Sunday, October 27, 2013

Never to Late

This weekend I had the pleasure of being a kid again when I went to Arches with my parents and Candace. As I watched my mom tackle our miles and miles of hiking I learned several important things.
    Before I start the story, I want to back up a bit. My mom has worked her butt of this summer. She ran all the time to train for the color run (she is much more persistent than I am). And, she hiked almost
every weekend all summer (some of the hikes were really difficult). She told me on one of our many summer hikes that she finally decided that the key to having an active lifestyle was to have an active lifestyle. So, she did. When the summer started she had a difficult time with a lot of the hikes, by the end she could practically run up the mountain.
   I need to back up once more, even further. When I was 15 my whole family went to Arches National Park. I enjoyed it but didn't remember too much. The coolest part, I always thought, was walking on a fin by Double O Arch. For years, this is what we (My dad, Spencer, and I) reminisced about. Candace was 6 and was with us and we were scared to death that she was going to walk off this fin. Now, my mother, because she was being a good mother did not go on this part of the hike with us. My brother Ben, had had it by the time we got to that hike and sat down a log refusing to go another step. My mom stayed with him (sidenote: Ben was wearing a Darth Vader helmet the whole time we were there but that is another story).
Mom on the Fin
   Anyway, for years my mom wanted to go back and do this hike. The fin hike. I think both my parents just figured they would wait till we were a bit older. Unfortunately, certain members of my family didn't like hiking no matter how old they got. So we didn't go back and finish that hike.
     Fast-forward (it has been nine years), after my mom's summer of hiking she decided she wanted to go do that seven mile loop with or without the whole family. Those of us who wanted to/could go cleared our schedules and we went this weekend.
    My mom did such a good job. I know parts of it scared her and I know parts of it were physically demanding but she did the whole thing. From this, I learned, that it is never to late to fulfill your goals. I also learned, that it is important to do everything you can to make sure you don't have too many regrets.

Arches Travelogue: For posterity of course :)
On top of Double O
     My parents, Candace, and I drove to Moab early Thursday morning and went straight to the seven mile loop. We hiked it like bosses (the fin was far less impressive than I remembered it being, possibly
because I wasn't worried about Candace walking off of it this time around). Candace and I climbed on top of Double O arch (nearly gave me a heart attack). We also stalked some hikers who looked like they knew what they were doing and walked down a wall.
Delicate Arch
     The next day, we did the delicate arch hike, sandstone arch, broken arch, and random hitchhiking moment in a campsite. The best part was when we
finally got up to the top of delicate arch. I made some remark to Candace about that being the actual arch and she looked over and kind of gasped because she hadn't seen it before. In other news, I climbed on top of Sandstone Arch and we also did a lot of downhill speed-walking.
     The last day Candace, Dad, and I went through the Fiery Furnace with Ranger Kate and a swarm of old people. That is the type of place I would want to get a permit for. There were so many rocks just asking to be climbed. Anyway, whilst in the Fiery Furnace Candace got stuck no less than three times and shushed by a grumpy old lady during a shrimp lecture. After the Furnace we did a few more hikes and headed home.
    Throughout the trip I read "The Fault in our Stars" every time we were in the car. This resulted in me crying in the backseat for the better part of the trip home. I just kept thinking to myself. If only they had the gospel. This undeniably proves that I am my mothers daughter. And, the older I get, the more I think that that is a blessing. She is amazing, there would be nothing better than to grow up and be just like her :)
  Sidenote: I learned stuff from my dad too. Like, it's okay to change your clothes anywhere in the
wilderness (including the parking lot).

I have fantastic parents :) (and a fantastic Candace).

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Life is always Fehr for me. Or so I have been told.

    Life is not fair. It's best to learn that lesson fast because it isn't. Luckily for us, God is undeniably fair. It may not always seem that way because such awful things can and do happen, but everything will balance out eventually.
    When I was student teaching I was at a very difficult school. It was Title 1, it was in a low-income area, and the kids in my class had to deal with a lot of issues that I had never had to deal with as an adult. It was really quite a wake up call. Not everywhere, even in Utah, was as safe and clean as I had previously thought.
    I turned twenty two that year and had the pleasure of spending the whole year in one class. That was how the U did practicums. For the first half of the year I went to the class on Monday and Tuesday and observed until I felt comfortable teaching. Then I went to classes at the U the rest of the week. The second half of the year I was in the classroom full time. My cooperating teacher was great. In that sense I definitely had a one up on a lot of the other people in my cohort. She let me go at my own pace and was always ready to help when I needed her. My class, however, was difficult. They were a troubled bunch of kids, some more than others. There were many personality issues. There were kids who needed a lot of attention, there were kids who needed a lot of academic help, there were kids who couldn't stop talking, and then there was me. I didn't know how to handle any of them. Theory and practice are completely different and I only knew theory. As I began to take over I struggled a lot. There was one kid in my class who had so much pent up anger and disregard for authority that he made me cry weekly. (This was before I was super weepy.) He used to say and do things that I didn't know how to control and I definitely didn't understand. I think he spent most of the year in the office and I spent most of it pulling my hair out. I used to get home at night and wonder what on earth I had gotten myself into. I seriously thought about getting the teaching degree then going into a different field. As far as I could see, teaching was a nearly thankless task. But there were moments. Not all of my kids gave me nightmares and anxiety. Some of them were very sweet and very trusting. I loved to see understanding flash in eyes as I taught. I liked to see the happy faces who were eager to learn first thing in the morning. I liked to a long thought out lesson go over well (that does not always happen). There were moments.
     Throughout that year, I found myself lamenting the unfairness of my situation. Why was my class so hard? Why was I losing sleep? Why was I not getting paid for the sometimes daily hell I was going through? At times, it was hard to see the positive. I had a wonderful husband working his butt off to support me while I finished school. I had a great cooperating teacher who supported me consistently and taught me a lot more than I realized. I wasn't paying rent. And, I was learning so much. 
    When I finished my practicum at the end of March I applied for a substituting job in Granite School District. It was a way to earn money and scope at job opportunities ( I had resigned myself to fact that I needed to get a job and let Nick do school even if it was sometimes awful). Almost immediately after signing the papers I was called by a principal and asked to interview for a long term sub position in fifth grade. I accepted and got the job. I was warned that this particular fifth grade class was rough and that I would have to be tough. I figured that wasn't anything new.
    I remember going in to the school to plan lessons over Spring Break. The teacher hadn't left any plans and I was kind of lost. However, I found the stuff I needed and planned enough to get me through a week. I went in the next Monday ready to be a nazi and found that this "difficult" group of kids could not hold a candle to my own class. All of the unfairness and sleeplessness of the year had made me really tough. I had learned a lot of management skills even if they hadn't worked so well in my student teaching class. I was fine. 
    That difficult fifth grade class and my behavior management led to my current job. In fact, I have the same classroom that I long term subbed in. My first year of teaching was hard but it had more to do with learning to do everything than it did with the kids. As far as I was concerned, my class was angelic. They did what I asked, they liked each other, the tried, no one had a swearing fit in the back of the room, it was great. And, this year is even better.
     Looking back on that painful year of student teaching I am so grateful that I had the experience as well as the support that I did. Without it, I don't know that I would love my job as much as I do. Teaching is still hard and under-appreciated but I love it. So far, the pain and the pleasure has balanced out. It didn't all happen right away but the bad was worth the good.

    I think the same principle must apply to everything because, as I said earlier, God is fair even if life isn't. For some things, the recompense isn't going to come in this life. We may have to wait for the next. We need to remember that God is just, that he is fair, and that he loves us.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Proposal

      As a child and a teenager there were a lot of things that I thought I wouldn't do. I thought it was embarrassing to live at home after you graduated high school, I thought it was crazy to plan a wedding before a proposal, and I thought that people should get married quickly and have children right away. The older I got, and as I faced some of these choices, my preconceived notions ideas began to shift. I began to understand why one might ride the gravy train, or plan a wedding before a proposal, or not have kids right away.
Time with my family :)
   I did leave home, in a manner of speaking, when I graduated. I went all the way to the dorms downtown and I only came home three or four times a week. I was independent see, and I only needed to go home for food, laundry, comfort, boredom, and family. That was it, the rest I could handle on my own. My second year of college, I was offered a second dorm scholarship, I didn't even want it. I decided to trax down to the U every day because I enjoyed living with my family. I liked going home at
night to people I wanted to be around. The food was better, I had the chance to save money, and I knew that the time we had as whole family (with everyone still home) was quickly coming to an end. I was able to buy a car, I was able to make a lot of my own choices, and I was able to go to school. Living with my family did not turn out to be as embarrassing as my teenage brain had always thought it would be. And now, I look back on those last couple of years at home and am grateful that I had them. For currently, I am truly independent. I only go home two or three times a week for food, boredom and family. (I do my own laundry now.)
    Now, I remember watching people I know plan their whole weddings before a ring was given. I thought that was nuts. Was it really so difficult to get engaged before planning the big day? It turns out that yes, yes it can be. I'm sure I'm repeating some earlier post, but I decided to go to Thailand about 11 days before Nick got home from his mission. While he was gone, I had, like he told me to, dated other guys (some more seriously than others). I also had made a lot of male friends. I had been treated very differently by all of them. Amongst many of them, I was practically one of the guys. That is a position I never really minded but hardly the way a potential girlfriend wanted to be treated. By others, I was treaded carefully around. I got the feeling that they were not quite sure how to treat me. I wasn't a flirt, I never played dumb, and I wasn't particularly encouraging. By others I was just treated like a friend. That was the most comfortable position to be in because there were no unspoken expectations. There were a few, who genuinely liked me, that I might have been able to love  had I not still been wrapped around the finger of my absent missionary. Nick had always treated me like his princess and I couldn't find anyone while he was gone who came close to making me feel as important as he did. (Remember I am a red I need to feel important).
Sketchy "motel"
     Anyway, whew that was quite the tangent, the day Nick got home from his mission I had finally gotten into an air conditioned room at our sketchy "motel" on Kho Phi Phi (an island in the middle of
the Adamon Sea off the coast of central Thailand). I didn't hear anything from him right away and was slightly heartbroken, which I probably deserved, but that is another story (I later realized that I had a different e-mail address then when he left). I eventually heard from him and was able to actually talk to him for the first time in two years. I felt the same. I still loved him, even without seeing him I knew I still loved him. He felt the same. Between May and August of that summer we communicated via skype and facebook. We knew we were going to get married when I got home but I made him promise he would not propose over skype (not that he would have but I needed to make sure). He did inform me over skype that he had asked my parents if he could marry me so I really wasn't sure what his limits were. We planned almost our whole wedding on-line.
   I was one of those people I had always considered crazy. Wedding date was picked, wedding was planned, I was yet to be engaged. In fact I hadn't even seen him for 28 months. When I finally got home on August 17th, we were pretty ecstatic to see one another. I knew he was going to propose sometime soon because we had less than two months before the wedding. I suspected it would be on my birthday (Sept. 4) but he couldn't wait that long. He proposed on August 19th.
  He picked me up for our very suspicious date that evening and told me that we were going up the canyon for dinner. We both like fire cooked meals and fresh air and I was thinking that that would be a nice place to be proposed to. Unfortunately, it was the last weekend of summer vacation and everyone and their dog was having a fire cooked meal up the canyon that night. After driving up all three major canyons in the Salt Lake Valley without finding an empty table Nick gave up and decided we would go out to eat. Which was sad because he had planned such a romantic fire cooked Asian meal. We ended up getting take out Italian and eating on the lawn of a park in Draper. The park had a view of the whole valley and it was fun to be able to see it all while eating pasta and drinking guava juice from fancy glasses. We talked about our future watched the sunset and Nick looked into my eyes and said, "ready to go?"
     I was baffled. I was sure he was going to propose. I thought maybe I had gotten it wrong and he was being sneakier than usual. We cleaned up, got in the car, and started heading up the mountain rather than down. He drove me to the Draper temple, it clicked. We got out of the car, he took me to a secluded bench and told me how much he loved me. He held my hands and said, "Well, lets go."
     I couldn't figure out what he was doing. It did cross my mind that he wasn't even trying to make me think he was going to propose and that I was just paranoid. We got back to my house and I figured I had been mistaken. We walked to my back porch and there sitting on top of tub of cheesecake ice cream was a ring box. He picked it up kneeled down and proposed for real. I can't remember what he said because I was actually surprised and a little busy bawling my eyes out. I remember putting the ring on and pulling him to his feet. (A little background knowledge. My back porch was the place we had our first kiss. A rather unfortunate over-planned incident in which my sister saw more than she wanted too ha ha.) We went inside and told my parents and he called his parents and we lived happily every after, so far.
     As for kids, I quickly learned that everyone is on their own timetable for children. Some people want them and have to wait (for various reasons). Others have them before they mean too. Some plan them and have them. The Lord guides and directs individuals and we try to listen. We do want children more than anything but we don't think the time is here yet. So, unlike my teenage self, I no longer think there is a right way of doing many things. There is a right way for individuals however, if we are willing to turn to the Lord and find out what it is.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Best Two years

    Before Nick and I got married, I thought I knew just about everything there was to know about both of us. I definitely thought we had a leg up on most couples because we had already known each other for 10 years. I still think our extensive friendship made the transition more natural but that didn't mean there wasn't stuff to learn.    
  Growing up in the Mormon bubble and the wayward world led to a lot of different and conflicting ideas about marriage. On the one hand, the world sells the idea that marriage is a relationship of convenience. It is meant to enrich ones life but can be ended or thrown away if it becomes difficult, or inconvenient to ones personal desires and goals. The church, on the other hand, teaches the opposite. Marriage is one of the primary reasons that we were sent to earth. Marriage to a worthy spouse is to be sought after, nurtured, and put at the top of one's priority list. On Monday I will have been married for two years. In those two years I have learned a lot about myself, about Nick, and about what marriage can be if we let it.
      One of the first things I learned during our first year was about me. I had never considered myself overly sensitive. I had always kind of been a say what you think and mean what you say type of person. But, the rules changed when I was with Nick. As much as I had always appreciated when people were blunt with me, and vis versa, I could not handle him being overly blunt with me. This served me right because I was suddenly married to someone who was as open and tactless as I was. I learned what kind of effect words can have on a person regardless of how they were meant. This taught me to be more careful and patient with others. And, to keep my mouth shut when my point is mute.
    On the other hand, the open bluntness we both jumped into marriage with, has saved us what I would guess could have been a lot of time and pain. If one of us has a problem with the other we have learned to discuss it quickly and tactfully. Nick knows that sometimes I just need to say something to feel better and I know that he is never trying to hurt my feelings.
    Another thing I have learned, has to do with running our marriage smoothly. Early on, I realized that the way in which I treated Nick often dictated the way he acted. If I was grumpy or corse with him he quickly became grumpy and corse. If I was to busy to give him attention he reciprocated. When I made him a priority and treated him like a hero, he acted like a hero and would put down his work long enough to spend time with me. I thought I had it down. I just had to treat him the way I wanted to be treated and everything would be fine. However, one day I realized that it wasn't all up to me like I had arrogantly supposed. I definitely had a huge impact on the mood of the marriage but he had the same influence over me that I had over him. I mimicked his actions and reciprocated his attitude as much as he lived up to my expectations. This has led to having our highs be very high and our lows be very low. If one of us came home grumpy the other quickly followed suite. If one of us was happy and full of gratitude the other usually started feeling the same. We have discussed this particular point several times and have learned to be positive as often as possible. We try to pull each other up instead of down and we work as hard as we can to put each other first always.
   This leads me to my third point. Marriage can't be selfish or it's miserable. When we first got married it was an interesting jump to worry about another person when before we had only had to worry about ourselves. How can I put both of us first? I used to wonder when I thought about our different jobs and schedules and needs. Then one day it hit me. I couldn't. I could only put one of us first and it had to be him. So, I really tried to do it. I thought about how I could meet his needs, and make his life better, and be what he needed me to be. I noticed two things. First, he became happier because all of his needs were being met. Second, I was fine too because he had been doing the same thing for me since day one. In essence, when we both put each other first, all of our needs are met and we grow closer together in love (gag).
      My next point, has everything to do with relying on the third party in our marriage. Everything goes better when we trust Heavenly Father to lead and guide us. In order to that we need to be ready to be led and guided. We try to go to the temple regularly, we read our scriptures together, we pray daily, and we go to church. Every time one or both of us falls out of one of these habits we can both feel it. We drift apart from each other and from God. This makes days harder, longer, less peaceful, less productive, and less healthy (emotionally and physically). The trick is to pinpoint the problem and rectify it as soon as possible.
    After two years, I am so grateful for Nick. People told me before we got married that the first year was the best. I thought that was a bit depressing because ideally people only have one first year of marriage. I thought that if the first was the best then what on earth could people look forward too for the rest of their lives? So far, I disagree with those skeptics. The second year was better. We learned a lot. We experienced the death of a loved one, we bought a house, we remodeled a house, we traded roles, and we got to know each other even better. I expect things will continue to improve and I look forward to our third year of marriage.