Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

Last Sunday at a special Christmas program at church, one of the speakers posed a very thought provoking question:

What if Christ had never been born?

The more I pondered this question the more astounded I became at the implications. I mean can you imagine a world without the example, not to mention the everlasting atonement, of our Savior, Jesus Christ?

As I thought of this question, I became filled with gratitude. Gratitude for Christ's divine birth, life and mission on this earth.

Merry Christmas everyone. God bless us all.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The roller coaster of being a woman

What a wild ride it is to be a woman.

There are the moments when a simple thing like a Hallmark commercial, or the Taco Bell down the street getting your order right on the first try, or seeing your child do something kind, can bring tears to your eyes.

And there are moments when you can't believe "those words" just came out of your mouth, or when you simply can't take the bickering children for one more minute, or when you have to walk away before you hurt someone, and you realize you need a time out.

There are moments when beauty is found in everything from a shiny clean kitchen floor with the lights from your Christmas tree reflected in the wood planks, to a sleepy child's face with last night's bed head sticking out everywhere.

And there are moments when you can't find beauty in anything; when nothing seems to go right and although you know you should start counting your blessings, you "just don't feel like it."

Although there are many, MANY times when I don't feel this way, I am actually grateful for the roller coaster; because the lows, although not enjoyable, are at least evidence that I am capable of feeling.

And besides, I wouldn't trade the highs for anything.

Here are some pictures of just a few:

A note about the pictures:
The top one is my son, Jack, after clearing the living room floor all by himself, dancing his little heart out to his favorite music... Beethoven's "Ode to Joy."
The next one is my Molly at her first violin performance (the talent show at her school).
The next one is Miss Emma after sorting the entire box of markers. I love seeing my kids apply things they learned in school to things at home.
Then we have my girlies wandering through Heaven on Earth (aka Star Valley Ranch, WY).
And last, but not least, me holding Jack just moments after he was born. And though I could have posted similar pictures of my girls, I just love this one because it's like he's looking at me. I love that as a woman, I have the ability to be a mother. Oh the joy!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Self Awareness

Now, lest anyone be deceived by my "I love being a mom" posts, and if my "The truth" post was not descriptive enough, let me just say that I am no where near being a perfect mom. I do LOVE being a mom, but that doesn't mean I'm perfect at it.

Not even close.

I wouldn't even say I'm a great mom. I'd say I'm right around the level of a good mom, with frequent dips to the level of "wow, you've got a lot to work on."

Well, lately I've been on the "wow, you've got a lot to work on" level more often than not. I have to say that it's in large part due to hormones, (need I say more?...), but partly because patience is a gift that I was not born with.

I had one of my most (if not THE most) gut-wrenching experiences of motherhood today. I won't go into detail, because frankly, I don't want to have to read the words ever again. (It's bad enough to have it replaying in my mind constantly.) Suffice it to say that one of my children said something to me today that made me instantly more self aware than I have ever been.

She did not yell, or scream at me.

She just sat there, in the rocking chair, and told me in a small voice how she felt.

And I was horrified.

It froze me where I stood.

Tears stung my eyes as they began to fall. They were drops of acid shame.

At first, there were no words. All I could do was hold my little girl and cry for the pain I had caused her.

And then, through our tears, we talked.

It made me realize that I have been seeing myself from my own critical, overly analytical, perspective, and making allowances for my hormonally imbalanced and sometimes completely irrational behavior, by saying it will pass and I'll be able to make it up to them later.

But what about my little ones?

They don't see things that way. They don't see the world in terms of "later."

What my daughter said to me today made me realize, as nothing has before, how deeply impacted my children are by my attitudes and behaviors, for good or bad.

And that if I would try to change my self-awareness - to be able to see myself from their perspective - I would be a much better mom.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Decking the Halls

We compromised on a family tradition this year - the tradition being that we put up the Christmas tree on the Monday after Thanksgiving for family night.

Since our plane landed in Portland at about 4 PM on the Monday after Thanksgiving, we debated about sticking to tradition.

All the way home from the airport we went back and forth:

"We've got a lot to do before tomorrow."

"I'd like to have it up as long as possible."

"We're all so tired."

"I'm teaching all evening on Tuesday and leaving Wednesday - I don't want to wait till I get back..."

Yes, I won the debate.

Of course I didn't know that I won until I walked in the living room an hour after we got home, and Dan was setting up the tree.

Our compromise?

We didn't decorate it until the next morning.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The truth

So I was chatting with a friend and fellow mom today and she told me that she reads my blog. She asked why I don't tell the truth about being a mom... that it's really a lot of hard work and can be extremely frustrating at times.

Well, Robie, although I may seriously regret posting this picture in the future, this one's for you.

This is what I look like more often than I'd like to admit; on the inside if not on the outside.

And yes, it's usually because of my children.

I agree that being a mom is a lot of hard work and can be extremely frustrating at times.

But truth be told, I love what I do, I love that my husband helps so much in the raising of our kids (and that he gives me a "time out" once in a while), and yes, I think it's worth it.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My Yoda

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to play some duets on the violin with my favorite violin teacher ever. He was my favorite because he made me the musician I am now. I started taking lessons from Jack Ashton when I was 15 years old. He was the type of teacher who was very hard to please, very demanding and would chew you out for not practicing enough... and you would love him for it.

I haven't taken a lesson from him in over 12 years, and yet, I could feel his influence returning as we rehearsed together on Wednesday night. I played better than I have in a long time just because he was playing with me. He is still so inspiring, so funny and so dear to me. He is my Yoda.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sunny Thanksgiving

We got to go to Dan's sister's house in Phoenix for Thanksgiving this year. (Thanks to my wonderful in-law's!!) The weather was warm and sunny.

The kids had a great time with their cousins. Aren't families wonderful?! I sure love mine!

Monday, November 30, 2009


I am so thankful for family. My extended family, my ward family, the family of mankind... but especially my little family. Because they love me, forgive me, challenge me, kiss me, encourage me and inspire me every day. And they think I'm beautiful.

Thank you Dan, Molly, Emma and Jack.

I love you.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I am The Mom

Last night as I was tucking Molly into bed, she asked me, "What do you think I'll be when I grow up?"

I said, "I hope you'll be a mommy like me."

"Is that the best job I could have?" she asked.

"It is the best job in the whole world," I answered. " And I love it."

Monday, November 16, 2009


Why does childhood have to go by so fast?

My own is now a hazy, patchy blur with only a few distinct memories: some funny, some not, some I wish I could trade in for ones that were forgotten.

Last night, as I played a song on the piano while my daughter sang the words with her sweet little girl voice, I thought, I am going to miss these days.

That was also my thought this morning as I was chasing my laughing, naked son around the kitchen with a sweatshirt in my hands, trying to aim just right so as to get his head through the hole on the first fly-by.

That was also my thought as I was scrubbing lunch out of my daughter's pants, and wiping the peanut butter off of her cute face five minutes before she had to catch the bus.

And as I cleaned up the counter after my daughter made her own pb&j for the first time.

And as I taped up another masterpiece by one of my daughters in the art gallery on my bedroom wall.

And as I snuggled in my bed with whoever got up first last Saturday morning.

And as I chased yellow, windblown leaves with my son at the park on the way home from the bus stop.

And as I read my son "just one more" story before his nap.

And as I sang my kiddos songs to them at bedtime.

And as I went into their rooms last night before I went to bed, pulled the matted hair back from their beautiful sleeping faces and gave them one more kiss goodnight.

I know that someday, they won't need me or want me to do these things for them.

And I know that I will wish they did.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

True Love

I can't help myself. I LOVE my kids.

Dan and I were discussing our interests last night and for the first time, I realized that my biggest personal interest right now is making sure that my kids are well cared for.

I know what you're thinking... "How can kids be your own personal interest?"

Good question.

I had always thought my interests were violin, reading, etc., but last night I realized that more than anything, I care about my kids well-being. I was actually shocked.

I've been mothering for seven years now - feeding, clothing, diapering, disciplining, teaching, kissing and hugging. I have always loved my children. Always. But I never realized how much a part of me they are.

It reminds me of my own personal definition of true love. I believe that true love between any two beings, is when you can feel every emotion for that person: love, frustration, happiness and sadness - in essence that their joy and pain are invariably connected to yours.

I love my kids. I truly do.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Abby Maile is an incredible person. I know this and I've never even met her.

Her husband, Naki, and my sister's husband, Frank, are cousins. As is the usual course of things, the wives of husbands who are friends, become friends themselves. This was the case with Heather and Abby.

Heather has told me about Abby on several occasions: how much she admires her amazing parenting abilities, her patience and her strength. These characteristics have been put to good use... Abby is the mother of six daughters: Line, Malia, Lose, Eli, Eva and Ane; ranging in age from 10 years old to 1 year old.

Early on the morning of October 16th, 2009, Abby's sweet husband, Naki, passed away unexpectedly. The autopsy revealed that he had a heart condition that had never been discovered.

I have been following Abby's blog since Naki's passing and have been so inspired, grieved, humbled, strengthened, and awed by the way she has chosen to face this most difficult trial. In her last post, she acknowledged that she believed more people were reading her blog than she was aware - many of whom she did not know - and she was glad. I think she knows how much people can be strengthened by another's experience.

So, I now feel at liberty to encourage one and all to learn something from Abby.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


It's that time of year again... Time to spend the afternoon finishing up costumes, painting faces, taking pictures, forcing the kids to eat at least a few bites of dinner and lighting the jack-o-lanterns in preparation for the big night.

Here are some pictures of the kiddos before we headed out for some Trick-or Treating!

Happy Halloween everyone! Hope your weather was pleasant and your children's feet quick!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Their last mission

As I was walking around the house cleaning and chatting on the phone with my sister, Heather, I heard the toilet flush in my bathroom. Now this sound would not normally have been so ominous, except that I knew where the only potty-trained people in our family were at the moment... and none of them were in the bathroom.

I thought it best to investigate and as I turned the corner into the bathroom, there was Captain Jack - hand on the flusher, watching the water go down.

For some unexplainable reason, I knew that it was not just water making it's way down the pipes. I don't know if it was the intensity with which Jack was watching that water swirl in the bowl, or what, but I just knew.

Another investigation got under way as I began thinking of what he could possibly have wanted to flush down the toilet. Vain hopes of cheap, plastic, unloved toys flitted through my mind, but no. I knew it was worse than that.

And then it hit me.

I had just seen him playing with his Rocket and Little Einsteins figures a few moments ago on one of my cleaning rounds. I hurried toward the family room wondering which one it might have been. "Please, don't let it be Annie," I thought. Annie was his favorite.

As I walked in the room to see which one was missing, my heart almost stopped.

There was Rocket... empty.

None of them were there.

In stunned disbelief and utter denial, (toys get lost all the time, right?) I turned to Jack, who had followed me, and asked, "Where's Leo?"

I could feel the blood draining from my face as he turned and headed for my room. In bewilderment, I followed him... straight to my bathroom. He lifted the lid of the potty and said, "Leo a polly."

My mouth was dry as I asked about each in turn and he answered.

"Where's June?"

"June a polly."

"Where's Quincy?"

"Kincy a polly."

(gulp...) "Where's Annie?..."

"Annie a polly."

They were gone.

And I was sad.

Those faithful Little Einsteins had been chewed on, slept on, and recently spent a month or two at the bottom of my purse so I could pull them out at anytime for Jack to play with, as they were some of his favorites and could appease him in almost any situation.

When I pulled them out this morning, I had no idea that Captain Jack would soon be sending them on their last mission.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Yesterday, as we were getting ready for church, Molly walked up to me and put a Book of Mormon in my hands. I noticed that she was holding a smaller version of the same book that she had been given by the Primary for her birthday when she turned 6 a year ago. She looked up at me said, "Mom, let's read. I want to bear my testimony of this today."

I just looked at her for a moment...

How had she caught on to the fact that because I hadn't eaten breakfast with them, I must be fasting; which meant we would be having a testimony meeting at church? Her powers of observation are amazing to me...

Then we went to the couch and read.

We've recently recommitted ourselves to regular family scripture study. Our place was marked at 1 Nephi 2:16. So we started there. It talks about how Nephi was young, but "large in stature" and that he had "great desires to know of the mysteries of God." He prayed and received a witness of the things he had been taught by his father, Lehi.

Molly and I talked about testimonies and how we can gain our own testimony if we are humble and seek the Lord in prayer.

Then we went on with our morning, getting ready for church, preparing for my new calling as the Primary chorister, etc.

Molly bore her testimony at church. It was simple and strong.

Then, this morning... We only had a few minutes before we had to get Molly off to school, Dan was already at work, and I debated about putting off scripture study until tonight. I decided that putting things off is rarely a good idea, so I quickly picked up a Book of Mormon and opened to where we left off.

"We've only got a couple of minutes, kids, so let's get started," I said.

As Molly was walking over to get her little Book of Mormon, she said, "Okay Mom, but you're gonna have to read the 2nd word in verse 20, because I don't know what it is." Then she sat down and opened her book.

I just gaped at her.

We had only read verses 16, 17 and 18, yesterday.

I opened my book to our place and looked at verse 20. The second word was "inasmuch."

How on earth did she know?

She said she had read ahead yesterday and come across that word and didn't know what it meant.

Had she really taken the initiative to read ahead on her own? And how did she remember it without looking at her book this morning?

I'll never know.

For now, I am just savoring the fact that this sweet spirit is eternally connected to mine. My mother has often quoted the scripture that says "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." (3 John 1:4) I feel the same way.

Keep it up, Molly Doll. You're on the right track.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


We have now entered the rainy season here in the Pacific Northwest and I have to say: I'm loving it!

I love watching the raindrops collect to make little rivulets on the windshield.

I love watching the rain fall at night in the light of the streetlamps.

I love hearing the rain pound on my new roof while I'm cozy and warm in my snug little house.

But probably my favorite, is seeing the effect of light on a world recently drenched by rainfall.

I was driving home in a rainstorm the other morning. As I came up a hill and the morning sun was blinding me against the rain-soaked asphalt, I began to think about light.

There are usually at least a few minutes of sun every day in the rainy season and I love those small moments when a world of gray is suddenly on fire with light. It is as though the sun wants to remind us that it's still there.

How like life.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Taco Bell and a change of heart

As I was driving home from dance with a hot bag of Taco Bell in the front seat next to me, I passed a rather large woman walking down the street. I mean, she was very round. She looked like a circle with legs.

My first thought: "Wow, if I keep eating so much Taco Bell, I'll end up looking like her."

My second thought: "That was rude. She's probably a really nice person."

My third thought came as we were almost level to her and I could see her more clearly: "She has a very sweet face with a pleasant look about her. She's definitely a nice person. I wish I knew her better. I bet we'd be good friends."

My last thought of this woman, just after I passed her and turned the corner towards home: "I'll bet once we're both in heaven (you know - in the next life) I'll meet her again and we will become friends and we will both look perfect (or at least see each other with more perfect eyes) and I will be glad I changed my mind about her while we were still mortal."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pumpkin Patch Trip 2009

We had our annual family outing to Sauvie Island Farms last Saturday. Here are some pictures of our fun day.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Gun Safety

Emma loves to make signs. Mostly, they are pictures depicting rules - things you should or should not do.

When I got home last night, Dan showed me this new one.

It means, (in Emma's words): "Don't point your shooters at people."
She asked Dan to attach the sign to his "shooter" with the tape she put on the back.

I don't know where she got the idea, but then I don't know where she gets most of her ideas. It's probably from when Dan helped her shoot targets with our bb gun, and he told her this fundamental rule of gun safety.

(And for anyone who is worried about gun safety, we keep our guns locked up at all times. Your children are safe to play here.)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I am a fairly structured person. Every night, I make a "To do" list for the next day. If my brain were a locomotive, my "to do" lists would be the track that keeps my train of thought going in the right direction.

A week and a half ago, however, my train was abruptly derailed.

My brother called me at 5:30 PM a week ago Saturday. By 7:15 AM the next day, my son and I were on the road to SLC. The drive that normally takes us upwards of 12 1/2 hours, took me 11. Did I speed, you ask? ... of course I did.

You see, life looks a lot different through the bug-splattered windshield of a mini-van when you know someone you love may be departing this life in a matter of hours and you don't know if you'll get there in time to say good bye.

All of the sudden, you realize that it doesn't matter if your daughter's pants got pressed before she went to school yesterday. Instead you start to realize that maybe you were too hard on her at dinner last night for not being more careful with the ketchup, and that ketchup washes off walls just fine.

I arrived in SLC sooner than I thought possible and was able to spend about a half an hour with my Grandpa, talking to him, crying on his shoulder, giving him hugs and kisses, before it was evident that he needed to sleep. Had I known that it was a sleep from which he would never wake, I would have stayed beside him all night.

He passed away less than 12 hours after my arrival.

In the week that followed, I was so grateful to be surrounded by my extended family who loved Grandpa as much as I did. Grandpa passed away early in the morning and throughout that day, as we all walked around in a daze, I became more and more aware that that is why we have families. Whenever one of us was overcome with grief there was always someone to share in it. But it wasn't pitiful. We were strengthening each other by sharing the load.

How grateful I am for families and the blessed realization that indeed, families are everything. Our family relationships matter more than anything in this life. Loving, strengthening and caring for each other should be our number one priority. Of course it begins with our immediate families, but it should also encompass our extended families, our ward families and God's family.

I have now returned home and will likely make a "to do" list for tomorrow before I go to bed. But I hope that as I check things off, I will take my eyes off the track for a moment every now and then and enjoy the beauty of the life that is mine; that I remember that loving and serving my family is not something that can or ought to be on a checklist, but rather that it should be the steel I use to make the tracks.

PS - a note about the pictures: The top one was taken over a mountain pass called Tin Cup in southeastern Idaho. I took it from inside the car as we drove from Star Valley over to Grace, Idaho, where my Grandpa was buried. The next one is of my Aunt Kris on the phone with my cousin Brady who is on his mission in Peru. She was calling to tell him of my Grandpa's passing. My brother, Matthew is sitting next to her for moral support. The next one is of me and 3 of my cousins - one from each of my mom's siblings families. Josh Johnson, me, Lauren Bearnson and Lindsey Hansen. The last one is also of my cousin Lindsey and I LOVE it! She's so beautiful, and I love the idea of the circle of life that is represented in this picture. Lindsey is in a place where people's lives on this earth have ended, but she carries a life that is about to begin. Love it.