On Thursday, I slowly made my way to the entrance of the local library for story time. I had Atley snuggled close to my chest in a ring sling and the diaper bag slung over my left shoulder as I held Lincoln's hand in my right hand, and the library's copies of Green Eggs and Ham, The Ant and Grasshopper and The Goblin and the Empty Chair, and in my left. As I tipped the books into the book return slot before making our way toward the glass entry doors, Lincoln took notice of the man walking toward us. The deep chuckle under his breath echoed slightly under the giant patio. His dark skin was marked by a smattering of even darker freckles across his face, and his tight curly hair had been braided - perhaps months before - into short dreads that showed hints of his age with their unruly white and gray highlights at the roots. His clothing included a dark trench coat, green khaki cargo pants, a black t-shirt, and ratty scarf and boots, all of which were very worn and and very dusty. He was missing several teeth. But, his black eyes sparkled at Lincoln's paying him attention. Sensing no fear in my heart for the man, I encouraged Lincoln to wave and, "Say hello!" in a cheery voice. He opened the glass door for me and remarked, "Your hands are full!" His comment drew my eyes to my hands. The one craddled my beautiful Atley who was wearing an over-sized flower on her sweet round head, and the other grasped the tiny but long fingers of my handsome Lincoln, who tugged with anticipation at escaping my grasp for the freedom of the story time room. "You are one proud mama!" I agreed and smiled up at the man, giving him the courtesy to look directly into his eyes - an experience of connection with other people I sensed homelessness had robbed from him - and said, "Thank you. They are and I am!"
After storytime, we all made our way over to my favorite fabric store, SAS. I needed to get some fabric for our ironing board. We washed and dried the old cover and it shrank up and no longer fit, so I was looking for something to cover our ironing board with. I found a cute quilted floral print with batting, and took it to the front to pay for it. The cashier was a woman whose face and voice I am familiar with as she is there almost every time I visit. She looked the same as she always does: glasses mid-nose, wavy grey and white-streaked hair in a multi-colored scrunchie very high up and slightly to the side of her head, and wearing one formerly-cream-but-now-grey knit glove on her right hand for handling money. Her clothes are loose, mis-matched and stripey, and her particular dialect of Brittish accent sounds more rural and friendly than uppity. Her style and voice were the same as always, but on that day she said something to me that she hadn't ever said before. She looked down at Lincoln in the stroller, up to Atley in my arms and then in to my eyes and said, "I'm sure you must hear this all the time. You're probably tired of hearin' it, but really - You are sooo lucky. Really, you are. This is just the best time of your life." I felt warmth begin to spread from my chest out to my limbs, the feeling I get when I know someone is speaking truth, and I smiled back at her with a small laugh and said, "You know I don't always remember that, but there are so many beautiful moments in motherhood. You are right." "You are, you are sooo very lucky." I floated out of the store feeling light and happy. Her words came back to sarcastically mock me later that night as I had a battle of wills with Lincoln as he made his way back and forth from hitting Atley to his time-out corner. The mockery of her words also made me laugh in light of the difficult evening that I knew would soon pass. Later I felt gratitude and the truth of her words fully come back as I looked down at the smooth, young, innocent face of my little sleepy boy, tucked in his bed for the night.
Late Saturday afternoon, Squire's dad, brother Trace and his girlfriend Deerae arrived at our home, and by 10pm, my family had arrived as well. Sunday morning came, and so too did the moment everyone had travelled so far to see - Atley's baby blessing. Just six weeks earlier, I gave birth and life to our beautiful baby girl, and on this Sabbath day, in the company of family who love her, her father pronounced a priesthood blessing on her head for her life. The blessing Squire gave Atley was perfect - it included all the things I hope for her most. When Squire blessed her with a "charitable heart," I smiled and remembered the thing I loved most about Lincoln's baby blessing - his being blessed with an "honest heart." As Squire returned to his seat at my right with Atley dressed in white in his arms, and with family to my left and filling the row behind me, my heart swelled with all the best emotions of life: love, gratitude, joy, and peace. In that moment I knew I was so much more than lucky - I was blessed! And I was not quite so proud, as I was deeply grateful and humbly in awe of God that my arms and heart could be so very full as they were in that moment.
Here are some photos from that particularly wonderful day:
|Hepworth Family - January 20, 2013 - Atley's blessing day|
|My family who came: Granny Shanks, Mom, Riley, Kenzie, her finace Nate, Me, Atley, Jeremy and his wife Heather and baby CJ, Dad, Squire and Lincoln.|
|3 generations of Hepworth Boys - and Atley. :)|
|Squire, Lincoln, Me, Atley, Deerae, Trace and Dad Hepworth|
|Me and Atley. Ok. So, I guess I am one proud mama. :)|
|Squire and Riley being goofballs.|
|Me and Squire's brother, Trace, being goofballs with Atley.|
|Kenzie, Riley, Me, and Heather - The "Elsmore" girls!|
|Cuddly on the couch - Kenzie and her fiance, Nate.|
|My brother Jeremy, his wife Heather, and their adorable little CJ!|
|Grandpa Hepworth with Atley.|
|Great Granny Shanks with Atley.|
|Grandpa Elsmore with Atley.|
|Mimi with Atley.|
|McKenzie and Nate's engagement picure for their wedding invites. ;) Haha!|
|Aunt Riley and Ately.|
|Aunt Kenzie playing with Lincoln.|
|Lincoln being a silly boy in his learning tower.|
|My parents with all three of their grandbabies.|
|Granny Shanks with three of her great-grandbabies. The kids were beyond done with picture taking by this point.|
|My handsome little son.|
|Unorthodox 4-generation photo. Haha! Love my mom. :)|
|Cute pic of Squire and Riley.|
|Riley and me.|
- On Saturday before everyone arrived, Squire built a small brick fire pit in our backyard, and we roasted marshmallows for Smores on Sunday night in our backyard.
- Atley was blessed by her dad, and my dad, Squire's dad, my brother Jeremy and my sister's fiance Nate stood in the circle with him. Brother Duron held the microphone.
- The dress Atley wore was actually supposed to be for either Riley's blessing or burial after she had open heart surgery as a baby. It turns out she didn't need it for a burial, and she was too small for it when her blessing day arrived, but my mom kept the dress all these years anyways. Pretty fun to see the picture of Aunt Riley holding Atley wearing that dress! :)
- Kenzie, Granny and Riley let me practice my hypnosis skills on them. It was my first time, and an enjoyable experience for us all, I believe!
- Half of the group went on a walk and accidentally dropped some of their change on the train tracks behind our house. . . ;)
- I finally made perfect, moist shredded pork. The secret ingredient? Root beer. :)
- Lincoln absolutely loved CJ. During sacrament meeting, he wanted to sit right by her the whole time. He took her snack cup and would feed himself one rice puff, then feed one to CJ. It was pretty adorable seeing them together.
- CJ and Atley are the same size. Except CJ is 8 months old, sits up, jumps up and down in a jumper, smiles, shrieks and laughs and Atley - well, she has a lot of fat rolls in her arms, legs, and is pretty much a vegetable in comparison. Hilarious, and quite shocking.