Saturday, July 19, 2014

Isaac's Open House

Isaac has been going to baptisms for friends the last couple of months.  He commented to me that he was disappointed that when he gets baptized he won't know anyone (although, Grandma and Grandpa Richards are coming!!) and that he won't get to share his special day with his friends and family.  Mike and I discussed it and decided that we would have an open house for him so he could invite friends over to celebrate with him in making the decision to get baptized.  Also, we think it will be good to do all the fun celebrating and then we can just focus on his baptism.  

We printed out pictures of Isaac from birth until now and put them on the wall.  
 Then we had him answer some questions about his favorite things.
 We also included his testimony:  "I have a testimony that our church is true and that God is real, and that we can be with our families forever.  This is my testimony."
 Then we served eight of his favorite treats.  Isaac will eat almost anything so we have a very diverse spread.  Piper was happy he chose some sour gummies and she thought the bowl should belong to her.  I kept moving it away from her and then coming back and finding it right in front of her face again.

Isaac's treats were:
General Tso's chicken
Bacon wrapped smokies
Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie bites
Grasshopper Poke cake
Jalepeno Cheetos, Sour Gummies, and Butterfinger bites
Chocolate Raspberry Brownies
Pizza bites
 I was really touched by the support he received today.  When I asked him who he wanted to come he had a good list of friends, church teachers, and Home teachers.  So many people came to congratulate him on his choice to be baptized.  He was really excited when his teacher from this past year came! (and she even brought her mom who had just flown in from Arkansas this morning! )
 Isaac had some friends come too--some girls from church (Katie Frost and her mom and Lizzy Newby and her family) and some friends from school (Conner Holtz and his parents and Brad Binns--Brad is also a member but he is in a different ward).

 We also had some other friends from the ward come with their kids--the Tuslers, Newby's Randalls, Johnson's, and Brother Felix, who is one of our Home Teachers.

 He also had this special lady show up.  Ginger has been a great friend and mentor to Isaac these past few years.
We really appreciated all the support our friends gave Isaac today.  He also appreciated the words of advice for his Baptism day (as well as the gifts!).  We wish our family lived close enough to share this special day with Isaac as well but we are so thankful for the friends that have treated us like family these past three years.  Now we are excited for his baptism and for him to take this step towards becoming an official member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Cutting the Grass

Yesterday we took flowers to Laila's grave.  It's the last time we get to bring fresh flowers to her grave for a long time and I wanted to do it one last time.  We will visit her grave next week on the 24th, the third anniversary of her death, and the day before we move.  Mike had suggested we go visit her grave that morning and then just start our drive to Tennessee after but I told him I couldn't handle that much sadness in one day.  Maybe I should have agreed because honestly, it's going to be a rough day followed by another rough day.  The majority of the time when we visit her I feel peaceful and reflective but not anymore.  Every visit ends up in tears now.  The closer we get to the grave the heavier my heart feels and the tighter the knot in my stomach twists.  It's really hard for me to consider leaving her behind.

The thought of leaving Colorado and Laila behind on the 24th, Pioneer Day, just seems too ironic for me.  I keep thinking about those Pioneer women who had to bury their babies in the frozen ground and then continue on their journey, not knowing if their babies would be eaten by wolves or other wild animals.  It feels pretty horrible to have to leave Laila behind in her protected little spot, I can't even imagine what it would be like if I thought her body would not be safe.  Also, I know I will be back near her again, but for now I hate it.  

I told Mike I'm going to become that crazy lady who makes us all go to a cemetery in Tennessee and choose a random grave to take care of.  Maybe there is someone else who wishes they could visit their baby but can't and having us take care of their grave would mean something to them.  I have some friends who have promised to visit Laila and that means the world to me.  

When we buried her she was the only person buried in that row.  Then baby Nathan became her neighbor and it was just the two of them for awhile but now almost the entire row is filled with little tiny babies, most only living a few days.  Laila lived more days on this earth than most of them.  I commented to Mike last night how that row of headstones symbolizes so many tears and sadness for so many families.  It's kind of heartbreaking.  

Last night Mike and I took the scissors we had brought to cut the stems of the roses and cut all the tall grass around every single headstone in the row.  The grass gets cut regularly but they don't get right up around the headstone.  One of the headstones had so much tall grass you couldn't see the name.  We clipped all the grass away so you could see the pretty name of the baby.  She lived a life, even if it was short, and her name should be seen.  Another headstone had lady bugs (at least two) hanging out.  Another one had flat painted rocks around it.  Piper picked one up and I took it from her to put it back and held it for just a second.  It had little dots painted on it and on the back, "I love you.  Love, Mommy"  I couldn't help but feel reverence while I held that rock and thought about that sweet mother, lovingly painting her rock for her sweet baby.  I could almost feel all her pain and love burning my hand through that rock.  There were other rocks that appeared to be painted by a sibling.  I imagined this mother sitting painting rocks with her child and having discussions like I used to have with Eli, "Why did God want to take her away from us?"  I hope that mom believes in God and the afterlife and has people that love her and support her and pray for her and her continued happiness. 

I walked by Nathan's headstone and remembered all the times I spent with his mom and the miraculous way we met.  I always wonder if Nathan and Laila have met in the afterlife--if they are interested in who they are buried next to.  I can't help but feel a closeness to him, partly because for so long it was just the two of them on that row.  Being buried right next to her and knowing his mom and family, I couldn't help but grieve him as well while I came to visit my little baby.  

I couldn't help but clip that grass and think about each baby and every family member grieving that baby.  Part of me wished I could leave little notes for each one with encouraging words, understanding, and hope.  I wish I could tell them of my belief in a loving God and of the Plan of Salvation.  I wish I could tell them that my heart aches for them and the tears they will cry the rest of their lives.  I wish I could tell them I understand how valuable those few hours, days, or months they spent with their precious baby is.   I wish I could tell them how happy life can still be.  

It's been such a life-changing experience we have experienced.  I often think of Elder Maxwell and how he said he hoped to "drink from a bitter cup without becoming bitter."  It's been a pretty bitter cup to drink from and I hope I am not becoming bitter.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Talks are done

We are checking things off of our to-do lists.  I have so much still to do and every single day for the next two weeks have multiple things I need to complete.  It's nice to see things getting accomplished and I'm really grateful I don't have to pack all our stuff.  That said, there is still so much to do and anyone who thinks having the packers move us makes this an easy move haven't seen my calendar.  Moving is just busy and hard.  Anyway, we got our talks out of the way yesterday and I'm glad they are done.  Is it bad that I'm hoping the topics will be The Power of Prayer and Loving the Lord More Than the World when we move to the new ward and have to speak?  Because that would be awesome not have to write another talk soon.  I am posting my talk here for documenting purposes, nothing else.  I feel like it's a good way to keep my testimony of prayer recorded for my kids since this post will eventually make it into a blog book that they will inherit.

The Power of Prayer

When I was five I frequently had nightmares.  I had heard from my parents and from my primary teachers that if I prayed the Lord would answer my prayers.  I decided to pray and ask the Lord to help me not have nightmares.  I knelt by my bed and I repeated over and over, “Please help me not to have bad dreams.”  That night I my prayers were answered and I did not have any nightmares.  So the next night I did it again--and again, I didn’t have nightmares.  This went on for some time until one night as I repeated my request, my brother walked by the door and heard me.  He started giggling and I stopped and looked at him.  I asked him why he was laughing and he said I sounded silly and why on earth was I repeating my prayer over and over?  I had believed in my little five year old heart that it was the process of repeating the prayer--that if I said it enough times, the Lord would hear how serious I was about not wanting nightmares--but what I discovered was that it was the innocent faith I had that allowed the Lord to keep nightmares from invading my peaceful sleep.  

There is something about the innocence of a little child praying to their Father in Heaven that is so perfect.  We start out being taught that if we pray, the Lord will answer our prayers and we believe unconditionally.  Our prayers are innocent, faithful, and undoubting.  My children believe that if they lose something and pray for it’s recovery, it will be found.  We used to have a running joke in our home for awhile where someone would lose something and then we’d say, “Go get Will to pray to find it” and inevitably Will would have his prayers answered and we would find the lost item .  Will just has this unquestionable faith that if he prays, his prayers would be answered.  

I remember being 16 and learning a lesson from my youngest sister who was three at the time.  My youngest brother was born with Spina Bifida when I was 15.  I am the 5th of 11 children.  My two older brothers and my older sister had already graduated and left home when my brother Ammon was born.  That left my older brother Jess who was a Senior in highschool, and myself the oldest siblings at home.  My dad worked a graveyard shift at an explosive plant and so when we were at school he slept and then when we all got home he would go to work while we all slept.  When he wasn’t working or sleeping he was at the hospital with my mom and my brother Ammon.  My brother spent much of his first three years of life in the ICU and there were many, many incidences where he almost died.  My mom therefore, was gone for a large part of those last three years before I went to college because a large amount of her time was spent in the hospital.  My brother and I were left to care for the younger kids and we would go days without seeing my mom or my dad.  Often we would load the kids up in the van and drive an hour to Primary Children’s Hospital to see my mom and brother.  One particular night we drove to the hospital and visited with my mom and brother and my mom seemed extremely tired and stressed.  It was obvious that the mental stress of watching her youngest child struggle for his life, as well as being away from home and from the rest of her children for so long was wearing on her.  Our visit wasn’t long but it was getting late so we said our goodbyes and my brother and I gathered all the younger kids and walked them to the parking garage to our van.  When my brother went to turn the key, the van would not start.  My brother and I exchanged a look of concern and discussed what we should do.  There was no way we were about to go back into the hospital to tell my mom that the van wouldn’t start.  So, what should we do?  Suddenly we heard a tiny voice from my three year old sister pipe up saying, “Well duh.  We have to pray.”  Duh is right!  Why had we not thought of that ourselves?  All six of us bowed our heads and prayed together that the van would start and when my brother went to turn the key again the van started!  My brother and I felt rather foolish and also grateful that we were reminded by a three year old that there was power in a faithful prayer and that the Lord could help us in our predicament.  

These examples show the faith of a little child and a purity and trust in a Father that will and can give good things to us if we just ask for them.  The scriptures are replete with stories of men and women who pray and receive what they desire:  The joint prayers of Esther and her people save her life and the lives of her entire nation, The prayers of Alma and other faithful members of the church produce a life changing experience for Alma the younger that alters the path of his life.  Joseph Smith, prays in the Sacred Grove and sees Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ who answer his prayers about what church to join.   In John 11 we read about Jesus Christ praying, And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me."
43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice,  ‘Lazarus, come forth’.
44 And he that was dead came forth
These stories all depict people with a problem who went to the Lord in prayer and had miraculous events take place in their lives.  But what then, about those prayers that are not answered in this manner?  
When Alma and his followers were enslaved by the Lamanites, they  “did pour out their hearts to [God]; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.” 16  Their deliverance did not come immediately but the Lord assured them, “I will … ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that … you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
“And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.

In my own life, I have prayed about many things with faith that I could receive them only to have the answer be no, or not now.  Many prayers were said in behalf of Laila the day she died.  Her mortal days were already ended and the prayers would not bring her back.   It would be easy to say, ”Perhaps we just did not have enough faith or perhaps our prayers were just not effective.”  

A story however, comes to mind of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who refused to worship the Gods of Nebuchadnezzar. The punishment was to be thrown into a fiery furnace.  They boldly state, “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”
These three faithful men were thrown into the fiery furnace after all.  The story continues with King Nebuchadnezzar exclaiming:  “Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.
25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
In contrast, we consider the story of Alma and Amulek.  Again, we find faithful individuals cast into a fiery pit because they refuse to abandon their belief in God.  We read:  And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were being consumed by the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames.
11 But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.
Why were Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego, saved from the fire while the faithful converts in Amulek’s city were not saved?  I believe the common theme in these stories is the will of the Lord.  Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego had faith that they COULD be saved if it was the will of the Lord.  Through the spirit, Alma understood that the will of the Lord was not to stretch forth his hand to save the people.  
Therefore, the challenge is to understand and heed the will of the Lord, to have faith that the Lord CAN and WILL save us, if it be His will and if it is not His will, to continue to trust in him and the plan he has for us.  The greatest example of seeking the will of the Lord comes from the Savior Jesus Christ who in agony cried, ‘O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt’ (Matt. 26:39).”
The prayers said in behalf of Laila that day did not bring her back to life.  They did however,  allow us to feel the spirit confirm to us that this was the plan of the Lord for her and for our family.  My brother administered to Laila while Mike performed CPR.  Of the blessing he gave he later said, “It was clear from the blessing and the words that didn't come out that Laila's time on earth was past. It was all a very surreal experience.

It's interesting that until that trip, I hadn't carried an oil vial on my keychain for years because I can't seem to be able to find one that doesn't leak. I got a new one just before we drove out to Colorado and ended up using it.”  

My brother was worthy and ready to act.  Had it been the Will of the Lord, Laila could have been saved.  But I am reminded of a talk by Elder Holland called Sanctify Yourselves.  He says “Now, my young friends of both the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood, not every prayer is answered so immediately, and not every priesthood declaration can command the renewal or the sustaining of life. Sometimes the will of God is otherwise. But young men, you will learn, if you have not already, that in frightening, even perilous moments, your faith and your priesthood will demand the very best of you and the best you can call down from heaven...You must be ready and worthy to act.

While my brother offered up a blessing, the children and I, as well as my three nieces, knelt in prayer in a different room.  The children were concerned and confused about what was happening and looked at me, who commanded them to kneel.  It was not a long or fancy prayer.  Through my tears I simply asked the Lord with all the yearning of a parent to save Laila.  I have often worried that this prayer, clearly answered in the negative, would shake the faith of the children, knowing that we prayed and she still died.  But I believe that it was the faithful prayers offered that day that allowed us to have an increase of the spirit, which gave us comfort, support, and confirmations of the Plan of Salvation.  

In the days following her death, we discovered that hundreds of prayers had been sent up to Heaven in our behalf and like the people of Ammon who were enslaved by the Lamanites, we felt our burdens eased and I stand today as a witness that the Lord visits us in our afflictions.  (My family felt a real, tangible power supporting us by the many prayers being offered and I can tell you the exact moment those prayers all ended.  I distinctly remember the difference I felt as life got back to normal and the shock wore off for people and the prayers stopped.  I do not mention this to make anyone feel sorry for us or to feel guilty, but rather to witness that for the first time in my life, I noticed the difference.  I realized that the many prayers that had been offered in our behalf had helped us immensely and now, I realized that I would need to depend on my own prayers to help me get through the suffering.)

Why does the Lord, who loves us, not just give us what we want all the time?  Why does he allow us to suffer and struggle?  L. WHITNEY CLAYTON Of the Presidency of the Seventy gives us insight when he says, “Burdens provide opportunities to practice virtues that contribute to eventual perfection.  Burdens become blessings, though often such blessings are well disguised and may require time, effort, and faith to accept and understand.  Further, bearing up under our own burdens can help us develop a reservoir of empathy for the problems others face.”
Knowing and understanding the will of the Lord for each of us individually is not always easy.   I would like to share one final example from my own life that taught me the importance of putting in the work and effort to know the will of the Lord.  
My oldest turned 3 a month before my third son was born so I had three boys in quick succession.  Some people seem to take to being a mother so easily but I am not one of those women.  It was a steep learning curve for me.  I was much too impatient and selfish and having three tinies to look after was really difficult for me.  We lived in Oklahoma, the nearest family member living 22 hours away.  The ward was small and there were very few women my age.  Both Mike and I had demanding callings and Mike’s work required him to be to work by 6:30 AM each morning.  Most nights he would come home for a quick dinner, then change his clothes and leave again for something calling related or to make visits with the missionaries.  I had a newborn who did not believe in napping and was up throughout the night to nurse.  I was struggling with postpartum depression and was completely in over my head.  I prayed and read my scriptures but truthfully, neither actions were very heartfelt.  At the time, I felt I was juggling so many different balls that I didn’t feel I could give more than I was giving and therefore, my scripture reading was not very detailed and my prayers were not very sincere except for the occasional outburst of, “Heavenly Father, why are you not helping me here!?”  In desperation I asked Mike to give me a blessing.  I’m not sure what I expected to happen.  I think subconsciously, I had hoped the blessing would tell me that my problems would immediately go away or at least tell me exactly what to do to fix them.  Mike began the blessing by telling me how much the Lord loved me……...and then he was silent….for a long time.  He was silent for so long that it was uncomfortable.  He then said something along the lines of, “The Lord wants you to work on understanding how the spirit speaks to you.”.......and then another very long silence.  Then he ended the prayer.  That was it!!  I knew immediately that the Lord was lovingly reprimanding me.  I had expected to get an answer through Mike without doing any work to receive it.  The Lord could have repeated Doctrine and Covenants 9:7 to me 7 Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.
In contrast, we learn from the brother of Jared how to approach the Lord with a tricky problem.  He prepared himself first before he came to the Lord.  He considered his options, thought of an idea, then asked the Lord in humility if He would touch the sixteen stones with his finger so they could have light in their ships.  He prayed, “Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his weakness before thee; for we know that thou art holy and dwellest in the heavens, and that we are unworthy before thee; … nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires.” (Ether 3:2.)
After such an awkward and humbling experience, I realized that I needed to approach the situation differently.  I am happy to say that six years later I am much better at recognizing the promptings of the spirit.  I am still learning how to pray more sincerely and study more carefully, but I have gained greater confidence in my ability to ask and hear.  Elder Richard G. Scott said, “I have discovered that what sometimes seems an impenetrable barrier to communication is a giant step to be taken in trust. Seldom will you receive a complete response all at once. It will come a piece at a time, in packets, so that you will grow in capacity. As each piece is followed in faith, you will be led to other portions until you have the whole answer. That pattern requires you to exercise faith in our Father’s capacity to respond. While sometimes it’s very hard, it results in significant personal growth.”
I have come a long way from the five year old praying for help with her nightmares, to realizing that there is more to just asking for something and hoping to receive the desired blessing.  Rather, prayer requires faith, work, and trust in the Lord’s will.  I testify that the Lord will help us on this journey of life if we trust Him and his plan for us, which he will reveal through the Spirit as we seek Him through prayer.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

This house

It's Sunday evening and I'm here on my front porch, enjoying the beautiful Colorado weather.  I only have a few more nights to enjoy this before we move to muggy Tennessee.  I have lived in humid states for a lot of my life (Nebraska, Indiana, Oklahoma, Ohio, and a brief three month stay in Maryland) but I don't think I ever really get used to the humidity.  I might have already written about this but the first thing I noticed when I arrived in Tennessee to look for a house was the smell of dirt and water.  The air even smelled humid.  The first thing I noticed when I got off the plane in Colorado was the crisp, clean air.  I am really going to miss that.  Mike and I were commenting that when we move to Tennessee and get a taste of the humidity again we will have to remind ourselves that come October and November we will really enjoy the warm weather there and it will make up for the hot, muggy summers.

I feel really sad tonight, actually.  I have enjoyed every where I've lived and been so blessed to make lasting friendships in each place and every time we move I cry about leaving that place.  I actually feel thankful for that fact because that means I have found things to love about each place and I would hate to live somewhere with one foot out the door, always wishing to be somewhere else.  I intend to really embrace Tennessee and I hope the people we meet will like us and accept us.  There is a slight worry that maybe this will be the one time we don't make friends.  What if people don't like us?  What if I never do get used to the humidity or the icky bugs (another thing I love about Colorado is that they really just don't have very many bugs)?  I really can't control whether people like us or not, nor can I make it less humid.  I can however get an exterminator and I do plan on really making Tennessee a place I will love and cry about leaving when the time comes.  It will take time because moving to a new place and getting used to the new environment and making friends just takes an adjustment period, but I have high hopes for this new adventure of ours.

Also, I'm very excited about the house.  I haven't really talked about the house on this blog but I'm excited about it.  The first house we had an offer on I was kind of luke-warm about (kind of like I was about my current house at first).  That house ended up having siding issues and termites and a few other problems so we pulled out of the contract and found another house that we had never personally seen before.  But it looks beautiful and since I'm not excited to move and leave my friends and current house, then at least I'm excited about this beautiful place we get to call home for the next three years.  Mike and I are also very excited to get to have a garden again because the weather here makes having a garden pretty tough.  We are excited about having a bigger yard and less neighbors too.  I imagine that since we will live so close to the Smoky Mountains that it will be overcast in Tennessee, which might be difficult for me but also, might make taking pictures easier since it's better for lighting to take pictures with an overcast sky.  The boys are excited to have a forest behind the house (I am nervous about all the ticks I will have to pick off of them) and a pool in the neighborhood.  So, there are definitely things to look forward to.

But here I am sitting on my porch and I am feeling pretty sad right now.  While I might have felt luck-warm about my house to begin with, I definitely love it now.  We have made it our home and we have precious and sacred memories attached to this house.  Part of the reason I was sad about this house to begin with was just because we found others we liked better that had less work to do.  I knew that we would do a lot of work to the house while we lived here but that a lot of the things I really wanted would not happen until right before we moved and sure enough, here we are moving and those things are finally getting done.  We had our house painted this week and it is so beautiful.  I had a hard time deciding on the color because part of me really loved the white country feel of the house and we were the big white house at the end of the road.  Also, our neighbors painted their house in the same color scheme that we wanted but ultimately, we decided to paint it anyway (isn't copying the best form of flattery?).  I chose a taupe color for the body of the house with a black shutter that looks like a dark navy blue in some lights and a red door again but his time the red is not so bright and matches the red brick on the house better.  The trim is a bright white.  I really love it and it looks so fresh and new now and makes my hydrangeas stand out even more.

Next week we get the trim and door frames painted and then the week following we will get in some new carpet.  I wish I could be here to see what it looks like.  The potential I saw in the house when we moved here is finally being realized.  I am sad that I don't get to enjoy all the changes but I am very excited to be able to share it with my friends.  We are renting the house to some close friends in the ward.  It makes me feel so peaceful to know that people we love and care about be taking care of our home.  I am excited to think about having them love my house the way I do--plus, they are better housekeepers than we are so I think they will take better care of it than we did.  I really want them to love it and think of it as their home and I think they will.

I really should have trusted the Lord more when I walked in and felt this was the house we would buy.  It really has been so perfect for our family and I'm going to miss it so much.  I hope we can love the new house and fill it with wonderful memories as well.

Monday, July 07, 2014

4th of July

Eli told us when we were reading scriptures before bed on the 3rd that his throat kind of hurt.  He felt a little warm but not enough to even take his temperature.  We got him in bed and assumed he would be fine the next morning.  Instead, we got a knock on our door at 2 AM from a very sick Eli.  He was struggling to breathe and was crying, which was making it worse.  We took him downstairs and got him some water and got him breathing vapors from the humidifier.  He was still struggling to breathe so Mike gave him a blessing at Eli's request and then drove him to the E.R.  I knew from the barking coughing and from a friend who has dealt with this before that it was the croup.  It was pretty scary to watch him struggle to get breaths.  The doctor was surprised someone as old as Eli had the croup because it usually is something you see with kids 6 months to 3 years.  They gave him some steroids to take and sent him home.  I think using the humidifier and then taking him into the cold air to go to the E.R. was the thing that helped him the most.  Mike and Eli were home within an hour and fast asleep. 

We canceled our holiday plans so we wouldn't get others sick and so that Eli could recover.  We had planned to go to the ward pancake breakfast and then later hang out with some friends.  We even talked about the possibility of going to a fireworks show.  I was pretty bummed about being stuck at home and about poor Eli being sick and I didn't want to sit around being disappointed all day so I had to do some quick thinking and find some things we could do that would help us feel like we were still celebrating and having fun.  I found a recipe for homemade puffy paint and we painted pictures.  Then we played this ridiculous game where you had to knock over water bottles with nylons that had a ball in the bottom, the nylons on your head.  It was silly and had us all laughing.     

We were all starving and tired and none of us were really feeling well (I think we all had a little of what Eli had, though he was the only one coughing and with a fever.  Our throats were all scratchy and noses all runny) so we decided just to order out.  We all wanted Chinese food, which was pretty funny considering that it was America's Independence Day.  None of the Chinese restaurants were open so we settled on a frozen pizza for the boys and Buffalo Wild Wings for me and Mike (and Isaac, who also likes spicy foods).

After dinner we threw poppers all over the driveway.  They thought that was pretty cool.  The boys really wanted to get on the roof and watch fireworks.  We weren't sure if there would be any to see.  Fireworks are illegal in Colorado Springs and we knew there was a fireworks show at Memorial Park but that was in downtown Colorado Springs and we didn't think we would be able to see them that far away.  We decided to try anyway, with the hope that there would be people breaking the law.  :)

Mike and the boys climbed on the roof to see if they could see anything.  I went to put Piper to bed and couldn't help but feel the irony in it all.  Our time in Colorado Springs started in a similar manner.  I sat in a dark, quiet room rocking a baby to sleep while my boys and Mike sat on the roof giggling and oohing and awing.  At the time I felt like my heart would burst with happiness and peace.  It was a moment when everything seemed perfect.  It was a really sweet memory for me.  And now here I was again, in the same dark, quiet room with a different sleepy baby.  I couldn't help but think about that wonderful day three years ago and the sweet feelings I had then but also about all that has happened since.  I couldn't help but feel sad about the fact that Laila is not here to enjoy the fireworks.  It was a little bittersweet for me.  I still felt grateful to hear those happy, giggling voices on the roof with Mike and that I could hold another baby that is precious to me beyond measure.  It was a happy moment mingled with a good amount of sadness.

After putting Piper to bed I joined the boys and Mike and we discovered that many Colorado Springs residents had broken the law!  Yay for us!  It was a great show from our roof.  We had at least three neighbors who set off big, loud fireworks just over our head.  It was pretty great.  The boys LOVED it. I personally think that the residents here in Colorado Springs are all so happy to not have wild fires during the 4th that everyone wanted to celebrate!  Last year there weren't even any professional firework shows that I am aware of.

It was a fun way to end the day.

Eli is still sick but thankfully, no more barking, hard to breathe incidents, just a yucky cough.  I'm really thankful that the boys know how to just roll with it and that they can be happy with a painting project, a silly game, and sitting on the roof.  They never whined or complained about missing out on all the fun with their friends or anything.  I have such sweet, happy boys and it makes me very happy.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Sleeping in the the tent

 I told the boys they could camp outside if they wanted to and they were ecstatic.  Last summer they wanted to sleep on the trampoline but only lasted a few hours.  Both Isaac and Will ended up ditching Eli and I didn't feel comfortable leaving him outside by himself so I made him come in too.  He was pretty upset his brothers left him.  This year I thought it would go better.  Mike set up the tent and even agreed to sleep outside with them.  We grilled hot dogs and hamburgers for dinner and then before bed got out the s'mores stuff.

 When bedtime came around they were so excited to be outside that they just kept giggling and sneaking out of the tent to jump on the trampoline.  At 10:30 Isaac and Will had finally fallen asleep but Eli was still getting out of bed and coming in the house.  He just started crying about the smallest things and finally said that he couldn't fall asleep and it was too cramped in the tent.  Mike told him he would change and come out to sleep with him on the trampoline.  As soon as he got out it started sprinkling just slightly but not enough to convince them to come inside.  By 3:30 I woke up to the doors opening and closing and toilets flushing.  I thought perhaps they all had to go to the bathroom at the same time so I got up to see how it was going for everyone.  When I walked into the hallway I heard Eli and Isaac in their bedroom and went to see what they were doing.  They told me they were done outside.  Isaac was slightly disappointed because he was sleeping well but the others were cold, uncomfortable, and ready to be in their own beds.  So, another unsuccessful sleeping outside experience.  But at least they had fun until they had to sleep.  We will try again next year but honestly, I think I should just admit that we are not a camping family--and that is ok.