Monday, March 29, 2010

because of Him

We had a lot going on this weekend, and while we ran from here to there, I was taken with thought. Many of the activities we participated in and attended, provoked some serious reflection and even stirred some raw emotion inside of me.

Saturday we attended a funeral. Our neighbor in the house right behind ours passed away after a long and courageous battle with cancer. I was so saddened to hear of his passing. He was such a sweet man, and was always kind to us and to our children. We sat toward the back of the chapel for the service, but from where I was sitting, I had a direct view of one of his sons sitting on the front row with his wife. I watched as the two of them held each other tightly and sobbed. I couldn't help but feel their heartache, as I know and understand all too well the pain and anguish of losing a parent. Feelings of my own mom's passing, as well as the memories of the day we lowered her body into the cold hard ground, came flooding back...and the tears came fast and hard. I cried for my friends sitting there on the front row (because I know how difficult the upcoming days, weeks, months, and even years, will be for them) and I also cried for me...because, although it's been over 12 years since my mom's passing, it sometimes still hurts as if we lost her just yesterday.
For some reason my heavy heart from Saturday carried over into Sunday...and I just couldn't shake it. Then I realized that it was my mom's birthday, and that if she were still here today, we'd be ringing in her 55th year of life. It made me sad to think about all the birthday's she's missed...not just her birthdays, but my birthdays, (and my kids' birthdays, and my siblings' and my dad's)...and not just birthdays either, but weddings, and sealings, and the birth of her 7 grandchildren. It just doesn't seem right or even fair to have all of those experiences and not be able to share them with your mother.
Last night, though, we attended a fireside in the backyard of one of our bishopric members. At the beginning of the year a challenge was issued to all the members of our ward to read the Book of Mormon in 90 days (approx. 6 pages per day), which would put us completing it in it's entirety, just in time for general conference. I love challenges, and I love the Book of Mormon, (and I especially love a good Book of Mormon challenge) so the decision to participate was an easy one for me. Before we began our reading, we were encouraged to take note of how many times the Savior was mentioned on each page. With my blue highlighter pencil in hand, I began my reading; and soon found that I was pausing every 15-30 seconds to mark another mention of His name. The Lord of Hosts, Jesus, The Almighty, Holy One of Israel, Christ, Lamb of God, Creator, Lord, Only Begotten Son, Redeemer, Messiah, Lord Omnipotent, Holy One, Son of Righteousness...and so on. As I got going, I was blown away. There were pages where He was mentioned 15-20 times, and some even more. I have read the Book of Mormon countless times throughout my life, and each time I pull something different and special from my experience; but this time was particularly special because as I was searching for my Savior in my reading, as I was focusing my thoughts and feelings toward relationship with Him was strengthened, my love for Him increased, and my understanding of His infinite sacrifice and atonement was enhanced. I came to know and understand something I really thought I already knew...that the Savior is the central figure of the Book of Mormon. The book truly is another Testament of Him. It was fascinating to read of all the ancient prophets - long before His time on earth -who prophesied of His birth and atonement. And then of all those that lived after His crucifixion and death - who also prophesied of Him as being our Savior and Redeemer. I particularly loved, this time around, reading about His personal visit to the Nephites on the American continent, my heart was touched as He taught them the Beatitudes, and of course, when He blessed their beloved little children. And when He prayed for them, and how His words were so sacred that they couldn't be repeated or even recorded. I often wonder if He prays for me the way He prayed for them. And then I have to remind myself that I know He does.
It was so peaceful the night of our fireside, sitting outside under the beauty of the stars and the light of the moon. It was just a small group of saints, but the Spirit was powerful as we each shared some of our individual thoughts and feelings...our testimonies of the Book of Mormon and of the Savior. I was so grateful for the experience, because finally the heavy heart that I had carried with me through the weekend, felt light. And it was made light because of Him. He bore our griefs so that we wouldn't have to suffer alone. Because of Him, we can have hope. He abolished death, and overcame the grave. And because of Him, we will live again. And if we do our part, we will live again - with those whom we loved the most in mortality. Because of Him, my grief stricken, heart-broken friends sobbing on the front row at their father's funeral, will find peace and comfort, they will be reunited with him again one day. Because of Him, I will see my mom again, and not only will I be able to embrace her and rejoice...but we will be together throughout the eternities. It's all made possible because of Him - our Savior, Jesus Christ. He paved the way, and made it all possible. I am so blessed to have had this special experience with the Book of Mormon, and another special moment when the Spirit put everything into perspective for me, and taught me that all of this, everything, the whole purpose of our existence, the air we breath, the relationships we have, the experiences for learning and growth, birth and death, resurrection, and the opportunity for exaltation and eternal all made possible because of Him.

Friday, March 19, 2010

field day

It's been so long since we've been able to enjoy a Saturday together as a family. I used to really look forward to Saturdays (back when life was a little less complicated). Now our Saturdays are usually devoted entirely to cleaning, organizing, yard work, grocery shopping, and our church callings. In fact, it's rare that John has a Saturday void of some kind of church assignment. I'm not trying to complain, but I would be lying if I were to say that I didn't miss the good old, carefree, leisurely - and even action packed - Saturdays of times past. I had a small church assignment to take some pictures at the mesa temple last Saturday, but was home by 9:00, and surprisingly, John didn't have a single thing going on. We decided to take advantage of our open schedule and make a field day of it. First we went to breakfast and stuffed ourselves silly. Seriously, I was in some real pain as we walked through the parking lot and out to our car. I decided that it just wasn't right...eating that much.

After a short recovery, we were off to our next event - a spring training game. I love springtime in Arizona. It's so nice to have winter leave when it's supposed to. (Although we have relatively moderate winters, I still get sick of the cold, and ready for the warm weather). This past week has been absolutely beautiful with temperatures in the mid 80's. Because of Arizona's perfect climate, we (along with Florida), get to host the Major League Baseball teams for spring training. There are stadiums all around the valley, including one just a few miles from our house. A few weeks ago, we were at Last Chance and John found a great deal on a couple of A's hats. We went ahead and purchased them for the sole purpose of attending an A's spring training game. The A's stadium is close to 30 minutes from our house, but since we had the hats, we couldn't pass it up - even though there were several games which were closer. Plus John served his mission in Oakland, so it was kind of fun to go and cheer for the team city, that holds a special place in his heart.

Asher had a blast at the game...drinking mountain dew, digging his hands into our tray of cheesy nachos, eating his very own hot dog, socializing with the crowd...not to mention his complete infatuation with the sport and it's players. John and I laughed as we watched his head move from left to right, left to right...he was following the ball intently as a couple of the players were warming up along the sideline. And he made a game of stealing our hats from our heads and then putting them on his own. He was a true fan.

Ruby, on the other hand, was clearly not feeling it. The pictures tell it all. Poor girl had assured us that she felt up to going out, despite the fact that she was up half the night barking like a seal and gasping for air. She was not loving the baseball game like Asher was; and unlike her brother - who was seriously cheasin' it every time I lifted the camera, Ruby refused to smile for a single photo. And while Asher was soaking it all up and enthralled in every detail, Ruby was pretty incognizant of anything and everything going on around her.

Luckily, after getting a little rest on our drive home, Ruby was recharged and all geared up for our night at the drive-in. We made a bed in the back of our explorer, brought a ton of treats, and took a trip with Alice into the bizarre and fanciful world of Wonderland.

By the end of the day, we were exhausted, but also revitalized...if that makes any sense. Although it was busy and tiresome, It was a much needed day of family bonding and togetherness. And it felt so good to neglect the cleaning, the laundry, and the yard work...for something that will not only strengthen and build our familial ties, but that will, without a doubt, accord us sweet and lasting memories.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

glass flowers

Ruby: Here mom, I have some lovely flowers for you.

Me: Thank you Ruby, but I thought I asked you not to pick any more of our flowers.

Ruby: I didn't pick our flowers, mom! I got them from the the market. Yeah, I just walked to the market, and saw these most beautiful shiny flowers, and I asked the man if I could get them, and he said yes, and then he told me that they were made of glass, kind of like Cinderella's slippers. So I brought them home from the market just for you, mom.

Me: Wow, that's quite the story. You wouldn't lie to me now would you?

Ruby: No! I Promise.

What the girl lacks in integrity, she makes up for in imagination.

the toothbrush bandit

I don't know what it is with this kid, but he has this strange fixation with toothbrushes (and chap stick, and dog food...but today we'll just touch on the toothbrush theme). No matter how high I put them up, or how well I hide them...he always gets to them. There isn't a cabinet he can't scale...nor a surface he can't pull himself on top of. He'll go to great lengths for a chance to put his little paws (and teeth, and tongue, and lips) on our toothbrushes. He'll grab a handful of them and carry them all around the house with him, which totally grosses me out if I I overthink sometimes I imagine him swirling them around in the toilet, or using them like a brush on the dog's hair. I have no idea where those things have been. I guess what I don't know won't ever hurt me (unless I end up with e. coli or hepatitis or some other nasty bacteria). In conjunction with this somewhat annoying obsession, however, he LOVES to have his teeth brushed. So I guess I'll take the bad with the good, and pray he moves on to bigger and better things real soon... well, except for knifes. Asher please stay away from the knives.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

frolicking in the clovers

One thing that drives me crazy about myself, is that I get these high expectations of how things are supposed to turn I want them to be. I'm an idealist. I envision and dream...creating in my mind - perfect moments, perfect scenarios, perfect situations. I guess it's not necessarily a bad thing, per se; but because I have such a hard time adapting my expectations when things don't turn out as planned, I end up giving up and getting upset...which is never a good thing.

This morning I had set my alarm for the crack of dawn, for no other reason than to get everything just perfect for our annual St. Patty's Day photo. That was probably my first mistake...a St. Patrick's day photo is just not a legitimate reason to interrupt good sleep. So anyway, in the course of the morning, things went from bad to worse...from the camera malfunction, to the kids' snotty noses, to the dogs' pulling and tugging at their perfectly tied and thoughtfully placed green bows (yes I did say dogs, as in plural...we are dog sitting Zoe, our niece Karen's maltese - so cute...and even cuter with two green bows tied in her ears - which lasted all of two minutes), the sun was too bright, Ruby wouldn't cooperate, Asher was screaming...the list goes on...and on. So I finally threw my arms in the air and declared we're through, it's over. John just laughed, and totally didn't understand my frustration, which added even more to my chagrin. He left for work looking handsome in his green green shirt and tie, and I hung my head feeling defeated...and disappointed...and embarrassed for making such a big deal over something so trivial.

I asked Ruby to change out of her 'green' outfit (the one I let her pick out at the store last night - specifically for our awesome family photo), and into her dance outfit (the one that the two of us had put together - in honor of the holiday- and laid out the day before). After she got all ready, we tied green ribbons on green suckers for all the girls in the dance class, and even had some time left over for a few pictures. The only thing she was interested in, however, was picking flowers...which totally bugged me. She would not hold still for a single photo. She wouldn't even so much as look at me. I had dreamed about how darling these photos would turn out...she'd be sitting on the little white chair in front of the shower curtain (which I had envisioned would make the best backdrop), with the most beautiful little smile on her perfect little face. There I go dreaming my way into fantasy land again. She agreed to finally let me take some pictures of her, but only if she could dance, and she would only dance if I put on the Glee soundtrack for her. She is very particular with her requests. I was happy to oblige, and enjoyed watching her frolic in the clovers while I went crazy with the shutter button. Too bad Asher missed out on all the fun...poor guy was so crabby during our first attempt, giving me no other choice than to put him back in his bed.

So after all that, we get to Ruby's dance, only to find out that the studio was closed due to spring break. Defeated and beaten once again. Ruby turned to me with a sad look and said so mom, does that mean I get to eat all the suckers? That made me laugh...for the first time today actually - I laughed.

The day ended up being a great one, different than how I had envisioned, but in many ways - better. Better because there was no plan. Better because we could just do what we wanted, when we wanted, and for as long as we wanted. No agendas, no schedules, nowhere we needed to be, nothing we absolutely needed to do. We went and visited John at work and passed out suckers to him and all his coworkers, and then headed to the dollar store so that the kids could pick out a toy; and we came home and colored...and played...and enjoyed the rest of our afternoon together.

And the camera stayed on the shelf.

top o' the morning to you...

I had big plans for our traditional St. Patrick's Day family photo shoot...but everything that could have gone wrong - did - and I ended up throwing in the towel.

Maybe I'll try again later. For now, we're off to take Ruby to dance...isn't she just cute and festive?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

the worst

I think one of the worst things that comes with being a parent, is having to watch your children suffer. Whether it be from a skinned up knee, a case of the 24 hour flu, or listening as they recount how their feelings were hurt earlier that day. As parents, we have an inherent desire to put our arms around our children and protect them...protect them from harm, protect them from danger, protect them from pain and discomfort...and of course, to protect them from ever getting their heart broken.

For as long as I can remember - starting when she was just months old, in fact - Ruby has suffered with respiratory problems...mainly croup. I can't even count the number of times we have awoken in the night to the familiar sound of a barking seal...followed by frantic gasps for air. This year alone, this infection has plagued her (us) 5 times. And last night was no less scary. In fact, in some ways, it was a lot more scary. We have a nebulizer, coupled with a year supply of little 3 ml vials of Albuterol Sulfate. We keep them in a container under our bed so that we can get to them easily and quickly if need be. It never ceases to amaze me how quick an attack can come on. Anyone whose child suffers with frequent bouts of croup will understand when I say that on many occasions, we have put Ruby to bed in great spirits - without so much as a runny nose - only to have her wake within 10 minutes...coughing...barking...crying...and gasping. As scary as it is, and as terrible as it always sounds, I know that we are well equipped with the supplies needed to provide quick relief, so I never worry too much. What made last night almost unbearable, however, was Ruby's own panic-stricken state. In between each convulsion for air, she would cry in trepidation I can't breathe! The more we tried to calm her down, the more frantic she became, contributing even more to the struggle for breath. We tried to explain to her between the yelling and flailing limbs, that if she would just calm down and take the breathing treatment - in a matter of seconds - it would become easier. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she struggled for air. That was the hardest part. We knew she would be OK. We knew that we had all the resources to make her feel better, but trying to get her to relax, to believe us and trust us...that was the hardest, saddest part of all. I don't know how it finally happened, but after what seemed an eternity, she finally relaxed long enough for the bronchodilator to work it's magic, and within minutes...she was fast asleep in John's arms. The struggle was finally over.

And then I went crazy with the camera.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

just perfect

Today we went to the zoo for Ruby's field trip. It was an absolute perfect day to visit the zoo. The weather was beautiful - a bit chilly - but still sunny and pleasant. The kids were well behaved. The animals were as bizarre, and amazing, and intriguing as usual. I exchanged heartfelt conversation with a dear friend. And the kids slept the entire way home - allowing me the opportunity to reflect...and contemplate...and take it all in.

Perfect I tell you. Just perfect.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


The other day we stopped off at John's work to pick him up for lunch, and ended up waiting 30 minutes before he finally came out. While we were just sitting there, and to appease the doldrums of waiting, I snapped this picture of myself with my phone. I guess I wanted to see what my 'bored' face looked like.

After messing around with my phone for far too long, changing Asher's poopy diaper, and easing the kids' hunger pangs (by shoving candy in their mouths)...I surprisingly, still had time to do some pondering. While we waited, my wandering mind got to thinking about how much of my life is spent just waiting. Waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting on hold with the Dr's office...or the cell phone company...or whomever, waiting for John to get home from work, waiting for the weekend, waiting for test results, waiting for my children's obnoxious phases to end, waiting for summer to come, waiting for the next vacation, waiting for the sun to rise...waiting for this, waiting for that.

And then I really got to thinking about the world we live fast-paced it has become, how instantly we need to be gratified, how restless and sometimes even annoyed we become when confronted with even the slightest delay. But isn't it good to have to wait for things? I think so. It teaches us patience. It teaches us self-restraint. It teaches us to really love and appreciate - all the more - that which we have waited for once it finally becomes ours. I think the most important thing to remember, is to not become stagnant while we wait. We should never stop going, and doing, and moving, and loving...we should never stop living.

I got a letter a couple of months back from a dear sweet sister in my ward. The same week our ward fasted for me, they also fasted for her. Her cancer had progressed to the point where she was bed-ridden and extremely ill. A few days after the fast, I received this letter from her, and would like to share just a portion of it which has had a profound impact on my life:
Being ill has taught me how precious living is; the greatest miracle of all, and is ours to enjoy every day.

A couple of weeks after I received this beautiful letter, dear sweet Jackie passed away. Even though I immediately wrote her back, I doubt she realized the lesson she taught me before she was taken from this earth. While she lay in bed, possibly 'waiting' to die, she mustered up every ounce of energy she possessed to write me a note, admonishing the enjoyment and amplification of life. Imagine that...serving to the very end. She reminded me, indirectly, of something I have always known but seem to forget on a daily's that amidst the delays, it's important to keep on living, and loving, and serving; and that before we know it, the vexatious waiting will be over. The last thing I want to do is wish and wait my life away.

So while I 'wait' for John to get home from work, rather than killing time on the internet, taking pointless self-portraits of myself, or mindlessly watching as the second hand circles it's way around the clock; I think I'll grab my kids...we have some laughing, loving, and living to do.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

i take it back

So maybe I'm not really loving Ruby's artwork after all. Tonight she handed me this, and in her own words said, it's a picture of you, mommy, with a beautiful mustache...a Hitler mustache no less.

Ruby, grow up.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I just love Ruby's artwork. I think I'll be sad the day she actually starts drawing bodies. I kind of like how, from her perspective, everybody's arms and legs protrude from their heads. Actually, I just noticed that some of us don't even have arms at all, but at least we have ears and beautiful earrings...

Ruby, please don't ever grow up.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

the new bed

that she hates, and absolutely refuses to sleep in...

is at least good for something.

There had to be a reason we paid $300 for a twin size mattress.

I mean the more expensive the mattress, the higher one should be able to jump, right?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

i still love you

I tell you, this little sweetheart can make you feel like a million bucks. Tonight she overheard me complaining to John (like I do quite often) about how large I feel. He (like he always does) assured me that I'm not, and Ruby said it's ok mom, I still love you. It's good to know that even if I was as large as our house, Ruby would still love me.

An hour or two later, I was going through the whole bed time routine with her. She told me that she hated her new bed and only liked mom and dad's bed. I told her that she was breaking my heart because her daddy and I put a lot into that bed, setting it up and making it real special just for her. Then she said mommy, even though I sometimes break your heart...I still love you.

Guess where she's sleeping tonight?

Am I the world's biggest softy or what?