Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Raingutter Regatta

We finished the shopping for Manti today, and in the midst of that hubbub, we had another son participating in a Raingutter Regatta race. That meant scrambling to finish a boat. So Morgan sanded his boat body so it was nice and smooth. He painted it the colors he wanted (gold on the top and bottom, green around the sides and on the mast) and then he wanted a "cool design" on it. At first, he said he wanted to paint a portrait of Manti on it. ...... so I suggested we do the symbol called "living waters" and Morgan went for it.

I drew the outline of it in pen. Morgan took a silver sharpie and went over it. Then we used some polyurethane to coat it a couple times. It wiped the silver right off! ACK! So after the polyurethane dried, we went over it again with a black sharpie. That worked! Then he wanted to draw Manti on the sail. I'm starting to get a little concerned about this :\ So we talked to Manti about different designs and their meanings. There is one we see Manti draw a lot. It almost looks like clouds, and it actually represents the four directions, but more specifically, the four winds. Now how perfect is a boat with the living waters drawn on the sides and the four winds drawn on the sail? So Manti drew that design on Morgan's sail. You never saw a happier boy,.....until I let him name his boat the S.S. Manti & Morgan. The racing was fun, but building that boat and bragging to his friends that it was made in honor of his big brother--- that was the purpose this child had in mind.

How did I get such good sons?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Temple

Well, it happened. The day came. We went, we participated, we survived, and we came home. We did it all in one day too! I'm still not sure how, but we did! It was a day full of emotions and a little tension, but I've been told by many who sent sons on missions before me that days of tension prior to that plane taking off are completely normal. [Abnormal for our household to be 'normal']

We stopped at the bookstore first and got a few odds and ends (namely Manti's hymnbook, which I got his name put on) and then we raced off to the clothing store. Guess who had to get a new dress! We won't discuss why. Manti got his new things and we headed into the temple. Friends were there waiting for us and met us at the door. That felt nice! I passed out some family file names so that some of us would be going through for Tommy's family at the same time. It made a special occasion seem even moreso. [insert that shark music...duhn duhn duhn duhn duhn duhn duhn duhn]

I felt pretty good about things, but the wait was getting to me! We went to the chapel to wait for the session to start, and in come all these people I know and care so much about. I was truly surprised to see most of them there! I don't know why,'s their character to be at things like this, but I was surprised nonetheless. While I sat and waited, I realized how many years had gone by, how much time I had to teach this little bitty boy who now looks down to me. I thought of the experiences I had shared with him. I thought back to the mental images I have of him looking up at me and doing things with me. I remembered his love of pizza as a toddler, and his calling my tropical fish "sushi" because he couldn't say fishy. I remember him handcuffing his wrist to his ankle with Tommy's cuffs right after moving to Idaho and having to explain to the police department why we own cuffs and how Manti could have gotten them. I remembered the day he was baptized, the day he lost his imaginary dog.... so many days. I admit, tears found my cheeks.

Skipping ahead, I was seated across from Manti and Tommy. In came Daddy who sat by Tommy and Mama who sat by me. In front of me was my best friend and in that same row were two more very very precious friends. I looked behind me and more friends were coming in,... it was so sweet. I realized I was proxy for a family member, Tommy was proxy for a family member, Daddy was proxy for a family member and Joe Mills was proxy for a family member. All of the sudden, the room was filled with my family. I couldn't feel a distinction between blood relations and friend relations. We were one family. Annette reached behind her to me and held my hand, and that feeling was solidified.

The evening was very beautiful. It was enlightening and motivating in many ways.
That night, Manti's heart had become so full he could no longer keep it to himself and after all had gone to bed but he and I, Manti tells me he feels so very different now. I asked how, and he says "I'm stronger." I asked what that meant and he said he wasn't real sure, but he felt literally stronger. He also said he felt warmer. I had to laugh at that, but at the same time, I told him it was a good warmth. He said "it's a warmth that keeps me safe. I like it a lot." Manti isn't a person of many words,....but the words he says reach deeper than their generic meanings. I looked deeper and felt more in those words after pondering them. What truth he spoke!

Look at the light in these eyes....

This is the "before" picture.

And these are the "after" pictures...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Making Ends Meet -- Recognizing Blessings

When Tommy got hurt back in 2003, that nice paying job he had became a memory. We went back to struggling to make it and haven't really gotten past that too much even since then. I got a part-time job and it definitely helps. Even still, with 4 kids at home, stuff STILL comes up on a constant basis and makes life hard.

THEN Manti's mission call came in and reality hit me so hard I just collapsed into an emotional puddle for a few days. Everybody (well some people said it nicely, but not all) told me I needed to get over myself and look forward to the blessings that would come to because of his service. Enough of them have said that (that it made me mad, first and foremost!) till I decided OK FINE! So I'm looking, and I mean I am really LOOKING for those promised blessings!

Well, a lady I work with mentioned me needing extra work to a client of hers. Next thing I know, the lady comes in to the shop where I work and asks me to come do some housekeeping for her. I asked if I could bring Mesa (who has pleaded for a job for over a year now) and she said yes! YAY! A little extra money helps!

The day came and Mesa and I drove out to her house. I was blown away by the number of figurines she wanted dusted, but you know what? That was a blessing because although it's tedious, it isn't strenuous and my body is demanding I not do strenuous stuff for now. Mesa took care of scrubbing bathrooms and she mopped floors. Five hours later I came home with more money in hand than I earn at the shop in a full day! The lady also scheduled us to return each month! AND on the way home, I got called by another lady wanting me and she said her friend wanted me too, as well as my boss's sister. YAY! Blessing: check! I split that money with Mesa, so now she has job and since its just the two of us, she learns about the differences in net and gross education plus job for Mesa that doesn't cost ME! YAY! Blessing: check!

Yesterday, Mesa got a phone call from a friend of hers that works at a computer data center in town. This business is owned and operated by a LOT of LDS people and we go to church with most of them, although a few attend wards in our stake, but not ours. Thing is, I think they are ALL active! Safe place to work, you'd think? :D Anyway, he calls her and tells her to be sure she answers the next phone call. She does, and its someone who handles hiring for the company. No, Mesa had NOT put in an application, so yes, big surprise! The lady asked her a few questions and asked if she would be interested in coming in for an interview the next morning. Mesa said YES! That was scary to me. Mesa has to get her drivers license (was going to be anyway, but for the job she'd HAVE to) and then the scheduling...that could be hard on me.

So last night, Mesa and I sat down and analyzed her life. I wrote a resume up for her from that and really highlighted things she had done in her activities. She had to admit she had not realized how much she gotten to do and achieve in her 19 years! I'm proud of that little resume too! Then she got to ironing her shirt so she would have crisp seams to wear to her interview. This morning Manti too her to the interview and he waited in the car for her. She was soooo nervous, so she and I said little prayers while they drove. When she arrived, the receptionist had her sit and wait for the lady. Luckily, the phone rang so Mesa paid attention to how she handled herself on the phone. (The job she's applying for is a receptionist job.) The lady calls her in and starts asking her questions about her resume info. I listed that she got her Young Womanhood Recognition award, so the lady wanted to know what was that. Mesa described it as being like a girls version of an eagle scout award and told her about some of the projects she had done. The lady was impressed. She has a certificate for 2 years of seminary (which burns me up that they wouldn't count her 2 years of home study!) so the lady asked what was that. She was impressed by that and then tested her by asking her to quote scriptures. She did! She wanted to know Mesa's favorite scripture, so Mesa quoted James 1:5 and again, the lady was impressed. She asked about the time Mesa had volunteered at the animal shelter. Mesa had answered phones a few times and I listed that. So she hits a button on the phone, and the phone rings. She tells Mesa to answer it as if she worked there. (Remember that phone call the receptionist took when Mesa first came in?) Mesa answered it very well and quite professionally and then asked how she could help. It was actually the receptionist that called, and she asked for a person at another department. The phone is labeled with departments, so Mesa transferred the call to the right department and impressed the interviewer again. She asked why she answered that way and Mesa said she listened when the other call came in and followed that example. The lady was glad because that actually reported on the other receptionist who was supposed to be following a script!

All in all, my little girl was a grown up today and presented herself very well. Her hours are only 2 days a week, the same 2 each week, and they match her present schedule PERFECTLY! I couldn't ask for better! She'll be paid more than minimum wage (Manti grumbles about that) and will be able to tend to her own needs and save for her wants. YAY! Blessing: check!

Glad Manti is going on a mission. I'm going to miss him so much and cry a lot too,....but I'm so grateful to him because he is giving us some much needed relief in the form of blessings and the ability to SEE them for what they are. For a change, I think my ends are going to meet!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Faith Vs. Mountains

Did you ever see that movie, Jason and the Argonauts? There's a scene in it where the men arrive at a desert-like place and skeletons come up out of the ground and commence to battling with the Argonauts. It seems like for every skeleton they whack down, two more come up out of the ground. That gives you a sense of hopelessness for a moment. After some time goes by, the guys start to get ahead of the skeleton evolution and begin to win the battle, but it doesn't happen immediately.

I sort of feel that way sometimes, especially at times that require me to have faith. It's almost like the skeletons feel the need to outnumber me so that I'll just give up and quit. I don't know how they come up with SO MANY in their group, but they always do! I never have quite that sized army on my side.

There is hope, though. I just have to be vigilant in looking for it. I can never look solely at the skeletons or my peripheral vision closes in and I miss the volunteers that are on the outskirts of the battle, and I think they are always there, just less visible. I have even discovered that I can name the skeletons because it seems like they reuse the same ones a lot. There's "Financial Difficulty" and "Car Trouble" and "Health Problem" and "Unexpected Bill" and "Bad Timing" and "Emotional Upheaval" .... just to name a few. I did say there is hope out there, right? And there is. If I look around me, I can find my friends "Scriptures" and "Close Friends" and "Patriarchal Blessing" and "Loved Ones". There are fewer on my side, but the hope comes from knowing that the ones on my side of the battle are STRONGER than those on the dirt skeletons side.

Crazy analogy, I know. To be more specific, it is so hard on me and my family and our feelings for Manti to leave. There are so many things involved that it is easy to get overwhelmed. Sometimes it seems like I do all this to please someone else and just overlook my own needs and feelings, and that's how I get that tunnel vision that cuts out my view of those around me willing to help make it easier. We've gotten the majority of the things he needs to take with him. If we don't get it all right now, it's really ok, because the US postal service delivers and he has a mailing address already. I can ship him the things I haven't gotten yet. So that eliminates that point of stress! WOOHOO! He studies his Spanish notes and flash cards everyday, and he reads his scriptures (and knows them better than I do!) everyday. He is very familiar with his Preach My Gospel book, he is preparing....another stress eliminated. He has a plane ticket...I don't know how that works, so that's a stress, BUT we'll go to the airport as a family and the task of figuring it all out isn't my burden alone- we'll share it, so it will work out. Another stress bites the dust!

Satan is the source of the stress, fear, difficulties, problems that pop up,.... he is the one leading the army of dirt skeletons. I just have to remember that they collapse when hit just once, so I can win this. I have to swing my faith every step I take,....and if I do it, it will all work out. I can not only beat the skeletons, but I can even move the mountain they are coming out of :)

Now I just have to come back to this blog everyday and read this again and again so I don't forget it!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Missionary Plaque

"And the Lord said unto him: Because of thy faith thou hast seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood; and never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger. Sawest thou more than this?"

Ether 3:9

Can't Sleep

It's now 6am. I didn't get sleepy enough for bed till about 12:30am, and then because of a nameless few, I wasn't able to rest enough for sleep until after 1:30am. At 5am, I started the flip/flop toss and at 5:30 I was awake and in the bathroom using a waterpick on my teeth. Now it's 6am and I'm sitting in a dark livingroom with a laptop in my lap and a yawn on my face. Looks like the makings of a long day ahead.

So for today's goals, I hope to accomplish a few things:
  • take pictures of Manti for his missionary plaque
  • pick up my paycheck
  • deposit my paycheck
  • pay the water bill
  • print a good picture of Manti at Walmart
  • buy a pair of shoes for Jared
  • pick up a few small items on Manti's missionary list
  • get stuff for supper
  • take Manti to get shots they couldn't do the other day
  • talk Mesa into doing some household chores (like cooking supper!)
Is that enough of a 'to do' list? Please say yes.
Tomorrow I have to go to Douglasville for an appointment, and then Wednesday morning Mesa and I will be going to a lady's house to clean for her (trying to make a few extra dollars so ends have a better chance of meeting). After that is cub scouts and I'm taking the boys to the police department for a tour. [We moms are hoping we can play with their chalk and draw outlines on the sidewalk of the boys. :D ] Thursday I work, Friday the kids are going out on a group date and Saturday I work. Maybe next Sunday there will be time for a nap!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Educating Children....The Hard Way!

My children are learning biology...whether I like it or not!

Morgan (while observing our rabbits) :
"Attack of the killer rabbit-- WAIT!--why is he attacking?"


Jared (while observing the same rabbits):
"DADDY! I think one of the rabbits just laid an egg!"

*glad it's not Easter!*

Jared had a special tiny glass. Morgan accidentally broke it. Jared was totally distraught, so I promised if he'd wait for Monday, I'd take him on a special "Jared Day" and we'd buy a new glass. So Monday morning came and Jared got up early. He went into my dresser and laid out clothes for me. When I got up, I found them (and him proudly waiting for me), so I started getting dressed. He announced to me...
"I got you everything but your boobs!"


Conversation this morning:
Mesa, frantically looking down and all around- "WHY??"
Jared- "Your boobs are there!"

I guess it's time for a bit of a talk with my boys.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Counting Blessings

I find myself complaining far too often,...or moping...or dragging...or whining...or pouting....

Today, I want to count some blessings.

  1. I have no house payment.
    Normally, where my house is concerned, I have nothing but complaints. After all, it was formerly the property of my inlaws, people who didn't like me and didn't hide that fact. It's also the ugliest house I think I've ever seen. It's never clean and its not comfortable and it's too small for our family,...... BUT.....
    I make no payments on it. It is free and clear and all we have to do is live in it. Not many people I know can count THAT blessing for themselves, so I'm quite fortunate.
  2. My children love the gospel.
    I never realized how many LDS families struggle with this. I don't envy their situations at all. I don't "pity" them...don't misunderstand me here....but I recognize that I am VERY blessed that of all struggles in this life, my children's testimonies keep them choosing the right.
  3. My basic needs are met.
    Tommy and I have been married for 22 years now. In all that time, we've had about 6 months where we had enough money to do more than ONLY care for the basics. Our children only understand poverty, and I have always hated that. children have always had food to eat, clothes to wear, a warm dry home to live in, family to love them,.... I really do have it pretty good.
  4. I'm pretty talented!
    That one is harder to say, but this is MY blog and I can use it for self-help purposes if I want to. And no matter what that nut-job lady said the other day,...I have several talents:
    a. music (I can read it, play it, lead it, sing it, enjoy it, "experience" it, share it, and more!) I'm not the very best at any of that (my sister is!), but I'm good enough to be able to teach others and improve myself when I take time to try.
    b. poetry (Again, I'm not the best writer, but I can rhyme and I can reason and I got rhythm.)
    c. herbs (I certainly don't know it all, or even a lot,...but what I know is good and helps people who can't afford medical professionals or drugs, or who prefer a natural route)
    d. beadwork (I can do it, and I use the itty bitty size seed beads)
    e. creativity (I have it! I can come up with all sorts of things in all sorts of categories. Whether I'm teaching or creating, I can do it in an interesting way.)
    f. loyalty (I can't help it, once I decide to be loyal to someone or something, I'm firmly loyal)
  5. My husband loves me.
    He and I have bumps in our road sometimes, but even in spite of that, he loves me. Lately, he's trying harder than ever to prove that to me because he sees me going through hard times and wants desperately to help me through. THAT is a blessing!
  6. My cars work!
    They desperately need to be washed. They desperately need cleaning on the inside. They desperately need new tires. In spite of all that, they keep on running and take me where I need to go AND they blow cold air on my face as we go.
  7. Julie Slack
    A few weeks ago, Manti got his mission call and I got a shock to my system. For every ounce of joy and excitement I felt, I felt the same amount of hysteria and sadness. No matter how I was feeling, the daunting task of preparing my child to leave me had to begin. Emotions of every kind racing through all of us ensured us some argumentative moments- until I stumbled upon a missionary group on facebook...and a post made by Elder Slack's mother, Julie. Her son is in the same mission that Manti will go to, so she has insight into what I can expect. Every single day, she has metaphorically held my hand and walked me through this test of my faith. She has inspirational thoughts, videos taken inside the MTC, pictures of New Mexico and some of the missionaries there, and stories of her own experiences as a missionary mom that have served as comfort for me. I absolutely feel like she's giving me a warm fuzzy blanket and wrapping it around me to soothe my heart. She is DEFINITELY a blessing!
  8. My family
    This includes my children, my husband, my inlaws across the street, my siblings, my parents, my grandparents (even those passed away), my aunts/uncles, .... and I include those dear close friends who might as well be family. These are the people who pick my head up and hold it high on the days I just can't.
The list should be longer, but these 8 have stood out brightly to me today, they get counted right now. I'm so thankful for all,....Thank you, Heavenly Father! Thank you!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Title Pic Change

If you've followed my blog much, one thing you will notice today is that the picture at the top of my blog changed. No, I didn't do anything to Tommy. He is safe and sound :)

I changed the picture for a reason. My life has always been all about my family.....ALL about my family. It's been almost NONE about me. That's not really something that bothers me (no matter what you might think by the removal of Tommy's picture), but it has come to my attention that I'm that way.

Well think about this:
If you go to the fridge and pour all members of your family a drink everyday,....every single day,....not missing even one day,.....evvvvvery single day.... there will likely come a time when they forget how to get themselves a drink. There is likely to come a day when something happens to those working hands and you aren't able to get them a drink for a couple days. Are your family members now handicapped? Are they going to go through some emotional upsets because they just can't quite remember how to do it for themselves?

That might be extreme, but little things like that DO happen. I tend to do things to make my family depend on me. It disturbs me when they don't need me, in fact I cried the other day because Manti was able to go to the DMV and renew his drivers license without me. That's kind of a wake up call!

Now I'm not suggesting to love your family any less, or that I love MY family any less. I just feel like perhaps allowing them to do for themselves is a bigger service than loving them to death is.

At the same time, I feel quite burdened by my own efforts to do it all. The stress and weight of EVERYTHING is just more than a body can physically endure, and there WILL come a time (ahem, we're there) when the body just can't keep getting drinks for everybody and it stops working right. So that means I have to step back once in a while and let them get their own drinks (for their own good) and go catch a deep breath of fresh outside air (for my own good). This lets me be able to get them drinks tomorrow! It lets me be here longer to love them longer.

So I changed my picture because I'll know everytime I log in to this blog that this is a MARIANNA MOMENT,....and its my time to breathe.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What's for supper?

This year in our garden, we tried something new: EGGPLANT! I never even tasted an eggplant until we picked our first one. That first one, I sliced up and battered and fried. It tasted so much like fried squash that I decided I now love eggplant.

The other day, Manti picked 4 of them, so I needed to figure out a way to use them so I could have them fresh instead of figuring out how to freeze them or something. So I started looking online for recipes using eggplant. I didn't want to go to the grocery store, so I hunted for something simple. Here is what I came up with:

I sliced up the eggplants in rounds, as if it were yellow squash or zucchini or something like that. I had a bowl of egg and a bowl of ritz crackers I crushed up (the recipe called for bread crumbs but I didn't have any and didn't want to go shopping). I poured some olive oil into a non-stick skillet and got it hot on medium heat. Then I dipped a slice of eggplant into the egg, then dredged it in the crackers. From there it went into the skillet and browned on each side.

I also had a casserole dish on the counter that had been sprayed with non-stick spray. As the eggplant pieces got done, I placed them in a layer across the bottom of the casserole dish. Once I had a layer, I finished cooking my eggplant pieces, but put them on a plate instead.

When all eggplant was done and half of it was in the casserole dish, I wiped out my non-stick skillet and poured a can of tomato sauce into it. I sprinkled a little salt, but not a lot since the sauce already had some. I let it simmer for a few minutes and turned off the heat, then I added some fresh basil that I talked Mesa into chopping up for me. The smell was really nice!

I drizzled half my sauce over the eggplant pieces in the casserole dish. Then I sprinkled some shredded cheddar cheese (I think mine was sharp) over that. Then I layered the rest of the eggplant pieces on the cheese, added the rest of the sauce, covered it with aluminum foil and put it into a preheated (450 degrees) oven for 10 minutes. After that 10 minutes, I pulled it out, removed the foil and sprinkled another layer of cheese on top. I put it back into the oven just long enough to melt the cheese...maybe 3 or 4 minutes.

We ate it up and got quite full even though it wasn't a large amount! I was surprised!
Manti kept saying he would expect a mouthful of beef, and then be surprised when he chewed it. I admit, it does remind you of meat. I don't know if that's the texture of the eggplant cooked like that, or if it was the breading on it, or if its just the sauce smells like a meat sauce. Either way, it was still really good and everybody says I should cook it again sometime.

Not bad at all! *Pat myself on the back*