Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Advices from An Old Farmer

Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.

Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.

Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.

A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.

Words that soak into your ears are whispered… not yelled.

Meanness don’t jes’ happen overnight.

Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.

Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.

It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.

You cannot unsay a cruel word.

Every path has a few puddles.

When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.

The best sermons are lived, not preached.

Most of the stuff people worry about ain’t never gonna happen anyway.

Don’t judge folks by their relatives.

Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

Live a good, honorable life… Then when you get older and think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.

Don ‘t interfere with somethin’ that ain’t bothering you none.

Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a Rain dance.

If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.

Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.

The biggest troublemaker you’ll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin’.

Always drink upstream from the herd.

Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.

Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.

If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around..

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

Don’t pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he’ll just kill you.

Most times, it just gets down to common sense.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

It's official. T.J. got my knees.

You know... the Kenison knees that hurt all the time.

Seriously. It sucks.

The knees that have the knee caps pulling to the outsides of the knee cap that rub wrong with every step you take. And running, don't get me started on that one. Running has never been an option for me. And now it won't be with T.J. either. It hurts too much.

So we took T.J. into an Orthopedic Specialist today. He's had knee pain since April when he was running a mile everyday at school for the fit kid's program the President of the U.S. started. And everyday he'd limp home from school. Finally, when it came time to test at the end of the year on how fast he could run it, he came to me almost in tears and said he just can't do it. We talked to his teacher and pulled him from the program. Unfortunately he didn't get a higher certificate of completion because of it. But his pain level went way down.

Then football started. And you know how that goes. Between 2 hours of practice a day and conditioning at the end, his pain is back. So much so that he is limping all the time now. His left knee is worse then his right.

So we went to the doc today. They did x-rays and it confirmed what I thought it was. His IT bands on the outer part of his thighs are too tight. Thus pulling his knee-caps over to the outsides of his knees. Which results in rubbing of the patella in the wrong spot. Instead of the bones following the track that is outlined in the knee, he's rubbing one side more then the other way too much. He also had him lie down on the table and checked his hips, making sure his growth plate wasn't out, which requires surgery to put big pins in the hip sockets connecting to the femur. So glad it isn't that! Doc said T.J. is actually really flexible. Again, something he got from me. I've been told by 3 different orthopedists that I'm too flexible. Which could be bad as well. My knees go way back when I straighten them. Too much, in fact and can be dangerous.

So here's what we're looking at:
1. Physical Therapy. Working to strengthen his butt muscles more and the inner muscles of his thighs. This will help to strengthen the muscles there to help pull his knee-caps over in the right spot. Fortunately, with Dad being a Certified Personal Trainer, we don't have to go into the hospital for PT. His doctor emailed me everything he wants T.J. to work on so Jared knows what to do. Yes!

Plus staying active helps a lot as well. It keeps those muscles strengthened to counteract the IT band.

2. Roll on a roller to loosen the IT bands. Let me tell ya, this hurts someone with this problem! We just got one of those rollers about a month ago. And that's the one area I hate working the most. Yes, doing it often will help lesson the pain, but it still kills!

3. When doing football, or running at school, when that pain starts, take a break. T.J. was happy to hear this with football. He might get out of conditioning.

4. Last, surgery. If T.J. really works on this and it isn't doing much, they will go in and actually cut the IT bands that connect the IT to the patella. T.J. is pretty young for this to be a problem already for him. I didn't find out this news until I was about 18. T.J. does not want surgery, so hopefully this helps him to do all these exercises. I don't want him to have surgery either.

So here we are. One kid so far who got my knees. I think Cody is ok, but it looks to me like Hunter might have them as well. But hey, things could be worse.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Some days a good cry is in order, and today is definitely one of those. I started back at the school officially today. I now work as an aid doing Power Hour in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade. I lucked out and got both Cody's teacher this year and Hunter's. I get to do art in both, and then Power Hour in Hunter's.

Or so I thought.

One of the first things I heard after walking in to Hunter's classroom, is his teacher saying, "Ya unfortunately Hunter won't be in here when you come. He's in Mrs. F.....'s class all morning for Language Arts."  (I left her name out on purpose.)

Last week Hunter was telling me he's now in Mrs. F's class every morning so he won't see me. I told him I'd talk to his teacher and find out what is going on. Apparently, it's true. After showing me the work I'd do every day in there, I asked if I could talk to her about this switching classrooms issue. She said since they are on the same track, they decided to split the kids up. She takes the higher bunch, and Mrs. F takes the lower. I told her - and I'm hoping I can trust her with it - that Hunter was placed in Mrs' F's class but I immediately took him out. I'm worried about his self esteem being in there, because I've personally watched her completely destroy a young girl's self-esteem by saying as loud as she could that she was the dumbest one in the whole class.

And now my kid is in there.

She said to let her know if it gets to that point, but she didn't seem like she really cared or showed much sympathy. It is what it is, and that's it. She said they split it up so each teacher could teach on the level more suitable for that child. She said Hunter is one of the lowest in her class. She absolutely loves his personality and wishes she could have 30 of him because he listens so well, but he's really struggling.

I know he's struggling. I've known something wasn't right since kindergarten. We're trying. Last year it wasn't uncommon for us to do 2 hours of homework a night with him. But he has improved. I've seen it. He doesn't qualify for resource. He's reading better and faster. But he's still one of the lowest.

Working in that classroom that whole hour was hard. I was checking over students work that I thought "Why are they in here? What aren't they in with Hunter, too? They can't stay on track. And he was on the same reading level last year in second as Hunter. Why?"

I could have cried the whole hour I was in there.

I'm praying this actually turns out to be a good thing. I'm praying he has the self-esteem to realize he is a good kid, and is doing the best he can. He already struggles with his self-esteem though. He knows he has a harder time then other kids. Sometimes he stops during homework to cry and say he's dumb. He doesn't think he can be a teacher someday because of this. It breaks my heart. A friend of mine got this classroom to work in. I'm going to talk to her tomorrow and ask that she just keeps an eye on how it's going in there. Plus, there's a sweet lady that subs all the time who is helping often in there as well. I know her, and she's helped give advice and the flash cards for reading that we use. She just gave them to us. I'm hoping that between my friend, and this sweet lady, that it turns out to be OK. Actually, more then OK. I'm praying he loves it. And that he comes out on top at the end of the year.

But for now, I want to cry. I just don't understand how a teacher can talk to kids like this and get away with it. And now my Hunter is in there.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Emotional day today. Here's the jest...

1. Went to the river bottoms with Jared to go biking again. Trying to get ready for youth conference and the 20+ mile bike ride. Have only had 4 weeks to prepare for this. I now ride from 14400 So. to 12300 So.. Round trip it's about 9 miles. There's a huge hill that sits almost in the middle of this ride. Last week I conquered the slightly easier side. And today I conquered the devil's side. Let's just say it's tall and steep! I didn't think I could do it. Major wind today and I rode into it to go up this hill. But once I reached the rocks where I usually stop, I kept going. And I counted how many times my feet had to turn the pedals around before reaching the top. 47 times. Plus Jared was coming up the other side and I wanted him to see me accomplish this. By the time I reached the top, I was shaking SO bad! But I did it!!!!

Big accomplishment. Especially with only 4 weeks training. that alone makes me emotional.

2. But the down fall to my big accomplishment... As soon as we got home and I walked my bike to the garage, I knew something was not right with my right knee. The knee I severally blew out 5 years ago. It felt completely out of place inside and wouldn't pop when I'd bend it. Sometimes that resets it. But it wouldn't. It just kept making a weird popping noise. Later on it hurt to sit at a chair, or stand. Ugh! I thought I was through this major pain after exercising or doing therapy. I was so not happy. It took me literally three years to get to a point of not having pain on a daily basis. But as of tonight, it's a little bit better. Plus, my left knee is hurting as well. Not as bad as my right, but hopefully that's a good sign. Here's hoping it's not torn.

3. I got a phone call from my Dad. He asked if I'd heard about my Aunt Colleen. Immediately I knew something was wrong. He said she's not doing good. She's been in the hospital for a few days and wasn't feeling good, so they checked her out more. Her kidney's are shutting down. Aunt Kathy said it won't be long so if anyone would like to go see her, it better be soon.

One part of me is happy for her though. My Uncle Steve passed away two and a half years ago. She had a really hard time with this, as most people would. But their relationship was different. They are both handicapped. My Uncle fell from the loft of a barn when he was 6 years old and landed on his head on the cement, which left him mentally handicapped. He wasn't expected to live past the age of thirteen, but he made it to 66. And Aunt Colleen was born mostly deaf, but her family didn't know it at the time until she was older. They struggled to make ends meet and raise their two kids, but they did it. And they were side by side their entire marriage. So I'm so happy they will be together again, and be blessed with perfect bodies that they didn't have in this life. But I will miss her. She was always so sweet and caring. And always smiling.

4. I signed up for school today. Finally. I've been meaning to do that for the past month, but hadn't done it yet. I'm excited to do this in my life, but very worried about the time it will take me away from my family and the extra stress it's going to bring. I've been very excited to start school again, but right now, I'm terrified.

5. T.J. went to Young Men's for the first time tonight. Technically he's not 12 until the 21st, but he's going on a week long scout camp with them next week and tonight was their planning meeting. And when he gets back, he'll turn 12 the next day. So tonight is the first of Young Men's activities for us for the next 10 years. I cannot believe this time has already come.

So there's my day. There's been a lot of good, but there's also been the hard moments.

I'm glad it's over without crying much.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Blood Test Results

I really should have begun this post last Wednesday. I received a call from the doctor late Wednesday afternoon but didn't know it at the time. I'd taken the boys to the scholastic book fair. Everything there was on sale. Everything we bought was 50% off, and for scholastic books, that's a killer deal! But it was loud in their warehouse and so I hadn't heard my phone ring.

The doc left a message saying the results had come in and for the most part, everything looked good except that it had shown Cody had had strep in the last little while. He said if he hadn't of been treated with antibiotics recently, that we should put him on them just to make sure it was cleared up. He said he was the on-call doc that night so I could call him and talk more if I wanted to. But of course, that was the craziest day for us and I didn't have a second to call until 10:15 that night. So I waited until he was in the office today to call.

Funny thing though, or maybe you'd call it ironic, that this past weekend Cody wasn't feeling the greatest. Saturday morning Cody was up early and ready to head to the park for a good run. I told him to take it easy if he couldn't breath and walk it out, then start to jog easily again. About twenty minutes after they left, Hunter rode his bike home as fast as he could to tell me Cody couldn't breath. So I headed over to the park. Apparently Cody had run about half way around, taking little breaks, and by the time he reached the back side, he couldn't breath. So he walked back and sat under a tree. He was ok, just scared him a bit. We also watched Blakeley that morning, and everything was fine. Cody had her out feeding the chickens with her, and walked her all over to see all the animals. But that afternoon he started complaining that he wasn't feeling right. And by that night he had chills, a stomach ache, and when he was in the tub, we found the hives had returned on his lower back, legs, and arms. So I gave him a Claritin. And wondered if he over did it with the running this morning. When he starts something, he always goes full board.

Sunday morning the hives were mostly gone, but his throat hurt. His tonsils were enlarged, it was all red and he was draining mucus like crazy. (Gross, I know. Sorry.) I knew it was strep again. But I didn't take him in. Cody agreed to wait until Tuesday when we could talk to his doctor who knows what's going on and get the meds then, rather then take ANOTHER strep culture and take the chance of it showing negative. Cody felt somewhat better by that afternoon, was OK on Memorial Day, and went to school today. I know he has strep, but apparently he's had it for three months now and has been around everyone without getting them sick, so ya, I sent him to school.

I called and left a message with the doc's nurse to have him call me when he got off tonight. Which he did. I love that the doctor personally calls me and I can actually get a straight answer from him instead of beating around the bush with nurses. It's SO nice!!

He again said Cody's blood work all looked really good. In fact, it showed his levels like inflammation and such were lower then last year's tests. The Epstein Bar test was negative. And the only thing that showed up was he'd had a recent strep infection. I asked how recent the test would mean, and he said, "Oh, about two or three months ago."


Cody's pediatrician agreed back In February that it was weird it was negative when he took it. He, too, thought it was back. Especially when he kept having reoccurring hives and foot pain. That's why he started having me keep the daily journal on Cody. But the other pediatrician I had to take Cody into for a strep test with when our doc was out, saw that we'd just come in for the test and it had shown negative then, too, and when another one showed negative, she acted like it was all in my head. Makes me want to go back and say, "See, it wasn't all in my head! I know my kid, and knew he had it!"

Sorry, just needed to vent. This uncertainty has been building for months.

Anyways, so I then told the doctor how Cody wasn't feeling good Saturday, and by that night his hives were back, swollen  red throat by Sunday, and wasn't feeling good again. He said he'd call in antibiotics, and to keep up the asthma treatments for four more weeks. But he also wanted us to take Cody to see a Rheumatologist. He said it's weird how he keeps getting the hives so often and his feet hurting. He said this is more of an auto immune disorder and wants this kind of a specialist to take a look at Cody, and then to let him know what we find out. I appreciated his honesty and his concern for Cody, but hearing that made me sick. I worry that Cody has rheumatoid arthritis. I've honestly worried about this since last year when it was first mentioned as an explanation of why Cody's feet hurt and he couldn't get rid of the strep. I'm hoping that this doctor will just say; 'Oh we just need to take Cody's tonsils out and then he'll be just fine'. But I don't think it's going to be that easy.

I talked with Cody about this after I hung up with the doctor. He took it well. He said he's not scared at all.

I'm ready to bawl.

I wish I had the strength that Cody has. He's praying that they can just take his tonsils out and it will solve everything. And so that he can eat as much ice cream and Popsicles as he wants. Ha ha! He makes me smile.

And so, here's the plan. Start Cody on antibiotics tomorrow and continue his asthma treatments for another four weeks. Wait for the Rheumatologist's office to call to schedule yet another doctor's appointment. And try to live normal so that Cody doesn't see how worried I am becoming.

I love that kid.

(Here's a little FYI... we got the bill for Cody's blood work. They ran fourteen different tests. The bill was for $1016.00. Holy cow! Thank goodness we have good insurance for the boys right now. Another blessing in disguise.)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The First Result

This morning Cody and I arrived back at the hospital at 8:00 am for another blood draw to finish out his series of tests. He was not looking forward to this one. After being poked over and over yesterday unsuccessfully, he just wanted this part to be over with. Ya can't blame the poor kid.

Luckily, it went well today. So well that we were in and out in about 20 minutes. They were able to find a good vein right off and get it done. Cody held my hand this time as they stuck him. He looked like he wanted to cry, but was strong. I, of course, snapped a picture before it was over. I have a problem with that, I know.

The phlebotomist told us more of what kind of tests were being ordered. A bunch of allergy tests, blood cell counts for the arthritis, and Epstein Bar test, and a test to show if there was abdominal swelling. I'm not sure what that last one is for, but we'll see. Again, results will take about a week.

Around 3:45 I got the call on his x-ray. They said everything looked completely normal. Phew!! I was so relieved to hear this. My Dad was there when I got the call so I immediately told him. He stopped by today for two reasons - first, to see if we knew anymore on Cody. And second - to check out our flooding from Saturday night and make sure our basement was OK. He loves us and is always worried about us. Makes me feel good.

(And yes, I still need to post about the ditch flooding over Saturday night and flooded our place out back real bad. Luckily it didn't flood our basement yet. But somewhere under ground are hundreds of gallons of water. The ground is still squishy out back. We're hoping we don't end up with a huge sink hole somewhere, or the basement filling up.)

So for now, we sit tight and wait on blood tests results and start his asthma pills and inhaler that was prescribed. We picked those up tonight. Yesterday I received a call from the pharmacists saying the meds would be $230. But after they talked to the doc and got off brand names, we were in it About $9.47. A small blessing in life, but a big one in another way.

Monday, May 13, 2013

What Is Going On?

This day did not turn out at all how I was thinking it would. I thought we'd have different results and different answers then we got, but we didn't. To sum it up....

Cody and I spent the day at the hospital with an allergist. After months of hives reoccuring this year, and his feet hurting again, although not as sevier as last year, we finally got a referral to see an allergist.

We went through Cody's medical history from the last 16 months. From his severe strep throat and scarlet fever, to his feet swelling and not able to walk, to the hives he's had off and on since then. The hives have hit him hard since February of this year. The allergist says he's not worried about his feet swelling and hurting, or his hives that he gets almost every week. Turns out that's just his body's way of reacting to the viruses and infections he gets when he's sick. The hives can last for months afterwards. Weird... I know.

But then he started searching deeper into the medical book I had to fill out about Cody and what he's allergic to, his surroundings like animals, mold, gas furnaces and such at home, his family medical history, and so on. He did the allergy testing on him. You know, the scratch test, and tested him on 15 different types of allergies. The ones that stood out were only minimal and were for trees like maple and walnut. But yet, Cody has a lot of drainage down the back of his throat and hasn't been sick lately. So he ordered a lot of blood work to check more specifically on allergies and run the rheumatoid arthritis again.

Dang it!! I was hoping we were done with that one!

He also checked him for asthma. He did a computerized breathing test and it showed his lung capacity was only at 62%, which is pretty low. Normal range is high 80's to 90's. So they did the albuterol breathing treatment, treating it just like it was asthma, and tried two more computerized breathing tests. Again the readings showed about 62%. Even the doctor was surprised it didn't go up. He said it could still be asthma related and caused by allergies that hopefully the blood tests would show. He prescribed a pill to take at night for six weeks to help open up the lungs, besides an inhaler to use if his breathing was difficult, and said to try and loose a little weight and exercise more to open up the lungs and see if this works. Then he ordered an x-ray of his chest, and then finish with the lab work. The x-ray results will be in tomorrow, and the labs in a week. He wants to see us back in six weeks.

I worry about the x-ray. I'm praying it doesn't show a mass or something that's causing the shortness of breath. And trying to get the labs done was hard. Long story short, we were in the lab for 45 minutes trying to find veins that would work to fill four viles of blood. Cody was dehydrated from not drinking enough water at school, plus the albuteral can make veins hide. So after filling one vile, his vein collapsing, and two more unsuccessful and painful pokes, we gave up and said we'd try again in the morning before school. Poor Cody was trying so hard to be strong through this last part. But after being scratched, breathing treatments done, tested, x-rayed, and poked unsuccessfully, he was done. Not to mention we'd been at the hospital for three and a half hours. He remained strong, but one look at his big brown eyes, you could tell he was about to cry.

I never thought we'd be checking his lungs and find his are only working at 62% capacity. Never in a million years would I think we'd be doing that today. We were there for hives. Not asthma, or whatever is going on. But honestly, it makes sense. For years he's tired before everyone else when he's playing; or when Jared's training them with sprints and such; or hauling hay and struggled to breath in that dusty allergy filled air; or when he's at football practice doing the drills at the end and seeing how much he struggled with ladders. And even though he'd tell us and his coaches that he couldn't breath, he never gave up! I feel horrible that I didn't look into it more before now. But honestly, I didn't think it was that bad.

I feel like a horrible mom.

Cody got a blessing tonight. It talked about having faith and to find stories of people in the scriptures showing faith and using them as examples in his life. And also to work on controlling his anger. It said he was born with a kind heart and to use it for good. Which he usually does. He's just hot tempered if his buttons are pushed a certain way. It was a good blessing.

Tonight after we got home, I found a text from my good friend Rashelle. She explained that her husband Kent had cancer and was in the hospital. She doesn't know what kind it is yet, or what stage it's in, but should know tomorrow and asked for prayers. It made me literally sick to read this. Jared too. I haven't seen them for almost a couple years now. I've felt the last month I've needed to get up there but haven't done it yet. I pray everything goes well and he makes a full recovery.

What a day. You wake up thinking you are dealing with one thing, and it turns out to be another, and not with very good news. And then out of nowhere, your friend is texting you about the "C" word and her husband.  I know this life is full of trials to strengthen us, but sometimes I wish they wouldn't all hit at once. Or at all.

I'm going to have nightmares tonight. About the x-ray results. About Kent and Rashelle. About test results.

Sometimes you just need a good cry.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Living With Boys

I thought I'd be at a point in my life where it would be hard to surprise me. Where things that boys come up with didn't have as much shock behind them as they used to. I mean, I've lived with my husband now for 12 and a half years, had three boys of my own, and have had many of their friends who are all boys over as well. Being the only girl surrounded by boys, I thought I'd adjusted well to expecting the typical "Boy" around here. But there was another shocking "I can't believe he did that!" moment again around here today.

The closet in our living room where we keep all our coats, and sports equipment has had a funny smell lately. I was thinking we had a mouse die in there, or something like that. So finally I talked Jared into cleaning it out with me. (If there is a dead mouse, he is the one pulling stuff out and discovering it, not me! That's just gross!!) So he pulled everything out, and we didn't find a thing. I knew I wasn't crazy. Something was smelling in there. But what?!

After vacuuming it out, de-junking some of the old coats and equipment, we got it all organized again. But I still wondered what that smell was.

About an hour after putting it all back together, I noticed a vest was still out that was covered in mud. So I grabbed it, started cleaning out the pockets so I could throw it in the washer, and ended up pulling out a zip lock baggie with some mushy stuff in it. Immediately I recognized the horrible smell. And I mean HORRIBLE!! It about made me puke it was so bad. I started asking the boys who wore this vest last and what the heck had they put in the pocket. T.J. knew immediately and told me.

It was bait from when Cody went craw-dad fishing with Teegan down at the canal back in November.

Oh my gosh!!

Not only was it bait, there were cooked egg yolks in there he tried using.

It was horrible!! Cody immediately went on defense mode. Saying that because T.J. had thrown mud all over the vest, and then it somehow got hung back up in the closet, he forgot to clean out the pockets. I had to laugh at the same moment I was ready to puke. It was awful! We got that out to the garbage as fast as we could.

Once again I'm shocked at what happens around here in a house full of boys.

Heaven help me.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Little Anxiety Attack

I just registered T.J. for middle school. Yep, you read that right. Middle School. Oh my gosh. I'm going to have kids going to two different schools next year. I'm going to have a kid who's school is more then .8 of a mile away. Yes, it's still close, but it's not walking close.

I'm having a bit of anxiety.

We met at the middle school tonight for orientation. And signed him up for his classes. He's only allowed one elective for 7th grade. He was mad he couldn't choose art for a full year. It's only offered for one semester. So as a second semester choice, he chose music composition. He was not happy about that. But it was better then choir, band, percussion, and theater for him. So he settled for that. We found out they have two art teachers who are awesome, so here's hoping the art class works out for him and they have enough kids choose it to fill it.

After turning in his registering card, we walked around the school. T.J. didn't want to. But I made him. And Hunter wanted to as well. Actually, he just wanted to see the boys locker rooms. Jared has told these boys about the showers in there, and now Hunt is worried about having to shower at school. (Sometimes Jared doesn't help the situation at hand. Ha ha.) Unfortunitely the locker rooms were locked. It was weird walking around that school. It has the exact floor plan of the middle school I went to. And Jared's as well. So I took him around and pointed out places. The only thing he liked was seeing that he can bring a $1.25 and get a shake at lunch if he wants to. I showed him where my locker was in 8th grade and told them about the morning I had just got to school and was standing at my locker when I looked down the isle an saw all the lockers moving back and forth. Turns out we had an earthquake. I showed him the choir room, science rooms, the main office, the gym, and lunch room. He was sick of walking around so we headed out. But we ran into an old friend and neighbor of mine from growing up. Turns out she was a counsler there. I've known her since I was about 7 years old and played with her girls. She couldn't believe I had a kid going to middle school.

I can't believe it either.

T.J. was quiet on the ride home. So I asked what he thought. Here's the whole conversation...

Me: "So, whatcha ya think?"
T.J.: "Boring."
Me: "Aren't you excited at all though?"
T.J.: "Gay."
Me: "Are you excited for your own locker though?"
T.J.: "I just wish we had only one room we stayed in. Instead of having to go to our locker, then bring another book to another class..."
Me: "I know."

And that was it during the whole ride home. Honestly, I think he's a little nervous. T.J. has a hard time with change. But I think he'll do good. I reminded him he also knows kids from other schools that will be there from football. But he acted like he didn't care.

It's crazy to think I'm going to have a middle schooler. He only has one more time to go off track during elementary school before he's never on year round again. He's growing up fast.

And I'm getting old.

Jared likes to point out that I'm the only one who's getting old.

Thanks Jared.

P.S.... Cody was super cute tonight. While I was gone, he put the dishes in the dish washer away, made my chair all cozy with a blanket over it, made me a huge fruit salad, and a grape drink and had it waiting for me when I got home. I guess I was a bit ornery before I left and he wanted to make me feel better. (OK, I was really ornery. I was super stressed and dinner wasn't going as planned.) Cody is always looking out for me. I sure love that kid! He's such a sweetie!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Finished... The Most Amazing and Inspiring Books I've Ever Read

Last year in February Jared and I were called to be a Ma and Pa on Trek for our ward. Honestly, when Jared told me we got the call, I was excited but very hesitant to say we'd go. I'd severely blown my knee out, have back problems from the epidural I had while having Hunter, and have issues with my feet which require a little surgery. (Just a lovely hereditary thing I was lucky to get.) So yes, I was nervous. I'd always wanted to go on a Trek, and four years earlier had had a chance to go, but that's when I ended up blowing out my knee so that idea came to a screeching halt.

I wanted to go.

Jared said I'd be ok. If the Lord wants us to go, it would work out. So on February 15th, he told the Bishop yes.

A little wave of anxiety and excitement swept over me. We were going.

Being a Ma and Pa required a lot of work. I started walking. A LOT. At first it was a mile. Then two. And by the time trek was upon us, I was up to five and a half miles at a time. At first my knee was not happy. But it got better and better. And my right foot, which was the worst, would hurt about the first mile, then subside. And I overall felt really good. I lost inches. And had leaner muscles which I did not complain about! (The only thing I wish I would have practiced... walking hills. We walked hill after hill. Some quite steep.)

It also required a lot of work spiritually. I began reading -after a friend told me about this book- Gerald Lund's FIRE OF THE COVENANT. It's about the Martin and Willie Handcart Company. It was amazing! I took every chance to read I could get. Most of the time was during feedings with my 3 month old niece whom I watched. Sometimes I read aloud to her. I couldn't get enough of this book. The stories -even though I was very familiar with them- were inspiring. I learned so much more then I had already known. And how the author put actual quotes in at the ends of chapters made the book come alive even more.

During trek and the spiritual thoughts we had, I took excerpts from the quotes he used to help the youth understand how spiritual of an experience this Handcart Company experienced, but also how very hard physically and mentally is was as well. It was amazing to see on the faces of the youth after reading these actual quotes, the signs of understanding just a little more what these pioneers went through. I thank Gerald Lund for putting these in. They brought so much more to this book.

I didn't get to finish reading FIRE OF THE COVENANT before we went on Trek. Life is so busy that it just wasn't possible. And with it being 762 pages, it's not the kind of book you read in a short time.

I finished it in August. And loved every minute of it. But honestly, once Trek was over, I started sinking into a bit of depression. I didn't know why or what it was coming from, but I knew something was missing in my life. And then I realized what it was. I had prepared for hours and hours spiritually, mentally and physically for Trek. I'd read and read so much for it. Got everything prepared for the spiritual moments we'd have up there. And couldn't wait for the experience of Trek to come.

And then all at once, it was over.

One of the hardest but coolest callings I've ever had was over. I missed the excitement in the air. You could feel it at church being around the youth. You could feel it as I went walking and people in our ward would stop and ask how far I'd walked that day to get ready for it. You could feel it at the Stake meetings with the Stake Youth Presidencies and see it in their smiling faces. You could feel it as we split into our Trek families, or as we talked to the youth about how their trek clothing was coming, about if they had their ancestor name chosen yet with whom they were walking for, and as I chose my own ancestor's names and stitched them into the skirt I made.

It was over. And I missed it, terribly.

Once I realized why this depression had come over me, I started to dig my way out. I believe, for the most part, depression is a choice. And we either find what is causing it and try to change it, or we let it win. I was going to win.

I finished FIRE OF THE COVENANT and found that Gerald Lund had also written another book on pioneers. It's about the Hole-In-The-Rock pioneers called THE UNDAUNTED. I immediately checked this book out at the library once I finished the first, and began reading.

Yes, this book again took me months to read. It was 802 pages. But I loved it. And it was just what I needed. I didn't have to be done with the whole pioneer experience once Trek was over. I had a whole other experience of pioneer struggles and faith to read about. And it was amazing.

This book is incredible. The story of the Hole-In-The-Rock Pioneers is absolutely amazing! I had no idea how hard it was for them to travel about 200 hundred miles in the dessert of Southern Utah to relocate their lives because of their mission call. I had no idea how absolutely horrible the actual Hole-In-The-Rock experience was for them, along with many other near-impossible trails they had to over come. I've never been down to see the actual sites, although I want to now, but to see pictures of the actual Hole-In-The-Rock sends shivers down my spine.

Here are some from various sites I found as I googled Hole-In-The-Rock Pioneers:

  Isn't this amazing! Look at the center of the photo. See the part of the mountain where there is a hole where it sinks down a bit? That's Hole-In-The-Rock. After blasting away at a bunch of rock to make somewhat of a road passage way, they anxiously started down. I say anxiously very lightly.
Men and some women drove the wagons down, while most others including children walked down it for safety reasons.

  Here it is up close. Can you imagine taking a wagon and a team of horses, mules, or oxen down this?! The first (I can't remember exact) about 300 feet was a vertical drop. They literally stood up on the sides of the wagon as it "fell" down the first of this hole in the mountain. The sides of the mountain held the wagons up so none could tip over. And no one was killed doing this, either. Animals and some people were hurt, but nothing very serious.
 I get anxiety just looking at this.

One of the most amazing stories of coming down the Hole-In-The-Rock is about Stanford and Arabelle Smith. I won't write about it here, as I tend to write too much anyways, but wanted to mention their names so I will never forget.

Here is looking at the canyon they entered into as they came down Hole-In-The-Rock. The Hole is way back there now, just off to the left of the top of the mountain. Once down the Hole, they still had obstacles to over come to get down. They literally built a road on the side of the mountain to get the wagons the rest of the way down; cutting wagon trails into the side of the mountain. Once down they crossed the Colorado River (which feeds into Lake Powell) and then onto Cottonwood Canyon where they camped for a few days. They loved it there because of the greenery and water around them. Honestly, there wasn't that much, but to them, it was more then they'd had in a long time.

 This is a picture of an actual wagon the came down Hole-In-The-Rock. Look at the wheels and how they are held together. It's amazing to me that any of them made it down without falling apart, let along continued on through more horrible pulls and drops they faced.

I couldn't even go 4-wheelin' in a truck up some of the hills they took because I'm so terrified of heights. I cannot imagine doing it in a wagon.

Other parts of this trek did cause some injuries and some animals died because of the complete hardship this trek took on their bodies, but in the end, they made it. What an amazing story.

And so, as I come to the end of these two amazing books, I am amazed and very humbled at the sacrifices these pioneers took because of their faith in God and the Gospel. I want to end with a quote I found at the end of FIRE OF THE COVENANT. And I want to thank the pioneers who thought to journal through their journey's on the trail. Because of this, we know more of what you went through and will always be inspired and humbled because of it.

Elizabeth Horocks Jackson (who lost her husband at Red Buttes and was with the Martin Handcart Company):
"I have a desire to leave a record of those scenes and events, thru which I have passed, that my children, down to my latest posterity may read what their ancestors were willing to suffer, and did suffer, patiently for the Gospel's sake. And I wish them to understand, too, that what I now word is the history of hundreds of others, both men, women, and children, who have passed thru many like scenes for a similar cause, at the same time we did. I also desire them to know that it was in obedience to the commandments of the true and living God, and with the assurance of an eternal reward-an exaltation to eternal life in His kingdom-that we suffered these things. I hope, too, that it will inspire my posterity with fortitude to stand firm and faithful to the truth, and be willing to suffer, and sacrifice all things they may be required to pass thru for the Kingdom of God's sake."