make it for maggie wrap-up

Oct 30, 2011 by

make it for maggie wrap-up

Katherine and I are grateful and filled with love for each and every participant in Make It For Maggie. Words cannot do justice to the feelings we have in our hearts after yesterday’s event.

I walked through the day with a smile on my face and oodles of gratitude in my heart at the greatness of soul that was demonstrated by our community. It was a privilege to spend a day learning, serving, and laughing with you.

There were SO many amazing and wonderful and delightful moments throughout the day. Here are just a few of them.

1. Bill and Linda Watts helped us set up chairs and get each room ready for our classes to begin. We couldn’t have been ready on time without them!

2. Charlene walked in with the box of Handout Booklets at just the right time. We gasped when we saw how beautifully they turned out! They are lovely. Thanks to Charlene Hertzberg for her hours of work putting them together! We hope they prove to be useful in the lives of our supporters and they get used and used and used!

3. Several attendees showed up with friends! Yeah for spreading the love!

4. Check-in was super fun (although a little bit of a bottleneck!) because we were able to speak to each person, give lots of hugs, and connect with our attendees.

5. The decorations, table settings, and the whole flow of our lunch together was FABULOUS! Thank you to Kim, Stevie, and Zoie Conder for going the extra mile to make Make It For Maggie run a gazillion times more smoothly than it did last year. Your efforts are greatly appreciated!

6. Liz sang to us at lunch and what can I say…her voice melts me every time. There were many tears throughout the room. Thank you for sharing your heart with us and blessing us with the gift of music.

7. The Silent Auction was a HUGE success! Thank you for your generous support and for bidding at the last minute!

8. Christine Paugas gave Maggie a cute little knitted turtle…wish I had a picture of it because it is adorable!

9. Our classes were thoroughly enjoyed! One participant said “I have been inspired by this group of amazing women. I can’t wait to come back next year!” Yes, we have wonderful teachers!

10. An anonymous and generous donor wrote us a lovely letter and put it in our donation box. Thank you to whomever you are…and may God shower you with blessings!

10. The Bartell family showed up at 5:00 and said “Put us to work! We are here to clean the building.” Woo-hoo!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

11. When Eric Browning saw that Brian Bartell was the only man putting up tables, he dropped his schedule and got right to work! Thank you Eric!

12. Lots of people put up chairs, swept floors, and got the building put back together! I drove away at 6:39! Yes, only 1 hour and 39 minutes after it ended! Thank YOU to everyone who helped!

13. I received so many wonderful hugs yesterday…and not your average-pat-on-the-back-hugs, but tight squeezes full of love!

14. Another donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, made a very generous last minute donation. She brought Kat and me to tears with her love for the Lear family. Thank you!

15. Melissa Bartell donated money from her Halloween Costume Party…such a fabulous idea! Thank you!

16. Many people brought in door prizes at the last minute and filled our day with fun and lots of winners. A special thank you to my mama, Dorothy, for bringing so many adorable and yummy items! Thank YOU!

17. I was able to snuggle my nephew, Easton, so his overworked mama could attend Jodie’s relationship class. He promptly fell asleep on my shoulder and I was in baby heaven for an hour. Isn’t the sound of a baby breathing in your arms one of the most precious things in the world?

Here are some pictures of our day:



Miss Maggie at lunchtime


Sharing information about some of our donors


Picking Door Prize winners


Lincoln Lear and lil’ guy Damon



Giving Maggie’s mom, Jodie, money for Maggie’s new Proloquo2Go Communication Program and two Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatments. Yippee!!


Jodie sharing her words of inspiration and gratitude for Make It For Maggie. She showed us some of the blessings that came into Maggie’s life through Maggie’s Month last year.


Liz singing her heart out and bringing us to tears









Bill and Linda Watt’s amazing display of preparedness items to use without electricity


Silent Auction


Door Prizes


Making Tea Towels Aprons





Cosette’s Stewardship Approach to Chores class


Amy’s Just Add Water class


Dorothy’s Make It, Take It Wooden Craft Class


Kim, our amazing luncheon chairman


Liz’s Green Smoothie Class


Thank YOU to everyone for making Make It For Maggie a huge success! Thank you for joining with us in Changing The World One Family At A Time. Every single donation from $10 to $500 made a difference and we are humbled to be surrounded by such greatness of spirit.

Please feel our love for you and please spread the word, build the momentum, and join us next year.

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angels among us

Oct 6, 2011 by

I believe…in fact, I know there are angels among us. Some of them are earthly, some of them are heavenly. Some are with us for a short time, some bless us for an extended time. Right now, we have one (who knows? we probably have loads of them and just don’t know it) of the extended versions. Some precious soul out there loves us very much. Every once in a while, an envelope comes in the mail with a gift card to our local grocery store. Somehow these envelopes come right at the perfect time. Right when I have no idea how I am going to by milk, much less a cartload of groceries. Right when I am at my wit’s end trying to make my small budget make ends meet.

It’s simply amazing. The kindness overwhelms me. I have no idea who this angel is or why they are doing it. All I know is I want to hold them in my arms and tell them thank you, thank you, thank you. If by chance they read this blog, or if one of you lovely readers know who this is and could pass on our heartfelt gratitude, we would so appreciate it. Our family prays for this angel often. We pray for him or her to have financial blessings heaped upon them ten-fold and to be protected and watched over by our Heavenly Father. We also pray that we will one day be in a position that we can bless other’s lives as you have SO abundantly blessed ours.

Yes, I believe there are angels among us.

Oh I believe there are angels among us.
Sent down to us from somewhere up above.
They come to you and me in our darkest hours.
To show us how to live, to teach us how to give.
To guide us with the light of love.

They wear so many faces; show up in the strangest places.
To grace us with their mercy, in our time of need.

Oh I believe there are angels among us.
Sent down to us from somewhere up above.
They come to you and me in our darkest hours.
To show us how to live, to teach us how to give.
To guide us with the light of love.

To guide us with the light of love.

Thank you for being our angel. Words can never express how much your kindness has filled our hearts with hope, our bellies with food, and our souls with faith.

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homeschooling: how to start

Sep 1, 2011 by

I have had many people ask me over the years how to start homeschooling. The whole thing feels big and overwhelming and uncomfortable because it is an unknown. We all know how to do the whole public school thing, but homeschooling often feels like unchartered territory. We don’t know what it looks like, so we don’t know how to create it.

If you are a brand new homeschooler or even considering it, this post is for you.

First, breathe.

Really, take some deep breaths and allow that oxygen to saturate your body. Breathe, breathe, and breathe some more.

Second, pray.

Start each day in prayer or meditation and ponder what your children need from you. I promise you, the answers will come.

Third, read lots of different books about educational philosophy. Erickson, Dewey, Montessori, Waldorf, Charlotte Mason, Leadership Education, Classical Education, Prussian models (learn where the current American model came from), colonial-era ideas, Sir Ken Robinson (watch him at TED!), John Taylor Gatto, etc. As you read, ideas will be bouncing around in your head…some will feel right, some will feel wrong, some will feel like you need to ponder them more, some will be intriguing, some will be rejected immediately. Let yourself experience all sorts of ideas and sort out what feels right and what feels wrong. You will come to understand what your view of childhood is, how you think education happens best, and what course you want to pursue with your own children. Some books that have greatly impacted my life are Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning, A Thomas Jefferson Education, You Are Your Child’s First Teacher, Better Late Than Early, The Charlotte Mason Companion, The Seven-Lesson Schoolteacher, The Well-Trained Mind, A Mother Just Like You, The Underground History of American Education, The Three R’s and Teach Like Your Hair’s On Fire: The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56 (I love all of Rafe Esquith’s books…read them all!). I have read hundreds of books about education and each have influenced me. It is hard for me to go back in time to when Blythe was five and figure out what was impactful then, but I think the books above will give you a wealth of fodder to chew on.

Fourth, focus on rhythms, routines, and relationships. What are those things, you say?

Rhythms are the flow of your day. These things don’t need to necessarily happen at a certain time, just have a rhythm to them. Rhythms are family specific…each family’s daily flow will look and feel different. Some will start with yoga, some with gardening, some with snuggle time, some with music, some with cleaning, some with eating and then from there they will continue to look different. Some homes are high energy, some are calm, some are orderly, some are a tad chaotic feeling. Figure out what you want your day to look AND feel like and start creating or fine tuning your rhythms.

Routines are the way things get done. Cleaning, meals, learning time, phone calls answered, errands, email, etc. Anything that needs to be done will usually go more smoothly and efficiently if there is some kind of learned system for how it is to be accomplished in your home.

Relationships are the connections and trust (or lack thereof) you have with your children and they have with one another. A wise mentor once told me if they can’t trust you emotionally, they won’t trust you academically. If a child feels you understand their heart they are much more likely to listen to you, yearn to obey you, and desire to learn from you.

I actually struggle with all three of the R’s…none of it comes naturally to me, so if it doesn’t come naturally to you, please don’t give up or think you can’t homeschool. Homeschooling is a journey, an adventure ride, and a refining process all at once. Homeschooling helps me grow into the mother I want to be. Homeschooling teaches me what I need to change in my mothering so I can be who and what they need me to be. People often tell me, “I could never homeschool, I’m not organized enough” or “I want to homeschool, but I am not patient enough” and I tell them “None of us are the perfect homeschooling mother, we all struggle with organization and patience and systems, but we keep trying and learning and growing and loving and it gets easier and more natural as time goes on.”

Fifth, start with some basics. Study your Core (your source of truth) Book(s) and make those truths come alive for your children. Gather your children around you and have time together in the morning. You may have a big ol’ family devotional or just read-aloud time or singing time. Pick some things you want to do every day and make them special. Then add in read-aloud time. Read books that reinforce your core values, that nourish the soul, stimulate the mind, and are a pleasure to read. When that is going well, add in something else, like math, science, history, geography, nature studies, narration, FIAR, music, art, poetry, etc. Study the lives of great men and women. Choose things you are interested in and do them. Go on walks, collect rocks and bugs. Go on bike rides. Make a picnic and read outside under the trees. Cook with them. Enjoy them. Find what works in the course of your day and what doesn’t. You will know. Trust me, you will know.

Sixth, pray (if that works for you) and breathe some more.

Seventh, keep educating yourself. Study, learn, read, write, discuss. Model learning for your children. Share what you are excited about. Invite them on your learning journey.

Eighth, smile, laugh, create family traditions you love, make being part of your family (and your homeschool) super cool and special. Enjoy your children and love them.

Ninth, pray and ponder what your mission is and what your children’s missions are. Prepare for those things and be ready and willing to serve, lead, sacrifice, and love those people and causes that you feel led to. Assist your children in doing the same.

Tenth, build a community of people who are on your same path.

It works. It really does.

Now, I have had a lot of people ask me what our days look like. I hesitate to share this because the whole point of this post is to inspire you to create your OWN days, not copy mine, but for those of you that need a picture before you can start tweaking, here you go…but remember create your own.

In our home, we start with singing time…we pull out all our drums, shakers, and rhythm sticks and sing at the top of our lungs. Each person picks out at least one song, but often it is much more. Then we have a prayer to start our learning time, recite the pledge, learn about our temple of the day and find where it is located on our big maps. Many times we find lots of other things on the maps too. I often read a story of faith, courage, or sacrifice from our family, religious, nation’s, or world’s history. We read our scriptures and discuss them. We learn or practice our Poem of the Week. Then we do spelling words, a grammar lesson, and whatever else I feel like teaching them at that time. This is my special time to share what I love with my children. We may discuss a current situation going on in the world, read a science book, each write a poem, act out a historical event, or whatever…I just share what I am thinking about and we go with it for however long we are interested in it. Then Blythe heads off to her room for her studies while I read to the younger three for awhile. Sometimes read-aloud time is fifteen minutes, sometimes two hours. Keziah camps out on a couch surrounded by her math books, art work, handwriting, and whatever else she wants to work on while I read. Fisher and Annes usually draw or play with blocks while I read to them. Reading time is often interrupted with questions, finding places on the maps from our readings, needing to grab a snack, or someone at the door. We have learned to go with the flow of the morning. When I am tired of reading or their interest has waned we move on to the next phase of our morning. I often work with Fisher on reading or math, play learning games with Fisher and Annes, work one on one with Keziah in her studies, teach them all about whatever I am excited about, or if they are all happily learning on their own I will sit with them and study my books, knowing I will be interrupted on a regular basis. By now, it is lunchtime and Blythe makes lunch and we all eat and clean up together before starting our afternoon routine. Afternoons are often full of personal reading time, artwork, outside time, sewing, projects, science, FIAR time with Fisher, one on one time with any children who need me academically or emotionally, and my study time. During the mornings we are all together in our learning room (well, except for Blythe who studies in her room), but during the afternoons we are all over the house and yard. We gather back together for dinner prep, eating, and clean-up. Then we have scripture study and family read-aloud time in the evenings when Richard can join us. On some days I throw the whole routine out the window and go on a hike or park or some other adventure with them.

Many days go really well, some go so-so, some are terrible and I want to give up and throw in the towel, but usually at the end of a day I am grateful for my life as a homeschooling mother. Errands, email, blogging, phone calls, etc are all squished in around the edges and I have to force myself to not let those things take over my life. Laundry is my nemesis, as are dishes and the amount of messes that occur when five people are home together all day every day. I haven’t figured any of that out, but I have learned that I can clean all day long or I can learn all day long and either way my home is in about the same condition the next day. There will always be work to do in the upkeep of a home, but there won’t always be children wanting to learn, so develop a cleaning routine that works for you and then focus on the learning and being together.

I have been homeschooling for fifteen years. I am in a different place than someone just starting out. I have different worries than I did back then…and a different sense of peace. If I had to do it over again, I would make many of the same choices, but I would also gather them around me more and BE with them more. I would go on more walks in the mountains, schedule less of our days, and relish in the joy of learning together more. I did all of those things, but now that I see how fast life changes into having a youth with all sorts of needs and schedules, I would go back and do less. I would relish reading Charlotte’s Web for a whole afternoon. I would turn off my phone, build a fort, bake some cookies, and read with her. Now that she spends her time studying in her room for hours upon hours every day, I wish I could back and snuggle with her again as a precious little six year old.

Now my eyes are full of tears as I think back to those early days of homeschooling. We had so much fun together. Before Blythe was eight years old, we had read our core book over and over and over again, all of E.B. White’s works, all of the Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, thousands of picture books, Little Britches, The Little House on the Prairie series, and so many more. We spent our days reading books, going on walks, and collecting bugs. Now I have a busy schedule and lots of people who need me and I rarely have a day to spend sitting in a fort or going on a two hour walk. I need to figure out a way to be in this current phase of my life and still create the magic that I had with Blythe.

If you are just starting out or even thinking about the possibility of homeschooling, I am happy to talk in-depth with you and help you on this journey. It is a journey I am so grateful to be on and I love helping others on the path.

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the lesson of submission

Jun 16, 2011 by

I have been learning much.

Learning that I can’t solve my problems.

Learning that I can’t control my life.

Learning that I have been far too prideful.

Learning that I am much too reliant on my own pitiful attempts to rescue myself.

Learning that it doesn’t matter how smart I am, how good I am, how angry I am, how deserving I am, how anything I am…I am not in charge, I can’t change my husband’s job, and I can’t change this lump in my breast.

Now, I am not saying I am powerless…I AM saying relying on my own strength, tenacity, brains, or anything else of MY own won’t work.

I have had to give this all to God and let Him change things.

I have had to submit…in some ways it is the most frightening experience of my life.

It is also the most humbling.

Several weeks ago, I was told that because my mammogram results came back clear, I was no longer eligible to receive funding through the Early Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program. Since then, I have made countless phone calls, had numerous appointments with specialists in a variety of fields, and been researching till the cows come home…actually far later into the night than when the cows come home. Through all this study, I have decided that the mammogram results are not accurate due to my dense breast tissue and that I need to pursue further testing.

The Screening Program said they would absolutely not pay for any other appointments and they would certainly not pay for the $5,000 biopsy. No way around it. I did not meet the guidelines to continue with further testing and there was nothing I could do about it.

I have pondered fundraising ideas. Bake sales, selling my beloved bike, my cello, some of my books, creating some sort of new business that could quickly raise the money needed. Ideas have poured through my head and all of it was completely overwhelming. I knew I wasn’t up to doing anything that large or that quickly. I am tired. Each day is a struggle to get through and there is just not enough of me to get it all done.

For years, I have thought if I just worked harder, stayed up later, smiled more, or involved more people, I could solve whatever problem is in front of me. For the last four years, I have been learning that I can’t solve our financial problems. I can’t magically give Richard a new job. I can’t give him more hours with us. I can’t go back in time. But, I have made myself miserable and exhausted by taking the weight of that burden on and trying to solve it and feeling the weight of guilt and torment that has gotten us here. I have beat myself up over and over and OVER. I have distanced myself from God because I have felt so absolutely unworthy of His love. I have sobbed into my pillow all night long more times than I can count because the pain is so unbearable. I have not allowed the atonement to work in my life…all because of debt and poor choices and guilt and not measuring up to my vision of a good steward.

Sometimes the reality of trying to get through the day feels like a boulder pressing down on my chest. Sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe. Sometimes I try to escape into a book, but at the end of the last page, the problems are still in front of me. Sometimes I look into the eyes of my children and start crying because I can’t solve this problem.

I know God does not want me to feel this way. Yes, He wants us to be good stewards, but He does not want me to hate myself and be unwilling to accept His atonement because of my self-imposed guilt. My priesthood blessing of a few weeks ago helped me to feel and know His great love for me. It helped me to let go of the guilt and bask in His peace. Since then, I have felt His love on a daily basis. I have felt wrapped in His arms.

Many times, I am able to be comforted by the fact that innumerable miracles have fed, clothed, and sheltered us in the past four years since our business closed. Many times, I am able to remember hope. Many times I am functioning in a state of shock as my family and friends give me clothes, make-up, gas, food, trips to Utah, warm meals, books, and all the other wonderful things people have provided for us. Many times I am so embarrassed by the help people give us that I am unable to communicate and perhaps they don’t know how grateful I am and how perfectly timely their gifts have been. Many times, I know, absolutely know, that I am in God’s hands and that I need to trust.

But mostly, I still think I can solve everything.

This lump has taught me that I can’t. I can’t get rid of it. I can’t find out what it is on my own.

I can eat healthy foods. I can cleanse. I can relax. I can trust. I can simplify. I can try to fix the hormone imbalance.

But I can’t solve it.

I don’t know if anything I am saying is making sense. I am typing a million miles a minute and pouring my heart out into my keyboard and probably not really communicating the feelings of my soul. I hope someone can sense what I am saying.

Last night when I got home from having a wonderful time with my friends, Jessica and Jessica, I had a message from the screening program.

By some miraculous turn of events (and by miraculous, I mean miraculous…I’m sure there had to be some angelic intervention), they have decided to pay for another surgical consult AND the biopsy if it is necessary AND follow-up appointments.

I’m speechless.

I cried and cried last night. I do not deserve this. I haven’t earned it. It doesn’t make any sense.

But that is exactly how God works. I need to stop trying to earn His love and just love Him, just trust Him, just submit my willful, prideful, selfish self to Him.

The next miracle happened this morning.

Dr. Jones’ (the best breast cancer surgeon in our area) office called and said they had a cancellation for this afternoon and it was mine if I wanted it.


Generally they are booking appointments 4 – 6 weeks out.

Miracles are everywhere.

I am learning to submit to God’s plan for my life. It is hard, but I am learning that His hands are best place for me to be.

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how does it feel?

Mar 27, 2011 by

The entire trip to the TJED Family Forum would have been worth it for just this one lesson I learned in a presentation by my friend, Jodie Palmer.

She asked the question “How does it feel?” repeatedly. She kept asking it enough that it finally sunk in to my heart and has had me thinking deeply about it ever since. I ask you to think about it also.

How does it feel in your home?

How does it feel in your arms?

How does it feel to talk to you?

How does it feel to read a book with you?

How does it feel to eat a meal with you?

How does it feel to pray with you?

How does it feel to drive with you?

How does it feel to work with you?

How does it feel to wake up with you?

How does it feel to go to bed with you?

Jodie asked the first question and I have been asking myself all the rest. I have realized I have not been looking in my children’s eyes enough. I have not been connecting with their spirits the way I used to. In some ways I have become a drill sergeant and I know a drill sergeant is not what God wants me to be. It is not how I want to be.

Jodie asserted that whatever we are doing with our children, be it reading, mathematics, history, gardening, packing for a trip, doing their hair, sewing, cleaning, art, WHATEVER, the real question we need to ask ourselves is not how well they are learning or doing or accomplishing, but how they feel while they are doing it. How they feel will play a far larger role in them eventually learning the reading, mathematics, history, etc than how they are actually learning it right now. When they feel safe, loved, nurtured, excited, understood, invigorated, and competent, they are defining who they are, what family is, how a mother treats her children, and what learning feels like. When they feel scared, overwhelmed, ignored, pushed, bored, misunderstood, or failing, they are learning the exact same lessons, but with very different outcomes.

Think about this.

Let it sink in.

Find the truth in it.

I am not saying we try the ridiculous social experiments of the 80’s where unearned praise and “good job!” were lathered on children. I am not saying feelings rule the day and that behavior doesn’t matter. I am saying that as a mother I have a stewardship to create the culture in our home and that culture plays a large part in how my children feel. If children are called to meals and hurriedly told to sit down so we can pray and then have the food devoured they will have a very different feeling than if meal time is treated as a special time of day where we are able to jointly give thanks to God, enjoying our meal, and share stimulating conversation.

If I am not looking at my children while they are talking to me, they will have a different feeling than if I get down on their level and look them in the eye.

If I am too busy to be able to listen with my heart, I am too busy to sufficiently fill their souls with my love for them.

If my voice is taut and strained while I am teaching a math concept or reading or driving or any other thing, my children will not only sense they are not smart enough to get it, they may also come to believe that learning is overwhelming, causes mom to become stressed, and takes way to much work to be worth it.

On the other hand, if I am able to set a tone of calmness, order, stability, connection, patience, forgiveness, and most of all, love, my children will carry that feeling in their souls and it will define for them what a family is, what home means, how a mother treats her children, and they will yearn for that feeling to stay with them. That feeling will keep them close to their family and close to God. They may stray from what they have been taught, but that feeling will bring them back.

This is what I want. I think lately I have been too busy teaching the academics to remember to focus on the feeling I want to create in my home.

Jodie’s class reminded me what my real goals are and has given me lots of things to ponder this week. I have been striving this week to get back to the mother I used to be and to fill my children’s spirits with the feeling I want them to have of home.

If you want to listen to Jodie’s talk, you will be able to download it at TJED Marketplace in a few weeks. It is called Family Mission Statements by Jodie Palmer and was fabulouso!

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a lesson from reepicheep

Dec 20, 2010 by

Tonight in the middle of our sewing marathon…which if you remember involves Kat sewing and me pressing and pinning…Richard took our family (plus Trey) to Voyage of the Dawn Treader for Family Home Evening tonight.

I loved it.

In spite of the changes to the book, I loved it.

I loved sitting in a theater surrounded by the people I love best and watching the absolute joy and wonder on their faces as they experienced this dearly loved story brought to life right in front of them.

I thought that was the reason I felt so strongly we needed to fork out the moola to attend.

I was wrong.

I needed this film.

I needed to see Reepicheep run across the beach and paddle in earnest to Aslan’s land. I needed to see the look in his eyes as he greets it. I needed to see him say goodbye to those he loves and then move forward with excitement to the land of his King.

I have had far too many loved ones die in the past two years. My precious grandmother died two years ago at Christmas-time. I miss her so much. I still cry when I talk about her. I still touch the place on my cheek where she last kissed me on November 29, 2008. I still hear her voice in my mind and sometimes I play her voice on my answering machine. I still think of her when I sing As Sisters In Zion. I still think of her every time I bake or fold or knead or serve.

As I typed these thoughts out, I realized her funeral was today.

Today was the last time I saw her beautiful face and held her hand.

And tonight my Heavenly Father blessed me to see Reepicheep run to heaven to help me see what death from this life can come to mean to me.


Maybe someday I can let her go and be full of joy with her instead of holding on to the pain in my heart which longs for her to be with me here.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for teaching me once again the majesty of your plan for each of your children. Thank you for loving me enough to give me this blessing on this very night. Thank you for remembering the pain in my heart and soothing it with thy tender care.

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number ten and the saga of the hair gone bonkers

Sep 2, 2010 by

I haven’t wanted to talk about this. I haven’t been willing to face it. I haven’t wanted to admit it. But now, I feel I must be open and honest about events of recent days.

I was pregnant. I wasn’t excited about it. Although I want a baby desperately and much of my life revolves around figuring out the mystery of how to help my body stay pregnant, at this moment in time I was not excited. I kept thinking, “How will I be able to support Blythe in Shakespeare if I am giving birth right during her play? How will I do gym? How will I get my children to their classes that they are so excited about? How will I teach classes at iFamily? How will I tell all 75 of my gym students I cannot teach? How will I break my contract with the gym? Will they let me or will I have to pay them rent even if I am not using it? How will I homeschool my children? How will I ever survive the months of throwing up, the constant feeling of needing to throw up, the heartburn, the pelvic pain, the possibility of my midwife not attending me, the cost of having a baby, the reality of Richard working 12 hour days, six days a week. How will I meet the needs of my other children? How, how, how?”

I was overwhelmed at first. I knew I had ovulated twice and I was doubly worried about having twins. I mean, I think twins are fun and all that, but I was full of fear that my body simply would not be able to carry twins successfully. That I literally would be unable to walk because of my pelvic issues. That I would not be able to do it. The big IT, meaning everything that every mother makes bigger than it really is when we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the hugeness of our responsibilities as mothers.

Then I started to get excited. I started thinking that because of a quite miraculous conception, a full week after my fertility signals had disappeared, that God must have intended this baby to stay. I started to be full of hope that this time, this pregnancy would not end as so many other pregnancies have ended for us, but that we would actually get to hold this baby or babies in our arms. I began making adjustments in my life to accommodate for this life inside of me. I began to embrace the idea of pregnancy.

And then, the bleeding started.

Once again, I was miscarrying one of my children.

Parts of me were relieved. Relieved that I didn’t have to make all those adjustments. Relieved that my children’s lives could go on normally. Relieved that Blythe’s Shakespeare play wouldn’t be effected.

Part of me was devastated. Devastated that I would not be seeing this child, would not be holding him in my arms. Would not be nursing him. Would not be watching him grow.

But most of me? Most of me felt guilt. Horrible, gut-wrenching, knife-stabbing, take my breath away guilt. Guilt that I had rejected a child of God. Guilt that I had put temporal worries in front of being a mother. A MOTHER. What I know I was born to be. Guilt that this child felt unwanted and so he left.

So I stuffed all of these feelings deep down inside and went on with life like nothing had happened. I told very few of my friends. I didn’t want anyone to know what I had done. I didn’t even tell my mom, who I tell everything too. I kept bleeding and I went on with life as if nothing had happened.

It was too overwhelming to face.

And then I decided to get my hair lowlighted to add in a little bit of light brown and make my hair look more natural instead of the super blond it has been all summer.

The light brown turned black, navy blue, grey, and red.

We tried to lighten the darkest parts and they turned orange. Bright orange.

We tried to darken the orange parts and they turned dark brown and so not a lovely color of dark brown. At this stage, I also had a two inch white streak in the front of my hair with crayola marker red mixed in. Bimbo-city is what my hair was screaming to the world.

I was completely befuddled. What on earth was going on with my hair? Why was it not turning the right colors or even the right tones? What did I need to do to fix it?

I called my good friend Melissa, who is a cosmetologist and does foot zoning, and explained the whole hair situation to her. She immediately asked what was going on in my life. I told her “nothing, nothing out of the ordinary. Just the usual amount of busyness, getting ready for gym, iFamily, etc.” She probed deeper and asked “what is going on hormonally.” Again, I said “nothing.” Then, I finally admitted that I had just miscarried. She jumped on that idea and said “Tracy, those hormones are making your hair do this. I am sensing you are not dealing well with the miscarriage, that you don’t want to admit it, that you don’t want to face it and now your body is calling to you to notice what is going on, to acknowledge the pregnancy and the loss of the pregnancy.”

Immediately, I knew she was right. I thought of the day before when Amy had kindly said “We need to get you another bead for your miscarriage necklace and I reacted so strongly and said “NO, no, I don’t want another bead. I don’t want anyone to know. I don’t want to have a tenth bead hanging on my neck.” I thought of how I hadn’t told even my mother. I thought of how I was just moving on with life as if nothing had happened.

So, now we knew why my hair was behaving so erraticlly, but we still didn’t know what to do about it. Every person we consulted with said we needed to stop processing it. Stop adding chemicals to it or it would all fall out. I thought “We can’t stop now! Not at this bimbo stage. No hair must be better than bimbo hair. I cannot go out in public and portray myself as a Latter-Day Saint woman and mother of four with hair like this. I simply cannot. Shaving it all off would be a better option.”

So we decided to consult with lots more people, getting different opinions from each one. We finally decided to fill the white parts with a copper color and then to dye the whole thing brown.

It worked…kind of…it went much darker red than we thought and it went much darker brown than it should have. But it is all the same color…mostly…and I don’t look like a bimbo. So it worked, right?

Brown Hair

This has been a big lesson for me to learn. My body and my emotions cannot be separated. I cannot ignore what is going on with me at the deepest levels and expect my body to be okay with that. I cannot hide from it, for it will come out in some way.

It is pretty interesting that I was not willing to face the miscarriage and now I have to look in the mirror and face it everyday.

Our bodies are amazing creations. They speak to us even when we are not listening. They present lessons to us even when we don’t want to learn.

I will now admit it.

I have lost ten babies. Ten. TEN. It is overwhelming to me to think of it.

But now, I also feel surrounded by love. The love of all those children. The love of a Heavenly Father that has allowed me to be a co-creator with Him for fourteen babies and that somehow, somehow, I have four that have come to earth and are spending their days learning with me.

I no longer believe I drove this baby away. I believe he loved me enough to come again when it will work better for our family. For his family.

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grl top twenty

Aug 13, 2010 by

My favorite place in the whole world.


Pink clouds over Cat Ears

This little piece of heaven brings me peace, joy clear down to my little toes, courage to face hard things, and so much more. I am so grateful for these mountains, the frigid water, the moose that wander on the beach in the early morning hours, the wind in the trees, the sunrise over Osborne, the rugged sturdiness of Square Top, the seven little streams on the shady side of the lake, Mill Creek, rainbow trout and the mighty fishermen who catch them, the Sleeping Giant, Clear Creek Meadow, the tradition our family has had for forty years of camping there, the friends who join us, the strangers we meet, and the connection we all feel to this beautiful place.

Here are the Top Twenty from our Green River Lakes camping trip this year – in no particular order!

1. Watching Fisher jump off the bridge all by his little own self AND swim about 20 feet to me.

2. Scott pitching to Fisher.

3. Blythe and Andie’s 14th birthday parties…with 28 people at the first one and 18 people at the second. Plus, we got to eat two different birthday cakes and yummy ice cream. Good thing we have girls with August birthdays so we have a reason to have a big treat up there every year!

Guests at the first party


First Birthday cake



Head scratchers from Grandma
Head scratchers from Grandma

“LIfe is Good” shirts from Grandma


"Life is Good" shirts from Grandma

Annesley and birthday cake

Annesley & birthday cake

Blythe’s Birthday book
Blythe's Birthday book

Blythe’s new “Life is Good” hat
"Life is Good" hat

The second birthday cake

Andie's Birthday cake

Andie’s new battery charger

Andie's new battery charger

4. Setting up camp three times in less than 24 hours.

5. Watching Jared and Fisher catch bugs together for hours on end.

6. Jumping off the bridge, swinging on Scott’s ingenius swing under the bridge, and swimming in the water hole in the river. Courage awards for bridge jumping go to Samuel (4), Fisher (5), Teryn (5), Christian (7), Jaxon (8), Keziah (9), Eve (10), Tiegen (11), Marcus (13), Tod (13), Blythe (14), Andie (14), Scott, Tracy, Camille, Austin, Tonya, Chance (8), Alyssa (11), and Logan. Yes, we are awesome.

Here is Fisher’s whole jumping process:

Watching everyone else jump


Thinking about jumping…how far is it anyway?
Fisher thinking about the bridge

Being lifted over by Uncle Scott


Getting ready to jump

Getting ready to jump

In the air!

In the air!

Coming up out of the water

Coming up out of the water

He made it!

He made it!

In mama’s arms at last!

In mama's arms at last

Andie on the swing


Teryn on the swing

Teryn on the swing


Annesley on the swing


Fisher on Scott's ingenius swing





Camille jumping off the bridge


Camille again


7. Beating Mom and Scott at Rook…I’m sure it is the first and last time that will ever happen.

8. Annesley and Teryn lovin’ on Uncle Logan. Teryn was basically glued on to him the entire time. Uncle Logan made them both bracelets and gave Fisher his own necklace to take care of till he can make one for him as well.



9. Going on a hike all alone with Camille and Tami (and of course, her little cutie, Jace). Yes, Tami came clear from Colorado to camp with us and Camille rearranged her college test schedule so she could be up there when we were there. Thank you guys for making my camping trip wonderful. I love you both!

Our hike was made possible by Tracy, Camille’s oldest, taking eleven children with her on their own hike. What an amazing girl she is!

Tami and Jace

Tami & Jace

10. Discovering my long-lost friend Tonya camped right next to us! It has been 11+ years since we have seen each other and 20 years since I first took her to Green River Lakes. Spotting her walking through the campground is one of the tender mercies God has given me. Thank goodness we decided to canoe across the lake at 6:30 a.m. on our last morning there. Beautiful mountains, good conversation, a bald eagle right above us, and two golden eagles flying nearby.

Tami, Tonya, and Moi

Bald Eagle

Other side of the lake

Golden Eagles

11. Lots of cousin time together…all told we had 21 second and third cousins playing with each other…not including our generation of 1st and 2nd cousins.

Blythe, Andie, and Tod

Blthe, Andie, & Marcus

Eve, Teryn, and Keziah

Annes and Jace

Annesley and Jace



12. Swimming at the Aquatic Center on our way home with Tonya and her adorable family and then being treated to a delicious dinner by her stubborn and insistent husband, Ryan.

13. Keziah climbing on top of our new-to-us-given-to-us forty-year-old camper to put a tarp on top to stop the leaking from the rainstorm our first night there. She should be a mountain climber some day.

14. Playing softball with family and friends and watching Fisher tackle cousins to get the ball in his mitt first. He has come a long way from the shy little boy he used to be.

15. Logan’s dutch oven peach cobbler. Yummm!

16. Grandma playing Garbage with all the kids on her blanket in the shade.

17. Sleeping eight people and all our gear in a camper made for half that many.

18. Scott holding Annesley, Jace, or Taz on an daily hourly basis and helping them be happy while games are played, meals are cooked, or older siblings are attended to. What a great uncle he is!

Scott & Annesley

19. Watching Sadie leap over Mill Creek and dash into the water.

20. Sitting around the campfire at night, seeing shooting stars, gorgeous constellations, and the Milky Way while listening to Scott’s hilarious stories with the people I love most in this world.

21. I couldn’t stop with 20…my favorite thing of all is watching my husband fish with a smile on his face and contentment oozing out of his body. He needs this trip even more than I do and I am so glad he got to fish and catch some big ones.



How many fishing poles can these guys use at one time?


Green River Lakes is not really mine, but it sure feels like it. It is the place I think of when I think of love, family, hope, fun, good meals, growing up, laughing with Camille, and of course, my dear grandparents. I can’t imagine a summer going by without this annual trip. The beauty and the majesty of these mountains is just what I need to get me through another year.

More pics…

Blythe and Grandma

Blythe and Grandma

Keziah and Sadie

Keziah and Sadie

Annesley and the worms

Annesley and the worms

Fisher and Sadie

Fisher and Sadie

Mikelle, Andie, and Kez


Fisher and his papa

Fisher and his papa

The cutest two-year-old ever


Fisher and his catch


Mikelle and Logan


Tami, Teryn, Scott, Christian, the handsome Steevo, Annesley, Fisher, and Richard


Blythe and Andie


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grow the tree you have

Jun 23, 2010 by

I am reading a great book and it has a chapter in it called “Grow the Tree You Got” that gave me some big food for thought today. It talked about a man who had a gorgeous Kentucky black oak tree growing in his yard, but he yearned for an Australian acacia.

Every time he looked at the oak he saw that it didn’t have purple blooms and it didn’t let the sun stream through his yard the way an acacia would. He didn’t appreciate the strong branches of the oak, the beautiful colors of the leaves, the cooling shade it offered to every passerby. He didn’t notice how the oak’s root system nourished younger trees nearby.

The oak cannot do enough to please the man and soon the man doesn’t even see the magnificent tree when he comes home. There is a gift waiting for him in his front yard every single day, but he does not notice it.

From Parking Lot Rules & 75 Other Ideas for Raising Amazing Children by Tom Sturges

He only saw what his tree didn’t have and was not able to appreciate or be grateful for what it did have.

The author applied this to parenting and opened my eyes. He talks about how sometimes we do the same thing to our children. We have expectations, hopes, and desires for a certain child and when we don’t have that child we fail to see the wonderfulness of the child we do have.

I think in some small measure I have done this with my oldest. I have always adored her. She completely changed my life by making me a mother. I nursed her for over three years. I spent years being her mom with no one else around. She was with me every day and we had a delightful time going on walks, discovering bugs, reading for hours and hours, talking to all sorts of strangers on our journeys, going on bike rides, cooking up concoctions she could eat in spite of her allergies. We were completely in love with each other.

But then she grew up and I had more kids and she didn’t have all my attention and she wasn’t like what I thought she would be. I thought she would be like me and well, she wasn’t. She was a tad introverted. She thought artistically, not logically. She felt things deeply, but then she wouldn’t talk about them. She kept her ideas to herself. She wanted to be alone for hours at a time. She didn’t like being the center of attention and I embarrassed her constantly because I simply could not understand that facet of her personality. She was a slow reader. She held grudges. She created worlds in her mind and often went there to live unbeknownst to me who was treating her as if she was still in my home and thought she should interact with us. She had thin, breakable hair that seemed beyond my abilities to do anything with. She had oily skin that needed to be showered, washed, and pampered to stay on an even keel. She didn’t laugh at the same things I laughed at. She didn’t love math the way I love math.

Sometimes I saw these things as huge deficits. Things she didn’t have, couldn’t do, wouldn’t be. But really they were just things I couldn’t understand. They were things that weren’t like me. Things that seemed frustrating because they were out of my realm of experience.

Sometimes I saw them so much I couldn’t see the beauty and the wonder of who she was.

Who she is.

She is passionate about freedom for all of God’s children. She believes in standing up for truth. She has the soul of an artist. She moves with grace to the music of her mind. She has beautiful laughter and a lovely smile. She has the ability to be friends with all sorts of different types of people. She taught herself how to crochet and then makes things…like slippers, headbands, and gloves…just by looking at some and then figuring out how to do them. She is not afraid of doing things imperfectly. She stubbornly does what she sets her mind to. She is an amazing swimmer. She has a lovely body. She taught herself how to sew. She is clear about who she is and what she stands for. She is not afraid to do hard things. She is modest. She is funny. She has a beautiful singing voice. She has a flare for fashion. She has amazing curly hair. She is a great babysitter. She loves the Book of Mormon. She is strong. She is determined. She is resilient. She can draw for hours. She sees beauty that I miss. She is a deep thinker.

She is not me. She is not who I thought she would be.

She is her very own self and I love her.

I need to figure out how to send that message to her on a consistent basis and not focus on what the oak tree lacks.

Grow the tree or the child you have. The one you were given and not the one of your dreams. It will make all the difference.

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Apr 6, 2010 by

Yes, this is one of my weaknesses. Perhaps it has a good side to it as well, but today all I can see is the downside of being impulsive.

Remember the GHO? Well, it turns out the A/C condenser is broken and needs replaced. The radiator needs more work. The grill needs replaced, which means the whole front end of the suburban needs replaced. Today was the day to take it to the shop (actually, yesterday was, but I forgot all about it because of a funeral for a friend from our church) and because they will be working on it for 2-3 days we decided to get a rental car.

Mistake #1: Don’t have a policy that only pays $16.00 a day for rental coverage. Rental cars don’t cost $16 a day.

Okay, back to the story. So, I get the rental car and drive home. Right before my house, I see a hitch on the side of the road. I think “That is the hitch from my suburban, I need to get it.”

Now, is the hitch missing from my suburban? I don’t think so. Is it likely to be my hitch? I don’t think so. Hindsight is a beautiful (but painful) thing.

Mistake #2: Remove all logical thought processes from brain the second I see the hitch.

Sooo, I turn around and drive on the side of the road in my “compact rental car”. Compact is an understatement. It is tiny, low to the ground, and nothing like my suburban which can get out of pretty much anything.

Mistake #3: Drive through the 8 inches of snow we got last night to get Blythe as close as possible to the hitch. Don’t want my girlie to get her pants wet.

Blythe gets out and gets the hitch and then I try to pull on to the road, but there are a lot of cars coming, so I decide to back up. As soon as I start going backwards, the car starts sliding…and sliding…and sliding down the ditch. I am now stuck. Way stuck.

Mistake #4: Trying to solve the problem instead of just waiting till the snow melted, which it did approximately 4 hours later.

A farmer stops by with his big work truck full of tools and says “I’ll pull you out in a jiffy.” What could a stranded girl want more than a rugged, older gentleman with a heap of tools? He got out his chain, hooked it up to his beefy truck and dug out the snow enough to hook it onto the rental car. He says “I’ll just pull you up real gentle to the side of the road.” “Sure thing, buddy,” I think to myself. Next thing I know, the grill flies into the air and an awful tugging sound comes from the front of the car. My car hasn’t budged, but something on it most certainly has.

The support brace underneath the car is bent out at a 90 degree angle from the car and is twisted into some shape that will no longer allow it to fulfill its duty.

Mistake #5: Letting someone hook a chain to the car I am legally responsible for.

After a phone call to my trusty insurance agent who has heard more from me in the past six weeks than he has in the past six years, I learn that my deductible is $500 and I will need to pay it to the rental car company today. FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS for an impulsive act to save the hitch that probably isn’t ours anyway!

What happened to my other life? The life that didn’t have a car accident, a collision with a GHO, and an imcompetent Good Samaritan all in the course of a few short weeks.

What happened to my other brain? The one that could think logically, assess a situation, and make a good decision?

I want those things back.


I can’t afford to be impulsive for another minute.

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fiddler and the gho

Mar 14, 2010 by

Our long awaited trip to SLC was so much fun! Fiddler on the Roof at The Hale Centre Theatre was absolutely amazing!!! If you go, go to the M-W-F cast…Tevye was perfect! But more on that in a minute, I have to tell you how our trip started…

We left at 4:29 a.m – a record for us! We had to be in SLC at my dentist’s office by 8:00 for the final crown fitting…so we had to be up and going mighty early. When I got up at 3:00, Keziah and Arianna were just getting out of the shower and Blythe and Madi were wide awake chatting away! Unheard of! Blythe up at three in the morning?????? How is it even possible? That girl sleeps hard and takes a lllllloooonnnnngggggg time to wake up…they all must have been pretty excited!!

After about 30 minutes on the road I saw a huge creature swooping down on us. I was bracing myself to be picked off the road and felt just like Frodo in The Lord of the Rings as the ringwraiths flew over top of him searching for the ring. All of a sudden a loud THUMP jolted the suburban and I was amazed we were still on the road. I couldn’t see anything, so I thought whatever it was must have glanced off of us…but then I saw feathers sticking up over the front of hood.

I couldn’t reconcile the huge swooping thing, the loud thud and the jolt with the feathers on the hood. They didn’t seem that big to me, so I thought a little bird, or just some of the wing of a bird got stuck on my bug shield. I could not yet picture what the reality was.

I called Richard to tell him what happened and he immediately said, “You hit an owl. You need to stop right now and investigate.” I was NOT thrilled about this information. I started saying “NO, NO! I cannot do this, don’t ask me to do this, I will throw up, I cannot do it, NO, NO, NOOOOOOOO!” He tried to calm me down with logic, saying “Tracy, you have an owl on the front, it could have punctured the radiator, you need to stop right now and find out. If it did damage the radiator, you will run out of coolant and overheat your engine and you will be stuck on the road. I can’t come and get you because I have no car. Please stop and see what happened. More “NO, NO, NO! I cannot do it!”

Then a new thought, “I will get the girls to do it!” When I told the girls my new plan, they all started screaming, “NO, NO, NO! It’s disgusting!”

Then Richard says “Tracy, it is a felony to kill an owl, you can’t just drive to SLC with an owl on the front of your vehicle, you will be pulled over and fined.”

Hmmmm…hard decision.

Now, maybe it wouldn’t be too hard for many of you. But, me? I have a very strong gag reflex and once I start throwing up I don’t stop. I knew if I got out and dealt with the creature that I would start that whole process and we wouldn’t make it to SLC in time for my dentist appointment because I would have to keep stopping to throw up. I would get vomit all over my clothes. I would be sick all day and probably not even be able to go to the play.

I pleaded with the girls to get out and solve the problem, but they were all vehemently opposed. They flat out refused!

I kept driving, kept talking to Richard, and kept thinking of a solution, ANY solution.

I finally decided to call Tina and beg her to save me. I woke her up at 5:15 and started to explain the situation. This angel of a woman interrupted me and said “Come right up, we’ll take care of it.”

When we got there, Rob had his headlamp, gloves, and garbage sack ready. They both wrinkled up their faces in disgust at the sight of it, but got right to work and pulled the giant thing off of there. The body was two feet tall and the wing span was between four and five feet…and yes, there were two lovely horns. (All of this was seen by Blythe who got out to watch the removal process. I, of course, did not exit my vehicle until it was all cleaned up.)

The radiator was leaking, but we determined it was from not getting any airflow because the Great Horned Owl GHO was covering the front of the vehicle.

We hurried on our way after hugs and much gratitude to our heroes and we made it to the dentist just 10 minutes late…pretty good after our crazy adventure!

After the crown placement, we went window shopping over in Sugarhouse. The big girls had lots of fun trying loads of shoes on at Nordstrom Rack, the little girls picked out matching $12 outfits at Old Navy and we all had fun laughing and trying things on together.

Then, it was time for Fiddler. Madi and Anna had never been to the Hale Centre Theatre, so Blythe and Keziah took them all over showing them the wonders of the place. I have never seen four girls so excited to see a play. Their eyes were shining with excitement and their smiles were full of joy.

When Tevye came out for the opening scene, I knew it was going to be a fabulous play. I had been nervous that Tevye wouldn’t be just right and it would ruin the whole thing for me, but he was FABULOUS! He seemed like he was born for this role.

Madi and Anna were enthralled with the moving stage and everyone was completely engrossed in the play. Golde was a wonderful overbearing wife and mother, the matchmaker had the perfect accent, the set was splendid, and the whole cast put on a treat of a show. If there is any way, any way at all, go to it, it is totally worth it. I think you will love it!

Keziah was certain that Chava was being played by the same actress that played “Little Red” in Into the Woods and she was right! It is always fun to see our favorite actors and actresses in other plays.

After the play, we went to The Old Spaghetti Factory for some yummy spinach tortellini, spaghetti with mizithra cheese, pesto dressing, and spumoni ice cream. The waiters sang “Happy Birthday” to Anna, surprising the daylights out of her. We talked all about the play, our favorite parts, who we would want to be, and our thoughts on matchmaking. SO FUN!

The girls all wanted to go to Bliss to try on dresses, so we got on the freeway and made our way for Ogden. They loved looking at the gowns and tried on their favorites. Lovely princesses, all of them!

After getting some gas, we headed for home. We snacked on bagels, triscuits, bananas, and Snickers bars and listened to Les Miserables from Focus on the Family.

What a fabulous day – all the girls said it was one of the best days of their lives.

I know it is a day I will always treasure…sometimes a girls day is just what is needed to fill the soul and remind us that life IS good.

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human doings

Jan 13, 2010 by

Human Doings.

I recently read this phrase on a TJEd discussion board and instantly fell in love with it. It will become a fabulous way for me to remember that I am a being, not a doing.

What exactly are we teaching our children when we value results, actions, and behavior instead of patience, forgiveness, and tenacity? Now, I am not saying any of us actually make a conscious choice to value the former over the latter, but perhaps we do it with our actions. Perhaps?

When we praise the child with straight A’s and the child who struggles is left with a cursory “good job” we have spoken our priorities loud and a clear. When we finish a child’s project for them because they are taking sooooo long, I think we send a message of results, not process, adult excellence, not childhood attempts. When we want children to sit still and stop wiggling this very minute, we might be sending the message that their holding still behavior is far more important than anything else. When finishing gets more glory than learning how to work, learning how to figure something out, or learning what failure feels like, children learn very quickly that results are all that are important.

I was raised with the phrase “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” While I agree that that is a true statement, I also know from firsthand experience that it is paralyzing. If you cannot do something well, where does it leave you? If you don’t have time to do it well right this minute, what are you to do then?

I have come to love the phrase “Anything worth doing well is worth doing poorly at first.” It conveys to me that I don’t have to do everything well. I certainly don’t have to do everything – or anything for that matter – perfectly. If it is worth doing well, then it is worth the time it takes to learn how to do it. It is worth the effort of watching others, reading books, practicing, disciplining, trying different approaches, asking questions, and keeping on keeping at it. It is worth it!

I have told myself for years that I cannot sew. I am quite handicapped in this area, that is true. BUT, as I have embraced the mantra of  “Anything worth doing well is worth doing poorly at first,” I have decided to keep trying, to reach out to others that can help me, and to not beat myself up for my less than stellar results.

And guess what? I have made some pretty cute things! My children’s deluxe pencil rolls turned out adorable AND they love them. Love them to pieces. They use them all the time and they show them to their friends with pride in their voices. I have made a few things for friends that are beloved by them, perhaps because they know how much love, unpicking, and hair pulling went into sewing them. I have decided to keep trying even though it is really hard for me.

I want my children to know I adore them because they are children of God. They are mine. They are lovable. It doesn’t really matter to me what they do – it matters to me who they are. But even if they become someone I don’t like because of what they do OR who they are, I want them to know I will still love them. I want them to really learn that anything worth doing well is worth doing poorly at first. I want them to be willing to try new things even if they aren’t very good at them. I want them to know that their value is so not dependent on what they do.

I think its time to change the song “I Am a Child of God.” You know the part about “teach me all that I must do?” I think it should be “teach me all that I must be.” Should I try to change it?

Being. Becoming. I think that is what this life is all about.


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completely unasked for advice

Dec 15, 2009 by

As I was driving Blythe to seminary this morning, my mind filled up with all sorts of things I have learned as a mother that I could share with you. None of these things are critical or life-changing (okay, they might be a little life-changing!), but they are things I have found that make mothering easier and more enjoyable.

  • 1. Buy high quality winter gear in gender neutral styles. This way when you buy coats, gloves, hats, and boots you can pass them down to all subsequent children. Get good stuff that will keep your children warm…don’t be tempted by the stuff at Wal-mart or Shopko. Go for good brands like L.L. Bean, Patagonia, and Land’s End…and of course, buy them at thrift stores! Don’t ever actually pay those prices, just search for good stuff at cheap prices. As an example, my friend, Stephanie, bought a $75 Patagonia fleece at DI last week for $4!
  • 2. Shop at thrift stores. Do not be tempted to buy your children new stuff because you can find better stuff for far cheaper at thrift stores. Our favorites? Savers, Once Upon a Child, Kid to Kid, and the winter store up in Victor. DI is okay and sometimes you can find great stuff there, but lots of times the stuff is VERY worn out by the time it gets to DI.
  • 3. Get outside as much as you can during the spring, summer, and fall because winter will come and it will be cold. On those warm summer days when you want to read a book, go to the park instead…or take your book with you!
  • 4. Play outside a lot in the winter. Go sledding, skating, walking, build a snow fort, etc. Your children will think you are totally cool if you spend time playing with them outdoors.
  • 5. Use the resources of your library liberally. Use it to expose your children to an endless array of subjects that you don’t have in your home and don’t want to purchase. Check out audio books every week. Children can get through TONS more books that way. Use inter-library loan.
  • 6. When you are in a busy or exhausted time of life (for me it is pregnancy/newborn period) only check out books that you are willing to buy because there is a good chance you will have to buy them when you lose them and don’t have the time, energy, or brainpower to find them. This may seem to contradict #5, but it does not. I certainly don’t want to buy a book from the library that is mind candy, poorly illustrated, or just plain worthless because when it does eventually turn up I don’t want it to stay in my house.
  • 7. A bag of balloons brings weeks full of fun.
  • 8. Buy hardbound books whenever you can.
  • 9. Buy clothes out of season.
  • 10. Only have one towel for each person in your family. Make them different colors so that it is obvious whose towel is whose. This way you know who left their towel on the floor and whose towel is missing from the swimming bag. Cuts way back on the amount of laundry!
  • 11. Make breakfast for dinner sometimes.
  • 12. Build a fort and read books in it with your children.
  • 13. Make music a huge part of your home with singing, instruments, dancing, history of composers. Every thing goes better accompanied by music.
  • 14. Smile.
  • 15. Use Don Aslett’s toilet cleaning routine.
  • 16. Go camping.
  • 17. Have lots of art supplies in your home and encourage children (and yourself) to create.
  • 18. Learn to play an instrument. It is a great example to your children and will help you grow.
  • 19. When you find a great price on something you use frequently, stock up!
  • 20. Invite people over for dinner.
  • 21. Make traditions that you really are committed to doing so that you are excited about doing them again and again and again. Make sure your traditions build your family, bring you to God, or serve others.
  • 22. Do hard things. Not only is it good for you, it teaches your children to follow in your path.
  • 23. Avoid plastic, electronic toys. They break, they limit creativity, they are loud and annoying, and they do not build the soul. Invest in high quality play things that a wide variety of ages can use…like wooden unit blocks, play silks, zip lines, kick sleds, musical instruments, books, and cloth dolls.
  • 24. Make things from scratch. It is cheaper, healthier, and teaches children that food does not come from a box.
  • 25. Take your children swimming frequently so they are comfortable in the water.
  • 26. If your child’s friend has a birthday, your child can make or buy a gift, not you! I am always amazed at the extravagance of birthdays today where mothers are buying $20+ presents and the birthday child has a pile of gifts that have nothing to do with the relationship between them and their friend. I for one refuse to participate.
  • 27. Make playdough from scratch. It is softer, smells better, and children love it!

Well, that is all for now, I must get back to hand sewing!

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pencil rolls on their way!

Dec 1, 2009 by

Hallelujah! The pencil roll project has been a huge success! The pencil rolls have been coming in all month long, but the last few days have been the jackpot with 70 coming in on Sunday, 132 coming in on Monday, and 66 coming in today! Simply amazing!

The families that have participated in this project have given their time, money, materials, and hearts to the children of Katie’s school. They have shown me what a small group of willing women can do…I tell you we can do anything! We can make a difference. We can work together. We can touch lives, soften hearts, and bring joy.

There are people involved in this project that I have never met, people that I know and see regularly, and people who live far away. We have volunteers from Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Alaska, and England! We have seamstresses of all ages, from girls under ten to grandmas over 70, and all abilities, from beginner all the way to professional. We have papas that watched babies so mamas could sew. We have people that donated fabric, sewed on buttons, delivered pencil rolls, and created patterns. We have a small army of volunteers who have taught me how to be give more selflessly. I counted up our volunteers and there are over 60 people who directly helped. One small blog, written by one mother in Idaho, has brought all of this goodness together to create something magical!

Here are some pics of the 516 (yes, we made it to 500!) pencil rolls:

Pencil Rolls 2

Pencil Rolls


Look at this cute inside fabric! It is pencils! Isn’t that adorable? You can get it at Hancock Fabrics.Roll with pencil fabric

And here is one of my pencil rolls I did by my very own self. I truly am sewing challenged and I’m sure my rolls took me ten times longer than they would have taken someone who is not inept in this area, but I did it and did lots of them. It was a wonderful project for me to overcome my fear of sewing and I improved a lot by the time I was done. Thanks to my mom, I learned how to sew buttons on with my machine!!! Hoorah!My pencil roll

I just took them to the shipping office and after repacking them into one big box from my three boxes and then repacking them AGAIN into a slightly smaller box (It was quite the sight, to have me inside a huge box on the floor, surrounded by pencil rolls, as I loaded up stack after stack of them! Why so many repackings you ask? Well, my three boxes would have cost about $120 with FedEx and $160 with the USPS with UPS somewhere in the middle, so we tried to save moo-lah by repacking them into one box, which was then a tad too big, so we repacked again, and got the price all the way down to 90 buckaroos.) they are on their way to Tennessee and then on to Uganda!

Thank you to all of you. Thank you for your sacrifices, your love, and your generosity. I pray that you will be blessed. I ask that you join me in prayer that our gifts will make it to Uganda in safety and that they will bring happiness to the children of Katie’s school.

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100 things

Nov 11, 2009 by

I have been blogging for a little over 6 months now and I have to say I love it. I love having a place to put my thoughts for the world to see. I need a place to process, create, and share and this has been the perfect answer to fill those needs. I love hearing from my readers on how things have touched them or how they relate to something I have written. It is a tad bit addicting for me, so I have tried to keep it in balance and will need to keep working on that one!

I have arrived at my 100th post and have been motivated by fellow bloggers to share 100 things about myself, in case you didn’t already know everything about me! These are in no particular order…just random thoughts off the top of my head.

  • 1. I love the number seven and even named one of my children the number seven in Hebrew. I was born on the 7th, at 7:00, weighed 7 lbs., and my mom pushed me out for seven minutes. Seven is the most holy and perfect number in Hebrew and I love that I started out with a string of them.
  • 2. I love cantaloupe.
  • 3. I cannot sew worth a darn. It is the most frustrating thing in the world to me…and yet, here I am doing a huge sewing project for children in Uganda!
  • 4. I love to read. I could spend my life reading if I didn’t have children. Thankfully God knew I needed to get my head out of the books and gave me some children that need fed, held, and loved on.
  • 5. I once cooked pancakes on a cookie sheet. On top of the stove. Of course, the flame burned right through. Lovely.
  • 6. I am 35 years old and can still do a back handspring. In fact I did one at gym this week.
  • 7. Our house burned down when we had been married just 8 weeks.
  • 8. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology. It took me a long time to get it…I was a senior when Blythe was born and it took me another four years to graduate.
  • 9. I love to sing at the top of my lungs. I spent my entire childhood singing and driving my family bonkers. I remember my brothers pleading with my mother to please. make. me. be. quiet. right. this. instant. This does not mean I am a good singer…just a passionate one.
  • 10. I used to be extremely competitive and am guilty of jumping over people and desks to hand in assignments first. I HAD to always have my papers in first AND get 100% on them or I would be devastated.
  • 11. On that same line of thinking, I scored an A++++ in outside reading in the fourth grade. There was this little chart for every 100 pages a child read. The teacher had to make a new chart because I filled mine up so fast. Nuts, truly, I was nuts.
  • 12. I have been breastfeeding for over 11 years of my life. Well, that doesn’t count the time my mom breastfed me as an infant, so over 12 years with that. I am hoping my chances for breast cancer are at 0% with all those months of estrogen reduction working for my benefit. If you throw in pregnancies, I have been either gestating or nursing for 170 months of my adult life, which is 14.16 years. We have been married 16 years.
  • 13. I have had four wonderful and very different home births.
  • 14. I love Hebrew and I cannot make the gutteral sounds that are critical to correct pronunciation.
  • 15. I use cloth diapers and love them.
  • 16. I also use cloth pads and a Keeper menstrual cup…love them too!
  • 17. I have a very weak set of Kegel muscles and cannot stop from peeing my pants if I laugh very hard. I have probably had over 1000 accidents in my life. When I was a teenager and packing for our family reunions, I would always bring about 15 outfits for the 3 day trip because Camille and Tami would make me laugh so hard I would go through lots of outfits every day.
  • 18. Speaking of Camille and Tami…they are my cousins and also my best friends. I have been blessed with their love, support, laughter, and encouragement for the last 30+ years. They have held me when I cried, driven hours and hours to visit me, loved my children, called me in the middle of the night, given me lots of massages, brought me delicious food, sang “Families Can Be Together Forever,” and been the best “women” friends anyone could ever ask for. I used to think this was normal, but now I realize how rare it is to have two such precious friends to walk this journey of life with. We will be friends forever and I can just see us when we are all 90…we will still be laughing and staying up all night playing games as we enjoy each other’s great-grandchildren.
  • 19. I am extremely spontaneous. I will do pretty much anything on the spur of the moment, including setting off on trips, completely rearranging my entire house, starting a huge Africa project, starting to play the cello, or an endless list of other adventures I have taken my family on. My husband is a planner and a list maker and I pretty much drive him bonkers. But he is used to me now…and he adores me.
  • 20. I hate schedules and plans…see #19 above.
  • 21. I can eat 1/2 gallon of ice cream in one sitting and have done it many times.
  • 22. I rarely make my bed.
  • 23. I love fabric and it is a problem because I can’t sew. See #3 above.
  • 24. I ride a recumbent high-racer.
  • 25. I hate putting laundry away and rarely do it.
  • 26. I love Keen, Chaco, and Dansko shoes.
  • 27. I have wide, ugly, very-high arched, hobbit feet. See #26 above.
  • 28. I have a uni-brow that needs continuous maintenance to adhere to the standards of feminine beauty.
  • 29. My favorite place in the world is Green River Lakes.
  • 30. My other favorite place is in my husband’s arms and if I had to choose between GRL and his arms, I would choose his arms.
  • 31. I am a doula and have helped families birth their babies for the last 13 years. I love it and know that God called me to this sacred work.
  • 32. I have caught one breech baby.
  • 33. I am loud and obnoxious. (However, I am not loud and obnoxious at births, but believe it is a holy experience that I am to nurture and help all to experience at whatever level they are ready for.)
  • 34. I believe agency is a foundational principle and is the defining factor between good and evil. We must choose who we are, what we are made of, and how we will treat others. Programs of compulsion, manipulation, and non-thinking do not develop the best that is within us and we do not progress as children of God when we are forced into anything, especially so called goodness. For it to truly be good, it must be chosen.
  • 35. I take my children to the library every week.
  • 36. I treasure my friends and I have a lot of them.
  • 37. I love the Old Testament, the Jewish culture, and everything about Hebrew.
  • 38. I am fairly obsessed with both the Revolutionary War and WWII.
  • 39. My parents divorced when I was 12. To say that it changed my life forever is a severe understatement. It completely altered my perceptions of who I was, what reality was, what was truth, and what family meant. I think I am recovered now, but sometimes things still come up.
  • 40. I cut or burn myself pretty much every time I am cooking. I have the scars to prove it. I think I could make money on America’s Funniest Home Videos if I just left a camera running all the time in my kitchen.
  • 41. I scream with joy, fear, excitement, and shock on a regular basis.
  • 42. I love old things.
  • 43. My grandmother taught me all I need to know to get to heaven.
  • 44. My mother is the most hilarious person ever.
  • 45. I use honey for my sweetener.
  • 46. I love honeycrisp apples.
  • 47. I used to have a lot of functioning brain cells and could remember what I needed to do each day. Now I have children and not a day goes by without me forgetting something important.
  • 48. I love quotes that stir my soul.
  • 49. I love sleeping in a tent.
  • 50. I could live outside, especially at Green River Lakes.
  • 51. I have not ridden in an airplane since I was 18 and that was only my 2nd trip.
  • 52. I have only been to California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, South Dakota, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Minnesota. All of those except CA and NV were before I was married.
  • 53. I can say all the states in alphabetical order…thanks mom for the songs and games growing up.
  • 54. I can say the alphabet backwards pretty darn fast. Ditto to mom.
  • 55. I have four living children and nine children who haven’t made it to our arms.
  • 56. I have a bad habit of thinking I am right.
  • 57. I cannot grow a garden, in fact, I can’t even keep a plant alive (although the peace lily Sommer gave me for my birthday is still, at this very minute, alive!). I do keep trying. I think it is something about schedules and structure being needed…
  • 58. I am willing to drive across the country to get things I need. Chickens, dogs, fresh air?
  • 59. I have driven home from Boise with 100 chickens in my suburban with the windows down the whole way so that my children and I could breathe.
  • 60. I have broken more dishes and glassware than should be humanly possible.
  • 61. I exploded a pyrex casserole dish by putting it on my flat ceramic stove top that was still turned on high. (Do you have any idea how much glass is in an 11 x 15 pyrex casserole dish? Months later we were still finding glass.)
  • 62. I hate flat ceramic stove tops. Give me gas and 20,000 BTU’s any day.
  • 63. When I am asleep I like to be straight with the room. I cannot be at an angle with the walls. Except right now our bed is at a perfect 45 degree angle, and that is okay, it is like I am the hypotenuse of the triangle.
  • 64. Even though I rarely make my bed, I like my covers to be perfectly orderly when I get into bed.
  • 65. Did I mention my husband adores me? Truly. I don’t know why and I certainly don’t deserve it, but he adores me clear down to his little toes and his love has changed my life forever.
  • 66. I have 3 brothers and 1 sister…all of them very different from one another.
  • 67. I frequently lock myself out of my car. I just did it for the fourth time in 2009 on Tuesday.
  • 68. I can still fit into my wedding dress.
  • 69. I cook from scratch and have no clue how to cook like a mainstream American woman. I have never used a cake mix, don’t do cream of chicken soup casseroles, and always use real ingredients. Chemicals don’t cut it for me.
  • 70. I use freshly ground whole wheat flour. I prefer white wheat. I also like spelt, kamut, oat, quinoa, and amaranth.
  • 71. I love Bruce’s Cereal from Kitchen Kneads in Ogden.
  • 72. I stick my foot in my mouth frequently, but I rarely mean offense.
  • 73. I love C.S. Lewis’ writing.
  • 74. I spend hours researching pretty much everything.
  • 75. I love 100% cotton handmade quilts. I wish I could quilt and create all the amazing ideas I have in my mind.
  • 76. I do not believe in compulsory schooling.
  • 77. I am passionate about the Constitution.
  • 78. I scored a 5 on the AP History test in High School.
  • 79. I really dislike running, but I have always wanted to like it.
  • 80. My children throw up profusely…which is why we have leather for our vehicle and our furniture.
  • 81. I love Thai food.
  • 82. I once punched Richard’s boss. Repeatedly.
  • 83. I have been given more love by family and friends than I deserve. Also, more money, food, gifts, and patience.
  • 84. There was a period of my life where I stopped crying. For years. I am so glad that part of me is turned back on and now I cry on regular basis.
  • 85. I could have easily been a bottle-propping, go to work, give the baby to someone else kind of mother because of my selfishness. Thankfully, I researched breastfeeding and attachment parenting ad nauseum so that my mind could overcome my character flaw.
  • 86. At one time I decided I was not going to get married or have children. I was going to get a PhD and do important things without a man telling me what to do. God intervened and patiently taught me where my joy would come from.
  • 87. I love the Arbinger Institute’s approach to human relations.
  • 88. I believe each person has a mission to accomplish here on earth and that God is helping us individually to prepare for and carry out that work.
  • 89. I have a hard time with restraint. In fact, I don’t really know how to restrain myself. I get an idea and I go with it without really stopping to assess how nonsensical, difficult, or inconvenient it might be.
  • 90. I am completely fed up with both the Democrat and the Republican parties. I don’t believe a word either of them say and wish a sinkhole would swallow Washington D.C. and all the other power centers of the world.
  • 91. I understand why people are drawn to the peace, love, and utopia worldviews. It sounds good…it just doesn’t work with human nature.
  • 92. I love eating popcorn while curling up with a good book.
  • 93. I love Sudoko puzzles. I actually love all sorts of puzzles.
  • 94. I am an “Anne with an E” girl.
  • 95. I try to drink 3-4 quarts of water a day.
  • 96. I love smoothies made with parsley and pineapple.
  • 97. I am a touching person and probably bother people who aren’t by invading their personal space.
  • 98. I love sweaters and funky socks and can’t wait for winter to wear them. (Though I hate nursing in sweaters and this is a problem!)
  • 99. I meet people and become friends with new people everywhere I go. My husband and children are used to this and aren’t even surprised anymore when I introduce them to someone “just like me” that I just met at the grocery store. I can see something in their eyes, connect with their soul, and know we are meant to be friends. Does that happen to you?
  • 100. I wish I lived up to all my ideals of who and what a daughter of God is, but I struggle everyday with the basics and don’t know if I will ever be who He created me to be. I hope so though.

Whew! That took some time! Did you make it all the way?

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two weeks out

Oct 19, 2009 by

It has been two weeks since the first sign of spotting. It is both disturbing and comforting to see that life goes on. It just keeps going on as normal for the rest of the world and even for me in many ways. Children need fed, dishes need washed, classes need taught, books need read, friends need nurtured, and the endless list of commitments doesn’t let up. It is almost as if this little life that was inside of me has been gone for ages. As I was contemplating this thought this weekend, I was depressed about it. I thought “It has only been 12 days and I don’t want life to just go on, I want to memorialize this baby, this journey. I want to shout it from the rooftops that my babies have lived and died.”

Another part of me does want life to go on. It is familiar. It is what I do. It is busy and distracting and fulfilling and a myriad of other things. I know life cannot stop because I had a miscarriage. I know many people don’t view it the same as the death of an already born human being. I know, I know, I know. I have done this over and over and I totally get that people have no idea what to say, people are too busy to even think of it after a few days, and life just goes on. It does. I get that and yet…I needed to do something to mark this passage of my life. I didn’t know what to do. I was at a loss. I wanted a way to remember.

In walks a miracle.

My friend, Jessica, gave me the most perfect gift ever. She had an etsy seller make me a miscarriage necklace that is simply precious.

I love it.

I mean, I really, really love it.

I am not a jewelry person, but lately I have been drawn to jewelry that speaks to my soul. My mother gave me a Crowning Necklace for my birthday last year and I treasure it. I wear it often and make sure I have it on when I want to be more me. It helps me feel more alive, more hopeful, and more grounded. I am stronger and surer when I wear it.

The necklace Jessica gave me is perfect. It has nine shimmery crystals on it for each of our nine babies that have come into my womb and never made it into our arms. I don’t want to take it off. It is the exact thing I would have chosen if I had had the presence of mind to be able to figure out what I needed; it is a symbol of their souls, it is exquisitely beautiful, and it allows me to share my story or not depending on my mood and current emotional state.

I know, absolutely know, she was guided by God to have this gift made for me, because He knew exactly what I needed to move forward with peace in my heart.

Miscarriage Necklace

Thank you Jessica – thanks for listening.

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Oct 17, 2009 by

This week I have been overcome with feelings that I am finding hard to put words to. These are such strong experiences though, I feel I must share.

I was asked months ago to mentor a discussion on The Lord of the Rings for a group of homeschooled youth and this week we finally met. I have been excited to share and learn together with these youth, but I had no idea what I would feel as I was there. First, we picked up another girl to ride with us to the discussion and as she and Blythe chatted on the drive the thought came to my mind, “you are so blessed to be able to spend your days involved with youth who are happy, excited about learning, and are discussing REAL ideas, instead of what movie is playing or the latest gossip of the world.”

Then, at the discussion, the youth had such great comments on leadership, friendship, journeys, fighting evil, how to prepare for our own missions, comparisons between The Lord of the Rings and Pilgrim’s Progress (really, how many youth are reading Pilgrim’s Progress today?) and a conviction that anyone, anyone at all, even themselves can change the world. We discussed so many wonderful ideas and they shared themselves with me in a way that touched me deeply. They had important ideas about their reading of this book and they let them out and shared them. Part of it felt very normal because I experience this often, but part of it felt very surreal because I think it is fairly uncommon in this busy, technological, adult-teenager-angst world.

That night I came home to a dinner made by my husband for our anniversary. He had come home early from work and made dinner while I was gone to the discussion – complete surprise to me! We still had one of the youth from the discussion with us and she and her father ended up sharing our meal. It was lovely to share our anniversary dinner (which we always do as a family because it is the day our family was created, not just the day we were married) with friends who are on this same path of learning together as families.

Once again, I thought how blessed I am to have such a simple, wonderful life.

Then…and this is the kicker…I taught gymnastics on Friday. Each week I teach 70 homeschooled students to do donkey kicks, monkey jumps, cartwheels, and back handsprings. That day, I received at least 20 giant bear hugs, some kisses, a lot of smiles, and tons of great energy. One particular girl was working on vaulting. I knew she could do a tuck-on all the way up onto the horse, but she didn’t think she could. I had her try again and again and again. Each time she landed on her knees. By her fourth or fifth try, all the parents and lots of the children were watching her, all encouraging her and hoping she would get it. She DID and the whole gym cheered for her. Most importantly, she gave me a huge smile and I could tell she had conquered her fear and was proud of herself. She had learned she could do hard things. As I went through each class, several more events like this happened and a powerful feeling washed over me…it was something like this…

“You are changing lives. You are helping these children to know who they are and what they can be. You are an instrument in My hands to love, to build, and to know these children. Give them your heart and it will provide them with strength and courage in the days to come. You are not just their gym teacher, you are their friend. Do not take their love lightly, as it is precious and life-giving.”

These words do not completely capture the feeling, but they give you a sense of it.

What a blessing to know these children and to be able to share their lives with them. I will do better to remember this and the effect I can have.

Looking back, I can remember people in my childhood that greatly influenced me…until this week I never truly realized I could be that person for someone else’s children.

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sixteen years

Oct 15, 2009 by

Today is our sixteenth wedding anniversary. We have been through fires, broken bones, job losses, deaths of loved ones, huge changes in philosophies, broken-down vehicles, despicable dinners, car rides full of puking, fourteen moves, sleepless nights, and lots of joy along the way.

When I think of the man I married, I am humbled to my core. Richard is good. Just plain good. He is kind, patient, loving, self-sacrificing, hard-working, easy-to-please, smart, creative, spiritual, understanding, funny, nurturing, a great listener, dedicated to our marriage and our children, forgiving, long-suffering, and laid-back. He thinks he is boring. I think he is stable. He thinks he is unattractive. I think he is the most adorable thing ever.

He is the best thing that ever happened to me.

By a long ways.

He loves me more than I ever dreamed possible.

He takes care of me mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually (not that he can do my spiritual work for me, just that he supports me in it and helps me to see the truth of God’s power, love, and plan).

He always puts my needs and my wants first.

He has taught me what love means and what I need to do to be loving.

He forgives me for all my faults and helps me to overcome them…not by pointing them out, correcting me, nagging me, or getting frustrated with me, but by loving me and helping me see his vision of me and God’s vision of me. Of us.

We are united in our decisions of how we raise our family. This means the world to me. I have some pretty out-of-the-mainstream ideas and we get educated on them together and push forward together.

He trusts me.

He likes my family.

He makes popcorn for me late at night and doesn’t complain when I eat it in bed curled up with a good book.

He walks the path of creating babies with me. He doesn’t see pregnancy as something I should do alone, but as something we get to do together. He is there with me every step of the way, as I throw up day after day and have pains and cramps and sheer exhaustion and cravings and insanities and back labor and mastitis and a damaged body and tears and you get the point, right? He has been with me through nine miscarriages and all the anger, frustration, sadness, grief, denial, treatments, hopes, and heartaches that have accompanied them. He has been my number one support during our home births and pushes on my back for hours while filling my ears with love and encouragement. He believes in my ability to grow and birth our babies. In spite of the fact we were told we would never be able to have children and have lost lots of them; somehow he continues to believe we have more babies that we will figure out a way to get here. He is always ready for more little ones and is the best “papa” ever.

He thinks I am cute. In fact, he thinks I am beautiful. He even says he loves my body – how amazing is that? I mean, I have a mirror I can look at it and see that it’s not so great, but he really, really loves every single inch of me.

He is always trying to improve himself.

He is so incredibly patient with my foibles, my idiosyncracies, my poor housekeeping, my lack of organization, my temper, my clutter, my love of books, my passions, my life as a doula, my sins, and my sorrows.

His eyes change when he looks at me. They become softer, deeper, and more alive. I love that about him. I can instantly tell if he is “with” me or not by how his eyes respond when he looks my way.

He believes in my dreams and makes them his own. He does everything he can to make my dreams come true.

He is a great fisherman.

He writes me love letters…like this one. And lots of others that are far too wonderful to be published to the world.

He is a fabulous cook and creates things with bizarre ingredients that turn out delicious.

He cooks most of the important meals in our home…like Christmas Eve, Valentine’s Day, our anniversary, and every single Sunday dinner.

He doesn’t get mad at me when I lock myself out of my car…again and again and yes, again.

He sacrifices a LOT so I can serve families as a doula. He completely supports me in this calling and knows it is more than what I do, it is who I am. He brings our babies to me to nurse in the middle of the night. Our dates are often interrupted. Our vacations, weekends, daily schedule, EVERYTHING we do and everything I am needed for is up in the air when I am on call for a birth. My mind and heart are often so involved in a family’s pregnancy that it is hard for me to emotionally have anything left for him…and yet, he is patient. He knows I will return. He knows I will put him first as soon as I can and that truly, he is first in my life and heart.

He builds cool things for our children…like the kick sled I wanted, but couldn’t afford, a toolbench for Keziah, an awesome loft bed for Blythe, and a bow and arrow for Fisher. He can usually come up with some way to make me what I want for them.

He leads our home in righteousness.

He teaches family home evening.

He reads the scriptures to us and teaches us the doctrines of the gospel.

He gives us blessings.

He takes the garbage out.

He stays up late and listens to me even when he is exhausted.

He takes me to the temple.

He is easy to cook for and compliments anything I make.

He snuggles with our children.

He goes swimming with us even though he hates to swim.

He reads books to our children.

He lets me fall asleep in his arms even though it makes him hot and uncomfortable.

He buys me ice cream.

He likes to chop wood.

He likes learning.

He gives me wonderful full-body massages.

He dreams of being a physicist.

He cleans out the fridge of all the disgusting leftovers we have forgotten about and now I can’t bear to look at them and definitely can’t open the containers to throw them away without puking…so he does it for me. Amazing, isn’t he?

He rocks our babies at night.

He doesn’t give up on me.

He is a fabulous kisser…and his hugs, ahhhh, they are THE best.

He doesn’t make fun of me – even when I make a fool of myself.

He makes me laugh. Humor is one of the most important things in a marriage and he brings me smiles and laughter day after day.

He is my yoke-mate.

I am so grateful to be his. He took a big risk in marrying me. I was determined to be a working girl and to get my PhD. I wanted to do “important” things with my life and that didn’t really include spending my days with children. In addition, I was pretty messed up psychologically after my parent’s divorce and didn’t trust men at all. I couldn’t cook, sew, create a home, nurture a baby, or any of those other skills it is helpful to have in a wife. And yet…he knew. He knew we were supposed to be together and that it would all work out in the end. He trusted that feeling and let God work a miracle in changing my heart to become the woman he knew was buried down deep inside of me. I am so grateful he gave me a chance, well, LOTS of chances.

To give my heart to him fully and to have him entrust his heart to me is the greatest blessing of my life. There is no other place I would rather be than by his side, working our way through this life together.

Happy Anniversary – I love you.

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benefit #three-million-and-one

Sep 16, 2009 by

I love homeschooling. I love learning together as a family. I love seeing the fruits of our labors. Sometimes those fruits have been a little hard to find. There has been a harvest all along, but there have also been hard days. Days when I wonder how I can adequately teach my children what they need to know. Days, weeks, months, and years when I wonder if what I have been led to do is actually going to pay off in the end. If it is going to work and if so, WHEN!?!

Well, I am hitting the harvest season. Kind of like when you get those first bits of lettuce in your garden in early summer, and then you get some peas, and then you get some beans, and then cucumbers, and then whole garden is FULL of deliciousness and you wonder “how did this happen – look at all this food!?!”

After years of struggling with reading and writing and any requirements placed on her at all, my oldest daughter is embracing learning. She is relishing in it. She wants to plan out her days of study time so she can make sure she fits it all in – this is completely new as she has resisted schedules from the day she was born. She is in love with reading and writing. She is asking for help with spelling, punctuation, grammar, and definitions. She is reading constantly. She is studying Shakespeare. She is writing papers. She is writing a book. In fact, several books. She is full of ideas and she can’t wait to get them down on paper. She wrote a paper for her Shakespeare class today full of original thinking and then she re-wrote it to make it look nice. She cares about her handwriting. She cares about her spelling. She wants others to be able to understand her ideas. She loves discussing the scriptures at her seminary class. She creates worlds with maps, languages, and characters from another time. She is wishing there were more hours in the day so she can study more. She is thinking and growing and learning and she is happy about it.

I could not have required this child to learn any of this. I had to wait until she was hungry for it. I had to wait until her brain and her heart were united in a desire and a readiness to learn. Now, I can’t stop her. Now, I have to take away her books, take away her flashlight, and force her to go to bed. Now, it is easy to teach her.

My younger daughter is obsessed with the multiplication tables right now. She loves to work out math problems and is trying to learn all her multiplication facts in the next 10 days. She reads to me everyday. We read The Book of Mormon together and are also reading The Secret Garden and All-of-a-Kind Family. She is progressing quickly in violin and gets up everyday and practices right off the bat.

As a homeschooling mother I have had to learn how their different brains work. They are as different as can be and it is a struggle to know how to best meet their very different needs. But after years of working with them, the fruits are showing up. They both love to learn and know they can do hard things.

I knew this day would come, but now that it is here it is still a delightful surprise – just like that juicy peach or full-of-flavor tomato are when we realize we have grown something delicious.

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happy birthday grandma

Sep 3, 2009 by

Today is (didn’t get this post done yesterday!) yesterday was my grandma’s birthday. She died last year at Christmastime, which was always one of her favorite times of the year. I miss her terribly. Her love for life, for people around her, and for the Savior taught me how to live. Her example of patience taught me to wait upon the Lord. Her example of enduring pain, heartache, and life’s little injustices taught me how I want to (but certainly haven’t figured out!) live my life to the end of my days. Her ability to make each person in her life feel special, cherished, adored, and beloved is a gift I yearn to develop. Her self-control in conversation has shown me the numerous advantages of restraint in speech. Her love for her family taught me the importance of family, what “family” means, and what kind of family I wanted to have. I cannot express my love for this great matriarch as she is beyond words – words seem empty compared to the feelings of my heart.

Here are some pictures of her – Myrtle Rollins Smith:Grandma at 17At age 17 – isn’t she beautiful!

Grandma and Grandpa Smith This is how I knew my grandparents growing up. When she died they had 9 children, 42 grandchildren, 65 great-grandchildren, and 3 great-great grandchildren, and we all loved her to pieces.

Grandma's 85th Birthday Party Grandma’s 85th Birthday Party – Blythe is 7, Keziah is almost 3, and Fisher and Annesley aren’t born yet.

Grandma's 90th Birthday Party with the two girlies Grandma’s 90th Birthday Party last September with Blythe and Andie and of course, lots of flowers that all three of them LOVE.

Thanksgiving 2008 This was Thanksgiving 2008 and the last time we were able to have fun with grandma. She died 3 weeks later.

Here is the letter I wrote her for her 90th birthday last year – when I wrote it I had no idea I had so little time left with her. If I had known, I would have cancelled all my Idaho activities and gone to stay with her for her last few months.

September 12, 2008

Dear Grandma,

Happy 90th Birthday!!!! I am so glad you have lived such a rich and long life so that I get to be with you for longer! I can’t imagine my life without you and I think God is keeping you here because He knows I am not ready to let you go.

I want to write to you and express the feelings of my heart. I know I tell you I love you all the time, but I want you to be able to read it and really KNOW it deep down inside.

I cannot think of you without starting to cry and thanking my Heavenly Father for having sent me to your family. Your influence in my life blesses me each day and helps me to be a kinder, gentler, better person. Each day as I work in my kitchen, I think of your example of joyfully preparing food for your family day after day while also feeding many others and giving service to many more. I think of your patience with a houseful of people. I think of your endless energy to work from early in the morning to late at night, always giving and serving and loving. I think of your gentle heart which feels and loves and lets you cry at sentimental things. I think of your hands rolling out pie crusts and cookies. I think of your dignity as you have grown older and how you have remained a true lady in spite of your physical constraints. I think of your love for our Savior and how He will welcome you home into His waiting arms. I know you are going to His arms and because I want so desperately to be with you always, I strive to become more Christlike so I can be with you.

You have shown me the power of love. I am drawn to the power of being right and being first and being “best”, but I have learned that none of these is powerful at all. Love is the only thing that is truly powerful. It is God’s power and it can and does bring about miracles.

I love your smile and the twinkle you get in your eyes as they light up with joy. I love playing games with you. I love hearing your stories. I love eating your delicious cooking. I love reading your poems and songs; I especially love reading your journals and getting to experience your day to day life as a busy wife and mother. I love hearing you sing. I love pushing you to church. I love sitting next to you in Relief Society as sisters together in the gospel. I love being with you in the temple and seeing you as a Queen. I love watching you interact with your grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren – you make each one feel so special. I love calling you and getting help with cooking, sewing, Scrabble, life, or just hearing about your day. I love your curiosity and love of learning. I love your adorable giggle. I love to hear you bear your testimony. I love holding your hand. I love feeling your sweet lips on my cheek.

I count it as one of the greatest privileges of my life to have been able to come and stay with you so much in the last few years. I am so grateful that my children were able to stay in your home and get to know you. I loved being able to cook for you and dress you and help you get into bed. I loved staying up late in the night talking and laughing. I loved praying with you. I loved being of service to you because you are the greatest woman I have ever known. I loved making your scrapbook and learning all the fun things the rest of the family wanted to say to you. I loved watching your face when you read it and cried or laughed or smiled to yourself.

One day when I was reading The Velveteen Rabbit to my children, the following passage jumped out at me and reminded me of you. Thank you for being real and for letting us all love you till you are gray and wrinkled and tired out. You have taught me what “family” and “love” means and for that I will be forever grateful.

Happy 90th Birthday…may you make it to 100!!!!!!
Love you forever,

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful.
“When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

Happy Birthday Grandma. I will try to remember the lessons you have taught me. I miss you. I miss your hand on my arm, your lips on my cheek, and your voice in my ears.

I love you.

(and now that I can longer see the words on the screen through my tears, I will go start our school day)

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obsessions or treasured opportunities?

Jul 11, 2009 by

I have been a mother for nigh on 13 years. I have learned a lot during that time and wanted to share one pearl with you. Take it or leave it – perhaps it will be helpful on your mothering path, perhaps not.

My children are obsessive. They get totally wrapped up in something and that is all they do for days, weeks, or months. When Blythe first started doing this, I thought it was kind of cute, then perhaps a tad strange, then I thought I needed to intercede and get her interested in something else. I have learned, however, to let these obsessions play themselves out. I now know I need to take advantage of the obsession and help them learn all they can about whatever it is because it will pass and then they will be obsessed about something else and may not go back to the previous obsession. It may be my one chance to teach them about that topic.

Examples, you ask?

When Blythe was about 3, she was enamored by bugs. She and I would go for walks nearly every day and she would find and follow the bugs who were out walking as well. She would tell me all about their legs and wings and eyes and colors and what they liked to do. She would introduce herself to perfect strangers by saying “I’m a bug-lover, what are you?”

Now she wants nothing to do with bugs and says they are the worst part of the summer.

When Blythe was 5 and 6, she would listen to the Book of Mormon from 5 a.m. until bedtime. She did this every day for months and months and months. Each day when I would wake up, she would already be awake, drawing in her room, and listening. She would listen all day long. She would bring the CD’s with us wherever we went, begging to listen to them in the car. At family scripture time, we would read multiple chapters and she would be so sad when we were done. She wanted more. She would tell scripture stories to pretty much everyone she met. She listened to the Book of Mormon over 30 times during that obsession and knew the whole thing almost word for word. She would quote me entire chapters and then ask questions like “What do you think it means that the first shall be last and the last should be first? Do you think it means the Jews and the Gentiles will each come to a knowledge of the Lord or do you think it means something else?”

Now she dutifully reads a chapter of the Book of Mormon a day, but the obsession is gone.

Around age 6, she became obsessed with The Chronicles of Narnia. Once again, she listened to them every day for hours. I read the whole series to her, repeatedly.

Now, she still enjoys them, but the obsession is gone.

Around 7 1/2, she became completely and totally engrossed in The Lord of the Rings. She listened to the entire book – all 1000+ pages – over and over again. She sang the elf songs, she spoke to us in elvish, she recited Bilbo’s poems, she knew every character, every event, every thing about the saga.

This obsession is kind of still going, although it is not in the intense “I must devour this book this instant” phase.

Fisher has been obsessed with airplanes since he was about 6 months old. He could hear them miles away and would sign to us that an airplane was in the sky. He would crawl outside and would not be satisfied until he could see it for himself. He has checked out books about airplanes nearly every week at the library for several years. He watches airplane movies with a drugged look of pure euphoria. He slept with his airplane book that was a birthday present from Grandma Dorothy for months.

This obsession is still going strong, but now we are building on it by teaching him about engines, wings, missiles, etc.

There are also annual obsessions that need to be taken advantage of. A recent one in our family was patriotic music needing to be learned for the girls’ America’s Hope performance. They have sung these songs for hours and hours on end for the last couple of months. At times, it drove me bonkers. Then I would remind myself to let them sing their hearts out so the lessons of liberty would sink deep into their hearts and increase their love for America. I knew Independence Day would come and these songs would not be of huge interest for another year.

There are many more instances I could give you, of each of my children, but I think you get the picture. Now, the wisdom I have gained is let them listen, read, build, explore, etc…the obsession will pass naturally once they have gained all they need to from the subject. If it becomes a source of tension between parent and child, then the child will cling to the obsession all the more fiercely. If the parent delights in it with them and enjoys it with them, then the child will be able to discuss it with their parent and get even more learning out of it. Now, I didn’t say this is easy. It can drive me batty to have someone in my home so focused on a specific topic. I remember saying once, (even though I love, love, love the Book of Mormon) “We have got to turn this off! I just can’t listen to it another moment!”

Now that she is only reading a chapter a day, I sure am grateful I let her listen to her heart’s content when she was young!

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love is little

Apr 30, 2009 by

I have a favorite CD called Farewell to Nauvoo from a fabulous family band Fiddlesticks and it has a Shaker hymn on it called “Love is Little.” (For those of you who know about my obsession with the “Praise to the Man” song for the cello, that song is on another Fiddlesticks CD called Return to Nauvoo). I have pondered these words hundreds of times and they always bring a smile to my face. I belt it out at the top of my lungs and I sing it quiet to my baby. I love this song. I want to make a stitched pillow out of it, but then reality hits me and I think, “you crazy lady, when exactly would you fit that in?”

Here are the words:

Love is little, love is low
Love will make our spirits grow
Grow in peace, grow in light
Love will do the thing that’s right

Love is tender, love is best
In thy arms of holy rest
Keep me safe, keep me still
Always open to thy will

Love is little, love is low
Love will make our spirits grow
Grow in peace, grow in light
Love will do the thing that’s right

Love thy neighbor, heal thy friend
Tender mercies now descend
Full of hope, full of grace
As I gaze into thy face

Love is little, love is low
Love will make our spirits grow
Grow in peace, grow in light
Love will do the thing that’s right

Love surrounds me, makes me whole
Love eternal fills my soul
Free from sin, free from pain
When our Savior comes to reign

“Love will make our spirits grow”…love will make our spirits grow. It is my stewardship to help these little spirits grow, to help my spirit grow. Grow in strength, grow in kindness, grow in truth. “Grow in peace, grow in light”, here is the answer! If we want more light in our lives, more peace in our hearts, the answer is love.

“Love will do the thing that’s right”…do you ever wonder and worry and pray and think about what to do in a tough situation with another human being? I do. Once again, here is the answer. Love will do what is right. If my heart is full of love for the other person and for myself, I will be motivated to do what’s right. If pride, selfishness, fear, or anger are present, my motivation will not lead to what is right. Even if I do what is “right” with a heart that is not full of love, it won’t really be right because the other person will feel my lack of love and I will have missed out on an opportunity to bless that person with my love. Most of all, I will know, I know I will know deep down, that I was not who my Father would have had me be.

“Love surrounds me, makes me whole”…what a beautiful summation of my life. In the beginning of our marriage, my heart had a lot of holes, a lot of wounds, a lot of pain. My husband loved me and loved me and loved me. His love filled the holes. It healed the wounds. It took away the pain. Completely. His love helped me feel my Savior’s love and I was made whole. It is a miracle that continues to astound me today.

I cannot express to you the profound truths this simple song has taught my heart. Thank you to the Shakers for giving it to the world and to me.

You can buy this CD online at Deseret Book or download it here…enjoy!

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wet oatmeal kisses

Apr 26, 2009 by

When I was a new mother, I read this poem and instantly fell in love. I cried that first time I read it and have had my heart strings pulled every time since. I wanted to be a mother without regrets. Now, I knew I would have some, but I wanted to nurture in such a way as to enjoy my “in the trenches” mothering years. I wanted to be able to feel I LIVED as a mother, not endured, not survived, but THRIVED. 

Now, I have been mothering for over 12 years and have made plenty of mistakes I never thought I would make. I have wished for a nice meal, clean rooms, less laundry, and quiet on the phone. I have longed to be left alone to cuddle up with a good book. I have yelled, I have cried, and I have grown. Rereading this poem tonight inspires me to recommit to my earlier aspirations of motherhood – to build a living, breathing, growing, laughing home for my family.

Here is the poem…enjoy!

The baby is teething. The children are fighting. Your husband just called and said, “Eat dinner without me.” One of these days  you’ll explode and shout to the kids, “Why don’t you grow up and act your age?” And they will.  

Or, “You guys get outside and find yourselves something to  do. And don’t slam the door!” And they don’t. You’ll straighten their bedrooms all neat and tidy, toys displayed on the shelf, hangers in the closet, animals caged.  You’ll yell, “Now I want it to stay this way!”  And it will.  

You will prepare a perfect dinner with a salad that hasn’t had all the olives picked out and a cake with no finger traces in the icing and you’ll say, “Now THIS is a meal for company.” And you will eat it alone.  

You’ll say, “I want complete privacy on the phone. No dancing around, no pantomines, no demolition crews. Silence! Do you hear?” and you’ll have it. No more plastic tablecloths stained with spaghetti, no more anxious nights under a vaporizer tent, no more dandelion bouquets, no more iron-on patches, wet, knotted shoestrings, tight boots, missing mittens, or ponytails falling out.

Imagine, a lipstick with a point, no babysitter, washing clothes only once a week, no parent meetings, carpools, Christmas presents out of toothpicks and paste.

No more wet oatmeal kisses.

No more toothfairy, giggles in the dark, or knees to heal.

Only a voice crying, “Why don’t you grow up?” and the silence echoing,

“I did”

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