Thursday, January 29, 2009

Even boys like picnics

I heard on the news this morning that seven states were under "a state of emergency" due to severe winter storms. So on their behalf the boys and I had a lunch picnic. How could we not? I would've felt guilty if we had chosen to stay indoors on a nice warm sunny winter day.
We ate simply. Peanut butter sandwiches, wheat thins with cream cheese, and Doritos. The conversation was even more simple. And funny. Andrew always comes up with good "what ifs?" He gets excited for the slightest of wind, always wanting to fly a kite.

Boys are so different. Could life really be this simple?

When the cup of water and ice tipped over I put a small piece of ice down Andrew's shirt and he loved it. Laughing and screaming. I won't mention any names, but I know a daughter that would not have thought that was so fun. {and a mommy; yes me}
Beautiful day.
Note to self: Remember to take time for more picnics.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Truly Inspirational Tuesday

I'm trying something new. I've always felt sorry for Tuesday. It's kind of over looked because Monday is so huge, even though it's dreaded. Wednesday is hump day. We all look forward to it. It means we're half way through the week. And Thursday is always a breeze. Then there's Friday. I love Friday. When I pick up the children from school they're excited and always in a good mood. We order pizza. Watch a movie. Play a game. Fun Friday! Then Saturday...garage sale shopping. You know how I love that. Finally, Sunday. Lovely Sabbath day says it all.

But what about Tuesday?

So out of pity I'm starting something new with my blog. Truly Inspirational Tuesday. Today I'm posting an amazing email that I received from a few friends yesterday. Wait...Someone is trying to tell me something???

Well I got the message loud and clear. And I hope you do too.

Invisible Mother......
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.

Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'

Obviously, not.

No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated sum a cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going; she's going; she is gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England ..

Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in.

I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself.

I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.'

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe .

I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:

'To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.

These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.

They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.

The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place.

It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life.
It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'you're going to love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right.

And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Hero of the day

What a day!

I was feeling enormously proud of my efforts towards
my motherly duties.
picture of boys taken a year ago

Any mother that wakes up early to bake homemade rolls for a preschool aged son's Snow & Mitten party would be pleased with herself. Especially, after being awake with the other son from midnight until 4am for the past two nights. The chemo has thrown his sleeping routine off a bit. It's okay. At least he's happy when he's up during the night. We've taught him how to run the dvd/vcr and tv. Actually, we didn't teach him. He just picked it up. WOw. That kid is a smart one or it may be a sign of too much movie watching. My father-n-law would say he is mechanical.

Also, the dishwasher unloaded and loaded, and kitchen cleaned up all before the morning mass Exodus to school. A double bonus for the good mommy of the morning award for not raising my voice one time.

Grandpa Doug came over to be with Peter so I could work my day at Andrew's preschool. We picked up his fellow class mate and great friend. We talk about trucks, Dooleys (trucks with two rear tires each side), real boy things all the way to school.

We return home after the crazy, fun time at preschool, exhausted, not Andrew though. Lack of sleep is starting to catch up with me and the return of my low back pain is starting up again thank you to the little school chairs and bending over to help the children with their snowman art project. It's okay though, I have a muscle relaxer that I can take when John gets home, in case it knocks me out.

But first, I had to take Peter on the animal tour of Redlands and Mentone. He was begging to get out to see the pig and the moo, and the alpacas. Pictures of these local residents to come in the future. You must know, the pig is huge. Peter thought it was a horse. Seriously big. This has became an almost daily ritual for Peter these past six months. He loves animals. When he's not feeling well and has cabin fever we go on the tour. Highlight of the day for him.

Then the next highlight of the day. John gets home early from work. He and Andrew head outside to work on the play set {this has been a year long project} I'll spare you the details of the rise and fall and then rise again of the play set. After 15minutes John struts in to tell me the conversation he's been having with Andrew.

Andrew talks non stop. He has a lot to say. And he has a lot of questions to ask. A LOT. In between the hammering. Andrew tells John, "I love building. You're the best dad." My heart really melted and I was happy for that, but..... He didn't even go to work today. He was golfing with work buddies. He's not home 15 minutes and he gets the praises of Andrew. Not easy to get.

The last time I got "mom, you're awesome." was a year ago when I made cookies with m&m's in them. And believe me I've been awesome a few times this past year.

John's turn tonight for the midnight to 4am duty.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What to do today...

I'm back to making a list of the things I need to do each day.
This list should say Tuesday, though, or else I'm really behind. It feels like a Monday...

My rules for making to do list:

  1. You don't need to write down the essentials; like: brush teeth, read scriptures... {Here's a little something that will embarrass my dad. When I was little my dad had his daily to do list posted at his desk and it read: read newspaper, ..., go hockey} never mind embarrassing my dad, I'm embarrassed.}

  2. You have to throw in a couple of easy tasks so you have something to cross off for the day if you get side tracked.

Side tracked already.

Okay, now I really am behind. I'm watching the inauguration. Not on my to do list. Love Aretha's hat. Could I get away with wearing that hat? I didn't think so. I wasn't going to watch this because I didn't vote for Barack H. Obama but I couldn't stand not participating in history. How could I admit to my posterity one day, that I was working on my list of things to do for the day instead of watching the "greatest day...blah,blah,blah...."It is exciting however, that we have the first African American for president. It could've been the first woman as president, or the first Mormon as president. So sorry Brother Romney.

We were represented though.

Thanks Brother Bennett from Utah, for introducing the Chief Justice.

Picture of Andrew being really annoyed that his PBS morning cartoons were interrupted with this boring special report of the inauguration.

Let freedom ring. I can never resist taking a picture of Old Glory.

Was it just me or did it seem that Barrack had a hard time

repeating the oath of office after Chief Justice John Roberts?

Hopefully, just nerves.

Revised: I found out the next morning from the smarties on GMA that it was actually the Chief Justice, John Roberts, that made the mistake and that Prs. Obama was correcting him. I need to study up on my US Government facts. So my mistake. It wasn't his nerves. It was John Roberts.

Now back to my to do list.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Seeing the picture

If I hadn't taken the picture I wouldn't have noticed...

I thought that I was just taking a picture of my roses. I was so proud of these yellow, tinted with some pink, fragrant roses. So when I brought them in and arranged them for our center piece I had to take their picture.

Later, when I uploaded my daily photos, I noticed it in the background. Love. Isn't that what roses symbolize any way???

Note to self:

Take more pictures with or without a camera.

Notice what's going on in the background.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Can you water your garden?

Children are back to school this week. Back to our normal morning routines. John kisses me good-bye and then reminds me of a couple of things that need to be done; Mail the letters, return the movies, water our garden.

Okay. I say to myself that I can remember to do all those things.


Water the garden???

Oh, what a loving husband. He plants me a garden in the winter. I was pleasantly surprised to see broccoli and onions growing quite nicely.

Sweet husband, doing the little things to keep a wife happy. We'll have our friends and family over soon for fresh steamed broccoli, and onions?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Did you feel it?


It happens when you least suspect it. You might be cleaning, or just relaxing, or yes, you may even be on the toilet {2002}. No alarms go off. Out of no where without a warning the earth jolts, shakes, sometimes we hear only a loud groan, or a shutter, sometimes just the house creeks.

Last night at 7:49, {if you click on the highlighted words in red it will show you recent earthquakes. Then click on the big blue square and get the details of the earthquake.} I was giving Peter a little lesson on cleaning up a mess he made in the pantry with paper plates. Then it happened. An earthquake. This time it was a large jerk and then another. Then it turned into a gentle roll. Addie noticed the ceiling fan swaying. Andrew, who was sitting right next to Addie, didn't even notice. I think he was jumping off the couch at the same time.

So Duane, you missed it by a week. Maybe on your next visit you'll experience the rattling of your nerves knowing the earth just shifted.

Food storage. It's a good thing...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Looking ahead

We've been enjoying having Peter more like himself. Happy. The holidays were wonderful. Christmas was amazing. We were receivers this year of many thoughtful generous family,friends, and strangers. Thank you to all the angels that helped make it a memorable one. We felt so loved and thought of, which does something to our souls that is hard to explain. The kindness and compassion of these angels some how helps us feel the love our Heavenly Father has for us. Knowing and feeling this love gives us comfort, encouragement, and peace. All the things needed to help us deal with the challenges facing us.

When the doctor called last Monday to inform us about the recommendation of the expert on hepatoblastoma I was not surprise to hear what it was. More chemotherapy. Just to be sure. We want to be sure that we've done everything to get rid of this cancer, so we're willing to do the recommended two more rounds. Six more weeks. Peter will loose his hair again and for a couple of months he'll loose his laugh, his energy, and feeling good. The dread sit in. It's not fun to feel dreadful. Not a good way to start the new year. So I distracted myself with being with family and more celebrating of the New Year.

The last thing we did before we left for the hospital on New Year's day night was having the missionaries over for dinner. We made them breakfast. We enjoyed having them over and getting to know them. We've missed having the missionaries since August. What a wonderful spirit they brought into our home. After dinner they gave us a lesson on hope. Not a coincidence. Yet another example of the love Heavenly Father has for us, knowing I needed something extra. I think hope is the direct opposite of dread.

Off to the hospital hopeful; where we are blessed with kind hearted, skilled nurses and doctors.

Peter didn't fight this time. Maybe that's why the chemo hit him so hard. For 48 hours he was very sick. Then the magical hour came and it was out of his body and a new day. And I know I've described how it is driving home with him from the hospital before. Pure enjoyment. We left at noon. The sun was bright. The sky was blue {yes, even in polluted California} And a big smile on Peter's face. If I could read his thoughts I think he was thinking and noticing the beauty of this world and being alive to enjoy it. He probably thought he was never going to get out of that hospital room, or just grateful to finally be out again. That's what is so amazing about children. They bounce back quickly. And I am in awe of him. I'm just trying to keep up with him and this experience and all the insights that I'm learning because of cancer.

The main insight is that we all have a loving Heavenly Father that cares about us and what we're going through. He wants us to be happy and have joy. He sends others, family, friends, strangers, to help us feel that sometimes when were struggling. I'm looking forward to playing that role better in the future.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Sweet Prayer for a New Year.

I love it when my family from Arizona comes for a visit. This time it was Duane, Tricia, & their three girls. We went to the San Diego Zoo with them. Very fun. Very busy. Never go between Christmas & New Year's, but it was still a great day.
When we finally made it home we were so tired from all the walking and driving. The dads fell asleep right away but all the children were wide awake because they slept in the car the whole way home. Tricia and I tried to calm them down with a movie and hot chocolate. No, the hot chocolate was for Tricia, to wake her up. I got comfy on the couch. And the next thing I realized, I was alone and still on the couch. The tv was off. The lights, most of them were off. The clock: 2am. I checked the doors and stumbled upstairs to my bed.

The next morning the first person I saw was Audrey, Duane's oldest. By the way, she was always the first one up in the morning. I asked her about the previous night. Apparently, I fell asleep while Tricia was talking to me. Then Tricia went to bed. Then Meagan & Addie went to sleep. That left Sadie 3, Andrew & Annelise 5, & Audrey 8 up watching Horton hears a who.

I love this movie. My favorite quote: "Stop having fun, immediately!"

What happened next? Audrey said that she and Andrew were the last ones to go to 11:30. She turned off the tv. That's nice. And yes, she was the first one up in the morning. What a cutie. All of Duane's girls are so darling.

The Arizona visitors stayed with us through New Year's day. So after a late New Year's Eve celebration I woke up to make those yummy buttermilk waffles. Only the little girls were awake.

How fun to have a breakfast date with my darling nieces. I made them waffles and couldn't resist using the batten burg lace place mats and pink & white gingham napkins. {I adore girls} I asked Annelise to say the prayer. She accepted happily.

Please bless us to go home sleepy(I'm sure she meant safely)...Help us to choose the right...Please help us to love each other...Please bless Peter to get better...

Peter & Sadie & hippo

Update on Peter: We received a call from one of his doctors, telling us that the hepatoblastoma expert recommended two more rounds of chemotherapy. A little disappointed but understanding we agreed to it. We took Peter in on New Years day to start the first round. It hit him hard this time. But after it was out of his system he bounced right back and now he's home. He is amazing.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Happy Year:)

A new year. Happy!
We used to have a contest in the Hallen Family this time every year. Who would be the one to come up with a great theme for the new year?
The rules: has to be inspiring and rhyme with the new year.
Past themes
Get it fixed in '96
A bit of Heaven in '97
Loose some weight in '98
I've been thinking up the rhyming new theme.
Should it be:
Save our dimes in '09
All fine in '09
Along those lines. I haven't even decided on my new year's resolutions yet. Am I too late? I know I should have one to loose weight. I pondered on this for a few minutes, maybe longer. Why is this so hard for me? All I need to do is loose 2 or 3 pounds a month and in a year...WOW. That really adds up. So put me down for that. Now an easy one... Rub lotion on my elbows everyday. My elbows are very dry and they always look dirty. Very annoying. I'll get back to you on the rest of my list.