Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Merrick Family Photo Shoot

 I've been asking (more like begging) people if they would be so kind as to let me practice with my very basic photography skills on their family.  It's been fun and I've learned lots along the way. More than anything I've appreciated the patience of the families who have born with me in my inexperience. A few weeks ago I tried taking our own family pictures.  Mmmmm...not so easy when it's your own kids.  I had always wondered why so many photographers hire other photographers to take their own family pictures.  Well, now I know why.  Most of them were ...meh, although I was happy with a few of them.  Here are some of them for your viewing pleasure.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Purple Ducks

The other morning as I was dropping Camden off at school, I heard Lauren from the backseat frantically screaming, "Guck!  Guck!"  (Her word for duck). 

I asked her if she had seen a duck. 


"What color was it?"

"Popo."  (Purple)

Since purple is her default color for everything, I told her, "Ducks aren't purple, silly!"

Fastforward a couple of hours.  From my bedroom I hear her screeching "Popo guck!  Popo guck!"

I come in to see what all the commotion is about.  There was Lauren, with eyes popped wide, pointing at the TV.  Sure enough there Elmo teaching a duck the specifics on how to quack.   And wouldn't you know he was purple... and wearing a sweater.

And so it is. 

I stand corrected by none other than the furry, red puppet who is supposed to be a toddler monster.   What good is a college degree and 30 years of life experience when with one swift kick in the pants, mother's reasoning takes the back seat to Elmo?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's here...

The big 3-0. 

Last night as I was lay next to Dennis in bed, I turned to him and said, "Well, this is your last night sharing a bed with a 20 year old woman.  From here on out, she'll be middleage."

It's really not to bad, this getting old business.  I like myself better than I did when I was 20. 

For the weekend, we decided to visit our long-time friends, the Landons.  As always they were wonderful hosts, and even surprised me with an early morning birthday party before we hit the road to return home.

In case you aren't acquainted, I thought I'd introduce you to my friend, Julie.  

We met in nursing school, had our first babies just 6 weeks apart, worked at the nursing home, then Women's Center at Logan Regional Hospital together, then shared the great town of Nampa for 6 months when we first moved here.  She's one of the few women I know who enjoys racquetball as much as I do.  We've ran a half marathon and a full marathon together.  We both married Idaho farm boys.  She's seen me at my best, at my worst, and everywhere in between.  It's always entertaining to go to each other's house and discover how many identical things we've bought without the other one of us knowing it.  We've shared many family vacations together, and each have four children, two boys and two girls, all within close ages of each other.  Our last babies are also 6 weeks apart.

Last night the two of us left the husbands and kids at home and went out to enjoy dinner and a movie.  As we talked over our dinner at the Olive Garden, we began talking about the days when we had first moved to Nampa.  I was newly pregnant for the second time and was still settling in after the move here from Utah. 

Although I was only 13 weeks along, which was still relatively early on in my pregnancy, I was devastated when the spotting started.  A few days later my OBGYN confirmed that I had miscarried. 
The pain of a miscarriage is one that is often difficult to understand yet is still very real, deep, and can be very long lasting as it was for me.  I still remember the day in sacrament meeting, months later, when a family in our ward blessed their little baby boy. The mother and I had both had the same due date and I cried through the entire meeting realizing that the baby I had miscarried would have been blessed that day too.  
Soon after I miscarried, I received dozens of phone calls from well meaning family members and friends trying to console me with phrases like, “I’m sure it was for the better,” or “Just be grateful you weren’t further along in your pregnancy.”  Although I appreciated their kind intentions, I felt terribly alone in my grief. 
Shortly after my appointment with my OBGYN, I called Julie to tell her the news.  All she said was, “Rita, I’m sorry."  She then sat on the other side of the line and wept.  She had no band-aid statements to give, just her silence, tears and genuine grief to share with me.  Those few moments of two friends weeping together on the phone was one of the purest expressions of love I have ever felt. 

The rest of my miscarriage story was a difficult one which included catching a flight to Chile with Camden just 6 hours after I miscarried while Dennis stayed behind.   I had bought the ticket months before, and after much prayer and a priesthood blessing, we decided that I should still go to Chile, despite the doctor's strong advice not to.  

Camden cried and refused to be comforted most of the seemingly endless flight.  With a squirming, screaming toddler on my lap, I continued to weep and mourn from grief, pain from the cramping, and exhaustion from the loss of blood and not having slept for days.   I had never felt so emotionally, physically, and spiritually spent.  I decided that even hell couldn't be worse than this.
The trip to Chile was heaven-sent.  I found the healing I needed surrounded by family, good food, and beautiful weather.   The non-stop pampering I received from my mom and aunt was...amazing.  Only the Lord could have known, so many months before when I purchased the ticket, how much of a blessing taking that risky trip would prove to be.  It was exactly what I needed to emerge from the dark place I was in. 

As we talked over dinner last night, she expressed regret at having felt as though she had not been enough of an emotional support to me during those dark and difficult days.  I reminded her of our phone conversation that day and told her that simple act was one that has always stayed with me.  In a number of grief-filled situations I've dealt with as a nurse, I've drawn from that day and remembered that grief is often best addressed when it is simply shared and not fixed.
So today, when I have so many things to be grateful for, I am particularly thankful for God-given friendships that carry us through the difficult times.   

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


The other day as I was putting around the house doing all the cumbersome things that usually fill my day from laundry to dishes to changing diapers, I began fantasizing about what my days will be like when all my kids are in school and I have the day to myself from 8am-4pm. 

What would I do with all that freedom?

Then with amusement I realized, "Really?  It's not like you have anything better to do." 

What would I do?  Go the grocery store?  The gym?  ...without kids?   Maybe get a job?  Big whoop. 

Then who would entertain me with stories about Kung Fu and Elmo when I'm driving in the car?  What would be the fun of putting a package of marshmallows into the cart at the grocery store without someone whooping in delight at the sight of them?  Churros at Costco would lose their magic without the sticky hands and sugary grins.

I don't want to become one of the older women in the grocery store who with regret tells the young mother to enjoy these days because before she knows it, they'll be gone.  I don't know how many times I've had older women smile sadly as they watch me with my children saying how they wished they would have appreciated those days when they had young children.  "Now," they say, "the house is empty and the days are lonely."

What would I rather be doing other than playing "Go, Fish" and making peanut butter cookies with pudgy, little fingers poking at the dough? 

A resounding nothing.

The best part of my day... squeezing, squishing, and kissing this little lady.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Blank Pages

The other day I was reading my cousin's blog where she wrote about her broken heart having just miscarried.  As I scrolled through a couple of her previous posts before the miscarriage, my heart broke for the beaming, smiling girl in her previous posts who had no idea the personal tragedy that was just around the corner for her.   If only we knew what lay ahead and behind for those around us, doubtless we would be more kind, compassionate, and patient with those we know.

There have been times when after writing a journal entry, I've thumbed through the blank pages ahead, wondering what stories will fill these pages someday.  Sometimes I go backwards in my journal, reading previous entries, reminiscing on the naivety of the girl who wrote the pages before.

I think this ability to see ahead and into the past is what makes God's love for us so different than what we are capable of.  When He sees us, He doesn't just see us in a snapshot of time.  He sees who we were, who we are, and what we will become.

I also think this is part of what makes a mother's love for her children so special.  When I see Camden, I don't just see the 7 year old with arms and legs sprouting faster than his body can keep up with.  I see him as a baby, who for months screamed and cried in pain as he received treatments for his clubbed foot.  I see the toddler who for 3 years was my little buddy each day as his dad went to work.  I see the little boy who so quickly became the man of the house when Dennis was in Africa.  I see the boy who loves to comfort and rock his little sisters and who stays up late reading to his little brother with a flashlight.  The ability to see people as part of a continuum is one of the keys to unlocking the mystery of unconditional love, and parents we are privy to a small part of that key.

I started working again one evening per week at a long-term care facility.  As I see some of the elderly patients with heads down and shoulders stooped as they sit alone in the hallway in wheelchairs, I wish I could sneak a glimpse into their past.  Who is the real person behind the fumbling words and shaky hands?  Surely there are giants and greats among them who were the kings and queens of their own little castles in their time.  Behind the cloudy, vacant eyes are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, just like mine. 


The older I get, the more dear my family becomes to me. This past weekend when I was in Utah I asked my parents to let me take pictures of them on their little farm so that I could get more practice with the new lens I just bought for my camera. As you can see, I'm still learning and have a long way to go, especially in figuring out how to get a sharper image, but I was excited to get pictures of my parents that show how these two wonderful people have grown together after almost 40 years of marriage.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

First Crush

Lauren seems to have developed her first crush on the guys from Hot Chelle Rae.  I had no idea who they were until I looked them up on Youtube so Camden could watch the music video to "Tonight, Tonight."   He had heard the song on the radio and asked if he could watch it.  As of now, the music videos has almost 20 million views and I think Lauren is personally responsible for at least 1,000 of those- not even kidding.  I love watching her little face as she watches it.  With a dreamy look in her eyes, she sings along totally off-pitch, bobbing her head and clapping her hands. 

I'm in serious trouble if she's anything like I was when it comes to boys.