I've started blogging in a new place:
check out my thoughts, ideas, recipes and philosophies at:
I'm sad to report that my blogging skills could not keep up with blogger. getting my text to format correctly, my photos to upload easily and my format to look less than amateur was taking too much of the little time I have to write, so I've found a more 'blogging for dummies' kind of site that can manage my poor skills adequately.
hope to see you there!
Friday, July 11, 2014
When I first met Mr. Quist and listened to him tell me about the little pioneer house on the land I'd fallen in love with he told me about his frequent visits to the home and the family that lived there. He spoke of the fireplace, always ready to warm him from the long walk to this house, and once inside and sitting by the fireplace he would deliver a message of faith to this family. He was a boy of 13, and he was doing his 'priesthood duty' by 'home teaching' to this kind family.
Mr. Quist spoke in such tender terms about this fireplace and all it represented to him; about faith and duty. About the kindness of a mother who prepared her home for the 'home teacher' to come, stoking the fire and making sure a warm drink was waiting for his arrival. About how he learned about ministering as he attended to this duty and how he came to understand the Love of God through loving this good family. I hadn't been inside the home. I hadn't seen the fireplace. But I wanted to keep it with all my heart should this property ever be ours.
When Mr. Quist finished his story and with emotion and tenderness promised me he would consider allowing us to be owners of this homestead, I felt a desire to keep the symbol of what this home meant to him. Once the property was ours and we could make a full inspection of the fireplace and the house, I thought maybe it could remain in tact and be a part of our new home. It wasn't in keeping with the 'style' of the house we had in mind to build, but it was so important to me to maintain the history and feeling of the property we would now steward. I begged our architect to find a way to include the fireplace in the home's design. He flatly refused. It didn't sit on the property in a place where it could be used. There was no guarantee that it could structurally withstand the demolition of the little house it had for a century kept warm and the building process of the new house that would become our homestead. He was willing to work the stones into the design of the exterior, but no way would he be able to keep the fireplace intact.
So we set about picking the fireplace apart stone by stone. This was no small task - it had been made to withstand the ages and it was prepared to continue to stand through ages yet to come. Built with what is called 'pioneer schemer' the fireplace's stones were not just fronts of stones, but actual small boulders that had been set in the sticky pioneer era cement. Each rock had to be carved out of the schmeer. It was difficult, time consuming and not incredibly successful as some stones would chip or crack and other stones would come free of the schemer but have large chunks of it scaring the rock.
This effort was going on about the same time we met our builder. He suggested letting the bulldozer knock over the fireplace, and then saving the stones and basically chipping the extra schemer away from them to use the rock in some way. After a lot of emotion and discussion (mostly with me talking and John listening patiently) we decided that was the best option. I was sad that we might lose a lot of the rock to the pushing over of the fireplace by the beast of a bulldozer, but the expense and time to remove the stones one by one was simply not worth the end result.
Either way we would end up with a pile of rocks that really were only important to me.
So on the day the house came down, I came over to watch. It was a sight I won't forget - the house had literally been built around the fireplace. Insulation tucked in between the walls and the bumpy fireplace surface..the frame of the house being cut in the bumpy shape of the fireplace's facade.
And the fireplace wouldn't move. It stood solid and still as the house around it crumbled. The dinosaur bulldozer tore through the walls and the wood, revealing layers of paint and wall paper and pulling down the roof to reveal an old attic bedroom long ago abandoned. the house fell fast, but the fireplace stood.
I felt the emotional worry of knocking over something that was meant to last forever. I didn't want to take lightly the work that had gone into its creation, nor did I disregard its usefulness for so many families over so many years. It had stood the test of time and had provided a much needed service and now we were knocking it over.
The neck of the bulldozer bent low to the fireplace and began to knock away. This is when I turned away and with tears in my eyes heard the sound of the machine hitting stone. Our builder, a great guy and not insensitive (but still a GUY) was commenting on how cool it was to see the power of the machine. But I felt the power of the story surrounding the fireplace was much stronger and more full of meaning.
the fireplace fell, eventually. It took effort on the part of the bulldozer. At last the stones laid in a heap on the ground, and the dozer scooped them up and placed them in a corner of the property that would remain untouched by the construction. They'd be safely kept there for us to scrape off the schmeer and discover what we could do to use the stone in remembrance of the way those stones had helped make a minister out of a young man.
Eventually we found a good use for the rock; and I must admit by the time the building project was done some of the intense emotion about that fireplace had faded. But I am so glad we have those stones to speak to our kids in some form, to witness that good things had been brought to pass on the property we now call home. A Young man became a good man on this land. A mother taught strength, kindness and quiet power to the neighbor boy who came monthly to teach her. We have those stories to remember when we see those stones in their new place here at the Homestead.
And we tried to make the hearth of our home something worth remembering too. In a different way we made it a symbol of strength and family. We gathered pieces of our family history, pieces of the construction of our home, pieces from the piles of rubble that were left when the original home came down and even a little piece of the old fireplace and we put them in the new. I hope it becomes a place where boys become good men, a place where I can teach - the mother who lives here now - about quiet strength, service, compassion and consecration. I hope our new hearth is a focal point of warmth both physical and spiritual. And I hope it can stand for another long age as we live here and grow old.
|we tried to dismantle the fireplace, but it had been built to last forever.|
|The new hearth of our home. I am standing with Gordy Meldrum, who was the craftsman who helped bring our idea to reality. We worked closely together to make everyday and family history items into a sculpture surrounding the hearth.|
Friday, April 25, 2014
|Mason enjoys dinner with a family in Texas|
|Elder Graham (right) with his mission president, John Pingree (center) and companion Elder Chandler|
|My dreams have come true!!! Years of piano lessons are put to good use as Mason helps during a mission conference|
|Elder Graham with Sharolyn, a lovely woman who Mason taught and helped to baptize in February.|
It is so tender to me to see the love she has for my son.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Madi's poster photo for her Student Body Office Election, one more thing swirling in Madi's life right now
The past few weeks have been quite a whirlwind for Madi. She turned 14 just 4 weeks ago. A week later we were on our way to Newport Beach for a fun spring break with Madi’s buddy Sophie along for the trip. 2 weeks after the break Madi hopped in a golf cart with her friends and went on a fun joy ride that ended with the cart overturned and Madi out cold on the pavement. A trip to the ER confirmed a concussion (she was struggling to remember her middle name, couldn’t remember her class schedule and had a hard time recalling her age as well). The trauma of the experience was almost as challenging as the injury(she was sitting backwards on the cart and had no warning to brace for the accident, she was shaken awake by her friends only to see that one of the girls was under the cart and the other was covered in a bloody road rash…pretty traumatic for a tender heart like Madi).Now, 10 days after the accident, Madi is back to full days at school but still not back to her competition soccer team or her iPod (much to her chagrin). Her beautiful mind got knocked pretty good.
This mom has been in a mild state of panic ever since Madi’s accident. The concern I have felt for her welfare has been a weight on my shoulders and the subject of wrestles dreams. Her independence and her determination haven’t helped my state of mind…finding her with a phone in her hand (bright lights and little text aren’t good for concussions) or finding her playing tag int the back yard with her siblings have caused me to swallow loud yelps of ‘STOP!’ and settle instead of a concerned ‘Madi!?’ Competing feelings of joy that she feels up to chasing her little sister and worry that she will fall and re-injure herself have raced up and down inside me, tying me in knots as I try to show patience and be encouraging.
Thinking about how to help Madi face the justifiable fear that is now more a part of her as a result of this scare has been another quandary. Madi is independent. Madi is not super talkative with her mom. Madi wants to bury things down deep instead of processing them and pushing them into their proper place. My prayers have been fervent and my desire for her welfare so big, like a mama bear standing up to her full height to swat away danger…only the danger I stand up to face for her is unseen and intangible to me. It exists only within my darling, witty, wonderful, compassionate quirky teen. Because I can’t fix it, I pray for her to feel promptings to know how she can reach out or reach up to repair those little places within which have been torn or traumatized.
Madi’s concussion will heal. We have been assured of this and we see her marked improvement as time continues to pass. Madi’s wit and energy are returning. She is lingering at the piano bench, diving into new music and using her precious and amazing mind to think and to create. She will return to herself soon. Her legs will run the soccer field. Her thumbs will wildly text or instagram, she will be all of Madi again.
And I hope as she comes back to herself she will have taken the opportunity along the way to reach up to heaven for help. To test the things we have taught; that she will never be left comfortless, that there is one who understands exactly how she feels both physically and emotionally. I hope she will cast her burden of fear at the feet of one who will gladly take it and carry it for her. And if she will experiment on the words we have spoken to her and our family again and again from before she was even with us, I know she will be o.k.
I’m learning, as the mom of kids who are growing and going forward in life, that I have less I can control and more I must trust. As I pray for Madi to reach toward heaven for help and comfort I am exerting my own faith in the things I’ve taught her. I can’t of myself fix the things that have gone wrong, so I practice the things that I believe will bring her help and peace. I’m learning I have to get out of the way of the greater lessons that are waiting for my children to learn. And as they stumble, both literally like Madi or in other less physical ways, I have to trust in that very process of regret, repentance, and renewal that I have preached. They are practicing the lessons they learned as they sat at my knee where I could shelter and protect them.
This is harder parenting. Being the mother of little ones was exhausting physically and emotionally. But the teens; the mothering of teens is like the refiner’s fire. It’s uncomfortable. It’s spiritually exhausting more than physically tiring. Its work of a different nature; the kind that requires stillness and listening and trusting - not my children trusting me, but me trusting in God and all I’ve taught my children.
Madi was the one who got her bell rung, but my head is spinning with mothering her. I feel unsteady on my feet, find it hard to remember my lines and feel uncertain of the words to speak and how they will sound coming from my lips. Its been like this for a while. I’ve mothered my oldest out of the nest, and my emotions were so jumbled and confused that I could not write them here. I'm still sorting them out. Just like it was with their arrival in my life, as my children each reach teen age times I feel I’m learning how to be a "new mom", how to mother them as they grow into themselves. My balance feels off, and I feel that strange duo personality of one who is confident that being a mother is what she is and one who doesn’t know what on earth she is doing.
As Madi grows into her health and into her grown up self, I hope I can grow into a greater measure of the mother I am as time marches on. I hope as I reach up and ask for help and beg the Lord to help my kids that I too will come to my mothering self. That I’ll know my way again - or at least feel confident that I can find the right way to help my children continue to go and grow and become. Like Madi’s recovery, I have had to take things away from my life and purposefully and steadily learn what to put back in and when to introduce the ‘extra’s’ that could stall my return to the confidence of my motherhood. And as I hope for Madi’, I hope I too will reach up and become more in my mothering with the help of Heaven.
Monday, February 03, 2014
Thursday, January 09, 2014
|It is a rare occasion that we are a 'silly' family. I love this picture more than I could tell you!|
So we have jumped at every chance to use the Homestead this holiday season. I will admit I have totally boasted about how many bodies we have fit in the kitchen. And I have totally laid in my bed at night thinking of ways to make serving them easier or thinking of table decorations or figuring out traffic patterns so people can get from their food to a sitting spot a little more easily. We have LOVED having people here.
And many of the people have been my family.
What better guinea pigs than the people who are stuck with you? They have been patient with us while we've learned how to use the new space we have, and we have been so happy to let them open the cupboards, dirty the dishes and clean the dishes back up again! My mom is an especially fastidious kitchen assistant and makes sure the kitchen is exactly how she would want it if it belonged to her before she lets my dad and little brother Alex go home from our house after a party (thanks mom!). My sisters have stood at the counter with me and John, and we have all crammed into the scullery together (look up the word, I'll show pictures later). It has felt like a HOME with our family in it.
And now our home is quiet.
Its important to have the times when I am here alone and working. I need to organize the storage room, put the studio together and take down the darn Christmas decorations! But I must admit I'm lonely and have thought of a party or two I could throw to motivate me to get my jobs done here and throw the doors open again - to my family and whoever else wants - to be with us again at home.
Wednesday, January 08, 2014
|the Girls upstairs bedroom with window seat|
I thought I'd send you the story in bits. I have more story in my head than I have pictures on our hard drive, so you'll have to get the 'home tour' bit by bit as I can tell you how it all came to be.
After finding this lot and feeling so good about landing our family here, we set about the process of planning the house that would someday be ours. We enlisted my brother-in-law, Architect John Shirley, to draw our dream home. We had LOTS of ideas and notes. Living in so many cities and in so many homes had given us a good idea of the spaces we wanted to see in this home. I am a big fan of a 'not so big house'. One with enough space to gather people in but not so spacious that the quaintness of home is lost. We wanted a space where kids would feel safe and welcome. We wanted a space with a Rockin' awesome kitchen for John and I to cook in. We wanted a space where our kids would be drawn to each other instead of to their separate corners. And we wanted a space that would preserve the land it was set on, so we could learn how to enjoy that land and make it as productive and beautiful and special outside as we hoped the home would be on the inside.
We told him our wants, and he went to his drawing board.
It took several drafts for him to get it right, and it took some faith for us to see that this talented architect could deliver our dreams in a way we had not anticipated. Stairs stepping up so ceilings felt lower, a motor court type space so the garages were disguised, a smaller laundry area and a bigger gathering area were things Johnny the architect brought to us that we had not anticipated. We worked with him in the evenings. We asked our kids their thoughts, we spoke with others who had built homes from the ground up.
And we did all this in a hurry.
We are not 'take your time' people. One thing John and I have in common is the desire to get things over with. It isn't that we aren't patient. Its just that some things only deserve so much time. Time is precious. It matters how we spend it. We wanted our project done quickly so our time was spent as wisely as our money (and we traded our money to get our job done in a shorter amount of time).
So we worked hard and worked fast and came up with a plan that we were really happy with. It included shared bedrooms for our girls and an extra bedroom for our guests. It was less of an open floor plan and more of a plan with 'flow'. The direction you want to go in the house no matter what door you enter is right straight to the hearth of the home, quite literally, and we felt that this was appropriate. With the plan finalized we set about finding a builder who was willing to work with us under our time constraints. Most builders were quite surprised because most homes like ours are a year in the planning and another year in the building. We had no intention of giving that kind of time to this kind of project. While it is our dream house, it is still a house - a dead thing with no heart and soul but those who live within it. I felt it was better than I run hard for a year and then put the project behind us rather than pace the job and give a 'thing' my energy for two years or longer. Again I will stress we gave more money to have less time in the planning, but I'm so grateful that one year after the above photo was taken I am writing to you from our finished home. We LIVE in here now, and our energy goes to what we are doing with our children, how we are welcoming and loving our neighbors, and how we can share this space with others. We sprinted throughout the process, making decisions in a hurry, agonizing over some things but with most other things we kept a 'how much time is this decision worth, really?' attitude and put our minds at peace with making some choices fairly quickly.
In the end I have few regrets. There are a couple of spaces I should have agonized over more. And there are a few finish selections I am seeing were chosen a bit hastily…but I'm at peace with our overall project. I'm thankful we had the year of sprinting and thankful for the months we have enjoyed here at the Homestead, living. I look forward to learning more about how to live a happy contented life here. I look forward to learning how to make the homestead land beautiful and productive. I am happy I'm looking forward and not really looking back at what we could have done or should have done differently as we built.
|The back of the property held a shed that was full of coal from many years back. It went down with the demolition.|
|The pathway that led from the old home to the back yard was my favorite little walk to take with our little girls. This is where we thought we entered our 'secret garden'. We found quail and squirrels back here, and lots of thorny bushes too!|
Next week I'll share several of the photos of the demolition of the pioneer house and the story of the fireplace. That story is a good one, you'll want to come back to hear it.
Thursday, January 02, 2014
I have dozens of pics on my phone of Bryn and Madi being funny
sometimes they let me be in the pics...
Dear Bryn and Madi,
When I was growing up I wanted to be an awesome mom. Being a teenager was hard, even for me, and I thought I would be one of those moms who was adored by her teenage daughters because she would UNDERSTAND them.
When you were little you used to hug on my legs and tell me you wanted to be a mom when you grew up. I told you how much I love you. I loved being adored by you. I felt such a great responsibility to show you what it means to be a great person, a good woman and an awesome mom.
So I guarded you from music with lyrics that taught you things you weren't old enough to know about. And I set a standard that when school was in the TV was off…I tried to make you healthy meals and pack healthy lunches so you wouldn't develop cravings for foods that would steal your health and rob you of the active life I wished for you. I read to you, I read story after story with moral lessons to help you see that as you grow older you will have to stand up for yourself and your beliefs. We read scriptures, said nightly prayers and I tried and tried to be there when you needed me.
There have been times as you've grown that you have had to be there for me. You've tended your younger sisters and brother, learned how to clean a house and even have taken over packing your own lunches. You've stepped in where I could not, and helped those smaller than you so I could help them (and you) in other ways.
I appreciate all you have done, and all you continue to do to give back to the way our family runs.
A month or so ago you each gave a talk in church. You mentioned your family and your parents. Dad and I were so surprised to hear your words of support for the feeling we are trying to create and the things we are trying to teach in our family. I was so touched. Thank you for publicly stating that you see some good in our efforts and philosophy about what it means to raise a family in the world we live in today.
Its a muddled time for us; for you as the daughters and me as the mom. I watch as you close yourselves to my affection.not only do you not hug on my legs any more, but you push away hugs I try to give you. I see the rolled eyes when I ask you to do those things you know you need to but just don't want to do. You tell me in many ways that you are ready for me to step back and watch you go - and you communicate in so many ways that when you go and go my job is not to coach nor is it to critique, its to support and smile and let you do your own thing. And when life hits you with one lesson or another, and especially when those lessons are hard to learn and humbling to experience I need to hug and hold but never EVER add to the lesson that's going on within your own head.
Its muddled right now because I so deeply desire to impress upon you how much your examples LEAD the ATTITUDES of the children who come so quickly after you. Your 'I don't want to' or 'why do we have to?' attitude rubs off like slick black oil onto young minds and hearts, making it hard for the 'can do' attitude you used to have to stick to their little minds. I need you to continue to be the help you've been but not so much in holding little ones or changing diapers like in years past, now I need a 'yes mom' and an 'ok' when its time to clean up or come to scriptures…I just need a willing attitude; more now than I think I ever needed a willing dish washer or babysitter. You have more influence in our home than you could ever know. The music you blast now, the shows you sneak during the school week and the outfits you put together in front of the mirror scream a message louder than the books I read to the little ones or the tunes I play while driving them to school. The way you approach your snacks and lunch making scream messages to those little ones who make their lunches after you and carry them off to the elementary school.
So often I'm proud of the things you are saying with your attitudes and choices, I just don't think you realize how loudly you are saying them and to who.
As time goes on you'll continue to grow. You'll become amazing women and someday amazing mothers. And, in the jolt of a moment as you walk from being a kid into being an adult, things won't be so muddled for us any more. You'll 'get me' and I'll 'get you' because we will have not given up on each other. We will all emerge from these teen years and love one another better and know one another more.
Thanks for being patient with me. I hope I'm being patient with you. Even more, I hope you know that I'm not giving up on my greatest desire; to be a great mom to you. I'll continue to guard your music, blare out our standards and tow the line when it comes to our beliefs because I know it matters. Because I love you fiercely I'll fiercely defend what I know is right, and I'll expect you to understand and respect it. Because I'm devoted to you I'll stay devoted to good books, good music and good media. Because you matter so much to me, not just as a teen but as an adult too, I'll be sure that you know our first priority is that you be honest good citizens and that you know and can chose for yourselves to follow the beliefs we know to be true. Because I adore you I'll try so hard to have fun with you, even though it sometimes embarrasses you.
I'm so glad you belong to me. I'm so glad for all I'm learning from you and all I see happening in your amazing lives. I'm so thankful every single day that I get to be your mom. You mean everything to me. I promise I am giving everything I am and everything I have through these muddled teenage years with you -
with all my love,
Wednesday, January 01, 2014
Its a new year. 2013 was such a good year for our family…and very very little of our blessed experiences are documented here.
Its time for that to change.
I began blogging to write down the experiences of bringing home an adopted child. That child, delivered from an orphanage in Vietnam at 4 months old, is now anticipating her 8th birthday. That's a lot of years of blogging, with few gaps if any in blogging our life as a family.
I continued blogging because I fell in love with the chance to understand my own mothering and to share my experiences with my children. I wanted them to see in real time (and in times to come) that I was well meaning in the how and what of my parenting. And I wanted them to see that I can see God in our family's experiences. I wanted them to know that being a parent is a hard job, and that it deserves our greatest efforts. I wanted them to see that I am giving them everything I have and then asking for help from Heaven to give them everything they need.
And then, somehow, in 2013 I got to busy to blog. Some reasons for my hiatus were enjoying the last year of having all my children 'in my nest' and managing the experience of building a new nest for our family from the ground up (literally). Meetings for the house mixed with chances to see our kids in action took more than the time I had in the day - there were only so many minutes and none of them were available to write down what we were living.
So blogging fell out of habit.
Now we live in the house we built.
Now our oldest has 'flown from the nest', serving a mission for our church in Houston Texas.
Now its time to blog again.
I'm excited to step forward. With the start of a new year I can recommit to my good blogging habits. I hope to share again with my children and whomever else decides to visit here that I love my work and my role in their lives and that I'm passionate about what I'm doing to guide them in who they're becoming.
I hope I can pepper this year's posts with some of last year's experiences. While many used to read my thoughts each day I don't expect anyone to read here any more. But I do hope this record will be a blessing to my family in years to come. And I anticipate that as I process my thoughts and feelings and record them for my family it will be a blessing to me, too.