Saturday, July 16, 2016

One year...

It is hard for me to believe a year ago my home in Missouri had boxes stacked in every nook and crany. Every bedroom had a stack of boxes in the closets and along the walls just waiting to be loaded up and taken to their new home.  Box tape, black Sharpies and scissors were always on hand as well as a pile of empty moving boxes in every corner ready to be filled.

A year ago I was anxiously waiting for my missionary to return from Brazil. I could hardly wait to see the boy I sent away who had grown into a man over the past two years.  I wondered how his language would be, if he would be exhausted or homesick for Brazil.  He surprised us all.  After close to 24 hours of flying he took off like a caged animal and ran through the old neighborhood with his brother until well past midnight without so much as a nap.  He hit the ground running and never looked back.

A year ago I was preparing another soon to be missionary for his service in Cape Verde.  Planning a temple trip with him, buying mission clothes, having long talks and already missing him.  I remember well the night we all huddled in his bedroom as he packed his belongings into boxes.  Tossing old T-shirts at willing younger sibling who were more than happy to snap them up, clinging onto old memories. Soccer cleats, soccer socks, soccer uniforms, shin gurards, a few books, all packed away for another day as he prepared to leave his "life" behind, ready to begin a new one.

A year ago my leg was still swollen and painful from an unexpectedly traumatizing dog bite. All of the stress and anxiety of the past 6 months came pouring out as I cried my way home after being bitten. Kenzie was such a little hero, staying calm and giving me a hug, driving me home after being all stitched up. I still can't believe the emotional toll was so much greater than the physical toll was. Despite having stitches and steri-strips for close to three months before it completly healed, my mind sure was shaken after that crazy night.  Yep, I'm still afraid of big dogs and everytime I see a German Shephard I am still amazed at how big and powerful they are.  And, how blessed I was it was more of a nip than what could have happened.

A year ago Brandon went to Scout Camp and in a week he will attend camp again, this time in a different state with different boys in a different troop that have quickly become good friends.  He did not believe me a year ago when I told him he would find friends and be happy in California.  He has sailed through the past year with flying colors.  Playing on the flag football team, basketball team, making new friends, passing Pre-AP classes with stellar grades, Deacon's Quorum President.  I'd say he is doing phenomenal.

A year ago Baylie stood in our front room with her "besties" and cried like only teenage girls can do when faced with overwhelming sadness.  It broke my heart right in two.  That was a tough one. A few nights later I basked in the peaceful chatter and quiet giggles coming from my two daughters sitting at the top of the stairs enjoying one another's company.  I can still see them sitting in the darkness with only the light from an empty bedroom showing their big smiles.  It was a sweet salve for my soul and I felt the peace and reassurance that only family can bring when faced with major life changes.

We have been in California for just about a year now and I have to admit, it has been a slow transition for me.  While the kids jumped into school and James was well into his new practice, I spent a lot of time on the road to Utah and back.  Ten times in ten months to be exact.  That is a lot of driving.  A lot of disruption.  A lot of time split between what is now two halves of my family.  With three kids in Utah and two in California, it is hard to keep my heart stretched that thin.

Life has finally slowed down.  Jeremy has settled very well into college life.  Mikenzie has too after her brief stint here for a few months.  Alex is the veteran Utahn after having lived there almost four years now.  Kyle has been on his mission for almost a year.  He is still kicking and screaming but serving the best he knows how.

And now I find  myself a little off kilter as I am not quite an empty nester yet but no longer have the demands of a full family pulling at me.  I am lost at church.  A truly odd feeling for me.  I miss my old friends who knew my family well.  I miss having a friendly smile when I walk into the chapel. Quietly chatting over benches as the prelude music is playing in the background.  So many missionary mommas to compare letters home with.  So many parents of teenagers to share stories with. So many familiar smiles to greet. Demanding callings and assignments that drove me crazy at times and fulfilled me everytime. I miss all of it.

The house is quiet now.  My life is quiet. For the first time in my life I have no real direction. Before marriage, it was all about planning for marriage and getting married. And then it quickly became all about starting a family.  For the past 23 years I have had goals and plans and dates to remember. Soccer games, orchestra and band concerts, summer camps to earn money for, pack for, prepare for, recover from.  School supplies to purchase.  Sack lunches, school fees, parent teacher conferences, forgotten homework, piano lessons, Youth nights... all settled down now. Not so many demands anymore...

Borderline boredom!!

Where do I go from here?? And how do I ever get over missing my kiddos?  Missing their day to day lives that no longer revolve around me running in circles for them. Just a quick text here and there from those kids who consumed my entire life just a few short years ago.  A phone call if it is serious enough, like where to buy stamps and frustration in sharing a car with a sibling.

I lost myself in them and for them.  Some women may balk at the idea of loosing yourself for your children.  No regrets here.  All I ever wanted to be was a Mom.  I have been so blessed to be one.  But now, I am a semi-retired Momma.  Time for me to stretch and grow.  Time for a new direction in my life.  It is hard to imagine the next 40 years to be as fulfilling as the last 40 or so but I know they will be.  I just haven't had time to picture it yet.  But I know with my family and The Lord on our side, it will be awesome!!

Be Grateful!!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Our first Valentine's Day

This week was Valentine's Day.  I was not a good Valentine.  I was sick, in bed.  I ignored my poor husband and he took another girl out for a date on Valentine's.  It was B, they went to the drive thru to pick up some hamburgers and fries as I was too out of it to cook, much less get gussied up and go out for the night.  It was better than last year.  I was in Missouri and James was in California.  We are making progress.  Just another crazy Valentine's Day for the books.

James and I both laugh at our first Valentine's Day 26 years ago.  It was before his mission and we were in L.O.V.E.  We had planned a super fun day of skiing at Sundance.  We were both looking forward to our all day date when we said good night.  February 14th arrived with quite a bit of snow.  I can't remember how much, but it was  a pretty good amount.  I was 18 at the time and still living at home, as was James.  We had quite the predicament.  My mom, the infamous worrier of our family, the over protective parent, told me she really did not want me to go up into the scary canyon which was surely slick, icy and deathly dangerous.  My boyfriend, who had been given a ton of independence growing up thought she was crazy.  He couldn't believe we would have to miss out on a perfect day for skiing, loaded with fresh powder.  I have to tell you, my mom never said " I do not want you to go."  She knew I was a guilt ridden, obedient enough kid, even at 18, that I would not want to disappoint or upset her.  She didn't have to put her foot down, she just had to mention her concerns and I usually fell into line.

Thus, the stars were aligned for the very first disagreement in our young love.  Should I stay home where it was safe to keep my Mom happy or run free with the love of my life and have an adventure?? I just couldn't cross my Mom.  It was gut renching for me, but I was still a young girl and I just couldn't cause any strife for my Mom who I loved so very much.

So, it was settled.  We postpned our Valentine's Day date.  James decided to head on over to  my house where we would be safe and warm and no harm could possibly come to us.  He told me he was on his way.  So, I got all prettied up and waited... and waited... and waited.  I should remind you, this was years ago, before cell phones were even a thought in our minds.  Communication was limited to whenever you were in a building with a "land line"  Remember those??

So, I called his house, no answer.  I called the family buisness, no answer.  Hmmmm.  Where could he be??  I waited some more, and waited.  I was finally frustrated.  No boy was going to treat me like this!  I wasn't going to be stood up!!  So, I proceeded to take my anger out on the snow.  I shoveld our entire drive way, still, no James.  I waited some more and then drove around the block to shovel my grandma's driveway.  I was about half way done when Romeo decided to finally show up.  Boy was I mad.  He explained he had to shovel his family's drive way, then run to the store for his mom who would never ever drive in the snow.  Then he stopped by the family buisness to check on his dad and had to help shovel the entire parking lot.  He tried to call but I didn't answer ( probably because I was blowing off some steam shoveling away my anger ).  

This was our first argument.  Looking back it seems almost silly.  With the technology we have today we could have checked the weather, the travel conditions, he could have texted or called me to let me know he would be late.  It is amazing how communication has improved so greatly in the past 26 years.  Not only via cell phones and social media, but as we have grown together in marriage.  

Ironically, we were both trying to accomplish the same thing. He was disappointed I was trying to keep my Mom happy and cancelled our date.  I was upset because he was trying to keep his parents happy by running errands and shoveling the driveways. Good thing it was young love, we got over it pretty quickly.  I honestly don't remember much more of the day.    Now we just laugh at the immature reactions we both had, as well as our good intentions.  

We actually went skiing a few days later and had a wonderful time.  The first and last time we skiied together sadly.  Hopefully we can fix that soon now that we are closer to Utah and will have better opportunites come our way.  

I will admit, sadly, that was just the first of many disagreements, arguments, flat out fights if I am to be honest, along the way.  The hurt feelings and anger have always melted away as quickly as the snow on that Valentine's Day in 1990.  I am so grateful for our wonderful years together, for our strong marriage that has taken more than it's fair share of hits.  I am thankful for the gospel and the way it has centered us on the really important things in life. 

Be grateful!! 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

12 months and 6 months

This morning as I watched Brandon play in a basketball tournament I realized our family has been in our new city for 6 months this week.  James moved out here 12 months ago this week.  Time sure does fly by!

Farmer's Market

Sequoia National Forest
I reflected on all that we have overcome, accomplished and the great things that are ahead of us.  Six months ago we waved goodbye to what we thought would be our family home, forever.  We said goodbye to wonderful friends who had become like family to us.  I listened to Baylie crying in our front room with her friends as they said goodbye.  I remembered watching as Brandon bravely walked out from his best friends house when we picked him up as one of our final stops on our way out of town. We looked onward to a home we had never seen, in a city we had never visited and wondered who would become our new friends.

We arrived two days before school started.  I remember well, walking through the strange new high school with Baylie.  It was so different than the high school all of my kids except for Brandon had attended.  No longer was her high school one solid, sprawling brick building.  It is now made up of multiple buildings, similar to a college campus. No hallways, just many walkways and courtyards to walk from one to class to another.  It was a refreshing change in some ways.  I remember looking at the aged oak walls in the library, comparing them to the high tech, bright and very open library at the old high school.

Baylie didn't know a soul.  She and I were completely lost and had to ask for directions many times. Two days later, I dropped her off at the front of the school and she braved the new school with it's non-existent hallways and not a friend in sight.  My heart was broken for her and yet it swelled with pride as I watched my courageous little girl walk into her new life.

Cutest Defense Attorney ever!!!

Fast forward six months.  She tried out for volleyball but didn't make the team ( we weren't too surprised ).  She made a new friend on the first day named Jill.  A vocal, liberal feminist, a complete opposite of Baylie, but a kind friend who helped her navigate her way through the first day and weeks of her surroundings.

Baylie joined Mock Trial which kept her engrossed in something other than being homesick and filled with tears every day.  She struggled with "settling" for a less than challenging orchestra class and a less than challenging French class.  Luckily she tried out for and made the TKMEA Honors Orchestra and enjoyed every minute of it.  She has blossomed along the way and made friends in every class along with new friends in our ward quickly.  She learned to enjoy lunch hour as she was only two blocks away from James' office, which many times would have lunch catered and she was a benefactor of such lunches.

This Thursday, I was just as proud of her when she again walked confidently with her head up.  This time into a county courtroom in her professional suit with a tag with the words "Defense Attorney". She talked and laughed with her teammates and friends.  She stood and presented her opening argument, cross examined witnesses and objected to the prosecution.  I was one proud Momma! She has grown and developed in different ways than we had planned and she has blossomed into a wonderful young woman. And, despite all of the changes, she still maintains as straight A GPA.

Brandon walked onto his new campus just a few minutes after Baylie did.  He hadn't even had a chance to find his way around campus.  We had just stopped by the office long enough to register him.  His campus is just as open and broken up as Baylie's.  It is shocking to see the lack of lock down we were so accustomed to in Liberty.  Not a single door to be buzzed into.  They are all open at all times.  He had no fear, as usual.  He was full of confidence.  He had a day or two of complete loneliness, until one day he wore one of his signature BYU shirts and a bunch of LDS boys invited him to sit with them.  He made instant friends and hasn't looked back.  He played on the flag football and basketball teams. He is the proud ring leader of the irreverent Deacons quorum and has excelled in scouting.  He is still full of confidence and is doing so well in school.

Kyle left for his mission a few short weeks after we settled into our new home.  He loved the MTC and thrived at what I call mission day camp.  On October 14, 2015 he flew for over 24 hours from Salt Lake to Atlanta to London to Portugal to Cape Verde.  He called me on every single leg to talk. Not a momma's boy at all!! He struggled greatly the following months, bursting into tears when we talked to him on Christmas.  He was so tired, had lost weight, was SO very homesick, struggling with the languages and felt so overwhelmed.  He now speaks Portuguese and Creole fluently, is confident and progressing greatly.  He no longer complains in Every.Single.E-mail.  That may have to do with me telling to man up or come home, but I also think he has finally settled.

Good ole Jeremy has had his share of ups and downs since coming home just a few days before our big move.  From being betrayed by a once beloved friend, to chronic stomach and GI troubles as he adjusted to American food again, finding himself lonely beyond belief while surrounded by thousands of college students.  He has become very self sufficient, confident for the most part.  He is still struggling as most young adults his age do in finding himself and where he would like to be in a few years.  And the ever present stress of dating and finding "the one".

Mikenzie did great as she stayed in Missiouri to finish her last semester of high school.   A few teary phone calls here and there, but she grew and made me so very proud.  She registered her car 100% on her own, from inspection to repairs to full registration.  She did great! And we are so proud of her growth.  She now worries every day whether or not she will be admitted into BYU, where she will be if she isn't accepted. And if her roommates will be weird or not?? And where will she work?? And will she take the right classes?? She will be blessed with the right path as she has exhibits her faith in her Heavenly Father and His plan for her.

And Alex?  Well, he is still our Alex.  Going against the grain whenever possible, questioning every rule and regulation, challenging life to a battle that will leave him with a few scars and hard knocks, hopefully a better person on the other side of each hard fought battle against those solid brick walls he is convinced he can knock down.  He is still ungrounded and searching.  The greatest growth has come from James and I as we struggle to accept and love a child that we loving nicknamed "our porcupine".  He would love a big hug if his sharp quills just didn't get in the way so easily.  We have learned that Alex will always, no matter what the consequence,  zag when everyone else is zigging. It's just who he has become.  I struggle to say it is in his nature because this momma is happier remembering the little boy who was a lot more joyful and had a more pleasant nature/personality.  It seems so long ago and almost impossible to remember "my Alex"  The boy who didn't constantly push against the barbed wire that was placed there for our safety. The Alex that had a soft heart and loved his family.  The Alex that could laugh easily and was filled with curiosity and had a testimony of the gospel.  It has taken years, but James and have grown and are learning to leave that Alex behind.  My heart breaks for him as he watches his high school friends preparing to graduate from college in a few months and he struggles with attending one 3 credit hour class.  He cannot conform, regardless of the price.  I pray daily he will be surrounded by light and peace.  Perhaps one day when I write about my son,  I will write with happiness and not heartbreak.  ( The guilt never leaves me.  The guilt of knowing I somehow failed my child and my Father in Heaven.  I doubt it ever will ).

My all time favorite picture of " My Alex "

 And so we all have grown and become better people through our challenges, opportunities and lessons learned.  We still have some growing to do, friends to make and accomplishments that we are yet to see come our way.  We feel so blessed and grateful for all of the things that have come our way thus far. And most of all, we have come to depend on and love each other so much over the past six months.  That is what really counts.

Be Grateful!!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

An $11.95 hug and stale muffins

Last night I made yet another trip to Costco.  Our Costco is CrAzY busy, all. of. the. time.  No matter what line I end up in, it seems to be the slowest one.  It never fails.  Some lady decides to pay for her huge double basket load of goods with all twenty dollar bills.  Causing the cashier to call a manager to double count the money and then count the drawer down so it is not loaded with too many bills.  Or, I get behind the person who is convinced they were overcharged by .50 cents and some poor guy has to run clear to the very back of the store to double check the price.  Guess what?  Costco is usually correct in the pricing 99.9997% of the time.

So, as I found myself torn between lines, I finally settled on the line that seemed to be the shortest. Before I knew it, another line opened up and two people beat me to the front of the new line, so I decided to stick it out in my current line.  I will admit I kept eying the other line, in a mental race to see who would come out ahead in the end. I soon found out fate may have possibly played a role in my choosing yet again, the very longest, slowest line possible.  I watched as the young couple ahead of me in line carefully unloaded their basket and were adding the total between themselves.  Their total was $111.95.  They had a $100 gift card.  They both seemed to panic and were looking at their purchase carefully.  The cashier said " Your total is only $11.95.  I took the $100 from the gift card.  So, you only need to pay $11.95 "  Less than $12.00 was owed.  The father pulled out his wallet and held a few crumpled dollar bills in his hands.  He looked at his wife who looked back at him.  They didn't have the $11.95.

Normally, I would not have even been tuned into the transaction ahead of me.  I usually have a couple of kids begging for ice cream and churros.  Or another industrial sized candy something or other.  But, I was all alone.  Able to think clearly and be aware of my surroundings.  And usually, my shy and reserved self would ignore the urge to get involved because who wants to make a scene and be embarrassed?  Not me!

As I watched the young couple struggle to come up with enough cash while their son was happily bouncing up and down in the cart oblivious to the worries only adults can comprehend, I offered to pay the $11.95.  Everyone literally froze.  The cashier said " You'll what??"  I said " I'll cover it.  It's eleven bucks, right?  I'll cover it."  I quickly slid my debit card through the reader and paid.  The couple quietly thanked and scurried on their way.  I am sure they were partially grateful and mostly embarrassed they didn't have a measly $12 to pay for groceries.

I quickly put my items on the conveyor belt and smiled at the cashier.  His response was surprising and amazing.  " Just when I had lost hope, man.  You gave me chills. Unbelievable"  The lady helping him load groceries into my cart said " I can't believe you just did that for a total stranger. That was so kind of you"  Seriously people, it was twelve bucks. I honestly did not feel overly generous. I was almost embarrassed over the attention they were giving me.  I just smiled and said " Hey, we've all been there haven't we? "  At least I have, many times.  Down to the last penny, wondering how we were going to make it a couple of more days before the much anticipated pay check arrives.

Before I could leave, the cashier shook my hand warmly and his assistant gave me a huge hug.  It was a great feeling.  Totally worth $11.95

I admit, I was pretty eager to lend a hand last night.  Not because of my glowing altruistic values or my enormous bank account balance. I do enjoy serving others whenever I can and generally offer help to those I know.  A stranger? Not quite as often.  My willingness came because of another encounter I had at Costco just a few week prior that left a stinging reminder of how a simple gesture can make or break us.  Show who we really are.

Because of the gorgeous weather that California has to offer, we have our fair share of homeless people begging on what seems like every corner.  They are everywhere.  In the local park, on benches when you are walking downtown to go out for a nice dinner date.  We see them on garbage day as they dig out water bottles and other recyclables from our recycling bins.  It is a constant reminder of how truly blessed we are.  In fact, whenever I am having a bad day I often joke to myself " No matter how bad life gets for me, at least I am not the lady riding a bike with a Target basket in tow full of garbage bags, tin cans and plastic bottles."

A few weeks ago I took B with me to Costco.  She begged for her favorite giant Double Chocolate Muffins.  I caved and let her grab two packages ( why do we have to buy two packages?? One is surely enough...).  After we had checked out and before we were even in the car, she had already started nibbling at her huge muffin.  She can do that you know.  She is 15, 5'2 on a good day and maybe 110 pounds soaking wet.  As we drove out of the parking lot and waited to turn right onto the main street, there was the fixture.  A homeless man holding a cardboard sign.  I can still picture him from the corner of my eye with B in the foreground eating a huge muffin.  I thought to myself, I should have her roll down the window and offer him a muffin.  We probably won't eat them all anyway.

Being the protective Momma Bear that I am, I quickly thought about her safety and the awkwardness of the whole situation and opted to keep on driving.  I felt guilty all the way home.  I felt guilty all week as we munched on our heavenly Costco muffins.  And I really felt guilty when I finally tossed the remaining three stale muffins into the garbage can a week later.  I have reflected on that choice for weeks now.  Why was I afraid of a little old man sitting on a corner? He would have not harmed us, at worse he may have even declined our offer.

So, while I was rounding the last corner of my 3 mile run a few days ago, I was still reflecting on  ( or being haunted by )  my lack of service and kindness towards someone who had less than I did.  Much less.  I recommitted myself to help others whenever I was in the position to do so.  I opened my heart and my ears to the whisperings of the Spirit and promised that if prompted, I would act.  I really hadn't thought much more about it until last night.  I didn't even have a "prompting" or really realize that I had offered to pay at first but I am so grateful I stepped up and paid $11.95 for a huge hug and a kind handshake.  

As I reflected on my two experiences I was grateful I could be one of many, many hands of heaven on earth. I look forward to the day when service and charity towards those who are a strangers to us as well as our friends is no longer the exception but the rule.  I hope people don't feel like they have " given up " on the good that is out there,.  It really does still exist, in each one of us.  So, go out and do some good people!!

And.... Be Grateful!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Feeling Vexed

Alright, alright alright... 2016 is here!!  Yesterday we celebrated Jeremy's 21st birthday! The big two-one.  I can't believe this young man of mine is a full fledged adult.  He's a returned missionary, a BYU student, he works most days and seems to be humming along.  Last but not least there is a girl now included in his inner circle.  That has me feeling "vexed ".  21... RM... BYU... girlfriend... I don't know if any of us are really ready for  this, or for the next 5-10 years for that matter.

In five short years my kids will be 27, 26, 24, 22, 20 and 18!  My youngest will most likely be preparing to serve a mission anywhere in the world.  I could almost have 5 marriages coming my way, grandkids, college graduations... where oh where did the time go??

I am so not ready for this... I am not one bit ready.  It almost reminds me of many years ago when that first labor pain when down my back and through my legs and I would wonder " Am I really ready for THIS?? "  There is no turning back, just moving forward at a speed I wasn't always too comfortable with ( Mikenzie... my 11 days late, four hour labor, princess )

Now there are a couple of cute girls in the picture, things have shifted.  I am nervous. Not just for one of my boys, but two.  So many what if's pop into my head and so much unsolicted advice that I am holding back.  Why?

Not because I don't trust my boys, I do ( mostly).  They just seem SO young.  Not nearly as mature as my sweet husband I were when we married at 21.  Looking back, I can understand why my parents were in sheer panic when we happily announced we would be getting married 6 short weeks after my husband returned from his mission.  I realize now that the $500 hard earned dollars I had saved in my account to begin our life together was just a drop in the bucket.  No wonder my Grandma, bless her heart, basically offfered me a bribe, begging me NOT to get married so quickly.  But we did because all it takes is LOVE baby!! 

Until life takes a lot more than love.  Rent and groceries and insurance and car payments and so many more things that a irratinal young couple just can't imagine.  Babies and diapers and midnight feeding/crying/walking/pacing/singing...repeat.   Exhaustion.  Sheer exhaustion.  

So many times my husband of 23 years and I look back and shake our heads.  No... we should not have had a baby 10 months after we were married, and another one 15 months later... and another one 18 months later, one week before medical school started.  I remember being baffled when my midwife literally scolded me at my first appointment when I was expecting baby number three.  I am still baffled at her lack of professionalism, but I can see her point a little more clearly now.  

And the student loans... will we EVER pay those off? 

Do you see why I am so nervous?? Life is hard, it's really, really hard.  Full of trials and  misadventures and unpleasant surprises all along the way.  


When I stop and look at the view, I realize, those trials made me who I am and us who we are.  Those years of sheer exhaustion gave me SIX wonderful children, a stronger marriage ( a few scrapes and bumps along the way but nothing we can buff out ).  A life full of adventure.  Life that took me places I could not have ever imagined 23 years ago.  I thought we would raise our little family in Springville.  Right next to all of our family with love and support all around.  I never considered leaving Utah, ever.  


I have lived, Sister, I have lived in so many exciting places across the country.  Adventures? I have a book full of them! Life lessons learned the really hard way?  A book full of those too. After all, isn't that the whole purpose of life?  To learn, to fall down, to get back up, to fail, to succed and then fail again? 

That 21 year old bride has a lot of experience under her belt.  And the belt is a little/lot tighter now than when I was 21.  I guess the only advice I would give myself at this point is truly what President Hinckley said over and over " It all works out in the end ".  It truly does.  There are very few mistakes in this world that cannot be undone, repaired or recovered from.  Some of us take the really long, bumpy, out of the way route, but we all seem to end up where we are supposed to be in the end. 


In the end, all we truly need is love.  That is what gets us through those bumpy rides, exhausting nights of baby walking, hair pulling teenage years, climbing the career ladder as fast as we can.  Love is the most important ingredient, the one thing that will pull you through. I wouldn't trade one child or one moment, not matter how difficult because the culmination has made me who I am today.  And, I kind of like the older, wiser and slightly worn out me. I didn't turn out half bad if I do say so myself.


If they truly love each other, go for it! Enjoy it! Be blessed by it! And prepare for all that life has to offer!!

Be Grateful!! 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

I turned him in...

Somewhere between Jeremy coming home on July 21st and September 2nd  I seemed to have sent another missionary off.  I turned Kyle over to The Lord this week.  It was kind of an unusual way to send a missionary off, but he is in the MTC and hasn't called for a ride home, so I guess we are good to go.

Due to all of our moving and craziness, we did not have all of Kyle's missionary items purchased. I told him I could focus on him once we moved to California and had Baylie and Brandon settled into school.  He was bored out of his freakin' mind hanging out with his Momma all day every day for two weeks.  We decided we would head up to Provo about a week early so we could run all of the errands and he could let loose some of that pent up energy.

Our original plan was to leave early on Wednesday morning and have him set apart the following week before he entered the MTC in Provo.  We all thought it was a great plan... except for our Stake President.  He felt James should be present when Kyle was set apart as a missionary and highly encouraged us to have Kyle set apart before we left for Utah.  That didn't go over too well with Kyle but he complied.

So, Thursday August 27th he was set apart as a missionary.  James, Brandon, Baylie and I were there and it was a wonderful time as a family.  He was given a great blessing.  We went to Olive Garden afterwards as our last "family" meal. 

The next morning Kyle and I left.  Boy did he drag his feet.  He realized how much he was going to miss the small family he had left in CA, as well his dog Tucker.  He made Tucker one last fried egg with cheese, gave the old boy a big hug and off we went.  Kyle and I had a great time driving to Utah together.  It was a wonderful experience.  I am so glad we had that time together.  We tried really hard to keep all of the mission rules, but after about 30 minutes of listening to hymns we were both ready to fall asleep.  We gave into more worldly music to keep us going for the 11 hour drive.

We arrived in Provo around 8:00 p.m. and he was off and running.  It was very difficult to insist he keep all of the mission rules.  Jeremy was his companion for the most part.  They took off to spend time with cousins immediately.  The next day was the same thing.  They played tennis, went running, anything he could do to stay in shorts and a T-shirt as long as he could.  They played and played until Sunday.

On Sunday Kyle and Jeremy went to a student ward and I went to church with my mom.  Later the boys went to say goodbye to some of their favorite people in Ogden.  Our good friends have an elderly aunt with Down's Syndrome.  Kyle has a huge soft spot for her and had to take her one last Diet Coke and a bag of Cheetos before he left on his mission.  Sunday was a much easier day to keep the mission rules.

On Monday Kyle, my Dad and I ran a bunch of errands.  We picked out a speaker, an MP3 player, a super big memory SD card.  My dad had enough shopping for one day so we took him home and went back out.  We stopped by Missionary Mall on a fluke to compare them to Mr. Mac.  As we were browsing we were introduced to a recently returned missionary from Cape Verde mission!  Kyle was so excited to finally meet someone in person who actually served in this tiny mission.  He was a wealth of knowledge and gave us a ton of information.  Kyle was more excited the more they talked.  It was fun to see the anticipation in his eyes of what lies ahead.

We then grabbed a quick lunch together at Rumbi Grill and went home.  He and Jeremy were back at the brotherly companion thing.  Back up to the cousins they went.  Kyle decided to stay the night at his cousin's house.  About 2:30 in the morning, I got the call.  He was toooo hot.... ugh!!  Boy was I mad at this kid.  Seriously?? I thought we did this when you were 7 or 8, not 19.  I took a deep breath and reminded myself he was leaving in two short days and I didn't want to fight with him.  So, there I was at almost 3:00 in the morning driving through Cougar town with my glasses and nightgown on to pick him up.  We didn't talk much on the ride home.  We both knew we were too exhausted to say a word to each other lest in end up in a huge argument.

Tuesday we had the great idea of hiking Y mountain as a farewell to Kyle.  I was all in, despite the lack of sleep the night before.  Did I mention Jeremy called at 7:45 asking me to bring him his shoes that were left at my parents house?  Yeah... not a lot of sleep going on for the mom, even at 19 and 21.

Earlier this summer we all hiked to Timpanogos Cave and I was honestly the first one to the top.  I had no problem going up or down the mountain.  I was sure I could easily tackle the mountain.  We picked Jeremy up and off we went.  When we arrived, I thought all of the water  bottles were gone. So off we went.  Yeah... easy... right.  About half way up the first switch back I realized I had bitten of way more than I could chew!  I kept up for a bit, but was soon winded.  We had to stop and start repeatedly.  Jeremy and Kyle were both very patient.  Kyle even suggested I wasn't acclimated yet and that was causing my short breath.  No, I reminded them I was old and fat.  Jeremy tried to comfort me by sang " You aren't old Mom ".  Thanks son!

By the 6th switch back I was becoming nauseated, sweaty and shaky.  I told the boys to go on ahead. They really didn't want to but I insisted.  They both left and I sat on a rock, ready to cry.  Ready to give up and head back down the mountain.  As I sat there I realized I couldn't let that darn mountain get the best of me.  My mom would never quit!  I got up off of that rock and started up the trail.  Even if I could only take 20 steps between breaks, I was going to do it!  20 minutes later I was being cheered on by my boys who were sitting on top of the Y.  I did it!  

( All of the red spots show the many times I stopped and started. Sadly my phone died just as I got to the top of the trail )

As I was huffing and puffing up the mountain, I thought about the sweet investigators they will/have one day.  They had so much patience for me as I struggled to hike that mountain.  They both waited and encouraged me.  Just as an investigator needs the loving and patient guidance of missionaries as they learn about the gospel.  I am sure there are many converts who are ready to quit but the missionaries encourage and support them along the way. And when I finally made the decision I wasn't going to quit, there were those two great young men, waiting for me to celebrate my accomplishments.  It was actually a very spiritual experience for me as I watched my two boys show me the compassion they have/will have towards the people they teach and fellowship into the church.

We walked back down the trail and couldn't wait to get a drink from the water fountain at the bottom.  When we reached the fountain, we discovered you would literally have to put your mouth over it to get water.  Gross!  We went back to the car and to our delight found three unopened not so very warm bottles of water.  One for each of us!  We all chugged the water down.  We then went to J-Dawgs and feasted on some great hot dogs and chips with cool ice water to wash it all down.

Later that night my dad cooked us all a steak dinner and then we had a small ice cream dessert bar to say goodbye to Kyle.  My mom wanted to make sure he felt special. Alex as well as my sister and her daughter came over to join us. We then went up to the cousin's to say goodbye to the family.  He "let" Penelope cut his hair one last time and played a video game with the younger kids. It turned out to be a great experience as we have little family in Provo.  Just before we left, we all sang a hymn that Kyle choose and then we knelt in family prayer.  It was a short and sweet evening tradition, but it sure helped Kyle to feel the Spirit as well as family love and support as a missionary.

Wednesday was the big day!  We started it off with Kyle and my Dad going golfing in the morning while I went to breakfast with an old friend.  She couldn't believe I would give up our precious time together the day he was going to leave.  To be honest, I think Kyle and I had enough time together over the past month and we were both ready for a break.

I picked Jeremy up from his apartment on my way home so he could say goodbye to his best bro. They joked around as usual for a few minutes, shared a big bro hug and Jeremy headed back to school.

We then went to say goodbye to my Mom at work and had a small lunch with her.  She almost cried when she had to say goodbye for two years.  She had grown fond of our little firecracker over the summer while he worked at BYU Sports Camps as a counselor. 

We then ran to Missionary Mall to exchange shirts that were a size too big.  When Kyle told the salesman he was going into the MTC in an hour and a half, the cute salesman literally ran across the store to help with the exchange.  It was kind of funny to see the slight panic in his eyes.

We stopped at the dollar store to buy a few odds and ends and returned home where I began to very quickly iron the white shirts that my Dad and Kyle busy removing the packaging from.  It was funny to hear how frustrated Kyle became with the 100 pins they use to keep the shirts looking nice.  Same ornery kid!!  I enjoyed ironing those white shirts for him one last time.

I finished the last shirt, packed his suitcase with him.  Laid the perfectly ironed shirts on top, zipped up his suitcase and we realized he was ready to go.  At that point, he became very quiet for his boisterous, energetic self.  He called and said goodbye to Baylie and then James.  He had called Mikenzie earlier and sent her one last Snapchat before he handed his phone over to me while we were driving to the MTC.  We all had a good laugh when we read James' last text telling us he was teary eyed.  James is the softy in the family, we all know that.

We pulled into the MTC at 2:02 p.m. where we were greeted by a very kind senior missionary.  He asked if we had an Elder available.  I told him we had a great one in the car. He then asked where we would like to send him.  When I said Cape Verde he told us they had one opening left and Kyle was a perfect fit.  I love older people. They are a hoot!

We were then directed to a parking spot in front of the MTC.  I jumped out to say goodbye and get my last hug.  By the time we had opened our car doors, a handsome young missionary was already shaking Kyle's hand a welcoming him to the MTC.  He was excited to find out Kyle would most likely be in his zone as he was going to Mozambique, Portuguese speaking.  He grabbed Kyle's suitcases, shook my hand,  waited for my Dad to give Kyle a hug, took Kyle and he was gone.  My dad and I drove off by 2:10.  It's kind of good to rip off that band aid and get it over with. 

I drove off proud of myself I didn't cry.  I think Kyle would have cried as well if I did so I am glad I stayed strong. The tears sure came when I returned home tonight to see an empty bedroom with just a few soccer shirts laid on the bed.  I might have shed a few tears on the long, lonely drive back to California as well but I was all alone and no one saw me, so that doesn't count.

I am so very grateful Kyle is able to serve a mission. He will be so very blessed throughout his life from all of the things he learns and becomes.  I can't wait to see the great-er young man that he will grow into.

Be grateful!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Our crazy life continues...

It has been a while since I last posted.  Life has been a whirlwind but in a kind of good way.  If we roll back the clock to July 22nd..... where do we begin??

With my awesome missionary returning!!!  Yay!! It sure was an interesting morning.  We were all counting down the hours until 9:15 a.m. arrived.  Baylie hastily made a couple of homemade posters ( No, I was not that Mom, the one that orders a huge banner complete with pictures and maps to welcome Jeremy home ).  We rushed into the airport and waited for Kyle who so kindly parked the car for me so I could find my spot to wait for my Elder to give me a long awaited hug.

We were pleased to be greeted by another family in our Stake who also had a son returning from Brazil.  We were so excited to see both of our sons returning together, as they had been set apart together.  We hugged and talked.  Two more friends came to take pictures for the blessed moment.

Finally, Baylie came running down the walkway telling us she could see Jeremy.  We all searched and before we knew it, there he was!!  We all gave him a big hug or two.  He then saw The Lehnardt family and said " Um... Jason isn't on the plane"  His mom was shocked and asked if he was kidding. I mean really... where is my son?!?  Jeremy said he did not connect with the rest of the group in Sao Paulo and he had no idea where Jason was.  We all kind of stood around and waited as the plane emptied and talked a bit, I tried to comfort his Momma and then, well, I took my missionary home after wishing the family the best.  I felt so guilty but so grateful MY missionary was the one to deplane on time.

We all returned home with Jeremy who was astonished at being in an air conditioned car, listening to English and driving on paved roads in his home town.  His English returned very quickly and we enjoyed hearing the slight accent he picked up.  His stories were wonderful and we enjoyed every single second.

He shared is crazy green grass tea, gifts and more stories.  Alex soon arrived.  He had been picked up by a good family friend at the airport so I could spend time with Jeremy.  Before I knew it the boys were off and running and Jeremy was done being home, hugging and telling stories!

We finally met up again at the Stake President's office for him to be released.  Jeremy brought every single mission journal with him to return and report on the promise of writing every single day.  It was a wonderful, spiritual experience to hear him recount many experiences that helped him grow and become the wonderful young man he is.  He was then released and we were on our way.  We ran into The Lehnardt family who finally had their son in tow.  He had missed a connecting flight but landed 2 hours later.  All of the missionaries in his group were bumped up to first class, so I guess it was worth the delay for them.

After the release, we then went to Jeremy's single requested location: Red Robin!  He had been craving an American hamburger for months.  We all ordered and I was grateful for the $25 gift card my mom had sent us.  It was going to be a pricey meal.  But we cherished every moment.  Alex had left for a friends house so it was just the  six of us.

Just as we were finishing up our meal, our waiter approached me and told me that he had never had something like this happen before but a gentleman who wished to remain anonymous had paid for our meal in full!  We were all surprised and could not imagine who had been so kind towards our family.  It was such a wonderful blessing and such a great example to my children of how generosity can bless the lives of others.

Later that night as we knelt in family prayer, I felt so wonderfully blessed and grateful for my children.  Especially the opportunity we have shared as a family supporting a missionary.  It was by far one of the best days of my life!

To be continued...