Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Oh my goodness. That is ELEVEN birthday wishes for this boy, today, on his birthday.
Elliott, you were born bright and early on a Tuesday morning, and are celebrating your 11th birthday on a Tuesday as well. I remember the day you were born. It was exciting and scary; emotional and overwhelming all at the same time. We were so excited to get you here, and so desperately terrified once you got here. Well, I was terrified. Dad? He is always pretty cool.
Now, all these years later, the day you were born and our nervousness about whether or not you were going to breathe and be okay have faded and mom and dad, we are left with the joy (and sometimes frustration) of watching you grow up.
You my boy, you are such a good boy! I love to watch you grow and learn. I love to watch you laugh and dance. I love to watch you sit with the grown-ups at dinner and try to figure out everything that we are talking about. I love to watch you play soccer and basketball and talk to you about the books you are reading. I LOVE that I can give you the money and sent you and your brother's into the 7-11 without me and everything will work out okay. I love that you are learning from your mistakes and making good choices in your life.
I am blown away by how smart you are. How kind you CAN BE to your brothers, and how much you love babies - there aren't many 11 year old's who dive for baby cousins the second they enter a room to hold and cuddle and get them to laugh. Baby Brady is pretty lucky to have you as his oldest cousin.
You are getting so tall. You are getting so mature. Now, as I gush with all these platitudes about how great you are - I still remember the day a couple weeks ago when, in a momentary lapse in judgement, and a little out of spite, you destroyed all your brothers mine craft homes and worlds and started a brotherly rumble that took two weeks to earn all the screens back. And, I saw those elbows you threw in your basketball game the other Saturday. Yeah, I remember that, too. I'm like an elephant, I never forget.
In a year, you are going to be a deacon and have priesthood responsibilities in our church. A few years after that, you will be driving and then, in a short sneeze after that, you will be gone. Whether a mission or college or eventually both, you will jump away from me and it will be so exciting for you. Being your mom up to this point, it's felt like you will be mine forever. Something about eleven though - it feels like I've turned the corner and my time with you is S L O W L Y ...starting to shrink.
I love you (and your brothers) so much. I feel so lucky everyday that I get to be your mom. That I get to watch you grow, be your chauffeur and your teacher and your cook. As sad as it feels for me to see you growing up sometimes, I just cannot wait to see all that is in front of you.
You, Elliott Moyle Howden, have a bright future ahead of you.
Sunday, January 21, 2018
Today, I spoke in sacrament meeting as part of the Relief Society Presidency. I'm the second counselor. Our assigned topic was "the ward family" which is a totally made up topic that has nearly zero talks or other references to work with, so that a speaker can not sound like she made the whole thing up.
Well, I made the whole thing up - the talk that is, not the details within it. Those are true. I talked about my ward growing up and about an experience Ross and I had right before Christmas.
If you'd like to read it, here it is. My mom said I should put it on the blog.
I was raised in Magna, Utah and grew up as a member of a pretty interesting ward. I was in the same ward as my grandparents and they were two of the founders. In fact, my grandpa was bishop of the Lake Ridge 4th ward twice, totaling 13 years in a 20 year span. My grandma unofficially ran the show in our ward and her dominance started with our row. You see, the back row of the chapel was reserved for the Huber family, my family. In fact, if someone was sitting on our pew as we walked into the chapel for sacrament meeting, my grandmother would politely request they move and stand there until they did. Not only did we have our row, we also had assigned seats. I sat next to my grandmother, no questions asked. It was my job to pass out the Werther’s Originals after the sacrament.
During my childhood, there were some characters in my ward, the most interesting being Bob. He once ran for President of the United States. He also built an ark in his backyard, always carried a ketchup packet in his front pocket, sometimes came to church using a wheelchair and drove around in a van with a hand carved orca whale on the roof. There was Gary, who was legally blind and a Type 1 Diabetic and in spite of his vision impairment and amputated toes, still drove around the neighborhood daily. When BYU won a game on a Saturday, Vernita, wore her “BYU Blue” dress to church on Sunday to show her allegiance. And my dad made sure to wear his bright red Utah tie when the opposite was true. There was Tor, the Norwegian sign painter; Evelyn who we called “evil-lynn” because, well, she was; and the Hills who we referred to as the Radley’s because the whole family rarely came outside, except for church, and they all reminded us of Boo. Brother Wolfgram was from New Zealand and was crushed upon by every woman and young woman in my ward because of his kind heart, Mauri accent, and striking good looks. Sue and Yvonne were two of the old grandmas of our ward who crocheted dish rags and made bottle brush cleaners for everyone’s birthday. Brother Rhode was a single dad and my mom’s unofficial primary counselor who did the greatest sharing times I’ve ever seen and Brother Edwards was the most enthusiastic primary chorister who ever lived and he ran singing time like a rock concert. My home teachers growing up were Brother Burkette and Brother Weber. They were both eternally in their 80’s and faithfully came every month for years until they each passed away. They always stayed too long, but they were hilarious. Watching their monthly performance was like watching Statler and Waldorf, the old guys in the balcony from the Muppets.
When I turned 9 years old, my dad was called to be the bishop. He was 33 and the calling required him to cut off his permed mullet to lead our ward. In the 6 years he was bishop, I sat on the front row as he performed many weddings and presided of many funerals; was his faithful home teaching companion to all the widows in the ward, and always rode shotgun as we traveled to activities, fundraisers and service projects. Once, as bishop, my dad was invited by the mother of a new family in our ward to be her dance partner, to the song “Hungry Eyes” in the ward talent show. He declined.
This is the short list of some of the more eccentric members of my ward growing up and I tell you about these people with no malice or ill will. In fact, quite the opposite. These individuals were part of my ward family growing up and they, with so many others, helped to turn me into the person I am today. They were my teachers and advisors, often my role models, and sometimes, bright flashing warning signs. Robert D. Hales said in 1996 that ward families are made up of adults, youth, children, the single, married and widowed all caring for and strengthening one another. Unlike our ward today, there were only a total of 6 kids (2 boys and 4 girls) my age growing up, and our mutual never totalled more than 30. There was often a “recycling” of adults in leadership positions and the same 6 women ran our ward’s young women’s program faithfully for decades, just rotating presidency and advisory roles. And, those 6 women, Wendy, Beth, Karen, Leia, Kandie and Shannon were some of the most influential in my life, even calling me to be the 1st counselor in the YW presidency months after I graduated from high school.
The “ward family” is not something mentioned in any handbook. In fact, there are very few searchable talks and references through church websites and resources. On LDS.org, there were remarks given by a man named David Brown in December of 2005. He stated that the purpose of a ward family is two-fold. One, to ease loneliness for those that are lonely - the widowed, elderly, and solitary members who need checking in, sacrament brought to their homes, or someone to talk to. The second purpose is to provide a safe harbor. A ward family that is a safe harbor, according to Brown does the following: has warm and friendly members; testimonies shared with conviction; abounds in charity; has well attended activities and dedicated home and visiting teachers who rarely miss a visit. I would add, a ward that is a safe harbor also has youth who do not feel isolated or excluded, members who accept callings and opportunities to teach, pray and speak willingly, and an overwhelming light of Christ. Simply put, a ward family creates a sense of community and support for those living within its boundaries, regardless of whether or not those individuals are members of the Church.
The Friday before Christmas, Ross and I attended a funeral. The husband of a co-worker passed away from quick battle with cancer - he was a navy veteran and a lifelong smoker who had been suffering from bad health for months. There were only about 25 people in attendance - primarily co-workers and a few family members flown in from Kentucky. The memorial service was held in the Relief Society room of a church in Sandy, conducted by a bishop, with food provided by a Relief Society. The family is not LDS, but due to the husband’s health problems, had through a friend been in contact with their bishop and the sister missionaries. Even though the occasion was sad, this memorial service was uplifting and inspiring. Ross contacted the Navy and had military honors performed. The bishop had been talking with the family for several months and had taken the time to get to know them. He shared personal experiences and insights that were perfect for the small service. Each of the deceased's brothers shared a few words in their thick Kentucky drawls. They spoke lovingly of their brother, but more interestingly, they spoke of the surprise and amazement at the LDS community's support of their family in this time of need. They were in awe of the kindness, charity and love they were receiving from a group of people they did not know.
Sister Bonnie Oscarson, in her address at the October General Conference said, “How much value is there in fixing the world if the people around us are falling apart and we don’t notice?” We are often overwhelmed with talk about society’s attack on the family, religion and Christianity. I would like to argue that in fact, there are good people in this world! At the funeral mentioned previously, two of the Non-LDS brothers offered the opening and closing prayers. These prayers were sincere and inspiring. There are good people all over the world, and though they may not be the same faith as us, they still need our help. It is up to us as members of the church, to extend our “Ward Family” to those that do not attend church with us. We must help and serve those who are different than us. When the world goes low, we must go higher. We should be persistent in our efforts to embrace our differences and look to find light in all those who cross our paths.
In the same conference address, Sister Oscarson also said, “Pray for help in recognizing those in your ward families who need love and encouragement. Instead of attending church with the questions of ‘What am I going to get out of this meeting?’ ask, ‘Who needs me today?’” As we begin a new year, with a new direction in our Sunday meetings requiring us to be more active in our membership, faith and devotion, I invite you to focus more of your energy and attention on others - those within your ward families and community.
I look back with the utmost fondness on the ward of my childhood. I remember the experiences and individuals that influenced my life for the good - those who served faithfully in their callings. I remember the activities and service projects, the dinners and fundraisers. I remember being taught by example how to be a good member of my faith and my ward. If you have not yet set some goals for yourself in this new year, I encourage you to set a goal to be a better member of your ward family
Thursday, January 11, 2018
We awoke on Christmas morning to realize that Santa had, indeed, arrived. Later in the morning we headed to Grandma Judy's house for brunch and presents. When it was time to eat, Elliott in a dramatic manner announced that he didn't feel well, and that his throat hurt. As all good parents, we ignored him for a while, and then after even opening presents didn't jazz him up, Ross decided to take him home.
Around 10:00 pm that night, he puked.
Around 12:30 am, Wyatt puked.
Both boys had the flu.
A perfect start to a LONG week.
On Tuesday, Ross took all three boys to the doctor. Elliott and Wyatt had the flu, and later that week Wyatt's test came back positive for strep. Quinn just had a runny nose and a bad attitude. My normally lively, wild and happy to be alive boys were slugs. Sleeping all day, couldn't sit up and there wasn't much I could do to help.
Early in the morning on the Wednesday after Christmas, my dad came out to sit with the boys while I drove Ross to St. Mark's outpatient surgery center, for, well, surgery. He was having some procedures done on his nose, a septoplasty. It was a quick procedure but a ridiculous recovery. We have learned since that:
1) Ross' pain threshold is different than mine and I need to be nicer.
2) Narcotic pain killers (percocet) do not mix with Ross brain and seem to melt his ability to ration, reason and function.
4) Strep throat, sinus infections and surgery recovery do not mix.
3) Annie needs to work on her patience.
Now that we are two weeks out from the elective procedure, and I've finally started sleeping upstairs again and not in the basement, things are on the up and up. But, I tell you, we struggled.
Once the boys started to feel better, as their dad was feeling worse, the four of us managed to do a few things. We went bowling for Willie's birthday. We walked around temple square to see the lights before they got turned off. We went to a movie.
It wasn't our best Christmas. I'm sure it won't be our worst. I so enjoy shopping and planning for my boys - it just makes my heart happy to PREPARE for Christmas. But, the actually day always bums me out and makes me sad, and, the blur of days between Christmas and New Year's is exhausting.
Posted by Annie at 2:16 PM