Saturday, March 26, 2011

Favorite Day of the Week

Hands down Monday is my favorite day of the week! Why?? My Lover is home all day long. Often Monday's are filled with house projects, errands, doctor's appointments, feeding the missionaries, scout stuff, etc... but I love every minute because we get to conquer the day together.

Chloe also LOVES Mondays. She loves doing anything with her daddy and loves that on Mondays Birch rotates eating lunch with each of the kids and she usually gets to come a long. Chloe is like the class pet of the classroom. When she enters the classroom door everyone wants to "pet" her, have her sit next to them, and get a goodbye hug. She may act shy but really she is in heaven!
I gave up dressing her a long time ago. Sadly she has decide that each day must be tackled in knit pants -- she checks each morning to make sure she can stretch adequately. The cute new jeans I got her have only made their debut once.
Love this nut!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tyler, the bball master

Tyler just wrapped up a great season of basketball. He wasn't ready to have it all end. Birch really enjoyed coaching him and think Tyler has a lot of potential. Way to go TJ!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The luck of the leprechaun

The morning of St. Patties Day I wasn't feeling so lucky as I had a run in with the guy that controls the little canal behind our house (he cut the cable to our draw bridge because I left it down after Tyler left for crosswalk patrol and the other kids going to school and hauled it off all while I was yelling at him--not a pretty memory). Anyway, that is another story in itself.

By the afternoon time I was feeling badly that I hadn't done anything to celebrate St. Patrick's Day especially because the kids love every holiday. I was able to get over my grouchy self for a bit while we created some fun dinner treats.
Rainbow Cupcakes -- fun to make! I usually steer from anything that is full of artificial food coloring but these were too hard to resist. Each of the kids were in charge of one color of the cupcake.

They turned out super cute!

Dinner was mighty tasty -- pesto over noodles, pina colada jello "gold", and soft shamrock pretzels.

Alysee was the one that truly found gold -- she got a phone call telling her that she won a brand new ipod shuffle from this family expo that we went to last weekend. She has been in music heaven ever since.

Happy St. Patties Day!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Soul, Love, Happiness

Three words that perfectly describe our recent visit from Ami and Poppi. Our time together was so full of fun and projects that I didn't even remember to take a picture of them until they headed out the door super early the day they left.
My heart is a little tearful with happiness and longing as I think of them putting in their mission papers in April to leave on a mission for our church in October. They haven't even left yet and I miss them.
The real reason behind their visit is that we are all Lower Lights junkies. We LOVE this group. I got to see them in concert while in Provo, UT last year and fell instantly in love. When we heard that they were coming our direction it only took my parents a second to decide that they were going to join us. The highlight of the concert for me was some crazy dancing with my lover and my dad to "This little light of mine." Totally brought me back to my stake dance years.

This Little Light of Mine from The Lower Lights on Vimeo.

Emily took this picture of my dad with the little girls. The kids LOVE spending time with Ami and Poppi. We kept my dad busy one day helping Birch replace all of door knobs in our house--out with the gold and in with the oil-rubbed bronze.

Love you guys!!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Seven...a little bit of Nate heaven

Nate the Great turns SEVEN!!!! Hard to believe this little man is seven already. Just before his birthday Birch and I went to parent/teacher conferences for all the kids. Oh my, Nate's teacher just went on and on how much she enjoys Nate. Nate excels in math and is so not like his mommy but very much like his daddy the way he can problem solve in his head (I still have to use my fingers and toes.) He is a great reader but apparently needs to turn up the speed dial just a hair. Nate loves spaghetti and meatballs, shrimp, chicken sandwiches, and stromboli. Nate can be so sweet but also balances that personality trait with a hot temper. We are working on mastering that trait -- it certainly does give him motivation to excel and a fierce drive that is not to be interrupted. Nate's drawing skills are amazing and he is wonderful at adding little details to his pictures.Nate scored with having his birthday on a Saturday this year. He got to go out to his choice of restaurant with mom and dad for lunch. Nate knew instantly that he would pick Olive Garden. For dinner he requested chicken sandwiches.
Birch made Nate's cake this year. Nate had chosen to have a sports theme cake and Birch was pretty excited with what he came up with. The kids have been loving having a new set of balls to play endless hours of BUMP! in the basement with Birch.
That's a lot of candles to blow out! Nate's favorite present was a new skateboard.
In January Nate decided that he wanted to start reading the Book of Mormon daily. When this kid makes his mind up to do something WATCH OUT! Nate has been faithful in reading each night in his bed. What an example!
Nate and Tyler still lead the school in total number of miles accumulated in their weekly running during lunch recess. Not to brag...but we are pretty proud of our two boys.

Love you Nate!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A little glimpse into my heart...

This past month I have spent a lot of time reflecting. Reflecting on life, faith, friendship, and the Plan of Happiness.

Four weeks ago today my life changed...forever. A sweet little 23 month old passed away unexpectedly during her nap leaving behind her mommy, daddy, grandparents, and a multitude of extended family that loved her so much. I wouldn't say I was particularly close to angel Elyse but I've found over the years that it doesn't matter my level of closeness -- I am always touched by the death of a sweet baby or child. There is a sense of a connection between those that have loved and lost. Kind of like God is knitting our hearts together in order for our souls to truly not break.

Just before Elyse's passing I was giving a talk in church and shared from my journal an excerpt from when I was really struggling with trusting in the Lord and increasing my faith about seven months after the passing of our little girl Sara Elizabeth who died at 17.5 weeks gestation. I wrote, "Birch reminded me of something that [our friend] once told us a long time ago. She said that sometimes you have to put things that you don't understand up on your "shelf of faith." Sometimes I just feel like I have so many things up on that shelf that it might fall."

Three days later sweet Elyse died and again I find my shelf of faith being weighed down heavily.

The deep pain that I have felt for this dear family has pierced my heart once again. I am reminded of a favorite passage in the book "Grieving -- the pain and promise" by Deanna Edwards, "The expression of grief is not the evidence of a lack of faith. It is simply the evidence of our love and our need to find closure as we examine new ways to continue our lives in different directions."

When Sara Elizabeth died I wondered how I might ever be whole again. How could I love fully? Would I ever find laughter again? Would there always be a piece of me missing? Elyse's death has brought some time of reflection for me. Time truly does heal ones' soul but even more I have been filled over and over again with deep love and have created a new me that is complete. The anger that once filled me has dissipated, the questions...many that still go un-answered do not gnarl at my soul making it impossible to have a relationship with Christ. I have been touched by death, molded by death, but death does not define me.

About a month after Sara Elizabeth died I read another passage in Deanna Edwards book that jumped out at me...could it possibly be true?

"Those who grieve are well qualified to become our teachers. They have stood at the very threshold of life, and they understand the true meaning of love. They have a vision and awareness that far surpasses those whose lives have never been pierced with deep pain and suffering. They speak to us honestly and courageously from the heart of the refiners fire. They understand the importance of values and priorities. That are deeply sensitive. They will no longer trust in superficial answers or well-worn cliches. They guard against those who are afraid of their pain and too uncomfortable to communicate in an authentic way. They are impatient with those who have learned to use their faith in life after death as a reason to avoid doing the work of grief, or those who believe grief is unnecessary in the presence of faith. They do not care how much we know until they know who much we care. Once they discover that we are unafraid, that we are willing to learn from them and that we are non-judgmental, they will tell us what it is like to walk with pain as a companion. Though they may never receive a diploma from the school of suffering, they, both young and old, will teach us to live and love as we never have before. They will render themselves vulnerable for our sakes, and if we learn the lessons they have to teach us, our lives will never be the same again."

So is living with pain as a companion a blessing? Not a blessing that I would choose to receive but one that has served me well over the years. Honestly I am not sure that I could stand strong if another child (one whom I have made memories with on this earth) or Birch passed away. I look to my mother-in-law and other friends who have survived such tremendous loss and yearn to heal their souls and selfishly guard my own heart from such loss. The philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard said, Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward.

I press forward knowing that trusting in the Lord is the only way. True love is meant to be felt on this earth and withholding such love in order to spare a broken heart is just not worth it.

Sweet Elyse and Sara Elizabeth's bodies lie in the ground but they will not be forgotten. They have each touched my heart eternally. I pray that I might walk as a companion for those that suffer and be God's hands in lifting others as they walk through the forest of heartache.
Angel Elyse - Aug 2010