Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dear Wyatt,

How have you gotten so big?  How have you arrived at this momentous birthday?  How is it that I have another child turning 8 and getting baptized?  Man, I can't believe how proud I am of you.  Those are just a couple of the how's I've been thinking of.

I can't imagine life before you.  I really don't even try because each day since having children I have had so much more happiness.  In some ways you share the most special place in my heart with Daddy.  Although I don't have favorites each child claims a piece of me another can never claim.  The piece you claim has to do with how extraordinary you are.  So much like your dad.  So kind, considerate, loving, pleasing, without guile - just the best little man I've ever known.  You two could not be more alike if you tried.  And I love that my first born son is now the second greatest man I've ever known and I believe that someday you'll surpass your daddy to be the one of the greatest tied with your brothers of course. 

You are brilliant and I love to discuss things with you because I see your sponge brain trying to soak it all in.  Someday you'll be so smart, smarter than me, smarter than Dad and I love to watch it happening right before my eyes.  I love that you love school and your perfect attendance since your first day of Kindergarten makes you more excited than any good grade.  I love that every teacher you've ever had has oozed excitement about how much you love to learn. 

Today we celebrated your birthday, well I guess yesterday since I write in the wee hours of the morning of your birthday.  And all you wanted was to go to the temple and play around DC absorbing more of the culture and historical importance that exists there.  And that is what you are, a perfect mix of intelligence and spiritual belief.  I know you think you want to be the first missionary in China and if not there go to Japan, but I know that wherever you go, you'll be amazing- you know how to work hard.  And I love that at dinner tonight in preparation you practice using chopsticks picking up one piece of corn at a time. 

Could you be any more precious or special?  Probably not.  Thanks for existing.  Thanks for putting up with Dad and I as your parents.  Because we feel like the luckiest ones in the world.

Love, Mom

P.S.  Here are some of your memories of your b-day celebration and a special moment in your life lately - your yellow best testing and critique from your Sensei.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

It's a Labor of Love

Due to tradition and desire, I made these six stockings. They are the same style as Travis's mom made for all of her kids, and many if not all of the daughter and daughter-in-laws have carried it on. They are gorgeous, really they are. And they aren't hard really - numbered felt, sequins, beads and some basic stitching/sewing technique. But these things do take a ton of time. And since I never work on them until after Halloween, I finally finished them all just before Christmas this past year. Just two years after I bought them. Don't you love them? I do.  And the finished product our fireplace mantel.  Each of the kids picked their design and even that is telling as to my children's personalities. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Girly Noises

Bella this year has become very aware of the types of girls there are.  She has come home asking me if she is a girly girl or a tomboy? 

A couple of days after that she came home declaring she thought she was a bit of both.  I agree.
Likewise I would have classified myself the same way.  But alas apparently I am delusional.

Because while laying on the floor stretching the other day, I was informed by Travis, I love when you do that.  I asked, "Stretch?"  And he said, "No, make that girly noise."  Me "What?"  Travis "You make a little girly noise every time you stretch whether in the morning or whenever.  I just think it's cute.  It's one of the few super girly things you do."
This is the scathing look he received afterwards. For one, taking pictures of me stretching and, two, uttering inanities like the one above.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Because of You

I thought that I would marry late in life.  And when I had a family they would come much later too.  I thought I would be a "ball busting" career woman.  I thought I didn't need anyone to be complete.  I thought a lot of things. 

But on this day, 35 years ago, you changed all the things I unwittingly thought.  Because on July 11, 1999 I met you.  And I didn't need you to be complete, but I sure wanted you.  And I wanted to marry you immediately, even though I was 17.  I wanted to have a family shortly after that and I wanted my career to be a wife to you and a mother to our children. 

And so today I celebrate your life.  Because as son, brother, father, and husband you have made every person's life better, especially mine.  Thanks for being you babe.  Your just perfect in my eyes.

Happy Birthday! 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Happy Faces

Christmas Day is all about happy faces, happy dances, and being absorbed in playing with your new toy.  And under this definition, our Christmas was a huge success.  Here's hoping yours was too!

Friday, January 13, 2012


Dear Grandma,

Just so you know, you are often on my kid's minds.  Although I wonder if you would totally love the things they are saying.  Just remember they are innocents.  That's why when I heard these things recently, I just had to laugh.  And post them, so that all could join in the wondrous joys of children who speak their minds.

First before Christmas as I asked Travis what we should get you for Christmas, Issac piped up "I know.  We should get her a new wheel chair.  She could really use one of those."

Then after the days you spent over at our house for Christmas Wyatt walked in the house and sat down one day and said, "You can tell Grandma spent a lot of time in this chair.  It smells like her."  I asked him what it smelled like and he said, "Flowers, weird powder, and old."

Then a week or so later as we drove in the car with the kids and Bella's one friend, I overheard talking.  The conversation went something like this.  Bella said I love Christmas cookies.  My grandma is the best.  She is always getting us Christmas cookies.  I especially like to eat them in the summer.  Her friend said you mean the winter.  And Bella said no the summer.  My grandma always has Christmas cookies in the summer.  She gets them on sale.

Now to your benefit I know that it is probably late winter with the cookies thing.  And the kids really do love them.  Just wanted you to know they are thinking of you.


PS  It's crazy to realize you are a grandma, like I used to remember Grandma, with all of her food tasting just a bit musty and her house having a specific scent and knowing that she would always have fruited jello waiting for me to eat when we got there.  I only hope that my kids are saving up all these precious memories of you just like I have of Grandma.  Because to me you are still "Mom".

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Severely Taken Out of Context

When people ask me how I've been, I often think,

Big wheels keep on turning
Proud Mary keep on burning
And we're rolling, rolling
Rolling down the river.

Although lyrically not a perfect quote, it's what comes to me.  Life keeps moving, I keep being the driving force, and our family just keeps pushing forward.

But if you're the type who likes details we had:

a Beaver son (he likes to take paper and turn himself into animals)
 the Merry Mohawk
 One bout of stomach flu right before Christmas - we kept it contained to 1 child
 my sous pastry chef - layman's terms cookie helper
 the teachers sang christmas carols to the kids on the last day of school - love Manheim Central
ward christmas party - bishopric dressed up as elves and skipped about
 the "original" pastry chef
 what travis does with a camera - takes pictures of my butt and boobs, i spared you the other
christmas eve party: aka Shepard's dinner
 happy cousins
 the mom's chatting
6 Christmas stockings sewn, take that, doubting Thomas(s) - you know who you are
 trolley ride - downtown Manheim - new year's eve
a happy wyatt

dancing in the square

Myself - I prefer the details. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Pensive Ponderings

So much of this blog is quickly written, copied, and pasted to act as a journal for my life.  Memories for when the Alzheimer's kicks in, for when my life is aged past the point of telling my life with efficiency and thoughtfulness for future generations.  It is the banal daily happenings and the contemplative evening moments when my mind slows down and my thoughts deepen to what really matters.  This post is one of the later.

Tonight I can't help but think of three major themes and how interwoven and consistent they have been in my life.  This weekend I have played single mother to four kids.  When Travis is out of town there is a sense of freedom from my more ridged schedules and strict discipline.  Often times, it is a time where some of my most profound beliefs are shared with the kids through this glimpse of shapeless living.  This weekend I felt myself once again telling the kids about the importance of good tools, their proper care, and their many purposes.  But surprisingly it wasn't the wood and metal of a craftsman's tool that I referred to.  It was words of which I spoke to them about.  I emphasized that each tool has a purpose, that finding just the right tool for the job often makes it easier.  They can be sharp, blunt, build or destroy, and they have the power to rev up or to retard. But that with proper construction the end result can be more powerful than anything you can imagine. 

As I listened to Bella talk on the phone to Travis tonight sharing her thoughts about the weekend without him, she uttered one phrase so perfectly spoken with absolute clarity and precision to perfectly illustrate her thoughts and feelings on a particular subject. It was so perfect that I looked to my cell phone resting against Bella's ear as if Travis were there so that we could exchange an unspoken acknowledgement, through our eyes, of the most serene happiness we feel when we watch our children blossom into adults who have exceeded our every expectation and reminded us of the perfect healing power of the Atonement.

This weekend Travis went to Texas, to his childhood home.  His grandfather passed away at the age of 95; it was expected and so free from some of the more intense grief that can come at a sudden loss.  His life was long and well lived.  And as Travis and I spoke tonight on the phone for over an hour and a half during his airport layover he filled me in on all the details of the weekend.  I remembered why he is my very best friend.  He spoke lovingly and sometimes tearfully of the viewing and funeral, of the numerous family gatherings that took place and the story telling his cousins and he shared about their memories of their grandfather's life -their last living grandparent- and their memories with him. 

I can't help but consider repeatedly the legacy of this man.  It is something I had considered numerous times while he was still living.  His life was rich and colorful with stories that even I with my wild ways can't compete with.  Most notably he ran away from home, seeking relief from horrific abuse, to start a life of his own starting with the lifestyle of a bum hopping on trains to live.  Within that one story lie a thousand stories and tales of the ways that God intervened and had preserved his life for some reason he hadn't at the time known.  Eventually he found his way to Texas where he worked from a homeless, penniless, abused childhood to a landowning, modest, Texas rancher.  He was father to 4 natural born children, several foster children, and a religious and community icon.  And throughout the services held for him all who knew him spoke of his legacy, the lives he changed, the man he was, and the lessons he taught.  He is a man who will be missed, but joy cannot begin to describe how I feel when I consider that this is now my and my children's legacy to carry on.

I wonder what that legacy will be.  I am not the wordsmith I wish I were, despite my love for the spoken and written word.  I without morbidity think what people will say about my life when I too have passed on.  I first and foremost echo the sentiment Grandpa made when he said, "Dorothy (his wife) and I just wanted to raise a righteous posterity."  But what character traits will people attribute to me?  Will it be the flippant attitude with which I sometimes approach life, or with joyfulness and silliness with which I draw people to me?  Will it be for the deep spiritual wells I hold further within for those closer to me to actually see?  Will I be known for my work ethic, honesty, intelligence, pretty face -I can't help but throw that in there- or my non "shrinking violet" attitude?  I have heard each of these things to describe me within the past month.  I am not really sure what one fundamental trait I want my legacy to be, but recently in my life through many experiences I keep contemplating honesty, not the hard, sharp edged, brutal kind.  But the truthful, authentic, equitable, virtuous, open, free from deceit sort of honesty where words matter and mean something and that perfectly crafted sentence is exactly what you wanted to portray and that one character is the foundation for which all others can be built.