Saturday, October 12, 2013

Leaving On A Jet Plane

Getting up with an alarm for the past three weeks has turned me into a waking-up-at-5:40 person now and I am really annoyed!  It seems such a waste to wake up so early on a day that you can sleep in until 8!  Carson also woke up around the same time but he seemed pretty cheerful about it.  I guess I should learn to be more cheerful like him.

We took Jared to receive his Partriarchal Blessing this morning.  We have been blessed to be able to go with four of our children as they received them and it has been amazing to me to see how the needs and concerns of each of our children and even the concerns of their parents have been addressed in their blessing.  They are each unique and wonderful.  Heavenly Father has big plans for each of them and I am honored to be their mom!

Gary worked a little on his honey-do list.  Part of our closet shelves were falling down and taking the drywall with them so he decided to fix that.  He's pretty proud of himself and has pulled a muscle patting himself on the back.  I am pleased that I don't have to worry about being crushed by closet shelves.  I helped out by taking a nap except for lending my hands to push one of the board against the wall while he lifted it.  It was a very important job!!

While I was napping one of our children decided to head off to college.  Carson is college bound and he has the badge to prove it.  Here are Carson's tips for getting ready for college:

Step 1:  Get yourself a college bound pin to wear:

Step 2:  Pack your suitcase:

Step 3:  Assure your mom that you have your backpack and jacket:

Step 4:  Make sure you have your shoes on:

Step 5:  Pose for a million pictures (or three):

Step 6:  Don't forget your suit coat (and make sure your belly is showing a bit):

Step 7:  Don't forget your soccer ball:

Step 8:  Text your sister a picture of yourself so she knows who to look for at the airport:

Step 8:  Wait forever for your parents to take you to the airport.  Get really mad at them and say "I NEED TO GO TO COLLEGE!!"  Give up because they won't take you to the airport, change into your CTR Superman shirt, and play some sad sounding melody on the keyboard.

Carson thinks it is really hard to get good help these days!!


Friday, October 11, 2013

It's My Party And I'll Clean If I Want To!

I have no reason to write Gary a letter since he is coming home today but I have enjoyed keeping track of my days so I'm going to keep doing it until I start to not enjoy it or get busy or lazy.

Carson came down this morning right after the big kids left for church.  He staggered into my room and face-planted on the bed.  He fell back to sleep before he'd even gotten his feet on the bed and even slept through the alarm.  I bribed him with a chocolate breakfast drink to get him to wake up. 

I usually make him an egg breakfast taco but at his ARD meeting yesterday I found out that he is eating breakfast at home, then eating breakfast as soon as he gets to school, having a snack at 10 and lunch at noon!!  How does he eat that much food?  We decided we should probably skip the breakfast at home and just let him eat at school since he likes eating with his friends.

Emily came in this morning and asked me how I liked her outfit.  She had on a skirt I had never seen before so I asked her if it was new.  She said she got it awhile back but it was too long so she hemmed it.  I was kind of shocked by that.  She had cut and hemmed it this morning before school and after seminary!!  It takes me months to get the courage to try to fix something, another month to finally pull out the sewing machine, lots of time deciding how short or long to make it, hours to iron it before I sew it and then I usually hate it when I'm finished.  She just whipped that up in less than an hour!!  I guess that's the difference between a perfectionist and a free spirit.  I didn't even know she knew how to use a sewing machine without help.  I told her I was flabbergasted with how good it looked!  I might hire her as my personal seamstress.

Today is Jared's birthday.  My third 17 year old!  How in the world did that happen?!  It seems like just yesterday, I was being pressured by the anesthesiologist to get an epidural.  I didn't because I made the mistake of reading the risks of having an epidural and just didn't feel like I should have one.  It was all going perfectly fine until they told me to push and *OUCH!!* and then I changed my mind and decided to not have a baby.  Since he is celebrating his birthday today, obviously my plan did not work.  He was so mad to be pushed into this world.  That kid kicked and screamed for the longest time.  All of my other babies cried for a minute or two and then were happy to be held by their mom but not Jared!!  He claims that he was trying to say "just a minute" when he was told it was time to come because he had something else to do which wouldn't surprise me considering I spend a lot of my time waiting for him.  He's a good kid though.  We'll keep him!  Happy Birthday to Jared.  Your family loves you!!

Gary is back home so all is right in Carson's world.  Gary got quite the homecoming from him.  Carson has a way of making you feel like you are the most important person in the world when you walk through the front door whether you've been gone for a week or a couple of hours.  He's such a cute kid!!  My homecoming for Gary was "Oh good!  You're home!  Come on, we need to take dinner to someone."  Pretty romantic, don't you think?  I did save him some so he could eat too but we had to wait until we got back home.

Now we are looking forward to a nice weekend of organizing and cleaning.  Do we know how to party or what?!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

No Police Raid Today

Dear Gary,

This morning my door opened at 4 and this most pitiful of voices said "Mommy....I scared!"  Carson climbed into bed with me and we both fell fast asleep.  When the alarm went off at 5:40, I thought for sure he would wake up but he didn't.  I guess it was my turn to be the parent and make sure the kids didn't miss their ride, see them off and lock the door.  That's only fair, I suppose, since he has done it the last few days.  When the 6:30 alarm went off, I was even more surprised that he slept in!  He must have been worn out from his busy day yesterday. 

As he was drinking his chocolate milk, I went and picked out some clothes for him.  He has gone through most of his favorite shorts (basketball) this week so the only things left were the shorts that he isn't really fond of wearing.  I picked out two and let him choose his favorite.  Oh my goodness!!  I have found the secret to successful negotiations with an 11 year old boy with Down Syndrome!!  If I had just chosen the gray pair for him, he would have thrown himself on the floor in despair.  If I had just chosen the denim pair for him, there would have been weeping and wailing.  Holding up two pairs and saying "which one would you like to wear, the gray or the denim"?  Well, he chose the gray and I said that was a great choice and he said "Yay!!" and got dressed!!  It was a magical moment and I was able to avoid the awkward choice of the basketball shorts with the hole in the backside.  I should probably just get rid of those, huh?

Carson chose for me to say family prayer this morning.  As I was praying, Heavenly Father allowed for me to see, for a very brief moment, all of my blessings.  I saw the blessing of having a little boy with Down Syndrome that wakes up cheerful and forgives easily.  I saw the blessing of having teenagers that willingly get up early to go to church every morning.  I saw the blessing of having two kids at college that are doing so well.  I saw the blessing of having a husband that works hard to provide for us so that I can stay home with these kids.  I saw the blessings of having an eternal family.  I was so overwhelmed with my blessings that I couldn't say the words to the prayer.  Luckily, it was just Carson and me....otherwise, the teenagers would have said "Geez're getting to be as bad as Dad!!"  I was grateful to feel that love from my Heavenly Father. 

As I was driving to our house after taking the kids to school, I passed two Oviedo Round Rock police officers.  I'll just pause from this riveting story to say...isn't it funny that in my head I still think I am living in Oviedo even though I haven't lived there in over 9 years?  Talk about living in the past!!  Anyway...back to the police.  As I passed them, I couldn't help but wonder why they were just sitting there on our street.  I started to think about what would happen if they were doing a police raid on all the houses in the neighborhood.  Then I thought about how our house looked right that minute.  We would probably be one of those news story where they would say something like "the 3 children were living in filthy conditions so we had to take them into protective custody until we can get the Hoarders team out to remedy the situation."  So...I ran in quickly and started cleaning the kitchen that hadn't been cleaned the day before.  The good news....there wasn't a police raid and the kitchen is clean.  I even cleaned out the microwave (I now have a firm testimony of covering the food before turning on the microwave) and the grease stains off the stovetop.  The bad news....your wife is crazy.  A loon.  You really should have been more thoughtful when you chose an eternal companion!

I went to Carson's ARD meeting today.  Usually it's you and me against the ARD committee but as you know I had to go solo since you abandoned me are in training in Houston.  I really hate those meetings and usually sit there thinking "What was God thinking when he sent this special boy to 2 of the most unorganized, non-combative people with no training in education...special or otherwise on this planet?"  I feel woefully unqualified for the job and never know what questions I should be asking.  They tell me his goals and I don't know what they are talking about and just hope that they know what they are doing.  I am supposed to be an advocate for this child?  Luckily, it went well and they all love Carson and think he's cutest.  They have good goals for him and some ideas for us to work on at home.  Phew!!  All that worry for nothing!  Then they started talking about preparing him for the transition to middle school next year.  Time to start worrying again!!

They sent Carson off on the bus while I was still in the meeting.  They were teasing me and said that I had checked the box that said it was okay to leave Carson at home alone so the bus driver would just drop him off.  Just so you know...I did not check that box!  Then they called the bus and had them bring Carson back to the school.  He seemed pretty excited to go on an adventure but was excited when he walked in the room and found me.  "Hi Mom-mom!"  I love when he calls me "Mom-mom"!

Emily and her friends went to the freshman football game tonight and Jared is at band practice so Carson and I are hanging out at home enjoying these:

Carson's best friend, Penny, brought these over.  You are just missing out on all of the goodies this week!  Emily came home from school and said "Whoa, Mom....You cleaned the kitchen!!"  As your dad would say "she sure is a cheeky little devil, isn't she?!"
Well, I think that's about all.  I am hoping for a quiet night where we all go to bed by 8:00.  I'm sure it will happen.  We love you and are excited to see you tomorrow.


When my sister and I were teenagers, we were asked to sing at a special church service.  The General Young Women's President, Sister Ardeth Greene Kapp was speaking and Lori and I both had solo parts in a song sung by a choir that we were part of.  That was back when I had a little bit of self confidence...I would never, ever, ever sing a solo now.  Before the meeting began, Sister Kapp met with the choir and wanted to know each of our names.

Later, as she was speaking, she asked that one of the choir members come forward and called Lori by name.  Anyone that knows my sister would not be surprised by that.  She just always radiated this special light.  Her friends jokingly said that people would get trapped in her aura.  So Lori went up to the front of this giant congregation of youth to stand next to this famous person from Utah.  Sister Kapp asked her if she had a best friend in the audience.  Lori said she did and Sister Kapp asked her what her friend's name was.  To my surprise, she said Shanon.  So Sister Kapp called me up to the stand.  I remember Sister Kapp being surprised to know that her best friend was also her sister.  I don't remember why she called Lori and I to the pulpit that day but I do remember feeling honored to be my little sister's best friend. 

October is breast cancer awareness month and I have been seeing all of the pink everywhere and the public service messages about breast cancer.  I watched this video this morning.  Barb was 28 years old when she found a lump in her breast.  She was diagnosed in October 2011.  Barb and her husband Brig made this video in December, shortly after Barb began her first chemo treatment. 

This brought back a memory of my sister.  Lori had long hair.  As she nursed her first baby, he would gently grab hold of her hair and run his fingers through it.  It became his security blanket of sorts.  When Lori was diagnosed with breast cancer a few months after her second baby was born, she found out that she would have to have chemo and radiation along with a double mastectomy.  When her hair started falling out, her, her husband, and little boy went out to the yard and he started cutting her hair as she sat there and cried.  Her son got upset at his daddy for cutting her hair and making his mom cry.  They saved her braided pony tail and he carried around his mom's hair for quite awhile after that.
The only thing about that video that kind of bothers me is the title because sometimes the brave don't have a future.  My sister was certainly brave.  She endured her trial and she endured it WELL! 
I can't decide how I feel about fundraising for breast cancer.  Part of me feels like there is a lot of funds raised that aren't used appropriately.  Part of me thinks that with as much money raised, there should be a cure by now.  Part of me is hopeful that one day there will be a cure.  I do like, however, that October is a month to celebrate the people that have been affected by cancer...those who have survived, those who fought a good fight but had to leave their families and friends sooner than any of them would have liked and those who live in honor of their loved ones that have gone.
So this day, as every other day, I celebrate my sister and cherish the memories I have of her.  I hope to be as brave and courageous to endure my trials as she was with hers.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I've Always Wanted To Live In England

Dear Gary,

Do you remember our family meeting where I said something like Jared and Emily have really been getting along well lately?  Well, they have made a valiant effort to prove me wrong today.  I won't go into all the details except to tell you that there was biting and punching involved...out in front of people...who aren't our family.  It looked something like this only with real people who are our children.  We should probably leave the country.

This morning started off just like the last few.  Carson's internal alarm clock woke him up just as I got to the top of the stairs to wake up the fighters for seminary.  He really wanted to go into Emily's room to give her a hug but luckily Emily told him she would give him one downstairs or else he would still be lost in the clutter that is her room. 

He made sure they didn't miss their ride but then he came and crashed in our bed.  It's Wednesday...I can tell we are starting to lose our momentum from the weekend and now we are just plain tired.  Here are a few pics to show you how rough it was this morning.

The chocolate milk perked him right up and he got ready.  As we were sitting on the stairs, tying his shoes he pointed to my painted toenails with a smile on his face.  I asked him if he liked the red and he nodded, then he planted a nice, juicy kiss right on my cheek.  I didn't realize that all I had to do to get a kiss from my cute boy was to paint my toenails!  He left before Emily and Jared got home so he only got the mom goodbye. 
I spent the day rearranging stuff.  I'm not going to tell you what I am'll just have to be surprised.  I also learned the secret to making a pretty green smoothie.  Remember how I was wondering how people made smoothies that weren't a brownish color.  Well today, I learned how.  You use frozen peaches, a banana, a couple handfuls of power greens and a scoop of yogurt.  It wasn't bad either....for a smoothie with no extra sugar.  I think it would taste really yummy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream but that might be defeating the purpose of drinking a healthy smoothie.  Isn't it just lovely?! 
Tonight we had scouts and youth night.  Carson was so thrilled to find out it was finally the day to go to scouts that he jumped off the bus without even a thought to where Dad was.  Don't worry, though, he still misses you and wishes that you would come home already!!  Carson didn't want to leave scouts tonight and decided the best way to prevent that was to drop to the floor and go limp.  I love it when he does that.  Especially when there is a big crowd of people around to watch how I am going to get this limp kid out to the car. 
I really think we are going to have to leave the country!!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Trials of Being a Trooper's Daughter

Dear Gary,

The tides have shifted.  I managed to fall asleep before midnight (mere minutes before but I'm counting it as a victory) and Carson slept in until 5:45 again.  If only I had been able to sleep in past 4am....yawn.

Carson saw the kids off again this morning.  He's so cheerful and pleasant in the morning and his chatter prevented them from falling asleep while waiting for their ride.  I am sure they were grateful for that.  He made sure they got off to seminary like a good parent would....I stayed in bed because many parents do you need to make sure they don't miss their ride?  One....I say, and since he was willing to do it (although not technically a parent), I let him.  After they left, he came into my room with a smile on his face and his green and red Power Rangers.  Our conversation went like this:

Carson:  Where's Dad?
Me:  In Houston.
Carson:  Why?
Me:  Why not?
Carson:  (in a mocking voice) Why not?!
**10 seconds later**
Carson:  Where's Dad?
Me:  In Houston.
Carson:  Why?
Me:  Why not?
Carson: (mocking me again) Why not?!

I decided to check my emails and FB and he saw the picture I have on my blog and wanted to look at it closer.  I made it big and we had this conversation:  He said "Mommy...gook!  (That's how he says look).  That's me!  Hair....(Then he runs his fingers through his hair and says) handsome....(not boasting...just stating the facts).  I guess when you've got your hair slicked back for family pictures you can't help but be handsome. :)  Just at that moment the alarm went off (wishful thinking, I suppose, to think I would have fallen back to sleep after the kids left for church and needed that alarm) and we had to quit admiring our handsome selves and get ready for school.  Just like yesterday, he was very happy to help and very happy to see Emily and Jared before getting on the bus and the first class send off.

I went back to sleep after Carson got on the bus and jokingly told Jared and Emily that I was too tired to take them to school and they needed to walk.  Jared and Emily are chomping at the bit to be able to drive so they decided that they would drive themselves to school.  I was this close to just giving in and letting them do it but my obedient, law abiding, state trooper daughter self kicked in and I got my lazy behind out of bed and drove them to school.  I hate my obedient, law abiding, state trooper daughter self sometimes!!

Everyone had a great day.  I made Double Chocolate Pumpkin cookies and they were really, really good!!  Too bad you weren't here to enjoy them.  Did I mention that they were really, really good?  Well...since this is supposed to be a love letter, I will tell you that we love you and miss you and are ready for you to come home.  Especially since you are Carson's favorite parent and I am ready for him to start visiting you in the wee hours of the morning!!  Maybe we'll even make more cookies!!



Monday, October 7, 2013

I Think I Need A Pair of Daisy Duke Shorts

Dear Gary,

I couldn't fall asleep last night until after midnight (the axe murderers were really noisy) so I was really hoping that Carson would sleep past 2am and guess what!  He slept in until 5:45!  He came down with Emily and Jared and kept them company while they waited for their ride to church.  I went back to bed because I am the best of mothers.  I heard him walk them to the door, tell them goodbye and then it sounded like he locked the door behind them.  Then he got really quiet.  A few minutes later I got up to check on him because I remembered that sometimes he likes to go out on the front porch and wait for people (and give his mom a heart attack).  I found him sitting in the bathroom completely naked but with his school clothes ready to put on.  Such a responsible kid!!  He was pretty thrilled that I let him wear what he had picked out.  At one point he asked "Where's Daddy?"  I said "In Houston."  He said "Oh!"  That was that.  I think he might be starting to get it.  He was very good about putting his dishes in the sink and rinsing out his cup.

We walked out the door to get him on the bus and decided it was cold enough that he needed a jacket so I ran back inside to get one.  Jared and Emily got home in time to see him off and Emily came running down the street with her arms out wide and blow kisses for Carson.  Jared came walking up with a blanket over his head and stood by the bus to see him off.  I was standing there in my pajamas waving and blowing kisses.  That kid couldn't have gotten a better bon voyage if he had been a soldier going off to war or a missionary going away for a few years!  We must have been quite the sight!  Luckily, it was still kind of dark outside but he was all smiles when the bus drove off.

Emily and Jared came in and Emily asked if she could have a piece of her birthday cake.  Jared told her "no" because her birthday was over and the rest of the cake was for his birthday.  Then they had a fairly long discussion about birthday days/months.  I think they finally decided that it is considered your birthday until the next person's birthday comes up which kind of stinks for you, Chris, and Emily since the three of you have others coming up on the heels of your special day.  After all that though, I think she was able to eat a piece of cake so all was well.

Emily got ready for school really quick and with my keys in hand headed out the door to wait in the car.  I didn't know that is what she had done until I started looking for her so she could empty the dishwasher.  I heard this really loud music outside and thought the neighbors were being kind of inconsiderate but turns out it was our family that was the inconsiderate neighbors because she was out in the car with the radio blaring at full volume.  I'm sure the neighborhood is happy that she shared her music with everyone. 

Do we have a rule about who sits in the front seat?  Jared swears that we have a rule that the oldest one home gets the front seat but Emily says we have never had that rule so it's whoever gets there first.  Last week, Jared got ready really early and was the one out in the car waiting (I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone) so that he could sit in the front but today Emily was ready early and claimed the coveted spot.  I can't remember if we have ever had a rule but Jared always just accepted that Kinsey got the front seat.  I thought it was kind of interesting though that when I dropped Emily off at school and Jared stayed in the car to go to the orthodontist that he didn't want to sit in the front.  Apparently, it is only important for him to sit in the front if it bothers Emily.  Hmmmm.......

It was a seat warmer and heater kind of morning and Emily had both turned on for me when I got in the car.  On the way to school we had this conversation:
Me:  Brrrr......
Jared:  What is the temperature?
Emily:  59 degrees.
Jared:  That is perfect!!
Me:  If you are a polar bear!
They then felt compelled to give me a lesson on the proper temperature that a polar bear is comfortable with.

As I drove over the big overpass to get on Mopac to take Jared to the orthodontist, I couldn't help but think about what it would be like to drive through the side rails and sail off to the road below.  Don't worry...I'm not suicidal...I think I just must have watched too much Dukes of Hazards in my childhood.  Do you ever think that way when you drive over it or is it just me? 

The birds have moved back into the bathroom vents.  They are contributing to my paranoia.  I think my heart may have stopped beating several times today.  It is really quiet in this house when I am the only one home....except when the intruders start making noise and they sound exactly like what I imagine an axe murderer sounds like.  I'm lucky to still be alive to write this.

Carson did not refuse to get off the bus even though you weren't there to greet him.  He was pretty disappointed though that there was no scouts today.  Everyone seemed to have a good day at school. 

Well...I think that's all.  I made a fancy dinner of store-bought pizza for tonight.  I are sad that you are going to miss it, aren't you?  Too bad you have to go out for dinner tonight. :(