Sunday, February 01, 2015

February Follow Up

Yes, yes, I know I posted my January resolution in February, but I did so mainly so I could follow up on how it's been going.

The first week was amazing. I was so filled with faith and hope that I found amazing strength, peace, and calm.  During moments when my kids were frustrated they pushed me, all the same buttons they normally push, and I was able to find a different way to BE. Not just ACT.  I felt different. I was different. I feel like I was really able to keep that same calm and attitude for 2 more weeks after that.

And then there was this last week. It was hard. My initial resolve started slipping. My period seemed to throw me off balance and hormonally out of whack. And on top of that, Matt was working a ton of overtime last week. I felt like he was on a work trip but sleeping at home. I was tired. Really, really tired. And I had moments of frustration and weakness and I said things in tones I shouldn't have and I could feel the difference. That initial hope and calm was missing.

Thankfully I am feeling a little more revived after church and the scriptures I read today. I've been participating in a challenge issued by one of my friends to read the Book of Mormon in 60 days. I've read it this fast before in college, but it's been a long, long time since I've read a full 30 minutes every day. It has been good for many aspects of my life. Because I started in the middle of the Book of Mormon (where I had currently been reading), I finished it last Sunday and issued the same challenge to the sisters in my current ward. It has been great to hear many people have the same kind of response I had to the challenge. That it has given others the focus and direction they needed, even amid the blaring face of the adversary. 

I think as we have been reading more, though, the adversary has been working harder on me to.  I'm not going to lie, this week was SUPER challenging for me. I felt like I was alone, exhausted, and bogged down and I was glaringly weak still. So, when I read this today, it really resonated with me. "And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy? Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul." 2 Neph 4:27-28 I guess it gave me strength to know that even Nephi, the non-complainer, the doer, the faithful, had to occasionally give himself a pep talk to overcome. He had to make the choice from day to day to kick out the enemy of his soul. He goes on to praise the Lord profusely, telling the Lord that he trusts in Him. Even if we're not perfect, as long as we're moving in the right direction we're always making progress. "It matters not if we try and fail and try and fail again. It matters much if we try and fail and fail to try again."

Yesterday I came across a conference talk that helped reignite my resolve to move past this week and start again. It was a talk given in LDS General Conference last April by Donald Hallstrom.  He was speaking to the men during Priesthood session, yet it is applicable to everyone.

"Once any of us conclude -- "that's just the way I am," we give up our ability to change. We might as well raise the white flag, put down our weapons, concede the battle, and just surrender --any prospect of winning is lost. While some of us may think that does not describe us, perhaps every one of us demonstrates by at least one or two bad habits, "That's just the way I am."

Well, we meet in this priesthood meeting because who we are is not who we can become. We meet here tonight in the name of Jesus Christ. We meet with the confidence that His Atonement gives every one of us -- no matter our weaknesses, our frailties, our addictions--the ability to change. We meet with the hope that our future, no matter our history, can be better."

I LOVE that quote.  It reminded me of a lesson I gave in relief society a couple years ago that really struck me with force. I quote it in the picture above. I am a work in progress. I am doing all I can to become better each day. I am not perfect, and occasionally I fall or stumble, but the key is to get back up and keep trying. Keep going. Keep looking up.

A New Year and New Beginning

note: I wrote this at the beginning of the new year and am just now getting around to publishing it,

I am not usually one to make serious, formal New Year's Resolutions. Mainly, I think that if we want to change and make goals, we ought to do it more than once a year. I mean, if I wake up and think, "I have got to change this!" I should just DO it rather than plan on doing it come January 1. However, I as I have been mulling over some of my biggest shortcomings recently, I've decided that sometimes changing something at the core of yourself is hard. It's scary. It's something you have to decide you REALLY want to commit to and do. Otherwise you are just destined to fail. Once again. "I've tried to change, but it's just who I am." No. We can change any personality characteristic if we want to, we just have to want to badly enough to keep trying. To remind ourselves daily the importance of the change. I am also convinced that there are some things we can't change purely on our own, but we have to turn it over to the Lord.

Before I had kids I thought I was a pretty decent human being. I don't think I ever really shouted. I was respectful of others. I was pretty in control. But let me tell you, after having 4 kids really close together, I have a new found understanding of stress, work, anxiety, sadness, anger, joy and exhaustion. In my Patriarchal Blessing it says that I will "learn life's greatest lessons in my home." Right now I am learning that "the natural man is an enemy to God...and will be forever and ever...unless he yields to the enticings of the holy spirit and put off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ." Mosiah 3:19

Sometimes I feel very natural. Very raw. Often times I want to blame my anger, short fuse, shouting, and frustration on others. Usually on my children. But that is a problem. Because if my problems are a result of others' actions, then I have no control over the solution. So I will own my problem and become the solution. This year I want to commit to stop yelling. Even if I am tired. Even if my children are yelling. Even if every button in my system has been pushed. I have wondered over the last few weeks if it is even possible. Can I possibly change this character flaw? This occupational hazard? It is scary. What if I fail? But, oh, what if I succeed.

I am willing to give it up and give it to the Lord. I know I will need His help. Oh yes, I will not be on this journey alone.

change card

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Letter and Pics

Well, I have been an absolutely horrible blogger. I have written more in my hand written journal this year than on my blog.  I also tend to over share on facebook as well, so this gets neglected. I did make up a Christmas Letter and Christmas card. However, I lost a lot of my mail addresses, so I ended up not getting out as many as I normally do.  So here it is:

Merry Christmas!  2014 has been an insane year of change for our family. The biggest life changers were the birth of our 4th child but first daughter, Vivian, and our move to UT after having lived in TX for 8 years. It was amazing how fast both of those events went. From the time we first heard of the job to the time we sold our house and left was about 2.5 months! We worked our tails off to get it ready to sell, and we were blessed to have one family look at it and one offer for our full asking price. It was amazing and I have no doubt it was a blessing from the Lord.. We’re under contract to build a house in Pleasant Grove, and that is scheduled to be finished around May of next year. It is a scary and exciting new adventure.

Vivian joined our family March 15th. She was a week early. Just hours before I had her, I told my mom I didn’t think I’d have her before my due date. I was just lucky we were able to make it to the hospital an hour away. I was telling Matt to run red lights (at 4 am) to get there faster. It was totally amazing my wonderful doctor was on call and walked in to catch my baby a whole 10 min. after we arrived!! She has been such a joy ever since. She is now about 9 months old. She is extremely mobile, crawls, claps, pulls to stand, waves, babbles, has 6 teeth, and loves music. She is trying her hardest to learn to climb the stairs (luckily she hasn’t made it past the first yet!)  and hurdles any other obstacles in her way.

Edward is 2 1/2, though he is currently wearing 4T clothing! He is by far my biggest kid yet. He is a loving big brother and generally a happy kid. He loves tagging along with the big boys when they go exploring, and he is quite a capable hiker! Never complains. He is incredibly good at remembering people's names, and he is a natural at making friends. While I know he is enjoying the activities and family here in UT, he still pines for TX 5 months after moving   Just this morning he said, “We have to go back to Texas. Utah is the worst ever.” It was sad and funny hearing that come out of a 2 year old’s mouth. He misses old friends and especially our playset and sandbox.  He is into trucks, Curious George, playing with friends, and hitching rides on our neighbors’ motorized toys.

he climbed in her mini crib to keep her company

Walter is 5 years old. We were able to celebrate his birthday in Texas the week before we moved. It was a fun send off for us. He started kindergarten this year and Matt works on reading with him every night. He’s made a lot of progress in the last few months. He loves living in UT “because we get to do a lot more fun stuff and it’s prettier”.  He is currently very into exploring the mountain that we live on. He loves hiking and “mining” and collecting stuff from his explorations. He wants to be a blacksmith, scientist, and an engineer when he grows up. He has really picked up an interest in art since starting school. He loves colorful things and has been enjoying watercolor painting.

Dean is 7 and in first grade. He has made some really good friends since moving here and has one “BFF” that he loves hanging out with as much as possible. A few times I’ve gone to pick him up from the bus stop and he wasn’t not there, so I had to drive across town to find he’d walked home with his friend without telling me.  He has an absolutely wonderful teacher, and I actually feel like he’s learning new things in school even though he’s still quite advanced in math and reading. He finished the entire Harry Potter series this year on his own and has started them over again. His favorite thing to do is play the computer and the game that occupies most of his free time is Terraria.

I, Celia, have had a crazy and emotional year. I wrapped up my spring studio piano recital the week before I had Vivian.  I started teaching again when she was 6 weeks old, but not long after that we heard about this job opportunity and our lives shifted dramatically. It was so hard to leave my students - it had been my favorite bunch to teach in 19 years - but we felt it was the right move to go. I sold my piano right before we left and it has been so hard not having one. Hopefully I’ll get a nice, beautiful dream piano when we move into our permanent house next year. Also, I have been accepted to teach Let’s Play Music out of my home next year. I’m excited for that new adventure!  I ran a half marathon at Halloween with a personal best of 1:42. I am currently serving as a ward missionary in our church. I love where we’re living, and I’ve made some great friends here. I love, love, love being near my sisters Julie and Amanda. It is amazing how fun life can be near family. There are times I miss our life and friends in TX and wonder how we're here, but I know the Lord directed us here.

birthday selfie
33 has been quite a year

While Matt wasn’t actively looking for a new job, he was contacted by a headhunter in June about a job opportunity in Provo. After looking into it more we felt good about applying. After he got his offer, it was a tough decision to make since we were settled and comfortable in Texas, but we were excited about the prospect of living closer to both of our families. He’s now working as a software engineer for Qualtrics programming survey software. So far he has been enjoying his job and programming in more relevant and up to date computer languages. They provide a lot of food, and they have a fun, young atmosphere. He works longer hours and has a longer commute, so we don’t see him quite as much, but overall it’s been a good move. He is currently teaching the 7 year olds (Dean’s class) at church.

We were packing the moving van on Matt's b-day, so this is as good as it got. No table or chairs...

Ate the 1920s themed work Christmas party

 We hope everyone is doing well, The Brasfields

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My parents the missionaries

In May my parents headed to New York to be full time missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  They have been running non-stop ever since. All senior missions are a little different according to the needs of the area, and there are a lot of needs in theirs. They are blessed that my little brother and two nieces live somewhat near them and they get to see them occasionally for a quick lunch or dinner, but honestly, they work from sun up to sun down serving the people of New York.

Here is an email I just got from my mom explaining just one part of one day out of their 18 month commitment:

Hello dear ones.

I got a facebook message from my dear friend last night who said it sounds like we are on a second honeymoon. I almost started laughing hysterically.  Let me recap yesterday from 3:15 until 9:30.  

3:15 I was to meet the English sisters at the church to be there while they gave an investigator a tour of the church. I went, they weren't there. Meanwhile one set of the Spanish sisters called and asked if Elder Waterman could give one of them a blessing. There were two English men missionaries there and I almost asked them to come and help but decided to ask the sister first. 

3:20 Spanish sisters arrived and said they just wanted a blessing of comfort from Elder Waterman by himself.  This dear little sister (must weigh 95 pounds) is a beautiful black sister from Mississippi who is the only member in her family and they are giving her a hard time about being here. She was in absolute tears. She came to the perfect person who knew how she felt. 

3:25 English sisters called and said they were almost there and could I go in case their investigator arrived before they did. I left before Elder Waterman started giving the blessing.

3:30 Started the best church tour I have ever heard. Love those sisters. The investigator loved it.

3:45 Came back home and visited with a very comforted sister missionary.  Everyone was all smiles.

4 Sisters left and I finally got my homemade carrot cake in the oven for home evening.  Needed 40 minutes. Started dinner for two elders that I had really wanted to have a nice long visit with. One of them has come to the end of his mission and is going home in a week and a half.

4:40 cake out and cooling, house in order for home evening, table set for 6 PM dinner.

4:45 Same set of Spanish sisters call me from the church with a problem too big to address over the phone.  I went over. (the church is almost next door, thank heavens) They had an hysterical mother of 5 who told them that she needed help because she and her husband and children had been locked out of the room that they have called home for quite awhile.  They have been subletting from someone. He had told the oldest daughter that he was leaving town for awhile and he had changed all the locks and if her parents were not there in five minutes he would be gone.  I recognized the mom as a former investigator that the two previous sisters had been so excited about. The parents were from Mexico. The children all born here.

5 We called the Bishop of the Spanish ward and he started calling around to see if anyone would be willing to rent them a room. The Dad has a job. We called the RS president and she said call 311 and they would help them get into a homeless shelter. The family has no car. The mother said if they went to a shelter her children would be put into foster care. She did not want to involve any police or city official.

5:10 An English elder came in and asked if I had any Pepto Bismol at my house. I took him home and gave him medicine and made frosting for the cake. 

5:30 went back to the church and met some of the children who looked and sounded very American. (The mom only spoke Spanish). They said their Dad was out with the two little ones looking for another room to rent. Spanish sisters were looking like they were in over their head. I gave the oldest daughter my cell phone and told her she would not sleep on the street but not sure how we would solve this as we didn't own our home and would need permission to bring in anyone else. The high priest group leader from the English ward came to the church for some reason.  He is from Ecuador and began a rapid conversation back and forth with the mother in Spanish. 

5:50 I came home to start frying tortillas for quiet taco dinner with our two elders. 

6 our company arrived and helped get everything on the table. We started eating about 6:15

6:25 An older lady, a middle aged lady, her two sons ages 8 and 10, and her 3 year old granddaughter arrived more than half an hour early for home evening.  They come by bus so it is hard to judge how long their trip will take. I had told the older lady that I had a bag of quarters for bus fare that I had not used on Saturday. I was prepared to pay for the bus coming and going to get the two teenage girls to and from Women's Conference. We all got rides home in a car.  At that time I told this older lady if she wanted to come to home evening I would give her those quarters so she could pay for the bus. Anyway, the two boys immediately asked if they could have tacos and I got up to fry up some more tortillas. We still had plenty of makings on the table so I thought it wouldn't hurt. But our quiet dinner had come to an end. 

6:30 with the two boys added to the table I told everyone that I needed to go back to the church to see how things were progressing.  I asked Dennis to spread the frosting on the cake.  I found the before mentioned high priest group leader there who was still trying to help but the mother did not like his suggestions.  The teenage children went out to find their father. The Spanish sisters looked like they were in over their head. More talking, and trying to calm the mom.

7 A very hassled Dennis came over to see if I could come back to help with home evening.  It turns out the high priest group leader was there at the invitation of the English elders who had asked for the Pepto Bismol. The three of them came back home with me. Fortunately the English teens who had the lesson and the game had arrived.  The song leader had not but we started anyway.  I found out later that the kids had been all over the house. They had asked for all kinds of food.  The older lady and the middle aged lady had both asked for tacos after I left so Dennis had fried up tortillas and let them fill them with whatever was left on the table. The two elders who had been asked over for a quiet dinner were wrangling the kids, doing dishes, setting up chairs for home evening, etc. Den did get the caked frosted.  The song leader came half an hour late. We also had one of our regular families-- a wonderful single woman from the Ivory Coast and her 9 year old son and 3 year old daughter.  The two 3 year olds hit it off.  21 people in all.

8 Everyone enjoyed home evening.  I asked the sister missionaries to serve the cake and I headed back to the church.  The high priest group leader said I should not go alone and he directed the two English missionaries to come with me and he would join us shortly. I didn't feel any fear and wondered why I needed help. 

8:15 the Spanish bishop called and said he had called every possible person in his ward and no one had a room to sublet and suggested we call 311. Brother R. had been talking to the mom about calling the police. She was not behind on her rent. The man had all their earthly possessions behind locked doors which amounted to theft. The teenage daughter arrived and said the Dad had convinced the superintendent of the building to pick the lock and let them in. They found their possessions had been thrashed and money stolen.  The Dad had called the police.  At this news the mom let out a wail and said that was a mistake. Brother R. gave her his phone number and said he would go to court with them if they wanted. He would help however they needed.  Apparently they got to go back into their room that night and also were able to collect their belongings.

8:30 I hugged the Spanish sisters and sent them home. I locked up the building and headed home to take one of the girls home. We had a hard time getting the crowd out the door who were heading to the bus but I was too hassled to drive by myself.  I really wanted Dennis with me and it turned out to be a good thing.  I almost went into a one way street the wrong way, but he caught my mistake and I made a NYC u-turn. 

8:50 arrived back home and got Debbie Yancey's email about our second honeymoon. Smile. I sent her a brief note back about the kind of day it had been. 

9:30 fell in bed, thanking my Heavenly Father for the miracle of Brother R. being there. He has never been to our home evening before but his presence kept us all sane and he really knew what to do.

PS we got up at 5:15 this morning to take a girl to early morning seminary. It is time to fall in bed again for the same reason. We are supported through all our ups and downs by the Lord.  Sometimes I think we keep a whole fleet of angels busy!!

Love you all.  Mom/Lois

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The end of an era

Ten years ago I graduated from BYU with a degree in Marriage, Family, and Human development. I spent another two years in Provo working as a cook for a residential treatment center while Matt finished up his schooling. Eight years ago he graduated and the two of us, pre-kids, moved to Texas because he was offered a job with Raytheon as a software engineer. A place I would have never expected to live. Remote from family. 

Over the next few years we figured out our infertility issues and had a few kids. After we had Walter, I really felt the sting of being away. Away from family. Away from friends. I felt very isolated. A little crazy. Matt wasn't really enjoying his job much at that point, and so I began trying to find a way out. I had one of my friends inquire at her software engineering husband's work if they were hiring. Before we knew what was happening, he had a job offer. It was a tough decision, but after going to the Temple and praying about it, Matt just felt it wasn't the right time or the right job.  There was no way we'd be able to sell our house in the condition it was in, so we turned down the job offer and set to work on our house. That was at the end of 2010. We put so much work into that house. All of it after hours when the kids were asleep. Matt tiled and put in a wood floor. I painted and painted and painted. In 2012 we were finally at a point where we could sell. Good thing too since I felt we were busting at the seams with our 3rd baby.  I never really felt like McKinney was my home for the rest of my life.

With no new job prospects, and Matt feeling relatively good about his job, we decided to sell and buy in the area. We moved to a smaller town just north of McKinney and I fell in love. I finally decided that this was it. This was where we were going to live for the next 20 years of our lives. I decided to start living the life that was waiting for me rather than wishing for the life I had planned.

I loved the little community we moved to. The streets were wide. The homes were beautiful. The people were friendly. If felt safe and comfortable, and it felt like home. Sure the summers here sucked, but we had a pool 300 feet away! It was doable. I walked Dean to school every day, rain or shine because we lived in the perfect location. Whereas it was difficult to find piano students in McKinney, students just landed in my lap here. Overnight I had upwards of 16 students. I was busy, to be sure, but it was a good busy. This was my most talented group of kids yet.

I have loved the friends I've made in our church and on my street. I was settled. I knew what to expect.

I had my 4th child out here and was just getting back into my teaching groove, planning out my studio for the fall, when Matt asks, "What would you think about moving to Provo?"  A company had contacted him through Linkedin. Um...? Yeah? That would be cool. I mean, to live near 2 sisters would be pretty awesome. He decided to at least look into the opportunity, not really knowing if it would bring about anything. What happened next felt like a whirlwind. He had three interviews, and within as many weeks we were saying yes to their offer. It was not a decision we made lightly. Texas has been good to us. Raytheon has been good to us. While there have been bumps along the road, it has been a good journey overall.

There was a promise of something new yet familiar. A promise of family. We'd be within a day's drive of both of our parents, a 30 min drive of two of my sisters, and a 40 min. drive from his brother.

So all of a sudden we had two weeks to get our house on the market and another two weeks to move. We worked our little tails off to get our house ready. I'm still not sure how we did it. So much work. So many kids! =) We were tired, very tired, but we listed last Monday. And no one came to see it until Friday. Let me tell you, it's a little stressful working so hard to get it ready and to keep it ready to not have anyone even LOOK at it! And then one family came to see it. I was bummed, to be sure, that only one family had seen it in the whole week. But then on Sat. night we got an email from our Realtor saying we had an offer for our asking price! Praise the Lord it was a miracle! Seriously. I have no doubt that the Lord's hand was in this.


And that brings us to the present. Tomorrow is Matt's last day on site at Raytheon. We have next week to celebrate Walter's 5th birthday, Matt's 33rd birthday, and then we pack everything up and head west for a new adventure.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Wrapping up the school year

Today was Dean's last day of Kindergarten. He had a cute little performance with the rest of the kindergarteners. Unfortunately he was sitting in the very front row rather than standing like most of the other kids. I couldn't see him for the first 3 songs so I wiggled my way to a place in the back (the cafeteria was PACKED) so I could see him. They had largest class ever in our school district.   Anyway, as I'm going through his portfolio, there is a plant journal from when they planted seeds at school. I can't stop laughing.

Day 1: it is not groing ol I see is soel. (It is not growing, all I see is soil).
Day 2: still it is not groing.
Day 3: still not groing.
Day 4: I thenke it is ded. (I think it is dead). (On this page he has a drawing of a container with soil, and three people frowning, standing with word bubbles saying, "I Thenk it is ded."
Day 5: it is stil not groing.
Day 6: it is stil not groing.
Day 7: it is stil not groing.
Day 8: stil not groing
Day 9: stil not groing (on this page he has a picture of a pretty flower in a pot labled "Dolltin"--a kid in his class-- and one pot that is just gray dirt that says, "Dean") haha
Day 10: it is ded (and has a picture of a bot with soil and a person standing there frowning.

And as I'm going through his daily journal, nearly every page has to do with legos. Here are some examples:

"This weekend I want to play with legos."
"Over the weekend I playd with legos."
"When it is cool outside I pla with legos."
"I like spring because I can bild my favorit set"
"My favorite song is lego star wors. I like the toon."
"I love my bruther because I can play legos with him. I like to bild with him."
"I am happy when I hav legos."
"On a sunny day I like to play with legos."
"My favorite presint ever was legos because I like bilding."
"I love winter becuase we hav a brak and I can play with legos."
"My favorite thing to do with my mom is play. I like to play legos with hr."
Maybe the best one: "I wish people would stop mesing with my legos." with a picture of a frowning person labled "me" and a smiling person with a lego ship labled "Walter."
"If I could rule the world, I would bi ol the Lego ses I want." (I would buy all the lego sets I want.)
"If I couldn't sleep I'd play with legos. I can bild."

It goes on and on like that until recently when Matt introduced the boys to one of his computer games, Terraria.

"Over the long weekend I playd trerea. I like trerea because I can bild." Then the lego entries resume. =)

The most interesting entry is: "If I had an evil step mother I would bi u wand. Then I would put a spel on hr to mak hr goud."

Though I also like, "I hope I wil learn dvisin in first grade." with a picture of a math problem he drew that says, 5/2= 2 1/2

We had a good last day of school/first day of summer. We went to a park to play and have a picnic. The boys got to play computer and watch TV while Edward and Vivian napped. And I went through the entire year's worth of paper work and threw out tons of things and kept about a 2 in. binder of their best stuff each.  Then we went to the pool and came home to make pizza. Well, I made pizza and the boys played the computer with Matt. They have been playing a game that he is currently playing called Terreria. It's been fun to hear them so engaged in something Matt enjoys.