James' 23rd Birthday is on Tuesday, but it looks like it's going to be one of those week-long celebrations! :) Yesterday morning my Jonny and Jessima (and Jenna!) came to surprise James with his early birthday present - putting on a nice breakfast for us. It was yummy and fun, and they even decorated our place a little bit in a birthday way! :)
Last year for his birthday, Tammy gave James a voucher for a Mexican dinner, because he loves Mexican food, and Tammy used to live in Utah where there are more Mexican places to eat and Mexican food is a lot more common than here, so she learnt how to put on a yummy mexican feed! :) The idea was that she would teach me to cook it in the process, so that I can cook them for James in the future! Because this voucher has not yet been redeemed and it's almost the next birthday, we decided to have it last night. It sort of quickly became this year's birthday dinner, and my whole family along with James' parents (he is an only child!) were invited.
Yesterday morning when Tammy came to pick me up to go shopping for ingredients, we quickly became carried away by each other's ideas and encouragements and ended up at a nearby party shop for Mexican decorations. Tammy blew my budget just as quickly, and we ended up with a good mix of fun decorations, then we bought ingredients, and even a Mexican Fiesta CD to help with the mood. By the time we were heading home we also invited a couple who are friends of James and mine to share in, so it was becomming more of a party than a dinner.
When we got back to my place we sort of
kicked Jonny and James down to the tennis/basketball court so we could surprise them. We only had 2 hours to cook this amazing feast (Tammy was aiming for a CafeRio-style meal) and clean and decorate our little unit, so Tammy cooked and I decorated so I'll have to learn how to cook it next time! We didn't get many good photos, but here's the spread (Black beans, pico de gallo, fake wine and onion black beef, cilantro ranch dressing, cafe rio shredded chicken, cilantro-lime rice, tortillas, cheese, cruch corn chips, lettuce, guacamole, fresh cilantro, tomatillo dressing, etc, etc) and a couple of other shots including the pinata (every Mexican Fiesta party should have one), James getting into character, the boys doing the dishes, and Tammy and my favourite cute little asthetically-pleasing bowl of tomatoes, limes and chillies :)
Overall it was a really fun night. Half of us (including all the boys bar dad who was tired) went down and played some sport and went for a swim, then there was pavlova for dessert and the birthday candles. Thankyou Tammy! You are the most wonderful big sister in the whole world. You are smart and funny and exciting and it turns out you can cook! :) And thankyou mum and dad for coming early to help and always being there!! And James - you are wonderful and I love you sooooooooooo much!!! I hope you enjoyed the fiesta! :) Happy Birthday! xo
When James and I first got married 23rd November 2007, I went through a really tough time. I'd always wanted to be the perfect traditional wife and mother - perfect house, perfect dinner every night, etc., but I'd never bothered learning how to cook, figuring I'd be doing it forever and I'd just 'pick it up'. Unfortunately I wasn't suddenly the perfect wife, and I still (somewhat unsurprisingling in hindsight) didn't yet know how to cook anything at all. We also didn't have children straight away like we'd planned, and I sort of crumbled around the edges. Last year for James' birthday (less than 2 months after our wedding) we decided to have a barbeque with family and a few friends, and I lost it. My mum and two sisters came over that morning to help me out (James was working and I was going to get everything ready so he could walk straight into the BBQ upon arrival), and I just sat there, not having a clue what to do. They didn't want to be pushy, so they were waiting for my cue, but I just crumbled. In the end dad came over and took me shopping for ingredients while my blessed mother and sisters cleaned our unit, and then dad did the BBQ while mum did salads, and I just felt stupid and scared of people coming over. My familiy were shocked! - I'd always been so confident and capable, but I had a really hard time when I first got married. I think it was not living at home for the first time, not being perfect, not being pregnant, and wanting soooo badly to be perfect, like my mother, like I always thought I would be, being so far from it, having a messy house and not having the time to clean it working all the time and studying, etc., whatever - a big mix of things.
I'm telling you this so I can tell you my happy ending :) Last year James worked full-time and did a TAFE diploma in Business - Human Resource Mangement. I studied full time in my last year of primary school teaching (including big pracs and internships), and worked 3 jobs part time. James is the ward Young Mens president and I'm the music leader in primary, but for half the year he was the Ward Mission Leader and I was the 1st Counsellor in the Young Women's Presidency. James played basketball Wednesday nights and I filled in for women's games in the same comp. I've never stressed much before - I could never see the point or be bothered. Last year I made up for it: 22 years of stress in one. I stressed like never before, over seemingly insurmountable tiny little bumps: I stressed about not having kids, I stressed about the relationships between me and my families, I stressed over uni, I stressed over work, I stressed about not being able to cook, not having our little unit clean all the time, not keeping up to scratch on my viola. The year went by in one big ball of stress and feeling like a failure. I don't think I've ever felt like a failure before, but this year it was like I could barely keep my head above water, 24/7, and it seemed like I kept failing at EVERYTHING! In October, I was rejected from my dream job (apart from motherhood!), which I had apparently been a 'shoe-in' for. I didn't know what we'd do next year, with James hopefully going to study full-time and I was terrified.
Fasting, praying, enter November:
My wonderful husband suggested I take a week off all work in the week after I finished uni forever and my full-time 6-week stress-filled internship, and spend some time and some of our savings, 'doing up' our little unit. Enter the happiest week I've had all year, and possibly in my life.
I spent the week cleaning our little home, and shopping for little bits and pieces to make it ours. I got a pretty quilt and put together a non-set of cushions and a throw rug, and bed-side pieces for the spare room, and got it right. I bought white and blue towels for the spare bathroom, then got matching little candles. Mum bought us a little wooden outdoor setting I 've wanted since before we got married to put on our previously depressing little veranda, as well as bed-side tables (finally! - our little 'poofs' went straight to the spare room :)). We even got a new kitchen bin - something that sounds so insignificant but has made such a difference! I cleaned and altered and cooked and fulfilled my divine role by making our home a little closer to the temple - a place of peace and refuge, a place to feel the spirit. A place no longer cluttered and confused and messy. I am so grateful for that week, for my husband for knowing or being inspired to encourage me to do those things that made me so happy, and for caring, and coming with me, and suggesting, but for letting me create, for letting me choose. For my mum for helping us out by buying those things, and coming with me some days.
I graduated from uni after 5 years and on the same day I got a phone call offering me a wonderful job teaching year 6 at what seems like a great school nearby. James graduated from TAFE and got accepted into Uni.
I turned around one day and noticed that the sun was shining. I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ carried me through this year, that they knew every second how I was feeling and was giving me all of those experiences to help me learn and grow. I know that I couldn't have done it without the Holy Ghost comforting me. And suddenly it was a wonderful year. We achieved so much! James has a diploma and can study full time! I have a degree and will work full-time. I've learnt to trust in the Lord, and am no longer crying once a day, or even once a week or fortnight because we don't have children yet! I know that last year wasn't the best time for us, and that it will happen in the Lord's time.
So last year I spent the day of James' birthday celebration sitting on a chair in our little living room, trying to distract my mum and sisters from the fact that I felt helpless and lost, while waiting for them to save me. This year I spent it with one of those sisters in a delightful afternoon of planning and giggling and shopping and decorating and cooking and preparing :)
I'm so grateful for 2008, and I'm grateful for my family.
Enter, 2009... :)