Monday, November 7, 2011

All they want for Christmas....

Is Christmas almost here? Holy COW -- less than 2 months of shopping left so I asked the kids what they want this year.
Hunter wanted Harry Potter wands, a mini ninja game and "your love" -- Way to go my boy, always wanting peace and happiness.
Kadan wants his own Santa AND Santa's helper so he can get gifts all year long. He also wants a servant, a money making machine and a candy making machine -- Mr. Dreamer, smart, wish I would have thought of this as a child. Now, if I find a genie in a lamp I'm going to HAVE to ask for Santa.
Addy wants some carpet skates (don't know what it is -- she says it let's you slide on the carpet) and a light bulb for her lava lamp. -- Just like Ms. Addy, sweet and simple.
Bo wants lots and lots of toys and it's okay if they are "baby toys 'cuz I like all kinds of toys." But she doesn't want clothes and "defininately nooooo pants" -- Well of course, she's my little stuffed animal lover will be happy with whatever she gets as long as she can play with it -- the more the merrier. She's been perusing and circling and sleeping with the toy magazines since they started to arrive last week.
Not too bad (well, besides Kadan), we'll just have to see what Santa can do :-)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Boo YAH! A Halloween party success....

The grand plans of completely redecorating the inside to be spooky haunted alley had to be scaled down MAJORLY but we still had a great time with yummy soup (made by Alicia), painting pumpkins (yawzers -- 25 pumpkins with just not enough), bobbing for apples (thank goodness for warm weather or the kids faces would have frozen off), airsoft gun wars (the boys' idea), and ending with the city trunk or treat in the nearby park. We definitely pulled it off with under 30 hours of planning (but the endless furry taught us that next time we need to plan ahead).

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Haunting....

Since we live in a house that looks haunted, we decided to decorate and have a spur of the moment Halloween Party -- let's just see if I can pull this one off. Less than 24 hours to plan, it's Sunday so I can't go shopping tonight to get goodies for the party 'til tomorrow AND I have to work at the hospital Monday until just before the party starts. Wish me luck :-)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Wallow Fire -- Just because someone ignored the rules

I just can't stop thinking about the devastation in one of the most beautiful places in Arizona just because someone ignored the rules -- a simple rule -- NO burn -- and visitors just couldn't listen and made a fire anyway. Now over 200,000 acres, thousands of families, countless wildlife including newborn calves are devastated. I just can't sleep -- wanting to help but not sure how.

I am sure that the Red Cross is sick of me now but I just can't sit an wait. "Well, we need towels" one woman said. So I round up towels. Anything else? "Well, you can sign in on our list to house families." But I am too far down on the list so no one has called. So, I go into Red Cross again. Anything I can do? Food? Blankets? "No...just hang tight. Is it okay if we call you anytime? If so, we'll call you when we need more help." So I just sit and wait and wait and wait and wait and keep busy. Burst out into tears a little. Then keep busy some more. The only thing that gives me solace is prayer. When you can do no more the best thing to do it pray. So, I ask everyone around me to pray. Pray for the wind to die down. Pray for miraculous rain. Pray to keep over 3,000 fireman safe. Pray for the families that have lost their homes, their source of income, their animals.

So, I keep praying. Then as I pray and mediate a thought of strict obedience comes to my mind. We are supposed to cultivate and take care of the land. Simple as it seems, yet we forget. Just a simple mistake from hikers -- probably kind and ordinary people who meant no harm -- yet this simple mistake will bring deep rooted scar for decades. Will the land ever be the same?

This makes me think about obedience to all of God's Commandment but too often we forget the more important commandment -- LOVE. Some may think -- oh, I only need or have time to be nice to the good looking, talented, well-educated neighbor. They are easy to love, easy to like. Yet at the same time this individual may choose to ignore the neighbor that really needs loving and constant (maybe even painstaking) nourishing and because they are too busy or too thoughtless devastation erupts. Then just like the fire, it takes decades to heal the scar and multitudes of people to squelch the harm of the mindless one that did not take the time to care.

This year, while teaching gospel doctrine I realized that each gospel principle, each commandment continually points back to love of others and love of our Heavenly Father and His Son. Doesn't matter the topic, whether it be the story of Eli the Prophet or the parable of the Talents or raising Lazarus from the dead, each points to LOVE.

This Wallow Fire is also teaching me love -- love for the land, love for the people, love for rain, love of prayer. Let's us continue to pray and hope that through simple obedience peace will come from the most devastating of circumstances.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A mom's best day...

As a mom, I am so proud of my children -- from singing in school plays to saying beautiful prayers to watching them speak kindly to others to having them come home with another 100% on a spelling test. My supremely ultimate proudest days revolve around the spiritual accomplishments of each of my children and yesterday was one of those days. Hunter, my dapper dressed sweet boy, passed the sacrament for the first time. You could tell in the way that he walked that he reverenced his duty and was so excited to participate. We were hoping that he could pass to our family but he was positioned on the other side of the church. Kadan leaned over to me and said, "Mom, I so wish that we could be on the other side so Hunter could pass the sacrament to us. He is doing such a great job."

As he finished his side row, Hunter came to our side of the chapel and passed to a little family on the front row. Addy and Bo sat so quietly as they watched Hunter. Kadan sat on the edge of the pew taking in every second. As we all watched, Hunter then turned real briefly and smiled a sideways smile at me then promptly went back to his priesthood duty. It was sweet to see the other deacons help him progress row by row and even take him by the arm and nudge him to stand after the prayers were completed. The room was filled with ultimate sweetness and compassion and reverence. Proud moments like this make me think of Heaven and gives me a glimpse of the little nudges, nodding and smiles that help us on our daily journey. Indeed, this day was one of my mom best days.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Yeah ST. George Marathon...

Did I ever say how much I love running? There are so many reasons (I will have to list those in some later post) but my absolute number one and number two are being able to chat with girlfriends and being able to "chat" with God. Crazy I know, but when I run I pray. Many times I am praying to just get through to the next mile or to be able to make it home around the bend but more often than not, I pray for guidance and for protection and for peace.

This year I was blessed (and I say blessed because the St. George Marathon is a draw with less than a 50% chance of getting in) with being able to get into the Marathon with 2 amazing gals -- Gina (the endorphin hill junkie) and Heidi (the true blue running guru). We braved the early morning 4:45 am runs 4 to 5 times per week in the snow and ice, the 50+ mile per hour winds, running on trails with wild animals (and one big huge honking can of BEAR spray) and lots and lots of crazy injuries (I had extensive blood clots, 2 vascular surgeries, quad strain and one posterior tibialis rupture) to prepare for the great event. During that time we also adopted Cami, the running gazelle, and then a whole group of drop-dead, gorgeous ladies (Becky, Rena, Sandy, Sydette, Amy, Annette) named the Running Divas. Shall I say torturous fun?

Race day October 2, 2010. My awesome, supportive Dad (knowing exactly what you need on race day because he has been there too) woke up to drive me to the race. We knelt in prayer together asking for strength, he gave me my all-time favorite quick neck rub and then soothed my nerves with some fatherly advice to not to overdo it and if I am in pain, just hitch a ride with the injured runner van (hey, that might be fun -- never done that before--he, he). Then phone calls from mom, one after the other, wanting so desperately to be present but having to work, wanting to make sure I was going to be safe and wanting to make sure that I knew she loved me.
4:45 am I boarded the bus to ride the long ride up the hill to the starting line. It was warmy-chilly waiting 1 1/2 hours for the starting gun to sound in the hills of Vernon just 26.2 miles away from the city. Piles and piles of runners were wrapped in silver blankets, laying around the fires rubbing Vaseline on lips, thighs and just about any place you didn't want to get chaffed. Pre-race excitement was so thick -- you could just feel it everywhere around you. More calls, more texts from Ian, Shannon, Karen, Mom, Annie, Dave, Annelise. Time to turn in the phone and line up.
Finally, side by side with Heidi and Gina, we heard the gun sound the start and started slowly making our way to the starting line. Heidi quickly pulled ahead (wanting to break 4 hours -- that's running under 9:10 pace for the entire marathon). Mile 2, Gina was feeling good and was making her move. I was all on my own. Immediately I started to pray (you see, just 2 weeks to the day, I ruptured my posterior tib tendon and wasn't even able to walk on my foot until Thursday before the race) and felt the strongest reassurance that I would make it to the end without pain. Mile by mile I prayed, just chatting with God, thanking Him for all my blessings and asking for direction. Occasionally I sparked up conversations with passersby (just when I started to get really tired) and was edified by each discussion -- giving me strength to continue. Ususally, I would listen to the downloaded general conference talks of years past -- this always gives me a little extra umph (even better than listening to rock music -- FUNNY). Counting down mile by mile.
Mile 8, Veyo hill, over 1.5 miles of uphill torture! Slow down. Take it easy. This is where more posterior tib injury would occur.
Mile 10, Awesome! Made it up the hill PAINFREE!!!!!!!! YIPPPEEEEEEE!
Mile 13, alright, 1/2 way there. Need a little pick me up -- time to listen to general conference.
Mile 18, oh YEAH! This is my longest training run and I am still feeling good. Still listening to conference, still praying.
Mile 18 1/2. Stopped talking then started listening. Over 1 1/2 miles of uninterrupted instruction from the Lord. Nothing more amazing, more clear, more calming than that!
Then at mile 20, as soon as I ended my prayer and was ready to hunker down for the last 10K, I heard my name being called out in desperation. It was Gina, hurt and downtrodden. She was unsure if she could make it. Here knee was ready to give way. So I stayed behind -- walking and running together for the last 10 K to the finish line.

Even with Gina by my side, I was getting really exhausted -- my legs were tightening, my strength was diminishing,the 90+ degree heat was zapping all my energy. Being too tired to talk out loud, Gina and I separated by a few yards. I knew I just had to focus on finishing. Keep on going. Keep on moving one foot in front of the other.

Mile 23 grabbed cups of Gatorade and water. So Thristy! Keep on running.

Mile 24 given two cold wet towels. So refreshing. Keep on praying.

Mile 25 keep on going, only 1.2 miles left. So tired. Wanna walk. Come on, I can do this. Keep on running.

Mile 25.2 "Jen,"I heard my name being called by a beautiful blond with a thick bouncy ponytail standing on the roadside. "Jen...." thinking to myself, Wow, that is cool that this beautiful girls is cheering for another gal running with my same name -- I will just pretend she is cheering for me. I kept on running.

Then again "Jen...." as that cute blond looked directly at me and waved fiercely and smiling wholeheartedly. I turned my head around to see if there was another gal running beside me waving back at her -- Nope, nobody but me.

Then again, even louder, I heard "Jen.... It's me Karen." Leaning forward, focusing in, I finally recognized that the beautiful blond was my amazing baby sister K. She quickly came over to me and started running beside me in her flip flops. "You're almost there.... You're going to make it.... You're so amazing, you can do this...." For a mile she gave me all I needed to keep going. Then when she could not run along side of me any longer, I sprinted with all my might, unable to feel my legs but knowing that they were propelling me forward, until I heard my Dad, Mike and Heidi yelling my name, cheering me to the finish. I MADE IT!!!!! I MADE IT!!!!! Nothing short of a miracle. I MADE IT!!!!!!! In the end, it was broken down little ol' me running it across the finish line with the most fabtabulous, awesomeist cheerleaders surrounding me with hugs and phone calls and texts and prayers, all congratulating me on this major accomplishment.

Now, I have run 3 marathons, 2 half marathons, and dozens of other races, but this one was special. I may not have run as fast as I would like or have had the best finish, but this race is one that I am most proud of finishing -- I know that my ability to finish was indeed a MIRACLE.
BTW -- like my crazy CEP pink compression socks -- only the BRAVE and the strong can wear these puppies (he, he). They are my favorite. Ya'll gotta try them.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Please, let this be the answer to my prayers...

I wrote this post on 4/18/2009 and wanted to share it now

I feel inspired to share one of the hardest and deepest and most heart wrenching struggles of my life. I hope that those reading this will understand the sensitivity and sacredness of this subject to me. Yet, for some reason, I feel that I must share this with you.

Beginning over 8 1/2 years ago I started to notice that my sensitive, loving, secure and brilliant 16 month-old son was changing. A once talkative and without-fear boy stopped talking, starting being afraid to being alone (even for a minute) and stopped eating everything in sight (instead he gaged on almost all his food). The worry of the young mother was discounted due to inexperience and sense that I was "over-reacting." After years of worry and the encouragement of my family, I started to get testing for my little boy. First came speech, then came psychologist, then PT, then school based testing.

Year after year I was told, "Hunter is special.... We really cannot put our finger on what is going with him.... He may be autistic.... He may have a learning disability.... We do not have any answers for you.... Well, let's put him on this med and that med even though it might not make a difference.... Oh, so that medicine isn't' making a difference, let's double the dose and add another one.... Since that therapy didn't work, we will try this.... Now let's get EEG's, EKG's, x-rays, full IQ testing, etc., etc., etc" The list was never ending and I kept asking myself, "Is all this stuff hurting him even more?"

Wonderful friends introduced to me methods new to me -- organic foods, special private tutoring with instruction on visual stimulus and whole body learning, music therapy, sensory integration techniques and on and on. My parents counseled me and fasted for us and prayed for us and received inspiration to help us. Yet, I still felt like I needed more answers and I needed to be able to help my son MORE.

The school system in MI was excellent for Hunter (PT, OT, speech, resource room, social groups, hand-selected teachers) but at times I thought to myself, "Is all this extra time that he is taken out of class benefiting him and helping him become an independent, socially adept individual?" Each area helped Hunter in many ways but still, we were missing something.

Then we moved to AZ -- which has been both a blessing and a challenge. We live in a little bit of paradise where we can enjoy the fresh and clean outdoors. Hunter has an amazing 4th grade teacher that shares much of my same concerns and has adapted his in-class education to fit his learning. But, due to budget restraints and limited resources, many of the vital aspects of Hunter's education has been withdrawn. No PT, no OT, no social groups and only supervision speech. I keep being told that Hunter is a smart boy that is too smart for the resource room but is still struggling with basic written language. So, we decided to get help for him out of the classroom. Three days per week tutoring and then driving 3 hours each way for an hour appointment with trained specialists. Each tip took Hunter out of his much needed school routine and class instruction.

I find myself crying more often than not when it comes to knowing what to do for my little man. As a mom, isn't my sole responsibility in life to protect and strengthen and enhance my child? Will this most precious child of mine grow to be a high function adult? Will he get a great job and be able to provide for himself? Will he have good friends? Will he be able to serve a mission? Will he be happy? What can I do now to help his future? Yet, each place I turn leads to unanswered questions and dead ends.

So, I have been praying -- praying for years and years in fact. Sometimes I find myself kneeling by his bedside while he is sleeping praying for him with all my faith and all my love. As a pear up at him through my tears, I feel deeply that he is a special spirit that was sent to me to love and help. I feel blessed everyday to be his mom. Yet sometimes I feel that I am failing miserably. Do I have what it takes to fight this big battle for my son? Am I the right person to have such a special responsibility? I plead to the Lord for strength and understanding beyond my abilities.

Last night was another one of those nights. I prayed and prayed to find answers and to be lead to make the right choices for him and for my family. Then came an answer that I have received several times. "Continue to pray, read your scriptures, speak softly and take the time to research your options."

This morning, during the usual Saturday early morning grading and email checking, I felt inspired to stop what I was doing and search the web. I typed in the address bar a very specific search and as soon as I opened the link, my eyes were drawn to a little paragraph. Immediately I started to cry. At first I thought, "what in the WORLD are you crying about now?" But almost instantaneous I realized that I was following the prompting of the spirit and was researching (just as I was instructed in my prayer last night) and I was given specific direction. I know that this Holy guidance, given my obedience and continued faith, will help my son.

I love you Hunter McKay! Thank you for choosing me to be your mom.