Sunday, November 16, 2014

Married 18 Years

I write about this every year. It's our anniversary today.
 When we married, I was barely 20 and Dustin 22. We were babies. If my son came and asked about getting married at 22, I would freak out! And, I tell my daughters all the time that they cannot get married until they are 24! So hypocritical, I know. But looking back always brings me peace and I realize how happy I am that we got married. No regrets. So I'll relax a little if my kids come to me as babies, announcing they are getting married.

We all got up early this morning to get ready for our 9:00 church. About a half hour into our routine, I noticed none of my family could be found! I called out. I could hear them in the basement. Dustin rushed up and asked me to take the baby into the bedroom and dress him. I knew they were up to something, so I went. Not before I asked what they were doing, though. He glared at me. He hates it when I'm so nosy. A few minutes later, they called me in. I came into the front room and found this:



Dustin laughed a little and then he frowned. "They were supposed to be floating in the air!"

On my floor were 18 red, deflated balloons. The helium had leaked out over night.  Attached to each balloon was a picture and a piece of paper. The pictures were mostly of him and me, but there was 1 of each of our kids. On the balloons the kids had written a word to describe me. On the paper, was something Dustin said about me. It was super sweet. It completely made my morning.

When you're the mom, you don't hear those kinds of things on a daily basis- actually I don't tell them enough either- so it really was joyous occasion for me. The words on the balloons read:

kind (2 times), amazing, artistic, sharing, loving (2 times), funny, beautiful, helpful, motherly, sporty, cheerful, caring, great cook, awesome, fun, and pretty. A few made me chuckle because you know they were running out of things to describe me. Artistic, great cook would be couple...

I really enjoyed reading Dustin's thoughts. 18 thoughts all about me!

1. You are the most unselfish, caring and kind person to each member of our family.
2. I think you make the best chocolate M&M cookies.
3.I am grateful for how much you put up with me!
4.I appreciate your efforts in the cleanliness of our home.
5. You are impossible not to like!
6. I am impressed by your quick creative abilities!
7. When you enter a room, you light it up with your warmth.
8.I am amazed that you know lyrics to some pretty obscure songs!
9.I love how your nose still wiggles like a bunny when you say certain words.
10.I admire that when it comes to principles, you don't back down.
11. You care for your teeth in such a meticulous manner!
12.Even though I don't admit it, I love it when you look at me.
13.I love the way you laugh!
14.I admire your quick ability to forgive.
15. I admire your strength and testimony of the gospel.
16.I like the funny sounds you make when you sleep!
17.After we argue, I adore how you try to ignore my humorous attempts at apologizing.
18. I love to imagine our future, sitting on the front porch together when we are old.

A few of those comments were said in jest. He hates that I take so long to brush my teeth. When we are rushing out the door, I'm always saying, "Hold on! I'm flossing!" Isn't it funny that what annoys us about the ones we love, we can often turn it into something we remember them for?! I think that is what marriage is all about. You put two very imperfect people together and their job is to figure out how to live with out killing each other, raising a family in the process. I am amazed we are doing it!! However, after 18 years, I'm happy to say we almost have it figured out- the living without killing each other. We have created a relationship where we compliment each other. This whole balloon fiasco is a good example. Dustin likes things to be perfect and work out the way he planned. I'm not like that. I don't need floating balloons to see the thought, effort, and love that went into it. It made me smile and made it memorable to me. Perfect is overrated!

I am so blessed to call this man mine! I have grown so much from being married to him. I am grateful that he works right along with me to raise a family. And I can't wait to sit on our porch in our rocking chairs, grateful for the journey made together!






Sunday, November 9, 2014

Forty is so Close I can Almost Lick It

I just celebrated my 38th birthday. 38!! This birthday left me feeling really old. I was told a bazillion times how old I really am not, but it' didn't help in my feeling that I'm old. For crying out loud, I have 6 kids, been married for (almost) 18 years, and next year my oldest child will graduate from high school. The real kicker was when I really thought about how fast the last ten years went and that the next 10 will probably come quicker, I realized my 5th child will be 19 1/2. Guys, I'm no spring chicken!! But, I've decided that that's okay.

I think about the last ten years. When I turned 28, my fourth child was 6 months old. Little did I know that in a month, I would be pregnant with my 5th child. I was in the whirlwind of mothering 4 little ones ranging in age from 6 to infant. I was tired. I was overwhelmed. I felt defeated a lot of the time. Looking back, however, I realize that I was enjoying myself. I can hear my kids' voices in my head and a smile comes to my face. I remember teaching them colors, to count, to read, and we sang, "The Wheels on the Bus" at least 12 times a day because Daddy rode the bus. It was hard work. But, who says hard work is bad? Those moments brought me joy then; their memories bring me joy now. I'm grateful for that joy.




(Pretty sure this is the only picture I have of me at 28. I would be prego by the end of the month)

So much growth happens as you get older. I am thankful for that. As much as I would love for one more day to be 28, I'm happy to be 38. I'm pleased that the in the last ten years, my then 6 year old is now 16 and he is growing into a fine young man. He wore a suit coat for the first time today and I wanted to cry, but I didn't. He has set a goal to serve a mission and is spending a lot of time with our local missionaries between school and work. I don't make him. He chooses to do it! Our then 5 year-old is now 15 and is a hard worker that never sits. He is always willing to do anything. I started to do the dishes and he simply said, "Mom, go sit down. I'll do the dishes." I didn't let him because he does that all the time. Instead I just asked if he would entertain the baby until I was done. He did. Our three year old in this picture is now a 13 year old young lady! I'll admit it, she is in the middle of what I want to call,  "13 year-old attitude". So far, they have all gone through it. I know it will get better. She, however, is a straight A student who works really hard at everything she does. She's a perfectionist and I admire that about her. She recently chose to receive her Patriarchal Blessing and has studied it a lot and is trying do understand what she needs to to do to become the woman it  describes. I have no doubt that she can do it! That tiny, cute, always happy baby on my lap is now 10. She is a beautiful talented young lady who is currently playing soccer and the trumpet. She is on the student council. She is working really hard in deciding what she likes and what she doesn't. If she doesn't like it, she lets you know. She reminds me of myself, not only in looks, but everything else!

Since this photo, we have added two children to the bunch. I have a 9 year old who is energetic, smart, and sassy. She loves soccer. She loves writing and singing. She loves life and people. Discovering that she would join the family and would be born while I was still 28 was shocking. I really didn't know how I would be the mom I wanted to be. But she makes being a mom so easy. She has brought nothing but laughter to any mom situation. Mom's can always use laughter. Baby six wouldn't join us for 7 more years after her, but we sure are glad he came. I was terrified! In fact, I'm still recovering from him. However, he is nothing but pure joy, even right in the middle of being a toddler. The mom in that picture didn't get to enjoy the toddler stage. I actually loathed it back then. Now, I relish every minute of it because I understand how fleeting it is. In 10 years, he will be 12 and she will be 19.

Since I know those 10 years will be here before I know it, I'm just going to enjoy being 38. I'm going to love the stages of teen, pre-teen, and toddler. When I start to complain, I'll stop myself. I'll remind myself that soon I'll be 48 and will look back on what I did with the last ten years. I want to be able to look back with joy, knowing I did all I could to make life worth while for them. That's a hard job, but I know it will be a gratifying job if I do it right. 




First picture of  38. I'll remind myself to be in more pictures

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Accepting I'm No Superstar






Sometimes admitting weakness is really hard. Especially when your life is great and you don't want to feel like you're complaining. I hope this doesn't come across as complaining. I love my life. I have a great husband and I have wonderful kids. We have been blessed beyond measure. I am a lucky lady! But, even the luckiest of us have troubles.

For the past year in a half I have felt trapped in someone else's life. All of a sudden the happy I felt seemed overtaken by sadness, worry, and anxiety. The happy was still there, but for some reason I have had to make the effort to uncover it. It. Has. Been. Hard. And, I think the hardest part was not being able to give it a name. By name, I mean a reason. Why was I feeling this way?

Lately, I have been able to feel the fog in my brain starting to lift. Mostly because I have the energy to lift it now. Before, it just seemed too much. The thought of figuring out the "why" was so overwhelming, I just wanted to go to sleep- well, I just wanted to sleep all the time, period. The thought of doing ANYTHING was overwhelming. The name I have given my situation is depression. I'm pretty certain what I have been feeling is a type of depression. And I think it all started with having a baby.

I have always had a little depression with my kids, but I have always been able to overcome it pretty quickly. I was back to my "normal" self in a few months. So why was this baby different?

After I had Britten, we sold our house of 13 years. We moved into a new house. I was now surrounded by people I didn't know and they didn't know me. I think all the change at once was too much for me. I couldn't handle it. I was clearly not the superwoman I thought I was. This has been hard to admit. Not because I think I'm so great, I know I'm not. But, because it would mean I needed help. I like knowing I can do things for my self.
 I have come to realize I am not getting out of this blackness by myself. I'm beginning to realize that's okay. It was lonely when I was fighting alone. In fact it got me nowhere. I was completely unsuccessful. Once I opened my mouth and heart, and was honest, I had the help I needed to start seeing through the sadness, worry, and fear. It has been awakening!

What a blessing it has been to realize I don't have to do anything alone; I'm no superhero. What a lesson! We are on this earth to help each other. Asking for help doesn't equal weakness. Asking for help means you recognize the strength that can be found when you let someone walk your journey with you.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Birthday Interviews for Kate, Aaron, Becca, & Grace

We'll just say I'm a tad behind...lol. Okay, A LOT! Kate's birthday was in May! But, better late than never!
















I can't believe this girl is 10!! Almost 10 1/2! She is such a great girl. She is my most affectionate child. She loves to be hugged, kissed, or tickled. She is a big help with the baby and is our go to girl to bathe him. She is smart and is a great speller! She has gotten 100% on all of her pre-tests in Spelling and has yet to take a test! She loves to be active and wants to be doing something. Her normal wake time is 6:30 am. Yes, she is our early riser! One of her best qualities is that she is friendly. She loves to be with friends! We love you Katie Bug!

Kate's Interview

Favorites
color: red
food: pizza
 subject in school: math
candy bar: Kit Kat
book: Among the Hidden
tv show: Survivor
movie: Harry Potter series
fruit: banana
vegetable: broccoli
chore: sweep
 I asked her three questions. 
1) What would you do with a million dollars? He answer was, "I would make the first Lego phone." This girl LOVES Lego's!!
2) If you could do something nice, what would you do and who would it be for? She answered, "I would clean the house for you!"
3) What do you want to be when you grow up? She wants to be a cowgirl or a cop.




 






Aaron is absolutely our biggest helper. He always wants to be doing something. And he loves doing it with his dad! He's Dustin's little- well big, he's about 5'8 now- sidekick. He's a smarty pants too. He's pretty much had straight As all of his school years. I made him take some honor classes this year- and he is doing great ( he should have been all along, but I get tired of fighting about it). Aaron is someone who sticks to his guns. A great quality, but sometimes...it's hard to convince him once his mind is set on something. I love watching my teenagers grow no matter how much we might fight about things at times. Aaron is responsible and will always do what he says he will. He will do random acts of kindness and I love that about him! You don't have to usually ask him to do something. He sees the need and just does it!! He's 15 and I can't believe it!!

Aaron's Birthday Interview
Favorites

color: blue
food: steak
subject in school: gym
candy bar: Take 5
book: none (he doesn't like reading)
tv show: Psych
movie: Guardians of the Galaxy
fruit: apple pears- they're a real fruit!
vegetable: green beans
chore: none

What would you do with a million dollars?
His answer, "Go on an exotic hunt." Not sure what he'd do with the rest.
2) If you could do something nice for someone, what would you do and who would you do it for?
 Answer: "I would play with Britten."
3) What is your future job? He wants to be a Fish & Game Warden.







Holy cow, this girl!! Becca is 9!! And she is too much all of the time!! But, we lover her. The other night the missionaries were over for dinner. She had them laughing. One elder finally asked, "Where do you get your big personality from?!" Her answer was, "My dad." It's true. She is the female version of Dustin. She is wild, she is crazy, she is fun! I would describe Rebecca as light. You never see her sad. She loves people. She loves the spotlight. This has helped her in all of her talents. She excels in school, loves to sing, and we recently discovered she's a pretty darn good soccer player! The sport is perfect for her! She is so energetic and it comes out on the field. We love you Becca!! Life would certainly be dull without you!

Becca's Interview

Favorites
color: teal
food: : "yellow rice"- it's a cheesy rice
subject in school: handwriting- she's learning cursive this year
candy bar: twix
book: the Dork Diaries series
tv show: Livi and Maddy
movie: Frozen
fruit: pineapple
vegetable: broccoli
chore: sweep

1) What would you do with a million dollars?  She would buy anything she wanted!
2) If you could do anything nice, what would you and who would you do it for?
Answer: "I would buy flowers for Mrs. Chapman because she's always so nice to me!" Mrs. Chapman was her 2nd grade teacher and is amazing. She deserves flowers!
3) What do you want to be when you grow up? She would be a veterinarian, or a cop.







I'm not sure what it is, but when my kids turn 13, my heart breaks a little. I love that they are growing up, I do. But, it just seems it's all flying by! Grace is 13!! I have three teenagers!! But, they are great teenagers. They have their own minds and need convincing, but most of the time they are totally obedient and respectful. Grace is my most responsible child. She seldom forgets a thing. She is sweet, loving, and kind. We have had a few moments with her response to people when she feels she is being picked on, but she is working on it and doing great! She really does want to be the best her possible. And I love that about her! She works hard in school and her grades show it! She is mad when she gets a B. Her goal is to attend BYU-I, so I told her she would need to work hard. She is Britten's second mom- great and annoying all at the same time, but I'll take the bad with the good any day! She loves babysitting and is really good at it. She used to be my "shy" kid, but has totally turned that around!! It's been great to witness! We love you, Grace!

Grace's Interview

Favorites
color: turquoise
food: hot wings
subject in school: math
candy bar: Symphony (no nuts)
book: The Falling Stars series
tv show: Spongebob ???
movie: Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
fruit: strawberry
vegetable: carrot
chore: clean the family room

1) What would you do with a million dollars? She would save it. Yes, yes she would!! That girl is a saver!
2) If you could do something nice for someone, what would you do and who for? 
Answer: "I would feed the homeless." LOVE!
What do you want your future job to be? She still would like to move to Paris and open a doughnut shop.

I love my kids!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Thoughts on a Late Summer's Evening- Mostly about being better

Warning: These are the ramblings of my mind when my husband is gone and my children are in bed. I have no idea where this post may go. Or, if it will have any point.

I initially got on to post about my Grandma Taylor. I've been meaning to for quite sometime. I started a post about a couple weeks ago and I was going to finish it. But, I lost my notebook that had all my notes about her. Well, I'm pretty sure it's misplaced. It's misplaced because I shoved it somewhere so I could say my room was clean. My husband and I still fight about things like that. I leave things out. He puts them away. He doesn't like when I leave things out. We usually end up fighting about it. Not really "fighting,"  but we get completely annoyed with each other because it is a part of our lives where we are so different. And neither one of us has any intention of changing about it. So, I stuff things away so they are out of sight, and I end up losing them. Yeah. Maybe I should work on that a bit.

I can't believe another summer has come and gone. They seem to go by faster and faster. My mom says it is a sign of the times. I remember reading something about it. I'm sure she's right. My mom is pretty smart about things like that. It makes me really sad though. My kids are getting way too big! Ryan started his junior year, Aaron is now a freshman, Grace started Jr high, Kate is 5th grade, and Rebecca is in 3rd!
(That is a ton of kids!)

We did some pretty fun things this summer. We went to Family Education week, Lagoon, we hiked Mount Timpanogas. I don't have many pictures because I have become a really lame mom. I don't mean to be, but it is happening. 
Anyway, our big family vacation this summer was trip up to BYU-Idaho. We attended their Family Education Week.  We went with our neighbors the Andersons. We had a real enjoyable time. I would recommend it to anyone! The kids loved it and we are planning on going next year as well. 
One of my favorite classes was about celebrating our victories. The man teaching the class was a recovering pornography addict. He was a young guy, but very insightful. He talked of how we, as a Mormon culture, remain silent about our struggles/weaknesses. It's taboo to talk about- I would completely agree with him on this. We like to talk about all that is pretty and perfect and because of this, a lot of things go left un-talked about. He gave the example of his own struggle with pornography. Once he opened up about it, he couldn't believe how many people were like, "Oh, I completely understand. I was there once." Even his own father made a similar comment. He was thinking he could never approach his father about his situation. But in reality, his father told him he wished he had known sooner. He gave everyone a fun, little pin to put on their shirt, or purse, or scripture case. It read, "Victory." It was to show others that you have overcome something hard. That you know what it's like to be in the trenches of life. That if they needed someone to understand, you did. After we got our pins, we signed his banner. His banner was full of names of those who have struggled. It was nice to feel part of a group where all have felt heartbreak in some way. Because that's really what we are. We are a group of people who are on this earth all experiencing different heartbreaks, different challenges, but in the end we were put on this earth to help lift and encourage one another. I left that class so motivated to be better and to be willing to share the not-so-pretty parts of my life. 

Mount Timpanogas was fun!  We went with the Andersons as well. They are a fun family and our kids are the some ages. I really enjoyed the hike. It was about 1.5 miles. it was pretty steep in some parts, but still doable. The caves were awesome! I couldn't believe the difference in temperature. Out side was high 70s and inside was mid 40s. After our hike, we ate lunch up the canyon. It was nice to be in the outdoors!

It was nice to spend time as a family! I was nice to have the kids' attention. We have gotten way too wrapped up in screen time. I mentioned to Dustin about doing a screen fast. he kind of chuckled. I could go without for quite a while, but the rest of the Merritt bunch...they're all pretty attached to electronics. We will be working on it.

So much to be working on!! But, I'd rather be moving forward and being better than sitting still, or even worse, going backward! I hope to be a little more real this coming year. Not necessarily on the blog, or social media in general, but just in life. I think we could use more of it. Struggles make us better. We should be willing to embrace those who are in need, letting them know we understand. We need to let them know we have been where they are, or if we haven't, we are willing to go with them.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Power in the Temple



I went to the temple this afternoon. It has been a while. Since moving out of the Salt Lake Valley, we no longer have a 10 min drive to the temple. I can't believe how adding 20 minutes to that drive has changed everything!! I know people who have to drive hours and I'm worried about 20 minutes!! It's kind of crazy!

I chose to do initiatory work. I walked into the dressing room and entered the Initiatory room and was shocked! They have redone the whole thing! It was beautiful! The waiting room was very calming and comfortable. Much different than the previous one. I sat across from a large picture of Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem. I had never seen that picture before and wondered why they had chosen that picture to put in the waiting room. Were we to think of Mary? Did this event somehow tie into the initiatory? I plan on studying it in detail and see what I can learn.

I only did the work for four names. One was crossed out. I found that interesting as well. I've never experienced that before. There were two names that stuck out to me. The first was, Aleida Peters and the second, Paula Petronella Peters. I'm thinking they were mother and daughter. They came from the same town in the Netherlands. There was a difference of 19 years. These names caught my eye because they were so different. I love different names and when I'm at the temple, I love thinking about the people I am doing the work for. It gave me happy thoughts to know this mother and daughter were receiving their blessing on the same day!

When the temple worker was talking to me, I found myself listening so intently. I was thinking about every word coming out of her mouth. I'm not sure if it was because of the Ordain Women stuff in the news recently, or what. I just really listened and really liked what I heard! As I listened I realized something that I often forget: my Heavenly Father gives me power! He never intended me to be a weak, sitting on the sidelines kind of gal (which I've always known and have always been taught). That whole ordinance is talking about the power that is in my divine nature. Each body part of mine is blessed and given power! It was wonderful to listen to. It made me want to attend everyday, just to hear all those promises again. Those promises are for me! His power is for me! I am a daughter of God, who loves me...



Friday, May 30, 2014

Sixth Grade Graduation

I've come to realize that while I'm helping my kids through their life, there are going to be events that cause me to remember things of my childhood. Today was one those days. 

I was at Grace's  6th grade graduation. The principal made a speech. Something I really liked from her speech was this advice, "Show me your friends and I'll show you your future."  I couldn't agree more with her, though I realize there are always those exceptions. Friends are important. As a mom, I will never downplay that. I just hope my kids keep being/making good friends.

During the day's events, I started thinking about my 6th grade graduation. I graduated form Hazel Grove Elementary in Lee's Summit, MO. I had only lived there for about 5 years, but the friends I made there are still fresh in my mind. I had good friends. And though a lot of them probably barley remember me, they will always hold a special place in my heart. I know that sounds cliche, but it's true. I believe nothing can replace childhood friends.  The memories you make with them are irreplaceable! And for me, the lessons I learned from them changed me. A lot happened for me between the ages of 8 and 13.

I started thinking of Grace and how much she has grown and matured this year. She dealt with some drama this year. Drama that made her grow. Her growth was good. I remember the stuff I went through in 6th grade. It changed me for the better as well. In 6th grade I learned the importance of being kind, not swearing, and being true to who I am. I'm starting to think 6th grade is HUGE!!

I am grateful she had an amazing teacher to help her through the events this year. She loves Mrs. Nielsen! I appreciate the fact that Mrs. Nielsen saw goodness in Grace and reminded her daily how great she was. As we were telling her goodbye today, her last words to Grace were, "You're amazing." I love that another adult can see that in my Grace and would be so willing to tell her. I kept in touch with my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Dunn, for years! I hope Grace chooses to do the same.

We were leaving the gym and a friend stopped her and congratulated her- she graduated with "honors". I know it's only 6th grade, but she still worked hard! This lady (Angie Alvey) also said to her, "You're half way there!" GULP! 6 more years and this girl will be graduated form high school! Terror ran through me, but only for a minute. I reminded myself we were talking about Grace. Grace has a plan.

When she graduates, she will graduate with straight As so she can attend BYU-Idaho ( I asked her why not BYU. She didn't know. She just wants to go to Idaho.) She will get a degree in whatever she needs to be able to go to Paris and open a doughnut shop. Her best friend, Anneli, will have a beauty salon right next door. This has been her plan for a few years. It's a good plan for a 12 year old. I like the straight As part. And the doughnut part too. We like doughnuts in our house. I remember my 6th grade plan. I was going to come back to the mid-west and go to Kansas University and be roommates with my friend, Dana  Jackson. I never made it back and I never made it to college, but it was a good plan.

Sometimes our 6th grade plans don't work out. I hope Grace's does. I think she would fit perfectly in Paris. I hope she gets to accomplish all she wants to. But if not, I hope she will always remember how amazing her life is anyway. The number one thing life has taught me is that good things come from surprises. We just have to be willing to find them!!



getting certificate



 Grace and Martha (one of her good friends who chose not to believe all the "stuff")


Grace and Mrs. Nielsen

I just wanted to remember a few cute things from this memory:

*Grace held a poll on Instagram helping her to decide what to wear
* We went to lunch afterwards to Apple Bee's. She had burgers, I had steak. We shared.
*Her crush (Brandon, also her teacher's son) gave her a high five goodbye. She was excited!

I can't believe she'll be in jr high!!!  Knock 'em dead, Grace!!