Thursday, August 25, 2016

That Was Rough

 "'That was rough,' he said. "That was as rough a thing as I ever heard tell of happening to a boy. And I'm mighty proud to learn how my boy stood up to it. You couldn't ask any more of a grown man.'" - Fred Gibson, Old Yeller

For our last week of summer before school started we decided to take a trip to the cabin. The plan was to head up on Monday morning with all the kids and then Brylee, Cali, Ella and I would come home Tuesday night so Brylee and I could be home in time for cheer camp which was scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Side Note:
I love coaching cheer! It has been full of stress but full of fun and I am so glad I get to do this with Brylee! Here we are on our first day of practice, aren't they cute!

So the week was going great and cheer camp was going great and the boys were having a great time at the cabin wearing out their last days of summer riding dirt bikes.

Late Thursday I got a call from my Mom, "you don't want to hear this but I think Branson broke his arm when he crashed today on the dirt bike."

I spent the next three hours waiting and pacing while my Dad made the three hour drive home with Branson in the back seat. My mind and heart were racing with worry...

Football season was just 5 days away. The football season that Branson has been waiting for, working for and planning for since last season. Scott was away on a three day canoe trip with the scouts and was unreachable by phone. Branson was also scheduled to have an important and urgent surgery the very next morning to start the process of bringing his impacted canine teeth down into place. Besides all that, I still had one day of cheer camp to coach and no one to cover me.

Branson arrived home covered in dirt and scratches and pretty somber. I sent him to take a shower and drove him to urgent care. On the way over, I reached for his hand and said, "Branson, your arm is probably broken, you need to decide how you are going to handle missing football season." He didn't respond. We sat in silence while we waited for the x-ray results and remained silent while the doctor confirmed what we already knew.

Broken wrist-both bones. Needed to be set first thing in the morning. They put an awkwardly placed splint on his arm and let us go.

I knew his heart was broken far worse than his wrist. We got in the car around 10 pm and I asked him if I could take him to Grandpa's house for a Priesthood Blessing. He was fighting hard to contain the tears and didn't want to see anyone. I assured him that getting a blessing would help him through the hard days to come and he agreed.

Grandma met us at the door and while we waited for Uncle Seth and Grandpa to get their white shirts on I could hold onto my ache for my son no more and tears started to roll down my cheeks. Branson's emotions finally got the better of him as well and we held eachother close and let the sobs come.

As I sat on the couch with both arms around Branson, I was so thankful for the circle of Priesthood that guards my family. Even though Scott was away fulfilling his calling I can think of  20 Priesthood holders off the top of my head that would have coming running at a moments notice. I am grateful everyday that the Lord allows us the gift of Priesthood blessings while we are away from Him.

After a tender blessing and a few long hugs we made our way back home, I tucked Branson in next to me in bed, propped his arm on a pillow and prayed my heart out that he would be able to sleep. In the morning we would have to get his arm set and make it to oral surgery all while Branson was fasting.(due to general anesthetic for the mouth surgery) I held Branson's hand and watched him finally rest but I did not sleep, instead I dripped tears into my pillow wondering how to help my boy through the heartbreak of missing something that he had been looking forward to for so long. Later I found out that Scott had received my text about Branson's arm and was doing the same thing as me, only on the side of the river, in a sleeping bag. Scott and Branson have a whole football thing together and so football season is more than just a bunch of games to them, it is also part of the glue that binds them together.

The morning was a stressful mess of phone calls, texts and after cancelling cheer camp we made  a rushed drive over to Banner Desert to see an orthopedic specialist. We waited--forever--while sweet Branson suffered in pain and hunger and anxiety.  At last when his arm was casted we raced to the other side of town where he went under for his oral surgery.

By the time I got him home (with a mouth full of open cuts) he was still completely disoriented and confused from the anesthesia but literally sobbing in pain. I gave him a double dose of pain medication and then held him like a baby, rubbed his forehead and tried to calm him down with songs and love. I thought my heart would break to see my, tough-as-nails big teenager son, crumple with pain and exhaustion in such a confused state of coming out of anesthesia. He finally fell into a deep sleep and I was so glad to finally see him find a bit of comfort.

At this point I thought that football season was a complete loss, I expected that even though his cast would come off about half way through the season, Branson would not make the team or he wouldn't want to be on the team if he couldn't play. Well I was wrong. Not only did he make the team he was one of the captains and did not sit out for even one minute of one practice. Then half way through the season Branson finally got his cast off--that same week their teams quarter back broke his collar bone. Without even one practice and with an arm fresh out of a cast Branson was put in as starting quarter back. He played horrible that first game as QB but every game after that he improved and he over came major nerves about playing a new position. In the last game Branson threw two touch down passes and ran one in for another.

Yesterday we attended the football awards ceremony and watched Branson be awarded one of the MVP's of his team. When I think back to that night in Urgent Care with Branson and remember the feeling we both had after the doctor assured us that Branson's arm was indeed broken-I would never in a million years have thought that Branson would be the MVP of his football team. Not in a million.

He overcame, had fun and put together the broken pieces of what could have been a total loss and my Mama heart is proud.

 "That was as rough a thing as I ever heard tell of happening to a boy. And I'm mighty proud to learn how my boy stood up to it. You couldn't ask any more of a grown man."


Friday, August 19, 2016

For This

In August of 2011 Scott and I had 5 children our oldest was 11 and our youngest was 7 months. Scott was serving in our bishopric and working away from home for most hours of most days. We were living in our small but beloved first little home where we had lived for nearly 12 years. My life was happy but it was hard and exhausting with all the trials and demands of life and motherhood always weighing on my heart. My favorite out-let then, as it is now, was writing. I would stay up late just to get the chance to put my heart on paper. To sort through life by writing it down and by making a record. I wrote almost every single day. 

On the evening of September 5th I sat down to record a small but sacred experience I had the week before and when it was done I posted it on my blog. A few weeks later I submitted it to the Ensign, not expecting to hear anything back, which I didn't. I never forgot about the little piece of writing and I read it often but I did forget all about the submission.

Years came and went and life rolled on as it always does. In 2012 we moved out of our wonderful home and ward that I loved with all my heart. I wrote about the move here. It was a hard hard change for me. I struggled to feel at home in our new neighborhood and then in 2014 I was called to serve as Primary President. I adored this calling, I finally felt at home again after a long stretch of feeling lost. For the next two years I put my heart into the Primary and I received so many wonderful tender mercies and blessing in this time. In April of 2016 our ward and stake had a major split but because I stayed in my original ward I remained the Primary President. I went straight home and spent countless hours that week redoing class lists and rearranging teachers, calling subs and preparing a Sharing Time lesson. 4 days into all of this work I was called in and released. All releases are hard when you have loved your calling but this one broke my heart. It was so unexpected and felt so abrupt that I struggled to wrap my heart around it. It hurt--to say the least

And then in May, out of the blue, I was contacted by the Ensign and asked to give my permission for my submission from 5 years earlier to be published. I sent the permission and felt instantly as if Heaven was saying, I see you, I know you, I need you. Timing is everything to the Lord and it was just the message of love I needed right then.

I was sent a shorter version (for sake of space) of my original article and told it would run in September but not to tell anyone since publication schedules can change without notice. But today the September 2016 edition of The Ensign was posted and there was my article. I love it and I am so thankful for the counsel to record our experiences in writing, the practice of doing so has blessed my life again and again. 

Here is my original version below and here is the Ensign version. (Not sure why the cute little illustration is a Mexican Family?? We laughed so hard about that!) 

For This Last week our ward had "Temple Week". There were a few different activities designed to help family's focus on the temple. On Saturday as part of Temple Week everyone was supposed to take their family down to the Mesa temple, get a picture together and visit the visitors center. That morning Scott and Kaden had football practice and so I ran around in a flurry getting everyone dressed and their hair combed and everything else ready to go. It took me 2 solid hours. Scott got home and showered then we loaded up and headed to the temple. The whole way there-THE WHOLE WAY, Brylee and Branson fought in the back seat. I closed my eyes and plugged my ears.

The temple was packed and there was nowhere to park and so Scott let us all out and he then went up the street to park.

It was hot. Like, heat advisory hot. Add the heat to all the grass and plants and pools at the temple and it was heat advisory meets sauna meets family outing.  We endured the heat through the picture and then we took all of our overheated bodies and sun educed grouchy attitudes inside to tour the visitors center. The kids scattered, they all wanted to see something different and while we looked at the City of Jerusalem model, Kaden and Branson had a shoving match.

Ella was screaming to see the "the statue” so we corralled everyone and headed to the front of the building to see The Christis. We were the only family in the presentation and when the big curtains closed and the lights dimmed and the soothing voice came on the speakers, I looked down the row at my family. All their little faces were turned upward and all their eyes were wide and everyone was perfectly still and reverent. I swallowed hard and thought... I did all that for this.

On Friday, I got ambitious, I tried a new recipe and had all the prep work done by 9am. At 5pm just as I was about to cook it all up and serve a gourmet dinner, Scott called and said that they had gotten free Cardinals tickets at work and asked if he and the boys could go. So I threw all their things together and hurried everyone into the car. I pulled out and just then Ella spilled her whole cup of yogurt into her carseat. I pulled back in cleaned her up, reloaded, sat through the late afternoon traffic and eventually got the boys delivered to Scott.

Later that night after an evening of unexpectedly baby-sitting extra cousins, I spent an hour getting my would-be dinner cleaned up and Ella and Cali put to bed so that I could spend some time with Brylee. We snuggled together in my bed and talked about school and shampoo and babies and she laid her wet head on my stomach while I  tickled her back. We held hands as she drifted off to sleep and I thought...I did all that for this.

On Friday, Kaden and Brylee had an evening swim meet so I took Branson and the little girls to play over at my mom’s house and I suggested we stop for ice-cream on the way home.  For the last whole hour that we were there, Branson was chasing, teasing, bugging and tickling Ella. Ella was a full and willing participant in this, alternating from full out screams to shrieking laughter. They were running around under our feet like two little puppies. All of the screaming and yelling and laughing was a bit much and I asked them to stop so many times that I lost count.

I was frazzled by the time we loaded up to leave and then my car battery was dead and needed to be jumped.

On the way home Branson asked where we were stopping for ice-cream and I had to respond,

"Oh, were not, because you and Ella didn't listen to me."

I endured the long ride home while he ranted and said a few less than kind words. I ignored him and sent him straight to bed when we got home. Later on, I was laying half asleep on my bed-disheartened, discouraged and sad when I heard Branson say,

"Mom, don't open your eyes."

I felt him putting something around my wrist and then he ran out. It was a duct tape bracelet with a message....

And I thought...I did all that for this.

For this.

I spent most of last week feeling completely down, totally inadequate and entirely not good enough. My imperfections, mistakes and shortcomings were ringing loud in my ears like a fire alarm. With all of the demands of life on my mind I couldn't sleep last night. I got up this morning and started my chores. In the office I pulled my camera down from the shelf, wondering if I had even taken one picture all week. I came to the  one that the sister missionary took of us under The Christis last Saturday and I remember standing there, holding my baby, showing my kids the nail markings in the granite feet of the statue. We ran our fingers in the groves and looked up at the marks in His outstretched hands and we talked about how He got the spear wound in His side.

While I studied the picture remembering our few precious minutes of peace, I heard Heaven whisper to my heart.........I did all that for thisFor you.

And He did.

All of that suffering and teaching and showing and bleeding- so that I can have all this, so they can be mine forever, so I can repent and try again. How I love Him for it.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Summer 2016-Summer Catch-Up

I don't know that I have ever gone this long without recording something on my blog. So sad. But let me tell you summer time at my house is not conducive to me being in the office writing. I don't know if other kids are this way but my kids NEED ME. They seem to be in constant need of something and all those needs center around me. And really I NEED THEM so sometimes summer turns into one big blur of activities, snacks and vacations. I did make an attempt back in June that I never finished so here goes...

I have had the most peaceful feelings lately. I am so grateful to be a Mother. Its summertime and all the kids are home and my home looks like a Frat House. I mean, I could clean all day and it would still be a mess with all these people in it 24/7. And I don't actually clean all day (even though it feels like it) and so the place is a bomb. But I look around and see ALL my kids here enjoying a slow paced summer schedule and my heart feels such peace. I love to hear them laughing together, deciding on a movie to watch or a treat to make. I love when we all jump in the pool and end up staying in for two hours, coming out all water logged and pruned. I just really like having everyone home even if they trash the place.

Here goes my summer catch up....


Scott and I had the amazing privilege of being a Trek Ma and Pa. Oh how I loved this experience. Before we left I spent several weeks reading Pioneer stories and can I just say that this Church and its people came from insane toughness. I love the Mormon Pioneers, I love their grit and faith and I love that I got to experience just a small sliver of the life they lived.

On the second day of the trek the kids got to spend the afternoon playing pioneer games. There were about 300 teenagers in attendance and not one of them had a phone with them. At one point I stood back and watched the games and activities. The kids were having so much fun, they seemed so happy, they were laughing and playing and you could just feel the joy in the air. I just thought, "so this is what happens when there are no phones." It was seriously a beautiful sight to see.

The Beach:
The beach never fails us. Here in the desert we are stuck with the most stupidly short summers. My poor kids go back the end of July and I feel cheated. So pretty much every second of the entire summer counts and we have to make the most of it. The beach is just an awesome place to do that.

Ella is the BEST Barbie stylist. We have pierced all her Babies ears and Ella is fabulous at changing their outfits and earrings and hair accessories. I mean, if there was Barbie Fashion Olympics, we are taking home the Gold people, I'm telling you.

Swim Team:
Ella did amazing at swim team this summer. She is a tiny little squirt and is usually about a foot shorter than everyone else but she swam her little heart out and came home with two second place metals and a 4th place ribbon. Brylee and Kaden opted for club swim this summer.

My Boys:
My boys are buddies. Sure they have the occasional fight but really they are buddies. Branson is really good at talking Kaden into taking the two of them all sorts of places and wasting money on junk like fuzzy cardinals socks and Lego man molds. So the other day they came home from one of these weird excursions and used my kitchen to concoct a gummy bear recipe which they poured into the newly aquired Lego man mold. When that sucker cooled off and came out of the fridge these boys were all kinds of proud. They are 14 and 16 but a giant gummy Lego guy is all it takes to bring them utter joy and delight. I die. I seriously die when they do this awesome stuff.

My naughty little twins turned 14. Can I brag? These two are the best. They are loads of fun, and my goodness I am just the luckiest. Branson was actually gone on a scout camp out on his birthday which was my total undoing. I have NEVER not been with one of my kids on their birthday, it was ridiculous. I was all like "Nooooooo!" and he was all like "See Ya Mom". So whatever, Scott and I did get to take him out on a birthday date before he left so there was that. Brylee's sweet adorable friends came over and showered her with so much love. These girls they are priceless!

Branson was also ordained a Teacher. As always I felt so happy and thankful for the honor of having worthy Priesthood holders in my home. Such a blessing and I try to not take it for granted.

Kaden, was at a farwell! Grrrr! 

And then July hit and chaos ensued. Peaceful slow summer feelings departed and I aged at least a year in one months time. Swim team was still going strong and Kaden was still working a lot of hours. Scott was in planning mode for a major 3 day 60 mile canoe trip with the scouts and Kaden and I decided that we should knock out his Eagle project. Really we needed to since we both knew that once school started it was all over for Kaden.

Holy Smokes! The work of an Eagle project! (Dude, BSA, really? Proposal Packet, planning packet, PROJECT, workbook AND report!)

But even with the insane amount of work and the early hours, and the late nights it turned out to be an amazing experience. He even got his cute face on TV. He (We) recruited, planned and organized over 60 volunteers over a three day period to help the City of Phoenix "We're cool" initiative. Basically we passed out maps to the homeless population that show them where they can go to receive free water in the summer. It was amazing seeing this big group of "privileged" Gilbert kids come face to face with homeless people. It was an eye opener for them for sure and you know I loved that.

Overall we had an amazing summer. I am so grateful for those hot, empty weeks that let me spend extra time with my kids! The summer ended pretty crummy but that's a story for another day.

Summer 2016 that's a wrap.