Sunday, November 29, 2015

Many reasons to give thanks!

The week before Thanksgiving all the kids got sick. Charlie started throwing up on our drive back home from Memphis picking Freddy and I up from the airport. Then Freddy got it and threw up all over my at the end of church. Then Alec got it and stayed home from school for 3 days. Then Gwen got it and finally I got it. Two days before we were supposed to leave for Thanksgiving, I threw up 8 times and thought I was going to die. I have new found appreciation for Christ's atonement and for what Chris went through during all his chemo treatments and stem cell transplant. We postponed our departure for a day and a half and left right after school the Friday before Thanksgiving break. We wanted to make sure we were all healthy and wouldn't be bringing any bugs with us to Thom and Brittany's house in Texas full of cute kids and a 10 day old newborn! 

Baby Bennett was is so pure and perfect. I cried as I held him for the first time. Sheesh, I'm a wreck when it comes to newborns. 

It was really great to overlap with Grandma Dixie and see her for a few days before she left on Sunday. She sure stocked the house and freezer up with yummy food before she left. It ended up being really useful as Thom and Brittany had to take the little Mr. Bennett back to the hospital. He was still losing weight, about an ounce a day! - and had really high/ dangerous jaundice levels. Chris and I held the fort down at their house with our 4 kids and their 3 other kids it was like having 7 kids: an 8yr old, a 7 yr old, twin 5 year olds, a 4yr old, and twin 2 year olds. Freddy and Jane were quite the combination and were SO CUTE playing together. Everyone really behaved pretty well. 

We hosted Thanksgiving Dinner at their house in their behalf, for all of Brittany's family. Brittany's mom, "MoMo" was really great and came put the kids to bed for us a couple of nights and took a spell at the house so Chris and I could run some errands and visit Thom and Brittany at the hospital.  The doctors weren't taking any chances and started talking about and preparing for the worst case scenario of Meningitis. But our prayers were answered and all the cultures came back negative and slowly Little Mister started gaining weight and jaundice levels went down. He came home from the hospital the night before Chris and I were leaving town.  Diagnosis? Probably a viral infection that overloaded his little immune system so it couldn't fight off it and jaundice very quickly.  This whole hospital-over-Thanksgiving totally reminded me of the stem cell transplant two years ago. I am thankful beyond words that Chris is recovered and that God granted us this second chance at normal life together. We truly have many reasons to give thanks!

Before Bennett had to go to the hospital and before the rain storm that hung around the whole second half of our trip, we did manage to get out and see some lights at a local mall, and played a fun soccer game at their nearby park. I love Thanksgiving and I love that when its over, it means we get to focus on Christmas! 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Grandma Hardy and my little buddy

Freddy is my little buddy. He likes to do the same thing I do at the same time whether it be cooking, playing the piano, sweeping, mopping, folding clothes, or getting the mail. Most of the time it is super cute. 

We received news from my parents who were in Germany on a business trip for my dad, that my mom's mother, my Grandma Hardy was given only a few weeks to live. Mom made preparations to fly straight to Utah once their trip in Germany ended and then half a day later we got a text saying that Grandma had passed away. My mom was heartbroken to not have been able to see her one more time. Chris and I made arrangements for me to fly out to Utah for the funeral. Because Freddy would still fly as a lap child for free, and because apart from him, Chris could pretty much go to work like normal while the older kids were in school, I took my little buddy with me. 

He actually seemed to understand that we were walking onto an airplane and when take off happened I pointed out the window and talked about going faster and faster and faster until we went up up up into the sky. He was soooo excited about it. The flights were full and containing this rambunctious almost 2 year old on my lap was exhausting. Especially since the second flight happened during his bedtime. He finally fell asleep about 30 min before we landed at 9:00pm. 

We stayed with my sister Tiffany and her family. Freddy and I loved watching them take care of their chickens. It makes me feel like we could have chickens out in MS. Because of how long it takes us to get to the airport and with cheapest flights in mind, I ended up getting to UT on Saturday and the funeral wasn't until Tuesdays, with a viewing the Monday before. 

Tiff and I went to the viewing on Monday night and we brought the kids. It was so nice to see so much family. Cousins I hadn't seen in 10 years! There always seemed to be a gathering of aunts/uncles around My Grandmother's body/casket and between that and Freddy running around wild trying to knock down all the flowers and jump on the pews, I didn't get a chance to have a quiet moment with my Grandma and I was SOOO glad that Dixie and Jess were going to watch Frederick for me the next day during the Family Prayer, Funeral, Graveside service and luncheon afterwards. 

The room for the family prayer was packed and again there always seemed to be someone with more claim standing by the casket, so I mostly chatted with long lost cousins again. Right as it was about to begin I made my way over to stand by my siblings and I noticed no one standing by the casket so I walked by and had my little private moment. She looked so different. It hit me full force how EMPTY her body was, how separating Death is, and even as I knew about her eventual resurrection I felt profoundly how ending and final death feels on earth. Then I had an experience that set me to tears for the rest of the entire day. For a split second, I felt what it would feel like to have been staring at Chris' body if 2 years ago, God didn't save his life with a stem cell transplant. How utterly gone he would have been. How much a MIRACLE our life together is right now... and the phrase 'Don't you forget that!' rang in my ears as I walked over to my siblings where they hugged me through my tears. 

My grandmother's funeral was so beautiful. I was constantly taking notes and texting Chris what was being said to help control my silent tears so they wouldn't become sobs. My Grandma Evelyn Louise Moncur Hardy was an extremely gifted musician, a devoted, patient, loving, faithful, mother and wife, sister and friend. I was really inspired by her never ending example of service and her legacy of music. If she could have had it her way, her funeral would have been entirely of music and all of performed by her decedents or children-in-law and all of it concert worthy! At the very end all of us family members stood up, faced the rest of the people in the chapel and sang the song we've sung at every family reunion that I can remember... (in fact my mom told me they first sang it as a young family for a stake conference when my mom was just a girl) Its called, "God made our Hands." It fits my Grandma Hardy so well. 

The graveside service was short but sweet and quite cold. For the most part, there was such a sweet feeling of family togetherness and happiness at being with each other again, happiness for Grandma to be reunited with Grandpa. There was a tender experience shared during the funeral about a dream my grandma had right before she passed away. She dreamt that Grandpa came to her gave her a kiss and said, "Evelyn, you're dying... and thats ok. I'm busy doing lots of work over here and when you come, you can help me. "  

Our knowledge and hope through Christ allowed many of us to really rejoice at seeing each other and at celebrating a life well lived, a woman tried, tested and passing this life with flying colors. But there were also lots of tears and sad faces...especially the ones who lived close to her, or talked with her often and will feel her absence most sharply.

After the luncheon I picked up Freddy and we returned home. Tiff was single parenting the week since Todd had a work trip he couldn't miss. I had a head ache, dry eyes from so many tears and was still dealing with a really bad yeast yeah, I was pretty tired, but this was the only night we were together as siblings so we had planned a kid-less dinner that started a bit late because of a pinewood derby some had to go to. Dinner was SUCH fun. It was just my dad and his kids (Mom was meeting with her siblings to read the will and deal with all of THAT fun stuff...). I love my family. Here are some pictures of just before with Frederick playing with the two girl cousins closest in age to him and of my dad reading some grandkids a Christmas board book from his recent Germany trip. 

The next day, Tiffany and I went down to Orem to help my mom go through my Grandma's things. There were some painful/emotional awkward moments about people taking things but with all that everyone has been dealing with and feeling, its completely understandable. I can't even imagine how heavy, tired, and drained those closest were feeling. When I think about that, its not hard to extend mercy. Despite feeling hurt, I'm glad I could be there for my Mom. She was a complete ANGEL. So calm, So understanding, So willing and eager to ease other's burdens. So respectful, so self-less. She amazes and inspires me. 

It was a long afternoon (thanks again to Dixie for watching Clara and Freddy so we could help pack up some breakable china dishes!) and I almost canceled my plans to attend the temple, but Tiffany encouraged me and I'm so glad we made it happen. We printed off two family names, one of which I found myself! My first one. I did baptisms for them, confirmations, and intiatories!  Then it was an early bedtime for this tired mama because our flights left super early. Freddy was a pretty good traveling buddy again... only I wish he wouldn't have pooped on EVERY. SINGLE. FLIGHT.  He was really done with being confined to small spaces by the second flight, but by some miracle we had an extra seat on the flight for him! He loved it! I loved it! and I was so glad to see my Chris and my Gwen, Charlie and Alec!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Reading fair

The kids all made posters for the Reading Fair this year. At the last minute, Gwen was too embarrassed to bring hers and worried about having to say anything about it to her class. She is SO SHY. She didn't actually have to do it, so we let her just leave it at home.   

Alec was sick on the day he was supposed to bring his, but because he didn't want to actually enter it into the competition part of the reading fair, it didn't matter and he just brought it in a few days later. He did such a great job on the illustrations.  

Friday, November 6, 2015

Freddy and Raclette!

Fredrick is still the apple of everyone's eye. I sometimes wonder when its going to wear off. They still argue over who can get him up in the mornings or up from naps, or who can give him his medicine for his ear infection, etc. Here he is sitting on Alec's lap during one of Alec's eye appointments.

To be fair, he is INCREDIBLY cute when he wakes up from his naps, and he gives the best warm cheek-ed hugs. 

Our Kroger grocery store just got remolded and It. Is. Nice! They give out balloons and lollipops to kids. It makes such a difference going shopping with Frederick. 

His latest trick that I'm not super happy about is his chair maneuvering. He's realized he can move a kitchen chair anywhere in the house and be able to reach things up high. In this picture he's getting into his Halloween candy. But it could easily have been the kitchen sink, or pantry, or piano top or whatever.  He gets into everything! I loves to throw everything! It can be quite the full time job just preventing/cleaning up his craziness.

Here he is helping Charlie do his homework. He is such a little copycat. 

In other big news, we used our updated Kroger grocery store sells Raclette cheese!! So we had to break out our Raclette grill. This tradition came from Chris' family during their 10 month sabbatical to Switzerland when Chris was in 8th grade.  I guess the tradition started from the cowboys who melted cheese on the hot flat rocks by the campfire and then poured it over their food.  We served asparagus, squash, boiled potatoes, sausage, pickled pearl onions, and gherkin pickles. 

Also around this time we watched some kids of our good friends so they could have a little trip away to Florida. So for a few days I had a 12 year old daughter and another 7 year old son! Charlie and Dash were in Heaven and McKenzie was super helpful with Freddy and Gwen.  This is a picture of Chris doing a really great FHE lesson on wearing clothes for a purpose, and how our clothes send messages... trying to help with the questions on Sunday, "why do I have to wear a tie to church?" Have I ever told you that I love parenting with Chris?