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When I was a young girl I didn’t have the best relationship with my grandmother. She struggled with an addiction to pain medication and it drastically changed her once friendly and lively personality. She was the woman who could sing like a bird, and who was stunningly beautiful. But sadly, that struggle changed everything. So much that I truly, honestly believed she hated me. She was quite mean, and unfairly cruel to me. It was always like that with us. Nothing like what my daughter shares with my mother. The two are one and the same, and my daughter adores her. “Grandma WeeYoo” she calls her. My mom made up a song once about rocking in a chair & that happened to be the melody. “Weeyoo, weeyoo, rocking in the chair”. So Emma decided that would be her name. It’s their song, you know? Well, for my grandmother and I, there was no cute song. There were no kisses, hugs, or rocking gently in a rocking chair. And I remember feeling so darn sad about that. I remember feeling that need, that yearning. And not experiencing any of it. 

But what I didn’t understand as a young girl, was how Heavenly Father works. He doesn’t torture you your whole life and then never make it up to you. He doesn’t deal you a bad hand and then at the end of your life, say “Well, that’s it. Your life was painful & full of regrets. Too bad!”. No. No, no, no. He makes up for it. In one way or another He will make it up to you. Why am I expounding on all of this? This is why.

The other day Emma was sick. She had had a fever for two days and felt pretty crummy. I was so tired of her getting sick over and over and over again, week after week, so my attitude stunk. But I prayed really hard that this time, the sickness would pass quickly and she’d be watched over. You see, I was given a Priesthood blessing once, and in it I was told that angels were watching over our children. And that they were kept safe.  It said many angels.  So when I pray, I pray for that. For many angels to watch over them.

So, Emma was sick again. She was up every two hours that night, and I was sure by morning the fever would be raging and she would be sicker than I could imagine. I heard her stirring around 5:45 am. I got out of bed and walked toward her room, dreading what I’d find. But something stopped me. I listened near her door as she rambled on, not making out exactly what she was saying. She must have sensed me there, because without looking at me, she smiled and said something that I’ll never forget.

“I talked to grandma Wee-yoo’s mommy.”

Suddenly I felt my knees start to shake, and I forced myself to inhale. The first thing that came to mind was maybe she was mistaken, because my Grandmother was dead. We never talk about my grandmother, so how would she know to even mention her? So I said calmly, “What did you talk about? Where is she?” Emma ignored the question, and then turned and said, “I wasn’t afraid, mommy”.

Now, this is not the first time she has mentioned my Grandmother. Months ago, she  came to me and said, “Mommy. I saw Grandma WeeYoo’s mommy. And there were lots of lights!”. I remember thinking I should write it down or call my mom, or do something. But another part of me thought it was nothing.

Suddenly, standing in Emma’s room, watching her nonchalantly tell me, once again, that she’d seen my grandmother, I KNEW the truth. I knew it was real. She was real.

And for the first time in my life, I understood. I understood what was happening. Here I was, begging & pleading with the Lord that He would send angels down to heal my little girl. That He would keep her safe. And I could actually see it in my mind. I could see little Emma there, feverish and tired. Aching and sick. And I could see this woman. This woman dressed in white, glowing and radiant. Sent from Heavenly Father to watch over my child. To be the answer to the prayer of a pleading parent. But He didn’t send just anyone. He sent her. And I could almost see her sitting there with Emma, talking, smiling. Singing.  And oh, if I could’ve been there, really been there, to see such a sight. I think all of those sad thoughts & bad memories about this woman, would quickly vanish. And I’d see my grandmother just as my little girl eyes have always wanted to see her, as she deserves to be seen. As she truly was. 

And my heart wouldn’t ache for her anymore.

So maybe she and I were dealt a bad hand. Maybe we were doomed from the start. Perhaps our relationship was meant for another time, another place. And I don't blame her anymore. I love her more than I ever have.  And I’m absolutely sure of one thing. She loves me. She loves me. And she loves my little girl. And maybe this is her way of saying she’s sorry. Maybe this is her way of taking me in her arms and wiping away years of needless tears, and years of wondering if she ever loved me at all.

I know now that she did.

So next time Emma is sick and I’m pleading with the Lord to send His angels to help her, I’ll know exactly who He’ll send. And I’ll know Emma is watched over. I’ll know that while she sits beside my daughter’s bed, that she isn’t just watching over Emma. She’s watching over me, too.  

And maybe next time when I'm sick, or alone or my heart is aching, I'll toss out the anger & pain that the little girl inside of me may feel for her. And instead, I'll see my grandmother dressed in white, smiling, sitting beside me at my bed.

And she'll softly sing to me until I fall asleep.

And then I'll realize….. maybe we have our own song after all.


 
I couldn’t breathe. I honestly wanted to crumble to the ground like a broken cookie being devoured in a child’s hand. It was the dreaded phone call from my husband, and it was one of the scariest moments of my life.

“Emma’s with you, right?” I was standing with my clients, a mother and a daughter, and they were discussing whether or not they were going to take the house I was showing them. But when I heard those words from my husband, I couldn’t care less if that house was on fire, if thieves were shooting it up, or if a huge tsunami wave gushed by and carried it away. So, immediately I went into denial mode and said, “Very funny, sweetheart”. He really is a jokester. But this time was different. I could tell. I could hear him frantically walking through the house, and instantly I imagined him checking every corner and every nook in the house, for this two year old bandit. I felt my knees almost give, and I walked away from my clients, feeling suddenly & extremely frantic. “No,” I cried, “I left her there with you! She has to be there!” I thought my heart was going to leap out of my chest, as I was considering dropping everything I had in my arms and running as fast as I could to my car, without a single word to my clients. I didn’t care. I just remember sputtering off bizarre pleas to anyone and anything listening, until Dan very calmly said, “Sweetie. There is nothing you can do about it right now.” He was right, you know. I was a good 23 minutes away. There was nothing I could do but wait and hope she’d be found.

Now. Mothers. I know you know what I’m talking about. That feeling.  That feeling that says, in a moment of complete terror, that this is a crazy dream. Where suddenly you’re going to open your eyes and your two year old little girl is going to suddenly appear. I remember it all so well, that distinct moment when I actually felt my mind going to la la land. Where my husband wasn’t frantically searching for our daughter. But that moment of wishful thinking lasted about two seconds, and then I regained my composure. I was there, in real life, with my head in my hands, and my body about to crumble to the ground. Where my daughter was gone. Where I actually did not know if she was safe.

And then I saw her. In my mind. Bundled up, under her covers, in her bed.  Asleep and completely hidden. I don’t know how I knew, but I knew.  “Dan, look in her bed”.

And there she was.

I don’t remember much after we hung up. I don’t remember finishing up the conversation with my clients, and I don’t remember much about the drive home. But I remember praying. And I remember wondering how long it would take for my body to stop shaking. All night. That’s how long. It took my body all night to return from the worst place it could possible venture. You see, I had so many things enter my mind during that two minute phone call. I imagined she’d followed my car out of the driveway and into the street. I imagined she’d escaped through a door and some evil person grabbed her. I imagined horrible, unthinkable things. And when my mind realized none of those things were true, it embraced it and moved on. But not my heart. It took my heart longer. It couldn’t quite move on as quickly, and honestly, it was torture. I kept seeing her blue eyes. I kept hearing her voice over and over in my mind. And I could feel her little arms around my neck, her tiny voice whispering “goodnight, mommy”.

And I imagined it all being taken away from me.  

But it wasn’t. That night I held her in my arms and kissed her forehead and made her go to sleep, even when she cried and begged for us to let her stay up extra and play with her animals. Boy, my heart wanted to let her. Oh, how I wanted to hold her a little extra that night. My heart yearned to keep her by my side. To watch her laugh, and play, and live. To have that reassurance that she really was okay…that she really was safe.

I probably should’ve let her.

But all is back to normal now. It's been days, weeks, months. Perhaps I’m a little more grateful then I was before. Perhaps we check on her more often while she plays. And maybe, someday, her daughter will do the same thing to her. And she’ll call me up, and tell me how scared she was. And she’ll tell me how grateful she is to know her daughter is safe.

And as we hang up, she’ll ask me if she should let her stay up extra that night to play with her animals. And I’ll smile.

And tell her she probably should.   

 
Dan here.  Being basically anti-social loners who love the game Settlers of Catan, a couple of years ago we found a pretty good 2-player version and tweaked it a little.  We have played this a LOT, and it really works well!  I know the first paragraph is a little tricky... just read it very carefully, it really does make sense.  Let us know if this works for you, and share it with your friends!

The Settlers of Catan for Two Players

Rules from the official “Game Rules & Almanac” are followed, with the following changes:

Setting Up The Game

Each player starts off with two colors.  Both colors are treated as if they were the same, except that you must choose one color to begin with.  You must place every piece of your starting color before you may begin using your second color (except when using the Road Building card).  Once all the pieces of one color have been used for the first time, then color no longer matters (i.e. if you replace a settlement of you first color with a city of your second color, you do NOT have to use the settlement with the first color next.)  Note that if a player is unable to place the last settlement of her fist color because of lack of roads in that color, she cannot use her second color, unless she gets the Road Building card.  Be sure to keep this in mind as you plan your empire!

Place three settlements with roads in initial placements phase.

Player "A" (that rolled highest) goes first, placing 1.

Then "B" places 2.

Then "A" places 2.

Then B places last.

Each player receives starting resource cards for their last two settlements.



Turn overview

Player "A" rolls first.

Each player rolls TWICE on his turn for resources.

Trade

No domestic trading.  Maritime trading only.



Robber

The robber cannot emerge until after each player has had two turns. If a 7 is rolled, disregard and roll over. The knight card may not be played yet.



If a 7 is rolled after turn 2, the Robber is played as normal, with 1 exception:

If a 7 is rolled on both of a player's rolls, on the second 7, cards are not forfeited, and  the player has 2 options:

1)      She can elect to not move the robber.  She proceeds with the rest of her turn, OR

2)      If she moves the robber, she takes any two free resources from the bank as opposed to taking a second resource from the other player.


You must have more than 9 cards (e.g., 10 or more) in order for the robber to steal from you.

Road Building Card

When the Road Building card is played, that player may use roads of either color for each length of road.

Ending The Game

There is no set point value needed to win.  The game ends in one of five ways:

1)       As soon as the last development card is drawn.  If it is a tie score, the game continues until one of the other conditions are met.

2)       As soon as a player is unable to place any more pieces.  Note that this doesn't apply if he has been unable to play his second color due to lack of available roads.

3)       If, during your turn, you see that you have 7 more points than your opponent, you may declare victory.  If your opponent has development cards that have not been played, they must be assumed to be victory points, unless it would not be possible, due to the fact that there are only 5 Victory Point Cards in the game.  For instance, if you have 3 victory points, and your opponent has 4 cards, you must assume that only 2 of them are victory points.

4)       You may declare victory if it is impossible for your opponent to at least tie your score, even if they were to get every possible Victory Point Card, build every possible settlement and city, and obtain the Largest Army / Longest Road cards if possible.

5)       If both players agree that victory is not reasonable for one of the players.  Be careful – we have seen some pretty amazing comebacks!


Note that the player whose turn it is may finish his turn before the game ends.

Short Variation: 20 Victory Points are required to win.

Daniel & Rebbecca Rodgers - 12/25/12
http://www.rebbekkarama.com/blog.html
Based on http://www.mayfairgames.com/gamesupport/rules/0483-opt1.htm

 
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Never, ever, ever, ever again. Ever. I will never have the right to complain about my children again. Not when they misbehave, not when they don't listen, not when they wake me up early in the morning and whisper in my ear to get me up. I know I've said that before. But do you think I could ever feel the same after today? Should any of us feel the same after today?.

I feel anger and hate and sadness and pain. Why? Emma is just a bit younger than those children who died today. It makes me want to scream. But mostly I want to pull my children into my arms and feel them breathe. There she is, my dear sweet little Emma. Sleeping so peacefully. Dreaming of butterflies and dragons.
But tonight was different. I was driving home from Bunco, with the first place prize next to me. I've never won first place at Bunco before so I should've been raving. But as I drove home I thought to myself that this wasn't the real prize. My real prize was sleeping in her princess bed, waiting for me to wake her up in the morning with the green gummy bears I stole from the party.

And then I wanted to be home. I found I was hitting 80 mph. I wanted to rush through our front door and pull her into my arms and hold her until the sun came back up. I wanted to sob and scream and take my kids to a far away island where they could never be hurt. I wanted to look Emma in her innocent eyes and tell her she'd always be safe. My heart ached and I kept wondering, what if it had been her? 
Am I the only one? Are there others who did the same? Please, mothers, tell me I'm not the only one. Tell me I'm not crazy and hysterical. 

You know those little things you never notice? The untouched plate of food, the half-eaten cracker, the drawing she did just for you....they'd suddenly be unbearable to see. I couldn't do it, you know. 

I swear if it had been her I don't think I'd ever heal. I'd see her blanket, her bed, her finger prints on the television. The piles of toys strategically placed in fives, because that's her favorite number. I'd smell her baby shampoo and see the messes she left in every single room of the house. Her brush, her shoes, her dinosaur. Her unopened Christmas presents. I'll never let it all go unnoticed again, I swear.
Please. Oh, please don't ever let this happen.

I'd beg our God to pass her by. To let her stay.

Oh, sweet Emma. Will she ever know the kind of joy she brings to us with a single sentence, a single word, a single smile....The joy of merely being in the same room with her when she laughs.
And, oh, the horrific pain it'd bring us if she were taken. 
But she's here. And so is Rowen. And our family will go unchanged. Unlike the twenty other families who are left without the laughter. The smiles. The unopened presents are left under the tree. Their arms are left empty.

And now I'm home. The news is off. Our house is quiet. The children are sleeping silently in their beds, and my husband is patiently waiting for me.
I'll sneak into Emma's room, kneel beside her at her bed, softly kiss her forehead and watch her as she sleeps. I'll want to pull her close and whisper that I'll love her forever, but she won't know why. 

But I do.

And when I smother her in a million kisses tomorrow, she won't think twice about it. She'll wrap her arms around my neck & say, in her little voice, "I love you so much, mommy". And I'll desperately cling to that.

And all those sweet little things about her that I always let go unnoticed?...

...I'll notice them  ❤.

 

 
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He was right in front of me. It was cold, and he was only a few inches from my face. I could almost feel his warm breath in my hair. And I knew it was coming, I could see it on his face. He was smiling and saying something I wasn't really paying attention to. And then he kissed me. Slow, so very slow. And soft. And it left me wanting to stay in his arms all night. And as we kissed and he wrapped his arms around me, everything was perfect....

But just as life goes, it wasn't always that perfect. It was shaky leading to that spectacular, first, hot kiss. I remember our second date, months prior. It started awesome.....but at the end of the night he asked about my last boyfriend. I told him we had broke up 6 weeks before, and that's when I saw it. His expression went from excitement & having a good time, to concern. I could've slapped my mouth as soon as the words came out. He told me he couldn't date me if I'd just been out of a relationship. He explained he was worried it wasn't enough time for me to grieve.  And I wanted to die. As he talked, I felt my heart drop lower & lower. He said he'd give me 3 months, and then maybe he'd call me. He said he'd date other people until then. I laughed and said of course! But my heart said otherwise. So I smiled, we hugged, I got in my car, and then I drove away.

And I cried all the way home.

Those months were sad, and confusing. I met men, dated, went out. I wrote him off. And honestly, when I went to sleep, and he appeared in my mind telling me that we couldn't be together, I'd shove him out of my head. Angrily. I'd kneel in prayer each night after dates with other guys, and his name would play over & over in my mind. His name would come up in different circles & I'd pretend I didn't care. 

It had been about 2 months- I had just returned to my apartment from jogging. I was sweating all over my floor, and getting ready for bed when my phone rang. I picked it up and saw the name. I must've stared at that screen for a full 10 seconds before I answered it. 
And we talked. And it was all over from there.

Now we have kids, bills, car problems, disagreements, tears, and a messy house. But we also have love. And laughter, and memories.
And why do I love him?
Let me let you in on why Dan is worth all this time it's taking me to write this....

He never forgets to open the door for me. He sings our children to sleep. It took 4 years before I had to get my own gas in any of our cars...he does it for me. He offers me his last bite. When 90210 is on, he sits next to me for an hour, and when Vampire Diaries plays, he tells me I'm prettier than Elena. After having Rowen, he told me my body was perfect. He runs me a hot bubble bath, & lights candles. Late at night when he thinks I'm sleeping he puts his arms around me. When I'm sad, he makes me smile. And when I don't want to, he lets me cry. When we were dating he'd drive 45 minutes to surprise me with a picnic on my lunch hour, spend endless money on my food fetish, let me drive when I wanted, kiss me when I begged him. When I tried to break up with him, he cried in my arms. He laughs at my jokes. Tells me I'm beautiful without make-up. Ignored phone calls from ex girlfriends. No matter how mad he gets when I beat him at SSX or Donkey Kong, he's still happy for my high scores. He surprises me with candy on my seat. Spends $200 on me, and $2 on himself. He lets me cut his hair & when I mess it up, he shrugs and hugs me. He makes me dinner at 1230 in the morning, and lets me sleep in. Never takes his ring off. He runs his hand through my hair & kisses my cheek. He takes me in his arms when I think I'm losing my mind, and then he tells me I'm a great mother. He holds my hand & leans into me when we kneel in prayer, even though I know it's uncomfortable. When I have guilt he laughs and kisses my lips. He tells our daughter stories until she falls asleep. He holds our son in his arms when he has a fever. Never raises his voice to me. When I've cried all day he texts me extra to tell me he believes in me. He accepts me and my past. He forgives me.
He loves me.

Will he ever know how much I adore him? No. Will he sometimes wonder if I love him at all? I'm sure of it. But I swear if I could cut open my heart and show him all the love I feel for him, I would. And he'd never wonder again. But I can't. So I'll have to prove it every chance I get. Because he's worth it. 

He's so alive. He's kind and gentle, and a hothead and passionate. He truly is my reason for smiling when I feel lonely. When I feel sad and beaten. He is all of those things I named up there, and a million more. And the funny thing is, he doesn't have to be. But he is anyway. 
So, yes. He is beautiful. He's my angel, my knight, my prince. What did I do without him? Is he really mine? He makes my life lovely. It's our fairy tale, you know.

Our sweet, sweet fairy tale.
 
It may not be perfect.....

But boy, he makes it beautiful. ♥♥♥♥♥.

 
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Have you ever realized that we're all just a little too old? Have you noticed that? Us. Adults. Not "old" as in aging. I'm talking old, as in not free. We care too much about what we say, what we do, what we wear. We lack courage. We worry about offending people, and we worry about winning. We worry about how we look to others. But as I spend more time with my children, and less time around big people, I think I've realized we're all just a little old. 

She taught me that, you know. Emma. My daughter. It's the way she says things, does things. It tugs at my heart, it makes me want to cry.....and it reminds me why I'm alive. This little girl, not even tall enough to pass a children's carnival ride, and just small enough to hide under our bathroom sink and listen to me call her name fifty times. This little girl who holds my vulnerable heart in the palm of her tiny, perfect hand. Yes. She reminds me why I'm alive. 

And shouldn't we be reminded?

Oh, sweet Emma. If only I had her courage. "Mommy, don't be mad at me again." She steals my heart, you know. She's a little bandit that runs around shouting and laughing and crying and falling. She is free. And she knows it. She just tells me like it is. She doesn't beat around the bush. When wanting an ice cream cone, you don't hear her saying, "Um, mom. I've worked really hard, and I've eaten all 3 tater tots & 5 peas...and you know...well...you kinda, sorta promised I could have an ice cream cone....I mean, if I can." NOPE. She walks up to me, takes my face in her hands, forcing me to look at her, stares me straight in the eyes & says "Mommy, I want an ice cream cone." Does that work? Not all of the time. But it tells me she isn't afraid. She's not worrying about one thing to the next. She's not losing sleep over it. She wakes up, and guess what? It's a new day.  And it's perfect all over again. Why can't we be like that?? Can you imagine the world we'd live in, if everyone lived like tomorrow was the best day of their lives? I'm not suggesting living like there are rainbows and butterflies at every flippin' corner. I'm talking about loving life. If we didn't hold grudges, stay angry, make innocent people cry......if we lived like we were free. Really, truly free. How many hearts would be mended, how many friends could we hold onto? How many more hugs & eskimo kisses would we offer our children? 

More. A lot more. 

So, I'm going to try. I'm going to try not to be too old. I'll work on being free. When I stub my toe, I may just get mad. And when I see something funny in a crowd, I'm going to laugh out loud. And instead of holding it in when I see an elderly lady visiting her late husband's grave, I'll cry. And I'm going to teach Emma that it's okay. It's part of being free. 

And when she's older, and her heart is sad, and things are rough, I will remind her. I'll remind her of a two year old little girl with bright eyes & a wild heart...who taught me to live as if tomorrow were the best day of my life. Who taught me to be free.

And then I'll hug her tight and give her an eskimo kiss.

.....And an ice cream cone ♥.