Quiet Giant

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This post has been sitting around for a while. I started it and something came up so I couldn’t finish it. Better late than never.

Gavin spoke in Sacrament Meeting on Sunday, August 14. His topic was faith and he wrote the talk all on his own. He did a really good job. I was quite impressed by his insights on the topic. The only help he asked for was for us to remind him of his own personal stories with faith. Most teenagers haven’t had enough life experience to have really tested out a lot of topics they are asked to teach about. That was how he was feeling.

The first story that came to mind was a situation when he was a toddler and I taught him the power of prayer. I told him that he used to wake up in the middle of the night with nightmares. He would cry and I would go in to comfort him. None of this woke up Baby Parker. Gavin would be fine after a few minutes and I would go back to bed. Then Parker would wake up crying because he was a baby and babies do that. It didn’t wake up Gavin but I would have to go in to take care of Parker.

This would happen more than once some nights and I was thoroughly exhausted trying to comfort two kids each night. The thought occurred to me to teach Gavin to pray for comfort. This would save me some time if one kid could be more self-reliant. It was a success. While I did it more out of desperation I do remember that situation. I remember teaching Gavin that Heavenly Father would listen to him and help him. I also remember how important it was to Gavin, which really strengthened my testimony.

Gavin condensed the story well for his talk. The story touched the sister speaking after him so much that she was nearly in tears over it. She turned to her husband and said something about hoping their kids could be that amazing in ten years.

She spoke about sight – both spiritual and physical. Her friend had recently posted on her blog about her 9 month old baby being diagnosed with blindness. The mom was so positive about the devastating news. She and her husband believed that while their daughter would experience the world differently, her lack of sight would enhance her spiritual senses. Christina (the lady speaking) did a great job of integrating spiritual sight with her friend’s story. It was a powerful lesson. While she spoke she often referred to the youth speakers and points they had made in their own talks.

Then her husband got up to speak. He addressed the congregation in a very personal and powerful way. It was quite amazing to listen to him. The Spirit was very strong. He first complimented the youth in our ward for their faithfulness. He said that it is extraordinary to realize that the teenagers in the church will study an ancient gospel and be able to teach it to a group of 100-150 people, most of them strangers. “That is definitely the case for Gavin since his family just moved here!” His words regarding the youth, accompanied by the Spirit, gave me goosebumps.

He went on to talk to the parents, particularly the moms. It was a pep talk to keep doing what they were doing. To keep getting their kids to church each Sunday even though it’s hard. His words were heartfelt and inspiring. I thought of all the times I spent more time in the hall with a fussy baby than I did in class. It’s a difficult position to be in. So many times I wondered why I even bothered dressing up for church to spend all my time in the hall.

At the end of the day I was able to talk to Christina. I told her how much I enjoyed the talks that she and her husband gave. She asked my name. I said my first and last name and added on, “I’m Gavin’s mom.” She was so happy to meet me. She said that his talk really touched her. Her four year old was having trouble with nightmares. She liked being able to see into the future with Gavin. As her husband had said in front of the entire congregation, she said she hoped her own children could be just as strong and faithful in ten years. That was a special compliment for me.

Later that evening I received an email from Coach Erika. It was a group email sent to all the Cross Country parents. She mostly was sending encouragement to the students leaving middle school and entering high school.

I meant to let her know all summer that we were moving. I over thought what I would say and ended up feeling like I waited too long. Her email seemed like a great opportunity to tell her that All Good wasn’t going to be on her team anymore. She responded to me right away. As I feared, I had broken her heart. Here is her response.

“Dear Tristan,

I am sadder than I can say. I can’t imagine the coming season without All Good. He will leave a deep hole with his absence, not just in the talent pool (we really needed him to take the title) but in his quiet, steady commitment. He doesn’t say a lot but his presence is always felt.¬†

Worst of all, I didn’t get to say goodbye. Please, please hug him for me. He has steadily improved, always looking forward, always striving to be better. If he likes he can email me or find me on Instagram or Twitter. I’m always handy for a letter of recommendation- and I write a good one.ūüôā

Your son is an amazing person. I hope our paths meet again. I will never forget him. You meet a true soul- it stays with a person.

Completely bummed,

Coach Erika”

There are no words for how I feel. Gavin is my quiet giant. He is a good kid and when I’m not looking, he surprises everyone. The Cross Country program here is supposed to be really good. Coach Erika will always hold a place in our hearts. She was an amazing coach. She didn’t just teach kids how to run. She taught them self confidence and how to be a team.

I have talked to Gavin about starting over here. He has an opportunity to basically reinvent himself. No one knows who he is or what his past has been. I told him to prove to everyone how awesome he is.

Heath just got back from the youth activity with Gavin. Heath was just put in as the Young Men’s second counselor. It was a combined activity with the Young Women. They played water balloon volleyball. It was fun. I guess the best part was how a lot of the girls were crushing big time on Gavin! One girl went up to him, “Hey Gavin … what grade are you going into?” I love it!

He is a good kid. He hasn’t always fit into this world as quickly or as easily as other kids. It really is a Mom Payday to have other people see him the way I do.

Pulpit Preaching

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Heath and I spoke in Sacrament Meeting yesterday. Gavin spoke the Sunday before and I still need to finish writing that story. It was an interesting experience. Gavin’s words had touched people’s hearts. With the short notice we were given, I wasn’t sure … about anything!

We weren’t assigned topics – just to speak on our favorite scripture. That is very open ended! Barry suggested I fire up my computer and print out my last talk. The idea was very tempting. I had such a response to that talk and I loved the beginning of it. It didn’t feel right to do that unless I did it as a last resort.

I tried to mentally put ideas together on a couple different topics. I sat down to type and started over every time. I have never had so much trouble coming up with something to say in a speaking assignment.

Late Friday night Parker was struggling with insomnia again. My poor baby! I feel for him. He is stressed out and life is not normal right now and it all gets in his head so he can’t sleep. The more he can’t sleep the worse it all is. We gave him more advice on things to try to just relax. I reminded him to pray and read his scriptures. I told him he has every right to call upon the comforting power of the Holy Ghost.

It hit me. That was it! That’s what I should talk about. After some more false starts I felt like I settled on an idea. I decided I would do the typical first talk in a ward and introduce my family. I would weave the introduction into a talk. I really did not feel like it was my best idea. My head hurt from thinking so hard and I needed to be done with this assignment. I was just going to do it.

By Sunday morning I was so worried. I have never given a talk that was nothing more than personal stories loosely tied together with my own explanation of gospel principles. I felt like I had put no effort into my words. This was not the first impression I wanted to give. I had a silent prayer in my heart that my words could touch at least one person.

What is the word for humility mixed with embarrassment? That was how I felt. I was completely humbled to learn that a couple had come to church that day after 20 years of inactivity. Apparently the messages that Heath and I shared were exactly what that couple needed to hear. I spoke about peace, the guidance of the Holy Ghost, and trusting the Lord. Heath spoke about overcoming weakness. His talk was so positive and inspiring.

How ironic that I would speak on the topic of the Holy Ghost but not recognize his guidance with my talk! Several people came up to tell me they enjoyed what I said. One man, a visiting father of a ward member, said he appreciated how it was a personal illustration of the gospel in action.

I had no idea. No idea that the Lord needed me to give, what I considered an unconventional talk, in order to reach certain people in the congregation.

The lessons I learned from this experience are:

  1. practice what you preach!
  2. don’t slack on personal study because you never know when you might be called on to quickly come up with a lesson or talk.

I can’t wait to start building bookshelves with Barry and Heath because I need the books out of the boxes. Last week I wanted to tear into the boxes until I found our blog books. It would be a great visual for the lesson we substituting on the topic of family history.

I felt crippled preparing a talk without any of my regular muses. I didn’t have my Seminary scriptures that are all marked up and I know where to find everything. I can’t find things on the Internet or in the scriptures I haven’t marked up! I didn’t have access to my quote book or any of our religious literature. I had to rely on the Spirit to guide me. Next time I should trust it a little more!

Under Doctor’s Orders

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I am under doctor’s orders to post the following picture. It is quite disturbing, just so you know!

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This is earwax from Gavin’s ears. It was removed today at the end of his sports physical. The nurse was quite impressed. She said things like “You have a lot of prehistoric stuff in your ear!” I told her she would need to weigh Gavin again after she removed all the earwax. She couldn’t believe how much was coming out of one side. When she got to the other side she told me he was giving birth¬†from his ears!

Honestly, I was bothered by the earwax coming out. It’s just gross. The doctor came back in to see if daylight was showing all through Gavin’s head after the cleaning. He told me I should take a picture for my social media sites. I was trying not to dry heave when the nurse was removing the dinosaurs. At the same time, I knew the doctor was right. It was an impressive amount of yuck and I may as well spread the nausea. You’re welcome!

It has been kind of fun taking the boys in to the doctor. I love the receptionists and the nurse and the doctor. It’s a great family clinic. I’m so glad that angel on the phone was able to connect me with them. After Gavin’s appointment I got Gwen into the system. She won’t need to be seen until after her birthday. Heath needs to add his name as well.

Gwen was a green eyed jealous monster though. Parker came home with a pad of paper and Gavin came home with a stuffed monkey. She wanted a toy too! She doesn’t seem to get that Parker has seen a doctor twice in one month. The second time he got three shots that left his arms sore and aching. Gavin has seen a doctor twice this year just for permission to keep doing what he loves – running. She has seen a doctor once. It’s just unfortunate that all she got out of the deal was stickers.

The nurse really loved Gavin. She liked Parker too. By the time Gavin came in she was in love with my children. She was cracking up with his responses to the health questions. She just really hit it off with him. It was a fun appointment.

Gavin was cleared to continue to run. Like me, the doctor can’t understand people who run. He said he can ride his bike all day but he hates running. He thinks it’s because you can’t coast and take a break when you run. Very true.

Gavin is 5’7 1/2″ and 110 lbs. A whole inch and a half taller than me! I knew he was taller. I just had no idea he was that much taller! Heath says we should stop feeding him. “He can’t get taller than me!” he said. He probably will. Garrett is taller than Heath. Garrett and Gavin look so much alike it’s crazy.

The doctor said that Gavin is in the 97th percentile for height and the 65th percentile for weight. He is a tall, slim drink of water. The doctor could only assume this is normal growth for Gavin. It is. He takes after his dad. We just keep telling Gavin to enjoy these years when he can eat anything and not gain weight. His metabolism will catch up.

I have turned in Gwen’s registration packet. That was a pain in the neck to fill out by hand! I also filled out one last form. The California DMV wants a change of address form from both Heath and me in order to give us our car titles. I have signed my name so many times in the last few days I could scream. I have filled out so many immunization forms I know the abbreviations as well as any nurse.

Tomorrow I am not touching one more pen. I will not sign my name. I will not drive. Heath keeps telling me that all this craziness will end soon. We have to deal with it because it means we bought a house! Tomorrow I will enjoy this house since I feel like I haven’t even seen it in the last two days. My kids are healthy and pumped full of required drugs. They are now enrolled in school. I may just take a bath tomorrow because I can!

Paperwork

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When I was the Primary secretary I learned that my job was to organize the same information several different ways. This person needs information on boys ages 8-12 while this person wants the same information but only for the girls ages 8-12. This person needs information on children ages 18 months to 3 years. A small number needed information on all children ages 18 months to 12 years.

This is life. Schools operate this way as do medical offices. What bugs me is that I have to fill out form after redundant form rearranging the same information one of a hundred ways (often on the same page) for someone else. As a Primary secretary I willingly rearranged information as needed for people. I was the keeper of the information. That was my job. Why can’t school secretaries and medical receptionists do the same?

Heath was nice enough to fill out school forms for the boys on his computer. I signed everything. We joked about the idiocy of the system. The health nurse wants to know a list of information so she gets her own form. The school needs a master copy of the same information so they get what feels like several forms. Can I type it all once and everyone copies and pastes from there?

I turned in some paperwork to the doctor’s office in person this morning. They wanted to request my medical records from my previous doctor. I liked turning it in in person so I could schedule an appointment for Parker to get his immunizations. I feel bad for the kid. I took all the kids in to the pediatrician before we left. Well not Gavin because it hadn’t been a year yet since he was last seen. Parker couldn’t get his immunizations though because he wasn’t 11 yet. There are a couple shots he needs in order to go to middle school.

They fit him in today. After the appointment I went back to the front desk to ask for a sports physical for Gavin. I debated over how to do this. In the end it seemed easier to just start over with a doctor here rather than try to get his last doctor to mail us the signed forms.¬†Gavin’s appointment is tomorrow morning.

The first receptionist that helped me was teasing the other receptionist because she refused to copy and paste information. I was put into the system last week as a new patient. Parker was put in as a new patient this morning and was seen this afternoon. Gavin was put in the slow way because that receptionist liked doing it all by hand. It didn’t bother me how she chose to put Gavin into the system.

Then she handed me another packet of forms to be filled out for Gavin’s appointment tomorrow. “More paperwork for Mom!” she said. I agreed with that first receptionist. Can’t I just copy and paste? I have filled this out already. The only difference is the patient name and the birthdate. Oh well. I will give the lawyers what they want. These are the hoops we jump through to get what we need. Between school forms and medical forms I have had it with paperwork. I will work on it tonight after I have taken a break.

I am in the office typing this at my desk. That right there is a happy thing. I have had this ability for a few days but just haven’t made the switch yet. My desk is a mess. Too much paperwork. But it is so much easier to type here. I am in my happy place!

Registering the boys for school was easy. I turned in all the paperwork filled out over the weekend. The secretary made a copy of my proof of residency. It was one of the myriad of papers to do with the sale of our home. That was acceptable. One proof of residency is all that is required here. If they wanted a second I would have shown my temporary driver license that I got on Saturday. It also has my home address. More proof that we live in the house we bought!

The counselors will put together the boys’ schedules and if all goes well, they will have their schedules by the end of the month when they go back for Orientation. I saw online that there are Orientation dates. I thought that would be a great time for the boys to learn their way around. I learned today that Orientation is a weird way of saying Registration. What they do on their Orientation day is what we know as Walk Thru Registration. Now I know the words used here.

The secretary told me I can purchase needed items online. This will allow me to skip the line that day giving the boys more time to find their way around the school. We will be doing that. Last Friday I was supposed to pick up Gwen’s registration packet. Instead I got lost on the way home from Jetty Island. So we went to the elementary school today to get the packet.

I will fill it out and turn it in tomorrow. I don’t care that I have time today. Two times to the doctor’s office in one day plus one trip to each school is plenty for one day. Gwen’s registration is easy enough. Just more paperwork with all the same information that I filled out for her boys. The hard part will be doing it by hand. At least the middle school had their forms online.

Gavin will go to the doctor in the morning. We’ll come home in time for lunch. After lunch I will take Gwen with me to the school and maybe she can walk around. Or at least we can find out when she will be assigned a class and I can help her find it before the first day. They are all taking the bus to school. I will never have to make multiple daily trips to schools again! That will be a beautiful thing. I’m so glad because it’s not easy to get out of Gwen’s school. I can’t turn left out of the parking lot. So I have to go the opposite way for a bit before I can turn around to get home.

We still love it here. The weather has been hot which makes it feel like we never left California. Temperatures in the 80’s and 90’s here feel like 100’s in California. It’s a humidity thing. We’re working on an air conditioning deal so next summer will be more comfortable.

The house is still so awesome. Every day we can’t believe we live here! It’s a great house and a great community. We love our neighborhood. The people at church are great. Heath and I subbed in Gavin’s class on Sunday. That was fun. Three out of the four weeks we have gone to church here we have substituted! How crazy is that! It’s okay. We love teaching.

You can always find your way home!

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Time slowed to a crawl. I had a strange out of body experience where I watched myself respond to the question. The words were almost visible. I could faintly see them hanging in the air, a speech bubble of condensation mixed with damnation, as if I could snatch the words back and stuff them down my own throat.

Words cannot be recalled. Time doesn’t really stand still. The words were out there and I had to live with the consequences.

It should have been a fun activity. Most people would have thought so anyway. I am not so adventurous. The activity itself didn’t bother me. It was more the thought of having to drive there that had me scared. I did just move to a new state after all. And driving has never been my favorite.

I hate freeways. Especially Washington freeways that seem to always experience some level of Rush Hour. Over a decade ago I swore I would never use the freeways here. Mostly because I get lost on surface streets in broad daylight. I need to add speed to that scenario?

In one small, three letter word I had sealed my fate. I knew it the moment the word escaped my lips.

She said she would text or email me. After four days I finally found her email address. No cell phone number was listed. I asked if we were still on for Friday. Would I meet her there or could we carpool? The last few words were chosen carefully. Take the bait, I prayed. You know you have an eight passenger van. I am the only minivan driver I know who can only seat seven.

Hook, line, and sinker. She agreed to carpool! The week long gnawing feeling in my heart subsided. She would drive. That was all I needed. Jetty Island is really fun. It has been twelve years since Heath and I went with Baby Gavin. I have always wanted to go back.

Jetty Island was part of our original vacation plans, back when we thought we were only going to visit in July for Grandma Holmes’ birthday party. Then we decided to move here instead. Vacation plans took a raincheck. There were other things to spend our money and time on. No Jetty Island. At least a potential friend was offering her extra tickets to us. How could I say no?

I enjoyed several hours of genuine excitement for the upcoming day trip. One little email in the morning changed everything. A short string of words pulled the carpet from underneath me again. Tears sprang to my eyes as full fledged panic ensued. She had an errand to run afterwards. Could we drive separately? I was ready to bail on the whole thing.

Heath talked me off the ledge. He filled my van with gas and bought me a large Diet Coke from McDonald’s. Encouraging words tried to form into a pep talk. You can do this, he kept saying. He printed the side street directions and programmed Gina GPS with landmarks so she wouldn’t direct me to the freeway. She has this obsession with the freeway and will not give up trying to get her driver there.

It was a mad rush to make a picnic lunch and slap sunscreen on everyone. With my heart in my throat and a constant prayer in my heart, I climbed into the van behind my kids. Gavin was under pressure to be my navigator in case Gina went rogue again. Heath sternly told the kids to help me.

Heath: Your mom does not want to do this! She is doing this for you!
Gavin: We didn’t know that.
Heath: Well, you need to know that she does not want to do this. She is doing it for you since you guys think she doesn’t do anything fun with you.
(this was something Gavin actually said to his grandparents)

Getting there wasn’t a problem. We made good time and Gina confirmed every direction Gavin gave me. My heart calmed after the first turn. I didn’t know where I was going but we were going to get there by golly.

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Everyone had a friend. The boys were all the same age and the girls were only a year apart. The girls struggled at first to make a connection since they have different personalities. In the end they all had fun. It was a great day to play in the water, build sand castles and forts, and hang out on the beach talking in the shade of an umbrella. I was glad I had faced my fears instead of canceling.

Soon it was time to drive home. Ah the drive home. It would be tricky since we didn’t print reverse directions and Gina didn’t have reverse directions programmed. The plan was to follow the paper directions backwards. Only it took Gavin a little while to understand the concept. He kept trying to send me back to the water and I knew that wasn’t right. After turning around a couple of times I finally pulled into a random parking lot to get my bearings.

The thought did cross my mind to figure out how to get to Grandma and Grandpa’s house and go home from there. Go north to go south. In some ways I wished I had done that. It would have been easier. Bravado from my earlier success must have given me false confidence in my abilities to find my way home. How quickly I forget that I can’t find my way out of a paper bag in broad daylight in an area I am familiar with! Let’s just say a 40 minute drive turned into about a 90 minute drive.

Gavin and I were doing well reversing the directions. I was starting to remember landmarks. Soon all three kids were pointing out places they remembered passing the other way that morning. I kept praising them and saying that remembering was good. It meant we were on the right track.

The only time my heart really started pounding was when I was in stop and go traffic and saw a sign that the left lane goes to the freeway. I managed to move over a lane. I creeped about another car length and saw a second sign that said the two left lanes merge directly onto the freeway. Aw cwap! I got over to the right lane and was not excited to have to work my way back to the left after the freeway onramp. I did it though.

Soon I was recognizing that we were nearing home. I was remembering the back roads Heath took when we came home from the mall the first time. I was excited. Gavin told me where to turn and I thought we would be home free. Only that street didn’t seem to ever come up. The same number came up with SW in the name instead of SE. I asked a couple of times and Gavin insisted it was SE. So I didn’t take the turn. I assumed we needed to wait for the numbers to switch from west to east.

It was taking a very long time though. So long on a road I knew wasn’t correct that I finally pulled over to play my final card. Call Heath for help. I love that man. He never makes fun of me or belittles me in any way. When I am lost he finds me on his computer and gives clear and concise directions back to where I need to be.

I told him the name of the street I was on. My first clue that it was the wrong street was that it had a name and not a number! I was hoping the right street would intersect and I could finally turn. He remembered the street from way back when he first moved here as a 15 year old. I had driven so far south I was in the city I always wanted to live in. It’s not far from home but I had gone way too far south. Tears of frustration threatened to spill over.

He asked if I had passed 164th. Yes, that was the last traffic light I went through! He gave me the unbelievably good news that if I got on that street it would turn into the name of the road that goes behind our house. No joke. I was thrilled. For as far out of the way as I had gone, it was an easy fix to get home.

Gina still wanted me to get on the freeway at that intersection. I knew better. I stayed straight. She recalculated and told me the number of miles until I would see home on the right. I doubted for a second when I saw the name of the road I was looking for intersecting the road I was on. But I stayed true. Heath told me I wouldn’t turn or anything until I recognized our neighborhood. Gwen was singing Follow the Father!

The kids were relieved when they recognized the boys bus stop and realized we had turned into our neighborhood. I was relieved too. Somehow by the grace of God I had made it home safely. I was ready to kiss the ground!

I learned that SW and SE weren’t as critical as I thought. If I had turned on that street I would have had an ah-ha moment because I would have recognized where I was. *sigh*

Much like the helicopter tour in Hawaii, Jetty Island was a fun adventure I hope to never have again! Maybe I will be interested in another twelve years. Until then, I will watch my words carefully. If someone invites me on another adventure I think I will be honest. I’m new here. I hate driving and I suffer from anxiety. Not today, maybe tomorrow.

Scripture Olympics

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Our Primary had their annual summer activity this morning. It was Scripture Olympics. They had cute handouts with the Olympic rings for the kids to invite their friends. Gwen invited two of her friends but neither one could make it. I told her the important part was that she tried.

I had to wake up Gwen and Parker this morning. Gwen was easier to wake up. All I had to do was tell her we were leaving for the Primary activity in one hour. Parker was another story. He acted like he didn’t know what I was talking about. The activity has been heavily advertised since we started attending this ward. I know they talked about it in Primary on Sunday because Heath and I were subbing again. This time we stayed for Sharing Time. The week before we went to the special fifth Sunday lesson directed by the Bishop.

Parker stormed around the kitchen getting his breakfast ready. I couldn’t understand what his problem was. I tried telling him his friends would be at the activity. He still didn’t want to go. Heath talked to him and promised a surprise if he didn’t have fun.

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I hung around for moral support until they were ready to start. I had to take this picture. You can see the church building at the bottom and it’s obviously a parking lot. But can you believe the trees? I love the trees here. This is why I wanted to move to the Northwest. Between the trees and how green everything is, Washington is gorgeous! Sometimes I can’t believe I live here.

Barry rode shotgun two weeks ago. Heath was driving his car and I was following behind in Velma. We were driving from his parents house to our new house. Since I don’t do freeways unless I absolutely have to, we were driving along a highway that seemed to run through the middle of the forest. There were so many trees. The freeways are pretty too. You usually can’t see the other side because of the forests in the median.

Barry commented on the trees. I told him that I love how everything is tucked behind the trees. You typically don’t see buildings and rarely do you see a house from the street. It looks so neat and tidy to me. I really love it here!

Back to the Primary activity. Gwen joined the group of kids drawing with sidewalk chalk. Parker stood next to me. He said there were two kids from his class there but he never made a move to say hi. The one kid he wanted to show up didn’t ever come. I was hoping to see the mom since she invited us to Jetty Island with them on Friday. She said she would text me or email me and I haven’t seen anything yet.

The sidewalk chalk kids started out as a small group of young kids. Older girls started to join. I don’t know who came up with the idea but soon we noticed that they had drawn long lines from the curb out to almost the back of the parking lot. They were running races along the lines. Gwen was running too. One of the Primary leaders pointed out that they had come up with their own game. I said that they didn’t need to plan as much!

Eventually they were ready to start. The kids were grouped into four groups. I just told Parker that I wanted him to help the little kids in his group have fun. If he could do that then he would have fun. He agreed.

I had this conversation with Gavin.
Me: Parker isn’t very happy with me.
Gavin: Why not?
Me: Because I made him go to the Primary activity when he didn’t want to. I told him his friends would be there and they aren’t.
Gavin: Well, Eleven year old boys don’t like going to Primary activities, Mom.
Me: I’m starting to notice that!

When I came back¬†Parker admitted he had fun. “Don’t tell Dad! I want to see what the surprise is!” Gwen was licking a blue popsicle with one hand and holding a red balloon creation in the other. She obviously had had fun too.

Primary-Scripture-Olympics

This is most of the kids posing in front of Goliath.

The four activities were:

One: using a slingshot to shoot marshmallows at Goliath.
Two: something about the sword of truth cutting through marshmallows.
Three: throwing balloons at Samuel the Lamanite standing on the wall. Samuel had visited the Primary on Sunday and was there again for the activity.
Four: a tug of war with Moses to part the Red Sea.

Parker said his team won the tug of war and he got a girl his age all wet when she fell into the kiddie pool! He said that when they have tug of war activities in Primary no one teaches any strategy. He learned a lot of great techniques from his PE teacher and apparently they worked really well.

Everyone earned a medal. Gwen and Parker were happy to learn that the medals were chocolate. After Gwen ate hers she was sad because I didn’t want her saving the wrapper. I know. I’m such a killjoy.

It was a really cute activity. I may not make Parker go to anymore though. Gavin is right. The older boys don’t like going to Primary activities.

The Bonding Bonus

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In the beginning Heath and I lived in a one bedroom apartment with no couch. We couch sat for a couple weeks. Those were blissful weeks. The living room looked normal and inviting. It had a full size couch against the back wall flanked by two corduroy rocking chairs.

Then Heath’s friend got married. After they had several receptions and open houses they claimed their furniture. They did leave one of the rocking chairs for us to use. Even then in our skinnier days, it wasn’t very comfortable to cuddle in a rocking chair built for one. Actually, it didn’t work at all. The chair could only accommodate one person at a time. Since we were so in love and never fought (wink), we spent our time on the floor.

I carefully folded blankets the long way and stacked them against the wall where the couch used to be. Those blankets were our makeshift couch for a very long time. We had no money. It was a big deal when we went to D.I. and dropped $40 *gasp* on a secondhand (or fourthhand) couch.

The couch was pink and uncomfortable but it was ours. We felt like human beings for finally owning a couch! Now we feel like productive members of the human race for finally owning a home again.

bonus-room

Blast from the past, we lounge on blankets and body pillows. We popped popcorn – which is not very easy to eat lying down – and watched Tangled. The kids had no problem chilling on the floor. I think I’m getting too old or something. It’s painful to spend much time on the floor. It’s just me though. Heath is in there now watching the Olympics.

We do have a couch on the way. It’s a BYU blue sactional from Love Sac. Football season is less than a month away! We ordered the couch 30 days from BYU’s first game. Here’s hoping it gets here in time. I of course had to special order the fabric because I really didn’t like their standard options. The boring standard stuff would get a couch delivered in two weeks. Since I apparently have expensive taste, our couch won’t be ready for four to six weeks. Just my luck it will be more like six weeks.

It’s okay though. The kids have more space to play their video games. It was really fun to finally watch a movie together as a family with the popcorn we promised to have on our first night here. Plans changed. I can’t wait for our new couch even though I did like bonding on the floor with my family.

refreshing

Just before we prayed and sent kids to bed we paused on this commercial. Parker said, “That looks refreshing!” It kind of does.

It’s not what you know, but who you know

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The parade of boxes seems to be diminishing. I think. Sometimes I think they are reproducing. We have already recycled 54 boxes. I hope by this Friday we can be recycling the rest.

Heath wanted me to organize my desk today after my visit with the Relief Society presidency. The visit was nice and I now have contact info for a hairdresser. That is very important since my silver roots are showing! She was trained by Gene Juarez and used to work there. That is a very posh salon that Heath used to go to back in his single days. Her prices are comparable to what I paid Melanie. Now I just need to find time to book an appointment.

The next item on my to-do list today was to find a doctor. This is the part of moving that always makes me nervous. How do you go about finding doctors and how do you know if they are good? When we moved to CA I was so nervous about finding pediatricians for the boys. I knew I needed a doctor as well. The first doctor I found was an OB/GYN because I realized I was over a month along in my pregnancy. Surprise!

I don’t even know who I called. I think I called the number on the back of my insurance card and told the lady I have Type 1 diabetes and I was pregnant. I needed a perinatologist. She told me that in my area I would have to be referred to one. She hooked me up with a regular doctor who can handle high risk pregnancies. The only time I had to see a perinatologist was when I went to another hospital for ultrasounds and other extra monitoring.

The best part about seeing Dr. Carlson was she was at the hospital almost in my backyard. Pediatrics was across the hall. My endocrinologist was not at the hospital but he was also quite close. When he left a Mini Med rep called and hooked me up with an endocrinologist a short 10 minute freeway drive away. It was easy. After a couple years we switched to Kaiser where all you have to do is give your member ID number and they give you whatever you want. Plus, the office was just on the other side of town.

This time around was not easy. Heath looked online for a doctor. I told him that I wanted an internal medicine doctor if I could get away with it. I hated the endocrinologists in CA. I always loved my internal medicine doctor in UT and I really really miss him. Heath found a woman who practices internal medicine at a clinic nearby.

When I called the number I was told that there was only one doctor who could help me with my diabetes and he was not accepting new patients. I asked about the woman I found online. The answer? She had left the practice a year ago and moved to Florida. What! Update the website! I was annoyed.

So I called the number on the back of my insurance card hoping someone could just find a doctor for me so I wouldn’t have to make a fool of myself again with outdated information. The girl I talked to was not very helpful. She emailed me a list of doctors. I picked one and realized there were like six doctors all with the same phone number. Surely one of them could see me.

Nope. The earliest I could be seen as a walk in patient was October 31. See the problem is I need to order more pump supplies within a week or two. Since we had to change insurance when we moved I probably need a new prescription. Yay. The receptionist suggested I call an endocrinologist and gave me a phone number.

I introduced myself to the woman who answered. She said, “I already talked to you. We only have one doctor here and he is not accepting new patients.” Tell me I didn’t want to swear! Instead I apologized profusely saying someone else had given me that number. Her voice thawed but I still felt stupid.

Near the bottom of the emailed list of doctors, who supposedly fit my needs, was a different phone number. I crossed my fingers and called. The lady there said I didn’t even call a doctor’s office. She tried to explain it and I have no idea what she was talking about. She said something about no one there could even prescribe anything. I had moved from wanting to swear to wanting to cry. My mind was quickly working on the next solution. I thought I could just call Mini Med and explain the situation. My original prescription from Kaiser should still be good. Just give me the pump supplies and no one gets hurt!

The lady on the phone rallied. For whatever reason she didn’t end the call with me left alone and cold in the world to fend for myself. She asked if she could help me find a doctor. Yes please! I was on the phone with her for close to 30 minutes. She first took down my information and proceeded to look for doctors in my area.

“Are you close to this city?” I recognized the city name but really didn’t want to go there. I wasn’t sure how far out it was but I knew it was closer to Seattle than me. I just told her it was close to a city that was kind of close to me. “Are you close to that city?” That one I didn’t recognize at all.

Heath got on another conference call so I went into another room. I told the lady I was very close to two different cities. One she had asked about is literally across the street from me. And that is where she found me a doctor. He is at a family practice clinic less than three miles from me! No joke! It’s not what you know, but who you know. I had finally found my inside woman who was willing to help me do what I couldn’t manage to do for myself.

Not only did she find the doctor but she set up the appointment for me. Tomorrow at 1:30. I still feel stunned. At this point I don’t care if I like this guy. I do care that he will see how out of control my blood sugars are but that was inevitable. Really, all I want is the ability to order more pump supplies. I have 16 infusion sets left. The clock is ticking. I was hoping to get more than one extra box with my new pump. At least I got that one extra box though. It got me through the move. The timing of my pump supplies didn’t work out as well as the timing on all my other prescriptions.

I rewarded myself with a Diet Coke and started organizing the office. It looks much better. We’re not finished yet but my chair is unwrapped. Heath started working on my wide width monitor. Maybe by tomorrow I can sit at my desk blogging the way I like to. I did find my mouse today which helps when I have to use my Surface like a laptop!

The Ambassador

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“She is going to be your ambassador. She will open doors for everyone.”

I have to laugh at how true these statements have become. Our Little Miss is no longer little. She is on a mission to befriend the world.

The first night we got here we changed our evening plans so Gwen could go to Activity Days with Grandma. Her big Disney princess eyes grew in size as she explained, “It’s a good opportunity for me to make friends.” Why yes it is. Friends with girls you will never see again because they are in Grandma’s ward. That was the only weird part about it. Gwen had a blast.

Where we came from, Activity Days wrapped up with the end of school. Cub Scouts was the same way. Most activities came to a screeching halt in the summer resuming again a week or two after school started back up. I don’t know that I have ever known any church activity leadership positions to have a scheduled break like that. Then again, I have never before lived in a place where the entire city empties every summer. You can set your clock by it.

Tuesday morning Heath missed a phone call. The message was from a lady saying that there was an Activity Day Camp and Gwen was invited. The camp was Tuesday and Wednesday from 9-3 at the Stake Center. The girls needed a sack lunch.

It was up to me whether or not Gwen could go. I had to drive her there since Heath had conference calls all day. I didn’t even feel nervous. I just knew I couldn’t live with myself if I let my fears stand in the way of her making friends with girls in the stake. So I got my bearings by looking at a map and I listened to Gina GPS’s instructions. With the late notice, I got Gwen there about two hours late.

We made it a family affair to pick up Gwen that afternoon. Costco was on the way home. Even though it is very close to where we live I am not interested in going there on my own anytime soon. It’s still Costco! For as much fun as Gwen had, she kept obsessing over the time. She wanted to get home to play with a friend in our neighborhood.

On Monday Gwen came home and asked if she could play at Victoria’s house.
Gwen: Her parents know about it!
Me: Which one is Victoria?
Gwen: She lives by the mailboxes.
Me: In which house? How will I know where to find you?
Gwen: I don’t remember but her parents know about it. Can I go?

I looked at the clock. We were planning on leaving in about 30 minutes for Melina’s birthday party. I told Gwen she would have to play with Victoria another time. And maybe she better figure out the house number! Gwen scootered up the street to deliver the message to Victoria. Apparently they came up with some plan to play on Tuesday. Gwen was invited to show up at Victoria’s house after 1:00. The day camp messed up the plans a little bit.

Gwen could not wait to get outside to play after Costco! We made her wait to have dinner first. You would think we had cut off her oxygen supply. She was sure she was missing out on something.

Heath took Gavin to Scouts and Gwen seemed content inside. At 8:30 pm she heard kids playing outside. She looked out the window to confirm what she heard. I became the Wicked Witch of the West again when I told her it was too late to go out to play. Heath and Gavin got home about that point and Heath agreed with me. It was a timing issue. If she had asked to go out after dinner I would have been fine with it. But asking to go out half an hour before I wanted kids to get ready for bed pushed my buttons.

The Activity Day Camp was fun for Gwen. She was excited to go again on Wednesday but she was worried about what she might miss in the neighborhood. I worry about that girl. Already she has that disorder where she can hardly do anything for fear of missing out on something else!

A performance was planned for Wednesday afternoon at 3:00. Heath thought he could make it but ended up on the phone again when I needed to leave. I represented our family.

Activity-Day-Camp

The performance was fun. Gwen is the third girl from the left. The girls had been learning about Asian culture for two days. They did a Japanese dance and sang a song from Korea. They also sang a sweet song about how we are all connected in the world and how Heavenly Father and Jesus love all of us.

The lady in charge was in tears after the last song. She said she hoped the girls felt the Spirit as they had fun at camp. I think they did. The lady had started the performance by giving gifts to everyone involved. Several Young Women had also helped throughout the two days. I thought that was really cool. You could see the younger girls looking up to the Young Women.

Activity Days is a fairly new thing for me. I went to Merry Miss activities as I was about to age out of Primary. I imagine Activity Days is to help the girls understand that they are daughters of God. That concept continues when they enter the Young Women’s program. I looked at those Young Women who helped and I think what a unique way to serve. They volunteered their time and learned firsthand what a difference they can make. I¬†was impressed with the camp.

I know it was a meaningful experience for Gwen. There is a Primary activity next week. My little ambassador will probably invite neighborhood girls. I love how easily she makes friends. I hope she can be a good leader and not bow to every whim of the masses. She puts a lot of stock into what others think of her.

I look at Gwen and Parker and their unique social gifts. The untapped potential to be a positive influence on the world is mind blowing. They will open doors. They will make the world a better place. One friend at a time. I have no doubt.

New House Upstairs

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stairs

The stairs wrap around and I couldn’t figure out how to best photograph it. When the guys were carrying the washer and dryer up they said, “Oh you have the fun stairs!” I think they were being sarcastic. Other than trying to squeeze a mattress and washer and dryer up the stairs, I love them. I told Heath that pretty stairs were on my must have list. There is a fun curve to the stairs at the bottom in the living room which I like too.

We put the electric keyboard at the top of the stairs because it doesn’t seem to fit anywhere else. I don’t mind it there. Natalie teaches piano and I’m hoping she will be willing to take on three new students.

bonus.jpg

This is the bonus room. Right now it’s full of boxes. There are 17 book boxes waiting for us to make built in shelves on the wall shared between the bonus room and master. Behind all the boxes is where we plan to put a TV on the wall for movies, video games, and of course football games. Along the side of the wall parallel to the door is where we want to put a foosball table.

master-bedroom

Next to the bonus room is the master bedroom. It has a fun ceiling detail and double doors. Ever since I saw Curly Sue I have dreamed of having double doors open into a bedroom. The bonus room also has double doors.

mb1

So does the master bathroom!

mb2

I love this bathroom. The tub keeps calling my name and I don’t necessarily like baths. Our next door neighbor Angie said that she loves our bathroom too. She watched it go in as the house was being built. “You know I can see inside your bathroom right?” She was concerned we would give into the tempting tub and leave the blinds wide open. I want to put privacy film on this window too.

Actually, I’m feeling quite exposed with our bedroom in the front of the house. I have always had my room in the back. I like to leave windows open at night to let in a cool breeze. It will take some getting used to being in the front and having a side window in the bathroom that our next door neighbor can see into. The neighbors can all see into each other’s houses. It was a funny conversation. I wonder if home builders even consider window placement. Especially in a tightly spaced neighborhood like the one we now live in.

water-closet

Heath was happy to learn that the bathroom plans included a water closet. I have never seen a point to having the toilet in its own room. It’s growing on me. It helps that it isn’t impossibly tight.

master-closet

This is the master closet. I ran out of hangers and steam for the project of putting away all our clothes. I think the kids finally have all their clothes put away. Splitting the boys into two rooms has changed our hanger needs. We need a lot more now.

laundry

Upstairs laundry. Another dream of mine.

kid-sink

Gwen and Parker share a bathroom.

Kid-bathroom

With the tub and toilet in a separate room. We need to find the outer shower curtain. Grandma and Grandpa came over last night to help with a couple projects like setting up the boys beds since we finally found where the loaders hid the hardware! and putting up the curved shower rod.

Gwen-room

Gwen creates at her desk in her room. She was so excited to unpack that she ignored all our repeated advice to work with one box at a time. The boys had one or two boxes each for their bedrooms. Gwen had five or more. She opened everything at once! It has been a battle ever since. Until Grandma finally took the time to sit in there to direct Gwen’s efforts.

Today Gwen cleaned her room of her own free will and asked if she could go out to play. She put her dishes in the dishwasher after we had our first home cooked meal. That earned her a cookie that her boys did not get to enjoy since they didn’t follow directions. She wore her watch to keep track of time while she played outside this evening. She came home on time soaked from running through the sprinklers with friends and asked if she could keep playing another half hour! At least she asked. She has shown a lot more maturity today and we really appreciated it.

Parker-room

Parker’s room. This boy is loving having his own room. It’s really fun to watch him enjoy his newfound independence.

Parker-lovies

All his lovies are lined up along one whole wall. I think everyone is glad they aren’t taking over his bed anymore. We found Paul the Penguin today. Parker was so happy to have all his stuffed friends back.

hall

This is a good shot of the intersecting hallways. There are two linen closets in the halls and one in the master bathroom. I actually got lost a couple of times. Gwen’s room is in the back corner of the house. After going down the hallway to the main hallway I had no idea where the stairs were. I had to walk past the laundry room before I finally found them! My mom used to say she wished she had a house big enough to hide from us when she needed a break. I just get lost in my house.

Heath-desk

Heath and I keep having unpacking ADD. We finally put the office into shape enough that he can work in it on Monday. That’s important.

Tristan-desk

My desk survived the move. It looks like it’s been at war with colors but it has survived. I don’t know what my grandpa would say but I can almost hear him making some sort of comment about the state of those poor kitchen cabinets we turned into a desk.

backyard

Last space is the backyard. The yard is tiny which is why we will turn it into a pavers paradise. The idea is to make a nice outdoor living space in the spring after we get our tax return. My outdoor furniture seems so lonely and sad. I don’t have time to sit out there right now. My house is a mess.

rabbit

Maybe Peter Rabbit will throw a raging party with all his woodland creature friends and enjoy the “patio” as it is now. Can you believe we had a rabbit in our backyard? We may have left the raccoons and foxes in California but there is still fun wildlife here too.

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