Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Unexpected Smile

I love that moment when you’re walking along and smile at some unsuspecting person.

You don’t know them.

You just smile because it’s nice.

You try to be happy and hope to make others happy.

And then that surprised smile of being smiled at springs onto their faces.

If it were a cartoon it would


at the edges.

And your innerds grow warm and you know that if Superman were around he’d be able to see them glowing inside.

There’s just something special about a smile. 

My husband promised to always make me laugh – and smile – he promised that too.

And he does – everyday.

The amazing thing about my husband is that he doesn’t just make me laugh

he strives to make everybody laugh

or at the very least


There is nothing like watching that expected smile BOING onto someone’s face.

Wherever we are he’ll manage to meet the gaze of someone who looks a bit down and his face will explode into an amazing smile and he’ll say, “Hi!” or “Hello!” And they look somewhat startled at the sound of his cheery voice but there is nothing as contagious as a smile and before long they are grinning and saying, “Why, hell0!” or “Oh! Hi!”

He calls every person we meet with a name tag by name – the gal ringing up the grocers, the guy waiting tables.

It’s amazing, the smile that springs on their faces when he calls them by name and grins at them.

He teases – hands them the debit card and then flicks it away a few times before surrendering it and they laugh or smile and he says,

“Made ya laugh” or “made ya smile”.

I laugh and shake my head and love him even more. I think about how long of a day some of those workers have had and some of the rude people they have had to put up with and I love that my husby goes out of his way to put a smile on their faces and give them a bright (and usually silly) spot in the day.

Old, young, adult, child, or teen – Paul can manage to coax a smile out of anybody.

In fact, I overheard someone once say about my husby, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him NOT smiling” which really made me SMILE!

And I thought of one of my favorite quotes:

“Happiness is like jam. You can’t spread even a little without getting some one yourself.” 

And since I ALWAYS get sticky fingers when it comes to jam, I can relate really well to this (of course it usually because one of my charming children used it and got jam all over the OUTSIDE of the jar – ha ha).

So, the next time it’s been a long wait in the grocery store line,

the person ahead of you had coupon after coupon, half of them didn’t work right, and they had to argue with the person working the register over every single one.

Okay, I’m exagerating, but you’ve all been there – or someplace similar –

and you finally get there and the clerk gives a tightlip smile as they apologize, waiting for you to lash out on incompetance and how long the line was.

Give a smile a try.

You can see them cringing inside (after all, they saw you rolling your eyes at how LONG everything was taking), waiting for the final straw to make today their worst day EVER

and then you




and say,

“Hey, no problem, my mom taught me patience.”


“My special super hero power is patience in long lines.”

And the tight-lipped panicked smile relaxes into a full fledged smile that BOINGS on the edges and there go your innerds again, glowing  and blinding superman.

In fact, you feel a little like Superman’s side kick.

Making the world better.

One Smile at a Time!


Filed under Every Day Life, Humor

At the Park after Dark….

Last night with the onset of evening came an increasing need to get out for a while.

I decided to go writing. 

Once I finally made it out to the car with my computer bag in tow, I realized I had no desire to go to my usual haunt – Paneras. In fact, all I wanted was

to be alone.

No people, just me and quiet – or me, my music, and quiet.

I grabbed some almond M&Ms and headed to a nearby park.

It was wonderful, spending time alone with my thoughts. I didn’t work on my book like I had anticipated, but on yesterday’s blog post – the 100 word challenge.  I was so wrapped up in the my solitude that I didn’t realize it was well past dark. (yes, I had the car locked)

Just as I went to shut my laptop a bright beam of light slowly came down the park entrance and toward the van.

I knew what it was.

I didn’t realize that cops really patroled parks after dark, but apparantly they do.

Because, there sitting in front of me was a police car, with a


bright light hitting me square in the face.

I wondered briefly if being in a park after hours was a ticket offense.

I was sitting in the passenger seat of the van with my windows up. Puzzling what to do, I unlocked the door and attempted to poke my head out –

which isn’t a good idea

with a cop car sitting in front of you, but my brain hadn’t kicked in yet.

The cop very nicely told me to stay in the vehicle, so I apologized and popped my head back in.

Finally, my brain kicked in and I sretched across the van and turned the key so I could roll down my window.

Then I waited.

Once thing I have noticed in the few times I’ve been pulled over is that police officers like to make you wait.

Usually I get nervous,

but I wasn’t. I was rather intrigued as to what would happen next.

Finally the cop approached. “So, what are you doing in the park after dark?”

“Oh, I was just working on my computer, writing, taking a break from home and the kids for a bit. I didn’t realize how late it was, I had just put my computer away when you pulled up.”

He talked to me about the danger of being in parks after dark, espcially being a woman. He was very polite. He verified that I was alone and asked my name and where I lived. I motioned the direction (it’s not very far away).

“Well you’re free to go,” he said and turned away.

“Thanks,” I replied, “I’ll be sure not to loose track of the time again.”

He chuckled.

“Well, at least you weren’t a pot smoking wacko.”

I laughed. “Well, ya know….” I said sarcastically, with another laugh.

Which probably ISN’T the best thing to say to a cop.

Luckily he laughed, and I went home. 😀



Filed under Miscellaneous

Dad 100 WCGU #59

This week we received a picture prompt. It reminded me immediately of my Dad (though he would never sit at the edge of a precipice like that). He loved the mountains and spent numerous summers living in lookout towers. He love to hike and instilled that love in his family. This post is dedicated to him.

To read other pieces or to participate, click on the logo. 🙂


The wind runs it’s tendril fingers through my hair

and presses it’s chilled lips upon my cheeks.

I close my eyes and pretend it’s him,

squeezing me tight and whispering

it’s going to be all right,

that I can make it through another day.

A single tear traces a

cool track down my face

and lands with a soft splotch.

The mountains are synonymous with him.

There was never one without the other.

I stand, dusting grainy dirt from

my jeans.

“Give her a hug for me,” I whisper

and know the words are carried to heaven

on the breeze.


Filed under Child loss, Memory, Miscellaneous, Nature, Poetry, Writing


I dimly recall, either shortly before or after Lizy passed away, one of the doctors or nurses or maybe both, talking with us about Fernside and how it could be benneficial to our children. I didn’t pay much attention. Actually, I’m sure I paid attention, I just wasn’t capable of absorbing any more information.

When we met with the funeral director, he mentioned Fernside. A little more information soaked in that time.

A day or two after that, a friend asked if we had heard about Fernside. I told her that I dimly recalled hearing something about it and she told us more – actually, it was probably all the same information we had heard before.

After the funeral was over and family was gone and things were quiet and the numbness of the last two weeks began to ebb, I received a call from a stranger. She’s not a stranger any more though. The funeral home we chose provides follow up care. This lovely woman asked to meet with me to provide some information concerning, not only how adults grieve, but how children grieve and how to help them. Again, Fernside was mentioned.

Information came from the hospital, including a large packet about Fernside.

Finally, I wrapped my brain around the fact that Heavenly Father was sending us a message that this was something we needed to do.

“So, what’s Fernside?” You’re probably asking.

Fernside is the nation’s second oldest children’s grief center.

That’s right it’s for children! Ages 3-18.

They are a non-profit organization that offers peer support groups for children and their parents. They divide the ages into separate groups, and the parents attend their own group. They work with the children on expressing their feelings & emotions. They help the children express and share memories. They do art, games, talk.

It’s a wonderful group.

We sent Jacob, Em, and Dot to their one time summer camp this summer and it was wonderful. Because of it we found out that Em was carrying a huge burden and we could help her and resolve parts of it. Because of what they do, projects they create, it opens up conversation and things come to light that kids may not talk about otherwise.

They take a break for summer, so we didn’t start attending their regular meetings until things started up at the beginning of the month.  We attend sibling loss night – which meets twice a month. It’s been wonderful. We have wonderful conversations as we drive home with the kids as they share what they did and what it means and how they feel.

While the kids meet with their groups, Paul and I meet with some of the other parents. I was unsure at first, but I think it’s good. I think maybe I can help some of them some way, and they can help me. It’s nice having others who understand a part of the struggles and pain you face. The facilitators are great and encourage those attending the groups to find positivity, overcome guilt,etc.  and help provide tools to those who need it.

We’ve only attended two meetings, but already we can feel how much our entire family will benefit from this.  I never knew such places existed. I never needed to know. But I am so grateful that we were steered many times to it.

Out of curiosity I searched for Child Grief Centers on the web and there are lots all over the country. Fernside doesn’t just deal with sibling loss, in fact, that’s their smallest group, they deal with significant adult loss ( a parent or very close grandparent) too and other situations as well.

I think it’s a wonderful tool.

It’s so hard to know what is going on in those lovely kids’ heads.

It’s so hard to know how to help them.

And I am so grateful to have extra help, being sure we make it through this the best way possible.



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Filed under Child loss, Parenting

Em’s Guardian Angel

Two weeks ago, on the 7th of September, we had some friends over to roast hotdogs and marshmallows.

I was at the top of the hill near the fire, visiting with the parents while the kids ran about.

Some were clustered, as is the usual habit, around the tire swing. It’s a main attraction at our house.

Paul and I even joke about how we bought the house just for the tire swing.

Last spring the girls figured out how to climb the rope – all the way to the branch above.

Em was the first – cute little monkey.

Em Rope Climb

Dot, never to be outdone by a younger sister, was close behind.

Dot Rope Climb

Lizy never quite figured it out.

So, this evening, Emily wanted to demonstrate her rope climbing prowess to her friends.

She hopped on the tire and started to shimmy up the rope.

She didn’t get to far when a resounding


echoed across the lawn and neighborhood.

I looked down the hill and saw Em slumped on the ground.



I raced to her.

She couldn’t breathe and she looked terrified.

I was terrified.

Terrified it was all happening again.

But, then, Paul showed up,

“It takes a minute to get your breathe back when the wind’s been knocked out of you.”

Oh yeah. I knew that. I relaxed and focussed on helping Em take long deep breathes.

Once she got her breath back we had her slowly move all her limbs.

She was fine.

(Even played in her soccer game the next day)

It suddenly dawned on me that the branch had broken and should really be on top of her (it was a hefty branch too).

I saw it laying at least a foot to the right.

I looked at Emily.


Grateful that the branch broke before Emily had gotten too high. Grateful the branch didn’t land on her or anyone else. Grateful that she was unhurt – a little shocked and scared maybe – but unhurt.

“I think your big sister is watching out for you,” I whispered.

“I know she is,” Emily whispered back.


Filed under Em, Lizy, Miracles

A Bushel of Trouble – 100WCGU #58

This week’s prompt is “…as the apple fell…”

Feel free to click the 100WC icon to read other stories or participate.


Alice leaned against the side of the weathered stone bridge and peered into the creek. John loved to goad her into a temper. With a sigh, she turned, pulled an apple from her pocket and polished it on her sleeve. Gentle voices from the base of the bridge caught her attention. She looked over the side and spied John and Felicia, their fingers entwined.  Her hands slackened in shock. Time slowed as the apple fell and knocked  John on the head. Alice gasped, and dropped to the ground, pressing her back against the rough stones, but not before she met John’s startled, impish eyes.


Filed under 100 Word Challenge, Humor, Writing

Our Miracle Van (the Ark) at Work

Early Saturday afternoon I was driving home from the temple with 5 young women in the Ark. We had had an amazing experience combined with a gorgeous (and very pink) sunrise.

The drive home from the temple is 2 hours and we were nearing the end, just starting to get into metro Cincinnati.

I, following the speed of traffic, was going close to 80 miles an hour and in the far left lanes, getting ready for the freeway to divide.

Even though I was going fast there were still cars whizzing by.

All of a sudden I heard this awful grating noise that sounded like metal running or dragging on pavement.

I glanced around and realized it was me and  it was coming from the back right area of my van.

Confused and worried about what was going on, I signaled and managed to weave through four lanes of traffic until I could pull off on the shoulder.

I thought maybe I had a flat because the van didn’t feel right, but it didn’t sound like a flat.

I got out of the van and walked around to where I heard the noise and my jaw dropped.


Luckily, the bishop was a little ways behind us and managed to get over and pull off barely in front of us. He came back, looked at my tire, and told me what he saw.

From a little ways behind us he saw and impressive explosion of black debris fly at least fifty feet in the air. Pieces of tire flew everywhere. Cars were weaving trying to dodge the stuff, and some of it hit his car. He has a motorcycle, and said that if he had been on it, the flying debris would have taken him out. At first he thought it was a truck and trailer, but his son said he thought it was us. He knew as soon as we started slowing down and changing lanes.

He commended me on my superb control of the van saying he couldn’t believe how steady I kept it and didn’t swerve or anything.

“Bishop,” I said, “I didn’t feel a thing. The van didn’t jerk, or swerve, nothing. All that happened is I suddenly heard an awful sound and I knew something was wrong, so I started changing lanes to pull over.”

It wasn’t me keeping control of that van. Having a tire blow like that, at that speed, on a crowded MAJOR freeway… we’re lucky to be alive, let alone healthy, happy, completely unhurt, and our van untouched and needing nothing other than new tires. I know we had hosts of angels around us keeping us safe.

We dug around trying to locate the jack (we had to move a giant bag of clothes someone had given me, a camp chair, two strollers, and two car seats) and things we’d need to drop the spare tire stored under the van. We were all nervous standing on the side of the freeway with cars speeding past us. Thankfully, after a bit, I remembered I had a AAA membership. I used one of the girls’s phone to call. Because of our location – on the side of a major and very busy freeway, about a mile away from the closest exit – we were bumped to top priority.

We stayed in the van with our seat belts on. The girls were wonderful – a little worried, but not freaking out or anything and one suggested a prayer. We did so and spent our time waiting by chatting with each other.

The other van that had gone up to the temple was a ways behind us and as they got closer they saw tire debris scattered across the freeway. “That was some tire blow out,” one of them mentioned. A short while later they saw the Ark and the Bishop’s car stopped on the shoulder with our hazards flashing. After calling to be sure everything was fine, they decided to drop leaders and young men off at the church and come back for the young women to get them safely home.

About ten or fifteen minutes after we had been rummaging around the back end for the jack and such, a car pulled up behind us. I could see a man and his wife in the car. Feeling like it was safe, I hopped out of the van as he approached.

“We saw the tire blow and you guys digging for a jack, we wanted to make sure everything was ok and that you didn’t need assistance.”

I was awed and impressed by the man’s caring and kindness. He had passed us, gotten off the freeway and doubled all the way back to come seek out if we needed help. I assured him that we were fine and had called AAA. I thanked him for his kindness.

“I’m just doing my biblical duty,” he said with a smile.

I am grateful that there are such good people in the world.

We only had to wait less than 30 minutes for the AAA guy to show up, and the van for the young women showed up just few minutes later. We got them in and off to their homes in their safety.

It took a while to get our tire changed. Apparantly it’s pretty challenging with our kind of van (it was the AAA guy’s least favorite to work with). Once again, I was grateful I remembered I had a AAA membership and that he took his time to do everything right to keep us safe. If he was having a hard time with it, it would have been a nightmare for the rest of us. During the process, the Bishop asked him to take a look at our front tire because he thought the tires had dry rot, and the AAA guy confirmed it. So, I was told not to drive too fast home and that the tires on the van needed changing yesterday. 🙂

For now, we’re back to driving the Purple People Eater for a couple days while we price out new tires.

The bishop followed me home to be sure I arrived safely. A couple of the girls were hanging out at our house for a while, so we took the opportunity to snap a couple pictures.




I am SO grateful for the Lord’s protection and the blessings of attending the temple. What could have resulted in a deadly accident resulted in nothing more than a minor inconvenience and some new tires.

It was a miracle.

I know hosts of angels were keeping us safe and I’m sure Lizy and my Dad were among them.


Filed under Miracles

Picking up the Pieces 100WCGU #57

The 100 word challenge is back!

Ok, well, it’s always been there, but I haven’t participated for quite a long time.

The prompt

“returning to the routine” – I did change it to “return” so it would fit better.

seems especially fitting for a multitude of reasons…




My heart lies shattered.  I feel like an eggshell full of tiny spider web cracks. The slightest disturbance could send me cascading to the floor in a myriad of pieces, too tiny to reassemble. I close my eyes against the pain and wish myself into an unfeeling blackness. A tiny hand pats my knee, young arms wrap about my neck, and tears soak into my shoulder. I kiss their soft cheeks and bury my face in their hair.  Responsibility nudges me – chores need doing and dinner needs making. The tears subside and the pain ebbs as I return to the routine of life.




Feel free to click on 100WC picture above to learn more, participate, and read other entries.

My daughters participate in the original 100WC (created for kids) – you can read their entries here: Three Bugs in a Rug


Filed under 100 Word Challenge, Child loss, Every Day Life, Writing

A Bit about James

Each of our children has had a very distinct personality:

Lizy was the quiet one who had a goofy streak and a temper.

Dot is the social, strong willed, nutty one.

Emily is the sweet bubbly, always smiling one.

Jacob is the class clown goofball type.

Robert is still a little young to know for sure, but he tends to be a little more on the serious side  – though he can giggle with the best of them.

But, James is the ultimate


Throw him on a slice of bread with swiss cheese and you could just gobble him up.

He loves making you laugh, and he knows just how to do it.

He was the one who started the underwear ninjas at our house among the boys – he came bounding out of his room with his underwear on his head pearing out one hole. He struck his most serious ninja pose and said:

“I am a ninja.”

And I dissolved into laughter

(at least the underwear was clean).

Jacob soon followed suit and soon both boys were running around as underwear ninjas.

Last spring just before he [finally] potty trained, I changed his pull-up one morning and sent him off to the bathroom before putting a clean one on. As he went, he wiggled his wee little naked bum all the way to the bathroom, singing:

“Shake your booty.”

“Shake your booty.”

I giggled.

A lot!

He has this funny thing with clothes. (though he’s finally starting grow out of it now that he’s in underwear). He will wear all the shirts in his drawer – at once – and


One morning I was talking with a neighbor in the driveway and he came running out with nothing on but a cape and his diaper – oh, and socks on his hand. He zoomed around us a few times as I tried not to be mortified before dissapearing inside the house. My neighbor patted me on the shoulder, laughing, and said,

“It’s ok. He’s a boy.”

He rolls, tumbles, dives, climbs and has the goofiest, cheesiest grin and faces. His please face would put all puppy dogs to shame. And his pirate roar would make everyone tremble.

And he’s my Glue.

I nicknamed him that because he just sticks to me – the ultimate snuggler and in these months since Lizy, I am even more grateful for those snuggles. He’ll scootch right up to me and say

“I am your glue.” 

So, that is James in a nutshell:

my Ham & Cheese sandwich.

All of my kids are amazing and I am so blessed to be their mom. 😀

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Filed under Bobert, Children, Em, Humor, Jacob, James, Lizy

The Miracle of our Ark

We’ve had a number of amazing experiences since Lizy passed away, each one letting us know how very much our Heavenly Father loves us and is aware of all we go through.

Most recently is the miraculous story of our new van.

Our old van was purple –

Barney Purple

(I’ve never been a fan of Barney)

The poor thing was rather dilapitated.

You had to pound on the dashboard to get it to work – all the gauges would frequently go out.

sometimes you had to pound numerous times!

And it was getting worse.

The AC had been broken for 3-4 years

sometimes the fans would work

and sometimes they wouldn’t

You just prayed they decide to work in the winter…

and it leaked oil.

And we hadn’t had the money to fix it.

It just was not a happy van.

Every time I got in, I prayed that we would get to where we’re going, and we did. There’s proof right there that God answers prayers. 🙂 Anyway, we’d known for quite some time that we desperately needed a new vehicle and we worried and fretted about how we would manage it without going into more debt.

One day, one his way home from work, Paul saw a van for sale by the owner. A nice, full-size conversion van for 7K. He wrote down the info and forgot about it. He didn’t see the van outside again and assumed it had sold.

A few weeks later, as we were sitting down for a family movie, he felt prompted to call about the van. He did and it was still available so we set up an appointment to see it the next day for our date.

We pulled up to the house and an older gentleman came out to greet us. We talked about numerous things including the van and our family – but we didn’t bring up Lizy. Finally we took it for a test drive. It drove so smooth. It really was a beautiful van.

The only problem was, we couldn’t afford it.

We needed something like it, but unless the owner would take payments, we wouldn’t be able to manage.

The owner and his wife came out to speak with us upon our return from the test drive. We talked a bit about how nice the van was and then, before we could ask about payments or anything, he became a little emotional and said,

“I was sitting inside with my wife while you were gone, talking about your family, and I just kept feeling that your family needs the van. I don’t want you to feel any pressure or anything and I don’t know what you can afford. If you can send $100 here and $100 there, that’s fine. All we really need is $1000. I just feel like God is telling me you folks need this van.”

I think our jaws almost fell off.

I was in shock at the generosity of this stranger.

I felt prompted to tell him about Lizy. He and his wife cried as I did so. He told us to take some time, and pray, but that the van was ours if we wanted it, and if we couldn’t swing the $1000 then they would take what we could pay.

We left feeling blessed and loved.

That night Paul and I knelt together and prayed about the van, asking our Heavenly Father if it was the right thing for us to do. We felt impressed that it was a gift for us. Usually we have a mechanic look at vehicles we’re interested in purchasing, but I got the distinct feeling that the van was fine and no mechanic was needed.

A few days later we purchased the van for $1000 after verifying that the owner truly didn’t need more.

It was a miracle.

We avoided more debt.

And I feel we both our families were touched by the experience.

We took our family to meet them, and gave them one of Lizy’s remembrance cards.

I don’t think I could ever express my gratitude completely to them or to my Heavenly Father.

The van is big and tan and promptly dubbed

The Ark.

We decided it fit especially since Paul’s white car was named Moby Dick.

There are miracles all around us.

Some are big, like that of us finding our Ark.

Some are little, like the blossoming of a lily.

I am grateful for them all and our Heavenly Father’s


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Filed under Miracles, Religion