Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Wolverine's Coat and a Marriage? ...

Sister is very particular about her coats and jackets.

Sister in her preferred jacket of the day and Baby in her preferred pajamas... outside... on hot Spring day.

It's really, kind of annoying.

Like, there are melt-downs associated with the wrong coat selection or any malfunctioning pockets, zippers or hoods.

One day she told me, "I want a Wolverine coat."

This request was a little out of the blue and I tried not to look to taken back while I answered, "Well, you're a girl and that is a boy's kind of coat."

She replied, "Oh... well, it's his mom's coat... he has a mom, I'm serious," her eyes widely doe-eyed so as to add to the honesty of her comment.

(insert cry-laughing emoticon here)

I'm so glad that I write those kinds of conversations down sometimes.

I am better at remembering to take notes of all the funny and wonderful things going on when I am happy and feeling loved.

I think we are all better at anything when we feel that way.

When Marc and I were first married we were a bit selfish.

Not to ourselves, as a couple, no, we were selfish individually.

He wanted his way.

I wanted my way.

Sometimes it worked.

Sometimes it just led to fights.

I'm pretty sure I slept on the couch a good amount of time the first 5 years of marriage.

We existed together having memorable and happy times that kept us moving forward, but we weren't totally happy. We didn't totally feel loved.

Then kids came into the picture.

So then we put all our focus on the kids and blamed the kids for why we didn't go out anymore, or why we were too tired to spend time with each other after tucking the kids into bed.

And on top of the excuse of having kids we even had more of an excuse... all three of our children have Fragile X Syndrome... yup, there was no way I could put my kids second when they had this kind of challenge ahead of them.

Marc was an adult and he could handle not having my 24-hour attention.

Our kids needed us.

My kids needed me.

On top of having 3 children with special needs we also raised our niece and 2 nephews for a time and they needed a lot of love, attention, guidance, and support. So with all of this—even though Marc and I thought doing lots of family activities kept us together—we realized after giving up taking care of our niece and nephews after 8 years that we had lost what we had left of our relationship somewhere along the way.

I started realizing that Marc and I had just been surviving our marriage. We hadn't been nurturing it the way we should. I thought this was just our problem, but kids (special needs or not) have an innate ability to "feel" what is going on around them.

Their intolerance of each other seemed to stem from mine and Marc's intolerance for one another.

We all kind of zoned-out, ignoring the issues of each other and heal our own, individually.

After I had, what was almost a complete nervous breakdown, I decided to see a therapist.

She (Karla Chamberlain) helped me through a time that I had given up and thrown in the towel thinking there was no way back. My marriage wasn't great and my kids' needs were overwhelming and intimidating.

At this time of working on myself and how to help my side of the marriage I started following Marriage365 on Instagram and was inspired by their quotes that would pop up every so often. They made me think about how I was approaching my marriage and wanting Marc to be inspired too.

Marc began seeing the importance of what I was fighting for and we started seeing a therapist together. Our world changed completely.

I am amazed.

It has been a tough road with lots of great times mixed in between.

We've finally figured out how important our marriage is to our successfully raising children.

We have a "date night" once a week.


Even if it ends up being during the day while kids are at school, a quick meet-up for lunch on Marc's lunch break, a late movie on the iPad after kids are asleep, or the official "dinner and movie" kind of thing—it always happens.

It has to.

Our kids do better because we are more connected as their parents and we are able to help them through their problems and concerns instead of constantly being distracted by our own.

Our family is happier because our marriage is stronger. Not perfect—stronger—there's a difference. We are constantly making specific effort to keep our marriage strong each day. Loving your spouse is a choice and in showing that you've made that choice you show your commitment to helping them feel loved and happy.

When I was presented the opportunity to get the word out about Marriage365's online class this Wednesday I figured it was worth it to, at least, pay it forward to them for having an affect on my attitude towards my marriage.

So I'm putting their information here for you to get involved in their webcast that will be happening tomorrow, Wednesday the 18th! You can purchase the webcast and do not have to watch it live, although they, Meygan and Casey, think it is a lot more fun to join them live! You can sign up HERE and the $10 cost includes access to the webcast, a couples connecting worksheet and "20 Ways to Show Your Spouse Love" eBook!

I love life.

I love my husband.

I love my kids.

I love that we fought hard for all of it.

I love that our children are doing better because we are doing better.

I love that this whole post started because I had to tell you about  Sister wanting Wolverine's Mom's coat...

... squirrel!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Date, Rain, Reading and Water

His first date went off without a hitch.

Well, at least not any big hitches.

When the 16-passenger van pulled in front of our house I just knew that was Brother's date... It's a Utah thing, we like to go on big group dates and it's a benefit to have the family van to carpool everyone together.

Anyway, Brother had showered and was all ready to go.

You could tell he was nervously excited.

I walked down to his room to encourage him to move along so as not to make her wait and he had a bit of a panic attack. I told him he could have sweettart ropes if he would just walk upstairs to greet her.

When I was returning I saw that he had joined her at the bottom of the stairs where Marc had just let her in.

Brother had his face covered with his jacket hood, but was saying hello to his date and telling me to be quiet (smile). I handed him two treats and told him to give the second to his date and he willingly and happily did. It was just funny that all this was being done with a hood over his face...

I had closing night of Saturday's Warrior that same night so I asked his date to send any pictures she might get on the date:

It made me smile and it was made even better to hear Brother talk about his date and the things he did. He was so proud of himself for "being good." I was so proud of him for going!

As if sending Brother off on his first date wasn't enough for my mommy heart, Baby decided to add to my emotional state by showing me a Mothers Day miracle...

Just after Brother left Baby reached into her backpack that I had forgotten to check on Friday after school and pulled out an adorably beautiful bouquet of paper flowers she had made. My hear melted and I was so excited to display them... but she wouldn't let me have them... "No, my flowers!" she told me while pushing my hands away.

I was a little saddened by her reaction but was so impressed with her handiwork I could totally understand her selfishness.

Then she reached into her bag and pulled something else out of her backpack.

It was a simple pink card.

I could see it was a mother's day card so I went to grab it so I could read it and enjoy it and she wouldn't let me have that either... she then laid it on the couch and started pointing to the words while reading them to me...





She read them to me!

I started to tear up.

How could this be that my son just went on his first date and my youngest is reading her first sentence?

I really wanted to record this huge milestone so I asked her to do it for me again and she happily performed:

I can't stop watching it.

So with a full and thankful heart on the brink of happy tears from the great things our children had done that day, I set off to my last performance in Saturday's Warrior.

Closing night of a play is always bittersweet and emotions are running high anyway.

I think my emotions were on exhaustion mode.

I could hardly react because I was so happy about everything... then one of our cast members who has special needs himself said our prayer before the show and I broke down. It was such a sweet and sincere prayer and it was just the icing on the cake to all the wonderful things that people with special needs had done for me that day.

It was such a great closing night! So many great moments and I was treasuring them all as I am not sure when I'll have a chance to be on stage again.

The writer of Saturday's Warrior was even there on our closing night (he's in the photo above on the far right) and I had him sign my dad's Saturday's Warrior vinyls!

Some of us went out to eat that night to celebrate one last time as a cast and it was fun, but I realized I was completely exhausted.

Mother's Day celebration was at our house with my parents and siblings and Marc's parents.

I loved seeing Baby play ponies with Yaya!

We haven't been together as two families for a little while and it was so much fun! I had a great time and I didn't mind working through my exhaustion to make it pleasant inside since it was raining outside and our plans for the yard weren't going to work in the rain. I made Dutch Oven potatoes, home made lemonades, asparagus, veggie tray and everyone brought meat and a potluck.

It was great! I was even able to get Baby to read my Mother's Day card for everyone. She was so proud of her performance that she ran and hugged me afterwards.

Exhausted, but happy, I fell asleep to the treacherous sound of pounding and pouring rain.

I was barely able to get myself awake enough to get Brother into the shower and ready, barely, in time for his bus.

I had planned on laying back down for the 30 minutes I have between his bus leaving and Sister waking to get ready for school, but I had forgotten to let Ranger out of his room.

I opened the door to the laundry room where he sleeps and I smelled water... I walk into the room and my feet were met with cold wetness...

Our basement had flooded!

I went to the room just next to the laundry room (TV room) and my toes were wrapped in cold sponginess...

My exhaustion now turned into pity mode, orneriness and just plain anger.

Of course I would have to have something crappy happen like this after all the great things that had just gone fantastically that weekend! Why in the world would I be able to just bask in the joy of the happiness that had just happened all weekend?


I pulled out our carpet cleaner that our friends had passed onto us last year hoping that that would help pull out the water, because I knew towels weren't gonna cut it. I grudgingly moved all the furniture out of the way so I could suck up the water and for the next 3 hours I stood on the cold wet carpet trying to get all the water up. Slowly but surely the carpet was getting less spongy and now it was time to move onto the laundry room.

When Marc came home for dinner I gave him an earful of how frustrated I was and how it seems like we can never get ahead and there's always something wrong with the house, etc.

After he left I went downstairs to suck up water again and my head was swimming from exhaustion and my need to just lay down and sleep, but I didn't want to risk any mold issues.

I was in such a bad mood, so angry with God for not just letting me be happy and having to make sure something stupid happened just because... I was trying to come up with and excuse to not have our Home Teachers come over to share a spiritual lesson with us.

But, I was too exhausted to come up with anything.

So I brushed my hair into a pony tail and added some mascara to my lashes so I would look, at least, awake and came out to sit with our friends, our Home Teachers.

I walked into the living room and everyone, but Baby was sitting together in the living room... that was new.

It's usually a struggle to get our kids to sit for Family Home Evening.

Baby came and stood in the hall while we sang our opening song.

It was a beautiful sight.

I was starting to let some of my anger subside and I enjoyed my family.

Then they gave the lesson.

It was given from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's talk from the recent conference and it was EXACTLY what I needed to hear.


I highly recommend you read the entire article here, or watch it here, but this was the part that struck me last night:

"Realizing that we all have to come down from peak experiences to deal with the regular vicissitudes of life ..."

He goes on to say in the next paragraph:

"... if in the days ahead you not only see limitations in those around you but also find elements in your own life that don’t yet measure up ... please don’t be cast down in spirit and don’t give up. ... With the gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the strength of heaven to help us, we can improve, and the great thing about the gospel is we get credit for trying, even if we don’t always succeed."

I smiled and told them that I needed to hear that.

After they left I went back downstairs, tried to pull up more water and began to be grateful that the flood wasn't awful, that I was blessed to have a carpet cleaner to get the water up with, that I was happy that I thought of sprinkling baking powder while I worked to help with the water-logged carpet smell and glad that nothing in the house had been damaged.

Then I went upstairs, still exhausted mind you, but uplifted, and cuddled with Baby until she fell asleep. She would let me leave her side until she was out like the lights.

You might have to look close, but there is a smile on my face.

I just have to keep being reminded that I wouldn't know how wonderful the good is unless I know the tough too.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Be Me

My children often remind me—just by being themselves—of what's important in Our Life.

I have watched over the years as they try so hard to accomplish even the smallest of tasks.

I think of how often I've felt I don't measure up to be their mom and wonder why it wasn't someone else who was chosen who has more patience, love, organization skills, and temperance than I possess.

We, (parents) too often feel we are not enough.

We think, sometimes, if we were just like so-and-so's parents or Betty Crocker mom down the street that our kids we be better, do more, achieve greater.

Brother has been working on completing sentences at school as part of his writing skills and his communication. His teacher will send me pictures of his work sometimes.

This one that she sent me really hit me to the core.

"I thought for a moment that I could be ME!" (I really love the fact that he has a whole separate cut-out for the exclamation point.)

If that was my sentence it would have been something like, "I thought for a moment that I could FLY!" or something to that affect.

I realized with that that I am so lucky to be just me.

Brother is trapped inside a body that doesn't function properly and keeps him from doing all that he wants, yet all he wants to do is be himself.


It reminds me of this song that my mom wrote that my kids love so much.

I need to remember that just being "me" is OK and I'm important as "just me."

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Bigger Than the Dentist or Prom!!!

I have a lot to be happy about.

I really do.

So sometimes it is really hard for me to figure out why it is so hard for me to get out of my bed.

There are days when all I can do is get the kids ready for school and I sleep in between each one.

It's like I can't face the day... so I sleep through it.

Ranger seems to understand this and comes to snuggle me when I'm sleeping. He always snuggles into the crook of my legs.

That fur ball always keeps me company, whether I want him to or not...

Yesterday was a beautiful day so I forced myself to go on a hike.

I used to hate hiking, I mean, really hate it.

Poor Marc.

He loves hiking and I would go with him and even backpack... I just didn't like it much.

Ever since my back got better last year, hiking and the outdoors has been my way of de-stressing and I actually love it.

Go figure.

I usually take pictures on my hikes 1) because I am proud of myself for going and 2) I love the scenery!

Yesterday's hike with the view of Timpanogos behind me

Today's hike

And, of course, since Ranger loves to be with me he goes hiking too.

Sometimes I am not exactly sure what puts me in a state of not wanting to get out of bed, but sometimes I have a slight idea.

My life stresses me out a bit.

OK, I'll be honest... my kids stress me out a bit.

They're not horrible kids or anything, I just have a lot on my mind as far as trying to make sure all their needs are met and what-not. I got a call this morning about services for Brother and I had to sit on the phone for 30 minutes and tell them all the things our son can't do, won't do, doesn't do or will never do.

It got me.

I started to walk toward my bed with a heavy heart and heavier eyelids.

But, somehow I pushed myself to get out of the house to enjoy the sunshine on my hike, just as I had done the day before.

Ranger was practically hopping up and down when I pulled out his leash.

As I made my way up the beginning of the hill I felt like I was too tired and to just turn around. Then I made a goal to get just a bit higher than I had the day before in the same time frame, and for whatever reason, it worked.

I like hiking alone sometimes because I can just think, ponder, wonder and question.

I found myself setting aside all the things Brother doesn't, can't, won't do and realized how amazing it is that I was going to be preparing him for his first ever... wait for it... DATE!!!


I said "DATE!"

That HAS to be better than Prom OR the Dentist!

I honestly didn't think Brighton would go on a date unless I had arranged it with a girl in the neighborhood or offered to pay for the whole thing or something, but a sweet girl asked him to the Spring Fling all on her own accord!!! I didn't ask her to. She just contacted me to ask if it was OK for her to ask him.

I was asked this question at a track meet where Brother's class was included and I had just witnessed Brother doing what he does when he gets attention, and that is to fall apart, hide and scream.

That's his amazing teacher, who knows him so well and encourages him in ways that are completely amazing. It just goes to show you that not every day is peaches and roses with Brother and that when I say he melts, I really mean it. This was his reaction to the award that was given to him for participating.

After seeing him react this way I made sure to warn the girl who was asking him on this date, that he might freak out when she asks him and may even say "no" to her when she asked. She assured me that she knows what Brother is like and that it's OK with her and she still wanted to ask him out to the dance.

Lo and behold, this was about the same reaction she got when she came by the house with his favorite candy and asked him to come with her to the Spring Fling:

So, of course, Marc and I worry that he isn't going to handle it all very well, and that the date will be the most miserable experience of this girls life and wondering if we should just give her a way out of it.

It's hard to know how far to push/encourage your child, special needs or not.

I stayed up late Monday night after my play to put together a cute little gift to answer Brother's date and was so excited to show it to him in the morning.

"Out of all the fish in the sea, I'm so happy you chose me!" with some candy fish and sharks... it was so fun to put that together. It took me back to the days of helping Bryan and Kelsey with their date answers for the fun school dances!

He wasn't really impressed.

He didn't even want to give it to her because he was nervous about handing it to her.

I sent it in his backpack hoping it would get to his date somehow. (It did, thankfully.)

It's a little discouraging knowing that someone is doing something so nice for your child and your child doesn't reciprocate.

Then I get pictures like this from his teacher on their class field trip to the zoo and I am elated to see him just being a 16-year-old guy hanging out with friends.

I really need to focus on these things more often so that I can get myself out of bed.

Our Life really is good.

In fact, just a moment ago, I had spaced an activity for Sister and her little friend had forgotten too, and rushed off to not be too late, so her brother came by suggested that he walk her to the activity since his sister had already started.

How thoughtful.


I can't trust Sister yet to walk alone and this young boy, knowing this, took care of her by walking with her!

There are so many acts of service, so many kind deeds...

so many reasons to get out of bed.

I need to remember that.

The moral of this story has 4 G's:

Get out of bed,
Go do something,
focus on the Good,
and be Grateful.

I even made a printable for you in case you need to hang it on your nightstand (wink).

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Acting Up

I am amazed that I have been so neglectful as to write about my whole theater experience with "Saturday's Warrior!"

It never ceases to amaze me that you can gather a large group of 20-40 strangers into one room and tell them to sing and act in front of each other and watch as they all become close.

It's, honestly, slightly intimidating at first. You don't know these people. They don't know you and now you are supposed to put on a show for hundreds of people and make them believe you're all a family...

That's theater.

No, not acting like you're a family.

Becoming a completely nonfunctional, real one—mixed with nerves, excitement, talent, random singing moments, heart-to-hearts, near misses, embarrassing moments, laughs, tears, fears and vulnerabilities all with people you didn't know until 6 weeks ago.

Choreography Rehearsal

Staging Rehearsal

Silly Selfies at a post-rehearsal lunch party!

First fitting for my matron costume

Documenting the costume details

backstage silly

Dress rehearsal selfies
 Then there are the performances...

The pay-off for all of our hard work is hearing the audience laugh, cheer, holler, clap and sniffle. It's like magic to have an audience in front of us.

I love the "meet and greet" after the show, especially when I get to see those I know and love who have come to see me!

Me and my sister, Kirsten

Marc's parents and his cousins

Of course, my sexy hubby—he has seen it twice.

My mom and aunts and uncles! (My mom and dad came too, but I couldn't find the picture I took with them.)

My mom got me some fun gifts to tell me I did a great job—I'm all smiles obviously!

Getting a picture with the original vinyl which is one of the three my dad owns...

I love theater because I get to make friends I may never have had before, have experiences that I can't recreate and I get to dance, sing and act for people on stage. I LOVE making people smile and laugh!'

I love smiling and laughing with others too, so going out after the show to laugh about missed lines, silly blunders or just backstage craziness is also treasured.

This is my 5th play with the Scera and the second year ever being on a stage as an actor and not an entertainer with my family.

I'll always treasure the first experience I ever had being in a play and still try to stay in touch with friends from that show, but I am amazed that EVERY show I have been blessed to be a part of has changed my life for the better in some way and I've learned so much from so many people.

Addams Family The Musical

Pinkalicious (Theater for Youth)

Mary Poppins

It's A Wonderful Life

I made a promise to Marc that I wouldn't audition for any shows this summer so that I could do more backpacking with him and camping with the kids.

It's a good trade off, but there's a tad bit I'm gonna really miss about theater this summer.

I just hope I don't get too rusty over the summer and flop my auditions in the future...