Tag: friends

The Oddness of Modern Community

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned on this blog I am going to be in New York next week! On Tuesday night I am taking the red eye to the Big Apple and going to be visiting until Saturday!  I am so excited because I love New York, get some time off work, see a show, visit with my sister and meet up with a bunch of friends I’ve never met before in real life.

Let me explain that last one for a second.  It’s an interesting situation.  You guys know I like the show Survivor.  I find it fascinating to look at the choices men and women make in the game and how every game is different with a different style of win (except for Sandra who won twice).  It’s now going into Season 30 and we have a very promising season with a lot of super fans after season 29 was a super snoozefest.

I would say I was a big fan at the beginning of Survivor and then picked it up again in spurts when there was a Utahn on the show and then with Heroes vs Villains I started watching again regularly.  I missed One World and Philippines but got the rest of the seasons but nobody I know is into the show, which is frustrating because it is the kind of show you want to talk about with others. 
In fact, I miss the social aspect of movies and TV.  In my 20s it was quite common for me to gather with friends and watch American Idol, Survivor, Lost or The Office.  Now that never happens.  Same thing for movies.  Most movies I go to by myself these days.

But around Season 26: Survivor Caramoan I stumbled on a podcast where former Survivors Rob Cesternino and Stephen Fishbach were talking about the show each week and I loved it!  A lot of people don’t care for Caramoan but I love Dawn and Cochran and it was my introduction to the podcast and the Rob Has a Podcast Planet.

I think someone could enjoy Rob’s podcast even if they didn’t watch any of his shows.  Kind of like I enjoy Car Talk and I hate cars.  Rob’s just so personal, funny and engaging.  Plus, it was so much fun to get involved on the chatroom and talk about the episode.  Again, it reminded me of those times in college when media was a group experience.

Well last year Rob made a proposal to his little planet that if we would support his podcast for .25 cents an episode he would give a monthly patroncast where we could ask questions and set up a patron group to further discuss the show.  Wanting to support Rob I decided to become a patron and so I joined the facebook group at the same time.  I believe I was in the first 100 patrons in the group.  Now I don’t know how many hundreds of us there are but it is an active vibrant group with patrons from all around the world.

rhapWe even did a secret Santa last Christmas where I came up with a gift for a woman named Ana from Brazil and I received maple syrup and some bacon bowl makers from a patron named Rebekkah from Canada!  Each week we talk about whatever reality show is on (Big Brother, Amazing Race and Survivor being the big 3) but also scripted shows, movies and occasionally other silly news.  There have been a few cantankerous souls in the group and some people are too sensitive about spoilers IMO but for the most part its been great!

It sounds crazy but I really feel like it is a community of friends and it seems amazing to me something as silly as a podcast about reality TV could bring people together in a community.  It shows it really doesn’t take much to gather people together, especially in the world of social media and the internet.  But I think even in real interaction if you can find something you have in common with another person, it can be the silliest thing and yet that is enough to start a friendship and get people talking.  I’ve seen it a 100 times that a shared love of dolls, books, Judy Garland, musicals, whatever it is, it’s all it takes to get the ball rolling and create a relationship.  Get enough of those balls rolling and you have a community. Kind of amazing!

I’ve seen it with my open water swimming- how a love of the water and being outdoors brings people who have little to nothing else in common together and fast friendships are formed.  It seems to me sometimes all it takes is finding that one thing you have in common with someone, no matter how stupid, and you can make it work.

Anyway, when Rob announced they were doing a live podcast in New York on March 11th I initially dismissed it.  Who flies across the country after all to listen to a podcast?  That’s crazy talk!

But then the rest of the community kept talking about it and it sounded like so much fun. A few weeks ago I decided to look at plane flights just out of curiosity and to my surprise they weren’t half bad, and then I found a hotel which was reasonable and in a safe neighborhood.  The idea kept germinating and I finally said

“What the heck!  Why not! I’m a super predictable person and for once I’m going to do something strange and fly across the country for a podcast!”

So I got my ticket and it turns out my sister is going to come down the day after the show and we are going to spend a couple days in New York together!  It should be a ton of fun!

There is a side of me which still thinks I am nuts for going to a podcast and meeting strangers but another side is really excited (and nervous) to meet all these people I’ve interacted with over the last year.  I’ve heard their voice when they call into the podcast.  I’ve read their posts, sometimes surprisingly personal and I feel like they are friends.  I really do.

I just hope it is a good experience and people aren’t too rowdy.  I normally don’t go to places like bars or comedy clubs but it is 300 people and the girl I am sitting with doesn’t drink and there are other dry members of the group so it should be good.

I love being a part of this strange modern community so I hope it is a lot of fun.  At the very least it will be something new and different and that is a good thing.

(Plus I get to meet a whole bunch of famous Survivor contestants which I am very excited about!!!).

Have you ever been a part of a community that was unusual or strange?  Maybe played bunco with girlfriends for years or have a group of online chess players or something like that?  I’d love to hear about your experience.  Do you agree sometimes all it takes is finding the one thing you have in common with another person and a friendship can be built?

Well, I look forward to sharing the week with all of you.  Take care!

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Birthday 2015

Last Friday I turned the 34 and had a great birthday.  I decided to meet up with friends at the local aquarium because I thought it would be an easy place to bring kids and my friends wouldn’t need to find sitters.  It ended up being very crowded and we had a hard time staying together as a group but I felt like I spent time with everyone who came and really enjoyed it.

My friend Lisa came over and stayed in the guest room Friday night. She even came with me to a midsingles game night I had to go to (and ended up being very fun!).  We had a great time visiting and reminiscing about our missions (she served in my mission mostly before I got there).

When we all got back from the aquarium we had tarts from my favorite bakery, Bake 360.  They were delish!  My Dad surprised me by getting me a sound box and new TV!!! I was overwhelmed at such a gift.  I also got some new big mixing bowls from my roommate and Mom, Anne of Green Gables from my sister, scarf, swimming shampoo, and my Christmas gift to myself came on my birthday- my dream Le Crueset dutch oven pot.

But more than any gifts I was blessed to be reminded with just how many people love me.  I am so blessed with good people in my life.  I lost track at 49 but I couldn’t even tell you how many birthday wishes I got on facebook and other social media.  When I think of the lonely people I met on my mission and other places I am overwhelmed with gratitude at all God has given me.

Thanks to everyone who made my birthday memorable.  I love you!

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Mission Companion New Years Reunion

Normally New Years is one of my least favorite holidays. For a long time it was fun but I’ve found it frustrating because it is a very couply holiday and one where I increasingly seemed to get left out. See post New Years Eve Sucks)

Not this year!

This year my friend and former mission companion Julia Graves came for a visit and it was such a treat.  I rarely have visitors that are here just to see me.  My family comes a lot but they have their own house and sometimes I hardly see them because of their work responsibilities and other family things.

Regardless, they aren’t here just to see me and for me to be host and show them around.That hardly ever happens despite my very comfortable guest room! (It’s ready for anyone to come on over!).  So it was so great to have Julia here for a visit and to have fun and reminisce.

She arrived on the 30th and we went to lunch and then got settled in and she was kind enough to join me for our SLOW (Salt Lake Open Water) end of year banquet.  We spent a fair amount of time in the car and had a lot of fun talking with each other.

Then the 31st we went to Blue Plate Diner in SLC and had a yummy breakfast.

diner

And then I had gotten a room for New Years at my favorite hotel- the City Center Marriott in Salt Lake.  It is the place I went when I quit my job in 2007 and so it has always had a special significance (one of the best days of my life!). I also went there for my Eat Pray Love weekend in 2012.

hotel1It’s a lovely hotel with great linens and fluffy robes for all the guests.  They have yummy room service and an amazing pool!  It is one of my favorite places in the world.

I also successfully parallel parked twice! Pretty impressive right?

parallel

Then we went to Copper Common- the sister restaurant of my favorite place Copper Onion and it was very yummy!

copper commonAfter that we spent a bit of time at Temple Square and listening to music and enjoying the lights of the city (there was a lot going on this year with eveslc.com).  It was the most walking I’ve done since the knee injury which was good.  I felt it the next few days but it was a start. good menThere was a faux light fireworks display but we were so cold we decided to head home and watch the New York ball drop (what a letdown that was.  They didn’t even show the countdown!). But we had a great time with the hot tub and pool and just enjoying the hotel.

hotelWe rang in the New Year with gusto a little early and then crashed! It was great.

happy new year happy new year2New Years Day we went to breakfast at the hotel and then went to the new Living Aquarium in Draper.  I’ve been wanting to go and it was really fun! My knee was hurting from pushing it the previous day so I used my cane and it helped a lot.

The aquarium was easy to work around with lots of animals and fun exhibits.  My favorite was the penguins.

aquarium penguins turtles julia turtlesWe spent about 3 hours at the aquarium, and I have a membership now so if you want to go call me up and let’s go!  Your kids will LOVE it!

After the aquarium my parents and grandma came over and we had fajitas and Mexican food together.  They got to hear all about our memories from the mission.  It is so strange to think it will be 10 years in March since I came home from my mission.  Being with Julia made it feel like yesterday.

Today was the final day of the trip and we went to Bake 360 for breakfast (their new cafe is so delish!).  Then we did some shopping and tried to go to 2 different art museums but they were both closed! (Art was not on our side!).

So we went to the Leonardo.  They have one of those plastic body exhibits and those creepy me out so we just went to the regular exhibits and it was fun.  I thought it was an art museum but it’s actually science and math based.

leonardoJulia wanted to go to Chick-fila since they don’t have them in Nevada so we finished off the day eating some chicken and ended up visiting my Grandma in some extra time.

chickfilaIt was just a great trip and time with a friend.  I am so lucky to have wonderful friends in my life and playing host was a blast.  I loved reminiscing about our mission and all the years since. Julia is also single and we have very similar personalities and are both still active in the church. Our faith is very important to us and sharing it with the Hoosiers has given us a bond that will last forever. I just had the most lovely time.

Definitely my best New Years Eve ever!  A great way to start 2015!

No Fear of Being Alone

Recently I was talking to a single friend of mine about my Thanksgiving plans and telling him I was going to be solo this year. He seemed horrified by this notion.  Technically I will eat Thanksgiving meal at my aunts house (but wasn’t planning on that at the time of this conversation).

I told him that it was fine with me and I am okay being alone.  I told him ‘I am comfortable in my own skin’ and he said ‘I wouldn’t be.  It would kill me’.

I guess it’s a normal reaction to being alone on Thanksgiving and some years it would make me sad, but this year I’m ok. I was actually a little bit more sad to be facing Halloween alone (ended up having a great time with 2 couples my friends Danielle and Cory, and Rachel and Grant). The reason I was sad about missing Halloween is that it used to be a highlight of the year with my friends.  We would throw a big party, dress up and just have a blast.

I guess the reason I get a little nostalgic for Halloween and New Years is that I know it’s a time that is gone from my life.  My friends are almost all married.  Like seriously I have 4 or 5 single friends on my phone and they are usually so busy.  Even book club has become impossible of late.  I get it.  I understand people have to be with their little one’s on Halloween and New Years but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss all the good times with friends.

With Thanksgiving I know next year I will likely be with my family and the year after that and onward.  There isn’t a feeling of devastation because it’s just a day and like I said I do have friends and family to share the day with.

If you are alone on Thanksgiving and want to still cook a turkey dinner make sure to check out my Thanksgiving for one article I posted last year on my friend Samantha’s awesome food blog.

http://littleferrarokitchen.com/2013/11/thanksgiving-1-guest-post-smilinglds-girl/

This year I am going to order a Thanksgiving meal from Harmons (a local grocery) that make delicious food so that I have some thanksgiving food besides the meal at my aunts.  (My knee isn’t quite up to preparing feasts yet)

Anyway, this conversation about being alone at Thanksgiving and my friend being so horrified at the idea made me think about my life.  I am alone a lot.  Even though I have a roommate and tenants we don’t really get to sit down and spend time together that often.  It’s so much effort to get together with friends but I am a very social person and I do make that effort, but still I am often alone.

Many people have a fear or social anxiety about eating alone or going to the movies alone . Eating I get a little bit because you don’t have anyone to talk to but I do not understand why people care about going to the movies alone? You can’t talk in the movies so unless you are there with your honey and can snuggle I don’t see the value in having another person accompany you to the movies?  Please someone explain why that is such a social faux pas?

In fact, I realized today that all the movies I have been to this year have been alone.  I have seen in the theater- Boyhood, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Ghostbusters, Meet the Mormons, Edge of Tomorrow, Guardians of the Galaxy, Book of Life and The Boxtrolls and Big Hero 6. None of those experiences were hurt by being alone? I don’t get it?

But anyway, I feel like there is this anxiety many feel about being alone.  My Mother gets very nervous being alone .In fact, she has probably spent under 5 nights in her whole life alone without family of some kind with her.  That blows my mind.  She’s very fortunate that life has worked out that way for her.

I would love to have my own family and fall in love but that’s not the cards God has dealt me.  My job is to be as happy as I can be with the life I have. And never forget I am surrounded by amazing people.  Whether it is reaching out to someone on phone, Facebook, twitter, this or my disney blog, my channel, or someone in my ward there is no shortage of people who care and love me.  That’s the great part about being single in this day and age.It is so easy to not feel lonely even if you are alone.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days.  I do.  I have days where I feel sad and bemoan the fact I may never have my own children or a great love story.  It may happen but it may not.  I’m a human being just like anyone else and I express the full range of human emotions at different times of my life.

But I can confidently say being alone is not a fear for mine. It is the reality of my life and I always know that with God I am never truly alone.

So if you are alone this holiday season know that you have a friend here at this blog and on social media who knows how you are feeling- both on your good days and bad.  I get it.  I love you and we can support each other.

Take care my friends and god bless!

Btw thanks to Emily and Megan today for calling me out of the blue and cheering me up! I’ve got such great friends and family to support me.

Upstairs Rachel

Hi friends!

I just wanted to give you guys an update on my knee.  This week was huge! I saw improvement everyday and I was very good about staying off my knee as much as possible.  I even had a ticket to Wicked today but didn’t want to push it so I sold it to a friend. 

It’s weird I feel secluded from the rest of the world.  Like I’m in some kind of tunnel or bomb shelter.  I see my roommate and visitors and interact with others (including work) online.  It’s amazing how quickly you can cut yourself off from people.  It is also amazing how quickly the human brain gets used to a new routine, a new way of doing things.  Staying upstairs for days feels oddly normal.

So, what have been doing to keep myself busy upstairs?  Well, a lot of work which has been great.  I met some of my coworkers when they were here for the OR Show and told them some of my ideas for youtube and they loved it!!  They liked it so much they asked my boss if I could participate in a conference call on Wednesday and share them.  I made a power point presentation explaining my ideas and it went great!!!

We’ve been working on this spreadsheet project at work which is fine but I’m really excited to do something a little more creative so hopefully that will be starting after the presentation.

I’ve also been having fun diving into my old VHS collection because my friend Sharla is moving to Malaysia and she sold me her collection and her TV/VCR combo.  I watched Aladdin and Snow White on it.  So fun.

aladdin snow white

I think I had built it in my brain there was a huge difference between VHS and DVD/Blu-ray and there is but not much.  I was surprised how long it took to rewind.  Seemed like forever.

As you’ve seen from the reblog I’ve also started a new blog I’m very excited about.  If you like what I’ve said on this blog about movies please follow me on http://57disneyreviews.wordpress.com/  as I watch all 57 Walt Disney animated films (there may actually be 62 depending on where I draw the line). 

I already have posts on Snow White, Pinocchio and Fantasia.  I know you’ll enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. The melding of mediums in animation is just amazing.  I love it.

I also couldn’t help but do some shopping upstairs ala QVC.  I know what you are thinking but I sincerely like what I bought.  So cute!

qvc2
these shoes are made out of neoprene (the wetsuit material) and they are great and so cute!

qvc Aside from that I’ve been heating up microwave food, still filming my videos, watching big brother, listening to podcasts, getting my manga read for my next Adventures in Reading, resting, and heading downstairs once a day.  It’s a very exciting life!

I was pretty frustrated last week but am feeling positive today so hopefully next week I’ll be close to as good as new!

It certainly does make me grateful for all those times my knee does work without pain.  It also fills me with even more admiration for my Mother who went through bedrest for 4 of her children.  I can’t even imagine how hard that would be for months and months.

It has been a tough time in many ways but also a chance to think and be reminded of how many wonderful people I have in my life.  How many people all around the country are praying for me and anxious for my recovery.  How many people have been by for a visit or to offer assistance.  It’s humbling to need service but a good experience too and I’m so grateful.

I was very sad to miss out on the Deer Creek swim on Saturday but I went out and finally tried the Bake 360 brunch menu.  So delish!  Thanks to Emilee for helping me do that. 

bake 360In the end I’m just grateful for this time as Upstairs Rachel but also ready for it to be over.  Please continue to send those prayers. 

Love you all!

 

Friends with Kids

Friendship-Quotes-5

I’ve never been afraid of a sensitive topic on this blog and this will probably be one of those so be prepared.

I just want to share another side of the story.

Recently seemingly everyone I know with kids have posted this video.

This is a charming video and I get why especially stay at home Mom’s respond to it but as one of those friends without kids let me try to explain the other side of the picture.

First some societal trends that come into play.  Americans, even Utahns are getting married at older ages, usually in the post college years.  This gives sometimes a decade or more for single American’s to form friendships and create meaningful bonds/memories.

These groups of friends are often more important than family to the modern young American as they have shared experiences and group empathy that is not the same in a typical family.  There is no real hierarchy to an urban tribe; where even the most high functioning family has an order and chain of command leading to the main decision makers, the parents. A group of friends provides a space without judgement or the expectations of a family.

This is perhaps less common in the Mormon world as family is universally praised over friendship. Family bonds are eternal and you are after all not sealed to your friends…

Nevertheless, urban tribes do happen and even if not a group of friends the same reliance as with groups can exist in individual friendships between singles. I’ve never fallen in love so most of what I know about love is shared through friends.  I always felt very different from my family but felt at home with my friends.

Last year when I swam GSL the reporter asked me who I was going to call first and I said I wanted to see my friend Etsuko because we had shared that experience together.

But we grow up and people fall in love, marry (or sometimes not marry), and start having their beautiful babies.  We are happy because our friends are happy but we are also a little heart broken…

Is it a selfish response?  Of course it is, but it is also a very human one.  In the 50’s the average age for a girl to marry was 22.  This meant she would be lucky to graduate from college before getting married and having a family.

Now it is 26 (28 for men). Like I said, that means for almost a decade men and women have lived their lives relying on friends and then seemingly overnight their support system and world has completely changed.  Suddenly there are new priorities and they can be pushed to the side. I cannot overstate how devastating that abandonment can feel.  It may be childish to feel that way but I’ve felt it and I bet most singles have too.

Of course, the change in lifestyle the video depicts is necessary but just because something is necessary does not make it any less painful.  In fact, some essential things are the most painful. Giving birth for example.  Do we tell a young mother that her pain is less valid because it is necessary to bring her baby into the world?  Of course not!

I can’t tell you how many times I have been a bridesmaid at a friends wedding, or thrown a baby shower, or something important like that and then I never hear from them again.  I will call and call and then eventually give up.  I will see photos of their kids on facebook and smile.  On my bitter days it can feel like everyone else is moving on with their lives but me.  My support system is gone and I don’t even get a baby out of the deal…

On my peaceful days I smile and hope my day will come and that I can do a better job at keeping in touch with my single friends.  I’m sure like the video shows it will be hard, but I hope I can at least be cognizant of their pain.

She does say in the video that she loves her friends but she is also very judgy.  Assuming her friend has all this free time and can hop off to Vegas whenever she wants.  The truth is said friend probably has worked a 10 hour day with a boss breathing down her neck and this 20 minutes with your kids is the only real human interaction she gets.  Your single friend and you may be catching Shark Tank when you are exhausted in exactly the same way just different exhaustion causes.

Both single women and homemakers with kids sacrifice most of their days for other people and leave completely frustrated and worn out.  A single girl may not understand the cheese or the door slammed in her face by a toddler but she does understand feeling frazzled and pushed around by other people and most likely what’s pushing her around does not love her the way your baby loves you.

I’m not trying to minimize being a young Mom.  It is super difficult but I’m just saying assuming one person has it so much easier than another is a shame.  You miss out on support you could be receiving and ostracizing yourself to only bonding with one type of person, other young Moms.

Of course, singles can do the same type of ostracizing and be too inflexible in adapting to the new situation. But can’t we all be grown ups and just say ‘my daughter threw cheese on the ground.  Isn’t she a rascal?  Could you help me with this? I bet you got into all kinds of messes when you were little…’ A conversation starts and an awkward moment becomes one of friendship instead of distance.

At the very least I would urge you to treat your single friends a little more gently than the video describes.  They may not be calling just to hang out.  Merely assuming that every time a single friend calls you it is for something superficial isn’t worthy of the friendship that was seemingly so important to you before you got that ring on your finger.

I understand there just isn’t time for everything and that some friends will be dropped but perhaps we give up too quickly?  Perhaps we assume because we can’t keep up our original relationship it is all over?  Maybe we could create a new relationship? Maybe it doesn’t have to be completely abandoned simply because it isn’t the same?

I have friends I only see once or twice a year but I know they are there for me.  I know they love me.  There is that gentleness and kindness which tells me ‘yes I have these kids and yes, its tough but I love you and you are important to me’.  At the very least I don’t feel abandoned and that I was a tool for a wedding photo.

A few years ago I went traveled and spent time with many friends with kids.  All of them unnecessarily apologized for their kids behavior.  Maybe I was giving a bad vibe or something but it wasn’t how I felt.  I can’t imagine just sitting there talking while friends are entertaining kids like the video suggests.  I get in and play or talk to the kids, talking to my friend at the same time. Occasionally I may have a day when I am not as kid-friendly but I don’t think it’s the rule of thumb as the video shows.

Most of the time my friends with kids want to meet me outside of the kids, not because of me, but they see it as an escape for them, but I am more than willing to meet at Chucky Cheese or a playground and talk to you, get to know your kids.  The video seems to show it is either going out, getting a sitter or a frustrated experience, and I think with a little creativity it doesn’t have to be that way.

I would also never tell a mother that I am going to be strict with my kids.  I can’t think of a single adult that would say such a thing to their friends with kids when they are with said friend.  That would be super judgy and rude.  They may say it behind their backs which I guess is bad but the woman on this video has strange friends if they say that as part of light discussion during a visit.

In the end, I guess if I made a video it would say ‘be kind’, ‘be gentle’ and spend a minute to let someone know you love them and I bet that will make your time with those little one’s a little easier too.  Maybe it will help you to not feel so alone when you know you have a friend who is rooting for you?  It would for me.

Friends are not simply role-players in our lives- someone we use to get through the day.  They are real people and relationships with real people matter.  So, if worse comes to worse, maybe pray that Heavenly Father will help you find a way to express love to your friends. Just maybe He will inspire you with an idea for a get-together or a cute text.

And if a friend does need to be dropped just try to be gentle about it.  Try to understand how they are feeling and as Jesus taught ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’.  That goes for all of us married, single, divorced or widowed.

Friendship is too great a gift to let it pass without much thought.  I promise it’s worth the effort.

The truth is it is harder for single women over 30 to get together.  It is just harder when you are older, so maybe that is part of the change.  You can set up plans for weeks, get everything organized and then someone gets sick or there’s a blizzard, or a late assignment at work.  It is just harder post 30 but again worth the effort.

(I have no problems with my friends btw.  Only posted this because I saw the video so much and wanted to share how the person on the other side of the phone may be feeling).

Feel free to share your opinions of what I have written.  How have you made friendship work as an adult? My Dad is a great example of maintaining friendships.  It is a natural part of his expression and I’m kind of the same way.  I need friend, so thank you dear friends.  Love you and your kids!

3 Sisters and 2 Brothers

crazy family

I look at this blog as a form of ministry.  As a chance to share my story with the world and hopefully help people going through their own struggles and appreciating our victories together.  As such, I have tried very hard to talk about my life and let other people tell their own stories however they see fit.  I very rarely speak of friends or family except in the most flattering way and even then it is unusual.

Today I want to depart slightly from that philosophy as my sister Anna is moving out of Utah tomorrow and then will end up in Japan for 1-2 years as a teacher.  She’s been here studying for 5 years and I will really miss her.

So let me tell you a little bit about my family.  My parents are still together after 36 years of marriage. They are kind of a ying-yang, balancing each other well. My Dad is energetic, passionate and full of ideas.  My Mom is calming, nurturing and peaceful.

They were young and excited to start a family and my brother and I were born quickly.  He is 35 and I’m 33.  Then my sister Megan came 3 years later but she was a month early and my Mom had complications.

But the dream of a big family never went away and 8 years later they announced my sister Anna was coming. This was a challenge because my Mom had full bedrest and my Dad was working a lot in Japan at the time.  We all worked together and a baby came.

My parents wanted to have more kids but then it took 5 years for another baby to come.  I was 15 when this happened and Sammy was born the beginning of my sophomore year in high school.  Once again my Mom had to go on bedrest and I internalized a lot of fear and worry about her situation.  Whether it was bedrest, recovery or caring for an infant, a new baby kind of monopolized my homelife in high school.

Then we moved to California and the winter before I went away to college my Mom announced she was pregnant again.  At the time I was young, selfish and very upset.  I was acutely aware of how hard this was going to be and I worried it would pull me away from  my dream of BYU.  In a way I was right because I felt really guilty at abandoning my Mother at such a hard time.

In August we came home and my Mom had the baby and I went back to school.  My sister Madeline and I have never lived together as siblings.  The longest time was probably after I returned from my mission in 2005 and lived with  my folks for about 3 weeks.

So that is the dynamic of my family.  It was unique to have 3 teenagers and 3 babies.  It taught me a lot.  It forced me to be selfless when I really didn’t want to be and it hopefully gave me some real-life experience if I ever have to be a parent (or co-parent).

I love all of my siblings and as the younger one’s get older I am less the step-Mom and more the sister which is nice.  Madeline and I have turned out to have the most in common as far as religion, energy and personalities.  Sammy has proven to be a great listener and have a calming spirit about him.  He is a great person to talk to when you have a problem because he is very empathetic and encouraging. As a little boy he would get so emotionally involved in your worries it was very touching and he still has that.

Anna and I have a lot of similar tastes in music, theater, movies etc, which has been fun.  I’ve enjoyed having her close by and will miss my event buddy.  Anna has a bright, cheerful countenance and I will miss that too. Sigh…

My sister Megan and I were the best of friends growing up.  She is a great mother and very nurturing and kind.  She also has been a great influence in reading and writing.  Growing up I was not a great reader and she always had her nose in a book.  She is currently trying to achieve her dream of writing a novel and has made strides with an agent.

My brother Ben and I are the most different.  I guess it is a classic oldest and next kid dynamic.  I thought left, he thought right.  That has been an interesting tool to have in my life.  To see that someone so fundamentally different can still make good choices and lead a good life has been helpful.

Life in any family can be both a joy and challenge. I know I still feel radically different than my siblings but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  It forced me to be happy with my own life choices and to not lean on anyone else.  We could support each other, and love one another but that didn’t mean we needed to be the same.

One time when I was in high school I yelled out to my family ‘I’m the normal one.  You are the weird one’s and yet in my family I’m the weird one’.  That was a ridiculous thing to say but it was kind of true.  Megan, Ben and my Mom were more homebodies and happy with a few good friends.  I was an active social butterfly.

Neither way is right or wrong but I think I learned to lean a lot on my friends who seemed to process things the way I did.  Because of this, I have always been a very friend-reliant person to this day.  I guess that’s why loyalty and friendship is the most important topic to me.

So that’s my family.  They’ve all taught me something different and I’m glad they are all a part of my life.  What about all of you?  What have you learned from your siblings?  What is the age dynamic in your family and how has that affected you?

Sadly minus Meg and Ben but still a mighty fine family photo
Sadly minus Meg and Ben but still a mighty fine family photo

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