Thursday, September 30, 2010

what a difference a year makes

A year ago, life was so different than it is now.

Last September and October, this was my life:

--PTO President, in charge of popping popcorn twice a month, the Membership Drive, helping with the Box Tops Contest, and the entire School Halloween Carnival.
--Fall Youth Soccer Coordinator, in charge of setting up the field twice a week for practices and games, doing the scheduling for it all, preparing the healthy snacks for the players, and organizing the photos and medals and trophies.
--Ward Activities Chairman, in charge of the Ward Halloween Party
--MOPS Babysitter, twice a month
--Pumpkin Salesman, for the twins' pumpkin patch two Saturdays in October
--Bridal Shower Giver, for my soon-to-be sis-in-law Alyssa in September
--Salmon Idol Contest Participant, going to weekly practices and memorizing two songs and choreography

And at the end of September last year, my Grandma P. suffered a debilitating stroke. Because of all of my commitments, I was unable to go visit her in the hospital and the rehab center in Spokane. I felt that I should, especially since I am the second closest living relative to their home. The weekend I had planned to finally go and see her, ended up being the weekend following her death. Her funeral was in October. I drove up to Spokane with a friend, sang at the funeral, and drove home that night. The next day, I had to babysit at MOPS in the morning, prepare for the Ward Halloween Party all afternoon, pack our family's bags to leave again that night, run the Ward Party that evening, and leave for Utah right after the party ended in order to attend my Grandma's graveside services the next morning. We left the day after the graveside services to come back home to Salmon to run the Pumpkin Patch sales. That week was the peak of stressful life for me last fall. It was the crowning moment of discovery for me, to realize that I needed to quit life as I had become to know it. I just didn't want to DO it ALL anymore.

When Ammon was in Kindergarten, I worked full-time. I always felt bad whenever a sign-up sheet came home from school, and I couldn't volunteer because I was working. I told myself that when the time came and I wasn't working, I would volunteer to my heart's content, so that I wouldn't have to experience those feelings of remorse and guilt from not being able to again. And during the past four years of being a stay-home mom, I have volunteered a great deal. I've volunteered with the school: helping in the classrooms, going on field trips, serving in the PTO. I've volunteered in the church: helping with functions, giving my services in different organizations, planning activities for the youth and the ward. I've volunteered in the community: with MOPS and the county fair and soccer and baseball. But by the end of last fall, I felt in my heart and mind that my volunteering time was coming to an end.

By the end of fall 2009, I was officially burnt out. There were several unnecessary stressful situations with Youth Soccer during the fall season that I had to deal with, and I vowed I would never do it again. Things fell apart with my assistant for the Halloween Carnival last year, so the entire night of the Carnival was a crazy mess, and I promised myself I would never go through that again. And of course, there was that awful week following my Grandma's death. During that week, I felt guilt and remorse for being so committed to my volunteering activities that I couldn't even go visit my Grandma on her deathbed. I felt pain and sadness for having so many commitments that I couldn't spend an extra day with my family after my grandma's funerals. I felt such stress at having to deal with all the extra-curricular activities that wouldn't even make a difference in the long-run aspect of our lives. I promised myself then and there to quit it all.

It's strange to think that the reason I started volunteering is the same reason that I chose to quit volunteering: both due to feelings of regret and remorse and guilt.

I'm happy to report that I'm not in charge of Youth Soccer anymore, I am NOT doing the School Halloween Carnival this year, I recently got released from my Ward Activities church calling (to be a Gospel Principles teacher) so I won't be planning the big quarterly parties anymore, I didn't audition for the Salmon Idol contest this year--a performance I've been involved with the past 3 years, and I'm currently trying to step down as PTO President--a job I've had two years, and before that I was V.P. for 2 years.

This fall is so much different. Of course, I thought by now I'd be working. I told myself when I quit my credit union job 4 years ago, that when the twins were back in school all day, I'd go back to work. I really want to, but it hasn't happened yet--not for lack of trying. After the boys started school, and I didn't have volunteer activities to fill my time with, or a job to go to, I felt rather bored with my life. I felt useless. I felt like nobody needed me anymore.

After reading the "Eat, Pray, Love" book, I knew I wanted to enjoy life like the Italians do--and feel pleasure from doing nothing! My whole goal this fall is to enjoy life. I want to enjoy every aspect of the season that I've been unable to do for the past several years. I want to savor each moment of the trees changing colors, of watching football games, of seeing the garden mature, of witnessing my children's accomplishments in school. I want to be a participant in my own life and in the life of my family, rather than being a "President" or "Chairman" or "Coordinator" for some association. It's been hard for me to retrain my mind, but I'm slowly getting it. I'm beginning to recognize and appreciate each moment for what it is. And I'm grateful for this time that I have right now.

Because I know this moment, this season of my life, won't last forever.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

one step at a time

The safest road to hell is the gradual one: the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts. {C.S. Lewis}
What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. {C.S. Lewis}
Progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. {C.S. Lewis}
At the end of things, the blessed will say, "We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven." And the lost will say, "We were always in Hell." And both will speak truly. {C.S. Lewis}

Stairway to Heaven:
Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
There's still time to change the road you're on {Led Zeppelin}

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bucket List: Item #6

At the end of August & the beginning of September, I read this fabulous book:

Then last week, I watched the movie in the theater with 8 friends. And I'm going to see it in the theater again tonight with another friend. The movie was great--Julia Roberts was phenomenal and the places filmed were SO gorgeous, but the book was even better. I enjoyed the book so much!! It's now on my "favorite books of all time" list. The book recounts a woman's soul-search over a year of travels to Italy, India, and Bali Indonesia. In Italy, she discovers pleasure. In India, she discovers peace. In Bali, she finds balance and love. The story is truly inspiring. I recommend any woman who has struggles of any kind to read it. This book was such a good read, and really helped me through some difficult feelings.

After reading the book and watching the movie, I want to go to Italy more than ever.

I want to see the sights. I want to eat the food. I want to be around the people. I just want to go there. And very badly, too!!! I've already started a savings account for it, and I've convinced a friend of mine to go along with me. The goal is Italy 2012.
BUCKET LIST ITEM #6: Take a trip to Italy with my good friend Jander!!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Back to School

School started on Monday, August 30. The beginning of this new school year brought with it several firsts for all of us. So, what's new? Well, I'll show and tell you!

For the first time in 5 years, I had to buy school supplies for 3 boys instead of just 1:

This is the first year that Jonah and Micah are in school all day, and the first year that they had to be at school at 8am. {Two excited first graders}:

This is the first year we've had a child in the Middle School. We are all new to the daily schedules and class changes there. {One happy fifth grader}:
This is the first time that Kanyon's been home alone with me all day. He does go to preschool 2 mornings a week for 3 hours at a time, but the rest of the time, he's rather bored and misses playing with his brothers. {One proud preschooler}:

This is the first time Jonah and Micah have had their own desks, and they love it! They like their teacher Mrs. Born, they like having 3 recesses, and they like having homework. They love school!

This is the first time Ammon has had his own locker instead of a cubby, and the first time he's used a combination lock! He likes school and his teacher Ms. A. He enjoys band and going to GT and trading teachers for a couple of subjects. He misses having 3 recesses, but likes the days when he goes to P.E. He's a great student!

This is the first time that Kanyon has gotten to ride the preschool bus home. He likes being a big boy and getting to be on it; he hates it when I pick him up from school instead. Right now, there's just 3 other boys in his class, and he's already made friends. Going to school truly makes him happy!

This is the first year that I've ever driven the boys to school in the morning. Last year, Jonah and Micah had afternoon kindergarten, so I drove them to school after lunch each day. For the past two years, Ammon has gotten a ride to school each morning with Grandma T. who works as the secretary at the elementary school. The 2 years before that, he rode the bus to school in the morning. The school bus does come by in the morning, and they could get a ride on that, but it stops here at 6:55, and school doesn't start until 8:00. They mostly ride the bus home after school every day, but they don't arrive home until 5:15. That's a very long day for a first grader, so I opted to let them all sleep in an extra half hour each morning and drive them to school everyday myself. This has been the biggest change for me personally, because for the past few years, I usually don't shower until 10:00am. Now I am showered by 7:30 each morning in order to get the boys up and ready for school.

1 son in Middle School +

2 sons in Elementary School +

1 son in Pre-School =

4 boys Back to School!!!

(and one lonely mom)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Children of the Corn

I Spy children in the corn, between the rows of stalks.
I Spy 3 boys who would rather run than walk!

I Spy children of the corn, by some Indian Corn sprouts.
I Spy 4 smiling boys, as well as a whale that spouts.

I spy a grabbing hand, an injured finger, a chocolate milk stain.
I spy 3 potato plants that look like they need rain.

I spy a garden filled with vegetables that are grown.
I spy a place where work and love have also been sown.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

piggy tales & a "happily ev-fair after" ending

Last summer, Ammon had such a positive experience raising his 4-H Swine Project for the fair. Remember the story of Phineas and Ferb? Well, he liked them so much, and had such a fun time at the fair, he decided he wanted to do it all over again this year.

In May, we picked up the piglets Frosty and Oreo:

At first, Ammon was so excited to have them! But within a week or two, everything seemed different than last year. In 2009, we got Phineas and Ferb for $100 each from a swine farm in Moore, Idaho. They were nice, calm pigs. This year, we got Frosty and Oreo from a swine farm in Leadore, Idaho. One of the girls in our 4-H club had gotten her pig from there last year, and it earned overall Reserve Grand Champion in quality at the 2009 fair. We thought we could get a good quality pig from there too, plus they were cheaper, only costing $75 each.

But these pigs were not nice and calm like Phineas and Ferb. Frosty and Oreo were hyper, jumpy, nervous pigs. We hoped they would grow out of it. Ammon spent a lot of time this summer feeding and watering them everyday, and hanging out in their pen with them so they would be more comfortable with him. I think they got used to him after a while, but they never became friendly with him.

Over the July 4th weekend, the pigs escaped their pen. That NEVER happened last year. As told by Ammon in his 4-H story, this is what happened:

"I was playing in the yard when my mom yells at me 'AMMON, A NEIGHBOR CALLED SAYING THAT YOUR PIGS ARE OUT AND ARE DOWN AT THE CATTLEGUARD. GO CHECK THEM!!' So I ran to the pig pen and sure enough, they had escaped from the new pen we had finished building that afternoon. So I ran back up to the house crying my head off and I said through tears that they weren’t in their pen. My parents were telling me to 'stay calm' and that 'everything’s going to be alright'. They said 'ride your bike down and try to spot them', so I rode my bike along the road back and forth twice with no luck. I went back up to the house and told my parents the news. Then dad pulled out his motorcycle and told me to hop on. So then we rode around the neighborhood asking the neighbors if they saw the pigs. But still we had no luck. So I went to the house to eat dinner while dad went to his high school class reunion. When my brother Jonah got up to the house for dinner, he said 'Ammon, I know where the pigs are'. I said 'where?' and he answered 'in grandma’s lawn'! So I told mom that I was full and went outside wearing only my crocs on my feet for the adventure ahead of me.
I was down at grandma’s house looking for them when the same neighbor that had called earlier drove by again and said that my pigs were just down the road, and sure enough there they were. So I went back up to the house, called dad, told him where the pigs were, and asked him what to do. He said 'keep an eye on them and wait until I get home'. Well apparently my mom’s idea of keeping an eye on them is trying to catch them.
{in my defense, that's not what Ammon told me when he got off the phone} My mom finally got the ATV started, and we began the hunt. We went down to where the pigs were. My brothers and I were behind a fence trying to scare the pigs in the right direction. We were having a lot of trouble because they had gotten into a hayfield, and the hay was taller than me. I was as happy as could be when grandpa pulled up in his tractor (not so he could run over them up but so he could help us). While grandpa was helping us we made much better progress. We finally managed to get Oreo in her old pen. Now we just had to catch Frosty. Mom had managed to get him onto the road where it was easier to catch him. After a lot of running, cussing, and almost giving up, we got the pig to a place where it couldn’t escape and that’s when dad returned home. After a lot more chasing, diving, cussing, and running, my dad finally got a hold of Frosty and put him in the pen with Oreo.
Thankfully, they haven’t escaped since then! And I’m glad they haven’t, because I didn’t want to experience that all over again!"

It was NOT fun at all, chasing those stupid, hyper pigs all around for over an hour. I hated them after that, and Ammon and Josh weren't so fond of them either following that inciddent. If they hadn't been so small, I would've had them butchered that day!!

Another difficult thing about the pigs this year was the fact that Frosty and Oreo did not grow as well as Phineas and Ferb had. Last year, we purchased the swine food from an out-of-town feed store, but this year we decided to buy all the swine food from a local feed store. After two months, we realized they weren't growing as fast as they should have been. We think the pig feed sold in town is of a lesser quality than the pig feed we purchased last year, even though the price per bag is the same. We got our pigs at the same time and from the same place as two other boys in our club did, but they bought their feed out-of-town, and their pigs were growing very well. At the 2nd pig weigh-in, the difference between our pigs and their pigs was huge.

Two weeks before the fair, we knew our pigs would not be big enough to take. The recommended MINIMUM weight for fair pigs is 210 pounds. Our pigs were only between 130-150 pounds each. I thought we should just drop out of the fair, continue to raise our pigs until they were big enough to butcher, keep one for us, and sell the other one to Grandma and Grandpa Tolman to eat. BUT, Ammon didn't want to miss out on the fair because he thought that was the "FUNNEST" part of raising 4-H pigs. Thankfully, another member of our 4-H club came to the rescue. They traded pigs with us. They let us have their butcher pig to show and sell at the fair, and our 2nd pig that was intended for the fair would become their butcher pig. We would continue to feed and raise until it was big enough, and then we would give it to them to replace theirs given to us.

Ammon named the loaner fair pig "Mater":
He really liked Mater. He was so thrilled to have the opportunity to go to the fair and show it! A big thanks to Liz and her family for allowing him that chance!

The last week of August was fair week. On Monday, we decorated the pig pens, took Ammon's and Liz's pigs to the fair, washed the animal, and set-up the pen with wood chips and pig feed.

On Tuesday, the showmanship show was in the morning and the swine quality show was in the afternoon.

{walking the pigs from the pens to the arena for the show}

{Ammon smiling at the judge during the showmanship show}

{walking alongside Liz's and Gracie's red pigs in the arena during the quality show}

Ammon did really well! He earned a blue ribbon in showmanship, and a red ribbon in quality.
Saturday was the livestock sale. Ammon and Josh went in early that morning to get the pig washed and ready to sell. And all the boys dressed up for the event:

For the second year in a row, Tolman Ranch and Dairy had the highest bid for Ammon's pig during the auction. Last year, Ammon earned $2.65 per pound. This year, he earned $4.00 per pound. There was less animals this year, so the purchase price per animal was higher than last year.

Overall, the experience this year was NOT a positive one. I'm wishing and hoping that we'll take a break next year from the pig drama. It would be nice to have one year off before the following year when we'll have four pigs: one for Ammon, one each for the twins, and one for us to eat.

Oh, and speaking of eating pigs--ours are FINALLY big enough to go to the butcher shop next week!!!! And for me, the BEST part of raising pigs is eating them!!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

PFR Day 2

The Perkins Family Reunion was August 20 & 21.On Day 2, all of us (well, the same 18 of us from the first day) went to Bear Lake.

The boys and I have been to Bear Lake before. I took them with my brother Mick's family 2 years ago, in August 2008. But this was the first time Josh had been there, even though he's lived in Idaho his whole life (I make him 'get out of town'--even though he says he doesn't like to, but really he does).
The beach was so busy when we arrived at lunch-time. I was having flashbacks of the previous day's chaos and crowds at Lagoon, and I just knew it was going to be a replay of that all over again. When we all parked our cars (in between packs of other cars), and started unloading the stuff, I sat in my van taking deep breaths, telling myself I could handle the crowds of people again. (I have become a non-people person lately. Josh makes me 'deal with life'--even though I don't want to, but I'm glad after I do).
I finally got out of the car, and after about an hour of sitting on the beach, I started relaxing and truly enjoying my surroundings. And I remembered just how much I LOVE Bear Lake!
I love the wind in the afternoons and the flat sandy ground that make kite-flying perfectly easy and perfectly enjoyable!
I love the miles and miles of sandy beaches that are perfect for digging, scooping, building, and sculpting!

I love the cool, shallow water that feels so good to splash in against the sun's ultra-warm rays!

I love the afternoon waves that create tides for the innertubes which feel like mini roller coaster rides (especially since we didn't get to ride the Lagoon Roller Coaster the day before)!
I love the peaceful environment that Bear Lake produces, as it gives my boys plenty of wonderful opportunities and positive memories of playing with their cousins.

And above all, I especially loved wading in the beautiful blue water up to my chest, feeling the world's cares float away (thank you Jen for the leisurely stroll--er, I mean swim)!

We had a great time at Bear Lake!! We enjoyed visiting with my siblings, soaking in the lake's splendor, and basking in the sun's warmth (ahem...some of us a little too much).

The day turned out nice, fun, and relaxing (as demonstrated here by Josh!).