The Watchman

The Watchman

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Shining Stars: The Girls

When I started writing these blog entries about my children, I wanted to put in print my feelings for each of them. When the boys were young we had purchased multiple copies of the book I'll Love You Forever. If you have never read this children's story, make sure you have a box of tissue handy. In fact even if you have read it and choose to reread it, you better have a box of tissue handy. The focus of the book is the love between a mother and her son. I had used the books to write messages to my boys as they grew with the intent to give them to them when they married. Of course these were lost in the fire, so I felt a need to put in writing the love I have for my five beautiful children so that they will be able to read it often.

By the time we moved from Colorado back to Utah in 1997, we were sure our family was complete. Jon was only three, but we were focused on building a solid life for our family after years of travelling with school and the military. Before we knew it, Jon was in school and so was Rick and the time to have more children was gone we felt. Then something happened that set our lives on a new path. Rick started a new job in Ogden and the first thing he brought home was a severe case of strep throat. He was able to recover after a series of antibiotics, but it took a year of round after round of antibiotics and having my tonsils removed for me to regain my health.

At that time we also realized I was pregnant. Filled with confusion and concern regarding my ability to complete a pregnancy, we turned to our Heavenly Father in prayer. What we received was one of the most profound and definitive answer to prayer that I have ever received. We were wrapped in the arms of the Holy Ghost, He whose mission is to provide Comfort to all of His Father's children. We were also provided with the knowledge that we would have two more children who had been patiently waiting - one with dark hair and one that was blonde, but that the baby I was pregnant with was not one of them. Shortly after that prayer and answer, I did miscarry, but the knowledge that we were to have two more children remained.

Now you may wonder why I am sharing such a personal experience. First many people assume that because of the age difference between Jon and Lela that she must have been an oops and so we had Emily as well. I want them to always know that they were wanted and planned. Second on this day of Thanksgiving, I feel compelled to express my gratitude for a Heavenly Father who I know does hear and answer prayers. He loves each and every one of his children and knows us just as I know the children I have been blessed with and is willing to care and aid us if we ask.

LelaJane and Emily

Yin/Yang is the concept that comes to mind when I think of these two firecrackers. Not only in looks are they two sides of a coin, they have always relied on each others strengths as they have made their way through their lives. Emily has always been Lela's baby and Lela has always been Emily's hero. Yet I see Lela draw courage and confidence from Emily's presence, just as Emily can be calmed and focused by Lela. One of their favorite tricks is to tell people that they are twins. Then they both will just giggle leaving the questioner confused. When one is sick, the other is there to take care of her sister. When one has a game or performance the other has to be there to cheer her on.

As they have gotten older, their interests have diverged. Lela is more athletic. She loves tumbling, swimming, volleyball, etc.; anything that keeps her moving. Lela is determined. When she was five, she decided she wanted to learn to ride a bike. She spent one day at the park practicing on the grass and then everyday she would practice on her own in our driveway. One day she told her dad to take off her training wheels. He was cautious about doing that, but he did at her persistence. Off she went. She had done it. She approaches everything this way.

Emily is more artistic. She loves to craft. She can take paper, scissors, tape and glue and create amazing things. One day when she was only three or four, Rick stayed home from work ill and decided to keep Emily home with him. I came home to find that at some point during the day, Emily had crafted herself a doll from paper, aluminum foil, tape and a glue bottle. Rick was totally unaware that this had happened. Needless to say Emily went to daycare from then on when Rick was home. But it also shows how self-sufficient Emily has become. As a youngest child, you would normally think she would be used to being taken care of, yet she is the one who takes care of everyone else. She loves to cook and is always helping in the kitchen. She is the one who will make sandwiches or snacks for her siblings or get a bowl of cereal with milk. She will tell you how everyone likes their cereal if you ask.

Lela and Emily are just starting to discover themselves. Soon they will be separated during the day as they attend different schools. Last week I was discussing with them that once Lela starts Intermediate School, they will not be in the same school again till high school. At first they both giggled and thought it was funny, then they both looked at me and asked if I was sure. I could see them trying to imagine a day without the reassuring hug at recess or the high five in the lunch room.

I can't imagine these two going through life without each other. Their arrival caused a fundemental change in our family, but it was a change for the better. Our home is filled with song and with dancing. They bring sunshine and selflessness. As complete as our family seemed before, it truly wasn't complete until they arrived. As a further testimony to Heavenly Father's awareness, Lela was born one year to the day of my miscarriage and Emily was born at the estimated due date of that same baby.


A friend asked me why I hadn't posted anything lately. My recent post about the boys actually took two months to write. I have to admit that I have been suffering from a bout of depression. I keep thinking that there is no reason that I should be depressed. Our house is finally under construction, we have a roof over our heads, my job is stabilizing so I can somewhat catch up and not spend all my time putting out fires, Rick's job continues to engage him and our children are all doing well. Yet this feeling of being overwhelmed and not able to cope continues. I break into tears with the least provocation and not even a round of retail therapy works. In fact a trip to the grocery store can be exhausting. The reality is that we have not been taking care of ourselves physically, mentally or spiritually. It is too easy to focus on the negative aspects of our situation and let the stress overwhelm us and impact our health. We have had a wake up call and are working on putting things back into perspective.

Here are some thoughts I have had recently on perspective. As we worked to finalize our house plans, alot of time and effort was put in to insuring that we were building a home comparable in size and features to our former home. In order to reduce the size of the footprint on the lot, we have added a basement. We have also been in a couple of homes that have been built using the same basic floor plan, so it is interesting to see how the perception of the lot and our house changes as the construction begins. We have gone from our lot is huge to will the house be able to fit; from "Mom, this really can't be our house and garage, because it is no bigger than the playhouse" to "Oh my heck, do we really need all this room?" (The bank says yes to that question.) Just as our property space is being redefined, the perspective we use to look at life defines and redefines us.

Here are some stories of inspiration that I have witnessed the last couple of months that have truly inspired - Friends who were in the process of moving from their home worked to insure that my children would not have to move again until our new house was built; a dear friend who while coping with a life-changing crisis with her son had the courage to make a fundamental change in her own life and yet still had the awareness and compassion to share her love and home with others; a young couple facing both the challenges of new baby and life-threatening illness continued to put others ahead of themselves and were amazed and humbled at the response of others to them; dear friends who face their challenges with a sense of humor and gratitude for their blessings; business owners who go above and beyond the normal course of business time and again with no expectation of compensation even when it impacts their personal life; the men I work with on a daily basis who go out of their way to serve the community with integrity, professionalism and compassion knowing that their efforts will probably never be recognized; and an amazing community that steps up time and time again to help each other truly exempliflying the Savior's admonition to love thy neighbor as thyself.

As always, I am inspired by my family - parents who continue to give and serve their children while setting an example of unconditional love and faith; my children: Hunter who continues to faithfully serve the Lord and people of Montana even when faced with opposition, his list of gratitude was truly humbling (family, friends, my mission, beautiful sunrises, scriptures, prayer, my testimony, church leaders, the prophet, Montana, cars, heaters, trench coats, house, the fire that burned our house, snow, trials, people who tell us no, people who tell us yes, other missionaries, President and Sister Gardner, food, this country, the soldiers that laid down their lives defending freedom, the soldiers that are still fighting, technology, science, school, education, mail, money, clothes, rain, sunshine, moonlight, stars, this Earth we have to live on, Mormon Tabernacle choir, other music, movies, chess, board games, card games, my health, my life, my eyes, my fingers, my mouth, my hair, my legs, my brain, my heart, chemistry, history, math, English, talents, gifts, the love of our Heavenly Father, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and especially the atoning sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ), and for Wil, Jon, Lela and Emy who have faced this year with courage, humor, resiliency, compassion, faith and love. I am in awe at how even the youngest has stepped up to take care of themselves and each other so that Rick and I can focus on work, insurance companies and contractors.

I am so blessed.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Shooting Stars - The Boys


As I stated before I know that my doctor was truly guided while tending me through my pregnancies. When I was in labor with Wil, each contraction would bring a reduction in his heartrate. The nurses told me that it was just that the contractions were confusing the monitor. When it came time to push though, they realized that it was more than that. My attending nurse explained that she thought we were going to need a C-section since Wil's heartrate would go dangerously low. Just as she went to leave the room to call the doc, he opened the door. He said he felt impressed to come check on me. No time was wasted and Wil was delivered without a C-section.

It was also during this pregnancy that I first heard Dr. Hartman utter the phrase "You're not in labor. You're in misery." This was in reference to contractions that did nothing to progress delivery. There are times when I still wonder if Wil will ever stop giving me "misery" pains.

Wil has always been the most daring of my boys. When the kids were little, I would store the cookies/candy on top of the refridgerator so that they were not easily accessible to small hands. This changed when I walked into the kitchen one day to find Wil on the fridge. He had used a system of chairs, counter top and small appliances to reach the cookies. By the way, he was only two at the time. Yes, he is very ingenious.

Something else that has always amazed me about Wil is how self-contained he has always been. He very rarely loses his temper. In fact when he is angry or upset, he will go off by himself, not to sulk but to regain his composure. He has been this way since he was very little. At the time we lived in Virginia he was about two years old. One day I had put the kids down for a nap and then went to rest myself. When I went to check on the kids, Wil was gone, blankie, Barney and all. The doors were all still shut with the security chains safely in place, the windows were still shut, yet Wil was no where to be found.

At the time we were living in a 14' x 70' trailer in a park just off a busy highway. We had only taken one car with us when we moved across the country and Rick had it at work. I went outside to look for him, just in case he had found some way out of the house that I could not imagine - no sign of him. I called and left a message for Rick to call me. I was just about to call the police when the door to one of the kitchen cabinets opened and out came Wil. He told me that Hunter had been bugging him so he couldn't sleep, so he went to sleep in his "cave" to get away from him.

Wil is the most compassionate of all my children. He is the first to notice when someone needs help and seems to have an ability to offer the right help at the right time. He has always been very observant and notices things that most people would not even recognize. He is the one who made the first finds at our home as we went through the rubble.

He is also my child most willing to test limits. He once asked me how I always knew what he was going to do before he did it. I replied that there is nothing he could do that either his dad or I didn't try at one point in our lives. I have often joked that when my mom uttered that phrase, "I hope you have a child just like you one day!", she was talking about Wil. I know that what she meant to be a curse has also been a blessing to me, because in Wil I see the best parts of me as well.

All children dream of what they want to be when they grow up. Wil has wanted to be an engineer designing rollercoasters, an artist, a comedian and right now he is planning on majoring in music to become a music teacher. He also plans to fund his future endeavors by competing on and winning Survivor as the youngest contestant ever.
I know that whatever the future holds for this son, he will approach it with a positive outlook and a sense of humor.


Content is the word that first comes to mind when I think of Jon. When he was little he would love to just sit and let Hunter and Wil entertain him. It became a game with his older brothers to see who could get him to laugh the most. I contribute this to the fact that he got most of his crying out in the first two months of life. From the moment the sun went down, till it rose the next morning, Jon would scream. During the day he was fine, but at night the only way we could keep him calm was to keep him rocking in his swing. This was before battery operated swings, so Rick and I would take turns winding the swing and drowsing before it stopped. Luckily this ended right when he turned two months old, and he hasn't done much crying since.

Jon is steady and dependable. He holds the course on what he knows is right. At times we have had to explain the whys, but once he understands, there is never a deviation. Jon has an inner calm that is contagious. I have heard more than one person say that whenever they are upset, they just need to be with Jon and he will calm them down. With Jon, what you see is what you get and this is reassuring.

When Jon was little, he needed glasses in order to see. He was about 18 months old when he got his first pair. The doctor told us that in his experience, we would probably have a problem keeping them on Jon, since small children did not like the extra weight on their face. The reality is we had just the opposite problem. Every night when we would put Jon to bed, he would cry when we took his glasses off. This continued until we found a special place for them to be set at night that he could easily reach in the morning. When he could finally explain to me why he was so protective of his glasses, he told me that without them, he would see two of everything. Wearing glasses literally brought the world into alignment for him and he was afraid of losing that .

On the day of the fire that destroyed our home, I was overcome by the strength and courage of this son. When his dad yelled for everyone to get out of the house, this son had the presence of mind to grab the dogs' leashes, then got a garden hose and held the water from the back of the house till we could get out. He was so determined to help us get out, that by the time we realized he had not followed us around the house and Rick called for him, he could not get through the fence in the same place we had and had to jump the fence farther down. Yet having been through that, he was the one who took care of his sisters and kept them entertained while I made phone calls and his dad stayed at the fire.
And that is Jon - steady, calm, easy-going, dependable and did I mention smart. Jon has always loved to learn. When his brothers would come home, he would sit with them while they did homework. By the time he started preschool, he knew every song and poem that his brothers had learned. He continues to greet every new year and new experience with excitement.