Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Much Needed Weekend

I am currently laying on the bed of an executive suite at The Meadows at Parkwood Apartments in Idaho Falls. As I lay here, I am thinking of how much we needed this weekend...

Sadly, the family fun was cut short a bit because my brother Aaron and his wife Holly had to pack up their kids early and head back to Boise because of car troubles. They needed her parents, who were on their way back from Utah, to follow them in case they broke down. I can happily report that they made it back home safely. Love you Aaron and Holly, we were glad to see you and your kiddies, even if it wasn't for as long as we'd hope.

I would make this a post full of "family fun" that we've had this weekend, but much of yesterday was spent waiting to take family pictures and chasing my 18 month old away from the stairs at my older sister's house... We have had a nice, relaxing visit...which brings me to the topic of my post...

While seeing family has been the purpose of our weekend visit to Idaho Falls from Preston, I think there was a much bigger goal accomplished...

I think we needed a change of pace, a change of scenery and a chance to just relax and breathe for 5 minutes.

Poor Jeff, my superhero, has been spending pretty much every day of the last three weeks filling out job applications and glued to the LDS jobs website, the state employment department website, and Craig's List looking for jobs that he is qualified for and can apply for. He probably has sent out well over 150-175 resumes and likely filled out 75-100 extra applications... and the poor guy has probably dealt with more rejection than he ever thought he would in his entire life.

I am happy to report that he hasn't once opened his computer to look at job listings (at least not that I'm aware of.) He has just allowed himself to sit, relax and play with the girls, and play a little Starcraft here and there.

Last night I went to bed so physically exhausted I could barely see straight and woke up feeling still so exhausted that my entire body felt heavy. All afternoon as we were with family I was longing for the comfort of the bed in this little executive suite because I just wanted to sleep and relax... something I haven't let myself do because I have been worrying so much.

Jeff mentioned that he was feeling the same way. Just exhausted... but actually feeling like he was getting a chance to relax and take a break from worry and stress.

In some ways, I feel like we've turned a corner. It almost feels like we can see the end of this crazy time and that we are starting to see the hidden blessing that Heavenly Father has been trying to unlock for us.

Last week, Jeff had a company in Cache Valley close to where we live call him to take their employment tests. They even had the technical college where they do the testing give him free training in high voltage safety before the test and certify him...which means he can put this certification on other job applications if he doesn't manage to land this job... which is a huge blessing because many of the jobs he's applied for have said no because he had no actual experience with high voltage (just a section in his last electronics class at ISU where they breezed over it), and now he does.  He has a final interview with them on Tuesday.

We are hoping its one of those " We're just interviewing you in person as a formality but you have the job" would be a huge blessing for us if Jeff got the job because we really can't afford to move somewhere else as a family... if he got a job in another city it would likely mean living apart for 2 weeks to a month as we save up enough for a deposit and first month's rent on an apartment or house where ever he got a job... We have a 50/50 chance that its one of those interviews, as Jeff was only competing with one other person for the job...its either the aforementioned good type of interview we're hoping for, or its a ,"You both tested really well, and we're not sure what to do so now you have to convince us" types of interviews...the kind where you just have to pray that you sold yourself better than the other guy did.

Tomorrow (Monday), he has an interview at ISU. His professors were nice enough to let him on the list of interviewees for a company that is coming to recruit new techs for a new factory they built in Caldwell, ID. They want to get it up and running and need quite few techs to do so. Because they need so many techs and are eager to hire new grads (especially new grads from ISU) we are pretty sure he will be a shoe in with his extra certifications...

At this point, while I would love him to get a job in Cache Valley so we can stay together and avoid having to uproot EVERYTHING all over again, I am just praying he gets good news and knows that he has a job this week so we can  relax the rest of the would be nice to be able to relax like we've been able to this weekend and just enjoy the time we've had together.

This weekend has definitely taught me that I am just SICK of being stressed...I am making myself ill...and its not good for me or for my family. I need to be able to function and take care of my sweet baby girls...and I need to be strong for Jeff. We help hold each other up, and I can't help but feel like lately he has had to bear more of the weight than I have. I love my superhero (and he is a one can make me believe otherwise.)

Hopefully, the tunnel we've been walking in will be completely lighted this week and we will know what we're doing and where we're going. At this point, I am relying on the Lord. I know God has a plan for us, and I know he has a place he wants us to be. I fully believe that he uprooted everything and Jeff was laid off for a good purpose, not to make us miserable. I believe he has a better future in store and we just have to be willing to let him lead us to may not be our plan...but then again, His plans are always infinity times better than our plans...

I am still stomach is still twisted in a never ending knot...but I am not allowing myself to lose faith that things will get better...but I can't help but be worried about all the stuff in between now and the point where things start to get better...bills still need to be paid, kids still need to be clothed, fed and taken to the doctor, and we still need to be able to take care of ourselves too... While I trust that the Lord will provide, I have to wonder if I'm doing all I can so that He can make up the deficit...

In a way, I guess my worry helps me to stay on my toes and keep working as hard as I can to help things to work out in the in an odd way, my worry wart ways are a blessing...even if I am so nauseated and tired all the time that I can barely see least I know I'm getting stuff done, right?


I think I need to continue praying...but I know that as I pray, He is there listening and He will make it all better...he is our Father...and that is His job. He can only give us what we ask Him for.

Hugs and Loves until next time, darlings.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Light Will Come

Any of my Facebook friends will already have heard this news, but there are family members and other friends who only keep up with me via blog, so I figured I should write about what has been going on here as well.

Last week, Jeff came home on Tuesday with some bad news. At the end of the day, his bosses called him into their office and laid him off.

Jeff wasn't surprised. He knew the company was bleeding money and had already started looking for other jobs, but, with the way they had been talking, he thought he had 3 to 6 months more before they would give him the in this respect, it was a complete shock.

We have been scrambling ever since.

Jeff was very calm up until this week when the company here in Logan that he was banking on hiring him because of how they had acted when he sent his resume in sent him a "thanks but, no thanks email."

I was pretty much in and out of tears all week last week and I definitely needed General Conference... (I am LDS, every 6 months at the beginning of April and October, we don't have our regular church meetings. Instead, we watch addresses from our church leaders via television (if you live in a place that offers it. Here in Idaho, we can watch on good old Channel 8, our ABC affiliate), streaming on the internet, or satellite at the church. These addresses have no themes, the leaders pray and give the talk that they feel inspired to give. )

I was eternally grateful for President Uchtdorf and Elder Holland's addresses.

President Uchtdorf talked about waiting in the darkness for a sliver of light to direct you on your path. While his address wasn't about my current trial. It resonated with me...and I bawled like a baby all through Elder Holland's address... he talked about faith.

"In moments of fear, doubt or troubling times. Hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited...Hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until knowledge comes...The size of your faith and the degree of your knowledge is not the issue...You have more faith than you think you do...Belief is the first step to conviction."

I keep reminding myself of this. Yes, I still have my teary moments where I freak out and wonder where the light is, but I know it will come, because we have been promised it will. Jesus said he would never leave us comfortless. Nephi promised that the tender mercies of the Lord are upon all those who believe in I am choosing to believe and move forward.

After this last week, we have pretty much exhausted all of our resources to find a job here in Cache Valley. This is odd considering what a mecca for electronics and manufacturing this area is, but, alas, my husband is either over qualified and they don't want to pay him the higher pay grade so they choose to wait for another candidate with less schooling and certifications, or he doesn't have enough "field experience" on the job.

Thursday morning, we thought for sure we were moving to Orem, UT, only to have the company call us back and say that they really didn't think they could offer a wage that would tempt Jeff to come their way- they wouldn't even give us a number to crunch to see if we could make it work...Since then, it seems like we are being dragged towards Boise.

Jeff has had several call backs since Thursday, all of them from VERY interested parties in Boise that want to hire him.

As much as we don't want to leave Cache Valley, we are trying to be faithful and go where the Lord is leading us.

If we did end up in Boise, it wouldn't be the end of the world. Its still similar to where we both grew up in some ways. My brother is there and we can live close to him in Kuna (a suburb of Boise) so we can still have the "country" setting that we both desire to raise our kids in, while having the benefits of a job in a metropolitan area.

All I can say is: Please pray for us.

Nothing is carved in stone yet. We have had offers to have offers based off of Jeff filling out paperwork, and a lot of companies saying they would call us back when they can give us a number to work with salary wise...

My biggest fear is that we won't have an offer before we're out of money to make the move. Jeff's last severance check from his employer will come this week.  Already, if Jeff takes a job in Boise, we will have to rely on the kindness of family and friends to let him crash for a few weeks until he gets his first paycheck so we can afford to rent an apartment there...and if we don't have the money, that couple of weeks could turn into a month or a little longer.

The Lord has been good to us, and I know he will continue to be if we remain faithful, prayerful, and vigilant.

Instead of being outright depressed like I was last week, there is a glimmer of hope...I am starting to see the light. I don't know where that light is going to lead me or my family, but I have faith that, wherever that place is, we will be blessed to get there in as easy a way as possible.

This song at the end of this has been in my mind since conference. It has brought me a lot of comfort and peace to think of it.

To those of you who are struggling as well, hold on- the light will come....maybe not as fast as you would like it, but remember that God has a plan for you. Your timing may not be the same as His. A wise Bishop once said, "The Lord will drag us kicking and screaming from one blessing to the next if he has to."  I am choosing to look at this struggle as a blessing in disguise. We will come out of it stronger, better, and closer to God if we are willing to listen to what He would like us to do. THE LIGHT WILL COME! I promise. Don't give up. (Believe me, I am saying this to myself on a daily basis. I'm not perfect at it yet- I think faith is a tool you won't fully grasp until the end of your days in this life.)  You have more faith than you think you do. Stand your ground with what faith you have and the Lord will make up the difference.

Hugs and loves until next time!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Better than a Restaurant: Teriyaki Chicken

My husband is a MAJOR snob when it comes to teriyaki. He felt he'd had some of the best teriyaki in the country when he served his mission in the Everett, WA area...

It has been my mission since we got married to devise a teriyaki recipe that would make him want to forget all about his WA teriyaki..

Tonight, after 2 1/2 (ish) years of marriage, I was finally successful.

Of course, I have to share...

I give you: Better than a Restaurant Teriyaki

4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts 
1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c water
5 TBS brown sugar
2 TBS honey
1/4 tsp garlic powder.

Mix the soy sauce and other ingredients in a bag or large bowl. Add the chicken. Let the chicken marinate for at least 30 minutes for best flavor (mine marinated overnight and all day before I cooked it and it was THE BOMB!)

Once the chicken is marinated...

spray a broiler pan with cooking spray and put the chicken on top. Set the oven to broil and put the chicken in. Let it cook 5 minutes and turn. (It should take about 10 minutes for the chicken to cook through, but it may take more depending on how much space is in between each piece. You will know its done because the outside edges will crisp up a bit and any fatty areas on the chicken will start to char slightly.) After its cooked, let it sit for 5-10 minutes outside the oven before you slice it so the juices rest and come back into the center of the chicken, making it juicy and tender.

*Note- if you don't have a broiler pan, a wire rack that can handle high heat on top of a cookie sheet will work, or you could just spray a cookie sheet really well and use it, it may cook faster, so watch your chicken!

In a small saucepan mix

1/4 c soy sauce
3/4 c water
5 TBS brown sugar
2 TBS honey
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Heat to boiling, then mix 1/4 c cold water and 2 TBS flour in cold water until there are no lumps. Add a few tsps of the boiling mix to this and stir again to eliminate lumps. Whisk as you pour it in and constantly for the next 30 seconds to a minute. Turn heat down to medium low and let it simmer until it thickens to your desired thickness.

** Update**I let this sauce reduce to the super thick teriyaki sauce consistency that my husband loves tonight when I was making noodle bowls. It was WAY too salty when reduced to super thick. My suggestion is to take a tablespoon of corn starch or flour and make a slurry to help thicken it, therefore reducing the amount of time its on the heat and keeping the soy sauce from attacking all the other flavors.

Slice chicken into bite sized pieces and pile some over my Fried Rice recipe (found here). Then, using a spoon, drizzle your desired amount of teriyaki sauce over the chicken.

Jeff said it was better than the one he had on his his words, "This is GOOOOooooooood!" 

Traditional teriyaki is grilled, so it will lack that "smoky" quality that you get cooking it over hot coals, but Jeff didn't miss it at all. The trick is to let the chicken marinate and turning it in the marinade so that each side gets roughly the same amount of exposure.

DO NOT REUSE THE MARINADE TO MAKE THE SAUCE!!! That is health hazard no no #1! It can give you salmonella. Make the sauce with fresh ingredients. I promise, you will be a much happier camper.

Bon Appetite until next time darlings!

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad ...Easter???

I know what you're thinking from the title...

How could anyone have a bad day on EASTER?

Well, I succeeded...Go me..

I woke up to Phillie screaming in the next room at 7 AM...Jeff was laying awake next to me and I tried to use my super powers to will him to go into the room and grab her and check on her.

Everything ached.

The last two weeks, we've been dealing with an AWESOME stomach bug (note the sarcasm) and I have been on the tail end of it. I had passed out on Monday night last week while making Phillie a bottle and ever since then, I just hadn't felt right.

Add to that the fact that I still had to take care of a sick husband, sick kids, get easter stuff...let's just say I was pooped, and then, to make things even more awesome, I had a wedding to shoot on Saturday...I was still feeling dizzy and gross, but I plastered on my happy face and spent 6 hours taking pictures, up on my feet...

We also discovered while I was sick that my birth control pills were actually making me sicker, so we have decided to go back to Natural Family Planning for my health and I have been on an emotional rollercoaster while the synthetic hormones make their way out of my system.

So, the Easter Sunday Brittany was already waking up pretty cranky.

I had agreed to play the piano for the primary while their usual accompanist was on vacation. At the time, it wasn't a big deal, but this morning it seemed like a HUGE deal.

The one bright spot I had- my beautiful, yellow Easter dress. I have been wanting a dress like this for a and flare, yellow eyelit lace...super cute...and Jeff finally let me buy it because it was on sale at Old Navy. It fit perfectly in the fitting room, and I took it and another jersey fabric dress home the day that we bought it. It had taken EVERY ounce of self control I had not to wear it immediately. I love dresses. I feel more comfortable and at home in a dress than I ever do in pants... and since I've been pregnant for the last two years, I had to give away all my favorites knowing I'd probably never fit into them again and I FINALLY had a new one that fit...

Well...I tried to start getting ready, but the girls just weren't having it. I knew I would have to hope and pray that I would have enough time to get myself ready when the girls went for their nap at 9:30 and then I would rush to get them ready in 15 minutes before we headed out the door.

At this point, I knew that we would be late if this ended up being the plan, but I also knew that Jeff still wasn't feeling well, so I thought it would be best to let him lay up in bed (even though that is where I wanted to be too...) so I could have lots of help when we had to rush.

Well, I got ready and realized I was late getting the girls up from their nap. I rushed in to beg Jeff for help. He apologized saying he didn't realize how late it was. He rushed and took a shower and bathed the girls, I got them dressed and then went to get myself dressed.

The zipper seemed a little rougher to deal with than it had at the store, but I got it zipped up...I then thought that maybe I'd like it better if I wore a white shirt under it instead of a cardigan over it (it is a sleeveless dress, and because of modesty issues and my temple garment, I have to wear it with something over or under it). Well, Jeff helped me unzip it and I tried, as carefully as possible to get the white shirt on without messing up my hair...well I succeeded in that, but ran a HUGE makeup smear on the collar...Jeff had already zipped me up when I noticed he unzipped me, he struggled with the zipper too, and I took off the shirt carefully and went to zip the dress back up..

I know I should have called for Jeff's help, but we were already running late and I KNEW church would be packed since there are a lot of empty nesters in our ward with kids and grandkids that would probably be coming home for Easter and I DID NOT want to sit in overflow because Faith would be impossible to control without a pew.

Well, I get the zipper halfway up and it gets stuck...I tug on it and RIP...the zipper breaks...I carefully try to pull the zipper down to see if I can salvage it and then one whole side comes out...I break down...I just can't...I am achy, tired, dizzy and the ONE bright thing I had was knowing I was going to look super cute in my coordinating Easter clothes with my kids...I reached for my OTHER jersey dress...I'd worn it the week before and the day before to my photo shoot. It was covered in stains and splotches from dealing with kids, but it was my only option because I have no other springy dresses. The tears start flowing, I can't stop them and I stomp down the stairs to try to throw the diaper bag together.

Jeff notices my tears, I tell him what happened and the dreaded words escape my lips, "I'm just sick of being too fat to fit in anything cute."....Now, I know this is a fallacy. I am only 15 pounds from my goal weight and I am fitting into sizes that I wore through most of my graduate studies. I know I don't look horrible, but a popped zipper coupled with feeling icky and the loss of my beloved yellow dress before I even had a chance to look cute in it was just too much ( I know, it seems so shallow, but it was more than I could take.) My hormonal rollercoaster was RAGING...

I hurried and grabbed shoes, Jeff grabbed the girls and the diaper bag and we made our way out the door...we got to church and my fears were confirmed. Even the usual overflow was full and we ended up sitting in the gym. When we got there they hadn't even opened up the curtains that separated the gym from the overflow yet because they were still setting up chairs...

As I feared...Faith was impossible to control. She stomped around the gym and made noise because it echoed (its a gym...) We finally grabbed the diaper bag after sacrament had been passed and made our way out to the foyer to sit.

Well, Faith was a ball of energy and I just couldn't keep up. Thank heavens for Jeff, who chased her away from stairs and out of open classrooms...

I made it through primary...and all the while I was festering over the stupid dress...I wish I could explain why. Its so dumb...and I felt so guilty for being so upset over it...which only compounded things because now I was feeling mad about the dress AND mad at myself for being mad about the dress...

We got home and Jeff went upstairs with the girls and I sat in the kitchen and ugly cried for about 20 minutes...I then started stressing over my anger, so I started cleaning...(when I'm super stressed, I clean).  Jeff came down and decided to make some late lunch...with the potatoes I had been planning on using for dinner. I let that one slide, there wouldn't have been enough I changed plans and put some chicken on to marinade in homemade teriyaki sauce. Jeff was getting frustrated with me and I kept crying and apologizing...

In an attempt to lift my spirits we went for a ride. I worked for the most part...I still felt grumpy but I wasn't fixated on the stupid dress anymore. We looked at a house and debated over if it would be worth the investment when we could see through the window that there was probably $20k worth of renovations that needed to happen to make it livable...and then we went to the park.

For a moment, I forgot my grumpiness. We laughed as Faith oohed and ahhed over the kite we'd gotten her as a present as Jeff flew it...and for a few moments I got to sit alone with Phillie while Jeff tried to help Faith fly the kite...I snuggled with her and played with her, making her laugh and smile and blew bubbles for her out of the bubble kit the Easter Bunny had brought her.

However, when we made our way home, and my physical and emotional exhaustion just overwhelmed me, I looked at the clock and I was bummed once again. It was almost 6 PM...if I tried to make dinner now, we wouldn't be eating until almost 8...and Faith and Phillie go to bed at 6:30/7... I started to get angry as I opened a can of raviolis to feed Faith...SO NOT the Easter dinner I was planning...

I fumed over how frustrated I was that we were once again eating processed junk on a day that processed junk should not even be an option...Jeff  tried to be supportive and understanding, but I knew he'd had it. Finally, the girls were in bed and I was fighting with the dishwasher to wash dishes and swore at it...and he told me to go upstairs...I saw his clenched jaw and felt SO GUILTY that I had not only ruined my day with my bad attitude, but his also.

I cried and apologized and he sat looking at me with a clenched jaw.  He simply said, "You need to calm down." I cried more and apologized more, hoping for a glimmer of body language that showed that he forgave me, but he sat there stern and frustrated. I sheepishly went upstairs...

He brought me up some dinner and we talked. I felt so bad that he'd had to put up with me all day.

We snuggled up and I tried to let the day roll off of me. I got out the Easter pictures we'd taken before we went to the park and tried to focus on the good things that had happened.

All in all, I know it was a bad day because I let my attitude make it so. It could have been an awesome, quirky Easter. I could have laughed off the zipper breaking on the dress and could have let myself see that it didn't really matter in the grand scheme of things...I could have laughed about our awesomely healthy Easter dinner of ravioli and Hamburger Helper...but I didn't...I let myself get so caught up in what I had WANTED the day to be, that I let myself lose sight of what the day is.

As I snuggled with Jeff, I thought of 2 things. First, the lesson from Primary...we had talked about being in Peter's shoes as he denied the Christ 3 times during the events that led up to Christ's death and resurrection, the littlest children were shocked and even GASPED when they learned this fact. They all said they wouldn't want to be in Peter's shoes as he denied Christ, that they would never do such a thing... Sadly, I was TOTALLY a denying Peter yesterday.  I let my pursuit of this picturesque Easter that I had planned out in my head come before the real purpose of it- remembering Christ, His sacrifice, and what it means in my life. My attitude made me forget the most important day of the year, as far as I'm concerned, the day that we recognize Christ's struggles for US, the day that we celebrate His love for us, His redeeming grace, that He lives again, and that He will return to us again someday to rule and reign.

Because of Christ's suffering and Atonement, I can be forgiven for my horrible attitude yesterday. Yes, he even suffered for that...and that makes me feel even worse.

But, that brings me to my next thought I had...a quote from our beloved prophet Thomas S. Monson, "Courage can simply be a small voice that says, 'I will try again tomorrow'."

So, I choose to be courageous and repent. I vow to never again let a terrible, horrible, no good very bad Easter happen. I choose to spend today thinking of the wonderful gifts that the Savior gave me with his sacrifice. I choose to focus on the good, funny, and cute things that happened yesterday- things that I didn't see in the moment because I was so caught up in the fact that nothing was going my way...and more importantly, I choose to focus on my wonderful husband and family and their ability to forgive a cranky mom for her outbursts and temper tantrums when she isn't her best self.

Christ lives, He loves us- He loves me! He loves YOU..and nothing you can do will change that. I may not have been perfect yesterday, but Christ doesn't say be perfect and then come to me. He says Come to me and be perfected. So, I continue my journey to him. I trip and tumble some places along my path, but he is always there to catch me and remind me of what really matters... I am a child of God. Jesus is the best older brother EVER...a brother who loved me so much that he gave his life so that I could repent, and live with God again...what an amazing and brave gift. A gift that he gives freely to everyone, whether they want it or not...

Be patient with me everyone, I'm a work in progress. God is constantly constructing and deconstructing to make me the best me that I can be...the me that I was meant to be. Some days I am better at rolling with the punches than others... yesterday was NOT my best day, but I will be better in the future, and it is a knowledge that a better me exists that keeps me moving forward.

Hugs and Loves until next time.