Saturday, June 28, 2008

baby face

I just uploaded a lot more pictures to Month 2 in my web albums which you can view by clicking on the link to the right. You'll want to check it out seeing as Anna is undeniably the cutest baby ever. You don't want to miss that.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Don't tell Betty Friedan, but there's something really satisfying about knowing that Sam is going to come home to a clean house, a hot dinner, a pretty wife, a happy child, and freshly baked muffins.

Friday, June 20, 2008

she's back

That's right, folks. I am officially back. This morning I went for my first run in many months, and it felt great. Yes, it was slow, and it was short, but it was running nonetheless. It gave me such a thrill, and visions of leisurely 5-milers opened before me. Wish me luck (and an open treadmill at the gym) for the future.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Jesse Eldred Stay

Just as the sun
Which blesses us
During the day
With light and warmth--

And in the evening
Drops below the horizon
Leaving us
In the chill dark of night--

Is not extinguished!

But shines still
On distant shores
Blessing with its radiance
Other Souls
Beyond our view

So this dear one
Who warmed our hearts
And lighted our lives
Through the day--

Now gone
Beyond the limited horizon
Of our mortal view.

Leaving us
In dark sorrow
And chill loneliness--

Is not dead!

But sheds warmth and light
On dear souls gone before
--Jesse E. Stay

That poem was written by my grandfather, Jesse Eldred Stay, who died this morning at 7:13 AM. Many of his children were with him and said he died peacefully, for which we are grateful. Here are a couple of eloquent tributes to him from my cousin and sister, but I felt like I should add my own memories.

I found out when I checked my email this morning and sat quietly for a moment, waiting for a sense of shock or for tears, but none came. I just couldn't be sad about a life well-lived. Grandpa would have been 87 next month and I don't think I know anyone personally whose had a life as full as his. He was a WWII hero, flying over 40 missions as the pilot of a B-24 bomber. He lived all over the country and world in his career with the Air Force, earning a masters degree, working in the Pentagon, and retiring as a Colonel. He was a Bishop, Stake President, Mission President, member of the LA Temple Presidency, and Patriarch. My maiden name, Stay, was recognized everywhere I went and I was often asked if I was related to Jesse Stay. I was always proud and happy to answer that I was his granddaughter.

People may have met my grandfather because he held important positions, but they remembered him for his kindness, humor, and generosity. I heard countless stories from people I met about how as their bishop, or neighbor, or mission president, he had rendered some great service, or given wise counsel that was never forgotten. I've often spoken of what a Christ-like man my own father is and I have no doubt he learned how to selflessly love and serve from his own father.

Unfortunately, I didn't know my grandpa very well. We lived across the country from him during my childhood and rarely got to see him. When we did, it was often at family reunions and there wasn't much one-on-one time with grandpa when he has 50 grandchildren to give attention to. However, I did spend two Christmases at my grandparents' house in Huntington Beach, CA while I was in college and loved being with and learning from my grandparents then.

Always, on our first morning there, Grandpa would make his famous pancakes and freshly squeezed orange juice from his own orange tree. There was always more than we could ever eat and grandpa would tell stories of his childhood, or of my dad as a child. Then he'd send us off to the beach stocked with sand toys, boogie boards, towels, and hats.

After spending the whole day at the beach, we'd come home to a warm dinner. Grandpa never ever let anyone do the dishes. Often, he wouldn't even let me put my dish in the sink. He said it was because he liked things put in a certain way in the dishwasher, but really, he just liked to be the one who was doing the work. He always had to be serving.

In the evenings, we'd tell more stories, or watch movies. Grandma and Grandpa always had ice cream for us. I remember one evening, Grandpa asked Grandma if she would like a bowl. She said yes she would, but that she would get them both a bowl. Grandma scooted forward to push herself out of the couch, but Grandpa just grabbed her by the hips and pulled her back down. At 84 though, Grandpa wasn't quick enough to get off the couch before Grandma was the one pulling on his hand to pull him to the couch while propelling herself upwards. They just kept pulling and giggling and teasing like a couple of newly weds. Their only argument was over who got to serve the other.

And that's what I remember most about my Grandpa: laughing at his bad puns and silly jokes while he cooked for us, or cleaned up after us. I never really saw him excelling in any of his high status roles, but I know I saw him succeeding in his most important ones as husband and father. I love him and will miss him, but I will always be grateful for the legacy of love and service he left behind.

Monday, June 16, 2008

"my little buttercup...

...has the sweetest smile"

Anna's getting very good at smiling. The best is when she smiles because she realizes it's me. Her mouth opens wide, her cheeks spring up, and her eyes squint with glee. Whenever she does that, I get SO happy and praise and kiss and cuddle her. However, she still does lots of lesser smiles for other things that please her like a soft blanket, or passing gas, or peeing with no diaper on, or right before she spits up-- you know, the really pleasurable things in life.

Still, Anna's getting to be lots of fun. She continues to adore bath time and loves it when Mommy massages her soapy body or when Daddy makes a wave pool ("They have this at Schlitterbahn, Anna!") She likes to listen to music and dance around the room. If she's in her bouncy seat, she wiggles her arms and legs. I love to sing to her and she especially enjoys it when we do action songs (like "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes"-- her current favorite) and I move her arms and legs for her. When she's feeling a little more docile, she likes to go on walks and be lulled by the rhythm of the stroller. If we prop her up, she can sit up in the rocking chair and just looks around the room while we rock her. I think we're going to buy a swing soon.

Of course, play time is some of the best time with Anna. She's alert and cute and interactive. I personally think she's cutest while she's eating. That may be because she likes to snuggle into me and look at my face, and a profile shows off her big round eyes and tiny eyelashes.

I soak up all her cute and loving moments to get through the trying ones. For instance, yesterday at church, I expected Anna to fall asleep in the car ride over and continue to snooze through the first hour or so. Didn't happen. For the first hour, we rotated between eating and being held/rocked by Mommy. Then for the second hour, I tried to bring her into Sunday School, but she would start fussing the moment I opened the door to the classroom. If I wandered the hall, she was content to just look around, but the second I opened the door, her face would start to crinkle up and I could see a nice loud cry would erupt at any moment. So no Sunday School.

She has also started to cry in the evenings. The first time it happened, we just didn't know what to do. She cried and cried and sounded so desperate and afraid, but if you held her, she just got even more stimulated and wailed harder. It drove me to tears and finally she was tired and hungry enough to nurse herself to sleep. That week, I read three books with varying advice on soothing, napping, and bedtime. We've started swaddling Anna again and she's gone from 40 minutes to 10 minutes of crying time in her crib before she falls asleep. And last night she slept for two 4-hour stretches.

It's a huge roller coaster ride. One day I think I'm doing great and think, "Maybe we're figuring this out." And the next will be really hard. I'll read one book and think, "Yeah, that sounds good!" and the next will just confuse me. I just hope and pray that being a good parent means I keep trying and playing with and loving Anna rather than having all the answers. Hopefully her smiles indicate that that's true.

PS-- look on the right for a permanent link to my picasa web albums with the latest pictures of Anna

Monday, June 09, 2008

sixty years

Today is my Grandma and Grandpa Holt's sixtieth wedding anniversary. I asked my Grandpa Roly if he had any favorite memories from the last sixty years, and this was his response:

"Oh, well, I got lots of 'em. There were lots of special times and memories. I carried your grandmother down a mountain once-- not a real happy memory, but, well.... I guess it's all the little day to day things that made it special. You work hard at it and you just keep going at it and holding hands. And then after a time, you're not just holding hands, you're holding your heart's delight, and then even the little things like holding hands become special."

I'm sure he was holding Grandma's hand right then. He said goodbye while telling me what a beautiful smile Grandma had.

What an amazing legacy of love from a wonderful marriage of six decades.

Sunday, June 01, 2008