Tuesday, September 30

When Toilets Make You Cry

Our downstairs toilet overflowed tonight. A member of our family (who shall remain unnamed) has had diarrhea for several days, and earlier this afternoon used the toilet in our small downstairs half bath. I noticed at that time that it was backed up, but as we have three toilets and only one plunger, and lately the plunger has been living upstairs, I elected to shut the door and take care of the problem later. For several hours the kids played happily with the neighbor boy. I dealt with a fussy Brooklyn, cleaned the house, and prepared dinner. As I called the boys into dinner, Kadon felt his usual dinnertime urge to use the bathroom. He came running into the kitchen about a minute later, carrying the plunger (which he kindly retrieved from my bathroom!) and telling me that there was too much toilet paper in the toilet, and I needed to plunge it.

Now, plunging is not something I have ever been able to do effectively. I plunge a toilet as most girls would--flushing the toilet, and then-without touching the disgusting black part, and with more force pushing down than pulling up. At our house, Ammon always took care of our plunging needs, which were many over the years thanks to his quirky digestive system. In fact, Ammon possessed excellent and stunning plunging skill, and often joked that it was something I needed to learn to do. Obviously, I never took him up on the offer. This evening when Kadon informed me the toilet was plugged, I tried to plunge as I normally do. This time, though, it wasn't enough. I flushed the toilet and put the plunger into the bottom and pushed down with considerable mite. To my horror, the water continued creeping up the edge of the toilet until it spilled over onto the floor. I quickly screamed for the kids to gather towels, and Jeremy showed up triumphantly in the doorway with a fistful of paper towels.

"Not those towels!" I screamed. "Real towels!! From my bathroom!! RUN!!!" The kids both scrambled up the stairs, and Brooklyn wailed from her spot on the kitchen floor. In an effort to alleviate the still clogged toilet, I made my second bad decision of the evening--flushing it again. This time, putrid water gushed over the edges of the toilet, soaking into the towels and leaving a two inch puddle around the back of the toilet. In increasing hysterics and foul language, I reached around to the back of the toilet and quickly turned the shut off valve. The immediate issue of flooding averted, I was still facing several gallons of water on the floor, and a still clogged toilet. I ordered Jeremy to grab his sister and to lock all three children in their rooms. In extreme frustration, I did the only thing I know how to do in situations like this--I called my father in law.

Russ picked up the phone, unaware of the mess that was about to land in his lap.

"My toilet is flooding, and I don't know what to do." I wailed. "I don't know if somebody put something in it, or if it's too much toilet paper, or what happened, but it's completely clogged and I have two inches of water on my bathroom floor!" Russ calmly shared with me his plunging technique, and within a matter of seconds the water drained out of the toilet.

"It worked." I said, defeated. "It's this kind of shit I need a husband for."

"I know." Said Russ. "I'm sorry."

I knew I was about to lose composure, and didn't want to do so in front of Russ yet again. In tears, I said "I have to clean this up and get the kids dinner. Thank you for your help." Before he could reply, I hung up the phone and threw it into the living room. As I used every towel in the house to mop up the mess and start a large load of laundry, I sobbed loudly. Between Brooklyn screaming upstairs and my loud crying downstairs, I'm sure the neighbors wondered what had become of the Fellows family.

I handle the weight of grief okay most of the time. I have learned to go about my daily life--both by becoming immune to the pain of old routines, and mostly through setting up new routines that aren't as painful. It is times like this, though, times that I should never have to deal with. Times that I have always been able to depend on my husband that I miss him the most. More than that, tonight brought out my absolute inferiority when it comes to household tasks. I don't know how to plunge a toilet, change a spare tire, or do basic repairs around the house. I don't feel qualified, nor do I have the desire, to learn how to do all these things. I long for the quiet, secure days of being able to rely on Ammon.

I miss him more than ever tonight, and it's all because of a silly toilet.

EDITED TO ADD:
Once I finally cleaned up the mess, fed the children dinner, called Russ back to apologize for becoming hysterical, and popped two large bags of popcorn with which to drown our sorrows, my neighbor called me.

"Are you having problems with your downstairs toilet?"
"I was. Why?"
"Because I am, Ruthie is, and the parking lot is covered in sewage water."
"Oh! You mean I screamed at my kids about putting something down the toilet for nothing?"

I'm happy to report that after 2 hours with a large pump truck in the parking lot, all systems seem to be operating normally. I guess next time I should check the parking lot before I assume that my children have transplanted something foreign into the toilet strictly to cause me grief.

Sunday, September 28

Published?

In casual conversation at church today, a friend of mine mentioned publishing as a tool for preserving my blog. Since my blog has been my journal for the last 2 1/2 years complete with photos and dates, I am extremely interested in this notion. My blog has been a part of my life through some pretty serious changes--Kadon's babyhood, my pregnancy with Brooklyn, our move from Utah to Ohio, Brooklyn's birth, and now Ammon's death and my struggles since then. It's a record I would be heartbroken to lose. I have done a small amount of research tonight, but haven't been able to find a website that would allow me to import the contents of my blog and pay to have it bound into book format and sent to me. If there are any of you more technically savvy people out there that know of such a service--please pass it on. Preserving my blog has been on my mind for the best part of the last year, it's even something I had discussed multiple times with Ammon but never got around to actually figuring out. I'd appreciate any aide out there in this matter!

Also, I noticed today that my blog address was put into the Sister to Sister newsletter at my church. I have a vague memory of adding the address to a sign up sheet weeks ago, but had forgotten about it completely until I saw it printed in the newsletter today. On that note--welcome to any new readers I have gained! It's good to have you here, and I promise to cease immediately all ill speaking of the members of our church group.



Just kidding. There has never been any ill speaking. Seriously, I couldn't have survived the last six months without the many angels that are part of our ward.

Friday, September 26

Family Pictures

The kids and I did family pictures with a good friend today, and they turned out beautifully. It was heart wrenching and bittersweet, but I'm grateful that we did it--and grateful tha tMicahel was so willing to give of his time and artistry to make our family look beautiful. I haven't decided which prints to order yet, so I will post the link here and if anyone has an opinion on which ones are the best, please help me out! You have to enter your email address to be able to see it, but it's worth it.

Our Family Session

Thursday, September 25

I can't believe she did that!

I have known my friend Christina (Who I wrote about here and here) for about 8 years now, and she is currently living in California and working on an Air Force Base doing something with NASA. I'm not sure what, but I now that she's been trying to work into a permanent position for a while now. Well, today I go to the mailbox to get my mail, and see an ominous looking envelope from the Federal Investigations Processing Center. My heart drops into my toenails, and I stop breathing. I'm freaking out, staring at my name on the front and trying to imagine what could possibly be inside. I'm thinking GREAT!! On top of everything ELSE that has happened this year, I'm being freaking AUDITED?!?!!? I'm just getting ready to cinch a noose around my neck when I decide to open up the envelope just in case it isn't as dire as it seems. I'm pleasantly relieved to see that it's simply a request for referral from NASA, attempting to get some information for Christina. Basic info: how long have I known her, in what capacity, do I believe she would steal secret government data and sell it to the highest bidder? ( I had to think on that one) My relief is short lived-however-and quickly turns to I CAN'T BELIEVE SHE DIDN'T TELL ME SHE SUBMITTED MY NAME AS A REFERENCE IN A GOVERNMENT JOB!!!

Enough yelling for you? I tried to call her to yell at her, but since she's currently at work and security forbids her to have her cell phone with her, I can't vent at the source. Anyway, it was a fun little anecdote to my day.

Oh, and on yet another sidenote:
HAPPY GREY'S DAY!!

Danny Boy

While I was in Utah, my old quartet buddies got together and we sang some of our favorite songs. The sound quality here isn't great, and we certainly don't sing as well as we used to, but I'm glad to have this video all the same.
video

Tuesday, September 23

Don't Call me a Saint

I have been told countless times in the last six months that I am a saint. That I am a rock, devout, and an incredibly strong and faithful woman. I hate it when people say that to me. It makes me feel like an impostor, like a fake and a coward when I become aware that people have such exaggerated perceptions of my strength. I have also been told countless times "I don't know how you do it. If my husband died, I couldn't get out of bed for a month". To that I respond--yes you would. You'd get out of bed the very next day, get dressed, and brush your teeth. You would continue to make meals for your family and go grocery shopping because THAT IS WHAT YOU DO. You have no choice in the matter. The desire to curl up in bed and simply cease to exist is a luxury only afforded in Hollywood. The reality is much more harsh. The reality that the morning after your world crashes down around you, the sun still comes up. The children still get hungry, and usually--there is a funeral to plan. Once the first hellish week passes, the business of real life gets underway, and it becomes a constant contest of 'getting on with life, moving past it, and getting over you loss'. None of these things are within my control, so I get annoyed when people act as though they are. The worst, though, are the assumptions about my faith. Let me come clean about a few things: I haven't touched my scriptures in months. Once, on the eve of the one month anniversary of his death, I had a spiritual experience while reading my scriptures, but the only reason I had even picked them up was because I had a friend in the house. Always keeping up appearances, I didn't want her to know that I had completely ceased my once nightly scripture study. I rarely say my prayers. For a long time, I forced the kids and house guests to say nearly every prayer at mealtime and at bedtime. Rarely, and only under duress would I utter a prayer myself. Even less frequently would I pray for strength, comfort, understanding, or acceptance. Lately, I have made a more concerted effort to say more sincere and heartfelt prayers. I have also stopped hounding the kids to say the bulk of the prayers, and as a result they hardly say any at all. Still, I hesitate to say personal prayers at bedtime. I do it more frequently than in months past, but I have only knelt at my bedside to say a proper prayer a handful of times since Ammon's death. I have fallen prey to temptation and weakness, the likes of which most of you will never be privy to. I am still fighting to be free of those temptations, and have uttered prayers for assistance in that regard--they were even almost sincere. I am angry at God. I don't harbor much of the boiling, red hot resentment of months and weeks past, but I still don't understand why he would take a good honorable man from his family and still say "I do all these things for your good". It's beyond me, and I struggle greatly to have faith in his plan for me and for our children. I attend church weekly, but am grateful for the chance to be in primary where I am not forced to listen to lessons in Sunday School and Relief Society. Occasionally a particularly good Sacrament Meeting talk will touch my heart, and sometimes the simplicity of the children's lessons will reach me. Most of the time, though, I am going through the motions.

I'm not even sure why I feel compelled to share these things on here. I suppose because I know that there are other Latter Day Saints out there reading, other widows, and also people who have no religious convictions at all. I suppose I hope to dispel the notion that there is a 'right' and a 'wrong' way to grieve when you're a religious person. The thing is, I have no doubt about God or his existence. I haven't questioned for a minute his divinity or that there is an eternity to look forward to. I question the goodness of his plan for me, but I don't question for a second that there is one. Does this make me a good saint? Does this make me a spiritual person, intent on living a life worthy of the highest degree of glory? I don't know. But I do believe that it excludes me from the label of being a 'strong, faithful woman'. I'm simply a woman who is struggling with demons that some of you know nothing about, and grief that is so monumental that I there isn't a single living soul I can share it with. Today Kadon brought home an 'All About Me' worksheet from preschool. It had spots for several fill in the blank questions: My favorite toy is ______. My eyes are ________and my hair is __________. The one that tore my heart out is the one that was left blank: I love to ________ with my Dad. What good could possibly come from this loss? I don't think I'm faithful enough to figure it out.

Saturday, September 20

Grief

Earlier today we were riding around in the car in search of our neighbor's birthday party, and Jeremy started singing in the backseat. The song that he chose closely resembled 'A Boy Like That' from West Side Story, which is a musical that my high school marching band chose music from for my junior year. As anybody who has ever participated in marching band knows, memories that come along with music that you played for a year evoke an intense, visceral set of emotions. One thing led to another, and before I knew it I had purchased the album our music was chosen from, and pulled out the video of our marching show from my senior year. The boys had no interest in sitting through 'Mommy's Band', but I was entranced by the sounds and scenes from a lifetime ago. I was on the cusp of so many wonderful things in my life, and also on the brink of so many terrible and painful things. I was full of opportunity and wide eyed wonder at the world around me, and possessed all the overflowing emotion and feelings of a typical teenager. On the video, I was watching a collage of scenes taken during a warm up, and unexpectedly caught a glimpse of my older brother in the background. My brother Jeremy, 7 years my senior, was heavily involved when I was in marching band. He participated my freshman, junior, and senior years. The only obstacle to his complete involvement in my sophomore year was a temporary move to Phoenix, Arizona, but upon his return he was swiftly back where I was most comfortable with him. Jeremy and I grew close during those years. At first I struggled with having my older brother 'steal my thunder' during my impressionable teen years, but by the time I was a senior my experience in marching band was so tied to having my older brother there that I could not have separated the two. I vividly remember my anxiety before my very first show as a Freshman. As we broke our warm up arc and got ready to head over to the performance field, Jeremy found me and gave me a warm embrace. Anxiety and nerves got the best of me then, and I started to cry. I will never forget his words to me: "You will never experience this again. Remember this feeling." Never again would I be able to repeat my very first performance of what would become dozens over the years. Over the four years that I was lucky enough to be able to participate in such a wonderful organization, Jeremy became a fixture not just to me, but to the many other band kids that he grew to love. All of them shared a close bond with my brother, but I was unfailingly proud that his bond was the strongest with me. Jeremy was also a department manager at our local Wal-Mart, and toward the end of my senior year, he helped secure me a job as a cashier at the same store. We rarely worked the same shift, but once again I basked in the glow of being 'Jeremy's sister'. My senior year of marching, the show that I watched a video of today, was taken from the movie 'The Mask of Zorro'. As always, Jeremy was a fixture on the field both during 4 times weekly practice, but also during every competition and exhibition. He also attended the many football games that we played for during the season. Our marching band went undefeated that year, and always the first thing I would do after we were released from attention during the award ceremony was find Jeremy. He would wrap his arms around me, and we would shed tears of victory and joy together. Our last show of the year was held at our hometown college field, and we once again swept the awards. Because of a series of circumstances, I was unable to embrace my brother immediately after the awards were announced. As per tradition our band marched onto the field after the awards were announced and reassembled in a double arc to perform a 'victory concert'. Once we marched onto the field and were standing at parade rest waiting for the show to start, I spied Jeremy standing on the track around the football field, and it was obvious that he was searching for me among the identically clad band members. I caught his eye, and we both knew intensely that just like my first performance--this would never happen again. I was a senior, and this was our last competition of the year. His place in the band program was uncertain with my departure. Four years of tears, sweat, blood, anguish and victory played out in the air between us that night across the field. Without thinking, I broke rank. I put down my arms, dropped my instrument to my side, and took a step out of formation. Such an act had never been done to my knowledge, but in the same instant, Jeremy saw what I was doing, and took steps toward me. We met in the middle of the arc and shared a hug that will forever live in my memory. At the time, I cared not for procedure, rules, or even propriety. I needed desperately to share this one last, final victory with my idol.

My world was crushed when a mere 8 months later, my brother was stolen from me and the rest of our family. Ammon and I were newly married, and two carloads of people had traveled down to Price, Utah to help situate us in our very first apartment. My father, two brothers, and best friend were in one car. We had all been up late the night before having a farewell/reception for Ammon and I, who had only been married for 3 weeks, and the original plan was for the car carrying my family to spend the night at a local hotel. We finished unloading the moving truck early, and it was Jeremy who convinced my father to make the return trip that same day instead of waiting until morning. It was roughly noon, and we all went to a local restaurant for lunch and then prepared to say our goodbyes. It was an emotional farewell for many reasons. This was the first time I had moved far away from home, and we had no idea when we would next see each other. Jeremy's last words ring in my ears even today--as he gave me one last warm embrace, he said to me "I love you. Say your prayers." This was a particularly poignant piece of advice, because I had happily declared myself atheist at this point in my life. Jeremy's death fostered in Ammon and I a strong desire to be sealed for time and all eternity in the Logan temple, and has spurred on my church attendance ever since. In the talk I gave at Jeremy's funeral, I took a saying we often shared with each other immediately before we entered a field in marching competition--no regrets. We wanted to march in such a way that when we left the field, we had no regrets about our performance. I vowed in that talk that I would live my life with no regrets, so that I could return to the kingdom where I am positive my brother resides.

I grieved Jeremy long and hard. For months after his death, I would wake up nightly in tears following a vivid dream of Jeremy. Often I would return in my dreams to that final competition, where I left the concert arc and hugged him warmly. After a few months, these dreams took on a painful reality--as much as I enjoyed the visits from my brother, I was anguished at having to continually say goodbye to him upon waking. After about six months, these dreams finally stopped. I often wonder if it is the memory of how troubling these dreams were to me that keeps Ammon from visiting me often.

Because of the reality of the car accident, my father's life hung in the balance for the first several days after Jeremy's death. The task of planning the funeral fell to my sister and I, and we spent days commuting between the hospital where my father lay in ICU to our hometown. We spent time picking out the casket, contracting with the funeral home, and purchasing a burial plot for our beloved older brother. I wrote his obituary while sitting in the ICU waiting room, and the program for his funeral sitting in my parents basement. Throughout the ordeal, I leaned heavily on those around, but once we returned home, the bulk of my grief fell to Ammon's hands. During the week between Ammon's death and his funeral, people around me kept giving me helpful tips on what needed to be done, who I needed to contact, and how I should handle expressions of sympathy. Throughout it all I wanted to shout--I'VE DONE THIS BEFORE!! Nobody should ever have to plan two funeral's in their lifetime. I miss Jeremy, I miss Ammon. The two men I have been closest to in my adult life, and they have both been taken away from me for reasons I can't yet see.

Lately I have felt stronger and more capable of living a life without Ammon, but seeing Jeremy in that video tonight brought back a rush of emotions I wasn't prepared to feel. Tonight the grief is stronger than it has been in several days, but this time it is spread out over the two men that are lost. I miss them both, and ache to understand the reasons why two good, spiritual, honest men were taken before their time. The other day I made a startling realization--I am now older than my older brother. He never lived to see 26, and my husband who I always saw as so much younger than Jeremy lived two years longer. Some things just don't make sense.

Swinging

During the power outage, in an effort to get the kids out of the house and occupied, we went to a park near our house. In homage to this post, I took some more pictures of Brooklyn in the swing.

She looks bigger here, right? And here?
Hmm. Not much, I guess. When you compare the two, she's practically the same size she was!! Is she ever going to grow?


Friday, September 19

New Playlist

I've been feeling more upbeat lately, and figured it was time for my playlist to reflect such a change.


Erin, my dear sister, this first song is just for you. Love ya, Sis!

Thursday, September 18

Preschool

Kadon's first day of preschool was technically while I was in Utah, but because I wanted to take him the first time myself, he didn't go until the following week. It's a two day a week program, on Monday and Tuesday mornings. It runs during the same hours as Jeremy's kindergarten, but because of the power outage both school districts were canceled on Monday. By Tuesday the district that houses preschool was back in session, so Kadon finally got to have his official first day. He was wary at first, but I worked on him all morning and by the time we left....well, you can see for yourself how he felt about it. I could barely get him to stand still long enough to take pictures!!

I love the sheer joy on his face. I can't get enough of the innocence of my kids.
Jeremy was actually pretty excited to be there for his brother's first day, and told him stories about what to expect the entire ride.
Kadon in his classroom. I got a few pictures here, but most of them turned out pretty weird because he was so busy darting from station to station.
Each child has a cubby with their name on it, and this is Kadon's. Love the big cheesy smile!!

Utah in Photos

Finally, my much anticipated Utah post! I apologize in advance if I crash any body's Internet with the sheer glut of pictures, but I couldn't help myself. I felt compelled to chronicle every bit of this trip, since I have no idea when I'll be able to go out again. There are still several videos to come too, so I hope your tolerance level is high!!

This is a photo from the night before I left. I flew out of Dayton early in the morning on Thursday, so I made a badly needed appointment to get my haircut the evening before I flew out, and spent the night at Angela's house. Right after I arrived, we put Brooklyn on the counter with Angela's small boom box, and she had a fabulous time dancing to the music.

It also happened to be a pretty good ratio for how small she is. I'm sure you can imagine how big the boombox is, and it's almost the size of her!!
This picture is during our first layover in Minneapolis. We arrived during the Republican National Convention, a fact that escaped my notice until the pilot welcomed us to the convention as we taxied to the gate. The airport was a mob scene, and it took me over 30 minutes just to purchase a bagel sandwich for myself and Brooklyn for breakfast.
I wanted to get a picture of us, and think this one actually turned out pretty cute. Not bad for traveling, huh?
On our second flight, we were lucky enough to be sitting next to probably the only empty seat on the flight. I wonder if they seat lap babies like that on purpose? Anyway, the woman on the other side was from Indianapolis, and was flying to visit some old missionary friends of hers in Utah. She was lovely and kind, and even helped me get my carry on luggage from the airplane to the baggage claim where my parents where waiting. I can't remember her name, but I wish I did. It was wonderful to sit and chat with her, and once she learned about my recent loss, she shared some very meaningful insights. Both of us spent at least part of the flight in tears, and in Salt Lake she greeted my parents and gave me a warm hug before departing.
Brooklyn spent most of the flight doing the importing things. Drinking....
...and eating, of course. These are freeze-dried yogurt drops, and she went through nearly an entire bag on the trip to Utah. I had to buy a second bag for our trip home!
Once we arrived at my parents house, Brooklyn had a wonderful time riding around on my mother's walker.
And pulling the magazines out from underneath my Dad's side table. My parents were less than thrilled with the mess she continually created with them, but I'm pretty sure they were willing to put up with the sacrifice from such a cute baby.
On Saturday morning my friend's Alisha and Emily came over to share breakfast. We made an old favorite--crepes with fruit--and had a wonderful time catching up. It was the only time I was able to see Alisha while I was there, and I'm grateful that she drove all the way up from Salt Lake to accommodate my schedule. Love you, Alisha!!
This is the view I have sorely missed since leaving Utah. This picture was taken standing on my parents back steps. These mountains greeted me every morning of my growing up years, and they will always be a part of me. As we descended into the Salt Lake Valley on Thursday I noticed two things--how BROWN it is in Utah, and how HUGE the mountains are. In the 14 months I've been gone, I had forgotten how monstrous they are!

My parents have recently remodeled their kitchen (well, recently for me. I only saw it once before we moved to Ohio) and I decided that it desperately needed some greenery above the cabinets. The day after I arrived my Mom and I went to Wal-Mart and I picked out some vines and some red sprigs for color.
My Mom was pretty pleased with the results, actually, and I'm impressed that I managed to get it done without falling off that silly ladder.
On Saturday there was a get together for the Preece family. My Grandmother was recently checked into an assisted living center, so the gathering was hosted there for convenience. My Grandparents hadn't had the chance to meet Brooklyn yet, so I was glad for the time to spend with them and introduce them to their newest great granddaughter. As usual, she loved my Grandpa Preece. He has a way with the kids.
I love this picture. I snapped several of these two in quick succession, hoping for results like this. My Granpda Preece has Alzheimer's, and though I haven't noticed a great deal of difference in his mindset, I know that he won't always be the Granpda I remember. In this picture he looks like the same gruff but lovable man I grew up loving. I plan to frame it very soon.
Seriously, how could you not love this face? I just had to post this one, because she's so darn cute. She loved being doted on by everybody there.
On Saturday night, after a quick visit with my Grandma Gregory in Ogden, I met my friend Emily and drove the rest of the way down to Layton for dinner with some other friends. I met them through an LDS Message Board on iVillage, and they have become some of my dearest friends. We spent hours sitting around at the restaurant talking, laughing, and telling stories. Once again, friends of mine were willing to go out of their way to accommodate my schedule, and I'm grateful. It was a night to remember.
On Sunday morning, I packed up at my parent's house and drove south to Hyrum to attend church in my old ward and spend the remainder of my trip with Laura. On my way out to Hyrum Sunday morning, main street in Smithfield was completely shut down because they were moving a house down the street. Seriously, a house?!?! Only in Utah folks, only in Utah.
Sunday evening found us setting up an elaborate K'Nex roller coaster set in Laura's living room. It took us about an hour with help from the kids and Mike (and we still didn't use all the pieces!) but it was a lot of fun to play with. I wish I'd gotten a picture of the completed project.
See, I told you Brooklyn helped!!
Monday afternoon was the time we set aside to sing with the members of our quartet. We were quite the group when I lived there, but through various circumstances once I left, they stopped getting together. It was wonderful to exercise my vocal chords again, something I have missed terribly in Ohio.
Brooklyn. Always finding a dog dish to stick her head in. At our house she can't get enough of the water bowl.
Last time we got together to sing, we all had older kids and most of us were pregnant. This time, the older kids were in school, and we all have babies. I managed to get three of the four in this picture. They were all born within 2 months of each other.
Jan, our piano player; Cindy, our first soprano; and Emily 2nd soprano and alto.
The scene outside Laura's front door. The mountains are slightly different in Hyrum than in Richmond where my parents live, but I love them still. They're so majestic and commanding.
On Tuesday, my last day in Utah, I was finally able to get together with my younger brother Brian. He was in Ohio at the end of July for a week long visit, so Brooklyn remembered him and had a wonderful time showing him her brand of affection.
Aren't they cute?
Another quintessential Utah picture. There are so many scenes, so many facts that I took for granted the years that I lived there. I tried to capture some of these things while I was visiting, so that someday I can show my kids what my hometown was like.
The flight from Salt Lake City to Detroit was uneventful, but I sat next to a charming man from Portland Maine. He had been in Salt Lake for a very short business trip, and was a great help to me on the 3 hour flight. He assisted me with my bags getting onto the flight, and kept both Brooklyn and I entertained with small talk during the flight. When we left the plane, he carried all my luggage off and then gave me a warm hug goodbye. Every time I have flown, I have been incredibly blessed to sit next to kind people, most of whom end up being a great help to me.
Our flight from Detroit to Dayton was short, only about 40 minutes, and the plane was tiny! It seated about 25 people, and when we landed in Dayton it didn't even taxi to a gate. It simply pulled up outside the airport and lowered stairs. We walked off the plane, onto the tarmac, and into the airport. A new experience for me, for sure. In this photo I am sitting in the very back row of the plane, and you can see how close the front of the plane is. There were even propellers on the wings!!
Finally, on our way home. The last flight we were on was only about half full, so there was a lot of room for Brooklyn and I to spread out. At this point we were both getting tired and a little bit cranky, and I still had a 90 minute drive to reach Cincinnati and my home. I nearly bowled over the poor kids when I finally got there, I was so anxious for a hug!
All in all, it was a good trip. Emotional, with highs and lows both expected and surprising. I'm glad that we went, but I'm also glad it's behind me. I hope you enjoyed my essay in photos!

First Steps

Brooklyn took her first wobbly, tentative steps this afternoon. While Jeremy was in school, I had Brooklyn and Kadon upstairs with me and was attempting to put the boy's bedroom in order. I set Brooklyn down in front of me as I have often done lately--standing up, with nothing to hold onto. She has made great strides in her balance, and I knew it wouldn't be long before the feet started to move. This afternoon, before I could get up and get to work, she took two steps toward me and fell into my arms. My first reaction was elation--it really was. I held her close and shouted about her accomplishment. I told Kadon that his baby sister took two steps, and stood her up in front of me again to try a second time. This time she only took one step, but it's obvious that her crawling days are numbered. I made exactly two phone calls--one to my mother, and one to his mother. I know that I should be spreading the word wide, but grief once again casts a shadow over everything I do. The one person I wanted to tell is completely unreachable by phone.

I know I should be reveling in Brooklyn's achievements, and I do. I take pleasure in her sweet spirit, in her gentle laugh, and in her emerging sense of humor. These last five months we have clung to each other, her and I, and I have taken great strength from my petite angel. If not for my Brooklyn, I could never have survived the sheer weight of pain the last few months. I do celebrate her steps today, and look forward to all that is coming. I can't help but feel sadness over yet another milestone that he is missing. It hurts almost more than I can bear.

Wednesday, September 17

Freezing

Our power was restored at about 8pm last night, just as I had lit the propane lantern and gotten the kids into the bathtub. I was in my bedroom looking for something with the flashlight when the power surged back on with a loud 'pop'. Several minutes later, two fire engines and the SUV belonging to the fire chief raced to where the Duke Energy trucks were on our street, but after several tense minutes the fire trucks entered our apartment complex, did a circuit past all the buildings, and left. There was never an ambulance, and no more sirens, so we're assuming it was all precaution and nobody was actually hurt when our power was restored.

Those of you who asked about the food in my freezer--thankfully my next door neighbor had borrowed a generator from his father, and when I mentioned to him that I was worried about my food storage, he offered to let me plug in my freezer for several hours to 're-freeze' everything. My efforts to seal the freezer when the power first flicked off on Sunday were not in vain, because when I finally ventured into the freezer to check the contents right around the time my neighbor lent me his power, everything was still pretty frozen. My food would definitely not have lasted until morning, but with the help of my neighbor it is all fine. He was just getting ready to remove the extension cord from my kitchen when the power came back on, so it was provident timing yet again. How blessed we have been during this power outage. All in all, I'm probably only out about $100-$200. Considering the several million dollars worth of damage and food waste that has occurred in my area in the last three days, I count myself extremely lucky.

Tuesday, September 16

Restored

And God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.

And God saw that the light was good. (Gen 1:3)

And the people piped with pipes, and rejoiced with great joy so that the earth was rent with the sound of them. (1 Kings 1:40)

Ike

Hurricane Ike struck the tristate area on Sunday afternoon. When I drove to church, I noticed the higher than normal wind, and thought "This must be the remnant of Ike. How fun!" During church the doors in the foyer blew open several times, but still we all thought "How funny we're having such high winds!" It stopped being fun during Sunday school when the power flicked once. Warily, we all trained our eyes on the ceiling lights and held our collective breaths. The building heaved a huge sigh of relief when the power flickered a second time, then surged to life again. All things being equal, the third time was once again the charm. The third time that the power flickered off on Sunday afternoon, it went off to stay. I was standing in the hallway at church, and immediately threw open the doors to the nursery for the small children. Most of the members of our ward were safely ensconced in rooms on the perimeter of the building, and as such had ample lighting even without electricity. The smallest and most fearful in our ward, though, were trapped in a large room at the center of the church without light or window to chase away the dark. While I threw open the door on my side of the room, one of the other leaders threw open the door on the other side, and between the two there was provided enough weak light to shepherd the terrified children safely into a smaller, but windowed, room. Everyone chose to stay at church for the duration of our meetings, and there was much speculation as to the severity of the storm, and the vastness of the power outage. One member had a Blackberry with him, and word quickly circulated that he was able to locate a high wind advisory in our area until 6pm Sunday evening.

When the meeting ended at 4, I drove slowly home. I chose to drive home on more busy, populated streets, not wanting to chance a limb from the more residential roads I normally drive obstructing my route. Every traffic light, every store, every restaurant was eerily dark. The streets were teeming with carloads of people--searching for food, for gas, for ice. By the time I reached my home, it was clear that this was not a normal power outage. The amount of limbs and branches I saw laying on power lines made my hope for a quick restoration of electricity dim. By the time I braved the streets again early Monday morning, school had been canceled until further notice, and commodities such as gasoline, batteries, and frozen food had become scarce. I managed to locate a gas station that was open and had not yet run out of fuel, and after waiting in a long line I was able to refill my minivan. While inside the gas station, I also found a car charger for my cell phone, which had completely died the night before. I also found a grocery store that was open, but my search for more batteries, flashlights, and candles was in vain. There was not a D cell battery, a flashlight, or a single unscented candle to be found. I settled for a package of AA batteries and a quartet of vanilla scented votives. Later in the day I ventured out yet again, and was blessed enough to snag the only remaining propane lantern in the whole of the monstrous grocery store. I also purchased the very last four propane canisters to run the lantern. A journey to another store found a quickly dwindling supply of ice, and the last cooler on the shelf. Still not a single D cell to be found. I purchased both ice and coolers, along with a few grocery staples, and went back home to transfer the contents of my refrigerator to the two large coolers.

Here I sit, a full 48 hours after the power first flickered out, accessing the Internet at the local McDonald's. All in all, this has been an adventure. The children in my neighborhood are all home, and my children have had a wonderful time playing with friends. There has been a large community of people gathered on the front lawns at all times, and the friendship with neighbors has been strengthened. The temperatures have hovered around 70 degrees with a reasonable amount of humidity, so even without air conditioning we are all still comfortable The rumor is that the power won't be restored in my neighborhood until Saturday. I hesitate still to open my freezer, fearful for what I might find. I am hopeful that if the power is restored sometime today or tomorrow, then my meats might survive the outage. If rumor holds true, however, I'm sure that all will be lost. Even still, I count myself lucky that I am not a restaurant owner, a store owner, or a school employee. The amount of food I will surely throw out pales in comparison to what those people will lose. Life without electricity is inconvenient, but an adventure all the same.

Saturday, September 13

Funny

I'm posting this link simply because it made me laugh out loud. It's a blog I frequent, and can be found in my sidebar. The humor is admittedly low brow and a bit crude, but the writer cracks me up on a regular basis. These days, I truly appreciate anything that can make me laugh out loud. This is one of his better posts.

The Final Frontier

Fellows Look-alike Meter

MyHeritage: Family trees - Genealogy - Celebrities - Collage - Morph

Thursday, September 11

The 11th Day

Five months today. I miss him more than ever. Has it really been that long, or has it been forever? Most of the time it seems like a lifetime since he last held me in his arms.

Friday, September 5

You Can Never Go Home

I have discovered that abundant truth in the past, and it continues to hold true this week. As my plane descended into the Salt Lake Valley yesterday, I took in the landscape around me and felt the pangs in my heart. When the plane taxied to the gate, the pangs intensified, and they struck again when I saw my parents waiting for me at the end of the terminal. The pangs didn't overflow, however, until we pulled into Cache Valley. We couldn't drive past a single landmark, a single sign, without conjuring up some memory. I could see, feel, taste Ammon everywhere around me. I knew it would be difficult coming back here, and have been approaching this trip with a mixture of apprehension, dread, and joy. Yesterday all those fears were realized and when we pulled into the valley and drove past the sights most familiar to me, I cried silent tears in the backseat. After having lunch at one of my favorite local eateries and a quick visit to my grandmother, we finally made it back to my parents house. There, the sadness and grief overwhelmed me again, and I was forced to find a quiet spot to mourn. I miss Ammon. I always miss Ammon, but it is here, in the place and in the town that we once called home, that I miss him most acutely right now. I have grown used to missing him at home. I have grown used to sleeping in our bed by myself, to missing his comforting presence at the dinner table or next to me in the vehicle. I wasn't prepared to miss him so much here. I look forward to the completion of my trip, and my return home to the comfort of the familiar. I know this trip is a necessary evil, but it's a painful one nonetheless.

Tuesday, September 2

Westward

I leave our humble home to begin my journey to Utah tomorrow. Mary will arrive here sometime tomorrow morning, and sometime after lunch I will pack my luggage and my daughter into our minivan and head toward Dayton. I have an appointment for a much needed haircut (one that was delayed when lice was discovered two weeks ago) at 5:30 in the evening, then Brooklyn and I will spend the night at my sister in law's house before flying out early on Thursday morning. I don't know if I will get a chance to blog while I'm in Utah, but in case I don't I hope everybody has a splendid week. I will return on Wednesday that 10th, and will post a full report then if not before. TTFN!

While I'm on hiatus, I offer this video courtesy of Jeremy. As many of you know, he adores Lego's. He's also recently acquired an obsession with Star Wars, which I find odd because he has never been allowed to see the Star War's movies. Regardless, a few weeks ago he decided to combine his two favorite activities, and somehow convinced me to capture it on video for him. Enjoy!
video