Friday, April 27, 2018

Today's Exchange

Em: Do you want to see what's in my special box?
Me: Fo sho.

She proceeds to open up a shoe box, and there are multiple dead bugs, including  what I believe to be a cocoon on the top of the box, and some assorted change.

Me: Oh, Em, you probably should keep your money separate from your decomp, maybe put it somewhere different.
Em: cue eyeroll and deliberate blinking  Like where?
Me: How about your pockets?
Em: blink blink You want me to get caterpillar guts in my pockets?
Me: Um, yes.

Ah, Valentines Day. Dawson has forever been girl crazy, always swooning over girls for as long as I can remember, and claiming stake on multiple "girlfriends." The Boyz filled out their valentines after school, and made me laugh by the thought that went into it. Daws saved the Skittle Valentines that said, "Your a super friend." for specific friends and was able to categorize his whole class into the 4 different sayings provided in the box. Lovely.

Tonight, we celebrated Valentines with a steak dinner and some family togetherness. Dawson worked on a homemade, very special and intricate valentine for Eliza. She is the girl we have been hearing the most about, she is the sheriff's daughter (obviously won't work, due to my long criminal history), and she is an older woman....4th grader.

She just recently moved in a few blocks up the street, and now rides the Boyz bus. Apparently Dawson greets her each morning by saying, "Hey, Hottie." to which she replies, " S'Up." Except for today, when she said, "Hey Hottie." and he just said, "Uh." cause it caught him off guard. It sure sounds like love.

This afternoon, when Daws asked if he could make her a special Valentine, I said sure, but it was time to drop the Fiddy Cent act, and Dave said he couldn't say "I love you." or "I want to marry you." He was a little lost at what to write, but then pulled out a beautiful card from the heart.
 Dear Eliza, Will you be my Valentine? I really like the way you are nice to everybody and I love that you are always smiling. Love, Dawson.

He decorated it and was very proud of it.

Over dinner we were enjoying some delightful conversation when Dawson admitted that Dylan had actually spotted Eliza first and was the first to love her. This really surprised me because Dyl makes choking/vomiting noises when Daws spews his love talk, and gets really, really mad if Dawson teases him about liking a girl. But Dyl just agreed and kept on chewing his steak. Then, Dawson nonchalantly informed us that he had to trade Dyl for, Hayden and Claricee, two 2nd Graders for the rights to Eliza.
I was laughing so hard, but Dyl just kept chewing and agreeing, as if the trading and bartering for women was a regular conversation at our dinner table.

Dyl finally spoke up and confessed that he still thought she was cute, but he was happy with their trade. Dave reminded him that Hayden was actually related, but Dyl was back to his dinner, and Dawson was rambling about his 27 girl friends, but Eliza is the very top of the list. We live in a small enough town, I hope this doesn't become a pattern when they get older.
Mark had posed the question- Why do we do this?

I was practically raised by my grandmother, and then became her primary caregiver after a stroke a couple of years ago. She was on Hospice for a short while, and although we didn't have a particularly grand experience or connection with the company providing the care. The experience of her death changed me dramatically, and gave me the desire to help others have something to hold on to that was positive and special.

I wrote this post on my own blog not long after her death, but long before I had worked through my grief enough, to be in a position to be able to help others. This was written just before Christmas two years ago.

I went to the cemetery today for the first time since Gram's funeral. I am not really the kind of person that thinks that the deceased hang out in the cemetery. After my Gramps died, I made several trips a month with Gram, to make sure his grave site was taken care of. I would always pause and think of him. Not like an image of him hovering over the headstone, delighted that I had placed fresh flowers on a slab of concrete with his name; more of a pause to think of his soft hands and twinkly blue eyes, of him teaching me to swear correctly and with emphasis, or the incessant teasing he could provide. Then I would hop back in the car and on to the other several graves that needed tending to.

I have always preferred to think of my deceased loved ones, fishing "southern style" like you see on Swamp People, or haunting people who have scorned them. I never think of them wasting time in the cemetery. Maybe I am too clinical, but I've seen a dead body or two, or seventy-five, and the spirit doesn't seem too linger very long, at least in the ER, they may just be as anxious as I am to get out of there come quitting time. Stop me if this sounds like a Hallmark card.

Gram was a super freak (in the most endearing way) about tending the graves. We always covered multiple family members weekly, and many more who got the treatment on holidays. I remember a year that one of our Lake Powell trips happened over Memorial Day. When I mentioned that we wouldn't be coming home early to decorate the graves, it was devastation, despair, disgust, and a mutterance about pioneers. Basically the Gradma Kuber Ross stages of inflicting guilt.

The thought has entered my mind once or twice, since the funeral, that my Gram is going to expect me to keep her grave up, and she will probably drop in from time to time, just to patrol it. Several times after dropping Emma off at school, I have known that 2 hours would be the perfect amount of time to fly to Heber, drop some flowers, have a melt down, and fly back home, but I just couldn't do it. Part of me is holding on to the idea that she is still at home, waiting for me to have a day off so we could get our maximum allotments of coupons at Walgreens, decorate graves, split an Arby's sandwhich, and say horrible things about the neighbor across the street that complimented Gram on her new teeth .(some people have no tact, and this perfectly innocent lady just drives my Gram nuts)

What I wouldn't give for one more day to hang with her.

The last day of her life, my Mom called about noon and said that Gram wasn't responding. Having just spent the night there, I thought my mom was being dramatic, but I was instantly filled with dread, AND hope, that this could be the day she was free. As we loaded up the Hoodlums, and headed to Heber, everything seemed so surreal. It was a beautiful day, and as I entered Gram's bedroom it was very obvious that her death was imminent.

We spent the afternoon at Gram's bedside, neighbors and family members filing about the room, staying just a few minutes to share a story about Gram. I watched the blinds above her head move with the wind and felt so comforted by the sound of the aluminum tinking against the window frame, a noise that I had long listened to as a child sleeping in the room across the hall. I looked out the window that she had added specially to their house, when my parents built theirs next door, in order to be able to see what we were at all times. I thought of all those times in my life that she had kept track of me. When my parents were out of town, and she didn't recognize the car in the driveway, I got a call. When I was out playing basketball in the driveway, she hollered "Nice shot" from the window. When Dave and I were renting the basement as newlyweds, she would watch for our cars to pull in and then give us a call to come and get some food.

Watching her now tiny frame in the bed, I was moved to remember the many times I spent next to her there. From my childhood naps, snuggled tightly between my grandparents, my legs between my Gramp's shins, and my back pressed tight against my Gram, a veritable granddaughter sandwich; to my late teenage years, flopped on the bed, whining about whatever mishap was currently affecting me. That same bed became a welcome rest when Dr. Phil became popular, and Gram and I would lay there after a nap and watch him "tell people like it was." She liked him because he was a straight shooter, I liked him, because he got Gram all fired up. When my babies started to come along, we moved the Dr. Phil party out to the living room so they could nap in the drawer she cleared out of the old bureau.

I was so grateful that the Hoodlums got to have Gram in their life, and they were very comfortable with her death as well. All through the afternoon, they would come back into the bedroom, and climb right up on the bed to rub her hand or give her a hug. Emma kept the mood light, by popping in and asking if "Gram was dead yet?" I can't even begin to say how thankful I am for the knowledge I have of what lies beyond this life, and the comfort and excitement I had for her on this last day.

Before we knew it, the neighbors and family were all gone, and it was the last light of day. My Mom and I sat on either side of the bed, hand in hand with Gram. We talked softly until her breathing changed, and then I stroked her face softly and assured her that she could go. In the most incredible moment I have ever experienced, she was gone, and I was forever changed.

Six weeks later I wish for that same feeling everyday. I miss her so much, and didn't realize how much of my time was really spent with her, or thinking/worrying about her. I don't really know what to do with myself. Twice, I have had full blown meltdowns in Smiths, once when a checker asked me where my Gram was that day, and the next time when one offered their condolences.

Most recently, while Dave and I were eating coconut shrimp, I lost it, when out of the blue I remembered spending most of Christmas Eve one year, peeling and deveining shrimp, for our annual Fondue night with Gram and Gramps. I was pregnant at the time, and became so disenchanted with the shrimp process, I couldn't eat a one, by the time the party rolled around. They have spent Christmas in our home for the last 8 years, and I can't even imagine what this year will be like without them.

I thought that our roles had reversed in the last several months, and that I was taking care of her, but clearly I see now that she has always taken care of me. Looking at her grave today, it was a mess, just like me. There is still no grass where she is laid, the headstone is not settled, and there are no beautiful flowers to honor such an amazing couple. She would never had stood for such neglect, or let me wallow this long, for something that is really actually wonderful.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wednesday in Vegas

Hope and Jordan arrive! Welcome Cat Hoarders Convention!

We can all still fit in one elevator. It's not comfortable and sometimes it's torture, but thats family right?

Auntie Hope and Shanna Hannah stealing Maddy time.

Proud Parents

My dad brought a special book for the boys to read to us. He wanted to do a devotional on it, because the book had such a special theme.

The boys and my Dad took turns reading from it, basically they just took over for the other, when the laughter became to much.

Uncle R doing "activities" with Em.

And it wouldn't be a Vegas trip without a trip to the Mini Golf in the Dark.

Finally some privacy for a make-out.

I believe my Dad set this one up.

Dawson's hole-in-one.

The kids thought they would hide my dad's hat and sunglasses..

We have such a fun time together.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


What do you do in Vegas in August. Holy hot, you live in the pool!

My dad and I are very similair in a lot of ways. For example, if we aren't invited to be in a picture, we might as well ruin it.

Thank goodness for grandparents and stamina. Kids can swim all day long.

Uh huh. He didn't get invited into the picture.

This little fish loves the water, and is a pretty dang good swimmer. Fearless for sure.

Love him.

Girls and dads, pretty awesome.

What sign right behind us that says, 'No food or drink'?

Nana! Doesn't love the water, but absolutely adores the Hoodlums.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Vegas-Day One

Our annual Daybell family vacay! Vegas is the perfect spot for us to all converge, and this year we had a sweet little baby to love on. Jeff and Mall had their first baby, Maddy, and she is such a doll!

Dawson took right to Maddy, so I had to make due with holding baby Dyl.

The kids are so happy to be reunited with Grannpa Ranny. He encourages them to be as naughty as they want when he is around. 

This is Uncle Tony being led through the casino. When we first got to the hotel, my dad told the kids not to call him grandpa around people, especially hot babes.  He was "Uncle Tony." Well, we were sitting in the hot tub with lots of strangers when Dawson said really loud, "Hey Uncle Tony, tell us again about the time you saved all those starving children who were stranded on that burning bus." Without missing a beat, my dad spins a ridiculous tale of lies and grandeur. Dyl then says, "Was that the same time that they gave you that medal?" My dad can tell such stories without even blinking, it is hilarious.
The above picture happened as we were trying to exit a casino after lunch. "Uncle Tony" had been blinded on one of his adventures and Dyl had to lead him out of the building, all while my Dad recounted his heroisms.

I am not sure how Dyl dares to ride Uncle Tony, but I guess he is holding on tight. I absolutely love vacationing and spending time with my family. There really never is a dull moment.

And there is six more days of fun!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Couples Campout

We are really lucky to have such a close knit group of friends. We love to vacation together, and it doesn't even have to be somewhere exotic. We went up to Christmas Meadows for the weekend with the Atkinsons, Roses, Maxfields, and Stapletons. The boys had quite the time playing poker, playing with guns, wilderness golfing, searching for gold and making horrible bodily noises.

The girls......did the same, and loved it.

We had some wicked games of 'Dangling Balls' ( probably not the correct name, but we liked it all the same.)

We should know better than to participate in any kind of competition.

Cody and Shanna

Eric and Jeanina

Cam and Mindy

Tent buddy. Britt and Mark just bought a two room tent. They invited us to bunk with them. It worked out really well until the last night when Dave and Mark had eaten their weight in dried mangos. I had never been woken from a deep sleep by a smell before..yuck.

Wilderness golf.

Morning visitors.

Those of us camping in tents, and not trailers, went for an early morning hike. Not because it was beautiful, or we love nature, basically it was to damn cold and hard on the ground, not to get moving.

A little morning yoga.

Cody had done some research on an old deserted ghost camp or something where he knew we would find gold. We hiked all day and saw a possible witch, but no gold.

We probably didn't find the gold, because the guys got so distracted in their rock throwing contest.

I wish I could post the OTHER pictures from this photo op. This is the only one where the boys were behaving.

Shooting guns

Practicing for the day when I can pop a cap in someone's ass.

And of course, games, games, games, til the wee hours of the morning.
It was a blast.