Saturday, May 28, 2011

All in One Night

Tuesday was quite a night for our family!

It all began after school, when we loaded into the car and made the 45-minute drive to Round Valley High School in Springerville-Eagar for Dylan's baseball game. It was a good game, which the Tigers won 13-12.  (The Tigers is Dylan's team.)  Dylan played right field and made some great plays, as well as making one of the runs.
24 May 2011: Dylan's eye swollen shut after we returned home from the game.

The trouble started during the final inning, when Dylan was pulled out so someone else could play right field.  That's when Dylan and a teammate decided to play catch behind the dugout.  They were too close to each other to be throwing as hard as they were.  Next thing I knew, Dylan was walking across the bleachers toward me with his hand over one eye.  He hardly seemed distressed, so I was shocked when he revealed his eye swollen closed, with a lump the size of a golf ball!
25 May 2011: Dylan's eye began to reopen the next day, but it was turning black and purple.
He has quite a shiner, even today, 4 days later!
Luckily there was a mother from the opposing team who had one of those chemical ice bags, which she kindly donated to us, so we were able to ice Dylan's eye for the ride home.  And what a ride that was!

Here in the White Mountains, we live in elk country.  And during this time of year, elk are bountiful throughout the woods and meadows and alongside the roadways.  Often an entire herd of elk will block the highway, causing motorists to cool their heels while waiting for the herd to get in the mood to move on.
By the time we left Eagar, it was 8:00 and nearly full dark.  As we drove through Apache National Forest and crossed into the White Mountain Apache Reservation, we were watching and hoping to catch a glimpse of some elk along our way. 
Finally, Ed saw a beautiful young cow elk standing by the edge of the highway and began to slow down for a better look.  As he opened his mouth to say, "Look, honey, there's an elk," the skittish creature got spooked and bolted.  Not away from us, no.  She headed straight for the front of our car, thinking she could beat us across the road! 
All I know is, one minute there was darkened empty highway stretching ahead of us, and the next there was this magnificent creature just 5 feet in front of me, leaping in the glare of our headlights!  The elk in the photo above, which I found online, is actually a calf, but her pose is exactly like that of the cow as she leapt in front of our little car.
In a split second I marveled at her size, her beauty, her strength, her agility.  She was so huge I could see her knees above the hood of the car.  Her back was taller than the roof.  The muscles under her smooth brown flanks flexed powerfully.  For the briefest moment I thought, I hoped, she would outmaneuver us.  I braced myself and held my breath. 
She almost made it.  Ed thought he could turn the car to the right and get around behind her, but it was too late.  We clipped her left rear flank and spun her around.  She hit the driver side of the car, then she raced off into the night.
The damages: she smashed the headlight (I saw glass shards and fur flying);
then she spun around and crashed into the fender, tearing off the whole rearview mirror;
she also hit the driver door with enough force to dislodge the window glass,
which now cannot be raised or lowered.  The cost of repair will be over $4,000!
Thank goodness for auto insurance!

We pulled over right away.  In the backseat, Caryl (Ed's 75-year-old mom) and Dylan were both fine, just a bit shaken up.  Ed and I jumped out and began to look for the elk.  We expected to find her lying in or near the road, badly injured. 
A man in a truck behind us also pulled over.  He had a flashlight, so he and Ed searched the highway on both sides for about a mile both east and west of where we hit the elk.  They never found her.  Ed thinks she got over the fence on adrenaline and then went somewhere to die or be eaten by coyotes.  He's sure we at least broke her leg, which would leave her helpless.
I prefer to believe we just banged her up, but left her able to go somewhere safe to nurse her wounds until they heal.  Hopefully she'll be wiser the next time a car passes by!

In retrospect, we realize how lucky we are.  It doesn't happen often, thankfully, but occasionally an unlucky motorist in our area is killed by a run-in with an elk.  If Ed hadn't already seen our elk and started to slow, and then been prepared by seeing her bolt for us, we would have hit her straight on.  She would have come right through the windshield of our tiny car.  At the very least, we would have been seriously injured, and likely killed.  We feel strongly that Heavenly Father sent the Spirit to direct events so that we were all spared that night.  I'm so grateful to be so blessed!
28 May 2011: Dylan shows off a clay target with one perfect hole and the bullet he shot through it.
Ed says that never happens.  The targets are made to shatter on impact!

Meanwhile, Dylan is doing fine.  You can see in the picture above that his black eye is starting to fade.  He and Ed had a good time shooting clay targets this morning out at the cinder pits.

One week before the baseball incident, Dylan put on a great show during the spring concert.  When his orchestra teacher (on cello, above) lost both her bass players, she moved Dylan from cello to bass.  He was really, really good!  His teacher says he's found his true calling, that he made the transition to his new instrument as if he's always been playing it.  As for Dylan, he loves it!
Mary with her first period English class on the next-to-last day of school. 
(7 of 9 students were non-native English speakers this semester!)

As for me, school is out!  What more can I say?  I look forward to a wonderful summer and wish you the same!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Getting Close

The last few days have been a whirlwind of activity!  In fact, I took two days off work to deal with it all.  Yesterday was our last opportunity to prepare for our open house coming up on Saturday night, so we worked like mad to accomplish as many things on our list as possible.  First, the food:

My friend Crystal is helping out with the food, and in fact is making us two sheetcakes, with whipped cream frosting and raspberry filling (mmmm), among other goodies.  When I told her I planned to have bowls of peanut M&Ms (my favorite snack) and bowls of nuts (Ed's favorite snack) at the guest tables, she suggested an M&M theme with each table having a different M&M color.  I loved it!  So yesterday morning, as soon as we completed family scripture study and sent Dylan off to the school bus, I started sorting M&Ms.

Not small bags, no!  These were 42 oz. party bags, six of them!  It took a little over an hour to sort them all, and I'm still not sure we'll have enough to last the entire two hours.  (Those are gallon bags of M&Ms.)

We also boiled 6 dozen eggs and made a gallon-bag full of egg yolk mixture for deviled eggs; Ed sliced up 10 pounds of cheeses for the cheese-and-cracker tray; Sarah and our friend Gwen baked 6 family-sized pans of brownies; and we all stuffed, rolled, toothpicked, sliced, and stowed away 8 pounds of ham and turkey roll-ups (with cream cheese, diced chilies, and green onion fillings).

Meanwhile, in another location, Crystal was busy with several other delish dishes to be served up to our guests tomorrow night!

Gwen and Sarah hard at work on the roll-ups!

And then there were the flowers:
I don't have much experience with arranging flowers, but I have a creative and artistic nature, so I had fun learning on the job!

I tied bows on 10 vases and filled them with flowers to match the colors of the M&Ms: blue, orange, green, yellow, red, and brown. 

And even though I'm not a new bride, I chose my "colors" for the open house: light blue and peach.  I filled vases and made an arrangement (it was still under construction in the above picture; hence the bare spots) to go on the cake table and guest book table.  I'm pretty happy with how they turned out, plus it's good experience for when we make Sarah's wedding bouquets in July!

Our busy day ended at 8:00 last night when we drove here to this Holiday Inn in Phoenix.  As luck would have it, Ed was called to Grand Jury duty today, here in Phoenix.  I dropped him off at the courthouse an hour ago.

It really was good luck, though.  Just a few days before Ed got his jury duty notice, we had made a reservation for this very same day for his mom, Caryl, to fly here from Fort Collins, Colorado, to the Mesa Gateway airport.  As it turned out, the court paid for this nice hotel room and will reimburse our gas mileage, so the timing was right!

I've seen hotel towels made into some cute shapes before, but I'd never seen them arranged as a white shirt and tie before now!

We'll be back home sometime this evening, and then in the morning the real rush will begin to tie up the loose ends and complete every dangling task before we leave for the temple at noon.  Sarah will be going through the temple for her very first time during the 2:00 session.  Then she'll be able to attend Ed's and my sealing, which is very special to me.

For now, I need to end this and get checked out out of the hotel in the next half-hour.  I have a mother-in-law in the air somewhere over Arizona, even as we speak, and she'll soon need picking up!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Our Eternity Begins

It's almost here!  In just six days, Ed and I will celebrate our first anniversary, and we will commemorate it in a most special way.

21 May 2010: Ed and me just minutes after being married by Judge Sipes in the courthouse.

When I blogged about our sudden marriage last year (click here to go to that blog), I concluded with these words:

"One important step still remains: on May 21, 2011, Ed and I intend to be sealed in the Snowflake Temple.  To us, yesterday's wedding was simply to satisfy the law and allow us to be together at this time.  The real cause for celebration will be when we are sealed for all eternity.  That's when we will invite all our family and friends to be there to rejoice with us!"

Well, this is it!  On Saturday, May 21st, Ed and I will have our marriage "sealed" for eternity in the Snowflake Temple.  We joyfully invite each of you to rejoice with us at an open house in Lakeside that same evening as we begin the "forever" phase of our marriage.  If you are unable to join us due to distance, we know you will be with us in heart and spirit, but we'll miss you!

My homemade invitations came out pretty well, don't you agree?

(To read the blog about our whirlwind courtship, click this one to go to that post.)

We hope to see many of you there on Saturday!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

In the Mom-hood

I hope all you ladies out there--all the moms, grandmoms, aunts, sisters, cousins, and friends who have touched the lives of the young people in your world--had a great Mother's Day!

8 May 2011: Ready to open my gift!

My day was wonderful, not because of the attention I received but because I am so privileged to have the sweet title of "Mom."  There is no other calling in this world that can bring greater joy, and I am so humbled and grateful for the gifts of motherhood.

When I was a typically difficult teenager, I remember numerous occasions when my own mother reminded me that I "owed" her better behavior because she brought me into this world.  Not that she was wrong (and my mom loved being a mother), but I feel very differently. 

Quite the contrary.  I am thankful that three of Heavenly Father's precious children chose me to be the one to guide them through their youthful years and love them throughout their lives and into the eternities.  If anything, I feel that I owe them for the sacred blessing of being their mother.  I owe them the best mothering I can manage to provide through the best of times and the worst of times.  I owe them for all the incredible lessons I've learned through this partnership with God that we call Motherhood.

Perhaps our views differed because my mother had her first baby (me) when she was 16, while I had to wait until I was 35 to hold my first child in my arms.  She didn't spend years wondering if Heavenly Father would ever entrust her with the care and keeping of some of His little children.  Those years of longing had a lasting impact on my perspective toward motherhood. 

Despite the difficulties and challenges that accompany the blessings of raising children, I will never see motherhood as less than the greatest privilege of my lifetime.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that I have exceptionally great children!  And I'm not biased at all!

A new figurine for my collection, courtesy of Sarah!

After being spoiled with chocolates and cupcakes at church, I came home to find a gift and a card from my firstborn, Sarah, arranged picturesquely on my bed.  What she wrote inside the card was so sweet that tears rolled down my face.  She added to my Willow Tree collection with a little figurine called "Wisdom."

My amazing husband made me a special dinner of chicken parmesan, while my youngest, Dylan, dimmed the kitchen lights and set the table especially for Mother's Day with glowing candles.  Later I decided to pamper myself with strawberry shortcake made from scratch, which we all enjoyed at bedtime.

3 May 2011- Elder Carter (far right) won a pie for having the cleanest car in their zone!

Our whole family would agree, the highlight of the day was a highly anticipated phone call from our missionary in northern California, my middle child Jacob.  Missionaries are only allowed to call home on Christmas Day and Mother's Day, so it was quite a special occasion.

Dylan invited me to watch a movie with him while we waited for Jacob's call, which was supposed to be around 4:00.  Dylan was so excited to talk to his big brother that he sat with the phone in his hand until the call actually came in, almost an hour late!  We enjoyed a 45-minute phone call, with the portable phone passing from person to person around the room.  I myself "hogged" the phone for 25 of those minutes.  Hey, it was Mother's Day, after all!

3 May 2011: At their zone conference, missionaries whose birthdays will come up
in the next 2 months were honored.  Jacob, whose birthday is on June 26th,
is the second Elder from the right in the lineup.

Mother's Day is a pleasant way to remember the women who most influence our lives, but for me the blessings of motherhood lie in the little day-to-day moments when we see our children becoming the good people God intends them to be.  I felt that joy in talking to my missionary son and hearing the happiness in his voice as he spoke of serving the Lord.  I experienced it during church when I looked over and saw my 21-year-old daughter holding hands with her little brother.  I knew it yesterday when my 13-year-old son helped his step-dad move several rock piles out of the garden plot without being asked.  I soaked it in at Sarah's concert on Saturday night when my baby draped his arm around my neck and rested his head on my shoulder while enjoying Mozart, even though that's considered way uncool to most 13-year-olds.

Ladies, I wish you many, many such moments on Mother's Day and throughout the year!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Into the Wild Blue Yonder

When we went to bed on Friday night, we never dreamed we'd spend most of Saturday at the hospital.

It began with a phone call around 7:45 Saturday morning.  My step-mom, Kathy, was beside herself because an ambulance had taken my 76-year-old dad, Myron, to the hospital.  He'd fallen in the bathroom twice, hitting his head hard front and back, and then had a seizure.  Kathy had called 9-1-1 (overruling his protestations that he was fine), and now he'd been whisked away, but she was unable to follow.  She'd had cataract surgery the previous day and wasn't able to drive yet.

Ed reassured her that we'd be there to pick her up in 15 minutes, and soon we were on our way to our local small-town hospital, where Dad awaited us in his emergency room cubicle. 

The flight nurses strap Dad onto the gurney.
After a chest x-ray, an EKG, a CT scan, and an MRI, the doctors were still puzzled as to what had made Dad pass out.  Everything appeared to be fine, including his blood sugar, blood pressure, and heart.  Dad remembered feeling weak and "light" all over just before he fell, but nothing after that.  Next thing he knew, he was waking up with a swollen, split lip and a very worried wife.

The doctors decided to keep him overnight for observation, so he was admitted and hooked up to all the heart monitoring equipment in his new room.  It's a good thing they did. 

Dad's lunch was brought in around 12:15, so Ed and I drove Kathy home to put in her eyedrops and have some lunch while we went on home to eat.  My sister-in-law Dana stayed behind with Dad.  We'd barely finished our lunch at home when Dana called to let us know Dad had suffered another seizure not long after we left.
Dad mugs with the flight nurses and the floor nurse who dubbed him "Troublemaker."

When we returned, we found a "crash cart" stationed at the foot of Dad's bed.  His nurse popped into the room every few minutes.  She had a needle in her breast pocket, ready to plunge into his heart should it stop beating.  Fortunately, since Dad was already hooked up, this second event had been caught by the monitors.  His heart had stopped for 15 seconds, he'd stopped breathing, and he'd had another seizure before his heart started back up on its own.  Now it became obvious what had made him black out in the bathroom.

Since a 3-second delay in heartbeat is enought to require a pacemaker, it was quite clear what Dad needed next.  However, the cardiologist who did pacemaker surgeries only traveled to our mountain on Mondays and Tuesdays, and doctors were uncertain that Dad's heart could hold on that long.  Even while we were waiting for the flight arrangements to be made, Dad's heart rate dropped as low as 29 beats per minute a few times.  They made the decision to fly him to his cardiologist's location in Gilbert (in the Phoenix metro area).
Dad gets wheeled through the hospital corridors...

The flight was arranged within an hour, and we were able to join Dad as he was wheeled out to the 'copter for his 55-minute flight to a Gilbert Hospital.  Dad proudly told the flight nurses about his grandson (my nephew Jeremy) who flies life-flight helicopters for a different hospital in Gilbert.  There was a lot of teasing going on when the flight nurses discovered that Jeremy works for a rival company.
...and across the parking lot to the landing pad.

When I joked that the flight staff needed to keep Dad's heart rate up during the flight, they quickly told him, "Did we tell you this is the pilot's first flight?  And she's even younger than your grandson!  By the way, the helicopter was just overhauled and this will be a test flight to see if everything is working right."  They were great!
Saying our good-byes before Dad was loaded.  The tiny girl at the left was the pilot.
She really was 4 years younger than Jeremy!

Dad gets squeezed into the tiny cockpit space, but he has a front row seat!

Dad and the pilot, ready to fly into the wild blue yonder!

Dad's last words to his wife, Kathy, were, "Put on your sunglasses."
It was too bright outside for her sensitive, post-surgery vision.

The nurses saddle up and then...

...we have lift-off!

I would have been blown off my feet by the powerful rotors
if Ed hadn't been behind me, holding me up. 

Away he goes, toward the southwest.

Dad was settled into his new room in Gilbert around 4:00 yesterday.  More tests were run.  He had a good night, and today his new pacemaker was installed.  Following his surgery he was surrounded by family all afternoon and is now doing great.  He should be back here at home by tomorrow night.

It's a great ending to what began as a frightening puzzle.  Soon after Dad arrived at the hopsital, Kathy called their bishop, who came to give Dad a priesthood blessing with Ed's help.  In the blessing, Dad was blessed that the doctors would figure out the problem and know how to treat him.  That promise was fulfilled.

If the second event hadn't occurred while Dad was hooked up to the heart monitors, he probably would have been sent home without a pacemaker.  The next time his heart suddenly stopped, he might not have been so lucky.  How grateful we are for a merciful Heavenly Father!