Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Day After

Today the workers came early.

Today the kids made eggs for breakfast.

Today I surfed for carpet and furniture on Pinterest.

Today Marty, Chris and Nick played video games together in the basement and Dan and I worked on the computers upstairs and listened to them all laughing together.

Today we all worked together picking up chestnuts in the yard, cleaning up the basement, vacuuming the house and moving trash to the dumpsters.

Today Dan fixed the holes in the floors from construction.

Today Nick and Chris practiced the piano and Marty practiced the violin.

Today Marty and I went to WalMart to buy a costume for Monster Mash.

Today Chris had friends come over.

Today Nick went to play at a friends house.

Today Marty was picked up for the dance and Dan and I took Chris to a party and Nick went to dinner with a friend and Dan and I went out to dinner and now we're going to watch a movie.

Today was a normal Saturday.

Except that today we received dozens of texts and e-mails and phone calls and treats from friends. And lots and lots and lots of love. And amongst all the normal we never forgot that today could have been so much different. Today could have held so much sorrow and heartache.

But instead Today was a normal day.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Last Night

Last night this handsome guy played in his first High School orchestra concert.
Marty and Thomas


Today I slept in. Dan got the kids breakfast and out the door and I could hear them saying their goodbyes and I thought that I didn't like not saying goodbye and not giving them a hug when they left for the day.

Today Tiffany called and I haven't talked to her in a long time. We talked about our kids and laughed as we got caught up and then made plans for a couples trip. Sometime soon.

Today no workers came and the house was quiet for the first time in over a week. I took my time getting ready.

Today I went to breakfast with friends. We laughed so hard I cried. Several times over. After 2 hours we still didn't want to leave.

Today I met a new neighbor who is building a new house. I saw her over the fence and was so curious I ran over and introduced myself. She was wonderful!

Today I ran errands -- did some shopping and gift buying and tried on a cute sweater. I bought the mascara mom said Rachel said we should all have. I wanted to make sure it didn't smear when I laughed so hard I cried. Like earlier. I bonded with a friendly saleslady.

Today I made Chris play in the yard and chatted with Marty when he came home from baseball.

Today I went to Rite Aid to buy some treats and some new batteries for Courtney's old calculator that she needs me to send to Washington. And then went to the post office to mail it.

Today a worker came in the late afternoon to start adding door trim.

Today I came home from the post office and found Nicholas carving a pumpkin. He wanted to give a birthday gift to a friend "wrapped" in a pumpkin. He'd covered the counter with plastic, got a bowl for the guts and had already cut off the top when I walked in.

Today Marty said he was headed to the football game and I said I'd see him there.

This is normal.
Today I grabbed a handful of chocolate and was surfing on Pinterest for shadow costume ideas and carpet colors. 

And then 5 minutes later Marty called to say he had been in an accident. He said everyone was okay. I said if there was much damage to the cars we should call the police. He said his car had been flipped upside down.

This is what I saw in the middle of the day:

This is 5 minutes later.
Everyone was okay. The firefighters and police officers and the witnesses that saw it happen were amazed that 3 kids crawled out of the car.  Kids number four and five decided at the last minute to go with another friend.

We feel very blessed today. Marty's two friends had to go to the hospital to get checked for injuries.  One needed stitches from several glass cuts from crawling out on the glass.  The other has severe whiplash.  Everyone is sleeping home in their own beds tonight. Parents and friends have been so loving and so grateful for everyone's safety. And that this accident wasn't a tragedy.  We are feeling so grateful that the phone calls we received were from our own kids saying they were all right.

I am so grateful today.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Lead Me, Guide Me, Walk Beside Me

Last Summer as we toured the museums of Rome and Florence 
and saw Michelangelo's magnificent David, we discovered that Nicholas 
wasn't familiar with the story of David and Goliath. 
As we quizzed him further, we realized he wasn't familiar 
with many Bible stories that we assume all children know.

So we've begun teaching a bible story every Sunday using the Gospel Art Kit.

A few weeks ago we read about Abraham (of Abraham and Isaac) 
whose own father tried to sacrifice him to the Egyptian gods. 
It's kind of a scary story. 
In the end he prays and an angel comes and saves him 
and Jehovah speaks to him and tells him to get out of the land.

However, this week in my scripture class, we discussed 
a scripture that I had missed in the summarized Gospel Art Kit version.

In Abraham 1 (vs. 15) after Abraham lifts up his voice to the Lord, 
the Lord hearkened and heard. (He hears our prayers and answers them.)

But we know from all the further trials Abraham endured,
the Lord didn't take away Abraham's problems. 
However, in a very intimate expression, the Lord promises:
(vs. 18) "...I will lead thee by my hand."

The Lord wants to not only help us,  
but to hold our hands and lead us
As a Father leading a child. 
We have to ask for his help. And then when we do, 
He will walk with us, guiding us through our trials, holding our hand.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Nick's Best Day of His Life

Nick won a chocolate basket at Cottonwood's Halloween Carnival! The carnival was last weekend but he had to leave early so didn't hear who won the drawings. Do you remember how much you wanted to win something at the school carnival. I'm pretty sure I never did.

We got a message last night that Nick was a winner!

Nick's Day:
1) The chocolate basket was waiting for him when he got home from school today. It is HUGE!
2) Tonight is "Just Read Night" which means he doesn't have homework and instead reads his favorite book for 50 minutes.
3) Dan came home from work early to practice baseball with Nick because Nick got invited to play in a tournament with the super league team tomorrow because a bunch of their regular players are out of town this weekend.
4) One of Nick's best friends came over to play baseball with Dan and Nick and gets to stay late because Nick's reading is already done.

Nick announced that Today is the Best day of his life!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My Phone and a Bowl Full of Barley

Today my phone did what it's wanted to do so many other times but I'd caught it before it could. Today it jumped in the toilet. I heard the clunk and I grabbed it out fast. It worked! It worked!

I dried it off well (and then washed my hands well). I jumped in my car and it connected to my bluetooth just fine and I had a conversation with Dan--through the Bluetooth. But then I saw the battery was dying so I plugged in the charger. And it immediately went black.

Did I fry it? The display worked, but I fried the speakers. Once I took Dan off of Bluetooth in the car and used the phone independently, Dan could hear me, but I couldn't hear him. We tried playing music and I couldn't hear that either.

When I got home I put it in a bowl of barley because I didn't have any white rice and I was using the rest of the brown rice for dinner that night. P.S.... Barley has a lot of husk dust that I'm sure isn't good for phones.

An hour later it still didn't work and wouldn't charge either so I hurried and backed it up to the Cloud.

Marty thought it would still be under warranty, but I assured him warranties were for phones that stopped working for no good reason. Not for phones that went in the toilet.  Chris said I could lie. I said I don't lie.  Nick laughed that I'd dropped the phone in the toilet.

Dan called Verizon to see if it could be repaired, but they confirmed that iPhones that have been submerged and stopped working are worthless. Apple won't touch anything that's been wet.

So he took it out to the garage and got out his handy compressor and blew air into all the small little holes. Some water came out.

And guess what? It started working again!!!

It's charging right now and it plays music and the Audio works again!!! Yipeee!

Dan's totally my Juke Box Hero!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I Passed!

Passed my motorcycle driving test so now I'm legal to ride my Vespa around the block!! 
Now if I can just get home from the DMV safely in the rain! 

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Rise and Shout

The first home game for the Cougars couldn't have been more exciting! 
Starting with what looked like a tornado brewing as we drove into Utah County. 
We were trapped in our car for over an hour 
waiting for the storm to subside and the rain delay to end. 
Finally we braved the rain and headed to the stadium 
with thousands of other fans waiting beneath the bleachers.

But when the game started, the Cougars didn't disappoint. 
An unexpected 40-21 win over Texas made the night perfect. 
Miles and Sheree came with us. 
Christopher ditched to go the the Utes game with a friend.

Friday, September 06, 2013


In addition to the closet and garage remodels, we also had our garages and front door painted. 
I think it's just the tip of the iceberg.

There is nothing better than people who show up when they say they will 
and work hard each day until the job is done.

Elite Door Design did the faux wood paint for our garages.
Wasatch Garage for garage makeover.
Closet Butler for closet makeover.
Roberto Pietro for refinishing and staining front door & shutters.

I highly recommend all of them! All were fabulous to work with!

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

First Days for the Other Half

Courtney's first day of school was last week:

Nick's was today:

He wanted to compare himself to his first day of preschool:

And here's a photo of Courtney when she was Nick's age now (8):

Monday, September 02, 2013

Labor Day Tradition

We went boating again this Labor Day with the Bywaters. We're making it a tradition! We spend the day on the lake surfing, tubing and wake boarding. That's actually what everyone else did. Stephanie and I were content to cheer everyone on, eat, chat and stay warm.

It was a beautiful day!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

My First Test in a While Didn't Go So Well

As a responsible citizen, I determined my licensed children and I should get our Motorcycle permits so we could be legal when driving the Vespa.

Of course I have no intention of driving the Vespa farther than a 4-block radius. But...

This required us to take a written test. Which required A LOT of study because according to the DMV, motorcycles are motorcycles whether they're Harleys or Vespa Scooters so we not only had to understand road rules, but also particulars about driving a motorcycle, which I haven't done since my cousins tried to teach me 30 years ago when I was 12. That resulted in me crashing into their neighbor's fence and we all ran away and didn't tell a soul.

Courtney and I studied and took lots of online practice tests and then set an appointment at the DMV and waited for an hour or more to register and take the test. We passed!  We also had to give up our hard-copy licenses for the paper permit. Which we carried during all our travels this summer and confused many a TSA Agent. (Although always ended up passing security without incident.)

A few weeks later Marty glanced at the book while getting his Driver's License on his 16th birthday, asked if he could take the test as well and passed too.  That kid and his brain!

We had to have our permits for two months before we could take the motorcycle driving test. We were allowed to drive the Vespa during that time for practice. However, by the time we called to make our appointments for the driving test, the next available was after Courtney left to college. So she had to spend another 2 hours down at the DMV waiting in line to have the permit removed from her license and get her real license back.

Mine and Marty's driving test was Friday. This required me to drive the Vespa all the way down to the DMV. I chose a less trafficked route and actually was enjoying myself. I gave myself more than enough time to get there so I wasn't stressed and did a pretty good job.  I'd practiced previously around the neighborhood and in the church parking lot and felt very comfortable giving Nick rides.

But I FAILED the test. I couldn't zip between cones or U-turn in the small allowance and once I put my foot down when I felt unbalanced. I failed before I'd completed even half the test.

Marty practiced for 10 minutes the night before and ended up passing easily.

I have registered for a second attempt in a couple of weeks. I'm not happy about the long drive down there again. I don't really want to be a quitter so I'll give it another try. DREAD!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sharing and Caring

My first U Dub Magazine arrived today. Makes me feel connected, and I like that.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Piece of Me

The day after I got home from Seattle, I tried to stay busy all day. A little piece of me had been cut off and missing Courtney was a physical pain that made it literally hard to breathe. I felt a little raw and staying busy was a good distraction.

Signs of Courtney!
You know what part of me wanted to do? Call my mom and cry.  I almost did. But Nick was home and sulking wouldn't help so we made a fun plan instead.

I took Nick and two of his friends (who hadn't started school yet either) to Airborne. They jumped for an hour while I surfed Houzz looking at remodel ideas. We had planned to stay for 2 hours, but they weren't quite tall enough for the obstacle course section so were a tad disappointed and ready to go. 

On the way I saw Scheels -- a massive sporting goods store that I'd heard actually had fun activities inside in addition to retail sales.  We spent the next two hours exploring the store and having fun -- an indoor ferris wheel, mini-bowling, putting hole and a gun arcade!

Learning to use SnapChat so I can have fun with Courtney over social media!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

It Was Hard

This is so beautiful to me. Courtney walking into her new life.
I was so glad I could spend another day with Courtney in Seattle helping her get what she needed and get settled. To leave her with a pile of stuff, rushing out the door would have left me feeling incomplete.

It was good we had the extra time because we used every second.

Sunday night after Courtney's dorm meeting, we went out to a late dinner at a burger place in a shopping center near campus. At that shopping center we saw: Jamba Juice, Storables (storage solutions for every need), the Grocery Store and Office Depot all right next door to each other. So, great. We had everything we needed for Monday morning all right by campus.

We started at the grocery store to get Courtney's must-need snacks: Mainly pretzels and cream cheese. A few protein bars. Greek yogurt and cereal for breakfast. 

Next to Jamba Juice for Strawberry Whirl for me and Mango a Go-Go for Courtney.

Then spent a lot of time in Storables which had everything she needed for organizing her dorm. (Desk organizers, bulletin boards, magnetic strips, clip-on lamp, a million 3MTM Command!TM removable adhesive hooks etc. And a lot of things that I wished I could bring home with me. (Courtney talked me into Popsicle makers in squeeze-tubes. Said we HAD to have it for home. (Boys were excited!))

Office Depot for the school-work basics.

We went back to the mall to return some things from the previous day and buy expensive moisturizer for the last time before Courtney has to purchase it on her own dime. 

And then we were done.

When we got back to her dorm, we wondered if I should just wait in the car while she carried stuff up since all the other parents were gone. I waited while she took one load up and saw SEVERAL moms and dads and families still going in and out of the building. So I was going in.

Chen, Courtney's roommate had an international student activity all day which turned out perfect because I could go up to Courtney's room with her and help her get organized. We had fun finding a home for everything and hanging her 3MTM Command!TM removable adhesive hooks in the right places to hang her bulletin boards and decorations, belts and basically anything under the sun you could possibly want to hang.  We kept very, very busy. And then it was 3:00.

I have to go, I said.

I know, she said.

I gathered my purse and packed up some things she didn't need in my bag and made sure my phone was in the right pocket and that I had my rental car keys and my wallet with my ID in it and anything else I could possibly thing of that needed being done and could delay the moment just a minute longer. Or a second. Or anything.

Then I gave her a hug and told her I loved her and I was proud of her and we both hugged and cried. And I feel like I got to say the things I wanted to say. Which I really can't remember now but I had thought a lot about before. And it was really hard. And how do you say, "Ok" and walk out the door on your daughter?

I swung the door open and there was a girl standing right there waiting for someone next door, and so I shut the door quickly and didn't walk out (because I was still wiping tears) and Courtney and I laughed because it was kind of embarrassing. And really being able to laugh and diffuse was a little tender mercy.

So I wiped my face a bit better and composed myself and then I really did walk out the door. And there was a girl at the elevator, so I said, "How do I look? Did my mascara smear?" And she said, "Did you just say goodbye to a student? You look great! No smeared mascara!" And it made me feel better to know there are nice kids there.

And you know what else? I felt great. I felt so excited for Courtney! 

I also wondered if I wasn't marveling at myself for doing something hard. When Courtney was born I was so thrilled with my new little baby. But I was also thrilled at myself for birthing a baby. And I think we've got it on video of me saying, "I did it! I can't believe I did it!" 

So, part of me was proud of myself for saying goodbye and surviving. ("I did it! I can't believe I did it!")  And also at raising such a beautiful daughter. "She's mine. That gorgeous, talented, beautiful, funny, smart kind girl is MY daughter! How did I get so lucky?" 

But I also felt peaceful. The comfort of the Spirit. Assuring me she's going to be just fine.

She's going to have the time of her life. I know I did.

I wouldn't trade the homesickness and the loneliness and all the fun times and the crazy roommates and lifelong friend roommates and being poor and working hard and being bored and going to football games and having crushes, and having boys like me, and being rejected and being in love and staying up late and being surrounded by students, and meeting mentors, and trying new sports and teaching new things to friends, and not knowing where to turn, and figuring things out, and having fascinating classes in areas I loved, and interesting classes in areas I didn't know I liked, and gaining a testimony and gaining faith and questioning who I was and becoming who I wanted to be. 

They are wonderful years. I love you, Court.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Airport Connections

After the boys left, Courtney and I dashed to Target and 
Bed, Bath & Beyond to buy everything needed to make a dorm a home.

While there we got a call from Dan. 
Here's the story:

They boys were waiting for their flight in the Delta Club. 
Christopher was wearing his Rugby shirt. 
A woman (who Dan described to me as, "Really outgoing -- like your mom!" 
approached Chris and asked him if he played rugby and said 
she loved rugby and her son plays rugby. In fact, he's trying out for the Olympic team. 
So Dan mentioned our cool nephew who was also a star rugby player 
and I'm sure he mentioned cool things like, "New Zealand" and "US Nationals" etc.

So Dan and the lady bonded. And then he mentioned 
he'd just dropped off his daughter at UDub.
She said, "I'm a UDub alumni! What's she studying?"
He said, "Mechanical Engineering."
She said, "I'm on the board of the UDub 
Mechanical Engineering Department something and something!!!"

When the woman found out Courtney was a direct admit, she was very excited and said, 
"She was one of only 18 direct-admits -- only 6 of whom are girls (women)!!"

(Courtney, You're Awesome!)

She gave Dan her business card. 
(She is the President of (or started) an Aerospace company(!)) 
Then proceeded to tell Dan, "Have her call me! 
I'll be her home away from home! I'd love to meet her!!"


And all that happened in the Delta Club at the airport 
because Christopher was wearing his Rugby shirt.

This is the Day They Said Goodbye

Saturday morning we walked over to Pike Place to get donuts, pastries and fruit for breakfast. 
Where, or where, can I find a place like this wonderful in Utah?

While purchasing pastries at Pike Place (presumably picking particular platter-sized donuts),
Courtney and I spotted Target. Right there. 
Which was the first stop on the list of the day after Pikes Place. 
(And Pastries.)

So we sauntered our silly selves slowly... 
(Seriously, I think my brain is subconsciously using alliteration 
to slow me down and focus on something else 
so I don't have to relive this sad, sad goodbye tale!)

We trotted to Target... 
(it's seriously just coming to my mind. I'm not even trying!!)

We went to Target to buy hangers 
(and got distracted at cosmetics) 
and the boys bought food and went back to the hotel to eat.

The point of needing hangers before anything else was because 
we needed to unpack all of Courtney's clothes and get them on hangers 
so the boys could take the luggage back with them. 
I was staying an extra day and 3 extra-large bags 
were too much for me to take 
(you know me, I'm a carry-on-only kind of packer).

Also, we had to hurry and eat breakfast because our next stop after Target 
was Blue C Sushi because it's too fun to miss. 
So exactly 1 hour after we finished breakfast, 
we sat down to eat lunch at Blue C. I am not kidding. 
It was that important to some little people. 
And it wasn't the kind of day for saying no.

Finally it was 1:30 and time for check-in. 
There was an hour wait for carts to pile dorm-moving in luggage in, 
but fortunately we had all 6 of us to each carry a bag (or two). 
Which we did and bypassed the cart line.  

Chen, Courtney's roommate hadn't arrived yet, so we felt comfortable 
hanging out in the room. Soon, however, we discovered we were short 
on hangers. So Dan took the boys up to Target 
to buy more while Courtney and I continued unpacking.

By the time they were back with the hangers, there were only a few 
minutes left before they had to say goodbye. 

Dan did the quick "I'm not going to cry in front of my daughter" 
or "quick pull of the band-aid" goodbye -- a strong hug 
then moved away quickly to usher the boys in to give their goodbye's.

Nick gave a good hug and then turned quickly away. 
He said a pretty jovial sounding, "goodbye, Courtney."
And had said many times, "she's coming home for every Thanksgiving and Christmas" 
so I think he believed because he was seeing her again "goodbye" was okay. 

It reminded me a lot of when Courtney (also in third grade at the time) 
said goodbye to her friends in California when we moved to Utah. 
She was sad but excited to see what moving brought. 
It wasn't until we went back and visited a few months later 
that she realized how much she missed everyone there and cried her eyes out. 

Marty was misty-eyed as he said goodbye and talked a lot -- 
I think so he wouldn't stop talking and start crying instead.

Christopher's face and sorrowful eyes were absolutely heartbreaking. 
He looked so forlorn as he waited his turn to give Courtney a hug. 
I've never seen emotion so raw and so heartsick. 
He gave her a hug and started to cry and Courtney started to cry. 
And then they had to walk out the door and leave.

I hugged Courtney as she cried. And I cried. 
And then she was almost recovered until she remembered she'd forgotten 
to take a photo of everyone together one last time.  Just then, I heard 
their voices on the sidewalk below and offered to call them back up. 
Courtney protested so I just popped my head out the window 
and shouted another hello and goodbye. Oh dear. 
Christopher looked up and looked like his heart was breaking all over again.  

Dan texted a few minutes later and said there were a lot of 
sniffles coming from the back seat on the way to the airport.

There is a dad and three brothers who really love their Courtney and are going to miss her.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Seattle Mariners

We love going to MLB games so were thrilled when we saw 
the Mariners were playing at home the weekend we were in Seattle.

Lunch in the airport. Shaeffer kids all in a row...

Our hotel was right on the water only a mile from the stadium. 
Because the stadium is in the city with everyone out and about, 
a mile doesn't seem very long.  
Especially since we became such great walkers this summer.  

We stopped for crab along the way. This family loves crab.

See Nick holding Courtney's hand? So sweet.

The weather was perfect, even a little cool. Forgot it gets cool on the water. 

After getting back to the hotel when everyone was ready for bed we...

Yep. We watched Psych. All in bed together. This family loves Psych.

Friday, August 23, 2013

18 Years Ago We Went to a Concert

A favorite band was coming to town (.fun) so Dan and I bought tickets
and then we bought 2 more thinking Courtney would like to go too and invite a friend. 
And then we realized that the concert
was the night before we would leave to take Courtney to school.

Courtney invited Lexie which was perfect
because she was part of the family for so long.
And neither Lexie nor Courtney have any qualms hanging out with parents.

The clincher is the night before Courtney was born,
Dan and I went to the Deep Blue Something concert in Fort Worth, Texas.
(Of the song, "Breakfast at Tiffany's" fame).
So I thought it was a pretty good bookend that we were
at another concert with Courtney the night before she headed off to college.

We had just enough time to stop at the taco cart for dinner.

.Fun was at Saltair out on the lawn near the Great Salt Lake.
It was actually a really fun venue -- loved being outside!

They used to be crazy, little girls!!

We sang along and danced and people-watched
and Lexie caught us up on her life
and we tried not to think about saying goodbye.
Although since we had to do it, we had .fun just before we had to do it.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

First Day for Half of 'Em

Marty started high school and Chris started Jr. High today. It felt strange getting up and doing the making breakfast and making lunches routine. It didn't really feel like it could be the first day of school. Especially since Courtney and Nick were sleeping in. And it's only August 21st. A little early.

They both had good days. Chris had no trouble opening his locker and finding his classes and figuring out if he had 1st or 2nd lunch.

Marty found a parking spot, found out he gets to go on tour with Orchestra, and has friends in all his classes.
 They both entered their new schools like it was no big deal. Here we go again!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


We've torn out our old closet shelving and added new wood shelves and drawers. 

We hauled everything out of our garage and down to the back porch while adding new flooring, storage cupboards and workbench, along with a fresh coat of paint.

I have made three trips to DI.

Courtney has boxed up her clothes, shoes and things needed for college. Other special items went in boxes to store here (Let's hope her little brothers don't ransack everything like my sisters did! Ha! Love you guys anyway!) and she has donated, tossed or sold everything else.

We are moving rooms around after she leaves -- Chris to Courtney's big room; Nick to Chris' loft room; and I create an office in Nick's room with a daybed for Courtney when she comes home from college.  So we have gone through books, toys and collections with a fine-tooth comb to toss or donate anything not used anymore.

I was awake at 4:30 a.m. today. Couldn't sleep thinking about all my pictures on my computer that needed to be organized. So got up and started organizing the good and deleting the bad.

It dawned on me that I'm nesting.  Not in anticipation of a new baby, but in anticipation of our changing life. I deal better with everything when I'm organized. Without consciously thinking about it, I've been getting rid of the clutter and putting everything in it's place so when we enter this new phase of Courtney going to college, missing her won't seem so overwhelming.