Mar 31, 2013

Easter Eve

A little nervous!
I've repented of my attitude and we did some amazingly fun stuff today. Smith's had an Easter egg hunt at 8:30 this morning and I told the kids if they could drag themselves out we would attend. They were up watching a movie until midnight so I didn't even set an alarm.

Candy, candy, candy!
Didn't 7:45 I heard little voices in the hall waking everybody up. So we rolled out of bed and got dressed. Twenty minutes later we were at the store. We were totally prepared to walk away if there were big crowds, but the cars looked maybe a little busy for a Saturday morning so we unloaded the kids and made our way across the parking lot.

Since I didn't have the Easter baskets out of storage yet (they are now!), we grabbed each of the youngest four kids a grocery sack on our way in. All the other kids were too old to participate. The employees had blocked off four aisles and were busy tossing candy and plastic eggs on the floor. I took Baby Doll to the row for the 1 - 2-year-olds and the others spread out in their proper ages.

When the store manager called over the intercom, "Are you ready to GO?" All the little ones in our group ran into the aisle. I don't think that was the plan, but it seemed to work. Baby Doll stepped about a foot in and mostly sat down on a pile of dum-dums. She grabbed a plastic egg (with a coupon for free pudding inside) and then she scooped up all the candy she could reach on the floor. When that was all gathered up, she stood up and got the stuff that was underneath her. I thought it was a brilliant plan!

Sport and Scout scored almost as well except that they didn't get any of the plastic eggs. Curly didn't get anything. At the last minute he decided not to participate and he just stood there and watched as the other kids scooped up all the candy. Whose kid is he anyway?? I'm WAY more cut-throat than that, especially when it comes to candy!

After the egg hunt we canvassed the store for all the good deals and then piled back in the van. Instead of going home we made our way to Chick Fil A where I fed 11 of us a delicious breakfast for $22. I love coupons!

I spent a good part of the day helping the Dog Walker with his homework and Princess with an audition film she needs to send out. Drama Queen boiled 14 dozen eggs for us and the kids spent the evening coloring them and watching a Disney movie. We each even colored an egg in honor of Teach so she has a dozen eggs too. Not that she will be able to eat them, but we will take some pictures and send them to her. I'm sure they will have hard-boiled eggs in the MTC tomorrow.

I hope you all have an amazing Easter and you get to spend some time with your families!

Mar 30, 2013

Easter Traditions

We had a lot of people stop by our blog today and I'm guessing that is because they all wanted to see our Easter traditions. And we have done a few things for Easter this year. Today my sweetie got up early and made Hot Cross Buns in honor of Good Friday. They are so yummy! I love the fruit and nuts in them.

Princess helped with the icing.
On Wednesday he came home early from work to make Bunny Rolls so we could send some to Teach. And today I went to the store and bought 14 dozen eggs for coloring. That's a dozen eggs each. The kid checking at the store couldn't stop talking about the fact that I had 14 dozen eggs in my cart. I told him that we would only eat about half of them, but at 95 cents a dozen, it was awfully cheap entertainment. He couldn't argue with that.

I went to the dollar store and bought a cheap Easter basket to send to Teach. I filled it with all kinds of candy; little chocolate bunnies, Reese's eggs, Hershey's eggs, and Peeps. I even bought a bag of Kroger jelly beans to remind her of Smiths. I added 5 Bunny Rolls and last but not least, a headband with bunny ears on it just to be silly.

It cost me $13 to ship it from the UPS store to the MTC on a same-day delivery. I probably would have paid half that for gas to drop it off myself (if that were allowed), so I was happy. And remember Bossy's wreath project a few weeks ago and our Easter egg hunt...

I guess I'm only reminding you about all of this because tonight I sat Curly down and said, "We've got a problem." He gazed at me with his big blue eyes full of concern. "What is it?" I gave him my most serious look, "Where is the Easter Bunny going to put any candy for you?" He looked around. "On the pew?" he said hopefully. "What about your Easter baskets?" I answered.

At that point my sweetie jumped in. "The Dog Walker said we weren't doing any decorations this year." And he's right! We didn't. Not a speck of Easter at my house except for the wreath on my door. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because Teach is gone. Or maybe because Easter is so early this year. Or maybe because we had snow and the kids went sledding just last Saturday!

But you can read about our past Easter celebrations.

Whatever, this year I just can't get in the mood.

And you know what? In a couple of days it won't matter.

Mar 29, 2013

Early Enrollment

Did I tell you that Princess and Prima Donna are going to summer school? That's Salt Lake Community College! Yeah, I know, my 14 and 16-year-olds are going to be college co-eds. A little crazy!

We started the paperwork for early enrollment a few weeks ago. I'm not going to lie, it was a PAIN in the butt. We had to have official transcripts, letters from counselors, but most importantly was the test. If they could place in English 1010 and Math 1010, they were enrolled.

I knew Princess would be no problem but I was a little worried about Prima Donna's math scores. She is currently taking Geometry, so she hasn't even had Algebra II yet. But she passed with flying colors so here we go.

The girls did the online orientation but before they could register we had to visit with an academic adviser. Since they were out of school today for spring break and registration opened yesterday, I thought we'd better get it done. We showed up at their offices just before lunch. After some quick talking, they put us on the list. I only had about an hour and a half since I had to take Curly in for his kindergarten appt at 2:00.

We sat around for a while and then they were called back. We requested our time together and that made it go a bit faster, but just a tiny bit. She insisted on talking with each girl separately. She was good at her job, but I got the feeling she didn't much like parents. Twenty minutes later we walked out the door with the final requirement met. And now they are registered for their first college classes!

Everybody is just growing up so fast!

Mar 28, 2013

Getting Enough Sleep

Last night we played basketball from 9:00 to about 10:45. It was not an official game, but my friend, Pam, was on my team and I don't know what it is about her, but when we play together, I feel inclined to run a little faster and try a little harder. She never says anything that would make me feel that way, I just know she loves the game and her efforts make me want to play my best too.

We have no pics of me playing basketball. But this is our gym.
That said, after helping the Dog Walker with his homework until almost 3:00 AM, I was barely able to roll out of bed at 9:30 so I could get Curly to preschool! My sweetie just got through lecturing me about the evils of staying up too late and teaching the kids to do the same. He's probably know, early to bed, early to rise, and all that. It's just easier said than done.

I spent my day like this. After I dropped Curly at school, I stopped by to take care of a friend's dog while she is on vacation. Then I hurried home to help the Dog Walker finish his Humanities assignment. Unfortunately, I zonked out at 3:00 AM, but he was up until 5:00 AM working on it. At 11:00 he still needed a little more sleep, so I did some long overdue paperwork, paid bills, stuff like that until it was time to pick up Curly at noon.

The Dog Walker and I immediately went downtown for his appointment with the Missionary Department. He is hoping to serve a mission, but the counselor told us it is extremely unlikely that he will be sent out like Teach. He can serve his mission right here in town and live at home. He was quite relieved although he is the one pushing for a foreign mission. We had this conversation the other day:

Not getting any sleep stinks! Cute piggy nose!
Dog Walker:  I want to go to Japan on my mission. Do you think they teach Japanese classes at my college?

Me: Japanese is a hard language, why don't we try Spanish?

Dog Walker: Mom. They don't speak Spanish in Japan.

So it appears that Church Service it will be. That means he might work on Temple Square or in the Church History Library. He might work at the Bishop's Storehouse, handing out food to those with financial needs. It could be anything like that! I'll keep you posted.

We got home from that meeting at 4:40, just in time to take Scout to softball practice. While she was at practice, I st
opped by the cookie manager's house and turned in all my paperwork. Yay! Cookie
s are over for another year. Then I ran into the grocery store to grab a couple of things. It took longer than I planned and I had to race back to the house, quickly unload, and head back to the park to pick up Scout.

I dropped her in front of the house and then it was off to Tupperware training. I did win three pretty major prizes, so that was fun. When I got home, I grabbed a bite to eat (thank goodness I assigned Prima Donna to make dinner) and moved to the computer to help Dog Walker finish his assignment. He is still working on homework now and it's nearly 1:00 AM. I worry about his sleep schedule even more than mine. He has an 8:00 class and he is finished at the school at 2:00. Then he comes home, walks a couple of dogs, does homework, and gets ready to work the nigh shift. He gets off at 6:00 AM. That makes a long day for him.

But at least he has youth on his side. Me? I'm just getting old.

Mar 27, 2013

Raingutter Regatta

I have been so busy this week! Remember when I said I planned stuff last weekend so I wouldn't have time to miss Teach? Well, this stuff I didn't plan. It's been on the calendar for months. Tonight was Pack Meeting and not just any pack meeting, it was the Raingutter Regatta.

I didn't really have a hand in helping my kids make their boats. Other than a couple of trips to the store for supplies, my sweetie was in charge of that part. My job was awards, reminders, and gathering everything up from various places, including the raingutters.

Last year for the regatta we used candy bars for prizes. This year we decided the scouts would much rather have hats similar to the ones I embroidered for the Pinewood Derby. My sweetie made the designs on the computer and then I did all the embroidery on my machine. There were a dozen total and the last 7 I made today between 1:00 and 4:30 and yeah, it took pretty much all that time. I was stressing a little since I had to be at the church by about 5:30 to set up chairs. Thank goodness everything ran smoothly!

Usually the Dog Walker and I got over to the church early to set up, but I was afraid we would run into the volleyball boys again, so we didn't leave until after 5:30. This was pushing it since the scouts were due to arrive at 6:10. The race started at 6:30. But we took all the kids with us this time and I was amazed at how quickly they set up the tables and chairs.

The races proceeded quickly. Sport made an amazing boat that looked like a pirate ship. It was incredibly slow and only won its first race because the boat in the other gutter got stuck and never finished. Scout's boat made it all the way to the finals, but was edged out in the second to last race. She was excited anyway because both she and Sport won the Best Looking Boat, his in the Cub Class and hers in the Open Class.

That was all we won for today, but that's OK. Curly was pretty disappointed and cried for quite a while until he discovered the treat table. He usually wins for speed in the Pinewood Derby and has brought home hats every year.

All in all it was tons of fun! I'm pretty sure my sweetie is one of the best CubMasters ever! I know a bunch of kids with green hats that would agree with me.


Mar 26, 2013

Kiylee's Christmas - Chapter 11

Baby Doll about the same age as Kiy.
I wrote this story a dozen years ago and this chapter still makes me cry. Or maybe I'm just hormonal, I don't know. Let me know what you think.
Chapter Eleven – The Best Gift

It took us about 20 minutes to get to the hospital.  I thought that because we were about the only car on the road that there wouldn’t be any cars in the parking lot either, but I was wrong.  I guess we weren’t the only ones spending our holiday at the hospital.
Kiy’s new room was on a different floor.  The elevators took forever and when they finally stopped at the right level, we had trouble finding the room number.  She was all the way down at the end of the hall in a private room.  I was a little nervous about seeing her again.  Kiy hadn’t looked much like herself with her swollen face and wires.  I slowed my steps until Neal shoved me from behind.  “Hurry up!” he mumbled.
“Cut it out,” Dad said quietly.
I picked up the pace as we turned the corner that led to Kiy’s hallway.  I could hear voices coming from her room.  Mom’s was definitely one of them, but I couldn’t make out the others.  I shrugged.  Must be a nurse, I thought to myself. 
Kiy’s door was wide open, so I stepped inside her room.  The voices didn’t belong to nurses.  Aunt Laurie and Uncle Glen were standing just inside the door.  We didn’t see them very often, so I was pretty surprised that they would leave their family on Christmas Day just to see if Kiy was OK.  I said a quick “Hello,” and headed for Kiy’s bed.  It looked like the same bed she was in earlier.  It was like a crib except it was higher with huge silver circular bars instead of wooden slats.  The sheets were white and clean and she was covered with a little pink blanket.  Most of the wires were gone, but her tiny face was pretty swollen.  Her hair was still matted and sticky from the adhesive buttons on her forehead, and her eyes were tightly closed.
I carefully touched the blanket at her feet.  Earlier, her feet had still been mostly blue from the cold, but now they looked a healthy pink.  She was getting better!  “Did she wake up after I talked to her?” I asked. 
Mom glanced up from her conversation with Aunt Laurie.  “Not yet,” she answered slowly.  I rubbed my finger across the bottom of Kiy’s tiny foot.  Her toes curled and she pulled away from me.  Even in her sleep she was ticklish!  Aunt Laurie’s voice caught my attention and I heard her say, “Why don’t you guys go downstairs and grab something to eat?  Glen and I can sit with her for a little while.” 
I glanced quickly at Mom’s face.  She looked so tired!  She definitely needed a break.  “Yeah,” I said, “Neal and I can stay here too.  We’ll take care of Kiy.” 
Mom looked at Dad and then she said, “That sounds like a good idea.”  Dad pulled her to her feet and she glanced around the room.  “We won’t be very long.”  Mom lingered by the bed and slowly stroked Kiy’s tiny arm before she left.  I don’t think she wanted to go, but she really needed to get away for a few minutes.
Aunt Laurie took off her coat and made herself comfortable on the couch.  Well, it was kind of a couch.  It looked like it could actually be a bed if it wanted.  Uncle Glen took the other half of the couch and picked up the remote for the TV.  Neal threw his coat in the corner and slid to the floor in front of the football game that Uncle Glen had chosen.

I slowly pulled off my coat and laid it across the only other chair in the room.  Why were they watching TV?  I thought we were supposed to be watching Kiy.  I moved back over to Kiy’s crib and reached for her pale little fingers.  I could see all of the blue veins right through her skin.  I leaned my head close to her ear and kissed her swollen cheek.  Then I softly hummed the “I Love You” song from Barney.  It was her favorite and after talking to her on the phone, I was sure that she could hear me even if it looked like she was asleep.  I finished my song and carefully watched her little chest rise and fall with every breath.  Yesterday, I wasn’t sure if I would ever see her tiny chest rise and fall again.  My mind wandered to those terrifying moments on the stairs when I held her freezing blue body and desperately tried to clear her throat so that she could breathe. 
A tear slipped down my nose and landed in her hair.  She tossed her head restlessly, but her eyes didn’t open.  Oh, Kiy, why don’t you just wake up so that I can hold you and tell you that everything will be OK?  I rubbed her palm until it turned pink.  Her wrists were about as big around as my thumb! 
Suddenly, her eyelashes fluttered and I saw a glimpse of her pale blue eyes.  “Kiy?” I whispered softly.  I didn’t want to share this moment with anyone.  “Are you awake, Sweetie?”  I rubbed her hand a little harder.  “It’s me, Kira,” I whispered. 
Slowly, her eyes opened and she turned to look at me.  Her pupils were huge and she looked like she was on drugs.  For a minute, I could tell that she was afraid and she didn’t recognize me.  She closed her eyes slowly and then they opened again.  She looked at me and her lips moved without a sound.  Then her eyes closed again and I heard a tiny “Ra-ra.”
 She didn’t have brain damage.  How could she when she knew me?  The tears wouldn’t stop as I stood there just holding her hand.  No one else seemed to notice.  They were busy watching the game.  Mom and Dad were still downstairs in the cafeteria and I could hear the nurse down the hall.  I had just received a wonderful Christmas gift.  Maybe one of the best Christmas gifts ever.  Kiy was going to be fine.

Mar 25, 2013

More About Planet Play

My sweetie told you all about our adventure to Planet Play on Saturday, but he missed one part of the story I wanted to share. After we finished our pizza buffet, we headed into the arcade. We had two-hour passes for the kids, and we stupidly assumed that would get them anywhere. Wrong!

The first place we went was the go-carts. But after we checked the size requirements, we realized that Sport was the only one of the kids that could go as a single rider. So we put him in line and we headed for the bumper cars. Curly was very excited about riding on them! Unfortunately, the ride was totally dark and presumably out of order. So we moved to the mini bowling area. Two lanes were open so we swiped our cards but got no response. Apparently they were out of order too. We didn't want to wait for any of the other 4 lanes to open up so we moved to the kids play place.

The little car was also out of order, but the kids climbed onto the Merry-go-round. Once again the cards didn't work! We had to use the cash cards just to get it to go. After three times around they decided to play on the slides which were free. I was starting to feel like we had wasted our money when my sweetie suggested mini golf.

It was the neon kind with black lighting and the kids loved it. Even Baby Doll had her own ball and club. I got my first ever hole-in-one! When we finished our game (we went around twice), we headed back over for bowling. Lanes were open so we all took a turn. Meanwhile, Sport went back to the go-cart line.

My sweetie went to check on him and reported back that it was almost his turn and he wanted someone to watch him drive. My sweetie suggested that Scout and I go and maybe we could still have time to ride in one of the two-man cars. I hadn't really thought about getting on the ride, but Scout was so excited that I grabbed her hand and we took off for the track leaving my sweetie with Curly and Baby Doll to finish up the games of bowling.

When we arrived, we quickly took our place in the split line, one line for single riders and the other for the two-man cars. The kid running the ride told us that this would be the last run of the night for the two-man cars. Scout smiled since we were already in the group and we turned to watch  the single riders (with Sport right at the front!) get ready for their race.

They roped off the lines shortly after, but my sweetie and the little kids showed up and Curly slipped under the rope. He wanted to ride! I asked Scout if she would be willing to give up her space in the car and she quickly declined. Curly was so sad! He really wanted a turn. He ducked back under the rope and complained to his dad, but somebody had to watch Baby Doll so there was no way that would work.

So he came back over to me with his sad little face, hoping maybe Scout had changed her mind. She hadn't. But a guy in the single-rider line with his two sons noticed our predicament. He seemed like a nice guy and we had been chatting for the last several minutes already, so I asked him if he would be willing to take Curly in a two-man car.

He asked his sons if they were ok with that and then he smiled at Curly and agreed. At first Curly was a little nervous about this development since we are always so worried about strangers, but after a few minutes he warmed to the idea and started bouncing around waiting for our turn.

As we took our place at the starting line, I happened to mention to Curly's driver that we were going to win the race. But he politely told Curly to inform me that we were dreaming. I had never driven a real go cart before and I was surprised how much fun it was! But he was right, I think he was a pro since he kept cutting in front of our car every time we tried to pass.

That's OK, Curly's excited little face and hysterical laugh made it worth losing. And the kid managing the ride? He even saved a single-rider car so our new friend could ride with his boys too.

It was definitely NOT a waste of money. Those memories are priceless and kindness still exists, at least on this planet.

Mar 24, 2013

In the Mail

Guess what I got in the mail?

Two things, my tax refund and a letter from Teach. Guess which one I was the most excited about!

I have been so worried about her. You know when she was at university, she took an apartment about 30 miles away but she never stayed there. She just paid rent for three months and finally realized that she wasn't planning to stay there and then she moved back home.

So when the envelope came I frantically tore it open like it was Publisher's Clearinghouse (no, wait, they come to your door when you win...). Her first words were:

Dear Family,
Hello my dear people!! I hope yesterday wasn't too difficult for you. Just know that I miss you and love you.

My heart sank a little as I prepared myself for the homesickness I was sure was to follow. But then I read:

It's so wonderful here. My companion is Sis. Allen. She's 19 and from Orem, Utah. She's going to Dallas. There are 2 other sisters in my district going to Fort Worth as well. When I arrived yesterday they put me through the ringer! I met with about 8 different sisters and got my name tag. It's so lovely. When you walk around the MTC everyone says welcome in their mission language so you just say hi and smile because my mission language is English. Dad, you'll be proud. I'm writing this at 7 AM. I got up early enough so that I would have time to write.

So much for homesickness!

Mostly all I have done and will do is learn. We have 6 hours of classroom instruction then 2 hours of study time. Countless workshops and meetings and of course dinner and eating time. They gave us country-fried steak. We'll see how Texan it really is!

I'm so glad that she is doing well and it almost sounds like she is back in school. That's a good thing because she has always loved learning. I love this part:

It's amazing how much I love it here. I'm so happy that I could come to the MTC.

See?! She is doing great. It's just me who's having a hard time adjusting. This morning I drove her car to run some errands and just being in it reminded me of her and the times we ran around together shopping or going to Tupperware training meetings. It made me a little weepy. Then my sweetie and I went to Kohl's to return some pants I bought for the Dog Walker that were two short (why is it that people think when you are big you are short??). Anyway, they started playing one of her favorite songs on the overhead speakers. By the time I found my sweetie in shoes, he was convinced that some major tragedy was happening.

But life is good. Most of the time I can think of her and what she is doing and smile, especially when I read stuff like her last sentences:

The immediate love is outstanding. I was sitting in a meeting at 3 PM this afternoon and I just wanted to hug my companion. You just love everyone! I love you guys too. I miss you loads and loads. Send me some love because that's what it's all about. Love, Teach

I agree. (You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around...) That's what it's all about!

PS. Sorry. I couldn't resist throwing that in...this post was already way too serious. It must be time for ice cream and maybe some country-fried steak.

Love, Sandy

Mar 23, 2013

Guest Blog: Good Dad? Bad Dad? by Sweetie

To be a good dad or a bad dad.  A fun dad or a responible dad.  Old dad, young dad... These sorts of questions have been floating around in my brain a lot. 
Late last night Sport causally mentioned it was the fourth grade program tomorrow.  Just during school, no evening program this year.   That’s the first we had heard.. no notes, no months of memorizing, nothing... ok, he has been practicing his recorder, but he's been doing that since before Christmas. I think he actually likes it.
Problem is I needed to go to work.. my 5-day weekend via vacation days had been cut short by an issue at work  I was planning on going in... Provider dad or supportive dad?? I went to the program. By the number of people there, I'm guessing we weren't the only ones who almost or maybe didn’t get the word. The program was nice, recorders and Utah history just like seven or so we have been to with the older kids.
After that we marveled at spring in Utah.  Ducks and snow.. who knew?
Drove Curly to preschool.  Right through the snow on the front grass because he thinks my little old girly SUV is a Jeep and can go anywhere. And off to work. Was almost there when my boss called me on my cell with another problem. Did anyone know I was supposed to be on vacation and I’m not supposed to work Fridays??   

Some time around noon, all the teenage girls headed out of town for a dance competition in St. George. It would only be Sport, Scout, Curly and Baby Doll and my wife and me all evening.  A little family with four children. And that’s when it hit me...I should pretend to be young dad! 
I came home early, got the treadmill thing over with (man that made be feel old), played with kids bouncing super balls while my wife went to the gym and then we did something we haven’t done in years. We took the kids to Pizza Planet! OK, it's really called Party Planet, but they have pizza, an arcade, go-carts, mini golf and mini bowling.  
It's been years since we went to a place like that, and even longer since we did it without a teenager to help.  What were we thinking??  I had to chase kids, no teenagers to handle the potty runs, nobody to even refill my Coke but me. 

I’m too old for this young dad stuff.  But it sure was fun!

Mar 22, 2013

Going to the Dentist

Several weeks ago I decided the best way to cope with Teach's farewell was to schedule these days full of activities so I wouldn't have time to miss her. (It didn't really work, I found myself thinking about her often although I managed to keep the tears at bay.)

So this morning I had a visit with my doctor for my annual checkup. Then right after school and just before parent/teacher conferences for my elementary-aged kids, I took Crafty, Sport, Curly, and Baby Doll to the dentist. Scout has her appointment next month since she had her teeth cleaned when she had her work done last year. Curly complained the entire way to the school about the yucky toothpaste and how much he hated having his teeth cleaned.

Since I had to pick up the kids right after school, I also had Scout, Burrito, and Taco with me. That's right, seven kids under the age of 12 at the dentist's office. You always knew I was a little crazy. Thank goodness they have fun toys there, although some would say a little TOO fun. I could not get Burrito to use an inside voice. When I finally threatened to take him home, he resorted to simply making sound effects rather than speaking real words.

They called back Crafty and Sport first and they had their entire appointments with me in the lobby. Which is fine, they are plenty old enough for that. Sport had amazing teeth with no problems even though I know he hates brushing them. Crafty brushes often and she still had three cavities. (She must have her dad's teeth!)

Then they called back Curly. He bravely stepped up by himself and followed the rather pregnant hygienist to the cleaning area. I hung back for a minute, assuming they would call Baby Doll. After a couple of minutes we joined them in the other cleaning station. Baby Doll was a bit nervous at first until they put the headphones on her and Tangled came on her TV screen.

I glanced over at Curly about 10 feet away. His hygienist suddenly stood up. "He just threw up!" she fumed. Then she looked at me like it was my job to clean him up. Since Baby Doll seemed content and safe, I rounded the half wall and began wiping Curly's face with his napkin. It was everywhere! And not to be too graphic, but it had a weird spongy texture much like the Greek yogurt he had shortly before we came.

My big girl!
The girl scowled and handed me a wet towel. It worked much better and within minutes he was mostly cleaned up. The hygienist complained about her lack of work on him but then excused him to join his siblings in the lobby with an abrupt, "I'm done!"  I was a little annoyed. What kind of lesson was that?! Next time we come in and Curly doesn't want his teeth cleaned, all he has to do is throw up and he is done.

But I learned a lesson too. Next time he won't be eating yogurt right before he comes in, I'll give him something a bit more disgusting, like carrots or corn!

At least Baby Doll didn't have any cavities...

Mar 21, 2013

And Just Like That...

She was gone.

It took us until about 3:30 last night to finally separate and make our way to our bedrooms. Teach was OK to sleep in her room without me because Princess was there with her. After she was set apart as a missionary she had to have an adult with her constantly. Someone asked about that and I'm not sure why, but I do know that much of a mission is learning to be obedient.

We got up this morning before 7:00 because that is when Princess leaves for school. My sweetie made a family favorite, Belgian Waffles with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. So after each person ate this amazing goodbye breakfast, he or she said farewell to Teach and headed off to school.

This kept most of us in tears for hours. Gamer brought over Taco and they got in line for hugs and waffles too. Then Bossy came later with Burrito. Her last three at the house were Curly, Dog Walker and Gym Rat. I don't think Curly understood why she was crying as he called goodbye over his shoulder and skipped out the door for preschool. The blessed ignorance of youth. Wish I had a little of that...

At 11:30 my sweetie, Teach, Baby Doll, and I climbed into the mini-van where the Dog Walker had already stowed all her luggage and we got on the freeway. The Mission Training Center is in Provo, about 45 minutes from our home. Teach will spend 13 days there before she will drive back through the Salt Lake Valley on her way to the airport to catch a flight to Ft. Worth, Texas.

Teach and Baby Doll sat in the back seat holding hands and snacking on the box lunch my sweetie made for them. They have gotten so close this past year! Other than me, Baby Doll will probably miss her the most. We drove to the parking lot of the Provo LDS Temple which is just across the road from the MTC. My sweetie snapped a few pics and we spent several minutes locked in each others' arms.

Then we made the way-too-short drive to the MTC. I was still a mess, but Teach had put on her happy/brave face and she was all smiles for the cute Elder who helped her with her bags. I asked him to please take care of her and he promised to for the rest of his life. So that got her off to a pretty good start.

My sweetie and I drove slowly away, past the long row of about 100 Elders waiting to carry bags and check in all the new missionaries. Teach disappeared inside a building, beginning this wonderful new chapter of her life. I will let you know when we get our first email from her. Somebody told me that could be as early as Saturday! I can hardly wait.

Mar 20, 2013

Guest Blog: Ready or not.... by Teach

This is my final post directly from me until I come home from Texas in September 2014. I want the wonderful blogging world to know that I'm excited to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It will be one of the greatest blessings in my life. I was set apart tonight as a missionary which entails that I have to have a companion at all times - thus my mom is sitting in here reading while I"m writing the post. When I sat down in the chair to be set apart as a missionary I whispered to myself, "This is a game changer." Mom and I were just talking about what makes a game changer in our lives. I'd say I've only had about 3 games changers throughout my life. I"m interested to see what you folks would consider to be game changers in your lives.

I'm sorry this post is scatter brained, but mom says that's ok. I'm feeling an intense array of emotions right now as my life moves into a direction that it has never before seen. I don't know how it will all turn out.  No wait... I do. It will be all right. My family will be older and taller when I get back, but they will be here nonetheless. I'm so excited for this opportunity to serve because I know with all my heart that it is the best possible thing I could be doing right now. This is what I want. This is what I will do.

There is an item on my bucket list that says, "Do something that terrifies me." Within the last 8 months I could have easily crossed that off, but I haven't. I plan to cross it off and place the item in the bucket (literally... it's really cute) when I return from my mission. Because I'm terrified, and this will be one of the scariest things I ever do. I take comfort and peace in knowing that the Lord's hand is involved in my life. He loves me with a strength that can't be matched. I will find a fraction of that love for the people I meet in Texas

This is a portion from my farewell talk that I gave on Sunday. This is my final words of advice, encouragement, love and thoughts given to each member of my family. (I used their real names... because that woulda been weird...)

As everyone probably already knows, my family is outstanding. I have to stand here and state the claim on the coolest family in the world. I want to tell my dad thank you for all of the unsolicited fatherly advice. It’s written deep in my heart, Dad.  Mom, you are the most beautiful woman that I know. I’m so grateful every time some one says we look alike because I can’t imagine a greater compliment then to look like you. Bossy and Gamer, you guys are determined to reach your goals. So don’t forget that I’m rooting for you. Taco and Burrito. Stay cool. You guys rock. Gym Rat, you’ve always been one of my heroes and I’ll miss you, scarecrow. Drama Queen, I’m so proud that you’re a teacher and I’m excited to join you in the world of lesson plans someday. Stay strong. Dog Walker, I will miss you so much and I want you to continue to work hard in everything you do, because you’re happiness and reward will come. I promise. Princess, you are such an example to me with your strong heart and strong mind. I’ll miss being your roommate and I want you to send me your boy stories. Prima Donna, you will do a great job in your musical. And all of the other awesome things I will miss when I’m gone. Sing proud.  Crafty, I expect lots of really awesome pictures and crafts that I can use to decorate my life in Texas.  Sport, I’ll miss your hugs and your laugh. Kick butt in sports! Scout, you’re a great student so work hard in school and write me some good letters. Curly, never stop asking questions and do your best in kindergarten. You’ll just love it. And Baby Doll, you’re the cutest, so take care of the house while I’m gone. But don’t worry guys. I’ll be back soon.

Mar 19, 2013

Kiylee's Christmas - Chapter 10

More Farewell pictures
I almost didn't put up a chapter today. So much going on to prepare for Teach's departure. We only have her for one more complete day. She has promised to give you her final perspective tomorrow night so maybe you can all understand how we are feeling.

Let me know what you think of this chapter.

You guys are awesome!

Chapter Ten – Christmas Day

Princess (aka Kiy) at the Farewell
    I noticed that the sunshine was quickly melting the crusty snow as we drove into our neighborhood.  We’d had a white Christmas, but all signs of the beautiful white flakes of last night were gone and all that was left was the gray crunchy stuff that didn’t even make good snow angels.  There were kids out playing with what looked like new Christmas toys.  A couple of little boys had a new sled and they were trying to get it to slide, but the crunchy stuff wouldn’t let them get very far.  Some other kids were riding new bikes in their garage.  We could see them going around and around in little circles.
    I looked around at my brothers and sisters.  They didn’t look very happy and neither did Dad.  So far, Christmas Day had been much different for us than it had been for these other families.  Of course, it wasn’t really Christmas Day for us.  Santa had avoided our house and he wouldn’t come until Kiy was home, and nobody knew when that would be. 
    Dad pulled into our driveway and everybody piled out.  I helped Nathan out of his car seat and set him down on the cold concrete.  He immediately started whining, so I picked him up and carried him into the house.  Christmas decorations were everywhere and presents were still lying under the tree, but I didn’t see them.  As I held my little brother and he snuggled in my arms, I knew I couldn’t blame him for what had happened to Kiy.  He really didn’t understand. 
    Tears blinded my eyes as I climbed the stairs to my room with Nathan still in my arms.  I shut the door quietly and pulled down the blankets on my bed.  After tugging at Nathan’s shoes and then my own, we climbed in my bed.  He was already starting to snooze and his little face looked so innocent and sweet.  Gently I removed his coat and then my own.  I rested my chin on his soft hair and closed my eyes.
    It was starting to get dark when I heard Dad calling my name.  “Kira!  Kira, wake up!”  Nathan was gone and I was wrapped tightly in my blankets.  Dad was calling from the entryway, which meant that I had to get up and open the door to talk to him.  My head still felt groggy as I dragged myself out of bed.  I stumbled to the door and opened it.
    Dad had a big old grin on his face.  “They’re moving Kiy out of the PICU and into a regular room!  She’s doing great!  I told you there is a good reason to believe in miracles!”
    I think I flew down the stairs.  I gave Dad a hug and we danced a little jig.  “Is Mom still on the phone?” I asked.  “I want to talk to her.” 
    Dad let go of my hand and glanced at the clock in the kitchen.  “I think you’d better wait a little longer to make sure they are settled in the new room before you call.”  He picked up a piece of paper from the table.  “Here’s the new number, but wait until 6:30.”  It was only 6:10.  How could I wait?  I wanted to talk to Kiy!
I sat down in the living room and stared into the lights of the Christmas tree, but I couldn’t just sit for long.  I was too excited.  I jumped up and headed for the fridge.  My stomach was growling.  I was finally hungry and the thought of food didn’t make me feel like I wanted to throw up. 
    I fixed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a glass of milk and sat at the kitchen table to eat it.  Grandma was crocheting and the kids were watching Miracle on 34th Street..
    I glanced again at the clock, 6:20.  Time seemed to be crawling.  I forced myself to concentrate on my sandwich, but by 6:22, it was gone.  Since Mom wasn’t home to give me a bad time, I brushed my crumbs on the floor and carried my empty glass to the sink.  Only eight more minutes!  I could wait for eight more minutes.

    I wandered restlessly to the living room and sat down at the piano.  Kiy loved to play the piano, I remembered.  I plunked out the melody to Jingle Bells.  I should have practiced more when Mom and Dad were paying for lessons.  I started over and that time I was able to put in a couple of the left-hand notes. 
After a couple more tries, I suddenly remembered Kiy.  I jumped from the piano bench and headed for the kitchen phone.  The family room clock said 6:29, so I grabbed the phone number and quickly began to dial.  My fingers shook with excitement as I punched the last number.
    Mom answered the phone.  Her voice sounded so good!  “Hello?”
    “Hi, Mom, it’s Kira.  Can I talk to Kiy?”
    Mom laughed, I mean, she actually laughed!  “Wait a minute,” she said.  “Don’t I get to say anything first?” 
    “OK,” I apologized.  “What did you want to tell me?”
    Mom paused for a moment.  “Well,” she said.  “First of all, you can’t talk to Kiy.”
    My heart dropped in my chest and a lump rose in my throat.  “Why not?” I finally croaked.
    “Honey, she’s still on medication and she’s still groggy,” Mom explained.  “She hasn’t even responded to me yet.”  Mom quickly added, “But she is sleeping peacefully and they have removed all of the monitors except the heart one.”
    I didn’t say anything; I couldn’t.  I swallowed the tears, but they kept coming back.  I just wanted to talk to Kiy!  Mom must have sensed that I was upset, because she finally said, “I’ll tell you what.  I’ll put the phone up by her ear and you can talk to her.  She will probably hear you even if she can’t talk back.”
    “OK,” I said.  At least it was better than nothing.
    “Here she is,” Mom said.
    “Hi, Kiy,” I began.  Suddenly the tears came.  I found myself apologizing all over again as I imagined my tiny sister curled up in a ball in the middle of that big hospital bed.  “I’ll make it up to you, Kiy,” I promised.  “I’ll take you for a bike ride and we’ll go to the park.  I’ll paint your fingernails and you can sleep in my bed.”  I made promise after promise to my sleeping sister. 
    Then, just as I became exhausted from thinking about all of the fun things that we could do, I took a deep breath so I could say goodbye.  Then I heard a tiny, sleepy voice, “Ra-ra.”  That was it.  I lost it.  My name was the first thing she said when she woke up.
    Suddenly I heard Mom’s teary voice.  “Did you hear her?” she asked quietly. 
    “I did.  She said Kira!”  I couldn’t keep the excitement or the tears out of my voice.  “Mom?”
    “When will she be able to come home?” 
    “I don’t know, Honey.  Hopefully soon.  They just want to keep an eye on her to make sure she’s OK.”  Mom sighed.  “We probably won’t know about brain damage for quite a while.”
    I swallowed hard.  “Ask the nurse, OK?” I begged.
    Mom put the phone to her chest.  I know, because I could actually hear her heart beating.  A moment later, she was back.  “The nurse said maybe by the weekend, but not to get our hopes up!” Mom said breathlessly.
    “All right!  I’ll tell the kids and we’ll start planning Christmas.”  Now I was excited.  It was Thursday night, so that was only a few days away.  We still had a lot of work to do.  I still had presents to wrap.
    “Kira?”  Mom’s voice brought me back to the phone.
    “I love you,” she said quietly.  “Give the kids a hug for me.”
    “I will,” I promised.  “And Mom?  Don’t worry so much.  We’re fine here.”
    “I’m glad to know that,” she said.  “I’m so tired and so worried about Kiy.  The last 24 hours seem like a lifetime.”
    “I know.  We’ll take care of everything, you just get some sleep.”  I thought a minute.  “And Mom?  Give Kiy a hug for me.”
    “Aren’t you and Neal still coming back over with Dad?”
    “Oh, yeah!”  I had forgotten.
    “Good,” Mom responded, “You can hug her for yourself.”
    “Bye, Mom.”
    I barely heard her say goodbye as I hung up the phone.  I had to get ready.  I was pulling on my shoes when Neal wandered back into the room.  
    “What’s up?” he asked.
    I looked up from tying my tennis shoes and grinned.  “Kiy said Kira,” I bragged. 
    “So?” he answered.  I could tell he was jealous.
    “Dad!”  I yelled.  “Are we ready to go?”
    “In a minute,” he called.  I could hear him telling Kinsey and Kiyna and Nathan to watch a movie and be good for Grandma.

    Neal ran to the mudroom for his shoes.  I brushed past him and pulled open the door to the garage.  The rush of cool air felt good on my hot cheeks.  I climbed into the front seat and shut the door.  After several moments, I flipped on the dome light and reclined the seat.  “What is taking them so long?” I muttered.  I wanted to see Kiy.
    Just then, the door opened and Neal and Dad both came into the garage.  I yanked the seat to its upright position.  “Let’s go!” I said.  Dad grinned.  He looked much better after his nap.  Neal was excited too.  Dad hit the button to the garage door and started the car. 
    It was dark outside and snow was falling lightly as we pulled out of the neighborhood and onto 22nd West.  There weren’t many cars on the road.  I guess everybody was at home, playing with their new Christmas toys, watching Christmas movies, and eating Christmas dinner.  Only the Christensens were driving to the hospital.  I shook myself.  I didn’t care what anybody else was doing.  Kiy was all that mattered.  And what mattered now was that she was getting better.

Mar 18, 2013

Teach's Farewell

My sweetie was up early finishing two huge pots of chili. I got up about 8:00 and worked on everything else...setting out cookies, cleaning the kitchen, that sort of thing. We got everyone else up about 9:00 and had all in place by the time we headed for the church at 10:30.

Silly us.
Teach did an awesome job greeting her friends and extended family and thanking them for coming. We sat on the second row in the chapel well away from our normal seat on the back row. Yeah, I was a little out of my comfort zone. But Teach played it like a pro. When it was her turn to speak she pulled it off beautifully. Her talk was about 20 minutes long and just let me say, she is much better under pressure than I am.

When the meeting was over, it took her about 20 minutes just to get out of the church. We finally asked one of her friends to bring her and we headed for the house. There were tons of people already here as we made our way through the front door. Within minutes the living room and entryway were so crowded I had to direct traffic just to allow more people in. I’m not kidding when I say that my estimate for our food plans of 100 people was met and exceeded!

For about 15 minutes it was totally crazy here! It was impossible to move from room to room, but people finally got through the food line and started moving into other rooms in the house and then it settled down. I don’t think we had this many people here at the same time even when Bossy was married. But that was outside so it was different anyway.

We had two 20-quart stockpots full of chili and 180 rolls. Now we have less than half of one pot of chili left and about 40 rolls. We went through lots of food but I think everyone was satisfied. We have one tray of our sugar cookies left and a couple of bags of cookies although I think the kids have done a pretty good job on them since we cleaned up.

It was a wonderful, crazy, awesome day! Teach’s friend, Bethany, agreed to take some family pics for us so we had a 20-minute photo session after everyone was gone. I thought you might like to see how crazy we are. It was a good day.