Friday, December 28, 2012

Halloween

Halloween was fun this year. Lil' Miss and Mr. M were Cinderella and Prince Charming. These are the only pictures I can find right now. Mr. M used his reverse walker to trunk-or-treat in the church parking lot. 'S' was trying to teach him to say "trick-or-treat" but he would only say "I want a treat". Close enough.



Thursday, December 27, 2012

A moving email from my father



 I opened an email from my father 2 days after Christmas and was so moved by the content that I wanted to share it with as many people as possible! I hope it will fill the hearts of all those who read it as much as it did mine. I honestly feel that these words are examples of Christ like attributes and thoughts. Please, enjoy!

GRIEF


Dave Checketts is not a professionally trained clergyman.  The former chairman of Madison Square Garden and the New York Knicks is currently CEO of Legends Hospitality, the concessions and merchandise company he jointly owns with the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys.  But he’s also a lay minister for the Mormon Church with oversight of ten Mormon congregations in Fairfield County Connecticut, including the one in Newtown.  

On Friday morning Checketts had left his New Canaan Connecticut home and headed to his Park Avenue office to prepare for a weekend business trip to Dallas for Sunday's Cowboys-Steelers game.  He and Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones planned to host a group of new investors. But late morning he got an email about a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.  From his laptop he accessed the church records for Mormon families in Newtown.  Five of them had children that attended the school.  

A series of phone calls confirmed that all of those children were accounted for except one – six-year-old Emily Parker, a first grader.  Suddenly, it wasn't possible to focus on business.  Checketts cleared his calender for the afternoon. 

Robbie and Alyssa Parker had just moved to Connecticut from Ogden, Utah.  Along with Emily, they have daughters ages 2 and 4.  Robbie, a health care professional, worked at Danbury Hospital.  When Checketts reached him there, the facility was on lockdown due to the school shooting.  Robbie was on his way to meet his wife at the fire station in Newtown.   She was there with other parents awaiting word on the children. 

Checketts emailed leaders of Mormon congregations throughout western Connecticut: “Pray for Emily Parker.”  



He also organized a prayer service for that night.  Then he headed back to Connecticut.  He was almost to the Parker’s home when he got word that Emily was among the 20 children who had died.  “I didn’t know what to say,” Checketts said.  “I go back and forth between tears and anger.  It is just hard to comprehend.”

The business trip to Dallas got canceled.  In an email, Checketts notified Jones and the investors. One by one, they expressed condolences and promised prayers. 

When Checketts reached the Parker home, Robbie asked him to lead his family in prayer.  While praying, Checketts felt impressed to say that Robbie would deal with his grief by speaking publicly about the tragedy, and that he would emerge as a powerful voice for compassion and peace.

After the prayer, the family's needs were discussed.  Chief among them was finding a mortician.  But funeral homes in the area were overwhelmed.  Checketts promised to take care of everything, including all burial and funeral expenses.  

He called a funeral home in a nearby town.  Six years earlier Checketts had attended a service there for a young Mormon missionary who was killed by a drunk driver in Argentina.

“I had to go tell that boy’s parents that he wasn’t coming home alive,” Checketts said.  It was the hardest thing he’d ever done as an ecclesiastical leader.  However, that experience had introduced Checketts to an unusually empathetic funeral director. 

Suddenly facing an even harder situation, Checketts reached out to him and asked if he would prepare Emily’s body for burial.  The church, Checketts explained, would cover all the expenses.

“There will be no expenses,” the funeral director said.  

The following day, after authorities released the names of the victims, Parker was the first parent  to speak to the national media.  Without notes or a spokesman, Robbie choked back tears and expressed sympathy for the family of the man who killed 26 people and himself.  "I can't imagine how hard this experience must be for you," he said.

Robbie Parker speaks to the media.

Checketts was moved to tears.“What happened in Newtown is unthinkable,” Checketts said.  “But little children are alive in Christ.  Though the nature of the crime is the essence of evil, our faith tells us that these children burst into the presence of God and are safe in his arms.”  

Grief, while heartbreaking, can also give rise to powerful acts of compassion.  By the time Abraham Lincoln gave his second inaugural address on March 4, 1865, the American Civil War had claimed roughly 750,000 lives, resulting in 37,000 widows and 90,000 orphans.  


Why did God allow such devastation?  It was a question Lincoln had pondered.  Plus, there were many in Washington that wanted to punish the Confederates for all the carnage. Against that backdrop, Lincoln said: 

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.

One month later Lincoln was assassinated.  But those words – with malice toward none – live on.  It reminds me of the story of Kenneth Brown, a U.S. Marine serving in Japan after the atomic bomb.  It was just before Christmas when Brown encountered a Japanese professor of music who introduced himself as a Christian.   He said he had a small children’s choir and asked if they could perform a concert for the American soldiers. 



Brown belonged to a unit of hardened fighters that had spent four years away from home, battling the Japanese from Saipan to Iwo Jima.  The concert took place on Christmas Eve in a bombed out theater.  The closing number was a solo from ‘The Messiah’ by a girl who sung with the conviction of one who knew that Jesus was indeed the Savior of mankind.  The soldiers cried.

Afterward, Brown asked the Japanese music professor: “How did your group manage to survive the bomb?”

“This is only half my group,” he said softly.  

“And what of the families of these?”

“They nearly all lost one or more members.  Some are orphans.”

“What about the soloist?  She must have the soul of an angel the way she sang.”

“Her mother, two of her brothers were taken.  Yes, she did sing well.  I am so proud of her.  She is my daughter.”  

Brown was moved to tears.  “We had caused them the greatest grief,” Brown later wrote.   “Yet we were their Christian brothers and as such they were willing to forget their grief and unite with us in singing ‘Peace on earth, goodwill to all men.’  That day I knew there was a greater power on earth than the atomic bomb.”


Friday, September 7, 2012

A Mother's Struggle

I remember when I was told that Micah had scarring on his brain that was consistent with cerebral palsey (CP). At the time the more important issue was hydrocephalus(excess fluid on the brain). I remember telling S and we sat on the couch looking out the window at nothing. We had heard the term "cerebral palsey" and suspected that it was pretty bad. However, we didn't fully understand what it meant for our baby boy.

Night before 1st surgery
Wide eyed baby boy
The doctors at Primary Children's Medical Center (PCMC) said the scarred area on the brain usually affects the legs but they couldn't tell us what to expect. We called S's father (who teaches special needs kids) and asked him what CP was. We were still confused.  One of the NICU doctors at St. Marks Hospital (where they were born and where Little Miss still was) asked how Mr. M was and I explained about the CP.  He explained that CP is a broad term. He found out more about Mr. M's CP and helped me understand what to expect and that we would have to wait to see how he progressed to know what he could and couldn't do. He then gave me the best advice I have ever been given. He told me that if we treated Mr. M like there was something wrong with him or that he was different, then I would be doing him a great disservice. He would have to work hard to do simple things and it would be hard for us to make him do them. But, if he grew up knowing that he was not exempt from anything (be it hard or not) then he would do anything he ever wanted to do. WOW!!! I didn't realize at the time how hard(as a mother) that would be to do.

Zoo 2012

So, here we are. Over two and half years later and we're faced everyday with things that are hard for him. And we have to make him do them no matter how frustrated he is or how much he's crying. S is great at it! Me? I struggle! I know it's best to push him and make him learn, but it SO heart-breaking and I just want to do it for him. If I could take it away for him I would! Doing the hard things for him is as close as I can get to taking it away. I have to stop myself and try and picture the self-sufficient grown man that WILL do anything he wants to. Some people might think I'm a mean mom when I'm telling him he has to do it, or he has to figure it out. But I know I'm doing the right thing. He has to work hard!

The most difficult times for me so far are; he didn't say "mama" until he was 2 years old. He didn't sit up on his own until after he was one year old.  He never held his own bottle. He couldn't communicate to us what he wanted/needed. When he's playing by himself because he can't keep up with the other kids. When he had some bad falls out of his reverse walker and wouldn't get back in because he was too afraid. When I have to send him in every three to four months to have painful injections into his tightest muscles to help release some of the tone(tightness). When he fell out of the car, face first, into gravel while he was trying to climb into his car seat. The first time some kids made fun of him.  And the two hardest things I've had to do so far are 1. Hand over my beautiful, sleeping baby boy to a stranger who was going to remove the front of his skull, re-shape it and the put it back on, and 2. walk up to a hospital bed after said surgery, and not recognize the sleeping baby there but know that it's my son because he has the blanket I sent him into surgery with laid on top of him.
Playing by himself.
Battle wounds from falling out of the car onto gravel.

The happiest times for me so far are; when he said "mama". the first time he sat up by himself, when he started using sign language to communicate with us. the first time he swung on a "regular" swing. when I watch him playing when he doesn't know I'm watching. When he said "bye-bye" and waved for the first time. the first time he did the actions to a fun songs. the first time he folded his arms.  when he cuddles up in my arms. his first prayer. when he's running away from me down a handicap ramp in his walk and giggling hysterically. when he took his first independent steps. when his stood up on his own, when he wakes up EVERY morning with an ear to ear smile and makes me feel like the most important person he knows.

Fell asleep in swing
There are far more happy times than sad times. The sad times just stand out more because I want so much for him. I might not have noticed all the things Mr. M didn't do if he didn't have Little Miss as his twin sister. I wouldn't have it any other way though. She challenges him and motivates him. She encourages, watches over, and treats him like he's any other person. For example, one evening after dinner Little Miss was running around the kitchen like a crazy person. Micah was sitting in the middle of the floor just laughing and giggling when she would run by or around him. When all of a sudden she stopped and turned to Mr. M and said "Micah, come run with me". She hadn't even noticed that he didn't get up and run around with her. I sat awestruck and touched at her innocence. He was just like any other kid to her. And she loved him no matter what.

Tired guy! Camping 2012
The first time Mr. M was teased was a particularly hard time for me. He didn't even notice that people we teasing him. We came home and while they were napping I called S and told him about it. I was feeling a little upset about it still so decided to call my mom. She wasn't home. I ended up chatting with my dad about it and told him "it's way harder for me then it is for him. He doesn't mind playing by himself. He doesn't see the kids teasing him. He's fine." My dad shared a theory that he had heard. He prefaced by saying, "This may or may not be true, but it's nice to think about it this way." He once heard a story that kids who come to earth and have "disabilites" like Mr. M and Mr. N(my nephew who is also disabled) were in the war in heaven, just like the rest of us, but they were injured. God knew things would be hard for them so he gave them special things to help them make it through our life here. For Mr. M it was; the ability to not see or be hurt by teasing, the be able to play well by himself, determination, drive, and a happy disposition. It really is nice to think of it that way whether it be true or not.
One thing I do know is that our Heavenly Father honestly does love us and helps us (when we allow him to) and blesses us.  I believe he sent Mr. M and Litle Miss together because they would rely on each other. It's not always him relying on her. There are times that she needs him just as much as he needs her. They challenge each other and teach each other. I think that as they grown they will find strengths in one another that they themselves don't posses and share it with each other.

Sibling fun in the back yard.

Are things hard for us because Mr. M has CP? Without a doubt! But it's those hard times that pull us up by our boot straps and strengthens us as a family and carries us closer to our Father in Heaven. I'm thankful for my challenges because they have shaped me into who I am now. I know the Lord will continue to bless us with trials and good times but it's because of both the good and the bad that we will be the kind of family and people that will be strong enough to endure to the end.




Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Camping 2012

 We had planned to go up to Seattle for a week to spread my Grandmother's ashes in August but it didn't work out with all of the family. So, we decided to do a couple days of camping and a couples days of Stay-cation at home. We borrowed my parents truck and pop up trailer and headed up Big Cottonwood Canyon. It hit me on the way up there that we are so blessed to be 15 min from the canyon that we can just take a little drive and be up in nature. I never realized how awesome that was until one of Micah's therapist who moved here from Texas told me that that is the reason they moved to Utah. So, a 30-40 min drive and we're there! M-boy got sick as we were driving around looking for the perfect spot. Poor guy. While we were setting up the pop-up the kids were playing in the cab of the truck. The window happened to be down and little miss M found herself in a scary position and of course me, being the stellar mother that I am, grabbed the camera before I saved her.
 This year for the 4th and 24th of July we had fun fireworks and so little miss M kept saying, "Daddy making a fireworks" I think she kept waiting for the explosion and shooting lights but it never came. She was thoroughly confused. 
 Do you have any idea how hard it is to get two two year old's to look at the camera and smile...at the same time? This is the best I got. I have no idea what little miss is doing but this really is the best shot.
 Little miss is determined to be a big helper so she was very sure that you always needed her help.
 My M-boy is such a sweetheart. He's almost always up for a cuddle. I just love it.
 We spent some time inside playing games and working on some occupational therapy with Mr M to help him use his right hand. He's getting so much better. We also had a few rodent friends that figured out how to get into the trailer so they had fun seeing them scurry away when we ran after them with a broom.
 S is very tech-y so we had the laptop, and the tablet to watch movies on and play games even though we were camping. One morning after breakfast it was kind of nice for us to all snuggle and watch "A Bee Movie" on the lap top. The kids thought it was fun.
 Whenever the kids are naughty we make them look at us. We used to point at our faces to get them to look. Now, whenever I tell Miss M to look at me, whether she's in trouble or not she points to her chin and turns to look at us. I have a feeling we are going to have a lot of pictures like this...
 Mr M has really gotten into cars lately. He loves to have at least one at all times. A lot of times I find him crawling/scooching around the house with one in each hand and one in his mouth. He has some sensory issues that we're working on so for him to have something in his mouth is not uncommon. Because he doesn't walk on his own he was almost always covered in dirt, rocks, and wood chips. I found that harder for me than I would have thought. I was always trying to watch their hand or dust off their clothes and it was an endless battle that I found I couldn't win.
 Just a few camp grounds away was a little creek. It was beautiful and VERY COLD. The twins enjoyed throwing rock into the water and climbing over rocks and trees.
 This is a miracle to have such a cute picture of her especially with her looking normal and smiling. Ever since she was a baby whenever someone would pull out a camera she would refuse to smile.
 Mr M is always happy and doesn't care who knows it. He's gotten very inquisitive and very sneaky. It took a little bit for me to catch on and stop blaming Little Miss for everything. Poor girl!
 We figured it would be a little difficult for Mr M to use his reverse walker while camping but we wanted him to do lots of walking and taking good steps. He walks well while holding a hand and gets very excited. Little Miss is as sweet as can be. She'll run ahead, turn around and say to her brother "walk to me, walk to me" to encourage him. She sure is a blessing in our house. I'm so glad that they are both here.
 Mr M! What is it about toddlers, especially boys, that they have to find a way to COVER themselves with dirt. Diaper changes were always a surprise while we were camping.
 We're training them young how to drive Papa's truck!
All in all it was a fun trip and looking back at the pictures I'm glad we did it. One thing I learned is that I liked camping a lot more when I was a kid. Camping was a lot more fun when I was little and didn't have to be the one packing, and cleaning, and cooking,  I guess I owe my parents a big thanks for all the times they did that for us kids. The memories I have are wonderful and now I get to help create those memories for my kids no matter how much work it is.

Monday, May 14, 2012

What I've learned about a church calling...

Have you ever known a person that throws around their church calling title like he/she is more righteous because they have that calling? Have you ever been in a ward that views the RS presidency or Elders Quorum presidency as "better people" than maybe a primary worker? I'm reminded of that scene in  "The Singles Ward" where the EQ president walks into the guys apartment and introduces himself as "Brother so-n-so, of the EQ president" like you should be so blessed to know him and to have him in your presence.
We've been praying for ways to serve others and the opportunity arose to do just that. Sterling has been called to be 1st counselor in the EQ presidency. He's been in the presidency before but I'm viewing it a little bit differently this time. Maybe it's because we had been praying for ways to serve others that makes this time different, I'm not sure. I feel incredibly humbled this time. Sterling isn't more righteous, isn't a better priesthood holder, or isn't even a better "Mormon" than anyone else. In fact, his calling is to SERVE the Elders, which makes them kind of his "boss". He is only doing the Lord's work. Not his, not mine, not the Bishops not even the Stake Presidents work. THE LORD'S WORK!!! How much more humbled does a person need to be to do that Lord's work. I'm feeling very blessed to assist and sacrifice time with my husband so that he can do the Lord's work.
When I was asked to be 1st counselor in the RS a while ago I remember being ecstatic.  I was stoked. I couldn't wait to start. I didn't know what I was supposed to do or how I was going to do it but I was pumped. It wasn't long after our whole new RS presidency was set apart that we found out the new president and her family were moving out of state. It was a few months away and I was devastated. I loved the time I was in the presidency with those wonderful ladies. I created some great friendship and they were amazing examples of humility. When the new presidency was called it was mostly new people. All but one of us were released and I was pretty sad. Even now, as I write about it I have a bit of sorrow in my heart. We didn't have much time and didn't do big and extravagant things for the ladies in the ward but, I believe and I think that other ladies believe that were called for a purpose and we DID make a difference. We did what the Lord had planned for us to do. I remember when a new presidency was called and one of them stood up to bare her testimony and she said that she knew that the old presidency (us) was in just long enough so she could get something finished. It felt like a knife being shoved in as I heard this. I felt like chopped liver. We weren't there simply as a place holder. We were in that calling as a presidency for a REASON. Maybe that reason was to teach ME. I developed such a love for RS during those three or so months. It is an organization ordained of God and for me to serve my God and my Savior and develop my testimony of RS might be the only reason we were there but it was worth it.
In my mind I've gone back over the opening addresses of Prophet, Apostles, and other General church callings and they speak with such love, and so much humility for what they have called to do. I vow to remember and learn from their humility and to magnify my calling no matter what it might be. I am called by the Lord to do whatever it is I am asked to do.
Why am I putting this soap box testimony on our blog? Honestly I'm not sure but I've felt pretty strongly about it. Besides, I'm pretty sure not many people look at our blog so perhaps it's all just for me to remember and to make it more solid by putting it out there in words.



Thursday, May 10, 2012

Potty Dance

Our squirty girl has potty trained. We started hard core pull-up-your-big-girl-panty wearing on Wednesday. The twins have school on Tuesday and Thursday so my window was very small. The teachers at school are great and I felt that they could follow through with potty training as well but I wanted her to have a consistent place that she could feel safe in while she was mastering it. Well, she did it in one day. She was dry for school today (Thursday) when I picked them  up. I am so happy. We still have to do diapers for nap time and bed time but we're taking it one step at a time. People see a lot of the accomplishments that Micah does but Mattea is equally amazing and we're so happy she's our little squirty girl. 
video

Saturday, April 28, 2012

For Papa!

video
A little message from my kids for my Dad. Thanks for all you do for us. We're very thankful. Thank you to my Mom too. She also does so much for us. We love you both very much!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Overcoming

video

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

For Daddy!

Sterling,
This is what your little girl has been up to this morning! It's sharpie and I can't get it off!!!!


Monday, January 23, 2012

Making it mine

When Sterling's little sister and brother-in-law moved out of our basement they left a couple things. This table is one of them. My sister currently lives in the basement and I asked her if we could trade her tables. It's bigger and we were wanting to move the kids out of high chairs and around the table with us so we needed a bigger table.  I believe that this was the table that Sterling's parents used when he was growing up. It was painted black and I really just thought it was really ugly. So, I decided to make it mine and change it. 

ugly black table before. beginning to strip the paint off.

applying the stain.

         I think I'm going to do another coat of stain then seal it. Although the black legs don't look bad I plan to paint it white because it will go better in my kitchen.
1st coat of stain done.