Friday, October 29, 2010

CrEePing and CRaWlinG

Here are some pics of the creepy (and cute) Halloween costumes this year. This morning was the girls' Halloween parties at school. It was pretty crazy switching back and forth between their classrooms. Between sprinting back and forth through the hallways and a sweet little baby who just wanted to be exploring on the ground, I came home with no pictures. But, I do have three little girls who are all on a major sugar high (yep, Hailey has pretty much been drinking sugar milk because of all of the Halloween candy that I have been consuming). I just hope that my girls don't start to wonder where all of their chocolate is going. I can't help it!! That is why I can't have it in my house. I don't buy ice cream and I only get chocolate on special occasions (which seem to come around a little too often lately).

On to other big and exciting news... Hailey has officially started crawling, as of two days ago. She is quite pleased with herself, and I am quickly realizing how much I need to baby proof my house. I am just going to have to learn how to let some things go because between my older girls playing pretend everywhere and then crying when I ruin their fort or their classroom and with Hailey getting into everything in sight, I'm going to lose my mind. I just have to remind myself that someday I will look back and miss these days. I will miss the sound of little girls giggling and the excitement over the small and simple things that make life so wonderful. I know that I will miss it more than anything, so as I learn to let things go, I will also remember to savor every moment.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Need a Halloween gift idea?

Cory and I stayed up late last night making salsa together. I squeezed the juice out of about 15 limes and Cory cut up more onion and cilantro than he ever imagined. Cory has worked on this perfect (at least it's perfect to us) salsa recipe for many, many, many months. We LOVE it!! So, for the sisters I visit teach, some neighbors, and some of Cory's co-workers, we are going to give them a jar of salsa for Halloween. And of course, I can't just give away a boring mason jar with salsa in it.

Here is what the poem says (you can find it on sugardoodle)....

Since this is the time for goblins and bats,
Halloween spirits and spooks and cats,
Weird happenings and witches brew,
These are the things that we wish for you....
May the only ghost that comes to stay
Be the Holy Ghost to guide your way.
May the only spirit you chance to meet,
Be the spirit of love and friendship sweet.
We hope that you feel the spirit and love,
That can only come from our Father above.
These are our Halloween wishes to you
And may God bless you in all that you do.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fall Break

This is what we did over Fall Break....

B.....brunch in bed (already mentioned in a previous post) and relaxation (I made a spa day in our home. They could get a manicure, pedicure, and/or facial with make-up. I had a price list for each thing because I am trying to work on money with Cloey)

E.....exploring the zoo (we went with some friends and had such a great time!)

A....a day at the mall (and a day in bed...this is the day that I got sick)

K....Katelund's costume hunting (I had already picked up a costume for Cloey and Hailey but hadn't found the one Katelund wanted. We spent the day shopping for the perfect costume and got some other fun Halloween decor.

Cloey was excited to go back to school this morning, Katelund was not happy at all. As nice as it is to have my alone time with Hailey, I'm missing them terribly this morning. These pics were just snapshots of the week. The real fun and the greatest memories were ones that cannot be captured: moments of kindness, love expressed, lots of laughter, friendships bonded, and conversations that I'll never forget.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I think that the sickness is finally leaving. It all started on Wednesday night when I got all congested and my head starting hurting like crazy. Thursday, I felt bad all day, and then that night the fevers and cold chills began. Since I am still nursing and I refuse to pump (It's just not my thing), I have to continue feeding through sickness and all. When I was nursing Katelund, I remember being so sick one time that I couldn't keep anything down, even water. So of course, my milk was not letting down. I remember fervently praying that the Lord would intervene, just as he did for the Ishmaelite women in the Book of Mormon. He did, and I will forever consider it a miracle.

This time I was not as sick, but I knew that I could call upon the Lord once again. So there I was underneath of about four blankets shivering like crazy in the fetal position, as I snuggled Hailey up and patiently waited for another tender mercy, which came once again. Hailey is teething right now, and it is way worse than it was with the first two bottom teeth. So, she is up crying every two hours. Since Cory knew how horrible I was feeling, he stepped right in and helped comfort Hailey or bring her to my side. It helped so much and I was so grateful. He took a sick day yesterday in order to tend to his sick wife and take care of the girls. By about noon, I was feeling considerably better, but Cory was not. We both thought he was starting to get sick, but then I looked into his eyes and I knew exactly what was wrong. You see, Cory needs his sleep. If he gets less than 5 hours of sleep, his eyes get really red and watery in the afternoon and he just can't function. After he took a long nap in the basement, he was just fine. One sleepless night for him, was one too many.

It got me thinking. For the last 8 1/2 months, I have not slept a whole night. In fact, I think 5 hours is the longest that Hailey has gone. No, maybe she went 6 hours ONE night. I also have two other daughters who for some reason cannot seem to simultaneously sleep through the night. At least one of them will be up at some point needing a hug after a bad dream, a drink of water, a back rub, a leg rub, medicine, a heating pad, another blanket, a clean-up after peeing in the bed, etc, etc.... Somehow, I function during the day. I hardly ever take a nap because there are just so many other things that I should be doing. So, I just make do with the sleep that I get, and somehow, it is enough.

Someday, as we look back on our earthly experience, I believe that we will be very surprised how often the Lord mercifully intervened in our life and how frequently His hand was lifting and sustaining us. I truly believe that one of those times will be during the first year of my babies lives. During all of those long nights and days where, somehow, the sleep that I got was enough. Some may say that it is just because I am used to it and my body has adjusted, but I disagree. I believe that it is a blessing from heaven given to mothers. I am not going to say that I am never tired or that I don't look forward with great anticipation to the day when I will have a full night sleep, but for now, I am just grateful. I am grateful for a loving Savior whose infinite atonement has made it possible for not only the little sleep that I get to be enough, but has also promised that if I give all that I can give, which is really very little, that when that long awaited day comes that I return to my heavenly home, where I can experience a fullness of joy, somehow, the life that I lived and the effort that I gave, will be enough.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Reasons why "How to Train Your Dragon" is my new favorite movie

10. it is hilarious! (lots of good one-liners)
9. NO crude humor! (that's big for me)
8. a little romance (that's definitely a must for me)
7. very creative story line
6. our whole family LOVED it
5. great music! (I'm sure it's a great soundtrack)
4. no evil people
3. no parts where my girls have to close their eyes or plug their ears
2. made me cry (that is definitely another must for me)
1. oh the many lessons and symbolism behind so many things!!! I could blog on and on about all of the different things you can learn from this movie, but I will just state one. It's okay to be different and to stand up for something you believe in, even when you stand alone..


Can you say hormones?

Yesterday was not a good day. There really is no specific reason why; it was just one of those days. You know, the kind where you just aren't feeling it. When you know that there is a lot to be grateful for, and yet all you can seem to focus on are the things that aren't good. One of those days where I feel like all I ever do is clean up other people's messes and create new ones as I fix meals, organize drawers, balance the check book, etc. And of course the girls are home for fall break, which is good, but at the same time it just added more chaos and contention to my not so good day. I even tried to be a good mom and do fun stuff. I did "brunch in bed" for the girls. I even made a menu for them to choose their brunch of choice, and then I cooked it for them and served it to them all while they were sitting on my bed (with a whole lot of towels around them to contain the crumbs) watching a movie. I put my cute apron on and played the part of a waitress and everything, and yet I still was not feeling it. I was biting back my irritation with the fact that they were moving all around and screaming out my name when Hailey was in the other room sleeping. Of course she woke up, and wouldn't sleep good the rest of the day. When Cory got home, I thought that things would be better, but my mood did not improve. I hadn't said anything about my day or how I was feeling, but he just knew. In fact, he said to me, "Melissa, where is that sparkle in your eyes? Your not being your normal bubbly happy self." And then, the water works began. Actually, I think the tears really helped. Maybe all I needed was a good cry on Cory's shoulder. I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure (scratch that...I'm very sure) that hormones had a lot to do with my day yesterday. Maybe it also had to do with the gray overcast skies, or MAYBE it was a full moon last night. I don't know. But whatever it was, I hope it doesn't return (at least for another month, right?) :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Change of Seasons

I seriously L.O.V.E the fall!! I love the crisp cool air, the beautiful colored leaves, the delicious desserts, and the adorable decorations. I love it all. But, there is always a tinge of sadness that comes in knowing what the change will mean. Knowing that the long sunny days are so much shorter and so much colder. Knowing that going places with all three girls will not be as easy because of all of the sock, shoe, jacket, mitten, and hat hunting that takes place. It's just not quite as simple as "hey girls, grab your flip flops and let's go." But we'll adjust quickly. The shoes will be kept close by the door, the socks will be washed and put away (or in the laundry basket of overflowing clothes that need to be folded), and the jackets will be pulled out of the coat closet and hung on the coat rack by the garage. We'll enjoy the sunshine and blue skies even more when they are not as frequent and bedtime will definitely be easier. Change is good.

About a month ago, I was released from Young Womens. This change has been kinda hard. I miss the girls so badly! Every Wednesday night I wonder what they are doing and wish I was there to hear all about what's going on in their life. As I walk into the Relief Society room and try to decide where to sit, I can't help but glance down the hall and see who is walking into YWs. It also feels so weird to not have any meetings to go to. Instead of my family waiting on me, I now drive to and from church by myself and sit at home waiting for Cory. It is different, but I'm adjusting because I know that it is now Cory's turn to lead. And besides, I LOVE my new calling as a Sunday School teacher. I still get to be with the youth....15 of them in fact (mostly all boys) and I get to study the scriptures with them. If only, it was more than an hour a week. :)

So, ya, change is good. Life is good. Cory is traveling some but a lot less than he was earlier in the year, the girls are happy and doing wonderful in school, Hailey is almost crawling, and I am just enjoying the change of seasons.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dear Kristen,

{I know it is kind of weird that I am typing you this letter on my blog instead of as an email, but there is a really good reason. It is because someday when my children go back and read my writings, I want them to know what a true friend is so that they may search for them, cherish them, and also be one for someone else.}

Spending the day with you on Saturday was truly a gift. As I was with you, I remembered what I love so much about you. I know that you are not much of a camper, but surely from your boys and all your time as a cub master you learned that one of the most important rules of camping is that you always leave your campsite better than you found it. I have decided that this is your motto, because Kristin, you always leave people better than you find them. It is just who you are. You have a gift for loving people and I always feel so strong and ready to take on the world after I am with you.

I have so many wonderful memories of my time in Asheville, but as you know, I also have some difficult ones. But, in those difficult times, there was a reoccurring theme. You were always there. You have been by my side, as my visiting teacher, my secretary, my role model, my teacher, my sister, and my friend. I have poured my heart and soul out to you on many occasions, but some of the ones that stand out to me above all others, were the ones after I lost Clairisa. You were the first one, besides my family, that came into my home after I got back from the hospital. I didn't want to see anybody because I just didn't know what to say and I didn't want to hear what anyone else had to say either. But I knew that with you, it wouldn't matter, and of course, it didn't. Because the moment you came into my bedroom you sat by my side, embraced me in your arms, and just cried with me. As we sat and cried together, you said, without any words, exactly what I needed to hear. You taught me what Alma meant at the Waters of Mormon when he said that we should "mourn with those that mourn".

I also vividly recall the afternoon that we spent shoveling and digging up the earth to plant the tulips you had bought me, and then the many prayers that I know you prayed that they would rise in the spring because of what it would mean to me. I also remember many times in the church parking lot after our presidency meeting, standing outside and talking for hours about all of the challenges we were facing and giving hope and comfort to one another (as if you had nothing else better to do). And then of course I couldn't forget one of my last days in Asheville. As I was finishing up with all of the cleaning, there you were once again showing up in a moment when I needed a friend. You had brought lunch for us to eat together. Then as we ate, we laughed and cried on that upstairs playroom floor as we reminisced and remembered the good times we had shared.

On our way out from Asheville, you were the last person that I stopped to say goodbye to. And as I gave you those beautiful pink tulips, I wish I could have put into words all of the things that you had given me. Things that I will take with me in my heart for the rest of my life. Thank you for being such a wonderful friend. Thank you for loving my children. Thank you for always taking flowers to Clairisa's will never know how much that means to me. Elder Holland's words hit very close to home for me when he said the following...

"...When we speak of those who are instruments in the hand of God, we are reminded that not all angels are from the other side of the veil. Some of them we walk with and talk with—here, now, every day. Some of them reside in our own neighborhoods. Some of them gave birth to us, and in my case, one of them consented to marry me. Indeed heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good and so pure that angelic is the only word that comes to mind."

As I sat beside you at Women's Conference on Saturday and sang the second verse of "As Sisters in Zion", I thought it very appropriate. For surely, the Lord knew that in my life you would have the errand of an angel.

Love Always,

Friday, October 08, 2010

photo session with my little pumpkin

I don't have a fancy camera (seriously $500 or more for a camera?? I just can't bring myself to spend that much. But it must be worth it because I think I am one of the last moms on earth that doesn't have one.). I also don't have any photography skills, BUT I do have a cute baby and two sweet little helpers so I think the pictures turned out pretty good.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

I just can't get enough of her!!!!

Hailey has got to be the best baby ever! She is SO HAPPY!!! I have so much fun with her and cherish every single moment. These last 8 months have just FLOWN by so quickly. She is still not crawling but it may have to do with the fact that I always want to hold her. She is still not sleeping at night, but it might be because I shoot out of bed the second I hear her whimper and snuggle her right in next to me while she nurses herself back to sleep. She is still not falling to sleep on her own in her crib, but probably because I always rock her to sleep. What can I say? I am breaking all of the rules and loving every second of it. I don't care what the experts say. I may be a zombie during the day but she will only be a baby once and then before I know it she'll be jumping out of the van door in the school drop-off line blowing kisses as she walks away with a skip in her step and excitement on her face. Meanwhile, I'll be driving away with huge puddles of tears welling up in my eyes as I wonder where the time went. (This very thing happened this morning as Cloey was about to walk in the school door but then turned around blew me a kiss and screamed at the top of her lungs, "I love you Mommy"... life just couldn't get any better than that.)

Monday, October 04, 2010

Conference Traditions

WOW!! Conference was AMAZING!!! So many wonderful talks that have inspired, motivated, and encouraged me. I think my very favorite talk was the one about parenting with courage....okay I can't leave it at one favorite. I tried, I promise I did. I also loved Elder Arnold's talk, Pres. Uchtdorf, and Pres. Monson's talks. Okay, they were all good. But, my very favorite session was Sunday afternoon, which is unusual because my favorite session is usually on Saturday.

Anyways, on to traditions. I love hearing about people's conference traditions. I have a friend who makes cinnamon rolls with her kids during Saturday conference. I thought about doing that...but then I thought about my past cinnamon roll experiences...not so good. Growing up, we would always restock our 72 hour emergency backpacks. Well, we decided to go with traditions that may not be as domestic or or as practical, but they are perfect for our family. On Saturday, we play tennis (the girls play on a playground right next to the courts and Hailey has our own little set up...I'll have to take a pic next time we go, it's pretty hilarious). The weather seems to always be perfect on conference weekend and so we LOVE to do outdoor stuff. Cory and I actually started this tradition when we were first married. The next tradition we do is on Sunday. We have a picnic. We have gone to different places to do this (places without a playground as a temptation), but this year I think we found the perfect place. It is actually a church history site that is like 20 minutes from our house. It is the Joseph Standing Monument. Joseph Standing was serving a mission out here and was martyred. You can click here to find out more. It was a beautiful monument and it had such a peaceful reverent feeling about it. In fact, Katelund asked me if we were in the sacred grove.

So we were loving every second of our picnic....until....scroll down to the very last picture (by the way, don't look too closely at the pics...lots of mismatched clothes, messy hair, and no make-up)......

...along came a spider!! Cory freaked out (yes, he acts like a little girl when it comes to spiders) and so did everyone else (except me...I was laughing hysterically at Cory). So that pretty much ended our perfect picnic.

Sunday conference also means candy, coloring, puzzles, and anything else that keeps the girls quiet and busy. As I was searching online for ideas, I found some cute conference workbooks and one of the things they had were blank ties for the kids to color in for each speaker. I loved this idea...but not nearly as much as my girls did. I didn't even print anything off. I just drew a tie on a piece of paper and the girls colored it in to make an exact replica of the speaker's. Notice the necklace Katelund drew for Sister Cook. They even cut them out and everything. They had SO MUCH fun doing this!!! It will definitely be a must for next conference.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Oh, how I love that feeling!

Have you ever loved doing something so much that you just get all giddy inside just thinking about it and you feel like you are on top of the world and that life just couldn't get any better than it is in that very moment?

That is how I feel when I play tennis. Cory and I went and played yesterday for the first time in many years. It was SO MUCH FUN!!! I seriously could not even stop smiling. I was just so happy. There is just something incredible that happens inside of me whenever I swing that racket, especially when I hit the ball so beautifully and perfectly that it just glides right over the net and lands exactly where I want it to. Then there is that smell...oh how I love the smell of a freshly opened can of tennis balls. And of course I can't leave out how good it feels to actually be beating Cory at something, especially something that I love. It's such an amazing feeling. Oh, how I love that feeling!

That is also how I feel when I sing in a choir...a good choir that is. I L.O.V.E singing melody in a choir or a group of singers. I am definitely not a solo voice, but I do know how to read music and I am pretty good at blending in. But it is not my own singing that makes me feel that feeling of excitement and exuberance, it is the blending of voice. The sound that comes from different people with different voices who come together and blend as one voice. There is just nothing that compares to that feeling. Last weekend as we were sitting in our stake center waiting for the General Relief Society meeting to start, we divided up into sopranos, 2nd sopranos (which is my favorite part to sing), and altos. Then we were led and directed by a very musically gifted man who turned a group of sisters who were singing quietly and reserved, into a choir. The spirit in the room was amazing. All of the sudden, I felt that feeling. The feeling that comes when each and every note that I sing comes out with meaning, passion, and purpose. I felt like I was singing with angels, especially when our voices become one as we sang "As Sisters in Zion". I was not the only one in that room who had chills up my arms and tears welling up in my eyes. Oh, how I love that feeling!

That is also how I feel on the eve of General Conference weekend as I wait in anticipation to hear the voice of a prophet. To hear the prophet and apostles speak with power and authority and then to feel the Holy Ghost bear witness of truth in my heart and speak softly to my mind those things that I need to repent of and recommit to. Oh, how I LOVE that feeling!

Remembering Kelly

Yesterday was Kelly's birthday. Kelly is my brother who lived for a short five months. I slept in the same room as him. I was a couple of feet away from him in my bed the night that he passed away. The memories that I have are mostly vague, but they are still there. Somewhere in my brain are the memories of a five year old girl who was suddenly very aware of what death was. I remember my mom crying and crying. I remember the sound of the ambulance and I remember my dad holding him for the very last time. I also remember how much I loved him and how excited I was to be a big sister. I have a picture in my room of me holding him...holding the only brother I would ever know. As a five year old, I knew that he would always be part of my family. When I drew pictures in school of my family, I always drew him. When people would ask me how many brothers and sisters I had, I always included him. One day when I was pregnant with Clairisa, I was doing the dishes and had a distinct impression about what Clairisa's middle name should be. I called my mom and asked her if it was alright if I named her Clairisa Kelly. Little did I know how appropriate it would be for me to name my own daughter after my perfect brother.

When we lost Clairisa, Katelund was also five years old. I wonder what memories will stay with her. I wonder if Clairisa will change her life the same way that Kelly changed mine. Sometimes when people ask me how many children I have, I include Clairisa, but then other times I don't. But, Katelund always includes "Clairlisa". She draws her in her pictures. She prays for her and thanks Heavenly Father for her every single night. She talks about the day that we will be together again.

There was a time when she couldn't stand to see me cry. She had watched me cry and hurt so much that she just couldn't take it any more. One day I found her hiding in her closet and plugging her ears. When I asked her what she was doing she said that she just couldn't stand to hear me cry any longer. At that point, I knew that I needed to be stronger. I turned to my own mother and drew upon her strength. The strength that she had always carried with her. The strength that comes from a lifetime of experiences that carve your character. When I think of how much she helped me get through such a difficult time, I have to wonder if that was just all part of the plan. How could I have ever gone through such a trial without the example, strength, and empathy of my mother? I don't know that I could have and I thank God that I didn't have to.

Somehow, I think that losing a brother helped prepare me for the day that I would lose my daughter. These two experiences, more than any others, have made me who I am today. They have molded and refined me in so many ways. They have given me vision. But above all, they have given me hope and excitement for a future day when I will be reunited with them once again.

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