the perfect dream

Mar 19, 2017 by

Papa: Wake up Annes. It’s time to get ready for church.

Annes: Oh, papa, why did you have to wake me up? I was having a perfect dream in my dream world.

Mama: Come and snuggle with me and tell me all about your perfect dream.

Annes: Well, I had two horses in the back and I built them a place to live and they loved it here. And you passed out, but you didn’t dislocate any of your limbs. And papa had three days off from work, but he made the same amount of money each day as if he had worked the whole day. It was aaaaammmaaaaaaaazzzzzzzing.

Mama: What a lovely dream.

Papa: That IS perfect!

This little girl of mine is so precious to me. She is full of spunk and joy and courage. She has grown up with my dislocating, passing out body, and wants to fix it. She often snuggles up with me and says “Mama, I wish your body worked better so you could play baseball with me.” or “Mama, do you think you will ever be all better so you don’t pass out and shake any more?” or “Mama, I don’t like watching you shake, it scares me.” She has had to face big stuff in her short life. She is often the one with me when an episode starts and calls her papa to let him know I am passed out again. She hears us talking about money and jobs and the frustration of the whole situation. Her dream world is trying to make sense of it all.

Mine too, baby, mine too.

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bfg

Feb 11, 2017 by

Last night we watched The BFG. With the dirth of good family movies available at Redbox last night, I decided the only one that looked worth our time was The BFG, so I broke my cardinal rule of requiring my family members to read the book before watching the movie. I have such fond memories of the book, but have never actually read it myself. In 5th grade, when my family was falling apart, my teacher, Mr. Longmore, would spend the hour after lunch reading to us. He sat on a super-tall stool and crossed his super-long legs and as he read, he created magic in my heart. One of the books he read to us that year was The BFG and as he was nearly giant-sized himself and took a special interest in me, I easily pictured him as the BFG.

We loved the movie. So much. Annesley even got up at 6:00 this morning to get her Saturday jobs done so she could rewatch it before we take it back today. Total winner.

And when we woke up this morning, Annes had written this note.

Who is your BFG? My BFG is my papa. He is loving. My papa loves me. He loves to fish. My papa’s big fish is big. I love my BFG.

And then a drawing of Annes and her papa, AKA her BFG, with tons of hearts and BFGs all over it.

Ah man, this girl. She is full of love and life and so much delightfulness. I’m so grateful to be her mama. A big thanks to Mr. Longmore for being a BFG in my life at a time I so desperately needed him and to my husband for being an ever-present force of love in my life and the lives of our children. BFGs are all around us!

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eyes to see and ears to hear

Dec 10, 2016 by

Perceptions are a funny thing. They determine how we see things, how we understand the world around us, how we evaluate other’s motives, and yet, they are so often wrong. Last night I had one of those moments when I realized, once again, how incorrectly I can perceive the world.

Last night was our Ward Christmas Party. When I finished eating, my heart rate went up like it usually does, and I leaned back in my chair and tried to relax and think calming thoughts to help it come back down. But all the stimulation of kids running around, people talking to me, and the mass chaos of hundreds of people being in the same room together were too much for my nervous system to process. I tried closing my eyes and breathing deeply for awhile and that helped it calm down somewhat. Eventually Richard left to go figure out a way to get our car right up by the door and I counted heartbeats, willing them to sloooooowwwwww down and tried everything I knew to calm my system. The men were all working hard taking down tables and chairs, but could see something was wrong with me and left my table and chairs alone.

Fisher, my dear son who hates to be an inconvenience to anyone, came over and said, “Mom, can you move?” Barely lifting my head, I mumbled, “No, no I can’t.” I thought, “Oh, my heavens, can’t he see I am on the verge of passing out? Does he really care more about inconveniencing the men putting away tables than he does about my body’s needs?” He asked again, “Mom, can you move?” Again, I mumbled “No” and tried to get him to understand that I wasn’t using the table and it could be put away as long as they didn’t move my chairs or try to move me. Not satisfied with my answer, he persisted, “Mom, can you move? They are playing basketball.” In my nearly unconscious state of mind, I nearly exploded inside thinking, “Seriously! He is wanting to play basketball when I am having an episode? He wants me to move so they have more room to play!” But I couldn’t say anything because I was fighting with everything I had to stay conscious and calm. Finally, he said, “Mom, I’m worried the ball is going to hit you and hurt you. We’ve got to move you because they are playing basketball.”

I opened my eyes and looked around and saw that there was a group of teens playing basketball and I was right on the 3-point line. They were running all over the floor and the ball was flying wildly near me. I had had no idea any of that was happening and the boys had no idea anything was wrong with me, they were just trying to have fun. Grasping the situation, I told Fisher, “I can’t move, so you are going to have to protect me from the ball.” His response, “That is what I have been doing, I just think you would be safer if we could move you away from here.”

Oh, my goodness, the tears of gratitude welled up inside me for this good, good boy of mine. He wasn’t embarrassed of me. He wasn’t worried about inconveniencing the clean-up crew. He wasn’t wanting to play basketball and have more room on the court. He was watching over me and protecting me without anyone asking him to and without me even realizing what he was doing.

So often I respond too quickly, long before I understand the real situation. I am grateful for a body that was unable to speak and lash out in irritation and was instead able to hear his quiet voice, full of love, trying to help me.

Eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts to understand…those are the gifts I yearn for.

p.s. Yes, I did pass out a few minutes later. As we slowly made our way out to the car, my body collapsed in the hallway with Richard and several other men catching me and taking care of me. I am surrounded by angels, both heavenly and earthly ones. Thank you to those of you who so willingly walk this journey with me.

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annes is 9!

Nov 26, 2016 by

It feels like a gazillion years since my baby was born nine years ago. It also feels like it was such a short time ago that I held her in my arms for the first time. Surreal.

My entire life has changed since she was born. Our family has grown up. There are no more diapers, kids needing help getting dressed, bathed, or fed. There are no more board books, burping, or putting on their shoes for them. They are all big and capable and my role as mother has changed from caretaker of physical things to nurturer of the soul (and let me tell you, soul caretaking is hard for me).

I remember so clearly the fear and faith that surrounded her pregnancy and the joy that came with her birth. She looked at me with her big blue eyes and told me, “It’s gonna be okay.”

And you know what? It has been. The past nine years have been full of incredible challenges, immense mountains of love, poignantly tender miracles, and so many experiences I would never have chosen, but am grateful to have learned from.

Annesley has never had the privilege of having her papa have a schedule where he can spend lots of time with her as he has worked long hours six days a week her entire life until this fall. She doesn’t remember her mama not being sick or broken because the breast lump happened when she was 3 1/2 and right after recovering from that is when the EDS challenges began in earnest. She has had to face hard stuff and she has done it with laughter, love, and light. Annesley’s spirit is huge. She spreads joy everywhere she goes with her big smile and loving heart. We adore her to Pluto and back.

She has been totally in love with Leonardo da Vinci and inventions for months, so her birthday book this year is Cleonardo, The Little Inventor. It is a darling story of Leonardo’s granddaughter and her awesome invention.

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She is still in love with Adventures in Odyssey, fishing, hiking, music of all kinds, playing the piano, drawing, soccer, football, baseball, and Irish Step-Dancing. Her dreams are big and she has endless confidence that she can do anything she sets her mind on. She recently was able to go on a date with her papa to an Irish performance and loved every minute of it. She couldn’t help but dance in the lobby during intermission and I was told she put on the quite the show!

This morning she opened her presents – a tackle box, her first set of Prismacolors, and a doodle book. Keziah and Dallin took her ice skating this afternoon and tonight we will enjoy her ice cream cake creation – Mint Oreos, a layer of chocolate ice cream, and a layer of Breyer’s Mint Ice Cream. She has been planning it for months.

Miss Annes reminds me so much of myself. She looks just like me, has oodles of interests, and is full of zest and sass and sparkles of happiness. She has adopted most of the elderly people in our church congregation. She makes them cards, takes them presents, and loves to go over to visit. They shower her with love right back.

Here are some pics from the last year of her life.

Christmas Jammies from Grandma Dorothy – Star Wars!

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Snowboarding for Homeschool Ski Days

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Annesley is so excited to be in plays like her big sisters some day. Keziah’s January play was so fun!

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Provo City Center Temple Open House in February

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Liberty Girls Icicle Finding

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Liberty Girls Fancy Tea Party for Purim

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Going to General Conference with her dear friend, Olivia and big sister, Keziah.

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Scheel’s aquarium on the General Conference trip.

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Playing the piano and singing at the top of her lungs.

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Swim Camp 2016 – What a great way to kick off the summer!

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Rock Climbing with friends – she’s a natural!

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Smith Reunion and visiting Grandma’s and Grandpa’s graves.

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Reading The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic – our summer read-aloud. Snuggling up and reading for hours was our favorite way to spend the morning hours this summer.

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Camping, hiking, fishing and snakes galore. Oh, how she loves the outdoors!

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Daddy-Daughter Date with her papa at church.

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Fisher’s Birthday Hike at Cave Falls

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Our first ever family bike ride since I was injured in 2012. I rode my Elliptigo and everyone else was on bikes. I only made it about a mile, but let me tell you, it was glorious!

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Climbing trees at Fairy Land – our favorite spot at the greenbelt.

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End of Summer Party at Lava – speed slides are the best!

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Her new Irish Step-Dancing Class – yes, she is the youngest and smallest! She loves it! She hardly walks anymore and prefers to do one-two-threes everywhere she goes.

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Cousins holding hands at the Star Valley Temple Open House in September.

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Thanksgiving sledding with cousins, Easton and Oaklyn.

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Last hugs before we came home yesterday.

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We are so, so grateful for this girl that God sent us at what seemed like the worst time. We need her sunshine! It is so much fun being her mama! She has had a wonderful year learning and laughing and having fun. May she have many more happy, happy birthdays.

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chicks!

Mar 31, 2016 by

It has been awhile since we have had new chicks at our home. They are a lot of work and we haven’t had enough gumption to put in the work the past few years since Fisher’s chicks were all attacked by a fox the summer of 2013. I think losing those 20+ birds took the oomph right out of us. Last year we adopted a flock of adult hens and have been enjoying the brown eggs and rich yolks, but none of us wanted to take on chicks again.

Until today.

A friend sent out an email that they had too many chicks at her husband’s business and were giving them away for free. I asked Richard if he wanted chicks and to my great surprise he said “YES!”

Tonight has been a mad dash of getting things set up for the little fluff balls. After years of getting chicks every year, you would think we would be pros at the whole thing, but we are out of practice, and certainly didn’t know where all our chick supplies were. Richard, the ever handy one, saved us all with his chick skills and got their new home with heat, food, and water set up in no time.

Aren’t they adorable?

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And the joy a little chick brings? Oh my, it is magical how my children’s eyes have sparkled tonight. Don’t we all need a bit more magic in our lives?

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how i love them

Mar 1, 2016 by

Last night in the middle of an ordinary moment, time slowed down and all of a sudden my entire being swelled with love for these people God has given me. I saw them with new eyes and a new heart and could not believe they are mine. Oh, how I love them!

For our weekly Family Home Evening we went swimming with a few other families. I was too sore and feeling too fragile to get in the water, so I watched the splashing and front-flipping (new skill for Annes off the diving board!) and diving from the sidelines. Afterwards we stopped at the grocery store to grab some essentials for the week. Shopping all together is a pretty rare occurence and it was so fun, I decided we should definitely do it more often. Everyone put in their two-cents over which fruits and veggies to buy (Annesley begged for mangos and who can resist a cute little cherub begging for produce?) and we sent kids all over the store to find items and bring them back to the cart. On one of these runs, everyone ended up together and were walking towards me at the same time laughing and joking as they approached.

Time stood still. The light bounced off their faces and I fell in love with them all over again. These people mean everything to me. And sometimes, I forget. I forget how great my privilege is to love them. In the midst of living, I forget to look into their souls and connect.

So last night was a gift. For a brief moment I saw them as He sees them.

And I remembered.

Here they are all in all their delightful silliness over the past few months.

These two love to take selfies (dualies?) together. May it be recorded that Fisher kissed his sister.

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Meditating with a plunger? She left me a whole string of plunger pictures on my camera.

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Sledding down our road on Annesley’s birthday.

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More sledding.

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First day of snowboarding. Oh, my goodness, they LOVE snowboarding.

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Decorating the Christmas Tree.

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Dancing in front of the Provo City Center Temple on President’s Day.

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All of us (minus Blythe, of course!) in front of the temple.

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annes and the police station

Jan 27, 2016 by

Miss Annes is full of zest. Chock-full of curiosity, stories, creativity, enthusiasm, and is about as cute as can be. Everywhere we go people love her. Except for the few people she drives absolutely banana-cakes with her “muchness.”

Today was the first day of iFamily, our awesome homeschool group. She is in a Community Explorations class this semester where they go out to different businesses and community entities to learn about how they function and what they do to make our community great. Today was the Police Station. Annes gave a Texas-sized shout of “Hurrah” when she found out. Unbeknownst to me, she is a little over the top curious about all things police-y because of her current obsession with Adventures in Odyssey mysteries.

When she returned to iFamily I asked one of her mentors how it went and if Annesely was well-behaved. She gave me a huge laugh and said, “Annesley is the best part of my day, I love that girl! She is FULL of life!” Thrilled with that response, I asked her to tell me all about it.

She reported that on the way in to the Police Station, Annesley said, “Oh no! They won’t let me in! They have metal detectors and look at my boots!” Her mentor said she thought the little piece of metal on the end of her cowboy boots would be just fine. Annesley responded with, “Oh, are they not very sensitive?”

At some point the police officer must have been talking about roadblocks and Annesley asked if there was a robbery because why would you ever have a roadblock without a robbery?

The third comment was “Do you deal with a lot of counterfeiters?” The police officer said no, not a whole lot. Why?” Annesley said, “Well, I know all about making counterfeit money!” She actually has no idea how to make counterfeit money, but she has listened to her Adventures In Odyssey CDs about a counterfeiting ring about a hundred times since Christmas so she thinks she is pretty much an expert. However, I would hope she would be a so-called expert in catching the counterfeiters, not copying their trade.

I’m tickled she has such fun opportunities for learning and mentors that appreciate her enthusiasm for life. I just hope the good officers don’t set up some kind of sting operation to bust us for counterfeiting.

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easing back into life

Jan 6, 2016 by

Recovering from late nights, too much junk food, and lack of commitments.

New scripture study time. (In the morning at the butt-crack of dawn. Actually long before the butt-crack of dawn since it is pitch black outside when Richard gently kisses me and shakes me awake so I can pull on my fleece sweats and slippers and plod out to the family room.)

New schedules.

New goals.

Registration for iFamily was this week and I had to break some children’s hearts because I can’t take more than 16 students in my Math Alive class and nearly 30 applied. I hate breaking hearts.

Homeschool days on the ski/snowboarding slopes is here once again and for the first time since 2008, I am trying my darndest to make it happen for my kids. Long, frustrating story there about how hard I have been trying to magically find all the gear they need for as few pennies as possible and piles of tears that poured out of me when I couldn’t find what they needed at prices we could afford. My heart and their hearts were so set on going this week, but I just couldn’t make it happen. So I fell apart, telling myself all the lies. Something akin to “for crying out loud we live right next to the mountains and have an awesome homeschool program that allows kids to ski or board for hours and hours for $10 and you KNOW this, so what is wrong with you (me) that you didn’t plan ahead and get all this stuff in the summer when it was available or look in Utah or SOMETHING else, for the love. You (once again, me!) made a stupid choice to buy a snowboard when you don’t know anything about snowboards and now you are told it is broken and you can’t find boots and it is all completely pointless.” It was a rough night of tears and irrational thought. (But I am better now, no worries needed about my overall sanity.) And Keziah went since she has her own money and a friend was able to loan her all the gear she needed, so that was super fun, even though the other kiddos were disappointed.

Starting gym again on Friday and not ready to be up on my feet again. This new flare up of my knee injury is frustrating.

Plummeting progesterone levels which equals a weepy, emotions-all-over-the-place mama.

Play practices ramping up for Miss Keziah’s play which is at the end of the month. So, we don’t see her much.

Same girly getting her driver’s license (hopefully this week!) which is exciting and wonderful and will help out a ton, but leaves me with no vehicle whenever she takes the Subaru. (Our suburban runs just fine, but it is not driveable right now because the heater core broke on the way to Swim Camp back in June. Living up here in the frozen tundra prevents anyone with a eve a wee bit of sanity to drive a vehicle without a heater!)

Fisher finished his math program a few ago and we are trying to figure out where to go next with him. And my brain or spirit or something must be closed off to the heavens (or more likely just really, really tired) because I just don’t know what to do.

I am trying to put together the next semester of Liberty Girls and feeling little direction from on high…which leads to low motivation on my end.

I feel like hibernating right here in my house and savoring the long, winter days with books, warm quilts, hot chocolate, and lots of calm. I don’t want to actually deal with reality and answer the phone, pay bills, run errands, organize anything, or go anywhere. So I am doing that. AND doing a bit of the other because, you know, life.

Lots of changes, so we are easing into them and trying not to cause all-out rebellion (mostly my own rebellion where I throw in the towel and head for my imaginary cabin in the hills, haha!). Yesterday we started reading Stone Fox (love that book!) for the man club Fisher is a part of, Explorer Boys, and ever so slowly started back into our normal school days. I think we will start some geometry today with him and see how it goes.

All the books for 2016 for my colloquia group have been selected and I just might get them posted here, but no guarantees since at the moment my energy level is roughly equivalent to a sloths. Tomorrow night is our first discussion of the year, which means I’ll need to shower…and turn on my brain…but then I can enjoy hearing thoughts and ideas on a great book and it will be lovely.

So this week is going to be slow and calm and full of nurturing…I need the calm. There is plenty of time for the busy later.

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narnia

Jan 1, 2016 by

We started our next read-aloud for 2016 tonight. In the midst of grumpy kids who were tired from late nights, sugar-laden, and about to dddiiiiiieee from taking down the Christmas decorations, magic was created.

Back in November, God whispered to my heart that our next read-aloud was to be the entire Chronicles of Narnia series. At first, I thought, “Our children know these stories inside and out, I don’t think I should take the time to read them aloud to them. I need to use this precious time for something they haven’t been exposed to yet.” But the quiet whispering continued and I knew there was a good reason for it. My excitement at the prospect grew and all through the nights of December Christmas stories, I grew giddy inside at the thought of sharing the wonderment of Narnia with our children over the next many months.

So, tonight, with children annoying one another and complaining at each new task assigned to them in our Christmas clean-up, we started our adventure. Richard made everyone hot chocolate while we finished the last of the clean-up and we welcomed everyone to grab a mug and a blanket and sit down and listen.

Soon calmness prevailed and happiness won out over the grumps. The magic of read-aloud time to bring a family together never ceases to amaze me. I think the world could be changed dramatically if all families spent some time in the evenings enjoying a delicious book together.

At the end of the chapter, they begged, “Please read another! Please, please! Just one more!” I reminded them that just thirty minutes prior they had been saying, “We don’t want to read Narnia! We want to watch Return of the Jedi!” and they grinned and said, “Yes, but now we want you to read more!”

Cracks me up.

The power of story is real. Stories speak to the deepest parts of who we are. They inspire courage, build connection, and create a culture of shared identity. They are the best things I know of to bind a family together.

What are you reading with your family right now?

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