blog

the beginning of goodbyes

May 5, 2019 in family | 0 comments

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.

annesley’s big heart

May 2, 2019 in children, family, homeschooling, language & literature | 0 comments

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.

egg roll in a bowl

Apr 25, 2019 in recipes | Comments Off on egg roll in a bowl

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.

thankful thursdays 4/25

Apr 25, 2019 in thankful thursdays, the hip | Comments Off on thankful thursdays 4/25

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!

thankful thursdays 3/28

Mar 28, 2019 in thankful thursdays | Comments Off on thankful thursdays 3/28

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.

sheva

Mar 27, 2019 in genealogy, the hip | Comments Off on sheva

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.”

thankful & blessed

Jan 31, 2019 in children, family, mothering, thankful thursdays | Comments Off on thankful & blessed

Full heart today. I have made two kinds of delicious soup, cleaned my house, worked on our taxes, sent my kids to the temple, and spent sacred hours with my girl.

Blythe is in labor with our first grandchild. I have been preparing for this day for pretty much her whole life and now it is finally here. During our hard years of me not understanding her or her needs, I didn’t know if she would ever allow me to be at her births. And for me, a doula and childbirth educator who loves being with birthing mamas with my whole soul, that thought was deeply painful. Many mornings I would do a visualization technique where I would picture her in labor and envision our relationship at that future date. Then I would think about what I needed to do in the current time to have a future relationship that would allow me to be at her birth. It was one of the most powerful ways I was able to curb my harsh words and be the mama she needed me to be.

And now that day is here. Right now. And it is glorious.

a bit of mourning and a whole lotta peace

Jan 19, 2019 in the hip | Comments Off on a bit of mourning and a whole lotta peace

This pic came up in my Facebook memories today.

It was taken January 18, 2012, a little over a month before the fateful injury to my hip. One month before the years of pain, injury, seizures, and exhaustion took over my life. There is SO much joy in this pic. At the time I didn’t super love this pic because all I could see was my crooked, yellow teeth. But now? Now I see her vibrant spirit and uncontainable excitement. I see the lack of pain on her face. I see exuberance. I see her and a small part of me wishes I could go back to that girl.

I posted some of my feelings about it on Facebook and received this response from my dear friend, Robin. She has known me since 1996 when Blythe was a wee babe and we have been through many adventures and soul-filling experiences together.

That girl IS great, but that girl hasn’t yet come to know how strong she truly is. That girl was strengthened and led to things, people, tools and gifts that were preparatory for the upcoming chapter of her life. That girl is incredible and trusting; faithful and positive beyond most people’s ability.

She prepared you for who you are now. She got you through those rough days, the unexplainable pain and never ending surprises that pushed you to your threshold. She helped you become the resilient, STRONG warrior woman you are! Love her. Thank her for helping you grow and become the woman you are today. NEVER doubt your abilities and contribution to others and the world at large.

I love you dearly, friend.

Tears. Sobs. Catharsis.

Robin knew just what to say to help me reach deep down inside and shift perspectives. It’s true. I need to thank that girl and thank this girl. This woman who has grown in faith, courage, gentleness, and wisdom is a wonderful person to be. She has more wrinkles. More depth. More weight. More.

And that is good. I’m grateful for both girls. And if giving up this girl is the price I have to pay to go to somehow go back in time and not get injured, not develop seizures, not have to endure the suffering, then it’s not worth it. The lessons I’ve learned are sacred. The person I’ve become is full of her own brand of beautiful.

Thanks Rob. I love you forever and always.

thankful thursdays 1/17/19

Jan 17, 2019 in thankful thursdays | Comments Off on thankful thursdays 1/17/19

This is the last week of our lovely winter break from iFamily and all its attendant responsibilities. I thoroughly enjoy our time with our homeschool group, but I also thoroughly enjoy the weeks between Thanksgiving and the end of January that we do not meet together and have more time to explore and create and let’s be honest, sleep. So, I’ve been savoring it. Reading books I don’t normally have time to read, letting Annes and Fish watch documentaries they have been wanting to watchm but haven’t had time for, and playing lots and lots of games. It has been delightful. It is time to really start getting ready for next week, but right now, I’m still in savoring mode.

  • We have finally found a dentist that will work with us on payments for Richard’s horribly rotten, broken tooth. He is getting it extracted and bone grafts put in on Tuesday. Then we will have to work hard to come up with the money for an implant over the next few months. I’m so hoping the smell of death that has been pouring out of him for two months will be gone and I will be able to sit near him…and kiss him again. And of course, I hope he feels better as well. That is the top priority.
  • I’m thankful for children who love to play games together. As I lie in bed and snuggle with a good book, they are laughing as they play another game together. It is more than music for my ears, it is balm for my soul. Sometimes I join them, sometimes I just listen to them play.
  • I’m so grateful for this talk, Teach Them to Understand by David A. Bednar. I have read and reread it this week in preparation for a discussion I am leading on it tonight and oh, my goodness, I love his message!
  • Keziah’s blinkers on our 20+ year old Subaru haven’t been working for weeks and despite Richard’s best efforts, he has been unable to figure out why. She has almost been hit multiple times because she is unable to signal. Combine that with icy roads and I have been pretty scared for her. All of a sudden they have started working again. We have no idea how or why, but we are sure grateful.
  • We are reading a hilarious book for family read-aloud and it is absolutely wonderful for me to hear my family laughing together. My children are growing up and I never know when a book will be our last read-aloud so I am savoring each one. If you want to a super fun read-aloud, check out Wilderking Trilogy. Book 1, Book 2, Book 3.
  • I have been asked to speak at The Winter Homeschool Conference. I was supposed to speak back in 2015, but I was having so many seizures, couldn’t digest food, and could not stand up for more than a few minutes at a time, so I can cancelled. This year, I am finally able to participate again! WOOT! I’ll be part of a panel discussion on formation of a homeschool group. I am pretty passionate about iFamily’s structure and am excited to share what we have done so that more people can benefit from it.
  • I’ve also been asked to speak at our local homeschool conference in February. My mind has been swirling with ideas of what to share for a few months and I’m finally solid on what the message is that God wants me to share. It is going to be fantabulous!

Life is good. It is full and beautiful and hard and transformative and I’m so, so grateful to be living this life of mine.

thankful thursdays 1/10/19

Jan 10, 2019 in thankful thursdays | Comments Off on thankful thursdays 1/10/19

As I look out the windows at the snow-laden trees, my heart is somehow calmed. It’s kind of the feeling of being under a thick, warm quilt of my grandma’s, cozy and heavy and safe. This morning someone got stuck in our driveway and I was able to pull them out with our Suburban. My heart welled up with gratitude that one, I was able to pull on some snow boots and walk outside and help someone and two, that I had a big, tough Suburban that could do the job. We haven’t always had reliable vehicles, in fact, many times we do not, but right now, on this very snowy morning, my 15 year old Suburban was able to help someone and that my friends is a cause for celebration.

I have been weighed down by a wide variety of stresses lately and at the same time have been filled with so many tender mercies. It is a strange place to be living in both worlds. Today I’m going to focus on the blessings.

  • Our Blythe is 36 weeks pregnant and after some worrisome test results last week, she is doing much, much better today. I can’t even tell you how concerned I have been for my girl and our little grandbaby. It has been a rough week and today I am savoring good test results and soaking in the peace.
  • I started driving this week after months of not. I have only driven twice, but just knowing I can is SO freeing. I often feel like a prisoner in my house when I am dependent on other people to take me where I want to go.
  • I have been having a hard time breathing lately. It seems my vagus nerve is struggling to communicate well with my digestive system and my respiratory system and the result is gagging, choking, aspirating episodes that scare all of us a bit. I have to be very careful to swallow in just the right way and to not laugh at all while I am eating. Last night I had quite a few of these episodes and while I’m not grateful for them, I’m grateful Richard was able to leap out of bed multiple times to help me and that I was able to eventually fall asleep with enough oxygen running through me.
  • Miss Annesley was able to attend the temple for the first time last Friday. My whole soul filled up with joy to see her bright, smiling face as she was baptized for our ancestors. All of my children were in the temple at that same time that night, Blythe and Travis in one temple and the rest of us in another. So much peace.
  • Today Annes and I started reading Anne of Avonlea together. I love reading to my girl and am so grateful she loves it too. Snuggling up under her quilt and reading will always be one of my favorite mothering memories.
  • This is a hard, tender week for me. Six years ago, on January 8th, 2013, I had my first seizure. I’m so, so grateful for the people who helped me that first day and through all the seizures since. While they are much less frequent now that I have been blessed with human mesenchymal cells, they still happen and I still need help. Knowing I have dear friends who have walked this path with me and who continue to stand by my side and carry me literally and figuratively is a blessing without measure. Thank you, each of you, who have carried me.
  • Richard got an eensy, weensy raise this week. It’s his first one in many years. I’m so grateful for the possible extra hundred bucks a month.
  • Keziah started at BYUI this week. I’m proud of her for having the courage to step into an unknown world and try new things. I’m so grateful she has been blessed with amazing jobs and has the funds she needs for her education and other dreams.

We are throwing a onesie painting party for Blythe this weekend and have a houseful of guests coming tomorrow and Saturday, so it is time to clean and get everything ready. So grateful I can do this for my girl.