the beginning of goodbyes

May 5, 2019 by

My mother’s oldest sister passed away today. She is the first one of the nine siblings to leave us. My heart is a jumble of emotions.

I am happy for her. Really truly happy for her to be out of pain and to be able to spend time with her son, Gary, who passed away as a little boy. I tickled that she gets to be with her mama, by dear, dear grandma, and her father. We have a huge family of people that I know she is reuniting with and big hugs are being shared.

At the same time, there is something about her death I’m just not ready for. For a long time, our family has been a stable, steady force in my life. My aunts and uncles have always been there for me. Have always loved me. Have always listened. My childhood was surrounded by their tender care. We had frequent family gatherings at my grandparents’ home along with nearly constant interaction at our family business. If I ever needed to talk, one of them would listen.

Louise’s passing feels like the entering of a new era. One in which many people I care about are going to leave this sphere. One in which I will miss them fiercely. One in which I will have to figure out how to be a grown up, the grown up. I’m not ready for any of this. Which seems strange to me. I certainly would have thought that I would be fully into adulthood by now. But it just doesn’t feel like it. I am turning 45 on Tuesday and I still feel like a little kid in many ways.

Of my mother’s 38 first cousins, only two of them have passed away and those have both been recent deaths. This generation of relatives has been a force for good in my life and in the world my entire life. The thought of them leaving us takes my breath away. Literally. Gasping. I cannot imagine life here on earth without them.

And I really, really can’t imagine life without my mama. Taking care of her last month during her surgery was beautiful and emotionally gut-wrenching. The pain on her face brought me face to face with her mortality. She could die. She almost did die in the days following her surgery. And some day she will. And I don’t have any idea how I will live without this woman who has taught me how to live with courage and faith and forgiveness.

Several more of my aunts and uncles are in poor health and I don’t know how many more visits I will have with them. I am so not ready for any of this. I’ve never been good at goodbyes. Even temporary ones.

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annesley’s big heart

May 2, 2019 by

I’ve been sick this week with fever, chills, and a deep, painful cough. It has been miserable. I haven’t been able to read to my family.

But my delightful little girl came into bed with me and said, “Mom, you can’t read to us, so I’m going to read to you.” She proceeded to read me a Billy and Blaze book because she loves horses and Loud Emily because she knows it is one of my favorite read-alouds and she said she’d been working on the voices.

Be still, my heart.

This is the power of family-read alouds. She couldn’t bear to let me go to sleep without a story.

I’m so grateful for my Annesley-girl and the joy she spreads far and wide.

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egg roll in a bowl

Apr 25, 2019 by

I first made egg rolls in a bowl last year when Kat introduced the idea to me. Since then I have made them a few times in a few different ways, but haven’t really found my groove with it until tonight. Tonight we made it again and we all decided this version was the best yet. It comes from The Seasoned Mom and is a total winner.

    Egg Rolls in a Bowl

  • 2 lb. Ground Meat – we use Swaggerty’s Natural Sausage.
  • 2 C. Diced Onion
  • 2 TB. Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 2 TB. Rice Vinegar
  • Heaping TB. Minced Garlic – 4 tsp. if you want to be technical.
  • 2 tsp. Ginger Paste
  • 1/2 C. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 2 16 oz. Bags of Coleslaw Mix
  • 1 C. Shredded or Matchstick Carrots
  • 2 TB. Hoisin Sauce
  • 4 Sliced Green Onions
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • Cook sausage or other ground meat. Drain. Return meat to skillet. Add onion, sesame oil, and rice vinegar to the skillet. Stir while cooking for a few minutes until onion is tender. Add garlic, ginger, Bragg’s, hoisin sauce, coleslaw mix, and carrots. Continue stirring while cooking for 5-7 minutes until cabbage is wilted. Remove from heat, stir in the green onions, and season with salt and pepper.

Oh my goodness, so yummy and super fast. I think we had it all done in 20-25 minutes. This one is going to become a staple.

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thankful thursdays 4/25

Apr 25, 2019 by

Glorious day! Banner day! Exactly what my soul needed type of day. The sun is shining, we had a wonderful day homeschooling, a visit with a friend, a one mile bike ride around the (empty) lake, and I made dinner, actually we all made dinner together. Me making dinner is not a consistent, regular occurrence at our home, but really like it when I do. Days like this feed my soul. They remind me of why I do what I do in my mothering and why it is so important to me to be home with them soaking in the hours of my children’s fleeting childhoods.

  • I made it one whole mile on my Elliptigo around the lake on Monday and though my thighs were burning and I had to stop every quarter-mile to rest, I made it! Today I tried again and this time I made it a half-mile before I had to stop and rest. I’m so grateful to be able to start building muscles, for the equipment to do it, and for children that load all the stuff up and ride along with me very slowly so if I have fall off my bike or have a seizure, I won’t be alone.
  • Yesterday was our last day of iFamily for the year. While I was more than ready to be done teaching my three classes and all the prep work that they entail, my heart was chock-full of joy to see my Math Alive and GRIT students on fire about what we have been learning. My math students built AMAZING catapults for our catapult contest and my GRIT students have totally taken the growth mindset lessons to heart and made changes in their approach to life. Mentoring students feeds me. Seeing the impact my influence has in their lives electrifies my soul. The cherry on top is our amazing community. We have loved and served each other for so long that the result is a love beyond words.
  • Fisher has been giggling during math. Not that he enjoys it, but because it is his new coping mechanism. I’ll take giggling over grumpiness every day.
  • Our Keziah girl was given a huge blessing this week to have her track at college switched to Fall/Winter instead of Winter/Spring. This will enable her to get more credits in before next year and will allow her to come on more of our summer adventures. WAHOO!
  • Our oldest has been sick this week, which meant I had some precious hours with our grandson. This baby, oh my, he has my heart.
  • Laughter. Healing this knee and dealing with piles of big decisions, my mom’s recent surgery and subsequent blood clots, long days, full schedules, and very little down time over the past few months has about done me in. But laughter, dark chocolate, and read-alouds with our family have got me through the hard days weeks.

Now it’s time to play our new math games!

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thankful thursdays 3/28

Mar 28, 2019 by

After several days in a row of overcast skies, there is a bit of blue shining through this afternoon and something about blue skies lifts my spirits and helps me fill right up with gratitude.

  • Keziah is off on a babysitting job for five days so I get to take over her usual duties here, which means a lot of driving for me. There have been months (years, really!) where I have been unable to drive because of various injuries and it is SO wonderful to be able to do this for my family right now. My knee doesn’t enjoy it, but I CAN do it and that is quite magical.
  • Last night I won a painting from my favorite artist! Jenny Loughmiller of the Hundred Hearts Project is taking her family on a 500 mile journey on the Camino trail in Spain. As part of her project, she is selling 100 paintings over 100 days to earn money for their seven week adventure. Every day she posts one painting and the first person to comment “sold” gets the painting. I have tried and tried and tried to win the race, but I have missed out by seconds every single time. Last night, by some miracle, NOT A SINGLE PERSON had commented on the post by 36 mintues AFTER she had posted it. This just doesn’t happen. All the paintings have been sold within seconds of her posting. But last night, on her 88th painting, 36 minutes after the post went up, I commented and won! Isn’t it lovely?

  • My mama is ALIVE. She has had a rough few weeks with a hiatal hernia repair back on March 11 and then a few days after the surgery, her oxygen saturation was down to 70% and it was discovered she had formed blood clots that had passed through her heart and into her lungs. This is the second clotting episode she has had in the past two years and is also what her father died of when I was 18, so my heart has been all mama bear trying to protect her.
  • Red quinoa chips. Yummmm.
  • I get to speak at an event this weekend on Growing Grit and I am silly excited to share my message about strengthening families, building resilience, and finding courage. It is going to be AWESOME!
  • Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman is now on Amazon Prime and I decided it was high time Annesley learn all about this brave, inspiring woman. About once a week we snuggle up and watch an episode. I’m so grateful to be able to share this story with her! Dr. Quinn, Sully, and cuddling with my girl all at the same time? Yes, please!
  • Fisher is taking a fly-tying class right now and I am SO happy for him and grateful he has this opportunity. He has long been obsessed with bugs and now he gets to put his amazing observational skills to use and make fake bugs to catch fish. He has big smiles every time he talks about it and I love to see all the smiles I can on that boy of mine.

I’m so grateful to be alive at this time and to able to mother my children. The last six weeks since I went to Mexico for stem cell treatments have been really hard, incredibly busy, and full of heartaches and heaviness, but I feel myself pulling out of it and soaking in the small, ordinary moments of joy that come each day.

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sheva

Mar 27, 2019 by

Seven blessed years have passed since March 27, 2012 when Jessica’s father laid his hands upon my head and gave me a priesthood blessing in which God asked me to find my ancestors and do their temple work.

This day is beautifully sacred to me. I feel wrapped up in a warm blanket of my Father’s love and find myself smiling on the outside and rejoicing on the inside.

On the original March 27, I had no idea what lay in front of me. I could not imagine the pain and heartache and grief and seizures and injuries that were coming, nor could I envision the love, miracles, and mountains of JOY that would surround me. All I knew was I couldn’t walk and was in extreme pain. I wanted to be fixed. I wanted to be healed and I knew, just know, that I could and would be. My heart was open wide for a miracle.

And I got one.

Just not the one I wanted.

Instead my kind, wise, glorious Heavenly Father has poured out a miracle that is completely incomprehensible to me even still today. He asked me to find my ancestors and through that process my heart has healed in the most tender of ways. My capacity to love and sacrifice and obey has increased. My ancestors have walked this path of pain and injury with me – they have carried the pain, protected me from injury, and comforted me on dark, lonely nights when I was not sure I could continue to fight the battle that Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome has handed me.

On top of those miracles, He has provided a way for me to receive life-saving and life-giving stem cells. These cells have given me a chance to live a normal life. They have dramatically decreased my seizures and injuries and have given me hope for the future. Oh my goodness, tears of gratitude and joy just thinking about it.

Today I am basking in His peace. His love. His tender, personal care. He has kept His promises to me and I have kept mine to Him…a beautiful sheva.

On Saturday a group of friends and family will go to the temple with us to commemorate these past seven years by doing sealings for my ancestors. There are no words to express my gratitude for the privilege I have had to spend the last seven years falling in love with my ancestors and providing a way for them to make covenants with God and be sealed together as families. What a glorious journey!

p.s. Sheva is the number seven in Hebrew and it encompasses the ideas of promise, covenant, oath. One of our daughter’s middle names is Elisheva which means “my God keeps His promises.”

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