I remember the first birthday we celebrated together was your 24th! We went shopping together because you did not own a suit and I told you that you needed to start wearing one to church on Sundays.
We had only been dating 1 month and 1 day, but you went along with my preference.
Most of the birthday’s between then and now have been really stressful. Birthdays are just different when your (frequently pregnant) wife/children’s needs come before your wants.
Today, you woke up early with the kids because you agreed to let me shoot an early morning photography session.
Two hours of taking care of the children’s needs while mom was away, was followed by preparing yourself for your senior engineering group project (capstone). You could have met up with your group on Sunday, but your wife said that Sunday was not a good day to spend hours away from home and it was right in the middle of church. Again, you went along with my preference.
I’m so proud of all you have accomplished in the years since that first birthday we celebrated together.
Thank you for being such a great dad.
Thank you for agreeing to make your own birthday dinner – because I’m tired from all that I do.
Wiley started Kindergarten 15 days ago. My in-laws came into town 14 days ago. My husband took his dad on a much needed kayak/camping trip – just the two of them – 13 days ago. I had to finish writing music (the piano music we decided on was written for a piano/viola and I wrote the harmony part I sang) for a duet I sang in church – 12 days ago. The Total Solar Eclipse seen from our backyard – 11 days – also said goodbye to my in-laws. My Aunt came into town from Austin, TX to see the eclipse, and stayed in town to visit with me for a day. My middle child turned 3 years old – 10 days ago. Danny started school. My mother performed in a ballet – took kids down to my parents – had to see the mother perform. Racing home from my visit, to see mom on stage, to teach my Sunday School class….and so on…
All this time I’ve had to let some things slide. A grocery bag of un-openned birthday decorations still sit on my closet shelf.
Tyler, turned three, had the best day of his life. I gave him everything he asked for that day, I didn’t give him everything I planned, I gave him what he asked for and that made him happy. He wanted birthday donuts – no cake. He wanted to watch Youtube videos (supervised by me) during school hours. He wanted a tricycle – which he rides daily around my living room and kitchen – and Tow-Mater/Lightening McQueen cars. Done and done. Time in the sandbox. Play in the tub. Seems kinda like I was a lame mom for his birthday this year, but the birthday boy got everything he asked for, so I’ll call it a win.
Four days after my in-laws returned home to the Houston, Texas area Hurricane Harvey hit.
I have been glued to social media – watching through the eyes of friends – heart sick – as my old neighborhoods, libraries I visited, restaurants I frequented, trails I used to walk – all flooded.
I’ve been uniting in prayer with friends and strangers for the comfort, healing and rebuilding of Houston, Texas. Just as the country united only four or five days earlier to watch the amazing beauty of the solar eclipse, so many people united once again during the chaos and damage that hurt millions “back home.”
My husband asked me if he should take this semester off from school (where he studies civil/environmental engineering in Missouri) to help clean up and restore his home. My husband was born and raised in Houston, Texas. We met in Spring, Texas. Married in the Houston LDS Temple. Lived in our first home two blocks north of the Temple. In his mind, after spending this summer as a storm water management engineering-intern for the City of Columbia, he felt like he could do a lot of good in the after math of Harvey. My response was, “you’re eight months from graduating with a degree – you can do a lot more good when that is completed, when you’re done, you can improve infrastructure not just in Houston, but anywhere in the world.” Right now, it would only increase our financial burden with him not in school and not working.
Husband took this with his phone with a filter.
Husband took this with his phone, no filter.
Husband took with his Nikon
Husband took with his Nikon
Danny will continue to do much good for everyday life as he finishes his degree. He will continue to do much good when he graduates.
‘Great’ Aunt Laura
I’ll do good here in the home.
So, I am continuing to pray for the aid (physical, financial and emotional) of those hurt by Harvey. In all the chaos of my life, I have not forgotten you or the other people suffering in the world.
No matter what is happening in our own lives, God wants us to think about and serve others.
Life can wear you down, just stop and rest a bit, but just don’t quit.
Monday was meet the teacher, which Danny and I took him to. Wednesday I took all three of the kiddos up to the elementary for Wiley to be evaluated. Part of the reason teachers do that is to get that one-on-one time between new pupil and new teacher, building the relationship. It also gives the teacher a baseline for where he is right now in his education. Come parent/teacher night, she’ll be able to show mom and dad some quantitative evidence of his growing knowledge!
Wiley is so intellectually curious, I’m thrilled to have Mrs. S help supplement his education, while I parent the two littles. Wiley is also very social, so now I wont be responsible for entertaining him everyday. Already my sanity is improving.
Back in the spring when I told him about starting school in August, Wiley told me he didn’t want to go to school. I told him he would love it!! All summer we talked about school and I let him pick out his own clothes, backpack, lunchbox – all in effort to get this guy excited about school. Learning is fun, school is fun!!
Last night, I checked and double checked that Wiley’s backpack met the teacher’s checklist (towel for nap time, spare clothes for potty accidents)…
Kindergarten today – it was an early start 5:50 for mom, 6am for baby girl who heard mommy and Tyler soon followed. Wiley finally surfaced around 6:30.
Lunch was made, mommy got Wiley to eat something for breakfast while he stared blankly from his perch on the couch.
Wiley – “I’m not going to school if you don’t let me watch the show I want.”
Mom – “I’m sorry buddy, no TV before school, but would you like some chocolate milk to drink?”
Wiley – enthusiastic nodding
I had all four of us (mom, three kids under five years) dressed and in the car by 7:18am.
The car drop-off line was a tad hectic, but I knew it was just first day of school issues.
Kindergarten parents have the luxury (on day 1) of parking right in front of the office and walking their kids into their classroom. With overcast skies and cooler temperatures, I felt very comfortable leaving my two littles in their carseats for the 8 minute round trip walk to Wiley’s class.
With less gusto in his walk than yesterday, Wiley held my hand into Mrs. S’s room. I helped him put his lunchbox and backpack where they belong and walked him to his new desk!!
He wasn’t crying, he stood nervously next to his desk and I hugged him really tight, told him, “I love you so much, you’re going to have the best day!” Mrs. S came over and took over. I said ‘bye’ and headed toward the door, I turned around one last time and saw two little boys sitting at the first table inside the door, one spoke to the other, “do you want to be my friend?” I smiled, one last glance at Wiley taking a seat at his table. I knew this was going to be a great day for my little guy. I hurried to the nearest exit and sprinted down the sidewalk to my parked van.
The two babies were still listening to music on my phone (DJ Adri on duty). I sat in the drivers seat and my heart felt swollen, I resisted the urge to cry, a smile cropped up – ear to ear – on my face and I knew everything was going to be great for me too.
I took the babies to the Post Office (closed till 9am), so I drove over to the Library (closed till 9am) – what the?! We went to a grocery store to kill time before the opening of the library.
Meeting up with friends (Adrian now being the same age that Wiley used to be when he and I met up with our friends Tina and Haylee for library play!!)!
Followed by lots of outside playtime. Before I knew it – it was time to load the van again to go get our Wiley-man!
The carline for pick up ran much more smoothly than drop-off.
I was so excited to see how his day went – Mrs. S walked him to the curb where I waited and I squealed, “Wiley, how was your day?!”
Wiley burst into tears, “I wanted to take the bus home!!” hahahahaha
His largest complaint is the time to eat lunch is too short…on a side note, Wiley was telling jokes at lunch. (While eating his grapes, “ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas!!” Dan and I asked if anyone laughed, “no.”) hahaha.
He didn’t want to talk much about his day, but I knew he just needed to chill awhile. By the time daddy got home from work and started asking Wiley about his school day, Wiley was really excited to share all about class, “and you know what my teacher said? She said to come back tomorrow!!”
So, with mom and dad’s excitement, Wiley feels excitement too.
The first day of school was followed by a date night – to the waste water treatment plant – because nothing says true love quite like taking a tour of the place where your poopy-water gets cleaned. I do however now know how that happens. I am grateful for engineers!!
If anyone is curious about fun facts, please send me or Danny a Direct Message.
This morning, after a few hours of anxiety, everything changed and the sun started shining through my soul again.
The day began like any other, woke up started breakfast – except this time I turned on some LDS general conference talks while I prepared food.
There are things I’ve always known, but today I understood them.
One speaker quoted Neal A. Maxwell,
“Certain forms of suffering, endured well, can actually be ennobling. …
“… Part of enduring well consists of being meek enough, amid our suffering, to learn from our relevant experiences. Rather than simply passing through these things, they must pass through us … in ways which sanctify [us].”
I know I’ve sounded a bit like a broken record when it comes to trying to find the positive during difficult times, but I’ve passed through something that has given me new perspective on those who suffer depression throughout their life.
I have depression each time I’m pregnant…then I have had post-partum depression following the birth of each of my three children. So, beginning with my first pregnancy in late summer 2011 through, this month…I have constantly struggled [mightily] with things I didn’t quite understand for a long time.
The first time, I didn’t even know why I felt the way I did.
I wasn’t disappointed in the idea of having a baby, I just didn’t feel joy or excitement about anything. Things moms are supposed to feel.
When I held my firstborn after delivery I was in love at first sigh. I couldn’t sleep I was so happy.
The pure excitement and joy that followed the next eight months was in a constant battle with depression. All the changes in my life added to six solid months of no sleep and then eating little – it’s no wonder my brain was off balance.
Just before my first turned one, I got pregnant a second time. Several weeks later I miscarried. Six months following that, I was pregnant a third time and later gave birth to a second boy.
I love babies so much. Love them and yet…
I constantly felt like I was going to snap in half and I cried all the time. My husband couldn’t fix anything.
My fourth pregnancy (and third child) was a complete surprise.
A tender mercy my last pregnancy didn’t make me feel sick physically, but mentally I was still fighting a mess.
I was vacuuming my carpets three times a day. Three.
How did I manage to get along? I set my mind to face each day, to put one foot in front of the other and not give up, rest if I must, but not quit.
So, today, with a morning full of anxiety I heard, Elder Evan A Schmutz say,
“The purpose and mission of Jesus Christ included that He would “take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people,” “take upon him their infirmities,” and “succor his people according to their infirmities.”17
To fully receive these gifts our Savior has so freely offered, we all must learn that suffering in and of itself does not teach or grant to us anything of lasting value unless we deliberately become involved in the process of learning from our afflictions through the exercise of faith.
Then we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has taught: “There really is light at the end of the tunnel. It is the Light of the World, the Bright and Morning Star, the ‘light that is endless, that can never be darkened’ [Mosiah 16:9]. It is the very Son of God Himself.”20
We can take strength in knowing that all the hard experiences in this life are temporary; even the darkest nights turn into dawn for the faithful.
When all is finished and we have endured all things with faith in Jesus Christ, we have the promise that “God shall wipe away all [the] tears from [our] eyes.”21
Something about hearing those words sent light through my heart. I hope that hearing those words will send light through your heart.
I hope that we can all keep trying to be a little bit softer, a little bit kinder especially towards those things around us that we just don’t understand, yet.
Don’t give up, keep trying, you are loved. Things really aren’t as bad as they seem.
Our Protagonists are fighting the odds, making their way towards the promise that lay in the future…one day at a time.
Can I tell you about the last few months? Then I will tell you about all the beautiful souls who helped us along the way.
Things were supposed to be really good for us, after a tough Spring and Summer, when fall came, everything would be grand. Dan would have this awesome great job and we would buy our first home!!
It was such a beautiful dream and everything was falling into place – just like dreams do – and God laughed, because like little children we were “asking our mom to open a packet of Ranch dressing mix for us to eat, because it looked so delicious – while she was busy preparing an actual meal for dinner – and she smiled at us and shook her head.”
We had several new families move into our church ‘ward’ this summer and one of those families gave us a huge pile of boxes and paper for wrapping. (then the couple who gave us all the boxes, stayed a little longer and fixed our front door!)
Things are coming together!
Ten days before we were to close on the home, Dan’s job didn’t work out, we couldn’t get our home and since we told our current landlord we were “absolutely moving” – he sold the house we were living in…
We had ten days to find a new home, we had a flea infestation, we’re packing, cleaning, looking for a new place to live, Mom got a stomach bug and the steam cleaning vacuum had to be returned three times…because it didn’t work.
Katie eventually got the steam cleaner to work by turning it on and off again. It worked for a solid 15 minutes…before it didn’t.
and as far as Mom is concerned, fleas are just as nasty as EBOLA!
Everything must be washed.
and bug bombed.
and bug bombed.
This is a sad, and somewhat comical from where I stand now, story of how to clean up after you find your small children covered in flea bites, while you have a stomach bug, during a house move.
I have had a different woman volunteer to take my children for several hours, each day the last week and a half, offers to bring us meals or help in any other way possible – here’s the kicker – without being asked for help, they just heard we were moving!
I have a visiting teacher (my previous ones are always missed!) who just moved here not long ago – we had never met – and just after being assigned to visit me, she inquired about me and found out we were moving and took my boys twice in a matter of days into her home (along with her small children) so my husband and I could tackle the cleaning and move.
Then, our home teacher called (again, another new family to the area)! Our home teacher is a new medical resident, his wife stays home with three small kids, and everyone is busy, but they wanted to help us too. Wiley is making lots of new friends.
It felt like our world had turned upside down in a time in our life when I really and truly felt like I had earned some good things in my life.
Today, I see the good things in my life.
We didn’t get the house, he didn’t get the job, we had a lot of extra physical labor and we’re all covered in flea bites…but we have been lifted by heavenly hands and helped by angelic people here in Columbia, Missouri.
It’s been nothing short of a miracle to see this kind of love. We have felt all the prayers said on our behalf and we are grateful.
I know that God is love, and He knows our needs.
I also know it’s a lot harder to feel His love, if we sit and mope about all the things that aren’t going right, so we stand up and move forward with hope.
This summer raced by with record speed. My baby is officially eight months old today!
This breaks my heart just a bit, as she is the best, sweetest baby girl and I’m obviously going to need another baby sooner than I originally planned.
Because babies are my absolute favorite…and no, this is not a pregnancy announcement.
What on earth have I been doing this summer?
What have you been doing this summer?
I asked first…
Mostly just all the great mom things of laundry, dishes, cooking…I’ll be completely honest here and admit that I have not been reading many books to my kids this summer, there has been a lot more tv and I have zero guilt about this.
Last school year wore me out. Then in the spring I got pink eye and battled it all the way through July 4th weekend. I have not had any pink eye since that weekend, still have a bit of dry eye, but that is so much easier to deal with.
What we have had is lots of cuddles – indoors – lots of dirt in hair from the hours spent outside in the backyard, lots of forts. I got tired of putting the boy’s mattress back on the bed, so it’s still on their bedroom floor, surrounded by toys.
I’m gloriously less stressed these days.
I want to attribute the goodness in my life to God.
In the chaos of this world, He gives me peace and hope that good things will come.
In addition to having the support of my husband, the women of the Relief Society (the women’s organization from my church) have gone above and beyond to serve me here in Columbia, Missouri.
I hit the jack pot – and it’s not just the women in my LDS ward – there are women in surrounding wards who have served me too.
Those acts of service (making us dinner, taking my kids, swapping baby clothes, having us over to play, teaching my children) have lifted my load.
If only the news was full of the stories of these life transforming women – the world wouldn’t seem so dark to me – it would be the light of God’s love shinning. A beacon of hope for humanity.
The women I go to church with lift me with their testimonies, their compliments, their smiles, their friendship.
In return, those women let me take their picture. I wish I could tell their stories from a photojournalist point of view – as an alternative to the terribly distressing news as of late.
Motherhood (since I’m a mother)/Parenting takes a lot of work/sacrifice and without this village of helpful women I would have lost my mind long ago.
(Note about photos – all are SOOC (straight out of camera) photos – because I’m currently too poor for Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop.)
[Below are photos taken by a friend – with a nicer camera, nicer lens…nicer skills]
It helps to have a hobby.
Mine is record keeping. Family record keeping. Which is the main reason for blogging. It’s also why I love taking photos. I have made several family photo album books this year. It takes me awhile to make family yearbooks, but I enjoy reliving our time together as I pick through our photos from the year and write about our time spent together.
It is the reading of and looking through those memories that draw me nearer to my extended family and friends.
Anyone up for pictures? I can’t promise they will look mystically amazing, but I’d love the practice and you will have a moment of time captured forever of that day your three year old got gum stuck in his hair and your baby had poop up his back…
Ask anyone, I have terrible rhythm…which is probably why I never became a dancer. But one of the great things in this life, other people (not me people) have talents that I can find joy in.
[I really can’t understand people who get jealous of other people’s talents…like, h e l l o, why can’t we just get excited and love on the greatness of others?? There is room for everyone to be great.]
You probably know by now I love (slightly obsess over) dance. To me, when I watch, it’s like staring at a beautiful painting or listening to inspiring music. It creates this dream I want to step into.
A month or two ago, a friend asked if I would come take photos for her dance studio, as the studio was gearing up for the ballet Peter Pan.
I was really nervous, as a hobby photographer, to work as a professional. I spoke to a couple of my friends (who make a living taking photos) for some tips.
I have read quite a bit about photography in the last few years – natural light and studio are two worlds…and then the thing that makes me the most crazy is photography style.
Not everyone has the same taste…
In the end, I decided that if parents didn’t like the photos I took this ballet season, they didn’t have to buy any next time. This is my style, take it or leave it.
Also, as a photographer who relies on natural light, I was really nervous about the two days of clouds that darkened the dance studio for portraits.
It is what it is and when picture day was all over, there is beauty in imperfection.
I like my photos and if it happens to make a mother cry, then I’ll consider myself a true professional.
Today at church I briefly stood before my congregation and bore my testimony of God’s love, how sometimes in His love (and infinite wisdom) He asks us to do hard things…because He knows that it will make us strong.
Motherhood has been a struggle for me lately. Particularly with my first born. He is determined to help me be strong. Really strong.
After my testimony, I returned to my seat. Wiley was so happy to see me and said, very enthusiastically, “Mom, you did a great job!” followed by a sweet little boy kiss.
Floating – his kiss and exclamation had me floating the rest of the day! (much like the hot air balloon we saw fly over our home.)
God sent me a strong willed, funny, intelligent, happy, passionate, particular and loving boy we call, ‘Wiley.’
Wiley turned 4 years old last week.
Lord knows time is flying and somedays it doesn’t fly fast enough to bedtime…
I am well and healthy today, but the entire month of April I was sick. So, as Wiley’s birthday neared, I knew he wouldn’t care if he had a party, but I wanted his day to feel really special. I wanted him to know I thought he was special.
He started his day with cartoons. I had blown up several orange balloons to litter the floor and got him four floating balloons and two dinosaur puzzles.
[go Dollar General!!!]
I had to coax him away from the TV for a morning outing – just with mom.
I took him to the grocery store and let him pick out anything he wanted! Cause, I’m money bags like that.
The birthday boy wanted fresh strawberries, raspberries, whipped cream and donuts.
He also wanted a “grown-up sippy cup” (those plastic drinking glasses with straws/screw on lids) colored orange. The boy likes orange.
I’m pretty sure most of his t-shirts are orange.
Kind of fits his personality.
After our breakfast outing, he wanted to put his dinosaur puzzles together with me. He and his little brother had hours of fun playing with the balloons. I read some books…and I let him play on the iPad, because that was just what he wanted!
Daddy took Wiley and Tyler to the “big slide park” for about two hours later in the day.
(I love, LOVE, when Dan takes them to the park – no bedtime troubles – and quiet time for mom.)
The grand finale to the birthday boy’s day was after the two babies went to bed.
Daddy made a fire in the fire ring and they roasted marshmallows!
It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten marshmallows, they aren’t my favorite.
We didn’t have cake, I pointed them out in the store, but he wanted donuts for breakfast and marshmallows for dessert; who am I to argue with the birthday King?!
Wiley stayed up late. I wish I could say it was way past his usual bedtime, but he typically refuses sleep until around 10pm every night, so it was business as usual.
Wiley finally passed out on the bed next to mommy and his sleeping baby sister.