Sunday, April 24, 2016

Life is Like an Overgrown Currant Bush

Recently, my husband and I faced a serious disappointment. We had been working toward something for several years, and had gotten so close to fulfilling our dream. And then, after all of the hours and days and months and years of hard work, we got our answer. "No."

Really? No?! After everything we put into this, we get a no? It was really hard to face that gut-wrenching outcome. But that was our new reality. There was some anger and bitterness, and a few tears. And then my husband told me a story he had heard many years before of an overgrown currant bush, told by Hugh B. Brown back in 1973. His story, "The Currant Bush" from LDS.org, follows:

I was living up in Canada. I had purchased a farm. It was run-down. I went out one morning and saw a currant bush. It had grown up over six feet high. It was going all to wood. There were no blossoms and no currants. I was raised on a fruit farm in Salt Lake before we went to Canada, and I knew what ought to happen to that currant bush. So I got some pruning shears and went after it, and I cut it down, and pruned it, and clipped it back until there was nothing left but a little clump of stumps. It was just coming daylight, and I thought I saw on top of each of these little stumps what appeared to be a tear, and I thought the currant bush was crying. I was kind of simpleminded (and I haven’t entirely gotten over it), and I looked at it, and smiled, and said, “What are you crying about?” You know, I thought I heard that currant bush talk. And I thought I heard it say this: “How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth. I was almost as big as the shade tree and the fruit tree that are inside the fence, and now you have cut me down. Every plant in the garden will look down on me, because I didn’t make what I should have made. How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here.” That’s what I thought I heard the currant bush say, and I thought it so much that I answered. I said, “Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn’t intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and some day, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down, for caring enough about me to hurt me. Thank you, Mr. Gardener.’”

(You can read the whole story here.)

Elder Brown goes on to talk about a time many years later when he was serving in the Canadian Army. He was eligible for a promotion to General, and had been working toward that rank for 10 years. When he went in for the interview, he was told that he was completely qualified for the promotion but would not be receiving it due to his being a Mormon. In his following moments of bitterness, he remembered the conversation he'd had with his overgrown currant bush. Only this time, he was the bush that had grown so tall, and the Master, the gardener.

I have no doubt that there's something for us to learn from all of this. That lofty goal that we had and almost achieved must not have been part of His plan. And although it is so heartbreaking right now, I have faith that there will come a time when we will thank our Gardener for cutting us down.

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

One month ago, I honestly felt like I was on the verge of a mental break-down. Staying home with three kids all day every day is no joke. And it's worse when Forrest is out of town or doesn't get to be home for the weekend. I often find myself feeling completely starved for adult interaction. I have a hard time focusing on anything for an extended period of time. Even when I'm away from the kids, I find myself constantly looking around and worrying about where they are and what kind of mortal danger they are in.
Not that anything is really that bad. I absolutely love my life and I adore my kids, but some days (LOTS of days, actually) are just really hard. I live for those precious hours of nap time and after the kids' bed time, but it always passes too quickly with me not getting to most of what I needed to get done. And two weeks ago I was at the end of my rope. Maybe it's because I knew vacation was right around the corner.
Oh blessed vacation. Up until the moment we left, I had never spent a night away from Juliet. I'd left the twins for a couple of nights here and there, but this was 8 completely kid-free days! Completely glorious. (A huge shout-out here to my amazing mother-in-law who took a week of her own vacation days to come and stay with my kids, and to my awesome sisters and parents who took them the last couple of days. Seriously, family is the best.) 
I expected to be a little sad when I left the kids, but walking out that front door and heading to the airport knowing it was just going to be the two of us for over a week felt oh-so-good. Clearly, it was a much needed break.
We flew into Washington DC and stayed with my little sister and her darling family in Virginia. We all drove to NYC for the weekend and had a total blast. We ate Cheesestakes in Philly, got hot-dogs from a street vendor, walked through Central Park, and rode the subway. (We also ate some incredible pizza, bagels and pretzels but I didn't want to make it sound like all we did was eat!) Totally worth the $60+ we had to pay in tolls to get there.


We returned to Virginia for a delicious Easter feast, then Forrest and I headed to North Carolina for a couple of days. Oh, the beauty. I love that place. We went on an early morning run in 65 degrees as the sun was coming up. Amazing. We ate some more really great food. Also amazing.
Back to Virginia and DC with miles upon miles of the most gorgeous cherry blossoms. I could have stared at them for days. Oh, and did I mention traffic? 
We had the best time. Traveling with my #1 makes my heart happy. And getting to visit with family makes it even better! At the end of 8 action-packed days, though, I was ready to return to my mental-breakdown causing children. 
Being home has been so great! I missed those three so much it made my heart ache. When I walked in to see them Charlie ran up the stairs and hugged me and for at least a minute kept saying "Hi! Hi mom! Hi! Hi!" It was the best. 
But seriously, I feel like a whole new person. Like mom 2.0. Moral of the story = vacations are good for the soul.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Juliet turns 1!

A few weeks ago we celebrated our baby girl turning 1! We had a small party at our place with family and Juliet was the star of the show. We ate Shepherd's Pie (her favorite food), opened presents (she loved putting the gift bags on her head), and ate cake and ice cream.


The cute birthday girl! Her favorite part of her birthday was getting to wear that crown on her head. *Not*


She loved her cake! I made it myself (the first one I've ever attempted) and though it's far from perfect, I was pretty happy with the way it turned out. 


She loved opening her presents and giving everything she pulled out to her daddy. She was easily distracted by the bags, boxes and tissue paper so it took a lot of re-focusing to get through this part! It was such a fun day, and the perfect way to celebrate our little lady!

A little about 1-year old Juliet

Likes:
Her crib/sleeping
Sucking on her fingers
Shepherd's Pie
Bikes
Babies
Yogurt
Chicken Nuggets

Dislikes:
Loud noises
Rough-housing
Not getting to go outside
Being left behind
Having her nose wiped or teeth looked at

Skills:
Climbing
Going up and down stairs
Clicking her tongue
Blowing raspberries
Walking
Jumping in her crib

Words:
Baby
Ball
Uh-oh
Mama
Dada
Ooh
Woah