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This. This right here. This is why.

Ever notice how, when it comes to delaying bedtime, a determined kid can out-match an exhausted parent (or two) quite easily? No? Not at your house? Well, maybe its only Jacob, then.


Tuesday night he was at his endlessly-stalling-best during Family Bedtime Reading, specifically the part of the ritual after scripture reading, when Jacob picks out one of his books for us all to read. Frequently this results in Green Eggs and Ham, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut, or Horton Hears a Who. But tonight, instead of simply picking a book, he decided to run to his room and bring out an armful, lay them all out on the bed, and invite each of us to indicate our favourite, presumably to help him narrow it down to his final selection.


Exhausted as I was, I just wanted him to pick one already, so we could read it and be done with it. I said again and again, no, this was his book to pick, he could pick whichever he liked, and just pick one please!


I gotta break the narrative here for a second. If you know me, you know that I’ve been married before, and the other guy had, well, sometimes had a bit of a temper. This kind of situation right here, when we’re tired and short of patience and the little one is not very compliant? This is exactly the sort of thing that would set him off.


So subconsciously, I’m already tensing. I don’t even realize that I’m bracing myself, feeling more and more protective, and ready to jump in and intervene if Ryan, like that other guy, should snap and lose his temper. Only at this moment Ryan jumps in and announces, in a voice infused with child-like wonder and enthusiasm, “Jacob, your vote is like…4 votes!”


Even Jacob couldn’t argue with logic like that, and promptly selected the winner.


I picked a winner, too.


Happy Belated Birthday to Me

Wednesday was my birthday (I'm 23 or don't ask) and yesterday I got the BEST PRESENT EVER in the form of a new job. I've been unemployed since November and really too stressed out about the financial situation to want to discuss it here, or really, anywhere. I have a fantastically wonderful, caring church, and they took very good care of us while we had NO income (regular grocieries, paid our utilities and rent, etc, even gave us a lot of Christmas presents for the boys) but it's been beyond painful just the same.

A few weeks ago I had two interviews at a company downtown that I really liked. The work seemed good and challenging while still reasonably within my expertise, and the pay better than I've earned anywhere else, ever. It came down to me and one other person, and they hired the other person. Needless to say I was crushed, and I'd like to pretend I didn't invent fantasy situations in which they were disappointed with the other candidate, fired her, and then called me back for the job. That's not very charitable. And actually, I'd *really* like to pretend I didn't entertain those wishes, because that's just what happened yesterday. I'm starting on Wednesday.

*huge sigh of relief*

Being married to Ryan, btw, continues to rock.

Prelude to War



I’d read a lot about this song, “Prelude to War.” It was thrilling. It was legendary. It was, if you believed the reports, nothing less than a feat of modern musical genius. Everyone said so, so I downloaded it. The first time I listened to it, I was just like, “Meh. This is it? This is what everyone was raving about?” It just didn’t impress me. Yet somehow between that first listen and repeated plays it worked a combination lock in my head. Randomly flipping through songs a few months back I came across this one and didn’t even recognize it. Somehow I’d gone from, “This is ok,” to “Yeah, I guess I like this,” to “Oh, wow.” Today, it’s absolutely blowing my brain apart.


What’s funny is that there’s not much to it. It's not a complicated song. Basically it’s 8.5 minutes long and made up of essentially the same 30-second theme in many different variations. You have the theme low-key, the theme hyped up, the theme’s chord progression hovering idle, or the theme with just percussion. But you rarely ever actually get away from the theme. Sounds boring and predictable. It’s not. It hooks me within the first minute, and then the next thing I know I’m completely possessed, my body a conduit of musical expression. My teeth resonate with the drums, my circulatory system rushes with its rhythms, even my heartbeats are keeping time. It's coming out of my eyeballs, my pores. Freaking amazing.

Anyway, if you like film score music, you might like this. Give it a few listens before making up your mind.

Happy Birthday, Ryan. :)


LDS sisters

Last week I had my bridal shower at Rebecca’s house. It was supposed to go from 7-9. I didn’t want to stay too much longer than that because I still had some things to do at home that evening before I could go to bed. And a lot of people left around 8:30 when we had pretty much wrapped everything up, so I thought my odds were good of getting home at a decent time. But then the trickle of people leaving slowed, and eventually, stopped completely. There were probably five or six ladies left at the party, and no one was leaving. So here I was feeling a little bit stuck, as the hour ticked over 9, 9:10, 9:20. We sat chatting in a circle in the living room, and no one made any moves towards the door whatsoever. I finally realised, as determined as I had been to not leave until all the guests had gone home, these guests in particular were every bit as determined to outlast *me*. Then something else occurred to me – they were all LDS women from my ward. And it suddenly made sense. They wanted to stay and help Rebecca “clean up” after the party, but didn’t want to start on that until I had left, so I wouldn’t feel obligated to pitch in myself. Duh.


I tell this story because, to me, it perfectly illustrates the character of the Mormon women in my ward, who are kind of amazing.


Take Rebecca, who not only opened her home to me while I was taking the discussions last year, but since then has pretty much assumed I belong to her. :) She’s done about as much planning and work on this wedding as I have, I believe. She’s made phone calls arranging for sisters to bring food, help set up for the reception, and help clean up afterward. She loaned me everything she had on hand leftover from her daughter’s wedding. She helped me plan out almost every single detail for the reception. She is letting Ryan’s sister and brother-in-law stay at her house this weekend since we don’t have room at my house. She and her husband are hosting the brunch after the ceremony for our families. I often find myself referring to her as my “Mormon Mom” and then I realise – she’s not related to me. She doesn’t have any obligation to do all this for me. But she does it anyway, and so graciously you’d think I was doing *her* the favour.


Another example, which is only on my mind because it happened so recently:


I was feeling in kind of a bind last week because I didn’t have anyone lined up to watch Jenna during the wedding ceremony at the temple. Jenna is Kerry (Ryan’s sister) and Braden’s baby daughter, and they are going to be with us in the temple during the ceremony. So we needed to have someone there in the temple waiting room willing to take care of her while we had the ceremony. That’s not as easy as it might sound – I went through a few lists in my head, and came up with nothing. My family was out – Nana was going to be taking care of the boys and bringing them to the temple, but later in the morning. We really needed someone to be there with Jenna the whole time. And the rest of my family wouldn’t go near the temple – I certainly couldn’t ask, for example, my grandma, who barely agreed to come to the non-temple reception later that evening. She, and the rest of my family, are pretty irritated by the whole concept of the temple wedding, which they can’t attend. That left someone from my ward, but that was a problem, too. I’d already invited five or six couples, that I felt the closest to, to attend the actual ceremony. So they were going to be in the temple with us too, not waiting outside with Jenna. And since it is during school hours, I couldn’t ask any of the young men or women from the ward, who are not eligible for temple recommends yet, to come watch her. Surely there were a lot of people left in my ward, but I was worried they fell into two camps: a) people I barely knew, and thus couldn’t ask for a favour like this, or b) people I was friendly with, who then might be offended that I was asking them to come to the ceremony but only for the purpose of watching Jenna outside, and not to attend the ceremony itself.


Last Sunday before church I prayed about this problem, asking God to impress on me the right person to ask. Then I promptly forgot all about it. Which was actually a good thing, because as we were leaving church Jacob’s primary teacher, a really nice sister who recently moved into our ward and I don’t know very well yet, asked if she could come to the temple to watch Jacob during the ceremony. I explained that Nana was going to take care of Jacob and he’d be coming late anyway, but would she mind coming to watch Jenna? Absolutely she’d do it. And what a perfect solution God had for me. No way would this sister be offended that I hadn’t invited her to the ceremony – I don’t know her that well at all. But she’s lovely and good with the little ones and not only that, she offered her services herself, without any prompting from me.


Sometimes I feel so absolutely blown away by the sweet generosity of spirit of these LDS women, who seem to be every minute thinking of others. When I was without a car earlier this year, they lined up to take turns giving me rides to and from work every day. For weeks, they did this. And they are every bit as giving with other people as they are with me – I see it all the time. It’s a totally constant, totally spontaneous attitude of “What can I do for you?” and “I want to help” and “Here, let me.”


I don’t know if this kind of behaviour is pretty much just my ward, or if this is the worldwide Mormon standard. I mean, obviously it’s what the church teaches. But to see it so consistently lived out is, honestly, a bit jarring. Either way, I know I fall pretty short of the standard myself. I hope eventually I’ll be more like this – I really do. But so often I’m wrapped up in my own problems that I’m oblivious to the needs of others around me. So even though none of the people I’m talking about here read this blog, I will take this platform and this moment to say, thank you. I’m humbled, and inspired, by the way you live your life. I want to be more like you.

Thank you, Bishop Baird~!

Ryan got his temple recommend today so we can in fact get sealed in the temple. It was pretty dicey there for awhile, and right up until the moment the "ok" came out of the bishop's mouth this afternoon I was more than 50% certain we weren't going to get in.

I want to say "thanks" to the people (and you know who you are) who have written and called expressing concern over this temple situation. It was a slightly more complicated situation than I alluded to at first, and my bishop really wasn't at fault for the delay and uncertainty. But knowing that you were pulling for us helped me keep my calm.

Oh wow, I just realised I have to start signing my name a different way pretty soon here... ;-p

Wedding plans

So, there *is* a date, and it's Friday, October 3. Yay!

Ryan left Vermont and drove to Ohio where his folks live on Friday, and he's going to spend a few days out there hanging out with his relatives and stuff before he and his mom take on the really long drive to Portland. Made longer because, as I understand it, his mom has fibro myalgia and can't take super long hours in the car without breaks. Understandably. I'm just glad someone can make the drive with him, because that is waaay too far to drive by yourself. Hopefully they can be here by Saturday the 6th.

In the meantime, our plans to have a nice temple wedding have been knocked around something brutal. Ryan had six temple prep classes to take and was trying desperately to get them done in Vermont before he left, but was only able to take one of them. I don't want to place blame here, but it appeared to me that his teachers kind of flaked out and left him hanging there, so, grumble. Fortunately he kind of already sat in on one with me in July, and our teachers out here are willing to give him credit for it, but that still leaves four more classes he has to take once he gets here. And those have to be done *before* he can have his interviews with the bishop and the stake president (the latter of which is notoriously difficult to schedule time with), go get his endowments done, and then, maybe, get a temple recommend for the sealing. If that wasn't bad enough, my bishop has been traveling in Sweden practically all summer and has plans to leave for Japan in a few weeks. So, yes, it's still technically *possible* to get a temple wedding, but frankly it's looking like a bit of a long shot.

We tossed around the idea of delaying the wedding until we could get our recommends, but for a variety of reasons that I'm not going to go into here, that was just a really ugly idea. So we finally settled on October 3, period. If we can't do it in the temple, we'll just round up a justice of the peace or something and have done with it. And then do the temple sealing when we can. It's not my first choice for sure, but since when does anything work out perfectly? Hum.


I've been doing this temp project downtown since the beginning of the month, and now they are offering me a full-time position. I am really, really thrilled about this and more than a little relieved. 

So now to learn how to actually use public transportation...after all, I do live in Portland, for crying out loud. This is the city that got me ok with veganism and taking my own bags to the grocery store, so... It was only a matter of time.

(No, James, I'm still not a Democrat.)  :p

*happy dance*

The "more later" bit --

So this is the way it went down. Though my memory has been known to spring leaks, so I will need Ryan to clear things up if I get something wrong. :)~

I should explain, for the uninitiated, that Ryan is a master of the feint. More than once already he had taken advantage of a particularly romantic moment to say, "Vicki, I have a question for you," reach into his pocket and pull out...nothing, other than an "I got you" smile. Mmhmm. Wicked, I know.

On Friday, the plan was a dinner date and walk around my neighborhood. A few things about today had made me a little suspicious, but I would swing back and forth between thinking "OK, this is it" and being sure it was an elaborate ruse, because see above. For example, his sorta-twin Ty had been texting him all day, which might have been because Ty knew something important was about to happen, or Ryan might have been dropping hints because he just wanted me to think so. Also I had originally scheduled dinner to be kind of late-ish, because usually Ryan likes to eat late, but three times he suggested moving the time up. This seemed really unlike him, but would make sense if he was planning something and wanted to be able to catch eastern-time-zone friends and relatives before they went to bed to give them the news. Though again, with Ryan it was impossible to tell for sure if these were genuine clues or if I was simply falling for deliberately placed red herrings. 

Dinner was lovely (and fortuitous, actually, as we were seated in some weird service black hole and no one even came by to give us water for almost half an hour, and eventually I had to go up front and point this out, and the waitress apologised profusely in a manner suggesting this had happened many times before for that particular table, and offered us our meal on the house). Things continued in this pleasant-but-not-particularly-proposal-inducing thread during our evening walk, until we reached the Street Corner of Note.

The Noteworthiness dates back to March '07, while Ryan was visiting Chris and I for a few days. This visit dropped right in the middle of a turbulent time in my life, when I was starting to think I might actually have to divorce Chris, and really struggling to know what the right thing was to do, and worrying about the fall out. Ryan and I were discussing it on a late-night walk and he was letting me pour out my concerns and fears, when we reached this street corner and he suddenly stopped me with both hands on my shoulders, looked me in the eyes and said, "Vicki, it will be alright." And then, I knew it would be. Something about the sudden calm of that moment stilled my anxieties, and I remembered it many times in the coming months, and often pulled the memory out to treasure when things were particularly rough. 

When we reached this street corner Ryan again stopped me with hands on my shoulders, kissed me, and whispered in my ear, "I told you so." It was a really sweet moment, and we stood there for a few minutes enjoying it. He did seem a bit nervous at this point, and I asked him if he wanted to continue the walk, but he said no. His tone of voice made me think, ok, this is another trick, but I'm not falling for it this time. Then he pulled out a white ring box and asked me, "Will you make it right forever?" I hugged him in surprise and delight and said yes, then we realised he was supposed to be down on his knees, so he went down, but of course I'd already accepted. 

Right now it's looking like early October for a wedding date, though I'm not sure we've exactly nailed that down as there should be a general conference for our church in early October and we need to make sure when we can get in to the temple. There are more questions than answers at this point, and way too much to do in a very little time, and I'm going to launch into full-on freaking out, I'm sure, before too long. :) Ryan has an interview on Friday for a job in VT, and if he gets that we will make plans to move out there, and if he doesn't he'll come out here. There's probably a lot more I could say about all of this, but I'm sure it will occur to me later.