For those that like to dream, come in. For those that like to laugh, come in. For those that like to cry and be inspired...please come in. Our family is like any other, but is extraordinary in it's own right. Come and join us at our campfire and laugh a little, cry a little and leave us, but please come back. We love company...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


If I had my child to raise all over again,
I'd build self esteem first, and the house later.
I'd finger paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting, and more connecting.
I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I'd take more hikes, and fly more kites.
I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I'd do more hugging and less tugging.

Dianne Loomins

I think this summer was a landmark one for me. I think I realized more than ever the true value of my children, how much joy they can bring and that I had moved further into an adult world than I realized. We all have to pay our bills, and stand at dinner parties and act mature. We all have things that we want to teach our children, and try to do so sounding like we have wisdom and time on our sides. However, have we spent so much time in an adult world that we have forgotten what it's like to be a kid? To laugh so hard we pee our pants? Too cry so loud the neighbors can hear us? To play and use our imaginations until mommy's screaming at us to "come in for dinner!"? I don't necessarily think we need to do those things in order to connect with our kids, but there are things we can do. Playing in the swimming pool, while knowing your teaching your child how to swim while you are at it. Sitting outside at dusk, watching the stars come out and trying to pick out The Big and Little Dipper.

I tried to do more this summer with my kids. Things we would all love and want more of. I think I did an ok job. My problem now is that I miss them now that school has started. I want to pick out a cool hike and try it out. I want to sit and get skin cancer while the kids play in the pool. We all went back to school when the kids did. I am back to housework, errands and doc appointments. Next summer watch out! I have plans!

Monday, August 30, 2010

In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle our inner spirit. Albert Schweitzer

New normal

Life changes every single day, one way or another. Some for good and some for bad. I have found lately that I am adjusting to a new normal so often that I can't remember what normal once was for me. Was life ever "normal"? What is normal? I am sure it's different for everyone, and most of us can relate to someone else in some way, but not anyone completely. We are as unique as the dna that makes us who we are. No two people handle things the same.

I remember very vividly the first time I had to adjust to a "new normal". Now these for me are not times when good things happen. When good things happen I don't feel like I have to "adjust". I am just enjoying life, floating along and feeling happy. The change that comes with those times doesn't feel like change as much as it feels like a relief. The first dramatic "change" would be when Kenna was born. She was feisty, loud and opinionated. But she was so good for me in so many ways that it was an adjustment that was easy. To this day I look at her with tenderness and joy. Well, most days anyway! But back to the first time I had a new normal. The day Megan was diagnosed with diabetes. We were so young, and we were so naive. We did what the nurses and doctors told us, we gave her the shots, we took her home. Not a day after we got home Jon's mom called to see how we were doing. I remember him saying to her on the phone "Are things back to normal? Well, more or less I guess." When he got off the phone he looked at me and said, "we have a whole new normal, don't we?" Doctors, shots, seizures, carb counting and a future of uncertainty and heartache. New normal. When Skyler was diagnosed last summer it was a new normal, even though we had been through it all before. He is a different child, that has different needs and has handled things differently. Megan always took the shots without flinching and never seemed phased by it. Skyler holds his little arm and cries and looks at me like "Why did you hurt me? What did I do?" I tear up almost everyday when I have to do this for him, but knowing all the while that if I don't he will die. New normal.

So many times in my life I have had to go through a new normal, and each time more stressful than the last because we still have all the previous stresses, we are just adding new ones. Job changes, new homes, new illnesses from the kids and those moments that change the way we think and feel forever. Hitting Ray Green was one of those moments for me. That's a club I could have gone without joining forever. The "I hit a kid" club. My heart is a little more fragile, I still ache a bit when I see him, even though he is fine. I don't trust my eyes on the road like I used to and when I see bikers or kids near the road I irritate everyone around me by driving like a snail in the sun.

Another one of these clubs I could have gone without joining is the recurrent miscarriage club. Not just one, or two, but three. Three babies lost. Three periods of my life when I have to wait for the inevitable, the pain, the bleeding and the sleepless nights. I am different now, for better or worse, I am different. I look at my kids differently, I see pregnant women and my eyes fill with wonder that is life. I look at a baby and am amazed at the miracle that is childbearing. I don't care what anyone says...there is a God and he did create this world. There is no way that all of this was some cosmic accident that happened to fall together so nicely. Life is on purpose and I have had to watch some of mine slip away with every baby I have lost. I hope and pray that I have felt the sting of loss enough for now.

I somehow sense that I am about to be taught another new sense of normal. Maybe it's the pessimist in me. Maybe it's just that I'm a bit depressed and having a hard time seeing the positive and happy all the time. I just hope God grants me the strength to endure all things. Walk with me now Lord, I need it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Perfect dichotomy....

I love the definition of a dichotomy; A dichotomy is any splitting of a whole into exactly two non-overlapping parts. This describes me. It really does. I like to communicate with other people. I like to talk, sort things out, hammer it out, go back and forth, discuss life and smooth things over. I like to talk to the point that I alienate my friends and family and I talk to strangers at the grocery store about the dumbest things for the longest time. But there is another side to me.

I do have this side to me that wants nothing more than to be completely alone. I want to find a beautiful beach somewhere and sit a chair on it and listen to the waves and let my mind wander, the way it can only when there's no noise, no voices, no tv and radio. I crave this kind of silence. I dream of being able to leave everyone and everything behind and disappear into the day and night without anyone knowing where I am. I have to wonder why? I see so many people trying so hard to have babies and searching for that perfect love, and here I am wanting some alone time. I am sure part of it is the fact that I have 9 kids and have been home with those kids since the first was born. I have had numerous daycare kids over the years, nieces and nephews and tons of neighbor kids. There seems to be an endless stream of people parading through my life and I will say that I love it, but I am also tired.

I am sure that I wouldn't want to make this alone thing permanent. I would just love maybe a month. Enough time to get good and lonely and start to wonder where my kids are, and how my friends are, and how my family is doing. I just need enough time to get good and lonely and want to come back to it all. I am sure that would happen because I do love the soft kisses from my children. I do love my movie nights with Jon and I would come to miss my long conversations with Lori, Polly and my mom.

Right now however, I feel very split. A perfect dichotomy. A perfect half of me wants other people around, wants that daily interaction and the noise, love and chaos. The other half of me wants perfect silence where I am completely alone. I tend to oscillate everyday, sometimes even several times a day. It's never a feeling of sort of this or sort of that...it's all or nothing. I want to be on the phone blabbing, or I want to throw the phone in the disposal and never hear it ring again. Perfect dichotomy. Split in half with no overlapping parts. Tell me people, how do you reconcile that?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

School days....

"No one has yet realized the wealth of sympathy, the kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure." Emma Goldman

It's upon us. School days. I cannot remember a time when I have dreaded that so much as I do this year. I have my reasons, large and small, as to why I feel this way. There's the tiny reasons, like I just don't like hearing the complaint from my children that they can't find socks again. Or that they forgot their coats at school and have to borrow a siblings...only to have that sibling come unglued over it. Then there's the big things like car pool. My goodness I hate carpool. My kids have to be driven to each and every school. 9 kids divided by 4 schools and I spend half a paycheck and all day in the car. It's hard to enjoy the day to myself and my little kids when I spend most of that day taking everyone to and from school. This year is going to be particularly hard with a high schooler, two in middle school, three all day in elementary, one half day in kindergarten and a preschooler. Wow...it's no wonder my cars always break down. The very thought sends me into a tizzy.

But there's more this year. I actually don't want to send my kids away. There has been so much stress this summer that I have really taken to finding comfort in my children. There are no other people on the planet more capable of giving that unconditional love and comfort than a child. They wrap their little arms around you and you can feel it coming like huge warm blanket out of a tiny body. They love us, whether or not we deserve it, they do. I have so enjoyed them this summer. More so than most summers. This year we have been to the beach, Vegas and on day trips around the canyons. I have loved every moment of it.

The beach. That is one of the most comforting places on earth to me. This summer it was even more so with my kids to share it with. They played in the sand like they had never seen sand (I guess some of them had never seen it like that before!). They would just sit and run their hands and feet through it, baking in the warm California sun. We didn't go to Disneyland, Magic Mountain or Universal Studios. They were so content with just being on the beach. They were quiet and happy, and so was I.

Vegas. I love that town, and anyone who knows me knows that. Crazy as it sounds I love the heat, the cactus and the palm trees. It's like a second home to me, always has been. This year when we went we tried a new hotel. This one had a very yummy continental breakfast. As silly as this sounds I really loved walking down there with my kids and watching them eat like they were in a local IHOP and loving every moment of it. We never go out to restaurants. It's just too darn expensive with all of our children. So these moments were like heaven for them and me. They played in the hotel pool for hours and never got tired of it. My kids are spoiled in some ways and in so many others are not. They don't complain about not being able to do things other families do. We can't go to Disney world, on cruises and yearly trips to the beach. We do what we can when we can and they seem to love it all anyway. No matter.

Our canyons. We are blessed to live near the mountains. They are so beautiful. My kids had the greatest time going to the canyons this year to explore new places and see new things. I complained the most on the hike to Donut Falls this year. The kids marched on and loved it despite the fact that I didn't bring nearly enough water and no snacks ( I wasn't expecting such a long hike). They just pushed on with their eyes looking forward to the reward, those beautiful water falls tucked away in that mountain was all they needed.

I admire my children. They are strong like I never was. They are smart. But what I love most is their capacity to love. Every time I have a new baby the love that child receives is like it's the last child on earth to ever be born. They bring them into the family with the most amazing amount of love. Others question our ability to parent a huge family. They question our ability to provide for so many children. What they tend to forget is how these little people are with each other. When the world fails them they are there for each other. When other kids are mean to them, they are kind with each other. Now, don't get me wrong, they fight like the day is long, but in the end they are there for each other. This summer has been an amazing reminder to me of what I have right here in my own home. Just yesterday when sitting around crying my eyes out my teenager (who is supposed to be selfish and self absorbed) ran to get me hot chocolate to make me feel better.

I don't want them to go back to school. I want to be selfish and keep them right here with me. I want to love them, but I also admit I want to be loved by them. They are capable of loving the way no one can.

Become as a little child. The Savior said it best.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The MIA husband...

It's been 8 days since we saw him. I have gone longer than this before and I am sure it won't be long before he is on another business trip or a fun trip with his brother. But I have to say that these trips where he goes hiking are the worst. Not because he is gone. I have grown accustomed to him leaving. He goes at least twice a year on "training" trips for work. At least once a year something else also comes up like an occasional ski trip with his brother, or when his grandmother died and he went to California with his family, or other such things. But the hike is hard just becuase there is no cell phone access where he is.

He and his brothers and dad like to go hiking way up in the Uintahs where they cannot be found. They take everything for a week on their backs with them, filter their own water and try to choke down a few fish while they are at it. Now in the past this trip has been more or less uneventful from my end. My kids do their thing, I do mine and we just get happy when dad finally comes home. This time has been different. It's longer for one. Me and the kids went to Vegas for a few days, but we left 2 days before Jon even left, so that tacked on 2 days to not seeing each other. Then on the way home from Vegas our van broke down. I had to figure out what to do, in the dark, on the freeway with nine scared kids. I had to pull out that independent Julie that goes dormant when the hubby is around to take care of such things. I had the car towed, got the kids home safe and sound (or Mark and Kambri Jackman did) and then found a place to have to car towed to and get an estimate on to fix it.

While we are singing songs of woe, lets not forget that we came home to a broken down washing machine. Kelly came over just yesterday to fix that and boy am I grateful for that one!

This has not been the greatest week to date. I feel sorry for Jon when he comes home and I hit him with everything that has gone on this week. He might just run right back to those hills he's been in all week. I would if I could...that's forsure!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What would she think?

So many beautiful faces. Blond, red, brunette...small and sweet. They always love grandmas and grandpas. Its in their blood from the day their born. Grandparents are their advocates, they spoil them and love them no matter what. When mom and dad have reached that tired, can't handle another moment place grandma and grandpa step in and take over.

Betty and Kent have airheads and Bud. Lego men, tennis courts and food to die for (Betty is an amazing cook). They love to spend time there. Their faces light up when they see grandma and grandpas faces. They especially love it when grandpa comes over on his motorcycle.

Fred and Frances have Sophie, fish in their backyard and the best neighborhood pool in three counties. Their faces light up when they see the "broken grandma and grandpa". Grandpa takes them to rodeos, the circus and on the boat. Time spent there is time that is priceless.

What would she have thought? I often wonder. I have had so many kids, she has more grand kids than any of her sisters (I believe). Between the four of us theres currently 12 and chances are there might be one or two more. My sisters tell me that she loved Taylor so much(she was the only one that she ever had the chance to be with). They tell me that she loved being a grandma and would have loved it that much more with more to love. I wish she could have had that. I am often sad for what I didn't get out that relationship, but I am learning. I am learning that it's not always about me. What about everyone else? What about the kids? They didn't get to know her either. They see pictures, they admire the elephants that were hers and they ask questions. Questions that I can't answer, but I tell them to ask Lori, Lisa and Tracy. At least they have that. They can get to know her in some way through the people in her life that loved her most. They see pictures and can now recognize her in photos they see.

Skyler is currently the baby...only by a few weeks. Carson isn't much older, but Sky is still the baby. He has strawberry blond hair and fair skin that turns bright red in the sun. Even his scalp. He is a true ginger, the first for my family. I think he is the first true ginger out of all the grand kids so far. I tell Lori he looks like her with that blond hair and fair skin. She tells me that came from Susie. What would she have thought? I like to think when she saw him it made her smile. I like to think that when she saw the legacy that was Susie....the legacy that is all of her grand kids it would make her smile. Those amazing kids that love each other so much that every time they are together they love each other so wonderfully that we have to pull the kids apart. My children cry when the cousins leave, or we leave them. Susie would have loved seeing that. Feeling that.

What would she have thought? I think that she would have thought that through the pain and hard times, there was light. The light that could be found in the eyes of each and every little face that would have loved looking into her eyes. That's what I think.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

You know when...

Las Vegas. This city is a world inside a world. It is unique, alive, scary and all its own. I love this city. From the time I was very little, as a family we would drive through Vegas on our way to California. We always stopped and stayed for a night. Never on the strip, usually a Motel 8 somewhere and it was always hotter than Satan's basement, but I loved it just the same. We would usually pull into Vegas around 3 or 4 pm, and as we would get out of the car I would hear moans and groans from my siblings and parents about the heat. The pavement would be melting under our feet and you could never get enough cold stuff to drink, but still loved it.

Nothing has changed since then. This last June we went to California with my folks and siblings. It was on the cool side there and although we still got our fair share of sun and sand, we did have to wear long sleeves in the evenings and run the heat at night. That's just the beach for you. I love it there too...but then we stopped in Vegas on our way home to spend a few days with my sisters. We had gone from 80 degrees and breezy to 108 and blistering. As we sat by the pool the first day we were there I could feel the sun sizzling my skin and I loved every moment of it.

This round as we drove into Vegas Kenna and I started to make jokes about it. You know when your in Vegas because....so here are a few....

You know your in Vegas when you can buy gas and gamble at the same time.
You know your in Vegas when every other group of people on the freeway is a group of bikers, their girls and their long hair flying in the wind.
You know your in Vegas when you get out of the car and you start to melt like the Wicked Witch of the West.
You know your in Vegas when there's more to do at night than during the day.
You know your in Vegas when you think there's a full moon out cause its so light, then you realize its just the light from the Strip.
You know your in Vegas when sirens, sirens and more sirens from the Strip drench your dreams while you try to sleep.
You know your in Vegas when its the law to have your cell phone towers mimic palm trees...to "blend" in....
You know your in Vegas when the airplanes have to circle the city because it's too hot to take off and clear the strip.
You know your in Vegas when there are more vehicles with out of state license plates than Nevada plates.
You know your in Vegas when taxi cabs and limos litter the grocery store parking lots.
You know your in Vegas when every other car is a Mustang.
You know your in Vegas when you can catch a glimpse of three already dead people hanging around on the Strip (Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and Abraham Lincoln).
You know your in Vegas when you can walk into any bar and walk out five minutes later smelling like you just smoked an entire pack of cigarettes.
You know your in Vegas when you can buy liquor, any liquor at the Pigely Wigely.
You know your in Vegas when the most popular gas station is appropriately named "Terribles".
You know your in Vegas when the taxi cabs have pics of naked girls on them.

I love Vegas....always will. And now as an adult I have sisters there and it makes it much easier to have excuses to go there often. If hyper religious people are right and the end of the world is near, and Vegas is Sin City and one of the first to go....I will shed a tear or two for my favorite city. That is assuming I am not there at the time! :)