Monday, December 31, 2012

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I’m not sure for how many years we’ve been doing this little tradition of going to Aunt Jodi’s each year, but I say, let’s keep it going!  My aunt makes this DELICIOUS goulash soup every time.  In fact, it was because of that soup that we began insisting we come down each year to sample it.  This Christmas was, as to be expected, a bitter-sweet experience without my mom there. We managed to find her music pipes and played all of the Christmas songs that she would always lead us in.  Jodi has taken on the role of the Pipe Maestro, but we’ll all think of my mom whenever we play, and smile for leaving us this tradition.  We of course played out the night of Christ’s birth, with the very talented and well behaved Caleb, playing the role of the baby Jesus. 

This year we failed to send out our annual Christmas letter as life got extremely busy, crazy, and all other words having to do with unpredictable.  I did write some of it which I will just add to this blog if you want to read it.  I wish you all the best and thank you for your friendship!

December 2012

Dear Family, Friends, and those who happen to find this in the dead-letter office,

First things first, Merry Christmas to all! Do you ever feel like life is too unpredictable and suspenseful to objectively analyze? Ever have trouble verbally sharing those thoughts without seeming like a total nutcase? Here goes the “total nutcase” in an attempt at holiday merriment, in her usual “blah-blah-blah” style.

Facebook asks the question: “What’s on your mind?” Here are a few possible posts from this year:

“What’s on your mind?” - Besides chocolate, sugar cookies, and milk, I’d say I’ve joined a “Save the trees” movement. Our foes are two extremely pesky, yet adorably charming, 2 ½ year old girls. The Christmas tree is decorated from the top to a little less than halfway down. The lights are throughout but the sparkly and fragile things can only be seen by the girls with the assistance of binoculars..

“What’s on your mind?” - Well, Chris lost his job on June 28 when his company decided to surprise everyone by closing down their Provo office that day. No warning for anyone. Again, after much prayer, fasting, and lots of work on Chris’ part, he found a job in October that he enjoys a lot more. He is working at RC Willey’s corporate office doing IT/computer, blah, blah, blah stuff with a little bit of law blah-blah. Sorry for the ambiguity of language here but I can’t keep certain terminology in my mind if it has no meaning to me. If more computer terms had Latin or Greek roots, I might have a chance at memorizing them. But really: USB, LCD, VDI, MCSE, iOS, SuSE, SCCM, DMCA? No normal person can remember them. “Blah” is probably Latin, so that’s why I can remember it.

“What’s on your mind?” - Music. Chris had the privilege of singing in the choir during the Priesthood session of General Conference on October. He really enjoyed the experience, both practices and performance. It provided a much needed spiritual boost during his job search.

“What’s NOT on your mind?” - Not much. The boys are all in school, playing various sports, spending way too much time on the Wii, claiming boredom when forced to do something IRL (In Real Life – working on the computer terms), growing like crazy, and other things that I try not to remember for the sake of personal sanity. We love them so much and I hope they know that, even when we have to act like ornery dad or momsters to get them to do the right things. We’re becoming Calvin’s parents from the comic. We notice that phrases like, “You’ll thank me for this when you’re older,” or, “there are starving people in China,” or even “It builds character” spill out of our mouths when triggered. A “yuck”, “not fair”, or “ugh!” automatically release wisdom to counter utter disregard for proper behavior in the young.

“What’s on your mind right now?” - Napping toddlers, thus this letter. Gratitude and awe for all we have been blessed with. Love for family, friends, and the possible stranger reading this letter. Christ, his birth, and the great gift of the atonement. Christmas! Merry Christmas to you all and lots of love from our whole family!

This letter, as you see, was written before the death of my mom but all we said is still true!  I wish you all wonderful a New Year loaded with worthwhile goals, and a few worthless ones Smile.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Funeral and Graveside Service for my Mom

I’ve often thought it unfortunate that we can’t get together as a whole family more often.  It seems we have to wait for weddings and funerals for gatherings to happen at all.  Maybe that’s a sign that we should be finding no occasion at all other than to see whose gained or lost weight, how old or tall someone’s kids have gotten, or just to tell stories and share memories.

Thanks to a good friend, my kids, my nieces (notice the camera angle that starts down low and looks up into the face of an adult), and to a small degree, me, we are blessed with a plethora of pictures from the day of my mom’s funeral in California and the graveside service in St. George, Utah.  No pressure to look through them all.  Some of us, me included, can be quite entertained for hours looking through family photos.  I’m sure I even acquire a deer in the headlights look while staring at the light of the computer screen.  In fact, I feel my eyes drying out as I stare wide-eyed at these words which keep getting little red squigglies under them.

Oh, I miss my mom so much as do many more.  She was one of the greatest people in my life and, as is often the case, we don’t realize the treasure we have with us until she is gone.  Yes, I know I will see her again in the afterlife, but I am impatient to have her with me now.

“It isn't as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out. Don't worry. I say that to myself every morning. It all works out in the end. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. He will not forsake us. If we will put our trust in Him, if we will pray to Him, if we will live worthy of His blessings, He will hear our prayers.”
Gordon B. Hinckley

Thank you everyone who helped our family and who continue to help us while we mourn the loss of our mom, wife, daughter, sister, and friend.  Thank you seems so simple a word for the expression of gratitude each of us feel, but it is most seriously said and thought.  Thank you!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Another Sharpie, please, and getting high on Endorphins.

As many of you know, we’ve been going through some tough times with the passing of my mom.  Many of us are emotional, of course. Many of us are also sleep deprived.  I thought I’d like to share a little experience I had that helped with both of the above issues. 

While in St. George, where my mom was to be buried, I needed to go to Wal-Mart to buy a couple of sippy-cups to replace the ones I left in California. I took my sister Erin with me.  We shopped around some, and then parted when I needed to use the restroom.  Note: I was one of those greatly suffering from sleep deprivation.  I went into the stall and before taking care of business (you know, like writing memos on walls with a Sharpie), Chris called on my cell phone.  We talked about what I should write on the wall and if I should include any profanity and decided upon lyrics to “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” because that’s what we’ve been listening to for the past month and thought, “hey, why should we be the only ones suffering?” (yes I know that’s a run on sentence.)  I digress.  I finally ended my creative session with Chris and went on with my memos, finished them, and got ready to walk out of the stall.  It was at that moment, when I was about to slide the metal lock open,  that I heard another bathroom cell phone user. Only this user had a very deep voice, and seemed to be writing his memos in an area near the wall.  Yes, I was in the men’s room.  Instead of announcing myself, or running out with my head bent and purse protecting my tender eyeballs, I waited until he was finished.  I then waited quietly in my stall for 3 more men to write their memos or make important phone calls, until the coast was finally clear (about 10 minutes).  At that point I ran as fast as I could out that door, hoping that I would not meet anyone on their way in to do their business.  By the way, the men’s room in that particular store is low on paper products.

Once I made it out of the restroom, I found support on the arm of a rack of cloths and waited for Erin to meet up with me.  I could not hold it above 30 seconds before I started laughing uncontrollably with tears streaming down my face.  After days of the other kind of tears which we had all been shedding practically non-stop, these were a relief and so imagetherapeutic!  Once I explained my little experience to Erin, the laughter started all over again.  I was suddenly awake and feeling better.  Besides, thinking about it later, I know my mom would have laughed herself in need of a restroom if she had been there too.

A tidbit on the benefit of laughter: “Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), dopamine and growth hormone. It also increases the level of health-enhancing hormones like endorphins, and neurotransmitters. Laughter increases the number of antibody-producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of T cells. All this means a stronger immune system, as well as fewer physical effects of stress.”

Monday, December 17, 2012

My mom…

Everyone we love has a precious place and warm presence in our lives and when they are gone we are left a little cold and lost.  I try to keep busy in order to deal with life right now lest I become a constant watering pot leaving a trail of tissues and tears around the house; but it happens now and then when I hear or see something that reminds me of her. When I think of her it is of a great life, fun, joy, smiles, laughter, goodness, magic and adventures.  She’s suffered so much of her life from a disease that has caused a lot of great physical and emotional challenges, but I know of nobody who put up with it and hid her pain as she did.  She appeared to us as Wonder Woman and we all naturally thought, “sure she’ll get better, she always does and anyway we need her here,” we being somewhat selfish for her presence.  When she passed away it was 10 minutes before my dad, sister, and bro-in-law made it to the hospital.  My theory is that people as loved asimage5_0001 she is, have to go while we who are left in mortality are out of the room or we might not let them go.  I had a dream the night she died, finally sleeping when I feared I could not.  She was in my dream telling me a sort of list of things she had completed saying, “I’m done with that,” after each list was done.  It was almost like watching a many parted mini-series of her life.  Though I can’t remember any specific scenes, only that she had completed them with satisfaction.  I feel that she was telling me that her life was completed as she’d come to earth to accomplish certain tasks and had.  It was the most comforting night of sleep I’ve ever had and know it was a blessing from God to me.  There isn’t enough I can say about my love for my mom and how much I’ll miss her.  She has been a wonderful example to me of living a full life and making the best of every moment. 



Vicki Dawn Hartvigsen passed away on the morning of December 13, 2012 at the age of 59. She lived in Yucaipa, California with her loving husband Gary R. Hartvigsen. They married for time and eternity in the LDS Los Angeles Temple on October 7th, 1972. Vicki died from multiple complications stemming from her struggle with Rheumatoid arthritis. She passed away in the UCI Medical Center in Irvine, California. She is survived by her husband, and four children Rebecca Williams (Chris), Erin Hansen (Bill), Jared Hartvigsen (Rhiannon), and Dani Thomas (Michael); also, by her parents, Curtis and Billie Poet, and sister, Jodi Jensen (David). She loved music and worked as a music teacher for most of her life teaching piano lessons at home and music to 4th and 5th graders in the Fontana, California school district. She worked as a nurse in earlier years before returning to college to earn a double bachelors degree in Music and History from Cal Poly Pomona. She loved learning, traveling, serving in her church as organist and as a temple worker for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She was also an excellent gardener, razzleberry jam maker and a wonderful and greatly loved wife, mother, daughter, sister and grandmother. She was preceded in death by her dear granddaughter, Julia Hansen her younger brother, Scott Poet; also her beloved grandparents, Bill and Mayda Hertig. Perhaps her favorite of all things was spending time with her family, and especially her 15 grandchildren. A special thanks to Vicki’s aunts Heidi Hoyal and Shirley Hoffman who showed much compassion and love to her during this past challenging year. Vicki’s funeral will be held Wednesday December 19, 2013 at 11:00 am in the Yucaipa LDS Stake Center located at 12776 6th Street, Yucaipa, CA. Her grave side service will be December 20th at 1:00pm at the Tonaquint Cemetery located at 1777 South Dixie Drive, St. George, UT. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) Humanitarian aid fund, ward missionary fund, or perpetual education fund.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The eleventh month

“Let me ‘splain…there is to much…let me sum up.”

This was the first part of November with a lovely 8 inches of snow and a ton of fun for the Shirelings. 

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Cyber Girl and a pair of artistic monkeys.


The little ladies never get bored of climbing on tables, drawing on walls and tables, and jumping, pounding, and screaming on tables.  I can see why there are those who build high towers to be heard and observed.  If I had a tower, I’d climb it and bring a good book, a box of See’s chocolates, a soft pillow, and a medium diet coke (well, a large if I happened to include a bathroom near the upper floor of the tower in my design).


All cleaned up and ready for church.  I still have not mastered doing girl hair.  I used to be quite good at it but never practiced on moving targets or naturally curly hair with a tendrilled mind of its own.  (I am a great fan of making up new words).

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Dad, Caleb, Erin, and Dani

Thanksgiving!  This was the smallest and THE most calm Thanksgiving I have ever attended.  Erin and I flew to CA to visit with my dad and mom.  My mom has been in and out of the hospital since July and was in a very bad state when we came to visit.  She seems stable for now but is desperate to get out of the nursing home they put her in once she didn’t need to be in reverse isolation.  We worry about her but hope and pray for the best.  Erin and I stayed for 5 days and it was so relaxing that I think a few of my grey hairs slipped back into my scalp, no doubt with a plan to make their stressed out appearance next Thanksgiving.


I have to say that I have one of THE cutest nephews on the planet oh and he is so agreeable!  I have never known a better behaved baby on a flight or in a car or anywhere!  It’s amazing how comforting it is to have a sweet baby around when everything else is scary and worrisome.


Dani and Dad

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Dani and Caleb the Cute

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He is so expressive and his smiles were making everyone one who saw him go “goo.” 

Merry Christmas!

December 2018 (Cliff’s notes version:  Merry Christmas, we love you all, and have a happy New Year!) Dear Family and Friends (...