Parents are Basically Just Tall Children.

Parenting really brings out the immaturity in a person.

My son is 2. He’s learning stuff in leaps and bounds. (Actually, one of the things he’s learning is how to leap and bound.) And I’m trying to keep up. One of the things I’ve noticed over the past few weeks is that me and my husband Ethan are actually pretty good at this. Parenting, for the most part, seems to come naturally to us.

This is probably because neither of us has properly acted our age since we were toddlers ourselves.

For one of our first dates, we went to the Provo library and sat in the children’s section, reading books. We laughed so hard at Dr. De Soto Goes to Africa that I actually peed myself. This was when I realized I liked Ethan.

Last night, we were up late dancing around the kitchen, having a funny-face contest, and making nachos. We had to make the nachos. I had three ripe avocados. I mean, what else were we going to do with an entire pint of guacamole? And of course, we had to do the dance. It’s the nacho dance.

This morning, I keep finding myself lingering as I walk past my dresser. The thing I’m lingering on is a little booklet that Ethan brought home the other day from work. He found it in a used book, being used as a bookmark, I suppose. It’s a few pages of temporary tattoos. Wild animal tattoos. I keep telling myself to save them for when John wakes up—but that rhino just looks so cool.

I usually finish the Dr. Seuss books, even after John has lost interest and wandered off.

We were going to watch a movie last night, but then decided John wasn’t being good enough to sit still for an hour and a half. I’m still a little disappointed I didn’t get to watch Tarzan.

My best form of flirting is to just kick my husband and then say, “Hey, I like you.” So far, he seems alright with this. As long as I don’t kick too hard.

I realized the other day that there’s really nothing stopping me from having hot chocolate for breakfast. I’ve had nearly 2 quarts of Abuelita this week.

Basically, what I’m saying is that if you’re good with children, there’s a decent chance it’s because you’re a child. ♦

A Few Thoughts About Andrew

A few weeks ago, my little brother Andrew died rather unexpectedly.

I shouldn’t say unexpectedly; we’ve kind of been waiting for his body to give out for the past few years. He’s been in and out of hospitals most of his life. Cardiologists have been impressed his flawed heart has made it this long—even half this long.

Still, that almost made it more unexpected for me. I’ve been living my life with the understanding that Andrew was a medical miracle, that he would stay until he died, and that I had no way of knowing when that was. When he was actually dying, I only really had about two days’ notice.

Mom sent out a text from the hospital (where Andrew was staying, again, and nobody seemed to bat an eyelash, because he’s in the hospital all the time.) Anyway, Mom sent out a text talking about how difficult it was to watch her son struggle to breathe, and she felt like he might not have much time left. She hadn’t slept all night, watching by Andrew’s bedside. I assumed she was overreacting and sleep-deprived, and called Dad to find out what was going on. Dad confirmed what Mom had said, though; Andrew didn’t have long to live.

Ethan came home from work early and drove me down to the hospital, then waited with John while I went up to say my goodbyes. Andrew was ornery, mildly sedated, and unamused by my comments about the cute nurses. Eventually, I got a smile, a hug, and an understanding that he wanted me to go back to Provo. Which I did.

The next morning, my parents gave the okay to take out his IVs. I came back the next day, just to see how he was doing, and walked into the room just as he was taking his last breaths. I stayed to hear my dad give him a final father’s blessing, then to watch him die. It wasn’t as fast a process as I thought it would be, but it was also more peaceful than I had expected.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been blessed by friends and family willing to help me clean, talk, cry, and laugh. My cousins’ children learned enough sign language to perform a musical number in ASL at the funeral. My aunt and uncle stayed while Andrew died, and then stayed in town throughout the next week. We’ve received a lot of support as a family.

It’s been an unusual grieving process for me; when my cousin’s wife died last year, I had a harder time accepting it. She was young, healthy, and had a husband and child to take care of. My brother, on the other hand, probably took a step up by leaving his body behind. His health was crap, and has been getting worse for years. As his pain levels went up, his personality clouded, and he got crabbier and crabbier. Besides all this, he had special needs, and looking at the afterlife raises interesting questions there.

I have never doubted that there is life after death, or that we will be the same people there (wherever) as we were here. But leaving behind his physical body means, technically, my brother might not have Down Syndrome anymore. I don’t know whether he’s autistic now—I don’t know enough about it to feel out whether that’s a physical-body-only thing, or whether that’s a personality thing. At any rate, I do have a strong impression that he’s much better able to think, function, and express himself now than he has been for the past twenty-four years. I just wish I was as able to listen.

We had a remarkable opportunity on Saturday to meet with a General Authority from the Church, Elder David Warner, who was in town for a stake conference. Apparently, my parents’ stake president told him what we were going through, and how much our neighborhood had banded together around my parents. The two of them arranged to meet us at my parents’ house.

I was expecting to be intimidated, or at least to feel a little guilty. I’m pretty sure that was anxiety talking, though—he introduced himself as “David,” chatted with my parents about favorite cars, and ate cookies while trying to make friends with my son, who was running circles around the room and chattering like a monkey. He asked about my brother, listened to our funny stories, laughed with us, sympathized, and assured us that Andrew was uniquely equipped now, more than ever, to sympathize with people who had led difficult lives. “You have a missionary in the field,” he told my parents,”and you should expect blessings to come to your family as a result of that. Andrew can now share the gospel with those who’ve already died, and he has experiences to draw upon that few others do.”

I was also struck by the reverence with which he looked at my  parents. “You’re doing this right,” he said. “There’s joy in this room. And that means you appreciate the time you were given with Andrew. Don’t feel guilty for being happy without him—he’s still here.” He then gave each of us a personal blessing before leaving us with a smile and a request to stay in touch. Mom, of course, gave them cookies for the road.

I’ve had my faith and my endurance tried over the past few weeks, but one thing I know for certain: God loves me. He loves my brother. And my brother—who is just the same person he was before he died—loves me, too. It’ll take some time before I see him again, but I have no doubt that I’ll recognize him, and we’ll finally be able to sit down and have a good, long chat. ♦

Andrew’s Obituary

cope-obit-photo-ps

On Friday, January 13th, 2017, Andrew James Cope passed away peacefully after a difficult fight between his failing heart and a bout of RSV pneumonia.

Andrew was born on September 12, 1992, only 20 minutes after his parents reached the hospital. Born with several heart defects and Down Syndrome, Andrew was popular with the hospital staff—both because of his advanced medical needs, and his elevated cuteness. He was an adorable baby.

Throughout his life, Andrew brought joy and difficulty to those around him. Ever the prankster, Andrew enjoyed breaking household objects, hiding things, and telling jokes about setting people’s hair on fire. Just a few weeks before his death, he hid every pair of pants his mother owned. They have not yet been found.

Andrew pursued many passions in his 24 years of life, including trains, Fig Newtons, pretty girls, music, fire, toilets, dogs, and keeping a strict schedule. He has held (unpaid) jobs at the Corner 22 gas station, numerous bowling alleys, Smith’s Marketplace, and the DATC in Davis County. He frequently went to Dick’s Market to buy M&Ms or Swedish Fish. He has also become known for his loving character, his willingness to laugh (and make others laugh), and his caring obsession with his nephew. Despite how rarely he spoke, he has always been very expressive and sympathetic, and was often moved to tears by the sadness of others. (Adele, for instance, always made him cry. As she does to so many of us.)

After struggling to breathe for several days, Andrew passed away shortly after a final father’s blessing from his dad. He will be missed by those he has left behind, but he will be welcomed with open arms by those who have gone before him, and his presence will continue to bless his family for years to come.

Andrew is survived by his parents Ray and Naomi Cope, his sister Rachel Unklesbay, his brother-in-law Ethan Unklesbay, and his nephew Jonathan. He is also survived by his Grandma Keener-Fast, and many aunts, uncles, and cousins. The family would like to offer special thanks to Andrew’s cardiologist Dr. Ron Day, as well as the wonderful staff at Primary Children’s Hospital and all of Andrew’s devoted friends. He has so many friends.

Funeral services for Andrew will be held at the Hidden Chapel, 1450 S. 350 W., Bountiful, Utah on Saturday, January 21st, 2017 at 11:00am. Viewings will take place Friday, January 20th, from 6-8pm, and Saturday morning at 10am, where Andrew will be forced one last time to wear pants to a public event.

Burial will follow at Bountiful City Cemetery, 2224 South 200 West, Bountiful, Utah. Condolences may be sent to the family at http://www.cityviewmemoriam.com.

If You’re Not Doing What You Love, You’re Probably Just Like Everyone Else.

Can I just talk for a second?

I see a lot of headlines (mostly ad headlines) telling me to stop what I’m doing, drop everything, and start doing what I love! Because if I would just stop for a minute and think about it, I would realize that there’s absolutely nothing between me and my dreams! Just do it! Forget your fears, and leap!

follow_your_dreams____by_cryingsoulgirl-d5cpoep

Here’s the thing. I am 100% in favor of following your passions and pursuing your dreams. And I think everybody should be happy. I also think a lot of us (myself included) need to do some spring cleaning in our lives, and get rid of the stuff, ideas, and obligations that are holding us back from becoming who we want to become.

But you can’t be thrilled all the time. It’s not an option. We’re human beings—we need a wide range of emotions in order to maintain stability, and that includes some negative ones. It even includes the boring ones. You can go pursue your dreams all day if you want, but eventually you’re going to have to find a place to take a dump. Eventually, you’re going to have to wash the dishes. Whether or not you love them, it is illegal to just ignore your taxes.

paperwork

And those are just the “taking care of me” ones. Now plug in the “relationships” part of the equation. My marriage brings me a lot of happiness. But that means that sometimes I have to take care of a sick husband. It means putting up with him when he’s hungry. It means admitting when I’m wrong (which might be more difficult than putting up with him when he’s hungry.) My son brings me a lot of happiness, too—but he’s in diapers. And they don’t change themselves.

I would love to just drop everything and go pursue my crazy dream… except I don’t really have a set-out “crazy dream.” When I envision happiness, it’s usually a motorcycle, a long highway, and a really hot sun overhead. But somehow, I would have to pay for the gas—and the motorcycle—and even motorcycle riding gets boring after 16 waking hours. Most people don’t have one specific passion that surpasses everything else. That’s the advertisers talking. (Hint: the “one passion” they want you to have is the thing they’re selling.)

bike-ride

I literally had a dream like this.

And here’s the thing: even once you find something that makes you happy—even if you’re the sort who can do the same thing for years, and it will still make you happy, and it will never get boring—eventually, somebody’s going to die. Someone you know will die. And it will be sad. And it isn’t healthy to expect to be happy while you’re sad.

Society screams at us that we’re supposed to be happy. I agree (but without the screaming.) There’s a scripture in the Book of Mormon that specifically states, “Men are that they might have joy.” It doesn’t get much more explicit than that: God wants us to be happy. We usually want that for ourselves. But there’s a difference between being a happy person and feeling happy all the time. That’s where the advertisers are lying; no product will make you happy all the time. No job change will solve all your problems. No relationship will make all the bad days disappear.

We aren’t supposed to be manically happy. We’re supposed to find a way to become happy people. That means doing some things that you don’t like (like the dishes I’m avoiding at this very moment.) And a lot of the time, it means working through the hard stuff to get to the good stuff (like the clean kitchen.)

being-miserable

This doesn’t mean that being miserable is a good thing. If something makes you miserable, you need to do something about it. It’s probably not necessary. You can get a new job. You can communicate better with your spouse. You can get a nanny for one or two days a week. Even the most unavoidable of problems can still be addressed; I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (which basically means I find winter really, really depressing.) So every year around February, Ethan takes me down to the Arizona border for a couple days to get some sun. If you’re an unhappy person generally, change something. Start looking for the positive things you have. Start eliminating or changing the negative things.

I was lugging my infant son around shortly after he was born, trying to get into the bookstore to talk to my husband. I walked around the mini-van and pulled out the baby carrier, then the diaper bag, then my purse, then realized I didn’t have enough arms, so I put down a few bags to adjust…

And then it hit me. I was that mom. The mom I had always made fun of. And I nearly cried. But then I realized something else: I’m only going twenty feet into a bookstore. I don’t need the diaper bag. Or my whole purse. Or the infant carrier. In fact, all I really needed was my wallet and the baby. So I got the kid out of the car seat, got my wallet out, and carried him on my hip while I wandered through a bookstore. Then I took him through the Asian market, just for kicks and giggles.

And then he blew out a diaper and peed the floor at the Asian market.

But you know what? The diaper bag was still just around the corner. We survived. And more than that, I started parenting differently, because I had realized I didn’t need all that baggage.

I’ve been out of shape for years, and I finally just started working out. Lo and behold, my depression, anxiety, and PMS have become easier to manage. Oh, and also, I’m in better shape. I’m not thrilled with my body yet. I’m still not a joy to behold during my period. But it’s better, and I’m happier. You can’t expect instant solutions, but you can expect improvements. That’s what I think we should all be working toward.

You shouldn’t be miserable. But you’re going to experience some serious discomfort in life, and you need to be okay with that. Learn from it. Grow from it. And use it to learn about yourself. Don’t drop everything and do something that makes you happy. Do things that shape yourself into a happier person. ♦

A Quick Review

So apparently, I haven’t posted on here since July. I have a perfectly reasonable explanation:

I’m lazy.

Well, now that’s off my chest, let’s review a few things that have happened in the past 3 months:

  • My baby boy is almost 2 years old. He is obsessed with Snoopy (“Doopy”) and socks. Also jumping.
  • We decided to buy a house – and then realized how much a house costs. We are now accepting donations. Joking. Kind of.
  • We bought Jonathan some new shoes. He loves them so much he’s started doing more athletic things. Also more jumping.
  • I watched a round sausage of a wiener dog come barreling across the street toward me, belly almost hitting the ground, while its owner stood on the porch and shouted, “Stop! Come back! You’re making a fool out of yourself!”
  • A bunch of my family members had babies! Yay for babies! They are all cute, of course. But not as cute as mine. Sorry.
  • Everyone went back to school except for me. Muah ha ha.
  • I signed up for a cooking class with a neighbor! Which means I now know how to make delicious pumpkin curry soup and rosemary shortbread (which is actually pretty delicious.)
  • I discovered that adult-sized onesies are apparently a thing now. This is not okay, America.
  • I also discovered the most delicious pot-stickers in Provo. CupBop. 3 dumplings for $2. Easily the best I’ve ever had.
  • Ethan got rejected for a management job because he didn’t have managing experience. When he asked how to get managing experience if nobody will hire him as a manager, the interviewer shrugged and said, “You’re stuck!”
  • Ethan got promoted to Assistant Manager.
  • Jonathan decided that “bean doup” (bean soup… aka warm beans in water) was not for him, despite having begged for them. Cold beans, however, are totally fine. Just not the soup.
  • I discovered I’m not half bad at making bread.
  • We watched the LDS General Conference, loved it, and heard almost half of it over the sound of a two-year-old playing with plastic cups.
  • Ethan set a goal to read the whole Book of Mormon this month, inspired by said conference. I set a goal to exercise and study something – because apparently that’s what I’m most motivated to do when I’m really inspired.
  • We also set goals for spooky Halloween reading. Ethan’s reading Dracula and Frankenstein, while I read Something Wicked This Way Comes, Macbeth, and a few short story collections. Ethan is rocking it. I am falling rather far behind.
  • I taught John to jump on crunchy leaves.
  • John fell off of two picnic benches (on different days), and landed on his head. No permanent damage.
  • We discovered tikka masala potato chips. Which led to our discovering tikka masala recipes. Indian food is so freaking delicious.
  • I cut my own hair. It took me about two hours, and it looks good enough to go out in public. Not good enough to escape mockery from a hairdresser friend, however. So…. 6/10. ♦

Treeswatting

Today, John and I needed to get out of the house.

I went through the spare change jar, came up with three dollars, and we walked about half a mile to the Creamery. And by that, I mean we walked together for about two blocks, and then John’s little legs couldn’t take it anymore, so I carried him on my shoulders. We slowed down under the trees so he could touch the leaves.

We wandered through the Creamery, looking for cheap treats. (It’s a campus store, so everything’s super expensive. Those poor Freshmen are getting ripped off.) We eventually settled on a bag of mini chocolate donuts and a flyswatter. (John selected the mini donuts by indicating them with the flyswatter.) We paid for our snack (and flyswatter), got a cup of ice to go, and then sat out on a bench next to the store.

Chocolate-covered donuts may not have been the best idea. Soon the baby was covered in dark brown goo. He was happy, though, so whatever. We sat and panted in the heat, taking turns dropping ice pebbles down each other’s backs or stacking them on our heads.

We went in for another cup of ice before heading off, and then I slung him on my shoulders, where he wielded a flyswatter at the tree branches overhead, laughing hysterically when I shouted, “Bam!” and “Pow!” as he hit the leaves. Some days, life is just good. ♦

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. ♦