Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Promises, Promises...

It has been a little over a week since I blogged. And I’m afraid this little blurb will not be the beginning of one so to speak. I simply am reminding myself that I need to blog. I need to write down all the little details about Christmas before they escape me. All of the fun we had Christmas Eve at the Bissegars. The fun Christmas morning and the wonderful gifts from some former strangers. The weekend of nothingness. A talk on Sunday and getting my son back. Our family Christmas party (complete with gangsta rap and beatnik poetry reading) on Monday and the discovery that I have Raynaud’s syndrome. And then a trip to mom and dad’s, which is where I am now. Getting ready to go to see "Avatar" in 3D with my baby brother. Its all good :)

Monday, December 21, 2009


So the last few days have been…interesting… for me. The last few Christmases have been good ones. The first Christmas after Dave died was hard; the firsts in the year that follows the death always are. But it got easier from there, and the past 2 Christmases I haven’t minded one bit being alone with my children at Christmas. I didn’t need extra people around to fill in the emptiness, and I was glad for that feeling. It made the holiday much more bearable.

But this year has been different. I have felt the emptiness more acutely over the past few days. And it’s an emptiness I’ve become somewhat unfamiliar with recently, and so it disturbs me a little. Let me see if I can explain. It’s been quite some time since I felt our family was missing something. I mean, we always keep in mind that we would like to include someone in the everyday joy we share (somewhat tongue in cheek…but there are moments). But I have tried very hard to not lead my children to believe our family is broken because we are fatherless. We are simply different, and what we have is what we need and it is enough. So at the same time I recognize we are missing a portion of the whole, I also immediately recognize the extraordinary amount of blessings we enjoy.

Which is why this is disturbing, because it’s a strange mixture. I have felt, most sharply, both the gratitude and peace that comes with contentment of your position in life. We aren’t wealthy, but we have a home and good landlords, we have a car, phones, food…and even cable. I was worried about Christmas coming out alright. But, weeks ago when I was fretting, I had the feeling come over me not to worry about it. So I didn’t. And it has, indeed, been taken care of by good people whose hearts were moved on our behalf. My degree is done, we are all healthy, and my children are active and progressing. I have wonderful family, extraordinary friends, and several jobs I actually like and find fulfilling. We are truly, completely and wholly blessed.

Which is why this other feeling seems like it should be contrary and the twain should cancel each other. But I’m not sure they are opposites. Partly because I can’t define this other feeling. Emptiness partially describes it. But sorrow or hopelessness does not. Let me tell you what I mean.

Last week I looked at my children individually. Really looked. And I saw all of the great things they are becoming. And I thought how their dad would be so proud of them. He would think Maryn was so smart. He would find Conner funny and Ashlyn cute and charming (even when she’s screaming, which is what daddy’s are for I suppose). I find my children to be all of these things. But I don’t have that other person to share that special smile and nod that only parents share when they recognize their children’s growth and look at each other knowingly. My oldest daughter came home from school with a rather serious problem with another student that required me to intervene, which was fine, but it was a serious battle and I had no back up. And her dad would have backed her up completely and without question, and I know this. Or Sunday, when my 3 youngest sang. And I watched their sweet faces, and began to cry because I watched beaming parents grab each other’s hands, and do that knowing smile thing I talked about, and relish in their shared accomplishment. And I had no one to share that moment with…and neither did my children. Or tonight when we were going to the elementary Christmas program, and my daughter comes out all dolled up and comments. “I used to twirl for daddy, and he would always tell me how pretty I was. It’s just not the same now. I know my daddy would think I was beautiful, no matter what anyone else said.” Or when Ashlyn “wrote a letter” to Santa in cursive and “read” it back to me saying, “Dear Santa, You’re the best woman in the whole wide world. I know we’ll like your presents. Have a very Merry Christmas, Love, Ashlyn.” And I practically smiled my cheeks off, and suppressed laughter until my gut hurt…and I smiled alone. Maybe it’s the lack of someone to share with. But I can’t define the feeling or figure out where to put it on the emotion spectrum. Can anyone else?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Lunch at La Piazza

Here are the beautiful and wonderful people from my water aerobics class, the one I teach (and have been teaching for 5 years). We had lunch together, and they gave me a card and a gift. Daily, I feel blessed to have such amazing people in every aspect of my life. How strange that one of those aspects would include a swimming pool! (...and people as old as my grandparents.)

From left and around; Jerry, Ann, Helen, June, Dorothy, Jenny, Barb, Bill, Barb, Dorothy. JoAnn, Kay and Ted.
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Come Unto Him...

So, last night we had an activity with all of the youth in our branch. We had 12 there! This is, for us, a big turn out. What we did is created a night in Bethlehem for them. We had the inn set up, with a typical meal of chickpea soup, brisket, grapes, pomegranate, rye bread, olives, boiled eggs and some assorted modern goodies like cantaloupe, apples and poundcake (which, BTW,had 7 1/2 cups of powdered sugar in it). Here is a collage of our feast, sitting in the floor and on pillows Bethlehem style, passing the food around in the presence of our innkeeper Mike. But as we feasted with appropriate inn music in the background, we had some visitors come knocking.
The first visitors were Mary and Joseph. They were, of course, in the area, looking for a place to stay. The innkeeper insisted they were very busy and should just go away. Joseph told him his wife was pregnant, and asked if he know of anywhere they could go. he said no, and told them to leave. So they did, but not until they left a gift for each person...a blue stone.

The second time the door knocked, it was the shepherds. Well, shepehrd missionaries. And they used a great door approach! They even left the innkeeper with a pass along card! So funny. Shepherd McLellan (is that Scottish-Jewish?) asked the group what religion they were. We all laughed, but innkeeper Mike told them we were all Jews. The shepherd then reminded them that meant we looked forward to the coming of a Messiah, and that they believed the baby they were looking for was that Messiah. They were told they were too busy and needed to leave. They did, but also left a stone- a red one.
The third visitor, the wiseman insisted that if I took his picture he'd beat me up later, so I didn't get one :). But he did knock, asking for the Messiah, got the same answer, too busy, go away. Left a clear stone.
At this point, one of our young women arrived late...she was let into the inn. One of the young men pipes up "So we have room for her but not the pregnant chic?"

Below you see the entire ensemble in the room we prepared as a stable...yes that's the wise guy....err, wiseman. He relented later.
We had a final visitor, Kerry from Kerry's trinkets and gifts in the Bethlehem square. He said how he had become so busy with his things, that he heard someone say the Savior had come, but had missed it. He asked if anyone there could help him find this Savior. I gave them a piece of paper they could use to find the way, since it had a clue. As they followed the path dictated by the "scrolls" each one told them how each stone represented something they must do to come closer to the Savior.
Here is the basic idea:

John 17:3

And this is alife beternal, that they might cknow thee the only true dGod, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast esent.

The blue stone represents Prayer.

“Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith.”

“Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.”

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”

The clear stone represents repentance.

The invitation to repent is rarely a voice of chastisement but rather a loving appeal to turn around and to “re-turn” toward God. It is the beckoning of a loving Father and His Only Begotten Son to be more than we are, to reach up to a higher way of life, to change, and to feel

the happiness of keeping the commandments. Being disciples of Christ, we rejoice in the blessing of repenting and the joy of being forgiven. They become part of us, shaping the way we think and feel.

The red stone represents Obedience.

Obedience gives us greater control over our lives, greater capacity to come and go, to work and create.

As Nephi explained, “And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them” (1 Nephi 17:3).”
So they ended up at the manger scene, where the trinket man asked Mary about her baby, how he seemed so special, and who he was. Mary, then Joseph bore testimony of who they knew this child was Christ. The shepherds then told of why they had come, and one of the shepherds shared how there was one thing the angels said that struck him, that this was good tidings for ALL people, that the Savior's life and atonement applied to all. Then the wiseman, who, it turns out, was truly wise, gave a beautiful and very appropriate testimony that perfectly fit all of the things we were trying to get across to them. It was magnificent actually. Then the trinket man came and knelt before the manger, and told the group how blessed he felt to be there, and how he looked forward to following this child as he became a man, and to try to become more like him. This was all completely unscripted, we just asked these marvelous people to consider themsleves as if they were their parts, and it turned out absolutey perfect.

Then I sang a song called Come Unto Him. My son told me later it made him cry. And one of the young girls, who we rarely see, was also in tears.
It was wonderful.
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Quote of the day

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Paul "I like squirrels. I really think they'll help us fight when bunnies take over the earth."

Saturday, December 12, 2009


This morning when I woke up, I rolled over to face my little girl. She had slept with me the night before. She moved around a little bit, and drowsily opened her eyes the smallest bit. With a half- there grin, she raised her hand, forming her little fingers into the “I Love You” sign. I smiled, and whispered I loved her too. Soon, we were joined by Conner, then Maryn and finally Paul. We laughed at how we all had to squish to fit on the bed. But as I giggled and chatted with my kids in the still dim room, I started to think about how I had chosen very consciously, to make each of them part of my life. Sometimes, four seems like a lot. Other moments, like this one, it seems just right. As I looked at each of them, I remembered bits and pieces of the months I carried them inside of me. They were a little easier to control at that point for sure. But I can remember feeling kicks and rolls. Paul had sharp feet (at least that’s what it felt like), Maryn had an affinity for laying sideways, Conner was a bladder bouncer, and Ashlyn liked to kick straight down. I started to get to know them then, and the traits I saw in them before they were born, have translated quite nicely into their living breathing lives. And then I remember the first time I held each of them. I wasn’t the kind of mother who counted fingers and toes…I figured the doctor would have told me if some were missing and even if they were, what’s a few fingers or toes any way as long as the rest of the baby was okay? But I remember falling in love. Four distinct feelings of complete and total adoration coming right up with a heaping side of responsibility.

And then I realize that the past 15 years has been a blur. I haven’t been the type of parent I intended to be when I was 14, but then again those aspirations were a little lofty and, now I realize, totally unrealistic. And it’s okay. It’s a very different process then I thought it was, and differentiation requires flexibility. I think the important thing is that my children are alive, have clothing, and seem to be somewhat normal. Considering their parentage, I see this as an extremely worthy accomplishment on their part. And the beginning of success on mine. A success I anticipated all of my life, but didn’t expect to procure itself in quite the way it has or using the path it ended up taking. But a success by any other name, is still as sweet.

As all of this was whisping around in the early morning nothingness of my mind, they each, one at a time, kissed me, smiled and left.

And then I was alone.

All kinds of families

I don’t know how many of you have the privilege of having more than one family. I do. Today I want to introduce you to portions of my branch family. I’ve lived in this area for 12 years now, making it just a few years short of the time spent in Wyoming. I love it here for many reason (not the cold though),some which I may expound on later, but here is one of them. I have been blessed to have as part of my life, people who seem to genuinely care about me. Today, as I looked around our little happy Christmas party at all of the faces which had become so beloved to me, I felt warm feelings of gratitude come over me. I am thankful for all of them, for what they mean to me, and for the love and support they provide for me even when they don’t know they do it on purpose. There’s something about the feeling in our little corner of the world when we meet together. We are spending our Christmas Eve with some of them. And it’s just like family.

Here is my brother in law Kirk, William, Tanner and Al checking out cell phones and ipods. Hey, whatever floats your boat boys.

So during the Santa episode, Claira wanted nothing to do with him, and neither did Addy Kay. Addy is the daughter of one of the girls Melanie and I used to have in Young Women's when we were in the presidency together. LauraLee now has two daughters and is our friend. Its kind of fun. But here are those who rejected Santa hanging out from a safe distance.

An assortment of people gathering around to observe the goings on.

My nephew James on Santa's lap.

And this is sweet little Kate, LauraLee's other daughter. She wasn't afraid of Santa.
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Christmas Party

Today we had our branch Christmas Brunch. It was a brunch and Santa. And lots of visiting. Simple and to the point. Just the way I like it. Santa was helped out today by the (nonmember) step father of one of our friends Rod K. He did a great job and seemed to enjoy it, although he had a little trouble with hair falling in his eyes.

It kind of cracked me up. Maryn is past believing, yet she was the first one up there. I didn't listen in. Hopefully I hit that nail on the the head.

Mr Conner was cheerful and happy to go and spend some time with the big guy. I know he wants a light saber and a game cube game. He was also very sweet, and I saw him hig my sister Melanie, 3 times during the event and say hi. He has his moments.
Little Lyni was also enthusiastic about seeing Santa. She liked getting the little pink bear and a pencil (Everyone got one. Maryn slept with hers tonight)
And here are all my kids and Santa with Santa's helper (his wife I think). I like this pic a lot.
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Quote of the Day: Maryn (While we were surfing channels) "Wait Mom! Stop! Don't turn it! It looks like a Christmas Special about a reindeer! Or possibly...a goat."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Quote of the day

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Paul "Mom, I'm not an adult. I actually know what's going on." Snot.

Wrapping gifts

Tonight the kids and I wrapped gifts for siblings. Paul kept putting things on his tags like To: Maryn the tolerably cute little sister From: Paul the hottest guy alive. Or "To; Ashlyn the cutest Angel ever From: P-Will (his nickname at school)". Sheesh. And then Conner brought in one of his he "accidentally" ripped, which I fixed, and he said, "Darn, I thought you'd say 'go ahead and just open it'." Double Sheesh. He reminds me of his dad at times like that.

Every year I take them to the dollar store, and let them get two gifts per sib. It was an interesting experience last night. We went to Bob Evans, and then went Christmas shopping, The two younger ones had to have it explained to them that they bought for others not themselves. But it turned out okay, and I enjoyed a few moments of one on one with my kids to talk and wrap. Paul, even at 14, has a severe wrapping deficiency. I assumed he knew how to wrap. Wrong-O. He knows how to bunch wrapping paper around an object and say "That'll do."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dashing through the snow

Since we've moved to Maria Stein (and my kids have been in school) we have celebrated St. Nicholas Day on December 6th, since everyone else does we have to in order to maintain the illusion of Santa Claus. So I started having a tradition. St. Nick brings a gingerbread house and we put it together as a family. This year, I decided to try gingerbread sleds I found. There were four in the package, so instead of fighting over portions of the house, everyone got their own. They loved it! Paul's kind of fell apart right away, so he just ate it, but here is how everyone else's turned out before the feast began. There were little gummy Santa's. It was very cute!

Nativity Festival

The first weekend of December out stake puts on an interfaith nativity festival. My mother is in charge, so we usually go. This year, we also performed a 45 minute concert with Me, Mel, and Rob. Mel and I brought our families and we enjoyed looking at all of the beautiful nativities from around the world. Here's some pics.

Conner pointing out his favorite one...the p
gang as the na
tivity. When I asked him which was his favorite, he
took my hand and led me right to this one.

Here is some more of the displays. It was so beautiful and

They also had a terrific children's room. There were tons of crafts and things to do including nativity charm bracelets. Here's Ashlyn making hers.

Quote of the day Part 2

Quote of the day Part 2: Maryn "Wow mom, in a month, I'm practically going to be 10. (Her birthday is in April) Sheesh. I'm getting old."

Quote of the day

So QUOTE OF THE DAY! Ashlyn comes in to where I am typing on the computer with banana peels draped over her shoulders. "Look Mom! Its a banana peel scarf!" She walks away and I hear. "Oh crap. It broke. And now part of it's down my shirt."