Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Peace

Sunday morning as I readied my children for church, I found myself blinking away almost constant tears. I don't know why Sunday's are the hardest. I imagine it is the closeness I feel to the Spirit while attending my meetings. Even my sweet Rachel has the hardest time on Sunday, often crying her way through Primary songs with her Primary teacher daddy holding her hand.

The closing song of our Sacrament Christmas program was Silent Night. I have never heard it sung so beautifully and found peace in each melodic verse of our ward choir. But I could not contain the tears and felt a bit embarassed at this raw, personal show of emotion in so public a setting.

Later I stopped in at my mom's to help her with a quick task. I sought comfort in her arms and sobbed as she held me. Sometimes I can't even articulate what I am feeling, I just know that I feel so weighed down, so profoundly sad. The beautiful thing about my mother's love is that there is no need for explanation. She just knows. She understands and accepts.

Imagine my surprise then, when I read this today at Segullah. Of course I cried my way through it, espescially when the author writes "The loss of my father penetrates in the cavern of my chest and I carry it daily, and with even more heaviness just before Christmas."

But the article also gave me peace. Peace in knowing that my feelings are normal and understood by those who have suffered the same loss. Peace in the blessing of a firm testimony that my dad is well and close by. And espescially, peace and gratitude for the blessing of a kind and loving mother who is still here to offer her mother arms in comfort when I need it most.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Saving Grace


Tuesday night I set out into the cold dark night to make the thirty minute drive to Orem to pick up Rachel from dance. Sara Mclachlan's Christmas CD was playing on my car stereo. As she sang "Wintersong", I found myself silently sobbing at sixty miles an hour. While the song is about missing a lover, the lyrics spoke to my heart.


The Lake is frozen over,

The trees are white with snow,

And all around reminders of you are everywhere I go.


When silence gets too hard to handle,

And the night too long,

This is how I see you

In the snow on Christmas Morning

Love and Happiness surround you.


Oh I miss you now.



Rachel opened the door with her usual post-dance exuberance and immediately noticed my tear stained face. "Oh mom! I miss him too." As she quickly climbed into my lap and wrapped her arms around me. More tears of gratitude for a nine year old spirit wise beyond her years. I am constantly amazed at her perception and tender compassion for me, her mother. The one who is supposed to be guiding her.



Wednesday morning I set out to make Coconut bread for Christmas morning. Miles found his usual spot on the counter sitting next to the Bosch. I let him crack his first egg and he happily helped me count out cups of flour. He delighted in the sweetened coconut which he called "cheese" and was soon helping himself to copious handfuls from the bag. Each time I removed the lid he squealed his pleasure and sank his pudgy fingers into the sticky batter. In the end, we were both a floured-coconut mess, but I don't remember feeling that happy in a very long time. It is hard to feel sad in the midst and wide eyed wonder of a two year olds' joy. Oh, how Miles' bright spirit blesses me.



Later as I was driving Cole home from school, he told me how his teacher was trying to teach his class about the moon and it's effect on seasons; except she kept saying semen instead of season. Cole and I laughed and laughed and laughed. Each time he told the story, it became funnier as only a few of the kids in his sixth grade class understood the faux pas. It felt so good to laugh. I have come to rely on Cole's humor, his silly antics, his impressions and crazy accents to lighten my heart. He is like a breath of fresh air walking through the door each day at three o clock.



And late at night, when the quiet house brings a profound sense of loneliness as I sort through thirty eight years of memories with my dad, it is this sweet babe inside of me, rolling and kicking, stretching and turning that gives me reason to pause. Pause and relish the present day blessings and abundant joy filling my life. When sleep fails me, it is often this tiny spirit which offers peace.



These children are my saving grace. I have never felt more grateful for the blessing of being a mother. Tony has been holding me up for over three months, his efforts worthy of an entire post dedicated solely to him. But it is these four children who lift me, laugh with me, comfort me and calm me day in and day out. They give my life purpose in a time when I have felt unanchored.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Six Weeks

Tuesday afternoon I received a beautiful bouquet of flowers arranged in the glory of fall colors, perfect to dress my Thanksgiving table. I set them on the kitchen counter and immediately felt the prick of tears at my eyes. The card read exactly what I knew it would: "Happy Thanksgiving! Love, Dad"

My dad loved to send flowers. An evergreen wreath on December 1st, tulips to mark the Easter season, pink roses for the birth of each of my babies, glorious red ones for Valentines day, fragrant lilies when my heart was breaking. Always thoughtful, always present. I'm sure I came to expect it, maybe even take it for granted.

So constant was he in his practice, that his flower shop of choice sent him a large arrangement upon his death. He was probably one of their best customers.

The Thanksgiving flowers, a sweet gesture from my eldest brother, in memory of our dad, left me shaken for the rest of the evening. Some days seem almost normal as I occupy myself with the busyness of my life. And then there are small and simple things, like fall hued flowers crowding an amber colored vase, that crush me with the weight of missing him. It is a heaviness that I was not prepared for, even though I thought I was ready.

It has been six weeks since I held dad's hand and whispered my good-byes in his ear, resting my cheek against his own. Six weeks since I heard his voice or felt his arms around me. Six weeks since I've been warmed by his smile and enveloped in his spirit.

In six weeks, I've grown into maternity clothes. We've celebrated three birthdays, Halloween and Thanksgiving. Cole's football team made the playoffs, Rachel mastered her power round off back tuck, we had two straight A report cards, and Miles gave up his bottle. The Utes are BCS bowl bound (I know dad is smiling from ear to ear at their game against the Cougs), we've elected a new president, and had the first snow of the season. Life is in constant forward motion, as are we.

I know dad would expect us to move forward, would want us to get on with the show, continue to progress, succeed, press on. But did he know how hard it would be without him here? Did he realize how many things, big and small, remind us of him? Perhaps it was me that didn't realize the magnitude of this loss until I experienced it, didn't realize what an integral part of my life he was, until he was gone.

"Grief is a most peculiar thing, we're so helpless in the face of it. It's like a window that will simply open of its' own accord. The room grows cold and we can do nothing but shiver. But it opens a little less each time and a little less and one day we wonder what has become of it, only then are we left with our happy memories in place of the sorrow."

I look forward to the next six weeks, to learning the sex of our baby, to serving the homeless vets in honor of my dad, celebrating the Christmas season with my family, to entering my third trimester and taking a holiday vacation. I know there will continue to be moments of heartache and the heavy toll of missing him. But I also know that it will all be okay....eventually.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

In Loving Memory


My sweet father passed peacefully away last night, October 15, 2008. I find great comfort in knowing he is free from his suffering. I know he is happy and well. I just don't know exactly how to live without him. I'm sure it is a process and an adjustment that I will probably struggle with for the rest of my life.
"When you come to the edge of all that you've known and are about to step into darkness, one of two things will happen. Either there will be something solid for you to stand on, or you will be taught to fly."
While I cannot begin to fathom how to live with the void of my father's absence. I am comforted in the knowledge that he gave me both wings to fly and a solid foundation to stand on. Two very valueable gifts that will see me through.
But oh, how I will miss him.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Beauty For Ashes

"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." Isaiah 61:3



When you struggle with infertility for five years, give birth to what you consider a miracle baby, and then use birth control deemed as 98.9% effective, the last words you expect to hear from your doctor are "Congratulations! You are pregnant." But this is exactly where I found myself in August.



Our shock soon turned to gratitude and humility, even awe as I pondered the path my life has taken, which is so very different from the map I created for my own life.



Quietly, I have found peace in this precious gift inside of me. For with it comes pure knowledge that life goes on, that my Heavenly Father loves me and knows exactly what I need to take the sting out of my father's death.



So many nights as I lay in bed absorbed in my grief, this baby is the oil of joy for my mourning, the beauty for ashes. I know my dad is ready to go. His suffering is really too great to ask him to stay. I have great peace in knowing that he will soon be free from his pain, able to live and laugh and once again be the strong, charasmatic, happy man I know him to be.



And yet, and yet....I cannot fully comprehend my life without him. I don't know how to begin to fill the void I will feel in his absence. But I do know, this angel baby will come in April, fresh from my father's arms. I know the crater slowly forming in my heart will hurt a bit less as I am enveloped in the sweet spirit of a newborn babe.



I am profoundly grateful for this gift which I didn't even know I needed.






Friday, September 26, 2008

Broken Hearted

Dad, Tony and I at the Hope Gala


When I was a junior in high school, my grandmother, my dad's mother, was suffering from bone cancer. I remember sitting at the kitchen counter studying my biology book trying desperately to memorize all of the bones in the human body. My dad glanced over my shoulder and asked if he could borrow my book. The next day my dad carried my large text book into his mother's oncologists' office and in exasperation asked the doctor to explain exactly which bones were affected by the cancer. The doctor quietly took a highlighter and methodically colored nearly every bone of the pictured skeleton. I think my dad needed a visual to adequately understand his mother's diagnosis.

I find myself in what I imagine to be that same place of shock and disbelief. I thought I was ready. I have known this day was coming for a year and a half, and yet learning that we are at the end of the road treatment-wise has brought a new sense of grief. My dad's cancer is now in his bone marrow, so effectually, the picture of his skeleton can also be colored from head to toe. The beast he has been fighting so diligently, for so long, has at last overcome, despite his best efforts.


The week has been long and there are more emotions than words. So many moments this week and the witnessing of my dad's suffering in his final days, have brought me to my knees.


It was on Tuesday when we met as a family to try to figure out the best care for dad. He, who so rarely shows emotion, choked up on several occassions. Witnessing such vulnerability and humility is heart wrenching. I cried, which upset him. Then I felt guilty for crying. It should be me lifting him up rather than the other way around.


It was on Thursday at the American Cancer Society's Hope Gala where my dad was honored with the Sword of Hope Award. Seeing my dad in a wheelchair for the first time, smiling despite the pain. Watching him insist on walking un-assisted to the podium to accept his award and deliver a charming, witty speech more true to his larger than life character than his frail body portrayed.


It was Sunday witnessing my sweet husband and kind brother administer to him. Jon's tender words of peace and comfort which bore witness to my heart of truths I hold dear. It is watching those promised blessings and tender mercies come to fruition one by one and knowing my Heavenly Father is mindful of him, of me and my entire family.


It is the voicemail message Monday night, left from his hospital bed for Cole, wanting to dissect the Chargers game and celebrate Weddle's interception.


It was on Tuesday watching Miles snuggle with him at the hospital; Miles content to lay with him, Dad stroking his cheeks repeatedly as if to memorize his face.


It was Wednesday, watching the hospital bed be delivered to his home and then helping to bring him home from the hospital. His struggle to walk and to get into his new bed. He wore his sunglasses and neatly pressed golf shirt and shorts. He cracked a joke once he caught his breath, turning our tears to laughter. He is still the same man, but oh how his body betrays him.


It was on Thursday as I held his hand and told him a secret. His blue eyes sparkled and joyful tears leaked onto his cheeks as he winked at me.


It was last night holding the small sobbing shoulders of my twelve year old son as he grieved his beloved grandfather.


Each day brings a new moment of heart break, of remembering, of gratitude. Each day in my grief I feel angel arms around me bolstering me. It is in the meals which magically appear on my kitchen counter, the tender emails, kind phone calls and flowers. It is in the daily phone calls with my mother and each of my brothers and sweet sisters in law. It is in Tony's constant support and care of me. I feel loved. I feel lifted.


"It is imperative to remember He is right there with us as He has always been. When we weep, He and the angels of Heaven weep with us...When suffering, we may in fact be nearer to God than we have been in our entire lives...Bad days come to an end. Faith always triumphs. Heavenly promises are always kept." Jeffrey R. Holland


Even in my heartbreak, I know it is true.








Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Beautiful Life

I arrived home this afternoon to a beautiful bouquet of roses from my sweet husband. There they were nestled among the breakfast dishes, the scattered newspaper and crust from my morning toast. We celebrated our anniversary this past weekend in Jackson Hole and yet he still made the effort to make today special.

I put the baby to bed and quickly called my dad to see how his appointment at the pain clinic had gone. His new drug regimen made him particularly loquacious and he had a lot to say. At times I struggled to follow his pattern of thought and even wondered about his lucidity. But then he paused and wished me happy anniversary. "How many years?"

"Fourteen". I replied.

"Jill, you have a beautiful life with Tony. I'm proud of you. I'm proud of all the things you do and have accomplished together. Keep living the way you are."

I hung up the phone and wept. It is very rare for my dad to compliment me, or anyone for that matter. Rarer still for him to tell you he is proud of you. He was raised with the mantra that a pat on the back will spoil you, so it always, always takes me back when he sincerely and openly praises me. Perhaps his words meant more today knowing that I won't be having this same conversation with him next year on my anniversary.

I went to work cleaning the kitchen and making lunch. I visited Tony in his office and told him I wasn't feeling well. He told me to lie down, take a nap, take it easy, we could have leftovers for dinner.

I did just that and quickly found sleep, waking just in time to run the after school carpool.

The leftovers are in the oven now. Tony is out mowing the lawn with Miles close behind. Rachel and Cole are both gone for the evening, absorbed in dance and football practice. The house is quiet, rain slowly beginning to fall outside.

I am overwhelmed in the abundance of my life. Amongst the chaos of children and dishes and laundry to fold, my sweet husband would rather see me take care of myself and get the rest I need than attend to my chores. He happily lets Miles "help" him mow the lawn. He drives my carpool anytime I ask. He listens to me, he loves me, he makes me feel safe. Our life isn't perfect. We have weathered many storms and I know many difficult days are closing in on us. But I know he'll be there. I know he will strengthen me and give 100% on those days when I can only give 5%. I believe in him. I believe in us, and in the life we have created together.

It is a beautiful life.

Day in and day out.

Happy Anniversary to my best friend. Thank you for giving me our beautiful life.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Memories for Miles




A few weeks ago I was heading out the door with Miles to go and sit with my dad while he had chemo. As Tony hugged me goodbye, he suggested I take the camera with me so that I could take some pictures of my dad and Miles, so that we could help Miles remember him. His words tore at my heart as I recognized the validity of his comment. We seem to have come to a point where we need to do and say those things which will comfort us after his passing.

Reluctantly, I slipped the camera in my purse.

I arrived at the infusion lab and quickly scanned the room for dad. I wheeled the stroller clear to the end of the room trying to find him and turned around to re-trace my steps. A kind nurse who recognized me, silently pointed me in the right direction. Dad was there, quietly sleeping. I took a moment to regain my composure as I realized that it was in fact him. I didn't recognize the thin, pale, gray man as my father. I had walked right past him.

I watched him sleep for awhile and witnessed occassional slow tears leak from the corners of his eyes, tears born of pain I'm sure. Next to me in the stroller, Miles also lay sleeping, rosy cheeked and pudgy legged. I found it difficult to comprehend these two that I love so much: One preparing to leave this world, and one just discovering all that this world has to offer. The contrast was stark. It left me shaken, and perhaps for the first time I felt the urgency, the reality of my dad's diagnosis.

Later that night I went searching for pictures of my dad with Miles. This is the only picture I have of the two of them together. Just one picture taken a month after Miles was born and one month before my dad was diagnosed. It saddens me that this may be the only picture I ever get of Miles with his grandpa. There are not many days when dad feels well enough or looks well enough to want to be in front of the camera. I wished I had recorded more of the time they have spent together.

The next week I was responsible for getting dad to chemo. Miles woke up just in time to walk into the hospital with us. We waited with dad for almost two hours before he started his infusion. I was so grateful for that time. Dad was relatively comfortable having taken pain meds before we left the house, and Miles was, in a word, delightful.

Miles, I may not have many pictures of you with your grandpa Bill, but the memory of that day is forever ingrained on my heart. As we sat waiting to see the doctor, you shared your pretzels one by one with grandpa. Usually you would take a bite of each one before giving it to him...but you shared nonetheless. You offered up your sippy cup as well, but grandpa refused. Grandpa and I laughed as you emptied an entire box of kleenex in the waiting room. Something I normally wouldn't have let you do...but grandpa was getting such pleasure in watching your curiousity.

When it came time to start grandpa's IV, the nurse had a hard time finding a vein. You kept pointing at your arm and saying "Ow" and making the sign for hurt. When it was finally over, you climbed up on grandpa's lap and kissed his arm better, again signing "hurt". Grandpa lay back in the recliner and had a hard time seeing you. You stood at the foot of the chair playing with his shoes. He opened up his feet to get a better look at you and you instantly said "boo". A game was born and the two of you played peek a boo for a few minutes. I told you to kiss him and hug him goodbye, which you did without hesitation.

We left him to rest and I chased you all the way to the elevator, so grateful for your happy spirit and the opportunity you had to brighten up a normally dreary day for your grandpa. You will not remember this day. You probably won't even remember your grandpa. But I will remember and I know your grandpa will remember. Thank you for shining so bright my darling boy.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Last





My friend Courtney recently had her first baby after a five year struggle with infertility. She wrote a very poignant post where she describes knowing that her baby would come. It got me thinking to how I knew as well. I cannot proclaim the same type of faith that Courtney possessed. Many times I lost hope amidst storms of frustration and doubt. But I still knew. I knew this little brown eyed boy would eventually find his way to my arms. I didn't know how he would come to join our family, I just knew that he was coming at some point. Many times this impression I had held hope for me when I had none.

Every now and then I will catch a certain glimpse of that boy in Miles; his eyes or his smile will seem familiar in a way I cannot adequately describe. Mostly though, Miles offers me a sense of peace I did not have before he was born. I often wonder if his birth was pre-ordained for this very specific time in my life. He has brought immeasurable joy to my heart. Many days I find great comfort in the miracle of his birth. He brings a calm assurance that prayers are indeed answered, that my Heavenly Father loves me beyond measure and that trials can be endured.

It isn't that I love Miles more than any of my other children, ....but somehow I am constantly and keenly aware of what a blessing he is to me. I cherish these short days of his babyhood knowing all too well how fast he will grow. Here are 25 things I want to remember about Miles right now:
1) He prefers Tony over anyone. 2) Each morning when I bring him into our bed, if Tony isn't there he says "Da Bok" and signs Bike. Smart little boys that knows his daddy is usually on his bike. 3) He still has his bottle...because he's my baby. 4) He loves all types of fruit..especially strawberries and grapes. 5) The way he sleeps on his stomach with his legs tucked underneath him and his butt in the air. 6) The way he runs everywhere he goes. 7) How he cries whenever his siblings leave the house...he misses them. 8) How he loves my make-up...particularly lip gloss. 9) He signs more, thank you, please, bike, ball, throw, dance, milk, thirsty, imagination, dirty, clean, hurt, car, train, shoes, socks, and get dressed. 10) He says more, Cole, Da(d), Coke, show, hot, hurt, ow, wow, car, shirt, shoes, ba ba (bottle), ball and bok (bike). 11) He likes to flirt and will often cast a sidewards glance at me with his big brown eyes. 12) He loves the water..shower, tub, pool. 13) He loves to play in Daddy's office (poor Tony). 14) He gives high fives, pounds, great hugs and wet kisses on demand. 15) He loves to go...always happy to get in the car and leave. 16) He will NOT sit in his high chair and prefers to eat standing up. 17) He prefers Diet Coke over Sprite...no comment. 18) He has thrown up more in his 20 months of life then my other two children in their combined 20 years of life. 19) He loves to brush his teeth and comb his hair. 20) His favorite show is Signing Time...we are constantly renewing it from the library. I need to just break down and buy it already. 21) He prefers peanut M&M's over plain..hmm. 22) He has discovered how to escape out the front door...even when it's locked. 23) He hides all kind of things in our shutters...toys, beaters, bottles, utensils. 24) He likes to wear everyone's shoes...but hates to wear his own. 25) Right now, at this moment in time, he is my constant companion.
Love this boy. So lucky he belongs to me.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Second

Rachel and I spent the last three days up in Park City so she could attend Dance Attack which is a dance convention put on by her dance studio. This year her instructors included Nick Lazzarini, Travis Wall, Cameron Binks and Sabra Johnson from So You Think You Can Dance. Being among these dance stars made three long days of dance seem not so grueling. Rachel had a blast and mastered some very difficult choreography. I was proud of her and ecstatic when she won a $275 scholarship for next years' Dance Attack. Rachel has more talent in her pinky finger than I have in my entire body. She never ceases to amaze me, this child of mine. I texted Tony and told him the news, exclaiming how proud of Rachel I was. His response: "Just remember that the next time you want to beat her." Rachel is the most tenacious little person I have ever encountered. This determination helps her succeed, but also makes her difficult at times....her will is so much stronger than mine. She tests me, this one....but oh how she teaches me.

So this is for you, my lovely dream daughter, 25 things I want to remember about you right now:


1. Each night you complain that it's not fair that you have to sleep alone while Daddy and I get to have a sleepover every night. 2. At eight years old you weigh a whopping 35 pounds. 3. You LOVE chocolate. 4. You set goals and you reach them...often. 5. You're messy, but organized. 6. You HATE being late. 7. You're my best eater. 8. I never have to ask you to do your homework. Never. 9. You require very little sleep...much to my chagrin. 10. Your favorite treat is to get a pedicure with mom or grams. 11. Two summer goals accomplished: Back Tuck and Front Aerial. 12. You're working hard to perfect your triple pirouette. 13. You have enough confidence to call Corbin Bleu on his cell phone and chat him up. 14. You love to bathe with Miles. 15. You are always up for a bike ride with Daddy. 16. You eat a bowl of ice cream every night. 17. You have a tender heart. Last week when I was shedding a few tears about Grandpa you asked me if I wanted to talk about it with you. 18. You can do this weird stomach roll thing. 19. You are happiest when you are busy...you don't like a lot of down time. 20. You always volunteer to shuck the corn and to lick the beaters. 21. You worry more than an eight year old should. 22. Before you make a phone call or leave a message, you practice what you are going to say. 23. You are constantly, constantly in motion...dancing, tumbling, twirling, talking. 24. You like to fall asleep in my bed (see #1 above). 25. Right now, at this moment, you are my most independent child.


So much to love in such a small package.


Thanks for teaching me how to be your mom Miss Rachel.


XOXOX


Momma


Thursday, July 17, 2008

The First

On Wednesday, I woke up at 5 am to drive Cole to Scout Camp in Franklin, Idaho. Both of us had gone to bed very late the night before and neither of us had slept very well. I expected him to be grouchy as I woke him in the pre-dawn darkness. But as I went downstairs I found him up and showering. He quickly fell asleep once we were on the road and I was left to my own devices for entertainment on the two and a half hour drive.

Much to my delight, he woke up when we hit Logan, just in time to share breakfast at McDonalds and a Diet Coke.

It isn't often when I get two hours of pure peace and quiet to myself, alone with my own thoughts and the time to actually process and organize my feelings. I honestly didn't mind the long drive, but I was surprised at how happy I was to have Cole's company once he woke up and climbed into the front seat.

He chatted on and on about his recent experience at lacrosse camp. He cracked a few jokes and marveled at how beautiful our surroundings were. Just as we pulled into camp he said "Mom, we need to go on a road trip. Just you and I". And honestly, there is nothing I would like better than more alone time with Cole in the car. I count this boy as one of my closest friends. I have missed him this week. A LOT.

In those hours before he woke up, my thoughts were consumed with each of my three children: their personalities, their unique needs and talents, their challenges and how I could better mother each of them. Moreso, I was struck with how blessed I feel to be their mother. I probably blog too much about my children. But the truth is I feel so honored to be a mother. I appreciate it so much more for having struggled to become pregnant with Miles. But particularly, I know it is their tender spirits which are carrying me through. How I love them. As I counted the miles, I also counted so many things I adore about each of my children right now, at this moment in time. So here it is...25 things I want to remember about Cole:


1. Your tender concern for your cousin Riley. 2. The way you include Miles. 3. You love popcorn with extra salt. 4. You invited a boy to eat lunch with you at Golf camp when you noticed he was all alone. 5. The way you celebrate on the field when you score a goal. 6. The way you call dad Fasja. 6. The way you lolligag in the morning...too busy listening to music to get ready. 7. How you still sleep with a stuffed animal or two. 8. Constantly changing the radio station while we are in the car. 9. How you ask permission to swear on occassion. 10. Taking the higher road in scouting...showing integrity, even though it wasn't the easy way out. 11. Showing kindness and concern for your grams. 12. Telling me I look hot everytime I wear heels. 13. You are easily the most affectionate member of our family. 14. You're razor sharp quick wit. 15. The way you need your down time, your personal space...so much like your mama. 16. You drink soda straight from the can...even if it's warm (yuck). 17. How you love, love, love onion rings from Apollo Burger. 18. Telling girls "I'm done talking now." when you want to get off the phone (it makes me laugh, but we probably ought to work on that one.) 19. You always notice when I get my hair done. 20. You don't complain about working in the yard with dad. 21. You always wake up happy and still want to be tucked in at night. 22. You have a strong moral compass...always have, hope you always will. 23. You love to crawl into my bed and watch Jon and Kate plus Eight. 24. Golf is your new passion this summer. 25. Right now, at this moment in time, you are my easiest child.

I lubba lubba lubba you Coley.

Blank Pages

It happened again today. I was talking to a friend this morning and she mentioned to me that an acquaintance of ours had stumbled upon my blog and had called my friend to see how I was doing. It felt weird. Not weird because someone I know is reading my blog, but weird because I never know just who is out there reading my blog. After all, there is a lot of personal stuff on my blog. It's happened other times as well...people at my church will tell me they read my blog or someone will ask about something that I wrote about. It always makes me stop for a minute and catch my breath. Certainly I don't know everyone who reads my blog and that's okay. But sometimes, I admit, I wish I knew my audience better, I wish I knew who is quietly, anonymously, reading my story. I wish those people who read would just leave a comment, de-lurk or something. It's the not knowing that I guess gets to me a little bit.

I've often thought about taking my blog private, but that doesn't feel right either. I have made some amazing friends through the blog world and have been touched by so many other blogs that I read, that I feel selfish in not sharing my journey.

Which brings me to this day. I have so many thoughts whirling around in my head. So many words dancing in my brain begging for a place of permanence on paper. And yet...I hesitate. Maybe it's because I don't know who is out there reading my words. Perhaps it is because I don't want my blog to be all gloom and doom as my life is certainly filled with happiness and the perfect brightness of hope. Sometimes, the simple truth is that it's too painful to write it all out.

I have read the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer and while I don't think I ever truly understood the mania surrounding those books, there was one moment, in my opinion, of pure literary genious. In the second book, when Bella and Edward broke up, Meyer strategically left several blank pages in the book. I remember smiling as I turned the pages. The feeling of shock, of having no words, felt so familiar to me.

Lately, I have had several weeks of blank pages. Many days of worry and wonder that did not, could not, transcribe themselves accurately into words. But I have also had many many moments of joy this summer and for that I am most grateful.

So I will continue to write my story. It isn't always a pretty picture and sometimes I hesitate to let it all hang out. Writing is therapeutic to me. It helps me remember all that I have in my life that is brilliant and pure and good. So if you're out there, let me know. Drop me a line. I know I have many dark days ahead and I imagine I will weather them a bit easier knowing I have the love and support of all of you, friends and strangers alike.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Just as Pretty on the Inside


For the past three months we have been in a High School Musical frenzy around our house. My darling niece Haylee was chosen as one of the principal dancers in the film to be released this fall.

We have all had the priviledge of being on set to watch filming, eating dinner at my brother's house with all of the HSM3 stars and getting an up close and personal view into not only the nuances of filming, but the day to day drama of being on a movie set.

I have adored Haylee from the moment she was born as hers was the first birth I ever witnessed. I love having her in my home twice a week, visiting with her over lunch before she drives Rachel to dance for me. I have been amazed at her grace and uncommon maturity as she has dealt with this opportunity. This has been an amazing experience for her and yet she remains the kindest, sweetest, most humble dancer I know......just as pretty on the inside as she is on the outside.

We love you Hay-Hay, and we're oh so very proud.

To read more about Haylee's High School Musical Experience, click here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ah...Kiawah





While I love, love, love traveling with my family, I have found that adjusting to real life has been a bit more difficult that last few times we have gone away. The re-entry is rough, and I find myself dragging as I try to play catch up.

We have been home for about ten days and have not stopped since the airplane landed. The kids had one final week of school to get through, Cole was involved in a lacrosse tournament in Park City, I had to fill in for a few days at my old office helping an old colleague who is battling breast cancer, not to mention bills to pay, laundry to finish, and celebrating Father's Day. We were home an entire week before I actually had time to go to the grocery store and take a deep breath.


But oh, what a time we had. I have never seen such a beautiful place, so green and lush. Our family stayed in two southern style mansions complete with front porch swings and french doors. Our homes bordered both the golf course and the beach. I felt like I was living in the pages of Southern Living.


While I could devote an entire post writing a travelogue about the beautiful beaches, golf courses, dolpin cruises, gator sitings and warm waters of the Atlantic ocean, I have two memories of this trip emblazoned on my heart.


Kiawah Island has over thirty miles of bike trails begging for exploration. We all rented bikes...including a very sturdy tricycle for my mother and a baby buggy for Mr. Miles. The second morning of our trip we all headed out for a bike ride. I stayed at the back of the pack enjoying watching most of my entire family delight in the company of one another, young and old alike. We watched for gators, heard the trill of red cardinals, laughed and raced and were in awe at the beauty surrounding us.


On our last night on the Island, sunset found all of us at the beach. My brother Mike was in the ocean, fully clothed, boogie boarding with Rachel and my little niece, Emily. My brother Brian, nude except for his undies, was skim boarding with Cole and his Cousins. Tony and my brother Jon were playing football with a few of the boys. Christee was helping Miles collect shells. The beach was practically deserted and we had miles and miles of sand all to ourselves. I don't know if it was the light cast by the setting sun, or the laughter carried on the gentle breeze. It may have been the calm lapping of the waves against my toes or breathing in the warm sea air. I don't know what it was really, other than for the first time in a really long time, I felt peaceful.


I felt hopeful and calm, and remarkably, I felt the healing begin. I felt profoundly grateful for each of the 17 people on that trip with me, and for the three nieces and one nephew who couldn't come with us. I have an amazing family. Still.


Thanks mom, for the reminder, for each of my three brothers and for working so hard to make us each feel so loved. I love you!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Goin' to Carolina

The bags are packed. Rash guards, sunscreen and flip flops on board. In just a few short hours we head out on our adventure to Kiawah Island.

Hopefully I'll come home with a clear mind, a bit of color and a more optimistic outlook.

Until then.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Magnum Opus

One of my favorite books of all time is Charlotte's Web. Each time I have read it, I have taken a different message from it. Perhaps, the message I received the last time I read it has stuck with me the longest.

It is near the end of the book when Charlotte is weaving her final web including the egg sack which holds thousands of her children. She has worked tirelessly to protect her babies and to save Wilbur's life. She is exhausted and knows her death is imminent.

Wilbur is afraid of losing her and tries to coax her into living, hoping and insisting that he can help her. Charlotte quietly explains that the best thing he can do to help her is to look after her children, her most precious possessions on earth. When talking of her egg sack, her children, she says something to the effect of "This is my magnum opus. My life's great work". And while I'm probably not quoting it accurately, this notion has stuck with me.

I often think of Charlotte when I imagine that my exhaustion matches her own. The work of motherhood is neverending. It is repetitive, messy, sometimes grueling, oftentimes thankless and always, always, it is constant. I often feel as if I am spinning my wheels, getting one child through a crisis or difficult phase, just to have another child enter a different phase with a different set of needs.

Mother's Day came this year and I found tears leaking out of my eyes as Tony asked me what he could make me for breakfast. Not because I was feeling sorry for myself or because my family wasn't taking care of me. But because I was so very tired and for just a few hours I didn't want to have to make the decisions, I didn't want to have to think or work or keep spinning. I just wanted to feel the sweet relief of someone taking care of me.

It has been a very hectic month. Sick kids, sick parents, soccer, lacrosse, dance recitals, dance competitions, dinner parties, jazz games, constant running, carpool chasing chaos. I'm exhausted, but I am also this: overwhelmed in my gratitude.

They wear me out, these three little loves. But, like Charlotte, I recognize that they are my magnum opus. My life's greatest work. I am profoundly grateful that I have the honor, the distinct priviledge really, of being mother to exactly these three children.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Perception

This morning the phone rang before 8 am. It was a friend. A kind, wise friend who I adore. I don't get to see her very often or talk to her much though she lives just a few doors away. She is one of those friends who I could call and she would drop everything to help me and even though I don't enjoy a daily interaction with her, I know she loves me. I know she understands even when I don't have the words to explain it.



How do I know? She calls me, unexpectedly, like today, to check on me, to leave me with something to think about or lift me up. She seems to call when I most need to hear her voice. She listens to the promptings of the Spirit.


Monday evening I left the soccer field a bit shaken after having a conversation with my Mother in Law about cancer. Her friend is undergoing chemo, so I took a moment to explain my dad's regimen to her. My in-laws are good people who I am sure care for me. But they fail to inquire about my dad or even about how I am doing under the weight of this anvil. It's the proverbial elephant in the room. But the lack of discussion does not dismiss the constant ache I carry in my heart.

Yesterday my sister in law called, also to check in on me. Having lost her own dad a few years ago, she understands all too well the many nuances of this trial, big and small. She is a constant source of support and enlightenment to me. I expressed my frustration to her and my sadness that my mother in law didn't seem to understand my dad's prognosis. She kindly explained to me that life experience effects our behavior. Truly, some people don't understand what to do or say until they have experienced something similar.

I immediately thought back to an experience I had last week while at Nordstrom. Sitting on the couch was a girl I know, deep in conversation on her cell phone. I knew she had recently done IVF and was anxiously awaiting the results of her pregnancy test. The first thing I noticed were the tears brimming in her eyes and threatening to spill out onto her cheeks. Such raw emotion in a public place and in that moment I knew. I knew how she wouldn't choose to cry in the shoe department of Nordstrom, but I also knew how she couldn't contain the pain of her experience. I knew her results. I knew her heartache. I reached out to her and gave her a hug. We did not exchange words. We didn't have to. She knows that I understand.

At the studio where Rachel takes tumbling there are five words painted on the otherwise lackluster white walls. They read "I CAN DO HARD THINGS.". Many times I hear Rachel's teacher repeating this mantra to her students. Now I find myself repeating it to myself. I can do hard things.

The truth is every day I get up and get through the day. I have children relying on me and responsibilities to keep. I really don't have the luxury of wallowing in the grief that I feel. Tony comments on how strong I am, as do so many of my closest friends. But truthfully, I cry every day. Every single day. Sometimes it's just a tear or two which sneaks out while I pray for my dad. Some days I sob in the shower where no one will hear me. Many times it is in the middle of the night when I am unable to clear my mind of childhood memories which come to me in my dreams. Each day I go on because I know that I can do hard things.

This week has brought a new perspective. Perhaps one of the hardest things we can do is to step outside of our comfort zone and reach out to those who most need our support. I am grateful for my trials. I am grateful for these most difficult life experiences which have ingrained compassion in my soul. Mostly I hope that one day when the roles are reversed and I have the opportunity to reach out to someone that I will do so with courage and purpose. I hope I will remember to worry less about my own awkwardness and more about soothing another's troubled heart. I hope I remember that I can do hard things.

Friday, April 18, 2008

More

Miles first word is more. All day long I hear him chirping more, more, more. More juice, more crackers, more play time with his momma. When he first began to say more, it sounded like "moe", or "more" with a very thick Brooklyn accent, the R sound almost completely absent, with more emphasis on the long O sound. Secretly I hoped he was trying to say Mom, but it soon became apparent that it was only More.

I would like to say that he has gone on to add an abundance of words to his vocabularly, but unfortunately he has not. It is still just more. More. More. More. He does sign it now as well as say it, so I suppose we are making progress.

I don't think Miles really needs anymore words. "More" seems to be a multi-functional word. He will hand me a book and say "more". I know he wants to be read to. He brings me a bottle and emphatically states "more". I know he wants milk. When he wants to be held, he lifts his arms up and utters a sweet "more". I know I should be working with him and encouraging him to use more words, but we seem to communicate very well, Miles and I and our friend "More".


My baby Miles, more is a great word. I think about it a lot and how I wish I could adequately convey to you just how much "more" my life is blessed because of you; how I wish for "more" moments of your babyhood, how I find it hard to accomplish much "more" than simply enjoying being with you.


I love you more. More than chocolate chip cookies and ice cold Diet Coke. More than sleeping in on Sunday morning. More than merry go rounds and fields full of bright red tulips. More than fresh cut strawberries and presents under the Christmas tree. More than slow rambling walks down country lanes and Sunday afternoon bike rides. More than the birds of summer and breezy autumn days. More than drops of warm spring rain and rainbows in a light blue sky. More than wrapped up surprises and my favorite movies. More than quiet secluded cul de sacs and summer sunsets. More than morning dew, more than dance and music and books of ABC. More than boats and ships and sails, more than orange blossoms in the air, more than sugar cookies and cream puffs set out on a plate. More than letters from old friends, more than soft grass underfoot and big pink balloons. More than soft feather pillows, and hand-sewn patchwork quilts. More than stars and clouds and deep-filled soft old sofas. More than secret whisperings from daddy, more than long cool evenings, more than garden swings and daffodils. More than the buzzing of honey bees and rows of summer corn. More than sand between my toes, more than slipping between cool white sheets, more than reading in the tub, more than most things, more, more....just more.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Dinner and a Show








Is it just me? Or is it getting harder and harder these days to sit down together as a family and eat dinner? It seems the past few weeks we have been eating in shifts in between Lacrosse practice, soccer and dance. I've come to count on Sunday as the day we can all be together. Usually on Sunday, I make the effort to sit at the table rather than the bar, but lately, Miles is so messy, that it's easier just to eat at the counter.
He was beyond thrilled to have the undivided attention of everyone in the family and put on quite the dinner show. What a ham!










Friday, April 11, 2008

Shameless Plug




A few years ago I was vacationing with some friends. As we sat around the pool we started to discuss our favorite recipes and what kind of things our families liked to eat for dinner.

The longer we talked, the more we were making promises to each other to exchange this recipe or that recipe. Good intentions to be sure, but I knew realistically that these exchanges would probably never happen once we returned home to our busy lives.

By the end of the weekend we had each commited to compile our recipes in a cookbook and Peacocks on My Porch was born.

We took a few months to gather, organize and type our recipes. We then sent the book off to the publisher and a few weeks later, 500 cookbooks landed on my front porch.

That first year, we each gave them to friends and family for Christmas gifts. The book was an instant hint. Soon we were all receiving calls from people wanting to buy our book. Within just a few months, all 500 cookbooks were gone. We ordered a second printing and now those books are also extinct.

It's kind of amazing to me the kind of response our little cookbook has generated. I'm always a little taken back when people tell me it is their favorite cookbook. Not because I don't believe it be great, but truthfully, I haven't spent a great deal of time cooking out of it. Many of my tried and true recipes are in the book, but like most people, I get in a rut and make the same rotation of meals over and over again. That being said, I know my friends are wonderfully, talented cooks, so I am certain that the "tried and true" recipes they have included in the book are fabulous. I really need to spend some time experimenting with everyone's recipes....after all, I've been given rave reviews!

So now it is a few years later and we have decided to do one FINAL printing of our beloved cookbook. Perhaps ten years down the road, we might decide to do another one, but for now, this baby has run it's course. In the spirit of going out with a bang, we have added nearly 300 new recipes, bringing the total recipe count of Peacocks on My Porch to 700 recipes.

I did some editing on our book today and I must say, I'm really excited to cook this week. I'm trying three new recipes from my friends and I get a bit hungry just thinking about it.

If you are interested in owning a Peacocks on My Porch cookbook, this is your last chance. We are ordering pre-sold books only, and will not have excess books available to purchase at a later date. Please leave a comment with your email address or send me an email if you would like to place an order.




Again



Rachel's trio took first place again last weekend at the Hall of Fame Dance Challenge. She won this trophy for 1st place Platinum and was thrilled. But at the end of the award ceremony, it was announced that her Trio also won "High Score Overall" and each of the three girls was awarded $100 check.

The MC interviewed the three girls as she handed them their prize money and asked them who they would most like to thank for helping them achieve this accomplishment.

This is how it went:

Madison: I would like to thank my parents.

Gentry: I want to thank my mom and dad.

Rachel: I really want to thank my teacher, Heidi.

Hmm. I wonder if this is her response to my behavior at last week's competition?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Eating My Words

Last Saturday, Rachel had her first dance competition of the season. I should probably preface this post by explaining that Rachel has been dancing since she was three. She has competed the last two years in several local dance competitions with her company. So while the competition atmosphere is not new to us, she is dancing at a new studio this year.

Yes, I am the crazy mom who drives my daughter to Orem twice a week to dance. But I am also the smart mom who knows to leave the dancer well enough alone, lest I become one of those nazi stage moms who are always involved in one dance drama or another. That being said, I usually drop Rach off and pick her up without spending a whole lot of time actually watching her dance. It's not that I'm uninterested, but this is about Rachel, not me. Dance is a huge commitment for Rachel which I am happy to support. But I want her to do it because she loves it, not because she feels an obligation to me. This may sound pretty obvious to most of you, but trust me, there are a lot of whacked out moms in the dance world who live vicariously through their daughters.

With that little disclaimer, I will say that I love to watch Rachel dance. On Saturday, she competed in two numbers: her trio, Country Girl, and her company number, Le Jazz Hot. We made the trek down to the Salt Palace where we promptly parked in the wrong place, causing us to walk an additional 5 blocks out of our way. Normally, not a big deal...but I am nursing a broken foot and I was wearing flip flops in 30 degree weather because those are the only shoes that fit. Ugh! But I digress.

I hung out with Rach in the dressing room until it was time for Country Girl. I sat in the audience and marveled at my wee one up on stage. Tumbling and twirling and smiling. All the while, I sat wondering where she got such confidence, such stage presence. I always get emotional when she is on stage. I'm so very proud, but also so stunned at how quickly she is growing up and away from me.

After Country girl, we headed back to the dressing room. We had two hours to kill before her next number. So I took my little niece home to Sugar House while Rachel hung out with her team and changed into her next costume.

As I returned to the Salt Palace I had a really difficult time finding a parking spot. Down town was crazy busy and I realized that the YW General Broadcast was going on. I barely made it back in time to watch her next number, Le Jazz Hot. Right after she danced I called Tony and told him I'd be home soon and he promised to take me out to sushi. It was only 6 o clock. We'd been at the Salt Palace for about 5 hours, so I was anxious to gather my girl and get on my way.

Here is where I explain that while I watched both of Rachel's numbers, I didn't stick around to watch a lot of the other dancers perform. Mostly I hung out with Rach in the dressing room. While I thought she was darling and was quite impressed with her numbers, I just figured I was biased. I recognize that she is pretty talented, but I wonder sometimes if I don't give her enough credit or praise for her abilities.

When I found Rachel in the dressing room, she told me she wanted to stay for awards. I was not happy. Awards were not until 8:30. I was done. I was tired, I was grumpy, my foot was hurting, I was starving. The last thing I wanted to do was hang out for another 2 hours. She insisted we stay and I insisted we go. I was so frustrated with her. The more I tried to convince her to go, the more she dug her heels in to stay. I even went so far as to tell her that it was a waste of time and she wasn't going to get an award anyway. Yeah, I know, mom of the year over here. So full of praise and positive reinforcement I am. Ha!
Finally, I acquiesced, realizing how important it was to her. We stayed for awards, but I wasn't happy about it and I let her know it more than once. I am ashamed that I acted so horribly and selfishly. This was such a big deal to her, but to me, it was just one incredibly long day. One that we will repeat three more times this month for other competitions.

So now, I'm eating my words. Rachel's trio, Country girl, took first place, high score overall and also won the award for exceptional smiles. Her Company dance, Le Jazz Hot, was awarded platinum (first place), high score overall and the award for exceptional precision.
My girl was on cloud nine and the long, cold walk back to the car didn't seem so bad as she recounted the entire experience to everyone she loved via my cell phone. I'm still a bit ashamed at my bad attitude. I won't soon forget how my pride in her was somewhat tempered by my disappointment in myself. She teaches me, this little wonder, oh how she teaches me.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Re-entry

It's been six long days since we returned from our ten day spring break vacation to Palm Desert. Just yesterday I finally unpacked all of our suitcases. When we woke up to snow this morning, my heart skipped a beat or two.



I admit it, I've got the post vacation blues. The re-entry into real life this week has been a bit difficult. No energy for chores, no motivation to leave my house, still no food in our refrigerator. Hopefully this week will be better.

Yesterday Tony told me he has been checking my blog everyday, waiting for a new entry. Cole and Rach keep telling me I need to blog about different things that are going on...but strangely, I have no words. I can't remember the last time I have been in such a fog.

We did have a wonderful and very relaxing vacation. We are used to spending Easter with my entire family, but this year it was just our little family of five, plus my mom. Quiet, but oh, so nice to have so much quality time together.

Some of the best parts of our week:
  • Rachel received a phone call from her friend telling her that she had won the class election and is now the Class President. Yeah Rach!
  • Tony's sister FINALLY had her baby...sweet little Laura Jane.
  • The smell of citrus blossoms in the air.
  • 90 degrees, blue skies, green grass and spring blossoms at every turn.
  • Our niece Haylee being selected as a principal dancer for Disney's High School Musical 3. 1000 were invited to try out, only eight made the cut! We are so proud. Can't wait to see her on the big screen.
  • Green Shamrock shakes from McDonalds on St. Patty's day.
  • 2 awesome books read poolside
  • Waffles, Whip cream and Fresh Strawberries.
  • California Pizza Kitchen: 3 Times
  • Sweet Corn Tamales
  • Friends in town to join us for Easter Dinner
  • Miles' first Easter Egg Hunt
  • Money filled eggs from Grandma and new snugly pillows
  • Shorts and Sandals
  • Being outside all day, every day.
  • Pedicures with Grandma
  • Cole golfing with his Dad.
  • Cole saving Miles from a near drowning.

There were a few bad things that happened, however:

  • Breaking my foot trying to rescue Miles from his near drowning.
  • Mom having to fly home a day early. Yuck!
  • Rachel scraping up her face, mouth and arms trying to do back-walkovers into the pool.

It seems that no matter how often I spend time in Palm Desert, I am always anxious to return. Lazy, unscheduled days, spent enjoying my kids and laughing with Tony. Many meaningful conversations with my mom and enjoying her taking such good care of me. What's not to love?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Family Matters

I wrote a guest post for Segullah today. You can read it here.

Friday, March 7, 2008

A Real Live Peep Show

Received this in an email from my friend Chelle.

I can't stop laughing.

Chelle has given up blogging for Lent, so I wanted to share it with you here.

Enjoy!



Thursday, March 6, 2008

Stowaway

Tony and I are very blessed in that my parents own a vacation home in beautiful Palm Desert, California. We are lucky enough to be able to travel down there in the winter months for a break from the gray and cold.

Most times we travel with our children or extended family, but usually both Tony and I will sneak away with friends for a girls trip or boys weekend.

This year we decided to make it a couples trip with a few of our close friends. Tony called it a Biking Trip with Conjugal visits. I'm trying not to take offense as surely there is more to my presence than that.

After all, I did make all of the dinner reservations, heated the pool to perfection, and squoze him a fresh glass of grapefruit juice each morning.

As the time drew near for our little getaway, I found myself becoming more and more anxious about leaving my baby. I have never left him in all of his fifteen months and somehow I couldn't imagine six whole days without his sparkling, brown eyed grin.

My anxiety was seriously ridiculous. I had hired a more than capable babysitter who I trust implicitly. I knew we needed the time alone together (not what you're thinking), and I knew I needed a little reprieve from the constantness of motherhood. And yet, I just. couldn't. do. it.

With Tony's blessing....actually with Tony's strong encouragement, I decided to bring the little guy along. I'm so glad I did. He is such a great little traveler and I think I enjoyed my trip more knowing he was okay.

We had a wonderful weekend spent laughing and lounging with our dear friends. Aside from a small debacle with the water heater and one panicked call to search and rescue, it was a very relaxing trip. Thanks to a darling local babysitter, Tony and I did enjoy a lot of alone time....and Miles quickly bonded with each of our friends, constantly charming his way into their arms and laps, which gave me a welcome reprieve from mom duty.

Fifteen years from now when Miles is a teenager, trying his best to distance himself from his dear old mom, I will show him this post, and remind him how I couldn't bear to leave him, even for a few short days. Somehow, I don't think it will impress him all that much. But I imagine someday, with a baby of his own, he will know exactly how I felt.

For a great read on Tony's biking adventure and First Blog Post Ever, click here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Why do it?

I was a blog stalker long before I became a blog writer. It took me a while to actually get up enough nerve to start my own blog. It just seemed so personal, so raw, so...out there.

The only blog Tony ever read before mine was written by The Fat Cyclist. It's a delightfully witty blog all about cycling. What's not to love right? An entire blog dedicated to cycling....re-capping epic rides, rating the latest equipment, the best tasting recovery drink, a new found trail, etc. etc. It was easy to see why he was smitten.

So when I started my blog, Tony kept telling me that it wasn't very funny. After all, he was used to Fatty's charm. And frankly, I didn't care. Well, that's not exactly true. Of course I care what he thinks. His opinion matters to me more than anyones'. But in my heart, I felt strongly about the purpose of my blog, and I still do.

There are many reasons for blogging. Some people use it as a sort of scrapbook, some use it as a connection to the outside world; to some it's just the trendy thing to do. It really doesn't matter. But for me, my blog is really just for me. Sure I enjoy connecting with others; I read each little comment, I delight in sharing my world with my friends. But writing my posts has always been more about recording my thoughts and emotions rather than entertaining the masses. I just seem to have so many thoughts rolling around in my brain that writing them out often seems to quiet things down.

That's not to say that all of my posts are profound or even well written. Simply, I want a record of this period of my life. I want to remember certain moments and feelings. I wish I were more prolific in my writing, more consistent. I wish my blog were more complete. My life is filled with abundance and yet, I can't always find the words to express how infinitely blessed I feel. But that's okay. I'll just keep plugging along, writing when the mood strikes me, and remembering my purpose. I am accountable only to myself.

That being said, I have a renewed commitment to document the small and simple things. On several occassions during the past few weeks, my friend Tami has told me how grateful she is that she started a blog. Because of her blog she has taken countless pictures of her baby Joy. Capturing forever her silliness, her messiness, her beauty. What treasures those pictures are now that Joy is gone.

Many of my blogging friends took the challenge this year to post a picture a day. Knowing my personality all too well, and knowing how much I loathed a daily commitment of anything, I quickly dismissed all invitations to jump on the bandwagon.

I have been forever changed by this tragedy in Tami's life, and while I wish there were an alternate ending, I am most grateful for the lessons and feelings I have garnered while at her side. I can't promise a daily post. But this I know for sure: I'm leaving my camera out; ready and waiting to capture small moments, inane images of my family, my life's work.

Enjoy it here.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

No Regrets

A year ago today, I learned that my dad had Stage IV cancer and was terminally ill. I don't know if I can adequately articulate just how difficult this past year has been. The illness in and of itself is barbaric. The pain, more excrutiating and overwhelming than I could have ever imagined...physically for him, emotionally for me.

Aside from the insidiousness that is cancer, I have found myself having to endure some of the most painful and awkward situations imagineable. Due to the choices my dad has made for his life, I have had to dig deep, finding forgiveness and uncommon courage along the way. I have had to bite my tongue, put on a happy face, swallow my pride and really be in the moment...all for my dad.

There have been days, weeks even, where my life seems somewhat normal. Stressful, yes. But manageable. And then, I hit the wall. As I did this week. I watch as the cancer seeps into his bones and invades his vital organs. The grief washes over me as I wonder if this is the beginning of the end.

I have started a small laundry list of the simple, often inane things I will miss about him. Through my tears I recommit to repair my relationship with him; hoping for the blessed peace which will surely accompany the reconciliation.

I often think of Baby Joy and the words her brave father spoke at her funeral. He said he had no regrets, that as far as Joy was concerned, his conscious was clear. He had done right by her. Oh that I should be so lucky.

Perhaps time is the only blessing of cancer. Quiet moments between diagnosis and death; moments spent remembering, communicating, healing.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lil Ski Stud

video

Cole is really starting to become a pretty skier. I am beginning to see a few moves that remind me of his daddy. Must be in the Parkinson genes.

video

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Music to My Ears

This morning, Miles started to whine just as we were getting ready for family prayer. I hurried down the hall to change his poopy diaper while Tony gathered Cole and Rachel in the family room.

Quietly I tiptoed back into the kitchen so as to not disrupt the prayer in progress. As if on cue, Cole began to pray for me.

"Thank you that mom can stay home with us. Please bless her that she will have the strength and energy she needs to take care of our family. Please bless her to have patience with Miles when he is a pain. And Heavenly Father, please bless Miles to sleep through the night."

Just a few simple phrases uttered in quiet prayer, gentle pleas with the Father to watch over me. My spirit was immediately buoyed by this kind consideration from my 11 year old. My work here matters. My family is mindful of me.

And then I wondered, do my children feel this same strength when they hear me pray for them? This quiet moment this morning brought clarity and an assurance that indeed my prayers are significant, and offer my children a unique sense of comfort and support. In all of the hustle and bustle of the morning rush, the pancake turning and lunch packing, I realize that the best thing I can do for my children each day is to humbly supplicate my Father on their behalf.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Mothers Arms

Long before I first held Baby Miles, I ached to fill the void, the hollow space within my arms where I knew this child belonged. I remember being surrounded by mothers, their arms so full of life and love, and I fidgeted, trying to find something to keep my hands occupied. Well intentioned friends would often place their babies in my arms in an attempt to fill the chasm I found there. A kind gesture indeed, but one that lacked the familiarity, the sweet congruency of a mother holding her own child.

Sunday night I lay in a large king sized bed and had a hard time finding sleep. Hours earlier I had learned that my good friend Tami had lost her baby Joy. Miles stirred and cried out in his sleep, a fever disturbing his peaceful slumber. There was little I could do to comfort him other than to hold him in my arms. Rather than the usual annoyance at his inability to sleep through the night, I found grateful tears sliding down my cheeks. I held him close, his body molded against my own. In the dark I found solace in the familiar scent of his hair, his warm breath against my neck. My arms were full and yet the ache in my heart for Tami was recognizable and overwhelming. While I do not pretend to know the pain she is enduring, I understand in some small, diminutive way the emptiness she feels in her arms.

For months before I carried this boy in my arms, I carried him in my heart. He never left me and somehow, knowing he was residing there inside me, with every breath and beat of my heart, helped me to carry on. And so I hope it is with Tami. I hope she can hold Joy in her heart until she can hold her in her arms once again.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mental Health Break

Yesterday my cute niece called me in the morning in tears. She was stressed out, overwhelmed, a bit depressed and generally feeling yucky.

She spent the day on my couch snuggling my baby. We shared a bowl of soup and People magazine.

She just needed a day to re-group. To relax and recharge. So it is with me. I am leaving this morning for my own mental health break. Somehow I know a week in the warm sunshine with a few good books, a few good meals and lots of snuggle time with my baby is just the cure I need.

Until then.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Say it Ain't So

video

Deep Sigh. My baby is walking. I've tried to keep him down, and have discouraged him at every turn, but alas his will has prevailed. Even with a little Benadryl in his system as evidenced in this clip, he is determined to walk..albeit a bit drunk. I hate that he is growing up. Can somebody please tell me how to stop time?

Friday, January 4, 2008

A Girls Best Friend

In her post this morning, Ceej made a reference to my diamond ring which made me laugh. My wedding ring has certainly seen better days. Today it's prongs are covered in Baby Magic remnants from Miles' morning rubdown. The white gold is tarnished and in need of polishing. The diamond struggles to sparkle through the constancy of the daily chores my hands engage in. Diapers, dishes, dinner, repeat.

I enjoyed breakfast with a few old friends celebrating a birthday. The birthday girl was off to get her diamond re-set. We talked of how that first diamond is special, of how trading it in and up seems almost sacrilege. There is a certain sentiment attached to your wedding ring that just can't be replaced by another carat.

When Tony and I were dating I spent my 23rd birthday living in Washington DC. We weren't quite ready to get engaged and yet he wanted to send me something meaningful. I was surprised to receive in the mail a small gold initial ring which he had worn as a boy. I was ready for the diamond and for a moment this simple piece of gold planted a seed of disappointment in my heart.

I later learned how his mom had tucked the ring away for safe keeping and how Tony had to do some major negotiating to reclaim this piece of his history. He told me how his mother was reluctant for him to give it to me for fear that our relationship would not last and the ring would be lost forever.

I keep that small ring tucked away in my jewelry box and in many ways it is more precious to me than the diamond Tony presented to me just a few months later. To me it represents the faith Tony had in me and in our relationship fifteen years ago. The faith he continues to display in me through dark and difficult times.

I cherish his willingness to go to bat for me against his mother's stern warning. A loyalty that has only grown stronger in the years we've been married.

I love his tender heart which still looks for small and simple ways to touch my life.

Right before Tony and I were married we met with his neighbor who was going to perform our sealing. He told us that we were richer and had more at that very moment then we would ever have in our entire lives. I remember thinking "Yeah, right! We're both in school, we can barely pay our mortgage."

So many years later I remember his words and realize just how right he was. For all the things I want for my life and for my family cannot be bought. The things that really matter are not things.