Friday, July 31, 2009

If I Had My Druthers

I think I'd wear this to the baseball game tonight. Very simple, but much more fun than anything in my closet.


Have I mentioned how much I hate getting dressed?
Have a work thing I'm going to with Doug tonight.
Playing the professional wife role (its a casual thing, fortunately), 
but trying to find something to wear. . . .
So few options.
Even fewer that fit right on any given day.
I should just go buy new clothes.
Especially since my favorite pair of pants ripped along the side seam
a couple of weeks ago.
But there are just so many other things I want to spend money on.
More school clothes for Keilana.
Dylan will need fall clothes desperately when the weather turns cold
(He has exactly 2 pairs of long pants that fit--
one with a hole in the knee--
and no long shirts or coat).
Bunk beds.
Toy boxes.
Potted plants.
Utility shelves.
Planter boxes.
BBQ supplies (so we can actually start using our expensive BBQ).
Maybe I'll just get pregnant.
I have lots of cute maternity clothes.
And then no one notices that I'm fat.
Just smile and say, "Its all baby!" 
and people humor you.
They even think your pudgy self is cute.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Can't leave out the girls. . .

*Sigh*  I love them.  Oh, I love them.

Oh, Dylan

Whatever shall we do with him?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


We went to the coast again last week.  We had to, for work.  Poor us.  So put upon. Pictures forthcoming.

Keilana is recognizing more sight words every day (without much help from me, I'm ashamed to say--been a real slacker lately with this whole teaching and parenting thing), and is sounding words out a little faster now.  She's remembering more combination sounds like "ch" and "sh" and "oo".  I took her swimming in the hotel pool while we were at the beach and the clingy, terrified, stubborn creature that was in the pool with me a week earlier had magically been transformed into a confident, happy "Let me try!" eager 5 year old.  She would jump out away from the steps and swim back.  She needs to get her head above water a little more efficiently to get more air, but other than that she's got the basic mechanics of swimming down now and is happy to try over and over and over and over.  Amazing change!  I'm so glad she's finally swimming.

Dylan seems to have caught on to the concept of "sounding it out" from watching Keilana and I, as he has tried it a few times now (for example, attempting to sound out "compact" in the parking garage at the hotel:) ).  As I mentioned, he's a bit of a freak and knew all his ABC's (recognized all the individual letters and knew the sound they made) by last summer--when he was 2 1/2.  I'm going to make serious efforts to teach him to read this fall when Keilana starts school.  I'll be working extra hard with her, too, since she will be doing her schooling primarily in Spanish and I want her English reading and writing skills to keep pace.  Dylan has been a big helper with the baby lately.  He seems to be more interested in her the longer she's around and now likes to play peek-a-boo and try and get her to follow him up the stairs.

And follow she does!  Kylie has officially hit the menace stage.  She can crawl up the stairs by herself now--a development I'm just thrilled about :(  Particularly since one of her favorite new activities is crawling to the top, giggling and cooing for a few minutes over her accomplishment and then screaming at me to come get her.  This wouldn't be such a problem (with the other two, I'd just leave them there mad a few times and they'd figure out not to go upstairs without me), except that if I don't go get her, one of her siblings will, so she always wins.  She pulls herself to a stand easily on just about anything (including, if she's in the mood, the wall) and this last week or so has started letting go and standing unassisted for 2-5 seconds at a time. I'd be surprised if she isn't walking pretty well by Halloween.  We shall see.  Her personality has blossomed this last couple of weeks, too.  She's more willing to let other people hold her without burying her shy little face, and was even flirting with Beto during Priesthood this week.  So now everyone else is starting to see the smiley, talkative and charming Kylie that we know so well at home.  She hasn't been sleeping well the last couple of weeks, as she is cutting her two front teeth, but the lack of sleep hasn't affected her mood much (other than wanting to be held and carried a lot).

Doug busy as a bee slaving away to finish the slot car track over at McDermont, but its almost there.  That place is really starting to hop, and I'm grateful to finally be able to take advantage of it myself.

School starts in about three weeks, and we'll be sending our oldest child to kindergarten--such a strange thought.  But we're looking forward to this next phase.  Mostly because I know Keilana's going to love it!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Quite a Weekend

So we got the new puppy on Thursday.  We've been looking at dogs for a while--ever since our lives started to slow down for real (in travel time, I mean--nothing else has slowed down at all, I'm afraid!)  We decided to go with a larger breed in hopes that once we make it through the hair-pulling puppy/adolescent phase we'd have a big, lazy dog that would do OK just being taken out to exercise when I'm out and about with the kids.  So far she seems to be a pretty good puppy.  The house training is going really well (she's very, very smart) and she's pretty good about only chewing on her toys.  We even left her with a babysitter already and that went well.  She is beautiful.  Her haunches look just like a St. Bernard, and her face looks about half between a St and a German Shepherd right now, so we'll see how she turns out.  She LOVES Keilana (the feeling is mutual) and so far is very good with the baby.  She seems to understand the difference--meaning that, though she playfully attacks and crawls all over the older kids, she only ever licks or rubs against the baby.

We left Kylie with Mom (Doug's mom) while we drove down to Bakersfield to get the puppy.  I've been so kid-strapped since she came along that there just hasn't been much opportunity to leave her and she's my freaky attached baby.  Anyway, she cried pretty urgently for quite some time after we left, but then she calmed down and actually played happily with Mimi and Papa, talked and gave them some real smiles.  She appears to have inherited my shy gene. :(  By the time we got back she was sound asleep.

Saturday was Doug and I's sixth anniversary, so that afternoon, we left all three kids at Mimi's house (she had volunteered to babysit some time ago, God bless her).  We went out to a late lunch at Red Lobster (which cost us almost nothing, thanks to a gift card), and then did a little shopping with NO CHILDREN.  We wandered Costco for pleasure.  There were a few things we needed and we got them, but mostly we just walked around.  We did the same at PetCo, Tractor Supply and Target.  [Wow, reading that sentence and looking at the list of places we went when we could go anywhere without our kids, I just realized how pathetically dorky we are].  We went out to a movie (something we manage about twice a year on average),  The Proposal, which we both really enjoyed more than we expected I think.  Romantic comedies tend to be either hit or miss on their writing, but this one actually had a fair amount of wit and cleverness, which was a pleasant surprise.  After the movie we picked up Ginger and Kylie (Kylie isn't real great about taking a bottle and has not been sleep-trained yet, so I didn't want to inflict her on Mom all night).

I had to teach Sunday School, but since we only had the baby, Doug and I took off (yes, we skipped third hour, but I don't think it will kill us) and went for a drive.  We drove over Sherman Pass and came down through Johnsondale.  It was about a 7 1/2 hour drive in total (including our few stops).  It was really nice to take a long drive and talk without being interrupted by, "I'm hungry" or "I have to pee!" or "I want to sing Old Mcdonald!" from the backseat every thirty seconds (and Kylie did awesome, being awake and happy or just snoozing pretty much the entire drive).  

Being in the mountains is so relaxing and we were able to talk about a lot of things that have been on both our minds a lot and make sure we were on the same page again.  That was definitely the best part of our weekend.  Yes, we talked the whole time.  There really was no lull in the conversation for 8 hours, we're that chatty.  But between the kids, work, school, church, side jobs, etc., there hasn't been a lot of time for meaningful conversation with each other (which, with our particular personalities, is a huge part of our connection to each other).  There's been so much to deal with the last six months (especially the last two) that we haven't had time to talk about much more than what we had to deal with at the moment.  Not that I ever really forget, but it was nice to be reminded how much I love my husband and why.  I had a few moments the last few months where I felt like someone was trying to say something to find the chinks in our armor, so to speak, and it was actually very reassuring.  I simply couldn't be bothered with it because my trust in him is so complete.  We're completely open and honest with each other and so very comfortable together.  I never cease to be grateful for that.  The specific things we talked about also helped me to realize how far I have come, as an individual, in the last six years.  In many ways, I'm a different person than the person he married (and the same could be said of him).  And I mean that in all the best ways possible.

A couple months ago Doug and I were talking about a mutual acquaintance.  I'd been angry at her and was trying to work through it with him and at one point I stopped and said, "She doesn't have this."   I can't remember a time in my life where I wasn't well-liked by nearly everyone around me.  Paradoxically, I can't remember a time in my life where I have had a lot of friends.  I have had a tendency to feel like an outsider in even places where theoretically I belong and I have a hard time connecting to people.  But I always come back to Doug.  He is my best friend.  At times it feels like he's the only person I am connected to, but he's always there.  Even when I feel like I don't have friends or my family lives on another planet, he's there.  I am grateful for the confidence and trust I have in him and that I can always rely on that.  It makes such a tremendous difference in everything in life to know that there is someone who is always going to be there, that you can trust to forgive your faults while recognizing and appreciating your strengths.  To know there's someone there you can talk to, who understands the way your mind works;  someone who is quick with a joke and who loves you for you, whatever that may mean today.  The world is constantly and increasingly confused about what romance is, what love is, what marriage should be.  By far my greatest blessing in life is sharing my life with someone who understands all those things the same way I do.  Happy anniversary, babe.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Meet Ginger

This is our new puppy, Ginger.
She is half St. Bernard and half German Shepherd.
Daddy is big.
Mommy is pretty good-sized.
She's only 8 weeks old and isn't house-trained, 
chews everything,
and wants to get up on the couch.
So, if you don't hear from me for a few months,
and when you see me again, 
all my hair has been ripped out,
this little lady is why.
Its going to be a long year, 
requiring much discipline and consistency.
But I am so excited.
I love dogs.
Especially big dogs.
And she's going to be a behemoth.
Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dishcloth Thoughts, pt. 2

There is no escaping the fact that my little dishcloth is also a reminder of tremendous heartache--and the lessons we learn from it.

You see, my aunt, who spun and wove all these wonderful little creations, was murdered nearly 3 years ago by my cousin (her only child).  That alone would be enough, but adding insult to injury, it was a grisly murder--for no apparent reason or motivation, a well-loved and cared for young man took his own mother's life in a brutal fashion. The grieving process for such a loss is a little different than a traditional grieving period.  The denial lasts longer, because you simply can't fathom that something like this could happen in  your family; the anger is deeper and hotter, because there is very much someone to blame; and there's a doubt and uncertainty that tends to linger even after the worst of the pain has begun to dull a bit.  The problem that occurs is this:   you read stories like this in the paper, or see them online or what have you and you think to yourself, "How horrifying" or "how bizarre", but its never quite real, because nothing like that could ever happen to anyone you know or love.  But then it does.  And suddenly, every heart-wrenching, terrifying thing you've ever read or had any kind of passing thought about is suddenly very realistically possible in your mind.  You think, "If something like this could happen to my family, anything could."  So you spend a lot of time waiting for the other shoe to drop--trying to imagine and thus prepare yourself what could come next.

A little over 10 months after my aunt's untimely death, I had finally started to move past that feeling.  I had finally stopped having nightmares about men in black ski masks taking my children off in the night or about state troopers showing up at my door to tell me about a fiery car wreck.  I had finally started to believe that I needn't worry about some horrid, unforeseen heartbreak just around the corner. I began to trust again that life could go back to normal--that just because something tragic and unfathomable had happened didn't mean that another tragedy was going to happen.  And then a Friday afternoon phone call sunk my heart down into the pit of my stomach as my sister-in-law told me that her little boy had drowned.

For months afterward, I went through a rather dark time.  I tried to keep it to myself, knowing I was needed by several people in my life (and being needed does indeed help me to focus and keep my spirits up), but these two painful events happening so close together was almost more than my mind could process, let alone my heart.  A part of me became very doubting and cynical, often thinking to myself, "What next?"  The nightmares came back.  In quiet moments alone, tears sometimes came almost out of nowhere.

My dad's other sister (who, growing up with five brothers, had lost her only sister), had sent each member of the family one of my aunt's little creations--dishclothes, hats, mittens, etc--so that we would each have something to look at, to hold onto, to remember.  Several months after Conner died, as the weather turned colder and Christmas started approaching, the world around me started focusing on the birth of a little boy who brought the world hope, and I came across my dishcloth while doing some sorting one day.  The enormity of everything that had happened the last year and a half overcame me and my vision blurred.  In a rush of warmth I had not known in months, I was filled with hope and comfort.

Life is messy, painful, brutal and it doesn't always make a lot of sense.  That's how its supposed to be.  We are expected, in this terribly brief testing phase, to improve and grow and learn enough to be well on our way to creating worlds of our own.  How could we ever learn the many lessons we will  need, the strength and fortitude we will need, if we drifted through life as upon a calm spring lake?

All at once, everything good and beautiful in the world came rushing to my  mind.  There were the big things, like my eternal family, forgiveness and redemption.  And all the little things: the peacefulness of a cold, quiet December evening; the remembered beauty of wildflowers in April; the taste of a warm bowl of stew melting away the damp of the chilly fog outside.  In less than a year's time we had lost two family members unexpectedly, and yet had we not also seen three loved ones sealed for time and all eternity to their spouses?  We had welcomed babies into our families.  We had known more love from more friends than at any time since we'd been married.

Life is ugly sometimes, and it is easy to focus on that.  But when I look at my little dishcloth I am reminded that there is also much to hope for.  The Lord offers us an eternal Atonement--He knows that no matter how faithful we are, there are things we can't possibly understand now, in a mortal state.  He knows there are pains that can never fully be healed in this life.  Laura and Conner are gone; that is something we can never forget, something that will always tug at our hearts.  When we look to the Savior, however, we know that there is hope.  Laura has been sealed to her mother and sister and the two brothers who passed on before her.  Conner is well-remembered by an extensive family who will not let him be forgotten.  The pains we suffer here will be assuaged, even if not entirely when we are in this life.  Restitution will be made for our losses.  

We can live our lives in fear and cynicism, waiting for the next tragedy or trial (for they surely will come), or we can fully engage in the present and look with hope to the future, knowing that for all its drudgery and heart-break, the world is still a beautiful place--still a beautiful gift from a loving Father--full of blessings too numerous to count.  My favorite scripture has long been, and long will be, D&C 6:34, 36:  "Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. . .Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It starts

"You know what causes sibling rivalry?  Having more than one kid!"

Last night Doug got home while I was making dinner.  Keilana and Dylan were doing some strange kung-fu-like fighting all over the place, chasing and kicking and giggling.  Kylie was sitting in the middle of the livingroom floor playing contentedly with random odds and ends the other kids had left strewn about.  In other words, pretty typical 5:30ish at our house on a weeknight.

So Doug walks in and Keilana yells, "Daddy!" and runs over to him, and he promptly scoops her up and starts kissing and tickling her.  Kylie watches all of this rather intently (she's a pretty darned big fan of her dad--more than Rosencrantz and Guildenstern here were at that age), and before long she's shrieking at him.  Not crying, not wimpering, not tears.  Yelling.  Annoyed.  Jealous.  She started to crawl toward him and, thinking the whole thing was terribly funny, Doug put Keilana down to see if that would change anything.  Kylie quickly became content and slowed her crawl and sat up.  A few minutes later, he picked Keilana up again and started to play.  Kylie again begins to yell at him and crawl toward him.  So he puts down Keilana, picks up the baby, feeds her a bit of cantaloupe and all is forgiven.  She goes back to playing contentedly on the floor by herself.

Already jealous of attention from daddy?  I can't decide if that's a good sign or a bad sign.  

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Gift of Agency

This is my Sacrament Meeting talk from two weeks ago.  It didn't come out exactly like this, of course (my brain always makes little additions/subtractions or changes as I go that improve it), but this is the substance of what I said.  Thought I'd share.

I have been asked to speak on “The Gift of Agency”. Agency is the freedom to choose for ourselves what we will do, what we will say, where we will go, who we will be. The first time we know of our agency being exercised was before we ever came to this earth. In the pre-mortal existence, our Father discussed with us His plan for His children; to become mortal and to learn and to be tested so that we could, eventually, be perfected like Him. He knew that His children would make mistakes—that we would fall short, and get skinned knees and broken hearts. The laws of God are eternal and just, and so He also knew a price would have to be paid for those mistakes. He knew that to give us agency would inevitably mean that we would be separated from Him and so that an Atonement would be necessary. A loving older brother stepped forward and said with great love and simple humility, “Here am I. Send Me.”  To paraphrase Elder Maxwell, perhaps at no other time in all eternity has so much been offered to so many with so few words. He asked nothing in return, but said to the Father, “The glory be Thine forever.”

There was another son who came forward also. He pledged to bring all of our Father’s children home, so that not one would be lost, but he asked that in order to do it he be able to control all that they did and then receive the glory for their return. Our Father knew that without the ability to choose for ourselves, eternal progression and eventual exaltation would be meaningless—in fact impossible—because we would never be able to learn and improve in the ways necessary to become like Him, and to have what He has. Just as you can show a child how to ride a bike and tell a child how to ride a bike, he's never going to actually learn to balance and move forward until he does it himself, you don’t teach anything at all if you don’t give someone any options, any opportunities. And so Lucifer’s plan was rejected. The wayward spirit balked at this injury to his pride and chose to rebel. He could think of nothing more important than his own power and prestige and so he was cast out forever—forever alone, forever miserable.

There are many lessons for us in this first recorded history. The first I wish to address is the temptation to unwittingly or even consciously follow Lucifer’s prideful example to impose our will on others, to try to control and dominate people in our lives or in some way impede their ability to exercise the agency that they have been given. This temptation probably occurs most often with loved ones, particularly children. When we do it, we tell ourselves that we are correct in our attempt to control someone because we are doing it for their own good. So argued Lucifer, the father of lies. I’m not suggesting by any means that we ought to let children or teenagers run rough shod over us and always do as they please; that would be a monumental disservice to both the child and Heavenly Father, who has entrusted that child to us. But we must take care to stay within the bounds of loving, righteous stewardship and not cross the line into unrighteous dominion. Often it is clear to us where the division lies, but occasionally it is difficult to see where that line is and so we must pray fervently to have the Spirit with us to guide our decisions.

I credit my parents with teaching me how to exercise my agency. While they have their faults, one thing neither one of them can really be accused of is unrighteous dominion. My father is a very intelligent and extremely well-read man. If I had a question, I knew that the odds were very, very good that he knew the answer. Something that often frustrated me as a child, but that now I find myself immensely grateful for as an adult, is that he rarely ever just told me the answer to a question. Frequently, he would answer my question with a question, so that I would have to think about it harder and by so doing perhaps come to the conclusion on my own. If he didn’t think I could get there on my own, rather than telling me the answer he would show me how to find the answer. This is a skill that has served me well in life, in academic endeavors, my relationships with other, and my spiritual development. My mother was also very good at putting the ball in my court, so to speak. I remember when I was a 4th grader, my softball team was going to spend the day at the waterslides and the activity was going to be held on a Sunday. My mom told me she thought I should go to Church, but she would let me decide what to do. Whether it was go to church or go to the waterslides, she wouldn’t impede my decision. All she asked was that I take a few days to think about it and pray about it before I made up my mind. That is just the first example of many, of a pattern of behavior my mom displayed throughout the time I was growing up. Within reasonable limits, my parents not only allowed, but encouraged me to make my own decisions and then to accept responsibility for the consequences of those decisions.

Which brings me to the second topic I’d like to address: accountability. Every decision we make, for good or bad, carries with it consequences. Sometimes those consequences are expected and obvious, and other times they are surprising and quite unintended—actually, most decisions have a few results that fall in both categories. It is human nature to want to shift the blame for bad decisions or unfavorable circumstances in our lives onto others. We tell ourselves that we would be different or our life would be different if this person would just stop doing this to us, or if that person would just do this for us. I remember some time ago going to a friend’s web page and seeing a quote at the top that caught my attention. It read, “Failure is no accident”. That made me think of a scripture in Nephi, which says: “Therefore, cheer up your hearts and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life.” Failure is no accident because we are free to choose. Very, very few people consciously choose to fail, but if we are failing, it is undoubtedly due to our own choices—no matter what our families, friends, or enemies have done to us, or failed to do for us—and when we succeed (as individuals and particularly as families), it is because we have chosen the way of eternal life, right here and now. Sometimes we’re allowed to succeed, temporarily, in spite of ourselves. But if we are trying hard to do the right thing and make the right choice, the Lord will not let us fail—at least in any way that matters.

The fact is that others have their agency, too, and so there will be times when we are hurt or wronged by someone else, and we may be tempted to give in to anger or despair, but we must remember that we are agents of choice—we have the power to act, not merely be acted upon. If we blame others for our challenges, disappointments or frustrations, we have no chance to truly improve. Using our agency to make good decisions gives us freedom—it does not preclude difficulties in life or guarantee smooth sailing. But choosing the right, using that precious gift correctly, brings us the freedom of a clear conscience, the freedom to be one with our Redeemer, to more readily and worthily ask for His aid. The Lord gave us agency so that we might choose Him.

Keilana often asks me to sing is “If the Savior Stood Beside Me”. The lyrics ask, “If the Savior stood beside me, would I do the things I do? Would I follow His example and try harder to be true?” Sometimes knowing what the right thing to do is takes careful study and much time listening for the Spirit, but often we would know the answer if we just asked ourselves very honestly, “If the Savior were standing next to me, what would I do?” The Lord gave us the power to choose, but He only gave us that power over ourselves. We must be mindful of the fact that our decisions may have consequences for many people beyond us or even our families, but the truth is we can try all we want to change the actions, attitudes or behaviors of others—and we may even be correct in our judgment that they are wrong. But it doesn’t matter. The only person you can do anything about is you. You will have more good fortune in influencing the behavior of others by following the Savior’s example of turning the other cheek and showing an increase of love and patience than you ever will by trying to convince them they are wrong.

If we sincerely seek the Lord, seek to be obedient, we can and will have peace, even when we are surrounded by tumult or chaos or opposition. He has readily paid the price for all of that, and so if we seek Him, we will find Him and when we find Him we will find peace.
With that, the last topic I would like to address is the Atonement. There is no way to speak about agency without speaking of the Atonement. Other faiths often have a difficult time with Mormon doctrines about salvation because of our heavy emphasis on good works and continual repentance. Often they mistakenly think that we believe men can work out their own salvation and we do not properly appreciate or emphasize the Lord’s Sacrifice on our behalf. They fail to understand that we find the two—faith and works--inseparable. We cannot be saved without the Atonement of Jesus Christ. And the Lord cannot save us in our sins. As Nephi so succinctly put it, “It is by grace we are saved, after all we can do.” The Lord has done the heavy lifting for our salvation, make no mistake about that. But that doesn’t mean we’re off the hook. Quite the contrary—because He has given so much, we are expected to give all that we are capable of giving.

"Jesus Christ entered a garden called Gethsemane, where He overcame sin for us. He took upon Himself our sins. He suffered the penalty of our wrongs. He paid the price of our education. I don't know how He did what He did. I only know that He did and that because He did, you and I may be forgiven of our sins that we may be endowed with His power. Everything depends on that. What then shall we do? We will 'take upon [us] the name of [the] Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given [us]; that [we] may always have his Spirit to be with [us]' (D&C 20:77). Everything depends on that."

As I said, a loving Father knew that to progress we must be able to choose, and that His beloved children, as yet unperfected, were going to fail frequently and the price for those failures must be paid. Christ’s example of love in using His agency for our sake did not end when he said, “Here am I, send me”. It continued throughout His flawless life and cluminated in the act of the Atonement. We must remember that at any point, the Savior could’ve put a stop to what was happening to Him. At every stage of that process, He had the power to say “enough”: to stop the lashing of the whip and the spitting and jeering of the crowd; to stop the long, lonely trek up the hill Golgatha and the pounding of nails through His flesh; to stop the process of His own death. We cannot forget that He chose to endure it. As He said to Pilate, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above. . .I lay down my life, that I may take it up again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again.” The Lord was not forced to endure the brutality of Gesthemane, the humiliation of mock justice or the lonely death upon the cross. He chose to endure it, for us. In order for the Atonement to have efficacy it was absolutely essential that it be voluntary. To right the wrongs of our bad choices a perfect Son offered Himself a sacrifice. We sometimes use the phrase, “free agency”, but I’ve never cared for the use of the word “free”, because it makes it easier to forget what an astounding price has been paid for our liberty to choose.

The importance of agency to the Lord was brought home to me very powerfully some time ago. About three years ago now, my aunt was murdered by my cousin. Losing two family members in such a sudden and dramatic fashion can be difficult on a testimony. When tragedies of this kind befall us, it is not uncommon for people to blame God and become angry with Him. A refrain that I’m sure our Father hears all too often, and which we may be guilty of saying ourselves, is “How could you let this happen?” In the midst of this family tragedy I was reminded that the Lord has paid an unspeakable price to give us the liberty to choose and so He will not interfere with our ability to exercise it--even when His children choose evil. In knowing that it becomes a reminder to me of the heavy 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 precious price in saying, as He did, “Not my will, but Thine be done”—not with defeated compliance, but with grateful obedience. In what other way could I possibly show my gratitude for my freedom to choose than by choosing His perfect will?

C.S. Lewis wrote that “There will be two kinds of people in the end: Those that will say to God ‘Thy will be done’ and those to whom God will say, ‘Thy will be done’.” Sometimes in His love and mercy He will send us stumbling blocks here or there to help us out if we’re headed in the wrong direction, but ultimately the decision is always ours. When we choose obedience, we have the Lord to help us along. When we behave as a willful 4 year old or headstrong teenager refusing to listen to her parents and insisting that we know what we want, more often than not we end up miserable, frustrated and lonely.

Paul wrote to the Galatians, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Through His pain and His blood, Christ sets us free. Yet over and over again we place ourselves in bondage through bad and unwise decisions. How very foolish and how horribly ungrateful! I have often laughed in retrospect at what I thought would make me happy and didn’t. I have often looked back, however, with fond gratitude on times when I followed a prompting (even sometimes begrudgingly) and realized in the long run how very, very happy it made me. We think we know what will make us happy, but the Lord really does know. There is nothing He wants more than for us to be joyful and at peace, but me must come to Him. He has paid that price for our agency—out of love—and so because of love, He will not rob us of the opportunity to use it. It is not enough merely to make a choice; we must make the right choice. Ultimately, we are saved by grace after all we can do, but what we do is up to each one of us.

Friday, July 10, 2009

McDermont Afternoon

We were feeling a little blue this morning due to the very sorry state of the peanut butter supply at our house:
as well as the fact that in central California summer is the time that you have to stay indoors often because of the wretched heat.  But we don't go over to McDermont nearly often enough, so I have a rather copious amount of arcade money saved up on my card, so McDermont this afternoon was the place to be.  We played lots of arcade games, and since Daddy was there all day working on the slot car track, he took a break and did a little Nascar racing with the older kids:
Keilana and Dylan haven't spent much time in the Big House yet, so we went and checked all that out, too.  They watched a game on the first floor soccer field before heading over to the tree:
Kylie loves real grass, so I thought I'd see how she did with the artificial turf.  It was a hit, she loved it!  She was crawling all over the place, content as can be.  Unfortunately, I had to pick her up after a while, because she kept eating the rubber:
(Yes, in the above photo that is my child with the Pebbles hair do and little pink flower.  Don't hate 'cause you ain't).  Keilana and Kylie posed near center field on the 3rd floor soccer field.  If you look hard, behind them you can see (past the cat walks and what not) the huge tree a the other end of the building:

The tree turned out oh-so-cool.  To help you with the size, this thing is five stories tall. There are party rooms (for birthday parties and whatnot) inside the tree.  Next to it is the rock wall, for some excellent climbing.  The soccer logo banner hanging in the foreground is for one of the semi-pro teams that plays here.  Doug designed the logo (well, and the tree, since I'm mentioning it).  He's so talented!!
Dylan and Keilana both love the bounce houses.  We spent about 2 1/2 hours over there today, and nearly an hour and a half of that was spent at bounce houses.  This is Dylan's favorite, the Lightening McQueen slide:
Keilana checks out the waterfall that comes down the side of the rock wall.  She is still undecided about climbing it.  She was absolutely fearless until her 2nd birthday, but then her peripheral nervous system finally kicked in and she realized that the world can be painful.  Ever since then she's been a bit of a wimp. :)  
Someday I'll go over when my hands aren't already totally full and take a real camera, perhaps do a McDermont tour on my blog.  But for now, iPhone shots will have to do :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Locks of Love

So, there aren't many physical features I care for much about myself.  I can pick apart just about everyone of my own features until I'm in tears if the mood is right.  But God did bless me with one beauty: thick, healthy, shiny, beautiful hair that grows pretty quickly.  And it so happens that the one physical gift I was given is something I can share with others.  How cool is that?  Fortunately, my little girl seems to have inherited my hair genes, so she joined me in donating her locks to locks of love, where they will be used to make wigs for little girls who have cancer and have lost their own hair to chemotherapy.  This is the third time I've done it in the last 4 1/2 years, totaling somewhere around 5 1/2 feet of hair.  And I got a great haircut that will fare much better in the CA heat out of it!

Keilana and I holding our donations.  I didn't measure them this time.

Keilana's awesome new haircut.  Doesn't she just look like a doll?

The shortest haircut I've had since I was 8! Love it!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Becky Theorizes

So I've decided that in the premortal existence you don't have to be built like Mary Lou Retton to be a gymnast.  Instead, you are divided into weight classes, like boxing: lightweight gymnasts, welter weight gymnasts and, of course, heavy weight.  And Kylie was apparently a heavy weight gymnast before landing here.

This child, ugh.  Don't get me wrong, she's a delight.  I wouldn't dare say any one of my children was a favorite, but she'd definitely be in the running if I did.  But oy vey, girl, slow down.  She was "sitting up" for several seconds at a time and rolling from her back to her tummy at 3 months;  she was sitting up solidly (including catching herself with her ab muscles when she started to tip) at 4 months;  she was crawling by 6 months, including getting herself from her tummy to sitting up without assistance;  she hasn't hit seven months yet, but for the last two weeks she's been pulling herself to a stand on everything in sight (including, a couple of times, just the wall, with no fixtures of any kind to grab onto);  and a few days ago she got up the first stair without assistance.  Tonight she very intentionally and very carefully backed herself off the couch onto the floor--and onto her feet.  Then she smiled with pride and cooed to me about her accomplishment.

This is all well and good, I suppose. I'm grateful that she's healthy, strong and very curious.  But seriously, I think some wires got crossed somewhere.  I know so many mothers who anxiously await those moments when baby first crawls, stands, walks.  Mothers who burst with glee when those moments arrive sooner than anticipated.  I, on the other hand, am that mom who would genuinely love it if her babies just kind of hung out and laxadaisically, sort of, kind of started crawling around 8 or 9 months;  I would love to have a baby that would casually start to attempt walking on their own at 13 months or so.  Yet I keep getting these 6 month crawlers, 9.5 month walkers, and just generally busy little nuisances!  

I know its a silly thing to complain about (and if you're one of those moms that just wished your babies would crawl early, I apologize), and I do love my kids just as they are, but sometimes I wish I had a little more time before I started having to constantly trail my husband and other kids to make sure they haven't left anything that's likely to choke the baby lying around;  a little more time before I started finding little half-eaten crackers and slobbery, gnawed on carrots everywhere;  a little more time before my baby turned into a kid.  *sigh*

She does look awfully cute standing up in her crib, though. . . . . . . . . . . .

Monday, July 6, 2009

4th of July

Good time was had by all.  Happy Independence Day everyone!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


1. Baby Stuff
Having now had three babies in what (by American standards) might be called a bit of a "minimalist" style, the cool things I want to get the next time I get pregnant:

*a boppy
*a jumperoo
*a super nice electric pump (seriously, I breastfeed exclusively in about the truest sense--Dylan only ever had a bottle about a dozen times, and Kylie's only had 3 or 4, why don't I have one of these already?)
*nursing bras (OK, so I had nursing bras with Dylan, but its one of those things I kept putting off shopping for, so here I am with my sixth month old and still nursing with my regular bras)
*crib mobile
*a new carseat (the plastic on mine has obvious weak spots now)
*a bigger car

And then, the things I will spend money on some day.  Probably after my house is mostly paid for and I no longer feel like I constantly smell like peanut butter:

*adorable, feminine clothing (that will not be covered with jelly spots and little sticky finger prints)
*inexpensive, fun, funky jewelry
*home decor (a la the list of paintings I'd like for my home, not one of which I'm going to get a framed print of for less than $250-$300)
*child-free vacations to locales that require a passport
*child-free vacation anywhere
*weekly date nights
*camera lenses
*bi-annual hair salon trips
*weekly professional massages
*ridiculously expensive presents for my grandchildren (if you hadn't already caught on, this is a long-term list)
*a trip to Italy with my mom and sisters to Pam's B&B. . .maybe a few side trips in Scotland and Paris

That's the bulk of it.  Perhaps I'll come back and add more as they come to me. . . . .