Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January Family Birthday Party


Before I ever married into Kevin's family they started having family birthday parties - one party each month to celebrate all of the birthdays in that particular month.  Because the family is so big they started having a family 'party' to celebrate all at once that month.  The tradition has continued for as long as I have been in the family (16 years now), and is, in essence, a reason for the whole family to gather at least monthly.  The Mohler fam lives in 4 different states now, and with the newest baby due this summer the family will total 73.  So that's really the only practical way to celebrate birthdays in a family that big (and no, we do not exchange gifts).  My kids look forward to the gatherings, and with everyone's hectic schedules the parties are usually mapped out by Gary and Sheila in January for the whole year.  Sometimes it is a regular family dinner (which is usually pot luck style) with any dessert serving as the 'cake', and other times a family event will take the place of the 'birthday party' that month - maybe dinner after one of the grandkids' baptisms, a swim party, a wedding, our annual camping trip, or family reunions.  Nonetheless, Kevin's mom and dad try to make sure we all have a reason to gather at least once each month.  I am grateful, since it is a chance for my kids to play with and stay close to their cousins that live on various ends of town.  It's loud, noisy, and fun.

This last Christmas most of the grandsons got Nerf guns for Christmas from Grandma and Grandpa Mohler.  Kevin suggested to his mom that we should do a massive Nerf war for one of the birthday parties.  So she asked us to coordinate it, and we had the January party last weekend.  Fun fact: January has the most Mohler birthdays of any other month - NINE (I think - I could have miscounted on that).  We reserved our stake center so we would have a big enough space, and everyone brought part of the dinner.  We brought our bounce house and set it up in the corner of the gym for the kids. 
We let everyone know beforehand to label all of their guns and darts with their names, and the kids used tables and trash cans for barricades and shields.  We split into Grandma's team and Grandpa's team, and the kids (and grown ups) played, played, played.  There were hundreds of Nerf darts flying everywhere, and it was a fun afternoon for everyone.  I don't think there were any tears, which deems it a success in my book!
 

Monday, January 7, 2013

14 Years

I say it every year, but I cannot believe how fast time is flying. 4 years. That's all I have left with this girl at home. How is it possible??? It seems like we were just barely eating breakfast in the mornings to watching Teletubbies on PBS on our old console tv, and taking naps together. Now Syd is the teenager that WANTS to take naps on her own, comes home from cheer practice and crashes on the couch, occasionally shouts how ANNOYING her family is, shows me texts she gets from boys, hogs the hot water, hates every picture of herself, begs me to go shopping practically 5 days a week, and stays up late on her phone and her ipad. She texts me and reminds me to pick up feminine products from the store, wears eyeliner, and is picky about what makeup she wears. She takes an insane amount of selfie pics and posts them on her instagram (as in the pic shown above), and gets asked for her phone number by boys when we're out to eat. She has quite the babysitting business, and buys her own clothes, gifts for other people, and pays for her own social life. Her weekends are booked with plans, which I learn about AFTER the fact, and when all the other kids are in bed she comes and flops down on my bed between Kevin & me and talks to us or watches tv with us. I act like I'm annoyed that she's on my covers, but I secretly love it, and know that it won't last long. I'll long for those nights when my girl takes off to college. I feel lucky that she tells me about what's going on with the boy sitch in her life, and I'm grateful everyday that she's a good girl. Not perfect- But I have soooo lucked out.


 Saturday marked 14 years since I started this all-defining chapter of my life called Motherhood. I was such a baby myself, and had no idea the amount of love that was about to consume my life. I remember that day so vividly, and everything went so smoothly and quickly, and before I knew it she was here...screaming her fool head off (after having Brooklyn diagnosed with acid reflux, I am fairly certain Sydney had the exact same thing). It is a fine balance to figure out how to instill and encourage in your kids the things you hope and want for them that differ from your own past, without being pushy or overbearing. I feel incredibly blessed that Syd is so goal-oriented and disciplined (she has been soooooo good about wearing her back brace every single night for the last 14 months). She has always been such a rule follower. She is a sweet and quiet gal. Although she still doesn't know what she would want to major in in college, she has always wanted to go on a mission and go to BYU. She is a much cooler and hip and less awkward 14 year old than I ever was at her age, and for that I am grateful. I will state the obvious and declare how nervous and totally apprehensive I am to think about my girl starting high school next year. It's nerve-wracking to me. So many awkward, brutal, and hurtful things can happen in high school. Rejection, dramatic friends, boyfriends, etc - all that glorious and painful stuff lies ahead. This could potentially be a pretty big year for her. I am admittedly nervous and mentally preparing myself for what may lie ahead with her back. It's a little weird - she is the exact same age I was when I had to have my own back surgery. The curve of her back spans the exact same vertebrae that mine did before my surgery: T11 - L4. Am I scared? Yeah. As of her last appointment, her curve was progressing despite wearing her brace. She goes back next month, and we see if it has increased any more.


 I absolutely love this girl more than I ever thought my heart could handle. She makes me want to throttle her some days, but the days she makes me beam with pride far outnumber the bad days. So, umm, yeah.... I just want the next 4 years to move in slow motion.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Starting Anew?

Oh how this blog has been on my mind. For a good long time. Not sure why. But I have felt pretty impressed to revive it and continue it for some reason. It is sad to me to realize I documented nothing for the year 2012. Such a slacker, especially considering 2012 was an eventful, tumultuous, stressful, trying, and especially faith-building year. I cannot do a full recap, nor would anyone want to read that all at once. But here are a few monumental items that will forever signify what type of year 2012 was for me. The last time I posted I alluded to something big happening right after David's graduation dinner. 2 nights after that fun filled night, I got a call from Nathan's wife at 3:30am letting us know that they were at the ER and after a series of events they had learned that there was blood on Nate's brain. Not good. We raced to the hospital and learned that my 29 yr old healthy and strong police officer brother had a brain aneurysm that had ruptured. He would be going in that morning for a craniotomy to clip the aneurysm and stop the bleed. It was probably the most emotional day of my life, and I could not believe the rock that my sister in law was that day. We all knew it was a very real possibility that Nate could die, and we knew that the bleed being in the front lobe of the brain was very bad. But as our whole family and some of nate's close friends gathered in that surgery waiting room, we definitely felt the Spirit attend. It was scary and emotional. Thankfully, he came out of the surgery as well as could have been expected. It was a miracle. It still is a miracle. The neuro surgeon warned Stacy that he could have memory loss, personality changes, loss of speech, loss of motor skills, etc. Recovery was tough, and he ended up being in the hospital for 4 weeks. Nate got bacterial meningitis TWICE, and really bad blood clots in both legs, which resulted in him being re-hospitalized for another week after he had been home for a few days. He spent Thanksgiving in the hospital. It was surreal, and nobody (doctors & nurses especially) could believe someone so young could have this happen. Today, Nate is back at work performing all of the functions of his job, and aside from his gnarly scar on the side of his head, you would never know he nearly died or had suffered a stroke/aneurysm. It is nothing short of a miracle and proof of God's hand in our life. He and Stacy are expecting their 4th baby next month, who they plan to name Nixon Douds Garrard. Dr. Douds is the neurosurgeon who saved Nate's life, and I love that little Nixon will have such a cool story to tell behind his name. So that was essentially the end of 2011, but it also encompassed all of 2012 as well. Whew. Other big happenings since I last posted: Seth RE-broke his arm after a little mishap at our ward Christmas party, bent the pins in his arm, and had to have surgery to repair it...... Seth got braces..... Kevin was laid off from his job on May 9th..... After an incredibly stressful few weeks, Kevin landed a new and even better job (hallelujah!)..... Syd attended BYU volleyball camp..... Syd tried out & made the cheer team for the 2nd year..... Kids started 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 8th grades - meaning all my children are in full-day school..... I started working part time at a dentist office..... I got my substitute teaching license and started subbing..... Shy & quiet Austin ran for student body Vice President at school and WON..... Seth had surgery to remove the pins from his arm (14 months after they were put in)..... I had to have emergency surgery to remove an ovarian cyst the size of a large grapefruit that decided to go nutso all of a sudden at the end of June.... I was released from being YW President, and Kevin was released from serving as Ward Clerk, and we both got put in scouts. He is the scoutmaster, and I am the den leader over the 8 yr old boys. I am also the Girls Camp Director. I will be blunt and say that I am struggling quite a bit with my calling (scouts - not girls camp). I was so sad to not be in young women anymore - it pretty much broke my heart. So cub scouts is not exactly what I would choose to be doing. I'm working on my attitude..... Sydney was selected to go with 11 other students from her school on a 5-day trip to Washington, DC. She is beyond excited, especially since she gets to attend the presidential inauguration. I am soooo jealous, but so stinkin excited for her..... Syd's spine has continued to curve, and at her last appt it measured at 32 degrees. She continues to sleep in her brace every night, and she goes back for her next checkup in February. Not sure what the future holds for her and her back, but she is a strong girl and I know she can make it through whatever the doctors decide she needs..... We had our share of ups and downs, but above all, we were so blessed. I will elaborate more later, but to be able to see exactly how Heavenly Father put things in place for us is kinda crazy and has multiplied both my faith and my gratitude beyond measure. One thing I know - Heavenly Father is so keenly aware of me & my family. I know that for sure. Now- here's to documenting 2013...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy Day

 
Dave graduated from Massage Therapy School on October 14th. It was such a happy day, and I could not have been more proud of my brother. For years we have told Dave that he has a 'gift' when it comes to his hands and how well he can rub peoples' backs/shoulders/feet, etc... I would pretty much tell him that anytime he would walk up behind me & work out the knots in my shoulders (which, he says, are like dirt clods). So, in March our Davy Gravy decided to start the program at Nevada School of Massage Therapy to become a licensed massage therapist. He was so dedicated, and he loved it. And I LOVED being the beneficiary of him needing to practice what he was learning. :-) His graduation day came, and we were thrilled--so proud of Dave, and I was just so happy for him. It was late in the afternoon, so only me, Sarah, Stacy, Mom, and Dad were able to go to the actual ceremony... But the real celebration was planned for later that night. Dave had chosen Maggiano's for the family celebration dinner, and celebrate we did. It was so fun, and such a happy night. The only thing missing from dinner was Mike & Emily - we missed them a lot, and when Mike called during dinner I know it made him homesick... freakin school.

I consider it one of the greatest blessings in my life that I genuinely love being with my siblings. We are tight. Yes, of course I loved them when I was growing up. But now that we are grown, we have so much fun together. Anytime. Anywhere. We call each other on crap. We are straight forward, honest (sometimes brutally), and totally open with each other. Very open. I know we're not the norm. But I'm grateful for that. I'm not sure exactly what my parents' formula for this is...not sure they know either. But I love it, and hope my own kids enjoy each other just as much when they are grown. When our spouses are with us we have even more fun. They know we are crazy, and it's a lot for them to put up with. But I wouldn't have it any other way. I know I am lucky to see my brothers & sister as often as I do, and I love that.

 
Nate came straight to the restaurant from work (after stopping at Target to buy a shirt). I love these pictures of him & Stac being silly. I never did end up getting a normal pic of them that night.

 
I love love love this picture. If I could photoshop Mike & Emily in the picture and FREEZE TIME I would. Life was great. Everyone was happy, healthy, and doing well. I have thought back to this night so many times over the last 8 weeks, and wished to go back. I am more glad than ever that we did that dinner, and didn't pass up the chance to get together. I am so glad that our schedules worked out to be together. I am glad that we laughed and enjoyed each others' company. Life is so unpredictable, and I have been so thankful for that night. Because 48 hours after this picture was taken our world would get turned upside down.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Last First Day

 


I will own the fact that I was dreading this year's First Day of School. I knew it would be hard to face the last of my Very First Day of kindergarten. But I had to hide my trepidation and sadness, considering how excited the rest of my kids were. Despite our little hiccup & hospital stay 2 days before school, we plowed forward on Sunday night with father's blessings & preparation for the big day. All 4 kids were so excited, they could barely stand it. Clothes were all laid out, outfits planned, backpacks packed, and breakfast ready for the next morning. And we moved ahead.


 
First day of 7th grade
Sydney declared that she wasn't nervous at all about 7th grade - she just wanted to get to school to see who all was in her classes. Oooohh, I remember that. So fun. So exciting to compare schedules and who got what teacher. No nerves, only irritation with her mommy for wanting to take pictures, and annoyance with her younger siblings for, well, everything - namely, just being younger siblings.


 
First day of 4th grade

 
Austin and his teacher, Mrs. Fronczak

Austin was wayyyy too cool for school - and Mom. The week before school when we went to Meet the Teacher, I had put together little tins of Andes mints for my 3 younger kids' teachers that said, "I'm so glad you are 'mint' to be my teacher this year." (I love me some teacher treats!) Seth & Brooklyn could not wait to give them to their teachers. Austin asked me to carry his in my purse, and when we met his teacher he was SO EMBARASSED to have to hand her a gift!!! SO NOT COOL in 4th grade, I guess. It's funny to me, the difference between girls & boys. Sydney still loves to take treats to her teachers, even in jr high. Austin has CLEARLY outgrown it. Anyway - he was sooooo over the picture taking too. You can tell in these pictures. The smirk is so lovely. I keep reminding them (or lecturing to them) that they will appreciate the timeline of 1st Day pics one day.


 
First day of 2nd Grade

 
Seth and his teacher, Mrs. Ferreiro

Seth insisted that he wanted to go to school the first day, despite being less than 36 hours out of surgery. The doctor had told us in the hospital that he could totally go to school if he was feeling up to it - it just depended on his pain level. He said he was ready, so I took him - figuring he probably wouldn't make it through the day, but at least he would get to do the 1st Day morning excitement. He was adorable. I had to give him the little pep talk to NOT be grumpy with people for continuously asking what happened to his arm. I warned him that lots of people were going to ask, and that he didn't need to tell the whole story - just to tell people that he fell at the park. He told me that he would "just tell the whole story," however I know my boy...I knew he would be so annoyed by the end of the day. About 30 seconds before the bell rang, the nerves took over, and Seth decided school was NOT what he wanted to do that day. But he pushed through, got in line, and headed in with his class.
 

Wellll... He lasted 1 whole hour at school. His teacher called an hour into the day & said Seth's arm was hurting him. So Brooklyn & I went back to the school, scooped him up, and brought him home to rest. Miraculously, he didn't mention his arm hurting once more that entire day - while he chilled on the couch watching TV. Day 2 I had to warn him that he was welcome to come home if his arm was really hurting, but if he did we would have to do lots of reading most of the day since I didn't want him getting behind in his class. He immediately decided he would stay all day. And he did. Seth was excited, but the nerves surfaced right before the bell rang, and he got scared. Seth doesn't have a ton of friends at school, and it makes me so sad for him. He's not the most outgoing kid who will just make friends, so I worry for him... none of the boys he played with most are in his class this year, so I hope he makes some good friends this year.


 

1st Day of Kindergarten

 
Brooklyn and her teacher, Mrs. Silva

Ahhh, the hour I was dreading finally arrived. Time to drop my baby girl off for PM kindergarten. I had tried to prepare myself for the dam that I knew was about to burst... It was the longest morning ever for my girl, who COULD NOT WAIT for 11:45 to roll around. She was ecstatic. Not an ounce of fear or anxiety. I was so glad.
 

Waiting for the gates to open


We arrived at the school, and her teacher gave all the parents a little bag of tissue and poem about leaving their kindergartener. Brooklyn wanted me to read it to her, so I did. That started the waterworks, so I was glad I had on dark sunglasses. The bell rang, and with a hug and kiss, my baby was off. She didn't even look back. I got myself to the car, and, well...it wasn't pretty. In the spirit of full disclosure, I will be honest and admit that I sat in my van for nearly 25 minutes and cried my eyes out. Not only because I had just sent my baby off to kindergarten - but for the incredible sadness that I am feeling about the stage of my life that is over. Sad that there are no more. It's no secret that I would have loved for Brooklyn to not be our baby (Kevin, not so much)... so I am just sad. And I am still sad. 2 weeks into school, and I am still sad about it. I need to pull myself together about this, but sheesh...it's just not happening.
 
Does this look like a successful 1st day of kindergarten or what?

The day ended with reports of a GREAT DAY all around. I love the first day reports, and getting every little detail from my kids - who they sat with at lunch, who all is in their classes, what their teachers are like, what they though was great, what they hated, who the naughty kids are, all of it...I love it. It was hotter than the hinges of hell when we finally made it off the scorching blacktop and back to the car, so we stopped at 7-11 for slurpees all around, and went home to NO HOMEWORK. Nobody had homework on the first day, and THAT was a great gift for Momma.
 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

We Like To Send Summer Out With a Bang

First of all, we can go ahead and laugh for a good 10 seconds at my lame attempt to document our summer. C'mon, now. I'm getting old. In fact, I turned 33 over the summer. It turns out, I'm just not too ambitious in my old age. So my intentions to blog our summer activities were great, but my efforts sucked. There ya go.

But I have to write down all the happenings of our last day of summer before I forget the details (as it turns out, my sharp memory is goin in my old age, & it is killing me). This will be long, but maybe someday Seth will appreciate my efforts to document my entire memory from this experience. (he's a boy, so probably not - but maybe his wife will, right?)
We ended summer with one hell of a bang - or at least Seth did. On our very last day of Summer Break (Saturday), Austin had soccer practice at 8:30 that morning. Seth had a soccer scrimmage at the same park at 9:00. I'm sure at some point I remarked how convenient it was that we lucked out to have both boys needing to be at the same park within 30 min of each other. Kevin headed off to work (thank you, looming tax deadline), Syd headed off to a babysitting job, and I loaded up the boys & Brooklyn, picked up the boys' 2 friends (& teammates), and headed off to the park. Seth & his friend Maddox had about a half hour to play at the park before their scrimmage, while I settled into my chair to watch Austin's practice. It was HOT. SO HOT. (I had no idea this blasted miserable Vegas heat would turn my day upside down)

About 10 minutes before the scrimmage was supposed to start, Seth ran over to me wailing & threw himself into my lap yelling that he was hurt. Any mom out there knows that cry - the one that signals true pain. The one that makes your instincts on high alert & in a split second you know this is not just a dramatic whine. There was no blood, so I just kept saying "Where are you hurt?" and "Calm down! What hurts?" It was then that Seth lifted his right arm and said "MY ARMMMM!" and it was as if there was a joint in the middle of his forearm. The entire middle of his arm dipped right down and I shrieked. He then moved his arm again and the whole end of it flopped down like he had another wrist. It was INSANE. I was expecting the bone to pop right through the skin. The 2 other moms I was talking to helped me get my crap loaded right back into the van, while I kept repeating "We gotta get to urgent care." I grabbed Brooklyn, loaded her up, and carefully got Seth into the car with his arm resting on the only flat thing I had handy - a Book of Mormon. Thankfully, my brother-in-law pulled up just then & I begged him to get the other 3 boys home for me. I screeched out of the parking lot with Seth still wailing and crying and moaning. I felt so awful for him. My momma bear instincts were in full gear, and I knew it was bad. I called Kevin who had only been at work for a few minutes, and told him that Seth had fallen somehow, and we were headed to urgent care - then I realized what I was saying & corrected myself - we were going straight to the emergency room. I've never taken any of my kids to the ER. Ever. We've always just gone to urgent care. RSV? Urgent Care. 2 broken collar bones? Urgent Care. Stitches? Urgent Care. This time, I knew this was much bigger than urgent care. I started to get emotional on the phone with Kevin, and told him to meet me at the hospital. As soon as I hung up the phone I had to do a little pep-talking to my momma self and tell myself I needed to pull it together and be brave so that Seth didn't see me losing it. So I wiped my eyes, and apologized to my baby boy for every single little bump we had to drive over on our way to the hospital.

I was right. This was much bigger than urgent care. We walked into the St. Rose ER, where they slapped a bracelet on Seth's (other) arm, and walked us straight back to the Peds ER. Within 5 minutes they got Seth on an IV and were pumping the pain medicine with his Harry Potter arm propped on a pillow. If you have seen the 2nd Harry Potter movie when Harry's arm loses it's bones and he has to re-grow the bones, that's exactly what Seth's arm reminded me of:

 


 


And then we waited for xray to come take pictures. As soon as the pain medicine started pumping, Seth was a-ok since he could lay there and watch Spongebob. Xray came and took their pics, and within about 15 minutes they had sent the pics to the ER doc's phone. Here's what we found:
 
 


I gasped. I knew it was bad, but seeing just how bad it was nearly made me lose my breakfast. In the same 5 minutes the doctor showed me those gnarly xrays, and explained that Seth would definitely need surgery to reset the bones. He asked me if we have an orthopaedic surgeon we have seen before. Well, yes we do. We saw him last week, in fact. The ER doc explained that since Dr. Thomas (our dr) is the only pediatric orthopaedic surgeon that HPN will approve, if he wasn't on call or would agree to come in, we may be out of luck. The ER doc left to try & get a hold of Dr. Thomas, and I started to cry. I couldn't take it. I was pissed. So mad at stupid HPN - how on earth is it that they will only contract with ONE surgeon in all of Las Vegas?!!! Are you freaking kidding me?!! I was so mad that I was sitting in the hospital with my baby, worried about surgery, but having to stress out that we may have to pay out of pocket for another surgeon if we couldn't get the ONE that they think we should see. Absurd. (Now would be an appropriate time to mention that I can't stand HPN) So I prayed. A lot.

Within about 20 minutes the ER dr came back and said he had called in some favors, and Dr Thomas had agreed to come in to do Seth's surgery. I breathed the biggest sigh of relief, uttered a complete prayer of thanks, and we got down to business with getting Seth admitted. But first - they had to splint his arm. THAT was, by far, THE most heart-wrenching part of the entire ordeal. Because his arm was so unstable, it was EXCRUCIATING for the 2 nurses to lift up his arm and move it around while they put the splint on & wrap it. I had to fold my arms and hug myself tight because I seriously wanted to punch those nurses in the teeth and rip their hands off. Seth cried and cried, and begged them, "PLEASE stop! No! No! That hurts so bad!!!" The tears were streaming, and was almost too much for this momma.

He couldn't have the surgery until 4pm when there was an OR available and it had been enough hours since he had had breakfast. So they wheeled Seth's bed out of the ER and up to the Peds floor. He thought it was sooooo cool to not have to walk - to have his bed rolled up to his room. He was enjoying the hospital a little too much - it was hilarious. Loved the bed, loved the TV, loved that he didn't have to get out of bed, loved all the people doting on him. Loved all of it. Except the broken arm part.
 


Then we waited for the doctor. As soon as Dr Thomas showed up and came in to explain what he was gonna do, I felt so relieved. It was nice to already have a relationship with him, and know that Seth was in good hands. He is the one treating Sydney for her scoliosis, and we have already spent a great deal of time visiting with him. He was soooooo good and so funny with Seth in explaining to Seth how he was going to fix his arm. Seth had a bunch of questions - more about whether or not he was gonna get to wake up in his fancy bed than about the doctor putting nails in his arm to put the bones back together. When Seth asked him "When am I going to get the sleeping potion?" I figured we were good to go. Kevin gave him a blessing, and we were ready. (what??? Is any mom ever ready for that?)

We headed down to get him prepped for the OR, where the kind and sweet nurses were waiting for us. The anesthesiologist explained to Seth how he was gonna fall asleep and she would be right by his head the whole time, and the other nurses were so nice. My little Sethro was so brave. He didn't even seem scared. I tried so hard to not show how scared I was for him. Before we knew it, Dr Thomas came out and put Seth's little surgery cap on him (to match his) and wheeled him back to the operating room himself. Talk about feeling the saddest feeling EVAH to watch your baby go off all by himself. So lonely. So scary.

And then we waited. We went down to the cafeteria to finally eat something, and I dined on a gross hot dog and a delicious Coke. We caught up on a little Hurricane Irene news, and headed back up to the surgery waiting area. I got a really sweet call from Seth's soccer coach calling to see how he was doing, and I had to break the news that he was going to be down a player for a while.

After about 2 hrs 15 min (the longest 2 hrs & 15 minutes of my life) Dr. Thomas came out & let us know everything went well. He told us that when the ER dr had sent the xrays to his phone, he didn't think the ulna was broken all the way through. But it was. Both the radius and the ulna were broken all the way through. He had to put 2 long pins in (1 in each bone), make 4 incisions, and it all went back together so nicely. Here is the finished product:
 


The pins will have to come out in about 6-9 months. He put a cast on that is split on 2 sides & wrapped in a bandage to allow for Seth's arm to swell after the surgery. We'll go back next week to get that cast taken off & a regular cast put on for 5 weeks. At this point, Seth can't wait for that - he can't wait for the COLORED cast that his friends can sign. He was so funny when he first woke up, wiggling his tongue instead of his thumb when the nurse tried to get him to wiggle his fingers & thumb. He had a few visitors that night, although who knows if he has any recollection of that since he was pretty loopy still.
 


As soon as he woke from surgery he had a few visitors, including his friend Maddox who had been with him when he fell that morning.
 

We stayed overnight in the hospital so that we could take full advantage of the morphine available, and went home the next morning. I came home so thankful, and am still so grateful for all our caring friends and family - all the texts full of concern. Everything worked out, and I know the good Lord was watching over us. So thankful for Dr. Thomas spending his Saturday fixing up my boy. So glad I was the one to drive the boys that morning (we alternate carpool). So thankful for the power of the priesthood and feeling even more blessed than ever to be my little Sethro's momma. He is such a sweetheart and was so so brave. He came home and rested some more - a lot of well deserved naps, and LOTS of Harry Potter movies (Momma ain't complainin about that!)
 


He got a visit from our bishop the next day, his Barlow cousins, and late Sunday night just before bed (amidst the 1st day of school hype), Grandpa Garrard showed up with SEVEN maple bars for Sethro. Seth loves maple bars, and so does my dad. Several months ago Seth pointed out that he and grandpa are a 'match' because they both like to sleep, and they both like maple bars. So funny. So Grandpa came through with Seth's very own stash of maple bars (and a few chocolate cake donuts for mom). Grandpa is so thoughtful that way! We finished off Sunday with 1st Day of School blessings, and sent my little loves off to bed (with a fresh dose of tylenol with codeine for the little bone-breaker).

And that's how we ended our Summer of 2011.

On Tuesday we went back to the same park for Austin's soccer practice, and Seth was so eager to show me the scene of the accident and exactly what it was that he fell off of:
 
When he tried to grab on to the metal bar of one of these, it was too hot (it was only about 107 degrees that day) so he let go & fell. He landed on his stomach, with his right arm underneath him.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Day #6, Day #7

Lawsy...our days have been bo-ring this week. Not much excitement at all. Day 6's big adventure for the day? A trip to Sam's Club with all 5 of us. Whoop-dee-doo. I will say that my kids all jumped at the chance to get out of the house when I said I needed to go to Sam's for a few things. They know I'm a sucker for the Sam's Cafe, so we lunched on hot dogs, drinks, & pretzels before I did my grocery shopping. Please...where else can I feed 5 of us for under 10 bucks? I decided to steal my friend Chris' idea and pay my kids a penny for every page this summer. Reading at least 30 minutes a day (which always ends up being longer than that for my 2 big kids - once they start, they just keep going) is part of their daily to-do list, so writing down how many pages they plow through each day. I was unsure when I offered it up just how much they would actually make, but even Seth is getting through 60-70 pages a day in that 30 minutes. Not too shabby. That night my mom had arranged a family baptisms for the dead session up at the temple, since it was Kenzie's first time going. Kevin, me, Sydney, Sarah, Tyler, Mackenzie, Nate & my mom all went up to the temple and did baptisms and confirmations for 67 of my mom's family names that she has done family history work for. I gotta say...it was probably one of the few times Kevin & I will both be there inside the temple with Syd before she gets married, so that was sweet. After the temple Syd went home with the Barlows for a sleepover, and that was the end to our exciting day. Whoop.

Day #7
I woke up with much angst about yesterday...I knew it would be fairly uneventful as far as going and doing with the kids, but the big event for me was Sydney's doctor appointment at 2:40. I don't know why, but I was nervous. After getting the news of needing a brace, etc. 2 weeks ago, I decided to make an appt for a 2nd opinion with another specialist, just to make sure we are on the right path with the right brace, etc. The Spinecor brace that Syd's doctor prescribed is much newer and a very different type of brace than the traditional scoliosis braces. I can't explain why, but despite how appealing that one is, and how much I WANT Sydney to have it, I still felt like we needed to get more info or another opinion to weigh it all out. But I was nervous. Thursdays are babysitting days for me, when I tend my friend's 2 girls. So Mara & Ella came yesterday, and it was war all day between my 4 kids over who got to play with them. To put it mildly, those girls are very loved at our house, and I have to pretty much set a timer for who gets to play with each of them at what times. Kevin got off work early to come home so I could take Syd to her doctor appointment (I barely slept last night, which means that whole thing & the quandry I am now in is a separate blog post itself). Sydney went babysitting last night, annnnd that was pretty much it. We made forts, and Seth never got out of his pajamas yesterday. Holla.

I am leaving town today for a quick trip to Utah with my sis for a friend's wedding, and to spend some time with the one and only Angela Webb. I have not coped well this first week of summer, and have decided that summer sucks without the Webbs. My kids miss them dearly, but most of all I hate not having Angela here to lunch with, to hang out, to borrow kids when my kids are bored, for sleepovers for my kids, or to call and say, "hey, I gotta go to Sam's/Target/Walmart, you wanna come with me?" I know. Waaaaa.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summahhhhh!

If I were, like, totally on top of it, I would blog every single day of summer like my hero Chanel. Clearly that's not happening...but I AM documenting all that's going on around here and my efforts to do SOMEthing fun each day - so we don't round the corner on August 30th and go, "geez, what'd we do all summer???" So here ya go, kids... (I'm speaking to MY kids who may need to read this someday when they lament about only ever doing chores chores chores and NEVER having fun.)
Day #1:
The first official full day of summer break... And after 180 days of having to wake Brooklyn up and literally yank her out of bed & carry her to the car to drop the kids off at school, she showed up at the side of my bed at 6:30am - "Mommy, I got up EARLY!" Yes, yes you did. Despite my efforts to get her to go back to sleep in momma's bed, she wasn't havin it. I had to go pick up Sydney's medical records & xrays from her doctor's office, pick up Syd from her sleepover with her girlfriends, and Austin went to hang at his friend Zack's for a few hours to play a little Wii and go to the water park (thanks, Chris!)... Our big activity for the day, you ask? A 550-piece puzzle we had never opened. Let's not go crazy with the summer business, I say. We're gonna ease into the marathon summer days (translation: mom did not want to go anywhere!). We spent a good few hours on that bad boy, and still did not finish it until 2 days later. (Seth and Brooklyn were not all that keen on the puzzle being our 'summer activity'...can't figure out why!)

Day #2:
Being Saturday, with nothing on the calendar until that evening (love it!) Kevin decided to take all 4 of the kidlets to the rec center to swim. Holla!!! I packed their lunches, sunblocked all the kids, packed the swim bag, and sent them on their merry way. They had a fabulous time, and we are all set with our punch card for the summer to make many return trips. It's a whole different experience without a baby or toddler to follow around. :-) Kevin & I went to our friend's wedding that night, and Sydney babysat 2 of her cousins at our house - which meant fun for all the kids - Mom & Dad gone + cousins = fun any way you slice it.

Day #3:
Come, now. Sunday. How exciting can we get? Hmmm. Church. Visit to Grandma Beth's. There ya go. Youth Conference meeting for Mom, Girls Camp meeting for Mom, annnnd that's about it.

Day #4:
This being the start of the first full week of summer, I had high hopes for fabulous chores and productivity for this day. I realized quickly that our daily schedules were going to be a little more go-with-the-flow than I had planned, but oh well... Syd got asked to babysit, so she headed out to work for pay (as opposed to slave away at home). We all got our chores done, and with the promise of making pizzas for dinner, I ran over to Trader Joe's for pizza dough. The kids finished their chores while I was gone, and we made a trip to the library. We'll be making a few of these this summer. We signed up the 3 kids I had with me for the library's Summer Reading Program, loaded up on books, and then realized when we got to the counter with our 22 items that Genius Mom had left her wallet in her gym bag that morning. Good glory, if I could get it together that would be grrrreatttt. I didn't even have my ID to have them reissue me a new card. We had to leave our stack, drive home, get the wallet, drive back, and finally check out our stack of books. And then back home to make pizzas for din-din. I rounded off the night with a party at my brother's house watching The Bachelorette with my sis & 2 brothers, with Dave showing off his shiatsu skills on Sarah & Nate (he's in massage school, and we are all benefiting - it is awesome!):
(Sorry boys, I couldn't resist sharing this one...) We got many a laugh out of Dave's shiatsu moves. Good times. I love that this summer Dave is off most weeknights, Sarah doesn't have to be up at 5, and Mike & Emily will be home next month. Good times!

Day #5:
Not gonna lie: LA-ZY start to the day. There was much tv-watching so that Mom could get things done. Finally, I decided it was time to kick it into gear. I doled out the chores - 5 per kid - with promise of going to see Kung Fu Panda 2 at the theater. Tuesdays are $5 movie day, and I love it. I LOVE going to the movies (I used to hate it), and $5 per person is a deal. Plus, $2 popcorn. It's a treat. We're all excited to go see Cars 2 next Tuesday...not gonna lie, I'm just as excited.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

History Repeated

Fair warning: This is a long post. I apologize. I type like I talk - in large amounts. But writing this is more for my own journaling & posterity than anything else.

Many moons ago at the lovely age of 11 I was diagnosed with scoliosis. The curve of my spine measured at 22 degrees, which, we learned was high enough to warrant some kind of treatment. By the time my curve reached 25 degrees, the doctor decided it was time for bracing. I was *blessed* to wear a Milwaukee brace during the already-awkward age of 12/13, in my 7th grade year. It. Sucked. My brace was a hard plastic body-jacket that wrapped around my entire torso, closing with straps on the back. It had a metal bar that went up the front up to my chin, and 2 bars that went up the back to the back of my head. Then the bars were all connected at the top, around my neck. I wore it 23 hours a day, only taking it off to shower. It had so many screws & buckles & hardware on it, it chewed up the back of my hair causing me to have to chop my hair super short (combine that with my huge glasses...nice, eh?). All the hardware on the back also put a million holes in my clothes. Constantly. The clothes that were about 4 sizes bigger than what size I really was so they would fit over my brace. It was incredibly hot. Kids at school (and church) called me names like Robocop & Iron Maiden. It was lovely.
Unfortunately, because I was a cranky and moody gal, I have discovered we have very few pictures that show my brace. And I hate that we threw it away without taking a picture of the full thing. Here are a couple of what we do have, that only show the top:



Here is a picture of one similar to what mine looked like (mine went up much higher on my back & stomach & cut just under my armpits):


I wore this one for a year. After a year, my brace had mostly kept my curve from getting worse, and the curve measured at only 28 degrees. We switched doctors to a spine specialist, and he allowed me to try out a different brace, which only required me to sleep in it at night. I was over the moon. I still remember leaving the doctor's office that day with my parents & going to Carl's Jr for lunch to celebrate. I wore that one for about 6 months, and then went back for a checkup for the doctor to check & see if it was doing the job... the curve had increased to 36 degrees. I was still only 13, and the doctor announced it was time for surgery. It was a rough day. I cried and cried. No Carl's Jr celebratory lunch that day. I had just tried out & made the dance team, and now would not be able to be a part of it. I would not be able to go up to Idaho with Sarah - our summer trip where we were going to get to go all by ourselves. I was just about to enter high school, and was convinced that my freshman year would be another awkward school experience riddled with being different and weird because, again, I would be wearing a brace (for 4 months after the surgery). Try school shopping for the first day of high school, having to look for only elastic-waist shorts. It doesn't get much better than that. So cool. So trendy.

My back surgery was July 13, 1992 - my parents' 16th wedding anniversary. After a long 10-day hospital stay, spinal fusion from T11-L3, and a titanium rod & 5 screws, I came home with my new brace and zero energy to do anything but lay down. I remember school shopping for shoes that summer, and laying on the floor of Mervyn's shoe department because it was taking so long for everyone to pick out their shoes, and I couldn't stand any longer (and I was wearing my sister's navy shorts overalls from Miller's Outpost because those were the only thing we had that could fit over my brace). And I also remember laying on my bed, watching hours and hours of the Barcelona Olympics on our little black and white TV. School started, and after 4 months I was able to shed the brace, and a year later I was finally able to resume all physical activity (except skiing, horseback riding, or running). As it turns out, my doctor's theory that the top curve on my spine would straighten out once the bottom curve was corrected didn't exactly hold true. It was corrected down to 12 degrees right after my surgery, but here are the most recent x-rays I have of my back (taken nearly 6 years ago):

Fast forward 19 years. Since scoliosis is hereditary, and much more prevalent in girls than boys, I have always expected that my girls would have it to some degree. Kevin's sister also has it, and hers was also severe enough to warrant surgery in her teens. So my girls are fortunate enough to get a double dose of the scoliosis genes. About 18 months ago the pediatrician took a look at Syd's back and noted a small 'rib hump'. He gave us a referral to an orthopedic surgeon as a precautionary measure so that she could be monitored. We saw him in February, and her curve measured at 10-11 degrees. No biggie. Whew. 2 months later, it measured 13 degrees. An increase, but still...not that big of a deal. Another checkup 3 months later (July 2010) showed an increase to 17 degrees. Definitely higher than normal, but still not quite high enough to warrant treatment. We went back 6 months later, and the curve had shifted a little bit higher on her spine, but had held at 17-ish degrees. Last week was Sydney's next checkup, and in 4 months her curve had increased from 17 to 30 degrees. Yikes. The moment he pulled her x-rays up on the monitor, I knew instantly it was not good. So did the doctor. The change was obvious before he even measured. I knew it was higher...I wasn't exactly expecting THAT much higher. 13 degrees in 4 months is quite a bit. Here's the ironic bit: Syd's curve is T11-L3...the exact same spot mine was. Weird, huh? He then dropped the bomb that brought back a flood of emotions for me from 21 years ago: "It's time to start wearing a brace."

(current xray on the left, xray from 4 months ago on the right)

There are a handful of times I can recall really having to try hard to put on a brave face for my kiddos... when they are facing something that is so nerve-racking for themselves, and you know it will be just fine, and a good thing in the end, yet they are so anxious and nervous and bordering on tears - you moms know what I mean. Things like the first day of middle school, or the time Sydney flew alone on an airplane a couple years ago - so many anxious butterflies. Even though you know it'll be great, it's so freakin hard to not get the lump in your throat or hold the tears in yourself to be reassuring and brave when you see your baby so nervous. This was, most definitely, one of those times for this momma.

I was pleasantly surprised when the doctor gave us information on the type of brace he thinks Sydney would be a good candidate for. It is the only CORRECTIVE brace on the market right now (most bracing options only keep the curve from worsening - this one has actually show improvement). Although the doctor was somewhat concerned with how much the curve has increased in such a short period of time, considering Sydney has not quite hit her major growth spurt, we are cautiously optimistic that this will help improve the crooked situation, and ultimately improve it enough to not end up in the operating room. We will see. Here is the brace we are hoping Sydney will get:
She will only have to wear this one about 20 hours per day, which would allow her to take it off for things like dance team or swimming or other activities she is involved in if she needs to. Oh - and Madonna's daughter has this same type of brace...not bad, eh?:


She will likely wear it for about 2 years, assuming her curve does not continue to increase. I am leery, and know that there are no guarantees. Those bones can be stubborn, and she is currently only 6 degrees away from where I was when the doc decided it was surgery time. I'm preparing for the worst, praying for the best you could say. We have an appointment with another doctor this week for a 2nd opinion, just to be sure that this is the route we should be heading down. Dr. Camp specializes in pediatric scoliosis, so I am eager to see what he has to say. And then she goes to be fitted next week for her brace (if Dr. Camp concurs with Dr. Thomas' recommendations)

Sydney has been so brave through all of this news, and we are so proud of her. She is such a good girl, and I sometimes wonder how on earth I was blessed to have such a mild-mannered (albeit SO incredibly stubborn) child to balance out my crazy-lady-ness.
I know we've got a long road ahead of us...but I also know (from MANY an argument) that ma girl has will & determination like nobody has ever seen before!

To be continued...

The Plan...(for teaching my kids how to be decent humans)

A few weeks ago I plopped my butt on my friend Angela's blog where she told all about this book & what she was doing with it... The book is called "The Parenting Breakthrough: A real-life plan to teach your kids to work, save money, and be truly independent". As soon as I saw Angela's handy dandy binders she had made for her kids based on The Plan outlined in this book, and all that they included, I was hooked. I'm sure my family is so fed up with hearing about 'The Plan,' they are wanting to flush this book down the toilet on the cover. BUT... my friends, I am optimistic this could change our family's life. The book covers so much more than just The Plan, all of which is great. After all, I do NOT want my little lovies still living at home with me still cleaning up all their CRAP when they are 37. No, I want them to be some trash-kickin' independent adults who know how to work, save money, and live on their own.


Seeing how this is our FIRST ever Summer Vacation, I am excited to implement a ton of this into our summer life. In a nutshell, The Plan outlines a list of things that kids should be able to do or learn to do at each age - from age 3, up to age 17. The idea is that when my kids are 18 and moving out to go to college or heading off on their missions, they will know how to clean, cook, and save money. They will know how to operate and take care of a car. They will know how to do household repairs and how to do household chores WELL. They will know how to manage debt, communicate with people, and they will understand the importance of setting goals and working toward them.

My kids are actually excited to learn a ton of the stuff in their books, and I have realized that we have quite a bit of catching up to do. When I mentioned to Sydney that she should have learned to sew on a button when she was 9, she quickly pointed out, "My sewing machine always jams up!" Ahhhhh, yes. My point exactly. I had to give her the first lesson in sewing on a button: that you don't sew on a button with a sewing machine. So, yes. We have a lot of work to do. First things first: I made my kids' books.

Secondly, I had to reiterate that we will not be passing these things off at warp speed...this will be a slow process - a LEARNING process - rather than a hurry-and-do-it-so-I-can-pass-it-off process. The book suggests that for most items, they should be Observed, then Trained a couple of times (working WITH them), then a few Practice times of the kids doing the item themselves, before it is finally Passed Off. I can assure you, all 4 of my kids think they are great at making their beds. But we will be having a few training sessions starting, ummm, TOMORROW, showing them that simply smoothing out the covers is not really making their beds. Obviously, we will not need to Observe, Train, Train, Practice, Practice, Practice, and Practice things like Learning About Puberty & Sex. Many items will simply be passed off after the first time, of course. I added several items to the lists in the book to fit our own family based on things that Kevin and I think are important, and I left plenty of spaces for each year to add in things that we may think of later.
We have not yet decided the reward system we will be using for passing items off the list (i.e. once everyone completes 5 items, the FAMILY gets to do blah blah blah), but it will include individual rewards as well as family rewards.
I don't know if this is making sense, or if I'm just rambling...but I'll give you an example of 1 of the lists:
9 YEARS OLD:
Mop floor
Clean pictures
Bake cakes
Bake cookies
Understand emergency preparedness
Learn basic first aid
Fill car with gas
Wash car
Vacuum interior of car
Hammer nails
Saw wood
Cook vegetables
Write letters
Understand puberty & sex
Use e-mail
Understand basic science
Wrap presents
Sew on buttons
Change sheets on a bed
Pack self for a trip
Complete 2 items per section in Faith in God book
I know, it seems like a lot. But if nothing else, it gives me an idea of the things I need to just let go & let my kids at least try. So many things are MUCH easier and faster to do ourselves as moms, and it is quite literally PAINFUL to watch something be done messier and not as quickly as we would do it. But if I don't cut the ties now, my kids are surely going to be the annoying college roommate that never cooks, never washes their clothes, and won't help clean...and they'll be burning their car's engine up because they never knew it needed oil. I have to admit, we have already had Austin pump the gas a few times. It's rather nice to pull up to the pump, hand him the card, and let him get out & fill us up!

So. The summer is our oyster, and we have much to accomplish and catch up on. We will most certainly be working many of these items into the daily & weekly chores, as well as scout & personal progress requirements. Yippee -kai-yai-yay...hang on - it could be a rough ride while I convince my chillen that they will be GRATEFUL one day that they learned all this schtuff!

P.S. If any of you 5 people who may happen to see this blog post want me to email you my lil spreadsheets, I'm happy to share the joy. Email me at ekmohler@hotmail.com and I'll happily oblige!