Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wedding, Family, Christmas, and the Greatest Gift

Wow, it has been a long time. I feel like I have so much to catch up on. A couple of weekends ago, Cory and I took a trip to Minnesota to see our brother Logan get married. Him and Becca (his beautiful wife) were married in the temple on the coldest day EVER!! As we all came out of the temple to take pictures, there was literally a blizzard outside!! The wind was blowing the snow so hard and it was almost too much to be outside for even a couple of minutes. I'm sure the wind chill was at least -38. It was crazy, but fun as well. We had to drive an hour to the reception hall, which actually probably took twice as long since we had to drive slowly so we wouldn't end up in the ditch like so many other cars. Besides, the freezing weather, it was such an AMAZING trip!! It was so much fun to be with all of Cory's siblings. We actually didn't take our girls which was actually kinda nice (I'm not gonna lie). I was really missing them by the end of the weekend but it was nice to go on a "get-away" with Cory.

I was actually really nervous and apprehensive about going because Amber and Vaughn had their little baby Callie and Sean and Brittney had their little baby Kylin. You know, the cousins who were born within the week of when Clairisa was due. For quite awhile, I was determined not to go because I thought it would be too hard (especially when they blessed Callie Clairisa on Sunday), but then I changed my mind. As we landed in Minneapolis, I had this huge knot in my stomach and I almost felt sick b/c I was so nervous about seeing the babies. I just didn't want to fall apart. I just kept thinking about what Elaine Dalton said in conference, "I can do hard things...in fact, with Christ I can do all things."

Well I did it and I am so glad that I did. I cannot even begin to tell you how wonderful it was to hold Callie and Kylin. I seriously feel like it was just what I needed. So healing. I don't know why, but it was. There was so many moments when I felt like Clairisa was there with me, especially during Callie's blessing.

We flew back a couple of days before Christmas. We had a wonderful Christmas together as a family, although we did miss having any other family around. There is just something about family that makes everything better. I love my family SO MUCH...and when I say my family I mean ALL of my family...husband, children, aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, siblings, in-laws, neices, nephews, and grandparents. I feel so blessed and very grateful!!

The greatest gift that I received this Christmas was the greatest gift ever given to man...the Atonement. Through Christ's atonement, I have been blessed with capacity beyond my own, comfort, strength, forgiveness, reconciliation, love, and healing.

Joy to the world the Lord has come...and will come again.

Merry Christmas!

Picture Updates


Katelund writing a letter to Santa Claus.
Katelund getting her "cooking lessons" from Daddy (apparently she wants to be a chef someday)
For our ward Christmas party, the youth were in charge of the program. I let them decide what they wanted to do. One of the many things on our program was a story reading and reenactment of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". It was so fun and they did a GREAT job!!!
For one of our Family Home Evenings this month, Cory was in charge and so he made hot chocolate and read Polar Express to us. The girls have been asking for hot chocolate everyday ever since. :)
Since we don't have a fireplace, the girls were very concerned about how Santa was going to get in our house. We told them that he has a magic key that opens every door. I guess Santa decided to leave some snow and footprints for some verification. :)
This was Katelund's note to Santa and Santa's note back to her.
Dressed in the pajamas that they got to wear on Christmas Eve.
Cloey playing in the snow that Santa Claus left.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I can't think of a title...

So...the ballet was AMAZING!!!  I want to be a ballerina more than ever.  There was a little slip in the program that was advertising ballet lessons and offering one free lesson.  I got so excited and told Cory that I was for sure going to use it...and then he pointed out to me that it was for children.  So not fair.   Anyways, it was so much fun to see the ballet and also to be on a date.  We got all dressed up and everything.  

Okay, so the book about raising independant children...I can't remember the actual title (I am not at home right now..out internet is not working), but I'll post it soon I promise.  The book is SO GOOD!!  And, it has really changed my perspective in a lot of ways.  The author's name is Merilee Boyton (I think that's her last name).  

Sunday was a crazy day.  When I was in ward council, the bishop let us all know that there were rumors that there was going to be protestors coming that day (b/c of the whole Proposition 8 thing...our city is very liberal...kinda like a mini San Francisco).  He gave us the action plan and everything just in case something happened.  Well fortunatley, no one came, but I seriously think it was b/c of the weather.  It was VERY cold and VERY windy (I don't think that was a coincidence).  Pretty crazy huh?  

Friday, December 05, 2008

Birthday Surprises

I had such a fabulous birthday yesterday!! I went to breakfast with my good friend (and previous neighbor), Julie. It was SO GOOD to see her, her daughter, and her cute little pregnant belly. Then I met Cory for lunch....always a fun time. After Katelund came home from school, my sweet neighbor, Katherine (who I LOVE), watched my girls while I went and had a thermo acupressure massage at Migun (it was AMAZING). When I came home the girls and Katherine's children surprised me with a present and a home-made card from each of them. (Have I ever told you how the Lord has blessed me my whole married life with the BEST neighbors EVER who always end up being some of my very best friends??) Anyways, then Cory came home and surprised me with my birthday presentS...two tickets for a 7 o'clock showing of Twilight (one for me and one for HIM) AND two tickets to................drum roll please................the Nutcracker ballet for tonight (in case you don't know...I LOVE ballet...he does not)!!!!! Seriously, could I have a more incredible husband?? I don't think so. Twilight was okay. I was definitely disappointed in the acting and some of the actors/actresses that they chose, but overall it was entertaining and fun to watch...even Cory thought it was okay. He even said (and I quote) "Maybe I'll pick up the 2nd book just to see what happens". Yes girls, he REALLY did say that. :)

This morning, I woke up to find Katelund completely dressed from head to toe. She had even remembered to wear tennis shoes for P.E. She had brushed her hair and put a barrette in her hair... AND her outfit was really cute (that's a bonus). She was making her own lunch when I walked in the kitchen and pouring her own cereal. WOW. I was blown away. I have been reading a book about how to raise independent children. I don't think I've done that much different, but apparently I have done something b/c both of my girls are really grasping on to the concept. Maybe I was just babying them too much before.

Anyways, it was a great day filled with surprises, perfect gifts, and lots of love.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What is wrong with me??

I have really been thinking lately about how amazing my friends are. They all seem to be very successful at their own little side jobs and very busy at continually improving and polishing up their talents. So what is wrong with me? Let me explain...

Andrea- own business--Extraordinary Moments, seamstress, PTO expert, creative genius
Katie- musician
Amber- Etsy shop and AMAZING crafter
Lindsey- Etsy shop and also an amazing crafter
Destineee- photographer
Rebecca- photographer and quilter
Melissa- scrapbooker and photographer
Jenae- amazing seamstress and can do anything and everything
Laura- seamstress and cook
Carrie- decorator and cook (she makes the best rolls EVER), PTO expert
Laura- organizer and crafter
Kim- crafter, organizer (she can do anything really)
Lisa- cook
Bonnie- seamstress and decorator
Austyn- marathon runner
Jenny- incredible writer
Emily- incredible writer and musician
Jenny- musician
Kristin- organizer, seamstress, and pretty darn close to perfect
Erin- author
Katherine- baker
Leslie- decorator
Brittney- own business and dancer
Sherrie- crafty, decorator, and amazing singer
Stefani- singer and dancer
Mandy-organizer and educator
Deon- baker
Deanna- educator
Stacy-organizer
Tricia- nurse
Jenna-teacher and dancer
Shanna-teacher and dancer
Ciera-musician and comedian (at least I think she should be)

REALLY??? Must I go on??? There are so many more of you that I could list. I can kindof do some of those things, but that is just me. I like to try a lot of things ...but really I'm never GREAT at any one thing. I'm not trying to complain and I'm NOT looking for anyone to praise me in their comment. I really am thankful for the gifts that the Lord has blessed me with, but sometimes it is easier to see other's gifts clearer than your own. I really just wanted to say how blessed I am to have such incredible friends who inspire me with their talents and ability to create. I AM SO AMAZED BY EACH OF YOU!!! I love you all.

Monday, December 01, 2008

No Thanksgiving Pictures??

What was I thinking? I totally forgot to take any pictures on Thanksgiving, so here are a couple others that I took this last week (I have to post pictures to make Grandmas happy) :) .


Me and my buddy. She tells me that she's my shopping buddy. She LOVES to go shopping, and HATES to go home because "home is boring". I think I'm in for trouble in a couple of years.
You may be asking..."Why does she have a band-aid on her lip?" Because she bumped her lip of course. Apparently, band-aids make everything feel better.

Okay, so I have to add this story b/c it is hilarious. Cory took the day off of work today b/c he had to work on Saturday. So he went to Kate's school and had lunch with her. At dinner, I asked Katelund how it was having Daddy there for lunch. She said that he had everyone doing thumb wars and that he made all the kids have fun and be loud and so he got in trouble with the teachers. Apparently, the teachers had to come over and ask them (not really them...Cory) to be quieter and calm down. He said all the kids got all wound up b/c they were so excited. It's funny to me because it reminds me of church. I'm constantly quieting my kids down, but not as much as I'm giving the evil eye to Cory b/c he is tickling them and instigating their craziness. Anyways, I thought it was pretty funny.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Notes from Katelund



While I was cleaning Katelund's room today, I found a note (look at 2nd picture) that she had written to me it said...

Der Mom
tvat hrts
mi filez

Translation: Dear Mom, That hurts my feelings.

That is her new thing that she says when she gets in trouble. I think she learned it from Cloey. (I can look at Cloey the wrong way and she'll get all upset and say, "Why are you mad at me Mommy?")

I also found another note (1st picture) that said...

I lov you
Jeses.
You ar mi favte.

Translation: I love you Jesus. You are my favorite.

Katelund is just taking off on her writing. She seriously writes notes ALL day long as she sits and sounds out every word she can think of. I LOVE to read what she writes!! One of my very favorite parts of student teaching in Kindergarten was reading what they would write about in their daily journals and seeing how they would sound out the words.

Tonight as I was laying with Katelund in bed, she started to write letters on my palm with her finger. After she was done she whispered, "Mommy I just wrote I love you on your hand." Does Motherhood get any better than that?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Counting my many blessings...

Earlier today, Katelund walked in on me as I was changing clothes. She instantly noticed the big scar on my stomach from my emergency c-section. (I don't have the normal c-section scar, I have a bigger one that starts a little bit below my belly button and runs about 6 inches down). She asked me why it was still there? I told her that it was a scar and that it will be there forever. She instantly corrected me and said, "you mean it will be there until Jesus heals you when He comes again?" Why is that my 5 year old daughter can speak more directly to my heart than anyone else? The tears started to well up in my eyes as my love for her overflowed within me. As I have pondered this thought all day, I have felt so much gratitude! I feel as if my understanding of the Atonement has increased over the last 4 months (today is exactly4 months since Clairisa's death), but I also know that in my mortal mind my understanding and comprehension of the most significant event in all of history is on quite a molecular level. But, I do know that because of that supernal act, I can be healed...we can all be healed. Healed of wounds that may or may not be visible. Wounds that may pierce so deep into our heart that healing is merely impossible without intervention from Deity.

This Thanksgiving, I feel as though my gratitude is deeper than it has ever been. I feel so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I couldn't even begin to imagine what suffering would be like without knowing the Healer. I am so thankful for my children and my husband. Each one of them have and continue to change and refine me in their own unique ways. How thankful I am for family and friends. That sentence has never meant more to me than it does now. During these last 4 months, I have literally been carried upon the wings of so many angels in my life. I cannot even begin to express my gratitude and love for all of the MANY selfless acts of love. As I continually count my many blessings and name them one by one, I am not only surprised but in awe of all that the Lord has done.

One of my favorite songs EVER....

Click here and ENJOY!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Lice and Chicken Pox

Last week Katelund came home with a letter from school letting all of the parents know that one of the students in the class has lice. They advised us all to check our child every day for awhile to make sure that they don't get it. Okay, I have to stop here and explain something. I am...well some people (like my family) think I am a little bit of a hypochondriac. I have not only thought that I've had every disease imaginable but I also thought at one point that Katelund had bone cancer b/c she was having growing pains in her legs. I was so convinced that it was more than growing pains that I made the doctor do an x-ray just in case. I have also taken Cloey into the doctor b/c I thought she had a tumor since her nose kept bleeding (I saw something on tv where the guy had bloody noses all the time b/c he had a tumor). Anyways, now that you have a little better understanding of me...back to my story...

So, Katelund was just fine. But, I swear to you the second after I checked her all of the sudden my head started itching like crazy!!! I seriously thought that somehow the lice had gotten on her backback or clothes or something (I don't even know if that is possible) and gotten in my hair. I was for sure that I had lice. Well after checking my head and both of my girls' heads for about 5 days now, I am finally feeling better about the whole thing. I think we all made it through lice-free. :) WHEW!!!

The only problem is that Andrea (my big sis) called me tonight to tell me that she thinks her daughter has chicken pox. Well, here we go. I am itching like crazy!!! I've never had chicken pox. I hope it can't spread through the phone... J/K (after my ditsy post, I decided I better put J/K after that last statement so that nobody wonders if I was really serious) :)

By the way, my friend Destinee (the photographer who took the pics on my last post) is not only great at taking pictures, she is also AMAZING with children and just an awesome person to know!!! If anyone local needs a good photographer...click here for a link to her business blog.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Reasons to Rejoice

I don't know if it is just me, but has anyone else noticed how doom and gloom everything is on the news and everywhere else? It just seems like there are so many people who are filled with despair, people who are without hope for this great country in which we live and for the current financial and economic situations that we have found ourselves in. I know that times are tough and that there is a full-frontal attack that is going on right now on family and marriage, but why are people feeling so discouraged and disheartened? We know that the war on morals will only continue to get worse. We know that the attacks on family will only get more intense. BUT...we have every reason to rejoice.

We know who is going to win this war. We know that we are on the winning side...the Lord's side. So why should we fear? Moroni, he had reasons to despair and fear. He was all alone, living his life in hiding, as he watched his entire civilization fall. I couldn't even imagine how difficult that must have been. But us? There are thousands even millions of us who are on the winning side. I believe that people are better and stronger than ever. We have the ability to make a difference. Together we can stand immovable on the Lord's side. We can help bear one another's burdens and reach out to those who are suffering (financially, physically, or emotionally). I am so sick of hearing people complain that everything is so horrible b/c Obama is president and now everything is going to fall to pieces. I believe that there is some good in Obama and I believe there are some good men in high places who are still fighting for the right thing.

How thankful I am to live right now. To live in a time where I must take a stand, it is no longer a time where one can just sit on the fence. If we are prepared spiritually and temporally there is no reason to fear. We must rejoice for the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must rejoice for a living prophet who stands here on the earth to lead this great army of righteousness. We must rejoice for all that is good. We must rejoice in our Savior, the commander of our army, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and know that He will come again.

We have every reason to rejoice.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ditsy Moments

I don't know why, but lately I have had quite a few ditsy moments. I don't know what the deal is. For example, the other day I said to Cory (while looking at the calendar). Oh wow, Cory, Black Friday is actually on Friday this year. He looked at me and said, "seriously?". Yes. I was serious. Totally forgot that Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday.

Yesterday I was dropping off Ashley (I'd been staying with her and her brothers while their mom was out of town) at school. High School (that is an important part of the story). We were talking and laughing about something and then Ashley turns to me and says, "Um, Sister Mann, you went in the wrong lane." Yep, I'd totally turned into the lane that had a BIG RED "DO NOT ENTER" sign. I felt so bad as she walked into school with her coat over her head so nobody would know who was riding with that dumb driver. J/K, she didn't put her coat over her head, but I wouldn't have blamed her if she did.

I showed up for ward council meeting 30 minutes late because somehow I forgot when it started (although I do go to that meeting every month).

We took the youth on a temple trip this last weekend. I drove around FOREVER looking for the Cicis (that was right down the road from the temple) while everyone else was there waiting for us.

I could seriously keep going, but I think I'll spare myself the humiliation.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Boring Games

Sometimes I get so caught up in all of the things that need to be done; cleaning, organizing, cooking, laundry, etc..., that I forget to make time for the most important thing during the day...spending one on one time with Cloey. I had a whole list of household chores that I needed to accomplish today, and by afternoon Cloey was getting sick of falling me around (heaven forbid that she go and play by herself). She just wanted me to play with her. So, I stopped what I was doing and did a puzzle and then played hide and seek (MANY TIMES!!). Then she said, "what should we play now?" I said, "how about if we play the folding clothes game or the put daddy's socks away game?" She looked at me with an "I'm not that stupid Mom" look and said, "No, no boring games like that. Your games are boring."

Amen to that!!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

After re-reading my previous post, I felt like I needed those who read my blog but who don't see me regularly, to know that I have found lots of comfort, peace, and joy. I have great hope and I know that this life is but a small moment in the whole scheme of things. Although it hurts badly every once in awhile, it is not always like that. I have felt greater joy, gratitude, empathy, compassion and love than I have ever felt. Thank you so much for all of those who have kept our family in your prayers. The Lord has blessed us greatly with an overwhelming sense of his love and concern for us and all of his children.

Remembering

Since the beginning of the school year, Katelund has been taking a gymnastics class every Thursday. She loves going and I love going to watch her. One of the first times I took her, I was very surprised to find out that one of the girls in Katelund's class was the daughter of one of the doctors in my OB/GYN group. The first time I saw her there I didn't know what to do. I didn't know if I should talk to her or not. What if she didn't recognize me. Well she did. She came over and offered her condolences and asked me how I was doing. We talked and cried together for awhile. Ever since then I have only seen her one other time because she usually has her nanny there with her daughter. Well, yesterday she was there again. As we said our hellos and talked briefly, the memories all came flooding back to me.

As I drove home I couldn't help but go back in time as I remembered. I think about Clairisa every single day, but I try to forget some of the more traumatic details of that day...Saturday, July 26th. It was a Saturday that will forever be etched in my memory. A day where my worst fear became a reality. Friday night had been a horrible night. I had been having contractions every five minutes and I had a horrific pain in my back all night long. I kept calling the nurse but there was not a whole lot she could do for me. I was already taking the maximum dose of the procartia they were giving me to relax my uterus (it was very irritated b/c of where the placenta was located...which is why I was having pain and contractions). Anyways, it was a very long night and by the time the morning came, I was very tired and upset because I was just not feeling very good. I called Cory crying and he told me to hold tight because he was going to make me an omlet (Cory's omlets are AMAZINGLY delicious) and be up there with me as soon as he was done making it and after he bathed the girls. As we were getting off the phone, my favorite nurse, Tammy, came in to monitor Clairisa's heartbeat (a routine that was done for an hour every morning and for another hour in the evening). They normally don't monitor the baby's heartbeat so much while you're in the high risk maternal unit, but Clairisa had an arrhythmic heartbeat so they watched it closely. Her heartbeat would be between 140-180 (it was usually always in the 150s) but then it would drop really low for a couple of beats and then go back to normal. They said it was very normal and nothing to worry about but they still wanted to watch it closely. So while Tammy was monitoring it everything was great until the last 15 minutes. Her heartbeat dropped and wasn't coming up. We thought that she had just moved b/c when the monitor can't find the heartbeat it just stays where it was or goes to my heartbeat. Anyways, after a couple of minutes, we both started to feel a little anxious. She went out to call the doctor, but he just happened to be in the hallway at that very moment (this doctor was known for coming very late in the day to do his checkups, but for some reason he had felt impressed to do things differently that day). He came in with the ultrasound machine and by the time she was on the screen her heartbeat was very weak.

As much as I want to, I will never forget the next 15 minutes. When he said the words "we need to take her out now!", I can't even begin to tell you how scared I was. I was trying to call Cory but he wasn't answering (he was giving the girls a bath and didn't hear his phone) which made me panic even more. Once I was in the O.R. they were still trying to find her heartbeat just in case it bounced back up. At one point, the nurse got all excited b/c she said she'd found the heartbeat at 150. The doctor ran over and then said, "No, it's Melissa's heartbeat." It was such a surreal experience. I had a lot of things going through my mind, but honestly I never thought I would really lose her. By the time the doctor got her out and handed her to the pediatrician, her heart had stopped beating. My mom actually asked the doctor at one of my check-up appointments when her heart had stopped beating, but he said he didn't know. By the time he'd gotten to her it was very faint and then gone.

The biopsy of my placenta showed that there was an abruption, which means that my placenta had torn off of the uterus wall just a little bit...but enough to cause Clairisa to lose too much blood. Had it happened on Friday night when I was experiencing so much pain? I don't know. But I do know the Lord was in control. It was all in his hands. I know that with all of my heart. But, as I flash back on the previous experience, I feel my heart trembling within me as I think about what could have been. I miss her. I miss her everyday. Traumatic experiences really change a person. I feel like in many ways I feel more gratitude and love, but in other ways, I feel like I just want to run and hide and pretend like it never happened. It is hard to remember the details. To remember when they told me she had not made it. To remember holding her for the first and last time. To remember giving her to the nurse and watching her lay her little body in a box that I would never be able to open again. To remember waking up on Sunday morning and crying in agony because it really hadn't just been a bad dream. To remember attending my own child's funeral.

It hurts, but remembering is part of healing.

{Thank you to my friend, Laura C., who spent so much time with me yesterday while I was visiting teaching to just let me remember.}

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thankful Thursday

My mom was asked to teach a class at her enrichment about gratitiude. I asked her for a copy of it b/c it was SO GOOD (she read it to me over the phone)!!! I won't post the whole thing....but I just had to share the first part.

"When Sister Hilton called and asked me if I would teach a class about gratitude and how to teach it to children, I called my daughter Melissa to ask her how she teaches her daughters about gratitude. She told me this story. She has been trying to teach her two daughters Katelund and Cloey to be more grateful so when they start complaining or showing ingratitude she will remind them to be grateful by saying to them “you do not have an attitude of gratitude”. After several reminders over several days, on one particular occasion when Katelund was being ungrateful Melissa said “Katelund you do not have an attitude of gratitude!” Katelund tired of being reminded said, “Mommy, I hate attitude of gratitude!”

Obviously that didn’t work!

As I’ve been pondering gratitude and what it is, I’ve decided that even though the phrase attitude of gratitude is catchy, gratitude is more than an attitude; I like to think of it as having “a grateful heart”.

This summer I was blessed to be able to go to North Carolina and spend 3 weeks with my daughter Melissa and her family. They live in a partially built out neighborhood. One day I took my two granddaughters, Katelund and Cloey for a walk through the undeveloped part of the neighborhood. We walked along the street past vacant lots filled with weeds. As we were walking, Katelund said, “OH Grandma look at this beautiful flower! She saw the flowers in a vacant lot filled with weeds. Katelund may not have understood the catchy phrase, attitude of gratitude, but she is learning to have a grateful heart.

In this past General Conference President Monson quoting a well known author said,” Both abundance and lack of abundance exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend….when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present … we experience heaven on earth.”

When I heard that quote in conference I thought of my little grand-daughter who saw the flowers in a vacant lot filled with weeds."

Later on in her class, she recited the following poem...


I Am Thankful for… by Nancie J. Carmody

I am thankful for ….

…The mess to clean after a party because it means I have been surrounded by friends.

…The taxes I pay because it means that I’m employed.

…A lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.

…Dirty dishes in the sink because it means I have enough to eat.

…My shadow who watches me work because it means I am out in the sunshine.

…The spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am capable of walking.

…All the complaining I hear about our government because it means we have freedom of speech.

…My huge heating bill because it means I am warm.

…The lady behind me in church who sings off key because it means that I can hear.

…The piles of laundry and ironing because it means my loved ones are nearby.

…The alarm that goes off in the early morning hours because it means that I’m alive.

…Weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day because it means I have been productive.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans and Bishops

Last night I was explaining to Katelund what Veterans Day was all about. I told her that it is a day where we think about and give thanks to all of those men and women who have or who are currently serving our country and making our world a safer place.

Well today while we were driving in the car, Katelund and Cloey were in the backseat fighting like crazy (their favorite past time in the car) and I was desperately trying to distract them by pointing out all of the beautiful trees and mountains around us. As we were approaching the Bishop's house, I told them to tell me when they saw Bishop's house. Then I told Katelund that maybe she should say a prayer of thanks to Heavenly Father for the beautiful world He made for us and for our Bishop who works so hard. So we all fold our arms (well, not me b/c I was driving) and Katelund says her prayer. She said, "Thank you so much for the beautiful earth that we live on and thank you for our Bishop and all that he does to serve our country and world." It was so sweet, but I think she confused the role of a Bishop and a veteran. Although, I guess when you think about it, Bishops really do make our country and our world a better place.
So thank you Veterans and thank you Bishops!

Patience

Yesterday Cloey spilled her water all over the counter. When I went into the kitchen to see what had happened, I kindof panicked b/c there was some stuff on the counter (like my phone, Cory's batteries to his airplane, and some bags that I needed to return) that I didn't want to get wet. I was expressing my frustration out loud (never a good idea) and Katelund very sweetly said to me, "Mommy, I think you've forgotten your patience."

Always a Race!!

Last night we took a family trip to Walmart. (sounds fun, huh?) After we got the three things that we'd gone for, we went to the front of the store to wait in line. We went to the lines that were "20 items or less". For each of the lines that were open, there were about four people in line already and I swear some of the people had at least 21 items. Anyways, so Cory chose a line and I chose a line. I thought for sure that the line I chose was going to be the fastest one. Well, we waited and waited and it was really looking like I was going to win, but it was close....too close. By this point, Cory and I's competitive sides were very apparent. I was actually getting nervous. Cloey was cheering my side on and Katelund was cheering Cory's side (that is always how it goes). Then...BAM...it always happens like this....something went wrong and the cashier in MY LINE had to call for a manager. WHY??? It always happens to my lines. In fact, it happened at the bank just last week. But the bigger question is...why do I care? Why does it always have to be a race? I think it is something my dad ingrained in me. He would always say, "Everything is a race." I was pretty upset but then....oh wait...it wasn't over. I had taken the cart over to Cory's aisle (only b/c he was the one with the money and I thought the race was over), but then the manager came over to the cashier right as it was our turn. He had to take some cash out of the register. In the end, it was a dead tie. I couldn't have been more happy (that's actually a lie, I would've been happier if I'd have won). :)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

New Look

If you have read my blog for awhile, you have probably noticed that I have an obsession with change. I cannot keep my blog looking the same way for more than a month (if that). I have changed my color, layout, pictures, title, etc. over and over again. What can I say? I just like change. I just get sick of looking at the same colors and design. I am one of those people who LOVE and live for change. I guess that is why I loved teaching Kindergarten and being the primary music leader. I always had to think of new ways to teach the same things. I get excited about and am constantly looking for new ideas and new ways to liven things up. I have even gone so far as using the Bernstein Bear book, "The Spooky Old Tree", to teach my laurels about morality and chastity.

Anyways, back to the reason why I have written this post. My sister (in all her creative genius) created a new look for my blog (as you can see). Of course, I absolutely love it. I told her to surprise me. After she completed it she showed it to her husband, Ryan, and he said, "it is very Melissa". I totally agree. When I called her to thank her she told me that the only stipulation is that I have to leave it be for at least one month. I think I can do it. :) So here's to my new look and to the best big sister in the whole world!!!!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Book for Baby Riley

Today I went to my friend's baby shower. I made a board book for her (if you like this book, you should see the ones my sister Andrea makes...click here). I've posted a few of the pages below...



Tights and Party Drinks

After writing my post about how Cloey's world is coming to an end b/c it is too cold to wear skirts everyday, my sweet sister-in-law (Amber) sent me a package in the mail that included a whole bunch of sweet little surprises...one of them being a couple of different color tights for Cloey. Thank you Aunt Amber!!! I think you are now Cloey's favorite person. Life can now go on.
My little school girl. I can't believe how grown-up she is getting. It is so funny because I swear all that she does when she is at home is play school, draw pictures, or write letters and words. It is so fun and adorable!!!
Katelund had the day off of school a while back and so she decided to surprise me and make up her own recipe. She called it her "party drink" It consists of; half and half, sugar, apple bites (she literally took an apple, bit off a piece, and threw it in), olives, marshmallows, and pineapple. I told her that she had to drink it to make sure she liked it. She took a sip and said, "YUMMY". I guess it was too yummy to drink anymore. It ended up going down the drain a couple of hours later. She was very proud of her new recipe. She even made up a recipe card that listed all of the ingredients. SO CUTE!!!

One of Cloey's favorite poses. Sorry the picture is kinda funky. Cory was playing with it on his Apple photo program.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Thankful Thursday

I saw this idea on someone else's blog, and I loved it. Not only is it the month of Thanksgiving but it is also just a good thing to post about things we're thankful for.

Today (and everyday) I am so thankful for music. To me, there is just nothing more calming, joyful, inspirational, mesmerizing, and rejuvenating than a good song. I have always loved music. I have been in choirs since I was a little girl. Not that I have a great voice, but there is just something incredible about singing in a choir. It gives me chills and makes my heart soar (only if it is a good choir, which fortunately I was always a part of good choirs. But, more than I love to sing, I LOVE to listen to other people sing, especially when they are REALLY good. More often than not, it brings me to tears.

I also love to listen to good music in my home. If I find a CD that I love I will listen to it over and over again all day long. One of my very favorite CDs is the Josh Grobin Christmas CD. Yes, I have already started listening to it. I know that it is not Christmas time yet and I should be focusing on Thanksgiving, but I can't think of anything that I am more thankful for than Christ, so really it is perfect. I also love the song "Bleeding Love" (it brings me to tears these days though b/c it reminds me of Clairisa). Another one of my favorites is "Freckles" by Natasha Bedingfield. One of my all-time favorites is "Oh My Soul Hungered" from the Book of Mormon soundtrack. I could go on and on. What is your favorite song?

Click here to hear a GREAT song!!!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Oh How Lovely Was the Morning

This morning I went on a run before Cory had to leave for work. I didn't go my usual route, I decided to go the other direction. Everything was perfect. The trees were breath-taking with all of their multi-colored leaves, the air was crisp, cold, and fresh, and the sky was the most beautiful blue without a cloud in the sky. On my way back home, I was running up a hill with my music blaring and feeling great. As I got to the point where it leveled out, I stopped dead in my tracks.

It was the most beautiful scene. I can't even put it into words for you. There was not a house to be found. The road was lined on both sides with the most amazingly tall and beautiful trees . Their bright yellow, red, and orange leaves were falling down everywhere in the breeze and the sun was shining through the branches. I was completely in awe!! On my music, I turned on the song, "Oh How Lovely Was the Morning" (one of my favorites). I started walking and I just wept as I soaked in all of the beauty around me. As I listened to the words of the song, my heart burned within me as I felt the Spirit testify once again to me that Joseph Smith truly did see God the Father and His son, Jesus Christ.

During our Women's Conference this last weekend, one of the speakers (one of my favorites) was "Inkmom". My favorite line in her talk was, "If He [God] made everything, then why shouldn't we see Him in everything." This morning I definitely did.

Monday, November 03, 2008

One of my new favorite recipes!!! (Thanks Kim)

Baked Potato Soup

2 medium potatoes

2 tbls butter

1cup diced white onion

2 tbls flour

4 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

¼ cup cornstarch

1 ½ cups instant mashed potatoes

1 tsp salt

¾ tsp pepper

½ tsp basil

1/8 tsp thyme

1 cup half and half

Garnish:

½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

¼ cup crumbled bacon

2 green onions, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 and bake potatoes 1 hour or until done. Remove from oven and cool.

As potatoes cool, prepare soup by melting butter in large sauce pan. Sauté white onions until light brown. Add flour and stir to make a roux.

Add broth, water, cornstarch, mashed potatoes, and spices to pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Cut potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out contents. Discard skins. Chop potato into ½ inch chunks. Add chopped potato and half and half to soup. Bring to boil. Reduce and simmer for 15 minutes. Spoon into bowls and garnish tops. Serves 6 – 8.

I felt like this post may com ascross as offensive so I decided to just erase it.

I think that we are all just doing the very best that we can and in voting we should vote for whomever we feel will do the best job not only for us individually, but also for our great country.

God bless America!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Not Funny Enough?

So I just got off the phone with my sister Andrea. She was talking about someone's blog that she reads and how funny it is. Then later on in that same conversation she said something that I heard as..."Your blog is always serious and never funny." So just to get the record straight.....I AM FUNNY!! Do you like how I have to declare my sense of humor to everyone...that must be a bad sign.

So here I am trying to be funny....

Yesterday was a pretty big day in my life. It was the opening of...(wait for it)....SUPER WALMART! Not only was it a brand new big clean store where I can buy my favorite brand of Great Value...but it is also 1.5 miles away from my front door. I was so excited about it that I was actually seriously considering attending the ribbon cutting. I didn't, but only because it was at 7:30 am (which is the time where I am frantically running around in my robe making breakfast, packing lunch, and forcing Katelund to brush her teeth and get dressed). So I ended up going later in the day and spent about 2 hours just pushing my cart around the store while Cloey was crying because she wanted everything she could see. So after picking out everything that I really "needed" and buying groceries for the rest of the week, I ended up checking out with a grand total of.....$66. You just can't beat that.

How did I do? Did anyone laugh, even just a little bit? So maybe I am not funny like MommyJ, Ciera, Leslie, Destinee, Andrea..etc, etc,....okay so maybe I'm not funny.

So on to more serious matters. :) For all of you serving in YWs, I have to tell you about our fun activity this week. We played glow in the dark basketball. I bought an actual glow in the dark bball at Target and then I bought a bunch of glow stick bracelets. I numbered off the youth and all of the "ones" got a yellow or green bracelet and the "twos" got a red or orange bracelet. Then I took them into the gym and told them the rules (really there aren't too many rules to playing basketball in the dark except be nice, play fair, and good luck getting a basket). Then I turned off the gym lights and turned on a strobe light and black light (thanks Destinee). It was SO MUCH FUN!!! Then I gave a spiritual message at the end about increasing the light of Christ in their lives and eliminating the darkness that comes from sin. Then I gave them Oreos for dessert (you know the light layer surrounded by darkness).

Oh by the way, Katelund and Cloey cut each other's hair last Saturday while they were home with Daddy. Good thing we just spent $50 a month ago getting them adorable little haircuts. So here we go with haircutting experience ROUND 3!!! What is the deal???

I know this is a long post, but I had a bad day and I can't call anyone b/c EVERYONE is watching the Office (ANDREA) and Cory is playing basketball at the church.

I can't find my camera battery charger anywhere and it is making me CRAZY!!! How am I supposed to make it through Halloween without a camera???

This week was Clairisa's original due date. Brittney (my other sister-in-law) had her baby today. It was an emotional week and that's all I'll say because I'm sure that everyone is sick of hearing about my sorrows.

That's it. Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Randomness

I have a new running partner...my next door neighbor Lily. She is 10 years old and the cutest thing ever. One day I was telling her about how we are running a family fun run on Thanksgiving morning. She told me that she wanted to do it too and so yesterday she came and knocked on my door to ask me if I could go running with her. How adorable is that?? As soon as Cory got home we were out the door. It was SO COLD, but we had a great time. It is so fun to hear and see life through a 10- year-old girl's perspective.

This morning Katelund crawled in to bed with me and told me that she had something to tell me...she has a boyfriend. AHHHHH!!! I never imagined it would start this early...although even as I type that sentence I realize that I had my first boyfriend at 4 years old. What was wrong with me? I decided to set some ground rules. I told Katelund that she cannot have a boyfriend until she is in college and that she can't get married until she is 25. She then asked me, "Mommy when were you married?" At the very same time I said "almost 20" and Cory said "19" and started laughing his head off. Katelund then said, "Well there is nobody in my class that I want to marry." Should I be relieved or worried?

Last night Cory and I took the girls on a "walk". I found two cans of Halloween silly string that I'd been saving and I thought it would be fun to have a silly string attack on the girls. We walked them down to the end of the street and then we started to spray like crazy. Well instead of the fun crazy excitement that I was hoping for....both, Katelund and Cloey, were in tears. Apparently they were scared because they thought it was spider webs. So much for my great idea. Talk about the ultimate back fire.

Cloey is having some major trauma in her life. It is officially too cold to wear a skirt everyday of her life. I have been forcing her to wear pants. I don't know how she will ever get through fall and winter! She says, "pants are not beautiful mommy." "You are so mean to me." I am just so excited for her teenage years! (If you didn't notice, that last sentence is DRIPPING with sarcasm) :)

I swear the longer that Cory and I have been married, the more our minds are becoming in sync. I have been thinking for the last couple of weeks that I really need to buy us some anticavity mouth rinse like the girls use. Well yesterday on his way home from work guess what he picks up at the store? That's right....anticavity mouth rinse. How did he know? He said that he'd been thinking the same thing. That is not the first time this has happened. It has actually happened a lot lately. Maybe I should start thinking about how I want a cricut for Christmas???

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Stake Conference

This weekend was Stake Conference. It was so wonderful, especially Saturday night. Every talk focused on a title of the Savior. For example; Our Redeemer, The bread of life, the Lamb of God, the Advocate, and the Prince of Peace. They were all incredible (especially the one on the Lamb of God....GREAT JOB Destinee!)
Anyways, on our way home this afternoon, Cloey said, "Wow that was a fun party." Cory and I started laughing and then she corrected herself and said, "I mean that was a really great show."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Halloween Costumes

Last Saturday I took the girls to Walmart to pick out their costumes (yes, I know that if I were a really good mom I would make them myself, but this year it's not happening). Anyways, Katelund chose a Tinkerbell costume and Cloey chose a pink princess dress (surprise, surprise). :) They insisted that I needed to get a costume as well, so I told them that I'd wear whatever they picked out for me. They chose a purple Renaissance Queen costume. It is actually pretty cute. On the ride home Katelund said, "Ok, so your the queen and Cloey's the princess so I have to be Tinkerbell to protect you both. So what's Daddy going to be?" I said, "I don't know what do you want him to be?" She then said very matter-of-factly, "Well, I think he should be Superman because Superman saves the day and Daddy ALWAYS saves the day."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Busyness

My life has been so crazy busy the last couple of weeks. Here's a list of some of the things that
I've been up to...

*A week ago, I attended my very first baby shower since Clairisa's death. I wasn't going to go but I was asked to help with the food so I decided to go and see how long I could last without falling apart. I actually held it in the whole time. I bawled for about an hour afterwards, but I did it.

*I planned, organized, shopped, and cooked for a pancake breakfast/planning meeting for the youth in our ward. We planned out all of the combined Wed. night activities for all of 2009.

* I am helping plan for a wedding reception at the beginning of the year and a baby shower next month (not for the same person) :)

* I have been getting crafty making YW in Excellence invitations and baby shower gifts.

* I've been shopping and making kits for the crafts that I am teaching at our ward's upcoming Super Saturday.

* I spent this morning decorating the gym for YW in Excellence tomorrow (it looks SO GOOD).

*I've been reading a book that a member of our stake presidency wrote about the Book of Mormon. It is in review at Oxford where it will hopefully be published. Oxford has one copy of it and guess who has the other...that would be me (I'm a family friend).

* Amber (my sister-in-law) had her baby last Friday. She named her Callie Clairisa. She is absolutely beautiful. I was so happy for her family but it was also a really hard day for me. There were a lot of tears shed that day; happy ones and sad ones.

* I went on a hike with the youth in our ward up in the mountains. It was breath-taking!! I LOVE Asheville in the fall.

*Youth fireside, BYC, interviews, and YW presidency meetings.

*And...on top of it all, I've had to be a single parent a lot lately b/c it is the time of year for Cory when he has to travel a lot and work lots of hours, which means I have to drag my girls around with me everywhere. They are beginning to hear the phrase "Don't touch that, it is for Young Womens" way too much.

Life is busy and crazy, but it is good. Cory is so supportive of me. He holds me when I cry, makes me laugh when I need a pick-me-up, and does so much for me all of the time. Katelund and Cloey are also so wonderful and patient with me. I am looking forward to next week when life will slow down for a little bit, but at the same time I am grateful for the busyness b/c it keeps me going strong each day. On days where there isn't much to do, I find myself feeling more down than usual. Time does heal all wounds, but I think that losing a child leaves a scar that never disappears and the pain never really goes away either. At the youth fireside on Sunday, the speaker played an interview with Viktor Frankl. In it he said the following, "despair= suffering - meaning". I think that is SO incredibly true. Although I have definitely felt suffering, I don't feel despair because there is meaning. There is meaning in life and death, and because of that, I feel hope.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tag!

Here are the rules: I have to answer the following questions with one word answers and one word only! Then I must pass it on to seven others.

1. Where is your cell phone? purse
2. Where is your significant other? shooting
3. Your hair color? fake
4. Your mother? beautiful
5. Your father? hero
6. Your favorite thing? family
7. Your dream last night? wierd
8. Your dream/goal? celestial
9. The room you're in? living
10. Your hobby? creating
11. Your fear? eyeballs
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? settled
13. Where were you last night? home
14. What you're not? good-at-answering-with-one-word
15. One of your wish-list items? cricut
16. Where you grew up? Texas
17. The last thing you did? meeting
18. What are you wearing? comfy
19. Your TV? datenight
20. Your pet? nonexistent
21. Your computer? essential
22.Your mood? happy
23.Missing someone? Clairisa
24. Your car? van
25. Something you're not wearing? shoes
26. Favorite store? Goodwill/Target
27. Your summer? hard
28. Love someone? MANY
29. Your favorite color? red
30. When is the last time you laughed? today
31. Last time you cried? yesterday

I tag....Destinee, Deon, Mandy, Amber, Crystal, Jenny, and Austyn.

Friday, October 17, 2008

What is it about blogging?

I don't know but whatever it is I LOVE it!! I had some friends over this morning and of course my conversation (like many that I have) found its way to mentioning how much I love to blog and how I think that they should do it too. I must have done a great convincing job b/c I have now introduced fresh blood to the blogging world. I don't know if they will curse my name (once they are addicted) or thank me like crazy (b/c hopefully they will love it too). There are a lot of reasons why I love blogging, but I have decided to narrow it down to a top 10 list.

1. Because writing down my feelings and frustrations is so therapeutic.
2. I no longer feel guilty about not writing in my journal...this is my very non-private journal. :)
3. Because I have gotten to know my friends and family on such a deeper level b/c there is just something about writing that really shows whats in your heart and who you are.
4. Because I love to feel the validation, love, and support that comes from all of those who leave comments.
5. I have kept record and written about things that I never would've otherwise.
6. Through my blog, I really feel like I have been able to feel more gratitude in my life.
7. I have come to see how amazing people really are.
8. I have learned so many things and gotten so many great ideas from other friends' blogs.
9. I have realized how much we really do need each other. I need to know that I am not alone in this crazy scary world and that there are other moms out there who have the same fears, worries, and dreams that I do.
10. And last but definitely not least...In sharing my sorrow and pain over losing Clairisa, I have found healing.

Thank you to all of my blogging friends. I love you all.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Lady's Night"

The last couple Family Home Evenings, the girls and I have given Cory massages as part of the night in order to show our thanks to him for all of his hard work on our behalf. Well yesterday Cory said that he was going to do Family Night. So he turns on relaxing music, turns the lights down, and gives us each a towel to lay on. Then he says that since we have been spoiling him lately, that he wanted to give us a "lady's night". Then he gave each of us a facial with a mud mask, apricot mask, and moisturizing massage on our face and hands. It was AMAZING!! I wish my camera would've been charged b/c it was pretty funny to see all of us with our mud mask on. After the massages, he follows up with a scripture and mini lesson on service. I just kept looking at him in awe! Throughout these last couple of months, Cory and I's love and appreciation of one another has really increased. I am so grateful for such an incredible husband. He truly is my best friend, the man of my dreams....my everything!

A GREAT POST

This morning I read one of the sweetest posts ever and I just wanted to share it with everyone. Leslie, I hope you don't mind. :) Click here.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Handbag Giveaway

Here is your chance to win a free handbag! Go to www.handbagplanet.com and register to win. To launch their new products, Handbag Planet is giving away 1 bag every hour on their first day (which is October 15th). Cute stuff!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Questions and Dreams

It is so amazing to me how much Clairisa's death has impacted Katelund and Cloey. They continually ask questions about her and about death in general. Here are some of the latest questions they've asked...

Cloey- "Mommy, can't we ride in a space ship to go see our baby?"
Cloey- "Can we buy this dress (we were at Target) and give it to our baby when we see her again?"
Katelund- (she was on the stairs crying when she asked me this question) "Mommy someday when you and Daddy die am I going to be left all alone?"
Katelund- "When will Clairisa be resurrected?"
Cloey- "When can we have our baby back?"
Katelund- (referring to the graveyard where Clairisa is buried) "Are those all babies that have died too?"
Katelund- "When will I die?"
Cloey- "When will Jesus bring our baby back?"
Cloey- (she was looking at a picture that Cory's parents gave us of the Savior holding a baby girl) "Mommy, is that our baby Claire?"
Cloey- "Is our baby with great Grandpa Black?"

We have had so many good conversations about death and resurrection. Recently, I have been a little worried about Katelund though. Her first reaction to Clairisa's death was anger and bad behavior. Then it turned to sadness and now it is just a lot of pondering and questions. This morning Katelund woke me up at about 5 to tell me about her "really good dream". I asked her what it was about and she said that she had dreamed about Jesus. In her dream Jesus came to our home and left a treasure box in our mailbox and then he told her that he will always watch over our family. I don't think that it was a coincidence that she would have had such a dream. I believe that she needed to have that dream to give her the peace and reassurance that she needs to know that everything will be alright.

My sister-in-laws are both about to have their baby girls. As their due dates are approaching, the pain in my heart has become more intense. I am so happy for them and their families, which makes it really hard to hurt at the same time. I know that it is normal for a grieving mother to ache inside when she sees a pregnant woman or a newborn baby, but I don't want to. I want to be happy for all of my millions of friends who are either pregnant right now or who just had their babies. :) Seriously, EVERYONE is pregnant around me. For all of you who are reading this blog and are pregnant (probably almost all of you), I want you to know that I really am happy for you and your families. I am sorry if I don't always comment on your blogs when you show your cute tummies or when you talk about how soon the day is approaching when you will hold your baby in your arms. It is such a mix of emotions, and for that I am truly sorry. I know that I can get past this, but for now please just know that I love you all. As this has been on my mind lately, I actually had a dream the other night that Clairisa was with me. It was the most incredible dream and I woke up so extremely happy and grateful. I consider my dream yet another tender mercy from the Lord.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

More Pictures

I have a confession. I totally kept Katelund home from school yesterday b/c she stayed up way too late all weekend long with Grandma and Grandpa. She just needed a catch-up day.
My Grandma Black's FAMOUS Apple Crisp. It is a family favorite. Here is the recipe...
1 tsp cinammon
2 tbsp flour
1 c. sugar
3-4 cups grated apples
Mix together and put in bottom of an 8x8 pan
3/4 c. butter
3/4 c. oats
3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
Mix and sprinkle over apples. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes. It is best when served with Blue Bell vanilla ice cream!!!

Picture Udate

First of all, as embarrassing as this is, I have to tell you what was going on while I was uploading these pictures this morning. There was a fire going on in my kitchen....yes, I'm serious. I had turned on a burner b/c I was going to boil some water and then I left the room to come to the computer. Well, I heard some funny noices and smelt a funny smell, sure enough I went into the kitchen and I'd turned on the wrong burner. The one that I had turned on had a plastic spoon laying over the top of it that had about 6 inch flames all around it. Yes, it was very scary and luckily it was easy to get out. Although now my house smells like burnt plastic. So nasty. The other week Cloey had her hair chopped off. She was very excited and I was very nervous.
This picture doesn't even do it justice...it looks SO ADORABLE!!!
My new toy

Cory's new toy. If you are wondering why he looks like he is growing a forest on his face, it is because "it is almost hunting season". Apparently, I am going to be married to a grizzly bear during hunting season every year.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Conference Goals

The man who said the opening prayer during the Sunday afternoon session said it perfectly, "our wounded hearts have been healed, our hardened hearts have been softened, and our weakened hearts have been strengthened." Instead of listing my favorite quotes like I usually do, I have decided to make a list of some of the things that I felt in my heart; things that I feel impressed to change or do better at...

1. Simplify my life.
2. Share the gospel of Jesus Christ, it is the greatest gift I have to offer.
3. Prepare my family with "spiritual home storage".
4. Arrive early for sacrament meeting in order to prepare myself for the most important thing I will do all week.
5. Increase in hope
6. Be more angelic to others
7. Increase the unity of our home and Young Women
8. Be a peacemaker more often
9. "Step away from sowing seeds of disunity"
10. Look for opportunity in the midst of opposition
11. Make a stand for a return to virtue
12. Find joy in the journey NOW!
13. "Never let a problem to be solved more important than a person to be loved"
14. Adapt to the changes in my life and find joy in them.
15. Have more gratitiude
16. Be a more effective Young Women leader
17. Be a better visiting teacher!!!
18. "Find someone who is having a hard time and do something for them"
19. Be generous
20. Enjoy each day with my children

Friday, October 03, 2008

My Dearest Clairisa,

Tomorrow is the day. The day that I was supposed to be in labor with you, my last beautiful baby girl. It was a day that was supposed to be absolutely perfect. Instead, tomorrow will be a day filled with emptiness, loneliness, tears, and sorrow. A day where my empty arms will hang in agony and a day where my broken heart will seem to shatter all over again. Losing you has been one of the hardest experiences of my life because it has made me feel one of the most intense and paralyzing pains of mortality...the pain of losing a child, a baby, a perfect gift from God above. This experience has also been one that has brought me more purpose and motivation, a greater love for those around me, and a clearer understanding and recognition of my Heavenly Father, my Savior Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.

I feel such a greater urgency to fortify our family and to strengthen your sisters. We all want to be with you again, and that means that we must be more diligent, faithful, and steadfast. I do not understand God's purpose for all things, but what I do know is that there is a plan and a purpose for each of us in our family and your short little life has given us a glimpse of eternity, a glimpse of Deity, a glimpse of what we must become, and a glimpse of all that we must do to fulfill such divine roles.

One of those glimpses came when I came home from the hospital without you. As horrible and heart-wrenching as that experience was, it was also one of the most precious and sacred experiences that I have ever had. When your Daddy laid his hands on my head to plead with our Father to send comfort and love, I felt as if the powers of heaven were sent down to strengthen me during a time when I wanted to die and to comfort me at a time when I felt lonelier than I have ever felt in my life. In your Grandma Black's car that rainy afternoon, as I was cradled in your Daddy's arms, I felt not only the powers of heaven, but also the love and concern of a Father in heaven who knew that in that moment I needed His love and comfort more than I have ever needed it. During that car ride, I felt the loneliness disappear as I knew with in my soul that my Savior Jesus Christ knew exactly how I felt and that he would never leave me to suffer alone. I also literally felt the Holy Ghost fulfilling His divine role as the Comforter. As Cory's arms were wrapped around my shoulders, the presence of the Spirit was wrapped around my entire body. Clairisa, I don't know if you were there with me as well, but I feel as if you were. The glimpse of divinity that was shown to me that day is one that will forever be etched in my heart.

At your graveside service, your Grandpa Mann said that your life would be the means of creating miracles and healing hearts. Clairisa, I have already seen this happen as I have shared your life and death with those around me. You have touched people's hearts and in so doing you have fulfilled your divine role. The amazing thing is that in the process of touching so many lifes and effecting so many people, the most powerful healing I have witnessed has been within my heart and your Daddy's, and for that my sweet little angel, I will eternally be grateful.

Years ago I began praying for a missionary. Unexpectedly, Clairisa, your life and death has opened the doors to the gospel of Jesus Christ for many and I know that your work as a missionary has only begun. You have changed my life and many others in so many ways. Thank you. Thank you for strengthening our family and giving us greater vision. Thank you for showing us the way to eternity. I love you with all of my heart and soul and I look forward to the day when I will hold you in my arms once again and look into your sweet angelic face and beautiful eyes and feel of your pure, perfect heart. That is the day of my dreams. God be with us both till we meet again!
Love Always and Forever,
Mom

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dreading and Anxiously Awaiting Saturday...

I have spent the last couple of days taking care of three amazing children ( ages 15, 12, and 9) while their mom has been out of town. Last week was exactly one year since they lost their dad. Their mom was finishing up her nursing degree and so over the last year she has not only been grieving her husband but she has also had to finish school and become the sole provider. Being a new nurse, she has had to work some pretty crazy shifts. Her kids have basically had to grow up pretty quickly. They are some of the most responsible children that I know. They literally take care of themselves, but that is not what makes them so amazing to me. They are so steadfast in their standards and they have such pure hearts. They also care and love one another in the most tender way. I have never seen a brother and sister be such good friends, especially at the ages of 12 and 15. It has been such an honor and privilege to be in their home and feel of their spirits, especially this week of all weeks.

As the days get closer to Saturday, I feel myself getting more and more anxious for the week to be over. This Saturday, October 4th, was the date that Clairisa was going to be delivered if she had not already come. She has been on my mind constantly this last week and it has been really hard to focus on anything else. It is amazing how Cloey is so in tune with my feelings and emotions. I haven't talked to her or in front of her about how hard the last week has been for me, but I can tell that she just knows. Today in the car she said to me, "Mommy I wish I could pray for Clairisa to come back to us." It took everything in me to not just fall apart because she said exactly what I have been feeling. I feel like I have come so far in the last two months, but during this last week time has slowed and my thoughts have been consumed with the words, "what if..." and "if only". I know that Clairisa's life was in God's hands and that He has a specific plan and purpose for her, but this week all I want to do is cry. I've just got to make it through the rest of the week. Although Saturday will be an incredibly hard day, it will also be a wonderful day because I will be able to listen to the Lord's prophets and apostles and I know that through their words, the Lord's Spirit will somehow heal and comfort my empty arms and bleeding heart.

30 Has Never Looked So Good



Yesterday was Cory's 30th birthday. I forgot to take any pictures at his party on Friday or last night during our family party, so instead I decided to post two of my favorite recent pictures.

Katelund, Cloey, and I made up a list of 30 things that we love about Daddy. Then we read it to him last night while we gave him back, feet, and hand massages.

These are the ones I came up with...
1. He is VERY thoughtful and romantic
2. He is adventurous and loves to try new things
3. He is charismatic
4. He loves life
5. He LOVES being a Daddy
6. He has more friends than I can count and yet he always tells me that I come 1st b/c I'm his best friend
7. He is an incredible leader
8. He is an optimist
9. He is very charitable
10. He always believes in each of us and encourages us to never give up
11. He looks super hot in his new glasses
12. He loves to read and learn new things
13. He loves and respects his parents very much
14. He always puts his 3 girls first!!!!
15. He is still a little boy at heart

The next ones are Cloey's...
16. He is always nice to me
17. He loves me
18. He gives me food
19. He plays hide and seek in the dark with me
20. He does my make-up

The last ten are Katelund's...
21. He works for our family and our house
22. He is handsome
23. He always loves to play games
24. He shares everything
25. He is thankful for us
26. God made him
27. He lives a beautiful life
28. He loves us and always makes us feel like beautiful diamonds
29. He respects us
30. He is very special

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A MUST SEE!!

Thanks to my friend Destinee, I just watched the most incredible video and listened to my all-time FAVORITE song!!! Click here to watch for yourself.

Friday, September 26, 2008

T-R-O-U-B-L-E

Since Katelund has started school, she has gotten into trouble (her clipped was moved to yellow) four times!!! One time she got in trouble for talking when she wasn't supposed to be, another time when she was hugging a classmate instead of standing quietly in line, another time when she and her friends threw rocks at recess to keep the boys away, and yesterday she spit at a boy b/c he wouldn't leave her alone. What is a mom to do?

As I have thought about these situations, I have realized that there is some positive to be found. I know that sounds weird, but let me explain. I am so grateful that my daughter makes friends so easily and shows affection to them. She can be taught when and when not to talk, but it is a lot more difficult to teach someone how to love. And....hallelujah, I am so glad that my daughter is not afraid to put a boy in his place...okay so maybe not with spitting, but at least she doesn't let people bully her and she's not afraid to do something about it. The whole rock situation....yea there is just not a whole lot of positive to find out of that one...except for the fact that she wants the boys to stay away...I'll support that until she's 20. :)

Although I have found the positive in these situations, she does not know about them and all she knows is that she got in trouble at home each time. In fact, yesterday after school I made her write a letter to tell the boy that she was sorry for spitting at him. I'm not sure if she really meant it, but hopefully she will think twice before she spits at someone again(where did she get that from anyways???).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I LOVE to See the Temple

To learn more about LDS temples, click here


Yesterday me and two of my friends, Destinee and Kristin, went to the temple. I have been wanting to go to the temple ever since I got home from the hospital, and so it was a really big deal to me. Well, if you aren't familiar with the current crisis in Asheville, you will probably not understand why it would be a very difficult thing to plan for a 5 hour drive (total time there and back) to Columbia, South Carolina.

The problem lies in the fact that gas is a very rare commodity around here. It has been for a couple of weeks now. Most people in Asheville (who don't drive an Expedition) were able to make it through a couple of weeks without filling up, but now the problem is getting worse b/c people are running out of gas and so are the gas stations. It is really hard to find gas stations that have gas (you really just have to luck out and get there as soon as they get a new shipment). The police have to come and control the lines and traffic and you have to wait in line for about 1-1 1/2 hrs. and just pray that the gas won't run out before it is your turn. So on Tuesday, Kristin had 1/4 of a tank of gas and Destinee was almost on empty (and unfortunately I don't have a car during the day right now), so each of them had to fight the crowds and try to get lucky. We were all on our knees just praying that one of them would find some gas. Kristin waited in 2 lines that day for a total of 3 hours. Each time she was turned away b/c the gas had ran out. Destinee also waited in line for an hour and got lucky (actually blessed would be a better word). So we decided to go and just hope that we could find gas in S. Carolina on our way back (which we did).

It was the best day that I have had since Clairisa's death. As I sat in the celestial room, I felt my heart burning and I felt as if I was completely healed and whole again. It was the most incredible feeling. In fact, I didn't want to leave. I could've stayed there forever. The spirit that is felt in the temple, the Lord's house, is one of the most incredible feelings on earth. It is a place where all of my fears, pains, and worries are put at ease and all I can feel is the Lord's love and the Holy Ghost calming me and leaving me with nothing but peace, love, hope and joy.

At my Grandpa Black's funeral, all of the grandchildren sang the second verse to "I Love to See the Temple". Now as I go to the temple to feel closer to my sweet baby girl, the words to that song have greater meaning and deeper emotion to me than ever before.

I Love to See the Temple,
I'll go inside someday (or yesterday :) )
I'll covenant with my Father,
I'll promise to obey.
For the temple is a holy place,
where we are sealed together.
As a child of God,
I've learned this truth;
A FAMILY IS FOREVER!!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Do You Ever...

Do you ever have one of those days...

When you feel so happy to be living and so grateful for the beautiful earth that you live on?
When you sit in church and feel your heart burn within you as the Spirit testifies of truth?
When you look at your husband and wonder how you ever got so lucky?
When you look at your children and realize that you have the best job in the whole world?
When you sing a hymn and it heals your heart?
When you feel so much love for the people around you?
When you realize that there is so much more good that you could be doing?
When you leave church feeling rejuvenated and ready to conquer the world?

Today I had one of those days.

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