Friday, November 04, 2011

Love Remains

I'm having a hard time putting tonight's experience into mere words. I have to try, though, so I can always remember. 

Tonight our whole family got to meet Collin Raye.

Ever since getting to see him at the Desert Star a couple of years ago, we have been in contact by email here and there.  He is always so positive and has a great perspective on life. 

When it came time for him to do another stint at the Desert Star, Geoff prodded me into contacting him again and taking him up on his offer to come and see him. It's not that I didn't want to, you understand, but I am a big, fat chicken! I was too shy to actually ask. In the end, I am SO glad we did! 

When we got to the theater, I don't think the guys at the ticket desk believed me when I told them that Collin Raye was expecting us. I asked for my friend Jenny that works there because I knew she'd know how to help me, but it turned out she was with her daughter at a rehearsal for a different show in a different part of the building. So, I whipped (not really, Geoff had to convince me again) out my phone and texted Collin and asked him where to go. He sent his assistant Jonathan out to rescue us. :) 

Oh, Gracie! ;)
When we (all 7 of us) walked into the tiny backstage area, he just reached out and hugged us. He just exudes happiness and love. His heart is bigger than his whole home state of Texas. Almost as soon as we got there, I pulled Becca out of her chair and handed her to him. 

I have never seen Becca take to someone who is not family so quickly before! We'll just have to make him honorary family. ;) She was smiling and even giggled. This from my girl who has struggled with adjusting to a new room so much that she has fallen asleep most nights in tears. I was really worried that meeting someone new would be too much for her. But there she was, leaning against that gigantic heart of his, just a-grinnin'. I could tell that he loved it. I told him that I thought it would be hard to hold her after suffering the loss of his Granddaughter because so much of Becca seemed to remind him of Hayley. He just said, "I crave it." He just kept stroking her hair and giving her kisses and talking just to her. It was truly the sweetest thing. He held her until the last possible second that he needed to get ready. 

We talked about all kinds of things. He is very spiritually minded, like we are. He talked about how these children's bodies are more like protection from the world for a truly wonderful spirit. We also talked about how we need the Lord in our lives in order to know what to do and to help us through all the trials of caring for someone who can't tell you what's wrong. So much of Becca reminded him of Hayley. He messaged a picture to his daughter of he and Becca and he said it would make his daughter cry... in a good way. :) There is so much that connects about hearts like ours that have lived through loving someone who needs all your care and who you pour your heart and soul into caring for. I have thought so many times of his daughter and prayed for her to find peace. I know that will be me someday...

He had his trusty Jonathan find us a spot and even though we had to carry the wheelchair up some stairs, I'm so glad we were up there! We were right to the side of the stage and there was a room with some couches and a little bathroom, so we were set! I even got to text my back up drivers, my Mom and Brother, that we were doing alright and they didn't need to come and confiscate any unruly children. :D 

 Becca didn't want to be in her chair, so she sat on Mama's lap the whole show. She didn't even fuss! Do you know how big a deal that is?! Huge! When he would stop singing and talk to the audience, she would pause and perk right up. Getting to know his voice beforehand made such a difference for her. Although she wasn't as animated as she was sitting right on his lap, she enjoyed the show, the singing and the music. 

Emily and Gracie liked watching the piano player and the girl that played the bongo drums. Emily said the piano player winked at her...she loved that! (I've gotta find a way to get that girl some piano lessons!) :D Collin gave Becca and I plenty of sideways grins and winks. Such a caring guy. 

Gracie loved when he sang Amazing Grace.

Landon's Rockstar face!
Landon told me several times that he liked watching "the Rockstar." He asked when exactly he would become a grown-up when I told him that he could be a Rockstar when he grows up. :D 

Ethan had fun with the pillows on the couch, tormenting his sisters and stealing the ipod away from them. Basically, he acted like the two year old he most definitely is. 

When we went to leave, Collin watched us walk down the stairs as Geoff was manuevering the empty wheelchair and I was carrying Becca. I didn't know he was still there until, when I got to the bottom, I heard one last "Bye now!" He made sure we made it down safely before he really left us. And another super great thing about tonight:

Becca didn't cry at all while falling asleep tonight.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Big Step

You may have noticed the brand new shiny link in the top right corner. Following the protocol of clicks to get it there was an emotional journey, I can tell you. I finally decided that a person who dreams of writing a book someday really ought to share her writing. And so, I present to you my writing blog, Cleverly Bleary.

Now, it represents only a teensy tiny amount of what I have actually written, but I am proud of these stories and I had fun writing them and I'm excited to see what others think.

I love to just let my imagination gush.

I love coming up with ways to describe in words what I see in my mind.

It's cathartic... creative... cleansing... and terrifying. I'm just as afraid that no one will like it as I am that someone will. If you've ever done anything creative and tried to share it with the world, you know exactly what I mean!

These short stories are assignments I gave myself to satisfy the itch to write in an immediate, succinct way. They don't have a ton of editing done on them. I just had an idea and ran with it. I love the idea of a modern fairy tale, but not the ones that have been done a hundred times.

I hope you will bookmark it and read them all sometime, even if it's not today. And just like you would like me to do if you showed me your quilt or your photo or your baby... something you have poured your heart and soul into and are proud of, please leave me an honest comment after the post. I need to know what to work on... and what to let go. What my strengths are, if I have any.

(Whew! I just shared the blog on Facebook. My heart is racing! Here goes nothin'!)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

South Dakota Summer - Day 7

Tuesday 26 July 2011

After breakfast, we left with Grandpa and Grandma to a nearby coal strip mine. The gigantic trucks honked at us like they were doing a show. :) Grandpa explained how much bigger this seam of coal is than any other in the US. He said if Campbell County, where the mine is, was its own country; it would be the 6th largest coal producer in the world! They have taken off the top layers and moved them and when they get all the coal out, they will put he dirt back and re-plant grass. We took pictures in the giant scoop and the huge tire. Even Grandpa got inside the tire, which the kids thought was very Awesome!

Note the regular size truck just behind the gigantic one.

Ethan and Becca were snoozing in the van. Can you see Landon in this pic? :D

Wyoming is some mighty monotonous driving – I’m sure the Pioneers would agree.

Independence Rock

VERY WINDY! Storm clouds were everywhere. Becca, Grandma and I stayed in a little shelter reading about the Pioneers. It started with Landon running from his sisters, but Grandpa, Dad and the rest of the kids ended up walking out further to see the preserved wagon tracks. They built a bridge over the top of them to keep them from getting ruined.
The "Rock" in Independence Rock

Independence Rock was so named because the Saints reached there around the 4th of July and celebrated our country’s independence there. The plaques talked about how they would write their name on the rock when they visited or passed it on their way. They used tar or grease mixed with gun powder at first. Eventually, they had professionals posted there that would chisel your name for a small fee.

Lots of the journal entries mention Devil’s Gate, too as they are in view of each other. Going West, they would often go 46 miles out of the way through Fort Bridger because there was more water and food for the livestock that way. Forty six miles is more or less three days’ travel! We clocked off about 15 miles with the girls to show how fast we can now travel the same distance they could only go in one day.

It has been really fun to travel with Grandpa and Grandma on our own. They are really patient about the Becca delays and don’t make me feel like I need to do an Indie 500 pit stop, if you know what I mean! ;) Speaking of Becca, I think her ‘horse sense’ has kicked in or something. Can she know we’re on our way home? She has been happier overall today and currently she is scream/laughing and kicking happily. :D Hallelujah! :)

I love the sun rays coming through on this one.

What a gorgeous sunset!! I took a bunch of sunset cloud pictures. The best sunsets happen on rainy days, dontcha think? J It took forever for the sun to go down because of the flat terrain and because we are driving West. J The words on our back windshield are the right way around when you look in the rear view mirror and they make really cool shadows on the ceiling when someone passes us in the dark with their headlights. :D

Famous last words about this trip:

Emily, age 9: I liked how well the dam actually worked in the creek. I thought it was kinda scary, but really cool how the buffalo were so close to the car. (She changed her favorite meal from hot dogs at the campground when she heard Gracie’s answer) :) My favorite was eating in the parking garage.

Gracie, age 7: I wanna remember that we had lots of fun and we got privileges and play with people we haven’t seen in a long time and just kinda talk. My favorite meal was the one we ate in the parking garage at Mt. Rushmore.

Landon, age 4 when asked what his favorite things to do were: Playing. Sleeping in a cabin.

Ethan, 22 months, what he always wanted to do: Ousside! Ousside! (Outside!)

Becca, 11: The cabin, mattress and white noise of the A/C therein were a ton better than sleeping on the ground… I even forgot to fuss some nights because I was so tired. I got to get out more this time because my chair rode on the back of the van.

Geoff, 35: Gas and food = several hundred dollars
Lodging = several hundred more
Entrance fees = around $100
Family togetherness = Priceless!

Diana, 34: It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and I’d do it again. :D I love Dutch oven cooking, especially when Denise does it. :D Chicken and rice and the Navajo Tacos were my favorites. I love how we just stopped and visited monuments and historical places if we felt like it on the way to other places and things. The cabin was a big blessing and I wish we’d remembered to snap a picture of it!

Didja open up Geoff's blog in another tab? He has a few different pictures than I do, so be sure to check it out. He loves comments, too! ;)

Monday, July 25, 2011

South Dakota Summer - Day 6

Monday 25 July 2011

Water Park with Splash Pad

Becca and Ethan stayed with Grandpa and Grandma so they could be out of the sun and Ethan was one less person to keep an eye out for in a crowded place. I really enjoyed being an Auntie and watching and playing with Landon and his cousins. :) I barely saw Emily and Gracie the whole time!

They had the obligatory kiddie pool and lazy river at this water park, but what made it stand out were the splash pad and the ‘Wipeout’ style obstacle course. The obstacle course had floating shapes to jump onto and you had to hold on and jump to the next one. The splash pad was like a playground with sprinklers on steroids. There were small water slides and water spraying everywhere and a giant bucket at the top that filled up with water. When it was almost full, it tipped a water wheel that started clanging against a metal bell, so the kids had time to run and stand underneath it and then it would dump all at once! It was pretty impressive to watch and the kids loved it! There were also 3 big water slides… one you went on in a tube, one you went down yourself and one that went really fast and dumped you into a deeper pool. Geoff talked (and bribed!) me into going on the tube one. I totally screamed when it first started and you’re inside a tube and can’t see out and I only sort of relaxed about halfway through. It was fun if you like your heart to stop beating for minutes at a time. I am just not a very exciting person, I guess.

Geoff had just about talked me into going one more time, but as we walked towards the slides, we saw adults and life guards huddled around a kid crying. It turned out to be Jake who had tripped on the stairs leading to the slides and cut his chin. He had diluted blood all down the front of him and when Matt saw us, he told us to go find Mowgli. I walk/ran around trying to find him, but couldn’t. I went to ask Stacey where he was without telling her what had happened, but when I looked all over and couldn’t find him, I had to go back and tell her. As it turns out, Jake cried harder about not being able to finish getting his turn on the slides. That and he wasn’t freaking out too much until Uncle Matt told him he was going to need stitches. ;)

We gathered up Jake’s little sisters and squeezed them into the other vans as the life guards had seen lightening and wouldn’t let us back into the pools. We went in search of the park that Grandpa and Grandma were at as it started to rain. We all made it under the park’s covered pavilion before the deluge started. It rained. Then it rained harder. Then it rained even harder with hail mixed in; pretty spectacular, really! It was so loud we could barely hear each other even while shouting. Stephen’s kids were still in swim suits with no extra clothes because they were in the van in the parking lot of the ER, consequently in an uncovered suitcase on top of the van getting wet. I pulled some shirts out of our girls’ luggage that hadn’t been worn yet and we passed Kristen and Elena around to keep them warm on our laps. Kristen had ridden over on Aunt Sharon’s really nice pillows and had fallen asleep. She was wrapped in her wet towel when I brought her a shirt and snuggled her in my lap to warm her up. Elena, of course, would only let Shannie touch her. ;)

After it was through dumping an ocean’s worth of water on us, the rain finally let up and we took a peek at the creek and packed up to go. By the way, we were coming from too much rain and swollen rivers in Utah that had been sweeping children away on a regular basis, so this Mama couldn’t let her kids stand by that creek too long. We didn’t get to see the cool Fish Hatchery that Grandpa had discovered, but by the time the rain let up, we had to get going. Becca and Ethan got to see, but characteristically haven’t said too much. ;D Geoff and Emily and Gracie dashed over for a very quick look just before we left. One of the tanks had a glass wall that you could see into. They had some Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout that were probably about 18 inches long.

Jake ended up needing a few inside stitches and then they glued the outside skin together. Stephen, Stacey and Jake will meet us in Gillette, WY after we stop at Devil’s Tower.

Geoff: “If I had a nickel for every time my ears have popped on this trip, I’d have a couple dollars.”

Devil’s Tower

This is an amazing tower of underground volcanic magma exposed by the land around it eroding away, but I like Grandma’s Indian story much better:

There once were seven sisters and one brother walking in the woods. The brother was mystically transformed into a bear and he began to chase the 7 sisters. They came upon a tree stump and he said to them, “Climb up on me and I will keep you safe.” They did and the tree stump began to grow taller and taller and the bear kept clawing and clawing as it grew. And the seven sisters became the stars in the big dipper.

Our family, Sharon, Heather, Kristen and Emma stayed behind while the rest hiked around the tower. Apparently, Adam fell into a 10 foot hole and Spencer came out of the baby pack. Adam caught him by the ankle, meanwhile scraping up his leg. Whew! The light was fantastic and we took some fun pictures with the tower in the background.

We drove to Gillette, WY and stayed in the Fairfield Inn. It had its own water park, but us mean parents didn’t let our kids go.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

South Dakota Summer - Day 5

Sunday 24 July 2011

I didn’t realize how big of a deal Pioneer Day is in Utah until I went somewhere that it is barely even thought of. We sing Pioneer hymns all through the month of July and they sang Come, Come Ye Saints once on this day. We talk about our ancestors and family stories and they read a sentence or two from journals of people they don’t know. We do fireworks and they joke in Sacrament Meeting about how the Bishop forgot it was Pioneer Day, but one family remembered and their children sang Pioneer Children at the pulpit. Just really different. I’m not saying they are any less devout, just not as focused on Pioneer history as we are in Utah. J Sacrament meeting, Sunday School and Relief Society were just wonderful! I felt my Spiritual cup fill right up and I was so glad we got to be there. We attended a ward in Rapid City, SD.

Coolidge Lookout Peak Tower (I’m not sure of the name, but it was all of these things) :)

If you look reeeeeal close, you can see a bunch of our group. :)

It was best for all if Diana drove on the curvaceous canyon roads because it kept her stomach settled. The hairpin turns on the way to this lookout were especially sharp and she was glad when we got to the top. But she was also glad to stay in the small parking lot rather than climb the tower that was even higher up! Becca needed someone to be by her, right? J Others offered to be the one to stand by her, but honestly, it was just high enough in the parking lot to get the view without feeling like I was going to plummet to my death. Dramatic much? :) It was Gorgeous!! Rolling hills covered in dark green pines as far as the eye could see. Beautiful.

Overheard in the parking lot upon viewing our artwork on the windows, “Every single one of them has a minivan!”

Mount Rushmore

We drove through the Needles to get there. There were several chiseled caves that could fit only one car wide at a time. One so narrow that Geoff and Diana could stick our hands out the windows and touch both walls at once! One was about 200 feet long and all one lane.

Three out of our five minivan, one car caravan.

The view as you walk up the flag lined path towards the carved heads is very grand. Each state is etched into a block on a pillar and each state’s flag flies above. We got there around 4:30 in the afternoon and the light was gorgeous.

The sculptor made a model sculpture and then they took the measurements from it and multiplied by 12 to carve into the mountain. I didn’t know that there were many other heads planned that were never carved. The sculptor died very near the end and his son saw them finished.

The 'rock waterfall' behind us is the rock that was blasted away as they carved the faces.

We ate cooler surprise for dinner in the parking garage. I just happened to have “Black Hills” by Doris Day on the iPod, so we blasted that while we ate. :) We danced around and the kids remembered it as one of their favorite meals. It was like a block party. :D

The evening program at Mount Rushmore was AWESOME! If you only go during the day, you are really missing out. Seriously. We guess there were 500 – 600 people there in bleachers and standing around the edges. All of them standing for the Pledge and later singing the National Anthem were inspirational. They played a movie about what each President accomplished and what he stood for. We sang the National Anthem as it ended and the faces on the mountain were illuminated very, very gradually. It made the heart swell.

We were at the top of the amphitheater with Becca's chair and the rest of the family sat down below.

We almost forgot Porkins’ picture, but got one when Emily had to go back to use the restroom. As we drove back to the campground, we could see the Presidents for a long while through the trees. Set in front of the expansive sky chuck full of stars.

Porkins Piggers is our family mascot. It was dark and so Geoff had to work some magic on the exposure, but there he is at Mt. Rushmore!

We met more buffalo crossing the road… we could hear them snorting in the dark right outside our windows. There was something very sinister about their angry sounding grunting and snorting when all you could see was a few trees eerily illuminated by our headlights. I’m pretty sure with a running start; one of the big ones could have tipped over our van if he’d really wanted to!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

South Dakota Summer - Day 4

Saturday 23 July 2011

In the morning, we hung out at the playground across from our second cabin. The grown-ups played games on a nearby picnic table. Then we met up at the parking lot of Grandpa and Grandma’s hotel where they stayed so that Grandpa could do his radio show over the phone. They had Alligator/Dinosaur sunglasses for the grandkids and we all painted our back windshields with white shoe polish to match Denise’s. I had wanted to write something on ours, but couldn’t think of anything. She had a big S and then Sagers, South Dakota and Summer coming off of that with a flower… so we all followed suit! I’m sure we looked way awesome traveling in a caravan with 5 minivans and a compact car all with the same writing on the back! :D

Jewel Caves


Our family stayed together to go on the “Discovery Tour” with Stacey at the Jewel Caves. We went down in an elevator to a great, big room with tall ceilings. It felt much, much bigger than the Wind Caves and was much more comfortable to stand in. We could see some of the catwalks that the walking tours must use. The “jewels” are sparkly calcite deposits that the first explorers used to chip off and sell. Our guide shined his flashlight on them to catch the twinkle. J Our guide was VERY nice and we (Geoff ) asked all kinds of questions. Our tour was our family, two other families with kids and one older couple.

The discoverers of Jewel Cave were 2 young men who used dynamite to make the hole big enough to enter. At first, women had to change from dresses to coveralls and it was a big deal when they made it safe enough and discovered other, wider places that they could explore with their dresses on. :)

We drove the scenic wildlife loop back to camp without seeing any wildlife. Back at camp, we heard there was a herd of buffalo up the road just past the entrance to the campground. We jumped in the van and drove around the corner and there they were! There were hundreds! They were jogging on a trail right alongside the road. Lots of tan colored babies and some REALLY HUGE Daddy ones! They were hoofing it to a meadow that we could see through the trees. We drove around another corner and they were crossing the road! Right next to the van!! I rolled my window up quick!

Friday, July 22, 2011

South Dakota Summer - Day 3

Friday 22 July 2011

Wind Caves

Waiting to go inside the caves.

The tours are only through a very small portion of the Wind Caves. On the map, they’re expansive! Stacey, Heather, Ethan, Becca and Diana went on a “Highlights” tour that took the elevator to the two main rooms. It only took about 15 minutes and the tour guide/Ranger wasn’t all that into it, but we asked a lot of questions and the natural A/C sure felt good! I’m not sure how much Ethan and Becca got out of it, but we were all glad to be included. Ethan especially liked a picture of a horse in the Visitor’s Center. He kept going back to it saying something that sounded like "shoshey" for 'horsey.' :) We were in there for a long time waiting for everyone else to get done.

Geoff and the rest of the family went on the “Natural Entrance” tour. It was a total of 300 steps down and they were often quite steep and narrow. At the maximum depth, we were down 200 feet under the ground. The ceilings were rather low in spots and Geoff hit his head several times in the course of the whole hike. Landon had a good time as did Emily, but Gracie kept complaining that it was creepy. It was about 1 ¼ hour hike total and was 53 degrees in the cave. Unique to the Wind Cave were Box Work and Popcorn. Box work is when the bedrock cracks and other minerals seep into the cracks and then the continuous water erodes away the bedrock and just leaves the mineral deposits. Popcorn comes out sideways instead of dripping down. It looks like round little balls of popcorn clinging to the side walls.

After the cave, we had lunch at the park in Hot Springs. The kids ran through the sprinklers that were on. Landon got soaked to the skin. A school group came in a short bus and it said Shannon County on the side. :)

We had yummy tinfoil dinners at the campground after the kids built a dam across the creek at Uncle Geoff’s prompting. All of the kids were soaked, but proud. And the slower water attracted some tiny little fish that the kids had fun spotting.

We had one cabin the first night and then moved to a different cabin to stay the rest of the nights in. It is the perfect size to snuggle up in; the double bed for Mom and Dad, the top bunk for the middle girls to share, the single bed for Becca with Landon at her feet and Ethan in the port-a-crib on the floor. The A/C is quite nice and provides some great white noise that seems to help Becca a lot. It is not right next to everyone else, which is a little bit hard walking back and forth to grab forgotten items, but the sleep value makes up for it! It has been worth every extra penny. We didn't take any actual pictures of it, so I'll include some from their website: Custer State Park.

The scenery really is this gorgeous! Our porch was a little smaller, but faced a pretty little creek.

Top bunk for Emily and Gracie, plus a little table right next to the door.

Twin bed on the other side for Becca and Landon with the port-a-crib up against it for a barrier. And there's that wonderful little A/C unit! Life saver for sure!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

South Dakota Summer - Day 2

Thursday 21 July 2011

Adam and Heather joined us at the hotel and Heather re-arranged children into the various vans. We were now up to 4. We have Becca, Ethan, Landon and Lydia with us. Stephen has all of his originals plus Gracie. Adam and Heather have (almost hit a prairie dog just now!! :D ) Jack, Emily and Spencer. Matt and Denise must just have Porter and Anna besides Richard and Shannon.

The day before we drove for a little more than 3 hours, little do these cheery kids know that today will be more like 8 hours in the car!

Willie Handcart Company Historical Site

Stephen’s GPS said 10 more miles and he was leading, so we missed the entrance at first. It was settled back away from the road and looks very authentic at first sight to its Pioneer roots. Although they thankfully had plenty of modern plumbing! We started at the handcart “parking lot” and picked out 3 handcarts to take turns pulling and riding in. Of course, Becca came in her own handcart and we got to try out her brand spankin’ new sunshade that I finished minutes before we left. It worked great! Her own personal surrey with the fringe on the top!

Aunt Denise and Becca in her surrey.

At the Blacksmith’s shop, we all got “Prairie Diamond” rings made out of nails. The Sun family, who is Catholic, donated the site and land to the Church because of its historical significance. They had preserved many artifacts and it was a very neat tribute to those Saints who literally dragged everything they owned across the plains by their own muscle power. Youth who go there to go on a Trek experience, start out at the visitor’s center and hike either 3 miles or 6 to the different camp sites. We saw a few ‘Trekkers’ from afar. I can imagine catching the pioneer spirit even more by doing some of the things the pioneers did and partaking of such hardship that begets spiritual strength.

The first little walk we did with the carts had plaques with journal excerpts. The sacrifice of the early Saints astounds me. One short excerpt in particular really spoke to me. A wife and mother was hauling her sick husband and a child in the cart and her other son that was walking collapsed. She slung him on her back and kept pulling. Finally, she put him in the cart with the others and just kept pulling. I feel that way sometimes! Maybe not to the physical extent that she did, but I do carry 50 lb. Becca around and emotionally I am constantly pulling other’s spirits up and trying to share the ‘we can do this together’ spirit that Heavenly Father sent me with. I definitely feel the weight of it all some days. But to be the only thing pulling your sick family through the snow step by step to safety is mind boggling. Humbling.

Sculpture accompanying the plaque with her story.

After eating lunch on the road, we got separated in Casper, WY. Stephen and Geoff stopped at Walmart (looking for the ever elusive pocket knife, chux pads and pop tarts) and Denise went to meet Heather. Somehow 3 of us went south and Stephen went north. Apparently the GPSs had a falling out and weren’t speaking to each other. :D

We crossed the border into South Dakota at 6:15 p.m… we were supposed to meet at the campground at 5:00. Glen and Sharon had some hot dogs and super yummy brats cooked up and waiting when we got there.

Some random sights on our way to South Dakota:
  • Looooooong trains full of coal.
  • Lots of prong horned Antelope/Deer
  • Lots and lots of really, really old abandoned cabins. (Geoff wishes he could get a grant to photograph them all!)
  • Country flattened out. Much lower, flatter mountains.
  • We’ve gone as much in one day as the pioneers took months to go.
  • They round bale the weeds on the side of the road.
  • Junkyards… one sprawled up the side of a hill.
  • Gracie saw a moose!
  • Milk = $4.69/gallon at the grocery store just before the campground!
  • 2 ‘good ol’ boys’ dragging Main on four wheelers.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

South Dakota Summer - Day 1

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Don't forget to check out Geoff's version of our trip, too! Why don't you just open up another tab right now by clicking with your mouse wheel right HERE?!

Having packed the van the night before and then continued packing all the next day, we left around 5:40 to meet up with Stephen & Stacey and Matt & Denise and Richard & Shannon in Salt Lake. Our plan to meet at Matt's place of employment was revised to meeting at the mouth of Parley's Canyon. When we discovered we were ahead of the others, we pulled over into a scenic view spot where they promptly drove right by. Accident or devious plan to ditch us? We may never know! :D When Denise called and told Geoff which mile marker they were passing and asked which one we were near he said, "Let's see... it looks like it says, "We got ditched!'" :D

Mowgli led most of the way due to his inability to not lead. And even though I gave him a really hard time about the cruise control (I sure had to adjust mine A LOT while following him!) he knows how much I love him! We followed him all the way into Rock Springs, WY, not realizing that Stephen’s family was booked at a different hotel than the rest of us were. We pulled into the Outlaw Inn (Best Western) at about 9:45 and put the kids straight to bed... pretty much... Ratatouille was playing on TV. :D The girls lay crosswise on the second Queen, Landon slept in his new Lightening McQueen sleeping bag and Ethan slept in the port-a-crib on a raised platform in an open closet. :D Becca cried for probably about an hour, eventually slept, but only until about 6:30am. Hope she sleeps in the van today. (She never did) She’s already munching her fingers.

My beautiful rendtion of our awesome van. That's our new-to-us two tone (tan/brown) car top carrier full of bedding and the trailer hitch shelf on the back with Becca's chair wrapped up in a tarp. The shelf also held the cooler and our bags were all stacked up in the back-a-back where her chair usually goes. This way her chair wasn't buried and we could get it out when we stopped.

 And yes, in case you're wondering, it did look like we had a person tied up and wrapped in a tarp on the back of our van! :D

Thursday, June 30, 2011

National Ability Center

I'm not going to try to resist the temptation to just post the link to Geoff's blog and call it a day. :D He did a great job telling about our adventures at the National Ability Center. Plus, he has all the great pictures up over there, too. :) I took most of them to be honest. Even when Becca is participating, I can't help being the standby support person, I guess. Old habits die hard! :D

It was incredibly awesome to do something that centered around Becca instead of circling around her, if you know what I mean. She got to try everything first and her siblings loved hanging out with her and trying things that she thought were fun. :D Plus, it is always so much fun to hang out with our Deafblind friends! :)

The thing that surprised me the most? How much she loved swinging 30 feet in the air! That was the activity that got the biggest smiles! And she even went to the effort of holding her head up and looking around. She really, really loved it! It did my mother's heart so much good to see her having so much fun!

I love my family!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Technology: can't live with it, can't live without it

The bad news is: the new ipod went kaput. The REALLY bad news is: it was my camera of choice for the past few months and it had A LOT of pictures on there that are now also kaput. :(

I'm not a good scrapbooker. I'm not a good journal-er. I'm not even a good blogger. But I am a good picture taker. We have folder upon folder of pics between hubby, his artistic eye and new camera and me and my point and shoot. The point and shoot went kaput long ago, but the same day we tried to figure out what happened to the ipod, we bought it a new battery and it's working again. Yay! But that still leaves the hole of the past few months. Some things I remember taking pictures of with the ipod:

My new mother's day sewing machine... that's still in the sewing room, I could take more pictures of that.

Ethan... who has probably changed the most, given his age. In snow boots from cousin Alex's baby days. Wearing silly hats. Crying his eyes out for Daddy to get home... there was a video of that one... very sweet.

I had a couple of tutorials I was going to blog about, like how to make a skirt longer so it's modest. And also a series of pictures of Emily sewing for the first time totally by herself.

Tons of hilarious mashed up face pictures that the kids made using an app that stretches and squishes your face in different ways. It seems like every time I picked the ipod up, there would be more of those. :D Mostly of Gracie. :D

Landon hiding. Landon sleeping. Landon making funny faces and wearing silly things.

My phone was in one pocket and the ipod in the other most days. I pulled it out and just snapped us... life... whatever was in front of me that I wanted to remember. I love technology and all the fun stuff that goes along with it, but when it goes wrong like this... it sucks.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Keto Krazy Weekend

I was all ready to take to Facebook this morning and rant about our home health company. They really messed up this time and my precious daughter was going to pay for it. That is not okay with this Mama Bear. But then something amazing happened that deflated my anger-filled balloon.

Recently, our home health care company switched over to a different company. Becca gets her emergency oxygen supply (used to make sure she gets enough oxygen during a seizure) and her diapers from their office in Lindon. That's about 15 minutes down the road. She gets her food and supplies for tube feeding from their offices in Salt Lake, about 40 minutes the other direction. However, the food itself, KetoCal, the delicately balanced nutrition that has kept seizures at bay for so long, comes from Arizona first and then routes through Salt Lake to our house. We have been getting all of her orders on time or early for over a year now. Just when we start to run out, another order comes. Each can does about 2 1/3 days' worth of liquid formula.

Last week, long about Friday, we noticed that we were unusually low and that a new batch had not yet arrived. We had had calls from the new company double checking things and we thought we were set for the roll over. I made several phone calls and received several and they told me it would probably be here Monday, Tuesday at the latest. We had enough to get to Tuesday and so we kept on as usual.

Saturday we went to Taylorsville to visit my Mom for Mother's Day and Sunday we were preparing to go to Tooele to visit with Geoff's Mom. As we were getting kids in the car, the baby knocked over the pitcher of Becca's food for the day all over the garage floor. Okay, so now we didn't have enough for a whole day on Tuesday, but we would be fine if the formula showed up on Monday. As these things go, the formula of course did NOT show up on Monday. We used what we had and made more phone calls as now we had approximately 1 serving out of 5 for Tuesday. And that wouldn't be so bad, but her class was going on a field trip and it wasn't like I could just run stuff over to the school when it came. Everything that comes for her comes through UPS and they always deliver in the afternoon. Always.

So, here we were on Tuesday morning talking to people on the phone who were telling us they were doing the best they could. I wanted to scream, "NO! If you were doing the best you could, this would never have happened! We would not be the family that is out on a limb now with no food to feed their daughter!" Geoff made a mad dash to the nearest grocery store to buy heavy cream and egg substitute to make a "Ketogenic-friendly egg nog" that doesn't do the job quite as well as the formula, but is way better than nothing. She is given 2 of her feedings at school, so we put the last serving of KetoCal in one bottle and one serving of "egg nog" in the other bottle and sent her on her way.

Lo and behold, after everyone was gone for the day the doorbell rang! Either someone gave him a heads up or our knight in shining brown shirt and shorts decided to do his route backwards today, but there was that great big brown UPS truck in front of our house bringing Becca her food! I shouted Thank You and he had to stick his head back out of the truck and so I shouted it again, "Thank you SO much!!" I went back in and hit my knees and after many many 'Thank Thees,' I prayed for that delivery man to be blessed proportionately to how much he had blessed us! I know he was the face I saw at the end of the line of people who tried to help us over the past few days. I'm still a little miffed that it had to happen in the first place, I must say. But I guess all's well that ends well.

Becca went on a fishing field trip and brought back a real, used-to-be-alive fish in her bag! :D That was a new one! Her Intervener (Aide) wrote this in her journal:

Becca had a great time fishing today. She laughed all the way to Salem on the bus. She got to hold the fishing pole and reel her own real fish in. Her fish is in a plastic bag in her backpack. We ate in a big room there. Becca was looking around the whole time with a smile on her face. She smiled all the way home!

Indeed, all IS well that ends well! :)

Friday, May 06, 2011

The Psychology of Writing

So, the writer trapped inside of me has been screaming and pounding on the other side of her door trying to get out. I usually tell her to get in line behind the dishes that need doing, the laundry that needs folding, the house that needs cleaning and if that doesn't work, the kids usually chase her right back in there and slam the door tight. This is a euphemistic way of saying that what I 'need' to do feels like it suppresses what I 'want' to do. I'm sure I am the ONLY person that feels this way in the whole wide world! ;) I mean, talk about my id, ego and super ego duking it out, right? I tell ya what!

In addition to continuing to work on my favorite 3 novel-length stories, I decided to challenge myself and do short bits of writing, too. For those days or moments when letting that creative writer out of her room to do a burst of writing would do me worlds of good. I actually created a blog for this very purpose. I laughed when I discovered that the first post was in 2006 and the next in 2008! It's not that that's all I have written in that amount of time, but that is all that I have written that is short enough to make sense sharing in a blog format. At the moment, I have decided to keep the blog private as my first baby step to maybe someday being published. As much as it is somewhat embarrassing and overwhelming to think of other people who are not me reading what I have written, I think it would be good for me to hear what other people think. Good or bad. Like it or not!

If you would like to be a part of my first readers outside of family, please find a way to get me your email address and I will send you a top secret invite. You can leave it in a comment or send me a message on Facebook.

One of the catalysts for me being brave and diving in has been a very interesting BLOG that combines Psychology and writing. He uses his background in Psychology and Counseling to diagnose his characters and really get to know them. I do this in my own way, being fascinated by Psychology as I have been since my first class in college. His textbook approach has been very thought provoking for me as I try to understand these characters I create. It has led me to make sure the way my characters act and the decisions they make are congruent with the type of person they are... that they have an aligned psyche, so to speak. That they make sense.

Aligned psyche... what a cool phrase! :D

So, if you're interested in reading what I actually write instead of just hearing about how I want to write, but don't... gimme a jingle! And make this the day you dive in and try that thing you've always been wanting to devote more time to!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I finally got asked to Prom!

Theme: I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton

I had my hair done at Stacey and Shannon's Chic Salon. Don't bother trying to get an appointment, they only work with the most exclusive, discerning clientele. I borrowed jewelry from the posh Heather's Haus of Jewelry. Pearl necklace and earrings that came with their own body guard. My blouse came from Denise's Tip Top Tailoring, which was way better than what I showed up in. (Don't blame me, I didn't know!) I did my own nails myself the night before, a completely happy accident.

Denise stayed up half the night trimming these leaves. Not to mention all of the other gorgeous decorations and yummy food! She rocks!

We went to this VERY exclusive restaurant. I'm pretty sure it was one of those things that disappears at midnight. Sorry you won't ever get to go there. They have the best lasagna and jello jigglers around. And the cheesecake? Fugeddaboudit!

I even got a goblet for my china cabinet... now if I only had a china cabinet. :D Geoff's and his siblings' Prom goblets are in his Mom's china cabinet and I freely admit my jealousy of such a trinket and what it represents. And now I have one!

All of this was a complete surprise to me. Geoff set it all up, including a babysitter. (Yep, I was THAT kind of Prom date) ;D So, as the dancing started, I asked if they had all learned a Promenade dance too, without telling me. I know, in Tooele, you have a date to Promenade that may or may not be your same date to the dance and you go to practices and everyone learns this choreographed dance that you all do together and parents stand on the balcony and take pictures and video. I almost got to go to Geoff's youngest sister's Promenade, but I was heavily pregnant (as in due any day) and had to miss it. We didn't do a Promenade... but there's always next year! ;D

Love these ladies!!!

It was fun to have a partner for every dance and never be left sitting there by myself. :D We were the goofy couple that couldn't stop laughing together. We also stole kisses, which is something high school me would never have even considered!

And so it was that after 12 years of marriage and even more than that since I DIDN'T get asked to Prom that I left my 5 children with a babysitter and went to the best Prom ever with my one and only true love and had the time of my life! Thanks, Hubby! You da Bomb!