Friday, December 23, 2011

Family Scrapbook of 2011

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My faith.

I am Karen. I am a Mormon.(Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)  I am a Christian. I know and testify of Jesus Christ. I know that He is my older brother and my Savior.  Without Him, I would be lost forever.  Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, the Redeemer of the World.  Most importantly Jesus is MY Redeemer, and loves ME.  I know with all my heart and soul that He was born on earth so that all mankind may be saved, even for me.  Jesus knows me, loves me in spite of all my sins, flaws and short-comings. He knows when my heart is breaking. He is there to weep with me, comfort me, and give me hope and faith for the future.  Jesus Christ is also there when my heart is about to burst with joy, giving me praises for succeeding when I have accomplished something difficult.

I testify, that if you seek Him out, you will receive the same knowledge, comfort and guidance.  The only way back to live with our Heavenly Father is through Him.


If you would like to learn more about my faith click here: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

May all who read this feel the Spirit in which this was intended.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas.

For all those who are missing someone they love this Christmas Season! 


The lake is frozen over
The trees are white with snow
And all around
Reminders of you
Are everywhere I go

It's late and morning's in no hurry
But sleep won't set me free
I lie awake and try to recall
How your body felt beside me
When silence gets too hard to handle
And the night too long

And this is how I see you
In the snow on Christmas morning
Love and happiness surround you
As you throw your arms up to the sky
I keep this moment by and by

Oh I miss you now, my love
Merry Christmas, merry Christmas,
Merry Christmas, my love

Sense of joy fills the air
And I daydream and I stare
Up at the tree and I see
Your star up there

And this is how I see you
In the snow on Christmas morning
Love and happiness surround you
As you throw your arms up to the sky
I keep this moment by and by

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas wish

To all the grieving Mothers I know, you are near and dear to my heart. May you all feel peace during this time of year as we celebrate our Savior's birth, the One who gives us the hope and faith of mending our hearts and souls for eternity.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Week.

My heart is full today.  As I think of what I am most grateful for, my thoughts go immediately to my husband, John. I don't know what I did to deserve such a great man, but I am so thankful for that blessing.  I have never known anyone as selfless as my John.  He is always serving, always thinking of others.  He serves our community, our city, those in need, and especially his wife and children.  From the first time we met, I knew there was something special about him. He knew he loved me and that we belonged together.  Sure we had things we had to work out, but we fought hard for each other, but he fought the hardest.  He made huge changes for me, our developing family, knowing in his heart that it was right, but so difficult. 
He continues to stand by my side, loving me with patience (and it takes a lot), faith and strength, being the rock and foundation of our family.  I know it hasn't been easy for him these 21 years, we have survived so many challenges, adversity, pain and suffering, to the point where we didn't know if we could make it. 
John hasn't given up on me, ever.  I am so thankful for his unconditional love and devotion he shows me daily.  His heart is huge, so full of compassion and love for others, for his children and especially for me.  He is my example of charity. I can't imagine eternity without him.
I love you, John.  

Monday, November 07, 2011


Sometimes this choice has to be made minute by minute.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Three years.

Marcus John Russell June 14, 1991 - October 26, 2008

We have reached another milestone.  Year #3 without having my oldest son Marcus with us. He fought a brain tumor/cancer for 2 years before it took his life at the age of 17.
This has been one of the roughest year so far.  Depression, anxiety seem to have taken over my second oldest Aaron and me during the last year.  Aaron is now the exact same age that Marcus was at the time of his death.  Aaron is now a senior and will now surpass his older brother in earthly age.  Aaron will finish out the marching season playing the baritone, his brothers instrument, and continue on to graduate. He really hasn't dealt with his brothers death.  He even avoided our activities today.  

Noah and Jackson went with John and I out to the cemetery where we put together some foam model airplanes, F-16 Thunder birds which were his favorite military plane that he wanted to fly someday.  We had our own airplane salute in memory of Marcus. I think it was good therapy for the younger boys.  They both have been struggling, especially Jackson. We had lots of tears and the grumpies last night.  Jackson was actually sobbing uncontrollably.  The councilor told me that as Jackson grows up he will have to grieve over and over as he realizes what the loss really means.  He was 6 when Marcus died, and now he is 9.  Yesterday he couldn't figure out why he was so sad, all he knew was that he needed to go get something new to make him happy.  He couldn't understand why he kept crying, and thought if he had something new to distract him, he would stop.  By the time we got them to bed, both Noah and Jackson were in tears. I ended up climbing in bed with Jackson and letting him and Noah cry it out.  We talked about Marcus and what he is doing. That it is ok to miss him and remember him, especially on days like today.  I reminded him that he is watching over us and gives us little reminders to show that he is near.  We talked about the funny things he has done since his passing. 

Today, they picked out somethings that reminded them of Marcus and we took them to the cemetery to put around his headstone.  Noah picked out some lizards, Marcus used to catch them when we lived in Arizona, he always wanted a bearded dragon, but his sqwimish Mom couldn't bring herself to do it.  Jackson picked out some little planes and a little batman figure.  Marcus was a military plane buff and his dream was to fly them someday.  When Marcus was young he was obessed with batman and even as a teen, his last movie he saw in the theatre was "The Dark Knight." 

Jackson picked out the patriotic balloon.  Marcus always had a flag pinned up in his room.  His heart was with the military and his country.  He was talking to recruiters right before his cancer returned, he was going to find a way to get in and join the Marine Corp band, after his mission of course.
One of the hardest thing to deal with is watching my children grieve, find what this all means, and go on living, when I can't even deal with it all myself. 

The best thing I have realized this month is that I really haven't hated the change of season's like I have the last 3 years. I mean I dreaded seeing the leaves change, the smell in the air, all the fall decorations and especially Halloween.  Well, I still hate Halloween but it's not a loathing like before. My heart is healing, peace comes more often and I am "getting used" to Marcus' absence, and the pain that comes with it.  Of course there are days when the grief takes over, but I take those days because it reminds me of the love I have been so fortunate to have and the promises I have made to make sure we are together again, forever, to never to be apart again.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Tunes.

My writing has really taken off.  I have kicked off my shoes and dove right in!  The Teen/Young Adult genre is where it all started, and where my heart is.  I have been searching through Goodreads.  What a great place!  It is where I have found some great books to read, but also some great Authors who have lead me to their blogs and websites.  From there, I find out so much more about writing.  A lot of them use music to help them write, so I have tried this little trick and let me tell you....   fell headfirst into my zone!  So today I thought I would share a few songs that have me groovin'!

1.  I Just Wanna Run by The Downtown Fiction... Ironic, right?? 

2. Just a Kiss by Lady Antebellum

Higher by Taio Cruz

Just some insight on what I MAY be writing about!!  HMMM!  Have I got your interest yet?  Maybe next time I will put some other tunes on here to maybe give a little more hints!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Oh yes, OH YES!  It is that time of year... FINALLY! 
What can I say?  I am a complete sucker for this series! Even though Breaking Dawn was not the best book, the movie MAY be the best Twilight series Movie. 
Oh, and here is another picture I found...

OOOO... Bella the Vampire!  She is looking pretty scary!

For the trailer of this movie and my "oh so subtle" thoughts about Jacob and Edward check out my other blog... my bloggings about my obession with Young Adult Books!
Check it out Karen's Book Light

Monday, September 12, 2011

I miss my batman.
Found this from a fellow Childhood Cancer Mom.  It hit my heart, my soul.  I saw my Marcus in his batman cape, at age 5, jumping off couches, chairs, zooming through our house.  I saw him in the grocery store, spreading his cape out as he ran through the isles, using his grand imagination of saving people from bad guys, being the hero by taking on the risks of stepping in to save others. 

Stubbornly he fought to keep his mask and cape securely on, didn't want his identity revealed. He had to wear it night and day, no matter where we were going.  To his cousins house, to department stores, play groups, and even tried to wear it to church.  What a battle it was when I had to put my foot down and demand that church was not a place where batman would have to protect others, that God would do that for him. That calmed him and he understood a little more.

As my batman grew, he outgrew the mask and cape but still loved the idea of an unknown masked man saving others, still secretly wanting to be him.

Cancer found my sweet batman, and he took it on with a mighty fight.  I suddenly felt protective of my boy, felt that he needed a side kick to get him through.  Who would protect the hero from something fighting him from inside?  There weren't many options, but together we fought as best we could.  He stood strong and fought so hard, I felt so small, not much of a side kick, more like a cheer squad, until.... The cancer reared its ugly head and took on a last battle using all its weapons.  Batman was taken over by the nasty thing that fought him from inside. When I asked him during his final weeks "What do you want the world to know about Marcus?"  With a sweet chagrin on his swollen face he replied "I am the Dark Knight, I am Batman".  No cape, no mask did he don, he showed his true identity. He wanted the world to know, he was the one who was taking on the bad guy and saving others.

Now he can be the hero, saving others here on earth, while his identity is hidden.  I feel him next to me so often, I feel that Wonder Woman outfit, wanting to put it on again, but it is a painful.  I feel his encouragement and slowly I am getting back on my feet to help him save the world, well.... at least our family.  How proud I am to have batman in my life. 

Now... to work on Robin ( Aaron) and the Wonder Twins (Noah and Jackson)!  Batman is their sidekick they surely know.     

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Remember the 80's? Remember doing the Jane Fonda Workout?  My mom and I did this every morning during the summer.  I was a cheerleader and thought it kept me in good shape in preperation for the school year.  I even used part of it as a warm up with my squad.  Those were the days!  Awww, to be young, skinny, and flexible again!  I do remember taking an oath, almost daily back then, that I would NEVER EVER gain weight.  I would always workout and keep myself thin.

HA!!!  Little did I know what each pregnancy, each child, would do to me physically, mentally, and especially emotionally.  When you are an emotional eater such as I, that pretty much is all I have done is eat to make up for the emotional stress that has come from 4 boys!  Not to mention the whole "cancer journey" and grief added on a TON of weight as well.

Not sure where my little sister got her genes from, but she doesn't eat when she is distraught. She works out and keeps herself busy, therefore burning more calories.  So jealous of that!  I get depressed and find some chocolate of any kind, but preferably BLUE BIRD Chocolates that are handmade here in our little Cache Valley.  Somehow, nibbling on those oober-rich, soft, sweet morsels and letting each bite melt between my tongue and the roof of my mouth, actually melts away my sorrows.  It is quite an experience.  Too bad it has such horrible side effects... such as an expanding waistline... I haven't seen mine in quite a few years... sigh.

So back to my main thought... Oh look , something shiny!!... Oh yeah, I was going somewhere with this.  Ummm... Oh right!  I WENT TO THE GYM TODAY!   I also took a nice walk with John yesterday.  So hopefully this is my start (again)to getting my life back.

 Here is my new motto:  "I am either going to die young or kill myself trying not to!"

It's all in the fight!  So here we go.  Jane Fonda... eat your heart out!!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

September is here!

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month - letsCONQUER from St. Baldrick's on Vimeo.

As some, or most of you know, I lost my son to Brain Caner at the age of 17.  This month is the time to spread the word, donate, and help find cures for OUR children!!  HOPE is all we need!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Young Man...

A young man, dealing with the emotional and physical turmoil that cancer can give, drew himself inward and let the sorrow build.  Anger and bitterness brewed inside, so much so that he took it all out on his siblings, parents and even on himself.  He felt life wasn’t fair and he couldn’t understand why he was given this heavy burden. He felt no one could understand the pain and turmoil that he dealt with daily.  The losses of his life-long dreams were crushed because of this illness, he had some handicaps that would follow him for the rest of his life and he knew his life expectancy was short. 
His Doctors recommended a special camp for youth with cancer.  This young man, when he first heard of the camp, didn’t want to go.  His parents pushed the idea and even signed him up without his permission.  When the day came for him to go, his father demanded he get in the car.  Not happy at all with this, the young man pouted and threatened that he would cause so much trouble, they would send him home. 
When they arrived at the camp, the Counselor welcomed him.  The young man crossed his arms, hid behind his sunglasses and ball cap and only answered in short, snippy answers.  His father was wary to leave him, but the Counselor reassured him he would be ok.
After his father left, the Counselor showed the young man to his tent and introduced him to the others his age.  The boys were having a water fight with large medical tubing, with large medical clamps on both ends.  The young man gradually began to interact and became an active player in the fight. 
As the day progressed, the young man noticed a younger boy sitting off by himself.  The young man approached him and introduced himself.   The younger boy replied with his name being “Tomas.”  The two sat for hours in conversation. 
As the week progressed, the young man and Tomas became friends.  There were times when Tomas lashed out and couldn’t deal with the scary and daunting treatments ahead of him. The young man was often found with Tomas deep in conversation, or with his arms around Tomas in comfort. 
When the young man’s father came to pick him up from camp, he was worried as to what he would find.  The counselors gushed about the young man, saying he became the leader and a counselor himself. They explained how the young man made sure all the youth was involved and having a good time.  When his father found his son, he found a new person, a man who seemed to have found his role and accepted his fate. 
When the young man returned home, he gathered his siblings together and insisted on playing games with them.  He told his family how much he missed them and would never take advantage of what he had.  He learned the value of each person and that Heavenly Father loves each one of us the same. 
Just a few months after this experience, the young man’s cancer worsened.  His disabilities increased, but his outlook on life was a good one.  He joked with those who came in contact with him, even after he learned his time on earth was nearing its end.  Though difficult, he accepted Heavenly Fathers will.
Now he serves our Heavenly Father from the other side of the veil, performing miracles, comforting others who suffer as he did, and giving himself entirely to those in this life and the next.  I will never forget the example he set for me. 

Love you my son. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dreaming while "Under the Weather".

I just had to get up and write this before it was gone.  Linda. My sweet friend, my sarcastic buddy is still gone.  There were so many things we had been "Planning on doing" which never got done.  That lunch date that we put off forever, the dinner outing we were going to do with John and Brad. Those things that we used to do on a regular basis together.  Girls night out was always fun. Until life happened well... death happened.  After such a loss, I pulled my legs into my chest and held on tight, not wanting to let anyone in on my pain.  It was mine and I had to own it, guard it and protect it. I was the one who had to feel it and grieve for my boy. No one else could do it, nor can they now. So up went the walls and my doors slammed shut. Closing off the world around me. I just wanted to be alone, and life drifted by.

Sure, I  pretended to function again, go out with the "girls" who called once a month to make sure I got out of my little prison of grief.  Linda was always there, not too pushy but not afraid to ask questions on what this kind of grief was like.  I liked that.  No one really asks those difficult questions, no one would dare, not even I.  That just meant she cared enough to 'go there'. 

So tonight, while only 1/2 sleeping and 1/2 awake from coughing, being slightly medicated.  I had a wild ride of a dream.  Sorry the details are not so clear, but I know it meant something. 

It felt like I was traveling/flying/ whatever it is that you do in dreams, but I know I was looking over mountains, hills.  Not sure where this is but it was beautiful.  I felt Linda with me somehow.  I knew she wasn't there physically, but she was there. Then I was standing in front of an old building with a worn down carport hanging on to it, I suddendly wanted to leave Linda a message.  I had no place to write but I wanted her to know something, or did she want me to know something?  I was so confused but I  knew I had to write something for her.  So I wrote on the patched up, plastered, white wall...and this is what I wrote.. (ready for this big revelation?)
I was shocked that this, this crazy, sarcastic, phrase is what I wanted to say to her!  Like I really think she got off easy by leaving her amazing husband, 4 beautiful children behind?  Hardly!!  I know she is just beside herself right now, wanting to be a part of those kids lives.  To hold her new daughter that she never was able to see, hold, smell or touch.  The one she gave her life for!  Of course that is it.  She gave her life for her little Charlie to come to earth and get her beautiful body and teach everyone around her about pure love. Who else would do that? Linda would.  

So now the crazy cycle of life and death continues.  Life is so cruel at times, but someday we will completely understand.  I know that.  For now I am strapping my seatbelt a little tighter. Now go try and get some sleep before the sun comes up.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


I broke out my pen again and started on my novel.  It feels strange to call it that, but that is exactly what I want it to be.  I feel intimidated because I don't have the education background that others have.  I only attended 1 year of college, but on every paper I wrote, my professors gave me an A.  I think I even recall an A+ and a comment saying "great writing".  This was a shock to me considering I barely skated through High School and my dear English teacher didn't like my writing.  I know it is only one opinion, but hers was the only one that counted in those days.  To this day (25 yrs later) her words still ring clear every time I feel like sharing my writing with anyone.  I know I am insecure, and have been all my life.  I grew up with learning disabilities, before we even knew there were such a thing.  I have always felt dumb, and teased as such.  My ACT scores aren't even mentionable.  So here I am 40-something and still insecure.  Of course my insecurities also stem from having a few English majors in the family.  I just can't put myself out there to the critics of all critics. (love you guys!) 
One thing that really scares me is that someone might steal my idea.  There is one person who seems to have taken off on my idea when they asked me about the premise of my writing.  So now I really don't want to share in fear of being betrayed.  I know that sounds crazy, but I am writing from deep inside and it would hurt to have someone take advantage of that. There is a part of me that wants to share it because it is something that I have put so much time and energy in, but then the thought of it being slammed or even laughed at scares me.  Obviously I am considering it or I wouldn't be writing about it here. 
I suppose when the time is right, I will share something. 

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Lindsay Writes: HUGE Giveaway!! signed copies of books!! Stand Up ...

Lindsay Writes: HUGE Giveaway!! signed copies of books!! Stand Up ...: "In honor of recent run-ins with Cancer, I am doing a huge giveaway to support the cause!

If you love to read YA books, go to Lindsay's website. She is raising $$ for cancer research, plus you might get some signed books free!! Its for a very worthy cause!


In Memory of Linda Rowbury

A few short weeks ago, Linda was at work (USU Credit Union), making final preparations for her to go on her Maternity leave.  She was looking forward to being at home with all 4 of her children and enjoying her new little one that was scheduled for a C-section soon. 
All of that would never happen.  One evening after work, she retired to her room because she was feeling really tired.  After a nap, she got up when she suddenly collapsed to the floor going into cardiac arrest.  Her oldest son Carter heard her fall, ran in and found her on the ground.  He ran outside grabbed his Dad who came in , dialed 911 and started CPR when he realized she wasn't breathing.  They continued to work on her as they rushed her to the ER.  Doctors were able to take the baby and get her on life support.  Both Linda and baby were life-flighted to Salt Lake City.  10 hours later, Linda passed away.  Baby Charlie Linda is still in ICU, with severe brain damage, but doing OK. 
Her husband Brad, is trying to keep life going.  Taking care of his 3 children (ages 10, 7, and 3) who are at home and then driving to Salt Lake to be with baby Charlie.  My heart breaks for all of them. 
Linda worked with John for the last 7 years at the Credit Union where they became friends.  Brad and Linda were in our Ward (Church) for years.  They worked in the Church Library for a while where Marcus would love to escape from Sunday School to go in and visit with both Brad and Linda. I should say more like tease each other.  For some reason, Marcus  named them "the Strawberries".  As time went on, we got to know the Strawberries better and spent some fun times together.  We started a new tradition of spending New Years Eve at each others house. 
When Marcus got sick again, Linda was close by and ready to help.  I remember she stayed up 1/2 the night making cinnamon rolls for Marcus because he requested them when she asked what he wanted most. She loved to serve others and always put their needs first. 
Linda had the most amazing laugh that was very contagious.  Her wit was so unique and sarcasm was her best friend.  She had a way of making you feel like you were her favorite.  Brad's sense of humor, personality and wit matched hers so well. 
After Marcus passed away, Linda and a few others made sure I was getting out and having some fun.  But as time went on, I pulled away and our little outings ended.  We talked about getting together and doing things, but it never happened.  When I found out she was pregnant again, I was almost mad at her.  I didn't know why I didn't want this to happen, but my heart could feel that things were going to change.  I had no idea what that meant.  

What I have learned...

When I learned of Linda's passing, my heart ached again. I felt that familiar pain in my chest, in my heart, the lump in my throat and knot in my stomach.  When I was about to ask God "How much heart-ache can I take?  Why am I dealing with so many losses, so much pain, suffering?  I just can't take this anymore! Too many funerals of children, loved ones, friends, and neighbors who were too young to die."  Then I felt the world shift. I received a message, a Miracle.  I looked to my Heavenly Father, and instead of concentrating on MY heart, MY suffering, I gave it to Him. Instead of "why am I always hurting, always being tried, losing so many people I love", Today it became:  "How blessed I am to have had these exceptional, beautiful influences in my life. A new warmth came over me, I am so thankful that I was a part of their lives and they mine!!"  They each taught me love, courage, strength, and joy.  I am thankful to have these experiences because they are now a part of me. 
I will never forget Linda, she was such a dear friend.  I will continue to pray for Linda, Brad, Carter, Ryen, Jack, and baby Charlie. May they have the peace and comfort of our Lord, and Savior. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Book of Mormon Musical

A  great article in the Washington Post. Click on link:
A Latter-Day Saint view of Book of Mormon Musical

I really didn't think much of this musical when it came out. I thought it was interesting that someone would spend 7 years writing and making fun a religion.  Not just any religion, but one that was persecuted in its early years and still has many people trying to bring down its doctrine.  I guess it is easier to laugh at someone who is different, than to accept them. Of course many just classify this as entertainment.  Just as Michael Otterson, the author of the article, stated, I choose much better entertainment than something that has "over-the-top blasphemous and offensive language."
I feel that if we, as a church, responded to everything that makes us look poorly, that is all we would do.  Since the earliest days of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we have had to defend our right to worship, as well as our own lives.  So a musical poking fun at our missionaries, our religion, isn't worth making a scene about.  We, on the other hand, are taking advantage of this sudden "fame".  How many people will now know about Mormons? The Book of Mormon? Missionaries? Whether negative or not, Our nation has been exposed to Mormonism in a big way.  One thing that could happen, will happen after seeing this musical or hearing about it by word of mouth, is they will search it.  Many will search the teachings, the doctrine out of fascination and curiosity.  That is always a good thing.  Not that millions will flock to our churches, begging to be baptized, but at least they will have some kind of knowledge of our World.  They will see the many good things this church does for millions of people throughout the world.  They will know that we are good people, serving God in our way, trying to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Of course I know there are those that will take the negative and run with it. 
So for now, I will  not grab a picket sign and protest this musical because one way or another, people will hear about Mormonism.  When the time comes that we might lose our right to testify of our Church, and worship freely, THEN I will stand up and protest.  I will stand for what I know to be truth. 
For now, I will stash this musical with all the other media that I will not see or support because it is not "benevolent, virtuous, good report or praiseworthy". 


Sunday, June 12, 2011


Living, breathing, growing, blooming, are all part of Life. Rain, snow, wind, hail, sunshine, heat, fire, are the elements in which we all obtain the ability to grow and bloom.  Those elements can become extreme, and hanging on to breathing and living seems too difficult to do sometimes. Just when those days seem to be fading, another element gets thrown in and all of a sudden the damage of past elements seems to linger and makes the new one seem so much larger and can be just as devastating.
Having a great husband has been such a blessing to me.  He has been my rock throughout our 20 years of marriage, my stability, the one who I can hold on to during the hardest days of my life.  There are times where I have to back away to stabilize us both.  As I stated above, sometimes there are strong elements that come while still recovering from previous ones.  That is what this upcoming week brings to myself and my dear husband.  Unfortunately, sometimes there is nothing that we can say or do to help each other.  We have to separate ourselves (not in a physical sense), find the place where we can hunker down and deal with everything on our own.  That seems pretty harsh, you may think, but in reality there are times where space is needed.  Trials in our lives come in many different ways, some that others can see and often come to help, but many of them are not obvious and the only way to fight through them are alone, on our knees. Ones personality also affects dealing with life.  Some would never let someone else in to protect them from the hurt and pain, or feel like it is something they need to accomplish alone. 
Here we are, facing the week of (our son) Marcus' would-be-20th-birthday, with other major developments that could determine a huge change in our lives, again.  The stress is tough, and we both deal with things so differently, that space may be a more peaceful place for both of us.
This week will come and go, then we will press forward like we always do, making us stronger.  We will grow once again and bloom together because that is what a real, loving, eternal marriage means. Love requires work and this earthly life is a test.  My best friend, my husband, and I made sacred covenants in the Holy Temple, under God's authority here on earth, that we would love each other forever.  We will conquer all that we face here on earth, with the Lords help, then we will be the people we need to be to love each other eternally. We will live together forever with our extended families and precious boys in the presence of our Heavenly Father.  No greater joy will there be for us.

Future Writer!

 Tall Tales by Jackson, 3rd Grade, age 9.

Being the youngest in the family, Jackson tends to feel left out, always "too young" to be included with his older brothers, even though height and wieght-wise he is neck and neck with his older brother, Noah (3 years older).  Sometimes to get noticed you have to be loud, over dramatic and especially outspoken. 
Toward the end of the school year his 3rd grade class wrote their own Tall Tales while studying classic ones in class.  Jackson's imagination is not laking in anyway.  He has a vivid one and it shows in his personality.  He has often written short little stories while sitting in church.  For someone who has a hard time focusing (maybe a little adhd) he sure likes to write. 
Take time to read his Tall Tale and you will realize that he adds what is going on around him to his imagination.  As far as the 1972 date, I have no clue why he chose that year. 
I love my Jackson, his love of life and adventure keeps me focused on what is important.  Now if only I can find the energy to keep up with him, that would be wonderful!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Just thought it would be fun to show some pictures of myself  when I was a little girl.  Of course in that process, I will humiliate my siblings and parents with some "not-so-stylish" photos!

Here I am with my dear little brother, John.  This was my first day of kindergarten... YES!  I had a broken arm and not my first broken bone either!  I broke my first bone, collarbone.. can't remember which one, when I was just 1 year old.  When I was the ripe old age of 2, I broke the other collarbone.  I don't remember these events, but I do remember later on in my Kindergarten year tripping and cutting my forehead open on the coffee table.  My friend Cheryl Wagner and I were dancing (I know, you can't imagine ME.. DANCING?? OH and I think "dancing" is the reason for broken collarbone #2!) and the coffee table got in my way.  
Blood running down into my eyes, my brave mother, who was now getting used to the "green hospital" and Dr. Salas, sat and held me while we waited in the "emergency room".  I remember the Dr. speaking English in his strong Spanish accent about how brave I was, while sticking a needle between my eyes to numb the area, then using a curved needle (I watched him through dried bloodied eyes) and sewed my head together again.  I remember I didn't fight him, and I didn't cry while he did all of this.  It surprises me I remember so much of it, but I was determined NOT to cry.  Brave is what I was going to be for good 'ol Doctor Salas who at one time said "She is the champion of broken bones, yes, the CHAMPION".  I think that was after I chipped my elbow a few years later. 

Family Home Evening was a big part of my childhood. I can't remember the lesson, but I had a scribbled on my crown and Nancy (my sister sitting on the arm of the couch) had a pretty tiara!  I bet mine was done REALLY fast compared to the others.  (left to right: Brian, John, my DAD, Me and Nancy)  I remember my mom being the Den Mother of my brothers Cub Scouts.  My Mom told me that I would say "My Mom is the dumb mother of the scrub scouts".  I realize now that I cursed myself. I now have 4 boys who all have been cub scouts, and I have been the dumb mother FOR SURE! 
What a great picture! I love this because my parents look sooooo young! (left to right: Nancy, Mom, Me on her lap, Dad, John on his lap, and Brian)
I will openly admit that those are MY PANTIES showing!  I was NOT a prissy girl, I hated dresses and sitting still for photos was NOT my favorite thing to do.  I imagine myself squirming out of my mothers arms to the floor and running off as fast as I could after the camera snapped.  John, on the other hand, probably took another nap.  Poor John was always having to wait for Mom to take care of me first because I couldn't wait!   
Here we are, a little older, and probably not as wise as I should have been.  The red around my lips is all chapped because I would sit and lick my lips over and over again until they were sore.  My Dad always put the yucky Bistix on my lips that would sting until tears came.  My parents now believe that it was probably a food allergy.  I think that could have been it, but now that I know I suffer from anxiety and depression, it could have been an allergy to start with then ended up being a nervous habit.  I  am sure I would have been the poster child for ADHD if they had known about it then. I could never concentrate on anything and it was so frustrating!!  John read before me, he would correct my reading while I did my homework from Kindergarten and he was only 4.  Of course that didn't change when we got into high school.   He could do my chemistry better than I could.  I think the only reason I never had to redo a grade was my knowledge that if I did, I would have to be in my little smarty-pants- brothers class with him!  UGH!  No way! 
We did have our moments,  John and I, we had the same friends (most of the time) except when I was chasing boys!  He tried to blackmail me a few times, but then I discovered a few secrets of his! We were only 20 months apart in age, but sometimes it felt like twins!
All in all, I had a wonderful childhood living in a place so unique.  I am thankful for my heritage.  Only a few can say that they were born and raised in Mexico, but have no hispanic blood, speaking english and spanish while attending an LDS (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints, aka... Mormon) school system.  I love the Mexican culture and consider it part of my culture.  Someone once told me.. "Gee, I am glad I am not in your shoes, I would be so confused as to what race or culture I belonged to.  You are not accepted in the Mexican culture cause you are white, but then you really don't completely fit into the white culture either."  This is very true. Even more confusing when I married a catholic- born, east-coast, big city boy who didn't realize what a white, farmer/ranchers daughter, from mexico, LDS grown, small-town, hic-from-the-stix, girl could be like.  CRAZY... just plain CRAZY!!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

12 Years Old!

April 28th, 1999 was a day that my prayers were answered.  I got my sweet Noah. 
Going back to an earlier time, we had spent 2 years trying to concieve another child.  In April 1998, we got the news that our waiting was over.  We were elated and felt we had been so blessed to finally concieve again.  I thought for sure that this one would be the daughter I always dreamed of having. My due date was to be on December 24th, which to me was a definite sign of an angel coming. I felt the Lord tell me how special this child was. I was overwhelmed with emotions.

On May 10th, Mexico's Mothers Day, I went in to full labor and ended up saying good bye to my sweet unknown, but deeply loved baby. I mourned so much for my precious child that I would never hold. 

As the summer was ending, I was still sure that the Lord had another one for us. He didn't make us wait long, just 4 months after losing our baby, it was confirmed that we would have baby #4 and the due date would be MAY 10th! The same day I lost my baby! This time I knew this precious child would be the one who was meant for our family.  I did not have a preference as to a boy or a girl, (well, not as much as before) but my husband knew from that moment, this was Noah.  John continued to call him Noah the entire pregnancy, so by the time my little, tiny, Noah (7 lbs 2 oz, 19 inches long) made his entrance (with a few little bumps along the way) We couldn't call him anything else. 

Noah Lynn Russell was born in Sierra Vista, Arizona.  We couldnt ask for a better baby!  He brought a peace to our home and does to this day.  He is the only one who could have been Jackson's big brother, Marcus and Aaron's younger brother, so full of love and kindness.  The Lord blessed us with a calm before the storm (Jackson) and a peacemaker in our home.  Noah, who still is quite small for his age, dreams of playing for the NBA or the NFL. "Whichever one I feel like playing when I grow up" he says.  Noah is my organized child, my artistic child, and a party planner!!  When I am having bad days, he is always one to give me a hug and tell me how much he loves me.  His laughter brings joy to my heart and soul.
Tomorrow, May 1st 2011, my Noah will be ordained a Deacon in the Aaronic Priesthood.  He has chosen to do this, and will be ordained by his Father.  He will be able to serve in our Church, by passing the Sacrament (Communion) to the congregation.  We are so proud of our Noah, who is growing into a young man. 
To top it all off, he just got a certificate for making the Honor Roll!! He worked very hard all year to finally reach this goal in his 3rd quarter!!  It was a great accomplishment for him, especially adjusting to middle school!  


Friday, March 25, 2011

Joys in life.

Despite the fact that it is 39.9 degrees outside, snowing heavily, and it is March 25th today, I am feeling rather good!  Snuggling up on my bed with my favorite quilt, my cat asleep at my feet, and my laptop in hand, I feel GREAT!

Reconnecting with one of my most dearest friends last weekend seemed to heal a place in my heart, let some sunshine in, and brighten my path.

Watching the NCAA basketball tournament with my boys has been a highlight right now since our team, the University of Arizona, is doing so great.  Sometimes I think someone is going to crash through our floor to the basement with the way we are all cheering!

A new hair color and style has given me a whole new sense of being.  Jenni, my cousin, used her magic on me.  A fresh new look gives me a boost of energy, confidence, and overall joy.  I know it's just my hair, but for me, it really helps. 

My conversation with Jackson on the way home from school today made me laugh out loud.
Me: "Jackson, when you think of others before yourself, you feel good inside.  When you continue to do this, others will be more considerate of you" 
Jackson: " It will also get girls to be more attracted to you!" 

Watching as my son continues to grow up and learn more about becoming a man;  his drivers licence, his first interview, his first job, preparing for a mission and for college. 

Noah getting ready to turn 12 and receive the Priesthood next month.  Watching how he is really growing, physically (FINALY) and emotionally.  He will be attending his first week-long scout camp!  How did he get here already?

John and I sharing our new way of life brings me the most joy.  Changing the way we live is hard for both of us, but doing it together is bringing us together, reconnecting in a way we haven't in a very long time.  It's like we are getting to know each other again, finding new strengths, and pulling together to achieve one goal. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Beauty of Friends.

The Lord leads us to the people we need in our lives when we need them most. Over the 40-something years I have been on this earth, I have been given some of the best friends. As life goes on and changes take place, we move forward.  We have grown from the bond, the love, laughter, joy, sorrow, and experiences from the path that we shared.  When our paths part for one reason or another, we carry each other in our hearts and this union we have created still exists. 
Arriving on our new path, we join others who share this new journey and we form new bonds, new faces of love, laughter, joy, sorrow, growing from each other.
Every once in a while we find someone who knows us better than we know ourselves, someone who has been with us through the hardest times in our lives, someone whose strength, beauty, and love seem to come from somewhere else.  My beliefs are, just as a family is forever, so are these friends.  That time, distance, trials, and bumps in the road will never sever the spiritual bond that exists.  I am so blessed to have at least 2 in my life.  My heart is full today for those women who love so unconditionally, and give me strength.  The Lord blesses me in so many ways.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Coming out of a coma only to realize that I don't recognize myself, both physically and definitely not mentally.  Sure I have looked in the mirror everyday for my entire life, but the last few years have been with blinders on.  Slowly, little by little, I have had little clues that things just aren't OK.  My first big hint was when I saw someone who has known me since I was born.  I haven't seen her in years, but she would know me instantly.  When I went up to hug her, she had no idea who I was.  Even after I told her, she was trying to put it all together. 
I have seen pictures of myself, knew that I was gaining weight, but I was so involved with Grief that I just did NOT CARE!  For years I have not cared what I looked like, not cared if I was healthy or not, NOT CARED whether or not if what I was doing would eventually shorten my life.
One day, the lights came on! A new set of eyes opened and I saw myself.  REALLY saw what I had become.  THIS is not the person I planned on becoming.  THIS is not the place I planned on being.  I was in a HOLE. 
More importantly, I looked toward my Heavenly Father and felt sorrow.  Where is the woman I was working toward?  When I was a little girl, THIS is not who imagined, who I dreamed I would be. What have I done and how do I change it?
With support of a loving husband, I am attacking from every angle I know how.  We are working together to find ourselves again.  To find out what we are made of.. 

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Families Can Be Together Forever

I learned this song as a child many years ago and has been a favorite. Now this message is what I hold on to daily. It has become a focus in my life. The Lord wants us to be happy in this life, as well as the next. This is why He has promised us eternal life with those we love the most, our families. It is not an automatic given, this Promise he made, there are certain requirements to this. We have to work for it. We have to live as He would have us live. Loving, sharing, caring, serving, living as our Savior did.

I have been in some dark places as of late and I know that light and darkness cannot reside in the same place. I have had many messages given to me stating I need to let the light in and turn toward the future, to the day when I will have all my boys with me again. That means I have a lot of work to do to get there. I have boys to raise, to make sure they will be with me as well, and an amazing husband to take me through it all.
Doctrine and Covenants 14:7 "And if you keep my commnadments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God."

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Just things...

These are just THINGS, but they pull at my heart while making me smile.
Someone else could just see these and think,"thats just STUFF"
But to me they are all that I have and what I hang on to when I miss him so much
I just can't stand it. 
 The Helmet that was given to him by pilots from the AFB, which he desperately wanted to try on over his puffy, swollen bald head. Plus the hat that he wore till it was almost rags.

The poster to remember his trip to the golden spike with his Grandparents, his necklace from Hawaii, his dogtags he wore and a flag from a spray from his funeral. 

Band pictures that were framed by the Band Parents and signed by the kids, with his MC band hat that he loved to wear.   

Oh how he loved his hats. The Arizona hat was one of his cherished ones, and hardly took it off for anything and it shows.  

 The Patriot Wall; a plaque with a photo of him sitting in an F-16, his flag, and his last suvenior; the poster of  the USS ARIZONA from Hawaii

 The bookshelf he built with his own hands the last semester of school he could attend, which holds the many books on aviation and his religious books he was studying for his mission. 

 The monkey he got from a crane machine and a picture of all of us from a while ago.

The movies that he loved (notice the History of Aviation and Planet Earth)  

 The very few sport pictures of him, the star from Make a Wish, Hot wheels that he collected, his phone case and his good luck Tiki from Hawaii. 

The box he made, scout badges, the classical CD's that I still can't listen to, his Marine Corps Stickers, the pilot rubber duck that Aaron bought for him (he had a collection of rubber duckies too), and a book with his pictures from his trip alone to NY to see his Grand-Pop and Ali.  

The model planes that he couldn't finish.  He insisted he couldn't leave until he finished them.   

The bed where he slept, where his brothers play, nap, watch movies and hang out.  It's where I go to feel at peace, remember and feel him close around me. 
Some may think I am not quite right because I leave his THINGS where he left them.  To me and my boys it's where they have always belonged.  We can't put away our love for him or pretend he was never here, so we keep his THINGS where we can see them.  They have become a part of us now, just like he were here.