Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas, world!

December began with the usual excitement and happiness. We put up a fresh tree, decorated the house and put on the Christmas tunes.  I love Christmas and the spirit it gives to our family and the whole world.

I was busy with Christmas shopping when I got in my car and turned on my regular talk radio station.  They were reporting a shooting, 26 people shot dead... in an elementary school.  I couldn't have heard it right. Not an elementary school! Not little children! Babies, really.

I wanted to vomit and had to pull my car off the road to weep and take in what I had just learned.  My mind screamed,  "Is there nothing sacred or holy?  Is there nothing off-limits anymore?" I thought about my own children who go happily to school everyday, feeling secure in their safety and the love of their teachers.  It could have been my children.  In fact, it felt like I had lost my own children. What has our world come to?

There truly is no peace on earth; love has been defeated.

And it was almost Christmas; what a horrible time for a tragedy (as if there is any time appropriate).  Christmas would never be the same to the parents who had looked forward to their children's excitement Christmas morning and thoughtfully chosen gifts to please them.  Every year they must grieve their loss as the rest of the Christian world is gathering their families close to celebrate.

It was too much for my heart to bear. I prayed for peace or comfort or anything to help me understand and process what had happened.

The next day I was playing Christmas songs on the piano as my children sang along.  I couldn't keep my mind away from the deaths in Conneticut.  As the children sang and as I tried to sing along despite the growing tightness in my throat and chest, I became aware of the words coming from my mouth, and I saw an image in my mind of the Savoir, with open arms, welcoming and comforting those little spirits:

"Be near me Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven to live with thee there."

Lyrics from other Christmas songs came to mind:

"In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, to our weakness no stranger"

"Sleep in heavenly peace"

Perhaps it was a blessing, a tender mercy, that this happened at Christmastime?  A few lines from a few Christmas songs won't bring back a child or erase the pain of loss.  Perhaps each year as families mark another year without their little one, their grief will be softened as they find themselves surrounded by lyrics telling of God's love and hope. 

The hope is that God sent his Son, a Savior, to overcome sin and death; to truly offer light and hope to our world. Especially in times of pain, grief and death.  We have never needed His hope and light more than now! Indeed Christmas is triumph:

"Joy to the world, the Lord is come!"

"No more will sin and sorrow reign,
nor thorns infest the ground!
He'll come and make the blessings flow!"

"Chains shall he break..
And in His name all oppression shall cease!"

I sang with the choir in church yesterday and could barely choke out the music as we sang,

"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men!"

The massacre in Connecticut has changed Christmas for me, forever.  I will never mindlessly enjoy the sentiments of the season, or passively celebrate Christ's birth again.  

I celebrate Christ's birth, life, atonement and resurrection more fervently than ever.  I deeply wish you the happiest, hopeful, and Merriest Christmas!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving highlights

It's hard not to feel a bit lonely on Thanksgiving when you aren't with any family. But over the years and many Thanksgivings apart from family, I've learned there are good things I can enjoy. 

Like, having Spouse home for a few days and getting him all to ourselves. 

Like, not having a set schedule.  When the food is ready, it's ready.  No stress.

Like, getting to spend one on one time with each of my kids during the long break from school.

Like, getting all the leftovers to ourselves.

See?  It's not so bad!

We had a pilgrim and a turkey as guests this year.

Some post dinner recreations:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

10 on the 10th

When I think about #1 turning 10 my heart bursts with equal parts of happy and sad.

I'm happy for the unique and wonderful person she is becoming.  She is hungry to learn; always reading something. It's nonfiction just as often as fiction.  She loves the natural world and wants to know about all of it from the cosmos down to the smallest bacteria.  She often calls my dad wanting to know the answer to biological questions that are beyond my scope, like, "How do fungi reproduce?".  

#1 is so earnest in wanting to do right and be truly good.  The standards she sets for herself are higher than the ones I expect of her.  She fasts two meals instead of the one that I suggest. Her definition of modest is stricter than mine.  We have talks about faith and believing and she asks really meaningful questions.   She's not afraid to test her faith by asking God for truth.

It is exciting to see her develop and to see the bright path that her potential offers.

However, I feel sadness when I think how the time has flown by, so slow yet so fast.  This year #1 lost all remnants of baby fat and has turned into a tall, thin, lovely young woman.  She doesn't sit on my lap anymore and her little munchkin voice is long gone.

It's a good sadness.

#1 received a new bike for her birthday.  She immediately took it out for a spin.

Too old for birthday cake. This 10 year old requested apple pie.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Is it too late? Did I miss the acceptable Halloween posting period?

We took full advantage of Halloween this year: we partied all month long!

Our annual family Halloween party is always the first Friday of October.  #3 helped me make the cookies we would decorate. Also on the agenda: "Pop the Ghost" balloon game, a Halloween craft and a viewing of The Nightmare Before Christmas.  (side note: sadly #1 is growing up and in a very kind way suggested that next year maybe we could watch something a little more mature).

I had set out bowls of candy for the cookie decorating, including a bowl of Resse's Pieces.  I had totally forgotten #3's little friend is allergic to peanuts!  Yes, I did.  And he ate one. It was awful. Fortunately he didn't get too sick (read: he didn't die or have to be taken to the hospital).  His mom called the next morning to let me know he was recovered and that he was sad to have missed the rest of the party.

By the way, his mom is still my friend. She hasn't stopped speaking to me. 

As evidenced in my previous post, my children Halloween-partied two more times in Utah with each of their grandmas.

The Friday prior to Halloween we attended yet another Halloween party hosted by a member of our ward.  Her backyard looked amazing: ghosts flying overhead, a haunted graveyard, a roaring fire. Hundred of people were invited and her yard was rockin' with dancing, a haunted house, tons of good food and lots of kids to run around with. 

Someday I will be the cool parent. (This is my mantra).

More Halloween parties at school:

Lastly, Halloween night itself.

Arrg, pirate family!

Pirate #1
Pirate #2

and their pirate cat

It was a great month because my children were excited and happy and loved getting into the Halloween-spirit.  But I was ready to be done.  By 10 am the next morning there wasn't a trace of Halloween left in our house.  (except maybe some candy. Ok, lots of candy).

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Our lovely Fall Break

I joke with my friends that my family never goes anywhere besides Utah.   The truth is that we love going home and will use any excuse to see our families.  Fall break was no exception.  Besides, we had a baby to bless and really wanted family around to make it special.

We blessed #4 on a Saturday at the home of my in-laws.  Almost all of Spouse's family attended and many from mine did too.  It is a blessing to feel love and support! After the blessing we broke out the ice cream and had a build-your-own-sundae party. 

#3, cousin "Jophes" and #2 digging into some of the toppings.

Cinderella baby.  In the commotion of being passed around, she lost a shoe!

My sister in law and my dad swapped back surgery nightmares.

My sweet MIL holding #4



Spouse flew home on Monday and the children and I stayed the week to enjoy a real Autumn.  I know I say it every year, but isn't October glorious?

#3 finding apples in Grandma's yard

One afternoon my mother in law hosted a "Mysterious Pumpkin" party for some of the cousins.  She had fancy dresses for the girls and mysterious capes for the boys and they were all given aliases like, Miss Golden Beauty, Mrs White  and Colonel Mustard.  Then the hunt was on, looking for clues as to where the pumpkin might be hiding.

Mrs White and Miss Golden Beauty

Another day my mother took us to Tooele to visit my grandmother and then onto Provo for a fun afternoon at Hee Haw Farm with cousins.  My lovely grandma is warm and welcoming and I was pleased to introduce her to #4.

At Hee Haw Farm we basked in a golden October afternoon enjoying hayrides, pony rides, a corn maze, petting baby pigs and bunnies and getting lost in a vast tub of corn.

This was an authentic hay ride. No bales of hay to sit on or wooden benches.  Just a bunch of loose hay on a flat bed trailer, pulled by an old farm tractor.  The kids loved it but I was sure the thing was going to fall apart.

#1 loves creatures of all kinds and spent the most time in the petting coral, feeding the goats, sheep and little pigs.

With love, from one ham lover to another.

They don't call it Hee Haw Farm for nothing!

Buster giggled while these little bunnies sucked on his fingers.  He even put up with a little nibbling!

Can you believe all this corn?  Want to guess how much corn we found afterwards in pants, shoes and jackets and various body parts?  Let me just tell you, there was corn in the unmentionables!

I'll let #2 sum up our Fall Break, "I had so much fun, I almost forgot about school!"

For those of you concerned about my mental health, considering that I single-handedly flew home with four children, I survived.  #4 is blessedly a mild tempered and easy baby and we had no diaper emergencies, so overall it was a success.

Monday, September 17, 2012

No baby, no cry

Because we live in a little house we have to improvise sometimes.  This is #4's current sleeping arrangement: a moses basket on top of the toy chest we moved out of the girl's room.  

She loves her little basket and sleeps like a champion, even at night!

You will notice there are two signs taped to the wall and the bottom of the toy chest.  Here is a better look:

"No crying!"

One morning #1 was having an uncharacteristically emotional time, which involved some crying.  This was upsetting to my very sensitive and compassionate #3.  While I was focusing on #1, #3 went to work drawing and distributing these signs throughout the house.  As mentioned above, #3 placed two around #4's bed, as she is the main culprit of the now illicit crying.

Later in the day after having a small meltdown involving tears #3 said, "I don't like those signs anymore."