Here is my New Year’s Resolution: Love

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I think there are many times in life we might ask ourselves, “what was the point of going through that, just to have it end?”

My time away from the blog, I’ve been more fully embracing the life I have chosen and living my life to the fullest. So full, I am crashing to bed earlier and earlier each night.

and, I’ve also been experiencing more joy.

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So my thoughts come from a place of deep reflection brought on by personal trials (that have turn to triumphs?).

As I knelt – or crumpled – next to my bed last night, wondering to God why some things happen – a thing that brings you joy was abruptly taken away – what was the whole purpose of that?

My question did not come from a place of anger, but a sincere desire to know why.

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Here is what I felt after reflection:

When we lose something we love, we should never regret how we loved.

When we choose to fill ourselves with Love, it begets more love.

Bitterness and sorrow begets more bitterness and sorrow.

There have been many things I used to regret in my life.

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For the things I can’t change, I will no longer feel regret. For the things that I can change, well, I’m taking the time to turn them around. For many things, it’s never too late, to make a change.

Some of those changes have been inspired by reading. Reading of scripture (which I consider history), and reading of non-scripture world history.

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The clarity of my goals came while reading about the Siege of (Leningrad) St Petersburg in 1941 – that lasted 872 days – leading to the death of about a million civilians.

During the siege, a Russian composer by the name of Dimitri Shostakovich (what a fun name to say!!) wrote his Symphony No. 7 – not only did they hold a concert in the physically starved and bombed out city – the concert was broadcast on speakers outside the concert hall to allow those who couldn’t enter the packed building to listen and some directed toward occupying soldiers. As bombs fell, it was the banner of “cultural resistance to atrocity.” (Read more here)

While I don’t wish to create enemies at the gate, it is inevitable that others will choose to make me their enemy – for any manner of perceived wrong (hey, I’m not perfect, but I don’t go out of my way to hurt people).

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It comes down to this:

I don’t wish to have enemies. I don’t want to create any, for those who choose to make me their enemy, I choose to not to fuel the flames of anger, but will fan the embers of love and  beauty.

I’m still trying to figure how to do that.

It starts with not arguing, not gossiping, finding something else to put my mind on, and so on, listening better.

This is my new years resolution. That doesn’t mean that I don’t ever feel the desire to reach into my computer screen and punch someone’s face, because on rare occasion, I do feel that way.

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Photo by Jewly Ann Photography

However petty I have been up to this day, I am choosing to learn how to be better today and tomorrow in the face of opposition. This is what I have decided to work on, in my small way, to change the world.

Raising children in an uncertain world.

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Every other day I wonder what kind of world I’m raising my children in…

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I want to shelter them forever from the absence of love, so I love them more.

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I want to shelter them from anger, so I try to be more patient with them…

I don’t always succeed in that, but I will keep trying.

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I want to shelter them from unkindness, so I try to teach them to say ‘thank you’ and ‘please.’

We’re still working on sharing.

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I want to shelter them from other people’s bad choices, to I teach them to be aware.

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I had a happy childhood and I want my children to know what happiness is, so they can look for safe and longterm solutions to cope with the world.

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I want them to know how much God loves them, how much God loves every human on this planet and how we need to see each other as brothers and sisters.

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I want them to know that every human has the potential for greatness – not the world’s definition of greatness – that, in the words of Howard W Hunter,

“True greatness [comes from] the thousands of little deeds and tasks of service and sacrifice that constitutes the giving, or losing, of one’s life for others and for the Lord.”

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Children, your time for service and sacrifice is coming. Your job now is to know joy, to know love, to see beauty in the world you live in and to know that in the end, everything will be alright.

Indeed, in the end, our life is in God’s hands.

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Play on babies, play on.

The un-official Wedding Photos from my Baby Sister’s wedding.

Started the morning off in the waiting area with the kids.
Started the morning off in the waiting area with the kids and Aunt Kelsey (my oldest sister). My kid is in the back (wearing a white shirt, picking his nose).

And when I say the un-official photos, I mean, most of the photos posted here are of my kids…because this is my blog. 🙂

Nona and Grambo were there - Nona, you're hair is fabulous.
Nona and Grambo were there – Nona, you’re hair is fabulous.

Kaylan and Jeremiah were married on August 7th in the Houston LDS Temple.

Due to the bride and groom’s early arrival to the Temple and some family members still en-route, the group photos were delayed until after the Temple ceremony…

Not interested in taking photos.
Not interested in taking photos.
I am looking around for my cousins...
I am looking around for my cousins…
I'm 3 and I look cute, regardless of what I am doing.
I’m 3 and I look cute, regardless of what I am doing.

around 12:30.

Brother knotting a tie, flew in from Denver that morning.
Brother knotting a tie, flew in from Denver that morning. Brother wearing a pink bow tie just got called to Kumasi Ghana for his LDS Mission! Mom, looking fab.

I’m going to stop here and direct you back to my last post on this blog about the Houston, Texas heat.

What goes on inside these kids' heads? What is he thinking right in this moment?
What goes on inside these kids’ heads? What is he thinking right in this moment?

I want to keep the negativity off this post.

Waiting for the bride and groom to emerge from their newly minted status as Mr. and Mrs.
Waiting for the bride and groom to emerge from their newly minted status as Mr. and Mrs.

The good news is, almost everyone was smiling.

Yay!! They're married!
Yay!! They’re married!

We have a lot to smile about! My sister just got married to her best friend.

I still remember that feeling after being married and coming out of the Temple together...that's a good feeling.

I still remember that feeling after being married and coming out of the Temple together…that’s a good feeling.

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Also a bit surreal, “we’re married?”

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It’s amazing how such a small act, can lead to greater things.

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Like, kissing can lead to babies…

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or…so I have found.

Tyler begging for a swim.
Tyler begging for a swim.

In all seriousness, I recently read a talk given by an Apostle of the Lord titled, “Why Marriage, Why Family.

Trust me son, we all want to just in the fountain.
Trust me son, we all want to jump in the fountain.

I really loved the part where he said,

Kaylan with her brothers. Four years ago, when I got married, they were so much younger!!
Kaylan with the brothers. Four years ago, when I got married, they were so much younger!!

“It is [God] who in the beginning created Adam and Eve in His image, male and female, and joined them as husband and wife to become “one flesh” and to multiply and replenish the earth.21 ”

speaking of multiplying and replenishing, this cute sister was 36 weeks pregnant with her sixth child (in 10 years)!
speaking of multiplying and replenishing, this cute sister was 36 weeks pregnant with her sixth child (in 10 years)!

“Each individual carries the divine image, but it is in the matrimonial union of male and female as one that we attain perhaps the most complete meaning of our having been made in the image of God—male and female.

Neither we nor any other mortal can alter this divine order of matrimony. It is not a human invention. Such marriage is indeed “from above, from God” and is as much a part of the plan of happiness as the Fall and the Atonement.”

My stud, holding our sweet baby.
My stud, holding our sweet baby.

Marriage creates families, which is central to God’s plan of happiness.

Cute baby, boogers and all.
Cute baby, boogers and all.

See why this wedding was a big deal?

Groom with the menfolk.
Groom with the menfolk.

It was “the most complete meaning of our having been made in the image of God.”

Marriage and family has shown me how much I needed to change – to become more like Christ.

Having children has shown me how much further I need to go, to be more like Christ.

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I would have liked to have spent more time, just Danny and I before we started having children.

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I would have liked for him to see me normal for awhile…before the constant roller coaster of hormones.

In the four years I’ve been married, I’ll have had three kids.

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When I got hitched, I was an old maid, at 29 with expiring eggs; so, you know, I had to start popping those kiddies out.

Nieces and nephews.
Nieces and nephews.

Ahh, babies. More babies to come.

And more photos…stay tuned.

Gosh I love weddings – especially when it’s family!

While our family was down in Texas, back in March, we met up with my sister and her soon-to-be husband for a Sunday dinner.

Last sister to get hitched!
Last sister to get hitched!

As it turns out, the young man my sister is marrying is a good friend of my husband’s family…isn’t it nice how that works out?

After a big family dinner I made those two sit for lots of photos – I’ll spare you – and only show you a few.

In an effort to be silly, I like to play a game where I give a scenario for their life and then I capture the look on their faces:

Scenario: “you just found out you’re having triples!”

Okay - he looks like he's ready for this adventure! She looks a tad nervous.
Okay – he looks like he’s ready for this adventure! She looks a tad nervous.

Scenario: “You just found out you’re having a second set of triplets.”

Maybe a little less thrilled?
Maybe a little less thrilled?

I then told them to try to give me their best American Gothic pose:

Love is serious business.
Love is serious business.

Ah well, I can’t wait for those to tie the knot in August…a little less thrilled about the Houston heat and humidity; but then again I married in Houston on July 9th, it wasn’t any better and we survived.

So stoked for you guys!!!
So stoked for you guys!!!

SO cheers to marriage and love and all the happiness that accompanies such things.

My (Non) Celebrity Boyfriend and (in my opinion) the Sexiest Man Alive

So I was on Pinterest this week and I happened to be looking at a recipe for candy popcorn – the blogger was telling a story about going to the movies – with her husband – and the amazing (shirtless) abs of the actor on screen… how she was so intently watching this movie (and his abs), she ate too much popcorn.

I aged it to look 70ish...someone told him he looked like a NASA engineer, ironically, we know some of those from the 70's.
I aged it to look 70ish…someone told him he looked like a NASA engineer, ironically, we know some of those from the 70’s.

I realize she was being “funny” and I’m sure she loves her husband – but I for one am too uptight for that kind of “funny.”

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My husband is my celebrity crush, #MCM (mom, that means “Man Crush Monday” and it’s just something people hash-tag about on social media…please don’t ask me about hash tags…again) and will always be the sexiest man alive – to me.

I love it when he smiles.
I love it when he smiles.

It really is the small things that keep marriages strong, especially in a world with so much divorce.

Woman with cameras should not come fishing....
Hey Girl, you’re the only woman I Hey Girl…

Choose your love, love your choice and make it last Forever!

Disclaimer: Does not necessarily apply to the single ladies and gents… Those movies abs are for you!

What Pablo Picasso and I have in common

What the heck makes someone “special”?

YAY! Wiley, after jumping into Grandbo's lap!
YAY! Wiley, after jumping into Grandbo’s lap!

Several years ago, while living in Utah, I was ordering a sandwich at Subway, along with my older sister Kelsey. I recall using the name of the female employee (well, the name shown on her employee name tag) while giving my order and after I thanked her for my sandwich, I bid her ‘goodnight.’

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On the way to my sister’s car I said, “I like to use people’s names, because it makes them feel special.”

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I will never forget what my sister told me…

Wiley loves seeing Grandparents!
Wiley loves seeing Grandparents!

Kelsey said, “she is special Kate, you were just reminding her she was.”

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Dang, I should have known better! Of course she is special!

Something Pablo Picasso quoted his mother saying to him made me think about the sons I’m raising,

“When I was a child my mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll be the pope.’ Instead I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.”

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—It struck me that, although my mother didn’t say the same thing to me, it was how my mother raised me that lead me to feel special.

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Sure, when I was a little girl I wanted to be Miss America – she got a crown, a dozen roses and a strut down the runway with falling confetti.

Nona said baby looked like Dom Deluise...I can see it.
Nona said baby looked like Dom Deluise…I can see it.

What child didn’t want to go to the Olympics and represent their country for a chance to win a medal? Well, I wanted to do that too…but,

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I didn’t need those things in my life to feel special.

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I was raised by a mother and a father who loved me – they gave me their time, they listened to me, they counseled me (even when I didn’t want to receive it), and when I came home late, my father was always waiting.

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It’s my hope, that my children will grow to know they are special – with an Olympic medal around their neck or not.

He said he didn't want a nap...
He said he didn’t want a nap…

We are special because we are children of God!

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Which means more than we know.

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Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniver…

Back to where it happened, the Sealing for Time and Eternity.
Back to where it happened, the Sealing for Time and Eternity.

Remember that movie “So I Married An Axe Murderer”? (“stay for a night cap!!!”). I remember that movie…. Mike Meyers, before he was Shreck, was writing beatnik poetry about girls he used to date, “she stole my heart and my cat,” reading The World News and dusting off his wall with the Scottish Hall of Fame.  Yesterday, the two year anniversary of my wedding day, while cleaning the house I kept singing in my head over and over (to the William Tell Overture?), “Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary, Haaaaappy Anniversary….Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy Anniversary, Happy Happy – SHUT IT!” Which of course, is from the movie “So I Married An Axe Murderer.”   Cool Story.

Life is good
Life is good

I did not marry an axe murderer, thank goodness.

not an axe murderer, but an avid fisherman and hunter.
not an axe murderer, but an avid fisherman and hunter.

Last year my husband was backpacking the day/week of our first wedding anniversary, this year I was visiting with my sister. We are headed to Costa Rica in two and a half weeks, so I think that will be celebration enough….for the last two years and the next two years….because in three years, we’re going to Disney World – I hope. For some reason I’ve never been to Florida (EVER!!!), my dad was born in Orlando and I have had this tickle – intense tickle – to go to Florida for some time now. Not in the summer, but a winter stay in Florida sounds lovely.

Out on an uncle's lake, showing our son how to make a good catch.
Out on an uncle’s lake, showing our son how to make a good catch.

I have a short list of places I NEED to visit in the next five years….we don’t seem to have a million dollars in our checking account, so we shall see how that works out.

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Fishing is also a good time to talk about life….

United Kingdom, how I love you and want to see you again (and again)

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Australia/New Zealand you are on the tippy top of my list of places to go.

Hey there good look'n...look at the camera...
Hey there good look’n…look at the camera…

Hawaii why do you feel so out of reach? You are part of the same United States that I live in. I must come see you.

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Germany, my dad has told me so many good things about you. I love German products, is there anything that you make that is not good? I don’t think so.

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Oh Canada, our neighbor to the North, I want to see Vancouver and Toronto (and the beauty in between). Someday, Someday we shall meet. When, I ask?

Woman with cameras should not come fishing....
Women with cameras should not come fishing….

I can’t pick just one Island in the South Pacific, but since my husband was assigned a school assignment on Samoa, I have wanted to spend some time in Polynesia.

he tossed this guy back
he tossed this guy back

What are the odds of me being able to see all these wonderful places?

This is my short list of places to visit soon. Which means I need to live a long time, so my husband and I can visit all the places on my long list.

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Happy Happy Anniversary Daniel, the best gift we ever received is our funny little boy. Thank you for your love, your time, your patience and for letting me tote my camera everywhere with us.

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An Occasion To Be Resilient: Facing Challenges

Danny borrowed a tandem kayak from some friends, to see how our son would take to it....
Danny borrowed a tandem kayak from some friends, to see how our son would take to it….

On Wednesday I began spotting…seeing as how pregnant women shouldn’t spot, I became worried. Thursday my husband left for a three day kayak trip. I took it easy, let the baby tear my room apart while I sat/laid in bed.

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As Thursday closed, I became more worried, but felt comfort in my Friday afternoon appointment with my M.D…but Thursday night brought no sleep and no comfort for me. I’ll not be graphic (appreciate?) and say, I lost a lot of blood and contracted so painfully from about midnight to 6am.

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Daddy’s job was entertain our son…it was a long weekend for us both.

It was so terrible, I passed out in the bathroom around midnight. At 5:30am I took some ibuprofen, texted Danny – hoping he had cell phone reception along the river – and told him to come home right away.

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Shaking, dehydrated, too nauseated to drink water I just moaned for relief until my NSAIDS (Ibu) kicked in. I slept two hours and woke soaked. I called the doctor’s office and told them the graphic details and asked if I should wait to see them at 1pm or go to the ER. I was instructed to go to the ER….too much blood lost. My brother Keegan drove me to the ER, where Danny met me with a wheelchair (I told him to stop being so dramatic, but really I was grateful).

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Danny was such a great help. He wanted to help me in any way and for some time on Saturday he rubbed my legs, my butt, my back, my head anything I asked. He couldn’t find the heating pad, so he made me two, a heated rice sock and a Nalgene with hot water in it. I was laying on the floor for some time in the most comfortable position I could find and he placed his laptop on its side with a movie so I wouldn’t dwell on how I was feeling. I have such a great support in him.

Here is our little prince, the miracle I gave birth to early last year.
Here is our little prince, the miracle I gave birth to early last year.

It’s been three days of transient labor-like activity/pain. I can honestly say this miscarriage has been more difficult than giving birth – emotionally – the pain is there, but going through this without the sweet union of a new babe to hold makes it seem pointless.

How I loved him before this last week, how I treasure him even more now.
How I loved him before this last week, how I treasure him even more now.

I thought about the Savior and His Atonement. The Savior suffered the deepest and most intimate pains for every single person who ever lived. He did this to free mankind from our suffering, addictions, temptations…He even did this for those who would never accept His message of hope, love and forgiveness.

I gots to keep him safe
I gots to keep him safe

I wont be able to hold a new infant on Christmas Day 2013, but I have made covenants with God and if I keep those covenants my entire life, I will be reunited with all of my loved ones again.

I’m grateful for the knowledge of this gift.

I'm grateful for my family.

I’m grateful for my family and I’m grateful for my supportive friends. It helps me be more resilient.

Real American Heroes & The Patriot Guard

Sunday before we left Edmond, Oklahoma for rural Missouri, my Auntie C told the family that the Patriot Guard had asked her to meet her in the Walmart parking lot.

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She wasn’t sure what was going to happen and neither did we, but we accompanied her to meet with the group just prior to our departure….DSC_1634

this is why I like to carry a camera every where I go.

You never know what you will see or capture.

The group of men and women gathered to remind my Aunt that she and her son, Rex, have not been forgotten. They promise to always remember and that is what the Patriot Guard does, remember.

DSC_1642On an overcast day, they came to give Auntie C some gifts to let her know they will not forget.

First, a gold star flag for hanging in the window.

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then, a crocheted quilt that was made by many women across the United States (thanks for the heads up Randy), each square crocheted by a different woman and then crocheted together to make a quilt.

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The quilt is inside the star bangled bag….I didn’t get a photo of it.

A star cut from a retired flag
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These were all gifts put together by individuals who spend their free time in remembering the fallen heroes of American service, foreign and domestic.

DSC_1671As you can tell by the look on my Aunt Colleen’s face, it was a pleasure to meet with these fine people.

They came up to me and asked how I knew the young man, “he’s my cousin.”

I admire folks who take the time away from doing things for self to reach out to families who are hurting.

DSC_1674No doubt they enjoy riding together as friends and I’m sure they enjoy the people they meet, with stories to share.

DSC_1666But they could be meeting somewhere else and for some other reason. I think God looks down on this Patriot Guard and smiles at the service they bring.

Grandad smiled
Grandad smiled, no really, he’s smiling here – it’s in the eyes!

I smiled.

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The sum of our life is the people we’ve served, the hearts touched and the things we chose to do with our time.

Maybe a Patriot Guard will be standing sentinel on the “other side” welcoming the fallen soldiers home.

DSC_1652I guess we’ll all find out when our turn on Earth has expired.

In heaven, it may finally be safe for me to ride on one of these things.
In heaven, it may finally be safe for me to ride on one of these things.

To learn more about the Patriot Guard Riders of Oklahoma visit:

http://www.pgrofok.us       or       http://www.patriotguard.org

Family Voice: Our Safe Harbor

With my father’s job as a naval officer, we lived on the Pacific or Atlantic coasts most of my childhood.  My parents made visits to Oklahoma regularly every year to see extended family. So, oddly enough, I regularly saw more of my cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents while I was living on the Pacific coast than I have since I graduated from college.

L to R: my nephew J, Sister Kaylan, Cousin Hollie, Cousin Diana, Me, Sister Klara.
L to R: my nephew J, Sister Kaylan, Cousin Hollie, Cousin Diana, Me, Sister Klara.

When the option to travel or move away from home became available, I wanted to spread my wings and fly far away for new adventures.

Klara, Aunt Gail, Kaylan and J.
Klara, Aunt Gail, Kaylan and J.

It didn’t take long for me to figure out there was an emptiness  in my travels…I was missing my family.

I decided to move closer to home for a few years and was living in Oklahoma when my Aunt Tina passed away, but she and I had lovely visits before she left.

Cousin Max and Cousin Diana
Cousin Max and Cousin Diana

 

Hers was the first funeral of a close relative that I attended. I wasn’t expecting to laugh, but there were so many funny stories shared that intermingled with my tears were laughs. My family knows how to make me laugh.

After her memorial, the entire clan – we are a clan – went back to my Nana and Grandad’s house for comfort food and comfort.

Diana and Hollie
Diana and Hollie

Our family got together for a big Christmas in 2008.  That’s the Christmas that Rex bought Grandad some scratch off lottery tickets for a birthday present and Grandad won 12,000 dollars…yeah, we all got a share. Thanks Grandad, Thanks Rex!

my son and my cousin's daughter with Rex's fiance Sabrina.
my son and my cousin’s daughter with Rex’s fiance Sabrina.

Three years after Aunt Tina passed, and one year after the big Christmas, my Nana passed away.  The family again gathered, this time to remember the matriarch of the clan.

Cousin Laura and her son O.
Cousin Laura and her son O.

My Nana and Grandad were the unifying factor for us grandchildren up until that point.  It was then my Aunt Kathy, to the last request of Nana, who bought “the home” full of family memories. She now goes by KoKo/CoCo to the great grand children and Grandad lives with her as “the tenant.”

My mom and cousin Gene.
My mom and cousin Gene.

It was this same home that we have gathered in after three funerals of loved ones and countless visits to the grandparents to find love and comfort. The walls are full of laughter and the fridge is always full of bottle water and cola.

My son and my Father.
My son and my Father.

There is still comfort within it’s walls. My Grandad sits in his recliner waiting to tell you a funny story or share a memory.

Koko asks you if you want a cold drink or cup of tea.

A place we are always welcome to stop and find safe harbor from the daily drivel of news or trials that weigh us down and we can expect to find family.

My Aunt Gail (from my mother's side).
My Aunt Gail (from my mother’s side).

Family is forever and that brings me comfort too.

Rex's house mate/friend from Georgia, Seamus (pronounce "Shehmus" ya'll)
Rex’s house mate/friend from Georgia, Seamus (pronounce “Shehmus” ya’ll).

I can think of a better reason to have family gather, it’s called A Wedding and we should do more of those…or how about just because!

Auntie C suggested a reunion this summer, I can support that.