That's a lot of kids!

That's a lot of kids!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

"What's wrong with your face?!"


Today, while at the store with my kids, a lady worriedly asked me, "What's wrong with your face?!" I quickly replied that there was nothing 'wrong' and that I have a birthmark. She responded back with an, "Oh I'm sorry! It looked like a really bad bruise!" Why, thank you for that, stranger.

This is nothing new. I've heard this exact question along with several variations throughout my life. I tried to simply shake it off, as I have countless times before. After all, this woman meant no harm and I'm sure she was actually, legitimately concerned for my well being. Nevertheless, I was left feeling a little bit smaller than when I walked in.

I've had a port wine stain birthmark since...well, birth. It covers my entire right cheek and the right side of my chin. The dark red/purple discoloration comes from blood vessels and capillaries that never closed, hence the dark pigmentation.

As a child, I was asked on an almost daily basis: What was on my face? What happened to my face? What was wrong with my face? And, my favorite, Did I spill grape juice on my face?

I remember one day in the1st grade, our teacher lined up the girls in my class so a commercial producer could invite us to come to an audition. All the girls, except me, that is. He took one look at my mug and asked me to leave. Thankfully, I had an amazing mother who told me I was beautiful on a daily basis and I believed her. These kinds of comments, questions, and long glances rolled off my back and I never thought of myself as different or anything less than beautiful. As I approached my teenage years, however, I felt acutely aware. My Mom used to say my birthmark was a kiss from God, but like any good "Whoa is me!" teenager, I questioned why God would leave that particular mark on me.

Don't get me wrong, in many ways I'm grateful for my birthmark. For one, it has kept me (relatively) humble. My siblings might fight me on that one :-). It also etched in me a deep sense of empathy for those with any kind of dissimilarity. I realize a birthmark is a tiny problem in a world of gigantic trials but growing up with daily commentary regarding my unique appearance, a strong need to protect others from being teased or mistreated in any way was born.

When I was between the ages of 12-14, I went through several laser treatments with the intent of lightening my birthmark. These procedures made a marginal difference and between that and the discovery of makeup, the questions regarding my port wine stain dramatically decreased. I found that only on days when I was sans makeup, either too hot or cold, or exercising (temperature extremes and increased heart rate make my birthmark darker), I was rarely asked about it anymore.

Oddly enough, the longer I go without getting asked about my birthmark, the more difficult it is to swallow when a stranger brings it to light. Today the encounter left me feeling bothered and self conscious. That only leads to an irritation with myself for allowing something so trivial to gnaw at me. Why should it bother me if someone I will never see again has a problem with the pigmentation of my face? I wish I had an answer for that...

 However, instead of figuring out my irrational annoyance to today's events, I think I'll opt for offering some free advice (to all 5 of you who read my blog):

If you happen to see a stranger, acquaintance or friend that may appear in any way different, either a) Say absolutely nothing b) Run away or c) Try not to phrase the question in an accusatory or negative tone, as if that person should be ashamed or concerned about whatever the anomaly is.

Because, at the end of the day, we're all human. In my experience, humans tend to get their feelings hurt when reminded of their imperfections. I for one, like to live blissfully unaware of the many, MANY ways perfection escapes me. Life is just more enjoyable that way. So, please pass me the chocolate and never, ever ask me what is wrong with my face. You might not like the answer.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Life lessons from a hysterectomy

Two weeks ago today I had surgery. A total laparoscopic hysterectomy, to be exact. A pretty weird thing for a 33 year old woman to go through. Of course, most 33 year olds haven't already had 4 babies take up residence in their uterus. Apparently that's all mine could take before letting me know, in no uncertain terms, for the past 3 years, that it was DONE! After baby #4, my husband and I agreed we were done having children. My body was tapped out and so was my sanity. Even with this knowledge and steps we took to insure that decision, there was something so final about deciding to go through with this surgery. It meant that I really, REALLY would never give birth to another child, never have another baby to hold in my arms and rock to sleep. Logically, I already knew this decision had been made but it was still difficult to accept the finality this surgery would insure. On top of that, I had both rational and irrational fears of having any type of surgery and worried constantly about what could go wrong. I even wrote letters to my husband and children in the unlikely scenario that the surgery went awry. However the date came and went and in the few short hours that the surgery lasted and I came to, I found my worries to be unnecessary. With all the decisions and fears behind me, now came the easy part. I just had to heal...

Not so easy, as it turns out. I've learned in the last couple weeks that this is a long and difficult healing process. In my mind I told myself it would be easier for me because of my age and good health. Well, apparently, taking out organs is kind of a big deal, no matter your age. Huh. Who would have thought. And I'm finding it difficult to not be where I want to be at this point of recovery. It's hard to accept that this is going to take longer than I anticipated and also difficult to accept the help I need as a result of that. I would much rather do the helping than be helped myself. I sit by and watch others taking over my tasks and doing the things "I should be doing" and it evokes guilt in me. Even though I know it's misplaced and ridiculous, it's still there. Guilt could be my middle name. The first few days it wasn't that big of a deal. I was in a lot of  pain and on so many pain killers I didn't have enough strength to worry about what I couldn't do. As the worst days were behind me, however, I realized that getting back to "normal" was going to take time and a lot more help. And let me tell you, the help came! It came from all around me!

First and foremost, I've had the help of my husband who has been amazing! He's doing his job and mine on limited sleep and without complaining. He scolds me when I overdue it and constantly ensures that I am comfortable and the kids are taken care of. His willingness to do all he does for me and our family is a reminder of the kind, hardworking person he is and how lucky I am that he's my man!

I also had immense help from my mother-in-law, Kathy, who flew in to help all last week. I know where Randy gets his skills from; he had an extraordinary teacher! I was worried about the difficulty in letting her take over for me. I didn't want her to overwork herself and, once again, felt guilty that she would be doing "my job." I had to rely wholeheartedly on her (and her alone when Randy traveled for work). Not only did she act like it was no problem, she even required I give her an extra task everyday to accomplish around the house! Whether it was laundry or organizing my kitchen, she did it with no complaint and only desired to help more! I have always had a fantastic relationship with Kathy but the week we spent together, with her continually serving me and my family, our relationship grew.

My children have even made a valiant effort at helping out. They have been thoughtful in ways I didn't know they were capable of, from my middle schooler (who calls his Dad to tattle on me if I'm trying to do too much) down to my pre-schooler (who gives me kisses instead of hugs because she knows my tummy has an 'owie').

I have also received an outpouring of love and help from friends (both near and far) and members of my church. They have jumped in with both feet to help in anyway they can. Bringing me meals, watching my kids, running errands for me. Last week, I had a friend who refused to let me drop off or pick my kids up from school; she was handling it! Today, I was feeling lousy and as I went to pick up my youngest from preschool I saw a friend of mine from church, whose daughter also attends the school. She told me she was going to take Kennedy home with her for a few hours so I could get some more rest. I almost started bawling there on the spot. (My ovaries are definitely intact as proven by my irrational hormones that make me cry on cue). Another friend dropped her off and informed me that between them they were planning to take turns picking my daughter up for the next few weeks. No arguing allowed. This was followed shortly by a get well package that arrived in the mail from my dear friends in NY, full of my favorite treats, from my favorite places, from two of my favorite people. It was the perfect pick-me-up on a day when I've felt being "myself" again seems too far into the future.

There have been packages, flowers, phone calls, texts and an endless array of family and friends that want to be there for me every step of the way. There was a phone call to my sister, when words failed and my language of choice became tears. She simply listened and loved, as is her way, just what I needed at that moment. I've been amazed and touched by the outpouring of love I've received!

These simple yet profound acts of kindness remind me how much good there is in the world. Sometimes it's easy to forget but I look around and I'm surrounded by it! As others reach out and serve, my love for them grows. Maybe that's why we need times like this, when we are required to lean on others for support and allow them to serve us. It ignites trust, love and respect in a more profound way than day to day normalcy allows. Not only that, it's a reminder of how much there is to be thankful for. Right now, I am brim full of gratitude! Even though the last couple weeks have been difficult- not to be active (oh how I miss running!) and not to be able to fulfill my duties as a mother, wife, and friend- it's been a profound learning experience. I've learned to appreciate the wonderful and amazing people in my life. I'm beyond blessed and I plan on reminding myself of that. Everyday. When you open your eyes to the goodness around you, you start recognizing it everywhere. As for me, I've been infiltrated and overwhelmed with that goodness and love these past weeks. I just wish I could return it and share it. Thank you doesn't seem enough but I guess it will have to do. For now, at least.

This quote summed up my feelings perfectly:

“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it's wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia    

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Thanks Mom!

Every Christmas since I can remember my Mom would buy a special book that we would read as a family on Christmas Eve. Most of the time it was a Christmas themed book but sometimes it was just an uplifting tale. Even after we married and moved away, we still received the family Christmas book each year. It was a wonderful tradition and every year we would look forward to our new book and the special message my mom would write in the front cover. The last Christmas before she passed, she gave us each a book titled, "Wherever you are, my love will find you" by Nancy Tillman.

It's a beautiful book but one I haven't read all that often. I'm not sure if it's because it was the special Christmas book or because it was the last of these from my Mom, but whatever the reason it's lied dormant on the bookshelf. I actually haven't seen or thought of the book in quite some time. Tonight, however, as I was putting my daughter to sleep, it was lying on her bedroom floor. She has never once cared for or wanted to read this book. Ever. Until tonight. And as I sat next to and read it to her, on the anniversary of my mother's death, I couldn't help feeling like it was a special gift and message directly from my Mom to us. A tender mercy. Here are the words of the book:

I wanted you more than you will ever know, so I sent love to follow wherever you go.
It's high as you wish it, it's quick as an elf, you'll never outgrow it. It stretches itself.
So climb any mountain, climb up to the sky, my love will find you, my love can fly.
Make a big splash, go out on a limb, my love will find you, my love can swim.
It never gets lost, never fades, never ends. If you're working, or playing, or sitting with friends.
You can dance 'til you're dizzy, paint 'til you're blue, there's no place, not one that my love can't find you.
And if someday you're lonely or someday you're sad, or you strike out at baseball or think you've been bad.
Just lift up your face, feel the wind in your hair, that's me, my sweet baby, my love is right there.
In the green of the grass, in the smell of the sea, in the clouds floating by, at the top of a tree.
In the sound crickets make at the end of the day, you are loved, you are loved, you are loved, they all say.
My love is so high and so wide and so deep, it's always right there, even when you're asleep.
So hold your head high and don't be afraid to march to the front of your own parade.
If you're still my small babe or you're all the way grown, my promise to you is you're never alone.
You are my angel, my darling, my star and my love will find you wherever you are.

Thank you, Mom, for telling me you love me and are there for me, even now.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Body Image

In a week and a half I am going to attempt my first marathon. Definitely a sentence I never expected to write. 4 years ago, I would have laughed in your face if you told me I was going to consider myself a runner let alone one that would attempt that 26.2 miles. Well, 4 years, a whole lot of miles and running shoes later, here I am, prepping for the seemingly impossible.

Why I do this whole running thing is a conversation for another blog. Today I want to write about what has been going through my mind through many of my long, lonely runs when the only conversations I have are with myself. It's interesting how many of life's great questions get asked and answered when I have time alone with my head and my endorphins.

One of the those one sided conversations has been about body image and not for the reasons you may think. Not because I'm out there trying to look amazing but rather because as my body gets pushed to its limits and does things I never imagined it could, I have developed a profound reverence and respect for my healthy body and for all the things it has and continues to do. This newfound appreciation has made it difficult for me to watch as other women and friends condemn their beautiful bodies and their envisioned imperfections. Not to say that I am immune from these same condemnations but I feel a change in me as of late.

I think about the women in my life who are most beautiful to me. I think they are stunning and they manage to become more beautiful every time I am around them, not because they are supermodels but because they are unique, strong, and have (sorry for the cliché) a beauty within. These are the women I try to emulate, the women I hope to be like someday.

Maybe it's because I have a daughter now that I feel my eyes have been opened to how truly difficult it is for a girl/woman in this world to feel good about themselves when everywhere you turn there are images of gorgeous physiques, flawless cheekbones, petite noses, giant breasts, and so on and so forth. How are we supposed to ever feel like enough surrounded by all of that?

I have a dear friend, who is one of the most beautiful women I have ever known. She has both a gorgeous countenance and a fabulous figure but if you were to ask her how she feels about her appearance, you would be shocked. There is nothing she admires about herself! I have spoken with her many times about how this saddens me. She is so busy searching for perfection that she can't see what is literally right in front of her reflection. There are so many of us out there in that same boat who can't see beyond their imperfections (I definitely have my moments) and I wish we could take a step back and be grateful for the beautiful women God made us! We are not intended to look the same. We are supposed to be shaped differently. How boring would it be if we all looked like Heidi Klum? Well...maybe not the best example but you get my point.

So what if we are getting older. I'm pretty sure the circle of life includes us aging. It's difficult to feel like we are allowed to age when we are inundated with magazines poking fun at women who, shockingly, look their age. Not to mention if  you've had kids, you're body is not allowed to change. Really??? I was running with a friend awhile back and we were discussing her struggles with fertility and her choice to adopt. I mentioned to her that the silver lining was she didn't have any stretch marks. She looked at me and told me how jealous she was of my stretch marks because it was a trace of something her body was unable to do. Talk about a reality check. Thank you to that woman for helping me be grateful for the marks of motherhood instead of complaining about them. I have housed growing, little chillins' inside me for a total of 3 years, how can that not change you? Sure I miss my washboard abs, more slender hips, and perkier...everything but when I look at my 4 beautiful children I wouldn't trade that for the world.

Now by no means am I saying we shouldn't try to make ourselves better. Being active, eating better, and tying to look our best are all extremely important in feeling good about ourselves. I, for one, am addicted to the endorphins I get from exercising! I also love putting on makeup, heels and getting dressed up. They're the little things that make me feel beautiful!  I happen to also love chocolate and think life would be depressing without it. Sure if I stopped eating sweets I would probably be a little more trim. However at the end of my life I would rather have indulged in life's goodness than weigh a few pounds less. I guarantee no matter how much weight you lose, or surgery you have done, you won't be happy unless you can be grateful for what you already have. Life is too short to be constantly tearing ourselves down and wishing we looked like somebody else.

As most of you reading this know, I was born with a port wine stain birthmark covering most of my right cheek, chin, and the bottom of my mouth. I am grateful for a mother that taught me to embrace it. She told me it was a kiss from God and I believed her. She told me that I was beautiful outside and in and I believed her. Now that she has passed on, her words ring in my ears as I raise my daughter. I want nothing more for her than to be strong, proud, and to know that she is beautiful because she is an original. Aren't we all?

My husband says I only feel this way because I'm beautiful. Thank goodness he feels that way! Oddly enough the older I get, the more beautiful I feel. I'm not ashamed to say I'm beautiful and I'm going to start telling myself that everyday, not for vanity reasons but for gratitude and empowerment. Sure you won't see me on the cover of any magazines and that's perfectly fine with me. I've got this.

So do me a favor, look in the mirror and instead of nitpicking everything that's imperfect, tell yourself you're gorgeous and be grateful for the beauty that is so obviously there. We only get one body so we might as well be nice to it!

Monday, July 29, 2013


As I drive across the country, for the second time in a year, I can't help but reflect on the friendships I have made over the years. The friends that are now spread over this beautiful country; the friends that became family when my own family was far away. Please indulge my nostalgia here for a minute as I go back in time. 

It's been almost 9 years since we moved away from our families in Utah to venture out on our own. I still remember living in that first apartment in Rancho Cucamonga, 6 months pregnant, not knowing a soul and thinking we had made a terrible mistake. It was during this struggle that I met Nanda, a beautiful mother of 2, her oldest the same age as Lincoln, who happened to be my next door neighbor. We got to know each other and all hit it off immediately. I'm not sure she will ever know just how much I appreciated her friendship, especially during that difficult time. She helped me realize that I could not only handle living away from family but also enjoy new friendships along the way. From that point on, many other friendships blossomed, especially with members from my San Sevaine Ward (Nichole, Julie, Sarah, Amy). It was there I met my "BFF" Liz. She was one of those women I knew would be a forever friend! I'll never forget our crazy game nights and talking for hours. I know that however much time passes, she will always be there for me and we'll be able to pick up right where we left off! It was there I also met my twin, Sarah. We connected in so many ways and understood each other on a very deep level. I will always love her and appreciate her for her kindness and for our mutual understanding of each other!

Moving from Rancho to Victorville was difficult, especially because of the friendships I had made; I didn't know if I would be able to have those same kind of relationships somewhere else. It didn't take long to find my "people" (Chrissy, Dawn, Amy, Candace, Kelly, Yvonne, Carol, Maria, Amanda, Jaima) to name a few. Never in my life had I experienced such deep and profound relationships with a group of women! No matter what was going on around us, we made time for each other and relied on each other, like a big family! There wasn't anything we wouldn't do for each other. It would take pages to write about these amazing women individually but I am so grateful for all of the special memories we share together. When it was time to move, leaving Victorville was no problem, but leaving those women was the hardest thing I'd done since leaving my family back in Utah.

From there we had a short 3 month stint in Northern California. Even though it was ridiculously short, we had the kindest neighbors and ward members who welcomed us with open arms. There really are great people everywhere!
When we moved back to So Cal we had to live in Randy's hotel for a couple of months. While waiting to move into our new home, I began driving the kids back and forth to school everyday. Carter was in kindergarten and got out a few hours before Lincoln. Some of our new ward members found out about this and instead of letting me drive back and forth (30 minutes each way-with no traffic...) they made sure I had a place to hang out or go to each day before we got into our house! One lady I barely knew at the time, knowing that being holed up in a hotel with 3 boys while being 9 months pregnant was probably taking its toll, offered to watch my boys so I could get a pedicure and lunch by myself! If only she knew how much those couple of hours of freedom meant to me at the time! Christina,  Kristi and Amber are some of the most generous and kind women I've ever had the pleasure to know! Valencia was also a place where my children met some of their greatest friends. Jackson met his best buddy, Dax, which led to my friendship with Kayla and the Hasert family moved in across the street, which led to my friendship with Melissa. If only they could have stayed our neighbors forever! :-) And then when Lincoln came home one day begging for a play date with his new friend, Edison, I had no idea how great that friendship would be for both of us. Edison's Mom and I hit it off instantly and Jenny ended up being like a sister to me! Talk about a fiercely loyal friend! When she sat there for hours with me trying to keep me calm before a surgery, and then crying with me when my Mom passed away, I knew we would be friends for life! 
When it came time to part ways with California, I was excited but unsure of what New York would hold. Would people be accepting of this weirdo from California? It didn't take long to realize that people were a little different back east. As a whole, I felt like there was a very down-to-earth quality they had. There wasn't as much emphasis on having "things" (which made me a little worried that no one would accept my shoe addiction). However, they did accept me, with all of my faults and eccentricities. Tiffany Dunn understood my shoe feddish, Petra understood my California-ness, and Holly Frazee and Katie Sheffield were plain kindred spirits! I felt like I had known them my whole life. I'm a true believer that friends who run together are bonded forever! I absolutely loved my time in New York! It was far too short but I feel like I learned so much from the people I met and I will always be grateful for our time there! 
Now as I drive to our next destination, I'm a little nervous...

I didn't plan for my life to be this adventurous, at least not while raising children. Starting over in a new place is difficult. New school, new church, new doctors, and new friends. I think I'm beginning to see the silver lining in it, though. Life is short. You have to enjoy the journey and not worry so much about the destination. If I hadn't moved so much, I wouldn't have met the amazing people I have. The friendships I've made mean the world to me and I feel like each friend has taught me something different that, hopefully, has made me a better person. I feel so incredibly lucky to have rubbed shoulders with all of you, both those I've mentioned by name as well as those I haven't. Thank you. I will love you always!

"I've heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn and we are led to those who help us most to grow if we let them and we help them in return. Well I don't know if I believe that's true but I know I'm who I am today because I knew you... Like a comet pulled from orbit as it passes a sun, like a stream that meets a boulder halfway through the wood. Who can say if I've been changed for the better? But because I knew you, I have been changed for good" ~Wicked

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day. A day that stands out from childhood as a chance to make creative cards for Mom, make breakfast, wrap a gift or two, and have a nice meal. The day came and went and repeated each year.

As I grew into adulthood, I thought I realized how much my Mom really did for myself and my siblings and I put more thought into the cards, gifts, etc. Mother's Day had more meaning, because I appreciated what having a caring mother really meant and how lucky I was to have a great Mom.

When I became a mother for the first time, Mother's Day meant even more. I realized how much sacrifice went into being a mother. Motherhood meant literal, physical pain and putting your child's needs ahead of your own at all times. It meant sleepless nights, constant worry, being a nurse, cook, maid, confidante, enforcer and so much more. It also meant that I appreciated my mother's own sacrifices on a deeper level.

Today, Mother's Day was difficult; far more difficult than I expected. It was a reminder of the mother I can no longer give a card to, the one I cannot send flowers to, buy the perfect gift for or call up and chat with. The mother I can no longer give a hug to and tell her how much I love and appreciate her.

If she were here today I would tell her one thing. Well, sort of one thing. I would say thank you.

Thank you for teaching me kindness.

Thank you for teaching me to dig deep when I felt like giving up.

Thank you for showing me how to love unconditionally.

Thanks for being honest with me at all times, even when the truth was difficult to hear.

Thank you for putting your children before everything else in your life.

Thank you for teaching me that my inner beauty was far more important than what was on the outside.

Thanks for going to every activity I was ever in, ever, no matter how trivial.

Thank you for teaching me to sing and dance.

Thank you for teaching me to be modest.

Thanks for teaching me that nothing should ever get in the way of what you know is right.

Thank you for being passionate about what you love.

Thank you for teaching me good manners.

Thanks for teaching me that just because something was difficult didn't mean it wasn't worth fighting for.

Thank you for teaching me that I am a daughter of God.

Thank you for passing on your love of travel and adventure to me.

Thank you for having me, even against doctor's wishes.

Thanks for telling me that my birthmark was a kiss from God so I didn't feel so self conscious about it.

Thanks for being the best mother I could have ever asked for.

Thank you for fighting to stay alive for so many years, enduring so many illnesses and pain just to have more time with us and our children.

Thank you for being you.

Thank you, Mom. Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Little Moments

I just can't get my Mom off my mind today and I want to stop dwelling on how much I miss her and instead focus on the great life she lived and what she taught me. So I decided to write down little things I remember about this most amazing woman, who I luckily got to call, Mother.
I remember...

- twirling with her as a kid. Wherever we were: gorcery store, walking on the sidewalk, on the soccer field, at home. She would grab my hand and start spinning me around.

-she never missed any type of performance or activity I was involved in. Dance performances, choir concerts, oral reports, school trips...she was always there!

-having family prayer with her everynight. Even if we got home late from a date or activity, she made me wake her up and have prayer with her.

-when she scared my 2nd grade principal into apologizing to me after chewing me out over something silly. He never crossed her again!

-getting in massive trouble when she found out I kept ditching my English class my sophomore year to hang out with my boyfriend at the time. I was grounded for a loooonnngggg time!

-her also scaring my junior high choir teacher for accusing me of something serious that I did NOT do. I learned never to cross my mother unless you wanted her wrath!

-many, many road trips, especially the long ones back to upstate New York for the Hill Cumorah Pageant. We would sing, sing, and sing some more.

-I remember (also at the Hill Cumorah Pageant) confessing to her that I held hands with a boy for the first time. I thought she was going to be mad, instead she laughed at me.
-Telling me (and all my siblings) that she "loved our guts." She felt like if you could love someone's guts, that was true love!

-going to New York City multiple times and seeing Broadway musicals together. She fully supported my dream to become one of those crazy Broadway folks. Doesn't matter that it never happened; she believed in me.
-her carting 5 children to live with her in Paris, France for half a year while she studied there (this is even more amazing/crazy to me now that I have 4 of my own kids)!

-her taking us to museums all over the country and world. This led to my deep love of the artist, Renoir.

-her obsession with the symphony, opera, and ballet. I shared many symphony dates with my parents. The dates didn't mind because hanging with my Mom was pretty awesome!
-getting in "trouble" on our European tour after my senior year, because my chaperoning mother kept breaking all the rules by taking me and my friends to cooler places than the tour had set.

-going to see Celine Dion in London (also on the European tour) with her.  It would not have happened without her "breaking the rules" so I could see my favorite singer in concert. It was amazing!
-crying on her shoulder when Randy went on his mission.
-when we were in Manhatten and she saw a homeless man on a cold night. She took him by the hand and took him to get some warm food.
-fighting with her because she didn't want me to get married so young. (she later decided it was a good move).
-what a morning person she was. On Saturday mornings she would jump on my bed singing "Good morgin' to you!"

-telling her everytime we needed to have an "Ice Cream Party" (which was only 3 times for me). Yes, she also taught me not to give ice cream out to just anyone.
-seeing the ambulance while at the Hill Cumorah Pageant 15 years ago. I saw it and ran across the field; I had a bad feeling it was for her. It was the first time they took her to the hospital for her heart. Unfortunately not the last.
-watching her get ready when I was a kid. I thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world!

-the way she looked everytime she held one of my kids for the first time. Being a grandma was her favorite thing in the world.

-how whenever she would get bad news from a Dr. she would say, "but it's all going to get better".

-how I felt when she was too sick to make it out for Lincoln's baptism and Kennedy's baby blessing last year. It was the first time I accepted she might get more out of life by leaving this one.
-her love of all plants and flowers. She was always out in her garden, singing and talking to the plants. I, who kill plants just by looking at them, did not inherit her green thumb.
-when she taught me to stay home with my (future) kids. She was always sad she didn't get the opportunity to stay home with us and she really encouraged Tiff and me to do what we could to make that happen.
-hugging her for the last time. I held on for a long time, fearing it could be the last.