(25 June 2017)
Summer vacation is in full swing at our house. For me, one of the most interesting moments was one morning this last week when I was hugging the kids before going to work. One asked why I was dressed, as opposed to being in my pajamas like the rest of the family. The response of "I have to go to work" was met with an 'oh yeah' facial expression. I guess days sort of lose their meaning to kids in the summertime. As long as we tell them when to get dressed for church, I guess they can get away with that. I sort of miss those days of being a kid, but not enough to want to go back and do it again. Or at least not all of it. I disliked having braces and I don't mind having all the high school drama behind me... at least with me experiencing it personally. It won't be long before high school drama will be playing out but with my children as the participants/observers.
I still can't believe I'll have a kid starting middle school and one in kindergarten this next year. Both are big milestones. I chuckled recently when I realized that my family will hit every possible 'first day of school' this year. The 6th graders start one day early so they can get used to their new building, learn how to open a locker, and how to do the other things expected of them. Then the rest of the district starts the next day. Except for kindergarteners who start the following week (to allow for some individual evaluations during those first few days).
I don't have anything in particular that I wanted to send out to cyberspace today - but felt like saying something, so here it is. :-)
(14 June 2017)
Cody looked so cute today as he walked with his class, in their little graduation caps. After they sang some songs, his teacher called each kid up one by one. As she talked about that child, he/she would pose with their graduation certificate. Cody was identified as the Sign Language King, which is a role he's loved. At the end, his teacher started to tear up as she said how hard it was to see all of these kids leave soon to go to kindergarten but how she knows they will do well. Then we joined our 'graduates' for some cake, hugs, and well wishes.
It was interesting watching Cody as we prepared to leave. He showed nothing but excitement. Not a hint of sadness or anything like it. Maybe that's just the way he is. I noticed the same the day that Mikey died. When we dropped Cody off that morning, he knew Mikey wouldn't be there when he came home. He simply gave Mikey some pats, said that he'd miss Mikey and happily went into his classroom. At the time, I thought perhaps he didn't quite understand. Since then, he's commented a few times that he misses Mikey, but nothing more than that. No emotional outbursts or crying fits. Just acceptance.
(13 June 2017)
Where have the last five years gone?
After Cody was born, I was able to take four months off from work: two for maternity leave and two for the sabbatical I had been putting off. Right around the three month mark, Cody started going to daycare. It wasn't all day initially but we built up to that over the course of the month so that when I actually did go back to work, we were both already used to the separation and the new routine.
Tomorrow, he will graduate from "Juniors" (aka Junior Kindergarten). (Don't call it 'preschool' around him because at his daycare, 'preschool' is the class for the 3-year-olds.) How is it possible that he's gone all the way through their program and will shortly be in kindergarten? Perhaps I'm just being sentimental, but it feels like the end of an era.
Here's a picture of Cody about a month after he started going to daycare. I'm glad he's not quite that small still... but it doesn't feel like he should be graduating yet.
(4 June 2017)
My family tried to get me one of the 'NES classic' consoles, a palm sized replica of the original Nintendo gaming system with something like 30 of the classic games preinstalled. It is amazingly popular so the only way to really get one was to pay a huge upcharge (like $400 for a $40 device). Unfortunately, it was cancelled, so they were unable to obtain one for a reasonable price. Instead, I was surprised with a belated Mother's Day present of a Nintendo Switch! The most awesome thing about this was that it came with the new Zelda game, Breath of the Wild.
In the few days since I got it, I've greatly enjoyed playing. I have to say that the graphics are amazing. The animals (deer, fish, etc) move like they would in real life. The landscape has variety: grass of different lengths, hills and rocks with cracks and other imperfections and other such details. Instead of using magic hearts that randomly appear to regenerate health and energy, various items such as mushrooms, herbs, butter, milk, and meat gleaned from hunting are cooked over an open fire. Various ores are obtained which can be sold to get rupees needed to buy items, rather than finding them while cutting the grass. At first I thought I'd miss cutting the grass in a Zelda game but there's just so much more to do that I haven't missed it at all. Another key difference between this and other Zelda games is that while there are still the major objectives, there is a lot more freedom in how those objectives are met. As an example, the first part of the game is on a plateau with 4 "shrines". The game leads you to the first one but after that, it's up to the player to decide the order of the other three. Unlike in Ocarina of Time, there isn't an annoying guide that pops up every so often to 'remind' you of what you are supposed to be doing. If I want to go straight to a shrine, I can. If, instead, I want to explore the woods and hunt for some meat and experiment with cooking different recipes, I can do that just as easily. The landscape is so big that it feels like there's always something to explore... and that was just the beginning section!
Happy (belated) Mother's Day to me!
(22 May 2017)
Eight years ago tonight was the first hospital stay I can remember. Being admitted there was the start of 25 hours of a wild emotional rollercoaster, culminating in the birth and death of our twins. My husband commented recently that we've now lived more of our married life after we lost the twins. That's so weird to think about. What was once the 'new normal' is now just 'normal'. I can't say that the pain has lessened each year or anything like that. It's more like an injury that has scarred over. I no longer dwell on them every waking moment, perhaps because I've since gotten busy with three other kids, but I absolutely miss them. I often wonder what their personalities are like. I say 'are' because I know that their spirits live on. I know that I will someday be reunited with them. It could very well be that I became acquainted with one or both of them in the premortal existance but that I simply can't remember that while in mortality myself. I like to think that they are very aware of the happenings in their family, including the recent adoption of two of their siblings.
In the meantime, tomorrow is their birthday and I just want to shout out to cyberspace that I love and miss my boys very much. They are not forgotten.
(18 May 2017)
Who needs tv when you've got kids?
That's a quote from my husband one day, said in response to a thrilling tale of something strange one of the kids did. It's true that kids can be quite entertaining -- and sometimes very frustrating -- and parenthood is best endured with a big dose of a sense of humor.
In 5th grade around here, the kids get to go on a 4-day, 3-night field trip to "Outdoor School" which Jake has been anticipating. Unfortunately, his behavior over this school year has been less than stellar, culminating in us actually taking that trip away from him. However, we are nice parents and do want him to do the fun stuff, so we gave him the opportunity to earn it back. Every day, for 5 weeks, we would discuss his behavior and assign it as 'red' (bad) or 'green' (good). If he could get 18 green days, he would be allowed to go. It wasn't until he was very close to getting 18 red days that he really started putting some effort into it -- and the difference was absolutely incredible. He was so pleasant to be around. Family time was FUN! Our stress levels were lower. Jake even commented on how much better it felt when he chose to behave. Amazingly, he managed to get the 18 green days. The very next morning, however, he made some very poor choices when it came to his behavior. Since he'd earned the trip, we weren't going to take that away (lest he be unable to trust us), but there was something terribly ironic in having a conversation with him that was basically "You were good and earned the trip, but you are grounded until then." Oy.
The icing on the cake though was today. Earlier, he made the realization that he would miss the fun events this weekend, as part of being grounded. We have a policy in our family that if you misbehave, you miss fun activities. So, at bedtime, Jake innocently asked Dad to let him know when fun things are coming so Jake will know to behave. Wait, what? Does he really not understand that we expect him to always behave (though he is human and will flub up from time to time)??? Fortunately, Dad was able to explain the need for constant good behavior since opportunities for fun things are sometimes unannounced and spontaneous.
Kids are fun, aren't they?
(8 May 2017)
As independent as I like to be, there's something special about knowing that my husband will come to my rescue if needed. While transporting two foster kids to our house for a weekend visit, a brand new tire blew. No one was hurt though we all were more than a little surprised. Using the videophone app on my phone, I was able to call my husband and let him know what was happening. As I'd predicted, he offered to divert our kids from bed to the car and come to help, especially since we were only a few miles away. While I can change a tire myself, I was grateful to have the help, especially with those tight lug nuts!! In addition, my husband is very smart and thought to toss the bicycle pump into his car on the way out of the driveway. Turns out that the spare was flat so without the pump, we'd have been stranded for a lot longer than we were. Overall, I felt very special, loved by my knight in ... dirty SUV.
We all have our little quirks. One of Jake's is that he often doesn't listen very closely. It can lead to some hilarious (or frustrating, depending on the mood) conversations.
Dad: (listing off events this weekend)... and then Mother's Day.
(3 May 2017)
Fourteen years ago, I married my best friend. Since then, life has given us both ups and downs, but there's no one I'd rather have with me for the ride. He's the calming influence when I'm hot-headed, the voice of reason when I'm riled. My constant support and shoulder I can cry on when I'm sad. His quick wit brings a dose of humor, almost daily. He's a wonderful dad to our children. Here's to many more years together! It feels like he's always been in my life, even though the truth is he's been in it less than half. Maybe that's just because of how much of an integral part of my life he has become. I love him so much and, equally as important, I know that he loves me.
(25 April 2017)
Due to spring break last month, the normal Cub Scout pack meeting was not held. As such, it wasn't until today that Jake received his Arrow of Light.
Cody has been showing an interest in my Rubik's cubes. Earlier this month, he learned how to identify which pieces need to be where to fix the top layer, though he can't actually do those moves yet. He'll point to one and say "Mom, this needs to go there..." and wait for me to do it. So, when I came across this item in the toy department the other day, I had to get it for him. He loves it and can actually solve it most of the time. At dinner today, he told me that he actually solved one case that had been puzzling him. "I did Mom! I really did!!" he said, with evident pride.
(20 April 2017)
We spread Mikey's ashes at the Oregon coast this morning. We knew that we wanted just me and my husband present, so we took advantage of the kids being in school and each took the day off. As we drove to the beach, the rain was coming down. We were reminded of day he proposed when, as we got to the location we had chosen, the rain stopped. We walked along the beach a ways until we found a place we liked. I gingerly poured the ashes onto the sand as the sun came out. We stood there for several minutes, watching the waves start to disperse the ashes, each deep in thought. When we walked back to the car, a sprinkle of rain started to fall. By the time we got into the car, it was a downpour. I guess our timing was perfect.
We chose the beach because Mikey loved it so much. To clarify: he loved the sand, not the water. I find it mildly ironic that his ashes are being spread by the very water he so often avoided. Oh well, that's what happens at the beach. Here are a few of my favorite "Mikey at the beach" pictures...
(18 April 2017)
If dogs don't go to heaven, then I want to go wherever they go.
It's been a full four weeks since we said goodbye to Mikey. Some days it feels like life is moving on. Other days, it feels as if a dog-shaped chunk has been ripped from my still-beating heart which was then left to bleed out. I know, I know we did the right thing and that Mikey's spirit is pain-free and running around somewhere. I know death is a part of life and that when my time comes to pass through that portal, Mikey will probably be there to greet me, tail wagging. I remind myself of the many fun times and experiences over the years. While I feel a fair amount of grief and pain now, I don't think I would not get him if I could go back in time. There were too many good and fun experiences that I would have missed out on! I think part of the pain is that, for several years, Mikey pretty much was like our kid, especially when it seemed our family was slow to grow. Mikey was a huge comforting influence when we lost our twins. He stuck close when I was sick while pregnant with Cody. And a million other things. It's hard to lose that, even if it was in his best interest.
(16 April 2017)
We had breakfast for dinner tonight. At one point, I left the table for a while (chasing kids to bed maybe since it was late?). When I returned, I was surprised to find my uneaten egg and ham still on the plate. Somehow, I apparently thought Mikey would have eaten it. Sigh.
(15 April 2017)
Cody told me that today should be one of the best days of my life because it's my birthday AND it is Saturday. So cute. My family did pretty much let me do what I wanted, which was very nice. I had an interesting thought at one point during the day. When my mom was my age, I was in high school. A few years later, we went on a trip to see BYU. I remember thinking she was "so old" -- but I think my perspective has changed a bit.
The kids were really excited for me to open up their presents -- a variety of unique Rubik's-cube type puzzles. As soon as I'd open one, it was immediately borrowed and messed up. I think we'll be having fun with these for a long time to come.
(11 April 2017)
"No one can truly understand why dogs are called 'man's best friend' until they have experienced the loss of one"
I'm really missing Mikey today.
(5 April 2017)
I can't believe I forgot to mention that Mikey always wanted to be the center of attention. If people were gathered to talk, he was always in the middle of the room, unless someone had food. Then he checked that out first. Whenever we tried to play a game on the floor, it was a battle to keep Mikey off of the board. Eventually we learned we just had to play games on the table.
(3 April 2017)
Cody likes to mess up my Rubik's cube and then give it to me to solve. As soon as I solve it, he messes it up again, with the biggest grin on his face. Today, while we were playing this game, I mentioned that I would love to teach him how to solve it someday. He wanted to start immediately, so we spent a few minutes learning how to identify where each corner piece of the selected color should go. He used the pattern of colors to start telling me where the middle pieces should go. He can't do the moves yet, but he knows where each piece of the starting layer go... after only about 20 minutes. I thought that was pretty cool.
(31 March 2017)
Obviously I don't normally put an update on here on a daily basis, but I'm finding it to be sort of therapeutic. I promise I'm not actually as depressed as I may sound... I just miss my buddy.
But, I'm still learning more about CSS and other cool stuff for making cool webpages. I made a small edit to the pictures on this page which I think looks great, but the big changes will be part of an overall site redesign that is in progress. I'm still trying to visualize what layout I want, but I have a few ideas.
(30 March 2017)
For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
We got Mikey's ashes back this morning. My husband did the actual pickup, perhaps because he wasn't sure I could handle it. So it was in my room that I got to see the box which contains all that physically remains of my precious dog. It's amazing how small it actually is. In life, he weighed 70 pounds, but a lot of that is water which would have evaporated during the cremation process. What was more touching, though, was that my husband had been clearheaded enough that day to order a special plaque with Mikey's paw print and name. We will keep that in a special place.
It's still hard to believe that he's gone. When I sit on the floor, I keep expecting him to come in and plop down beside me. He loved to sleep with his back against my leg. I've had to catch myself several times as I've been about to ask a child to "feed the animals" and change it to "feed the cat." Cody dropped some food the other day and then commented that it was sad we didn't have a dog to come clean it up as Mikey would always have tried to do. But I am glad that his suffering is over.
I thought of a few more memories:
(28 March 2017)
My husband said it best today: "What a roller coaster of emotions!" A week ago, we were drowning in grief over the passing of our beloved dog. Today, we had an experience that was sweet and exhilarating. We were able to take our children to the temple so Jake and Marisol could be sealed to us, to forever become part of our eternal family. Cody was able to go as an observer, so we were all there. In addition, we had several family members and dear friends in attendance, which made it all the sweeter.
Afterwards, we were able to take some pictures while we were all still in our white clothes. The one I love best is of the three kids.
(24 March 2017)
Be still, my soul; Thy best, thy heavn'ly Friend
Just a few more Mikey memories...
(23 March 2017)
Obviously I can't list 14 years of memories here, but at dinner tonight, we mostly shared our positive memories of Mikey. The kids had some but the bulk of it was my husband and I sharing some with the kids, as we had many more years with Mikey to make those memories. Here are some of them.
(22 March 2017)
A line that Marius says in Les Miserables has been going through my mind over the last 24 hours. There's a grief that can't be spoken. There's a pain goes on and on.
Yesterday was really hard, I'm not going to lie. After we came home, I tried to sleep for a few hours because I didn't feel like doing anything else. Then I played video games, allowing myself to get lost in another world. We took the kids out to Sonic for dinner since we didn't feel like cooking and we all sort of grieved together. The older kids still felt like going to Scouts and Activity Days, so I took them there. After putting them to bed, it was back to the video games. Then I played some more this morning. I guess that's just part of how I grieve -- I hide and process it little by little. I have to admit that it felt kind of therapeutic being able to whack the living daylights out of a bunch of animated bad guys without causing any actual damage to anything.
One thing that has helped has been remembering some of the fun times and Mikey's little quirks. Here are a few, including some my mom reminded me about.
(21 March 2017)
Mikey, our 16-year-old black lab mix, passed away this morning. He's been my buddy and confidant for 14 1/2 years. I already miss him greatly but I know that he's running free in the spirit world now, free of the physical pains and limitations that his aging body was dealing with. He had a good long life, most of which was with us. He loved to sit in the sunshine and hated the rain, which is weird for black labs. He would do anything for a treat. I can't really sum up 14 years in a few words, but I'll just say that I'm very grateful that I had him in my life. Cody said it best when he said his goodbye: "Bye Mikey. I'll miss you and love you."
(24 February 2017)
Today, I have the opportunity to spend a few hours on BYU's campus. I have so many memories of this place. So many. Stressing about tests. Hours spent with my friends (many of whom I'm am still in contact with). Hiking up the hill by Helaman Halls to get to campus. Watching football games. Learning ASL. Learning how to snowboard. Hurridly cleaning the apartment for the monthly cleaning checks. Countless hours spent in the engineering computer lab. Sitting in the front row of the Marriott Center for weekly Devotionals, especially when a General Authority or Apostle came to speak. My first visit. Logging into my email account for the first time and finding an email from my Mom -- which happens to be the first one she ever sent! Ice cream and chocolate milk from the Creamery. My first trip to the temple to do baptisms, since there was no temple in Anchorage at the time. My senior project. Having three different roommates my freshman year. Watching as "the pit" transformed into an underground extension of the library. Reading the email from Intel with the offer of an internship. Doing Phantom of the Opera as a signed song with my best friend. Too many tests in the Testing Center. ASL Club. Graduation. And so many more. I am so thankful for the privilege I had of being a student here.
But has it really been 15 years since I graduated? 20 since I first set foot on campus? It hardly seems possible. But as I look around, some things have certainly changed. Deseret Towers is gone, as is the walkway that used to connect the Law Building to just outside the WILK Student Center. Some other construction projects are in progress. The SFLC has been completely redone, and apparently so have the Heritage Halls dorms. Off campus, the Albertson's that I would shop at is now a Walmart. The dollar movie theater is closing. The University Mall seems to have greatly expanded. Some of the offerings at the Cougareat are the same but some are much different. Perhaps the most telling indication of how times have changed: the number of laptops/computing devices that I see. When I first came here, laptops were big and heavy as bricks. There were not a lot of places to plug them in to get internet access. Now they are commonplace, and connected to wifi. There is even a guest network, to which I'm currently connected... checking my work email.
While part of me longs to be back here, among the students that I see, mostly I'm glad that I'm done with school. :-)
(8 February 2017)
Running season is upon us. Last summer, I ran my first full marathon. I did a 10k event in the fall and then ended up taking some time off from running. Life happens. I've been trying to get back into it but was kind of floundering without much of a goal. I'm debating if I want to do all that training again and do a second marathon this year, with my brother-in-law who is tackling his first. Oddly enough, it was an Uberthons challenge to run 500 miles during 2017 that seems to have helped me find my motivation again. They do have an option where you just do 25 hours on the crosstrainer (30 minutes = 10 miles they say) but that wouldn't be nearly as satisfying to me. So, that's my new goal. 500 miles. Realizing that I missed my workouts for several days in January (snow days, work responsibilities, and other stuff like that), I'm coming a little late to the game but it is certainly possible.
To that end, I've signed up for a 5k series: 4 5k runs held throughout the year. Two years ago, I did the half marathon series, so this could be considered a step down but considering that I haven't really run in months, I think it's just right. My older children have both expressed an interest in running with me sometimes, so I challenged them to be ready to run a 5k in March with me. I'm absolutely positive they'll have to take walking breaks, but I'm looking forward to doing that run with them. Perhaps this will be the start of a new tradition.
P.S. The kids had their 10th snow day of the year earlier this week...
(30 January 2017)
It's been said that we should never stop learning. At work last year, I made a simple webapp to automate a redundant and somewhat boring task. It was enough to remind me that I've had a desire to learn more about web design but hadn't gotten around to actually doing it yet. I have a lynda.com subscription through work so I've been taking a few classes, in increments of about 30 minutes or so since that's about all the free time I have any one time (see previous posts about having three kids running around at home). I just finished one on CSS, which deals with the presentation of web pages (fonts, sizes, colors, and a lot more), which was something I've been wanting to learn about for years! Now I just want to play with it! No, not just play. I feel compelled to experiment, so you'll probably notice the look and feel changing a bit as I make tweaks and edits. Eventually I want to do an overhaul of this site to make it look a little less 'homemade' but there are another few classes I want to finish first.
(23 January 2017)
The annual Cub Scout pinewood derby is upon us. This year, the troop is letting anyone who wants to race a car for fun do so after the boys are done. So, Marisol and Cody have both been excited about building cars. Dad showed Marisol how to use the sander, so she spent a good part of the evening using it to get her car into just the right shape. At one point, I saw her doing that while Jake was washing dishes in the kitchen. I love how my kids are learning stuff that, in years past, would have been for the "opposite gender". Jake is learning to do housework and Marisol is learning how to use power tools. It made me smile.
It's been a wild month for school. The kids had school cancelled for 9 of 17 consecutive school days (starting from the first snow day back in December). As much as I love my kids, I was pretty darn happy to see the school bus finally come again last Wednesday morning. I can only take working from sitting on the floor in my room for so long...
I hope you enjoy the slightly new look of this page. I'm slowly working on redesigning the page. :-)
(10 January 2017)
Today, we had the privilege of having the adoption finalized for our older children. When we first went into the courtroom, Cody wasn't sure if he wanted to sit with the rest of us (who were in the front as participants) or not, but the judge said he could sit wherever he wanted. He eventually came and sat in my lap, so the whole family was there at the table. The lawyer asked a few questions to verify that we knew the adoption would be permanent and then the judge signed the papers. Cody immediately blurted out "I have a new brother and sister!" which made the judge smile. We later went to a celebratory dinner to the Old Spaghetti Factory - while it was snowing outside. The kids now have a snow day tomorrow (after having one on Monday and missing school for their court appearance today). Such a hard life. ;-)
The 4th quarter pics are posted. These actually include Jake and Marisol since I no longer am forbidden from putting pictures of them up on the net.
(7 January 2017)
It's hard to believe that it is already 2017, and that we are already a week into that! My mom and her husband came down to spoil the grandkids... I mean visit which was enjoyed by all, especially Cody. Since he's not in kindergarten yet, he had the chance to have the grandparents all to himself for a while every day after the older kids had to go back to school. Here's a basic update on what is going on with all of us:
Don't I have a cute family?