Category Archives: Family

Family Chore/Job Center & Chalkboard Door

Some time ago I decided I needed to do something different for our chore charts. I wanted a job for hire board. I thought about checklists to help the kids remember the daily things they needed to do. I thought about regular rotating chore charts. It seemed like a lot of different charts to have to make. I looked all over pinterest and nothing stood out to me until I found this amazing idea. It seemed pretty involved as far as making it, but I loved the look and a lot of the ideas behind it – especially because it had all the charts I wanted in one place. I decided to see what Paul thought, since I would enlist him in building it, and he agreed. After a few months (mainly because we had so many other things demanding out attention that we kept shoving it aside) we finally got it completed today. I had a number of requests on Facebook for more details and some close-ups, so I obliged.

First off, here is what the whole thing looks like:

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The ladder was not hard to build and Paul has a saw and  such, so I put him to work. He cut and sanded and painted. We have two pieces running along the back that we fixed the head board and all the smaller ladder boards on. I don’t really know dimensions – we just looked at the picture I found on pinterest and then we figured how big we wanted to make ours for the space where we wanted to put it.  I could have done it myself probably, but power saws and such make me nervous (I mean, good grief, look at what I did with a lawn mower and my toe in high school, lol).

Then I got to do the fun part.  I’ll start from the bottom up.

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We talked about a bunch of ways we wanted to do the kids chore chart & checklists, and finally I decided I liked the clipboards the best for a number of reasons – namely they required the least amount of extra work.  These were plain brown boring ones I got at Staples for $2 a piece. I painted them to make them more interesting.  On the bottom is their daily checklist – it’s fixed permanently onto the clipboard. These are the things we expect of them daily simply because they are alive.  They are all pretty self explanatory except possibly “Your Stuff” which means to make sure your stuff is gathered and put away from around the house & “Observe” where we want them to observe 1 thing in the house that needs to be done and then do it without being asked. I laminated the cards so they can mark them off each day with a dry erase marker. If they complete their checklist for the day, they get to check the day off up above. Once a week I will give them a ticket for each day they completed their checklist.

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The top card on the clipboard is the rotating chore job. They have 2 chores each week: a kitchen chore and a household chore. Those are laminated for durability and get moved each Sunday. On them I listed what I expected to be done daily & weekly in each chore area.

The next section of my board consists of a row of buckets. Target has adorable buckets for $1 I love color so I got colorful ones (and I might trade them out if other more colorful ones appear). You will find them in the $ section close to where you walk in. The buckets are utilitarian in purpose – that’s where we put the tickets they earn and store the dry erase markers for the kids to mark their checklists with.

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Finally comes the upper section:

Just above the buckets is a little picture frame where I can write (in dry erase) the date of the next reward day (we will probably have one about once a month or so) and a list of what they can order with their tickets. We will probably change this up from time to time, but it’s a way to use incentives to motivate them. Then we have the Service bucket. Paul and I decided we wanted to have a spot where anyone could put in service they see needs to be done or would like to have done. The kids can pull out an act of service and complete it. Also in the service bucket is a dry erase marker & a regular pen (we though we might have an issue with ticket transference from one kid’s bucket to another, so the idea was proposed by our oldest to write names on the tickets so there can be no confusion). Finally is a little box where we keep help wanted chore cards and we might poke an eraser in there for chart cleaning, etc.

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Across the top and above the little black box are our chore for hire cards. These are chores above and beyond what we would typically ask and are willing to pay for. We are pretty cheap parents and don’t pay much (mostly because we can’t afford to shell $10 out a kid each week, heh), but it gives them an opportunity to learn to work for a wage. We sat down and made a list of what chores we felt were above and beyond and the amount we were willing to pay and I made a set of cards. I’m sure I will add on to them as time goes and we think of more things. As we see or feel the need for certain jobs to be done we will clip them up – they are first come first serve and the child will bring us the card when they are finished. We will inspect and then pay them. Some people keep the money with the card – we don’t because #1 it can be a temptation to wander away with sticky fingers & #2 many jobs are under $1 or depend on how much is done (such as cupboard washing – we pay 10 cents a cupboard so it all depends on how many cupboards they wash). Finally, on the end is the roll of tickets. I think I mentioned earlier that these can be earned (1 each day) by completing the entire check list on the the clipboard.

At some point we will put some cute saying, quote or maybe just Chore Center in the black above the work for hire section, but I haven’t decided what I want there yet.

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SO there you have it – our chore center largely copied from the one I found on Pinterest with a few things changed to fit our family personally. We screwed eye screws into the back and strung picture wire between them for hanging. When we put it up, we rearranged things to have our FHE chart, family clock, and blessings board (a really cute present from an awesome friend) all nearby.  It’s beside our front door and takes center stage in our living area to help us all remember to actively do our part in helping the home run smoothly.

Do you have a chore chart you love? How do you involve your kids in daily household doings? Share your success/fail (because we all have those too) stories in the comments!

I recently chalkboarded the door too, so it has become a center of family fun as well.  We did it with DIY chalkboard paint!

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This was super easy and cheap to do. To make your own chalkboard paint in any color you want all you have to do is add 2 tablespoons of unsanded grout to 1 cup of paint and mix it really well. I chose a dark brown color (I felt black would be too dark) and since I was just doing 1 door, I bought a sample from Lowes for $3.50. Add the grout in just before you are ready to paint as it will gradually thicken and get clumpy after a time (a friend gave me her box when she was moving, but it’s not terribly expensive and lasts forever – so ask around if you know anyone who has grouted recently, or get a box to share because all of your friends will want to do this when they see your awesome door! lol).

Once your door is painted and completely dry, prep it by rubbing white chalk all over it in circular motions, then go back and erase it in circular motions and then voila you have an amazing chalkboard door that will be the hit of your home!

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We celebrated our 18th anniversary on Monday! Woot! Robert was very proud of his “first boat ever, Mom!”.

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Filed under Every Day Life, Family, Getting Crafty

Miracles at Christmas

I felt like I stood at the edge of a cliff looking out over the next month or so, seeing Christmas and all the wonderful and hard it would be. It was quite overwhelming, facing another year without Lizy. I told myself it should and would be easier, but I couldn’t deny the ache growing in my heart that something would be missing from our Christmas this year, just as it was last year.  Then I felt as though someone gave me a great shove off that precipice and Christmas was rushing up to meet me head on, much faster than I wanted it to.

But a few things happened this year, that made Christmas miraculous. Honestly, I believe Christmas is miraculous every year because for our family it is a time to Celebrate the miracle of Christ, but this year became special in it’s own way.

I would love to say that our Christmas was miraculous because the kids got along and there was less fighting. Or that I held myself together with grace and accomplishment and didn’t get upset or frustrated at all with kids. But, that was not the case. Our kids still fought, and I was a sobbing mess on a number of occasions.

One of the first miracles came early in December. I was working on making gifts when I discovered I needed some key rings to finish them off. I knew we had a bunch somewhere and started to dig through boxes that had been stowed away and almost forgotten. One such box was marked “Mom-Office/kids gifts.” I had forgotten that when we had moved from Oregon, I had packed away the odds and ends the kids had bestowed upon me in a box with some office stuff (mainly old negatives). Curious as to what I would find I opened the box eagerly.

Tears sprung to my eyes as my gaze landed on a miniature stuffed black cat. To any typical observer, this little cat would have looked worn, and maybe a little rag-tag. Some would call it worn out or ratty, others well-loved. To me, it was a special love note from heaven. It had been a cherished treasure of our precious Lizy. To me it was a note from Heaven, telling me that Heavenly Father was ever aware of my aching heart and my needs. It was a special gift from my Lizy at a special time of year. It’s name is *Oreo, and he kept me company through the rest of the month, sitting on my desk, watching over the gifts I made for my family.

I carried the box upstairs and continued to go through it, I found cards and bookmarks she had made for me, and nick-knacks she and her sisters had given me through their early years. My heart swelled and I burst out laughing with love and delight as my gaze fell upon a piece of paper with a lizard sticker on it with the words, in Elizabeth’s writing, “Your pet Lizard (Me)!” I was overwhelmed, not only had I been blessed with little Oreo, but so many wonderful treasures that I hadn’t set eyes on in years.  It felt like special gifts from Lizy all over again, even more cherished the second time.

Our next miracle came in disguise. At first I thought I was providing someone else with  a miracle, but I think it was more for me than for the receiver. I have noticed numerous times when I headed to the fabric store (located in a large shopping center with a Walmart and numerous other stores) a homeless woman standing with a sign in the median in the entrance to the parking lot. A few times I had the thought to give her some food, but I was always stuck in moving traffic and a quick scan of the car never yielded anything of sustenance or warmth. This particular day as I began to pass the woman, I thought, when are you going to quit thinking of helping her, and actually do something about it? Immediately I felt small and I knew that Heavenly Father wanted me to help this woman. No more excuses about not having anything in the car, or being in too much of a hurry to go into the store to get something.

At first I thought I could buy her a hamburger meal or something, but then I felt something more sustaining was needed. I maneuvered our van into the neighboring lane that turned right and pulled back into the parking lot further down. Excitement thrilled inside me as I unloaded the two little boys and started on my shopping trip. I knew it couldn’t be too much, she had to carry it, after all, and I didn’t want it too heavy. Into the cart went some bread, peanut butter and jam, fruits and vegetables, milk, and a special Christmas treat. The boys were excited and happy to make suggestions.

I paid and carted the bags to the car, carrying them by hand across the parking lot to test their heaviness. I condensed the items into as few bags as possible and set them on the passenger seat for easy access.  Knowing that I had been inspired to do this thing, I hopped into the car and pulled into the first left turning lane so I could hand the bags out the window to the woman. My heart thumped and I grinned from ear to ear as I pulled forward.

She wasn’t there.

I frowned, trying to decide what this meant. Perhaps I had been mistaken in my thought this was a prompting. Perhaps I should just take the food home, goodness knows we would make fast use of the groceries. But no, I had the though to try again. Just as I turned left onto the highway, I saw the woman cutting across the parking lot. I drove off, looking for a place to turn around. There wasn’t a place to turn quickly, so it took me a while to get back and into that left turning lane. This time it would work out.

She wasn’t there.

I frowned again, having many of the same thoughts and once more receiving the feeling to try again. So, I made that same left turn, and again saw her crossing the parking lot just as I turned. I drove off to make my turn around. This time though, I was going to drive about the parking lot to see if I could find her, and I wouldn’t get into the left turn only lane.

I got back to the parking lot and began driving around. The longer I drove and looked the more discouraged I became. I wondered if I had imagined the feeling, or if perhaps the food was meant for someone else. I wondered how long I should search, it wasn’t too long before the girls would be coming home from school. I got the distinct impression to look until I found her.

My search turned up nothing. I crossed over the highway and looked in the parking lot of another large store and a fas tfood restaurant, praying all the while. Finally I was sitting back at the light, only on the opposite side of the street. I had a decision to make. To turn and go home or to go straight and look some more. A considerable amount of time had passed and I doubted I would find her. Then, as I waited to pull up to the light, I spotted her on the opposite side of the road. I watched, fascinated as she crossed the first half of the highway. Then I mentally urged her to hurry as the light turned green and cars ahead of me began to go.  I drove as slow as I could and breathed a sigh of relief when the light turned yellow as the car in front of me went through.

I stopped and watched as she crossed the rest of the way to my side of the highway. I rolled down the passenger window and began waving my arms, trying to capture her attention. She glanced my way, and then, as I motioned her towards me, stepped between cars. I pointed to the bags as she looked in my van. “I’ve been looking for you,” I said, “these groceries are for you.”

Her face sprung into an astonished and grateful smile as she uttered thanks. Gathering the bags she hurried out of the street and back to the sidewalk. My heart swelled and my eyes filled as I watched her walk down the sidewalk in my rear-view mirror, bags in hand. And I was immediately grateful for the miracle of being able to bless someone’s life. That experience has blessed me and taught me much, and I am so glad I didn’t give up when I couldn’t find her the first, second, or even the third time.

The next miracle came in the form of generosity from others towards our family. Beautiful, wonderful and special – these people who brought us these wonderful group of miracles will never know how much they blessed our family, in so many more ways than they could ever imagine.

Then came a miracle on Christmas Eve. It was so wonderful and so very hard. We had Christmas dinner and Robert’s elbow wound out being pulled out – a wonderful member of the ward and friend who is a pediatrician took the time to come put it back in so we could avoid the ER on Christmas Eve and we were able to continue with our acting out the Nativity with a happy little boy.

The day and evening finally wound to a close. Santa Daddy had come and bestowed his gifts to the family, the stocking were filled, and the presents placed beneath the tree. Everything was done, except for the cinnamon buns that would raise all night for breakfast the next morning. I quickly put them together while Paul washed up some final dishes from the day. It was late and I was tired. I heated the syrup on high and, turning the stove off, poured it over the cinnamon buns. I went to cover them with plastic, but realized they would rise better on the stove, a warmer spot in the kitchen. I glanced at the stove. It was a mess. I grabbed a clorox cleaning wipe and, forgetting that I had moments ago turned the burner from high heat to off, placed my hand right down on the burner.

Oh, how I howled. The pain was excruciating and I dove for the cold water. Tears streamed down my face and my hand just burned in pain. Paul grabbed some burn cream and we slathered it over my hand. I sat, crying, hoping that it wouldn’t be to bad, hoping to avoid the hospital, and wondering what I would do on Christmas if I couldn’t play the piano for the family or play with the kids. I tearfully asked Paul for a priesthood blessing. By morning the pain had diminished to almost nothing. My hand still ached a little and felt slightly swollen, but there was no sign of a burn other than slightly red skin and two tiny little blisters on the pads of my first and second fingers.

By lunchtime my hand felt totally normal and I was playing the piano without any trouble. What a wonderful miracle for our family. What a wonderful moment to share with the children. It was another love note from Heavenly Father telling me that he cared.

Our final miracle came Christmas night. A marvelous miracle brought to us by so many. We had invited people to join us in filling Lizy’s stocking with acts of service. We gathered on Christmas evening around the tree and emptied out the full stocking and began taking turns reading the wonderful acts of service that not only our family had put in her stocking, but that so many had done and told to us so we could put them in her stocking.  I am sure Lizy was with us, grinning from ear to ear over her Christmas gift. And, not only did it help us all feel closer to Lizy, but it helped us feel closer to our Savior Jesus Christ.

So, our Christmas was full of miracles both big and small. We saw the hand of God in our lives time and time again. I know Heavenly Father is aware of us. He is aware of our struggles and trials, our heart aches and sorrows. He knows exactly what we need. I shudder to think that I could have so easily overlooked some of these miracles. Sometimes they can be hard to see and go unnoticed. Sometimes we can be so caught up in our troubles that we forget to look up and see the light. He is there and He loves us. He will never ever leave us. Sometimes He is easily seen, and sometimes we have to look for Him.

I am in awe of our wonderful miraculous Christmas, and so very, very grateful.

*a long time ago I wrote this post about Lizy and her Oreo – complete with a picture of the little stuffed kitten.

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Filed under Family, Lizy, Miracles

Refreshed

I feel refreshed.

This weekend was WONDERFUL.

I’ll write more and post more photos, but for now I’m just going to ramble about how wonderful it was to get away.

The thing with loosing a child is that there is a constant reminder.

You can’t get away from it.

I’m a Mom – that’s my job. It’s the best job in the world. I LOVE being a mom.

I’m a Mom(and wife of course) first and a piano teacher, writer and anything else second.

I go to work in the morning by opening my eyes.

My family is my most wonderful work and there’s someone missing. Not a second goes by where she isn’t in my thoughts and hardly a second goes by where I don’t miss her and notice her absence. She is a part of us. I saw that adorable face every day – more hours than not – for almost 14 years and all of a sudden that adorable face is no longer there.

There’s no distraction from that.

I can’t throw myself into my work as a distraction – my family is my work. SHE is my work.

I can’t throw myself into some fantastic hobby as a distraction – how can I possibly neglect the rest of my amazing family, and my husband? They are my work too.

There’s no easy or simple answer and it’s an uphill battle. And not only do I have to figure out how to deal with my grief and my emotions, but those of my children – and be considerate of my husband.

I found myself craving more and more a chance to get away. A break from life. Something where for the first time in 10 months I could focus on me.

That probably sounds horribly selfish.

But, as a mom we rarely focus on what we want – and that’s as it should be. Our focus is on the children and their emotions and needs. Oh, there are times and moments in the day when we get away and get to focus on ourselves, but not often and not long.  The idea of an escape from the pressures of life sounded wonderful.

And impossible.

But then I realized it may not be so impossible and due to some wonderful caring friends it happened sooner than I ever expected, but I think at the time it was most needed.

I felt like I was crumbling. Barely able to hang on to my sanity and process my own emotions, let alone help five children grapple with theirs. And I felt so very tired – if you recall my tired post. 🙂

This little get away was just the thing to rejuvenate me. For the first time in my life I took a 2 hour long bath! I just relaxed and watched a chick-flick while I soaked. I’ve never been SO self-indulgent. And, because I was away from home with no responsibilities for the weekend, I didn’t feel guilty about it!

For the first time in 10 months (and longer, really) I completely relaxed. It was wonderful having no demands on my time and being able to do the things we (my husband and I) wanted to do.  We were definitely ready to come home and get back into routine, but the break was so wonderful.

Missing Lizy was lessened a bit. Since we were missing (and maybe even not missing, lol) all our kids, it wasn’t so heavy on our hearts.

For the first time since the accident, Paul and I had time to sit down and really talk about it all. What happened, how it happened, how we felt, what we’re feeling now. It was wonderful. It drew us closer together and I think I burned through an entire box of kleenex. And that evening as we drove through the foothills of the smokey mountains, the sunset turned them pink and I had to smile at our little Lizy gift.

And how do I feel today, now that I am home and back into the every day routine of things?

I feel more calm and at peace with things than I have felt in a long, long time.

I feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and renewed.

I feel like I’m ready to tackle real life head on.

It feels good.

It’s been a long time since I have felt this way.

I feel like I have a little of me back – my old self.

And that feels good.

I still miss her dreadfully, the pain is still there.

But, I feel like since I took a break this weekend, I am more able to face it, handle it, cope with it.

While I was away I took it for a stroll and let it be my companion for an hour or so while I talked with Paul.

Now, I feel like it can be put away a little while so I can focus on my many other responsibilities. It’s still there – always will be. But at least for the moment I have a grip on things and don’t feel quite so tired. 😀

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Filed under Child loss, Family, Parenting

A Perfectly Imperfect Christmas

I woke up Christmas Eve morning, my entire body feeling heavy, like it was difficult to breathe.  My heart felt like it was  broken and trying to pump lead . Some days over the past months are easier than others and that day, it just plain hurt. It had been building over the weekend. The family had been fighting more and I found myself wishing that things could just be easy, for a few minutes if nothing else. In a spot in life where remembering to be happy and to smile can be hard, some days, I just wish for easy. I sat in the bathroom sobbing. All I wanted was to have everything back to how it had been before Lizy died. Sure, life would be far from perfect, but it wouldn’t be impossible.

But, it was Christmas Eve day and dinner had to be made and all the other preparations and I couldn’t let my family down. I struggled through the day. We all did. I think we fought more than we ever had. I cried more than I ever have. Everything felt broken. Nothing seemed to work right. And I caught myself thinking numerous times, “How can we hope to be an eternal family and see Lizy again, if we can’t make it through a few hours without a major fight.” I sobbed, I pounded on my husband’s chest and soaked his shirt with helpless tears and no clue how to fix everything that was broken, because it wasn’t the kind of broken that could be fixed with some duct tape or crazy glue.

I pulled my self together for the fifth or sixth time that day, smeared my tears away and ran a last minute trip to the store, trying to collect myself, knowing that when I got back our adopted grandparents would be there and the festivities would begin. I cried some more in the car and hoped my eyes didn’t look too red. I tried my best to wish the cashier a cheery “Merry Christmas.” I don’t know if I was convincing or not.

Sure enough, as I arrived at the house they were there. I walked in and my heart lightened. It was Christmas Eve. It would be perfect, and even though we couldn’t see her, I knew Lizy would be there.

We ate dinner and acted out the nativity – the kids insisted on Lizy being the angel and we draped the white lab coat (angel costume) around her picture. We made it through, I laughed and had fun – the kids were so cute in their costume and we felt the spirit and Lizy’s presence. Santa came and brought pjs and we tucked the kids into bed.

We spent the next couple hours cleaning up and getting ready for Christmas morning and then, as I stood there and looked at the fully packed stockings and Lizy’s rather lacking one the tears hit again and all the missing came back.

I cried myself to sleep.

I awoke on Christmas in a post-cry haze to the sound of the girls whispering excitedly. The day progressed remarkably smoothe – I was wrapped up in the joy of the children. I didn’t mind the crazyness and the mess. There were a few tense moments,fights and one rather large explosion at one point, but I managed to hold it together some what.

Evening came and we sent the kids off to bed and I stood staring at the fireplace mantel where all the stockings, now empty, hung. All but one. Lizy’s sat on the hearth still waiting to be opened. We brought the kids back down and sat on the floor by the tree. I shook out her stocking and paper after paper tumbled out. Paul and I began to read – our Christmas gifts to Lizy. Most were acts of service or kindness carried out by our family, but some were by others – even a neighbor down the street had dropped some by. We read, and read and read. Often times our voices cracking with emotion.

As we finished, Emily climbed, sobbing, into my lap. “I can’t believe all the service that was done for her.” She choked out. We cried together, all of us – Dot and Dad, Jacob, Em, James, and I. Robert looked on in bewildered 2-year-old innocence. As the tears dried I looked at the family. I knew Lizy was there too. It was perfect – a perfectly imperfect Christmas. And for that one little moment I caught a glimpse of heaven. A glimpse of what it’s all about.

We might fight, we might argue, but we also love. We love deeply and eternally.   Our dear sweet kids have struggled and strived and done hard things – some of the hardest things they may ever have to do. My husband has been my solid rock. My littlest boys have been some of my greatest comfort. Last night as I glanced around at the messy house and the toys and wrappings scattered about all I could remember was the happiness of the day, the gratitude in my heart, and the joy that I had a family and friends who cared so much that they filled Lizy’s stocking with service that took us well over thirty minutes to get through. And that time when I cried, it wasn’t so much tears of sadness and missing Lizy, as it was an overwhelming feeling of gratitude.

I knew Lizy was thrilled and I knew that no matter how hard, how much we fought, how impossible it all felt and seemed, that we would make it through – we’ll have a lot more rough patches to still make it through – but we’ll get there one way or another. I’ll fight for it, our family will fight for it, and we might mess up big in the process, but that’s what this season is all about. A celebration of the birth of the one person who made it all possible – Jesus Christ.  With His help, and only with His help can we do it, – and we will. I know it.

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Filed under Child loss, Family, Lizy, Parenting, Religion

The Faces of My Motivation

I’ve been asked sometimes, how do you do it?

How do you keep going?

Stay positive?

Be strong?

I’m not and I don’t. Not all the time at least. I struggle and I cry.

Sometimes I sob.

But, I can’t let myself do that a lot.

I can’t afford it.

I might have lost one precious and amazing daughter,

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but I have five more children who need me to keep it together.

So, when all else fails. When I’m tempted to give in, hide for a week, or turn into a quivering mess and stick my head in the sand for the rest of the month, week, or even year…

These are the glorious faces that keep me going:

Bobert

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Jamesy

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J-Kabob

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Emmy

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Dot

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They are my joy. I look at these photos and my heart swells and thumps and my eyes tear at the beauty in their face and their joy, even amidst the sorrows (these were taken this summer). It shines through and fills me in the darkest moments.

And of course, nothing would be possible without my amazing Husby.

Paul Wagner

He doesn’t mind if I soak his shirts with tears, or snap in frustration after a bad day. He always makes me smile and laugh. He is my hero.

So, the answer is, I do it for them. I do it for Lizy. We can only be together forever if I keep on keeping on. 🙂
Without them, I think this journey would be impossible.
They are amazing and I love them with ALL my heart.

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Filed under Bobert, Child loss, Children, Dot, Em, Family, Gratitude, Jacob, James, Lizy

Thoughts

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and written. I try to keep my posts upbeat, or at the very least positive in nature and it’s been rather hard the past few weeks. I have found myself missing my Lizy so much that sometimes it’s excruciating and I have to remember to breathe. But, while I miss her, I also find and have joy in my five wonderful, living children and my most amazing husband.

To say life these last two months has been a roller coaster ride is a bit of an understatement. Paul is starting a new job – it’s wonderful, an answer to prayers. He will have better hours, better pay, more vacation, more holidays, better benefits. Such a blessing, and the change will be a good thing, especially for him, helping him to take another step to “moving on”.

I have a new calling at church – I am the Young Women’s president (that means I work with the 12-18 year-old girls at church- planning activities, etc.). While I am a bit overwhelmed, and feel completely inadequate, I love these girls. I can’t help but think, while Heavenly Father had to bring my Lizy home to him, he gave me eleven beautiful young women to watch over in her place. I will be busy, and busy is good.

Lastly, my father, who has been battling brain cancer, passed away this past Friday. I will miss him, I already have been missing him these past few months, but I know he is with Lizy and so many more family members. I smile as I picture the joyous return and reunion he must have had. I am grateful he didn’t suffer longer than he had to. I am grateful family has been able to be there to help him and my mother through this time. And I am so grateful to be going to Oregon for his funeral. It will be the first time in 13 years (do to geographical locations) that all of kids will be together.

It’s hard to describe how I feel about things. So much has been happening, life altering things and I go from being happy one minute to in tears the next. But one thing I do know, and that is that we have a loving Heavenly Father who is aware of what we are going through and showers us with tender loving mercies. I saw a saying recently that I have come to love:

“Sometimes God calms the storm…sometimes God lets the storm rage and calms His child.”

I feel at peace. I feel His love. I know families are eternal and that while the years ahead will be hard without Lizy and my Father, I know I’ll be with them again at length. Some might say life is unfair. That too much has hit our family. I say life isn’t about fair or unfair. It’s a series of challenges that will help us to learn what we need to know and to develop the strength we need to prepare us for the next stage of our eternal existence. Each of us is different, and our challenges and tests are different. Only He knows what we need to reach our full potential. I think often of this quote by C.S. Lewis:

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace.”

The challenges we are given are uniquely fit for us, and just because ours may be more visible than others, they are no more important than the many trials and challenges faced by others. Heavenly Father will give us all the strength we need to overcome our personal challenges in life, no matter how unbearable they feel. We can learn from them and find beautiful things admist the thorns. Each of us has the potential to become that beautiful palace if we let the Master do His work.

And, even in the dark hours, there are many beautiful things. Today is Paul’s and my anniversary. We have had fourteen wonderful, marvelous years together and look forward to so many more. Paul is my rock, my strength. When I flounder and feel weak, I can lean on him. He loves unconditionally, and is a marvelous father to our amazing children. I love him with all my heart and admire all that he is.

Even in the hard dark moments, I am surrounded by many beautiful things –

namely my family.
I am SO blessed.
Every hour.
Every day.

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Filed under Child loss, Family, Opinion, Philosophy, Religion

I said yes, instead of no, and that has made all the difference

So many times as parents we tell our children no when they want to do things with us.

We’re too tired.

We’re too busy.

We don’t feel like it.

We’d rather get the cleaning done, or maybe we just slipped into that delicious book we started a week ago and have been waiting to find out what happens next.

I know I’ve been guilty of it far too often, but there was one week where I didn’t say no. It was Spring Break.

On Sunday the kids wanted to lay outside while Dad grilled dinner. I said yes and read “Harry Potter” to them on the grass.

On Monday the kids wanted to use our newly created fire pit. It wasn’t really finished, but I asked Dad and he said Yes (even though he wanted to finish it first) and we had our first hotdog roast in the backyard and read scriptures and ghost stories around the fire. It is an AWESOME memory.

On Tuesday I had planned to take the kids hiking, but the morning was slow and things weren’t going the best and I almost changed me mind. It took them hiking, even though I wanted to just stay home and we had an amazing time. I was blessed with a special experience and some wonderful fun memories.

On Wednesday Lizy asked if I could take her shopping. She’d earned some money babysitting and needed some new shoes. I wasn’t really in the mood to go. The house was a wreck after our hike the day before, and there was SO much that needed to be done. But, despite all that, I said yes. We had the BEST time. We laughed and joked and she found some adorable pink flip flops with a big pink flower on each one and a pair of new tennis shoes. She even had enough to get the CD she wanted – Ocean Eyes by Owl City and we had fun listening to the fireflies song.

That night when Em went to a friend’s house, she and Dot wanted to sleep in the basement. I said yes, and I didn’t even complain when they stayed up to 12:20 – I’m so glad I didn’t send them to bed early. I’m so glad they had that time together.

On Thursday morning the kids cut pictures out of old magazines and then the accident happened.

I am so grateful I said yes.

I am so grateful I said yes, when I wanted to say no.

I am so grateful that instead of a week of regrets, I have a week of wonderful memories.

I am SO grateful that I had that last mother/daughter date with my little Lizy.

Life is so precious. Hobbies and cleaning can wait to a degree. I know we need to say no once in a while, but we need to say yes more often. We never know when our yes, might be the last yes we can say.

Enjoy your children. Put down the broom, the computer, the washcloth, the book, the amazing project your doing, and go play with them now. They’ll never forget the time you spend with them, and beleive me…..

neither will you.

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Filed under Child loss, Children, Family, Lizy, Parenting, Philosophy