Saturday, August 15, 2015

Thoughts on the Present

My word of the year is "Present".

Initially I had in mind what that meant.  To be present was to be here.  To enjoy the good things around me, the growing up, the changing and learning.   I was to live intentionally in the present of what was happening around me.  My life.  My family.  It was to be enjoyed.

I still believe that, but with more depth.  That depth coming in the form of the not so good times.  The times when you wish you could skip ahead, or bury your head in the sand (or back in the covers) and wait out the storm of learning and growing and changing because it is just so dang hard.  The times when things aren't so good and you're not so sure you want to do this, whatever this is, anymore.

In general I try to be a positive person.  It used to come naturally to me.  The older I have gotten and the more I have learned it has become increasingly easy to be cynical.  To dive deep into the social media fodder of the wronged and think we're all going to "hell in a hand basket".  To dive deep into my own parenting and think "my kids are going to hell in a hand basket and it's all my fault!"  To forget that I have knowledge and experience and a close up look at my world and what it entails and own it.

I am the one standing in my own shoes.  No one else.

I am the one that chooses to be happy or sad.  To tackle things head on.  To send others to the side lines.  I am the one that decides what is important in my life, what my priorities are, and what will help me feel satisfied with my life at the end of the day. No one else regardless of family, friend, or other connection can do that for me.  They can help me make my decisions, but I have the last say.

Life is hard. And that's okay.  It's how it's supposed to be.  It's how we learn, and grow, and change.  But that doesn't mean we have to be miserable through it.  And it doesn't mean that everything is awful.  Because it's not.

I was listening to the radio this morning and there was commentary about a report that concluded that having children is the worst thing that could happen to a person and their happiness level.  I wondered how that could be? Was the test group really that cynical?  Where were they in their lives?  How could those results be valid?  That certainly wasn't true for me.  Children made me so very happy... and then.

And then the sleepless night caught up with me.  I was quickly overwhelmed by everything that needed to be done and I wanted to run from my house screaming at the top of my lungs.  I wondered where that put-together, capable, positive can-do-anything person went.  That person that used to be nicknamed "Smiley" because I always had a smile on my face.  Hard to imagine now, I know.

A lot of life is hard.  Day to day chores drive me insane sometimes.  My children give me grey hairs and bring out my inner swear-word-user like never before.  Only rivaled by a brief rebellious period in high school when I was trying to be cool.  Except then I was in control, now it comes with deep feelings of anger and frustration and for the love of all things will you please just go to sleep!!  Swearing, even under my breath at 2am helps me vent some frustration without taking it out on my kid.  Never mind that there's a higher way.... still learning people!

Anyway, back to the report on the radio.  I couldn't help but wonder where these people were in their lives.  And are happiness and honest to goodness satisfaction the same thing?  Which one would I rather have?  Are these people just starting out with their families, right in the middle, or looking back on an empty house?  Because let's be honest, a lot of the day to day with children in the house is not "happy".  It's getting things done.  It's figuring out how to get your children to want to be good, responsible, respectful people.  It's hard, and grueling, and taking all of your energy sometimes.  And you wonder how you are going to manage, and what kind of things your kid will need therapy for in a few years. Or what you'll regret when you get a moment to look back.

The "happy" of these years comes in spurts.  It's the smile of the little one after that d@mn 2 am feeding that keeps you going and softens your heart.  It's when your older child wants nothing more than to give little brother a big squeeze and a kiss and then tells you that he loves you too.  The giggles, the smiles, the energy and life.  They are brief but much more poignant.  They hold you over through the rest.

My oldest is 3 1/2 years old and my trials have just begun. I have school, and tears, and teenage years to look forward to.  Times when we won't like each other at all.  And times when we'll be so glad to be this little family.

I want to be present through it all.  The good and the bad.  The good for obvious reasons, the bad so that I can fully appreciate all that is good.  Because at the end of the day, there is good.  Even if it's simply acknowledging that you are a day closer to the end of your trial.  A day wiser.  A day that is done.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

It's a Miracle! My Child is Still Alive

As Mother's Day approaches rather rapidly, there have been a few thoughts running through my mind that I feel the need to share.  Enough that I am resurrecting this blog in order to get it all out there, available for anyone to see.

First. May all mothers of young children first and foremost congratulate themselves each and every day that their child still lives.  My kid is 3.  THREE.  Let's set aside the fact that time has gone rather quickly and focus on what that actually means and why it is important to celebrate the fact that he still lives.

Three for us means:

1. Ben finding and demanding his independence.

2. An escalation in monumental fits (ya know cause that actually works??)

3.  The introduction of regular chores, which I love, Ben doesn't always think so.

4.  A sense of humor that kills me sometimes.

5.  Negotiation on Ben's part.  "Just one more minute mom, k."

There's more, but these will suffice right now.  Let's talk about chores.  Chores like setting the table and making one's bed.  Chores that are not hard.  Chores that he has done several times by himself already and has proven quite proficient for a 3-year old.  Chores that have made him feel more capable and have actually improved his mood all the way around.  Mostly.

I say mostly because sometimes this little independent 3-year old gets a bee in his bonnet and just won't let it go.  Today it was about making his bed.  I told him he had to make his bed before he could go outside and play, or anything else really, and he was devastated.  Hurt.  Wounded both body and soul.  And he chose to have it manifest in his body, every little part of it.  His fingers hurt, his toes hurt, his head, his eyebrow, forehead, arm, elbow, knee etc.  EVERYTHING.  And everything needed a kiss better, and everything got repeatedly hurt with each little step towards completing his task.

I will not go into all of the sordid details, but suffice it to say that whining was the music of the morning, not every owie got kissed, and my patience wore thin in a hurry.  It's not like I changed the order of things.  It's the same every day. It's routine, it's how it's been for the last several months.  And most of the time he's jumped at the chance to do his part.  And in the effort to keep it real for all you mothers out there, I will have you know I exercised great restraint on my part.  Almost superhuman!  The urge to beat my child into submission was strong.  And if I hadn't learned already, from sad experience that I hope he won't have to have counseling for later on in life, that a spanking doesn't actually work on Ben and only suffices to confuse him and make me feel like a tyrant...well just oy!!

At the end of it all, the bed was made and not by me.  An hour later than usual, but not by me.  Ben's spirit only slightly broken, which is really okay because the stubbornness of the 3-year old is legendary and could use some tempering.  And now we are both happily doing what we would like to be doing on this glorious Thursday morning.

However, the day is still young!

So Mothers.  Mothers of young and old, good and bad and all that's in between.  Don't be too hard on yourselves.

Take the glowing reviews of perfect Mothers that will surely be shared somewhere this Mother's Day with a grain of salt, knowing that they struggled too.

Know that as long as you are trying you are doing great!

Know that you are okay and are the perfect mom for your kids.

He's also learning to dress himself.

Monday, January 5, 2015

My Word of the Year

I know, you've all been on pins and needles waiting to see what my word for this year will be.  Me too my friends.  I have toyed with a few ideas but none felt right.  I almost went into panic mode when the new year started and I still had no idea what I would be focusing on this year.  But then I remember that it was my year, my timeline, and that I could breathe.  The new year could start off just fine without my word.

And then it came to me.  And it was good.

Last year I focused on Hope.  And it was a good word for me at the time.  I spent a lot of time in despair before that.  Not taking the time to realize that there was a lot in my life to hope for.  Hope coupled with Faith brought about a second child for us.  Something that was taken off the table of reality but was still a hope of ours.  That's been the biggest blessing last year.  There were plenty of little things that were made better by hope, my relationship with Ben, my marriage, etc.  I guess those aren't really little things, but they are the day to day and sometimes that seems little.

Moving forward.

The word I chose this year, the word that quiet literally popped into my head in the wee small hours of the morning is:


There.  There it is.  I told this to David and he looked at my funny until I explained.  Present means being here.  Being here for my life and all that is in it.  Stop living in my head, or at least try to, and start living where I actually am.  Take time to look around at the here and now and actually be present for the wonder that is happening around me.

I can't tell you how many fun, cute, precious moments in time have happened with Ben that I have been too caught up in the rush of things to sit down and record.  Either by photo or written word.  All because what I was doing seemed to be more important, more urgent.  What could be more important or urgent that childhood?  I will always have projects that I want to do, and some that really do need to be done, but I want to take the time to be present for those precious and scarce moments that bring true joy to this little life of mine.

I want to live here and now.  Present does not mean I do not look toward the future or that I stop reflecting on the past, but I do not need to live in either one.

During this pregnancy I have spent a lot of time trying to realize that it is not the same one that I had with Ben.  I didn't write much during my first pregnancy because I was sicker that a dog, quite literally, and depressed out of my mind.  It was an absolute miserable time that I never wanted to repeat. Ever.  Ever.  Yet here I am pregnant again.  Rather than really enjoying the good news and the very real prospect of another child being brought into our family I spent a good portion of time waiting for the horror that was my first pregnancy to hit.  I went so far as to try to get all the good cuddling and loving time in with Ben while we were doing IVF because I just knew that once I got pregnant and the sick hit that would be the end of it.  I would spent weeks in the fetal position on the couch with a bucket too sick and depressed to move and my child would be left on his own wondering what happened to his mother.  My actions put both of us in a panic and accomplished nothing.  In fact it was the opposite.  It kind of freaked Ben out because he fed off of my apparently not too well hidden panic mode and started acting out.  It was just a mess.

And then the sickness didn't really hit like it had before.  Sure I got sick and there are still some relatively bad days, but NOTHING like before.  Nothing.  There was only one or two whole days spent worshiping the toilet gods on a regular basis as compared to the weeks I did last time.  Weeks that turned into months and a deep abiding hatred of ramen noodles and Banquet chicken pot pies.  I still shudder!

So there I was panicking for nothing.  No good reason.  I kept waiting still for it to hit.  Even now it seems so odd that I have done so well with everything.  Almost like I can't really be pregnant because it was "too easy" this time around.  I have the ultrasound pictures sitting by my desk as a reminder that this is really all happening.

I also don't want to freak out about the future.  I don't want to worry about what might be, or even get caught dreaming of what could be and pinning all of my happiness on plans that may or may not happen.

I want to be here.  Experiencing life as it is happening.  Finding the joy, the hope, things to be thankful for every day.  I really do believe we are surrounded by good things even in bad times.  Sometimes even more so in bad times, we just have to look a little harder to see them.

May your 2015 be spectacular my friends.  May happiness abound and your lives be blessed.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Merry Christmas One and All

As this magical time of year has come upon us in full force, I have felt positively inspired to send out a Christmas letter.  This will be the second letter I have ever sent out in the course of David and I’s 9 years of marriage.  Look for another in about 5 years.

Well, what has this year brought the David and Lora Sullivan family?

For Ben.  It has brought his continued existence which was no easy feat at times.  He turned 2 in February and though I love him dearly, it has brought its own unique set of challenges.  Ben has learned that it is in fact not okay to run around naked even though he is so proud of himself for being able to de-diaper his cute little bum all by himself.  He has learned the meaning of time-out much to his chagrin and momma’s delight.  He has learned to work the television and the dvd player on his own (I’m still not sure if I should be proud of this fact) but thankfully Netflix still remains a mystery of buttons to him else the mind numbing sounds of George’s Halloween Boofest would be haunting me even more than it does already… oh the horror!

All is not discouraging though.  He is talking up a storm and has also learned the sheer delight that it is to sneak up on someone to give them a good fright which makes this momma’s heart melt.  He also has a healthy grasp on the letter “W” and knows that if you turn an “M” upside down it too becomes a “W”!!  Which is why he so often turns the hymnbook upside down during church as well as looks at some signs with his head tilted.

For me this year has been full of changes and I sometimes marvel that we have all survived.  Or rather that everyone has survived me!  I am expecting our second child which we received through the miracle of modern medicine.  Say what you will about it, but IVF has brought both our children into our home and I’m truly grateful for the doctors and nurses who make it all possible as well as the angel that blessed us financially to be able to pursue it once again.  That being said, if any of you have gone through this process… wowza!  One of David’s accomplishments this year really is surviving his hormone hyped up wife and that was all just to get pregnant.  I’m not sure how he handles things now, though he does spend a lot of time in his office.  Hmmm.

So my accomplishments this year include: surviving injections with flying colors, not killing anyone close to me during the process, and making it out of bed every day to at least get my son dressed. Dressing myself seems to be optional these days. I have also mopped my floor at least a dozen times, dusted the entire house all at once, and I even thought really hard about planting a garden. 

Now for David. The saint.  I mentioned his survival of me earlier which earns him a plethora of brownie points in heaven I’m sure.  He still enjoys his job and even got a raise this year, woo-hoo!  It was just enough to cover the upcoming raise in our insurance rates!  He survived his 3-year stint in scouts and is now enjoying his new calling as High Priest Group Secretary and I enjoy having him home more often.  He is still working part time at CAPSA which he also enjoys for more than just the work.  Since his regular job has him working from home his outings to CAPSA give him a chance to get out of the house which is also nice.

That pretty much sums up our lives at this point.  However I would be remiss in not mentioning my love for this time of year and the reason that it is so special.  I know that Christmas has been commercialized to death and that part is not my favorite.  But I do love that it is a chance to show each other that you care.  The chance to find the gift that will delight.  The chance to share with a gift the love that we feel.  I know that it is something we should do all year and some are better at it than others.  But still, even if this is the only time we put someone else above ourselves I am grateful for the one time.  The one time that most people around us are feeling the magic of the season just the same as we are.

May God bless you all this season and this coming year.  May we all do a little better and love each other a little more.

With love,

David, Lora, and Ben

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Logan 12th Ward Super Saturday

The Logan 12th ward Relief Society Activity is coming up!

This Saturday
November 22, 2014
11am - 3 pm
Open House style so you can come and go as you please.

A light lunch and nursery will be provided and if you want to bring some treats to share, please do!

Money for this activity is due by Wednesday the 19th.  You can give it to anyone in the Relief Society Presidency or on the activities committee and they'll get it to the right person.  

And for those who don't know who that is, the RS Presidency is made up of:  Ellen Millburn, Susan Speedy, Lora Sullivan, and Sharla Goring.

The activities committee is: Kathrin Fore, Peggy Ramsten, Felecia Kimber, Jennie Pakalani, and Natalie Montgomery.

If you would like to order any of the items listed below please email or call me (Lora) so I can get it on the list.  
Email:  Call: 435-774-0074  or 
Text 435-760-5639

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Why I Did It

I changed my profile picture of Facebook.

It may look like I followed the crowd.

It may look like I'm just trying to do something cool to "fit in" with what could be seen as the "cookie cutter" Mormon crowd.

It may look like I didn't put much thought into it and just decided to change it on a whim.

None of that is true.

For those of you who don't know where it comes from, there was an even created on Facebook called I'm a Mormon profile picture week.  You can find it here.  I was invited through someone and honestly thought at first that it was just one of those silly things that people do for no real reason.  Something to put us all in the same round hole whether you are shaped that way or not.  A giant "Gooooo Team!" right after General Conference. As I read the details though there seemed to be a bit more to it. 

The person who created it stated that "My hope is that you will participate and invite all of your Latter-day Saint Facebook friends to do so as well. Those not of our faith on Facebook may be surprised to discover they know someone who is "Mormon". And I pray that through that simple thing, sincere questions will be asked and gospel related conversations will be had. Together, we can help bring people closer to Jesus Christ and His restored gospel."

I liked the idea.  I liked what it could do.  But I still wasn't sure I would do it.  Not until I heard Elder David A Bednar's talk on Sunday afternoon.  Lest you should think otherwise he did not say to join this movement.  He just said something that pricked my heart.  A few things really.

His talk was about sharing the gospel.  He said in so many words that sharing what has helped us in our lives is not unusual.  We do it all the time in many different ways.  We share pictures of things that make us laugh, stories that bring joy, household products that helps us clean better.  I mean come on people, we live in a world of sharing everything and we have the power to do so at our fingertips.

And yet.

When it comes to sharing the most important things in my life, I hesitate.  Not because I don't think they are worth sharing but because I'm afraid of being mocked, of having my heartfelt words and experiences trampled upon.  I don't actually know anyone who would really do that but the fear is still there.  And that's just silly.  Silly but not.

I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I love it.  I love the role that it plays in my life.  I love the simple pure teachings of Jesus.  His love.  His compassion.  His courage.  His example.  I love and am so very grateful for the compassion and mercy that he shows towards me.  The compassion and mercy that I have felt and cannot deny.  

My life has not been easy.  No one's life is really when you get down to it.  We all have trials and times in our lives that make us show our metal.  We all have hard decisions to make, sometimes daily.  We all have experiences that are difficult whether of our making or not.

I used to go through some of these things and shake my fist at the heavens.  Wonder why they were happening to me.  What had I done to deserve these things.

And yet.

The things that have made me shake my fist are some of the very things that have caused me to learn and grow the most.  They have brought me closer to Christ and God.  They have brought me more peace than I thought possible.  While going through the trial it's often difficult to see the whole picture.  Really difficult.  However, as I look back on my life I can't help but see so many tender mercies.  So many things that I thought had gone wrong were really so very right.  I can see God's hand in so many things.  Enough to know that as I walk forward now, not seeing clearly the path before me, I know that I will be alright.  I know that as long as I do my best to follow Christ, to love those around me, to serve, to have compassion, to give the benefit of the doubt, to show mercy... God will take care of me and my family. He will light my path and help me become who he needs me to be.  Who he wants me to be.  

I know there will be more trials, more stretching of my faith and more times that I may be tempted to shake my fist.  But I also know that God is in the heavens and he has not forgotten us.  I know of his love and his intimate interest in my life and desire for my welfare.  And I know that it is not exclusive to me.  He is interested in all of his children, which is all of you.

I am a Mormon.  A Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I love it.  I live it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Most Eloquent Prayer

I have a friend who has a friend who has a perfect child.  A child that is kind and considerate and says thoughtful and meaningful prayers at the age of 3.  Prayers that make you say to yourself, "Man I'm glad I have this child, how lucky am I!"

As I listened to my friend who has the friend (confusing no?) the competitive mamma inside of reared up and thought "Eloquent prayers out of your child... I'll give you eloquent prayers out of a child.  Move over sister, a new kid is taking over."  And to prove it, I've decided to share a transcript of my child's eloquent and meaningful prayer at the young and tender age of 2 1/2 years.


Mom: Ben, would you like to say your prayers before bed?

Ben: No.

Ben falls facedown on the ground and doesn't move.  Mom takes this as a sign that he's ready to pray.  She leans over and whispers in his ear.

M: Heavenly Father
B: silence

M: Thankful for this day
B: Nice

M: Thankful for our home.
B: Nice

M: Please helps us be nice
B: silence

M: Help us to sleep well.
B: Sleep

M: In the name of Jesus Christ
B: looks at mom in frustration and says Daddy!

M: repentant of her neglect of family says Please bless Daddy
B: Daddy

M: Please bless Mommy
B: silence

M: Please bless Mommy
B: silence

M: In the name of Jesus Christ
B: looks at mom in frustration and says Toys!

M: Thankful for our toys
B: trucks

M: Thankful for our trucks
B: Nice

M: In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen
B: sigh

There you have it my friends.  He's a natural!  Perhaps someday I'll even make it into his prayers!  A mother can only hope.

M: smile Ben!
B: No.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Some Things About My Child

I have learned some things about my child.  Some necessary and sanity saving things.  Some things that from the outside looking in, might seem like I have no control over my child and there was a time when I would have agreed completely.  Thankfully for myself and for Ben, my understanding has changed.

Take today for example.  Today we were at Charlie's Ice Cream with friends.  It was a large group and there were only a few others who came in after we had settled down with our ice cream so we pretty much had the joint to ourselves.  There was music on the jukebox and the children were playing.  Ben was dancing to the tunes and running around playfully.  (Now I say playfully because I understand that to him, that's what it is.)  He was laughing and occasionally squealing with delight as other children played with him.  He squeals with delight if anyone, adult or child, plays with him.

After several rounds and the recapturing of shoes, David and I tried to contain the bundle of energy that is our son and head home.  He went down for a nap almost immediately.  There was one more round of chasing to be done before the diaper could be changed and he was ready for a nap.

As I sat in Charlies wondering at the energy of my son, I also marveled at how much I have come to accept him.  Not to be confused with "giving up" on him.  But really accepting who he is.  Before he was part of our lives I would never have even imagined myself letting a child run around a restaurant.  That's just not what you let your kids do.  They need to sit quietly and respectfully, not interrupting anyone else.  In fact I would have passed judgement on those who did.

But now?  Now I have Ben.  He is not anything special, he just has more energy in his little toe than I have in my whole body some times.  So here are the things that I have learned and come to love about my child.

1.  He needs to be social. He thrives off of it.  He is friendly and open and makes friends easily wherever he goes, no matter the age.  1-100 he's there to say hello and make a friend. When I keep him in the house too long (not in hours but in days) he starts to wither.  If we go more than 2 days without contact with other people, he starts to get ornery and whiny.  I've even thought he must be sick or something physical was bothering him, but the second he is in contact with someone else he's a changed person, especially if there is someone new to play with.  And I really mean the second.  He will practically drag friends away from their parents to go play with him.

2.  He needs to keep things light and playful.  He picks up quickly on whether I'm upset or even just too serious.  He tries to do things to put a smile on my face and lighten the mood around him.  This is especially apparent when he is in trouble for doing something wrong.  He quickly tries to divert attention to something that usually makes me laugh or smile. I used to think that he was trying to get out of being disciplined but have since learned that it's not the discipline but the "heaviness" of it all.  He wants me to be happy.  If I come down too harsh on him during these times I will not be able to reach him to help him understand what he has done wrong because he will be too busy trying to get me to smile again.  When I back off a little and take him to task gently, he's more likely to listen and make changes to his behavior.

3.  He needs to move.  Not likes or prefers, but actually needs to move.  It is who he is.  I simply cannot expect him to sit completely still during church.  I can expect him to be quiet during church. He can do reverent activities, but to just sit still?  Impossible.  It's like he has a quota of energy that needs to be expended every day.  He needs to take so many running steps, jump so many times, bounce and cavort around the room and crash into things with great vocal gusto.  He needs to move and shake and play and be happy and creative.

All of these things that I love about my child have been a challenge for me.  I do not need to move as much as he does.  Not even 10th of what he does.  I do not like to be out of my house all that much and I like to think about things seriously.  I'm not always happy, not that I'm necessarily sad but I'm just more serious than he is.  I'm not always up to being social and oftentimes would prefer to sit down and watch a movie or read a book.  Which means that sometimes Ben exhausts me.

What are my choices though?  Do I squash Ben's energy, his happy personality, the excitement and joy that he gets out of life?  Some of the very things that are essentially him?  I could have forced Ben to sit still at Charlie's.  He would have cried.  He would have fought me.  He wouldn't have been able to play with the other kids.  We as parents wouldn't have been able to talk to anyone about anything because we would have had to hold him in the vice-grip of death in order for him to sit still.  We would have ended up leaving almost immediately upon arrival and we would have all had a miserable time.

I didn't want that.  I wanted to enjoy my time.  So instead I let him run.  I let him brings a smile to people's face even as they thought perhaps someone should "sit that kid down".  But I honestly don't think anyone was thinking that.  I watched as he greeted people and most everyone answered with a genuine smile and even laughter.  I kept one eye on the people I was with and one eye on him.  When he sat down at someone else's table and started making the little girls laugh, I went and got him so they could enjoy their ice cream together.  When he started for the door to go outside and visit with another family, I wouldn't let him.  He needed to stay safe where I could see him.  He didn't like it, but he did obey.  He could play with the kids that were a part of our group.  When he starting playing in the drinking fountain I stopped him.  He has boundaries, they just don't look like what even I thought they would.

More important than me enjoying my time though, is the responsibility that I have as a parent to my child.  I do not want him growing up thinking that the very things that make him who he is, are wrong or bad or unacceptable.  I want him to always be that happy, social, fun-loving child.  The one who brightens a room.  There will be plenty of people and opportunities as he grows older that will make him question his worth.  He will second guess the things that are so natural to him.  I do not want that questioning to start with me.  I want to be his biggest cheerleader, honoring his unique perspective and abilities and who he really is.  I want him to be able to learn to work with his energy and meet his potential.  No reservations.

Wish us both luck!