Sunday, October 25, 2009

I lost.

I thought I'd get away with it. Last Friday I gave in, and thought I'd won. But no such luck.

No sooner had the kids gotten picked up Friday evening than my fever started. I went to church today, even though my husband begged me to stay home. But this afternoon the entire thing came crashing down on me.

I lost the fight. I'm sick.

You know that feeling when you stand up too fast and get dizzy? Well, for the first time I did that and experienced searing pain through my head. I couldn't get my balance and, for a moment, thought I just might lose my lunch. Ironically, I had just been considering whether or not I should try to get to the doctor's on Monday. Now I'm going for sure.

The 800mg of ibuprofen coursing through my system is the only reason I'm able to type this at all. I can't move my head very fast, so I'm not moving fast at all--if I have to move. I am taking a rare sick day tomorrow. There's no way we're having day care until I know for sure what I've got.

I hate being sick. Who has time for this?

Monday, October 19, 2009


Twenty years ago, though that hardly seems possible, my mom got a phone call from her oldest son. Listening to her side of the conversation and watching her tears, I knew something horrible had happened. And it had. Their 17 month old son, Mitchel, had died during the night.

At 14, I was already well acquainted with death. My earliest memories are of my grandfather's and then my own father's funerals. But these were people older than me. Mitchel's death forced me to rethink my perspective. And it left a lasting impression on my that has affected many aspects of my life.

It is never easy to lose a child. But it happens. Just before my oldest turned 5, I miscarried a baby in my first trimester. I hadn't had the joy of feeling my baby move inside me. She was too small to conclusively identify her gender, and was sucked out of me through a tiny tube and disposed of in the hospital garbage. It's not delicate; I regret there couldn't have been a more reverent way of putting her body to rest. But I didn't have any options at the time.

If a mother miscarries, she can torture herself with the what ifs. She never got to hold her child, hear her child laugh, or even change a diaper. You regret what you miss. But losing a child who has already been born, has shown you their personality and cuddled with you, is a different kind of pain. I don't pretend to determine which is worse. They are different, but they both cut shafts of grief through a mother's heart.

We are fortunate as Latter Day Saints to have a clear understanding of the life after this life. We know losing our child is a temporary thing, and if we remain worthy we can be with them again. We can take comfort in the idea that our child was spared the pains of this world are are assured a place in the highest kingdom of heaven. It doesn't mean we don't grieve. But it does mean we don't have to dwell.

Because of Mitchel's death during my formative years, when I became a mother I found myself obsessive over my children while they slept. I'd check on them two or three times a night. And I wasn't satisfied to see they were there; I'd have to check to be sure they were still alive. I relaxed once they hit 18 months, because it had become a sort of milestone for me, a marking point. Then I'd only check on them once a night.

It's also had a positive effect. I treasure my children. I'm more conscious of the temporary nature of childhood and how quickly it's gone. I'm also acutely aware that we don't know what tomorrow will bring, and so I try to live my life with my children to the fullest. As far as I'm concerned, that's the only way to be.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Weekend

While I had a miserable weekend, part of my family was having the time of their lives. And sometimes I feel like I set the whole thing up.

Doubt me? Last year I signed us all up on Disneyland's website for the free park entry on each of our birthdays. I thought of the special, remarkable birthdays the kids were having this year and figured it would be a great way to see each of them remembered in a big way.

Of course, I didn't set out to have a miserable weekend. That was fallout. Oh well.

I wanted Bryan to have a really great time one on one with his oldest daughter for her 18th birthday Saturday. Rianne tagging along was a last minute idea--mine, too. Are we getting the idea I think to much? Turns out it was great. The three of them had a fantastic time and got to bond in ways they otherwise may have missed.

Dad got to share a great day with two of the most important girls in his life, not to mention they're his youngest and oldest children. The 5 yr old turns out to be an amazing, stupendous road tripper and handled the car time there and back with maturity that surpassed her age. I'm hoping the oldest had fun. Her texts made me think she did, and the pics Dad brought back sure makes it look that way.

What a wonderful memory they share, and what a day they will be able to look back on fondly as the years go on. I'm glad for them. I'm grateful it all worked out, and especially grateful to our financial benefactor, who loves his grandkids to pieces and wants only for them to get the most out of their lives.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Boy Blog!

I probably don't talk about my sons as often as I talk about my daughters. That's easy--I know boys. I have 4 older brothers, 2 stepbrothers, my best friend growing up was a boy and a solid 75% of the kids I ever babysat were boys.

Boys are no mystery to me. My girls, on the other hand, intimidate me a little. They're so emotional. I don't know what they're thinking or how to follow their thought processes. AND I AM A GIRL!! It's frustrating, so I talk about it.

But, tonight, the one oft overlooked is weighing on my brain. This is my "middle son" Daniel. I put "middle son" in quotes because he's technically the younger (by 2 min) of my twins so officially he's my third born of 5, putting him smack dab in the center of our little family tree. The reason I call him the oft overlooked one is simple, I have 5 squeaky wheels and he's not one of them.

First, there's my stepdaughter. Because she lives in another state, anything she does gets extra recognition--phone calls, texts, emails, letters, visits, etc. Then there's my official first born, the one who lives here. He's my oldest child. He's my husband's first son. Add to that his learning issues and, you guessed it, extra attention.

Now we come to Jeffrey. Jeffrey is my heart. He is the child I almost lost, twice. Once as a baby when he had a digestive obstruction that was killing him until the doctors found and repaired it. And the second time happened when he wandered into the street--right in front of a car--at my sister in law's house. It was one of those moments where every other adult assumed someone else was watching the kids. We were even all out in the front yard together. Just as I looked up and thought, "where's Jeffrey?" I heard the car horn. Add to that Jeffrey's learning issues, health issues and intensely creative brain and it's safe to say he gets a whole lot of attention.

Then we come to our girls. Ignore Kylie--I dare you. After nearly 10 years of living without his daughter, my husband got another one and let me tell you he has made the most of it. She's so fixed in a princess mentality that we've been working since first grade to convince her she has to do the schoolwork--even if she doesn't want to. And none of the other kids have to do what she says just because. Don't get me wrong; she's actually a very sweet, loving child. But she's got a stubborn streak a mile wide and steel in her disposition. Don't know where she gets that from (whistles innocently).

Last, but certainly not least, is the baby, our newly minted 5 yr old. She's the last child; she's the youngest and she's a girl. Plus she's incredibly brilliant and her brain works like quicksilver. NOT. POSSIBLE. TO. OVERLOOK.

And we're back to Daniel. Brilliant, creative, fun, bubbly Daniel. He's helpful, cooperative and is absolutely any teacher's dream. This kid gets straight A's without trying. He offers opinions when asked, raises his hand, is exceptionally polite and quite intelligent. He's friendly too. And not remotely shy.

And, because of all those things, he probably gets the least attention in the house. Sad, isn't it? A couple of years ago, I noticed Daniel had become withdrawn and lost his enthusiasm for school. I knew he was bored in class. Though I appreciated the fact he did his classwork anyway, I knew it presented no challenge for him. But my mommy sense told me something else was going on. I knew he needed extra attention. He was falling through the cracks.

I had an inspired idea. We sent him to stay with his grandma and papa in Oklahoma for a month. He had a blast. (And came home too big for his clothes) He ate cheeseburgers, slept all morning, played video games and watched Spongebob till all hours of the night. He rode Papa's tricked out golf cart all over the yard. He went fishing with his Papa. He caught fireflies and toads. Little boy heaven.

It taught us all something. And I haven't forgotten. Sometimes the quiet wheel needs a little grease, too.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Reader, Beware!

I'm going to get religious here for a bit, so if you don't want to get that intimate--stop reading now.

Ok, you asked for it. No apologies now.

I read a lengthy portion of Elizabeth's Smart's testimony of her treatment in the hands of Brian David Mitchell today. I have so much respect and empathy for that young woman. What she endured; her bravery--the times she tried to deny him. Kidnapped in the middle of the night, her family threatened, forced into a farce of a marriage and imprisoned for months. The fact that she's so whole now is a testament to her faith and the healing power of God.

Watch this girl. She's going to contribute something incredible to the kingdom of God. Maybe in little ways; maybe not. But let's break this down. For nine months, ironically the length of time it takes a child to grow in the womb, she was attacked on all fronts--physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. The man attacking her is so possessed by evil it has polluted every aspect of his mind. He's not insane or weak minded. He's cold, calculating and a sociopath. He used every device at his disposal to destroy her, to make her malleable and submissive. And it didn't work.

God protected her. I'm sure in those dark moments of despair she had to have doubted, had to have wondered why this had happened to her. An innocent child of 14 taken from everything familiar and abused in the worst ways. Yet the woman she has become is a testament to the healing power of faith, to the special gift of love of family and to the power of a loving God.

It may not have always seemed like it, Elizabeth, but God is with you. And He loves you. Serve well, my sister.