30 December 2009
Colin very graciously agreed to go shopping with me recently (not just because he needed some new pants either), so we headed off to Target in Canton. I know he was thrilled when we found what we needed right away and were out of there in 20 minutes. He was ready to go home.
But, I got a gift card for Christmas (from my very generous boss) for Bed, Bath and Beyond (BB&B), a very un-boy store. I was itching to treasure hunt for a bunch of things I really did not need. Colin's response to my request to go to one more store was, "oh,...ok". Good boy.
Leaving Target, I thought for sure BB&B was east. I drove that way for a bit and determined it was the other way. A quick u-turn had us heading west until we hit Canton Center Rd, pretty much the end of the shopping area. Blast, it was east. Another u-turn and we made it, just past where we turned around the first time.
We headed first to the clearance section for the after Christmas bargains, and scored a table cloth. Then on to the kitchen, laundry, fine dishes, misc, (skipping the curtain and bedding) and lastly the bath sections. I had Colin and my own arms loaded up, spending about what the gift card value was. After about 45 minutes, we made it to the check out. Sure enough, just under the amount. While the cashier patiently waited for me to unearth my gift card, I had that icky feeling that I had not put it in my wallet. Rats. After apologizing to the cashier and to Colin, we left without the treasures.
On the way home, I just had to laugh out loud. I knew it would be funny later, so I took advantage of the frustration. Colin even laughed a little.
Brenden told me that things like that seem to happen to me, that usually I was so organized, nothing ever happened, but then when it does, it's big. Not often, just when it does, it's a doozy. Hmmmm. Really? This happens to me? That made me laugh some more. Here I was feeling like such a melon-head for forgetting the card, and Brenden shares this observation and I feel better. I am human, and as much as I try to do everything just right and keep things smooth, it does not always work that way. But my family still loves me. This is something that I am sure of. What a nice feeling.
So, the next day when I went to BB&B, I knew exactly what I wanted, quicklyand confidently handed the cashier my card (that was in my wallet, thank you very much), and smiled on my way out.
Oh, I did go to a different BB&B location, just in case the cashier was not as forgiving as my family.
08 December 2009
Some of the big ones -
Right off the bat, I decided that I should take good care of my body. I have seen the damage alcohol can do to a person and to families, so I knew I did not want to go that route. I have never regretted not giving into marketing and peer pressure to get involved with all that. And as time goes by, and I am more aware of all kinds of things that are damaging, and I love taking care of myself. Eating well and exercising are things I like to do, and I feel great. With guidance from God (and other, lesser professionals), I have learned so much, and have much to learn, I'm sure.
Hero and I got married pretty young. I was 19. LOTS of people thought we were too young. But I do not regret marrying that boy - never have, never will. We have learned and made mistakes together, and I think because we were young, we are more like one than two. I have no words to descibe how blessed I am to be sealed to him for eternity.
Each one of our children has his or her own specialness and we love them all soooo much. That being said, it has not always been a piece of cake being a mom. Those traits that make them so awesome are sometimes in conflict with my own, and they can make me crazy! I do not regret the decision to have a larger family (even though we are chronically poor) and I do not regret having each one in our family. They each are such a blessing to our family. We would not be complete without each one of them!
Joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Click http://murphysfavoritehero.blogspot.com/2009/05/living-life.html?zx=b96e9f2aa1229068 for thoughts on that.
And some of the smaller ones -
I never regret:
-spending time with my children, either one on one or as a family.
-going on dates with Hero.
-spending a little more money on quality stuff.
- reading a good book.
- learning all kinds of things, like playing the piano, how to cook, sewing, figuring out technology stuff and other great things.
- trying new things, even if they are a little intimidating.
- following a prompting to do good for someone.
- reading the scriptures and listening to the prophets.
- listening to people I love.
- working hard.
And so many more. I am grateful that I get to choose and am accountable for those choices, because I either 1-learn from the mistake, or 2-enjoy the reward. It's a great plan, that brings so much happiness.
And few regrets.
12 November 2009
First I saw 2 people raking leaves. No big deal, right? But here is the thing - They were dressed in suits. I knew who they were. They were missionaries from the Livonia Ward (I was on that side of town), and although I have never met them, I knew them. They do things like this (among other things) - Raking someone in need's leaves. I loved watching them. Having been taught by missionaries a long time ago and working with them in different capacities over the years, I know what they are about. They sacrifice their time, money, talents, comforts, etc., to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ for two years (These missionaries were men. The women serve 1 1/2 years.) at an age (19-21) that most others are focused on themselves. Watching them rake the leaves that day reminded me that serving others and serving the Lord brings the most happiness in our lives. So even though they were not serving me directly, I was blessed for having caught them in a moment of love and sacrifice.
Later that day, I saw an older (70's-ish) man riding his bike. So cool! I love to see people moving their bodies and getting out and about, whether walking, running, biking, etc. But the thing that struck me the most was that he had his cane strapped to the back of the bike. It totally made me smile! I bet his physician told him to get out and get some exercise, and here he was taking care of himself. I bet when he gets off his bike, catching his breath while getting his cane, he smiles at his accomplishment. I bet he likes being able to move as well as he does. I want to be like that. So inspiring.
That evening I saw 2 little children at a party, and I was in awe of the way they related to eachother. A little boy had walked up to a little girl and complimented her on something. Cute! I do not think they even knew one another. Was that so hard? What a great example. I love when someone compliments me, so why would I feel tounge-tied sometimes paying a compliment to another? Children are so good at saying it like it is, and although that can be a little awkward without a more mature sensor, I love their openness. Boosting other's self-esteem with sincere compliments is on my to-do list.
What do you see?
13 October 2009
Brenden is just a few short days away from being 16. That means he will be of dating age, he could be driving (but is not quite yet) and will be advanced in the priesthood to the office of Priest. Oh man, how can that be already? He has grown so much lately - physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually - but sometimes I just find it hard to believe time has come to this point. Brenden is the child that knows the rules, will challenge them if they go against what he thinks and will not hesitate to prove his point. While this can be incredibly annoying as a parent, I know that no one will EVER push Brenden around. He is strong in his standards, convictions, determinations and with his words. He is really growing into who he is going to become. He is excelling at school in eleventh grade (after many years of struggling to stay motivated), is taking his responsibilities more seriously and learning to get along in the world. I love to see this progress!
Something really cool Brenden has done recently is learn to play the organ. Several years ago I taught him piano, but he did not continue for long. A calling from Bishop Budge a few years back had him again at the piano, playing on Sundays for one of his meetings. Brenden started practicing all the time and has become an excellent sight reader. And then the next challenge came - the organ. After a few lessons, and lots of practice, he played in sacrament meeting! It was awesome! I could hardly sing, I was so pleased with him and all his hard work. He is officially a pianist and an organist. He is playing next for a youth cultural event in a few weeks.
He really is growing up.
Colin turned 13 in May. Being in the middle of the boys is probably not the easiest, but he is pretty good at it.
Colin is a natural leader. I think he is so good at it because he always wants to do what is right, and struggles with himself when he makes mistakes. He doesn't blame anyone else for his choices, and others respect that. He has been obedient from day one. It would be easy for someone to take advantage of him, but no one would - everyone likes Colin.
He is currently the Deacon's Quorum president, which gives him lots of opportunity to lead and serve. Just last week, while preparing to pass the sacrament, he helped the newest Deacon make sure he knew just what was expected of him, even helping him fix his tie.
What a guy.
Liam is now 12. Such an important age for a child. He is now a priesthood holder (the newest in our ward), which comes with lots of responsibilities. I'm not sure he is quite ready to take all these on, as he is used to being the "baby" of the family. But he is warming up to it.
It is very rare to see Liam without a smile. He is just such a happy, loving soul. Liam wants to be an elementary school teacher when he is grown up. Can you just picture the kind of teacher he will be? The children will be thrilled they have him (the ones who don't will be awfully sad) and he will be their favorite, with lots of students coming back to visit him. You always remember a teacher that loves you.
Liam is the child with a full social calendar. Lots of friends, lots of adventure and lots of imagination. He will always have good friends, because he is a good friend.
Recently the boys and I were able to go to the temple on a youth trip. Liam's first time. Oh, to see my sons in the temple - It's what I want most for my family, for them to be temple worthy and to be in the temple. The feeling is strong, but not the words. I just loved it!
07 October 2009
She and her fiance, David, are planning a wedding for June 2010, so we are getting busy with the details. The temple has been scheduled (for the ceremony), a reception location has been chosen, we have a rough budget, and colors to decorate with have been established. And we went gown shopping. FUN!
The first bridal shop we went to was in downtown Plymouth and it was just beautiful. The women working there were professionally dressed (skirts and dresses) and the beautiful atmosphere was lovely and calm. Lauren was told to try on anything that caught her eye. We pulled about 20 dresses off the racks and they were whisked away to her large private dressing room while we looked at accessories.
Lauren tried on traditional gowns, full skirt gowns, beaded gowns, slender gowns and modern gowns. She thought for sure she wanted one style (slender), but ended up falling for a very different style (full). She was beautiful in all of them, but it was obvious which one she gravitated toward. The problem was that every gown she tried on was strapless. We were told that sleeves could be added (Lauren definitely wanted a more modest gown), but we were just not envisioning it. We had a great afternoon and got some really good ideas about what she wanted.
There is a wedding store in Allen Park that carries a line of gowns that would be just what Lauren was looking for, with sleeved, modest bodices. We planned a trip with her future mother-in-law, Dawn, and her good friend Haley for a Saturday afternoon to find the perfect gown. It was a gloomy, rainy Saturday, but we were determined to be joyous, as it was a joyous occasion!
The store was smaller than the first shop we went to, and it was very crowded with dresses and gowns. We were immediately assisted by someone who looked like the pizza delivery guy that got pulled in to help - jeans, t-shirt, sneakers, keys dangling from his pocket and needed a shave. He directed us to an out-of-the-way couch where we all crowded in to look at the Eternity catalog, a company that has very beautiful modest gowns and dresses. Mr. Delivery Guy waited and watched while we looked, wanting to be helpful and to retrieve any gown Lauren selected. (She wisely kept him busy - it was a little awkward having him stand there.)
Lauren was finally led to her dressing room where her selections awaited her. I use the term "dressing room" lightly, as it seemed to double as a very small storage room as well. But, we were there to try on gowns, not be impressed with amenities. After trying on a few dresses, Lauren came out with "the one". The way she stood up tall, the way she walked, the way she LOOKED - it was quite obvious that we needed to look no further. Hooray! Although this gown was also strapless, we were informed that the company would make a new bodice, not just add sleeves. Perfect! We also got a much better deal at this shop. Oh, happy day.
We are going back this weekend to do measurements, down payment, etc. We are both so thrilled with her choice (although her thrill is much more important!) I am happy to support this little shop that carries the modest dresses, which are so difficult to find in our area. The woman who owns it started to carry them as she herself had an opportunity to visit with The Pope and realized she had nothing in her shop that would be appropriate to wear. Hooray for her!
And hooray for the gown! Now that that big decision has been made, everything else will surely fall into place.
01 October 2009
We have done all kinds of decorations throughout the years - times 5 birthday kids per year - Banners, ribbons, hidden candy bars, balloons, die cut-outs, streamers, etc. I love the planning and especially LOVE the sleepy happy birthday face in the morning! I know that the little one is so thrilled to have a birthday, and I like to think that waking up to a festively decorated bedroom adds to the thrill.
One of the most popular decorations among the parents in balloons and streamers. We have about a million yards of different colored curling ribbon and we buy balloons in bulk, so they are always on hand for all kinds of events and projects. And Hero has a VERY large air compressor so we can blow up all the balloons we want in seconds - Genius! (Sometimes the tank empties while we are filling so it will kick on. It is very loud in the middle of the night!) We can fill, tie and ribbon a bunch of balloons in a jiffy.
The real fun of the whole decorating process is sneaking into the birthday child's room in the dark while he or she is asleep. We used to be able to wait up long enough for them to be in a good deep sleep, but not so much anymore. (Now we get up extra early and do it before they get up!) If you have ever touched a balloon, you know how loud they can be. Try tip-toeing into a sleeping child's room with several balloons trailing on ribbons, with tape in one hand and a stool in the other, and you have quite the challenge trying not to awaken anyone! And the big trick is to balance on the stool over the bed taping balloons above the sleeping child - DEFINITELY a challenge! Sometimes we have to excuse ourselves from the room as we are giggling too much. Lots of fun making memories.
One year when Alex was about 12-ish, we didn't wait long enough for her to get into a deep sleep, although she was a trooper and pretended to still be asleep. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to keep your eyes closed when you are pretending to be asleep? She was so excited, too, which made it extra hard. She told us some time later that she woke up when the balloons were crashing around her, but she didn't want to ruin it for us. What a good girl!
Liam recently had his 12th birthday, and yet again we commenced the middle of the night decorating (except it was just me as Hero was at work). Sure enough, the compressor kicked on, the balloons crashed around and I found myself balancing over the bed to tape the ribbons up.
But there was no giggling. It's just not the same without Hero.
So, Happy Birthday to all of my kiddos every year!
15 September 2009
01 September 2009
This is the closet in Lauren's room that I took over (Don't feel too bad, she has a very large walk-in for herself!) It is so nice to have a closet to put everything in, and then close the doors. The top shelf has boxes of stamp supplies, tissue, old music and paints. (Did not make the picture!)
This table is Hero and I's first kitchen table that we found in a really cute consignment shop in downtown Northville a million years ago. It has a pretty indestructable (fake) leather top. The bowl holding the markers was found at a garage sale. Alex and I went out one day and promised that we would buy at least one thing from evey sale we stopped at. At the time, it was a desperate purchase to fulfill the promise, but I love it. It reminds me of that special day with her. The accessories rack made it up from the basement, but got edited. It is about 1/2 the length it used to be. And the "create" letters - motivation from my good freind Ellen (who is exceptionally clever and creative herself!)
25 August 2009
Once upon a time (yeah it's corny, but applicable) there was a boy and a girl. Yeah, I know you read how we met and fell in love, but now let me tell you how we are still in love after all these years.
We have always been open with each other. We spend time together and make time for each other, and take time to just talk. Our relationship has always been the best! I know that other people have said that they wish they were as happy and in love as Favorite and me. We have had our ups and they seemed as if we would just keep going up (kind of like the stock market or house prices). Well, just like we have all seen those things that we thought would never come crashing down did, and so it seemed with our relationship. Although there was no real danger the voices in my head caused me to doubt that which I had never doubted before. I struggled with the thought that Favorite did not love me anymore and that I might not be good enough for her. I questioned if I really made her happy. Did she really still want to be with me after all these years or would she be happier with someone else. Why would I think that you ask. Well God has blessed me with many things and an over-active imagination is definitely high on the list of things I have. This is a good thing when you tell stories or watch a scary movie, but not always good when you try to live in the real world. I imagined all the bad things that could be happening in my life - I mean the worst things that my imagination could conger up. I latched onto words and dreams that really were due to my over-active imagination. Why would I do this? Partly because I don't lead a normal life...er, what I mean is that I work midnights and my life doesn't revolve the same as most. I am awake all night (sometimes night and day) and I sleep (a little) during the day. When someone is sleep deprived they are not always in their right mind, and I was not in mine. Not by a long shot. The things that were threatening me were in part to my insecurities and part real. The real part I dealt with directly and without remorse, and I slayed the dragon (so to speak). Thus I was able to fight for and protect that which I hold most high, even my favorite. She was in danger, I was in danger, we were in danger. That scared me more than I ever thought possible. The danger was there, it was real, and could easily have become out of control.
I know that Favorite loves me, and she has never said anything that would make me doubt her, or her love for me. So why all the worry you ask? Well Satan is a sneaky little devil. Yeah, he clues in on little things. He works his way into the tiniest of cracks and wiggles and worms his way in. All the while making that tiny crack into a large hole. Sometimes too big to fix. Lucky for me I saw that little devil. I saw him wiggling about, looking for a crack in our armor. He slithered around, but denied that it was anything at all. He snooped and prodded. Made you question what was good in your life. Even made it a little exciting along the way, just to entice you a little more. Reassuring you that what he was doing was OK and there was nothing to worry about, even though you felt in your heart that something wasn't quite right. That's how Satan works.
Now, Heavenly Father sees all. Even before it's going to happen. Sometimes long before. There are things in my life that I am not proud of and made me struggle over time. Those things have made me question my own worthiness. That is another way Satan tries to trick us. Another one of his tactics. He is so jealous that he can't have a body and since we do, he does his best to make us miserable like he is. Yeah he gets jealous and tries to drag us down where he is. Heavenly Father will never take away our agency, and I am grateful for that. He does, on the other hand, place before us options. What we do with them is our choice.
It's been a while since all this excitement began and yet there is the craziness that my mind can create. I worry. I REALLY worry (too much). What about you ask? Well think of something and I probably worry about it. Will it make any difference if I worry or not? Not usually, but I still worry. I used to be care free. I drove fast cars, and I drove them fast. (Really fast - I had the points to prove it.) I did daredevil stunts. Pretty foolish now that I look back, but back then I had nothing to be afraid of. No reason to fear loss. So I pushed the limits. I tried to out-do my friends. I sometimes put others at risk. I used to say "there are no 'what ifs'." I didn't think of the "what ifs" and just pushed forward without regard for the consequences. Now I'm older, and maybe a little wiser, and I worry about the "what ifs". The "what ifs" can take hold of you and make you a slave to them. Pretty soon they rule your way of thought. You constantly worry "what if...." Yeah, and then you loose it. You loose the daredevil inside of you. You loose the thoughts that you're a pretty good guy with a lot that people like and you feel insecure about most everything. You wonder "what if she doesn't love me anymore, what if she would be happier with someone else, what if I don't make her as happy as I once did, what if..." They creep in all around you, and you question everything. But I found something. I found out that I'm OK. I can be fun to be around, I can make Favorite happy, laugh, love, and be glad that she chose me. I don't need to be insecure, because even though I'm a pretty average guy, I'm helpful, loving, handy, willing to talk, willing (and really like) to watch "chick flicks", can make Favorite laugh, and I'm in pretty good shape for being forty-four years old. Favorite loves me. I am the luckiest guy around!
Where is all of this going? Well, don't take things for granted. Make everyday like when you are dating (courting) the one you love. Try to find ways of making your Favorite happy and it will come back to you. Choose to make your life special and look for good all around. Love, trust, make time, and be happy. Oh, and don't worry so much - it really doesn't help at all. In fact you loose touch with reality. Have faith it will all work out - it usually does.
So let me finish the story...
Once upon time there was a boy and a girl that grew up, got married, and they lived happily ever after.....
18 August 2009
Perfect weather for painting! A light breeze, not too hot or humid, and nice sunshine. I did a light sanding, but not too much. (I knew I wanted a distressed look.) It took 2 coats of white (latex interior) paint as a primer to cover the dark color. But I could see it coming together.
A closer up of the top with just the white paint. Glad I invested the time to give it a few coats.
How cute is this? I have this perfect color of paint that I got on clearance at Lowe's for a dollar, a light grayish blue - Love it! I knew it would go really well with the mustard color walls and the red accents in the room, complimenting without disappearing or taking over. After it was dry, I did sand the edges for the distressed look that I really like. (See it on the top left corner?) The picnic basket fits perfectly underneath and a few cute old books on top (one is called "Phunology", ways to have good wholesome fun in mixed company, written in the early 1900s by a pastor!) The table is just what I wanted in there!
I'm not sure, but I may stencil "murphy" on the top just for something to talk about.
12 August 2009
05 August 2009
I am really excited about the "clean their room" plan.
Colin and Liam have a large desk in their room that is covered with stuff (I will try really hard not to call any of their belongings "junk"), under their beds there is stuff, in their closet there is stuff, on top of dressers and books shelves there is stuff and there is stuff generally all over their floor. I do admit, it could be much worse - I don't think there are any food pieces or food wrappers - which is good. And most of their laundry is where it belongs. I try to help them do this super cleaning at least 2-3 times a year, but it is amazing how much can accumulate in such a short time.
There is nothing like walking into this kind of environment with black trash bags in hand, music playing, anxious expressions on the boys' faces. (I have the determined expression.) I just love this kind of project!
The big reason for this task is determining what they have in the way of clothes for fall and what we need to purchase. This is the incentive for Colin and Liam to cooperate in this adventure. When we have wrapped up this herculean project, we get to shop!
I anticipate that it may take 3-4 hours to complete. Colin and Liam are aware of the plan, and are (I'm sure) just as excited as I am. Maybe. But they really do love it when we are done. They keep everything so neat, put everything away right away, and inform all of their friends that it needs to stay that way. And this will last for at least a week.
And they thank me. Really. It is so good to know that even if they don't, at this age, have the continued motivation to keep it clean forever (or at least take on the task of overhauling by themselves) they do appreciate how good it feels to be clutter-free, knowing things are where they belong, and the place looking fabulous. It makes my heart happy.
Perhaps when they are all grown up, they will be the ones with the determined expressions and black trash bags, with their own little sweeties with anxious expressions, bravely embarking on the "clean their room" plan.
08 July 2009
The wind-down of the school year. It always seems to sneak up on me. I do not know why. Could be because there are so many fun things going on, like baseball games, concerts and church activities. I know one day I'm going to miss all the places I used to have to be. What will I do with myself? I will be the little old lady at the school musicals that does not know any of the actors and the band/orchestra concerts who does not know any of the musicians - I love them!
Lauren graduated - Horray! She finished up her public school experience ready for the drama to be done. She is so grown up and is ready to move on to Madonna University to study Sign Language Interpretation. She went to orientation, created her schedule, secured financial aid and even made a few friends in her curriculum. Lauren's graduation commencement from Churchill was so great. Lauren sang in the choir that performed the National Anthem and the class song. They were terrific! The choir members were the last ones to take their seats, so we were able to keep our eye on her the whole time, very helpful with over 400 students. We had an ice cream sundae graduation party for Lauren that would have been much less cozy if it had not rained!
Colin finished up his baseball season just in time to go to Colorado with one of his best friends and his family for two weeks. We really missed him, and I think he got taller out in the mountain air. It is so strange how the dynamics change in a family when just one is gone for a while. It is so good to have him back.
Brenden explored parts on Pennsylvania with his Boy Scout troop during a High Adventure Camp. They explored underground caves and did white water rafting. Brenden had a great time, and came back with lots of very dirty laundry and very cool stories of adventure.
Liam has been out and about, too. He spent a long weekend with some of his best friends, the Vos's, and went to 11 year old scout day camp. He even went to Toledo with the Vos family for more adventure! I do not think Liam slept very much at Christopher and Calvin's house, but made many great memories.
Lauren, Brenden, Darren and I had a spiritual time warp experience in June. We all went with the Westland Stake on a Pioneer Trek re-enactment about 2 hours north of home at a Boy Scout camp. We wore period clothes (except for our very modern athletic shoes), ate period food (except for the ice cream sandwiches at the end), slept on period hard ground (no exceptions there), and pushed period hand carts that are replicas of the original handcarts that many Latter-day Saints used to take their families and their belongings across the United States to a new home in Utah. They are called handcarts because they are pushed and pulled by hand, not animals. While we walked with our handcarts for only three days, the early Saints' journey could take up to three months, sometimes in the most unpleasant weather. And while those same early Saints would then have to build their new homes and plant their food when they arrived, when we finished, we were very blessed to have a nice car ride home, to a shower, washing machine, food in the fridge and a home that was fine. But the greatest blessing of participating in this Youth Conference was the strength added to our testimony of Jesus Christ and His gospel that each of us gained. The humbling experience of leaving the world behind and tasting just a little of what inspired so many to leave their comfortable worlds behind for the love of the Savior is very difficult to describe. To feel uplifted on a difficult trail, to hear the testimonies of youth who are gaining their very own testimonies for the first time, to see teenagers put together with others they do not know very well bonding and working together, to see a reserved young man take on the role of leader for his "family" and a young woman refine her skills while encouraging others, and many other moments on this journey is something amazing. The Spirit of the Lord confirmed so many truths to us. I cannot think of another situation where almost 100 teens would don costumes, give up electronics (and deodorant and make up!), push their belongings in a cart through a river and a deep ravine, over logs and through the forest and sleep on the ground for three days, but also feel the Spirit, gain confidence, learn what was most important, and understand gratitude in such a way as to exclaim, "This was awesome!" We all came away from that experience with more love and gratitude for the Savior than we thought possible.
Liam and I went to the Fourth of July parade in Downtown Plymouth that was one of the best we had ever seen! It was a beautiful day, with lots of music (Fife and Drum Corps, Marching bands and Dancers), clowns, unicyclists, politicians, costumes, kids and veterans. Then our family was off to a church picnic with the Canton and Plymouth wards, a BBQ with friends, and a movie with more friends. It was a fun day with lots of opportunities to be reminded of our blessings, like living in this country with so many freedoms. Makes me happy!
And coming down the calendar pipeline - A family trip to Nauvoo to see friends and the pagaent, Scout camp for Colin, a trip to visit Alex and Lawson in Idaho and Young Women's camp for Lauren, more days of friends and sleepovers for Liam and filling up the social calendar for Brenden. I just love summer! I love the casual schedule, the Farmer's Markets, the late nights, the bare feet and a million other things that make summer so magical.
Ok, feels good to get this ready to post! Starting to even feel the groove again, and hopefully will not wait 2 plus months to post the next one!
19 May 2009
When I was growing up, I thought I was pretty average. My parents bought the house my mom grew up in, in their hometown. I had relatives all around, and grew up with lots of cousins, most older, some to be afraid of and some to worship. We had family activities for holidays and birthdays, always having 4th of July and Christmas at our house. My parents had some great friends that had children my age, and we got together often for games and sleepovers. I have one brother, Bill, who is four years older, who picked on me, but would not let anyone else give me grief. And our family had some really fabulous traditions that I treasure, and have tried to incorporate some of them today in my family. Life was pretty good. I was a generally happy kid.
I graduated from the same high school my family went to. I started college and finished three years (I am going to finish - really! - as soon as I know what I want to study). Darren and I got married, worked, bought a house and had a baby. And that is where things started to get different.
Just after Alex was born, I started having scary thoughts about dying. It was as if, now that I was a mom and had this little tiny person relying on me, I could see how fragile life was. And not only did I lose sleep over this (literally), I had no concept of what would become of me when I did die. I just had no idea. This went on for months. Hero tried to help, but he could not give me what I needed. And so I decided to see a therapist.
Just sitting in her office, I felt like I at last had some control over what was going on in my world. But here was part of the problem. While I was gaining some control and getting things straightened out in my mind, I was quickly learning that it was the fact that I did not have control over everything (and could not) that was causing my problems.
As many people do, I had some unresolved issues to untangle pertaining to my relationships as a child. While on one level I felt loved and safe growing up, on another level that I knew things were not as they should be. My mom, who has been sober for more than 25 years, is a recovering alcoholic. Because of this disease, life was often chaotic and uncertain. I remember being afraid to be in the car with her after a long visit with family, but of course I had to go with her. Because of my mom's lack of control in her addiction, it seemed that she tried to have extra control in other things in her life, including me. My impression of motherhood meant that the mom controlled everything. When I became a mom myself, it was my turn to take control of everything. But I felt desperate that I could not control this one aspect of life - dying.
Confronting the past to make the future good was a huge step in overcoming the depression I was suffering. But a miracle happened while I was in therapy. I had a miscarriage. The loss of that child was awful and very difficult to understand and is not miraculous at all. But, what I found because of it was very much a divine wonder. I know that Heavenly Father uses each of to help each other, to be in each other's lives when we need to be there. And the one that God used to help me had only been in my life a short time when it was time for her to get to work.
Her husband and Hero worked together at a job they both had as a second job. We would see each other occasionally, as this company encouraged spouse participation. We had some things in common, but really bonded (as will happen) when we both got pregnant about the same time. Sadly, both of our pregnancies ended in miscarriage. In sharing our experiences and feelings, there was a profound difference in our understanding of life and death. Where I was seriously lacking information, she had a calm knowledge that I envied. And when I asked her how she knew what she knew, she not only shared, she invited others to share what they knew about the Plan of Salvation with Hero and I, which contains the truths regarding everything before and after this life, as well as the plan for this life on Earth. What a relief to know these things! After the missionaries taught us about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, we were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and do still consider it a miracle that we found the answers we were looking for.
By this point, with help from my therapist, I had resolved a lot of the issues from the past that I needed to, was striving for a healthier relationship with my mom, and feeling much more confident as a new mom. The last visit with my therapist was pretty uneventful, as I honestly did not have anything to talk to her about. After about eight months, with new skills and a testimony of God's plan, I was good to go. I was empowered. I was informed. I was secure.
Depression can be so lonely. What was going on in my head was beyond what I could handle, and sent me spiraling down in a cycle that fed on itself and grew terribly out of control. My search for answers took me on a journey that I could not take by myself, and the Lord put those who could help right in my path. Horray for that plan! Although I did not love the experience that I went through so long ago (Alex is now 20!), I am so very happy that it brought me to a humble place where I was ready to be taught and to learn. It is so good to be happy and optimistic. But it is also good to have opposition in things, to know the sad from the happy, to appreciate all the more the good place I am in right now, and have been for a long time.
So, I am happy today and have great hopes for the future, whatever comes my way. I hope I have learned that Heavenly Father has it all worked out, that the hard, scary, dark places have their purpose, and they will take me to a better me.
29 April 2009
Don't get me wrong - I like the Tigers. I always want them to win. In fact, when they won the World Series the year I graduated from high school, I felt quite a connection to the "boys". I just never got the hang of following the game consistently.
During my younger years, I casually made a comment to my mom, who, by the way, is an active feminist, about how it was not fair that boys got to play hardball (like the Tigers), but girls only had the option to play softball. My mother promptly marched down to the city athletic department with the determination that no daughter of hers was going to miss out on hardball, just because she was a girl. Not only was I a girl, but I was a scrawny, nonathletic girl at that. But I got to play baseball. For two years. I held my head high at school wearing my "Red Sox" uniform, and put up with the teasing from the boys in my class. And the first year I played, we were the city champs! Even with my limited ball handling skills, I was key in earning top scores. Although I never hit the ball in a game, I also never struck out. I got on base every time at bat by walking! And I owned right field.
(As a side note, I was the first girl to play on the Little League team in Livonia. I even had my picture in the paper! I've seen a few girls on the current teams and feel a little connection with them. What a pioneer I was.)
I have not played baseball since elementary school, except for the mandatory gym class games. I preferred to savor the memories of riding in the back seat of the convertible listening to Ernie Harwell or cheering along with my dad in the living room. But now I have a new appreciation for America's Pastime.
It is incredible how a child's enthusiasm is contagious. When Colin wanted to start playing T-Ball, I thought it would be something fun for him to do, but he had a different idea. He LOVED it! He moved right up in the ranks of baseball, from T-Ball to coach-pitch to kid-pitch to sliding and stealing. Each spring we sit out in lawn chairs, freezing in April at 2 hour practices and sweltering in those same chairs in June at 2+ hour games.
Colin is nothing like the player that his mom was. For starters, Colin swings the bat. And he is pretty good at it, too. He regularly gets on base, and has even hit a home run or two. He loves to score and feels cheated if the inning is over before he makes it across home plate. He has seen right field a few times, but mostly he plays infield. He has a fantastic coach that moves the players around so that they can find their niche. Colin's seems to be shortstop, although he has recently discovered a knack for first base as well. And he is great at all the nuances of the game - keeping an eye on players on base, being ready to back up and support his teammates, and being aware of the coach's instructions.
Because Colin loves the game, I think I love it now, too. Through the years, as a Mom, I have discovered all kinds of things I did not know I liked as much as I do. I think orchestras, sleepovers, fire fighters, power points, trains, marching bands, and even Webkins are pretty neat. Each of these remind me of experiences with my little ones that I am very grateful for. The youthful enthusiasm is a treasure that you cannot get anywhere else, except from a child. It is awesome! I feel young just being a part of it. I would have missed out on this variety of passions if my children did not share their joys with me.
The 2009 Baseball Season is under way, for the Detroit Tigers, and for the Livonia Junior Athletic League "Mets". Although I am not sure how the Tigers are doing, I know the Mets are so ready for their season to start next week. The coach has thrown hundreds of pitches each practice, and they have been practicing in the rain, wind and sun. They have been perfecting their hits, catches, throws, stealing and slides. And the camaraderie they have is something I never felt when I played ball. Colin loves it. And because he loves it, and he shares it with me, I do love it. Thanks Colin.
08 April 2009
But there is a bonus to all of this excitement. Just like Alex before them, Lauren and Brenden have a real flair for the dramatic, and have put it to good use. Recently, they participated in the musical "Once Upon a Mattress" at Churchill High School. It was terrific!
This was Lauren's last performance at Churchill. She has previously performed in many theater productions at CHS including Shakespeare One Act Plays, "Our Town", "Sound of Music", and "Fiddler on the Roof". It is so cool to see her grow in this art, to put a little more of herself into each character she portrays. Lauren made her stage debut depicting Wendy in "Peter Pan" when she was in elementary school. We could see even then that she was a natural in the dramatic arts. She stole the show!
In this last musical, Lauren did not play a lady, but a knight. She wore a funny little hat (won't mention what Lauren called it) to hide her hair, baggy tunics, and heavy eyebrow and side burn makeup to mask her beauty. If I hadn't known the part she was playing, I would have had a hard time picking her out! At the curtain call, she came to take her bow while pulling off her hat. The audience was amazed - It was like she had performed a magic trick! And she had. She convinced the audience that she was a knight for this small amount of time, and when the trick was revealed, they knew they had been taken in. What an amazing starlet!
This was Brenden's first performance at Churchill as a high school student. (He actually had a small part in the CHS production of "Our Town" before he was a student there.) It was very exciting to see him on the stage again! Brenden was also born with the flair for the sensational, and is no stranger to the theater, as he has performed in many plays and musicals throughout his life. He participated in the Plymouth and Dearborn community theater groups, in such productions as "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" and "Peter Pan". He got his start in elementary school also, characterizing Aladin, and most memorably Daddy Warbucks, although "his Annie" was taller than he was. He really did have the fans after he adopted the adorable orphan and showing her NYC!
Brenden had two parts in "Once Upon a Mattress", the Quizmaster and the butler. He had some comical lines as the Quizmaster that really got the laughs, and a singing line in a song with
Princess Fred. A great start for his first gig on the high school stage. And he made an awesome video of the whole adventure (posted on his facebook). I am sure that Brenden will be involved in many more of these events, because, as he said, "This was the best experience of my life!"
I remember the talent shows at Hayes, the Christmas Eve Manger events, the hours of planning the biggest productions on Earth and setting up stages for masterful works of art. And I don't have to think back too far to recall the common teenage drama that fills our home now. I try to imagine that they are perfecting their God given talents when we endure the scenes of tragedy and delight in the young adult life. We are priveleged to be a part of the hours of training and the dedication that is put forth for the individual to become the artist. It is a long process, but eventually the prize is won, and the training may one day become complete.
And, when I see them on the stage, while the audience laughs and gasps and delights in the actors' talents, I feel sad for the onlookers who only see this part of my children. They miss out on the best part - The real part.
25 March 2009
I love going barefoot. I cannot wait to ditch my slippers, which have little holes worn into them. I am ready to say goodbye to the layers I wear each day to stay at a normal body temperature. I am chomping at the bit to open the windows, to hear the sounds outside and to feel warm breezes. I am waiting for the day to sit out on the patio and read, and to watch the squirrels chase through the yard and trees, making the birds nervous wrecks. And I am anticipating the long lazy evenings when the sun sticks around longer, and my kids stay up way too late.
All these things to watch and wait for as I still try to enjoy each day for what it is, because I do not like to wish away time. It goes too fast already. Since President Eyring's General Conference address in October 2007, "Remember, Remember"(and making a gratitude journal in Young Womens with Stacey Dalebout), I have tried to look for something I am grateful for each day. At times it is a challenge. For instance, what can I be grateful for on a day spent at work with a migraine? I search through my memory. And there it is - what I am thankful for that day - My family using quiet voices when I get home, a cozy bed with the best pillow on the planet, and pain reliever. Life is good.
And so in looking forward, I must soon say goodbye to one of my ultimate pleasures until next winter. I cannot think of a single solo luxury that I love more than this blissful practice. (My favorite duo luxury is having my feet rubbed with Cetaphil by Hero. Oh bliss!) I am so grateful for this one special indulgence, that I write about it in my gratitude journal each time, and there are several entries devoted to this. And what could this great joy be?
A hot bath.
There may be bubbles, bath salts or oil, or not. I might be listening to music, or the kids playing on the other side of the bathroom door, or nothing at all. Candles are nice, but not required. I usually have a book to read (magazines are too hard to hold), but I routinely ditch it before I drop it in the water. And I have even watched a movie on the laptop while soaking (placed far away on the counter). These things are just accessories to the best part - The hot water.
There is nothing like stepping into the tub and the warmth of the water embracing my feet. I love easing in all the way, up to my chin. I can feel my face get flush, and I can see the steam rise off the water. My skin changes from purple and cold with goosebumps to pink and smooth. I just lay still and enjoy the warmness of the water. It is delicious!
Often I will make the attempt to read while I soak, but time after time this ends in misfortune. I get so relaxed in the tub, that holding the book above the water level proves to be too much effort. I of course try to deny the fact that I am drifting off to sleep, and make many attempts to keep my hands steady and focus on the words. But it is usually futile, and I throw the book overboard so that I can truly doze.
The end of the bath is bittersweet. When the water temperature dips too low and my toes have turned into prunes, I know it is time to get out. (I will need to slather on extra lotion for a week to make up for this luxury.) I do not want to leave this paradise. But when I do finally emerge, I know that there are other things to enjoy. I am so warm that I can skip my slippers and several layers. I cannot open the windows or sit outside yet, but I can snuggle on the couch long into the evening with all of those who have missed me while I was in my private retreat. The time that I had to soak in the tub has renewed in me an appreciation for the things I have each day. And along with those hot bath entries in my gratitude journal are the great family entries.
So before I say goodbye to Winter, I hope to get one more soaking in before Spring finally arrives. (For some reason, soaking in a cool bath in the middle of summer does not give the same satisfaction.) And while I am so ready for warm days, I am not going to let the opportunity for a warm bath slip by while I am waiting.
Each day there is something to be grateful for.
04 March 2009
I met Darren when I was 13 and he was 14 at Riverside Rollerskating Arena, the place where my friends and I hung out every weekend. I'm pretty sure the year I turned 13 was the year I got my own roller skates for a birthday gift. No more stinky rentals! Of all the things we loved about Riverside, the smells, the snack bar, the carpeted walls and the extra large girl's bathroom with lots of mirrors, skating couples with cute boys was high on the list.
The boy with the blue striped velor shirt was very cute. (He had his own "speed" skates.) I, of course, had on my favorite skating outfit - beige Levi's cords and red plaid button up shirt with my white skates. My friend Lynn had asked a boy to skate who just happened to be the friend of this particular boy, who , by the way, did remember me. The next weekend we were set up. Isn't it great how the Lord makes sure His plan comes together? Fortunately, we had a few years to be friends before we dated for real, which makes our relationship the finest of all.
In the midst of planning a September 1986 wedding, we decided that we would rather bump up the date and get started with our lives. We eloped on Valentine's Day to the very exotic location of Livonia's 16th district court, during the lunch hour of the city workers. And we have never looked back! (We have some pretty terrific family and friends who have loved and supported us and forgive us when we make decisions like that one.)
The reason why my husband is the hero:
Before we were married, Hero would come to visit me while he was working (he drove a truck), sometimes pretty early in the morning. He would kiss me, even though no one had ever clued me in on morning breath before. I try to at least rinse now, but even still, he will kiss me no matter what aroma may be waiting for him.
No matter how warm and snugly he is in bed, if I need a tissue or a Tylenol, he will always offer and be ready to retrieve what I need. He does it without even thinking. Once while I was pregnant with Colin, I had a stomach flu thing. During the middle of the night, when I could not make it to the bathroom, Hero was right there to clean everything up. (OK, unless you think he is too good, he did complain about that one a bit.)
Together Hero and I were introduced to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What the missionaries taught us clicked and in a matter of a few weeks our testimonies were at a point where we joined the church. The night before our baptism, I asked him, "What if it's not true?", to which he replied, "Then we'll stop going". We have embraced everything about the gospel since, including being sealed in the temple, to be together forever with our family. It is so great that we are on the same page, and even the same paragraph in the gospel.
Some traits a person is just born with. No matter what environment a person grows up in, certain attributes rise to the surface. Hero is a hard worker. As a child, his parents did most everything for him, and yet he is far from lazy. He has worked up to three jobs to provide for us. Now he is down to one. But, he works midnights at Garden City Hospital in the ER, and is in Nursing School to graduate in May 2010. He is one of the hardest working people I know, although he does have some slacker moments.
I love fireplaces. Our first four homes did not have one (we finally have one in our current home).For our anniversary one year, Hero made a mantle out of scrap wood, with a cardboard backing, complete with candlelight flames, rose pedals, and pictures on top. Dinner was set up in the living room to eat in front of the fire. It was the most romantic gift ever. For a follow up, he made a real fireplace mantle with logs and candles, that is now in our bedroom. I love it. Each time we use it, I am reminded of the love that went into those gifts.
Hero is a hero to a few others, too. He makes the best waffles. He goes on early Saturday morning dates to get donuts or fresh bread. He goes to concerts and plays. He laughs, makes (sometimes) corny jokes, plays, tickles and loves. He picks out special Christmas presents from just Dad. As parents, we are always trying to improve (good thing for repentance), but this dad is exceptional.
Of all the things that make him my hero - the selflessness, the compassion, the service, the faith, the dedication and the thoughtfulness - he is smart, too. He picked me! My hero tells me that I am his favorite. Oh, man, I must be charmed. He is mine through thick and thin. Fortunately there is mostly thick - or is thin the best part?
We are celebrating 23 years this year on Saturday (Hero had to work on Valentine's Day). We are going to spend the day together, doing a little shopping, making and having dinner together, snuggling on the couch. We will squeeze in a few parenting things (basketball game, chores, etc.), but Hero and I will make the most of the moments. Afterall, that is what heros do - they are there. He is there, happily.
Happy Anniversary Hero. I love you a lot a lot.
Love, your favorite
25 February 2009
What would anyone want to read about the Murphys? We are a pretty uneventful family, as much as I would like us to be adventurous. We are pretty boring, as much as I would like to be thrilling. And we are average in lots of things, as much as I would like to think we are above-average. Don't get me wrong - I really, really love my family and would never in eternity want to trade them. But we just don't have the kind of lifestyle that would make a good Hollywood movie (as much as Brenden would like to write, produce, direct, cast, etc one).
But, there is something out of this world in being an ordinary family. There is the predictability of the comforts of home. There is the peace in knowing what to expect in our family members. There is happiness in really knowing each other. And there is joy in knowing we are all doing our thing the best we can (usually) and that come rain or shine, we are a family forever.
With that in mind, today is the day to start our family blog. Maybe the next blog will be about how we played PIT for family home evening, had our old standby of burritos for dinner, or maybe something as exciting as how many loads of laundry we all did this week.
Or not. It will probably be about things like how kids get so busy they won't be playing games with us for much longer, or the serious laughter at the table that makes a few of us choke on our veggies, or the Prom dress that went to the prom with Lauren.
You know, the sensational stuff.