Friday, December 31, 2010

Blogging

My first year of blogging was in 2006. I blogged 371 times that year.

THREE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-ONE TIMES!

I must have had an awful lot to say that year, as I blogged more than once. In 2007, I blogged 140 times, 2008, 186 and in 2009 121.

In the year of our Lord, 2010, I have blogged a total of...

Drum Roll Puhleeeeeeeese.....

46 times.

I said...46 times. With this post it will be 47 in total.

Now, either I had nothing to say this year (which is laughable for those that know me) or I was otherwise occupied. Or it may just be that I didn't know how to put into words what was going on in my life.

Sometimes the latter was very much the case.

As I sit here in our newly finished basement family room/bedroom and watch my 14 year old play piano, I am content. We haven't had a piano for her to play on since we moved here 3+ years ago and it has grieved me. My in-laws send me birthday money each year so this year I used it to purchase a piano so my children can once again make beautiful music. My three oldest play piano and guitar and when I listen to them my heart is happy.

Happy is good.

For Christmas this year we purchased a Kindle for each of our children. I am thrilled to see them so excited about reading and finding new books and filling their minds with new ideas and adventures. They each have the scriptures on their Kindles plus books they are in the process of reading.

Reading is good.

Family can be the most joyous and the most irritating part of life. For the most part this year, it has been joyous, with a few bumps along the way. Friends may come and friends may go, but your family is forever. As I watch my children struggle through the vicissitudes of teenage-hood and young adulthood, I am reminded that to struggle is not always a bad thing. It helps you grow, painful as it may be during the process. We learn from our trials. We mature. We grow.

Growing is good.

As 2010 draws to a close (only 6 more hours left) I want to express my gratitude for the blessings in my life. For my family, my friends (you know who you are!) For those that are my friends on facebook, for that have unfriended me on facebook (thank you!) and for those that I first met when I began this blogging adventure and have stayed with me all these years. They are, in no particular order, Vicus, Tom (are you still out there Tom dear?), Mike, Richard, Suicide Blond, ,Donn, Kelly and Dave. You were the bloggers I connected with in the beginning. There were others that I met along the way but you are the ones that have stayed with me even on Facebook.

And for those that reach my blog by searching for The Infatuation Monster (which is how 90% of my readership arrives here), thank you for reading.

Happy New Year to you all. May the coming year bring you peace, jobs for those that are seeking, weight loss for those weight-lossing, travel for those who need to get away from it all (you know who you are), and love.

See you on the flip side!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I believe....

I believe that people are basically good. I see it everyday---good people, making good choices.

I saw a huge pile of food and cups with Starbucks logo on them that were given to the homeless guy on 145th today. I didn't see him, but I saw the evidence of giving that was left.

I saw a sister in our ward (who didn't see me) hand food to youth collecting for a food bank.

A young man held a door open for me today.

I believe people are basically kind and compassionate. I've been the recipient of that human kindness many times over the years. Most recently, due to my accident, good sisters in our church have brought dinners in to us every other day for two weeks. Two weeks. These are busy people with busy lives and yet they have taken time to care for me and for our family during this difficult time.

When my mother was dying and we were taking care of her, some of these same sisters came and cleaned my house.

People are good.

But sometimes people make poor choices. I've made many poor choices in my life--but I hope the good choices I've made out weigh the bad. I try. Sometimes I fail. And sometimes I fail spectacularly.

Someone asked me tonight if I believed that a man could change. If a man could find God and repent and be a changed man. I answered yes. I know that man can repent and change and become better than he was before. I know the Gospel of Jesus Christ changes people's hearts and people's lives. I've seen it. I've experienced it.

I know it is possible.

I believe that because we are sons and daughters of the Most High God, that we are heirs to the kingdom of heaven. I know that people are good---they are born sinless and pure. When someone has broken our hearts or deceived us, we can turn our backs on them and leave them to their ways or we can forgive. Forgiving them and helping them find their way back might not be easy---but it's right. We don't abandon the sinner--- Christ didn't. We shouldn't.

Personal choices are everything. There have been times when those I've loved have used their ability to choose in ways not consistent with moving in the right direction. I've made poor choices that have not served me well and I've learned to turn around and face the light again. Choosing light over darkness is always the best choice. The right choice.

I'm thankful for the ability to choose. I'm grateful for the blessing of repentance.

I'm especially thankful for the beginning of the new year and new beginnings.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Our Morning



She wasn't as nervous as I thought she'd be this morning. But then, she's usually a trooper at the hospital unless needles are involved when she's conscious. She had already been assured that she wouldn't even see a needle while her eyes were open.

And so it was. I hobbled back to the operating room with her and her nurse. She climbed on the bed and looked up at me. They'd given her the option of going to that room with just her nurse and she looked at me. Naturally she was old enough and mature enough but was I?

No, I wasn't. So I held her hand as she was given the option of strawberry or rootbeer or orange in her mask. One nurse lauded the rootbeer odor while another shuddered and said she couldn't stand that one and orange was best.

Ash opted for rootbeer. The nurse sprayed a bit of it in the clear mask and then placed it over Ashley's nose and mouth. I watched her eyes as she breathed in and out. They switched on the anesthesia and I could smell it from where I was standing holding her hand. "Smells like dirty socks, doesn't it? said a nurse. Ash slightly nodded her head.

Her eyes had been closed but then opened. Glassy and moving---back and forth. I watched as she let go of my hand and drifted off. Ushered out to the waiting area, I debated going to the cafeteria but I already hurt enough walking as far as I had that morning so I settled into a couch, put my leg up and pulled out my Kindle. I'd read several chapters in Bush's autobiography, 'Decision Points' when they doctor came out to talk to me.

Endoscopy went well, they had taken several biopsies and we'd know the results in a few weeks. He showed me pictures they'd taken of the interior of my little girl's intestinal system. Interesting.


A bit later the surgical nurse came and escorted me back to the post op area. Ash was lying in her bed, her gown off one shoulder and looking a bit loopy.



One stuffed ducky and an orange popsicle later, she was put into a wheelchair and off we went. Picture this...I had to give her my cane to hold so I could push her wheelchair. At this point I was glad not to run into anyone we knew.

So we're home now. She's resting. I'm resting. We're glad it's over.

I do so love this child.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Best Day since...since...since...

since ten days ago when I fell through some decking I actually got to go somewhere kinda fun.

The first was the Christmas party for my older sister Cheri at her new unit at Fircrest. The residents there and their families fill the dining room with mountains of food. Delicious food. Food designed to make you happy. Food that indeed gives you a taste of the holiday season while adding massive calories to your intake.

But I digress.

The food was amazing. Since I've graduated from crutches to a cane (stop laughing), I hobbled over to sit by my sister and others brought us plates of food. I helped Cheri eat, talked to family and and other families and met her new caretakers. Cheri was dressed festively, as she should have been. Tis the season, no?




For those you who don't know me, Cheri is a special person. An amazing person. I love her immensely and stand in awe of her innocence and goodness. I've been blessed to have her as my sister.

One of her friends there at Fircrest is Wayne. Every day of the year you will find Wayne sporting a suit coat, tie and slacks. Each and every day. He must have thousands of ties, but still wants more. Each year in December, Wayne transforms into Santa Wayne, complete with costume. It's a Fircrest tradition.



He's such fun. His trademark lines are "She's a peach!" and "Cher-iiiii!" with an almost French affectation. Adorable. Cheri and Wayne are great friends. I'm so happy they're finally living in the same unit.

After we left there, Lance took me to Home Depot. Here, instead of walking with a cane, I was zipping around in one of those little scooters for people of limited ambulatory skills. You know, like moi. As I said above, don't laugh. This might be YOU one day. I must confess, it was FUN! Zipping here, zipping there. They might not look like it, but those babies can corner. Seriously.

And also? That whole beeping-while-backing-up thing that I probably should have been doing my whole life? Yeah, those little carts do that too. Very cool. And juuuuuuust a tad embarrassing.

We picked out the flooring for the basement room, the base boards and a few other items. Then we went home where my amazing husband and my in-training-to-be-amazing son soon got busy in the basement, putting in the flooring and commencing the caulking.



Isn't that cool flooring? I think so. It's going to be a GREAT family room. Can't wait for the kids to have a slumber party there, play their Wii and their xbox, Rockband and any other game they can come up with. I'm thrilled for them. It's been difficult for them here because they've not had a place to go to be free and have some fun.

Here's my wonderful son helping out.



This week we'll be playing musical bedrooms. Chris is moving down to the basement, Lance and I are moving to his room, Alli and Steph are moving into our room and Ashley will finally, finally be moving into her very own room after sleeping on the floor in our bedroom for almost three years. She's so excited.

I think I need a baby monitor.


And now it's late. I've done too much today. For me anyway. I'm paying for it with stabbing pains in my leg. It's time to dream of sugar plum fairies and Christmas shopping to be done. Ok, that's not a dream, that's a nightmare.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Nativitatis apparatum interrupta

I was given some wonderful treats today---twice actually. The first was when my husband came home and brought me some goodies from my work. Today was my work Holiday luncheon. I couldn't go. I wish I could have but I did too much yesterday by going to the doc and then the hospital for my doppler exam on the busted up knee. Doc thought I had a blood clot because my leg is incredibly swollen and hard.

No blood clot. I'm so thankful my wonderful husband was there to hold my hand while the technician pressed the device into my bruised leg. It was unpleasant. Except for holding Lance's hand. I'm so grateful to have him.

So, today no party for me. However, my husband stopped in at my office and picked up several goodie bags that people in the office had given me. Such delights!

Then it dawned on me. I can't reciprocate. I have no way to do my usual Christmas baking frenzy and I feel so horrible about it. I always, always make tons of goodies for Christmas. I bake sugar cookies and spritz cookes, snowballs and sour cream cookies. I bake them to give away. This is the first year ever that I've not been able to do so.

All because of some rotten wood.

I'm frustrated. Nine days to Christmas and you know how many Christmas presents I've bought? One. No, two. My list is immense.

But I've gotten off topic. The subject was goodies. After the delivery of the goodies, dinner was delivered by a sister in the ward. Shannon made THE best cheesy taters, meatloaf and salad. PLUS, the huge tin of Christmas goodies.

Oh my goodness. Yummies. So yummy. All different shapes and sizes. My mouth was once again in a state of bliss.

And then it hit me again; I can't reciprocate.

I understand that in the grand scheme of things it's really not a big deal. It's not. I know. I get it.

And I'll be fine with it. I think I'm allowed a few moments of frustration. Also, I'm learning. All experiences are for our good. We learn, we grow and we come out on the other side of our trials all the better for them.

There. Frustration gone.

I've been decorating 30 stockings by writing names on them in glitter. They're for Christmas Eve. It's something I can do while sitting down with my leg elevated. I think they're very pretty.

Despite everything, I'm thankful I know that my Father in Heaven is aware of my heart--and the hearts and trials of my family. He's there for us and as we prepare to celebrate Christ's birth, I cannot help but say God is good.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Rockwell Moment Destroyed

(Note: the only reason I am writing this somewhat coherently is that the pain meds have worn off. I am taking this searing-agonizing-between-oxycodone moment to regale you with my hilarious evening out with the family. Enjoy. )

We were having such a lovely family moment Wednesday night. All four of our children together for Santa pictures, then a trip to the Hallmark store to get our yearly ornaments.

"Honey, we could be a Norman Rockwell painting. This is so wonderful" I said to my husband. He laughed and agreed. It's an amazingly content feeling having all my children with us. I really did say that thing about the Rockwell painting. Honest.

However, I've not seen a Rockwell moment end in screaming, blood, sirens, medics and did I mention the screaming?

That's the way our Rockwell Evening finished up.

With our busy lives it's so hard to get everyone together, even for a meal. But we have one very important family tradition each and every year for the past 22 years; Santa pictures and ornament buying. I have two very large frames that hold each memory of these events, lined up by year. Each Christmas I bring them out and hang them on the wall to embarrass my children see my children as they've grown up over the years.

So we got the picture taken, purchased it and went on our way to the Hallmark store in Canyon Park to pick out ornaments. Each year each offspring gets to buy a new ornament. We mark it with their names and when they marry and leave home, they'll take a lifetime of Christmas memories with them. I know, very Norman Rockwell, right?

We finished buying ornaments and on our way home we were driving past Country Village, which as you might expect, looks like a country village.

It was a dark and stormy night. I know, I know, but it was. Dark AND stormy. Raining too. We parked and proceeded to the boardwalk. And when I say 'boardwalk', I literally mean we were walking on boards. Tiny little rotten boards. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

My three daughters spied a boutique clothing store and we followed in right behind. I'm not big on shopping--ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you. I hate shopping. However, I enjoy browsing nice independent shops with interesting and different offerings. As my girls were ooohing and ahhing and trying things on, my 19 year old son Christopher and I stepped out for some air. It was kind of warm in that little shop and I don't do warm.

We walked out and around a corner to window shop. I told him how happy I was to have him with us and he laughed. "Don't laugh, I remember when you didn't want to go anywhere with us--ever" He then said the words every mother of a teenager would pay dearly to hear. "I know. I was pretty stupid back then. I just didn't understand" We then talked about Canon Beach Oregon and the time we took him there and he spent the entire time being mad at us. For taking him to one of the most gorgeous places on earth. It was nice to hear him say that he'd been dumb and then APOLOGIZE for how he'd acted that way.

I was incredibly happy at that moment.

We walked back to the clothing boutique to see if they were done yet. They weren't. Alli had a beautiful white coat on. I agreed we should buy it. Ashley had a shirt she liked and Steph was sporting a new hat. Ashley asked me to come outside so she could show me something else she liked. We walked outside and she went ahead of me to another little store with some purses outside on a table. The one she liked was $40. I told her sorry, but she wouldn't be going home with that purse.

I turned and walked back towards Chris, who was outside the other boutique the others were in with their clothes. I put my left foot forward and down, you know, like people walking are wont to do.

All I remember of this horrible moment is a loud crack like a gunshot and instant agony. I was down with my left leg wedged to the thigh in what felt like a vise. I heard screaming and realized it was me.

The medics asked me later if I'd lost consciousness. I wish I had been knocked out. The pain was intense. Lance had run out from the store and pulled my leg free---oh--oh--oh the pain. I was screaming and sobbing and laying face down on the wet boardwalk.

I remember hearing Ashley sobbing hysterically that it was all her fault because she'd asked me to go outside. I knew my crying was further upsetting her and I tried to calm myself so she wouldn't get so hysterical that she'd have a seizure. I tried to take deep breaths---it wasn't easy. I called out to her from the ground as the medics were working on me that it wasn't her fault. Mommy would be fine. It. Was. Not. Her. Fault.

I was on my back and rain was falling on my face. Blankets were placed on me, someone's coat was under my head and still the rain fell. I heard Stephanie asking if anyone had an umbrella--apparently no one did because she took off her coat and held it over me so the rain wouldn't drown me. I was shaking so hard, sobbing and trying so hard to stop so I wouldn't further frighten my children.

The put a brace on my leg and eventually put me on a board to get me off the wet cement I was laying on. Shaking...crying....shaking. Hands were holding mine. Some were my family, one was a lady I didn't know who leaned down to tell me how sorry she was, that she knew I was in great pain and tried to help me get my breathing under control.

The ride to Northwest Hospital was a new adventure in pain. I hadn't realized there were so many bumps in the road. Really hadn't noticed them too much before--now each one made me wince and cry out. Ashley was riding along in the front seat of the ambulance with me.

I won't bore you with every little detail now of the multiple needle pokes to get an IV going on me, or the x-ray and MRI and several shots of Dillauded they pushed into my IV to help my pain. Suffice it to say that the fall through the boardwalk tore my medial collateral ligament and tore my meniscus in two places. I'm purple from my shins up to my middle thigh. They say I'll need surgery to repair the damage. I'm hoping to see the Orthopedic Surgeon today to find out when and what the surgery will entail.

So this Rockwell Evening didn't end as I'd planned---with us all having hot chocolate around the piano while Alli played Christmas songs and the family sang along. It wouldn't have worked out anyway.

First of all--we're sans piano at the moment so that wouldn't have happened. We do have hot chocolate at the house but I guess I'll never really know how the night should have ended.

All I know is that Rockwell never painted a picture like this...

Sunday, December 05, 2010

I know I just wrote a new post.....

but as I was looking at a friend's picture on Facebook just now, I started laughing. Then I laughed harder. Giggles, chortles and some mighty guffaws.

I know there's a fine line between hilarious and hysteria. I may have inched a bit too close to that line just now.

But I swear---once you hear my reason, and if you're the mother of more than one child AND you're not overly OCD, you'll understand. I promise.

The picture that made me laugh was of a tiny infant, wrapped so beautifully in a blanket, sporting a lacey headband and bow. Only her perfectly sweet face was visible. She was swaddled and laying on a shelf. Next to her were some nicely folded pink blankets and on the shelf below her were two gorgeous baskets decorated with pink fabric with large brown polka dots.

Inside these two baskets were disposable diapers, all lined up in rows. It was so sweet and perfect and I laughed.

Can you guess the reason?

My husband did. I showed the picture to him and asked him if he knew why it had made me laugh.

I love that man for getting me so thoroughly. I'm not sure it bodes well for his sanity---but I do love him.

And now...back to the hysteria.

Starting Over

Making a decision that's wrong is sometimes difficult to see right at the beginning. After a time, you can see that the path you rejected was actually one that would have been beneficial to you had you stayed on course instead of quitting.

Sometimes it takes time, distance and maturity to see these things clearly. I'm amazed at the way my 12 year old has come to a very wise decision all on her own: she shouldn't have quit her swim team.

Last year, as she was qualifying to go to the Nationals in her disabled category, she adamantly refused to continue. She quit.

This week she talked to me before an appointment she had at Children's Hospital and told me she wanted to join her team again. I was elated---especially that it was her choice and not the decision of her parental units.

It had to come from her.

During a break at the hospital we talked to the wonderful woman who leads the Shadow Seals Swim Team. Kiko never made her feel bad about quitting and welcomed her back with a huge hug. She knew that decision had to come from Ashley.

And so it did. She's baaaaaaaack!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

An Attitude of Gratitude

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. The one day a year that we are required by law to take the day off from paid labor and labor without pay. See what I did there? I turned it arou.... Yeah. Nevermind.

It's 8:30 on Thanksgiving Eve. Four pies, 2 dozen deviled eggs, and a double batch of spinach dip were completed after my paid labor today. I'll rise early tomorrow morning to make stuffing, then stuff it inside dead poultry.

While I love the tradition that's been passed down to me--that of making mountains of food so the family can eat themselves comatose, that's not what I wanted to write about tonight.

Being thankful. Having a heart full of gratitude. My heart is indeed full and I am thankful for so many things. Here's a list, in no particular order of things I'm thankful for:

1. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (Remember, I said in no particular order)
2. My husband. Kindhearted, forgiving, giving, sacrificing, patient man.
3. Thankful that my oldest daughter has turned her heart to the Lord and to things spiritual.
4. Our kitty. So soft, so affectionate. It's my living stuffed animal :)
5. My job. I love what I do and that is just a huge bonus.
6. My Sunbeams. I look forward to their hugs and smiles all week long.
7. My cranky, cantankerous, curmudgeonly father who hides a big heart.
8. The scriptures that fill my soul when I read them.
9. For being bilingual.
10. To have grown up with a disabled sister and to have learned compassion for the
special people among us.
11. Warm steamy showers in cold snowy mornings.
12. Heated leather seats in a 4wd drive-fossil-fuel-guzzling machine.
13. My son, who has taught me how to love unconditionally and brought me closer to my Father in heaven.
14. The beach cabin where we've made such amazing family memories.
15. NCIS. Seriously. Who doesn't love Leroy Jethro Gibbs? C'mon.
16. My mom for giving me life and loving me so much. I miss her.
17. Navigation on my Droid. Honestly, I'm so directionally challenged I can get lost in my own house. Technology is AMAZING.
18. My Kindle. Ok, I don't have one yet but a girl can dream.
19. Answers to prayers---lifting of burdens and the knowledge that I have a loving Heavenly Father who is aware of my sorrows and my joys.
20. Old friends. We can be apart for years and then pick right up where we left off.
21. The ability to change the channel when Victoria's Secret model commercials come on.
22. Music.
23. The smell of fresh cut grass.
24. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I may have mentioned that one before.
25. Allison's sense of humor. That girl makes me laugh and laugh and laugh.
26. In-laws who are loving and kind and accepting.
27. A down comforter on chilly winter nights.
28. The fact that my 12 year old doesn't consider herself too old for snuggles and hugs.
29. A full refrigerator so my children are not going hungry.
30. The opportunities I have to serve others.
31. Phad Thai. Honestly--go to Thai Fusion near Northgate Mall. It's amazing.
32. Root beer. Icy cold root beer.
33. Kind people who don't base their personal assessments on someone's looks.
34. "It's a Wonderful Life". Always makes me cry.
35. Getting lost in a good book to the point where I can't put it down.
36. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Yeah, I know.


I'm stopping here. It's late and I have miles to go before I sleep.

Suffice it to say that I have been so blessed that my list could take up an incredible amount of pixels and still I would not have covered it all.

So happy Thanksgiving everyone. I'm also thankful for you. If you're an old friend, a new friend or someone who happened upon my blog by accident. Thank you.

Now go have a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup! :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Snow instead of waves...



This is what it's doing today here. Snow. Lots and lots of snow. Freezing temperatures, hovering between 27 and 28 but sure to dip down lower this evening. My day was a hectic jumble of starts and stops. Drop kids off, pick them up. Slide here, slide there. Catch a few pictures of the elusive and infamous Ashley The Patrol Worker. See?


She really tried to avoid having her picture taken in all that garb, but I managed to do it anyway. See those ear muffs? Yeah, I bought them this morning. The boots? Yeah, those too. Also, that jacket she's wearing isn't hers. It's her daddy's lumber-jack-ish jacket. At first she was reluctant to wear it, but once she felt how very cold it was, she relented.

I'm wishing it was warmer and we were out here watching this instead of the snow :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"You look so happy"

This is what my brother-in-law said to me as we walked into his house tonight.

"What?"

"I don't know, you just look so happy"

I smiled again and said, "I am. I really am"

And I am. As we were driving over to their house this evening I felt extremely content. Just having my two girls in the suburban with us, having them chat and talk and laugh with us, made my heart happy. I am blessed.

As we drove I held my husband's hand. I am blessed.

Then I turned on my heated leather seats. OOOOOH I am blessed. Seriously, if you haven't ever had the experience of sitting on heated seats, you MUST. Not that having leather seats is my most important blessing of course. It's lovely and it's cozy and I adore those seats, but that wasn't the main reason why I looked happy.

It helped of course. :)

It's family. It's love. It's listening to the sounds of my teenager laughing in the backseat with her sister. It's knowing our oldest daughter is at work and wants me to come by and keep her company as she closes up for the night. It's knowing where my son is---getting a haircut and knowing he has a job interview on Monday that has buoyed up his spirits that makes me happy.

I am blessed.

Trials come and trials go. The constant and most amazing joy I have in life is found within my family. And of course, sitting on heated leather seats doesn't hurt :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tired...

It's 11 at night and my new neighbors are dumping their glass recycle into their bins under my bedroom window. It's noisy and just a little irritating. It's also their pattern. Each night it's the same. Each and every night.

It's not that I'm asleep at that hour----because I'm not---it's that my husband is. He has to go to sleep early because he gets up at the crack of holy-crap-it-can't-be-morning-already. And it's not. Morning, I mean. He gets up before the birds do.

My new neighbors are noisy but that's not why I'm tired. My baby girl keeps me awake. Or wakes me up. Or keeps me up. Worry about what's going on with her and why she's suffering so much.

The last three weeks have been less than fun. Doctors and tests and pain and angst and worry. Does she have blood clots? More damage? No, CT scan shows no more brain damage than what was already caused by the stroke. Small blood clots? Maybe. Ulcers? Won't know until the endoscopy. Sudden onset migraines? Dunno. Let's give her four more prescriptions and see if anything stops the pain.

Side effects from one med to be negated and treated with yet another med. Round and round we go...where it stops, nobody knows.

So, I'm tired. Though I did sleep a great deal today. Mostly because every time I got up the world went round and round like I was on a carnival ride. I don't like carnival rides. I actually dislike them. A lot.

It's an odd sensation when the world is out of whack.

It feels out of whack in more ways than just my equilibrium. I hope there's an answer soon.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A tiny white coffin...

Today I drove into the cemetery under a cold wet rain and saw the tiny white coffin sitting on it's stand under the canopy. Empty chairs faced the coffin.

..oh...oh....

I parked and walked into the mortuary where the mourners were waiting. I hugged the bereft mother and whispered how very sorry I was...

Sorry that she won't be up for 2 a.m. feedings and giddy delight over her girl's first smile. No potty trainings, no first steps or sticky kisses....No first days in Kindergarten and crushes on boys...Oh so sorry...so very sorry...

We walked up the hill in the cemetery to baby land. Tiny headstones were spaced a foot or so apart in the green grass. I tried not to look down and read the names and dates as I passed them but I couldn't help myself.

Sweet Angel in Heaven....Cherished Baby Girl...Beloved son.... So many baby headstones, so much anguish accompanying each one...

My heart ached as I clutched my big black umbrella and listened as these words were spoken over that tiny white casket:

‎"Moreover, we can’t fully appreciate joyful reunions later without tearful separations now. The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life."
~Russel M. Nelson


We cannot take love out of life. To do so would defeat our very purpose for being.

So much pain...difficult to understand from our limited mortal view, but oh....oh the sweet reunions to come when tears of pain and sorrow will be replaced with joy.

My heart and soul knows and believes in the reunions to come...but oh....the little white casket... oh...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Letting the Light In...

If you look closely, you can see the tiny patch of blue sky peeking from behind the dark clouds. It's not easy to see because the dark clouds surround the area where the light shines through.

I took this on Monday as Alli and I were driving up highway 2 towards Steven's Pass. For those of you that worry, no, I was not actually driving at the time. We'd just come out of a very small town grocery store with some snacks to see us through our morning adventure.

Yes, I was supposed to be working and she was supposed to be in school. Neither of us were where we should have been that morning....but we were where we needed to be. Away and alone and under threatening darkness with small patches of light shining through. I was looking for more light for her. And some peace.
.
Once we got to Skykomish, I turned off the highway and just....meandered. It's a postage-sized small town nestled in the Cascade mountains. Alli nodded off once or twice on the way there. I'd taken her cell phone and Ipod from her when we left civilization. I told her it was time to take a day unplugged. She agreed.

Driving from the center of Skykomish we found this overgrown cottage and thought it might be a little too much for a fixer upper and the commute would kill us but dreaming about what we might do to it was fun.

A bit down the road we saw a sign that said Money Creek Park. I turned left and began an ascent that took us further and further from people and abandoned cottages and stress.

We never did find the park. What we find was a road that was two lanes, then one lane and eventually dwindled down to a barely passable lane with a great deal of damage.

We also found this... This must have been Money Creek sans park.

It was beautiful.


Further up we came to a sign that said Lake Elizabeth. Again, no park and no discernible way to get down to the lake but a beautiful and calm lake it was.

Yes, that's snow dusting the evergreens. Twas a bit chilly.

We pressed further onward and upward. I put the suburban into four wheel drive. Alli was once again asleep by this time and missed the part where the road became incredibly difficult and nearly impassable. I found myself talking to myself and the suburban as we jolted and lurched our way through one bad section after another.

She woke up after the jarring parts were over and awoke to see this beautiful place.

We talked. Communicated. Unplugged is good. No distractions. All the background noise and stress was removed and replaced with the gurgling of the creek and sound of wipers brushing falling snow from the windshield.

So no, we weren't where we were supposed to be that day. We ran away and it's ok. Sometimes unplugging, four wheeling and talking is more important than other things. And it lets the light shine more freely through....

I so love my girl.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Things that frighten me

Fake blood and eerie things that go bump in the night...goblins and ghosts knocking on your door, asking for candy. Halloween is the time of year that brings out gory movies, rubber masks and terrifying Lady Gaga costumes.

Those things don't frighten me. Ok, the Lady Gaga thing is unsettling, but she usually doesn't make the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. Usually.

I have other things that scare me. Here's the short list, in no particular order:

1. Not graduating from high school--or having to go back and do it again. I have a reoccurring dream in which I've somehow decided to go back to high school and graduate. These dreams do not end well, as I would not exactly blend with the current population of my former school. Then there's the whole I-never-went-to-a-class-and-today-is-the-final-day part of the dream. I do not wake up feeling rested and calm from this dream.

2. Having my youngest daughter suffer more damage from her condition than she's already suffered.

3. Creepy life sized zombie, monster or movie-killer mechanical moving 'dolls'. I was unaware that I had this fear until I was Halloween shopping with my husband and came across three of them that were moving and talking and LOOKING AT ME. I walked quickly in the other direction to gaze at the children's costumes. :::shudder:::

4. Political ads on television. Ok, that's not entirely true. They don't frighten me as much as disgust me and cause me to feel the need for brain bleach and disinfectant wipes. I would be scared if one of my children grew up to BE a politician. I believe there's only so much time you can spend in a sewer before you become part of the stinking ooze.

5. Spiders. Yes, I know they are useful creatures. I understand that I am a gazillion times their size and they mean me no harm. Intellectually understanding these concepts is quite different from being able to quell the squicky feelings they inspire in me.

6. Losing my husband. He is my rock, my life and most definitely the better half of this coupling. I would not be the person I am if it were not for him. People continually tell me that he is the nicest person they've EVER met. And they mean it. I am blessed to have him--and would be bereft without him.

7. Reaching the end of my life's journey without doing what I came here to do.

8. Heights. Really big ones. Very high up. I'm alright if I don't look down, but who goes up to someplace painfully high and doesn't look down? Isn't that the point? Or part of it anyway. My father suffers from this same phobia. Once when we were younger, he took us on a vacation to Banf, Canada. They have these gondolas, see?



Mom and us kids rode them aaaallllll the waaaaaay to the top. My father would not set one foot inside one of those hanging metal death traps. He said to us, "Someone has to stay down here to identify the bodies." Thanks Dad. I'm pretty sure that's when my problem started.


9. Losing my children. Not to death, as I know we all go on to the next step of our journey, but to the darkness. Do not be fooled--there IS darkness and it will do all it can to blot out the Light.

10. Becoming that person who forgets they told you a story and tell it to you again and again and again and again.

Hey, have I told you about what frightens me lately?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Writing

Some people think I write too much. Or over share when I do write. Some don't think I write enough and others, meh. They simply don't care.

I've developed a thick skin over my writing. I wrote newspaper columns for about seven years as a freelance columnist and even had a steady writing gig for two papers for five years. That was both fun and tedious. One effect it had on me was that I didn't look at everyday life in the same way. I was more observant. When something would happen in front of me, my first thought was how to put that to ink.

Now, not so much.

Except last night when my husband said he'd had the 'best breakfast cupcake that morning' and it took me a while to figure out he was in fact referencing a muffin. I immediately wanted to write about it. It was amusing, spontaneous and downright funny.

I'm not sure I have a lot of those experiences lately. When my children were younger, sure. Nearly every day there was a catastrophe that could be turned into column fodder or a silly event that begged to be written about. Nowadays it's not the same. I work outside of the home mostly now. The things I see and work with, I cannot write about because these are highly confidential issues and in reality, there's not much humor in any of the situations. Sadness, horror and despair are the order of the day for many of the people I help and there's no way to turn any of that into lighter reading fare. I wouldn't even try.

I do feel a sense of accomplishment in my work. I feel like I'm making a difference in people's lives and that in turn bolsters my self-esteem and confidence. In forgetting myself in helping others, I find myself. Hmmm...that sounds familiar. I know the scriptures talk about that when we serve our fellow man we are only serving our God. (Mosiah 2:14)

I try to see everyone as a son or daughter of God. As my brothers and sisters. It's not always easy so I ask for help when I pray that I can see each person I meet as God sees them. It's been an amazing change for me and my view of those around me.

Everyone has issues, problems, joys, sorrows, burdens. Sometimes life is extremely difficult and stressful. We're aging and as we do our health suffers, we lose dear friends and I think we examine our lives more intensely to see what we've accomplished, where we've made mistakes, how we've corrected them or if we haven't made things right we feel a stronger desire to do so. To free the conscience and cleanse the soul.

I've made my share of mistakes. Plenty. I think back sometimes and wonder who the blazes that woman was...what was she thinking. I don't know. What I do know is that staying on the right path, seeking the light, the truth, keeping close to the spirit and reading the scriptures truly does bring peace. Gratitude for a kind, loving husband who has a forgiving heart and a very generous soul, who loves me no matter what is perhaps one of the greatest gifts I've been given.

I see I've been rambling again. One thing though, if I've ever done something to hurt your feelings, or cause you to be offended, or led you down a wrong path. I'm sorry. My apologies. I wish that I could speak to you in person, but this will have to do for now.

Ah yes, the ramblings of a person with a bit too much free time on a Saturday morning after cleaning the house like a madwoman on RedBull. (No, I did not drink a red bull)

Time for me to go. Apparently there is a cupcake festival in Mill Creek we have to visit.

More over sharing to come at a later date :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thursday

Where does the week go?

Here's some good news. The bandages are off my right hand. It's been...what....7 weeks since I was in the ER with my hand in agony? All I've got to show for my extremely close encounter with the hot oil is a few scars, some new skin and a mountain of paperwork from L&I.

Have I mentioned how much I hate paperwork? Well, I'm mentioning it now.

I'm grateful it wasn't worse and it's awfully nice to have the use of my right hand again.

What other good news is there...

thinking....thinking....thinking....thinking....

There's lots of good news. We're breathing. We have a roof over our heads, good health, the gospel perspective on life and death, and everything else under these cloudy foggy skies of Seattle.

Well, the health thing isn't 100%. Alli is home from school today. She texted me from seminary, and I quote, "Mom, my head feels like it's going to explode. I want to go home". Since I am opposed to exploding heads at church or at school, I had Stephanie pick her up and take her home. I was unable to get her as I was interpreting a meeting at one of our high schools.

I won't even go into what that meeting was about, mostly because it's confidential. Secondly, because it wouldn't interest you. It did give me a slight case of the guierllmos tho.

I have half an hour before I'm supposed to be teaching a room full of wiggly first and second graders how to say 'hola' and other assorted Spanish words. I do so enjoy their energy and smiles. It's the bright spot in my Thursdays. Then I have the cooking class where I have to corral older students and walk them safely through creating culinary delights. Today we're making tapioca pudding with pineapple.

I know, what a tricky thing to make, eh? Yeah, well they wanted to make pudding and I happen to like tapioca and haven't had it for quite some time. Being the teacher does have it's perks.

I have a funeral on the 6th for a dear sweet lady and a memorial service on the 13th for a high school friend. And here I thought my age group was invincible.... I guess not.

Ok, time to run for the rest of the day. It was nice to have a moment to sit and blog. I don't get a lot of time for that lately, as you can probably tell. I have some great pictures I want to put up next time.

Onward and upward!

Friday, October 15, 2010

This I know...

Time marches on...

This week has been quite busy for me. Getting up around 5:30 each morning to take Allison to seminary, turning around and coming home to get Ashley up and running and then taking her to school. I either go to the gym before I go to work or I head straight to work. Lately I've been going straight to work. So much to do there...and not nearly enough time to do it in.

This week has been parent teacher conferences and I've been racing from school to school to Interpret for teachers and parents. I've had meetings and conferences and summits and more meetings. I'm meetinged out. Yes, that's a word. Hush.

I've had long chats with the mother of my friend that died...and I had lunch with her brother. My heart aches for them... Perhaps the ache is the realization of my own mortality coming home to roost within me. Or because it's the first of our little tight knit high school group that has died.

I'm not sure. I do know that we go on. This life isn't all there is. I know this as I know the sun will rise in the east each morning. I know I'll see Karen again, as I'll see all my loved ones that have finished their mortal probation and have moved on.

Right now I'm tired...exhausted. Sleep sounds good to me. G'nite children.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dear Blog....

I feel I should apologize to you. We've been together for several years and lately I don't seem to have time for you. I know it might sound trite, but it's not you, it's me.

Entirely me. And my circle of family and friends and work. They wring me out each day and hang me out to dry each night.

You see, I have four children. I worry. I don't sleep. I worry some more. I pray. Sometimes falling to my knees is the only way to gather up enough strength to soldier on in this war---and make no mistake--this is a war. Light and darkness on opposing sides, each tugging for those souls in the middle and neither willing to give an inch. Sometimes I wonder if I'm equipped to lead these particular skirmishes. My training seems inadequate at times, my heart heavy and my head bowed. I keep taking blows, am occasionally knocked down but I always manage to put myself back on my feet because I'm not in this fight alone. Someone is always there to lift me up. Light will win eventually. Of that I am certain. But oh....the weariness of the battle weighs on me.

Death is also weighing heavily upon me. It should not come knocking on doors of those I love so dearly. Though I know that death is not the end, it is the suffering that is endured before the soul is separated from the body that wrenches the heart. It's a kind of birthing process--ending the mortal existence and being born into the eternal. Pain is the accompaniment of death. The two walk together for a time. Struggle for breath and the inability of those on the sidelines of this process to do anything but feel helpless takes it's toll as well. My heart is heavy and my head is again bowed with pain and tears.

Work has become something to bury myself in at times, although the suffering I see there is another reminder of the war between light and darkness. Children suffering for the poor choices of others, torn from their homes and put into harsh situations through no fault of their own. Innocence taken. Darkness is the victor too often here.

I am weary and battle worn but I will not wave a white flag. I refuse.

So, dear blog, please forgive me. I've been busy. When things slow down I'll be back. I promise.

Monday, August 30, 2010

What a long, strange trip it's been....

And I mean our road trip. I should add it was wonderful as well, though it didn't end the way we'd planned. But what does? Life? No, it doesn't. They say it's not the destination, but the journey and they're right.

Our journey began Friday the 13th. For some of us it ended on the 22. For me, it ended on the 26th.

We had planned to leave early in the morning on Friday the 13th but even our beginning didn't go as planned. We left at midnight and I drove for six hours while the rest mainly slept until dawn and a nearly empty gas tank caused our first stop.

It was a beautiful sunrise, by the way.




We landed in the podunk of podunks. I'm not even sure I remember the name of this no-stop-light town with a curmudgeonly store owner who growled at us while his wife used an old adding machine atop a battered, ancient desk. We purchased crushed ice from the man and his wife and then went across the street to have a morning picnic in a small town park. We had to kill time before the gas station owner decided to show up and pump our gas. You can't pump your own gas in Oregon you know. You might blow yourself up or set off an explosion that could take down an entire podunk.


This was the main street. As far as I could tell, it might have been the only street.



This might have been the town mayor. He was hanging around looking important.



After we ate, there was more of this:



Hours and hours of that. After a bazillion more miles, we stopped at the Twin Falls Temple.



So beautiful.



After another few hours we landed in Chubbuck Idaho, land of thrills, spills and our good friends the Ericksons. We mostly love them because they have a trampoline and three handsome sons. This is their youngest, Bryce, showing off his mad skillz.



Then we were informed that we should pick up Alli from Especially for Youth in Rexburg that night instead of in the morning, so we got back behind the wheel and started driving. Again. You know, because I didn't drive enough that day. On the way there we remembered that the car top carrier on the top of our suburban wasn't latched nor locked. I pulled off the freeway right next to a wheat field.



What happened next was frightening. A cricket (the field was FULL of them) attempted to hitch a ride with us. Well, Stephanie in particular. As we were getting back in the suburban she began screaming so loud I'm surprised the windows didn't shatter in a five mile radius. She leaped out of the vehicle, jumping and screeching. (note to self: get her a t-shirt that says: I survived the GREAT Cricket Attack of 2010)


After that beautiful picture I was surprised to drive into a rainstorm in Rexburg. Enormous raindrops soaked us as we searched for the right building where a youth dance was taking place. Finally locating it, I signed my beautiful Alli out and off we went.

Genea and Doug were as wonderful to us as always as we took over their living room and some of their bedrooms for the night. The next morning there was a parade just for us! Ok, it was Chubbuck Days. (I know, isn't that a funny name?) The kids went to it and collected a pile of candy tossed from the parade cars, trucks and horses. They came back and the trampoline got a work out again. Then Doug and Lance took the girls (with Landon) up to the hills with their quads. Much fun was had by all.



Then it was back to the trampoline.
video


We laughed like haven't laughed in ages. The Ericksons are like that. Since I'd never slept on a trampoline before, I decided to give it a shot. Genea, good sport that she is, joined me even though she knew how cold it would get. After everyone went to bed, we lay outside looking up at the star studded sky watching the meteor shower and laughing our butts off. I think we fell asleep in mid-giggle. It's nice to have a friend that you can laugh with until the wee hours of the morning.

On Sunday we got up and put on our church clothes to drive south to Utah. We were going to the house of a former mission president to Brazil who is now serving as a stake patriarch. We needed a patriarch who was fluent in Portuguese to give Sam his patriarchal blessing. It was a very precious experience we had that morning.

Afterward we went to Temple Square to visit and show Sam all the beauty that surrounds the Salt Lake Temple.



We stayed for hours in the hot sun, wandering around the grounds and visiting with Sister Martinez, who was one of the sister missionaries who taught Sam the gospel. It was a wonderful time.

Later we drove to Orem to our good friend's house. Annabella and Paco are wonderful people. We visited and laughed and talked for hours until it was time to go to bed for the evening. Lance and I slept on an airbed, which became a floor-bed in the wee hours of the morning, dropping us way down. Sleep was fitful.

Thus ends my story for now. To be continued tomorrow...if I can find the time. :)

Monday, August 09, 2010



This is my beautiful fourteen year old daughter. She's about about 800 miles away from me. This is very far. Very far indeed. She's attending EFY, which is Especially for Youth with a great many other kids her age. She called me and then sent me a picture of her dorm room. She said she loves it!

I'm thrilled that she's so happy. Happy is good. Happy is much better than not happy.

I love this child, and will be thrilled to take her in my arms and give her a huge ole hug next Saturday when we pick her up.

In the meantime, I've got three other children and a job to keep me occupied, and occupied in a big way.

I LOVE what I'm doing. Totally love it. I was given high praise from my boss today, which is just a big ole cherry on top of a delicious ice cream sundae--which I'm not eating but you get the picture. What I'm doing is making a difference and helping people. It's fulfilling and exciting and I get paid nicely to do it. What more could I ask for?

Lance and I celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary on August 1st. Well, it was our anniversary. The celebrating part was earlier in the week when the two younger girls were at camps. We had such a wonderful time. We went to a movie one night and then we took a day and went to Mt. Baker. We made it to the Baker Lake and not the actual mountain but that was fine. It was soooo incredibly beautiful. See? We took a great many pictures, but I'll just post this one. Others are on my FB. Life is good.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Luther Burbank Park

When my handsome man got home from work today, we headed to Mercer Island to have a barbecue at his old childhood stomping ground--Luther Burbank Park. The weather was glorious and we brought our swimsuits, though we didn't end up using them. We had most of the area to ourselves while we ate burgers and corn on the cob and grapes. I had a Gardenburger, which was pretty yummy. Here's Lance getting things going.



Alli really enjoyed her corn!



After a nice meal, we cleaned up and went for a walk. Alli and Ash out on one of the docks.



They dipped their toes...well, Ash did.



Ash and her Daddy



Slides were next!



We had a wonderful FHE together and the girls topped it off by their big brother taking them to see the new Shrek movie. They just came home, all happy and excited about the movie.

And now, it's time for me to close my eyes. I have work in the morning. Yep, me. Life goes on...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Girls Have Camp This Week

or in other words....Lance and I have a week of FREEDOM!

I'm not sure to be happy or sad. I guess I'm a mixture of both. Today my youngest went to camp for the very first time. Tuesday, my second-to-the-youngest will go to a different camp until Saturday. Our two oldest are....well, old. They can get by mostly on their own.

This gives Lance and I FOUR ENTIRE DAYS AND NIGHTS almost alone. Nearly. Well, close anyway. We both have to work during the day but the evenings are all ours!

Now we just need to figure out what to do with ourselves.

Here's Ashley with her friend Kiera as they prepared to get on their bus.



I was sternly informed that under NO circumstances was I to hug her or otherwise become touchy-feely with her as we signed in and she got on the bus. She was adamant. I was wounded but did manage a bit of a hug before she boarded. I was worried about her ability to manage all her bags and supplies. I think she did ok, see?



They weren't much for waving goodbye, but as parents, Kiera's mom and I had to give it a shot.




This little break coincides nicely with our 23rd wedding anniversary. Now we just need to figure out how to celebrate and where.....any suggestions?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Thanks for the memories...

I'm writing this under the influence of Nyquil, so I take no responsibility for what it contains.

Last week we spent the entire week at the beach cabin. And by 'we' I mean me and a bunch of teenage girls. The estrogen levels were off the charts. We brought Cassie along (our doggie) and that only added to the hormone level.

Much fun was had by all. Alli and her friend Emily went out in a rowboat. I didn't get a picture of that but I caught them post-rowboat fun.




It was Allison's 14th birthday, which I spoke about in my previous post. This was her wish, though I hadn't intended to stay the entire week. There was a reunion planned for the next weekend and I was hoping to, you know, look halfway decent when I was to see people I hadn't seen in 30 years. But noooooo, I looked like I'd spent the week at the beach cabin. Oh well. Not that it probably mattered much anyway.

Alli brought her bestest friend with her and even though the water was brrrrrrrrrr-cold, they both went in. A couple of times even.




There were many marshmallows that were torched for s'mores.



Time around the campfire was muchly enjoyed by all.








And the reunion took place on Saturday. Not as many people came that I would have hoped, but the ones that did come had a good time. I hope.

Here we are.


These are the friends of my youth. The ones that gave me incredible, good and kind memories of what it was like to be young and trying our best to live up to the standards our parents taught us to live by. Good, clean fun and some pretty funny memories.

I hope the same for my children.

Thanks for the memories. You know who you are.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Beach Cabin Surprise

Alli wanted to spend her 14th birthday at the beach cabin. I was reluctant (no, really) because we were going over the following week.

However, I could not tell her no. So we went.

I had no clue we were going to stay the entire week.



We have friends here. (yes, I'm still here)




I'll post more...but now I need to get back to this...