Monday, March 28, 2011

Living In The Moment.... quit your whining!

Have you ever come back from a vacation, or even, just from an outing, and thought, 'Well, that wasn't what I expected'.  Or you thought of all the things that went wrong, didn't go your way, or just complained about the most insignificant things that, at the time, felt like huge set backs?  I have.  Many-a-time.

I remember when John and I went away for the first time, in 10 years of marriage, alone.... childless. We went to Oahu, and we were pretty excited for our first ever trip to Hawaii, and really, our first ever get-a-way by ourselves.  To me, going to Hawaii was like going to a movie that was talked up to no end, and everyone you knew said "It was the best movie ever... you are going to love it!". But then you realize that the movie was all hyped up and you didn't like it nearly as well as everyone else did. That was how I felt about Hawaii...... at first.  My thoughts of the unknown Hawaii, before we got there, was that it was gloriously sunny, plenty of room on the beach to enjoy the endless grains of sand, Hawaiian music playing in the back ground, and just pure tropical paradise.  Oahu was nothing like I expected. So busy, a huge island that looked run down in many places and the beach we stayed at was tremendously crowded.  (Many times I told John to cover his eyes). Plus, it rained a bit while we were there. It wasn't until weeks after we were home that I realized what a great time I really did have.  Pearl Harbor.... everyone should be able to experience that if you come to Oahu. What a reverent, peaceful feeling we had when we left, and felt even more grateful to our men and women in uniform.  The Polynesian Cultural Center was FANTASTIC. We were treated wonderfully there, since we were celebrating our 10 year anniversary, we got front row seats to the fire show.  The talent is amazing, the students were gracious and we learned so much about the Pacific Islands.  The mountains are stunning, and the green lush landscape everywhere is breathtaking.  The hike to the top of Diamond Head, well, it was grueling at times, but the trek to the top was worth the spectacular view.  As the months and even years have gone on, in retrospect, I look back and think, I really did have a wonderful time, and loved Oahu.  Did all the advice and comments my friends and family gave me about Hawaii stand? They sure did. I couldn't see it at the time, as our trip was over, but they were all right, in their view of Hawaii. I see that now. I just wish I could have noticed it more through the humidity and nearly naked women on the beach.

My problem, is, is that I have a hard time focusing on the here-and-now, when it comes to taking a trip.  I am probably the only one that has this issue.  But I'm learning I need to focus on living in the moment, especially when it comes to taking a trip or going on an outing with my family.

This past weekend, we took an excursion to Vida, Oregon and stayed at a Bed & Breakfast on the McKenzie River.
This was our view from our back yard, literally just 20 feet from this gorgeous river.  It was pouring down rain, and the kids were usually loud and antsy, but I decided that I needed to focus on what we were doing right then and there, and to cherish each moment that we spend with our children, even in the liquid sunshine and among all the chaos. I didn't want another adventure coming and going without my appreciating the moments we were living.

Our time away was only a short 48 hours, but during that brief time, we went on a hike along the Blue River Resevoir.

It was raining buckets, but I came prepared with boots and rain coats.... and we ventured off. I remember thinking to myself, I am going to enjoy this hike, no matter what.   And that I did.  We were fortunate to come across a new friend, one in which John, Josh and Reagan wanted to take home as a pet.
I was the one that first noticed him on the ground, and thank goodness I did.  I am not one for touching slimy looking things, but Josh and Reagan and their dad are all for it.  We couldn't come to a consensus if it was a Newt or a Salamander.  Nonetheless, it was a cute little creature that we took time to fellowship.  I asked the kids what Bear Grylls would have done with this fellow had he come across it. They quickly decided he would have eaten the critter. The kids were disappointed he was not in his same spot on our return.  (I, on the other hand, was kind of glad, because I have a feeling that dad would have brought him home with us).

If that wasn't exciting enough, we came across some bones, and not just ANY bones.
It was a skull of some animal, along with other bones from its body scattered every where.  I was okay with taking this creature home.  I figured it wouldn't cause me any headaches.  But this discovery led us to talking about the many creatures there are in these neck of the woods, and what to watch out for.

Among the bones remains and creepy crawlies, we found some cool looking drift wood that we brought home with us, and some beautiful green rocks, colors I've never seen before on a rock.  We thought it'd be okay to bring some of them home too.  My favorite moment of the hike was when Reagan was running and one of her boots fell off.  Says Reagan, "Well, that's what hiking's all about."  She had it right, with a big smile on her face too.  She was appreciating the moment, and not complaining.

Our hike was full of learning, jam packed with tangible things for us to explore, and all in the rain no less. I LOVED THIS HIKE.  We were dripping wet, but there wasn't a complaint coming from anyone's mouths.  Hailey may have taken a tumble, and Josh earned some blisters, but it was a great time had by all.

It poured nearly the entire 48 hours we were there, AND snowed just a few miles up the road, but the scenery was just beautiful.

We were living in very close quarters, on pretty uncomfortable beds, no gaming systems allowed (by mom's choice), not much Wifi for dad (thank goodenss)  lots of yelling, a fair share of fighting, mud puddles, and some generic eating out, but through all the tears, screams, rain and mud, I really did enjoy my time, while I was living it. I can look back on it and say that I truly did enjoy our adventure, while it was being lived. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

SHALL THE YOUTH OF ZION FALTER......

In defending truth and right?  While the enemy assaileth, shall we shrink or shun the fight? NO! 

In this day and time, parents have many choices of where and how they want their children schooled.  You've got Public, Private, Charter, or Home Schooling.  I have decided, for now, to stick with public schooling for a variety of reasons.  Being the conservative I am, some may wonder why I have chosen this path, as there are more and more liberal views pushed on students, and the funding of schools is completely out of hand.  I have many friends that home school, or do charter schools.  I would venture to say that we have come to our decisions based on thoughtful consideration and prayer because only WE know our children best, and what would best suit them.  This post is not, in any way, about bashing one system or the other.  As I said earlier, for NOW, I choose to go the public school route; that could change as the years go on.  The current school year my children are in, in fact, has made me reconsider if I'm doing the right thing.  Let me explain.

When Hunter (my oldest) was in the first grade, I had a very pleasant conversation with his teacher during parent/teacher conferences.  I really liked her, she was a Christian woman of faith, with the same values I believed in.  She spoke of how wonderful Hunter was, that he seemed like an "example" to others.  What she said next made my day, and confirmed my decision of public schooling. She said, "We need more children of light, like him, in our schools". Now, that just warmed my heart to hear my son being spoken of that way. Don't all parents want to know their children are doing what they should be doing, when we're not watching?  

For the most part, I have enjoyed nearly all the teachers my now 3 children, that are in school, have had.  Yes, there have been instances where I may not have agreed with certain decisions that were made, but all in all, it's been a pleasant experience.  That is, until this year. I have discovered that the temptations of the world are in full swing now, as my children are growing up. I knew it would happen. It's wishful thinking to assume it will not.  We all as parents went through it, and knew our children would encounter it someday, but now that the time has crept upon us, I don't like it. And it just confirms to me now, how very different the world is, compared to when I was in school.

I've made it a habit to pray for my children daily that they will be able to withstand the temptations of the world, that they will be strong enough to hold tight to the word of God.  I am happy to report, that they ARE trying with all their might, to do the right thing. Are they perfect?  No. They are like any other family with children their age I know.  They've got their quirks and mischeviousness about them, but they ARE trying.

This has been a tough year for Hunter. Not academically, just on the playground, or in the lunchroom.  It's when all the kids are together, playing and socializing, that it's become tough.  At lunch, if there are a few kids being roudy, or misbehaving, the whole table, or class, has to miss recess.  Standing in line, in the hallway, if one or two children are talking or goofing off when they shouldn't, the whole class has to miss part of recess.  Does that seem fair to an 11 year old? I would say no.  In the staff member's defense, I would say that it's hard, when your back is turned, or there's simply too many children, to always know for sure who the culprit was, thus, sometimes it's easier to just say, "Okay, everyone's going to have to miss recess now if you guys can't be quiet".  I'll admit, I've done that in my own home. I think we like to think we're teaching them a lesson that if you don't do what's right, it will affect other people. That is true, to an extent, but doesn't always have to be the case. I, personally, don't think it is fair that others should be punished because of an action someone else did.  Our world today, doesn't see it that way.  All around us, there are those that have to fill the void because someone else won't. But that's a discussion for another time.

Back to the school topic.  Recess has seemed to be the hardest part of the day.  Hunter has a really good friend that he likes to play with, and there are some other boys that enjoy bugging them, not playing the games right, following them around and so on.  The boys do what they're supposed to do, tell the staff member that is out there, and they are hoping he or she can get these kids off their back.  Not much has been done. That will change after Spring Break, according to the principal. They are going to supposedly install some new consequences for not so good behavior. We'll see how it all plays out. But the reaction these boys have been getting when they've tried to seek for help, has bothered them. They feel like no one is listening, and after all they've done to try to remedy the situation themselves, the problem is still there.  I have told Hunter that there will be times he will just have to walk away, after all he's done appropriately, and if that means you just don't play those games, then you don't play them.

I've been very proud of Hunter this year. He has been a helper in the Kindergarten room all year, was nominated and went to a leadership conference put on by the High School leadership committee, has had straight A's, and has been a Self Manager all year long as he has each year. I asked Hunter the other day, how recess was going.  He told me that the Friday prior, he and his friend got in trouble out on recess and the staff member on duty said to them, "You're pushing my $#%^ buttons.!".  This person didn't say the whole word, just the beginning, but the kids knew exactly what she meant.  Supposedly, the boys went to a window to see if their teacher was inside, and I guess they were not allowed to do that.  I met with the principal about this, and what it has all come down to, is he said, she said. I guess there was an apology of sorts by the staff member to the kids, but according to the boys, she was back pedaling.  The boys were accused of being 'VERY DEFIANT'.  Well, if they were so defiant, why didn't I hear about this?  These are not defiant boys. The story from the boys and the principal do not add up. I tend to believe my boys, and I will leave it at that. Regardless of whatever the boys may or may not have done, that kind of language is totally unacceptable to me. FOR ANY REASON. This is a place where children reside all day long, and to hear that those words are coming from their mouths is appalling to me. 

Now I have talked to Hunter, and all my kids, that we need to make sure we are talking respectfully, not being argumentative, and that sometimes that will mean we are going to have to take it.  But from my observations this whole year, it has become quite clear to me what is going on.  This class is said to be the class that has the most problems with recess. When they are out there by themselves, there are no problems. I know most of the kids in Hunter's class, and they are good kids, trying to do what is right, and speak up when, in their view, they see things not being done right and call them on it.  I'm not saying that the other classes are full of bullies. Hunter's own class has their own.  But I was not the first parent to speak to the principal. He had just come off of listening to another parent in that  class about the same problems.  And unfortunately, from my perspective, they don't like that these kids and their parents are trying to stand against those they and we see as not doing their part to make school a safe and fun place to be. It is obvious to me that it makes them feel uncomfortable when we try to defend our kids and stand up for them, or when these kids try to stand up for themselves.  Maybe the reason you are calling our kids defiant is because our kids have been seeking for your help all year long and you've done nothing about it.

I asked the principal at what point does my child have the right to defend himself, verbally, to a teacher, without being argumentative; when that teacher or staff member (not his teacher) tells him to be quiet, you're arguing with me, when all he's trying to do is defend himself and give his side of the story?  He explained to me that many times kids, in the heat of the moment, will say things and it can come off as being argumentative.  My response..."Just like the staff member outside, was in the heat of the moment when she used foul language to my son."  I said it goes both ways, that we do not use that kind of language in our home, and I don't think it's right for my children to come to school seeing these people, who are supposed to be teaching them, using it. What kind of a message is that sending to them?

Okay, I realize that this is somewhat of an insignificant example. There are much worse things that can and will happen.  But it got me thinking of what his first grade teacher said. Hunter is trying to do what's right. Is he perfect, no, and I know that.  Are there things he could work on? Of course, we all can.  But I don't want to see him ever shun the fight.  Did I feel like yanking my kids out of school because it was clear to me that the staff was more in defense of themselves rather than my son? Yep, I sure thought about it. But I realized that I can't back away when things like this happen.  What am I then teaching Hunter? That I WILL shrink the fight?  I can't.  And I realize that there are still many good and wonderful people there that do like being around our children and sincerely do want to teach them.  Public school isn't perfect, I don't believe there is a perfect situation to be quite frank.  If they can make it through school, they can make it through anything. If Hunter, and all these children just keep pushing forward, then FAITHFUL AND TRUE THEY WILL EVER STAND!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Extreme Soul Makeover

I remember about 7 or 8 years ago, that show, Extreme Makeover, which was for humans. I always thought it was amazing how, in a 6 week span, those people could look one way, and then look like a completely different person, unrecognizable. And then there was the spin off from that show, Extreme Home Makeover, for houses.  I love that show.  We usually watch it as a family. It's such a feel good show about helping out a family in desperate need, with a new home, in just ONE week.

Lately, I've pondered a lot about "makeovers", remodels, and updates when it comes to homes, but also how some of the same principles in remodeling a house can be applied to remodeling our soul.

Right before John and I were married, we purchased our first home in Ogden, UT.  It was in VERY bad shape. It needed a complete remodel, not because it was just "outdated", but because there were many things falling apart, like, a garage door, and cat smell that needed to be gone, among other things.  John was determined to take care of it. And that he did.  At first, I wasn't too sure about this purchase, but he saw the potential that I could not see, at the time. I went home to Oregon for about a week while he remodeled the kitchen.  I came home to a bathtub full of dishes he had not cleaned.  He was waiting for me to come home to do that part. I would have to say that was the most stressful time of the remodel. We lived there for just over 2 1/2 years, cleaned it up, made it pretty and sold it.  All it needed was a little TLC.  John had plenty of it (and I contributed a pinch, too).

What did I learn about the remodel of our first home together? 1)I learned that John is a super hard worker. 2) I learned that gardening can be theraputic.  After McKenna died, I wanted to dig my hands in the dirt and watch something that was bland, our front yard walkway, turn into something that was beautiful.  I bought a bunch of purple pansies and planted them all along our walkway from our driveway to our front door. (That's about the extent of my gardening skills). I must say I was sort of pleased with how it turned out. It made such a difference to the front of our house. And 3) I learned that hard work can produce an immense amount of satisfaction and that it's okay to have pride.... pride in ownership and the desire to make something better.


Well, we ventured back to my home town, to settle down. We decided to purchase land and build a home.  The thought of having something new was dreamy. John, of course, is confident he can do this himself, with the help of some friends to do the work he doesn't want to do.  I remember sitting in the office of our loan officer as we're getting ready to sign papers to buy the land and get the loan for building the home and he tells us that building a home can be the cause of divorce in couples. Now isn't that lovely to hear.  Did he not want us to go through with the loan, I mean, isn't he getting some cut of this enormous amount of interest that will eventually be paid on this purchase? John and I could have said, "Well, we'd better not go through with this then." We shrugged it off, not worried one bit.  And he wasn't the only one that had such profound advice, either. We went to Home Depot to look at kitchen cabinets, get a kitchen layout design and the home depot "you can do it, we can help" employee asks us, "So do you want your marriage to last?"  Well, if that's their idea of "help" they need a new motto.  I guess there are couples out there who's marriages can't handle home building or remodels. I suppose the Home Depot employees weren't "helpful" enough for them.  (I don't mean to tread lightly on the subject, it can definitely be a stressful thing on marriages.)

It took about 9 months to build the house. Lots of late nights and busy Saturdays were dedicated to building our home for 3, that would grow to 5 while we resided there. But even though the house was "done", there was always something else that needed to be worked on..... landscaping, a vegetable garden, eventually a sprinkler system, finishing the bonus room, adding an AC, the list was always there, and never seemed to end.  So as I look back and discover what I learned through the process of building from scratch..... well, things never get done when they're supposed to, but when they do, it's worth the wait.  That's about all I learned on that one.

Then, the decision came to sell after living there for 5 wonderful years, and buy the home we live in now; the home I grew up in.   It wasn't John's home that he grew up in, he wanted to make it "his own", have his mark on it, and I was okay with that. My dad was in the home building industry as well as John, so they both had and have an eye for things that I cannot always see. 

We've lived in this home for 5 years, and the remodel is still going on.  I knew it wouldn't be a "quick" fix, and that parts of the home would have to be done in stages. Some wonder why we bother "fixing" things up, or changing things around, when it's perfectly fine the way it is.  Well, that's true, to an extent.  Some things we've done didn't "have" to be done, but if there's one thing I've learned about John, and all these years of building and remodeling, he loves to work, and can't sit still for a minute.

We joke about being done with this house one day and then saying to each other, "Well, it's time to update".  I'm hoping that won't happen.  But through all the mud, grime, studs, paint, drywall dust, plumbing leaks, an enormous amount of recessed lights that anyone could ask for, there have been some worthwhile lessons along the way that have, at least for me, given my soul a makeover.

1) As I've watched John do the majority of the work on these 3 homes, I've never heard him complain... yes, maybe there's been a gripe about something not working right, but never have I heard him moan or groan about what needed to be done. Me?  I can't say the same thing... I complain too much about things of little significance. And what does it solve?  Not a whole lot I've come to realize.

2)  When things break, you fix it.  Don't whine about it; rather, make a plan and get it fixed. Me? After I whine, I THINK I'll feel better, but never has it solved any situation. There is always a plan, a way to make the situation better, and it's a choice I have to make.

3) Painting.... oh how I dislike painting, especially the prep work for it. I admire all painters who choose that for their livelihood. I could never do it. How does that apply to me? Well, walls (or objects, such as furniture) are usually painted, because we don't like the surface on which needs to be painted. Applying that paint covers all the blemishes, the marks, the ugly colors, and turns it into something pleasant to look at. I LOVE a freshly painted room. I "freshly paint my soul" by trying new things, broadening my horizons, reaching out of my comfort zone. Sometimes, there is a meeting I may not want to go to, and go back and forth thinking, 'should I go, should I stay home?' over and over in my mind. I'll end up going, and walking away in the end so happy that I went, and didn't miss out on the opportunity to have my soul painted with words of wisdom, love and
the fellowship of good friends.

4) Sometimes walls and studs need to be knocked down and replaced, or gone forever.  Okay, I could go on and on about this one. Recently, we knocked down several walls in our home to open up the space, and in one area, we put up studs to prepare for a new wall.  As I think about my own soul, I think about what needs to be "taken down" or restructured.  There may be habits that need to be knocked down, and kicked out and never brought back, to allow more space in my soul for the good things.  And there may be some areas that just need to be tweeked, or adjusted to improve upon what's already there. This can be a hard area of our character to change.  It's not easy to remove a "bad habit" or character trait (one's that aren't pleasing to us, or others) and be totally rid of it.  It takes time.

5)  Floods are good for you.  This past December, between Christmas and New Year's, John woke up at 2 a.m. to a flooded basement, (and of course, in our newly remodeled basement). The flood affected our entry and 5 rooms. It was not fun sweeping water out our front door, vacuuming buckets of water from the carpet.  But, we learned some valuable lessons from this.  John had prayed, the night before, that he could become more organized. Wha-la!!! Nothing like a flood to get you more organized.  It forced us to have to do some things that DID make him more organized... it was a blessing in disguise, and has kept us on this drive to stay organized.  Being organized with the business, with our closets (I had no closets before in some of the rooms, but after the flood, I got my closets!!) has made me ponder about how to be more organized in other areas of my life, my soul in particular.  (Sorry for the over use of the word "organized") Am I reading my scriptures daily, saying my prayers daily, fulfilling my church calling to the best of my ability and preparing for it like I should.  Those things, in particular, help my soul, more than a closet with shelves and rods.

One of my all time favorite quotes by CS Lewis:

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace!”

I couldn't have said it better myself.  When I think about this house we're in, and someday finally being done with the remodel and updating, I wonder what we'll do with our time? Somehow, I don't think the "honey do" list will ever go away.  And I don't think the pruning and tweeking of my soul will ever be finished either.  But that's okay, because as I see how my home is being improved and updated... my soul is getting a makeover too. And no 6 weeks, or one week, as in Extreme Home Makeover, can complete the transformation God has intended. It is a lifetime of "soul improvement" that I need, and I'm ready for it. How 'bout you?












Thursday, March 10, 2011

I'm new at this.... bear with me

I finally did it, after all these years of wondering if I should; deciding I'd better do it; got it done, then left it for a year. No posts, no pictures, I didn't even tell anyone I HAD a blog. But, I've had the itch lately, to finally join the ranks of all my blogging buddies and venture out into this world of communication that is creeping upon me ever so quickly.

So what's the purpose of this you might ask? Why would you want to discover the happenings in Shelley's life, and family? Well, I don't know. Maybe you won't, maybe you will. It might just be some boring old post that you find no interest in. (My life's pretty boring, so there's a heads up already for you.) But, lately, I've had an itch (there's that word again, I'd better scratch it before it gets out of hand) for writing. I've had a desire to write in my journal more. I'm pretty sporatic when it comes to the journal writing. I'm trying to get better, instead of the maybe 3 times a year entry. And as I've used Facebook to reconnect with family and friends, and have started writing a few "notes" or events in my life, it got me thinking, I really do want to start a blog. (I won't confess how long it was before I realized what a blog was..... I'm pretty late in the game when it comes to things like that). But I will say, it wasn't recently. I have known for awhile, I just don't catch on like the average person.

Another reason I decided to start this was because I recently got a new calling in our church (a calling is like a church assignment, or job) which happens to be teaching the children music. I LOVE IT!!! Now, I can navigate my way around the internet fairly well, enough to find the sites I love that help me in my calling. The more sites I went to, the more I loved what I was seeing; with the blogs that is. I will in no way have a "Primary Chorister Blog" as many choristers do. I am leaving that to the experts in that field. I'm a great borrower of ideas..... don't have too many of my own worth dedicating a blog to.

But the main reason for the blog is to write, and to share the events of our family as they become worth sharing. I wouldn't call myself a great writer, probably not even a good one. But it's something I want to become better at, and improve upon. I love, love, LOVE to read, and..... well, reading and writing go hand in hand (I'll keep the other R out if this, as I'm not that great in that area either). More importantly though, my hope is to share a bit of myself, to you.

So I'll start off right now, by highlighting some basic, yet most likely, very boring facts about me. Let's get acquainted.....

* I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints....I love Church
* I am a conservative. Nope, not a republican, but a conservative... and yes, there IS a difference.
* I am the mother of 5 beautiful children, 4 living
* I am the wife of a very hard working husband
* I have a job, sort of... I do the books for John's electrical contracting business.
* I live in the home I grew up in
* We are in the middle of a remodel of this particular home
* Cooking & baking are not my passion... but I think John wishes it were.
* As I said before I LOVE TO READ!!!!!!! Give me a good book, and I'm lost for awhile
* I love word searches
* I love to make home made cards, and WOULD love to scrapbook..... I'm so behind
*I love to go walking
* I love to sing

Okay, that's it for now. Most of you probably already knew all that anyway. The two posts below, were written on Facebook, and I copied them for here, so if you haven't taken a look, be my guest. It will give you a glimpse of our little life so far. There's a lot of "in between", and someday I may get to that. But for now, this will have to do. I'm off to bed. Sweet dreams

Raising Daughters.... tougher than I thought it would be

First child born to John and I, a beautiful angel we named McKenna Claire. She didn't live long here on earth, just barely 4 months old when she passed away, but she had a hair bow on that little head of hers every day of her short life.

It was pretty much the only feminine article of clothing she ever wore. Yes, on occasion she had a dress and an outfit or two to wear, but 97% of the time, she was nearly naked as a jay bird, except for her diaper. So the hair bow was very important to me, to be able to do those girlie things I longed to do. (I got REALLY irritated one day when one of her transplant doctors came in and said to me, "So how's he doing today?" I looked up at him, glared and said, "SHE is doing well.") I guess the bow wasn't enough for him to tell the difference.

And then came Hunter. Our first boy, and first healthy baby. To tell you the truth, I was secretly hoping for a boy. I wasn't ready to jump right into having a girl after what I'd just experienced with McKenna. I wanted things to be different, and that meant having a boy. That sure would make it different. I loved focusing on boy things and having a completely different experience with this new baby. I didn't want to be reminded of everything I was missing out on. I told Heavenly Father..."If all I am blessed with is boys, I'm good with that." Now, don't get me wrong, I didn't think having girls was bad, not at all, but it's hard to explain how that feels unless you've gone through it. And to those that have, I may not make any sense to you. But that's okay. At the time those were my feelings.

26 months later, Joshua joined the clan. Wow, talk about a different kind of baby. Yeah, all the physical stuff was the same, but personalities between he and his big brother Hunter were like night and day. But, again, I was happy to have another boy. I was glad that these two boys would grow up close in age, would share a room, and be good friends. Josh is one goofy silly boy... but the "boys" topic is for another note. On to the next kiddo to join us.

Alright, I'll admit it... by this time I was really hoping for a girl, but would have been sooo okay if it were another boy. I was fine with either outcome. So, when we found out "it" was a "girl" I was back to thinking about girlie things, and getting her room ready, clothes bought, girl names to choose from. 6 years was a good time span to get me ready, yet again, for a girl to mix things up in our family. I didn't allow myself to think about any of these things until after the amnio, which meant being 5 months along. At that point we knew that we were going to have a healthy, robust girl with lungs that worked. And let me tell you, THEY WORK, to this day. Perhaps some of you have "heard" them. Those of you that live close to me, it might be hard to differentiate between her lungs, or mine.

I often said (and sometimes do to this day) that if little Miss Reagan were my first, she'd have been my last. Now, don't get all worked up... this is not a negative writing about my daughters. But it's not all been peaches and cream and a bed of roses. I am sure my mom says to herself...... "Pay back" and "Like mother, like daughter." I can hear it now. And I wouldn't blame her, not one bit. (I can see her laughing right now) I'd say the same thing if I were a fly on the wall and observed the happenings in the Ramirez household.

Reagan was the perfect name for this babe. To me, it symbolizes strength, and boy does she have that. (Of course, we did like the fact that one of the greatest Presidents that ever lived carried that name, and she happened to be born the summer Pres. Reagan died.)

So, I kind of waited a little bit longer to have our last baby, Hailey Grace. And boy, is she my saving Grace. It was nearly 3 yrs. and 4 mo. after Reagan that she came to be with us.

We are having our amnio, like we always do at 16 weeks, and they say they are pretty sure "it's" a girl. We would find out for sure via amnio in the next month when the test results came back (Oh, I guess I should mention, that due to our fabulous genetics that John and I carry, and because of what happened to McKenna, I would have an amnio each pregnancy to determine if this baby had the same disease as McKenna). But John and I were so surprised. We really thought we were going to have another boy. But I thought.... 'Hey, that's good, she and Reagan can share rooms, they'll be friends, can play together.' Boy, did I have another thing coming!!

I was kind of exhausted by the time Hailey entered the scene. But I was not prepared for what lay ahead. What 'THAT' would be, was more than I thought I could handle.

A few hours after Hailey was born, I was holding her, and Reagan was in the hospital room sitting on the couch staring at her and says, "Why do we need her... we already have dolls at home?" I thought it was kind of funny at the time. That was just an inkling of what was to come. Hailey is now over 3 years old, and some days I think Reagan wonders still, why are you here Hailey?

Who ever said potty training girls was easier than boys..... is WRONG. At least in my family. The boys were a breeze, potty trained by 3 or sooner. One girl, that shall remain nameless, was nearly 4, and the other has no desire right now. For the past two months, she's told me, "Tomorrow". I keep threatening to myself that I will not buy any more diapers when these run out. But there I am again, at Costco, buying in bulk. But here's what I think about diapers, and Hailey....... she's my last (at least I'm pretty near sure of that) and when she's through with diapers, I'm through with babies. She's a Sunbeam now, not in nursery. She's growing up too fast. and she weened herself off her binki. So I can handle the diaper thing. It's what I have to hold on to, to keep her my baby. As long as she's in undies by Kindergarten, I'm good with that. And that won't be until September of 2013. I've got some time. (I just may have to move to Depends, instead of diapers if that's the case).

Here's the difference between boys and girls (at least under my roof). Girls are dramatic, boys are not. Ugh................ I never realized we'd be going through so much drama and she's only 6 1/2, and the other's only 3. Sassy talk.... yep, lot's of it. Moody... John would say, "Like mother, like daughter." I don't usually get upset when he says that either, cause I know it's true. Can't argue with the obvious now. Hormonal? I'm bracing myself for the teen years. I can see it now, I've already played out all the scenarios in my head.

How many times can one child (and sometimes both) change their clothes, over and over, and over and over..... well, apparently, as often as they like. I heard I did the same thing.... hmmm, maybe that's where they get it?

Babysitters.... now THAT'S a trial in and of itself. Never had a problem leaving the boys, yet leaving the girls, and really, just one in particular, is a chore. There have been many an occasion, after the baby sitter has arrived, that I've canceled my plans and just stayed home. I feared for the baby sitter, and didn't want her hating me after I left. Did that particular child get her way? Yep, she did, but it was a battle I chose not to fight. It's not so bad leaving now... I am smothered by hugs and kisses galore by both girls before I leave the door. I can't argue with that, can I? How can I not feel so loved by them, and actually missed, by them. And when I come home, I am greeted outside on the driveway by them. They are anxiously waiting for me to come home. Love it!

So amidst all the drama, the messy rooms that are never, ever clean longer than 2 hours, toys spread throughout the house, milk on the counter, toilets not flushed, "art projects" never cleaned up, sassy talk, tears from sibling rivalry, food wrappers left in rooms they know they're not supposed to eat in.... I wouldn't have it any other way.

How can I complain when Hailey comes to sit on my lap and goes back and forth from cheek to cheek kissing me all over, followed by a snug hug. How can I be mad at Reagan, when nearly every day I am given a home made card that says, "I love you so much mom, you are the best mom, I love you so much." And that, after we've gone on a yelling spree. Do the tantrums get old? Yep, but so am I, and I don't want to miss out on all the wonderful, good, sweet things that my girls bring to me each day.

Do I need more patience? Buckets of it. Do I need a softer answer, as opposed to wrath? Yes, admittedly so. Do I wish I did certain things differently? Yep, all the time. I'm realizing though, it does little good to dwell on the negatives, and say, "What if?" I am my girls' first role model, I am their mother. For some strange reason, they still love me and want to lather me with smooches and cuddles. And when they do, I realize how very blessed I am to BE their mother. They could have gone to anyone's home, but they came to mine. They teach me more than I could teach them.

Is raising daughters tough in today's world? So much more so than when my mom was raising her 4 daughters. It scares me to send my girls off into this world that can be so cruel, vile, deceptive, and unkind. But, I know there is much more good than there is bad, and that is because, partly so, of millions of mothers who are raising good, strong, kind and generous daughters to be what the world needs right now. I often say that Reagan's feisty temperment will be to her benefit someday; her strong will. I know she, and Hailey, will need to be strong enough to stand for what is right and moral, in this often times corrupt world. I just hope and pray that I can be the kind of mom that can lead them in that direction, and help them never to lose sight of who they are.

VALENTINE'S DAY - A Bitter/Sweet Occassion

by Shelley Boice Ramirez on Friday, February 11, 2011 at 5:17pm
For the longest time, I've wanted to write down my thoughts about this special holiday and why I love it so much, and at other times, why I dread it. For the past 13 years, when this day rolls around, I feel both emotions at the same time, but at the end of the day, knowing that this day brought much sorrow to my heart, it also warms my heart because of what I have waiting for me, someday.
I like to think of McKenna being held by Jesus, shortly before she was born, October 21, 1997. And I like to think of him saying to her, "You have a hard road ahead, although it will be short, but I know you can do it, and I know your parents will love you all the more for it. I'll be waiting for you when you return."
It wasn't but a few seconds after McKenna was born, in Ogden, UT, that doctors knew something was wrong. She wasn't breathing the way a new born should. After about 45 minutes in the room, they let me hold her for, literally, a minute, and John went with her to the NICU, where it was determined several hours later that she needed to be helped breathing by a ventilator, indefinitely, until it was determined what was wrong.
At 3 weeks of age, a diagnosis was finally made, she had an extremely rare lung disease: Surfactant Protein B Deficiency, she being the 17th person in the world diagnosed with it. It was then that we decided to go ahead and have her "blessing" where she was given "a name and a blessing" on the records of our church, and throughout her life. The only cure at that time (and still, today) was a double lung transplant, which would happen in St. Louis, MO at St. Louis Children's Hospital.
The night before we all flew out to St. Louis, December 6th, was the first time since she was born, that we could hold her. It was wonderful, to be able to actually feel her weight, and see a profile of her that I wasn't used to. She was absolutely beautiful, to me, and I was thrilled for the upcoming event that I KNEW would be life changing. But, little did I really know, what was about to happen.
Upon arriving to St. Louis, it was discovered that one of McKenna's lungs had "popped" (as if she didn't have problems already with her lungs) and she was deteriorating. The only option was to put her on a heart/lung machine, to give her body a rest. After some thought and prayer about this, because it could be life threatening, we decided to allow the doctors to do this. She was on this machine for a week (in photo above), and it was definitely a scary time for us. I had thought to myself, 'We've come all this way, not for this, please hang on and get through this.' Fortunately, she survived the procedure, and it did exactly what her little body needed, to rest and recover.
Christmas came, and it came with more excitement too. We got a phone call during the night, on Christmas Eve, that McKenna had coded. We didn't know what that meant, but were at the hospital 5 minutes later. (Thank goodness for the Ronald McDonald house where we were, that was just a few blocks away). They had been trying to revive her for about 1/2 hour. John called our bishop, who came with another friend, and they gave her a blessing of healing. Her heart started beating, and after some brain scans, it was determined, that even after an hour of CPR, there was no brain damage and she was "okay".
Now, when you or your loved one is on a donor waiting list, you can imagine how hard it would be to pray for a donor. Although we were going through a trying time, pleading with the Lord to allow our baby to live, someone, on the other end, is having to deal with saying good bye to THEIR loved one, and making the heart wrenching decision to donate their organs. My prayers were filled with pleading to God, that someone, somewhere, would have the desire to donate the organs of their passing infant or toddler, and at the same time to pray for that family that they will be blessed with peace and comfort. I can honestly say the night John and I prayed together before we went to bed, and as I had my own personal prayer, I had never, NEVER, in my life prayed so hard as I did that night, that this miracle would occur. We went to bed, and at 4 a.m. January 7th, 1998, we received the phone call we had come to St. Louis to receive. There had been a donor, and surgery would be scheduled within hours.
McKenna's 6 hour transplant of both lungs went well, and her old lungs, as shown above, were so sick, that after the doctor described to us what they should look like, it was obvious that this needed to happen.
After her surgery, we felt that our lives were on the right track, we would be bringing her home in a few months, life would be good. It would challenging to raise a child having had a double lung transplant, but it would be worth all the time, effort and emotions that were spent to get this far. We were "feeling" our trial and were excited to see the blessings that would come.
McKenna was doing wonderfully, and scoring an "A" with all the doctors on her progress. John and I couldn't wait to hold her again, as we had only been able to hold her one time since she was born.
McKenna was simply beautiful. It was amazing to see her return to "normal" after her new lungs, and to be able to hold her each day, and to see her progress, and know that any day, she would get that darn breathing tube out of her, as she was nearly breathing on her own at room air. We loved seeing her eyes open more often, looking directly at John or I, and acting as if she really did know us, really did understand who we were. I look back on it now and assume that she was thinking, "Mom, Dad, I'm not going to be here much longer, and you need to prepare yourself for a life without me on this earth. My job was to come receive my body, give you joy while I was here on the earth for this brief time, and to teach you many things about love, sacrifice, faith, hope and so many things you'll learn as the months and years go by."
I truly believe, that all those times she would look into our eyes, she was saying those things. I believe she understood why she came to our family, and I know she understood why she had to go through this trail as well. Little newborns, , who are so close to the veil, I believe have an understanding and knowledge, that we adults do not have.
McKenna took a turn for the worse, about a week or so before Valentine's Day. She acquired a fungal yeast infection that spread throughout her blood stream. About a week before she passed away, both John and I had a feeling that we would not be taking her back to Utah with us, but neither one of us wanted to express that to each other.
Some friends from church encouraged us to attend a Valentine's dinner and dance, which would be on the 13th. We went, reluctantly, but while we were there, neither one of us wanted to be there, we just wanted to be with McKenna who was so sick again. We left early, went back to the hospital, spent some time with her, and said our nightly prayer with her, holding her hands. As we said, "Amen", her heart stopped. She had coded, once again, and we knew the end was near.
Morning came, it was Valentine's Day, and we met with the doctors, after they had revived her and kept her alive on meds that are only meant for short periods of time. Our bishop came to be with us. I can remember being in this large conference room, at an oval table with many doctors and other people. Someone asked if we wanted to have her baptized. We said no. We are not Catholic, and John said, "When was the last time you saw a baby sin?" The doctors told us they had done all they could, but I still was not willing to let her go yet, even though, deep down, I knew I had to, but I was looking for something. I told them that I needed an answer from McKenna. I needed something FROM her telling me it was okay to let her go. I suppose I wanted permission, I wanted her little spirit to tell my spirit that as her mother, I could let her return to her Heavenly Father. I cannot remember what was said by the doctors after that, but we left and spent the rest of our time with McKenna. It was later that day, that I got my answer. When they had suctioned her lungs, they had brought up blood. There was something about seeing that, that told me, she needs to go. I knew right then and there, that she had suffered enough, that it was time for her to "go home".
They let us hold her while they turned down the oxygen, and they did it slowly, and they promised us that she was not in any pain, which, to this day, I truly believe. We let Valentine's Day pass, and it was at 2:30 a.m. on February 15th, 1998, that our dear sweet McKenna, slipped back through the veil to be with Jesus and Heavenly Father, and all her relatives that had gone on before, to greet her.
I like to think of this, as how McKenna Claire, was greeted by Jesus. What a wonderful event it must have been. What a brave little girl she was. More courage than I will have ever had.
So Valentine's Day, a day to remember the one's we love. A day to celebrate with the one's we love. A day to look forward to a time to be with the one's we love, who are no longer here. I LOVE VALENTINE'S DAY. What better holiday could there have been, for McKenna to have finished her life here on earth. Yes, I get sad, mostly because I think of what I have missed all these years without her, wondering what she would look like as a teenager, wondering if she would have my feisty temperment, or John's easy goingness. But mostly, I just wonder what it is exactly, she's doing right now. Is she just as excited to see John and I, as we are to see her one day? I hope so.
As I think about these baker's dozen years that have gone by, I can't help but think of the tremendous blessings we have been given, especially being told we had a 25% chance of this happening to each pregnancy. And here we are, 4 children later.
I didn't know, that in many more Valentine's Days to come, that I would be able to bring more children into the world, and share with them in this wonderful Holiday. I didn't realize, that the Valentine's Days that would follow, would help me to focus on what this holiday really ought to be about. Do you love someone, anyone? Share it, tell them, show them. Is there someone you know of that needs a "valentine" not only on this day, but every day? Just as much as there are those who know they are loved, there are those who don't feel loved.
I can't think of a better day, for McKenna to have left this world, and enter a better one. Of all the days of the year, it was Valentine's Day. It makes so much sense to me now. She showed us, her parents, and so many others, how much she loved us, and how much she loved God, to be willing to come down here and endure what she did. And God showed us how much he loved us, by allowing us to experience this trial and blessing. Now all I need to do, is show THEM how much I love them, by the life I live.
It was shortly after this picture was taken, that McKenna left this life, and ours had just begun.