Monday, April 24, 2017

We're Twins

"We're twins...and so we love each other more than other people." Louisa May Alcott, Little Men

Branson has a very tender heart. He can tease like there is no tomorrow but he loves like there is no tomorrow too. There has only been one time since Brylee got her back brace that she just crumpled up and cried. It was her first night facing the fact that she was going to have to try and learn to sleep in the thing for the foreseeable future. Scott and I tried to make her as comfortable as possible we hugged her and knelt down beside her bed to pray for her and then we left her room and listened by the door for a bit as she cried into her pillow.

Before I went to bed I walked toward her room for one last check I got there just in time to see Branson go in and shut the door behind him. I found out later that he had crawled into bed next to her and tried his best to make her comfortable and encourage her.

The next day he went to work with his tools and paint and made her this sweet little set of twins.

Be still my heart.

Ill always be so thankful for the magical, beautiful, wonderful blessing of twins.

General Conference, Easter and all the Rest

I loved General Conference earlier this month. I love the gospel and I am so thankful for the chance to hear counsel from our leaders every 6 months. For family night we discussed the things we want to improve on. Conference resolutions if you will. Read the Book of Mormon before next conference, attend the temple more and study The Living Christ.

And then a few weeks later we got to celebrate Easter. My favorite holiday. I love Holy Week. I love teaching my kids and talking of Christ. The best part is Easter morning when we gather our 5 and share the last bits of the story together...Jesus suffered for our sins and sorrows, died on the cross and rose again on the third day. The first person to ever become a glorified resurrected being and now He can offer the same to us. I love Him. Oh how I love Him.

Through my tears Sunday morning I looked around at my children and felt once again that wonderful burning of the Spirit telling me that its true, that He lives, that He loves us and that because of Him we get to have our families forever, we get to be made whole and we get to become more like He is each day.

A few of my kiddos are dealing with some hard things right now. Poor Brylee is trying to learn to live in her scoliosis brace. For now she is wearing it while she is home and goes without it at school. We are hoping and praying that it will be enough to stop the curvature in her spine. She is a light--that brown haired Brylee girl. And while I know she would never let something like wearing a brace break her or change her happiness I still feel bad for her and I ache to see the pain and discomfort she is in.

A few weeks ago I knelt in prayer for my sweet girl and the words, "I will go before thy face, I will be on your right hand and on your left and my angels round about to bear you up." came to my mind. In my minds eye I thought of unseen angels surrounding my girl. I thought about the words, before your face and on your right and left and round about. Beautiful words from the Savior that felt to me like all the love of Heaven. How could He have said it any more clearly that He will be there with us? That He will be there with our children?  I feel in constant awe of His love and concern for us and of His sacrifice on our behalf. I love my Savior and I love Brylee.

And I sure love my little Easter bunnies in their pink dresses.

After church we had an Easter dinner at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Grandma always plans the best lessons and crafts for the kids and we all had a great time celebrating and being together. Poor Kaden had to go home early to finish up some homework.

Ella got to sing for Grandma Heywood's relief society lesson. She was super nervous but she did a great job.

Kaden went to the lake for the first half of Prom and didn't take any pictures but despite me worrying all day about their safety they all came back alive and they all had a great time. Then this past weekend they finished off with Prom and the zoo. Kaden took his cute friend Avery who will be off to BYU this summer as part of their gymnastics team. So cool. And I sure love all the asking and answering that goes along with high school dances! These teenagers are such a hoot!

A few Sunday's ago Cali asked if she could bring a toy to church and I told her she could. When we got there and sat in our bench this is what she unloaded. Wow! I guess "a toy" turned into a bag full.

The girls loved playing in our kayak one hot Saturday morning.

And now its almost May. Sometimes its a shock how fast time moves and I am just trying my best to enjoy it before these busy, happy, stressful but joyful years before they pass me by.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

We Ride Home Together

“You may not remember the time you let me go first. 
Or the time you dropped back to tell me it wasn't that far to go. Or the time you waited at the crossroads for me to catch up. You may not remember any of those, but I do and this is what I have to say to you: 
Today, no matter what it takes, we ride home together.”  
― Brian AndreasTraveling Light

I seem to be constantly thinking about the sand in the hour glass. Do you know what I mean? What I mean is that my handsome 17 year old is stretching his wings and we are down to just over a year before lift off. I know he'll still be my boy, I know he'll still need his Mom, I know he'll come back and live at home at least for a bit but I also know that things will never quite be the same after he leaves. I'll never really have all 5 "kids" at home again. Even when he comes back and sleeps in his same bed, he'll be a man. A-grown-man. And so I am cherishing my time as a Mother more and more.

Believe me I still have the hard, mundane, draining, exhausting days that I wish would end but when the sand is about to run out on you, it becomes easier to ENJOY even the hard and to relish even the mundane.

I love ANY chance we have to be off of school. And when I say love I mean LOVE. We are ending a glorious 2 week Spring Break and I am still all warm and filled with HAPPY from our time together. I love that a little time off,  well spent, can cast its light on busy, difficult, schedule filled days ahead.

Thank-you Spring, you are my Hero!

We spent half of the first week up in the White Mountains. Playing with friends and cousins, eating junk food and staying up late. The boys and their friend shot, skinned, cooked and ate a real life rabbit and then the next day they did the same with a fish. It was all manly and brave-ish.

The next day Kaden played the organ for our entire church meeting and did a great job!

On Monday the little girls went back to school which created a rare opportunity for me to really focus on the teenagers and plan around them. On Wednesday my friend and I took a whole load of teenagers to the lake. I loved seeing them relax and play and let go of all the homework and responsibility that is creeping (or slamming more like it) into their lives. Carefree days of childhood are so short and so I love when we steal and day and extend the carefree a bit longer.

Thursday Scott and I took the big kids plus one cousin hiking to the Wave Cave. And man I tell you it was a sweet little slice of Heaven day. The desert was at her best. All green and alive and interesting with its twisting unique cactus, absolutely vibrant wild flowers and a sea of steady Saguaros. Plus we nailed it with weather. It was sprinkling and overcast but the sun would break through and let us feel that warm toastyness on our shoulders. IDEAL is what I am trying to say.

I will relive this day for years to come. My strong athletic kids, scaling the mountain beside me and taking it all in from the top was as good as it gets.  Oh happy day! Not to mention this hike rewards you with a chance for some pretty amazing pictures.

I am convinced that the whole world and all the work that God has done from the beginning of time is all there and all exists for FAMILY. God's plan is families. He put us together in these little tribes so we can take care of each other, learn to love others more than our selves and then come home to Him better, wiser and more like He is. I love that we call Him Father, He is a parent and, at least in my experience, I feel closest to Heaven in the painfully hard and yet beautiful role as a Mother. Somehow, as we hiked and climbed and felt our lungs heave and legs burn and looked at all that creation around us- I was filled to past full with love for my children and for my God who allows me the privileged. Forever is the only place long enough for that kind of love and I am so thankful to a Savior who descended below all so that He could reach to us and say,  here, here is forever, its yours. Because of Him we get to hike together, help each other through the hard parts, enjoy the scenery and someday ride home together. And when that day comes, it is becasue of Him that the sand in my hour glass will never run out.

How I love Him for it.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Heavy and the Light

I was so thankful to be able to attend my cousins funeral a few weeks ago. It was sad but the whole service was filled with the Spirit and it was filled with love. I am so thankful for the light of the gospel. I don't feel any confusion or worry when someone I love dies, I am just really grateful for the understanding I have of life after death and progression and eternal families and the Atonement that makes it all possible.

The week of  my cousins death my Aunt asked if I'd write a poem for the funeral program. At first I felt completely worried and sure that I was not the one for the job. Even though we are first cousins, I am several years older and I didn't know him as well as I know some of his siblings. But soon after that thought, came the quiet reassurance that I know the process and I can trust it. I set aside some time to fast, study and pray and then I sat down and waited and listened. In time the words came and the Spirit guided my thoughts and I felt that I had written what The Lord wanted me to. I sent it over to my Aunt and she called with the sweetest, most tender, heart-felt thanks. We cried together and expressed our love for family, for the gospel and for the Savior that makes death only temporary and families eternal. How I love Him and His willingness to be involved in our lives.

Along with the heavy and hard we've also had so many silly little daily things happening and even though they sometimes feel insignificant and not worth writing down, the ordinary stuff of life really is LIFE and so I write!

We had a simple and enjoyable Valentines Day. I made pink pancakes in the morning and set a candle on the table for a "candle light" dinner. It was just grilled cheese and fruit salad but add a candle and your're good!

Branson has been hard at work earning money to buy tools. He especially wants saws and staple guns and other carpentry tools. He has always been my builder and he loves to create. He even went dumpster diving for scrap wood to start some little projects.

He already made me a cool #7 and an Arizona!

Poor Cali has had all kinds of dental problems and had to have a tooth pulled. Good thing the tooth fairy remembered to pay up!

Kaden had a few moles removed! Fun way to spend an afternoon! Ill take it though, my afternoons with Kaden are numbered so I'm just so happy to be with him even if its at the doctor!

Last Saturday I was able to run the Phoenix Half Marathon with my good friend Karlie. Karlie is the best and we spent our training runs over the last few months sharing our best ideas on FHE, parenting, the gospel and mostly the Savior. Karlie always inspires me to study more and learn more and be better. Race day was so fun and I loved the whole experience. I am so thankful for friends like Karlie!

The older I get the more I realize that the good stuff of life is the people you are around. I sure love my people!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Center

I love raising my children. I really do. With all the hard (and there is a whole lot of hard) there is so much joy and so much satisfaction in seeing children become.

Yesterday after I went around straightening and tidying up I looked at my cute little girls room, Brylee's more grown up space across the bathroom and the boys gray and navy room over the landing. I even stopped a minute to admire the room Scott and I share and Grandma Mags quilt that looked so lovely on the bed in the afternoon sun.

And then I thought...this right here is a dream come true. I have everything I ever wanted. Children, a husband with muscles (was a requirement on my 16 year old husband list) and a wonderful little house to care for and clean. I just felt really thankful.

Gratitude is a great cure for sadness and over-whelmed-with-a-million-things-to-do-ness.

Last month we had an awesome experience as we vacationed for a week with Scott's family on the Disney Cruise. We had a great time and made some amazing memories. I came home feeling so so thankful that my kids have had the blessing of growing up with so many sweet cousins. They sure love each other. And I sure love all of them and their parents too!

The week after I got to go on a filed-trip with Ella. It was a hike which is always my favorite kind of filed trip. I loved it! And I loved spending the day with my little Miss Ella Mae.

And Tuesday was my sweet Cali's birthday. She is the Love of our family. She is a low maintenance girl with a lot of determination and grit. I am so glad to be her Mama. I was thinking about her being 6 and how its such a sweet age of transition. She's reading and understanding and growing in so many ways and making that dripping change from baby to kid. But I was also thinking about her birth and what a tender day it was for me. The Spirit was strong and I felt sure that families are Gods plan for His children.

The very next day after celebrating Cali's birthday I got the news that my younger cousin had passed away. His family is heart broken and hurting but I know that they each have that sure foundation of the gospel to see them through. The amount of love for their brother and son that is pouring out from them as they  have faced this challenge is warming the rest of us right up.

It been a long time since I felt THIS much love and gratitude to Heaven for the gift of cousins, and siblings and aunts and grandparents and all the other pieces that make up our families.

How ever imperfect and frustrating our families can sometimes be its still the best way home and they are always the center of life that everything else revolves around.