Monday, August 25, 2014

My Little Sunshine

I've been thinking about writing this post for months.  There's absolutely no way to do the subject justice.  But I will do my best to see through the tears that are already falling and record my thoughts, because I need to remember... although it feels impossible for me to ever forget.  

One year ago I moved to Boston and got a job as a nanny.
My primary responsibilities: caring for 5-year-old Big Brother, 
2-year-old Little Miss,
and, since he joined the family 5 months ago, Baby.

The bad days feel like this:

The good days feel like this:

And the wonderful days feel like this:

An average* day in the life would include the following:

8:00 AM
Arrive with smiles and greetings, help children finish breakfast.
Clean little hands, corral little bodies upstairs to brush teeth and dress for the day. 
Collect and pack lunches, backpacks, diaper bags, water bottles, etc.
8:45 AM
Load gear and kids into car, secure buckles, turn on tunes, drive Big Brother to school/camp.
Return home, tidy up kitchen, bedrooms, and/or playroom.
9:30 AM
Pack snack and stroller, take Baby and Little Miss on a walk to the playground.
Eat snack.
11:30 AM
Return home, feed and change Baby, prepare for and eat lunch with Little Miss.
Clean up, change pull-ups and diapers, read stories, sing songs.
1:00 PM
Nap Time. Baby Time. Breathe. 
3:30 PM
Wake up Little Miss, change, pack up, pick up Big Brother, return home, unpack.
Snack time.
5:00 PM
Prepare and serve dinner, clean up.
6:00 PM 
Say goodnight, go home.

*Insert various other diaper-pull-up-underwear-changing, fit-throwing, behavior-redirecting, conflict-resolving, mess-cleaning, band-aid-applying unforeseen adventures at any time.
Because Big Brother is gone for several hours of the day, and because Mommy or Daddy often assists in caring for Baby, the majority of my time is shared or spent one-on-one with Little Miss. 

And this time has changed my life.

There is a special magic in the life of young children, created in part by the fact that their concept of time has not yet fully developed.  They have the amazing ability to live completely in the present moment, without the push and pull of future events or demands distracting their attention from the happenings of now.  Observing this phenomenon on a daily basis has offered me priceless and precious opportunities to re-train my mind in the art of slowing down, enjoying, and truly experiencing.  I’ve tried to stop saying “hurry,” and to instead embrace the in-between things that often mean the most.  This change of pace has allowed me to remember and relearn, through teaching Little Miss, some of the simple joys of life.

Together, we have mastered swinging. 
We are incredible puddle-jumpers. 
We know that when the right music comes on, it’s time for a dance party…whether we’re at home or the grocery store. 
We are fantastic flower-smellers, dandelion-pickers, and helicopter-leaf-fliers. 
We rock at one-on-one soccer. 
We are really, really good at hopping over sidewalk cracks…Every. Single. One. 
We are wonderful at spotting and observing bugs, birds, squirrels, doggies, and bunnies. 
We know how to color, make necklaces, decorate princess crowns, sculpt play-dough, create puppets, and make all kinds of “projects.”
We can get our stomp-rockets super high. 
We bake delicious cupcakes, cookies, brownies, and muffins. 
We build amazing Lego structures. 
We celebrate our victories, like putting shoes on the correct feet and completing tricky puzzles. 
We know how to thoroughly enjoy story time. 
And goodness, do we know how to sing!

Because of my contract, and out of respect for her very dear family, I can’t include any pictures of the little girl I’ve spent the last year learning with.  I can't share the image of her bouncy curls poking out from underneath her Red Sox cap.  I can’t post the video of her excitement when she was finally able to blow bubbles, instead of just spitting.  I can't show you the bright smile that lights up the sweetest little face.  I can't tell you her name. 

But she calls me Tisi.
And for all my successful speech instruction and her incredible verbalization skills acquired over the past 12 months, I've never had it in me to correct her. 

I didn’t understand when I began this position how much I needed this personally sacred experience.  The work has been full of challenges, difficulties, and frustrations; but the calm and peaceful moments of growth and truth have made it a treasured and invaluable part of my life.  As I prepare to move forward with my teaching career and say temporary goodbyes to these dear children, I recognize that their sweet spirits have helped me to feel God’s love each day.  It is through helping them exercise perseverance in overcoming their daily struggles, small and insignificant as they may at times seem, that I have learned of God's patience, trust, and confidence in me to confront and conquer challenges in my own life.  They have loved me unconditionally as He would, and have allowed me the glorious opportunity to do the same. 

God’s love is in Little Miss’s sweet voice singing along to primary songs and lullabies.  It’s in her tender hugs and hand-holding.  It’s in her contagious smiles and giggles.  It’s in her warm morning greetings and goodnights.  It’s in her never-ending conversation and constant “I love yous.” It’s in
her determined spirit and trusting eyes.          

Divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.  It is…through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means.  This grace is an enabling power…

When I moved to Boston I had a huge, gaping, painful hole in my heart.  Many incredible people, beautiful experiences, diligent efforts, and continually passing days have helped to mend and fill it over the course of the past year.  I know that the most significant source of healing has been the grace of my Savior, through His all-encompassing Atonement – but I sure do believe God sent a very large portion of that grace to me through the eyes, smile, laughter and love of His precious 2-year-old daughter.

Thank you, Little Miss.
I love you forever.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Dear Dad,

I've just been thinking.

Do you remember when I was a little girl, and you took me on a daddy-daughter date?  We went out to lunch.  And you took me shopping.  I didn't know it then, but you hate shopping.  I found a ridiculous pair of bright pink shoes, splattered with every imaginable color of neon paint.  I loved them.  And you bought them for me.

Maybe you don't remember.
But I do.

Do you remember when I was a kid, and we drove all the way to Las Vegas for Christmas at Grandma's house?  One of the little boys needed Mom's attention for a while, so I got to spend the last hours of the drive sitting in the front seat next to you.  I was absolutely thrilled.  We sang along to the Carpenter's Christmas album, anticipated our holiday traditions, and watched for the almost-there sign of city lights.

Do you remember when I was a grumpy, moody teenager, and we got in an argument where I really yelled at you?  I was too embarrassed and humiliated to leave my room the rest of the evening, and I was prepared for some unpleasant consequences.  You didn't get upset at all.  You came down and sat on my bed just to talk, and to tell me you loved me.

Do you remember when I was in high school, and I got to call my AP Physics teacher Daddy?  I'd been spending more time talking to my friends than studying, and I failed one of your tests.  You were upset this time, and I knew it was because I hadn't done my best.  We spent the school day in a silent-treatment fight.  I expected disappointment to be waiting for me at home, and instead returned to a bouquet of flowers on the kitchen table.  For me, from you.            

Do you remember when I was in college, and I came home for Sunday dinner and game night?  I had escaped to the living room for some quiet time, and was looking through a book of pictures and testimonies of Christ, and you came in to chat.  We talked about the gospel.  You shared with me the words of Elder McConkie that had influenced your own understanding and testimony of our Savior.

Do you remember when I was supposed to be all grown-up, but I'd still come home, jump up on your bed, and selfishly talk for hours about my life when you were supposed to be sleeping?  Real-life got a little too heavy sometimes, and I would desperately want your wisdom and advice.  You would tell me I had to make my own decisions, and I'd get so frustrated because you were right.  You'd tell me that you loved me and wanted me to be happy.  You'd tell me you were praying for me. 

Maybe you don't remember.
But I do.

I'm far from home, but I hope you know that you've taught me through example how to think hard, work hard, and play hard.  Your rock-solid faith in our Heavenly Father and his Son has strengthened my own more than you'll ever know.  I feel your influence and love helping me climb my mountains every single day.

Thank you for always, always supporting, encouraging, and trusting me.

Happy Father's Day, Daddy...
I love you!!!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Dear Mom,

Yesterday, my plans changed.

I was sitting at my kitchen table, busily working on my Saturday to-do list like any responsible, competent adult would.  Items were being checked off, I was focused, and diligently completing necessary tasks.  That lasted until about "apply for dental insurance."

It was time for a break.  

And Mom, somehow, even 2,356 miles away, your influence still quietly reminds me to remember what is most important in life. 

Sometimes, it's your example of consistent temple attendance that gently guides me to worship in God's holy house.

Sometimes, it's your voice in my head telling me, "Life is good! It will all work out," that makes me laugh at life's twists instead of cry...
Or at least laugh while crying :-)

Sometimes, it's the memories of watching your lifetime of selfless service that help me choose to get up and do some good in the world.

But this time, it was your inspiring joy for God's creations that led me outside on a walk, to a darling little garden shop down the street.  

The minute I walked in, surrounded by beautiful flowers, my stomach did that happy-jump thing.  

I wanted to call you the entire time I was there for your advice, insight, and enthusiasm...but that would have ruined the surprise.

Yesterday, Mom, I planted flowers.  

And I couldn't leave the shop without this:

Best three hours of my week.

I can't begin to express how happy this made my heart...
And how much closer I felt to my sweet Momma :-)

Not surprisingly, this song was running through my head:

I Often Go Walking
Phyllis Luch

I often go walking in meadows of clover,
And I gather armfuls of blossoms of blue.
I gather the blossoms the whole meadow over;
Dear mother, all flowers remind me of you.

 O mother, I give you my love with each flower
To give forth sweet fragrance a whole lifetime through;
For if I love blossoms and meadows and walking,
I learn how to love them, dear mother, from you.

I know it's not exactly fair for me to buy myself something for your Mother's Day gift, but you better believe I will think of you every single time I go in and out my front door this summer. 


I love you, Mom!
To the moon...and back.

44 more days.

Until then, love notes from Boston:

And of course, these.
I'll always be your little girl.

Next step: influence me to learn how to sew :-)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

'Tis the Season...

To enjoy life in Boston!  

Any season, actually.
In the five months I've been here I've experienced three of the four, and have yet to be disappointed with the fantastic activities (yes Mom, I still love them) this place has to offer .  Here's what I've been doing with some of my East Coast days:

   I moved just in time to enjoy the last weeks of Summer.  
These two awesome people joined me from Utah for a week!  

 Our adventures can basically be summed up with this photo:
 Alright, I suppose we also spent time exploring the Freedom Trail, eating many a cannoli from Mike's Pastry, screaming at Six Flags New England, discovering the Museum of Science, touring Fenway, and other such entertaining times.  Thanks Sarah and Megan for making my transition across the country an exciting and hilarious one!

Another perfect summer afternoon was spent walking the harbor, riding a ferry, and relaxing on Spectacle Island with a view like this:

And enjoying it with cool people like this:

I look forward to more summer days for these...
...and the opportunity to run along the Charles again 
with them as my backdrop.

 Lots of Saturdays spent at one of my favorite places on Earth :-)

And wonderful times getting to know these lovely ladies!
 Roommates at the Yellow House: McCall, me, Dema, Meg

Many new friends, cupcakes, and mistakes involving keys 
have all been made since my arrival...

A little camping and canoeing in New Hampshire!

I drove to work during many sunrises like this:

And went on oh-so-many walks through the 
peaceful Public Garden...

...where you will see these ducks, 

and of course, these ducks!

I spent many mornings strolling along streets like this:

And visited another harbor island, this time for sunset :-)

About this time, all the green green green trees 
began looking more like this:

And somehow over the following weeks turned to this:

And then this:

I will never, ever, EVER be able to say enough about 
Boston in the Fall!!! 

Autumn adventures included
a visit to the Boston Public Library

Georgetown Cupcakes

Skywalk at the Prudential Center

A stroll along Memorial Drive

And a day in Concord, where I walked through a town like this:

Learned about and visited the homes of people like this:

Crossed the Old North Bridge at 
Minute Man National Historical Park

and walked all the way around Walden Pond!

I also went "hiking" in Dover...obviously not my Utah mountains, 
but there were actual inclines!

And it was gorgeous.

 Then, a special visitor arrived in town!

 I didn't meet Josh, but I did meet his incredible violinist. 

Halloween included edible costume props...

And more cupcakes...

And wonderful people in fantastic attire.

Then suddenly, it was Winter time...
And Thanksgiving happened.
Good people, good food, good day.

And my 26th birthday!!!
For which I treated myself to this:

And celebrated with awesome friends 
who threw me a party like this:

And gave me my favorite flowers that looked, in real life, 
even better than this:
 Thank you, Matt :-)

We bought ourselves a darling little tree...
 and named her Carol.

Meg-dear and I had the perfect snowy evening at the movie Frozen!

I soaked up Christmas goodness singing and listening to the 
Candlelight Carols at Trinity Church on Copley.

And had a fantastic morning playing in the snow :-)

Today we went to the Museum of Fine Arts...
And I was reminded, as I am every single day, 
how blessed I am to live right here, right now.

And incredibly enough,
somewhere along this wonderful journey that is Boston, 
I learned to parallel park.
Like this.