Find-A-Friend Friday: Meet Stacy

Today I get to introduce you to Stacy.  I’ve seen her hopping around on my blog now for quite some time; I think it might even be years (am I right, Stacy?).  Except for my husband and a handful of dear friends, there aren’t many people willing to put up with me that long, so I love her for it.  It sounds silly to start out every one of these posts by trying to convince you how amazing/remarkable/extraordinary all these women are, but dagnabbit (where oh where did I learn that word?  Looney Toons?), they just are.  I’m so impressed with the caliber of women who come knocking on my blog’s door.  I mean, seriously, could you all stop being so awesome because it’s a little intimidating?  Case in point, meet Stacy:

My name is Stacy, I’ve been married to Tom for 11 years, and we have four kids- Abby, 9; Ashlynn who will be 8 in a few weeks and is thrilled to be getting baptized, Max who is 2 ½, and Ian, 6 months.  We live in a small-ish town outside of Salt Lake City, UT.  My husband has about four different job titles and descriptions, so we can just say that he’s an accountant and also in charge of deploying a huge software project, and I “stay home” with the kids.  (And we all know what a joke the staying home part is, right?)

I was born in Idaho, but moved to Utah when I was five and have been here ever since.  I have always been very involved in music, leaning to read music almost as soon as I was reading words.  I started playing the violin when I was 12, and majored in Violin Performance at the University of Utah.  I have since trained as a Suzuki violin teacher, and have a violin studio of 17 students- three 4-year olds, two adults, and just about everything in between. My oldest daughter also studies violin, my middle daughter plays piano, and negotiating lessons, practicing and performances with both of them takes up a big chunk of our time and energy.  There are many mornings where my seven-year-old is playing piano downstairs, my nine-year-old is practicing violin upstairs, and I’m on the middle floor, calling out practicing suggestions to both of them.

My husband and I were a singles’ ward cliché- we were engaged a week after our first date, and married four months later.  Our girls came to us fairly quickly, and because of their births, I developed a passion for birth and the more “crunchy” side of things.  It took a lot of fertility treatments and a late miscarriage to conceive our son, and during that long break, I trained as a doula and started attending births and assisting women in labor. It quickly developed into something I loved and am very passionate about.  Unfortunately, having four young kids isn’t exactly conducive to the “on-call” lifestyle that being a doula requires, and I’ve had to hang up my doula hat for a while.   I’m pretty big into a lot of the “natural parenting” ideals- we love breastfeeding, homebirthing, and we recently made the decision to pull our girls out of school next year and start a homeschooling journey.  I imagine this will contribute to a lot of fun, chaos, and interesting stories for the blog next year.  That is, if I can find time to sit down and write about them!

What’s your favorite part of motherhood?

I love watching my children turn into people– seeing them develop their own personalities along with their likes and dislikes.  It’s fascinating for me to remember them as tiny babies and then look to see the people that they have become. I love seeing my girls being friends, and loving and serving people around them without being told to.  One of my favorite things is when we get to have spontaneous gospel discussions because of questions one of the girls has asked– just last night in the middle of a very crazy dinner, my daughter asked a question about when Jesus created the earth, and right there in the middle of fish sticks we had the opportunity to strengthen everyone’s testimonies! I love cuddling with the kids, baby smiles and giggles, falling asleep next to one of my little boys, and lifting a freshly washed baby out of the bathtub.

What part of motherhood would you subcontract out if you could?

The hours between 5-7pm where everyone in my house goes crazy at the same time.  I don’t mind the cooking, nursing the baby, getting everyone ready for dinner and negotiating homework, but I can’t handle doing them all at the same time.  And I really struggle with being patient when my daughters decide to sing every silly song they’ve learned in school at the top of their lungs while they’re supposed to be unloading the dishwasher.

Oh, and laundry.  All of it, from beginning to end.

Name 2 or 3 items on your “bucket list.”  (Some things you’d like to do before you die.)

I would love to travel anywhere and everywhere- there are so many places all over the world that I would love to see and experience with my family.  I would love to serve at least one mission with my husband.  I want someday to be able to go back to doula work, and possibly go back to school and get a nursing degree.  And if we’re talking about really crazy dreams that you’ve never told anyone, I also would really love to be a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir someday.

Brag for a minute.  Do it.  What are a few things that you’re pretty good at?

I’m really good at organizing, planning and carrying out events.  I recently planned a concert tour for a group of 40 violinists ages 8-14 and it went off without a hitch.  I’m a diligent, caring violin teacher, and I probably invest too much time and energy in my students.  I’m a good friend, and will do just about anything for people that I love.  I’m a passionate researcher and if something strikes me, I can research and read about it for hours on end.  I can also pull together a musical number for church that will probably make you cry in ten minutes flat.  (And I have to draw on this skill quite regularly!)

What are you loving lately?

I have two sets of kids- the older girls and the younger boys.  There’s a large space between the two sets, and I’m finding that I’m a much better, more relaxed parent this time around.  My boys make me laugh every day and have taught me not to take myself so seriously. I’m working hard to treasure every moment and every stage, because I realize that no matter how nasty the phase, it will pass soon enough.  (Even teething!)  I’m also loving the huge bunch of tulips that are finally blooming in my backyard, my son’s crazy head of blond curls, the promise of summer vacation, and an upcoming (free!) trip to Hawaii!

What do you gravitate toward during your unscheduled time?

Unscheduled time?  Really?  There is such a thing?  When I don’t have little kids climbing all over me, (and sometimes when I do,) I spend way too much time on the computer, reading blogs, researching my current obsessions, and doing nothing on Facebook.  I also love a good novel, being outside, and spending time talking my face off with friends while the kids run wild.

What’s something you don’t usually want people to know about you, but that they need to know if they’re going to be your friend?

I’m not always easy to get to know.  I’ll be friendly, and I’ll show you what’s on the surface, but it takes me some time to drop the sarcasm and really tell you what I’m thinking and feeling about things.  I work hard to make it look like I have it all together, but more often than not, I feel like things are about to fall apart!  I also have a really hard time picking up the phone and initiating conversations or activities, but crave time with my friends!

 Friends are great for venting.  What’s been frustrating you lately?

We moved into a tiny townhome almost three years ago, thinking it was a one, or at most, two-year solution.  Nearly three years and two more kids later, we have four kids in a two bedroom house.  We have been trying to rent our place and move into a new house with actual breathing room, but keep running into obstacles, dead ends, and frustrations.  We know that Heavenly Father has a plan for us and that we just need to wait for the pieces to fall into place, but being patient is hard when I’m tripping over my two-year-old in the kitchen for the 15th time that day!

 What parts of your testimony are you the most sure of?

I know that we have a Savior that loves us unconditionally, and that we are so blessed to be able to repent when we make a mistake or fall short of our ideals.  I know that God is able to make so much more of our lives than we can, and though it may be frustrating, when we live righteously, He will use our situations, trials and frustrations to build a better life for us than we thought possible.  I know that Heavenly Father is aware of all of our dreams and hopes, and wants us to be happy.  I know that through doing all the small and simple things– scripture reading, prayer, FHE, etc, that we can be happy, no matter what chaos surrounds us.

Desert Island Question.  If you were stranded on a desert island (most moms would actually crave this) and could only take 3 items with you, what would they be?

My bed, because it’s the most comfortable bed ever made, and I have never slept well on a different bed.

My iPhone, with internet connectivity of course, so that I could still be connected to the world if I so chose.

Diet Coke with lime.  Don’t judge.

What homemaking job/task gives you the most satisfaction?

I love baking and cooking.  There’s something special for me in putting together a knock out meal and seeing everyone’s satisfaction at good food. I love hearing my kids talk about all their favorite foods that mom makes that they want for their birthday dinners. Now if I could just get someone else to go grocery shopping for me…

What’s something unexpected in your life, and how have you dealt with it?

My first son and third child was born with craniosynostosis, a rare skull defect and several other medical issues.  He has since had two major surgeries, a few minor surgeries, several hospitalizations, and still routinely ends up in the ER from what should be minor ailments.  We’ve learned to treasure good health, good specialists, and stretches of time without hospitalizations.  We’ve also learned to laugh at the absurdity of collecting business cards from seemingly every pediatric specialist possible, and consider it a compliment when the ER doctor asks you what your medical background is.  I still get teary-eyed when I think of all he’s gone through at such a young and tender age, but I also know that those trials will help shape him into the man that he needs to become.

Tell us about your blog.

My blog has gone through several different titles, but the current one is “Music, Mayhem, Motherhood,” and that about sums it up.  I started blogging just after my son Max was born, because while I would have given up a non-vital body part to read about someone else going though the same thing we were, there just wasn’t a lot out there.  Since then, my blog has evolved into a chronicle of the craziness that is my life– music lessons, medical crises, and the general chaos that is raising four children and trying to maintain some semblance of sanity!

Thank you, Stacy.  It’s so fun to get to know you better.  If you’ve enjoyed meeting Stacy, say hello here or drop by her blog to share things you have in common.  Don’t worry; we haven’t run out of friends yet. More next week.

Faith in times of finance.

Does anyone else start to lose their mind when finances become precarious?

We have been bit hit with some unexpected, huge expenses that have extended beyond the limits of our savings account, and I have become paranoid. I’ve always tried to be a careful spender, but now I’m so tight-fisted, it hurts.

I was running errands yesterday and my mind was doing a number on me. I worried how this is all going to fix itself. On Monday night, I watched an old BYU devotional by Elder Holland that I had recorded: “Remember Lot’s Wife.” (It’s great, by the way.) Among many other really cool things, he said,

“… When we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future ‐‐ faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives.  So a more theological way to talk about Lot’s wife is to say she did not have faith. She doubted the Lord’s ability to give her something better than she had.”

So, in my van, I thought to myself, Is it possible to have faith about this? To believe it will all work out just fine, even when the money is simply not there to back up that kind of faith? I believe in God, and I know He has carried me through many other difficult situations, so why not this one? This is new territory for me, and I’m hoping that it’s just a chance for God to prove himself to me again, in a new way.

Can somebody reassure me that faith can work in ways of the wallet?

“Table for one.”

When I was in college, I remember having a conversation with my roommates about how going to a restaurant and asking for a table for one was about as pathetic and mortifying as it gets.  I love restaurants.  Love them.  But I also love the company of friends and conversation, and I’ve always felt sorry for people who are dining alone.

But then.

I had children.

And a busy husband who left town for 5 days.

And said children were possessed by demons and became hollow shells of the obedient moral beings I had trained them to be.

As evidence, these are ALL things that happened in the 5 days Matt was out of town:

  • Grant and Clark shut Natalie in the dryer.
  • Grant sneaked food again (even after our mini-lesson at FHE about: if we catch anybody sneaking food out of the food storage again, you’ll have to eat giant bowls of vegetables for dinner).
  • Grant waited for mom to leave the room during dinner and dumped the vegetables down the drain.
  • Clark somehow managed to make his bedroom look like a tornado actually touched down right near his bed.  I told him he had to clean it all up.  He didn’t.
  • Long after bedtime, he still didn’t, so I told him I’d wake him up early so he could pick up his room before school.
  • I called Matt that night and told him I had to get up at 6 a.m. the next morning to make Clark clean his room and make Grant a bowl of vegetables for breakfast.
  • I did get up.  I woke up Clark.  He still did not clean his room.
  • I told him no breakfast until his room was picked up.
  • I gave up and took Clark to school at 10 a.m (90 minutes late)., admitting strategic defeat.
  • I forgot to mention that somehow during that early morning battle, he managed to make a 2-inch hole in his bedroom wall.  Somehow a piece of the vacuum cleaner attachment flew off while he was using it to play baseball with his Webkinz.  Don’t worry, it didn’t make any sense to me either.
  • I lost my temper and even spanked him once.  He was mildly amused.
  • I took all three children with me to visit a man who used to be my boss and mentor at BYU.  (We had made a date on the calendar several weeks ago.) He is a wonderful man whom I admire very much.  On the way to his house, I rehearsed with my children all of the “do” and “do not” rules they needed to remember at his home.  I was there about 5 minutes when I knew that, despite their polite smiles and nods in the van, they had totally disregarded that entire conversation.
  • Since we couldn’t really talk (my mentor, his wife, and I), they invited the children to go downstairs and play with some toys that they kept for their grandchildren.  That almost worked, except for the five or so times I had to excuse myself, go downstairs and ask them to please stop yelling, throwing toys, and acting like animals.  Please.
  • Finally I sent them outside, and we were able to talk for a few minutes before we heard a loud bang.  I closed my eyes and breathed deep before I excused myself and went outside.
  • Grant had decided to lift up the window-well iron grate covering, and oops, it crashed down into the window well and up against the basement window.  But for the grace of guardian angels, the window did not break.  With clenched teeth, I sent them all to the van.
  • I helped my friend fix the window well cover, muttered my most polite apologies and farewells, got into my van, and tried to make fire come out of my eyeballs when I looked at my children.  (That man used to like me, respect me even.  He served on the general Sunday School board for a while and had even recommended my name as a possible board member once.  At this point, I’m not sure if he’ll ever want to speak to me again. . . . at least not in his house or without the presence of a social worker.)
  • Try to imagine a maniacal woman delivering an dramatic heart-wrenching lecture that ought to bring any child to tears, repeated at least 4 times on the way home.
  • They should have wept for their great sorrow and remorse, but they just stared back at me in the rear-view mirror obviously worried only for my mental health.
  • The rest of the afternoon was known as “jail.”  No one could leave their room for the rest of the day.  I was done.
  • I called Matt and vented.  I told him how mortified I was about what had just happened at my friend’s house.  He talked to them on the phone and supposedly convinced them to live a life of respect and rectitude.
  • With all children now in their own rooms, I stood in the kitchen breathing deep breaths and trying to regroup.  I decided I probably had to feed them dinner, so I decided I would heat them up a frozen burrito, take it to their rooms, call it dinner, and be done with it.
  • I went downstairs to get burritos out of the freezer, and what did I find?  Grant.  Sitting up on the top shelf of my food storage, up by the ceiling sneaking food.  He froze like a trapped animal.  I stared into his eyes for what seemed like a full minute and then said calmly.  “Get down.  Go. to. your. room. NOW.”
  • I avoided them the rest of the night, took them their burritos, told them to get ready for bed, and then quoted to them from Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse:  “Today was a difficult day. Tomorrow will be better,” and then I made them promise that it would be.
  • The next day is honestly a blur.  I remember very little except that it was raining for about the 76th day in a row (I exaggerate when I’m a little worked up.) and that I showered way later in the day than I should have.  Oh, and since Matt was staying longer than he originally planned, I had to scramble and get a babysitter so I could go to a cousin’s bridal shower.  That took about a dozen phone calls. And in a story that is too long to explain, I somehow managed to steal my aunt’s wallet and put it in my purse without even knowing I had done it.  I only discovered it late in the evening, after she had returned to her home several hours away.  So embarrassing.
  • Sometime during that blur, Clark finally cleaned his room.  This required an ongoing battle on my part.
  • On Saturday, I played the role of jovial slave driver all morning long trying to get all three of them to do their chores.  They only accumulated a grand total of 11 time outs between them (Clark earned 8).  Then the afternoon was relatively pleasant, mostly because the sun finally came out.
  • There was more.  Trust me.  This is just the stuff I remember.

Matt called at about 3 p.m. to say he had just left St. George and would be home in about 4 hours.  I told him that when he got home, I was leaving.  He paused.  “Like leaving, leaving?  Are you going to abandon us?”  “No,” I said, “but I need some peace.”  Just before 7 p.m., I made dinner, set the table, and put all the food out just as Matt got home.  We all hugged and kissed at our great relief that dad had finally arrived.  I wished them a happy dinner, and I left.  I took my purse, my keys, and my Kindle.

“Table for one please.”

And, boy oh boy, did it feel right.

“Standing in holy places is all about being in good company, whether you are alone or with others.”  — Sharon G. Larsen

GCBC Week 8: “Guided by the Holy Spirit” by President Boyd K. Packer

Elder Packer’s talk was a talk about revelation, but what stood out the most to me about his message was the importance of letting our offenses go, of forgiving and moving on.  This week for General Conference Book Club, we’ll be studying his conference talk:

“Guided by the Holy Spirit” by President Boyd K. Packer

What about you? What stood out to you as you read?  What’s your take-away message from this talk?  Share your thoughts and conversation in the comment thread below.  If you’re new to GCBC, check out the club here.