Friday, March 23, 2012

Basketball and Prayer

A group of grown men is huddled in the middle of the court. They are black, white, Hispanic, short, tall, strong, skinny, religious, non-religious, single, married. That doesn't matter. They stand together to pray. Someone offers a quick but sincere prayer for their friend. Some of the men cry. 

Two days ago, Jon was playing basketball at our gym. He plays with the same group of men, three times a week every morning. As usual, the game was heated, fouls were abundant. One player fouled another player, "Q", going for the lay-up and for some reason, though there was plenty of time and space, Q never put his hands up to prevent himself from running into the padded wall behind the hoop. Jon was sitting right there, stretching, getting ready to play. Q hit the wall at full force, bent over, with the top of his head and neck taking the full impact. He collapsed and in a moment, began to seizure in Jon's lap.  Jon got someone to call 911 and tried to help Q as much as he could. 

The paramedics arrived quickly, got the situation under control and began testing his limbs.

 Q couldn't feel anything beneath his neck. 

The man who did the initial fouling was against the wall, crying. Q was his close friend. He called Q's wife to tell her what had happened and offered to watch their two children while she headed to the hospital.  

As Q left in the ambulance, the men huddled together. These are men who, from Jon's descriptions, spew profanities from their mouths, yell and scream at each other, and occasionally play dirty basketball. Yet, they gathered together in the middle of the court to pray, standing shoulder to shoulder with arms interlocked. 

It seems, that no matter what your background or lifestyle, no matter what level of religiosity you claim, there are times when you cannot deny our need for our Heavenly Father. No matter what circumstances we are in, when we need Him, He is there, accessible. And it amazed me that a knowledge of our Heavenly Father could bring these very different men together on a basketball court to pray for comfort and for their friend Q's well-being. 

Unfortunately, Q is not doing well. In the past two days, he has been on the verge of coma several times. He currently needs a ventilator and breathing tube to breathe. He has regained some feeling in his arms but nothing anywhere else. He will undergo surgery today that will hopefully help him breathe more on his own, but the situation is very critical. 

Jon went to ball today and these men started their morning game huddled together again in prayer for Q. It is such a heartbreaking, yet powerful image, to see how man can so easily be humbled and how much we all need and rely on our Father. 

While this is a terrible tragedy and we will continue to pray and fast for Q's recovery, I am grateful for the reminder that I know where I come from. That I know my Divine heritage. That we have a loving, compassionate Father in Heaven who loves us and whose heart breaks with us as we are humbled. And that we can have access to His comfort and love through such a simple thing as prayer. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Episode Four: I Hate Airports

After six weeks of living in Arizona, Jon's company sent him (and us) to New York for a leadership and technology training session they call BIM University. The problem: the training session was two months long.

They very kindly allowed Addie and I to join Jon out East and they generously put us up in a Hilton hotel suite/apartment for the two month duration. It was a serious cross-country move. How do you pack lightly (so you can take everything with you on the plane with minimal costs) for two months when you have a two month old baby? She would change so much and need so many things that I couldn't even anticipate...Needless to say, it was extremely stressful since I would unpack one box from our recent Arizona move only to pack it up in the New York-destined suitcases.

We arrived at the Phoenix airport on Friday, August 19th loaded with two over-stuffed suitcases, a giant Home Depot moving box filled with a baby swing (it was the only way Addie would sleep at the time), an over-sized duffel bag stuffed with the pack-n-play, a stroller, a carseat and base, two crammed backpacks, a laptop bag, and a diaper bag. I felt like we had baggage coming out of my ears.


Needless to say, we were a mess and we were late. Really late. We frantically searched for a cart machine that could help us tote our massive load inside and the only one we could find was broken. I ran inside with baby in stroller to find some help and by the time all of our stuff was loaded into the ticket line, the automated screen was telling me that I could no longer check my baggage.

Tears instantly filled my eyes. After the stress of just getting to the airport, this was more than my strained emotions could handle.  We lugged our heap of luggage to the front desk to speak with someone other than the computer and they confirmed the worst details...we would not be allowed to board our 4:45 flight because we missed the baggage check-in window by 7 mins...7 FREAKING minutes. The 7 minutes we spent trying to locate a working cart machine. 

They wouldn't allow any exceptions...They offered to put us on the next flight the next morning. We were supposed to be in the Salt Lake temple at that time for one of our best friend's weddings. That would not work. We were put on stand-by for the 8:45 flight and told to sit tight.


So we sat tight with our baby for over 4 hours. During this lovely waiting period, I was told multiple times that my baby was hungry by random strangers. What is it with other people telling me that my slightly fussing baby is hungry? They must have missed me nursing my baby in the middle of the airport just ten minutes ago where Addie flung open the nursing cover several times.

 Finally, we found out that we could board the 8:45 flight. Hallelujah!

What started as an absolutely awful night ended so well. Addie was a miracle baby on her first flight...so perfect. We got to stop in Utah for two nights to see our families and friends, catch up, and be there for Nate and Meg's beautiful wedding! It was such a perfect trip!



Then, we were off officially to New York. This flight went without a hitch and again, another perfect flight with Addie.  We finally touched down in New Jersey on a wet, rainy day and headed to the Hilton.

The updates:
Episode Three: Motherhood
Episode Two: Home Away From Home
Episode One: The Blessing

Episode Three: Motherhood

I can't even begin to describe the feelings that I have had since becoming a mother, but these were some of my thoughts from the first months of motherhood. 

I never knew how truly difficult it was going to be. 

They tell you that you will be tired, but I have never experienced such complete exhaustion. An exhaustion that was the culmination of a 52 hour labor process; a two-night stay in the hospital with a hungry newborn who struggled to breastfeed; the newborn who can't sleep longer than an hour because she is so tiny and her tummy is so tiny that she is eternally hungry; a newborn who doesn't understand that the sun means being awake and the dark means sleeping; a newborn who is so DANG cute that instead of sleeping you stay awake to watch her sleep; an eternal list of to-do's that began the day she was born and never seems to get smaller; and the constant thinking about her was entirely draining...

They tell you that breastfeeding can sometimes be difficult but it is "natural."

But I never knew that for something so "natural" it is anything but easy. There were so many nights full of hopeless tears and mascara-stained pillows because of this "natural" process.  I can remember grasping for that month-old mark, holding to the reassurances that we would be "pros and this whole thing will be so much easier." And I remember turning to Jon on that month mark, still worrying about whether she was latching, whether she was getting enough, whether she was getting too much, whether it had been long enough between feedings, whether I should switch sides, whether she was choking, whether this and whether that...

Everything...EVERYTHING...was SO much harder than I had ever imagined. 

Yet it was, is, also so much sweeter than I had ever dreamed.



I feared that I wouldn't connect with this little girl, that I would revolt at this new way of life that revolved around her. But I love her so much. It is true that she has redefined me as a person, but I love the new me. I love her crazy. I love that she is a little piece of me and Jon and that she is a sort of representation of our love and dedication to each other as husband and wife. I love knowing that I get to spend every day with her to watch her grow and learn and make mistakes. I love her little personality that is already exhibiting itself and I love how much I can tell she loves me. 


When Adalyne was just three weeks old, I was holding her snuggled up against me, staring into those serious, unwavering eyes, feeling such an overwhelming love for her when she slowly smiled. It was such a deliberate smile, never breaking eye contact, her entire face lit up by this gentle giant smile that I had never seen before and I felt so strongly that she knew who I was and that she could feel all the love I felt for her. My eyes pricked with tears.  It was one of the most special moments of being a mother I have had...that smile was meant for me, her mother. It was such a tender mercy and the feeling of love that enveloped that moment will never be forgotten. 

So while it is SO much harder than I have ever imagined, it is so  worth  it.


Updates:



Friday, March 16, 2012

Don't Miss Your Life

I have been feeling a little weighed down lately by my 
to-do list

Sometimes I hate those two little hyphenated words. 


It is funny how things, even simple things like "do the dishes so your house doesn't smell" or "vacuum your floor so your child doesn't eat something awful like a bug", can build up into such an insurmountable mountain of stuff. 

How do I have so much stuff  to do?

I am a stay-at-home mom, and while my to-do's have changed, I feel like my to-do list is just as large as when I was teaching full-time, working a side job on the weekends, 8 months pregnant with two moves pending in our future. 

And peeking its head around this list comes the guilty thought, "I am not spending enough time with my daughter." 




But how can I spend hours of time playing with my daughter and still keep a clean home, and prepare my Relief Society lesson, and go shopping, and change and feed my baby, and do the never-ending laundry, and sweep the floor, and manage the budget, and cook dinner, and run all the errands that need to be run, and still have time to me...even just to shower?

Oh, man. Like I said, I've been feeling a little weighed down. I know it's all about balance, because frankly, while it is wonderful to play with my daughter, I do need to make dinner and I do need clean clothes tomorrow and let's face it, I NEED to shower. 

Then last night, as I was driving home from a soccer game (which always helps in itself) blaring my music, the country song, "Don't Miss Your Life" by Phil Vassar came on (cheesy, I know). It kinda summed up my feelings...I don't want to miss my life or Addie's life because of all the stuff in the way. I just haven't learned how to balance just yet, or I haven't figured out how to feel okay with my current balance. Will I always feel like I never spend enough time with my children? Any suggestions?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Ostrich Festival

I don't know about you, but when I think of ostriches, I first think of how incredibly ugly they are (have you seen their feet close up? ... creepy) and then I think of riding ostriches and "The Swiss Family Robinson". Anyone even remember this movie? In our home, it was one of those movies you watched more than a hundred times. Apparently so did Jon, because he has always wanted to ride an ostrich.

On Saturday, one of Jon's dreams almost came true...we got to see a live ostrich race. 

Yep, they exist. And it is a big to-do out here in Chandler. Go figure. 

We pretty much couldn't stop laughing the entire time. 

The place was PACKED and the only area that wasn't lined with people was the entrance, so forgive the poor quality and enjoy the videos. 


video

video
Waiting for the races to start and eating daddy's hat
 


Creepy ostriches waiting their turn to race
The ostriches wore socks over their heads until the race actually began to keep them calm. It was pretty funny to see their blind heads poke over the fences over and over again, trying to figure out what was going on. 
  

The festival was also HUGE in other ways...they had a million activities and shows, including a petting zoo where we spent most of our time (AWESOME), a ginormous carnival with awesome rides that we'll ride again someday when we don't have a baby, and even a huge kiddie-land carnival. This thing literally covered miles of land. It. Was. Awesome. And it will be an annual tradition for our family from here on out!






As you can see, this ram barely missed Jon's jugular, but it did get a hold of his shirt!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mix By Hand

Dear Duncan Hines Cake Mixes:

I have found that some of the directions on your cake boxes are somewhat ambiguous. When you mean "mix by hand", does it involve directly placing your hands into the cake mix, or does it refer to using a stirring utensil in your hand to mix the ingredients?



I initially thought the former. I feel I was wrong. 

The mistake caused a lack of bladder control. 


And dyed my hands and fingernails a bright red. And provided fodder for hours upon hours of mockery.


Perhaps you could clarify for those who, like me, take things all too literally.

Sincerely,
Alyssa Randall

Saturday, March 10, 2012

To Die For

When I was in the 9th grade, I had the most incredible choir teacher. Really, the best choir director I've had in my entire life. She completely changed the way I view music, the way I listen and react to music, and the way I sing music.

She was tough on us and expected perfection. And when we had performed a song just perfectly, so that all the notes were just ringing because of the perfect harmony (which was rare), she would say, "That was to DIE for." We lived for that praise.

Our teacher's licence plate!
Last night, Jon and I saw "Wicked" on tour. I've seen it before in LA, but it had been a while. It was TO DIE FOR. I cried way too many times. Not because it was super sad, although there are sad parts, but because the actresses had incredible voices, Elphaba and Galinda alike. I seriously had goosebumps on my entire body, even my cheekbones (what the heck), for the entire show. It is rare that music (other than church music) can move me to tears, but these women were TAL-EN-TED!!! My word, I can't say enough for how wonderful the music was. I kept saying to Jon, "How do they do that? How do they sing like that?" I sat on the edge of my seat all night and I'm pretty sure my mouth was in an open O all night due to complete and utter awe.

Not to mention it was hilarious. Galinda in this show was TO DIE FOR. I cried from laughing so hard.

Waiting for the show to start...sorry for the poor quality of mobile pictures


The opening set...again, sorry for the poor quality. 


Top it off with Oregano's "Alfedro the Dark", a happy baby who was content playing with her awesome aunt and uncle, and a long, as in five hours long, date alone with my wonderful, sweet husband and it was one of the best nights ever.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Goofball

At 8 months, Adalyne is such a goofball and has lately really loved to play around with us. She loves when we sneak animals up her arms, she loves when we crawl around with her and pretend to chase her, she likes it when we tickle her, she loves patty-cake and she loves to dance with us. She is just too cute. Rather than a long post, I thought I'd just post some pics and videos of her from this last month. (Sidenote: Ignore the special mommy and daddy voices in the background of the videos!)

BATH TIME




Warning: A cute baby bottom may be shown many times... 
video

PLAY TIME

video


(There are about 4 more videos I am dying to post, but for some reason, my computer won't accept the format...even though they are the same as the other videos. I even converted them to from their current movie files to MP4 files and it still didn't work...if any of you have suggestions, let me know!!)

SCOOTER TIME
(Thanks Aunt Elyse!)


Love you goofy girl!