Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Say a Little Prayer

This beautiful girl is my friend Brandi.  I met her when my son Drew and her daughter Marin were in kindergarten together. One of the first conversations I had with her was when she asked me if we could ride together to a dinner that a bunch of the school moms were going to.  A lot of them were going to be getting a few drinks afterwards and she wanted to bow out before then.  She knew I was mormon and didn't drink.  She doesn't drink either because she thinks it's stupid but she didn't know everybody well enough yet and didn't want to offend anyone by saying so.   She was hoping I could be her scapegoat for the night.  I laughed and happily agreed.  By the end of that night I knew we would be close friends for years to come.  
Brandi is a smart girl.  She was valedictorian of her high school, and she was also the head cheerleader.  She is a total babe.  She is one of the most dedicated moms I know.  Constantly doing things with her kids. Teaching them and playing with them.  Always trying to instill good morals and values into their hearts.   Her kids are her world, her reason for living.
 Her kids are pretty amazing people too, not surprisingly.  They are both in GATE and all star athletes.  They are polite and kind.  They aren't afraid to stand up for what they think. Wyatt is a smart alec and so funny. Marin is a bit of a tomboy and the most loyal friend.  My Drew spends lots of time with both of them.  Marin and Drew are in 6th grade and Wyatt is in 5th and they are all in the same combo class at school.
 Brandi is a total sucker for her two dogs Tilly and Bruiser.
 I have never met a girl in my life who loves football the way Brandi does. She anxiously awaits the beginning of football season every year.  She knows teams, players and stats, and she can discuss any of them as easily as Taylor Swift can call out each of her ex's.  Brandi could be the president of the Tim Tebow fan club!
 She is the grammar police.  One of her biggest pet peeves is when people don't use the right form of to, two, and too, or there, their, and they're, and your and you're.  Brandi knows her politics and can argue the republicans point of view all day long!
 Brandi loves to get out and have a good time.  She always has a smile on her face and makes friends with anyone around her. 
She had such a great time doing the Mud Run at Folsom lake with me last year, that she signed up for a warrior dash with her family in Michigan later that year.  Almost exactly one year ago today just the two of us drove down to LA and did another mud run together.
Her voice is scratchy just like mine and people often ask us when we are out together if we are sisters.
 While we always laugh and answer no, we have come to feel a bit like family.
 Brandi's entire extended family is in Michigan and lives close to one another.  She is the only one so far away.  She is so close with her sisters and her mom, and being away from them has been the cause of much heartache for her for years.
Right now all of our hearts are aching for her as she lies in the hospital for almost 3 weeks now.  Intubated and sedated into a medically induced coma as her body struggles to fight complications and infections from a surgery she had on December 10th. Since then she has been in and out of the hospital. She has gone home several times and even come and stayed here a few times as well, but kept ending up back in the hospital.  Right now they are trying to keep her temperature and heart rate down  and dealing with abscesses in her stomach.  Next they will bring her out of sedation and work to get her to start breathing on her own again.  She is fighting to recover from the many surgeries she has had in the last couple of weeks.  Her mom has left everything behind and flown out to care for Brandi four separate times since December.  She has no idea when she will be able to go back home.  Her husband Miles has been able to come out and support her for the last week and a half, but the rest of her support system, as well as Brandi's is several states away in Michigan, leaving her family feeling scared and helpless.  
Most of the time when I go to sit with her in the hospital she doesn't even know I'm there.  I sometimes wonder if she'd recognize me in my gown and gloves we are all required to wear in her room.  But  those of us who know her well have a hard time recognizing Brandi right now.  She has lost close to 35 lbs in the last couple of months.  She looks so young and helpless in her hospital bed.  I have not yet been able to sit by her side without tears sliding silently down my cheeks.  It's so hard to see someone usually so vibrant, full of life and opinions, beauty and spunk reduced to the small girl in the bed just waiting for the doctors to figure out exactly what to do to get her back on the path to healing.  It breaks my heart to sit by her side and see this, but it breaks even worse when the visiting hours are over and I know she is in there alone.  
I can only imagine the emotions her mom is going through as she sits by waiting and hoping today will be the day Brandi turns that corner.  Her husband Miles is her rock. They are both lucky to have him.
Brandi has always been the rock for her babies.  Kids she hasn't seen in almost 3 weeks.  Never before have they been separated this long, and never have they gone so long without talking.  This breaks my heart all over again.  
Brandi just spent her 37th birthday in a hospital bed completely unaware of anything going on around her, while all of her loved ones wait and pray for a quick and full recovery. 
Before she went back into the hospital this last time Brandi told me that all of this suffering had taught her some valuable lessons about what is really important.  The way we look, the teams we are on, what other people might think, are not so important when you take a step back and look at the big picture. 
 For her there will be no more holding grudges, no more complaining about the way we look or the bodies we have been given.  Every day tasks like taking a shower, driving a car, cooking a meal, or watching a child's  sporting  event, may seem like trivial things, but when she resumes them, will be daily treasures.  She doesn't want to ever waste the chance to tell the people in her life that she loves them, give of her heart and time, be more gentle with herself, be grateful for what she has, and be quick to forgive others.  
I am anxious for my friend to get better and come home. I am anxious for her to be reunited with her kids.  I am anxious for her family to have the peace of knowing that everything is going to be okay.  She will, but until then, any prayers sent her way would be much appreciated by all of us who love her. 
* Update...I have had so many offers of donations and people asking how they can help that we have set up a fund to assist with  her medical expenses.  If you'd like to donate click here. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

It's Spring...Ready, Break!

Yep we just got back from a super fun vacation, but the kids got out for spring break on Friday, so we thought we'd celebrate with a ski weekend in Tahoe!
The Greenlaw and McCauley families joined us for the fun.  Our season passes at China Peak entitle us to 10 days of skiing at Sierra at Tahoe and the kids were anxious to ski at what Kirsten's kids were calling, "a real resort".
Sierra at Tahoe got just about a foot of snow two days before we came and was followed by a few warm sunshiny days which we were happy to take advantage of.
Brynne is just barely learning to ski using a harness and usually gets pretty tuckered out fairly early on, but she really loves to ski. I was a little anxious about how it would work out with her. 
Jeff took her for the first half of the day and worked with her on the bunny hill while I played with the boys and Greenlaws on the West Bowl.  When the McCauleys got there they had Peyton in a harness as well and Brynne wanted to be with Clara so they were able to all stick together on the 2.5 mile Sugar and Spice green run.  Brynne LOVED it!
We all met up on the top deck for lunch in the sunshine.
There was a group of people with loud clothes and louder personalities dancing to a DJ right behind us.   Check out the sweet photo bomber just behind the railing!
Just beyond this pic of the Greenlaw fam you can see some of the crazy costumes these guys were wearing.  Luckily they were quite friendly and provided us with great lunchtime entertainment. 
As usually happens with Jeff around, he started daring the kids to go up there and dance with the only two chicks that were dancing to the DJ.  Drew and Noah finally took him up on the offer, and then they egged me on to go join them.  They thought I wouldn't, but I did.  Then the party really got started and everyone came out dancing! Corey even brought Aidan out to me and told me to get Aidan grooving.  Why is it always so much fun to just act like an idiot for a few minutes every now and then?  
With the entertainment over, Wes and Aaron were ready to get back out to the slopes.
After I showed the guys a really fun run I had found, Haley and I took the little girls and sent Aaron and Jeff off with the boys.
Corey got some great pictures of my big boys catching some serious air at one of the parks
Garrett's clavicle was supposed to be healed 6 weeks after he broke it.  This ski trip was 2 days before that 6 week mark.  I was nervous about him hurting it again, but it seemed like he was boarding better than he ever has.
I couldn't believe how high he was jumping and he was landing everything. It looked like he wasn't trying anything outside of his comfort zone and eventually I relaxed.
Watching Wes has always scared me as much as impressed me.  He is good on his board.  He flies fast and high.  The day Garrett broke his clavicle I put my foot down and told Wes I was done taking my chances with his head.  He would be getting a helmet and wearing it no matter what.
As I was skiing pretty fast down a run earlier in the day Wes came down and blew past me so fast he was a blur.  Seeing that helmet on his head for the first time made me feel sooo much better.
Brynne had been begging Jeff to let her stop and make a snow angel and he had told her as soon as she was done skiing for the day she could.  I was glad I was with her when she was done because otherwise I would have missed her giggling and darling grin as she made her first ever snow angel.  I have no idea why she had never made one before or why the idea had come to her now, but it was so dang cute!
Everyone skied until the very last moment they could, some sneaking on to the lift at 3:57.  It was a good day and we all wished we could stay for a few more! I had everyone come out to the sign for a group picture , but I was't very clear and the Greenlaw clan ended up at a sign half a mile away, and by the time we figured that out our phones were dead and the McCauley's were gone.  So this was as good as it got for our big group picture!
We went out and did a little shopping before dinner that night.  Here are two cute girls wearing cute new coats we found at one of the shops!
I'm sure our waitress was a little overwhelmed when she saw that the group with the dinner reservation for 18, yes thats right 18, was 2/3 kids!!
But hey at least they were cute kids!
By the time we left Chevy's we were all so full of chips and salsa
some people couldn't even walk out on their own.
And those who could still walk had other issues...  
We were all a bit delirious and totally exhausted
 When we got back to the house we decided delirious was a good state to be in when playing reverse charades and started up a game
Bohns against the Greenlaws
They may have beat us, twice, but I have the best set of blackmail pictures you can imagine! These were the nice ones... This game has provided me with some of the best laughs in the last few months!
The next day after church we laughed at all the teenaged boys so wrapped up in their phones
Brynne begged to stay another few days
We all decided this was something we would definitely be doing again next year!
Such a great way to start off spring break!

Sunday, March 24, 2013


More than a little tired with just a few hours of sleep the night before we boarded our plane at 7:30 Saturday morning.  We texted this picture to the Skinners letting them know that we were soooo not ready in Korea!
We took off right on time, but just 10 minutes into the flight the captain's voice came through the speakers letting us know that one of the planes engines was not working properly.  We would be returning to Honolulu. 
 Eventually we were directed to get off of the plane but to stay in the terminal.
We were all so exhausted but only Garrett found a great window seat to curl up and nap in!
  Every 15 minutes or so someone would come out and make an announcement that they didn't know anything yet, but they would keep us updated.  Then we'd wait a while longer for yet another update that there was still nothing to update.
 After a few hours they announced that they would be giving each passenger $16 to get lunch with. 
 To me this was a clear sign that they didn't plan on us leaving any time soon.  What a waste of a perfectly good Saturday in Hawaii, to spend it sitting inside an airport terminal!
Finally just after 1pm they let us know that a relief plane was being sent from Las Vegas.  They would be arriving to pick us up at 9:15pm.  We promptly picked up our luggage, and then returned to Enterprise for a rental car.  Before 2 o'clock we were back at the Marriott in Ko Olina on our lovely little beach.
 Allegiant air was giving each passenger a credit worth another round trip ticket to Hawaii.  We had just gotten ourselves an extra 8 hours in Hawaii.  The time wasted in the airport wasn't the best and I truly could have used more than 2 hours of sleep, but in the end, I think we came out on top!
Because really, how could anyone be mad when they are stuck in their swimsuit on a beach like this one?
 Or playing in a pool like this one?
And really, reading my book and taking a nap here is definitely not anything to complain about.
 We wandered along our little beach one last time. 
 And enjoyed one last Hawaiian sunset
By the time we were finally back on the plane ready for round two of take of we were finally ready in Korea.  Home was calling.  Brynne asked if we could text this pic to Carie and tell her peace out Hawaii, we are ready in Korea!
 We had originally wanted to stay in Hawaii until Sunday or even Monday, but Allegiant air only flew back into Fresno on Fridays.  After a bit of research, I discovered that we could stay until Saturday if we took a returning flight into Santa Maria, about 3 hours south of Fresno.  I decided an extra day in Hawaii was worth the $90 car rental fee and the 3 hour drive home to Fresno once we had landed.  
 But back then the plan was for us to land in Santa Maria at 3:30 pm on Saturday afternoon.  With the delay that give us the extra 8 hours in Hawaii, we were now landing in Santa Maria at 4:30 am and I was still going on 2 hours of sleep from the night before.  I hadn't slept on the plane because the seats don't recline and Brynne was laying across my lap.
 Needless to say, everyone slept the entire 3 hour drive home.  Well actually, only the people who had also had an entire row to themselves to sleep across on the 4.5 hour flight.  Those guys were exhausted. I was simply delirious.  Perhaps thats why by the time we actually arrived home at 9:30 Sunday morning  I was so overcome with joy at seeing my bed that I couldn't even remember how sad I was that our awesome vacation was actually over.  
Looking back at the whole ordeal, I've got to admit, this is one of the few times that, with all things considered, getting grounded ended up being a good thing!