June 28, 2009

Emergency Procedure

One of my responsibilities at our driving schools is to ensure that our curriculum effectively integrates with students, teachers and technology in the classroom. Being so submerged into driving curriculum (even though now I only teach in the classroom on a substitute basis) has given me an in depth look at many lessons that I'm sure I'd miss if I were just a student learning about it in a portion of a classroom session.

The scariest experience I had with a student was when we were on a two lane highway travelling in a no passing zone at 55 miles per hour (~90 km/hr). An on-coming car decided to ignore the law and pass a couple of vehicles. Um, yeah, that put him right in our lane. Head on. Fairly close to us. Terrible crash potential. Probably fatal.

Calmly, because I can be calm if I must, I took the wheel and guided our vehicle up the shoulder of the highway. Because really, there IS enough room for 3 cars side by side on a 2 lane highway if the drivers are smart about it. I asked my student if she saw the car in front of us. Her response? "Not until you took the wheel." That was the scary thing. She didn't even see him. This recklessly passing vehicle pulled into his lane just in time for us to not have 3 cars side by side and we took the next exit so that we could pull off the road and calm our nerves.

I sincerely believe that Heavenly Father watches over us. That doesn't mean that nothing bad will happen in our lives. But it does mean that if we prepare ourselves then potentially dangerous or frightening emergency procedures can become exciting adventures.

On Friday night, we went to a birthday party for the twins you see in Evan's birthday party post at his grave. My friend Amber was watching the kids on Friday while I was at work, so she brought the kids to work and picked me up for the party.

We got there and all was fun and games until someone crashed on a bike and sliced his head on a rusty nail.

Yeah, that was Jett. Now, we always tell the boys that we don't want to hear them crying unless there's blood. Well, there was blood...not a lot for the injury...but blood and a head wound none the less. We tried to clean it up best we could and then make the bandage in a fashion that would hold the wound together. But in the end the bandage popped off and so we decided to take him to a clinic. The cut doesn't seem so bad here...but the cut is deep and wide open. There was also a puncture wound in the middle of it.

My friend Erin looked up a couple of clinics that we could take Jett to. One was open 24 hours and the other closed at 8pm. It was just after 7pm and the one that closed at 8pm was down the street from some factory outlet stores. We figured if we went in and they glued his head by 8pm then we could go shopping until the stores closed at 9pm and then be home by about 10pm.

I was totally frustrated with the young receptionist who turned us away because they take their last patient at 7pm. What? Are you serious? It's 7:30, you close at 8pm, I have a 2 year old with a bleeding head wound sitting on your counter and you're not going to see us? She knew I was upset and asked, "well, have we seen you here before?" Like if I was already in her system then she could help us. Maybe I should have demanded to see her supervisor or the doctor that was there. I DID ask if she had some glue that I could self administer to my son. His wound wasn't that bad...but I did need supplies that are not readily available to anyone besides doctors. In the end, I figured that I didn't want to make a bigger stink about it than I already had. Jett could have a big scar on his forehead and I'd rather someone treat it that wanted to rather than someone who is in a hurry to get home and would do a lousy job.

So, no outlet mall for us. We headed 14 miles down the freeway to the other clinic. We got there a little before 8 and got out with Jett's head glued back together about 9:30pm.
My friend Amber and her son were with us and that was very helpful so I didn't have all the kids in the treatment room. I've done that before and it was miserable. Here's Jett all glued back together.
And what a fabulous bandaid. It's been on two days now and I just don't want to take it off. Jett has completely forgotten that it's there and doesn't pick at it at all.

On the way home, Amber and I decided to leave my car at work and Tymon and I would get it the next day. So, we were all together and traveling on one of the top 5 deadliest highways in the United States to get home. It's a two lane highway...curvy... rural and dark. About 5-7 miles from home my "check gauges" light came on. Nothing really looked weird to me on the gauges, except the battery one could have been on the low charge side. Remember, last week when we went to take Jovana to the airport the battery had died and so we couldn't all go together? So, it can't be the battery, right? We just put in a new one this week...nope...it's not the battery, but it IS the alternator which charges the battery. I just kept driving...then a few minutes later I asked Amber if it looked like my lights were on or not. So over the next mile or so my headlights fade to nothing. Yes, I'm on one of the deadliest highways in America in the complete dark with no headlights. We were on a long bridge with no shoulder. At least the guy behind me saw it happen and knew I was there. I made it past the bridge and decided not to pull off the road but to get as far as I could.

Then for me, something I'd never really considered happens. It's not just that I don't have lights. I also started losing speed and power. And then the power steering disappeared. The wheel was so stiff. I steered the best I could off the road and onto the shoulder. I called Tymon. While he was on his way, I called for roadside assistance. We made sure all of the boys kept their seat belts on as we had to wait on a dark, blind corner and we were feeling a bit vulnerable. Jokingly, I told Amber if she'd had more faith then her prayer to get home would've worked. Faith is one of the deepest principles in existence. And fortunately or unfortunately, sometimes what we want is not what's best for us nor what we get.

So, instead of feeling like we were full of bad luck, we made the best of our situation. Tymon saw our vehicle as he was passing us. It was so dark outside and the trees hid the sliver of a moon that was out. He expertly maneuvered his car into position to jump start us. It worked and we were on our way in no time. Well, I think we may have gotten half a mile down the road...only this time in a darker blind corner. We did the routine again but it took a bit longer to get the battery charged enough to go. The second jump got us up a hill and down an exit. That's when the car died again...I just coasted down the hill and steered as best as I could through a round-about and off to the side of the road. I didn't think we'd make it that far but we did. This third stop was under street lamps and across the street from a brightly lit car dealership. Much safer.

It's here that the tow truck driver found us and after a failed attempt to jump us again, he towed us down the street to another dealership. And it is here where our truck sits and waits for an alternator. We got home just after midnight.

Ahh, we are so blessed. Jett could have been seriously hurt. Our battery problem could have happened an hour away from home half way up the mountain pass. Amber and I could have been in separate vehicles. I could have been alone. We could have been in a worse place (though not a deadlier highway). Our cell phones could have lost reception. A car could have hit us while we were on the side of the road. Tymon could have not been able to come and get us to a lit place. Instead of panicking and complaining about our string of unfortunate circumstances, we were positive and enthusiastic. We were able to see the good and laugh about our predicament. Graeden and Elliott were ecstatic to be able to ride in a tow truck. We are so happy that all is well and especially that we have two cars that do work so that we can at least get the entire family to church...even if it isn't in the same vehicle. What a great adventure!

June 27, 2009

Tan Lines

In an effort to curb the farmer's tan of a white body and tan arms, Tymon is mowing the lawn without a shirt on. So, we see him out the upstairs window and open it so I can make a cat call. Then Graeden calls out, "Hey Daddy, why are you wearing your belly?"

June 25, 2009

Evan's 2nd Birthday Party

Evan's grave looked fabulous for his first birthday in heaven. I didn't know what to expect out of me (emotion-wise), but I held together just fine. Only a couple cry sessions. Not too bad, really.

We bought a little helium tank and filled enough balloons for our family to each have two. It got a little windy and the strings all twisted together, though. So we had to "cut" them apart using the jagged edge of the car key.

So many friends and family came to celebrate Evan's birthday. There were some people across the way planting at another grave who looked over at us a few times. I'm not sure this many people have gathered at a cemetery before with so many balloons.

Going ...
Evan visited these three boys in the hospital when they were just a day old and he was two weeks old. It's really strange for me to grieve the friendship that these boys would have shared if Evan were here.
My sister-in-law made this cupcake masterpiece. Those are balloons flying off the number 2. It's just perfect.
There is some serious air with this toss.
I am also sending Brett and Erin a happy thank you for coming, participating and capturing the memories for us on film.

June 22, 2009

I'm Okay

So, it's been a good 36 hours since I've cried about Jovana leaving. She left us a voicemail saying that her family picked her up from the airport and then brought her home to a surprise party. So, I'm okay now. She made it home safely and there's no reason to be sad. She's happy.

Losing Jovana is different than losing Evan. While there are many similarities to the losses, they are indeed different. The main one being that Evan hasn't left me any voicemails or written on my wall. I wonder if I'd stop crying for him if that happened. Think of the possibilities...what if our loved ones could text us from beyond the grave??? I love the thought.

June 20, 2009

I Miss You Already

One year ago, I never would have suspected the turn my life would take. One year ago, we'd just finalized the offer on our new home. One year ago, I was the busy mother of 4 boys. One year ago, I attended aerobics classes three times a week while I was pretty pregnant with Jocelyn. One year ago, I didn't know loss.

The start of last Fall brought me a sadness that I never knew existed. A pain to face head on and work through. My Heavenly Father blessed me with two beacons of light in my life. My Jocelyn is truly a sunshine for our family. Our Jovana came to us at precisely the right time and with precisely the right combination of consideration and love that helped keep our family going when there were so many reasons why it should be falling apart. I love these two daughters dearly.

Today, I feel as though I've lost another child. As I write, Jovana is en route to Frankfurt, Germany. I knew I'd miss her, but I didn't think I'd be an emotional mess and she's only been gone 4 hours. I didn't think it would feel like missing my Evan. Every time I think about her the tears start up again.

We cried on the way home from the airport. We listened to a song that I've loved for years. The lyrics are perfect.
Well it's hard to say goodbye and let go. And it's hard to see it end. When the memories we have made may never happen again. But it's harder for time to ever erase, the together times we've shared. So when we're apart remember, all the love we've shared together and for all this love thank the Lord above who showed us the way. That we can be together forever someday.
So here we were, a sorry lot with Graeden's tears streaming down his face and Jett and Elliott whining about missing Jovana and I can barely get a hold of myself to keep the car on the road. We had to stop by Costco on the way home to do a little retail therapy. I bought a Wii Fit.
What's really terrible though is that Lufthansa offered Jovana a 1600 Euro voucher ($2000) to be bumped off her flight and to go home tomorrow and she said no. She'd never heard of airlines doing that before. I tried to set her straight so she'd march right back to that ticket counter and accept the offer. Not that staying ONE more day makes a huge difference to me or her family, BUT that amount of money more than covers the cost of a return flight to Seattle. After I told he she should have accepted, poor Jovana turned into the same stressful mess she was a few weeks ago when the pressures of finishing off the school year successfully and preparing for Nationals were upon her. So I backed down and gave her a hug. She's already going through an emotionally trying time. She didn't need me adding to it. That's a huge amount of money though.
Vidimo se, draga Jovana. I love you forever.

June 16, 2009

Eggplant Face

We had quite a bit of fun at the Science Center in Birmingham tonight.Jovana and Stephanie got interviewed by some of their peers, whose school has its own cable access channel. That was cool.

Except her 15 minutes of fame is going to be on tv in some other part of the country and actually, she's famous now for the machine that can make her an eggplant face.

We also loved this little game. These red things are like little plastic nails. It's simply amazing how scarily accurate these likenesses of us are!


Our Lady of the Valley

I kept calling this school Old Lady of the Valley...I'm not sure why. But that's what came out and because of my mistake the whole team now calls it that. Jovana competed at this school yesterday and today. She was fabulous. In between judging other events, I was able to watch a couple of her rounds. There are some very talented young people here. So talented that I wonder if I'll come across some in the future. Maybe they'll become famous...or politicians. One young man in particular yesterday reminded me of someone who could really make a go at that. His charm oozed and he really worked me and the other judge over. The funny thing is that we knew what he was doing and it was okay. He was genuine in his appreciation of our time. He built a rapport with us in a matter of moments. He used humor and quick wit in his opening lines of the extemporary speech that turned us into his advocates. We both gave this kid our highest marks.

Jovana's area of expertise is in dramatic interp. She really shines as she pulls you into her piece. She was robbed today by not making the semi-finals. I had seen a few good pieces. There were over 300 contestants. Only 60 made the first cut. I judged a first round after the cut. I was so disappointed that Jovana was better than all of them. It's really a crap shoot who gets in. Don't get me wrong, the national champion is sure to have a great piece and put on a great show, but with judges like me, there's no way to know what the judges are looking for.
My name is Bridget. I am a first time judge. I am at the National Competion for
Highschool Speech and Debate. Yup, and who else is like me? A few. Judges don't get a lot of training. Kind of like next to none. And so they all "look" for different things. It's really hard to please a judge when they're all different. And they all have life experiences that affect their opinions. One guy yesterday made me cry. He was talking about Daddy's Little Girl who has cancer as a teenager. I was fine until he talked about the scene in the hospital just after the girl passed away. Um yeah, that's when I lost it. I'm sure he thought he'd done well. I mean my tears were streaming. Only he thinks it was because of his oration....it was actually just bringing back memories for me of my boy in the hospital and not wanting to say goodbye to Evan.
So, Jovana is now out of the tournament. However, I am so HAPPY for her. She qualified to come to the biggest speech tournament in the country and she performed magnificently while here. It's too bad that some of the middle of the road kids were able to advance instead of her. But that's okay. She still came here. Hardly anyone attempts such a feat...and almost no one would do it in a second language.

June 15, 2009

We're In A Movie Set

When Jovana came to our home last year, we asked her about some of the things she'd like to do while in the United States. One of the things she told us she'd like to do is visit one of those churches where black people sing gospel music. Tymon looked up churches in Seattle but couldn't find one. (If you know of one, please let us know.) We had no idea that we'd be able to accommodate her wish until last week. Jovana and I are in Birmingham, Alabama this week for the US National competition for Speech and Debate. Jovana is performing her dramatic interpretation of "Voices of Chernobyl."

We flew out on Saturday morning and nearly everything that could go wrong with the high school team's travel did go wrong. Our flight was cancelled. We weren't re-booked for almost 3 hours and then it took another hour to fly out. We couldn't get a flight into our desired city (Atlanta) because of severe weather and so we went to Nashville. Not all of our luggage got put on the same flight.Our rental cars were double and then triple the original price quote. Tymon (at home) tried to help us book a car, but you have to do that at least an hour in advance online. Um, yeah, so the coach finally got it worked out with the company after the rental car guy saw me going to talk to another company to see what they could do for us. It was after midnight when we began our 3 hour drive to Birmingham. Hellish, really. The girls in my car kept me awake to drive. I really wanted to sleep, though. Bottom line, we got to sleep Sunday morning at 4 am.

Devout as we are, Jovana and I got up at 8am and were out of the motel by 8:30 and on our way to the Birmingham ward's 9am service. We then planned to go to the 16th Street Baptist Church, which was bombed in 1963 and 4 girls died. We were hoping that since this church was used for meetings in the Civil Rights era that maybe it's be full of gospel singing black people. A great lady at our church confirmed that yes, there are great choirs at the Baptist church and that there was another one called the Hopewell Church that was good, too.
Imagine our delight when we entered here and found a pre-meeting sing along in progress! As we got closer and closer to starting time and the sanctuary began to fill, the atmosphere came more and more animated. We were singing our hearts out and clapping our hands. Jovana commented to me, "It's like we're in a movie set!" They have truly amazing vocals and great song leaders. It really is such a big difference from our church meetings. What I really liked was how responsive the audience was. They were loving it and participating. You could just tell that they were paying attention.

We were pleasantly surprised to see on the program that there would be a guest Reverend give the sermon...it just happened to be Rev. Timothy Woods, Sr from the Hopewell church. How perfect. We were told about two churches and we were going to get a taste of both of them. The sermon was about Joseph and the coat of many colors. It had some great messages and points that I'd never thought of before. The Reverend related them to each of our lives and really pulled us in. I found a YouTube sermon of his on Daniel if you'd like to get a taste for his style.
All in all, we had a great time, even though we were really tired. And though, I won't be changing my congregation, it certainly was nice to visit another church and participate in their style of worship. We can certainly learn from each other.

June 12, 2009


Jovana and 591 of her closest friends walked through the high school graduation ceremony last night. I must say that they did an excellent job reading the names. It was very fast...for 591 names, 591 trips across the stage, 591 diplomas and 591 hand shakes.

Jovana was invited to sit on the stage with the 4 valedictorians. She read the names of all of the exchange students. That is such an honor. And well, let's face it, none of the school officials wanted to take a stab at some of those names, especially Rattanabongkod Kitrattana from Thailand. Jovana did an awesome job and all of the names just flowed.

Where she was sitting, we got a close up view of Jovana for most of the ceremony. It was all she could do to keep from looking at the monitor. Of course, it would have been funny if she'd waved.

In the middle of things, Graeden asked for a dollar so he could go and buy a licorice rope. He worked it out with Tymon to have it taken out of his allowance and got Tymon's last dollar in his wallet.

After Graeden returned from the consession stand we had the following conversation:

Graeden: Licorice was really $3 and not one dollar, Mom.

Me: So how'd you get the licorice.

Graeden: A man gave me two dollars.

Me: That was nice of him. Did you thank him?

Graeden: (aghast) No. He just gave it to me.

Here is Jovana with some of her super talented friends.

Congratulations Jovana! You've graduated high school! I hope your Serbian school officials don't get all of the proper documents and send you back to complete another year with us. I mean, we wish you well with your future studies and hope that you'll come back to Washington and study here. I know a great family you can live with. They'd even let you sleep in the princess room.

June 11, 2009

More Balloons For Evan

From Evan's party:

From Evan's party:

From Maple Valley, WA:

From Snohomish, WA:

Another one from the Grandpa's Pond, UT celebration:

From Arlington, WA:

I am so happy every time I open an email with a new photo to share. You really are sending me the gift of your love and support. Notice the little photo in this last shot. I just found out that our friends from our single days lost a son, too. I really like how they remember him here. Though it helps to know we're not alone, it also saddens me that another family faces immense grief, too.

June 10, 2009

Mourn With Those Who Mourn

Part of the baptismal covenant I made 25 years ago was to be willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life— (Mosiah 18:9). To be honest, I don't think I truly understood mourning until this past year. As I learn, there are some of you who have reached out to me and my family and have been very willing to learn with me. Thank you. Thank you for your love. Thank you for your compassion. Thank you for crying with me. I especially wish to thank those who taught their children about friendship and love for a little boy in heaven. It's not always easy to talk about life and death, especially with little people. Thank you.

Matthew 5:4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

These are the photos I have received so far of those who have been thinking of us today.

From Arizona:

From Vernal, Utah:

From St. George, Utah

From Texas:

From Grandpa's Pond, Utah

From one of my friends:
The kids really were very sensitive to this little event. They expressed how much they would miss McKay if he were gone as well (McKay's birthday is on 6/25). Michael (4 yr. old) said, "I really think I love this little guy", talking about Evan. Thank you for this opportunity, it was really neat for us.
I love you all so much. Thank you for your love and support and especially for teaching your children how to mourn with those who mourn.

Balloons from Belgrade

Just in from Belgrade, Serbia, Jovana's family has sent Evan two balloons from the Church St. Sava. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! We appreciate your love and prayers and for remembering our sweet boy today. We look forward to celebrating Evan's life with more of you as the day moves forward.

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