Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Out of the mouths...

Chloe and Ryan have said some pretty funny things these last few days.  Before I forget or lose track, here's what I remember and/or have managed to write down.

During Sacrament Meeting on Sunday, Ryan held up a picture he had colored for me. 
Chloe glanced at it, and immediately gave him an encouraging thumbs up while whispering, “Ryan, that’s REALLLY pretty!”  Chloe's over-exuberance, especially when the "picture" was really just a tiny scrap of paper containing a few yellow crayon marks made me chuckle, but it was Ryan's response that finished the deal.
Virtually offended that Chloe would have the nerve to tell him his picture was "pretty," he arguably whispered back, “No!  It’s NOT pretty!  It’s a monster!  And it says roaaaarrrrrr!”

Then while driving home from church, Chloe said, “Hey Ryan, when we get home, do you wanna put regular clothes on and pretend we’re homeless?”

Here's a gist of the conversation Chloe and I had while driving to school Monday morning:
Chloe: “Mom, is it more proper to call Ty’s daddy 'Brother Holt' than it is to call him 'Spencer'?" 
Me: "Well, yes, it actually is.  When we are at church, especially, we should always refer to adults as 'Brother' or 'Sister' followed by their last name."
Chloe: "What if I don’t know their last name?"
Me: "Then you can politely ask them what it is."
Chloe: "And adults are 18, right?"
Me: "Yes, you are technically an adult when you turn 18."
Chloe: "And that’s when you get kicked out of the house!?  That’s what daddy says anyway."


Chloe: "Wait, is it 18 or 80?" Funny kid.  And I am positive that Chloe was accurately quoting her father.  He frequently jokes about what a glorious day it will be when the kids turn 18, though I'm not sure he's really joking.  Sometimes I can't blame him.

Shortly after being reprimanded for something small, Ryan asked,
“Do I get an 'X' on my chart when I get home?”
“Well, do you think you deserve one?”
Ryan: “No.  So can I get a marshmallow instead?”

Ryan: “Mom, if you color on this...” (pointing to his Thomas & Friends coloring book), "...I’ll give you one of those...” (pointing to a glass jar of candy hearts), “...k?” 

Clearly he's grasped the concept of bribery.

Yesterday on our way home from Chloe's ballet class, and after asking me a hundred times if we could go to McDonald's, both before and after her class, Ryan just to more boldly get his point across, said, "I really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really want to go to McDonald's."

I should also share this fun experience from last weekend, when the kids, as usual, attempted to prolong bedtime.  This, by the way, represents a typical night for us.

So picture this. It's 7:15pm. Kids have both just been tucked into bed. I'm in our room separating freshly folded laundry and getting ready to put everything away. Chloe suddenly steps out of her bedroom and says, while pointing to the hall light just ahead,
"Oh. I was just going to ask why that light was still on."

Instantly I recognize her efforts in prolonging the time before she has to go to sleep.

"It's because I'm still upstairs putting clothes away.  I'll turn it off when I'm done.  Goodnight, Chloe!"

Clearly oblivious to my irritation, Chloe then races down the hall (passing Ryan's room along the way) into my room to give me "one more" hug and kiss before racing back down the hall (again passing Ryan's room) into hers.

A few seconds later, and just as I could have predicted, Ryan emerges from his room and stands in my doorway.

"Why did I hear running?"  Now he's come up with an excuse to get out of bed.

"It was Chloe, but she's back in her room now. Go back to bed!"

Ryan, having taken a few steps closer, "Why was Chloe in here?"

"That is a good question, Ryan. Now go back to bed!"

Ryan, now standing within a foot of the many piles of laundry surrounding me, "But why did she come in here?"

"It doesn't matter, Ryan! It's time for you to go to bed! GoodNIGHT!"

And once again, I see Chloe outside her bedroom door, peering back down the hall and asking, "Mommy, why do I hear you and Ryan talking?"

"Oh. My. Gosh. Both of you! GO TO BED! NOW!!!!!!!!"

Both Chloe and Ryan promptly turn around, race back to their rooms, and crawl into their beds, not to be seen again for the night. 
I shake my head, mutter a few unkind words to myself, finish putting clothes away, MAKE SURE to turn the hall light off so not to produce further questions from my six-year-old, and head downstairs.

Just as I approach the final steps, I hear Chloe say, "Goodnight, Mommy!" followed by Ryan, who repeats his sister's words. "Goodnight, Mommy!"

I sure do love those kids, but man, they suck the energy out of me sometimes. This scenario is only one of MANY like it where they manage to complicate something that isn't complicated at all, like a hall light.

It's a good thing they're so dang cute. 

Some days that's their only saving grace!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Life is a delicate thing

"The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor the man be perfected without trials." - Chinese Proverb

I know that lately my posts have been heavy, lengthy, and lacking of pictures.  I'm working on that.  But for now, here's one more.  Sorry, can't help it.  Lots on my mind right now.

These last several weeks I've heavily pondered the delicacy of life.  It's difficult not to when it seems like families all around me are facing life-threatening realities.  Some friends of ours have close friends out of state, two of whose daughters have a rare condition called Leaky SCID, which basically shuts down the immune system.  Currently the girls, ages 8 and 2, are preparing for chemotherapy, which will be followed by bone marrow transplants.  A couple months ago, Ryan's Sunbeam teacher's son, late thirties, a healthy firefighter and father of four young children, died instantly and unexpectedly of a heart attack.  My neighbor across the street was diagnosed with breast cancer in September, and has undergone four surgeries since.  Her prognosis is good, but it continues to be an excruciating battle.  And just this week I learned that one of the ladies I visit teach's husband, who was recently diagnosed with kidney cancer, which has already metastasized to several other organs, has been given 6-12 weeks to live.  He can't be far past forty.  They have four children also.

I hate stories like these.  Simply hate them.  And of course the natural questions follow, like, why them and not meWill something like this happen to meWhat would I do if I was told I had only 6 weeks to live?  How would I react to and cope with one of my children having a life-threatening illness?  What kind of single mother would I make?  Oh, I hate to even imagine any of this, but I can't help it sometimes!
I had an ectopic pregnancy in early 2008.  Boy, do I remember that day well!  I arrived at my doctor's office for my first prenatal visit, knowing full well that things weren't good.  Upon various undetermined tests, excruciating pain, tears, and witnessing Dr. Baer in a scared and frazzled state in which I'd never seen him before, I remember him (after gathering his composure), walking into the exam room where Neil and I were waiting, and very calmly saying to us these words: "You are going to get into your car RIGHT NOW, and you are going to drive straight to the hospital.  I am going to follow you there, and we're going to figure this out."  Not 30 minutes later, my pregnancy was officially over, and my ruptured fallopian tube, gone.  It was an extremely sad and frightening loss.  But it also brought to light the grand scheme of things.  Yes, that human being once growing inside of me was no longer.  But that human being also had a spirit, and someday, I would get to meet and raise that spirit.  As humans, we simply cannot recognize or see the before and after, but only the now.  We are told what happened before this life, and we are told what will happen in the next.  We are also told that our time on earth is but a tiny minute compared to what will follow.  And yet we still can only see the here and now.  I wonder sometimes how my perspective would change if I could see the after.  Even though I physically cannot, my faith that it exists and is real brings me such a quiet peace, that life's trials, losses and sorrows suddenly feel lighter.

My miscarriage, while awful at the time, cannot, in my mind, be compared to the loss of a spouse or child.  The experience did broaden my perspective and make me a more empathetic person.  But even coming out of it, I still had my loving husband and daughter by my side, not to mention the strong potential for another healthy child down the road (who was miraculously conceived only 26 days following my emergency surgery).

It is insane when you look at some people and the trials with which God has entrusted them.  Sometimes your heart aches so badly for these people, who, from your limited perspective don't deserve the one-thing-after-another fiasco they've come to call life.  And yet, God sees the big picture.  He is in charge.  And He knows exactly what He is doing.  We just have to trust that, as impossible as it may be at times.

I have had some pretty amazing opportunities to serve many people in need these recent weeks, and I have been so humbled and inspired by their goodness and strength. It's so true that doing service blesses lives. When I am serving others and my heart is in the right place, I am convinced that my blessings far exceed that of the recipients'.  As Elder Derek Cuthbert of the Seventy said, "Service changes people. It refines, purifies, gives a finer perspective, and brings out the best in each one of us. It gets us looking outward instead of inward. It prompts us to consider others’ needs ahead of our own. Righteous service is the expression of true charity, such as the Savior showed."

Life is delicate; life is imperfect; and life is short.  We should, of course, make the best of it, and enjoy it to the fullest.  But we should also remember, amidst our very darkest days, whether they consist of temporary difficulties which will eventually pass, or some of the most devastating, like witnessing a loved one knocking on death's door, that these days have been placed in our lives to teach us and help us grow.  This is our probationary time, after all; our time to prepare to meet God.  And just as the Chinese proverb says, without trials, we cannot be perfected.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

New nephew and a birthday wish

I've been awaitin' for Jared and Lori to hurry up and get a picture on their blog so I could steal it for this post!  Not that they've had anything better to do this week than write blog posts.

On Saturday evening, the 18th of February, 2012, a perfect little boy entered the world...

Tyler George Croft

 ...weighing a hearty 5 pounds, 14 ounces, and measuring a lengthy 19.5 inches. 

Just LOOK at this sweet, sweet family!

Jared and Lori, and "Baby Katie," who's not much of a baby anymore, we are so thrilled that Tyler has arrived, safe and sound.  I sure hope I get to hold him before he grows too much!  Congratulations!!

And on a side note, but absolutely, positively worth the mention (!!!), I would also like to wish my brother-in-law, Brad a very Happy Birthday, tomorrow!

Brad & Courtney - Lake Powell, Sept. 2011

The 24th is definitely a great day to have a birthday!  Trust me, Neil and I have years of experience behind us!  :)  Brad, we hope this is a memorable one for you!  You and Courtney have reached many well-deserved milestones this year, and have some awesome adventures ahead!  We can't wait to see what's in store for you both!  HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Man, I married into a great family.  Okay, thee end. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Finding the joy

Today, like most days, consisted of a mixture of things, both good and bad.

The bad:
  • Discovering our once smooth and flawless black leather bound wedding album had been "decorated" with an unknown, sharp and pokey object.  Thank you, Ryan.
  • Forking out $70 to fill my gas tank. 
  • Discovering my pink sweater, which I'd worn one time, and which I'd intended to air dry but inadvertently thrown into the drier, was now two sizes smaller.
  • Forking out $35 at Lowe's for new brackets and sliders for our kitchen drawers, which are falling apart.
  • Having to intervene during one of many fights between the kids - this time, over a chair at our kitchen table - the same chair they fight over every single day.  Why on earth this chair holds an ounce of value over the other identical five is beyond me.
  • The resurfacing of unsettled feelings toward an individual with whom I've struggled for years.
  • Pulling weeds.
  • While sweeping the front porch, discovering my favorite green flower pot, shattered below the porch banister, from where it had fallen.
  • Other circumstances, disappointments and frustrations, too personal to share.
The good:
  • Gorgeous weather.
  • No school (though there were moments today when I would have categorized this with the bad).
  • Receiving a UPS tracking number, indicating that my camera, which has been in Nikon's hands since January 17th, is FIXED and on its way home to me, expected to arrive Monday before noon!
  • Seeing, enjoying, visiting, venting and laughing with two of my closest local friends.
  • Receiving a text message from my sister-in-law, informing me that our sweet nephew will be arriving sometime tomorrow!
  • Pondering the comforting words from a Priesthood blessing I received on Sunday.
  • Receiving a heartfelt phone call from my brother.
  • Watching Chloe practice her ballet routine to "Music Box Dancer" for her first and upcoming dance recital in May.
  • Movie night with Neil.
  • Ryan wandering downstairs at 11pm, requesting a drink of water, which led to being carried back upstairs "silly" by Daddy, Daddy then reading aloud to Ryan Alma 25, to which Ryan said "the end" as Daddy closed the book; then some snuggles and kisses, which entailed Ryan, at one point, saying to Daddy, "I kissed Mommy and Mommy kissed me. That's silly." all before racing (and beating) Daddy from our bedroom to his, and quickly falling back into dreamland. 

Some days really stink.  People say hurtful things.  Your child throws a tantrum the size of China.  You can't justify buying that super cute throw pillow at Target even though you realllly want it.  Your body aches.  Then other days seem close to perfect.  You wake up actually wanting to exercise.  You remember to bring your coupons with you to the grocery store.  Your husband tells you you're pretty.  Your friend willingly watches your child so you can go to the temple.  No matter the combination of events that take place on a day-to-day basis, there will always be some good and some bad.

The topic of my young women's lesson on Sunday was Finding Joy Now.  As part of my preparation, I read President Thomas S. Monson's talk from October 2008's General Conference entitled, Finding Joy in the Journey.  I think I highlighted more of it than I didn't.  It contained many needed reminders about life, the use of time, and change.  It was powerfully written, and I needed every single sentence. 

Monson started by talking about the "inevitable aspect" of life, that being change.  Said he, "Nothing is as constant as change."  Then, after reminiscing about the many changes that had taken place over the 45 years he had been an Apostle, he said, "The changes over a period of 45 years that were incremental now seem monumental."  Isn't this so true in all our lives?  The every day occurrences often seem monotonous and uneventful.  Yet these days turn into years, years into decades.  And before we know it, the boring and mundane have produced some of life's most significant moments and milestones.  Monson goes on, "This is our one and only chance at mortal life—here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey—now."

The second to last sentence about "that illusive and nonexistent future when [we'll] have time to do what [we] want to do" just makes me laugh.  It's like that board on Pinterest we've all created, containing ideas and projects that we'll all get to "someday," even though deep down, we know it'll never happen because inevitably, something else will always fill our time.  I love Monson's way of conveying both humor and truth in the same sentence.    

In referencing The Music Man, one of Monson's favorite musicals, he quotes Professor Harold Hill, “'You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’ve collected a lot of empty yesterdays.'” 

I emphasized this point to my young women, that we so often sit and waste away our days, dreaming about perfect, future tomorrows, when the reality is those days are never going to come.  That's not to say twelve and thirteen-year-old girls don't have plenty to look forward to: high school, first dance, first date, driver's license, college, marriage, motherhood, etc.  These are all wonderful things, but not one of them defines or guarantees perfect happiness.  Disappointments and opposition are simply inevitable.  No matter how you live your life, you can never escape these things.  What you can control is how you spend your time and what type of attitude you have.

Monson shared a short but powerful story, about a father who had promised to take his young boys to the circus, but received a phone call from work requesting his immediate assistance.  After telling whomever it was that business would have to wait, he hung up the phone and came into the kitchen, where his wife and sons sat, waiting for him and expecting the worst.  When his wife, who assumed he'd be going into work, said, "The circus keeps coming back, you know," as a way to brush off the disappointment, the father replied, "I know, but childhood doesn't."

Monson shared another few remarks about making the most of our time with regard to parenthood.  Of the things he said, I loved this most: "...Be aware that the tiny fingerprints that show up on almost every newly cleaned surface, the toys scattered about the house, the piles and piles of laundry to be tackled will disappear all too soon and that you will—to your surprise—miss them profoundly.
Stresses in our lives come regardless of our circumstances. We must deal with them the best we can. But we should not let them get in the way of what is most important—and what is most important almost always involves the people around us. Often we assume that they must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know.

Send that note to the friend you’ve been neglecting; give your child a hug; give your parents a hug; say “I love you” more; always express your thanks. Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved. Friends move away, children grow up, loved ones pass on. It’s so easy to take others for granted, until that day when they’re gone from our lives and we are left with feelings of 'what if' and 'if only.'

Then, in talking more specifically about gratitude, Monson said this:
"Our realization of what is most important in life goes hand in hand with gratitude for our blessings.

Said one well-known author: 'Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend … when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present—love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us [happiness]—the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth.'"


"If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sings, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues."

Despite the changes which come into our lives and with gratitude in our hearts, may we fill our days—as much as we can—with those things which matter most. May we che
rish those we hold dear and express our love to them in word and in deed."

I felt like so much of this talk was written just for me.  Too often, I allow the distractions of life to fog my view of what's really important.  Slowly, though, I'm coming along.  As life presents its many surprises and changes, both good and bad, I am learning better how to just roll with it, and enjoy as much of it as I can.  Life really is short, and even though it's hard to see it sometimes, there are millions of reasons to feel joy and gratitude along the way.  My wedding album may look not as pretty as it once did, my pink sweater may not fit right anymore, and, at times, I may strongly despise motherhood.  But without a doubt, my blessings outweigh my struggles.  And those blessings continually bring to me immeasurable joy and happiness.

As President Gordon B. Hinckley once said, "In all of living, have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured."

Friday, February 10, 2012

Week in Review (January 8-14)


Another few weeks have come and gone, and once again, I'm behind!  So let's catch up, beginning with the week of January 8th, which started off a lot worse than it ended.

Monday, the 9th felt like a typical Monday - uneventful; mostly pleasant.  Neil had a big case that morning with a surgeon he's been trying to get into the OR with for over a year and a half.  The case ran smoothly, and the surgeon seemed happy, which is always a good thing.  The rest of the day was pretty slow and quiet.  Then came the BCS National Championship game.

I'll be honest.  I had a pit in my stomach from the moment I woke up Monday morning.  I'm sure it stemmed from LSU/Alabama's November 5th match, which many referred to as "the game of the century."  Anyone who watched it will agree it was tortuous.  We won, but not without a bloody battle.  It really wasn't the fact that we had to fight so hard that put me over the edge.  If anything, a consistently close score and even performance are normally components of really good game.  It was all the back and forth punts, the numerous short and unexciting plays, and the zero touchdowns scored that made me want to pull my hair out.  Both defenses played so incredibly well, that neither offense could move the ball.  By the fourth quarter, I had a pounding headache.  And by overtime, Neil and I were both pacing the room.  I wondered if it would ever end.  Then, finally, with 19 seconds to spare, Alleman kicked a 25-yard field goal, bringing LSU to a 9-6 victory.  Neil instantly grabbed me like a bear, while I burst into tears.  Go ahead, laugh it up.  I know I'm a nut.  I was just so worn down mentally, and so relieved, not just that it was over, but that we had actually won, that I couldn't do anything but cry.  Up to that point, I don't think I'd ever been more emotionally invested in a football game, perhaps with the exception of Superbowl XXIX, when MVP Steve Young led the 49ers to a record-breaking victory against the Chargers.  That game was pretty much a blow-out though, whereas this one was nearly the opposite.  I'm still a bit startled by my level of anxiety over the November 5th game. I suppose it just goes to show how much I've grown to love LSU.  I've been a fan since 2004's Nokia Bowl against OU, which you can read about HERE, but my fandom has grown intensely since then.
Taken just before the first game (05 November 2011). The kids loved having paw prints on their cheeks.
So, jumping back to January 9, 2012: LSU and Alabama, AGAIN.  Part of me was afraid that we were about to face a repeat of the last game, which I really didn't think I could handle.  But honestly, a bigger part of me just had a feeling we were going to lose this time, and I think that was the true source of the pit.  Unfortunately, I was not prepared for the kind of loss that ended up taking place.  Let's just say Neil turned the game off right before 'Bama intercepted the ball and ran it for a touchdown to finish things off, 21-0.  LSU was in the twilight zone.  There was no fire, no passion, no drive; just timidness, fear and a strange sort of frantic disconnection through the entire four quarters.  It was truly bizarre.  Even a single field goal would have saved them an ounce of dignity, but they couldn't even achieve that.  It was awful; the worst football game I've ever watched, and certainly the worst LSU has ever played.  To go from carrying an undefeated record and owning the #1 ranking all season long, to playing like a group of amateurs in the game that mattered most, was surely a let down.  But I'll tell you what!  LSU played an incredible regular season, and that is something to feel good about.  And regardless of what coulda or shoulda happened, or even what's bound to come (which, I am confident will be pure goodness), the Andersens are still forever fans.  It's been in Neil's bloodline for years, and only a passion I inherited upon marrying into the family.  That's right!  I may be a west coast girl, but that doesn't mean I can't love a good Southern football team!  And I do!  GEAUX TIGERS!!!

Chloe, waving the flag I got Neil for Christmas (left); Neil sporting his Christmas presents: hat from Brad and Courtney; shirt from David.

And to add to the satisfaction of Neil's shirt, here's another one for ya. Made me chuckle.
Still makes me laugh, even now.  Clever thinkin' on some one's part!

Yep, we're total dorks.  It's cool.  We had a lot of fun, and made our neighbors laugh.

So, at that rate (that, being the brutal, in-your-face beating we took), the week could only get better, right?  :)  And guess what?  It did.  Neil turned on the sprinklers, or, "sprinkles," as Ryan likes to call them, which obviously means we have continued to have gorgeous weather.  And the warmer weather must have rubbed off on Neil, because this same week, he signed up for the Survival Mud Run in Lathrop April 21st.  Personally, 3.47 miles entailing muddy obstacles sounds miserable, but he's quite excited about it.  It's really right up his alley, so I'm sure he'll enjoy it and do great.

The kids have a new obsession: She-Ra and He-Man.  Now, with the variety of super hero movies and shows Netflixcheesies out there.  Whenever the kids turn on The Secret of the Sword, which is their absolute favorite these days, Neil and I just shake our heads and laugh.  I'm sure there was a time when we thought they were super cool - it was 1985, after all - so I guess we can't criticize too much.  But it sure is funny.

Saturday Chloe was walking around the house carrying two of her dolls, and informed me that she'd had twins and that their names were Adam and Adora.  She and Ryan also kept placing these long foam sticks they have behind them inside their shirts and then pulling them out to fight, as if they were their "sword[s] of protection" and "sword[s] of power."

Ryan has also grown to love and repeat the saying, "By the power of Greyskull!", except Ryan has instead said, "By the power of preschool!"  I can't bring myself to correct him.  It's too cute.  Neil and I are both hoping this obsession with She-Ra and He-Man passes quickly, but we aren't getting our hopes up.


A painful trip to Costco, where I am certain we broke a record for the most money spent in a single Costco transaction in the history of the Neil and Valeri Andersens.
A Starbucks date with Ryan while my car got an oil change next door.
He shared a couple bites of his cinnamon roll, but that was about the extent of it.

Victory, and a ticket to the NFC Championship!!!!!!!!

So now you can see what I meant when I said the week started off a lot worse than it ended!  Yes, LSU lost the BCS Bowl, but the 49ers beat the Saints, earning a place in the NFC Championship!  Never did I imagine 2 things: first, that both of our teams would go SO FAR this season, and second, that it would be possible for the worst football game of all time and also one of the best to be played within 6 days of each other.  This one was intense like November's LSU/Alabama match, but with much more excitement and charisma.  It truly was one of the best football games I've watched.  Oh, that final play, when Vernon Davis, bless his sweet heart, caught that winning touchdown pass from Alex Smith.  It was impossible to not get emotional watching him in the end zone, then in Coach Harbaugh's arms, crying like a baby.  I love seeing the soft and humble side of these big scary players.  It's pretty sweet.

Neil was finishing a crazy 32-mile bike ride with some friends when the game started, so he missed the excitement of the first quarter when the Niners scored 2 touchdowns.  Just before the game started, I took the kids to the grocery store for a few things and, without fail, every time I'd see someone wearing 49ers gear, I'd say, "Go Niners" loud and clear!  Hey, I've got no shame!  This season's been a long time coming and I've been a little excited about it!  And besides, every single person I said it to smiled at me, many repeating it back, including a scary group of Hispanic guys, who I think were caught off guard by my exuberance and willingness to talk to them.  What was even more funny about all this is that every time I'd say, "Go Niners!" (there were a lot of people wearing Niners gear in the store), both Chloe and Ryan would repeat it, so I had my own little army with me, cheering on our team in the middle of SaveMart.  I'm sure someday this side of me will embarrass my kids, but for now, I'll gladly encourage their support!  :)

I did scare Chloe a few times throughout the game, especially near the end when it got crazy.  Neil, Ryan and I were sitting on the couch cheering, clapping and being noisy, while she isolated herself on the floor, pouting and whining that we were being too loud.  Ryan, who wasn't the least bit bothered by our enthusiasm, then said, "Chloe needs a nap because she's really freaking out."  It was so funny.  I did get down on the floor with her several times, explaining why it was so exciting to me and trying to get her pumped.  I also apologized for being loud, but told her I couldn't possibly hold back.  She was completely over it by the end of the game, and cheering with the rest of us, so I don't think she was traumatized.  It was a really fun and exciting game, and I still can't believe we won!   


After falling off the bench at the park and having a good loud cry, I held Ryan close and asked if he was okay.  He angrily shouted: "I want to stick my tongue at someone!"

And, along those same lines, I should mention here that Ryan's current statement/comeback whenever he's mad is, "I don't like anyone!"  Love that kid, even though that's not a very nice thing to say. 

After Neil informed Chloe that we were going to go to Costco, she complained, begging to stay home.  As soon as she realized that we were not going to leave her home alone and that she was indeed coming, she made one last shot at negotiation with this: "Okay, but if we go, that means you have to bring me to the park!"

Saturday (just before the game), as we were pulling into the grocery store parking lot, Ryan asked if he and Chloe could ride the merry go round (just outside the store).  This was after a handful of other requests from both him and Chloe, not to mention endless bouts of whining and complaining.  Because I wasn't feeling inclined to let them have anything they wanted, I muttered, "Gosh, you guys ask for everything!"  Chloe then chimed in with, "I don't ask for tomatoes very often!  Because I don't like them as much as Grandpa Roy!"
Well, I've gotta give her credit for a fast and witty response, however they still did not get to ride the merry go round. 

Well, that was quite the lengthy summary, especially for just one week.  Sorry, but there was a lot to cover.  :)  I'll probably sum up the remainder of the month in my next post.  Until then...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Celebrating 10 years, and a few other things, too.

87 years ago today, Neil's Grandpa Don was born.
Happy Birthday, Don!  And Geaux Tigers!

73 years ago today, my Grandpa and Grandma Butterfield were married. 
Happy Anniversary, you two love birds!  Hope you're celebrating well in heaven!

11 years ago today, my best friend, Wendy got married.
Happy Anniversary, guys!

And 10 years ago today, Neil took me on our first date. 
First photo ever taken of us - on Valentine's Day, I believe, during our shift at Chevy's.  Awesome exposure, I know.

I love the significance of this day.  It has always been an extra special one to me, and it's no wonder! 
Thinking back to the events of February 9, 2002, here's what I remember:
  • The 2002 Winter Olympics (in Salt Lake City) began.
  • I attended Mindy Mickelson's baby shower.
  • I worked an afternoon shift at Chevy's.
  • When Neil came to pick me up (sometime after 8pm), he was wearing his green Abercrombie shirt - the same green Abercrombie shirt he still has and wears today.  Ironically, Neil also wore this shirt the day Chloe was born, and also the day Ryan was born.  Purely coincidental.  Needless to say, the shirt is terribly faded and has a few holes.  Yet, he continues to wear it without shame.
  • When we first got into Neil's car and he turned the ignition, the song, "When You Say Nothing At All" by Alison Krauss started to play.  Turns out, Neil had a "date" CD that he'd play in the car whenever he was taking a new lady out on the town.  Well, I broke that trend.  :)  I didn't forget that song, nor did Neil!  By default, it became one of our songs, and the day he proposed, he, again, had it cued to start playing when he turned the ignition, on our way to temple square, where he popped the question.
  • We ate dinner at Guru's in downtown Provo.  I had a burrito, I think.  We were there with Neil's roommate at the time, Jed, and his date, whom I don't remember at all. 
    After dinner, we headed to the movie theater to see a 10:00pm showing of Mothman Prophecies.  I honestly don't remember much about the movie, as I was focused on other things, like Neil's right hand, which took a hold of my left hand about a quarter of the way in and held onto it until we left the theater.  It was an unexpected and bold move on Neil's part, as I didn't feel like we'd really made a strong connection yet.  I was flattered nevertheless, with no complaints.  After the movie, and while we were walking to our cars, Neil and Jed ran up a grassy hill off the side of the parking lot, and proceeded to roll down it.  Not sure if they were trying to show off or if they were just being boys.  Probably a combination of both.
  • When Neil took me home that night, he walked me to the front porch, gave me a hug, and thanked me for coming.   He was very polite and gentlemanly, and just made me feel well taken care of.  I liked that. 

    I honestly don't remember many other details, except that I was pretty much smitten.  It took Neil another 24 hours before we were on the same wave length, but once we were there, well, that was it.  We were Neil and Valeri

    Neil had a long work day today in Roseville, and called me the first chance he got, upon walking to his car at around 4:00pm. One of the first things he said was, "Happy Anniversary of our first date!" For him to continually remember this day - a day few husbands are obligated to remember - means so much to me. It's the day that marks the beginning of us, and that's kind of a big deal. I love it. And I love that it lands on my amazing grandparents' anniversary. What a privilege to share with them such a connection! Sometimes I wonder if they took part in the planning of Neil and me. 

I really can't say enough how grateful I am to have crossed paths with Neil ten years ago, and to have somehow convinced him to fall in love with me.  He is such a good person, so solid in his beliefs and ambitions, and such a wonderful provider, husband and father.  He has always, always put my happiness first, and I've seen it day in and day out for years.  We had a really nice time together tonight after the kids went to bed.  We talked about those early days, and about how incredible it is that an entire decade has already passed by.  We also talked about how fortunate we are to have found each other, and to be living a happy, healthy marriage, even ten whole years later.

Happy Anniversary of the beginning of us!