The Watchman

The Watchman

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Piano Guys

I have mentioned before I am sure how much I love music.  I am in awe at the power music has to change a mood, an attitude, an environment.  I am inspired by those who have musical talent since I have very little.  I am amazed at the power of music to unite diverse groups and bring people together. I know that each time I hear the Star Spangled Banner, I become a little weepy and I have noticed that I am not the only one.  "How Great Thou Art" has the same impact on me.  

For me, the power of music is most strongly witnessed in my own home.  Music has always united our family. 

We enjoy singing in the car while driving.  Our little quintet has not been the same since Wil left on his mission.  No one can quite hit those high notes like Wil.  Our bass line will suffer the same fate when Jon leaves on his mission early next year. 

We enjoy listening to the radio, but prefer the MP3 player.  It doesn't matter whose we plug in, because we all share the same eclectic tastes with Emily leaning more to Taylor Swift, while I am known to weigh heavier on Randy Travis tunes, and Wil has more Bon Jovi.  It all works.

We attend concerts together as a family.  Whether it is the band or orchestra concerts of our children, the choir or musical performances of a friend, a theatrical musical production or the concert of a group we all enjoy, these opportunities bring us memories that we long talk about and are steeped in Wixom Family Tradition, such as dinner before or ice cream after and even sometimes both.

October has been a month of these performances.  We kicked off the month with Jon's first performance with the Dixie State College Symphonic Band.  How fun to see our son performing with a group of individuals who were there not just because it is a class, but because it is a passion.  We will end the month with Emily's dance recital and Lela's orchestra concert.  How fun it will be to see these two shine and experience something for the first time.

In the middle of the month, we had The Piano Guys.  Who are The Piano Guys you ask?  Well in my opinion, they are some of the most amazing performers around - five dads from Utah who love music and who have followed their dream, but stayed true to their core values while finding success in the crazy world of music.

Our whole family loves these guys.  From their imaginative videos on YouTube to Jon Schmidt's playing the piano upside down and Steven Sharp Nelson's strumming the cello like a guitar or thumping it like a drum, there are so many things to love.  We even have a little history with The Piano Guys since Paul Anderson, producer/videographer, sold us the piano that now sits in our home.  He was great to work with through all the chaos of insurance and rebuilding.  Our family was so happy to learn that they were going to be performing at Dixie State College and I wasted no time in getting our tickets for Friday night's performance which allowed us to be on Row B.  We took quite a group: Rick and I, Lela, Emily, Jon and his friend Kendra, Grandma Wixom, Wil's friend Nataly and her parents Rob and Totty.  The days leading up to the concert were filled with their music via YouTube and CDs.

At the start of the concert we were a little disappointed to learn that Steven Sharp Nelson would not be there in person, but understood when we learned that his wife had just given birth that day.  Lela and Emily said it was good he was with his wife where he should be and Jon said it just gave us a reason to go see them again.  I thought about that and thought what a great example to my son and daughters of having the right priorities.  I want my son to remember that his family should be his most important responsibility and my daughters to have husbands who will sacrifice for them.

Even with Steven Sharp Nelson's absence, the concert was so much fun.  Jon Schmidt never disappoints.  Afterwards we were able to meet him in the lobby and Lela shook his hand.  She said she would never wash that hand again, except that she was afraid that all the sweat from being so nervous and excited to meet him had probably already washed it.  The car ride home was filled with the chatter of two little girls talking about their favorite songs, what they were going to tell their friends and teachers come Monday morning, and how they wanted their piano teacher to teach them to play upside down and with their toes.

Last night as Lela practiced the piano, she got all excited because one of the songs in her book (her teacher uses Jon Schmidt's method to teach piano) was an arrangement that Jon had performed at the concert Friday night.  She was so energized that she can play something she heard the maestro play himself.  We all got treated to a little concert.  Great memories!

Now you can enjoy one of my favorite Piano Guys videos:

And this is one of Lela's favorite Jon Schmidt songs:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Change in "Fortune"

Rick's fortune from dinner:

My fortune from dinner:

Glad that Rick doesn't have to worry about what he will do with all that unexpected treasure.  ;-)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

When Reality Hits You In the Face

Have you ever had one of those moments when you realized that no matter how tightly you held on to what is, it will not be what will be?  Yesterday as Rick and I scrambled to get out the door and on the road to Phoenix, Jon took his sisters downstairs to watch the Saturday morning session of the LDS General Conference.  It didn't take long for him to come running back upstairs and ask us if we heard. "Heard what?" we responded.  "President Monson just announced that the age for missionaries has been lowered to 18 for men and 19 for women."  I think both Rick and I responded with something similar to "Are you sure you heard right?"

Two minutes that changed many lives

Of course we turned to the internet and quickly confirmed via Twitter that Jon had heard correctly.  By the time we stopped to get gas, video clips of the announcement were being posted to Facebook and status updates showed various reactions to this news.  As we drove, I continued to read the tweets from the press conference following the conference session.  The more I read, the stronger became my testimony that this change is inspired and what is needed, as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland stated, to provide "more and more willing and worthy missionaries to spread the light and the truth and the hope and the salvation of the gospel of Jesus Christ to an often dark and fearful world."

As the mother of one son who has returned from service as an LDS missionary and another son who is currently serving, I have witnessed the hope and light the message of Christ has brought to those that my sons met.  Missionaries serve as representatives of the Savior here on earth.  They share the message of hope that Christ shared 2,000 years ago.  They offer service to their fellow men just as Christ served.  Christ set the example that missionaries of the LDS faith try to follow.

As we drove, Rick and I discussed how this change will affect many that we know.  Already many of the girls that graduated with our two younger sons have said that they are excited about this new opportunity.  Some have even contacted their bishops to start the process of paperwork and application for service.  There are many families such as ours with sons now serving or ready to serve that will have the possibility of more than one child dedicated to service to the Lord at a time.  This could place a financial strain on these families, but Rick and I discussed the opportunity it provides to others who have never had the opportunity or who are better able to afford it to step forward and receive the blessings that come from providing financial support for a missionary.  I can testify that there are blessings in heaven predicated upon this sacrifice.

What does this announcement mean to our family personally?  Jon is 18.  Jon is ready to serve.  He has prepared himself physically, mentally and spiritually to leave his home and family for two years and dedicate himself to the Lord.  In many phone conversations throughout the day, we discussed options with him.  If he could go, he would go in December.  But there are things to take into consideration - Can we handle two sons on a mission financially?  The answer to that is a cautious yes.  We had planned an overlap of six months for our two sons, a full year will present a slightly greater challenge.  What will happen with his schooling?  Jon had planned to have his associate's degree before he left.  He is willing to delay this till his return.  His scholarship will be put on hold and waiting for him in two years.  He has not progressed so far in his studies that he will face the same speed bump that his older brother did upon his return.  What about his orthodontic work?  This could be the one thing that puts the brakes on his accelerated plans.  His next appoint with the orthodontist is the end of the month and we will know more then.

I will admit that I met this announcement with mixed emotions at first and more than a few tears.  Jon is my "baby".  When he was born, we never expected to have any more children and it remained that way for seven years.  I know I have held on to his staying at home with a white-knuckle grip and have been so grateful that he chose to attend Dixie State College for at least this first year.  I love his calmness, his positive outlook on life, his unflappability.  Our home will feel truly empty without him.  Rick bemoaned that with Jon leaving, he will be truly outnumbered.  Our house will shift from a house of men that we women endured to a house of estrogen with Rick forced to hold his own.

I know that serving a mission is the right choice.  He will be blessed, our family will be blessed and most importantly, the people he is called to serve will be blessed.  So I say, "Let's get him gone!"

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Of Nightmares and Panic Attacks....

Last night I dreamed of fire.  I guess it is more accurate to say that tonight I dreamed of fire since it is still night, but I can no longer sleep.  The dream started out calmly enough.  We were hiking through a beautiful canyon - my family and some close friends.  At some point, we got on a raft and continued through the canyon floating down a beautiful river.  We were laughing and singing.  The sky was blue with wispy white clouds.  The leaves on the trees were green and whispered as a breeze gently blew.  The view of the walls of the canyon was inspirational.  Occasionally we would see deer, turkeys and other animals along the shoreline.

Then I heard it.  The unmistakable sound of a fire department radio going off and as in dreams, one magically appeared where none had been before.  Dispatch announced that there was a fire in the canyon and as we looked ahead, the gentle clouds in the sky turned into smoke and then flames were visible beneath.  We frantically tried to pole our way back up river, but knew it was a losing battle.  Someone knew of a cave down in a ravine where we would possibly be protected, so we hiked up and then down, all the time the flames were getting closer. 

We made it to the cave and hid as the flames went over the top of us.  We had water and we had food and we were safe for the moment.  Upon exiting the cave, we realized that we were standing in front of our home, but we were trapped.  Everywhere we looked above us there were flames.  Ash and burning debris rained down on us.  We couldn't escape.

I woke up.  My heart was racing.  I couldn't catch my breath.  It took me a moment to realize that the noise I was hearing was not the roar of flames, but Rick snoring.  And now it's not that I am no longer tired, it is that I am afraid to go back to sleep and go back to the dream.

I know why I had that particular dream on this particular night.  When daylight comes, I am supposed to accompany Rick to Phoenix for a few days while he attends a conference.  It should be a fun trip.  We have friends that live in the area that I can visit, in addition to the many things there are to do by just being in Phoenix.  Rick will spend most of the daytime hours in meetings and classes, but we will be able to spend each evening playing tourist together and enjoying each others company while revisiting some of the places we saw on our honeymoon.  I wish I still had the picture of the rainbow we took in Phoenix while on our honeymoon.  It was the most beautiful complete, double rainbow I have ever seen.

I know I should be excited to spend time with Rick.  This isn't the first time I have been with him to these conferences.  We have travelled to Seattle, Chicago and Minneapolis together.  We always have fun together and each trip has brought us closer together.  Each time, just as now, we have left our children in the capable care of grandparents and all has been well on our return.  

But I know that this time is different.  I have made a hundred excuses for not going.  It is General Conference weekend for the LDS Church and tonight when Jon goes to the men's priesthood session, he won't have anyone to take him out for ice-cream afterwards.  Our new dog is sick and needs to be given medicine a couple of times a day.  The girls have a crazy schedule that I can barely keep track of.  I haven't finished balancing the checkbook.  The peaches haven't been canned.  The Halloween decorations aren't up.  I start thinking about leaving my children alone, not being home with them at night and my chest gets tight, my heart races, and I can hardly breath.  Yes, I go into full blown panic attack.

Why is this time different?  You would think that after two years, the fallout from our house fire would be gone, but just like the ash and debris in my dream, it continues to rain down on us.  I know I have tried to be the strong one.  For my children's sake, I have put on a face of confidence that everything is alright, that all is back to normal, business as usual, etc.  But this is my secret - I still don't feel safe in my own home.  We have built it to be as safe and secure as possible, but I know how fragile that security can be.  The smell of smoke still sends my heart racing.  Autumn with the smell of burning leaves no longer brings me joy.  Instead I find myself looking for the source of the smell and planning an escape route.  

I have come to accept that this is probably what will be for the rest of my life.  Still each day we try to put things back to the way they were before, continue to redefine normal.  I know that this trip alone with Rick is just another step in that process.  I know that Jon is capable of cooking meals for himself and his sisters.  I know that Grandma is capable of making sure the girls get to school, dance, piano and home again.  Jon has been taking care of animals his whole life, so giving a dog medicine and making sure the fish are fed is no big deal for him.  Yet I still find myself looking for excuses not to go, to hang on to the illusion that if I stay I can be in control and make sure everything is alright.

Last night as she went to bed, Emily came to me and told me that she was feeling sick and thinks she is going crazy.  She asked if she was still sick in the morning would I still leave with dad or would I stay home with her.  I guess we will wait till morning.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What Kind of Friend Am I?

Sunday, instead of our normal auxiliary meetings, our congregation had a special combined meeting of adults and youth.  The youth were asked to speak on a publication of the LDS Church entitled "For the Strength of Youth." 

One young man chose to talk on the subject of Friends.  He shared how he liked to choose friends that would inspire him to be better, to improve his life.  He told about one friend who has strove to become a great runner.  In his mind this young man has thought, "When I grow up, I want to be like him."  This of course generated a laugh, since the friend in question is only a year older.

But this young man said something that resonated in my soul - We should choose friends that inspire us to be better and we need to be a friend that others will want to aspire to be like.  Real friends help each other grow and become better people.

A friend "will influence how you think and act, and even help determine the person you will become."  I have been blessed to have such friends and I am so thankful that my children have good friends as well.  I continue to strive to be the friend I would want to have.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I Learned a New Word...

Bleisure - The blurry line between business and leisure. (Source: Economic Times as reported in Reader's Digest.

Over the four-day weekend, Rick and I were able to engage in some bleisure time.

Here are some pictures from Friday and Saturday at the Zion Canyon Music Festival:

Terry Evans

Food Row

The Brian Jordan Band

The Brothers Comatose

The Shakers got people moving

Yes, Rick and I worked.  We drafted the kids to work.  The Town Staff and all the great volunteers worked.  It was a big party with lots and lots and lots of guests.  If the feedback on the Facebook page is any indication, everyone had a great time.  I think the Festival just gets better every year.

But we had fun too.  We played:

And we shopped:

One of the girls' favorite vendors - Scrabble Tile Jewelry

Some of the great finds the girls and I picked up.

And we ate:

We so love The Big Chill
And we danced:
 (Here are a some of the performers that had me dancing with my sweetie.  There were even a few kisses thrown in.)

The Brothers Comatose filmed at the Zion Canyon Music Festival

On Sunday, we brought home a new member of the family that we met at the Festival.

Daisy, Lela, Emily and (introducing) Sadie
On Monday, I went with Rick up and back to Salt Lake to return the refrigerated trailer the Town had rented for use at the Festival.  Eleven hours in a truck with stops for lunch and dinner, talking, laughing, singing along with the MP3 Playlist, seeing the fall colors in Northern Utah, holding hands and enjoying being together.  Yep, I still really like that guy.  And Jon and the girls did awesome holding down the fort until our return.

Today is back to business as usual and hopefully I can get a nap.  Bleisure time is exhausting.