Sunday, March 30, 2008

Quick Beach Trip

Wednesday afternoon, Doug called me and asked if I wanted to go to the beach.  He and Scot had to meet with Daniel's Woodland, the guys who are making their five story Redwood tree (among other things), and Scot was taking his family over to stay in Avila for the entire weekend.  Daniel's Woodland is in Paso Robles, about a half an hour from Cayucos, where Doug's grandparents have a beach house.  So Thurday morning we loaded up and headed for the coast.I left Doug in Paso Robles and the kids and I drove on to Cayucos where we made the beach our very first stop.  Dylan had fallen asleep on the car ride over, so as I was unbuckling him I said, (to his silent, eyes closed face) "Dylan, do you wanna go to the beach".  Without opening his eyes, he immediately answered, "Yeah!" and started to sit up. Keilana needed no encouragement, as she was already bouncing off the walls of the car shouting  "The beach! The beach!"
We ditched our shoes and went running across the sand.  The air was crisp, but not cold.  I couldn't say as much for the water.  It was a gorgeous, sunny day, but no matter what the weather, that water is always freezing.  We spent most of our afternoon building sandcastles.  Keilana likes to add lots of accessories to her castles in the form of rocks, sticks, leaves and shells.  This time the rocks were "prince warriors".  Dylan liked throwing the sand, of course, since that was the most annoying thing he could be doing.  At one point he found a board that was slightly shorter than him (it looked like an old 2x4 that had fallen off of someone's picnic table and been weathered severely by the ocean).  He kept putting it at my feet and then pointing behind him and pulling on me.  After several minutes (and a few more illustrative gestures from him) I realized that he was trying to get me to show him how to surf.  There were several kids bodyboarding and surfing, and apparently that looked fun to him (he's a much more adventurous soul than I am).  He was pretty annoyed when I told him we couldn't do it.

Keilana was much braver about the
ocean this time.  When she was about 8 months old, she was holding one of my fingers in her right hand and one of Doug's in her left, walking across the sand, when she suddenly charged full speed into the chilly water.  But I'm afraid the last two years she's been pretty scared of water in general.  She loves the swimming pool, but only if she's firmly touching the ground, or I'm holding onto her tightly. This time she crawled slowly up to the water and then giggled when it rushed up almost to her knees with the next wave.  She continued to play in it until she jumped, lost her balance and got pretty wet and sandy--but she didn't cry! She thought it was funny!!  That's major progress for her.

Thursday evening we traveled back to our old haunt, San Luis Obispo, where they have a 
 big street fair and farmer's market every Thursday night.  It wasn't the best evening we've ever had, but the pizza and cotton candy we enjoyed a long the way made it pretty good.  Since Dylan has so much Grizwear (that's he's now growing out of--shameless hint to family members for more MT presents for my children), we stopped in at CalPoly Downtown and bought him a Mustang hat.  He needed a new hat anyway, and this one should fit him for a while.

Friday we made one last trip to the beach.  I'm afraid Dylan slept through most of it (which makes sense, since he slept very little the previous night), but Keilana was very, very excited to be on the beach in her swimsuit.  I think she's ready for summer.
She keeps telling me she wants to go to Grandma's and swim in her pool.  Maybe this summer she'll stop being a 'fraidy cat long enough to actually learn how to swim!  She also enjoyed the walk down the pier, and the rest of the people on the pier enjoyed it when she suddenly dropped down with her face to the ground and her little booty up in the air as she tried "to see the ocean 
under the bridge". 
It was a very quick but very fun little
 getaway.  Next stop: Lake Tahoe!

Monday, March 24, 2008


Ok, well I made no effort to order or organize any of these pictures, so I'll just start writing and hope you make sense of it all.

Easter was pretty fun this year, overall.  On Saturday, we went shopping, having not yet obtained any Easter supplies, and then headed over to Tim and Amanda's for egg-dying.  Keilana was a bit skittish about it at first, but once she got the hang of it she thought it was pretty neat and she wanted to make all the eggs pink (her most favorite color).  Dylan initially tried to drink the orange dye, but upon discovering that it was composed largely of vinegar, he thought better of it and put an egg in instead.  He was quite a big fan of the egg dying, and enjoyed the experimentation of mixing dyes.

After the eggs were all good and colored (with a few beautiful, hippie-esque creatures from Doug), the kids did a couple of crafts.  They decorated some door knob hangers with foamies and painted some little ceramic figurines.  Dylan quickly lost interest in that activity when he discovered that it wasn't nearly as messy as the egg dying.

Sunday was quite a nice Easter.  The kids woke up and were excited about their baskets.  Dylan was particularly jazzed about the Cadbury cream egg he had all to himself (and quite proud of himself for unwrapping it all on his own).  Keilana loved her bunny and has been carrying it everywhere for the last two days.  She was also excited to get all dressed up in her Easter dress (a hand-me-down from Elyse).  Sacrament meeting was wonderful.  The Bishopric were the speakers and the primary sang.  It was full--the Lindsay Ward building is pretty small, but it was full up clear to the back of the Cultural hall.  There were a lot of people there visiting family for the holiday, and a lot of faces I hadn't seen in a while--I'm glad they were there:)

Young Women's was great.  Our Bishop is so wonderful that he comes in and teaches the lesson for my girls every fourth Sunday, and this was no exception.  He talked about the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve, and the Quorums of the Seventy--what they do, how those callings happen, etc.  It was a wonderful preparation for General Conference in two weeks, where we will have a solemn assembly and sustain a new prophet.  It was moving and powerful to listen to Bishop Meik talk about the setting apart of a new prophet--about that process and all those involved.  And I saw a moment during that lesson where the girls face lit up and I knew that they got it.

It flashed me back to earlier in the week during our Wednesday night activity.  I had set up a table and the girls were all sitting around, each of them with a bit of unleavened bread (tortilla) and grape juice (purple Gatorade) in front of them.  I played the Kenneth Cope song (Gesthemane) and then took them day by day through the major events of the last week of the Savior's life, until we came to Thursday night.  We talked about the Feast of the Passover, and the Lord's Last Supper and institution of the Sacrament.  We read several scriptures about the Sacrament and the Atonement and then talked about the Lord, after that last meal with his apostles, walking to a Garden where, fatigued from the week's events, his apostles fell asleep.  But he didn't.  He wept and prayed and bled.  He atoned for all sins.  He felt all pains.  We talked a little bit about what it means when we say "an infinite Atonement".  Then I asked the girls how all this (the precious act in Gesthamane, the scriptures about mercy and love and forgiveness and that One Great Sacrifice) connected to the Sacrament.  And then I saw it--all of a sudden, it just clicked for two of the girls--I saw the light come one, I saw the thoughts turning, "That's it.  He's met the debt for everything I've ever done wrong.  He's already met the debt for everything I may ever do wrong.  That's why the Sacrament is so important, that's why do it every week.  Because of what he did, all I ever have to do is feel truly sorry for the wrongs I have done and take that bread and water and I'm made entirely clean again, just like at baptism."   We talked about that for a while, and it touched my heart so much to watch that start to sink in for these 12-year-olds.  To start to really understand what it is we've been given.

To finish out the night, we talked about the long trudge up Golgotha, about the love and mercy that the Savior showed even to those who were the most cruel to him.  And, to cap it all off, the glorious reality of his Resurrection and exaltation.  Most 12 year olds can't grasp the idea of their own mortality, let alone immortality (to be fair, I'm not sure I understand a whole lot about it myself), but I could see that they were at least beginning to realize what this is all about, and that was a beautiful thing to see.

Anyway, I really enjoyed Kindon's lesson, and was grateful for it, since the rest of our Easter holiday was rather unspiritual.  We had a great time--we went over to Amanda and Tim's again  We took Brad with us, and Katy, Chuck and Rachel were there, too. We had some yummy dinner and the kids hunted eggs.  Well, most of the kids.  Dylan fell asleep on the way there and slept through the egg hunts, but he kept picking up other people's eggs later in the day and seemed pretty pleased just with that.  Keilana was so stinking fast that I mostly only got pictures of the back of her head or pieces of her arm.  She loved hunting eggs and was actually getting quite good at it near the end of the hunt.  She was getting more observant (not generally one of her strong characteristics) and thought the whole thing was pretty funny.  It was beautiful outside--clear and sunny and hanging around 78*--so the kids were out in the yard pretty much the whole time.  Keilana and Clayton were driving each other nuts by early evening, so we loaded up our kids and took them home around fivish to save everyone's sanity.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Let the crusades begin!

One of the many problems with our society is that people get angry over pretty much nothing all the time.  But I must say that I get some sort of strange pleasure out of it when people get pissed off for the right reasons. 

We have a very small public library in Lindsay, which is actually a branch of the Tulare County Library.  A few weeks ago, the librarian (who is a single mother of two who worked for the county library system for four years before her boys were born) spotted a patron looking at child pornography on one of the library computers.  She called her supervisor at the county who told her to issue a written warning asking him to leave.  She agreed to do so and said, "I need to call the police, right?"  The supervisor told her no, she just needed to tell him to leave.  As an employee of the public and a mother, that didn't sound right to her.  She told her supervisor so, and was given a lecture about not having enough loyalty to the county.  She asked Lindsay Police Captain Rich Wilkinson if her supervisor was correct.  He told her that viewing child pornography violated federal law and that she should call them (the police) the next time this patron came in.  Knowing full well that it may jeopardize her job, she did just that.  The police came in with a team and surrounded the man, who was once again viewing child pornography.  A subsequent arrest and search of his home has led to seven felony indictments, all related to child pornography.

Case closed, this woman's a hero, right?  As a mother of two small children living in Lindsay, I'd damn well say so.  A day and half later, she was fired.  She was on a six month probationary period with the county, standard for new employees.  A week short of the end of that probationary period, she was let go.  This has caused quite the uproar in our little community.   Regular library patrons have said that every time they visited the library, the librarian was professional, friendly and helpful.  Our city manager, mayor and city council drafted a letter to the county just days after this incident stating that this sequence of events was unacceptable and indefensible.  County elections are not far off, and there are some County Supervisors who are likely to fall on their butts awfully hard.

Yesterday, County Supervisors held a closed door meeting in which they concluded that there were "sound business reasons" for not continuing the librarian's employment.  They said that they could not disclose what those were unless the librarian signed a waiver so that her personnel information could be made public.  She promptly did so, stating that she had nothing to fear from the record being publicized because she had nothing to hide.  The employee evaluation that was released scored her at a 5--average rating for most competent, regular employees with the county.  This makes it appear that they were happy with her performance until now.  Ok, folks, its been made public.  Now you have no confidentiality agreements to hide behind, so explain yourselves.

This, my friends, is bureaucracy at its destructive finest.  Bureaucrats don't write policies to serve people, they hire people to serve policies and then penalize people who try to go above and beyond.  She stuck her neck out to do the right thing because her sense of morality was more important than her supervisor's control over her job future.  And because of that, she's gotta find a new job.  Utterly reprehensible. 

I believe in the concept of righteous anger, but as I've told many of you before, I often have trouble with it as an emotional reality.  But this is one case where I think people are right to be pissed off.  Anger is only righteous when it is directed at immoral actions or people and drives you toward being productive in a positive way.  Well, I'll tell ya, there are a whole lot of people in Lindsay and in Tulare County who are plenty mad right now, and a few heads are gonna roll.  The librarian intends to sue--perhaps that will get the county library's attention and get them to change policy that isn't even in step with federal law, let alone good common sense.  And she will have a whole community 100% behind her, helping her fight the good fight any way that we can.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Who Am I?

Apparently not a creative person.  For Enrichment in a few weeks, we're supposed to bring 1 or 2 items that tell something about who we are, and I'm having trouble coming up with something for myself, because I'm retarded like that. Thoughts? Ideas?  Rude, sarcastic responses?  All welcome!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Can't change those genes.

I talk a lot about Keilana being so loud and dramatic and bossy, but I must make a confession:  that is Keilana at home, or Grandma's house.  Just about everywhere else, she is extremely quiet and almost sullen.  We have a few friends that we visit fairly regularly, where she plays with just a child or two her own age and in those circumstances she is her normal, exuberant self.  But in the day care at my gym, in her Primary classes, and in any new environment filled with strangers, she becomes a mopey-faced silent child.  My little drama queen is, I'm afraid, terribly shy.

There was a Primary activity (Primary is the Sunday School program for kids ages 3-12 at our Church) on Saturday.  They have activity days every three months or so for the kids, usually lasting an hour or two.  Yesterday they colored an Easter story, decorated egg-shaped sugar cookies and had an Easter egg hunt out on the front lawn of the church.  Sounds like something every 3-year-old would love, right?  The rest of them did.  I was supposed to take Keilana in and just drop her off, but ended up staying for 15 minutes as I tried to coax her to go sit with the other kids, instead of on my lap or clinging to my arm.  I finally left as they all hopped up to table to color (usually one of her favorite activities), sitting next to her older cousin, Elyse.  She was ok with it, but looked miserable and apparently never brightened up much at all until I got back.

This is not an uncommon occurrence.  Any time I leave her with anyone less familiar than grandparents or good friends, she gets melancholy and quiet.  She is very well behaved and doesn't cause any problems, but just hides as much as she can until Doug and I come back.  I get torn between being exasperated at her (Keilana, you know everyone here! You see all of them at least once a week!) and feeling completely awful for her.  You see, she inherited this malady from me.

I know its torture to ask her to stay with someone unfamiliar.  I know being in a roomful of people that she doesn't know intimately probably makes her feel like she's hardly getting enough air.  I'm still convinced that the reason I didn't suffer from constant anxiety attacks as a child is because I had a twin brother to act as a buffer between myself and the world in unfamiliar situations or with unfamiliar people--I always had my other little half there, someone familiar to cling to.  She doesn't.  I can't imagine how difficult it must be for her, with no one.  She sees these people every week, but that doesn't mean she feels like she knows them, feels comfortable with them.  I know that feeling all too well and I just feel terrible for her.

I have consciously fought that very hard in myself since I was 10, but I'm nearly 24 and if I'm at a party, even with people I know but am not very close friends with, and Doug leaves, I can feel my pulse quicken and my breathing get shallow.  The main reason I took the job with MontPIRG when I was 17 was that I knew it would force me to spend four hours a day talking to complete strangers, and another two hours a day in an office with people I'd never met.  All the schools I applied to were thousands of miles from home, so I knew a year later I'd be leaving everything familiar behind.  I had to force myself to deal with being outside my comfort zone to prepare myself for that.  I have made a lot of friends in the six or seven years since then and had a great time moving from place to place, but it certainly hasn't been comfortable for me.  I have learned to be socially graceful and act comfortable, so as not to make others uncomfortable, but I'm not actually at ease as often as I seem to be.  When I'm the one everyone is looking at (e.i. teaching a lesson) or I'm trying to have a conversation with people I don't know well I go from a rather relaxed, articulate person to someone who stammers a bit, trails off a lot, constantly adjusts my hair or touches my face and laughs for no good reason.  Its been such a difficult thing for me to try to overcome and so its frustrating to see my daughter struggle with the same thing.

She's got a long, long way to go, and I'm starting to get a little worried about sending her to school next year.  I'm sure that ultimately she'll do fine, but I know that the first couple years are going to be enormously difficult for her.  She LOVES other kids, and as long as they are cousins or we are in small groups of 1-3 other kids, she does just fine.  But if the group starts getting bigger than that, she becomes quite withdrawn.  For those of you who have seen my little Tigger in action, you know that's a pretty severe change.

Your kids come so perfect, you hope that they'll escape your pitfalls.  You don't want them to have to struggle with the things you've had to struggle with.  But I guess at least she'll always have a parent who understands.  That's gotta be worth something.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Trains and baking toxic substances

So, when you are a parent occasionally you have these days where from the start of the day to the end you know how blessed you are to have your children and everything seems wonderful and the day is just heavenly.

For those of you who don't know, Doug is into model railroading.  He ultimately wants to do a model of perhaps the RailLink line through Ravalli and Polson, or maybe a chunk of the Sierras or something, but so far he's just in the "acquiring stuff" phase of his project.  Saturday there was a train show down in Bakersfield, so we loaded up the kids and the four of us spent the day checking out trains, working models, train toys, etc.  Dylan LOVED it.  He is always trying to steal his daddy's trains and once he figured out that he was in BIG trouble if he tried to touch the trains, he was great.  He would just point them out as they went through the mountain tunnels and around little towns and say, "oooohh".  Keilana enjoyed it, although not as much because somehow she got it in her head that she was to be given candy so she spent half the day whining about not having any.  She did love the Circus train model, though.  There was the actual circus train as well as a parade in the small town, with the big top set up full of tiny people. She thought that was pretty cool.

Outside in front of the building, they had a miniature train set up that you could ride on.  It was on tracks they had laid down, and the engine was about three feet tall and four feet long and pulled a half a dozen single seats.  We had the kids ride and they both loved it.  Keilana was sitting behind me all smiles and kept saying, "Mommy, this is FUN!"  Dylan was standing in front of my seat just yelling, "Choo-choo!" the whole time and when it came to a stop he yelled, "Yay!" and started clapping.  I'm sure they both would've ridden several more times had we let them.  The drive down to Bakersfield was beautiful (unfortunately, it ended in Bakersfield and so did the beauty), with the gorgeous spring weather making the day that much more pleasant.  It was just a fantastic day from start to finish.

Cut to yesterday (Monday).  As a parent, you also have days when you wonder why you decided to reproduce.  Keilana was whiny all day.  I can handle her kicking and screaming and throwing an outright fit much better than whining.  Oh, it drives me crazy.  Everything was difficult (Keilana, pick up your blocks.  "I can't, my elbows hurt".)  or very, very sad, ("Mommy I dropped my train!  Whaaaaa!).  She was obstinate every time she was asked to do anything or to NOT do something.  Dylan kept beating her up--I couldn't convince him to leave his poor sister alone--he kept knocking her down and laughing and she'd scream every time.  When she finally hit him back, he would punch her or, if he was in the mood, bite her.  I decided that we must go to the park before I strangled them both, so I got out the stroller and both their faces immediately lit up.  We played at the park for a couple hours and everyone was much happier and more relaxed by the time we headed home.

As soon as we got back to the house, I turned the oven on to preheat so that I could broil some steaks for dinner.  After it had been on for about 40 minutes, I opened it to move the baking rack up and was hit with the horrible scent of artificial material burning.  In the middle of the baking rack was a large, squarish, rubbery black substance that, after some deductive reasoning and brief interrogating I confirmed to be one of Keilana's giant foam blocks.  She has a set of Princess blocks that are about a foot square that interlock, which we use to build tunnels and such.  Since we bought Ratatouille a few months ago, Keilana fancies herself a chef and apparently sometime in the morning, she had been pretending that the block was a cake so she had put it in the oven to bake.  She had not intended that I actually bake it and was quite distraught about the whole thing.  Dylan, of course, thought it was hilarious, which for Keilana simply added insult to injury and increased her screaming.

I was so glad to put them to bed.

And now for something completely different.

Sunday evening we held our New Beginnings program.  The Young Women program at our Church is responsible for all the girls from ages 12-18, so once a year we hold a program to welcome the girls who will be turning 12 in the next year and introduce the theme for the year.  We were supposed to have New Beginnings a couple of weeks ago, but the week before we were going to do it, one of the girl's father was in a motorcycle accident with another girl's older brother (fortunately some extreme road rash and a couple of broken bones were the extent of their injuries), another member of our ward was in the hospital with heart trouble, another had her baby, one of my fellow leaders had a little girl in the hospital with severe food poisoning, one of my girls was trying to move into a new house with her family, as was the other leader in our program.  Several other families were also sick.  So between trying to take people meals, give people blessings, take care of children, etc, etc, there were just too many demands on people so we postponed it.  I'm glad we did.  It went really well.

The theme for the year is "Wherefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works" (5:15).  We went with a star theme, relating the idea of being "steadfast and immovable" to the unchanging stars.  So we had the lights dimmed and had decorated with lots of Christmas lights.  We had a white backdrop with a star for each of our girls on it (their names were on the stars).   My favorite part of the evening by far was when we had the mothers speak.  One at a time, from youngest to oldest, we had each Mom come up and tell everyone what they loved most about their daughter or something unique about her.  It was really touching, because the love in the room was so evident--they are such a phenomenal group of girls.  Most of them will be around for quite a while--its a young group, consisting mostly of 12 and 13 year olds--but Susie, our lone 17 year old will be leaving this summer and that made me sad.  She has been so wonderful since I got my calling--so full of enthusiasm and ideas and hard work.  She has never failed to be friendly, patient, optimistic and motivated.  She's a unique person and she will be sorely missed.  Each of the girls bore their testimony one at a time and I was so touched by hers.  She talked about being lonely, spending much of her life as the only active girl her age in her ward, and how she could always rely on the Savior and always had a friend in him.  I remember that feeling well myself and I just wanted to give her a hug and say, "Wait til you get to BYU!  You'll be surrounded by wonderful young women who understand you, who love you, who hold sacred and precious the same things that you do!"

And in postponing our program we received an unexpected blessing.  We were able to have Teara join us.  Teara moved to Visalia at the end of the last year with her Mom.  Her grandparents live in Lindsay so she pops in occasionally.  She happened to be there yesterday and so she came and participated in our program with us.  The Lord does work in mysterious ways.  I was glad to see her again.  When you work with youth in this kind of capacity, you grow to feel almost a parental-type love and responsibility for them.  And so, like a parent would, you worry about them sometimes.  I never worried about Teara.  Not because I love her any less (the very sight of the child makes me smile), but because for whatever reason, I have had absolute confidence in her from the first moment I met her.  Something has just told me all along that, whatever happens in life, Teara will be just fine.  She'll succeed. And I trusted that prompting.

I love them all.  Little Makaela, so much like her mother, so sweet and gentle.  It is fitting that she arrived as the oldest sister in a family of seven, because she is one of the most service and child oriented people I have ever known.  She works hard, but very quietly.  And when she lets it out, she has a tremendously loveable goofy side as well.  Monique, who we all tease mercilessly because she is so easily distracted and wanders wildly off course in both discussion and activities, but never gets upset.  Takes the teasing in stride and even pokes fun at herself, because she knows who she is and that she is loved.  And Kaselynn. Oh Kaselynn!  She is arguably the "girliest" of my girls, but she is also the best football player and most accomplished belcher.  She's hilarious.  She is very strong minded and yet she takes direction and suggestion SO well--what she always ultimately wants is someone to guide her in the right direction and I think she's going to surprise a lot of people with her breadth of talent.

Though there are parts of my job that I don't like/am bad at (all the administrative-type tasks that come with the territory of having a leadership position), I love my calling. I have two amazing counselors who are great at picking up the slack where I have deficiencies and are wonderful friends to me.  And the girls make my life better all the time.  I'm excited to see what fun the next year will bring! 

Friday, March 7, 2008

Wandering wonderings. . .

Sunday morning Doug and I decided we needed to go to the temple this week, so we dropped our children off with various relatives yesterday afternoon and spent the evening in the temple.  It was a small session, with fewer than a dozen couples, and so the session itself didn't take very long.  But we lingered longer than we usually do in the Celestial room.  With such a small group, it cleared out fairly quickly and so about half our time spent there was alone with each other.  

People talk about being "filled with the Spirit" and I think the temple is the only place where I feel that quite so literally.  My body fills full--not my tummy, as many times I have finished a session completely famished.  But my whole body simply feels "filled up".  I don't know how else to describe that feeling--I feel full from the top of my head down through my toes.  Perhaps it is a feeling of completeness. It is rather difficult in the course of our lives not to focus on our inadequacies, the things that we lack, the ways in which we fall short.  Sitting in the Celestial room, I feel like a complete person who lacks nothing.

And yet. . . .

I went to the temple with a question in my heart.  One that has long troubled me and I certainly and very powerfully got my answer, by casually reading over Doug's shoulder when he opened the scriptures.  The only verse I could see from where I sat was the response that I needed.  But (as is often the case, at least for me) the answer I received raised a multitude of new questions.

I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine (and I hope she won't mind that I hijacked the content for these purposes) in which she said she didn't believe her brother needed to feel any great responsibility for his brothers and sisters because they are grown and have families of their own.  I see her point and I should hope that everyone's greatest sense of responsibility (and action) is directed toward the family they have created, but marriages and children of our own do not exempt us from responsibility to the family we were raised with.

The responsibility we have to the family we come from is something I have and do spend a great deal of time thinking about. I believe the level of responsibility very much depends on the individuals and circumstances, being greater for some than for others.  But what we actually do with that responsibility is the tricky part.  The Savior was a perfect example of service partly because he had perfect empathy and perfect compassion.  He understood people completely.  

Jumping trains. . . .

I was watching part of the making of featurette on "Return of the King" with Doug the other night and remarked that one of my favorite scenes in the movie as well as the book is when all in attendance at Aragorn's coronation celebration bow to the four hobbits.  None of us has passed through fire and hell and vanquished evil, but part of the reason that that story resonates so strongly with so many people is that most of us have one or two of those friends, our fellow hobbit--our companions in our most perilous journeys.

 A friend of mine, who's a military man, once called them "battlemates", the people who have fought down in the trenches side by side with you.  He said that the people you do battle with know you in a way that other people never do because you've experienced the worst things of your lives together.  Most of us anymore are lucky enough to escape life without ever having to carry a gun and fight those kinds of battles, but we do have those unique friends that fight our metaphoric (or at least less graphic) battles with us.  I think of my four oldest friends, who I grew up with.  The five of us live in five different states;  most of us have not had face to face conversations with each other in years.  We all have many other wonderful friend in our lives now who are a few blocks away, not a few hundred miles.  Yet, when one of us has a hard time or is frustrated or upset, often we deal with it by going to the computer and emailing our old friends about our troubles.  There is comfort in that, because we grew up together, experienced the horror that is human adolescence:) together.  We do feel like we always know and understand each other, because we have matching scars.

I think it's easier, however, to find friends in life who understand our deepest pains and sorrows.  The people who understand those things do indeed know us well, but those who fully grasp our profoundest joys know us better.  I think of being in the temple with Sam for the first time.  It meant so much to me to serve as her escort, to stand next to each other and support each other again, as we had so many times before.  She has been my best friend for virtually my whole life, and we have indeed seen each other's worst moments (and helped one another through them).  But we can talk endlessly about the hard stuff.  The moment she walked into the Celestial room in the Salt Lake temple, the supernal joy of that moment is what there are no words for.  It couldn't be explained, it couldn't be expressed aloud.  But in a tight embrace and a few tears, each of us knew without words that the other understood our speechless joy, knew it completely--understood a moment when everything we have been through came full circle and meant something so much more than we could've guessed as 12 year olds lying in a field full of daisies looking up at the blue June sky.  There are people who have shared my heartaches with me and there are people who have shared my joys.  But rare indeed are the people who understand both.

It can be disheartening to know that the people who have been at the root of some of your most profound sorrow don't understand the reason for your sorrow because they can't understand your most profound joy.  No matter how much you love someone, you can't give them your knowledge in any way that really matters.  You can't give them your joy.  You can't take their stripes for them, no matter how willing you may think you are to do so.  No matter how deep and warm your love for them, you can't hand them assurances you've been given.  

What you can do is keep living in light, keep looking for opportunities to share it and have hope that soon they will hit a turning point and light will flood their souls.   

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


I've definitely got the spring giddies these days.  Its just so glorious outside that its hard not to.  The last several days its been in the low 70s and beautifully sunny outside.  We've been playing at the park quite a bit, which the kids are thrilled about.   On Sunday we went for a drive.  We were going to go down to the Tehachapi Loop and try to see a train go down, but about 12 miles south of Terra Bella, we got a flat tire.  I'm afraid we had to slap on the dough-nut and turn around, but fortunately we were stranded right next to a healthy green field, which Keilana and Dylan had a great time playing in (hopefully whatever farmer this belongs to will be forgiving of us trampling through his alfalfa).  

I very much miss real winters, but I love the spring.  It is clear and sunny, the smogless days when we can see the glorious Sierra Nevada mountains are more frequent and all the early flowers are in bloom, not to mention all the orchards.  If the midwest is America's bread basket, then California is the fruit and nut bowl (no disparaging metaphoric fruit jokes, please).  All the the thousands and thousands of trees that produce all those delicious almonds, pecans,  peaches, etc are in full, spectacular bloom.  The grass is a vibrant, soft green and the skies are cloudless and pale blue, with bright sunshine lighting everything up.

I love that Easter falls in the spring.  The world coming alive again does indeed make the message of rebirth and power over death more moving and real and beautiful.  I've got vases full of daffodils on the island in my kitchen and on my dining room table and every time I see them I smile--I just can't help it, daffodils are such a happy flower.  I'm grateful that I grew up surrounded by beautiful flowers.  In another month, my dad's gardens will be magnificently overrun with daffodils and tulips--oh the tulips!  All kinds of colors.  And all the yellow daffodils smiling everywhere you look.

The munchkins and I went over to Amanda's today, and they had such a great time, eating their lunch out on the picnic table, driving the scooters around on the driveway and getting covered with good, clean dirt, as children should.  Then taking a break and enjoying a popsicle on the sidewalk.  There aren't many better ways to spend a day than feeling the green grass between your toes and the warm sunshine on your back.  Its a beautiful world.