"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I think every day when I look at our girl, how nearly she almost wasn't.  

There's an emotional version tucked away in a pen and paper journal in my top dresser drawer but here’s the once upon a time of it, minus the emotional flood in the moments.

At begins with a routine visit to a doctor and a sheepish revelation that we wanted yet another baby. (Let’s face it, when you already have five, they do start to look at you like you’re irresponsibly keeping them in business.)  A routine exam.  A not so routine call the next morning.  An outpatient surgery.  Another exam.  Another unhappy phone call.  Another surgery and a question.  Can we still have another baby?

When that first stick answered yes, I saw the end from the beginning.  What mother doesn’t?

Then the loss and the tears as my husband put his arm around me with quiet reassurances that he didn’t feel our family complete either. 

And we waited.

When that next stick said yes, I was excited but cautious.  I think I was realizing how for granted I'd taken five easy pregnancies and births.

Losing that first gave cause for routine ultrasounds with the second.  I watched heart grow to head, fingers and toes bloom, kicking feet and thumbs to mouths.   At a routine ultrasound, I prattled on about mindless nonsense until my senses told me everyone in the room had stopped moving.  That whirring motor of a heartbeat whirred no longer.

The rest is a sickening daze.  One, I think every mother who has experienced, never quite forgets or fully overcomes.

Politely downcast eyes from exit secretaries who were joyful greeters on entry.  Hospital preparations feeling too familiar to ones with happy endings.  Quiet, dark nights of healing without a bedside bassinet to ease the pains.

This time, we decided it might be time to close the books after all.  Perhaps our feelings of not being complete meant we had this trial to face.  Perhaps post-surgery, I'd not be able to carry to term after all. I had five beautiful, healthy children.  Each a bigger miracle than I'd ever expected before I'd stared life's fragility full in the face.  Time to let it go.  Time to move on.

So … when surprise stick number three said yes, I was fearful.  I closed off without expectations.  One pregnancy problem after another presented and I braced myself for the worst.  When it all hit home that this was in reality, going to happen, I started taking things in stride.  And then my stride was a little too fast and she decided not to hold on for the ride.

It wasn’t the kind of birthday where everyone gathers around with smiles and excitement that today a mother is going to get to hold her baby.  It was a dark night with subdued lights and hushed voices and furrowed brows.

When I heard her cry, a loud healthy cry, I joined her like we’d both been pushed through the roughest moment of our lives  …  so far.  She was good.  Tiny but good.

Every day that I look into her warm and welcome smile, I think how close we came to living a life without her.  It wouldn't have been the same.  Not every mother has her happy ending, of that I'm fully aware.  She's healed the wounds of past hurts and yet, every day as I watch her it hurts to know that she is my ending.  If only those faltering steps would last, those chubby fingers, that easy laughter.  But that ache in my heart for another is frozen by the fear of all that can go awry.

On this anniversary of her birth, I'm so grateful she was sent to us.  To be ours for awhile.  To bring light to our home.  And to teach us the value of life.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dear Celia,

Whirl wind couple of weeks, huh?  Braces off, a week at girl's camp, and then today, flying off to Especially for Youth (EFY) at BYU less than twelve hours from your camp return.

We really missed you last week and will miss you this week even more.  Dad and I noted that usually when one person in a family is missing, everything seems a lot quieter.  Sadly ... you're not that person because it was not quieter without you.  It was, however, harder to survive each day without my right hand gal.

I hope your first solo flight on an airplane was exciting.  I could see the thrill of freedom written all over your face tonight.  Thanks for not getting frustrated with me as I nervously instructed you again, how to navigate the airport.  And thanks for not minding that I followed as far as security would let me go without a boarding pass.  And thanks for not being embarrassed when I called your name and blew a kiss as you disappeared to your gate.

Want to know something silly and motherly?  I cried all the way to Pena Boulevard.  Can you believe that?  As I watched you get lost in the crowd with your suitcase in hand, you were tall and beautiful and strikingly grown up and my heart nearly froze that in four short years, you'll fill a suitcase and leave us a little more permanently. "Too soon, it's too soon," my heart cried, "I won't be able to do this." and then I barely had time to escape to the car before the tidal wave if emotion hit me broadside.

Worse -- Uncle Joseph called my cellphone as I drove blurry visioned down the freeway.  He was full of stories about his one week old daughter and I blubbered at him to kiss her tons today because tomorrow he'd watch her get on an airplane full of confidence and poise and grace and be on her way to living a life all her own.  I'll bet he was confused.  I'll bet he wished he hadn't called.

I hope you have the time of your life this week, soaking in the spiritual messages from the classes you'll attend, enjoying the new friendships you'll make with other great youth, not to mention all the fun and excitement of staying on a college campus without a mom looking over your shoulder to make sure you are okay.

I want you to know, I think you are an amazing young woman.  Every moment as your mother, past and future, is priceless to me.  You have so many exciting times ahead of you in these next few years and it makes me glad to see that you are able to meet each experience head on, ready to tackle whatever comes next.  So ... pay no attention to my tearful rant ...  I'm proud of you, gal, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I love you and miss you and I hope I can stand hearing, "Is that Celia's airplane?" every time one passes overhead for an entire week!  Just know that we are thinking of you always.

Remember who you are and what you stand for.  All of my love,


Monday, June 27, 2011

Until next year

We'll say goodbye to the beach we love ...

and take our flag home for more "family fun in session".

Sunday, June 26, 2011


This is my nature girl.  Annie and I love to take in the beauty around us, where ever we are.  This place makes it easy.  

When I was a teenager, I took a school trip to an undeveloped beach where sand dollars were plentiful.  I collected an entire box.  Heading off to college, my mother was helping me dispose of stuff neither of us really wanted to store.  We took my box of sand dollars down to the beach.  Mom and I periodically took a perfect sand dollar and setting it in the ocean's edge, high tailed it back to our beach chairs to watch the show.  Unsuspecting combers would meander by, discover our treasure, and after excited examination, b-line up the coast to wave their find at family and friends.  It was a box-load of entertainment.

When Annie and I, beach combers extraordinaire, discovered our whole sand dollar in an evening tide pool -- a rare find on this beach -- you can bet I took a good look around for a planter in a chair privately enjoying the joke of making a vacationer's dreams come true.

Our finding made legitimate, we poured over it's perfection.  She's a girl after my own heart and in awe of each creation.   

Thursday, June 23, 2011


There are always too many vacation photos but never too many vacation memories.  Three week vacation and I'm loaded up with both.

Humidity hair.

Annie's fish and shrimp.  She's not squeamish at all.

Crabbing off the dock with dad.  One got loose and made Eliza scramble.

He cooks what we catch.

Teenage-ness setting in.  We teased her that if someone drowned, we'd make her wake up and save them since she was donning a lifeguard shirt and all.  She doesn't think we're funny anymore.  I remember the year I stopped thinking my parents were funny.

Body board wars with Dad.

And brotherly drownings.

Eliza's new favorite phrase, "I be right back!"  But she'd haul us out to the water's edge, then run back up the sand for a bucket, get distracted and not come back.  This is Celia turning the tables.

Sandcastle making.  Dad's are the best.  This one is home to Eliza's "sish".

Grant's "all you can eat" seafood buffet...

washed down by Mom's specialty drinks after a long day at the beach.

Early morning sisterly entertainment so that Moms and Dads can sleep in for a change.

A sneaky peak at sisterly evening entertainment so that Moms and Dads can go to bed early for a change. 

Last year, I stood with my father on the ocean front in pretty much the same spot that we set up camp every time we came to the beach as a family when I was a child and he said to me "This is where we raised a family."

A year later, I think about "this" and he is right.  Not this vacation spot, not even this beach but these moments, the ones where we put away the busyness of life that calls our attention from just enjoying being together  --- "this" is where we raise our families.