Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas, Honey!

I don't have much to say today... actually thinking of my husband... all the cute little quirks about him that I didn't know about before we were married (miraculously, considering we dated for 5 years)....

Like his love of freebies! He sent an email to his family members this morning about a morning radio show prize giveaway that he wanted us all to participate in so maybe one of us would win. I think most of us hear those contests as we're driving around listening to the radio, and we think, "hey, lucky person. They just won an ipad (or whatever)." Chad always, always goes into action, ready to be that lucky person... Well, we didn't win the ipad this morning, but thanks to his freebie fire, we won free concert tickets to OK Go last week. We also got a Christmas tree marked down from $40 to $18 this year, because it was stuck in the wrong spot and Chad was willing to find a manager to see if they would honor the mistaken price. Ah... sometimes I find myself trying to hide a little while he's perusing booths and snatching his 6th free pen or water bottle or whatever (not all from the same booth). But it also cracks me up. I love this about Chad--I hope he never stops (mostly because I'm excited to see a 73 year old man grabbing for free toothbrushes. Priceless). And after a fabulous OK Go concert last Thursday night, is it worth it? Yes, I think so!

Like his inability to keep his hands off me, in public or even just in front of our kids! (Is this a TMI?) I'm sure at some point we'll have to stop making out in front of Coren, especially now that he can communicate what he sees... but it's going to take Chad some work to do it... And quite frankly, I LOVE this. And secretly, I hope it doesn't stop for a long time, like ever. Really, how many wives have the problem of too much public affection from their husbands? Awesome!!

Like his refusal to drive his work car an extra five or ten miles to catch up with me at his parents' house for the evening or something... I usually have go pick him up from a Park-and-Ride off the freeway and bring him back later... just because he doesn't want to use a single mile of gas on non-work activities. Because he has that much integrity. In everything, really. And it makes me so thankful that Coren will be growing and learning with a man like that as his father.

Like how he walks into his work party, and everyone has to come up and talk to him, just to be around him. How he has this dignified magnetic quality to him that draws people--all kinds! His coworker covered in tens of thousands of dollars of tattoos, his 40 year-old coworker with her teenaged kids, his previous coworker who reminds me so much of my little brothers, dancing with a tie around his head. Everyone wants to know Chad, to be around him. Everyone respects him. It sounds exaggerated, but ask those who know him--it's true. Honestly, I'm a little in awe sometimes.

Just a few of the quirks I was musing on this morning. A few little qualities (and oddities) that make my husband irresistibly fantastic! It's no wonder I needed to marry him from the first time I ever met him. Lucky me!

Merry Christmas Honey, how I love you!!

Friday, December 3, 2010

And because people wanted to see...

Here he is... My boy with chopped hair. My boy who no longer looks at all baby, who looks all boy, who makes me miss my little dude, but who is still as cute as ever (I can say that now, a month into the haircut, now that I've resigned myself to it).

Because the kids are still asleep...

I thought I would get on here and post some thoughts (miracle of miracles!):

I am surrounded by Christmas decorations--half put up and half laying around on the floor waiting to be assigned a place for the month. And I am starting to get that Christmas-y feeling.....

The hard/beautiful part of that Christmas-y feeling is that it always brings memories of my mom. This was her "basking" time of year, and now innately I want to do the same--put on Mannheim Steamroller's Stille Nacht, turn the lights off, lie down in front of the Christmas tree and just bask.... and cry. I actually can't hear that song without crying anymore; that is the quintessential Mom song for me. But the feeling is a sweet kind of painful, and it's lovely, not bitter or depressing, so it's welcome around this time of year.

And reflecting on Mom, for the life of me, I can't figure out how anyone else was born into the family after Tera... what do people do with more than two children?? Really, I want more than that myself (many more), but I'm still not sure I'll survive the stage I'm in now, with just the two. I am learning that a huge portion of motherhood must take place in the Now--does that sound like a super obvious statement? Let me explain...

I have been realizing the last month or so that I am TERRIBLE at the whole Ecclesiastical idea of seasons. I have goals, and they all need to be achieved now! I keep looking at the future and panicking about the things I'm not getting done now, things that I want to already have accomplished by my forties, like a Masters degree and a bestselling book, and a job working at a university. Thinking, I still want to be young and in touch (yes, I know, ridiculous) when I do those things. So I'm trying to live in multiple seasons of my life as if to prove to myself that I won't be held back... but held back by what? My kids? Um, yep, that's what I discovered this month--I have this awful idea that Motherhood is holding me back. Oh dear....

Now that's not to say that some women can't do it all right now--I actually know some women who have, and can. But I am not that woman. So I'm faced with the dilemma of choosing a season for myself. Well, I already kind-of chose (I have two kids), and I am teaching myself to submit to the natural turn of the season I'm in. It's hard. I am stubborn. I don't bend easily, and I often rage against things like, oh, common sense, that make me step back and reevaluate myself (really, who likes to reevaluate themselves?).

So then I turn to the women I love--how did/do they deal with seasons? My mom is foremost in my mind these days, because she loved her season.... and now that I can't ask her, I find myself wondering, how in the world?? How do you love a 20 year/7 child season? And I realize that she did it by living now, by making the present as important (maybe more) than the future. She lived this moment with this child, and this hour for this child, and that minute for that child, and there wasn't anything beyond that. And I mean that in a more exalted way than it sounds.... not that she didn't have ambitions, but that she learned to see the greatest ones she had--the ones that woke up every morning and needed her constant attention. I need my mother's vision, the ability to recognize that my forseeable future is my children, set that future aside, and live the present with them....

Remind myself that Coren became a toddler before I said he could. That Risa's little baby grins will only last for a couple more months before they lose that brand-new-ish something. That her thunderthighs will disappear (sigh!). That Coren will start talking in complete sentences--in English or Spanish, whatever--and will forget the language he jabbers in right now, a language that delights me! Remind myself that it doesn't get easier, ever, so stop looking forward to the easier.... Just tackle the now, and love the now, and bask in the now, and remember that the now is what I wanted then.... and what I will want later, when my next season starts. Ah, my beautiful, frustrating, peaceful, hysterical, tricky and delightful season of life: Motherhood!

Does every mother feel like this??

Monday, October 4, 2010

Risa's Birth

So this is two months late, but here's my journal entry for the whole experience...

Our baby is here (as everyone already knows at this point)! She is beautiful! I take back everything I said about never wanting girls… although I still have some fears that she’s going to be the high-maintenance death of me. But she’s so cute, I’ll get over it! J

But let’s get down to the nitty-gritty—Risa’s birth story:

Chad and I woke up dark and early at 4 a.m., and we arrived at the hospital at 5:30 a.m. A nurse came in and got me all hooked up, took my vitals, etc. You have to be hooked up to the monitors for at least twenty minutes before they can start the pitocin, so Chad and I spent the time watching the absolutely stellar lightning storm going on outside—so fabulous!! What better weather for a birthday, right?! We were LOVING it—thunder that sounded like cannon fire, and enormous raindrops pummeling the sidewalks outside. Awesome!

So the nurse came in and started the pitocin and went off-shift. Chad and I played a game of Farkel, and we chatted with our new nurse, Kirstin (soon to be my new best friend). My contractions were getting stronger, but they weren’t painful at all yet. So we turned on Brian Regan and were cracking ourselves—and our nurse—up for the next forty minutes. By the end of his routine my contractions were definitely more intense, but still easily bearable. I can’t remember what I was dilated to, but I think it was just about halfway. That’s when Dr. Harward came in and broke my water. What a strange feeling—suddenly there is a kiddie pool’s worth of water between your legs, soaking through layers of towels below you! Weird! And holy smokes! That certainly kicked things up a notch! It was amazing how that immediately affected the strength of my contractions. It was literally the very next contraction, and I was slammed by the intensity of it! And then I knew I was in trouble as far as all my Hypnobabies practice went. My contractions were suddenly coming so fast and hard that I had no time in between to get into the zone at all—serious bummer! So next time, I definitely need to get into the hypnosis before anyone does anything to my water sac. I was pretty sad about that part. I tried it for a while, but it was a no go—I barely had recovery time between the contractions, so there was no way I had the time I needed to talk myself under. So we ditched that, and I just leaned against Chad for a while.

Well, time sure flies when you’re in intensely severe pain, doesn’t it?! It had been about an hour since the doctor broke my water, and each contraction was unbelievably strong! I was at the point where my body literally could not keep still. I was shifting positions between each contraction—from climbing onto Chad to kneeling to laying down to standing to squatting to back on Chad’s shoulders (almost)—just to make it through each one. And I couldn’t really think past the next contraction. This is where Kirstin became my lifesaver!! We found out that she was a Hypnobabies mom herself, and she knew the scripts almost word for word. So although I couldn’t get deeply into the CD scripts, she could talk me through the contractions as they came. She led me through each one, rubbing my back and leaning on pressure points to ease the pain a little. And so the three of us worked through each one as it came and went.

And still they got nearly unbearable! I tried to talk to Chad: “Honey, I think…” “I think….” Every time, that’s as far as I could get… I found out later that Chad knew exactly what I was thinking, but wouldn’t put it into words for me (naughty!!). I wanted drugs! That’s what I wanted! I finally got the sentence out in a whisper. Kirstin told me that I was probably right in transition—that’s usually when women doing it naturally break down and ask for drugs—and if so, then I only had a few more contractions to go before it was time to push. So she checked me, and she was right: I was just about ready to go. So we bore through 10 more minutes of pain, and the doctor came in to deliver the baby.

Wow! It’s amazing all the things you feel when you have no drugs numbing things for you! Like a giant head moving through a tiny canal. (Sorry, that may be a TMI, but honestly!) And suddenly I understood what every woman means about not being able to hold back the urge to push. Once the doctor had me start pushing, there was no way I was stopping until that head was no longer blocking passageways. Oh man, what a crazy feeling! I was exhausted, and now I had to push… and push HARD! It’s ridiculous how you just want to stop and rest and yet that’s exactly what you don’t want to do (has anyone heard that birth is an emotional experience??). Thankfully, I didn’t have to push for very long: about 10 minutes, and the girl was out. Finally, relief!

Risa came out a smurf—no exaggeration! Her face was completely blue! Now, here I am on one side of the room being stitched up, and I see her on the other side of the room, totally blue in the face. My first thoughts were panicky ones—Oh boy, she isn’t breathing! Then I hear from the nurses, “Wow, she is really bruised!” Apparently, she moved so quickly through the canal, and her head was so big, that she bruised all the way out. Incredibly, she was pretty much pink by the end of that day; I couldn’t believe how fast the bruising went away. They cleaned her up a bit, checked her vitals, and brought her over to me.

Little Risa Julie Brooks is here! And she is beautiful! 9 lbs., 6 oz. (gee whiz! She even beat her brother!) She was born with a bunch of dark, dark hair (which I am hoping sticks around). And she nurses like a champion! Hooray!! We love the little beast already!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

And By the Way...

Did I tell you I have a weird son?? 18 months old, and his new thing is bugs. Not sure where this comes from--I'm not a big bug person. Not at all.
True, we have a pet tarantula, and I think she's pretty fantastically awesome! And low-maintenance, which, really, with the Sorensen pet death record, is the best kind of pet.
But my son goes to extremes with bugs. He will try to pick up anything--ANYTHING! roly-polys, beetles, grasshoppers, wasps, spiders... No fear. Yikes! I love his fearlessness, but I am learning I have to temper it with a few warnings... you know, like "That spider is a bad spider. Leave that one alone." Or "No, that is a hornet. It will hurt you. Just look."
How do you teach without stamping out curiosity and brave innocence? I'm learning.
Oh, but the best part is that he has to sample all these bugs he is discovering. Delish! Insect appetizers are on the menu for the next few months, I believe. Here we go!

Family Reunions!

Well, I was able to go to one of the three family reunions we had this summer... what a fabulous experience!! I went to the Grant reunion (my mom's side) in Brian Head last week, and the week was just truly wonderful!

I love reunions! Love them!! I love everything about them--the lack of sleep from staying up and chatting; the loudness in the evening that doesn't let up till midnight or something; the corny games and activities; the sightseeing trips; the food; the late mornings when nobody really gets ready before 10 or 11; the lounging and relaxing; and the people!! Oh, the people!! All my dear ones, concentrated in a single cabin (or two), just enjoying each other... Is there anything really more warm and fabulous than that?!

Some of my favorite highlights from the reunion:
--Karaoke night! Especially hearing my dad sing "Carolina In My Mind." My father, who is a wealth of musical talent (after all, we got half of our talent from him), but who really never sings alone. That brought me joy!
--Testimony night! And suddenly I remember why my family is so fabulous--they follow the Savior! Oh, and Tera's children kept things light with some priceless comments ("Almost everyone is crying!" "Mom said Be Quiet! You're too loud!")... Good times!
--Grandma's story time! My mom always told us Little Black Sambo when we were young. But hearing it straight from the source was a really tender treat!
--Bryce Canyon! Wow! Breathtaking!
--Staying up till 4:15 a.m. with my sister, Tera, talking about all the things that sisters talk about... it's been a while since we did that, hasn't it, Girlfriend? Totally worth the dark undereye circles the next morning!
--Brok's fabulous BBQ! Delish! (Actually, all of the food was rather stellar, wasn't it?)
--Basically, just watching everyone talk and smile and laugh and love... that is why we do reunions, with all the prep and hours of travel and cost and everything. And then we get together for a few days, and really, who cares about all of that?!

So it was indeed splendid for me! I wish my husband could have been there to enjoy all of you as I did. I miss everyone already! And thank you, thank you to Heather--it couldn't have been more perfect. Really! Loved it all!!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ah, Parenting... a humbling experience lately. Coren is right at the age where he now understands what Mom does and does not want him to do; and the age where he's discovering he can either do or not do what Mom wants him to do. A tricky age.

A few examples from this last week:

The minute I tell him not to run out into the street, into the street he runs as fast as he can go (which is surprisingly fast these days... not to mention I've gotten significantly slower). And he usually runs straight into the path of an oncoming car. Of course.

I ask him to come over so I can change his diaper, and he climbs onto the couch, giggling, and crawls to the other end, because he knows I'm too tired to get off my rear end and get him. This one is actually not bad--more of a game for both of us than serious defiance.

Today, my favorite--after I told him about 13 times to leave the paint alone (sending him out of the room nearly half of those 13 times), he drops a nightlight into the paint, then onto the carpet. Now his carpet is pink. Fabulous. That one nearly sent me over the edge.

But this really is not a surprising development. When kids are discovering their agency, it's only natural to experiment with it, right? Test limits (or parents, at least) and see what happens. This I have been expecting. What I wasn't expecting is how directly his little moments of free will show me my parenting flaws. I have had to apologize to my little 18 month-old more often this last week than in the entire 17 previous months of his life. A humbling experience. And at the same time, one I am grateful to be passing through (though it's not easy or fun necessarily)--first, because my son is so forgiving. And second, because I am learning that even parents should never be above admitting our faults (which are my case, anyway). And I can see exactly which areas of my personality need some scrutinizing and improving. Good to know.

And on the flipside of the parenting coin, this week has also given me a treasure trove of tender moments with my same sassy son... Isn't it nice to have the bitter and the sweet? Opposition in all things really is a perfect idea.

Some favorite examples of these tender moments:

Coren running around the house, calling out "Honey!", as he tries to find Daddy.

Any time he hits his head or smashes a finger, he immediately comes to me to kiss it better--and he makes me kiss it over and over until I get the exact spot that was hurt. Where do they learn things like that, that Mommy's kisses make crashes better? I don't think we teach them that, do we? I don't remember teaching it.

His newfound love of running--he has to do at least a dozen laps across the upstairs every night before bedtime. As a perk, it also helps wear him out right before bed. Yeah! And it's always a joy to watch his loud, lumbering run--absolutely no grace whatsoever. Maybe he'll find some later on.

His super excitement whenever we start to sing Popcorn Popping or Itsy Bitsy Spider. He can't wait to go through all the hand motions, and every single one is seriously intense! So great.

Isn't parenting a ride? One minute they're cracking us up, and the next we are restraining ourselves from putting them up for adoption on Craigslist. What a ride! And I must be enjoying it, because I'm near the front of the line for ride #2... just a few more weeks!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Conference Highlights

I just finished reading through all of the General Conference talks this week (for those unaware, General Conference is a semi-annual televised conference where we get to hear counsel and testimony from our prophet and the other general leaders of the church). I am always impressed by how many of the talks seem to have been written for me--just the things I need to hear and remember for the next six months. So here are some of the highlights from the talks this year, the parts that really jumped out at me, for myriad reasons, probably. Obviously, you just don't get the full effect from one little excerpt of each talk, I know. And I realize the things that some of these quotes will not have made the same impact on the rest of you. But, since this is my journal, here are my thoughts and impressions:

On his talk about the priesthood: "I include the sisters because it is crucial for everyone to understand what is expected of the brethren. Unless we enlist the attention of the mothers and daughters and sisters--who have influence on their husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers--we cannot progress. The priesthood will lose great power if the sisters are neglected."
-Boyd. K. Packer, "The Power of the Priesthood"
-It's always good for me to be reminded of the influence I have on my husband... especially when I feel like he's always the one lifting me up. It really is reciprocal. And I just need to remind him, on a daily basis, of what a wonderful man he is, of the power he has to guide and protect our family, and how grateful I am to him that he uses that power with such gentleness and love.

"Women should be women and not babies that need petting and correction all the time. I know we like to be appreciated but if we do not get all the appreciation which we think is our due, what matters? We know the Lord has laid high responsibility upon us, and there is not a wish or desire that the Lord has implanted in our hearts in righteousness but will be realized."
-Julie B. Beck, "And upon the Handmaids in Those Days Will I Pour Out My Spirit"
-It's just really good advice for any mother to remember, as much as we don't want to hear it sometimes. So my 18 month-old doesn't tell me thank you for changing his diaper. So what?! He loves me, and shows me in a dozen other ways every day.

"Hope comes from faith in Jesus Christ. He has already overcome the world."
-Wilford W. Andersen, "The Rock of Our Redeemer" (emphasis added by yours truly)
-This one statement, for some reason, was incredibly powerful to me! I forget all too often that I'm not slogging through my trials and battles alone--Christ already went through them, and He already conquered them. If I let Him, He will guide me through them as well, and I can lean on His expertise, instead of my own human failings. Isn't that something to remember?!

"Parents must bring light and truth into their homes by one family prayer, one scripture study session, one family home evening, one book read aloud, one song, and one family meal at a time. They know that the influence of righteous, conscientious, persistent, daily parenting is among the most powerful and sustaining forces for good in the world. The health of any society, the happiness of its people, their prosperity, and their peace all find common roots in the teaching of children in the home."
-L. Tom Perry, "Mothers Teaching Children in the Home"
-Ah, so our family foundations aren't built in a day?... So good to know, especially when they're still so young that they could care less about holding still for scripture study. It's getting in, on some level, day by day. I love that. Makes the task of mothering much less daunting.

"In the end, the central purpose of all scripture is to fill our souls with faith in God the Father and in His Son, Jesus Christ--faith that They exist; faith in the Father's plan for our immortality and eternal life; faith in the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which animates this plan of happiness; faith to make the gospel of Jesus Christ our way of life; and faith to come to know 'the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom [He has] sent' (John 17:3)."
-D. Todd Christofferson, "The Blessing of Scripture"
-There it is. Need I say more?

"Someone said once that true love must include the idea of permanence. True love endures. But lust changes as quickly as it can turn a pornographic page or glance at yet another potential object for gratification walking by, male or female. True love we are absolutely giddy about--as I am about Sister Holland; we shout it from the housetops. . . Love makes us instinctively reach out to God and other people."
-Jeffrey R. Holland, "Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul"
-I always, always love Elder Holland's talks. I love that he is forthright and unapologetic about his strong words. But this especially won my heart because it sums up everything I feel for Chad--everything he makes me feel! And I am sad for those out there who confuse love with lust, who can't get this. Who think, like Elder Holland mentioned, that if their fire is low, it must mean they need to move on to someone else. No! Absolutely not! If that is the solution you choose, you will be sadly moving from person to person the rest of your life, unfulfilled, never attaining the enduring, giddy love that is so possible and world-changingly wonderful (thanks to husbands out there like my Chad)!

"'Our family's faith is in Jesus Christ and is not dependent on outcomes.'"
-Dallin H. Oaks, "Healing the Sick"
-I sort of want to write this in giant letters on a poster and hang it on a wall. I hope my children grow up understanding this fundamental, all-important principle of faith. That we exercise faith in Jesus Christ, regardless of whether we lose mothers, go through long illnesses, lose jobs or houses, suffer unjustly from the persecution of others, etc. Faith in Jesus Christ grants us the grace to move through all of those things, but only if it is founded on Him in such a way that, even when prayers are not answered how we wish, we know He is still with us, and it is His will that we strive to do.

To the young men of the church: "Satan would have you think that you are too young or that there are too few of you to do significant things with the Aaronic Priesthood. None of that is true. God's words to Moses are for you today: 'Behold, thou art my son;. . . and I have a work for [you]' (Moses 1:4, 6). He has given you His power to do great things. As you fulfill your duty to God, you will strengthen and bless your family. This is your greatest priesthood duty."
-David L. Beck, "The Magnificent Aaronic Priesthood"
-I am blessed to come from a father who is a wonderful priesthood holder. And the same goes for my father-in-law. However, this warmed my heart because I thought of my brothers, also great men of God, who I hope truly understand this as well--that they are capable of great things in the hands of the Lord. That their righteousness blesses our family as well. And I want my son to understand this as he grows--that he too is a force for good in our home, alongside his righteous father. Love it! Great words!

"Nevertheless, without patience, we cannot please God; we cannot become perfect. Indeed, patience is a purifying process that refines understanding, deepens happiness, focuses action, and offers hope for peace."
-Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Continue in Patience"
-Yep, hard words, but great words. True words. I need to work on this.

"Throughout the world and among the membership of the Church, there is great joy and great pain. Both are part of the plan. Without one, we cannot know the other. 'Men are, that they might have joy' (2 Nephi 2:25) and 'for it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things' (2 Nephi 2:11) are not contradictory; they are complementary."
-Donald L. Hallstrom, "Turn to the Lord"
-I can surely say that I have learned this lesson... and life is truly felt deeper and lived more fully when this lesson has been learned. The sorrow of life is there to make the joy that much more deeply joyful! To live on the surface of life, where things are calm, where is the feeling? Do I understand the majesty of the mountains better from the plain or the deep valley? Depth gives life dimension, so give me depth! Difficult as it will be at times. The great joy that follows is worth it! (Having said that, this is not an invitation to the Lord to start giving it to me right now. I'm just acknowledging that it has come and it will come. That's all.)

"Second, we must become worthy examples. This is also a process. If we want our children to come to Christ so that they might see His face, it is important that we seek to see it as well. We have to know the way in order to show it them. We must put our own lives in order so that the children can look to us and follow."
-Cheryl C. Lant, "That Our Children Might See the Face of the Savior"
-Good reminder for me. How can I teach a child that which I don't know/do myself? Do my words, or do my actions, speak louder? What example does Coren see on a daily basis? What kinds of choices does he watch me make? What is it teaching him? What do I want to be teaching him?

"As President James E. Faust said: 'There is no greater good in all the world than motherhood. The influence of a mother in the lives of her children is beyond calculation.'"
-Bradley D. Foster, "Mother Told Me"
-Amen! Thank you, Mother!! I am working on it.

"President Thomas S. Monson stated: 'I believe the Savior is telling us that unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives. Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and figuratively lose their lives, while those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish--and in effect save their lives.'"
-James B. Martino, "All Things Work Together for Good"
-Isn't this so true? I know that the weeks that feel most fulfilling to me are the ones where I got out of my house and helped someone, where I served my husband and son with more love and enthusiasm, where I helped babysit or clean or whatever... where I did something that wasn't centered around me! And it feels wonderful! Even those times where we think we don't have time, doesn't it always work out anyway? And we feel so much better about life when we've done it, whatever small act of service it happens to be!

"To fathers and mothers. . . my counsel is to speak more frequently about Jesus Christ. In His holy name is great spiritual power. 'There [is] no other name given nor any other way . . . whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ' (Mosiah 3:17)."
-Neil L. Andersen, "Tell Me the Stories of Jesus"
-Again, enough said. I need to tell Coren more about the Savior--I need him to know that I know who Christ is, and how important He is to me and to us as a family! That He is the center of everything!

"Trust in the Lord's promise: 'Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest' (Joshua 1:9)."
-Ann M. Dibb, "Be of a Good Courage"
-There it is. God is with me wherever I go... even in raising 2 kids instead of just one. It'll be okay.

(You can find all of these talks in their fullest in the May 2010 Ensign of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or on . . . I'm an English major, I have to cite my material. :)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, Momma.

The genius of the beauty of the stars

Is not the stars;

But is the space

That stands behind like black velvet,

Showcasing the stars

Like scattered diamonds.

What beauty:

That each brilliant shard

Must for a moment glow,

Then fade to black,

To become the background-

The beauty-

Of the birth of another star.


I wonder why I didn't ask you how to make biscuits, how to give piano lessons, where you ran to when all four kids under five years were grumpy at the same time, how you could stand to make dinner every single night for 20+ years with a smile, what it was like to be a young wife and a young mother, what you thought of Chad when we were dating, and how it felt to be looking at earth and heaven at the same time. I wonder why I didn't record your voice singing familiar songs, why I didn't write down all the recipes you never wrote down, why I didn't take more pictures of you, and why I didn't tell you every day in those last months how very, very much I love you. There are always regrets.

However, even more reassuring to me is this: that your girls (myself included) spent late nights in your room talking about silly and important things alike, that you were home every day when we walked into the house to hear our latest news, that (hopefully) you never doubted how much we liked to have you along for firesides/meetings/activities because you were always there with us, that I knew you were the most wonderful mother I could have been given, and that I told you I loved you often enough that--despite missed opportunities--you already knew it. I am grateful that we knew enough to appreciate you and Dad, even as difficult teenagers; that our relationship was one of love. It is comforting to know the peace far outweighs the regret.

And I'm sure you know now, with the privilege of keeping a heavenly eye on us, how much more I miss you now--when I'm in the ER with my crazy child; in my disbelieving of your equanimity with seven when sometimes one is enough to send me over the edge; and when I ponder upcoming baby blessings, home projects and stressful parenting days. I begin to realize that there's a never-ending list of questions I didn't know I'd want to ask you. But I remember watching you, and I find countless lessons of wisdom in the memories. So Happy Birthday to my immortal mother--to one of the very brightest stars to fill my sky! And if I shine at all, it is because you are my background!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Coren's Awesome Room! #2

Apparently, I can only post five photos to a blog. So here are the rest! After two months of tedious work, we finally have a fantastic nursery! And we are ALL so happy to be done!!

Coren's Awesome Room!

Here they are--the pictures of Coren's room! And no, you don't get the full effect of the room, but at least you get to see all the little pieces of it... The Awesomeness is unstoppable!! I'm pretty darn proud! :)

No, The ER Doesn't Get Easier!

So, as usual, this is a little late coming, but here's our adventure of the week--my journal entry from May 12th:

Well, yesterday was quite the episode… Another trip to the E.R. for my boy! That’s twice in less than a year. Gee whiz!

I was babysitting Alexa and Noah yesterday morning while Ciara went to her doctor’s appointment. The two of them were playing downstairs while I put in a load of laundry. Coren, as usual, was wandering back and forth from playing with them to entertaining himself in other areas of the house.

Then I hear a giant thud, followed by one or two littler thuds, and there is my boy, at the bottom of the stairs, looking very confused and absolutely terrified for an instant. Then he started screaming. I scooped him up and hugged him, trying to soothe him. The spooky thought in the back of my mind was that there hadn’t been a series of thuds. So he must have been up on the shelf above the stairs before he plummeted. Just a bit worse than a regular stairs tumble.

“Are you all right?” I asked and looked at his face…. Yikes! Mom’s turn to be terrified. His mouth was full—FULL—of blood, and it was streaming from his nose. I ran up the stairs, instantly in a panic. I stripped off his clothes and started washing off the blood, just in time for panic moment #2: Coren suddenly goes limp as a rag doll in my arms—won’t stand, won’t hold his head up, won’t even focus on my face. “Holy nightmare!” I think, as two equally horrible ideas leap into my mind. “My son has got brain damage. Or he’s snapped his spine. I’ve destroyed my child’s permanent development!”

So what to do now? I’m pretty dang sure he needs to go to the emergency room, and here I’ve got my niece and nephew. So I call Ciara to see how far a way she is—luckily, she was only minutes away. And I called Chad…. Which now, as I reflect, could have gone better. I think my new rule should be to wait 10 minutes from the emergency, then call my husband. Because I’m certain the message he listened to was not very balanced in its delivery. It sounded a little something like, “Um, Honey, I’m just calling because I think I need to….. Whoo…. Just a sec………… Okay, (in a rush now) I need to take Coren into the emergency room because he fell and he’s bleeding from his mouth and nose and I’m not sure if he has a concussion anyway I’m just wondering what you think okay call me back when you get this bye.”

As soon as Ciara walked in the door, I headed out the back door. “There’s pizza for the kids in the oven. I’m taking Coren. Bye!”

I scooped him up and took him out to the van. Panic moment #3: he vomits everywhere! Everywhere! Ciara came out and took him, and I raced into the house for clean jammies. When I came back out, Ciara (angel!) was cleaning the throw up off the car seat and the van floor (and, when we got back from the day’s ordeal, we discovered that she had cleaned all the throw up off the garage floor AND cleaned the whole house too—what a lifesaver!!!). Once it was wiped down, I stuck him in his seat and we raced (carefully) to the urgent care.

Once we got there, the receptionist had to call around and find out if our insurance covered that particular urgent care—ugh! So I’m waiting in the lobby for well over twenty minutes, the entire time trying to keep my boy awake… just in case. I mean, that is what you’re told to do with a concussion, right? Don’t let them go to sleep. And the poor dude was totally out—I don’t know where he was, but he certainly wasn’t anywhere in this world. So I’m rubbing his back, rocking him back and forth, lifting him in and out of my lap, whatever I could do to keep him awake. And he was barely hanging on to consciousness! Meanwhile, Chad is calling every few minutes to get updates, wishing he could be there, my poor husband!

Well, we found out that we were covered, so in we went to talk to doctor #1… and in five minutes we were back out the door, headed to the emergency room in American Fork. The doctor said that Coren needed a CT scan and they didn’t have the equipment for it there. So off I raced again, yelling at Coren in the back seat to keep him lucid. (On the upside, they refunded us our $35.)

We got to the ER, and I had my first wave of relief. While we waited to be called in, Coren started wiggling fingers and toes and sitting up to look at me. So the paralysis threat was out, thank heavens! My child is not destined (yet) to be a paraplegic! After a few minutes, he was up and walking around again and talking to me in his normal little nonsense words. Hooray! So his brain was still functioning… at some level, at least! Well, that helped ease the panic significantly. And now it was starting to feel more like a check-up than a life-threatening disaster (though Coren still looked like a disaster—bloody nose and flushed cheeks; and I still felt like a disaster, of course, being the mother).

And then Relief #2: Chad walked into the ER room! My husband left work early (thank you, Mitch, for covering his meeting—another lifesaver!) to be there for added comfort… Now I know he was just as worried and anxious as I was about the whole episode; but I also can’t help but wonder if he was thinking, “Well, it’s just Charity there with him, and we all know how well Charity handles emergencies…I better get over there and keep her from falling apart.” My husband! My wonderful, fabulous husband! He is the only reason I don’t fall apart more often than I do!

So they took the boy away for some head x-rays, Chad going with and me staying behind, since they discourage pregnant women from x-ray radiation, you know. Chad said he did better than last time (at six months old, when he broke his leg and got full body x-rays), but he still put up quite the tantrum when they made Chad let go of him to strap his head down. Oh, my poor dude! Really, a child should not already have this much radiation exposure—I mean, not even 18 months?! What gives?! And Coren is not a crazy kid, that’s the kicker! He’s as mellow as they come. Holy smokes! Anyway…

Results came back, and everything looked normal and fine. Whew!! The doctor told us that he had suffered a concussion, which turns out to be a good thing! Who’d have thought?! Apparently, if it’s not a concussion (when accompanied by such symptoms as vomiting and dazed confusion/loss of consciousness), then it’s something much, much worse—blood clots, hemorrhages, permanent brain damage, etc. So we counted our many, many blessings and took our exhausted boy home. NOW he could sleep, and he certainly did!

We spent the rest of the evening (after he woke from his colossal nap) just relaxing around the house. None of us—Coren especially—were in any kind of mood to play, so we just sat on the couch and watched a movie. He was super-clingy the rest of the night, hardly even letting Chad hold him… so I snuggled him, and the three of us mellowed out together, grateful to still be together. Then he woke up the next morning as normal and joyful as usual, playing and laughing, and looking pretty banged up, but great! We’ve been giving thanks ever since! How fancy to have a boy that keeps us on our toes… and how odd that he’s the last boy you’d expect repeat ER visits from. I guess that keeps life fun and unpredictable, right?... Or maybe just unpredictable.

Friday, April 23, 2010

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things.

Got to be my favorite photos right now. Not sure they can be beaten.


We went on a lovely cruise the beginning of this month (I'm such a punctual blogger!), and IT WAS FABULOUS! Oh, a very much needed vacation--for Chad and me together, but especially for Chad, who's had a stressful few months. A blissful 7 days of no work, no child (though I love him dearly), and no cooking or cleaning. Does it get any better than that?! Here are some of the highlights of the trip:

-Eating, eating and more eating! Let's see, this was my first time trying: lobster, duck, and snails. Delish! And my first torta since the mission--oh, so wonderful!!
-Snorkeling in Cabo San Lucas. (I also burned my legs so badly I could not walk the next day--hooray for stupidity!)
-Talking to people in Spanish... discovering I still can! Woohoo!
-Our family rockin' it in the triviathons (even if we didn't ever win).
-Our family rockin' it in the karaoke lounge--Even Mel got up there; Surely canst go, girl! And seeing Brittney dance was an added bonus! Too cute!
-Winning art at the art auction because Chad was the loudest one there. That's right.
-Being rocked to sleep every night on the ocean.
-Spending a week with all the married couples in the fam, and just loving the time together!! So, so wonderful!! We'll have to do this again in.... oh, ten years or something! :) Thanks Pops and Andrea--we couldn't have asked for a more fabulous vacation this year!!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

It's a girl

To my daughter (many years from now):

I owe you an explanation.

We (meaning mostly me, but Chad went along because he's great like that) were planning to have all boys--ALL boys. Like 7 or so.

We got one. Coren. Who rules my world (for the time being)!

Then we got you.

So when I first heard the ultrasound technician say, "I think we're sticking with a girl" (with all kinds of uncertainty in her voice because you really weren't cooperating), I was not ecstatic. I was, in all honesty, pretty bummed out.

I'm so sorry to say it. But there it is. Because I wasn't saying goodbye to one boy--I was saying goodbye to ALL boys. My perfect plan, gone.

That was Monday. It's been a week.

And now let me confess something else... I am ecstatic again! You, my girl, are coming! You are totally healthy! You don't have spina bifida. You don't have abnormalities (as far as can be seen at this time). You are growing just as you should, and that is always most important!

And... okay, I'll say it... you're even making me excited about being a mother of girls. There, how's that?! Before you guys are even born, you have a way of weaseling into your mother's heart! I am getting excited about the idea of sharing Sense and Sensibility, unicorns and dance nights with a daughter! I am remembering my own relationship with my dear mother--the late nights when she so graciously stayed up till midnight because her girls were spread out all over her bed, telling their high school/dating/whatever stories. How she was the first person I told when I had my first kiss, and how she laughed about it. And the fact that I miss her more now--as a mother myself with all kinds of new questions--than I did when she first passed away.

So I get to be that kind of mother--not that wonderful, mind you (your grandma was pretty close to perfect). But I get to be a mother of daughter(s). I get to play with you, listen to you, and hopefully be an example of the kind of woman you want to be (only you'll be much, much better). That is sort-of an intimidating thought... but it's also a tender one.

Oh, and I hope you have curly hair. I hope you get your father's eyes (and please, please, get his temperament too). I hope you believe in fairies, wander the house singing, and have your own little quirks. And (yes) that pink is not your favorite color... unless it's hot pink or something.

Mostly, I hope you know that I love you--already. That, despite my initial feelings, you will be as great a joy to me as your big brother. That I am already making a place for you in this heart that, miraculously, keeps expanding infinitely more than I thought possible. I am excited for you. I love you. And you are everything I want.

Friday, February 12, 2010


My dad was 53 yesterday... 53? Yes, I think that's the number.

My dad is a giant among men... and not just physically, though it certainly works that way as well. He is a man who thrives on discovery--to cease learning is to cease existing. He is a self-made man, who can build houses, fix cars, make up last-minute science projects that always win, do the world's taxes, and build his own telescope. He is a man who contemplates the stars in moments of quiet wonder, easily merging the seemingly separate worlds of spirit and science; for him, there is no separation--one confirms the other, and on and on. He has a merry disposition and a sharp wit, which he has passed on to his boys (along with the way he scratches his head--like mirror images!). He is an adventurer--camping, hiking, cruising, exploring.... and every road trip of my youth was marked with frequent sidetracks to fish hatcheries, museums, mines, ghost towns, etc. It made the "road" part of the trip much longer, but some of those sidetrack memories are dearest to me. My dad is a man who chose to work at home so he could "be his own boss," though all the kids know it was really to play with us. :) He is a man of testimony, who can take unemployment, kids with broken backs (and arms and ankles, etc), years-long battles with cancer, the passing of a priceless eternal companion, the melding of a new family (along with all its new quirks), and everything else with unshaken faith because he knows God lives and has a plan. He is a man that taught his children to look to Christ for healing, for strength, because it is only in Christ that peace comes in this life (sorry to anyone who thinks otherwise... I love you. Think again). He is a man that smiles easily; who is always ready to put in shelves, figure out a math problem, or play frisbee with his kids. Is he a perfect man? No, not at all; and he'll be the first to tell you so. But he was--he is--the perfect father for me. Happy Birthday, Pops! I love you!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Things I have been grateful for in my pregnancy thus far...

(This is actually Coren's ultrasound)

Cinnamon toothpaste! (no more gag reflexes brought on by strong minty smells in the morning!)

Anything and everything citrus (hm... a genuine pregnant craving this time around?)

My new ward's daily exercise group--and that they're uber-faithful about it!

Jeans that were a little too big for me a few months ago... a perfect fit now.

A pregnant sister-in-law who is due just weeks before me! Yeah!

A tight budget so I'm not constantly buying the ice cream I always want to buy.

A bath tub.


What appears to be a perfect healthy fetus so far. Let's hope he (or she) stays that way!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

You Know You Are Sick When...

-When you hear your boy throwing up in his crib at 4:30 am, but you just let him sleep in it because to even try to roll out of bed is more work than you can think about right now.
-When you're already so empty by 8 am that the only thing left to heave is your guts.
-When you literally have to pray for "just one half-hour of strength, please!" in order to feed your child at lunchtime.
-When, even with added strength, you're crawling around on the kitchen floor, from drawer to microwave to table, etc.
-When you've got the heater at 70, a sweatshirt on, and your buried under piles of blankets, and you're still freezing.
-When the best greeting you can give your overworked, overwhelmed husband when he walks in the door after a 16 hour day is (without even turning your head), "Hi honey, can you go get Coren out of bed? He's been awake in there for about an hour now."

Ahh, you gotta love the flu.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Book Survey

1. 1. What is one of your favorite genres? Dystopian novels… one day I will teach a college course about them!

2. What is your least favorite genre? Romance novels.

3. What is your all-time favorite book? Too many… some of my top ones ever: Peter and Wendy, Sunset Song, The Road, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, The Death Gate Cycle, Hounds of the Morrigan, Endurance, The Poisonwood Bible, The Graveyard Book….

4. What is the first book you remember reading? Some Peewee Scouts book.

5. Do you prefer books or audio books? Books! And no, not Kindles!

6. Who are your favorite authors? Shakespeare, Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman, Edgar Allan Poe, Cormac McCarthy, William Sleator, Brandon Sanderson, Lemony Snicket, C.S. Lewis, Dave Barry…lots. Wow, where are the girls on this list??

7. How many books do you read in a year? Probably way, way too many.

8. Do you buy books or borrow them from the library? Both. I get a lot from the library. But I have no problems buying them since I figure I’ll want to own all the books on my to-read list eventually anyway.

9. How many books do you own? We have three bookcases… and every time we get a new one, it’s full in a matter of months.

10. What is your most prized book? The Secret of the Unicorn Queen series, which is totally lame because they’re pretty weak sauce books, but I was obsessed when I was a tween (I mean, come on, it’s about unicorns!), and so I bought them this year on Amazon, where the cheapest each one could be found for was like $20.

11. What are the worst books you have ever read (or tried to read)? I hate The Great Gatsby, which offends friends and family members every time I say it, I know, but I just can’t catch the fire. I also found this short story by Tolkien called Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham… ugh, so terrible!!

12. Have you read any modern day sequels you liked? Umm…. I don’t know if I’ve read any… or what this means exactly.

13. What is your favorite quote from a book? There is a part from The Rape of Lucrece that my dad and I always love to quote… it’s beautiful. But I’m not sure that counts as a book, since it’s a long poem. Okay, a few others: I love the scene in Jacob Have I Loved where she goes on about the old man’s hands—I guess that may be weird and creepy, but I think it’s beautiful. I also love En La Ardiente Oscuridad, when the protagonist keeps repeating more and more vehemently “Yo quiero ver!” And there’s an article by Dave Barry called “A Million Words,” about his father’s death, which is absolutely genius, understated and beautiful.

14. Who is your all-time favorite male character? Probably Alfred from the Death Gate Cycle. But Holden Caulfield is a pretty great second—a very entertaining downer!

15. Who is your all-time favorite female character? Definitely Chris Guthrie from Sunset Song. And a very close (and hilarious) second is Father Damien from The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse (yes, I read the question right—this is a female character).

16. What highly recommended book have you not liked? I’m not a big fan of Tuesdays With Morrie, sorry. I have a hard time with books that push emotion on the reader—I feel that the story and writing should do that without extra coercion, you know? So yes, I’m heartless, but there it is. Although I didn’t hate it… it was just nothing to crow about.

17. A character you love to hate? Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events. The housekeeper in Rebecca (I don’t even remember her name). Judge Claude Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (though Phoebus really isn’t any better).Ooh, and Annie Wilkes from Misery… yikes! And the father in The Poisonwood Bible—not sure if he’s really a villain, but you definitely hate him. Probably more…

18. Do you belong to a book club? Yes, two: My old ward’s book club; and the Scottish Literature Club at BYU—they still let me attend, even though I’ve graduated. Yeah for nerds!

19. What was the last book you purchased? I bought The Host for my sister-in-law.

20. What are you reading now? Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop CafĂ© by Fannie Flagg. It’s great! I also just finished Princess Academy by Shannon Hale—that was mid-survey.

21. What book made you cry the hardest? I bawled in Walk Two Moons (in my defense, I read it just two months before my mom died, so.). More recently, I cried in Sunset Song, which surprised me because it had been years since I cried over a book. Lovely book—one of my favorites.

22. What book made you laugh the most? Oh geez, definitely Good Omens—that book had me rolling all week! I also crack up every time I read The Goblin Companion or anything by Dave Barry.

23. What is your favorite children's book (one you would choose to read to your kids)? Whoa, just one?! Not possible… Let’s see… Skippyjon Jones—fabulous! Any Dr. Seuss classics. The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree. The Olivia books. The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie (Edwards) Andrews. The Monster at the End of This Book. In a Dark Dark Room. The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, or anything really by Jon Scieska. Oh man, I could go on and on….

24. If you were to choose a book to give as a gift, what would it be? Probably The Road, because it could appeal to many types of readers. And it is incredible.

25. List 5 books you have read more than once: The Little Prince, Brave New World, The Death Gate Cycle, Jacob Have I Loved, Interstellar Pig.

26. What is your favorite book made into a movie? I think they did a fabulous job with The Princess Bride. I love Holes. And the 5 hour-long Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth.

27. Did you like the book or movie better? Actually, with these three, I liked the movie better, which HARDLY ever happens!

28. What book would you like to see made into a movie? I have always wanted the Jim Henson group to make The Hounds of the Morrigan into a movie, because it would be totally awesome! Most of the other ones I can think of are already movies… and others I would never want made into a movie.

29. Do you prefer hardcover or softcopy? Softcover—it’s cheaper.

30. Do you leave the dustcover on while you are reading a book? No, because they always get bent and curled, which bothers me.

31. Where do you usually read? In my bed or on the living room couch… sometimes in the bath.

32. When do you usually read? Whenever Coren is napping.

33. Do you keep a TBR (to-be-read) list? Yes!! I’m always adding to it, so it seems to be getting longer instead of shorter. And is the BEST!

34. Do you usually have more than one book that you are reading at a time? Sometimes—I will always read a regular book along with a poetry collection, because you can’t do straight poetry; there needs to be the occasional break.

35. Do you remember how you developed a love for reading? Nope. I just know I’ve been reading since I was three years old.

36. Who do you tag? Oh, anyone that’s interested. I didn’t actually get tagged, I just liftd the survey off Rachel’s blog—Thanks, Rachel!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

You've Come a Long Way, Baby!

Coren Alma Brooks is 1 year old!

Well, he was actually a year old 3 days ago... but I'm a Sorensen; things are late.

It was a simple little party, which is how we wanted it... Chad and I aren't big fans of the "giant birthday bash for the one year-old who doesn't even get it anyway"... um, no offense to my lovely friends who are believers in that--you still rock! :)

Although now, in retrospect, I wish I had at least put up streamers--that was just a complete mind blank. Oh well, no streamers.

Grandma Brooks made delicious enchiladas (more for Coren's pregnant mother, who was craving them, than for himself, really).

Then we gave him his presents--unwrapped because he could care less about wrapping paper. Our rule this year was that his gifts had to be homemade. So Chad and I made some pretty rad little Spanish alphabet blocks, and he's been enjoying knocking down the towers we make with them. His Aunt Summer knitted him this fabulous little scarf that fits him just perfectly! And he loves it! Okay, Grandma and Grandpa Brooks bought him a wagon full of Lego-type blocks, but only because their homemade gift isn't quite done yet. So we let it slide... Ha! No, he loved the wagon--especially dumping out the blocks and riding inside it!

Then it was cake time. This year we did Mr. Noisy, inspired by the Mr. Men book he got from his cousin, Cian, for Christmas. It was a pretty fun and hilarious experience making the cake. Luckily I had my cake-making expert mother-in-law there to coach me on the filling (delicious raspberry pudding goo!) and the frosting. And then we remembered... does anyone ever get red food coloring to actually produce red frosting? Because I think it always comes out pink. So there. My son got a pink cake. But once we got the hands and shoes and black piping on, he looked a little less feminine. And... he was delicious!

Ironically, Coren hated this part of the celebration. He couldn't figure out why we wanted him to stick his hands in the gooey frosting. So I tried to help him along, see if I could get him enthused about it. Nope. Once his hands were covered in the stuff, he started crying and trying to shake it off. Not his favorite thing. So we ended that, cleaned him up, and gave him some ice cream--everything was better with the ice cream. My child is an ice cream fiend... not just a normal Sorensen ice cream fiend! This is really the only time he becomes an angry beast--when we don't shovel it into his mouth fast enough! Wow. What have we created?!

So that was the night. It was really just right for the Dude. Start to finish. Some of the things that Coren does these days that bring me joy:

-He does a killer Stevie Wonder impression. Everyone should see it.
-He must have one foot up on the table when he eats... can we say OCD?
-He grins and dances to "Fireflies" by Owl City, his favorite song.
-He has learned to say "uh-oh" and loves using it.
-He loves brushing his teeth--LOVES it!
-When Dad comes home, he is all smiles and laughter--tender!
-Periodically, all throughout the day, he will interrupt his playing, walk over to me, climb in my lap and hug me--just briefly--then he's off to play some more. I guess it just recharges his batteries. This is my favorite thing of all.