Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Because this will get to you SO much faster than an envelope.....

DeVault 2011
A Monthly Play-by-Play

Phill begins year in typical fashion, with surgery—this time on his elbow.
Rae begins year praying for a miracle—the chance to stay in Saint George.

Receive news that we're NOT moving to Spokane, Washington.
Watch the Packers win the Super Bowl.
Feel that Saint George will be our permanent home.

Think about house-hunting in Saint George.
Rae finally allows Reed to bike to school on his own.
The entire half-mile.
And only calls the school once to make sure he made it there intact.

Begin house-hunting in Saint George.

Find dream house, make an offer.
Celebrate Phill's birthday.
Host some of Phill's side of the family for an epic, wonderful visit.
Find out we ARE Grand Prairie, Texas.
Find out offfer on dream house is approved.
DeVaults mad. Very mad.
Celebrate Savvy's 4th birthday.

Cram in time with family and friends as much as possible.

Cram belongings into boxes as much as possible.
Blow stuff up. (A very cathartic 4th of July.)
Happily spend time at Rae's parents' new house in Salt Lake City.

Sit tight at the Davis home in Oklahoma.
Try to find a house in Dallas.
Try to find a house in Dallas.
Try to find a house in Dallas.
Celebrate Rae's birthday.
See small miracles wrought—find house in Dallas.
Celebrate Jaxon's 6th birthday.

Move into our house.
Puzzle over the “quirkiness” of house.
Enjoy the overall prettiness of said house.
Boys start school.
Boys hate school.
Savvy loves boys at school.
Rae loves the GPS.

Receive church callings.
See more small miracles--Boys love school.
Kids love church.
Meet many new, friendly people. (Practice saying, “Hey, ya'll!”)
Joyfully welcome our first UT visitor

Celebrate Reed's 9th birthday
Enjoy Thanksgiving at the Davis home
Rae using the GPS significantly less.

Make treats
Make messes
Make plans
Rae through the roof (happy) when second UT visitor shows up
Count our blessings
(too many to count)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Quotables, take 2

Savanna has taken to using big-ish words lately, mostly when she's angry. It is VERY hard to keep a straight face when she states emphatically, "Mom, it's the intentioner." It's even harder not to laugh when the big word makes a little sense, like today, when I said, "Savvy, you need to be nice," and her yelled response was: "Quit REMINDING me!"

Jaxon, today:
"Mom! I made an A-B-A pattern with the couch pillows!" (Indeed he had. Solid pillow, patterned pillow, solid pillow.)

"Mom, today our teacher did something really weird."
"Yeah. There was a kid stuck up at the top of some of the playground equipment, and--"
"Did she climb to get him?!"
"YES! It was SO WEIRD!"
"Well....actually Jax, that's kind of cool, since he needed help getting down."
"Yeah, but it looked like she was a grown-up playing on the equipment."

Friday, November 18, 2011

“She’s got a whole shoebox of ‘em….dangly ones.”

(Name that movie! It’s even a holiday one, probably my favorite Christmas movie. )
So I made my necklace hanger a couple years ago, and at the time, I enjoyed it. I noticed lots of faults with it, but didn’t really mind.
But recently I got a wild hair up my butt (pardon the expression, but I do love it) and decided I was tired of it. (The necklace hanger….not the wild hair up my…well, you get the idea.)
It was such an easy fix that I really didn’t see much need to document it; all I did was buy a placemat, which I cut into two pieces (one for the whole background, and one for the strip up top). No sewing involved, just used the already-finished-edge for the edge of the strip at the top. I used duct tape on the back of the picture glass to secure the placemat. (Who cares if I used duct tape on this pretty little thing? You can’t see it…) And then the rings are just clip-rings. I don’t know what else to call them; I found them at Target.
As for the earring-holder, I just cut/taped a placemat (plastic) and some ribbon to suit my tastes. Seriously. That’s all. Just right onto the picture glass.
Ready for photos?
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Savvy, when I told her to come inside because it was dark out, kept putting her hands out, palms-up and saying emphatically, shaking her head, "You can't DO this to me, Mom! You can't!" When I burst out laughing (couldn't help it), she let a smile sneak onto her face, and said, "You can't catch me!" and then darted away. I shrugged and began to walk to the door....she followed me in.

Jaxon, when I asked him what two songs he wanted to hear before bed: "Well, Mom, [pause, smacks lips] I would like to sing you something I learned in school today." Then he begins to sing, "One, one, one, you're so much fun, fun, fun. Two, two, two, I sure like you...." By the time he got to "Seven, seven, seven, simply heaven, heaven, heaven," I was done for. Totally crying.

Reed, during a discussion we were having about choices and the religion you choose, at one point swooned and fell back on his covers, saying dreamily, "I love being a Mormon!" Earlier in this conversation, he said fiercely with clenched fists, "I will never give up being Mormon!" This conversation, too, had me in happy tears by the end.

Savvy: "So, Mom...." She brushes the hair out of her eyes and purses her lips together. "I'm crushing on Surf and Cody. Who are you crushing on?"
            "Um....Daddy. Always Daddy. Because...."
 Savvy: "Because he's your husband! Right?"
Savvy: "And you only crush on Daddy, right? Because you go on dates?"
            "Right. And he's my husband."

Jaxon: Mom, I saw Reed at school today. It almost made me cry because I missed him after I saw him.

Reed: Mom, I wish Jax was in my class.

Monday, November 14, 2011

In which I wax fanatical on the topic of BOOKS....

My earliest "book memory" is of a time when I was 4 or 5, I believe, and cuddled next to my mom on her bed, sharing an open book. I remember distinctly the moment it clicked in my brain that if you put "c", "a", and "t" together, it spells something. I remember reading, "cat", and then looking at my mom with huge eyes (hers were wet) as I realized that I had READ.

When I was 8 or 9, I would sit down at the table with a big bowl of chocolate ice cream and an installment of Nancy Drew. Suspense + chocolate = A very happy little girl. 

When I was 17 years old, I had plenty of leisure time between seminary and (on my part, very lazy) homeschooling to read. On average, I would read 5-12 books a month, depending on the size and content of each book. Some I would toss after the first three sentences. Others I would devour in a few hours, then walk around aimlessly, pretending to be doing my math work. ( mother was a great teacher, and I was a horrible student. It is not yet my gift in life to be self-disciplined; I've had to work at it and still have to.)

Through these last ten married and childbearing years, my reading has been slower, more deliberate, and sometimes nonexistent for weeks at at time. So many times it was just far more appealing to sleep than to read. But my life has un-busied itself in many ways with the boys in school and Savvy out of toddlerhood. While my baby hunger hasn't quite left, I do understand that I ought to take full advantage of this time that isn't spent diaper-changing, breastfeeding, or sleeping. At this time in my life, I do have more time to read, and I have definitely been making use of that time. I thought I'd share some of my old fail-proof favorites, as well as some recent wonders I've been recommended.  (How's THAT for a protracted introduction?!)

1. If I have to pick a favorite book, it would be The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver). I'm fairly certain I've written about this before, or at least mentioned it. I read it in 2002, and I loved so many things about it. Four daughters--similar enough to my family of five girls and two boys. A preacher father--my dad was a chaplain! Living in Africa and trying to adjust during crazy political upheaval--well, the craziest upheaval we could claim would be Just Cause, but we certainly moved around and tried to adjust. Not only are there those wonderful parallels I identified with, but the writing! Oh my lands. The writing. So beautiful. Poetic. Delectable. Heart-rending. Fascinating.

2. This might tie with number 1 for a favorite. Okay, yes. It does. My sister Liz recommended it to me in August, and from the first paragraph, I was hooked. Hey--Anna? Camilla? You loved Jane Eyre? You will EAT THIS ONE UP. Modern Gothic romance. The Thirteenth Tale (Diane Setterfield) is not only beautifully written (exquisitely written), but the story....oh, the STORY! (I'm shout-typing.) Vida Winter's writes tons of novels in her lifetime, all of them fictitious and incredible. Journalists always ask her about her background, about whether the details in the stories are autobiographical. She always spins a new story in response, never allowing them to know her true personal story, until she's dying and invites a biographer to hear her life story. The book is her life story,'s incredible.

3. Maybe I can't have ONE favorite book, because, well, this ties for third place, too. Can't help it. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte). I read it when I was 14 and swooned all the way through, crying and clutching the book to my chest. Pretty sure I shouted a few times, too. I love Jane. I love her. She is so good, so pure, so honest, so loving, so brave, so intelligent, so forgiving. I'm a sucker for a good book heroine, and she set the bar pretty high.

4. The Fledgling (Jane Langton). I believe I read it when I was 12. I'd read it again, and not just because I love children's lit. The Fledgling is one beautiful glorification of nature and childhood, peppered with Thoreau and gorgeous descriptions of his pet spot, Walden Pond. It's about a girl who is taught to fly by geese, for Pete's sake! How can this not be a beautiful read? I just remember that it made a lasting impression on me. (Plus, the illustration of her house looks like a dollhouse.)

5. A Room Made of Windows (Eleanor Cameron). Every now and then, I would find random '70s era books in the library. Sometimes they were really weird and included allusions to or plots around things I didn't really grasp, but this one didn't do that. The illustrations (few) are really beautiful and had my imagination going. And the fact that the girl loves to write was a huge plus, too. I think I read it when I was 11.

6. I love books by John Bellairs. (Examples: The House with a Clock in Its Walls & The Letter, The Witch, and The Ring) I believe they were written in the '70s; I read them from age 14-17 and enjoyed the incredible suspense of each one.

7. The Help (Kathryn Stockett). I used to resist jumping on the book-bandwagon and reading books I'd heard everyone talk about. Until Harry Potter--and then I realized right around the time that everyone was diving into the fourth book that I had been stupidly missing out. So now I usually make it a point to at least try the books that everyone's shouting about, if I'm interested. This one lives up to the hype. I was ugly-crying and hitting things, drawing curious and concerned looks from Phill. I talked about it for a good week after finishing. I read sections aloud to Phill whether he wanted me to or not. It's such a beautiful piece of literature.

8. Peace Like A River (Leif Enger). I actually bought this book over a year ago, intending to read it, but letting it wait at the bottom of a long list. I read it in September, finally! It's the story of a boy who has asthma, a literary-gifted sister, a wayward brother, and a dad who works miracles. The writing conveys such compassion, and I was further moved when I read that the author's own son has asthma. The way Leif writes about the son's asthma shows that he clearly has deep understanding and sympathy for what his real-life son must go through. A really uplifting book.

9. The Book Thief (Markus Zusak). I can't talk about this book enough. I left tear-stains all over the library copy. I cried the ugly-cry, sitting on the couch, trying to explain to Savvy what I was feeling. I sat quietly after I finished, trying to process it all. I talked to a friend on the phone after she had read it, fielding her questions/laments like a therapist, rejoicing with her over all the high notes. The incredibly beautiful descriptive writing stays with me, as do the characters....I miss the characters. I met them, I knew them.

10. These Is My Words (Nancy E. Turner). I read this in September. This historical fiction novel is written in the form of journal entries, something that used to bug me--but in this book, it doesn't at all. Sarah settles in Arizona Territory and experiences all that comes with it--Indians, rattlesnakes, floods, fires, soldiers, love, death, childbirth, etc. It also follows her literary progress--her learning to read and write, progress that is beautifully paralleled by her emotional progress. You'll miss her when you're done.

11. The Cry and the Covenant (Morton Thompson). Reading this right now. My dad recommended this to me in the midst of a conversation we had wherein I was enthusiastically detailing all the things that I love about birth, while talking to him about another book. It's about the first OB/GYN who suggested that maybe washing hands is a good idea. (Crazy. I know.) This was back in the day when it was a mark of prestige to have a dirty (read: vitreous matter) lab-coat. Sick, huh? Not for the weak-stomached, but OH, this book is incredible. Note: It was hard for me to find a cheap copy of it; it was written in 1949.

12. The Birth House (Ami McKay). I read this in July. Even if you're not birth-babies-labor-obsessed, this is a great novel. Takes place in Nova Scotia during WWI. It's about a girl who finds her calling as a midwife and is beginning her career at the time of Twilight Sleep and doctors' emergence into the birthing world as prominent figures, along with their belief that birth was a medical emergency and something best left in the hands of the doctor. (Even over the discretion of the mother.) I yelled a lot through this book. But I loved it, too!

And now, because it is late and my eyes are burning, I'm going to just add on a short list, without descriptions, of some others that I've loved:

The Overlander series (Suzanne Collins, YA fiction)
The Chronicles of Narnia 
The Mysterious Benedict Society series (three in the series so far; Trenton Lee Stewart)
Dragonwyck (another Gothic; Anya Seton)
Wuthering Heights (oh, those Bronte sisters....this one's by Emily)
Pride and Prejudice
Sense and Sensibility (I like S&S better than P&P, and I hated Emma enough that I couldn't finish the book)
Northanger Abbey (Also by Jane Austen)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Friend Series: Anna Pectol

I knew Anna only a little in our ward in Cedar City, but she has become a wonderful friend through the great connecting powers of the internet. :)

How do you know Rae?
 I know Rae several distant ways- we were introduced when we lived in the same neighborhood and in the same ward, but mostly I am a fan of Rae's blog.

What do you do for a living?   I try to be a homemaker.  HA!  I'm really not very good at it, but my living right now is taking care of my family- being here for my kids and keeping the house clean and homey.  That's the HA! part, I've never been a good housekeeper.

What do you want to be when you grow up? (Translation: What is your dream?)  My grandmother or, at least, just like her.  She has an immense amount of love she shares with all she knows, and her greatest love is the Gospel.   I was quite determined to name my baby girl after her, so she carries Phyllis as her middle name.  I want to be a missionary with my husband, visit my grandchildren, be available to help my kids, and maybe figure out gardening and genealogy.

Tell us about your family/the people you love.  Ah, I could go on all day but I'll start with the immediate for now.  I have a good husband, Jeff and four wonderful children.  Abby is almost 8, and challenges me every day to be a better person.  Harvey is 5 1/2 and a delightfully imaginative boy.  Willard just turned 3, he's my mellow child.  Sarah is the baby (for now at least), she loves to give loves to all of us.   They fill my heart with joy just thinking of them.  I'm the product of a very large family- 20 ish Aunts and Uncles and 50+ cousins- on each side. I absolutely love that part of my life.  My grandparents are my heroes.  I'm also blessed with good in-laws and am grateful for their friendship every day.

What interests you?  So many things!   A lot of them are mother related-  natural birth,  teaching my children, cooking (I love to cook!).  Beauty.    Yoga and pilates, running- whatever makes my body feel strong and healthy.  Reading has always been my passion, but I don't have much time for it lately.    People, I love learning about cultures, history, where people come from.

What five things make life sweet for you? What really makes you happy?   (See the above answer about my husband and kids)  That's five, but let's call it 1, just so I can list others.  2-Service.  In high school I discovered the joy of serving others, it's impossible to wallow in self-pity while serving others!    3-The Gospel/ Studying the scriptures.   Maybe it sounds cliche but it really does make me happy to know such good news and to be able to study it on my own.  4-Nature.  I'm so glad I live in Southern UT, being out in the beautiful outdoors seems to expand my whole heart to include it's beauty too.  5-  Being physically fit-  I love to  hike and play with my kids, and I dream of doing the St George Marathon someday.  But I have a goofy back  and right now tight muscles are causing a lot of pain.   I miss being fit and strong and am working on returning to the point where I felt physically well.

Do you have a phobia? Falling and suffocation.  I don't mind heights if I can't fall from them- give me a rail or an airplane and I love it.  Cliff edges are another story- it makes my love of hiking kind of interesting sometimes.  I also can NOT stand to have something tight around my throat or covering my face, it causes a sense of panic that I'm suffocating, even if I'm not.  Even as a very little girl, hair in my face gave me nightmares at night, and I can't wear turtlenecks unless it's really really freezing- they're torture.

Do you have a favorite book? Jane Eyre.  Her sense of integrity is incredible, and she is so strong and forgiving- a lot of good qualities I like.  I also <3 Anner of Green Gables and the Narnia books.  They have all inspired me to try and be a better person.  Maybe that's the other reason I've grown to love the scriptures as an adult too.

What is one technological advance you wish hadn't taken place?   That's a hard one, most advances are basically good,  but if I had to  pick--  Cell phones.  I know they are great for emergencies, and I like knowing that my family can reach me at any time they need to.  But I think the attitude that we should be able to reach anyone at any time, anywhere they may be has kind of contribute to a lack of manners in our general attitudes.   But then again, thank goodness I can reach you anytime, because it's hard enough for me to remember to make the first call!

Hypothetical question: You've been imprisoned in a 10x10 cement cell, a political prison for dissenters of the dystopian, futuristic culture where this hypothetical situation takes place. You are allowed exactly three things. What three things have you chosen to bring with you? Feel free to elaborate, or to just leave your answers as-is.   My scriptures.  I'm assuming there will be a source of light for me to read them by.  Family Picture.  One of the blankets my grandmother made so I'd have something soft to lay on, and the smell of home with me too.

If you ever imagine a utopian society, what is that society like? What kind of government (if any)? What sorts of houses, countries, etc?   When I imagined my perfect world as a child, my family all lived in the same neighborhood.  ALL of them.   Aunts, Uncles, cousins.  We all built houses on my Grandfather's farm.   Want someone to play with?  Pretty much guaranteed a load of buddies.  Need to learn a new skill?  One of them knows, we'll go sit down in their kitchen/living room/ garage and figure it out.  Not feeling well?  No worries, so and so is here, all is taken care of.  Of course playing outside is always safe, because your family loves and watches over you.  My mind never went past my little commune of family, lol.  But if the world were like that- what could go wrong?

What do you think is the most important thing a human being can contribute to this life?  Love.  Is that a cop-out answer?  There are many ways to contribute love, but if we haven't done so- what was the point of living??

What is your favorite memory with Rae?   A pilates class she substituted.  Not only was she a great teacher- she said I was a great student!!  Being relatively new at pilates, I didn't feel I was doing all that great, but I had been giving it my best effort and was grateful to know I had developed well!

What is your weirdest memory with Rae? Weirdest is hard, as we've never really hung out together.  I'm trying to think if I've ever had a bizarre dream that you popped into.  That happens sometimes. But... nope, you're of the hook for this, lol.

Why did you agree to do this interview?  Curiosity mostly.  I was curious as to what you'd be asking about.  I like a lot of the subjects you've shown an interest in (birth, homeschooling, marathon training, motherhood).  And I like your blog.  So I thought I'd take a chance to contribute and see what you'd ask ME.  Even though you don't know me well since I'm a blog SLACKER.  Kind of silly I guess, but oh well.
Anna is not a slacker, is a wonderful mother, friend, and Pilates student, and blogs HERE.

(P.S.-Anna, I read a wonderful book recently, These Is My Words, that is in the form of journal entries of a Western settler woman. As she has more kids, the journal entries get further and further apart, a little note of reality that I particularly appreciated. So no apologies for far-spaced blog posts. Nothing but love for you from this corner.)

Monday, October 24, 2011


In the summer of 2005, when I was aching with both pregnancy and my husband's absence, I met Flora.

We had just purchased a little point-and-shoot digital camera. I enjoyed pointing it at Reed, my burgeoning belly, and anything else that struck my fancy.

One day while Reed and I were on a walk, across the street from our apartment, we stopped to admire Flora's front yard. Rose bushes bordered the emerald-green grass, and tiger lilies lined the driveway. I noticed a particular rose bush that had lavender roses, and felt a much-missed sense of curiosity rise in my chest. I felt so heavy with the weight of having to experience this period of my life without Phill at home with us, and for some reason, those lavender roses gave me the lightness I desperately needed.

Flora came outside, standing by her door. I explained from the sidewalk that we were admiring her roses; that I'd never seen lavender ones before. She was flattered and pleased, and said I was welcome to enjoy them any time. She even encouraged me to take some home. Then I felt to ask her if maybe I could take some photos of them, and she agreed happily. However, she lamented that she should not venture further from her yard, as her immune system was weakened, and she ought not surround herself with children or a wide variety of people.

So I came back at a later date, having left Reed with my dear neighbor, and took photos of her roses. I did this several times in the course of the next few months. I needed to do it. It resolved something for me.

On one occasion, Flora explained to me that the rose bushes had been her husband's great talent. It was he who cared for them so expertly, and she was worried that after his death she hadn't properly maintained them. Not so, I countered. They were still so beautiful. She looked at one of the bushes closely and said, "Well, I shouldn't leave that there...." and bent to remove a bud that had grown brown and dry. Then she showed me where to remove the dead parts, the brown, the thin and crackly stems. She warned me that the beautiful blooms and green stems would be overcome by the dead parts if you didn't remove them.

I have since given plenty of thought to the symbolism in these mini-lessons from Flora. She herself was an example of overcoming obstacles and striving towards a more Christ-like life. When she was young, she had rheumatic fever, and it had weakened her heart. Still, she recovered and was married, and she and her husband, despite advice against it, wanted desperately to have a child. They tried for a while, but to no avail, and then adopted a baby. Shortly thereafter, she conceived. Towards the end of the pregnancy, her compromised heart was working so hard that she found herself at death's door. She said to me about this experience, "I was dying, and I didn't want to, and I told Heavenly Father that if he would just let me live a little longer, I would dedicate my life to serving Him." She lived, and she kept her promise, raising her children faithfully, loving her husband loyally, and working for countless hours in the Church's family history center after her husband's death. She is someone I think of every time I see a rose.

For the first few weeks after we got here in Texas, I was blundering through the daily routine with blinders on. I hardly noticed a thing, much less the outdoors. Everything felt a little blurry, a little less colorful, as if I were viewing things through cloudy glass. And then I think I grew sick of myself, and then desperate, and prayed for clear sight.

My prayer was answered with breathless speed. I woke up the next morning and actually saw what was around me. Specifically, a rose bush--in the front yard and the back yard. I felt ashamed for having missed something so beautiful. Then it wasn't enough to just stare at them, I had to experience them, too. So, starting with the back yard rose bush, I conducted a close inspection. Only one blossom, struggling for the light at the very top of the bush, and on its way out. I silently wished for the best and went to work with my bare hands, unable to resist clearing some of the brown from the branches. I wept openly, thinking, Let me help you, let me just clear away this dead stuff. Thinking to myself, Help me. Help me clear away the dead stuff. Thinking of Flora, of her dedication to things of lasting importance. Her careful pruning and attention to the choking chaff, both spiritual and botanical. I thought about my weaknesses, the things that had come to light during our relocation, the surprise useless branches amongst the more colorful blooms, and I prayed for help in clearing away those parts of my soul.

After pruning the rose bush, I felt lighter, like I did when I first saw the lavender roses in Flora's front yard. I wondered if my pruning had helped, and held a secret prayer in mind that it would. That night a thunderstorm rolled above us. Loud and relentless, it thrashed the foliage outside, and I wondered how my rose bush was doing. I worried about that lone blossom, hanging on for dear life in the furious winds outside.

The next morning I was anxious to see its fate. It was still there! Bent, battered, bruised. But still there. Still able to grow, still holding on. Again I felt an absurd, inexplicable joy in its resisting the storm. I directed my thoughts towards it, thinking, Oh, see how strong you are? And then I felt a whisper to my heart: Oh, see how strong you are? We are clearing away the dead stuff, and you are surviving the storm.

The more I pick on that bush, pulling at the crispy stuff and giving more room for the fresh green stuff, the more it blooms. And it's not just blooming now, it's exploding. I prune, it storms, and then it pulls out a showstopper, revealing not just two, three, or four new blossoms, but eight, sometimes more. It isn't just surviving the storms, the repeated reductions. It is thriving.

Oh, see how strong you are? We clear away the dead stuff, and you will thrive in the storm.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Friend Series: Camilla Davies

[My additions in brackets and italics.]

How do you know Rae?
Rachel and I met at church.  I invited her over for a bbq, she said that her husband was deployed, so maybe she'd come another time.  I remember on her husband's first time in church, I was sick.  My husband told me that he was home.  I asked my husband what he looked like and he said, "red hair and freckles".  And I said, "ugh, but Rachel's so pretty!" [This cracks me up!!]

What do you do for a living?

I raise and grow children.  I put my life to a halt to throw up for 20 weeks to grow one.  And then I love and nurture them and tell them to stop growing every day. [It's true, guys. For such a long time, all she could eat was Cheerios.]

What do you want to be when you grow up? (Translation: What is your dream?)
My husband and I want to own a bed and breakfast.  Where I can decorate every room with hand made items.  And I can bake and bake and bake until my heart is content, and fill the bellies of the passer-byers and friends we make who stay with us.  [I'll come and stay. You don't have to make me.]

Tell us about the people you love.
I love people who help me to grow, and love and support me through hard times.  My husband is the #1 person who I love, I have told him that with my issues, most men would have left me by now.  Sometimes, he agrees (and that's okay).  I only have a few close friends.  My closest friends who I have ever made in this world are Rachel and Robyn.  They are the best part of my family, because they are my CHOSEN family.  Flesh and blood family, you get stuck with, so you love them.  Friends who turn into family are the best kind, because you have chosen them to be your family.  [I love you so much. You are definitely family.]

What interests you?
This seems like a hard one, with 3 kids, do I really have TIME for interests?  I love to paint.  Not the artistic, paint pictures of people and scenes painting, but painting furniture and things to decorate my house.  I LOVE IT.  I never do anymore, because there is no more furniture in my house left to paint.  But I love it.  Lately I have become interested in reading.  My husband works full time and goes to school.  I have developed reading as my evening hobby when he's doing homework.  I am growing to love it! [I'm glowing with pride.]
What five things make life sweet for you? What really makes you happy?
1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear my kids playing sweetly and laughing.  It is the best sound in the world.
2.  Nice weather.  Right now, Flagstaff is starting to come alive with the colors of fall, and it is so beautiful.  I love to be in a quiet nature setting where I can fell at peace and out of the world.
3. I am not in shape right now, but when I am, nothing makes me feel better than a nice long run.  The kind of run where you can go and go and sweat and sweat and never even have to stop running until your time is up.  It's such a fabulous feeling.
3. Ice Cream or popcorn with candy corns, husband, and a really good movie.  Need I say more?
4. Spending time with old friends, and realizing that we are still as close as we were before we parted.  Even though time has passed, and life has changed, seeing that we still love each other just as much as we always have is a good feeling.
5. Making other people happy.  Doing something for someone that they didn't expect and that makes them so happy just makes you feel good inside. 
*bonus*  Making my husband laugh.  He has the BEST laugh, and when I can do something that makes him laugh, it's so good.  It feels like love. [LOVE this.]

Do you have a phobia?
I am SO SCARED of spiders.  It's horrible.  I can't look at pictures of them, don't talk about them, don't tell me one is around unless it dead.  I have no idea where this came from, but it's bad.  I am also scared of heights.  The Farris wheel SCARES me.  I go on it with my kids and pretend it doesn't.  But I'm terrified the whole time. [Are you also scared of Halloween decorations that involve spiders?]
Do you have a favorite book?
Jane Eyre.  I know it's a popular book, so it's not original of me, but at least it's not Twilight, right?  I read it last week and I LOVE IT.  (spoiler alert)  When Jane left MR. Rochester, after he was begging her to stay, a part of me died inside.  I finished that chapter, and went to bed.  I couldn't read on.  It was to dramatic, and romantically sad, it crushed me.  When Jane said something about how she has to much respect for herself to stay and be a mistress, i was just like WOW.  For the first day, I was certain that I would have stayed.  But then in an instant, I remembered a relationship that I could have married into, but felt like I deserved, needed better.  So I didn't stay.  I guess there is a little Jane inside of me after all. [I HATE that you don't live one street away anymore, because upon reading this, I would grab my copy of Jane Eyre, run over to your house, and proceed to engage you in the most nerdy book-loving conversation ever. I love, love, love Jane Eyre. Also--just would like to mention--the movie? The movie recently made? It's good. Really good. They did an incredible job.]

What is one technological advance you wish hadn't taken place?
Their might be others, but off the top of my head I'm going to say cell phones w/texting and internet.  EVERYONE is always on their phones, and it makes me crazy.  And people text like crazy.  It's just not necessary.  I feel like it makes people lazy.  For the record, I hardly text at all. [I agree. As much as I'm no one to talk, I'm really striving to be more present and less hooked to my phone. A person can go days without looking someone in the eyes, lost in a phone. Ridiculous.]

Hypothetical question: You've been imprisoned in a 10x10 cement cell, a political prison for dissenters of the dystopian, futuristic culture where this hypothetical situation takes place. You are allowed exactly three things. What three things have you chosen to bring with you? Feel free to elaborate, or to just leave your answers as-is.
I'm going to assume that this is a last minute gathering of objects.  If I were to look around my house have have to collect 3 objects, I would choose, the most recent photo album, to pine over photos of my children and my husband, a notebook and pencil to journal my life, and Lily's stuffed puppy.  Lily loves her puppy so much, that it would bring me a lot of comfort and love.  :) [I love Lily's puppy.]

If you ever imagine a utopian society, what is that society like? What kind of government (if any)? What sorts of houses, countries, etc?
I think that a utopian society would be less modern, and more old school.  People eat more naturally, there are community farms and everyone trades their produce, and everyone has an abundance of everything.  If someone is found guilty of a crime, than an eye for an eye will be payment.  There would be lots of land, and no cell phones.  If you needed to talk to someone, you would walk to their house and sit and talk, one on one, with eye contact and everything! [Camilla....can you build your bed and breakfast on the farm that I'll live on one day?]

What do you think is the most important thing a human being can contribute to this life?
As a mother, I'm going to say children.  But not just any children.  I don't think that people should just push children out and do minimum.  Have children, teach them right from wrong, teach them to look both ways when crossing the street, to say 'excuse me' to be kind and have common sense.  These things are lacking in society today.  To contribute in a positive way to society by giving it another functional, smart human being is a good contribution. [LOVE. And for the record, you're doing an incredible job at this.]

Camilla, please expound on the Cotton Ball Incident.
**Phill HATES cotton balls, he can't bare the touch of them.**
Once upon a time, Rachel asked my husband and I if we could come over and babysit Reed and Jaxon while she picked Phill up after he'd been away with the Army for an extended period.  So we happily agreed.  Happily, because we also brought with us, a large, un-opened bag of cotton balls.  As soon as Rachel left, we sprung into action.  We used a movie or something to distract the boys, and then went into Phill's bedroom.  We put cotton balls under the sheets, in his drawers, in his socks, and everywhere we could think of to hide them to leave him with an unpleasant surprise.  It was fabulous, and we laughed the WHOLE WAY HOME. [I must elaborate. When Phill discovered the cotton balls, he picked them up like a cat would touch something that weirded them out--quick, and just with the tips of his fingers. Shuddering and jumping back as it would fall to the floor. And Camilla didn't mention that each cotton ball had an evilly-smiling Sharpie face drawn on it! The best detail by far.]

What is your favorite memory with Rae? 
As I was thinking of this, trying to figure it out, it hit me: CHRISTMAS!  The time Rachel came and stayed for Christmas with Reed and Jaxon.  We had so much fun!  Reed napped on the ground on a pile of blankets with our dog, we cooked, ate, went and took pictures of the Christmas lights.  While opening Christmas Eve presents, we burnt the cookies we wanted to take to the OB unit.  We really did nothing big in particular, but it was the best Christmas of my life.  *tears* [Phill was deployed, and I was horrified at the thought of spending Christmas anywhere but John and Camilla's. They fed my soul continuously through the visit, and cuddled my boys, and made me laugh and let me cry. It is one of my sweetest, most favorite, memories.]

What is your weirdest memory with Rae? (Man, I am really taking a leap here....)
Going to Bisque it!  In Cedar City.  And EVERY TIME we went, the lady who owned it was watching the SAME HARRY POTTER.  And we'd sit there and talk bad about her behind our breath... [It's true. It's pretty weird that we kept going there.]

Why did you agree to do this interview? (Really, why? My questions are not terribly genius. They read a lot like a drivel-filled forwarded they?)
Cause I'm friggin' bored and today is the longest day of my LIFE.
 I chose this picture of Camilla, because it's one I took that Christmas that I was visiting, and I love that I can see the real goodness of her spirit in her face. Camilla blogs at honesty, sarcasm, and humor; but it's only my opinion!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Friend Series

I had an idea for blog posts that would be fun to read, introduce some of you to teach other (some of you readers to other readers, that is), and that would help you get to know me even better--through a sampling of interviews of my friends! I posted a status on Facebook, asking for anyone who wanted to give an interview to answer some questions for me, ones I could post here. I had a great response! So here goes.

The story beginnings

On the sweet advice of my sister Abby, I'm removing my story-beginnings from the net, just for the sake of protecting them! I actually wondered about that yesterday when I posted them--even though I've disabled right-click and copy-and-paste, anyone who wanted to could just retype what I've written, expound on it, and pass it off as their own. I highly doubt it would happen, but even the slight chance is enough to make me nervous. So! If you didn't read them and wanted to, or if you did and wanted to weigh in, shoot me an email!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I didn't re-read this post before publishing.....on purpose.

You probably already know this about me, but I suppose I must be lacking in the self-awareness department lately, because I just realized it:

I don't like to post on my blog when I'm not feeling positive.

It's not that I don't want to admit that I don't feel happy/joyful/positive/peaceful all the time. Not at all. It's that I hate the feeling that all I have to share is griping and complaining, and I really do want to put good things out there.....

And yes, a little part of me--okay, a big part of me--hates the fact that I have times like this, whatever you want to call it. Human-ness (yes, I have a hard time being human; I can't help but want to be perfect), depression, adjusting, whatever. I'm not uncomfortable with sharing my faults. But I AM uncomfortable admitting that I sometimes lose hope, I sometimes really want to give up, and sometimes, well....sometimes I do give up, in certain ways. And what I'm saying is, I don't think it really serves anyone well for me to hold back about that aspect of myself. I don't see any of you as less when you're feeling these why do I judge myself so harshly?

So I'm making an effort to talk about my life, to post about it, and to write--be it fiction or autobiographical things--no matter how my days go. Because I want to prove to myself that I am not giving up. Not anymore. I'm growing tired of my self-pity, and I know I'll feel much better if I can uplift anyone, especially those who read this. Furthermore, if I have to complain or cry or anything of that nature, I'm going to take it one step further and end on a good note. As further evidence of believing in hope, and believing that hope can lead to faith, I will always try to end my less-positive posts with something a little less saddening.

Because that's what we're supposed to do, right?

Things are difficult, maybe we don't handle it well, but then we dust ourselves off and move forward. Because backwards is no place to go.

So here goes!

I still feel like a fish out of water. I'm still not feeling like I have any sort of regular routine going, though I often do the same things each day--they're just not the most productive or necessary things that my soul really hungers for.

I'm struggling to allow myself to love it here, mostly because Phill and I are thinking about possibly incorporating a huge lifestyle change into our summer next year. And I am fighting giving over any more attachment until we know more. (Which hopefully we will by the end of November; I'll make sure to apprise everyone of the change if it comes, and I'll still explain if it doesn't.) I know it's not helping me, or anyone else, to hold back like this. I know that. I know I should accept the wonderful things that are being given me. I know that. And still, I'm stuck. But working laboriously to get un-stuck, and forcing myself through the motions in the meantime.

I'm feeling ashamed for being ungrateful for the good things we have.

I'm feeling stressed about all I have yet to get done--unpacking the nitty-gritty stuff, finding a place for everything, editing, and so on.

I feel selfish, using the letter "I" this much.

I am emotionally eating, and frustrated at my lack of self-control, and embarrassed by the fact that it shows in my very un-toned, heavier-than-ever frame. I'm annoyed that I care so much, and annoyed that I haven't done anything about it.

(That last revelation was really hard. I want to erase it so badly that my hands are shaking.)

*sigh* Those are the uglinesses that have kept me from posting, for fear they will flow from my fingertips, unchecked, and that my detested human-ness will be laid bare for all.

But in writing them, I realize this: I am so normal. So, so normal. I am feeling nothing that no one else hasn't felt.

I am not alone.

You are not alone.

After all of that, after the heaviness of the last several weeks, I finally feel a glimmer of hope, a glimpse of what I might become if I just allow God to do His work, and let go. In sharing with you, I feel allowed, now, to move forward. Rocky as my terrain may be, wobbly as my legs might be, I have hope. More hope than I've had for a while. Enough that the tears are flowing now, and I'm ready to list all the good that I was keeping quiet.

Our house has dark wooden floors downstairs. I always dreamed of floors like these.

Our backyard is big and fenced in, and has a patio and a gazebo. It does my soul good every time I look out the back doors.

We've had a few thunderstorms since we moved here, and for the first time, I understand what is meant by the phrase "rolling thunder".....I guess that in Utah, there are so many mountains and rock formations that the thunder sort of stays contained in one place, making one big bombastic boom....but here, it truly rolls across the sky, free of obstacles and running itself out completely. I need these storms; I love them so much, but Reed hates them, and it gives me repeated chances to teach him how to replace his fear with fascination.

The boys have adjusted so well to school. Jaxon actually loves kindergarten now, which is nothing short of a miraculous answer to prayer. Reed is getting stronger, I see it every day, both academically and emotionally. I am so proud of my boys.

I get hours of alone time with Savanna every weekday, and I'm so glad I do, because she's growing up so much faster than I'd prefer. I don't want to miss it. She's taller. Her sentences are more complex. Her face is longer. Her hair is longer. She's a little mysterious, which I both love and grieve.

We have several neighborhood kids who come in and out of our house with comfort. I always wanted to be the house where everyone played....I took notes from my Sarah in Saint George. Savanna plays with little twin girls, whom she simply calls, "The grils", as in, "Mom, do you think the grils are home?" Reed plays with a boy who's here for weekends; this boy loves Legos as much as Reed does. All three of the kids play out in the front or in the back for a long time after homework is done, long enough that we have to call them in for dinner and bedtime.

Our neighbors are genuine, kind, and happy. We've been invited (and have attended) BBQ's and birthday parties. They drop everything to help when they see a need (like, oh, say, Phill's motorcycle comes off the ramp while he's trying to get it down from the truck-bed, and neighbor-guy dashes over to help until the job is done....or the 14-year-old neighbor boy who watched our cats for us while we were out of town last weekend, then emphatically refused payment).

There are trees everywhere, just big open sky and trees, and I've missed seeing so many in one place.

The library is within walking distance.

Our master bedroom and master closet are huge.

The ward is an example of the finest fellowship. The moment we walked in, we were acknowledged. We've been invited to and reminded of various functions, and we learned that the ward has been praying for families to come. (We're a very, very tiny ward.)

Overall, we could drown in blessings. I can tell you firsthand that God is merciful, and does give appropriately-proportioned blessings to balance the weight of trials.

I know I am not alone, and I know that none of us are. He's always standing ready to help.

*end-note: I am seriously considering deleting this post. I feel like a whiner. Swoop in and reassure my needy self, would you, by letting me know if you didn't feel it was too negative? After such a long effort to be quiet about my difficulties, it's hard for me to gauge anymore whether I'm being a Debbie Downer or not.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

21 questions to ask your kids

I have a "real" post cooking, and I'll write it soon-ish. In the interim, enjoy my interview with the kids! (Thanks for the idea, Christy!)

1. What is something Mommy always says to you?
Reed: I love you. 
Jaxon: I love you.
Savvy: Um...go potty.

2. What makes Mommy happy?
Reed: Be nice and not fight with Jaxon.
Jaxon: Being nice to you. And listening.
Savvy: Behave at stores!

3. What makes Mommy sad?
Reed: Saying I hate you.
Jaxon: Being mean to you and yelling at you.
Savvy: Not being nice.

4. How does Mommy make you laugh?
Reed: Tickling me.
Jaxon: Tickle me in the armpits....that was too easy.
Savvy: And saying funny things, too!

5. What was Mommy like as a child?
Jaxon: Uh....kind.
Reed: Funny, nice and kind. And a little sassy.
Savvy: Being modest. With a shirt on and pants to cover up their legs and their belly. But not their FACE! 'Cause they can't see with their eyes.

6. How old is Mommy?
Jaxon: 28!
Reed: What?! 28?
Savvy: 5 and firt-teen and 16.

7. How tall is Mommy?
Reed: Uh....about five feet?
Jaxon: Uh...that's too long.
Savvy: Three-oh minutes to go to a date to marry Daddy.

8. What is Mommy's favorite thing to do?
Reed: Um....have fun with us.
Jaxon: Play teddy bears with me.
Savvy: Makeovers!

9. What does Mommy do when you're not around?
Jaxon: Go on dates.
Reed: Same thing. Go on dates.
Savvy: Go on dates!

10. If Mommy becomes famous, what will it be for?
Jaxon:'ll be famous for rat stew. Wait! A--a concert! No, cooking!
Savvy: Uh.....for....girls and boys.
Reed: Famous for taking the best photos in the world.

11. What is Mommy really good at?
Savvy: Um, cooking....
Jaxon: Sewing?
Reed: Uh, photos!

12. What is Mommy not very good at?
Savvy: Uhhhhh......uhhhhh....not cooking sometimes? But you do cook sometimes, but it feels good to you, but it doesn't sometimes.
Reed: Being mean!
Jaxon: Farting.

13. What does Mommy do for her job?
Reed: Photos! Or--I mean--a birth, and weddings. Mostly anything that you can take photos of.
Savvy: Take a bath and get a drink and put cartoons on with Daddy and put the sticks outside and be a neighbor.
Jaxon: Photography.

14. What is Mommy's favorite food?
Reed: Uh....I don't know.
Savvy: Macaroni and cheese and chicken and enchilada and tomatoes and bread and peanut butter sandwiches and Nutella sandwiches and I don't know.
Jaxon: Ravioli.

15. What makes you proud of Mommy?
Reed: When you go to weddings and take pictures. No wait--you're really nice and awesome.
Savvy: Being cool and beautiful.
Jaxon: Everyfing you do.

16. If Mommy were a cartoon character, who would she be? 
Reed: Princess Bubblegum.

Savvy: Marceline.

Jaxon: Tom.

17. What do you and Mommy do together?
Reed: Go to the mall. Have Mommy-and-Reed play-dates.
Savvy: Go at stores with each other to buy food. Go at every place that has ice cream and pizza and macaroni and cheese and that we can buy earrings and necklaces.
Jaxon: Play and be nice. And go to the mall.

18. How are you and Mommy the same?
Reed: Uh....uh....we both like photos.
Savvy: Wiff brown hair.
Jaxon: Mmm....'cause we're in the same family.

19. How are you and Mommy different?
Reed: You have long hair. Also it's a little red.
Savvy: With new long hair that has a color that is different. I don't have blue hair. Only brown hair. 'Cause my hair is brown. (That's what my hair color is).
Jaxon: 'Cause you have long hair and I don't.

20. How do you know Mommy loves you?
Reed: 'Cause she shows it every day.
Savvy: Uh....being nice and....that's all that I was going to say.
Jaxon: 'Cause you love me.

21. Where is Mommy's favorite place to go?
Reed: Mall.
Savvy: And store!
Reed: Mostly anywhere beautiful.
Jaxon: Wal-mart. Wait! The mall.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A little revelation

I woke up this morning with the beginnings of hope budding in my heart. I felt lighter, and though still anxious about the morning push of getting boys to school, I felt markedly different from yesterday.

I felt better rested, for one thing! But I also felt more myself. Closer to whatever it is that makes me, me.

I realized I need to write. I need to write about my emotions to fully process them, whether I write publicly or privately. When I don't write, I feel like I'm only half-living. And not just emotions. For me to understand an event, I have to frame it with words somehow.

So I'm going to write more. I know I've said this before, and haven't followed through. I know I might not even follow through this time! (haha) But just writing this down is beyond comforting, and feels like home.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Growing Pains: the facts

Fact 1: It took us about 18 days total to find a house in Grand Prairie, split up into two one-day trips and a 16-day stay (just Phill) in a one-bedroom apartment provided by the Army.

Fact 2: My beloved sister Liz allowed us to stay at her house for an entire month.

Fact 3: Liz is an earthbound angel.

Fact 4: We left our house in St. George on the 15th of July, and after the 2-week stay at my parents' and the 4-week stay at Liz's, it was a grand total of 6 weeks before we were in a house of our own.

Fact 5: When Phill got here, he found out he had been mistakenly double-slotted in a position that is being phased out.

Fact 6: We threw a little tantrum....alas, it is what it is. This move was never meant to happen, but it happened. And so we deal.

Fact 7: The boys started school on September 6th, only about 2 weeks late.

Fact 8: Seven hours is a long time for a kindergartner.

Fact 9: I've given us a time-frame in which to decide whether we will continue with public schooling or make the switch over to homeschooling.

Fact 10: Our neighbors are beautiful people. Beautiful souls, good kids, and good hearts.

Fact 11: The people in our ward (which we'll attend for the first time this Sunday) call Phill "Fee-ill".....and I like to say it to myself every now and then, and of course to Phill.

Fact 12: We have a big, fenced-in backyard. It does ease the stress of moving. Quite a lot.

Fact 13: Jude is sleeping near me, on the floor, on his back like a dead bug.

Fact 14: I will bounce back from this mini-shock. I will look back and marvel at the depth of my sadness in comparison with the happiness I know is in store for us.

Fact 14.7: Tonight, my suitcase is still somewhere in Atlanta.

Fact 15: I have got to get better at this airport stuff.

Growing Pains: the emotions

I've purposely put off writing this post, the post where I talk about how everything went, how everything's going, and what we're up to now. I'll give a fair warning and share with you the fact that I've just come off a weekend wedding shoot in Florida--which was so glorious, and so exhausting. It was a cathartic weekend, and because I'm still experiencing the catharsis of the last couple of days, I'm rather.....fragile-feeling. Bear with me!

I have a hard time feeling comfortable with unpleasant emotions. That being said, it makes sense I haven't written a more informative post until now--I am waaaay out of my comfort zone these days. I'm struggling in general: struggling to figure out what our new routines will look like. Struggling to create some semblance of order in a house that is lovely and large, but lacks storage and has some puzzling "quirks" that belie a less-than-proficient builder. Struggling to feel like myself, to laugh, to let go, to accept our new reality and just move forward. Struggling to forgive myself for feeling this way, because the blessings have been plentiful and specific.

I would rather skip this part, this part where I'm uncomfortable and, well, somewhat mourning. I desperately want to inspire (all of you) and encourage (positivity), but I'm sure digging deep to find it in me right now, and at the moment? Coming up with some paltry offerings.

My faith has changed form; where I was able to predict much of my life's goings-on before, now it's more.....blind. Which I suppose is the whole purpose of faith, isn't it? We do what we think we can't, we go where we can't imagine going, and then what? Hopefully, we become someone we couldn't dream of being. I am clinging white-knuckled to that hope. It takes all my powers of imagination to try seeing myself in the weeks to come, fully capable, efficient, providing all that is needed and smiling all the while. I know this isn't the worst thing that could happen by far, not at all. I know there is much joy to be found. I am earnestly seeking it, but I am beginning to believe that perhaps this is a time in my life when I am meant to seek it harder than I have in the past.

Meanwhile, I am grateful, so grateful, to have your listening ears (eyes?). Grateful to know that, when it comes to you loved ones of mine (that's you), support and comfort have been the generous gift I am inexplicably blessed with.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Thoughts from Liz's House

I wrote that last post in my journal while we were driving. Obviously, some time has passed since then, and I guess that post is probably pretty outdated by now, but I thought it made for some good perspective, considering where we are now!

We arrived at Liz's here in Lawton, Oklahoma, just a day after that post. The car ride was easy beyond belief. The cats were minimally vocal, loved the hotel room, and the kids were pleasant as can be. We felt so blessed, so aware of the prayers of loved ones. We still do, though things are rather more chaotic than those couple of weeks ago.

When we arrived in Lawton, Phill got a call from HRC in Grand Prairie. "Oh, you're here already?" Not the words you expect or want to hear when you've just traveled 1400 miles with your family. It turns out, a mistake was made, a big mistake, and Phill was double-slotted for the position here. Meaning they shouldn't have moved us here at all. Meaning they're trying really hard to make up for that by moving us to Seagoville, 40 minutes away from Grand Prairie, in a few months. The best time-frame we've been given is 4 months to a year before he's in Seagoville. But no paperwork--and if there's no paperwork, it isn't set in stone. So they told us to "just find a place in between the two towns."

Needless to say, we've experienced some extreme anger and frustration over this mistake. But HRC is doing what they can to remedy the mistake, and, as they said, it looks like several people are working on a solution, or at least a more certain time frame as far as Seagoville goes. This has complicated the house search, especially when we would receive new information in the midst of an on-site rental search of Grand Prairie. Twice we've traveled the three hours from Lawton to Dallas, and twice we've come back no closer to tying this all up in a pretty little bow.

Having said all that, I can honestly say that I've learned more in the last four weeks than I have in the last four months. My patience is being tested, and I'm allowing it to grow. I feel closer to Phill and our children. I know--no matter what is happening with our timeline--the Lord's timeline is perfect. He will not give us something we can't weather.

Liz is an ongoing answer to prayers. Her home is a haven, a peaceful, welcoming place. She and my brother-in-law Pat have made us feel as if there is no timeline for us to leave, for which we are deeply grateful. The kids have gotten along so well, with minimal fighting and few meltdowns. They have enjoyed the pool in the backyard, and are handling the upheaval with unrivaled grace. I am in awe.

I don't know that I can ever repay the kindness of my sister and brother-in-law in allowing us to live with them during this transition. They are living proof that sometimes angels come in the form of earthbound people.

Furthermore, when I look back over the last six weeks, I am humbled and moved to the point of tears. I can see the Lord's hand in every area of our lives. The happiness of having family visit for the two weeks before our move. The well-timed comments and messages from friends on Facebook. The incredible goodness of friends who came and cleaned, wrote heartfelt goodbye letters, and babysat our children. The generosity of my parents in opening their brand-new home to us for two weeks, risking holes in the wall, braving stressed-out-kid meltdowns, and listening to the frequent teary monologues of an emotionally-charged daughter. The willingness of friends to let us sleep in their homes, even just for a night. My cousins, happy to host a barbeque in their home in order to host those who wanted to come give us a last hurrah. Links upon links of rentals in Texas, sent from kind and efficient friends, often right at the moment when we need them most.

Heavenly Father has never let us feel that we are homeless throughout all of this; rather, I have had this truth made known to me: that home really is wherever you are loved. I have many homes, many family members, and countless chances to see the love Heavenly Father has for all of His children.

Back soon, I hope, with updates that include a house and a more stable situation! :)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Thoughts from the road

Finally on the road to Texas--the historic Route 66, in fact. After feeling the anxiety of anticipation, there is a sort of relief in finally being on our way. Thus far, we've been on the road for 7 hours. Last night we traveled from Salt Lake City to St. George, stayed the night with dear friends, and then were on the road this morning.

The sky looks huge with only the open plains to compete, and I feel somewhat vulnerable without the mountains to hide me. But it's different and exciting and beautiful. I've driven cross-country before, but it was a long time ago. After 7 years in Utah, you'd better believe this mountainless landscape looks new!

The cats have been surprisingly quiet in their carriers all day, though they are definitely stressed. The kids have been angelic, and this trip is surpassing even the best I'd imagined for it. We feel blessed.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

In Which I Am Hopeful and Verbose

I am sitting in the living room of my mom and dad's beautiful new home, cozy in my dad's recliner with Phill sitting in front at my feet. The kids are peacefully sleeping in the basement, and all is quiet while we occupy ourselves with silent Sunday-ish activities.

I'm finding it a little difficult to put into words all the things I'm feeling. First, because I'm feeling many different things--rather emotion-full in general. And second, because I am feeling so loved, so watched-over, so cared-for, blessed, and grateful.

Tuesday was a day when I absolutely embodied the vivid phrase "running around like a chicken with its head cut off". All Monday, after my visiting family left, I sat around. I did nothing. I knew I had a mile-long list to attend to, and, although my conscience yelled at my the entire time, I worked very hard to stay cozy in my spot on the couch.

You can imagine that when I woke up on Tuesday morning, the day the movers were to come and pack us up, I felt the full weight of my Monday negligence. I cried, I panicked, and I flew around getting next-to-nothing done in my frazzled state. Although I felt hypocritical in doing so, I dared to utter a prayer that went something like this: I know I was really dumb yesterday and didn't do anything while I still had loads of time. But please forgive me, and please help me to do all I can today. Then I did my best. I  sorted laundry, trying to pack a couple suitcases and simultaneously set aside other things that would be necessary for the next two weeks. And--oh yes--I cried. Then we got a phone call from the movers, and I could hardly believe what they said. They would not come today, they would come tomorrow.

Which meant--miracle of all miracles--that I had one full day to do all I could to be prepared (like I should have been) for the packing-up.

So after sending up an ecstatic prayer of thanks, I settled into an organized plan of action, and was able to clean the house and pack us up for our time out of home. I didn't do nearly all I had dreamed of doing, such as deep organizing or other time-consuming errands, but when I finally sat down that evening, I felt a sense of comfort in knowing that I had done all I could to prepare.

After we got the kids in bed, several friends of ours came over and helped us mop the floors, wipe down the walls, and just deep-clean in general to save us some work. I watched them moving around my house and was moved to tears by their willingness to help. In their smiling faces I saw the love of God. I felt as if He were right there, whispering that it would all turn out right, that He would take care of us.

Moving day, another friend volunteered to take the kids for the day so that they wouldn't be bored. When they decided to go on a little outing to the school library, Jaxon was somehow lost from the group of kids going into the library, and went looking for Reed. When he couldn't find Reed, he decided he wanted to go home. He knows the way, and started to walk home. At precisely the same time that my friend and Reed were near panic and praying to find Jaxon, my Sarah--my beloved Sarah!--drove past Jaxon, picked him up, and called me. She said calmly, "Hey, I have Jaxon. He said he was looking for Reed, couldn't find him, and is now wanting to come home." Somehow I was calm myself when I explained that my friend was babysitting the kids, and he was supposed to be with her. Somehow I knew, too, that this was a simple accident, an oversight, and nothing that warranted my being offended, angry, or fearful. Sarah drove up to the school right as my friend and Reed were coming out of the school, and Jaxon was safely back where he was supposed to be. After a brief time at home for him to regain his equilibrium, and after reassuring my friend that we were all fine and all was forgiven and understood, Jaxon went back to her house and continued to play happily.

I say "somehow" when speaking of these surprising "coincidences" that occurred just within that small event, but I can't deny God's hand in the entire thing. All throughout, He was comforting me and helping me, and showing me that He was watching over my children. Through the rest of that day, and through the next day, too, I was given a sense of peace, a strength I can't claim to be entirely mine, and little signs everywhere that we are being guided carefully through this time.

The movers were cheerful, efficient, personable, professional, skilled, and clean.

Friends came over and helped, gave us uplifting goodbye letters, cleaned, and helped us pack the last of things.

Errands that were time-sensitive were accomplished with ease, no complications, and no interference with our plans.

When we were done packing and it was a little too late in the day to make the 5-hour trip up to my parents' house, my grandparents (2 hours away) happily put us up for the night, where we slept unusually sound, and the children were able to play for a couple of hours.

The drive up to SLC was remarkably without incident, and the kids were absolute angels. No exaggeration here, and no sarcasm. It was really nothing short of a miracle.

Having been here for a couple of days now, the kids have definitely experienced some meltdowns, some sad and some maddening--all to be patiently born and carefully navigated, as I know this is the way they're dealing with the stress. One day after we got here, we were driving back to my parents' after an outing to the park (and an awesome photo shoot that I can't wait to post). The boys started crying, and when we asked them why, they wailed, "We want to go hooome..." Savvy keeps asking, "Are we in Texas yet?" and "We will bring our house to Texas, right?" and asking our dear friend Ciera, "When are you packing your house?" I have explained more than once that we won't be taking our friends or our house with us, each time with a re-broken heart and ill-concealed tears.

But even with the stress, the sadness, the loneliness and the challenges I'm facing in trying to be patient and understanding of my kids' sometimes-extreme behaviors, I am feeling peace and I am feeling relatively strong. That is no small thing, and I keep whispering prayers under my breath for the beauty I see Him orchestrating around me.

Phill remains a constant source of security and safety to me, and every time he hugs me I know that we will be okay--happy, thriving, even--because we are together. I already feel that I've learned one lesson from this move, and that is to draw closer to my family. I treasure them, I need them. I may tell my friends that they have my heart, but my family is what makes that heart even beat.

Lastly, to close on an utterly joyful note, my other prayers (amongst my many layers of prayers, it seems) were answered--I was able to be there for the birth of my niece, who was born remarkably fast in the wee hours of yesterday morning, healthy and with a full head of thick, dark hair. My mother and I held each other and sobbed with joy while we watched Qait roar her baby into the world, her faithful husband Michael at her side. Before we left for home, we stood at the windows of the newborn nursery, looking at twelve newly-arrived babies in their blanket cocoons, a name and a place for each one. "There is hope in the world," my mom whispered, and she is right. There is nothing like a birth--or a rebirth--to remind us: We have everything to hope for.

Monday, July 11, 2011

not Goodbye, just See-You-Later

After thoughtful consideration and prayer, and realizing I need my energy for other matters at this time, I decided not to run the marathon this year. I'm perfectly at peace with that decision. Jenn will continue to train and complete the marathon on her own, and I am so glad that she's going to! I've decided to change the marathon blog to private; Jenn and I were (obviously) not so good at keeping it updated and I'd like to lessen the pressure for both of us to keep it current for now.

And on to the other things on my mind:

Tomorrow the movers will come and pack us up. I've cried numerous times in the past several days, but on Saturday evening (after a non-functioning air-conditioning unit, a surprise flu-ish sickness that hit me like a ton of bricks, and not much rest in general with the excitement of family visiting) I had a bit of a breakdown. I asked Phill and my brother-in-law, Eric, to give me a priesthood blessing. They willingly did so and while I still feel sad, and still feel some of the physical effects that my nervous stomach tends to take on during times like this, I am overall hopeful. I know we can do this. I know we are and will be watched over. I'm anxious about much of the unknown. I still wish we didn't have to do this. But we must--and so we're trying to see the possibilities, the light, and just accept what comes.

I'm not sure how often I'll be able to blog in the next month. Our schedule is mostly decided, but still somewhat loose. I plan to write posts in a notebook, which I will transcribe when we have regular internet access--or if I get a quiet moment at a computer some time before then.

This is the (provided nothing goes awry or changes on the fly) plan:
Tuesday (tomorrow) the movers come and pack us up.
Wednesday they pack us up some more. (?)
Thursday we load up, and after the home has been inspected, we will go up to Salt Lake City and stay with my parents in their (brand-spanking-new) home.
August 1st--or earlier, depending on how our visiting goes in Northern Utah, and how sane we are (ha....haaa....), we leave for TX. I don't know if it will take us 2 days, 4 days, or 5. But when we arrive, we'll stay in Lawton, Oklahoma with my sister, Liz, her husband, Pat, and their four beautiful children. (And a cat named Hector! How darling is that?) We will travel the 3 hours to Grand Prairie to look for a place, and when we find one, we'll move in! Then....hopefully internet will be close to follow. And sanity, and serenity, and order, and normalcy. :)

I am grateful for our time here in St. George, and grateful for our time in Utah. I have been blessed with some choice friends, salt-of-the-earth, so to speak. My heart aches when I think of living so far from them, but I know, too, that they are loyal and will be good about keeping in touch! (You hear me, you loyal friends? Hear me? hahahha....) 

So. Forward with faith it is. Tally-ho and such.

To my dear friends in St. George--'til we meet again. 

(I forgot to mention!! I DO receive emails on my phone, and though it's a bit laborious to answer them from the phone, in this way I AM reachable....and of course through phone calls and text. If you don't have my number, shoot me an email and I'll send it to you.) 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I figured that this time around, I'll blog in a separate space about my marathon training. In fact, I've decided to try and document each run so that I can see my progress as I go. My friend Jenn will be logging her efforts as well!

full circle

On May 31st, we celebrated Savanna's fourth birthday. I'm not sure yet how to pin down what I feel. A mixture, definitely, of relief (we got this far!), surprise (how on earth did it go so fast?), and of course, aching (four years....four years).

The weirdest part of the day was realizing that we began our lives here with her first birthday, and we are leaving on the heels of her fourth birthday. A time sandwiched between two birthdays, and filled with many more. As I clicked away at my sweet daughter, blowing out her one candle (we only had one--woops!), I recalled how I had done this three times a year--one for each child--for the last three years. Nine birthdays at this dinner table. Suddenly I was able to look at our lives here in a broader perspective. As if I were sitting at the table, watching the seasons change around me, four different seasons, three times. Nostalgic mathematics, the only kind I like.

I'm now in the contemplative area of adjusting to the move. I am looking back and seeing all the good, all the growth, all the ways we have changed in the last little while. I'm seeing how much time has gone by, and how quickly. I'm not forgetting the times that dragged, but I view them a little more fondly.

Best of all, I realize that in August, we will again sit around the dinner table--this time in Texas--and celebrate Jaxon's birthday, opening our book in a new place. Whatever may come, we will gather three times a year--one for each child--and while we watch the seasons change around us, we will celebrate together.