Wednesday, April 30, 2008

last day of the month...

Since it's the last day of April, I figure I better post about something. I seriously can't figure where this month has gone...I mean, is April really over? The past couple months have been super crazy for me...but in a good way (minus Ruby's little accident). I was thinking recently about how boring my life would be without the church, as the majority of what keeps me busy can be directly connected to my membership in the church. Now, I'm not saying that I spend every minute of every day fulfilling my calling, or reading my scriptures and praying, or serving everyone around me. Although I would love to be able to make those claims, I also believe that the Lord expects us to be well balanced.
Looking back over the month, I feel happy, as we have most definitely managed to maintain a good balance between work, and service...and fun. Of course, I owe most my social enjoyment, as well, to the fact that I'm a member of the church. After all, where is it that I have met most of my friends?...You guessed church. So, without the gospel, my life really would be so empty. I'm so grateful to my Heavenly Father for blessing me with something that not only brings so much happiness and enjoyment to my life, but that also provides me with a great deal of purpose and structure.

I haven't been very good at documenting our day to day dealings as of late, but because I rarely leave the house without my camera, we can (for this month at least) allow the pictures to tell the stories...

This was actually the day before Easter. Grandma Judy and Paul and Amy were in town, and we all went to see the Easter Bunny, ate lunch, and rode the carousel.

My friend Celeste introduced me to the neatest park in Scottsdale. It has the most darling little train, fun carousel, playgrounds, and cute lunch place. Both times we went, it was quite an adventure trying to keep up with Ruby, who was constantly running away from me. One time I finally caught up to her, and found her in a wagon that didn't belong to us.

This picture - of my friend Tara's sweet little Ashley - was taken at a park near our house. A few of us friends got together, took the kids to the park, and had a picnic while our husbands were at the Priesthood session of conference.

Ruby looks miserable in the picture below...but I promise, she really did enjoy herself.

Here she is completely enthralled in the Sunday morning session of enthusiasm which lasted all of 3 minutes.

Because we were on the go so much this month, Ruby didn't get too many naps in her own bed. Lucky for me, she'll fall asleep anywhere.

We've attended a few of John's softball games. Ruby is so cute cheering for her daddy. "Go John!" she yells.

This month we rediscovered the Drive-In movies! We've gone three times now, and we're hooked! It's so much fun because we can take Ruby and not worry about the fact that she really doesn't sit still, and that she really isn't all that quiet during movies. She has actually caught on to the fact that when we transport her car seat into "daddy's car", it means we're going to the movies. She loves this new little family tradition. Well, of course she does...who wouldn't love to eat goodies and stay up way past bed time?

Ruby loves her friends Ava and Sofia. (And sweet little Evelynne too, but Evelynne and her mommy weren't able to make this play date). This pic was taken at a nearby park. Look how adorable these three are with their sunglasses. Barnes & Noble does a story time and craft for the kids that we've been going to. I love it because it gives me and Ruby a chance to get out of the house and enjoy time with our friends. Plus we always go out to lunch afterwards...and going out to lunch is probably one of my all time favorite things to do.

Ruby loves being with the girls, but she also has some pretty adorable little boy friends...

Here we have a couple of the cutest little boys ever...Ty (above) and JR (below). Celeste and I took the kids to another beautiful park where we took lots of pictures, did some hiking, and then ate lunch. It was a really fun - really eventful - day, and both Ty and Ruby conked out in the car on the way home.

My friend Amber and I took the kids to the new San Tan Village. We did some shopping, went to lunch, and then rewarded the kids by letting them play for a while in the fountains.

Ruby is totally ready for a sibling. Look how cute she is with little baby Brenner.

These last two were taken on Friday night. John and I took turns going to the temple, so while he was inside, Ruby and I enjoyed some quality time together on the beautiful temple grounds. She was in the friendliest mood, and waved at every person that we passed. (See below.)

Monday, April 28, 2008


It's Ruby's very own, very unique way, of saying "glasses" - another of her most recent obsessions. A few weeks ago, she happened upon a pair of newborn sunglasses - a baby shower gift from my sisters, given before Ruby was even born. Being that they were intended for a newborn, they came equipped with a comfortable, cushiony strap designed to fit around the baby's head to hold them in place. Ruby no longer has that tiny newborn head, but has been insistent on wearing the glasses anyway. Most the time they end up just hanging from her neck because they're too uncomfortably tight to wear for long periods of time. But she loves them, nonetheless. Since then, she has discovered other glasses in different styles, shapes, and colors; each of which, at one point, has been considered to be her favorite.

So whether they're too big...

or too small...

or too broken...

or too blurry (because either they're mom's prescription glasses, or they're doubled up with another pair, or both)...

Ruby simply can't live...

...without her "sasses".

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

fweep fwops...

Isn't it interesting how most children seem to have a special comfort item...something tangible that they just can't live without? Ever since Ruby was born, she immediately became attached to her binky, which still today, remains her constant. But it seems like every week or so, she becomes attached to something new...from baby dolls to blankies, and everything in between. And, apart from her binky, this particular "item of the week", seems to be the only thing that will bring a smile during her most grief-stricken moments.
This week it's flip flops, which she affectionately refers to as her "fweep fwops". She's always had an interest in our shoes, and more particularly, our flip flops, so when we were at Old Navy, and she spotted some in her very own size (actually just a couple sizes too big)...she, well, didn't hide the the fact that she really, really wanted them. We bought her two pairs (since they were 2 for $5), which she has worn alternately for going on two weeks now. It just makes me laugh to think that she could actually love these things enough to want to wear them to bed - not to mention...

in the shower.

Look closely and you'll notice that she's holding another very important comfort item in her left hand.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

something to look forward to...

I love that John only works 5 minutes from home and that we get to enjoy lunch together almost everyday. Whether it's leftovers at home, pb & J's at the office, or out to one of our favorite restaurants, our lunch hour together is something I look forward to each day. Yesterday we went to AJ's where they have an outdoor grill. I don't know what it is about that place that I love so much. More than the food, I think it's the ambiance that I really enjoy. I love the patio garden cafe feel, and the small wrought iron tables and chairs, and the pots overflowing with bright colored flowers, and the fact that it's located in one of the cutest little shopping centers around...
For these reasons and more, I always get excited about lunch at AJ's. Plus there's nothing quite like a big ol' ice cold coke to go with your big ol' juicy - hot off the grill - cheeseburger.

That is...unless your daughter gets a hold of it, and finishes it off herself.

I made the mistake, when Ruby was really young, of letting her try some of my coke. Looks like it's had a lasting effect on her, as she wouldn't even give daddy's lemonade a chance.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

when i knew i knew...

We just concluded another wonderful general conference. I really love conference weekend...and this particular weekend was no exception. I felt like so many of the messages communicated directly to my heart.
Ronald A. Rasband - presidency of the Seventy, spoke of our life's experiences, and how they shape our character and build the foundation of who we are. He stated that our personal life experiences become building blocks for our testimonies and add to our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Think of special experiences you have been blessed with in your life, he challenged, that have given you conviction and joy in your heart.

Remember when you first knew that Joseph Smith was God's prophet of the restoration?

Yes. I do remember when I first knew that Joseph Smith was God's prophet of the restoration. From a small child I have known of Joseph Smith. My parents taught me about him. I learned about him in primary and other church settings. I had read about his experiences in the pages proceeding the Book of Mormon. Ever since I can even remember, I knew that Joseph Smith was God's prophet of the restoration. However, there is a moment, a precise and exact moment, in which I knew I knew that He really was God's prophet of the restoration. I was serving as a missionary in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I cannot recall in which area I was serving, nor whom I was serving with...but the little house that we had been welcomed into, and the small table that we were sitting around, will forever remain etched in my memory. We were teaching the first discussion and it was my turn to introduce Joseph Smith (something I had done countless times before). I remember as I began reciting his experience, the one which we refer to as the First Vision, my heart began to burn within me. I struggled to get through it because the tears were clouding my vision, and the lump in my throat obstructed the passage for my words to make their glorious escape. The Spirit was stronger than I had ever before felt it, and it was then that I really knew - without a shadow of doubt - what I thought I had known all along. That Joseph Smith did indeed see the Savior at the right hand of God, and that he was/is indeed God's prophet of the restoration!

Remember when you accepted Moroni's challenge, Elder Rasband inquires, and knew that the Book of Mormon was indeed another testament of Jesus Christ?

Yes. I do remember when I knew that the Book of Mormon was another testament of Jesus Christ. Once again, the Book of Mormon was very familiar to me as a child. Before I was old enough to read, my faithful parents read to me from the pages of the Book of Mormon. We had family scripture study most mornings before school, and I can remember how that very act welcomed a power in our home...a very real, and beautiful, and peaceful power. A power that was noticeably absent the mornings we forwent our study. I always knew that the Book of Mormon was true. That all the prophets and the accounts therein were true. But I will never forget the moment, the precise and exact moment, in which I knew I knew of it's truthfulness. I was a teenager. I can't remember what grade I was in, or which house we were living in, but the witness I received, and the peace that enveloped me, will forever remain etched in my memory. I had just finished reading the Book of Mormon for the very first time, all on my own. Although I believed that the Book was true, I felt impressed to accept Moroni's challenge. On my knees I went and fervently asked my Heavenly Father to reveal it's truthfulness to me. And He did. And it was real. And in that very moment I knew - without a shadow of doubt - what I thought I had known all along. That the Book of Mormon was/is indeed another testament of Jesus Christ!

Elder Rasband posed the final question...Remember when you received an answer to fervent prayer and realized that your Heavenly Father knows and loves you personally?

Yes. I have had countless experiences in which the Lord has answered my plea, and at which point I have known - without a shadow of doubt - that he knows me and loves me personally!

Finally, I wish to share yet another personal experience that has become a building block for my testimony, and which has also added to my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

After President Hinckley passed away, I knew that President Monson, being the senior apostle, was going to be our next prophet. I watched the press conference just after the announcement was made, and knew that He was the prophet, and that he was called of God. I have grown up watching President Monson, looking forward to his talks at conference, and being inspired by his stories and countless life experiences. (In fact, in one of my very earliest journal entries, I recorded a poem that President Monson shared during one of the sessions of General Conference. I will never forget that poem, as it has had an impact on me throughout my life.) As with the aforementioned facets of my testimony, there was a moment, an exact and precise moment, in which I knew I knew that President Thomas S. Monson was indeed a prophet called and chosen of God. It was during the Saturday morning session of conference, April 5th, 2008. President Uchtdorf was handling the business of the sacred and memorable solemn assembly, in which the members worldwide, voted to sustain the officers of the church. I watched President Monson. I saw his face. His eyes. I could tell how humbled he was as he watched each quorum and each group stand to sustain him as the prophet. I was deeply moved. I was then invited to stand (being a member of the relief society), and cast my own personal sustaining vote; and that (right there in my own living room) is precisely when the spirit confirmed to my heart, my mind, my whole soul...when I knew - without a shadow of doubt - what I thought I had known all along. President Thomas S. Monson is God's prophet, his living oracle on the earth today!

I'm grateful for my parents who taught me, from a very young age, so many important gospel truths. I'm grateful for their immovable faith and unwavering testimonies, which testimonies I borrowed for a time. I'm grateful to the Spirit of the Lord, who has entered my heart, and who speaks peace and truth to my soul. Now I have my own testimony; and as I contemplate the special experiences which have - block by block - formed the foundation of my own personal testimony, I can now affirm the words of Elder Rasband and declare that these experiences, the moments in which I knew I knew, have given me a sense of gratitude and resolve to go forward with renewed faith and determination...

Friday, April 4, 2008

peace defeats my anguish...

I'm sitting in the back seat of the car, gripping my baby's icy little hands, as John - fingers gripping the cold, hard wheel - races us to the emergency room. Blood is pouring from her left (once flawless) snow white porcelain cheek. I'm more hysterical than she is as I peer closely into her mangled skin. Amidst the outpouring of blood I see that her bottom lip is torn and drooping resting on her quivering chin. I see the holes in her face and I'm haunted by the cogitation that my beautiful little daughter will never look the same again. All I want to do is call my dad. (The first thing I ever want to do when staring in adversity's face... is to call my dad.) He knows just what to say, and how to say it, and always says it just when I need to hear it the most. You've got to remain calm, Nicole. For yourself and for John, but especially for your sweet little must remain calm. He is so soft spoken. His words soothe me. I take control of my emotions. I take a few long deep breaths...and I stop crying. I feel at peace. Just hearing his voice puts me at ease.
It's a long night. It's one AM, and we're finally pulling into the driveway that leads to a safe and peaceful refuge...home sweet home. We gently lie our brave (and now reposed) little gem in her mom and dad's over sized bed. We kneel down beside her and thank our Heavenly Father for his multitude of tender mercies over us. We arise from our knees, and an overwhelming feeling of peace encompasses the both of us.
My tired eyes glance toward the nightstand, and finally focus on the thin red object that rests upon the table's hard smooth surface. It's my phone. The same thin red phone that was (understandably - amid the calamity and consternation of our evening's misfortune), forgotten at home. I have new messages. Eight new messages. One from each member of my family. I listen to them all and my heart swells with gratitude and love for each beloved family member. What would I do without these individuals in my life? They are true friends and true confidants. They are my support and my strength during life's joys, as well as amidst life's less-than-joyous moments. I feel peace as I listen to their words of comfort, encouragement, concern, and genuine love. The first message I hear is from my brother, Aaron. I listen to his gentle assurances as he explains Ruby's advantage of being so young; and that consequentially, she has a greater regenerative capacity. The spirit whispers the truthfulness of his words to my troubled soul...and once again, I am at peace.
The morning sun peers through the curtain drawn windows, announcing it's annihilation over the long, dark, and restless night. We have an appointment with the plastic surgeon today. He examines her distressed marked exterior, and then assures us that she will heal just perfectly. Children are resilient, he says, and within a year's time, I'm confident that her face won't even bear the slightest indication of this incident. Peace. I feel peace. Looking at her torn and jagged flesh, I don't understand how it could possible be, but, once again, peace defeats my anguish; and I have no doubt that my beautiful little baby will grow into a beautiful little girl, and then one day become a beautiful little lady.

It's now been three weeks, and as I watch her face regenerate and her wounds heal, I feel as calm and as peaceful as ever before.

I wanted to share these pictures so as to note her progress to date...

day 1

day 2

day 3

day 4

day 5

a week and 1/2

three weeks (yesterday)

Doesn't she just look amazing? Is it any wonder that I should feel as calm and as peaceful as I do...?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

sailing home to safe harbor...

Have you ever stopped to consider how closely this mortal experience can be compared to a journey upon the seas?...a spiritual sea voyage? Our Heavenly Father has sent us all out into the great deep, as captains of our own vessels, with instructions to find safe harbor by following the lighthouse. In other words, He has given us the gift of life, and each of us is endowed with the power to choose which direction our lives will take us...which way we will turn that wheel. He has lovingly given us a Savior - the light of the world - to lead us back home. Home to safe harbor. Home to the Celestial Kingdom. Not only has our Heavenly Father given us a Savior, but He has given us all the tools necessary to make it across the great deep. We are not alone. We have shipmates and stewards, (or friends, parents, leaders...prophets...etc.) all of whom have sailed the seas before us and who can warn us of the dangerous waters or hidden reefs (sin and temptation) that could cause the destruction of our vessels. We have been blessed with the companionship of The Holy Ghost - our pre-eminent Navigator - who will be our constant guide and lead us to safe harbor throughout our voyage. We have been given special tools such as navigational maps, compasses, binoculars, (scriptures, patriarchal blessings, church magazines), to help us cross these vast waters. We have a two way radio (prayer) that we are encouraged to use often. These tools will safeguard us from the destructive waters. They will protect our vessels from being twisted and tossed in the ferocious waves, and will preclude us from the possibility of being thrown from our ships into the dark, tempestuous waters (sin). We know that if that happens, there is only one way out for us, and that is with the help of our Savior and through His atonement. Repentance is our life preserver...our only hope to conquer the waves of sin.
Sometimes, however, we are required to endure certain afflictions that are beyond our control. At some point in our mortal sea voyage, we will all face adversity, trials, loss, failure, sorrow, even the death of loved ones. The storms of trial will come for all of us. The winds of heartache will blow. The skies of success will darken at some point. The sea of death and sorrow will rage. Our vessel will be tossed to and fro. At times we feel as if these waves are almost too great to encounter, let alone endure. But we must always remember...that it will not last forever. The sun will eventually shine through the clouds. The winds will cease. The waves will calm...and through it all, we will be able to look across the great expanse, and find the lighthouse shining through the storm, the rage, and the dark abyss that sometimes is life. The light of the Savior will always shine through the darkness. If we follow the light, it will lead us to the safest of all harbors...even the celestial kingdom.

I was in charge of putting on New Beginnings this year for the young women and parents in our ward. After much prayer and deliberation with the Lord, he revealed the theme of the evening to me...Sailing Home to Safe Harbor. I couldn't believe how much He inspired me and directed me through the entire planning process...and then, of course, throughout the evening. My testimony has been strengthened. I truly know that a special mantle is placed upon us when we are set apart for our callings; and with that mantle, we are entitled to receive direction from the Lord. As we counsel with Him, He will lead us, guide us, inspire us, direct us, help us, sustain us. I love Him. And I'm so grateful that I had an open heart and mind, that I counseled with Him, and that He inspired me with something that hopefully edified and uplifted those in attendance.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

unique healing remedies and antidotes for infection ...

In the hospital, they started treating Ruby's wounds with a 50/50 peroxide/saline solution, followed by a warm compress every four hours. Upon discharge, they briefed us on how to care for her wounds, and sent us home with all the necessary supplies. Her plastic surgeon also instructed us to apply polysporin generously, and repeatedly, throughout the day, to assist in the healing process as well as to prevent further infection. Properly treating her wounds has become a daily ritual for us, and one that I believe Ruby actually anticipates - as weird as that may sound. She really takes these sessions seriously, as we have explained to her that this is her medicine, and that it will help her owies get better. We have also made a big deal of telling her how pretty she is with her medicine on. She was a little apprehensive in the beginning, so I think these frequent assurances really convinced her that her medicine actually did make her pretty. Now, (like I said before), she really looks forward to her treatments - so much so, in fact, that we have caught her - on more than one occasion - doctoring up her face all on her own, and with the use of some uniquely strange remedies and antidotes...

First, I caught her applying giant globs of John's deodorant to her cheek with a q-tip. (Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of that one.)

Next, she sneakily got into the top drawer of her changing table, pulled out a jar of Vaseline, and smeared it all over her face with a small bulb syringe.

Finally, and to top them all off, she found an old tube of mascara... and...well...I'll just let you see for yourself what she did with that...

We asked her each time what she was putting on her face...and each time she replied..."it's medicine".