Monday, February 28, 2011

Blush and Boxes

I think my mantle is officially the "family storefront" for the holiday's.  I love decorating it for each passing celebration of the seasons.  It's so fun to gather just the right items to portray the feeling we want in our home for that month... tonight I will take down Valentinesy love stuff and replace it with Easter... I'm hoping my springy vibes will usher in warmer weather.

 The boys had fun this year decorating their valentine boxes for school.  Addy was a little sad watching them work on everything since she has moved past all the juvenile preparations now that she's in junior high.  It's these weird milestones that really show me how fast time is flying by.
Landon found the most perfect box to make an XBOX 360 case to hold his valentines...
Chris helped with the finer details of course.  Doesn't it look real?!

 Oliver's box was all about simplicity!  And just as I imagined, his box meant to look like a moldy piece of cheese from out the children's book Diary of a Wimpy Kid, produced an epidemic within the classroom of the "cheese touch".  I helped with his class party this year and it was so fun to watch the kids excitedly pass out their valentines to eachother.  Check out his buddies birthday cake box, what a masterpiece:)  They ate yummy treats laced with sugar, played valentines bingo, and made candy airplanes.

Missing mountains and more...

In February we had a wonderful visit with Chris' family.
We sure do miss them and those majestic mountains!

Hang Time

We've been longing for our out of state family so much lately, and one our sisters is about to have a baby any second now (holla Cheri!) Even with a family as large as ours is, we still notice a void when someone is missing.  Whenever anyone comes into town, hang time together is savored where we can eat and talk and share advice with eachother... but mostly eat. This picture was taken right before we left for the airport to welcome home Caleb. 
 The cousins are already learning the fine art of a dance party... and just wait until that shiny disco ball is hung in our living room, then the funky times will really begin!!
 Love Tades rosey cheeks, shows he's really gettin' down.
 Ummmm, I promise my one year old does not have a mustache... and this dance move is entitled-
the airplane... or... the dance of questionable sobriety.

Valentines Homecoming

Valentines Evening this year was spent celebrating "LubLub"/Caleb/Elder Robinson returning from his honorable two year mission to Culiacan Mexico.  He left a punk and returned a man... just kidding... but in all seriousness, it is no joke when these nineteen year old boys are sent all over the world, to serve and share the life of Christ for 24 impressionable, sacraficing, and humbling months of their young lives.  I can think of no better maturing and growing experience than this.  Being the last of the brothers in our family to go, it was an exciting moment when he appeared at the top of the stairs of the airport... especially for our mom, who I think had held her breath since he had left hoping for his safety and success.  Can you imagine the worries a mother feels while her child is gone away for so long only able to call in a couple times a year, wondering if they're okay and fed?  But with Caleb's weekly emails, he shared his testimony and experiences with us, and reassured us (and surprised us too:) that all was well, and he was totally capable on his own.  We read as he transformed his life and spirit into greatness, molding himself and others into what God intends of all men, to rise and shine forth.  My favorite quality of a missionary, is their smile.  It just exudes happiness and joy.  What a glow Caleb had that night when we were all reunited, and what a special feeling of love filled the room where he hugged all the family members old, and new (babies and friends;) that greeted him with anticipation.   On Sunday the 27th he spoke in his ward reporting on his time spent in Mexico and two things impressed me most... the first was his call to the young men in the ward to get their lives in order, humble themselves and be ready to serve a mission for the Lord.  It was a very powerful moment and the hairs on my arms stood up when he passionately shared his testimony and love for the gospel in the Spanish language... by the way, how cool is it that two years ago all he knew was hola, or chimichanga, and now he can carry on a conversation in fluent spanish... that is pretty dang awesome!  The other thing that impressed me was when his Bishop joked about those who remembered Caleb before his mission, or any young man for that matter, and how changed they are when they return... meaning it is possible for anyone to bring the spirit into their lives and fine upstanding men are all around us.  Since he's been home, he has relaxed right back into his role as little brother... stealing drinks of my water, laughing at my jokes, squeezing my love handles, but he also stands a little taller, and that is the most fantastic part of it all.  He shares stories from his mission (some mighty frightening) and we can see the journey he has been on.  We are all so proud of him and excited to watch the next chapter unfold in his life!

Friday, February 25, 2011

nearer to God

Amanda and Bennett

I wasn't going to write about something so personal to another person, but because this has touched me to my core, I have to share what I'm feeling.  Everyone experiences loss in one way or another.
I have dealt with loss before in my life.  Grandparents have aged and drifted away, a childhood friend passed too soon from health complications,  I miscarried at ten weeks between Landon and Oliver, and of course one of the most painful losses though not of mortal death, the divorce of my parents when I was sixteen.  There are other extended members of our tree who have died too soon leaving families behind, and I don't mean to state these events in a casual list, but rather to point out that loss comes in many forms.  I have also watched others as they experience and endure their own losses.  Some are very private, others reach out for comfort.  Some feel guilty feeling joy again, and others search for the meaning in life and answers for what is to come in the afterlife.

In late January Amanda awoke to find her twenty month old son Bennett had passed away in his sleep.  Reading this was so abrupt and unreal, and I cannot imagine how out of this world it must have been for her and her family.  Immediately following in the days as she had to make preparations for his funeral and recreate her life without her son, she shared her strength and made me admire her even more.  She openly wrote about her feelings of desperation and sorrow, but also of hope and faith.  Every day since then I have thought of her and looked at my children differently.  Every heartbreaking realization of her new life tugs at my heart and I feel like we are all on this journey alongside her.

"Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality." - C.S. Lewis from A Grief Observed

Amanda is an inspiration to me because through her loss she shows that we can be found, and like the definition says, "provision for continuing existence..." our existence goes on forever and she knows Bennett will be in her arms again someday, and she knows that God will help her put one foot in front of the other.

In contrast, last year there was a piece in the New York Times about a project by photographer Darcy Padilla who followed a young woman throughout her desperate lifetime as she lived in poverty with AIDS.  The pictures and story of Julie shook me deeply.  I think in some ways I recognized myself in her at times.  The exhaustion and disorder that I sometimes feel in my life I saw in snapshots of hers, except that my low times are brief with the knowledge I have to be lifted with a power greater than myself.  I guess this is what touches me so about Julie;  how differently her life would have turned out if she had just KNOWN the truth... if she had just been FOUND.  She wouldn't have gotten sick, she wouldn't have had her children taken away from her, she wouldn't have struggled with addiction and abusive relationships because she would have made a different choice.  How can she be held accountable for her life before the light entered it... I pray as she wanders the spirit world presently, that she and all others who haven't had the chance to know the plan of happiness will be given it.

So with life in our own shoes, or through observation of others, we are to MAKE RESOLUTION when we are touched by a story.  Amanda and Julie, both mothers, both daughters of our Heavenly Father, perhaps will have different endings.  Amanda shared... "As this is my first walk through profound grief, I am learning how random triggers can be. Sometimes the hardest things are the events you don't even anticipate. Like returning to the daycare at the gym with only one child, changing your childcare payment plan and checking only one child in. I haven't been able to do it yet but I need to get back. I can do it, I can do it . . . while experiencing my own heartache and loss, I want to shout from the rooftops that there IS a plan. There is HOPE! A loving, tender Father in Heaven IS in charge and is caring for our babies until we can be with them again. And that - someday - our aching arms will be filled with more Joy then we can now imagine."

Elder Holland, one of the twelve apostles living today says, "We are not alone in our little prisons here. When suffering, we may in fact be nearer to God than we’ve ever been in our entire lives. That knowledge can turn every such situation into a would-be temple. Regarding our earthly journey, the Lord has promised: “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” (D&C 84:88). That is an everlasting declaration of God’s love and care for us, including—and perhaps especially—in times of trouble." (Lessons from Liberty Jail, CES Fireside, Sept 2008)

I have a hope that Amanda is able to share her graceful faith with others than just those that know her because she could touch so many lives.  Here is the link to The Julie Project, but please be aware that some of the pictures are graphic and not for children...

Julie, taken by Darcy Padilla

January's Debut

back to school. back to piano lessons. back to dance. sick again. goodbye cubscouts, hello young womens. goodbye webelos, hello primary. oliver starts basketball. chris travels to utah. still cold.

That crazy New Years tradition.

New Years morning we run outside in the snow... barefooted...

because we're cool like that.

In between blowing noses...

the kids found some cousin play time over the holiday's.

holiday sparkle

growing old

Last years birthday was a little different.  Three special gifts were bestowed upon me including... a large collection of never before recognized coarse grey hairs at the tippy top of my noggin... a failed my tooth fell out while eating holiday i need a I might as well be the Fixadent mascot... and finally a long hair appeared on my chin.  We're not talking about some wussy peach fuzz.  We're talking about Nanny McPhee proportions, growing out ready to shake your hand hair.  I just love growing older.  My rad sisters got cupcakes and a freaky clown pinata to brighten the day... so I took out my crazy old lady frustrations on that thang.  In the evening Chris and I went to a sexy Jazz basketball game.  I keep telling myself that I won't be one of those women who are all coy and mysterious about their age when people question them about how old they are... 28, thanks for asking. (sets teeth in glass of water)

eve pj's

Can you guess which child is presently the most challenging?
Perhaps the solemn one with the weapon.

"the magic" of the season

The magical snapshots of my children Christmas morning are somewhere on some memory card under some couch in some garbage can or some toy bucket.  Really I swear, for 2011 I am going to get my act together... but in the meantime, my sisters have very generously let me borrow their soul snappers, and trust me, the following pictures are sooo worth it.  I present to you "the OTHER magic"... Ugly Pajamas and The Brotherhood Mustache Contest.  These photos are not for the faint hearted... you've been warned.
-part one...ugly pajamas-

-part two... 'stache-

crust on my bread.