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.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Sad celebrations

Yesterday was my sweet Grandpa's funeral.

As funerals go, it was wonderful. I cried and cried, but not for sorrow - for "there is no sorrow in death, there is only sorrow in sin." I don't know who said that, but that quote has given me much comfort over the last week or so.

Instead I cried for joy and gratitude. I cried for my selfishness because I wanted more time with him. I cried for the heroism of my sweet Grandma who honored Grandpa's wish of not being kept alive without any quality of life. I cried for the memory of my sweet Grandpa and knowing he will still be with me. I cried wondering if I could make something of my life that he would be proud of - although, he told me over and over before he died that he was proud of me already and that he loved me.

Over the 6 weeks of Grandpa's battle with cancer, he seemed to be the one comforting everyone else. He prepared his funeral program a month ago and called me to his bedside because he had some "business" he wanted to discuss with me.

In the quiet of my parents bedroom I sat on the edge of the bed next to my Grandpa. He reached for my hand, squeezed it and told me what the "business" was that we needed to discuss.

"Now this may not be for another few months or years, but I want to discuss this with you while I am still master of my faculties," Grandpa said. He proceeded to tell me that he wanted me to be in charge of the music for his funeral.

I looked into his face and watched it blur as the tears started filling my eyes and spilling down my cheeks.

He must have known how hard it was for me to even talk about or acknowledge the possibility of his passing, because he put his arms around me and held me and let me cry.

Then he asked me to take some notes about the musical numbers he would like, but said that he would leave the final decisions about the music up to me.

As I played the violin yesterday, I was overpowered by the realization that I was fulfilling a promise that I had hoped not to have to fulfill for a long, long time. I know Grandpa was with me though, because there were several times that my mind was not on my music at all and I don't know how else to explain my relatively decent performances.

My mom and her siblings did all the speaking parts of the service and they could not have paid better tribute to Grandpa if they had had a year to prepare. Their talks were equally tender and uplifting.

It was truly a celebration of Grandpa's life and I can't help but think that he was pleased.

On a different note, it was my sweet Molly's birthday yesterday as well.

It was gut-wrenching for me to think of not being there with her to keep up all of our family birthday traditions, but I hope someday she will understand why I couldn't be there. Dan is such a wonderful dad, though, and he did the best he could to make the day special for her. He made her a red velvet cake from scratch with homemade cream cheese frosting to boot.

I called her in the morning yesterday and sang Happy Birthday to her along with 8 or 10 of my extended family members who were around the phone with me. It was small consolation for me, as I would have exchanged our rousing chorus for one love from my Molly girl in a heartbeat. I wanted to hold her and love her so badly that I'm sure part of the ache in my heart yesterday was for her.

Molly, you are such a dear girl. You bring such happiness and joy to my life. Thank you for trying so hard to do your best in all you do. You are a good girl and I love you so very, very much. I'll see you soon and we'll have another fun birthday celebration.

And so, yesterday was a day of sad celebrations. One of a life well lived, and one of a life just beginning.