekend Margaret's grandmother died last Sunday morning. Losing her last living grandparent has not been as big of a burden as I thought it would have been on Margaret (She'd made her peace with it a few weeks ago). However, not being able to be in Florida this week to give support to her Mother and Father has caused her to be stressed and to worry about their health and well being as they have to deal with all the details that come with planning a funeral and try to find some time to grieve in between.

Then, there's the saying that death never takes only one. That very same Sunday my mother called to inform me that Dan Stowel had been severely sick and had gone to the hospital where they found an aggressive cancer in his pancreas. He passed away this morning, less than a week after the cancer was discovered.

Dan Stowel, and I don't think he ever knew this, was someone that I looked up to as a role model. After my dad left home and my mom began taking us to a church with a larger youth group Dan Stowel and Russ Simpson were the two men who saw not the angry 15 year old teenager that most people saw, but rather a young man, hurt and confused, who needed a righteous male role model in his life. While Dan didn't have any children our age, he would often invite my brother and I, with a few other friends over to his house to swim in his pool, hang out and watch movies, play video games and talk about life and it's issues. Dan was not a perfect man and he did not pretend to be, which made me admire him even more. I remember a time when Dan and his wife were having a hard time and he left home for a few weeks. He never did tell me what the problems were, but what he said to me has left a lasting impression. I asked him because I could not understand what would cause someone I held in such high regard to do such a thing, and he said that he was sorry it had gotten to that point, and it never should have, but there comes a time when you have to stop fighting before you can start fixing. I saw in Dan a man that knew he didn't have to be perfect. He simply knew he had to be Dan and do his best. God didn't want perfect. He wanted Dan, and He used Dan and his love for music to help further his ministry.

While thinking of these things tonight and worrying about money and the job market and whether or not I would be offered a job I had applied for, and putting Timothy to bed, and thinking of how much money that Timothy has cost us in the last two years, I let my mind wander to what life would be like if we had waited a little longer to have Timothy. It was at this point that I took him into the bathroom to brush his teeth, he pointed in the mirror with a big smile and said "Teeth" as excited as he could be about the taste of the Shaklee Spearmint Toothpaste.

I realized then what joy he brings into my life each and every day. Just this morning as I was watching pieces of the presidential debate while eating my cereal, Timothy opened up the entertainment center and pulled all of the CDs out of the rack. When I realized he was being awfully quiet, and that usually means he's doing something he's not supposed to be doing, I walked around the corner into the living room. Timothy saw me coming and stopped with the look of "Oh crap, I'm caught" then after a pause, where you could almost see the wheels turning in his head, he smiled real coy like and began to put the CD's back on the rack, almost like to say, "look dad I'm helping".

It is times like these and other countless moments of joy with those we love that help us to remember that money sometimes is nothing more than a piece of paper in your wallet (or not in your wallet as the case may be) and that while sometimes unexpected and tragic, death is always a part of life, not the end thereof. We can spend our time on earth worried about temporal needs (and sometimes should in order to make sure that we are able to provide for those we have stewardship over) but it is those things that surpass the temporal into the eternal that we have reason to joy over.

In the revelation recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants Sec 121 Christ responds to Joseph Smith's prayer saying

"My son, peace be unto thy soul, thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high...
...Thou are not yet as Job..."

My hope and my prayer is that I may always remember that my afflictions shall be but a small moment, and that I may be the example to my son that Dan Stowel was to me.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

From Dust thou art...

I've always had a hard time with this biblical verse. I believe that this life we live on earth is neither the beginning nor the end of our Spirit. However this week Margaret and I have had some experiences that has shed a little light on this concept for us.

This morning we were woken up by a phone call at 1:30 am informing us that Margaret's grandma, who had been sick for quite a while, had just passed away. Margaret's comment to me later that morning after talking to her parents was that it is amazing how similar the behavior patterns can be for someone on their death bed and a newborn baby.

She talked about the lack of sleep those around these people got, the inability to do basic everyday tasks, such as going to the bathroom and feeding themselves, and the sense of frustration they both get from wanting to do these things on their own.

This got me to thinking a little about the cycle of life and the joy it can bring us. This past week Timothy has been doing things that would remind some people (mom) of myself as a youngster. There's the stuffed dog, snowball, that I got for my 2nd birthday that I had kept as a nostalgic thing that Timothy promptly walked in and grabbed off of the dresser after petting a dog at the book fair last week. Since then he has been almost inseparable from this dog.

Then there is a new fascination for the belly button along with a growing "root beer belly" as my mom would say. There is a story that when I was a chunky little one (you don't have a choice but to be chunky when you weigh 12 lbs at birth) that I would walk around the house, pull up my t-shirt and gleefuly announce "Look at my root beer belly". Well this week we had the pleasure of witnessing this

All of this thinking has made me realize that while the body is of the dust and will most assuredly return thereto, the spirit of man is eternal. However in this life the most important thing is not the time we have while on this earth, but rather the time we spend with those we love. While we most assuredly most do all we can to ensure our state in the hereafter, sometime we need to let that rest and simply take care of the now and the people we love now.