Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pouncing at the Park

Growl included

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Yonanas is Yo-mazing!

Lindsey got us this for Christmas

To say  this is a neat little machine is an understatement.  We just took our frozen fruit from the freezer and pushed it through this machine.  Stir it up.  And it was so yummy.  100% fresh fruit.  We are all happy over here.

Not pictured:  Mommy, Daddy, and Sammy's delightful fruit-filled faces.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

high school, cancer, true love, death
I think this sums it up.  

I'm not trying to say this is all the book is about.  But, ya know.  It's predictable and tragic, and lovely, all wrapped together in this best-seller book.  I was interested in the story line, but I felt like I was transported back to high school ... and maybe that's a good thing when reading a book like this?  I'm still trying to figure it out.  There were some good lines.  Here's the thing.  I liked the book.  It was fine.  But I'm struggling coming up with anything to say about it.  At all.  Maybe because before this I read A Wrinkle in Time.  I don't know.

All right...I took some more time to think about it.  And, I did really like the book.  I mean, I must have because I didn't put it down.  I read until it was 2 hours past when I was trying to convince myself to just go to sleep.  So, here's the thing.  I like Hazel Grace.  She was a great character.  I liked her attitude.  I liked her spunk.  I liked her.  Augustus.  I liked him.  But not as much as Hazel.  The whole putting a cigarette in his mouth but not smoking it as a metaphor yadda yadda yadda.  I thought that was dumb.  But, see, when I read...I get really invested and really enter this world that the author creates.  So, I didn't think it was dumb of Green to write that, I thought it was dumb of Augustus...and if I were there, I would have told him that that is just way too dramatic.  I loved how Hazel wasn't friends with anyone there, but then, one day it just clicked.  Doesn't it happen like that?  All the time?  Marcus and I lived in the same apartment complex all year and I didn't even know it until I met his roommate.  And then, we clicked.  And got married.  Just like that.  So, there was something about how Hazel, Augustus, and Isaac all just were friends.  I really liked it.

It was entertaining, and I enjoyed that.  But the only real enduring thought that is still going through my mind after reading this is that I really never want to get cancer.  I want to avoid that.  Completely.  Don't want it.  So, yes, the book was good, but I didn't walk away feeling like something in my had changed...and I think I went in expecting that.
So, apparently this is going to be a movie.  I think it'll be a good one.  One that a lot of high school kids will like.  And if cast properly, the girls will swoon over Augustus.  And I think that's fitting, because it is a good story.

I am in the minority I know.  I read some other reviews, and people LOVE this book.  It is a best-seller after all, and I am just me.  So, who knows?      

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Helping Hands

A couple years ago, our Relief Society took pictures of people's hands doing many different things...serving, praying, helping, working, etc.  I wasn't there for the presentation, but my understanding was that it was supposed to show us all that our hands do...and tie back to Christ.  His hands.  And, are we doing what His hands would do if He were here?  Are we serving like He would?  Are we remembering His sacrifice for us...are we remembering His hands?  Though I wasn't there for the evening, the concept has stuck in my mind and I've thought about my hands a lot.  

I have also thought about my children's hands...all they do, and what I learn from them.

Since she was young, Callie has been a helper.  She likes being intimately involved in a task, especially when it comes to mothering.  Helping me with Samantha was something she took part in as an infant.  Callie has always been very observant and interested in what others are doing.  And while still an infant, when I needed a diaper for Samantha, Callie would go and get it for me and bring it, proud to be Mama's helper.  Callie has loved taking care of her baby dolls, but it has never compared to being able to take care of her sister, and for years she has done so.  She knew how to feed her cousin, Nate, through his G-tube months before I did!  Her curious, ever-wanting-to-learn mind and attitude keep her hands busy.  
When Micah came into the picture, this was thrilling for her.  She continued to help with Sammy, but Sammy has become a little easier, and now there is a baby in the house who needs extra care.  Callie has come, with her helping hands, time and time again to jump in to assist.  Whether it is to practice walking while he was young, or learning to use a fork, she is right there.  She is continuing to learn as she goes, learning the different types of hands she needs when being there for someone.  And though he may not always appreciate Callie's hands all over...I think he 100% understands that her hands mean love...and he absolutely is in love with her.

Teaching Hands
Careful Hands
Mothering Hands
Learning Hands
Loving Hands
Helping Hands
Christ-like Hands

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

After School Sammy

One of my favorite times of the day is when Sammy comes home from school.  We wait for the bus to come down our street and stop, right in front of the house.  It makes me so happy.  When the bus doors open up, it's the same everyday.  I walk enter the bus, walk up the 3 steps, turn to my left, and there she is...sitting on the left side, front seat, all strapped in.  There hasn't been one day that has gone by that she doesn't give me a big 'ole smile when she sees me.  I unstrap her, take her back pack, wish our bus driver farewell and inside we go.  On our way up the driveway into the house, I give her kisses and ask how her day was.  She just smiles and leans in as I carry her up.  Then, she sits for her after-school snack.

It's my favorite.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Daddy's Boy

Micah is all about Daddy.

Sure, he loves me.  He really does.  He cries for me, comes to me for comfort, often favors me over others.  We play together, cuddle together...he's a normal little boy who loves his mama deeply.  I could elaborate to really allow you to understand how much he idolizes me, but let's talk about Marcus.  Because there is surely something he adores about Daddy.  And I l-o-v-e it.  Even now, he sees this picture on the computer and is incessantly saying, "Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy" while pointing to the screen.  And there's not even an actual picture of Daddy on the computer.

Sammy and Callie love their dad.  They do.  But they are definitely Mama's girls.  Micah.  That boy.  It's clear he is a Daddy's Boy.  If Micah is awake when Daddy leaves for work, he cries.  And it's not just a whimper.  No.  He is distraught.  I have to take him to the window and we wave as Daddy drives away.  And Micah just keeps saying, "Buh-bye Daddy.  Buh-bye Daddy."  Even when his car is out of sight, "Buh-bye Daddy."

I look at Marcus with his son and am so grateful.  I see how this incredibly important and deep bond will save Micah.  I do not envision Micah to be a rebellious, crazy teenager (goodness, I hope not anyway).  No.  The saving I am speaking of is deeper than that.  I'm referring to the quiet moments Micah will have one day, when he contemplates his place in this world...his plans for the future...how to find solutions to his problems...how to treat his friends, girlfriends, and wife...the type of father he wants to be...what it means to be a Man.  Is "save" a little too dramatic of a word?  I don't think so.  I think it's our relationships that do save us.  Save us from poor decisions and unnecessary pain.  And when we do make those poor decisions and experience that unnecessary pain, it's those deep connections with people that save us by pulling us through those dark moments.

Yep.  Micah's a Daddy's Boy.  And I love it.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

When I was in 3rd grade, I saw this book in my house.  A flying horse-person, a green head with red eyes in a crystal ball, by an author I couldn't pronounce.  It looked way too science-fictiony to me, but I tried.  I don't think I made it past the first 3 pages.  I tried again a couple years later.  Eh.  Not my thing.

I am now 20 years later, I decided to give it a try.  And hoooooly mama.  I LOVED this book.  I loved loved loved it.  Loved it.  I loved this book.  Let's just make this clear, it was good.

It may have helped that my expectations were low.  But I don't think so.  I have so many things marked and highlighted, notes made in the electronic margins of my Paperwhite.  I'm not going to summarize at all, just point out some things that made my heart leap with joy as I read!

I have come to realize that one thing I love in literature is what my mother-in-law loves...the good vs. evil and the nobility and justice of Good overcoming Evil.  A Wrinkle in Time  was that for me.  Good vs. Evil.  There were so many obvious connections and references to God.  L'Engle was not shy about referring to God by name, stating that they needed His help in this journey.

"We were sent here for something.  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

Yes!  And the journey may be really difficult and scary and painful.  But, there is a purpose and we have help.

"Good helps us, the stars help us, perhaps what you would call light helps us, love helps us.  Oh, my child, I cannot explain!  This is something you just have to know or not know. [...] We look not at the things which are what you would call seen, but at the things which are not seen.  For the things which are seen are temporal.  But the things which are not seen are eternal."

Isn't this beautiful?  What helps us along our journey is goodness, light (as in the light of Christ); it's something that you know and feel.  It is not seen, but eternal.  Faith.

Meg, after searching for her father and finally found him, still faced life-threatening danger:

"She had found her father and he had not made everything all right.  Everything kept getting worse and worse.  If the long search for her father was ended, and he wasn't able to overcome all their difficulties, there was nothing to guarantee that it would all come out right in the end.  There was nothing left to hope for."

Ok, so my heart didn't leap for joy when I read this, but I did understand!  I grew up surrounded by faith.  I grew up knowing how to pray and felt that He was there.  But just because we find our Father, capital "F", doesn't mean that everything is immediately resolved.  We are still tried and tested.  Sometimes if even gets more difficult as "evil" can try to intervene and keep us from our mission...from our purpose...from His (our Father's) purpose.  So, what do we seek for help at those moments?  Do we rely on good, light, and things which we cannot see and are eternal?  Or do we look for the easy answer and rely on what we can see, which is temporal?

In A Wrinkle in Time, that temporal answer is It.  A pulsing brain that controls everyone and everything in Its power.  It's the easy way.  People see it, feel it, and either passively allow It to take over, or choose to let It take over because it's easier...it's less work...It may seem like the answers are there for you, but It only fails you, leaving you empty and hopeless and even more afraid because you DON'T have answers, or even agency to choose.

I loved this book.  My book is littered with my commentary.  I can't recommend it enough.  A week later, I'm still thinking about it.

Monday, January 13, 2014


On Friday I went to get Callie from school...and when she met me outside of her classroom, there was a huge bandage that covered her entire chin.

"What happened Callie?!"

She bashfully said, "I fell."

I know Callie gets embarrassed really easily and as much as she loves attention, I know there are times when she most certainly doesn't.  This, I knew, would be one of those times.  We started our walk home before I asked her what happened.  She had been playing at recess with some kids.  Tommy was being a zombie and was chasing after a few of them to eat their brains.  Naturally.  She tripped, fell, and scraped her chin on the cement.  She told me she cried and went over to the teacher, who helped clean off her hands and let her get a drink of water.  She chose Mattea as her buddy to go down to the nurse.

The nurse had told her that she could take the bandage off when she got home, and that's exactly what she did.  You can't tell in this picture, but her chin was so swollen.  It made me so sad.  Luckily I think it should heal up pretty well as the fall seemed to only take off the first layer of skin.  By now, it has scabbed up and I think it'll be ok.

My heart broke a little when she explained what happened.  I so badly wished I had been there for her.  When she gets hurt at home, she comes to me.  I hold her, sway back and forth, brush her hair to the side, and am with her until she's ready to move on.  I couldn't help but ask about every detail.  I wanted to know who was there, immediately, for her.  Did she have to find the teacher, or did she see it and come to her?  Was she sad?  Did she feel brave, or did it just hurt too much?  She handled it all like a champ...and that's a relief.  It really is.  I want her to be able to take care of herself, recognize who is available to help, etc.  But, I still wish I had been the one there to help her.  I think it's just one of those things that moms feel when their babies get older.

When she got home, I made her lunch but it hurt to eat.  Opening and closing her mouth hurt.  So, yep, she got a McDonald's vanilla shake.  Because the occasion called for it.  Then she played with her friend, AJ, and all was forgotten.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday with the Family

We don't see some of our extended family as much as we'd like...and yes, I'm referring to Micah's birth family.  But tonight, they came over for dinner, dessert, and fun.  And we finally shared our Christmas gifts with each other!

We gave Lindsey and her mom some of my sugar scrubs and a potted bulb that should turn into a beautiful flower.  That's the plan anyway.  They both looked like they were struggling, but time will tell.  At least it's a really pretty pot.  We also gave Lindsey a book and...my favorite...an ornament of Micah's hand print.  It's supposed to be an ornament, but his print is so big, we joked about it being a wall hanging, a coaster, a plate...anything but an ornament!  I had these done when he was around 9 mths old.  I wanted Lindsey to have that...a hand she could always touch and see.  I loved how it turned out and we got the reaction I was hoping for.  She loved it.

The kids...wow!  Between gifts from Great-grandma Sheila, Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Mike, and Lindsey and Bud...they made out like bandits!

Stuffed animals
Awesome old school blocks
A car that lights up
Clothes for Little Man M
A plastic pool for the backyard
AND...a bag of 100 plastic balls which are killer awesome.  Seriously, the kids love them and they are perfect for Sammy, Callie, and Micah.  Hours of fun ahead.

AND, to top it off, Lindsey got us a gift (as if she needs to do that!).  Have you heard of Yonanas?  I hadn't until I opened the gift, but I have to say, I'm so so so excited to try it out.

We don't see this wonderful people enough.

Micah and Daddy lounging and watching the fun

Micah with Lindsey's phone.  How surprising...Micah holding a phone?!

Everyone playing and chatting

Grandpa Mike, Steve, Lindsey, Micah, Callie, Grandma Cindy, Sammy

Lindsey, Steve, Me
Do I really look that tired?

Until next time....

Friday, January 10, 2014

Searching for the Smith's -- And Answer to Prayer

Last night I went to bed praying for the Smith's and those searching.  Again, I couldn't shut of my mind, or my prayers, once I was "formally" done.

And then I feel like I was reminded of all the MIGHTY miracles that have taken place since the search began...and probably 100's more that are unheard and unseen by us all.  I was so humbled by the immense love and Christ-like service that has been put forward for this family.  I'm a better person because of all those involved and because of the Smith's.

And I truly believe we are all working under the direction of that same miraculous God who created the world, created man... "But behold, I will show unto you a God of miracles, even the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is that same God who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are." Mormon 9:11

And I also strongly believe that time and again prayers have been answered because of the united faith of hundreds, thousands of people.

"Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ is shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of earth."  Mormon 9:21

My prayer has been that this plane be found.  That we find this faithful, strong family who was on the plane.  And if it be His will, that they are ok.  I feel peace in that prayer.  And I believe, I know, those prayers are being answered.

And I know they are being answered through the hard work of others who are joining together and humbling spending hours of their time for a greater cause...even laying down their daily lives (time, energy, taking days of work, etc) for others.  That's compassion.  That's charity.  That, to me, is seeing a glimpse of Christ's face in the many who are involved.

I am a better person because of this all.  And though that may be little to some, I feel forever indebted to so many.

And....it made me think one more thought that has been lingering...

It is easy to question Why?  I don't claim to know the answer, but as I contemplated all those who are laying down their daily lives on behalf of others...I thought of those on the plane.  If they were not able to survive, in a way, have they not laid down their lives for me....for us?  Goodness, even if they are out there waiting for someone to find them...Has a loving Father not used this to change my heart, to change many hearts?  I'm not saying that that was the purpose of this accident...rather, an outcome.  A result.

I'm full of faith, hope, and love.  And even those involved in the search who do not believe in God or who have a different faith ~ I think we'd all say we've become better people because of this.  That we are all filled with hope and love.

Maybe it's the Smith's that I will be eternally indebted to.

I think that seems right.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

How to Work for Yourself by Bryan Cohen

The official title?  How to Work for Yourself: 100 Ways to Make the Time, Energy and Priorities to Start a Business, Book or Blog.

Why did I read it?  It was free on my Kindle (that I got for Christmas and am in 100% love with.  I love it!)

Am I glad I read it?  Surprisingly, yes.

It was an early morning.  1:00 am.  I couldn't fall asleep and was getting really annoyed.  I pulled out my new Paperwhite...my new source of happiness...and browsed through the free books.  I settled on this.  And I found myself more motivated.  Yea!  Success.  The truth is, I have been sitting on a book draft for quite some time.  Quite. Some. Time.  I have recently come to realize that I am afraid to move forward.  I have 1 last step...well, maybe a couple...and I just can't bring myself to do it.  And, I do believe it's because I am afraid that this baby of mine will be rejected over and over and over again.

This little e-book helped me feel like I could actually do it.  And I will.  What I enjoyed about this read was that it looked at the whole person...if you want to get something big done, you need to prioritize and take care of the whole picture -- mind, body, spirit, and put in the work and time to build whatever it is you want to create.

Since reading this (which took about an hour or so), I have been working on my book again.  And, since it's been so long since I touched it, I'm finding it will take me some more time because I have to reread, re-organize, etc.  But that's ok.  I feel like I'm in it again.

So, thank you Bryan Cohen.  You make $0 on me as I read your book, but you have given me motivation to move forward with something that is important to me and that could potentially reach and help others.  You will be rewarded in full...Karma's on your side brother.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy Birthday Callie

Today Callie is six.  Yesterday, January 5, was her birthday.  And I'm in shock!

Helping me bake her birthday cake, she gets the privilege of eating the birthday batter.
Birthdays sneak up on you when you are least prepared.  I'm not ready for her to get older, yet, I have more and more fun with her the older she gets...so in a way, I love it too.  Callie's taught me a lot about life, but I just happen to love being taught about her.  One of the best roles I have is being her mom.  She was divinely placed in our home, and I take being her mom very seriously.  I want to teach her, love her, take care of her, protect her, comfort her, and be everything she needs me to be.  I love watching her develop into this smart and funny, beautiful and strong little girl.

Her choice: chocolate cake with white frosting
Callie may appear to have a rougher shell.  But, as her mom, I'm among the few who see her soft, super sensitive filling.  She's sweet, tender, caring...I've referred to her as my buddy many times, and it's true.  We laugh and play together, talk and pray together.  I love her so much.

Callie is such a great sister.  Sammy and Micah are so lucky to have such a great sister who adores them both!
The other day, she made some bad choices that resulted in her losing some privileges.  She cried and it. broke. my. heart.  It broke my heart!  If Bryan hadn't been here, I'm pretty sure I would have cried with her.  It was so hard to stay firm.  But of course I had to follow through.

"I can't believe I'm  years old!"
Yesterday I asked, "Callie!  You're 6 years old!  Can you believe it?!"
"No.  I just can't believe it.  It's like I'm in a dream!"
I've been thinking about that situation a lot the past couple days.  I think my love for her grew 125x stronger because of that experience.  Really, it wasn't a big deal.  We couldn't watch a movie for family movie night and she had to wait for this next week.  It's not life or death.  But to her little mind and life experience...it was something she had waited for all week (which is a very long time for a little girl).  And my heart broke.  And it also grew.

I love her so much.  And I'm not the only one.  She's surrounded by tons of people who love her.  And the night before her birthday, we talked about Latice ~ her birthmom.  "Callie, this time 6 years ago, Latice was  in labor and getting ready to give birth to you...." and we talked about how much she loves Callie and took really good care of her so that she would be the healthy baby that she was.  What a gift.  On Callie's birthday, we also remember the woman who brought her here to us and is probably remembering those moments, herself.

Nate was happier than he looks.  He even made Callie the cutest little picture that we're putting in her scrapbook...a picture with cake, Lambie, and balloons.  It was an awesome gift!
Yesterday Callie was beaming (still is) and in love with the decorations around the house and the balloons in front room.  She loves that it is her day.  It's a fun day, and it should be.  But inside my heart, it's more than fun....it's a beautiful, and in many ways, a miraculous day.

I'm surrounded by beautiful people.

Sammy's singing Happy Birthday along with us!

Thanks Grandma and Grandpa for the soccer bag!

It was a long, exhausting birthday day.  Time to cuddle up in the storage container and chill before bedtime!

We love you Callie.  Happy 6th Birthday Sweetheart.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Balloons for Brady

Just before Christmas, a sweet little boy passed away.  I can't imagine losing any of my babies, but the timing of it seemed especially heart-wrenching.  Brady was like Sammy in many ways, and so his passing touched my heart in a way that was especially heartfelt.  It reminded me how fragile life is.  Too often, I get in the mode of "life."  I forget that each moment is a gift.  Maybe that's not all together a bad thing.  If I dwelt on every single minute I had with my children, maybe I'd never get anything done....and we are here to learn and grow and be productive as well.

But, when the scale leans to heavily on one side...the one where I forget to treasure our moments together, the hugs, the kisses, the giggles and even the troubles...then that imbalance can be heartbreaking.

Brady has helped me realign my focus.  To balance the scales.

The day of his funeral, those who could not attend let balloons go in his memory...in his honor.

This was the day of Analisa's wedding.  We were busy, having fun, being with family.  But we did not forget Brady and his family.

As we got Samantha and the kids dressed for the wedding, I thought of Brady.
As I did Samantha's hair 5,000,000 times because she kept turning her head or pulling at it, I thought of Brady.
As we took pictures together, I thought of Brady.
As I pushed Sammy around in her wheelchair, I thought of Candice...Brady's mom.
As Callie pushed Sammy in her wheelchair, I thought of Brady's sister, Camryn.
As we passed the balloons that led us into the reception, I thought of Brady.
As I gave Sammy her medicine that night, I thought of Brady.

We didn't send our balloons off that day, but we did the next day, when the sun was shining and the sky was a beautiful clear blue.

As Callie let go of Brady's balloons, we both noticed how those hearts stayed close together most of the time.  When they got way up in the sky, the wind seemed to pull them apart, but then quickly after, they were pulled together again and stayed together until we lost sight of them.  I couldn't help but think about how symbolic that is of Candice and her baby boy.  Five short years, together, every minute.  And then one day, they are separated, but only for a moment.  Does it feel like a moment?  How could it?  It must feel like eternity, this physical separation.  But what I put my faith and hope in is my strong belief that we are always close by.  Even if we can't touch or feel our loved ones close by for now, they are close.  Our hearts can't be separated just by death.  And one day, that reunion...when the wind blows us back together...will be an eternal reunion.

Until then, though, we mourn and feel the loss, because we have loved so deeply.  We are human beings living a human experience that involves pain.  We help remind others that this mortal life is short.  We realign our priorities.  And we are there for each other the best we can be.  We hug.  We pray for each other.  We we let balloons go in the air for each other.  Because, sometimes that's all we can do.  That's all I really felt like I could do.  I don't know Candice or Brady or Camryn personally.  But I will always feel a connection with them and continue to pray for them.  They, as well as many of my friends who have lost their children, will need a lifetime of prayers.  And that, I can do for them.  And I will.

Friday, January 3, 2014

December Was Busy

Before Callie was St. Lucia, we had a lot going on.  Thanksgiving came and went and before we knew it, it was Christmas!  Here's our last 2 weeks before Christmas....yikes...here we go:

 we trimmed the tree
while Sammy supervised

 we ate homemade cinnamon roasted almonds

 and snuggled in Callie's bed

 we went to Christmas in the Park and looked at all the trees
(even though we only see his backside, I love this picture of Micah)

 and tried to get a cousins shot

 and we met Santa.

 and clearly Samantha is overwhelmed by the entire experience.

 Callie was our St. Lucia again this year.  It's a Swedish tradition that the oldest daughter in a family dresses up as St. Lucia and gives out cookies, but Callie has taken that role, and I think Sammy approves.  Together we made sugar cookies and she performed her duties.

 Micah continued to grow and stun his fans.
 While Callie and Sammy cuddle on the chair.

 Callie performed in the kindergarten rendition of The Nutcracker and joyfully played the role as a candy ribbon doll.  If I figure out how to download my video, you'll be able to actually see her dance.  I have to admit, I teared up watching her on stage.  She knew her part and seemed to lead the others along...but she did NOT smile.  Later, when I asked if she was nervous, she said, "No, I was really excited.  But I didn't smile.  I didn't want people to see me smile."  I'm not sure why exactly, but ya know.  That's Callie for you.

 This picture cracks me up.  T is all smiles and Callie looks like this is among the most painful things she's had to endure in her lifetime!

 She began to loosen up though as we kept taking pictures.


Christmas Sunday pictures?  Not going to happen.

 ok ok ok.  Fine, just one more.

  I give up trying to get a solo shot of Sammy.

 This is maybe the best one, even with Sammy not looking

 This could have worked if it didn't look like Callie was about to kill.

 Christmas Eve
Wise Man and Angel
 3 Wisemen

It was a magical, wonderful Christmas.


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