Saturday, November 26, 2011


Its hard to know where to even begin with everything I'm grateful for. The list is toooooo long to go over here, so just so you know, what I'm most thankful for every day is

and his animated eyebrows,
off beat world view
strange pockets of knowledge that catch me off guard
simple pleasures
and his current passion for snow pants
and camo boots;

and her disarming smile
and the frequency with which she flashes it,
and her Umphrey dimples
and Umphrey ears
and good-natured sociality;

and her enthusiasm for being alive
her helpfulness with her younger siblings
her love of cold air
and her careful attention to
and understanding of
the things that really matter;

and her constant desire for affection,
her surety that she can ballet dance,
her confidence
and those beautiful blue eyes
that let me look right into her little soul,
'cause she just puts it all out there;

and Hubby,
of whom I have no recent photos,
for the way he pushes me to be better
in a way I'd never push myself
for the way he makes the kids giggle and squeal
when he plays with them
for his desire to raise his family the right way
and his refusal to accept anything less.

I'm so glad that they're all mine,
and that I'm theirs.
And I'm glad that we're all home.

Parting shot

A couple of weeks before we left, the Ashcrafts invited us over to have dinner, watch the Fresno/Boise game and just hang out. It was wonderful to be able to spend some time like that with them one more time. I love this shot--Clint reading to the little girls. Kylie, who was so terribly, painfully shy as a baby and young toddler, was always comfortable in this house, with these people. She let Emily hold her. This was the first place, other than at home, that she dared wander from my side; when she was about 10 months old, still crying incessantly when left anywhere without me and clinging constantly to my side any time we left the house, she happily toddled off to play with other kids or sit with Clint and Emily. Maybe the Ashcrafts are magic--it sometimes felt that way. Humble, kind and so very much fun, they are some of my favorite people, too.

I realized after we left that I have no pictures of myself with the Tree girls, and very few pictures of them at all. Angie Meik and Emily Ashcraft are sisters, my closest friends in California these last few years, and I felt like their adopted little sister. They loved me so well, and I love that their husbands were Doug's closest friends, and we were all so at ease in each other's company. I miss them already. I miss that their youngest girls were Kylie's best friends. I miss Morgan's quiet insight in Sunday School. I miss Cotter's enthusiasm and help with the younger kids. You don't find friends like these very often.

The Joseph Smith quote has come back to me quite often lately:

“How good and glorious it has seemed unto me, to find pure and holy friends, who are faithful, just, and true, and whose hearts fail not; and whose knees are confirmed and do not falter… I hope I shall see [my friends] again, that I may toil for them, and administer to their comfort also. They shall not want a friend while I live; my heart shall love those, and my hands shall toil for those, who love and toil for me, and shall ever be found faithful to my friends."

If only I could get them and Montana all rolled together. . .

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Missing auntie manda already

Last night, we went over to Amanda and Tim's to get both vehicles all lubed/brake-jobbed up before we take off on our crazy long drive, and took all the kids so that they could play together one last time.

Just before we left, Amanda asked Kylie if she could have a kiss. Kylie kissed her, and then let out a heavy sigh, and in a melancholy tone (while wearing her famous pouty face) she said, "I'm moving to Montana." Auntie Amanda comforted her by saying, "I know, sweetie, but I think next spring we're gonna come visit you." Immediately her face brightened up and she asked excitedly, "In Montana?!"

She has no idea what bounty awaits her in the form or aunts and uncles and cousins, but she's gonna miss her best friend "auntie Manda" anyway. I'm grateful my children are so well loved.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Saying goodbye

Our plans have changed about four times in the last week or so, but we're finally set. Mom and Michael will be here sometime Saturday, and the kids and I will take off for Utah with them Sunday morning, arriving in Mission sometime Monday evening.

Today, one of my friends hosted a playdate so that we could spend some time with our wonderful mommy friends. I couldn't think too much about leaving this wonderful group of women or I'd just get sick, so I tried to focus on the fact that I'll be near my sisters again. As I gave hugs and said goodbye, I could tell I would be missed as much as I would miss them--it was a wonderfully miserable feeling. Every time the car turned as it was leaving the driveway, all the kids in it would yell "Bye Kylie!!" again. Finally, she said, "Mommy, they keep saying bye to me!" I told her, "I know, Kylie, that's because we're going to Montana and they're staying in California and we won't see them again for a long time. We're not sure when we'll see them again." Suddenly, her eyes got very big, and in a pathetically sad little voice she said, "But we will miss them!" I responded that we certainly would, and she burst into tears. "But Mommy we will miss them!!" Apparently, what moving meant hadn't sunk in for our littlest one til yesterday. It was a pretty sad moment.

But it all made me feel so grateful once again for having been in this particular place at this particular point in time. Sometimes the Lord helps something special to happen--and even if you know that's the case, the "something special" isn't always what you think it is. For a time, however brief, he brought all these families together, and in many respects we felt like a big family. We relied heavily on each other, and were intertwined the way enmeshed families are, sometimes seeing each other 6 or 7 days a week. We learned to see and cherish one another's strengths and be patient with each other's weaknesses. I think we all learned a little better how and why to see those around us as brothers and sisters, fellow children of a divine Father. We welcomed new family members together--both babies and converts--and helped each other to teach and nurture them while struggling with our own shortcomings. We've learned more Christlike love through the way we have loved and been loved by each other. What lesson could be more important than that?

The Lord gathers his people and he scatters his people. Both are difficult for different reasons, both have their blessings, as well, and I don't pretend to understand all his reasons for doing either. I'm simply grateful to have been a small part of this gathering, to better understand the line, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times". This Thanksgiving as I enjoy dinner with my whole, big, wonderful family, I will also think of my many wonderful friends in California, and truly be filled up with gratitude for the abundance with which the Lord has blessed me.