Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sunnyside Up

Ok so I only made it one week with the picture gratitude post idea.....It isn't that I don't have ample things to be grateful for I just well didn't do it!

I don't usually publicly share my journal entries, but I'm going out on a limb here and sharing today's entry. If you don't want to read a sappy, emotional mom post then just x out now!

March 11, 2014


I think I just nursed my last baby for the last time. He is 16 months this week. I have been contemplating for a while to know when it was time to quit. I didn’t want to have to use a bottle (another habit to break later) so I knew that I would nurse until he was comfortable and proficient with a sippy cup. I also didn’t want to quit for selfish reasons like just wanting my body back or going on a trip (I’m not condemning anyone who ever stopped for those reasons. I just didn’t want to this time—I have in the past). So last month when we went on an amazing trip with our friends to Cancun, Mexico, I pumped every morning and night while we were on vacation. I wanted a peaceful answer to be done before we left, but it didn’t come. I’m experienced enough now in the torture of regret so I packed my breast pump (really more like an old friend). It has been with me through 7 children including the full time employment while nursing the first two and the PICU stay of the 3rd and everything else for the other 4. It took up almost half of my small carryon suitcase. (We didn’t want the hassle of checked baggage).  The peace of mind was worth all of the clothes and shoes and things I left behind!

Yesterday morning I woke up (after being woken multiple times in the night with a 16 month old terrorist demanding to nurse before going back to sleep), and I thought to myself for the umpteenth time, “Maybe it is time to be done nursing.” This time, unlike the previous times, I had a wave of peace wash over me, and I knew it was time. So I didn’t nurse all day yesterday until just before bed-- that was more for my comfort than his. Then I brushed his teeth, helped him with his prayers, and laid him in his bed with his binki and favorite blankie. I love watching how he does it the same every time. On his tummy, head to one side, shoulders pressed to the mattress with his palms up waiting for the soft velvet touch of the blankie with the baby blue satin trim. His fingers take hold on each side and draw the material into clenched fists while his wrists wrap the softness once around bringing it in close to his body.

 He went right to sleep. I had noticed last evening while we were playing at the park that he might be starting a cold as his nose was running a lot and getting thicker, yellow mucus. I felt sabotaged. I knew he would be waking in the night even more than usual. In my mind I thought, “It just isn’t fair that he would get sick just as I make my decision to be done nursing. Maybe I should wait?” I wavered for a moment, but went to sleep resolved that it was time. Sure enough he was up 8 times in the night; I held strong all 8 times and did not nurse him even though he cried and begged.

This morning I had to wake him to drive the kids to school. I let him drink his sippy of milk on the way, and then we came home, and I gave him cut up French toast (leftovers from his siblings. While feeding a family of 9 on a daily basis, I’ve learned a few short cuts) while he finished drinking his sippy cup. After which he begged for a bath. By begged, I mean squirmed and wriggled off the changing table and ran straight to the tub in my bathroom and started climbing in. I conceded to his wish even though I had bathed him last night after the park. There is something indescribable about watching the joy of a baby in the bath so I decided to enjoy today (a rarity since I usually have every minute of every day over scheduled). After he was dressed, he played with the kitchen and dishes that his five year old brother and seven year old sister left set up in his closet for a while and then moved on to the tinker toy concoctions built by his older siblings, and he even found a blue marker and wrote all over his face and hands and perhaps other hidden spots waiting to surprise me later. Of course I was wiping up counters and sticky syrup off the kitchen table, picking up piano books thrown across the living room, folding and putting away clothe, and other mundane overly repetitious tasks .Suddenly he was no longer content. He walked to his crib and reached through the cherry wood slats and pulled out his white and baby blue polka dot blankie.  With the blue satin trim clutched in his right fist, his left fist was pumping open and shut (sign language for milk), and he ran to me and grabbed my hand and led me to the bed where he climbed up with his blanket and waited expectantly! We have nursed most of his life with him lying on his favorite blankie with me sidled up next to him. In fact as early as 6 months old he would recognize what was coming as I would lay the blanket down and then him, and then begin to lift my shirt and lie next to him. He would lay there with the biggest gummy grin and clap wildly, excited and waiting! I will miss his nursing clap.

 It is with such bitter sweetness that I arrive at this moment. I am hoping that writing my feelings can ease the sadness of the moment. I love the power of sustaining my baby with my body. There is such a satisfaction of being able to nourish each of my babies with myself. Life giving life! I love the gulping sounds of the newborn and the chubby hand of the 6 month old patting my breast as he sucks. I’ll miss the fish eye glance, eyes locking and grin mid suck that brings us both to giggles. I am grateful that I was able to do this for all 7 of my babies. I really have spent just over half of my 14 years as a mother nursing a baby!

It has come with a price and a huge time commitment! I still remember the rock solid pain of engorgement, the fever of mastitis, the cracked bloody nipples of some less than proficient beginners, the precious lost sleep, the stress of running home to relieve an overwhelmed husband or babysitter from a hungry baby or waiting too long and round wet circles on the front of my shirt announcing it to the world. There is nothing like a nursing baby to teach an overwhelmed mother how to schedule and multitask with a baby nursing at the breast, toddler sitting at her side listening to a storybook or at least pointing out pictures before turning the page, while interjecting homework helps for the kindergartener, while dinner cooks in the crockpot and boys race around the room alternating between playing and fighting. I couldn’t do this after coming home from the hospital with my first, but I’m pretty fluent in this type of scenario now!

The reality is I had 7 kids within a 12 year span. I have spent most of my motherhood feeling overwhelmed. I am not the mother I envisioned before my first baby was placed in my arms. The endless hours of fantasy play, peaceful picnics, serene walks, cuddled one-on-one time, night time story reading, baking culinary masterpieces, exploring the great outdoors, attentive conversations, blissful romps on the trampoline, wonderful wisdom imparted at just the right moment, soft whispered secrets, gentle butterfly kisses on the cheek, my talents being skillfully taught and absorbed by these miraculous beings who are a part of me……I live with a lot of regret.

I don’t regret having children, or the number of children, or even the rapidity in which we chose to have children. I live with the regret of not being the mother I thought I would be. Sometimes I let regret rob me of the satisfaction of the progress I have made; the joy of the mother that I am becoming!

It is true that I yell too much; it is true that I do this in spite of knowing how damaging it is to a child’s (or anyone’s) spirit. It is true that I have endless checklists whether written or mental, and I race around so focused on completing tasks that I am totally missing out on living; it is true that I do this even though I know my children and people around me are more important than any one thing I am doing. It is true I am a poor listener and I lecture too much; it is true that I do it even though I know the importance of listening and discovery learning. I could fill this page with examples of things I’m doing wrong even though I know there is a better way. I am often left feeling like an even bigger failure because I am once again failing at something I desire to do better. I am learning the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is truth confirmed to my soul telling me what I should and shouldn’t do. Changing my body and spirit to act accordingly is the process that brings me to wisdom. Wisdom is applying knowledge.

I started this year 2014 with one goal “No yelling!” I failed the first day and almost every day since then. I have wisely modified my goal, “Yell less”. I’m finding some success! And so it goes with all of my faults and flaws. I’m slowly improving and slowly evolving. I have discovered that my problem lies not so much in my vision of the “perfect mother”, but in my expectation to BE the perfect mother! I too often forget the process required in becoming. Vision is good. It is necessary even. In Proverbs 29:18 we learn, “where there is no vision a people perish.” Vision provides something to strive for. My motherhood vision problem is that my twenty something year old self didn’t know that sick-baby sleep deprivation is much different than self-inflicted, out all night with my friends, sleep deprivation. My sunnyside vision of motherhood was shaped without any personal experience with the darkside of motherhood to go along with it. It is ok to strive for those sunnyside ideals of motherhood, but I now acknowledge that I’m fighting through the trenches to get there.

A lot happens in my daily life that causes my voice to erupt. Nine people under one roof, 9 different personalities, 7 of them subordinate to me yet often they disobey me. There are deadlines to be met, pianos, trumpets and voices to be practiced (preferably not at the same time and how to avoid the fight of whose turn to go first), children to be listened to, sporting practices to be attended (usually with overlapping schedules), laundry to be washed, cuts to be bandaged, floors to be mopped, food to be cooked, hearts to healed, floors to be swept, children to be hugged, don’t even mention the homework, and despite my best effort the bathroom still smells like pee most of the time! I still hope that one day I can check “No Yelling” off my list!

Today as I close this chapter of my life as a nursing mother with a 14 year old daughter and five more miracles in between, I will not let my imperfections and failures rob me of the real successes and joys of my motherhood today.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Gratitude Day 7

This afternoon as I was desperately trying to keep Steele happy while I was paying bills and sorting out computer problems, I heard the front door open and my oldest walk in saying, "Mom, I'm home!" Steele heard her too and ran to the top of the stairs waiting for her to come up. She didn't even make it all the way up, but stopped almost at the top. I grabbed my phone and snapped this picture
Followed by this one

Today I am grateful for my bookends, my oldest and my youngest. I'm so thankful that they love each other and like each other! I sure love them more than words can express!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Gratitude Day 6

This boy has been so sick the past couple of days. It makes me grateful for how many days of the year that my kids are healthy! I'm glad that we got to spend extra time together today while everyone else went back to school, but next time we get time together I hope it isn't because he is sick. This boy is the absolutely sweetest kid in the world. Sometimes I worry about how he will fare in this cold harsh world. I hope he can stay sweet in spite of the meanness of this world!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Gratitude Day 5

I'm really excited that I have actually done this for 5 days now. I find myself thinking throughout the day about all that I have to be grateful for and then trying to decide what picture I want for each day. Focusing on gratitude is helping me realize how blessed I truly am.
Tonight I am grateful for Colt Timothy Abbott! This boy has more Mason in him than any of my other kids. Sometimes that is a good thing--not always, but today it is! He loves to play games. He is competitive. He is driven. He is determined. He is a child that is always thinking about what is next. He had me playing this game with him before church and again after church. I felt like a kid again for a hour or so. I loved games when I was growing up and I played them all the time. Now that I am an adult it seems like I never have time to play. I'm glad he insisted today. I love you Colt!

Gratitude Day 4

Today our family was assigned to clean the church. I'll admit that when I heard our name read from the pulpit my initial thought was a groan, but I caught myself quickly and reminded myself that it is a good thing and I'm on board with this and it will be a blessing. I told myself this because I had a vague memory of trying to reprogram this into my brain over the years. I don't love cleaning, but I love things to be clean! Right now, I can't even keep up with my own life and responsibilities so an added duty didn't automatically register as a joyous occasion. I'm so grateful that I didn't allow myself any time to dread or begrudge this opportunity. I had a wonderful time today! I love that many members of our ward showed up with smiles and great attitudes. We worked. We chatted. We taught our children how to clean. We showed them that this wonderful building we are blessed with doesn't magically clean itself. I hope it makes them treat it with more respect. I know it helps me remember. I was on vacuuming duty, even the youngest one there, Steele, went to work. I am grateful for church cleaning duty today!

Gratitude Day 3

This picture represent what I am grateful for today, Friday January 3, 2014, park days and old friends! Michelle Knapp (now Glass) and I were roomates in college the year after my mission and the year before I got married! It truly was the best year of my college days. I have priceless memories from our time together. I'm so grateful that we are still friends and that we make the effort to get together and that are children will grow up knowing each other! Her oldest is a couple weeks younger than my 5th. Her second is a year younger than my 6th and our babies pictured here are 3 weeks apart. I took quite a few pictures but our babies had minds of their own. It wasn't near as important to either of them that their moms get a great picture. I chose this one to represent my gratitude moment because it reminds me to keep it real! Life isn't always picture perfect.
Friendship is priceless, and I don't know what we would do if we didn't have parks to let our kids play in while we try and talk. Talking is what Michelle and I have always done best!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Gratitude Day 2

This afternoon I went to the temple with my mom and sister Lynette. The past few months have been really difficult for our family. I'm so grateful for the many times that the three of us have attended the temple together lately. It reminds me who I really am and all I can become! I'm grateful for the hope of eternal families!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Gratitude Day 1

After a few silent years, I have decided to try blogging again. This time with a twist. This is going to be a photo gratitude book of 2014. I have decided to reflect daily on all my blessings and post at least one picture a day to represent my blessings.

Today we took our first trip together as a family in one vehicle after 6 months of driving 2 trucks everywhere we went. A couple of days ago we bought a 2012 Mercedes Sprinter Van! I loved traveling to Mt. Charleston to the snow all together today. My Family + Sprinter = very happy momma today!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Death, be not proud (Holy Sonnet 10)
by John Donne

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou'art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy'or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


May 23, 2010, marked 36 years of life. That makes 18 years since I graduated from high school, left home, and started my life as an adult. It has been interesting for me to compare the first 18 years of my life with the second 18 years of my life.

It is amazing to think about all that was accomplished in the those first 18 years. I learned to sit, crawl, walk, talk, childhood explorations, elementary studies, followed by Jr. High School (it wasn't called "middle school" back in my day) and High School. Thrown along in there was forming lifelong friendships, first time crushes, learning to drive, character development, heartbreaks and disappointments interspersed with success and elation, boundary checks and searching for gospel truths.

The last 18 years include learning to live on my own, a mission to a foreign land, marriage to a wonderful man, graduation from a university, start of a career in teaching, the birth of my first child and my second and my third and my fourth and my fifth and my sixth. Along with all of that I learned to live with many different roommates, escape bad relationships, severe unhealthy friendships, become a wife and mother, put other people before myself, find value in all people--even those who I will never understand and more searching for gospel truths.

Not an exhaustive list; only scratches the surface of each 18 year time period, but it is enough for me to see how life builds upon itself. Each experience prepares for the next. I am learning that more important than each accomplishment that can be checked off my list are the lessons learned in the process. I continue to remind myself that life might by counted in days and years but living is done in the moment. This habitual "list checker" needs that as a frequent reminder.

Makes me curious about the next 18 years.......

My birthday fell on a Sunday which, unlike how I felt as a child, is the best day to have a birthday as an adult. I actually had my husband with me all day, and he and my children were so nice and considerate of making my day special. It was also fun to go to church and have my friends wish me a Happy Birthday. Funny how a simple rememberance that it is your birthday means so much as an adult--far from the child who is just counting presents:)

That evening, my wonderful father-in-law made me one of my absolute favorite dinners, Philly cheese steak sandwiches. I would say that everyone needs to try them except that it ruins other cheese steak sandwiches forever. So you might want to pass if you intend on enjoying other "inferior" versions.

Most impressive of all was that my husband made me my absolute favorite cake in the world, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Not just any old carrot cake, but he actually called my mom and got the "family recipe" . To top it all off he had Bryers Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, my absolute favorite ice cream of all time. (A sacrifice for him who always wants chocolate. It is the never ending debate in our house.)
I am so loved!!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

where has the summer gone.......

I don't even know where to start. I never intended to stop blogging; it just happened. Day after day, I just couldn't find a moment to sit down and type. The more days that past, the harder it became. Then this afternoon, I typed in my blog address, read and caught up on my family and friends' blogs, and decided that I wanted to write.

I have missed my blog and yet it has been a much needed break. I always love a good paradox: the thing I needed to do the most was the same thing that I needed a break from the most. Sometimes time and distance affords me what I lack in the moment to be able to record my life openly. I in no way mean to sound like catastrophic events have taken place in my life during the last 2 months that are undocumented on my blog. In fact we had some wonderful experiences in the last two months. I even hope to back track and include some of them (that may or may not happen).

I don't know that I have the words to describe some of the other parts of the last two months. Maybe they will emerge as I try to write. In a nut shell I have felt like someone had punched me in the stomach, threw me in a swift moving river, and forgot to give me a life preserver. A little dramatic? Yes. Has it really been that bad? I don't know; I'll let you know when I catch my breath and figure out where I am.

Savvy and Flint woke up from their naps and demanded some attention from me. Upon returning to the computer and rereading what I had wrote, I thought that maybe my entry sounds way too ominous and mysterious. The real truth is that not all in my life is mine to share. To protect the privacy of someone I love and respect, it makes it hard to openly share.

Monday, May 24, 2010


A new post is long overdue. So much is always happening, and I have a really hard time keeping up with life, and after I miss a few significant events then I feel overwhelmed and guilty, and I just want to give up and never blog again because it feels like too much work, and I'll never get it all done, and it will never be good enough, and I should just stop trying. (Yes, I know that that was a horribly long run on sentence, but it is representative of my run on life.) Ironically, today's post is about running.

May 1st 2010, I ran the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. I have always enjoyed the energy and fun at a race, but this was unlike any race that I have ever competed in. With about 20, 000 people in downtown Las Vegas- crowded would be an understated description. I couldn't help but think about my father-in-law during the race, and have irrational thoughts like "what if I could win the race and if by winning he could be automatically be cured." (Lest anyone reading this begins to think I'm crazy: let me clarify; I knew even while thinking it, that one thing had nothing to do with the other.) Dad has now completed his last round of chemo and is awaiting a mastectomy. It has been a hard road, and he is in no way out of the woods. It is just great to make it this far. I couldn't help but feel hopeful by all of the "survivors" participating in the race.

I completed the 5K (3.1 miles) in 23:07 min. and was surprised and excited when I later found out that I had placed 2nd out of the women ages 35-40 and I was 140th overall out of all participants. It was super fun receiving my award in the mail too! I know that sounds lame for a grown woman to be excited about a silly certificate, but I will admit that I love a little recognition now and again, and no one is giving me awards for how quickly I clean up a glass of spilled milk or how well I clean the bathroom or how slow I am to get upset when my children really try my patience or whether or not I make my bed every day or if I got all the bills paid on time or made a fabulous dinner or...... you get the idea.

Here are my wonderful children who woke up early to come watch their mom run. Thanks Jon and kids for your support!

Now fast forward to this past weekend May 22, 2010. I had the opportunity to go to Flagstaff AZ, and do a 10K mountain trail run. I had never been to Flagstaff before. It is such a beautiful place. I kept feeling like I was camping except with the most wonderful modern conveniences of home. I have to thank my friend Carrie for inviting me(standing to the right) and her Aunt Diane (standing to my left) for letting me stay with her family. I use the word "Aunt" with a smirk because Diane is 4 months younger than I am. I would tell you the names of the outer two women except that I can't remember them so I will just call them "Diane's friends".

I am a new convert of trail running. I will admit that it does take a little extra effort and concentration to dodge tree roots and maintain sure footing on the rocks, but you can't beat the beauty of the run. I have been getting over a sinus infection and bronchitis so my breathing was already compromised and then adding in the 7000ft. elevation with plenty of hills to run up, I'll admit that I had to walk a couple of times during the race when I started seeing stars from lack of oxygen. I completed the 6.2 miles in 54:02 minutes, and I was thrilled. I am excited to do another trail run sometime. The best part of the trip though was the company. I love Carrie (who also got me to run the St. George half marathon with her). I also loved getting to know Diane better.

As you can tell from this picture, I was not only sweaty after the race, but very dirty.

We continued our tradition of eating soup and salad at the Olive Garden followed up with a movie. We watched, Letters to Juliet, which was sweet and romantic and made me want to go to Italy.

I love running. I have always loved running, and I imagine that I always will. I will give a true confession though. There are always moments in every race- usually the middle-- when I think, " I hate this. It hurts and I'm never running another race!" And then I finish the race and think, "It feels so good to push myself, and I can't wait until the next one." Now I just need to figure out how to run fast enough to keep up with my life.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


After a decade of use in three different homes, our high chair found its way to the street to await the garbage truck. It was with mixed emotions that I left it on the curb.

A deep sigh of relief as I reentered the kitchen with a much less crowded eating area; a table for eight doesn't leave much extra space for a high chair. The relief is more than just more space. It is also the signal of new era in my life. I'm not naive enough to believe that means easier. It will be different challenges, but one that leaves behind the hardships of pregnancy, sleep deprivation, and cranky teethers.

A wave of sadness also swept in as it is just one more sign that I am done having babies. A reminder that time keeps moving forward and high chairs wear out and children grow older and I can't stop any of that. I am left wondering: am I enjoying life enough? Am I making the most of all I have? Am I doing enough? AM I GOOD ENOUGH?

The relief/sadness paradox is one that has nested into my life. I have always wondered how I would know when I was done having babies? Intellectually I always knew that there was a limit. I'm human; I'm aging, but my heart knows no limits and wants to welcome one more and one more and one more. Each child has brought such amazing dynamics to our family that it makes it hard not to want "one more" to join the party. In contemplating this decision I have struggled to find "the answer". It is only as life starts stacking up a little higher on the relief side and a little lower on the sadness side that I am beginning to embrace the reality that I am probably done having babies. Notice that even as I typed that I had to return and type in "probably". I refuse to give a definitive answer to this question just in case I wake up tomorrow and the stacks start shifting.

For now, I'm enjoying the extra space in my kitchen as I try to figure out each new day of my life!

side note: as I was typing this Savanna came by the computer looked at the screen and giggling, pointed to the picture, "look the timeout chair at the garbage". She was delighted to see it gone! I will admit that the last four months my baby has refused to sit in it anyway, and it has been used only as a discplining tool. Maybe it was a little premature? No, we have a million more places we can make into the "timeout spot".

And for anyone wondering I do believe in hand-me-downs and normally would have tried to find it a new home, but this chair was really hideous. The picture doesn't do its condition justice.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

hospital bars

This picture is representative of how Flint and I spent the day on Thursday (April 15, 201o). He had to have his tonsils and adenoids out and have new tubes put in his ears. His surgery was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. we were told to arrive by 7:00a.m. even though I had already registered and filled out all of the paperwork. . . .I arrived at 7:15 thinking that it was a happy compromise and would make the waiting seem a little less long. By 8:00 a.m.Flint was dressed in his Looney Toons hospital gown and ready to go. Actually he was ready to eat and kept asking "bite, pease". I tried to keep him busy with endless games of peekaboo and "where's your . . . . " and reading the one book I had thrown into the diaper bag "Guess how much I Love you". At first I was pleased with how distracted I kept him. He was still in a good mood when 9:00 a.m. hit and I was sure we would see the Dr. any moment. Then we started making circles around the little cubicles of patients waiting that turned into a wagon ride, followed up with lots more peek a boo and "give me five, on the side, break the pickle, tickle, tickle" Where did that last game came from? Must have been buried deep from somewhere in my youth. It turned out to be Flint's favorite throughout our hospital stay. As the minutes passed I became desperate for ideas to entertain and many songs and silly things seemed to keep popping out of my mouth. In all Two and half hours passed before the Dr. and anesthesiologist finally emerged and apologized for the wait. Unforeseen complications during the previous surgery. All I could think was as hard as it was for me to entertain my hungry, thirsty little boy it must have been a thousand times worse for the parents sitting in the waiting room while their child's surgery extended 2 1/2 hours past the scheduled time.
We had to stay over night for a "23 hour" observation because of his age. In a way it felt like a bit of a vacation for me. I had plenty of reading time when Flint was sleeping. In fact I read almost the entire book for book club this week, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It was a good book. I finished the last few pages Friday afternoon during Flint's nap. It was so nice to have only "one" kid to meet the needs of. No after school craziness with homework frenzy and dinner complaints. No agonizing bedtime routine. I was feeling pretty lucky to have this wonderful one on one time with Flint. I had endless channels and movies to choose from on the T.V. Flint was surprisingly happy in spite of the anesthesia and pain of surgery. I just had to hold him and feed him Popsicles and Gatorade and make sure that his blankie and puppy were picked up every time he dropped them. As well as the Duckie and Goose he acquired during his stay.
I had a friend bring me a Cafe Rio salad to share that evening and that was the beginning of the end of my hospital vacation. Flint wanted to eat. He begged. He cried. He grabbed and in the end I gave in. He had tortilla and beans and pork and even tried the lettuce but spit that back out after a few moments. All of this was after the nurse had expressly said, "absolutely no food until tomorrow." She wouldn't even let me give him applesauce. He was so hungry and quite honestly so was I. So I had sympathy and shared my dinner with him. I did put my foot down when he tried to eat the chips. From that time on the rest of the hospital stay Flint can be characterized by one word, "unreasonable". He wouldn't go to sleep until 11:00p.m. and then of course the nurse had to come in and check on him and woke him up at 1:00a.m. and the true horror settled in. He wanted me to hold me only if I stood and I had to keep all three of his animals from falling and he had to have his blankie wrapped half way around him with the other half clasped in his hand. Meanwhile I had try to keep all the wires and tubing from coming unplugged or getting tangled up so bad we couldn't move. I kept getting whacked in the head with his book and he couldn't get comfortable and was fidgety and I was tired and I just wanted to lie down, or just even sit down, but every time I tried he ended up in hysterics. After awhile I gave up on trying to get him back to sleep and turned the T.V. on. We were watching "Bolt", or I guess I was dozing while Flint was watching and this worked for about 20 min. Then he started in all over again with me having to stand and balance all of his stuff in the exact way that he wanted it. By 4:00a.m. I was ready to loose my mind because now nothing was soothing him. The truth was he was overly tired and just needed to go to sleep, but was so far past the point of tired that he was crazy. I just wanted to go home. I knew if I could just put him in his own bed with all of his stuff and shut the door he would cry for a couple of minutes and then just go to sleep. Finally around 4:15 a.m. he let me just sit him in the chair with all of his stuff perfectly arranged and while sitting perfectly upright, he started to fall asleep when in enters the nurse. She couldn't understand why he was sitting in the chair, "doesn't he sleep in the crib at home?" she asked. "yes" I replied as calmly as I could, "but he doesn't like this crib and he just screams when I put him in it because he can see me and wants me to get him out."
"Oh well why don't you try rocking him to sleep?" she so helpfully suggested.
Ya, I was in no mood for parenting tips from some nurse who was the reason he woke up in the first place. I crankily said, "He didn't want to be held anymore. He just wants to sit here." She just stared at me for a moment and then went about her business to check his blood pressure (which he absolutely hated) and temperature and then make sure his i.v. was still in correctly and in the process knocked down his animals and messed up his blankie and he went into hysterics once again. We both breathed a sigh of relief when she left. By 5:00a.m. Flint had fallen asleep sitting upright in the chair and I could move him to his crib and finally lie back down on the "bench/couch" thing.
It felt like I had just fallen asleep when again their were two nurses in the room. I realized it must be after 7:00a.m. and it was shift change time. I rolled over and refused to talk to or acknowledge either of them and mercifully they managed checking Flint without waking him and he continued to sleep until after 8:00a.m.
I didn't wake up in the best mood, but when the nurse came in with discharge papers at 8:30a.m. that quickly perked me right up. 20 minutes later a sweet elderly woman was wheeling us to the curb. She was horrified that no one was there with a vehicle to pick us up. I explained my car was parked over there and we could walk. She felt that there was no way I could carry the baby and diaper bag and overnight bag and walk all that way. I assured her that we could, thanked her for help and nearly sprinted to the car before someone yanked us back inside the hospital prison!
So glad to be home!!!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

resolve still being challenged

I don't have pictures for these experiences, but the one would have caused the digestively sensitive readers to possible loose their lunch. So just use your imagination.

I have not given up on being the kind, patient, caring, loving, nurturing, calm mother that I want to be, but I had a few questionable moments yesterday. I will only mention the two most disturbing.

First, while I was cleaning up the kitchen after the hurry and get three kids out the door to school morning, I realized that I was hearing a lot of giggling down the hall from the two youngest kids. My first thought was, "I'm so glad they are getting along this morning. It will make my day so much easier!" I continued loading the dishwasher without much more thought. I was almost done wipping the counters when I realized that I was also hearing "splashing" and "swishing" with the giggling. Suddenly I was alarmed and rushed down the hall opened the bathroom door to be sprinkled with flying water. It took a moment to register what I was seeing. Savanna with toilet brush in hand was dipping it in the toilet, wildly flinging water as she quickly raised it to Flint's head and brushed his wet, blond curls. I screamed. I know there goes my no yelling goal.

There was an unplanned extra hour of work as I gave them both another bath (it hadn't even been an hour since their last one), and then scoured the bathroom from top to bottom and washed all the rugs and towels.

This next experience doesn't involve anything that would make you want to vomit, but the possible ending that might have happened makes me want to put a death grip on them and never let them out of my sight again.

It was about 2 in the afternoon. Colt was at preschool, and Flint had just woken up from his nap. Savanna and he were playing in the family room and I thought, "I still haven't made it to my scripture reading yet. I better hurry and go do it now because once the kids come home from school there is no chance I will be able to sneak it in, and if I wait until tonight I will fall asleep." So I start reading Jacob 5 (allegory of the olive tree--ya wouldn't be too easy to stay awake reading at night). I'm on verse 20 something when I realize the giggling and talking has completely stopped. "That's weird" I thought and then read another verse. Then I thought, "something's not right. I better go see what is wrong." I ran down the stairs and immediatley could see that they weren't in the family room or kitchen, I glance in the living room and my eyes scan the front door. It is safely locked and deadbolted. I immediately feel a little easier as I continue my search. I quickly checked the guest room and closet. Nothing. Then I see both of their "blankies" (which lately they are both inseperable from) laying in the middle of the hall and the bathroom door closed, but the light is on. As I fling open the door expecting the worst, I was shocked to find no one there. The laundry room door is open; the room is dark and no little kids. Now I'm feeling panicked. I open the garage door and find the light on and the garage door open I fly to the front yard. No kids in sight. I look up the street--nothing. I look back at the garage and notice Savvy's bike is gone. It only takes a minute to guess where she might have gone. I sprint barefooted to the end of my street and turn to see up in the distance a little pink helmett bobbing along with little blond curls toddling beside her. How thoughtful that she took the time to put her helmet on, even if it was unbuckled! Horror quickly turned to relief as I caught up to them and asked, "Savanna what are you doing?" She matter of factly stated, "riding my bike to Susy's house (Aunt Susana lives one street over).

I marvel time and time again at how hard this mothering thing is. Hard doesn't even begin to describe it. Consuming approaches it. I need to find the perfect word to hold all of the energy, emotion, and work that goes into this thing called motherhood. This that the world raises her eyebrows at, cocks her head and snidely replies, "oh, you don't work!" after asking about your employment.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

nighttime shenanigans

Here are few pictures to illustrate what I mean by nighttime "shenanigans". They are definitely not limited to any specific age, but definitely peak in severity and frequency from the moment my child leaves the crib (for me that is usually at 18 or 19 months because a new baby was always coming needing the crib accomodations) until at least 3 1/2. The shenanigans haven't skipped a single one of our children yet. . . . .Flint you are my last hope (no new baby on the way and he is keeping the crib as long as possible)! These pictures have all be taken this year. . . .thankfully not all on the same night. Although these pictures are of Savanna, they are only representative of how all of my children were at this age with their own set of idiosyncrasies.

This first picture is of Savanna on a night she decided she was sleeping in the garage. She dragged the beanbag out of her room, down the stairs and into the garage. I wasn't up for the battle that night and just watched her go thinking " She'll get scared and come back. She didn't. She actually slept out there. On any given night I can go into her room and find her in her closet or just in her room playing. A clean and tidy room can turn into a disaster in a matter of seconds with this child.

This is her bed. The toys change from day to day or week to week, but it is always full of toys. Even if I clear it out before tucking her in bed, this is how it looks when she comes and beggs me to "lay by me and scratch my back". (Really she wants her back tickled, but it doesn't matter how many times I explain the difference, she still says she wants her back "scratched".) I ask, "Where am I supposed to lie?" She so kindly moves one or two dolls and says, "Right here."

You might wonder why I care what she does in her room if she just stays and plays and leaves me alone. I agree. I wouldn't care if she didn't keep her sister awake, run in and out of her brothers' room, turn the water on in the bathroom after plugging the sink to cause a flood, and surprise me by standing at my bedside at 10:30 p.m. just as I doze off to sleep!
Here she is in all her fashion glory with her nighttime wardrobe changes. She never wakes up in the same clothes that I put her to bed in.

Let's just say nighttime in our home is not the model that other parents want to follow. Occasionally she and the other kids can be bribbed for good nighttime behavior, but it doesn't happen often enough.

dissolving resolve

After a spiritually uplifting weekend of listening to the general authorities and prophets counsel us and feeling refocused and ready to meet my challenges, I am sad to report I am already loosing the battle. It seemed like so many of the talks were about meeting the needs of the youth of the church, calling parents and leaders to step up and teach and love and nurture growing testimonies, to be more diligent in FHE, scripture study and prayer, to seek the Spirit for specific answers to problems. I found myself committed to being a better mother, more patient, kind, nurturing. I was really excited by the prospect of doing better.

Then the T.V. turned off at the end of conference and life resumed.

I tried to capture in picture form just a few of the moments that have tested my resolve and leave me questioning whether or not I can ever really be the mom I desire to be.

First off here is a picture of my boys' closet after I asked my five year old, Colt to "pick up" his room. Ya, I wasn't impressed. That IS a Sunday shirt buried in the shoe, shin guard, shoe rack, mess.

Along with the constant messes yesterday, I had Little Man (He has another ear infection/sinus infection per our doctor's visit yesterday. Yes, more time wasted at the doctor's office while trying to entertain three kids) who was particularly needy and discontent refusing to quench his thirst with anything other than his sister's mini tea cup! Any idea how many refills he needed before he was satisfied? TWENTY-TWO. Who has the time or patience for that? I guess I did after he chucked the first cup of water I gave him all over the floor and whined and pulled on my shirt demanding I fill up "the cup."

And last but certainly not least is my biggest nemesis of all, the bookshelf! Savvy and Flint find some kind of perverse, unmatched joy at throwing all of the books off of the bookshelf and doing a victory dance on top of them before settling in with a couple to read/rip to shreds.

This is my life: messes, disciplining, doctor's appointments, homework help, meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking, magical accounting, scrubbing toilets, vacuuming, mopping, dishes, and endless other dreaded cleaning chores.

I then have to remind myself that my life is also: kisses, hugs, six sets of beautiful eyes watching me, reading books, cuddling on the couch, whispering secrets, holding hands, listening to newly discovered life's mysteries, special notes left on my pillow by thoughtful children, bike rides, walks, exploring the desert behind our house, art projects, and playing "beauty shop", trains, and house. (Why is it more fun to be a kid and "play house" than to be an adult and "keep house".)
In spite of my frustrations and complaints, I know I'm blessed; I'm just convinced that the answer to my problem of being a better mom is to hire a house cleaner and a professional chef!!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

life continues

My blog has slumbered silently while everything else in my life swirls around me sucking my breath and leaving me empty and tired. So much has happened; so much continues to happen. I find myself composing blog entries in my head; what I would write if I could even sit and type for a few moments. I find it to be a coping mechanism. It takes the place of talking to myself in conversation form and even replaces the would be conversation with this friend or that friend if they were here for a chat or talking on the phone while folding the laundry, etc. As time passes and more and more of my life stacks up unwritten, I find it even harder to write. How do I pick from all of things bouncing around my head screaming to be heard; begging to be freed from the constant over-thinking, over-analyzing of my brain?

Life continues even when I want to hit the pause button and savor a particularly sweet moment. I can't hit the fast forward button and speed through the weighty trials and heartaches. The rewind button doesn't work either when I want to "take it back" or plead for "do overs". The play button has been pushed and life is in progress.

Yesterday, March 23, 2010 marks the passing of Thelma Abbott, ninety-five years old, nearly a century. I only enjoyed twelve of those years with this wonderful woman and yet it feels like so much more. My first introduction to Grandma was when Jon and I were dating. Driving in the Abbott driveway, I was sure to see her most days up in front of her house sweeping up the pine needles and leaves, pruning her rose bushes, rinsing out her dishes in the garden hose, picking up trash that thoughtless passersby discarded, left to blow in her yard. If not in the front of the house, then she would probably be found around back, raking the gravel where "the renters" had hurriedly pulled in or out leaving tire tread marks or watering her garden, or planting something new. Grandma was a worker. She worked and worked and worked. I have wonderful memories of Sunday Dinners at her house followed by a game of Aggravation or Rumikub. After Jon and I were married we had the opportunity of renting one of her basement apartments. We lived there for three plus years. During that time we visited daily. I loved listening to her stories and hearing about her life. She was a wonderful cook; we enjoyed exchanging recipes and sampling each others food. My maternal grandmother had died when I was 14. I had lived next door to her, and had been very close to her. I missed her terribly. Grandma Abbott didn't replace her, but she filled a void that I needed filled.

Her death was not unexpected. I knew it was coming. I thought I was prepared to say goodbye. I thought I would feel relief for her being able to shed her ninety-five year old body and let her spirit greet all of her loved ones who have gone on before. Instead, selfishly, I feel loss and sadness that I will no longer be able to visit with her, learn from her, or soak up her wisdom.

Death like birth is a bitter-sweet process, full of patience, waiting, pain, sorrow, joy, relief, and love. For one we gather and celebrate a new life just beginning; for the other we gather and celebrate the life that was lived. Grandma Abbott, thank you for the privilege I had to know you and love you and be loved by you.
note: the above pictures were taken on September 28, 2008

Monday, March 15, 2010

I'm a winner!!!

O.K. technically I am the runner-up so that means I am second place, but hey, I'm happy. When do I ever win anything. . . .o.k sometimes I'm lucky at random drawings, like at Kid's Club, but never do I win someting of merit.

I mention from time to time about how much I enjoy reading http://www.thechocolatechipwaffle.blogspot.com/. Terresa is an amazing, gritty, witty, descriptive writer, and I love the pictures she posts. She sponsored a "6 word memoir" contest and the winner was announced today.

(here were the rules copied from her blog)
If you had to condense your life into six words, what would you write?
Here are some of my own six word memoirs {a few are reposted from my archives}:

Met myself in writing, Uruguay, homebirthing.

Motherhood cracked open life, my heart.

Melting chocolate, wiping faces, all poetry.

Homebirthed twins, sixteen pounds of love.

Count 'em, each memoir has six words. Kind of like haiku but easier. And, like Dove peanut butter chocolate eggs, it's hard to stop at just one.

I like this exercise because it nudges you to condense your full-to-bursting-life into a couple of distilled words. And it makes you sweat a little. And it's good fun. Kind of like poetry itself.

Here is the winning entry:

The Damsel In DisDress said...
Reluctantly surrendered life; it returned ten-fold

And here is my runner-up entry:

Rachelle said...
Motherhood: silent applause of unknown fame.

This was a fun contest. . . . .and I even get some chocolate out of it. Thanks Terresa!!!

Check out my sister's photography blog

Not just because she is my sister, but because she does great work and is fun to work with, I want to let everyone know about her photo session giveaway. Her button in on my sidebar so just click and it will take you there, or you can go to http://www.photographybylynette.blogspot.com/.
I have been meaning to post this for a week, but with all the kids home and running a million different direction everyday, I never got it done. Hurry and post a comment because it ends tomorrow, the 16th!

Friday, March 5, 2010

10 signs my kids are on track break

in no particlar order. . . .
1- My blog is neglected

2-I have dark circles under my eyes (I don't get my nap with all the kids home--sometimes the babies don't either).

3-No time for facebook or friendly chit chats on the phone.

4- We spend lots of time at the park.

5-We clean everyday, but the house still gets progressively worse until the kids finally return to school.

6-I'm far too happy to see/talk to an adult.

7-"My, you have your hands full" is constantly ringing in my ears.

8- Kids might not make it out of their pj's on any given day.

9-Less "schedule" stress

10-Never know how many kids will be at my house at any given moment (a little more time for play dates!). This was shocking to a door to door salesman who stopped by this week and saw 10 kids playing behind me.

yard sale a success

Wow. . . . .is the only thing that comes to mind when I think about the succes of the yard sale. The day was forecasted to be pouring rain, but the heaven waited until noon to release the water works. So between 7:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. we raised a over $2500 through the kind donations of so many. (Keep in mind most things were being sold for .50 and $1). I meant to take a picture so I could post it, but I didn't. There was an insane amount of stuff. When it was all over we called the Desert Industries out with a truck to pick up everything that wasn't sold. Hopefully the donated items will continue to bless the lives of those who end up with them.

I don't have the words to thank the Tanner's for hosting this event, nor can I adequately thank te countless others who helped in so many ways.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

save the date Feb. 27th, 2010

Very kind friends of ours, Mont and Michelle Tanner, offered to host a community wide garage sale with all proceeds going directly to the "Garth Abbott-Cancer Fund".
I am including here part of Michelle's note:

I will do the garage sale on Feb. 27, 2010. That would give us a good month to collect items that people would want to donate. I am willing to come to any one's home to pick up items. All proceeds will go directly to the "Garth Abbott Cancer Fund". It will be from 6:00 am to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday only. If weather is a factor, we will move it up to the following weekend of March 6th. My address is 639 Foxhall road (cross streets of College and Paradise Hills in Henderson NV) and my phone number (702)-525-5512, or 702-434-4411. If anyone wants to donate, they have plenty of time to do some spring cleaning and help out the cause. The more we get the better! All things not sold, can either be held for another garage sale, given back to the donor (only if specifically marked, because I will get confused) or taken to the DI (Deseret Industries for anyone not familiar with that acronym).

Help spread the word so that we can make this a success!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

a decade

A decade. Ten years ago tonight I gave birth to my beautiful Josephine; a baby girl was born and my journey in motherhood commenced. Happy Birthday to Josie and Happy Birth Day to me.

The moment captured in the top picture is ingrained in my mind in a way different than any other picture to date. It was the moment I was born a mother. I had 9 months to dream about it, read about it, and prepare for it, but this is the moment she was placed in arms for the first time. Somewhere in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I remember wanting to turn back, take back everything that had brought me to that moment. It hurt; I was scared. I felt guilty for feeling that way, but it was more intense than anyone's birthing story I had ever heard, more than any book about birthing I had read, and was definitely more than portrayed in the movies. Then they lost her heart rate, and the nurse began telling me to breath, and she stuck an oxygen mask over my face. My husband joined in with the nurse telling, "just breathe, breathe, breathe," and I ripped the mask off and said, "I am breathing!" (Those are the first and last birthing instructions ever uttered by my husband.) Things were intense for a few minutes as the room filled with the doctor and more nurses. When Josie was born she had the cord wrapped around her neck a few times cutting off her oxygen supply, which caused the drop in the heart rate. She was not placed immediately on my chest after birth, still connected, the way my subsequent children were. I didn't realize until later births just how scary the first birth was. She was blue and didn't cry immediately, but after a little work she did and when they had her all checked out and cleaned up, they placed her in my arms for the first time. We looked at each other eye to eye, and my life forever changed. In that moment I saw into her soul and knew that I had a herioc feat ahead as I figured out how to do it. How to be a "mother".

The second picture was taken a little after 6:00p.m. tonight. Only now do I realize that makes it exactly 10 years from her birth. She was born at 6:08 p.m. on a rainy Sunday evening.

A decade is a long time to figure things out. I have learned a lot. I have failed many times; those failures hurt. I have suceeded in many ways; my heart soars with each success. Josie is my first born; she was with me from the start of my motherhood journey. In no way do I love her more than my other children. My love for each child is infinite. I do feel a little extra guilt that she has paid the price more often and more heavily as I have tried to figure it all out. Not just becuase she is the first, but also because she is too much like me; unfortunately, she inherited many of my negative qualities that I have had 35 years to try and overcome. When I see them mirrored back to me- as a three year old, eight year old, or now ten year old-- I have often been less than compassionate. Somehow seeing my faults in the mirror of my child is a painful reminder of all that I have tried, am trying, and will continue to try and change. I irrationally expect her to listen to me and "fix" these things the same way I am. Maybe this is God's way of teaching me charity; Charity for her and charity for me. I think that in order to have unconditional love, it must somehow include it for myself. Maybe sendng me Josie is God's way of helping me learn to love myself. I love her so much. She has so many wonderful qualities. I will save those qualities for a post that focuses solely on her.

Thank you Josie for all that you are, for all that you teach me, and for being my daughter. I love you.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

tender mercies

My mother in law called this morning and asked if I could arrange things so we could go to lunch and maybe the bookstore afterward to browse around. I have been married 11 1/2 years and we have never done that before today-- we have been missing out. I'm sure that part of this invite comes after years of begrudging my husband's numerous "business" lunches and "father/brother get togethers" while I sit at home eating PB&honey with the kids. Really I try not to be petty, but I'll admit this one thing has gotten under my skin quite a few times over the years. I think it must be because I love food and talking so much-- which is what "going to lunch" entails.

12:30 p.m. couldn't come fast enough as I tried to finish up laundry and make lunch for the kids and get Colt ready for preschool and Savvy and Flint down for naps so Jon could work from home while I was gone without interruption. . . . perfectly planned! So of course that isn't how things worked out. In the middle of trying to make lunch our mortgage company called; my heart sunk. These are never enjoyable calls, but I had been expecting a call. We have been in the process of trying to get a loan modification done. We had a forbearance agreement with Chase that ended on December 23, 2009. This enabled us to make drastically reduced mortgage payments while hoping that our income would improve and then we could qualify for a modification. On Dec. 29, 2009 we did a over the phone reevaluation and the Chase representative explained that we still did not make enough to qualify but it would take about 60 days until someone would be assigned our case and then at that time the underwriter would request updated information about our finances (in the hopes that we would then be bringing in enough money)and work on the modification from there. So when the caller i.d. told me Chase Bank was calling that was what I figured it was about. I didn't have time to deal with it at that moment while trying to feed kids and get them asleep so I could leave, but it iwas a little too important not to so I picked up.

The nightmare began. "No, you are in collections. No, the record indicates that you do not qualify. No, you need to proceed with a short sale or a foreclosure. I'm sorry I can transfer you to another Department." Three transfers to different departments and one disconnection and call back later I discovered that the representative on Dec. 29th didn't do what she said, and we had been kicked out of the homeowners assistance program and were in collections ready to start foreclosure!

Sick. My worst nightmare in broad daylight! So many thoughts swirled through my mind. All the things that have been weighing on me over the past 18 months. I don't want to move. I don't want to leave the house that has my kitchen painted just the way I want it. Jon did it for my birthday two years ago. The place where I have brought home my last two babies. The only nursery that ever got decorated, one time out of six kids. (I couldn't even redecorate when I had a new baby boy to bring home. He still sleeps in a beautiful purple room). The Christmases and the Birthdays and all the holidays that have been celebrated within these walls. The feelings of loss and failure. The pictures hanging on the walls claiming this home to be ours. The ceiling fans that we finally have hung in most of the rooms. The basketball court in the backyard(It somehow made up for the one my Dad had always promised me growing up, but never materialized. The one Josie used to brag to all of her classmates about when they were telling her about the swimming pools being dug in their backyards). The apricot tree we planted in the front yard along with rose bushes and pomegranate tree and lemon tree. The unfinished planters in the backyard for our future garden. The hopes and dreams for future days and events that are supposed to be spent, here, on our street, in our neighborhood with all the people we love.

I was feeling a little emotional--o.k. I was crying when Jon walked in and I began to tell him all that I had just learned. With calm grace, he just said, "We don't need to worry about the future and things we can't control. It will work out the way that it should, the way that is best for us." Even as he said it, I knew the truth of it in my heart, but my head wouldn't shut up.

"Knock Knock knock" and in walks a tender mercy from the Lord. Mom didn't have a clue what had just happened. When she called out of the blue this morning, she definitely didn't know that this news would be dropped today. God knew. He didn't take away my burden, but he definitely eased it that I could bear it. Mom and I went to lunch at Pei Wei and I finally got to try the "spicy chicken salad" that so many of my running buddies talk about. It was delicious. We talked and we laughed and I got to eat uninterrupted. Afterward we browsed the book store and mom kindly bought me a book at her insistance. It was a wonderful afternoon. The weather was perfect. The sun was shining. The future looked bright even with some heavy dark days looming over my head in the near future. I can't say that I didn't think about it while we were out. I did. I did, in between bites of salad and shifts in conversation. I thought about it in peices, never with the whole weight bearing down. I could feel my mother-in-law's love for me, and more importantly I could feel God's love for me. I felt him say, "I knew today would be tough. I hope this helps." It did.

We won't be out on the street tomorrow. We still have time, and I still have hope that are income can change and that a modification can be done. If not I hope I can remember that a house doesn't make a home. If we must leave this house, the paint and plants and every "thing" will be left behind, but we can take the "home" we have created!

Can my friends kindly remind me of this in the coming months? I'm sure I will have many emotional days about this subject in my future.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Did you know that this week is the official "random acts of kindness" week? I didn't until I saw it on Fox 5 news last night.

Kindness can go a long long way in making a hard day a little better. I tried to look around today at how many kind things are being done and how they make me feel.

First off I am thankful for so many kind good friends and loved ones who are willing to commiserate when needed, help when needed, point out the good when needed, and offer endless examples of kind-hearted service.

I took Flint to his doctor's appointment this morning which was way out in the North West at 9:00 a.m. I had a kind friend keep my school age kids and preschooler. (and others who offered to help and still others who would have offered to help if they knew I needed help.) My sister kept Savanna, and Flint and I got to explore the vast unknown world of Summerlin. The office staff was friendly. . . .more than friendly. I would say they were extremely efficient and nice at the same time (usually it is one or the other). We had seen the doctor and were ready to leave before I had even finished the paper work. . . . That's a totally new experience for me.

The good news is Flint got in to see an immunologist/allergist. The bad news is he is still sick after 5 more days on Zithomax. He now has been prescribed 21 more days of Omnicef and they sent us to Quest Diagnostics for the vampires to suck out 5 vials of blood.

There we were greeted with kind smiling friendly phlebotomists (I don't know how to spell that but it is the people who take blood)who thought his "white curly hair" was so cute. Even the people in the waiting room were friendly as Savanna spilled TWO cups of water and Flint wanted to be best friends with anyone who would smile at him-- even the lady whose purse narrowly escaped the rummaging of a 19 month old didn't seem phased as I wisked it away and handed it to her.

I have decided that there is nothing better than being treated kindly. I realize that most of these acts were not "random" acts of kindness but rather kindness from friends or family or people just doing there job; nonetheless, it has inspired me to be kinder. . . .not just to the people in my family and circle of friends, but I want to go out of my way to be nice to everyone.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

my valentine

This is the valentine I was handed tonight by my four-year-old son Colt. Isn't it precious. For anyone who can't read it it says: I lov m mom lov m dad I love m
Translation: I love my mom. I love my dad. I love me.

The sweetest part of all is that he taped two "Toy Story" pieces of chocolate from the "Toy Story" valentine box of chocolates that I had given him earlier today.

From a kid who loves food and chocolate, it is like giving the widow's mite.
Thanks Colt!

Stole Grandpa's heart. . . .and hat!

So here is Dad in his bald glory. Monday, last week, Dad called right at nap time and asked if Savanna was up or already asleep. She wasn't asleep yet so he drove out to see her. He hadn't seen her the day before on her birthday. I think having to stay away from his grandchildren is one of the hardest parts about chemo for Dad. He has always been a doting grandpa.

I remember way back when Josie was born; it was his second grandchild, but the first that lived in Las Vegas. Not only did we live in Las Vegas, but a hundred yards from his front gate was Grandma's basement apartment where Jon and I lived the first 3 1/2 years of our marriage. Everyday after Josie was born we were guaranteed a daily visit. Often he would stop by on his way home from work before he even went home. I always enjoyed his visits. That continued all the way until Josie was almost two and we bought our first house. . . .a mile down the road. Even then most days guaranteed a visit. He came to the hospital to greet each of our six kids when they were born. Even now that we are a little further away out here in Henderson, he often drives out just to get a "kid fix". At family gatherings he is always asking to hold the babies and toddlers and thoroughly enjoys them until they are poopy or fussy and then he is happy to pass that one off and hold another. With 18 grand kids, one is always available.

It has been hard on him to keep his distance from the kids since he has started chemotherapy. With chemo the immune system is compromised, and we don't want to risk exposing him to illness. Unfortunately my kids have had plenty of that lately and are missing Grandpa. Last Monday he couldn't help himself. He wanted to see Savanna, so at his request, I let her get out of bed to wait downstairs for Grandpa to come. He walked in bearing gifts-- M&M's for the kids-- and Savanna ran right to him. He took off his hat and she saw his bald head for the first time. She hesitated a moment just staring at him and then ran and gave him a "hug abyss" (see earlier post if you don't know what that is.) Grandpa came equipped with Clorox wipes, and I had sanitized her before he got there. It was a sweet moment to see the joy on both of their faces. I hope is around for a long time. Not just because Jon and I enjoy his company and counsel, but because my kids love him so much!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

dark day. . . .and today was finally sunny

I'll probably regret writing this in the morning, but that is still a few hours away and right now, I just need to unload my thoughts and feelings.

Today was a dark day. I started with great hopes at finding some answers and help for my sick baby.

Flint has been struggling with ear infections and now sinus infections for a year now. Last June we had tubes put in his ears and his adenoids removed. After the surgery we still had a faucet nose and the ENT suggested that we look into allergy testing. . . . . We never did.

I know that maybe that makes me a bad parent. I am feeling that way even more as things have gotten worse for him. Today culminated in the lowest moment of my life standing in a doctor's office being denied help because they wouldn't take medicaid. (Didn't anyone think to tell me that before I filled out 16 pages of medical history?) Worse yet when I asked if I could do cash pay I was informed that the doctor wouldn't see him unless Flint had a contracted insurance. I barely made it to my car before the dam burst.

As I sat there sobbing with my baby staring at me in bewilderment all I could think was, "How did I end up here? How is this my life?"

The answer is simple: one day at a time!

This chapter in my life story really begins a couple of months after Flint was born. In Sept. 2008 September 11th to be exact. My husband's engineering company called him in after many previous layoffs to inform him that they were cutting his salary in half. Not a typo-- half. From that moment on we began weighing options and seeking opportunities. After looking at the job market for civil engineering we saw that hope was bleak, nonexistent. Nonetheless he started sending out his resume. He even considered learning pest control and doing that to supplement. I was way less than enthusiastic! By the end of October my husband was jobless, but with much fasting and prayer we felt that the best thing to do was start our own Engineering Company. Battle Born Engineering was born! We cashed out our 401K (remember what the stock market was like in the Fall of '08? Yeah we took a serious hit, but it was, we felt, the best option). With hope and excitement we pushed forward each day. By May all of our savings were gone and "Abbott Pest Control" was born. We feel great promise in the future for both of these businesses, but right now in the present, they haven't been covering the bills. By September there was absolutely no money left and we could no longer pay the premiums for the health insurance policy that we had taken out when Jon lost his job. It was a long slide down the mountain until we found ourselves in a miserable pit with not many options (unless we wanted to move to another state which we don't). This lead to the second hardest day of my life. . . .filing for medicaid and food stamps. Even now, typing this and seeing those words bring a sick, constricting knot to my throat. Words like "welfare" and "food stamps" and "medicaid" didn't apply to me. See, I work hard, I've always worked hard, and I'm educated and I am fiscally responsible and. . . . the reasons just stacked up, but reality stacked up higher. We were responsible for six children and they deserved better than my pride or my husband's pride. I waited my turn in the welfare line. I bore every judgement I had ever passed on the subject and every judgement that I had ever heard passed on the subject by anyone I had ever heard in my life time. It weighed heavy. Breathing became a chore, a mental effort. After I filled out the application, I signed my name and looked at my phone for the date, September 11th--coincidence? irony? poetic justice?

After submitting financial records and bank statement we were immediately issued an "ebit card" much like a debit card, only it can only be used to buy food, and it is paid for by all the hard working people in their weekly paycheck deductions. A hard pill to swallow and yet it put food on my table and food in my children's tummies and no longer was I obsessing about how to make a meal stretch or why do the kid's teachers' always need snack donations and why do they need to have a school party and why do I begrudge the spilled cup of milk on the floor?

Medicaid took longer to approve but finally in November the kids were covered. I took Flint into the doctor because he still had his constant running nose and wasn't sleeping well. The doctor prescribed Singulair (allergy medicine). By December things definitely seemed worse but it was such a busy time and every day I hoped he would be better. By the 26th of December he had a golf ball hanging out the right side of his neck. We took him to urgent care. He was diagnosed with a lymphatic infection and a sinus infection. They gave him a shot of Rocephin and 14 days of Omnicef. Which of course puts us in the middle of January (the heart of the auction, a preoccupied mother who hopes every day he will be better--and some days he seemed to be, but the glands remained swollen and he still had a green nose.) So By the end of January we took him back to the doctor and he was given Augmentin and they sent him for blood tests to rule out Lymphoma--which they did. At the end of that, he still wasn't better and now had an ear infection on top of the sinus infection so he has been given Rocephin shots everyday this week-gotta love taking a sick toddler to the "sick waiting room" -- while waiting to get into a allergist/immunologist. We finally had the appointment for 9:00 a.m. this morning which takes me back to where I began: the parking lot of the immunologist crying wondering how this could be happening??

I don't know why I am posting this information except that maybe in the hope of explaining to the world . . . .o.k. maybe just myself how I could be in this situation. I know that we are not the first people to struggle financially (the four hour wait with three impatient children in the welfare line was proof of that). I know that everyone has personal struggles and trials. I'm sure that some who will read this might have a million judgements and suggestions and might even feel that we have handled our resources and options poorly. Maybe we have. Maybe we should have sought work out of state sooner. Maybe we should have not had six kids. Maybe we should have had more savings. Maybe we should have. . . . .insert your own judgement here. I don't claim to have all the answers. In fact with each passing day I find more questions than answers.

The one thing I do know is that my heart broke today with a sick baby whose pediatrician doesn't know why the antibiotics aren't working, a specialist who can't see him without contracted insurance, and a mom and dad who despite their personal best efforts aren't doing enough to help him. At first I was angry. Angry at the doctor. Angry at the pediatrician's office staff making the appointment when they knew he had medicaid, angry at lost jobs, angry at no more savings, angry that my husband chose to be a civil engineer--couldn't he have chosen a more profitable profession? angry that I chose to stay home and raise my children and no longer was teaching with health benefits, angry that my baby was sick, ANGRY!!!! The anger soon melted away and was replaced with deep sorrow. Sorrow that I can't fix EVERYTHING!

My baby is still sick. We still don't have any answers. We still are waiting to have an appointment with an immunologist who will take medicaid. We still haven't solved our personal financial problems, but I have hope that the dawning of a new day tomorrow can bring hope and answers and help.

P.S. I did learn one important lesson today. Don't cry while talking on a cell phone. The tears got inside my phone and ruined it. (I almost see the humor in this. I'll probably even laugh about it tomorrow).

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

joy in giving

TWO "WOSAS" (Rosas)

Josie and Grandma spent Saturday afternoon making a "Rosa" for Savanna (and repairing Josie's Rosa's eyes). Coming home that evening Josie was bubbly and excited. She couldn't wait for the next morning when Savvy's birthday would dawn and she could bestow her gift. She has talked about this doll she was going to make Savanna for almost a year now. Anticipation was had her up early Sunday morning! She was extra helpful in getting heself ready for church so that Savvy could open her presents. When the moment came, I don't know who was more excited Josie or Savvy.

Judge for yourself!

Observed through my daughters, I am reminded again about the joy of giving. There is nothing better than finding the perfect gift to give to someone you love.
I think one of the best gifts I have ever surprised my husband with was Father's Day after our first son was born. Jon loves guns. I don't know much about guns and quite honestly, I am a little bit afraid of them; however, I wanted to get him "the perfect gift". I had to go way beyond my comfort zone and go explore gun shops. Once I found what I thought I wanted or rather what I thought my husband wanted, I had my father-in-law come down and confirm that it was a good deal and what my husband wanted. I will never forget how long it took for Sunday to come. Jon is hard to surprise. He is eternally optimistic and is always "hoping" for wonderful things. In fact it is one of his many qualities that I love so much. It does complicate birthdays and Christmas and other holidays because his hopes and dreams always seem to exceed what I actually do or give. I tend to be a little bit under dramatic, very conservative and practical to a fault. The gun gift was one of the few times in our marriage that I blew him away with a present. He reminded me of a little kid on Christmas morning, cheshire cat grin, hands clasped under his chin, and eyes dancing with excitement.
What "perfect gift" have you given?