Thursday, July 11, 2013

I do it myself...

You see this tough little guy? This is a picture of Brandon trying to pour a bowl of cereal for himself.  I have been smiling about him all week. He is such a feisty little person.  This last Sunday Brandon and I attended a baptism in the morning before church.  He has suddenly become obsessed with tying his own tie.  He worked and worked at it for about 15 minutes before we left and all during the drive up to the church.

Still unsuccessful, he wanted to stay in the car until he had that tie tied.  I finally convinced him to come into the church and work on it.  He had to come in barefoot as he hadn't even taken the time to put his shoes on yet. Once inside he realized he had two different church shoes, but that is a different story.

He continued to work on his tie and refused any help from many of the well meaning priesthood holders who were more than happy to help this soon-to-be deacon learn to tie his tie.  
" I don't want ANY help!" Was his constant tight lipped reply.  He was frustrated many times, told me it was a double windsor, not a slip knot and kept on working at it.

Finally, just as the baptism began, he mastered it! He tied his tie all by himself and sat with a half contented smile.  Disappointed it took so long, but happy it was finally perfect. I wanted to snap a picture to show everyone, but he had that thing untied and off of his neck the second church was over.  Boys!! I also showed many of the men what a great job Brandon had done, but he was irritated by my attempt at giving him props and told me to stop. " It's just a tie Mom... what's the big deal?"

Recently someone asked me if I ever had problems getting my kids to ride in their car seats.  Not really, other than Brandon, who never minded riding in the car seat, he just had an issue with HOW he got into the car seat.  He would only ride in that seat if HE was the one to get himself in, from start to beginning.

He would only let me open the door, and that was because most 1 year olds can't quite reach the door  handle of a Suburban.  Often times I would actually have to hold him up and let him " open" the door, with some very limited help.  Once the door was open, he would climb into the car and into his car seat.  I could never lift him in or give him a boost.  It was from the ground up only for this kid! Then, we would all have to wait until this toddler with chubby little fingers would snap his buckles together.  A few times I would try to sneak ahead and buckle one while he wasn't looking, only to be caught and have to unbuckle my helpfulness and wait until he had done them all by himself.  If I tried to help in anyway I  would often be scolded with these words" I do it myself!" 

That was his mantra as a toddler and obviously it still holds true today.  I have no idea where this head strong independent child will go, but I have a feeling, he will do it his way and by himself!

Be Grateful!!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Ute Stampede

Today I have been reflecting on my childhood summer memories.  I guess it is just that time of year, when we used to make the annual trek from Provo to my mom's hometown of Nephi, UT.

If I could re-live just one memory of my life, this week would be a contender.   So many memories came flooding into my mind this morning as I thought about the wonderful week we would spend with family at the Ute Stampede every July .

Usually we would caravan down with my cousins The Ostler's, which was always a treat to me because  I loved them all so much.  I used to pray my Aunt Barbara would adopt me as I enjoyed each and every one.  I don't think I could name a favorite, although Heidi and I were the closest in age and therefore the closest of my cousins.

So, we would all caravan down to Nephi, usually in our old truck and The Ostler's white station wagon.  I remember stopping by fabric shops and sometimes clothing stores on the way.  But my absolute favorite childhood memory was pulling into my grandma's driveway.  She would almost always be waiting for us on her red cement stairs in the carport, or come right out to greet us.  We always felt so welcomed and loved when we arrived, as if we were travelers from another country being welcomed as highly anticipated guests.  That event played out over and over during my childhood.  It still warms my heart today. And my Grandma welcomed us with the same open arms whether it was in Nephi, Moroni or Provo.  Everyone was always welcomed and loved in my Grandma's house.

I remember sitting under her big plum tree in an old hammock my Grandpa Garrett had made from thick fabric he acquired at the hose plant.  We would all pile into that hammock and enjoy the shade.  We would also try to slide her old Clorox bottle full of clothes pins as far and as fast as we could down the clothes line.  Eventually we would push too hard and all of the clothes pins would fall out.  Even picking them up became a fun game.

We spent time in her garden and in her shed, usually hiding from cousins during a game of hide and seek.  We would also spend plenty of time in the irrigation ditch, usually being chased and  dunked by the boys in a very wet game full of running and squealing.  My Grandpa would make us boats out of cucumbers or squash and we would race them in the irrigation ditch. An irrigation ditch was as fun to us as any water park, we would spend hours trying to dam the water and then let it all go.  We would usually not get too far with this, as the adults were always worried about using someone else's water time with the irrigation system.

My Grandpa would also sneak us out to his camper, which is where he hid his secret stash of candy.  He was more that happy to share with us, as long as we would keep his secret.  Another secret that he was pretty good at keeping was how to find buried, delicious hot meals.  Usually at the end of the day he would start to tell my Grandma he was hungry and could sure use a good hot meal.  She would tell him to go find one.  He would look and look, and then to our delight, he would unearth a magical dutch oven, full to the brim with hot delicious homemade dinner.  We were always amazed he knew just where to dig for such a wonderful discovery.

Later in the week, we would  walk the few blocks down to the center of town for the annual Ute Stampede Parade.  My Grandpa would usually be under a tree, sleeping when we arrived.  We laid out blankets in the same spot every year in front of  the high school.  We didn't know anyone in the parade, but we sure enjoyed being treated to the candy they would throw at us as the passed us by.

Eventually we would make it down to the main event.  This is where we had the most fun.  One night was usually reserved for the rodeo, where we were instantly transformed from city slickers to country folk, watching the rodeo queens and all of the cowboys with their neat tricks. Bull riders and barrel racing, rodeo clowns, they had it all.

The next night was where we finally were able to ride carnival rides.  I don't remember the rides so much, but I do remember being asked over and over if I was Mildred Garrett's granddaughter.  The reason everyone knew was because of our french braids.  Every night before we went to town, Grandma would line us all up, retrieve her trusty bottle of either Dippity-Do or Vaseline ( which was almost impossible to wash out in less that a week ) and braid every granddaughter's hair.  That is how they knew us. The evening was usually full of cotton candy, a few free goldfish, and plenty of fun.  We would usually come home to fresh peaches and cream with just a little bit of sugar.  Best dessert anyone could ask for after a night of nonstop fun.

We also had a family reunion every year at the park where the swimming pool was.  We would sit under the large shade trees and there would be tables of wonderful food.  We would run and play all morning and into the afternoon.  Eventually we would make our way into the pool and spend hours splashing and swimming and jumping in and out of the water.  It was the same pool my mom worked at as a teenager and if we asked to go swimming too early, my Grandma would tell us all of the carnival workers were in the pool swimming and we had to wait until they were out.

I remember lazy car rides all around Nephi.  My Grandma's car always had a unique smell.  I would sit in the back seat and listen to my mom and Grandma talk about each house, who had lived there, who was living there and where they had all gone.

Some summers we would spend a few nights at the K-O-A camp.  My mom would bring down our trailer, but we usually all slept outside under the stars.  We would swim all day, walk back to the camp site for lunch and dinner.  My sister Lesilie lost her first tooth at that camp ground.  Heidi and I once tried to take a handful of candy from two boys we thought were my cousins.  Much to our embarrassment, they weren't! I was also rescued from drowning by my cousins friend once while we were swimming.  My older cousins were all going down the slide and it looked so fun.  The edge of the pool seemed really close and I just knew if I got enough speed while going down the slide, I would only have a few inches to go.  Well, I went down the slide and was quickly reminded that I didn't know how to swim and the edge was not nearly as close as I thought it was.  I was bobbing up and down in the water, hoping my mom would see I was going under.  Suddenly, my cousin's friend pulled me up out of the water and said " Don't do that again, okay?" Believe me, I had no plans on doing it anytime soon.

We spent many nights sleeping outside in my Grandma's back yard under the stars.  Only to awaken to the sounds and smells of pancakes and sausage cooking under the carport.  We would all line up, with sleep in our eyes, but our braids firmly in place and enjoy a huge family breakfast.  That is when I discovered The Ostler's put syrup on their sausage!

Those are just a few of my wonderful memories of Nephi and the Ute Stampede.  I have plenty more to share, like the time my cousin's burned me while trying to curl my hair, or the fun games we used to come up with, such as playing hospital. Or the way my Grandma acquired her ducks after my cousin won them at the carnival.  I have plenty of memories of Grandma cooking in her kitchen, her brown pots and pans and her double oven.  Brown paper bags full of cherries. Homemade mac and cheese with tomatoes on top.  But this post is long enough.

I sure wish my kiddo-s had some of the same memories.  It was a magical week for us every July.

Friday, June 28, 2013

High Adventure

Kyle an Jeremy have been out on yet another adventure. Here are a few snapshots. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Baby Steps Towards Acceptance

I have had this thorn in my side, this wrestle with The Lord, one that I haven't wanted.  One that I have resisted and fought against.  A cup I have begged to be removed from me.  And yet, that darn thorn is still there, sticking in my side, itching away, not letting up one bit.  

The thing about this thorn, I don't have any control over it.  I have no "free agency" on this one.  Someone else is choosing to use their free agency in a manner that is not quite fitting in with my plan.  And in my opinion, the choices are wrong and will have eternal, life changing consequences. And the whole world will come to a screeching halt if things aren't done the way I think they need to be done! Or so I thought.

So, after months and months of complaining, lamenting, whining, weeping and praying, I have finally come to accept this prickly thorn.  I truly have.  Really.  Even my husband doesn't believe me.  But I have.

In the beginning, I was in denial.  I was convinced I could change the outcome.  If I had enough faith, hearts would change.  If I went to the temple enough, angels would attend.  If I fasted, prayers would be heard.  And I am sure all of that happened, on the other side of the veil.  Meanwhile here in Missouri... I continued to follow my "promptings"  which caused more bitter, hateful angry battles in the process.  Because I was trying to do it my way.  Then one day I realized, regardless of my intentions, contention is of the devil and I am not bringing any spirit of love and peace into the situation by "helping" Heavenly Father.

Then I went into the depression mode.  Everything depressed me and brought me to tears.   I could not find peace.  Every choice made that wasn't in line my agenda, sent me to bed.  I would cry and pray and cry some more.  And then...everything would still be the same when I would finally emerge from my den of despair.  Other than feeling my children were being neglected, 
nothing came of this self absorbed selfish behavior.
Strike two on how to solve this problem.

Well, here I am.  I still have a thorn in my side, a lump in my throat and a band-aid across my broken heart.  But I have changed as a person.  I have come to accept this "trial".  I hesitate calling it a trial, as I know so many more people are out there in the world with real, heart-breaking, mind numbing full blown trials.  At first I considered it a challenge, which is why I approached this whole thing the totally wrong way from the very beginning.  I like challenges, I thrive on overcoming difficulty.  This was a bit more than a challenge, but hasn't quite risen to the true level of " trial " in my book.

 I have accepted this challenge, trial, frustration, lesson.  What ever it is. Bit by bit.  I truly have.  I find comfort in short scriptures.  In quotes from the prophets.  In prayer.  In beautiful sunrises. Just today I heard a scripture from a talk that had a totally different subject, but it brought me great comfort.

D&C 100: 12-15

12: Therefore, continue your journey ( ie. life's journey ) and  let your heart rejoice; 
for behold, and lo, I am with you, even unto the end.
13: And now I give unto you a word concerning ____( the person not making the best decisions ).  
_____ (same person ) shall be redeemed, although ( he will be) chastened for a little season.
14: Thy (son is) in my hands; 
and inasmuch as (he) keeps my commandments, 
( he ) shall be saved.
15: Therefore, let your heart be comforted; 
for all things shall work together for good to them that walk uprightly... 

See that? A little drop of comfort and peace.  A little dab will do ya.  It is all I need, just to know my prayers have been heard, are being heard and that this battle is far from over. Little baby steps, one at a time on my pathway of finding peace during a trial,  challenge, not very fun time.

Be Grateful!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Not Super Great

Not super great... those were the words Baylie used to describe her day.  She has an inexplicably painful tendon in her foot and has been lugging a boot around for the past week with no relief from her constant pain.  Even the in house physician is a bit baffled, mumbling something about an MRI the other day.  And apparently a mean 7th grade boy wouldn't move his books so she could rest her leg on a chair today. She even resorted to calling him a jerk, to which he replied he was an American and could do whatever he wants.  I don't really agree with that loose interpretation of our wonderful nationality, but he's a 7th grade boy, what can you expect?

And then... she left her little tablet under a tree after science class.  Her kind friend picked it up and was running to give it to her when another mean boy, a 6th grader this time, tripped her friend, who dropped the tablet, which shattered the screen.  Not super great.  What was great was the grace Baylie showed this friend who knew for sure B would be furious and demand payment for the damaged goods.  She was so relieved when Baylie told her she understood it was just an accident.  All she could say was " My parents can't afford to replace that.  I was so scared."  I am not surprised in the least bit by Baylie's reaction to the whole sad incident.  She is such a wonderful little person. I think my sweet B is super great!

This happens to be two days after she left her iPod in a restroom at a nearby craft store.  She realized she left it and ran back to retrieve it.  Luckily someone had turned it in, but not before they helped themselves to the $25 she had tucked away in the case.  I guess a finders fee is cheaper than replacing an entire Ipod. Not a super great deal there though, I mean, c'mon people! Is your integrity really only worth $25??

Brandon also received not super great news today as well.  A few weeks ago he had a tooth that was giving him a ton of pain.  I finally called a dentist ( being a mom of 6 kids lends itself to becoming a bit skeptical when a child whines about a random pain).  We got him in to see a dentist that accepted our crappy dental plan... there are no real savings when it comes to seeing a dentist, just sayin'.  

Well, the dentist told me Brandon's tooth was broken and he should have it pulled, as it was a baby tooth.  I agreed, thinking it would come right out.  Well, after being all numbed up, Brandon endured what seemed an eternity of trying to yank that stubborn tooth out.  It wasn't about to budge.  The dentist kept trying despite Brandon's claims of pain.  By the time Brandon was crying and visibly shaking, we all finally gave up and went off in search of a pediatric dentist that could sedate the poor little guy.

Two weeks ago, we went to the new dentist ( who accepts cash very happily, but not our crappy insurance plan ) and he said it was merely a cavity and it could be filled, no sedation needed.  Great, save time, money and pain.  Fast forward to today.  We arrived thinking it would be a quick filling on two little baby teeth.  I must say, the new dentist was fabulous with keeping Brandon not only calm but also well informed.  He numbed Brandon up and began to drill, and drill, and drill.  He almost started to fill, but then had to drill some more.  That is when the not super great news came.

The cavity was so deep it would require a root canal... on a baby tooth.  Or...we could just pull the tooth.  Back to square one.  He promised all he would have to do was just wiggle the tooth out.  Yeah, we've all heard that line before.

A few more shots to ensure lack of any pain, a few wiggles, a couple of nervous "ow"'s from Brandon, one loud " Ouch!!" and it was out.  The dentist was amazed at the tooth.  How deep the cavity was, where the nerve was.  Brandon was shocked and relieved it finally came out.

Brandon had the puffy face to prove he had multiple shots to numb him up.  He was quite the cute chipmunk for a couple of hours. He spent most of the day resting and then suddenly felt great.  Well enough to go play soccer with his team for a few hours anyway.

Some days are just not super great.  It sure is hard to see my kiddos suffer the small bumps and bruises this life seems to deliver at random times.  But it is all part of this very human experience we are living.  None of us get out of here alive and I don't think any of us get out with a few battle scars.  

Be Grateful!!

Monday, April 29, 2013

My plan, his plan and His Plan

Nineteen and a half years ago, I was blessed to become a mom.  I had a beautiful baby boy who I  completely adored.  I promised him I would give him everything I could, most importantly, the gospel of Jesus Christ.  You see, almost three years to the day he was born, his Daddy had flown off to South Africa to serve a mission.  We put our marriage and our life together on hold for his service to Our Heavenly Father.  Living the gospel, marrying an RM and having a worthy priesthood holder in my home were my #1 goals in life at 19.  So yes, we sacrificed it all because of our love for the gospel.

This sweet baby boy of mine never loved being loved.  My grandma was so thrilled to have him come along, in fact, when I told her I was going to have a baby she said she would never live long enough to see him go on a mission.  I promised myself she would. That was my plan.  She is still alive at 97 and he is 19.  She used to cuddle and snuggle up to this little guy and he would cry and scream and arch his back.  He hated nursing and almost waved good-bye to me the first day he was introduced to the bottle ( after 6 painful months of nursing a very reluctant baby ).

As a toddler, he would wake up in the mornings, lay on the floor and pull a blanket over himself.  I would usually roll a sippy cup of juice under his blanket and he would eventually emerge after awhile. Before he knew it, he was surrounded by siblings, but never seemed to miss the attention only the first born is blessed to have.

As a little boy I would read and read and read to him.  He loved Thomas the Train, and as he grew we could see why.  He was so mechanically minded, some days I could almost see the wheels and gears spinning in his head.  He was brilliant. He was full of questions, some of which I couldn't even begin to fathom an answer to.  He was smart, good looking and loved to learn.

We moved around a lot during his elementary years, 4 schools in 2 years.  Medical school and residency took its toll on our family.  James was gone 9 out of 12 months one year.

We finally settled down in Wyoming in a tiny little town of 600.

Yep, that would be the main street, see how there is nary a stop light?
My boys were in heaven.  The town had a park with a little river running through it.   The boys had a "secret island " where they could hang out and play like only 8-11 year old boys can play. They caught snakes and fish. They rode their bikes all over town.  They rode motor cycles and 4 wheelers. Used shot guns and went camping.  It was a perfect little town for boys to grow up in.  While we lived there, my nieces came to stay with us for almost 2 years.  It was a peaceful place for them to heal as well.

But, the partnership offered 5 years earlier never came through for James and the pay was just not cutting it for our family.  So we began looking and looking for somewhere else to work and live.  Close to Utah? Or family? Nope.  After a year of searching, we finally landed in Missouri, further away, but in a wonderful community.  We packed up our little family and moved once again.  My nieces went home to live with their Dad and we began a new life. I spent months mourning the loss of two little girls who had become my daughters. My heart eventually healed and a fresh start is always full of adventure. 

Still a pretty small city, but with many more opportunities for everyone.  My smartest, oldest, good looking son finally had the classes that would mentally challenge him.  A better music program, one of the best in the nation.  A bigger ward, more youth.  So many wonderful things in store for all of us. This was the beginning of our new plan.

But my boy with all of the opportunities was miserable.  And within two years of leaving his little part of paradise in Wyoming,  made the rest of us constantly miserable. We were at our wits end!! So, we sent him to scout camp, hoping it would humble him a bit, and help him realize how blessed he was.

After spending a summer in a tent...

in the fresh air of the Utah mountains...

and using one of these all summer, we hoped and prayed our little boy we loved so greatly would come back to us happier and ready to reset and refocus.  

Well, that plan kind of backfired.  The rest family enjoyed the summer of peace and we were all shocked at how calm our home had become.  But summer ended and our mighty scouter came back with a vengeance   Even more angry and more bitter, he refused to do anything we asked him to do.  His grades plummeted, his hated going to church, he made us all miserable within a matter of days.  And we all endured for two more long and painful years.  Weekends full of fighting and arguing and holes punched in his bedroom door.  This brilliant, handsome son of mine became a hateful enemy full of insults and anger. He swore we would  never have control over his life again. He did everything in his power to make sure he lived up to that promise.

He finally graduated and off he went to BYU.  I knew in my heart he would eventually go down a path I would not choose, probably one of inactivity,  but still held out hope that a mission for my battle scarred son was on the horizon.  He was going to BYU right? Maybe that would be the turning point.

Well, it has been a year full of  heartbreak and sadness. A year of questioning every choice I have made as a parent for this son. My little boy I promised the world to has rejected  what matters to me to me.  Good grades, activity in the church, and most important... a mission.  In October 2012, when he should have already been out serving, the age limit was dropped.  Still, no mission.

I've waited, begged, pleaded, prayed, cried buckets of tears, fought, gone to the temple, laid in bed depressed, run miles and miles trying to clear my head, read scriptures and prayed some more.  Nothing works.  In fact, the mention of a mission usually results in a blood bath full of hateful and angry words.

I have carried this enormous burden for months and months now.  It is last on the list of tests I would have ever signed up for.  And probably my greatest personal failure in life, my son won't serve a mission! Many people tell me to get over it, to move on, it's his choice, he's still a great kid.  In my head, I know this to be true.  But how do you heal a broken heart?  How do I change my plan?

So why do I share all of this? Because I taught a lesson yesterday in Relief Society, and went to Time Out For Women last weekend, and have went to the temple last Friday.  And slowly, little answers and bits of peace have come my way.  

I realize I need to change who I am and how I react to my son.  I have come to realize that Heavenly Father knows the desires of MY heart, and that if I had it my way, my son would be on a mission in heart beat.  I  was also taught by a wonderful friend that our loving Heavenly Father has compensated for all of our choices, mission or not.  And I have come to realize I did give this son everything I could, especially the gospel. I need to find a new definition of what success means for me and my son. 

And now it's time for his plan.  Right now, that consists of an expensive high end apartment, 


and working a lot of hours to earn a lot of money so he can spend a lot of money.  

That's the plan. Church?? Not the highest priority in his life right now.  I think he's the only person I know who was in an EQ presidency at BYU and still went less active.  He doesn't have a plan for a mission, not now, not ever.  He feels exempt.  The saddest part? He doesn't know what he doesn't know.  He doesn't realize how greatly this will affect not only him, but his posterity and his ability to serve in the church.

However, there is one plan that has been over looked.  That would be His plan for my son. His plan for me. Right now, it seems like there is no plan, no blueprint, no map.  Just heartbreak for me and stubborn independence for my son.  But Heavenly Father not only authored a plan, he knows what it is and it is going to all turn out just fine.  Because He loves me, and He loves Alex, and He isn't going to come up with a bad plan, probably a better plan than either one of us could ever come up with. 

As for me and my plan?? To sit back, as much as I can, and let Heavenly Father work his magic.  To have faith in the sacred teachings of the spirit that I cannot share here, that have given me comfort.  To learn what I can from all of this, most likely patience, that seems to be the running theme in my life.  To find peace that regardless of how things turn out, mission or not, active in the church or not, Heavenly Father loves my son and in the end, isn't that what we all desire for our children? To be accepted before the Lord.

So, that is the plan, to have faith and to