Friday, March 20, 2009

Day 19 - { baby brother bookend }

Jofus post


I'm the oldest of 8 children. My youngest brother Jofus is still living at home (but not for much longer! sniff sniff). He was born 5 days before my 13th birthday. In fact, he ruined my birthday party by coming a month early. Mom had planned a surprise party for me, had made the invitations and all, but was diagnosed with toxemia and had to deliver right away.

Little Giuseppe may have flattened the birthday party plans, but I still thought he was the best birthday present ever! I loved my tiny new brother! I was like a 2nd mom to him, babysitting, changing diapers (he loves it when I bring that up); I even took notes on his growth and progress.

He has gotten only more adorable as he's grown up, of course. :)

And since we've been in AR, there's been a sort-of tradition that Mom and Dad and whichever children are still living at home come to visit us for Spring Break! WOOHOO! I can't wait till this Sunday, when they get here!


Jofus post2


My Baby Brother is like me in a lot of ways--

born in December, musically inclined,

a little bit cranky in the mornings,


passionate about food,


and completely--perhaps unhealthily--obsessed with books.

Thus we have acquired the nickname of "The Bookends", being the first and the last in the family.

Jofus post1


What truly amazed me is how my little brother handled Benjamin's death. He was here for the birth. This almost-17-year-old lovingly held him and cried. He brought us the Sacrament in the hospital the next day. He babysat his other nephews for literally hours so that Mom and Dad could help with funeral arrangements. After I came home from the hospital, he helped me up and down the stairs, offering his arm as if for a dance. :) He led the music for the funeral.

A couple of weeks later when I was crying to him that I wanted another baby boy right away, he said, "I want a niece this time. You've already had 4 boys!" Awesome. 100 days of gratitude tag

Anyway, I hope he doesn't mind me sharing all this. I just want you all to know how wonderful he is. 

I'm grateful to be his big sister.


Two more days!


Jofus post3

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pertussis Outbreak at Davis Elementary

This post is to satisfy a burning desire I have to exercise my freedom of speech a time when the local media is totally ignoring this story! I know that many of you may not be interested in a central AR local news story (or what SHOULD be a news story!) but I simply have to get this off my chest.

At an elementary school in our school district there have recently been multiple cases of pertussis. My friend Meghan says that the two kids that sit on either side of her son in class have it, as well as others at the school. Therefore the Arkansas Health Dept has mandated that ALL students at this elementary, immunized or not, take anitbiotics. They are not providing the antibiotics unless a family is financially incapable of providing them themselves.

I know that many worry about immunizations, and many even avoid them completely. That is fine with me, as long as they homeschool!

But for the state to ALLOW un-immunized children to attend public school tramples on my rights as a parent to keep my children safe!

I don't blame parents who don't immunize their kids--they are totally receiving the natural consequence in this case. I DO blame the state of Arkansas for this. Not only should they never have allowed these children to register in public school, they should now accept the blame and provide the antibiotics. The media should be covering this, so that more people are aware of it, and can insist that things change.

Our society seems to have developed this belief that you can and SHOULD be able to have whatever you want. This makes me crazy! We are so insistent on our rights that we don't care when they infringe on others'. Let's just leave it with "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"! Pertussis is a deadly disease. My children have a right to live! If pertussis hits my kids' school, there may just be a lawsuit in the works.


Thank you. I feel better now. I hope no one is offended by this! (But I don't regret posting it. :)


How I love living in a country where I can say these things freely!

~ regular, nice-Michelle post coming soon :) ~

Monday, March 16, 2009

Curious about Mormon Temples? Go to a believer


I just discovered an excellent, well-written piece about the temple, in the perspective of why it is so special to us and why HBO stinks! :)

Please read it here at Segullah. Author is Ruth Mitchell.


P.S. The video she mentions is excellent, as well! To go straight to that, click here to visit the Church's web page.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Day 18 - { photoshop! }

Don't you think Photoshop is a "tender mercy"? I do! This may seem like a rather frivolous thing to be grateful for. :) I am grateful for Photoshop just for how fun it is to play with and to learn how to design stuff with.

But I am grateful on a deeper level for it because it granted me a wish--to see all of my family in one photo together.


At Benjamin's birth in November 2007, we were so blessed to have many beautiful pictures taken, by my mom and also by Jaime, the nurse who attended us. However, one of my sons was not willing to come into the room. He said it was "too sad." This broke my heart. I tried and tried to convince him, reminding him this was his only chance to see his little brother in this life. He simply couldn't overcome his fear of the sadness.

So we never got that family picture I wanted so desperately.


Later I got an idea. I can't remember how exactly. (Was it from you, Becky?)


Last autumn we arranged for our sweet friend Sonja, who is a very talented photographer, to take family photos of us at the cemetary. We tried to time it just right for when the trees had the most brilliant colors. The picture we used for our Christmas card was one from this photo session.

I told her about my idea, and she was so sweet to work with it and make helpful suggestions.

Beforehand I studied pictures of me holding Benjamin and tried to memorize exactly how my hands were.

Then at the photo shoot I held a white blanket just the same way.


It was wonderful to have these special pictures taken at the peaceful place where Benjamin is buried, and at the time of year when we welcomed him into our family! It really felt like he was there with us!

Sonja was so awesome to give me a disk that very night, and I came home and immediately set about putting Benjamin into the pictures. I used Photoshop to "cut him out" of the pictures from his birth, and edited them as best I could to fit well in these new pictures. Then I moved him over! :)

IMG_9758 edit


And here is the shot that fulfilled my fervent wish:

IMG_9796 edit blur

That night I must have spent several hours putting Benjamin into these pictures. It felt SO GOOD to see us ALL TOGETHER!!!!! I just loved it!! I slept so well that night with those images in my head. It was sweet.


Andrea taught me how to put a photo on canvas, and I plan to do that with the picture of the whole family, and put it above our fireplace mantel. . . .


Heavenly Father is so good to us! He has sent us here to earth to pass through pain and difficulties so that we may learn and develop our spirits. Yet He doesn't just sit back and feel sad for us. He is right with us every step of the way, finding ways to show His love even in the midst of our sorrows.

To me this was one of His "tender mercies," to be able to "see" our family as it really is.100 days of gratitude tag

The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.

                                                                                      ~Psalm 145:9

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Day 17 - {a gradual opening}



One afternoon toward the end of February I had noticed these daffodils (please pardon the weeds :) on my way to the mailbox. That they were right in the process of opening! I thought, Awesome! I'm going to sit here and watch until all the petals come out!  I thought that would be the coolest thing--a sudden opening, like an umbrella being popped open. I grabbed my camera and lay on the grass in front of them, and started snapping pictures, and waiting. (The neighbors must have been confirmed in their suspicions that I had finally lost it.) As time went by and I could see no noticeable difference I finally gave up and went inside.


I mentioned in my "invincible summer" post that things are clearing emotionally. I want to share now more about that, and especially my gratitude to Heavenly Father for bringing me to this point. I hope that what I share isn't too personal for ya'll! (Just keepin' it real. :))


Since Benjamin's birthday last November I have had this odd inclination to busy myself so that my mind could not revisit the pain so intensely. Where before that I could not help but hurt when I saw or heard other babies, or when I realized that I was doing something I couldn't have done if Benjamin were here, now as soon as I started to hurt I would turn my mind to my nursing school application, to the home improvement projects, to Christmas, anything that would distract my mind.

This seemed like a good idea because there really was a lot I needed to get done and the grief was not helping my productivity! :) But almost immediately there were side-effects: my not allowing the natural emotion to be on the surface applied to other emotions and my relationship with my beloved family. Christmas did not have that same intense beauty that it always has had for me. I didn't want to work on Benjamin's scrapbook. At all. And it seemed for a while, that each week was bringing an experience with a friend or family member whom I had previously leaned on, but who now seemed disinclined to share my grief. I was starting to get comments like, "You need to just try to be happy."

Other changes since November have been physical:

I no longer feel the phantom kicks inside that I had for over a year after he was born.

I have finally lost weight, and now weigh several pounds less than I did when I became pregnant with him.

I don't have the feeling of sheer desperation to be pregnant. It's more of a peaceful "it will happen when it's supposed to happen" feeling.


By February I hardly knew what I was feeling anymore. I haven't wanted to post much. I haven't wanted to delve deeply into my memories. It's odd because I still wanted people to talk about Benjamin but I didn't want to myself much! I know it's completely illogical. I think my brain has been broken, or there's been a major disconnect somewhere. I guess I have just been afraid that I'm not staying close to him, but afraid TO stay close, because of the pain.


It just felt like I was in limbo emotionally--not hot or cold.


I'm not sure what caused the change, but suddenly on February 27, I felt like writing in my journal! I opened it up, and saw that the last time I had written was November 9, 2008. As I wrote. . . .and wrote. . . .and wrote, I started to realize I was moving into a new phase. I could FEEL again without hurting so badly.

Back to the daffodils. THREE HOURS later I suddenly remembered them, and went back out to see them looking now like this.



And the next day, like this .



How long did it take for the whole process, I wonder? At what point did the petals go from being all scrunched up to being open and free and beautiful?

I feel like I am becoming a new person. That I have spent a long time like the bulb, buried in the ground. That I have allowed the sunlight to draw me upward into green shoots with no spectacular beauty. That for the longest time, I have just been waiting for the healing, like the greenish yellow lump that rises to become the blossom. It has been so gradual that others have become frustrated. I have become frustrated! But all the time, that blossom was there, securely tucked away until enough time had passed that it could safely emerge.

I'm not saying it never hurts anymore now. But I am finally, finally beginning to feel that I can miss Benjamin and hurt that he's not with me, without sinking into the previous depths. I can talk about him with a feeling of happiness, at how adorable he was, and that he is mine, without the crushing pain of the separation.

I want to work on his book again. I want to be a better companion to my Darling Cutie, and a more emotionally engaged mom for my living sons. I want to spend more time writing and less time reading. I want to focus less on this trial and more on others' pains. And I want to think of Benjamin often with the sweet love I have for him and less often with the angry hurt that he is not here.


100 days of gratitude tagAnd so, 16 months after passing through the death of my child, I can say that I will not only survive this, I think I will even be happy again--without ever, ever forgetting my angel son.

Thanks to my Heavenly Father and His Son, my great Healer! I cannot praise Them enough!



Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all.

Jeremiah 31: 12

Monday, March 9, 2009

Canine Brilliance for your Funny Bone

This video is so hilarious!

It reminds me of when DC was working on the grounds crew at BYU, and one afternoon when he was supposed to be asleep I heard him suddenly start laughing. He had been starting the mower in his dream and woke himself up jerking his arm up with great force.



Sunday, March 1, 2009

Day 16 - { an invincible summer }

100 days of gratitude tag Okay. I have something to say again. :)

Have you ever noticed that oranges and grapefruits ripen and are harvested in the dead of winter? Right when our immune systems need a boost the most, eh? I think that's really cool. On the way home from our trip to Texas a couple of weeks ago. I stopped at the beautamus store of H.E.B. and bought. . . .

a HUGE bag of Texas grapefruit


a HUGE bag of Texas oranges

And now we are plowing through them with much gusto and delight. (*Update: we're done with the grapefruit. sniff sniff!)

Isn't Heavenly Father amazing, designing oranges and grapefruit this way! It's a wonderful system. :)

It makes me think of something else. . . .

Here is something beautiful and inspiring that we have been watching ever since November.

Invincible Summer post

It was a birthday present for Benjamin from his Aunt Joy -- a kit for growing an oak tree, starting with an acorn!

I have loved watching it sprout and develop leaves during the winter, when all the other oak trees are "asleep." It has brought comfort to watch something grow, and think about what it will become as the years pass.

The last picture in the collage is what it looked like a couple of days ago. Isn't that amazing?


I have more to say, but it will have to wait for the next post. :)

Things are clearing emotionally.

I am so grateful.


Some notes from recent scripture study. . . .

Jacob 4.

4 For, for this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us.

~ couldn't this apply to His Second Coming, too? ~


6 Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea.

~ my faith is still a bit shaken, but I'm starting to obtain that hope! ~

11 Wherefore, beloved brethren, be reconciled unto him through the atonement of Christ, his Only Begotten Son, and ye may obtain a resurrection, imageaccording to the power of the resurrection which is in Christ, and be presented as the first-fruits of Christ unto God, having faith, and obtained a good hope of glory in him before he manifesteth himself in the flesh.

12 And now, beloved, marvel not that I tell you these things; for why not speak of the atonement of Christ, and attain to a perfect knowledge of him, as to attain to the knowledge of a resurrection and the world to come?

~ oh, how I long for a perfect knowledge of the world to come ~

13 Behold, my brethren, he that prophesieth, let him prophesy to the understanding of men; for the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls. But behold, we are not witnesses alone in these things; for God also spake them unto prophets of old.

~ "things as they really are, and things as they really will be" -- I LOVE that part ~


Ether 12: 19 (18-19)

19 And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad.

~ something to work for ~

He Anointed the Eyes of the Blind, Walter Rane