Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Wont You Stay A Little Longer?

These trips to the beach swell my heart up, make it throb and then rip it out.

I feel sad when I think of my kids getting older and growing up--I never feel that way more than here. Maybe because when we are here the work and trial and stress of life, fades into a hazy after thought and all I can see is glowing coppery skin, sand covered toes and slippery smiles fresh from the cold waves. All I can see is that they are bigger than they were the last time.

Dear Children,

Wont you stay a little longer?












Thursday, September 20, 2012

Elvis and Other News

Back when baggy flesh colored overalls were totally cool and Scott and I had time alone































A few items of news if I may.

When my little sister was desperate to get and stay pregnant,  she told me that pregnant women were absolutely everywhere. She just could not, NOT notice them. It seemed that everyone in the entire green world was expecting, except her. Do you know what I can not, NOT notice?

Couples--Together--Alone.

I see them everywhere and I wonder "how do they do that?" And then I think "that's amazing!" And then I think "I am so jealous." Scott and I have exactly zero alone time together. It is so sad and pitiful. For the life of me, I cant figure out how to create this time. On the occasions that I have managed to do it, like on our anniversary, it has felt like I just orchestrated the entire Olympic Games on my own. I practically need a map and a diagram to keep straight where each child is. On top of that, I need a fork lift to pack up everything that goes with the kids. Most of the time, the work it will take to find baby-sitters convinces me to give up before I begin.

I miss him.

I am sure that no one works harder for their family than Scott does. He is a real life hero I tell you! These last months have been especially taxing on his time. He has the weight of the world (our world) on his shoulders and I hope he knows how thankful I am .

I think he does.

This is what happens 2 point 2 seconds after his weary head hits the pillow...
























Couldn't you just cry at the dedication? He has a gift for sleeping instantly and soundly.

And in other sleeping news, you should know that last night Ella had "growley dreams." She reported this to me while peering over her morning french toast with one nostril pulled clean up to her brow. Elvis style.

And in other Ella news, yesterday Ella whopped Brookie right in the head. It was justified though because Brookie had the gall to disagree with Miss Mae on the firm and proven fact that dogs DO wear shoes.

And in other--other news the mosquito's should know that in payment for eating my poor baby's flesh the way they did last night (while she cutely frolicked in the water) they have earned themselves a visit to the gas chamber.



































And with that, I wish you a happy Thursday with hopes that you will have at least one good reason to pull your nostril clean up to your brow.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Me and Facebook-An Explanation






















Back in, I think 2008? Maybe? I registered on Facebook. I didn't go back on it a single solitary time. Occasionally I would get "friend requests" in my email, I just ignored them. I didn't deny them or confirm them. I didnt really know what exactly to do with them. (For crying out loud, I didnt even start texting till this year!)

And then, I was at my Moms house one day earlier this year when one of my brothers was scrolling through his Facebook page. I was stunned! So many conversations going back and forth between my siblings that I was totally in the dark on. Interesting for sure.

Still, I never logged in myself. Fast forward to just recently when I was feeling concerned about my time and how I use it. I want that time to count for something! I do put a few hours a week into my blog. Sometimes more, sometimes less. I love writing, I love recording our life, I love sharing my testimony and blogging is something that I view as a valuable use of my time. However I am pretty strict with myself on my overall computer time and since most that time goes to my blog, I have never used facebook. But like I said, I want the time I spend blogging to be valuable.

And so, just last week I decided to post on Facebook when I post on my blog. I mean, is it a crime to want people to actually read what you spend time writing? To me the most important part of my blog is sharing my testimony and my love for my Savior and Heavenly Father and maybe I can do that better by using Facebook.

To tell you the truth, I don't even know if I am posting it correctly! (can someone please tell me if I am??) I still never read the main page where everyone comments to eachother, I just do a quick post and log out. I just really don't want to get "sucked in" and give the computer one more second of my precious time than I already do. I am not saying that people who use Facebook more are wrong, it's just that for me, I already use that time for blogging. Are we good? Good.

So thank-you Cindy and my great Aunt Alice and the others that have "liked" and commented (on FB and in real life!) ...it means so much to me to know that what I write has meant something to someone...anyone! It really does. More than you all will ever know. When I hear that something I wrote helped someone, or cheered someone, or encouraged someone or just made someone think that they are not the only one wiping up poop smears from the back porch, it gives me such a fulfilled and happy feeling and better yet, it motivates me to keep writing my little heart out. But, I guess I will never REALLY use Facebook.

Does that make me a Facebook snob?

Probably.

Long Live Blogs!



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Brother Love

I was sitting in the rocking chair on the porch.

The weather had turned down a bit and there was a perfect evening breeze.

I was watching through my lens.

I took 26 pictures.

Because I never want to forget.









Monday, September 17, 2012

They Really Are

Yesterday one of my children made the unfortunate decision to stay home from church. Some cousins had spent the night and they weren't going to church and so I guess the temptation to stay home and play, was just a little too much. This particular child was free to make that choice but was going to be entirely at the mercy of the given consequence. (and so help me that consequence is going to be good! A simple grounding is just too easy for this offence)

On the drive to church, I had the fleeting thought that our bench at church would be less noisy than usual. But when we got there and found a place to sit, a palpable saddest settled into all the soft places in my heart. I got this weird desire to stand on my chair and explain to everyone around us that, "we have one more!"  We were incomplete and it left me with an eerie sort of feeling.  I let myself wallow in the terrible thought of a less than whole family, long enough that tears puddled up in my eyes and determination started to pound like a hammer in my chest.

Families Are Forever.

It's an eternal principal, encompassed in 3 simple words, that I have known is true for as long as I can remember. There is no effort, no sacrifice and no work to obtain that 3 word blessing, that will not be worth it. I am certain of it. That awful feeling of "someone is missing" can be chased away by solid determine efforts to raise a good family. Hard and daunting as it may be.

“Our family is the focus of our greatest work and joy in this life; so will it be throughout all eternity.”
~Russell M. Nelson

I don't know about you, but to me that "greatest work" he is talking about is the best kind of work. Heaven wouldn't be heaven with out my family, so bring on the work!

That way, I can forever enjoy the way Cali loves to color herself and how she does it with complete focus and concentration.



































I can enjoy laundry because having A LOT of laundry means I have a family, with children that run and play and get dirty.
This is just Saturday and Sunday...incase you were wondering




































I can be bone tired from the work of bringing up 5 terribly cute kids, that make terribly frustrating choices sometimes and feel that it is all entirely worth it.

Families Are Forever.
























They really are.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Guest Blogger

He doesn't know it but my Dad is guest blogging for me today. My Dad was "blogging" long before there was any such thing. He started writing out the life of our family in story form a long time ago. He doesn't publish them on line like the rest of us do, he types them out the old fashion way and then prints out a copy for whoever the story is about.

Last night Branson got one...


BRANSON HEYWOOD’S MARVELOUS PLATFORM

 
By

 Bryn Johnson

September, 2012

 
             Last summer I helped my grandson, ten year old Branson, build a platform for our backyard.  We have a trampoline and it is round and pretty good for kids to play on.  The problem is that the kids have no where to stand as they take turns bouncing and doing tricks on the trampoline.  Branson and I decided that we should build a table or a platform that could be placed next to the trampoline so that all of the kids would be able to take turns bouncing while other kids stood on the platform.  It was a great idea.  Branson and I had no idea what we were getting into.

The first day of the project was very exciting because we already had one piece of plywood, an 8’ x 4’ sheet that would serve as the top of the platform.  Branson and I started by drawing the plans.  We showed the legs, the bracing, the joist pieces and the support system.  We then made a list of materials that looked something like this:

 

4 x 4 posts for the legs, 38 inches tall:                        4

2 x 6 boards for the joists, 48 inches long:                 8                     

2 x 6 boards for the frame:                                         2 at 8’ and 2 at 4’

Joist hangers:                                                               16

Large Nails:                                                                 2 boxes

Small Nails:                                                                 1 box

2 x 4 boards fro the cross braces:                                8 long boards

Carpet for the top of the platform:                             1 piece, 4’ x 8’

 
We went to Home Depot and filled the dolly with all of the materials on the list.  $ 249.20 later, we headed home.  The rest of the day was spent cutting wood, nailing boards into place and setting the joists into the joist hangers.  Branson worked hard during the entire project.  The Millett boys joined us for a short time but they were soon lured away by the trampoline and the small inflatable back yard pool.  And by Brylee, Branson’s sister.  After a very long time, much longer than we had anticipated, the rough shape of the platform was finished.  We had no idea at that time how far from “finished” we actually were.

We had a platform that was not ready for prime time but Branson and I put it into use anyway by throwing the carpet piece over the top and by moving the platform next to the trampoline.  It was an immediate and hugely successful endeavor.  The kids loved it and swarmed onto to, jumping wildly back and forth from the platform to the trampoline to the pool and then back again.  The platform looked like a heavy duty piece of indestructible equipment that could withstand an atom bomb.  We soon learned that the platform could not adequately withstand 12 grandkids and four neighbor kids.  Maybe we should have dropped grandkids on Nagasaki to end World War II.  (Just a little joke, not a serious suggestion).   It was Branson who noticed that the platform “creaked” a lot as the kids jumped back and forth.  He did not like the sound and started to make a closer inspection.  After the structural engineering inspection, Branson reported that the nails were not holding up all that well.  He was referring to the large nails that held the entire platform together.  I had to see for myself so Branson gave me a tour of the structure.  He was right.  The constant banging of a thousand jumps per minute was causing the formerly tight bond between the various pieces of lumber to become loose and creaky.  We needed a solution.

Branson and I decided that each joint, all eight of them, needed to be reinforced with very long bolts.  Some joints needed four bolts, others needed only two.  Back to Home Depot.  Does anyone have any idea how much long bolts, flat washers, lock washers and nuts cost?  We also needed a very long drill bit to drill the holes for the long bolts to go into.  When it was all added up, I almost fell over.  $99.17.

Back at the back yard, Branson and I dragged out the drill and the extension cord and the bolts and washers and nits and other tools and we stared drilling and bolting.  Does anyone know how hard it is to drill all those holes and place all those bolts?  I didn’t know before but I know now.  It takes two different episodes and each episode takes a long time.  Hooray!  The platform is finished!  Wrong.  We soon found more problems.

The constant pounding of people and water had caused the top board, the 4 x 8 piece of plywood, to become loose and full of splintering pieces.   Branson and I studied the problem and decided that the top piece needed to be secured with deck screws.  We also felt that the entire platform needed to be painted to protect the wood from the elements (i.e. kids and water).   Back to Home Depot.  This time we purchased deck screws and more washers and paint and paint brushes and paint holders.  $76.10.  Home again and back to work.

The deck screws did not work.  The wood was not tough enough to hold the top of the deck screws so each screw went right through the wood and did not stop when the screw was all the way down.  The screws kept going, leaving only little holes in the plywood.  We needed another solution.  Thankfully, Branson and I were not the first builders to run into this problem.  Home Depot had deck screws with very large heads.  Big, round flat heads that would not go through the wood.  They worked, but they were very expensive.  They were specialty items so of course we had to expect to pay a premium price.  $43.27.

Branson could not stop himself from inspecting the structural integrity of the platform and sure enough, he found another problem.  One of the joists had cracked at the spot where it attaches to the frame of the platform.  I had to cut three repair pieces of wood, crawl under the platform and secure the repair pieces by drilling guide holes and using more deck screws.  It took 5 hours to repair one little crack that Branson just had to find.

Now it was time to paint.  On the scheduled day for this part of the project, I turned the platform up-side-down so we could get at the legs, the cross braces and the underside of the platform.  There are at least 20 different boards that make up the platform.  Each board has four sides.  This means that we had to paint 80 different surfaces.  It became a painting free for all.  Branson and Brylee and the Millett kids and several other grandkids, including 2 year old Brookie and 6 year old Mikey, joined in the fracas.  Paint was everywhere and some of it was on the boards of the platform.   Paint on kids, paint on clothes, paint in hair, paint on the dogs, paint all over the back patio and paint on everyone’s feet and shoes.  Through it all, one kid stayed at the work and kept painting despite the chaos and the heat and the noise and confusion.  Branson was steady and remained at his assignment until all of the paint was gone. 

I ruined my pants with splashes of paint drops.  $35.00 more dollars.  But that was nothing.  When I realized that I had not changed out of my good jeans, I ran to the laundry room and threw my Levi’s into the washing machine.  My fast thinking did not save my pants but it did kill my cell phone.  I had forgotten that my cell phone was in the back pocket of my Levi’s.  It cost me $100.00 for a new phone and another $100.00 to pay for all of the re-programming and re-setting of codes and information that I can’t do by myself.  But hooray!  The platform was finished.  Wrong again.

We ran out of paint before we ran out of places on the platform that needed paint. Back to Home Depot.  This time we needed more than just paint. The top of the platform had deteriorated so badly that we needed a large piece of carpet padding to go under our piece of carpet.  $29.95 for the paint and $39.99 for the carpet pad.

I sneaked outside at 5:00 a.m. on Saturday to do the painting.  I should have let Branson in on the sneakiness but I let him sleep in.  Three hours later, I was finished.  The painting project was almost finished as well.  I said:  “Good enough”.   But the platform was not yet finished.  We still needed to secure the carpet padding and the carpet.  The size of the padding and the carpet allowed several inches to hang over each side of the platform.  I showed Branson how to attach the material by using deck screws to secure long boards on each side of the platform, over the carpet and pad.  He did this part of the work by himself.  Now the platform was finished.  So was the summer.  It took us almost the entire summer to finish the platform that we thought we could build in one day.  But let’s be clear on one thing.  The project was a giant success because the platform was in constant use from the very first day.  All of the work, the reinforcements, the deck screws, the repairs and the painting did not stop or hinder the use of the marvelous platform.  It served its purpose on a daily basis during the hot summer days and sometimes well into the hot summer nights.  Branson did good, no question about it.

The platform and the damage it caused (notice how I blame the platform and not myself for the “damage it caused”) cost about $700.00.   I don’t care.  I am extremely happy for the experience of assisting Branson in building the platform and for the endless hours of fun that the platform has given the grandkids during the long hot summer of 2012.  Hooray! Branson Heywood’s marvelous platform is finished!      









































































I love my Dad's stories. I love my Dad. I love my hard working little Branson Man and I love the platform. I have spent many hours stretched out on it, under the sky watching my kids jump, ride bikes, play and laugh. That thing is genius.



Thursday, September 13, 2012

10 Years, 3 months


10 years and 3 months ago today, on June 13, 2002 my twin sweetheart babies were born.






























And this morning on September 13, 2012 my twins, got a set of twin cousins!





















Congratulations Spence and Em!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My Crush

When I scroll through recent pictures on my camera, there are A LOT of my two babies and very few of my three big kids. Such a shame because they are great kids doing great things (mostly) but from the time they get home after school, until the time we go to bed at night, life is just a flurry of practices and lessons, homework, dinner, showers and bed time.

When I think of the after school hours, my head plays the theme song from, "The Night Rider".

Hurry, busy, go, go, go.

But I have needed to write about my Kaden Boy for weeks now. All the angst and anxiety of 6th grade has been traded in for confidence and success in 7th. He is a new man. The best part?...Everyday on the way home from school, Kaden tells me about the crushes. Oh, how I love the crush stories! Do you know that "crushes" are rampant in 7th grade? This was a story Branson told me all disgustedly and with all the eagerness of a really proficient tattle tale...

"Mom, guess what Kaden did at school?! I saw him walking toward some girls and HE-WAS-SMILING! Totally smiling! Are you going to get him in trouble?"

Very dead serious, mind you.

He was not in trouble but I think I am. Those girls are after my boy, luckily, he doesn't seem to reciprocate the crushes....yet.

Last year I really had to remind and coax and work to get Kaden to do the basic- shower, teeth deodorant drill. He could not have cared less how he smelled or looked. This year the holy power of a few 7th grade crushes descended upon him and now he leaves the house smelling of "cool rush" deodorant and toothpaste.

Kaden is maturing and even though it still takes him 30 minutes to do a 30 second task, he is becoming more and more a friend to me. We talk about all sorts of things and we have lots of inside jokes. He is so fun to hang out with and it has taught me that for all my mourning for his baby years, these years have something special too.

The other day at mutual a bunch of the boys were using some harsh language. I call it "Mormon cussing", not really swear words but their very close substitutes. Kaden's friend Ben asked them to stop and then Ben quickly became a target for teasing. I was told later by Ben's dad that Kaden yelled out over the others,

"Hey guys, Ben is right."

What a man that boy of mine. I had a crush on him way before 7th grade and lucky for me,  his heart still belongs to his Mother...if only for a little while longer.









Friday, September 7, 2012

Rain Gift
























Rain is such a novelty here in the desert. After weeks of torturous heat we finally had a nice break this morning. Sweet-cold-rain. Mmmm, so good.

It was relief from the constant crying of my poor sick baby. We sat on the porch swing and breathed in the wet air like it was the last bit of oxygen on earth. Cali wiggled free from her perch on my lap and actually seemed happy for a few minutes. Rain as medicine, I guess.

Even on days like today, when fevers and rocking chairs are the only thing we have going, I still love my job.

Maybe especially on days like today.



Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Climbing Expedition

When the twins were 4 we started spending time at the Gilbert Rec center, it has been a family favorite for years now. You cant climb the rock wall until you are 5 so getting to the rock wall was on Ella's birthday list.

She was all talk last Saturday. Telling us how high she was going to climb and how big she is. Even when we walked through the doors and started getting harnesses on, she was still all talk.

And then she suddenly got very quiet.



































Only by some major coaxing did she even set foot on the wall.




































She climbed about 1 foot off the ground and that was it.




































We gave her high 5's, we cheered, we let her by a treat from the vending machine but that little chicken never ventured back over to the wall.

What did she do the whole time you ask? Kicked, screamed and cried on the floor.

"I want to go home!!"

A sincere apology goes out to all the other rec center patrons....that  place echoes and Scott and I pretty much ignored our our sweet little dear.

We had other climbers to watch...





































Besides that I have a talent for ignoring fits, its a gift really.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Her Style

"Hey Mom take a picture of my style"

"Your style?"

"Yes!"

"OK"......





Heaven Help us.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Fredricksberg

We had our first diorama assignment of the year. And as always...I cringed. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the creative process as much as anyone but these school dioramas...yuck, yuck, yuck! Maybe it is because I have very particular children who will settle for nothing less than "realistic" and "to scale" and all of that jazz.

When I go to bed at night, sometimes I have nightmares about dioramas.

Kaden's history class is studying the civil war and so he was to create a diorama of the battle of Fredricksberg. Of course we waited until the last night because I like confining the homework duress to one night, instead of drawing it out over the course of a whole blasted week.

What I learned is that if you tell a boy to create a mini of a war seen...he will add blood.



































And severed limbs.



































And decapitated heads. And explosions.





































He will enjoy every minute of it



































and the on lookers will be in shock.




































And I learned that my boy can make a seriously good Battle of Fredricksberg diorama.

Dear Teacher,
The grade for this here diorama is an A. Just in case you were wondering.

Thanks.