Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Time is Near

I have always loved this time of year. It feels trite to say that, so many people do, but it is the only time of year when I feel like mankind is just that... a little bit kinder. I feel closer to other people because many of us are celebrating something special together. I wish that the feeling could be held on to year round - but I know that's a big wish. At this time of year it's easier to give to others selflessly. I suppose most of us are thinking of our Heavenly Father's greatest gift, his son, and it makes holding on to our money seem a bit silly.

Music is always the easiest way for me to feel uplifted, to feel the spirit. It is very powerful. Perhaps for that reason, my favorite thing about Christmas is the carols. I love the music at this time of year. I used to think I'd want to listen to it year round, but now I know I don't. I enjoy having it set aside, for this special time of year. My friend Jenna recently blogged about her five least favorite and five favorite Christmas songs. It's funny because I was already composing a post in my mind about my favorite songs. So, in response to Jenna asking about other's favorite songs, I'm going to share mine.

1. "The Little Drummer Boy"

This is by far my favorite Christmas song. It just seems to convey the meaning of Christmas in one perfect little story. The song is humble and meek, but also giving and grateful. I admit, I also really like drums and rhythm, I always have. I've had this song memorized for as long as I can remember. When I got my first apartment in college my mother bought me a little drummer boy that moved and played the drum. I put him under my tree and took such good care of him. My mother's favorite arrangement of the song was by David Bowie and Bing Crosby. I always thought that was funny since she was not a big David Bowie fan. If you've never heard it you really must. Now, I do love the original, unadulterated song, but this reminds me of my mother and the message is beautiful.

2. Handel's Messiah:  "Hallelujah"

No other song makes my spirit sore like this one. It's power is indescribable. I am moved to tears by the music, the words, the voices... It is joyful. This has to be similar to what those of us up in heaven sang when Christ was born. It is celebratory, yet reverent and respectful. I really don't have much more to add. The song speaks for itself.

3. "Christmas Song"

I love the innocence of this song. As the youngest in my family I know there is a part of me that will never really grow up. Songs like this bring back childhood memories and notions. Children are so pure in their intentions and thoughts. They really know what Christmas is all about. They love Baby Jesus and love that they get to celebrate his birthday. They have a pure joy and excitement that is contagious. This song also makes me laugh since my sister always thought it said, "Sweatsocks roasting on an open fire." She was like, "Why would you put sweatsocks on the fire and sing about it?" Hilarious! My favorite version of the song is by Karen Carpenter. Her voice was amazing, so smooth and classic. It never goes out of style.

4. "We Three Kings"

I love the story of the three wise men. Their faith is beautiful to me. These men were kings. They could have sent anyone to deliver gifts to the new baby, but they wanted to see him and worship him. They traveled so far and for so long, I don't think the scriptures give a good idea of how long it took them to find Jesus. My mother was so funny setting up her nativity. She would never let us put the wise men with the stable. She made us move them far in the distance. She reminded us that they didn't set out to find him until the they saw the star in the sky, when he was born, and had so far to travel that he was not a newborn when they got to him. But they did find him and knew who he was. The beach boys recorded, by far, my favorite version of this song.

5.  "O Holy Night"

Another song that tells the story of Christ's birth. Another song that makes my heart sing. It makes me wish I could sing it as beautifully as I hear it in my head. It gives reverence to this special day, but it also reminds us about his life's mission. It brings peace to my heart. Aaron Neville has the most amazing voice and I love the bluesy sound of his version.

Friday, October 26, 2012

My World Wordle

No, my title is not a mistake. I spent Monday at a great seminar learning how to infuse my classroom with technology. Of course, one site the speaker, Brian Housand, (who is awesome by the way) brought up was wordle.net. I had been to this site before but never really thought about how I could use it in my classroom. Boy do I have some ideas now! I digress... to play with the site a bit I put my blog into it and asked for the top 100, or was it 150, words. This is my wordle, which I guess is my world. I think I can do better. The large words are the ones that appear the most and so on down to the smallest ones. I need to blog more so, that in perhaps a year, there are fewer likes and goods. Guess I'm not such a hot writer after all! You may need to click on the picture in order to read it. If I make it too large it won't fit in this silly, skinny column. Enjoy and go play on the website. It's fun!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Always Gets Them Smiling

I started a new family tradition the first October we moved here to Virginia. A lot of drama was involved getting it going - namely that certain children almost didn't get to go - but in the end it was so worth it. Now it has never been a question whether we will go to the pumpkin patch or not, only a questions of when. There is something about walking through a field of pumpkins, growing on vines, surrounded by trees of orange, red and yellow that just screams fall. We've always had a good time. I always take a bunch of pictures. Other than Christmas it's probably the only time I can go through and see the changes in my children over the year. So, for our family that waits for new pictures of the childre here you are... It always puts a smile on everyone's face.

Too bad Bobby couldn't get Dillon's sunglasses on his head. It was a bit too bright for his taste.

Brooklyn's pumpkin looks like the perfect shape for a skull!

Caleb was the only kid that got an all orange pumpkin. He said it had a perfect, flat surface to carve on.

What Seth has in his hand are tiny, baby pumkins. I had to tell them to stop picking them though so they could keep growing!

This year the kids all seemd to want the green pumpkins. I thought they were pretty cool.  Dillon and Ayden both proudly carried their pumpkins this year. They are getting so big. Brooklyn is already a freshman in high school and it makes me wonder when she won't be joining us on this excursion - I hope it won't happen any time soon. This is always the perfect memory to begin a season of family, charity, thankfulness and good food!

Here a few extra shots - just for fun. Seems like I ended up with the most photos of Seth this year. One kid always ends up with a lot more than everyone else.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

How I Feel Today

Wait! I feel like this everyday! And I wouldn't change it for the world. Happy Mother's Day to everyone out there who has touched the life of a child.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Am I nosy or concerned?

I am seeking some honest feedback here. Maybe some of you have had a moment like this. I seem to have them often. (Maybe that answers my question.) Anyway, on Friday I went to the daycare to pick up my two youngest.
* Here and now I must say how much we love the woman that takes care of our children. She runs an in home daycare with her grandmother. She is completely professional, absurdly affordable, she teaches them colors, shapes, numbers, letters, the pledge, etc. And she loves my children. I couldn't ask for more. They've been going to her for a year and a half.*
Okay, back to the post. When I arrived she was on her front porch on the phone. This was unusual for her. She is only ever outside with the kids or maybe to take out recycling or trash. It also seemed like a serious conversation. That's just the vibe I got. I gave a little wave and walked into the house. As I walked out the door I was looking down at Dillon's little head. I heard her apologize for his graham cracker face and I joked that I dropped him off with a syrup face, so we were even. Then I looked up at her. Had she been crying? I wanted to ask if everything was okay, but I was halfway down the sidewalk at that point.
I put Dillon in his car seat and walked around to the driver's side. She was still standing on the porch, leaning on the rail. Again, I have never seen her do this, hang out by herself outside. It didn't bother me that she did. I would certainly need to take a break now and then with that many kids in my house. I started the car and waited for Ayden to get settled. As I pulled out of the driveway, I noticed her brush her fingers across her eyes, in a 'wiping tears away' fashion. I shared my concern with Bobby and he shrugged it off, but it is still bothering me.
I want her to be okay, I want her to be happy. I would hate to hear of anything happening to her or her family, not because it would affect me personally (which it could since she cares for my children), but because I care about her. My question for you is - am I incredibly nosy that it bothers me this much or am I caring and compassionate? This is something I've wondered about for some time and I guess I'm at a point in my life where I can deal with the answer I don't like - if that's the case. So, what do you think?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I used to think...

That being a mom was going to be such fun. I thought I'd be young and healthy and have all this energy to play with and enjoy my children. I never knew that young mothers could be afflicted with conditions that would make being a parent difficult. Naive, I know.

After I had Dillon I never felt very good. My energy levels were low and I had a lot of pain in my back, neck, arms, legs. I guess I should just say I had a lot of pain everywhere. I thought it was the way I was sleeping or that I was out of shape. There had to be a logical reason. But the pain got worse and my energy levels got worse. Bobby finally convinced me to go to the doctor where, after blood samples and tests (to rule out other problems), I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Unfortunately there is not a cure for it. It will always be around. I am taking some medication for it that helps reduce the symptoms, but as soon as things get stressful, it comes back full force. Currently my arms feel like rubbery lead (odd combo, I know) and I could have slept all day.

Now ask how this combines with having four boys. Not great. I want to go outside and play with them. I want to run and chase them and play hide and go seek with them. I simply can't. What I am grateful for are the days when I do feel good enough to go for a walk with them. It isn't every day but I enjoy it more because I can't do that every day.

Other times, I admit, I feel as though they are running circles around me. On those days I survive and then I am happy to check on them as they sleep. Boys are always most precious when they are fast asleep, don't you think?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Month of March

Carol and Bruce Orr (AKA Grandma and Poppy)
Two weeks ago, Bobby's father, Bruce Orr, passed away. Although he had cancer, and had been ill, it still happened very quickly. If I can remember past the whirlwind well enough, it was a month from diagnosis to his passing. We all thought there would be more time. In fact, that was the consolation he offered Bobby when he called with the news. He said, this cancer will be what I die from, but you will have time to get used to the idea of it. None of us felt we had time to wrap our heads around it at all. The last time I saw Poppy was in the hospital. We had taken the kids down after he had surgery, before his chemo, to visit him. He was tired but had a big smile for all of us. Bobby taught the little ones how to give him big hugs around his neck, so they wouldn't disturb his many tubes. He looked fondly on all the children. He spoke kindly and softly to them, as was his way. He shared his chocolate milk and ginger ale with them. He let Ayden and Dillon push his 'happy button' (his morphine line) then gave them a goofy grin and said it made him loopy. They giggled, hugged him goodbye and that was all. This song came on the radio yesterday and reduced me to tears. (The brackets are where I changed the words to express how I felt.)

[Last Wednesday evening] they let me know you were gone
[The busy] plans they made put an end to you
I woke up this morning and wrote down this song
I just can't remember who to send it to

I've seen fire and I've seen rain
Seen sunny days that I thought would never end
Seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought I'd see you again

Won't you look down on my Jesus you got to help me make a stand
You just got to see me through another day
My body's aching and my time is at hand
I just can't make it any other way
~James Taylor

That last verse is for Bobby. He has struggled to come to terms with losing his father. Having faith in our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) softens the pain of death. I know Poppy is in a better place. I know he no longer feels ill or tired. I know he has important work to do. However, it doesn't make the fact that we miss someone any easier. I shared with Bobby the parts that were difficult about losing my mother. I admitted to feeling jealous sometimes when I see my friends with their mothers, or grandmothers cheering for their grandchildren at sporting events. There are many times I have a question and want to call my mother so badly, but I can't. I know Bobby is going to encounter similar things. And it will hurt. But it will be fleeting.

Poppy's funeral was nice. Everyone had wonderful things to say about him. How could they not? He was a wonderful man. He touched many lives through his work, his military service, his church callings, and friends of his children's that felt his love, not to mention his own family. He was quiet, thoughtful, compassionate, considerate and humble. He was faithful. He loved his wife immensely and spoiled her as much as he could. The two were inseparable. The world needs more men like him. At his funeral one of my favorite hymns was sung, "O My Father". By the time we got to the last verse, I could only think of my mother and Bobby's father and could no longer sing. Choked up, I tried to get through it:

When I leave this frail existence,
When I lay this mortal by,
Father, Mother, may I meet you
In your royal courts on high?
Then, at length, when I've completed
All you sent me forth to do,
With your mutual approbation
Let me come and dwell with you.
~text: Eliza R. Snow

Then, Bobby's sister Teresa read a poem that Poppy used to read to the kids at bedtime. She expressed that he sent them off to sleep with this poem so it was only fitting that they send him off the same way. It was "Winkin' Blinkin' and Nod". At this point I was digging my nails into my palms so I wouldn't cry out loud. Before leaving we paused to get a photo of all the kids with their mom.
Ryan, Greg, David, Bobby, Mom, Eric, Liz, Teresa

As we arrived at the cemetery for the graveside service it had become very cold and overcast outside. Most of us had dressed for the mild spring weather we'd been having, so Bobby chuckled that it was Poppy's last laugh at us. His father was sent off with a 21 gun salute, a full military funeral. Bobby's brother Greg was the one to present the flag to his mother and it was beautiful.
The brothers all put their coats around the women and children to keep us from shivering. Uncle Eric went and got another jacket out of his car for Ayden and Dillon, and once again, amidst the tears, there were smiles and chuckles and love. Poppy would have been pleased.

Poppy had his time here on earth. He brought six, beautiful, successful children into this world. He worked hard at his career, his family and his faith. He had a purposeful life. We will all miss him so much, it doesn't even seem real yet. But I have found peace in the knowledge that he accomplished what he needed to in this life, and now I have another family member looking out for me beyond the veil. We love you and will miss you Poppy!

Ecclesiastes Chapter 3

1 To every thing there is a aseason, and a btime to every purpose under the heaven:

2 A atime to be born, and a time to bdie; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 A time to weep, and a time to alaugh; a time to bmourn, and a time to dance;

5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to aget, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 A time to arend, and a time to sew; a time to keep bsilence, and a time to speak;

8 A time to love, and a time to ahate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Tale of Two Trips

About a month ago Bobby's parents asked him to go to Kentucky with them. They had some items they needed to take to their home there. We figured he might need another driver to switch off with, so I decided to go too. It wasn't easy - we had to farm out our children, but everyone from our ward was so hospitable and took them in! It was only a two day trip. We drove up one day, spent the night, and came back the next. Along the way we visited with one another and laughed and shared stories. The eight hour drive went by quickly and we made such good time, it only ended up being seven hours. When we got into town, Bobby's sister Teresa and her husband, Bill, met us for dinner then followed us over to the house. Bobby's Aunt Carol met us there and, again, we had another pleasant visit. While we were there Bobby's mom gave us a quilt that I just love! As soon as we got home I bought two more pillows to add to the ensemble and I love the result! The trip was a nice little break. I wish Bobby's father had felt better, but it was still a pleasant time.
Teresa and Bobby (don't ask about the beard, I don't know what he was thinking.)
Our new quilt, thanks Mom, with the pillows from Target (on clearance, of course).

Last week we got to take another exciting trip! This time we got to take Dillon with us. So special. See, Caleb was playing this fun tackle game with Dillon. (Can you already see where this is going?) Dillon hunched over and sprinted toward Caleb, who dodged the attack. Unfortunately, he was standing in front of the glider ottoman. Oh yes, Dillon tackled a big piece of wooden furniture. It was lovely. Dillon on the floor, curled up, screaming, bleeding. Caleb cradling Dillon on his lap. What a great Saturday, huh? Now, with four boys, it may surprise you to know that this is the first time I have taken a child to the ER for a injury! I kid you not!

Bobby and I scooped up Dillon, cleaned the would, and determined that it was quite a gash. Bobby declared that stitches were in order so off to the ER we went. I sat in the back with Dillon, who whimpered a bit. He was cold so I covered him with his brother's jacket. Then, I did what any good mother does and photographed it so he could remember how pathetic he was.
Sorry it's blurry, I was a bit too close. Isn't that nice though? Lovely really.
The ER was not busy, thank goodness, and by the time we got him into a room he was distracted and happy. I let him play Angry Birds on my nook and all was right in the world.
Look at that, with all the hair in his face, you can't even tell he has a large gash over his eye!

They put some numbing goo on it so he wouldn't feel the shot he was soon to receive. Then, they covered it all with a large patch. He was a pirate and we made him say ARGH!
Ok, so the patch was not OVER his eye, but he loved the pirate idea so just go with me on that one. Once it was numb they gave him a shot. That was the only point that he whimpered. I'm sure it pinched a bit. As the NP stitched him up we talked to him and asked him questions. He sweetly answered "yes" and "ok" and even smiled from time to time. Eight stitches later and he was ready to go home! The NP declared him to be her favorite patient of the day. How could she resist, look at that face.
Dillon announced, "I took it like a man. Now can we go to Target?" We promptly complied and bought him a toy while there. I know, we're suckers, but if you saw how brave he was you would have bought him a toy too.

I could have certainly done without that visit, but I am grateful he was not hurt worse and that we had the money to cover it. I admit, I'm also so grateful Bobby was home so he could handle that one with me.


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