Saturday, October 31, 2009


So Brad will start chemotherapy in just over a week. Sounds like that may go for 3 months or so, depending on the severity. The oncologist didn't think that the cancer had made its way to his liver or brain--if that's the case, things still look pretty darned optimistic. Won't know for sure until another battery of tests, including full-body CT scans, next week.

Trying to put aside the guilt, and the anger, and focus on the hope and the love. That's what is productive right now. Just need to let go of the rest. What's done is done. What matters is moving forward from where we are right now.

Its a wonderful family--not without its flaws, not without its setbacks, but filled with wonderful individuals. Brad is surrounded by a great support system. God bless them.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bad news

We just (and I mean just) found out that while Brad's surgery was successful, the cancer had already spread to his lungs. He's meeting with an oncologist today at 4, so I will update further after that, when a clearer picture of what that is going to mean comes into view.

In the mean time, please keep him (and his mom and stepdad, who bear the brunt of the financial and emotional cost) in your prayers. This week is fast Sunday, so if you are fasting, please include Brad in your fast.

Much gratitude and love to all!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Children need models far more than they need critics.

I think that, with rare exception, most parents truly love their children, deeply. Some show it or act on it better than others, but most people are doing the best they can as parents and, on the whole, do a pretty decent job. Some even do a fabulous job. The simple truth is that we sometimes fail even those we care deeply about. Every single one of us makes mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes hurt or frustrate or anger our kids. Its part of being a parent and being human at the same time. My parents were pretty great in most ways, and I've tried hard to remember that and be grateful for it and let any mistakes go, in hopes that my children will do as much for me. I've been accused on many occasions of thinking my mother is perfect. Well, I really don't, but all I pass along to anyone else are the good things that she is and has done as a person and as a parent because I know she tried really hard--that she still does--and all in all, she does a great job.

Keilana is in many ways my greatest joy as a parent. She is unquestionably my biggest challenge. Her ability to push my buttons is unique among my children. She had managed by 9 months old to make me more crazy at times than Dylan ever has, still, at nearly 4 years old. I have never had any feelings of impatience or frustration in dealing with Kylie yet, ever. I can easily count up the number of times I have lost my patience or even gotten close to it with Dylan. Not because his behavior is any better than Keilana's at all (in fact, in many ways its worse!), but because the particular nature of her personality and her challenges are the things I happen to struggle to be patient with because of my personality.

But nothing--and I mean nothing--puts me in my place so quickly or so effectively as when Keilana turns and says (or yells) to me, "Mom, stop yelling at me!" It doesn't matter what kind of brat she's been (and let me tell you, that girl can both whine and scream like you wouldn't believe), that's it. Then I try hard not to undermine myself further. I give her a hug, tell her I'm sorry, that I shouldn't have yelled and then politely and calmly send her to her room until she's ready to calm down and apologize to Mommy for what she did and change her behavior. And when I take that approach, she always does. Within a minute or two, she comes downstairs and looks up at me with big, sad, pathetic eyes and says, "I'm sorry I yelled at you, Mommy. I'll be better." And she is.

Lately its been the "nice talking Mom" or "mean talking mom". I have nearly conquered the yelling altogether (and I say nearly--I may never conquer it entirely), but I do still have a tendency to rebuke her with a sharp tone. You know the voice, its the "mom voice" every one of you has used when you're about on your last nerve with one of yours. When I do it, she says, "Mommy (and that word is usually almost yelled)! I want you to talk nice to me." I immediately change my tone and say, "I'm sorry. I do want to talk nice to you. I don't like sounding mean. Do you know why I was frustrated and angry with you?" Sometimes she knows immediately and sometimes she has to think about it for a few minutes, but I rarely tell her--I let her get there on her own. If I do that, then she apologizes and tries hard to change her behavior, pointing out to me the rest of the day how she's doing it right, and I always thank her for it. In turn, the way that she talks to Dylan and deals with him improves, as well.

When I respond the other way, and just get angry and send her to room or lose my patience and yell at her, it solves the problem momentarily, but very, very temporarily. The behavior gets worse day by day until I realize the pattern that we're in and stop it--take a moment to explain that I know I haven't been patient and I need to try harder, and then ask what she needs to work on. If I take that approach, she can always figure it out if I give her a few minutes to think about it. And then she feels like we're working together (something Keilana not just appreciates, but needs), and she's happy to try to fix her bad behavior. She just needs someone to show her a better way to deal with the problem. I have discovered as she's gotten older that Keilana is a unique combination of both extremely, intensely emotional and supremely reasonable. When I yell or even use a sharp tone, she just gets hurt and frustrated because she's already upset about something and now I'm mad at her for being upset. Don't get me wrong, she always knows who's in charge, ultimately, but when I approach her with honesty about where I can do better, she's much more obedient because she trusts me more and feels validated.

My mom, who teaches a very wide-range of kids in middle school Special Ed, jokes about her professional mantra: "I'm the adult here". Keilana has always had a hard time controlling her emotions--even the tiniest of frustrations can set her off. And sometimes I have to very consciously take a deep breath and say, "I'm the parent here". How do I expect her to learn to stop yelling and screaming and throwing a fit about every problem if when she does it, I respond by yelling and getting angry? My mom's children almost never yelled at her. I remember a few very isolated incidents, but in general it just didn't happen. It did not escape my attention, though, that my mother almost never yelled at her children. Yelling, no matter how authoritatively, doesn't work--not in the long term. The few times I did see one of my siblings yell at her, she remained remarkably calm and collected. That's an even more impressive feat when considering that the yelling was the least emotionally taxing thing about the situation when it did happen, but it was the icing on the cake that could've finally pushed a lot of parents over the limit. I have always shown great respect for my mother, because she has always shown great respect, patience and forgiveness for me. In those respects, she modeled to me the type of parent that I ought to be.

When Keilana was about two, I sent my mom an email stating that as a present to both her and myself, I was shipping Keilana to her house. I listed the litany of offenses she had committed that week (raw egg breaking and black widow catching were near the top). My mom responded with a great, big, virtual chuckle and said that she thought I must've been paying for Doug's sins because I was such an easy, obedient child. Perhaps I was blessed with this effervescent delight (and really, she is that more often than anything else) because as a child I had a mother who modeled the right way to handle it. If only I'd remember that more often.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Every Single One

I came across this article on a website I frequent on a daily basis, and it really touched me so I thought I'd pass it along. If you've been feeling cynical about the generosity of the human soul, or about the goodness of America and Americans (as I know many people have been), please give it a read. It may just restore a bit of your faith.

Overcoming the Odds

The Luckiest

This is one of my favorite love songs of all time. Seriously. Totally captures it all. Video is silly (not a video--just lyrics). But give it a listen if you've got a few minutes.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Passive and Direct

I tend to be very indirect and diplomatic. Less so in recent years--I have gotten better at confronting things directly with people. Often, however, I have been diplomatic to a fault, holding back things that ought to be said, because I didn't want to hurt someone's feelings or didn't want them to be mad at me (and those are two different things--we sometimes say that we do or do not do something in order to avoid hurting someone's feelings when what we really mean is that we don't want negative feelings directed at us).

For the most part, that hasn't been too terribly big a hindrance to my relationships, because I am not much of the tendency to store things up and file them away and let them build. I am more often simply passive than I am passive aggressive. My sarcasm is almost always used in good fun, not as a weapon. I am not generally easily angered. However, when I do lash out, I often do so passive aggressively and very viciously. Direct people tend to hate this about me (well, let's face it, anyone who has seen it hates this about me), because they talk to me after I have calmed down and am much more reasonable and say, "Why couldn't you just talk to me, like this? Its much better to be direct", or something along those lines. This always makes me laugh inside a little. Of course its better to have an honest talk once everyone is ready to talk and be honest and humble, but if I speak aloud and directly in the heat of the moment, I assure you it will be no less vicious and pointed. Because my responses are often written down, people who are openly aggressive tend to not realize that their angry, pointed verbal jabs are no less unkind, hurtful and damaging than my written ones. Rage is rage. We all need to control ourselves, whether that means staying our hand, our tongue, or our pen.

The thing I have to realize and try to change about myself is that I am somewhat given to cynicism about most people's intentions in "crucial conversations". I think most people are more given to justification and explication than they are true apology and accountability. I certainly am. I have to watch myself on this point and be sure to truly humble myself so that when I take responsibility for my actions I do so independent of what the other person has said or done and without qualification or caveat. Too often we want to say we're sorry, but explain why what we did was understandable and/or excusable. Its human nature, after all. We're all prone to it. Sometimes I have convinced myself that my motives or actions were somewhat other than they really were, because I didn't feel I could live with the guilt if I faced the reality. There have been times when its taken me months--and in one case years--before I could face that and admit what I'd really done. When I see someone else doing it, I try to remember the times I have needed the patience and mercy myself and just let go and move on, hoping that some day they'll get it.

Unfortunately, I have my own pride. I struggle with my own impatience. And when I feel that my cynicism has been proven justified, I just feel like turning off. Just being done. But in my heart I know that's not really the answer. There are, unfortunately, sometimes people in our lives who become so toxic that we have to remove them from our midst, but generally speaking "turning the other cheek" doesn't mean turning away from someone altogether. It is incumbent upon us to pray fervently and humbly for a soft heart, an honest self-awareness and an increase of love so that we can move forward. A friend was once telling us about a book he was reading called, "How to Hug a Porcupine". He said, "Wouldn't it just make more sense for the other person to stop being a porcupine?" Of course! But the difficult truth is that some time or another, each one of us is that porcupine. How grateful I am for those few, indispensable people who have, at pivotal moments in my life, wrapped their soft arms around my pokey quills. May I have the humility to do the same for others.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mmmmmm. . . .

We made jack-o-lanterns tonight.
And you know what that means:
pumpkin seeds.
I love pumpkin seeds.
And I've got a whole lot of 'em.

This little life of mine that I've got here,
its a pretty good gig.
Quite charmed really.
No, not because I have pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin seeds are just icing
on the fabulous cake
that is my life.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Its strange how quickly we can sometimes be reminded of how much we love someone,
and the ways that reminder sometimes comes.
Its strange how quickly frustration and confusion
can turn to sympathy, empathy and even pity.
Or just sadness.
Strange how we can go from wanting to set someone straight
to just wanting desperately to help bring them peace.
And being left once again frustrated
in knowing that you aren't the one who can give it to them.

Motrin miracles

So Keilana has had this stuffy nose/congestion thing going on for weeks now. It gets better, it gets worse, can't ever seem to completely shake it.

This morning she wakes up and crawls into our bed (after pushing her brother over) and says, "Mom, my ear hurts." OK. Maybe getting an ear infection. I tell her to get dressed and get ready for school and I'll try to get ahold of her doctor and get an appointment for right after school. No problem. Right before we leave for school I'm laying on the floor playing with Kylie and Keilana gets close and says something, making it apparent that she hasn't brushed her teeth (puppy breath, anyone?) I tell her to run upstairs and brush her teeth and she leans forward, grabs her ear and makes this sound like she's about to screech but there just wasn't enough air. She says she wants to go to school, so we load up and take her to school.

At 8:30 (one half hour into the school day), my phone rings. Keilana is in the health office with an ear ache and wants to go home. I go pick her up, get ahold of her pediatrician and have her at the doctor an hour later. Turns out, both ears are infected. No pain until this morning? Sometimes I think she just doesn't notice thing until they get in the way of what she wants to do.

Anyway, my point in telling you all this is to endorse children's Motrin. When I picked her up from school, she was nearly in tears from the pain. By the time I got her home, she was crying. She cried while I got the other kids put together and fed, with random little not-enough-breath-screeches here and there. I gave her some Motrin and laid her on the couch. Halfway to Porterville for her appointment, she suddenly starts gabbing away (aka, normal Keilana) and telling me all kinds of things that have happened at school this week. I asked, "Are you feeling better?" She stopped, looked rather surprised, and then broke into a huge smile and said,
"I do feel better! That medicine worked!"

She hasn't had any of her antibiotics yet, but I dropped her off at school on the way home from the doctor's office and haven't heard from her yet (more than four hours later). Sometimes, we like drugs.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Concluding Dishcloth Thoughts.

You can read part one here and part two here.

Its a strange feeling, losing a family member in such an unexpected and unfathomable way. My mom called me on a sweltering August night and started the conversation by asking, "Is Doug home with you?"--the exact phrase she used when she called to tell me that my grandfather had passed away. Expecting to hear that my lone living grandparent was now gone, I braced myself. When she said (with remarkable calm--God bless her good old English stiff upper lip), "Laura's been murdered" I think my brain shut off. Things like that don't happen in my world. She said my cousin was missing, and I assumed that she meant, tragically, he had been perhaps abducted, or killed elsewhere. It wasn't until she said something about guns and his mom's car that I realized she meant he was the suspect.

How could that be possible? For the first 24 hours after that phone call, Doug kept asking, "Are you OK?" and I responded with complete sincerity that I was fine, because I simply could not process what had happened. It couldn't possibly be true. She said she wanted to call me before I saw it on the news somewhere. I think it finally sunk in when I saw the story on It was one of those oh-sweet-heaven-how-do-things-like-that-happen stories, but it was about my family. For once in my life, I was grateful to have not been close to someone. I had never known my cousin and aunt all that well, and was so glad that was the case. I was miserable for my dad, my uncles (two of whom I have, at various times, been quite close to), and especially my aunt. She was the oldest in a family of eight children, six of them boys, and had now lost her only sister. That thought wrenched my heart, and I finally gave way to tears that initially I could not find.

My little Dylan was six months old at the time. When the enormity of what had happened finally started to sink in, I just kept staring at him and thinking, "This is what killed her? The sweet little boy she loved, fed, bathed, cuddled, taught--that's what ended her life. How could that have happened?" And I had a flash. One of those moments where I saw things I could never relay, where seconds felt like hours and I came to a realization that I shall never forget: I am absolutely certain that my aunt still loves her son. This inexplicable act (he still has spoken to no one) cut him off from her presence--maybe forever--but it did not remove him from her heart. Most of my family was and is very, very angry (how could they not be?), but I have to hold out some hope, however tiny, for Jeremy. Not for his sake, but for his mother's.

I looked at my precious, ebullient two year old and my happy infant and knew, with no shade of doubt, that nothing they could ever do could cause me to stop loving them. That's when I realized, really started to grasp for the first time, just how much our Heavenly Father loves us. Loving someone who has gone astray does not mean finding an excuse for their behavior. It doesn't always mean even trying to understand their behavior. It means that you see what they are robbing themselves of through their poor choices and it breaks your heart. I suddenly realized that just as surely as Christ's is our Father's greatest joy, Lucifer must've been his greatest heartbreak. His name meant "Son of the Morning", implying such tremendous potential. Yet he could think of nothing more grand than his own prestige, and so he fell. He embraced wickedness and now defines it. The Father knew the pain of losing a child--forever--long before the Earth was made, and so he offered His One Perfect Son as a sacrifice so that there could be great hope of regaining those that retained their first estate.

Forgiveness is something we all need, and yet it is something nearly every one of us struggles to give at some point or another. When the sin committed against us is so huge, forgiveness may seem like an insurmountable goal. But through this experience, I came to a new understanding of what forgiveness sometimes means. It doesn't always mean that we trust someone again; forgiveness doesn't necessarily mean that we don't seek just punishment for the wrongs done to us (indeed, sometimes we must). It does not mean calling evil anything but what it is: evil. What is means is to be at peace--forgiveness is letting the anger go and understanding that those who sin against us hurt no one more than themselves, and so we pray for them. We let that little glimmer of hope, no matter how small and how dim, survive. We trust in the infinite, eternal Atonement and He who worked that miracle. We trust that whatever the wrong committed against us, the price for it has been paid by the Savior and so we must forgive (even those who are not sorry) and leave it between that person and the Lord. Forgiveness means being still, and knowing that He is God and will make it right, even if at present we can't possibly see how.

It is tempting when such things happen to blame God, or get angry at Him--many people go that route (or, worse yet, cease to believe He's there at all). But to me my little cotton dishcloth has become a constant reminder that the Lord has paid a terrible price to give us the liberty of agency, and so He will not interfere with our ability to exercise it. And in knowing that, it becomes a reminder to me of the obligation I carry, as one who has taken upon me his name and promised to always remember Him, to use that agency wisely; it is incumbent upon me to follow the example of the one who has bought us with such a heavy price in saying, "Not my will, but Thine be done". For in what other way could I possibly show my gratitude for my freedom to choose than by choosing to obey His perfect will?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I'm not a perfect parent (20 years from now, I can picture my kids reading that while giggling and responding, "No! Really?!"). I make mistakes, daily. Even hourly on some days. But I'll be darned if I'm not trying hard. My biggest flaws are that I tend to lose my patience with my oldest child--oh the drama--and tend to overindulge my middle child. I'm working on those.

One thing I am always sure of, however, is that my kids' needs are met. They are well fed. Keilana has enough cute clothing to satisfy her fashionista tendencies (usually). They are immunized and have regular check ups with their pediatrician. They spend a lot of time playing in the fresh air and sunshine, get lots of attention and affection from their mommy and daddy and have a safe, clean, warm place to sleep at the end of each day.

While there are times when I tell them that they need to entertain themselves for a little bit while I do some writing or read a book or do some chores, their needs always come first. Always. I go without much needed new clothes for sometimes years at a time so that I can do more for them. I go without needed sleep in order to comfort them in the middle of the night. I have put off for more than two years things I would like to do for my house and myself because I had to first pay off unexpected medical bills when my son suddenly got sick and ended up in the hospital for a week. I am not the least bit upset or bitter or even frustrated about that. My baby needed care, so we made sure he got it, whatever the cost and however long it set us back. Because that's our job, and we're just grateful that he's healthy again. We're parents and we made a commitment when we decided to have that child that we would always do all we could to care for him, forever. Not just until he got a job of his own, not just until he turned 18. That child was born in the covenant--ours forever. Ours in joy, and ours in hardship. Our moral stewardship over that child is something we can never walk away from, no matter the cost to us in money, time or heartache. Nor is it something we would ever want to walk away from. We love him more deeply and tenderly than can possibly be expressed in the feeble language of men, and so nothing brings us greater joy than being able to help our child, any and all of our children, in any way possible. They are what we live for.

Consequently, I cannot fathom what could ever possess a parent to tell their child that they can't take care of them, because they have to meet their own needs first. I know a lot of parents who've done it, but I've never understood one of them. Some have done it to small children--and I've watched some of those kids thrive in spite of selfish parents, but I've seen more of them whither away inside. I've seen even more of them do it to adult children. Is a parent less culpable when they turn away from an adult child? Maybe. Are they without responsibility to that child? Certainly not. Theirs in joy, theirs in hardship, forever.

If you tell your child you can't help them out because you can't afford to and then drive away in your German luxury car, its time to take a serious look in your heart and reevaluate your priorities. I may leave this world without ever obtaining much in the way of worldly goods, but if I leave it with a gaggle of happy kids and grandkids around my bed, so much the better. That's what it means to be successful, that's what it is to be happy: to be surrounded by people who love you, people who you love, and know that you have served them as best you could. I don't want my kids to say of me, "I know she loved me the best way she knew how". I want them to remember that they were never a burden to me, but have always, always been only blessings. They each come with their innate strengths and weaknesses, different challenges, but each one is a blessing beyond measure. Parenting is where we have the most opportunities to be the most Christlike--where it is most natural to put someone else first, without regard for ourselves. The one relationship in life where we most often glimpse the tremendous love our Father has for us. His in joy, His in hardship, forever.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Did I mention?

Doug's little brother, Brad, was diagnosed with cancer over the weekend, and had surgery yesterday. Though he has had some complaints about swelling and pain for more than a year, not much was done about it due to his employment and residency circumstances. Fortunately, those circumstances have changed in the last couple of weeks and his health can now be addressed.

The doctor found that the mass was much bigger and farther advanced than he initially thought when he did the first exam last week, but he does think he got it all during the surgery. So, keep Brad in your prayers. Hopefully this is the beginning of the end of the problem, but you never want to put the cart before the horse when you're talking about nasty, whacked out cells on a mission to destroy. Those things have a mind of their own, I tell you. We'll know more after the biopsy on the tumor is complete. Hopefully he's on the road to recovery now.

So you pray for Brad, and I'll pray that the Lord keep me mindful of the fact that he admonished us to, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them which hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you." 'Cause let me tell ya: I ain't feeling it right now. Maybe it would be more appropriate to remind myself that the Lord said, "Vengeance is mine". And, no, I'm not declaring a war on cancer. I don't expect cancer to know any better. Human beings with moral obligations, on the other hand, I expect to do the right thing. And I don't like it when they don't.

Yaya's Visit

My mom came down for a visit this last weekend. It was a quick trip (because of the distance between our house and hers, that's usually the case), but it was fun to see her. She got here late Thursday evening and took off early Sunday morning, so we tried to squeeze in as much as we could. Friday we took her over to McDermont to do the grand tour (and play in the arcade and bounce houses, of course). The last time she was in there, the tree was just a big metal frame and the soccer fields were just big dirt plots, so it was fun to show her the more or less finished project. I cannot believe, however, that I forgot to take her up and show her the slot car track!!! Honestly, for nearly a year that stupid project was Doug's other wife, the vast majority of it he did with his own two hands, and that's the one thing I forget to show off.

After a stop at the street fair to check out the vendors and grab some tacos and tamales for dinner, we headed to Tulare to take the older two munchkins to Where the Wild Things Are. Its one of my mom's favorite books, and was always my favorite as a little kid. It is far and away my kids' favorite book. The stomping, growling, running and swinging through trees that are involved in reading it is one of their favorite things in life. So we were all pretty excited to see it, and we all loved it. Especially Dylan. He was captivated the whole time and there were several big growls and shouts of "Woohoo!!" and wolf howls from his chair during the movie.

Saturday we went over to the coast. We stopped in SLO to grab some fish and chips at Splash Cafe and then drove to Avila Beach and had our lunch out there. We took the kids pumpkin hunting at Avila Farm, and if you have kids and are ever over at the coast I definitely recommend stopping there. There's a sweets/ice cream shop, goats and sheep and ponies and birds to look at and feed, a produce/canned goods store and (this time of year) pumpkin patch. Its great fun. Anyhoo, after picking out some whopping pumpkins (seriously--2 of them together weighed more than 50 pounds), we headed up the coastline to Cayucos and enjoyed the last of the evening sun on the beach and the pier.

The kids love Yaya and Kylie did better with her than I expected--maybe there's something to that early bonding theory, because my uber-attached baby let Yaya take her and walk out of sight of me no problem by half way through the second day (and half the time she still cries when I let someone she sees all the time and knows do that). I've been living a little cut off from the world here the last few months, with Doug working round the clock and me being too mentally depleted from running all over with all three kids by myself to ever make much effort to call or spend time with anyone else, so it was splendid to spend so much time with another adult, especially my mom. Things have been so crazy the last 9 months that it was nice to have a real break--especially since its starting to look like they're only going to get crazier in the next 4-5 months! Poor Doug was in and out the whole time, with work and meetings and whatnot, so maybe on her next trip he and my mom will actually see each other.
Sitting on part of the massive pumpkin pile at Avila Farm.

Feeding some of the greedy goats!

On the swings at Cayucos (using Yaya's hands as targets for their feet)

Upside down and screaming. Ah, Keilana.

This was Dylan's favorite activity of the day, I think
Every time she put him down, he'd yell, "My turn! My turn!"

Right here they're walking, but Yaya, Keilana and Dylan did quite a bit of racing down the pier. At one point, Dylan stopped dead in front of her, bent his legs and demanded, "Your shoulders Yaya!" I think this was because Keilana was winning the race and he figured that Yaya was faster than him. He doesn't like to lose to his sister.

We stopped for ice cream cones. The kids got some blue atrocity that had Pop Rocks, among other things, in it.

Enjoying the last of the evening light on the Cayucos Pier before heading back to the valley.

Monday, October 19, 2009


A few of my favorite recent Dylan moments.

Dylan: "No, I not Dylan"
Me: "Who are you?"
Dylan: "I lil Doug!"

Dylan: stomping around the house and growling
Me: Dylan, what are you doing?
Dylan: I playing rumpus! (Did I mention we saw Where the Wild Things Are on Friday)

Dylan: "A firefighter truck!"
Me: "Its not a firefighter truck, its a fire truck"
Dylan: "No, it firefighter truck."
Me: "No, Dylan, its just a fire truck"
Dylan: "No, the truck not on fire. It for firefighters."
(His logic was indisputable. I gave that one to him).

Dylan (at McDermont and discovering that Doug was nowhere to be found): "Daddy's not home"

Me: Dylan, stop that or I'm gonna spank your behind.
Dylan: Don't you dare.

Stewardship and Selflessness

The scriptures tell us that a man need not run faster than he has strength. We must take care not to use this as a justification for lazy and/or selfish behavior. This is particularly true when it comes to caring for those who fall under our stewardship--morally if not legally.

Because the Savior also told the story of the widow's mite. Often as a parent, you often feel like you wish you could be doing more for your children. Maybe you can. Maybe you just don't see it because it asks to give of your want, rather than your excess. Sometimes, you need to simply give all that you have and just have the faith to trust that the Lord, in seeing your sacrifice, will reward your selflessness by providing for you when your time of need comes.

After all, He had the selflessness and faith to lay down His very life for His friends, in the faith and hope of obtaining something better for all. If He can sacrifice His own life, most of us can probably sacrifice a lot more than we realize or care to admit, if we but exercise the faith to do so.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


My mom's gonna be here tomorrow night. We're taking all the wild things to see Where the Wild Things Are (the top favorite book in our house. Always). Maybe heading to the beach. Possibly going blind from over-exposure to pure awesomeness.


I'm at the computer with the door to my bedroom closed, and no one is pounding on it.


I'm hiding for a few minutes

because I'm afraid if I don't

I might decide on a whim

to send Keilana to a boarding school

or Ginger to a farm.

I'll keep Dylan, though, I suppose.

We have an understanding.

And Kylie.

Because, seriously, she's just a piece of cake.

But the other girls and I--

we're gonna have to work something out.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A little taste. . .

This little lady was a delight, and a real trooper, considering she got sick halfway through our trip. In fact, Daddy got sick before we left, Cheeks got sick while we were there, and Mommy got sick on the way home. So we didn't even do the hike we drove to Utah to do. But we had a great time anyway. More to come.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Almost forgot to mention

Kylie Bear took her first steps today! She was holding onto the TV table and I was kneeling next to here and held my hands out for her to come to me, so she took three big steps right into my arms!!! A little while later I motioned to her when she was holding onto the coffee table and she smiled and took five or six steps to me! It'll be a couple more weeks before she's doing it regularly I imagine, but by Halloween I'll bet she's a pro:)

I can't believe she's going to be 10 months this next Monday. Where does the time go? She's such a delightful little thing. So calm and gentle. Every now and then she starts chatting or hollers at us a bit, but she's mostly very quiet and smiley (or practicing her "Oooohhh" face, or her scrunchy-nosed, squint-eyed face she's so fond of lately). She is affectionate and very attached to both Doug and me. She loves to play with her brother and sister, and is starting to figure out how to "wrestle" with Dylan. I can put pigtails in her hair now and she says "Mama" when she wants me. *Tear* They grow up so fast!!


All the baby stuff I own:
nearly-expired infant car seat
a baby swing
single stroller
double stroller
about 5 toys (rattles, teething rings, musical objects)

All Keilana's toys:
stuffed animals
dress-up clothes (a fair amount)
tea set
4 barbies
a couple of cell phones
some odds and ends Happy Meal-type toys

All Dylan's toys:
several dress-up hats
a couple swords
small bucket of matchbook size cars/trains/planes
small bucket of action figures
5 large cars/trains (size of a shoebox)
half a dozen rubber animals
small toy tool set
small band-in-a box set
wooden blocks
giant Legos

Crawl N Play pop up tent and tunnel

These are literally all the baby items/toys in our house. I was taking inventory this week because for the first time ever, Keilana has told me she doesn't have enough toys. We have never bought our kids lots of "stuff". It started when they were babies. I've never had a "tummy time" mat, a bouncer, a jumperoo, a nursing pillow, a bumbo, or the other thousand things that just about everyone else I know has. Its not that I don't want them--I'm sure they'd be great to have. But the first two babies we were very broke/severely limited on space/about to move, so we bought only essentials (my mom generously picked up the swing for me when she came down for Dylan's birth, and it was a lifesaver! Trying to pack with a 20 month old and an infant is challenging). So by the time I had baby #3, it was like, well, do I really need any of that?

Christmas and birthdays they get a few presents. When we do spend money on them (or at all, frivolously) it is almost always in order to go do something. Keilana has an annual Disneyland pass, for Pete's sake. They have always been perfectly content with the toys they have and the fact that they have a built-in play mate in one another. The first few Christmases, when they were too little to know the difference or care how much they got, we either didn't spend much money, instead focusing on budgeting and growing student loan debt, or spent that money on things for family members or friends. They have wonderful imaginations and are often able to entertain one another for long periods of time with random household objects. One hour they're robots, the next they're bats, and so on and so forth. I didn't see much need for more stuff. I've been meaning to collect more craft supplies, as crafts are one of Keilana's favorite activities and are slowly growing on Dylan.

I thought that I'd squeak by with a few more years before the requests for "stuff" started, but alas, the time has come. So if anyone has ideas for good Christmas presents for a five year old girl, I'm open to suggestions.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Bear with me

Do you ever have one of those days where you just feel like you're done? Just want to pack up and move away and go somewhere new and fresh? Done with relationship tightropes, with misconceptions, over-sensitivity and feeling like you always get it wrong? Done with work hassles, with projects that never seem to end and deadlines that are always too close or too far away? Done with your house and the never-ending list of projects that rarely ever gets started, much less finished? Done with your tattered wardrobe that you're so ready to replace? Done with your little town and its unique and yet all too typical dramas and challenges? Just done? Ready to stop trying and just retreat because it seems like you always end up feeling frustrated and looking stupid/clueless/arrogant/thoughtless/self-righteous/insert-appropriate-adjective-here, even though you know you're very consciously and nearly constantly trying really hard? Just done, done, done and ready to be a hermit or move somewhere far away and not tell anyone where you went?

Sometimes you're having that day, and out of the blue a friend calls you or text messages you. Just wants to hang out. And just that simple act of thoughtful kindness, just taking the kids to the park together and having lunch, reminds you not only of how grateful you are for that friend, but for everyone else in your life. One simple act is sometimes all it takes to remind you why you walk those tightropes, why that's always the right thing to do and ultimately worth it (and why you hope that some day it won't be a tightrope any more). An easy conversation reminds you why that job is so important and why you love it so much. Coming back to your nice, clean house after spending the whole afternoon somewhere else reminds you why you're so grateful to own a home. And passing by some familiar faces on the walk home reminds you that you are lucky and blessed to be a part of your little community, drama and all.

I'd walk any tightrope, work any hours at any job, live in any broken down shack if it means I will always be blessed in return with such marvelous friends.

"I no doubt deserved my enemies, but I don't believe I deserved my friends." ~Walt Whitman