25 May 2008

Wallet, cell phone, camera. Wallet, cell phone, camera

It took me a few days to recover from jet-lag when we returned home. It took me a week to start carrying my cell phone again. I have to admit, that was mostly intentional. I hate carrying a cell phone. But, we've been home for 3 weeks, and I'm still not remembering to carry my camera with me, or even take pictures when we're home! I don't know why it's been so hard to find our groove, but it certainly is taking us some time! I just now feel like I've gotten back into doing my Primary calling, (and wow, what a weekend it was!) visiting my RS sisters, and having people over. Anyway, it's been a crazy week, but besides the camera thing, I do feel like we're finally getting back to normal.

We had people for dinner Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and a big playgroup on Friday morning. Our house was full, fun, and surprisingly tidy, considering the traffic flow!

Jeff invited Chris and Lindsey over for Monday night dinner, when they met at church on Sunday. I didn't get to meet them until they showed up, but it never really seems to make a difference. They live in Woodscross, UT, and are back here visiting Chris' old mission areas all over Thailand. We caught them the day before they finished their two week tour, so it was fun to hear about all the places they'd visited and the people they'd seen. I was especially impressed by how adventurous Lindsey was. She tasted everything, traveled every way possible, and just took it all in. It's rare to find someone who can really appreciate it all when only being here for such a short time. Jeff and I feel lucky that our own visitors have all been this way too.

So, guess what we figured out shortly after they arrived? Lindsey is a nurse for the doctor in SLC who I was with for my entire pregnancy with Jane. Sounds like I just missed her by a matter of months. I'm hoping she'll still be there when we return to Utah. She was a LOT of fun. We had a great time visiting with them both, and thought it was funny how similar Chris was to our brother-in-law, Luke. And it was more than just the good teeth!

Tuesday, we had the George family over for dinner. We had scheduled them to come at 6pm, but when they hadn't arrived, I called to make sure they remembered how to get here. They were just leaving, and although their place isn't that far away, traveling by taxi that time of night in the city takes forever. So, they arrived at 7:30 and we had a nice spaghetti dinner. It's a little hard to know what to cook for people from completely different countries. I opted for something I felt was safe, and luckily they ate it. When we eat at their place, we never quite know what everything is, most food we like, but some we eat to be polite. I think it was the same case with them. They didn't think Diran would eat the pasta, but he surprised us all and dug right in. Yay!

George, Mary, and Diran will leave in 2 weeks for Holland. We're sad to lose them, but they are thrilled that they can finally move on with their lives! They've been here for 1 1/2 years under refugee status, which means living off very little and not being allowed to work. George is anxious to finally be able to work each day and provide for his family once again. Mary is excited to have her baby in September and get Diran started in school. They both plan to study Dutch as soon as they can. I'm so excited for all that lays ahead for them!

We did remember to take a lot of pictures this evening, so we can leave them with some before they leave! She just found out since they were over that they are having another boy! She was hoping for a girl (which is considered the perfect family over here), but I think two boys in a row will be fantastic! And now that we know... let the shopping begin!

George specifically wanted a picture of him and Jeff. I think he really looks up to Jeff. When Jeff was bearded, George showed up one week having let his grow out as well. He pointed it out that he looked like Brother Jeff. Mary laughed and said they both looked like Jesus. Two weeks later, they were both clean-shaven once again.

I know I'm depressing when I talk about goodbyes. I just can't get over that we've met so many people here that we will never see again. I honestly hope George and Mary don't fit in that category, but you just never know.

This week, I've been thinking about how when we leave here, we will have been here about the same amount of time we were in our West Jordan home. I wondered if I would have done things differently if I would have known our time there would be so short. Would I have invited people over more often? Would I have gotten to know each neighbor better? Would I have organized playgroups, babysat for the neighbors, or visited more openly with random mothers at the park? Would we have finally gone to see the Kennecott Copper mine, gone for long drives in the canyon, camped throughout the summer, or taken a day to go skiing in the "greatest snow on earth"? Since we've known our time here was limited, we've tried to make every day count. I don't know if I did that as much there. I should have, and I like to think when we finally return, we will. I don't feel like we wasted our time there; we made fantastic friends, spent lots of time with family and were very involved, but being here has made me see things in a different light. People aren't always going to be there. They move in and move out. I am learning I just can't procrastinate some things like I may have in the past.

I love catching my kids doing this. It's pretty normal for Jack to spend time reading to himself each day, but Jane's just starting to really enjoy it as well.

After spending more than 8 hours straight at the church today, I'm beat. It was a very successful day, but my goodness, who knew preparing a sharing time, organizing last minute nursery leaders, preparing a musical number that the bishopric forgot about, baking cinnamon rolls, preparing fruit and veggie platters, and conducting a "Great to be EIGHT!" program could be so tiring? Also, today was our last day in our church building, so after all this, we had to pack up all our cupboards to move to the new church. We are SO excited to temporarily have a little more space, particularly for the nursery kids, even if the building is a lot further away (30 min. vs 10 min.). It will be worth it!

I've put together a video of our Utah trip. It's all done, except for the hard part. The music. I'm running out of ideas and songs that actually work. SO, I need suggestions. Really. I know everyone has different tastes, and that's exactly what I would like. But, think... family friendly, upbeat, and fun. Either leave a comment, or email me your favorites. The only songs I have in my head lately are the terrible arrangements of Wham! and Michael Jackson songs, performed on the marimba, that they play at the grocery store. Ouch!

18 May 2008

Too many goodbyes

My kids are cute. There's no denying it.

Watching them play together makes my role as "referee" all worth it!

This is a classic Jack picture. In his underpants with his latest creation. I think he was surfing down the bedsheets or something.

Our week basically went like this: Wake up, take Jack to school, run errands, pick Jack up, afternoon activity, dinner, bed. Does this sound like anyone else's days this week? Our routine is getting a little bit... routine. We haven't done anything much to mix it up since we've returned home. Basically, just getting back into our routine has been adventure enough.

Yesterday turned out to be our best day of the week. Jeff was able to meet up with a new missionary, Elder Yeats, (his companion had a meeting) to go and teach several different families throughout the morning and afternoon. I had NO idea what I was going to do with the kids all day Saturday. So, when Wyatt called and said he and his friend were coming to stay for the weekend, I was thrilled! We had a GREAT day together, that ended even better.

Wyatt is from Lake Town, UT (right near Bear Lake) and has been studying in Bangkok for the last 5 months. We were lucky enough to have him over for dinner his first Sunday in the city, and we regret that we haven't had him since! Luckily, he's been in Primary with me and we've all gotten to be great friends, so we were so happy he let us house him for his last couple of nights in town before heading back home. His friend, Ming Wei, is from Taiwan, where Wyatt served his mission. Ming Wei was baptized 3 days before he left Taiwan to come to Bangkok to work. The Elder who baptized him is the son of one of the families in our ward here. Can you believe what a small world it is? I think Ming Wei and Wyatt met his first Sunday here and they quickly became very close friends. Probably closer to brothers. They even wore matching ties to church today. I love it!

Anyway, they wanted to go shopping yesterday, so we all went out to lunch at Sizzler together, which turned out to be extremely easy even without Jeff because these two are so helpful! The kids knew Wyatt already, but I was surprised at how well they took to Ming Wei too, quite unusual for Jane right now. We're happy that Ming Wei is in Bangkok for a while. Although he doesn't speak a lot of English, it's definitely enough to get by and we're hoping he'll want to practice his language at our house. We've LOVED having him and Wyatt over.

We walked down the road a bit to our friend's tailor shop that just opened. I've talked about Dypu some on my post about our friend's wedding. He loves Jane, and Jane loves him (although she was quite tired in this photo). He loved having our crazy kids in his quiet shop, and I think I found a fabric I want Jeff to make a suit out of. Fun and productive!

Jeff finally got home at 5pm and I was thrilled the missionaries could fit in dinner with us too. Elders Yeats and Olson came over for a fun chat over pizza. It's so funny to have them over because I always feel SUPER old when the missionaries are over. Old at 28. It doesn't make sense. I wished I would have gotten a picture because despite feeling "old", I also just think it's hilarious that we're all just a bunch of kids. Sometimes I feel like we're just playing house!

So, today I've been thinking a lot about goodbyes. Tonight, we say goodbye to Wyatt. Next month we say goodbye to George and Mary who will leave for Holland. Soon we will also say goodbye to Ashley and Vibushen who have been accepted this week by Canada. They are the brothers who call us Uncle and Auntie. I love that. Wyatt and I were talking tonight about how much we hate saying goodbye to people. It's just not fun. It can be really hard, but as Wyatt put it, "but sometimes, do you really care?". Honestly, sometimes it's not that hard. Some people come into our lives and we enjoy them while they are with us, learn what we can, and have great memories together, but it's easy to accept that that was our experience together. Other people are different. Other people we truly connect with and genuinely care for. We care about where life takes them next, we want to make sure they are taken care of, treated well, and are as happy as they deserve. Some days I wish I didn't have so many people I care about. Life would be easier if I could just say "goodbye" and move on. If I didn't think of them again. If I didn't remember the way I felt when I was with them, the good laughs we shared, or the way they've changed me. My heart wouldn't hurt when I face the fact that our goodbyes here are quite definite. It's hard to say goodbye. It would be easier if I didn't care. But, I am grateful that I do.

Remember this guy? He's back.

11 May 2008

What a blessing

Chances are, if you are taking the time to read my blog, you are probably someone who has affected me as a mother. Not only do I have two of the best mothers in the world, I have Grandmas, Aunts, cousins, and sisters who never fail to amaze me as they do astounding things with their everyday lives. Thank you to all the mothers out there, as well as the men who have helped me become a better mother.

I truly believe there is nothing more important in this world than being a mother. I feel extremely blessed to have two little ones that I get to care for, play with, and learn from each day. Who could ask for better teachers of patience? Selflessness? And surely, nothing is more humbling than holding a precious infant in my arms and knowing that my Father in Heaven has entrusted me with His child. Being a mother is a blessing. So, to Jack and Jane, thank you for letting me be yours.

A little distracted

We're finally starting to get back into real life here, since our three wonderful weeks full of family, friends, and fun times had to end. I always have a hard time refocusing after a trip like that. As I'm trying to do laundry, take Jack to school, unpack, and go to swimming lessons, my mind is really just recalling all the fun days with cousins, grandparents, cooler weather, and having Jeff with us all day! So, as I’ve tried my best to have a successful “re-entry”, here’s what I’ve really been thinking about.

- Jack having cousins to play with first thing in the morning.

- Backyards to play in whenever we want.

- Jacket weather, plus SNOW!

- Discovering that Jane loves the sound of a passing train as much as I do (she still thinks she’s hearing it when the horns honk for a long time. Her whole face lights up!).

- Getting to know my darling new sister-in-law, Danielle and her family!

- Visiting with Jesse about marriage, finances, parenthood, and life in general. I loved this moment of my kids with their Uncle Jesse. I love my brother.

- Meeting my niece, Hailey, for the first time. She even got over her stranger anxiety long enough for me to hold her a few times. (Hailey, Jane, and Ellie in their "Birthday" dresses).

- Being with my sisters. Particularly playing our violins together at the luncheon and reception. Our rehearsal the night before was pretty memorable as well. Unfortunately, Jesse wouldn’t allow us to perform our MC Hammer routine for the guests. He’s just so serious sometimes!

- Running the SLC Half-marathon. It was hard, windy, and I never quite got my race-day adrenaline for some reason, but it was just more motivating for me to train even better for the next one.

- My last training run on the Jordan River Parkway. It was a cold and gorgeous morning!

- Jane’s English improving by leaps and bounds while around so many native speakers.

- Being in the St. George Temple with my entire family.

- Seeing so many people from my parent’s neighborhood. I love the Grandview 6th ward!

- Visiting with family late into the night.

- Christian “claiming” Jane has his. Those two really have a cute bond.

- Jack seeing one of his oldest friends from the neighborhood and me getting to visit with her mom!

- Family prayer. And I mean the WHOLE family.

- Jeff spending time with his brothers.

- Throwing Jesse in the hotel swimming pool. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of that event, but Vanessa’s got a bunch I can hopefully put in our video eventually.

- Jack and Ellie exploring in the backyard together for an hour, while we all enjoyed a nice visit. This isn't in the backyard, but it was a cute picture of them anyway.

- Jack voluntarily getting out his violin to fiddle with Grandpa and Daddy.

- Driving a car. Although, I did make a tight left turn on Freedom Blvd. in Provo and got a long honk for driving on the “Thai” side of the road. That made me a little nervous, but generally, I’m an excellent driver!

- Cousins day at Auntie Fay’s home.

- Jack going geocaching with Dad Hillman. Those two make quite a team.

- Birthday party for everyone at the Hillmans. We wore party hats, did a piƱata, went on an egg hunt, ate cake, and opened presents. It was a fun way to celebrate all together, even when we’re only all together once a year.

- Having strep throat the day before my birthday. Nothing a shot in the behind can’t fix!

- Driving up Provo Canyon. I LOVE Utah mountains. They are more breathtaking than ever.

- Jack rediscovering “water things” (drinking fountains) and being amazed at Grandma Hillman’s dishwasher. Apparently, he doesn’t remember having one.

- Celebrating Grandma Rich’s 97th birthday. Ever since Jack was born and we moved to her side of town, we were able to spend a lot of time with her. She watched him grow from week to week during his first 1 ½ years. I treasure that time with her and I was so happy our visit corresponded with her birthday so we didn’t have to miss another one! This woman is amazing!

- Travel was easier than ever. The kids slept well, the flights weren’t all full, and we were even upgraded on the longest leg on the way back. Yay for extra leg room!

- A beautiful wedding, luncheon and reception in St. George. It was just what Jesse and Danielle deserved… perfect!

- FANTASTIC photographers! I have never seen better! Besides their amazing bridals,temple, and reception photos, they brought their own photobooth to the reception where all the guests could go in all night and take home the photos. It was awesome, and I think I went in at least 5 times with different family members. If you want photos you will treasure forever, check them out at www.funnyfacephoto.com. Also, you can view the evening’s photobooth pictures at www.funnyfacephotobooth.com. (The password is “ninja”). My personal favorites are the ones of the sisters with Jesse. He’s such a good sport!

- Celebrating my Jack’s 5th birthday. Although he’s been in school for a year, it’s still a shock to me that I have a child who is “kindergarten age”! When did I grow up?

- Also, since Jack’s actual birthday was on the wedding day, we did his party on MY birthday (happy 28th to me!). Like I’ve said before, I don’t really like my birthday, but having Jack’s party with grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles on that day made my day fantastic! I couldn’t ask for more than just to all be together! Can you gather the “super hero” theme from the pictures?

Here's a picture of the "super hero training course" designed by Jeff and Andrew. Swing over the piranha pond, crawl through the bat cave, up the ladder, practice a super jump, cross the lava bridge, smash the balloon (missing, but the funniest part by far), and tackle the evil ninja bear. It was a HIT!

- Having at least 10 different kinds of cookies in the cupboards at the Rich’s house. (Jeff’s addition, of course!)

- Meeting the Elders who will be staying with Mom and Dad Hillman. What a great experience that will be for all involved!

- Delicious Mexican food.

- We toured our church's Welfare Square for the first time, and wow, was that impressive. It's amazing the organization and preparation that has been in place for decades, ready to assist those in need. What wonderful facilities and programs. And, these Sister Missionaries were darling with our group. As you can see, Jack felt right at home with these beautiful girls.

- Jane swinging and swinging and swinging. Her belly laugh will never get old!

- Seeing my brother be SO happy, and a little silly, with his new bride. We love you, Danielle!

- And I couldn't resist sharing this one of most of the Rich grandkids right before leaving for the wedding. They were looking so cute, but are of course, a bunch of goofs. I love how it doesn't take them even a second to warm up to each other, even when they only get to be together once a year. It's like they've always just lived down the street from each other. Maybe someday they will.

So, as you can see, I’ve been thinking about our trip a lot. It was harder to say goodbye this time than last for some reason. BUT, life has to move on, and so will we… eventually.

Please remember my sister, Vanessa, in your prayers this week. She has been in the hospital due to blood clots in her lungs for the last several days. She is now on the mend and hopes to return home on Monday, but as we’ve learned from our mom’s experience, it’s a long road. Thanks to my amazing mother hopping a plane to save the day, we are confident Vanessa will get the rest and care that she needs to fully recover. We love you, Vaness!

04 May 2008

...and we're back!

With only 3 weeks to be with our family, who wants to be sitting at a computer uploading pictures? Not me. I've gotten way behind, and I will continue to be for a little longer as we "re-enter" real life once again.

Travel went really well coming home. The kids walked all over the airports, slept when they were tired, and we all turned into a bunch of temporary couch potatoes during the flights. That was by far the easiest flight we've had, yet it is still nice to think that we don't need to do it again until December! We arrived late last night (Saturday) and got to bed around 2am this morning, yet were still able to make it to Sunday meetings, thank goodness. We really missed our ward here, and I was amazed at how well Jack and Jane did! We've spent the day napping (a little) and bumming around the apartment, and in an effort to not fall asleep too early, we got almost all of our stuff unpacked. It is nice to be home.

Best news of the day... our dear friends, George and Mary, have been accepted by Holland and will move in July! This is a HUGE thing for refugees here who are either accepted by a country, stay here illegally, or have to return to unsafe conditions in their home country. I couldn't be more thrilled to say goodbye to people we love so much!

Stay tuned for highlights of our trip full of memories!