Sunday, June 7, 2015

Lots to catch up on........

1.  Missionaries are home (what to call my blog?)  And ...does anyone want to hear the ramblings of a imperfect woman of almost 60 years (yikes!!!!) who is still trying after all these years to define herself?

2.  Life got too hectic , and I was kind of on auto-pilot.

3.  Baby Lauren was born to Ben and Jess.  She is beautiful, and perfectly wonderful , but has had to be a strong, little fighter in her short two month and a half months of life.

4.  Summer is upon me.  What to do?

5.  Plans for the faithful four.

I rather think I will still write because even if no one finds my thoughts interesting...I have always
been able to sort things out through putting them to paper (or computer).  I started a journal in the sixth grade and still keep one.  I am a little afraid of what my posterity will think of me someday as they read the musings of a young girl, an awkward teenager, a confused young woman, and a crazy mom of seven.  As I start into the twilight years (yes, I know I am not that old) I am a little anxious about what I should be doing and accomplishing.  Part of me wants to sit back, read a few books, and eat snacks.   The snack part...not good.  I think I need to continue to work and teach piano to feel a part of something bigger than myself.  I find myself a little more content when I am a little busier.  I am not driven to accomplish huge things.  I am a little sad about that, but I am good at being a friend and connecting with people.  I am so very lucky to have people in my life.  I looked around at the six of us tonight watching "Meet the Mormons"and felt very blessed indeed.  I never did get that new house I wanted, and I haven't traveled nearly as much as I would like, but my life has been a good one filled with lots of chaos.  As far as excitement goes, putting seven kids under nine to bed was sure to get the blood pumping at our house.  Euphoria came when I knew I could get four hours of uninterrupted sleep, or when everyone napped at the same time so I could do dishes.  My babies are having babies of their own now, and I find myself free to enjoy them without the duties of "motherhood".  All I need to do is to love on them, and send them back to their parents.  It is quite wonderful!

Baby Lauren is a wonderful addition to our family.  She simply could not be sweeter.  Her deep blue eyes speak volumes of wisdom and patience gained through a difficult two and a half months of life. She came into the world a little fighter who had to be resuscitated, spending some days in the NICU.  She had a sacral dimple that had to be checked by ultrasound to make sure the nerve endings were covered.  She had a heart murmur that is big enough to possibly need open heart surgery.  As Lauren's breathing was quite loud, it was determined that our baby also has Laryngomalacia.   This is a congenital abnormality of the laryngeal cartilage.  The soft cartilage of the larynx collapses inward making sleeping/breathing/eating difficult.   Lauren had surgery to try to correct this problem at Primary Children's Hospital.  They were not completely successful because it is quite severe.  They can now see her vocal cords, however, as they could not before the operation.  Lauren eats with a special slow-flow bottle and is doing much better.  Jess is very busy with home care appointments, along with seeing Lauren's cardiologist and ENT doctor down at Primary's.  Ben and Jess are phenomenal parents and so faithful , loving and caring for their little daughter.  The good thing about Laryngomalacia  is that as the child grows, the symptoms usually decrease sometimes disappearing by the age of two.  Lauren was given blessed today at church.  Her father (Ben) blessed with so many wonderful qualities and supplicated our Heavenly Father to watch over her and give her the strength she needs to deal with future health concerns.
Lauren Taylor
Lauren on her blessing day.  What a sweet dress!

Speaking of two, our Ruby (aka Bubbergirl )is two!  She is delightful.  She is starting to speak, and is so interesting.  I have no qualms about spoiling her rotten.
Ruby Fay Morris, age two

It is as if the missionaries were never gone!  Things have resumed quite as they once were with busy comings and goings, but I have to remind Jerry every now and then that he doesn't have to call them all the time to see where and what they are doing.  Mark is working at Bio-med as a phlebotomist, and Matthew and Bethany are at American First Credit Union.  Rachel is working for T. R. Morgan's law offices as a receptionist.  Their experiences as missionaries have changed them in countless ways.  They are the same, and yet not so much.  They astound me with their wisdom and knowledge of life, of people and of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.   They are planning for school and that is another story completely!  Ahh...time to sit back and let them do things in their own way and time?
A Mom and her boy (Mark)
Such sweetness upon seeing my sons again
Jerry hates this one, haha
A mom and her girl
The Faithful Four together again

As i garden this summer, I contemplate life's changes.  It quiets my soul to turn dirt over in my hands,  and smell the sun-warmed soil. I love seeing things grow.  Maybe it is why I loved being pregnant and having kids (: My piano recitals are over, and I feel both a sense of relief and satisfaction.  Such beautiful pieces executed so nicely!!  36 Students played including Mark and Bethany. They all did so very, very well.   More changes abound!! Emily is having another baby in November, Ben graduated with a Master's degree in Professional Communications, and a couple of them are dating people and it seems to be fairly serious.

I , who hate change, has seen a lot of it these last few months.  I am learning to accept it for what it is...inevitable!  What I need to learn is how to let it contribute to my well-being, my happiness and my growth of character.  Life thus far has been well-traveled, but I want to know that I have contributed to someone else's happiness along the road.  I have been so sustained by my friends and family members, that I can only hope that I have reciprocated in some small way.  My mother always told me to join the "compliment club" and I would have lots of friends.  I would ask her what kind of club that it was...thinking it would surely have a president and chartered members?  She told me to always make come away making people feel good.  I sometimes that people like me because of my inferior nature, but I genuinely love people.  That advice has blessed my life many times over.

I don't mean to sound so serious, but it is late, and perhaps I can be funny on my next blog!  Here's to change.  Amy, go to your new school and wow them with your excellent skills and phenomenal teaching gifts.  I will still be your friend!   Kids, go out and live your lives.  I promise not to be too offended when I am not needed so very much any more.  Jerry, I think we should take a trip when we have money.  (That actually sounds really nice...hmmn ).  Me----?  I would have to say to myself, "get healthy, and if you don't like who you are, make some changes!! " I feel strong tonight, but we will see in the morning.

 Goodnight all.  I so appreciate the strength of the people in my life.  I learn every day from your examples!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Last of Four.....they are together again!

I am a procrastinator....I mismanage time.....I yield to food that isn't good for me..... But I am a friend.... and I am a mother..... and I have a child coming home tomorrow whom I have not seen for 18 months and two weeks!!

   I realize I haven't given a review on how things went with the boys, and given my procrastination of late,  don't know when that will happen.  Matthew and Mark came home the 19th of February.  They found jobs, worked, and found jobs again!  They are new and improved with just enough of their slothful, yet endearing ways to blend right back into the family.  Rachel is no longer an only child.  It seems good to have them home again.  (yes, it also seemed good to have a empty nest for awhile)  I did not find myself pining too much(:  Time is marching on, and they are all making grown-up decisions.  I am grateful for their maturity, for their work ethic and for their desire to make something of themselves.

I sit here after Midnight and look at my messy kitchen ..pretty much with apathy.  I don't care much right now.  I am tired.  I talked with my sister  and my sister-in-law on the phone for  a long period of time and it was good.  I visited with friends, and I thought a lot about my blessings.  My sister asked me, "Are you happy?"  I thought a moment before I answered her.  I am having a tooth removal and implant on Friday.  My Sister's husband passed away yesterday.  I am worried about the upcoming recital for 40 students.  I haven't cleaned my shower for......ummm...not sure!  My little granddaughter Lauren needs open heart surgery in a few months.  My knees are bad.  I have venous insufficiency, and need some vericose veins removed.  I need more money and time and weekends with nothing to do.  Am I happy?   Yes!  I am happy.  I am content, and so , so blessed.....  I told Liz this with a strong conviction that has not left me since I talked to her an hour ago.

Happiness is truly a state of mind.  I don't always have this state and am grateful for it at the present time.  My daughter Bethany is coming home tomorrow morning.  She and her sister and brothers went out within six months of each other and have fulfilled full-time missions serving people, teaching them Gospel truths and learning so much about themselves.  Six of my seven children have served full-time missions, and I could not be prouder.  
Bethany in her last e-mail said, "I have met people who have changed my life.  I have made life-long friends and have been an influence for good in the lives of others.  I've learned the Gospel and have developed an unshakable testimony of the truthfulness of it and of my Savior Jesus Christ.  God is real and he loves us.  The Book of Mormon is proof of everything I believe.  I came out here with a lot of selfish reasons of why I 'wanted' to serve.  But now I see that I had to serve."

What a bittersweet moment this will be for us as we greet our daughter. I am reluctant to let the experiences that have both affected us come to an end.  I will never again send out a missionary.  I will miss the many e-mails, and the constant reminder that I have a missionary/missionaries in the field being a disciple of Christ.  It has been a joyous experience as we prayed and fasted for them.  I felt the Spirit, and my desire was for them was to feel it and accomplish great things as  they connected with people.  I wanted them to grow in the work and be able to do it.  Lastly, I wanted them to return home with honor, a strong testimony that God lives, and Jesus is the Christ.  I believe that they have all accomplished this.   What a humbling experience it has been for us to share in this journey!!

A new journey awaits each one of then, and I am incredibly excited to see what they will do with their lives.  As is my nature as a born worrier, I try not to dwell on the not so exciting part of mortality. Trials come to all of us, and yet I hope they have learned coping skills,  and the love of a caring Father in Heaven.

To our Bethany, "you are fought the good fight, and stayed the course, and now you are returning home to a house that is filled with the people you love (and will learn to love).  I am sure it will be an adjustment, but life is all about adjusting to change.  Most change can allow us to grow and develop into the person we need to be, and to accomplish what we need to do.  If you can serve a mission, you can do anything!          Love Mom x0x0x0x0x0x0x0xx0 (which is how I signed all my letters)
Sister Taylor and her 'sisters'

Selfies on missions are fun
Putting together boxes for a service project
Bethany and the  Bell ringers....(Christmas time?)

Bethany and Sister Whitbeck (in the middle) with Sister Wensel, Sister Wood and Sister ? These sisters all taught Shirley the Gospel!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

You can't revisit the past /"time marches on"/ The Taylor boys are coming home!

When I was in my teens, I watched a movie entitled "The Two Worlds of Jenny Logan".  I was mesmerized by this show.  Lindsay Wagner, whom I absolutely loved, starred in this riveting story about a woman who falls in love with someone from the past.  She would become faint, and awake in a different time where she fell in love with a handsome gentleman.  Yes, she was already married but they had some difficulties.  Her present husband thought she was crazy when she told him all about her other life, and it was only when she disappeared that he begin to believe her.  He found an old picture in the attic of her other family and children.  She was wearing a particular  necklace he had given to her.  He knew then that she had actually traveled back in time and had lived the other life.  He breaks down sobbing, while I would get goosebumps!!  Well, I thought I would order the DVD on Amazon and re-live that awesome movie.  I was a little disappointed to say the least.  The film seemed faded, the acting contrived and the plot a little silly.  No goosebumps for me!

I thought then about how the past is always a lot more colorful than in reality.  Loved ones are always more perfect after their death, childhood memories are a lot sweeter ,  good times become even better when recalled after a few years have passed.  I think a lot about the kids being little, and about me being younger.  I grow too melancholy and everyone knows I cried quite a bit over my kids leaving on missions.  I felt the end of an era, and wished I had reveled in the past a little more.   Did I remember sleepless nights, and onery kids?  No, I just remembered the  unbelievable cuteness, the rocking of sweet babies, and the love I had for them.  I can scarcely believe I could suddenly be the mother of adult children. It was only yesterday that I remember being 30 years old.  I clearly remember turning 21 and knowing I had arrived as an adult.  I knew everything.  The older I become;  the more I realize I know nothing!!

So the boys come home tomorrow.  My missionaries , Matthew and Mark, respectively Elder Taylor and Elder Taylor!   I will certainly miss those missionary Mondays when they would e-mail me. Has the time gone fast?  Oh, my yes, in countless ways.  I have loved having missionaries.  Although I think wistfully about their babyhood, I love having older children. The wisdom and insights they have gained on their missions have prepared them for life with all its joys and sorrow.  It's now back to the secular life with job searching, college, and girlfriends.  

 You've heard it said, "you can never go home again".  Well, I hope this house is always a home to all my kids wherever they may go.  I wish it to be a safe place, a sanctuary if you will, where they feel loved and appreciated.  

From  Mark's last e-mail:              "  My adventure here in Oklahoma is soon coming to an end, but ends always mean new I've learned much from my Mission. I know much about the enabling power of the Atonement. I've especially come to love a lot of the people I serve. I'm just straight up happy. I will tell you more about that happiness when I see everyone in just a few more days. The Gospel is True!
God Speed!!!"

Elder Mark Taylor

From  Matthew's last e-mail:  " anyways... I have loved my mission. It has been the best two years of my life. I have learned that the church and the restored Gospel is everything. I have also learned to fear God and be accountable to him. I will be going to Kirtland tomorrow with all the departing missionaries and have a special meeting, later we will have a special dinner at the mission home and a small fireside. Thursday morning I will get on a plane and fly back to Utah! See you all very soon."
Elder Matthew Taylor

                                                          A few pictures from the last few weeks

                                                              Ohio got the snow we missed this winter
This poor dog followed them everywhere one day.

Mark at a District lunch
Matthew and his district
Matthew with recent converts

Thank you, my dear sons,  for being such an example to me.  I will never forget this period of your lives and mine.  What a sweet and humbling experience this has been.  Tomorrow!!!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Nutballs, peanut brittle and fudge, oh my!!

This is going to be somewhat of a self-deprecating blog, so be forwarned!~  I am laying it all out there, but I hope you find a little humor along the way (:

  I am in one of those moods where I see no end to the addiction that has plagued me now for the last twenty years.  I love food.  I love to cook it , bake it, and eat it.  There, I said it.  That being said, I don't like how I feel when I overeat it, or abuse it.  I love the social part of eating, and I so love the friends that I eat it with!!  I love the texture of food.  The crunch of cookies with a chewy center, the smoothness of a really good piece of chocolate, the blistered cheese on a piece of pizza and the freshly baked roll with its hot center smeared with softening real butter.   I love the smell of food.  Hot cinnamon oozing from fresh  cinnamon rolls,  cheese and potato soup with just a bit of sour cream bubbling on the stove, and pumpkin cookies with nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves just out of the oven fill the empty places inside me.
I make rolls about every Sunday

Dorma, next door neighbor and friend extraordinaire, makes nut balls each Christmas.  Lori, MaryAnn and I all eagerly gather in her kitchen on an early December afternoon to make these delectable delights of caramel cream, chocolate and roasted almonds.  Idle Isle has nothing over Dorma! She has pefected these tasty little balls of goodness, and we clamor excitedly around her kitchen with our tupperware bowls.  Dorma assigns us our roles in the painstaking process,  and we obediently take our places.  Dorma has melted the chocolate very carefully in the oven at the perfect temperature.  She has pre-made the bowls of caramel, and the kitchen is pristine with every ingredient in an assembly line.  Two people must rub their hands with corn starch,  take a small spoon and dig out the frozen ball of delicious caramel.  It can't be too small or too big, and Dorma gets testy if you can't perform this simple task.  She takes over the chocolate and we toss the balls into the smooth  glossy waves of decadent goodness.   She yells at us if we get more than three or four in the pan.  I have been known to use a little force and splash a bit.  She immediately berates me.  Someone has to let the balls then roll down into a bowl of toasted almonds, gathering the appropriate amount of nuts.  They have to harden for just a minute, and so you must regulate them to the sides until they are deemed  ready to go into our tupperware.  I was taken off the nut duty this Christmas because Dorma said I didn't know how to let them roll, and I let too many pile up on the sides. We let her gripe at us at much as she wants because the nutballs are just that good!  We cannot wait for the rush of sugar speeding through our bloodstreams as we savor them all season long.  Most of us elect not to share them because they must be appreciated for the heavenly little orbits that they are....and our husbands choose to just pop them into their mouths and crunch them down.  They are only allowed one or two because of their insensitivity and ingratitude.
Dorma's famous Nutballs

 I like the way food looks. When I have been depressed or overwhelmed , I immediately turn to making  chocolate chip cookies.  Something about creaming all those ingredients together in perfection,  baking , and then plopping them out onto their cracked little bellies makes me happy.  I like to see the little rivers and craters appear that tell me that they are going to be delicious!  After performing the "plop test" I know immediately if I have a success! After having a c-section with Rachel and having four other little kids clamor around me that night after getting home, I baked cookies.  Jerry was gone to a meeting, and I wanted the familarity of my kitchen and hot cookies.  It brought me instant comfort when I was besieged with thoughts of "how can I possibly raise five kids under seven?"  Hah, little did I know there would come another night just like that one after giving birth to twin boys and having  seven kids under nine years of age!!  My sister Liz would aften call me late at night in those days  and say in a small, pleading little voice, "is this the  home bakery where I can get hot cookies and milk?"  I would be only too happy to oblige.  I baked, and we all were a little happier for a moment.
My nephew and niece Brian and Cadie eating hot cookies 
  Making food for people has always meant love to me.  My dad adored peanut brittle.  Mom had a world famous peanut brittle recipe.  We learned to snub our noses at other peanut brittle.  Hers was thick, shiny and beautiful with lots of peanuts.  Every year she would make that brittle for Dad.  She never used a candy thermometer.  She got the "never fail cup of ice water" and dipped a little of that  brittle in it as the candy boiled away.  Need to know the soft ball stage?  Does it sit on your finger after pulling it from the water?  How about the brittle stage?  Does it crack between your teeth?  I remember sitting around her warm kitchen on a cold winter's night testing bits of candy for her as we munched away at the tiny slivers of brittle.  I make it the very same way.  After my Dad died at the young age of 56, I made it for George , my dear friend SueAnn's beloved father.  He loved it as much as Thiel (my dad).  George passed away a couple of years ago, and I still make it.  My friends Vickie and Robin like it so we trade candy.  Robin makes me ginger molasses cookies, and Vickie (or her husband Rock) give me their famous pecan roll.  It's all good...and I do mean good!   SueAnn doesn't like peanut brittle so much so I make fudge.  I confess that when I sent it home with her daughter Kylie, I wanted to make another batch for myself.  Then I told Kylie I would make her a batch just for her (so I could eat some)...  When I make the peanut brittle, I look at mom's handwriting on paper, and I am feeled with longing for her.   It has been over fifteen years since we made peanut brittle together.  I remember thinking that I could not do it without her that first year after her death,  but as I looked at  her scrawled words on an old recipe book that is blotted with spills I felt her with me.  Looking at her handwriting floods  me with a sweet remembrance of that childhood home where I felt safe and loved.
Mom's peanut brittle recipe

 My friend Laurie, who is a far better cook and baker than I, would make cookies on a sunday afternoon while we all waited in piggish anticipation.  She lived just down the street and we would walk back and forth between our two houses expecting to see something exciting everytime we opened the door.  Not much was ever happening so we baked instead. Our favorite was chocolate chips cookies.   Laurie would get a little testy as we would eat them up as quickly as she would pull a batch from the oven.  We were not nearly as grateful as we should have been for such delectable treats.  Sitting in Ireta's kitchen (her mom) was wonderful.  Life was so relaxing then with no kids, and worries for the future.  Oh sure, we all whined about when we would be married and have kids.  We really did pine for those days when we would know true happiness.  We would make bets on who would get married first and be in wedded bliss.  Little did we know that life would be a lot more complicated than afternoons at Laurie's table eating cookies, chocolate eclairs and fudge.

Yup, I have an affection for food.  I am trying to figure out why, and I think that I use it in a variety of ways, the most blatant way being a true addiction.

   "Addiction is characterized by inabiltiy to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one's behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response."

I got that from ASAM ( American Society of Addiction Medicine, and I think it sums it up pretty well! Why can I not be addicted to exercise, or cleaning?  Everything in moderation they say.... but I wish I were different.  Wishing does not make it so, however, and tonight I make no promises about any decisive actions other than to do what I have always done....."sigh, and complain, and fervently resolve to do differently just for tomorrow" .  Except the tomorrows are becoming the weeks, months and years, and next year I will be sixty years old. ):

I want to play with my grandkids, go on trips, and climb the stupid stairs to my house without pain.
Yes, I have an underactive thyroid, and yes, my genetic make-up does not lean toward thin and willowy.....but....eating sensibly can keep the demons at bay.  I have been watching "My 600 pound life" and am both amazed and saddened by what I see...  There , but for the grace of God go I?  Yet, did not these people have a mere fifty pounds to lose at one time?  It's all relative.  I have decided that for some of us, ten pounds is as hard as a hundred.

Mom and I attended an Uncle's funeral the year before she passed away and as we stood in the room waiting to close the casket and say our goodbyes, she leaned towards me and whispered something.
I thought she was going to say something loving about Uncle Thayle, but no, she said conspiratorily, "Jane, it's not our fault, I tell you!"  "What isn't, Mom?"  I queried...  "Have you ever been in a room with as many fat people as this, and they are all our relatives!" she whispered back.    We contemplated these words as we stopped at Chuck A Rama on the way home.

Matthew and Mark are coming home in just a month, and the mom who left them at the MTC two years ago will look like the same mom who picks them up.  I've changed, but not so much in the physical sense.  I wanted them to see the new, fit mom who had conquered the food addiction. But I have changed nonetheless.  The wisdom, the gratitude, and the wonderment that I have gained in seeing my own children transformed has in return changed me.  For just a little frame of time, I was elevated to a place where I lived vicariously through their experiences in the mission field. We  prayed for the people they taught, we fasted for each missionary, we worried and we rejoiced.  We were so, so blessed and as excited as I am to see my kids again; I am reluctant to say goodbye to this part of my journey with my full-time missionary children.    Rachel's maturity and transformation  is in her eyes, her demeanor, and her interaction with people.  Being a disciple of Christ has changed her.  "She gets it".

Most people who serve on a mission say this, " I loved seeing people's lives change for the better". Our behaviors and desires can change through the healing, cleansing and enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

I hope I can remember this and keep striving as I keep the commandments.  Somedays I am earnest, and other days not so much.  I long for the true freedom that self-mastery can give me.

Perhaps next year,  I can resolve my relationship with Dorma's nutballs!!