Friday, April 25, 2008

The Best Christmas Present Ever

This is an attempt to do something I don't know how to do . . . upload an audio file so I can preserve and share the most magnificent present I ever have or ever could receive.

It all started . . . well, 30 years ago, when I met a knight in shining armor, who treated me as his Dulcinea, and would kiss my hand when we met, and bow to me in public, and everyone thought we were wierd, and I was enchanted.

And then we each joined God's Army, and were posted to locations on opposite ends of the earth -- Derrin in Iran, and I in Chicago - - - and I was carried home wounded from the battle, and my love returned with a thorn in his side which continues to plague him from time to time.

But we survived, and after a 37 month engagement, were married, and blessed with 2 gifted sons. And they grew, and their magic grew within them, and they were kind and loving men.

They, too, served in the ranks of God's Army, Derrill in East Germany and Steve in Guatemala. And each, in turn, came to bear the scars of battle. And the struggle refined them.

Eventually, after a long and arduous quest, Derrill found his True Love, and not long afterward Steve discovered his One-and-Only, and both Fair Maidens had also served their time in the ranks - - - Joy in Costa Rica, and Emilee in California. And they married.

And now it is a year ago, and Derrin is our choir director, and has selected a beautiful new song to sing for Easter. I cannot tell you why this song affects me as it does; I can only tell you that singing it fills me with a love and strength that is impossible to describe. And when I was called away into the desert to care for my mother after a major surgery, it was this song that lifted my spirits and kept me going.

I cannot tell you how badly I wanted . . . . how badly I NEEDED . . . . a recording of this song, to listen to as time went by, and my memory faded. But, it didn't work out, and no recording was made. And time passed, and I began to be unable to call forth the magic of this music to lift my soul, and I grieved.

And then, my children came home for Christmas. And they got together with a dear family friend, Janice Tate, and Derrill used his special magic on the keyboard, and Steve, Joy, Dad and Janice joined the wonder of their voices to make this recording for me.

I don't know if I will succeed or not, and I know the music hasn't touched anyone else as it has me. But, I hope I can get this to work so Hyrum will know the story of The Most Wonderful Christmas Present Ever as he grows up, and be able to listen to his family create it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

30 Years of Wedded Bliss, and STILL *FULL* of Surprises!

Just before I left for NY, we found the most BEAUTIFUL set of cherry bookcases and decided to remodel our front "hall" and make it over into a library with a Persian rug, a tiffany lamp, a nice reading chair, and this "wall" of bookcases.

Derrin has spent the 6 weeks I've been away building the bookcases and moving them into place.

And he spent the hours of our drive home apologizing for all the things he hadn't been able to get done that he had been planning on doing before I got back. . . .

What he *didn't* tell me was about all the EXTRA remodeling he had had done while I was away!

So, we head up to bed, and at the top of the stairs I discover that the old black window/screen has been COMPLETELY REPLACED with a BRAND NEW, double-paned unit like the ones in our new bathrooms!!! (He'd been threatening to have someone fix the screens that I've never been able to adequately repair since Q clawed them to pieces several years ago . . . .)

I open the bedroom door, and WHAT do I find, but a BRAND NEW WINDOW in the upstairs bedroom, too!!! PLUS a hole in the wall where I used to have some artist's renderings of me and Derrin in our younger days which has been filled with . . . . .AN AIR CONDITIONER!!!!!! A BUILT-IN AIR CONDITIONER!!!!!!

And, of course, as long as we're replacing ruined windows and screens, we can't stop until we've done the same treatment in the upstairs bathroom . . . . .


I can't say I'd been dreading the coming of summer, and being unable to open the windows and get our lovely cross-ventilation (due to Q's uncanny ability to rip apart or break out of every screen we've ever put up in those windows) . . . but that's only because I left when it was too cold to be thinking about summer heat. WHAT A BLESSING!!! THANK YOU, LOVER!!!!

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity-Jog

It's good to be home again! When I left, it was still looking like winter: the roses were pruned down to stumps; there were no flowers to speak of in my garden; the trees had virtually no leaves. And while I was in NY, it snowed several times, and I was reminded how much i enjoy watching snow fall from the comfort of a warm house, and how much I hate having to walk or drive in the stuff.

When I got home on Monday night, it seemed that every flower had heard I was coming back, and made an extra effort to put forth colorful blooms to welcome me home.

And the cats were overjoyed to see me, too!

Q spent the ENTIRE NIGHT curled up between our pillows.

Even little Molly came out from under the bed to traipse happily across my body, tail waving like a flag, before she settled down next to me and wouldnt' be budged.

And terrified Tribble parked herself on the end of the bed and purred LOUDLY for TWO SOLID HOURS. I haven't heard her do that since she decided we weren't going to take her back to the pound!

Didn't get a chance to see Brrryanna until the next day, but she hasn't let me out of her sight since.

I think I was missed!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dreams *DO* Come True!

In Relief Society a week or two before I left Santa Barbara for New York, our new RS President posed the question: "What were some of your childhood dreams, and have any of them come true?" Several sisters commented that they had fulfilled their dreams of becoming mothers, or graduating from college, and I shared with them my dual childhood dreams of living in California (formed with I was 6 and my family made its first visit to Disneyland) and becoming a Grandmother (made when I was 12). I remember watching the sun setting in the West from my bedroom window and thinking, "You are shining on California now. Is my chosen love there, and does he wonder about me - - - who I am, and where we'll meet? I wonder how I will know him?"

I have now been a Californian for 3/5 of my life, and the past 6 weeks I have had the privilege of fulfilling my other childhood dream: On March 11, our children, Derrill and Joy, presented us with a beautiful grandson, Hyrum Spencer. On March 13, I flew to New York to render whatever aid I could - - - which mostly meant washing dishes and laundry, and taking the baby at night so mom and dad could get some uninterrupted sleep!

Little Hyrum Spencer had some SERIOUS problems nursing, and had a VERY difficult first week of life. Spent the first 4 full days screaming every time Joy would attempt to feed him. I cannot BEGIN to describe it. If you put every exhausted 2-year-old temper tantrum thrown at Disneyland in a WEEK together, and then multiply it by 3, it *might* come close. He was screaming so long and so hard, I was convinced he was going to rupture something. And mostly it was when Joy would try to nurse him!!! He lost a frightening amount of weight (15%!!!) and folks were talking about putting him in the hospital . . . but we got a 2-day reprieve, and Joy started expressing like a mad woman, and we hand fed Hyrum with a medicine dropper . . .

It was everything we could manage between the 3 of us just trying to get enough milk into the baby, but he *did* catch up, if not catch on! He gained 7 oz in those 2 days! The doctor was THRILLED, and we felt encouraged knowing that we *could* get enough milk into him one way or another.

Well, it took a solid month, and some inspiration on the part of Joy's grandmother, who sent her a special nursing aid, but Hyrum is finally able to get his nourishment from Mom, in the manner the Good Lord intended. And when he is full, he is a VERY delightful little fellow, who will sleep for 6 and 7 hours at a stretch, who enjoys rides in the car, long walks so he can enjoy the wonder of God's creations, and being held and cuddled.

Given the difficulties everyone faced because of Hyrum's inability to learn to nurse properly, I am particularly grateful that God has placed us in favorable circumstances, to enable me to run off for that long a period of time, to allow Derrin to come and visit us, with technology that allowed me to keep up with my various church callings even at that distance, and with the love of family & friends who did so much to help us.

Even though it was out of his way, Derrin was able to fly to LA and escort his mother to Ithaca this past weekend for Hyrum's official "Naming and blessing." And Aunt Virginia flew to New York City and then drove to Ithaca so she could be there, too.

While waiting for one of our flights home yesterday, Grammy asked me what was the best part of my visit, and I really had to think, because there were so many wonderful, choice memories. The one I came up with that I shared with her was cuddling with Hyrum in bed, when he was
full of milk and sleepy but fussy. It was wonderful the way he responded to the warmth and close contact of cradling and rocking.

But I have come up with another one today - - - and it is one that I first realized when Derrill and Steve were born: it is the wonder of looking into the eyes of a new spirit so clean and pure
and trusting, and wondering what incredible things he might say if he were permitted to.

Derrin's response to Grammy's question, with moisture in his eyes, was "holding him in church."
Yes, dreams *do* come true - - - you just have to hang in there long enough!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Welcome to My Blog

We've done a pretty good job (up to this point) keeping in touch with our kids, but recently when we ask them "So, what's the best thing that's happened to you this week?" the answer we get is "Haven't you read my latest blog posting?"

Well, no, actually. We may be savvy, computer-age parents who couldn't live without our PDA's and cell phones, but the world of blogging as a primary means of keeping up with friends and relatives is a whole new universe . . .

So, in a major concession to 21st Century communication styles, the Brand New Grandma is hereby inaugurating her VERY OWN BLOG so she can keep up with the antics and achievements of her WONDERFUL family.