When I had my big epiphany to “choose the best part” for this year I felt like I was choosing my family. I was committed to put my family before everything else.

And it felt good.

I had grand visions of what would happen after I made my first big “choice” this year: Take a hiatus from photography.

Oh boy would that ever free up my time.

Not having to stress over photo shoots on a regular basis would make me a totally different Mom.

I’d be waiting with open arms for my kids when they got home from school with fresh-baked cookies.

The little girls and I would be at the park on a regular basis…I pictured us there with the sun back-lighting our hair and with giant smiles strung across our faces.

I’d take a few hours each day to work with Lucy on her therapies. She’d be all compliant and smiling as we worked together.

Claire would be dry each morning and we’d sit nestled together before preschool doing her “homework” and reading our freshly-checked-out-new-each-week-from-the-library books each day.

And the bread…I had grand visions of the fresh bread I would start making…dusting off my wheat grinder that hasn’t seen the light of day for years. Oh I could almost smell the heavenly scent that would start taking over the house as those loaves turned to gold in the oven.

I was thinking back to my dreamy visions as I stood over Lucy trying to cajole her from the pavement in the parking lot into the doctor’s office today, her hot-pink-croc-clad feet hidden under the car (kicking) and her pouty face smeared with tears framed by her freshly-cut new bob spread out all around it on the pavement. (No picture this time…)

And then what was I doing editing photo shoots until 1:00 am last night?

My grand visions certainly didn’t include the fact that I’d have to cram in half of my book club book in one day (Wuthering Heights), and run at the last minute to the grocery store (in the midst of running carpools and trying to tune out wailing Lu) to grab something I needed for the new recipe I was trying out for the book club girls. (Not fresh bread…why didn’t I think of that??)

No, I forgot to factor in multiple stake meetings each week and scrambling to many extra hours of church on Sundays to be at nine different ward conferences.

I didn’t anticipate the crazy state budget cuts that I’d have to fight against or the extent of the phone calls I’d have to make because of it….

…or the calls I’d have to make because some kind, tatoo-riddled man and I backed into each other in a parking lot, crunching the back of his car…or how worried I’d be for him…he didn’t need that in his life right now…I could tell.

…or the amount of scout meetings and phone calls and pinewood-derby-racetrack-locating-craziness that are involved with my calling…

…or that Dave would have to be out of town so much and that I’d miss him so much.

I didn’t realize how big a deal it would be to put myself in as the top “expert” in our life concerning Bardet-Biedl since I’ve found that I’m the one who has to generally impart information about this syndrome to the doctors we’ve been to so far. I want someone to tell me what to do. I want someone to tell me which specialists are most urgent right now, and which ones can wait. But no one knows. I have to figure it out.

And I never figured in the little gritty things…my dreamy visions certainly didn’t include the peanut butter from grimey hands interlaced through the spindles on the back of the stools at the bar, the sticky lemonade drip spots all over the floor, the wet pull-ups I’d find in various creative places around the house, the fifty dirty toenails I’d have to clip…and re-clip…and re-clip every time I turn around, the poop I’d have to clean up smeared all the way down the stairs from Lucy’s leaky diaper (we have a problem because in all honesty, this has happened at least fifteen times) or the report I’d have to stay up to do with Max all night before leaving to go out of town.

And it didn’t cross my mind to factor in the fact that I’d be so darn congested at times that I could hardly talk and that it would feel like I’m underwater for over a month with all the medications I’ve tried to get allergies under control (I’m SO sorry if I ever judged anyone for being wimpy with allergies…they are horrible).

There have been no trips to the park.

Claire usually stinks in the morning so there’s no nestling.

My “cajoling” of Lucy usually ends up like it did today…pavement hugging tantrums.

And there definitely is no fresh bread smell wafting through the house.

So, no, letting go of photography for a season hasn’t lightened my load much…yet. Other things have filled in the few gaps it has left as quick as a high tide washing up over a sandcastle.

But eventually I’ll get the swing of things (I hope). I’ve realized that the photography gaps have been filled with family things. And that’s what I wanted. No amount of photography could have replaced the pure joy I got to see on Grace’s face when I got to go with her class to a production of “Pippy Longstocking” a couple weeks ago. Nor the warmth of Claire’s vice-grip-leg-hug when I showed up to volunteer in her class. And boy howdy I wish I could bottle up the huge grin stretched across Max’s face when I pick him up from school for lunch every now and then.

What I’m realizing little by little is that the crazy, not-so-fun things make my dream real life.

Because in dealing with the nitty-gritties…the tough stuff, the sweet stuff becomes even sweeter. If I were gliding along without a care in the world, the big, long, heartfelt hug Elle came and gave me out of nowhere in the middle of a muddled up phone therapy converstion tonight wouldn’t have been nearly as cherished. The unsolicited help from my eager kids wanting to be involved in book club may have gone unnoticed. The things I’m learning from so many willing and amazing Primary Presidencies may not have phased me. And the flash of the most Heavenly concern and pure love that came across Max’s face when he sat with Lucy trying to help her say new words the other night may have been missed in the hustle. The depth of appreciation for time away with my husband wouldn’t have been quite so deep had I not needed it so despearately. (I was pretty sick…and I was yearning for down-time and to just hang with Dave.)

To echo Iris Krasnow, “I used to think I could do everything, that my babies would be fine squeezed into the rest of my To Do list. Today I know that children must rise to the top of the list, and that list must dwindle considerably.”

I still need to get to the “dwindling of the list.” But it’ll come as I CHOOSE wisely.

Life is crazy. And it doesn’t slow down. But ever so gradually I’m realizing how to lasso it….I think. It’s all in the journey.

And I like the journey.

Some day I’ll master home-made bread.

And tomorrow we have a date with some friends at the park.

One day at a time…

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  1. So should we go to the park tomorrow or hit the gym? Just kidding…call me when ever you need anything. I’m always up for having one or two or three or four of your girls. xoxo

  2. I hear you on all of that….so true! Just remember one day at a time. You can’t be superwomen all the time, (just some of the time)

    Sometimes I just have to laugh at myself and think what was I thinking, why did I think I could handle 4 kids, a husband that travels a lot, and the bizzillion other responsibilities that we have being moms, having church callings, and trying to squeeze in a little of “me” time”. I just keep thinking of you and sweet little Lucy and I know you will be guided on the right care and therapy for her. I am sure it’s not going to be easy, but you can do it!!!!
    She’s so blessed to have your for a mom.

  3. Maybe there is a “homemade bread” candle that you can burn! 🙂 My mom always said, “women can have it all, just not in the same decade.”

  4. Love it! Still proud of you for your “choices” about your season right now. We all inspire each other — let someone else bake the bread while you figure out about Lu right now;) Take care and hey, be careful of that poop.:)

  5. Hey – you’re on the right path, sora! I guess life is really about refining ourselves, and sometimes it’s just getting through the day without giving up. I’m going to email you a quote that has been helpful the last few months for me. And I just have to say, it’s a darn good thing you are so amazingly capable – many a woman would have thrown in the towel. Love ya!

  6. Only you can put a positive twist on life’s crazy outcomes. Can I be you when I grow up?? Hang in there and just go sit in your closet with the lights turned off for 5 minutes and meditate. It does wonders for the soul and helps you carry on. Hugs!

  7. Draga prietena,
    At the end of your mission, you gave the surori a ring. I have worn in every day since that day, about 15 years ago. It has reminded me of the sisterhood we shared as missionaries together. Now the ring still reminds me of that to a certain extent, however, since reading about the every day craziness in your life, that ring now serves as a reminder to me that there are always people who love us and support us. Always. If I were in AZ, I would come clean your house, or watch your kids so you could have alone time, or battle the state legislature with you (as a special educator, I’m feeling dismayed for your loss of state funding). As it is, I can only send along words of encouragement. And, as far as homemade bread goes, if you never make it, it’ll be okay. I think you’re pretty amazing. Te iubesc.

  8. Thanks for always writing what I need to read. You are truly amazing and accomplishing more in a day than I am! Oh, I remember last year the drama of trying to find the pinewood derby tracks – I guess it is a universal problem. We can’t do it all but we can do what is most important at the moment.

  9. Wiht all this extra time on your hands, maybe you should consider writing a book ;)— I’d definitely buy it. This post was amazing. I’m so sorry that we can be so entertained by the stresses and ironies of your life, but you just put it so perfectly.

    I’ve been peeking in on your blog occasionally over the last few months because of your photography. I got your link off of a friend named Sarah, in Florida, who I’ve actually never met.

    Then my friend Alysa from church was talking about her friend Shawni who is an amazing photographer. I should check her out.

    I think I just realized that’s you! And the funny thing is– the only reason it hit me is I was reading this thinking… she sounds just like Alysa Whitlock. Gorgeous, thin, busy, SUPER WOMAN, and a lot of the things you write sound like things she would say. She’s one of the most amazing women I’ve known– and you reminded me TONS of her. (from your writing, I know I don’t know you- I’m not wierd, promise). Anyhoo– just interesting. That is… if you are that Shawni.

    Oh and I sure love your blog, and your beautiful Lucy was so blessed to be sent to your family- as I’m sure you well know. What a lovely family you have.

    Oh and we’ll miss your photography. But of course we get it.

  10. It’s a good thing AZ doesn’t have daylight savings time, or you would definitely need that hour back!

    You are amazing. Seriously.

    and i think i might start having meltdowns and visions of catastrophes in my head; then maybe one of these times things will actually go the other way!

  11. Hang in there Wonderwoman!! One day at a time.
    Let the spirit guide you with Lucy. You have great intuition. Don’t doubt yourself.
    Let me know if I can do anything. Perhaps some homemade bread?

  12. I feel your pain. It seems like when one decision to lighten your load is made.. everything seems to gain rapis weight to overpower the other lightness.

    I am so sorry for the budget cuts. My little guy is in therapy and I hear the horror stories every week. I can’t imagine how difficult that is to go through. Especially when it is just truly the beginning of therapy since she was just diagnosed.

    Deeeeep Breaths!!! No matter what… take time to savor it all. They will grow out of the stinkiness and you will miss it. The hustle and bustle and craziness!! (At least that is what I keep on telling myself!!!)

  13. Thanks you guys…I was a little dramatic but I sure appreciate all the uplifting words!

    And I’m TOTALLY going to invent a bread-smelling candle! Great idea, Ellen. And I want you to know I think of what your mom says all the time “you can have it all, just not in the same decade.” That is so true.

  14. Shawni, I adore this post. I love your perspective and your “from the trenches” reporting. You are such an inspiration. You and your family have been in our prayers.

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