Sunday, February 28, 2010

a child's prayer...

I love hearing Ruby pray. We call on her to pray over most our meals...simply because we can't wait to hear what she'll come up with. What I love the most is how she'll just go off on a tangent and start talking about her hopes and the middle of blessing the food.

This was Ruby's prayer over breakfast this morning...

Dear Heavenly Father,
Please bless my mommy, and my daddy, and my little baby brother.
Please bless my mommy, and my daddy, and my little baby brother. (No, I did not make a mistake here...she asked Him to bless everyone in her family - twice. Something which she does quite often. I think it's her way of putting emphasis on the things she desires most.)
Please bless my doggy, too...and my balloon.
And Heavenly Father, bless Santa, and his elves, and his reindeer.
Do you remember that Santa brought me presents, and his elves gave me candy?
And I'm so sorry we didn't have a fire and a chimly.
And I really wish we had a fire and a chimly.
James (her cousin) has a fire and a chimly.
Maybe we can buy a fire and a chimly at Costco, because I saw one there yesterday.
And Heavenly Father, please bless the food....

Often times, she'll ask Heavenly Father to bless Jesus. That's probably my favorite thing to hear. I also love how she still prays that He'll bless mom's hand to get better (from my surgery). She is just so thoughtful and loving...and wants to tell Heavenly Father everything...and I mean everything. But isn't that what our Heavenly Father wants? For us tell him everything...our hopes and dreams, as well as our sorrows and disappointments? He's our loving Father, and even though he knows us even better than we know ourselves, and even though he already knows our hopes and dreams...sorrows and disappointments, I'm sure (just like any father and mother would), he just wants to hear it come from us.

Imagine how much better our relationship with our Heavenly Father would be if we prayed with such honesty, such sincerity, and such faith...if we really shared what was on our minds and in our hearts - like little children do. I'm grateful for my little Ruby, who is constantly teaching me important lessons of faith, charity, and love. It's no wonder the Savior taught us to"...become as a little child or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God." 3 Nephi 11:37-38

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

cancer free...

This picture was taken about 5 days or so after I had surgery to remove the melanoma from my hand. It's kind of a weird picture that I took using the webcam. In fact, when John saw it, he said what is that, your knee? So in case anyone else is having a hard time making sense of this picture, it's actually my hand - just held up super close to the camera. I don't even understand how he got a leg and a knee out of this? he of all people should know that I am so not capable of pulling off such impressive acrobatic feats.

So anyway, when I first found out that I had malignant melanoma, I was scared, sure - but I also remember kneeling down immediately and thanking my Heavenly Father for prompting me to get in to the doctor when I did. He blessed me in that moment with an overwhelming sense of peace...along with the assurance that everything would turn out ok. Nothing beats the satisfaction of knowing that your life is in bigger hands...even in the Lord's perfect, loving, healing hands.

My dermatologist's office gave me the name and number of a Mohs surgeon to call for an appointment. I have to admit that it was a bit disheartening to hear that I would have to wait 6 weeks for surgery. Even though I had received that strong assurance that everything would be alright, I sometimes couldn't stop the fear from setting in. I'm ashamed to admit that there were days in which I couldn't even see the point in living anymore. All kinds of scenarios entertained my thoughts....bad, ugly scenarios. Of course most of them centered around me not being able to beat the disease and leaving my children motherless, and my dear husband a young widower. Some days those thoughts (which I now totally recognize as coming from the adversary) got the better of me, and for a day or two at a time, I stopped being a mom and a wife altogether. I remember one day, just lying on the couch in the kids' playroom- staring blankly at a wall - while they entertained themselves...for hours and hours. I had to come to the realization that no matter what I was going through, or what the future held, I was still their mother...that I was still living and breathing; and that as long as that air was still filling my lungs, and as long as my heart was still pumping blood - I had a right, even a responsibility to be those kids' mom. So fortunately, I snapped out of the whole woe is me mindset, and returned to living, and loving, and enjoying life to it's fullest. Sure, in that 6 weeks leading up to my surgery, there were still days of uncertainty, maybe a little bit of fear...anxiety for sure. But most of all I was just anxious to be rid of such an intrusive disease. I hated the thought and feeling that something so horrific - even the very culprit of my own mother's death - was invading my body...albeit just a part of my body. It made me mad more than anything.

I was at home one Sunday afternoon with sick was a couple of weeks before my scheduled surgery, and I was starting to get anxious for John to walk in the door (seeing how it was already a good 45 minutes after the completion of our block of Sunday meetings). Finally, after about an hour, he greeted me in the family room - puffy eyed and splotchy faced. Through his tears he opened up to me about a lot of his feelings, along with some of his fears - feelings and fears which evidently had been plaguing him for weeks. I have to admit, I was pretty shocked. Not shocked that he was actually worried about me, or that he, too, was concerned and unsure about our future, as well as the outcome of my diagnosis; but maybe just a little shocked that he was just now opening up about it and sharing such raw emotion with me. John's not a big least not in front of me. It wasn't until a couple of years after we lost our baby boy, Isaac, that he shared with me how during that time he would wait til I had fallen asleep in my hospital bed -when it was dark and everyone had gone home for the night - to cry. And because he had to be strong and hold the tears back all day long, he almost couldn't stop the flood gates at night...and some nights, he told me, he would cry until the sun came up. I married such a tender man...he just doesn't very often wear his heart of his sleeve like I do. So anyway, he came home from church that afternoon, and was really, really upset. He told me that he was afraid, and that he didn't want to lose me, and that he didn't know what he would do it I was taken away from him. He explained to me that the reason he was so late getting home from church was because he was sharing some of these same feelings with our relief society president, and that afterwards our Bishop pulled him into his office and asked John what his thoughts were about holding a ward fast in my behalf. John was very touched...completely on board in fact, but warned the Bishop that he didn't think I would be too keen on the idea.
Sure enough, when John shared all of this with me, I was pretty reluctant to the suggestion. Not because I don't have faith in the power of fasting and prayer, because I do...especially when whole bodies of people come together and join their faith in one common purpose. I have literally seen miracles happen that way. So it wasn't because of any doubt on my part, or a lack of was quite simply, because of my own pride and embarrassment, because of the undue attention, and mostly because - even though I had been worried, and my family had been worried - I just didn't feel like this was a serious enough matter to bother the church members with. Living in Arizona, I'm sure that many of them had experienced exactly what I was going through, even worse, and we had never done a ward fast for them. After putting much thought into it, I finally concluded that I needed to let go of my pride. The Lord taught me through his Holy Spirit, that not only would this fast benefit me and my family, but that it would strengthen the faith of the ward members. That it would be good for them to come together, to unite their faith, and to witness the miracles of the Lord.
Not having my family close by, I - now more than ever - feel like I have a huge support group in my ward family - a giant family of members who have embraced me, loved me, and treated me like their own daughter or sister. That ward fast was the best thing that could have ever happened.
I went in for my surgery two weeks later. It was early morning, December 16, 2009. I wasn't scared. I didn't feel nervous. Actually the word excited probably best describes the way that I felt as John drove me to the surgical center. Excited may be a weird word to use in reference to surgery...but I think I felt that way mostly because I knew that at the end of the day, this whole nightmare would be over.
The surgery was performed under a local anesthetic, which means I was awake and alert for the whole thing, which means - because it was on my hand (and not my face or some other inconspicuous body part) - I was privileged (or ill-fated...depending on how you look at it) to watch the whole thing.
Mohs surgery is performed in 4 steps, and sometimes several stages are necessary (repeating each step) in removing all the cancer. First, they remove all the visible cancerous tissue, along with a small section of surrounding tissue. Then, they map the tissue by freezing and cutting it into microscopic pieces and shooting a dye through it. By staining the tissue, the pathologist is then able to study the sections on slides under a microscope, and determine where the cancer is traveling...if it is. This process if repeated until no further cancer is found.
For me, the actual surgery lasted only about 15 minutes, but we had to wait over 3 hours in the waiting room while they processed the slides. Fortunately for us, only one stage was required and I was pronounced "cancer free". After all those weeks of anticipating...of worrying and wondering, of praying and fasting, of crying, and almost even throwing in the towel...those two words were like sweet music to my ears. I felt relieved, and liberated, like I had just subdued the enemy...because I had. Cancer is my's my big huge fat archenemy. It took the life of my very best friend - my mom. We all know and love someone who has fallen prey to this merciless disease. It seems to have no boundaries. So hearing the words "you're cancer free!", made me feel like I had overcome a I had accomplished something great. Of course I would feel very ungrateful if I didn't recognize my Heavenly Father's hand in all of this. Like I said earlier, it is so comforting to know that someone who really knows us, someone who is so much bigger and greater than we are, has us tucked safely in the palm of His hand.

And I'm especially grateful He's allowed me to stick around for awhile.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I might just be biased because she's my girl, but I've always been impressed with Ruby's vocabulary. She started speaking pretty early; and when she spoke, it was always easy to understand her. She has surprised me over the last year or two by adding new words, big words (relatively speaking) to her repertoire. Words like - absolutely, positively, fantastic, and wonderful - are some of my all-time favorites. I don't know, I guess they're not really big words, just words that aren't heard often from most 2 and 3 year olds. I think she picks up a lot of her vocabulary from her favorite cartoon show Charlie and Lola. It's about two little brittish kids (brother and sister), who have the most irresistible little english accents. It's enchanting to watch these two interact, and to hear some of the things that they say...especially Lola - she's hilarious. I know for a fact that it was at the hand of Lola that Ruby started opining everything to be her favorite and her best. "Mom," she'll say to me "this chocolate bar is my favorite and my best" or "mom, this book is my favorite and my best". She's also been known to combine words making her own special Ruby words. Fantastical is probably my favorite. She uses this one a lot. Back in October, after I had finished sewing my Wendy costume for Halloween, I held it up for Ruby to look at. I'll never forget her reply "Oh mom, (in the most drah-ma-tic little voice) it looks so fantastical and pretty"! She has used this one several times since. To her, something might be wonderful and fantastical, or absolutely fantastic, or positively wonderful...I simply love the combinations she comes up with.
I think she does a fairly good job of putting her sentences together and using her words in the right context, however there are several words that she just hasn't mastered yet. Here are a few:

fantastical (once again, my favorite and my best..ha)
gorilla bar for granola bar
alligator for elevator
tummy egg for tummy ache (This one is particularly funny because of how literally she understands it. She thinks that if you eat too much, rather than feeling those uncomfortable stomach pains from overeating (or a tummy ache), your stomach will actually take on the shape of a giant egg from all that excess food. You know- a tummy egg...duh!)
nakeup for makeup
net's go for let's go
nast night for last night
bunton for button
accinent for accident
valentime's day (I think it's funny that for as much as she uses the 'n' sound in words that don't have an 'n', she actually substitutes the 'n' for an 'm' in this one.)
oar for our
borilla for umbrella
colthd for cold
lose for use
olthd for old
yestuhday (refers to anything in the past, be it a day or a year)
hanatizer for hand sanitizer

Sometimes John will try to correct her when she uses some of the above words or phrases. I always stop him. I find it so endearing, so redolent of right here and right now, so characteristic of her age and her youth...which we all know will not last forever. Before we know it, she will make those corrections on her own. Of course, when that happens, I know we will just long for the days when she wanted to push all the buntons on the alligator, and when we ate so many gorilla bars that we got tummy eggs, and then headed back to oar house to escape from the colthd. Yes, before we know it - these days, these experiences - will be tomorrow's (and next year's) nast nights; and be thought of, referred to, and talked about as "the good olthd days" of yestuhday.

On a different note, Ruby has finally mastered writing her name. In fact, she leaves her little mark (one which she cannot blame on Asher) on just about everything. A couple of days ago she wrote her name on a pink balloon and gave it to me as a memento. I am her biggest fan, so it was quite an honor to recieve a personal autograph.

Monday, February 22, 2010

do you ever?

Do you ever have one of those days where you don't feel like doing a thing...except maybe curling up in your bed and sleeping the whole day away? The rain seems to do that to me. And today it hasn't appeared to let up...for even a second.
The kids and I set up a little table in the middle of the kitchen floor to eat our lunch. Now before you go thinking oh, she's such a fun mom, I need to confess that the kitchen table was covered with junk and I didn't have the desire, nor the energy, to clear it off so that we could eat. Luckily the kids weren't cognizant of that fact, and so they still think I'm the greatest mom on the planet. Now that they're both tucked away in their beds for a (let's hope) really long nap, I think I'll go and do the same.

That darn rain.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

how do i look?

Tonight after spending a good chunk of the evening in front of the mirror, Ruby turned to me and asked, "How do I look, mom?". I couldn't help but laugh. She had two hair clips in her hair, one fastened to her neckline, and somehow she had managed to dangle a set of nail clippers to the fabric of her gown. And she was as proud as punch.

Friday, February 12, 2010


I loved spending the day with Ruby as we prepared for her preschool Valentine's Day party. We had the best time making sugar cookies topped with pink frosting and valentine nonpareils. Ruby's job was to deluge the sprinkles as I finished frosting each cookie. Of course, the best part was when we got to sample them.

I loved watching her as she decorated her valentine's box which I had wrapped beforehand in brown paper. I gave her an assortment of pink, red, and purple paper, a heart-shaped paper punch, and the glue gun. It was her first time using the glue gun, and I loved being witness to her excitement as she squirted huge globs of glue, and then stuck scraps of paper and cut-out hearts on each side and top of the box. We tied a big pink ribbon around the entire box, and then tied a bow at the top. It was a masterpiece.

Then it was on to the actual valentine's cards. She took pride in writing her name on each and every valentine. I don't think she even noticed that I went back through them all and rewrote her name (in parenthesis) next to each illegible chicken scratched "Ruby".

I thought it was cute that more than once throughout the day, she asked me about Kerry's valentine. Kerry is one of the boys in her class. She wanted to know which valentine card was for Kerry. And then she asked me if I thought Kerry would like her valentine, and then it was "mom, do you think Kerry likes purple? Or should we change his to green?"
Now, I don't claim to be an expert in the love department; but in my experience, one wouldn't worry and fret this much over a valentine...unless they had some kind of feelings for the recipient of said valentine. I asked Ruby if she had a crush on Kerry.
"What?" she asked, a bit embarrassed.
"Well, I mean, do you like Kerry? Do you think he's cute?"
"No mom! I don't! I like Bennett, I think he's cute, and I have a crush on him not Kerry".

Now normally I would think it was all good and fun...but the fact that Bennett happens to be her cousin, poses a bit of a problem. Not to mention the fact that cousin Bennett seems to have a bit of a crush on Ruby's best friend, Ava, as a hand-written "I love you" adorned the valentine card that he gave her. Sounds like a juicy love triangle if you ask me.

Later Ruby told me that she had a crush on Dix-d (our dog), so I'm taking it she may be a bit confused as to the precise meaning of the word. And pretty much in the same sentence she told me that she doesn't like boys at all, that she only likes girls. So I'm thinking we don't have anything to worry least for a few more years (let's hope).

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"puh bah"

Our sweet little Asher, bless his heart...still doesn't say much. Every once in a while he'll utter "mom"...and once in a real great while he'll mutter "dad"; but really that's about the extent of his vocabulary. One can only imagine my surprise, when after I rewarded his good behavior with puff ball, he exclaimed "puh bah". It's become his new (and pretty much only) favorite word. Sometimes I'll just let him add a puff ball to his jar for no reason at all...other than the fact that my heart melts every time I hear that high pitched little voice beam "puh ball". It seriously has to be one of the sweetest things I have ever heard.

Who would have thought this little nut could make me so happy?

making progress...

About 6 months ago (after learning that Ruby's friend, Ava - who is just 5 months older than she is, was beginning to read) I started feeling like a really bad mom. Up to that point, Im embarrassed to admit, I had never sat her down and worked with her on learning the letters of the alphabet, let alone the sounds associated with each letter. Our occasional singing of the ABC's was about the extent of her academic acuteness. I decided that is was high time we get busy, and do our best to make up for lost time. The first time I sat down with her was a complete joke. We started with the letter "A". I drew an "A", and next to it I drew an apple. See Ruby, this is an "A". An "A" sounds like this: a a a apple. I remember repeating it over and over again, and then having her say it back to me. We spent a good 10-15 minutes on the letter "A" before moving on to "B". Then I did the same thing. Ruby this is a "B" (with a banana sketched next to it). "B" sounds like this: b b b banana. After I was convinced that she had learned everything there was to know about the letter "B", I went back to "A". Okay, now Ruby, what letter is this, do you remember? "Ummm", she hesitated, 'R'? Like a a a banana?" Oh dear, I thought. But the thought also came to me, as I excused her to return to her princesses and baby dolls, that she simply wasn't ready...and that she didn't need to be either. Since then, I haven't forced the issue. I'll sit her down occasionally to see if she's picked up on anything at preschool, if anything that she's been taught has actually penetrated. Each time we sit down together, however, I find myself as frustrated as I was during our very first endeavor. I guess I just figured that because she's almost 4, and because she's been in preschool for almost 6 months now, she would be a bit more advanced than she actually is. A few weeks ago, I decided to come up with some ways to teach her the letters that would be fun and easier for her to learn. For example for "B", I said "okay, picture a bee buzzing around and coming up to the letter "B"...he gets excited when he sees the two holes in the letter "B" because he can fly in the top hole, and out the bottom one." For "O" I opened my mouth in an "O" shape, and just repeated "oh, oh, oh" over and over again.For "P" I said, "Look Ruby, the letter 'P' has an opening in the top that looks like a little should be easy for you to remember that, because you "pee" in the potty". I probably taught her 6 or 7 letters that night, which surprisingly, she still remembers. She is constantly on the lookout for familiar letters, and isn't ashamed to blurt one out as soon as she recognizes it. We were at the store the other day, and she excitedly exclaimed "look mom, you can go pee in the potty, that's a "P"! or "mom, the bee flies in the top hole and out the bottom, I see a "B"!A couple of weeks ago, she asked me if I could teach her how to write her name. She still isn't able to do it without my help; but she'll watch intently as I draw each letter, and then does a brilliant job of copying me...which makes me burst with pride because we are finally making some progress.