I decided to copy my sisters and do a 10 year post...It has taken me a while, because I am not so good at being short and sweet!
In 1999 I spent the year preparing to go on a mission. I was certain I needed to go. Then a week before I was scheduled to enter the MTC, I called it off...I guess I wasn't so certain. Then I had some difficult and embarrassing experiences and I pushed aside my promptings to go...I was going to do what I want! Then, in the depths of despair I finally humbled myself and begged to know what the Lord wanted for me. The experiences that followed gave me my answer and helped me through the hardest times on my mission. I left a few weeks later MUCH more prepared and determined. In August, I met the man who would eventually become my soul mate and best friend. Of course, if you've read my anniversary entry, we were both unaware of that fact at the time :). I spent a wonderful four months around him and others who I will cherish the rest of my life.
I spent the majority of the year 2000, doing the same thing. Meeting AMAZING people and trying to help others, but finding that I was the main one who benefitted. Sometimes feeling lighter than a cloud with joy, and hope, and other times (lots of times!) frustrated at the minute amount of good that resulted from my efforts. In the end I learned that my feeble attempts were important even if I didn't see the fruit. And more importantly, that I can't take credit for the it anyway. My greatest experiences, watching people truly accept the gospel, helped me to realize that I have NOTHING to do with it. They felt the spirit, hungered for truth, and did what they needed to do to obtain the blessings of the gospel. What a blessing that time was in my life.
I returned home two days before Christmas, feeling very awkward (MORE than usual, okay?). I felt like I had to reaquaint myself even with my family. Almost immediately after I crossed the doorstep of my home, we loaded up and drove to Utah for Christmas. Those first few days, there were many embarrassing/funny moments for me and my family. My discomfort leaving my "companions" at a store to go try on clothes, calling people sister, and insisting on prayers no matter where we were. :) Those are just a few of my faux pas. It was wonderful being home for Christmas. I was thankful to be around all of my family.
2001 Started out a little rocky as I tried to get used to normal life again. I got to work with my mom, that was really nice. After a few months, I met up again with my Jay. The rest felt much like a whirlwind. He swept me right off my feet with his sweet, adorable personality...the flowers and stuffed animals helped too (just kidding!). After only a few dates, and lots of talking, I felt a confirmation that he could be the one. Only two months later, I moved to Utah and lived with my sister to solve the long distance relationship problem. After that we spent most of our time together and Jay showed me over and over what an AMAZING man he is. He went out of his way to make things special and fun. As I type I'm looking up at finger paintings we made of each other on one of our dates. He first took me to the DI and we had to choose the ugliest outfit we could for each other. Then we went to the park and painted finger painting portraits, followed by a paint fight. Now, every time I look at those pictures, it takes me back. Other favorite memories were of dancing next to Jay's car during another game he made me play, camping, watching him take care of and play with his young brother and sister, and hours of just sitting together on my sister's porch talking about our goals, hopes, dreams... Of course, my very favorite date was toward the end of September. Jay took me up Millcreek canyon for a picnic. We hiked along a pathway for a while and he was so much faster than me! I felt totally out of shape because he was leaving me in the dust even loaded down with a picnic basket. He told me just to relax and take my time, but I didn't want to look like a wimp, so I hurried as fast as I could :). Looking back it's funny how much harder I made his life sometimes. (Who am I kidding, I still make his life harder sometimes!) He raced up the trail and started setting up the table. He made a nice dinner and brought real dishes in a beautiful basket. The setting was perfect, so wonderful and scenic, I should have known something was up! But honestly I didn't. The leaves were colorful, the weather was just how one would hope, and the mountains, as always, had such a peaceful feeling. After we ate we sat on a picnic bench and talked. Then, Jay walked over to the trees and dug a box out of the leaves below, came over to me and asked me to be his wife. I don't remember what he said particularly, just his handsome nervous face and the amazing feeling in my heart at the prospect of being with him forever. I've since told him, he always gave me butterflies from that first moment I saw him on my grandfather's doorstep. My heart would lift when I saw him. I am sometimes suprised that I still feel that when I anticipate his arrival, or like today, when I discover that I get to spend a whole extra day with him! Sorry, I'll end this cheese fest... We married December 8th and my life has never been the same.
2002 was mostly a blissful, carefree year. The one dark spot was a miscarriage. I found out I was pregnant only a couple months after we married. We were very happy about it, because we were both excited to have kids, and wanted them right off. When I found out that I had miscarried at about 11 weeks I was devastated. Over time, I had almost forgotten about this, because so much has changed now! In hindsight I am endlessly grateful for the Lord's time. We really got to know each other well and had tons of fun together. We lived in our first apartment half of that year. It was not well maintained, but we made some cherished friends that made the experience worth it. Then, we moved into the apartment we should have been in from the start. We loved our Grant Street apartment, and planned to stay there until we had to move out. (You know, when we had our third child and could no longer fit in two bedrooms :) Our life was so simple, we didn't really want or need anything. (We wouldn't have had room for it anyway)
2003 was a mostly consumed by our fixer upper. In about March, Jay's dad told us about a house that someone in his ward would give to us if we just paid to move it. It seemed crazy not to at least look into it, so I started to look up the cost, risks, etc...of moving a house. We also looked at houses to have a comparison. Since the moved house would certainly cost 100 grand or more and have lots of risks involved, our little house seemed like a bargain at 82,000! To us it looked perfect...of course we had a pretty smart realtor. He had taken us to see two amazingly terrible houses that were both over 100,000. Compared to the two houses with sunken floors, holes in walls, yellow smoke stained wallpaper, and piles of garbage wood we would have to haul away, ours looked like the deal of the century! (And I still feel it was, I love our house.) At that same time I changed jobs and started working at a mortgage company my aunts family owns. Those first six months in the house were very very difficult. We planned to remodel the kitchen, and that seemed like all the house needed beside ripping off the hideous wallpaper and painting. No problem right? Well, Jay's dad had a much more realistic picture when he first saw the house. Where we saw perfection, he saw problems... :). And he turned out to be right. We ripped off the wallpaper to find endless seas of paneling. Our kitchen remodel turned into an entire kitchen and bathroom overhaul, totally new clear down to the studs. Not to mention drywalling almost the entire upstairs, overhauling the terribly inconvenient pantry, and painting...SO much paint, SO much dust... We lived in the basement among a lot of dust, lived out of a cooler, and our basement bathroom only had a toilet. We bummed tons of meals off of Jay's mom. Not to mention taking all of our showers there and spending time there to escape the stinky, dusty hole we lived in. I pretty much lost it the day I found out that our cupboards were too big. We were on the home stretch and the cupboards were my signal that it was almost done after MONTHS of work. When Jay called to tell me, my behavior could have been at least compared to a three year old tantrum... I sobbed pitifully in front of ALL of my coworkers (good times :) That was in the home stretch, we got it worked out and finally, at long last it was done!! I am thankful to have a home, and one we can afford. I am thankful for Jay's parents; we never could have done it without them. And the financial contribution from my parents too. I am also thankful to be where we are, we are so happy here. But I will never, I repeat NEVER buy a major fixer upper again! Incidentally, we have been hesitant to take on any other projects in our house since then. As you can tell by our peeling paint, and half finished living room :).
2004 started out pretty uneventfully... We were enjoying our house, working, etc... I had changed jobs again at the end of 2003 because business at the mortgage company slowed down. I was a teller at Cyprus CU in Magna and Jay worked at foods etc... I LOVED working there in Magna. The members were amazingly nice. It felt like a small town. I loved the old men who would talk to me about being members of the credit union since it was in a little house on main. I loved hearing all of the stories of people who came in. It is amazing the things that people would tell me after coming in several times. You realize that every person is interesting in their own way. And I loved the family feeling of magna everyone seemed to know everyone else. I made so many friends that year that I wish I could keep in touch with now! In the fall, my friend Erica and her daughter Brooklyn moved in. About that same time, I was really becoming impatient to have kids and my doctor put me on clomid. After only two months and right about the same time Erica arrived we got the news we had been waiting for. I was due July 21, 2005! Right before Christmas I was fired from my job at Cyprus. I was STUNNED, upset, I cannot even describe my feelings... First of all, I loved Cyprus and had a true interest in the company and particularly the members I helped, I felt betrayed. Also, I was pregnant, so WHO would possibly want to hire me. And we were out my pay AND the benefits that my job provided. It's funny to see how the Lord can make everything turn out for our benefit some way or other.
2005 We were still reeling from my job loss, but there were benefits. We have had some financial struggles, but it forced us to start living on one income. That made it much easier after Jayden came for me to stay home. And Jay started looking for a better paying job. He was able to find a much better job at a reputable company. Everything fell back into place after everything had seemed to fall apart. Erica and Brooklyn stayed with us about four months of this year, and it was fun to get to know Brookie. I had never spent as much time with her as the rest of my family. (Erica is my best friend from high school.)
In spite of our financial concerns, this was a golden year for us. We were cherishing every experience tied to my pregnancy...(okay...not EVERY experience! But all of the cool things :) Jayden moved a lot and it was so amazing to watch and feel him. Toward the end it was so awesome to watch my stomach lurch like in some alien movie. We were obsessed with him even before he was born. And that was BEFORE that magical moment I first looked into his eyes. I can still see his amazing little face in my mind, and the overwhelming joy...is beyond words. He stayed awake for a long time after the birth, and they let us just hold him and enjoy him for a long while before taking him away for his bath. I won't bore you with every detail of the rest of that year, but we were definitely smitten. Some of my favorite memories were the early mornings before Jay would go to work. Jayden would be up to see him off and smile and have fun with daddy. Everything was so new and fun!
2006 had a lot of bumps as well as blessings. In march or april I started babysitting my nephew Kaleb. At about the same time, I found out that I was pregnant again, quite unexpectedly. (I guess we should have been more responsible, but since we waited so long for Jayden, we figured we didn't need to worry much :). We were still excited for our new little one. Those first six months with Kaleb were REALLY rocky. I was sick and tired and quite overwhelmed between the pregnancy and the two little boys. Kaleb really didn't like my house or me I supposed. He cried a lot and would cry more if I tried to hold and comfort him. I vascilated a lot between guilt and frustration not knowing what to do. I would call my mom and cry and she was a great comfort to me. Those months passed fast and by the fall Kaleb was having fun with Jayden, I felt better and we were in a much happier place.
A fun time for me was being able to go to girl's camp with my young women. It was hard being away from Jayden, but he loved his week with Grandma Brown, and didn't even want to talk to me when I got back. I love my young women!
The most notable event of the year was Ethan's birth. In early November, I decided to take the final trip I could with my sister Candice. Over the past two years we had taken so many trips together. Jay used to travel for work and I didn't want to be home alone, so I'd steal her from Randall and we'd spend the week in Nevada. They were priceless and amazing trips, and awesome talks on our long drives. Neither of us had a car big enough for both of our families after so I really wanted to go. I have to admit in hindsight that I did have some forboding. I kept praying and acting like I would listen if I shouldn't go, but I did push aside my promptings. So we went, and wednesday night, I woke up thinking I was having a major bladder problem. Again, in hindsight, I should have known that my water broke since it twice I had to clean up my mother's hallway that night. (Thank heaven for tile :) It was a lot of water! (sorry, tmi) In fact, thinking back I feel like a total moron! I just had never heard of anyone's water breaking that early. I called my doctors nurse and told her I had ZERO control and she told me I would need a bladder sling after the birth. That is the second time I felt like I should go home, but again, I was so concerned about ruining everyone's week that I pushed it aside again.
Friday we returned home and I picked up Jay at 1 am that night. Saturday afternoon I went into labor while making dinner. We went to the hospital as the contractions came on faster. When we got there they immediately tested me and found out that my water had broken. From that point on I was in a mist of shock, and guilt, worry, fear... It was an AWFUL experience. They told me He was in distress and would not survive labor, so they rushed to arrange a C section. Dr. Hughes came in and assisted Jay in giving me a blessing and then they took me in. The worst part was they kept telling me, "he'll be okay, he's strong". Instead of 'we see this all the time', or 'he's not in that bad of shape'. I knew it was not good because of the way they said that! Combined with the fact, that they told me his stats didn't look good on the monitor. I threw up through the whole surgery. I couldn't even stop long enough for the anesthesiologist to give me medication for it. Then they let me look at him for only a moment before taking him to the NICU. A little while later a pediatrician came and updated us on his status. She didn't make me feel any better. It was such a long night, but by the next day, things were at least sounding better. He was only on the ventilator for a matter of hours and he was slowly progressing through the steps to get out of the most serious section of the nicu. Those first days were still so hard. At first they discouraged us from touching him too much and we couldn't hold him at all until he had his arterial line removed. That took a couple of days but they still limited how often we could hold him even after that. I guess I took for granted having Jayden so close. Of course I understood why and I was so thankful for the wonderful care they gave him. But it was still hard. After I went home, we had to arrange to go see him in the evenings when someone could watch Jayden. He was only in there 10 days total, but it felt like such a long time!
I have felt so much guilt over the years because of that week. Knowing that I am at least partially responsible for the set backs and difficulties he has had in his life. I do have faith that people have trials for a reason, that everything in some way is orchestrated by a higher power. And I feel he will be a better person, and be blessed because of the things he has to suffer. But, I think it would be a little easier to watch him go through it, if I didn't feel at least partially responsible. I've had people ask me if he got his "injury" from delivery, or if it was the doctor's fault. And I have to admit it was mine, that's pretty embarrassing. I do feel thankful that his problems are fairly minor. And more importantly, I am just happy he survived! We are amazingly blessed.
We spent the rest of the year at home, or taking turns going to family parties. We kept him home from a lot of parties and church and other things for the first three months and you wouldn't believe how many people had something to say about that! Even people we hardly know... oh well...I guess they mean well. And they wanted to see him. Can't blame them, he's pretty cute ;). We were just following doctors orders! :)
2007 Our first trek out this year was in February. We went to Nevada for my niece, Mallory's blessing. It was a fateful trip as well...poor Ethan probably hated Nevada at first! :)... First, he was acting really uncomfortable. While I was at the store, my sister discovered the reason why. A piece of my hair had gotten wrapped around two of his toes and was cutting into them. They were incredibly swelled. (AGAIN, WHY DIDN'T HIS MOTHER NOTICE!?!?!) They said it was probably a good thing I wasn't there because my cool headed husband had to pull it out of the open cuts that it had caused in his toes. As you can imagine, it was extremely painful for Ethan. Luckily that healed up after not too long... But the other thing was a result of how many grandkids we have in our family I suppose. It seems like whenever we get together, at least one is sick and passes it on to the rest of them. This time it was a strange, pink eye like cold... Jayden had so much mucous in his eyes they would be stuck shut when he woke up. Poor kid. Ethan didn't get it till later when we got home. One night I was nursing him and he'd been sick and his face turned totally grey. We rushed him up to Primary's at our doctor's insistance and he spent a week there with influenza. I stayed with him and watched tv all day and Jayden stayed with Candice. It was kind of relaxing I must admit. He didn't seem in danger, he just needed a little extra oxygen to make his stats normal. And it was nice not to have anything to do but watch him.
Jayden went into nursery this year and was really happy about it! We continued to enjoy all of his little firsts.
Ethan was so sweet from the very start. I loved his cute little smiles. But we continued to worry about him. He lagged behind and he seemed to have problems with his eyes. We took him to an eye doctor who continually told us that they just looked crooked, they weren't really. But that seemed wrong to me, he only looked at me with one of his eyes sometimes. When he was clearly regressing and wasn't even rolling around at nine months, his pediatrician did some tests and found out he was EXTREMELY iron deficient. I was so happy it was such an easy fix. I was sad that the reason was he wasn't getting enough milk from me so he was starving, but we put him on formula and iron supplements and he immediately did better. We were so happy that his problems were solved....
We also had Kaleb through this year on some days too. We all loved it when Kaleb would come over, especially Jayden. We had lots of fun together!
2008 started out with potty training for Jayden. It went amazingly well and gave me a big head about my potty training skills. (I have since been humbled about this...) At the same time we decided to get a second opinion about Ethan's eyes. Our doctor agreed with us that his eyes did wander and his ability to see was affected. (He would stop and stare at a toy for a long time, and then slowly reach out to get it as if he wasn't sure where to reach.) We saw doctor Hoffman at the end of January and he said Ethan needed surgery. I had never imagined this! I was again shocked and scared, but wanted to do what was best for him. So Jay and I spent Valentines day at Primary's. The first day was SO bad. I brought a camera to take a picture of him, but couldn't make myself because he looked so miserable. (now I wish I had just for historical purposes) Blood red tears were falling from his RED eyes and he wimpered pitifully as he woke up. The rest of the day was NO improvement. The surgery was on two muscles of each eye, and he was upset all day. I'm sure it was scary for him, not to mention painful, and he did not know what was going on. I had to keep him from touching his eyes so he slept by me that night and Jay slept downstairs. I didn't sleep much. By the next day, things were already so much better. His eyes still looked like something from a horror movie for days, but he didn't seem to notice. And the benefits of the surgery were apparent almost immediately. He would sprint forward to grab a toy for the first time. It was clear that he could see better. We were so happy. NOW his problems were over... or were they?
He did leap forward at first, but still didn't really keep up. He had been assessed by a physical therapist and a neurological specialist when he was younger for his delays, but it was right around the time he started iron supplements and I was sure he'd catch up. Then when they sent a letter to follow up with him, he had just had the eye surgery, so again, I was sure he'd catch up. So in the fall I took him again, because he was still way behind. During the time they spent with him, they thought he had a seizure so they advised me to get an MRI and EEG. The MRI wasn't as bad as I had feared. It seemed scary to me, but he slept through it. And when he woke up he was extremely funny. I would give a lot to have that on video! He was cracking us up, like a little mini drunk man. Then a few days later on Halloween he got an EEG. That, suprisingly, was the less pleasant test. We had to keep him up most of the night, so he was not a happy camper. He slept for a couple hours and then his mean parents dressed him up like a lion and dragged him all over the place! The EEG came out normal, but through the MRI, it was discovered that he has cerebral palsy. I have to admit to almost being relieved to know. We had wondered for so long, and now we could get him the help he needed. And it really could be much worse. It is not degenerative, and so far it seems that his disabilities are minimal with a little extra help.
One thing I want to mention, is that all of the stuff with Ethan felt like little landmarks in my years, so I have spent a lot of time on them. And they did have some effect on me. But I don't want to take away from all of the amazing, joyful things. We love spending time with our families, both extended and our little family. Our lives are filled with wonderful visits with both of our families and trips to see my fam in Nevada. Those times are priceless. Equally priceless are the times with just us and our kids. These are some of our favorite everyday times during the last few years. Playing in the toy room. Our kids think that room is the greatest place in the whole world, and never seem to tire of it. Visiting toy stores. This was fun for us even before we had kids, but now, they LOVE it. We spend a lot of time looking at the toys and books and trying them out. It's nice to see what they respond to, and they are really good about leaving without buying anything. Playing outside: what kid doesn't like that? Our boys particularly LOVE the dirt, and during these early years, were not even against tasting it now and again. Life is mostly joy, with a few hiccups to humble us and help remind us who we rely on. Let's not forget our joyful end to 2008. On december 30th we welcomed our first little girl, Kayleigh. We all loved her from the start! What a wonderful way to ring in the new year!
2009 felt like a golden year for me. Ethan got the help he needed from DDI Vantage, and showed amazing progress. He began to walk, and run, and eventually even jump. That was his favorite. At his preschool class they had the kids "jump" while holding their teachers hands. Ethan was so cute, he would crouch down like he was going to make the biggest jump ever, but couldn't get off the ground. From that day forward he seemed driven somehow to get it. And when he did, he was so proud, he jumped constantly! He still loves to show off his skills. He learned so much from his therapists and his teachers at school. And I learned some things about how to help him too. What a blessing! He talks SO much, and speaks very well. He loves telling stories and even just talking about his day, or telling me all about his toys. And he is my little angel boy. He has the cutest little shy smile, he loves hugs, and wants to be friends with everyone.
Jayden started preschool, and he had SO looked forward to that! He loves his class and everything they do. He has had tons of fun with their field trips and show and tell, and so much more. He also loves his friend Zach and his cousin Kaleb. He started wanting to say his own prayers without help, and would often pray for them, particularly for Zach :) He is mischievious, but I love how he WANTS to be good. As he gets older, he seems to notice more things he can do to be helpful. And he is so sweet. He comes up and gives me hugs and tells me he loves me almost every day. Both of my boys are so affectionate, that is one of my favorite things!
Kayleigh was a joy from the start. She is so determined and that girl knows her mind. I'm sure this will pose many challenges in the future, but for now it delights us. It is amazing how well she can communicate what she wants without even speaking. And for me, buying dresses and attempting to make her hair look cute (note the ATTEMPTING :), is awesome! I love it!
With all of them, I think one of the greatest things about being a mother is seeing their individual personalities. I love learning new things about them, and am amazed at how different each child is. They really are their own little person from the very start. It's like a surprise every day as they grow and handle things differently, it makes every day new for me too. And seeing another person work hard and improve is so inspiring, they amaze me with their good qualities. I have the best kids! :)
There were only two little hiccups I can remember. One was another eye surgery for Ethan. But it ended up being so minor (only one muscle on one eye). And he didn't seem to hardly notice it, except that he didn't want the bandage on. (He managed to rip it off within the first couple hours home.)
The one scary moment was when Ethan had a seizure. It is probably the scariest thing that I have ever witnessed. I think I probably described it in some post last year, but I truly thought he would be taken from us at one point. The ambulance seemed to take forever! Luckily, it passed, they attributed it to a fever, and he has not had another one. That poor kid is always the one isn't he! What an amazing boy he is.
We filled our year with lots of fun and even had a sleep over at the dinosaur museum. All in all it was a great year.
2010 Has started out similarly blessed. We took an awesome trip to california and Nevada. We have been home for a month and a half and Jayden frequently wishes we could go back again soon. :) We both love our church callings, we love our children and the ones we get to work with. Life is an amazing journey.