Sunday, May 29, 2016

Heavenly encounters

It is always amazing to me how Heaven, the Universe, whatever you want to call it, lines people up just right so their paths cross.

Friday night, as we were leaving the graduation ceremony, I ran into the wife of our favorite family doctor.  She is such a great lady and we had just a minute or two to catch up!  I don't know how it happens, but many times, I become good friends with the family of our doctor...I really can't say for sure how it happens but I'm so glad it does.

At the graduation party, I saw our doctor!  The husband of the woman I saw after the ceremony. He was there as a chaperon.   We saw each other across the room almost at the same time and immediately rushed to see each other.  He was by far, the best doctor we have ever had.  Sadly, after just a few years of being our family practitioner, he closed his practice to do ER medicine and then became part of the University Medical Clinic so he just sees students now.

He was so surprised to see me and related a really cool story.  Earlier in the week, they were setting up a new exam room and they needed some art.  He went to his storage and got some art that I had given him for his clinic when he had his family practice.  He chose one of a mother rocking a baby and two little kids at her feet.  He said when he saw that in the pile, he immediately thought of me and had so many great memories of taking care of my kids.  It now hangs in the new exam room.

Dr. Rammell was the one who helped me get on the right track with specialists when the kids were diagnosed with Shwachman Diamond Syndrome.   He became our doctor just a couple of weeks before Spencer was born and remained our doctor until Spencer was almost 10. He and I made the best team!  It was the perfect set up.  He was so patient and eager to help and learn.  He cared like no other doctor has ever cared.

When Spencer was just two weeks old, he kept turning blue.  His breathing was always labored and squeaky.  I had to take him to the ER night after night and they kept telling me he just had croup.  I don't think two week old babies can get croup.  I recorded Spencer's breathing when it would get really bad and finally took the recording to Dr. Rammell.  It took him no time at all to tell me what the problem was and within a few hours, we were making an emergency trip to Primary Children's for Laryngomalacia. A birth defect in Spencer's windpipe.

He saved Shelbie from internal bleeding at age 5 and when Spencer was 8, he was the one to diagnose him with Encephalitis.  That was a day I will never, ever forget.  Spencer had been having seizures that wouldn't stop.  He was barely conscious and had a massive fever but nothing in his blood indicated a problem.  As we spoke in the hall outside Spencer's hospital room, he said, "I think we need to do a spinal tap but I haven't really done many.  I'm not sure I feel comfortable doing it on someone so sick and so small."

I convinced him to do it after several minutes of tears and anguish over the decision, from both of us. I finally took his hands and said, "You are all I have to save my son.  If I pray for you, will you do it?"

The way Spencer 's room was situated, I could walk down the hall a bit and see into it through the window and Dr. Rammell's face from his reflection in the mirror.  I pressed my face against the glass and prayed and prayed for that man as I watched his intense face to save my son.  An hour later, Spencer was life flighted to Boise where we stayed for three weeks.  Two other people died that day from the same thing Spencer had, in fact, I saw one of the widows at the bank just earlier in the day on Friday.  She is a constant reminder of how blessed we have been.  Her kids had to grow up without their dad and he was one amazing dad!  I knew him well.

We stood at the graduation party reliving all these stories and the story of when his daughter was hit by a car.  I made many trips down to the hospital to be with his wife and help where I could.  We had this great connection and I was so touched to know that he felt it too and they thought of me often as well. I caught him up on how the kids were doing today and it was such a tender moment of compassion and empathy.  I got a little choked up!  We would have been so great together as a parent/doctor team!

As we ended our conversation, he said how great it was to finally run into me and I had been on his mind all week long.  I know that for whatever reason...Heaven cared that our paths crossed again.


Saturday, May 28, 2016

This chapter ends

Graduation has come and gone.  It was an emotional night for me...It was happy and surprising and touching and thought provoking and amazing.  From the moment the graduated walked in to the auditorium, I had a lump in my throat.

The speakers were great but I was really impressed with the Valedictorian.  I think he gave a talk that everyone in the room could relate to and I appreciated his words a great deal.  Without a doubt, this was a highly intelligent graduating class.  Three of the 308 graduates were graduating with an Associates Degree as well.  A huge percentage were graduating with honors and highest honors, in fact, I think every single one of the Sam's friends were in the honorable society which was awesome to see.

As we were making our way through the throngs of people to find Sam afterwards, I ran into one of his Special Ed Teachers, Mrs. W.  She told me that she had just had a 'moment' with Sam and she had told him how proud she was of him.  In response, Sam said that he knew no one thought he would make it this far- either physically or scholastically and he too was surprised and knew the importance of this day. She said that his eyes were teary as he said that.

It surprised me a bit to hear that.  I never really know how much the kids let themselves feel and Sam is never very free with this feelings or emotions.  It is not lost on me, how much I have been blessed to have these kids for as long as I have.

My Wasband and I volunteered to help chaperon the all night Senior party.  Sam was less than excited to find that out, but it was funny tormenting him a little, teasing him that I was going to find him every hour and give him a big kiss right in front of his friends!  We actually didn't see him at all last night or all day today.  The PTO really did an outstanding job providing a fun and safe atmosphere for the kids with unlimited first rate movies, bowling, mini golf, Balladium, karaoke...Hats off to all the parents who helped make it a great night.

Me and Sam

Across the stage we go.

One relieved and excited boy!

Kamry and Sam

Some of his friends- he had the very best group of friends.

These boys are the salt of the earth! 

Chloe and Sam spent many a days when they were babies and toddlers playing together and they have remained good friends! 

My favorite girl!  Kelsie!

'The Squad'  I am going to miss these boys horribly as they all leave soon on their missions!  

It was a really good evening.  I was a happy mom and really proud.  What's next?


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Graduation is almost here!

This post is all about pictures of Sam!  Shelbie did an amazing Senior Photo Shoot for Sam.  I'm pretty lucky to have such a talented daughter and a handsome boy inside and out!  So proud of him for working hard to get his difficult work load at school completed in time!  It was touch and go and we had some late, late nights but it was worth it.

Love this kid to pieces!


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

It's just a phase...I thought

The struggle is real.

In case you thought I was just joking about my mid life unraveling...I'm not.

I thought the struggle I have found myself in this year was just a phase.  Of course the things we have gone through with Shelbie were disturbing at best, rocked my foundation a bit and the open ended problems with cancer still looming as a possibility and another scan just over a month away.  I watch her struggle to find her footing again.  I watch her liver enzymes rising steadily.  I watch her try to manage her ever growing kidney pain.  I do nothing and it's hard to just do nothing.  But to the world, she smiles.  And I smile.  And the boys smile and we do our best to muddle through.

What I am starting to realize, is that this may not be a phase but isn't that what we always wish when we go through something hard? Most of the time it is, just a phase.  The hard thing passes...painfully albeit, but it passes.  Now, let me acknowledge that I know I don't have a corner on the market of suffering.  If you aren't suffering yourself, you don't have to look far to see one in the throws of waiting for what comes next...Waiting for that good thing everyone promised in their condoling response to your suffering.  "Everything happens for a reason."  "You deserve something great!"  "It's about time something wonderful came your way." My personal favorite..."This too shall pass."  or  "Keep your chin up." wait and watch for that wonderful, deserving thing.  That one great thing to balance out the raw deal you have been given.  But it doesn't happen.  Then you think it must be something I'm doing to deserve this.  Maybe I haven't learned my lesson yet.  I just have to learn my lesson, whatever that is...

You double your efforts to learn that great lesson so you can move on because Heaven knows...enough is enough.   We want more than anything to find structure and purpose to our difficult stories.  We want something to make sense.  And, one day it does, or it sort of does and then next day what we thought we had figured out, has been shaken back down and stirred in the pot of scarcity and survival.

These things weigh heavily on my mind.  I think it's partly because the first half of this year just about killed me mentally, wore me down to the quick and now we are going through some extremely life changing times, not necessarily sad things, because I for one couldn't be happier that Sam is graduating, done, so long Common Core.  So long IEP.  So long busy work. So child left behind as we stumble across the stage at graduation on Friday!

It's a time of reflection and time of writing the end of this chapter and starting a new one.  It's as if it's being thrust upon me before I am ready...have caught up.   In a way, I've lost my ability to see tomorrow.  It's hard just getting us through today.

So, I've been working on this little problem while I sit in my Lupus mess and now the fog of Prednisone and think that maybe it's time for a shift. Maybe I need to stop waiting for some great and wonderful, 3rd Act, happily ever after to rescue me from where I stand. Maybe it's enough of a lesson to be able to say...I'm sorry I have failed so many people, failed myself, failed my kids right now...this is really hard.

Then...I heard this from the writer Amy Bickers whose ex husband committed suicide in front of her after he locked her in the garage...

"We can not wait for the Universe to bring us some amazing thing, some equal yet opposite event that will make up for tragedies. We can't wait for a grand reckoning that will explain the unexplainable because no good thing can be big enough to erase loss from who we are now."  Amy Bickers.

I love this, but even more, I love that I have the understanding of the Plan of Happiness.  I love that I understand that we are in the wrestle, as Sherry Dew recently spoke of.  I love that I understand that it is suppose to be hard and we are in the 2nd act and things may be full of tension and trying for now.  The 3rd Act of happily ever after won't happen until the next life when we can hear our Father say, "Well done."  I hope I get to hear that some day.

For now, I'm trying to figure out how to be okay with saying, This is really hard. I've never done that before.  Can you believe that...I've never admitted that before.  Oh well, it only took a couple of decades of being worn down...I'm a stubborn soul.

I'm determined to figure out how to make things work in the wrestle.  How to give a little structure to the never ending questions, the foggy road ahead, the feeling our way blindly along.  It's a process but I'll get there.  We'll get there...

So enough of the sad posts...I had to start Prednisone yesterday because another trip to the Urgent Care Sunday proved disheartening on the Lupus front and the crazy effects are shaping up nicely as well as plenty of nausea, headaches and I think my kidneys are about dead, so the rest of the week I'm banned from any thoughts rattling through my steroid, induced flurry of madness, mind.  Instead, it will be about celebrating Graduation!  I can't wait to post Sam's Senior Pictures the ever talented Shelbie took and more on Spencer's road trip and his efforts to 'Choose Must'; that boy is a fascinating creature that I am sort of jealous of right now!


Monday, May 23, 2016

Life's little orchestra

Let me start this post by saying, it's not's me.

Last night was Seminary graduation for Sam.  First of all, I feel like a fraud posting this picture because technically, he has a few more packets of home study to complete but the powers that be said it wasn't a big deal and he could walk with his group.

Anyways, Shelbie and I arrived a little early and a quartet of stringed instruments and their owners were practicing for the musical number.  I felt a little resentful.  It seems like it's always the same kids at every event.  The most musical, the most intelligent, the most refined, the most disciplined, the most athletic and then there's us.  We're like the little smudge on society, the wrinkled shirt, the cowlick that never stays in place...I looked at the program and they had forgotten to print Sam's name with his ward.

So, in line with my mood, I pointed it out to Shelbie and said, "Figures.  They forget my kid on the program.  Oh well, I'll just write his name in and while I'm at it I'm going to add his name as the Cello player too and class Valedictorian!"

As I sat there stewing about why I felt this way, I was carried away to some early childhood days when my dad would play the comb harmonica.  He would take a thin paper from his Mastercard receipt and place it over his black, pocket comb then hum the song...Do your ears hang low?

                        Reeling through my head...Do you ears hang low do they wobble to and fro
                                                                    can you tie them in a knot, can you tie them in a bow?
                                                                    Can you throw them over your shoulder like a
                                                                     continental soldier, do your ears hang low?

And then the quartet played their beautiful rendition but all I heard was that comb harmonica.  Its buzzy tones, not complementing the cello very well and it hit me.

 People have dedicated their life to excelling and honing in on the skills that will carry them far in life and up the ladder of success.  They work hard, practice hard; achieving is everything. Their life is mapped out and goes according to the precise plans laid out.  'A's rule the report cards at school. Everyone wants to be them.  They are the yardstick of perfection and the parents of these kids must be so proud and the kids themselves so lucky to have parents who pushed, who cheered, who prodded, who demanded, who had energy, resources and vitality.

And then there's us.  If we had a chair at the Stringed Quartet of life, we'd be the ones playing the comb harmonica.  We tried to work hard, we tried to practice and achieve but just fell short.  Life didn't go according to plan.  'A's were only found in the yellow pages and people look at us with pity and we aren't the yardstick to measure anything by.

But the biggest thought I had as I sat in that meeting?  I felt so bad for my kids that they didn't grow up with a mom who pushed them on to perfection and as the years wore on, they didn't even have a mom with energy and vitality.  I was the mom who cheered when they decided to quit T-ball because I hated sitting in the rain, watching them pull dandelions in the outfield, since they were never the kid to play something important like Short Stop.  After months of hounding them to practice the piano, I just told them to stop.  And when we got saddled with a half dozen learning disabilities, I convinced myself that there was more to life than getting an A.

In my already weakened state of single motherhood, the disease took off and they really couldn't do what the other kids did.  The only thing that mattered was trying to stay alive. Life became one of scarcity and survival.

Usually, I like the sound of the comb harmonica. It's one of my happiest memories after all. The four of us can make some really great comb harmonica music and we can belt out "Do your ears hang low" like none other!  Life is really great until we leave our little harmonica existence and venture out in the world of beautiful stringed instruments, and then we see how very, very different we are and it is painful and heart wrenching.  This disease has taken so much from us and didn't even ask our permission!

In a tender mercy, my horrible thoughts were interrupted by the Stake President as he said something to this effect, Your parents love you.  They may not have measured up, or been the best you wanted them to be or needed them to be, they may have disappointed you and not been what you expected but boy do they love you. Tears streamed down my face and without a doubt I have fallen short but boy do I love my kids.

These kids have worked against all odds, a stacked deck.  Sam will be the very first one of my kids to graduate with 12 years of public school.  Spencer and Shelbie both had to be pulled out of school for long periods of time.  Spencer was too sick to attend school his senior year and was home-bound.  Shelbie was sick for all of Junior High and was home-schooled and home-bound for her senior year as well. We've been blessed to get this far.

The evening ended with President Moore playing a clip from Elder Holland's talk...

Jeffrey R. Holland

“Don't you quit. You keep walking, you keep trying, there is help and happiness ahead. Some blessings come soon. Some come late. Some don't come until heaven. But for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. It will be alright in the end. Trust God and believe in Good Things to Come.”

And with that, the night turned around...I will always feel some grief for what could have been and things aren't going to magically get any easier but somehow, it's nice to know there's hope for us.  It was a timely and inspired message last night.  Sam is really having a hard time.  Every single one of his friends leaves on their mission over the next few weeks.  I'm sure there are many jumping to conclusions about our lack of mission announcements.  It's tough.  Sam has been living everyday for just over a year with the knowledge that his heart could give out at any moment.  His lungs are riddled with holes and even a couple around his heart. His breathing complaints use to be far and few between but he mentions it often now.  I can't imagine how difficult it must be to forge ahead, planning a future when so much fear and worry overshadows it. 

But for will be a week to celebrate in our own little way.  No big parties or pomp and circumstance...just our little harmonica, toting selves, blessed to see this day and hoping for a gift of a few more. 


Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Lady in the Van

A few weeks ago, I saw a movie at the cheap seats called The Lady In The Van.  It was one of those movies that I was only slightly interested in, so on one lonely weekend, I went to hideout by myself.  I didn't think it would be a big draw against the other big titles showing.  I was pretty much right.  It's not a movie I can really recommend but it had a good story if you're into the psychological kind of thing.

It reminded me so much of my own life.  I have a good friend who has been homeless all of her adult life.  She is my Lady in the Van.  She is nearly in her 80's and if you've been reading the blog very long, you might have heard me talk about her.  I really care about her.  Just over a year ago, we found her a little apartment and she has been pretty stable for nearly a year and a half.

I am ashamed to admit I haven't seen her since Shelbie had all her health issues this year.  A few days before mother's day, I ran into May at the grocery store.  She has Schizophrenia so I'm never sure if she will recognize me or be scared of me.  She recognized me and was so happy to see me.  She even clapped her hands in joy!  Since it had been so long since I checked in on her, she thought I had moved to South America.  I thought she was going to cry when I told her I was still here.

I promised her that afternoon, that I would stop by and see her the following day.

The following day...I didn't.

Every morning since then, I see her drive by my house just before 7am.  Every morning.

Tonight, I decided to make her some food and head to her apartment for a visit and apologize for broken promises.  As I pulled in the parking lot, I saw her sitting in her van.  I waved and she waved back.  As I approached her, she had tears in her eyes!  "You came!"

I knew immediately that she was not doing well; mentally.  There was food spilling out of her van, broken windows with grocery sacks stuffed in the gaps to protect her from the rain. Papers, bags, containers, spoiled food, plastic swords and other dollar store trinkets and treasures were piled to the roof.  We visited for a bit and discovered that she has been sleeping in her van again.  I hate that!  I worry about her being alone in a broken van at night.

She told me she still has her lease on the apartment but she can't sleep there..."It's too gloomy." she said, "I sleep better here."

"Do we need to find you a new place to live?"  I asked
"Maybe.  I have nightmares.  They chase me down in there.  It's better out here.  This spot is okay, the other side of the parking lot has nightmares too." Her poor tired eyes filled with tears.

My heart breaks for her.

To make matters worse...she had been ticketed again, three times this week for driving 'recklessly' and has to appear in court on Tuesday.  She is scared they will put her in jail.  She asked if I could go with her and bail her out if they take her away.

I left May tonight feeling so angry.  She is constantly fighting against this world. People call in her license plate to the police because she drives too slow and they think she's a hazard.  I just wish people would leave her alone if they aren't willing to be helpful.  Why not call in the people texting while driving or checking Facebook- not the poor lady driving 5 mph.

We all have a 'Lady in the Van' where we live.  Those odd souls that shake heads and make reason stare. I wonder if sometimes, we are too quick to judge, too quick to police, too quick to jump to conclusions.  I wonder what would happen if we gave more chances, spread more caring, had a little more heart?  If you got to know her, you might find she's a real angel and doesn't deserve the life she has valiantly and gracefully tried to live despite its shortcomings.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Making the mistake of waking up

Yesterday was Shelbie's transfusion and things went alright.  It is becoming an annoying thing, sort of, and my house is turning into a clinic I feel.

I made the mistake of actually waking up yesterday AND getting out of bed.  About 3 am, I was in the most impressive, achy pain from my shoulder down to my ankles. I woke myself up with my own moans of pain. I was so tired, I tried to ignore it until 6 and then got up. I could hardly walk.  My hips and knees were creating so much pain for me.  It took me twice as long to get showered and dressed and by 8 am I thought I might rather die.

I put on my big girl panties and downed a handful of vitamins including my new favorite, Vitamin Ibuprofen then attempted to not let anyone know I was miserable.  That plan worked out pretty good until about 4 when the nurse left and by 6:30 I caved and went to my neighborhood urgent care.

At first the doctor thought it was bursitis in my knee but then he started asking probing questions to which I had to fess up to. I've had to start wrapping my thumb joints again because of extreme pain, my shoulder has lost a lot of motion, I feel sick every day, I've been dizzy and had a little blackout or two over the past two weeks and the list goes on..." are having a lupus attack!" He said.

Of can't just be bursitis...well it is but brought on by Lupus.  Blah.  So, he gave me a steroid shot in my knee joint which now feels like I have a gravel pit in place of cartilage and I am suppose to stay off it until Monday. He wants me to start on the Lupus meds but I am stubborn.  If things are not remarkably better by next week, I may consent to a week or two of steroids because I am truly miserable and that would be my last resort.  I sure hope the prescription comes with a white coat with extra long sleeves and silver buckles because that is what becomes of me on steroids.

I love these pictures....This is totally me..."NO, We're fine.  Never been better!  Living the great American Dream! Thanks for asking!"  Bigggg, glowing smile. 
The weird thing is...I feel like I have lost all strength in my legs.  Like I'm trying to walk in 8" Stilettos across an ice rink so there is something funky going on neurologically. Anyways...trying not to alarm my people.

In other news, we did our DNA testing last night for NIH, as well.  Interesting. Sam had to fill out a stack of papers since he's a Kidadult now.  He came to the question where they wanted to know if he wanted to be notified of any problems they find in his Genes.  He asked me what to put and I told him it was up to him.  He struggled and struggled. What a tough thing.  I was pained just watching him go through that decision.  He finally decided that he would like to know.  In my paperwork, I told NIH I didn't want to know.  Sam was bugged by that..."What if they find something they can fix? Don't you want to feel better?" He asked.

It's a probing question that does not have an easy answer.

And, before the fun ended, Shelbie had a rough reaction to her IgG today.  We debated for 20 minutes about making an ER run but she fell asleep and I hoped for the best.  We made it without a trip.

I hope our specimen's travel safely back to Bethesda.  Along with our packet, they let us know that they may want to fly us out there and spend a week as lab rats.  Awesome fun. I hope I get signed up for a sleeping experiment.  A new drug that allows you to stop breathing for a week or so and then come back 15 years younger, rich, married, and living somewhere on a beach selling kites and eating pineapple.

It sounds a little like a witness protection plan but let's be honest.  I need some protection from what I have witnessed living this life of mine!  It's about time.  Seriously, the urgent care doc said I need to get my stress under control, it's after me!  And killing me!


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Be Nice

Have you ever thought that we have failed our children by teaching them to be nice?  Or..failed ourselves?

How many times do we say to our children, 'Be nice!" ?  Even when being nice may not have been the appropriate thing to be.  Countless moments come to mind.  When they were little, we would venture off to play dates and my kids were most always the passive kids.  They had their moments but they weren't the ones climbing to dangerous heights, emptying the kitchen cabinets, taking off their diaper and a few other difficult play date encounters.

Many times, I saw my kids get scolded by other parents for 'not being nice' when clearly, their kid started a hitting match with mine. Always...I would chime in, "Yes, be nice please." and depending on their age, shoot them the know that look all moms have when it's our own agenda of pleasing our friends that matters most.

I fed my kids a steady diet of Be nice-es...

Just be nice
Let it go
Don't make a scene
It's okay, they were just having a bad day
Be kind to everyone
Don't act like that
No one wants to hear you whine and complain
Just ignore it
You should like everyone

Basically, I trained them to be doormats.  I taught them that life isn't fair but no matter what, be nice. be good, be happy, be anything or anyone but yourself.  I mean really...that's what it amounted to. "You're having a sad day?  Chin up!  Everyone has something hard today, you don't have the corner on the hard market."  And, I dismissed their feelings with such a nice sentiment.

It seemed like the right thing to do.  The admirable thing but it taught them that feelings that didn't reflect kindness and nice- always, were inferior- they were inferior.

How many times did one of my kids have a friend who was dragging them into their very dangerous behaviors but my kid was afraid to say 'No' at the risk of not being "Nice.".  After-all you need to be nice to everyone.


Last week, Shelbie had a date with a person she had met online.  The closer the time came for her to leave, the sicker I felt about it.  Something wasn't adding up.  She had been at her friend's apartment waiting to leave but the young man had delayed their date a bit.  Shelbie knew nothing about this guy except for a few text messages back and forth.  He was here from Helena, MT and their plan was to attend a movie and then go for ice cream.

I went to her friend's apartment and waited until he got back to her.  Things got strange very quickly and there on the living room floor of this small apartment, with 6 other young women in the room, Shelbie had a meltdown.  Clearly, this young man had other intentions.  In fact, I doubt he had ever planned to go to a movie.  Shelbie was so afraid to tell him that she had changed her mind and didn't want to meet him.  She was almost paralyzed at the idea of telling him that; it wasn't nice.  She had already promised to go out, he would hate her, she couldn't let him down, maybe he's not so bad, maybe she can convince him to go to another movie.

She wasn't the only one grappling with this decision.  All but one of the girls were trying to figure out a way to tell him gently to get lost.  They too were concerned about being nice.  Shelbie tried all different versions of 'No'. No with smiley faces, no with winky faces, no with a maybe attached...  In the end, she cut him loose but he hounded her until nearly midnight and yes, he was extremely mad.

While we sat there, I remembered back to  not very many years ago when I was being stalked.  I went to the police and they wanted me to charge the man with trespassing and get a restraining order.  I wouldn't do it.  I said, "Well, that isn't very nice. He'll be mad that I came to you and then he will come after me."
The police officer said, "Yes, he will be mad and he may come after you but he's after you as it is." I will never forget his words...people get mad when you aren't 'nice' to them.

I eventually did get a restraining order but it took months of living in fear before I did that.  When he was served, he did come after me in a parking lot and I did think twice about the risk you run to stand up to people.

There were many lessons learned that night but for me, I feel bad that I didn't teach my kids their own value and boundaries.  I am only learning these things myself. It may be a little late but maybe there is still time.  I think girls have a harder time than boys.

The world is a different place than it was two decades ago when play dates ruled the day.  People are different; many are self absorbed, entitled, egotistical, even narcissistic.  People like that get ahead by stepping on the innocence, trust, caring and yes, even kindness of people like me or you, our kids.  We dismiss their poor behavior with nice statements like, "Well, they were probably just having a bad day."  "I'm sure they didn't mean it."  "You should be nice anyways." In reality, it's not okay to be mistreated all in the name of a bad day.

I think there are ways to be nice but still maintain yourself, your boundaries and self respect.  I didn't always manage to teach my kids that part of the equation.  Now, with society blurring the edges of what has always been acceptable, like the whole bathroom issues, we are challenged even more to stand up for ourselves, our safety, our beliefs...the theory of 'nice' has to evolve.  We can't live a blurry life of standards right alongside the world.  That doesn't mean we have to stand up and stand out, but at least we need to know for ourselves, what we stand for.

Now, I find myself retraining my kids, my daughter especially.  I think I corrected a lot of my wayward training with Sam and Spencer fell somewhere  in between.  Maybe instead of teaching our kids to be nice, we teach them to be honest, authentic, humble, courageous, charitable, loving, brave, confident, secure...all the things we think we are teaching when we say, be nice.  If I could do it over again, when the little friend at play group stole a toy from my child and then proceeded to whack my kid over the head with the toy, I would have taught them that that wasn't okay and given them some tools to correct the conflict without being mean back or shaming or condescending.

It's never too late I suppose.  Being nice is starting to feel like a bad epidemic today.  It's not safe to be anything but nice, agreeable, small...and that is really a sad thing, not nice at all.


Monday, May 16, 2016


The idea of sunsets comes to mind with the writing of this post.

We see beautiful sunsets in this neck of the woods.  Absolutely beautiful, full of vibrant colors.  Sometimes, they are breathtaking.  I always look a sunset with pure wonder. I never worry that it's the last sunset I will ever see in my life.  I never look at with a critical eye thinking God could have really used a little more burnt orange or deep purple.  I don't complain that it didn't last long enough.

Life this weekend reminded me of sunsets.  Somehow, I feel like I am watching the sun set on my life, my family.  The only difference is, I am watching the beauty of my kids unfold but I worry that this will be my last sunset.  I wonder why it can't last longer.  Having teenagers has been my favorite stage of life.  I adore teenagers.  I adore my teenagers.  I didn't have them young for long enough.  On goes my complaining.

I remember well, the early morning feedings, up all night...before the sunrise.  I remember life with the sun at high noon and they had adventures to attend to and growing to do. Their laughter filled the house and friends were close, and Popsicles dripped and snow cones cooled the summer heat, bonfires, late nights, drive in movies in pajamas...all of the best memories culminating into one weekend.  A weekend with a beautiful sunset but I want more.

I just can't stand that my kids are grown up.  I seriously can't stand it!  My mid-life continues to unravel.  Why hasn't anyone warned me about this stage of life?  So unfair.  I cringe at the pace at which time passes.

Sam had a great 18th birthday and Prom.  I spent the day making corsages for him and his friends.  It took a huge part of the afternoon.  When Sam walked into the kitchen with his Tuxedo on, ready to pick up his date, my heart melted!  He is so handsome and such a fine young man.  I couldn't be happier.  I had to fight back the tears that were dusted with the salt of sadness that he wasn't my little boy anymore.

Orchids and Roses for Sam's sweetheart.

Another corsage I made...

Sam and Kamry
 And then, as if Sam's big day wasn't enough, Spencer sent me this picture from a beach in Oregon.  He's been gone a week on his wanderings of the Pacific Northwest.  I have spent every day worrying about him but he's been great to send me a Snapchat first thing in the morning and again late at night so I know he is alive.  Sometimes in between, he sends a text or a picture.

I had to look twice at this picture!  Admittedly, he looks a little scruffy with that beard but he looks like a man!  I look at this picture and he looks happy and peaceful.  It's the best I've seen him since his mission.  I know he's happy!  He is so happy and that makes me happy.

Still...I wish I could just make time stop so I can bask in this sunset and try to figure out what comes next...What does one do when you can't do what you've always done?  My family has been my greatest blessing and accomplishment, even in spite of my shortcomings and weaknesses, my imperfections.


Saturday, May 14, 2016

18 Years later...

Sam doing what he loves to do...parkour.

It's official, my baby is 18!  It's cliche and all...but how in the world?  I thought I was still 18...aren't I?  I mean, most days I feel 18, sort of, if I use my imagination a little...a lot.  

I often worried about the kind of teenager Sam would be.  He had some pretty rough years from ages 6-11.  I don't know what was going on with him but he somehow thought that anytime I did something that he didn't like, he called 911 on me.  One night, I made sesame chicken but he wanted ramen.  I told him we weren't having Ramen.  He through a massive fit and ran into my bedroom and called 911.  Shelbie and Spencer realized before me what he was doing and tackled him to the ground.  So, of course, hell hath no fury like two siblings ganging up on one, which alerted the dispatcher.  When she was cut off...she promptly called back to see what the commotion was about.  I answered while the kids were still wrestling and crying and yelling.  It was pretty much a zoo.

I said, "No, there's no problem here....No you don't need to send out an officer...We are great...I just made dinner and we were just sitting down to eat....No...I'm sure he just dialed you by mistake....The yelling and screaming?   The kids are just playing foosball...they are just cheering each other on!  They love that game!...What?...No, there isn't anyone fighting....really!   Okay, well, thanks for calling!!"  Really, after that...I'm surprised Sam made it to age 18!

There was another time he slipped at the pool and got all scraped up and bruised.  His teacher saw the bruises and sent him to the office.  They called me in because when they asked him where the bruises came from, he said, "My mom's house."  They made the high jump of all conclusions and assumed that I was beating on him.  It was a sad mess but we laugh about it now.

At any rate...Sam has been a joy and a pleasure to raise.  I am so proud of him.  He has been the picture of courage, bravery, charity, and kindness.  He does so much to serve those around him.  He is loyal and trustworthy with amazing strength of character.  Here are some of my favorite pictures of Sam through the years.

Me and Sam.  Don't mind my chubby, anemic face of the 90's!  Sam was just 3 days old  and I was sick in this picture.  It was also his blessing day.  We got off to a great start! I gained 55 lbs with Sam.  After seeing this picture again, I think I gained it all in my face!  

Sam at a week old
He is 2 years old here and gets teased like crazy about this picture from his siblings.  His head looks a little big.  He was such a little man! 
Sam and Spencer getting ready to be put under.  This was Sam's 3rd or 4th bone marrow biopsy by the time he was just 3.5 years old. 

My favorite picture with Sam.  

Sam at age 7
First day of 2nd grade in a new school.

Baptism day age 8 -2006





Seattle 2012

High Adventure Scout Camp

More of Sam in action

First fish with a fishing pole he crafted himself.

Make a Wish Trip- 2013

July 2013

He's become an amazing young man! Dec. 2015


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