Thursday, September 8, 2016

Inner Monologue

When you get the kind of news that nobody likes to get, the kind that stops you in your tracks and makes you re-think your ways and your habits and your life, the kind that helps regrets to surface and hope to disappear, it doesn't feel right that life goes on all around you as if nothing has changed.

I want to stop people in parking lots, in stores, on bike trails, at schools, and tell them what is happening. I want to tell them to stop acting like life is normal. I mean, how can everyone just go on doing normal everyday things when something so horrible is happening just under their noses?

Why do I have to keep on doing all the things that I always do - making meals, doing laundry, driving people where they need to be, shopping for food or clothes or school supplies or anything when all I really want to do is sit in my bed and read or sleep or eat copious amounts of ice cream or chocolate or nothing at all.

It seems unfair that I have to continue to act like everything is normal when it's not.

Sleep is such a beautiful escape. But then I have to wake up.

16 years ago this August my father was diagnosed with the worst kind of cancer in his brain and given months to live. Cancer in the brain. It makes me think of some terrible creature, living inside of his head, eating away at whatever it sees. Devouring his memories, his abilities, his life. He made it almost to the end of January.

16 years later, on the first day of September, my mother is diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Stage 3.

I always choose to find the good in the bad. I always choose to find happiness when there is sadness. But this time it is not so easy. It is almost too much. I find myself crying when I least expect it. I no longer control my emotions, it's like they control me.

My brother told me that, if you think about it, cancer is a gift. I could have been told that my mother was in a horrible accident and died. Instead, we are given the gift of time. And it's true. More time with her is a beautiful thing. But some days it is hard to see beyond this cancer that has taken up residence inside of her without permission.

So, I wear my smiling mask and I wait.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Monster Inside

Around 30 years ago I would often lay awake at bedtime or wake in the middle of the night, unable to sleep, with a song or a poem taking shape in my mind. I quickly learned that I would not be able to sleep until I woke up and wrote out the words in my head. The last time that happened was sometime before I moved from California to Utah.

Fast forward to Friday night two weeks ago, when it happened again. The sensation was familiar but it was an experience I had all but forgotten. It took me a while to realize that I wouldn't be able to fall asleep until the words were written down somewhere besides my brain, so I got up and wrote.

The Monster Inside

This shell that I wear
A facade, at best
Just houses a monster
Awake or at rest

(There is rarely any in-between)

On terrible days
The facade starts to break
And the monster inside
Is alive and awake

(It seems to have a mind of its own)

My guard is let down
As each piece falls away
The monster controls
All I do, all I say

(There is no going back once it's done)

My shell cracked so easily
It makes me feel sick
I'll rebuild - a fortress
Of mortar and brick

(Then pray that it holds)

They call me their friend
But what if they see
This monster that lives
And breathes inside of me?

(I never can let me be completely me)

The monster is arrogance,
Impatience and defeat.
It is anger, pride, contention,
Hatred, loathing, fear, deceit.

And walls or none, the monster's fate is completely up to me.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Make Way For Ducklings

Bad photo timing for one little duckie.

Yesterday the kids came in from the back yard full of squealy voices and excitement. 

"Mooooooom! There's a mother duck and a bunch of her babies in our backyard! OHMYGOSHTHEYARESOCUTE!!"

So of course I had to investigate. And sure enough...

They were so adorable to watch! Wherever Mama duck went, all her little babies would follow. When Mama stopped, they stopped. When Mama sat, they sat. When Mama walked, they walked. 

I am not sure how in the world they ended up in our backyard, or even in our neighborhood for that matter. I actually saw a mother duck crossing a busy road with her ducklings about a month ago. Cars were stopped, there was traffic backed up, and I couldn't see why except that there were two guys in the road. When we started moving again, there they were - mother duck and babies waddling down the sidewalk, unharmed.

And because I know God teaches me in parables, I wondered if there was a lesson in all of this for me. Here's what I decided. Just like those baby ducklings, my kids watch everything I do. Their actions are a reflection of my actions. I love when I see them doing the things that I love, like music and theater and reading and writing. But I don't love it so much when they do things like put themselves down or speak unkindly to others. If I'm being honest, both the good and the bad are a reflection of what they see me do.  

So, like this mother duck that visited our backyard for a while yesterday, I need to remember that my babies (they love being called that) are watching, listening and learning from every thing that I do. I'm not saying that I need to take personal responsibility for every bad choice they make, because they ultimately decide for themselves what they will or will not do, but I can try my best to be an influence for good and hope it guides them in their choices.

I love how you can see the duckling trying to jump onto the platform at :05 and the mom just waits for the little guy to figure out what to do. Then at about :11 he comes running in from the side.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Mother's Day 2016

Mother's Day was one of my favorite Sundays this year, mostly because Allen didn't have to go to church early or stay late. He made me breakfast AND dinner, plus all of the women were treated to a luncheon at church. Elle made some homemade bread to go with dinner as well as a Boston Cream cake for dessert. Which means I got to eat food I didn't make ALL DAY. I loved that. I can't remember the last time that has happened.

The kids all made cards for their moms in the children's primary class at church and since I have 4 kids in Primary, I got 4 cards. Hubba drew me a cool rocket ship. Little X's got sat on, so the Reeses Peanut Butter Cup in the middle of his sun was a little melty and flat. But here's what I got from Curly:

And from Little O:
(Pretty sure he doesn't have another mom.)

I also got to talk on the phone with Julia (my adorable sister missionary daughter)! She tried to skype with us, so we got to see her for a few minutes, but the screen kept freezing up and the connection kept dropping, so we ultimately resorted to the telephone, and it was awesome. She is doing great and loving what she's doing.

Allen and Kia also skyped in from Texas, where they are living for the summer while he does an internship there. 

So, yeah, it was pretty grand. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Case of the Punctured Pointer (and the Split Spectacles)

Cowgirl called me from school yesterday afternoon. Here's how the conversation went:

Me: Hello?

Cowgirl: Hey Mom! It's Cowgirl. So, I guess you need to come pick me up from school because I was sewing and a needle went in my finger. (Laughter.)

Me: So, like, you sewed through your finger? Or it poked your finger?

Cowgirl: Yeah, I pretty much sewed through my finger. (Laughter.) And I guess they want you to come pick me up from school?

Me: Um, yeah. OK. On my way.

Then I called the doctor's office to see what they thought I would need to do. Because I've poked my finger with a needle while sewing before and yes, it hurts, but it eventually just heals. They checked on her tetanus shots and she was current there. Then they asked, "Did the needle actually puncture her finger? Did it go all the way through?" Well, I wasn't sure. So I called the school back.

Me: Hi, this is Cowgirl's mom. She's a student who got poked by a needle?

Office Gal: Oh, yes, she's right here!

Me: She said I need to come and get her, but I'm kind of unclear on some details. Like, did the needle actually puncture her finger? Because she's all current on her tetanus shots and everything.

Office Gal: Oh! You definitely want to come get her. She needs to be seen by a doctor to get the needle out.

Me: Get it out?

Office Gal: Yes! It broke off into her finger. It went all the way through her finger and the end is sticking out!

Me: Thank you. Yeah. I'm on my way.

So, long story short, Cowgirl pulled her hand away when the needle went through her finger and the end of it broke off. There was lots of giddy excitement at the doctor's office among the staff and Cowgirl (I'm not even kidding) and the needle came out nice and easy and then we got an x-ray to make sure there were no needle-pieces left in her finger (all clear!) and now we just need to soak the finger a few times a day and put some ointment on it and she'll be just fine.

The most amazing thing to me was how well she handled the whole thing. Not even one bit of freaking out. She was more fascinated than anything. She even insisted on going back to school after everything was checked out and given the all-clear.

UPDATE: Apparently there was not enough excitement at our house yesterday. I needed to do my grocery shopping yesterday but was sidetracked by Cowgirl's mishap so I ran to pick up some essentials after getting the kids home from school. When I arrived home Hubba told me that he and Princess were playing very gently with a lightsaber and somehow his glasses broke. 

Of course he is my only child who needs glasses full-time to function. The good news was that the warranty on these expires in two days (nice timing!) so the repairs (complete replacement of the frame) will be free. The bad news is he will be without glasses for at least a week.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Quick Quips

From the mouth of Little X:

Wait a second. Do you know that we are actually standing on the basement's ceiling? If you think about it, that's kind of freaky.

That guy sitting behind us must be SO RICH!! Because all of his teeth are GONE! I bet the tooth fairy is his best friend!

Houses without basements are boring houses.

From the mouths of my 4-5 year-olds at church:

C: My mom saw that my feet were cold and I was sad, so she put her gloves on my feet.
Me: Aren't moms the best?
M: My mom's not the best. She NEVER put gloves on my feet.

Me: Do you choose to be happy today?
M: I choose to be like a chicken!

K: I can hear my mom outside the door!
C: I can SMELL my dad outside the door!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

They Make Me Happy

There are so many reasons why I love these two. First off, they are so great together. Being around them just makes me smile.

Kia just graduated from BYU with a Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic design. Just after graduation the two of them left for Texas where Allen T.Y. will be working in an internship for the summer. 

Also, look what they gave their moms for our birthdays. Matching bibs. Because yes, they are having a baby. THEY ARE HAVING A BABY!! Which means Allen and I will be grandparents in November. Yeah, go read that last part again. I AM GOING TO BE A GRANDMA!!!

Life just gets better and better. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Spirit Bowl

Our local high school had spirit week last week, which is a competition between each graduating class. There is usually some kind of theme that goes along with it. This year the theme was music and each class represented a different genre. The seniors were rock, juniors were disco, sophomores were rap and the freshmen were country. On Friday they held the Spirit Bowl, an assembly where they all go head to head with videos they have created, dances they have practiced, etc. Of course, every student is encouraged to show their school spirit by dressing up for the spirit bowl as well.

Cowgirl was pretty excited about the country theme and put together this cute ensemble for Friday:

All-a-Boy was also excited about the theme of disco and throughout the week was trying to decide on how to make his outfit perfect. All I knew for sure was that he would be wearing my roller skates and our afro wig. I wasn't there on Friday morning when the kids left the house, so I didn't get to see them in all their splendor until after school. Here's what All-a-Boy looked like:

I still can't get over those pants. Or the matching ascot.

The high school is about 3 miles from our house, but All-a-Boy decided to roller skate home that day - in full disco gear. I can only imagine what people thought as he skated by. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Mother, I Love You

My momma

I am back to teaching young children on Sundays. Today at church the music leader in the children's primary asked the kids to pretend they were singing to their moms as they practiced the song they will be singing for Mother's Day. So, because I do as I'm told, I did. And we sang...

Mother, I love you; mother, I do.
Father in Heaven has sent me to you. 

When I am near you, I love to hear you
Singing so softly that you love me, too.

And then I couldn't sing much more. Because I was thinking about my mom, and all she did for me as a child, and as a difficult teenager, and as a new wife, then as a new mother, and even now that I have grown children. And then I thought about how much I love my kids, which meant she loved me at least that much, too. And I remembered the time that my friend Janet and I (and maybe even my brother Chip was part of this conversation during singing time at church) decided that we would sing the words differently since our mothers are Deaf and did not sing to us with their voices. We changed the words of the last half of that verse to:

When I am near you, I love to see you
Signing so clearly that you love me, too.

I also thought about my sweet mother-in-law that I love so much, and how thankful I was that she raised the man that I am lucky to call my husband.

All of those thoughts came in a matter of about 5 seconds and I had to look at my shoes for a minute and pretend I forgot the words so I could gain some composure. Sometimes thinking of how very blessed I am can be pretty overwhelming.

But then one of the little 5-year-olds sitting in front of me told me that he loved his mom more than camels and the boy sitting next to me told me he had eaten jumping beans for breakfast so he couldn't stop bouncing on his chair and the girl on the other side of me crawled onto my lap and asked if I brought snacks.

So I was quickly brought back to the present, but thankful for the momentary change of thought.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Birthday Waffles With My Birthday Twin

Meet Emily, my birthday twin. She is one of Julia's friends who also happens to be our neighbor who also happens to be awesome. This year on my birthday (March 26th!) Allen was gone on a winter campout (we call it the Alpine Challenge because they build and sleep in snow caves and race in teams to complete various scouty challenges) with All-a-Boy and Hubba so I decided birthday waffles were in order.

Emily texted me that morning to wish me a happy birthday and I invited her to join us so I could buy her a birthday waffle, too. But guess what?! When we were ordering our waffles I convinced the guy that the nutella waffles were the special of the day (because it said so on their website) and he finally agreed to give me the deal and I told him, "Thank you! If it makes it any better, it's my birthday and you just made my day!" The he says, "I'm going to make your day even better. Because we don't advertise it, but you get ANY waffle you want on your birthday for FREE." YOU GUYS. Waffles are FREE on your birthday at Waffle Love. Look how surprised and excited we are about this news!  

Here's the rest of the crew, enjoying their waffles. Best birthday breakfast, ever.

I love his freckles.

 I'm pretty sure you can take a bigger bite than that, Elle.

Challenge accepted.


Look, I'm a monster.

Now I'm a moose!

Now I'm a super happy moose!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Where's Mom?

You have no idea how many days I wish I owned this shirt and would wear it as a signal that it was a bad day for me in hopes of garnering some sympathy. Like those days when the kids hate me (I mean, those exact words have been used in our home: "I hate you, Mom!") or dinner is pancakes or when the eye rolls are happening so often I'm getting dizzy. The days when the homework is never-ending and I am trying to be encouraging and helpful but just become frustrated at how easily distracted my kids get when they really need to be focused on something. And so many tough things happen that I can't really write about because as my kids get older it's not really my privilege to tell their stories, you know what I mean?

Anyway, I was having one of those days on Monday. Allen happened to be home filling out our taxes (bless him) and I was down in the basement folding laundry as the 3 older kids got home from school. And I heard them all say the same thing as they walked in: "Hi Dad! Where's Mom?" Then, one by one, they came down to say hello and tell me about their day and ask me questions and whatnot. And somehow, that was such a beautiful thing to me. I love that they want me to be there when they get home, even if it means I'm going to nag them about their homework. 

Some days, I wish I owned THIS shirt, so I could wear it as a way of proudly proclaiming how much I love being a mother.  

(I need to give finders credit to Elle for sharing these shirts with me on Pinterest. I love them. And her.)

Friday, April 15, 2016

For Chip

Hey, friends.

Sorry I've been so neglectful over here on my little spot in the blogospere. Having older children that move out of the house, get married, go on missions for our church, none of that makes life easier. Just different. And having almost all of my children in school somehow doesn't free up a lot of time for me, either. It just gives me more time to run errands without 'assistants'. Once all the kids are home from school it's all about homework and snacks and meal preparations and getting people to lessons and scouts and whatnot. So, we're all busy, right? I'm sure you understand.

All that being said, THIS is something I wanted to take the time to post about.

You've probably all heard me talk about my brother, Chip and how awesome and amazing and kind and selfless and fun he is. If you haven't, all of the above is true. To make a long story way too short, I put together a fundraiser for him and his family. There are more details on the fundraiser page, found here:

My hope is that this fundraiser will provide some needed relief for Chip as he tends to his son Jaiden's full-time care and therapy while the two of them are living in Florida over the next few months. If you don't know his story, Jaiden endured some terrible abuse as an infant. He was removed from his home and Chip and his wife Becky fostered and then adopted Jaiden, starting at 10 months old. As a result of some of the abuse the growth plates in Jaiden's left femur stopped functioning. He is having his final leg-lengthening surgery and procedures in Florida to compensate for the lack of growth. (If you go to the link, I explain it better there.) 


If you can help at all, you are awesome! And thank you ever so much. If all you can give are your prayers and love, you are awesome! And thank you ever so much. Also, if you know anyone you can share this with, please pass it along.

Thanks for reading this whole post. If you have any questions about any of it, ask away!

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Original Newsie

I must have Newsies on my brain. Because this morning when I was reading my scriptures I had this meme appear in my mind and I knew I had to make it happen. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

I Love To See The Temple

Last night was great. Our entire immediate family (minus Julia, who is still serving her mission on the east coast, and plus my mom) was able to tour the new Provo City Center Temple while it is open to the public. I have never seen a more beautiful interior. It is seriously breathtaking! 

Once the tour was over Allen had to run to a meeting but the rest of us got our picture taken. I was amazed at how everyone was looking at the camera without much prompting from me. And then when I looked closely I saw that Princess was DEFINITELY looking at the camera. That girl. 

You better believe this picture will re-surface years later when it comes time to make her wedding video.