Baptismal Birthday

Lacy Gayle turned eight.
It came without much warning, sneaking up on me right after Christmas. Lacy’s life seems to be flying past me too quickly. Her first few months, ironically, seemed to last a lifetime. Her seven hour screaming fits made each minute feel like a lifetime… I never thought as a new mother, never really thought, that Lacy would grow up and become such a separate person from me.
I need more time.
I keep telling her, but she just laughs and laughs. She laughs almost as much as she used to scream, actually.
Her little giggles are so contagious. I despise the clock, knowing her giggles will soon grow up and away from me. My battle against time is waged on the home font, on my insides. I’m working hard on enjoying what’s in front of me, my present.
I worked to be present on Lacy’s birthday, but boy. It was hard. Seeing her in a beautiful white dress reminded me all at once of her blessing day as an infant and the potential she has to wear white as a young woman… And it was super special and super crappy.
Lacy, you must stop growing.
Planning her baptism reminded me at how unpolished my planning skills are.
I once had a teacher say to me, “poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.”
Haunting little ditty.
I wrote out Lacy’s program, designed it (it took me hours, but it’s the simplest thing), and promptly forgot to ask the names on it if they’d be willing to do the jobs printed neatly next to them.
Thank goodness they were all available and willing.
My computer crashed after I designed the program. Of course it did.
Days before, I’d gone to order a birthday dress for Lacy. On etsy, I found a beautiful jersey 3/4 length sleeve, heavy on the twirl. It was chic, classy, not a typical dress but timeless. It would look at home at a baptism and an afternoon picnic.
“Lacy, look…”
“Yeah, it’s nice.” Lacy shrugged. Shrugging is never a positive thing.
“Not what you’re looking for?” I asked.
“Well, I just thought more decoration on top… And like poof on bottom.” delivered a thirty dollar dress to us two days before her baptism. Two days.
This is also about the time I texted out invites to important people I’d forgotten to invite earlier *head slap*
Who lets me plan things, anyway?
Lacy and I pulled together an hour after her dress was picked up from the post office and we whipped up a quick photo shoot in enough time for me to edit the pictures and order a few for the table display outside the door.
I don’t tend to fuss too much over perfection or planning, so we just plunked her down in her home element… On my bed, outside by the barn. I let her use an old Book of Mormon with my great grandmother’s handwriting in it.
She insisted on her CTR ring showing as frequently as was possible:image
Of course my camera died, so I used my phone. There wasn’t enough time to charge my camera before the good sunsetty light would be gone. So we made do.
I auto enhanced the photos as bet I could, downloaded them to my iPad from my online back up storage space, and the ordered prints through and almost broke my iPad through it all.  I don’t really get along well with touch screens.
Danny and I had bought fixings for a potato bar earlier in the week, but I needed some ice cream and a few extra items.  We made a dash to the store to pick up the pictures, the ice cream, the cake mix… and then we raced home in enough time to speed clean before family arrived.
(what pink potty in the middle of the living room? I don’t see anything…)
The double running stroller was effectively stashed in my room… along with the clothes, the boxes, the shoes, the “Mom, where do we put this?”s…
“On my bed, baby. Just put it on my bed.”
(I slept on the futon that night. I regret nothing.)

We made the cake at 9:30 pm that night.
“I want mix mix mix, Lace. I want.”

I woke up early on Sunday and rolled out my last-minute magic… the same magic I whipped out in high school and college the night before a big project was due.
I wrapped potatoes in foil and started crying.
When did Lacy turn EIGHT?
I did not sign up for THIS.

A song came to mind, and the tears flowed, flowed, flowed and I knew it had to be played at her baptism. And hey! It could be! Because (surprise!) I hadn’t squared away the intermission time between Lacy’s baptism and her confirmation yet.
I found the video, Danny watched it and our friend took care of the downloading and projecting. It was perfect, and I’m so grateful.

As I baked potatoes, Lacy took a bath and then decorated her cake.
“I want a little 8 in every corner, a BIG 8 in the middle and some CTRs around… and like ALL of my CTR rings like stuck in the cake!”
“And now sprinkles…”
“It’s a little messy in the middle, Mom,” she sighed. It looked perfect to me. She loves to take the reigns on stuff like this, and I love letting her because hey! more time for me to get stuff done.

I had actually invited guests to a potato bar luncheon at my grandmother’s house without asking my grandmother first. She said yes when I did finally ask, though, because she’s pretty saintly. That morning, I made a list of toppings and pulled out my serving bowls. I said a prayer over what I’d bought -that it would be enough, and if it wasn’t that it would miraculously multiply not unlike loaves of bread and fishes.
Then I dried Lacy’s hair and put it up in rollers while Danny made a special birthday breakfast: bacon, eggs, grits, and orange juice.
“Mom, um, you’re not leaving those in Lacy’s hair, right? Because she looks like an alien…”
“They’re the new cool thing, Trent. Of COURSE I’m leaving them in.”
“If they’re so cool, why aren’t YOU wearing them, Mom? They’re hurting my head.”
They think they’re so smart.

Once her curlers were out, she got in her dress and slipped into the shoes Sue Ann gave her. Sue Ann used to be Lacy’s Primary Teacher, and is always so thoughtful about Lacy’s important days. These shoes were the highlight of Lacy’s outfit.
“These are the ONES, Mom,” she said, “The ones I tried to show you at Wal-Mart but you were all, ‘Lace, come on… let’s GO’ but now here they are! It’s magic!”

She slipped her pretty dress on, and my goodness… she glowed beautifully which means I just cried more. We’re a family of feelers.
“Pretty twirl!” Alice cried out, “Oh… Lace. A Pretty Twirl. Want it?” Pretty twirls, as you might have now guessed, are pretty dresses. Luckily I had one of Lacy’s old dresses hanging in the closet (see there IS GOOD that comes from not keeping up on clothing rotation. Sometimes there is):

Trent didn’t want to take a picture in a pretty twirl. Probably because he assumed it meant getting alien hair and sparkling shoes, and he’s just rather NOT. We went off to church… Lacy with her new dress, new scriptures and a bright smile.

Danny and I skipped out on church early to set up the luncheon. We meant to take Alice with us, but we forgot. My aunt Julie brought Lacy and Trent to the luncheon, and pretty soon Danny’s phone rang. It was my brother who serves in the Bishopric. He just wanted to know if we planned on picking Alice up from nursery?
*head slap*
My Aunt Ruth and Uncle Gary brought her, and for the 58th time that day, I said, “It takes a village…”

We ended up having enough food -JUST enough, and then we went to set up for the baptism.

I didn’t plan out a table display perfectly, but figured I’d keep my options open, you know, until five minutes before the baptism would start. It worked out pretty well…
I brought a doily my great-grandmother crocheted… I like to think she saw it.
I put it next to the book I worked for HOURS to make for Lacy. It came in the mail in time (three days before the baptism). Chairs were set up, Lacy’s hair was braided, prelude music was played, and Lacy maintained a steady glow through it all:
Her Dad and I worked hard to not make eye contact because we all fuel each other’s FEELER tears.
Before her baptism, as her PaPa talked to her about baptism, he cried and she almost cried. As I helped her out of the baptism font, out of wet clothes and back into her Pretty Twirl, she confessed she’d almost cried before her Dad put her under the water.
“But I pushed it down,” she shivered. As she dressed she muttered, “All washed away…” It was so sweet -SHE is so sweet.
When the Bishop asked her how she felt after her baptism, she grinned, “Better.”

What a wonderful, simple one-word sum-up of how we all feel when the Savior’s Atoning Sacrifice is applied to our lives.

Lacy’s baptism was such a wonderful experience. There was so much love, so much family -the Spirit was very strong. Seeing my sweet 8 year old (WAH) feel the Spirit touched me. I remember having the giggles at my baptism, but Lacy has a better grasp of the step she took on Sunday.
It was truly special to see her get baptized in the same font I was.

I watched her stay up late and journal her feelings in several of the journals she was generously given.
“I am now a member of my Savior’s church,” she wrote.

One journal asked specific questions.
“What did your parents do to prepare for your baptism?” it prompted.
“Set up chairs,” she wrote.

Someday, Lacy… someday far away I’ll show you this blog post and we’ll laugh together about how Mom isn’t the best planner, organizer or anything but how it doesn’t matter.
Because what happened is what needed to happen.
And we all feel better.

New Year, Real Year

Hello, 2015.

We rang you in with a reality bang. You gave us a few inches of perfectly powdery snow -an almost poetic symbol of a clean sheet. We spent 4 billion hours dressing the children appropriately to bask in the winter wonderment which they DID

… for 20 minutes which is long enough to snap a few pictures and become totally disenchanted with the idea of a clean sheet.
New leaves and clean sheets always hold more splendor in the first twenty minutes… after the enchantment comes reality.

Our reality check came in the form of a toddler begging to build a snowman but running a 102.5 fever.
“A ‘noman?” her big, hopeful blue eyes would look up at her Dad.
“Honey,” he’d get down to her eye level, “I’m sorry, but we can’t, okay?  You’re SICK.”
Bottom lip Protrude.
Crocodile Tears Shower.
Tiny Shoulders Fall.
Big Daddy Break.

We wrapped her up tight, tight and took her outside where she became VERY angry with the snow for being COLD (the AUDACITY of NATURE -as a woman, I fully get behind her indignation), and she fell asleep against my chest. I wrapped my heavy coat around her and took a short walk in the setting sun.
Once inside, she woke up while I rocked her in the recliner and then she THREW up, coating me with an entirely different kind of sheet which was neither fresh or new.
Same old, same old reality.

Because she couldn’t build her ‘noman, we did the next best and outfitted her in warm Elsa and Ana feety PJs and gave her a bottle with chamomile tea.
So that starts our list.
Everything Alice Needs When Feverish and Bossy:
1) Elsa
2) Bottle
3) Sibling Support (“want Lace. want Twent.”)
4) A Dad
5) …with ears
6) A Dog

I’m sure I’m on that list. After all, someone needs to clean up the mess. Catch the mess? Either way, I’m here for you, child.

While the kids did their best to force the powdery snow to pack (so disappointing), I stayed inside and whipped up a fancy gluten-free substitution for my Mom’s orange rolls. I used my gluten free pancake mix, added some full-pulp orange juice to the batter and topped them off with some orange syrup. And there was much joy and rejoicing because it DID the trick! My hunger for her orange rolls was satisfied. We ate warm ham and fresh pineapple with our pancakes.
We ate from REAL plates (even though I had Styrofoam! check me out) and drank Martinelli because our kids like fancy things.

We rejoiced over the fresh snow on a holiday because it meant we could all stay home and stay close.
We rejoiced over the hot chocolate mixes on our counter because it meant we could treat ourselves on a snow holiday.
We even rejoiced over the sick baby because it meant quarantine, and there’s beauty in quarantines when your house is full of free time, new toys, and yummy food and no sharing. Ha!

I don’t know if your New Year’s Day looked like ours in some way… if you mentally prepped yourself to bask in a clean sheet. Maybe you did. Maybe you ARE. Maybe you’re still prepping, maybe you’re basking. Maybe you’ve been hit with reality. Maybe you’ve let go of the idea of clean sheets on January 1st and embrace them whenever they show up.
I don’t always make New Year’s Resolutions myself. This year I did. I’ll tell you about it in a second.
But first:

A few years ago, I made a New Year’s Resolution to read three positive wikipedia articles when I said something negative about someone else. Genius, right? You can’t remove an old habit and NOT replace it with something wonderful, right? Otherwise you’ll just be left with a gigantic empty holey vacuum in your soul, right? And that’s scary, right?
I understood this principle, yes I did. Because I read a lot of self-help articles written by intellectuals.

I was diligent and so virtuous about the whole thing. Really, I was. Each wikipedia article I read doused me with everything healthy for me: guilt, shame, a wrist slap, and a healthy education. I had successfully enrolled myself in Boot Straps Boot Camp.
Any pain aimed at me could and would be thwarted with my muscles. My bootstraps! My big girl panties!
All around me were people who WEREN’T pulling themselves up, and I would judge them. WHY? Why weren’t they pulling themselves together? Didn’t they know about the self-help articles? On occasion I would send them a few, just for good measure and to put another gold star on my mental Good Turn Daily chart. Then I’d mentally fold my mental chart up, put it away and move right along to judgement.
This is where my New Year’s Resolution came into high play.
I’d begin to give voice to my judgments, hate what I heard coming out of my own mouth and punish myself. Checks and balances, friends. It’s an age-old system that works political wonders.

I will tell you that after my Boot Straps Boot Camp came my fire.
I am here to tell you that the past 18 months of my life have been a baptism by fire. I found myself somewhere in that inexplicable corner of the universe where my emotional pain morphed into physical pain.
My heart, though it seemed safely encased in the cavity of my chest, felt as if it were bleeding out in my hands.
That’s what addiction does.

I’ve heard addicts say their choices only affected them. But I know someone (because I kind of know myself a little better now) who walked around life for years with her bleeding heart in her hands and on her sleeve and can tell you that it’s just not true.
My husband’s addiction obliterated me.

I know now that addiction isn’t about choice. It isn’t even really about substance.
I remember curling up one day when I couldn’t face the pain of my life and binge watching, “My Strange Addiction” and saw person after person consumed with the same behaviors I witnessed in my husband. It doesn’t matter WHAT the substance is… if there’s a God-hunger, the means and methods and behaviors that go along with filling it are textbook. How harrowing my judgement had become -how deeply rooted, how scathing -so much aimed at my husband.
But the more I bled out and the more the fire burned, the more I realized I, II… needed God. My God-hunger was simply being filled in other ways: pride, judgement, big girl panties.
I was my own Savior, I had no want.

But could I save my own bleeding heart? Could I fix or medicate the pain that flowed through me as I walked through life surrounded by people who couldn’t see my soul wreck?
Everything I once judged my neighbors for… everything I disapproved of… I DID.
I broke in that fire.
My boot straps, big girl panties, and self-help books burned FIERCELY.

Saying, “It really hurt” is honest but insufficient.

This year I don’t resolve to lose weight or get fit. I don’t resolve to eat more greens. I don’t resolve to give more service. I don’t resolve to clean more or organize my closet or read more books or read less books.

What DO I resolve to do?
I’m going to
(oh my goodness, are you ready for this?)
make a family cookbook.

Why? Because God wants me to. I feel prompted to make a cookbook filled with pictures and family quotes and things that bring me true joy. I’m having a blast, taking it slowly (my computer died again), and getting some creative ideas. I’ve titled it, “Grilling Grandma.” It will be Lacy’s dowry.

But really -when I say my New Year’s Resolution is to write a cookbook, what I’m saying in essence is that my New Year’s Resolution is to stand in the middle of life’s fire and tap into God’s incomparable offering of grace: let the fire burn my man-made defenses… pride, intellect, will! As my layers burn to ashes at my feet, the refining fire polishes my core, my center! And in that fire, I find serenity. I find calm. I find God’s will, God’s firmly gentle hand.

I find myself.
I find cookbooks.
I find life’s mess.
I find love.

If I could offer anything to you this brand new year, it would be love.

Would I need self-help with love? Would I need green drinks and Jillian Michaels and thick textbooks to FORCE MYSELF to BE BETTER so I would finally, finally LOVE MYSELF?
For when I love myself, there is health. Therein is abundance.
Surprisingly, therein is imperfection.

I highly, highly recommend this book and I don’t highly recommend any self-help books, so it’s kind of a big deal for me:

And for all the mess, reality is worth it:

Christmas Short VII -A Photo Finale







orangefood - Copy

1225141148 - Copy








And just in case your heart is as cold as your ears this morning, here’s a picture of a true cowboy putting tiny pink cowgirl boots on his great-grandgirl. Cue heart melt.

Christmas Short VI

Did anyone else have a table that looked like this after Christmas?


And that’s AFTER we’d cleaned up.  At least our living room was manageable, so what better place to eat, right?  Picnic time.



Thank goodness for the sheet because of course the Egg Nog ended up on end.  After cleaning dinner up, we turned a movie on.  While everyone was absorbed in the screen, I noticed that Alice was missing and QUIET. I immediately perked up and did a quick scan of the room.

I found her in no time, quietly cooing to the “okay to play with and break” Nativity set.  She was facing everyone toward the Christ Child:


Such a tender moment, such a wonderful reminder. Is there really anything sweeter than a child?

Christmas Short V

Every year, a few of us gather in the old “red room” of my great-grandma’s old house.  We’re one of those lucky families who happen to be related to the people living in our great-grandparent’s old home, and though Aunt Cat let go of the “red room” carpet, we all still feel right at home.  As I play Aunt Cat’s old piano, I can remember sitting in that same room years ago staring at my great-grandmother’s collection of porcelain shoes.

Oh, how I wanted one.  Each time I’d ask for one -as children tend to do -she’d always give the same answer, “When I’m dead… you can have them.”
As a child -and as children tend to do -I mentally fist pumped. Her words brought me some kind of hope that SOMEDAY the shoes WOULD be mine. Of course when the day came that she did pass away, I didn’t think once about her shoes. A few weeks later, her daughter-in-law offered me my pick of her shoes, and I wanted so badly to get *just* the right one. I didn’t want to regret my choice.
I was 12 at the time and though a few years had passed since Nunna promised me her entire collection (which I’m sure she promised to most all of the grand kids who asked), I could vividly remember the thrill of the idea: owning one of her shoes.
I could grasp the sentimentality attached to the gleaming porcelain and knew that taking a shoe meant taking a piece of the red room with me for the rest of my own life.  But which one?
I reached out and took her Christmas Shoe, and as I held it between my hands I resolved that though Nunna’s collection was being pieced out -as it should have been -I would one day have my own collection.

I never do put that shoe away -it stays out in display all the year ’round, just like Nunna kept it. During the Christmas season, I do give it front row seating in some place or another. This year it was on the piano. I think it feels more at home near a piano.
It gained two new friends this year, and here is one of them:

Danny bought that one for my stocking. It’s the second one he’s added this year alone. At Disneyland, I bought myself a Mary Poppins themed shoe and was so thrilled with it, but not as thrilled as I was with the shoe Danny gave me on our 10th anniversary (which we spent at Disneyland with the kiddos).
It was closing time, and I was putting a jacket on Alice in front of the carousel, near the sword in the stone, when I felt a tug on my pant leg. I turned around to find Danny on one knee, holding up a beautiful decorative pillow with a small box on top: the box contained a small glass Cinderella slipper. Here’s a picture of my shoes (shakin’ off dust -that’s why there’s so much of it) and you can see my Mary Poppins shoe right next to my Cinderella glass slipper:

A wonderful, unforgettable gift that touched me deeply.
It’s amazing how something so small can bring me back to that quiet red room. It isn’t quiet anymore -at least, not when we get together for our annual Christmas sing-off. Sing along? I don’t know… sing-off seems more appropriate.
I didn’t get many pictures, so I stole a few of Aunt Cat’s :)
I will never get tired of putting my Alice in Nunna-Alice’s things… and parlors.
Here she is kissing her “great JuJu” (great aunt Julie’s nickname coined by Lacy).

Aunt Cat brought a lot of bright and light into the old parlor, and it makes a cheery setting for us all.
And yes, this is Grandpa’s cheery face. Don’t let him fool you.
Though we all know Grandpa’s at his cheeriest when he’s reliving nap time on his Old Home Day Bed:
That man… he truly is the very best.

And now I’ll tell you how his wife and MY very own grandmother gave me a sleeve for Christmas.

Truth be told, I don’t think Grandma had any idea what she brought to the white elephant gift exchange… Aunt JuJu usually fixes her up with something classy. Like a tat sleeve.

That night we came home pretty festive with a few new hats, a few new toys, and a few good memories. All we missed were a few good people: those who helped build the beautiful parlor and those who have always helped fill it (here’s lookin’ at you, Steve).

Christmas Short IV -The Nativity

The weekend of December 13th, we gathered at Danny’s sisters house and made a wonderful kind of merry.  We dressed up all the grandkids Nativity-style, ate some amazing food, unwrapped gifts, and listened to Grandma Hoopes read a story to the grandkids.

The kids were all sporting red shirts in honor of Operation Christmas Child Box.

Lacy was Mary, and her cousin, Brayden, was Joseph.

1213141930We had a full cast of shepherds, wise men, baby Jesus, and an angel!
Alice made the cutest little shepherd, but she hated the get up and gig.

After we snapped some cute pictures of the kids, we all gathered around Grandma Hoopes as she read her traditional Christmas story:
This year Grandma got to read from an iPad which came in handy because we couldn’t find the story in printed form.

We lined them all up oldest to youngest to exchange their presents from cousins.

The kids had a blast playing with their new toys, and we wrapped up the night by gathering up our family with Danny’s sister’s family to watch, “Christmas Oranges” and the kids now have a new most-hated movie. Kids have just the right balance of compassion and indignation to really mess up a mean school marm UP.
“This is NOT a fair movie.” ~Lacy Deets
I wish I was better at editing movie clips, but I’m not… so there’s a few dull moments but I truly love this video… especially the angel.

But it was all worth it WHEN:


Christmas Short III

0101151025cHappy New Year!  We went to sleep and woke up to snow!
To celebrate New Year’s Eve, we made homemade sushi and read Dr. Seuss and drank Retro Soda and then the kids decked themselves out appropriately to play in the snow. Minutes after going outside, calamity struck in the form of Lacy pelting Trenton in the face with a snowball.
He choked on it, gagged and then barfed.
Lacy felt horrible about it and Trent will probably not eat sushi for a very long time.
So, how was your New Year’s Eve?
Today’s Christmas short involves one of my favorite Christmas movies, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Are you familiar with it? With George and Mary?

Danny isn’t the biggest fan of old movies, but I’ve converted him to a few. It’s a Wonderful Life is one we can watch over and over.
Danny’s favorite part:
wonderful-life-meme-generator-why-don-t-you-stop-annoying-people-866270I don’t have a favorite.  And by that I mean, there’s not enough room in a post that uses the word “short” in it’s title to post every one of my favorite parts of It’s a Wonderful Life, so I’ll just focus on the one this post is actually about:

thChristmas morning, we unwrapped presents one by one.  Danny was in charge of who got what present and when… he was being pretty fussy about it.  I couldn’t figure out why until my turn came to open a present and he handed me a tiny lego man with twine tied to his hand:

Danny told me to pull on the twine, and as I did, I could see it was coiled up and attached to a gift:

Inside the present was a necklace with a note:Mooncollage

Trent saw it and did his best George Bailey impressions, “Whaddaya want, do ya want the moon, Mary?”
And I gotta say, it was pretty dead on.

For Christmas, I was given a lassoed moon.  That makes life pretty wonderful in my book.

0101151025d(“Alice, no -stay!  Go back, we’re taking a picture!  SMILE!  Look at Mom!  Where’s Mom’s nose? Look at me, Alice! ALICE!  Oh, I give up…”)