Sunday, October 30, 2011

October Journey: Part One

We've been to the Frozen North and back again-- AGAIN. We had some wonderful moments, and some traumatic ones, but we made it through them all to come HOME.

This is all too vague, you say? Well, let me sit back and begin the story of our October journey..

(WARNING: I want to retell this part of our journey in its entirety for historical purposes. There are some graphic descriptions and images of an accident below, so please proceed with caution.)

First,we got up early and were on our way by 5:30am. In all of our family travel experiences to date, NEVER have we made it up and out so early. We were euphoric about it, other than the nagging feeling that we had forgotten something. (Turned out to be something very minor, so it all worked out okay.)

The weather was glorious, the traffic was non-existent, and we were feeling like traveling pros. YAY! We only stopped a few times, and made them quick ones. We were cooking!

When calling our friend, A, to let her know where we were, she told us that our usual route was blocked by a landslide, and told us a different way to go; up over Cedar Breaks and down through Brian Head ski resort.

It was BEAUTIFUL! We all got out and peeked over the edge at the majesty and glory of God's earth. There was snow on the ground in patches, and the boys took the opportunity to make and throw snowballs. Even a cute little ground-squirrel got to experience a cold and chilly snowball, thanks to Brennan's great aim.

Driving down the steep switchbacks of the road home was a bit nerve-wracking because the brakes were acridly smoking. Russell downshifted when needed, and coasted as much as he could. Luckily, we made it safely down the mountain and back to the main road.

So, we arrived in our stop-over town at the unheard of time of 3:00 pm. Our dear friends, the "H Family", were as surprised as we were to get there so early, but-- as usual-- they welcomed us with grace and kindness. We were all thrilled that the kids got to play, and we got to actually visit and rest before the next day of full driving. Brilliant!

The Accident

The big boys were lighting firecrackers in the front yard, the little kids were playing in the back yard, Russell and J. were chatting, and I was helping A. make a salad to go with the pizzas. Our friends' large dog was chained on the back porch as a precaution meant to keep the kids from bothering him.

Grayse had been going in and out of the back door repeatedly-- why the frequency, I'm not sure-- and she had just stepped outside once again. As I stood in the kitchen slicing peppers, J. jumped up with a start, his baby still in his arms, and stormed out the back door, with Russell following close behind. I could hear Grayse crying in the background, but I was still working on the salad, with a strange, slow calmness flooding over me. I heard Russell call my name, and I asked "What happened?" placidly. Russell said something about the dog biting Grayse, and J. ran in yelling "Will someone take my baby?" I stepped in and took the crying little guy, all the while feeling this incredible calm.

The baby was getting more and more upset, so I handed him to his big brother, and in came J. and Russell carrying a screaming Grayse. There was crimson blood streaked all over her ivory, pale face.

J., being a doctor, barked instructions, and handed me a clean rag. I remember running it under cool water, and squeezing it out, and carefully daubing her face, trying to see where the blood was coming from without hurting her.

Everything slowed down.

A. started handing me essential oils and tinctures, and I was dropping them on Grayse's tongue in between cleaning her up. I think Russell was standing beside me through all the this-- I'm not sure. A. was saying "This is for shock," and "This is for ..." I don't remember what else.

I think J. went outside to deal with the dog.

Grayse's right nostril was entirely sliced through, and her upper lip had a large puncture wound in the shape of a Mercedes symbol that went all the way through to her gums inside her mouth. I was praying over her, asking for her to be comforted and calm so that we could help her. I asked Russell to give her a priesthood blessing and he gently placed his hand on her head, giving her a blessing of comfort.

I kept talking to Grayse, saying something over and over again. I think it was "It's going to be okay." She kept screaming "But it hurts!" I remember telling the big kids to take the little kids... away.

I will never forget how red the blood was against my little Snow White's torn-through nose. Russell said something about "Our pretty baby's face," and mixed in with my own fears about her scarring, my adrenaline was raging, my head not grasping the reality of what was happening.

Grayse was fighting my attempts to cover her with a blanket-- my Girls' Camp first-aid lessons about shock immediately coming to my mind.

The next thing I knew, J. was telling us about a doctor friend he has that specializes in stitches on the face that he had called and was on his way over right then. Grayse still screamed, refusing to be comforted.

The doctor arrived in an instant, and as he explained that he would be taking us to his office, I remember thinking, "Can this actually be fixed? Can her nose be put back together?" He explained that he had a little 4 year old, too, and that he had fixed her nose when it had been hurt in the same way. (Though not by a dog.) Grayse was slowly calming down, as the doctor distracted her, asking her questions, and explaining that he was going to fix her, and that he had a drawer of toys in his office that he was going to show her.

I asked the big kids to hold down the fort and take care of the other little ones, and we got into our van.

Her upper lip was swelling, and the blood everywhere was clotting and turning brown. I remember cuddling with Grayse as I sat next to her in the back seat, and her calmly leaning over and kissing my lips. I was amazed that she would do that, even though she was in so much pain.

We arrived at the office in a moment. It was now fully dark outside, and we climbed out of the van, and into a large building. As I climbed each step, holding my little one's hand, I kept thinking "Is this real? Is this really happening? Will this moment ever end?"

The doctor was wonderful. He put some swabs of sweet numbing liquid into her mouth to sit for a while, and I filled out the paperwork. Grayse was now lying perfectly still, her eyes closed. When something was said about her being asleep, she promptly insisted that NO, she was NOT asleep, she was simply resting her eyes!

After being numbed a bit, Grayse told us in no uncertain terms that the big chair to sit in was "scary", but then she agreed to be held by her daddy. (Russell held her throughout the entire visit.) She really hated the "pinches" of the numbing shots and told the doctor quite firmly that she didn't want him to do that anymore!

After making sure she was numb, he carefully cleaned her up with a gauze pad and saline solution, wiping all the blood away so the wound was clean. I recall looking at her perfect skin, the tiny white hairs on her face glowing under the light of the doctor's lamp.

J. arrived telling us that he was going to fill the prescription for a powerful antibiotic. He also announced, especially so that Grayse could hear, that the dog was GONE-- that it would be living somewhere else. (We never did ask more about that.) Russell and I felt no anger or blame. We ALL knew it was an accident, that it was no one's fault, that sometimes bad things just happen. That's life!

Grayse was exceptionally brave. I am still in awe of her calm spirit through almost all of the doctor visit. Every time the doctor asked her to close her eyes, she kept them shut tight. She laid calm and still, answering questions when asked, all the time cradled in her daddy's strong arms.

As the last few stitches were being put in her nose, she started to cry again, saying that it hurt. Unfortunately that meant more "pinches" which were very upsetting to her. I clumsily tried my hand at retelling her the story of "Snow White," which helped a little, but not quite as much as we hoped. Finally he was done, and Grayse scolded the doctor with "No more pinches!"

Then came the bandages, which calmed and comforted her. We limped back to our friends' home, reality setting in at last. We all went to bed, Grayse lying in a recliner chair right next to me.

I hardly slept a wink. The adrenaline was still racing through me, my heart pounding. I kept thinking over and over again about how I was going to tell my parents the next morning, giving them plenty of time to calm down and find peace before seeing us arrive. (I didn't want my tender-hearted Daddy to panic, or for Grayse to see anyone's looks of surprise and shock at her appearance.) And everytime Grayse whimpered in her sleep, I woke up to stroke her hair, tell her it was okay, and rock her in her chair.

Finally, the morning came and we hugged our dear friends goodbye. I was very sorry that their children had to say goodbye to a beloved pet, but I was also so grateful for all of the tender mercies God had placed in our path to make the situation as manageable as possible: we were in a doctor's home, he knew exactly who to call to help, we didn't have to wait in an emergency room. We received the right help, at the right time, and in the right place.

The Lord did not keep this bad thing from happening, but He did bless us with help, peace, comfort, love, kindness, and blessings to eventually heal the pain.

I testify that the Atonement of Christ is REAL. He has the power to carry all of our pain, suffering and burdens, as well as our sin. He can calm the raging seas in our hearts and minds, and bring peace to whatever comes our way. I say this in His Holy name, the name of Jesus Christ, AMEN.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Breath of Autumn

October Sky-- Photo taken by Morganne
After a WONDERFUL LDS General Conference early in the month, the heat has (mostly) subsided, the windows have been flung wide, my children are frolicking outside, and we've been planting some things in our Fall garden.

"Spooky" pancakes created and photographed by Bonny
 Autumn here in the desert is like taking a big, deep breath! The breezes are cooler and flocks of birds are returning. It was so lovely to start off the month with a spiritual feast!

Every six months (in April and October), the leadership of the LDS Church hold a BIG conference that they broadcast in LDS meeting houses all over the world, as well as over the Internet. We hear from various Church leaders, especially from the current prophet, and the Twelve Apostles of the Church. As members, we believe that these men are living witnesses and representatives of Christ on the earth-- so we REALLY value and treasure what the Lord inspires them to say to us!

These conferences are held on the first Saturday and Sunday each October and April. We do not attend church on these weekends. Instead, we gather together as a family and listen to the inspiring words prepared for us.

Ronan and Gavin listening for topics on their lists.

Thanks to Cocoa over at Chocolate on My Cranium, we had some great activities to help the kids have a better Conference experience.

Lliam being camera shy.

Dierdre is happy to experience conference!

Lovely Morganne took careful notes.

Bonny was drawing during the talks.

Grayse's chart

Even Mr. Tumnus joined in! (The image on the screen is the current prophet, Thomas S. Monson.)

Brennan and Eryn

In other news, we have a new arrival at our house-- but it's not a baby, or even an animal. It was an AWESOME deal on Craig's List!

$150 from Craig's List. Oh, yeah.
 With our other loveseat, we now have room to seat everyone in our "Celestial Room", where we have family scriptures and prayer. (It makes me just giddy to even think about it!)

We are loving it!
It has been such a wonderful thing for our family! It was a tender mercy that I wasn't even really looking for, but simply had in the back of my mind. It is a small, but happy, testament that Heavenly Father knows and cares about our little needs, as well as our big ones. Our front room finally feels like "The Celestial Room" we've needed!

I think the youngest ones at our house have spent every waking moment they can outside. It makes me smile to see them climbing all over the grapefruit tree in our backyard. I can almost feel the tree smiling, himself.

MacKenna is up the highest, Grayse is hugging Mr. Grapefruit Tree, and Avalon is grinning from ear to ear. (All these outdoor pictures of the little girls were taken by my Dierdre.)

The Three Princesses

MacKenna looking uncharacteristically placid.

Gorgeous Grayse Dawn

 The Amazing Avalon

Silly girl! (Moments before "The Accident.")

Amidst all this playing outside, our little-getting-bigger-every-day Miss Eryn is doing her best to navigate the wild and rough outdoors.

Unfortunately, she had to learn the hard way not to stand behind someone who is swinging...

"Did YOU do this to me?"
 She has yet to slow down simply because of a little scrape under the nose, however. No sir!

The rule is "No feet upon the new couch!" I don't know if Miss Eryn heard about that...

Miss Katie Bell is glad the heat has subsided. Prrrr!

Mr. Tumnus is ready to play anywhere, anytime!

We will continue to soak up the October sunshine and gorgeous weather until we head up to the Frozen North for a wonderful wedding soon. 

We are so excited for Karl and Kenzie! It will be wonderful for Russell and I to attend their sealing in the Idaho Falls temple.

Now is the time for laundry and packing, but more pictures will be coming in the very near future...

HAPPY AUTUMN, to one and all!!!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Sweet, New Little Baby!

Gina, Will, and Sean

My wonderful, beautiful, amazing younger sister, GINA, had a beautiful baby GIRL yesterday. She's a tiny little peanut, weighing only 6 pounds 14oz and measuring only 17 1/2 " long! Awww!

I hear she has dark hair like her daddy, and her daddy's dimple, but her mommy's nose. I dreamed about her all night last night, and wish I could whisk myself away to California this very instant to meet her!!!


Her name is still being decided, but I've seen the list of possibilities, and I know it will be a good one.

Welcome to the world, little angel. Your Auntie Rachel loves you already!!!