Thursday, December 30, 2010

Roseberry's 1st Birthday - 12/21/10

WHERE did you come from, baby dear?   
Out of the everywhere into here.  

Where did you get those eyes so blue?   
Out of the sky as I came through.

What makes your forehead so smooth and high?   
A soft hand stroked it as I went by.

What makes your cheek like a warm white rose?   
I saw something better than any one knows.

~George Mac Donald (1824–1905)


This day that I had tried not to dread turned out to be really fun. And I'm okay with her being one now. I think. I am starting to find joy that is stronger than the sorrow at this phase of life ending. It is a blessing.

We sang to her over and over throughout the day. Exacto freaked out at his 1st birthday party when the lights went out and everyone started singing, so I wanted her to be prepared. :)

In the evening we had her party with just us.

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There was an absolutely gorgeous sunset as we went outside to take some pictures with the balloons.



~ in her birthday tutu :) ~

(I made it for her using this tutorial).


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This is one of my favorites of her from the day. Can't you just see that sweet, sunny personality she has? :)



~ surrounded by the men in her life ~





This was supposed to have LAVENDER ROSEBUDS. Just envision that for me. Please note, also, the rosemary sprigs. Isn't that profound? Not to mention the tights in the background. :)


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Like this, ya know? (Are you impressed by my mad photoshop skillz? :)



She was reaching for the frosting already. . . .



~ one of those moments I want framed and hanging in my heart ~



~ her first authorized ice cream -- a rite of passage in our family ~





She even helped with the dishes afterward! :)


Oh, how grateful we are for this burst of sunlight into our family!

We love you, sweet daughter.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Fiddler's Family

I wish I could send each of you a real one of these! Hope you're having a wonderful holiday!


Christmas Card 2010


We rejoice in the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, the cause for the dearest hopes of our hearts.

How we love Him and praise Him!

Merry Christmas.


And if you really, really love us, you might enjoy reading the following "Dictionary of Bakerish Terms". . . .

ben·ja·min \'bӗn-jə-mĭn\ 1. Fourth son whose 3rd birthday was celebrated this year with Aunt Becky and cousins Jozef and Jenya. 2. Beloved member of the Fiddler family who is daily remembered and missed.

DC \abb. Darling Cutie \ 1. Refers to a professional violinist with a strong preference for ice cream and an ever cheerful disposition, despite an unsuccessful audition with the Utah Symphony in September. 2. One who is grateful for his current position with the Arkansas Symphony and Rockefeller Quartet. 3. Husband and father who displays willingness to camp with scouting sons and to pace a room with infant daughter for hours at a time to the strains of Beethoven violin sonatas. 4. A traveler on occasion, including a trip to his brother Bob’s wedding this year.

exacto \ĭg-zăk'tō\ 1. A very exact, precise member of the Fiddler family, often observed reading, doing homework, or fulfilling his duties as a deacon. 2. The first child of the Fiddler and his wife, has been known to read the dictionary for fun (just kiddon!), and play the French horn at school. 3. A twelve-year-old boy with an everlasting craving for chocolate, ice cream, and Fablehaven. 4. Has been known to express excessive interest in the computer, as well as measurable diligence in Scouting achievement, having nearly attained the rank of Star.

hum·mer \'hŭmər\ 1. a nearly-seven-year-old boy in the Fiddler family with a distinct affinity for applesauce, pineapple, maple syrup, and “Wosebewwie” sic. 2. The third child of the Fiddler and his wife, a devotee of all things 1st grade, especially his teacher. 3. Contender for the title of “Top Reader” of his class, he unfortunately considers the stairs in the Fiddler home his “stomping ground”. 4. Often exhibits a contagious giggle and a knack for some pretty sweet dance moves.

lar·ynx \'lar-iŋks\ n the upper part of the trachea containing the vocal chords.

mi·chelle \mĭ-'shĕl\ 1. Adult female member of the Fiddler family, known to be semi-permanently attached at the hip to the youngest member of the Fiddler family 2. Mother of five, age 30-something, showing an affinity to cooking and blogging, and a desperation to get more organized. 3. One who is known to read too much, and who strives not to covet others’ digital SLR cameras. 4. Exhibiting an inclination to reverse the effects of aging on her children.

rose·ber·ry \'rōz-bā-rē\ 1. The pinnacle of sweetness and adorability, having blond hair, four teeth, three larynxes, two blue eyes, and one tenacious predisposition to awaken multiple times at night. 2. One year old on 12/21/10. 3. Also known as “Brunhilda” (see above regarding number of larynxes). 4. A word describing “the cutest object in the universe” (according to her brothers).

fluf·fy \'flŭf-ē\ 1. The second child of the Fiddler family, being 9 ½ years old, and having nearly achieved the Bear rank in the Cub Scouting organization. 2. Refers to a peaceful boy with a propensity to get straight A’s and devour great literature with a hearty appetite. 3. Having the quality of or pertaining to a young man with a penchant for harmonizing ad lib, as well as playing the violin and piano. 4. Also refers to one who grows out of his clothes faster than his mom can buy them.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dearest blog,

I miss you desperately. It has been too long since we have been together. I think of you every day, think of things I would like to tell you, beautiful thoughts that beg to be expressed. Almost every day this year has been a Day of Gratitude.

How I long to sit and chat with you for hours and catch up on everything. To tell you of Exacto's first band concert and Fluffy's looking so handsome in his new glasses. How Hummer wanted to "lick the kitchen floor" so he would get sick and not have to go to school when there was a substitute.

I wish I could spend an hour every day just conveying to you the winning ways of our beloved baby Rosebud in her last few days of being less than a year old. Or telling you of the kindness of DC and his birthday gift to me of a whole day with free hands, even when he is so busy himself.

Alas, our time is not now. But it is coming soon, I know it. A day will soon come, when Rosebud WILL go to bed in her crib before 11pm, and take at least one regular nap per day. (I am relying on the Australian Baby Whisperer's plan for this!) A day when our tangle with the city over the ditch in our yard will be resolved, and my peace of mind restored. I have high hopes. . . .

Please wait for me, and know that my heart is still with you.

With longing,


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Benjamin's 3rd Birthday: His Place in Our Family

Who can say for certain?
Maybe you're still here.
~ "To Where You Are," Linda Thompson

I wrote Benjamin's story here on the blog in the weeks following his death. Something I wrote at the end has bothered me ever since: "And now it is time to learn to live without this precious son."

A paradox of parental bereavement is that while you are physically separated permanently from your child, you are so consumed by thoughts and feelings about him that it is as if he is always with you in your heart and mind, perhaps even more than if he were physically with you. Yet all that is invisible. For the first few months and even years you walk around with an agonizing hole inside, every heartbeat longing for the child missing from your arms, and the Walmart worker or the new neighbor or the man walking down the street has no idea. There is a sense of almost panic that everyone but you will forget about your child who is so deeply loved and important to you. I struggled with reconciling the lack of physical presence with the intense desire to feel him close, knowing that it was possible.

I am acquainted with two very special people who have dealt with loss in ways that have inspired me. One is Ruth Flake, a sister in the small town in Arizona where my parents live, whose husband was a cattle rancher. They raised a large family, and looked forward to serving a full-time mission when he retired. Not long before they would have been able to go, Bro. Flake contracted serious pneumonia and died. This was of course a crushing blow to his family, and what Sis. Flake did next filled me with awe. She went on a mission. She said that she knew her husband was serving on the other side of the veil, and this way they would be serving together. She included mentions of him in her letters home.

The other inspiration for this post is from Megan. Her two beautiful twin daughters were taken from her even earlier than my son was taken from me. She wrote one time about adjusting to living with her girls "on another sort of plane. They are not gone far. Whenever I go into our backyard, I like to think of them on the other side of the fence." I loved this. It immediately helped me shift my mindset a little bit towards the amazing faith of Ruth Flake. I wanted to learn to live with my son, even though he physically is not here.

The past three years have been spent carving out Benjamin's place in our family and in the world--the place he would naturally have if he were here whenever possible--the place he deserves as our son, brother, nephew, grandson, and cousin. I feel blessed well beyond what I deserve to have family and friends who have supported us so completely and lovingly in this process. The panic I used to feel has dissolved into a peaceful reassurance that no one who loves us will forget our son Benjamin. They love him, too. And that has allowed me amazing peace and healing. It has helped me more than anything to return to enjoying life.

Maybe sometime I will post about specific things family members have done for his birthday and Christmas, or how friends have showed compassion at just the right times. But in many cases it almost feels like that might tarnish a little bit the beauty of what they have done--the quiet privacy of these acts was part of the love shown. So this post will be about our immediate family and the ways we have found to include Benjamin in our family right now, buoyed up by the fact that we are not alone in remembering him.

Some ways we have found to live with Benjamin. . . .

~ We talk about him often, and usually without tears. We always include him in the count when people ask how many children we have. We wonder aloud what he would be doing if he were here.

~ He is on our Family Home Evening chart! This was Hummer's idea. I made the chart back in 2004 with two blank name cards, just in case. :) They stayed blank until a few months ago, when Hummer decided to rectify the situation with a permanent marker. At first it made me sad, but then I realized it was a great way to include Benjamin. If he's on "Prayer", someone gives it for him. If he's on "Share", we look at a page or two in his scrapbook. If he's on any of the others, we just try to think of what he might like to choose if he were here. And I believe he often is here for FHE. :)

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~ We have rituals and traditions that include him. Nearly every Sunday after church, we go to the cemetery. Exacto, Fluffy, and Hummer don't always actually come to his gravesite, but spend the time down at the lake, chasing the Canadian geese or inspecting the fish and turtles. Rosebud and I walk to his grave and just stand and think for a while, and I usually take a picture. We plant live flowers there in almost every season. We decorate with things that we think are beautiful or that remind us of him.


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~ We try to find ways to include him in our family portraits. Some ideas we've used are: photoshopping an actual photo of him into the picture, holding a white rose to symbolize him, and this summer at our family reunion, a cute little snail stood in for him. I thought this was appropriate, since Benjamin would have been 2 1/2 in this picture and probably quite enamored with snails. :)

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~ His birthday includes special meals just like all our other birthdays, and a particular cake. His birthday cake is the most delicious carrot cake you'll ever have, made with whole wheat. Here's the recipe I use:

Benjamin’s Birthday Cake


2 cups whole wheat flour

2 cups sugar

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

4 cups shredded carrots (I buy matchstick carrots, then chop a little more)

1 cup chopped walnuts (DC leaves these out)

2 tsp. vanilla


3 oz. cream cheese

¼ cup (½ stick) butter

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

Butter & flour two 8” round cake pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together dry ingredients. Beat together eggs and oil. Beat in dry ingredients. Add carrots, walnuts and vanilla.

Pour batter evenly into two cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes until done. Do NOT overcook. Cool in pans for 20 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely. Frost and refrigerate for 12 hours or more.

Frosting: Soften cream cheese and butter. Beat together until fluffy. Stir in powdered sugar gradually. Stir in vanilla. Frost cake lightly. Keep refrigerated.


~ We have written a special FHE lesson that we give on the Monday night near his birthday. It is always a beautiful spiritual experience to talk together as a family about Benjamin and the hope we have through Jesus Christ of really being with him again. We each take a turn saying what we look forward to doing with him.

Please, No Empty Chairs - FHE Lesson


There are many others. I always love discovering new ways to include him in our everyday life. Someday I will know how close he really is right now, and how often he was actually with us when we couldn't see him.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A beautiful day

What an amazingly wonderful day this has been. Thank you all who called or emailed or thought kindly towards us today!
I had a fancy post almost all ready to publish, and then Windows Live Writer started having fits, and I couldn't get it figured out. But hopefully tomorrow, I will share with you my thoughts about Benjamin's place in our family! Oh, how I love him.
My heart is filled with peace and gratitude tonight.

Monday, November 1, 2010

How we do it - { scouting }

Here's a little post to prove that I am okay, and it is November 1st! Yay for me!

For all the moms of boys out there. . .


With so many boys in our family, you know it'll be either sink-or-swim for us when it comes to Scouting and Faith in God. For a while we really struggled with a routine for it. Poor Exacto barely finished by the skin of his teeth (ON his birthday for his Wolf!) for several of the early ranks. With them gone all day to school, and then homework and sports and music when they got home, it really was tricky. Then Fluffy became a Cub Scout, and Exacto entered Boy Scouts, and we were really floundering.

Luckily, I have a brilliant mom, who raised 5 Eagle Scouts and was a den mother herself for years and years. She suggested the following, and it has worked like a charm for us ever since.

1. Get yourself some Little Debbies, or a charming, inexpensive substitute. :)

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2. Put them into the birdhouse that your Wolf scout made for one of his requirements with a diligent den leader (no way could WE have pulled off this good of a job!)



3. Require your sweet son to spend 15 minutes a day (time it!) working on either Scouts or Faith in God. Be available to help, but try to have the burden of looking in the book for what to do, etc. on HIS shoulders whenever possible.

4. When he signs off a requirement, let him choose a treat from the birdhouse!

This is working so well for us, because it has become part of the daily routine. We include it with the practicing they do. (They only have to practice on the days that they eat--ha :). Fluffy is more than halfway done with his Bear and it's only been a few months since he started it. Exacto just finished his 1st class (he turned 12 in June). And I have finally caught the vision--guess what? Scouting is FUN! Who'd have thought?

(caveat: I should mention that we have stopped all sports for now. Music is so important to us, and there really isn't time to do both that and sports AND Scouting. Scouting is the Church's program for the boys in that age group, and so we consider it necessary. But you could totally make this work with sports and Scouting, of course. :)

I'm so grateful for this idea from my mom! Just had to share for anyone out there overwhelmed with helping their boys get this done.

What can I say? In this family, SUGAR TALKS. :) It's all about routine and sugar, mmhmm.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day 49 - { time }

Look back on time with kindly eyes,   
He doubtless did his best;   
How softly sinks his trembling sun   
In human nature’s west!

~Emily Dickinson

This past Sunday was our 3rd opportunity to attend the annual SHARE memorial service and balloon release, held at the hospital where Benjamin and Rosebud were born. I groaned and started praying when I saw the forecast -- heavy chance of rain and possibility of tornadic activity.

The highlight of the event is writing notes to our babies, attaching them to the balloons, then riding the elevator to the top of the parking deck, where a song is sung, and the balloons are released. To have an Arkansas-style storm, complete with tornado sirens going off, would put a decided damper on things. I know I wasn't the only one praying for the skies to be clear at least during the balloon release!

When we arrived, it was threatening but not actually raining. It had already poured buckets that morning, but seemed to be holding off for a while. The service was beautiful, and we proceeded with faith to fill out the notes for the balloons.



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Our family's balloons got tangled together as we went through doorways and rode the elevator, but we decided that was nice and symbolic. :) Some of us still held on to our own string so we could feel the pull skyward. Still no rain.






It was pretty windy, and when we let go, the balloons quickly drifted behind us, passing right over the hospital.




Rosebud's balloon got stuck in one of those lower trees (you can barely see it in the picture above), but soon the wind pushed it out and it wended its way up alone.




Such a feeling of peaceful contentment comes when I am with my husband and my living children and we are remembering together our Benjamin, who is so present in our hearts, but invisible to all who see us. Something about being with people who recognize that there is one more person in our family--who look at the 6 of us together and visualize 7--always makes me happy.




We came in and gorged ourselves on sugar (especially those younger male members of our family :) and as we headed back out to our car to go home, the rain started to fall with a vengeance. The tornado sirens went off, and suddenly there was lightning and thunder and all heck broke loose. We ended up having to wait in the parking garage for a while, listening to the radio to know when it would be safe to get on the road.

What a miracle! We thanked Heavenly Father for holding back the rain until after that special event.

But the really amazing thing was this:

I realized that earlier I had been praying for the sake of the new babylost parents, and not so much for me! I couldn't stand the thought of those recently bereaved moms and dads, with that awful rawness of grief that I remember all too well, missing out on this special chance to have their children recognized and remembered. I would have been disappointed, but okay if this time we couldn't release the balloons!

Now that is a miracle!


100 days of gratitude tagThinking back on the past two October 31st's and November 1st's. . . . there was a sort of panicky desperation to those days. . . .I wanted to avoid any reminders of what had happened on those days in 2007.

This year it is different. I still have no intention of celebrating Halloween. I think that will always be too painful (which is too bad, because Rosebud would be awfully cute in a little costume. :) As we approach those days of significance again, I am amazed and grateful at what I feel now, three years later. It is more of a peaceful longing sort of feeling, rather than fear or depression.

How grateful I am that the grief has indeed lost its sharpness. It is not unbearably heavy anymore, although its bittersweet pang still comes daily.

It will be okay.

Thank You, dear Heavenly Father, for bringing me through three years' Time .

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hummer loves being in our family. . . I think.

As we pulled away from the house the other day in our swagger wagon, Hummer commented from the back:

"I need my family to survive."

< pause >

"That's why I don't run away."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

new beginnings for the ASO


DC is gone for the first rehearsal of the symphony season. This year is exciting because of a new music director for the ASO, Philip Mann. I can't wait to hear how things went tonight!


And here is Rosebud sporting her Maestro Mann hairdo in honor of the occasion.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thilent Thurthday: rosebud attack










all S.O.O.C. ~ taken 9/6/10 by exacto :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Day 48 - { the north wind }


“From the Gate of Kings the North Wind rides, and past the roaring falls;
And clear and cold about the tower its loud horn calls.
'What news from the North, O mighty wind, do you bring to me today?
What news of Boromir the Bold? For he is long away."


Growing up as a desert rat, I remember hearing people groaning about the high temperatures in Tucson, and then inevitably someone would always say, "Well, at least it's a dry heat." I always wondered why on earth that made a difference. Then the DC Fiddler moved us to the South and, honey, I learned why that makes a difference. Poor Arkansas gets most of its weather from the gulf, I think. And that means wet heat.

This past Friday brought the north wind, and with it a blessed aridity that helps this Arizona girl feel like life in Arkansas is again well worth living. Rosebud and I headed out to meet the boys walking home from school. Doesn't she look quite the intrepid stroller adventurer in this shot? :)

Nothing like a blue sky and streaky clouds and a drop in temperature and humidity to make me very, very happy. Something about the fresh clarity of the air makes me feel like exercising and cleaning (gasp!) and doing all sorts of healthy, productive things that make me whiny when it's humid. It's like spring fever, except it hits me in the fall here.

100 days of gratitude tag. . . . .now it's five days later, and back to the soggy warmth from the gulf. It's okay, though. That delicious foretaste of autumn lingers with me and I know it will be here to stay before too much longer.

Isn't it amazing, this dynamic, beautiful world Heavenly Father created for us? I hope there are still seasons in heaven. As long as I live in the South, though, the north wind will still be my favorite.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A catch-up and a keep-up

For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn? 
    -- Jane Austen, P&P

What happens when a professional musician comes home, takes off his tux, and gets on the floor with a cheesy 1/8 size violin and 3 silly little boys? (This video was taken almost a year ago, but I just can't resist. It's too perfect for the new blog. :)

(Fluffy and the fiddle are reading from Kevin Henkes' Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse.)


And Project 365 Rosebud continues! These pictures are from last week, and she is now 8 months old.

(tragedy! I need to put some weights on her head to stop her from growing so fast!)

Day 245


She is now officially uninterested in my camera.

Day 247


No crawling yet.

Day 248


No teeth yet.

Day 249


And no sleeping through the night.

Day 250

(Exacto formed a stuffed-animal barrier here to keep her from falling off the bed.)


Just sheer cuteness.

Day 251

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

{ ta-dah! } two letters pertaining to this here blog

Dear "Mama's Boys",

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You have been a good blog, and I will miss you.

I will even keep your URL (although to be strictly honest, that is less out of sentimentality and more out of sheer terror that I will lose the posts if I try to mess with it :).

Farewell, sweet blog! Perhaps we will meet again, in the strange cached copy world of Google.

Until then I am yours truly,



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Dear DC,

Today is your birthday again! I won't embarrass you by publicly announcing your age (cough cough), but I want you to know--as sort of a funny birthday gift--that this new blog is dedicated to you. I thought for a long time about what it should be called. I came up with all kinds of fun ideas revolving around the theme of 4 boys and 1 girl. And those 4 boys and 1 girl are very, very important to me. But I realized that one day, they will be grown up and gone, and I will look across the table and see only you. Along with that I remembered that it was because of you that all of this wonderful, crazy life had begun.


You are the quiet backbone of our family. You have been the constant strength through the years. Some who know you have said you are one of the most Christ-like people they know, and I agree whole-heartedly. (Take this as a huge compliment that you deserve, because I think I know you better than anyone else in the world!) Yet, you often seem to be in the background. You are always providing and helping and sustaining during this time of heavy needs. By necessity my arms are busy and full with our young children, but I want to remember that sometimes those arms need to be around you, too, even now. :)

Thank you for being the most amazingly selfless person I know. You continually put my comfort and needs first. I'm pretty sure I don't deserve you, but I will spend the rest of my life trying to. Happy Birthday, Cute One!

Love, M


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Okay, everyone! Put your hands together and give "The Fiddler's Wife" a warm bloggy welcome! Yay!

New Blog Header 20100831

It's not much to look at yet! I'll be tweaking it for awhile. But look for some catch-up posts and some keep-up posts, coming very soon.