Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The night we were converted to bicycle helmets

 Last Saturday night I got the bright idea to go for a family bike ride.

Originally, the plan was to stay home and watch Napolean Dynamite. I was in the mood to watch it because my neighbors have this sweet bike ramp outside their house and I kept watching the neighborhood kids go over it and it reminded me that I haven't seen Napolean in... way too long. 

My good friend Jenna let me borrow the movie, and we were so close to just settling in and kicking back and watching it as a family. But then Jason was sighting in his bow in the garage, and the kids started riding their bikes around, and I thought, it's such a nice evening. Let's just go for a little bike ride first. I grabbed my new, life-changing iPhone and began to document the journey.

Here's Jason giving you a little taste of his bike skillz. Don't feel bad, he's had lots of training. You could probably do this too someday if you set your mind to it and practiced for hours a day.

We set off on our journey.

My heart about stopped when I looked at these pictures later. This is Luke, right where he was destined to take a nasty spill on our way home later in the evening.

We have this certain road we like to take. It's freshly paved, quiet (usually), and we almost always see lots of critters. 

These little critters weren't too impressed that I kept making them turn around for pictures, but it's not my fault I had to try out my new iPhone. Gosh!

At one point we saw a chicken running around in the bushes. Luke got off his bike to chase it with a stick. Jason was fed up by this point and bailed.

No chickens were injured in the making of this post.

Unfortunately, one little Luke was. We were about a quarter of a mile from home and Luke was riding in front of me. Abby started squawking in the bike trailer and I turned around to see Jake trying to escape from his straps. He was all twisted around and I was worried that the straps were around his neck. I yelled, of course being overly-dramatic, and quickly stopped my bike. Luke looked over his shoulder to see what all the commotion was. 

He lost his balance, over-corrected, and went off the road. His bike tipped over and threw him right into this beautiful barbed wire fence.

I was fixing Jake at the time, but I was aware that Luke had crashed and I ran up there as fast as I could. Luke had jumped up and was walking toward me, bent over. I could see blood dripping from his face. A lot of blood. I lifted his chin to see if it was his nose and I about passed out. His cheek was ripped wide open right under his left eye, in addition to a large cut under his nose. It was one of the worst things I have ever seen.

What could I do? I had two barefoot kids in the bike trailer, I was too far away from home to carry Luke there, and even if I did, what would I do with Abby and Jake? I pressed Luke's shirt against his face and sent Dallin home at top speed to get Jason. 

Those were some bad moments. I was trying to keep Luke's cheek closed and keep him calm at the same time. He wasn't in much pain, surprisingly, but he was scared. "Am I going to die, am I going to die?" "No, no, you're just fine. It's going to be fine."

When Jason arrived, he about freaked. Dallin had just told him that Luke scraped his face, so he was NOT prepared for the sight that greeted him. Somehow we piled all the kids in the truck and drove home to switch into the van. 

I just couldn't believe that our Napolean Dynamite night was turning into this. Why, why, why did I insist on a bike ride?

Everything seemed to be going in slow motion. We couldn't get anywhere fast enough. We didn't know where to go, first of all. An instacare? After-hours clinic? The ER? I had heard so many bad stories about the ER, I thought that should be our last resort. After driving to a closed instacare and frantically trying to figure out what to do, we drove to the hospital.

Of course there was construction. Of course every road we turned down was closed. It was horrible.

Finally, we arrived and Jason dropped me off at the door and I carried Luke in. Luke was clutching a damp white dish towel that was soaked in blood and we looked like we had been attacked. My worries about having to sit in the waiting room were put to rest as soon as we entered. The receptionist and nurses rushed over and helped us immediately.

This is the part that is so touching to me. I expect that my friends and family members will be kind and show lots of compassion. They always do, and I am so grateful for it. I didn't expect it at the ER. To receive that kind of treatment from total strangers who see this kind of thing all the time is so humbling. Every single person we dealt with - the office people, the nurses, techs, doctors - were beyond kind and were so gentle with Luke. He had to go through a lot to finally get all stitched up, and it was so much more bearable to be working with people like that. For example, Luke was so proud of the hospital bracelet with his name on it, and when we were carrying him out to the car, one of the nurses (male, no less) came running out and said, "Wait, you can't leave yet!" We turned around, expecting to have to fill out more paperwork. "He dropped this!" and handed us the bracelet (Luke was fast asleep). So nice! It was the first thing Luke asked for when he woke up.

They gave Luke some kind of sedative through a nasal spray. Luke hated it, but I'm pretty sure he would have been hating it a lot worse without it. It made him groggy and he fell asleep several times. He doesn't remember waking up several times and having to have us hold down his arms and legs and head, and then spray more junk up his nose. THANK HEAVENS.

He ended up with 28 external stitches that will need to be removed on Friday, and a whole bunch of internal ones that will dissolve, mostly in the gash in his cheek. I can't even describe how deep that gash was. The most gory picture doesn't do it justice. But I have been impressed again and again that he was protected from worse injury. He could have lost his eye so easily. The cut under his nose was deep and could have taken the whole nose with it. I know that's graphic, but I just can't help but be so incredibly grateful that he was spared from more permanent damage. The cut in his cheek is in the soft tissue on his face and didn't reach the muscle. The doctor was so precise stitching him up and I know he did a great job. Luke might still have scars, but when I see them I will be forever reminded of how blessed I am and how each moment I have with my loved ones is a true gift.

It was hard to see Luke lying there having to go through all that. I would have traded places with him in a second. But he did so well and was the bravest little boy ever. I am so proud of him.

We have had an outpouring of love from everyone. It has been amazing. My in-laws picked up the other three kids at the hospital and took them home so we didn't have to worry about them. My sweet friend offered to play the piano for me in church so I could stay home with Luke. My sister-in-law made him yummy rice crispy treats. Lots of Luke's friends have showed up with treats and cards. One little boy even used his own money to buy Luke a pack of Pokemon cards. Thank you to each one of you for your prayers and concern. It really means so much. Sometimes when something major happens to someone else, I think, oh I shouldn't even bother to contact them, they are probably so overwhelmed with everyone else in the world reaching out to them. But seriously, every single person's efforts are so appreciated. I will try harder in the future to be more compassionate when others are going through hard things.

Putting Luke to bed that night was scary. The sedatives were still in effect and we couldn't wake him up, so we just had to hope that he was all right. Imagine my relief when I woke up Sunday morning to a happy little boy standing by my bed saying, "Mama, I'm okay!" He is doing so well and I can't shake the thought that even though it is unfortunate that he has had to go through this (and try to shake the thought that it was my fault), it could have been so much worse and he was very blessed and protected.

A few thoughts about helmets

I've never thought much about putting bike helmets on my kids. They have them, but I never wore one growing up and my kids aren't reckless, so I have never bothered with them. But that was the first question the doctor asked us, and I was very ashamed to have to answer no.

I'm not sure if anything would have been different if Luke had been wearing a helmet. It's very likely that things would have been exactly the same. A helmet probably wouldn't have protected his face from the barbed wire. I don't know. But I think about how quickly that happened, and how unexpected that moment was, and I was right there. What if in the future it is a head to the concrete, or getting hit by a car, and I could have prevented at least some of the injury? One instant is all it takes. I will definitely be more careful in the future.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Quick Trip to Burley

Last week my cute, fun little sister Kristen and her husband Nick made the journey to Idaho from their home in Wichita, so I packed up the kids and spent an amazing 28 hours in Burley. I know some people have attitudes about *Idaho* ("Ohhhh, you're from Idaho...") and to those people I want to say, yes, it is a terrible place, never go there. We don't want you!! As for me, I can't even look at these pictures without feeling a profound homesickness for my home state. I miss the open fields, the sprinklers clacking away in the distance, the crickets chirping in the night, the soft, luscious grass, and most of all, my family. 

All ten of the little cousins made the trip to see Kristen and were treated to endless 4-wheeler rides by my Dad.  My parents' lawn is so huge. I thought it was a curse when I was a kid because we had to mow the thing and then rake it! The whole thing! It took hours. But it taught me to work and turned me into the person I am today. So I guess I have that giant lawn to thank for many good things in my life, including fun times for my kids.

My mom has always had holly hocks. They just seem like home to me. Aaron, you can enter this picture into the fair if you want. Ha ha.

The action really gets going when Grandma gets on the golf cart and whips everyone around. I love how Dallin is dragging behind the sled, Katelyn is surfing, Taylor is running toward the action and Abby and Luke are just along for the ride on the 4-wheeler.

Here's Kristen and her cute little friends, Tank and Lucy. What is more perfect than this picture (minus the sniffing)? The green grass, the yellow wheat that matches the dogs, sprinklers in the distance, the church I grew up with, and my long-lost sister gracing the scene in her pink shirt. Love and miss.

The homestead in all its glory. Those were my windows that you see on the top.

Abby loved peeking out of the playhouse.

Dallin of course brought his toy bow and spent a lot of time shooting straight up in the air at birds. I was surprised that he could actually hit them most of the time. Don't worry, the end of the arrow is a pencil eraser (but I'm sure the birds still got a good little shock when they got thwacked). I love how Dallin is looking up in the sky for an arrow to fall, Luke is hanging on the tree, and Katelyn is just basking in the grass. Nothing is really in focus except the tree leaves, but I think it kind of makes it look like heaven.

I know I often preach about Burley sunsets, but seriously people, can you beat this? Look at these two free birds out on the range. Kids were meant to stand on long green grass and gaze up into the sky on a summer's evening. That's just how it is.

This is a scene of much action and I LOVE it! Dallin stepped on a bee, so Nick, who is a doctor, is removing the stinger. Katelyn is looking gorgeous, Kristen is making her classic face, Halli is peeking around the corner at her mom walking in holding Austin's hand, and Jake is chillin' with his hand down the back of his diaper. Wassup?

Of course we had to "fill the bump" as we call it. The huge grassy hill in my parents' yard has a hole on one side and my dad has it rigged up to fill with irrigation water with a big pipe (providing the sprinklers in the field are on).  Luke and Katelyn are riding a kayak down the giant vinyl billboard sign that we use as a slip and slide and Dallin is lugging his kayak to the top. 

Oh, good times, good times.

Luke just had to go for a little dip all by himself when the action has ceased. This picture is bittersweet to me because Luke took a bad spill on his bike later in the week into a barbed wire fence and had to have his face stitched up in a few places (post to follow). I see his perfect skin in this picture and my heart just breaks. But I'm so glad he's okay.

So that's our trip to Burley. And yes, all my siblings who live far, far away, this was meant to make you homesick. Move back! Now! I'm not kidding. We need you.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Family Outings: Blessing or Curse?

Ah, summer. Three months of pure bliss with our perfect children, enjoying unstructured days of love, and of course, infamous family outings. Let's be honest for a minute here. Does anyone really like family outings? Is it ever really worth it to leave the house WITH the kids? No matter how adorable, charming and glorious they may appear on Facebook and blogs, I KNOW almost all family outings are actually exercises in torture in more ways than one. Do the few picture-perfect moments make them worth it? I am totally up in the air on this one. It's a good thing I have an adventurous, motivated, thrill-seeking husband who actually wants to experience life with the kids and makes the effort to see that it happens. Or I might never leave my house. Not joking.

Let's examine a recent little outing that had its fair share of ups and downs. I'm still trying to decide if the whole experience was worth the... effort.

It began as most of our outings tend to begin, with a hunting motivation in mind. Jason drew out for a deer tag out by Vernon, which is west of Lehi. Way west. What a perfect excuse to go on a little family picnic/fishing trip to Vernon Reservoir while scouting for deer and basking in our love for each other all at the same time. If you haven't been to the classy V.R. or heard of it, it's probably because you haven't gotten drunk, beat your kids and threw trash in a lake lately, because everyone we saw out there was doing all three of those things in random order. Also, public urination was involved in all three. And yes, there were two quite nice "porter potties" (as my kids call them) nearby. I'm assuming they were in such good condition because they never get used. Lucky for us.

Moving on. As we drove out through the lone and dreary desert on our way to the VR, we encountered an approaching train. A very long approaching train. We were in the middle of absolutely positively nowhere. I don't even know where the track came from. Suddenly it was just there in front of us, and there was a train on it. We were about two seconds too late to make it across, so we sat and merrily counted train cars. For a very long time. The train went and went and went. Until it stopped, never to move again. We couldn't see the end in either direction, which is saying a lot, because I'm sure we could almost see the north and south poles from our position in the vast wilderness. The husband was not impressed.

So, what does a huntin' man with an agenda do when he can't go over it, and he can't go under it or even through it? He must go around it. This, despite all obstacles, which include: a begging wife, frightened children, a sign that says, "DO NOT ENTER" and the absence of an actual road. "I'm sure we can get across somewhere," he says with bravado as he peels through the dirt onto the... path next to the train track. 

Tense moments ensued. I had the thought, "This is some mighty fine blogging material, I should get out my camera," but the thought was quickly squelched by a glance at the determined and, shall we say, humorless husband across the truck from me. We continued on the path of terror for quite some time. It didn't get any better. In fact, it got significantly worse. After about 15 minutes/years, we passed the front of the train. Unfortunately, we were now separated by a large barbed wire fence and a steep incline to the track, both of which made passage impossible.

"There must be a crossing somewhere out here," came the grumbles, admist Mormon curse words (ie. "flippin' shiz-bitin' monkey-liver crap-headed train drivers", etc), from the driver's seat. Against my better judgement, I used the time to educate my children on why patience is a virtue and how if you simply wait and think positive thoughts, all the trains in your life will eventually move out of the way and let you through unscathed (not true, but that didn't stop me). What did stop me was the same thing that stopped the whole adventure: a sudden series of giant holes in the ground, impossible to see in front of us because of the six-foot high sage brush we were barreling through at near sonic speed. 

Suddenly, the truck was leaping through the air, carrying six terrified passengers with it. There was a crash. A burst of light (not really). A shower of glass. Screaming (that was me). Then all was quiet in the jungle. What in the living heck just happened?
I guess the 4-wheeler in the back of the truck must have been feeling lonely and wanted to join in all the fun and love going on in the front of the truck, because it came right through the window and showered all of us in shards of glass, especially the three frightened little souls strapped into the back seat. That was a bad moment, I'm not gonna lie. 

Jason and I jumped out of the steaming truck and tried to calm the kids while we unbuckled them and lifted them out of their glass blanket and onto the dusty, thorn-covered ground. Thanks to the design of modern vehicle glass and the mercy of heaven above, there was not a single cut on any of the kids. We swept out the truck the best we could with our bare hands and broke out the rest of the window to prevent further tragedy. 

Now that we were stopped, we could read the sign that was looming a few yards ahead of us, which had been previously obstructed by the fact that we were in motion, sailing through the air toward it, aware only of a bright orange blur on the ground somewhere far beneath us.

It read, "Warning: Explosives Testing Ground. Do Not Enter." 

Ohhhhh. So that's why we weren't supposed to enter. Got it.

It was during this time that the train passed us by, mocking our misfortune with each clack of its wheels. We tried not to make eye contact. 

As we drove sheepishly back the way we came, Abby said, "Look, Mom, mist!" I turned around to see the truck being filled with clouds of heavy, lung-sucking dust. All I could do was smile in my heart as I pulled the neck of my shirt up over my mouth to ensure oxygen. It only took a small amount of self-control to not say a word about being right, right, right. I was able to do this because I was so relieved that we could finally just head home. Wrong, wrong, wrong.  
Later, after the mist had settled.
This didn't stop the family outing from coming. It came. Somehow or other, it came just the same. As we finally crossed the now-clear train track, I took a deep, dust-filled breath and prayed that we would someday cross this track again, on our way home, and that it would be sooner rather than later.

We arrived at the VR, stepped over feces, cooked up our tin foil dinners, fished whole-heartedly (some of us), were insulted by fellow reservoir-dwellers, and called it good.

Now it was time to drive through the hills and look for deer. The evening became very pleasant and the roads weren't quite as dusty. We were in good spirits because #1, we were still alive, and #2, the truck was still running. There were a lot of attractive bucks roaming the hills (according to Jason) and it was actually kind of enjoyable. We drove and drove and drove.

And then I saw it. A humble, wise creature, perched atop a fence post. An owl. A real owl! There to bless our fortune and misfortune and make the whole trip (possibly) worth it.

I made Jason slam on the brakes, and as we skidded through gravel and dirt once again, I exclaimed, "Kids, do you know how rare this is? We have never seen an owl in the wild before! Ever! And now there is one right in front of us, just waiting for me to take his picture!" I snapped away as he looked at us with pity and respect. A moment later, he took flight, probably to go tell all his friends about us.

We drove away with reverence at what had just happened. But that wasn't the end of the owl sightings. Suddenly, the kids were yelling that there was another one! Then a few moments later, another one after that! How could this be? Were we being blessed in owls to make up for our abundant misfortune/lack of judgement on somebody's part that wasn't mine? In the end we saw a total of eleven owls. Eleven!

We drove home as the full moon settled over the desert and it was finally too dark to spot any more deer unless they bounded in the road in front of us. We had a fun little stop at the one and only store/gas station in the town of Vernon. It was closed, with a hand-written sign on the door that read, "Sorry, we are out of gas until Monday." I'm very grateful that we were not also out of gas; otherwise, we might still be there. I was about to snap a picture of the quaint little note, but the owner of the gas station suddenly appeared, probably startled and astonished by the presence of actual humans at his store. He let Jason in to buy each of us our very own ice cream bar. I didn't even worry about the sticky bath of goo that my children were creating in the dusty back seat as they worked on their ice cream. I was just grateful to be going home. In one piece.

If you've seen the movie The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which I highly recommend, you are familiar with the closing scene in which Mr. Fox points out some universal truths. One is that all foxes are slightly allergic to linoleum... but it's cool to the paw. And that they say their tree may never grow back... but someday something will. In the wisdom of Mr. Fox, family outings might be pain and torture... but they provide memories. It might cost $228 to repair the back window of a truck that an airborne 4-wheeler sailed through... but now the new window has a convenient sliding door. I guess good can come from all things. But I'm curious to know... do YOU think family outings are worth it? Please answer my question: Family Outings, Blessing or Curse? You may reply with a simple B or C. Dish away.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Summa Time and the Livin's Easy

This summer feels like a time warp to me. I can't believe it's already July, but it seems like about 6 years since the school bus came and swallowed up my kids in the morning and  provided me with a day of relative peace. I'm not wishing the summer away, by any means, I'm just amazed that we've made it this far. And we are still trucking along. Here are a few (thousand) of the summer's highlights.

Dallin participated in the Pinewood Derby. His car was called Angry Buck and included a set of horns that Jason sawed off one of Dallin's toy deer the night before the race. Dallin's car was voted Most Likely to Get Shot. The Scouting Program and Me is still an area I am working on loving. Right now, we like each other. Someday I will be a Great Scouting Mom and actually work on requirements during the week. 

We have spent many, many hours at the ball park this year watching Dallin. He loves baseball and has done really well. I am proud of all his hard work and dedication. His team made it to the state tournament, which is yet to come, so our baseball days are far from over this season. I have enjoyed learning more about the sport of baseball (they really steal bases and don't get in trouble?) but I have not enjoyed wrestling Jake for hours on end. I am honestly considering a dog kennel for him, or at least some kind of portable fenced-in dog run.

We've had several fun fishing trips.  I'm grateful to have a husband who loves to take the kids fishing, even though I struggle with fishing because it seems like such a lose/lose situation to me. If the fish aren't biting, by darn we are going to sit there until they do. If the fish are biting, by darn we are going to sit there till the end of time because we can't waste such a golden opportunity. The worst is when a fish bites right at the beginning, and then never again. I sit and watch myself grow older.

Yay, Luke got one! Now we can stay for six more hours.

This was a fun camping trip at East Canyon Resort for Jason's mission reunion. It was nice because we could  camp on grass! I loved the lack of dirt and rocks. It was also fun to meet a lot of people from Jason's mission and see his mission president again.

The fire on the mountain by Saratoga Springs provided lots of excitement.  We watched it burn down the mountain and cover the sun with smoke. I am so grateful to all those who helped get it under control and save so many homes!

Yikes, the flames!!!

We drove out and watched the helicopter filling up with water at Utah Lake and then fly over us in a blaze of glory to dump it on the fire. It gave me goosebumps to watch! I was so proud of the little helicopter guy. 

We had a fun night at the Timpanogos Archery Range. It is so beautiful and cool up there and so close. The kids LOVE to go shoot bows and roam through the hills.

Jason walking with his little herd toward the shooting course. I just love to see that little pack of rats from behind. 

Luke was in love with the huge weeds that you blow the little white thingies off of. I mean, what are those things? They aren't giant dandelions. Whatever they are, there are going to be a lot more of them now.

Jake fell in love with all the targets and I had a hard time dragging him away from all his new "puppies". He pretty much thinks all animals are puppies, especially horses. Except actual puppies, he calls those "dogs".

Another beautiful puppy to love. Am I the only one who thinks hunting targets are freaky?

Luke LOVES birds. His whole life revolves around birds (and Pokemon cards). He has been looking forward to the bird show at the Hutchings Museum since last year during Lehi Roundup Days and he was so excited to go see all his fine feathered friends again. This is some kind of falcon. Luke's dream in life is to have a pet condor. For now he has to settle for watching all the turkey vultures that circle around Lehi with their cool red heads and hooked beaks.

Abby loves owls and she was excited to get close to this little guy.

We found two frogs in our yard last week. One was alive and the other was... frozen. In time. I had to use all my restraint to keep from screaming when the "frozen" frog was brought into my house. He was all stretched out in a swimming position and hard as a rock. I mean, the look on his face... it still haunts my dreams. Shudder.

I used to be just like this when I was a kid. All happy about a frog and willing to touch the slimy little thing for hours on end. What happened to me? Why can't I touch animals anymore? Or kids who have been touching animals, or anything that kids who have been touching animals have touched? I'm afraid the thing my kids will remember most about me is the question, "Have you washed your hands with soap?" Sad, I tell you. Sad.

Jake wasn't so sure about the frog. Maybe I should put a guard frog by the front door to prevent this child from jumping ship since he has now learned to unlatch the deadbolt and open the door. I can officially never relax again.

We went to the Horse Parade in Lehi and Jake was thrilled to see so many "puppies" at once. He yelled "Hi puppy! Hi puppy!" for about 45 minutes.

Lots of fun cousins watching the parade.
We went to the annual Crane family reunion in Bennington, Idaho and had a great time. We camped in a tent the first night. The moon was so bright we didn't even need flashlights inside the tent! My parents brought their trailer so we had all the necessities. It was great.

This is my Grandma and Grandpa Crane's house where my mom grew up. I love this place and have so many memories here. I loved taking my kids there and showing them around.
Abby and Luke had fun exploring my grandma's attic. Apparently there is a bat problem up there. My Aunt Wilma showed us the guano and everything. I wanted to stay and try to catch a bad so badly, but we didn't have time. I hope the bats are still there the next time I visit. Then I will get my pet bat for SURE!

Abby was my little hiking partner. My relatives own this canyon and it is amazing to be there and think of  my grandpa herding sheep in these very same hills so many years ago. It is so peaceful to me. I think it feels like holy ground.

We always get a big breakfast with all the fixin's. Sometimes I look around and think, I can't believe I am related to all these people! But I am, and I am so grateful. My relatives are the BEST people on earth.

The fun family pic up in the canyon. Dirty and stinky and having the time of our lives. Such is summer. Lack of soap and all.