Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year 2009

Boy, do I hope 2009 is finally our year!
We used to have these amazing New Year's Eve parties with Doug's brother and sis-in-law Steve and Michelle. We would have all of this fun food (because the 4 of us love food:-) and just visit and laugh hysterically....good times!
I miss having fun with friends.
Tonight Mackenzie went to her first boy-girl party, but she's with good friends and she is just around the corner. Kian and Doug are playing golf on the Play Station and Vanessa has to work the night shift.
Another year of change and less conspicuous consumption! I guess Calah and I will watch the ball drop and then I'll go to bed.
Wow! I never thought I'd be this boring!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

So Christmas morning wasn't the disaster I had imagined. Kian got a bike and a note from Santa. I do think he was slightly confused though. I also think his favorite gift ended up being the kid indoor golf game that Nini got him...go figure!

We didn't have our usual traditions and it still turned out to be a good day. Since 1994 we have gone out to dinner on Christmas Eve, but that wasn't possible this year so we stayed home and had Kian's favorite "Streganona"-- otherwise known as Stroganoff :-)

Calah and Mackenzie were dog-sitting at the Orcutt's and Vanessa was working at the hospital so it was just Doug and Kian and I. Weird...I guess this is how my parents felt when the kids moved out!

Vanessa gave me an amazing picture frame with a picture of my Mom and I and a picture of Reagan and I and the poem that my Mom wrote for Reagan that I had been looking for for almost a year!! The little sneak! I was so stunned I don't even think I's beautiful and I am grateful :-)

Today we had lasagne for dinner instead of our normal turkey and ham and snacks partly becsause we weren't sure if we were even going to have "Christmas" today or try to wait until the Santa gift came, but mostly because by the time we were able to shop there were no hams or turkeys left!

So much for traditions...but we have all survived with the hope that next year will be back to "normal" for us. I miss being able to make and take treats to all of our friends and neighbors. I miss being able to over oad the stockings with silly and fun things that are completely neccesary. I miss seeing the exclamation that Santa is the best when they recieve exactly what they had hoped for!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

How do you break your child's heart?

Kian has been talking about getting a Wii for Christmas since August when we visited with Uncle Matt. It was going to be his only gift due to low financial reserves. We didn't get it. It's a long story involving bad timing and a curse put on my father by a gypsy when he was in the service!
So how do I explain that to my darling 5 year old who Believes? How do I break his heart when he comes down on Christmas morning and doesn't see his
"red-rider bb gun" under the tree? This being a Mom thing is so hard...
You want to focus on the True Meaning of Christmas, but still it's about gifts. Gifts are my love language, it's how I show my love and I love finding and choosing the perfect gift. I love imagining the looks on the faces of those whom I love when they see their wonderful gift.
So I hope there are no tears tomorrow from him or me and I hope that in time he will forget about this Christmas, because it's very rare that I still think about the Christmas when all I really wanted was Baby Tender Love and she didn't come under the tree.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Seeing Santa

We went to see Santa today! Kian was so excited! It was the real guy! There was no line...a Christmas Miracle!
But Bah-humbug, no photos on your own camera without a "minimum purchase".
So we ended up with this:

I was SO bummed. I have pictures of each of the girls with Santa every year for at least 7 years. Kian has 2. However, he took it in stride, after telling Santa that he wanted a Wii for Christmas he jumped off Santa's lap and said,
"Now can we go eat?"

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sees Chocolates

We don't have See's Candies out here in the midwest (well, there was a little shop at the old airport, not sure about now).
Anyway, I think it is better chocolate than even Godiva.
When we were kids we would go to my Aunt Willie's around Christmas and she always had a big box of See's. The kids always got the Molasses Chips. I liked them, they were quite a treat. When I got older I remember thinking "Hey we got jipped! There are WAY better chocolates than Molasses Chips!" And I didn't eat a Chip for years.
This year we got two boxes from Doug's parents--one Milk chocolate and one Dark chocolate. I've decided that Molasses Chips aren't so bad after all.
Yay for See's Candies...I love that white store!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Music

Today is Christmas music day. I'm not sure why except that it is only a week away and I haven't had my music day yet. I wasn't feeling too "Christmas-y" (again) this year and I realized the other night that it was probably because I had not heard Donny Osmond sing "Mary, Did You Know?". Which is BTW the BEST version!
So here I am and it is definitely helping. I should be making cookies.
How is it that a favorite old Christmas song can take me back to my family? Back to when it seemed everything was simple and for sure. I miss my family. I mean the family of my childhood. I love my kids and my grown-up family of course, but there is nothing like being a kid at Christmas time!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Author Unknown

I have had so many wonderful comments about my Reagan posts and a lot of people concerned about asking questions. I knew that someday this would come u p...after all I still don't know how I'm supposed to answer the question, "So how many kids do you have?"
But this is something I read at her funeral and it is SO true it bears repeating.

The mention of my child's name
may bring tears to my eyes,
but never fails to bring
music to my ears.

If you are truly my friend,
let me hear the beautiful
music of her name.
It soothes my broken heart
and sings to my soul.

Friday, December 12, 2008

What my name means...

You Are Original and Innovative

You are very open. You communicate well, and you connect with other people easily.

You are a naturally creative person. Ideas just flow from your mind.

A true chameleon, you are many things at different points in your life. You are very adaptable.

You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection.

You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.

You have the classic "Type A" personality.

You are wild, crazy, and a huge rebel. You're always up to something.

You have a ton of energy, and most people can't handle you. You're very intense.

You definitely are a handful, and you're likely to get in trouble. But your kind of trouble is a lot of fun.

You are friendly, charming, and warm. You get along with almost everyone.

You work hard not to rock the boat. Your easy going attitude brings people together.

At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible. But for the important things, you pull it together.

You are very intuitive and wise. You understand the world better than most people.

You also have a very active imagination. You often get carried away with your thoughts.

You are prone to a little paranoia and jealousy. You sometimes go overboard in interpreting signals.

What's Your Name's Hidden Meaning?

Wow! A lot of this is spot on, but some of it...I'll let you decide which is which :-)
Yes, Vanessa I did steal this from your page!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Twilight the movie

Well, I did it...I went and saw the movie based on the book. I hate doing that and I wasn't going to. It all started with "Playgroup" and the plan for all of us to go together. I was following the crowd, I admit it. Sadly the plan for 8 moms to go see the teen movie in the midst of over-heated hormones fell through, but by then my girls were convinced that I HAD to see it and they were willing to sit through another viewing just so I wouldn't have to go alone. Wow, what great girls have I?!I was in as long as there was popcorn... So I have to say the first 20 minutes or so were the cheesiest most "angsty" thing I have seen on the big screen since Dermot Mulroney fell in love with his step-sister Megan Followes in 1986, but I digress.
For the most part I liked it and by the most I mean Edward and James (the BAD vampire). I was not hip on the casting which was one of the main reasons for not wanting to see it. The people in it are never what you had imagined and seldom are they better than you had imagined. This is who I wanted as Edward and let's face it, no girl would have been good enough for him unless it was me at 17...

But I did enjoy it and it followed the book fairly well. It was still definitely a teen flick,but you're only as old as you feel and last night I felt pretty young :-) And I guess I too would sacrifice and see it again if one of my friends hasn't been able to see it yet! I know...I'm so nice.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Reagan Noel November 16-28, 2004

My dear Reagan
I am sorry
Such an inadequate word
to explain what I am feeling inside.
I feel things
I never imagined I would--
guilt fear anger despair
sorrow and pain.
A pain for you, for me.
This should have been
a Mother's celebration
Instead it is
a Mother's heart break.
You are loved.
You matter to us.
Your time with us
was too short
Your loss to us will
be felt until we are
together again.
I will hold you
in my broken heart until then.
I will wait for the healing
I will love you for eternity.
My baby girl.
My sweet brave baby girl.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving...

So I usually don't like Thanksgiving. I mean I used to love it as a kid. My Dad would get up real early and start the turkey and my Mom would make her famous A-1 and Tobasco with cream cheese dip served with Ritz crackers (it tastes better than it sounds though a few years ago we finally named it the "White Trash Dip").
We always watched the Detroit Lions play football and always rooted for them.
Then I became the Mom and I didn't really like getting up early to start the turkey and Doug made fun of my White Trash Dip and after working in the hot kitchen for hours the meal is over in 20 minutes and then it's on to the dishes. Seriously, does that sound like fun to anyone?!
Then 4 years ago when Reagan was in the hospital Thanksgiving became a defining moment of hope...the day the she was off of oxygen and we thought for sure she'd be home for Christmas.

That was November 25 and she died on November 28.

Thanksgiving would never be the same. I know it's wrong, but it is hard for me to feel thankful when my memories are so full of the loss we still feel.
So I have learned and tried to find gratitude in the little things. One of those is not only a small gesture, but it is an amazing moment. It was the day we (Sara Downs, Marcia French, Nicole Arnold and Kim Spotts) went to dress our baby girl. Her spirit was so strong in that room. It was peaceful. After she was loved and lotioned her beautiful white dress that Patty (Montgomery) made was carefully placed on her. Mark Starnes even came to do her hair :-) Her tiny feet were snuggled into her booties from Kim. She was wrapped in a soft satin blanket and placed in my arms and she was smiling! It was amazing...She had been peaceful before but now in her "going home princess clothes" and in my arms she smiled.
Everyone in the room saw it and we wept at the significance and the joy of a moment like that. I hadn't seen her smile. Now I knew that she had a beautiful, silly, lop-sided smile. We knew that she wasn't alone. We knew that we weren't alone.
And so this year we planned to have a turkey with ourselves and watch movies and probably, on my part, indulge in a little "I wish..."
Especially after attending Sister Kinnett's memorial service in the chapel and going to the cemetery on Wednesday. Wow! That sure brought up a lot of emotions and I was beat after that.
But I have a guardian angel now and so at the last minute we got together with the Norton's and had a terrific dinner at their house!

Kian watching Ben and being amazed...Coley is just being Coley!

Sid and Traci in "turkey deconstruction mode". It was all delicious!

Kian wand Adam having a "slurping" contest.
Kian loved every minute of it and we had plenty of good food, great conversation and a lot of laughs. Not to mention PIE!

So I thank Traci from the bottom of my heart for asking us and I am grateful that my Heavenly Father knows me and what I need.
So maybe I won't hate Thanksgiving anymore. If only I could get someone else to make the turkey!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Reagan!

Reagan would have been 4 years old today. I know she is happy and so are my parents, but it doesn't mean that I don't still feel the hole that is in our family.
Here are some of my feelings about her from that time...

Reagan Noel came into this world on her own terms--
Six weeks early with her fist in the air! She truly was the most beautiful baby.
When we first learned of her Trisomy 21 I was devastated...I saw my dreams for my daughter vanish. I saw a long hard road for us and a complicated life for her. I thought it wasn't fair that it should happen to us. After receiving a priesthood blessing I knew how blessed we were. I suddenly felt inadequate to be her mother. How could I be trusted with such a valiant and righteous spirit?
Then I realized all the ways she had surprised and charmed us as well as those around her.
Being 5 lb. 11 oz. instead of 4 pounds

Being able to breath on her own right away.
Being able to take a bottle on day two of her short life.

The sweetness of her personality came right through her dark blue eyes.
One of her Dr.s introduced herself by saying,

"Hi, I'm Dr. Laura Neisland. I'm the latest person to fall in love with your daughter!"
All of her nurses in the NICU said...
She is so cute!
She is so good!
She is so Sweet!

Reagan was an unexpected gift. I cannot explain the joy she brought to all of us. I cannot explain my sorrow.
The Friday before she passed away was a wonderful day with her. She had been moved on Monday to the nursery with windows and Calah, Mackenzie and Kian were able to see her in person for the first time. Vanessa was still at BYU-Idaho and was looking forward to Christmas when she would come home. That night as I was getting ready to leave because of the shift change, she was wide awake. I laid her in her bed and I just had to stay because she was wide awake. I knew that she knew me. She knew I was Mommy. Maybe she knew that she wouldn't be here much longer--maybe she was saying, " I'm sorry Mommy. I wish I could stay. I love you." I only know that she gazed at me so long the nurse noticed it too. It was a gift to me that I didn't know I would need.
Our little girl was so brave. She waited so patiently to come to our family. She knew what her life would be and she chose it. We knew what our life would be and we chose it too.

Happy Birthday my sweet angel...I will love you always and miss you until we are all home again.

Out of the mouth of Kian...

Kian: Mom, what starts with Q?
Me: Queen
Kian: Quack
Me: Queasy
Kian: What's queasy?
Me: It's when your tummy feels sick.
Kian: Quasey
Me: Quasey?! What does quasey mean?
Kian: Quasey is when your head is stuck.

Kian: Nini (that's Vanessa) repeat after me...I have no talent.
I guess it's from Spongebob, but it sure made us laugh!

Today we parked next to the Hughes at church and Kian says:
I turn to look at him and he is giving me the look of a teacher who is giving me a final exam.
"Do you know whose car that is?"
"Yes, I do you little stalker!"
"Sister Hughes!"

A few weeks ago we were driving home from school and he commented on the leaves that were already on the ground.
"Mommy, why are there leaves all over the ground?"
"Well, I guess the trees think it's fall" (technically it wasn't fall yet and he is very technical)
"What are the trees saying?"
Now in the past he has asked all kinds of things like this. If I tell him to leave Goldie alone she doesn't like that he will say "What is she saying?"
If I say "Oh Murphy is hungry" he says "What is he saying?"
So I think I have a great teaching-bonding moment to get him to create what the trees might be saying. I say to him,
"I don't know, what are the trees saying"
Without missing a beat he says, "Trees can't talk Mom"

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hooray for Hollywood!

Tonight Mackenzie performed in the school play "Hooray for Hollywood". This is the same play that Calah was student director for in the 8th grade, but none of it looked familiar.
Brita came to see her and even Kian sat perfectly still for almost the entire thing! We all thought Kenzie did a great job.
After I finally got to hug her one of the parents said to me, "Is that your daughter?" "Yes" "Well, she was great." "Thank you!" "No really, has she done a lot of acting?" "No, this was her first try at it." "Wow! She was so natural. Amazing, I mean she is really talented. I don't know a lot about this kind of thing, but to me she was great!"

His wife behind him was nodding her head the whole time.
Of course I was beaming! Too bad he wasn't an agent!
She was so proud and excited that her first time went so well. I can't wait to see what she does's a musical she'll be trying out for next. That's a whole different ball game :-)
Peyton as Doris, complete with slow--shaky walk. So funny!

Coley as the judge...she did a great job. She had a "judicial speech" she had to do and she hit is spot on!
Ashton (scenery) Peyton and Mackenzie

The cast...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Hel-loooo...Bonnie Hunt calling!

Today at about 12:15 I got a message on my machine. It went like this...

"Hey Caren my name is Derek Chi and I'm a producer with the Bonnie Hunt show. We got your email and I'm calling to find out how we can get in touch with Young @ Heart so we can have them on the show!"
Then he left me his phone number! With the area code! And said to call him back!
I did right away (after I got the Young @ Heart contact info off of Google...Jeesh Derek!) but I had to leave him a message which was very animated, but died when I ended with "I'll talk to you later!" Du-uh...Loser!
But still, it was SO exciting :-) First Oprah and now Bonnie...WOW!
Check out my Young @ Heart video at the bottom of my page...They are terrific.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Happy Halloween!

I might have mentioned on another site that I hate Halloween! It is always a mad dash at the eleventh hour to put together (i.e. Mom makes) a costume and try to get our hands on the last three bags of candy at the store. With three kids' birthdays in three weeks, I am just never ready for Halloween. I also have 4 extended family birthdays but since I never seem to get to them on time I guess I can't count them.
Then you have to consider the weather...too hot? Too cold? Rain? The coldest Halloween I remember was actually when we lived in Roseville California. Go figure! Not to mention what to feed the kids that is easy since you have spent the day making a costume and that they will want to wolf down before they go on sugar-overload. This year Nicole solved that problem for me by bringing Kian (and actually ME) a pumpkin-shaped pizza from Papa Murphy's. I love Nicole!! This may be a new Halloween tradition. Anywa, after all that what you get for your trouble is a bunch of candy that you certainly don't need and maybe don't like. I have spent the last 2 days saying "Only one more!" ( Yes to Kian...)
But it is now over for another year and this is what we have to show for it.

Mackenzie as a mouse, Peyton as Hillary Clinton (she has a button that says "Even my husband doesn't like me", Mr. Palin and Sarah Palin is Ashton. Kian found the red cherry hat that Calah used way back when as an ice cream soda (back when Halloween didn't make me crazy) and he decided he wanted to be a milkshake. It was very cute, but he couldn't see out of it and he really couldn't put his arms down either! I hadn't really thought that through and I never measure anything...
We ran into the Jonas Brothers...and KFed. Right? Or is that a third brother, I'm not sure. I only know Coley and Brooke.

Calah and Ashley had plans to see the midnight show of "Rocky Horror Picture Show" at the Artist's Studio in Fishers. Of course they had to dress up!

Calah's eyes looked amazing! I was actually really impressed! It's exactly the kind of thing I would have done. Of course when I went to Rocky Horror I had never heard of Goth and so my dressing up consisted of dark make-up and my Mom's ruby red 1950's car coat with leg warmers a mini skirt and heels. But hey, I thought it was cool.

This is Kian wondering what the heck they are wearing!
I have to mention that Friday night I had a thought of "Will they be OK?"
Then I thought "Come on, it's Fishers, not NYC!"
So imagine how my heart dropped to my stomach Saturday morning when I saw that Calah's door was open and she was not in bed! I called her cell phone several times and let Doug know (though he did not seem to be too concerned). I thought maybe she had called and told Vanessa where she was, but I checked the caller-ID and there was no call from her. I flashed back to my "premonition" of the night before-- then I panicked. I used to live in a fearless bubble until Reagan and now I know that any horrible thing is possible. Just as I was wondering if I should call the police or go looking for her, I noticed that Mackenzie's bedroom door was open a little but not far enough for the cat to get in. I went to let her in and saw Calah asleep in Mackenzie's room...Kenzie had slept over at Ashton's. Oh my gosh!! It was scary...
So now it's on to Thanksgiving...I'm not so fond of that one either, but I'll save that for later.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Best of Chicago

Late Monday night I got an email from Brita (she doesn't have long-distance to call) saying that "we" had tickets to the Oprah show for Wednesday and we needed to leave "tomorrow"! What? She had told me the week before that she had emailed for tickets and she told me what she had written:

We have been best friends for decades, through moves, trials and triumphs and the losses of her child and mine. Currently, we both have economic worries and would love to escape to see Oprah in Chicago. She is such a great mom - I love her children as they are loving, thoughtful, close, daring and adventurous. Having Caren in my life has been an immense blessing. A trip to Chicago would celebrate that and we feel since you and Gayle have had the best of friendships through the years, that we would be in the best of company!

Now she got tickets? Already? So after many emails back and forth and many guilty feelings from me she convinced me that she wanted to treat us to this great adventure and I just HAD to go with her. My family also told me that it was a "once in a lifetime must do" so I did.

Here is what I discovered...

I thought that Oprah was the best...I have watched her since 1988 and have received actual letters from her (before her website) as well as one phone call from a producer who wanted to record a portion of my weight loss story for one of her shows.
Brita and I had no idea what to expect, we were to show up at the studios at 7:00 am. We were pretty close to the front of the line so we got inside fairly quickly where we checked our coats and had our bags searched. My little Target planner was a No-No and so it had to be checked as well. Then upstairs to WAIT. We had fun talking to a couple of sisters sitting across from us. One of them had been trying to get tickets for 20 years and then her sister's husband ended up getting some through work! It seemed cruel to tell them that Brita had emailed on Thursday and had a phone call on Monday...but they asked.
Of course the talk turns to "What are we going to see? Favorite things?!!!" Yeah, right...
We kind of thought based on Brita's email that it might be about "sister friendships" or Best Friends or something like that and maybe we'd get a cute BFF gift bag with jammies, a lunch gift certificate or even popcorn and a chick flick.
One of the sisters said "I don't care what it is as long as it's NOT Suze Orman!".
They were hoping for Tom Cruise.
Well, guess what? It was Suze Orman and Oprah did not seem to be that happy or friendly. I mean she was kind of blah and the show topic was pretty boring. She looked great, I thought she looked exactly the same as on TV. We had thought that we'd AT LEAST get a book from the guest or whatever. Nope, nothing. Basically the show was over, there was a little bit of voting talk--early voting VS voting on the day--and she let us know "how the world is gonna shift when you-know-who is elected on November 4".
Then we were hustled right out and it was over. Kind of disappointing but yes, I would go again if I had the opportunity.

I used to think the best talk show host from Chicago was...Oprah!

Now I think it's Bonnie Hunt...too bad she doesn't film in Chicago!
The best pizza is still Gino's East...

And yes even better than Brown County, the BEST popcorn is Garrett's. It is totally worth the $18 we had to pay to park downtown to get it :-) OK so Brita might disagree!

After that excursion we were on our way to try Lou Mitchell's Coffee Shop where everyone gets donut holes while waiting to be seated and the ladies and kids get Milk Duds and we actually found on the street meter parking!

The food was delicious and we were seated next to a couple of guys who left and then a husband and wife come in and we said Good Morning and the guy says "Good Morning! We just got back from the Oprah show!"
So of course that gave us an opening into a wonderful brunch conversation. They were really fun and enjoyable people and so friendly. They were originally from Michigan but now live in Ojai California so we had several things in common, plus Chuck told us that his uncle was a physician in New Castle, Indiana and may have been the oldest physician in the country at the time!

After lunch we headed out to Oak Park to the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district.

Now I have always loved old homes for as long as I can remember. When I visited Beth in Michigan in 1976 we went to her Grandma's house in Dayton Ohio and I actually have the address of a house there that I absolutely LOVED at 300 S. Franklin St. Yes, I still have the paper.
My Dad was always a huge Frank Lloyd Wright fan and so going here was by far the highlight of the trip!

Here are a few of the beautiful homes that we saw.

This is "my house". I fell in love. It is currently being restored and we could even see a little ways inside the front door. It is believed to be his first Prairie style house in Oak Park. Here is another view--

Here are the windows...

I wish I could explain why I was so emotional about this whole experience...
These are just houses and yet when I looked at this one and these windows I could have cried at the beauty. I know, corny, but I couldn't believe I was SO close to the past.

What I was stunned to realize is that real people live in these houses. There were Halloween decorations on the porch and Hondas parked in the driveways. I guess I thought all of them would be some kind of museums or that they would be old estate homes or something.
Some of them are even For Sale! (GASP) I now have a Powerball dream to live in a Frank Lloyd Wright house. Did you know there are over 30 in Michigan and there is even one for sale in Bountiful Utah. Some of them are even less than $1,000,000. Oh yes, I have checked.
My current Powerball home is the F B Henderson house in Elmhurst Illinois.

Absolutely the most exquisite house I could ever imagine living in. I swear, I would spend all day just touching the wood and sitting at the windows imagining who else sat there and what their life was like.

I am so glad I went and that Brita wanted me to go with her. We met the most wonderful and friendly people and enjoyed every minute.
San Fransisco will always be my favorite city, but Chicago is number two!