Wednesday, September 30, 2015

One a Day, Week 38

Trying out the neighbor's zip line.  My kids inform me that we are the "only ones" without one now.

This is how ALL of Cami's coloring looks right now, and she loves it.

I don't know, do you think I take enough pictures of Benji?

Trying on his blessing day outfit

Love this!

It was Katie's turn for a Saturday lunch date (cell phone picture)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Blessing of #10

Towards the end of the pregnancy with my ninth child, I was really struggling.  I was so exhausted and despite being in great physical shape, the pregnancy was so hard.  Somehow, I thought after running a marathon at fifteen weeks, the rest of that pregnancy would be a piece of cake.  It wasn't.  I knew in my heart that there was at least one more child to come to our family, a boy, but I did not want to even think about climbing that mountain one more time.  

As it turned out, the post-partum period after Cami was born was my worst yet.  My thyroid levels went crazy and I ended up with major physical and mental health issues because of it. Though the intensity of those problems lasted only a few months, it took a long time to get my thyroid levels adjusted and to heal physically and emotionally.  I didn't write a lot during that time because it was all I could do to keep up with the very basics of running my home.  And though I love to write, I also like to wait until time passes and I see a bigger picture before writing about the hardest things.  I'm not one that writes to process emotion.

And so it was that we had quite a large-for-us gap between Cami and Benjamin.  For a time, despite my strong feelings that there was a boy to come, we wondered if it wouldn't be best to call our family complete.  I grieved, not because I especially love pregnancy or even babies (I love MY babies, but babies in general?  meh), but because I didn't know what to do with the dream I'd had years ago where I met my son and knew his name was Benjamin.

And so it is that last Sunday, when my husband blessed Benjamin in front of our church congregation, I bawled my way through the entire blessing.  It was powerful to hear the special promises made to him and to feel of his powerful spirit and the love our Heavenly Father had for him. 

This is the son we might not have had.

We blessed Benjamin wrapped in this blanket, made for my mother's baby blessing by her grandmother nearly seventy years ago.  Each of our children has been blessed in this blanket.  So I proudly put my son on a pink flowered blanket for photos!

This past year has really been a season of joy for me.  My pregnancy wasn't easy, sure, but it was a great blessing after my miscarriage last summer.  With great physical health and the absence of morning sickness for the first time ever, I'd even call my tenth pregnancy my best and easiest one ever.  That's amazing to me.  And humbling.  I've been greatly blessed.

Sweetest.  Baby.  Ever.

Perhaps it's too soon to say it, but it is so far true that my post-partum adjustment and healing has also been my best yet.  I've been able to quickly get back into running, I'm sleeping better than I have after any prior birth -- a nap every day those first six weeks because all my children were home (teenagers and old-enough-to-be-responsible 11-year-olds?  The. best. thing. ever!), short naps most days since school has started, and the best sleeper I've had yet.  The last two weeks he has slept until 3 or 5 in the morning every single night.  It's been wonderful.

Perhaps God is telling me something?

A few years ago, my husband and I took an evening class on the book of Revelations.  It was fascinating and one thing I particularly enjoyed learning about was the significance and symbolism of numbers used in the Bible.  Now, I don't know that God is superstitious about numbers, but I do know that He teaches His children according to their understanding, and because the ancients attached meaning to various numbers, He used that to teach them His ways.  As our teacher explained it, each number had a pattern and meaning -- forty days, seven trumps, etc.  

The significance of the number ten was a witness.  It also means a completed cycle.  There were ten generations listed in the bible from Adam to Noah, ten plagues in Egypt, one-tenth is a tithe, ten virgins, etc.  The number four represents the earth and it's four corners, so the number forty represents a witness or a complete overcoming of the world and mortality.  Hence, Christ fasted for forty days.
My ten favorite people.
Now I don't pretend to be an expert on this and I know there are many different interpretations and meanings we could assign to numbers, but I do think that for me personally, this tenth child represents a witness to me that God is watching over me.  It is a witness of my restoration to good health and of the promise that God really is a High Priest Of Good Things to Come

I love the words in the last chapter of Job (not that my own trials were anything like his):  "So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning"  

Benjamin is a great blessing.  It's so sweet to watch the whole family adore him.  My older kids come home from school and immediately ask, "Where's my Benjamin?"

I'm loving this stage of my life, where I get to watch and enjoy the growth of all the different ages and stages of my children.  From the college prep and academic work of my junior in high school to my three-year-old enjoying her first days of preschool.  From watching the smiles of my newborn to accepting piles and piles of love notes drawn by my five-year-old.

It's a good life, and I am happy.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Blood Moon & Fall Photos

My parents were in town for Benjamin's baby blessing yesterday (more on that later), so last night, we headed up the Alpine Loop to enjoy the fall colors at sunset and then watch the moon rise.  While supermoons are fairly common, and blood moons also happen regularly, last night they happened on the same night.  The best part about it is that in our neck of the woods, moon rise was about 7:15 and the eclipse peaked at 8:45, so no one had to stay up too late to enjoy it.

There was a party atmosphere happening at the overlook we chose, with dozens of people and families set up to watch.  It reminded me of watching Hailey's comet when I was a little girl.

Here's a progression of the eclipse:

This was my favorite photo of the bunch.

Just as pretty as the moon, though, was the drive through the mountains.  I love that with just a twenty minute drive from my house, I can be in the mountains and headed towards views like this:

Here a short video that explains more about the supermoon/blood moon combination.  It will be 18 years before it happens again.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Worth a Look

* One of my heroes passed away this week.  A strong and gentle man and an apostle of the Lord and a special witness of Jesus Christ, I will miss hearing the voice of Richard G. Scott.  I loved the reverence and love he always spoke of his wife with -- you can hear some of it in this interview he did with his daughter years ago on the Mormon Channel.  

Elder Scott's last address to the body of the Church was entitled Make the Exercise of Your Faith Your First Priority.  It is a classic!

We talk to God through prayer. He most often communicates back to us through His written word. To know what the voice of the Divine sounds and feels like, read His words, study the scriptures, and ponder them.5 Make them an integral part of everyday life. If you want your children to recognize, understand, and act on the promptings of the Spirit, you must study the scriptures with them.
Don’t yield to Satan’s lie that you don’t have time to study the scriptures. Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!
There are many prophetic promises of the blessings of daily studying the scriptures.6
I add my voice with this promise: as you dedicate time every day, personally and with your family, to the study of God’s word, peace will prevail in your life. That peace won’t come from the outside world. It will come from within your home, from within your family, from within your own heart. It will be a gift of the Spirit. It will radiate out from you to influence others in the world around you. You will be doing something very significant to add to the cumulative peace in the world.

*  We had an amazing regional conference last week for Church.  I loved hearing this address by Elder Ballard along with several others.  I also love that the text has been posted online so I don't have to rely on my imperfect notes to tell you about it!
The Lord outlined simple, personal habits that keep us rooted, grounded, and connected to Him. Such habits, when done with full purpose of heart, real intent, and without hypocrisy and deception, allow us to be unwavering disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
These essential habits include the things that seem to easily slip away in the rush of our very busy lives, even when we are engaged in good things like pursuing an education, working to support a family, and involving ourselves in community and Church service.
They include sincere daily prayer; faithful fasting; regular study and pondering of the scriptures and the words of the living prophets; making the Sabbath day a delight; partaking of the sacrament with humility and always remembering the Savior; worshipping in the temple as often as possible; and, finally, reaching out to the needy, poor, and lonely—both those close by and across the world.
When someone stops doing these simple but essential things, they cut themselves from the “well of living water” and allow Satan to muddle their thinking. Sin and guilt cloud the mind—leading them to deny past inspiration and revelation and causing a “de-conversion” from the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
 * And as long as I'm sharing inspirational messages today, This is How You Do Love

She told me that dinner would arrive at 6pm.
She didn’t ask if we wanted dinner, needed dinner, would be home for dinner, or if we all even LIKED that kind of dinner. Instead, she prepared a meal in tinfoil, walked straight into my frighteningly messy kitchen, and put dinner in the fridge for when we would eventually drag home.
This is how you do love.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

One a Day, Weeks 36-37

Another reason why "Squish" is a good nickname for Benji.

All decked out after being invited to make brownies with Lillian

Labor Day = laboring in the yard

Dunk Tank at the Neighborhood Party

11 years old and still catching bugs!

Best friends

We had a whole week of beautiful rain and cooler weather.  I love it when my honeysuckle is in bloom; it smells divine and graces the walkway to my front door.

A much-needed afternoon nap

Daddy Trip to Park City

International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

7 Quick Takes: Fall, Pirate, and Favorite Child edition

1.  Daddy Trip Weekend ~ Park City
Those of you who regularly read my blog know that we have a fun family tradition of Daddy Trips, where my husband takes some of the kids away for a few days to a week every so often, giving me a relaxing at-home vacation, while he has a chance to create great memories.  This past weekend, my husband took the six youngest girls to Park City.  It was Cami's first chance to go on a Daddy trip and she loved every moment.

The girls did crafts at the resort and went swimming every day.  They also drove over Guardsman's Pass to Silver Lake.

2.  Mountain color
I thoroughly enjoyed a calm, quiet Friday and Saturday with just my oldest three and Benji at home. After taking my high schoolers to school on Friday, Benji and I drove up the canyon and found a lovely overlook behind Squaw Peak where we stayed and watched the sun rise together.  It filled my need to see and photograph the fall colors and was a lovely start to the day.

3. Talk like a Pirate Day
On Saturday, my three boys and I went over to Krispy Kreme, where they were handing out a full dozen donuts to each visitor dressed in full pirate garb.  I'm proud of myself for only eating two of the donuts and I'm pretty sure that Benji is the cutest pirate ever.

4.  Spinning My Wheels
Ever since school started, I've been having a hard time feeling like I get anything done during the day.  Part of that is the change in my exercise time.  The last few years, I've been getting up early to get in my exercise before scriptures every day.  That gave me plenty of time to shower, get the kids off, start the laundry, and clean my kitchen in the morning so that I was ready to tackle the rest of the to-do list by 9 or 9:30 every morning.  Now, with exercise happening later in the morning, it's 10 or 10:30 by the time I get the kitchen clean and by then, Katie really wants attention.

The rest of it is that I'm spending a lot more time sitting, talking to, and nursing my little baby.  Add on the imperative need for an afternoon nap and I'm really feeling the squeeze on my time.  It's been 3.5 years since my last baby, so I'd gotten used to having more uninterrupted time to do the exciting things like pay the bills, deal with insurance, or deep clean a bathroom.

I wouldn't trade it for the world, but it has been an adjustment to realize I am just not getting to every thing I want to or used to get done in a week.  I've had to mentally reset my expectations.  For several weeks, I would hear my internal dialogue say often, "I have so much to do. I have so much to do." The last few weeks, I've just been trying to change that and say to myself instead, "I have plenty of time."  I don't have the time I used to, to be sure, but I have enough to do the important things.  And I'm really soaking up this time when my little one is so sweet and squishy.

5.  Goodbye Baby Girl Clothes
I took time while my husband was gone last week to go through all our girl clothes from newborn to size 4.  I'm not positive that our family is complete, but I have thought since before Cami was born that she is likely our last girl (and if not, I can always go begging for hand-me-downs).  I started by getting out the fall and winter clothes for Cami's size 4T/5T, then I went through about eight or nine file-size boxes of clothes.  I kept a few of my favorites in every size and then gave away the rest.  I was surprisingly unsentimental about it.  It was fun, sure, to see those few outfits that somehow made it all the way from Lillian to Cami, and to remember how cute the twins were in those matching satin dresses, but I've taken so many photos over the years that I felt no need to hang on to clothes just for sentiment's sake.

6.  I miss having a running partner.
It's nice to have a regular time to talk to a good friend, and I miss Marci a ton, but it's also been nice to run alone, because I've been able to listen to some great podcasts and interesting audiobooks while running.  Yesterday, I listened to this address and loved hearing from this father of nine, especially the story about finding his home in the desert.  We have our own miraculous story about how we ended up in the home we built, so it felt so familiar to me.
We traveled to Tucson to find our new home. Upon our arrival in Tucson we met with a real estate agent. After days of searching we could find nothing in our price range that even came close to meeting our family’s needs—as far as location, neighborhood, schools, and so on. I wasn’t used to “desert landscape.” The homes had cactus and rock gardens instead of trees and grass lawns. My faith that this move was the right decision began to waver. We were out of options and out of time. The agent suggested that we pick one or two of the homes we liked, revisit them, and make a decision. The problem was that I hadn’t liked any of them. I was depressed and heartsick. I needed help. I couldn’t sleep.
In the motel room, in the middle of the night, I turned to the scriptures for help. I read from several places, including Hebrews 11, about faith. Nothing seemed to help. Then it happened. I was reading Ether 12 in the Book of Mormon about faith. I came to verse 32. I read, “And I also remember that thou hast said that thou hast prepared a house . . .”
I stopped. I looked up. The Lord had spoken to my soul. A house was prepared. I didn’t know how or where or what was to happen, but I knew a house was prepared. I didn’t say anything to my wife.
The next morning we met the agent and drove to a house out on Bear Trail that my wife remembered as being a possibility of something that might work. As we drove up on a rock driveway, an enormous reptile dropped off a saguaro cactus right in front of the house and scurried off into the desert. I remember thinking, “Is this reptile a future playmate for my young children?”
We surveyed the house. Debbie went inside while I checked over the outside.
I noticed the roof shingles were corroded from the leaking swamp cooler. The cedar fence was propped up by two-by-four boards. There was a crack in the foundation. The swimming pool was filled with black algae.
I thought, “Well, this is it. We need to decide.”
No one was near, so I knelt in prayer. I begged for the Lord to let me know if this was the “house prepared.” As I opened my eyes and arose from my knees, I saw a magazine stuck in a bush. Could the magazine contain direction? I went to the bush and opened the magazine. It was a pornographic magazine. I closed the magazine, put it back in the bush, went into the house, and announced to my wife, “This is not the house.”
My wife said, “How do you know?”
I said, “It’s a ‘bush’ thing. I’ll explain later.”
We then returned to the agent’s car to check out one new listing. En route to the new listing we passed through a neighborhood that reminded me of our home in Utah. There were sidewalks, lawns, and children playing. The street had such a good spirit about it. I asked the agent if there was anything for sale in this area.
She said, “No.”
We rounded a corner, and I saw a house with a “for sale” sign.
I asked, “What about this one?”
She said, “I have no idea. It is not listed.”
We copied down the number and made a call. The agent asked the owner why it wasn’t listed. She said they were planning to sell but that the home wasn’t ready to show. But for “some reason” her agent had come early that morning and posted the “for sale” sign. Our agent asked if we could come see it. She agreed to let us come right then.
After we pulled into the driveway and got out of the car, I said to my wife, “This is the house. I know it. I couldn’t be any more sure than Moses and the burning bush.”
She looked at me and said, “This bush thing again?”
We loved the house. Through the agent we made an offer. We returned to the motel to wait for the agent’s call. I was sitting by the swimming pool at the motel. The agent finally called and told us they had accepted our offer. I was ecstatic. I said I wanted to take pictures of the home to show our children, but I had no idea of the address of the property. I asked if she could give it to me.
The agent said, “Do you have something to write on?”
I did, and she gave me the address. The address was 1509 South Burning Tree Avenue.
I said, “Burning Tree as in Burning Bush?”
She said, “Yes.”
I about fell in the pool.
The rest of the talk is also awesome.  Check it out.

7.  Favorite Child
I don't usually have a favorite child, and if I did, I wouldn't mention it, but right now, I have no qualms about announcing that this little squish is my favorite:

Why?  So glad you asked.  For the past month, he's been sleeping from 9-2, then waking again at 4 and 6 to eat.  But last week, he skipped that 2 a.m. feeding twice.  Not only that, but Monday morning, I woke up at 6 a.m. only to stare at the clock in disbelief -- he'd slept a full nine hours! Then last night, he slept until 5.  I'm almost afraid to say it out loud for fear it won't last, but there it is.  Not bad for a two-month-old Bartholomew baby.  Most of my babies haven't slept through the night until they are nine or ten months old.  The earliest one of my babies has slept through the night before now is eight months.  So Benji is either really ahead of the curve, or just teasing me this week and will go back to waking up at 2 a.m. again soon.


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