Thursday, May 26, 2011

vacation.

We had planned on visiting the beaches in Florida (this weekend)... but, after all that has happened in the last month. We changed our vacation plans and enjoyed some time in Utah with family after my Grandma's funeral.

It was nice to just relax. We made no plans and didn't tell anyone we would be in town - that way we wouldn't be caught up running around and having to be here for this and there for that. (Sometimes having our families live so close to each other and planning for so much when we are in Utah ends up being more stress than a vacation.) Since this would end up being our "Summer" vacation this year... I really wanted to enjoy it. MAYBE one year we can actually vacation instead of visit family - no offense. We LOVE our family, but it would be nice to use vacation time for us...

(Please hold off on all weddings and funerals for at least a year and a half or so... Thank You!)


We did get to visit with a few friends, spent Mothers Day with our Moms, enjoyed lots of yummy dinners with our families, and enjoyed Spring time in Utah.

It was a nice little break from the last month or so.

JC's favorite part would be when the rental car company asked what we were in Utah for... when he told them we were there for a funeral, they upgraded us to a 2011 4-door Black Jeep Wrangler (his dream car). He was pretty much in Heaven for the duration of our trip.

We spent one of our days with my Mom and JC's sister Kristen and her family enjoying temple square, the Brigham Young house, and the fabulous Lion House restaurant.

We wanted to show Zenock temple square (He's only been there once when he was one) and the Brigham Young house is JC's favorite. I'm not kidding when I say I've been through the house at least 10-12 times since I've been married. I should be the one giving the tour. :)

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(Another family picture for the books... I'm waiting patiently for the day when I can say smile and he will do it with out throwing a fit.)

The flowers were beautiful! I've forgotten how pretty Spring is in Utah. :)


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We were so excited to be able to meet up with JC's grandparents for dinner who were in town for a cousin's baby blessing.

Grandparents and Great Grandparents are sure special people in our lives.

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I got to visit my cute Grandma's house... reminisce and enjoy her surroundings one more time.

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I really tried to slow down the time and just enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

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We have got to get this kid a trampoline... HE could spend hours on it. He came inside each night with black black feet.

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Basketball games are a must with my family.

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I am so jealous of my parents who walk out the back door and get to see this every night.
I sure miss it.


We enjoyed our vacation!

Reality settled back in as soon as we hit the airport... Our plane kept getting delayed. Finally, after sitting in the airport for over 3 hours we were able to get on a different flight out... change planes in Dallas, and then get home. Zenock was pretty excited when we landed in "Alabama."
It was about 11:30 PM and we had started our day around 6 AM. I was READY to be home and about went crazy when my Zenock and Kamden's bag "got lost." We ended up waiting for another hour or so for a plane to come in from Chicago (our original flight). Lucky for us they just hadn't transferred one of our bags and it was on that flight.

It felt so good to sleep in our own beds with ALL our luxuries (power, air conditioning, etc.) in our own home. We didn't wake up until after 10 the next morning! :)

Glad to be home, but sadly life still hasn't slowed down at all...

T-ball games, practice, pre-school graduation, baby showers, planting more flowers (since mine were all ripped out by the storms), etc.

We've also had a few more storms... Just last night after midnight the sirens went off and the wind started blowing. Everything is still too fresh. Even though there wasn't any real threat, I laid shaking in bed for an hour trying to go to sleep...

Maybe, it's time to move. ha :)

All in all, life is great and even though we are busy, I'm trying to take the time to enjoy the simple things in my life.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Grandma Reeder

I got a call the middle of April from my Mom who has been taking care of my Grandma (my Dad's Mom) for the past couple of years. She said my Grandma wasn't doing too well and they figured it would only be a couple of weeks until she would pass away. I had a little breakdown that day... I watched the sweet movie my Cousin's wife made of her life and just cried. I love my Grandma. She has been such a special person in my life. I was lucky to have had the opportunity to grow up next door to her and when I was little spent a little part of every day visiting her and then as often as I could when I got older.

I remember sneaking over to Grandmas to be her special helper. It was always more fun to help Grandma (who paid you in treats and Idle Isle chocolates) than to help Mom. :) One of my earliest memories had to of been when I was sitting on her green stool watching her iron in the basement. The next was when I was 6 and I had been praying SO hard for a baby sister. Every night and day I prayed that my Mom would have a baby girl. I remember my Grandma and I telling my Mom that we were both SO sure that the baby she was going to have would be a girl. I even remember helping my Grandma make a pink blanket for the baby. (We were that sure and yes we were right!)

Part of my breaking moments during the storm came from knowing how soon the time would come when she left this life. I had been calling and checking in with my Mom daily and getting updates. When my phone's battery went out after the storm and there wasn't any way to charge it... or so I thought, I broke down thinking that I might miss the call or not know what would be going on. By that time, my last update was that she was only going to make it a few more days.

Once again, I can't tell you how grateful I am for good friends who let us charge our phones at their house. As I called my Mom Saturday morning to check in with her and ask her the update... she said my Grandma was awake enough and would be able to talk with me.

A few moments I will treasure and cherish for the rest of my life.

I was able to hear her sweet voice one last time and tell her how much she meant to me and how much I loved her.

I will never forget our little conversation...

Our power was turned on Tuesday afternoon, but my excitement was short lived... As I called my Mom to check in Wednesday, she let me know that my Grandma had just passed away.

It was another little breaking moment for me. How grateful I am for my sweet husband and boys who just let me cry for awhile. How grateful I am to know families are forever and for my sweet little Zenock who had just learned about resurrection (from the Easter lesson in Primary), who when we told him Great Grandma had died, responded with, "It's ok Mom... She will be resurrected and be alive again." What a powerful moment for me. I was already so exhausted from the last week... to hear his little testimony completely did me in. My crying didn't stop for pretty much the next week.

---

We found out the funeral would be that weekend May 7th.

We ended up making reservations about eight Wednesday night to fly to Utah and left around 4 am the next day. (I was just beginning to do laundry... I've never gotten laundry done, cut Zenock's hair, baths, bed, and packed so fast in my life!)

We got to Utah Thursday afternoon and surprised our Mom's with some flowers.
(We hadn't told JC's parents/family we were coming... surprise!)

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My Grandma's viewing was Friday night and the funeral Saturday.

It was so good to see so many family, friends, and special people in my Grandma's life. All of her children and grandchildren were there.

My Grandma made the comment this past winter that she was going to wait until the flowers bloomed to die. She did just that...

It is was barely Spring in Utah and the flowers were everywhere. It was a seriously beautiful day!

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Cousins. I have so many fun memories of this group.


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My Dad's siblings with their spouses.

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It was a perfect day to remember and honor my sweet Grandma.

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I wanted to share a few of my favorite memories/stories of my Grandma... for journal purposes.


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This has to be one of my all time favorite pictures. My Grandma and Grandpa on their wedding day. Isn't she beautiful!? I absolutely love her dress as well... my favorite.

One of my favorite stories is from their wedding day. My Grandma was so nervous and was outside in the garden/behind a tree throwing up. My Grandpa showed up behind her with a bouquet of bluebells... My Grandma always talked about how handsome he was. She said seeing him, just made her more nervous and took her breathe away.

My Grandpa served in Italy during WWII. My Grandma was at home with two small children. There are some amazing love letters between these two during that time. The kind of letters movies should be made from. People don't write that way or say those things to each other anymore. Every letter starts out, "My Darling, my darling, sweetheart, darling." Their love was real.

I never knew my Grandpa... he was thrown from a horse and passed away when my Dad was serving his mission.

I can ONLY imagine the reunion between these two in heaven...
I can only hope someone recorded it.

Some other memories of Grandma...

-Playing dress up in my Aunts old formals with my cousin Caroline and having a fashion show for my Grandma. (We did this a lot and loved it!)

-Sleepovers at Grandma's with my cousin Caroline. We would always watch Anne of Green Gables and play "Hide the thimbel or Johnny Lemonade (a charade game.)"

-Chinese checkers

-Her house and the way it smells. My maternity clothes were boxed up after having Zenock when we still lived in my Grandma's basement. When I unboxed them with Kamden -- they all smelled like my Grandma.

-She loved her rose garden and was always out tending to them.

-The "magical" laundry shoot in her house. We always wondered where it went or tried to throw empty toilet paper rolls down the shoot.

-Night games with cousins on her back lawn and then going inside to listen to stories from Grandma.

-Gathering at her house when someone was in town. It was sure to be a party!

-The kid bench in her kitchen.

-Her reaction the first time I highlighted my hair... haha. =)

-Root beer floats and Sunday ice cream socials on her terrace.

-Her love and knowledge of birds... except black birds. She did not like them.

-Shopping days with Grandma in Ogden. We always had to stop at Clifton's dress shop then onto the mall and lunch at the Tiffin room.

-Writing secret anonymous love notes (with my cousin Caroline) and leaving them on her doorstep... along with a flower from her garden.

-Her rocking chair in the kitchen

-Her chocolate cream cookies... yum!

-Idle Isle Chocolates... her favorite.

-Her testimony of her Heavenly Father... she shared it often.

-Her white swing outside... sitting and watching the sunsets every night in the Summer.

-Having her talk about her history or Grandpa.

-Her cheery "Hello" when she would come over for a visit.

-Cleaning her house every Saturday in 7th grade so I could earn money to buy Dr Marten sandals... (So important at that time and she understood.)

-Dinner at Idle Isle for her Birthday... While JC and I lived with her we took her to there for her Birthday every year.

-Memorial day picnics at her brothers house in Logan.

-Pulling out of Kents and seeing her drive by at 50 mph down the road in her BIG red car. (She was keeping up with my Uncle Bob)

-Having her take me to work a few times... (I begged my Dad to take her drivers license away...)

This list could go on and on... I have to stop somewhere.

I read a quote while in Utah... "Childhood has a short shelf life." It is SO true, but so many of my memories come from that short time. (Ok- so I know I'm not very old...)

JC and I were able to live in her basement for a couple of years while he finished up school. I loved the nights that he would work late and I could just go up and sit with her on the bed or in the living room and chat and watch Lawrence Welk. A time I will never forget.

JC and I used to laugh when we would hear her banging pots and pans around 11 or so at night... We knew she was up making a treat. I get my sweet tooth from her.

I loved after Zenock was born and I was home for maternity leave, she would come down every day to visit and to hold Zenock for a few minutes.

She would always sing the same song to him... "Oh What shall we wear, oh what shall we wear, Oh What shall we wear to the ball..." After which she would say, "I don't remember the rest."

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I ache to give her a hug one more time or have her squeeze my hand, but so grateful I was able to tell her that I love her one last time. She has taught and given me so much in my life. Her charity and love of simple pleasures in life are things I want so badly to incorporate into my own. She is such an example of the kind of person I want to be.

At her funeral we (the granddaughters) sang the Primary song, "My Heavenly Father Loves Me." (Whenever I hear the song of a bird...) It was one of my Grandma's favorites... it fits her and who she was so perfectly. The words in the song describe her so well.

My Grandma Reeder was a beautiful amazing woman. She always made me feel so special.
I am so blessed that I get to call her MY Grandma.


(And maybe now I will quit crying. :)




Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Life.

There are times in my life when I feel unbreakable.

I feel strong. I can survive anything. I am happy.

Unfortunately, there are times when I have breakable moments. Moments when I feel like I cannot move forward with life. My heart and body ache from emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion.

I am grateful that at those moments, although I feel like I cannot move forward... LIFE does move forward. It takes you along with it, helping you to move forward. It is a reminder that indeed you can get through those moments. You DO move on. Life moves on. And at some point in time you heal from the ache that you felt at that breakable moment.

You can then look back and realize just how strong you really are... which in turn gives you the confidence to feel truly unbreakable again.

That is until the next breakable moment occurs.


Those of you who know us... who know me are probably very aware of a few breakable moments in our lives the past few weeks. I can honestly say that they have been some of the hardest weeks I have been through. This may take up multiple posts, but they are memories I never want to forget. They have strengthened me... even though at the moment I am absolutely exhausted and still trying to take in all that has happened.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The day and week that followed is still a blurr in my mind. So sorry if this ends up a jumbled mess. It is more for my journal account of things.

Tuesday's weather report warned us of storms coming in... specifically tornadoes. You never really know what will happen or what is in store as far as weather reports go... I end up taking them with a grain of salt.

As JC was getting ready for work Wednesday morning it was raining... (You don't know rain unless you have lived in the South. Southern rain is like someone dumping a bucket over your head... repeatedly for twenty or so minutes or as long as the storm lasts.) The rain/thunder/lightening is so loud it is almost impossible to hear the tornado sirens just down the street.

I've gotten somewhat used to this kind of noise and was trying to sleep through it. JC had the tv in our bedroom on and was listening to the news. He woke me up telling me to get Zenock and Kamden and get in the closet... This was about 6:30 in the morning.

I DID NOT want to drag my kids out of bed that early... we waited it out a bit until the reports said things were all clear. JC left for work a little late. The next round of storms were supposed to come in later that afternoon around 1:30 or so.

I needed to take a few things back to the mall and it seemed to be pretty clear skies that morning, so we got ready and headed out around 10:30. After the mall we went to Target to do some quick shopping. Skies were starting to go grey and I knew I needed to get back home before the "big storms" hit, but I thought I had plenty of time.

I was swiping my card at the check out when the lights started flickering; going on and off. They came on the loud speaker and told everyone to head to the center of the building. A few seconds later they told us to all head towards the bakery area. They ushered us into the meat locker... apparently, the "safest place." My boys and I were all in shorts so we were FREEZING. They offered us water and clean deli white coats to wear and to wrap the kids up in. We ended up staying in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes. Everyone was SO sweet helping with the boys and making sure they were covered up.

At this point in time... I was thinking, "This is kind of exciting. I get to go home and tell JC I rode out the tornado in the Target meat locker... he'll never believe me." I had someone take a picture with my phone... for the memory. I then thought, "That's it... last storm for the day."

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We should've stayed in the locker or at least in the store, but, since I had already checked out... I didn't want to go wander the store, my thoughts were that I needed to get home. It was still pouring (buckets) of rain outside. I waivered for a minute and then decided to just go for it and ran to the car... literally, drenching us all. The wind was blowing like crazy and I had to hang onto the kart and grab it a couple of times as it started to blow away. I threw the kids and bags into the car.

Driving home was an adventure in itself. Kamden was screaming - Zenock was asking a hundred questions, and I could barely see out the window from all the rain. I cranked up the Primary music (the only thing that gets them quiet in the car), said a quick prayer, and tried to get home. The first road was closed... flooded. I turned around. By this time all the street lights are out -it is a VERY busy area of town. I drove down another street to get home and had to drive under telephone poles that were halfway down and ready to fall at any given minute. Huge trees were uprooted all over. I was swerving around them. I pulled into our subdivision and was in shock... fences were blown everywhere, there were outhouses sitting in the middle of lawns that were blown there from 2 blocks away, siding and chunks of shingles had been blown off. It was also garbage day and trash cans and garbage had been blown everywhere. As I pulled onto our street it was just drizzling. Everyone had ventured outside surveying the damage. I was on the phone with JC and was crying seeing all that had happened since I had left that morning. Our neighbors siding was completely ripped off as well as a big tree in the back yard fell through their window.
(Our home spared with only very minor damage.)

Other neighbors had windows that were broke out from the wind. Fences blown down. Shingles had been blown off of roofs in patches. Trees uprooted everywhere. The new construction home behind our house was framed in and ready for brick work... it was completely destroyed. In all honesty, it was something you see in a movie - not something you witness in your own neighborhood.

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(That's part of an outhouse - ripped apart; next to the house)

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(Blue tarps on roofs and fences blown all over are still a very common sight all over town.)

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(The end of one of the tornadoes...)

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From what the neighbors say, the tornado went pretty much over the top of us... not touching down, but creating a microburst of wind. They said you could feel the power and strength of the wind as you were sitting inside... it sent vibrations throughout your home.

I was glad to be home, but also very glad that I was in the meat locker for this one... I may have been freaking out.

JC was on lock down at work as well... They were given a half hour to leave before they were going to be on lock down again due to the next storm system rolling in. He took the chance and was able to get home.

The day didn't end there nor was that the worst of the storm.

Thank goodness for our weather radio... A MUST have living here. The power was out and it was the only thing telling us what was going on. The weather radio siren as well as the tornado sirens outside were going off about every 10-15 minutes for the rest of the day until 8 or so.

The words "Tornado on the ground..." will forever ring in my ears. Especially, when you know exactly where they are talking about.

There were some incredibly scary moments throughout the afternoon.

-Watching the sky turn from a normal rainy cloudy day sky to dark and eery green.
(The sky would do this in Texarkana also... it gives me chills.)
-Watching the lightening/thunder go off every 2 seconds.
IT was SO loud. At one point JC was standing on the front porch watching the sky, Zenock was in the closet, and I was yelling at JC from our bedroom door while holding Kamden, telling JC to get inside. They were saying it was right over us. All of a sudden the loudest rip of lightening I have ever heard crashed. JC and I both jumped. He slammed the door shut and we jumped in the closet. It was terrifying.


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(Hanging out in the closet. They did so well!)

By the end of the day... word of mouth (no power) was already getting around that there were touchdowns within a mile and a half of where we live.

A lot of the national media has focused their attention on Tuscaloosa, because that is where the college is and so many were killed. The tornado that hit there was an F-4.

The Tornado that hit our area (less than two miles away) was determined to be an F-5. It left a six mile stretch and a mile and a half wide path... it went right through homes and subdivisions. There aren't very many videos out there of the one that hit our area. It was hidden by a wall cloud (rain) and came up over the hill.

We went to bed Wednesday night... not sleeping very much... none of us.

Sirens were ringing in our ears all night long, we were waking up at every little sound. Kamden got up 5 times at least. It was the worst night, ever. I hit one of those breaking moments. I hadn't slept at all... I was exhausted. Around 5, I handed Kamden to JC and told him I couldn't do it. I needed to sleep. I then cried myself to sleep.

As we got up Thursday morning... reality was faced. No power meant no hot shower and no hot breakfast... even our cold food wouldn't last very long.

We headed out to drive around a bit and check things out. We didn't get to far... most roads were blocked with uprooted trees or downed power lines. At one point in our drive, what we did see was shocking. My thoughts tried to say it wasn't real and I kept asking when I would wake up... (Another breaking moment for me.)

I looked out over the stretch of land and saw a subdivision that wasn't there anymore. It was in an area where JC and I looked at buying a home. A beautiful area. It was a drive we took many times. It was all gone.

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(Notice the telephone tower... ripped apart and rolled into a ball.)

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(Part of the tornado went right through)

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Being up all night and seeing what had happened, my emotions were so raw and close to the surface. You do not ever plan on this in your life. Even though you are taught to prepare for things like this... You can never be fully prepared. There is nothing you can do when the worst of it hits you.

JC is the elders quorum president in our ward... After we got home he and another elder in the our ward (who had a full tank of gas - gas stations weren't open either) headed out to start checking on people and to see where they could help. They came across many people who just needed a shoulder to cry on or someone to listen to them. Some of them had just lost everything - even family members. One person they talked to found his neighbor lying in the gutter after the storm. Awful, awful stories that just play on you emotionally. You can only take in so much. It is exhausting.

We spent part of the day going from store to store seeing what was open (store were running on generators). We were trying to find propane and a few misc items. There were lines of 100 people or more for propane and when Friday came and a couple of the gas stations opened you had to wait in line for 2 hours or more to buy gas. (People got mean waiting in line.. we are talking threats.)

The power thing was a big deal.

We ended up being without power for SIX days...

Breakfasts and most of our meals were cooked on our grill. We boiled water for the boys baths on the grill. We went to bed when the sun went down. We spent most of our days outside.
IT was a LONG six days.

An estimated 615,000 people were without power. We never would have survived without good friends. They lucked out and (for our benefit) live just off the power grid from where we are... or the next town over.

At our lowest point JC had just gone down to the airport on our last few gallons of gas to see how much tickets were to Utah... $700 ONE way! All though even with the outrageous price gauging... the thought was considered. Our suitcases were packed and in the car. We wanted to leave - even the thought of just heading down to the beaches in Florida for a few days seemed to be an awesome idea. We scrapped both ideas... mainly, the thought of leaving anyone in need. We felt like if we left we would be abandoning them. There were and are many who are still in need. JC had already gone out every morning trying to help with clean up and help with anything that was needed. He was organizing clean ups with the ward and stake. I am so proud of him and the way he handled things. He took charge, went out, and would've helped anyone who needed it. He came home each day telling me the stories of others and who were so thankful for his help.

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(What's left of a gas station.)

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(A piggly wiggly grocery store.)


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(I thought my brick home would keep me safe... apparently not.)

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(The spray paint on the side of homes meant the storm had claimed a life in that home.)

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(Notice the foundations where homes once were. One home JC saw the foundation had been picked up and thrown into the house behind it.)

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(Hanging clothes on the downed power lines...)

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The hardest hit area was inaccessible. They weren't allowing anyone in or near the subdivisions. They were still trying to find people and the subdivisions themselves were so bad you couldn't get to them.

Friday afternoon, we showed up on our friends doorstep completely unannounced... (our cell phones were dead by that point.) They took us in, fed us pancakes (per Zenock's request), and let us just zone out and watch the news. It was the first media news we had caught of what happened. We were stunned to see what had happened not only so close to home, but all over Alabama and other states. Over 300 killed by the storms and even 600 still missing at the last report. The reports say that there were over 270 touchdowns in Alabama alone.

Our friends let us crash at their house for three afternoons... letting us do laundry, give our children baths, feeding us delicious food, etc.

We will forever be in debt to them!
After we felt broken... they literally helped build us back up.
I cannot say "Thank You" enough.

It was a weird feeling being in your home surrounded by all of your "stuff" that you couldn't use anymore. It didn't feel like home... it was just a house and things were just that - things. I know now why people are able to just pick up and leave after something like this.

There were so many valuable lessons I learned. I take so many things for granted - everyday. I was so mad at those that went out and mowed their lawn when others were standing in line for hours to buy gas. When I look back on it, it wasn't that they were being rude... they were just trying to take on and do anything "normal" they could think of at the time. Life moves on and you have to move on too. You can mourn with those that lost, but you have to live your life as well.

I want to say how truly lucky and blessed I feel that nothing more happened to us. I wonder if my Heavenly Father knows that that kind of trial is something I could not handle in my life - at all. I then look at those who did lose out on homes and life and think how much they will grow from this experience. Trials are just a way of washing/polishing us; refining us to be better than who we are at the moment. I know this and am thankful for trials in my life... little or big. I consider this one a big one that I have been able to walk away from. It could have been bigger... I just feel so lucky.

Our power came back on the afternoon of Tuesday May 3rd.

I grabbed my children, laughed, shouted, and did a HAPPY dance.
Pretty sure they thought I was crazy. =)

As JC and I lay in bed that night (after some nice hot showers), we went through the past weeks adventure/trial... The thoughts/emotions just came out of how close we really were and what ifs... The thoughts about how insignificant some things really are in our life. We thought about what really matters and what we need to pay more attention to; our children. We spend a lot of our time concentrating on "things" when it should be more about each other. Something we will not take for granted anymore.

It is true. I'll say it again - I feel very blessed. I am walking away not unbroken, but feeling "almost" unbreakable again. That is to say, I feel stronger than I was before.