Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Becoming Brave

"Mom! I wish I was brave like him," Sister exclaimed to me with a big smile and worried eyes.

After dinner Marc and I decided it would be fun to go swimming at the local recreation center as a family.

I don't think I was in a very good mood because as soon as Brother started to state his disdain at the idea of going anywhere, I gave up without a fight and decided, "Whelp... I guess we're not going. Just like we never do. We can't get our kids to go anywhere." ... Yep, I was in a bad mood.

Thank goodness Marc wasn't. After a few minutes of me wandering around in my disgust and disappointment about my life and its circumstances Marc asked, "So are we going swimming?"

I replied with a melancholy, "No."

Sister heard this and exclaimed she wanted to go swimming.

I'm not sure what came over me. Maybe it was the admiration I had for Marc to be strong enough to push for something that was going to start out rough, but possibly be great.

Anyway, I went around packing the kids' things for swimming; towels, swimsuits, etc. and after some bitter exchanges between Brother and I we were all out in the van and on our way to go swim at the rec.

Our local rec center isn't typically busy, so I was really pulling for it being especially sparsely attended on a wintery Tuesday night. When we pulled into the parking lot we ended up searching hard for a parking spot because it was completely packed. Brother noticed this and began to scream and kick the seat say that it was going to be too busy, too crowded and we should go home.

Marc and I calmly reassured him through his ranting as we parked at the park across the street.

The girls were quite excited and anxious to get out of the van and head over to swim, but Brother was holding tight to his seat while screaming in his moose-toned yell that he was, "staying right here!"

I don't remember what it was that finally got him out of the car, but we did get a few looks as we were walking across the street and the parking lot because of our "full-grown" man's behavior. He continued to yell, as we entered the doors of the rec center, but in a slightly more controlled tone so as not to scare the people in the gym too badly.

We made it through the entrance and to the mens locker room where I left Marc and Brother to get ready to swim and I took the girls with me and we got ready ourselves.

The three of us headed to the pool and soon after Marc came to tell me that Brother was in the men's locker room crying and screaming in the corner and he couldn't get him to come to the pool.

I could tell Marc was exasperated and at his wit's end and I was nervous about how on earth I was going to help my anxious, mentally impaired son from outside of the locker room.

I left Marc with the girls to go see what kind of magic I could work to get Brother out of the men's locker room and too the pool with the family.

I stood outside the men's locker room entry way with a towel around my waist, so as not to make too much of a spectacle of myself standing there in my swimsuit, while calling loudly, but lovingly, "[Brother!] [Brother!] [Brother,] come here please!"

There were a few men who came out giving me a confused and creeped-out look and I really couldn't blame them. I could hear Brother whimpering and I was starting to get worried that we wouldn't have success getting him to the pool.

"Is he standing in the corner?" a man asked me when he was coming out.

"Probably," I sheepishly answered.

"Who are you? Do you want me to tell him to come out?"

"I'm his mom."

He walks back in and I hear him speak in a gentle voice, "[Brother], are you [Brother]? [Brother], your mom is calling for you. She is waiting at the door for you and wants you to come out. Do you know how to get to her? You can follow me to where she is."

I have to admit, I was in between being freaked out because I was scared something awful would happen while I wasn't able to be with my son in the men's locker room and the other part of me was almost in grateful tears for this man coming to our aid.

The kind man emerged first, the Brother behind him.

I told the kind man thank you and then gestured to Brother and he grabbed his swimsuit from my hands, handed me his jacket and flailed back into the locker room. I knew this meant that he had decided to swim with us so I rushed back to the pool to get Marc to help him along the rest of the way.

Marc was gone for a few minutes and I started worrying that Brother was still putting up a fight, then I saw Marc come from the men's locker room and Brother was several paces behind him with his hands waving side to side as he quickly walked to the pool where the girls and I were.

One of those moments that I am grateful it all worked out OK.

It was great too because there was, maybe, eight other people in the pool besides the 5 of us.

After the tension of the aforementioned ordeal had worn off we were all having a great time. Even Baby was getting into the water up to her neck! This was amazing because she usually doesn't even get in past her ankles! She was so excited to follow Sister everywhere and do what she was doing that she didn't seem to mind the water this time.

There was one slide there at the pool and Sister was watching a boy who looked much younger than her go down it several times by himself. She seemed thoroughly impressed and kept telling me, "Mom! I wish I was brave like him!"

At Summer Camp Sister would sometimes go down the slides at another pool if someone was with her and even then it took quite a bit of coaxing and encouragement.

Marc went up to the top of the slide with her and Sister was brave and went down on her own. Marc came flying down soon after--which made me smile.

When Sister came off the slide she looked around for me and when I caught her eye she began cheering and jumping up and down. She came to me and went quickly past me to go down the slide again. I said, "You're so brave!" and she smiled from ear to ear as she almost-skipped to the slide entrance.

Brother was swimming like a merman in the deeper part of the pool and completely loving it.

Marc went to the lap pool and swam some laps.

After about an hour we needed to get the kids home to bed for school. We followed what we have learned about prepping them for leaving and reminded them of the minutes to go. Leaving the pool and heading to the locker room went off without a tantrum or struggle.

While I was in the locker room with the girls getting dried off and dressed I noticed a woman with Down Syndrome who was curiously watching us. We were taking quite a while to get ourselves dried and situated and I worried that we were standing in front of her locker so I explained to her that we would hurry. She seemed to get shy about me talking to her and she went to hide behind and empty shower curtain. About 5 minutes later I heard a man's voice calling from the women's locker room doorway, "Caroline! Caroline! Caroline? Are you there?" The woman I had startled emerged from behind the curtain to find where the man's voice was coming from and she seemed to be confused as to how to get to him. A lady noticed and asked, "Are you Caroline? I think some one is looking for you at the door. Do you need me to help you get there?"

It was as if I was getting the opportunity to watch what had happened earlier with Brother from the other perspective. It was like watching an after school T.V. special with all the feel goods and lessons to be learned.

Swimming and leaving the recreation center was so successful that if anyone had seen us walking in they would never have guessed we were the same family walking out of it.

I could feel mine and Marc's pride beaming as we exited.

We did it.

We got our family out of the house to do something.

Then we got in the van.

Sister began to say that her tummy was hungry and she needed a hamburger.

We had not come prepared to go out to eat after swimming so we had to tell Sister that this was not going to happen and we had plenty to eat at home.

While she was seemingly turning into a grotesquely angry monster in the back seat as she writhed, screamed, bit herself and scared her siblings half to death it dawned on me: we did so good with preparing to leave, but we forgot that we usually bribe our kids with a fast food run if they go somewhere with us. How could I not have been prepared for this. This was routine. Whether our kids are hungry or not, if we go out as a family we go out to eat. Period.

I quietly acknowledged our mistake to Marc so that he could have the "Aha" moment too and then proceeded on our way home with no fast food stop.

Next time we'll know that fast food must happen or I need to bring along something special to eat on the way home.

Sometimes we learn the hard way.

Being brave is something that seems to come with experience and trial.

I sometimes don't think I like being brave because it seems too hard.

I'll just have to keep trying to become brave and maybe even be OK with just the "becoming" part of the scenario.
Baby was brave when we went to a New Year's Even party and she ventured into their basement

Brother was brave when he went ice skating with his Life Skills class

Baby was brave to take a selfie while using Mom's phone that she had been told not to touch

Baby was brave enough to try the "dinner" Sister made for her

And this picture is just because I love seeing these two sisters be sisters...
Oh, but Marc and I had to brave going into this room until I was brave enough to help Sister clean it up...
trust me, that takes bravery.
Legos and paper are like landmines!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Not married

Baby is talking so much lately!

It's been great!

Just like Sister and Brother, though, there are some things she says that take some contemplation and reflection.

Since she doesn't always know the words to fully explain herself, you get more of a metaphor or symbolic explanation.

Sounds confusing?

Well, it is.

I experienced an especially funny one with her this morning at the end of her morning shower.

She was done so I got her towel to start drying her off, but before I could do so she said, "I marry."

I was confused and she could tell so she started to point to her head and arms while saying, "I marry."

Me, being the sentimental blubber that I am, I almost started to cry because I thought, "oh no! This is it. She's realizing she wants to get married some day. How do I explain this to her that this may not be a possibility? Oh for Pete's sake, what am I freaking out about... she's seven! Seven!"

My mind continued to wander in this ridiculous and frantic thought process when the thought came to me what her towel looked like that we'd been using this week. It's white with a hood...

Oh, she is telling me, "I Mary." She thinks she looks like Mary when she has her towel on after her shower! Oh my goodness!

So I show her that my thought process finally aligned and I said, "Oh, yes, you want to be Mary like in the Nativity."

She beamed with happiness that I had figured out what she meant.

It was so adorable.

She even put it back on after being dried off and dressed and got her baby dolls and put them in the cradle.

I am amazed at how I am able to figure out some of the things our kids say.


It's such a funny world to live in that your child finally speaks, yet you still can't understand them.

I wanted to post about this, but just had to have a picture so I asked Baby while she was riding on her rocking horse if she would put her Mary towel on so I could take a picture of how cute she is. She was NOT happy about this, but for whatever reason, she obliged.

This is her I'm-being-forced-to-act-happy-about-this-situation smile.
I guess that her having the chance to play the baby Jesus for the family Christmas Nativity really stuck with her...

Good times.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Year With Frog and Toad

Most people don't believe me when I tell them I am actually a shy person...


I'm actually shy.

If I'm with my husband and a bunch of people I don't know, I let him do all the socializing and I just follow him around.

True story. If I'm approached I will socialize, but I'm not the one to initiate the meeting unless I feel like the person needs a friend.

Basically, I guess, I am only outgoing when I feel I'm needed, comfortable or accepted.

Filling time during rehearsal

Always great to watch Snail in his big number

Cheesing with new friends 
out with the cast to get a burger
A rehearsal selfie (groupie, I guess)

I realized something about myself while rehearsing for this recent play at the SCERA "A Year with Frog and Toad."

I am so nervous and hesitant to "act" and dance while at rehearsal... it really takes a LOT of self reassurance and I struggle to whole time to feel good about what I am doing.

Then we have the night of dress rehearsal and suddenly I don't hold back anymore! It's like the costume disguises me and I don't worry about people judging me, but I am now excited to be the character I am meant to play and bring smiles to peoples faces.

part of my bird costume

the quote that will forever define my experience in this show

goofing off

the girls


My mole costume

I think that is part of the reason why I am able to be so open on my blog because I'm not having to face "you" as "me." You are seeing my words, my thoughts and everything that I am filtering through my spell check and constant re-reading. I can bring a smile to someone's face by being vulnerable, but not confident.

So when my family and friends come to see me in the plays I'm in it means the world to me to have them support me in something that, surprisingly, isn't easy for me until I hit the stage to perform.

my adventure friends, in-laws, and parents

dear friends and old neighbors

my sister and her family

Me and Millie - my favorite picture from this whole run

A little boy in my ward (he was so star struck I loved it)

my uncle, cousins and their kids

good friends

my cousin and her boyfriend

my mom, cousins and their kids and aunts and uncles

My mom came 3 times!

I made Marc get a picture with the whole cast when he came

good friends

theater friends

ward friends

my butterfly friend

I haven't been able to have all of my kids to the last four plays I've been in. We've been able to get Brother there for a couple of them, but it's always a gamble of how hard it will be to get him there.

We tried to get all three kids there on our preview night and that fell apart even with lots of preparation and encouragement. So I finally settled on just trying to get Brother to come and we had it all arranged for him to go with Marc on a Thursday night when the crowd is always smaller and I prepped him for a full week.

Each time I brought it up he, as usual, fell apart screaming "no!" But, I kept pursuing the situation because experience is that he does go once it comes time if he's been prepped enough. I left for the play call-time Thursday night and announced to everyone that my son was coming that night with Marc. I was so excited!

"I'm sorry. I couldn't get him here" was the text I got about 5 minutes before curtain call.

I am used to not being able to have our kids involved in things we do so I was pretty calm about the disappointment I felt until one of my cast-mates asked me, "Oh, are you OK?"

I started to cry a little.

I just wanted Brother to see me and laugh and be proud of his mom.

I was a little flustered that night and made a few mistakes partly because of my excitement of having my husband there and partly because I was a little sad about not having our son there.

Friday morning I texted Brother's teacher Mrs. G and mentioned to her that we couldn't get him to come last night. She excitedly exclaimed that she and her family were going that night and that Brother could go with them. Knowing how much Brother loves Mrs. G and vice versa, I was excited about this plan.

Friday night Brother came to see my play.

Another little blessing was that my parents came that night too to surprise me, but I heard my mom's laugh and called her out through a text at intermission. She was surprised I recognized her laugh and was excited to hear that Brother was there. My parents ended up sitting by him and Mrs. G and they all had a great time laughing together.

After the show Brother was yelling at the top of his lungs at me and I think it startled people in the lobby. But, I was excited he was there, yelling or not. I even got a "kind of" hug from him.

I loved hearing what he was exclaiming during the play. I didn't hear him personally, but Mrs. G related them all to me like when, I eat cookies in our cookie song he said that I was "being a piggy and taking them all" and when I was a squirrel messing up the leaves he sad, "good job there mommy, you made a mess!"

I was so happy that I was able to make my son smile and laugh while I was on stage.

Getting over my fears and past my insecurities is so worth it when I can make someone I love happy.

Funny to think that just the next morning was when I sprained my ankle.

Brother still talks about the play and how fun it was. I love hearing how proud he is of me... in his own way. He even told Sister that she should go to it. Maybe he'll talk her into it.

I have 3 more days left of the show, I can't believe it's almost over! Thank goodness, at least, I waited until half way through the run to get hurt.

I'm so thankful for the memories, the friendships, and the "me" time, but I'm also thankful that it was one more drop in my bucket toward gaining self confidence.

Photos below are by Mark Philbrick courtesy of SCERA

Opening number - I'm the bird in pink

"Get a Loada Toad" - I'm Mouse

Just before the big number "Cookies!" - (my big speaking part)

me jumping up in the background over my excitement of cookies

Squirrel making a mess of the leaves Frog just raked up

Moles making a snowman


Monday, January 16, 2017

No more twisted legs!

"Mom, we can't have any more twisted and broken legs."

Brother announced that to me this morning as I was hopping/hobbling around the kitchen to get meds for the kids and other things they needed.

I replied, "It's not broken. It's just sprained."

"That's what I said... no more twisted legs!"

Then Avery pipes in, "Ya, mom! Your foot is all swollened! I can't look at it mom. You can't do that again."

Sound advice from my kids.

I wish I could abide by their advice and not get hurt, but I think it's just my lot in life.

I joke a lot that if something is going to happen it will happen to me.

I've been feeling pretty amazing that I haven't had any stitches, injuries or surgeries since last Spring when I finally was given the OK about the broken bone in my foot.

I mean, heck, I've been having fun the last 8 months! (And I am going to warn you that these are not in order because I want to be lazy and just leave them as is, so if you are a chronological guru, just skip the pictures altogether.)

family vacation

family back pack trip

Lots of hiking excursions you'll see throughout

Backpacking with my hubby and friends

Volunteering at the kids' summer camp (this day was a swim day) 

Backpack trip with my son, hubby and friends

rock climbing with the kids

first time paddle boarding this year was on the Provo river! Loved it! But didn't love that I lost Marc's GoPro camera.

rock climbing

nature photography

van life!

Dry tooling!


Trip with the kids to explore and hike

Being in a play at the SCERA

Actually being in the play... and now I am thankful I had the first week of the run uninjured...

I've had a good run.

But, it does make me laugh that I never got injured on any of these adventures, but when we decide to take walk to Bridal Veil Falls on the paved path covered in snow I take a little miss step and "ta da" I have a high ankle sprain.

I'm kinda tough though because I walked on it for 4 hours before finally deciding that "walking it off" wasn't helping so we went to the instacare.

Now, I'm not saying all these adventures went by without a mishap... that would be miraculous... remember... I'm accident prone. I just didn't have anything major happen that made me have to stop being active.

I fell into water, scraped my knees, cut up my hands, almost dropped my husband 20 feet, bumped my head, dropped an ice ax, got my shirt or pant loop hooked on a door handle several times while walking through a doorway, slipped on my own shoelaces, dropped a few things on my head, bumped into walls, tried to go threw closed glass doors and got so scared I fell on the floor... twice.

My kids are always the first to tell me, "Don't do that again, mom."

Of course Sister LOVES telling me, and everyone else, what to do and more often than not she gets her way. She gets her way for 1 of 3 reasons: a) She screams the loudest;  b ) she is NEVER wrong; c) she made us laugh so we give in!

It's especially funny when she is trying to get mad at us, but keeps using the wrong word.

Then there's Baby who has the cutest chipmunk voice that I'm almost to the point that I don't care what she says, I just love hearing it.

Oh Brother! Yep, Brother. He loves me. A lot. I'm thankful for that. He tries to mother me often by telling me what I shouldn't do, but it's even funnier when he tells me what I shouldn't be making him do, "Mom, I am having too much anxiety today. I don't think you should let me go."

Tee hee! I'm thankful for those little things.

And, depending on how my foot does, I may have more advice to give you in a later post.