Mom Would Know

10 05 2015

Olan Mills

I wish I blogged more.

It’s one of those things, though, that is kind of like saying, “I wish I had a cleaner house,” or “I wish my book was all edited.” You can wish all you want, but unless you do something about it, nothing will change.

Here is my attempt to change into something I’d like to be better at. And even though I’m sure I’ll cry through the entire writing of it, I will persist.

My mom passed away in December, after battling brain cancer for over three years.

She was 67, much too young to be done living.

I am 37, much too young to be without a mother.

But, alas, we don’t get to choose when people die. (When that occurs, it’s called “murder,” and that is a very bad thing.) Even though I’m too young to be without a mother, and mom was too young to be done living, it still happened. So I trudge along as best as I can without her.

That doesn’t mean I don’t miss her. I miss her every day.

That doesn’t mean I’m unhappy, either. I am very happy.

But there is the space in my world that she used to fill, and it’s empty now. No, it’s worse than that–it’s a vacuum. Things get sucked inside of it. Things she told me and things she taught me and the way her laugh sounded–there’s a black hole there, and I have a memory, an imprint, but it’s just a whisper. A shadow. A wraith I see in my peripheral vision, but when I turn to see it fully, in color and three-dimensions, living and breathing . . . it’s gone.

When someone has cancer, you supposedly prepare for this sort of thing. You know that damn cancer is eating away at the person you love, and so you store up everything possible: stories, pictures, smiles, hugs, kisses.

And I did do that.

But, as the old saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know.

I didn’t know I didn’t know the special trick to a certain recipe. I didn’t know I didn’t know how this or that relative is connected to me. Or the way to fix a quilting issue. Or the way to parent a stubborn child.

“Mom would know.” She’s only been gone six months, and I probably think that phrase twice a day. Things that before I could call her about and she could tell me in less than thirty seconds.

Shoot, she’d even be able to tell me what it’s like to lose and grieve for your mother. She lost her own when I was just a teenager.

Sweet Colby talks about her several times a week as he’s saying his prayers. He’ll look at me for confirmation. “Oh, Grandma’s in heaven. Grandma feels better.” I’ll reassure him that, yes, she is in heaven, and, yes, she is all better now. “Oh, Grandpa doesn’t have a brain.” (I always tack “tumor” on the end, but no matter how many times I say it he just can’t seem to remember.) And then he’ll say, “Grandpa’s heart hurts.”

That is my experience with grief thus far: the pain, the aching, the hurting. It doesn’t go away, either, although there are days when I feel it less than others.

But today is Mother’s Day, albeit very early on Mother’s Day, and so I am resigned to it hurting a whole ton. I will let it wash over me. I will allow myself to feel it. I will cry. And I won’t feel ashamed of my tears or try to explain them away.

I will hold my children close and tell them stories of my childhood, stories about their grandmother. I will laugh with them and cry with them.

And I will send a special prayer through Heavenly Father to my mom, to let her know how much I love and miss her.

But I’m pretty sure she already knows.

School Is Back In Session

11 09 2013

Long time, no blog. Crazy life! I felt a bit like summer went too quickly, but once the kids were back in school and we had a routine it felt like I let out a big sigh. It was time!


Who’s too cool for eighth grade? Yeah. This guy.


Starting middle school in grade six!


Fabulous fourth–


Number one first grader here–


The elementary school kiddos.


The middle school peeps.


This is my favorite picture from the morning.

I sure love those kids of mine.

We’re back in session!

A Week Wherein I Actually Used My Camera

27 08 2011

My worms. For some reason, this was the preferred method for listening to the Family Home Evening lesson. Not that I’m complaining–the poking gets cut down significantly when there are no arms.

We went to the Thompson’s for a cousin sleepover this week. Much laughing, playing, fighting, cooking, and crafting ensued. (What we lacked most was sleep.) This picture is of Kathleen and six of our combined eight kids at a dock, looking in the ocean for sea creatures.

Look! It’s corn! I think it’ll be ready by next week or so.

My community garden spot has been muy fabuloso this season. I have turned into that one lady that brings squash to church and tries to get everyone to take it.

I’m still plugging away at my room re-do. The rug came this week (my splurge) and it looks fantastic. Now I just need to get some furniture–

One more week of summer before school starts. Then I might start blogging again on a more consistent basis.



Divas All

31 07 2011

Apparently, the depth of my love is shown in the number of pictures I post of you on my blog. And they also have to be a full headshot. Who knew my brothers were such divas?

Technically, this isn’t just Greg alone, but the focus is clearly on him. And his s’more.

I’m pretty sure toasting the perfect marshmallow is prerequisite for working at Fish and Game.

Also, don’t get between Sam and his Taco Time food. It isn’t wise.

Love you all, mis hermanos.


This Post Is Hilarious (Well, Funnier than the Last One, Anyway)

18 06 2011

I am taking the gentle hint left by my dear brother in the comments to lighten up a little! In so many words.

Seriously, though, I tried to think of something funny to post about, but I couldn’t.

Did you hear that? I couldn’t think of anything funny to post about. That, my friends, is pretty sad.

Apparently I do need to lighten up. Or at least write things down because I seem to be having trouble retaining things at an ever-increasing rate. (Does that sentence make sense? The trouble retaining is increasing, not the actual retention. Right.)

I woke this morning from one of those in-and-out dreams that happen when you wake up a little but fall back to sleep again directly. The dream continues, and when you wake up fully lots of details are still pretty vivid. As I skimmed over those details in my mind (which included a heaving bridge, a forceful [by me] evacuation from the car, a diner with a mis-spelled name, a birthmark shaped like the Jordache logo [I know, right?], a point-and-shoot camera that took impossibly amazing photos of my parents, and a mouthed conversation with Jana Parker [does Jana Parker even know who I am? What’s she doing in my dream, anyway?] across the diner) I thought  I might come up with some way to make it all funny for a blog post.

But then I remembered this. “Ah.” I thought. “Blog post written.”

This is an ad from the USAToday weekend insert of the newspaper. What I find most hilarious isn’t necessarily the products (although some of them are pretty great), it’s the pictures. They are so obviously doctored it isn’t funny. Okay, wait. It is funny.

These anti-wrinkle patches are free–NO hidden charges and NO automatic shipments. What they don’t tell you is the before picture lady has lines drawn on her face, and the after lady simply washed them off.

This might be more convincing if the pictures weren’t actually cartoons.

Hmm. Luckily I don’t have this particular beauty issue. But if I did, it’s a relief to know they stay put when exercising and dancing.

I think this one might be my favorite. I wonder what “gently activate molecules and increase lip size by plumping up lips” actually means. It appears (at least to my uneducated eyes) that the shell thingy you put over your lips acts rather like when you put your mouth into a tube and suck on it until it sticks to your face.

In which case, I just saved you $24.95 (plus S & H).

You’re welcome.

The Perfect Test

22 05 2011

I am good at taking tests.

That isn’t bragging, it’s a statement of fact.

By the time I was in sixth grade, I had figured out how tests were written and how they connected with the material taught in class. I knew what things to study (and what things to skip over) to get high marks on almost any test.

The only exception I remember was my junior year in college. I had a business ethics course with a professor who lectured the entire two hours of every class. I took notes on what he was saying according to my past history of test-taking. He also wrote our text, which was less of a textbook and more of a collection of essays he compiled.

We had two tests that semester, a mid-term and a final. When I opened my mid-term and looked over the questions, I almost started laughing. But not because anything was funny.

It was like the test was written in a foreign language. I had no clue.

And, seeing how I was a junior in college at this point, it was not only frightening but completely surprising. I had this test stuff figured out. Who did my professor think he was, changing “the rules” like that?

In hindsight I can see he wanted to truly test our knowledge. It wasn’t fact regurgitation, it was principle application. At the time, though, it stressed me out. What if I lose my scholarship over this?

That mid-term changed a lot of things for me: how I took notes in that class; how I studied the notes; how I listened.

The final, though less surprising, was no less frightening.

I realized I was not the test-taking machine I thought I was.

In Alma 34:32 it says, “For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.”

We hear often that this life is a test. I only recently started looking at that a little deeper. If this “preparatory state” (Alma 12:26) was indeed designed by God–and I believe it was–and if God is indeed a perfect being–and I believe He is–then doesn’t it follow that God has designed the perfect test?

There have been times in my not-so-distant past when I wanted someone else’s test. It wasn’t until coming across these scriptures in a quiet time that I realized something: God designed my test for me. He knows what it will take to turn me into what I want to become.

(And I doubt a regurgitation of facts will be on the final.)

I don’t always agree with Him and His methods. Lots of times I don’t like it.

I find myself asking, “Why?” and “Isn’t there any other way for me to learn this particular lesson? To rub off this rough spot?” or even, “Does it have to hurt this much?”

That’s when I remember it’s a test. As new trials come, I find myself changing my study methods: what I focus on; how I take notes; how I listen.

I’ve learned God is always right. I have to trust Him and realize, especially on those days when I want to ‘trade’, that someone else’s test won’t get me where I want to go.

The Comfuter

28 03 2011

Colby showed me this yesterday.

“A comfuter,” he said.

This is exciting to me for a couple of different reasons. With autism, the imagination switch is broken. Concrete thought is the name of the game. As kids with autism learn how to communicate, they often have a hard time with expressions like, “We’re on a roll!” That sort of thing doesn’t make sense because they take everything literally.

Pretend play is a big step, then, for my little redhead. He didn’t cross the threshold and actually play with this pretend computer (I can almost hear his thoughts: “Why would I play with that? It’s not actually a computer, Mom. [Insert eyeroll in a few years.] It doesn’t work.”) Still, I’m happy he at least took something and pretended to turn it into something else.

The second pleasing thing is that he showed me what he had made. That sort of sharing, the look-what-I-did-Mom, isn’t a typical response for him. He’s learning, though, and we’re both enjoying it.

Something else for you to enjoy:

Growing up, the top of our Battleship box had a girl and a boy playing. There was a line coming from one that said, “B-6.” And a line coming from the other that said, “Hit! You sunk my Battleship!”

I don’t know if my version pre- or post-dates that (I got it at Goodwill), but I do find it interesting that the boys dressed up in naval apparel to play.

(Apologies if you actually did that as a child. I’m not really making fun of you, I’m just . . . well, okay. Yes, I am making fun of you.)

What is this thing called Spring?

24 03 2011

Spring is going to a park and contemplating its delights like a starving man at a Chuck-o-Rama.

Spring is practicing jumping off of rocks.

Spring is closing one eye because your mom is doing the same thing with her camera that is suddenly in your face while you’re trying to play.

Spring is bright green grass and bright orange hair (pretend that grass isn’t fake).

Spring is thoroughly investigating the merry-go-round . . .

. . . and even cautiously experimenting with it.

And spring is running,



Spring is sunshine on our faces after a long, dark winter.

Thank you, spring. You’re welcome anytime.

(Like today. Seriously, rain. Come again another day.)

Why Was 6 Afraid of 7?

21 03 2011



Answer compliments of Colby and his Jenga blocks.

Get Your Green On

17 03 2011

Last night, Rainbow said, “Mom, why don’t I have any green underwear?” She then pulled down her Tinkerbell pajama pants to show me her green Little Mermaid underwear.

“Uh . . . ”

“I want it to be all  green.”

She let the elastic snap back up then turned to go to her room. “And don’t put my pajamas in the dirty clothes in the morning. I want to be green all morning and  all night.”

Yes, ma’am.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!