Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Tale of Allison's Embroidery

While I was pregnant with Allison, I was teaching the CTR 4 class with a lovely lady named Sister Bone. She visit taught a Sister Houser and noticed she had a real talent for embroidery. Sister Bone had an "I am a Child of God" pattern for a piece of embroidery she'd been wanting to make use of and decided to commission Sister Houser to make one for Allison. Not knowing what our colors for our nursery would be, she chose some generic baby girl colors and added some toy patterns to decorate it with. She worked on it in her spare time, so it took her several months to complete. Sister Bone enjoyed seeing how it was coming along every time she'd make her monthly visit. She'd excitedly tell me about how beautiful the gift she'd be giving me was and that I'd be delighted when I saw it.

November came and Sister Bone presented us the gift with Sister Houser there to show off her handiwork. Sister Bone was right. It was stunning! I wanted to hold it and admire it but was afraid of Allison spitting up on it or Tyler ruining it. I couldn't believe the amount of time and effort that must have gone into it. Sister Bone suggested "now you just have to frame it and hang it up in her nursery." We had a fairly large frame in storage in our garage, so we figured it would fit nicely in that. 

Not wanting to leave the piece anywhere near my destructive children, I took it to the garage first thing after getting home to try and fit it into the frame, but it turned out to be a bit too big. So in deciding to keep it out of reach of little hands, I folded it back up in tissue paper and took it up to the room which would eventually become Allison's nursery. I placed it on the high shelf of the closet alongside some other nursery decorations from Allison's baby shower.

At this point Allison's crib was in our room and would remain so for 4 more months. I'd rather the baby be close when she's waking up multiple times through the night. We left her eventual room as a guest room with a queen bed, mostly for my mom to sleep in. She came up and stayed for about 6 weeks to help out with the kids following my C section. Since it wasn't a nursery yet, we decided to wait to decorate it until we could move the crib in there and move the queen bed out. During those months I meant to find a proper frame for the embroidery, but because there was no urgency, I let it slip from my mind.

Back in September my friend Sister Jensen had thrown a baby shower for me and asked what my nursery colors would be. Not intending to even have a nursery for at least 6 more months, I had absolutely no idea. All I told her was "Oscar hates pastels, and Tyler's is already made up of bright colors, so I'm not sure." To my delight she came up with this ladybug theme for the shower, and we liked it so much we decided to make that her room theme. She let me keep the decorations she'd made, and Sister Parr had gifted me these beautiful blocks spelling out Allison's name. As I placed the embroidery next to the other decorations, I had the brief thought that the pink and purple clashed with the ladybug theme, but I didn't worry too much about it. It was a lovely piece that had clearly been created from labor and love. I fully intended to display it with the others even if it did clash a bit.

Before my mom left in mid November, she bought several Christmas presents for us. She bought a bunch of tissue paper, way more than she used, and wrapped them all up. After she left we didn't clean the room up until after Christmas so we'd have a wrapping station available to wrap our other gifts. We generally kept the door locked since there was still a bunch of wrapping paper, scissors and such left out in the open. When I finally did clean up the room near the beginning of January, I cleared out a TON of tissue paper. It was all over the room. One of our cats must have somehow gotten into it all and made a mess of it while I was walking in to grab an outfit for Allison out of her closest. It was endless!

3 months later Allison started sleeping fairly well and no longer needed to nurse at night, so we moved the bed out of the spare room and brought her crib in. I pulled the decorations out from the closet and panicked a bit when I didn't see her embroidery. I searched for it everywhere! I scoured my garage trying to find it even though I clearly remembered taking it up to the room. There was not a square inch of this house I left unturned in my attempt to find it. I looked for it for nearly a week, praying everyday "God, please help me find this cloth. It was such a thoughtful gift from Sister Bone, and Sister Houser worked so hard on it. Please, please help me to find it. I'd hate for all their efforts to have gone to waste." My prayers went unanswered. I began to feel a lot of anxiety over it. I felt incredibly guilty over losing it and not immediately caring for it the way I should have. My stomach would tie up in knots whenever I'd think about it or try to look for it again. I realized that had to end, even if it meant finally accepting that I'd just somehow lost it and moving on. I prayed "God, please help ease my mind about this whole incident. Please help me figure out what's happened to this cloth?"

Immediately a memory came to my mind before I'd even finished my prayer. While cleaning the spare room after Christmas, I'd opened the closet to get some trash that had gotten under the door. I looked up and saw tissue paper on the upper shelf. "What? More tissue paper!" I thought. "That's an entire unused ream of it up there. Why did it even get opened?" Since we don't use it in our own wrapping and since I didn't want to hang onto it for another year on the chance that mom would come back for Christmas, I grabbed it and tossed it in the recycling pile. I felt bad throwing away a whole ream, but not too bad since they're $1 at the dollar store.

After the memory surfaced I cried out "No! No! No!!!" I hadn't just lost it. I'd thrown it out. I'd mistaken it for garbage. I felt awful. I wanted to burst into tears and sob, but I could hear Allison waking up in the baby monitor and knew I had to get myself collected and go about my motherly duties. I did my best to keep it together but all throughout the day I felt sad, guilty, and stupid. How could I have done something so careless? Why didn't I hang up that precious gift immediately? I also felt angry at God and betrayed by Him for not stopping me from doing it. Wasn't that a righteous cause worthy of his intervention? It could have been so easily prevented. So why didn't He stop me?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized He had prompted me. As I grabbed the embroidery, I'd had the thought "this is heavy for a ream of tissue paper" and I'd questioned why it had even been opened when there was so much of the other ream left. I'd also had the nagging feeling about wasting an entire unused ream. Those should have been enough to motivate me to examine it a bit more carefully, but I didn't. I ignored it. I got caught up in frustration and didn't listen to that gentle voice telling me there was something off about what I was doing. I hadn't recognized the embroidery for what it really was, and I hadn't recognized the promptings for what they really were.

That night while I prayed I repented for having been angry at the Lord and realized He had in fact answered my prayers. He couldn't help me find the embroidery when I prayed for it because it had already been taken far away and likely destroyed, but when I asked him to help ease my anxiety and help me find out what had happened to it, he did so instantly. He wanted to comfort me, and while it wasn't the happiest news to give me, it was the truth. Now I knew it was gone forever. Now I didn't have to stress about what had happened to it anymore. Now I could accept it and move on.

I continued to pray and asked "what should I do now?" I'd shared the story with several people and most of them had told me not to say anything to Sister Bone and Sister Houser and just to enjoy the pictures that'd been taken, but that didn't feel right. The answer came through very clearly  - ask Sister Houser if you can pay her to remake it for you. I hated the idea of admitting to her that I'd thrown out something she'd put so much time and effort into, but I knew I had to do it. She needed to know that I'd liked and appreciated her work enough that I was willing to pay for it to be done again. I found her in church on Sunday and related the sad tale to her. Thankfully she said she still had the pattern and would remake it for me, and as long as it was being redone, I asked if she wouldn't mind using red, black, and green thread to go along with her ladybug theme.

And today, after many more months of work, she presented the finished product to me. It's awesome! I loved it immediately even more than I had the other one. It's absolutely perfect! I asked her how much I owed her and she said "you know what. I'm not going to charge you for it. Just make sure it gets hung up this time." I was overwhelmed by her kindness. She'd dedicated hours to making this for me and Allison just to make us happy. It absolutely made my day. I'd had a pretty rough night last night with a heavy heart weighed down for a friend of mine, and this boosted my spirits back up. I couldn't wait to get it home and get it hung up.

We don't have a frame for it yet (I'd like to find a really cute one), but there was no way I was hiding it away this time. I've hung it up with push pins until I can find one (which I really should have done with the other one!), and I admire it each time I walk in the room. I'd just happened to dress Allison in this cute red and white dress from my mom's friend Pat, and I was wearing my black and white dress, so we blended in perfectly with it, and Allison gave an adorable smile for the picture. I couldn't be happier about how the whole situation turned out.

Had I not thrown out the first one, I would have simply had a lovely piece of embroidery in Allison's room. But because of everything that happened, I now have a greater testimony of prayer, of trust in the Lord, and a deeper understanding of how I can be more receptive to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. I know that God does answer prayers, even if it's not the answer I'm looking for, and that if it doesn't seem like He's responding, maybe I need to ponder out how I'm asking for it and what my expectations are. I'm more appreciative of the kindness I was shown by Sister Bone and Sister Houser, and I've learned to show more care towards the efforts others make for me. And mostly I'm grateful to God for showing me that when I turn things over in His hands and trust in His guidance, He will come through for me and help me out of the mess I put myself in. I find myself continually in awe at just how much joy he can replace for sorrow.

Monday, November 21, 2016

October 2016: Part I - Hanging at Home

In early October my toothless girl finally cut her first teeth and started climbing up the stairs. She'd been wanting to do it for awhile, but would always try sitting up after the first step and would inadvertently fall back down the step. I have to make sure to keep my carpets cleaner these days. That is in fact a piece of carpet she was trying to eat. It resembles the A shaped puffs she likes.

Allison took down an entire banana at Fred Meyer one morning! Kroger lets you get a free piece of fruit for your kids to snack on while you shop, but Allison was only willing to eat her food smoothly pureed for months. I'd tried giving it to her once previously in tiny, mashed up pieces, but she flat out refused to touch them, and I ended up giving the banana to Tyler. This time she started off only eating it in pieces, but after a few bites she went straight for it in the peel and ate every bite.

Cute girl in overalls!
We have a plastic grocery bag hanging from the changing table to collect the dirty diapers. Shortly after Allison finally started feeding herself, she pulled a small piece of plastic off the bag and tried to eat it.

Here's Tyler excited to try on his Thomas the train Halloween costume (a hand-me-down from my nephew). He also thought he'd pack himself up in my new carry on so he could come on the cruise with us.

Tyler likes the chow mein noodles I put in my Asian salad. He often asks for some "chow mein pretzels."
Cute guy falling asleep with daddy

At nighttime I sing Tyler the "La la lu" lullaby from the Disney movie "Lady and the Tramp." It goes "oh my little star sweeper I'll sweep the stardust for you." One night he corrected it to "oh my little twinkle twinkle little star sweeper I'll sweep the paper and yucky food for you."

Mom bought two of these tights for Allison, but she didn't wear tights during the warm months they would have fit her best, so I didn't even put them on her until early October. I decided to give the other pair to my friend Emma's baby since I didn't see Allison going through two pairs before she outgrew them. They just happened to wear them to church on the same day. Allison enjoyed sucking on Kaylee's crochet Yoda and playing with Ruby's frilly dress.

Bouncing around and playing with brother!
Climbing in the dishwasher...I just love watching these two smiling and giggling at each other through the cat hole. Allison loves peeking at people through the hole. Her sweet little laugh is so cute!
I do love how much he loves her. The only problem is he never wants to let her go.

Allison immediately found her favorite place after we returned from our big October trip (many more posts to come about that) - Tyler's room sans Tyler. They play in there together, too, but he has the tendency to take toys away from her. She gets extra excited when she has the room and all its toys to herself.

By the time we got back, Allison had lost her liking for milk, cow or human. She was forcefully weaned by our leaving on our trip for over a week, but in a way she also weaned herself. I tried to nurse her once the morning after we returned since she was clearly very thirsty and it was going to take some time and effort for us to get her some food. She bit me three times and even when she was nursing she seemed displeased and underwhelmed with it. Later at home I tried giving her thawed breastmilk in a sippy cup, but she hates it, and she doesn't care for cow milk either. She prefers water, but her favorite drink is grape juice. After having that she never wanted to drink anything else (so I rarely give it to her).

I registered for this cold weather baby animal outfit for Allison's baby shower, and someone purchased it for us (I don't know who since it arrived by mail and didn't say who'd bought it). I know I registered for a 0-6 month outfit, but it was enormous. It never fit her at any point during her first year, but now it fits her perfectly. I figured it could be her Halloween costume this year. The thing is that it definitely seems meant for a baby since it has footies and the hands turn over into mittens the way many other 0-6 month outfits do, but no child under 6 months that I've ever known would have been large enough to fit in this! It looked adorable on her, but she had a hard time moving around in it, which made her upset.
She couldn't get enough of this dangly tree. It was like a crib mobile to her.

 Cute clapping girl! 
We brought Allison's portable high chair to the ward Halloween/trunk or treat, which makes things so much easier since she's super wiggly these days. Trying to feed her on your lap is just awful. The chair had a bunch of cheerios that had gotten under the fabric, and they fell out into the trunk as we took the chair out of the car. When Allison and I went back to the car for the trunk or treat, I let her sit up next to me and play with some toys in the trunk while I handed out candy. She saw the cheerios and, naturally, tried to eat them. Unfortunately for her I'd folded over the mittens on her hands since it was so cold out, which meant she couldn't grab the cheerios, and she started crying over it. It was heartbreakingly hilarious! I folded up one mitten since I felt bad taunting her with the delicious cheerios she couldn't reach. I also gave her a bit of Kit Kat and Reese's, which she thoroughly enjoyed.

 Loving on kitty on the changing table.
This is what Allie does while daddy's reading to Tyler before bedtime.

Tyler bit his apple this way and told me he'd made a scary apple. He also loves walking around in daddy's shoes.
 Halloween at Oscar's work with a sleepy girl.
She looked very snug and cozy once I got her home

And she woke up happy and ready to play.

We had to go to a lot of doors and walk a fair distance (for Tyler) for trick or that night. Even by only ringing the bells of houses with Halloween decorations and/or porch and home lights on bright, we still had a lot of people who weren't home or didn't have candy. However, the ones who did were thrilled to see Tyler, and he was absolutely adorable. He came away with a huge haul too since most people wanted to give him 3-5 pieces. That's at least the benefit of trick or treating in an area that doesn't get a lot of trick-or-treaters. In places like the mall where they get a huge crowd, the lines are long and slow and they only give you one tiny piece of candy per store.