Journal entry (back when I kept a daily journal…) December 11, 2010:
“I’m grateful for the many prayers that have been and are said on my behalf. About 6pm tonight, I felt this incredible peace fill my soul and happiness commenced. This week has been an emotional epoch. I had trouble eating (stress), random heartaches mingled with tears. I fasted and prayed all week long – on Friday I was offered a long term substitute teaching job for 9th grade biology for the school down the street from my house.”
That fall I began substitute teaching, all grades, trying to find my niche in education. That summer I had been rejected by the two medical schools I applied to (I know, looking back I want to shout, “you only applied to TWO schools Katie!!”) and felt like teaching was a good alternative to being a doctor.
The 9th grade biology classes I was asked to teach were alternately full of smart-A high achievers (Tuesday/Thursday) and Monday/Wednesdays I was left with children who are mostly likely in jail today; sad, but the reality of life for some people.
That particular job was scaring me straight out of teaching. I would sit in my car after work and ask myself if I could come back the next day, my life felt like a nightmare.
The week of December 11th, 2010 – I left that high school and told them I would not be taking that job. (turns out the teacher I was taking over for had hypertension…I can’t imagine why…).
Saturday evening, December 11, I took a friend with me to a birthday party. My expectations for anything were zero, I was obligatorily socializing and not staying home to map out my “okay, what’s next plan” for life.
Instantly, as I pulled up to the house, I spotted a white Honda Ridgeline plastered with surf stickers. A small voice whispered in my mind, “you know the driver of that vehicle.”
As I’ve told the story before, I was technically in a relationship and not on the prowl but, I did look pretty cute. I still remember what I had on: yellow flats, black skinny jeans and a white Ocean Pacific sweater with colored stripes across the chest (a great thrift store find).
I went straight out to the pool where most of the people were gathering.
It was totally like a scene from a movie: steam rising off the hot tub, people trickling into the party, mood lighting, I spot him twenty feet away, tanned, hunky blonde dude sitting at a table next to a laughing beautiful brunette acquaintance; except that I was totally thrilled for my beautiful brunette friend who obviously scored big. My second thought, “that’s the driver of the white truck.”
As of this day, I still can’t get my husband to tell me what he was really thinking. The tanned, hunky blonde followed me the rest of the night.
And, well, he convinced me to marry him.
So now, I’m still wondering where life will take me. I still have nightmare moments where I ask myself if I can do this another day (hello, I have a 2, 3 and 5 year old and a husband who is in school, at work or doing homework). What I don’t have is a feeling like I missed an opportunity to be a teacher, or a doctor, or a whatever else I was planning for my life before a husband and children came along.
I’ll be honest, I never thought I was mean’t for motherhood or even marriage. It was the one thing I really had a hard time seeing myself being successful in doing. There was clarity in all my other dreams. Now, I get to experience things I didn’t know I could do.
I didn’t know I’d be any good at taking photos. I didn’t know my five year old would randomly come up and give me hugs to tell me I was the best mom in the world on days I felt like a failure in life. I didn’t know my three year old would cuddle me every night and ask me to sing him 20+ songs before bed. I had no idea having a baby girl would turn me into complete goo. I had no idea that the man I married, who was a surf bum when we met (with his only goal in life: surf) would end up working and going to school for six years to support a growing family. I didn’t know we’d spend Saturday afternoons at the skatepark as a family. I didn’t know my husband would pray with me and our children every night.
I didn’t know.
Yet, somehow on a really emotionally draining week – seven years ago today – something told me that everything would be okay and I had reason to be happy.
In 1989 I wrote a very short story called, The Lonely Mouse. I was seven.
My childish creation was trying to connect how Mickey Mouse might have felt before Minnie came along.
He had a dog, but humans (and obviously mice) need more.
So in this story, he meets Minnie, they fall in love and have triplets, just in time to hear that Mickey got that dream job of his at Disneyland.
That, is my story in a nut shell.
My mother thought it was so adorable, she sent a copy to every one of our extended family for Christmas.
Twenty years later I tried re-writing the story (in a rhyming salute to Dr. Seuss who is an all time favorite) I began to write:
Lloyd P. Mouse, lived in a house right on the edge of town.
Late one night, when he turned out the light, his face made a little frown.
“I’m all alone in this cozy home, I should find a mate
I can’t go through life without a wife, what an unfortunate fate.”
Lloyd went to bed with dreams in his head of finding the perfect girl.
She would be witty, funny and pretty – a gem of a lady– a pearl.
Morning arrived – Lloyd opened his eyes as sunlight danced through his window.
He whistled a tune that rang through the room, peaking to a crescendo.
An hour later, after reading the paper, the clock said eight thirty-four.
After donning some gloves and a scarf, hmph! Tug! Lloyd scurried out the front door.
…which is how it sat for another seven or so years.
Until now. [insert grin]
I took the story and went in an entirely new direction –
which cannot be revealed until after Christmas, because I had it printed out and my family reads my blog. I’ll give you this:
I would like to thank the folks of flickr – I took a lot of awesome photos from you and used Preview on my Macbook to cut and paste my little characters. I will make zero profit off this story, as it was only intended for my family as a DIY gift.
Should I ever hope to make a profit from this story, the photos would have to be changed entirely, as I do not hold the rights to any of the ‘backgrounds.’
Our Protagonists are fighting the odds, making their way towards the promise that lay in the future…one day at a time.
Can I tell you about the last few months? Then I will tell you about all the beautiful souls who helped us along the way.
Things were supposed to be really good for us, after a tough Spring and Summer, when fall came, everything would be grand. Dan would have this awesome great job and we would buy our first home!!
It was such a beautiful dream and everything was falling into place – just like dreams do – and God laughed, because like little children we were “asking our mom to open a packet of Ranch dressing mix for us to eat, because it looked so delicious – while she was busy preparing an actual meal for dinner – and she smiled at us and shook her head.”
We had several new families move into our church ‘ward’ this summer and one of those families gave us a huge pile of boxes and paper for wrapping. (then the couple who gave us all the boxes, stayed a little longer and fixed our front door!)
Things are coming together!
Ten days before we were to close on the home, Dan’s job didn’t work out, we couldn’t get our home and since we told our current landlord we were “absolutely moving” – he sold the house we were living in…
We had ten days to find a new home, we had a flea infestation, we’re packing, cleaning, looking for a new place to live, Mom got a stomach bug and the steam cleaning vacuum had to be returned three times…because it didn’t work.
Katie eventually got the steam cleaner to work by turning it on and off again. It worked for a solid 15 minutes…before it didn’t.
and as far as Mom is concerned, fleas are just as nasty as EBOLA!
Everything must be washed.
and bug bombed.
and bug bombed.
This is a sad, and somewhat comical from where I stand now, story of how to clean up after you find your small children covered in flea bites, while you have a stomach bug, during a house move.
I have had a different woman volunteer to take my children for several hours, each day the last week and a half, offers to bring us meals or help in any other way possible – here’s the kicker – without being asked for help, they just heard we were moving!
I have a visiting teacher (my previous ones are always missed!) who just moved here not long ago – we had never met – and just after being assigned to visit me, she inquired about me and found out we were moving and took my boys twice in a matter of days into her home (along with her small children) so my husband and I could tackle the cleaning and move.
Then, our home teacher called (again, another new family to the area)! Our home teacher is a new medical resident, his wife stays home with three small kids, and everyone is busy, but they wanted to help us too. Wiley is making lots of new friends.
It felt like our world had turned upside down in a time in our life when I really and truly felt like I had earned some good things in my life.
Today, I see the good things in my life.
We didn’t get the house, he didn’t get the job, we had a lot of extra physical labor and we’re all covered in flea bites…but we have been lifted by heavenly hands and helped by angelic people here in Columbia, Missouri.
It’s been nothing short of a miracle to see this kind of love. We have felt all the prayers said on our behalf and we are grateful.
I know that God is love, and He knows our needs.
I also know it’s a lot harder to feel His love, if we sit and mope about all the things that aren’t going right, so we stand up and move forward with hope.
Today at church I briefly stood before my congregation and bore my testimony of God’s love, how sometimes in His love (and infinite wisdom) He asks us to do hard things…because He knows that it will make us strong.
Motherhood has been a struggle for me lately. Particularly with my first born. He is determined to help me be strong. Really strong.
After my testimony, I returned to my seat. Wiley was so happy to see me and said, very enthusiastically, “Mom, you did a great job!” followed by a sweet little boy kiss.
Floating – his kiss and exclamation had me floating the rest of the day! (much like the hot air balloon we saw fly over our home.)
God sent me a strong willed, funny, intelligent, happy, passionate, particular and loving boy we call, ‘Wiley.’
Wiley turned 4 years old last week.
Lord knows time is flying and somedays it doesn’t fly fast enough to bedtime…
I am well and healthy today, but the entire month of April I was sick. So, as Wiley’s birthday neared, I knew he wouldn’t care if he had a party, but I wanted his day to feel really special. I wanted him to know I thought he was special.
He started his day with cartoons. I had blown up several orange balloons to litter the floor and got him four floating balloons and two dinosaur puzzles.
[go Dollar General!!!]
I had to coax him away from the TV for a morning outing – just with mom.
I took him to the grocery store and let him pick out anything he wanted! Cause, I’m money bags like that.
The birthday boy wanted fresh strawberries, raspberries, whipped cream and donuts.
He also wanted a “grown-up sippy cup” (those plastic drinking glasses with straws/screw on lids) colored orange. The boy likes orange.
I’m pretty sure most of his t-shirts are orange.
Kind of fits his personality.
After our breakfast outing, he wanted to put his dinosaur puzzles together with me. He and his little brother had hours of fun playing with the balloons. I read some books…and I let him play on the iPad, because that was just what he wanted!
Daddy took Wiley and Tyler to the “big slide park” for about two hours later in the day.
(I love, LOVE, when Dan takes them to the park – no bedtime troubles – and quiet time for mom.)
The grand finale to the birthday boy’s day was after the two babies went to bed.
Daddy made a fire in the fire ring and they roasted marshmallows!
It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten marshmallows, they aren’t my favorite.
We didn’t have cake, I pointed them out in the store, but he wanted donuts for breakfast and marshmallows for dessert; who am I to argue with the birthday King?!
Wiley stayed up late. I wish I could say it was way past his usual bedtime, but he typically refuses sleep until around 10pm every night, so it was business as usual.
Wiley finally passed out on the bed next to mommy and his sleeping baby sister.
I think for me, I reached a point where I had cried on and off for so long watching my Grandparents deteriorate, when I received the news that late last night my Grampa and close friend had passed away – I didn’t cry.
My mind is a unorganized matrix of thoughts and stories…what do I share?
For me, when I learned of his passing, my frist reaction was one of gratitude that he no longer suffers.
Grampa had been sick for a long time and had a great desire to be free of pain.
His life began, not far from where it ended, in Oklahoma.
After graduating medical school from the University of Oklahoma, he started in a small general practice up in Montana. It only took a year for Grampa to decide that general practice was not for him, so he uprooted the family again to Minnesota for his fellowship in orthopedics.
When his academic training was completed, he returned to Oklahoma and began the long road of building his private orthopedic practice, leaving gramma to shoulder the burden of raising their six kids.
Some things I know about Grampa White, he loved people, he admired hard work, and he appreciated beauty.
One of the greatest things I have to thank him for is he never asked me to do a job for him that he did not already do, and he took the time to show me.
He usually started out working side by side with me, until I got the job going as well as he would do and only then did he go off to complete another job he needed done.
When I moved in with my grandparents at the age of 18, there were many things I needed learn, about life and myself.
I lacked confidence in my intellectual capabilities and grampa pushed me onto things I didn’t think I could do.
Gramps paid for my college education, so naturally he had some say in the courses I took.
He still let me take music classes, fluff courses (kickboxing, intro to rock climbing..etc), but he had me take physics and other science courses.
I always had to take between 18 to 21 credit hours a semester – otherwise, I “had too much free time.” 🙂
The semester I only had to take 11 credits to graduate with an associates degree? He made me get a job, outside of working for him and gramma, too much free time made one idle.
He wrote the checks, but I was called into his office for many “dialogues” to discuss my grades, my goals, how I was spending my time.
I can say with absolute truth that I would not have graduated from college, doing as well as I did, without that kind of mentoring.
Like many 18-23 year olds, I lacked direction and he helped guide me down the right path.
[If for you it isn’t college, or vocational training, you need to have a skill, you need to be productive. Sitting around never accomplished anything.]
I really got to know my grampa well over the years while doing housework. Grampa would come up to me, coffee in hand, and start telling me stories while I was cleaning the kitchen.
It always seemed to be a good time to chat while I was cleaning the kitchen.
He would tell me stories about his children, his life as a doctor, the army years, et cetera. Sometimes we would talk about my future. Almost every story had a teaching moment for me to glean something from – and I did – I was listening.
Years down the road, I would sometimes feel like I had become a disappointment (it was during those waitressing years after my degree when I was trying to figure out what I really wanted out of life.)
I would recall the one conversation we had about the economics course I was taking and he would say, “hey, maybe you’ll end up studying economics at Cambridge.”
I never had a desire to study economics at Cambridge, whether some else was picking up the tab or not.
When I had fully committed to becoming a wife and mother, I never heard a disparaging remark, only kindness and love from my grampa.
I try to be the best, most well rounded, wife and mother I can be. An educated wife and mother. I try to pass along the things he taught me, because that is the best way I can repay him.
While our family was down in Texas, back in March, we met up with my sister and her soon-to-be husband for a Sunday dinner.
As it turns out, the young man my sister is marrying is a good friend of my husband’s family…isn’t it nice how that works out?
After a big family dinner I made those two sit for lots of photos – I’ll spare you – and only show you a few.
In an effort to be silly, I like to play a game where I give a scenario for their life and then I capture the look on their faces:
Scenario: “you just found out you’re having triples!”
Scenario: “You just found out you’re having a second set of triplets.”
I then told them to try to give me their best American Gothic pose:
Ah well, I can’t wait for those to tie the knot in August…a little less thrilled about the Houston heat and humidity; but then again I married in Houston on July 9th, it wasn’t any better and we survived.
SO cheers to marriage and love and all the happiness that accompanies such things.
Danny has asked me for a few weeks why I haven’t written? Well, “if you don’t have anything nice to say…”
You can go back and read my early blog posts about motherhood, they all have nothing but happiness and gratitude within.
I am going to tell you that the last few weeks have not been fun – they have been very hard for me.
My escape was always thinking about what life was like before the children came along (pooping and vomiting on everything).
College – oh I loved college – my worries were whether or not I studied enough for an exam or whether my team would win the football game – heavy stuff guys.
Traveling was much easier – there was one bag – not five – and I didn’t have to haul any extra seats or strollers around or strap any tiny humans to my chest. Hopefully not any crying (pooping or vomiting) tiny humans to my chest.
Time spent with family for reunions and weddings were much more simple. I didn’t have to worry if my child was in danger or eating to much junk food (potentially going to stay up all night with a sugar high).
I could sit and enjoy a quite afternoon with my grandparents.
It’s been months, MONTHS! since I’ve been to the Temple. Something I used to do once or twice a week – now almost never happens. I really look forward to having more time there again.
My husband is aware of my princess complex – that thing where I like people to do everything for me? Okay, but really, I loved having someone around who could do my hair for me…does my hair ever get done now? nope. Unless you count a bun or a pony tail.
I rarely leave the house (because it takes lots of bags and effort) with two small children – throw in I’m pregnant too – and you have, “I would rather lay here and read…”
So the long outdoor adventures have been replaced by long days in my house wearing pajamas.
Do I make time for silliness these days? yes, I do, but again it all occurs right here at home, in my pajamas.
There was a time I was the person in our extended family that was called upon to house sit and watch kids.
The only kids I was responsible for were the kind I could hug and kiss…then leave after a nice visit, to return home to the quiet serenity of my clean living space.
In pictures, it looks like my life was a constant party or adventure and in a way, it was.
But after a lot of time thinking about what my life used to be like, I remembered the emptiness it still held.
I don’t feel that emptiness anymore – I feel tired, overwhelmed, busy, but not empty – I am free of the longing to fill my emptiness.
My husband and children complete me in a way that brings me the greatest ups and downs that life can bring.
My sweet moments are so much sweeter, because of the hard things I endure. I sacrifice so much for these kids and the return is so much greater than a short trip or long hike in the mountains.
Kids grow up and my quiet time will return, so I’m still learning to embrace the chaos for now. Because life moves so fast and I don’t want to miss the happiness of the present.
Since our return from spring break, at least twice a week, my son has asked if we can, “go to the beach mommy?”
I know he doesn’t understand, “the nearest beach is about 18 hours away buddy.”
Yeah, our town has a pretty cute lake, with sand and he loves going there too, but it’s not the same.
The “beach” at the lake doesn’t have waves that tease you – charging after you, only to run off again – time and time again.
While we were in Texas in March we spent two afternoons down at Galveston State Park.
The first visit was with Danny’s parents. Before we stopped at the beach, we made a stop to see Danny’s grandparents in Houston.
It was the first time the great grandparents saw baby T.
Danny’s grandpa is is a man of many interests, he has a shop for his woodworking and a shop for his stained glass lamp making, where he makes Tiffany lamp replicas.
A Tiffany lamp? I didn’t know what one was until I married into this family.
My husband has been saying for years how much he wanted a lamp – well – this trip his grandfather presented a lamp he made just for us!
Had we realized how much stuff we would be hauling home, we may have packed lighter before we came…
His grandmother also gave us some lovely Moon and Star glassware (up until then, we didn’t have a salt and pepper shaker…so we were really happy to get some beautiful glass salt and pepper shakers) for us grown ups and some soft stuffed dogs for the boys.
I am reminded during visits with grandparents, that children grow very quickly and when they are gone, there will be plenty of time for hobbies and personal enrichment.
right now isn’t the time for me, but it will come soon.
I made everyone take a hundred photos…
Wiley is not really a fan of taking photos…
Dan’s not really a fan of taking “posed” photos…
After the great Grands treated us to lunch, Nona and Grambo took us to the beach.
Wiley had so much fun in the water, he didn’t want to come out even when he was teeth chattering cold.
It was a pretty warm day, but the water was about 65 degrees – which is still much warmer than the Pacific ocean!
With promises of another trip soon, Wiley reluctantly got back into the car to go back to his Papa and Gregre’s house.
The weather is still trying to figure out if it wants to be warm or cool, so we haven’t made it to the lake “beach” here yet, but it is on our summer to-do…but so is another trip to Texas, so he’ll get to see the Gulf again in a few months.