Thursday, April 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Big Guy!

Tomorrow is Mark's birthday. I, for one, am really happy because for four months every year I have to hear him say that I'm older than him - by four months. Finally, we're the same age.

I have to be honest. I've put off doing a post on Mark, mainly because the task is so overwhelming. I've been married to him for 33 years and I'm still trying to figure him out. He's so simple, he's complicated. He's smart, yet does everything he can to hide it. He's selfless and selfish. He's obsessive and reckless. If you look up the word PARADOX in the dictionary you'll see his name.

So here are some things you probably don't know about Mark:

My friend, Shelley, claims that her husband, Tim, is the most oblivious male on the planet. My claim is that Mark is TOOblivious. He notices everything. When I go shopping, I call him when I exit a store to ask if he's found the purchase on the bank account yet. I swear he monitors it 50 times a day. He doesn't do it to control what I spend, it's just one of his obsessions. It's kinda spooky when he calls me the minute I walk in the door to ask about what I just bought at Gymboree. Definitely Big Brother stuff.

Several months ago he shut his thumb in the car door. The results were...uh.....less than lovely. It turned several delightful colors before settling down to black. He was given sympathy of course. Any reasonable person would have accepted that and moved on. Not Mark. Every day for weeks he showed that nasty thing to EVERYONE. And, he made everyone TOUCH it - like a black nail might not feel the same as a non-black nail! On Sundays he would gross out the kids during Sacrament meeting by sticking it in their faces. Eventually, people gave it and simply asked to see it. It's grown out now, except for a funky ridge at the end and he still humors himself by asking others to EXAMINE it. He's gotten some serious mileage out that nail. When this ride is over, he'll probably poke his eye out. Imagine the attention then!

When Mark gets something in his crawl you can forget ever trying to change his mind. This can be a good thing. Some obsessions are beneficial. Mark's latest is food storage. Several weeks ago he decided to take it upon himself to update our storage. Let me preface this by saying that he never does anything in a small way. For example, if you send him out for Chinese he comes back with enough food for a small army. He buys 3 dozen donuts for 6 people. I digress...back to food storage. His most current "pride and joy" is a food storage shelf he bought online. We call it "The Monster". He was like a kid on Christmas morning when it arrived. Immediately, he set out to fill it. He did. But, he didn't stop there. Lest our children be found foodless, he put together smaller shelves of food for each of them. I had to laugh when I noticed yesterday that he's added BOXES of cereal. I'm not so sure about the shelf life of Trix, but, thanks to Mark we'll have a use for all that powdered milk.

Several years ago, after returning from Hawaii, he decided he wanted to turn our backyard into a tropical paradise. When his birthday came around we bought him tiki lights. He's loved those lights. He built little PVC supports for each of them and painted them with water resistant paint. He tenderly fills their little oil containers every Spring. I have to admit that it's fun to light them for our BBQ's in the summer. They actually do add a little tropical flavor, so I can't complain about this little obsession.

Several Christmases ago he surprised the kids with the fruits of several months of labor. On Christmas day he presented each of them with a set of notebooks. One was a personal commentary he had created on the Book of Mormon. It included articles, talks, graphs, maps, and about anything you could imagine that would help in understanding the Book of Mormon. Another notebook was all about families - the Proclamation, etc. The final notebook focuses on just the atonement. Needless to say, he spent long, long hours compiling these. The kids love them and consider them treasures. I'm just impressed.

Currently, he's in the process of compiling his "stories". If the kids are like me they'll think this is completely futile since we have all MEMORIZED his stories. We joke that even Oakley, the dog, runs when he says, "Got a minute? I don't think you've heard this story". Impossible. We've heard the same stories for decades and they haven't changed except for certain embellishments that he has added for interest. It hasn't worked. Get some new material, Mark!

He loves to read church books. His library rivals Deseret Book's. I actually think he deals with Sheri Dew more than he does me. She is his lifeline to Deseret Book. I am merely his wife. I try not to complain TOO much about the space all those books occupy. I think at some point that may be the leverage I need to get that new house I want.

In many ways Mark is the husband that every woman wants. He never has forgotten a birthday, anniversary, Mother's Day, Christmas, or Valentine's Day. Not ever. He never complains when I ask him to go to the store - for the 3rd time - because I've forgotten something. He's ripped off wallpaper that he just put up - just because I couldn't bear to look at it - even though I picked it out. He fills my car with gas when I don't ask. He knows I hate emptying the dishwasher, so a couple weeks ago he told me he would take over that job. He inputs my grades for me and is amazingly patient while trying to decipher my writing, which I can't figure out myself. He just shakes his head when I come home with another 4 bags of clothes or toys for Bailey and says, "You love doing that, don't you?" Many have compared us to a annoying Chiwawa and a Bulldog. I yap and yap until I get in trouble, then he shows up and protects me. He has been my greatest advocate and has encouraged me to do whatever I want - no matter how crazy. I could go on, but his head will get too big. And, trust me, it's big enough.

Mark is a devoted father. He loves his children unabashedly. He's also a sap. All our kids have to do is give him the "look" and they get what they want. He can't bear to see one of them suffer or go without something they need. As good as that sounds, his sense of responsibility is somewhat debilitating. He worries constantly about them and when he can't think of something to worry about, he worries about that. He worries that they won't get jobs, that they won't get married, that they won't have a house, that they won't....... It goes on and on. I'm not a worrier and I guess that's a good thing. Except, I think Mark worries about that.

He loves this little red-head.

He's a good man. Happy Birthday, Big Guy!!

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Prayer for Sadie

In the midst of your busy days I invite you to log onto a blog that will change your lives - The blog is about a little girl who has had a year long battle with an inoperable, terminal brain tumor. Her mother, Tiffany, is a good friend of our family. Kelly met "Pug" when they played softball together at Utah State. She receive the call from Pug, a little over a year ago, telling her that her little 5-year-old, Sadie, had been diagnosed with DIPG, a rare cancer that has no cure and is not conducive to surgery. We have followed her blog religiously and have been humbled by Sadie and her family as they have lived the worst nightmare a family can face.

Please take a minute to read her blog. Then, hug your children a little tighter and tell them again and again how precious they are. Try not to take for granted the joy they bring to you and the miracle they are to you.

Then, say a little prayer for Sadie and her family.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Shipping Out

I haven't even boarded this ship, yet I'm already in love. I'm fantasizing about walking up the plank (okay, it's really a ramp), being greeted by a handsome guy dressed in white, accepting the offer of that first ice cold Diet Coke (sorry, no Pepsi), and walking out onto my beautiful balcony to an endless view of blue ocean.

Thankfully, this is one dream that will come true on Saturday. We're headed for a 7-day cruise to Cabo, Mazatlan, and Puerta Vallarta. This is our fifth cruise and we've loved all of them. In my estimation, it's the purest way to vacation. I don't plan to do anything more exerting than raising my hand for another drink and pushing my chair up to the table. No phones, no emails, no students, no cooking. No worries.

I'll report in after my trip, but, until then - Bon Voyage!!