Friday, March 30, 2012

Happy, Happy Birthday, Gabbeee

For some reason the tune of "happy, happy birthday baybeeeee" is running through my mind while I quickly write this post and add some photos of Gabby's 9th birthday.

9? already? really?

 I decided yesterday that time as a parent goes entirely too quickly for my liking. I know most parents have their children from birth and probably seems to go twice as fast as I feel it is going, which is pretty much the speed of light.
 Gabby came to us when she was 5. A teeny little girl with a very, very shy personality. She's still our teeny little girl, but the shy personality has long since left her. Now, she's a brave, bubbly little girl who has an infectious smile and an even more infectious giggle.

We love you, never-ending Gabbalella. We hope all of your wishes come true.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Our Story- His Version

Yesterday in our daily email exchange, I asked Cary to write a part of our history from his point of view. The boy has mad writing skills and occasionally I'm gifted with surprise poem in my inbox or a letter on the table. Usually, I can barely finish them for the tears. 
He asked me how detailed I wanted him to be and I left it up to him. I have to admit, I rather enjoyed reading his snippet and it brought back a few memories I had forgotten.


In 1995 I was attending Utah Valley State College and had just learned about the internet and chat rooms.  I've always had a knack for computers, so during the computer science class time, I would finish the assignments quickly and then surf the internet.  After jumping into some random message boards I wound up on RockWeb, a site for discussing music, which had been overrun by people trying to hook up with other people.  I was quickly put off by all the flirting going on, but I ended up talking to someone named "Dilbert" who seemed to share similar interests in music.

It wasn't until a little while later that I found out Dilbert was a girl.  With a bit of trouble I managed to get her phone number, and we both quickly ran up a few thousand dollars in phone bills (I put my car up as collateral to pay it off, if that doesn’t impress a girl, I don’t know what does).  We talked whenever we could.  I saved up enough to make a plane trip out to Arkansas.  She says I wept when I saw her at the airport, but I'm 113% positive that I didn't.  I spent a couple days in Malvern at her grandparents' house.  We did a lot of running around Hot Springs seeing the sites, and getting lost in the rented car.  I still remember our first fight with fondness.  Her grandparents were smokers, and I react pretty badly to cigarette smoke.  She took me to the local grocery store and tried to get me to purchase some asthma medicine.  I resisted because I don't like to take medicine that I hasn't been prescribed to me.  We argued and I 'caved' and bought it, but I put it into my backpack and didn't use it.  So who really won that fight?  Neener!  The fights have only gotten sillier since then.

It was difficult to come back to Utah.  I love my parents, but I decided that I needed to take a chance and set out on my own without a safety net, so at the end of September 1996, I packed up my stuff in a U-Haul trailer.  We dodged a tornado in Malvern by a few minutes and my dad left the next day. 

Amanda and I got married 3.5 years and many, many silly arguments later.  Oh, and I found out she likes country music too, somewhere along the way.  Doesn't matter.  She's still perfect.  Except that one time when she made that chili, and the other time she told us mustard greens was spinach.

Full Disclosure:
The chili is still brought up, some 15 years later. In my defense, It was the very first time I made chili. However,  it was a disgusting mess. I burned it, badly,  and I'm pretty sure that I didn't add all of the ingredients that I should have added.  He ate it. I tried to eat it. Then, I threw it all away and we went and bought something else. 
As far as the mustard greens go, I have no defense. I like for all of us to try new vegetables and fruits, sometimes it is a easier to stretch the truth a bit, or perhaps disguise the new food until AFTER they've had a chance to try it. The mustard greens. What a horrible vegetable. I don't ever remember them being that rancid, perhaps I hadn't had them before as I thought I had. I told everyone it was spinach and I cooked them like I do spinach, sauteed with olive oil and freshly ground black pepper and salt.  I didn't see Cary eat them, but he took a bite, without complaint or pulling a face. He told me last night he just thought it was a horrible batch of spinach at first. Then, Gabby took a bite. She was less in control and pulled a very hilariously disgusted face. At that point, I decided I better try them. I put them in my mouth, chewed once, and spat them out. It was the most bitter, horrid flavor, except for that one time I made the chili....

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Story Of Us

I am laying here in bed listening to the rhythmic  sounds of Cary's heavy breathing, a fan whirring in the background, and Disc 3 of Castle Season 2 playing in the DVD player. Three things that I have to have in order to go to sleep. However, pretty much any disc of any season of Castle and any disc of Psych is interchangeable. I have to have the fan, and most importantly, I have to have my Cary.

March 25th marked our 12 year wedding anniversary. The end of August/First part of September of this year will mark the 17th year that we met. June will mark our 16th year of being together, officially, like in the same state and everything.

Ours is not a magically romantic story, and it's one that we don't typically share with others. Now that we're older we care less about what others think, but a few years ago when people would hear that we met on the...wait for it....Internet *insert gasps of horror and frightful looks here*,  we would get many raised eyebrows, shocked looks of horror, sometimes even audible gasps.

No, we didn't meet on a church website. Nor did we  meet at LDS singles, or any other singles site.

 I was in high school, new to the Internet, in an AP Technology class, creating web sites, blogs, and school homepages. On a whim, my friends and I decided to venture into I just googled it and it's no longer an active chat client.
It was a pretty full chat room, and my friends and I decided to go with cartoon character "handles" as to avert any unwanted attention from the trollers. There were a group of  folks on the chat that started becoming Internet friends, pals. Cary's handle was Mutt and he was one of them. We had no "interest" in each other and I honestly can't remember how we got started on private chats. But, eventually we did. We hit it off. I thought he was funny and sarcastic, humble and witty; things that I still admire about him.

Private chats turned into emails. Novels, really. I loved them. I couldn't wait each day to get to my AP Tech class so that I could check my email to read his latest letter. They weren't love letters at first, just friendly emails. Emails turned into snail mail....Oh I how LOVED the snail mail letters. They became lovey, mushy-gushy, but not for a long while, after the phone calls.  Very, Very expensive phone calls. Months and thousands of dollars later; phone calls, emails, and snail mail letters turned into a visit.

Cary came to visit me in Arkansas in  June of 1996. I remember clearly the moment he stepped off the plane. I remember what he was wearing, the look on his face, his beautiful, kind eyes, and his accent.
Oh, that thick, delicious New Zealand accent made me swoon! I remember looking into his eyes, and him saying, "Amanda?"
I think I was mute. I just stared into his eyes.  He grabbed me  in the biggest, warmest, love filled hug and I knew.
I knew I would grow old with this one.

So many years have passed since then and so much has changed in our lives from that moment  in which time stopped in the airport that hot, June night in Arkansas.

I now have my Eternal Companion, my very best friend, the love of my life.
 The years are passing, the gray is showing, the love is growing stronger, and we are happy.

Blissfully Happy.

Heavenly Father really does know what he's doing. During my most difficult trials I have had to have complete faith that He does. It's been difficult. Really difficult.
 But, all things happen the way they should.
How else could one explain The Story Of Us?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bkow! Bkow!

Another uber personal post? Yes, Yes, it is. 
I've had several very spiritual experiences lately. I am pretty much convinced it has to do with my new calling in the Young Women. Hiding out in Primary for 8 years was pretty appealing. Cary and I had taught every age group and I had served as a leader for scouts as well as activity day girls. We were content. We had a routine and it was comfortable. We were comfortable.
That is, until that fateful mild winter day when I was accosted outside my front door and asked to serve as a Young Women's leader. One of the leaders in our ward is a dear friend and I reckon he was designated to talk to me.
No way!
Change is not my friend!
I did not want to not have Cary aka my security blanket with me and I sure didn't want to be alone as I muddled through something completely new and foreign to me.

No, Thanks!

Yeah, I was full of a lot of hot air and did, in fact, accept the calling.
 If God asks you to do something, you do it. No?

Have you have had the faith to do something even though you were scared out of your mind?

I wasn't sure that I did. To some it may seem like a minor change, something not worth all the fuss that I was making. Perhaps. Since my baptism in 2002, I have never, before now, held a calling in our church without Cary. We were a pair! A Team! A well-oiled machine!

Also, I'm a big chicken.

But, here I am, 2 months later, a leader for the Beehives, taught 2 solo lessons, AND I've been blessed with these amazingly wonderful spiritual experiences.

I've been able to grow my testimony. I've had so many confirmations that this is were I am supposed to be, that I am somewhat ashamed  I was such a punk about it all in the first place.

What was I thinking?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

For the Strength of Youth

In our church we do not have one individual who stands up each week to preach a sermon. Different members of our congregation are asked to speak each week. They are typically given a topic by a member of our Clergy, but where they take the talk is up to them. I'll be honest, sometimes I might catch 2 sentences of the talk. Today was a different experience completely for me.
 Cary and I got a phone call on Wednesday asking if Cuauhtli would be willing to give a talk on Sunday. We gladly accepted for him. *note-if it were us, we would accept albeit not as happily. ;) * 
Cuauhtli was given the topic of Choice and Accountability. I was teaching the Young Women today about Self-Reliance- and Growing and Maturing in it. The two went hand-in-hand. Cary and I allow/encourage/make the kids write their own talks and come up with their own stories to share. After all, they want to hear their words, not ours.
 Cuauhtli spent  a day writing his talk. It was only supposed to be 2 minutes or so, and he had a page or two written. Cary read it and approved and told him to come up with a story to share. We left it alone and made sure he was prepared this morning before church.  He was pretty nervous, but he was prepared.
  We were excited to hear what he had to say.
 We sat down in our usual row in the very back of the chapel. Yep, we take up an entire row of chairs. All seven of us.
We did what we do, and Cuauhtli started walking back toward us to sit down. We shooed him back to the front, and he ran, ever so reverently, back to the front.
 He was first up on the program.
 His name was called.
 It's pretty much a given that the name gets butchered, but the kids are really great sports about it and understand that most people, including their parents, have a very difficult time making our tongues form those sounds.
He stood and they lowered the mic. Then, they lowered it some more. His little head was barely poking above the podium.
  Of course, fate was fighting against us and the speakers weren't turned on/working properly, but we were able to hear most of it. He stood, bravely, reciting the words that he had written a few days earlier. He seemed, to me, unnerved by it all. He finished the written talk and said, "So, now, I'm going to share a story about when I felt the Holy Ghost and made a right choice that was hard for me."
The kid proceeded to tell a story that Cary and I hadn't heard before, and I started crying. He shared with the congregation about being removed from his birth mother and being placed with us the first time, then being removed "from my parents, Cary and Amanda" and was with his birth mom again. The story began when he went back to live with his birth mom for a short while before coming "home" for good. He and Tonathiu were with some older boys, Tonathiu's friends. They were "kinda thugs" and had found a pack of smokes and a lighter. The boys began smoking and gave one each to Cuauhtli and Tonathiu. Cuauhtli took it, but didn't smoke it and threw it away. He said then he went to "pray about it and thank Heavenly Father for helping me". He shared how he remembered coming to church with us and things he learned and knew that it was a bad choice and that it wouldn't make God happy.
Probably one of the proudest moments I've had as a Mom. He knew what he was supposed to do because he learned it from great teachers in Primary, from wonderful examples in our ward, from Friends and Family who show us what it's like to be a true Latter Day Saint. 
I have no doubt in my mind that had he not had those experiences in our home, he would have taken the cigarette and smoked it. Sadly, that's the way the cycle goes.
 He broke the cycle that day.
And, he started a new one.

He ended his talk and came running walking back to us in the back row. He was shaking. We could feel the heat radiating from him. His suit coat was damp with sweat. He hugged his Dad and then came to me and gave me a huge hug. Of course, I was crying, and he looked at me with his sweet face and pointed to his eyes, which were brimming with tears. He sat down next to his Dad and tried to catch his breath. He was still crying and I know the Spirit was in him. Cary was able to help him recognize that Spirit, so  next time he will Know.

The Strength of Youth.
They Are Amazing.