Hi, I'm Stephanie

 

 

 

  I love Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice so much that I decided to have five daughters and name the second one Elizabeth.  Like a modern-day Mrs. Bennett, I spend my days raising my girls so they will be happy and independent when they grow up – only I prefer that they make their money instead of marry it.  And if my youngest runs away to London with some loser at age 15, I will track her down and haul her home myself.  But I’ll totally do some sightseeing first.

 

Kira

 

The Guinea Pig.  Gives me hope.  My husband in feminine form, she just gets more fun.

Lizzy

 

 

 Energetic, smart, kind, and will argue her convictions to the death. 

 

 

 

Hallie

 

My Hallie Priscilla. Unique fashion sense, desperately wants to live in a purple house.  Loves skunks and fruit bats.

Sophia

 My girly-girl and lone lefty.  Charming, gracious, stubborn, preternaturally practical.  And ya, she and Hallie are identical twins.

Scarlett
Scarlett Bella, Bella-boo.  Becoming a daredevil. Spoiled rotten, practically perfect.

 
Mr. Man

My intensely private husband.  Hilarious, smart, compassionate, good. 

 

Joan Rivers on Housekeeping:

I hate housework.  You make the beds, you wash the dishes, and six months later you have to start all over again.

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Amen!

"I surely know that there is no role in life more essential and more eternal than that of motherhood.

"There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. The choice is different and unique for each mother and each family. Many are able to be “full-time moms,” at least during the most formative years of their children’s lives, and many others would like to be. Some may have to work part-or full-time; some may work at home; some may divide their lives into periods of home and family and work. What matters is that a mother loves her children deeply and, in keeping with the devotion she has for God and her husband, prioritizes them above all else."

Elder M. Russell Ballard, "Daughters of God"

Friday
Sep122014

Driving Lessons

Only eight and a half more hours of driving with Kira to go until she can take the test to get her driver's license.

*eek!*

Wyoming requires 50 hours of driving practice with a licensed driver before kids can take the test.  It's all self-reported, so a lot of parents (who, let's face it, have been letting their kids drive here and there waaayyyy before they were legally eligible for a permit) fake the hours. My husband and I, however, feel that it's more important to teach her honesty than save time and gas money, so we're faithfully doing all 50 hours.  We also want her to be safe, which means having as much practice as possible.

Besides, 50 hours of driving time means 50 hours of one-on-one conversation with Kira, which we both agree we'll miss when she's licensed and going solo.  We talk a lot about school, friends, boys, and life in general. She's a junior in high school, so she's crazy busy and doesn't always have time to talk about what she's thinking and feeling.  Until we go driving.

Granted, some of our outings have been a little stressful. For example, our first time attempting the busier intersections of our little town nearly resulted in a collision with another vehicle.  I yelled, she got back in one (and only one) lane, and we were okay.  It was a little tense until we got home.

Then she yelled back, "You told me not to hit the white car - there were, like, five white cars, which one was I not supposed to hit!?!"

"You're never supposed to hit ANY of the white cars!"

Time + [near] tragedy = humor.

Well, I thought it was funny. My husband freaks out a little more with in-town driving, so I do most of the driving with Kira.  Frankly, I'd rather teach driving than toilet training.  Sure, both are stressful, both risk the possibility of accidents, and they both make a parent periodically despair that WE ARE NEVER GOING TO GET TO THE END OF THIS SUCCESSFULLY, but the end is worth it.  And potty training means dealing with poop. It tells you something about potty training with Scarlett that risking collisions is much, much more appealing.

We want Kira to get her license because that means she can transport herself to school, and church activities. She's in the health academy at the high school, so she'll soon be taking herself to doctor's offices and other health-related locales to job shadow during the school day.  It's an amazing opportunity, and much easier if she can transport herself.

The first few dozen times she drives herself anywhere alone I'll be in a panic until I hear from her, of course. The craziest traffic she'll have to face will be around the high school in the morning, so I'm afraid she's going to have to get there at 6am.  At least, that's my opinion.

Once we're done with this, we don't even have a year until Lizzy turns 15 and can get her learner's permit, and we start the process all over.

Should be fun.

 

Thursday
Sep112014

Scarlett's New Smile, New Attitude

Can you see it? 

Scarlett lost her first tooth!  She's my last baby to loose her first tooth, which is a funny thought.  All of Kira's firsts are my firsts.  All of Scarlett's firsts are my last firsts.  Her lasts are also my lasts, of course, too.

Um, anyway, Scarlett's tooth loosened up and popped out on its own, much like Hallie's and Sophia's teeth, which is nice after the fortune we spent having dentists remove Kira's and Lizzy's baby teeth. I think my eldests' refusal to wiggle or pull is my official excuse for being a lousy tooth fairy; I don't put money under pillows, I tell my kids that the tooth fairy puts the money directly in my wallet so it's all ready to be spent on a modestly priced toy of their choice.

Because modestly priced toys - heck, even expensive toys - beat paying a dentist. And if it scars the kids emotionally, it gives them something to discuss with their therapists down the road.

But this post is supposed to be about Scarlett, who lost her first tooth with no tears and lots of cheering.

We are also cheering her improved attitude about school.  The first three days of kindergarten she came home insisting that she hadn't learned anything, and that her teacher was mean.  While I was excited that I hadn't got any phone calls about misbehavior or refusal to cooperate, I had hoped for more. The fourth day, however, she said she had fun, and that she had learned two things that week:

First, "Before you ask for help, try."  Excellent advice at any age.

Second, "I can speak Spanish now. Hola." I am somewhat skeptical about this one.

This week Scarlett says her teacher is really nice and funny (yup, that's why we requested her), she's making friends, and she's had three "purple" days in a row, which is the best color day a kindergartner can have.  It means she made outstanding choices.

Yes, it's possible that two thirds of the kids in her class are also having purple days, but somebody saying Scarlett is consistently making good choices is kind of a huge, unusual deal. She's a sweet kid, but she walks to the beat of her own drum for sure. As Hallie recently opined, "Scarlett's a piece of work." That's a little harsh, but from an eight-year-old, kinda funny. 

Scarlett is not a piece of work, she's a warm-hearted, independent small soul. Yay for her that she's choosing some good things.  It gives me hope.

 

 

 

Monday
Sep082014

NURSERY!

As of yesterday, I am no longer in the Primary presidency in our ward, I'm the new assistant nursery leader. 

This has taught me that although we don't ask for callings in the church, if we whine and plead and repeat, repeat, repeat often enough that WHY CAN'T I BE IN NURSERY?!? long enough, sometimes it happens.

Yes, I've heard that some people don't regard this as a dream assignment, but those people are crazy.  Sit in Gospel Doctrine (we have a great teacher) vs. stack things on my head to make a mommy-sick toddler laugh?

Puh-lease.

And in nursery, you don't have to wear your shoes, and it's silly to wear anything too fashionable (I'm in the market for voluminous skirts in snot-proof fabric.) I made a new friend, and I know she's my friend because she kept sitting on my lap.

The only hard part is remembering which toys go in which bins, but I'll get that down soon. Wiping runny noses and sniffing suspicious smelling bums is not a problem. I can wipe noses and sniff bums in my sleep - in fact, I have done those things in my sleep, for years on end.

 I'm in that sweet spot between having all my children potty trained and gone all day, but still remembering how important good nursery leaders are and still wanting our ward to have them.

And I feel... free. I've been in leadership positions in the church for most of my adult life, and I'm ready for a break.  I assume that soon I'll be released from being stake camp director any Sunday now - I hear that's still in the works - and although it will tug at my heartstrings a little to let it go, I have big plans for a camp-free summer next year. Gardening! Camping with my family! Relaxing!

Ahhh....

Life is good.

 

Wednesday
Sep032014

Home Alone

My baby Scarlett, the last of my brood, started kindergarten yesterday, and the rest of my little ladies went back to school as well. I'm pretty sure that makes us the latest-starting school district in the United States, maybe the world.

Our cat mourned their going loud and long, and me and my husband (who took the day off work) spent a delightful six hours all by ourselves, with nothing much to do. We picked up a box of peaches and a box of pears, which I won't can - we'll just eat.  We test drove a Nissan Rogue, the first of several candidates to replace our decrepit minivan.  And we enjoyed being ALL BY OURSELVES. Yes, we love and adore our children, but it's nice to know that our favorite people on the planet are still each other.

Today, I am alone with just the cat for company.

First, he decided he wanted a cuddle, although I am probably his least favorite person (obviously keeping his litterbox fresh does not impress him).  Then he yowled for a while, and later he will take a nap.

So will I.

Before that, though, I'm glorying in the opportunity to write, and do laundry and dishes and wipe up spots on the floor UNINTERRUPTED. I keep thinking that any minute some little person - or big person - will need something RIGHT NOW. It's going to take a few days for this new reality to settle in.  Will I cry?  Will I be sad? Bored?  Lost?  I'll tell you as soon as finish doing my happy dance.

It's okay that the kids are growing up.  I've never wanted them to stay little, although Kira starting her junior year of high school (two years away from college!) makes me a little queasy.  Still, she'll be fine - she's more level-headed than I was at her age and I haven't made a complete wreck of my life.  Scarlett will be fine, they'll all be fine.

Here's the plan so I will be fine, too:

Every day, I'm going to exercise, read my scriptures, eat healthy, and write.

Most days I will clean and organize the house, do laundry, and work my way through the boxes we still haven't unpacked. I haven't had a home where there was a place for everything (with everything in its place) since the twins were born, and I'd kinda like to try it again.

And I want my house CLEAN. Windows, walls, floors, and everything else.  Clean.

I'm going to finish painting... more or less everything.  I've only completely painted one room, and almost the whole house needs it.  Fortunately, I already have most of the paint, and I love to paint. Everything looks so fresh and clean when it's done.

I intend to nap often.

Barring any disaster, I'll stick with this plan until after Christmas, when it will be time to decide what I want to be for the rest of my life.  My husband thinks I should take some classes and prepare for a career I'll love (what would that be? I can't decide) and I think that by then I'll need to find some part-time work, however unglamorous, to pay for new cars, prom dresses, college, and other looming major expenses.

I hope I know when I get there.  Even if employment never becomes necessary (and trust me, it's going to be necessary,) I want to work eventually. I also want to send my children off to school, be here when they get home, and be able to pick them up if they get sick, and ferry them to all their summer activities. And if any mom ever solves this dilemma and writes a book about it, she'll be a bestselling hero to all.

I want/need to work, not only for finances, but because after three months all by my lonesome at home, I'm going to need Something Else to do for my sanity. I know women who scrub floors for fun.  I am not one of them. Once my house is in order and doesn't need major work, it will be time to use my brain.

Okay, pictures:

 First Day of Kindergarten - ready to go!

 Lizzy wants everyone to know she's a brunette now.

 

 I'll post updated pictures of the rest of my chickadees as soon as they let me take them! 

Sunday
Aug102014

Lizzy and I took a ride on a helicopter

Blood usually doesn’t bother me too much. If I’m donating and somebody has to dig around in my arm with the needle I’ll get a little light-headed, but most of the time, it’s not a big deal.

Friday night in the emergency department at the hospital, holding a series of basins under Lizzy’s chin so she could spit out blood she was trying to keep from running into her stomach, I felt like fainting.  Or throwing up, or both.

She had been healing well from her tonsilectomy, with the exception of one episode Tuesday morning when we almost took her to the hospital, but she stopped just as I got my shoes on.

Thursday morning the pediatrician told us at her annual well child check that her throat was healing nicely.  Then briefly that afternoon, and again early Friday afternoon, it bled for a few minutes. No big deal.

So Friday not long before dinner, when it started bleeding more profusely, we were concerned but assumed it would stop any moment. The amount worried me, though. It just looked like so much.

My husband and I debated about what to do, with him getting the deciding vote because I was already late for a camp wrap-up pizza party.  He texted me not too much later that they were headed to the hospital, more because Lizzy was starting to panic than worry on his part.

He doesn’t like hospitals.  He gets impatient, he’s sure that most of what they do isn’t necessary, and spends most of the time he has to be in one calculating the amount of money it will all cost.  Knowing this, and feeling as most mothers do, that my mere presence has a protective/healing effect, I grabbed a jacket (hospitals are always so cold!) and a book so I could switch places with him. Just in case I had to be there a few hours, I took out my contacts and put my glasses on. I was glad that I hadn’t waited until that night to recharge my cell phone, like I usually do, but had charged it that afternoon.

Soon after I went back to Lizzy’s room the ER doctor calmly told us that they had consulted with Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, and that Lizzy needed to be Life Flighted there for emergency surgery.

This is the part in a tv show where the music would get fast and loud and everybody would jump into action. Lizzy would have been loaded onto a gurney and we’d duck under the whirring blades of a helicopter so we could rush off to the big city to save her life.

But because this was reality, we had to wait for a new pilot – one who hadn’t exceeded his FAA flight time limits – to show up.  They started a second IV and nonchalantly began a blood transfusion.  Every few minutes, someone would hand me a new form with a few “x”s highlighted where I should sign my name.

If our little town currently had an ENT who did surgery (the sole ENT – or otolaryngologist – in town is edging towards retirement), she would have been wheeled to the operating room right there and it would have been even less dramatic.  But no, we don’t have what I now consider that essential medical option.  And the doctor that did her tonsillectomy – who travels here from a town an hour and a half away – was on vacation and couldn’t be reached.

So we waited for the flight crew to get ready, and the most dramatic thing was me trying really, really hard, to not look like I was as close to fainting as I actually was.

It turns out that the helicopter used to take patients to Salt Lake is really small.  It’s probably a normally sized helicopter, although I wouldn’t know because I’d never been in one until Friday night. The flight nurse offered us the option us the option of sending a parent with Lizzy because she’s a minor, but they discouraged it because space is so tight and one less person means more room for them to maneuver and care for the patient.

The thing about a 13-year-old bleeding profusely from her throat, though, is that when she panicked and started crying, she bled more – a lot more. She wanted her mom with her, and I felt that as long as I could not vomit or pass out, having me along was medically a good idea. I just needed to look tougher than I felt at the moment so they wouldn’t look at my queasy face and tell me to get in my car and follow that way.

Make a three hour drive, not knowing how my girl was doing? I looked at the motto on my t-shirt, “I Can Do Hard Things,” courtesy of YW Camp 2013, and thought, I will do THIS hard thing.

Lizzy had, at this point, been given three priesthood blessings concerning her tonsillectomy, two specifically for the bleeding issue. I felt certain that she would be okay, but I defy any parent to look at a counter covered in bloody basins, to wipe blood from their child’s chin every thirty seconds for hours on end, to look at her getting paler and the circles under her eyes getting darker, and not be scared.

Not that we let Lizzy know how concerned we were.  My husband and I did a pretty good job, I think, of telling her that the life flight was really just a precaution, and just something they had to do to be careful. We even made her laugh. 

And we prayed for everyone to hurry.

Contrary to what you see on television, the helicopter blades don’t start moving until everyone’s all loaded up and the doors shut tight.  As we finally lifted off, Lizzy turned to me with a big [bloody] grin.  She flew a few times as a baby, but doesn’t remember.

That flight was a very long hour, which I spent holding both a bag and a suction tube for Lizzy to spit into. I wiped her chin over and over again. About fifteen minutes before we landed she started bleeding more profusely, and I could see it filling up the clear reservoir in the suction machine.  We started bouncing around in the air, and I prayed, harder than I have ever prayed, that she would be okay, and that I could keep my dinner down.

We made it, and no less than five ENTs gathered around Lizzy before her surgery. An embarrassment of riches.

To make a long story just a little shorter, the surgery went well.

Although most of her throat was healing well, one rogue blood vessel which was positioned sideways, or maybe it was on the side of something – I’m not sure because I got this explanation about 1am – wouldn’t quit bleeding. Veins do not usually bleed for eight hours straight.  They might bleed, then clot, then bleed again, but they’re not faucets.  Well, Lizzy’s was a faucet.

But her surgical team cauterized the bleeder, suctioned all the blood she couldn’t help swallowing out of her stomach, and said we could go home later that morning. They had given her a second unit of blood and considered giving her a third, but decided that since she was holding steady and was otherwise a healthy kid, she was better off building up her own blood supply.

So that’s what she’s doing. She’s watching romantic comedies, sleeping, drinking lots of water, and eating meat for the first time in two and a half years – doctor’s orders. She’s still scary pale, but she’s in less pain than she was before the bleed, and in a month she should be back to her old self.

Or maybe even better.

As for me, I have a new item on my bucket list: someday, Lizzy and I are going to take another ride on a helicopter.  It will be daytime, and we will be someplace very beautiful.

Nobody will be bleeding.