Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Sharing My Story

The thought that I've needed to share my story has been pretty insistent lately, and although I'm not really sure what to share or how to share it, I feel inclined to (once again) dust off this old thing and start sharing thoughts out to the universe (or whoever still reads this....hi!).

As I was yet again cleaning my sons' bedroom carpet (Calvin apparently thinks it's really funny to practice his newfound potty-training skills on his bedroom floor) this morning, a thought that I'd experienced during my marathon last weekend struck me.

As I was hitting around Mile 21, I remembered that the St. George marathon is known for its beautiful settings, and I realized that, although this was my second time running this same marathon, I literally couldn't describe what the setting looked like at all!

The thought came to my mind, "Look up."

As I did, I realized that for the past three hours, I'd been running past beautiful vistas that are similar to something you'd see on a postcard in a gift shop.  There were stunning red rock cliffs, open views, lovely valleys, and gorgeous open landscape--and I nearly missed it ALL.  AGAIN.

But because of the reminder to find the beauty--even in the midst of the exhaustion and pain that comes from hitting Mile 21 in a 26.2-mile race (because 26.3 miles would just be crazy, right?)--was powerful to me, and it kept my mind occupied for about the next three miles, thinking of times that I've been so focused on getting to the "finish line" that I completely forget that it's about the process of getting there.

My kids are in the middle of some AMAZING phases right now.  Jack is 10, Clark is turning 9 in a month, Maggie is 7, Calvin is 3 and Ollie is 17 months.  They are all in the middle of learning new things and exploring and developing and growing, and I am lucky enough that I get to be home with them to help and watch and learn along with them...sometimes relearning things I'd forgotten long ago (my basic math skills really have gotten SO rusty), and sometimes learning things from entirely new perspectives that I'd never thought about before.

So, even in the midst of cleaning funky smelling bedroom carpets or dealing with tantrums caused by broken graham crackers, I can still look up, see the beauty around me, and find joy in the moment I'm living in.

I'm grateful for the reminder.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

halfhearted updates

Time for me to dust off this old thing, apparently!

I set a goal last year to blog at least weekly (or on an average of four times a month)... and you can tell that I did GREAT with that goal--up until I got pregnant.

Pregnancy is TOTALLY what we had been wanting and waiting and working for, and so I wasn't the least bit disappointed when I got pregnant, although it meant that any previous ability and/or inclination I had to write was completely gone.

Every time I am done with morning sickness, I look back on it and think, "Man, if I had just had more willpower, I would have totally been able to continue functioning as a basic human being...." But then it hits again and I remember that morning sickness has nothing to do with willpower or mind over matter and has everything to do with hormones.

Lots of them.

Thankfully, I am now 21 weeks along (halfway point!!! YAAAAAY!) and feeling human once again. I can now look back fondly on the months of physical misery/mental exhilaration (I am truly so very grateful for the privilege of being pregnant right now), but I am also grateful for the privilege of once again being able to function beyond dragging myself out of bed only to pour my children each a bowl of cereal and then pass out on the couch for the rest of the day.

I could tell I'd rounded the bend the other day when I swept, mopped, folded laundry, AND made dinner all in one day without needing a nap after each individual chore.  Big day for the Busch household, lemme tell ya.

While it seems like a blog would be the perfect pastime for someone who's feeling physically miserable, I genuinely didn't have the mental strength or capacity to sit and try to write, much less finagle the pictures I always wanted to download.  I even tried just copying down some family history documents that Grandma Busch gave me to type into Family Search, and that had to be done in shifts.  Sitting and focusing was too hard for me to do, much less trying to come up with my own words to share.

Man, I sound like a wimp.

Needless to say, I am far too behind to stress about catching up entirely (although I might pull a few old posts out and dust them off completely out of chronological order, just to keep y'all on your toes), so this halfhearted update will have to do for now.

Meanwhile, I'm going to continue working on getting my computer to update all of the pictures on my phone, and then I shall blitz this blog with photos like you wouldn't believe!!  Just you wait!!

....Or maybe those photos will end up just being saved to our iCloud drive.  Like the thousands that have gone before them.


At least I'm a realist.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Chaos of Creation

Lately, I've been doing some studying about the paradoxes we find when we study truth and the principles that attend it; for example, humility brings strength, meekness is actually controlled power, those who are last shall be first, etc.  Now that I'm noticing the principle of opposition, I'm seeing it everywhere.

Including in my kitchen.

Right after Steve and I bought the home that we currently live in (8 years ago, guys!), we made a goal to paint/decorate one room per month until we liked the paint job in every room.

The color I chose for our kitchen?  A dark, rich, warmly inviting red.

And I loved the red, truly, I did--but after 8 years of the same thing (and after realizing that one sliding glass door just didn't lighten the room in a way that I wanted), I decided I needed a change. 
Note the mismatched table and chairs--the 6 black chairs came with our original dining set, the table was a Craigslist treasure that Steve found after our Ikea one bit the dust, and the two end chairs I found at our local thrift store when we realized that we had no extra seating for visitors.  For months, I'd been planning on doing something about them and never yet had.

Our white accent wall--it brought a little more light into the room.
(I know.  Our fridge and cupboards look super clutter-y, but I'm not sure on a better way to display my children's artwork...I'm open to suggestions, however!)
One morning, while Steve was at work (and after he'd already bought the paint for me to redo our kitchen with), I got a wild hair and decided to sand and repaint the table and chairs all by myself.

However, the problem with any creative venture?
It usually entails a little chaos at first.

Or maybe a lot.

Sanding a full-sized dining table inside one's actual dining room results in a LOT of dust.  Even when you lay down tarps underneath.

But, because I knew this table would get a LOT of wear and tear, I wanted to do it right, so I did the filling putty inside all of the scratches, and we sanded, sanded, SANDED.
It got super messy, and with the "help" of my four children, for a while I wondered if I had made a mistake.

After sanding the old black chairs a bit, I actually really liked the scuffed rustic look that it gave them, so I left the backs and legs black and then painted the wooden chairs to match; I painted all of the seats blue so it gave some unity to the "set."

After which I painted the table top blue, with the legs and undersides black to match the chairs.
I'm super in love with how it turned out.

I wasn't, however, foolish enough to even consider painting my kitchen on my own, so I waited until Steve was home to start that project.

This is where the chaos got rather intense:
I love how much counter space my kitchen has.  The only issue with lots of counter space means that it can hold a LOT of mess....because keeping things on the floor is no longer an option when you have a toddler who loves nothing more than getting into stuff.

We maaaay or may not have kept Calvin placated with a lot of chocolate and TV time during this endeavor.

He didn't seem to mind.
But, as with nearly any creative attempt, the effect is one that I'm grateful for.  My kitchen feels much lighter, more open and airy, and I like having a dining set that looks as though it all belongs together rather than like the yard sale special it really was.
The decorations were mostly ones we already had--I painted the frames of the pictures we already owned, and really liked the effect.

I also kept two dried flower bouquets--my wedding bouquet (below) and a dozen yellow roses Steve gave me (above, in the red glass jar).
It's interesting how long I put off this project.  I had been wanting a change in my kitchen for over a year now, and had never attempted this project because I thought it would be too hard, I stressed about the fact that I would make too many mistakes, or I was worried about the cost (Really, other than the cost of the paint and some sandpaper, the rest of the stuff was stuff we already owned).

How often do I let fear hold me back from what I really want?

The piece that I'm proudest of--I decided to paint some ivy and flowers around the door freehand.  I love painting, and although the only formal training I've had was the zero-hour art class I took in 7th grade, I'm liking how it turned out--kind of like my life: imperfect but sweet.

Final effect:
Yeah, I know--the counters are still messy and the fridge still looks cluttered, but hey--we live here.  And my children apparently think that "Clean up the dining room" is code for "Put everything in the dining room onto the kitchen counter."

But this is a kitchen I'm proud of.

Yet another paradox of creation--we can see the faults and flaws of our creations clearly (more clearly than most, I'm sure) and yet still experience joy in what we've created.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Graduation Weekend

I know it's out of order, but I'm backtracking and blogging about our summer--starting with (drumroll please).... 

Graduation weekend!!  

Yeah.  I'm way behind.

Starting off with:

Clark's kindergarten Track and Field Day!
Complete with popsicles and little siblings!

 I volunteered to help--well, okay, a friend volunteered for me to help her, actually, but same difference, because it meant showing up with my two pre-schoolers to help run the parachute station.
It was windy and chaotic, and about as structured as you can expect, but still lots of fun.

 After that was Clark's Kindergarten Graduation, which was just plain awesome.  That kid is so adorable.
He was pretty excited that Steve, me, AND his NanaDee were all able to attend, along with Maggie and Calvin, of course.

 Can you tell?
 He sang and performed brilliantly (I love how he gets so into the movements, haha).

And afterwards posed for a picture with his principal, Mr. Owens.

 We really love Mr. Owens.  He is a great guy and an AWESOME principal.
We also loved his teacher, Mrs. Slade:

 And his teacher's assistant, Mrs. Sipes.  She lives in our ward, so she was extra invested in Clark, which really pays off when his mom is wanting to know how things are going!
That weekend, my sister, Katie, who I don't get to see NEARLY enough, came up to visit (for McKay's graduation, because high school graduation is apparently a bigger deal than Kindergarten Graduation when one lives hours away), and I snapped a picture of her and my mom.  
I just love these ladies.

 The main event of the weekend was McKay's graduation, of course.  Because he won the J. Rufus Crandall Award (basically the music award for the school), he was asked to perform a musical number for the graduation.  He asked Molly and I to accompany him, which we were happy to do, and we all decided on The Piano Guy's "It's Gonna Be Okay" to perform.

It turned out nice, and as a bonus, Molly and I got to sit in the parent's section so we could be close to the stage in order to play, which meant I got some decent shots of McKay walking in!
 Crazy.  That's my baby brother.
 Another Memorial Day Weekend tradition is that the family does branding--there are usually more kids than cows at these branding sessions, but it's nice for me to have my kids experience at least a little bit of the ranching life that I grew up with.

Including Maggie's own personal "Coin Purse."
 If you don't know what that is, ask a rancher.  They'll tell ya (Don't worry, I made her wash her hands after handling it, and when her back was turned, it "accidentally" got thrown away).

Another Memorial Day tradition is that we go and visit our family members who are located in the Snowflake Cemetery--Grandpa Flake and Alma, of course, are the first ones we visit:
after which we wandered a bit.  It's been fun for me to go to the cemetery, now that I've been a little more involved in my family history, as I recognize many more of the names on the graves, as well as the stories about the people there.  

What a lovely weekend that was, and I'm glad that now we have it recorded.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Be Still and Know

Yesterday morning, I took yet another negative pregnancy test.

I'd gotten tired of taking negative tests and had resolved to not buy any more, until I counted the days on the calendar and realized that my dear old Aunt Flo, who is usually so regular you could set a clock to her, was late.  When you're trying for a baby, as Steve and I are, this is always exciting, and so we dropped everything, ran to the store, and bought a test.

I was certain I saw a line--Steve wasn't so sure.

He was right.  I was wrong.

Apparently Aunt Flo got caught in traffic, because she showed up two days late and even more cranky than usual.

It's a sad irony that when you're trying--and not succeeding--to get pregnant, the consolation prize is a week's worth of bloating, cramping and bleeding.  I'm sure there's reasoning behind that; opposition in all things and all that--but it would be nice if, instead, the consolation prize was, "Hey--you don't get a baby, but instead, you're going to be magically skinny and energetic!  Don't be too sad!"

Or something like that.

I haven't written much on here about our experience trying for this fifth baby, mainly because we already have four children, we've only been trying for an amount of time better measured in months than in years, and I have friends who have experienced true infertility for years, while mine is what I see as a temporary pause in our scheduling.  I haven't wanted to complain, because I can see God's hand in this just as surely as I've seen His timing with each of our other children.  I have learned and grown as a mother, and I have learned and grown as His daughter.  I've tried to take these extra months and become something better than I was, and looking back at where I was at the beginning of the year, when we got the answer to start trying for a baby, I can see the growth I've experienced.

Opposition is a necessary part of life.  In a piece of art, the light is noticeable because of the shading; highlights are offset by darker areas.  I have more joy now as a mother to the four children I already have than I have ever yet experienced, even while the sorrow hits my empty arms as my toddler climbs out of them to go explore and I don't have another baby to pick up in his stead.

So I haven't written about it, because my life is FULL of light.

But there are some shadows, as well.  

In my ward, there are approximately a dozen ladies who are either now pregnant or whom have just had babies.  As I entered church a couple of weeks ago with my husband and four kids in tow, a sweet older lady giggled, "Better be careful walking through that door!  Everyone else under thirty who has come in here has been pregnant!"

I smiled and simply said, "Bless your heart for thinking that I'm under thirty!"

She laughed, and I continued on my way, ushering my own private circus into the chapel where they could cause a sufficient distraction to at least a third of the congregation as they usually do on Sundays.  I sat and prayed, as I do every Sunday, that I could continue to make the progress I know is required of me as a disciple of Christ, and that I could have patience until the timing is right for this next baby to join our family.

Sitting in Relief Society and glancing around at the sweet babies and the swollen bellies and happy, slightly-exhausted pregnant glow of these other ladies, I can feel my heart break just a little more every month as time goes by and my wish goes unfulfilled--yet isn't that what Christ asks for in His followers?  Broken hearts and contrite spirits?  

One of my favorite songs of all time, "Behold the Wounds in Jesus' Hands," was going through my mind on Tuesday morning.  The lyrics are simple and powerful, and one line in particular hit me over and over again:

Come, open wide your broken heart
And let the Savior in.

Softened, broken hearts are much better at changing than untested, firm and stiff hearts.  We break in shoes to run or dance, we break down gluten to make bread, we break open the soil to grow life.  Should I be surprised that Christ needs my heart to be a little more broken before granting us this righteous desire?

Patience has always been a virtue that I've struggled with.  I'm usually a quick learner, so when it comes to patience, I find myself following the personality trait that Neal A. Maxwell once said about himself--"I want to learn how to be patient RIGHT NOW."

Yet, as we've had to wait for a timeline that I'm trying to trust even as I can't see it, I'm finding myself learning how to be more patient and less angry or panicky when things don't go the way I think they should.  I'm taking time to slow down and talk to my children when I get frustrated, instead of yelling (NOT perfect in any way in this, but improving).  I take time in the mornings to truly sit, think, and read the words of life, rather than jumping straight into a hectic, busy day with no spiritual armor on.  Not because I'm righteous or disciplined, but because I need it now more than I have since my last big Opposition.

Yesterday morning, I took a negative pregnancy test.  Last night, a massive lightning storm hit our area.  Steve and I went together to sit on our front porch and watch quietly, observing the power of the hand of God.  The dark sky around us was lit up over and over with flashes of brilliance, as the thunder rumbled in the background, sometimes subtle and other times nearly shaking the house with its power.

As we sat, together in our silence and sorrow, the thought entered my mind: "Be still and know that I am God."  

Be still and know that He has a plan.  

Be still and know that He has a timeline.

Be still.

And know.

And I was still.  And I knew.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

First Day of School

Yet again, it's time for me to share the same silly old cliches about how I can't believe the summer went by so quickly, and how it amazes me that my kids are old enough to be going to the grades they're going to, and how time passes too swiftly....

You know the drill.

But it really DOES pass too swiftly.

Take these pictures as proof.
 Clark was ready for First Grade, and ADORES his teacher, Mrs. Junk.
Because she's new to our school district, I was a little nervous (the unknown always makes us a little nervous, doesn't it?), but the moment we walked into her adorable classroom for Meet the Teacher night, I knew Clark would love her.  Dr. Seuss-themed decorations, a genuinely warm, happy smile, and gerbils cinched the deal. He's had a blast this week! 
 My 8-year-old Jack, heading into 3rd Grade.  I can't believe how ridiculously tall he's getting, and judging from the amount of food he's been eating lately, I can tell he's heading into another growth spurt.  Hence the jeans that are still just a liiiiitle too big for him.
 He's thrilled to have Mr. Smith for his teacher, and from everything I've heard about Mr. Smith (who has been teaching here since my brothers were in third grade), he will be a fantastic match for Jack.  He really understands kids that age, and it's fun to hear how excited Jack is about his class time.

 We had a dinnertime conversation last night about how Jack and Clark are best friends (this conversation was only slightly prompted by me, by the way), and it made my heart so very happy to hear these boys express their love to each other.  I think some of that may have been inspired by us watching the "Two Brothers Two" series on the Mormon Channel--if you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend it. It's definitely changed the way Jack feels about Clark, and vice versa.

Maggie headed into kindergarten, and she has the same teacher that Jack had when he was in kindergarten!
 She was nervous, but because we got back-to-school blessings from Dad the night before, she said that she could feel Heavenly Father helping her be less nervous and more excited.
This is her "silly" pose--she's sticking her tongue out.  Lol
 Also, in case you were wondering, yes, everything she is wearing has sparkles on it.  Sparkly shoes, sparkly pants, sparkly shirt, sparkly backpack, and sparkly fingernails.
 Calvin wanted to photobomb:
 And yes, I did get a little teary dropping her off on her first real day of school.  I'm coming to appreciate more and more just how fleeting these lovely stages really are.

But do not be fooled--even though I have three children in school, I'm not bored.  For one thing, my brother, Noah, is visiting before he heads off to China to teach English for several months:
 (He is SO good with my kids.  They just idolize him).

And yes, I'm jealous that he'll be over close to my neck of the woods, speaking Mandarin.

As for me, Calvin does plenty to make sure that I'm not bored during the day.  Why, just yesterday, while I was playing through the "Dear Evan Hansen" sheet music I just got (EEEEEK!), he decided that both he and my bathroom needed a make-over.
 I'd wondered why he was being so uncharacteristically quiet....
I'd forgotten how busy toddlers can be, but do not worry, Calvin is doing his very best to remind me.  He keeps me on my toes, that's for sure!

Hooray for back-to-school!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Finding the Joy

A while back, after some recurring disappointments, I asked my husband for a blessing of comfort.  Along with other inspired words and promises, one phrase that stood out to me was that I would be able to "find the joy" in my life, as it currently was, rather than waiting for my prayers to be answered before finding joy.

This phrase has rung true ever since, as I have been amazed and humbly grateful for the simple beauty that has been consistently making itself manifest to me.  Things on the outside haven't changed a whit; but I have felt my heart change, and that has made all the difference.

I'm now more easily able to do things like notice and appreciate the simple beauty of a rainy Sunday afternoon:

 With the people (and animals) I love most in this entire world surrounding me.
My life is beautiful and imperfect and lovely, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Side note--Jack is literally yelling at Clark in this picture because he keeps hitting him with the lightsaber, and Calvin is fussing because he wants to go out on the lawn but doesn't want to get rained on.  Lest you think this scenario is too idyllic.

How grateful I am for truth that reminds me that I don't have to wait for some ambiguous future milestone in order to be happy, but that I can choose to be happy during the sweet moments that occur in my life as it is now.