Remembering Sheriff

When we moved to Germany I didn’t want a dog. We planned to travel, my kids were little and dogs are an expensive hobby.

Then one day I woke up and knew: someone was missing. I’d say I was baby hungry but I definitely didn’t want to do that again. Jason and the kids had been talking about getting another dog and I knew it was time. The knowledge…irritated me.

Like a good steward I began the research process and after nearly a month we brought home our big, fluffy, curly brown puppy–a five-month-old Flatdoodle named “Sharif” (shar-eef) Jason took one look at his darling brown mustache and renamed him Sheriff because, “He’s going to be an American dog now.” It was…love. For all of us. At five months he was house trained, leash trained, and instinctively ready to step into his role and manage the children. That was in March of 2012.

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Meeting Sheriff, 16 weeks

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First day home

I remember when he was about a year old and still sleeping in a crate in the boys room. One time in the middle of the night he started barking like mad. I was so tired and irritated I came down and yelled at him. Before heading back I stopped over at the boys…Rex was burning up with fever. Sheriff knew.

He was the Nana to my John and Michael. Babies, puppies, guinea pigs–babysitting was his favorite thing to do.

Our children loved this dog. Georgia has spent most of her life with Puppy at her side. The hours–HOURS–the girls have spent crawling and riding and climbing and playing with that dog. Georgia went through a biting phase (for like a year and a half) where she’d jump on him when he was sleeping and bite him. He never flinched. Total honesty? I still catch her biting him sometimes and she’s almost five. He loves her, she’s his baby and he’s her “little brother.”

Moving to Las Vegas last year was difficult. Actually it was one of the toughest things we’ve done. We came to a new house and spent six weeks without furniture or household goods, Jason left us for a four month work assignment, and my kids had no friends.

Except Sheriff. Always Sheriff. Always ready to wear a princess tutu or take an early morning walk with Harrison in the lonely Nevada fall weather, always at my side or laying on my feet (or my laundry piles) or silently lurking in the kitchen for a little snack. If the kids started to fight, he was right in the middle to break them up. If I started to yell and lose my temper, he’d get right in my face, jump up with his massive paws on my shoulders, and tell me to cool it. You’ve never seen anything like it. In total honesty, he’s probably the reason I didn’t spank kids, Sheriff never would have allowed it. cuddle sheriff2 cuddle sheriff1 sheriff family6 sheriff1 IMG_3646 IMG_3645

 

Nights were the hardest last fall without Jason but I never felt frightened. My boy slept at the top of the stairs and frequently prowled the house at night. On more than one occasion I woke to the sound of his deep, rip-your-throat-out growling, stationed at the front door and ready to kill whatever or whoever dared to linger too long on the sidewalk in front of our house. When we first moved in we had a number of repairmen come through to work on appliances. He was friendly to almost all of them, except one. One fellow had been here nearly an hour (seemed perfectly normal) and came in to talk to me. Sheriff sat stiffly pressed against my legs and halfway through the conversation he launched himself at the man and almost bit the dude’s hand before I pulled him back.

Dogs know. They always know.

Watching Harrison struggle through sixth grade without a single school friend last year was brutal, but on his hardest days he’d run into the house to his dog, and the two of them would disappear into his room during homework, inseparable. Once Jason returned Sheriff resumed his sleeping place back on the end of Harrison’s bed. Boys and dogs. And not just Harry, Rex’s teachers know more about Sheriff than they do about Rex. sheriff family5 sheriff family4

Last week we took our family to Texas for a wonderful week of cousin fun with two of Jason’s sisters and their families. Sheriff stayed with one of his sisters–they have a new little dog named Daisy. Cousins for everyone.

Not everyone likes dogs. My brother-in-law isn’t a dog fan and hasn’t liked their dog at all. In fact, she sleeps in a crate in the back room. Sheriff moved in for a week and the moment he saw Philip he loved him. Always sat by him, slept next to his side of the bed, quietly by his side…no one can resist Sheriff’s affection. It’s non-invasive and gentle and totally unconditional.

photo-4Our last day in Texas was Rex’s birthday party. That silly dog wore a party hat around the house for half an hour for Rex. We decided spur of the moment to head to the water park. –I’m sorry, I have to write about it. I have to say it out loud. — We were just in a rush…he jumped in one of the cars…no one knew he was in the back and we left for the water park. It was too hot…I can’t. I can’t say it.

A few weeks ago a little boy here in Henderson died really tragically. It was a Mormon family and Jason felt really strongly like we needed to take all our kids and attend the services. We kept asking ourselves, what’s going to happen? Who are we going to lose? Why are we so compelled to do this and teach this right now? I am so thankful that our family was prepared for this.

We felt immediately like this was, indeed, part of a much larger plan. The night of the accident, my sweet brother in law went into his home after we got back from the Vet and he took down that dog crate. Their dog will never be shut out of their family again.

Sheriff always had that kind of impact, people who don’t like dogs wanted to keep him forever.

I want you to know that I have incredible angels. I have been stopped time and again with reminders to turn off a stove, or get a kid out of a car seat, things that would have brought about tragic results if unattended to. Both Jason and I feel like Sheriff came to our family for a reason. He got us through this move, he saved my sweet boy from total loneliness, he protected us when Jason was gone, he loved us constantly and quietly and with no strings attached.

In the wake of this tragic loss we were (divinely?) led to what is about to become the new baby of our family. Duchess is a St. Berdoodle and will be coming home to stay on July 11th. We drove from Albuquerque to Riverside, CA in one day so we could pick her out as a family.

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To those of you who don’t want to get a dog because they’re too much work or you’ll get too attached or they shed (ours didn’t), I hope you change your mind. A dog is the glue that keeps a family together. It’s the one member who always loves everyone else all the time.

We have found great comfort and peace in our knowledge that Heaven is for real. As crazy at it sounds, we’ve seen huge blessings in our life the past few days and felt honored to have loved this noble animal. Heavenly Father must have needed him home pretty badly to take him from our arms. We’re hoping there’s a boy up there who could really use a dog to love.

Don’t rest Sheriff, play and swim and we’ll see you on the other side. IMG_3395

 

Because I’m basically a felon

We drove to Texas over the weekend. That means 22 hours in Big Green with four kids and the dog, slowing down only long enough to let kids pee by the side of the road.

We’ve been making long runs with children for over a decade. As young parents we frequently drove all night–through the snowy pass–on our way home for the holidays without batting a single sleepy eye. But this trip we learned an unfortunate truth called, “We Are Not Young Parents Anymore.”

I blame Jason for turning 40. Then there’s also the little remnant of PTSD I have of semis at night time due to that unfortunate autobahn accident, which has completely removed me from the helpful night driver equation. About nine Jason asked me to drive so he could sleep and push through to Texas.

I lasted a total of 45 minutes, passing semi after semi before I thought my heart was going to explode and my sweaty hands were gripping the steering like it alone could save us from The Ring.

We finally rolled into Tucumcari, New Mexico about 1:00 am (pitiful). We were both exhausted, blowing cold air on our faces and listening to a station broadcasting local UFO sitings (I’m not making that up) just to get to the next town.

The room rate was $39.99. In hindsight it wouldn’t have been a big deal to get two rooms but at one in the morning you’re not thinking straight. So like the mastermind we apparently are, we hatched a plan based on the following situation assessment.

1. We did not budget a room for the night in our cash vacation plan.

2. We can’t leave the dog in the car but he never barks or sheds (much), so he doesn’t really count as a dog.

3. We have four kids but we all know that four kids awake is comparable to two kids asleep, they’re really more like a bunch of corpses who can sleep anywhere that we can move and revive when the sun comes up.

4. We always always always pay the annoying extra fee for crowding our little children into a room. At 1 in the morning at a janky Motel 6 in New Mexico we just didn’t want to do it.

So, like the pair of guilty felons we apparently are, we drove quietly around to the back side of the motel, whispering our naughty plan like a couple of dim witted burglars who forget that you can talk in a regular voice in the car.

“Okay, I’m going to quietly carry the kids and you wait here in the car with the dog. After we’ve been in for five minutes, sneak him up the back stairs and I’ll leave the door cracked…”

My heart was pounding out of my chest as Jason and the boys and our two corpse children slunk off to our assigned room. I sat in the car with the dog, who I’m pretty sure knew we were doing something illegal.

It was the longest five minutes of my week.

Finally I got the dog out of the car, let him mark our territory (lest anyone else roll in before morning and try to pee there), and the two of us stealthily floated up to our room without disturbing the air. This was because I failed to breathe. Obviously when you’re breaking the law you should refrain from breathing as much as possible. Self-inflicted death penalty.

For the record, I then experienced the worst night of sleep I’ve had in years. It was guilty sleep, if anyone moved or any sound came from the outdoor walkway I jumped up, ready to admit that yes, we snuck in two extra kids and a dog and it was me, all me! I did this! I forced my family into this illegal act!!

I finally slept the last three hours. When the sun came up we woke to the sound of dogs outside and kids running along the outdoor railing.

Somehow I got the feeling we weren’t alone.

Jobs of all sorts

Well, the kids are home for the summer and I don’t know how I’m going to have time to wash their underwear let alone parent them. Those dollar store panties are looking pretty disposable right about now.

I haven’t had a moment or an inkling to write a darn word for over a month now. This is mostly due to the insanity that has become my life. I’ve started working for Inside Henderson in their marketing department selling advertising, while simultaneously planning my niece’s wedding. I’m either working on one or worrying on the other. And don’t even get me started on my food storage anxiety, I have become the spreadsheet queen of the universe. Everything has a spreadsheet except my bed because I never have time to make it anymore. All rumpled all the time.

Here’s what I’ve learned about sales so far.

1. Don’t ever approach someone who doesn’t know you with a sales proposition.

2. Don’t ever suggest they buy what you have to sell.

3. Try not to talk, period.

And don’t even get me started on the wasted hours of emailing potential customers. Ha, potential nothing. People hate emails. Maybe I’m just missing the boat in my subject box. Maybe I need catchier titles, like, “Roses are red, money is green, advertise with us and you will be seriously swarmed with new customers.”

And as for my food storage, it’s like this obnoxious itch that makes me crazy all day long. If I could just finish this project (we’ve been working on our long-term food storage since ’08) and wash my hands of all these blasted wheat kernels maybe I could sleep at night instead of worrying about how many #10 cans I can store under Georgia’s bed. The heat here has made our garage a no-go option so everything needs an inside home.

Would it be tacky to use #10 cans as step stools in the bathrooms? What about building book shelves with the boxes? End tables? I know, we could put them under our dining room table and make it counter height.  Classy.

I don’t care how I do it, by the end of June I will have my 900 lbs of recommended wheat stuffed into the cracks and crevices of this house, not to mention the lengthy list of edible counterparts we still need to purchase. So close I can taste it. I have to admit, it’s not as tasty as a Double Double from In-n-Out but it will do in a pinch.

Surgically speaking I’m doing swell–the swell part has nothing to do with swelling which is mostly gone and what’s left is frequently ignored. It’s swimsuit season and it makes me…uncomfortable. I don’t know, part of me feels like such a fake when I put on a swimsuit and it doesn’t look as terrible as it should. Like I didn’t do nearly enough crunches to get this nice flat stomach so it’s false advertising. Part of me feels like it’s only honest for me to wear a sign to the water park that says, “Need boobs? Call Dr. Peterson, he did mine.” I have a friend who did a similar mommy makeover tell me that it took her six to eight months to finally adjust to how she looked.

First world problems, I know.

 

Camping pansies

Last weekend we went camping.

A word of advice, if you are only four weeks out from a major surgical procedure that involved just about every aspect of your torso, don’t go camping.

That aside, I love camping (not backpacking). This is probably because Jason is super organized and usually makes sure we have everything we need. I get to sit around and play my ukulele while he sets up and cooks dinner–it’s a perfect world. You can see why I thought it would be an easy weekend, how much work can it really be?

Thing is, it wasn’t the work as much as the lack of comfort and supplies and decent equipment. Oh my aching abdomen.

This brings me to a hard realization: we are not prepared for living in the wilderness.

If we learned anything this weekend it’s that Georgia pretty much hates nature. I hope that girl never gets caught in a natural disaster and has to use her 72 hour pack because she’ll be miserable. Better for her to get washed away in the flood.

A few days before we left we were riding in the car and Georgia says (insert lisp), “Mom, when the world endth Jethus comes are we gonna hafta live in the woodth?”

“Um…I don’t know baby, maybe?”

“Oh great. I HATE the woodth.”

She proved it last weekend.

Part of the problem with camping is the fact that we haven’t camped in four years (pre-Europe). That means we were only able to locate about half our camping stuff and we never did find our tents. Luckily Jason’s folks recently gave us some of their old tents and we packed them without actually checking to see what was inside the bags.

Imagine Jason’s surprise (delight?) when he unearthed his circa 1984 color block hikers tent that he got as as Boy Scout. The poles had to be duct taped to the stakes and once set up it looked like a really bad version of a wind breaker. But hey, it was shelter and Rex isn’t very picky.

We went with our good friends the Morris’ and drove over three hours to Horse Thief Gulch way in the Nevada nowhere. Gorgeous camp sites and crazy good fishing. Plus I had my Shannon there to entertain me and our kids all had friends. That part was really fun (and the new big rectangle marshmallows Jason found, they were a highlight).

The nights, however, were freeze-your-feet-off 40 degree weather for most of us–except Rex. Of course the ancient Boy Scout tent was the only shelter that actually kept anyone warm.

But man, our camping stuff is in seriously poor condition. Half the sleeping bags have sprung zippers, two of our three air mattresses were flat by morning (worst two nights of my life), our lantern didn’t make the move and we couldn’t find any of our Dutch Oven stuff. Honestly, without that duct tape and our super prepared friends we would have been up a gulch.

So this summer we are going to save up for some decent camping equipment…like a tent. Tents are good. And something to sleep on that won’t deflate if a thorn pricks it.

Someday I will grow up and be a real prepper but let’s be honest, I am really bad at this get-your-crap-together stuff. I keep trying to make lists to work on but it seems like so far the only things I’ve successfully added are duct tape and zip ties (and mascara which I picked up in bulk last week). And cold weather clothes. We finally have long underwear and waterproof pants squirreled away just in case.

But my list is wide and deep. Like hats. We don’t have beanies and I keep thinking I’ll make them…but who’s got time for that?

After this weekend hats and socks are top of my list. Give me two months and I will give you warm heads and toasty toes–that’s about how far my budget will get me.

 

 

Runaway Bags

I am pleased to report that we are officially prepped for almost any 72-hour disaster.

It only took me four months.

You’d think that putting together a few bug out bags would be a fairly simple, inexpensive procedure. How much do you really need? A little food, something to stay warm, a handful of candy…done. When I first started getting down to the nitty gritty I decided to begin with what we had on hand.

It didn’t get me very far.

Here’s your warning. If you haven’t started assembling individual kits for your family (and I’m not talking about an oversized can of vacuum packed food, I’m talking about a for real Runaway Bag) you’d better find a dedicated place to park them because this process is not fast. Unfortunately our current residence is the size of a postage stamp so my assembly area was right in the middle of the family room–for three months.

I did so much research and started out with a head full of too-much information. In order to simplify this for someone else, I’m going to itemize our Runaway Kid Bug-out Bags. The kid versions differ from mine and Super Dad’s, but I think we’ve mostly nailed them. My best advice? Keep it real and applicable to your own family.

Ours include: 1. Smallish backpack 2. Socks 3 pair 3. Undies 2 pair (because changing our underwear is obviously going to be a top priority) 4. Set of clothing  5. Sweatshirt 6. Hiking shoes tied to pack 7. Mylar sleeping bag and tent 8. Crayons and paper or playing cards (in Runaway Bin) 9. Life Straw (boys packs) 10. Water bottles 3 11. Food packet (just stuff my kids will eat) 12. Candy 13. Hand crank flash light 14. Whistle 15. Matches 16. Copy of passport and personal info 17. Full set of Scriptures (military size) 18. First Aid kit 19. Hygiene kit with hand warmers…

I ran out of space in the girls’ packs and still need to put their passport and personal info in plus life straws. Not putting in whistles or matches because I want them to survive in case something happens and 72 with a whistle…they might not make it.

I pulled part of June’s pack out as proof, pics. below. You can see how tiny the packs are…Harry’s is larger and I think I’m going to move Rex into a bigger shell as well.

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In our Parent Packs we’ve included a small camping stove and a large water filter for the family plus a ton of Jason’s uber special survival gear he’s acquired over the years. His pack is insane. That’s a post in and of itself and I don’t think I’m even supposed to say what all he’s got in there.

My pack? Probably the most poorly put together. I haven’t even put any extra clothing in because I can’t decide what to wear. I’m trying to narrow down a shade of lipstick to put in my emergency makeup kit but it’s giving me anxiety. I wish they just made a “wilderness” lipstick, something along the lines of Beautiful Disaster. Waterproof mascara for sure, that’s a no-brainer. Oh, food and Excedrin.

The cool and irritating thing about this project is how many things we’ve come up with that don’t fit in our packs but would be seriously nice to have on hand. You give yourself a few months to think on it and let me tell you, stuff that you never thought you might need suddenly sounds so essential. I finally pulled out a big rubbermaid bin and started randomly dropping things into it, everything from rubber bands and zip ties to a ream of paper and extra crayons. Again, another post for another time.

Then one afternoon I started thinking about the weather, what if it’s crazy cold and we have to run away form Las Vegas in the middle of a snow storm? I immediately organized everyone’s cold weather gear into a large separate duffel to make sure no one dies of hypothermia.

This year our goal is to finish up our preparedness in case the dam quits working or Jason loses his job, or our neighborhood catches on fire and we have to evacuate, or maybe the zombies all wake up and man, no one wants that to happen.

But.

If it does, we will be prepared. We’re finishing up our year’s supply of food right now (all the wheat/rice/oats/beans are done) and then a few wish list items, then we can sit back and wait for a natural disaster to never, ever, EVER happen.

Because if I have to pick, I really hope all this stuff gets dusty and old and my kids grow up and prep out their own households because it’s what their parents taught them. Then their kids can learn and so on and so forth, so that someday when it all turns upside down my future babies and grand babies and greats will all know how to have a family evacuation plan and can grab their packs and their snow boots and do what they have to do.

It feels good to have it together.

 

 

Tres Leches and the broken heart

One of the downsides (upsides?) of my surgical recovery is the massive amount of time I spend on Pinterest. I feel sorry for everyone who follows me because I’ve turned into an erratic researcher who flits between my Zombie Takeover Prep board and my Preschool Ideas like a thirsty mosquito.

The board that has probably seen the most attention is my food board. I’m not a dessert maker but I can’t seem to get away from anything and everything sweet.

My father-in-law retired on Friday after 40 or so years in the health care industry, finishing his last decade+ at Timpanogos Regional Hospital in Utah County as the hospital administrator. This is a major achievement and we’re all incredibly proud of him (but really just excited to have him around whenever we want).

They are coming this weekend to help out as Jason goes back to work tomorrow full time. I’m up way more and feeling good but oh, the swelling. The more I do the more I swell and it’s a painful irritant. I’d like to think I can do laundry and vacuum and reach way up high into the cupboard but that’s just stupid.

And so, what do you get when you combine mass Pinteresting + A Family Celebration + A Recovering Surgical Patient Who is Bored Out of Her Skull and Wants Something to do?

tres leches photoTres Leches.

I decided last night that I was going to get off the couch and make Tres Leches. It’s one of my current Pinterest obsessions and a dessert my girls and Jason love (and I’m pretty sure my FIL does as well). My girl Shannon came over to assist (make sure I didn’t kill myself) and the process began.

Holy Tres Leches, this is not a simple cake.

We spent over half an hour MIXING the darn thing. We’re talking a four or five bowl process with lots of separated eggs and whippings and foldings and siftings and cursings. I never could have done it without someone there reading off instructions and fetching hard to reach bowls. Half way through the process my entire incision began to throb and I knew I was in it, but what do you do? You commit.

Finally the beautifully folded batter went into the buttered baking pan and I lovingly slid it through the oven door, starting the timer on the stove for 40 minutes.

And that was just round one. I still had to put together the milk mixture. Gah.

I finally bid my dear Shannon goodbye and went to FaceTime Geneva, my long lost friend from Germany.

You know when you haven’t talked to your old friend in like, forever, and you have so much to say and kids to want to look at the screen…

Long story short, the timer when off. I didn’t hear it because it only beeped once. While I was busily gabbing away Rex, my darling 9-year-old, obediently turned off the timer and went back to watching his movie.

And the cake baked.

And baked.

And I smelled it baking.

And I wondered how long it had been in that oven but didn’t worry because I HAD SET THE TIMER.

Finally I said goodbye and followed my nose into the kitchen, glancing at the clock and realizing it had been way more than 40 minutes…like nearly an hour.

Oh the cake. It was so burned it had literally pulled away more than half an inch from the edges all around and was sitting in the pan like a hardened lump of stale bread.

So I yelled (which hurt my stomach). I yelled at my boy Rex who had no idea what the timer was for and had only turned it off because it seemed like the right thing to do. I yelled at him for ruining my cake and ruining Grandpa’s retirement dinner and ruining all my hard work and you just get yourself right to bed, young man!

Rex (my lightly Autistic sweetheart), burst into tears and apologized then raced to his room to hide under his blankets.

In less than five minutes I knew I had just burned way more than the cake. My Rex is tender-hearted to the extreme, when his sister Georgia kicks and hits him and I tell her she’s going to go to jail for assault and battery, he’s the one who cries and tells me it’s okay, she’s just little, can’t I please forgive her?

I trudged up the stairs to Rex’s room and there he was, cocooned beneath all his blankets. I peeled the layers back and told him how sorry I was and how it wasn’t his fault, what a good kind boy he is, how I knew he was just trying to do the right thing.

“Well-well-well, Mom,” he sobbed trying to cover his sweet face, “Ya just-just-just…ya broke my heart! That’s all, my heart is broke!”

Worst thing a mother can hear. I hate it when I break his heart (it’s happened once or twice before) but I kissed him and gave him space to mend. Bad Mother of the Week right here, people.

A good night’s rest works wonders and apparently so does Tres Leches because today when Rex woke up, he forgave me and asked if we could make a new cake together, a vanilla one. And when I checked the burned out husk of my Tres Leches (which Jason insisted I finish just in case the milk was magical) what do you think I found? A deliciously soppy Mexican dessert fit for a king…a retired king at least.

 

 

In case you ever wondered if God was okay with plastic surgery…

The answer is yes. Why? Because  when a person approaches Heavenly Father and says, “Hey, I’d really like to undergo major surgery that will require weeks and weeks of healing and serious pain and discomfort to my person–drain tubes, pain medication, the inability to laugh without crying for who knows how long–just the usual surgery stuff. Is that okay with You?”

The answer is most likely always going to be yes. Sign yourself up for a major learning experience? Put yourself through level ten pain? Knock yourself out kid. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Heavenly Father preferred it this way. Makes His job easier.

I’m a week and a half out of surgery and still living in my granny nightgowns that zip up the front. I knew this was going to be painful, I planned so carefully to make sure I had all the right help and the right support system and the right undergarments and the right dry shampoo and the right list of things to watch on Netflix.

But the fact is no amount of preparation can make major surgery less painful. I have the feeling that a year from now–heck, maybe only six months–I’m going to be so very, very glad I did this. But the last 12 days have been so exhausting and so pain riddled that this is the first time I could actually muster the stamina to type.

I made the mistake of overdoing it earlier this week (too many trips to the latrine plus folding a load of laundry) and today I paid for it dearly. I don’t know when I’ve ever felt so alone, ill and in desperate need of my mother. Jason only had to work until noon and I had places for Georgia to go, but just laying on the couch trying not to die seemed more than I could bear. Then I found out my friend couldn’t take Georgia and Jason wouldn’t be home until 2 and it looked so bleak…

*And then my front door opened. It was my girlfriend Shannon, there to take Georgia before preschool to make sure she got fed and ready on time. This friend has been in and out of my house all week, putting food in the crock pot and taking my kids when I couldn’t lift my head off the pillow, a never ending stream of love and service. Incredible.

After she left I was grateful but oh, still so very sick. I fell into one of those coma sleeps where you aren’t resting just incoherent. Didn’t even have the energy to let the TV run. And then my front door opened again and there was Haley, my dear dear friend who had no idea I was suffering today but because she listens to the Spirit, showed up with an ice cold Diet Coke and the exact groceries I needed to get my kids through the rest of the day. She swooped in, unloaded things, made sure I had what I needed and put me back to sleep.

But in the back of my mind I knew Georgia was coming home any minute and that she’d be hungry and had no afternoon place to go. Then my phone beeped, and there was my friend Katie who was dropping her off, offering to keep Georgia for a few extra hours and take her to lunch. Blessed relief, I laid back and slept.

Again and again it happened. When Georgia got home, Shannon snatched her for me and dropped her off at my wonderful friend Angie’s house for the afternoon–Angie who is also taking her tomorrow but opened her doors today as well just to make sure I could rest.

And the icing on the cake? My doorbell rang tonight at 5:30 and there stood a perfect stranger with the most wonderful dinner we’ve had in forever. My new friend Rachel, who only knows me through this old blog, brought us a five star homemade dinner that shut my squalling brood right up. Who does that? Somebody wonderful, that’s who.

My sister Kerry called to check on me tonight and was so worried about me, but when I told her about all the amazing love and charity and support I’ve received today we both cried a little.

People are really wonderful. I signed up for a learning experience and today I learned that even in my hardest moments I am never, ever alone. It’s been a blessed day, worth every ounce of pain because the love was ten fold.

*I highly recommend leaving your front door unlocked when you’re not feeling well. Makes it so much easier for the angels to get in.

Under the knife + a little story

I’m proud of myself. Somehow I managed to get four hours sleep last night which is really saying something.

So this is it. Today is the day I go under the knife and come out with a lot less skin and a little more silicone. I’m terrified. I’m anxious. I’m excited. I’m crazy.

This is going to be so painful.

This is going to be so awesome.

I haven’t been able to write lately. I’ve been so darn busy working with InsideHenderson, a local mag here in the area, and trying to get my life together before this surgery that everything I think of in regards to writing seems shallow and pointless.

Although last week I did have something wonderful happen.

My kids have been insanely sick, shuffling through a six day flu of high fevers and miserable coughing. I have had someone home from school every day for almost three weeks now.

Two weeks ago I taught a lesson in Young Womens on forgiving others. The thing that really stuck out was the importance of remembering that we never know the whole story. Sometimes backstory, or at least being aware of what’s happening in the other person’s life, makes all the difference when it comes to our ability to forgive and understand. Good lesson to teach, great little reminder, nice message.

That night I was downstairs around 11 pm, the last one up and busy writing when I heard noises from upstairs. By the time I got up there June was sobbing and Jason was back in bed and I found that my little girl, who had been seriously sick for two days, had been ill-treated by her sleeping father. She needed water for her sore throat and he’d told her to go down and get it herself before heading back to bed. I checked her temperature and her fever was over 101…shall I introduce you to Mother Bear?

I stomped into our bedroom, flipped on all the lights, yanked the covers off my husband and let him have it. I shook my finger, I threw pillows at his head, I growled and barked and finally left the mostly unresponsive sleeping lump to his bad dreams.

I was furious. Seriously, they’re babies and they’re sick and honestly, is it really that hard to get a sick little girl a drink of water and some Motrin??

Somehow I made myself crawl into the far side of the bed (I might have worked a few shin kicks in while I was getting comfortable). I was fuming. All I could think of was how furious he’d made me, how I was going to let him have it tomorrow, how he’d have to do some serious work to make up for making my poor, sweet sick little baby cry for a drink of water. That thought alone made me want to kick him all night long.

I woke at 2:00 in a fog, needing to use the loo. As I stumbled to the bathroom I could hear one thing and one thing only: You must forgive him. You must forgive him for this. You must forgive him and move past this, forgive him.

Doing my best to ignore the voice, I made it back to bed and instantly slept.

I woke at 5 am and had to go again (I’ve had four children, don’t judge). Once more, the moment I hit my feet the pounding words hit my brain. Forgive him, do not judge him, be kind to him and forgive him. You have to forgive him. Just love him.

It was strong enough that I finally rolled my eyes and mumbled a grudging “OK!” before falling into bed for the last hour of blessed sleep (wish I could have done that last night, I was up by 4:30 and there’s no hope for me now).

The next morning I woke up refreshed and…nice. Seriously nice. Like, oh-look-there’s-my-sweet-wonderful-husband-who-I-love-and-adore-even-though-he-mistreated-my-baby. It was legit, I wasn’t angry in the slightest.

Jason? Totally sick. He was running a fever, his sinuses had started to clog in the night and by the time he left for work he’d started in on the hacking. I realized part of the problem, he was sick last night and I, in my anger, had missed it. Being a man he didn’t self-medicate and instead tossed and turned in misery of his own all nightlong. The whole thing made sense and I was glad I hadn’t held on to my anger.

That afternoon I was snuggling with June and suddenly, I turned and looked at her. “June,” I asked, “Did Daddy say anything to you this morning? About you crying last night?”

“Oh yeah,” she said with her big toothy smile, “He came in really really early and told me he was sorry for yelling at me and not getting me water, you know, just that he loves me and stuff.”

I am so glad the Holy Ghost instructed me before I really stuck my foot in it and made a total donkey out of myself.

 

Epic mommy fail

Today I completely failed a child.

There is something to be said for moving. I’m not talking about the emotional weight of restarting your life, this is the literal disassembly and subsequent reassembly of your patterns and objects and routines. No two houses are alike and therefore trying to rebuild your life exactly as it was before is like trying to make chicken soup with shrimp. Shrimp is good but it doesn’t taste like chicken and no matter how you stir it, the flavor will never be the same.

With that in mind, it should come as no shock that sometimes important things are left unattended. Things like…toothbrushes.

This shouldn’t have happened because from the first week we landed here in Las Vegas Jason has been pestering me to find the kids a dentist. We take six month checkups seriously and haven’t missed one in years, especially where the kids are concerned. August was the six month mark and Jason did his best to shame me into finding a dentist.

Honestly, the first six months of this move was like trying to disassemble then reassemble a cooked casserole, there was always something on my worry list that trumped checkups. In the meantime we were rebuilding the morning and evening routines, shuffling bathrooms and bedrooms, starting school and dance and sports and trying to remember to pray…my kids teeth took a back seat.

In Germany June and Georgia shared my bathroom. This meant I was present and accounted for when it came to all brushing and all forgetting to brush. June’s teeth were part of my personal hygiene routine. With the boys, as long as I frequently threatened them with detailed accounts of needles jamming into their gums and the sound of the power drill, they were pretty good about brushing and flossing their own teeth.

In this house June and Rex share a bathroom. In fact I’ve made it my mission here, thanks to my dear friend Jeanie, to make my kids clean their bathrooms every morning after they brush their teeth. I’ve made such a big deal about this whole “keep your bathroom clean” business that it’s kind of replaced my old “brush till you bleed” mantra. I say, “Go brush your teeth and CLEAN YOUR BATHROOM!”

Assuming that I’ve obviously taught June how to brush and floss I have stupidly been sending my daughter to the bathroom and trusting that her teeth were being properly cared for–the back ones too. Pair this with the fact that we blew through our last six month check-up and it’s suddenly been a year since we’ve been to the dentist…

Epic. Mother. Failure.

My sweet girl has seven cavities and is going to need a crown. She was absolutely mortified yesterday when the dentist was looking at her teeth and showing us the x-rays. She’s naturally a responsible little thing who takes her personal grooming seriously and this, this was a devastating disaster.

For those of you looking at a move this next year or still recovering from a move from last year, a word to the wise. If you haven’t found them yet remember, you can never put your life back together the way it was and if you’re not careful, something will get neglected and you’ll end up finding cavities. Whether it’s your personal health, a kid’s grades, the state of your garage, scripture study, or remembering to brush your third child’s teeth, keep your eyes open.

Stupid sugar bugs.

 

Saying goodbye to baseball

My husband loves to play baseball. He’s a great player, he’s a good coach, and he loves to come home from work and throw the ball with Harrison.

But we’ve been overseas on a military base for the past three years. The translation? Coaches come and go from one season to the next, there is no established program for the kids to work through, and it’s been three years of going through the motions with very little skill growth. No batting cages, camps, and certainly no off-season playing. Harry was a good player in Germany. But that was Germany.

We move to Vegas and suddenly Harry is surrounded by 11 and 12-year-olds who have been playing club ball and travel ball, many of them do it nine or ten months out of the year. These kids are good, they’re competitive, and they’re part of very established programs. Nine and ten-year-olds who can pitch over 55 mph? It’s like watching a mini-spring training camp.

My kid still thinks baseball is a fun after school team activity where you get a treat after the games.

Last weekend we had tryouts for the local teams. Every kid gets placed but they have to go through a series of drills in order to see where they’re playing skills fall.

Jason worked with Harrison so much the weeks before, nights at the batting cages and afternoons at the park doing grounders and fly balls, Harrison does pretty well when it’s him and his dad.

But you put him on a field with kids his age and you’d think the boy had never worn a batting glove. Everything flies out the window. I asked him after tryouts, “So what goes through your mind when you step into the batters box?”

“Nothing,” he said.

“Nothing? Like what do you mean?”

“I mean my mind goes completely blank. I just…think nothing.”

And that was exactly how it looked. My poor kid, during the very first drill where they were fielding grounders he hurt his index finger on his right hand. When he tried to show Jason and me we told him to get his butt back out there. Harry is historically a total baby when it comes to sport injuries, at almost 12 he needs to learn to shake it off. (Unfortunately we discovered by the next morning his injury was legit and warranted a trip to quick care and a finger brace.)

The rest of the day was a colossal disaster. I’m serious, he was the only kid who couldn’t hit off the pitcher, even when the guy started lobbing baby pitches at him. He couldn’t field, he couldn’t run…I sat in the bleachers and felt like I might lose my lunch on his behalf. His shoulders continued to droop lower and lower and I could see what little 6th grade self-esteem he has managed to hold onto completely dissipate in the hot Las Vegas sun.

Jason was sick about it. “What happened to him?” he asked me that night in the car during our date. “When I play with him he does alright. He’s not a star athlete but we have fun and he’s can hit the ball and has a great arm. Out there…my son can’t play baseball.”

There is something to be said for the hopes of a father. Whatever they are, academic dreams or athletic hopes or musical genius…when you want to see your child succeed at something and they fail it’s so personal. It’s a natural response to feel like you must have failed them, not given enough or nurtured their ability along. Sure, we shouldn’t feel that way. Sure, we’re not supposed to put pressure on our kids to please us. Sure, kids need to find their own paths and not be parent puppets.

But letting go of that hope is a tangible thing and I feel for every parent out there who has had to make that shift. Bless his heart, my husband did it with love and only an evening’s worth of heartsick regret.

The next day the head of the baseball association called to say that Harry had been placed on a team in the league below him. They were worried about his safety and frankly, so were we. Harrison was willing to play, wanted to go through with it despite his horrific tryout experience.

But sometimes you have to show your kid that a shift is okay with you. It’s a lot of pressure on a child to tell their parent that all the hours and all the money they’ve put into a sport has been wasted because really, they just want to paint.

That afternoon Jason sat Harry down and put his arm around him. “So,” he said. “Mom and I have been talking and since baseball hasn’t started yet, we’re wondering if maybe you’d rather do golf this year? We found a really great program just up the road…” Five minutes is all it took.

Our boy needed to know it was okay, that he wasn’t letting his dad down. I could see it in his eyes, the worry that Jason would be disappointed or feel like he’d wasted his time with Harrison. He tried to say that no, he wanted to play baseball but it was so obvious that he was really just gauging his dad’s reaction, looking to see if that was the answer Jason wanted. What Harrison really needed was confirmation that it was really, honestly okay to let it go.

Jason gave Harry permission to not be a baseball player.

Best dad ever. They can’t wait for him to start golf tonight.