Thursday, February 16, 2017

Valentines Day

The history of my hate of Valentines Day probably started in middle school.  Let's be honest.  I think all of our deepest, strongest irrational feelings probably started there.  What a terrible time of life.  The smells.  The insecurities.  The awkwardness.

Being the good little Mormon girl that I was, of course I didn't have a boyfriend.  Although this had less to do with my faith and more to do with the fact that there were no boys interested in me.  I remember watching Saved by the Bell in my early years.  Every girl watching in the early 90's wanted to be Kelly.  I mean what girl wouldn't dream of having Zach and AC fighting over her?  Amazing.  But here's the crazy thing.  I was even jealous of Lisa.  Sure, it was Screech.  But the idea of having a boy madly in love with me,  what a dream.

I remember watching girls around me in middle school with such jealousy.  Roses, teddy bears, balloon, chocolates, the works.  I was so incredibly jealous.  If there was a girl version of the Christmas Story ever made, I think every pre-teen girls' number one fantasy would be a dozen roses delivered to her homeroom.

Even as I am writing this I am dreaming of sending all my girl students roses.  From a secret admirer. Wouldn't that be the best?

But anyway, back to Valentines Day.  By the time I got to high school I tried to make it a happy day.  I remember making sugar cookies and spending all Valentines night driving them around to all the town.

There's been a lot of drama in the years of Valentines since then.  Lots of drama.  And sometimes it's fun to look back at that drama.  I had a conversation with a parent last night at Parent Teacher Conference.  She explained that she feels that often times we go through hard things to learn empathy for others.  And I'll tell you what, every Valentines I feel for every girl in my class that I know is dreaming of having the door open and a dozen roses delivered on her desk.

But now I can't believe how lucky I am.  The love I feel every day in my little family is way better than any romantic gesture on February 14th.  And as I think back to my 13 year old self, I don't think I ever thought that would be possible.

*Update - I obviously couldn't give every girl in all my classes roses, so I just gave them to my 15 yearbook staff. :)

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Funeral

I have grown to love the perspective that funerals bring.  So often I feel like we get caught up in the rat race of life.  And I love how funerals make us stop dead in our tracks and have to remember there is an end to the cycle of day to day life.  And hopefully it is all for a reason.  

Saturday was an absolutely wonderful, beautiful, tender day.  I will start with my favorite moment, possibly one of my favorite moments of my life.  My little brother Craig is currently doing his doctor internship in Denver.  He text me Friday morning after he got off his all night shift in the ER.  He was trying to figure out if he, his wife, and their darling 18 month old boy that hates the carseat should drive the 8+ hours to the funeral.  My mom had of course already told him to not come.  There was a storm they'd be driving through.  It was only for 1 day.  My mom is very practical like that.  So Craig asked me.  Here was my response, "That is so hard..... of course if you ask Mom she would say don't come.  But I do think it would mean the world to her if you did."
And it did.

My sweet Grandpa.

So everyone but Chad and Maddie (both in Med School in West Virginia) was able to make it to the funeral.  My mom gave a rockstar talk and I was asked to give the closing prayer.  (Probably because they wanted to keep the basket case (me) for last)  It was a wonderful beautiful day.

At least we got all 3 to look in one direction.... too bad it wasn't at the camera.

All 14 Parson Grandkids.

It has been cold and miserable in northern Utah this winter.  The inversion has been terrible.  Until Saturday.  It was warm!!! and sunny!!!! and had just rained so perfectly clear and beautiful.  Brad got to test out his new sunglasses!

It was a beautiful, wonderful day.

Monday, January 30, 2017

My Grandma

Growing up, I don't think I realized who really shaped and molded me.  I learned ethics and values.  I made choices.  I have become the person I am today.  And arrogantly many times I am afraid I thought it was my own doing that got me to where I am, who I am.

But then days like yesterday happen.  And more than ever I remember who I have been influenced and created by.
This is my grandma, Hyla Mae Robson Bartholomew.  Yesterday, at 92 years old, she passed away.  I often talk about my grandpa, her husband.  If there was one person in this world I wish I could be more like, it would be him.  But if there is one person that I am probably more like than anyone, it is probably her.  

The hard thing with grandparents is as a grandchild we don't know them when they were young.  Especially hard with my grandma, all my memories with her are after she had a stroke that affected her speech.  I didn't know her when she was at the top of her game.  I can't imagine knowing her when she was because if there is one thing about my Grandma, she was as sharp as a tack.  And from what I am told, before her stroke her skill was even stronger.

An example of this:  Jason and I went to visit my Grandma.  She was 91 years old.  She was frail and almost completely deaf. She had been in the hospital/rehab for over a month with a broken and replaced hip.  But over and over again she kept saying to Jason, "I am so sorry I wasn't home to mail out your birthday card!  I didn't send you your birthday card."  Jason just smiled.  He had only been in the family for a short time.  He figured she was confusing him with someone else.  Because surely this 91 year old grandma didn't know her granddaughter's new husband's birthday.  But Jason didn't know my grandma.  And he didn't understand that she did not miss a single birthday, ever.  So before we left, Grandma handed us a birthday card already made out to Jason Braithwaite on the envelope.

This was my grandma.

This year, less than 1 month before my Grandma died, Jason's birthday card came in the mail. 

She cared about everyone.  She knew everyone.  Her life was about making sure that everyone felt of her love.

I cannot tell you how many times I can remember her hugging me and saying, "You know how much I love you.  I am so proud of you."

I know my grandma was proud of me.

I know this because she valued what I value.  And maybe there was a time that I thought this was a coincidence.   But of course I know that isn't true.  Looking at my life, I can now see how much of how I am is because of her example.

So here are the things that I learned from my grandma:

You do the right thing no matter what.  We don't talk about it much.  The fact that my grandpa stopped going to church.  I understand.  We don't want to make him look bad.  He is a very wonderful, outstanding, good person.  But we need to talk about it because of what my grandma did.  When my grandpa stopped going to church back in 1963 that didn't stop my grandma.  She loaded up her 5 kids and went to church every single week.  By herself.  Rain or shine, she was there.  She never missed church.  She has gone to church by herself for the last 54 years. 

If you are going to do something, do it right.  I wish I would have got more of this trait.  But my grandma was a perfectionist.  

 Be both a feminist and a traditional woman.  My grandma was the perfect example to me of the balance of feminist and traditional woman. She was a college graduated working woman.  When her children were all in school she went to work teaching junior high in Long Beach.  But my grandma was also a cook, seamstress, quilter, and could throw one heck of a party.

This is the quilt that my grandma hand quilted for my wedding.  She hand quilted a quilt for every one of her children and granddaughters.

Travel.  I need to find out how many countries my grandma has traveled to.  It was from her that I first got my taste of traveling.  Every place she would visit she would bring home gifts for us.  Some of the things I remember getting from her travels:
Pinocchio puppet from Italy
stacking dolls from Russia
traditional pajamas from China
a olive wood camel from Jordan
papyrus art from Egypt

Care about everyone.  My grandma cared so much about people and wanted everything to be fair so much that it was almost a fault.  The birthday cards were just an example.  Grandma and Grandpa would celebrate different milestones with each grandchild.  Examples of this were taking each grandchild out to dinner for their 8th birthday and presenting that child with a check that would put into a CD for their future.  After high school graduation they took each grandchild to the fancy Roof Restaurant in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building for dinner.  After they attended my Masters graduation they gave me a card with a very generous check.

The crazy thing as I type all this, is these are the few things I remember.  But I know that my entire life my grandma was there and cared.  And she would have done anything in her power to make sure I was a happy, successful, righteous person.

Grandma, thank you for always being my number 1 cheerleader.  Thank you for caring so much about me and my happiness.  Thank you for your years of selfless service.  Thank you for the countless times you took me in and made me at home.  I will miss the excitement of finally pulling into your drive way.   I will miss climbing the stairs into your kitchen and calling out your name.  I will miss your hugs and sincere compliments.  I will miss seeing your distinct handwriting on every letter and card you have written me with your signature slanted and.

Thank you for being the best grandma a girl could ever hope for.  

Friday, January 27, 2017

Looking back at 12 Months of Brad

0 days old...

2 weeks old,..

Oh baby how we love you.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


I looked up the definition yesterday.  Seriously.  I looked it up.  Because with all the hoopla recently I did not know where I was supposed to stand...or march if the case may be.

Feminism: the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.

With that definition I guess I can say I believe in feminism... I guess?  Maybe?  With age and experience some things in my life have become very black and white.  But a lot more have become gray.  Well, actually maybe in this case I see more black and white and less gray actually.

You see,  I feel like I have truly benefited from the crusade of feminism.  I have had the freedom to be educated through the public and private institutions of my choosing.  I have had the freedom to form opinions based off my education and experiences.  I have the freedom to vote.   I have been able to gain fairly lucrative employment to support myself and then myself and my husband and now even my husband and my child.  I have been able to keep that employment while pregnant and after have a child.  I have been able to do pretty much whatever I'd like to do.

That being said.  I believe I have been discriminated against because I am a female.

But here is the thing that I have been battling inside my head... and now on this post.... I don't know if that discrimination was necessarily a bad thing.

First I must say, there is no question I have been treated differently than a man because I am a woman.  And I like that.  I like chivalry.  I honestly think it makes the world a better place.  Of course I can open my own door and bring my own jacket and wait my turn in line.  I think these small acts of respect shown to women helps put the world in its proper place.  Because at the end of the day, the bottom line is: men and women are not the same.  And if for no other reason than because women bare children, I believe they should receive an extra bit of respect.

But back to the discrimination.  Within my career, a career that is predominately women, I have been discriminated against because I am a woman.  Although I was a better candidate, I was not hired for a position because I was not male.  I have not been able to climb up the leadership ladder where all my male counterparts have.  The list goes on.  There is no question I have been treated differently because I am a female.

And although it has been extremely frustrating, here is the statement that I feel the need to say, I don't know if me being discriminated against was necessarily a bad thing.

Now I fully recognize a "true" feminist would say I have been brainwashed by my culture.  I am a beaten puppy that has accepted my role as the subservient sex.  And I guess there isn't much I can say in defense against that other than I recognize that this is a possibility.

But on the other hand, maybe the fact is: men and women are created differently and play separate and important roles in society because of their differences.  

In other words, maybe I have been discriminated against for good reason.  Not just because I am a woman, but maybe because I am a woman that acts like a woman.  And sometimes a man that acts like a man can do a job better than a woman that acts like a woman.

I don't know.  I wrestle with these ideas all the time.  What is nature?  What is nurture? Is it true that women and men inherently are different?  I know it's kind of a chicken and an egg question.  But I'll tell you what has been very interesting to watch.  My 1 year old boy.  He has had stuffed dolls in his toy box for months.  He rarely plays with them.  On the other hand, we noticed him making cool motor noises as he played with toy cars at grandmas' houses.  So for his birthday we got him a toy monster truck.  Now that he has a truck it is the only toy he plays with.  This was not a learned behavior.  If anything he should be playing more with dolls because he plays with 2 girls everyday who loves their dolls.... but no he loves his truck.  Brad has not been taught to like a truck more than a doll.  We didn't encourage him to play with the truck more than the dolls.  But now he only plays with his truck.  Which is evidence to me that there is an inherent difference between males and females.  I had heard this over and over again from other moms.  This difference between boys and girls.  But it has been so interesting to watch it first hand with my son.

So where do I stand as far as feminism goes?  I believe everyone should have equal rights in this world.  Everyone should have the right to do whatever they can and want as long as it doesn't infringe on the rights of others.  But the bottom line is: men and women are different.  And I believe the differences between them makes the world a more balanced place.  Trying to ignore or erase those differences, trying to treat everyone exactly the same, hurts people in the end.  So any artificial rule or law to try and make things 50/50 or "equal" is ridiculous.  The idea that all positions in a company or in a political body should have equal parts male and females will only hurt society.

So what do I believe in?  What would I march for?  A world where everyone, no matter what they look like, can become and be whatever they'd like to be.  A world that looks at skills and talents and chooses the best.

Do I believe the women who marched around last weekend were marching for that?  I have no idea.  And honestly, I don't know if they knew either.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

1 Year Old

Brad walks almost as much as he crawls unless he hears the dishwasher or fridge open. At that point he drops to his knees and makes a dead spirit to the appliance no matter where he is or what he is doing. He loves to mimic us. He grabs our phone and holds it to his ear and says ello, he tries to snap his finger when I snap along with a song, he gives high fives, and my favorite, he does the Home Alone Scream. He dances to any music unless we want him to perform. He has 8 teeth and says Momma, Dadda, uh oh, and ello. The highlight of his day is when he hears the door open and knows daddy is home. It melts my heart every time.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Happy Birthday Baby!

Oh the difference of a year...

We had no real plans for Brad's birthday.  Jason spent the whole day studying so Brad and I just hung out.  We went on an adventure to Walmart... which was the most Brad has ever acted up in public.  He wouldn't sit in the cart so there I was pushing a completely loaded cart in one hand with Brad in the other while he was trying to grab at everything he could see..... I can see the beauty of Walmart's pickup. :)  Anyway, Brad loves the Tickle Me Elmo at Grandma's house.  And Jason makes a hilarious Elmo impression... so I thought because I had nothing better to do on Saturday I should make Brad a cake!  I had to get a little creative on the orange nose because I couldn't find ANYTHING that would work.... until I stumbled upon orange silly puddy!!!  

Finally when Daddy came home at 6 we partied hard.  

I love love this darling new shirt from Aunt Wendy.  And Brad is a little more used to opening presents since Christmas.  But he still got pretty caught up on the ribbons...

His favorite toy was a Jack in the Box from Grandma Leigh.  Such an awesome toy that I never would have thought to get him!

Our attempt at a family selfie.

And onto the main event......

He was really interested in the cake until we finally let him go at it.................... and then it was like he really looked at me, "Are you sure about this Mom????"

He played with it a little but never really dug into it.  I think he was scared of the red frosting hair.  Jason even bit into the cake trying to show Brad how it was done.... still Brad didn't go for it.  He got a little red frosty on his face.  (I was relieved he didn't get the black frosting all over!  It dyed my hands and I was imaging my baby with black dye spots all over him at church on Sunday. :)

The night ended with a haircut (that accidentally got super short but sure looks super cute) and a bath.

We sure love this little boy.