Monday, April 18, 2016

Life isn't all Roses

Life isn't all roses . . . in fact sometimes it is down right crappy.  This blog is our family journal.  For the five people that read it, I don't mind sharing some of the hard things. I want to look back and remember the good times, but the reality is that things aren't always great.  We aren't always on some awesome family adventure.  We have our hard times, just like every family. Sometimes they come to a head and life can feel dang hard. Just so you don't get the impression that I'm not grateful for my life, I am.  I realize that I am "Living the Dream."  I have five beautiful and healthy children.  I have a caring, loyal, and hard working husband.  I have the gospel of Jesus Christ that brings me faith and hope. People may look at me and think my life is perfect, but the reality is, no one has a perfect or "easy" life.

Let's start with Caleb. Caleb has struggled for years.  I knew he was a hard and defiant preschooler, as cute as he was.  In kindergarten he was put on his first behavior plan.  At the end of 4th grade he was diagnosed with ADHD and we started working with therapists because of his defiant and emotional behavior.  Middle school has magnified his weaknesses.  To say it has been a tough year would be a colossal understatement.  Luckily he does have two best friends.  They are good boys, but not the kids I would hope he'd choose as best friends.  They are also immature and spend too much time on video games.  Luckily they are accepting and forgiving. Caleb also go's to an incredible school.  The teachers are on the ball and don't just let incomplete assignments or failed tests go.  Unfortunately I'm getting to know his teachers really well. 

This past week Caleb was goofing around during a class and it turned into a bullying situation with Caleb being hurt.  It put us both into a tail spin.  Later that day he even got kicked out of the class of one of his favorite teachers.  I was on the phone with the teacher talking about the bullying when I missed the call from the other teacher.  One thing he said has rung in my ears was, "I still don't think he clearly understands why it is wrong to not do what he is told."  I feel like YES, that is my life.  He won't do what he is told.  I can either fight with him or just say "okay" and hope that he ultimately makes the decision that is best.  Parenting him is harder than I could have ever imagined.  Someone said we should thank him because he makes the other kids all seem so easy. I chuckle because of the trueness of that statement.

Before raising Caleb I may have been someone who would have judged parents for putting their children on medication.  Caleb has been on methylphenidate for his ADHD since the summer before 4th grade. It SAVED us for the past couple of years.  He stopped taking it this winter.  He just refused.  Last week I took him to the doctor to discuss other options.  He is now starting Citalopram which will hopefully help with his "oppositional defiance". Hopefully it will take the edge off of his behavior so we can focus more on thriving in life. 

I have to admit that another thing that makes me slightly crazy is seeing how much potential Caleb has in so many things and watching him play the game of life half-heartedly.  He loves sports, but he refuses to get all in.  Once it starts to feel like work he taps out.  This year he begged to play lacrosse.  It was a $400+ investment for Josh and I to get the equipment and get him registered.  He wasn't even a week in before he decided that he didn't really want to play.  It makes me want to pull my hair out!! He could be so great at basketball, but he refuses to put in the time. I could go on. 

The crazy thing about all of this is that I believe Caleb's nature is good.  He isn't drawn to evil or bad things.  He doesn't even ask to watch PG13 movies.  He doesn't lie, steel or cheat.  He is a loving and playful brother. He just doesn't not want to be told what to do, or even gently guided, and he refuses anything that appears to him to be work. What a crazy journey we are on!!

Cara by nature is happy and helpful, but she is starting to have mood swings that turn her into a beast.  She is especially grumpy if she is woke up before she is ready.  Luckily she wakes up on her own easily, because it is dangerous to wake that girl.  The hardest thing for my heart is watching her inability to read. She loves to cook and takes advantage of every opportunity to be in the kitchen.  The sad thing is that she can't read recipes.  Last week I was at a Relief Society service project and she called me on face time.  She asked about making cookies and I gave her permission.  She proceeded to turn the camera so I could read the recipe to her.  I didn't have time to do that.  It was just one example of a simple thing that we can do that presents a real challenge for illiterate people. 

I know that having disobedient children is not something unique to our family, but it is sure making me crazy.  I swear, my kids don't even acknowledge my requests 75% of the time.  Lately I have been feeling like the maid and the cook around here.  I'm not sure how to make this all change, but something has got to change!!

Josh received some bad news this week.  He has one major client that has provided about half of his work as an independent contractor for the past 5+ years.  That client informed him this week that they would be finding a new graphic designer.  Josh charges a lot, and they want one that will be in their office more of the time.  Josh provides us with a great lifestyle, but it is really stressful and hurtful to be loosing this major client.  Josh and I both feel that an even better opportunity will show up, but this news has certainly added to my gloomy feelings this week. 

Here is another harsh reality.  I am 5' 10" and weighed a healthy 155 lbs through college and after each one of my baby's - until Johnny.  For the past four years I have weighed around 170 lbs except when I have been on intense diet/exercise programs.  For the past few weeks I have been nearly starving myself eating 1200 calories a day and exercising and the scale hasn't budged.  It is so discouraging! I want to run with my kids, but my knees swell and ache when I do.  My mom had her knees both replaced when she was 50. My feet THROB every night.  I used to think it was plantar fasciitis, but it isn't my heels.  It is the bottom of my entire foot.  My mom was diagnosed with bone on bone arthritis in her feet this winter. Is that my problem?  Heaven spare me from being crippled!!  I'm trying to create a weight-loss and a health plan that will spare me, but it does feel discouraging to have these genetic setbacks. 

Despite all of my wonderful blessings.  The rainy/snowy spring weather and the list of discouragements above have had me feeling really gloomy.  Maybe I just needed to get it all out.  Now it is a new week.  The sun is shining, and the forecast is for warmer weather.  One week is long enough to feel sorry for myself.  I guess I'll pick myself up and get back to work!

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Epic Maiden Voyage

We took our first big "camping" trip for spring break last week in our motor home.  We hit three national parks in 9 days.  The motor home provided an awesome way to travel.  We weren't even an hour into the trip when I saw the kids all happily coloring together and I decided that having a table and a bathroom are the only way to do a road trip! 

Our first stop was in Cedar City to visit our dear friends.  We spent two nights at their house and had some awesome Easter celebrations including a huge Easter Egg Hunt. 

Our first real night of adventure was at Bryce Canyon National Park.  It was beautiful.  The weather was cool and windy, but we still loved seeing the scenic beauty. 

We had two campfires on the trip.  The kids LOVED having a fire. 

The kids got a little carried away with the pine needles, and . . . 

Johnny's hair got singed.  Shoot. Major parent fail! The crazy thing is that we were both out there.  The problem was that while I was taking the picture above their showing off resulted in a huge flame. 

Traveling in a camper brought family togetherness to a whole new level!  I loved watching the kids play.  There was constant excitement! I felt like the laughing was non-stop.  Of course, that is what we wanted, but I'll admit a little peace and quiet would have been nice too!

On the way out (or into) Bryce Canyon we passed through a Utah State Park, Red Canyon.  It was another beautiful place for walking around.  It looked just like Radiator Springs is portrayed at Disneyland.  

It was always nice to walk in one direction and have Josh pick us up at the other end! 

Glen Canyon, just outside of Paige Arizona, made a great pit stop.  It was a little too cold to go for a swim in Lake Powell, but the suspended bridge and damn were both amazing!

Another awesome pit stop was a walk out the "horse shoe bend."  Having not seen the grand canyon yet, we were totally impressed with the horse shoe bend. 

The Grand Canyon blew my mind!!  I was expecting one very deep crevice with the river running through.  I had no idea that there were crevice's in every direction.  From most look-out points we couldn't even see the river because it was so far below.  It was two vertical miles down to the river and about 24 miles from rim to rim.  Now that is a GRAND CANYON! 

The weather started to warm when we hit Zion.  Driving through the dessert wasn't too bad with movies to watch in the RV.  Unfortunately it was windy so it was white knuckle driving for the driver.

The TOP scenic highlight of the trip, for the kids, was the 1 mile tunnel through one of the mountains in Zion.  It really was INCREDIBLE! 

Here we are in front of the mountain we drove through. 

The thing we loved about Zion is the easy hiking trails that everyone in the family could do and enjoy.  My kids aren't hikers so going for a "walk" is all we could convince them to do, but there were some amazing walks!

The first "walk" we went on was to the Emerald Pools.  We recommend getting off at stop 6, the one to Angels landing, and going to stop 5 via the Emerald Pools rather than doing a loop at stop 5.  

At the pools we walked behind the water falls.  I'm guess this was more spectacular because there had been rain and snow earlier in the week. 

Our camp site was right on the river and had beautiful, fine sand.  The kids loved it!  Sand isn't my thing but I tried to be a good sport. 

A very short hike we wen't on was to the weeping rock.  We enjoyed the Emerald Pools more, but this one was so short, although steep, we couldn't pass it up. I could imagine that the view would have been even more spectacular had all of the leaves been on the trees. 

The final walk we went on was called the Riverside Walk.  It was a little longer, but flat. The kids counted over 50 squirrels on the walk.  They kept themselves easily entertained counting the squirrels, but the scenery was breath taking. 

Because of the cool weather at the higher altitudes we decided to end the trip with a couple of nights in St. George.  The kids couldn't get enough of the pool, and I loved the sun! Andy played shuffle board, miniature golf, and ping-pong almost around the clock.  Luckily Caleb found some friends from home to keep him occupied.  

Another great spring break in the record books!!