Loving Arizona and Missing Hawaii

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Keepin it simple...

You know that old saying that "less is more?'  Well, I'm beginning to discover what that really means.  Countless talks, counsel from our church leaders come to mind when I start feeling frantic and crazy in my own responsibilities or even ambitious and excited about all the change and chatter and social events going on around me...

It's a constant tug-of-war inside of me... "I need to slow down, simplify, focus on what matters most."..."I want to throw parties, plan luncheons, invite everyone I know to everything we do, refurbish furniture, paint the walls, redecorate my house! Run a marathon!  Okay... maybe a half..."

But then those words echo in my ears and I feel a familiar warm feeling in my heart....

2 less hours shopping, painting furniture, planning a party... means 2 MORE hours to build Legos with Ethan, ride bikes with Noah, push Abigail on the swing, sing and dance with Catherine...

 So when I feel that tug-of-war coming on, I ask myself:  "Is this really going to make life better?? Or keep me from a BETTER LIFE?"

Suddenly I feel content, blessed, peaceful...

Less furniture means more floor space for playing.
Less lunch dates means more money in the bank and less stress over finances and more time with my hubby.
Less elaborate parties means more time to actually play before, during and after the party... and actually enjoy it!!
Less time redecorating my house means more time enjoying the ones who live in it.

It's all good stuff.  Don't get me wrong.  I definitely get excited about planning parties, decorating and all of the above.  It's just that I'm gaining a greater appreciation for a deeper more lasting joy that comes from focusing more on the things that matter most in my life.

Monday, September 16, 2013

It's a wonderful life.

It's been seven months today since the nightmare began.  I was hesitant to go.  I could sense something was wrong but had no idea just how bad it was.  Larry encouraged me to head to the airport and fly out to CA.  I really wanted to see my sister and hear family. I was coming up on 2 1/2 years since I had last seen them. 

I can think about it now and talk about it without shaking and my blood pressure spiking.  It's still hard tho.  I think when we find ourselves in a situation where we just have to survive, our body goes into shock but our mind has a way of dealing with the memory of it by fogging it over most of the time so that it seems more like a dream.  It's not possible to have been that bad... I must have been exaggerating... Right?  No.  The fog clears for a few moments from time to time.  It was real.  Horrific.

There have been a lot of challenges for our family this year.  It hasn't been a year for the faint hearted, that's for sure.  But at the same time (though I wouldn't ever want to do this all again) it has been one of the best years we've ever had.  I'll tell you why but first I want to give you a little background. Coming up on 10 years ago, we lost our first baby.  A boy.  He would be turning 9 this November.  We then lost 2 more babies.  It was a very dark year for me.  I was confused and hurt and I didn't know how to ask for or receive help. There isn't a lot of light in my minds eye when I allow myself to ponder upon those memories.  Almost exactly a year an a half after the loss of our first baby, I gave birth to our oldest daughter.  I still remember walking into our tiny apartment, sitting down in the rocking chair and cradling our fragile (but strong) 5 pound 1 ounce miracle on a pillow on my lap.  It was Thanksgiving Day.  I've never been so thankful in my entire life.  I looked up at the art that I had hanging on the wall of our bedroom.  A painting of Mary holding baby Jesus.  I wept.  My heart overflowed with love and gratitude that I actually got to hold and keep my baby.  The walls I had thrown up to protect my broken heart from ever being torn apart again began to crumble.  Piece by piece they came down and my heart began to heal. 

Over the ensuing years, I was able to comfort other women as they faced similar loss and suffering.  Some I was able to up-lift, some lifted me.  I recognized the difference between the mourning and suffering of some of these women as compared to mine in that first year.  The light I mentioned before... the light that is missing from my memories seemed ever so bright in the lives of some of these dear women.  Even amidst their suffering.  It is the light that comes from our Savior.  He can shine through the darkest night. It was years after the loss of my first baby when I recognized that the reason I had been in such a dark despair was because I had turned away from my Savior in my time of need.  I felt so alone and abandoned at the time, but now, looking back, I can see His tender mercies.  I didn't recognize them at the time.  I rejected them and allowed myself to be consumed by the darkness.  He never forsook me though.  My husband never gave up on me through the countless times I pushed him away.  He stood by my side and loved me unconditionally.  I am forever grateful that he never gave up on me.

This year has been the first time I have truly been tried and tested again in a different experience but similar intensity.  This time I turned to my Savior.  I don't want to imply that it was a simple change of heart and focus.  It was a daily, hourly, minute to minute struggle to keep my mind and heart centered on my Savior.  The adversary worked hard on me.  He hit me while I was weakest and most vulnerable in unbearable pain and did not let up.   But I didn't let up either.  I held to the rod.  I prayed. I sang hymns over and over in my mind.  I read the scriptures. Answers came in the scriptures I would open to.  Blessings came through the Priesthood, through family, through friends, through the Spirit.  I found "strength beyond my own." Nights were tortuously long and dark but in my memories... LIGHT.  This entire year is filled with light.  Some of the hardest trials I have ever faced and yet... I'm grateful.  It has been a wonderful year.  I am alive.  I've been given a second chance at life.  My children and husband are alive and well.  Though far apart in miles, we have grown closer and stronger in spirit.  We have learned to pull together.  I'll never take a day for granted.  My heart has been changed.  I'll never be the same.

So I learned the difference between turning to the Lord in our tribulations, our suffering and affliction and turning away from Him.  On the one hand we allow the trial to move through us while we stand firmly on the rock of Christ.  He mends up our broken hearts and comforts us in our suffering.  He molds us into who He knows we can become.  On the other hand, we succumb to the darkness.  Despair overcomes us and we fall captive to the suffering and anguish of the Adversary. The one is full of light, the other is complete, hopeless darkness. 

This is the GOOD NEWS of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that there is HOPE.  As we choose Faith in Jesus Christ, we put our trust in Him and allow His atonement to bind up our broken hearts.  He knows our suffering and His light can shine through our darkest hour.

How grateful I am that even with a year as hard as this one has been and continues to be, I have chosen to walk in His light.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Happy Tips for TIred Mommies

Do you sometimes fall asleep mid-sentence, while standing up?  Chances are, you're a mother. 

Demands are high and rest time is low but I know the aching and yearning you feel in your heart that you just don't want to miss a single opportunity to enjoy your child(ren).  I've had a lot of opportunities to learn how to "turn lemons into lemonade" and so I thought I'd share some of my tips with all you amazing mothers out there...

Tip #1... When you've graduated from a "junk drawer" to a "cluttered office" to "the one peaceful clean room in the house... and then THAT too is taken over by life and children...When you think there's no haven left... NOT ONE CLEAN ROOM in the entire house to escape to when you need a moment to refuel... and it's 115 degrees outside so you can't escape there either...!!!  CURL UP with the most BEAUTIFUL creation you'll ever make... your son or daughter.. get lost in the beauty of their eyelashes and the serenity of their face as they sleep.  Your cares and worries will melt away and 10 years from now you won't care that you didn't have the perfectly decorated house; you'll be grateful that time with your child was more important to you.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


I had such a naive, skewed vision of motherhood when I was a child, babysitting other people's children, dreaming of the day that I would one day have my own 10 kids... live in my mansion with my own personal gymnastics gym in the basement and everything would be flowers and sunshine.  Everyone would love each other and smile, be polite and get along, because, of course, that was due to proper mothering...right?  All the other moms just didn't know...but I did....hehehehe.

Seven and a half years ago I gave birth to my oldest daughter....

since then I have birthed two sons and another daughter....

I have a new vision and opinion of motherhood...

*Staying awake all night to soothe and calm a crying baby.
*Packing 3 children into a tiny room and being excited for them because it's like a "slumber party." You know, the kind you don't experience in mansions where you don't even know if everyone's home or not because it might take half the day to find them. 
*Washing vomit off of little feverish, shaking bodies and not even noticing the smell because your heart is bursting with love and concern for their well being.
*Then once they're calm and sleeping again, washing countless loads of laundry, scrubbing the furniture and carpet.
*Praying through your sobs and tears that Heavenly Father will spare the life of your child.
*Accepting it and letting go when He doesn't.
*Holding a screaming, flailing child while you wait for the ambulance to arrive.
*Praying again through sobs and tears that He will spare the life of another one of your children.
*Holding that child for hours and hours, never wanting to leave their side...truly recognizing the miracle and gift that they're still alive.  

The list could go on and on...  The things that no parent wishes for or looks forward to... the things we all hope will quickly pass and be few and far between... the hard, laborious, exhausting and heartbreaking things... The things that I would never wish for again but am grateful for because they are the things that were powerful enough to change my heart...

MOTHERHOOD has changed my heart in ways I never thought possible.  It makes me more grateful for the small things and patient with the mundane.  I don't mind the screaming and fighting, the messes and never-ending laundry and dishes, the toothpaste on the counter and hand prints on the mirrors and windows....and the list could go on and on...

I have a new vision and opinion of motherhood...

And it's not so much anymore about what I am going to have but what I'm able to give... no sacrifice is too great, no task too demanding, no pain too excruciating, no night too exhausting for a mother's love.

I am a mother.

My children surround me.

My heart is full.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Kids say the funniest things!

So SO much has been happening the last couple of years!  I can't seem to find a second to write about it. Something about having the 4th child... all my leisure and even not so leisure, FLEW OUT THE WINDOW!

Wouldn't it be great to have a window into our children's minds?  I love when the comments they make give me a little glimpse into what's been going on in there!  The other night we were watching videos from the PCC and Ethan commented about a dance from the New Zealand village: Aotearoa, "The guy in the middle looks kinda like...Alma the Younger."  That was a really great, memorable section of our family scripture study.

Then tonight he was telling me why he loves being 5 so much... because E is the 5th letter in the alphabet and there are 5 letters in his name.  I remember when he was so torn up about turning 4 because he wanted to stay 3 for all of his birthdays.  That's probably because he had the coolest Peter Pan 3rd birthday party ever!

I sure love my Ethan!  He may fool you with his All-star skills and dashing charm but he really is quite the gentle heart and sharp thinker! 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dinner conversation

Let me just preface this conversation with the thought that Ethan's our intense child and Catherine's our "Tree Hugger"

We're finishing dinner and Ethan yells down the hall: DAD!

I ask him what he needs and he starts asking where Larry is. Finally he tells me he's all done with his dinner. (So he wanted to ask Dad's permission to get down from the table...)

Catherine chimes in: You don't have to only ask your favorite person.

My response: Oh, :( Is dad you're favorite person?

Ethan: ya. (then obviously seeing my hurt from the rejection) You're my favorite too, Mom.

Catherine has to chime in again (of course): I love everyone, all the animals and all the people in the whole world. Even the bad people.

Then my intense boy, can't resist a chance to talk about some kind of serious subject: "ya, but if they try to shoot us, we'll just try to find the shield. but we don't shoot them back."

At least some of the principles of "not hitting back" are sticking, even if it is in some random sort of way.

Friday, November 4, 2011


Everything has always been scheduled and structured - “by the book” in my past deliveries. Arriving to the hospital at 5:20 pm Saturday evening for a scheduled induction, I expected the same type of experience and had just accepted the fact that I was never going to have one of those exciting “crazed-rushing-to-the-hospital-in-labor” experiences. I thought I’d never know what it was like to be in labor without the consistent 2-minutes-apart contractions I knew so well. Little did I know then that my labor this time around would be nothing I expected and everything I’d always hoped for.

We arrived to the hospital at 5:20 pm Saturday evening, September 3rd. The nurses were quick with all the prep work this time around as they had been so overwhelmed with patients that week and we were pushed back 36 hours from our scheduled induction. With how similar this induction was to my induction with Ethan, and how quickly that labor had gone, I was hopeful that our baby girl would be born before midnight.

Dr. Layton came in to see us and decide how to proceed with the induction. Since I hadn't dilated and was still at a station +3... it would have been really hard on my body and baby to start the pitosin right away... it would have made for a really long, hard labor. Instead he decided we would start with a 12 hour time-release Cervidil to prepare my body for labor. Dr. Layton asked when I had last eaten and since my last meal was at 1:30 that afternoon, he told me to go ahead and order some dinner, then they'd start me on the Cervidil and give me an Ambien to sleep through the night. It was starting to sound a little more like a vacation than labor... “order some dinner, take a sleeping pill, have a good night’s sleep...” The time-release disk of Cervidil would be removed at 5 am and pitosin would be started at 6 am.

At this point I was starting to calm down a little knowing we were in for the long haul. "Well! I guess we'll be having this baby tomorrow afternoon sometime..." Everything was now sounding just like my labor experience had been with Catherine.

At 8:15 pm, after dinner and the shift change of nurses, I started the Cervidil and reluctantly took the Ambien. My nurse thought that with the contractions I was already having, the Cervidil would probably jump start my labor. I was a little concerned about taking a sleeping pill right before possibly starting labor.

Larry and I hung out for awhile chatting and watching some shows. At 9:10 pm our baby’s heart rate dropped significantly and my nurse came in and hooked up a bag of saline solution to my IV. Everything was fine. I was already exhausted and pretty uncomfortable, but by the time the Ambien kicked in, I was out. The much needed rest didn’t come that night...nor has it since. :) My contractions were coming faster and stronger. I would wake up with them but was too out of it to communicate anything about it, and Larry would just encourage me to go back to sleep.

Finally by midnight I was in enough pain to communicate something effective about it. Thankfully, my sweetheart was still awake. He had stayed up watching shows on our laptop...so that he would be awake and alert to help me with anything I might need. He called in my night nurse, Dorothy. She is a saint. She was compassionate and calming - exactly what I needed. She handled everything with such ease, especially considering how overwhelmed labor and delivery was not only that night, but the whole week. She came in to look over my contraction history and decided to check to see if I had made any progress. I had dilated one centimeter. Wonderful news to my ears! Remembering my first labor and delivery with Catherine, it was a very, very long ordeal starting an induction without being effaced or dilated, and I expected this labor to be the same. You can imagine my excitement to find I had dilated a centimeter in the first 4 hours when it had taken 12 hours to progress that much with Catherine. Still anticipating a long labor, (afterall, the pitosin wasn’t going to be started for another 6 hours...) Dorothy encouraged me to get some more rest. I explained that I was trying to, but even with the Ambien, i was just in too much pain to sleep. (stubborn body) She offered a muscle relaxant, Stadol, to help me sleep some more. I remembered having that in my early stages of labor with Catherine, and it worked very well for the 45 minutes it lasted. I went ahead with the stadol, and it worked like a charm! I zonked out for 2 hours.

At 2 am I woke gasping for breath. Anything I had forgotten from my past births came flooding back.  I knew I was in labor.  My body knew just what to do.  I immediately focused on my breathing... I couldn’t help but breathe through the contractions! It was so laborious though that I couldn’t catch my breath enough to yell or scream. Of course at this point, Larry was completely passed out on the couch. He later told me he had just finally gone to sleep at 1:30 am... figuring since I had been out for an hour and a half, he might as well get a little sleep before 6 when the pitosin would start and I’d really need his help. Well, if you know Larry, you know he is nearly impossible to wake. You have to shake him to wake him up...especially when he’s only 30 minutes into it. My efforts to yell over to him were coming out as a very weak whisper. I looked around for something to throw at him, to no avail. I was sitting up at this point, turned to the side and practically ready to fall out of bed. Then I remembered the nurse call button. So, I called, but all I could muster was “I’m in a lot of pain.” The BLING of the nurse answering stirred Larry, but I’m pretty sure he just rolled over and went back to sleep...great. At least I had a wonderful nurse! :)

Dorothy came in and checked my progress again. FOUR CENTIMETERS! And 80% effaced. “You’re in labor, my dear!” The news just kept getting better! All I could think was, “bless you for not telling me I hadn’t progressed because I’d feel like the biggest wimp to ever give birth!”

My labor progressed so quickly after that! I was still amazed that I was really IN LABOR...NO PITOSIN... At this point with all the commotion, Larry sat up, and I told him I was in labor and to go ahead and call my mom and Diana (our dear friend and amazing photographer who captured our birth story for us) to come to the hospital. Of course, he didn’t believe me. “But she hasn’t started the pitosin yet.” No amount of explaining by myself or Dorothy would convince him, but the sweet husband he is, he tried to appease me by going ahead with the phone calls. Thank goodness. I knew it was going to be fast. Dorothy offered to send for the epidural... YES! Please, bring the epidural. Nothing sounded more wonderful at that moment! The anesthesiologist began the procedure for placing the epidural at 2:25 am and was finished and starting the medicine at 2:40 am. I wanted to forego the initial bolster and have a half dose of the epidural. The anesthesiologist compromised at half a bolster and half a drip. This was my first time having a difficult epidural placement and it was MISERABLE. I was in so much pain and progressing so fast, I thought I was going to pass out having to sit so still all hunched over for the 15 minute procedure.

Larry is the best labor coach! He was a saint holding me up and letting me grip his arm... I about severed it during the procedure. I apologized several times for squeezing the life out of his arm, each time explaining that I couldn’t have let go even if I wanted to. I was in a survival mode and I couldn’t have survived any other way. I was dilated 4 cm when the epidural was started, by the time it was finished, I was at a 6...it was count-down time. Larry called Diana to tell her to come on down. He finally believed me that our baby was coming! The anesthesiologist was leaving at 2:45 and gave me the little button that I could push every 15 minutes if I needed more pain relief. My mom arrived at 2:58 am. I’m so glad she was there for Abigail’s birth. It was a wonderful experience and I’m glad I was able to share it with her. I wish I had realized how special it would be to have her there so that I would have invited her for my first 3 births.

I was still in a ton of pain and watching the clock for 3 am when I pushed the button for the first time. I pushed it again at 3:15 and by about 3:30 I was feeling a little more comfortable.

Despite the pain I was in, I felt completely calm. I felt so much strength and confidence as I labored through my contractions. I felt delicately aware of my surroundings and the events happening around me, but my emotions remained unchanged by them.

At 3:32 am Dr Layton came in to break my water. I was dilated 8 cm and still not totally numb. There was only a small gush of water. I am assuming that because I was so close to delivering, my baby’s head came right down and blocked the opening in her amniotic sack. The pressure was becoming more intense, I asked my nurse to check my progress and she said I was dilated 9 1/2 centimeters and waited for a contraction to see if that would push me to a 10. It did. Time to push!

I was a little nervous to start pushing before Dr. Layton came back, but as policies change with each baby, Dorothy explained that she couldn’t call the doctor until I had already pushed once. So, I did...very carefully. :) I was really having a lot of pain along the inside of my left hip and felt like my baby was stuck. I pushed the epidural button one more time...not knowing if it’d make a difference before she was born, but with the pain I was in, it was at least comforting to push the button. :) Dorothy said my baby’s head was a little crooked and stuck on the one side. Suddenly I felt a pop, a gush of fluid and she was crowning. Dorothy was over getting baby’s bed ready... Dr. Layton and Larry were getting suited up in their doctor gowns and gloves.

Dorothy looked over at me and said, “Go ahead and keep pushing with the contractions.” Still a little reserved about pushing since no one was there to catch her, I thought about it for a few seconds, and then, throwing all caution to the wind, I thought, “well, OK! Here she comes!” The next contraction I felt coming on was a big one. My baby was finally in position and I knew this was it. Something inside of me just took charge. I pushed for real and immediately delivered her head. Everything felt like slow motion though I’m sure it was only a matter of seconds. The only one who saw was Larry. When I looked up, Dr. Layton was turned around answering Larry who had just asked him if he was standing in a good place to help with the delivery. I’ll never forget the look on his face when he turned back around. His eyes popped out of his head and he started waving his arms and saying, “Stop! Don’t push!” He was so amazing under pressure. He dove forward ready to catch our little babe, and I could see him, in a matter of moments, mentally go through the delivery process up to the point we were at with her head already being delivered. Realizing that his part had passed...he looked up at Larry and said, “well, I guess you’re up!” Dr. Layton showed Larry where to place his hands on her head and with a little push down and up she came right out into her Daddy’s arms. The best, most touching part was how he held her up and looked up at me and smiled with tears in his eyes.

Then he handed her to me.

She was born Sunday, September 4th at 3:54 am. I love that she arrived in her Daddy’s hands and that he was the one to place her in my arms. Nothing was forced or planned or technical. It was as if no one else existed but Larry and I and our baby...the three of us working together, in a quiet room, in the middle of the night, to accomplish this miracle of birth. It was the most amazing experience and felt just as it should be.

From the moment she was born she was instantly calmed in my arms and by my voice. I love that she knows me and finds her greatest comfort in my arms.

I was able to hold her in complete bliss for the first 15 to 20 minutes of her life.

Then she was weighed and measured, had her first immunization and was cleaned up.

Then I was able to nurse her for the first time. After that, she had her first bath by the most tender-hearted surgical tech who came to the labor and delivery floor to offer assistance and volunteered to give our baby her first bath. It was endearing to see this big tough man being so gentle with our tiny peanut.

He was bragging to the nurses that all the babies love his baths and they never cry for him...
our baby wasn’t so sure about that. :)

But it all ended well.

Soon enough, she was all bundled up and we were heading to recovery...just as the sun came up.

It was the dawn of a beautiful new day!

We are so thankful she is here and healthy and strong. She is an answer to countless prayers and she is truly a joy...our little Abigail Joy!

Sunday, September 4, 2011
born at 3:54 am
6 pounds, 1 ounce ~ 18 1/2 inches

Thanks again to our good friend, Diana, for photographing Abigail's birth story.