Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Derby

I have never and I do mean never, liked The Pinewood Derby. I have 7 brothers, 2 sons and I was once the Bear den leader. So, I have some experience in the Derby department. No, never liked it. I enjoyed my very first migraine headache after the Derby of 09, if that tells you anything.

One time, Scott and Kaden spent like 200 man hours building a car that didn't even do that well.

See for your self....

I am pretty sure it took less equipment to build the Eiffel Tower than for my husband and my boy to produce that car.

And can anyone forget the Derby of 2010? I think not! Read here.

So Branson's 2nd Pinewood was last weekend and dare I say..it was just this side of fantastic. My faith has been renewed. Maybe.

First of all Scott and Branson spent maybe a total of 2 hours on this car.

2nd, I am pretty sure not one of our 30 plus Cubs left in tears. A true derby miracle if you ask me.

3rd, The boys were great, the parents were great, and the leaders...oh my the leaders were incredible!They gave out awesome meaningful awards and they got us through the whole ordeal in 2 hours! Hooray for ending the Derby in record time!You have earned my eternal adoration.

4th, Branson's car not only finished 1st in his den, it had the best name of any of the cars..."The Arrow of Light". In honor of the cub scout colors that he chose for exterior of the car.

Scott and I laughed our guts out when Bransons car kept winning because we could both fully remember the head lamp wearin', gung hoe guy that spent 200 hours building a car for Kaden that was... SLOW. And that this one got nearly no attention and certainly no headlamp and it was... FAST! Amid our fit of laughter Scott said,

"I think the Lord is trying to teach me something."

Which sent me into a second wave of hysteria.

The next day, just when I was convinced that the Derby was not so bad,  I heard that during a race from earlier, a spectator, leaped over the track and yelled at the top of his lungs about the injustices of the derby in another spectators face. Lovely. See, I knew all along the Pinewood Derby is no good.

I stand justified.

Being a good sport

Cutest spectator

Branson's toungue of anticipation
Branson is jumping for joy and looking directly at scott in this picture. Love it!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Double Date

Kaden's been so grouchy lately and so we were all excited that he had something fun to do this last weekend. Scott and him left Friday afternoon for the youth snow trip. (OK and we were pretty excited to have a break from his grouchyness.)
My brother and his sweet wife agreed to baby-sit and the twins and I went on a date.

I still cant believe how much fun we had. I am so used to having a baby on my hip and a toddler to keep sane and it felt so great to fully enjoy my 2 nine year olds that are a blast to hang out with. They are so full of "thank-you's" and "I love you Mom's" that it's like a self asteem boost just being with them. We left the house and I asked them where they wanted to eat and when they saw "Coco's", they declared it to be The Place -because it is named after our bunny. Duh.

So there we were...an island of youth, and energy and hair- that isn't gray, in a sea of senor citizens.
Brylee and Brasnon held my hand and laid their heads on my shoulder. We laughed so hard during dinner because as it turns out , writing your names backwards on the menus is pretty funny. Bransons is by far the best...


Brylee had pancakes and Branson had mac and cheese and the waitress brought them full size drinks instead of kids size. Who could ask for more than that?

I had packed my purse full of treats and so after dinner we headed to the movies and by-passed the snack counter. Inside the theater, I felt thrilled to have those twins to myself. Me in the middle, Brylee's fingers laced into mine and Branson's brown head on my shoulder.

We saw "We bought a Zoo", which was a darling story but had way too many swear words for 9 year old ears and 32 year old ears. After the movie the air in the parking lot felt freezing and crisp so we ran to the car and blasted the heater.

On the way home Branson said,

"Mom, that kid in the movie is grouchy like Kaden."

So I went into a speech about how Kaden is just having a rough patch and how we need to love him even more and even when it is hard too. I told them how much Kaden needs us and that we need to pray for him and try our best to help him. The twins listened and took every word I said quite seriously.

The feeling in the car turned heavy and we were all perfectly quiet. Then....one word- that came from the little mouth of the only boy present, broke the silence...


And then we laughed our guts out until tears ran down my cheeks and I started having trouble seeing the road.

The twins slept with me in my bed that night and I fell asleep thanking Heaven for inventing twins and for sending me the best set in all the world.

I hit the jack pot...that's for sure.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Or Was It?

Last night was a normal Wednesday night. The twins were off to gymnastics and Kaden was gone working on a merit badge with friends. Scott was still at work, so I loaded up my 2 baby girls and went shoe shopping . Branson's kind teacher had stapled...yes stapled, his shoe together the other day and Brylee's looked awful as well. Ella was so cute in the shoe store, admiring everything and anything that was pretty or sparkly but easily put them all back when it was time to go with a simple,

"I will buy those tomorrow."

Yes, my sweet girl, you probably will.

When I got home Kaden's half done homework was on the counter and I had to go retrieve him from the neighbors house so that we could finish. Scott came home a bit later with the twins and in just a matter of minutes the house went from quiet and peaceful to loud, bustling and chaotic.

Pieces of homework and parts of dinner were scattered around. Some of the kids were half dressed as I ordered them in and out of the tub. Brylee tried to feed the bunny but spilled, stinky little pellets all over my kitchen instead. Scott was in and out with Branson in an attempt to finish his pinewood derby car. All of the kids were begging for a trip to DQ for half-off day.

I felt irritable.
And stretched.
And tired.

I used a half grin and faked my way through to hide those feelings. It took until almost nine to feed, bathe and finish every ones homework, but of course the kids still wanted a treat. In an attempt to cheer up the mood, I pulled out the snow cone machine and started on a little homemade DQ substitute. Most were happy with that- but one was not and pouted on the couch. I wanted to wring the little stinkers neck.

I read a chapter of scripture to them while they slurped down their treats and then at long, long last, I tucked them in. The pouter was still face down in a heap of pity on the couch, so I got a blanket, rubbed a sullen back and kissed the soft down-turned cheek good night. I didn't get the slightest response. I went to my room and collapsed. I laid in the dark for a while wondering how in all the world I can make it through the thousands of more nights like this, that lay ahead.


But what I really wanted to know was, How can I make those thousands of ordinary, difficult, stress filled, school nights less so. Some days and moments as a Mother I cherish and love and wish I could bottle up and enjoy forever. But the truth is, there are a whole lot of other moments that are just plain hard that I wish I could fast foreword right on past. Easy..when you consider the alternative, of tragedy, poverty or disease but still hard in their own right of the everyday struggle to Mother well... amid the million stresses.

I know that the hard of Mothering makes the sweet that much more so but man, walking through the hard spots over and over and over and over- is daunting. So as I laid their letting the "overwhelmed monster" come out from under the bed and start to grip my lungs in his fists, a particular thought came to mind. Not a new thought, just that this time it came with much more force.

Someday all of this will go in reverse.

Someday the house will go from busy, loud and chaotic to quiet and slow. Someday the stacks of homework will start to get smaller until they go away entirely and someday, I wont have anyone left to order into the tub. And tomorrow, Ella will have her own money and take herself to the store and say,

"Today, I am going to buy these sparkly shoes."

And then she will because she'll be a grown up.

The hard is part of the journey from today to someday. And when someday comes, there is little doubt I will miss some of the chaos. I will never miss the homework..but I will miss the chaos. The bad thing about time, is that it steals away fluffy baby cheeks and it turns quiet, mellow, sippy-cup afternoons into busy task filled nights. And then in a cruel trick it gives you back those quiet, mellow afternoons before you are ready.

But the good thing about time is that the feelings of stress, angst and frustration seem to fall away and you are left with memories of snow cones on a Wednesday night where in your mind everything was beautiful.

And who knows... maybe it was.

by robin lee

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Outside Therapy

Starting Sunday night I wasn't feeling good. My back was achy, my finger was  throbby and as it turns out, I might be teething because the very back of my mouth was hurty. I have been feeling just plain run down.That feeling has lasted all these days later and this afternoon, I felt like I couldn't go on. I thought of my mountains and all the sweet relief that they offer, but knew that there was no way to pull off a hike in the middle of a Tuesday.
But, I had to seek relief, so I picked up Cali, got us a blanket and told Ella to gather a few books. We laid in the front yard for a long time. The fresh air felt like new life and the sun was just warm enough to toast my back but not enough to make me hot. Cali crawled around sampling the varied tastes of rocks, dirt and leaves and Ella "read" me her books.

I closed my eyes and let the breeze gently blow through my hair, I listen to the sounds of airplanes and birds and I tried to feel how my lungs were breathing in that delicious Arizona-in-the-winter time air. Ella's cute little 4 year old voice was soothing and Cali's wispy hair looked like spun gold in the sunshine. The sky-oh my goodness the sky was blue as blue comes and as I laid there quietly taking it all in...I started to feel cleansed and renewed and recharged.

Outside..I tell ya-it's good medicine.

Pretty soon I could hear the distant sound of a diesel engine and then it came closer and dropped off my big kids. They all came running to join us. Kaden scooped up Cali like she was the last drink of water in the desert and that's when we declared it to be...

"Homework outside day."

Spelling and Math become far less irritating in the lawn on a beautiful day than they are cooped up in the kitchen. By the time we finished I was ready to face life again. It may not have been a hike but it turned out to be just what I needed.

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. ~John Muir

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tender Mercy-Stitches Edition

I will have you know that I cleaned my whole house yesterday using only 9 fingers. This is what I learned. "Julz's guide to nine fingers" if you will.

First, if you are going to lacerate one of your fingers, may I recommend that you choose your non-writing hand pinkie. I must say that you can still do most things quite well with out that little guy. While scrubbing sinks, toilets, tubs and counters, just use one hand. Dishes...same thing one hand. Bathing the baby can also be done one handed, only when you get to the part where you need to lift the slippery, naked child out. Then you should use your one good hand and your forearm from the not so good hand. Easy.

Fastening pig tails is doable but braids for some reason is not.

Poopy diapers can be a challenge. Especially when your subject contorts her body into a twisted bread stick every diaper change. Give the baby a lollipop, an apple, heck give the girl a whole darn Popsicle if you have to, just keep her from moving while you make the change.

Laundry can also be done one handed but beware when you fold the little shirts not to stick your hand with the laceration up a sleeve to turn it right side out. If you do you may get stuck like that for a time while you try to figure out how you are going to get your hand back out, with out ripping open the nice stitching that is holding your pinkie together.

Homework with the big kids can be done with 9 fingers.... unfortunately.

Dinner making is less challenging if you enslave your oldest daughter and make her your assistant.

And lastly bath time, scripture time and bed time...get your self a good husband that will do it for you so that you can take a pain pill and go to bed. Scott has been my tender mercy through this minor but painful inconvenience, he does pretty good at making up for a non-working pinkie. Other tender mercies in an angst filled episode.....

I still have a pinkie.
Great friends who can stitch.
Sweet kids who pray for a speedy healing.
New can openers.

(I may never eat chicken again)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Blood, Sweat and a New Can Opener

So I am in the market for a new can opener. I need one, since I slammed my old, cruddy, worthless can opener into the trash with a vengeance on Friday night, right after I sliced my pinkie open.

Scott and I were all ready to head out to meet up with a group of old friends when Ella asked for a chicken sandwich. Needless to say there was no chicken sandwich and no date with friends.

Instead Scott and I plus the two little girls spent the evening at our friends house, having 12 stitches put into my finger at their kitchen table. I promised I would keep them anonymous so as to prevent them from having a long line of bleeding people at their door. But, Oh man was I thankful for the kindness, willingness and skill of these good friends!

Other than childbirth I am pretty sure I have never seen that amount of blood. I was at the kitchen sink with Ella kneeling on the counter and Cali wrapped around my ankle. Every time I moved my right hand off of my left hand- more bleeding. So making phone calls was not easily.

At first I couldn't get a hold of Scott so I tried my Mom while simultaneously ordering the kids to send all the neighbors home and get inside. My Mom came and was cleaning up the gore when Scott arrived, took one look and announced that we were going.

I was a puddle of sweat and blood. It was not pretty. No really it wasn't so if you have a weak tummy...


EEWWW! Right?

Thanks Mom, for always coming to the rescue...you really need a cape. Thanks Scott for always being the level head and for knowing with out being asked that I would-at some point in the night-want soup. Thanks Heather, for entertaining the boys. And thanks friends, for preforming kitchen table surgery and making me feel that it was no bother at all. You are awesome and I will never use my pinkie again with out thinking of your kindness!

Stitched up pinkies and crappy can openers. Ugg.

Friday, January 20, 2012


I keep getting asked if coming home from our amazing trip was awful. To me...coming home is never awful. Dorothy got it right when she coined the phrase, "There's no place like home." There isn't and I am completely at peace with the fact that I'd rather be home than just about anywhere else.

I love driving the kids to school in the morning. We always have a fight over who gets to sit by Cali which is annoying yet heart warming. Then we blast the heater, wave to the friends at the bus stop, watch the temperature drop on the rear view mirror and the kids are always scrambling to get their shoes on. This morning, I noticed how many of the other Moms are showered, dressed and ready to go for the day, while I sit there, hiding behind my sunglasses, in my pj's and slippers. 99% of the time, I go straight home after dropping the kids at school. Cali, Ella and I- we stay in our jamies, do the chores and then we shower and get ready. I am rarely in a hurry to be anywhere else.

Last week, I had to cancel lunch plans with my sister- in- laws because Cali was sick. Sure, I missed talking and laughing with the girls but it really didn't bother me one slight bit to stay home and sit in the rocker all afternoon. I am not a shopper and I really hate errand running, plus I tend to be pretty OK with minimal social interaction. I love keeping my home, laying in the back yard to read books to Ella and writing out our life in stories.

this morning when I saw the other Mom's all ready to go, I felt a little bit of guilt, like, "wow, they all look so productive!"

But, home isn't a bad place to be productive either.

I haven't travelled the world, graduated from college, had a career, served a mission or held an office. Maybe someday.

But for now, I am a homebody- I mean Homemaker.

And proud of it.

“Close you eyes and tap your heels together three times. And think to yourself, there's no place like home.”

Glinda the good witch.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

More than Many Sparrows

Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?
But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 12 6-7

By the end of the first semester I was convinced that something needed to be done. When it came to school, Kaden was in a constant state of anxiety. He had a far more difficult time adjusting to middle school than I thought he would. We were both caught off guard and when we got over the shock we were already playing catch up. Kaden has always been super smart but easily distracted and this frustrating little tendency shot off like a rocket with the start of the school year. His body was in class but he was actually swimming in the ocean, doing magic tricks, playing football or planning the next "Myth Buster" myth. After school he would stare at me blankly when I asked about homework.

I was desperate to help him. I was emailing teachers almost daily, we were staying up late figuring out homework, I was driving up to the school to pick up and drop off papers but most of all- I was praying. Praying for answers.

I talked to friends with similar problems. I read everything I could find on the Internet. I even made a doctors appointment that was good, but left me with a slight uneasy feeling that I couldn't put my finger on.

Now we are into a new semester and things seem to have calmed down a bit for Kaden. He has a set of new teachers that have been better and he has learned a few coping skills. We finally got him his own bed, it's only a small little space but it's something that he can call his own. I also cleared an entire book shelf for him. I added a soft mattress topper to his old worn out mattress. I bought him new pants for school that are "cooler" than his old ones. My Mom got him a fancy new pair of Nike's that he loves and all of those seemingly little things have added up on each other and helped.

But I feel like in the last couple of days the final piece of the puzzle fit together in yet another small miracle, bringing a simple answer into full view. The first night that Kaden crawled up into his new bed, he asked for a book to read. His high loft bed seems the perfect nook for reading and I think he felt it. So I passed him a book and felt glad that he is once again voluntarily reading. Then the next night when he asked for his book I felt something. A little idea moved clearly into the spotlight of my mind.

I handed him up his scriptures and said,

"One chapter of this first and then I'll pass up your dragon book."

In 15 minutes, I came back in to find him still reading his scriptures and so the next night I did the same thing. Then this morning during my own early morning scripture study I read this,

"And it came to pass that as he read he was filled with the spirit of the Lord."

A tiny little verse, that I knew was a message from Heaven, meant just for me on this exact day.

I am sure of it.

I am also sure that there is still plenty of work to do. I am sure that there will still be late night filled with homework. I am sure I will still be emailing teachers. But I am sure that this is the answer for my boy. I am sure that Heaven knows him.

And I am sure that Heaven knows his mother.

How I love my Kaden Boy.

by robin lee

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I have been wondering exactly how to blog about our post Christmas trip. For Christmas, Scott's parents took their family on a Disney Cruise. We were all so excited and have been planning for a whole year.  The week after Christmas I was busy getting us ready to go. I would have never been able to pack for 7 people for 8 days- if my Dad hadn't taken the kids camping . They slept in tents, built a fire, ate junk food and road dirt bikes all day. Kaden said it was the best day of his life.

I was so very thankful for those two days of time.

The trip was a blast. There was a ton of this....

and this....

and this.....

and this.....

And we loved all of this...

There was also too much of this....

Me, scott and Kaden got it. Here's Kaden sick as can be trying to make the best of the day anyhow.

I was so sick all day Wednesday(no pictures to prove it thank-you very much) and by around 8pm I felt like if I didn't get some fresh air, I might just die. So I bundled up Cali, put on my slippers and walked out to the deck. It was almost vacant, so I found a pool chair and snuggled Cali close to my chest. I layed there for a long time watching the stars float past me in the sky. It was quiet and peaceful and astonishingly beautiful. I felt like I had a direct view of Heaven and that Heaven had a direct view of me. I knew for sure-once again-that I am known perfectly by a loving Heaven. Even though Cali and I, in our pool chair were just one little speck in an infinitely big universe. And that one hour spent under the black ocean sky, with Cali's heart beating with mine- must have cured me because the next morning I was good as new.

On Friday we were able to explore a small Island, snorkel, swim, and eat fresh salsa and homemade tamales. I loved watching the kids happy and carefree in the water. And I even loved having  my poor, sick Kaden's warm head in my lap. While the whole group of us was walking across the beach in the sand, I looked back to see Kaden go to his knees. I told Scott to come back around for us on the way back and then I sat in the middle of the beach with Kaden. He was so sick and just couldn't keep on walking in the sun. I had him lay down and rest his head on my lap and then I did my best to sooth him by rubbing his forehead. In only seconds Kaden was sound asleep. Like snoring.

I didn't like that he was sick, but I did like that my big boy still wants his Mama when he doesn't feel good.

On Saturday Cali and her cousin turned one month older. Cali 11 months and Payton 8 months. Happy birthday girls....

The trip was over in a flash.

And this was the aftermath for me...

But worth every load.

Thank-you Mom and Dad for quietly serving me and my family, your help always comes just when it is needed most. And thank-you Alan and Donell for giving us the gift of travel, the kids have seen and done things is this big world that they never would have other wise and thanks for providing me a few minutes under the big sky, in the middle of the ocean- where I had a perfect view of Heaven.