Monday, February 27, 2012

When We're Helping We're Happy

Josh recently finished a HUGE project at work. Redesigning and relaunching a new website for a university is no small thing! It was the job Josh was hired to do, so it was an enormous relief to have it finished. We're so proud of him!

We'd both been thinking about my Mom and Dad. They had several projects they've been wanting to accomplish, but needed some help in getting done. Josh called me one afternoon and said, "I've booked you a ticket home. You leave tomorrow, tostay for a week. I'll work from home and be with the kids. I knew you'd say no if I consulted you, so it's done. Booked. Get ready!"

And so began a whirlwind of preparation for a week-long stay, sans kids with my parents! I cooked seven (SEV-EN) freezer meals, did laundry, finished two sets of Valentines, grocery shopped, wrote notes/lists, arranged rides, and comforted distressed kids who worried how they would get to school on time if Mom wasn't there!

And off I went to visit Mom and Dad. My main objective was to SERVE, SERVE, SERVE. I knew being with our kids for 24 hours alone is hard, but seven straight days? I knew it would be a challenge. I wanted to make the most of Josh's sacrifice and not waste any time!

Tim picked me up at the airport and he must have read my mind, because he had picked up a Glaus' Bakery Cake for Mom that morning - Mom's favorite! He asked us to take it up to her for a Valentine's gift for Mom. Tim's just the dearest!

Here's the cake. Look fast, because it was soon gone!

I spent a day with Cath and her family, and got to meet my sweet new niece! Her crystal-blue eyes were such a change from my chocolatey-brown babies, and it was so fun getting reacquainted with her kids. It's so fun being an aunt! Cath and Ryan are such sweet, patient parents. What a great team!

I helped Owen with his school Valentines, and hoped that my kids' Valentines turned out okay.

Cath's ward had Ward Conference, so Cath had to pull out all the stops for her singing time for Jr. Primary. She did such a fantastic job! I always knew she was capable, but it was so fun to just sit back and watch her work her magic with those kids with such fun ideas! I was really proud of her!

The primary song, "When We're Helping We're Happy" was my theme song for the week, and I sang the words in my head whenever I was doing something:

"When we're helping we're happy,
and we sing as we go;
for we like to help mother (father),
for we all love her (him) so.
Tra la la la la la la,
tra la la la la la!
Tra la la la la la la,
Tra la la la la la."

Cath stayed with us for the day, and we were able to hit the hardware store and get a staple gun to recover the dining room chairs. It took a lot of teamwork and muscle to work that gun, and get the folds just right, but we finished the six chairs and they looked GREAT!

Mom and Dad had boxes of old photos from their parents, which they have been wanting to organize, categorize and scan for some family history projects. It took HOURS, but felt so good to get them scanned and burned on several disks and a flash drive so they'll be in a safe place. It was the true spirit of Elijah doing that project, and made me so excited and happy. It was so much fun to stare at their faces. The faces of my people and ancestors and hear their stories and experiences, and feel that connection.

My paternal Grandma -

My maternal Grandma -

We felt the urgency, realizing that both sets of their parents have all passed away, and our their generation are quickly forgetting the details of the stories their parents told them. They need to be written down and saved, along with our parents' stories!

It's been a really mild winter, and they've been able to get quite a bit of prep done in their large yard. Mom and I tackled the Elderberry bushes one afternoon and tied them into bundles to be hauled away to the dump. We only needed February!

Can you spot their camouflaged dog, Scout?
You can only see her white paws!

I love working with my mom and talking and talking and talking. Talking about our families, about raising kids, about the gospel, about struggles and challenges. She's one of my dearest friends. No one quite fills up a mother's cup like ones' own mother can. After talking to her, I feel like I'm doing a better job than I thought I was, and I feel more inspired to continue improving. And my Dad, even with his debilitating illness, still finds ways to serve. It's so amazing and humbling. All of the hobbies and things he loves to do benefit OTHERS: He plays piano in the Primary, he does family history research, he volunteers teaching ESL, he serves in the temple at the recommend desk, he bakes pies and dishes and gives them away to neighbors, he gardens and loves to share his knowledge and produce! After a week of being with both mom and dad almost 24-7, I've felt really homesick for them after returning home. I miss being around them.

Bottled Grape Juice from their grape vines! DELICIOUS!

Mom and Dad had remodeled the front of their house to make it more maneuverable. The front bedrooms were converted into a master suite and bathroom, while the hall bathroom was made into a 1/2 bath. It looks really pretty! Mom has become quite the interior designer with all of their home remodels, and knows what she wants. It was fun to sit and listen to her plans for the room and how she wanted it to look. After so many years of fixing up a house and pouring in money to it, only to sell it for a loss, I'm so happy she's able to have a room to make her own.

I got to go with them to their ESL class on Monday. The students are wonderful, highly-motivated people, who are so hard-working and happy. One of the writing exercises was "If I had a million dollars, I would..." Where we would go on shopping sprees, buy fancy cars or houses, their answers were, "I would buy a house for my mom." "I would put it in the bank for my children's college." "I would give it to my family in ______."

The student in the blue, brought tamales to share with the class. I had never eaten a real tamale before! I had so much fun helping. I'd really love to teach that kind of class someday.

Wednesday for Valentine's Day, we went out for an early dinner to Chuck-a-Rama. Mom has a favorite dish of a dutch oven roasted chicken and vegetables. We were there with all of the seniors who had the same idea as us! :) It was adorable.

Some of the food is really quite good, and the salads are fantastic! We loaded up on rolls and honey butter, and my apple crisp dessert was delicious! Say what you want about Chuck-a-Rama. I think it's YUMMY!

Thursday night we were able to go to the Logan temple for a session. We each had a family name to do, and that was a treat! It's been months since I've been able to get to the temple, so I enjoyed every moment there.

Friday evening, I headed down to Salt Lake to spend a little time with my in-laws. My sister-in-law, Jill was able to drive me down and we had a dinner at Salt City Burger, which was yummy! It was great to see several siblings and nieces/nephews. Stewart and Nettie and I watched the latest episode of Downton Abbey, and I got to sleep one last night in a quiet, dark room.

Saturday was Josh's birthday! Isaac picked up some of his favorite Rich's Bagels, and we stopped off at Glaus' to get some sweet treats for him and the kids. My flight home was uneventful, and I was so happy to see the kiddles again!

"Thanks for watching us, Dad!"

We were able to get so much done, and it felt so good to feel like I was being helpful and useful to my parents, who have done, and continue to do, so much for all of us. Service is truly a joy, and I had a great week. Special thanks to Josh and the kids for making it possible!


Dianna said...

Josh is superman and you are his equal! That is so great that you were able to give some concentrated service to your mom and dad. They sound like the ultimate role models - you are so blessed.

Sweet Cherie said...

Your dad is still teaching ESL?! I remember teaching ESL with him at the Sterling building in VA. It was so fulfilling to help those good people adapt to our country.

Stephanie said...

So glad you got to spend some time with your Mom and Dad. I just returned from another Utah trip, too. So good to feel 'helpful' to our parents after all the years of help they've given in our behalf, huh?

love you.