Thursday, April 2, 2015

Take it for what it's worth...

My cute cousin Brighton posted on her blog the other day that she often writes essays in her head. I realized I do the same thing, quite frequently in fact. Although I'm sure mine aren't as beautifully articulated as her are, here is one of them.

My interactions with people these days are in about 15-30 minute bursts where we exchange some general information about ourselves and sprinkle in some funny anecdotes here and there. Then I leave their house or workplace and never see them again. In almost all of these conversations, the subject of kids comes up. I ask about their family (few people get life insurance without someone to leave it to, after all) to distract them from the needle I'm about to put in their arm or as a precursor to the fact that I'm about to ask them to pee in a cup. For some reason that's gross to people who aren't nurses... go figure... They usually tell me a little about each of their children and ask if I have any kids. I respond with a quip about how being a nursing student is enough responsibility for now. I don't know why, but this response is almost always met with something along the lines of, "You are so smart to do that!" or "Waiting to have kids until you finish school is SUCH a good idea," or my personal favorite: "I SO wish I did that!" and then, as if suddenly remembering, quickly adding, "Oh, but I wouldn't trade being a mom for anything."

Until recently, I wasn't quite sure how to respond to this. I used to say things like, "Yeah, we're having a lot of fun," and "My husband seems to always see the kid in the grocery store throwing a fit but never the little girl that runs up and hugs her dad's legs." While these are both true, that's not the reason we don't have kids. My response the last few weeks has been different, and more accurately expresses the way I feel about the subject. "It's just what the plan has been for us. We have friends who got married around the same time we did, and they're happy with kids, but we're just not there yet."

At the risk of sounding like I'm trying to justify the fact that it's still just the two of us after nearly five years (by Mormon standards we should at least be on our 2nd kid right now, right?), that's not my point. My point is that there is only one timeline that anyone should adhere to, and that's the Lord's. Because social media puts every wedding announcement, graduation picture and newborn in a basket right in our face, we are fooled into thinking that we're behind or missing out if we haven't accomplished the same things as our acquaintances from high school. We see their highlight reel and compare it with our outtakes. It cheapens our accomplishments in our own eyes, and frankly, it's a load of crap! If you feel like you're doing all you can to be a good person and do what Heavenly Father would want you to do, let that be enough, because it absolutely is. Whether you're single, struggling to have your first baby, on baby #3 and feeling like you're buried in diapers and laundry, what you are doing is important. Let's all try to keep that in mind, OK?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Weekend Away

I have something to talk about besides work and school. Yay!

We spent the afternoon at The Valley of Fire outside of Vegas yesterday. If you ever have some time to kill in Vegas, I highly recommend driving the 40ish miles there. It was absolutely beautiful! Ian's brother is getting married there in April so I wanted to go scout out wedding locations. I was getting so excited and Ian was not matching my level of excitement... We took some great pictures.

On the drive in.
Lone Rock was our first stop. I wish they allowed weddings there because it was incredible. The red rock was off set by these beautiful turquoise bushes with little flowers. The colors were so vibrant!

The contrast was absolutely stunning.
I had never seen anything like these little bushes. 
Those little yellow flowers are my favorite.

The place lent itself well to panoramic pictures.
Down the road from Lone Rock is The Cabins. They were built in the 1930s for travelers. We took pictures of them because they weren't much smaller than our first apartment. :)

Desert livin'.
Through the window
At least there's a fireplace...

I climbed up to the top. We decided Alex and Claire should stand up there and we could
watch them from below at their wedding. :)

A panoramic from the top.

Mouse's tank was our next stop. Mouse was a gangster, not a rodent. The story is that it was a hideout for gangsters in the early 20th century. We were told there was a rainwater lake after a short hike.

For the Harwells, it's all about picture spots. I thought this was a great one. 

Another picture location.

There was no shortage of beauty to take in along the way.

Here's the rainwater "lake" that sustained Mouse and his gang.
It was rather underwhelming.

There was a cute little rock formation in the sand.
It was definitely worth the afternoon we spent hiking around there. Alex and Claire's wedding is going to be absolutely beautiful. It fits their outdoorsy personalities so well. I'm so excited!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The last one.

Jillian really should've been first, since her birthday is the first one of the year, but I started with Meg.

It's Jillian's 20th birthday.

Jilly and some lovable puppies.
Mom: Jilly has lived this life on her own terms and in her own timing. She's smart, driven, fun, beautiful, and inspiring. I found out early to give her what she needs and get out of her way and enjoy what she does. I expect the same from here on. Can't wait to watch your amazing life unfold from this point forward. Love you. Glad I'm your Mama.

Jillian with Mom and Dad after her performance for the MoTab Christmas Concert.
 Dad: My little Jilly Bop is all grown up now, but will always be my little Jilly Bop. She came into this world with a smile on her face and hasn't stopped smiling for 20 years. She completed our family in so many ways, and has never seen a challenge she couldn't conquer! Thanks for being my dance mentor, and now my workout buddy! I love you so much and am so very proud of you!

My favorite picture of Jillian and me.
Cori: You are just the greatest. I would look like a hag without your great hair and makeup advice. You take on any challenge and make it look easy, no matter what it is. I love your zeal for life. I was thinking today that you were also baptized 12 years ago today. I remember when at the end, you were so touched by everything that had happened, you just started bawling. Everyone was congratulating you with your bright red face. You have always been wise beyond your years. Happy Birthday, little sis! Love you!

Ian: The big two Oh! Nice! One more year until you can drink, but decide not to. Its a good time to be alive. You always manage to keep things happy and cheerful and are always up for family activities. Keep living the dream and having fun. Hope you have a happy birthday!

I found this gem today.

Megan: Jillian is one of my favorite people on the planet. She knows how to work hard and play hard. One time, Jill put her legs through the sleeves of her hoodie and hobbled around on her butt. We were all crying, we were laughing so hard. I will always think of her when someone mentions nail polish or Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. :) I look up to her in so many ways.

Jillian was the doll in The Nutcracker one year.
 Bud: Jill and I have gotten really close over the course of our junior high and high school years. Heck, we live in the same apartment complex right now. I love hanging out, laughing, and just being our weird selves together. It's been great seeing her grow up into the strong-rooted woman she is, even though she will always feel like she should be 14 to me. What can I ay? I love Jill. Here's to another great one, baby sis.

She looks pretty in every picture I've ever seen.

Jill's close up at the concert.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Happy Birthday to our Favorite Brother!

Ian is 22 today!

Don't you just want to pinch those little cheeks?

Mom: Happy 22!  What a great son!!  You are the best!  You are a great brother to your sisters.  You are a loyal friend.  And what a sense of humor. Under it all is a tender heart. More than once, I've been told that Callie and Mattie want to find someone to marry someone who is just like you.   Need I say more?  No, but I will.  I am so happy to have you home for this birthday. This next year holds great potential for new things to happen.  I'm glad to have a front seat to watch your life unfold. I couldn't be more proud. Tons of Love, Mom

Dad: Ian is and always will be my Bud! He has taught me that a father can look up to his boy because of the code that Ian lives his life by, and his zeal for the gospel and all that is good. It makes me want to be a better father and human being. I'm so proud of Ian and thankful that he is my son. Even though he shoulda been named Kedrick.

Just goofin' off.

Cori: There are so many things I could say about you, Bud. I'm lucky enough to be the only kid in our family that remembers the day you were born. Meg and I were at a neighbor's house and Dad called and said, "Did you know you have a little brother?" I was so excited! Then we went to the hospital and no one would let me hold you because I was too little. I was as mad as a little 4-year-old could be! You have the purest of golden hearts and everyone who knows you is better for it. I'm so grateful that you have let me be your big sister, but more importantly, your friend. Love you!

Bud's sweet high school ride.
Ian: I remember when I left on my mission, he was just a wee little tot, then by the time I got back he grew like 4 feet. Between the smiting and the mansioning, we've gotten to be good friends. We've got more in common than just our names. He's a good guy and a good example to all of us. Happy Birthday, psuedobrother.

Ian's graduation day.
Meg: Ian knows exactly what to say to make me laugh. I have a million memories which ended with everyone laughing to the point of tears. He is so dedicated and smart. I couldn't ask for a better brother! Love you, Bud!

These two could be models.
Jillian: Ian and I have always been really close. Whether it was building Lego houses, riding bikes, playing night games or stomping through the snow in search of a lost Barbie doll together, Ian and I have been bestest buds. He is the smartest, kindest, funniest person I know. He is my favorite kind of weird. He has the best one-liners. I sure do love my older brother! Thanks, Ian, for always cheering me up and looking out for me! I'm the luckiest little sister out there!

Happy Birthday, little brother. We love you!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Halfway Through November...

Am I really going to be writing 2015 on everything in 6 weeks? That's weird...

Well, here's the understatement of the entire year: It's been an insane couple of months. Ian and I have been busy with school, work and everything in between. School keeps me very busy, but I get a lot of satisfaction from what I do. I feel like I've been getting a lot of positive feedback from the nurses I'm working with and my instructors. This nursing thing really is the best fit for me. Considering the fact that I've been at it for what feels like forever, it's nice to see the light at the end of the tunnel and feel like this is really going to pay off.

I found this cute picture of some of my friends in class. We have fun. :)
I don't remember it being as hot for as long as it was this year, so it's nice to be able to go outside and remember why this place is considered fit for human life. Ian took me for a ride in the Jeep on Tuesday. It was a beautiful day and I loved being able to take in some of Fall in SoUte.

This was about as rocky as the trail got. My kind of Jeepin'. 

See? If you go up high enough, you'll start to see that green things grow here. :)

Cruisin' with this cute guy.

I like him.

This is how you know you're in Southern Utah. The trail alternated between sand-colored and bright red. It was weird... I love the contrast with the trees and the blue sky, though. It's one of my favorite sights.

Kickin' up some dust in the afternoon sun.
My little Mazda is turning into a senior citizen, so we decided it was time to get another car for me. The plan was to car shop while we were up north for Thanksgiving, but we found one here that I really like, so we decided to go for it. It's a 2008 Nissan Altima. That will be car #4 we've bought in 4 years... We're content for now though, and I've sworn never to buy a car as long as I live after dealing with the... delightful... used car salesman. But it's all worked out now.

The Mazda's parked right next to it. I really will be sad to see that car go. I've put almost 100,000 miles on it, and we've driven it all over the country. I'm SO grateful to be SO blessed!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mom!

I'm keeping up with my new favorite tradition of Birthday blog posts. It's my Mom's birthday today!

A famous picture in our family. The Bills kids.
Vicky: Happy Birthday to my "little sister." I hope you have a wonderful day. I hope you know how loved you are. I'm a blessed one to have you as my sister and friend. Life is easier because of you.

You didn't think she had that side to her, did you?

The whole famdamily at Ian's homecoming.

This one's a classic. Mom and Dad on Halloween.
Dad: I love Becky because despite how crazy I make her she still loves me and overlooks all my innumerable faults and wackiness and still supports me. Plus she's a total hottie!

Dancing at my wedding.
Cori: You're the best mom! I've thought about a lot of the fun things we used to do as kids with you. I can't count how many times we made the trek out to Neola or down to St. George for the weekend. I love our lunch dates, car rides and phone calls. We have had so many heart-to-hearts when you've taught me how to be a good person and succeed at life. I've never doubted that you've had our best interests at heart.

On my wedding day
Ian: Its Birthday time! All the kids are enrolled in college, got yourself a new job, its for sure a good birthday to have. May your next year be just as productive.

Looking for pictures, I noticed that Mom is almost always surrounded by family. 
Megan: One thing that I love about Mom is how well she knows each of her kids. She recognizes our differences and deals with each of us individually, something that's not easy to do. One of my favorite Mom memories was when we went to see Hairspray together. When we were driving home, we listened to the soundtrack and  had a long talk about life. She told me the story of how she and dad ended up together. It's moments like that that I love the most. Happy Birthday, Mom! Love you!

Meeting Bud at the airport.

Bud: Mom is super duper fantastically awesome. She is there when you need her and is always interested in what's going on in your life. She's never shy to share experiences or help you out in any way she can. Happy Birthday Mom! Loves.

At Jillian's graduation

Jillian: Momma is da best. She taught me how to work hard, support myself, and be hapy even when life is hard. Love you, Mama!

Monday, September 1, 2014

The first week of the 2nd semester

The primary president asked me to do a spotlight of myself in Primary. I decided it would probably be really short, because there's only one thing that takes up the vast majority of my time...

I made it through the first week of my 2nd semester. 1 down, 15 to go (or something like that). It seems like everyone in my cohort has a tendency to talk about how crazy this semester is going to be and/or how overwhelmed we are (both valid points, really) but honestly, I'm feeling pretty good about things. I was reminded that my instructors aren't trying to make me fail, quite the opposite actually, and a lot of people with a lot more crap going on in their lives have made it through this program, so I can too. I'm recording this so during the first week of November when I'm quite possibly in over my head, I can reminisce about how good the first week felt.

I've been seeing a lot of research lately about how taking notes with pen and paper rather than on a lap top is much better. After taking a bunch of NCLEX-style tests this summer, I have to agree. There were a bunch of times when I went to answer a question and said to myself, "I remember talking about that, but I don't remember what was said." Consequently, one of my goals this semester is to really learn it so it stays in my brain.

We went over cardiac physiology in class on Friday. My instructor drew a diagram of the rib cage on the board and reviewed the best places to listen to the different valves of the heart. I realized that I have learned that in theory, but I really don't know how to interpret what I hear on an actual patient. That's my clincal goal over the next few weeks, figure out what the heck it means when I hear something other than a normal rhythm. I guess that's the advantage of studying in St. George. Most of my patients are old people with weird heart rhythms. Exciting stuff, right?

There's really not much to report other than differentiating heart sounds. Ian's getting settled in to his course of study as a finance major (nerd!). It's hard to take the advice of the general authorities who say to "find joy in the journey" when we're both trying to be successful as students and employees, but we try. We're blessed to be able to go to school and have good jobs that allow us to provide for ourselves, and give us enough left over to do fun things. Life is crazy, but oh so good.