Wednesday, July 23, 2014


I posted some of Kate's Senior pictures last night, but all of the words in my post came from the Ambien Walrus, so I deleted last night's post.

I don't know if my writing is any better when I'm not on medication, but I do have the brains to know not to write too much after 10:00 pm.
She had a fun birthday, there were presents and cake and we're all going to see Les Miserables on Broadway next week as one of her presents. (She will get the big souvenir package at the show, as the 'special birthday girl' part of that gift.)
Here are some of the best shots from Kate's Senior Portrait Adventure in Manhattan.
I cannot believe this child is going to be a Senior next year. 

 Matt works in the building with the green pyramid on top, just behind her. :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Faith and Fireflies

I just returned from YW camp last week.
It was......a growing experience.

We had 19 girls and a few who had attitudes which made things much harder than they needed to be and I needed a few days to just recover from the physical and emotional toll it took on me.
I don't know if I was a good leader or a crummy one, but I know I met some amazing kids that I will never forget and I would not have met otherwise.
I met girls who touched me so deeply and my heart grew last week.

I've written a couple of blog posts, but none of them felt quite right.
I needed to wait until I had my head and heart (and body) back to normal. 

Instead, I'll write about the most important experience at YW Camp- at least for me and my daughters.

The final night of camp involved a Faith Walk. 

The girls walked down a trail, where there was a pair of leaders every few yards, with a mirror with quotes about their self-worth, and they were given a charm for a bracelet at each stop. The spirit we needed to carry ourselves in was that of being in the temple- reverent, happy and aware of the purpose.

Tara and I were one of the first stops, and the very first girl to cross the bridge and come to us was my Little Romy.
As I saw my girl read the words of President Uchtdorf, and she looked up at me, for guidance on what to do next, I took the charm and placed it in her hand and whispered, "I love you" and guided her on to the path. She smiled and whispered "I love you, too, Mom" and went on. 
As each girl came to us, some skimmed through the words and opened their baggie for me to put the charm in, but I took each girl by the hand and said "I love you" and placed it in their palm.
It made a couple of girls stop and pause and I saw them walk down the path with a different look on their faces.
some girls just took it and scurried on, eager to join friends down the path.
Some girls took the time to let the words they read fill their hearts and let the moment we shared be that of a precious gift being shared with them. Some of the reactions got me crying. 
Seeing my Jane and my Kate, absorb the words, the spirit and choose to experience the gift they were being given was wonderful to me.
 I put the charm in Jane's hand and said "I love you, Jane" and she said "I know. I love you, too Mom."
When Kate came, we both started to cry. "I love you, Katie." and she said "Oh Mom! I love you! and gave me a hug and went down the path, eyes gleaming.

At the end of the walk, the girls met and gathered in a circle, where they were each given a mirror and markers. They wrote their names on the back of the mirrors and they turned the circle outwards, so that they faced the outside and sat and passed the mirrors down, each writing a quality that the mirror's owner possessed. 

As the darkness grew, the leaders took lights and we surrounded the girls, so they could see.

I stood next to a young woman who had a very difficult time in camp.
She was not active in the church and really only went because her parents made her. She'd brought clothing that was not appropriate with church camp and when asked to cover up, got into a public fight with the leaders. 
"I don't believe in your church standards, I don't believe in your stupid church!" she had yelled as she angrily stormed off and made plans to leave camp.
She'd packed her things and arranged a ride home, when one of the leaders saw her, with her bag, headed to the road and stopped her.
They had a long talk and the girl expressed embarrassment towards her behavior but reluctance to being part of the group of girls with a faith she found too stifling and backwards. She was told that it was okay that she didn't feel that way, that she was there to just have fun and figure out who she wanted to be. If she wanted to leave, she could, of course, but running away was not the way to do it.
She had chosen to stay and the day after the outburst, she had been surprised to find that nobody was mad, everyone treated her just the way they had before she had been so angry and it was okay.

As we stood, darkness falling, some of the leaders began to sing. I stood, shining light on the girls and watched this once angry young woman cry as she sang the words:
"I am a child of God, and so my needs are great. Help me to understand his words, before it grows too late. Lead me, Guide me, Walk beside me. Help me find the way."

When she started to sing I stand All Amazed, I could not hold back my tears as she sang from her heart:
"Oh it is wonderful that he should care for me enough to die for me...Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me."

As darkness grew,  the fireflies came out.
If you don't live in a place with fireflies- oh you are missing out!
They fly through the air and suddenly there is a flash of light that lasts just a second or two, and then it is gone. 

I could see my daughters, in the light of the flashlights, notice the fireflies. 
I saw Kate stop writing and take a moment to look at the starry sky and the glow of the fireflies and the joy on her face was something every parent hopes to see in their child.
I saw Romy, do the same thing. She was writing and then, she looked up, saw the glory of her surroundings and lit up as the fireflies added their own light to the evening. Her face was serene and happy.
Jane's back was to me, but I saw she was looking out at the fireflies, too. 
Some girls never looked up, never saw how beautiful it was, never noticed the amazing moment they were in, that would never happen again. They focused on writing funny notes on mirrors, on writing quickly so it would be finished and they could do something else, they picked at the grass- all while the twinkling lights of sky and nature surrounded them.

The girl in front of me also looked up. 
She put out her hand as she tried to get a firefly to land on her.
Her face was covered in tears and her eyes were wide with wonder.
Ah, she got it.
She chose the better part.
 In spite of how she had been seeing herself, of her feelings of self hate and like she wasn't good enough- she chose the better part and I knew that she would be okay, and she had the capacity to not only be happy, but to bring happiness to those in her life- because she recognized when she was in a holy place, when a miracle was happening around her. 

All of the girls are good girls, they all have weaknesses and they all have challenges, but they are all good girls. Not one did a single thing negative- they all chose good things. 
It was just that there were a few, who chose the better part. 
That choosing to look up, to take in all that they were being blessed with and to make it a part of their souls, it made all the difference. 

 We are all so blessed and we are never alone in our trials. 
Things can get so hard that they bring us to the ground and we see so much suffering, we experience so much- but if we will lookup- we will see that we are living amid constant miracles. 
Stop what you are doing, even when you are counting blessings and look up. See the whole picture, the picture that your Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have created and know that it is there for you. If you were the only person on Earth, they'd have created that same vivid, amazing world for you and your tender heart alone. They love you so much, more than you realize.
Look up.
Light comes in many forms and it is all around you, if you will just look up and seek it. 

That is what I will take from camp.
 I will take the reminder that if I will stop what I am doing- even if it is a good thing- and look up, that the fullness of the blessings I have been given can come into my life. 
I will take the humbling knowledge that my daughters have learned this, and that they see God's hand in the everyday.
They found the Savior in the fireflies.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Hello Blog, My Old Friend

I took a bit of a break.

I had a season of desperately barely hanging on by my fingernails- for both good reasons and bad.
The bad reasons aren't necessarily bad, but they were hard.
One day I will tell the story of the bough that broke and how we clung together and worked and prayed so that Rockabye Baby wouldn't crash to the ground. That story is still happening, and right now, we are all still going through it hour by hour- which is an improvement from minute by minute survival. We may even be dealing day by day at this point, which is great.

And none of that makes any sense to anyone but me.
That's okay.
I write my story for myself, to remember how I felt and what the days were like before they were a 'remember when."

I sound like I'm on drugs. 
Eh- it's just Diet Dr. Pepper.

Emma came home for two weeks. She was in the UK for 6 weeks, doing a study abroad. 
(Sher- did you know she's a Ute? We still love her, though. We just don't cheer for her football team.)

She brought her sweet friend, Kaliegh. 

We took them to NYC and bought them Coconut Cream Doughnut Plant. We saw the 9-11 memorial and St. Paul's. We rode the subway and I took pictures of them next to a weirdo woman with a mullet who was doing some sort of performance art that did not involve wearing a bra. 

My Zane graduated from High School.

We had a huge party with about 60 of our closest friends. 

We had floats and Nerf Guns. 
I brought treats to our neighbors earlier in the day to warn them about the party and ask for patience with all of the cars and kids who would be around- I also invited them to come and enjoy a float. 
One of my neighbors actually sent his grandkids over to play and another neighbor sent me a friend request on facebook the next day. We just may finally have become part of the neighborhood, instead of the weird Mormons for Utah who never have the same number of kids living with us on any given week. 

Parker and Zane's Arizona family came and stayed with us.

When we divorced, their dad and I argued for a solid year.
There was the typical finger pointing and all around scorekeeping and one upping foolishness going on until one day- it just stopped and it never started up again. 
We were able to be together, under one roof for over a week and while it isn't a normal situation for everyone- it was just fine here. 
 It has always been fine with our families, even when the kids were small. Their kids are treated with the same consideration and kindness as our own and there are good boundaries that show respect on both sides. Support without meddling. Freedom to be different and a ton of constant forgiving and accepting apologies we may never think we got. 
We can't even be in the same auditorium with Matt's ex without getting flipped off, the stink eye and an angry email about some damn thing we did wrong. We finally just gave up and focused on parallel parenting years ago. We were sick of being told off and being threatened all of the time. 

I don't know, it's just very different and I don't understand why every minor thing had to be so horrible and full of contention. I don't think my ex or I are so amazing and mature that we figured out some perfect situation.  I just don't think it is impossible when you choose to let things go and decide that the 'other side' has the same goal as you do and no grown adult needs another adult to tell them what to think, say and do. If they make a mistake- they will figure it out, just like every other parent on the planet. 
Talking about this stuff is pointless, because everybody seems to think that if they can figure out who to blame, it will make a difference.
( I do it, too sometimes.) 
Anyway, we had a good time with the Arizona family. I think they really enjoyed our beautiful Garden State.

Kate is home now and Jane comes home on Saturday.

Next week we are going to YW camp together with Roe.
I am not a camper.
We will see how it goes. 

In the meantime, we are going to be playing a lot of board games (Thanks Paul, Marla and Jess!) and going to Six Flags a lot. We also have four birthdays in July and a mission call for Zane coming soon. 
The world does not stop spinning just because I'm dizzy, does it?