Monday, May 26, 2008

Time to Play Catch-Up: Part 4 - April 21: Happy Birthday LSOC!!

This is my beautiful "little" brother (He's 6'4" or 6'5", I'm not sure, exactly!) LSOC stands for the "Lost Skeleton of Cadavra" one of LSOC's and Tergaso (also taken from that movie)'s favorite movies.) I feel bad that I actually missed posting on his birthday, but we were driving home from Aunt Norma's funeral in California and he was in Europe with Tergaso. Then, of course, I just kept getting farther and farther behind!

LSOC is the awesomest brother. He loves unconditionally, he's impossibly cool, he is a ton of fun and I truly look up to him (both literally and figuratively.) He introduces me to cool music, he watches really bad television ("So You Think You Can Dance?") with me, he quotes funny and bizarre movies at/to me. He even remembers to blow out my candle in the bathroom when I forget! He is just a good guy.

Happy belated Birthday, LSOC!

Time to Play Catch-Up: Part 3 - Tribute to my Aunt Norma 7.27.23 - 4.11.08

My favorite part of going on summer vacation was that it always involved a visit to Aunt Norma and Uncle Al. I remember one summer, they emptied all of these containers they'd been collecting loose change in into our bags. When we went through airport security, the agents thought we were going to Vegas to play the slots - we had bags full of coins! I also remember that one summer, Aunt Norma sent us a bunch of dress-up clothes - fancy dresses, shoes, purses, etc. We had so much fun with them! I remember growing up thinking that I was related to celebrities. Uncle Al had been a stunt man on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Aunt Norma had held the record for deepest dive by a woman! They were famous! That made me feel very cool.

Aunt Norma has also been very supportive of me. When I decided to play the flute in Middle School, I rented a flute that was defective. No matter how much I blew into that thing, no sound would come out! A couple months later, Aunt Norma sent me a flute. I think it used to be Laura's. I felt so special that Aunt Norma sent me my flute. Aunt Norma and Uncle Al would also try to meet me when I was in California on Choir Tour in High School. They would figure out how to meet during my free time and take me out to dinner. I was usually pretty homesick by that time, and the chance to see family made such a huge difference!

Aunt Norma was always thinking of others. She would always send oranges for my Grandma Donna home with anyone that came to visit her during orange season.

Aunt Norma has a great sense of humor. I remember going to Bill and Michelle's wedding reception and Aunt Norma taught us kids how to pull the middle out of the strawberries so we could stick them on our fingers like olives! She was always eager to hear our jokes and was a great audience. I've also heard stories about the time she pulled out her prosthetic boob and passed it around for her brothers to feel!

Along with my Grandma Donna, one of my favorite memories of Aunt Norma was when she surprised Donna for her 80th birthday. It was so fun to have her show up on my Grandma's doorstep wearing a mask - "A Masked Marvel for a Masked Marvel!". And then to be able to go to the temple with Aunt Norma. It was such a great day. The feeling of joy and peace when she was sealed to Uncle Al was amazing. I'm so grateful I was able to be a part of that.

Aunt Norma was an incredible woman. I will miss her!

Time to Play Catch-up: Part 2 - The Count's Retirement

I barely made it home from New York in time for Dad's retirement from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Again, the Lord was watching over me. My flight from Buffalo to JFK was delayed because of a faulty part. I literally had to run to my connecting gate. I got there as they announced the final boarding call - about to pee my pants. There was a bathroom right next to my gate with a line of about 20 ladies. I bypassed the line, walked into the restroom and plead my case (I don't even like to join a friend already in line!) But all of the women were extremely nice and understanding and let me take the next stall. I'm sure no one there will ever see this - but "Thank you!!" anyway. So, I barely made my plane. But I did make it - and without having an accident!

I had written home to my family that I was amazed by how much the Lord helped me while I was in NY. With my health problems, I need at least 9-10 hours of sleep per night to function and I ran on about 5 per night the entire 15 days I was there. I also wrote home that I was very concerned that I'd get home Saturday night and totally crash and not be able to go to Dad's final broadcast Sunday morning. I asked them to please keep the prayers coming. I facetiously asked them to pray for me to stay conscious until 2:00 Sunday afternoon.

Dad's final broadcast was wonderful. A lot of people came to support him. It's really weird that he's not in the choir anymore. He sang with the choir for 20 years - almost 2/3 of my life so far! He's sung with Angela Lansbury, Sissel, Josh Groban, The Kings' Singers, Audra McDonald, Bryn Terfel, and many others. He sang at the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter 2002 Olympics. He's traveled all across the world with choir, singing in: Brazil, Australia, Jerusalem, almost every country in Europe, Russia, and all across the United States.

We had a luncheon at our house afterwards. I had a great morning being with extended family and friends. As I was sitting out on our deck chatting, I just got hit suddenly with exhaustion. I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer! I looked at the clock and it was 2:15! I couldn't complain!! Apparently the Lord took my email literally and carried me through to my specified time. I had to laugh. And then I had to go down and find my wonderful bed.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Time to Play Catch-up: Part 1 - trip to NY

Tyler, Emmalee, Nate and me with the blankets I made for them.

I'm not sure where to start - which is why I haven't posted about my trip yet. My trip to visit the Gardners was wonderful, and hard, and wonderful, and heartbreaking, and did I mention wonderful? I'll get the "hard" part over with first:

A) the trip there. I don't travel well - and a red-eye flight was everything I thought it would be and more. Of course I didn't sleep much, but I didn't expect the airplane to be so HOT! I was dying. But, I made it! I was truly blessed with the travel part of my trip - I definitely felt the Lord's hand guiding me and guardian angels buoying me up. Also, I had a nice chat with Craig Jessop. He was taking the same red-eye flight to NYC to be a guest conductor.

2) I got the stomach flu! The day Tyler was supposed to come home from the hospital I was so miserable with queaziness. It was not fun. At all. Again, though, I survived, it only lasted 24 hours, and I didn't give it to Tyler. (I'm not sure if I gave it Nate or he gave it to me - we both had a rough week that week!)

Now on to the wonderful:

Tyler after singing his favorite "Fishy" song with Dad. At the end they sing "splash" and Tyler "splashes" his hands.

This was my favorite activity. Every afternoon during the week Tyler was home from the hospital, I got to snuggle with him and take a nap. He is such a snuggle-bug and would just cuddle up into my arms and I'd sing him to sleep.

Tyler spent about five weeks in the hospital immediately following his diagnosis of Leukemia. I got to NY on Friday and on Monday, he came home. We got to have him home for an entire week before he had to go back for his second round of chemo. He was exhausted and very weak, but really started to get his personality back toward the end of his week at home. He loves to be sung to. He had a hard time when it was time to push his meds through his catheter, but he'd calm down if I sat down and sang to him. He also has several "action" songs that he loves. Tyler also loves "Signing Time." I'd never heard of it, but it's a great half-hour show that teaches different signs and has a lot of singing as well. I learned a lot of signs while I was there.

Tyler's second round of chemo started the second Monday I was there and instead of leaving the next day, we decided to extend my trip until Saturday. We were expecting this round to have him in the hospital for about five days, so he could possibly come home on Friday before I left. Unfortunately, Tyler had a rare reaction to the chemo. He spiked a fever of 104 for several days, which in turn caused some seizures. He also developed awful, blistery lesions all over his body, in his mouth, and down his throat. He was so sick. Poor little guy. I ended up spending the night with some of Jodie's friends in Buffalo Friday night so they could take me to the airport early Saturday morning (I had to fly out of Buffalo instead of Rochester) and I spent an hour with Tyler at the hospital before Jodie took me to Buffalo. He was in too much pain to be held, but I sat next to him and sang to him some more and he was able to fall asleep. When it was time for me to leave, I told him goodbye and he waved and blew me kisses. He was too sick to say "goodbye" and I know he was in so much pain, but he waved goodbye and blew me kisses. He is the sweetest little boy. That night, in an attempt to control his pain, the doctors switched his pain meds and his little body just couldn't handle any more. He coded. Fortunately, the doctors were able to resuscitate him and then stabilize him. Poor Jodie, she was driving home from taking me to Buffalo when Brent called her with the news. I felt so bad because I knew she'd want to be at the hospital with him but had no one to take Emma and Nate. Everything turned out okay. Tyler's fever broke on Monday, the lesions started to heal, and he was able to go home from the hospital the next Monday. I just ache that he has had to go through so much in his short little life. Please continue to pray for Tyler (and his family!) - he still has two years of treatment left.

This is Emma in her "Rella" dress that she got for her birthday. She loves everything princess/ballerina/dress-up!

Emma was so excited that we all had Crocs to wear.

The girls going shopping!

Emmalee is a fire-cracker! She has a very strong will and personality. She can drive you crazy! But she can also crack you up. I love her! I spent most of trip watching Emma and Nate while Jodie was at the hospital with Tyler and Brent was at work. Emma is a hoot! She is very independent and wants to do everything by herself. She is so smart! One afternoon, Emma wasn't doing what she should be and Jodie started counting (1, 2, 3...Magic! Great system). She said "one....two...." and Emmalee promptly said, "four....five....!" It was so funny! One morning I was checking my email and blogs. Emma climbed up on my lap and wanted to know who everyone was. I pulled up a picture of my family and told her who everyone was and we sang the "We Are a Happy Family" song. She loved it! She asked to do that every morning after that. Then the next day was my Dad's birthday - Emma was so excited to help me sing "Happy Birthday" to him on the phone. One of the first nights I was there, Jodie asked if I'd give Emma a bath before putting her to bed. Emma was excited - as long as it didn't involve washing her hair. I told her that I had a magic way of washing hair and she was cautiously interested. After letting her play for a bit, I got a big cup and brought it in the bathroom. I told her to look up at the ceiling and I'd use the magic cup to wash her hair and no shampoo or water would get in her eyes. It worked! Every bath after that, she insisted I wash her hair - even if Jodie was home. Jodie could watch, but only Julie could wash her hair! She also loved being Ariel in the tub. So we'd sing the "Ariel" song - basically Aahh, Aahh,....etc. - while she splashed around.

Nate is the sweetest little baby. Emma calls him "Naters", which I love! Nate is a very easy-going baby. He loves to be in his swing, he loves to be held, he loves his family, he just loves life. He is such a snuggle-bug, too! He is also so very patient with his big sister. Emmalee is trying so hard to be independent and that included being "helpful" with Nate. She always wanted to dress him and change him and he was so patient to let her pull him around trying to get clothes on him. There were a couple of days while I was there that he just wasn't feeling very good. He'd start fussing and I'd have to finish what I was doing (the dishes, making lunch, etc.) and just let him cry (although it about broke my heart!) When I'd finally get over to pick him up he'd just have these huge tears running down his cheeks, but he'd immediately grin up at me. I loved just holding him and talking to him - we had many long conversations! Oh, those grins!

I also loved staying up waaaaay too late talking and laughing with Jodie. (Heavy emphasis on the laughing part.) Did I mention that we laughed? A lot? It was great. I absolutely loved visiting the Gardners. The heartbreaking part came when I had to say goodbye. I really, really wish someone would just invent some sort of molecular transfer device already so I could just "pop" in to visit for the day! I miss those precious children so much!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Public Service Announcement

So, when you've been out running errands and you're really hot because you drive a piece of crap van (that you either have to have the remote key to unlock or else go to the passenger side because the key won't unlock the driver side) and you decide to stop and get a cherry slurpee because you haven't had one since you were ten and you're feeling all nostalgic and you also have some minor cold/allergy symptoms going on: don't sniff while slurping your cherry slurpee. 'Cause, ya know, OUCH! all the way up to your eyeballs!

I'm just saying...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mothers Day!

It's funny 'cause it's true...

Mothers Day is one of those huge, I-really-should-post-something-truly-deep-and-wonderful days. But I have a couple of problems with that.

A) My Mom is one of those that really hates all of the fuss and hoopla of Mothers Day. And I can never tell if it's because she feels more keenly her shortcomings as a mother (and believe me they are extremely few and far-between - but I sometimes think we Mormons could rival those of the Jewish tradition in the guilt arena...) or because we as her children can't quite get the day right. Probably a bit of both. Though, I think us kids are making strides in the right direction - hopefully.

And 2) I'm not a mother yet and desperately want to be one. My whole life all I've wanted to be was a mother. I'm fast approaching my 32nd birthday and it doesn't look like that dream is going to be happening anytime soon. Most of my friends are married and have children - in the plural. And I do enjoy being an "Honorary Aunt" to whoever will let me be. But that isn't the same as having your own.

Today in Church, one of the speakers gave a beautiful talk on motherhood. And in the middle she talked about women who don't have children of their own yet and how much she appreciates them and the influence they have on her children. I was really touched and got emotional (I know, shocker) and then felt dumb, especially since I was supposed to go up and accompany a musical number as soon as she was done. And I really wished that I wasn't there hearing that talk. Today I finally got a bit of a glimpse into that feeling of "I dread going to Church on Mothers Day." It was totally different than I thought it would be. I always got a bit frustrated when women would say that to me. I mean, come on! Just take the praise, will you? You really do deserve it and you get little enough thanks in the day-to-day job! Also, be grateful that you are a mother to enjoy that praise. Be grateful for the miracle that is motherhood! So many women want that desperately and can't have it. So honor it! But that's not what I felt. It was more of a "I'm uncomfortable with my emotions and would rather not deal with them, especially in public!" feeling. So, I'm sorry to the Moms I've sent frustration vibes at when they've made these comments. Maybe I understand a bit (just a tiny bit) more now.

What all of this rambling boils down to is: cherish the blessing of motherhood if you are lucky enough to be a mother. And if you're not lucky enough to have that blessing yet: Hang in there. There really are amazing perks to being an "Honorary Aunt" - sleeping through the night, being able to spoil adorable children, handing them off when they get cranky, etc. (all of which I would trade in a heart beat - but I'm looking for the joy in my right now).

And to my Mom: thank you. I can't say it enough, and I'm not even going to try to go into details, but thank you. I love you.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Let Me Entertain You

I am so incredibly behind on my blogging! Oops! Not only have I been uber busy - but I've been uber busy with things to blog about too! Needless to say I have another birthday, a few graduations, a play, a funeral, my trip (still), precious babies, recitals, and a star student to catch up on. And I still don't have the time to do so - so, for now I'll give you a couple of great videos of my deliciously neurotic siblings' trip to Europe (the siblings being neurotic, not the trip!)

Yes, my brother and sister actually did take a video on top of the Eiffel Tower after using the facilities. This is the family I proudly claim!

This is LSOC's impression of over-exuberant tourists. Apparently the sleep deprivation was kicking in big time. (Also, sorry that it's tilted side-ways. They forgot that the camera only records one direction!)

This is, obviously, after the sleep-deprivation completely took over. My apologies to Celine Dion and the entire deaf community (although, with Tergaso's belting, a case could be made for the need to apologize to the entire hearing community as well - JK!! I love you Tergaso!!!).