Thursday, March 31, 2011

That they may be a memorial

I thought I was finishing a long marathon. Coming up for air after 6 very sick months felt a little like crossing the finish line and crashing on the sidelines to rest.  Imagine my surprise to find a brand new race, longer and steeper than any I've ever faced awaiting me when I looked up.   My Ladybug has a new diagnosis that has rocked all our worlds.  Her healing requires the FULL time attention of one parent, preferably her mother.  The amazing new world we have entered is so strange, so alien to our knowledge, yet we were unmistakeably led here by the grace of God.  We have hope for the first time in 5 years, yet we are weighed by the enormity of the task that lies in front of us, particularly me.  It is completely overwhelming, new, and uncharted, not to mention drains every ounce of energy I posses. 

If that were not enough, my sweetie revealed heart trouble last night.  He is scheduled for admittance to the hospital early tomorrow morning for tests... He tried to keep it from me, he worries about my stress level already, but we are a team, a couple, and good, bad, or stressful, we do all things together. 

Last night I spooned my husband until I heard his rhythmic breathing and the new small snore that has been our new bed companion this last year.   I wandered the halls with a lump in my throat, too dazed to even conceive of the burdens I now carried.  I surfed the internet and looked up angioplasty, post procedure diets, life style changes, and anything else I could find that might be of help to my little family.  I wrote my mother an incoherent letter hoping that someone somewhere would hear the pleadings of my heart.  In silence I pled, "Father, can you see me down here?  Have you made some sort of mistake piling all this on at once?  Were you mistaking me for someone else?"  But mainly, I simply questioned my own strength.

Tonight was our stake women's conference.  Though often I can take or leave it, I felt compelled to go.  Probably it had a lot to do with the fact that one of my favorite L.D.S. authors was the scheduled speaker.  Briz was called out just prior to the conference, but inexplicably, they called back and said they didn't need him after all.  Jodi and I arrived late and picked one of the last available tables in a room of approximately 450 women.  As we began dinner, our speaker, Emily Freeman and her two daughters, Megan, age 14, and Grace, age 11 were seated next to me.  A nudge hit my mind and heart.  "Pay close attention!"  it whispered.  "There is a reason." 

Never one to let people sit uncomfortable, I started conversation with Megan, then in a while her mother Emily.  She told me of a new book that would be coming out in August about happy days and joyful thoughts.  "I'll be needing that."  I joked.  She looked sharply at me. "Why?  What is happening?"  Well that was an awfully personal question from someone I didn't know.... I hadn't even told my close friends or family.  Surprised, I choked out a short choppy answer of Bug's new diagnosis and journey. "We've been walking that road."  She answered matter-of-factly.  She went on to tell me of a niece diagnosed a year prior, and a sister who had been walking the the road of constant companion and therapist that I am currently walking.  She told of the amazing progress.  She assured me we had the best therapist the state had to offer and told me much else.  I quickly changed the topic.  After much more stimulating conversation, I joked that it had been so great I could go home now.  "No."  she said.  "When I arrived I realized my talk was not on what they had asked.  I now know it is for you." 

I sat on the front row with her daughters... darling and sweet beyond belief and listened.  As word by word came from her mouth, I heard the voice of God, of my loving Father in Heaven, who heard my very personal plea last night and knowing before I did that I would cry out, he had his answer lovingly prepared.  There midst 450 women, he found me.

He reminded me of the long journeys many of his servants have made in the past.  He  spoke of Jared who dared to ask for a land choice above all other lands... and got what he asked for.  Joshua who told the people to sanctify themselves for tomorrow God would be in their midst and work wonders.  He told me through his word in Joshua that we would deliver me without fail.  He reminded me that Joshua upon seeing the unassailable obstacles in the wilderness said, "Give me this mountain!"  and that "when he had compassed it long enough, the released him and allowed him to move on northward.  I know that the "Lord knoweth that I am in the wilderness and has been with me the entire time."  I was reminded that the miracle on all these scriptural journeys didn't happen at their destination, but somewhere along that heart wrenching journey.    Somewhere in the step by step journey over the wilderness, the women with Nephi, gained strength, like unto the men and became Christ's. 

These and many other things did he say to me this evening through Emily. 

I returned home to my daughter waiting for me to put her to bed.  She had questions.  When I told her there would be no T.V. or computers for a year for any of us, she sobbed with a broken heart.  I was strengthened enough to bear fervent testimony of Heavenly Fathers love for her, of his immense grace in giving us this chance to heal her heart and mind and help her find happiness.  "We can do hard things."  I told her.  "We can and with his help, we will."  We took turns praying for her peace and comfort.  She asked for help as she faced the challenge of the coming year.  It was a priceless experience with my daughter, and yet another huge turning point in a long line of turning points that has led us here.

As Joshua and the people crossed over the river Jordan over dry land, he had each of the priests pick up a stone, that they might remember the hand of the Lord in their lives.  I write these things that I may remember, step by step, day by day... he is bringing us to a choice land.  He not only sees us, he is with me.  I know for tonight, I have heard his voice.   

Sunday, March 27, 2011

School is in Session - Part 1 Flora, by Ladybug

Instead of going to school, I went backpacking with my Dad and some friends to learn about nature and Indian ruins, especially Anasazi ruins.  These are some of the plants that we saw and I learned the names for.

I didn't expect to see aspens in the middle of the desert.

This juniper tree was the biggest that I have ever seen.  It must have been hundreds of years old.

There were many of these cacti on the trail.  We had to watch out not to step on them.  Ouch!

This tree really wanted to reach for the sky.  It was very tough to grow.

The willows grew large and in many shapes.  They were great for climbing.

This plant is mormon tea.  We didn't try to make tea. The plant  tasted yucky.

Moss grew on the rocks.  It is very soft.

Succulents were some of the first plants to come out after the winter.  Some were reddish.

The last night we camped in a shady canyon by cottonwood trees.  I almost froze in the morning until we made it to sunshine in another canyon.  It was 25-30 degrees F that night.  Brrrrr!

Some people call this snake grass, others call it straw grass.  I think it is fun to play with.

There was sagebrush there.  Just like everywhere else in Utah.

This stuff is called bio- something or other.  It has many ingredients including living organisms.  It takes hundreds of years to form.  We were careful not to walk on it.

One day it snowed huge flakes for half the day.  My feet got wet and I was cold letting the wind dry my feet.  but I was brave.  I think I learned more on this trip than I would have if I was in school.

Sunday Stations

Today our 20 minute stations:

1.  Interview and goal setting session with Dad (All kids have the same issue.  They all think we love the others more.)

2.  Look through or read scripture books (Everyone's least favorite.  They wanted to move after 15 minutes)

3.  Write letters to loved ones far away (Each child picked someone different. (I hope their mom is on the ball enough to mail them all.)

4.  Listen to a story from the friend, memorize articles of faith or play prophets matching game at  

Wow all the new computer applications on this program are amazing.  I had to tear the kids off this one.  

Next week some of the stations will be different.  

I finish the bread while Dad takes Little Mother on a walk for some one on one.  

We finish the day with a fine performance of Marin and Little Robin.  

The scenery...

The fire ( a flashlight is planted inside)

The touching scene showing sisterly love

 In which all is well before Red Robin is kidnapped and Marin must search the mountains with 12 dwarfs to find her. 

 Sunday is almost over.  Its time for some planning and healing time with my sweetie.  Night!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stress Busters

Things at our house can get kind of intense sometimes.  We have a schedule to keep, brain gym, exercise, homework, chores, chauffeuring, scripture study, meal preparation... you know... the list.  On top of which loving consequences must be maintained for lack of respect, and poor choices.  

To balance out the serious and mundane nature of life, craziness occasionally must rule.  A new favorite for most in the the castle, is squirt whipped cream mustaches.  Cackling like a demented witch, I chase them around the house  with my cream cannon aimed and ready for 5-10 minutes till I catch and "cream" them.  These three embraced the chase.  However, Little Mother cried.  After I apologized, I was allowed to give her careful artistic facial cream. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How to get a child to wash their hands

Little Mother is grubby.  She loves purses, accessorizing, brand name clothes, beautiful fabrics and style, but she is a little dirt ball.  Because she sucks her sticky dirty thumb, she is usually the first to bring an illness for all of us to share and enjoy.

I had the after school snack ready to go in 3 Styrofoam bowls.  The timer was set for 8 minutes to bring focus to little ones who want to snack till dinner time.  "Oh we've GOT to wash our hands.  Have you washed your hands Sunshine?"  They proceeded into the bathroom as I watched in amazement.  "Have you heard of tapeworms?"  she quietly asked her sister.  "They are THIS big and LIVE in your intestines!  I learned about them in school today.  This guy keeps a whole bunch of them in a bottle and brought them in."  They scrubbed under their fingernails and up their arms.

As Briz and I recapped our day with our little ones, sharing the experiences the other had missed, he shared some funnies with Little Mother.  As they drove home from soccer practice, she asked him if a tapeworm could kill a person.  He explained that first you'd get skinny then the doctors would find it... etc. etc.  He had more insight into her question a few hours later.  Little Mother had pulled an abdominal muscle during last week during soccer practice.  It takes a bit of time to heal.  As the house quieted, she crept downstairs and in horror confided, "My stomach hurts in a long line.  I think I have a tapeworm."   He felt the damaged muscle and quieted her fears but noted that she went back up and gave her body another good scrub.  

I for one go on record as fully supporting the study and examination of tapeworms.  I look forward to a healthier new year.  Please accept this humble post as my contribution to the cleanliness of children everywhere.  Love You!!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

True Beauty

 "I love you Mom."  She called as I left the room and turned out the hall lights.  She was drawing a seascape a sunset, trying to capture her definition of "true beauty." 
"I love you too honey."  I called back as I curved up the winding staircase. 
The day did NOT start like this.  Jodi called me at 8:40 a.m. and found me breathing hard.  Aspergers has hit hard lately in our home and it hit particularly hard this morning.  All residents of the upstairs were wakened by screaming attacks and frustration.  It escalated till time for school.  My brave husband offered to be my knight in shining armor by driving carpool.  He hoped  to stem the flood of anger and emotion.  We are scheduled to attend a conference on parenting at risk children tomorrow... but it can't come too soon.

"Oh dear."  Jodi sympathizes.  "That poor little one must have so much trauma going on inside her head."  I agreed but secretly thought I had more sympathy for the poor mom.  Not content to leave us in this situation, Jodi called back in the afternoon.  "I'm speaking in Bountiful tonight.  Why don't you and Ladybug join me for the drive and dinner and we'll all have a special night together."

We enjoyed a nice drive together.  We ate a delicious dinner.  Jodi gave a fabulous presentation on virtue and true beauty.  Virtue defined by President Hinkley is seeking out the good, and avoiding the bad.  True beauty is virtue.  She invited Ladybug up to the front and made her part of the presentation.  Ladybug answered a few questions then sat down.  After many slices of homemade chocolate cake we drove home.  I asked Ladybug about her favorite part of the evening.  "Going up to the front with Jodi."  she replied.

Jodi dropped us off and gave Ladybug a plaque she had made about true beauty.  "Thank you so much for being my special visitor!  It meant so much that you would come with me."  Bug smiled and happily tromped into the house and WILLINGLY down to bed.

As I wash my face and think about the day and about Jodi's message... I want to paint my own picture of virtue or "true beauty."  My dear friend found me in pain.  She recognized my daughter lives in pain.  Without concern about what others would think or how it would fit into her presentation, she offered my daughter and I a pre-built date to soothe our ruffled feathers as we spent time together.  She further pulled Ladybug up in front of 100 others and used her as an example of virtue  in a troubled world... She built her soul, her self esteem, her happy feelings.  If that weren't enough, she brought her a special memento.  According to Jodi, virtue includes, "compassion, reverence for motherhood, righteous influence, sympathy, and good works.  Jodi asked Ladybug to draw her a picture of true beauty.

Add caption
This post is my picture.  True beauty called me at 8:40 this morning.  True beauty picked me up at 5:20.  True beauty spoke to a group of women all night after they had spent the afternoon volunteering at the House of Hope.  True beauty ate chocolate cake with me and my daughter while sporting a headache from much serving.  True beauty then offered to take my children tomorrow as I attend the conference on emotionally disturbed children.  True Beauty drives a white mini van with cookie sheets that slide from the the back to the front since she has not had time to remove them since serving them to the addiction recovery women.  Virtue in action. 


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I'm not Dad

Briz and Ladybug are off on another adventure.  They are backpacking 33 miles in the four corners area, exploring Indian ruins, and roughing it.  I keep checking the weather and it is raining and snowing there.... I try not to panic, but we pray several times each day for them to be safe and warm.

In the meantime, I've tried to occupy the other girls the best I can.  With almost 1/2 of our clan gone for 5 days,  the castle takes on a bit of a party atmosphere.  Sunshine says, "We've had a girls night out since Friday!" 

We've gone to movies,
eaten out,
purchased ice cream shakes,
bounced off the walls,
played with friends,
made exorbiant desserts,
played board games,
had spa night,
pierced ears,

covered walls with polka dots, you name it.

Yet, last night, after a long and fun evening, I read a final bedtime story and crawled into my own bed to read.  After an hour I heard sobbing, soft and sorrowful.  It didn't stop.  "Daddy.  Daddy."  My little one called into the dark.  I crept into her room and lay down.  "What's wrong sweetie?"  "I miss Daddy.  I miss him giving me a snuggle."

"I'm here giving you a snuggle."

"Well, sometimes he weads fun bedtime stowies to me."

"I just read a fun bedtime story to you."

"Well, sometimes, he is thew in bed when I have a bad dream."

"Come on now, you slept with me two nights ago when you had a bad dream." 

"Mom, I just miss Daddy.  Don't you?"

Finally, I get it.  He fills a special need, a special niche in their life.  In my arrogance, I assumed that because I spend more of their waking hours with them, filling their needs, feeding them, calming them, playing with them, doing homework, crafts, and worrying about them, that I met all their needs.  It was humbling to hear from my littlest that even at my best and funnest, I do not.  They need a daddy, their daddy who loves them. 

I am glad, so glad to not have to be everything in their lives.  Because, obviously, I can't.