Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Written December 2018

Leif and Lena Baron Family
Christmas Update for 2018

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of our Dear Friends and Family!!  We hope that this letter finds you well and happy. Our family is doing well! We've officially lived in California for one year now. Three months in Bakersfield and nine months in Huntington Beach.

Leif is working in Compton at MLK Community Hospital as a permanent float pool RN and is no longer a travel nurse. He enjoys the hospital and his co-workers. And they Love him! As a float pool nurse he is assigned to departments all over the hospital including the ER and the ICU. His latest evaluation was filled with praise and gratitude from the administration. Can't beat that! He is also finishing up his final year of his Masters Degree as a Family Nurse Practitioner. It's amazing to think that there's a light at the end of that tunnel. Leif and I finally convinced ourselves, and the ward leadership, that we will truly be staying here. Leading them to give us each a calling in the ward. Leif is serving in the primary and I am in the primary presidency as second counselor.  Leif is an amazing nurse. But he is an even better father and husband. He brings a life and light to our home that is hard to beat.

Lena, well, I'm doing well! I am happy. And I have all that I could ask for. I have a testimony of my Savior and His gospel. I have an amazing husband. I have seriously, Seriously, amazing children. Especially my sweet baby who is currently my constant companion. Which I know was absolutely meant to be for this time in my life. I live in a beautiful part of the country in a place close to the ocean, sunshine, and all of the conveniences of life that a mother could ask for. I am making good friends along the way. And keeping friends old and new from around the world. My cup runneth over, really. On the harder days I have plenty of good things to keep me from falling too deep, for too long into the dark. We have finally narrowed down the names and diagnosis' to my ailments. Which has been a lifelong journey up to this point.  And we are only steps away from getting control of a lot of the struggles I face daily. I feel very very grateful and blessed!!

Jakob. Jakob. Honestly, Jakob is the linchpin of the family right now. His mood and influence determines much of how the rest of the house feels. Gratefully, he is most often cheerful, helpful, silly, and uplifting. Wherever Jakob is, there will be music. He revolves around listening to, exploring, and creating music. All different genres :)  Jakob has full blown ADD. So this means that he is a constant multitasker. For example, right now he's listening to his current music, while playing or watching his favorite computer game of War Thunder (currently as a Fighter Pilot), all while juggling his baby brother. Really,  that's a small scale example for him. Most of the time he's flipping through several different random YouTube things he's researching at the moment. All while playing and listening to music. He's pretty impressive. His parkour, writing, and acting skills are equally impressive. He is now a Teacher in the Priesthood and takes this very seriously. Jakob has a "presence" about him. He makes a big impact on whatever, whoever, and where ever he is. I love to watch him interact with the kids at church and school. He's so unique. Yet, they all admire him. It's pretty fascinating to watch. Jakob has his health challenges too. Which we're finally able to address. His rheumatologist is the chief rheumatologist of the children's hospital and is a great doctor. Jakob's up against some challenges with Juvenile Arthritis. But he'll tackle them like a champ. Of that I have no doubt.

Caleb, what would we do without Caleb!? Caleb "shakes things up a bit", every day. 😁 He is showing so much progress in school. He's in the 4th grade and we love to watch his writing and spelling improve as he puts his mind to it daily. Caleb has a kind and tender heart. He really wants everyone around him to be their best self. Caleb still Loves WWII and military history, especially anything about tanks and tank battles. Caleb still battles Autism and ADHD. But he has mastered many “life skills” by now that have moved him forward in many ways. We are so proud of him and love every ounce of him and all that he is.

JJ, or rather, “Jonathan”, as he has chosen to go by at school; is as wonderful and complex as his full given name of Jonathan Jefferson Lee Baron. 😲 He was baptized this summer and his tender spirit and desire to do good reflects the commitment to Christ he made. He is doing great in school. And has made a lot of friends. Which means that he's finally able to go a week or more without talking about how much he misses Alton (his favorite place to live). 😉 JJ Loves dinosaurs and hopes to be a paleontologist some day. JJ is a great brother. Especially with Joshua. He will read and play with him for hours. I also love to watch JJ and Caleb navigate their relationship. I often compare them to “two grumpy old men, sittin’ on a porch, tryin’ to outdo each other as they talk story.” 😂 They know that if I start calling them “Frank” and “Bob”, that it's time for them to simmer down and make some peace. 💓

Joshua. Our precious Little Caboose. I would be, and was, lost without him. I love all of my children! But each of them has had the season where they are “My Baby.” And this is his. Though, I have a feeling that his season might last just a little bit longer then the others did. ;) Joshua is what I call a “conflicted introvert”.  Much like his Papa, he can be the life of the party and yet be one who would rather hang back within his own thoughts and observations. He has a presence about him, much like Jakob. People are drawn to his warmth. Though his quick smile and strawberry blonde curls help him in this regard, i’m sure. He will jibber jabber to people, himself, the windows, and to his toys, all day long. Telling all of his favorite stories.
He LOVES HIS BROTHERS and will mimic their every word and action. Truthfully, the only real word that he says without hesitation and with full understanding is  “pray” .And he brings his two hands together in the sign of prayer. It shocked and tickled us when he surprised all of us one night at family prayer. Otherwise, there's a lot of testing of sounds and signs. But few true blue words. He says “mama”. But rarely with a purpose. Joshua is healthy for the most part. He's walking, eating, and doing all the cute things a 15 month old baby should. The only concern that still lingers from his rough and early birth is the possibility of some nerve or neurological damage with his right arm. It's very subtle. But he crawls on a fist and his arm gives out on him here and there. So we're meeting with a Pediatric Neurologist about that. He also has a problem with his right eye. It likes to wander outwards on occasion. So that will be fixed later. Once the muscles are grown more. So, all in all, for a baby who came out not breathing for a bit, we are So Very Grateful for the health and strength he is blessed with. And for the treasure that he has become within our family.

Thank you all for catching up with us! Please know that we Love you all and miss you and your company. Also, please remember that there are  ALWAYS Good Things To Come in this life! We must not give up! Please endure to the end, In Christ. For, we know with all of our hearts that He will carry us through all things.

With Love,
The L&L Baron Family

Written January 2022

I have been sick for my children's entire lives. Some of the time, like the present, I am really sick. The "barely get out of bed" kind of sick. When I'm deep in the pit, you better believe that I ponder the peace of Heaven often. But if you haven't walked my path before, you might think that it is reprieve from the illness that I long for. But the truth is, the peace I find my mind creeping towards is a release from the guilt and shame that weighs down my mother heart like a ball and chain trying to drag me to the depths of the ocean. The feeling of deep sadness at the things undone with my children because of my weaknesses. 

Do not feel pity for me. It is the last thing I need. My life is filled with so much goodness and love. And I'm way past expecting someone else to fix our problems.  I only share these very personal feelings simply to let someone who needs to know, that they are not alone in feeling such things. 

In my situation we may be surrounded by people and still feel desperately lonely. So what practical things do we do to keep ourselves from doing anything that would break our loved ones hearts?

Written November/December 2021

 months ago, I was finally able to foster a special needs "Road Dog" through the internationally known bulldog rescue Road Dogs and Rescues based in Southern California. Never did I think he would become our Forever Family Dog.

But, it didn't take long to realize that Stevie (A.K.A Zephyr Sage @roaddogsandrescue) is no ordinary Dog. He is a diaper dog. I usually change his diaper up to three times a day. He had been taught a routine, and he is incredibly patient during the whole process. He is a pleaser and is eager to learn and follow the rules. He has been amazing at his ability to be "nice" while wrestling around with Joshua. And one of the sweetest things is he has been a miracle for solving Caleb's sleep anxiety.

When we saw all that Stevie brought to the table, we had a family discussion. The question at hand was, "Do we REALLY want a Forever family dog? Up to this point, we have only had failed attempts at forever dogs and our Fosters. But Leif and I feel an absolute commitment together, never to have another failed attempt at a forever dog. So this was a very serious decision.

It was interesting to see and hear each family member process the question. Asking themselves whether or not they even enjoyed having dogs around. Or, were willing to consistently take care of the dog. If they wanted a dog forever, what kind of dog? A big dog? Little? Playful? Wise? A Diaper dog? Or one who requires a walk several times a day.

Leif: If the dog is beneficial for any of the kids' Special Needs then, Great! If not, then No.
Lena: If the dog is helpful, comforting, and easily taught, then Yes. And Definitely a Diaper dog.
Jakob: Is functionally allergic to dogs. So he prefers no dog. But if he had to have one he prefers a big smart dog.
Caleb: Wants to be sure that if we had a dog we could still foster. If he glad a dog he would want a playful dog. Stevie would be a great forever dog.
JJ: Doesn't NEED a dog. Because he just got a guinea pig. So he's paying attention to him.
Joshua: Would love a dog. Loves Stevie.
We also talked about some of the reasons that we each didn't like about dogs: Pottying requirements/insistent on stopping to go out. Barking. Not smart/or obedient. Hard to go on vacations. 

So the family concencess was an overall feeling of; if the stars align with our needs, we would enjoy having a Forever Family Dog. We ended 

Written in March/April 2022

Today I had a big cry and a beautiful walk down memory lane. The photos from my mission have been in storage for the last two decades. Leif and I finally pulled them out so we can share them with our boys and start good conversations about mission life and teaching the gospel. 

As I started going through my photos I was overwhelmed with sorrow and anger. My dearest mission companion, Fai' Ana Fotofili died from pneumonia five years ago. We served more then half of my mission together. After I married and started having babies I kind of lost my brain and let my contact with FaiAna become way too infrequent. When I found out that FaiAna passed I was absolutely Devestated! 

FaiAna was my trainer. She had the most incredible laugh. And an amazing sense of humor. 

Written in May 2022

I've learned some things about myself recently. First, I have built walls around myself in order to keep me from crying and/or feeling deep emotion. This means that for many, many, years I have not consistently listened to music that would invoke the Spirit to touch me, talk to me, and most likely cause tears to flow. In my previous lives ( not really😉) I mean in my earlier years, listening to music that brought me to the comfort of my Savior was an every day thing. Just a part of me. 

Why is this? And what have the consequences been? Well, I think the biggest reason is that I have not dared to evoke too much emotion. For fear that I would spiral and not be able to contain it. And Heaven knows I already battle spiraling out of control. Why encourage it? Right. No, I know that's a very unhealthy mindset. But survival mode causes us to do what we feel has to be done. Just to keep the boat afloat. I think the consequence has been a sense of loneliness. Living in a house full of males who all feel emotions in a completely different way then I do can feel isolating as it is. But to then never show them raw sad emotions?... it's just not a healthy way to live.

For many years we almost bragged about Leif's ability to compartmentalize. Split himself into pieces and be who he needed to be, where ever he was at the time. A.K.A. block out certain things in order to keep all of the boats afloat. And he did it very well.
Yeah, that type of coping strategy is a really bad idea that bites you back too.

Now that we are all living a more normal, stable lifestyle, we are being faced with problems that have been festering and only barely tended to. I think we have a new journey in front of us. I don't think it's going to be comfortable. I wonder how it will play out. 

*Have no fear as you read this. Our marriage is secure. That's not where this is leading.*

I'm talking about facing mountains in our lives that we haven't faced completely yet. Basically, there is a monumental mountain in our life together titled the year 2006 that has only grown into different mountains with different trails. That have led to other trails. 

For so many years we have been digging our way forward to get to where we are today with Leif's schooling and career. It has given us the perfect excuse to just buck up, take a pill, or just ignore it, and move for
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