Most people spend a lot of time dreaming about the future, never realizing that a little arrives each day.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Caleb -Trek and Babe Ruth Perfect Game, June 2014 (Caleb's journal)

This week I attended trek in Wyoming and had a great experience. I was able to meet a few new friends while experiencing a little bit of what the pioneers endured on their journey. I wasn't bothered by the walking, which made the rest of the experience easy to enjoy. I had a cool family, with the keys being the  parents (the Mackeys).  This is me with Kaylea, a girl from my family.

Last night  was probably the best night of my life. I had the privilege to live my life's dream, ever since I was eight years old: pitching a perfect game. We were playing in my Babe Ruth championship baseball game, the last one that I would be young enough to compete in .  It was Haxtun versus SedgeCo. I started off the game with a 3-0 count on a batter, and I was thinking that I had better make some adjustments if we were going to win.  Fortunately I proceeded to come back to strike out the next two batters. After 3 innings, I realized that not a single batter had reached first base. I pushed that to the back of my mind, and we continued to flow through the game. My job was to keep the pace and tempo of the game up, and to make sure that teammates were very well alive and ready to make any play to save our game. When it got to the 7th inning, we knew that we were on the edge of something great, something extraordinary. I worked myself to the final out, then had to stop and think for a minute. "Ok, if he gets on base, at least we can still win..."   It  didn't matter.  Ground ball to second base, Joey made a clean throw to first, done deal. History was sealed.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

How Was Your Weekend?

I hope I remember this day for a long time.

Often, our days seem monotonous, hectic, or just unremarkable.  I've had a lot of those lately--so many, actually, that I was starting to be afraid that life was giving up on me. Not fun.

This weekend, something changed.

Yesterday was a good day, but I've had a lot of good days. Jared and i were able to spend some quality time together, and we went furniture shopping and grocery shopping and did some stuff around the house. It was  good day, but not an off-the chart-amazing day.

Today was an amazing day.  I was really looking forward General Conference, and I wasn't disappointed. (General Conference is a Mormon thing--it's a televised meeting that happens twice a year. Leaders of our church speak, and the kids love it because we get to stay home and watch it on TV.)  During college and at other times, I've looked forward to conference and been so uplifted by what I've heard. Today, I had that same experience  and it was NOT monotonous or mundane or boring. It was beautiful and memorable and because of that I want to do and be better. I want to be able to meet God and say, "You blessed me, and I knew it, and I did everything I could to live worthy of those blessings and to show my gratitude." I want to hear "well done, thou good and faithful servant" and to know that those words are meant for me, not someone else. I need to get busy and be better. 

Monday, 13 March 2017

Summer 2016 : July and August

Our prelude to school was crazy!  We had about 11 doctor's appointments within a ten-day span in August:  physcials for school, which led to Caleb having an EKG and Echocardiogram, both of which were normal. (The doc was concerned because he had both a heart murmur and brachycardia. I wasn't worried about the heart murmur, since I have one, but the doc was concerned  about both together. Had I realized that my dad has a very low resting HR, and thought about the fact that mine is fairly low, I wouldn't have worried)

At the end of a crazy two weeks, I saw that Haxtun was hiring an aide and applied. I was hired on the spot--one week till GO and still some doctor's appointments to go to.  Though I knew I needed a job, I had been looking forward to some peace and quiet when the kids started school.  Well, that went out the window.

 But before I get into the school year, here are some pictures from July and August:

Isaac went fishing at the town fish pond a couple of times.  This is he and his friend Mac.

Corbin enjoys scouts and worked on his bear requirements all summer long. 

 He went to day camp and loved it. 

We went to the Pawnee (Prison) Branch BBQ and Corbin had fun playing with Angela and Christian. 

Corb also spent a day at Jumbo Reservoir with his friends Grant and Zach Statz. He got to try tubing and loved it! 

We went to Jumbo Reservoir for our family day, too, since I'd never been there. (I really wanted to ski or tube, but we don't have a boat, so.... it's so sad. We live in a place hotter than Hades and there aren't fun places to get wet.Well, it was frigid on this day, so it worked out okay. I still want to ski, though!) 

The girls don't look too happy. 

Caleb and Christian Nielsen 

Kenna and her friends Dawson, Riley, and Callie before the Logan County Fair concert. 

Corb had fun playing in the tent for a few days. He and I slept in it, too.  It was mid-August and the night was cool but pleasant.  

Taylor left for Fort Collins one Saturday in August. She and Corbin are good friends. :-) 

This was the first day of school.  Caleb's a senior, Kenna's a sophomore, Isaac's in 7th, and Corbin is a 3rd grader. 

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Kathy Condie & Chuck Edwards

Sometimes we meet someone who changes our lives forever.  In the seventeen years we've been in Haxtun I've met several of those people--most by accident. It's only by looking in the rear view  mirror that I can really see the effect they've had on me.

Sixteen years ago we moved into a little tiny house with an amazing yard.  It was at 237 W. Bryan Street in Haxtun, and it sat just across the alley from an old man named Chuck Edwards.

Mr. Edwards was kind.  He was certainly past seventy, though his awkward kyphotic curve made him appear older.  He was a thin man, and his personality was as modest as his physical stature.  He just went about his day--mowing his yard, taking care of his flowers, walking to the post office, driving to Sterling for a senior's dance or to Fort Morgan or Denver for an appointment at the VA hospital. He never drew attention to himself,  and he was always alone, though he had older children and grandchildren nearby.  His wife was buried in the town cemetary.

Over a period of time we got to know Mr. Edwards --we talked to him, offered to shovel his sidewalk, (he always politely turned us down--he was independent and self-sufficient), and invited him to a BBQ when we bought our first grill.  He was always pleasant and neighborly.  He seemed to  enjoy our kids, even when they were loud or trespassed on his lawn.  He was a great old man, and we loved living by him.

After just three years, our family of five outgrew our little blue house.  Its 630 square feet were no longer enough.  We put a for sale sign on the lawn and moved five blocks east, to 226 N. Walker Ave. One fall day, an older white Buick pulled up beside the curb out front, and out stepped Mr. Edwards. He slowly gathered some things from his car.  With hunched shoulders, he walked to the door.  He explained that he'd come to share food with us; he received USDA leftovers and he'd brought us some.

He continued doing this for nine or ten more years, until he became housebound. Even then, he shared with us, but he called us and asked us to pick the food up.  He called us faithfully, every month.  It was hard to go to his home because his house was old and not in the best shape.  It was extremely clean, but the linoleum floor was cracking and peeling, and one room was closed off because the roof was leaking. He had boxes piled all over his living room because he'd cleared out that room in preparation for the repair that was imminent, but which never happened.  Mr. Edwards died just after we moved into our  third house in Haxtun.  I was teaching by then, but I was on spring break and I was busy or relaxing or whatever, and I didn't go to his funeral. For a long time I wished I had.  I though of him often.  He was a wonderful, humble man who made the world better and a bit more beautiful.  He was alone, without quite enough affection from his children and grandchildren, but he was optimistic and we had grown to love him.  I can still picture his hunched form walking around town as he did errands and then, years later, shuffling to his door while I waited and wondered what it was like to be as old as he was.   I hope to find out, and i hope to be as humble and generous as he was.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

On Stamp Collecting

Don't save stamps.

Don't get me wrong: I used to collect stamps.  As a teenager, I collected Olympic stamps. Then I collected stamps with pictures of exotic fruit. Finally, I gave up; my kids had destroyed my stamps, and  giving up was a better option than trying to save them.

There's another kind of stamp saving, too.  Years ago, my friend Mike*  taught me about holding grudges and refusing to forgive.  I was better friends with his wife, Ellen*, who was an overwhelmed mom of five at the same time I was an overwhelmed mom of four. I saw her at least once a week, and we commiserated and laughed about the challenges of being a mom. It was pretty apparent that she felt that her husband wasn't supportive, and I understood her situation. Being a mom of many young kids is hard, isolating, and just draining. She wanted to go out and play like her husband did, golfing with friends and finding time for himself. She resented being at home ALL of the time.

One day, I passed Mike in the hallway, and after saying hello I (mostly) jokingly said, "You've gotta help Ellen more". I said it with a big smile, and he replied with a smile and and  an "I know".  We went on our way, and Jared and I continued our friendshps with each of them.

Fast forward a few years. We weren't in close contact with our friends anymore, having been separated by circumstances if not by choice. We heard that they were divorcing. We heard that he'd had an affair. We heard so much, and our hearts broke. Finally, I met Ellen for lunch. She was unmarried and pregnant with a sixth child-- one who wouldn't share her last name. She was trying to hold her head high and move forward bravely, doing the best she could in her circumstances. She had regrets and she was angry and she was broken, but she was open and honest, and I learned a lot from her while we ate.

A while later, we saw her husband. He had many regrets. He was conflicted. Torn. Missing his children. We talked, and he said, "Ellen collected stamps".  I was puzzled; I wasn't familiar with this phrase. Then, I got it: She held grudges. She didn't forgive. She kept him in her debt, forever adding more to the "he owes me" column.  I began internalizing an important lesson that day, one I'm still trying to perfect: No one owes us anything, so why keep track? Why save stamps? When we are unwilling to forgive, we harden our hearts and blind ourselves to the beauty of those around us. We make our lives harder than necessary. If we collect stamps at all, let it be the kind that mail letters, not the ones that stick to our souls like the glue of self-pity.  Let us forgive and move forward.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Cada Dia

Every day.

Every day, I see things that I hate. Things that make me raw.

Don't misunderstand:  Life is good. Very, very good. But there are still injustices. And in teaching, you see things every day that hurt your heart a little.

You see kids struggle to do things--simple things, like add and subtract--that you and your own children did easily. You see kids struggle to hold a pencil. You see kids who don't have pencils, who, at the age of eight, get themselves dressed and ready and walk to school, all without a parent  to help. You see teens who have built walls higher than the Great Wall of China. lest they become vulnerable by letting you in, which, of course, is where you need to be in order to truly help them.

You see a beautiful little boy, hungry for a woman's love and attention, because his mom isn't around much. (You know that he has an amazing, dedicated father who is one of the best people you know. And you wonder how his dad's love and care isn't quite enough to patch the holes in the little boy's heart. And you admire the dad for all he does and you are concerned for the little guy, so you show him extra love and indeed you come to love him more because he is so damn lovable and because you hurt just a little inside when he shares his concerns with you.

You see another little boy, also beautiful, and you listen to him one day when he asks if he can come to your room for recess. You wonder why, until he explains that he wants to organize your books so that they look better. And you think that's sweet, until he also tells you that he doesn't really have any friends and no one ever lets him play kickball at recess. You die a little inside, because he is a great boy and because he struggles in school and because his family situation is tough and you know that he certainly needs friends. And you want to go to recess and clear the way for him to play and to be carefree and happy.  You want to help him read better and see him be successful.

You see kids who've been kicked out of their houses because their parents can't be bothered with them. You see kids get to school early and stay late because there is no one and nothing for them at home. You see them be overachievers at school because that is where they find worth and value.

You see it, and your heart splits open, and you move forward, acting as if you are not affected, doing your job, but keeping a prayer in your heart for the kids. You are extra attentive, you think of them more, you wonder how they are when you are not around them.  You know that they are not yours; often there are others in their lives who truly care and who love them, but you see their pain and you love them and they are yours, all year long, and you hope you can make their lives better.

This is what I see every day:  Sweet kids who need us to love them and teach them and pat their backs and show them that it's okay. Because, somehow, it will be. 

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

2015-2016 School Year in Review: Part I, August 2015-March 24, 2016

It's been a whirlwind school year.

I know that is true of every year, but wow!

We started school knowing that Kenna was having a hip issue. She injured her hip in April 2015 while running in a track meet. We just thought it was a strained hip flexor. She rested for about 6 weeks and it felt much better. In June she started playing volleyball again, and by mid-July it hurt. In August Mark McDonald finally diagnosed impingement. At that point I knew she probably had the same issues that my friend Steph Harms had and would probably need surgery. Still, we were trying to schedule an appointment with Dr. White, the surgeon.  We had to wait till the end of September, then do an arthrogram (MRI with dye injected so that the tear in the labrum would show). By mid- October we had a diagnosis and a surgery date, which was December 22nd. Most of the school year has been marked with visits to the surgeon and Ron, her awesome physical therapist. She is healing amazingly well but we do therapy in Denver every 1 1/2-2 weeks. Having Ron is a blessing (he had this surgery three times. How could I find anyone better?), but the trips and the daily therapy at home and not being able to be a kid has really worn on Kenna.

Also, on my first day of school in August, we woke up in the morning and talked with Caleb and realized that he was having serious tooth pain related to wisdom teeth. He had them removed on his second  day of school.  And he went to football practice that afternoon.  Caleb ended up having a phenomenal season, ending with 123 tackles (that was the grand total, both solo and assisted). Here he is on parent's night. (My hair!  I think it was windy.)  And rushing.

Taylor took us to Rexburg over Labor day weekend.  We moved her in and left her there to figure life out, and she did that very well. Her first semester was tough, I think primarily because she worked nights and found school stressful and as a result of those things, she was sick a lot. But, she had a good year, enjoyed a lot of things about BYU-I, and really, really loved a couple of her room mates. (In fact, she is in Arizona right now--a full year later--being a bridesmaid at her roommate Katie's wedding.)

Taylor with all of her roommates at the Gates apartments.
Isaac and Caleb both have birthdays around the start of school. Here they are back in 2003--13 years ago!

Haxtun's Corn Festival is always at the end of September; in fact, it always falls on the same exact weekend as the General Women's Broadcast. The kids love the tradition, and I don't mind it, either. For the past couple of years there's been a climbing wall as part of the kids' games. Corbin has had a lot of fun on it.

I coached junior high volleyball last fall,which added to the craziness. The season started Aug. 20 and ended Oct. 9th, and by mid-September I was really looking forward to being done.  I learned a lot and enjoyed a lot of things about coaching, but I didn't like the time away or spending the last warm afternoons of fall indoors. I would like to coach again but probably if it were during the winter months or if my kids were older--like maybe when Corbin is involved in sports later and is busy during practice times.

My parents came on Thursday, Sept 28. They stayed three months, till just after Christmas. They arrived on the day of Isaac's last JH football game, which was a really windy, rotten day.  Because of coaching, I only attended that game. :-(. I arrived just after he'd hurt himself...he was shivering and was so cold that he didn't really realize what he'd done to his arm. That night, I took him to the ER. Anyway, my parents were here till just after Christmas. They spent a lot of time researching what type of home to put on the small little lot they bought last spring (it's directly across the road from us).   They also picked Corbin up from school almost every day, and--this was the best thing about having them here--they ate dinner with us every Sunday!  My family really grew to look forward to those dinners; instead of a simple meal that reflected my burnt-out state, they got something more lavish and more filling because my parents and I all cooked.

On December 20, Corbin was baptized. It was a wonderful day!  Taylor made the drive from Rexburg and arrived safely to be with us, and Jared's mom and stepfather, John, arrived earlier the same day. We all watched Caleb's basketball game together that night and then enjoyed Saturday together. I was emotional Sunday, mostly because I felt so loved and I knew that Corbin was loved--the majority of his grandparents were here to support him.

The next day, Dec. 21, Jared's mom left and Jared and Kenna and I left for Denver. Actually, Taylor and Kenna went together so that they could have a little girl time and have fun together before the surgery.

Here's Kenna on Christmas Eve, the day we came home. Her two best friends, Riley and Dawson, stopped by with gifts. Kenna was very medicated but managed to look great for the photo! 

Surgery went well. I wrote about it in another post, so I'll skip to January: School started again. Caleb had his meniscus repaired mid-January.  He was determined not to miss anything, so he attended his team's basketball game that night. I think his knee stayed swollen a little longer than it may have otherwise, but he was still able to return to play a few days into February. He ended up having a very good season--he wasn't really a scorer, but he earned a place on varsity because he is quick and he reads the ball so well that he became a very good defender. In fact, there were a couple of games where he caused enough turnovers that he was the spark that propelled his team to a win.  (I'm not always the most objective person where my kids are involved, but lots of bulldog fans agreed with me. So I'm undoubtedly right.)

Kenna couldn't play basketball, but she was very committed to her team.  She only missed a game or two, during the first weeks when the bus ride would've been too much. Otherwise, she was always there, supporting her team, keeping score, and enduring the injustice as she watched her friends do what she longed to do but couldn't.  (In fact, she is still doing that today-June 27, 2016-because he had her second labrum repaired June 16th. In all, she will miss 4 seasons of sports, or )

One really nice thing about the winter was not having any sports in Sterling. Since Ikey was in 6th grade, he was able to play on Haxtun's team and we skipped the weekly trips to Sterling. Yay!  Isaac had a really successful season. He played on the B (7th grade) team most of the time. He also played on the A (8th grade) team some.

We had a surprise visit from Taylor in February. She was kind of homesick and flew home without telling us!  She surprised us by walking into the gym during a ballgame, just as she had in December. She was surprised that I didn't react the same way (really excited and surprised).  The difference was that I was just totally flabbergasted the second time around.

Boys' basketball ended with an at-the-buzzer loss in the final game of districts. We fought hard and I was so very proud of the team.  I held my breath every time the ball  changed possession. I wanted Caleb to play the world's greatest defense. I wanted Wyatt to grab every rebound. I wanted Bo to look mad and play hard. I was devastated when the other team shot  and we had three players at the rim hoping for a rebound and then, immediately, on the ground, colliding with one another on their way down, hitting the floor and scrambling for the ball, not realizing that the buzzer had sounded and that we were not the winners.

March brought spring break and a short trip to Denver. We went to the zoo. (Nice, but our kids were mostly too old for it.  Plus, there weren't as many animals out in March as there generally are in the summer.)  We ate at Olive Garden.  (Fun--everyone was relaxed and just enjoyed one another. Why doesn't MY food at home do that??)  We stayed at the Drury Inn, which is fun because they have a glass elevator and a cool pool (half indoor and half outdoor, with the hotel wall dividing the pools, but you can swim under the wall) and they serve free snacks at night and it's near the temple, so we made a quick stop there.  The next morning, we drove up to Red Rocks Ampitheatre because I'd heard a lot about it and wanted to see it. It was NOT a disappointment!  It was easy to get to, and it was gorgeous. Best mountain scenery I've seen in awhile . It was a warm day and a perfect day to be outside.  I was surprised  by how many people were exercising at Red Rocks.  A lot of them were running the stairs.  Here are some photos:

Kenna has spent a lot of time this year doing therapy.  On Steph's recommendation, we work with Ron Harder at Sports Rehab Consulting. They are a premier private PT group based in Vail and Denver and they specialize in returning athletes to play. It's awesome, and Ron is awesomer. (And they are cheap.  Crazy!)

Kenna also  turned sixteen this year!  She has looked sixteen for awhile, but her birthday made her a driver.   To celebrate, we went to eat at the Bar-Lo cafĂ© in town.  Here are some pictures from her party.

Look at that face!  That's because Kenna loves watermelon, and she had opened a watermelon cake mix and frosting.

She also got a hair straightener. 

Just a couple other photos that I liked.

I'll end this post with a photo of Kenna and Isaac planking. This was probably taken in March or April, once she was strong enough to do this type of thing. They were having a really fun time together on this night.