Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Year Later

This morning I woke up and laid there on the air mattress in Cindy Lynn’s office, wondering if I could get back to sleep.  Within a few minutes I could tell that my brain, while still sleepy, was revving up instead of quieting down.  I started thinking about the things I needed to do to be ready to fly back to Oregon at lunch time…the things I needed to remember to gather from Cindy Lynn’s house.  At some point during my mental list making a thought edged it’s way into my consciousness, sliding in sideways so that it was there for me to see before I was even aware of it.

One year ago yesterday we left Durham.  One year ago I loaded up the car, hugged Alisyn goodbye and drove away.  Drove away from the place I’d lived the longest and people I’d loved so much, drove away from my warm ocean, (drove towards the worlds greatest vacation,) drove towards a new life that I was not very happy about.

Has it been a whole year?  Some moments I wonder how can it have been that long?  Some moments it feels like a lifetime already. 

Having experienced great loss before I knew in my mind (though perhaps not my heart) that time does, to some degree, heal all wounds.  Thankfully time is healing this one as well.  There are still moments of deep sadness, still heartbreak over things that happened or didn’t happen or will never again happen.  And I have  suspicion that every winter I will miss that blue Carolina sky.  But there are also moments of peace, moments of enjoyment, moments of coming-to-terms-with-my-house, and lots of happiness. 

If I could go back in time I’d tell that year ago me, “It’s gonna hurt like hell.  But you will survive, and one day you’ll even be happy again.  But you will never, ever, ever forget North Carolina.” 


[Crying at table in the Salt Lake airport while waiting for my flight & writing this.  Perhaps not my finest moment??]

Monday, April 29, 2013

AWESOME scripture study websites!

For  long time now I’ve been using and loving the LDS Scripture Citation Index.  This index links from scriptures to the general conference talks, Journal of Discourses speeches, and writings in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith that cite those scriptures.  If you want to know who’s used a specific scripture verse in their talk (and sometimes what they had to say about the scripture.)  I love this website.

Last week I was puzzling (over several days) trying to understand what on earth Lehi meant by the phrase in 2 Ne 2 “a compound in one.”  I finally did some googling because I just could not come up with any real meaning for the phrase & accompanying verse, and I came upon this new-to-me website—BookofMormonOnline.net.  This website presents each verse of the Book of Mormon along with a summary AND doctrinal commentary, artwork, and multi-media “offerings.”  When I went to the verse I was trying to understand there were commentaries by two different people that were so helpful.  What a resource this is going to be for my Book of Mormon study!

Happy scripturing!  Smile

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A life lived by weeks


“Dear Jason,” I begin.  Then I sit each Sunday evening and think, trying to decide what I have to say to my missionary boy and how to best describe my week.

I am surprised at what an interesting experience it has been to write to Jason every week.  In my life there is a distinct ending to each day, but the weeks tend to flow one into the next.  But not for the last 20 months.  For the last 20 months on all but one occasion I have spent my Sunday night reviewing the previous week and writing to Jason, amazed that Sunday night has come again so soon. 

The letter writing marks each week-ending as a finite place in time (and sometimes space), separates definitively the last week from the next.  This review every seven days has shown me in a new way the inexorable pace of time, never slowing, ticking down the one hundred and four weeks of his mission at a pace I never would have imagined when he left.

There are 15 Sundays left.  Fifteen more letters, fifteen more Mondays to look forward to reading his.  And then we will have him home for two weeks before he rushes (headlong, I am certain) into the rest of his life.

Tonight I am wondering if I will miss this weekly appointment, if my hyper-awareness of the passage of time will fade away, if I will find myself returning to my weekly review. 

Only time will tell…

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The problem with Grandpa


I know that it’s always fun when grandpa comes, but the problem with Grandpa is that when he comes to visit he wants to hold my baby!


On the other hand, he made a great babysitter


while Cindy Lynn and I went to get post-baby pedicures.


(We were going to go get them right before Kate was born, but then she was born on pedicure day…)

Grandpa & Kate both had naps and he gave her a bottle.  He’s a pro…


After pedicures Russ & I went and met Larry & Gaye for lunch.  At Café Rio, so I could have my 4th meal of roast beef salad for the week.  (Leftovers for dinner tonight makes 5!)  After lunch we went and walked around the Provo River, where we watched birds.


It was a beautiful walk.


After we were done walking we went and did some blessing-day food shopping at Costco and then we came back to Cindy Lynn’s and completely collapsed!

Friday, April 26, 2013

On being the Grandma

So I’ve decided that I like being the grandma.  When you’re the grandma you can sit around all day long holding a baby.  I’ve been wanting to do that for years. 


When you’re the grandma you can take (and post) endless pictures of your adorable grandchild (who is surely the cutest baby that has ever graced the planet) and everyone cuts you a little slack.


When you’re the grandma you can videotape your grandchild and think that video clip is the cutest thing you’ve ever seen.  (Especially 25 seconds into the video.)

Baby Kate

When you’re the grandma you can spend your time (some of it, anyway) making adorable creations for your cutie to wear.  (more pictures later, I promise.)


Quite possibly the best thing when you’re the grandma is that you can smooch that little baby to your heart’s content.  Other people let you hold their babies, but I’m certain they would report you to the police become uncomfortable if you started covering the baby with kisses.   But when you’re the grandma—kiss away.


What can I say—I’m LOVING being the grandma!

What I’ve learned from [your] trials.

Sunday in Relief Society the teacher taught that lesson on trials that I’d prepared for the last month.  I was already very primed for it and it was a great lesson. 

Throughout the class several people made comments about the importance of not being angry with God during trials, not asking why, continuing to have faith, being grateful for growth experiences, etc.  In short, everything I did not succeed in doing during the last year.  I was grateful when one woman, who had been asked to talk about what she had learned from her trials, said that during one particularly difficult time she knew that she had been unable to hear the spirit because she simply was in too much pain.  Yeah.

As I sat and thought about all of the comments and ideas that were swirling around me I realized something.  It certainly would be great if we were able to learn from all of our trials as they were happening, feel God’s love, have our testimonies strengthened, etc. 

[If it’s worked that way for you, that’s wonderful.  Just please don’t tell me that’s the way it should be for me too.] 

In the last year and a half the pain and loss I have felt has been so intense that I haven’t been able to see or feel much of anything beyond my pain—I have done well to survive and do the things that had to be done.  Even the experiences that I had that were spiritually strengthening were difficult to remember in the moments of overwhelming grief.


I realized as I sat there in Relief Society that while I didn’t feel like I had learned much (yet?) from my own trial, I felt like I had learned so much from the trials of people around me.  Not being completely immersed in the pain of the situation means that I have more clarity and perspective on your trials sometimes than I do with my own. 


Last summer the kids and I stayed with some friends who had just experienced an enormous tragedy in their family.  As I listened to my friend talk about the situation it was crystal clear to me that even though the Lord had not kept this tragedy from happening, He had intervened in their lives in several important and specific ways to provide support for them during this incredibly painful crisis. 

Just before Christmas I (along with many of you) was shocked to learn about our friend Brian’s heart attack.  Within 24 hours of hearing the news I also started hearing about the many tender mercies that had preceded and accompanied this terrible event.  As Lindsay blogged the next month about all of the miracles that she had seen my heart was so touched and I felt my testimony of Heavenly Father’s love and concern for us increase.

As I’ve watched your trials and listened to you talk about them I have (sometimes) been able to have a better sense of perspective about what I’m going through.  This is a tricky one—I firmly believe that there are moments when we need to look around and see that, as Cindy Lynn put it, our handcart isn’t the heaviest one out there.  But there are other moments when I think it helps us to understand that whether or not this is the “worst” trial, it is our trial and causes us grief and pain.

On Easter Sunday the Sunday School teacher talked for the last few minutes of class about the story of Lazarus’ death.  I can’t remember what he said about it, but I do remember the new thoughts I had.  This time I thought in a new way about how Mary and Martha had wanted one thing (Christ to come and heal their brother), but, knowing that was not the plan, Jesus did not give them what they wanted.  He allowed Lazarus to die, knowing that this was a necessary part of the bigger plan.  And more than ever before I was struck by the idea that Jesus Christ cried with Mary & Martha, that he grieved for their sorrow even when he knew that it would be turned to joy in just a short time.  This realization that Jesus isn’t ever telling us to “get over it” or “buck up because it’s all for the best” or “you can choose how to feel about this” or even “don’t worry, it will all be ok” meant so much to me.  Seeing again the depths of his compassion for them, (and therefore for us) touched my heart and gave me such comfort.


I sincerely & fervently hope that with time I will be able to look back on the last year and a half and see that it was a growing & strengthening experience.  I hope that at that point I can be grateful that God had a plan for our family and that he supported us through it.  But until I reach that point, I’m glad that I can learn these things from your trials.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I would if I could

I wish I could show you my pictures from the airplane yesterday…as the pilot banked the plane I had the best view of Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, and in the distance I could see the base of Mt. Rainier, it’s top covered by clouds.  (Apparently Mt. Rainier is so big it creates it’s own weather systems.)

I wish I could show you my pictures of Mt. Hood.  As I looked at the other mountains I thought with sadness that I wasn’t going to get to see Mt. Hood, but the airplane kept turning and we flew right past it. 

I wish I could show you a picture of my friend Janet & me yesterday afternoon.  She was kind enough to pick me up at the airport and deliver me to Cindy Lynn’s house, in exchange for lunch at Café Rio.  (She would have done it without the lunch—that was my hungry idea.)  I wish I could show you that picture but I can’t, because as always Janet and I were so busy talking that there was never a moment when I thought of getting out the camera. 

I wish I could show you the other pictures too, but I can’t…because I left my purse & camera in Janet’s car and it’s up in Salt Lake now.

(Along with my cell phone…)

I wish that when I go out later today I would be wearing makeup, but I won’t be, because it turns out that in my 30 minutes of packing yesterday morning I left all of the makeup in the bathroom.  Along with my thyroid medicine.  And my earrings.  (And my happy pills.)

The good news is that I can get the purse and the camera back tomorrow morning.  I called Smiths and they’re getting me a new thyroid prescription.  Russ will bring my makeup on Friday.  Hopefully I’ll see Janet later this summer and remember to get picture.

And the other good news is that even if I’m tired and not wearing makeup and I can’t show you all of those other pictures, I can show you this.


And this.


And this.


And that’s lots better than any mountain, isn’t it!


PS—Mahon (our super son in law!) was reading aloud to Kate from the Book of Mormon reader that someone had just given them as a baby gift.  What a great dad!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Music and Growth


Last week as I was giving Jenna her piano lesson I was thinking about how much she’s improved in the last few months.  It occurred to me that she could probably learn a fun duet to play with me, but I wondered if I would be able to play it.  When her lesson was over I found the music, sat myself down in front of the piano, and gave it a try.

I last played this music 15 years ago and it was very difficult for me then.  I had needed to mark fingering for many of the complex arpeggios and even with that help had still struggled.

This time I played straight through, from beginning to end.  Not perfectly, but not terribly either.

I was startled.

As I sat there and looked at the music, it occurred to me.  All of those piano/violin duets I played before I left North Carolina—they had improved my ability to play the arpeggios.  All of this music that I’ve been playing this year for the elementary school choirs has improved my ability to play chords and my sight reading as well.  I never thought that those experiences were going to affect anything else (or any other music) in my life.


Then it seemed like the spirit spoke to me and said, “this is how life works.”  And I sat there wondering if, in the future, I would hear the little voice in my mind saying “this is easier than it would have been because of what you learned when you moved to Oregon.” 

I can only hope…

Friday, April 19, 2013

Just horsin’ around

Josh decided that this would be a great April Fools joke.  He pulled it out and showed the kids last night.


They thought it was awesome, and wanted a turn too.


Can’t you see that this is going to be handy to have around?!?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar??

DSC_4283I am baffled by the legend of the cookie jar.  You know the one, that there existed a person who had a jar that contained cookies?


This is seriously my question.  How did anyone back then bake cookies and put them in the jar for any length of time?  Because if I make cookies, 25% of the batch is eaten in it’s raw state, 50% are eaten as they come hot from the oven, and the remaining 25% are eaten before lunch the next day.  How many cookies would I have to make to have some for the cookie jar too???

Food Truth


It’s time I admit it. 

I am not a gourmet.

In a world of foodies, I guess I’m not.

It’s not that I haven’t tried.  Because really, I've tried with the best of them.  Well perhaps not the best of them since I am still a sushi holdout and I refuse to eat raw fish in any other form either.  But I’ve at least tried with the 2nd tier.  And this is what I’ve found.

Better than bouillon?  Whatever, and it’s not very convenient to use either.  I was really happy to go back to my convenient little bouillon cubes, msg and all. 

High quality parmesan cheese from Costco?  It’s way too hard to grate, and I find that annoying.  Especially since it doesn’t taste remarkably better and it costs about 3x as much.

And last, as much as I am sad to admit it, when my $32 quart of mexican vanilla is done in the next month or two I’ll be just fine buying my vanilla again from Costco.  Without having to go to Texas (or worrying about getting shot at) to get it. [I do feel slightly vindicated in this opinion after reading some research by Cook’s Illustrated in which they say that there is no difference in taste between premium vanilla and fake vanilla!]


I’m actually a little relieved to be able to admit this.  No more worrying about having the premium ingredients, no more trying to figure out how to get myself some mexican vanilla, I can just be who I am.  Cheaper cheese and all…

Monday, April 15, 2013

Oh Oregon spring, how you taunt us…

We had almost two weeks of sun in March.  The world around us responded to the beautiful weather by bursting into bloom.



And then, just when we were getting excited, guess what happened.  It rained, snowed, and HAILED!


I hear that while we were in Utah the weather was nice again.  And there are certainly more things blooming now. 


DSC_4163DSC_4188goldie2 (2)

But since we’ve been back it has been mostly grey, usually chilly, and often rainy.

Oh how I am missing North Carolina’s fine spring weather.

(I keep reminding myself that I do not miss the bugs…and I will not miss the invasion of the cicadas that’s about to happen…)


PS—The gardens at the Portland temple are amazing.  Just beautiful.  I am wondering if I would need a flock of gardeners to make my yard look like that next year??

portland temple (2)

PPS—I’m super happy to report that Hillsboro seems to have an abundance of my favorite tree—the one with the pink poofy pom-pom flowers on it.


Which I was told today are crab-apples.  Hooray for lots of crab-apples!


Saturday, April 13, 2013

The camellia years


I remember the first time I saw a camellia, really looked at it and saw it.  We had gone to Duke Gardens one fine spring day and after I’d taken the requisite number of pictures of my kids I looked around to see what flowers were in bloom.  In a corner of the gardens that I’d never paid much attention to before I found a group of trees that almost looked like they had roses growing on them.  When I read the nearby signs I found that these were camellias.  The flowers were lovely.

Duke Gardens 312Duke Gardens 198


I’ve noticed a number of camellia trees blooming around town in the last few weeks, every one of them blooming profusely.  Each time I have seen one I have had the same feeling –a feeling of abundant beauty, beauty filling up the tree and almost spilling over. 

IMG_5275 p

And as I’ve thought this week about my realization of how completely blessed we were our last few years in North Carolina, my memories of those years have felt like the camellia trees look.  Filled with abundant, extravagant beauty, almost to the point of spilling over.

So from here on out that’s how I’m going to think about them.  The camellia years…

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Lesson—a paradigm shift (change in perspective #2)

On Robert’s first day at school, he
had a wonderful time.
He swung on the swings.
He sang with the other children.
He listened to the stories.
He loved sitting at a desk and
smelling new paper and touching
new pencils.  And his teacher was
very, very nice.

One day Robert’s teacher said, “Children,
it’s time for our lesson.
We are now going to learn how to solve a problem.
One plus one equals what?”

Robert was very curious and listened carefully
while the teacher explained.
Then he raised his hand and said, “The answer is two!”

“Right!” said the teacher.

And Robert was very happy
because he had solved the problem.

The next day when the teacher started talking about
solving a problem, Robert just stared out the window
at a bird that was hopping on a nearby branch,
because he already knew how to solve a problem.
But when his eyes went to the blackboard after the
bird flew away, he saw written there “2+2.”

“What?”  Robert looked at his teacher in surprise.
”Another problem?”

“Oh Robert,” the teacher said, twinkling as if she
knew some marvelous secret, “this is just the beginning.
There are lots and lots of problems.”

Robert sighed.  Then he listened as the teacher
explained, and he raised his hand and said, “four!”

“Right!” said the teacher.

And Robert smiled because he had solved two problems.

Every day when Robert went to school,
there were more and more problems to solve.
And sometimes Robert said to himself,
"This is not fun!”

But his teacher told him he had to
do it anyway, because what he was there
for was to learn.  And he could have fun at
recess and lots of fun after school.
And she said, though Robert did not believe
her, that after he had solved lots of
problems he would feel even happier than
when he slid down the slippery slide.

So one by one Robert solved the problems.
And after he solved them he smiled.

And he moved up a grade.

Then one day the teacher said,
"We are now going to do story problems.”

“Oh, boy,” said Robert, “this sounds like fun!”
He liked stories,
so he listened carefully.

“If you are outside and playing,”
said the teacher, “and you have three cars
and one truck and Joey comes alone
and grabs two cars and the truck,
how many times should you hit Joey?”

Robert thought and thought.
"Two times!”  he said.

“Wrong,” said the teacher.

“Three times!” said Robert.

“Wrong,” said the teacher, and she looked ‘
at him with soft, expectant eyes.

Robert puzzled over this for a little while,
then his hand shot up and he said brightly,
"I know!  No times!”

“Right!” said the teacher.

And Robert smiled because
he had solved another problem.

Robert grew bigger and bigger
and so did his problems.  Oh, he loved
recess, and he played ball and roller-
skated with friends after school
and had the best time!
And the teacher saw to it
that they sang and drew pictures
and had lots of fun in class.

But always there came the problems.

And sometimes he slumped down at his
desk and said, “I am not enjoying this! 
Why are you punishing me with all
these problems?”

And Robert’s teacher, now twinkling as
if the secret were even more
wonderful, answered, “Oh Robert, I am
not punishing you.  It’s just that you
have moved up a grade and are ready
for harder problems.
And here comes one now.”

Robert held onto his desk with both
hands and squeezed his eyes shut
and listened.



Last month, a couple of days after I’d given my Relief Society lesson, I opened the manual and read through my lesson for April.  The lesson topic for chapter 7 was “Faithfulness in Times of Trial.”  In other words, adversity.

One of the first times I read through the chapter a thought popped into my head.  Somewhere I had a little book, a parable really, by Carol Lynn Pearson that would be the perfect introduction to a discussion on adversity.  The book was called “The Lesson” and it told the story of a boy named Robert going to school each day and having to solve problems. 

It turned out that Cindy Lynn had the book at her house—a  mercy really because I never would have been able to find it here with so many of our books still in boxes.  I read it last week while I was there, and had to laugh (though I almost cried) when I came to this page:

One day as Robert was gazing out
the window at the raindrops that were
making puddles on the sidewalk
and thinking what a great splash he
could make, he heard his teacher say,
"Robert, if your family moved to a small
house in a big city and you had to leave
behind two aquariums and one dog and
your best friend…”

“Oh no!”  interrupted Robert.
I don’t want that problem.
Give me a different problem!”

“But I can’t,” said the teacher.  “This is
your problem and you must solve it.”

So Robert worked on it and cried a
little, and finally, after some time had
passed, he found that he had solved
the problem.  And he smiled.
And if felt good.


Oh I knew Robert’s pain!  I knew how much he wanted the teacher to take away this problem and to give him another!  And I hoped that one day I would feel like I had finished solving this particular problem, so that I could smile about it and it would feel good.

I kept thinking about how perfectly this little book fit with my RS lesson.  I worried a little bit about my ability to read through the story without crying, but figured I would just have to be tough.  And then on Sunday night I looked at this week’s Relief Society announcements, trying to find out what time our RS meeting last night was going to start, and saw this at the bottom of the announcements,

Next week’s lesson will be Chapter 6, “Becoming Perfect Before the Lord,” by Cindy Ray.

I froze.  Panicked, right then and there.  That was not my lesson, because I was preparing chapter 7!!  But as I thought about it, I realized what had happened.  Last month, I taught chapter 5.  Since there are two lessons from this manual each month, I automatically assumed that my next lesson would be #7.  But—we’d had stake conference the week after my lesson, so lesson 6 had never been taught.  Sure enough, when I emailed the RS president, she agreed that I was supposed to be teaching chapter 6 this coming Sunday, and not chapter 7.

At first I thought I would ask them to switch it for me.  But I knew that it was very possible that next week’s teacher was already working on her lesson, and it wasn’t fair of me to make her plan a new lesson so that I wouldn’t have to.  And then I thought—maybe this has worked out the way it was supposed to.  Maybe I didn’t need to study this lesson to teach it.  Maybe I just needed to study it for me.  Because reading this little story over and over has reminded my heart of this basic fact—that one of the purposes of mortality is to be tested, and that each test just a lesson, teaching us and shaping us.  I’m not sure why, but somehow the whole thing is so much more manageable when I look at it from that perspective.

Oddly enough the other thing it’s done has been to give me gratitude for the last couple of years.  A few pages later in the book it says,

Robert had a long summer vacation and
played and played and played.
And when it was time to go back
to school, he was ready.

I realized as I read this that in so many ways the last four years (before Russ got laid off) were our “long summer vacation.”  Russ’s last job was really wonderful.  He enjoyed what he did and liked the people he worked with.  He made more money and we actually had some financial flexibility.  Sometimes he had to take time off without pay but those times ended up being really great—having so much time with him during those years was a bonus.  We had beautiful social support structures in place, we liked our callings, we went to the beach regularly.  With the exception of that one time when everything broke, the last four years were fairly peaceful and filled with joy.

Looking back now on these wonderful years I am filled with gratitude to the Lord for being so kind to us—for giving us a “summer vacation” before giving us this new lesson to learn. 

Who knew I could be so grateful for the mistake of preparing the wrong lesson…

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

It goes on. (change in perspective #1)

[In Mormon churches on the 1st Sunday of the month there is no speaker, no sermon. Instead anyone who feels moved to can stand and share their testimony with the congregation. It’s a risky operation, and sometimes it gets a little wonky. But sometimes it’s fine, and often it’s beautiful and spirit-filled.]


I’m remembering a testimony meeting that happened in our ward the month after Russ got laid off.  I got up and shared what was happening with us and publicly declared my intent to handle the situation with faith and trust in God.  (Something you know I haven’t been entirely successful in doing, but that is beside the point.)  Several other people got up and shared equally traumatic stories from their own recent lives—it had been a really difficult month for several families in our congregation.

And then our friend Laurin got up.  He told us a story about when he & his family lived in Florida and he was a contractor.  He said that one day he was remodeling a bathroom in a nice big home.  He had a teenager in the bathroom helping him, and when they took something out (maybe the toilet) they broke one of the water lines and water came shooting & pouring out into the bathroom. 

The homeowners weren’t there, and he had no idea how to turn the water off.  The property was so big that there wasn’t any way to tell where the water shut off would be. It was clear from his telling of the story that this had been a big disaster for him.

And then he said something like this.  “Many of you have shared experiences today of difficult and painful things that have recently happened in your lives.  These are really hard things.  But one day, just like what happened to me in that bathroom, these experiences are just going to be stories.”


What he said made total and complete sense to me, and I have thought of it often in the last 18 months.  One day, this experience will just be a story.  It will still be a sad story, because it will still be a story of change and loss.  But it won’t have the power that feels like a punch in the gut anymore, it won’t be all raw pain and sorrow. 


At the end of January I was really having a hard time.  I couldn’t figure out what the problem was—I was faithfully taking my SamE and vitamin D and nothing had really changed from the previous few months.  But I found myself leaking tears a lot of the time, especially if people asked me questions about our move here.  (Did you want to move to Oregon?  Do you miss North Carolina??  Was it beautiful there?  Was it hard to leave after so many years???)  I got to the place where I was almost afraid to talk to people, I was so tired of finding myself crying again.

One afternoon I’d gone to Josh’s swim meet and was sitting in front of a man from our ward here.  I knew that they’d lived here for about 10 years, and that they chosen to move here from Arizona hoping the weather would be kinder to his wife’s health.  As we were talking he said “When we moved here someone told us that they had found the hardest time was right about 6 months—that was when it really all sank in and was final and everything felt so difficult.”  And then he said, “It really was that way for us too.”   I listened to him and wasn’t sure I agreed with that idea.  But later, as I thought about it more, I realized—that is right where I am now.  Six months would actually have come in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I think things had been too busy for me to be able to pay attention to it then.  Instead these feelings had waited until things calmed down in my life, and then started leaking out around my eyeballs.  Not in the fresh stabbing pain that I felt when I left North Carolina, but in a deep sense of grief and despair for all of the things that were lost. 

That’s when I added the 5HTP to my daily dose of SamE, and it seemed to do the trick and help regulate my emotions.  It was a relief not to cry whenever anyone talked to me.

Now we’re in April and the kids and I have been talking about the fact that we’ve almost been in Oregon a year.  In a week Russ & I will celebrate our first anniversary in Oregon.  In a couple of weeks it will be the one year anniversary of the day we left Durham.  And I do believe I’m feeling better.  Not that I’m going to stop taking my stuff anytime soon—I will give it a while longer.  But I’ve been feeling ok lately.  Less like a tragedy happened, and more like it was a sad story.

I just read a really interesting quote by Robert Frost, that I thought was so applicable.  He said,

“In three words I can sum up everything I know about life: It goes on.”


So here we are.  Going on…

More school fun


There are some days where school requires a lot of energy.  Or maybe it’s that my kids have too much energy.  It’s a good thing that they keep me laughing.  Here’s a sample of the fun from this morning:

1.  The assignment: compare and contrast sheep with Christians.

Jenna: Well….sheep have white fleece.  And OLD Christians have white hair…


2.  The assignment: compare and contrast butterflies and moths.

Jared:  Do they both have that powder stuff that will come off their wings if you touch them?  I hope you know if that was fake (me telling them when they were little not to touch butterflies & moths because it would harm their wings and they wouldn’t be able to fly) my childhood is ruined.

3.  Not sure what the assignment was, or how it happened, but somehow Jared’s finger ended up too close to Rachel’s mouth and she bit it.

Such fun.  Smile

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Please Hold My Hands


Baby Kate has quite the active hands. 


She pokes herself in the eye, grabs her face, and throws them up in the air to startle herself. 


Sometimes this is just fun to watch.  But it’s not quite so entertaining when it’s time for her to go to sleep, when it’s obvious that she’s tired and ready to sleep and yet she can’t stop moving her hands and arms and keeping herself awake.

One night I found myself holding her hands gently so that she couldn’t move them.  As she relaxed in my lap, arms finally still, she slowly started drifting off to sleep.


Eventually she was totally zonked out and I could put her down, but only because I held her hands still while she was falling asleep.


I thought about it as I held her hands that night—maybe Heavenly Father does this for me.  I’m sure there are things that I do that keep me from peace or happiness in my life—things that are much like pulling my own hair or poking myself in the eye.  I wonder which situations in my life that feel restrictive are actually Heavenly Father restraining me from getting in the way of my own happiness or peace.  I wonder if, when I’m flailing around and working myself into a fit of exhausted frustration, he ever takes my hands and holds them down gently so that I can relax and rest.  I’m not sure, and I’ll probably never know.  But somehow it makes sense to me that sometimes He just knows that I need Him to hold my hands for me…DSC_4026

Family Time

I can tell already (I mean it’s only taken me a year!) that one of the really great things about living in Oregon is going to be greater access to our families.  I’ve been here for almost 11 months and we’ve already had family visitors three times—Cindy Lynn and Mahon after Christmas, my cousins Dav & Megan in September, and on Saturday my cousin Luz and her kids stopped by for a visit on their way back to Utah from the coast.


While we were in Utah we had a get-together all of my siblings who could come,


we were there at the right time for a going away party at my aunt’s where I got to hang out longer with my siblings and see lots of aunts & uncles and a few cousins as well.


We got to spend time with Russ’s parents,


have dinner with Russ’s brother & his wife (and their bird Diego),


hang out with my sister Andra several times, (why oh why did I grab my glasses for this picture?  I should have left them off so we’d look more alike!)


spend the night at my dad’s, and of course have lots & lots of time with Cindy Lynn, Mahon, and sweet baby Kate.


I was thinking one day last week about how sad I was that the kids weren’t going to get to see baby Kate again until August.  And then somehow my thoughts went to how I haven’t gotten a ticket to fly Josh out to EFY yet because the prices haven’t dropped for June.  And then I realized—we can bring him out!  And spend the week with the baby!!  (And Cindy Lynn!  And cousins!!)


So yes.  I am seeing that there are some serious advantages to our new location.


PS—I find it beyond ironic that my family, which has NO ROOTS IN UTAH WHATSOEVER, has ended up in Utah in such large numbers.  It’s one thing for the kids in my generation who came out and went to school and married Utah kids.  And Ramona is from Utah, so we knew eventually my dad would end up there.  But all of his brothers and his sister moved there even before he did.  My conclusion:  Utah is where Mormons go to die.

PPS—As if it wasn’t fabulous enough to see all of our family members while we were in Utah, guess who else we saw?!?


Ken was spending the weekend with his parents and came by to say hi and to bring the baby a beautiful quilt Alisyn had made.  It was such fun to see him.