Saturday, March 3, 2018


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A dear friend of mine passed away this weekend.  I've been blessed to know her for over 25 years, and most of that time she's battled cancer. 

As I prayed for her family today, and thanked God for her valiant life of service and love, I thought of other friends and family members who have similarly blessed my life.  I was flooded with joy and gratitude for all the astounding Daughters of God that I've been privileged to know. 
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Women in the trenches of motherhood, doing a million small things each day to bless those around them.  Women fighting evil, abuse and trauma.  
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Behind-the-scenes sisters making their homes places of sanctuary and peace.  
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Roaring-Mama-Bear ladies acting as advocates for those they love. Girls who do hard things. Patient, grateful elderly who encourage with wisdom. 
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Those of every age in every circumstance who kneel down humbly and then rise to serve.   Again and again and again.

Image result for woman nurture clipartWomen who nurture other's children, who serve in the community, who show up when there's a need. 
Covenant keeping, good-news-of-the-gospel testifying, charity-filled comforting women. So many faithful, good women!  

I feel so blessed! 

Sometimes the world seems to be chaotic, explosive, evil, falling apart.  But I know that there is an army of Christlike people fighting quietly behind the scenes. Preparing for His return.  

Others who believe quite differently, also making the world a better place.  Thank you, my dear friends for the lives you're living. You are my heroes.

*I started to add real photos and realized that there were too many.  For the same reason, I can't add names either!  What a great problem to have.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Mayli's Senior Tribute (Lil' Mama)

On a beautiful fall day 18 years ago, my life changed forever.
As I held that new little person for the first time, she looked right into my eyes--soul to soul--and smiled.  She was trailing clouds of glory, and brought light and joy into our family.  Plus, she was 3 weeks early, which made me extremely happy!
About 2 months later we moved from Utah to Massachusetts with our little family.  Liz was 4 and  Andrew was 2 years old.  

Little Sister was an amazing baby, sleeping through the night and patiently waiting her turn when she needed something.  It was wonderful, after the non-stop colic with the first and postpartum depression with the second.  The crazy cross-country move with 3 small children should have been incredibly difficult, but it was a fun adventure and a very happy time!

 She was so beautiful that she drew attention everywhere we went.  The pediatrician's office called her the "Ivory Soap Baby."  People would stop me in the grocery store and comment on her.  (They'd then gasp when they discovered that ALL THOSE KIDS were mine!  Then they'd tell me I needed to be done.  You gotta love New Englanders!)

One of Mayli's first words was "ANDREW!"  She learned to shout it before he was close enough to touch her.  Before she was even one year old he had painted the crib and the surrounding wall with the contents of her diaper, carried her by the neck and then dropped her when I screamed, cut her hair 3 times, and run at her with a pair of scissors. (We put the scissors up high for a long time.  I am a slow learner.)   
Cape Cod
Niagara Falls
The Sacred Grove Upstate NY
Also, by the time she turned one she'd flown over 10,000 miles (always from MA to UT), visited Cape Cod, Upstate New York, including a quick trip to Niagara Falls, New York City,  Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Washington DC.  Most of the photo documentation for these adventures was destroyed when her brother pulled the film out of the canisters.  
 One Sunday when I was holding her in church, which didn't happen much because she was passed around a lot, the Spirit bore powerful witness about the eternal nature of the family.  I KNEW that this little sunshine-girl was mine forever, and felt overwhelmingly grateful for the blessing of being her mother.  

Little Mayli-Moo and I started going to a nursing home once a week to visit one of my friends, and everyone needed to talk to her and touch her.  She would smile and laugh and pat their cheeks.  It seems like she brought her talent for service with her at birth.

I used to joke that Mayli was born with a diaper bag around her shoulder.  I'd be running around looking for shoes and yelling for people to get their pants on: "We're running late!" and she'd be by the door all ready to go with the bag full of her own diapers, some snacks, etc.

As soon as she was old enough to talk, she started making plans for the family.  She'd wake us up every morning with, "Good morning Daddy!  We're gonna make pancakes!  Mama, I packed the diaper bag so we can go to Chuck E Cheese with Brooklyn!"  (She always had a breakfast in mind, and then plans for the day, which usually included her friends.)
The crazy thing was, Paul would roll out of bed and they'd make pancakes together, and I'd find myself at Chuck E Cheese by noon.

I'd be running around, doing laundry and she'd come in to tell me that her "woom was cween and Wizzy has her soos on so we can go to Chuck E Cheese!"  I could say that we weren't going a thousand times, but she'd just keep talking about what we'd do at Chuck E Cheese that day, and she was so joyfully sure of the plan that I'd find myself pulling in to the dang Chuck E Cheese (or McDonalds, or library, or park, or friend's house, etc.) just like she'd said.
Mayli and Brooklyn
She also had a little friend from pre-school name Connor.  They were absolutely adorable together.  She had a seemingly never-ending supply of friends.

Right about this time, whenever she was naughty and I'd start to say her name as I caught her in her mischief, she'd drop what she was doing and start yelling, "No, Mama!  Don't beat me!  Don't bite me!"  This would effectively turn my attention from the trouble at hand, freak me out, and I'd spend the next few minutes trying to defend myself.
Looking innocent
She was also really good at literally standing her ground, if I needed her to move out of my way, I'd say, "Excuse me." and try to gently guide her to where she needed to be.  She would fall right over before she would move.

Just before Mayli turned two her little brother was born.  This was her very best new game, and she became Lil' Mama.  I helpfully supplied her with a new baby to love on about every two years until she was 12.

As I sorted through pictures, I couldn't believe how many of them showed her holding a baby.  
When Mayli was about 4 years old, she excitedly told me about a dream she'd had.  Mom and Dad had left, and SHE was in charge.  She was so happy!  Honestly, I probably could have left her in charge, she was so capable and competent.

When we brought her new baby sister home, Mayli was almost 5.  She paced back and forth in front of the crib for hours, alerting me whenever the baby sneezed, etc.  I had to keep telling her that she needed to let me get Baby out of the crib and carry her down the stairs.  (I'd come in to find the deed already done.)

We were blessed to take some really fun vacations while we lived in New England, and one of the best ones involved camping, hotels, the Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream factory, Storyland, Wild West Land, and Santa's Village (all 3 kid theme parks) the beautiful mountains, etc.  For part of this vacation we met up with friends.  It was a spectacular time.

On the drive home from said vacation, every single crazy, exhausted kid in the minivan finally fell asleep except Mayli.  It was the first quiet we'd experienced for what seemed like decades.  Our good fortune was shattered when Mayli saw the Golden Arches outside her window, and suddenly declared that we needed one more adventure.  We shushed her so she wouldn't wake anyone, and through gritted teeth told her we were one hour from home and  wouldn't be stopping ANYWHERE until we got there. She got really angry and eventually shouted, " We NEVER do anything fun in this family!"
 McD's on a different day
Liz, Andrew and Baby all had their birthdays really close together in September, but Mayli's was in October.  This was just too hard to bear, so we started including her with the festivities in September. We then we stupidly celebrated her again in October on her real birthday.  This gave birth to the idea that EVERY DAY is Mayli's birthday, a family tradition/joke that is still going.  Pretty much every day was a party in her mind anyway, often with elaborate plans, friends and epic destinations.

We'd be at the store in January and Mayli would fall in love with something there and really, really need it.  I would admire it with her, and then say, "Not today."  She would then ask if she could have it for her birthday.  I'd tell her yes, and ask her when it was.  By then there was always someone who had stopped to watch the interaction.  When she would say, "October!" they'd giggle and move on.  
Just before Kindergarten, we moved from Massachusetts to Boise.

We were sad to leave our friends behind, but Missy Moo quickly made some new ones.  

Mayli's dreams came true when she won a reading contest at school and became the Vice Principal for a day.  She got to shadow the Principal, and had the best day ever!  I'm frankly surprised she didn't figure out how to lock the principal in his office and serve cake for lunch!

She made friends with B, who also came from a large family, and the two girls would ask me for jobs to earn money, work really fast and hard together, and then go to the store and buy candy to share.
We had some fun family vacations when we lived in ID, and one that was a little fun but mostly a nightmare, was when we camped and cabined our way to Missoula, Montana. 

Each one of us took a turn with the stomach flu. 

We had mishap after mishap, and one of the worst parts was when we were crossing a highway to get to a (mythical) hot springs, and I hollered for Mayli to walk across.  Luckily she hesitated, as a big ole' 5th wheel truck came barreling around the corner and would have killed her.  Scared the snot out of me.

Our Boise time was mostly filled with piano, soccer, school and babies.

She'd done some soccer and gymnastics in MA, and now she tried basketball and more soccer.  Her dad coached her teams.  Every. Single. One.  For years and years.  Trillions of soccer teams.

Basketball with friend M

Because her birthday was in October, she usually had a fall or Halloween themed party.

Back yard Halloween party

In Boise we supplied her with 3 more baby sisters to mother. 

2010 (Mayli's the one with the hat)

She's always been a good little helper, but it was in Boise that she became a comfort and source of great relief to me.  When things became their most hectic, I would turn to find her quietly helping, or making peace with her siblings. I felt more and more that I had an angel in my home.

She continued to make plans every morning as she awoke, and they became increasingly more elaborate the older she got.  She loved to plan parties, and helped me with every birthday party we threw for the kids.  She was an organizer and creator of fun, and people just flocked to her.
Grandma and Grandpa lived in Florida for a while, and they made a deal with the grandkids:  earn $200 yourself towards the vacation, and we'll pay the rest to take you to Disney World.  
Mayli took them up on the deal and had a glorious vacation. 

One of my favorite memories was Mayli's 12th birthday.  I planned a surprise party at the park (feeling guilty as this deprived her of the planning part), and I couldn't believe the number of friends she had.

 They just kept coming, and by the time Mayli arrived, there were at least 30 little 12 year-olds waiting to surprise her.  She was genuinely tickled.  I'll never forget the pure joy on her face as her friends gathered around her squealing, "Open my present first!"

Mayli went to middle school for 6th grade in Boise, but was demoted back to elementary school for the final month of that year when we moved to Utah.  It was a really hard adjustment for her to make, and we even debated about having her skip to 7th grade.  She landed in a classroom with some "cool kids" and was disappointed when none of the kids in her readers' theater group wanted to put any animation into their parts.  She struggled and then bravely decided to be herself, and did a really cute job.  Afterward, one of the other teachers offered her a summer drama scholarship for the children's class at his theater, and it really validated her and helped her to be happy here.
It also helped launch her short-lived Jr. High drama career.
Granny May (in the pink) She was hilarious!
Aaarrrggghhh!  She's the pirate on the left.
She then found a great love for choir, and had the privilege of being mentored by the life-changing, gifted Camille Kingman.  She was a part of the A Capella Choir throughout High School.  I was able to chaperone a trip they took to CA, and was severely warned to stay incognito.  (Sometimes our parents try to embarrass us, and some are embarrassing without any effort at all!)

The soccer continued, as did the parties.

Mayli has been the only one of our children so far to take us up on our piano deal:  she learned to play 5 hymns to our satisfaction and earned $200.  She used the money to return to Boise and stay in a hotel with her friend B.

She had fun with her Young Women's Youth Group, fun with friends, fun with family.  Fun, fun, fun.

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Legitimately her birthday
We've had some great vacations here--Bear Lake, Yellowstone National Park, Cascade Lake in ID, and Philmont National Scout Camp in New Mexico.  


High school has been full of hard work and great times.  She took a biotechnology class from UVU, scored a 5 on her AP Calculus class, participated in USU Business week, earned some engineering certification, and sang in choir.

She continues to serve daily in many different ways.
Take your sister on a hike day

I think the best part of her Senior year was becoming a member of the LDS Seminary Council.  She has met a lot of really fun teens, given one of the lunchtime devotionals "Feast" where she played one of her compositions, and planned activities.  
She's composed a few songs on the piano now, reflecting her love or the Savior and for angels who serve among us.  They're beautiful.  
(I couldn't find the copy of the words she gave me, so I stole this one from her notebook.  It's probably the unfinished version, but you get the idea.)
I really, really love the words of the chorus.

"God put me in the midst of angels;
He put me among men.
Maybe they're not so different--
Maybe they're one and the same.

Some are dressed in white
Some are dressed in blue
All are sent from God; God sent me you.

I cry at night, asking my Father, 'cause
I feel so distant and far from Thee.
I can't do this alone; will I ever make it Home?

And He says, "Look around you, look around you
There's angels guarding your path
They're guiding you home and I know
You'll make it back."

The man on the corner, my sister at home
Are all sent here to me
They all are different but I know    that
We're all God's family
Thank You for that.

After composing the above song, she bravely performed it at a stake Relief Society activity, "Angels Among Us."
Mayil and Big Brother double together
The dating game is just pretty much an extension of the party planning she's so good at.  She's pulled a lot of friends together, and used her brothers on a few occasions when a friend needed a date.  She's packed with powerfully good times!
Mayli and Little Brother double together
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Without Mayli, who would hand out plastic camels on Hump Day?  What would the Oreo company do?  Where would the party be?

It has seemed like her life is charmed--often things just fall into her lap.  She's worked through HS in the peachiest job around--as a file clerk a couple of hours a day in the city office building. Great co-workers and never once having to say, "Would you like fries with that?"  She works meticulously hard, and with really good results. 
 Mayli's graduating with a 4.0, quite a few college credits and has received several scholarships.  We're very pleased with the choices she's made and the person she is.

Miss Mayli is beautiful through and through.  She serves with inspiration and courage.  She teaches and testifies of Christ.  
She is obedient, clean and lovely.  She gives good gifts and plans fun times.

She hopes to attend the U of U and study something (but doesn't know what).  But first she's decided to serve an 18 month LDS mission.  She'll do a great job and bless lives wherever she goes.

Sometimes you're dressed in white;

Mayli's baptism day

Sometimes in blue.

An angel here on earth;
God sent us you.

We love you Mayli Moo! (Now get out because we need your bedroom.)