YES, We Really Do Have Eight!

I love babies. When my babies hit their first birthday, I long once again for that tiny helpless little person that smells like baby powder and doesn't squirm away when you're staring at his beautiful little face. Now don't get me wrong. I love the other stages too. I laugh out loud when I hear the jibber jabber of his first words (Jackson). I giggle when I see one dance hysterically when she hears a Justin Bieber song (Bekkah). I beam with pride when she puts gospel principals into action as she prepares for her upcomming baptism (Emily). I am amazed over and over as he accepts and conquers challenges far beyond his years (Ammon). I burst with pride as I watch his determination and drive in all that he sets his mind to (Zane). I melt when I see the empathy, and concern she has for others (Mckenzie). I have to catch my breath when I see him snuggle with his baby brother (Zachary). I am amazed as I read his letters from his mission (Tres). I guess I just love it all. And this is why I have, despite my horrible pregnancies, we have eight beautiful, talented, amazing, wonderful children!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Perfect Christmas

Sometimes I get so caught up in the holiday festivities that I forget the spirit of Christmas. I read this story and thought I'd share.

The fragrance of gingerbread always makes me think of Suzie and the year I was going to have a perfect Christmas. During past Christmas seasons, I had always been too busy to create the Christmas traditions I felt would build a lifetime of memories for my family. But that Christmas was going to be different. That year my time was my own, and I meant to make every minute of the holiday season count. I would make handpainted ornaments, home-sewn gifts, beautiful decorations, artistically wrapped packages, and baked goods to fill a freezer. I was baking gingerbread men for the tree the day my nine-year-old daughter brought Suzie home from school.
“Mama, this is my new friend, Suzie,” Debbie announced, presenting a rather chubby, cheerful-looking little girl. Suzie reminded me of a California poppy, with her red-gold mop of curly hair and a freckled nose that twitched eagerly as she breathed in the spicy fragrance.
I took two warm gingerbread men from a pan and gave them to Suzie and Debbie. Soon the two girls were helping my seven-year-old son, Mark, hang gingerbread men on the tree. (Of course, the cookies never stayed long on the tree. The children and their friends ate all of them every few days, and we replenished the supply weekly. As a result, our house smelled gingery from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.)
Later, Suzie’s mother telephoned, and in a tired-sounding voice, she asked me to send Suzie home.
The Sunday after Thanksgiving, I was still working on my perfect Christmas. I had decided to mail my Christmas cards early, and so I had spread the dining-room table with Christmas cards, address books, stamps, and green- and red-ink pens with which to address the envelopes. I was all set to start when Mark came in.
“Mama, we talked in Primary today about helping other people,” he told me. “Our Primary teacher said a lonely lady in our ward needs help.”
“Oh? What’s the lady’s name?” I asked, wondering if I had met her.
“I can’t remember . . . something long and hard to say,” Mark said, “but Sister Jones wrote it on the blackboard, and I’d remember it if I saw it.”
He went to the desk drawer and pulled out the ward list. After a moment he gave a shout of triumph. “Here it is!” he cried. He thrust the page under my nose, and I glanced at the name by his finger before turning back to address my Christmas cards. The name was difficult to pronounce.
Mark borrowed my pen and drew a green circle around the name in the ward list before putting it back in the drawer.
“I want to go visit that lonely lady and take something to her. Can we make something for her now?” Mark wanted to know.
“Not today, Mark. It’s Sunday, and I don’t bake on Sundays. Besides, this lady doesn’t even know us. Surely she wouldn’t want a visit from strangers,” I explained. “Today we are going to start addressing our Christmas cards. For once I’m going to get our cards mailed before December twenty-third. If you want to help someone, you can help me.”
In the days that followed, Mark persisted in reminding me about the lonely lady. Twice he asked to make something for the woman, but both times I was involved in other projects.
One Tuesday afternoon Suzie again came home with Debbie. That day I was putting together my specialty: a gingerbread train. Each car carried tempting cargo such as breadsticks, candy canes, and cinnamon bears. Suzie’s eyes sparkled when I gave her a few chocolate-chip cookie wheels to “glue” into place with frosting. She ate one of them.
“I wish my Mom made gingerbread trains,” she said. “Last year she made a neat gingerbread house, but this year she said it was too much work.”
“It is a lot of work,” I agreed, remembering the year I had been too busy with church and community duties to make my gingerbread train. The children had been very disappointed that year, but not this year. This year everything would be perfect.
A week later Debbie came home from school just as I was taking a fresh batch of gingerbread men from the oven.
“Too bad Suzie isn’t here,” she said, biting off one cookie foot. “Suzie loves our gingerbread men. She wasn’t in school today, though.”
Debbie set down her cookie, suddenly serious. “They said Suzie’s mama took too many pills, and she’s in the hospital. She might die.”
“Oh, Debbie, are you sure?” I asked in dismay.
Debbie nodded. “Sally Miller told me Sister Miller was at the hospital with Suzie’s mama all night,” she said. Sister Miller was our Relief Society president.
“I didn’t know Suzie was a member of the Church,” I said, surprised. “I’ve never seen her at meetings.”
“Suzie said they used to come all the time before her dad died,” Debbie said. “He got killed in a car accident this summer.”
“Poor Suzie!” I said. “Her poor mother! And I don’t even know her name.”
I called Sister Miller to see if I could be of any help in caring for Suzie during the crisis. I also asked for Suzie’s mother’s name. When she told me, it sounded vaguely familiar. I hung up the phone repeating the name when a devastating thought struck me. With a sinking feeling, I took the ward list from the desk drawer and turned some pages. Yes, there it was, circled in green ink — the name of Suzie’s mother, the name of Mark’s lonely lady whom I had never found time to help.
Suzie was with us that night when we received word that her mother had died.
I asked myself over and over: What if we had gone to visit her when Mark first wanted to? Would it have mattered that we were strangers? Would she have been a little less lonely, a little less desperate? I thought of the tired voice on the telephone, asking me to send Suzie home that first day we made gingerbread.
When Suzie went away a week later to live with her grandparents, we gave her our gingerbread train. The bright eyes that had sparkled as she helped make the train had lost some of their glow, but Suzie managed a little smile and a thank-you.
A gingerbread train. A very small gift. Too little. Too late. As Suzie took a halfhearted nibble from a breadstick, I saw more than a saddened little girl holding a cookie train. I saw myself with painful clarity: a woman so involved with the things of Christmas that I had lost touch with the very spirit of Christmas, without which there can never be a “perfect Christmas.” I would never again forget.
Every holiday season since then, the fragrance of gingerbread reminds me of Suzie . . . and I cry.
(Linda Rire Gundry, Jay A. Parry, Jack M. Lyon, Best-Loved Christmas Stories of the LDS People, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2003], p. 413-16.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I took my two little girls to the mall yesterday. Emily doesn't have school on Wednesday, and I thought we'd do a little window shopping. We looked at dresses, ate lunch, rode the carousel and Bekkah just sat in the stoller enjoying the sights and sounds. We decided to spend a few minutes in the play area-mostly because I needed to rest. I get so tired of laying around, so when I have a good day and I'm feeling half normal, I tend to over do it. I sat on one of the benches and watched my girls play with all the other children. A lady next to me asked me when I was due, and we got to talking. She asked if this was my third. I laughed (that was so long ago!) "No, it's my eighth" I replied. I heard an audible gasp from a few of the other ladies around me--guess they were listning in. She asked if we wanted a boy or a girl. I told her my one year old had a heart problem and that really we're just hoping for a healthy one. She said, "you know, having a sick baby makes that statement so true." She told me about her last baby and how she had lost her in childbirth a little over a year ago, also because of a heart problem. It turned out her baby had the same thing Bekkah does which is amazing, because I have yet to meet anyone who's ever even heard of it. Most doctors only read about it in thier textbooks. We chatted a little more, mostly about our babies. She was amazed at how well Bekkah looked. Most Ebstein's babies are frail and underdeveloped. My heart broke for her as I watched my pudgy little girl go down the slide over and over. I told her how sorry I was and that I knew a little of her hurt, as we had lost Bekkah's twin. "Maybe they're up there playing together" she said. Well her 3 year old had to go to the bathroom, so we said a quick goodby, and that was it. I sat and thought about Heavenly Father's plan for us. Why did I get my baby and this sweet lady didn't? Why will Bekkah grow up without her twin? Why do I get to have so many of Heavenly Father's children to raise, when I have a sister-in-law who doesn't get any? Though I don't know the reasons we are given the specific trials we are given, I do know they are there for us to learn and to grow. I know my trials make me a stronger person. I watch other people and their struggles and wouldn't trade in a million years. Heavenly Father knows us, and he knows what we can handle, and what will make our faith stronger. I don't know if this kind lady was LDS, but she reminded me of how grateful I am to know the gospel is true and of the great plan of happiness. And as I drove to my nice home, in my big car, with my beautiful children I gave a silent prayer of thanks to my Father in Heaven for all my many blessings.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Tres has finally finished his eagle project. He's been a life scout for over 4 years! He might have beat the Salt River Ward Record previously held by Michael Piercy. He chose to work with a park ranger up in Cave Creek to establish a nature trail. He built and stained the signs and posted them last Saturday. Thanks to Brother Green, Brother Brinkerhoff, Brother Gibson, Sister Thurlow, and all the young men who helped out on Saturday (and their parents who gave up their boys for the day-Cave Creek is a long ways away!) He spent all the week working on his write up and getting signatures. We dropped off his packet at Sister Thurlow's yesterday, exactly one week before his 18th birthday. Way to wait til the last minute Tres! But we're proud of him for sticking it out and getting it done. He's changed his project so many times, I'm glad he stuck with this one. He really enjoys building and nature, so I think it made it easier to get excited about (maybe tolerate is a better word, Tres would just as soon sit in his room with a good book as do anything) Anyway, from the "mom" point of view, I'm glad it's over and I get at least a few years break before the next project. Only two more projects to go--unless the new baby is a boy, cross your fingers for a girl!


Well it finally happened. I knew it was only a matter of time, but secretly hoped it would never come. Ammon and Emily both got a goldfish from the Halloween Carnival at church. We brought them home and put them in an old vase. The next morning I bought some fish food and the "fun" began. There was the constant argument of who's fish was who's (they were identical!), and who got to feed them. Luckily this only lasted about a week. They lost interest of course, and it was all up to mom to keep them alive. Now, I'm expecting, and still very nauseous, so the stench of the fish food, the foul looking water (that needed changing every two days), and those creepy little pulsating gills sent me running to the commode all too often. So a few days later my sweet husband informed me of fish number one's passing (thanks for flushing it dear!) Too my great surprise, and relief neither Emily or Ammon even realized it! Two days pass and so did fishy number 2. This time, Dan wasn't around, so I paid my 16 year old to dispose of the body and the bowl (a buck well spent!) Last night, a week later, we sat at the dinner table and Ammon remembered his fish! I hope that the care for my senior years doesn't fall on him! 15 minutes of tears and a sensitive lecture on the care of our pets pacified the children and off they went to play. I'm really glad they didn't want to have a fish funeral!

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Our lives are dedicated to the Lord, we live by this creed: Be clean Be grateful Be humble Be prayerful Be smart Be true Be positive Be involved Be still, We BE the Hustons!


(and sometimes not so much)