Friday, March 31, 2017

A Life of Joy and Service

Today marks 10 years since my dear mom passed away.  At times, I still miss her so much it literally makes my heart ache.  But most of the time, although I miss her, the actual pain of it is dulled.  When I think of her, it is almost always with happiness and not hurt.  Today she has been on my mind since the moment I woke up to a text from my older sister, to myself and my younger sister, with the simple words, "Thinking of Mom today."  That's all she needed to say.  We all knew the love, the respect, the remembrance, the heaviness and even the pain those words carried.

I've been thinking of Mom today too.  And all my thoughts, all the memories that have been coming to mind revolve around two values that my mom held in excess: joy and service.

Anyone who knew my mom, knew she liked to party and laugh.  She organized and hosted more parties than I can count.  Every Sunday she had "family dinner" which consisted of hosting many different friends through the years, sometimes up to 30-40 people.  During those dinners we talked, played games and laughed until late into the night.  When my mom laughed, she did so wholeheartedly. Many people, even today, have expressed to me how much they miss that boisterous laugh.  She laughed hysterically at anyone who fell down; watching her view America's Funniest Home Videos was funnier than watching the actual show.  I once asked her if she would laugh if it was she who fell.  She confessed that she wasn't sure being in such poor health, a fall would probably be quite painful.  A few days later, as we were crossing an icy parking lot, she slipped and fell underneath a car stopped at a stop sign.  I instantly was concerned, as was the woman in the car, looking at me wide-eyed. I scrambled after my mother, asking and trying to check if she was okay.  She did not answer my inquiries for a long time.  As I was about to go for help, I heard her let out a gasp for air that continued into loud, uncontrollable laugh.  She could not respond because she was laughing too hard!  To my embarrassment, she also could not get out from under the car for several minutes because she was laughing too hard!  She liked to play around too.  As an adult, she got in a water fight with her best friend Betty inside our home, soaked everything.  In college I worked at a scrapbook shop.  She would happily come along with me on my shifts to scrapbook and talk with all the patrons for hours and then we'd go out to dinner afterward, closing down the restaurant.  I spent night after night, sleepily playing Boggle with my insomniac mother until I could no longer keep my eyes open.  I remember her often saying, "Just one more game."  She found joy in life; she made joy in life.

My mom was also a woman of great service!  She was one of the most generous people I know.  Financially, she would go without, or take less, in order to provide more for others.  She had a lot of physical ailments, which many would use as an excuse to hold back, but she found ways to serve that she could do despite her unable body. She offered to scrapbook for anyone she knew.  She'd take their piles and piles of pictures and lovingly compile them into books.  She bought the supplies and donated her time.  She scrapbooked more weddings of friends than I could keep track.  When a ward member's washing machine broke, she offered to wash and fold their families laundry and did so for months until they could afford a new machine.  When there were calls to be make for Relief Society, the Relief Society President knew Mom would make them for her.  She also volunteered to write letters monthly to many women in the ward that did not want physical visits from Visiting Teachers.  When I would say it was nice of her to do these things, she would always respond that she had the time, and she could physically do these things, so she did so happily.

Personally, I think these traits are pretty fabulous and admirable.  Obviously, my mother was a big influence on who I am and what I do with my life.  Anyone who knows me knows I also like to have fun!  This trait was passed down to me and I have embraced it.  I love to plan and host parties.  I love to socialize and to go out with family and friends.  I love to play games and to laugh.  I hope and pray that I am also known as a woman of service.  I try to keep the example of my mother's service as a guide for my life.  I want to be a help to others.  I want to show the love and care that I have for my friends and family in a tangible way.  Selflessness and charity are driving forces in my life.  I hope and pray that if someone is in need, they would know that I would happily and joyfully be there to help them.  As I have reflected upon memories of Mom today, I can see that she was all about enjoying life, and making life enjoyable for others.  Personally, I can't think of a much better way to live!  I am grateful everyday for the time I had with her and for her lasting influence.

Tonight as I was taking flowers to the mausoleum where she lies, I said to Greg that I am so sad she never got to meet our children, and how much I know she would love them,  He gently assured me that she knows our children and that she does love them.  I felt a comforting feeling telling me this was true.  I hope that through the stories I tell them and my actions as I follow her example of enjoying life and bringing joy to others, they too can know my mom and love her.


Spring Break in St. George

We spent our Spring Break this year in sunny, warm and beautiful St. George.  With Violet in tow, we wanted a vacation that was a short drive and with low key activities.  St. George was for the win!

Our first night, we just settled in and enjoyed the hotel's indoor pool and hot tub.  The hotel also had indoor play equipment with a ball pit and an outdoor pool and park equipment that we took advantage of during our stay. 

The first day we went to Zion's National Park.  We spent the whole day there, and wished we'd scheduled even more time.  It is gorgeous!  We hike the 2 milk Riverside Walk to the opening of the Narrows.  It was a beautifully scenic and easy hike, perfect for our family of mostly small children. There were so many friendly squirrels along the trail.  Our kids loved them, except for Avonlea; she was terrified of them.  Violet especially loved the hike and happily squawked and kicked the whole time.  Everyone we came across on the trail smiled and laughed at her excitement.

On our second day we spent the morning at the St. George Temple Visitor's Center.  We watched a movie and felt the spirit, leaned about the construction of the temple and walked the grounds.  That afternoon we spent at the children's museum and nearby splash pad.

Our final day, and last stop on our way out, was at Thunder Junction All Abilities Park.  The kids declared it to me the best park they'd ever been to.  It was pretty awesome!  We played for hours and took a train ride around the park.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Youth Basketball

Palmer and Brody ended their season of basketball on the 16th of the month.  This was Palmer's second time playing (he also played last November-December) and Brody's first time.  They both really enjoy basketball, much more than soccer.  I think we might have found their sport.

They both improved a lot over the six weeks!  Palmer was one of the stars of the team by the last few games, making many shots.  Brody had a slower start, and pretty much spent the time learning to dribble and pass the ball.  However, his progress in that department was impressive.  I'm very proud of my little basketball players and all their effort this season!  Greg and I have really enjoyed watching them play and take pride in their skills.

Dentists, Braces and Retainers

A couple weeks ago Palmer and Brody had their check up with the dentist.  The dentist discovered that one of Brody's permanent teeth was very loose.  He was very concerned and made an emergency appointment with a specialist right after our appointment.  I had all five kids with me, thinking it wouldn't be a big deal to take them to the quick check up appointment.  The follow up was made immediately after, so all of us went on to the next appointment, including a very hungry, cranky baby and the twins who were supposed to be going on to preschool.  I had to rearrange the carpool I was supposed to fulfill, and for some reason neither dentist office had warm water to make a bottle.  Needless to say, it was a crazy morning.  The second dentist was not quite as alarmed as the first, but did say Brody would need to get braces as soon as possible.  He has a very exaggerated cross bite, which was pushing on one of his lower front teeth, making it loose and unable to graft to the bone.

A few days later we met with an orthodontist.  Thankfully, he said we could correct the loose tooth with just a retainer.  It's a combination of three types of retainers, so it's quite a mouthful, and makes it difficult for Brody to talk, but still better than the pain and discomfort of braces on a seven year old.  He needs to wear it day and night, all the time unless eating for a few months.  He was able to pick the design and chose a rainbow colored retainer.  He is doing really well with wearing it.  Brody has some sensory processing issues. so I was worried about how he would handle the retainer.  He doesn't like it, but is dealing and getting used to it.

I know retainers are seen as nerdy, but I think he looks cute!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Seven Month Photo Shoot

This sweet ballerina outfit was a gift from Grandma Nancy.  It's size 3-6 months, and Violet finally fits into it at seven months.  She is such a petite little girl!  I love the first picture here because it's a move she does often right now, hiding her face behind her arm.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Seven Month Old Violet

Violet is seven months old.  I can hardly believe how quickly she is growing up.  She is such a happy girl and is so fun to have around.  She really loves Greg, myself and the kids, not so much anyone else.  She often cries when others even look at her. Although, I have noticed that her stranger danger anxiety isn't really present around children, which is interesting.  There is always some child playing around her or with her when I work in the daycare and she seems to enjoy them.  I just discovered her third tooth popped through yesterday.  She's been putting those few teeth to good use, eating everything which we eat, that she can.  She has also begun to prefer the bottle to nursing, which is just bizarre as in the past she has hated the bottle and formula!  She seems to be gaining weight well since taking to the bottle.  We've started the process of weaning her, which I'm a little sad about, but think it's for the best. This is what is going on with Violet at seven months old.

She has learned: to roll from her stomach to her back (she's had back to stomach for a while), to sit for a very short period of time and to wave

She likes: table food, her bouncer, being held, her family (she's really into Dad especially right now and will reach for him when I'm holding her sometimes), blowing raspberries, saucers, baby toys, rolling around on the floor, sitting up

She dislikes: being alone, losing her toy

Things she does that makes us smile/laugh: her very loud unfeminine laugh - sort of like a cackle, constant wiggling, how she has to sample a very small amount of her food at each meal before taking a real bite, big smiles and funny faces she makes when feeling her teeth with her tongue and lip