I've been missing you so much today. It's now been 11 years since your passing. I know it wasn't your choice, but I still wonder why you had to leave us. And especially at Christmas time...a time of joy... a time of magic...a time of laughter, and love, and family togetherness. Why did you have to leave at your (and my) very favorite time of year (making it now one of the hardest and most painful seasons)? And why, with your passing, did the magic of Christmas have to go away too? Now with the Christmas joys, come also the Christmas pains. The memories of you being sick, and then of your death, your funeral two days before Christmas, and that first quiet and solemn Christmas Eve without you. The things that made me the happiest when you were here, are sadly, the very things that now make me hurt...because everything reminds me of you and the fact that you're no longer here.
I felt so bad today. John came home from work, and it was obvious that I had been having a lousy day. I was feeling pretty down. He asked me what was wrong, and I just blurted out, "I hate Christmas". (I really didn't mean it. I was just missing you a lot, and feeling really overwhelmed by everything I had to get done. Just dealing with the typical hustle and bussel of the season had been wearing on me.) Anyway, after I had declared my disinclination for the holiday, sweet little Ruby, who happened to be in hearing range, said "But I LOVE Christmas!" I felt so bad that I had so distastefully, and without consideration, repeated something like that in front of my two year old.
A few weeks ago, we taught her to sing Jingle Bells. It's the cutest things to hear because instead of singing jingle bells, she sings "jinger bells". If only you were here to watch her grow up and witness her cuteness...it would literally melt your heart. She got in trouble today. She told me a lie. I told her that Santa wouldn't be leaving her any gifts if she couldn't tell the truth, and to that she responded, "Merry Christmas, Mom!" I couldn't help but smile.
As a parent, I'm realizing that not many things bring more joy and excitement, than witnessing the joy and excitement of our own children. But of course, I didn't have to tell you that.
We put together a candy gingerbread house tonight, and although the end result was far from pretty, the joy was found in the process. Watching Ruby eat the candies and bubble gum before the house was even erected; and then seeing her lick away the frosting before we were able to stick any candy into it. She was in kid heaven, and that made me happy...even though she ran off, leaving me to finish the house all on my own.
We were at the store the other day, and had stopped in front of a Christmas display so that she could see the blow up Santa and reindeer that hung from the ceiling. An older gentleman had been watching us from a distance, and then approached me to say that as he watched Ruby's wonderment over the lights, and the trees, and of course, the blow up Santa, (who, in her mind, was the real deal), he suddenly felt like 50 years had been knocked from his life. "Enjoy these moments", he told me, "they'll be gone before you know it". I'm sure you understand all too well what he was talking about.
I suppose that the magic of all the Christmases spent with you will hereafter rehabilitate through watching my children. Watching them wait excitedly in line to sit on Santa's lap. Watching them gaze with wonder at the Christmas lights. Watching them as they put their favorite little ornaments on the Christmas tree. Hearing them sing their newly learned Christmas songs. Enjoying their company as they help with the holiday baking. Seeing them in their new Christmas pajamas. Watching them tear into their presents on Christmas morning...
Listening as she makes up her own lyrics to Jingle Bells. Watching her decorate her very first Christmas sugar cookie...(boy does that girl LOVE the sprinkles.) Hearing a "crunch" as she takes a bite into a mini glass bulb ornament, mistaking it for a piece of candy. Watching her scream while on Santa's lap. Witnessing her depict Mary in the Nativity...(although I doubt that Mary actually left Joseph and the baby Jesus at the manger so that she could join the choir of angels. And I don't think that Mary placed the wise man's very special gift to the Christ Child - on Joseph's head. And it seems very unlike the mother of the Savior to get down on the ground, just moment's after singing Silent Night, and attempt a somersault.
I'm discovering that these are the things that will eventually restore that magical Christmasy feeling once again into my heart and soul...I just wish you were here to experience and enjoy it all with me.
I want you to know that I am so grateful for all the wonderful and magical Christmases we spent together. I'm grateful for your Christmas passion and exuberance. I'm grateful for the Christmas traditions that you and dad started with our family. I'm grateful for the countless trips to see Santa, and for the times we went caroling, and for the outings to see the lights at temple square, and for all the hours we spent at the local tree lot...picking out the perfect tree for our home, and for the holiday baking, and for your Christmas stories, and for all the wondrous Christmas mornings...and how our family room was always brimming with gifts...and how your face was always beaming.
But mostly, I'm grateful for your testimony. I'm grateful for your passion and devotion and love for the Savior. I'm grateful that you never ceased - even amidst all of our fun, secular, Christmas activities - to teach us about Him...for that's truly where the magic of Christmas can be found. If we find our Savior, then we've found the magic. Of course, you had that figured out years ago. Thank you for sharing the magic with your children. I can't wait to share it with mine.
I love you - always and forever...and as always, am missing you.
Your devout daughter,
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
John underwent his 4th epicondylectomy yesterday, which - in layman's terms - is an elbow surgery where they - after digging his ulnar nerve out of old scar tissue, transposed it to the anterior part of his arm, shaved off some bone, removed some bone, and then removed his previous scar, only to create a new one. Like I mentioned, this was his 4th time undergoing this particular procedure...(his 3rd time in just the right arm alone. He had it once in his left and it's almost inevitable that he'll need it repeated in that arm, too.)
I was able to be with him at the hospital, which I was very grateful for, because, unbeknownst to us, the whole ordeal would be over 10 hours...(resulting in a hefty payout to the babysitter!) We left the house at 9:30 am, and arrived at the hospital at 10:00 for his 12:00 appointment. I still can't figure out why they make you arrive 2 hours before surgery, when it typically doesn't take more than 30 minutes for the prep work. At about 10:30, and after John had already changed in to his gown, they informed us that his surgery had been rescheduled for 1:30. So we waited over three hours in pre-op, during which time we talked, slept a little, read, played around with our phones, which is where these funny pictures came from, and laughed hysterically on account of these funny pictures. John and I have this thing that we do whenever either of us (or either one of our children, for that matter) is at a doctor's office or hospital. We try to imitate - by making faces - the pain level charts that they always have posted on the walls. I think the middle picture is John's version of pain at a level 10.
After they finally wheeled him off to the O.R., I headed to the family waiting room, where the surgeon was supposed to meet me an hour later. I'm sure you can imagine my worry and concern, when over two hours passed before seeing or hearing from anyone. (Needless to say, I was praying like crazy.) The doctor finnally arrived, and informed me that the surgery had been prolonged due to the amount of scar tissue that enveloped the nerve. Basically, the condition was far worse than they had originally expected and planned for.
He then went on to tell me that John wouldn't be in recovery more than, probably an hour...which in reality turned out to be close to four because he was so groggy and doped up. I tried not to laugh when the nurse brought me back to his recovery room, because, no lie, his face was a cross between pictures one and three above.
We both find these pictures even more humorous today, because what started out as unlikely, unnatural, strained, and playful, ended up being...not really that far-fetched at all.
Posted by nicole at 4:53 PM
Friday, December 12, 2008
Posted by nicole at 4:18 PM
Posted by nicole at 1:52 PM
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Not everything about our Saturday outing with the kids turned out horribly. While we were standing in the really long line to see Santa, I was able to get some cute pictures of Ruby. I had to bribe her with my lip gloss...which actually turned out to be a pretty cute prop in some of the photos.
Reaching up to touch a falling snowflake. This pic would have turned out so much better if I could have actually captured some of the snow as it was falling...unfortunately, it was melting midair. Only in Arizona will the snow melt before it even hits the ground.
Posted by nicole at 6:55 PM
I have this habit of going into situations with super low expectations...that way I can't ever be disappointed. Right? Like, just to give an example, when I went to see the movie, Twilight. I had extremely low expectations for the movie because I thought the books were pretty much...well...terrible. And what would you know? I loved it! I don't really know if this is a good philosophy or not. I realize that sometimes you just need to put your heart out there, to get really, really excited about something, to be able to trust people; and in the end, if you end up getting hurt, or disappointed, or betrayed in some way, (which oftentimes happens), well then, at least you gained something from the experience...little bits of knowledge or experience which can help you become a better, stronger, maybe even kinder or more tolerable individual. It makes me think of the old proverb It's better to love and lost, than to have never loved at all. In a way it's the same idea. Take a chance, put your heart out there, and you'll be better off than if you never hoped, or dreamed, or wished, or sacrificed, or expected.
With that said, I've been trying to raise my expectations a bit more, which I'm afraid, at times, has resulted in some very idealistic - even unrealistic - hopes and dreams. And then I almost always end up disappointed.
Such was the case on Saturday when we took the kids to the mall for pictures with Santa. Prior to this anticipated event, I had purchased a beautiful satin ivory dress for Ruby, and a coordinating pair of cords, dress shirt, and sweater vest for Asher. For weeks I'd envisioned this perfect day...getting the most perfect picture of our most perfect children, sitting on the lap of the most perfect Santa I'd ever seen. Was that really too much to wish for? Well, Murphy's law says that if anything can go wrong, it will.
And so it was with our afternoon on Santa's lap...which turned out to be far less than picture perfect.
After standing in line for a dreadful hour and a half - during which we alternated taking Ruby to the restroom twice - our moment had finally arrived. One of the kind worker elves let us through the gate, and signaled to us which way we were to go to enjoy our few moments with Kris Kringle himself. As soon as we rounded the corner, and caught glimpse of the man in the big red suit (who was indeed the cutest Santa I had ever encountered...the exact face, and beard, and build I had always seen in my childhood visions of St. Nick), Ruby became absolutely hysterical...kicking, and screaming, and twisting, and thrashing - which is totally what she did last year, too, but I guess I expected (there I go with my expectations again) that she had outgrown this silly fear stage that most children - at least at some point - experience toward Santa. And then there was Asher, our happy little Asher, who had not made so much as a peep the whole time we were in line, decided that the exact moment we placed him and Santa's lap, was precisely the moment in which he needed his bottle; and that he was not going to wait even half a millisecond for it. It had to be because he was hungry, right?...after all, he's too young to be afraid of Santa.
Ah, what a day (of broken expectations) to remember...and, ah...the ironies of life.
I guess I'm still trying to find that middle ground. I'm contemplating the idea of just ditching the whole expectation thing altogether...because if I never have any expectations, then maybe I can just always be surprised.
This made me laugh...Ruby was completely and utterly terrified of Santa Claus, but wanted her picture taken with the 8 foot (and in my opinion...rather scary looking) Chick-fil-A cow??? I don't know if I'll ever understand that one.
Posted by nicole at 2:38 PM
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I'd be lying if I told you I never entertained the idea of sending Dix-d to the pound. In fact, in the beginning, I experienced some real I think I must be losing my mind moments. Moments in which I felt myself at the brink of a major breakdown. I was tired, worn out, and had grown weary of the repeated cleaning, scrubbing, and sanitizing urine-soaked floors, carpets, walls, baseboards, sliding glass doors, rugs and curtains. My indignation emerged as I became cognizant of the fact that every time I turned my back, mysterious tootsie-roll like treasures began materializing on my rugs and carpet throughout the house. Even when I had him on a leash for constant supervision, he defecated behind my back while I was making Ruby a sandwich. I was tired of walking in my house - a house which at one time perfumed of fresh linen, Clorox, and Pinesol - only to be overcome by the redolences of stale pee, wet dog hair, fresh doggie stools, and bad...I mean really bad, breath.
And I haven't even mentioned the crying at night. Oh, the crying at night. We decided that if we were to ever go out of town, and leave him with somebody, he would need to be trained to sleep in his crate. We had been told that he may cry for a night or two, but that he would soon learn to sleep through the night, and also acquire a love for his crate. But after being kept awake during the twilight hours - for two consecutive weeks - as the cries, the wails, the yaps, the howls, the barks of desperation...resonated through the walls and into my aching eardrums, I decided I had had enough. I even tried wearing earplugs at night, but then was worried I wouldn't hear Asher if he were to wake and need my assistance. Quite funny to note that night after night of incessant clamor, there my sweet John lay in a deep, deep, uninterrupted, and very peaceful slumber...bless his heart. I finally declared to this sweet husband of mine that Dix-d was coming back to our bed. I had lost too much precious sleep because of this animal, who was not even one of my children, and I wasn't going to deal with it another night. I'm glad he consented - (did he really have a choice?) - because ever since we gave up on the crate thing, my life has been so much better, and so much more enjoyable. It's amazing how much a good night's rest (or bad) can directly affect your moods and attitudes during the subsequent days.
So, now that I'm in such a good mood, please allow me some bragging rights...
Dix-d has never had an accident on our bed, he always sleeps through the night, and takes up only a mere square ft. at the end of our bed.
The potty training thing has improved almost 100 percent, too. In fact, we haven't had an accident in the house in almost a week, and he has learned to hold his bladder and bowels for long periods of time when were not home. He goes on command as well, so when we let him outside, it's to do his business, and not just to play around. When he goes, we reward him with a mini Filet Mignon flavored t-bone treat...which he loves....and which we love giving to him.
He doesn't chew on anything but his food and dogie treats, nor does he shed.
And except when he's locked up in his crate at night, he never so much as makes a peep. He does not bark when the doorbell rings, or when strangers enter the premise...which doesn't make him a very good watch dog, but then again, that's not the reason we got him. We got him for our kids. For Ruby to be able to overcome her fear of dogs, for Asher to be able to develop a love for animals, and for us, to have, well, to have another loyal friend and companion in the home. He has turned out to be everything we had hoped for, and more, in a dog...he's mellow with the kids, and absolutely adores them.
Loyal, you ask? Oh, he is fiercely loyal. Truly I couldn't imagine a pet friend possessing more allegiance than Dix-d...who is, coincidentally, curled up at my feet as I type. He gets up whenever I do, even if it's just to grab a tissue, or turn out the light, or toss something into the trash...and if it's to do more than that, you can bet he is right at my heel, following me everywhere I go. It feels good to be loved and adored that much. And to think I was so close to throwing in the towel.
I'm so glad we didn't.
I, just this morning, finished reading the book Marley and Me, by John Grogan. I would recommend that book to any dog lover. You will be guaranteed to cry your eyes out, and then, as promised by my sister, Kim, if you have a pet dog of your own, you will grab him, and wrap your arms around him, and hold him tight, as if to never, ever let go. That's what I did with Dix-d this morning as I concluded the final pages of the book...I just held him, and pat him, and kissed the top of his head...and then thanked the good Lord for blessing our family with such a perfect little treasure.
Posted by nicole at 12:42 PM
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
of my little lovey.
I first and foremost wanted to thank Tawnya for giving up her husband for the evening; and to Jason for volunteering his mad skills to fix our computer/internet. I have had so much to post, but due to our non-functioning internet over the past week, have fallen more and more behind...and consequently, have become more and more agitated.
Thankfully, it's all better now (our computer, as well as my festering irritation)...and I find myself smiling at the sight of these sweet pictures of my little Ash. I can't even describe the feelings of love and adoration that have blossomed in my heart and soul for him. I daren't even imagine what my life would be like if he weren't a part of it.
I love you...my little lovey dove.
Posted by nicole at 11:12 PM
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
it looks like "eagleston"...don't you think?
At least that's what John and I thought as we drove through this little old, rundown town on our way to the Boston 1st ward. I remember looking up and seeing "Egleston Nail Salon", and having a good chuckle. Then we saw the "Egleston Physical Therapy", and the "Egleston Licoreria", and both started laughing pretty hard. We decided that on our way home, we'd take pictures of these family owned business...just for fun. However, what we didn't realize at first glance...was that there were "Egleston" shops on every corner of every block. So many, in fact, that my camera shutter had a hard time keeping up with them all.
Just something kind of silly...but totally made us laugh.
Posted by nicole at 7:59 PM