Unfortunately, I Still Don’t Have the Picture, So You Don’t Get to See It.

The other day, I went to see my grandma. It’s been a while, for some reason; she lives close enough for this to be inexcusable, but I guess I just haven’t gotten around to stopping by. Anyways, this past weekend, I finally got me and my 2yo son up to Bountiful, and hung out with my mom and grandma for a while.

As I was looking around Grandma’s apartment, I started looking over the family pictures hanging up. There were some old pictures of my aunts I’d never seen (looking young and smoking hot, of course.) There were some more recent pictures of some relatives I haven’t seen in a while. I moved to the other side of the bulletin board.

This side had more pictures of people I didn’t recognize; neighbors, friends, and maybe relatives I hadn’t met. I found a really cute picture of an eight-month-old baby named Jonathan, presumably from the other side of the family. I noticed it because the kid was super cute, and also because he shared my son’s name.

Then I looked a little closer, because this kid really looked like mine. I was trying to figure out if he was more closely related than I’d thought. Then I recognized the shirt the baby was wearing. This was my kid. I did not take this picture. This was a posed, studio print. You don’t accidentally snap a shot of your kid at the Target picture studio, leaning out of a wooden crate.

I turned around, looking puzzled, and realized why my mom had gone silent. She was waiting, tensed up, with the “I’m in trouble” face.

“This is John!” I said.

“Yeah…”

“When did you do this?!” Mom fessed up. Apparently, she went and had the portraits taken while she watched Jonathan for a weekend so Ethan and I could spend some time together on our anniversary. She didn’t ask permission, because she didn’t want me to say no.

“Okay—but John’s two! Why didn’t you tell me since then?”

“I didn’t want you to get mad at me.”

We laughed about it. And I forgave her. And then I was embarrassed. And I’m still a little embarrassed about it. I’m embarrassed because I’ve been so uptight that my mom already knew I was going to say no, just because I didn’t personally want any pictures taken. I’ve also been so uptight that she was afraid to tell me after the pictures were taken. And then she was a little worried about giving them to me for a Christmas present.

To be fair, I still don’t like posed pictures. And they were cute, because my son is cute. But I still probably wouldn’t hang them proudly on my fridge—first, because they’re outdated now. Second, because my son doesn’t stand still for that long anymore, and I want a more true-to-life picture. I prefer candid shots. But lately, I’ve been realizing that I’ve been wound pretty tight, and I’ve gotten controlling. And I don’t want to be like that.

This is not a confession, nor is it a blank check for my mom to go spend thousands of dollars on my kid. But it was a pretty good reality check for me, and I need to chill out. I need to let my parents be grandparents. I need to let my neighbors be neighbors. I need to let my husband be my husband—and let him be Dad, too.

So here’s my resolution to calm down and let people show love the way they want to. ♥

In Which My Family Is Nearly Blown to Smithereens

For Pioneer Day, our ward puts on a party. There’s food, fireworks, more food, and snow cones! My father-in-law is in Utah already, so he decides to join us.

John is uncertain about staying up to party. He is also uncertain about Grandpa, who is still a little foreign to him.

We buy some chips and rolls at the Creamery. (PSA for Canadians: there are “All Dressed” chips at the Creamery.) Then we head down to Kiwanis Park, where John runs around with the neighbor kids, plays with a ball, and eats irresponsible amounts of Mom and Dad’s food.

Status: John likes parties.

After a while, everybody’s belly is full, and we start to settle down to wait for the fireworks.

Status: John is super tired. John does not like parties.

A group of people set off some end-of-the-driveway fireworks across the park, while we’re waiting for the real deal. John’s mouth drops open. About this time, Ethan brings us a snow cone, and we just sit on the grass, eating snow cones while John signs “more” in between fireworks.

Status: John loves fireworks. John also loves snow cones. I am Mom of the Year.

After about half an hour of the driveway variety – and after John has eaten at least half of my snow cone – we hear the first few professional fireworks go off. I suddenly realize that the place we’re sitting is only about 30 feet from the fireworks themselves. This is a great show.

Status: John is terrified. Fireworks are the devil.

I pick up a screaming John and leave my husband and father-in-law to head for the edge of the park, where the fireworks won’t be exploding directly over our heads. John is screaming. I am missing some really good fireworks. After walking about 20 feet, I hear surprised sounds from the crowd behind me and turn around to see a few large fireworks bounce off the ground just behind my husband’s head, another one land in a group of blanket-sitters, and one explode into a pine tree, which fortunately does not ignite. I start walking a little faster.

Status: John thinks we’re in a war zone. He’s probably scarred for life. I am no longer Mom of the Year.

After walking (and screaming) for a good two or three minutes, we reach the edge of the park, where nobody is sitting, we get the whole lawn to ourselves, and the fireworks look much smaller. My husband texts us to ask where we are, and slowly start walking to join us. We watch the fireworks from a safe distance behind the trees, and John calms down. He still climbs up my torso for the big ones, but he starts signing “more” again, so maybe he isn’t scarred for life.

Status: John loves fireworks, but only from a safe distance.

After a grand finale (which is terrifying, but still prompts a request for more), we pack up, put the baby in the stroller, and come home. It’s 10:30. John walks into his room, shuts the door, and walks to his crib. I put him to bed.

Status: John is exhausted. ♦

Cassie, You Will Be Missed

This is part of the reason I haven’t written for a while. The day before Father’s Day, my cousin came home to find his wife on the bed, not breathing. After over a week in a coma, Cassie passed away. All in all, it’s been a difficult time for my family, but healing will come, and for most of us, has already started.

One of my cousins, Nate Eaton, works for East Idaho News. He’s written this better than I could, so I’m shamelessly reposting.

EATON: CASSIE, YOU WILL BE MISSED

Reposted from East Idaho News

0  Updated at 9:52 am, July 1st, 2016 By: Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com

cassie2

Cassandra Honn Nelson took her final breath late last night.

The 35-year-old mother, wife, sister, aunt, cousin and friend died peacefully in a Boise hospital bed with her husband, Eric, by her side.

Her unexpected death comes nearly two weeks after she suffered a stress-induced cardiomyopathy – also known as broken-heart syndrome. A portion of her heart became paralyzed and prevented the rest of her heart from circulating blood to her body.

Cassie is married to my cousin, Eric. He has been by her side for the past 12 days. So has their three-year-old daughter Scout – who, we’re praying, will have wonderful memories of her mother’s short time on earth.

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When I wrote about Cassie last week, we were hoping she’d be able to bounce back. But doctors determined she had suffered debilitating brain damage due to lack of oxygen. While the rest of her body was relatively strong (including her heart), her brain would never function again.

Last Thursday, Cassie’s family gathered in her hospital room to say goodbye. She was taken off life support and for seven excruciating days, she slowly passed away.

Your kind thoughts and messages over the past two weeks have touched our hearts. Many of you, who don’t know Cassie or Eric, have been praying for them every day. A GoFundMe account was created to help pay for medical bills and within days, $25,000 was raised.

Thank you.

While Cassie’s untimely death doesn’t make sense, a message Eric posted on Facebook does. He wrote these words the night before his best friend was taken off life support:

The best thing to hold on to in life is each other. This evening I will sleep by Cassandra’s side and hold her with all the love I have; tomorrow and every day after I will hold her love, her beauty, and her memory with every feeling in my heart.

I am feeling a hundred different emotions but am clinging to love. Anger for losing Cass so early and envy for losing a life I expected are burdens that are simply too great to bear. I was able to have Cass for 13 incredible, adventurous, and beautiful years. And now she will remain what she has always been: the girl of my dreams.

Cassie, you will be missed.

Reaching for Sun

reaching for sun

I happily stumbled upon this book while browsing the poetry section at Pioneer Book. (I do their social media – I spend a lot of time looking for good Instagrammable book covers.) Anyways, this one was fairly instagrammable, but it also looked like something I would enjoy, so I just bought it instead of taking a picture.

The book is called Reaching for Sun, and I’ve never heard of it before, or the author (Tracie Vaughn Zimmer.) It’s about a 7th grader surviving 7th grade, finding a friend, and coming of age. Also dealing with cerebral palsy, her family, and a crush on a boy. And school bullies. So basically, it’s a pretty normal look at 7th grade, with a few specifics thrown in.

Also, it’s written entirely in poetry, which means it’s more emotion-driven than plot-driven.

I loved this book. It deals with growing up in a way that doesn’t claim to provide all the answers, it deals with romance in a totally age-appropriate way, it deals with life tragedies in a way that acknowledges the pain and doesn’t pretend to be able to solve everything, and it deals with disabilities in a very real, non-condescending way. It shows you a snippet of life, but it doesn’t preach at you.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a light read with some soul. Especially anyone in 7th grade. ♦

El Monito

My baby is determined to kill himself.

He’s been climbing lately – like he climbs more often than I walk. (And he can’t walk – which means he definitely climbs more often than he walks.) He climbs up onto the futon, he climbs all over the coffee table (I use “coffee table” here as a loose translation for “that army chest we plunked in the middle of the living room), and he does his darnedest to climb up onto the bed. He tries to climb the drawer handles in the hallway. The other night, when he was tired, Ethan caught him trying to climb into his crib.

The most difficult part of this is instilling in him a proper fear and respect for gravity. I have no problem with my little monkey learning how to climb. I refer to him as “Monito,” (“Little Monkey”), and I’m rather proud of his newfound abilities, especially compared with the motionless blob of diaper that he was just over half a year ago. No, my problem with the climbing is more in the falling.

He started out by falling off the bed. Ethan and I have a fairly standard, double-sized bed. It stands about two to three feet off the ground, which isn’t that far to fall, unless you’re only two feet tall. El Monito has mastered the edge of the bed; after falling to his doom one too many times, he has grown wary of it.

The high chair, however, is a different story. He’s only fallen out of that one a few times, and he hasn’t quite associated it with the warning bells that the edge of the bed set off in his head. It has a seat belt (which he hates), but I don’t usually belt him in, because he usually sits reasonably still while eating (and because he hates it).

Last night, while I was cooking, I scooted his high chair up near the countertop so he could watch (and not cry). He immediately climbed out of the high chair and onto the counter. So I scooted the chair back so he couldn’t reach the counter. He turned to the side and climbed the dish drainer.

I scooted the high chair back into the very center of the room, where he couldn’t reach anything. He spun like a top in dizzy circles, trying to find anything he could climb on. Finding nothing, he just kept spinning while I cooked. I got the rice all put together, seasoned, and in the rice cooker, closed the lid, and heard a crash.

The baby had dive-bombed onto the tile, head-first, in a desperate attempt to find something to climb. I picked up my screaming child, turned on the rice cooker, and went to go sing some songs while he cried it off. ♦

Acronym Battle

The other day, my neighbor sent me a text about an NDA. I didn’t known what that meant. Naturally, instead of looking it up, my husband and I stayed up until midnight, coming up with all the options we knew NDA didn’t stand for.

National Defense Administration: probably not, at least not in the context of getting a new job. I hope. I don’t think I’m working for the NDA.

Never Die Alone: good advice. Probably not what he meant.

Nine Doilied Abuelas: I just pictured an army of elderly Chileans pushing food and life wisdom on me.

Non-Dairy Asparagus.

New Die-hard Action.

Novel, Dangeresque Activity.

Nervendings Don’t Accumulate.

Norman – Dust Around!

Nirvana Does Acid.

Nickelodeon’s Dust Allergy.

Non-Denominational Atheists.

We used to drive Ethan’s roommates insane doing this for hours. We still do this for hours. I’ll spare you the full list – I don’t remember it all anyway. ♦

Alligators at the Golden Corral

There was a man with an alligator puppet at the Golden Corral tonight. He was just kind of cradling it in (on) his arms, like it was his favorite cat.

I was about to point him out to my mom, but she was too busy asking me a question. “What is the name of your reptilian brain?”

My reptilian brain. My reptilian brain? I pictured an alligator brain in a jar on my bedroom desk. With a name. Evidently, this was not what Mom meant. Evidently, the faces I was making trying to figure it out were entertaining. Mom was crying, she was laughing so hard.

“…I call him Vincent,” I managed to come up with. Mom died laughing.

Apparently, the “reptilian brain” is a fairly common term for the more primitive, instinctual part of the human brain. The things you learn at Golden Corral.

I never did see the alligator man again. ♦