25 March 2009

Once more before I say goodbye

Just as most everyone I know, I am looking forward to warmer weather.

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

The Hero

Of all the names I have for my husband, "Hero" is the one that defines him the best.

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