Sunday, August 30, 2009

I'm a Little Like Voldemort

I love my home. I love my house, my neighborhood, and the drive to my neighborhood. I love my ward and most especially my wonderful fabulous friends in my ward who have been our family for so many years.

But I sure have a hard time leaving Utah.

I know from past experience that once I get home I'll be ok. My life is busy and full, and I know that in a short time I will be able to celebrate the happy experiences I've just had.

But the process of leaving gets me every time.

When I leave Utah I leave:
  • my sweet daughter, who may be 21 now but is still my baby
  • the sister who looks enough like me that her babies are confused
  • my dad, who rescued me over and over again on this trip
  • brothers who I never have very much time with
  • a cousin who shares her talents with me so generously
  • the friend who helps me work through my most difficult issues
  • the sister who looks so much like my mother
  • a step mother with a freezer full of ice cream bars to treat my kids
  • my brother's wives that I wish I had time to get to know better
  • in laws who raised the nicest kids in the world
  • friends who used to be a necessary part of our daily lives
  • more aunts and uncles and cousins that I can even count
  • Russ's sisters, who we love to hang out with
  • dozens of adorable nieces and nephews
  • children that I love almost as much as my own

On the one hand I am thrilled to have so many people to love and to be loved by. On the other hand, I hate saying goodbye. Every time I go for a visit I feel like I am having to tear away pieces of my heart in order to leave.

And so, dear reader, if you find an object sitting around your house that you don't remember seeing before, don't be so quick to throw it away. It might just be the hiding place for a piece of my heart, trying to stay with you a little longer...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Best Laid Plans

When I'd originally scheduled our trip to Utah I had planned to leave on Friday or Saturday to start driving back home. Then one day I was reading in the Ensign and noticed that the dedication of the Oquirrh Mountain Temple was scheduled for Sunday the 23rd, and was going to be broadcast to stake centers throughout Utah.

I figured we couldn't pass up a chance to attend a temple dedication, and so we made arrangements to get tickets, to spend the night Saturday in Smithfield, (at my dad's house) and to attend the dedication with my dad & Ramona.

It didn't work out quite that way.

When we left Russ's parents house on Saturday I told the kids that they had to have a nap on the way to Logan. I should have been suspicious of how completely zonked they were.

We spent Saturday afternoon at Sean & Katie's house putting on the 2nd coat of paint. (Yes, more ibuprofen for me!)

Here is what her walls originally looked like,

And here are Sean & I with our paint tools in front of the painted wall. It looks terrific!

Late in the afternoon as we were painting it became obvious that Jenna was running a fever. By Saturday evening it was 105. This meant that Plan #1 was changed--it was no longer ok to go and spend the night at my dad's house. Ramona's 90 year old father has recently moved in with them, and the last thing I wanted to do was to take the plague to Grandpa Luker and kill him off. I might have been ok since I had now been on antibiotics for more than a day, but if the little kids were now coming down with the plague we definitely couldn't go.

Fortunately for us our wonderful friend Katie said that it was ok for us to stay with them, since we'd already been around them with our germs.

On Sunday morning I changed Plan #2 and sent off Jason, Rachel, and Jared to go to the dedication with my dad. I was so sad not to be able to go!

Happily I was able to go to the afternoon dedication session with my dad and Ramona while Jason watched sick Jenna.

By Sunday evening it was obvious that now Jared was running a fever. And I was starting to panic. Plan #3 was that we were supposed to start driving back to North Carolina first thing Monday morning, and I wasn't sure I could do that A)with sick little kids, or B)if my co-driver Jason got the plague. Katie's neighbor, a very nice physician's assistant, came over and looked at the kids and wrote prescriptions for them. In a move very unlike my normal self, I asked for a prescription for Rachel and Jason too, and he obliged. (What a nice man!)

Sure enough, Rachel woke up Monday morning with a fever and by the time I was back from my agonizingly long wait at the Walmart pharmacy (apparently insurance companies don't like to fill prescriptions for triplets all at the same time because it confuses their computers even if the children in question already have "individual person codes"!) Jason was obviously sick. So much for my other driver. I finally decided (after crying about it for a while and feeling pretty bad for myself) that we would change Plan #3 and stay for 2 more days to give the kids a chance to let the antibiotics start working.

Friday, August 28, 2009

In Which I Get Sick, Paint a Lot, Imitate Sleeping Beauty, and Take Care of 13 Children

On Sunday after our time together at Temple Square it was time for Russ to fly back to NC to go back to work. The big boys were going to go back to my sister's house in Genola for a few days. (This time in Genola without me is for some reason the highlight of my sons' lives. I don't get it.) The little kids and I were going to go back to Logan to stay with our friends, where I planned to paint their family room/dining area/kitchen. Then we would come down to Genola and babysit Andra's 8 kids (did you catch that? She has 8 kids!!!) while she and her husband flew to NC for her 20th class reunion.

There was just one hitch in my plans. Russ picked up some annoying cough on his way to Utah, which during his 10 day vacation had morphed into full fledged bronchitis and a sinus infection. I had done my best to be careful and not catch his plague-like disease, and it worked...until his last day in Utah. On Sunday I had a pesky little cough, and on Monday I could tell that I was truly getting sick. By Monday night I definitely sounded sick--all of the coughing had produced a voice about an octave lower than my regular voice!

Monday I spent messing with paint colors. My friend Katie had a lot of paint swatches on her walls, and none of them was the right color for her house. One popular color was too yellow, one was too dark, and another was so light it didn't even show up on her walls. I had the idea to mix some of the samples that she already had together to try to find something she liked. I would take a bit of this color and a bit of that color and mix them together, then paint them on a poster board and see how she liked the color on her wall. Eventually we ended up with 1 part Sienna Sand, 1 part Way-too-dark Brown, and 3 parts white.

On Tuesday morning we took the paint sample to the paint store and had them match our color, and then we lugged the 5 gallon bucket into the garage so that I could start painting. I could tell that my cough was getting worse and that I was running a fever, but I kept popping the ibuprofen and sucking on cough drops. I was determined to get the first coat of paint on.

When I finally finished late in the afternoon I was exhausted. I collapsed on the couch for about an hour, and when I finally managed to wake up for dinner was told I looked awful.

With friends like that a person doesn't need enemies! ;)

The night before I had taken a little Nyquil to help me sleep, but it hadn't been enough to stop the pesky cough. Now a normal dose of Nyquil is 2 Tablespoons, but I rarely take the normal dose of anything. I had taken only 1 teaspoon the night before, but decided on Tuesday night that I was going to take more because I was determined to sleep without coughing. So I decided that I would take 1.5 Tablespoons--still less than the regular dose, but much more than I'd taken the night before.I slept very, very well. Not even a cough.

I woke up in the morning around 7:30, sat at the table while the kids were eating, IM'd with Russ for a few minutes, and felt wiped out. At 8:30 my computer shut itself down and I told Katie that I was exhausted and needed a nap. (Now I am a napper, but generally not just an hour after getting up in the morning!) I took my pillow and earplugs and laid down in one of the kids rooms, figuring that I'd sleep for an hour or two and then wake up so that I could leave for Genola.

There was no clock in the bedroom, so when I woke up I figured I'd been asleep an hour or two. I wandered out into the house, trying to wake up and figure out what time it was. Finally I found a clock but I was sure it was wrong--the clock said 2:30! Sure enough, I had slept for 6 hours!

I'm sure Katie thought I was never coming out of there. And I think that's too much Nyquil for my body.

When I was finally all of the way awake it was time to drive to Genola to start the next part of my week. I could tell by this time that I'd seriously exhausted myself with all of the painting on Tuesday, and I arrived at Andra's house resolved to do nothing but sit on the couch on Thursday and Friday while babysitting her kids. Which would be a trick, since her youngest three are almost 2, 4, and 6, and wouldn't be in school.

On Thursday I organized my 5 kids into a babysitting rotation, giving each one of them 20-30 minutes at a time to be responsible for taking care of Andra's little kids.

I sat on the couch having a very bad hair day and every now and then Evan would come and cuddle with me. I had planned on doing a little blogging, but I didn't even do that. I just sat. Or napped.

On Friday I woke up and realized the sinus infection had arrived, and so I finally located an insta-care center near Provo that our insurance would pay for and took myself & the three little kids (who were also coughing now) off to see the doctor. The doctor said that the little kids were fine but gave me an antibiotic for my sinus infection.

Friday evening my sister Laila & her family arrived to take over the babysitting. Hooray for Laila! I was so tired and my babysitting rotation hadn't worked as well on Friday, so I was ready to turn the kids over to her.

My kids were excited that one of the brand new kitties opened it's eyes before we left. I couldn't believe it was so tiny!

Just in case you wanted to know what 13 kids looks like, here you go. Me with my 13 kids.

And this is what it felt like.

We went up to Bountiful and spent the night at Russ's parent's house. Josh had to fly out at 8:00 AM Saturday morning, and I knew that sick I couldn't get up early enough to take him to the airport. Russ's wonderful dad took him instead so that I could sleep in longer.

~to be continued~

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fun at Grandpa & Nana's House

We spent several sunny afternoons hanging out at my dad's house in Smithfield. He has the nicest back patio/yard area that is shaded perfectly in the afternoon and a perfect place to sit and visit.

The kids loved to go to visit my dad.

First, because they love Nana's freezer full of Creamies. (A local ice cream bar brand.)

Second, because they love Grandpa's motorcycle.

And third, because they love the canal behind the house. Last year they had a lot of fun playing on a swing that my dad had put up in a tree on the canal. Unbelievably, the canal company cut down the tree this spring, even after my dad told them that he would take the swing out of the tree. They were sad about that, but still managed to have fun in the canal this year.

Abigail and Benjamin came with us too, and they all had fun floating together. Laura Kate came too, but she is too little to play in the canal, and so she spent all of her time clapping her hands like royalty to get me to pick her up and carry her around. And of course I did. (Sorry--no pictures of that!)

I was a little surprised at one point when I was waiting to take some more pictures to see a snake in the canal. I didn't expect to see a water snake in Utah! After a little google searching I'm going to guess that it's a garter snake and not a true water snake after all.

Anyway, I assumed that it wasn't poisonous, and since it stayed in the weeds on the far side of the canal I didn't tell the kids it was there—no sense ruining their fun!

Loving Logan

Oops. I was going through my trip pictures and realized that I had forgotten to post two groups of pictures from our trip.

As you know, we stay in many different places during our marathon visit to Utah. One of the things that determines where we can stay, or how long we can stay, is the "Kid-Happiness Meter." I'm sure that this is something I swore as a young mother would never happen, but the reality is that it is much easier to stay somewhere when my kids are happy to be there.

I've already blogged about two of these places. All of my kids are happy to be at Andra's house in Genola. Andra was thoughtful enough to have a lot of kids, so there are lots of people to play with. And she was foresightful (is that a word?) enough to get all of those cats breeding, so there are lots of kittens to play with. Thank you Andra.

Ben's house, with it's impressive collection of dirt bikes, is also a big hit with the boy children in our family. They'd be happy to hang out with Uncle Ben and his dirt bikes on a regular basis, although it may be a while before Jason gets back on one.

There's another place that my little kids are totally and completely happy, and that's at Sean & Katie's house in Logan. We stayed with them for a couple of days while the boys were at EFY/OYA, and again for a few days while the big boys were enjoying their mom-free days in Genola.

Rachel & Jenna think that Abigail, who turns 12 at the end of August, is the coolest almost-sister ever. (Not to be confused with Cindy Lynn, who is the coolest sister ever.) And Jared thinks that hanging out with Benjamin, who is 10 months older than the triplets, is always fun.

The first day that we were there the kids decided that they were going to make a movie loosely based on High School Musical. They were adorable.

Not much of the movie got made before it was Laura Kate's nap time and quiet time started, but they still had lots of fun.

For family night we went up a nearby canyon to a lovely park and had dinner,

played in the water,

ran around,

pretended to fish,

and had a great time.

Another time when we were visiting the kids put on a show for the adults. They invited the neighbors to watch as well. Although some of the audience members were more interested in looking at Pokemon cards than in watching the show.

Jenna was the announcer.

She also passed out snacks to the audience.

Abigail and Rachel danced in the first show.

Laura Katie carried a flag to advertise the second show, which was a trilling tricks show.

Benjamin had a new bike trick, and Rachel and Jared wowed us with their roller-blading prowess.

All of the kids, including the ones in the audience, took a bow at the end of the show.

Laura Kate was sad that the fun was over.

We sure love our awesome friends!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Watson Fun on Temple Square

On Sunday morning we got up bright and early and headed into Salt Lake to see Music and the Spoken Word. Russ & I watched Andra's little boys so that they could go into the broadcast; we watched from a "family friendly" theater. But first I walked the boys around to wear them out a little before the broadcast. They were fascinated by the fountain.

I'm not sure how much good the walking around did; besides ensuring that a bunch of Conference Center volunteers fussed at me for walking around, the boys still only sat still for 15 minutes of the broadcast. I was exhausted by the end of the 30 minutes! Andra is definitely my new hero.

After the broadcast we went up on the roof. I've never seen 26 Watsons in an elevator before!

Here is Cindy Lynn talking to my dad.

The kids loved the fountains on the roof.

After we had the tour our tour guide took a group picture for us.

Then we walked down to the reflecting pool on the plaza in front of the temple for more pictures.

And then of course we had to go to the most famous Salt Lake Temple picture taking place.

I think of all of the pictures we've taken here, and I can't believe how big our kids are now.