Sunday, December 10, 2017

Truly He taught us to love one another...

For the Christmas Program on Sunday the 20th, we sang a song I have long loved; O Holy Night.

This year I was in charge of the program, and the choir sang this piece. The sound was full and beautiful. There was a piano, an organ and a violin. On the last verse, I turned and the congregation joined in. I was in the perfect spot; the best spot in the chapel. I had the sound from the choir behind me, and the sound from the congregation coming at me. Chills ran up my spine and goosebumps sprinkled my skin and I heard the words;

Truly, He taught us to love one another.
His law is love, and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother,
And in His name, all oppression shall cease.

Relief Society lesson; revolved around this. How do we help others feel the Savior's love? Tara talked about learning to love ourselves first. I felt inspired to share some of what had been happening with Maryn; the depression and illness, the suicidal ideation, fighting out of that pit with her. And how she was now blessing others lives.
I will love you until you can feel him love you... because I know He loves you.
We become a reflection of His love. It flows through us to others.

Kindness is never wasted.

Standing in line at Target Christmas Eve morning. Woman behind me with a sweater, and I had a coupon. I asked the cashier to ring up her purchase with mine, and I would pay for it. She looked at me and said "I don't even know what to say."
I smiled and said "Merry Christmas."
Tears filled her eyes, and by the time she walked away, she was full on crying.

Blessing others whenever you can. Allow others to bless you.

Bonus. Raise. $500 gift on Christmas Eve, There was enough to have a generous Christmas, replace the windshield, enjoy some time together, catch up on bills and get a little ahead...

Pleasant Grove 8th Ward - Christmas Eve Program Information

Christmas Eve Program –
Large Vocal Ensemble
Gesu Bambino"
(link HERE
“O Holy Night” 
(link HERE)
ANYONE who would like to sing. If you have guests coming from out of town who would like to participate they certainly can.
Sign up HERE (so I have a way to communicate)

Theme: The “Word” Made Flesh
Performance December 24th, 1 pm

December 23rd 9 am (about an hour)

Image result for nativity

Luke 2: 11-14 –
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day

I actually really enjoyed the day before Christmas and Christmas Day. I thought they were relaxing and pleasant. We started early Christmas Eve with opening our PJ's early and wearing them all day while we watched movies and TV. And finished wrapping gifts. And rearranged said gifts under the tree a few times.

There was one odd thing that happened. Maryn looked out the window and suddenly said "What is THAT?!?!"
I got up and looked out and saw THIS standing just outside our building.

I know it was wearing very human tennis shoes, but it was freaky enough that I went and locked our door. My German speaking kids voted that it was someone dressed as a Krampus. I sent a pic of it to Paul and he asked if we could keep it.

The pajama thing worked out well since we got a text from Lisa saying we should wear PJ's to her house that night. We joined Lisa and Steve and their family plus Debbie and Ashante for a wonderful meal of soup Brecken had made. There was also veggies, bread and cheese, and mini hot dogs and sparkling cider. We played a fun mystery game (where you play the parts) in 2 groups and enjoyed Maryn playing cello and Brecken playing guitar.

In the middle of it all, I got a pic from a number I didn't know. It was from the member family in Chico that was enjoying the evening with my son.

We left early to head home and watch the Grinch. Just before we left I had attempted to make a coffee cake for in the morning. I put it in the wrong pan and it spilled all over the bottom of the oven. Since we were just going to be sitting and watching TV, I decided it was the perfect time to run the cleaning cycle and get some of the gunk off so I could bake in the morning.

It only took about 20 minutes for the room to fill with acrid smoke. I had to open to front door and the sliding door and turned on 2 fans and evacuated to Maryn's room. Our eyes were watering and it smelled just awful. I let the fans run and the windows open for almost an hour. But it ended up getting us settled earlier than we had planned.

The two younger kids were settled and the minor crisis averted.  Maryn and I started putting out stocking stuff, and she took care of mine.

Ashlyn was having a hard time getting to sleep because it was very, VERY bright outside. Snow had started to fall and the cloud covered sky acted almost like a wrap of all of the light trapped beneath it. It was incredibly bright.

All I could think of was the line from Twas the Night Before Christmas about "the moon on the breast of the new fallen snow gave the luster of midday to objects below."

I just remember everything being very... soft. The snow was soft. The light was soft. And the combination of those things plus the warm and inviting light emanating from our tree and decorations gave a wonderful sense of peace and joy I wish I could bottle up and glimpse into when things were hard.

Christmas Day was perfectly lazy. We woke up around 7 am and quickly made a new coffee cake (which worked out fine) and bacon, all of which cooked while we opened gifts. Thanks to a bonus and other generous offerings that made me feel extremely blessed, it was a generous year for the kids (although I have really tried to focus less on gifts for gifts sake and more on gifts with necessity, meaning or purpose behind them).

We played around and got things going with their new tech toys and such, and then got ready to talk to Paul at 1 pm out time. We enjoyed our visit with him, and there was a lot of talk about what we needed to do to get ready for him to come home.

After talking to him, we were ready to head to Grandma Downs where we met up with Bryant, Adrienne and Mateo. Grandma made a lovely meal and we brought some games we enjoyed playing together.

What we got this year...

  • Perfume from Maryn (Eau Duelle- from Nordstrom. It was very expensive and I love it! She worked so hard to get it for me)
  • T-Fal Pan
  • Snuggly sherpa blanket
  • Pajamas
  • iPhone 6
  • Belts
  • Backpack
  • PS3 controller
  • Toss Up Game
  • Ukelele (from Conner)
  • Ver Wang Princess perfume (from Ashlyn)

  • iPhone 6
  • PS3 Controller
  • MiP robot
  • 3 pairs of shoes
  • Doodle Dice Game
  • iPhone tripod
  • Michael Vey book and Minecraft books (from Maryn)
  • Diary of a Whimpy Kid book and Rocket Balloons (from Ashlyn)

  • iPhone 6
  • PS3 Controller
  • Crayola Cling Creator
  • Crayola Animator
  • 3 pairs of leggings
  • 2 dresses
  • Pair of shoes
  • Lego Trevi Fountain
  • Minecraft Blockopedia (from Maryn)
  • Nail Art Kit (from Conner)

Things my kids say

Scene: Driving in the car as a family
Ashlyn: Look! Look at that over there!
Maryn: What?
Ashlyn: That! Behind the building. It's a metal tower. You're going to miss it. 
Maryn: I don't see it. 

Ashlyn: You guys are blind.
Conner: We're not blind. It's just not that interesting.

I was humming Jingle Bells when Ashlyn piped up. 
"You know, I spent years thinking the words were 'one hor soap in sleigh'."
"It makes way more sense this way."

A few nights ago there was a knock at the door around 9:30 and I asked Maryn to go see who it was. She looked through the peephole and shrugged saying "I don't know. I can't see anything." She opened the door and let in her friend. A few minutes later "Oh wait! I just realized you can't have both eyes closed when you look out! You have to keep one eye open." In other news, I also got a letter saying she is on the honor roll.

Conner asked me how growing happened. I said I thought it was cells dividing and multiplying the same sorts of cells and then there was just more of you. He dismally cries out "Why aren't my cells doing that for me?" *pause* "Step it up cells."

After the doctor and getting antibiotics we stopped at the store to get more juice and more drugs and more cough drops. 
Ashlyn: So am I contagious?
Me: Yes. For a little bit. 
Ashlyn: So I should be careful in the store? Like not picking things up and putting them back?
Me: Well yes. And don't, you know, lick anyone or anything like that. 
Ashlyn: (shocked) Mom! WHY would I do that? *pause* I only lick Maryn. 

Ashlyn hugged me goodnight and expressed a concern. "Mommy. What if I don't feel well again tonight?"
Maryn (without looking up from her book): "Puke and go get some Sprite."

Maryn: I'm just so overwhelmed with all this college talk. It just makes it so real! And I can't handle it. 
Me: So you're a hot mess?
Maryn: I'm NOT a hot mess. I'm a soggy potato mess. And not the kind of soggy potatoes you make into mashed potatoes. I'm the kind of soggy potatoes that grow those root thingies and smell weird and you throw away. I'm not even worthy to be mashed potatoes!

Further, after whining about the new tank tops SHE picked out and said felt fine two days but she hates now and begged to change... I told her that tank tops (she hates the "support" inserts) were like marriage; once you make a choice and commit you just have to make it work.
Ashlyn; "Yeah. But learning to wear a bra is way harder than being married."

Reflection on 2015

So as 2015 closes and 2016 begins, we thought it would be great to be realistically reflective of what we have faced, try to remember what we have to thankful for, and be optimistic about what we have to look forward to in the upcoming year.

Sprinkled in amongst our thoughts are pictures of how we spent the new year; with Amy, Ben, Sarah, Lily and AJ in La Verkin.

Chiara (Mom)

The best things that happened:
  1. Bonus and raise at work
  2. I saw all my siblings TWICE this year - for a wedding and a funeral
  3. Mom and Dad getting called on a mission and leaving for Rome
  4. Yellowstone trip
  5. I got a piano!!!
The hardest things that happened:
  1. Dealing with a staff member at work who was difficult
  2. Guillan- Barre
  3. Maryn's depression
  4. Grandpa Downs passing away
  5. The flu... I have never felt that awful to be honest
What I'm looking forward to in 2016:
  1. Paul coming HOME!
  2. Summer trip (as yet to be determined where...)
  3. New flooring in the condo
  4. Getting better at taking care of money
  5. So many new phases of our lives... adult child and my youngest in YW


The best things that happened
  1. Started High School
  2. Got a driver's permit
  3. Got a new cello
The hardest things that happened
  1. Mom in the hospital/ sick
  2. Being so sick at the end of last year physically
  3. Depression
  4. AP class (that wasn't a great experience)
What I'm looking forward to in 2016
  1. Driver's license
  2. Choir trip to CA
  3. Orchestra Trip to WA
  4. Braces off in the spring
  5. Paul coming home!!!


The best things that happened
  1. Dancing with a girl
  2. Yellowstone
  3. Comi-con!
  4. Starting the viola
The hardest things that happened
  1. Great Grandpa Downs passing away
  2. Staring Junior High
What I'm looking forward to in 2016

  1. Elko for a semester
  2. Brother coming home


The best things that happened
  1. Staying with Angela for a week
  2. Yellowstone
  3. Halloween with the Carpenter's
The hardest things that happened

  1. Mom in the hospital

What I'm looking forward to in 2016

  1. 2 New Cousins
  2. My 12th Birthday
  3. Going into YW

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

One Thing Different

Yesterday I went to see the neurologist for the first time since I've been in the hospital. They did a nerve conduction test. It was super fun.

Essentially they shocked the nerves in my hands and legs with electricity to make them move and measure the results. Then they came in and took a tiny needle with a stethoscope on it and poked it into me to listen to the electricity travel through my muscles.

It was super fun (that sentence oozes with sarcasm).

And I was fine. More than fine actually. With the amount of weakness I exhibited in the hospital, he really thought I would have permanent damage. And there wasn't any. He commented how I was doing extraordinarily well and didn't need to see me for three months. He cleared me to work and travel as much as I felt I could.

He also confirmed that I'm not crazy, and that doing things like driving and playing the piano and organ really do take more neural energy because the signals have to take the long way through my nerves instead of travelling along the outside quick route - the myelin sheaths - you know, because they're broken. 

But the most interesting thing he said was this; had one thing gone differently that Tuesday (the one I ended up in the hospital)... things would have ended up much, MUCH worse. Had I not called the Teledoc and that doctor had told me to go to the ER, had the ER doc not followed his gut and insisted we get the neurologist involved, had they decided to use the lumbar puncture results as the determining factor in the diagnosis and not done other tests... the disease would have been allowed to progress unchecked. I could have been hospitalized for months. I could have even died. 

But that isn't how things were. Everything lined up perfectly so I got the care I needed. And I will be fine. 

I am so grateful for that. Some people might say I should be upset with God that I even got this disease. But from what I can tell, He was there helping things to go well. I can see so many blessings from this; I am learning to listen to my body again (and its a process), I learned to accept help, I felt loved and cared for... and there were so many other things.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


These weeks leading up to Christmas have been truly wonderful. There has been a lot of joy and good memories have been made.

One of the things we have enjoyed is good music! Maryn had both a choir concert and an orchestra concert. Both were excellent and very enjoyable.

She had a solo in the choir concert.

I also had the chance to go to DC the beginning of the month with Boo for work training. We took the opportunity to go to the temple not knowing it was their Festival of Lights. The temple was beautiful. And there were several trees and nativity sets on display that were amazing.

The temple surrounded by lights.
Dolls from around the world

This tree was covered in small paintings of people of all shapes and sizes dressed in traditional Czech clothing, each bringing a gift to the Christ child in the center of the tree.

We have enjoyed time with loved ones.
Our ward.
The primary children doing a nativity. The blond angel is mine.
Our family.
Sarah and Conner relaxing by the tree.
My work family.
A picture of the 2-1-1 staff.
Our friends and their babies.
Tucker enjoying the tree
I had my manager over for dinner with their families. We enjoyed soup and bread, salad and desserts from Kneaders. We also played a game and got to know each other in a much more relaxed setting. It was quite lovely.

An of course, our traditional Red and Green Dinner! We made toasts as part of the festivities, and really enjoyed the company and the time together. I toasted to Sam and her new husband. Olivia toasted her mom, Teo toasted Bryant for teaching him about football. Sam toasted me for the lovely dinner. Bryant toasted his little family and expressed his love for them. I think we will make toasting a part of this tradition from now on. 

Maryn and Nat being weird

Still weird, And now awkward as well. 
This little bear has a story. Its my ornament from my grandmother. I have 35 of them now. But this one is extra special. When they were cleaning out grandpa's workshop, they found 20 of these cut out. He had started them before he became ill. A few of them had been painted and other's traced and ready. Mom, grandma and Becky finished them and we received them as gifts. We all had tears in our eyes. It was very special to receive a last gift from our grandfather. 

These bears are also special. I had 3 of Dave's jerseys made into bears for the kids.Now they each have a piece of their dad to cuddle and remember.