27 April 2006

March 3, 1954 - April 28, 2004

***entered in scribbit's write away contest!

This picture was taken about 3 1/2 years ago. It is my mother holding my second child when he was just a few months old. It is the most recent picture I have of her and, sadly, the last time she was ever in my home.

My mother passed away 2 years ago today. She was found by my 14 year old brother on the floor of her bedroom... with no clothes on, and in the middle of prescription medication and sleeping pills. It had been a few months since my parents' divorce. My father had been newly engaged to another woman for just 4 days. 1 week previous she'd sent all her children an incoherent "last letter" of sorts, which was our only real clue to the awful state she was in.

I still remember the phone call. "Leilani, this is Dad. Where are you? Sit down... I have some very sad news." And I knew. I knew what he was going to say before he said it. Because my mother had been in fast, downward, uncontrollable spiral since I'd last seen her 8 months previous. Still, I cried "What? What?!"

She died a lone woman. Her unknown disease had created a rift between she and every relative in her life by her last day. Our only guess at her ultimate demise is depression and a personality disorder brought on by an abusive childhood. She never got therapy or treatment for these, it is only the opinion of my own therapist. Her cause of death was determined to be an "accidental suicide". Her liver failed due to an excessive intake of prescription drug medication that was prescribed to her for migraines. She'd been refilling her prescription at several different pharmacies, and had been seeing several different doctors for the same diagnosis.

There are oftimes in life when we seek answers to questions, but do not get them right away, or in the way which we expect. For me, these questions were, "Why was I born into this family?" "Why is my mother never happy?" "Why if she loves me does she hurt me?" "Why if Heavenly Father loves me, does he not rescue me?" "Will I survive?" "Will we survive?" "Will I heal?" "Will I ever be able to forgive my mother and move on?" I did not receive an ounce of clairty as to why my mother was the way she was my entire life... only brief moments of peace and reprieve from the darkness that hung over our home. I knew my mother's childhood had been bad, but she never shared the details. I was angry because I didn't once feel like she was held responsible for the abuse she inflicted on others. I prayed and fasted and studied my scriptures and prayed some more. As an adult, I finally realized I just wasn't going to get an answer, and that my only method for survival would be to sever ties with her. And then she died her slow death, unwinding into a helpless child until she just gave up. And I still didn't get my answer, but I got closure and peace, which is just as good. Though she was not in the right state of mind when she passed away, nor had been for quite some time, her life was complete and there was some eternal purpose in the timing and circumstance of her death.

After planning her funeral, after picking out the best coffin (a purple one:)), after choosing a headstone, after writing her eulogy and lovingly dressing her in white for her burial, I knew that she was in good hands... that she was finally in a non-threatening environment where she could trust and heal properly. Would Heavenly Father have preferred that she'd been able to do that on her own on this earth life? Maybe. But I sincerely feel that her death was an act of mercy, that she had come as far as she could on is earth with what she'd been given, that along the way able people had failed her and therefore Him, and he couldn't let it go on.

I loved my mother dearly. Despite her total lack of understanding for the purpose of motherood, she served it and I loved her. I loved her and felt badly for her. She tried so deperately to give me the opportunities to pursue my dreams and have an enriching life. She wanted the opposite for me that she'd had. For her intentions, I am grateful. She sacrificed a lot for me. Although her expectations were unrealistic much of the time, and we her children sometimes paid dearly for it, I know that I would not be half the person I am today without the experiences she provided me with. And I very much like who I am and the things that I am able to do. I believe that despite her mistakes, she accomplished the most amazing feats of motherhood ... All her children are strong in their convictions. They are disciplined and accomplished and stable. She is remembered with only the best memories by all who knew her. There was a tremendous outpouring of love at her funeral service by over 150 guests. It was the most moving gathering I had ever experienced and was testimony to me that I should find the good part in my life with her and not look back.

I know with a burning that I will see her again, and that I will be in awe of her. All the best things about her will be magnified and she will have shed her insecurities and been healed of the wounds from her childhood. I don't know how I know that, I just do. It's an overwhelming feeling! I have forgiven her. While I have a hard time putting it into words, I now at least understand why things happened the way they did growing up in my house and no longer question it. All those awful years in that stifled home - the screaming, the fits of rage, the beatings, the humiliation and degradation, and the confusion were the mysterious ways in which our Heavenly Father works on us... With a combination of testing us and weakening us and making us strong again and again, we are made unmovable.

26 April 2006

Wild Card Wednesday - I need to laugh!

Okay, gals. Send me your funnies... anything your kids have recently said, good jokes you've heard, commercials you've seen, embarassing moments... I want to laugh today!

I'll start us off. One of the msn searches that actually cached my site this week was "I hate my mommy". Lol! I came up 5th in popularity. Nice. Maybe it's true, though... yesterday my daughter woke up the baby from his nap and so I sent her to her room to finish it for him. Several minutes later I see a note floating down the stairwell, hear the scuttering of feet, and a door slam. I went over and picked the note up, admiring the stickers and pretty pink writing. It said "From Adriana, Mom I am very very very very (my eyes are welling up now because I *think* I know where she is going with this) very very bord."

Your turn!

25 April 2006

High Expectations

Sunday morning as I sat outside our chapel calming my toddler, I overheard a mother scolding her child. "Why are you acting like this? You're being such a brat!" she said in a frustrated voice. "I do not come to church for this! We are going back home!" Oh, goodness I thought. I knew the frustration she was feeling so well, and yet I felt badly for the child she was ridiculing. (And, shamefully, I was gratfeul that it wasn't me who was losing it). While I did not recognize her voice, I did her face when she rounded the corner in a hurry. Her eyes fell on mine and I could instantly tell she was embarassed that she had been heard. She dragged her children out the door all the quicker, letting it slam behind her.

This is a woman I'd never expect to raise her voice. She has a quiet demeanor, a sweet voice, and a soft touch with her children. I rarely see her have to leave Sacrament meeting. I've even thought to myself a time or two, "Why can't my children sit quietly in my lap like that?"

How often do we think "If only I was as calm as her, as organized, as talented, as good of a cook, as crafty", etc., etc. I'd subconsciously pinned myself up next to this woman and felt inferior, at least when it came to keeping a calm reign on her children in Sacrament meeting. And come to find out she is as real as I am! She struggles just as I do! Lightbulb moment!

It just reminded me that we tend to be far too hard on ourselves... Our expectations can get pretty lofty at times and we need to remember that life is hard. Motherhood is challenging. Were we able to do it perfectly, there would be no need for the journey.

I hope that the next time we find ourselves in a frazzled state of mind, we'll regroup and just accept that things cannot be in our control all the time. Nor are we alone in our struggles.

22 April 2006

Check it out...

Tigersue is trying to get a new website off the ground for LDS women's writings and thoughts... go visit, go be uplifted and go comment! Here is my contribution.

Have a fabulous weekend everyone!

21 April 2006

Why I hate taking family pictures

I love photography. Love it. I hate photographing my family. Hate it. None of them like being in front of the camera, first of all. Cutest darn people on the earth, too ( if i do say so myself). We do much better with candid shots, like this one (my favorite):

Of course, it helps when the subject is 6 months old and not into protesting yet. Still, even to get a good candid shot, where no poising or smiling or saying "cheese" is required, I have to wear my camera around my neck like a ball and chain the whole livelong day and take about 1,000 pictures.

I reluctantly share with you our family Easter pictures. Actually, half family Easter pictures. Why only half of us? Because the other 2 had a nice bath in red juice during Sunday School. It never fails to happen... the ruining moment, that is. Did I try to get my little family to cooperate for pictures BEFORE church? Yes, yes I did. Did my husband support me in that request? No, no he didn't. Imagine the look he got when the juice cup exploded all over the both of them. It was a classic look, I tell you. And I hope my words from earlier that morning were going through his mind ("We have a much better shot at a family picture now before life happens to us."), but I doubt it. Actually, he seemed shocked that the juice disaster happened at all. Yes, I know it was an unforeseeable accident. But these accidents find their way in on all major holidays and events requiring pictures. Murphy's law or something. He should know that as well as I do by now.

So, I'll start off with the best picture we got. Now, my husband is not a photographer. Otherwise he might have noted the shadows on our faces... namely the ones that highlight my pudgy 7 month pregnant cheeks. Also, that we might look better with feet. But I'm not a perfectionist or anything!

This is an interim picture of us getting TO the good picture... I look calm, but I am not. :) Through gritted teeth I am saying "Honey, please tell me before you shoot." "Adriana, stop making your turtle face." and "Jonah get your hands out of your mouth." Oh yeah, and "WHERE ARE OUR FEET!" :)

And this is the worst picture. Do not be fooled by our smiling faces. Particularly the cute ones. Jonah is doing his impression of a leaning tower and Adriana is beckoning a kick from the baby in utero. I, on the other hand, am thinking about strong drinks.

So there you have it. An Easter review. A yearly tradition. Can't wait for next year. Oh wait. Yippee. I don't have to wait for next year... because Christmas is only 8 months away.

19 April 2006

Wild Card Wednesday

Les gave me an idea for today's post with her entry about "your life as a movie". It made me wonder what the theme song of my life would be... a song that always pops into my head at just the right moment. The melody or the words taking me out of my element and transcending me to a higher place. Maybe it's the rhythm or the beat that does it for me.

There are a number of songs that hold a situation specific memory for me. "Every Breath You Take" will always take me back to my college days and make me think of my husband and how in love with I am. "Closer to Fine" will always take me back to high school and make me think of close friends and the timeless bond we share. "Kanaka Wai Wai", the Hawaiian song about the parable of rich man, will always make me think of my late mother. Each of my babies have a Primary song I've rewritten for violin solo and dedicated to them on their blessing day... "I Am a Child of God", "Mother, Tell Me The Story" and "A Child's Prayer".

I used to watch Ally McBeal from time to time (heathen that I am :)) and loved her solo scenes where Barry White's deep, penetrating, molasses-like voice would cut in and give her the courage she needed to do whatever crazy thing was on her agenda that day. I want that, lol!

So, do any of you have a theme song? Or is this just crazy talk...

18 April 2006

Owlhaven's Monday Challenge!

Mary over at owlhaven has issued a challenge.

Here it is: "Take three photos in your home that are reflections of YOU! What small items or small areas do you have in your home that makes your home your own? What shows your personality?"

This is SO up my alley! I LOVE MY HOME! It is a direct reflection of not only my own personality, but who we are as a family... what we believe, what we love, where we came from, what makes us feel warm and safe and comfortable. It truly is our refuge from the outside world!

First picture: This is the first decorating I did in our brand new home, 6 years ago. We'd moved all the way from Hawaii, and were consequently furnitureless for about 6 weeks. I'd gotten tired of the blank white walls (since painted green)and with what little budget I had after a $10,000 move and $2,000 furniture spree, I went to Walgreens and found these 3 beautiful cards, then headed over to Target for some $1 frames. I had a sample of wallpaper, a scrap of corrugated cardboard and brown wrapping paper on hand for matting. Totally made my day just to put up 3 pictures, let alone pictures that symbolize the fruit of life and an appreciation for our blessings (the scriptural quote on one of them says: "The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord" Psalm 33:5)!
Second picture: This little display is right outside our Master bedroom. These pictures are of my musical ancestry (which includes an opera singer and concert pianist) along with various parts of stringed instruments which I picked up from a pile of scraps at my favorite luthier shop. Music is a huge part of my life and I expose my children to as much good music as possible; I play the violin, viola, a little piano and love to sing. I also love having pictures of our ancestors up in my home. There is a much larger display of them right beside our front door. I feel like they are watching over us as we come and go during the day. :)

Third picture: I am in love with this armoire because it's one of a kind, handmade and was cheap! It holds a good deal of our food storage (which was previously housed under our bed, in our closets, and garage) and serves as a good reminder to us to always be prepared! Plus, it is the newest addition (as in delivered JUST YESTERDAY) to a kitchen that has been a true labor of love. We have gutted out the whole thing and redesigned it ourselves! Our kitchen is a place where good friends and beloved family gather together to laugh and celebrate. So, it is one of my favorite places to be.

17 April 2006

How do you distinguish yourself?

I'm reading a book right now about a recovering alcohol abuser. In her autobiography the author talks about the period of her life in which the only thing that distinguished her were the parties she went to, what she drank and the people she drank with. I began thinking about how I've distinguished myself throughout my life, and how careful I've always been not to get stuck in a rut. As a child, I distinguished myself as a social butterfly. I loved having many friends and being able to relate to many different kinds of people. As a teenager I distinguished myself as well rounded and outgoing. I tried everything at least once and found a lot of strength and confidence in pursuing my talents. As a college student I distinguised myself as a survivor. I took on heavy course loads and took classes outside of my requirements. I was also finally on my own, finally responsible for myself, and I struggled to take charge of my aspirations and separate myself from my mother. As a young married I distinguished myself as "the good wife" who would not repeat her parents' mistakes; who would have a house of order and love. As a first time mother I distinguished myself as one who would always be soft and caring and nurture those around her. Now that my family has reached full capacity, how will I distinguish myself? I am approaching a plateau. I will be at this stage in life for the next 19 years or so when my last child leaves the nest. While I stay at this status quo - "mom of four" - how will I distinguish myself? Furthermore, why is it so imporant to distinguish myself?

My mother gave herself completely to motherhood. She was an example of someone who lived for her children. And she considered her children's accomplishments to be a direct reflection on her, so there were high demands for success. I think this is an example of someone who lost themselves in motherhood, simlar to the way this author lost herself in drinking. It became her identity. An unhealthy and codependent relationship ensued. Likewise, my mother became codependent, relying almost exclusively on her children's aspirations to validate her existence as a mother. In the meantime, there were many, many amazing talents she'd abandoned... modelling, art, writing, singing and dancing.

Think of all the steroetypes that are tied to motherhood. There is the slacker mom, the soccer mom, the crunchy mom, the strict mom, the stage mom... It is no wonder we get completely consumed with our reputation as mothers. I don't want to fit any stereotypes, because regardless of their intent, there is a negative stigma attached to them. I like having something to distinguish myself by other than motherhood. While motherhood is my top priority, I feel I need an identity as well... something all my own.... something that serves as an outlet and something that rejuvenates me and something to thrive on. More importantly, something that will be part of my life as my children need me less and less. It's important and healthy, I think, to nurture our interests, to exercise our minds, to walk down many paths.

So, how do you distinguish yourself? I distinguish myself as a musician who teaches and performs every chance she gets. I imagine that in several years I will either return to school for a Master's degree in viola/violin performance or the recording studio. I also really enjoy and dapple with photography, interior design, art, gardening and dance.

14 April 2006

Tag, I'm it! 6 weird things meme

I've been tagged by Kristi over at A Beautiful Mess to share 6 weird things about me. Hang on while I call my husband and ask him, lol...

He says, "Well, you are overly concerned with your looks... like you take a lot of time to get ready for Church on Sundays!" Um, weird things, not rude things, honey! And in my defense, it is the one day a week when you're home to give me that time to primp! Sheesh!

Okay - here's 5 more things I think are weird about me:

1. I talk to myself in the car. Practice conversations and such. Seriously. Most of us do that in our head. Not me!
2. I always go to the bathroom before I step on the scale. I swear that it gives me a more accurate weight to pee first.
3. I have no eyebrows. I am jealous of those of you who can pluck and wax. I'd love to have some hair there! But, it's my job to keep those eyebrow pencil manufacturers in business.
4. I am a total dork... deep down. I love to make faces and annoying sounds. It feels so good to really be nutty sometimes, but I only get to do it when my brothers (also dorks) are visiting. Otherwise, I am not comfortable acting that way.
5. I have an obsession with stationary and cards. I buy them whether or not I need them if I like them... I LOVE browsing the greeting cards section. Sometimes I even frame them!

Go on. Say it... "I knew there was something strange about her!" ;)

Okay, so now I have to go bug 6 other people to do this! I pick:
1. Gabriela
Maine Mom

12 April 2006

Wild Card Wednesday - baby, baby, baby!

Are you familiar with these lyrics by 10,000 Maniacs?

"O, baby blankets and baby shoes, baby slippers, baby spoons, walls of baby blue. "

Well, they are ringing through my head as I have had serious baby on the brain. This makes Shelah's idea for a Wild Card Wednesday topic just perfect for today.

Babies are so easy to obsess over, are they not? I mean, who doesn't love all things baby? From the decision to conceive to actually birthing the little bundle we are totally consumed. There is so much to think about! The pregnancy, the right OB, gender, baby names, nursery decor, the layette, birth plans, cravings, nest building (or prenatal lunacy, depending on the mission list), birthing methods, baby gear, pregnancy journals, belly shots.

My brother and sister-in-law are having their first and I am watching as they realize how easy it is to get caught up in the process of bringing life into the world. At first it was like, "Well, all we REALLY need is some baby clothing and maybe a bassinet. We'll start there. Let's not get obsessive." I validated by reminding them that our father slept in a dresser drawer for a couple months.

Last week my sister-in-law called me and told me all about their family Halloween costume for next year. Strawberries. She and my brother will wear all red with green caps and the baby will be in all black (as their little seed). Aw. Now I am willing to bet money they registered for the tummy headphones that pipe Mozart into your womb and guarantee higher math scores.

Two months is all it took for her to get all caught up, lol. And that makes me feel better. Because regardless of what number child you are on, the obsession doesn't go away. As you all know, I am on my fourth. And it is a girl. That doubles my chances for obsession right there.

Well, you be the judge...

This is my favorite hand-me-down from my fellow baby clothing obsessor and sister-in-law:

This is the first baby gift I've received:
This is probably my favorite purchase so far:
Here is the best deal I've gotten ($12 for the whole outfit):
And the worst deal I've gotten (burp cloths, or burp pads as they are called in a snooty boutique):
Here is the frame I "just had to have":
And our monumental plans for Project Nursery:

In all honesty, I do have a little guilt over this because I know they are extravagant personal indulgences, not needs. And the baby's intuition will most likely be to grimace and wriggle free of all her adorable constraints... after all, there is nothing happier or more preicous than a naked baby. But there is something magical and wondrous about preparing for Baby's arrival. We throw ourselves into it partly because it tames our anxiety for the 3/4 of a year we have to wait to nuzzle the tiny fruit of our labors. It eases the immediate amount of work that will ensue upon her arrival. It brings such joy to begin celebrating the minute we see those two perfectly pink lines.

Now - if you'll excuse me, it is lunchtime, and I think I'll go indulge in a little "eat for two"...

10 April 2006

birthday fun

Well, the art party was a smashing success... I always say, the proof of a good party is an exhausted hostess, lol, and that is exactly what I was! Phew! Here are a few pictures!!!

the invitations...

First the children painted this mural together:

Then they drew portraits of each other and we hung them up for all to admire.
This is the portrait Adriana's partner drew of her!
The children handstamped a t-shirt for the birthday girl as a memento:
And a bonus picture of my Drewbers with his grandmother...

07 April 2006

Confession Session

Wednesday's pet peeve deposit was so effective, I thought we could do a confession session today... this propelled by my in-laws' visit this week.

I have one closet in each bedroom and a very small coat closet downstairs. I always forget until they get here that they actually need a place to keep their clothes. Lol. And as I have very few closets, they are all stuffed to the brim with not only clothing and coats, but holiday decor, tchoskes, pillows, blankets, vacuum cleaners - you name it, and in no particular order! So, this is my confession - I am a closet pig! I am very good about keeping a clean and tidy home, to the envy of many of my friends, but what you can't see really doesn't bother me. So, imagine my horror, when on the spot I have to open up a closet and shove things out of the way for my interior designing mother-in-law to hang up a few articles of clothing. It's a humbling experience, to say the least.

... okay, you know what to do!

05 April 2006

Wild Card Wednesday - pet peeve deposit

Is something eating you? Do you need a place to release it? Well, here you go my friends. Today I offer to be your negativity bank. Deposit your pet peeve here. But promise me you'll really let go of it ... otherwise, I don't want to hear you whine. ;)

I'll begin. And because I am the hostess, I get to deposit more than one. Lol.

First of all allergies - which I can't really let go of - there is always something in season in the armpit of the world. But, I accept that there is nothing I can do about it. Still, it does not help my son who is trying to recuperate from surgery. Nor does it help me, who has entered the gloriously congested third trimester. But, I release my frustration. Ka-ching!

Second - false anonymity. Example - drivers. What is it that changes the minute people get behind the wheel? What goes off in their head? Little old ladies are suddenly shaking their fists at people and then you find your neighbor, who never misses a wave, riding your tail and obviously screaming something very loudly at you. Yes, for some, the car becomes some sort of disguise, like a cloak of invisibilty, and you become their target for pent up anger. I'm no exception. I vow to my children today that mommy is going to try very hard not to call other drivers big dumb jerks anymore. :)


Your turn!

PS - I may be scarce the rest of the week. I've got family in town for my daughter's 7th birthday. But when I return there will lots of pictures for your viewing pleasure! And maybe something poingnant, too! Lol... it will be worth your patience.

04 April 2006

Did you see? Did you see? Did you see?

I just want to call attention to my bee-yoo-tiful new title bar. Know who did that? Zoe. Zoe and I have been friends since college. We lived together for... two years was it, Zoe? Well, I can't remember a significant part of my life that she wasn't part of. :) She is one of the most creative and beautiful people I know! And I am so grateful for all she does for me. If you haven't checked her blog out, you need to.

03 April 2006

Just another "Manic Monday"

Right? WRONG! Although I do wish my bed was already made and that it was Sunday again.

My 3 year old had his tonsils and adenoids removed on Friday. He did so well that day... the nurses fell in love with him immediately because he was so compliant and didn't cry or fight or even whine. We got home from the hospital and within a couple hours he wanted real food- cheese sticks and tortellini. His sister had the same speedy recovery... both their tonsils and adenoids were removed by coblation, a relatively new technique which uses a wand to coagulate the tissue with a cool electrical current and saline (this opposed to burning, cutting, or lasering). The desired effect is less tissue area damaged, thereby cutting recovery time almost in half.

Well, Jonah's resilience didn't hold up long. By Sunday he wouldn't even swallow his own saliva. He wasn't keeping his pain medication (or antibiotics) down either, which only contributed to his discomfort. And because his stomach was empty, he just walked around the house dry heaving. As a mother, you just wish you could experience their discomfort for them!

Today has been better. He ate some macaroni and cheese for lunch and it stayed down. He is napping now. So we will try to get some more food in him and then try the medication again. If he has something in his stomach, I think he'll be able to tolerate the medication. And the medication of course will help him feel better.

With all that's been going on in my life, I've thought a lot about the importance of empowering myself - by staying close to Christ, through scripture study and prayer. And I've taken an interest in the women of the scriptures lately, too. One story I love is that of Sarah and Abraham. I've always felt an admiration for Sarah, but lately more of an understanding for Hagar's example as well. Could anyone possibly feel more powerless than she did? Here she was a servant, a slave basically, required to provide a child. Then she was sent away - homeless and single and pregnant. She made poor decisions in her powerless situation, but the Lord still extended his hand to her. Angels visited her.

Perhaps one reason why Hagar cut herself off from the Lord was because she felt so imperfect. I can relate to that. I think all women can. Especially when the going gets rough. This story is a reminder to me that if I feel distanced from the Lord, it is because I have moved away, not Him. I need that reminder right now. I need to remember to not allow myself to feel powerless. To beseech the Lord for guidance and strength. With that I know all this shall pass. That comforts me. That inspires me.