Month: November 2010

A Mother’s Heart

“There is in all this world no fount of deep, strong, deathless love, save that within a mother’s heart.”

 – Felicia Hemans


I drive by this at least four times a day, sometimes more depending on the errands I need to run.  Greg drives past it at least six times a day. 

This memorial is at a “T” intersection.  In fact, the school buses drive down the street head on to this intersection and stops there at the stop sign to wait for it’s turn to move.  The kids on the bus see this twice a day as well.  Elementary students, Middle School students, and High School students.  Jaryd’s classmates.  Most of the time I see this at an angle:

See the pilllow that says, “I love you, I miss you.”?  Yeah, it gets me everytime.  There used to be a lot of candles there too, but the family was here yesterday and cleaned things up.  They put Jaryd’s silly hat back on the sign since it had blown away during our crazy windstorm.  The stop sign at the intersection has hundreds of signatures and well wishes and heartbreaking passages written in Sharpie on it.  I know that the man who lives in the woods by our house, a mile at least away, takes care of this site because I’ve seen him picking up debris and setting the stuffed animals just-so. 

Some days this, (notice that I don’t know what to call it so I keep saying ‘this’?) is just another part of the scenery on my way to do the busyness that is my life.  Some days looking at it rips at my heart and it makes me cry.  Some days, it’s odd to say, that seeing this brings a smile to my face because it has become a constant.  That smiley faced picture of this teenager with a silly hat on can uplift me and remind me to embrace each of my own kids.  To savor the time I have with them, and to make every moment count with them.  Not easy because I’m human, but for a brief moment I am reminded to choose my battles with them.

Jaryd was on his way home from school in a car with other friends.  He was not the driver.  They came to this “T” intersection and stopped.  The driver then pulled forward to complete the turn to home when they were broadsided by a van.  The others in the car made it.  Jaryd wasn’t as fortunate.  He was so close to being home.  I can’t imagine being his mother waiting for him to walk in the door only to have policemen show up in his place.  I can’t imagine the feeling.  Nor the horror that the bus full of his friends felt as they had to drive past the accident to reach their mothers who were expecting their safe arrival.

My mother’s heart hurts thinking that when my kids leave in the morning that it will be the last time I may speak or see them, so I choose to make every morning a good morning and try my best to make sure they leave knowing that I love them.  My mother’s heart goes out to the mother who will be celebrating the holidays without her baby for the first time this season.  Not just Jaryd’s mother, but anymother who’s heart may be broken.  My heart bursts with joy when I think of the love that our community showed after Jaryd’s death.  My heart is full seeing how mothers all over are not only taking care of their own kids, but are doing their best to help other mothers take care of theirs this Christmastime by doing what mothers do; give.  Giving presents, money, food, their time and any other resource she can muster.    Don’t get me wrong, I know a father’s heart is large and can be full as well.  His too can be sensitive and kind and loving.  I can only speak from what I know, a mother’s heart. 

I hope that this is never taken down.  That I will always have a reminder of Jaryd and life and love and loss.  Inside I know that eventually it will be gone, but I hope it will be a long time in the future.  I have come to love this.

Here are some pictures of the messages to Jaryd and his family that are written on the stop sign at the intersection:  They are very touching.




I Am Thankful For Random Acts of Culture (and Ali)

Over there, to the right of the blog is a cute girl with an even cuter blog.  (My blog wants to be her blog when it grows up.)  Ali, from The View From The Johnson’s, has been an acquaintance since I was in the ninth grade in Lubbock, TX.  She is a year younger than I am and I say acquaintance because we didn’t hang out or anything, I just knew who she was and (I think) she knew who I was and we smiled at each other as we passed in the hall.  We both loved choir, but were in different ones because of our grade difference.   She is AD-OR-ABLE.  We have upgraded from acquaintance status to friend status thanks to Facebook.  I have found Ali to be a strength when I felt I have none, a LOLPIMP* when I didn’t think I could muster a smile, and a voice of simple reason when I have been overwhelmed with critical chaos.  And she does this easily from 2500 miles away.

Anyway, she blogged this Random Acts of Culture bit today on her blog and while I tried SO HARD not to copy her, I just couldn’t help it.  She appreciates the good stuff, recognizes beauty, and I had to share with  you the gem she found.  Besides, it’s no secret that I am a flash mob addict, this video is similar to that.  Why am I never in the right place at the right time?  Grr!!

Can I just say that sometimes goosebumps spread over my entire body when Glee does a particularly good job on their rendition of a famous artist?  I bawl like a baby whenever I hear the National Anthem, and I’ve been known to visibly shake with emotion when I hear good  A Capella.  I am unashamed to confess this.  As I watched this video a smile plastered itself on my face as my bottom lip quivered and my whole being took in the beauty of what I was watching and listening to.  My daughter thought I was being possessed until she saw what I was watching, then she understood because she too has the appreciation of music.  (I’m so impressed with the variety of people that participated, there are teenagers in there people!!!)

This is what Creative Minority Report had to say about this event, “Just this past weekend, shoppers at the the Macy’s in Philadelphia (the old Wanamaker building) were surprised when over 600 choristers who were there mingling with regular shoppers suddenly burst into Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. It’s pretty awesome.”  Yes. Yes it is.  So, without further ado . . .

Thank you Ali! {sniff, sniff}

*Laugh Out Loud Pee In My Pants

I am grateful for toothless grins.  Griffin lost his first tooth this past week and he looks like a different kid.  More grown up.  I guess he *did* just celebrate his sixth birthday this weekend so he is more grown up.

I am grateful for people who go out of their way to do something nice.  Like my daughter’s friend AW.  Transportation got screwed up from the kids’ early morning church class (6AM) to school so instead of letting Colleen leave class 15 minutes early to catch the bus, AW volunteered to give Colleen a ride so she could stay for the class’s entirety.  She didn’t have to, but her kind heart is appreciated. 

I am grateful for music.  I love listening to my kids’ practice their instruments.  Some parents tolerate the practicing, I {puffy heart} love it.  Cameron on his electric guitar, amp turned up loud.  Keegan on the drums, and Atalie on the piano.  The sounds just warm my heart and fills our home with such a sweet energy.  I am also grateful for their appreciation of music.  Three of my five kids are in choir.  Yet, every Sunday at church I can hear all 7 of us singing the hymns.  Every Monday night we sing songs of praise as a family and everyone joins in.  In the truck as we travel most of us will sing to what is on the radio/Zune and I can hear the harmonies we have and often times it brings a tear to my eye.

I am grateful for my kids’ teachers.  I appreciate that they all seem to want to work as a team to make sure my kids are on the right road.  I appreciate the time and effort and money that they put in to my child’s future.  I used to want to be a teacher but I would have taken each of those kids home with me at night.  Not physically, but all their home problems or learning problems and I would have stressed about them to the point that I would have been driven mad.  How these select people can do it year after year is admirable.  And to include in this fabulous group of people, I would like to add I am grateful for my kids’ bus drivers.  Oh what a terrible, awesome responsibility!  I couldn’t do it!

I am grateful for my 5 senses.  I used to wonder to myself which one I would be able to live without the easiest.  None of them!  I guess taste would be the one I could give up, but to be blessed with the different capabilities of experiencing life!   What joy!

I am grateful for opposition.  Oh how blessed we are to have this in our every day lives!  And how often we think it a curse.  Imagine  feeling hurt all the time withouth feeling the happiness!  If we never felt the dark hour how would we recognize the light at the end of the tunnel?  If we couldn’t feel loneliness then how could we truly appreciate the love from others?  One emotion would be lost without the other.  Right now I feel that my struggle is getting to be beyond what I am capable of and I am desperately trying to imagine the strength I will have once I have endured.  It is so difficult and painful.  So painful.  But without the knowledge that there is an opposite to this feeling and knowing what peace that feeling will bring to me, I might just give up all together.  Does is shock you to hear that?  Sadly, this is where I’m at.  So yes, I am grateful for opposition.

I am grateful for the unconditional love of a child.

I am grateful for the acceptance of my husband.

I am grateful for the honesty of my friends, and the interventions they play to remind me of who I am and what I am capable of when I am so blind to it.

I am grateful for traditions.  The ones that Greg and I grew up with that we have kept in our own little family, and the ones he and I have created over the years.  What comfort they bring, and what an impact they have on the kids!  Atalie will be doing an expository essay and the prompt was “what is it that you like/what is it that you dislike?”.  (This is part of the school district’s writing assessment.)  Atalie has chosen to write about traditions during Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Not about the turkey-day feast with our friends or presents from Santa, but about the cinnamon rolls, the game playing, the anticipation she feels as she waits upstairs on Christmas morning while Greg & I turn on the Christmas tree lights and holiday music.  The excitement of who finds the Christmas spider that morning to find out who gets to hand out the gifts.  THIS is what is special and memorable to her.  I feel warm and fuzzy inside to know this and to know that it isn’t the materialistic things that her mind goes to.  Thank you mom, dad, Russell, and Penny for instilling traditions in Greg & I so that we could continue them with our kids.

I am grateful for being grateful.  It seems that when I feel down and can find so much to complain about that if I do that balancing act (previous post I’m Unbalanced) then I feel better inside.  A simple, yet difficult thing to do.

Flix, Clicks, and Fridges

I’ve had a difficult time with the site this week.  I am not thankful for that.  Grr.  But I think things are better.  Here is what I’ve been grateful for:

Love me some Netflix!  I am a movie junkie.  If I even think I’m going to like a movie I buy it.  Or I used to.  With Netflix I can watch it, keep it and send it back when I’m ready.  Sometimes it’s the next day.  Sometimes, like in the case of Jane Eyre, I have kept a movie up to 6 months.  Okay, that was only with Jane Eyre.  (yes, I bought it and still watch it quite a bit.  In closed captioning even.)  Greg and I like to give a subscription to Netflix to newly married couples too.  Oh, and now that you can do an instant viewing on a lot of movies, we can watch something right when we feel like it, keep it in our que and watch it over and over again without having to deal with a disc.  (Hello BBC version North & South)

Hey, husbands out there, garages truly are for vehicles.  Well, they should be.  Especially if you live out here in the Pacific Northwest where it drizzles rains quite a bit and a person might have to drag kids or groceries or something else in and out from the car.  In our experience it’s just safer to keep the cars put away.  Since we got to design our home with an architect, we made sure we had a two car garage that we could park the car and suburban in as well as another one car garage for Greg’s toys.  I am so grateful that we did that.  Truth be told, right now the vehicles aren’t in the garage because we are still unpacking our crap priceless items since we’ve moved.  I still love my garage door opener though.  Click.

We have had this fridge for at least 10 years.  It’s a hand-me-down.  It’s got a dent in the handle, is a pain in the butt to clean, has broken pieces, and really isn’t big enough to hold everything a family of seven needs.  But, it works, it may not match the other stainless steel appliances we have, but it matches the ivory cabinets of the island.  There are other things I’d rather spend our money on so this fridge is going to stay right where it is.  While it may not be the most recent model, I love the fact that it is our message center.  The heart of our kitchen.  It doesn’t hold as many magnets and drawings as it used to, but the best thing about it is I can write on it with a dry erase marker.  Yippee!  We write notes to each other, leave phone messages, and best of all keep our grocery list on the front.  I take a picture of the list on my phone before we go grocery shopping so I have an easy referral to what we need.  Lazy?  I think more like brilliant.  (you know you’re going to do this now)

I may not get to blog things that I am grateful for as often as I would like, but the challenge of having an attitude of gratitude truly has opened my eyes to how many things make a  huge impact on my happiness.  And they aren’t always what I expect.  Funny how blessings work that way huh?

Orange You Grateful?

So I’m not very good at blogging every day.  That doesn’t mean that I haven’t been keeping up with my Attitude of Gratitude.  Here’s a look-see into one thing I found myself grateful for this week.

Color.  I love color.  The aisles at the big stores like Fred Meyer and Target that have all that color on them, yeah, I could get very distracted there.   My kids ask me a lot what my favorite color is, usually I say orange.  It does make me happy.  There aren’t a whole lot of things that are orange so when you see it the color just *POPS* out at you saying, “Here I am, BE HAPPY!!!”.  And I AM!!!  There are some days that yellow is my favorite too.  And green.  And steel blue.  So guess how giddy I was when I saw this a few months ago*:

All of my favorite colors, on my favorite piece of furniture.  My bed.  Gid-dy I tell you.  I love going there, sometimes I visit during the day too.  But that’s another post.  (grateful for nap time, even when all the kids are at school.  Wait, especially when ALL the kids are at school!)

I love paint chip samples and looking at a big box of 96 Crayola Crayons.  I used to see a therapist who would get out that box of crayons at the beginning of our sessions and have me pull out the color I felt like that day.  She said she could tell a lot right off the bat by the crayon I chose.  My favorite color is Daffodil Yellow.  I would be in heaven having the ‘color naming’ job for a paint company or a crayon company.  *laaaaaa . . . .*

Living in the Pacific Northwet Northwest this time of year you don’t see much color.  Shades of gray mostly, so this past week I have been ridiculously grateful for COLOR!!!!

*is it lame that I went upstairs and made my bed just to take a picture for the blog?  Nah, I didn’t think so.

PS.  For Atalie’s 7th birthday party she had an “Orange You Glad I’m Having A Party?” party.  EVERYTHING was orange.  It was one of the most fun parties we’ve had.  Color themed parties are awesome, especially when you can get the guests to wear the color.  Pictures turn out so fun!

AG: ICK, UGH! AH . . .

Thursday has brought me to another thing I take for granted.  Today I am grateful for my immune system.  Because after using that public restroom earlier, it will be tested.  I am sorry immune system, please pull through.

Boys, Boys, Boys . . .”AG”

I didn’t forget yesterday to be grateful, I just ran out of time to post what it was I was grateful for!  Yesterday I was grateful for boys.  Yup.  Boys.  Specific boys.  Not that the girls in my life aren’t important, but the boys really stepped up to the plate.  And yesterday, I really needed that.

I am grateful to a boy that I have just recently become friends with.  We grew up in the same town, knew the same people, but we never had the opportunity to meet.  Now, 20+ years later we are friends (through Facebook) and seem to click well.  He is a great example to me, and my kids, who call him Uncle Springer.  He enlightens me with his experiences and makes me want to be a better person.  When I am down or struggling, he is there to remind me of my worth and to grace me with titles like “Mandi the Powerful”.    He provides me with literature that hits the spot for me right when I need it.  Every. Single. Time.  He can figure out what I need without me even knowing myself.   He reminds me that neither one of us believes in accidents, that we are here for a reason, and that we have become friends at this point in time in our lives for a purpose.  All from 2500 miles away.  (oh, and he has pizza delivered to my kids when he knows I need to take care of myself for a while, after surgery.)  Yesterday, when I was having a difficult time, he threw on his cape and came to my emotional rescue, again. I can’t wait to meet you.  I am grateful for you Springer!

The second boy is someone I have known for a long time.  More importantly he has known me for a long time.  This is no easy task by the way.  I have changed quite a bit since we first met.  So many life changing events have happened.  Moving, marriage(s), babies, hardships, heartaches, you name it, he has been there.  He will be the first to admit that he can be a biscuit-head and treat others with a little less respect than they deserve.  He will tell you that he is selfish and that he needs to grow up a bit.  I will be the first to agree with him and we can laugh it off and just accept each other for who we are.  There has never been anything romantic between us, more like a brother/sister relationship so it’s easy for either of us to tell the other the truth and be totally upfront.  The cool thing to me with this relationship is that he has known me from when I was a confident, social butterfly, independent teenaged Texas girl to now when I am a less confident, overwhelmed, crazy, homesick, mother-of-five kids living in Washington.  He never lost touch.  He keeps it real.  He reminds me of who I was and who I wanted to be.  He tells me, “you know what’s wrong with you?  you’re a happy person who doesn’t know it.  you need to snap out of it and realize just how happy you are, or could be.”  Greg appreciates how honest he is with me sometimes.  I miss you.  I can’t wait to see you again.

The last man I am grateful for is someone who has made all of my dreams come true.  He knows what I am capable of and pushes me to be that.  He hears my dreams and encourages me to acheive them.  He puts me in the paths of success and holds my hand when I am too scared to get there by myself.  He is my genie in the bottle that keeps granting me wishes, he is my confidant, my protector, my court jester, my nut gallery and cheerleading section all in one.  He is my Mr. Incredible, Mike Holmes, Iron Chef, and Buzz Lightyear.  He is a better wife and mother than I am by a long shot.  He brings an incredible spirit to our home and amazes me with his patience and calm personality.  I don’t know what I did to deserve him.  But I am glad that I did.  I am grateful for you Greg, you will probably never know how much.

There are other boys that I am grateful for as well.  My sons, my brothers-in-law, brothers, friends . . . but these 4 popped up out of nowhere yesterday when I really needed some extra bits of encouragement.  They have been on my mind and I felt the need to publicly let them know of my gratitude.  I’m sure I will have another post about the girls in my life.  There are so many people to be thankful for.  Thank YOU for sticking with me, if you have.  🙂  Happy belated hump-day.

Attitude of Gratitude. “AG” for Short.

Quiz:  which element does AG represent?

Okay, enough of that.  (but a quick shout out of thanks to Mr. Smith for helping me when it came to the pesky Periodic Table.  You were an awesome teacher)

Day #2 of AG.  Have you done any thinking about what you are grateful for?  Have you?  Besides the usual “family, home, cars, jobs, health, education, friends . . .” have you seriously thought about it?  It’s hard.  Here are my picks for today:

I am grateful for books.  I have a list of places that I would like to visit, but they are all in the ‘someday’ category and there are just times that I need to get away now!  Books help me do that.  I can choose to be whomever I want to be, go wherever I want to go, and be in any situation I want to be in.  Right now I am Sadie and Carter Kane in the YA book The Red Pyramid.  I love Rick Riordan.  Oh, another reason why I love books is because I can learn anything that I want to learn.  Sweet!  And have you noticed how many places you can get a book?  Buy it at a bookstore, check it out from the library, borrow from a friend, Kindle, Nook, so many ways to read.  Love. It.  Join me on  and we can talk books.

I am grateful for gas.  Be quiet.  Fuel.   Geez.  I live in my car, bus,suburban, so having a full tank of gas is warmth to my heart.  I don’t have time to go fill it up so my husband is always good to leave me with enough to get me where I need to go.  Gas fireplace warms my body, which seems to be freezing more often lately.  Brrrr.  Gas stove cooks me my comfort food that warms my belly.  Side-note: convection oven lets me bake 3 cakes at the same time for Cake Pops which warms my soul.  (try them, trust me)  Go Gas!

And last, for today, I am grateful for my mommy gut.  Again, not what it sounds like.  Not the gut I got by becoming a mommy to five wonderful kids, oh no, that will be gone – – – someday.  The 6th sense that I have when it comes to my children.   It has come in quite handy often in raising these future world leaders I have in my home.  Thank you mommy gut!

Attitude of Gratitude: Day #1

The English author Aldous Huxley wrote, “Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”  Sad.  So, per Pres. Monson’s  suggestion, I have decided to rise to the “Attitude of Gratitude” challenge.  Granted, not everything I am grateful for is earth-shatteringly bright.  But sometimes it’s the simple things that make my life easier.  They should not be overlooked.  For example, today I am grateful for paper plates, HOV lanes, and caller ID.  See, those items didn’t bring a tear to your eye or make you feel overwhelmed with emotion did they?  But, I bet as you read them you thought, “yeah, those are pretty great things!”  I can’t imagine a hot dog roast at my house without paper plates.  No, flippin’, way.  I would rather spend my time doing the s’more thing with the fam than in the house doing dishes.  Paper plates allow me the pleasure of burning my own marhsmallows and eating them one layer at a time.  Fabulousness.  Thank you paper plates.  (and plastic forks/knives/spoons etc.)

HOV lanes.  I cannot tell you how many times we have decided to go on a date that required freeway travel *during* rush hour traffic.  Poor timing on our parts.  However, due to the great HOV concept, we are most times able to fly right on past all of those poor people stuck in the mayhem of gridlock traffic.    Suckers.  Or we decide to go to Greg’s parents’ house last minute and we also get caught up in the Friday bumper to bumper dance.  Once we hit the areas that have HOV, we are all happy campers to slide on over to the left lane and get over that river and threw them woods just a little bit faster.  Thank you HOV lanes!

Caller ID.  Seriously.  I should not have to explain this one.  Especially right now, during election time.  QUIT CALLING!!!  YOU ARE NOT CHANGING HOW I VOTE!!!   I have to say here that phones are a convenience for ME, not you.  If you are calling me and we are eating dinner, in the midst of Family Movie Night, or reading – leave a message.  So, I guess that not only am I grateful for caller ID to avoid the phone calls I don’t want to participate in, but for the ability to postpone the conversations I *do*  want to have, but miss.    Thank you Caller ID, and voicemail.

What little things are YOU grateful for?  The simple gems that you take for granted every day but once you think about them you would feel a bit more frazzled without them.  Aren’t you excited to know that tomorow you’ll find out what else I am grateful for?  🙂  Be prepared, I have a craft in mind . . .