Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday ~ A Love Letter To Myself

Those of you who FLY may have already seen this, but I thought it was worth sharing.

Here is an email I got from this week:

This week's Style Mission should you choose to accept it is: Showing
yourself some love!

How? By writing a "love" letter to yourself! Don't we all need a hug
every now and then - and who better to give it than YOU?

Make a list of what you love about yourself. Instead of beating yourself
up about your perceived imperfections- let's turn the tables and look
ourselves in mirror and write down the GOOD things!

Appreciate your curves, your nose, your natural hair color, your
forearms or even your delicate hands or fingernails. Doesn't matter what
you love just be sure to list them. Maybe others have commented on your
pretty eyes? Write that down too!

Of course our insides are pretty good (strong virtues, morals, kindness
to others, etc). However this exercise is to concentrate on your outer
parts and when done, will lead to an improved self-image.

Keep your "love letter" about your best parts in your "style file" to
refer to when you need a pat on the back!


Leslie MSP


Dear Sunny,

I'm writing you this letter because I think you are way hard on yourself and I just love you. I thought you ought to know.

I hear you say--way too often--how fat and ugly you are. How disgusted you are with yourself. How you've let yourself down.

Do you really not see how beautiful you are?

You are always smiling, and your smile reaches your eyes. I love how your eyes sparkle when you smile. Never mind those little wrinkles or crinkles that are showing up in the corners of your eyes--they don't make you look old, they make you look happy. And you are beautiful when you're happy.

I know you wish your body looked different. But you know? It's okay. You are still beautiful. Look at David, he still wants you. Why can you not want yourself? You're worth it, you know. Worth your own love. So many others offer it to you freely--we all just wish you could love yourself like we love you.

It doesn't really matter if you've got more fat on you than you ought to have. It doesn't change the things that are beautiful about you.

Your smile, your eyes, your hair which when you do it sleek and straight is silky soft and shines in the sun. 

You are a pretty girl, and your spirit is beautiful. When you let all that yucky stuff fall by the wayside, your spirit gets a chance to shine through and that's when you truly glow. 

I just wish you could let the happiness that lives inside of you shine more for others to see. If you did, no one would even notice the extra weight you're carrying--they'll only see a girl with a smile that reaches her eyes, a girl who's sincere and kind, and they will like you. 

I like you. Scratch that. I love you.

Won't you love yourself too?

Big hugs, 

So, if you were to write a love letter to yourself, looking at the physical things about you, as Miss Smarty Pants recommends, what would you say?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Book Review ~ Peeps by Scot Westerfeld

  rating: 3 of 5 stars
I love Scot Westerfeld's books. A twist on the age-old vampire story, Peeps didn't thrill me quite as much as others of his books that I've read. 

I think the thing that I disliked most, was that the story itself was really short - not a lot of meat to it. Every other chapter was a biology lesson of sorts on parasites. So, you only got the storyline  every other chapter.

But the main character's voice was really strong and likable, so it was still an enjoyable book.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Book Review ~ The Brass Dragon Codex

I am a huge fan of Anne McCaffrey and her Harper Hall Trilogy, so I've pretty much avoided all other dragon books--I mean, who could compete with her?

So that's my excuse why I haven't previously read any of R.D. Henham's Dragon books (The Dragon Codices.)

But, I had the opportunity to read The Brass Dragon Codex, and I now feel suitably repentant as to say, this was a darn good book and I will happily read the others and any new books Henham cooks up.

The Brass Dragon Codex tells the story of a lonely and talkative Brass Dragon who befriends a rather egocentric gnome. The unlikely pair turn out to be good for each other though and they both learn a lot from their friendship.

There is a subtle moral to the story: To have good friends, you must first BE a good friend.

My eight year old son snagged this book from me and finished it before I did. He said he loved it, and he's an astute reader. I believed him that it was good--but I have to add my hearty hurrah to his. The Brass Dragon Codex is a truly enjoyable book. It was a fast and friendly read, enjoyable for both me and my son.

If you love dragons as much as I do, love a good story with the thrill of adventure, then you'll love R.D. Henham's Brass Dragon Codex. 

You can click here to buy it from


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday ~ Find Your Joy

What is it that truly brings you joy?

True joy is not found at the store, in a brand new wardrobe, in great sex, in limitless power. True joy comes in unlimited supply--where do you find yours?

Look to your family. If you open your heart to them, you will find they are a constant source of wonder, love, and yes, joy.

Look to service. If you open your heart to others and give of yourself, you will find your own heart filled to overflowing and you will have joy.

Know where you can turn for your unlimited supply of joy. Make sure that it is a true renewable resource, because in the days ahead you will need to be able to turn to that supply again and again in order to face what is to come in your life.

Remember, being joyful does not necessarily mean you are free from the cares of the world. Rather it is a sense of satisfaction that radiates through all you think and feel making everything more bearable. Joy can fill your heart, grant you peace, help you see the good in the world around you.

I find my joy in my children. Sometimes, just to let go of my inner inhibitions and laugh with them, laugh and laugh until we barely remember what we are laughing about--that's true joy for me. Or the hug that lasts over long and you have the sensation that it might be your last, because tomorrow this boy might no longer think it's cool to hug his mom. Or the moment you see your child stand up for the rights of another and you know they have been listening to you all along.

I find joy in my God. I screw up on a daily basis, some days worse than others. What a relief it is for me to fall onto my knees at the end of the day and know that not only does He know me better than I even know myself, He still loves me. With His help, I can right my wrongs, turn my weaknesses into strengths, and find joy where once there was sorrow.

I find joy in being true to myself. As I'm discovering more and more about myself, it is wonderful to know that I can finally--sometimes--accept me for me and simply, well, be. There is real peace and joy in that for me.

So look at your world, look at your heart. Where do you find joy?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Book Review ~ Lemon Tart by Josi Kilpack

I loved Josi Kilpack's Lemon Tart. It was a fun and fast read, totally enjoyable from start to finish.

Kilpack managed to bring to life a whole cast of colorful characters and even while the main character was a goody-two-shoes busybody, she managed to make me really like her and route for her the whole way. I'm excited there's a new culinary mystery in the works featuring Sadie Hoffmiller, because she's just awesome.

Lemon Tart tells the story of a murdered young mother, a missing baby, an adulterous man, a pair of completely opposite detectives and Sadie Hoffmiller, the neighborhood's resident baker AND busybody. With so many balls up in the air, I wondered how Kilpack was going to put it all back together again, but she did and it was amazing.

The only reason why I didn't give the book five stars is because it was a LIGHT read. I reserve my fifth star for those books that really make me THINK and change me somehow. But sometimes, you just need a great book that you can sit down with and not worry about it churning up your soul, ya know?

Lemon Tart is just such a book. Grab a blankie, curl up by the fire and crack open Lemon Tart for an evening of fun and relaxation. And don't forget your favorite treat! Lemon Tart will have you drooling and maybe throwing off your blankie so you can go bake up one of it's handful of included recipes. They sound delish!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I Love . . . Love

What would this world be, truly, without love?

Friday, February 13, 2009

I Love . . . Laughter

I don't laugh nearly enough, but man, when I do? What a sight.

I like the kind of laughter that makes you have to cross your legs, and, like a sneeze, you can't keep your eyes open. Fluid leaks out of all sorts of places ;) You snort. You try to breathe, only to have another wave of laughter crash over you again.

The last time I really laughed like that was when my sister and I met in New York City for a four day vacation. We had never done anything like that before and with both of us being rather serious, neither of us knew what to expect. 

Who knew we'd barely want to leave our tiny dingy hotel room because the entertainment within it's walls was better than anything New York had to offer!

My husband can sometimes make me laugh like that. Well, not quite, but it'll do.

Last week I went into our bedroom to fold some laundry and found my hubby tucked under the sheets having a 'nap'. Uh huh.

The way he had the blankets pulled up to his neck made me suspicious, so I peeked under the covers. There I found a slinky lingerie and a note that said, 

"Slip this on and then snuggle up to me. Let's see what happens."

Well, I laughed. Laughed and laughed and laughed. 

But, really? How could I turn him down after that? Laughter is the finest form of foreplay, in my book.

My sister says that I regularly deny my true nature. She says I take after my mom who was silly at her best. And it's true, when I let my expectations go and allow myself to just BE, what I find is that I'm just as silly as my mom. 

I love to dance around and sing silly songs in my silliest voice.

I love to tickle. (But don't you dare tickle me!)

I love, love, love to laugh. 

In my opinion, laughter truly is the best medicine. The trick is to prescribe hearty doses for yourself each and every day. You can't take too much of this stuff.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday ~ I Love . . . Friends

"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words."

This quote is perhaps my favorite of all time. It expresses, so simply, what I believe to be true about good friends, true friends. 

One time I heard a psychiatrist say that friends made online were not true friends. That people who made such friends were loners, afraid or incapable of making friends in the real world. 

Well, in my humble opinion, that is just hogwash.

I have a couple of online groups of friends.

There are the twin moms, some of whom I've been friends with since before I conceived my boys. We met in an IVF chat room, and went on to share the ups and downs of twin mommyhood in a twin mommy group. I've been friends with these women for close to nine years. I've met many of them in person. I've spoken to many on the phone. They have been there for me when I needed them in the way that really matters--they cared, they were there, they loved me.

There are the writer friends who support my nearest and dearest dreams. They've read my work and taken the time to help me grow as a writer. I've also met many of them in person, and started a critique group with some of them. 

And I do, too, have friends in real life, but, they don't negate the need that these other groups of friends fill for me. Real life is so demanding, hectic, harried. It's becoming increasingly difficult to maintain fulfilling friendships outside of the box on my desk. 

While I am deeply grateful for my real life friends--because laughter only really happens with them, the good belly-laugh kind of laugh and not the LOL kind of mental laughter that happens online--I am equally grateful for my online friends. 

My online friends have the ability to fit between the cracks of my life. They are 'there' for me any time of day, wherever I am. 

Personally, I think online friendships have helped me to be a better friend to my real life friends, have helped me to learn more about myself and to grow as a human being.

What do you think? Are online friendships just as important or meaningful as real life ones?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I Love . . . Being

I'm going off of my list here. I've realized over the last several days of love posts that all of my loves seem to have a theme. I love most those things that have come at a price. 

The more I struggled, the more I appreciated the love I received. 

I am so thankful for the love I have in my life. For the freedom I enjoy. For my life. For being.

When I was a little girl I saw new and different worlds all around me. The ice crystals that formed in the canal housed tiny crystalline beings. The clouds held angels that sang and danced among their steppes and gullies. Those worlds filled me with wonder.

But the truth is, it is this life that holds wonder beyond my imaginings. Life is precious. Life is vibrant and real and full of possibilities. Just the act of dreaming can fill me with such hope and amazement. 

Life is all around us. It is in the stars that brighten a dark night, in the shimmers of sunlight on a puddle on the sidewalk. It is in the laughter of our children and the gentle touch of a lover. Life vibrates and hums all around us, in us, through us.

What a wonderful gift . . . to be.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I Love . . . Music

When I was in middle and high school, I was known as the girl who could sing.

On field trips, the kids would ask me to sing--they would crowd around my bus bench and listen while I sang to them. Funny thing is, I didn't sing Gloria Estefan or Sheena Easton music. Not even Pat Benatar. I sang the oldies, like Unchained Melody and Somewhere Over The Rainbow. 

People would ask me to sing on the bleachers watching football practice, on the walk home from school, in the cafeteria. It was my thing.

I used to sing to my mom, too. 

When she lay dying, she would very often ask me to sing to her. Or she wouldn't, and singing was the only thing I could do for her. One day, in a brief moment of lucidity she told me to never let my music go. So after she died, I auditioned for, and was accepted into the music program at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

Except, into my second year at the school, my vocal performance professor told me I had absolutely no talent and I should quit singing altogether.

And, despite all the evidence to the contrary, I believed her. And I quit.

I didn't sing at all after that. Not in the shower, not around my apartment, not even the hymns at church. After all, I couldn't sing.

It was not until several years later when I found myself regularly driving by the Opera House in Boise, Idaho that I began to suspect that professor had been wrong. There was a sign advertising an open call for chorus auditions for the opera company, and a little insistent voice in the back of my mind kept noodling at me to go for it.

When I mentioned it to David, he of course strongly encouraged me to go for it, because he had long disagreed with the professor who had dashed my dreams.

As fate would have it, I not only was accepted into the chorus, but I went on to study with the principle voice coach with the opera company and I eventually held principle roles at the company.

After one particularly powerful performance, I had a crowd of audience members waiting to greet me. One woman had tears streaming down her face and she took my hand in hers.
"You have the voice of an angel," she told me. "Thank you, for singing." I struggled to hold my own tears back as I threw my arms around her. 

"Thank you," I said. And what I meant, but I'm sure she couldn't have known, was, "Thank you for listening, for hearing me. Thank you for loving what I do. Thank you." 

When I stood on a stage, the music swelling around me, I felt like I held my heart in my hands and held it out, trembling, for the whole audience to see. But as the music carried me away, I let it carry my heart to the rafters, beyond, I let the music carry me

I have never felt so free, so completely alive, so utterly me, as when I have stood on a stage, offering my heart and soul in the music I sang. 

Music is God's gift to us. It lifts us, frees us. It allows us to connect to emotions that are too painful, too precious, to be easily accessible otherwise. Music is a prayer, a wish. Music is love.

Monday, February 09, 2009

I Love . . . Heather

My sister and I have had a roller-coaster relationship.

When I was first born, I was like the cupie-doll prize you won at the fair. I was exactly what Heather had hoped and wished for--a little doll she could dress up and care for, love and cherish. Something that could be hers in this house full of boys.

Except I was more boy than girl, I didn't like to wear dresses, preferring instead the matchbook cars my brothers brought me to my sisters' barbie dolls.

And then we swung the other way when I adored and worshipped all things Heather (who was eight years older than me and a very cool teenager when I was old enough to realize that that was, well, very cool) and would go into her room without permission, would follow her around everywhere, eavesdrop on her phone conversations and just generally pester her to death.

When I was about twelve years old, and Heather twenty, I told her that I f-in hated her sometimes. And she went told our mother on me. 

That was pretty much the end of that.

I couldn't trust her. She couldn't trust me. We agreed, without so much as saying so, that we hated each other.

Until my mom came down with dying and suddenly our world collapsed in on itself and we found ourselves folded up together with no escape. 

Heather realized a little of the hell I'd been living in the last four years when she had judged me as purely a selfish brat of a teenager. When in fact, I was simply into survival.

When Mom's dying became a reality and not just a hypothetical, Heather and I found ourselves doing a daily intricate dance in which our roles soon became rote and we were able to fill them as well as any Ginger Rogers or Lucille Bremer.

Where I was weak, she was strong.

Where she was weak, I was strong.

And it turned out that not only was I the little sister my sister had always dreamed of, she was the big sister I had always wanted.

What grew out of that terrible time, was not only a sisterhood, but a friendship that has been forged in sorrow but strengthend by the simple passage of time. 

Heather is my bulwark against the storm. She is my lighthouse in a turbulent sea. She loves me in spite of me. She loves me because I am me.

She is . . . my friend.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

I Love . . . Writing & Reading

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In those days said Hiawatha,
"Lo! how all things fade and perish!
From the memory of the old men
Pass away the great traditions,
The achievements of the warriors,
The adventures of the hunters,
All the wisdom of the Medas,
All the craft of the Wabenos,
All the marvellous dreams and visions
Of the Jossakeeds, the Prophets!
"Great men die and are forgotten,
Wise men speak; their words of wisdom
Perish in the ears that hear them,
Do not reach the generations
That, as yet unborn, are waiting
In the great, mysterious darkness
Of the speechless days that shall be!
"On the grave-posts of our fathers
Are no signs, no figures painted;
Who are in those graves we know not,
Only know they are our fathers.
Of what kith they are and kindred,
From what old, ancestral Totem,
Be it Eagle, Bear, or Beaver,
They descended, this we know not,
Only know they are our fathers.
"Face to face we speak together,
But we cannot speak when absent,
Cannot send our voices from us
To the friends that dwell afar off;
Cannot send a secret message,
But the bearer learns our secret,
May pervert it, may betray it,
May reveal it unto others."
Thus said Hiawatha, walking
In the solitary forest,
Pondering, musing in the forest,
On the welfare of his people.
From his pouch he took his colors,
Took his paints of different colors,
On the smooth bark of a birch-tree
Painted many shapes and figures,
Wonderful and mystic figures,
And each figure had a meaning,
Each some word or thought suggested.
Gitche Manito the Mighty,
He, the Master of Life, was painted
As an egg, with points projecting
To the four winds of the heavens.
Everywhere is the Great Spirit,
Was the meaning of this symbol.
Gitche Manito the Mighty,
He the dreadful Spirit of Evil,
As a serpent was depicted,
As Kenabeek, the great serpent.
Very crafty, very cunning,
Is the creeping Spirit of Evil,
Was the meaning of this symbol.
Life and Death he drew as circles,
Life was white, but Death was darkened;
Sun and moon and stars he painted,
Man and beast, and fish and reptile,
Forests, mountains, lakes, and rivers.
For the earth he drew a straight line,
For the sky a bow above it;
White the space between for daytime,
Filled with little stars for night-time;
On the left a point for sunrise,
On the right a point for sunset,
On the top a point for noontide,
And for rain and cloudy weather
Waving lines descending from it.

Footprints pointing towards a wigwam
Were a sign of invitation,
Were a sign of guests assembling;
Bloody hands with palms uplifted
Were a symbol of destruction,
Were a hostile sign and symbol.
All these things did Hiawatha
Show unto his wondering people,
And interpreted their meaning,
And he said: "Behold, your grave-posts
Have no mark, no sign, nor symbol,
Go and paint them all with figures;
Each one with its household symbol,
With its own ancestral Totem;
So that those who follow after
May distinguish them and know them."
And they painted on the grave-posts
On the graves yet unforgotten,
Each his own ancestral Totem,
Each the symbol of his household;
Figures of the Bear and Reindeer,
Of the Turtle, Crane, and Beaver,
Each inverted as a token
That the owner was departed,
That the chief who bore the symbol
Lay beneath in dust and ashes.
And the Jossakeeds, the Prophets,
The Wabenos, the Magicians,
And the Medicine-men, the Medas,
Painted upon bark and deer-skin
Figures for the songs they chanted,
For each song a separate symbol,
Figures mystical and awful,
Figures strange and brightly colored;
And each figure had its meaning,
Each some magic song suggested.
The Great Spirit, the Creator,
Flashing light through all the heaven;
The Great Serpent, the Kenabeek,
With his bloody crest erected,
Creeping, looking into heaven;
In the sky the sun, that listens,
And the moon eclipsed and dying;
Owl and eagle, crane and hen-hawk,
And the cormorant, bird of magic;
Headless men, that walk the heavens,
Bodies lying pierced with arrows,
Bloody hands of death uplifted,
Flags on graves, and great war-captains
Grasping both the earth and heaven!
Such as these the shapes they painted
On the birch-bark and the deer-skin;
Songs of war and songs of hunting,
Songs of medicine and of magic,
All were written in these figures,
For each figure had its meaning,
Each its separate song recorded.
Nor forgotten was the Love-Song,
The most subtle of all medicines,
The most potent spell of magic,
Dangerous more than war or hunting!
Thus the Love-Song was recorded,
Symbol and interpretation.
First a human figure standing,
Painted in the brightest scarlet;
`T Is the lover, the musician,
And the meaning is, "My painting
Makes me powerful over others."
Then the figure seated, singing,
Playing on a drum of magic,
And the interpretation, "Listen!
`T Is my voice you hear, my singing!"
Then the same red figure seated
In the shelter of a wigwam,
And the meaning of the symbol,
"I will come and sit beside you
In the mystery of my passion!"
Then two figures, man and woman,
Standing hand in hand together
With their hands so clasped together
That they seemed in one united,
And the words thus represented
Are, "I see your heart within you,
And your cheeks are red with blushes!"
Next the maiden on an island,
In the centre of an Island;
And the song this shape suggested
Was, "Though you were at a distance,
Were upon some far-off island,
Such the spell I cast upon you,
Such the magic power of passion,
I could straightway draw you to me!"
Then the figure of the maiden
Sleeping, and the lover near her,
Whispering to her in her slumbers,
Saying, "Though you were far from me
In the land of Sleep and Silence,
Still the voice of love would reach you!"
And the last of all the figures
Was a heart within a circle,
Drawn within a magic circle;
And the image had this meaning:
"Naked lies your heart before me,
To your naked heart I whisper!"
Thus it was that Hiawatha,
In his wisdom, taught the people
All the mysteries of painting,
All the art of Picture-Writing,
On the smooth bark of the birch-tree,
On the white skin of the reindeer,
On the grave-posts of the village.

Friday, February 06, 2009

I Love . . . Charlie

Yeah, I realize that almost all my 'love-you's' are people, and that that's not so interesting, perhaps, to everyone else, but, it's what I love--the people in my life.

When I became pregnant with twins, it was a miracle. And then when I carried them to 35 weeks, that was an even greater miracle. 

The whole time they were in my belly, Baby B moved around regularly, busily kicking and bouncing from side to side. It was easy to find his heartbeat on the monitor, it was easy to feel connected to him. 

Baby A, however, found his spot in my tummy and stayed there, only moving his little hands and feet, but never changing his position, for at least two months. It was difficult to find his heartbeat on the monitor and because he rarely moved, I rarely felt him, rarely knew he was even there except for the pressure his head caused as it was pressed against my cervix for two-plus months.

Even though his Apgar score was 9:9 (excellent), it was standard procedure for twins to be rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for observation. His brother, Baby B, had much lower Apgar scores, so from the beginning I worried more for Baby B.

After a brief introduction to them, both babies were whisked away, and much to my surprise, it was Baby B who was brought to my room later that day. Baby A, it turned out, was having difficulty breathing on his own and was now ensconced in an isolette in the NICU.

Baby B was doing so well, he was allowed to room-in with me and we bonded instantly. Baby A, remained a mystery to me.

Baby A was not brought to me at all in my room. He was connected to too many monitors and tubes to be moved. I was not able to just pop down to see him whenever I wanted because I needed to be wheeled in a chair. 

I couldn't see him. Or, I didn't want to see him.

I let everyone believe it was the former, but in truth, it was in large part the latter that I did not see Baby A for three days.

When I did finally go see him, he was a stranger to me. He was nearly naked, so tiny and scrawny, his little hat pulled down over his eyes, so many tubes and wires strung around him like a mutant child that had grown strange spider legs. I didn't really want to hold him, but after some convincing by an angel, I did. 

Once I had overcome that first fear, that early resistance to this child I didn't know, I embraced him and had a hard time letting him go when it was time to go to my room. My husband gave him a blessing and it came to us that his name should be called Charles. He had a name now. No longer a stranger, he belonged to me.

But a day later, Baby B and I were released. Because we could not take a well-baby into the NICU with us, for a week afterward I was only able to see Charlie once a day. Meanwhile, Baby B (who still didn't have a name) were bonding and growing in love for one another. 

When it came time to pick Charlie up from the hospital, I was hesitant and nervous. Once again, he felt like a stranger. We had to learn how to remove and replace the Gavage tube that was his source of nourishment because he could not suckle sufficiently on his own. We had to learn how to do CPR on him in case he stopped breathing. I was terrified I couldn't properly care for him. He was breakable. He was vulnerable. I was not a perfect mother. And I was so afraid I couldn't do it.

It took another angel, this time my sister, to help me reconnect with Charlie. She came from Nova Scotia to help me care for the babies, and happened to arrive just the day before Charlie came home. I had been home for a week carrying for one baby, but I was really afraid of what it would be like once Charlie came home and there were suddenly two.

After that, things got better between me and Charlie, but the truth is, I never felt as connected to him, as I did to Baby B--who we named Alexander and called Xander for short. 

I held this truth in my heart like a dirty secret. No mother should have favorites--we all knew that. And yet, I didn' t feel as natural or as comfortable with Charlie, and I feared what it said about me.
me and charlie at about one month old

As Charlie grew, the distance between us remained. I did everything I could to hide it, to pretend, but I can't kid myself into thinking it wasn't there.

Charlie developed behaviors that only added to the distance between us. He favored his dad. He didn't like to be snuggled by me, and any other number of small little things that compounded the lack of closeness.

I have often prayed for him, and for myself, that we could come to love one another. That the boy inside him could shine. I received many promptings that have helped me bridge the gap between us, but still . . . he was so, so far away.

That is, until this year.

As you know, I've been homeschooling the boys this year. I don't know why or how the changes have happened, but it seems that our love has taken on a Superman persona and has managed to leap over tall buildings in a single bound. There is no distance between us now. I believe he knows that I love him. 

And, with the deepest gratitude, I know that I love him too. 

It has been a long journey for us, but like all battles hard fought, the victory is all the more sweet. Now when I hold him--when he lets me hold him--I cherish the moment, I drink it in. This is my boy. And my love for him has finally been sufficient to fill the chasm between us. 

And miracle of miracles . . . he loves me too.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday ~ I Love . . . My Family

For some people, to say that you love your family is a given, a non-sequitur. But for me, it's a loaded statement full of forgiveness, time, patience, understanding and an abundance of love.

Because I not only love the little family I have created with my husband, but I love the family I grew up in, warts and all. And let me tell you, we had lots of warts.

From the beginning, I was not wanted.

My mom wanted an abortion, but my father wouldn't approve. So she had me anyway.

By the time I was four years old, my dad had left and my mom was stuck with me.

I am the baby by many years. My closest sibling is my sister who is eight years older than me. I have three brothers older than her. I was locked in closets for hours at a time and hung by my feet from a second-story window. All of my barbie dolls met untimely deaths by firecrackers or sledge hammers or motorcycle tires. 

And yet, I love my family.

My mom and I grew into a sort of dynamic duo. Classic co-dependency, I'm sure, but still . . . I loved her. I love her still. 

Many, many years later, the family is at loose ends. There is no father or mother anymore to keep us together. Too many differences in opinion, time and life experiences separate us, like a giant chasm even Evel Knievel would think twice about jumping.

And yet, during a crisis this past Christmas, a few of us came together, to help, to lift, to encourage, to love. Isn't that, after all, what families are for?

My brother knew to whom he could turn when the chips were down--his family. We didn't question that we would be there for him--we just were.

Families come in all shapes and sizes. There is not a one of them that is perfect, despite what we might think, or how they might appear. Every family holds heartache like a trembling bird in their cupped hands. The best of families manage to heal that bird and rejoice when they watch it fly away. The worst of families might have a different sort of image. 

But most families are just fumbling along, doing their best, hanging in. That injured bird? Well, it might be one of them, one of us, and we would never abandon it. We might not know how to help it, but we will try. And we will never forgive ourselves if we fail.

That's what families do. And that counts for something, doesn't it?

What do you think? 

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

I Love . . . Karate!

I've been a little serious, so I thought it was time to mix things up. On the count of three-- ready?

Now, breathe in, one, two, three . . .

Then breathe out, one, two, three.

There, feel better now? I know I do!

But the truth is, I truly love karate.

It takes me out of my comfort zone each and every time. It pushes me beyond what I think I can do. It empowers me.

All that and kick-butt workout, too. Literally and figuratively, lol.

When I was around nine years old, I took Judo for a while. It was so hard that naturally, I wanted to quit. My mom, a single, older mom, naturally let me quit. She was far beyond arguing with me over activities I didn't want to do. 

"It's your life," she'd say to me whenever I wanted to do something she didn't approve of. Including quitting dance, piano, girl guides, and yes, even skipping school. 

As a grown up, I've had to work hard to undo this life lesson that my mom taught--that you could quit whenever the going got tough. Because, of course you and I know as adults, that you can't sluff the hard stuff. 

Karate represents this un-learning that I am doing. Every time I show up in my GI, I've won. I'm a winner every single time.

But if I work hard, kick a little higher, ki-ai a little louder, or remember my form, then I've won again. So the whole class is a series of challenges and each time I have the opportunity to be a winner. I come out on top, each and every time.

What's not to love about that?


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

I Love . . . Sam

Before David and I were ever married, we each had dreams in which we saw our future family. Now, you may or may not believe such a thing is possible, but when we compared notes and discovered they were exactly the same, we became convinced that the dream in fact represented the children that would come to us. 

There were five of them. A boy first, separated somehow. By his age certainly, because he seemed to be about five years older than the rest of the children; but also by something else that we couldn't identify. He was beautiful and charming. A wonderful boy.

Then there were two boys, very close in age.

Then a girl and then, another girl who we've kind of always referred to as an 'optional' girl. We felt perhaps we might adopt her or something, somehow, she was a choice.

We had intended to wait to have our children, but when the prompting came to begin, we began in earnest. What followed was a heart wrenching five years during which we miscarried four times.

And then one day on a long drive, we felt it. A strong and unmistakable impression that the son we had been waiting for had been born.

So we began our search for our boy.

Finally, nearly four years later, we found him.


He was three and a half years old and had been living in foster care his whole life. He was absolutely and unmistakably our son and we felt so blessed.

Sam came to live with us and a year later our adoption was final and we were sealed in the temple. Now we would be together, a family, forever.

Sam was not in real life, as we had felt he would be.

He was beautiful and charming, to be sure. But he was also broken, bruised and forever changed on the inside. 

We couldn't save him.

We had all the love in the world for this boy and yet, it was not enough.

When Sam did something that we couldn't protect him from; when the State stepped in and forced our hand to make a choice, we chose. Many people believe we made the wrong choice. Perhaps we did.

But I can tell you that the choice we made was out of love for Sam. We love him. I love him. I wanted him to have the chance to grow up in a family, with a mother who could love him, who had experience raising up boys with similar problems as Sam. My other option was to place him in a nearby institution where he would be raised with other boys like himself and with
 medications to subdue his more violent tendencies.

We chose a family for him. But in doing so, we have lost him forever. He lives somewhere else now, far from us. We never see him, nor speak to him. It's been five years. He has another family now, a mother who loves him, brothers and sisters who 'get' him and, I hope, love him.

Beside my bed I keep a little box--a Chinese dream box. You are supposed to write down your dreams, put them in them in the box and they will come true. 

When Sam was a little boy he found a rock in the shape of a heart. He gave it to me. It is that rock that I keep in my dream box.

My hope is that one day, Sam's heart will soften and will no longer be made of stone.

There is not a day that goes by that I don't feel love for Sam. He is, and forever will be, my boy. And I love him.

Monday, February 02, 2009

I Love . . . My Husband

I am constantly amazed at the man who is my husband.

I am amazed that he is my husband. That he chose me, that he loves me, that he loves me still, despite everything. 

Sometimes when he says he loves me, I'll ask "Even though?" He always smiles, kisses me a little longer, a little deeper and replies, "Even though."

David is kind, generous, sympathetic and caring. He truly cares about other people and worries over their well being. He always assumes the best of people, including me.

David is tender, loving and romantic. On my birthdays he always comes up with a theme and spoils me rotten. Not only with gifts but with his time and attention. 

My man is quiet and unassuming, but he is the greatest friend to have on your side. The most tender sweetheart and attentive lover. 

Sunday, February 01, 2009

I Love . . . My Savior

He found me when I was lost.

He is always there for me.

He forgave me when I sinned.

He forgives me still.

He comforted me when I was sorrowing.

His comfort still enwraps me.

He blessed me.

He blesses me still.

He rejoiced with me.

His joy is my rejoicing.

I love my Savior.

And He loves me.