Category: Family

Goodbye, Childhood Home!

As you know, Ryan just came back from visiting his childhood homea last visit.  His parents are officially moving!  It doesn’t feel at all real to me probably because I wasn’t there to help box things up and watch the house become bare.

We are so excited for them.  So excited.  But there are definitely a lot of emotions going on!

Stolen from Jenn

Stolen from Jenn

I know for me it’s super weird to think that I’ll never walk into that house again.

I’ve only been a part of the family for 12 years and, even for me, there are so many memories there.  So many things I am sure I will miss.

Like visiting and meeting the Mecham’s for the first time when Ryan and I were dating, sleeping on Jenn’s trundle bed and being so completely intimidated by Craig AKA Grandpa Mecham (Haha! All the in-laws have said this. I have no idea why. He’s such a teddy bear!)  Matt coming home from his mission.  Or the time Ryan poured ice-cold water on a teenage Jared in the shower—and throwing Jenn in fully clothed.  Lunch at Applebees.  Watching Jared’s pole-vaulting meets and Jennifer’s track and cheerleading.  Listening to Grandpa jam on the guitar when he’s supposedly “working” in his office.  Seeing our dog Annie gave birth to puppies (“Our Dog.”  Hear that? LOL.  Their dog! Their dog!  They felt like our dogs too…)  and Wrinkles grew up into this amazing, feisty, hyper dog who would throw herself head over paws to fetch whatever you threw her way.

Nate, Matt, Ryan, and Jared Mecham

Brothers

Then there was the Christmas Grandpa-Great and Grandma-Great came to visit. How Grandma-Great busied herself helping with cooking, laundry, and re-arranging all the cupboards so no one could find anything—but oh how very organized and neat they were!  How Grandpa-Great insisted on joining me when I ran to the mall to get Jared’s gift of Victoria’s Secret Cologne.  Yes.  He went into Victoria’s Secret with me.  It was stupendously awkward.  Mostly for me, I believe. Afterwards, we sat outside in the car for about an hour, engine running while he told me story after story from World War II and about meeting his dear wife Wanda and starting their family.  He gave me advise and sucked me into his world and loved me like his own Granddaughter.

There was also the time when I was visiting Ryan and staying in Jennifer’s room, pre marriage.  Nathan was packing up to go back to the school the next day. Ryan was asleep in the basement, and I was reading my scriptures (of all things) on the kitchen table.  To be fair, it was pretty late.  Probably 1:00 am.  All of a sudden Craig wakes up and realizes I hadn’t gone to bed yet, comes bounding down both flights of stairs and turns on all the lights in the basement to find a startled and bleary eyed Ryan. The best part was Nate running after him saying “Dad!  Dad!  Wait!” knowing full well what he thought was going on.  As I was reading my scriptures.  At the table.  At 1 AM.

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I remember coming home after Matt and Em’s Spokane wedding reception, everyone hurrying home to curl up on the couch to watch the pilot of a new TV show, Psych—which ended up being a family favorite for years to come.  Them renting a tiny apartment for the summer and going running with Emily every morning (okay fine….most mornings….when I woke up in time), buzzing about starting our college majors in the fall and talking about our brother-husbands.  Later on, Matt and Em moved back and Ryan and Jared helped him tear down the rock wall and Matt completely re-did both the deck and the living room.
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I was also so excited when Mel and Gary came to visit because it meant we could force everyone else into doing what no one else really liked to do, but we loved (and by “we” I mean Mel and I.  We, in no way, includes Ryan. =) —the competitive sport of board-gaming!  Killing many zombies and Horde.  Eating Sunday dinner on the back porch in the summer and being eaten ALIVE by mosquitos while everyone else was untouched!  Jared and Jennifer graduating high school.  Jared leaving and returning home from his mission in Finland.

Jared Jenn

Then, of course, there was the time I forced everyone to be my patients through dental hygiene school and they single handedly made it possible for me to pass (They love me. There is no other explanation. Why else would they endure a three hour, snail-speed dental appointment every 6 months for 3 years?).

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After college in Spokane, we sold and packed up everything we owned, waved goodbye to friends and family, and moved to my home state of Colorado. We were so excited for what came next and I was surprised to feel my resolution breaking as we pulled out of the driveway, feeling that familiar sting of change and grief peaking over my eyelids and stealing down my cheeks.

That house was such a huge part of my life.  I know it wasn’t my house and that Ryan’s memories far surpass mine.  I know it’s not where I grew up or where I spent most of my time but I did an awful lot of growing up there too, married and all.

When I am in those places where memories pop up on their own, over time it almost feels like they reside there, like their life-force is somehow infused into the walls and I wonder if we will ever feel those things again quite as vividly, remember those tastes and sounds and laughter quite the same without the walls to hold them in.

It does feels so much like losing something—and yet not.

What are walls? Of course those memories will not be lost (as evident by the “Where’s Jared?!” story that has never lost it’s grip on the family).  And of course we will have many, many more happy and ridiculous memories together.

But, for now, I’m taking some time to be a little sad, allowing myself to feel a little worried, investing a bit in remembering all the love we experienced there, and wondering all those things we wonder when change is looming.

So goodbye blue house!  We’ve loved you!

Life Now—And Six Months Ago

This week my heart feels bigger.  Bigger in a lot of ways.  Thankful for the love in our lives, the people we share it with and seeing our family grow (NOT pregnant.  We’ve recently welcomed some new nephews to the crew!).

It’s so easy to get lost in the day to day.  Just 6 months ago my brother in law was in a very serious bike vs car accident and I vowed to see life more clearly and stop waiting for it to start, for tomorrows that never come, and start investing in the people in my life and let go of my fears.

Am I different than I was then?  Yes.  Did that experience change me?  Of course.  But not as much as I’d like.  I’m not sure it’s ever as much as we’d like.   The clarity of the days post accident have faded.  Well-remembered when they are, but often out of focus.  I’ve had so many other things orbiting my life that the details of 6 months ago seem—foreign.  Lost.  Ancient even.

When I really think back to those days I feel a little foreign too.  Living in that much awareness after a shock is like being thrown into a 3rd dimension, the details of your life are the same but suddenly in full technicolor, rich and deep but unstable and fleeting.  You don’t know what reality to grab hold of so you just don’t for a while.

It’s with this in my heart and family on my mind that I’ve been thinking a lot about Anne and the adventure our life has been since she entered it.  And it’s not just because she’s a kid.  It’s because she’s Anne.

Here are a few reasons I love being her Mom:

  • The things that inspire the most anger often inspire the most laughter—later.
  • We can’t wait for her to go to bed when she’s melting down and exhausted but miss her once she’s asleep…and seriously consider waking her up just so we can hang out.
  • Tonight she gave me “true love’s kiss” right before she fell asleep.
  • Her Uncle Matt called her to wish her a happy birthday and before he could say anything she yelled “Happy Birthday!” into the phone.  She proceeded to wish everyone a happy birthday all day.
  • Last week she got about 10 mini slivers in both hands from playing the back yard.  I iced her up (a trick I learned from a scalpel fight I had with my dermatologist. Easy anesthetic!) and removed them one by one.  It took like 2-3 sessions over a few days, but before we started she was adamant I not remove them.  This, of course, was before they started to feel sore and irritated.  She said “No!  Not my stripes!  They’re mine!”
  • “Do you like this movie?”  Anne: “A smoothie?!  YES!  I want a smoothie!”  “No.  I said  ‘This. Movie.’ ” Anne: “Smoothie!  Yes a smoothie! Yes please!!”
  • She waits for me to get home from work in the front room.  When I walk in she springs forth from her hiding place (which usually consists of a pillow over her face) and yells “SURPRISE!”
  • “You’re in charge Mommy.  And Daddy’s in charge.  And my blanket is in charge.”
  • Before Ellie had their baby they had a video up of them at the doctor’s office.  Anne wanted to watch the part where they were listening to the heart beat over and over again.  She’d say “Is that my cousin?”
  • She comes home from church a special kind of hyper.  It reminds me of the way I felt in college after a ridiculously fun night out with the girls, super energized and a little bit silly.  She must love her little friends.
  • Anne was running away from Daddy because she didn’t want her diaper changed.  He said “Anne!  It’s not funny!”  Her response?  “It’s a little bit funny Daddy.”   We are in trouble.

 

I’m a Bad Mom. Sometimes I Like It Better When She’s Sick.

 

Yup. We're here again. Sick. Round a million since thanksgiving.

A post shared by Maria Mecham (@mariamecham) on

I shouldn’t be surprised, really.  That is what kids do, right?  Get sick over and over again until they build such an amazing immune system that they graduate into adulthood.  It’s the antibodies!  They create adult humans!

A lot of Anne’s signature sass gets toned down considerably when she’s ill.  In fact, she downright polite.  Lots of pleases and thank yous, cuddling, and loves.  Tantrums are almost eliminated.  The word “No!!” doesn’t fly out of her mouth every 10 minutes.  Rather than put up a fight at bed time she thanks us.  One night I even let out a cough in the wee hours of the night and her little voice came out of the darkness.  “It’s okay Momma.”

She has since reclaimed her throne as chief chatterbox of the household.  Here are some of my favorites:

–Me: “Baby, I hope you aren’t getting pink eye.”  Anne: “I’m not a guy!!  I’m a girl!”

–Out of nowhere Anne said “Let’s go to Utah to see Ellie and Jackson.  We can go on an airplane!”

–While looking at old pictures “Hey!  It’s my friend Jenn! (Jenn is her Aunt)  Is that my Ryan? (her Daddy)”

Anne: We are going to open presents because it’s my birthday and Santa is coming!  And you can open a present!

Me:  You bought me a present?

Anne: No.

Me: Did you buy Daddy a present?

Anne: No.

Me: Did you buy Grandma or Grandpa a present?”

Anne: No.

Me:  Did you buy Max (her cousin) a present?

Anne: Yes.

Me:  So you only bought Max a present?  What did you buy him?

Anne: A boat.

Me:  Well no wonder!  You ran out of money after Max’s present!

Anne:  Yep! It’s a little boat!

A:  We don’t throw people!  M: Did you watch Frozen today?  A:  No.  M:  Is that just something good to live by?  A: Yes!

Hitting and spitting is apparently okay but throwing crosses the line!

P.S.  I am SO glad she is starting to feel better.  We quickly forget how much energy she has after living with Sweet Anne for so many days.  And how often she tries to get away with the word “No!”  The girl who dances like a dragon has returned!  Yay!  (How do dragons dance? I’m sure she’ll gladly demonstrate.)

Our Reaction When The Mechams Started Vlogging

Ellie and Jared Mecham, Matt and Em Mecham

Ryan, Nathan, Melanie, Matt, Jenn, and Jared Mecham summer 2012

About two years ago Ryan’s youngest brother Jared started uploading videos to YouTube, documenting their struggle with infertility. It was so awesome for us to see, those of us praying for them and thinking of them but too far away to know what was happening on a day to day basis.

The middle brother of the family, Matt, started vlogging with his wife and two crazy boys this past fall. His wife lost her Dad to leukemia in early 2014 and the very first video they uploaded was to cheer up Grandpa Pearl in the hospital. He passed away shortly after.

People related with them and were drawn to their stories and their personalities. Jared and Ellie finally had a baby–then got pregnant again on their own! Matt and Emily, who have been blessed with two boys, had a third miscarriage. They started sharing more and more of their lives, talents, and heartaches with so much goofiness, laughter, and joy.  They eventually decided to start vlogging on a daily basis. Here’s what went through our heads:

Is it safe?
Will they have their identities stolen or have dangerous people interested in them?
Will it be too stressful to work full time AND do youtube?
Will they be secure financially?
Will they drive each other crazy?
Will they still have fun? Will they feel a lot of pressure to work all the time? Will they ever feel like they get a break?
Will it make them happy?
Will it change them from the people we adore into a more egotistical and self centered version of themselves?
Will the kids turn into egotistical versions of themselves?
When they become successful, will they forget about their roots? Will they forget about God? Will it keep them from being the people they are meant to be?

I wasn’t so much scared that they wouldn’t succeed—I was more scared that they would. The last thing you want to see is someone amazing turn into the worst version of themselves.

Now, keep in mind fear can be a healthy tool for good. It can help us take precautions (like wearing a safety belt and not posting your address on the internet) or keep us from making really bad decisions altogether (like using our retirement to play the lottery). It can also bring us to our knees.

I’m grateful for the questions that fear brings because it gives us something to think about, to plan around, to precaution against. I’m sure many of these questions went through their heads and prayers as they were contemplating what was best for their family.  The trick is to not let it freeze you in place.

What really helped us calm down was just trusting them. Both of Ryan’s brothers have always made excellent decisions with and for their families.

The Mecham Kids

Same crew circa 2006. I don’t know what is better about this photo: The fresh little faces or the curtains.

Jared was still in high school when we got married ten years ago so I feel like I have seen him change the most. I remember very specific instances where he had tons of people he respected and trusted opposing major decisions he was about to make. These were people who cared about him and just wanted the very best for him. He listened to and respected their opinions but, in the end, he listened to his heart and went for it anyway—-and totally made the right decision. What would have happened had he let fear take over? I respect him so much for the good head on his shoulders.

The whole thing has certainly not been what I expected. I feel like the success they have seen has made them different people, but in a good way. I have never seen them so humble, so grateful, empathetic and more able to see another’s perspective. They have come into contact with people from all over the world with so many different backgrounds. They are more down to earth. They seem to laugh more, to trust more, to be more positive and hopeful.

I’m not saying it’s all roses and that life is perfect because no life is perfect, but it’s such a relief to see them happy and thriving.  And to see people responding to something good!  There is so much nastiness and filth in the world.  We could all add a little more goodness to it.

So far no one has taken out any credit cards in their name or hidden in their attic. So that’s a plus.

In any case, we just wanted to say that we love them. It’s so crazy seeing what life has to offer.

UPDATE April 2017: Aaaaaand now we are vlogging too. We are fledglings and we are weirdos. We are still trying to remember what we normally do with our hands when the camera’s on. Or how to access basic co-ordination skills. Or what words are. If you’re into that kind of thing come join us. You won’t regret it. Or maybe you will. I don’t know you! (yet) But I can’t imagine it’d be in your life’s top ten regrets.

Our Channel: Click here! Or don’t. I’m not the boss of you.

Matt and Em Mecham

Matt and Emily (and Carter and Drake)

Ellie and Jared Mecham

Ellie and Jared (and Jackson and Babycakes)

 

Soup Was the Highlight of My Day

Winter Frosted Window

Anne

 

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soup-pot

By the look of these photos our daughter has graduated to family cook now.  She’s not great with a camera but the stove is another story.

When it’s particularly cold out we do what we do best.  Make soup.  And yes, the highlight of my entire day was the soup we made.  It was a delicious 15 bean + ham + bacon cancer fest but it was soup nonetheless.

It’s been one of those weekends.  I have drafted and started editing a post all about resolutions and New Years like six times but sickness has taken over our household and any free time we had.   Whatever will we do with our holidays and weekends when all these illnesses have been cured?  I can tell you what we we wont be doing.  We wont be comforting our kids back to bed 5 times in two hours or waking up at 9:00 and 10:00 and 1:00 and 2:00 then at 5:00 for the day.  They wont be spent enduring melt downs sparked by nose wiping or changing multiple snot stained shirts or taking overpowering camphor scented baths to clear out the sinuses.  Or maybe they would.  Kids do like to mix things up.

The soup would stay regardless.

I am always sad to say goodbye to the cloudy skies, the snow, and the sweaters but when the winter months end I am most remorseful over the soup.  I’ll happily enjoy many, many months of chili, split pea, turkey, chicken noodle, and chicken taco soup even if it means dealing with a few feet of snow.  Our beast of a gas guzzler can handle it anyway.

Christmas Traditions

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I am all about traditions. It’s hard not to enjoy them. They promote all kinds of crazy things.

  1. My stoic husband melts into his ten year old self, belting every word to the Muppet Christmas Carol with a wild grin slapped across his face.
  2. We eat dessert for breakfast. What is dessert if not carbs topped with sugar? Which do we like best, you ask? You name it. Cinnamon rolls, crepes, ebleskivers, waffles, pancakes, pie…. Pie fits right in at breakfast. It’s really just a super version of a pastry or scone.  I know you’re thinking it.  Just add the ice cream.  You’ve already come this far.
  3. Opening PJ’s Christmas Eve. If I could live in PJ’s full time I absolutely would (Who am I kidding? I basically do. Scrubs are just pajamas disguised as a uniform.). PJ’s have lots of pros. Soft. Comfortable. Warm. Surprisingly flattering.  There is a downside, however.  They are the magic-pumpkin of clothing.  They seem really great until the clock strikes 9:00 am.  You also can’t go anywhere in them without looking insane. PJ’s are a no-no in the grocery store.  Sorry college kids.  It doesn’t matter that it’s 1:00 am.  You look ridiculous.
  4.  Sparkling Juice. These obnoxious drinks absolutely give me a stomach ache every time but I just don’t care. It’s magic. It’s a magical stomach ache and I love it.
  5. Enjoying the ridiculous amount of junk food sent to the office. I seriously get fat just on those gift baskets. Last week we got one that was stock full of full sized candy bars.  Once an oral surgeon sent us a ham dinner. Specialists in the dental world don’t have to spend money on marketing—just networking. Networking apparently involves peanut brittle and costco sized bags of Brookstone dark chocolate covered fruit snacks. Why? Why would dentists send these things to each other? In what universe does that make sense?
  6.  Telling the Christmas Story. It seems that others have a rhythm about this tradition, a day or time they try to fit it in, a way they tell it, props or ornaments. We don’t. It just makes it’s way in. With kids around it seems to be told many times, many different ways throughout the season. Christmas comes as more of a recap, a reminder of why we do what we do.
  7. Hickory Farms Beef Stick. Yes friends, I just jumped from Christ to beef stick. That’s Christmas for you! My husband talks me into buying beef stick. Every. Year. Every year I begrudge the purchase. And every year I end up realizing that I am not actually sick of it I just forgot about my addiction. I admit that hickory farms has earned its monopoly in the processed portion of Christmas.  Yes, Ryan, you may use this post against me next year to leverage more beef stick purchasing power.
  8. Shopping on Christmas Eve. This is a non-intentional tradition. Actually I typically intend not to honor it and go to great lengths to avoid it. Unfortunately my brain does not work that way. The last minute is my hay day, my most decisive, productive and creative. You don’t want to do something? Well you are out of time sister. Place is closed tomorrow. The time is now!

What are your favorite holiday traditions?

Santa Lives at Bass Pro Shops

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Since early on in our marriage we have debated the pros and cons of Santa Claus each holiday season. You’d think all that angst over 10 years would have let to something substantial but, alas, we never committed to anything. Neither of us held much of a stance one way or another. What we talked about mostly was fear. Fear of creating a situation of mistrust with our kids or fear of ruining the fun or, worse, creating a little grinch whistle blower.. Each year these cons would make their way back into our minds and each year we’d briefly act like we were trying to solve the problem then gladly put off the decision another year. That’s Future Ryan and Maria’s problem. Let them deal with it.

Well the First Year That Matters has arrived! Our child is 2 1/2. She speaks in full sentences and asks lots and lots of questions. Do you think we were successful this year in our decision making? Nope. We non-decided to let the natural course of things take over. She came to a pretty logical conclusion. Our daughter now believes that the bearded ole jolly who lives at Bass Pro Shop will be coming over on Christmas. To do what? I’m not sure she’s thought that through yet.

Last year a friend of mine said their 4 year old was completely terrified on Christmas Eve. “Please Mom! Please text Santa and tell him not to come in our house!” The idea of a stranger sneaking around their personal space was completely freaky to him. As it should be, right?! No amount of reassuring made any difference: He couldn’t fall asleep until the text was sent with a request: Please leave the presents in the front yard (where they belong).

Santa obliged.

Does Santa Claus come to your house? What holiday traditions do you celebrate? Comment here!

Much thanks to picture found here 

Christmas Calendar Monster

Growing up my family was always excited for December 1st: the first day of counting. Mom pulled out all the Christmas decorations right after Thanksgiving. You can be the house was already in the mood. The tree may or may not have been in place yet. I don’t remember. We did a real one back then so it may have been closer to Christmas. Who does that now? Do you? Someone must still be willing to strap those suckers to the roofs of their cars and cram them through the threshold to pose them in their final resting place. To be fair the fate of store bought trees had already been decided. You know, no roots and all. Might as well dress em up and make a good go of it.

We usually reserved a the corner next to the hearth for our live (dying) tree. Seems a bit cruel, really. Just to be real festive we’ll burn a few of your friends!

It was in this spirit that we started counting advent style. Our calendar was a large felt Christmas tree. Our greedy little hands fished out small felt ornaments to decorate the tree, one by one, day by day. As the tree grew more festive so did we and the excitement in the house did too. The daily job was envied and shared equally among the kids. When the job fell to me was mine I rushed home from school and as the youngest (and naturally the cutest/most manipulative) I finagled a few extra days away from my three gracious siblings.

Advent-Calendar

My parents have kept that calender in excellent shape and the Grandkids now get to enjoy the felty green excitement of counting. The other day my mom and Anne were looking at all the ornaments. Anne had correctly identified the stars, gingerbred men, presents, globe ornaments and birds when they came across the following:


Grandma: What is this one?
Anne: (Very matter-of-factly) A monster. (Which is pronounced much more like the mou in mouse: “Mou-nster”)

If only I had realized sooner! The advent calendar has a rogue monster ornament. I think it belongs.