"I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life;
to put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived." ~Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Look Who Found His Feet!

There is something adorable and almost magical about the discovery of one's feet. Garrett found his and thinks it's the best thing since...well...the last amazing body part he found.

The Splash Pad

We live in a very kid friendly neighborhood and they recently built a new park adjacent to a really great splash pad. It opened right about the time Lauren had her surgery and we had pretty much banned all water activities because it was such a risk for her. For several days, friends would call, inviting us to meet them at the splash pad for lunch. I got so tired of telling them "no" so one morning I threw my hands in the air and decided to join the living at the much talked about splash pad. It did not disappoint! It is the perfect size for kids both young and old, and it has really awesome fountains of different kinds. When we went it was the perfect temperature outside and the kids had so much fun. They ran back and forth between the playground and the water all morning. We will be spending a lot of time at the splash pad next summer, I just know it!

Bubble Blowin'

July 23, 2011

No Empty Seats

W e had a very important and meaningful FE lesson a couple of weeks ago. It's something that I had been planning and conjuring in my brain for quite some time. Anyone who knows me knows that I am the ultimate planner and organizer. Now, my plans and don't always come to pass, but I love the process nonetheless. Cody and I love dreaming and scheming about our family and our goals. Often times our best talks happen when we are making long road trips as a family. The kids will be zonked out in the back of the van and Cody and I will talk and talk as the miles pass. We LOVE talking about our family and where we are going. Where are we headed? What is our long term vision for our family? Where do we see our family in 5, 10, 50 years?

For Cody and me, our family's vision is summed up into our family motto: No Empty Seats. Most of the time when we say our family prayer (especially morning prayer), after we say "amen" we put our hands into a pile and say "No empty seats!" and then throw our hands up in the air. Yup, it's way cheesy and Cody rolls his eyes when we do it like that, but the kids love it and even twenty month old Devin loves to do it and always has a huge smile on his face as he tries to say the words with us. The kids know that this means we’re headed for the Celestial Kingdom together and we want everyone there. Hopefully, by saying it every day, we’re reminding ourselves of the big picture and that all of our other goals and plans need to, in some way, help us get there.

So one Monday afternoon, the kids and I worked together to make this family timeline. Well, I did most of it because the time consuming part was brainstorming the whole thing...looking back over journals and making sense of where we have been since Cody and I started our family together. When it was finished as much as it could be at this point, I unveiled it that night for FHE and we had a lengthy discussion about what it was and what it meant to us as a family.

Each child in the family has their own colored line. Each child’s line starts on the year that they were born. On their line we’ve filled in all important milestones and when they will take place… a mark on their line for when they’ll start kindergarten, be baptized, receive the priesthood, go into beehives, Mia Maids, Laurels, Deacons, Teachers, Priests, start to date, go to college, go on a mission, etc.

Above each child's line, are all the important family milestones we have reached together. Places we have lived, schooling, jobs we've had, cars we've driven (yes, even details like that are important to us), car accidents, hospitalizations, church callings we've held, deaths in the family (writing in Joseph's death about broke my heart all over again). All of these things seem trivial to other people, but to us, they are all significant paths in this beautifully intricate quilt that we've made over the years.

It’s our family PLAN. We want our children to know what the plan is… and that we EXPECT it to happen. We don’t say IF you decide to go on a mission, they see it actually on their line like it’s part of the plan. And it's not to take away their free agency, but hopefully that by looking at things like that on a regular basis, it will help it feel more real and manifest as a reachable goal. Another neat thing about this timeline is seeing how the kids lines match up. How old will Garrett be when Ethan goes on his mission? How long will Hailey and Lauren be in young women’s together? How many kids will be in elementary school at the same time together (and the answer to that is four kids. Devin will be in kindergarten when Ethan is in sixth grade!) When Mom and Dad have their 35th wedding annivesary, how old will Garrett be? Ha, if you look closely, you will see that if Lauren and Devin both go on missions at the typical time, their missions will overlap by seventeen months! That stuff is very neat to look at.

Part of developing a good relationship with our children is creating that vision together. Cody and I fully plan on and expect that we will have great relationships with our children as they grow older… and we’re working towards that every day. I spend a lot of time talking with the kids on a regular basis about what their futures can look like. Sometimes while painting one of the girls' fingernails, we will start talking about life and I'll say something like "Lauren, I can't wait until you go on your first date and we sit here at the kitchen table and I give you a manicure and help you get ready..." Even though she isn't quite four years old, talking about stuff like that is exciting to her. And in turn, it leads to all other kinds of questions. Because of this, the kids and I seem to constantly be in discussion about what lies ahead and things that our family has to look forward to.

Just this afternoon while I was making lunch, Ethan was asking me about college and what goes on there. "Where will I sleep?" He asked with concern. "Silly, you know you sleep in a college room!" Said Hailey, in reply. And then we talked about Student Union food and classes and how much fun college can be. College? Really? It'll be here before we know it.

I want them to envision or EXPECT that having a great relationship and talking to your mom and dad is just what you do. We talk about how exciting it is going to be to go to kindergarten and how good they will be in their class, about how proud we are that they will be choosing to get baptized, about what it will be like when Ethan starts passing the Sacrament at church, about what it will be like when we drop each of them off at college, about how it will feel when we take each of them to the temple for the first time, about recieving mission calls, what I will feel when I am in the bridal room at the temple, helping my girls get dressed in their wedding gowns...just writing these things is making me tear up. You name it, we talk about it, and I think it helps our kids envision our relationship throughout their lives as well as build the necessary communication skills for a successful close relationship.

So this timeline that we made is rolled up in a safe place in our house. I expect that once in a while we will unroll it to record important events that have taken place, and to check and see where we are in our plan. Hopefully this simple tool will help bring us one step closer to reaching the goal of being together in the Celetstial Kingdom when we pass from this life!

Evening Walks

One of our favorite things to do as a family (when the weather is decent) is to walk around the neighborhood. We seemingly always end up playing on the school playground, just as we did on this night. Lucky for us, the Taylors had the same idea and it's a good thing we brought a basketball because Mike and Tommy challenged Dad and Ethan to a game of two-on-two. Watching my family run around the playground and chaser each other and laugh really does give me a small glimpse of Heaven.

Dad's Mission

One Sunday afternoon in July the subject of Cody's mission came up. Cody pulled out his great big mission photo album and showed it to the kids. They thought it was "so funny" and "so cool" to see Dad as a much younger person. They thought it was weird looking at him without any wiskers on his face. Ethan ran and got his globe so they could see exactly where Santiago, Chile was. For days Ethan talked about Chile and how he thinks we should go visit there. I know Cody would love to take us there one day to visit his old mission stomping ground, and maybe one day that can happen. For now I love that our kids have a parent who served a mission and who likes to talk about it with them. Both of my parents were converts to the church, both joining in their late twenties, so I never had the experience of having a returned missionary as a parent. I hope and pray that Cody's example will light a fire within our kids and encourage them to serve missions too one day.

Make New Friends, But Keep the Old

We had an amazingly fun and very impromptu cookout with some very old friends early in July. Way back in the day, Cody and I were in a college singles ward and we made great friends with some guys and girls, who just happened to branch off and marry one another. I married Cody, Lynnae married Cody's roommate Rich, Brandi married Erin, and Clark remained single. I loved Clark like a brother from our very first meeting and we were so sad when he moved away to Georgia for grad school, still single.

A fews years later, to our delight Clark moved back to attend med school at the U. A while later, he met the most fantastic girl named Jessica, and again to our delight they got married. Then they broke our hearts and moved away to Missouri so Clark could do his OB/GYN residency. The times they have come back to visit have been a HUGE treat for us.

One evening in July Cody got a call from Clark saying they were in town and they would love to see us. Cody invited them and their three kids over for a BBQ the next night. Well I imediately got on the phone and sent texts to Brandi and Lynnae, explaing that it was terribly short notice but that Clark and Jess were in town and were coming for dinner and that hopefully they could make it. We all live in different parts of town and can't get together that often, so I knew it was a very long shot. Plus Rich is in med school and Erin works crazy hours so I didn't get my hopes up.

Well, to my surprise AGAIN the next night we had eight adults and fourteen kids occupying our backyard! Everyone was able to make it, nothing short of an act of God. We had such a fun time and I think we could have sat around and talked late into the night. But alas, everyone had tired kids that needed to go to bed. Sadly I didn't get many pictures because I was so busy visiting. But I'm glad I got this beautiful one of Jess stuffing her face! I can't wait to be able to get together like this again. Unfortunately Clark is now a fully employed OB/GYN in Missouri and we won't be seeing much of them, but we'll take what we can get!

Lauren's Surgery

On July 6th, Lauren was finally able to have the first surgery to correct the macrodactly in her left hand. I was a nervous wreck for the days leading up to surgery, because I am always scared when my kids go under anesthesia. I prayed and bargained with the Lord to make the surgery go well, and it looks like it's time for me to pay up! Everything went splendidly.

The worst part of the day for Lauren was having to starve. Her surgery wasn't until 2:15 and she wasn't able to have any solid food from the time she woke up that morning. All she could have was Jello up until noon, and at first she thought that was great, but then even Jello wasn't fixing her hunger and she complained alot about being hungry. Ha, the next day when she woke up she said "Mom, I don't have to have MORE Jello, do I?"

Dad was able to suit up and go with her back into the OR, so she wouldn't be afraid. He stayed with her until she was asleep and then he joined me in the family waiting area. I tried to keep my mind occupied, but even my Harry Potter book wasn't doing the trick. But the surgery went well, and it lasted about 1 1/2 hours. Dr. Hutchinson came in to talk to us when it was all over and he said that it went as well as he had hoped for, but that she would likely need a couple more surgeries as she continued to grow. He had to cut and stretch a ligament in her finger and he put a pin in to keep it in place. Luckily he did not have to remove a nerve, which had been a huge worry for us. He splinted it, put a tape cast on, and covered the whole thing with Coban. I was shocked when I saw just how much bandaging was covering her arm, considering it was just her finger that had been messed up. But in order to hold the finger in place, he had to protect and keep the whole lower arm from moving.

I was so anxious to see her in recovery, and it broke my heart a little when I saw my spunky and spirited little girl so heavily sedated. It took about an your for her to wake up and realize who I was, and to my surprise, she had no problems coming out of anesthesia. It affects Devin and me badly and makes us very angry and hyper when we wake up, but Lauren opened her eyes just like Sleeping Beauty and just smiled. Then she got to eat a popsicle and all was well. Dad finally got to come in and she was super happy to see him too.

The next several weeks were a challenge in some ways because of her pain and keeping cast protected and dry. It put a real damper on our summer because she couldn't go swimming at all, so as a result none of us did much swimming or even playing outside in the water because it seemed that no matter what we did, the cast got a little wet each time.

Lauren was a real trooper through the whole experience and hopefully next time the doctor does another repair, she will be older and better able to handle the stress of being somewhat incapatcitated.

4th of July

We weren't going to go out of town for the 4th, but we decided to at the last minute. We headed up to Idaho and the kids had a great time hanging out with cousins, as usual. We had a weenie roast, went to the parade, played baseball in the yard, did LOTS of fireworks and firecrackers, went swimming at the city pool, saw the fireworks show at night, and played a LOT. Garrett was at the peek of his fussy stage and he and Mom spent most of the time camped out the bedroom as she tried to get him to eat and sleep. As a result she dived deeply into the Harry Potter series (reading kept her sane during that difficult time) and she became an absolute HP addict. Overall it was a great visit and we're glad we went!