Monday, May 30, 2011

He is so Happy

Recker did NOT drink this Coke
He loves MANGO
Recker loves his daddy, but didn't love being buried
Recker and the Whale
It's not very often that we get our entire family together for vacation, (with exception of Blake) it seems with work and school schedules it's more difficult than I thought it would be.  Today Kayla, Jeremy, Recker, Kaitlyn, Brian and Haleigh all left to go home, Eric and I will be staying in Mexico a few more days.  I especially loved having Recker here with us, that sweet little angel boy loves the outdoors (Just like his uncle Blake) One night Eric and I let him wonder down the beach while we walked close behind counting as he picked up a rock/shell he found, I counted him pick it up and throw it back down 256 times.  He was in his own little world as he jabbered, ran, walked and discovered new things along the shore line. Every once in a while he would look for me to make sure I was within his eye sight, an occasional grin and hug to acknowledge me then off again he would go in and out of the water up and down the beach, picking up sand and throwing it back into the ocean, I wondered what it is that his little mind is thinking, wishing there was something I could do to understand and help him.  I think one of the things that every parent wants for their children is for them to be happy, to truly find happiness in their life, as I watched Recker play I realized he is so happy.
BonBon Recker and Grandad

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Autism and Angels

I love this picture of Recker
 Our sweet grandson Recker was diagnosed with Autism yesterday.  I've had a feeling for a few months that something was not right with him, then when I had to fill out all the paperwork from Phoenix Childrens Hospital, I knew, there it was on paper all of the symptoms that I've seen him do day after day while he's in my care, still I was praying for a different outcome.  I know it must of been heartbreaking for Kayla and Jeremy to hear, it brought back memories of being diagnosed with cancer and feeling so numb and helpless, thinking where do we go from here?  I have no doubt in my mind that Heavenly Father has been preparing Kayla for this, she works at Highland Park Elementary School, her job is to work with  handicapped children including several with Austism.  Recker is only 17 months old, with being diagnosed so young... in fact he is the youngest his doctor has ever diagnosed he has a chance of getting therapy early, helping his chances to have a  normal life.  There are no guarantees, praying is all we can do right now, I have FAITH and HOPE in our little Reck's future.  I personally believe he is going to have an incredible life full of happiness and joy.  The Lord has a special place in Heaven for this little guy, and I  know there are some things I should work on so that when my time comes I too will be in Heaven with Recker.
Today as I watch him innocently playing, and enjoying life as he knows it, I realized how blessed I am to have the opportunity to be his bonbon, to get to spend so much time with him.  Recker literally has been with me since he was born at least 5-6 days a week, during the time I was going through chemo he saved me sometimes from wanting to be done with life in general.  He has brought so much joy to my life, our entire family adores him and gets so excited when Kayla and Jeremy come over with him, on Saturdays when they spend time as a family I miss him, and sometimes will call them to ask if he can play.  Today when he fell asleep on my bed next to me I couldn't help but shed a few tears, more for the unknown than anything else.  I could see the bruising on his arms from where they took 6 viles of blood, he ripped the needle out of his arm, it took 3 adults to hold him down, they finally were able to get the blood from the top of his hand, he has no idea what is going on, he never really will and I think that is such a blessing.  He is one special little angel, and again we are so blessed to have him in our family.  

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Average Prices Then and Now

Just for posterity sake I want to journal the differences between the prices on items from when I was child to now.  The economy is so bad right now and so many people are losing their homes and jobs, it makes me really sad.  THESE ARE ALL AVERAGES

                               1971                 1981                  1991                       2001                      2011

gallon of milk        $1.18               $2.22                    $2.80                    $1.99                    $3.50

dozen eggs                .53                    .90                    $1.01                    $1.10                   $2.00

gallon of gas             .36                $1.38                    $1.14                    $1.46                    $3.74

movie ticket           $1.65               $2.78                    $4.21                    $5.66                    $7.89

loaf of bread              .95               $1.12                    $1.25                    $1.89                    $2.78

postage stamp            .08                   .18                       .29                        .34                         .42

cost of a new
home                 $25,000              $68,000              $118,000              $171,000             $213,000

candy bar                  .10                      .25                        .45                  $1.10                    $1.50

15 oz.                       .21                   $1.12                     $2.19                 $2.99                    $3.79

Corn Flakes
18 0z.                       .21                   $1.12                     $2.19                 $2.99                    $3.79

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Where I Grew Up

House on Highland
I was not blessed as a child to grow up in the same house for all of my years.  Recently I drove by the houses, we called "home" in Phoenix.  Floods of memories came back to me, the house I lived in during my elementary school years looked so small to me now, across the street was the Solice family.  I was in 2nd grade throwing the football back and forth with the Solice children when the football exploded in my arms and immediately broke my eardrum, I remember my mom grabbing me and hugging me tight as I cried from the pain. I endured many many surgeries on my right ear.  Previous to the football explosion I had a blow to the ear, my birth father was drunk and hit me one night when I was 2 or 3 years old, I am now deaf in that ear.  In this house my step brothers and sisters were taken from school one day by their mother, she drove them to California and I never saw them again.  I remember my sisters and I throwing toilet paper all over the yard and trees the night my mom gave birth to my little brother Lance.  One of the scariest things that has ever happened to me happened here, my mother was cooking dinner in the kitchen,  I was sitting at the little table I looked up and there standing in the middle of our kitchen behind my mom was a child, not just any child she never came out during the day, she had what seemed to be transparent pink skin, extremely white Afro hair, even more white than mine was and her eyes were red, she looked right at my mom and asked if I could play with her.  I later found out she was an albino of African decent, we became friends and then one day she was gone, I wonder now as I think back about that day, where she is, who she became, where she grew up.  Then I realize in this house there are memories, but this is not where I grew up.
51st avenue house

I actually drove past our house on 51st avenue several times before I recognized it, then I sat in my car for a long time in front of the house, this was my junior high years, down the street was the Hulshoff family.  In the summer months I remember playing kick the can and hide and seek with them every night, I had my 1st kiss on this street with a boy named Eric. I'll never forget the day Elvis Presley died my mom cried like a baby, I remember learning how to mow the lawn here, pull weeds here and get grounded for lint balls being left behind on the carpet after vacuuming.  I don't want to look at this house, this is the house where bad things happened, this is the house where I was forced to choose between sparing my mom's feelings and my step dad's desires.   The tears are flowing as I look at the bedroom window (on the left) where I lived, so many times I wanted to jump out that window and run, run and never look back.  This house is filled with horrid memories, but this is not where I grew up.
79th avenue house

Driving towards our house off of 79th avenue I was shaking, actually not knowing if I could do this,  and why was I doing this?  I turned in and on the left was Sara's house she lived  behind us, up ahead was Susan's house. Driving towards my house I was overwhelmed with emotions, this was the house I lived in during my High school and young adults years.  I could just see my white 65 mustang parked out front, I  smiled  thinking about the memories my friends and I had in that car.   On the front lawn is where I took pictures  in my cap and gown on graduation night from Alhambra High school 1981, little did I know just a few short years later in this very house my brother Lance would die,  he was only 15 years old. I will never forget that cold November morning.  I wonder if the people living here now know what a special spirit lived in that house, we all loved Lance so much.  I miss him.  I met my husband Eric while I lived in this house,  he was the 1st person to ever say "I love You", I fell in love with him while I lived in this house.  I knelt and prayed at my bedside sometimes for hours, begging the Lord to help me SURVIVE.  I made promises with the Lord, I promised HIM if he would help me get out of this house I would promise to always keep the Gospel in my life,  and try my hardest to be good.  Now looking back I realize the Lord kept his promises to me, and understanding the Atonement a little better than I did back then I know all things happen for a reason.  In this house is where I first new the gospel of Jesus Christ is true, that HE loved me, even if I felt no one else did, HE DID.  As I stare at this house I cannot help but remember so many bad memories, there was  not a lot of love in this home, there was abuse verbally, physically, mentally and sexually yet through it all I knew that it was just  a small chapter of my life, I some how knew good things were yet to come for me, and believe it or not this is not where I grew up.  As I drove away I looked in the rear view mirror, thinking good-bye and good riddance I will never come back hear again, but the memories will never fade.
Our Home on Seneca in Chandler

On my way home I decided to drive by the homes Eric and I have lived in, I wanted to write down the memories I felt at each one of those homes also.  In Chandler Arizona there is a house where Eric and I brought home Kayla and Blake from the hospital after giving birth. In this home we laughed, cried and loved together, in this home I worked hard at learning how to be a wife and mother, I always felt like I was still not good enough.  In this home I learned to cook, clean and be responsible not only for myself but now for a family. I remember one night a cricket was just outside our bedroom window and I went outside searching, determined to get "rid" of it.  In this home I was so busy with being a mother I failed to read my scriptures like I should,  I compared myself to other mothers and wives I let the world define "motherhood" I struggled with self esteem.  I attended the Temple once a week with Eric's dad for over a year so that I could learn more.  We met Tom and Tamy Scheurn, she became a great friend and sister in the gospel.  Still as I stare at this home thinking about the memories I know this is not where I grew up either.
Our Home on Cove in the Islands

One more stop before getting home, the Islands.  In this home  we welcomed Kaitlyn and Haleigh to our family.  In this home I still continued on my quest to do everything "right" I wanted to be like sister "perfect" you know the one ... she gets up at the crack of dawn grinds her own wheat, bakes her homemade bread,  picks fruit off her own trees and makes jams and jellies, makes breakfast for her family, has family scriptures and prayer,  having FHE was a priority,  visits the sick with a prepared meal,  and looking impeccable on Sundays was a must, all children matched clothes on Holidays such as Christmas and Easter, and although these things are admirable, I realized while living in this home I needed to want to do these things because it would enhance and bless our life, not because everyone else was doing it.  In this home Kayla broke her arm and had to have surgery, Blake broke his arm and several other bones jumping off everything he could climb on.  Eric and I met Mike and Jenny Scow, they have become forever friends, we celebrated my 30th birthday with Jenny and Mike while living in this home.   In this home is where I realized a dad should have respect and compassion for his children, I learned this by watching Eric with our children.  I learned that I was not living in reality and it was time to face it, a year later I confronted my step dad about my abuse,  he denied it, my mother denied it and ultimately walked away from her children and grandchildren.  In this home was the darkest time of my life, the guilt I felt for breaking up our "Eternal Family" was so overwhelming I went into a deep depression, but still this is not the home where I grew up.
Where we live now in Gilbert on Poinciana

Leaving the Islands we moved into the home we are in now, still I was broken, my heart ached for my mom I wanted that relationship to be mended, I tried so many times and every time I came away even more hurt than the time before, I once sat in a fetal position by the front door crying until Eric got home because I was so upset about my mom. Debbie Slade became a dear friend and helped me through some pretty rough times, she called David LeSueur  who at the time was our Stake President, he layed his hands on my head and gave me a blessing that I will never forget, a blessing to be able to find peace in my heart, from that day on I began to heal from my past, finally realizing none of what happened was my fault, finally for the 1st time in my life I felt at peace with my decisions.  Haleigh was in the nursery, only 18 months old when we moved here, all of my children were baptized on their birthdays while living in this home. In this home I raised my voice way too much trying to deal with being the mother of teens.   I began looking to other woman for inspiration,  advice, love and recipes, I seriously hated that I could not just get on the phone and call mom for those things. In this home I watched our children face challenges, I spent  and spend many many hours on knees praying individually for my children to understand the importance of obedience. I learned the importance of saying "I'm sorry, I was wrong" We took pictures of each one of our children going to Prom, they all graduated from Highland High School while we've  lived here. Kayla and Jeremy were married and had their reception in our backyard.  Eric and I gathered our children and son in law together at our kitchen table to break the news that I had been diagnosed with breast cancer, 6 weeks later I  sent my son off to the Dominican Republic so he could full fill his dream of serving the Lord on a 2 year mission,  I went through a double mastectomy, was told my cancer had spread,  endured another surgery to have the lymph nodes removed,  had another reception in our backyard for Kaitlyn and Brian, started chemo 2 days later, the next month our 1st grandchild was born, followed by radiation and another few surgeries.  It was not until I went through my cancer treatments that I finally realized how much Eric loves me, how much love I have to give and most important how much my Heavenly Father loves me and has been with me for every step of my life decisions.  I know HE lives, this is something I am completely sure of,  I can now see the times when he carried me and literally pulled me out of overwhelming situations, but still this is not where I grew up.

During my short 48 years  on this earth I have learned that a House is just a structure built of wood or stone to create 4 walls and a roof.  What truly makes a HOME is the love, compassion, respect, laughter, joy and enduring the trials a family goes through together.  A HOME is where a child should not be afraid to live, every person in that HOME deserves to be listened to, and hugged.  Every member of that family needs to know they are loved, especially by their mom and dad, everyday they should hear those words.  I wish I had been taught this as a child.  I wish I had lowered my voice and softened my heart when my teens were struggling, knowing this now surely makes me want to be a better mother, wife, and grandmother, this is the beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Atonement, no matter what age we figure all this out, it's never too late, HE loves us all THAT much.

The Beautiful Mesa Arizona Temple

It is here that I grew up, in the Temple of the Lord.  In this Temple  is where I searched my heart and soul and found answers to life's scariest questions.  Who am I really?  What defines me as a woman?  What and who are the most important in my life?   Have I done all I can do to be the kind of person the Lord will be proud of?  What can I do to make life better for someone else? I learned here that I am a daughter of God, that HE knows me by name and wants nothing but happiness for me, and that it is up to me to decide how I will obtain that happiness.  In this Temple is where I discovered my true identity and it had nothing to do with the size of our home, how much money my husband makes, the style of clothes I wear, or the car I drive. This is where I learned to listen to the spirit for my answers and guidance.  I also learned how to forgive, truly forgive those who have offended me.  For me the answers came at different times in my life, when the Lord knew I was ready to hear the answers, when it was my season to learn what I needed to learn.  I learned to let the Lord work things out, to put things in his hands and if I am doing all I can do to be more like him,  whether in this life or the next it will all work out.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Happy Birthday Eric

Today is Eric's Birthday, when I asked him what he wanted to do, or wanted me to make for dinner his reply was "taco salad, and German Chocolate Cake"  WOW that was easy.  I love you so much Eric, you deserve to have a great birthday.  Thank you for all you do for our family.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Me and Hales

Me and Kayla

Brian Me and Jeremy

Eric and I

Me and Katilyn
Today is Mother's Day, I woke up so excited to get to talk to Blake, but if I'm completely honest that excitement was quickly replaced with a little resentment and anger.  I came down stairs and the kitchen was  a mess, I had to hand wash 2 sinks full of dirty dishes ...... really? I opened the shutters in my kitchen hoping the sunshine would bring some light into my soul   Uh, didn't work the more I washed the more angry I got, I guess you could say I  was expecting to not be the maid today.  I expressed myself to one of my children, (by the way this was my 1st of many mistakes today)
Ryan Durfee spoke in Sacrament today,  homecoming from his Brazilian mission.  My heart began to soften as he spoke of his mother, and of the sacrifice so many mothers make for their children.  My mind starting thinking about my own mother, I wonder what she is doing today?  I wonder if she wishes she had 2 sinks full of dishes she could do?  Wow, how could I be so upset this morning over something so small and insignificant?  The truth is being a mother is hard, I can honestly say I have not felt like I did this morning in over 2 years.  I realize now that the adversary tries so hard to break up families, in contentious times there can be no light, only darkness and that is how I felt this morning it was awful.  Tears filled my eyes as Brother Phelps began playing "The Spirit of God" (the traditional closing song in our ward when RM's give their talk)  I could feel the music in my heart (literally) it was so loud the Bishops son was sitting in front me plugging his ears, Brother Phelps never disappoints, the right music always, without fail brings the spirit to my soul.  I'm grateful for the Atonement in my life, I love the knowledge I have that I can renew my covenants I have made with the Lord  every Sunday during Sacrament and ask for forgiveness for the little things I've done during the week, the things I need to work on.
I'm ending this Mothers Day tonight with gladness in my heart and thankfulness for the children my Heavenly Father has entrusted me with.   Blake brought joy and happiness into our home today as he spoke to each one of us, I told him as I hung up how much I loved him, and that the next time we talk I will be hugging him-only 4 months left.  Kayla and Jeremy came over and made dinner, Kayla is such a great mom and Jeremy has been a loving and supportive husband and now daddy.   Haleigh, is so sweet to me and I love just to sit and listen to her, she is wise beyond her years spiritually.  Kaitlyn is most like her mother, and I'm not sure if that is good or bad, but I do know that she has a deep strong testimony of God, that I cannot take any credit for she has found the answers all on her own.  Brian was so sweet to today right before the Sacrament he handed me a copy of his Patriarchal Blessing, I asked if he wanted me to read it and he nodded "yes" He has been promised some specific blessings, after reading his blessing I have thought about it all day, I realized tonight his blessing is detailed and more specific to him than any blessing I have ever read.  I was honored that he allowed me to read such a special blessing, he is the best man,  Kailtyn could have chosen for a husband.   
As I kneel to say my personal prayers tonight I am especially thankful for the opportunity I have had so far in my life to be a mother, times are not always easy, choices are not always black and white, tempers sometimes get in the way of allowing a family to grow to it's potential, but the good news is that we (I) can try harder tomorrow to be better than I was today.  I love being a mother, it's the most rewarding and spiritual experience I have ever had... I love you Kayla, Blake, Kaitlyn and Haleigh more than you will ever know, please be patient with me, I'm still learning and more good news is that you will have the opportunity to be a better parent than I have been to your children.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Tonight was so fun, I felt like BOB from the movie "What about Bob?" you know when he sailed for the 1st time?  he was tied onto the front of the boat yelling "I sail, I'm a sailor" if you haven't seen that movie this will not be very funny to you, however, I have seen it and tonight "I played Tennis, I'm a Tennis player"   We are a tennis playing family now, Eric got Tennis rackets for the family breast cancer rackets and balls for the girls, cute huh?  Eric and Brian are the only "good" players.  Eric played on the Highschool Tennis team and I always made fun of him UNTIL .... tonight, it's a fun but a lot more of a workout then I thought it would be.  Eric has a killer serve, Brian can keep up with him he's really good also.  
I'm 48 years old and just now trying a new sport, tennis is something I have always wanted to play until tonight I never knew any rules and never understood the whole LOVE thing in the scoring, but now I do.
Life is so short, don't wait until you are 48 to try something new, do it now, take that trip you've always wanted to, run that marathon now, learn to do anything you've never done before, it will amaze you what you can accomplish..... I stink at Tennis but I  don't care, it was so fun, and I will do it again soon.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Blake in Puerto Plata

I have had  so much going on this past week, I am just now getting to post the email and pictures I received last Wednesday from Blake.  He is in a new area called Puerto Plata, he loves it but had a difficult time leaving his last area.

This week we had a baptism,  this little girl thats a member of this family we are going to baptize but we are waiting on the documents for the parents to get married so we just baptized the girl first..this family is really sweet the wife has gone to church soo\ much shes like a member but the husband hasn't gone he says when he gets married hes going to start to go.  
Here in Puerto Plata the things are good,  Trying hard  to find people to teach.  Most are just young single women, and we have been looking for families.  This last week has been hard cuz it was Semana Santa, Holy Week  and no one was in their houses cuz they all leave for the week and visit family and yea so it was so hard this last week to find people but we did have a really cool expierience we found this less active who used to be President of the Disctrict,  President of the Branch and has had almost every calling and now is less active and we shared with him about the Book of Mormon and he was telling me he knows that the church is true and stuff like that and i shared with him my testimony and i told him how horrible i felt when he told me he was president of the district and has gone through the Temple and now is less active. I got really sad, and told him  i told him to sit there and think about all the Covenants he has made with the Lord and we sat there for like 5 minutes without saying a word and he got really teary eyed and told us how horrible he felt and how he has a problem with alcohol.  I told him a story that happen to me one time before the misison well I told him a story but didn't tell him it was me.  I told him about this kid that had so many problems and did so much stuff, but changed his life around for the Lord, he  just thought it was someone else and he was really  touched.  i really hope that this guy can get backl to church it makes me so sad to think that there are people that have had the conviction and testimony and still reject the gospel
today we went to the beach and messed around we had a old jeep theres this member that is canadian (but doesnt know english) and he showed us around this resort and hotel where he lives and works so we messed around theer the whole time it was so sweet. im starting to like it here its just been a little rough when we dont have more than 5 investigators haha but thats why President sent me here so we can find more and i can leave this area 10 times better than it was.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Relay for Life-2011

We continued our tradition this year as a family and participated in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life in Gilbert.  Last year I was still in treatment and not feeling too well when I went, but remember being so grateful that I did.  This year the feelings of gratefulness were the same, however, my health is so much better and I was able to really enjoy it.  I have the greatest family ever, they celebrated with TEAM MONYA and supported me through so much-I love them all-

Hold on, the light will come

Welcome to the world Tanner Justen Watkins
Today my nephew Justen and Courtney had their baby blessed.  Jeremy drove Kayla, Brian & Kaitlyn, Recker and myself to Phoenix so we could be there.  All of my nephews are special to me, Justen was the 1st born to my sister Sonya, I was just a teenager and I loved it.  I would drive to her house and pick him up to take him for ice cream or candy, now he is a man in medical school and married with his own 1st born Tanner Justen Watkins.  
I was kinda shocked when I walked in and Susan Lundberg (one of my mom's friends) approached me with her beautiful smile and embracing hug.  I said "I didn't know you and Ron were in this ward" she said "we're not, we brought your mom to the blessing, Justen invited her" my heart started to beat faster and harder, I looked to my right and there she was sitting only 2 chairs away from me. Not knowing exactly how to react to that, I asked how she was doing, Susan said she had some health issues and was going to be having foot surgery soon.  I think my mind was racing as fast as my heart was, I have not seen her since Gary died a few years ago, and I was so hurt by her I never thought I would see her again, and to be quite honest I was OK with that.  I have tried and failed so many times to heal the hurt that has penetrated my heart and soul over the years, I finally just came to the realization that the Lord needs to be in charge, HE would resolve these issues but not until death.  When I was diagnosed with the VILLAIN my sister Sonya tried to keep her updated but once again that communication failed.  Now here she is sitting within a few feet of me, I looked over to her and she smiled and waved.  I told Susan I wanted to go say Hi to her sweet husband Ron, so I got up and walked over to him, have him a hug and he whispered to me "how does this feel?"  I replied "very awkward"  he and I chatted for a few minutes, I seriously love Ron his heart is kind and compassionate.  I then did something I never thought would ever happen in my lifetime I leaned down and hugged my mom, when I did she whispered in my ear "I love you" I replied "I love you too" this was the most uncomfortable I think I have ever felt in my life.  Never, ever has my mother said "I love you" to me.   I wondered if her heart was softened, if she really meant it, was it as hard for her to say to me as I think it was?  She had tears in her eyes and for the 1st time, I could see some regret, her grandchildren were sitting next to her and she had no idea who they were, now she has 2 great grand children, in all these years (19) she has missed so much.  As the meeting started I could not keep my eyes off of her, tears filled my eyes too, I have to believe the Lord was trying to teach me something today, again I heard HIM say quietly to me,  like He has done so many times "be still, know that I am God" I'm not sure what today was supposed to teach me, I'm not sure that I am even supposed to do anything with this information, but I do KNOW one thing for sure, the spirit was whispering to me, and if it was only to teach me a little more about forgiveness and the Atonement of Jesus Christ it was worth it, that message was so clear to me.  Just as Brent Slade sings in the song Hold On....  "the answers never come without a fight, and when it seems you struggled far too long, just hold on there will be light"