Thursday, August 28, 2008

Big Kids

Dylan had a well baby check and shots today, and Keilana had her preschool physical about two weeks ago.  As usual, they both handled their shots like pros.  Keilana just sat there and watched the nurse prick her finger for the iron check and then said, "Cool!" when the blood went into the little vial.  Then she watched calmly, if a bit more annoyed, when she stuck the needle into her little forearm for the TB test before asking, "Do I get a treat now?"

Dylan went with me today (no big sister along) for his shots.  He was very cooperative with Dr. Resa, but refused to give the doctor a smile when he was tickled while having his belly examined.  Finally, when Dr. Resa started squeezing his thighs and making jokes at him, Dylan gave in a broke a (small) smile.  Can't let anyone else think that they're in control, after all.  As soon as the doctor left the room, he demanded that I help him put his clothes back on (despite the easier access to his belly button, he just couldn't stand the indignity of being nude, apparently).  The nurse came back in to give him his DTap and Hep A shots.  He laid down on the table like he was asked and I grabbed his hands and leaned over just in case (he's freaky strong).  She gave him the first shot and he stayed still but just went "RRRrrrrr!" with a red face.  The nurse said, "Did something bite you?" and he nodded.  Then she asked, "What was it?" He shrugged and she said, "Was it an ant?"  To which he very bitterly replied, "Yeah."  Then she gave him the second shot and he got red-faced again and shouted, "Hey!"  

But all the was left was to put the second Band-Aid on, and by then he didn't care anymore and tried to ride the 5ft kangaroo outside the door while I paid for the appointment.  He eventually decided that the 5 1/2 foot giraffe was better built for riding.

Anyway, he weighs 34 pounds and measures 34.5 inches, which puts him in about the 12th percentile for height and the 87th for weight.  He is dense!  Not surprising, since he's very strong and not nearly as pudgy as you'd expect from a kid with those kinds of numbers.  Keilana currently measures 42.5 inches and 42 pounds, putting her in the 95th percentile for weight and the 90th for height.  Combine this with the fact that everyone else in her class in Mexican (I'm not kidding, she is the only white child in the classroom), and therefore on average somewhat short, and she looks like an Amazon!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Belly wk 26 and more fountains

So this morning I get a rather rude and impatient message, "When are you posting new belly pics?!" 

"It's only been 2 weeks since I posted the last one," says I. 

"2 weeks is a long time!" says she.

"Well, I'm wearing the same outfit today," says I, "I guess it would be good for comparison."

And since what I should be doing is getting my house in order before all these people come over this evening, what better time to waste time taking, downloading and resizing pictures I don't need?  Hard to tell in the picture, but she's sitting quite low.  While this is nice for my lungs (I can still breathe pretty easily and don't get kicked in my ribs much), it is rather uncomfortable for the rest of me.  I feel quite squished!  At least she's not as busy as Keilana was.  Oy.  That would hurt.  So, baby belly at 26 weeks.  14 weeks til her due date, 15 1/2 til her likely birthday.  The kids and I are getting towards the end of our time at Sweet Briar Fountains, so I took a few more pics to close out the summer.  Its still hot (supposed to be over 100 today), but those days will be ending soon.  Last splash.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Stylin' Dylan

Ok, so if you only know Dylan through my blogs and pictures and have not had the pleasure of interacting with the little ball of strangeness that is our son, I have to explain something:  at the young age of 2 1/2, he already carries himself in a way that casually announces, "Yeah, I'm just cool like that."  His walk is more of a strut.  His confidence and independence are somewhat uncanny (obviously, he got a lot of Doug's genes).  He is. . . .an alternative thinker.  I'm afraid its already quite obvious that he's destined for lifelong weirdness.  But I thought I would share a bit of normal 2 year oldness with all of you--he was very proud of this Davy Crockett hat (hand stitched by Daddy) and Iron Man Burger King toy glasses combo.  I think he looks pretty awesome myself.  That's my little man.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Moments of Peace

The last few months have been messy.  Several people in our life are at a sort of crossroads, unsure of where to go next, or afraid to take a step forward.  It has been difficult to watch people we love remain "stuck", unsure of what we can do to help.  Combine this with several hiccups at McDermont, my fatigue (and occasional days of nausea and headaches still), working nearly every evening and Saturday, pregnancy hormones (curse them!), getting behind in our callings, etc, and you have a recipe for an increased need for peace.

Peace can be elusive, but only if we are seeking it in the wrong places or the wrong manner (which as mortals we are quite prone to doing).  It has often struck me how often in the New Testament the Savior instructs us to be at peace or to "be of good cheer".  This seems like a pretty reasonable request from the Prince of Peace, but the reason it has always stood out to me is that His own earthly tenure was filled with more difficulties and sorrows than we can imagine.  Yet we know that He asks nothing of us that H0e has not done or been, so I must conclude that despite His earthly sorrows and trials, He was at peace and cheerful as He walked this fallen world.  If we look to Him and truly strive to be obedient and humble, peace is easy to find.

Sometimes peace is hardest to come by because our faith is weak.  I think sometimes we confuse hope and faith.  They are intertwined with one another to some degree, but they aren't quite the same thing.  I think sometimes, particularly when we are struggling, we say we have faith that the Lord will provide, that He will direct, that He will bless us, when what we really mean is that we have hope in those things.  Hope is standing in the light--we may not be able to see very far, but we can see where we're standing and the danger in that is that sometimes we can get a bit too comfortable with that limited vision and so we get stuck.  As Elder Bednar so succinctly put it, faith is taking that first step into the dark and trusting that the light will follow.  That can certainly be scary and difficult.  But we have to take that step forward if we want to ever get anywhere, if we ever want to make any progress.  As C.S. Lewis said, "What saves a man is to take a step.  Then another step."

Sometimes I hate taking that step.  Sometimes I have to convince myself to do it because I hate putting my foot forward in the dark not being able to see where it will land.  Doug and I have talked a lot in recent weeks about Nephi's declaration that "I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do."  It wasn't that there wasn't a plan, its that Nephi didn't know what the plan was--the Lord only revealed the plan to him one step at a time, and Nephi just kept having to exercise the faith to take that step.  Most of them were more like leaps--he exercised faith and was in return asked to do difficult things.  But he did it because he trusted the Lord.  Do I have that kind of faith?  Do I exercise that kind of meekness?  Do I possess the courage and strength to do what I should, regardless of the hurdles I must leap to do so?  I certainly don't think so, but it is what I want to develop.

Even when I don't want to, I can usually (even though there's often a lot of hesitation and hemming and hawing first) get myself to take that first step because the Lord has more than delivered on every promise He's made me so far.  I was thinking last Monday how blessed I have been.  From a very young age, one of my strongest and most earnest desires was to have a home where Priesthood authority presided and was actively exercised--to have a husband who could hold my babies in that circle of Priesthood and give them a name, who could bless them when they were sick, who could baptize and confirm them.  I wanted a husband who would take me to the temple.  I wanted a father for my children who would be an active participant in their lives, who would play with them and cuddle them.  As I looked up after Doug finished blessing Keilana, I was overcome with gratitude for the blessings in my life and I was reminded of the Book of Mormon, which tells us many times that the Lord blessed the people for the righteous desires of their hearts.

I have not always been a very valiant servant.  I have not always been the daughter that I ought to be.  I have made and continue to make a lot of mistakes.  I have had many desires in my life that have most certainly not been righteous.  But my husband has blessed both of my babies shortly after their birth.  He married me in the temple and has gone there with my often the last 5 years.  He is attentive and playful and affection with our children.  Keilana has twice been healed by the Lord through the laying on of his hands, and received her first Father's Blessing to start school.  For the small amount of obedience and faith I have managed to exercise, the Lord has blessed me with an undeserved abundance.  I can only imagine what blessings he could pour out if I could more often set aside my pride or stubbornness be as happy as he made me to be.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Contact Moment

Last night we had another training for McDermont.  I guess maybe it would be more accurate to call it a regrouping.  It was sort of a mid-race pick me up.   Louie Gravance is back in town.  He's a consultant who has been on board for much of the project.  He's worked for the Walt Disney company for years and now has his own very successful consulting and public speaking firm.  Having know him myself for about a year now, and having seen and heard through Doug what he's done, I know he's worth every single penny.

Louie is an interesting man to me.  He's very intelligent, talented and dynamic.  Though he could live quite well off his private business, he still works at Walt Disney world, being all these silly characters and putting on all kinds of goofy shows.  He does it because he has found true joy in life in serving others.  Oh sure, not exactly in the traditional sense that we tend to think of "service" in the Church, but that is what he does.  He finds joy in making other people happy, in helping to create moments of joy for them that they'll remember their whole lives.

Still, putting on a show everyday, no matter how noble your intentions, is hard for anybody.  There are days when you're hot and/or tired and/or have a thousand other things on your mind and/or just plain don't want to be at work today.  So what Louie does is he remembers what he calls "contact moments" to remind him why he's there and what he's willing to be.  Those moments when he lit up a little kid's face, or connected with a grateful parent, and so on and so forth.  Last night, he asked each of us to identify at least one contact moment at McDermont to rely on to remind us what we're willing to be.

Its been a rough couple of months.  Because this is such a huge project and because there are so many other big projects going on at the same time, things keep getting pushed back.  Originally, our Grand Opening was scheduled for June 21.  It was a big weekend, with lots of press and VIP events, etc., but it was no grand opening.  The third building (the bulk of the facility) was nowhere near complete.  The Flowrider opened very, very successfully on August 1st only to be shut down by OSHA 3 hours in because we failed to apply for a permit we didn't know we needed.  We wanted everything to be done for Labor Day, then for Halloween.  We're now hoping it will all be complete by Christmas.   Everyone's ready and anxious to put on a show, but we still seldom have an audience because of all the delays.  Everyone is getting impatient, exasperated at times with all the understandable questions from fans.  No one knows all the frustration and tension better than Doug, Brad, Clint, Scot and Louie.  But they know that the staff feels it, too.  That's why right now those contact moments are so important.  They hold us over and get us there--the first downs we can reach before we're ready for a touchdown.

I've had lots of them.  Many of them have come when I've been giving tours (being so new and all, a lot of times people will come in and just ask if we can show them around).  Somewhere along the line while I'm showing them the building and telling them our story, I'll see that moment where it clicks for them.  This look comes across a person's face when they first begin to grasp the depth and scope of what we're doing, of what it must've taken to get to this point, of what it's still taking, and of what it could mean for Lindsay, the county and the Central Valley.  I love seeing that instant when it starts to come together for someone, and my own wonderment--sometimes lost in the long hours, stressful days, delayed deadlines, frustrating days with coworkers--is renewed again.

But my most important "contact moments" have come when I haven't been at work.  Its when we're driving down the road and Keilana hears an add on the radio and squeals with delight, "They're talking about our McDermont!" or sees an add on television and exclaims, "That's my daddy's Flowrider!"  Its when I walk out the front door and Dylan tries to bolt across the street to McDermont.  He knows and loves it and is always anxious to be there again.  Its watching basketball games from the catwalk in the Red Circle building and remembering carrying my newborn son around that catwalk before it was finished, painted and filled with seats, before the sport court flooring and basketball hoops were there.

When Dylan was born, Doug was showing Mom, who had flown down from Montana, his Sketch Up models of the Red and Green Circle buildings.  A year later, when she flew down for his first birthday, Doug took her around the catwalk, where they were still leveling out the north end of the concrete floor, getting the Lazement painted (it still didn't have any walls or props) and walked her through building B, which was still empty except for a mostly finished front counter.  Now, a year and a half later, we've come so far so fast: we're now running a men's basketball league; have had numerous successful tournaments for basketball, volleyball, and dodgeball; we're running a popular laser tag arena; a great, state-of-the-art arcade; multiple birthday parties and private events every week; have had several concerts (with more on the schedule).  The Flowrider will be open for Labor Day weekend, and the skate park shortly thereafter.

A good chunk of our life revolves around McDermont, and that can be exhausting and frustrating at times.  But I relish the thought that my oldest children's memories will be filled with McDermont.  I take pride in knowing that I will either raise my children here or bring them back when they are older, where they can see the growth and flourishing of this little experiment--dreamed up and risked for by this little group of believers who could see more than most would ever dare imagine.  I look forward to reminding them that Daddy was, in many ways, a huge part of making all of this a reality.  I was there.  We helped build it up.  We've poured endless hours of effort and time and often blood, sweat and tears into this project because we trust that the rewards--not only to us, but to everyone who visits--will be well worth all of it.

Knowing that I will be able to tell my children this story first hand, to help them learn about idealism and risk, about hard work and dedication, about possibilities and opportunities, keeps me grounded.  Outside of Lindsay, so many people in our life don't yet appreciate what is happening here, but I know that someday they will and I'm grateful that my children will be able to smile and say, "My family was a part of this."  

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Reveling in her cuteness

I got to looking at old pictures of Keilana today, and had to share one (I wanted to share about 50, but fortunately for all of you I haven't the time today to be resizing photos all afternoon).  I took this when she was about 13 or 14 months old.  How can you not love something that cute?My young women first found out that I was pregnant while we were at Girl's Camp, and one of them said, "Oh, I'm so excited.  You have the cutest babies."  Another one of them thought for a moment and then added, "You do have really cute babies."  I laughed and said, "Thank you, I do good work."  Now, I maybe just a teensy bit biased, but I do think I have awfully adorable babies and toddlers.  I mean, look at this kid--do you need more evidence than that? :)

Doug gave her a Father's Blessing last night after Family Home Evening to prepare her for starting school, and one of the things that it said was that she would continue to be a good companion and friend for Mommy and help Daddy, help us remember how to be good.  Those phrases really stuck out to me because she's been my little girl, but she's also been my little buddy.  And one of the most precious things about my children to me (and, admittedly, Keilana more than Dylan in some ways) is that they constantly remind me not just what is good, but how to be good.  On the occasion that I lose my patience and get loud, Keilana will say to me, not defiantly, but simply as a reminder of what the rules of the house are, "Mommy, stop yelling at me."  Nothing stops me in my tracks quite so quickly as that gentle reminder from my daughter.  If Doug and I start to argue--or, as is more often the case, get loud because we're excited about something and she thinks we're upset--she'll say, "Stop it!" until we've assured her we're not actually angry or fighting and lower our voices.  

For all her drama and hissy fits, the fact remains that her basic nature is that of a generous and charitable spirit.  She is a natural sharer (despite relatively recent trends with her brother) and is eager to please those she loves and just about anyone else.  She lives by positive reinforcement.  One time she came into the bedroom and asked, "Daddy, how I look?" and when he very goofily said, "Oh, just terrible," she took him seriously, hung her head and walked away crying.  But she recovered quickly and with a great big smile when he scooped her up and explained that he was teasing.  She is easily hurt, but never doubts you for a moment when you say you're sorry and tell her you love her.  

As I looked at pictures of her as a baby and toddler, it finally occurred to me that I'm very excited to be having another little girl!  With my first two, I had definite preferences and got them, but this time, I really didn't care.  Boy or girl--I've got a mostly complete wardrobe for either one, so whatever.  Even when we got the news, I was glad, but no big deal.  But now, looking through pictures and sorting through all the cute little pink and purple clothes, the girly shoes, the frilly dresses, I'm so glad its another girl in this oversized tummy!

School Pic

Yesterday our camera batteries were dead and we forgot to get a shot of Keilana before her first day of school.  So here's a picture of her second day of school.  Not quite the same thing, but you get the basic idea.  She was a little more apprehensive today when we got to school, but was still happy to be there and was good when it was time for me to go.  This morning, Dylan was interrupting her trip up the stairs when I hear her say, "Dylan! Don't! I gotta brush my teeth, I'm gonna be late for school!"  It was cute.  She's getting awfully big--even if its hard to tell since her shirt's too big for her.  But it is a size 7/8, after all.

Monday, August 18, 2008

First day

And so the adventure of public school (due to end sometime in the next 14 years) starts for Keilana.  I woke her up at about 7 this morning (Dylan and Keilana were both still asleep at 7! I can still hardly believe it).  She had some oatmeal, brushed her teeth, got some braids put in her hair and put on a cute little pink shirt and some denim capris.  After we got her brother dressed, Doug and I put them in the stroller and headed for Washington Elementary school (I have a love-hate relationship with where we live.  Sometimes I hate that we're right in the middle of everything and often I love that we're so close to everything).  

When we got there, we briefly met her teacher, "Teacher Lili", as the kids call her.  She found her cubby near the door for her backpack and then washed her hands.  Then she sat down at the table with her cute little name card and used a pencil and paper to write her name.  She actually did pretty well.  She still has a hard time with a lot of lower case letters, so her e's and a's look a little funny, as most 4 year old's do (and she barely got the n in there) but she's definitely got the "K", "i" and "l" down and did write her whole name all by herself.  We read her a couple of books and then she started to play with some of the toys while the rest of the kids got there and got settled in.  When it was time for Doug and I to go, we had to remind her to come give us a hug and a kiss and she rushed through it so she could get back to playing--just the kind of reaction to the classroom I was hoping for.

I picked her up at 11 and she told me they read a book about a boy who's shy at school, that she ate peanut butter and jelly and milk, and that she got to play on the slides and in the little house outside on the playground--where I was informed that there was a frog in a bucket and, with a big giggle, "It was really gross".   By the time I wheeled the stroller onto our front patio, she had also remembered that they sang, "If you're happy and you know it" but that she didn't get to do any drawing today (big sigh).  Her mood was revived when she excitedly told me that they have a rabbit in the classroom.

She really enjoyed herself and is looking forward to going tomorrow.  We'll see how long that continues for.  I think she's going to like it generally, but I'm sure there will be days when she doesn't want to go.  However, due to the long August to June school calendar, there are many days off between now and Christmas, so I don't anticipate too many, "I don't want to go to school" days.  It sounds like her teachers didn't see any of the sullen-faced Keilana that seems to exist in the Primary sphere.  Yay!!   I figured she was ready for school last week when I gave her a nectarine for a snack.  She had only had one a few times before and after a few bites told me, "Mommy, its like a peach and a apple."   I agreed that that was a good way to describe a nectarine and a few moments later she started laughing really hard.  I turned around from what I was doing to ask what was so funny, and she held up her fruit and said, "This looks like a butt!"  Sounds like your typical school-aged child, doesn't it?

Friday, August 15, 2008


So we went in today for the fourth time to try to finish getting Keilana registered for preschool.  This time all the right people were there, so we just had to pick a class and sign a few papers and she's in.  Apparently we do (thankfully) qualify for free preschool (it must be heavily subsidized if it reaches up to our income bracket, but there are some things I'm happy to pay all these massive California taxes for!), so none of the cost will be coming out of our pocket right now.  Her classroom is extremely easy to find (yes, you people from normal sized communities, mock me all you like, but I admit these schools seem quite large to me) and her class is fairly small.  

Right now she's excited, since she saw where her playground is and where her classroom will be.  She goes from 8am to 11am, so that will help her adjust to next year's kindergarten schedule of 8am to 2:30pm.  We could put Dylan in preschool next year when she starts kindergarten, but since his birthday isn't until February, I think we'll wait one more year and only have him do a year of preschool as well.  He can stay home with me and the baby for another year.  The adjustment won't be nearly as big a deal for Mr. Chill.  He isn't shy, he loves new environments and people and could care less that I walk away for three hours.  He's very independent.  And, man, is he going to be trouble!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

For Laura

When I posted the funny faces pictures, Laura asked me when she got to see belly pics, so here ya go. I snapped one when we got home from the doctor today. I figured since its been a month since I said I would post some, its about time. Don't be surprised if another month goes by before I get around to it again. So this is the belly with 16 weeks to go until my due date (and 17 1/2 to 18 to go until the dates my midwife and I have discussed inducing labor!).

I went to the doctor today and was disheartened to learn that I was back up to my pre-pregnancy weight. My midwife said that my uterus is measuring slightly large, so I keep trying to convince myself that the five pound weight gain this month is all Kylie and has nothing to do with all the fun size Reeses I ate this week. I hope that's true (though I doubt it). I must get back on track this week! At any rate, she has a good, strong heartbeat, and is starting to make her presence more distinctly known with harder jabs, though she does still seem to be keeping things pretty low key. Often all I feel all day long are a few little wriggles here and there. So perhaps we have been spared the blessing of another Tigger in our house! We'll see.

I took in the last of Keilana's paperwork for preschool today (she had to have her TB test read this morning), but alas! with school starting at 8am Monday morning, she still isn't registered. Since she didn't have her physical, they didn't put her in a class yet and the woman who does the registration is in a meeting all day today, so I have to go back to the office yet again tomorrow to try to finish up and get her in. I hope we do! She's going to be very disappointed if she doesn't start school until January. She's doing very well the last few weeks. She's started to pick the letter sounds out of the ends of words now, not just the beginning ("carrr and Connerrrrr. . .those are both r's! Rrrrrrrrrr!) and the one hang up she had--that writing and drawing were much more difficult for her than verbals--seems to have suddenly melted away. This week she's drawn me lots of cats and dogs, Captain Jack Sparrow (she had me hold the movie case so she could look at him while she drew, lest she forget some detail) and lots of family pictures. You can tell who's who, because she has them in the right order size-wise. Daddy and I are bigger, but Daddy lacks the round belly with the little baby inside and the mountains of hair. Dylan is small like Keilana, but doesn't have beautiful hair or fancy shoes. She's been writing K's on everything, and coming along nicely with the rest of her letters. Its like a switch in her brain suddenly flipped this week and she's ready! In the mean time Dylan has started to recognize B's and K's the last few weeks. He knows the "K" sound and enjoys repeating it whenever he sees a K anywhere. Oh, every time we pass a Burger King in the car it's "B! k-k-k!" He's started picking up on T this week too.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Unorganized (but probably important) thoughts

I was talking to a dear friend of mine last night about a rather unpleasant exchange she had over the weekend with her father.  Their relationship is strained, to put it politely, and unfortunately that is largely because he is a stubbornly selfish and prideful man.  He is not without his strengths:  in a physical sense, he is a very hard worker, putting in long, hard hours at a physically demanding career;  he is well-studied in the words of scriptures and the writings of modern prophets;  he is quite intelligent.  These strengths, however, have not been enough to save him from his faults--it is ever true of human nature that most other vices or sins can almost always be traced back to the root causes of selfishness or pride.  His unwillingness, it would seem, to confront his own weaknesses in any real meaningful way has certainly hurt his wives, his children and his extended family members and many friends, but has probably hurt no one more than himself.  He is increasingly frustrated and alone--for this, in his stubbornness, he blames others around him for being difficult and defiant.  

His supposed intention in coming to visit his daughter's home was to "try to fix their relationship".  However, it didn't take long for him to start making accusations about her behavior, rather than humbly ask what he could do to make things work better.  He actually told her at one point that it is her responsibility to change in order to make the relationship work because he is old and set in his ways and she is young and still capable of change.  Later he called to apologize, telling her that his intention really was to make things better but "apparently I don't know how".

For someone smart and well read, it is remarkable to me that he doesn't see the conflict in those two statements.  For one thing, it is never too late to change (the exception being, of course, the unpardonable sin, which few people will even have the opportunity, much less the inclination, to commit).   That is the point of the parable of the vineyard workers.  Some came at the break of day and labored til nightfall.  Some came just before the day's work was complete.  All received the same reward.  The statement that he knows that something is wrong, but doesn't know why something's wrong or how to fix it, I believe.  His pattern of behavior would suggest that he truly doesn't know where he is wrong, even if it is glaringly obvious to those around him.  When she told me about his self-pitying, self-defeating statement that "apparently I don't know how", I immediately thought of the book of Ether.  "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.  I give men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me;  for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."  The Lord promises us that if we come before him in humility, with a genuine desire to change, he will show us where and what the problem is, and how to fix it.  Indeed, he will turn that weakness into a strength.  What a marvelous promise that is.

I thought about that a lot last night and this morning, because while unfortunately this man is not the only person I know that suffers from the malady of self-delusion or self-oblivion to this extreme, we all suffer from it to some degree or another.  It is often easier for others to view our faults (or how to fix them) than it is for us to see them ourselves.  We all have times in our lives when things aren't going well or relationships that are difficult and we don't understand why, and it may very well be our fault and we just don't recognize it.  Sometimes a loving family member or friend can see it and is willing to point it out to us--I have had that happen a couple times myself and was grateful that it happened moments when I had been sufficiently humbled to hear the love with which they spoke, rather than the accusation I wanted to hear it as.  But often we must find out by going to our knees and asking the Lord humbly to show us where we're off course and how to change.  And he will.  I know that he will.

This is something I think about a lot when I'm pregnant.  People always ask if I'm excited, as several people have the last few weeks as my belly has gotten rounder, and I am.  I think every expectant mom, whether its her first pregnancy or her eighth, feels a range of emotions from excitement to dread.  Pregnancy, more than any other affect, humbles me.  I begin thinking more carefully about the gift of creating life and the responsibility attached to that privilege--the responsibility to care for a son or daughter of God physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.   I think about all I am expected to teach these little ones and it can seem overwhelming.  Everyone knows that a child learns best by example, and so I become more aware than ever of the areas I'm falling short.  I start to think about whether or not I am going to be the example this child needs to withstand all the trials and temptations that will surely come their way.  I am more aware of times when I sound a bit arrogant or overly self-conscious (two different sides of the same coin--pride).   I am sorrier for moments of inappropriate sarcasm, lightmindedness or flippancy that at other times I probably would think nothing of.  I am keenly aware of wasted time or opportunities--when I engage in meaningless entertainment at times when I could be teaching my children or studying or realize I let a great teaching moment slip by because I wasn't in tune enough to sense it at the moment.

I think of Alma the Younger and the incredible anguish he must have experienced as "I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was. . .racked with all my sins. . .I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments."   That's probably why most of us (certainly those at the most extreme) refuse to make the changes we ought to:  to recognize and know our sins is difficult and painful.  To make a true repentance, we must feel Godly sorrow, which does indeed live up to its name.  That is a hard choice to face.  It is bitter and painful for me in moments when I see what I have lost, and even more so, when I see what my children have lost or how much of their time I have wasted in getting my act together. To know the weight of our sins enough to feel profound sorrow and make a full repentance can be painful and wretched.  But the relief is so sweet, the renewal so joyful.  As Alma continued, "There could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains.  Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy."

We often put off true repentance, true change, because its just too hard, or we just aren't ready or we just don't want to face it.  How much more painful, I must wonder, would it be to not face that sorrow and difficulty here but instead to stand in the presence of God himself and have full knowledge of all our sins?  What would it be like to stand before our maker and realize what we had robbed our spouse or our children of because of our own unwillingness to take a step forward, even when it is difficult to do so?  I pray that the Lord will help me to develop enough humility and strengthen me with enough endurance that I never have to find out.  I suspect that the Lord is more merciful than any of us would guess, but I don't want to take too many chances.  He says that if we are obedient he will welcome us home by saying, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant.  There is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my father."  I hope that I can at least be faithful enough to get an affectionate, "That'll do.  There's a cottage in the back for you."

Monday, August 11, 2008

Her Little Shadows.

I saw this last night on a blog that I frequent, and I loved it, so I thought I'd share it. I don't know the author's name.

I saw a young mother with eyes full of laughter
And five little shadows came following after.
Wherever she moved, they were always right there--
Holding onto her skirts, hanging onto her chair,
Before her, behind her--an adhesive pair.

"Don't you ever get weary as day after day
Your five little tagalongs get in your way?"

She smiled as she shook her pretty young head,
And I'll always remember the words that she said:
"Its good to have shadows that run when you run,
That laugh when you're happy and hum when you hum--
For you only have shadows
When your life's filled with sun."

I just thought that was very sweet.  I love my little shadows--they make me a little crazy now and then, but much more often they make me smile.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Brewing a redhead?

So Doug and I have been talking about the hair color of Baby Girl Clark.  A lot of people have made comments about us having another little strawberry blonde.   It seems that's quite possible.  Our two kids have nearly identical hair color--an uncommon shade of an uncommon color.  Neither Doug nor myself has this hair color.  Even most redheaded families I know (where both parents are themselves redheads) have more shade variation in the color of the kids' hair than we do so far. So it seems to me that to get two in a row of exactly that color indicates that there is a strong preference in our genetic combination for that particular color.

So perhaps little Kylie will have the same strawberry hair as her siblings.  Care to wager any guesses or bets?  Maybe Keilana's nickname of "Strawberry Shortcake" will stick to the little girl after all.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

One of Keilana's favorite activities. . .

is taking funny pictures of ourselves with the camera (although she's getting pretty good with it herself--maybe we oughtta get her one for Christmas).

We took this one a couple of weeks ago (I haven't had time to take a lot of pictures recently, so I just got around to downloading what was on the camera), but its one of my favorites.  I think it captures the general mood of our house quite well! :)

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Preschool Adventure Begins

I went in this morning to sign Keilana up for preschool (which starts two weeks from today--they go to school here from mid-August to mid-June!).  I've got mixed feelings about it.  I had no intention of sending my kids to preschool--I just thought to myself that part of my job as a stay-at-home mom is to prepare my kids for kindergarten. Intellectually and in most ways socially, Keilana is doing just fine without preschool (we could've started her last year if we'd wanted to).  We do counting games and work on letters at home, as well as playing lots of question games so she learns to think and analyze.  She enjoys all that and is already ahead of where she's "supposed" to be at her age.  She socializes with other children several times a week and plays very well with others (with the exception being Clayton, as the two of them play together more like brother and sister--one minute they're best friends, the next they're driving each other absolutely crazy).  When its required of her, she is quite capable of of sitting still and listening for long periods of time, she rarely talks back or whines to anyone but Doug and myself, and is good at committing herself to a given task until its complete.

BUT, she's very shy.  She's VERY attached to me.  And she does not adapt to large changes very quickly.  In the end she always adapts to them well, but slowly.  And kindergarten is 7 hours long here.  I guess a majority of kids are already in daycare (which costs parents money) for most of the day, so sending them to school all day (which is free) probably sounds good to most people.  I don't think Keilana will adjust well, going straight from being home with me all day--wandering to the park, doing our shopping, playing games and going swimming, etc.--to being in a classroom full of 30 unfamiliar kids and an unfamiliar teacher all day.  So we're going to put here in the three hour preschool program to ease her into it.  This should be especially helpful since we will be putting her straight into dual immersion in kindergarten, so that a third of her day will be conducted almost entirely in Spanish.  That's just a whole lot of changes for a 5 year old to make all at once.

The only hitch in this plan is that the free state preschool program has an income cap, and it appears there's a chance we may be just over that cap for a family of four.  I definitely don't want to pay for preschool.  The wonderfully helpful secretary I spoke to while filling out paperwork today told me that they have a few of programs they use that she may qualify for even if she doesn't qualify for free state preschool, so they think we'll still be able to get her in.  We'll see what they say when we take in her paperwork from her physical and TB test next week.  Wish us luck!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Don't follow in my footsteps. . .I run into walls

I have a confession to make.  As much as my self-confidence has grown in the last few years, it still is very unsettling to me when anyone makes a remark about me being a good example for anyone else.  

I always wanna say, "Are you kidding?  Have you met me?!"  I think I'm a decent person and all that, but I don't think that anyone else should be using me as an example or role model--there are much better ones out there! I don't know a whole lot.  I'm only 24 years old, for one thing, but I also haven't ever been as well-studied as I ought to be.  I can be horribly lazy and unmotivated and viciously sarcastic when the mood strikes.  I don't think that that's the kind of person anyone else should be modeling (just ask my children--one of whom is often yelling at the other, "Stop and listen to me! Do you want to sit in the corner?!")  

There are things I am good at, I suppose, but you sure have to gloss over a lot of ugly parts to focus only on those things.  I guess that says a lot about my friends and the people in my life.  The opinion of me that many of them has actually gives them more credit than it does me.  I'm so very blessed to have many people in my life who are willing and able to look past my many faults and love me for the good things.  And on my better days, they make me strive to do better, because I have such love and respect for them that I want to live up to the good thoughts they've chosen to think about me.

I don't know that I can take a lot of credit for the good stuff, though.  My trials in life have not been all that monumental.  My hurdles haven't been very high most of the time.  And the ones that have been more difficult have taught me so much so quickly that I can't hardly complain.  Especially since whenever there have been difficulties, I have had people in my life--even if just one or two individuals, someone--who supported me and filled the need of whatever I lacked, even if I didn't always realize it at the time.  

I'm afraid that I can take the credit myself--and deserve to--for most of my mistakes, sins and faults.  But a good deal of the credit for my strengths and accomplishments must be given to the people who have loved, nurtured and taught me (even when I didn't think it was their obligation to do so) and to a loving Father who has always watched over me closely and provided for me abundantly.  

That's the example we ought to be looking toward.  All of us have individuals in our lives that we look to for examples, whether of certain attributes or of the kind of people we would like to be generally, but I'm not really comfortable being that person for someone else, no matter how young.  There are so many people who are closer to the Exampler than I am, it seems quite foolhardy to think I could be among them.  Nevertheless, I am grateful for the good people in my life that I look to for an example and friendship.  There are so many amazing people in my world that I am privileged to interact with, and do hope to model some of the many strengths and attributes that they have, because I am certainly not of their caliber.  Yet.