Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Graduating





I actually graduated from college! This accomplishment has caused me to look back at this long journey to where I am today.

I started my college education officially in 1994, but my preparation started long before that. First, my dad was my example. He got a bachelor's and master's degree. Also, my mom went back to school and got an associates' degree. Next, I took college prep courses in high school and maintained a high GPA, always planning to attend a university someday in the future. Once I graduated high school, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do however and I put off applying to colleges for a year. I kept myself pretty busy that next year learning to be an independent adult with a car purchase and a couple jobs as well as a few community college courses on the side, not to mention a wonderful year of memories with my high school boyfriend Jody!

As that year came to a close, I began to make preparations to go to college. I looked into a few schools and finally settled on Brigham Young University. I applied for scholarships and had saved some money but wasn't sure how I was going to do it all. I am grateful for the help of my parents who let me live at home rent-free and save up for school and also my seminary teacher who guided me toward a scholarship opportunity. I was awarded a full-tuition scholarship and decided to be a music major. I loved my college experience but was unable to test into the music major since my theory knowledge was severely lacking despite my desire. I chose another major but still did what I could to pursue music on the side, performing when I could, trying out for performing groups, taking music and dance courses and also taking voice lessons. The experience at college was not only extremely fun but it was also enlightening. I grew spiritually and matured as I came to depend more and more on myself. I also managed to make new friends as I worked and kept up a high grade point average, too.

The next year, I went back to BYU as a sophmore. I came home after the first semester and prepared for a mission. I again saved up money while living at home rent-free and took off for Italy later that year (Thanks for your help Mama and Poppi)! And that was a life-altering experience for me which needs it's own blog to document! I came back and set off to finish out my sophmore year. By then, I was also trying to form a band with my brother and sister and also got married. Within a short time, I became a full-time mom to my daughter, Ashlyn and then moved to Arizona. My education was again put on hold. Music and Mothering were my two jobs, but something kept pushing me toward thoughts about finishing my degree.

One day while I was at church, I came across a flyer "Finish what you started at BYU" - I knew this was the opportunity I was looking for! I chose Psychology as my major and entered as a Junior although I was lacking many major classes. I would take it one class at a time and work on my degree from home while trying to also be in the band, a performing group in Tucson, and also be a homemaker, wife and mother. I felt driven and hopeful. I also loved my studies and looked forward to each class and the opportunity to learn. Shortly after I had begun, I got pregnant and had my second child, my son Cooper. Just weeks later, I moved to Mesa. My studies slowed down as I struggled to get a grip on my life and deal with postpartum anxiety, but I kept plugging along.

Then as I continued to perform in the band and mother my kids, I also began major therapy to overcome some emotional issues I had from childhood. This was very taxing to me and I felt overwhelmed with everything on my plate. Ironically, performing in the band was never a stress to me. For me, music has always been this way. Instead of being a burden, it lifts and eases my burdens and fills me up. It actually most likely helped me cope with all I was coping with in my life, as well as keep going with my studies. Being a parent is also stressful, but my kids were little rays of light to me at that time. I was able to feel great joy and connection with them and relish my role in nurturing them throughout their infancy. My studies also were, at times, a refuge. It was an area where I could excel and where I felt my mind expand. It was something I could be successful at when all around me was failure, stress, guilt, sadness, worry and disappointment especially as my divorce took place. This took the cake in the stress department.

Shortly after was moving twice, remarriage to my high school sweetheart and moving one more time, not to mention all the happenings in between. Somehow, I still managed to get my studying in and one by one, I kept whittling down my courses. Once my kids were in school full-time, I was able to complete courses more rapidly, but I also took the summers off so that I could put my whole self into being a mom while the kids were out of school and a new stepmom while my stepdaughter, Sarah was visiting. In the last year or two of my studies, I doubled up my classes and really booked it. This last summer I didn't take off. Instead I completed my last two or three courses and made my kids sit at home! They played Nintendo DS quite a bit and I totally hogged the computer! Haha! We did swim occasionally and got out regularly, but by and large my focus was on finishing.

It took a long time, but I finally did it... I really actually did it! I thank my husband and family, the staff at BYU - who walked me through so much and encouraged me along the way, and the grace of God... and anyone else who encouraged me, helped me and prayed for me so that I could focus on my studies and take my exams and do my best - (I got mostly A's and a few B's). And I did not do this without a lot of prayer at times as well! It has been a long journey and I am glad I accomplushed something that was so important to me. I have learned a lot about plugging away at something even though it takes a long time and how you will eventually reach your destination if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other and don't give up.

Next, I will be focusing on having this baby and relishing in her infancy and the new life she is beginning with us. And then hopefully a master's degree later on!

School has begun again!

It came so fast, but school started once again August 11th. Ashlyn and I found ourselves up several times the night before with her hanging over the toilet and me holding her hair back. Needless to say, she was not well enough to attend the first day of school but Cooper was all set! She was not happy but attended the next day no problem. I left for Utah shortly after these photos were taken with Jody, my mom, my sister Carter and her 3 kids to graduate at BYU and to visit with other family - my dad, my sister Casey and her family as well as my sister Colby and her family in Alberta, Canada.


A few postings

Sarah was baptized in June in Washington. Ashlyn got to travel with Jody to the event. The girls had lots of fun.





These next two pictures are from our last swimming "party" at my mom's house since she sold her house this summer. She lived there for about 10 years or so and we were sad to see the pool go but we have the memories and there are many. That red flower in my hair was a gift from Ashlyn for Mother's Day.


Yes, Cooper pushed Ashlyn off the diving board.


Next, Cooper's birthday at Peter Piper Pizza was lots of fun. You gotta love the tornado cupcakes his dad made.


Ashlyn recieved the most prestigious award her school gives out: "The Golden Scholar" last year for being a top student. I was so proud!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's a GIRL!

Well, we found out today that we are having a girl! Our first daughter and child together but when you add our other children it will be the 3rd girl and 4th child in our blended family! I was hoping Jody could have the experience of having a son, so we will have to try for a boy next! Ashlyn was pointing out that she was the first girl and child of her mom and dad and Sarah was the first girl and child of her mom and dad and now this baby will be the first girl and child of her mom and dad (Jody and I). Even Sarah got a baby sister once her mom remarried, so we are in a trend, I think! HAHA! We have thought of a few boy names but not girl names, so we are going to have to concentrate on that over the next few months. This makes it all seem so much more real and I am reeling from the "real"- ness of it all! I am glad to know what we are having, though. She wasn't cooperating at first, crossing her legs and "sleeping" as the technician said, but the techinician prodded her a bit and then we could see better that there were clearly no boy parts on this baby! Ashlyn commented that she thinks the baby has a "pig nose" like hers! I love the crossed leg picture and the feet. So adorable!



Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ashlyn is 10!





Run away! It's the double digits. The teen years are almost upon us! And with Ashlyn you have a reason to be scared! Here are some shots of her birthday cake and birthday party with her homies (those who live at home with her) and Grandma - a homie in her own right. I seriously can't believe she is 10! This is nuts.


video

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Ashlyn's dragon eggs


Ashlyn needed a place to put her dragon eggs - she is totally into dragons now. If you can click on the link below or copy it to your browser, she should get enough "visits" for her dragons to hatch and grow. You can click on any of the eggs to help it grow as well.

http://dragcave.net/user/gruffen



Adopt one today!


Adopt one today!


Adopt one today!



Adopt one today!



Wednesday, May 5, 2010

School pictures

I bought the kids school pictures this year, which I usually do not do. I usually take them to a studio of some kind (Target usually) and get their best smile and pose and then buy a whole bunch for a great deal and pass them around. This year, I have been focusing on schooling and trying not to wretch from "evening" sickness and so I bought the overpriced school pictures - that didn't turn out half bad! No, Ashlyn does not play soccer and Cooper did his own hairdo that day. It's a moment in time at their school that was captured on overpriced film. Or maybe it's cheap film and they just charge us way too much. Oh well. Here they are: