Sunday, May 24, 2009


I got a new calling today: Enrichment counselor in the RS Presidency. Sound familiar, Meredith?

A little intimidating since we've had some great enrichment activities lately, and event planning isn't exactly my strong suit. Our ward still has monthly Enrichment mtgs--not just quarterly activities. I think that's great (or I did when I wasn't planning them).

At least I have a super-creative, way-fun Enrichment leader to work with (Am I buttering you up, Caroline? Is it working? We'll need to summon all of your creative energies. Are seances looked down upon during Enrichment planning meetings?)

A little-known image from an early Relief Society meeting
(back when activity nights were still called "Homemaking")

One other thing I'll inherit from the former counselor--her sewer church keys. Is bleach an effective disinfectant on metal? We're going to miss you, Rebecca!

To be truthful, I'm kind of looking forward to the new position. I complained a lot, but I really enjoyed working with our Primary presidency (complaining is half the fun). I kind of worked by myself as Compassionate Service leader, and I like having other people to bounce ideas off of (and to complain to).

So put you're thinking caps on--I'm going to need your best Enrichment ideas. Maybe I should sponsor a contest. The winner gets a whole loaf of Wonder Bread.

While I've been working on this post, here's what Tess has been working on. Sometimes I wonder if they give us these callings to foster our children's sense of independence (aka neglect by church calling).

Tess likes to drink from a straw.
I think she was thirsty.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Cream of the Crop

I was inspired by a late night get-away at the bookstore. From the Runner's World Complete Book of Beginning Running:

"Don't be embarrassed by your running. You might think you look slow and awkward. Slower than who? The two-thirds of all Americans who don't exercise at all? The 95 percent who couldn't run a mile without stopping? As a slow runner, you're still the cream of the crop."

So now I'm registered for my first 5K. Here goes nothing!

Fit Families 5K Running Festival

Sat, Jun 06, 2009 at 8:30 AM - Fairfax, VA

As the spotlight event for the City of Fairfax Trails Day Celebration, join us for our 3rd annual running festival for the entire family! 1-mile fun run FOR THE KIDS, and a 5K run/walk through Daniels Run trail system. The 5K is 1/2 trail and 1/2 street. Activities during and after the races to include moon bounce, face painting, vendors, food, music and more.

Friday, May 22, 2009


After a week of miserable colds, I thought we were all finally feeling better yesterday. We met my friend Caroline and her kids at the park for smoothies, sliding and swinging.

Tess played hard and when we came home, she plopped down on the couch and fell asleep. I thought she was just worn out from playing, but when she woke up she was running a fever. I gave her a bottle, some ibuprofen and put her to bed an hour early.

She woke up crying at 10:30 pm, and when I went in to check on her she was burning up. Her armpit temperature was 100 degrees and I couldn't give her more medicine for another 3 hours. She was flushed and listless and she just wanted to be held. Ry held her for a while, cooled her forehead with a damp washcloth, and then we brought her into our bed.

She rested quietly between us for about 15 minutes and then started making happy chattering noises. I put my arm around her and realized she was no longer radiating heat. "I don't think she's warm anymore," I said to Ry. He touched her forehead and said, "Yeah, she's not as hot. I gave her a blessing a few minutes ago."

I switched on my bedside lamp to see what she was chattering about, and she had a huge smile on her face and was repeatedly making some kind of sign--it was either the sign for "thank you" or she was blowing kisses (we've been trying to teach her both of these things with little success).

Then for some reason, Tess started acting totally goofy--kicking her legs up in the air and throwing them back down on the bed. Ryan started kicking with her and she was giggling like crazy. My two goofballs: laughing and kicking up a storm in the middle of the night.

When I took her back to her bed, she curled up and slept through the rest of the night.

Still not 100% today, but feeling better.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Swingin' Good Time

Yes, Miss Tess loves to be outside.

We got up early Saturday morning to take Tess to the playground. She had free reign of the place--apparently no other parents were anxious for an outing on a drizzly weekend morning.

Tess is a good little climber. She is confident, yet appropriately cautious. Whenever things get a little dicey, she's learned to turn around and back out of a situation.

It was funny to watch her crawl through this play tube--she'd get halfway in and then realize that it would be prudent to back herself out. It was quite entertaining to watch her try to turn around in the confines of that tight tube.

Using the same technique, Tess soon discovered that she could conquer the slide by herself if she went down backwards.

There's no doubt that Tess had a swingin' good time!

That night we went out to our favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner. Tess has learned how to "dip, dip, dip" her chip in the salsa. This time the salsa was a little warmer than usual.

OK, this video may not earn us an award as "Parents of the Year," but she really did like the salsa--we finally had to hide it from her. She kept wanting to "dip, dip, dip," even though her little tongue was on fire! You have to love the makeshift "bandit" bib!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Some Cheese With Your Spaghetti?

Tess is happiest when she's outside.

And she's off!

She's also pretty happy when she gets to eat spaghetti with Dad.
Tess is such a daddy's girl!

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Very Happy Mother's Day

It was a beautiful Mother's Day today. After days and days of rain, we had one of the most gorgeous spring days I've ever seen. Unfortunately, Tessie was feeling pretty lousy this morning. She had a hacking cough that kept waking her up all night and she's been running a slight fever. So I did what any good mom would do and abandoned her at home with dad and went to church by myself. Can't miss out on Mother's Day, after all!

Church was wonderful--I've come to realize and appreciate how much I love my ward family. The Primary kids sang, the Priesthood even sang, and we got roses AND chocolates! In Relief Society, we had what amounted to a Mother's Day party with lots of friends (Priesthood took over for Primary and YW so everyone could be there), refreshments, music and a fabulous lesson on the power of mothering.

After church, Wendy and Keith came over for an afternoon of gluttony: crab cakes, roasted carrots & asparagus. For dessert: chocolate mousse cake with cream & strawberries. I ate way too much and thoroughly enjoyed every bite! It was the first time we've used the vintage silverware that Wendy & I found in an antique store. It is the same pattern as the set Wendy's mother used when Wendy was growing up. It is a beautiful, delicate set and it brought the spirit of another sweet mother to the day.

We opened presents--Ryan gave me a beautiful sapphire bracelet. It was a total surprise! Wendy gave me a new read, Sonata for Miriam. Tess even gave me a small surprise--she took a couple wobbly steps that Keith is convinced constitute "walking." The rest of us aren't convinced. Wendy cashed in too--she has enough French novels to keep her busy for a while.

I'm so grateful for my mom--I couldn't ask for a better one! I rely on her example and the things she's taught me everyday as a mom to Tess.

Mom, I know how much you like songs, so we've been trying to get Tessie's songs on video for weeks now. We usually do these songs in the car while waiting for red lights. She gets very excited and sings and does the hand motions along with me. But she gets distracted by the camera when we try to film her. Here's the best version of the "Spider Song" we've been able to get on video:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Stop and Smell the Tulips

Well, the swelling in my eyes has started go down, and I only break into tears a few times a day instead of hourly now. We had a spinning class this morning that was a blast (thanks, Rebecca!) and helped relieve a lot of stress.

I know some of you are missing your Tessie pics, so I thought I'd better do a post of what's been going on around here.

To start, blueberries are my nemesis. They really are my arch-enemy--I don't know why they have it out for me (remember the Blueberry-Breastfeeding Fiasco of 2007?). It's only an issue because I LOVE blueberries. I eat them every day. They may be my favorite healthy food--but I'd have to think about that. I always keep my freezer stocked with a huge gallon-size bag of frozen blueberries. A couple days ago, I thought it was sealed (you know, yellow & blue make green), but it wasn't. Blueberries everywhere! What a mess.

Moving on to other events, Ry and I had a date last weekend. A real date! Nana & Papa watched Tess for us and we went to dinner at Bazin's and took in a comedy act in D.C. at the Warner Theater.

Ryan and I love to watch Brian Regan's stand-up specials on Comedy Central. He is a really funny comic and his act is totally clean--no profanity, nothing lewd--just really funny. For some reason he always seems to come on late at night when we're tired and kind of giddy anyway. By the end of the show, Ry is usually on the floor writhing in hysterics. Brian Regan is pretty funny, but watching Ryan double over in pain from laughing so hard is a riot!

So, when Ryan saw Brian Regan was coming to D.C., he snagged us two tickets and we had so much fun! We laughed our guts out, and I think I saw tears in Ryan's eyes towards the end.

Here's a snippet from one of Brian Regan's older acts. You can see more on YouTube, Comedy Central, and you can probably order his specials from Netflix. Funny stuff.

In more recent news, Tess is loving spring and hating the rain. We've had a lot of it lately and she just stands at the screen door hoping against hope to be let outside. She's figured out how to open our sliding screen door, so I have to make sure it's always locked. Yesterday between rain showers, Tess discovered a caterpillar.

I know this video looks horrific, but I think the caterpillar was actually OK. They are surprisingly resilient creatures. And yes, that is my lip gloss that she is using to try and decapitate the caterpillar.

Ryan has been teaching Tess how to sniff things. He started her on lotion, and now she likes to sniff all kind of things, including flowers. He's trying to teach her not to stick out her tongue when she sniffs--she likes to sniff and lick things at the same time. In this video she is sniffing tulips that my friend Natalie gave me. I have good friends.

And yes, that is my nail polish that she's banging on the table. For some reason, she loves to carry around cosmetics.

Too Much Coke

OK, copious amounts of Coke late at night may not have been a good idea. I haven't had caffeine for over 6 months now, and boy was I WIRED last night! I tried everything I could think of to fall asleep, but I didn't finally drift off until 4:00 am. I'm exhausted and still a little buzzed.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

For Shawnie

Another hard day--today was the funeral for Shawnie. Ryan was an usher, and he estimated over 300 people were there. I thought maybe I was all cried out by now, but I still bawled like a baby.

The funeral was beautiful. I don't know how anyone endures this type of tragedy without the gospel. My grief is acute because I will miss her friendship and her joy and enthusiasm for life. I grieve for her family: her pained husband and her 3 boys whom she loved so much. But in spite of my grief, Shawnie's passing is not truly a tragedy. Shawnie is with her sweet son Ian; she will watch and guide her sons Drake, Luke and Mason every step of the way; and her loving, joyful spirit has touched me and changed me forever.

My thoughts keep returning to how beautiful Shawnie was. When I last saw her at church on Sunday, I was struck by how beautiful she was that day, and I told her so. She had this glow--I was tempted to ask her what kind of diet she was on! She simply radiated life and happiness.

Swollen-eyed Miriam and my sweet friend Stephanie

I see this beauty more sharply in those around me. Maybe it's just my swollen eyes, but it's almost painful to see beauty so clearly. How dear and precious my friends are--how truly beautiful they each are.

My beautiful friends:
Kathleen James, Kelly Perkins, Mili Williams, Jenny Bringhurst, Carissa Protacio, Jenny DeLeon,
Carlene Scott, Christy Miller, LaRae Lind, Stephanie Demartin, Juanita Verma
Sarah Fort, Chelle Sorenson, Sharon Pomeroy, and Chery Gaush
came after the picture was taken.
I love the Coke dispensers in the background!

After a hard and tearful day, I sent an email inviting everyone to join me in a tribute to Shawnie. Shawnie used to deal with a hard day by stopping at McDonald's for an extra large Coke. I can't ever remember her showing up at a Presidency meeting without one in hand. So, I asked everyone to join me at McDonald's at 8:30 tonight to enjoy a Coke in Shawnie's honor. More than 15 people came, and what a blast we had together! We were there for hours, laughing as hard as we had cried earlier today.

It only would have been more fun if Shawnie was there, too.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Roshawne Romney "Shawnie" Tull

TULL ROSHAWNE ROMNEY TULL "Shawnie" Passed away from a brief illness on May 1, 2009. She was born on January 1, 1974 in Tokyo, Japan. She went to Orange Hunt Elementary, Washington Irving Intermediate and West Springfield H.S. She also attended Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho. Shawnie had a generous and compassionate heart. She was patient, resilient, loyal, and stalwart in her beliefs. She brought people together through her laughter and lighthearted demeanor. The title she loved most was Mother; she poured her heart and soul into her young sons. Her heart broke when her infant son Ian was taken from her prematurely. She is survived by her vibrant three boys Drake (9), Luke (6) and Mason (4) and her adoring husband Travis Downing Tull. She is also survived by her parents Barry and Alita Romney. A viewing will be held on Tuesday, May 5 from 7 to 9 p.m. at MOUNTCASTLE FUNERAL HOME, 4143 Dale Blvd, Dale City, VA. The funeral services will be held on Wednesday, May 6 at 10 a.m. at 3718 Old Bridge Rd, Woodbridge, VA. Internment will take place immediately following the service at National Memorial Park, 7482 Lee Highway, Falls Church, VA. In lieu of flowers please make a donation to the March of Dimes in Shawnie''s name. Shawnie you will forever be loved, missed and remembered.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Stephanie and Jolene "kidnapped" me for lunch today--we had a great time. I do have good friends.

The Biggest Gainer

Good thing this contest isn't over until Oct. 1!

Sunday, May 3, 2009


A hard day at church. I think my eyes are going to be permanently red and swollen. How can it possibly be real?

Saturday, May 2, 2009


I'm grateful for good friends. Today I realize I don't value them enough. Last night I lost a close friend to a sudden, unexplained illness--so sudden that she was actually healthy and at church this past Sunday.

Shawnie was in her mid-30's with 3 rambunctious boys that she worked so hard to get here on earth. She was Primary President when I was her counselor; she was my visiting teaching companion and a dear friend.

Miriam Higginbotham, Shawnie Tull, LaRae Lind

After processing the shock of it all, I am overcome with sadness at the loss of this friend. My patriarchal blessing blesses me to have friends wherever I go, people who will help, respect and love me. It says they will be a source of comfort, strength and support according to my desire, need and my faith in and love for them.

In keeping with these promises, I have been blessed with many good friends. Shawnie was definitely one of these friends for me. I was strengthened and my life was enriched because she was my friend. I hope she knows that. I will miss her.