a week of firsts

Sep 10, 2011 by

I am ready for a nap. I have mountains of laundry staring me in the face…yes, they are that high…AND tripping me as a I walk in and out of the laundry room a gazillion times today. I have been working for about four hours and I have four loads folded and the fifth and sixth in process. I have also been working on my Worldviews and YOU! class and reading Sophie’s World. I need to read another 75 pages in that one today to meet my weekly reading goal that will enable me to finish it by October 6 when I will lead a discussion on it.

The first few weeks of September always wear me out a little. They are oh, so exciting, but they are also a big shift from our summer routine. This week we have had a whole host of “firsts”. First voice lessons, first violin lessons, first day at iFamily, first day of me teaching a class full of youth, first night of karate, and first day of teaching gymnastics (I somehow survived all six of my classes with flying colors!). We also had a colloquium at our home on Thursday on The Great Divorce, a day of working on my soon-to-be-released super-rad Homeschooling Mama Planner, a trip to the library book sale where we scored a two plastic bags of books for five buckaroos, and a scouring of all local used book stores for the complete Narnia series (found four of the full-color editions so far!).

Now my laundry is desperately needing to be caught up and I want to curl up in bed and have a nap. Since I am going to a church meeting in just a few hours, it doesn’t look Iike I will get one!

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some mothering thoughts

Aug 27, 2011 by

Back in January I took a three day writing class and learned so much. One of the assignments was to do a free write every day, first thing in the morning. Today while I was cleaning my room, I found one of my free writes and loved it so much I thought I would share it. I want to keep these words with me (and throw away the crumpled up paper they are written on!) and maybe, just maybe, they will resonate with another mother.

Keziah! Having her period? No way! I can’t believe that will be happening anytime soon…and yet, surely, she is growing. Surely she will be a mother someday. I just can’t see it now. She is my little roughhousing, never stopping, full of courage, vim, and vigor little girl.

Yesterday I caught a glimpse for the first time. I saw an adolescent face in the midst of her fancy “Aliysa Lamoreaux” hair-do. I saw that she will be beautiful. I saw the freckles soften, the jawline refine, and the eyes sparkle.

What to do? What does she need? Right now, what does she need to prepare for that day? That time period when her body will change, her emotions will fluctuate and perhaps her self-confidence won’t be the same as it is now.

The day is coming. I can see that now. I need to snuggle more, talk less. Listen more, control less. Laugh more, do less.

Just the other day when I saw the pictures Blythe took of Keziah and her bag, I saw it again. She is growing up. She is becoming a young lady. Having walked this path already with Blythe (and really being caught off guard by the whole thing!) I want to do things differently this time around. I don’t know why all these thoughts came up in a free write session, but because they did, I think I need to listen to them and let God guide my thoughts on how to best mother my girlie during her growing up years.

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in the kitchen, the lovely kitchen

Jul 27, 2011 by

Sing that title to The Lion King song “In the jungle, the mighty jungle…”

We have had a slow week around here. I have been in bed or laying on the couch almost 24/7. Monday I slept all day. Tuesday I listened to the children fight all day and thought I would lose my mind. Wednesday I listened to my two littlest ones play in their kitchen for hours on end.

They made food for all their dolls and stuffed animals. They made soup for me. They had a picnic in a fort they created. They held their babies and took them on walks. They sang them songs. They made cookies and sandwiches and salads and oodles of other delicacies.

It was lovely to just lay there and listen to their voices.

I relish these moments of mommy rewards…those times when their sweetness and innocence shine forth so strongly, when all the hours of teaching them kindness and gentleness pay off, when the effort it takes to create a home where creativity can flourish is fully rewarded.

Motherhood is worth it. Tuesday I wasn’t so sure I had had any impact on my children for good, but today made up for it.

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sacred sabbaths: the family

Jul 10, 2011 by

The lessons today in both Primary (our children’s program) and Relief Society (our organization for women) were about the family…its sacredness, its stewardships, its sovereignty, its power, its health, and its influence. Hence, this afternoon I have been thinking about both the family and my family.

The family is in in trouble. The institution of the family is constantly being attacked, denigrated, ignored, or damaged by numerous influences ranging from gas prices to technology and from UN treaties to obsession with having and doing more. Some attacks are obvious, some are subtle, regardless, they are present and they are effective. This leaves me with a choice…what do I do about it?

I clearly remember the day in September 1999 that I heard the Relief Society Declaration for the first time.

We are beloved spirit daughters of God, and our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction. As a worldwide sisterhood, we are united in our devotion to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Exemplar. We are women of faith, virtue, vision, and charity who:

Increase our testimonies of Jesus Christ through prayer and scripture study.

Seek spiritual strength by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

Dedicate ourselves to strengthening marriages, families, and homes.

Find nobility in motherhood and joy in womanhood.

Delight in service and good works.

Love life and learning.

Stand for truth and righteousness.

Sustain the priesthood as the authority of God on earth.

Rejoice in the blessings of the temple, understand our divine destiny, and strive for exaltation.

As these words were read, I felt the Spirit of God powerfully throughout my whole being. I knew right then that one of my missions in life is to strengthen the family. I knew that my work as a doula is one part of that and that my focus in attending birthing families must be to help them become closer and more committed to one another through their birth. I also knew that being a doula was not the only thing God was calling me to do. I felt strongly that He had a work for me to do that would involve building, defending, and buttressing the families of this world.

Since that time, I have made it a priority of my life to strengthen families in my personal interactions with them, to help create community events that bless families lives, to work for legislation that is pro-family, and to further commit myself to my own family. This is not a task for the faint of heart. It is huge and I believe it is the greatest fight we can wage.

I recently went to the movie Thor with my mom. I wasn’t all that excited to see it and didn’t love it or anything, but I did take a valuable lesson away from it. If Thor’s brother, Loki, had felt loved and valued by his parents, he would not have started a war that caused the deaths of thousands (millions?) of people. His unfulfilled heart guided his choices to destroy his world and many others. As I thought about that, I thought of other wicked leaders who have caused countless deaths, despair, and sorrow. Many of them have admitted that their home lives were not nurturing and I have to believe that if they had been, their choices would have been very different.

So often in our daily lives and especially in Richard’s work with families, we see that the root problem in someone’s behavior is the lack of healthy family relationships, the lack of parental boundaries, the lack of love and acceptance in their lives. It doesn’t matter what the professionals do to fix the child…until the family is fixed, the professionals work is much like a band-aid on a hemorrhaging cut. It will never be enough.

So, what does this all mean for me? It means I must be first and foremost committed to being the kind of mother who binds her children to her with her love for them, her teachings to them, and her courage to choose the Lord’s way. My children need to know how I feel about them, what I believe, and what I place priority on. They need to know they can trust me to do and be what I say. They need to feel my love. They need to be able to feel God’s love for them through the spirit in our home. They need to know my role of mother is paramount in my life and that I LOVE being their mom.

It also means I need to continue to be a voice for the family, both in public and private. I need to help others catch a vision of what family life can be. I need to build families up and help them be as strong as they can be. I need to spread the message that the family unit is sovereign and each family has the right, authority, and stewardship to make decisions for their family. It means I need to join together with other people to create pro-family organizations, traditions, laws, and regulations.

My mom gave me the Neal A. Maxwell Quote Book for my 35th birthday and I love reading it. His lexicon is vast and his ability to make his point clearly is perhaps unsurpassed. In honor of the family, I would like to share some of my favorite quotes from this great speaker.

The human family – without the gospel or without strong families – is not going to go very far. Unless we can fix families, we can’t fix anything else. Most of the problems that are most vexing are things government can’t fix. They have to be fixed at a different level. That’s the urgency of our message. I’d rather have ten commandments than ten thousand federal regulations…Unless we rebuild marriages and families, then we really are just straightening deck chairs on the Titanic.

Looking beyond the family to other institutions, programs, or activities – which may be good and helpful in their spheres – can be disastrous. The family is still the most efficient means for producing human happiness and human goodness, as well as for preparing us for the world of immortality that is to follow.

Alas, in some families do go wretchedly wrong, but these gross failures are no reason to denigrate further the institution of the family. We should make course corrections and fix the leaks, not abandon ship!

The health of the family is a better barometer of things to come in our political and economic world than we care to admit. The malcontents and assassins and militants who will do so much to harm society tomorrow are already aflame in the overheated family furnaces of today. It could be said of our increasing social interdependency that never have so few been able to hurt so many so much.

Just as a giant solar flare reaching skyward from our sun ends up causing stormy weather on the earth, today’s failure – or success – in an obscure family thousands of miles away may touch us later far more than we know.

Society should focus anew on the headwaters – the family – where values can be taught, lived, experienced, and perpetuated. Otherwise…we will witness even more widespread flooding downstream, featuring more corruption and violence.

Why should it surprise us, by the way, that life’s most demanding tests as well as the most significant opportunities for growth in life usually occur within marriage and the family? How can revolving door relationships, by contrast, be as real a test of our capacity to love? Is being courteous, one time, to the stranger on the bus as difficult as being courteous to a family member who is competing for the bathroom morning after morning? Does fleeting disappointment with a fellow office worker compare to the betrayal of a spouse? Does a raise in pay even approach the lift we receive from rich family life?

As with all of the eternal virtues, the family garden is the best place in which to grow and nurture the capacity for long-suffering. Daily family life is filled with opportunities to extend love and mercy.

Sickness of spirit in a family is carried to the office or classroom just as surely as the flu.

Someday a real history can be written that will tell us how many misshapen mortals came from home fatally flawed and who then made the whole human family an enlarged before and on which they acted out the drama of that original deficiency.

The flame of family can warm us and at the same time be a perpetual pilot light to rekindle us.

In a world filled with much laboring and striving in parliaments, congresses, agencies, and corporate offices, God’s extraordinary work is most often done by ordinary people in the seeming obscurity of a home and family.

I am grateful for the reminder today to refocus my efforts on the family, both mine and others. Having come from a family that wasn’t always peaceful or safe, I am committed to helping families thrive and become forces for good in this world.

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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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lacking courage

Mar 9, 2011 by

I have always thought of myself as a courageous being. Ask me to talk to perfect strangers and I will without hesitating. Ask me to perform in front of people and I will. Ask me to write a poem, drive across the country, tackle someone’s taxes, or rescue someone and I will. Ask me to make different choices than the majority, catch babies, eat weird foods, or drive through a snowstorm and I will. Confidence and courage are two of my defining characteristics.

Or so I thought.

I have been hit square in the face with a severe lack of courage.

I weaned my little Annesley last September with the intention of detoxifying my body, losing weight, getting healthy and strong, building my liver’s capabilities, dealing with my kidney stones, fixing my hormone imbalances, seeking expert’s advice, undergoing testing, etc. All in the hopes of being able to get and stay pregnant.

I have done nothing. If anything, I have become more unhealthy…I have gained weight, I have further clogged my liver, and I have completely neglected my kidneys. I have wasted the last seven months of time that I could have been doing all of the above. I have tried to convince myself that I lacked time, that I lacked money and while both of those are true, the cold, hard truth is that I lacked courage. I finally faced it last week. I realized that I am scared stiff. I am scared to really give it my all, to invest all I have in to having a baby…because what if, after I do all of the above, I still can’t keep my little one? What if I am really done and this whole process will prove it to me? What if this spirit I feel is not meant to be mine?

I can’t face those what ifs and so I am doing nothing.

I need to find some courage.

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sweetest valentine ever

Feb 15, 2011 by

I was in a funk last night. Plummeting progesterone does that to me sometimes and this time was a doozie. I was spouting off insane ideas to Richard that he should get a new wife…a new, improved one that doesn’t lose her patience, knows how to bake cookies, can keep the bedroom clean, remembers how to mother with love, and can give him as many babies as he wants. I was in a dark place of craziness and he loved me anyway. He kept trying to hold me and to fill my heart with love. I woke up this morning able to think again and was so grateful he didn’t take me up on the new wife idea.

In the midst of my dark spiral downward, we gave the children their Valentine’s Day presents. Keziah had a present for me. It is the sweetest thing she has ever written. Keziah often has a hard time being kind to her family members, she prefers being an army general rather than a friend. She can be the sweetest thing ever, but she can also be the cruelest. It is a battle she fights within herself and we are working with her to help the sweet side win. Here is her card to me:

Happy Valentine’s Day
I love you, mom.

Dear Mom,

I’m sorry I’ve been mean to Fisher. Thank you for all you’ve done for me. Thank you for being my mom. I love you. I love you, mom. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.

I love you,
Keziah

It was the only Valentine I received this year and it is the best one I could have received. I think it is the first time she has acknowledged that she is mean to Fisher. It is a step towards healing her heart and letting the love that is in her come out.

I am so grateful to be her mama.

p.s. The new wife thing? Don’t worry, I’m here to stay.

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so blessed

Feb 14, 2011 by

Last night Blythe and I attended a youth fireside together. The speaker was a recovering drug and alcohol addict who has spent 13 years in prison, been a major drug dealer in our area making 40K a day (A DAY!!!), and been involved in disgusting, demeaning, and demoralizing activities since he was ten years old. His story was heartbreaking.

Afterwards, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for my 14-year-old daughter. She has a completely different life than the life this man has had. He left home when he was 14. She is here under my roof. His parents didn’t know where he was from the ages of 14 – 24. I know where she is every minute of every day. He didn’t speak to his parents for YEARS. We have wonderful conversations on a nearly daily basis and at least some semblance of a conversation every single day. She is not tempted by drugs or alcohol at all. She is virtuous, modest, compassionate, dedicated to her goals, beautiful, fun, deep-thinking, obedient to God, and mostly grateful for her life.

She is everything he was not.

Yes, I am blessed.

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today

Feb 12, 2011 by

Today has seemed like a microcosm of my life. Many things have happened, some good, some bad, some special, some ordinary, some messy, some not-so-messy. It hasn’t been a banner day. I’m not particularly proud of it and I wish I could hit a do-over button, but I lived it and it is part of me.

Today…

* My husband thought he was dying when he was throwing up, having diarrhea, mucus, and sweat pour out of him and I was sound asleep and had no idea he needed help.

* My husband felt better enough to go to work, but I think he is going to crash when he gets home tonight.

* I snuggled with Annesley for a good, solid hour this morning and let her rub, rub, rub me. We shared lots of kisses, she told me stories, and it felt wonderful to reconnect with her after not seeing her much at all yesterday.

* Keziah got her room clean.

* I did not.

* After many phone calls, I found out why my Vitamix container hasn’t arrived yet. Sam’s Club didn’t send the order in.

* I tried to figure out how to scan my vitamix receipt…never figured it out. I will have to send it to work with Richard on Monday.

* I lost my patience approximately 4,896 times.

* I longed to stay in bed and read A Tale of Two Cities (actually, I longed to read Shadow of the Hegemon, but if I had indulged in a reading-fest, I would have forced myself to read A Tale of Two Cities.

* I resisted the urge to hide in my room and read the day away.

* Instead I cleaned my kitchen and family room.

* I rearranged the family room. I had to move all the furniture to search for my missing phone which I haven’t seen in three weeks and decided I might as well find a new spot for everything.

* I didn’t find the phone. If you are trying to reach me, call my cell phone. The house phone is missing and my hopes of finding it are dwindling by the day.

* I laid down on the couch in my perfectly clean family room to take a quick nap. After less than ten minutes of dozing, I was awakened by Annesley climbing on me. Then I heard her say “What’s that yucky stuff on the couch, mama?” I stuck my finger in it, almost tasted it, then decided to smell it instead. It was poop from her inadequately wiped bottom. What a way to wake up.

* I creatively figured out how to make soup for my friend with a broken toe. We haven’t been grocery shopping since before Christmas and it’s slim pickings in my fridge.

* I also attempted to make rice pudding for her with my leftover brown rice from the brown rice disaster on Wednesday. I think her batch went okay and I really hope it tastes delicious, but I have never made it, so I don’t really know how it will taste. The second batch was a bit of a disaster. We had just enough milk to make another batch and after putting the milk, agave, cornstarch and spices into the blender, I turned my back for a moment. Annesely climbed up and turned it on…without the lid. The entire eastern half of my newly-scrubbed kitchen was covered in stickiness. Because I was in a hurry, my cupboards were open, and the insides of them, including all the food, was covered in milky gooey-ness. Annesley was covered head to toe and saying, “Sorry mom, sorry mom, sorry mom”. Blythe lost her marbles and started yelling at Annesley, because you know, it makes perfect sense to yell at a three-year-old covered in milk about how they should never touch the vitamix.

* I mopped the kitchen floor…several times. It is still kind of sticky.

* Amy came to the rescue and brought us some more milk and some carrots and celery to add to the dismal soup.

* I almost hit a snowboard lying in the middle of the road on my way to deliver dinner.

* I saw a beautiful sunset on my way to deliver dinner.

* I said some unkind things to Blythe.

* I need to figure out how to make up with her.

* I just realized that Valentine’s Day is in two days and I haven’t thought of anything to do for my sweetie.

I am ready for bed, a good book, and a bowl of popcorn. I wonder if Keziah will make me some.

May tomorrow be an improvement. May my voice be kinder, my face be softer, and my patience level be infinitely higher.

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whining, screaming, and gnashing of teeth

Jan 27, 2011 by

Ahhh, you know those mothering days when no matter what you do or say things seem to go awry? I am in the midst of one of them and all my experience as a mother for the last fourteen-plus years, all my knowledge of Piaget, Erikson, Moore, Granju, and Sears, all the books I have read and all the classes I have taught are not doing me a bit of good. The whining and screaming are coming from my four lovely offspring, but I am the one gnashing my teeth in an effort to keep the crazy words I am thinking from coming out.

Have you ever had one of those days? A day when children are whining again. When they are screaming for the umpteenth time and no amount of patience or nurturing or logic or consequence or ANYTHING seems to make a difference. My ears hurt, my head is splitting, and I want to crawl in a hole and sleep for weeks. The decibel levels in this home have hit an all-time high today and the sad thing is the girl who has made the most noise is only three, still growing, and sure to have more diaphragm possibilities in the future.

My little boy is in a “everything is terrible, nobody likes me, life is too hard” state of mind and I have no more words to reassure him, no more patience to keep trying, and no more determination to make everything in his life all better. His inconsolability has rendered me inept.

Now, I know I have more tools up my sleeve. I know there is something else I can do to help these precious little ones, but I don’t have enough left in me to search my heart for it.

Have you had a day like that?

Instead of hiding in a hole, I called Richard, told him the state of things and begged for a rescue. He asked me to start some potatoes boiling (which Eve and Keziah promptly washed) and said he would make mashed potatoes when he got home. We will eat, we will try to have some stimulating dinner discussion, and then we will curl up in our blankets and read Matthew 6 and The Phantom Tollbooth. Surely our evening routine will be an improvement over this afternoon and will give me enough of an ummmppphhh to try again tomorrow.

Do you think it will work?

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what memories are we making?

Jan 20, 2011 by

I read this story today and I cried. A lot. The power of family is real. The power of taking time to live, really live, changes who we are. I want to remember this story always and remember to make magical moments with my children. I want them to have memories to sustain them in their “POW” experiences, in their “I’m all alone” times, in their “is life really worth living” questioning moments. I want the reservoir of their souls to be so overflowing with goodness and laughter and glee and togetherness and truth that they will be able to get through anything.

THE DAY WE FLEW KITES

“String!” shouted Brother, bursting into the kitchen. “We need lots more string.”

It was Saturday. As always, it was a busy one, for “Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work” was taken seriously then. Outside, Father and Mr. Patrick next door were doing chores.

Inside the two houses, Mother and Mrs. Patrick were engaged in spring cleaning. Such a windy March day was ideal for “turning out” clothes closets. Already woolens flapped on back yard clotheslines.

Somehow the boys had slipped away to the back lot with their kites. Now, even at the risk of having Brother impounded to beat carpets, they had sent him for more string. Apparently, there was no limit to the heights to which kites would soar today.

My mother looked at the sitting room, its furniture disordered for a Spartan sweeping. Again her eyes wavered toward the window. “Come on girls! Let’s take string to the boys and watch them fly the kites a minute.”

On the way we met Mrs. Patrick, laughing guiltily, escorted by her girls.

There never was such a day for flying kites! God doesn’t make two such days in a century. We played all our fresh twine into the boys’ kites and still they soared. We could hardly distinguish the tiny, orange-colored specks. Now and then we slowly reeled one in, finally bringing it dipping and tugging to earth, for the sheer joy of sending it up again. What a thrill to run with them, to the right, to the left, and see our poor, earth-bound movements reflected minutes later in the majestic sky-dance of the kites! We wrote wishes on slips of paper and slipped them over the string. Slowly, irresistibly, they climbed up until they reached the kites. Surely all wishes would be granted.

Even our Fathers dropped hoe and hammer and joined us. Our mothers took their turn, laughing like schoolgirls. Their hair blew out their pompadour and curled loose about their cheeks; their gingham aprons whipped about their legs. Mingled with our fun was something akin to awe. The grownups were really playing with us! Once I looked at Mother and thought she looked actually pretty. And her over forty!

We never knew where the hours went on that hilltop that day. There were no hours, just a golden breeze now. I think we were all beside ourselves. Parents forgot their duty and their diginty; children forgot their combativeness and small spites. “Perhaps it’s like this in the kingdom of Heaven,” I thought confusedly.

It was growing dark before, drunk with sun and air, we all stumbled sleepily back to the houses. I suppose we had some sort of supper. I suppose there must have been a surface tidying-up, for the house on Sunday looked decorous enough.

The strange thing was, we didn’t mention that day afterward. I felt a little embarrassed. Surely none of the others had thrilled to it as deeply as I. I locked the memory up in that deepest part of me where we keep “the things that cannot be and yet they are.”

The years went on, then one day I was scurrying about my own kitchen in a city apartment, trying to get some work out of the way while my three-year old insistently cried her desire to “go park and see ducks.”

“I can’t go!” I said. “I have this and this to do, and when I’m through I’ll be too tired to walk that far.”

My mother, who was visiting us, looked up from the peas she was shelling. “It’s a wonderful day,” she offered; “really warm, yet there’s a fine, fresh breeze. It reminds me of that day we flew kites.”

I stopped in my dash between stove and sink. The locked door flew open and with it a gush of memories. I pulled off my apron. “Come on” I told my little girl. “You’re right, it’s too good a day to miss.”

Another decade passed. We were in the aftermath of a great war. All evening we had been asking our returned soldier, the youngest Patrick Boy, about his experiences as a prisoner of war. He had talked freely, but now for a long time he had been silent. What was he thinking of — what dark and dreadful things?

“Say!” A smile twitched his lips. “Do you remember — no, of course you wouldn’t. It probably didn’t make the impression on you it did on me.”

I hardly dared speak. “Remember what?”

“I used to think of that day a lot in PW camp, when things weren’t too good. Do you remember the day we flew the kites?”

Winter came, and the sad duty of call of condolence on Mrs. Patrick, recently widowed. I dreaded the call. I couldn’t imagine how Mrs. Patrick could face life alone.

We talked a little of my family and her grandchildren and the changes in the town. Then she was silent, looking down at her lap. I cleared my throat. Now I must say something about her loss, and she would begin to cry.

When she looked up, Mrs. Patrick was smiling. “I was just sitting here thinking,” she said. “Henry had such fun that day. Frances, do you remember the day we flew the kites?”

— Frances Fowler

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learning…the fire in my soul

Jan 15, 2011 by

I have been attending a writing class this week, specifically, a class on mentoring writing and awakening the writer within us and in our students.

What a JOY it has been!

I haven’t taken a class like this for several years and it was time to immerse myself in a learning environment for a few days. I am at a phase of my mothering life when I can take off for a few days and my children will not fall apart. I can go away and study and work and give my heart to learning without worrying constantly about what is going on in my home. It’s a great phase to be in, but I am pretty sure it is not going to last…I feel a little spirit calling to me, a little energetic boy, and I am preparing myself to be a mother of a baby again. I am drinking green smoothies, working on my liver, and trying to get my home in order so that it will survive my months of puking my guts out. I also attended this amazing class. It was exactly what I needed before I go in to the cocoon of growing a baby. I learned lessons that will bless my family for years to come and writing tools that will help me in my own life and in the lives of people I mentor.

I love to learn. I think sometimes as moms we put this part of our lives on the back burner and forget all about feeding ourselves with new ideas. We forget that as we give and give and give to our precious children that we need to be replenishing that part of us that hungers for knowledge. That part in me is huge. I am like an insatiable fire, always desiring more ideas to flesh out in my own soul.

This class fed that part of me. I have much to think about and much to work on to implement the principles I learned in to our homeschool environment. I can’t wait to work on Blythe’s current book with her and to help her develop it according to her vision of the story. I can’t wait to play with words more with my family. It is going to be a blast! I can’t wait to write a story and have Blythe mentor me on my writing. We are going to learn to work together…I am confident of that. I can see it. I can feel it. Once my vision is this clear, I know it will happen because this vision will not leave me and I will work on it until we have created it.

Have you fed your fire lately? If not, what do you need to do to reclaim that part of you? Is it thirty minutes in the morning? Is it an hour in the afternoon? Is it a daily writing time? Is it taking a class? Is it forming a discussion group? Is it creating a group like the Inklings (I think I may need to do just that!)? Is it reading a book with your husband and discussing it over dinner? Is it creating a scholar group to really delve into the Great Debate? What is it? Think about it and then do it. Feed your fire and it will warm you. It will keep you going as you cook and clean and wash and wipe and feed and tuck and hug and hold and pack and scrub. It will give you greatness in your soul to ponder as you mop. It will open your mind to the possibilities of your life. It will keep you from drudgery. It will give you more to give your children.

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a heart in the right place = successful parenting

Jan 4, 2011 by

I read this article today and loved it. I am going to reread it tomorrow and ponder it some more.

It is a great goal for me this year…to have my heart in the right place with my children…in the place God would have my heart because if He were here His heart would be in that place.

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the ups and downs of mothering

Dec 1, 2010 by

I don’t always enjoy mothering. This week I haven’t been the most loving mama on the planet. I figured it out though…my period started on Monday and the last three times my period has started I have been the crabbiest person ever. I don’t know what is up, but my hormones have been in a serious flux since my miscarriage in August.

On top of hormonal issues, I have a lot of decisions on my plate and not enough time to give to the decision making process. I have too much on my to-do list and have been trying to grab some “me-time” in the day and my children feel me pulling away and cling all the more fiercely to me. I have somewhat forgotten to give first and get later.

Anyway, all of this has made me think about what I like least about mothering. Here they are in no particular order:

1. Whining

2. Sulking

3. Rudeness to other people

4. Children believing they can’t do something when I know they absolutely can

5. Being late and hurrying little ones out the door

6. Siblings being mean to one another

7. Ingratitude

8. Blaming me for everything that has ever gone wrong in their whole entire lives

9. Hearing them use my not-so-great words on their siblings

10. Children not noticing the mess and so not doing anything about it

11. Children noticing the mess and still not doing anything about it

12. Losing my patience when any of the above happens

After thinking of these things in bed last night, I started thinking of all the things I love about mothering. Thank goodness it is a much longer list.

1. Kisses, even wet slobbery ones

2. Hugs

3. Hearing Keziah read Annesley and Fisher a story

4. Hearing Blythe sing hymns with all the gusto she has

5. Watching my children be helpful to others without being asked

6. Taking Blythe to the temple

7. Hearing Fisher explain his latest invention

8. Seeing the joy in Annesley’s eyes

9. Keziah finding every lost item in our home

10. Hearing Keziah sing Gethsemane

11. Preparing food for my family that they love to eat

12. Snuggling up during family read-aloud time

13. Discussing freedom with Blythe

14. Enjoying their homemade smoothies

15. Kissing them awake

16. My children’s love of animals

17. Watching Fisher ride his bike super-fast down our road

18. Giggles

19. Seeing the look on their face when they understand something for the first time

20. Seeing Fisher tenderly help Annesley

21. Hearing my children speak of Jesus

22. Hearing my children pray

23. Reading the scriptures with my children

24. Discovering the world by their side

25. Going on hikes with my children

26. Seeing the look on their faces when they catch a fish…or a bug…or a frog…or a snake…or a mouse

27. Hearing them talk kindly to one another

28. Watching them grow in skills and capabilities

29. Hearing Annesley tell stories

30. Seeing how much they love their papa

31. Helping them learn new things

32. Hearing their voices as they drift off to sleep

33. Watching them play with their friends

34. Singing together

35. Creating cute things for them

36. Hearing Fisher say “Thank You”…melts my heart every time

37. Afternoon naps

38. Eating their yummy creations

39. Working all together happily

40. Teaching them about their ancestors

41. All the kisses and hugs and love they gave my grandma

42. Taking them to plays at Hale Centre Theatre

43. Seeing everyone all dressed up and fancy at the Family Ball each spring

44. Hearing Annesley sing Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam

45. Playing in the snow

46. Riding the kick-sled

47. Passover

48. Reading Christmas stories every night for the whole month of December

49. Teaching them how to bargain-shop

50. Going on mommy-daughter and mommy-son dates

Writing that all out has already helped me get my perspective back in place. Mothering is worth it. Mothering is an investment. Mothering brings me joy.

More than that, I know it is what God has called me to do and I want to nurture with an eye single to His glory. Sometimes I get so caught up in mortality, I forget why we are really here and who I really am. I also forget who they really are.

Children of God.

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parenting 101…failed

Nov 29, 2010 by

Cardinal rules of parenting:

1. Calm voice

2. Empathy for child

3. Let natural consequences teach

4. Deal with specific incident…don’t make it a global part of who they are.

5. Speak and act with love

Yep, failed them all today.

With every single child.

I will try to practice what I preach tomorrow.

Hope they still know I love them to pieces…not so sure though.

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because i love you

Nov 13, 2010 by

Annesley has this need to rub me. She rubs my arms, my back, my neck, my chest, my cheeks. She loves, loves, loves to rub me. Down my shirt, up my sleeves, all over and inside and more and more and more. This morning she was rubbing me once again (which about drives me bonkers most of the time) and I so I asked her why.

Me: “Why do you rub me?”
Annesley: “Because I like to rub you.”
Me: “Why do you like to rub me?”
Annesley: “Because I love you.”

Okay, pretty precious. I will try to keep putting up with it. Sometimes I am even able to enjoy it a little bit and envision it is a massage full of the biggest and bestest love in the whole world.

Because really, that is exactly what it is.

How could I say no to this adorable little cherub?

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book bonanza – the edison trait

Oct 12, 2010 by

I have been reading The Edison Trait: Saving the Spirit of Your Nonconforming Child by Lucy Jo Palladino the last few weeks and instead of devouring it, I have let the ideas ruminate around in my head and settle in my heart.

Having had 3+ weeks to think about this book, I now want to shout it from the rooftop – READ THIS BOOK!

This book has helped me learn about divergent and convergent thinking, two different approaches to gathering, processing, and sharing information. I swear the author must have lived in my house and watched my children on a daily basis in order to write this book. It is that close to my reality.

This book has given me words to understand Blythe most especially, but all of us in one way or another. The author has helped me see the greatness in my daughter’s approach to life and how to nurture that in her. I have an amazing daughter. Truly. She can see what I can’t even imagine. She has been entrusted to me to help her find her way and it is impossible for me to do that without understanding her.

This book has made me infinitely grateful that I listened and obeyed the prompting to homeschool her. There were numerous examples of children who have had their spirits crushed out of them by being in a conveyor-belt system that does not have the time or the patience to deal with a creative, dreaming child.

This book helped me learn some techniques I can use with her at home to help her learn convergent thinking in an emotionally safe way.

This book helped me value divergent thinking and to really understand the differences in the two approaches to life.

This book has already changed the way I view the world. I am hoping the change in my heart is a permanent one.

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book bonanza – the mother in me

Sep 30, 2010 by

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Wrapped in a cocoon of a support, love, understanding, and humor is how I felt reading savoring this book. The women whose essays appear here are gifted writers, able to bring the reader right into their inner-most thoughts and feelings. For several nights in a row, I stayed up and read and laughed and cried and smiled and remembered and fell in love with this motherhood calling all over again.

I am convinced you will too.

The Mother in Me: Real-World Reflections on Growing Into Motherhood is a collection of essays and poems by mothers in all sorts of different mothering situations and how they have been transformed by their mothering experiences. They share their hearts so transparently, I felt as if I was living inside of them. I could feel their pain, their struggles, their joy, their peace. I wept for the mother who miscarried the night of her brother’s wedding, rejoiced for the mother who adopted her babies from South America, and sobbed for the woman who is missing on Google.

I loved it so much that when Kat came over to visit the other day, I couldn’t stop reading excerpts to her. I tried to go to sleep by promising myself “just one more” and then as I turned the last page, I would have to start again and tell myself “just one more.

So, walk, run, or drive to your closest Deseret Book and buy it today. It is on clearance for $7.99 and will be gone before you know it.

p.s. Read “Blood and Milk” first. It is my very favorite poem in the whole thing.

p.p.s. Please know that if I had gobs of money, I would buy every single copy in existence and go from house to house gifting mothering joy to every woman I know. I love it that much.

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value vs. compare

Sep 10, 2010 by

“Everybody is a Genius.

But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree,

it will live its whole life believing it is stupid”

-Albert Einstein

When I read this quote by Mr. Einstein, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew exactly how true a statement it is and felt moved by it, felt like I needed to share it with the world. Maybe you have already seen this quote before, but I never had, so I am thinking possibly some of you haven’t either.

I immediately thought back to my childhood and how my parents believed I was smart and fun and talented and athletic and a million other wonderful things. They helped me develop a picture of myself which was very optimistic. I was full of courage and confidence and the knowledge that I could do great things.

Now, the reality was that I wasn’t fabulous at everything. I could not sew worth a darn, I could not cook without making huge errors, I could not do handwork, I could not keep my room clean, I could not play a game with anyone without making them feel bad about losing, I could not sing in tune, I could not do lots of things. But I wasn’t judged for those things. Who I was wasn’t made up of the things that were a struggle for me. My parents clearly communicated to me that who I was was someone wonderful. I wasn’t evaluated on a daily basis on my improvement or lack thereof in my weak areas, just praised for my successes and my strengths.

This is not to say my parents wouldn’t have wanted me to be a more competent cook or to have any semblance of ability in making my hands move those blasted crochet needles. I am sure they did. However, they did not evaluate me, my life, or my potential based on those things.

Next, I thought of my own parenting. Often I DO evaluate my children based on their weaknesses and what I think they need to improve. I want their weaknesses to become strengths and perhaps in doing so, they more fully notice how much of a weakness those things are.

I want my children to be the best they can be, to be who they were created to be. The question for me is, how do I accomplish that? How do I judge a fish as a fish and a squirrel as a squirrel? How do I value their innate qualities and help them see they are exactly who they were meant to be while also helping them reach higher and deeper within themselves to become better and of more service to their fellow man?

Value is the state of heart and mind I am striving for. Valuing and not comparing. Valuing each individual person and thing in my life for who and what they are and not for who and what they aren’t. Not comparing them to their siblings, their parents, their neighbors, myself, or anyone else, real or imagined.

I took a class once where this concept of value vs. compare was discussed. The speaker postulated that we learn to either value or compare during the ages of eight to twelve by what we see modeled around us. We learned that valuing people and our personal things brings peace, love, and truth while comparing brings pride, depression, and a false state of reality. I want to be someone who values, but I know I often compare.

I am putting it out to the world that today is a new day. Today I start to more fully value others and to toss the comparisons out of my heart. I want to be a builder of people. I know God doesn’t compare us…he values each and every one of us and I want to be like Him.

Want to join me?

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annesley, the BIG girl

Sep 8, 2010 by

Miss Annesley Aliyah, the joy of my life and pretty much constant companion for the past 2 3/4 years has decided to become a BIG girl! What is a BIG girl you ask? It is a baby that makes the BIG decision to not nurse anymore and to fully enter the world of childhood.

To celebrate her BIG decision she got to pick out a Big Girl bike. It is bright green and she is loving it. She is still working on mastering pedaling and steering, but she is getting the hang of it.

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I am super-duper proud of Miss Annes. This is a big step in her life and after the first two days she is handling it really well. At first, she was asking to nurse every 30 seconds or so, then I would ask her if she had changed her mind and didn’t want to be a big girl. She would say “No, me BIG girl” and calm down. Thirty seconds later she would ask again and the same conversation would repeat. Today she has only asked to nurse once and I didn’t even make it to the conversation part before she started giggling and saying “Me Big Girl, Me Don’t Nurse!”

Some people wonder why I nurse my babies and especially why I nurse them past the first year. Here is a a list of 101 reasons why breastfeeding is such a large part of my mothering.

While all those things on the list do wonders for my research-lovin’ brain, what it really boils down to is this – it feels right, it feels like this is exactly what babies need, what God created mothers to do, and the best process I know of to learn how to be a mother.

I am so grateful for my breastfeeding experiences. I know I would be a vastly different mother if I had chosen to bottlefeed. I easily could have become a bottle-propping, leave-baby-in-bed while I do more “important” things, but instead breastfeeding forced me to slow down, to gaze into my baby’s eyes, to feel the prolactin and oxytocin rushing through me, and to learn that motherhood was the most important thing I could be doing.

I have now nursed for 143 months of my mothering life. That is almost 12 years of providing nourishment for my children. Twelve years of being touched much more than even I am comfortable with. Twelve years of wearing nursing bras (and let me tell you, Bravado Nursing Tanks are BY FAR my favorite nursing bra!). Twelve years of sleeping with babies. Twelve years of having super-amazing antibiotic milk to treat cuts, infections, and rug burns. Twelve years of seeing my children’s cute little faces light up with joy at the end of a nursing session. Twelve years of wearing shirts that don’t tuck in.

Twelve years…unbelievable.

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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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blythe’s gift to me

Aug 17, 2010 by

My oldest child recently turned 14 years old. I am still bewildered that I have a child this age. How can that be even remotely possible?

I thought I had written about her gift to me before, but I can’t find what I thought I said, so I am going to write about it some more.

Pre-BMW (Blythe Moriah Ward), I had far different priorities than I did post-BMW. In fact, I was a different person. I did not want to be a mother. I wanted to spend my life doing important things – like traveling the world, studying the Torah, and teaching people God’s ancient words. I wanted to be known for doing important things. I wanted to fill my time with scholarly research and the subsequent presentations of my findings. I wanted to stretch my mind and challenge myself with doing really hard things.

I had absolutely no desire to have a child need me. I had no desire to ever change a diaper again. And if by some chance, I was given a child, he or she was not going to interfere with my life, my plans, my needs.

Throughout the first three years of our marriage, all of this started changing. I decided I wanted to have children. I started researching the role and value of motherhood. I started arguing with my feminist professors who advocated a position of “daycare is best for children.” I began to feel disgust for the mothers I saw dropping off their six-week old babies at a daycare at seven in the morning and picking them up at seven at night. I began to desire to be a mother who would be with her children…someday.

But, I was still ambivalent about actually being a mother. I had been told by two different doctors that I would die if I tried to have a baby and we believed them. We decided we would not have biological children and would look into adopting when I was done with my college education.

And then, in spite of doing everything we could to prevent pregnancy, I became pregnant. I was not happy. I was, in fact, pretty much terrified that I was going to die. Not only that, it felt like a huge interruption to my life. I was in the middle of my Speech Pathology program and I wanted to complete it. I couldn’t see how it would all work out. I worried about my education and my job and my life and a million other things that seem so trivial now.

We decided to let the pregnancy continue…to just see what would happen. Our OB sent for the reports from the previous two doctors and he disagreed with their findings. He felt like I was not in danger of death and could safely be a pregnant and birthing woman. We were comforted, but not convinced. As the months of pregnancy continued, all seemed to be well, and I began to believe that the first two doctors were completely wrong.

At 36 weeks pregnant, when my uterus had stretched as far as it was going to stretch, our OB pronounced that my abdominal wall was sound, that it was not going to rupture as had been declared by the prior physicians. He said, “See, I was right, everything is going to be just fine.” At that moment, I knew he was correct and I also knew I could not give birth with him. I informed him I would be birthing at home. He flipped out and quickly informed me how dangerous and insane that would be (he later called me at home and apologized for his outlandish behavior). I stood my ground because I knew in my heart that birthing at home was what I needed to do.

We found a midwife and started preparing for a home birth. It was so wonderful to finally be excited about our baby and not to be full of fear about dying. We gathered supplies and Tami came around 38 weeks for the birth that was sure to be right around the corner and we walked and walked and walked. And no baby came.

And then, in her 43rd week of gestation, Blythe was born. After ten months of throwing up every single day and hours of throwing up every 15 minutes throughout her labor, she was born! As I held her that first day, I fell completely in love with her, with motherhood, with homeschooling her, with devoting my life to her. All of a sudden, I knew what motherhood meant and it was not drudgery, it was not a waste of time. It was the most important work I could ever do. It was exactly the work God wanted me to do. It was exactly the work my soul needed to do to grow and learn and develop into the woman I was created to be.

It saddens me to think how backward my thinking used to be and I am filled with gratitude for my brave Blythe who came into my life before I even knew I wanted her, before I valued motherhood, before I knew how absolutely essential motherhood is to the foundation of each family, community, nation, and world.

She taught me that I am doing the most important work. I am spending my days teaching the next generation what it means to be good. I am teaching them about freedom, government, history, God, math, cooking, serving, patience, and family.

I am so grateful for this 14-year-old girl. Thankful for her courage to follow her own path. Thankful she chose me as her mother. Thankful she forgives me and gives me another chance. Thankful she was born at what I thought was an inconvenient time. Thankful for her deep, inner knowing and her absolute devotion to what is right. I am humbled to think of the love God has for me to have sent me a child I didn’t know I needed, but He knew I needed. He knew what motherhood would come to mean to me and how it would change my life forever.

Here are some pics of this beautiful girl:

Blessing Day

Blythe's Blessing Day

Blythe and Grandpa Ward

Blythe and Grandpa Ward

Blythe and Grandma Smith

Blythe and Grandma Smith

Blythe taking a bath

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Blythe and her papa

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Blythe and her mama

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Blythe with Andie and Grandma Dorothy

Blythe w/ sunglasses and bandana

Blythe and Marcus at Bear Lake

Blythe and Marcus at Bear Lake

Blythe and Stephen at Bear Lake

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Two years old at GRL

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Third Birthday at GRL

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Crazy dress-up with her first cat, Spike

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Four-years-old

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5th Birthday

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Another Birthday party…with Cousin Becca and Aunt Mikelle

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Blythe and Andie’s birthday at Bear Lake

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Somewhere around the age of six

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Sevenish?

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Baptism…and me at 38 weeks pregnant with Fisher

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Eight-years-old with Keziah and Great-Grandma

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With Grandpa’s horses

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Pioneer Days rodeo…almost nine-years-old

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Christmas at nine-and-a-half

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Eleven-years-old

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Twelve-years-old…beautiful, isn’t she!

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Thirteen-years-old

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Blythe and Andie Tug of War

Fourteen!

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Isn’t she adorable!

I am so blessed to have her in my life and to have the privilege of being her mother. She has taught me much about love, patience, sacrifice, acceptance, putting people first, doing hard things, and so much more.

Most importantly, she was willing to come as my first child. Willing to let me learn how to mother on her. Willing to teach me the power of motherhood before I knew I was ready to learn that lesson.

Happy Birthday, my girl.

I love you.

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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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make enough of me

Jun 8, 2010 by

I just learned of this song and I can already say listening to it the last few days has brought peace to my soul, hope to my heart, and a smile to my face.

I have been gone to swim camp for a week (it rained every day and was crazy-windy, like so windy three tents were blown over and broken, chilly, and lots of children were throwing up by the end of the week – but still way fun), got home on Saturday afternoon to a filthy house, loads of laundry, and my sister, Mikelle, and her husband, Logan, waiting for me and mowing my much overgrown lawn. Mikelle got right to work cutting hair and beautifying all of us, then we went to Logan’s Semi-Pro football game and got home around midnight. Annesley started throwing up shortly thereafter and continued through the night. Sunday brought church for a few of us healthy ones and lots of rest for everyone else. Sunday night I got called to a birth and got home last night around 11 p.m. This morning Blythe has Youth Conference (which amazingly enough, she was all packed for when I got home last night!), Keziah has America’s Hope Choir practice, and I still have a sick baby, LOADS of laundry, more dishes than I can throw a stick at, and lots of work on the Children’s Parade. I am spread far too thin and today I certainly feel there is not enough of me to go around…and yet, I love my life. I am grateful to be a wife, grateful to be a mother, grateful to be a doula, grateful to have a washer and dryer, grateful to have food to feed my children and dishes to wash, grateful to have a home to clean, and grateful to be in this phase of my life. It is busy, and yes, it can be overwhelming, but it is also a wonderful training ground for my soul to learn patience, diligence, nurturing, prioritizing, pausing, letting go, and letting God. Every day I am clearly reminded that I cannot do this without Him. I cannot mother the way He would have me mother without spending time communing with Him, learning from Him, and letting Him work miracles in my life and the lives of my children. He has given me this time to refine me. I know this. I know He loves me and wants to help me. I just need to let Him and depend on Him more and more each day. This song is helping me remember just that.

Enjoy!

Make Enough of Me

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happy mother’s day

May 9, 2010 by

I’ve been thinking a lot about this whole mothering thing. It is hard work. It takes heart and mind and body. It takes humility and foresight and willingness to change and patience and courage. It takes all that we have and then some more that must come from God above. It takes love, real love that we give and give and give until it is so tangible that it is a lifeline to our children to lead them back home.

I have a song I love to belt out at the top of my lungs (especially on those days when the laundry is piled sky high, the children are cantankerous and I have no idea what to make for dinner) and today I would like to dedicate it to all the mothers, everywhere. Take these words into your heart and believe them. Let them give you hope on those days when everything seems to go wrong and joy on those days when things are going right.

Who You Are
by Hilary Weeks

I know you wonder if you’ll ever have a day
Where the kids stay calm,
The laundry is done
And the dishes are put away.
And sometimes you feel like
Your days are spent and gone
And the question running through your mind is
What have I gotten done?
And when you finally have a moment to slow down
At the end of your day
I know Father would say
Believe in what you’re doing.
Believe in who you are.
Hold tight to the truth that you’re a daughter of God.
Believe in who you’re becoming,
Believe in who you are.

It may seem simple,
All the little things you do
But the lives you touch matter so much
And there’s no one else like you
And Father needs you to stand tall and faithful,
To be all you can be
If you could see what He sees
You’d believe in what you’re doing and
You’d believe in who you are
So, hold tight to the truth that you’re a daughter of God.
Believe in who you’re becoming,
Believe in who you are.

When it’s hard to believe in yourself and
You feel like you’re beginning to doubt,
Remember,
He believes in what you’re doing and
He believes in who you are
So, don’t lose sight of the truth that you’re a daughter of God.
He believes in who you’re becoming,
He believes in who you are.

Happy Mother’s Day to each and every mother out there. Thank you for your service, your love, and your fortification of the family. Thank you for teaching and washing and driving and feeding and holding and birthing the human race.

Thank you especially to my mother and grandmother who have loved me when I was seemed unlovable, taught me when I looked unteachable, and held me tight when I resisted being held and in doing so, passed on their faith, joy, and determination to do good in this world.

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the agony of underwear

May 5, 2010 by

This is a rant, a full-on rant. I don’t expect anyone else to agree with me – you can all think I am loony if you want, but I am still going to have my rant!

I like my girls to wear white, modest (not bikini or hipster…or heaven forbid, thong!) underwear. We don’t do characters in this house for anything (meaning I don’t want my children to be attached to the latest craze of TV show, movie star, or action figure – I want them to be attached to God, family, and freedom. All that Spider Man, Dora, Sponge Bob, and Barbie stuff can go hang out at another house because we don’t want it here.) and I certainly don’t want their underwear to have characters on it. I don’t want to bribe my children to go potty so they can keep their Princess panties clean. “We wouldn’t want Belle to get wet, would we?”

I understand that some people use this method. Its just not my method. If its yours, fine, do what you want.

So, my little Annesley decided she was done with diapers thirteen days ago. She goes into the bathroom all by herself or comes and finds one of us to take her. She goes in our bathroom, in public bathrooms, at our friends’ bathrooms. She is a diaper-wearing-haven’t-a-clue-when-I’m-going-potty turned master-of-my-pee-and-poop-and-total-pro-at-this-whole-bathroom-thing. It happened overnight, literally. One day she was fairly clueless, the next she used the bathroom like twelve times.

The problem is, she doesn’t have any underwear. There are none left that I can find from Blythe and Keziah. They could perhaps be buried in a clothing tote somewhere, but I went through the 2T box and couldn’t find any. So, yesterday I took her shopping to find some. She was so excited and kept telling everyone “Me, wear, new wear me, mom me new wear” Which means, “I am getting underwear, new underwear, mom is taking me to get new underwear.”

I went to Sears, which with my older girls was my favorite place to get underwear. I loved their TKS stuff. Great prices, soft cotton, nice, stretchy elastic, and came in packs of all-white or a mix of white and pastels. Yesterday, all that was changed into thin, scratchy cotton, thin elastic, and worst of all, the yucky feeling fabric was covered in characters. Uuuuggghhh! is what escaped me lips and I told Annes we couldn’t buy this underwear, we would go to another store. Disappointed, but still excited we moved on to JCP with a brief stop at Old Navy just in case they had something fabulous to cover my girl’s bum. Nothing at Old Navy at all, only characters available at JCP. On our way to Macy’s we passed the Gymboree store. So we tried there. They had fabulously soft cotton undies, not quite the brief style that I prefer, but possibly do-able. No white. Only bright, garish, grown-up looking prints. Leopard print on two-year-old underwear? It was also $4 a pair (why is underwear called a pair? It is one single thing with two holes. It was really $4 each.) which is out of this mama’s budget. So, we continued on to Macy’s (with a quick stop at a public restroom for Annes to empty her bladder). Surely they would have something lovely at such an outrageously expensive store as Macy’s. Nope. Back out to the car. We then tried TJMaxx, Kohl’s, Ross, and Walmart. I looked at Shopko awhile ago and there was nothing but characters then, so I didn’t try them again. I could still try Target and Fred Meyer, but I ran out of time. Nothing. Nothing! Annes was pretty heartbroken by this point and I was frustrated beyond belief (I know, I shouldn’t have gotten her hopes up, I should have looked myself without her so she wouldn’t have to endure the excitement-disappointment-rekindled hope-disappointment cycle).

Some stores didn’t even have underwear in anything smaller than a size 4. My little girl can barely wear the size 2T/3T size underwear, the size 4 looked humongous. Everywhere we looked there were characters, characters, and more characters. Bikini cuts, hipsters, Hannah Montana, Princess and the Frog, and myriads of other Hollywood produced idols that my little Annes doesn’t even know exist. I opened all sorts of packages and felt the cotton, most of it was unbearable scratchy. I wouldn’t want it touching my skin and I wasn’t about to have it touch hers.

I know this probably sounds silly to many of you…I mean, spending hours looking for underwear for a two-year-old? I know, I know, it seems like it doesn’t really matter what covers their bums. The problem is that it matters a lot to me and I can’t just turn that part of me off. I feel this huge responsibility to guard what I bring into their lives. I know they will encounter stuff in the world that I don’t approve of, but that doesn’t mean I have to give it to them. I can’t let myself feel good about impressing upon their little minds that all of this stuff is good. I don’t want them to attach importance to the things Hollywood puts out. I don’t want them to become dependent on it. I don’t want them to feel they want or need to have a shirt or pants or shoes or book or toy because it has a character they like on it. I certainly am not up to dealing with a tantrum over said item when they absolutely-must-have-it-right-this-minute. I have no patience for stuff like that. None. I want tantrums to be over something important, not the Sponge Bob coloring book that is overpriced and under quality (you know that is a joke, right? I don’t want tantrums over anything, but if I’m going to get them it better be over something more important). I want them to be able to judge something for its innate value, how well it is made, how well it will serve them, how reasonably or unreasonably it is priced instead of being swayed because it has a certain character on it.

We never found anything up to my specifications, but I did finally buy her some at Walmart that are colorful and soft and don’t have characters. She picked them out and is very proud of them. There were only four pairs (there is that “pairs” again) in the package, so she really needs some more because there is no way my laundry habits can keep up with that. So, if you know of some fabulous underwear somewhere, please let me know (and yes, I do know about Hanna Andersson underwear, it is heavenly, it is $6 a pair and I am not willing to pay those prices no matter how soft and organic the cotton is).

Meanwhile, I am contemplating starting an internet underwear business specializing in white, modest underwear in sizes to fit everyone from the smallest of human beings to the largest of us, so I can save other mothers this same hassle. Are there any other mothers out there that need saved from the bikini cut and mass marketing of characters to our children’s private parts?

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i’m in print

Apr 29, 2010 by

Years and years ago…like when I only had two children and they were very small…I wrote an article for a friend’s book. She published it and then it was submitted to the Latter-Day Saint Home Education Association. They published it in their newsletter, The Sentinel.

Now they have reissued it to their new subscribers. You can read it here.

It is somewhat funny to read it now because I am so not the same mother I was then. I thought I knew so much about motherhood. I was striving fiercely to create a wonderful family unit.

Now? Some of those things are not getting done. Maybe I need to get back in the habit of a Saturday Night Devotional. Maybe I need to assess where we are and what we need to improve upon. Maybe some of the things in the article can be let go – I don’t know. I just know reading it this morning was like a trip down memory lane – back to a time of much less chaos, commitments, and laundry. Back to a time of two little girls who loved nothing more than to snuggle up and listen to me read to them for hours and hours every day. Who loved to go on walks looking for rocks and bugs and injured animals to save. Who loved to act out scripture stories and thought it was the greatest fun possible. Back to a time of good employment and plenty of time with dad. Back to a time of knowing what my children needed and not needing to feel like an amateur psychologist just to get through breakfast.

Go check it out, maybe there will be some priceless thoughts for you…and maybe not…

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some motherhood thoughts

Apr 18, 2010 by

Mothering my thirteen year old has been fairly difficult lately. That is probably an understatement. I do not understand this girl. I don’t understand her needs, wants, dreams, or frustrations. I am often impatient with her and lately have been completely exasperated with her. Like ready to lose my mind, my temper, and my ever-lovin’ heart.

Truly.

So, last night after beating myself up for not being the mother I wanted to be this week – you know, the wise, patient, continually calm, nurturing mother – I decided to try to think about what I am good at in this whole mothering thing.

I’m pretty good at:

1. Reading out loud to my children.

2. Creating fabulous experiences for them.

3. Being united with their father.

4. Having a vision of what I want for our family.

5. Listening to and implementing what God wants for our family.

6. Teaching them about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

7. Inspiring them with stories of heroes who are brave, true, steadfast, and humble.

8. Providing lots of books about every topic under the sun.

9. Being pretty darn relaxed about most things.

10. Knowing how to laugh and have fun.

11. Being willing to make huge changes in my life plans to obey promptings I have been given.

12. Modeling self-education.

13. Nurturing them as babies through lots of holding, snuggling, nursing, etc.

14. Singing to them pretty much all the time.

15. Teaching them my family history.

16. Pretty patient, most days.

17. I make sure they start out their lives on earth in peace, safety, and love without any drugs in their bodies.

18. I drink really gross herbal concoctions to help their little bodies develop well.

19. I am willing to talk to them about any subject under the sun and they know it.

20. I provided (okay, I really had nothing to do with it, God did it) a fabulous father for them.

21. I feed them healthy food most of the time.

22. I don’t freak out if they are covered in mud, have blood running down their face, or have broken something in our home.

Now, that list should help me feel a bit better. I’ll try to let those words sink in down to my little toes and swirl around my heart and fill me with some TLC.

I, of course, came up with a much longer list of things I am not so great at, but I am going to try to focus on the good things so I can feel a bit better about myself.

In this pondering process, I realized some things: Blythe is a whole lot like me. I like to think she is a whole lot different (and she is), but she is also somewhat similar. You see, she feels things deeply. Very deeply. Her depth of emotion has always been a whole lot more than I could understand. But I have learned something these last few days. The reason I don’t understand her depth of emotion is because it is about things that I don’t feel passionate about. Things I may believe are irrelevant or illogical or nonsensical. So I treat them that way in my heart. I try to treat her as a person having rational emotions (are emotions ever rational?) but in my heart, I feel like she is being irrelevant, illogical, or nonsensical…and she feels that. She knows my heart is not really with her. And so, her walls come up and my patience weakens and she cries and I forget all about how much I love her and who she is and how her coming into my life completely changed everything and I become heartless.

Have you ever had that experience? Where the person you treasure most of all is suddenly a problem to you. Suddenly an inconvenience? A burden?

You know, when she was a little girl her passions were endearing. Around the age of three she started a litter passion. If she saw litter anywhere she had to pick it up. Soooo, if we were in a store or a restaurant and she looked outside and saw some litter she had to go pick it up. RIGHT NOW.

When she learned that whales were being killed, she was furious. She couldn’t eat or think or live. All she could do was rage about the evil whalers and how she was going to STOP.THEM.ALL.

By the age of three she was telling pretty much everyone she met all the stories in the Book of Mormon whether they wanted to hear them or not. She was on a mission to teach people about Jesus and Nephi and Moroni and Teancum.

Now? They are not so endearing. Now, her passions are deeper than ever and they are never-ending and they do not make sense to me and they get in the way of my plans. And she informs me of them way to late for me to help her achieve them or forgets to tell me at all. Or loses the paper she wrote them down on. Or mumbles something about it and expects me to know exactly what is going on in her brain.

How crazy is that? Being frustrated with my precious daughter because she has passions and needs and dreams that I don’t understand.

I need to remember just who she is and how much I do adore her…even when she has lost something AGAIN, is crying over unfulfilled expectations, is determined to save the world, or is angry at perceived injustice.

She is mine. She is wonderful. She is beautiful. She is determined. She is messy. She is forgetful. She is virtuous. She is mine and she is God’s.

I hope I’ll be better to her this week.

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missing children

Feb 21, 2010 by

Today at church someone said “Aren’t you missing one of your children?” I tried to hide the shock I felt and stuff down the tears that were emerging and responded “Nope, they are all here.” He said, “Really? Just four – I thought you had more.” “Nope, just four.” said with as big of a smile as I could muster.

Then he said “Are you done?”

Whoooaaaahh. I tried to act relaxed and like it wasn’t cutting me to the core. I said “I don’t know, we are waiting to see what God says about that.” It’s the best I could do – I certainly wasn’t going to explain anything to this man standing in the foyer with me, but I wanted to be truthful without being emotional, flippant, or bitter. I tried to answer the questions simply without any fanfare. I think I succeeded, but I don’t know for sure.

Because yeah, there are some missing. And these questions were just too close to home.

I think of the twins we miscarried back in 2001. Little girls with curly blond hair and blue eyes. After we lost the first twin, I believed I was okay emotionally because I thought, “At least I am still pregnant with this one. Something must have been wrong with that baby, but at least I will get to keep this one.” Then we miscarried the second twin on Keziah’s first birthday at the exact same time as her birth. It was the same length as her labor and was just as intense. These were our first two miscarriages and I was in shock. Total shock. I remember crying my eyes out with my friend Delinda and wondering how I would ever make it through this. I remember her wise counsel to take time to grieve and to let my grieving be as intense or as mild, as long or as short as it needed to be. I remember being grateful when it was all over because now I could move on and have another baby…because of course it would never happen again. How little I knew.

I think of the baby the next July, then November, then another the next July, then again in December. I think of the two babies we lost after Fisher. Those were quite the surprise because all the luteal phase issues were fixed. Didn’t matter – babies were still not making it into our arms.

I think of the baby this last October and the sobering reality that hit me that this is who I am. A mother who miscarries babies over and over and over. A mother that can’t stay pregnant even when there is nothing obviously wrong with her. A mother to nine babies that didn’t join her family on earth.

I know this man wasn’t trying to hurt me, he was just commenting that we seemed to be missing someone and the truth is we are.

Will there ever be more to fill our little family or are we done?

I don’t know, I really don’t know.

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you are worth more to me

Feb 19, 2010 by

I have some favorite blogs I read to give me inspiration for my motherhood journey. One of my favorites is A Path Made Straight where Eliana paints a picture of her walk with God as a mother so vividly I walk away painted anew every time I visit her site.

Today’s post touched me profoundly. What are my children worth to me and how am I sending that message to them?

Read this for the loveliest post about just that.

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i am a mother

Feb 16, 2010 by

The last couple of days I have been drawn inward. Pondering. Wondering. Trying to sort it all out. Trying to just kick myself out of this depressed funk. Yesterday I started rearranging my kitchen drawers and cupboards in an attempt to distract myself from the frustration I have been feeling. It didn’t really work, but it did give me a project to work on and feel accomplished about. A friend called and asked if she could come over and I told her I wasn’t up to it. I ignored phone calls from pretty much everyone. I knew they would be full of pity and sorrow and I just can’t take anyone’s emotions on top of my own.

Today I was in the same mood. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t want to have to explain it to anyone. I just want to be NORMAL! I want to have a normal menstrual cycle. I want to be able to get pregnant and stay pregnant. I want to have as many babies as I can in the next few years before I stop releasing eggs. I want, I want, I want. The reality is I need to stop wanting and be happy with the way things are. Well, the more I told myself those words over the last few days the less I have listened to myself. Telling myself I should do something never works for me.

This afternoon I drove Keziah to her colloquium on A Dog of Flanders and I forced myself to be present with my children on the drive there. They needed me to pay attention to them, to give myself to them, to reassure them that I was still “in” there. We started singing songs and the more we sang, the happier I was. I loved hearing my children sing. I loved watching Annesley’s face in my rear view mirror as she belted out “I don’t know wwwwwwwhhhhhhhyyyyyyyyy she swallowed that fly, perhaps she’ll ddddiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeee!” I had a great time with them and I realized something.

I am a mother.

I get to be with my children every single day.

I love my life.

Tonight I went to New Beginnings with Blythe. As the young women stood in front of us and sang “Walk Tall, You’re a Daughter” I started crying. Hard. Tears streamed down my face as I thought “Tracy, you were born to do this – to raise righteous daughters, full of virtue and truth. To be a mother of daughters. To help raise the next generation of women.” As the song progressed, the words sank deep into my heart and I realized God was talking to me, giving me this message to help heal my heart. I cried and cried and fell in love with the Lord all over again.

Walk Tall, You’re A Daughter

Right now I have a prayer deep within my heart,
A prayer for each of you there is a special part –
That you remember who you are and Him who lives above.
Please seek for him and live His way;
You’ll feel His love.

Walk tall, you’re a daughter, a child of God.
Be strong; please remember who you are.
Try to understand; you’re part of His great plan.
He’s closer than you know.
Reach up; He’ll take your hand.

Long before the time you can remember,
Our Father held you in His arms so tender.
Those loving arms released you as He sent you down to earth.
He said, my child, I love you.
Don’t forget your great worth.

Walk tall, you’re a daughter, a child of God.
Be strong; please remember who you are.
Try to understand; you’re part of His great plan.
He’s closer than you know.
Reach up; He’ll take your hand.

This life on earth we knew would not be easy.
At times we lose our way;
His path we may not see.
But please remember always, please, that you are not alone.
He’ll take your hand. He loves you!
He will guide you home.

Walk tall, you’re a daughter, a child of God.
Be strong; please remember who you are.
Try to understand; you’re part of His great plan.
He’s closer than you know.
Reach up; He’ll take your hand.

Words and music by Jamie Glenn

I am so grateful to be a daughter of God – to be able to walk with Him and for Him and by Him. I am grateful to be in His hands and to have the blessings, the trials, and the lessons He gives me. I am grateful to be part of His plan.

I am grateful to be a mother to all my babies. I’m not giving up on more of them joining us here on earth, but I am going to try to be content with the ones I have for now…and to be “with” them, to be fully present for them and focus on nurturing their little hearts to trust in the Lord, love their family, and be God’s hands in this world.

The Young Women theme for this year is exactly what I needed to hear tonight. Here it is for you all to enjoy and take strength from as well.

Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

Joshua 1:9

I know God is with me – short luteal phases, miscarried babies, days of depression and all.

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defective

Feb 15, 2010 by

Camille, Tami, and I have a long running joke that I should get a t-shirt to wear to family reunions that says “Yes, I AM defective.” Why, you ask? To answer all the questions I get about why I have so many fewer children than they do. I had two children when they both had five. Now I have four while Camille has seven and Tami just gave birth to her eighth. Great-aunts, cousins, uncles, and even total strangers have said “What is wrong with you? Why do you only have ___________ children when they have ___________?” Sometimes it makes me laugh because it is so predictable. Sometimes it makes me laugh because it is so rude. Sometimes it makes me cry. Sometimes it makes me want to scream. Sometimes I lash out and say awful things like “I actually miscarried for the __________ time just a few weeks ago, thank you for bringing it up AGAIN!” I try really hard to realize that people don’t know. People are just trying to make sense of the incongruity of three best friends and cousins who are very similar in most things yet don’t have anywhere close to the same amount of children.

After Keziah’s birth, I was defective. I had luteal phases of 1-2 days and follicular phases of 30-60 days. I did not produce enough progesterone to maintain a pregnancy and consequently we lost four babies in a row. We remedied the problem…or God did…and then thinking all was better, we got pregnant again and lost another baby and then another. Six babies lost in three years. It was devastating to my emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual life. I was at a complete loss to know what to do, what to trust, what to pray for, what to hope for. I didn’t want to ever be pregnant again. I knew I could not bear to lose another child. I was angry, hurt, and filled with grief.

It has been six years since I have had luteal phase issues. I thought I had figured out what my body needed and how to have a normal luteal phase. They have been 14 days ever since then, pretty much to the minute.

Until now. Last August, I had a 13 day luteal phase. No big deal right? Then in September, it went to 12 days. Then it would play around at 12-13 days ever since then. I wasn’t worried, just bothered when I was counting on it being at 14 days and I would start bleeding earlier than I expected.

This time? NINE days. There is no way a pregnancy can be sustained with a nine-day luteal phase.

So last night, I was right back to where I was all those years ago. Once again, full of anger, grief, frustration, distrust of my body. I have started wanting a new baby and just last night at dinner, Richard said, “she’s not a baby anymore, we need a new baby in this house.” Then the bleeding began.

I am so tired of this.

The funny thing is, this condition has a name. It is called Luteal Phase Defect.

So, I guess it is true.

I am defective.

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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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annesley aliyah

Nov 26, 2009 by

I asked for a miracle
I got one!
It was not what I asked for,
but it was exactly what I needed.

I remember so clearly the week that Annesley’s life began. Maybe it is because she is my youngest child and it wasn’t all that long ago – but maybe it is because God wants me to remember exactly who is guiding me.

I remember being told by our business partners that our business was going to close in two weeks. I remember being shocked, angry, in fact, even furious. I remember the helplessness I felt to solve this problem…and I remember praying to my Heavenly Father to please give us a miracle. Please help there be SOME other answer. Please don’t take away what we have worked so hard for nearly 5 years to build. Please, please, please.

I remember reading a book that week called A Mom Just Like You by Vickie Farris, a homeschooling mother of ten. There is a chapter in that book about letting God plan your family and not using birth control. We had been opposed to birth control for years and I had been teaching Natural Family Planning classes to interested couples for a long time, so I thought, hmmm, this sounds like something I already agree with, I’ll just skim it a little while I fall asleep. Something in Vickie’s words pricked my heart and made me realize I was not being completely willing to let God plan our family. I realized I had been telling Him I was not ready to try again to have a baby after numerous miscarriages. I was not ready to let my heart be broken again. I was not ready to throw up repeatedly day after day. I was not ready to deal with a baby again. I was not ready to bring a child into the world when our business was falling apart.

I read Richard some of the chapter and told him I thought we needed to really leave this in the Lord’s hands…and even though I was not entirely convinced myself…we told God He could send us a baby if He felt that this was the right time, knowing everything that was going on in our lives and the fragility of my wounded heart. Well, less than 24 hours later I was throwing up (yes, supposedly this is impossible, but it happens to me every time!) and craving Johnny Carino’s Caesar salad.

That Friday afternoon at ice skating, I remember thinking, this is NOT even funny. How can I be nauseated already? How will we make it through this pregnancy with our last check coming in two weeks? How will my children survive mom being sick, exhausted, and in pain? How will my pelvis hold up? What is the status of my uterine ligaments and for that matter, my uterus itself? See, I had been told after Fisher’s birth that my pelvis and ligaments were so damaged in the car accident I had at 40 weeks pregnant with him that I shouldn’t have more children. I really, really knew that I could not endure another birth and recovery like I had had with Fisher and was scared to death that that might happen. I didn’t really know if I could even carry this pregnancy to term because I had just had 2 miscarriages in a row. I was full to the brim with fear, worry, and a definite lack of faith.

I also remember being a little giddy thinking of a new little baby and if this one could possibly make it into my arms since he/she was so obviously an answer from God. I remember laughing and joking with my friend and talking about having a November baby.

By eight weeks I was in maternity clothes and I started to believe maybe this baby would make it. By twelve weeks I was showing a ton and getting pretty sure this baby would make it. I remember hearing her heartbeat and being ecstatic. At fifteen weeks we went camping for a week for swim camp and I made chocolate peanut butter smoothies for all the pregnant moms each morning. The weeks went by, I grew, the baby grew, and all my energies were focused on being a pregnant mama and overcoming the debilitating fear I had stored in my body from Fisher’s birth. Soon, November arrived along with lots of contractions. For some reason, I always thought I would have this baby before Thanksgiving. I thought that having Fisher at 40 weeks meant I no longer had to go days and days and days past 40 weeks. We made Thanksgiving plans, knowing I would have a 1 or 2 week old baby. But, no. I am destined to have long pregnancies, just like my mother and grandmother and four days AFTER Thanksgiving our little girlie arrived.

I remember being on the phone the night of the 25th with my sister-in-law, Sandy, working on Mom & Dad’s Christmas present that she was making. I needed to send her family photos and for some reason Richard’s computer was not making it easy for me to get these photos to her. I remember her asking me about the baby and me basically saying that I didn’t feel like the birth was going to be anytime soon. I was feeling nothing and figured I could easily go another week. Then I talked to my dear friend and doula who was leaving at 9 a.m. the next morning for a ten day trip to Washington. We cried together because we both knew she would not be able to attend my birth and both our hearts were broken at this turn of events. She tried hard to give me a pep talk about that God knew I could give birth without her because He wasn’t sending this baby yet and that maybe I needed this experience, that it would be a new and different experience that I would learn great things from. I really didn’t want to hear any of it. I wanted to have given birth two weeks before so that none of this was an issue. I wanted to look into her eyes as I labored and to feel the strength of her faith fill my soul.

Next, I talked to my midwife and she tried to give me the same pep talk that my doula gave me. Again, I wanted to hear none of it and went to bed devastated that my dear friend would not be there. See, I have attended all her births and she has attended all of mine but Blythe’s. We have shared miscarriages, worry, prayer, hope, tears, hugs, 2 hour phone calls, and everything in between. I could not imagine giving birth without her…and I knew now that it was 10 p.m. on the night before she was leaving that I had to somehow wrap myself around this new plan. I didn’t want to do it. I was so, so frustrated.

Around 3 a.m. I woke up to labor! What a delightful surprise! I could not believe it was really happening and quickly called my mom to get her on her way and then called my doula and midwife. Everyone started on their way, Richard started filling the tub, and I rocked through contractions. Soon, I needed Richard to be right with me, pushing on my sacrum once again. Around 5 a.m. my doula slipped into my bedroom and right into place next to me on my bed. I was still laughing and talking in between contractions at this point, but they quickly changed into “this is serious business, do not distract me by talking about miscellaneous topics” contractions. After multiple visits to the restroom to empty my bowels and my stomach (Do you know what an out of control experience it is to have volumes of fluid coming out your mouth, nose, and bottom all at the same time? Let me tell you, it is NOT enjoyable!) I slipped into the birth pool and was enveloped by its warmth and support.

Laboring in water is HEAVEN!

My pelvis was really hurting by this time and I was feeling a lot like I did during Fisher’s birth physically, but emotionally it was all different. I knew I was okay. I knew I was going to make it. I knew God wanted me to have this baby. That He had given her to us and that somehow He had healed my body enough for me to make it through this pregnancy. Because of this, I knew He had a plan for this birth.

Richard pushed on my pelvis, Delinda looked in my eyes, Keziah fed me homemade popsicles (you’ve got to try the R.W. Knudson Morning Blend juice to make your labor popsicles with…they are, hands down, the best), and Blythe was helpful in every way. Everything I needed she did with a gentleness that astounded me. She nurtured me that day in a way that hasn’t happened since she was a little girl and still thought I was the most amazing mom ever. My midwife arrived, my mom arrived, and everyone was thrilled that I was giving birth after such a journey to get to that point.

We could not figure out how to relieve the pressure on my pubic bone. It was hurting so much and I could not get any relief from numerous position changes. We tried using a hot water bottle, but it was not pliable enough to bend and fit how I needed it to. Someone had the brilliant idea to use a camelback…PERFECTION! It was plenty squishy and conformed to my body fabulously well.

A huge contraction came, my water broke, and out came Annesley into the hands of our midwife around 8:30 in the morning! What JOY! She laid on my chest for awhile, snuggled up and looking into my eyes. The depth of spirit that a brand new baby shows in her eyes is breathtaking. It is like looking straight into the essence of creation. I can always see that this soul has understanding that we don’t have. Their eyes are giant pools of wisdom, love, and truth.

That is exactly how Annesely’s eyes were that day. I remember feeling her great love for me. Her patience with me. And most of all, her joyful confidence that everything would be okay.

My doula left shortly afterwards so she could make it on her trip and we rejoiced together at the perfect timing of the Lord that enabled her to attend our birth.

Snuggling up with her in my bed that day healed so much of the pain of Fisher’s birth. I was not injured. I was not incapacitated. I was living proof that God CAN and DOES work miracles today. I was told my uterine ligaments would never heal…and yet, her birth, was proof that through His power they were healed. What a gift to be given from a loving Father…to be a miracle…and to have a child.

Annesely is now turning two years old. She is full of love, full of joy, and most of all, full of peace. Her eyes are bright and communicate the message that “it’s okay, it’s all gonna be okay.” I love this little girl so much. She has changed me and helped me to remember the joy of life and what is really most important.

You see, God knew that what we needed to get through our financial disaster was a little bundle of happiness and adorableness all wrapped up into one blue-eyed girlie who brings us joy everyday.

Happy Birthday Goo! We all love you!

Two days old
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Two weeks old
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Six weeks old
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With her signature white hat made by Amy
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Remember my post about the ranch dressing and yellow paint disaster? Here is the proof…

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Look at her eyes in all these pictures. See how they are full of joy and love? Doesn’t it fill you with happiness just to see her?

Thank you for coming when you did my girlie, you are exactly what I needed then and your smiles help get me through every single day.

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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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and now there are nine

Oct 8, 2009 by

Nine babies have come into our lives and left before we could hold them in our arms. Of course, that doesn’t mean we didn’t hold them in our hearts. I can tell you from experience that it takes approximately one second to go from not knowing you are pregnant, to knowing you are pregnant, to falling in love with your child and seeing the rest of your life holding, nursing, singing, carrying, pushing on the swing, teaching them how to ride a bike, going on walks, and reading books together.

It happens that fast.

We have been through this now nine times. Nine heartbreaking losses.

When I started spotting Monday night, I hoped it was something else. I had no cramping and I was still nauseous, so I went to bed hoping I was imagining those little brown streaks on the toilet paper. Tuesday morning, there were more brown streaks. Enough now that I really couldn’t convince myself that they didn’t exist. I went out and ran some errands around Salt Lake and then the cramping began. Not menstrual level cramping, but strong, “I need someone to hold me” cramping. The blood was flowing out of me and I had nothing to contain it. I went into Wal-mart and bought some pads and then stayed in the bathroom and cried for a long time. I called Richard and sobbed. I am sure the people at the store thought I was bonkers.

That night I attended the graduation ceremonies of the Midwives’ College of Utah. It was a wonderful experience and it was wonderful to be surrounded by midwives and those studying to be midwives. Great energy was flowing. I held it together and had a smile on my face, but inside I was dying. I went to bed that night hoping for some much needed rest, but ended up staying up all night with cramps on par with early labor. I wanted to be wrapped up in my husband’s arms. I wanted to sob into his chest and hear his words of love. I needed his hands to push on my back. But I was alone with Annesley and she needed me to hold her.

Miscarriage.

I really don’t like that word.

It is a loss. A loss of a baby. A loss of a dream. A loss of a family member.

My emotions are raw as I type this, but I had to get it out there this morning. This blog of mine has become my place to chronicle my life, the good and the bad, and I don’t want to forget the events of this week. I wish I had written about my other eight babies and the feelings surrounding their conceptions and passings.

Today I am a mother with four living children. I am going to snuggle up with my children who are here and give them all the love I can. They need me and I need them.

Goodbye little one.

I love you.

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keziah elisheva turns 9!

Oct 3, 2009 by

Miss Keziah, this precious and powerful spirit that entered my life many years ago, is turning nine years old today. She has been a mover and a shaker since before she was born and she is full of at least five normal people’s energy levels.

I remember so clearly the night she was born. I went on a walk around 7 p.m. and told her I was ready (so incredibly ready!) for her to come and I promised her I would be a good mother to her. I promised her I would teach her the gospel of Christ and that I would do all I could to help her return to her Father in Heaven. I knew she was listening and feeling my words to her. I knew she believed me. I knew she wanted to come. But I still wasn’t in labor – not a single contraction had passed through my body.

I went home and swept and mopped the kitchen floor. I asked Richard for a blessing, then I went to bed at 9:30. Still no contractions. I figured this baby would come the next day sometime and I was grateful my mom was on her way so she could get settled in before labor started.

I was awakened out of my falling-asleep-reverie at 9:36 with a huge contraction. This was not an early labor contraction. It was not a 45 second contraction. It was a full on transition-like contraction. I could not move. I could not do anything, but lay there and try to relax. Richard came right in and started pushing on my back. He left after that one to go and heat a rice sock, but I called him right back in. They were coming right on top of each other and they were STRONG. He tried his best to fill the birth pool, keep rice socks warm, give me drinks of water, and surround me with encouragement in between contractions. But during them he had to be right there pushing on my back. He knows that is what I need to get through labor and nothing else matters except for his big, wonderful hands pushing down on my sacrum and giving me some measure of relief from “back labor.”

Thankfully he knew that I was having a fast, intense labor and he called the midwives and doula to come now. I had no idea that this was going to be fast and assumed I would be having these POWERFUL contractions for another 10 hours.

Contrary to all my training as a doula and a childbirth educator, I did not get off the bed. I did not have an active labor full of walking, lunging, and squatting. I could not move. By the time a contraction would end, I would take a breath and the next one would start leaving me no time to get in to a different position or even think about what my options were.

Finally, my mom and doula arrived. What a relief to have someone to look at, someone to hold my hand. I was so grateful they were there and that Richard and I were no longer alone.

I HAD to go to the bathroom. I told everyone, “I am getting up after the next contraction.” I rolled/slid/let gravity pull me off the bed and made it all the way to the birth ball next to the bed. I had a contraction as soon as I got there and was not going any further. Then I had a nice long break after that contraction, enough so that my mom said, “wow, this is a bit of a break for you” and I responded with much passion “DON’T talk about it! That means the next one is going to be HUGE!” Well, the next one was huge. It was such an amazing feeling to be part of this force moving through me and to yet be separate from it and to be evaluating what a contraction of that size and strength must mean. At the peak of that contraction, my waters burst from me, soaking the birth ball, the carpet, and the rice sock that was at the bottom of my uterus. Since I was the most knowledgeable person in the room, I went into caretaker mode and said “I need a flashlight. I need to know if there is meconium. Hurry! Get me a light.” I was already into the next contraction and couldn’t even move to look at the fluid, so I was trying to instruct them in what to look for. Craziness, isn’t it?

Even at that moment, I had NO idea how far along in labor I was. My mom had my second rice sock and tried to get me to put it back in its position under my uterus and I hollered, “No, I am soaking wet! Let me dry off first so that one doesn’t get ruined as well! It has to last another 8 hours!”

At the end of that contraction, I knew I had to go to the bathroom. And I knew I HAD to get into the birth pool. My mom and my doula went to the other bathroom and the kitchen to brush teeth and go potty themselves, figuring they would join me in the front room when I made it to the birth pool. I gathered all my strength and waddled as fast as I could to the bathroom, but when I got to the toilet and pulled my clothes down, my baby’s head was in my hand! I called out “I have her whole head in my hand!” Richard guided me to the floor and helped me through those last few moments before she was all the way out. Right then, my midwives arrived and caught Keziah. My mom and doula missed the birth and were shocked when they came back and I had a baby in my arms!

Keziah’s birth is a microcosm of her life. She is a great decision maker and when she decides to do something, there is no stopping her, just like the day she decided to finally come. She is strong, fast, brave, active, and determined. She was trying to roll over the night she was born and strained her little neck muscles to get her head to lift up. She walked at 8 months, ran (fast) at 10 months, and hasn’t stopped since. She climbed everything in sight as soon as she was able…like the dryer, the fridge, and the shelves at the library…all before she was one. She always knows exactly what day it is, what time it is, what direction we are going, and where every thing in our home is located (Thank goodness because the rest of us can never find anything. Now we don’t even try to find stuff, we just ask Keziah, and she will run and get it from whatever messy corner it is hiding in and give us a lecture on how weird we are that we didn’t know it was under 12 books, 3 shoes, some dirty clothes, and the train set!).

Keziah writes her papa and I love notes most days of the week. She likes to leave them on our pillows and surprise us. She likes to be packed and ready to go at least a week in advance of any trip we go on, but often is all ready a month ahead of time. She keeps the rest of us in line and knows what is going on with everyone at any given moment. She hears every conversation going on anywhere even remotely near her and is shocked that Blythe has no clue what is going on the house.

She cracks me up. She is hilarious.

She is a natural athlete and just completed her first kid’s triathlon. She outruns kids twice her size and outswims them as well. She is a great gymnast, cyclist, and is probably best known for her skill at “Capture the Flag.” I think she is pure muscles.

She just grew into size 6 clothes, but she still has to have an adjustable waist so they stay up. She really prefers to wear Fisher’s hand me downs (or is that ups?) as capris and I am constantly having to tell her to stay out of Annesley’s clothes.

She has a beautiful voice. I love to hear her sing, which isn’t a problem at all since she pretty much sings ALL DAY LONG. Sometimes I do have to ask her to stop after 10 hours straight, but most of the time it is a delight to my soul.

She loves the color blue. I think it started because Blythe loves the color pink and she didn’t want to love anything that Blythe loved. In this one area she has lost all of her good decision making ability. She cannot see that something is a piece of junk because if it is blue, she says she LOVES it. I try to convince her that the color of something doesn’t matter, it is the quality that matters, and then you can look at colors after you have determined quality, but all my pontificating falls on deaf ears because she is enamored by all shades of blue. There is simply no reasoning with her. We are hoping this phase will pass soon.

Keziah is a ball of energy. When she is gone, it feels as if ten people (and we don’t even have 10 people to start with!) are missing from our home. Every thing is so quiet. So still. So calm.

I love my Keziah-kid. She keeps me on my toes, brings a smile to my mouth, and helps me find my shoes nearly every day.

Here are some pics of her (notice how often she has a hilarious face…see I told you she was hilarious…

Keziah's Blessing

Keziah in car seat

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home smiles

Sep 28, 2009 by

We have had a rough day – lots of moans, groans, glares, yells, and arguments. We had a lot of catching up to do on the dishes and laundry and school work and trying to get back into a routine is always difficult for this family of “routine rejectors.” I am not feeling well at all, Blythe is still sick, and the other three all needed much more of me than I had been giving them the last few weeks, so today my purpose was to fill our souls with love, good books, laughter, and some work around the house to put things back in order. I wanted them to feel like I was HERE with them, that they belong to a wonderful family, that they are secure and cherished and valued and important. Instead, I had one of them tell me they hate me, another tell me I am completely unfair, another cry while I tried to catch up the dishes to some semblance of cleanliness and order, and another whine for hours about going to the park. I’m feeling pretty much a failure at motherhood today.

I just opened up Our Home by C.E. Sargent and while I was flipping through I landed on the chapter “Home Smiles.” Listen to this gem:

When two smiles have met, two souls are acquainted. A smile is the sign that a soul gives when it would examine another soul…

By smiles we do not mean that which takes the place of loud laughter when the occasion is insufficient to provoke us to more noisy demonstrations. Nor do we mean either the transient smile with which one regards the ludicrous, or the habitual smile that often accompanies a low degree of thought-power. There is a smile that originates neither in the sense of the ludicrous, nor in thoughtlessness. Like certain articles of dress such smiles are becoming on all occasions. They sit with equal grace upon the visage of joy and of sorrow. They seem as appropriate when they wreathe the mother’s thoughtful face as when they live in the dimpled cheek of laughing girlhood, or with their magic play transform tear-stained eyes to twinkling stars.

These are the smiles with which we would adorn every home. We would set them as vases of flowers in every human abode.

Smiles should be the legal tender in every family for the payment of all debts of kindness, and each member should be willing to take this currency at its face value; for its value is beyond the reach of those disturbing influences that shake the world of commerce. And, what is better than all, it can never be demonetized, for it bears the immutable stamp of the divine government.

Goal for tomorrow – a lot more smiles! Heartfelt, soul-sustaining smiles.

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fisher eli turns 5

Sep 18, 2009 by

Today my little boy, my only boy, my “big boy” as he likes to remind me often, is turning 5. Five. FIVE years old! How did that happen I ask you? As I think back on his life I am filled with emotions of love and gratitude for his life.

His pregnancy was incredibly difficult. I wanted him so desperately. So achingly. So much. We had been through six miscarriages since Keziah’s birth and I wanted this baby to stay alive. I needed this baby to stay alive. And yet, I was struggling.

You see, I knew in my heart that this child growing inside me was a boy-child. I was terrified of having a boy. I did not want a boy. I did not want to raise a boy that might grow up and hurt others. I could not face that reality, for that is what I saw it as, a reality, not just a possibility. I wanted this boy so much and yet I was terrified of having a boy.

I made myself sick over this. I had an ear infection. Then a spleen infection. Then a liver infection. Then a kidney infection. I was making myself SICK because I didn’t know how to handle the fact that I was having a boy. After months of this nonsense, my Heavenly Father gave me the answer that I needed to have peace. Then all the fear was gone. All the craziness disappeared just. like. that. In an instant.

At 40 weeks pregnant, I was in a car accident which damaged my already very weakened pelvis. I was in a huge amount of pain, could not walk and did not know if this precious baby was okay or not. After determining that the baby was in fact okay and that I was in fact not okay, we decided to hold off on making any decisions about the birth for a few days. Since my babies are always born around 42 weeks we figured I had a couple of weeks before the birth. Then labor started – on the one day of the month of September that my doula could not be there and my mother could not be there. I immediately went into denial and said I was not in labor. In fact, I kept chanting those words during those early contractions, “I am not in labor, these will stop. I am not in labor, I am not in labor. I can’t be in labor.” I could hardly move because of the pelvic injuries and believed that my birth team would be missing two critical members. My doula rearranged her life and did come. My mother turned the manning of an entire volleyball tournament over to others and started on her way. Meanwhile, I was in the most gut-wrenching, bone-jarring pain of my life. I believed I might die from the pain. I couldn’t focus on the contractions at all as the pain in my pelvis felt earth shattering. I continued to labor trying to hold my pelvis together as best as I could. My yoke-mate, eternal companion, and best friend, Richard, pushed on my back for hours as I moaned and screamed in the water of the birth pool. He never left my side and believed in me the entire time. My doula looked in my eyes and told me I was strong. Her eyes were deep pools of strength that got me through each moment of that labor. My midwife nurtured me with her words, her touch, and her abiding faith in me, my baby, and birth. I was surrounded by strength and yet, I felt all alone. It is only now after all these years that I can look at it objectively and know that I was not alone. I was encompassed by these mighty women and their knowledge that I would make it through. At the time I had no faith of my own that I would survive.

Eventually, my waters burst out of me and this boy came swishing right out with it. In that moment, he was the most precious thing I had ever laid eyes on. He was here. In my arms. He had red fuzzy hair, just like my dream from years before of a little curly-haired, red-headed two year old running around kicking a ball. I was so happy that he was out! I was overjoyed that after years of waiting for him he had finally arrived.

I was still in a lot of pain. Overwhelming pain. The aftermath of his birth was difficult, painful, and seemed to be never ending. I was in a serious amount of pain for months. I was emotionally damaged. I was depressed. I was beaten down. I felt like a failure. And I was in love with this boy. Deeply. His spirit was full of gentleness, love, forgiveness, and faith. I talked to him about his pregnancy and birth. I apologized for all the conflicting emotions. I reassured him that none of it was his fault and that he was not responsible for any of my pain or heartache. I told him everyday, repeatedly how much I loved him. I held him, and nursed him, and sang to him, and carried him, and slept with him.

And now he is five.

I have made peace with his pregnancy and birth. I view it as a blessing now, for I learned much about God, about healing, about faith, and about myself. I learned the power of emotions to alter our body’s state of health or dis-ease. I learned that miracles happen. I learned that my husband is completely in love with me regardless of my body’s ability to function. I learned that little boys are a gift from God and that they are full of sweetness that can melt my heart in a different way than girls can. I learned that this shy little red-headed boy can bring me joy – and does so everyday of his life.

He loves airplanes, trains, tractors, fishing, Larry-boy, books, riding his bike, worms, a “tiss and a hug” (as he calls them), cars, tools, swimming, balls, “Annsey-goo-head,” his papa, and the color green. A few days ago I said “I love you Fisher Eli” and he said “I love you to the sun and back to the ground and to the moon and back to the ground and to the sky and back to the ground!”

That is a lot of love.

And that is a miracle. I thank my Father in Heaven for this precious boy whom I adore and who loves me more than I can even comprehend. He is my boy.

Enjoy some adorable pictures of my little red-headed wonder:

Baby Fisher and the girls

Baby Fisher & Keziah

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Fisher and Papa 1st Birthday

Fisher & Family Christmas 2005

Fisher in the tub

Fisher & Grandma in Hammock

Fisher's 3rd Birthday

Fisher's curls

Fisher in his suit outside

Fisher jumping off the GRL bridge

Red Shirt Cousin's Club

Smiling Fisher in his suit

Fisher and a fish

Fisher and Pirate Annesley

Ice cream at Mikelle's for Keziah's 8th Birthday

Grandma GG and Fisher and Annesley

Fisher & Annesley GRL 2008

Fisher & Annesley

Fisher and Bessie Boo

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the blessings of homeschooling

Aug 28, 2009 by

Yesterday as I dropped Blythe off at the temple, my heart was full of thoughts of how blessed I am to be a homeschooling mother. With all the hustle and bustle going on with the “going back to school” time of year, I thought I would share why I love to homeschool.

We get to choose how to spend our days, what to read, what to build, what to learn about. We do not have to read a book or do a project unless we are drawn to it and choose to spend our time on it. We get to choose what time to get up, what time to do math, what time to study about WWII, when to clean, when to take naps, when to run around and play. There is no set schedule designed by someone else that tells us what time we have to do anything! We get to prayerfully decide what our family needs and how we can best accomplish that. We get to choose what program will work best for each child, where we read, how long we read, what inventors are interesting and which are boring. We can go swimming in the middle of the day. We can go to a park when it is empty and have the whole place to ourselves. We can choose which classes we want to participate in. We can have music lessons at any time of day, not just in that crunch time between the last bell and dinner. We can go to the library when it is quiet and calm and there are not long lines. We can have breakfast, lunch, and dinner together.

Blythe gets to go to the temple every week. I know that everyone could theoretically do this, but it is so much easier with homeschooling. She goes in the middle of the day before school gets out and the temple workers just love her. She and Natalie (the other girl she attends with) have been able to form relationships with the temple workers and feel comfortable and safe there. They are not part of a huge mutual group that can be treated as a group instead of as individuls, but are instead, two sisters in the kingdom doing their part to serve and they get to spend quiet time thinking and pondering in the temple while they wait for me to pick them up.

Gospel teaching is part of our entire day. It is the foundation of our lives and is part of everything we study. We have been able to read the Book of Mormon many, many times as a family.

There really are not separate subjects. We may be studying math, but we can nosedive right off into science, poetry, literature, or geography as things come up in our learning. There is no bell telling us when it is time to stop learning about one thing and start learning about another.

We don’t have to ride the bus or wait outside for a bus and run to catch a bus or have the children ready for the bus.

My children form friendships with people of all ages and from all over the place. They aren’t spending the majority of their waking hours in a classroom with people who are all their same age.

They are able to develop at their own pace without pressure to conform to someone’s arbitrary standards.

They get to really know how much work goes into running a house and learn how to do it themselves by working along side me for years.

The variety of classes we can participate in is rich and full and fabulous. My children have been so blessed by a variety of wonderful mentors who have taught them in art, music, poetry, writing, and so much more. They are able to be taught by people who have a passion for what they are teaching and are incredibly inspiring. On schedule for this fall is a Shakespeare class, Daughters of Royalty, Liberty Girls, and violin lessons. Of course, they will have the best gymnastics teacher as well!

Our family’s needs and each child’s needs get to be the deciding factor in our decisions of curriculum to use – not the curriculum board, not a teacher who doesn’t know my child, not a publisher who successfully got their products into the district, not anything but prayer and observation. My research is done with the question in mind “What does this child need?”

Babies are part of everything we do, so each of us learns to function with a baby interrupting, disturbing, or even destroying our work. I believe this will make parenthood (which is one of the main purposes of our life here on earth) an easier adjustment for my children.

We can read outside under the trees – everyday if we want to.

We can take off at a moment’s notice if we decide to go searching for something – like the trumpeter swans that we just had to see in person the day we finished Trumpet of the Swan.

Our year is not defined by the school year, but how we choose to schedule ourselves.

Our little children see what our older children are learning about and are getting a picture of what it looks like to work hard to learn, create, and study.

I get lots of hugs throughout the day.

The needs of my children help me to stay focused on mothering, which is my primary purpose at this point of my life. Do to my propensity to OVER-do, I could easily forget all about them if they were gone all day.

I get to see their faces light up when they understand something for the first time. I get to hear their questions (endless yes, but a blessing nevertheless!), give them my perspective, and really see how their minds work.

I get to spend one day a week with LOTS of homeschooled children teaching them gymnastics, but also guiding them in discovering how amazing their bodies are and how capable they are.

I get to read hundreds (thousands?) of books with my children.

I get to learn all sorts of fascinating things.

I get to fill my home up with books and watch my children love them to pieces. A library in our home is one of the best choices we ever made.

I get to be really good friends with the children’s librarian and she hand picks books she thinks my children will love.

I have a large circle of wonderful mom-friends who have blessed me, taught me, supported me, loved me, listened to me, and loved me. Our family is friends with other families, instead of a child being friends with someone who the rest of us have nothing to do with.

I love my life and need to remember how blessed I am to be an in-the-trenches homeschooling mother who gets to spend lots of time with my children each and every day. I am so thankful that my Heavenly Father told me to homeschool my children. It is exactly what they and I need to become the people He created us to be.

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