On Al’s last day in town we decided to head up to Woodland Park to go shooting. We actually got Madeline to shoot Candace’s rifle with Mike. She actually liked shooting with Mike, and it gave us an opportunity to teach her a few simple things about gun safety. She was so good about keeping her ear protection on the entire time everyone was shooting. Our kids love shooting so much that there was never a dull moment when no one was shooting either the rifles, handguns, or shot guns. The girls loved my new rifle and spent a great deal of their time shooting with that beautiful gun. We introduced Emma to my new handgun and although she was a little nervous at first, she ended up liking it. Al even gave the kids some advice about shooting as he was still a pretty good shot. He was wearing his class of ‘62 West Point hat. When he took the handgun, he hit multiple bullseyes. After all these years, he’s still got it. Can do ’62! I did not grow up around guns so getting into shooting has taken me some time. We don’t want our kids to be afraid of guns in their youth. We want them to know how to handle a gun so that they will respect it, be safe with it, and know how to use it in an emergency. As they say, a family that shoots together stays together.
Since all the celebrations at school had been cancelled due to the COVID crisis, we decided to do a little 8th grade graduation celebration for Emma while grandpa Al was visiting. I ordered a fun yard sign and some yummy customized sugar cookies and cake pops. This lady who makes these delicious treats is such a treasure. She made the most amazing cookies for Emma. The 2020 cookie even had a face mask and a roll of toilet paper on it to commemorate the COVID-19 crazy. One of my favorite cookies was the blonde girl with the cap and gown. She really went above and beyond to make it special for Emma. Emma was an excellent student at Challenger Middle School. She got mostly A's and a few B's throughout the three years she was there. She was able to get straight A's her entire 8th grade year. We couldn't have been prouder of the amazing things she accomplished!
We always love any excuse to go and walk around Garden of the Gods together. It had been a few years since Al had been there, so we rounded up all the kids and headed on over before the afternoon thunderstorm arrived. We got there at the perfect time. The weather was cooler, and it only sprinkled a tiny bit while we were on our walk. Madeline had fun running up and down the paved walkway, collecting a variety of rocks along the way. We made it pretty much all the way around the path before it started raining. By the time we got back in the car it started to pour. What luck that was. I was happy that I managed to get all five kids to come on our little adventure. The beauty of this place never ceases to amaze me.
While Grandpa Al was still in town, we decided to do Andrew’s Priesthood Ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood in preparation for his mission to Frankfurt, Germany. We were fortunate enough to have Joe Hale come over as a member of our Stake High Council. Mike gave a spectacular blessing to Andrew. We are so excited for Andrew’s future and the amazing things he will be able to do now that he holds the higher priesthood.
With our XTERRA Beaver Creek triathlon only two months away and still scheduled to happen both Mike and I spent a great deal of time this month getting in our biking, swimming, and running. Luckily Flying Horse opened up their swim lanes by reservation only on May 11th. We swam three days, biked twice and ran 3-4 times every week. We had fun swimming together and biking at Red Rocks, Stratton Open Space, Black Forest Section 16 and the occasional road bike on the Cottonwood Creek Trail. It has been nice to have a race to work towards, even though in the back of our minds we know at any time it could be cancelled. What’s even better is that we have been able to train together. I’m so glad Mike and I like doing the same things!
We have loved having our little makeshift paver fire-pit in our backyard, but the area always lacked comfort and style and we really didn’t use that area as much as we wanted. We decided to hire a company to redo that area. We had them remove all of the lavender bushes near the raised area and across the yard and put all the smaller rocks originally in the fire-pit area in those places. Then they prepped the area to put pavers down. Since we had ordered a propane fire pit, they created a hole in the middle and ran a pipe all the way underneath the pavers and out the side of the raised area underneath the deck so we could store the propane tank out of site. Our goal with the new area was to make it a little haven where we could spend time as a family. We ordered new outdoor furniture and a gazebo. While the pavers were being put in Mike and the boys started to put together the gazebo. The boys spent the next several days putting up different parts of the gazebo. Once it was finally put together and the furniture arrived, we centered it where we wanted it and drilled the gazebo into the pavers, with a little cement filler for extra measure. At first, we only did one post until we were hit with a random windstorm and it took all of us holding the posts so we could finish the rest of the drilling. That was an exciting experience. We can’t believe that it took us so long to make this area of our yard a beautiful little vacation spot right in our own backyard.
One of the things we have wanted to do since we moved into our house was update the laundry room. It has always been an eye-sore and not very functional as the wire shelf was much too high for me to reach and the industrial sink was full of dried paint. It made me cringe every time I had to use it. With some good planning on Mike’s part, he figured out how we could update it to look nice with some simple upgrades. We spent three days straight working on the laundry room. First, we hung up new white cabinets that we ordered from Lowe’s. That was a relatively easy task compared to everything else we did but it still took us most of the morning. Next, we installed new flooring. We went with a luxury vinyl that was made to look like wood. The floating planks were really easy to install right over the original linoleum. We were lucky that we didn’t have to take off the linoleum to put in the new flooring as the new flooring was exactly flush with the connector between the two rooms. Since each plank was not exactly the same I spent most of the time figuring out which planks would look good next to each other. We ended up having to go and buy one more box since we were left with pieces that were either too light or too dark. The flooring took us most of the first day. The second day was spent cutting and installing all of the white boarding, framing, and molding. We decided to copy Madeline’s walls to give it a fresh modern look. Since Mike had done this before he just copied the process he used before. After some mathematical calculations to make the different sections even, we went to work putting all the boarding up. Mike makes everything look easy but the reality is this stuff is not that easy to do. Just to be funny, Mike wrote some fun things on the walls and floors that we covered up. You know...to leave our mark on the house! Later that night we started to fill in the holes with putty but eventually gave up and went to bed. On the third day we filled in the holes, sanded everything and taped in preparation to paint. All of the prep work and the painting took us all day long. We realized that if we ever did another project like this again, we would do the woodwork but hire someone else to do the painting. Painting the boarding was so tedious and annoying. It was a good thing we were working together to get it done. After all the painting was finally finished, we installed the new sink and the drying rack. After 3 very long and tiring days, we finally finished the laundry room and it sure turned out amazing. We took our very blah laundry room to a whole new level. With more storage space in the cabinets, I was able to finally store a bunch of stuff I had been storing in the cleaning closet. It really helped me to declutter other areas of my home. It is like a whole new world when I step into my new laundry room and it makes me so incredibly happy!
With the amazing weather we had during the month of May we tried to get Madeline outside as much as possible. She absolutely loved riding her bike more than anything else. She became quite good at balancing on her little push bike and by the end of the month she was so fast that we really had to either run or ride the scooter just to keep up with her.
One of Madeline’s favorite indoor activities this month was playing with all of the stuffed animals from the girl’s closet. Although she has her own basket of stuffed animals in her room, there were just so many that we had to store the rest in the Abby and Emma’s room. Madeline loved to dump them out and sit in the big pile of animals. She would usually find her favorites right away. It was not uncommon for us to find Madeline just in her underwear playing with all of her toys. When we asked her why she was naked she would tell us, “I was just hot, so I took my clothes off.”
On one particularly warm day we headed over to the drive through at Baskin Robbins and all got ice-cream cones. We headed over to a park nearby and walked around. Madeline was really excited to try the pink bubble gum ice-cream. She was really happy with her choice. Every few minutes we would have to lick her ice-cream, so it didn’t melt on her. She is not the fastest ice-cream eater. While at the park we found some dandelions and Madeline was all about blowing as many out as she could. Then she proceeded to find some nearby sticks and just play pretend. We love watching her and her imagination run wild. We will often hear her make up stories about the things she did. It’s cute to see who she incorporates in each story. More often than not her stories usually involve the older kid’s friends. She always calls them her friends too.
Almost every day in May Madeline would ask us a few questions. She would either say, “Is the zoo open yet?” or “Are the parks open yet?” or “Can I do some errands with you?” It became apparent that Madeline just needed to get out of the house, so I quickly whipped up a small mask for her and let her come to Lowe’s with us to get supplies for one of our home projects. She was really good about keeping her mask on at Lowe’s, so I let her come with me to the grocery store. She had the best time doing errands again with me. It was fun to see her excitement about going to the store. After we got home from errands we celebrated with popsicles in the backyard while Mike and the boys started to put together the gazebo.
We headed to Fox Run Park this afternoon for some good old-fashioned family fun. We brought the hammock, frisbees, balls and some snacks and enjoyed spending time together in our small little section of the park. The kids took turns swinging in the hammock while the rest of us played frisbee. Madeline was our runner who just ran where the frisbee was being thrown. We made sure to throw her the frisbee often so would feel included. She loved playing with us. After quite some time playing frisbee we got out the small plastic bat and enjoyed watching Madeline hit ball after ball. She really was quite good at hitting the ball. Every time she would get ready, she would ask, “I am standing the right way?” We would position her with one foot in front of the other and fix her hand positions. We thought it was so cute how she wanted to be in the right position to hit the ball. This afternoon’s adventure taught us that we can still get out and have fun together outdoors without worrying about getting COVID19. We are so blessed to have each other to hang out with during this time of social distancing.
"A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take." -Cardinal Mermillod
Words cannot even describe how grateful I am for my own mother and the amazing influence she has on my life. She was my first friend, is my best friend, and will be my forever friend.
"There's no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one." - Jill Churchill
I love this quote about motherhood. It's not about being perfect but being present and loving in the lives of our children. I love my kids and I would do anything for them. I'm grateful for this day to celebrate how wonderful motherhood really is and the blessing of being able to teach my children how to find peace and joy in times of uncertainty. It truly has been a time of uncertainty in our lives with all that has happened with the COVID crisis, but I have found joy in being able to spend more time with my kids. Being able to step away from all the noise of the world has allowed me to be a better mother and to recognize the areas that I need to work on. I couldn’t have asked for a better Mother’s Day.
Oh, the weather has been so good to us lately and we are super grateful. After doing home church we packed lunch, snacks, and water and headed on a new hike with the kids. We drove the swag wagon up Mt. Herman road and parked at the trailhead to hike to the top of Mt. Herman. We were lucky to grab a parking spot just as someone was leaving. The road was already lined with cars. It was around 1:30pm so we weren't all that surprised that it was crowded. We passed a few families on the trail, but it really wasn't as crowded as we thought it would be. Madeline was such a trooper and hiked the ENTIRE way up the trail. She had help with a few spots where it was slippery, or the rock steps were too big for her to step up on her own. Each one of us took turns holding her hand and helping her along. It really was quite impressive that as a 3-year-old she could handle such an incline. Mike carried the kid backpack just in case, but she didn't even ask to sit in it at all. The hike was really fun as we headed through some great tree sections and some fun rocky sections. Eventually we popped out on top and the views were pretty spectacular. We found a nice spot below the ridge line to each our lunch and enjoy the view. Madeline was all about the chips and grapes. Everyone else enjoyed the other fun snacks that Mike packed. Grapes, brie, crackers, chips, and hummus pleased everyone. After some laughs and silliness at the top we decided to put Madeline in the backpack for the descent. We hiked down so fast it was hard to believe it was that short of a hike. The entire hike was only around 2.5 miles round trip. The funniest thing Madeline said on the way down was, "I can't wait to get back to the car so I can hold my blanket and suck my thumb." Oh, she just makes us smile. It's good to be outside with all of the kids hiking in the great outdoors.
This was a great month for biking and running. The weather was warm pretty much most of the month with several days of wearing shorts and short sleeved shirts. I mostly ran with Dionne this month at Black Forest Section 16, Manitou Springs, and along the Santa Fe trail. Peter and Emma continued to run together, mostly at Fox Run Park. There was lots of biking by everyone. Abby and Emma both went out to Wolf Lake with Mike, Peter and Andrew explored mountain biking at Fox Run Park, Mike and I rode Red Rocks, Mike, Peter, Emma and I all rode at Fox Run Park, and Emma did 7.75 miles with me around Black Forest Section 16 where she had her first crash. Luckily it was just scrapes from road rash. She went down one of the hills too fast and hit some gravel and slid out. I told her that I fell many times my first year of riding. I was always sporting cuts and bruises. I was so proud of her for getting the courage to get back on her bike and finish the loop. Being able to be outside exercising has made a world of different in how we have felt about ourselves this month of quarantine. We continue to pray for good weather so we can keep up the exercise!
Oh, how time is flying too fast with Madeline. She is already 3 ½ years old, weighs 28.7 lbs., and is 39 ¼ inches tall (@3ft 3 inch). Madeline’s personality is coming out more and more these days. She definitely lets us know what she wants and when she doesn’t get something, she lets us know about that too. Still, she is really sweet. She responds well to calm explanations and will usually be pretty agreeable if she understands. Most mornings when I am getting ready for the day, she asks to have either a ring, bracelet or necklace. She loves to wear my jewelry and so I have a few things that I will let her wear just for fun. Madeline has become quite the storyteller. Whenever someone is recounting something that happened earlier in the day, Madeline pipes up with a story that is pretty similar to what was just said. She is becoming quite the conversationalist. She loves to be part of the conversation and so she makes up her own version of things to feel like she fits in. We just all nod and smile and at her because it's so cute that she wants to be part of the conversation.
Ever since the quarantine she often asks us if we can either go to the park or go to the zoo. It is so hard to explain to her what is happening so we usually just tell her that many people are sick so we can’t do those things yet. However, we have still found ways to get out and have fun. There are a few new things Madeline has done this month. When we read books before naptime or bedtime, Madeline usually likes to read back to me the story I just read her. Sometimes she is really good at remembering and sometimes she needs a little help. I think it is cute that she does that. After I sing her songs and rub her back before bed, she now asks me to go and get someone else because she “still needs someone.” It is her way of procrastinating being alone in her room. Usually Emma or Abby will go in and talk with her and rub her back for a few more minutes. Anytime Madeline is hungry she either asks for a popsicle or some gum. I would say she has developed a little sweet tooth but neither one of those in our house has sugar in it. Go figure. Madeline has finally learned how to ride her pushbike. She has really developed some great balance throughout this month. She is pretty fast on that little bike of hers. Here are some of Madeline’s favorite things:
Favorite color – Pink
Favorite books – Little Quack, Little Blue Truck Books
Favorite movies – Toy Story 4 and Frozen 2
Favorite songs - I am a Child of God and The Primary Colors
Favorite musical artists - Queen and Billy Joel (asks Alexa to play Queen every morning)
Favorite food – Popsicles and Gum
Favorite animal – Cat
Favorite inside toy – Stuffed Animals
Favorite outside toy – Pink pushbike
Favorite thing to do outside – Go on walks around the neighborhood or jump on the trampoline
Favorite cereal – Rice Krispies (but she calls them Krisp Ricepies)
Favorite person – Mom
Favorite princess – Rapunzel
Favorite game – Hullabaloo
Favorite hairstyle – Curly and Wild
After the spring sports season was pretty much shut down, Emma was in a funk about what to do about her running. She had been gearing up with the Kokopelli run club and was going on her way to running a fast track season. It didn’t take too long to come up with a new plan for her to run with her brother and keep up the hard work. Then coach Lisa came out with a plan for all the kids to run two 1K time trials three weeks apart. This would give them the motivation they needed to keep working hard. Emma kept telling me that she didn’t feel very fast but when she knocked out a 3:31 on her first 1K at the CC track I had to disagree with her. One thing is for sure, Emma is hella fast. She was running at a 5:39 pace and that was without her spikes on. Her second 1K was at the Manitou Springs track. This track was 1000ft higher in elevation and there was quite a wind so getting a better time would be tough. Her stomach hurt that morning, but I warmed up with her and tried to give her positive encouragement. This time she kept her long sleeve on since her arms tightened up from the cold during the last time trial. As she ran, she looked strong. She finished in 3:32, only one second off from her last time trial. For the crazy weather conditions, she did remarkably well, pulling in a 5:41 average pace. I just couldn’t be prouder of her for working so hard during such an uncertain time. With a months’ worth of training under her belt running only with Peter, she was excited to finally be able to start running with some other Kokopelli runners. As part of the quarantine was lifted, she would be placed in a smaller group of 7-8 runners and one coach so that she could continue to train with other people all while still following the social distancing guidelines.
I have to admit that we kind of blew it last year for Peter’s 16th birthday. He was in the middle of his swim season and didn’t want a party with treats since he was trying to eat healthy. We said we would do something great in the summer, but we never did. So, his 17th birthday needed to be EPIC. I had initially planned on doing a surprise party for him but with all the changes with social distancing and the quarantine, I knew that idea was out. Instead I decided to reach out to all of his closest friends and to our family members to have them write a birthday message for Peter and send it to me. I initially thought of putting together a slideshow but then thought it would be even cooler to have it all put into a book. The week before his birthday I collected all the birthday messages and photos so that I could put everything together. Being in the hospital all day on Friday really put a kink in my plans but Saturday morning I woke up feeling decent, so I hopped on my computer and put together the entire book. I don’t know how I did it so quickly. It was a real birthday miracle. I put everything in preview mode on my computer and when I showed him the book, he was all smiles. I think there is something so great about being able to see how much people care about you. The other half of his present was getting him an Oculus VR Headset. He had raved about his uncle’s VR system that he played in the summertime. I spent a lot of time trying to find the Oculus Quest. It was OUT literally everywhere I looked. Due to the high demand over the holidays, the delay in production, and COVID19 it was not looking promising. I felt so desperate that I actually bid on a headset on eBay and thankfully lost by $5. I was super grateful that I didn't pay over the original price for the headset because it was in that moment that I went back to all of the websites that sold the Oculus and by sheer dumb luck I saw that there were 5 in stock at my Walmart at the original price. I couldn’t believe it. I ordered it right away and went the next day to pick it up. What awesome luck that was. Peter knew that the Oculus was out everywhere, so he had no idea that I had struck gold for his big present. Mike and Andrew purposely leaked some info that had him thinking he was getting a giant Lego set. When he opened up his gift, he was so surprised and so incredibly happy. It was such a great moment to witness. We catered to Peter’s weird McDonalds craving and had a McDonalds lunch and Reese’s ice-cream cake. No one else likes McDonalds but every time we travel somewhere new, Peter is all about getting McDonalds. So, our inside joke with Peter became the inspiration for his birthday meal. His day truly couldn’t have been any better.
The day before Peter’s birthday is not a day I will forget this year. I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and the next thing I knew I was on the floor of the bathroom. I think I must have started to feel some sharp pain, but I really can’t remember. I passed out, fell off the toilet, hit my head against the frame of the door, and fractured my nose and bruised my forehead pretty bad. Mike was in bed but heard the banging from my fall and quickly got up to inspect what happened. While I was out, he examined my face and when I came to, I had no idea what had happened. I was completely disoriented, and I felt super sick to my stomach. I sat up enough to try and throw up in the toilet, but nothing came out except for some blood from my mouth. When I tried to sit up, I got sick again and then dizzy. It took a few minutes before I attempted to get up. By that point Mike had already showered really quick and had his scrubs on. I tried walking with his help, but I kept getting dizzy, so he had to carry me to the car. On the way to the ER the pain in my lower back kept getting progressively worse. Once in triage in the ER, they immediately hooked me up to the EKG machine. Mike could tell that something was not right and within in a matter of minutes I was wheeled back to a room. More leads were attached to my body and an IV was started. My heart rate was also super low which is unusual for someone in a lot of pain. Since my normal resting heart rate is somewhere between 42-47, they kept me in my room instead of taking me to the Trauma bay. There was apparently a lot of talk about doing that. They asked me if I knew what month it was. I couldn’t remember at first and it took me almost 30 seconds to feel like I could think. They decided to do a CT Scan of my head and my abdomen. The scan revealed a kidney stone on my left side that was between 4-5mm in size. It also showed that I had a nasal fracture. Luckily there was no brain bleed. My heart rate kept dipping into the 30s and it wasn’t stabilizing. I just felt out of it, but I was never unconscious. It was because of all of this that they ended up admitting me. The pain in my lower back from the kidney stone was so bad they had to give me Norco twice. They ended up doing another EKG in the ER and the results were not that much better than the first one. I had a consult from the Cardiologist who got to the ER surprisingly fast. They ended up admitting me to the hospital to monitor my heart rate, do an echo of my heart, and monitor my pain. While I was in my room, the pain seemed to be in control. John Mancini showed up mid-morning to talk about options with the kidney stone. Mike had called him since he is our friend and a urologist. We decided on a wait and see if I pass it approach with the option for surgery later if I didn’t pass the stone. The echocardiogram was normal which was great. I ended up eating lunch at the hospital and was discharged around dinner time. Mike had been in contact with a select few friends and family throughout the day so they would know what was happening. My sweet friend, Dionne, had already offered to bring us dinner for the next two days. By the time we got home, dinner was already there. My friend Myisha even offered to fly out to help. My parents were beyond worried, but their fears were consoled throughout the day as good news of my heart and discharge were relayed to them. The kids had been so worried throughout the day and when I got home, they said I looked super sick. It’s true, I still looked pale and weak, but I was just happy to be home.
Over the course of the next week, some good friends and family sent me messages and cards of love. Several of them texted me every day. Flowers and other fun treats were sent my way. I felt loved and cared for. Those were some dark days as I had zero energy to do much of anything. I spent most of the time either on the couch, in my office chair, or in bed. After a week of feeling pretty crappy I started to get a little more energy. I attempted to go for a short run one day and a bike ride with the kids on another day. It didn’t matter what I did because the stone just seemed content on staying where it was. I finally set a surgery day and will continue to do what I can to get this stone out of me. So far I have jumped on the trampoline, rode the mini moped with Madeline, ran, biked, and did core exercises and all of that ONLY when I have had enough energy to get myself up. Nothing seems to make a difference but I will keep trying and praying that things will work out ok.