Sunday, September 23, 2007

Stars in the Darkness

Yesterday was Stake Womens' Day, and one quote from the keynote speaker was:
"Only in the darkness can we begin to see the stars."

I have always loved the stars. One of my favorite things to do while I was growing up was to lay outside on the trampoline at dusk and watch as the stars came out. When I first began this hobby, I was frustrated with a street lamp on the corner by our house, as it muted out all of the weakest stars. But as the nights wore on, I oriented myself so that the street lamp's light wasn't shining directly in my eyes, and I tried to focus on the beauty of the stars that I could see. In this position, my mind combed over hundreds of thoughts, experiences and ideas. Hundreds of scenarios; hundreds of conversations; hundreds of hymns. It was, to me, the ultimate definition of the verb: to ponder.

When Brian and I were dating, we would often lay on our backs to look up at the stars. Again, hundreds of conversations were had...and it was in this position one night (Brian told me later), when he started to fall in love with me. (Kind of strange that the conversation we were having that night was centered around 'muggles' from Harry Potter - - - very romantic.) For my 20th birthday, he gave me a book full of constellations, and we spent many nights searching for random pictures in the sky.

Yes. The stars are important to me.

So this quote struck a chord with me. I began to think about the dark moments in my life and the 'stars' that I was able to see because of that darkness. The brightest star of all is the star that represents God's love for me. I equate that in my life to the light of the moon; always visible at night, and even sometimes in the middle of the day. I hope someday the strength of God's love will be like the sun in my life - always there and visible until, as the Earth does each night, I turn my back on it's warmth. But, for now, the moon is enough. There are many other stars that have appeared from the darkness in my life; stars that are harder to remember because they're not always visible. Just as the street lamp muted out the weaker stars in my hometown sky, the fast pace of everyday life mutes out the weaker stars in my sky.

But, even though the stars and the moon are not always visible to me, I know that they are there - waiting for the light to fade just enough for them to show their brilliance.

And, even though my stars and my moon are not always visible to me, I know that they are there - waiting for the Lord to fade the light in my life just enough for them to show their brilliance.

Did You Make Me?

Last night we were on our way to Chapel Hill to visit a friend. The kids were both in their pajamas, the stars were out, and we were talking about the classical music playing on the radio - "Isn't that piano you like this song...that's a violin..." It was an experience that could be added to our small handful of peaceful car rides.

After a few moments of music-filled silence, McKenzie's sweet, soft voice asked, "Mommy? Did you make me, or forever have I been here?"

At first, I felt it was a trick question; but then I realized that it wasn't a trick at all. So I answered, "Heavenly Father made you a very, very long time ago, and you lived with Him. But then, three and a half years ago, Heavenly Father gave you to Daddy and me so you could come and live with us here in our family."

I thought that night, 'How wonderful it is that my testimony has been strengthened throughout my life enough to know how to answer that question with confidence.' Even a three year old wonders where she comes from...

I am so grateful to Heavenly Father for putting me through experiences that have cemented my knowledge of the 'basics', and to Mom and Dad for being there to guide me along the right path when those experiences almost derailed me - so I never again have to ask the question, "Did you make me, or forever have I been here?"

Friday, September 21, 2007

To Love or Not to Love...

Kenz got into the Vaseline the other day and smeared it all over her bathroom sink and counters. (Cute...)
It took me a day to get to it - but when I finally did, I used many paper towels, lots of cleaner and too much time.

As I was doing McKenzie's hair today (in her bathroom) she looked down into the sink and said, "Mom! There's no more goop in the sink! Did you clean it all up?"
"Yes I did." I replied.
"ALL by yourself?" she asked, astonished.
Confused by her astonishment I said, "Uh...yes."
"You didn't ask for ANY help?" Still astonished.
"Nope. I did it all by myself." Why was this so weird to her? Doesn't she notice that almost everything I do is 'all by myself'?
"Why didn't you ask me to help you?" she asked.
Ah-ha! It clicked: I usually make her help me clean up her major messes (much to her dismay).
"I did it because I love you." I said with a smile.
"Oh," she said, understanding, "so it's only when you DON'T love me that you make me help you."

Oh dear; wrong conclusion.

Monday, September 17, 2007

I Love Being A Mom!

What could be funnier than, upon hearing fits of laughter, turning around and finding this?

And, as if that weren't enough, this is the conversation I overheard McKenzie and Josh (cute little 2 year old pictured above) having while I was cleaning the kitchen:

Josh, are you pooping?
Josh: No, I'm just tooting.
Kenzie: I know, but is a little bit of poop coming out with the toots?
Josh: No, just toots. *pause* I have a diaper on.
Kenzie: That's good.
*After a couple of minutes*
Josh: I pooped.
Kenzie: I thought so.

Friday, September 14, 2007

One Of Those Days

*This morning we went to the park and, to McKenzie's horror, saw a dog. She really has this unhealthy fear of all dogs that I'm not sure what to do about. If we have one dog sighting during the day, the rest of the day is spent with uncontrolled emotions and lots of tears. Seeing a dog somehow sweeps the feet out from under her and she never quite gets back to normal. So, I was not excited when I saw our unwanted park companion this morning. But McKenzie shocked me: she panicked for a second right when she saw the dog, "MOM! MOM! WILL YOU HOLD......." she started to gain control " hand?" So I held her hand as we walked past the barking dog and straight to the swings.
"McKenzie!" I said, "I am so proud of you! You handled that dog so well!"
"Yeah, I saw the dog and said 'I am not a brave girl' - then, I changed my mind and said, 'I am a brave girl!'"

*Brian overheard this original song by McKenzie while she was in quiet-time. It melted my heart: "My mom is so beautiful. And she obeys Heavenly Father."

*Ever since McKenzie saw that her friend, Mikayla, had her very own Book of Mormon, McKenzie has been dying for scriptures of her own. So, this week for Family Home Evening (yes, we know it's Friday...) we drove down to the LDS store next to the temple (about 45 minutes away) and bought a stylish, blue, paperback copy of the Book of Mormon. She has been ecstatic! The whole drive home she leafed through the pictures and talked about Lehi and his family in the 'rin-den-ness'.

*On the way home from the LDS store, I told McKenzie we could go home and make a scripture bag for her with some of my old fabric. She said, "This is a WONDERFUL day! I get to go home and make a scripture bag after bedtime, when it's really dark outside!"

*Perhaps my favorite statement of the year: We were reading in her new scriptures tonight -

"And it came to pass that (Lehi) was obedient unto the word of the Lord, wherefore he did as the Lord commanded him." (by taking his family into the wilderness.)

I stopped and said to McKenzie, "Lehi was obedient, so - what did he do that was obedient?" McKenzie looked at me and in a very sing-songey tone she said, "Well . . . . Lehi went pee when the Lord told him to . . . . ."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Potential Homes

Our future is quickly approaching! That's right - residency interviewing season is just around the corner. We've applied to 30+ programs around the country, and thought we'd keep you updated on where we could end up (you'll see the new sidebar list on your left). Of these programs, we'll probably only interview at around 10 - I'll let you know to where we've accepted interviews by adding an "INT" next to the the City, State - and I'll delete cities as necessary or decided. We aren't really expecting most interview offers to come for another month or so, so if you have input on any of these cities - PLEASE share with us! We need all the info we can get!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Our Funny Kids

Sometimes, there's nothing better than being a mom!

McKenzie is such a silly girl! She loves to help fold the laundry (and even occasionally makes my work go a little faster). I wish I could have somehow captured the sweet patience she had as she was folding each and every one of these socks....

Carson woke up in the middle of the night for a little extra love, so I brought him downstairs for a few minutes. He tried to stand up to walk, but only made it about halfway before abandoning the thought (out of exhaustion, I'm sure!). He put his little head down on the ground and stayed there for 5 full minutes, rolling a ball back and forth. Football in his future? I kind of hope not...

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Labor Day at Jordan Lake

I'm finally catching up with our Labor day pictures! We went to Jordan Lake this past Monday with the Becks and Birdnos.

I had forgotten how much I LOVE lakes. Skiing, tubing and wakeboarding, cliff jumping and swimming in the shallow water, wave-running...there are so many fun things to do! My favorite was skiing. I idolized my dad for being able to get up on ONE ski - he was a good coach; I remember him spending hour after patient hour trying to get me up on that single ski. When I finally got it, he bought me my very own slalom ski - that was a great day!

Of course, we didn't have a boat last Monday - but great company made up for it. Besides, I think the kids had more fun playing in the sand and in the shallow waters than they would have sitting on a boat watching the rest of us ski. :)

Ready................... Set................. Go!!!!!

Eno River

We're so lucky to live where there are so many beautiful places to visit. The Eno Valley State Park is just a few miles from our home and provides cool hiking trails and a fun river to play in. We had a picnic on the rocks and played in the water a little bit. It was fun!

Friday, September 7, 2007


I sat here in my living room and watched 5-year-old Eric and 4-year-old Brigham play Nintendo last night. Not the complicated, 3-dimensional Nintendo with 'perfect' lifelike graphics - but the 1983 version with only 5 buttons on the controller. Memories came flooding to my mind as I listened to their conversations - I could feel their excitement...I remember that excitement.

Eric reminded me so much of myself: encouraging his little brother to jump a little further, and run a little faster, yet itching to get the controller back into his own hands.
Eric: You can DO it, Briggie! I know you can do it! Just run and jump - WAIT! Okay, now back up a little bit......
Eric couldn't sit still as he coached.

My mind flashed back to 1995: I was 13 years old on a Sunday afternoon. Church was over, and our family was just finishing up our Sunday dinner of roast and mashed potatoes.
"Brian!" I said to my 8 year old brother, "Hurry up and finish so we can go play Nintendo!" What I meant by 'so we can go play Nintendo' was really, 'so you can come and watch me play Nintendo.' I didn't need to explain this, however, because it was already understood. Brian loved to watch me play almost as much as I loved playing. And the times I loved the Nintendo the most were when my brother was sitting there with me. He would be dramatic if I died, he would cheer if I passed a 'hard spot', and he would tolerate an occasional punch in the shoulder if I got really frustrated. I still see him rocking back and forth on all fours, shaking his head in anticipation as I approached a 'hard spot'. "Okay, you've just gotta JUMP!" he said. I nodded my head in agreement as if I hadn't thought of that before.

Our excitement drew my sisters into the room as well. Pretty soon, all four of us were screaming, laughing, jumping and cheering in response to Mario. Jumping up to our feet with each near-miss, and falling to the ground with every lost life.

This is one of my most precious memories.

I felt nostalgic last night. And I wondered, "Where does the innocence of childhood go?" I can never recreate that memory. My 8 year old brother is now 20...our lives are so different now. And yet...

Later that night, after all the children had gone to sleep, I watched my husband and his good friend, Eric (Eric's and Brigham's dad), play the same game. And how funny! There were times when their excitement reached the same level as the boys' had hours earlier. Their voices were excited, and the controllers were occasionally thrown up into the air...
Brian: Okay, Dude, you've just gotta hit that block, then jump --- OHHHHHH!!!! Now you've made it hard! It's okay, it's okay - you can still do it...........
Eric's eyes squinted in concentration and he leaned in closer to the TV....
- True - as a whole it was generally more subdued. But it made me think:

Maybe we can carry a piece of childhood with us - forever.

Triathlon Training

Something doesn't feel quite right...

Okay, it’s true - we're training for a triathlon. We didn't know much about triathlons when we agreed to do it. Actually, all we really knew was that we'll need to swim for half a mile in the ocean, bike for 12 miles, and then run a 5K. Sure, we can do that!

Well. Our back muscles are sore from swimming, our shoulders are sore from rotating our arms through the water, our eyes are burning from chlorine. Our thighs are achy from biking, our butts are bruised because of the hard bicycle seat, and our calves and feet hurt from running. And yet, we seem to be enjoying ourselves! We've started learning a little more about triathlons - and everything we hear seems to generate the feeling of, "Uh - WHY are we doing this?"

We seem to have it all wrong. We could spend thousands of dollars making everything perfect: getting the perfect bikes, the perfect shoes (separate ones for running and biking, of course...I wasn't even aware that there were shoes specifically made for biking), the perfect attire (consisting of a good, tight swimming suit, leak-free goggles, running clothes, and biking shorts...preferably with thick padding in the rear), and perfect helmets (with optimal air-flow for comfort). I'm sure there are many more things of which I am unaware at this point.

But, we'll have to make do with one pair of mediocre shoes, one set of WalMart brand clothes, $5.00 goggles, old swimming suits (mine dates back to high school - I'm always hesitant to put it in the washer for fear of it falling apart), rusty, old bikes, and basic helmets.

Helmets – I’ve always known I have a relatively small head. So I wasn't surprised when the ‘adult’ helmets didn’t fit. But it was a bit discouraging when the ‘youth’ helmets didn’t even fit. I walked out of WalMart carrying a lightning-bolt helmet with a big “5-Years and up” sticker plastered on the top. I almost made McKenzie carry it for me. I don’t like lightning-bolts on helmets. It makes me feel like I’m supposed to go fast or something. But, it was either that, Barbie or Spiderman…designs are limited when your shopping the 5 year-olds helmet section. Maybe I should have grabbed Spiderman.

I don't have a time goal; I wouldn't really even know what to set it as at this point. My only goal: cross the finish line. Oh, and maybe to not vomit.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Sad Truth of the Matter

One of McKenzie's favorite places to be is in the swimming pool. Not the entire swimming pool, mind you...just the shallow end where she feels safe and in control of her 'drowning potential'. Carson, on the other hand, has no reservations at all. He has unintentionally submerged himself several times - always making my heart leap - and comes back up, coughing and smiling and ready for more.

As we were getting ready for another fun-filled afternoon at the pool side, McKenzie slipped into her adorable, i'm-so-excited-so-i'm-going-to-say-everything-that-comes-
into-my-mind, character. One of our conversations went like this (as we were driving back to our apartment from a different outing):
McKenzie: We're going to go home, park our car in our parking lot, then get out of the car and walk to the SWIMMING POOL!!
Brian: Nah, I think we'll fly instead.
McKenzie: HUH???? Fly??? Nooooooooooo. Silly Daddy!"
Brian: Why not?
McKenzie: Because. We don't have any pixie dust.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Learning to Rhyme

McKenzie came down the stairs earlier today in complete fascination. "Mom!" she said with one finger pointed up in the air, "'Go, Dog, Go' and 'Go'!!! They rhyme!" She was so excited about her new discovery that I didn't have the heart to correct her. So she repeated her finding to Brian when he got home from school, and then again to her little friend, Johnathon, when he came over to play. I wonder how long this will last... :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

King Mosiah and Quesadillas

Though my parents’ testimonies were quiet testimonies, I knew they were strong, and I never doubted that they knew, and loved, our Savior. We didn’t talk much about gospel principles, or scriptural insights, or answers to prayers. I didn’t see my parents reading their scriptures often, and it was a rare thing to see them kneeling in personal prayer (maybe because it was personal!). They tried off and on to hold regular family scripture study, family prayer and family home evening. Years of fast Sundays came and went without me physically hearing their testimonies. But, for our family, this worked. I knew they believed, and I believed because of them. I knew they prayed, so I prayed because of them. I knew they loved the Savior, so I strived to know Him better. I didn’t need much more than that.

But now, here, in this time, I fear that if I approach gospel principles in the same way, my children’s little testimonies may crumble. There are so many enticing evils that are becoming more and more accepted. I feel like I need to help my children put on their protective armor every morning and every night so they will be prepared to fight off temptations. I need them to come to me when their armor is torn or broken so I can help repair it. But they need to know that I can fix it. They need to know that I want to fix it. In other words, they need to know that my testimony is strong and that I want to help theirs grow. I don’t want it to be awkward to bring up a gospel related question; I don’t want it to be awkward to mention a tiny answer to a prayer, or a small understanding of a passage of scripture. I want my children to be able to tell me if they’re frustrated with a certain principle of the church, and I want them to tell me what they love about it. But in order for all of this to happen, I think I need to somehow bring up gospel related questions with ease, and I need to mention tiny answers to my prayers, and I need to talk about my small understanding of passages of scripture. So, I’ve been trying to do this, and a few days ago, McKenzie gave me a little validation.

It was lunch time in our of the busiest hours of my day. I had made McKenzie a cheese quesadilla and she was contently sitting at the table playing in the dipping sauce. I was standing at the kitchen stove getting ready to flip my own quesadilla in the hot pan and trying to figure out what I was going to feed Carson (who was, at this time, climbing up my leg and screaming). Through the ruckus of my baby’s cries and the sizzling quesadilla I heard McKenzie ask, “Mommy? Was it King Mosiah that was the bad king?” I was surprised at the sudden, heavy joy that filled my heart. It didn’t matter that she was wrong – what mattered was that the word 'Mosiah' came out of her little mouth as easily as 'Dora the Explorer' would have. My instinct was to stop everything I was doing to sit down with her and have a ‘teaching moment’…but given the circumstances, that was quite impossible. So, I simply answered, “Nope. That was King Noah we were reading about yesterday.” She nodded her head and went back to her quesadilla – the moment was gone.

I learned an important lesson: it is unnecessary to make every gospel related conversation a ‘spiritual’ conversation. What if I had stopped everything I was doing to sit down with McKenzie, look her in the eye and answer her question? Truthfully, it would have been a little weird for both of us, I think. And it could have discouraged her from asking questions like that in the future. Maybe simple questions deserve simple answers.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Where Did You Get Your Curly Hair?

Poor McKenzie doesn't like to get her hair wet. But, unfortunately, I can't do that curly hair without wetting it down first.
Today in church, McKenzie's nursery teacher rhetorically asked, "McKenzie, where did you get that curly hair?"
Her reply, "From water."
Oh, if only it were that easy!

McKenzie's First Day of Pre-School

She was so ready to go - I didn't even have time to shed a tear! I dropped her off at the front (she requested that instead of me walking her in), and she walked in without a glance back. There were a few tears shed by her when it was time to leave preschool, but I guess that's better than tears shedding because we have to go!

Carson enjoyed all the excitement, too!