Monday, November 26, 2012

My Hobbie

I spent Friday evening taking family pictures for my cousin and his family.

Not bad for an amateur if I do say so myself...

Maybe I should start charging??

Friday, November 23, 2012

Birthday Letter-Kaden 13

Dear Kaden,

And just like that, it's here. You are a real life teenager. Handsome. Smart. Fun. Good.

Time is such a funny thing. It steals chubby little cheeks and dimpled hands and gives you back a square jaw and broad, strong shoulders. Oh, I can hardly stand it! But I also love it! You are growing up and you are doing it so beautifully.

What I like about you most at 13 is your testimony. You love your Heavenly Father and I get to see little things in you everyday that prove it. One thing this year, is that you took what I would call "practice fasting" up to full on all-day fasting. I have been amazed at your spiritual strength during  fast Sunday. The ability to teach your soul to be stronger than your body is not easy and you are learning and practicing it at such a young age! I am amazed.

School has been great for you this year. Your teachers love you and they have told me several times how much they enjoy having you. You are an example to others around you and you have taken many opportunities this year to stand up for what is right.  Keep it up! Life will never stop putting you in situations that are hard. When things go wrong, when life is hard, when you don't get what you want, when you are alone and frustrated--that is when you have the best chance to show your Heavenly Father what you are made of. Anyone can do what is right when it's easy--it's when the heat is on that true character shows through. Kaden, your true character is golden, I know it because I have seen it.

Just like the rest of us, there are things that you struggle with. Keep working, keeping praying, keeping putting on the full armor of God to protect you and you will always find yourself on the Lords side. I can remember when you were little and if you couldn't make your letters perfect you didn't even want to try. That part of your personality is still with you! Heavenly Father doesn't expect us to be perfect all at once and it is no secret to Him that we are not. So when you are struggling go to the Lord and to Dad and I, we love you and will help you with anything at anytime.

I know I say this to you often but the scriptures are essential! A few weeks ago we read together about how Ammon served the King before he taught him the gospel and you immediately related that to your Uncle Sam who is serving his mission in New York. Right after Hurricane Sandy, Sam and the other elders in the area, stopped proselyting to serve and help all the people who were affected by the storm. And that Kaden Boy is how the scriptures work! When you read them your mind will be inspired and you will learn important lessons. As long as you use them you will never stop learning and growing in the gospel.

I love so many things about you Kaden! I love how I get daily kisses on the cheek and daily shoulder rubs from you. I love that you cant get enough of Cali. I love that you can get completely absorbed in the things that interest you. You are a thinker and it is awesome to see your mind at work. You love food! You love to try new recipes and eat out at restaurants and talk about favorite desserts--that is so cool! You still love to stay up late and you love a good party. Mostly, I love your kind heart.

Being your Mom is such a gift and I love you more than life its self--even with out those chubby little cheeks.

Happy Birthday my Kadenboy!


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Tender Mercies-Catch Up Edition

Oh boy am I behind. I miss my blog and I cant wait to get my life back next week and start writing again. Our house!! Our house is on her way to finished! We are counting down the hours with blasting excitement. One week from now and we'll make our move! I am not sure when I have ever been more thrilled and relieved and joyful and giddy at the prospect of going home.

A few tender mercies to catch up...

After spending the last two months teetering on the edge of discouragement and tears and frustration,  over all the inconveniences and sorrows that life loves to poor into our laps, I at last feel the warmth of hope starting to shine over me. I have loved the scriptures for as long as I can remember but I tell you what, never more than recently. Instead of spending any available quiet time reading blogs or trying to fit in a lovely little nap, my desperation has nudged me to read instead. The scriptures are a gift that can be opened over and over and I am so thankful for them.

If I could give any advice to a new Mother it would be to have scripture time with your children. Even when they are...lets see...

Standing on their heads.
Fighting with each other.
Making fun of the way someone pronounced a word.
Falling asleep.
Making faces at you when your not looking.
Producing bodily noises in the middle of a verse.
Pretending they are about to wet their pants.
Jumping on the couch.
Slithering off the couch like a snake in an attempt to get away.
Refusing to even come.
Saying "hurry up this is boring" just as you tear up at a really good part.

Even when your husband cant be there, even when you would rather poke your eye out than gather your bunch for reading together, even and especially when you have decided that it isn't working.

It is! After years and years of trying out dozens of scripture time methods we have finally hit pay dirt. 6 am scripture time is my favorite time of the day. Gone (for now) are the days of Scott and I playing rock, paper, scissors,  to see which one was stuck with the dreaded task of scripture time with our monkeys and which one got to put the baby to bed.

A few things that have worked if I may. I decided that scripture time was not reading lesson time. For now there is one reader. ME. No more, "I don't know where I am" or "my part is too long" or 20 second-word-sounding-out stalls. I am the reader, they are the listeners and for now that is what works.

Also, we changed from night to morning. I lost the help of Scott because he leaves so early but lets just say that I am a much better Mother at 6am than I am at 9pm. By nine,  I am just hanging on for dear life. I start morphing into a scary version of myself. Heaven help us it's not pretty. I think the other benefit of the morning is that the kids are more docile. I love how they are all wrapped up in their blankets with their bed heads and bleary eyes sneaking out the top.

My hardest kid to get going is Kaden, so I wake up the others and we all gather around his bed (couch) and read right there.

Yesterday we read a verse about sheep with out a shepherd becoming lost and scattered. I explained and asked them who they thought our shepherd was. They all knew the answer and understood the symbolism and then Branson said,

"Mom, why don't they just build fences?"

It was so cute and gave me the perfect chance to talk about our "fences". Prayer and prophets and scriptures and temples. Be still my heart it was good. Maybe our recent success with the scriptures is even sweeter since all of those "even if's" I listed earlier were frequent realities for a long time. I can sorta laugh at all that monkey business now. Sorta.

Grandma Mag is always a tender mercy for me. During a particularly trying moment a few weeks ago I decided that if I could just get to the temple I would make it. I prayed for a babysitter and then i asked Ella if she could stay with one of my brothers while I left for a while.

A huge fit ensued. I sat on the stairs and thought my plan was just out of reach. Again. With Ella still sobbing and begging me not to leave, I thought of Grandma. I asked her if she wanted to play over with Grandma Mag. She wiped her tears and smiled big so I called Grandma who seemed more than happy to have her over. A few days later we got a thank-you card from Grandma. She did the favor and we got the thank-you. How I love my Grandma Mag.

Kaden Boy is having a birthday this week. When in all the world did this happen? Teenager, I don't get it? He is handsome and smart and fun. I will never, never stop missing my first little baby but I am so excited for everything that's coming. I loved being a teenager and I love being around teenagers and now I will have one of my very own. That's cool.

Last year for thanksgiving the kids and I constructed a huge blessings chain that we hung around the house. Amid all the chaos of life right now (too much to even go into) I told the kids we were postponing the chain until we have a house to hang it in. But that doesn't mean I don't have a long, long list. So thankful for them...

For these.

For this.

And most especially for Him.

Happy Thanksgiving and happy scripture time with your little turkeys!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Baby Fix

So many things I could complain about. Grrrrrrr.



More than 20 years ago I experienced what I think of as my first, "baby love". My 6th brother was born and I was at the prime age for "helping" and loving and learning all about the magic of newborn. I have whimsical memories of my Mom's brown little Indian baby and I fell in love too. I got to bathe that baby everyday before I left for school, I fed him and carried him and as he grew up and I grew up, he would spend the night and come on trips and help me with my own toe headed boy.

Then one day that 6th brother who had grown into a teenager, had an accident. His life was all of a sudden in question. Till that point in my life I had never been so devistated. But we got a miracle.

These past months and really the past two years have been the most trying in my life. So many trials and challenges and difficulties. So many frustrations and heartaches. Some so private that they have never left the inside part of my heart. These rocky years have also been some of the most blessed as well, but I am always looking for tender mercies to take the edge off. I am always trying to see the sunshine after the rain.

Nothing does that for me quite like a newborn.  A new baby lifts my spirits and gives me hope. A few days ago that little Indian baby that I first loved-- became a daddy.

He smells like Heaven. He is divine. I am smitten.

And to add to my joy, I got this text from these two a few weeks ago,

"The ultrasound went great, we got to see the heartbeat, thanks for your prayers."

Nothing like good news and new babies to cheer me up.

Congratulations brothers.

Monday, November 5, 2012


I think November is the best month. At least it could be. November is the amazing weather, gratitude infused month that I became a Mama. I love my Kaden Boy but I am still not totally comfortable with him becoming a real life teenager in a few weeks. I think he'll be great at it--but still.

If I were telling the truth about life right now, I would say that Scott and I are just HANGING ON! Waiting on the house and waiting on this darn election that has taken over Scott's soul. Election season is his "busy" season and by busy I mean working 24/7.  I wish I was exaggerating. The schedule, the driving, the sharing a living space is all taking it's toll on our kiddos and we are ALL ready to be done.  I am craving getting back in to our own place, regrouping and starting fresh. Cant come soon enough!

I did manage to celebrate Halloween with out too much chaos taking over. We combined our pumpkin carving into a regular Sunday dinner at Grandmas. This was genius! One less place to go and one less item on the calender but still a blast.

The big kids can carve their little hearts out all by them selves but Ella...

Opinions, opinions, opinions! She was bossy, bossy bossy. But my ever patient Scott hung in there...

obeyed her every command and produced this in the end...

My hero.

The kids were wonderful and picked simple, easy costumes. By a true Halloween miracle I spent a total of six bucks AND managed to get every ones picture!

Kaden and his "companion".
All of us minus Mr. Election Season.
I learned a few years ago that the trick to enjoying Halloween for me is remembering to see it through their eyes. Kids love Halloween! They don't know about all the work it takes and all the trips to the store, visits to the school, meltdowns from babies that have snuck about 10 too many suckers and eaten them clean through the wrapper. They just want me to be excited about their costume. Really that's it!
I can do that.
Happy Halloween!
P.S. Funny story: Kaden and Chase got a compliment while out trick-or-treating it went like this:
"Oh man boys that's a BAD A#@ costume! Here have some more candy!"
Kaden was so cute when he told me the story he said, "Mom, I guess he doesn't know that Mormons don't believe in cussing."
PSS: Can someone, for the love of blogging, please tell me how to get correct spacing after pictures??  I have been blogging for 5 years and still cant figure it out. When I type up a post it is spaced just fine but when I publish it there is always a HUGE gap after photos. So frustrating!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Lost and Found

Cali got lost yesterday.

It was getting dark and little Cali had followed me out back. I had a stack of frozen hamburger patties in my hand and the grill was already fired up and ready. When I couldn't separate the patties from each other, I ran into the kitchen to get a knife and was back outside in less than thirty seconds. After putting the patties on the grill I called for Cali so that we could go inside.

Where did she go?

I checked all of her favorite places in the yard and then shouted inside to see if she had snuck in when I wasn't looking. After a good check of all the corners in the house I ran back out and this time my heart nearly stopped in my chest because I remembered that earlier in the afternoon, the RV gate had been propped open so that my Dad's cub scouts could come into the yard.

No, please no.

My parents live on a corner and in my mind I could see cars whipping around the edge and not even noticing my toddling little baby. I screamed to the others inside to come and help and then I darted around in every direction trying to spot her.


I started repeating in my head the worst string of words that have ever crossed through my mind,

"She has brown hair and blue eyes and was wearing a black and white striped shirt. She has brown hair and blue eyes and was wearing a black and white striped shirt..."

I was willing the sun to hold off sinking any lower and praying frantic prayers. I saw my Dad coming back from around the corner empty handed and that is when the pulsing in my ears started whooshing so hard that I couldn't keep straight where I had looked and where I hadn't.

My Dad shouted, "get in your car."

So I grabbed my keys and ran for the garage, at this point I was breathing in choppy gasps and the oxygen around me was slipping away. I started to pull out and thought I saw out of the corner of my eye some movement to my right.

I pulled all the way out and at last could see a brown haired baby girl squatting in the gutter near the ally. I left my car in the middle of the street and ran for my life.

I scooped her up and buried my face in her shoulder. She was anxious to show me a piece of trash she had found in the street and made big round eyes and her classic "ooooo" sound, while holding up her treasure, as if to say, "look what I found!"  I just stood there in the middle of the road with her for a few long minutes.

"She is safe, she is safe, she is safe", I forced the words hard into my heart making sure to notice her familiar weight in my arms, her silky skin on my lips and her powdery smell filling my senses.

When the feeling started coming back into my shaking legs, I thanked Heaven and I thanked and I thanked and I thanked.

In those few minutes of horror nothing else mattered. I didn't care about the world around me. The new house disappeared, Scott's job evaporated, our cars and clothes and bank account became non existent, the dinner on the grill charred into black with out a second thought. I would have gladly traded every single comfort in my life for a good outcome. Everything became nothing.

I hated every second of the ordeal but when Cali was safely attached back to my hip I was thankful for the reminder that really--nothing else matters. Everything we work for is really just for them.

I can say with surety that separation is the worst feeling in all the world. Separation from each other or separation from God. As the sun came up this morning and I took a reassuring peek over the crib I was so thankful--over poweringly thankful--for a Savior who gave everything so that no separation is permanent. These can be mine forever. It was a true, "look what I found!" moment. I found deeper certainty and deeper testimony of everything I already knew. I have a loving Savior. He paid the price. He made the way back and the way to forever families possible. How I love Him for it. Today even a little bit more than yesterday.