Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Same Old Thing . . .

Every morning one of the first things Caleb says is, “what are we going to do today.” He hates when I answer, “were are just going to have a regular day.” It seems like we have been doing a lot of that lately. I am grateful that there is no drama. I am happy with our routine. In fact, I decided that I am not going to mail formal Christmas cards this year for the first time since I was a teenager. With the blog and facebook I feel like I am connected to so many people that Christmas cards every other year would be sufficient.

We are enjoying a simple Christmas season. The kids are so excited! Christmas is magical with little ones.

It has been a long couple of months with Ali. She is currently on her third round of antibiotics for a ruptured eardrum that will not heal. She doesn’t suffer quietly, and she refuses to nap. She sleeps 12-13 hours at night, but then only takes about a 45-minute nap in the day. Having a fussy baby that wont nap is driving me crazy. She can be really cute though. Most people think she is a great baby because when I am out I am holding her and she is perfectly happy when she is being held.

Imagine Ali and Andy next to each other in their baskets. I didn't get a decent picture of them together. Either one was looking or the other.

The other day Andy was suffering from what I call “post nap depression.” He was crying on the floor and Caleb was trying to cheer him up by naming all of his favorite things Caleb was saying, “Let’s find Mia. (Connie’s Dog) Where’s Ali? Do you want Grandma? Let’s have ice cream. Do you want candy?” He repeated those and similar phrases over and over. It is so fun to watch the kids together. They all love each other so much and want to take care of each other. Andy tries to echo everything that is said. He is so adorable I can hardly stand it.

Last month I overheard Caleb telling Cara that we were going to have 9 kids in our family. I corrected him and said we would have five or six. I asked them how many they wanted and they cheered six. Just to test it out I asked if they wanted 7 kids and they did. I came to the conclusion they love having siblings and want as many as they can have. It is true that my hands are full, but in a good way. Here they are playing in the $1.50 after Halloween solider costumes. Andy wears the hat around all of the time. I love it.

Cara has begun calling preschool “Art School.” She asks me, “Do I have art school today?” What do I do with all of this art?? She doesn’t get her artistic drive from me. When she isn’t at school she is at the kitchen table painting and coloring. Every once in a while she even comes up with something really quite great.

Caleb needs his two front teeth for Christmas, but he would never waste a Christmas wish on something he would get anyway. In fact he has made it clear he doesn't want any cloths. He just wants toys. Of course a puppy would be nice too. He always acts so tough after a tooth falls out, but loosing it terrifies him right up until it happens. He lost two of his first three teeth at church. The third was the best though. Right as sacrament meeting was starting Josh grabbed Caleb's arm and used it to flick Caleb who was being bad. Caleb's tooth started bleeding and he was screaming. Yes, church had started. Even though he hit it with his own hand he told everyone that his dad punched his tooth out.

For me this Christmas may be remembered as the Christmas of the Beards. I have been crocheting beards on hats for a friend. I am making good money doing it so I try to crochet every spare moment I can find and multitask as much as possible. I was looking for a hobby, but this is much better than a hobby because it pays and it is relaxing and off my feet.

The Sunday before Thanksgiving I gave a talk in sacrament meeting. The assigned topic was “The Windows of Heaven.” If you are interested you can find the talk here. I am a changed person from having given it. The talk reminded me to recognize how the Lord blesses me and my family and all faithful tithe payers. If you ever think you are not receiving blessings you just need to take a step back and recognize all that you have. I am so grateful for all of the miracles in my life.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

No Boys Allowed

Tonight I opened the front door to our house and found a "No Boys Allowed" sign. Cara wanted to make sure that the neighbor boys (who happen to be 10 and 11) know that she thinks they are mean and that they are not welcome at our house.

Today in a matter of minutes she sketched this artwork on our wall in pen. Gurrrrrrr.

As of last night when I started this entry and wrote the previous entry:

1. I found a hobby that is going to make me money rather than cost. I am going to be crocheting beard beanies for this company: Beard Beanie. I am going to meet with the gal today. I took 8 or so years of crocheting 4H growing up. Who know that it was a skill that would ever pay off?

2. Ali's ear drum burst so she isn't a bad baby after all. I had no idea that she was in pain from an ear infection, but it was literally dripping out of her ear this morning. Poor thing! This isn't a good sign to start her first winter with a ruptured ear drum. Both Caleb and Cara have tubes. That may be Ali's destiny as well.

3. Caleb has gone from peeing the bed four times a night to once a night for a full week. This is a major step in the right direction. (See "Mom, I've Got Great News")

4. My mom is having her third shoulder surgery in a year today. (She had a knee replacement and pins and a plate put in a broken wrist this year too.) This is the last option to avoid a full replacement. We are sure hoping for the best for her today.

Ali and Andy

I have been trying to think of a fun but free project to work on. We are in the grove of school and have a good routine that has left me with open time every day. (I know it is sick to have four kids six and younger and feel, I hate to say it, board.) I can only check my bank accounts hoping money has come in so many times in a day. I love multitasking and despise wasting time. I don't watch TV, in-fact we don't even have one. I used to sweep after every meal and vacuum at bed time every night, but I am trying to not "waist" so much time doing housework. I spend one on one time teaching my kids reading a piano every day. I could really use a hobby and it has to be free. I can't have reading as a hobby because it is addictive and when I am into a book I ignore my kids. So tonight it dawned on me that I have a new baby this year and that I needed to work on a Christmas stocking for her.

I am not crafty!!! There is not one single homemade thing in my house (except our window treatments which doesn't really count because it was more out of desperation than a desire to make something.) The one exception to this "no crafts" rule is our Christmas stockings. I started the first Christmas we were married. There was a stocking making project at "Super Saturday" and I made one for Josh and I. The next winter I was preggo with Caleb and added one for him to the collection. It was a vicious cycle because I now feel like I need to keep up the tradition. As a child I had a special stocking with my name on it so I thought that would be fun for my children as well. The stockings aren't that awesome, but they are a lot of work.

Andy was a Fall baby so I made his stocking shortly after he was born. Tonight as I went to get started on Ali's stocking I remember how special she is to our family. (This is great timing for such a reminder because some kind of crying, whining monster has taken over the body of my sweet baby. She is only happy being held. I am hoping it is her teeth and not a general personality problem. Currently I affectionately call her my "cry baby.")

Warning: the following story is personal, but I would tell any of you in person. I want to always remember this special experience. When Andy was born I felt the presence of another spirit. It was something like I have never experienced before. I remember being alone with Andy in the hospital room and looking over my shoulder knowing that there was someone else in the room. (I get teary thinking about this.) I knew that whoever was with us did not want to leave Andy. I felt like this spirit was lingering with him. Like it wanted to be with him as long as it could. It even scared me a little, I hoped that he wasn't going to die or something. I kept this experience quiet for a few days, but I kept feeling the presence of this spirit off and on even within the first weeks of being home. It was so real that at one point in my hospital stay I said out loud, "why couldn't you have just come together." I remember very distinctly telling Josh, "there is a girl lingering here in our home with Andy. She can't stand to leave him. We have got to get pregnant again right way." Josh recalls his response of totally agreeing. It wasn't until that moment that I had put a gender with the spiritual experience. I didn't really "know" that it was a girl and I didn't "know" that the spirit that was with Andy would be our next child, but that is what came out of my mouth. From that point on I felt an extreme urgency to have another baby. Andy and Ali were born 17 months apart.

So what does Ali's Christmas Stocking have to do with this? I was so certain that I would be having a girl soon and that we would name her Alice and call her Ali. I was so sure that I started her stocking at the same time as I did Andy's. When I got it out tonight the appliqué is all done. I even had her name ironed on. So here is Ali's stocking ready to be stitched and embellished, but made a year before she was even conceived.

I can't leave this entry without mentioning that Andy and Ali do have a very special friendship. Just this week I asked my friend her thoughts on Andy's special love for Ali. I wanted to see if it was just in my head, but she agreed that it isn't. He is so attentive to her. Who knows, as they get older, they may forget the special love that they had for each other in the preexistence, but they remember right now, and it is so sweet. I remember the first time Andy saw Ali at the hospital I know that it was a special reuniting. Many times a day I find Andy sitting behind Ali with his legs wrapped around her. It is nice to sit back and take a minute to remember how I love these special little babies and how I have so much to learn from them.

Monday, November 1, 2010

We made it

We made it through yet another Halloween. I'm not totally sure why I don't like Halloween. Maybe it is because I lack self control with all of the candy. Maybe it is because I threw-up in the school hall on Halloween in the 2nd Grade. Maybe because there is pressure to buy or make awesome costumes for my kids. Maybe it is because carving pumpkins is such a mess and I end up scraping all of them and then carving them too. Maybe it is because . . . I will stop.

The kids do love the holiday and I do my best to oblige. Caleb has been shopping online for his costume for months. He saved money in September and bought it as soon as he had the $13 required. He was excited about being a red power ranger although there were no masks allowed at school so he dressed as Jack Sparrow on Friday for school.

Cara had a harder time deciding what to be. She finally settled on Tinkerbell. Whenever I called her "Tinkerbell" she would say, "I'm not Tinkerbell, she doesn't wear a shirt under her dress." I am trying to teach her young that just because it is Halloween does not mean you get to dress immodest.

Andy was an adorable duck! Caleb and Cara also wore this costume when they were two. I love it. It gives them a big waddle bum and fat thighs. Andy caught right on that people would give him candy when he was dressed up so he had no problem wearing the costume.

Ali was a cute little ballerina. She loved to touch and eat her tutu.

There are a couple of other fall memories for which I just got pictures off of the phone that I would like to post.

One of the highlights of the fall was watching USU win BYU in football for the first time since the early 90s. We joined the USU fans in rushing the field. Caleb loved being on the field. You can see the event staff behind Josh and Caleb. They were guarding the goal post which the fans took down last time USU won BYU. We also went to many of the USU homecoming activities, but the game was rained out. It was crazy!

I love this picture. I took Ali and went to an evening primary meeting. Josh was tired and half jokingly told the kids to put themselves to bed and he went to lay down. When I came home Josh was asleep and Andy, Cara, and Caleb were on the floor next to our bed. They had put their PJ's on and put themselves to sleep. They are so cute.

Finally, I had to post this picture. Caleb hasn't seemed to notice that most of his dress-ups are getting too small. He has grown so fast. I have started putting away size 8 pants and he is still 6. He is bigger than most of the 8 year olds in our neighborhood. He isn't a big eater right now (unless it's candy) but I am scared for when he starts eating! Right now keeping him in pants is a big enough problem.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

“Mom I‘ve got great news”

A few nights ago Caleb got up at 8:30 PM (he had been in bed since about 8:00). He came into the living room and said, “Mom, I’ve got great news. I haven’t even wet the bed yet.” I told him that was great news and sent him back to bed.

A major part of my life right now is trying to get Caleb to sleep dry. I wouldn’t care so much, but he is such a big kid and big drinker that he wets through his pull-ups. (And every other brand of night dippers for kids.) I can’t stand the wet bed any more!!! (He will be 7 in February.) We are at our last resort – a bed wetting alarm. The alarm goes off every time it gets wet. The idea is that there is an instant consequence and awareness when he wets. We have been working on it for three weeks. I get up with him four times almost every night. It is like clock work. He did have two nights that he only wet once and I thought we were almost there, but it must have been a fluke because we are back to four times every night.

It feels like it has been a long journey. He has had five to ten dry nights in his entire life. For years I waited for a dry night to reinforce and to build upon, but that didn’t ever happen. We have met with his pediatrician multiple times and his doc thinks that it is based on the fact that he sleeps extremely deeply. He does crazy things in the night when his alarm goings off which confirm how deeply he sleeps. First of all he doesn’t even hear the alarm which sounds like a fire alarm. When I say, “get your alarm off” he questions “what alarm?” Can’t he her the screaming that is pinned to the shoulder of his shirt? He is totally confused in the night. When I tell him to finish going potty he climbs in the tub. He pulls his dry underwear over his wet ones and a million other things. Part of the learning is making the child get on dry cloths, sheets, etc. Caleb is so out of it Josh can’t help him. It makes Josh crazy!! Currently Caleb has the incentive of a new basketball if he sleeps dry. Every morning he says, “MOM, I get my new basketball!” He can’t even remember the experiences of the night. (He is going to be NO HELP when he has children.)

We have tried avoiding fluids in the evening as much as possible although nothing makes a child thirstier than being deprived of a drink. Of course, we have tried waking him many times in the night to go. We did that for months with out even a sign of success, which ruled out a capacity issue. He has had his tonsils out which helps some children. We have also tried two medications DDAVP, which had no apparent influence on him, as well as another medication, which gave him unbelievable hallucinations. It was very scary. We have also tried a great children’s hypnotherapy book “Dry All Night.” It was actually that book that got Cara to stop wetting in the night just a few months ago. (I made the mistake of not allowing her to get out of the crib in the night when I potty trained her or else she would have slept dry from the beginning. It was hard to back peddle.) We had been reading that book every night as part of our bed time ritual and Cara began to consistently have a dry pull-up and then on her own began to wear underwear at night. I asked her how she stopped wetting the bed and she said, “I thinked about it.”

So here we are . . . at our last resort. It is painful, but it will be worth it when he sleeps dry. Bedwetting is hard on the child, and it is hard on the parents. I sure hope this will take care of it forever for him. A few nights ago as I kissed him good night (for the third time) and told him that I loved him I thought of the girl he will someday marry. All I can say to her is that “we are doing the best we can.”

Not only is Caleb keeping me up in the night, but Ali has turned into a little night crier. I am not talking about a little fuss here and there. She does not sleep well!! I keep thinking it is teeth, but nothing has broke through. She wakes up several times during each nap, and she is easily disrupted during the nights. I haven’t had the heart to let her cry it out so she had been getting nighttime bottles up until this week. Now she has got a “new room” in the basement storage room. I have a lamp in there, and it is plenty warm. It is perfect because I can hear her when I am in the kitchen and at my desk, but I can’t hear her when I am in my bedroom. She hasn’t been awake when I have been up with Caleb so as far as I know she is sleeping through the night now! I think she does better without Caleb’s alarm going off every few hours.

I hate to admit it, but she isn’t the perfect baby. She has become extremely high maintenance. She is harder than any other baby I have had. She wants to be held! What is up with that? I am supposed to have perfect content babies.

Speaking of perfect babies – Andy. He is such a joy! He is in the best, most adorable and wonderful stage. He is talking like crazy and the things that he says are so cute. He repeats everything he hears. The other day Cara was trying to teach him how to play Duck, Duck, Goose. She said, “You’re the Goose.”
He said, “You’re the Goose.”
She said, “NO, you’re the Goose.”
He said, “NO, you’re the Goose.”
She said . . . you get the idea. They bantered back and forth for a while and then she gave up on teaching him the game. Today they had a similar banter with the words, “come here.” Another thing that I love about Andy is the way that his cheeks bounce when he runs. He is so dang cute!! He loves to get his hair done, and to go out and play with the kids. He hurries to the car when it is time to go in order to sit in Caleb’s booster. He hopes that if he is all set up he can sit in the back with Caleb and Cara rather than in his car seat next to Ali. He generalizes many words. He knows how to say drink, milk, and juice, but when he wants a drink he usually says “water”. He NEVER wants water! Caleb’s best friend is Isaac. Isaac has two brothers Henry and G. Jessie that Andy LOVES to play with. He has generalized the whole family to be “Isaac’s.” They are all “Isaac’s.” I have had Caleb begging me to play at Isaac’s for five years, now I get to hear it from Andy. There is nothing that I don’t absolutely adore about Andy right now!

9:53 Caleb just hit his first sleep cycle so I guess I can go to bed until he hits the next one! Besides if anyone has read this much you must really love me.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Terrific Twos

Andy has hit the terrific twos. He is a complete joy. If every two year old were like him they really would be called the terrific twos. He is such a teaser, but in a really sweet way. He loves to kiss. He often puts his cheek, forhead, hand or even lips up to my mouth for me to kiss. He rarely gets into trouble. He isn't a big explorer or mess maker, and he hardly ever even throws tantrums. (I hope I'm not jinxing myself by writing this.) He is becoming a great talker. He is a little echo and shadow for Caleb and Cara.

His birthday was really low key. Thanks to Grandma Iva and Connie for creating a little bit of a party.

Like I've mentioned before, he is really shy with the camera, and he was totally clueless about what to do with the candles. He had his mouth full of pizza when Josh brought him the cake so he just chewed and looked at it.

I had to add this picture because he just loves his cup. He would love to drink all of his calories in the form of milk. I sure love this boy!

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Kids

We took the opportunity to take individual pictures of the kids so I will also take this moment to give a little update on each of them.

Ali . . . is now seven months. She is growing so fast. She has become an independent sitter and gets so much attention. She is at that wonderful stage where napping is how she spends most of her day. She used to sleep through the night, but she has recently decided that she would like a bottle at 3AM. I will be putting a stop to that soon, but she is generally a good baby. She has been chomping on her thumb for a few weeks and drooling like crazy. I hope she is teething and not just cranky. She looks down all the time when she is sitting so 95% of the pictures of her were of the top of her head, but I sure think she is cute when she is looking up.

Andy is a total joy! He is talking like crazy and really wants to be one of the big kids. He wants to play soccer with Caleb and loves it when his brother will play any ball with him. He doesn't even mind when Caleb plays tackle football with him. He loves to get his hair done. He says, "hair, cute" and points to the bathroom counter. He is so happy and go-lucky, but he hates getting his picture taken. He freezes right up and refuses to smile. The only pictures in which he is smiling is if we asked him "where's Ali?"

Cara is not quite as sweet as she used to be. She is discovering her independence and really wants to be the boss of herself. She can throw a tantrum with the best of them. She sleeps on the top bunk, and when she is mad she lays on her bed and kicks the wall. She loves being busy and wants to be with her friends all of the time. She has abandoned the boys that she used to play with and only wants to hang out with the girls unless of course the boys will play house with her. She calls it "the mom and dad game". Today I asked her to tend Ali and Andy while I went for a walk. (Josh was home too.) Her reply was "how much scoops." She was wondering how to make the formula for Ali. She is already looking forward to being a baby sitter, and she was extremely pleased that I asked her.

Caleb is really enjoying 1st Grade. He wonders why he doesn't have any time to play, but he doesn't complain too much. He is in one of the top reading groups. Unfortunately he is struggling with math. (I can relate.) Numbers are very abstract for him. We were trying to add units of 12 for his homework last week and he couldn't do it because he didn't have that many fingers. He needs manipulatives for almost all of his math. (In talking to his teacher today I guess his skills for math are on grade level so far.) I am taking suggestions on how to help him. He is really enjoying soccer, but he CAN'T WAIT to start basket ball. He dribbles his ball everywhere. After pictures we went out to Arctic Circle for 60 cent hamburgers. Caleb ate two hamburgers and a corn dog! Oh boy, how am I going to keep my boys fed as they grow.

Josh continues to work day in and day out. There have FINALLY been a few real estate deals close this summer. I feel like he has three years of working without pay to make up for, and we have the debt to match it. We are really looking forward to improvements in commercial real estate so that we can get out of the hole. His name is all over town. (It's almost like he is a celebrity.) He should be very well positioned for when things improve. He is enjoying doing graphic design. He hasn't taken on too many clients, and I am so grateful for the way he has been able to bridge the gap in our income by freelancing. He is so talented! He was released from Young Mens this summer after about six years. (I was very happy about it, but he was sad.) He is now teaching the 10-11 year olds in primary. He has a huge, crazy, giggly class, but he is enjoying it. He thinks anything is better than going to Elders Quorum.

I am sincerely enjoying staying home. Having four kids is not been nearly as difficult as I had anticipated. Caleb is my highest energy child and with him gone to school seven hours a day I can get a lot done. Car pooling has also worked out awesome with Cara so that has helped as well. My life is my kids and my calling. I am the first counselor in a primary with over 150 children and a staff of over 50. It is almost like a ward within the ward. I really enjoy it!! The kids are adorable, and I am really grateful for work that primary teachers do. My life is really good, and I count my blessings every day.

Family Pictures

I believed family pictures were SO HARD when we had two children. I had no idea!! My standards have changed dramatically. I am happy with a picture in which everyones head is in the same general direction. Looking is a bonus, and smiles are optional. I prefer no tears, but can sometimes even look past the tears. After two photo shoots and more than 400 pictures, following are my top picks. (While we are taking them Josh always says, "oh, I can photoshop that." Yah, right. He is too busy doing other peoples work so what we took is what we get.)

This group picture is a perfect example of when some photo shop skills would do me some good. Two kids looking in one picture, and the other two looking in the next picture.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I Really Love My Husband: A Night with Search and Rescue

I really love my husband which is why I agreed to hike the Wellsville mountains with him yesterday. Josh grew up just below these mountains touted as the "steepest mountains in the world." (They are steepest because of the narrow base. I know it doesn't make sense, but you can google it.) I AM NOT A HIKER, but I have been dieting and thought it would be a great work out so with a lot of persuasion I decided to go with him. We had talked to many sources that told us it would take "all day" to hike to the top of Wellsville peak. When we would pry for more information they would say that it takes about four hours if you are hiking without to many breaks to get to the peak and that it is much quicker to get down.  

Mistake number one: we are not hikers nor are we in great shape. Hiking the Wellsvilles is not a small undertaking. We probably should not have spontaneously picked such a vigorous hike.

Mistake number two: we left later than we should have. We left our house at about 2:00 and we were on the mountain by 3:00PM with the commitment that we would turn back by 6:00PM no matter where we were. We know we were racing the sun so we hiked as hard as we could and made it to the summit by about 5:40. IT WAS NOT EASY. The views at the summit were breath taking. We could see all the way to the Great Salt Lake on the south west side, and by just turning our heads we could see all of Cache Valley.

Mistake number three: at the summit we decided to continue up and go to Wellsville Peak. We had already come so far and we had been told that hiking along the ridge from the summit to the peak was not nearly as hard and that it would only take about an hour. I make many decisions in my life based on the desire to avoid regret. I never wanted to hike to the summit again so I figured I had better "finish" what I had started and hike the rest of the way to the peak so that I wouldn't regret it later. We wanted to make good time so we were pushing ourselves. The views were really unbelievable. (I will post some pictures soon.)

When we got to the peak I was shivering and not feeling well. I had been "working out" for just over four solid hours, it was compared to doing 13,000 steps. I was shivering even though I didn't feel really cold, and I even told Josh that I felt like I was experiencing shock symptoms. In hind site at that point he felt a little panicky, which he didn't let on to me until today. It was now 7:00PM and we had intended to head back to the car by 6:00. The sun was beginning to set and we were tired.

Mistake number four: we decided that it would be easier to hike along the ridge and go down a different way than we had hiked up. Instead of doing the steep trail we had just taken up we were hopeful that this other way would get us to a car a little faster. As we came down from Wellsville Cone we saw a trail that went down instead of staying on the ridge and heading back up to the next peak, Box Elder Peak, the two highest peaks on the Wellsvilles. (Later in the night we learned that trail was a hunting trail so it had no real destination, just a place to camp.)

Mistake number five: it made perfect sense to us to just head down. We figured that any trail would lead to the base. We could see Mendon, and it didn't seem very far. We just wanted the quickest way down. We head down some very steep terrain and at some point we lost the trail. We were sure that we would run into another trail. What we didn't know is that we were headed into nearly unpassable ridges, ravines, cliffs and brush so thick that even a horse would not be able to pass though it.

A little after 8:00PM we called Josh's parents who were tending our kids. We told them that we were in trouble, that we had lost the trail and that it might take us a couple more hours to get home than we had anticipated. I was concerned because I wanted the kids to get a good night sleep because it was the primary program in the morning and we have early church. We asked his parents to take the kids home. We also got on the phone with Gabe and April, Josh's brother and sister and had them searching the internet for any trail that came down from Wellsville and Box Elder peaks.

Josh and I got along amazingly well. I knew that he was really sorry that we were in such a mess so I didn't need to yell at him or make him feel worse about the situation. (Possibly I didn't have the energy to be angry either.) He was very kind to me and just kept encouraging me. He was trying to keep our spirits up. Later I learned that he was as scared as I was, but he put on a great game face. As we were wondering trying to avoid cliffs and major ravines I just kept thinking, "I have covenanted to follow him so I am just going to follow. I don't have any ideas that will get us out of this mess." Working together was a great blessing.

At about 9:00PM Josh's dad called Search and Rescue. By then it was totally dark except for the moonlights, but even the moon set at some point in the night. We would not have called that early, but now we are so grateful he did. We were really miserable but we didn't feel like we were in a life-threatening situation as long as we could keep our feet planted on the steep mountain. At 9:22 I received the return call from Dispatch. We were still inching our way down the mountain. The woman was so nice. She took information and tried to comfort us. I told her I had to get back for the Primary Program!

At 9:51 we received our first call from Jake the Chief Police over Search and Rescue. He told us that we needed to turn around and go back up to the peak and take Rattle Snake Trail into Sardine Canyon and Search and Rescue would meet us there. Josh told him that there was no physical way we could hike back up. At that point we didn't realize what our bodies could handle, but we had been hiking down for almost three hours. He told us to get to a clearing where we could see Wellsville and to turn on our headlamp. (Josh had packed some very smart things. First he packed a ton of water bottles. In order to protect his back from the water bottles he packed a full size towel, which came in very handy to help to keep us warm. Finally the spirit prompted him to pack a headlamp, which is what made it possible for Search and Rescue to locate us.)

The Search and Rescue team was amazing. Cache County has 35 guys on the all-volunteer team. It happened to be their Demolition Derby Fund Raiser that night and so they were all together. They average 40 calls a year, but they happened to be out saving a mountain biker in Logan Canyon and they were returning to town when they got our call. Because they were all together originally for the Derby, Chief Jake was able to pick the dream team of hikers to rescue the mountain biker who had to be carried out from an accident, and then us. These men were so skilled and so kind. My perspective of Search and Rescue has forever been altered. Next time I read, "Cache County Search and Rescue was dispatched" I will have a little bit better understanding of what these men sacrifice to SAVE PEOPLE, and how much time and effort goes into that one simple sentence.

Lance was the first on the rescue team to get to us at about 1:00 AM. At that point we were literally trying to scale down a cliff. He saw us from across a ravine and yelled "stay right there I am coming to you." We could not believe how he scaled down and back up that ravine. His talent was unbelievable. I told him that I had never wished to be a mountain goat, but it would have been handy. He made us laugh when he radioed in and between giving our location he bahed like a mountain goat. He was so kind. I thought that Search and Rescue might point out the stupid decisions that we had made along the way, but during our initial visit he said "I hope that one of the last feelings you are feeling right now is embarrassment." He explained that he was happy to spend his night out helping us. I owe my ability to get down the mountain to Lance. He offered me his shoulder, his arm or his hand for the next 4.5 hours as we hiked to the bottom. He cleared brush for me and when we would pass though stinging nettle or super thick brush he would have me hold on to his pack and duck behind him and he would blaze though it for me. I hardly had the energy to hold out my arms to protect myself from the brush. I was very proud of myself for continuing to walk though and tried to keep a respectable pace.

Josh's spirits were great especially once we got with Search and Rescue. He was very tired and grateful that Lance was helping me so much. He did feel like we were all lost together, but he kept telling himself, these guys would get as down they are professionals, even though most of them were younger than us. They had the right tools to get us down. He was relieved but so exhausted. They kept reminding us that we needed to put safety first and that we could take a break whenever we needed. At this point my muscles, feet and really every part of my body hurt so bad that taking a break provided no relief so the best thing was just to keep moving which is what we did hour after hour. Lance kept saying to me, "one thing I know for sure is that we are getting closer."

We had an unusually long time to get to know our rescue team, and we had great conversations getting to know them. Jason's wife is a veterinarian in the Army and she had been gone for three months and she had just returned that day. He still took the call to come rescue us on what would have been their first night back together as a family. I think Ron was part deer. He is an older gentleman who does 100-mile trail races. Josh really trusted him. Finally there was Vic who did a lot of the trail blazing and scouting. He had night vision goggles that helped him to find a route that was passable, and did stop us from getting sprayed by a skunk.

When I talked about how grateful I was, and also how embarrassed, Lance would tell me that it is all about how I present the story. He said that I should tell people that we had four escorts to experience a portion of the Wellsvilles that very few humans have ever experienced, and that I am very possibly the only woman to have ever hiked down the most challenging ridges of the Wellsvilles.

We reached the forest line a little after 5:00AM and radioed for Jake and Darien who were part of the base camp crew to come and pick us up in some grass field. We took a few minutes to lay on our backs while we waited for them. We turned off our headlamps and to looked at the stars. It was really great to count our blessings.

We returned to our home at 6:30AM. At 4:30AM Erica, or dear friend, had taken over staying with the kids for Josh's dad who need to get to work. We looked so bad when we walked in Erica couldn't help but laughing. She even pulled out her phone video camera to show how dirty we were and how we were limping. She and I visited for a while and then it was time to get ready for church. I was so glad to make it to the Primary Program. By the time I got to bed at about noon I had been awake for more than 28 hours, 14 of which were hiking. I am grateful to be surrounded by people who are willing to help and allowed us to sleep this afternoon. I may never walk normally again. My knees currently are the worst. They wont bend, and they are terribly swollen. Poor Josh hiked through all of that brush in shorts. His legs are stripped raw. We need a little recovery time, but as with all hard things in life there were lots of lessons to be learned.

I have to mention a few lessons even though I need to get some sleep. I am sure there are more, but here is a start.

Lesson number one: our bodies can do more that we could ever imagine. If you would have told me at 7:00 when I was on the peak feeling like I was in shock that I would be hiking for ten more hours I would have told you that there was no human way possible, the key is to continue putting one foot in front of the other.

Lesson number two: the world has great men who are will to put themselves in questionable positions in order to save the lives of others. They provide their own supplies and donate their time to do good.

Lesson number three: how do you thank your savior? We don't know how to express adequate gratitude to these men who we feel really saved us and returned us home safely.

Lesson number four: things are not always as they seem. It might be logical to move down the mountain, and just because we could see Wellsville does not mean it was close.

Lesson number five: when hiking ALWAYS pack lots of water, a lighter, and a flashlight. Follow the spirit!

Lesson number six: stay on the trail!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cara's an Aggie

Cara is in the USU lab preschool this year. I wanted to do Joy School again, but I couldn't get enough people who were interested. Luckily I signed Cara up for the lab preschool when she was a baby so I wasn't terribly concerned about her getting in. One of my main concerns with doing a preschool that isn't Joy School (or a neighborhood coop) is spending hours on the road, but my back up plan has worked out AWESOME. There are two other kids from Providence in Cara's class and they both happen to live in our neighborhood. One of the mom's has to be at the University at pickup time anyway so she is picking up every day so I just have to drop the three of them off twice a week. I feel so blessed that it has worked out so well. Also, it is an amazing deal. She goes 2.5 hours four days a week and it is only $210 a semester. I would be paying more than that for almost any other two day a week preschool in the valley. There are five "teachers" and 20 kids in her class. I think it will be a wonderful experience for her.

She is going to be a very busy four year old. Not only does she have preschool four days a week (which is really more than I would like) but she also has speech three mornings a week. The reality is that she will have more school this year than she will next year in kindergarden. She does love to get out, and she seems to be settling into her new routine quite well.

It only took the first three days of preschool for me to realize that our house may be too small for the amount of art Cara brings home. The lab school is extremely self directed with a open curriculum. In fact, the first 1.5 hours the children can choose what station they would like to be at. I get the feeling that Cara spends most of her time at the art station. On the first day of school she brought home this giant painting and hung it on the fridge. It covered both sides so that the fridge couldn't be opened.

Two days later she brought home all four of these art projects. She painted and stuffed a cloud, she made a beaded necklace, she painted tin foil and she made a mask. There must be a monster that eats art projects in our house because one by one they disappear. I don't know how much she will study her alphabet or learn her numbers at school, but she is LOVING the art!

I created this post while she was at school. I had to add one more picture of the projects she did on the day of the post. So . . . I guess the garage is the new "art room."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Something Special about Cousins

My parents have 10 grandchildren, and my kids are lucky enough to have cousins very close to their age. My sister Christie (who is just 14 months younger than me) had her first, Kate, on June 8 three months after Ali was born, March 8. (Cathie's baby Dax is a September birthday so he will also be in the same grade as the girls.)

Here Kate and Ali are snuggled up playing in the bouncy chair . . .

Just before they fell asleep.

At one point while we were together the girls were laying on the floor mat together. Kate was fussing until Ali stuck her arm in Kate's mouth for her to pacify. They will be great friends.

Andy's special cousin friend is Danny, my only brother Cody's boy. They are almost four months apart in age. They are just getting to the point that they can play together. Danny likes to bully Andy, which is the story of Andy's life so Andy just thinks that it is a sign of love.

Cara and Emi, Cathie's little girl, are also great friends. They were the only girls until Ali was born. They are a little further apart in age, 15 months, but they are all girl. They have a great time together.

I don't have a picture from this last trip (Cathie and her family were here in August which naturally leads to a family reunion) but Cara also gets along very well with Corbin who is just younger than Cara and smart as a whip.

Caleb's best cousin friend is Colter. Colter is 11 months older than Caleb, although Caleb is way bigger, a fact that Colter has gotten used to. Their personalities are VERY different. It doesn't matter though, there is just something special about cousins because they love their time together.

On a side note, one of my dear friends, Hilary, has started calling Andy J.J. for Josh Junior. Andy's personality comes out more and more all the time. He is such a little teaser. He prentends to bite or teases in other ways just to get a rise out of people. He laughs and loves to play. He is also talking more and more. It doesn't take much to impress me, but I am totally impressed. I think he is well above the 50 word bench mark for a baby turning 2. I love to watch his cheeks bounce when he runs, and he loves to be with Caleb and Cara.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Stitches, Dance Camp, and My 33rd Birthday

We know that stitches were inevitable with four active children. In fact, July 1st we signed up for an AFLAC accident insurance policy. It wasn’t a surprise that Caleb was the first have an unquestionable need for stitches. If you think that I am an irresponsible parent please stop reading here, but if you promise not to pass judgment you may continue. Here is the quick story: We were at a family reunion at my parents and my cousin brought some awesome miniature four wheelers. Caleb went for a ride with a few people including Josh, who was riding right next to him. Apparently Caleb was doing a great job driving, and he was in heaven. He couldn’t have been happier when he took off. At one point he turned to see Josh and he turned the wheels as well, right into a barbed wire fence. We were REALLY lucky that he walked away with only a few scratches, and that he didn’t crash at some other point in the road. It could have been so much worse.

It wasn’t a pretty sight, and he very obviously needed stitches so my sister Connie and I took him into the Preston ER. He received great care and six total stitches.

On a happier note, Cara participated in a Dance Camp with the high school Caprielles a few weeks ago. She loved it and was with her best friend Korinne. She and Korinne and another girl who live in the Cal-de-sac, Taylor, have been inseparable this summer. Now that it has cooled off a little, Cara has a very tight social agenda from about 9 AM to about 6 PM when I make her come in for dinner. The girls can be found hanging out in any of the three garages. (Going in each other’s houses has been off limits although they are sneaking that in a little more often.) This week they have used almost all of the supplies in our first aid kit bandaging themselves and their dolls. They are so darn cute it is hard to get mad at them, and whenever they know they have done something bad they clean up the mess making it hard for me to come up with a consequence.

So I turned 33 on August 28th. My best friend, Erica, keeps reminding me how old that is. I guess I am officially in my mid thirties. For some reason I have no problem with getting older. I feel very content with the things that I have accomplished and with age I feel like I have a few more things under my belt, like I am more credible.

Erica’s husband, Dave, planned an awesome date weekend that happened to fall over my birthday. He sure got Josh off the hook. We spent Friday night and Saturday in Bear Lake with NO KIDS! I haven’t been childless since before Andy was born. It was really nice! We took in two shows at the Pickelville Playhouse. I love live theater although I was expecting these shows to be really small town. I was blown away with how entertaining they were. I can be really critical, but I give them a 10 out of 10 for entertainment. I haven’t laughed that hard for a LONG time. Saturday we had a great time jet skiing, four wheeling, and visiting. It was a fantastic birthday weekend.

Okay, so I admit that there are some disadvantages of getting older. My body isn’t what it used to be. I have had terrible Plantar Fasciitis (foot pain) this summer. I have even resorted to icing my feet multiple times a day and wearing tennis shoes most of the time. I hate it. I also have really blotchy skin on my face. I got it REALLY bad when I was preggo with Andy, and it has never fully gone away. The sun makes it way worse. In fact, I am having a hard time being willing to post a birthday picture because my skin looks bad. Finally, my weight has always been consistent within five pounds, even through my pregnancies, but currently I am chubbier than I have ever been by 15 pounds. Today I wrote the following letter:

Dear Baby Weight,

I am writing to inform you that I have finished breast-feeding, you have served your purpose, and now it is time for you to go. You represent a pregnancy in which Zofran did its job. I appreciate that you have not joined me with my other pregnancies although I would choose you over constantly throwing-up which is why you have never been around before. I would invite you to stick around due to my love for food, but I have come to the conclusion that I like fitting into my pants more than I like food. I don’t think the “muffin top” is a good look for me. You will have to leave - the sooner the better!!! I have joined and I look forward saying good by to you – until next time. If you try to blame a slow departure on my age or metabolism I am not against going to extreme measures, but I would appreciate your cooperation.

Your Desperate Victim