Thursday, December 17, 2015

Nathan is 4!

He got everything he wanted... starting with a foot-long hot dog! (Which he only ate about 3 bites of)

His very own homemade ice cream cake.
 And to fall asleep with me singing him his favorite lullaby, surrounded by his fluffies. He seriously sleeps in that pile every night.

What can I say about Nathan? He is extremely sweet, caring, thoughtful, smart, funny, and lately extremely attached to me and whiny. But we can live with that, when he's this cute. He hates for anything to be thrown away, ever. He begs every night to sleep in his sisters' room. He hates being alone. He hates litter. Any time we are anywhere if he has a wrapper he asks me to hold onto it so "it doesn't blow away and make our earth dirty". His perfect day would be playing video games and watching TV all day, with my sitting right next to him, and his dad nearby to help with the hard parts. He doesn't like to color, at the library we did a craft and made a "leaf man". Most kids glued their assorted colored leaves all over their "man". Nathan just glued one on top of the other, in a nice little pile at the bottom of leaf man's feet. I couldn't imagine life without this little guy, always trying to protect me and his sisters.  

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Funny kids

We were driving the other day and Abigail randomly asked me, "How old do you have to be to be President?"

"Uhm, 35, I think... yeah, 35." I reply confidently.

"Oh good, I only have 30 more years!"

And then Olivia quickly pipes up, "Yeah and Mom, by then you'll be 61!"

"Ugh, oh man I don't want to be 61." I said.

"Well then you better hope you die before the next 30 years is up!" Abigail says from the backseat without missing a beat.

Well she's sure right. Being 61 certainly beats the alternative.

Earlier the same day I tried on this handkerchief that a friend made me for Disneyland. I tied it around my head, Rose the riveter style. I asked Abigail what she thought.

"Are you seriously going to wear that? OUTSIDE? No, no, take it off! Take it off. You look like someone from THE 90'S! A CLEANING LADY FROM THE 90's!"

She is a crack up.

Monday, September 28, 2015

My favorite little man

"Nathan can you put this on the table?" 

"Sure mama"

"Thanks buddaroo."

"You can always call me buddaroo!"

Thursday, September 24, 2015

General Life Update

I recently deleted Facebook, so I am going to try to be better about updating my blog so that family and friends far away will still get an update on all things Opie.

Life is busy. Abigail is in Kindergarten, and we had a little trouble with teacher stuff at the beginning of the year, but that's all sorted out. Olivia is loving second grade. Nathan and Eliza are still just home with me. We do some mommy school stuff, go to story time, but in all honesty we spend a lot of time wondering how we're going to pass the time until the big sisters get home.

Swim team starts up this week for Olivia and Abigail. Well they're doing a trial week, and we'll see from there.

Aaron and I also decided to move forward with foster care. It's something that's been on both of our minds and Arizona is in a major crisis right now, so we decided to go for it. We had our first class last night, and it's seeming much more real. I fell asleep last night imagining what this whole scenario is going to be like, and I'm so excited/nervous/hopeful.

Looking at my calendar and the past few months have been so crazy. Hawaii, then threw a baby shower for a friend, jury duty and meetings with case worker, the Primary Program, 4 doctors appointments with lots of vaccinations! There's nothing on the calendar for next week (besides swim team three days a week, and our foster care class!) and that feels like a nice breath of fresh air. Though, truth be told, the busier I am, the happier I am. It seems to make me more efficient. Hopefully I'll be able to continue to find balance. I sometimes look at everything on my plate and feel like, "Wow, I'm going to get so burned out!" but so far, we're doing okay.

I wish I could more easily get pictures from my phone to this blog. I'll have to work on that. The kids are getting SO big. Literally. Today at Olivia's doctor appointment she was so far off the growth chart, the doctor couldn't believe it. He measured her again. Even if she was 10, she'd still be off the chart! Her projected height is 6'1''. All the rest of the kids are in the upper 90's percentiles. Huge kids! I was so impressed with Abigail and how she handled her shots. She didn't shed a tear. She didn't even flinch. Olivia cried, but still did great. I was so proud of them. Nathan and Eliza were not quite as in control. Lots of screaming and tears. No fun. And now all four of them are just grumpy, miserable little people who should sleep, but of course won't. Hopefully tonight they'll all sleep well. I can sure use it.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Late Night Thoughts On Addiciton

My church put together a series of videos based on the 12 steps. I have long loved the 12 steps of AA, and love the church's spin on them just as much (honestly the differences are negligible). And as I'm trying to sleep tonight I can't get these thoughts to stop spinning around in my head. Usually I just get out a pen and write in my journal. Tonight, however, I can't help but to think this message needs to be shared.


Addiction is a deadly disease. It is claiming the lives of thousands. And I believe this is largely because of shame. The moment an addict brings their problem to light, hope floods in. But the shame and stigma associated with addiction often causes the addict to continue to hide. I am certain my brother died because he was too ashamed of himself to get help. He didn't want to be where he was in life. He wasn't just loving living life, with no cares about who he hurt, as some may wrongfully believe of addicts.

Addicts live with more pain than we could ever realize.

I grew up with an alcoholic father. I am so grateful that my mom put me in Alateen when she did. Learning the 12 steps as a teenager absolutely changed my life. Especially Step 4. If you're unfamiliar, watch this video... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FcZyje9n74&feature=youtu.be or if you can't... it's, "Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." (The church adds the word "written") I did this when I was about 15. I started by just writing my priorities. My list looked something like this...

My Priorities
1. My boyfriend
2. My friends
3. My job
4. School
5. Basketball
6. My Family

Pretty messed up, huh! And as I made that list it dawned on me how messed up it was. For one thing my family was at the very bottom of my list, and more importantly God wasn't even on it. I remember deciding right then to rewrite that list. With God at the top. And that single decision has directed the rest of my life.

These 12 Steps are life changing. For everyone. They are the Atonement in action. They are inspired. Please, if you are struggling with any kind of addiction, or know anyone who is, encourage them to forget this false sense of shame and get to a meeting. 

Now these thoughts are floating around with some other thoughts from a Max Lucado book I'm reading, Facing Your Giants. There is a chapter about the Brook of Besor. This is a lesser known David story from the Bible. I think everyone is familiar with how he slew Goliath, but then what happened? Well after he went through a lot of stuff, he finds himself with an Army of 600. And then he and that army are raided by some bad guys. They take the women and children. The Army turns their anger on David who should have protected them. David could easily just give up at this point. This is like the millionth time he is finding himself in a situation where people want to kill him. It would have been easy to just give up. And that would have been the end of David.

But he doesn't give up. He turns to God, and he is directed and listens! He directs his army's anger at the true enemy and they faithfully go out and search for their families. This isn't easy. They have no clue where the enemy could be. But they have faith. And eventually they are led to the enemy's camp. However, right before they find out where their families are, 200 of them give up. They decide not to go on. They are just too tired. They're worn out. They lack faith. But I think more than anything they are tired of fighting, what seems like a hopeless battle. I imagine this is how addicts feel. That hunger is always there. That justification that it's okay this just one time, that always gets out of hand, is always playing over and over in their minds. And sometimes, they just can't fight it anymore, and they give up. They let the world go on without them, and they check out.

Eventually David and the 400 who went with him find their women and children, and score a bunch of loot. As they head back, they find the other 200 still there. Initially the 400 do not want to share the spoils of their victory with those who chose to stay behind. In fact, just read the words straight from the source... (1st Samuel 30)

And David came to the two hundred men, which were so faint that they could not follow David, whom they had made also to abide at the brook Besor: and they went forth to meet David, and to meet the people that were with him: and when David came near to the people, he saluted them22Then answered all the wicked men and men of Belial, of those that went with David, and said, Because they went not with us, we will not give them ought of the spoil that we have recovered, save to every man his wife and his children, that they may lead them away, and depart. 23Then said David, Ye shall not do so, my brethren, with that which the LORD hath given us, who hath preserved us, and delivered the company that came against us into our hand. 24For who will hearken unto you in this matter? but as his part isthat goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike. 25And it was so from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel unto this day.

The first thing that I noticed is that David saluted them. And then he rebukes these people who felt like these losers didn't deserve anything. I imagine the men who stayed behind probably agreed with them. I am sure they felt so ashamed of themselves. Those were their families they let down, because they were too tired to go on. I imagine they spent a lot of that time beating themselves up. I imagine a few probably tried to follow a few days later, greatly regretting their decision to stay. But soon lost hope and turned back. (If I'm not being too obvious in my analogy, forgive me for over explaining, but in my mind, this is like those addicts who try to stop on their own. Who maybe go days, weeks, even years without slipping up in their addiction. But then they fall back into the grasp of addiction.)

David's reaction is a great example of how we can treat addicts in our lives. He gave them their dignity back. He treated them like humans, who were equal to those who didn't need to rest. They didn't get just some of the spoil, but "they shall partake alike". They were treated as equals. They were saluted. 

How would you feel if you were one of the 400 who fought, and went on, even though you were pretty darn tired yourself? Angry? Resentful? Jealous? How do you feel about people who struggle with addiction? Perhaps you've had the fleeting thought that a heroin user deserved to die. "One less junkie in the world." Or you've thought, "Man, I'd like to just check out of life for a while like that, but too bad I care too much about my family, that I could never do that!" We need to change this attitude, and realize that yes these people did make a decision to stay at Besor (or start using a numbing mechanism of their choice) but once they made that poor decision once, they were stuck! You can say a heroin addict chose to do heroin, and you would be correct. That first time, they were absolutely in control, and made a horrible mistake. I am sure there are few heroin users in the world who wouldn't do anything to be able to go back to that moment and undo it. And I'm using heroin as an example for a few reasons. Obviously one, because of my brother's particular addiction. But also, because I believe there is more of a stigma associated with that word, and I'm trying to end that. I think the more I use it, maybe it will help. I know even in my own family we have a hard time saying the word. We would say, "that stuff" or "crap" or whatever... no one wanted to use the word heroin. And we still don't. But that's a whole other post! My point here is, yes, those who chose to stay at Besor made one bad decision. Do they deserve to be judged for the rest of their lives, and never get any kind of love or respect ever again because of that one poor decision?

Addiction knows no boundaries these days. There is no shame in having a problem bigger than you. There is so much help available. Start with these amazing videos. Find a meeting. Break your silence a reach out to someone. The moment you let go of your shame, you are back in the fight. 

I know it's too late for my brother. I wish so much I could share these videos with him. But I can do it in his honor, and live the rest of my life trying to speak out against the way addicts are treated. I can try to help whoever crosses my path. Hopefully some day on a grander scale. But it's my prayer this blog post reaches someone who needed to see it. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Hawaii 2015

This page might take a while to load. I embedded the pictures from our One Drive, and it's loading kind of slowly on my computer, just fyi. And if you click on it, it should let you see it bigger. Sorry, this is the easiest way to get lots of pictures from phone to blog.


Heard a really cool story about why this is popular in Hawaii... From Wikipedia, "According to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,[4] prevailing local lore credited the gesture to Hamana Kalili of Laie, who lost the three middle fingers of his right hand while working at the Kahuku Sugar Mill. Kalili was then shifted to guarding the sugar train, and his all-clear wave of thumb and pinkie is said to have evolved into the shaka as children imitated the gesture."  So basically this guy lost his three fingers, and he waved at people as they passed on the train, and people thought he was doing this with his hand, and did it back, not knowing he was really missing those fingers. And now it's a widely used symbol used to convey the Aloha spirit. 



Buddhist temple... this place was one of the most beautiful I've ever seen.





Hawaiian palace. Learned a lot of cool history here. Like, did you know this was the first palace to have electricity? Even beat the White House!



Doing a moonlight hike of Waimea Falls.



Yummy fruit from a little overpriced, rip off the tourists fruit stand... but still worth it.


Had to get in a game of disc golf. Which is not very popular in Hawaii, they only had one course, and we had it all to ourselves. And I think we learned why... the wind was killer! But who am I kidding, I don't think I would have done much better without it!


Dole Plantation was another highlight... mainly for these whips! TOPPINGS! So heavenly.











Shark's Cove... we saw lots of beautiful cool fish here. And also cut up my fingers, toes and back on the sharp rocks!


Best fish and chips ever.







The view from the top of Diamond Head. It was a way harder hike than I was prepared for. But the views at the top were beautiful, and were debatablely worth it.





This was the closest we got the Arizona, at the Pearl Harbor memorial, due to lightning. It was still a very beautiful, solemn place.


Polynesian Cultural Center luau. It was delicious! And such a wonderful beautiful place.













One of my favorite things I learned here was during a video about Hawaii. There was just this one quote that kept ringing through my mind for the rest of the trip "We already have everything we need." And it seems the culture of Hawaii is that the Earth takes care of us, as we take care of it. I loved that.


Did an awesome temple session. The people here were amazing, and I just loved how they didn't seem to take themselves as seriously as a lot of temple workers. It was just a different feeling, and so fun.


I love this picture Aaron took. These pools look like they're flowing out to the ocean, and that light beam coming down... just heavenly.


And that's the gist of our trip! Not pictured is our sunset Stand Up Paddle Board Tour, lots more yummy food, fun shopping, laying on the beach, reading books, watching the surfers, and probably some more that I can't think of because I'm exhausted! So grateful for everyone who helped take care of my babies while I was gone. And it's amazing what a solid week just being husband and wife can do for a 10 year old marriage. It was wonderful.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

A few pictures from our crazy cousin weekend!

This is my first time trying to upload pictures from our OneDrive thing by "embedding" them. Hopefully this works...










The last weekend before school we had the opportunity to have our cousins come stay with us for a few days (Friday - Monday). It was crazy and wonderful! Kids had so much fun and made great memories. And I loved watching them all have so much fun together. The only times that were really crazy were meal times. Otherwise it was actually quite a break for me too. Yuma has been lonely lately. It's so nice that our kids are such good friends. I grew up with my cousins as my best friends and I love seeing my kids do the same.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mommy Camp

So we traveled a lot this summer, which didn't leave any time for swim team, or gymnastic camp or any of the other stuff I thought I might sign my girls up for. And I was feeling weirdly guilty about it. I guess you talk to other moms and hear about all these ways they are enriching their children's lives and look at the amount of TV and video games your kids have been experiencing and it leads to certain levels of mom guilt. So in order to assuage myself of this guilt I decided to sign them up for camp for the last week of summer! ... Just kidding, it was too late. So I decided I'd make up my own camp. Introducing, Mommy Camp!

Monday - Cooking day. I had the girls pin some recipes they wanted to try. Together we made banana bread, ice cream in zip lock bags, and then just had them assemble cute plates with fruit and cheese and ham. They had a lot of fun. And I think they actually all learned something. I had them preheat the oven, taught them how to actually measure with dry measuring cups vs wet measuring cups, etc.  In case anyone is interested (or for myself if I ever want to do this again) these are the recipes we used :
http://cookieandkate.com/2011/honey-whole-wheat-banana-bread/ <- banana bread
http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/edible-innovations/ice-cream3.htm <-- ice cream

Today was Reading Day and we went to the library and read lots of books, came home and read lots of books... and it was kind of boring. It was supposed to be art day but I didn't have the stuff I needed. So tomorrow will be art day.

This is the project I plan on doing... http://happyhooligans.ca/stained-glass-painting-2/

Then I'm hoping on Thursday or Friday they can go help my friend on her farm, and learn about the work involved with milking goats, collecting eggs, feeding chickens, etc. I still haven't heard back so we'll see.

Then whatever day that doesn't happen will be a water day. We'll swim, set up our inflatable water slide, put on the sprinkler, do some experiments with sinking and floating toys.

And that's what we're up to lately! I'm really quite content and happy with these people lately. It's so crazy how quickly we can forget the hard times the moment we have some good. Today Aaron got home at 4:30, and he doesn't have to go back until Friday. I swear the world is just a more beautiful place tonight. Had I written this post last night when he was working until 9, I might not seem so happy with my life.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Just an update

So I better update this blog so I can remember when we got this puppy...
This is Minnie and she's a Basset Hound and she's adorable and we still love her, even after two weeks! So that's a good sign. I mean, look at those ears. So cute. And she's completely worn out after like a 5 minute walk around the block, she has to nap for at least two hours after that kind of exertion. She's chubby, and wrinkly and eats everything she sees. She is basically my spirit animal.

We drove up to Mesa last week to visit with family for Aaron's birthday and I got to stay a little longer while Aaron had to go back to work. ^ This picture was snapped while driving up and I was super angry that Eliza woke up after only a 15 minute nap. I was hoping she'd sleep for at least an hour of the drive. And I was so frustrated, but then Nathan looked at her and said, "Happy morning, Eliza beautiful!" And she smiled at him and they held hands, and my heart melted and I couldn't be angry anymore about short naps (at least for that time).


This was on Aaron's birthday. We met everyone at Joe's BBQ for lunch. These are all the grandkids. Quite a task trying to get 10 kids, 7 and under to take a picture! There are actually two parents  hiding in this picture, which cracks me up. Love all these people so much.

Summer has been really busy... looking forward to school starting, but also really still enjoying not having anywhere to be most days. And really there's only two weeks left! But I do think by the end of these two weeks I'll be ready. Hard to believe two of my kids will be gone all day! Also looking at getting Nathan into a preschool so some of the days it will just me and Eliza. Craziness!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A post about Jesse

          I've been kind of quiet on the blog lately. Trying to at least keep updates on my kids and stuff but mostly it's been hard because really heavy topics are on my heart and mind and it's hard to write about the funny things my kids do and say when I really want to talk about my family, drug addiction and missing my brother.

       Tomorrow marks 6 months since I last saw my brother. Words usually come easily to me. I sit down to write and the words just kind of flow and later I go back and read what I wrote and occasionally I'm surprised at what I wrote! This phenomenon does not seem to occur when I want to write about Jesse. I sit down and start to write the words just stop. I don't know what to say. I don't know what's left to say, or why it's important to say it. Not a day goes by that my heart doesn't ache. It aches for my mom, and my entire family who miss him. But it also aches for so much potential that is now gone.

        I think that is what hurts the most. I know once people are gone it seems like all you can say is how wonderful and amazing and what a good person they were. So it feels like a cliche to talk about what a wonderful person Jesse was. I wish everyone reading this knew him, because the ones who did just know exactly what I'm talking about. He had a way of making everyone think they were his best friend. Every girl friend I've ever had, at one point had a crush on him. Literally every single one. Even my best friend admitting to me that she day dreamed about marrying him when we were younger -- and she didn't confess that to me until after he died! He was insanely good at everything he tried, but most notably hockey. He was also infectiously enthusiastic about anything he liked, or felt strongly about. Listening to him and my husband talk about Diablo was enough to put me to sleep. And I made a comment, "Aren't you embarrassed to be this excited about a video game?" I asked, after about a half hour of them talking about their level 40 mages or whatever. And he laughed and was like, "Why would I be embarrassed about something this awesome? If someone doesn't like this, I don't have time for them. I do not care. This game is awesome." And went back to his conversation with Aaron about all the awesomeness of this video game.

       He would never hurt anyone's feelings. My grandmother got him a too-small Rangers sweatshirt for Christmas, a couple of weeks before he died. His face lit up and he enthusiastically put it right on over his dress shirt he was already wearing. It was obvious that it was a bit too small, but he knew Nan would be upset so he insisted it was fine. "It's just this shirt underneath it, it's fine Nan, it's fine." He assured her over and over with a smile. And then he left that shirt on for the rest of the night.

      I wish I had more recent memories of him to draw from. But my earliest memories all include him. I even vaguely remember going to the hospital when he was born. (For the record I turned 2, almost exactly one month before he was born.) I remember teaching him his ABC's, before he turned 2. I remember being at his doctor's appointment and the doctor being impressed that he could sing his ABC's, and my little 3 year old self feeling such a sense of pride in this little person.

          My entire childhood is memories of us playing, imagining, video-gaming, and of course fighting. Nonstop fighting. Fist fighting, yelling, screaming... we didn't make it easy on my mom. We even started a fight club in my basement with the neighbor kids. The only rule was, "No telling Mom". And if you cried you were out.

         He had this puppy dog like admiration for our older neighbor boy, Keith. He'd just wait outside for Keith to come out and then beg Keith to play with him. Nice enough, many times Keith would play with him. But I'm pretty sure Kieth was like learning to drive, in high school, and didn't really have much time for the 5 year old boy who was obsessed with him. Though that didn't stop Jesse's devotion.

      I also remember him learning about illegal immigration when we were in middle school. He went into some ancient version of Microsoft Word on our Gateway computer and typed up these "facts" about the number of illegal immigrants in our country. I don't remember exactly what it was, something like, "FIVE MILLION ALIENS COME TO THIS COUNTRY EVERY YEAR! THAT'S F*&%ING B#$&*@#!!!!!!!!!!!!!"   In like size 200 font. And he hung these up all over the house. My mom told him he could not hang these signs up all over the house, so he put them up all over his bedroom. I think I remember this so clearly because one of those signs was still there years later when I was getting ready to move out. Now regardless of where you stand on illegal immigration you have to laugh at a 13 year old making offensive political posters to hang up around his house. I know as an adult he'd probably be ashamed and embarrassed by this story. But I don't tell it to make a point about his political views, just his passion and silliness I guess. It comes to my mind often and makes me laugh for some reason.

    We used to say Jesse was never a baby. He was on the move before he could walk. We lived upstairs from my grandparents and he'd slide down the stairs on his stomach and crawl over to Poppy's chair. He was riding a 2 wheel bicycle before his 3rd birthday. He really grew up fast. He grew up too fast and he died too soon.
 
     While I was back visiting I could really just feel this gaping hole he has left behind. His presence was bigger than I ever realized. I don't know how to explain it. But it just feels so wrong. When we're all together it doesn't feel like just one person isn't there. It feels entirely different. All of us cousins got together one night and it just felt so off. I guess the dynamic is changing, and that change hurts. A lot. It's heart breaking.
 
     We're all growing from this. One way or another. And I can't speak for everyone else I guess, but my empathy for drug addicts has grown so much. I also have an ever growing hatred for secrets and small talk. Life is short, let's be real and talk about what matters. Spend as much time as you can with the people you love and do something silly. Something you'll remember. Because death is a certainty for all of us. One day all we'll have are those memories, so make them and treasure them. This is how I'm growing, and it hurts, but I guess this is how we grow.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Wow that was rough!

So in April I had a breakdown of sorts, due to not being with my family in NJ on Easter. In this emotionally charged moment I made the decision that I would take the kids to NJ this summer, by myself. And it would be fine. It would be great. I had to do it.

Well on June 8th, with only about 2 hours of sleep, we took off for NJ. I rocked the airport. I had this idea the night before to tie ropes to my stroller for each child to hold on to. We looked like this walking through Sky Harbor.

Many people stopped me to tell me how genius this was, and how well behaved my kids were. I was feeling pretty good.

Then the flight was just rough. Olivia did amazing, sat two rows back in a window seat and I literally didn't see her the entire flight. Abigail and Nathan did pretty good, happy to watch shows on their tablets. The biggest issue was Abigail resting her feet on the seat in front of her. But the lady was mostly understanding, and Abigail was trying, she'd just randomly absent-mindedly put her feet out. Eliza however was a handful. She only slept for about 20 minutes of the entire 4 hour flight. But we did it.

Then about two nights into our trip Eliza screams all night. To the point that I'm thinking I should maybe go to the emergency room because none of my kids ever cried that loud for that long. It was really the most miserable night I've ever had. Ended up going to an urgent care type place at 7:00AM and they thought she might have coxsackie virus. She had a few sores on the insides of her cheeks. She also had an upset stomach and puked all over the waiting room. She was pretty grumpy the next week or so, but fortunately didn't have any more nights like that one.

Then a few days later I found myself back at the urgent care with Nathan. He had an ear infection and it was his turn to be a bit miserable.

But despite the lack of rest we had a lot of fun and made some great memories. My kids went to the Liberty Science Center, saw a puppet show of Jack and the Bean Stalk with their great-grandmother, went to the beach multiple times, went to Fun Time America, went to Chuck-E-Cheese, went the St. Mary's Fair, went to the Keansburg Boardwalk, went fishing with their Pop, and spent lots of time outside swimming and exploring. Lots of fun times. Fun for them, exhausting for every adult around them.

Then the day we traveled home was straight from hell. I don't even want to relive all the horrors of that day, but just know I cried, like sobbed, bawled, hysterically cried about 30% of the flight home. It was just so hard. And there was a lack of friendly faces, and people were just mean and I just wanted to be home. I wanted be home so badly that I wanted to drive 3 hours after the 5 hour flight. In my mind the kids would sleep in the car, when we got home Aaron would carry them to their beds where they would sleep peacefully the rest of the night and I would climb into my own glorious bed and sleep soundly. Of course it didn't go that well, no where near that actually. About an hour away from home Eliza starts puking. Everyone wakes up, we have windows down so the smell doesn't make everyone else throw up. About the same time I get a text from Aaron telling me our AC is broken and it's 88 degrees upstairs. So when we finally do get home everyone is wide awake and crazy, we have to clean puke covered baby, car seat and van. I can't sleep in my own bed because it's hot as heck, and I can't stop laughing, then crying, then laughing again. Fortunately my mother-in-law drove me home and she helped get kids in bed, and Aaron cleaned the puked on stuff while I cleaned the puked on baby, and I was so exhausted the couch made a fine bed. And they were able to fix the AC quickly that night.

Then the next day I start not feeling so hot. The day after that I know I'm definitely sick. I have strep throat again, and am living in the misery of high fever, body aches, and a throat so sore I can't swallow my own saliva. My saving grace through this is that at least it coincides with Aaron being off from work and I've been able to lay in bed and rest. Though I miss him so much I wish we could actually be spending time together instead of me laying in bed convinced I'm going to be the first person to die from strep throat.

And that's the start of our summer. Hopefully July is more restful!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Just getting up to date.


I've been neglecting this old blog of mine and I know I'll regret it. One of my favorite things to do is go back and look at old posts and remember all the things I have completely forgotten. So this post will just be a bit of getting caught up. My family was here last week (Mom, Dad and sister... I can't even begin to tell you how weird that feels, that that is my entire family. But that's a whole other post in and of itself). My cousin Jackie even came on Mother's Day. We had a great time. I wrote all the details in my actual journal so here I'll just share the pictures.








One day Nathan and I made a blanket fort in the living room and hung out in there for a while. At one point he told me he was Link and I was a tired old lady who just stayed in the house. That was definitely my favorite role to ever play in any of my kids games. I can definitely do tired, old lady really well. Then some magic turned us both into "Red Link" and we had "red boots, red sword, red shield, red shirt, red hat, and a red hook shot." It cracked me up. If you ask him what his favorite color is he says he likes all the colors. But whenever given the chance to ever chose something with a color he always chooses red. Sometimes I'll ask him who his favorite person is (hoping of course that he'll say me) and he always says, "I love allbodies. Aaaallll the peoples are my favorite." He's like 3.5 now and most of his words that he's said wrong forever he's figured out, but a few have stuck around and I think my heart will break when he says it right. Like allbodies, instead of everybody. And he says "drinky" instead of thirsty. With my older girls I was more concerned about them knowing the right words, but with him, I just realize how fast he's growing up and I'm just a-okay with his cute words. A little more about Nathan right now... he's such a protective brother. It's really cute, and really surprising to me. Because it just comes naturally. I swear he's more vigilant about watching Eliza than I am! I am a very laid back mom (probably to a fault!) and so when he's following her around and freaking out because she put something in her mouth it always catches me off guard because he really hasn't seen that modeled, it's just in his nature. Which melts my heart. And makes me grateful! And at times frustrated because sometimes I give her food, he doesn't know and freaks out because she's eating something and tried to get it out of her mouth which then sends her into a fit! But mostly it's adorable. He had to stay in the girls room when my family was here and now he really doesn't want to be alone and go back in his own room, so bed time has been fun lately.

This is a perfect representation of Eliza. Can't you just feel the attitude in this picture? And she's wearing a diaper and shoes only because she loathed the cute romper I had on her. Like screaming and tearing at it, and yelling until I finally gave in and took it off her. But she loved those shoes. When I tried to take those off for nap time she threw a fit similar to the romper fit earlier. Yes, this is a pattern. She is feisty, hilarious, smart, demanding, cuddly, and just so much personality it's bursting out of her. She waves to everyone, tries to repeat everything you say, loves to dance and read... she's completely and utterly exhausting. But we sure love her.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Words of wisdom from Abgail

Sometimes Abigail is super deep for a 5 year old, and she utterly inspires me. I don't think she realizes what she's saying is so brilliant or deep, but often times it strikes me as exactly what I needed to hear in that moment.

For example...

A few weeks ago she was hesitant to go in the pool because the water was freezing. She was running all around the outskirts of the pool, occasionally dipping her toe in. Then, to my shock, she yelled,

"What am I doing? GOODBYE FEARS! HELLO LIFE!" And just dove straight into the deep end of the pool.

So much can be learned from this moment, am I right??  So many metaphors. Goodbye fears, hello life.

Next example, we were on a bike ride. "We" in this sentence, meaning Olivia, Abigail, and me pulling Nathan and Eliza behind in the bike trailer. We're going along, with the rule "NO RACING!" (because someone always cries). But of course, even if it's not a race, it IS a race... and Abigail got distracted and was pretty far behind. I was a bit ahead because, well momentum! Pulling that trailer full of kid is not easy, so I just peddled along at a slow enough pace, but honestly I have no clue how far behind Abigail was. I didn't even realize she was far enough behind to be upset about it, until she was speeding past me with the world's largest grin on her face. When we got home she told me this: 

"Mom, I was so sad because I was so far behind you and Olivia, I just wanted to stop and give up. I thought I could never catch up. And then I said to myself, 'Well not like that, you won't!' And I just started thinking, 'I think I can, I think I can!' and I did it! That's how you do it."

I think we have a future motivational speaker on our hands. This plus her, "I can do hard things" mantra from her 3 year old self, is pretty unstoppable.

PS - I had other examples that left my brain the moment I started typing this. Maybe I'll come back and add to it later if they come back to me. (But don't hold your breath for that.)

Sunday, April 5, 2015

So this post started as a Facebook status but was getting too long so I decided to make it a blog post but I'm writing from my phone so please forgive me for the extra typos!

I've had all these thoughts lately that I want to share but for once the words escape me. I can't find exactly what I'm trying to say. So here are the facts then I will add my thoughts and maybe it will make sense.

My brother died on Friday January 2nd. But his death certificate says January 5th. 

This year Easter is on April 5th. 

The last time Easter was on April 5th was 1953. 

Also, not as infrequent but still fun fact, general conference was on Easter this year.

I do not believe in coincidences. I believe God is in the details of our lives. And I think, through the error of the date on his death certificate (it's debatable if it's really an error but I think it is) we are reminded of the resurrection and what it really means.

Here is another fact, the day after Christ was crucified and the day before Christ was resurrected, was a day of total darkness.  What were those people thinking? Did they understand his message? Did they have hope they would see their beloved Brother again? I think that dark day was very dark, in more ways than one. I can't say for certain because we don't know for sure, but based on their reactions when they heard He was risen, makes me think they were surprised and some doubtful. 

And only one was there at the tomb in the morning. Where was the blind he healed? The women he forgave? Those 5,000 he miraculously fed and taught... Where were they that first Easter morn? Had they already forgotten the miracles they experienced, as we so often do? In that darkness did they forget the hope and promise of Jesus Christ? But then He did it. He broke the bands of death and returned to his disciples, and brought with Him the light. 

And I think of us, in our day, living in our own darkness. Ours lasts longer than a day, but the pattern is the same. We were with Christ before we were born, and we will be reunited with him when our time on this earth is through. Meanwhile I hope I can be like Mary and actively seek after my savior. Serve him, love him, and tell everyone that He is truly risen!

I know I will see my brother again. I know he is not as far as he seems and before long this darkness will be over and I will be with my brother and Poppy again. 

So there, that's most of my thoughts. Maybe I can sleep now!

Friday, March 13, 2015

This week was the worst.

Tonsillitis is so painful. Started with muscle aches, fever, higher fever, exhaustion, then the kind of sore throat that's so bad you can't swallow your own saliva you are spitting into a cup. It was the worst. And all during Olivia's 7th birthday!  Today was the first day I woke up and felt pretty good, minus a headache. Then that tiny headache turned into the worst migraine of my life. 

I had to call people and ask for help several times this week. That never gets easy to me. I  am so grateful though for so many people who were so willing to watch my kids, clean my house, and cook my family dinner. Yuma may not be the most glorious place in the world but it is really full of some amazing people. So humbling to be served so much. 

So yeah this week goes down in the record books as one of the hardest, most miserable weeks of my 30 years on this earth. Hopefully it's over and the weekend will bring happiness!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Some late night thoughts about motherhood

I have some amazing, strong willed children. One particularly more strong willed than the others, and a baby who may just be following in those footsteps, time will tell. And I'm learning, and trying and some days are amazing. And some days are so hard. But I keep thinking about the phrase, "Have joy in your posterity." These babies are a blessing from God, to bring me joy! Not drive me insane. The more I remind myself of that, the better.

And the joy has come in some sweet little moments lately.

Tonight Olivia told me, out of the blue, "Mom you are just so cool." I have to write this down because I am sure the day is close on the horizon that she will never use me and cool in the same sentence ever again.

The other night putting Nathan to bed he gave me a big hug and said simply, "You're my mom."
There is really no reason that should have made me cry, but I found myself choking back tears nonetheless. I felt so unbelievably blessed to have this moment. And I was able to appreciate it. That doesn't happen too often!

Eliza has been extra cuddly lately. I just can't help but feel so blessed when she snuggles her head into my shoulder. And as I lovingly rub her back, she will wrap her little arms around me and mimic me, rubbing my back in return. Sweetest thing ever, am I right?

Abigail never gives up. We go to the park most mornings and she finally learned how to pump. And she exclaimed, "See Mom! That's what can happen if you never give up! You taught me that." Cue the tears. I so love that she has learned this lesson so early in life. And I hope she keeps it with her throughout her life. She loves to make us all laugh, and she has so much more going on in that little head than she ever lets on about.

I love these little people so much. And they do bring me so much joy. There is a scripture that we have adopted as our family scripture, "I have no greater joy than to know that my children walk in truth." I can certainly testify of its truth. There really is no greater than feeling than seeing your children grow and make wise decisions. My kids are all still so little, but even in these small things it brings my heart so much joy.

So far this post makes it seem like I really have my stuff together. I really don't. I feel the need to keep things real at all times on this blog, so I will tell you this... I have done the bare minimum lately. Laundry was so out of control it took my husband two days of hard work doing laundry nonstop to help get me back on top of it. I couldn't sleep tonight so I literally spent 30 minutes scraping who-knows-what off my kitchen floor. Took the kids to Chik-Fil-A for dinner, and Olivia kept stealing her sister's food, pretended to SNEEZE on her sister's food, and Nathan kept screaming at the top of his lungs over every little thing, and Eliza wouldn't stay in the high chair or stroller, and cried and squirmed until she was happily on my lap. My kids watch way too much TV, and play way too many video games... I really need to get that under control. So yeah, there's real life for ya!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Couldn't make this stuff up... Funny Abigail

Last night at 9:00 -- an hour and a half after I tucked her in, Abigail comes downstairs crying hysterically. Through her sobs she's able to tell me what's wrong.

"I *sob* want to be *sob* a clown *sob* and I'm afraid I'll never get the chaaance!" She wails at the end. And then when I hug her, unable to contain my laughter she sobs uncontrollably in my arms. Because she wants to be a clown, and she's afraid she'll never get the chance.

So this afternoon, I thought I could make all her dreams come true and dress her up like a clown and try to teach her how to juggle.

"So Abigail, you still want to be a clown?" I ask, anticipating her eager response.

Instead I laugh again as she replies, "No Mom. I changed my mind. Those funny days are all behind me."

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Eliza is ONE!

This cutie turned one on the 20th of January! Hard to believe, a year flew by so quickly! 



















Can't believe how quickly she's changing from a sweet little baby to this crazy little person who runs around destroying my house, and trying to hurt herself! She keeps us all on our toes, for sure.

She has a few words, and likes to say them over and over. Her newest word is, "Me?" She walks more than she crawls, though that didn't happen until this week. She knows where her nose is. She still takes two naps but is trying mightily to switch to one. It's been a rough transition! Though once we're through it I'll be grateful, because I feel trapped at home all day long because of naps. Eliza takes a morning nap from 9:30ish - 11:30 ish. Then Nathan takes an afternoon nap from 12ish - 2 ish, and then Eliza naps from 3ish - 5ish. So someone tell me exactly when I'm supposed to leave the house without sacrificing anyone's nap time. Because if I've learned one thing as a mom, it is that almost nothing is worth sacrificing nap time. So getting to a point where Nathan and Eliza both nap at the same time each day would be fantastic. 

And tomorrow I have to register Abigail for Kindergarten! Next year it will just be these two home with me, and Nathan desperately wants to start preschool, so maybe a few hours each day I'll just have Eliza. Whatever will I do with myself? And then the following year, no one will start school, but the next year Nathan will, then the next year no one, then the next year Eliza will! Life is changing so fast.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Grief

I should be posting about our Christmas and our trip to NJ... but everything is clouded by a giant fog of grief. While we were visiting my family in NJ, my brother died. I hate even writing that. I hate that this happened. The whole situation sucks. I stayed an extra to help my parents, be there for the funeral, etc. But the day after the funeral I had to come home and get back to my own babies.

Grief is a weird thing. It fogs your brain... it makes you hate the cat for having to go to the vet, because why should anyone have to go the vet when my brother is dead? And why are those homeless people alive, but my brother's not? And what did I come into this room to do? What was I supposed to do today? 

My mind is full of thoughts of wishing I could be closer to my family, overwhelming waves of guilt that I'm not closer, physically... Thoughts of how stupid drugs are. And what can I do to help other people never, ever do drugs? What else could I have done to help my brother? What's going to happen now? How is my mom ever going to go on? What can I do? What can anyone do? How is my sister? Like really, how is my sister? I need to be there for my sister. Why can't we just move to NJ tomorrow? Would that even help? Why is my stomach so linked to my emotions? This sucks. I hate that people think there's this certain type of person who does drugs.. I hate that anyone might think less of my brother because of his addiction.

One of the last conversations I had with my brother was when I gave him his Christmas present. I almost didn't even give it to him because it seemed so lame. It was an Old Spice gift bag that had deodorant, body wash, shampoo, and body spray. I sat in the car with it before going in to give it to him and I said to Aaron, "How lame is this? I'm giving my brother deodorant? Let's just leave it in the car." But then I thought, well he's staying at Nan's so maybe he needs manly smelling stuff, instead of using Nanny's shampoo. So I gave it to him with the warning that it was probably the lamest gift ever. And when he opened it, you would have thought I had given him like an Xbox or something else awesome. He was SO excited about the bag it was in, and went on and on about how perfect it was. That was my brother. He made you feel good and special. I hope we can all remember him as that.. Everyone talks about his smile, but really I think what people will remember is how he made them smile. My brother knew how to have fun and how to make people laugh. 

I hate that he was in so much pain. I hate that we all thought he was doing so well. I hate that he never got a chance to hit rock bottom. He was never arrested. He never got in a car accident. He never stole. He never went to rehab. People who OD go through all this first, right?? How is this possible? Why wouldn't he take me up on my offer and come live out here with me?

I am not sure I should even publish this. I don't want to disrespect my family by posting about what happened, but I don't think my family even cares. I think they want Jesse's story out there... this is what drugs do to you. Jesse always thought he was in control. He didn't want to die. He didn't think he had a problem. He thought he was smart. He told my mom he wasn't like those other people.  It started with a legit script for pain for his back. Please, if anyone in the world reads this blog, please be careful with those painkillers. I don't think anyone starts taking them thinking they're going to end up becoming dependent on them. And certainly no one thinks they're going to die from a drug overdose. 

Anyway now I'm rambling. But that's whats going on. And I'm trying to get through it.