Sunday, May 25, 2008

Iris Green McCleary

Kaylene called last night to share with us that her mom, Iris had passed away.
Iris was like a Grandma to me. I have so many memories of her and Ken. 
- Having malts at their house on my birthday
- Staying with them while my parents were out of town
- When I was about 4, Iris and Kaylene took me to have my picture taken - and we gave the picture to my Mom for Mother's day (at least that is how I remember it.)
- I believe she is the one who told me that my Grandpa Rhees had passed away because were were with her when he died.
- I sat with her at church the day my brother had his mission farewell because I didn't want to choose sides with my relatives. . .
- Ken was driving the first boat I remember riding in. 
- Iris took me with her to see Grandma Green. Grandma Green gave me a beautiful doll.
- One night the electricity went out at our house. Our parents were gone. Ken and Iris came over to check on us. I remember them telling us to NOT light any candles. They knew my siblings well.
- They took me and Jenni with their family to a cabin up the canyon. The cabin had a fancy outhouse. 
- Iris was there the day I was confirmed and given the gift of the Holy Ghost. Ken and Bryan stood in the circle.
- Iris and Ken invited me to dinner while I was at college. It was nice to have them around when my parents lived across the country.
- The first time I saw the temple square lights was with Iris and Ken. 
- Iris and Ken shared their incredible vegetable garden with us on numerous occasions.
- Iris went with me wedding dress shopping.
- Iris made my first temple dress. It fit me perfectly. She also made me a matching temple packet. I still use it and think of her when I am waiting for the session to begin.
- Iris and Ken were there when I was sealed to Steve in the Salt Lake Temple.
- We lived in their rental house (that was the house I remember in my childhood) when Hannah and Eliza were babies. 

Iris and Ken. Ken and Iris. Thank you for being so much a part of my life. Ken has asked that in lieu of flowers - we do something kind for someone in remembrance of Iris. I will.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Lost Eliza Post

On April 19th, I wrote this post and then couldn't get it to publish. I gave up on it after a few days - but just tried it again and it worked. So a month late. Happy birthday again Eliza!

12 years ago today, I was at home with Hannah. We were making dinner and anticipating a visit from Steve's mom, Kathy who was in Salt Lake for the day.  While Hannah napped - I was watching the coverage of the anniversary of the Oklahoma bombings. As they read the names of the victims -I remember becoming sad and thinking " I'm glad this baby won't be born today."After dinner, Kathy, Hannah and Steve went outside to enjoy the beautiful weather we were having. As I watched them out the kitchen window - I realized that I was feeling really uncomfortable. I kept doing the dishes. Contractions were starting to take my full attention. The phone rang. It was Kathy's sister. She wanted to talk about something - I couldn't keep my mind on the  conversation. I apologized and told her that I thought I was having contractions. She asked when the baby was due. I told her, "in three weeks". She told me not to worry - it was too early. After we hung up - I was worried. I couldn't finish the dishes. And all I could think about was that I wasn't ready.  Steve came in, I called the doctor and we packed a bag. The whole way to the hospital - I kept thinking, "please not today.'But she was born at 10:0 something that night. It snowed pretty hard that night. I spent most of the next morning alone. And Eliza was in intensive care. The doctors didn't know what was wrong. My mom was at the temple.  Steve was home asleep, not aware that her condition had worsened and I felt alone and scared. The two people that I usually turned to were unavailable. So I turned to my Heavenly Father. I cried to him. And I talked to him in a way I never had before. I look back on that day and the first year of Eliza's life with gratitude. The tender mercies that we experienced were small and large. The miracles we witnessed were many. It all seems like it was a million years ago. I didn't want her born on that day. It had been a sad day. But now this day is a joy to remember.Eliza has taught me a lot over the years. And there is so much to love about this incredible girl.
She is totally unique. She has her own sense of style. Her own sense of Humor. And I love her.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Old Mans Cave

Several weeks ago, we had a beautiful day off school - which was nice because our spring break was cold and rainy. . . we drove an hour to Old Mans Cave and enjoyed several hours of hiking around. Incredible scenery:rocks, trees, waterfalls but I think the kids remember most the snails they found by the waterfall. Lots and lots of snails. 

We did have a learning experience on this little trek. After hiking around for about an hour the path just seemed to switch back and lead back to the parking lot where we started. Half the kids wanted to just go home. It seemed like we had walked on all the paths available. But then we saw a trail heading straight up a hill. It was getting pretty hot and the kids weren't sure they wanted to hike up the hill. I wasn't ready to go home. I wanted to see more so I made a declaration that we were going to go to the top. We walked and it got a little steeper. About half way up I took out the only water bottle I had brought so everyone could have a swig. It was gone. One of the girls had had a good drink. So we were thirsty and hot. There was murmuring. But we made it to the top.

We were in the middle of a campground and just a few yards from the path was a drinking fountain. Everyone had as much water as they could drink and we headed down the hill. While coming down the hill - we saw a path that we hadn't noticed. It was the trail that led to the beautiful waterfall and snails. . . 

Later that night, as Grace was getting ready for bed, she said, "I'm really glad that we hiked to the top of the hill even though I didn't want to." I asked her why and she said, "because we found the water fountain and that is what we needed." 

I hope all my children learn that it is often the hard things we do that provide us the things we most need. Someday, I will remind Grace about our hike to the top of the hill and how thirsty she was and the water fountain we found. And I will tell her about Jesus and the everlasting water he provides.  I pray my children will find the fountain and drink.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Song that Almost Destroyed a Family

F-R-E-E that spells free. Credit baby.

Let's just say that two sisters were singing it and one sister was sick of it and now it is stuck in my head.

Where in the World is Steve?

Steve's aromatherapy line is up for an award tonight. Pretty exciting. It is like the academy awards for fragrance. I would rather have a picture of him here - looking handsome in his black suit - but I don't have one - just imagine it.   

Monday, May 5, 2008

The S&J Hair Emporuim

Almost every day after school, Grace gets off the bus and walks to the Williams Home. There she is greeted by Jay and Susan, who welcome her in, ask her about her day, feed her a snack and then Susan does Grace's hair. Grace's teachers and friends at school have no idea how beautiful Grace's hair is from 4 pm until she goes to bed every night. It's a shame more people don't see her after these daily trips to Susan. In fact, on the day of spring pictures we did schedule an early morning visit - so Grace's Hair could look great for the pictures. So on that one day - her braids were as beautiful as her smile during the school day.

So every day Grace comes home with a new hairstyle.

This is one of many that Susan has done. It is so fun to watch Grace skip up to the door with a smile on her face. She always comes home in a good mood. I think the Williams have a special way of reminding her that she is wonderful and loved. . . 
Well one day last week. Grace came into the house especially giggly. She was anxious to show off her newest hairstyle. This is what I saw:
Evidently Susan wasn't home. So Jay did Grace's hair.  Lots of giggling.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Happiness and Joy

There is a difference between happiness and joy. I have studied the latter a lot in the last few years - searching for an understanding of why I don't always have it. After hours of reading and preparing lessons and observing myself and others - this is my definition of JOY: Joy comes to me when my actions and thoughts match my beliefs and the person I really want to be.

For example, I know that TV is not as good for my children as playing games, reading books or just talking and working on a project together. So on the days when the TV babysits my youngest while I get projects done - I don't feel the same joy I feel at the end of a day when the TV was never turned on and we spend time talking while we get things done together. 

As I look back over some low times over the last few years - they always coincide with me getting lazy in making my actions match by beliefs - such as slacking in my prayers or yelling at my children or not wanting to serve others. 

My knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ brings me joy and that should be enough everyday. But I am human. And I am forgetful of my blessings and I get selfish. But now I will be able to recognize my low times for what they really are and be able to ask myself: What am I doing or not doing to be the kind of person I really want to be.

Happiness is more of a moment thing than something that lasts but sometimes those moments add up to joyful days. There are so many things that make me happy:

- happy children walking through the door (in or out)
- phone calls from friends and family
- planning trips (our family doesn't vacation like most - "trip" is a better word to describe what we do)
- clean kitchen
- sunny/ blue skied days 
- more than half my kids liking the dinner I make
- Steven home before 6:30
- a good workout with a great friend
- listening to my children practice their musical instruments. 
- talk radio while I fold laundry (I despise laundry - the radio makes it bearable)

What makes you happy? What brings you joy? "Who do you want to be?" instead of "what do you want to be?"  Things I need to discuss with my children . . .