Friday, November 6, 2015

October Newsletter & Slideshow

October 2015

FAMILY: October started with the ending of soccer. Ireland's last game was on the 6th. Kezia's was on the 10th (Jason coached that game because Denell was out of town). It has been nice to have some extra time in the evenings now that soccer is over & everything isn't quite as rushed. The first weekend in October, we enjoyed conference very much. There were many beautiful, inspiring talks and we enjoyed spending time as a family. On Saturday while daddy was at Priesthood session, mom took the girls to the dollar store & the new TJ Maxx store for some shopping. Then crafts. It was a fun girls night! On the 10th, after Kezia's last soccer game, we headed to Parowan and hit the end of their fall festival on Main Street. We got to see some cool cars, jump on the inflatables (mom and dad even tried to hit each other off the inflatable stands), and see some neat booths. The weather was just perfect. Afterwards, we went on up to Paragoonah to the Judd's Family Pumpkin Patch to pick some pumpkins. We had fun wandering around, picking the perfect pumpkins. We got some very huge ones! And some very tiny ones, as well. Also - the girls (especially Noelle) had fun seeing the baby pigs, goats, and cows. Early in October, the girls all had a late-over as well. Kezi had Macy - from her soccer team & school come, McKinley had Lindsey Brown, and Ireland had Sophie Johnson. They watched the movie HOME, ate caramel popcorn, and played games. It was fun! We also got our family pictures taken at the beginning of the month - at the old barns over by the soccer fields - and at Link's bench at the cemetery. Noelle hadn't taken a good nap, so she was pretty busy and ornery, but we got some good shots and we're always glad when that's over with! The 12th was Columbus Day and Jason had it off work, so we let the girls take it off school, too. Late that afternoon, we went and hiked Spring Creek Canyon. It was a beautiful slot canyon and the weather was so perfect. We saw gorgeous red rock, a purple butterfly, some cool caves, some sweet flowers, and some colorful fall leaves. What a fun hike! The 15th was the annual Wave of Light and Remembrance that Share puts on at our stake center. We lit candles and people sang songs and talked about their babies. Then we let go of balloons and had treats. It was a neat night that we always look forward to. We left for Salt Lake on the afternoon of the 16th so we could meet at the Potts' church and help set up for Grandma Potts' surprise 60th birthday party. We were late, but were able to help a little before she came and we surprised her (Grandpa had tricked her into cleaning the church). It was a fun night and probably one of the best moments was when Aunt Tiffany walked in and Grandma Potts was just SO surprised! We sent invitations through Facebook, e-mail, texting, and Grandpa even hand-delivered some. She had plenty of people show up and Trisha had made a way cute photo book and Tiffany had done a "60" out of pictures and Heidi put together the slideshow & Cindy did the cake. GG Tew also helped with balloons and activities for the little kids. All-in-all, it was a fantastic night & we LOVED seeing everyone & especially Grandma's surprised face :) Saturday morning, we headed to Gardner Village for the witch hunt. We took lots of fun pictures and saw some fun shops and crazy witches (live and non-living), and danced to some fun Halloween tunes. Afterwards, we all met at Pizza Pie Cafe for some lunch (thanks Grandpa!). It was such a quick trip, but it was time to head south to Fairview to meet the Bensons at their cabin. Over 3 days of fun awaited us there & we had a blast 4-wheeling (even Kezi got to ride the smaller one by herself. And Heidi & Jason got to go on a quick ride with Mindy and Brent in the beautiful fall weather), playing on their paddle boat, having hula hoop competitions, roasting marshmallows by the fire, watching movies, hiking, playing games (UNO Dare anyone? CLAP, CLAP, CLAP I BELIEVE IN FAIRIES!) :), dancing to Brent's mom's accordion, and celebrating both Kezi & Logan's birthdays as well as Brent's actual birthday. We loved our time with them and in nature. Even though it rained off and on, it was still wonderful weather and we enjoyed being up there. on the 23rd, Jason got free tickets to see Darryl Worrley at SUU for the Western Freedom Festival. What a fun concert!! We got to feed the Reed's one October evening and then go to Canyon View to watch Sedona play her last game before regions. They won and it was fun to see her play. The Hillstead's invited us over to their house for movie night & we watched Inside Out. So fun! Kezia turned 6 on the 26th of this month! See her section for more details :) We carved pumpkins on the 28th and had fun with LOTS of seed-roasting! Friday, the 30th, McKinley & Ireland got to dress up in their costumes for school & on top of that, their school earned a block party! They got to have a fire truck & police cars and walk around the school block and dance to Halloween music. Mom and dad and Kezi & Noelle came to cheer them on :) Halloween was on a Saturday this year! We went to the park, went to a piniata-whacking party at the Gregerson's & then mom took the girls trick-or-treating. It was a warm Halloween! No jackets needed! The girls got to eat candy to their heart's content, and then it was lights out for Halloween and all of October :)

JASON: Jason really struggled with allergies the beginning of October & had a take a couple days off. He was just totally out of it & miserable :(We're all glad he's feeling better now. Jason was busy this month taking care of the rental - we got the windows put in and he had to dig out the new window wells and secure them to the house. On Halloween, he got to go to the SUU football game with Allen Hillstead, Carl Petersen, & Greg Riddle. It was hot, but they had fun & got to cheer on our Thunderbirds! Jason also continues to work out at the Greggerson's in the morning & get some sweaty "guy time" in ;)

HEIDI: Heidi feels glad that things have slowed down a bit in the crazy lessons department for now. It is nice to focus on other things. Much of Heidi's time this past month was spent on the computer. First priority was to get Kezia's birthday book done, and with lost time after her hard drive crashed, she didn't get it completed till the day of her birthday. So... we're still waiting for it to get there. But thankful that it's done. She is SO very grateful that it really does seem like most things we have a copy of - even McKinley's birthday books, Mixbook sent links to the pictures & she is working on saving them. The most heartbreaking thing that was lost, though, were the past couple years of pictures after Link's death. Heidi had been saving all the rainbow pictures, events, etc where we remembered our baby boy. And those are gone :( It truly is a miracle how much was saved, through, & she is thankful - and working on making sure it's all backed up on the new 8TB external hard drive and online. She also decided this was the month to rip our movies into digital format. So - she spent many hours and got about 100 of our movies into digital format. It was really nice for our road trip to be able to have ripped movies on the tablets for the girls since our DVD player in the van isn't working. Heidi bad luck with cell phones continues and even though she's had this phone for a year, one drop ended it's life. it cracked and then just would not boot up. For now, she's using Jason's old phone. It isn't ideal, but works. Heidi also is thankful for a heart-to-heart talk she & Jason had at the end of the month, deciding to move forward in faith to try and have another baby. She is nervous, but also feeling blessed & thankful for this opportunity.

-McKinley was so excited when the day finally arrived that she could change out her stud earrings for regular ones. And from her birthday, she had MANY to choose from! She had fun switching out colors and styles, but after a couple weeks, they were bleeding and hurting. We realized she was pushing the back in to tightly and so after we loosened it and put some more neosporin on it, it seems to be doing better and she even wore dangly earrings! So exciting :)
-During her late-over with Lindsey, Mom was helping McKinley make caramel popcorn & she accidentally stirred too fast & some of the caramel came out & got on McKinley's shirt & burned her tummy very badly. there were blisters and it really hurt :( Mom felt terrible & know it was embarrassing for McKinley in front of her friend. Not she has a scar :(
-At the beginning of the month, McKinley had a fever and wasn't feeling good. She came home from school and slept in mom's bed. Then threw up pink pepto bismol all over her white bed covering :( She stayed home for another day before she felt well again :(
-Wednesdays are busy for McKinley. She has Polar ICE after school (gifted program) and then piano. She has felt like the ICE program isn't as interesting or fun as she had hoped, but she is sticking with it. She continues to do well with piano and is currently learning Christmas songs and hymns. We love to hear her play!
-Jenny Davies asked McKinley & her daughter Jenna to sing I Wonder When He Comes Again at Sophia Johnson's baptism. It was a sweet privilege & she did wonderfully.
-McKinley LOVED to ride the 4-wheelers at the Benson cabin. She got to ride the adult size this year & had fun riding with Zach and taking her sisters for a ride. She also had fun staying up late playing games.
-McKinley got to be the lunch lady girl this month! She even gets to come home with a cool hat :)
-McKinley does not seem to have good luck with tablets :( This is her 3rd replaced tablet and the wi-fi just wasn't working even after a reset, so we had to send it into RCA to get fixed. It will be at least a few weeks :(
-McKinley & mom are having fun with their book club. McKinley read the Whatever After books and is currently reading Walk 2 Moons, one of mom's favorites :)
-One Sunday, McKinley decided she wanted to have an in-depth scripture discussion, so she picked a verse and we talked about it for about an hour. Just one verse! (1 Ne 1:4) We learned about Jeruselem, ancient prophets, the 12 tribes of Israel, and prophesies about the last days. It was really neat to learn so much!
-McKinley & Ireland had red ribbon week the last week of October. McKinley had fun doing crazy hair (spray painted), wearing neon, wearing red, wearing camouflage, and wearing her costume (she was a Vampiress this year). :)

-Soccer is now over for Ireland. Ireland's team lost every game (in fact, they only got one goal the entire season), but we are so proud of her for not quitting, for having a good attitude, and for learning so much her first year! Way to go Ireland! Her favorite position was defender and she loved having Isabella on her team!
-She's now on the waiting list to get into SUU Gymnastics.
-We were watching General Conference and one of the sessions showed the organ player. Ireland yelled "LOOK! That guy has FOUR ARMS!!" (To her disappointment, she found out that it was actually 2 people playing the organ at a sideways angle) :)
-Ireland had a lot of fun at the Benson cabin and especially having sleepovers with Sienna and wrestling with the boys.
-Kezia has been wanting to sleep by herself for a while now, so this month we told Ireland she needs to sleep by herself, in her own room. She was NOT excited about the idea, but we told her that if she slept in her bed 10 nights (didn't have to be in a row), she would get to have a special sleepover with mom and dad. The biggest thing that helped her feel comfortable has been that we start with a prayer and then we read scriptures together before we sing her song and leave her for the night. We have all felt the Holy Ghost as we read together and know that He comforts her & has helped her. At the end of the month, she had earned her sleepover & got to hang out with mom and dad that night, eat ice cream, talk and laugh, and sleep. (even though she was a very active, moving sleeper! She says mom and dad squished her)
-Ireland was SO happy that Mahina came back this month! She was calculating how many days till she would get back & how many days she'd been gone.
-Ireland earned a date this month and chose to go see Minions with mommy. It was a fun date and we got to get ice cream at Bulloch Drug afterwards!
-Ireland has had quite a bit of homework lately. Dad has been VERY patient and spent hours working with her, explaining things like fractions (even cutting up four apples!) to make sure she understands the concepts. What a good daddy!
-Ireland had fun being "Spider Girl" for Halloween this year and even let mom put some "webs" around her eyes and a "spider" on her cheek. She also had fun trick-or-treating with Mahina this year!
-Ireland says "Remember that one time when I caught a butterfly at Kezia's soccer game? I held it and ran back to show you. And then I tried to put it in a paper bag, but it flew out."

-Kezia is sad that soccer is over, but she had a great season. Kezia's team won every game (though that last game was close). There were only 4 players on their team and many times they competed against teams much bigger that got to take rests while they had to play the whole time. Kezia learned so much as well and had a lot of fun. We loved to hear her squeals of delight as she would run down the field and kick the ball. She was a great forward and made many points.
-Kezi is still enjoying Kindergarten, though she sometimes says she is bored. Her teacher is good to send home harder books and even sent an extra bag of books for her. She is still loving to read Magic Treehouse books and has read 6 books so far. Her sisters like to brag about her that she can read MTH books when she's only in Kindergarten :)
-Kezi loved hanging out at the Benson cabin & said her favorite part was the hula-hooping. She got pretty good!
-HAPPY 6th BIRTHDAY KEZIA! She couldn't wait for it to come and she loved that it was on a school day! She got to wear her birthday crown (even though she got another one, too) and bring birthday treats and she was the star of the week! She got to bring a picture poster the first day (her birthday) and cupcakes, then she got to bring a show & tell item (her Link bear), a favorite book (Magic Treehouse), an information sheet (she said her eyes are blue and her hair is gold and she wants to be a princess when she grows up). She got to have a party on Friday for red ribbon week and wear her pajamas and have crazy hair (TONS of hair bows and spray paint). For her birthday she chose to have Fruity Pebbles for breakfast, IHOP with daddy for lunch, and Navajo Tacos for dinner. She also got a "rainbow" cake (it wasn't very attractive-looking) for her cake. Her favorite gifts were her sparkly purple fan, her Ty kitty cat, Equestria girl, black boots, bead craft, the "Love you More" pillow from Grandma Devenish and a new shirt. Grandma Potts took her shopping & she got jewelry.
-Kezia was Batgirl for Halloween and looked really super hero-ish! (and cute! Shhh - don't tell her I used that word!)
-Her primary teacher said she did a Word of Wisdom lesson. She said she poured some dirt into water & asked if anyone wanted to try it. Kezia was the only one who did! she didn't actually drink it, but Sister Crandall warned against wanting to "try" things!

Our sweet boy, we miss you SO much. How much we wished (again!) that we could have bought you an adorable outfit for Halloween and taken you trick-or-treating. We love you forever.

-Noelle-my-belle is 18 Months! Can't believe it! She went to nursery for the first "official" time (she's gone when mom has subbed a few times) & her first week was good in the beginning, but rough by the end. 2nd week was much better and she cried here & there but stayed in the whole time. We are so proud of our girl and how she is growing & learning so much!
-she is getting really good at using utensils! She still makes messes and sometimes uses her hands, but overall she's doing great!
-This month, Noelle has started playing with ponies! Now, we've got 3 girls obsessed with ponies in this house.
-Noelle is so cute reading books. At the end, she will say "the end." One that's fun says "wake up!" and there's a part that says "ew" and she says it every time. She can point to & say the name of probably 20 animals/items in her books and she also knows probably 15 animal sounds. She can point to almost all parts of your face and name them, including chin, cheek & teeth. She really is a smarty girl!
-Noelle is adorable when mom goes to wake up her sisters. She sings "Good morning to you" like mommy does and usually gives them hugs and kisses.
-She has started to go up and down the stairs the right way!
-She says "have good day!" "Love you!" "Buh-bye, See ya!"
-She still loves to sing twinkle, twinkle (she always looks up to see the stars when she sings that song) and ABCs.
-Mom went to the DI & found a elephant ball popper. It's become her favorite toy! She laughs and squeals and love to hold the hold the balls, watch them pop, and throw them. It's one of the few things that she will go downstairs to play with all by herself while her sisters are at school.
-Noelle was such a cute little pumpkin for Halloween. She wanted to eat ALL the candy ALL the time.
-Daddy decided to try to wean Noelle off her sleep sack AND her white noise this month. She had a couple rough times, but she's done pretty good!
-Noelle now says all her sisters, and her brother's names. The cutest is when she sings the Good Morning song or calls out "Kinley, where are you?"

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Why the invisible one counts, too

I have five children. FIVE. 

I know you don't see all of them. You can count and count and count again, and you will only get to FOUR children when you see our family around town. But, I promise, I have five children. 

I have quite a few friends who have five children. Sometimes when I get together with them, I get the sense that I'm not 'quite' as experienced as them, considering they have five children, and I only have four. They see that I have four children, and some will remember & acknowledge that I have one in heaven, but it surely can't be as demanding as having FIVE living children. 

Can it? 

This is one of the hardest things to explain to someone who has not lost a child. Just because Link is not here on earth and I don't get to have the daily physical care of him - helping him to get up, get dressed, feeding him, bathing him, teaching him, dealing with tantrums, messes, etc, - does not mean that he requires less mental, physical, and emotional energy than my living children do. I know that may seem a bit of an exaggeration, but I it's true. 

MENTAL: Honestly, Link is on my mind JUST as much as my living children. And you know how, when you become a parent, you are always tuned in to where your children are? Yes, I have that with Link, too. That was one of the most difficult things those first few weeks after he was gone. Your momma mind & heart is always searching for them, needing to know where they are at that moment. While I have grown more accustomed to not knowing exactly where his spirit currently is, my heart and mind still try to keep tabs on him, just as I do my living children. 

Do I worry about him? It's not the same as my living children, but the worrying component is even there. With my living children, I worry about their safety, their health, their spiritual and educational state. Now, the worry is for me. I worry about my spiritual state, etc, and if I am making the kind of choices that will assure that I will get to be with him forever one day. I can promise you that kind of worry can be just as intense as worrying about my living children. Also - especially at the beginning, I irrationally worried about his cold little body buried at the cemetery after it snowed. And, a huge worry for us loss-parents is that people will forget our sweet child. That a year will come when no one remembers it's their birthday but you. 

PHYSICAL: No, I am not waking up with him at night, dragging him out of the store during a tantrum, strapping him into his car seat, etc. I don't have those everyday specific physical drains with Link, but ask any parent who has lost a child and they will tell you that there is a VERY large physical toll that comes with this journey. Grief from not having Link here wears me out more physically than if he were here. I know, it's hard to believe. But, it's true. I've lost more sleep from grief than an entire lifetime of night-wakings I would have gladly taken in its place. Many of us loss moms will tell you, and I'm sure research would agree, that losing a child takes many years off your life. Gray hairs, weight gain or weight loss, wrinkles, etc. There is an enormous physical, DAILY toll that comes with losing a child. 

EMOTIONAL: Raising children is hard emotionally. SO HARD. Some nights you go to bed just wanting someone to hold you and tell you everything will be okay. Especially after a day of orneriness, back-talking, tears, yelling, cutting teeth, sibling rivalry, disobedience, puberty, etc. You name it. It is HARD. But it doesn't even compare with the emotion of grief. Never. Living-children  emotional drainage is difficult, but you know eventually it will get better - there's a new day tomorrow and children go through phases. With grief, you feel like the only thing that will really cure it is getting to hold your child again. And you do not know how many seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, or decades that might be. And so the emotional pain is just there. And the hardest part is, unlike living children, you don't have the milestones, the proud moments, the sweet talk, the hugs and kisses to offset all those negative behaviors and emotions. Just like with living children, some days are easier than others, but the hard days are just harder when you are dealing with grief. 

So - yes, having a child in heaven is very different than having a child here on earth, but the toll it takes on me as a mother is very similar, if not more demanding than a living child. If anything, I would say that Link is probably my most demanding child. Physically, emotionally, mentally. He's also so very beloved. And I feel so blessed to be his mom. 

Thank you for all those to give me "credit" for my five beautiful children. You'll never know how much it means to me.