31 October 2007

Happy Halloween!

I love Halloween and try to do something fun for my kids every year. This year they got spooky lunches: mummy tongue sandwiches and spider crackers! See http://familyfun.go.com/ for more fun ideas.

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23 October 2007

Woman to Woman: Dealing With Grief

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For Woman to Woman this week, I am going to share a post about my mother's death that I wrote a couple years ago. It details my feelings towards her and my childhood and her passing so well.

As for grieving, to say that it happens in stages is putting it mildly. Almost 4 years after my mother's death, I still feel the lows. On one hand, I am past it and have figured out how to live in this world without her in it, and on the other I can't let myself get over it. Admittedly there are days when I will myself to think about her and miss her. It is hard to describe - it's almost as if that keeps my heart tender rather than closed off or hardened.

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.

I'm anxious to read what you all have to say on this subject. I'll be by later today! Don't forget to visit my co-host Morning Glory!

18 October 2007

Woman to Woman

Woman to Woman takes place again on Tuesday, Oct. 23. The topic is "Dealing With Grief"

Grief is a difficult process. And almost everyone has experienced it in some form, be it losing a spouse, a parent, a relative, a pet, a child or through miscarriage. Please share with our readers what you have found to be effective in helping you come to terms with the death of a loved one. How has it changed your life? How have you been able to move forward?

Morning Glory and I will be around to read everyone's contribution. I know I have not been around much but I am 100% committed to Woman to Woman, so please join in!

15 October 2007

Pretend Play

My kids have no school today, so I've given them some ideas for pretend play and they are having a blast! Pretend play helps children in all areas of development: language, intellectual, social and motor. And children that are good at pretend play often become good readers and writers with vivid imaginations.

Collect and sort a few props:

stuffed animals, empty pet food boxes, pet toys, food bowls, , child size broom, animal books

calculator/toy cash register, bags,sacks, food boxes/cans, coupons, play money, signs/newspaper ads, plastic food, stickers (price tags), baskets

books, old magazines, index cards, videos, audio tapes, rubber stamps

lots of shoes in various sizes, shoe boxes, play money, rulers, socks, sacks

paper, pens, calculator, tote bags, rubber stamps, paper clips, telephone, enevelopes, tape, file folders, scissors

junk mail, envelopes, small boxes, stickers/stamps, shoulder bags, rubber stamps

10 October 2007

maternity photo shoot

I've always loved photography - especially children's photography. Today I had the opportuntiy to take pictures of one of my beautiful pregnant friends. It was so much fun! I have to share some of the pictures with you...

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08 October 2007

Woman to Woman Book Review

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The Girls by Lori Lansens is a real page turner. Written so realistically that you forget that it is fiction, conjoined twins Rose and Ruby take turns sharing the intricacies of their life together as the oldest living craniopagus twins, striving to reach their 30th birthday.

Rose carries the main voice. She begins the "autobiography" almost exclusively, sharing the detailed story of their birth and their childhood with the generous Aunt Lovey and Uncle Stash. As her writings unfold, she invites Ruby to share her thoughts and feelings. Neither of them know what the other has written, although they do share certain instincts. But their differing perspectives provide interesting insight into the challenges they face together.

The girls are very different from one another. Rose is extremely intelligent. Her interests include reading, writing, and all things intellectual. Her sister Ruby is kind of a carefree sprit - likes to sing, and quite frankly is much more interested in celebrity gossip than the news. But they own themselves with a confidence that is inspiring.

Rose walks for the two of them. Because of Ruby's deformities and the fact that she is much smaller, Rose has to support her on her hip. Rose is very conscious of the fact that while she may have the working body, she is not as pleasant to look at as Ruby, known as the "pretty" one.

It is amazing to me how matter of fact the girls are about their lives. There is so much give and take between the two of them and it is not always fairly balanced. And although they work together like a well oiled machine, they are two very distinct women. This is obvious in their interpretation of certain events in their life. But the two viewpoints are necessary in capturing the whole picture of their experience, since one sees things plainly while the other is analytical.

Every turn of this story invokes a different emotion. It satisfies curiosity, it is humorous and it is heartfelt. There is mystery, there is love and there is tragedy. You've got to read it!

Visit more Woman to Woman participants who have linked up over at Morning Glory's blog!

05 October 2007

Just a reminder...

... that Woman to Woman is on Tuesday, Oct. 9! We're reviewing and sharing our thoughts on books; any fiction or mystery that you've read in the last 3 months is fine! Since the Woman to Woman particpants have always had incredible thoughts to share, it should be fun, so don't miss it!!!

02 October 2007

Font Fun

If you're into digital scrapbooking, you might be interested to know that I have a few fonts that are available or will be available in the coming months at http://fontologie.com.

"No two are the same" is currently available for free
HERE (but not for much longer):
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"Tall, dark and simple":
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"No two are the same 2":
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