Saturday, March 28, 2015

Creative Messes make me Happy

I am a project junkie, everybody knows that.
I am happiest when I have at least a couple of different, messy projects in the works. 
Lately, I've been having way too much fun reclaiming my craft room. 

I miss Zane like crazy, but moving Parker into his old room and having the sewing/craft room again has been really great. 
I can spread out my creative mess, binge watch crummy shows that my family hates or crank 90's easy listening music or listen to the scriptures without anyone getting annoyed.
My brain works best this way, in the center of some sort of nest of creative chaos.

Poor Kyle and Rebekah and going to be sick of handmade crap from Auntie Crazy, but there are just so many cute baby things out there-  I can't resist. 



The onesie turned out so cute, and yet, it's not anywhere near as cute as Baby Brady and his happy parents.

I also monogrammed a set of bath towels.
They will be part of a wedding gift for Parker's step-sister, Vanessa, who is getting married in May. 

For me, the towel shows me how much I have progressed in learning my machine. Something like this would have taken me hours before and the back would have been messed up enough to need a patch. I was able to do these quickly and they look nice on both sides and will survive the washing machine. Many of my first towels most likely fell apart in the wash. 
I made a dog toy for the new dog my friend and her family got. The dog's name is Amelia Pond and I looked all over for Doctor Who dog toys and didn't find anything, so I invented one. 

If their dog is anything like Badger, it will be chewed to bits in a couple of days, but that's okay. 
I know her kids will get a kick out of it. 

I need to get it mailed, along with the gifts I made her kids. 
They each have a book bag and I put a new book inside each bag, as a fun treat. 
I need to get them mailed, I hope they like them. They have names that are not common, and I'm hoping they get a special kick out of something personalized, just for them. 

I also realized that last year, when we went to Washington DC for Easter, I probably made my last Easter Basket for Zane. 
Because we had been traveling all day and the kids are old, I'd purchased candy and we planned to just give the kids the candy. Romy and Zane insisted that we needed to do an egg hunt, so I filled up the plastic eggs we had n storage and just tossed them on the back lawn. 
They may have even used grocery sacks to collect them.
Super classy. 
If I had thought about it being Zane's last year as a kid living at home at Easter, I might have put more effort into making it special, but as I said, we had been traveling all day, so probably not.
Thinking about that made me kind of sad though, so this year I'm going to pretend my kids are still little and I'm going all out. 
Kate and Jane will be here- I think it is the first time we have had them home for Easter and I picked up these baskets and embroidered names on them.

The machine started eating Grey's, so it's not lined up very well, but I also know that none of the kids will care, I did this project for me. 

I don't know what the next year will bring.
I know Kate is leaving for college in the fall and I doubt we will have Jane home for Easter again, because it doesn't usually work with her school's Spring Break schedule. 
 Maybe Parker will have had his fill of curfews and Mommy hugs this year.
I want this Easter to be special and my kids actually seem to enjoy it when some of the cheesy things from when they were little make it into the special days.

For my kids who will not be here for Easter, care packages are coming.
I did these for Emma:

I also have a package going out to Zane and his companion.
It is packed full of treats and there is an Easter egg hunt included. 
Matt and I looked up different scriptures about missionary work and service and they can't open the egg and get what is inside until they find the scripture.

 (FYI, the Twizzlers grass is delicious.) 

I'm pushing myself to try more advanced techniques with my machine and feeling more confident about the things I do on it. 
It's helping me to push through the times when I am so very aware that Zane isn't home, and he won't be back anytime soon.

I have decided to set up a website to share the pictures and emails that he has written for 'everyone,' I just don't have everything posted on it yet. His Arizona Family and his New Jersey Family are all going to contribute to it, and I ask that if Zane actually sends pictures to anyone that reads this, that they share those pictures with me, so I can post them.
 Emails and letters are for the people he writes them to, but I suspect pictures will be a bit of a rare thing from Zane. 
You may have to register, but the address to the site is: 

If people want to add to it, please do. 
Because Zane--errr-- Elder Smith is part of two large blended families, he has a lot of people who love him and he cannot write to everyone. It isn't personal, he only has an hour each week to use the computer and write and in that time he has to write to his parents and his mission president. He also has that pretty brown haired girl that he wants to stay in touch with. 
After thinking about it and talking with his Dad, I think this is the right way to go. I'm very protective of the privacy of our family, but this will help Elder Smith to not feel so pressured to write individual emails and letters to those who are sending him words of support. I know he appreciates it, but between the two families, he has 12 siblings and four parents and that's just the first tier of family he has close relationships with.  
 Please be understanding of that if you are a person who is getting frustrated because you haven't heard from him.
 He is doing what he is supposed to be doing.

He also has a sprained wrist on one hand and a broken wrist on the other. 

I'll be posting weekly updates or emails, as will his Dad. 

I believe the email where he explained his bike accident is posted, so hop on over and read the exciting tale of how Elder Smith met a wall in Seattle and now he needs new pants. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Elevator Also Goes Up

Last week was the worst week.
A friend from the ward said "Well, you've got nowhere to go but up!" (Thanks, Hillary.)
For some reason, that little phrase poked me in the heart and stuck.  

She was right.
I'd crashed so hard into the ground emotionally, I really had nowhere to go but up, and I was determined to appreciate the ride.

The very next day, we got a call from Zane's mission president, he'd been in a bad bike accident.
He was okay, but they were taking him to urgent care because he'd hit his head.
Normally, I'd have gone out of my mind with worry, but I was just too worn out emotionally. I took the news, said a prayer and did what I have promised to do- I trusted that the Lord was taking care of my boy.
The next day, I got some pictures from the RS president of the area in Washington that Zane is at. She had taken him and his companion out to a big breakfast and I got my very first pictures of Zane from his mission- sporting stitched in his eyebrow, a sprain on one wrist and the other wrist was broken......... 
...but I could see his face and he was happy. 

He was happy and you know what? 
 I had nowhere to go but up. 
I was thankful to see his smile, it was more important than a wrist and a new scar on his head. It was certainly more important than a crappy doctor and a broken bike. 

When I finally heard from him, he told me he was riding down a hill at about 25MPH and he jumped a curb, but the back tire hit it weird and he crashed into a wall. He busted his helmet and the brand new bike is toast, but he felt blessed because when he crashed, there were three people who saw the crash and got out to help him. One person was from his ward, so they were able to get a ride back to the apartment with that person The second person had a vehicle that was able to bring the bikes back and the third person who saw the crash was an EMT.
In Zane's opinion, that was amazing, to have three people there and each of them were able to meet an important need he had when he crashed- apparently, he had nowhere to go but up, too. 
He's doing good and today marked one full month that he has been a missionary.
If the next 23 are as emotionally taxing as this one, I'm going to go out of my mind,but, for now... I am looking upward because that's where I want to be headed. 

If there was any doubt that things would get better.......

Brady Kyle Fox was born on a lucky St. Patrick's Day to his wonderful parents, Kyle & Rebekah and oh, we're feeling blessed. 

Also, every picture I had on this blog before today went kaput when I had to free up space with my gmail account.
 I'm not going to fix it. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015


When I was younger, my brother broke his leg.
We each remember the event slightly differently, but he broke it on the trampoline and it was broken in multiple places. He had a huge cast for awhile, then moved to a smaller cast and as soon as he could, he was back to jumping on the trampoline.
Hey, when you were a child in the 80's and your family did not have cable TV, there wasn't a lot to do- desperate times call for desperate measures. 
I remember that he was stuck on the couch and couldn't do anything until some of those broken bones healed- he had a compound fracture.
I feel like today, I got one of those.
I had this extremely crappy experience at the doctor's office- like - off the charts crappy and I need to file a complaint crappy. I had anticipated just a regular visit, the same as they have been for about 2 years and instead, I had to deal with my doctor's associate who needed to pee all over me and claim me as one of her own- and her own do NOT treat chronic, degenerative osteoarthritis the same way my doctor does. She changed every medication and proceeded to interrogate and accuse me of a dozen things she just imagined in her head. She couldn't even see my medical records, she just changed everything based on looking at me and her own, personal prejudices. I felt attacked, humiliated and it made me panic as she put me on the spot and twisted everything I said. When we're in panic mode, our brains stop working right and I just kind of shut down and let her do what she was hell-bent on doing, then got in my car and started to cry. 
By the time I was home, I was hysterical.
The meds change crap will be fixed, I'm sure. She was a jerk and she was wrong. She isn't my doctor and I don't ever have to see her again. We'll call my regular doctor and get things fixed. Matt will call the office and be the "red' I adore. 
It will be fixed. 
 It's not that.
 It's that she was so confrontational and I wasn't expecting it, and it didn't just make me uncomfortable, it scared me. I had a nice panic attack, worrying that I was going to start all over again trying to find relief from my stupid arthritis and remembering how hard it was before my doctor and I found what would work. This idea of being in pain all of the time while I had to defend myself to a doctor was overwhelmingly scary.
I called my husband and my sister and cried o the shoulder of my son, Parker, and then proceeded to absolutely break into a million pieces. 

It felt like a compound fracture in my heart.

I started to heave and slobbery sob, and I heard myself say "Just come home, Zane!" out loud to no one. 
 I've been working really hard at putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward and just hoping and praying that because this is the RIGHT thing, it won't be so hard, but this is very, very hard. Today, when that horrible woman was such a raging jerk to me and just made my life harder for no other reason than it was a Thursday and she didn't like the way I looked or something- that little break she imposed on my soul added to what I was already struggling to manage enough that I fell apart over everything.
I told Matt I just want to go back to Utah, back when it was all easy and we could just be Mom and Dad with our little kids and the bar was set at such a place that all we had to really do was manage to not break up.
  Not breaking up was considered a huge win for our new life together in Utah with seven wild and needy kids. 
We had a rickety porch that we needed to make sure no kids died on, a bad dog that we needed to make sure didn't die from eating too much of his own poop and Karin would talk to our children through the fence and the Andrus kids would play in their absolutely perfectly manicured back yard, next to our wild weed patch. I know it was all hard, but today- I wanted to go back, back to 'little' back to just being Mom and Dad and gong out for milkshakes and playing Wii fit and having cold cereal picnics. I wanted to go back to knowing all seven of my babies would be giggling, arguing and eventually sleeping under my roof and the next morning, the best thing we could do is wake them up and take them to McDonald's in their pajamas. Then we could make cupcakes and load everyone up and spend the day wading in the stinky waters at Saltair, or yelling at them to be careful as they climbed trees in Sugarhouse Park. 
None of the kids were going anywhere, and the bulk of our lives was about being parents and making sure each one of the seven knew they were loved, they were wanted and we were a family. Matt worked 2 minutes away and a fancy night out involved seeing if Sunnie and Chad wanted to grab some food or going to the Hale Center Theater to see some show where the tickets were a pricey $30 each. If we really wanted to play grown up, we'd take in a session at the Jordan River Temple.

Today, as I crumbled and folded, all of those memories flooded me and I just wanted to go back and be that version of me again. I didn't want to be New Jersey Chris with grown up kids and teenagers who is one of the older moms of the ward. I didn't want to be the Chris with actual responsible person level church callings and whose husband leaves and comes home while it is dark. 
I didn't want to be the Chris that won't see her son for two years and who won't talk to him until Mother's Day, who can't just call him on the phone and have him make her laugh when she's having a hard day, but doesn't want anyone to see. 
I love my life here, I love the changes and the people in my life, but it I never quite feel like I'm really caught up, if that makes sense. My heart drags when my body has no choice but to move forward and sometimes, my heart leaps forward and my body freezes and doesn't seem to follow fast enough.

The years would have passed anyway, kids would have grown up and moved out and Zane would be gone anyway- I know that. 
I just don't know how to have that not hurt, to not cause tiny little fractures in my little heart with each new grown-up thing that happens.
 I don't know how to be as strong as I think I need to be. 
It wasn't that stupid doctor, she was just another injury- a minor one in the grand scope of things, but it was enough that I couldn't keep moving forward today. 

Today, every ounce of bravado I had been showing, that mask of a brave and strong woman who totally had her act together-- collapsed in a heap on the couch in the family room and cried for a good 6 hours. That not-so-strong woman is still wiping away big fat tears as she reminds herself that all things have a beginning and all things have an end- even suffering. 

My brother had a big, white cast on his leg for such a long time, it seemed. I remember being bored because we did everything together and realizing I wasn't anywhere near as bored as he was, with that monster of  cast that was both preventing him from having fun and making sure that he would have as much fun as ever down the road.
 I remember deciding to help him get through it, since his trial was so much worse than mine and before long, he was better.
 I know the answers for me lie in helping others get through trials that are so much worse than mine and that will help the time to not just pass, but to mean something and to heal some of those little fractures I'm feeling.
I'm just not steady and sure right now. 
I'm not sure how to be a real grown up right now, in what is the sunset of motherhood for me. 
I don't have a great ending for this post, because I'm a wreck. I needed to write my feelings out and acknowledge that it's not all pride and gusto when your kid leaves for 2 years. You also get really sad and scared and miss him, you just also feel guilty for that and you don't talk about it.
I have courage, I have faith, I just also have a more tender heart that I let on. 
That tender heart is in pieces tonight, I have a compound fracture in my heart.
It will heal, but it hurts and  I'm going to be laid up for a bit.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Only 725 More Days Until He Comes Home.....

Zane is on his mission!
We were 5 whole minutes early to the MTC and if there is one thing I have taught my children, it is to be exactly on time- never late, never early- so we drove around the Provo Temple for a few minutes before we went through the gates at the MTC.

I held it together pretty well-- I did pull over after dropping him off at the MTC and Romy and I cried our eyes out for awhile.
They were happy tears, and tears of relief. 
I was relieved that Zane was finally beginning this exciting journey and he'd crossed the finish line of one race and made it to the next one- the one he wanted to run in more than anything.

We were able to spend that last hour talking about spiritual things, about the man he is growing up to be and about those special things a mother knows about her son, the things she keeps closest to her heart that aren't to be shared with everyone else. 
I am a lucky, lucky mom.

Things in our family are far from perfect, but we are a family that believes laughter can heal.
 When your actions harm another person- it doesn't matter if you were right or wrong- you need to help mend what you break. We choose to be with each other before everyone else and sometimes, that doesn't sit well with others. When you start your family having your time limited- you learn to spend that time with those in your circle as often as possible. Sometimes a lot of things we do don't sit well with others.  
Oh well. 
We are doing the best we can.
 In spite of the challenges and bad days we may have as a family, in spite of the mistakes we make each one of the nine of us knows the others are doing the best they can and we each want happiness for those in this family, we value that. 

Not all of my kids will serve missions- maybe Zane will be the only one, maybe the rest of them will serve- but whatever happens, we are all going to support each other as the individuals do the things they feel they need to do, as they screw up and as they climb mountains. 

Then we will all sit around and tell stupid jokes and lick each other's faces. 

If you don't like us, feel free to leave us alone. 

The day after we dropped off Zane, we went shopping with Emma. 
Romy has a graduation coming up and it is a semi- formal occasion.
She could wear a Sunday dress, but I wanted her to be able to have something that was actually a semi-formal dress and that was modest without a shrug or a jacket. I wanted her to see that you can buy stylish, elegant clothes for any occasion, you just have to look harder for things that will work. 
As we shopped, I was still pretty discouraged at what we were finding and Roe was being a bit of a butt about trying on things.
 Thankfully, Emma went into Big Sister mode and began picking out things and telling Romy to go and try them on. Once Romy was actually trying on dresses, Emma was pointing out why the fit was off or why it wouldn't work, as well as what aspects of the outfits did work, so they knew what to look for.
I am so glad she was there because I was ready to club Romy over the head.

Someone in my ward had mentioned Shabby Apple at Fashion Place mall. She said it was pricey, but it had amazing dresses.  
She was right.
Lots of vintage looks, but feminine and modest and there were a good number of styles to choose from. One dress stood out as the perfect shade of green to go with Emma's complexion. We had her try it on for fun and I immediately knew she had to have that dress. She wasn't expecting anything, so it was a fun surprise to be able to get her a beautiful, new dress that looked amazing on her.

She helped Romy decide between two dresses, one a pink version of the dress she got and the other was a vintage style blue dress with diagonal stripes that were subtle, but shimmery. The pink was a little more trendy, but the blue brought out her eyes.

Romy chose the blue and I don't know if I was more excited about the two dresses, or the fact that I was done shopping. 

We went to the Cheesecake factory afterwards and then spent the rest of the evening with my sisters in WVC. As the kids climbed all over things and made noise playing and laughing, I held the baby (Auntie's number one job) and just absorbed being surrounded by the little ones. 

Our flight home was uneventful and Romy and I were both so glad to be back in New Jersey. Seeing Matt at the airport was wonderful, I am not just a lucky Mom, I am a lucky wife. I have a husband who gets me and who sees me for more than the sum total of my mistakes and weaknesses. He isn't blind to the bad, but he chooses to focus on and bring out the good. He is a good husband and father and a good leader. He is a comfort to me and the best friend I could ever dream of. 

Today was to be the first day at church without Zane and last night, I had some freak allergic reaction to dust ( I think) and I had a head cold and a Shrek eye, so I stayed home. Matt had to tell people that I was okay, I just looked like a monster. 
As I made myself some lunch in the totally empty house, I was hit with a wave of awareness of how quiet it was. Even though we still have three kids home full time, Parker has moved into Zane's room upstairs and it is a big change in the feel of the house. I stopped and sat on the couch and had myself another good cry with my Shrek eye and then said a prayer that all of my children who are far away would know that I love them. 
Books don't really prepare you for this kind of mothering. 
I don't know what I'm doing most of the time. 
I'm afraid I am not good at it and maybe I will continue through this season, feeling like a foreigner who doesn't speak the language until one day the kids decide that Mom is too crazy and they lock  me in a home and throw away they key. 

Until then, I'll write letters, and send care packages to all of my faraway kids, who I am still cooking supper for each night and saving a place for at the table.