Monday, September 22, 2014

Hard Things

All of us go through hard things in life. Some go through more difficult experiences than others and some are placed in situations and have emotions that we can't imagine. Several of our children fit into this last group of people. So many of their most vulnerable years were spent in situations that damaged them emotionally. Have given them burdens to bear and scars to heal.

Today we witnessed a glimmer of the pain that comes with hard things. I only reveal these things so others may learn and become aware of our responsibility to love, nurture and heal as our Savior would. Scott and I were reading in his book when he said something about being slapped in the face. I asked him to explain what happened. His pent up hurt exploded out of his body. He raised his voice, tears flowed, body tensed and he became very animated as he began to tell me the story.

When he was 8 one of the orphanage staff poured him a glass of hot water. It is customary in China to drink hot water no matter the temperature or climate. Scott picked up his glass with his left hand, the hand that trembles a lot and is hard to control. The cup started burning his hand so he tried to put it back down as quickly as he could. In the process his hand shook violently and he spilled the water on the table and floor. The male staff member that had poured his water reacted abusively and slapped him very hard in the face. Why, because he had a special need and accidentally spilled his water. No arm around the shoulder. No, it's ok or no problem. No, I love you anyway. What he got was a hard slap across the face.

I wanted to clarify parts of the story with Scott and help him to continue to open up so he could feel the emotions and get it out. I asked a couple of questions and Scott responded  by telling me "He hit me hard in the face because of my broken hand!" He had tears streaming down his face and was very upset. I took him in my arms and whispered in his ear that I was sorry. I reminded him that we love him. We love him even with his broken hand and unclear speech. We will love him forever and try all we can to try to fix his hand and allow others to understand him when he speaks.

It was a bitter sweet experience for both of us. Scott was strong enough to open up his heart. He finally feels secure enough to know we love him and will continue to love him even if bad things have happened. He allowed the pain to come up and feel those buried feelings. I too felt the pain of my son being so hurt. My heart broke for a child that was mine living so much of his life in an orphanage where the love he felt was limited, the abandonment, the abuse and rejection left deep scars. I also was given a gift. A reminder that my son is home! He is loved! And my Father in Heaven trusts me enough to help him learn of his Savior and seek healing and light. We may have some challenging days ahead as we have reached a new level of trust and healing. I am ready. I will love him even more and increase my prayers on Scott's behalf. I am truly blessed to be his mother.

When I told Scott we were trying to help fix his broken hand Hyrum reached out his hand, turned it over and said "I want to fix my broken hand." Oh, how hard it is to see your children suffer. There is nothing I can do for Hyrum. His broken hand is a burden he will bear all his mortal days and I can do nothing to take it away. But I will teach him he is loved. He is strong and he can do all things that the Lord would ask of him, broken hand or not.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Zip Line

As the saying goes, "The third time is a charm."  This was especially true with our attempts at a successful zip-line in our back yard.  Our nephew Kurt made it happen... 

1st attempt: On Labor day we cemented in a steel pole for our 90 foot zip line.  That bent enough to put slack in the cable as soon as Creed went down it.  We subsequently dug the pole and about 3 bags worth of cement out with it. 

2nd attempt: We then went to a wood post, but the largest I found was a 4x6 at Home Depot.  I wanted an 8x8 or larger, but couldn't find one readily available. The lumber post was much better than the steel, but with the zip line attached 10 feet up the pole, there was still a lot of leverage and it still flexed too much.

3rd attempt: Master Builder, brother-in-law, David, suggested a dead man anchor to add tension in the opposite direction.  Nephew Kurt was here for a couple of days with Kayla and the girls and he had extra time on his hands.  He said he loves I gave him one.  We now have a dead man in our backyard (not Kurt) -a cement filled hole with a rebar loop to which he connected a $15 Harbor Freight come-along to add the necessary opposing tension to the zip line. 

Ready to roll.... or zip...

Professionally engineerig rigging.

A little bonus fun for the first zip line rides.  The kids found this snake under a dump truck in the sand box.  He was obivously laying in there trying to digest his lunch.
The Go Pro view.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

We Love Gysers and It's a Good Thing

That's the number of geysers we have had in our back yard in the last 6 years.
If you remember, it was just this spring that we had our last water pipe break.
Olivia ran it over with the lawn mower.
This time however was not our fault.
Pierce, Hannah and cousin Jacob were preparing to do the Ice Bucket Challenge.
They got out the 50 gallon cooler and Pierce turned the spigot on in the backyard.
He turned the handle and noticed the water felt sluggish.
He couldn't figure out what was wrong.
 A very short moment later a gush of water shot up
and sprayed him right in the face.
Kids came running in the house where I was preparing for dinner and
to have friends come over to watch a movie outside.
The kids were screaming
"There's another geyser!"
My thought was, "Who did it this time?"  And "How embarrassing!"
I knew the firemen came out to take care of situations like this after hours and
I wasn't ready to face that. But I had no choice.
I called the city dispatch, yeah, it should be on speed dial by now, and they
told me to stay away from the water, be in the front yard so the firemen knew where to go,
and keep the kids away. He repeated the instructions several times with emphasis.
I thought, "That is no fun. The water won't hurt anyone."
But I obeyed. Well, for the most part.
I had to keep telling the kids to stay away from the water because
I didn't want to get in trouble when the firemen showed up.
In about 20 minutes a city worker came.
I got a big grin and loudly announced to all the kids to start playing.
I didn't care about a city worker. :)
After inspecting the damage the guy came up to me
and said he would have loved this as a kid.
Free game.
When I first went outside and we couldn't play in the water
 I took advantage of the situation.
I had all the kids pick weeds out of the sandbox so it would look
nice when our company came. Even though
weeding the sandbox was a job two weeks in a row
it doesn't look like it got done very well.
That weed was growing quite a while.
Just the day before a friend was over and the kids made a series
of ditches. The friend wanted to see what would happen
if they filled it with water. Sadly this child
had to leave right as they finished digging.
Just a couple hours later the kids got to witness
the maze fill up. Then it began to overflow.
Margaret, this is what happens when the ditches fill up.

The kids were trying to get more water into the sandbox
so it would completely fill.
That wasn't working so well so we
tried daming up the water going the other direction.
We sat on the ice chest and that helped a little.

Hannah yelled at me and said "Hyrum and Bria are stuck!"
They were really stuck. It took all of Hannah's strength to pull
each one of them out.
The kids dug and splashed and had a great time.
Most of them ended up soaking wet and had to go
in to change. We were expecting company in 30 minutes.
Watching a move outside with wet clothes wouldn't be
very fun. It makes it worse that they were soaked in secondary water
that is from the bottom of a green lake.
I call this water sewer water. It smells so bad.
As the kids were trying to fill the sandbox I walked to the back
and realized that the water was running over the edge in the back.
Yes, the playset needs a good paint job.
We had intentions to do it all summer.
Pierce now has a paying job. Paint the playset before winter.

Cousin Jacob sitting on the ice chest when I realized
we would not be filling up the sandbox.

The kids loved running through the water. It took Clayson
a little bit to get the courage. There was a lot of water.
The geyser had to be spraying between 30-40 feet in the air.

Marshall had the shovel trying to dam up the areas that were allowing
the water to go behind the playset. It was all in vain,
but he had a lot of fun doing it.

Scott was very reluctant to get in the water.
He wouldn't even stand in it.
After watching the kids laugh and play for
about 30 minutes he shyly walked over to the geyser.
I noticed him as he walked up and stood in the water.
He started laughing  and laughing.
He then held his arms out in an expression of pure joy.

About 45 minutes from the time the fun began the city turned the water off.
The kids continued to play for a short time until I informed them
the fun had ended and we needed to get changed for the movie.
Our company came about 45 minutes late, which saved us.
Once the water was off it was clear our hypothesis was correct.
When the city workers fixed the last break in the pipe they
hadn't glued it correctly and with the pressure
the spigot blew off. An accident that created great memories
and family bonding. It was great!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Entry way makeover

This is the first of 3 flooring projects.  The entry first, then the kitchen, then the family room.  We broke out the tile by the door and ripped out the carpet to all the doorways leading from the entry.  Now we can replace all the carpet separately in each room as needed instead of all at once.
Wonderboard first.... I had to do it right, or my brother-in-law the temple builder would have had me tear it all out and start over.

Travertine with a marble inlay around the perimeter.  I think we saved about $2,000 doing this ourselves, but I won't count up the hours I spent doing may not work out to be minumum wage.  At least, I didn't give up many hours from my day job, just a bit of sleep, and those hours are pretty inexpensive.  I only hit 4:00 AM once....  Deanne helped when she could, but most of it was a one-man job.  She felt guilty to go to bed without me so she either stayed up doing stuff or fell asleep on the couch waiting for me.

We have wanted to change our pathetically small chandelier since we moved in 10 years ago, (see the photo on the left)but we knew to replace it with one that fills the space of our entry (see photo on the right) would be very expensive.  Well, we lucked out and found a used one for $300 that does the job quite nicely.  It takes a little getting used to, but it's a huge improvement.  It weighs 90 lbs so it was an adventure getting it up.  I made sure the kids didn't stand under it for the first few hours, but so far so good...

Now on to refinishing the kitchen floor...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Backyard movies

Q: What is better than sleeping out in the backyard? 
A: Watching a movie, then falling asleep in the backyard. 
This is the morning after a movie night. Most of the kids are still in their sleeping bags in this picture.  It's always tempting to turn on the sprinklers to wake them up...

Baseball game

Nothing like a baseball game under the lights!  I took 10 kids to the minor league Salt Lake Bees game a few weeks ago and a few things made it memorable, besides the score...our team got slaughtered 13-2.  First of all, we had my Niece Chloe with us and it was her first baseball game ever.  It was also the first time she found out that I played baseball in my younger days.  I was already her favorite uncle, but that sealed the deal.
Another memorable moment came when I bought $17 worth of cotton candy and passed it down the row for everyone to share.  The lady in back of me said to her husband, loud enough for me to hear,
"That is such a nice man in front of us to buy a treat for everyone in his row." 
I didn't spoil her "moment" and let her believe what she wanted. Besides, it would have sounded awkward to turn around and say, "They are all mine and it was my parental responsibility to overpay for colored sugar so my kids would endulge their father in a few hours of baseball."   

It was also memorable because I learned about the cool selfies my new phone can take. 
The lense shoots both ways!  I'll bet Tyler's fancy camera can't do that!