My Family

"Life will knock you down. You can choose to stand up again."

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Happy Birthday, P!

As you know, birthdays are a pretty BIG deal with this girl! I LOVE birthdays... especially my own! P always spoiled me on my birthday, as you know. Today is P's earthly birthday. He'd be old. Very old.

I've been a bit worried and anxious about this day. I've been a bit emotional in anticipation of what today would bring. I've been more guarded and had a pep talk with myself this morning: "Keep your shiz together, Heidi Ray. Keep your shiz together, Heidi Ray." Monte came in this morning and asked me how I was. Probably don't do that!

Mr. Watkins came in right at 8 and told me to go get in his truck. He and Beyta and I went and got breakfast burritos from Heaven. For real! I don't need to need again until like Sunday night!
For lunch, X, KayKay, Abbs, Monte and I went to Farr's. That place holds a very special spot in my heart. Twice a year, P would take me to get ice cream. He'd always get licorice and fire stick. So gross! He'd eat it in two swallows and I'd make fun of him. We sat and laughed and laughed. It was perfect!

I love these people I work with. I love that they love him. I love that he loves them. I love that today is a good, good day. I love that we can still celebrate him in ways that make us smile. I love that I still feel him close by on days that are good and days that are hard.

Happy birthday, P! I hope you, Sarah, Lane, and Diana are having a Heavenly party with ice cream!!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Counting Down

Randy's girl and her husband have been in China teaching kiddos English. I have been able to see a couple of the videos that she has sent to her dad of the love that those babes have for she and Colton (her husband). They light up when they see her! Randy cannot wait to have them home. I have a little countdown on my office calendar. I am super excited to meet them. I was able to meet Colton's dad and siblings one night while we were out at a business dinner. They were the nicest, most genuine people! Less than two weeks and Kenz and Colton will be back home!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Single Mom Gig - Lessons Learning

Miss Sarah always says that all of us are still on training wheels... and we always will be. It's so true, but I like to think that I can be riding a two-wheeler with no hands by this afternoon. It's pretty much setting myself up for disappointment. I love lessons. I am beginning to be more open to lessons. I hope I can articulate some of those today in a way that really illustrates my feelings accurately.

As a single parent, I think that (at least for me) I feel like I need to be on two-wheels, riding without hands, right now because I'm all my kids have. I'm it. The buck starts and stops with me. If I don't have my crap together, then what will happen to my babes? I feel like it's all MY job. I feel like it's all MY responsibility and if I don't do it right the first time, we are all doomed. I have rarely been open to having other people tell me how I should do it different or better because in my heart, that's always actually meant that they are judging me and feel that I'm awful in every possible way. This is obviously just my perception and probably an inaccurate assumption. Nonetheless, it's been my thinking for 18 years.

So, opening my heart and my mind to people who love me and who love my kids and being willing to learn from their words and their actions has been a big step for me. And I have noticed that it's relieved some pressure and allowed me to take a deep breath. It's been freeing and loving and so important.

Some of the things I am going to say in this post are unimaginably personal. As I have thought about them, I have reminded myself that this is my journal. It's public. But, it's my journal. I ask that you be respectful of my children. This is not THEIR journal. It's mine.

Lessons Learning:
1- Discipline/punishment: I have four teenage boys, People. I don't spank them, although I do butt slap them now and then and shout, "Good Game!" I don't wash their mouths out with soap. But, I do take away privileges. I have never had an issue with them being late (probably because for every minute they are late is one hour grounded). But, they would be grounded. The three oldest are dealt with mostly by communication, by talking, by explaining, by telling them to "check themself before they wreck themself." Colton, however, is different. He functions at an age much younger than his physical age. A couple of weeks ago, there was an issue at school. It was brought to my attention via email. The email made it sound like it was horrible. So, I told them I would punish him at home for the actions. I spoke to Randy about it as he was asking how the boys' days were. He asked me to take a breath, clarify through email what happened, etc., then talk to Colton PRIOR to laying out punishment. Mind you, NO ONE tells me how to handle my children. But, I listened. It turned out that the teacher had a rough day and explained that Colton was struggling with the week since it was a short week and school and he was getting restless with the change of schedule. Had I not listened, I would have punished him for something that simply needed to be talked about.

Sunday, we were over at Randy's house. Colton got very frustrated with a game and threw a controller and yelled. I quickly stood up, grabbed his arm and dragged him up the stairs. He weighs twice as much as I do. I sat him on the guest room bed, told him that his behavior was unacceptable. I told him he would be in time out for 10 minutes then I left. As I was leaving, he asked how long then yelled, "RANDY!!!" I went in to the kitchen to talk to Jackson. I could hear conversation going on down the hall, but ignored it. Randy came out and quietly asked me what the purpose of the time out was. I told him that he was being punished and that he needed time to cool off. He asked me if it would be okay if he tried a different process. I wanted to tell him, "Hell no, it's not okay!!" But, I didn't. I told him I trusted him. I heard more discussion, then I heard Colton go downstairs. I remained in the kitchen. Randy came in later and I asked him what I should know... He said, "Rather than having him sit in a room and in a minute forget why he is in there, why don't we tell him that he needs to be responsible for his actions and put him back in the situation." Colton was great the rest of the night.

2- My Kaydon has a temper. When he's mad, he's MAD. He was MAD on Sunday. He punched Colton in the car on the way to Orem. I was livid. We got to the house and he promptly sat in the front room alone. I went in and told Randy that Kaydon was not a happy camper. I told him that we should just let him be. Then, I went in (totally against what I had just said) and told Kaydon we'd be eating then playing poker. At that point, Kaydon said (loudly), "I am NOT playing poker!" Okidoki. From that point on as I made the salad, Randy would peak in there and ask him what he was playing on his phone, etc. Then, Randy asked him to take a break and set the table. He jumped right up and did it! He didn't talk to either of us, but he did as he was asked. Then, he devoured dinner and then went back in to the front room. He was in the front room for 5 minutes, then came in and asked Randy to go play poker with him. That was that. Done. That is not how I would have handled it. Period.

3- Sweet Braxton has had a HARD year or so. Hard. He has been very depressed and has had bouts of feeling suicidal. We have prayed for him and fasted for him. He has been at the doctor weekly. I met with his school counselor yesterday. His grades are very low and he has been dark and down. (Please look at the picture above... that smile!!) He and I have had a few conversations the last couple of weeks where I have began to converse with him and he will stop me and say, "I just want to talk to Randy about this." WTH?!?! Ummm... I'm the mom. Why wouldn't you want to talk to me?? I'm the parent!! People, this is hard stuff for me. It's always been me. Yesterday, when I went to meet with his counselor, he asked me if Randy was coming. I said, "No! I didn't even know you were coming!" Prior to the meeting, Randy called me and he and I talked about objectives for the meeting, so I felt really prepared. But, Brax felt that he needed Randy there, so I got him on speaker phone. From that point forward, Braxton was self-advocating and speaking with confidence about his needs. I sat back and let them do their thing. My mama heart was softened and so thankful. At one point, the counselor mentioned testing for "disabilities." Braxton checked out. Randy (on speaker) said, "Heidi, take me off speaker and let me talk to Braxton." The counselor was still talking... (Awkward!!!) Then he said, "Nevermind. Hey, we don't need to talk about disabilities. The testing would be for data. Brax, nothing to worry about. No disabilities. Just data." That was all B needed. At another point, the counselor asked Braxton if he felt he could communicate with all of this teachers. Braxton was silent for a few seconds. Randy said, "Don't lie, bud." Braxton then expressed some troubles with two teachers and self-advocated for changes. I marveled at the "success" of this meeting. The "success" for me was in the fact that my boy smiled, spoke with passion, and was able to discuss his own needs and goals. After that meeting, the two of them talked on the phone, he hugged me and told me he loved me and went to class. Later that day, he texted me and told me he was thinking about trying out for baseball, but that he wanted to talk to Randy about it. Okay. Okay. It's all okay.

4- Jackson has always been the man of the house. He has always been selfless and has always worried about his brothers and his mama. Sunday, I brought up for the thousandth time that Randy and I wanted a list for Christmas. He just rolled his eyes. Randy jumped in and said, "Bud, what do you need?" Jackson then expressed that this was the hardest thing he had ever done. He was physically sick trying to think of things for himself. By the end of the night, we had three items and a smiling boy.

5- Heavenly Father is aware of us. I say this all the time. He knows us. He knows our needs. He has given each and every one of us the opportunity to be vessels and instruments for Him. He has also allowed us to be on training wheels and to have that be okay. I am learning to be humble and to be allowing. I am learning to allow love and help in to our lives (which is really hard! We don't have a great track record!!) I haven't allowed people in to my boys' lives for this reason. But, here we are. Doing. Believing. Trusting. Allowing.

Monday, December 4, 2017

We Can Light The World In So Many Ways

During Fast and Testimony meeting yesterday, I was especially thankful for one testimony that was born. It was a reminder that the Light The World project is simply suggestions. It is simply a way to remind ourselves to show love to others. It isn't about doing a major project every day, or even on one day. It isn't about spending money. It's about feeling the Spirit and sharing the Spirit.

Friday, the boys and I volunteered to watch the babies so that Brandon and Carrie could go on a date. Win win!!! Saturday, we gave out hot chocolate packets to two neighbors. Sunday, we visited with Papa and Grandma. Papa just had major surgery and is at home recovering slowly. Then we drove to Orem, had dinner and played poker before watching the Christmas Devotional.

It isn't about stressing out about what we are going to do every day. Randy reminded us at dinner that we ought to be lighting the world throughout the year, not just at Christmas and that hopefully we can start good habits this month that will carry throughout the year.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Friday Favorites - Opportunities

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints offers suggestions to everyone (members or not) to shine our own light during the month of December. It is called "Light the World." Our ward passed out papers last Sunday with boxes that had each date in December. Each box includes a scripture which inspires an idea for the day. I decided to incorporate these into our morning family prayers each day. After we pray, we pull the paper out of the Christmas count-down.

Today is the first day and it is about giving what we have. I told the boys that this doesn't mean we spend money. It means we give out positive energy. We smile. We hug. We give out compliments. We open doors. We allow love to come from us all day long.

Here's to hoping for a lot more light this month!

Thursday, November 30, 2017


Braxton took me to Cold Stone last night. Jackson was working. It's pretty much a perfect set up for this mama!

I ate ice cream... and all of the Rocky Mountain Chocolate free samples that were on the counter (It's been a rough week!!!!). Braxton showed me funny videos. We waited for Jackson to get off. Then, off we went. I sat in the back seat snorting while the two of them made me laugh like crazy!

Blessed, blessed mama.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Can't Get Enough!

Brandon and Carried asked if they could drop the boys off to our house on Sunday for a little bit. Ummmm, yup!

I really can't get enough of these babies. They bring so much love. They bring so much joy. Being an auntie is like the greatest thing of all time!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Single Mom Gig - Church-Goin

I remember taking my four minions to church when they were so little. I had a double stroller with Braxton and Kaydon. Colton was in a backpack on my back (obviously). Jackson held on to my pocket or shoe or whatever he could grab on to. I pushed the stroller with one hand and the medical pole with Kaydon's life saving machines on the other. That was how I went every where. I got pretty dang good at it. It was the loading/unloading part that wasn't all that fun.

I remember vividly being in a brand new ward. Everyone was already staring because I looked like the crazy lady with a million kids... even though there were only four, they were all within four years and there were medical machines, etc. I was aware of the stares, but never made eye contact with anyone. I was barely able to keep my eyes open as it was! Well, here we were in a brand new ward. It was during the Sacrament, which usually happens to be the most quiet and reverent part of the meeting. Just then, as I have children everywhere, Kaydon stood up on the bench right next to me and loudly asked, "Mama, what the hell is goin on in here???" At the moment, I decided that if I closed my eyes then no one was actually looking at me because I couldn't see them!

Oh, how church has been an adventure. There were SO MANY Sundays that I just could not muster up the excitement to go to church. I told myself it would be so much freaking easier to stay home and it would be so much better for the congregation to not have the irreverence of us! I had many a conversation with myself about this. Then, one day I decided that I NEEDED church. I needed that three hours every single week to go and to be. I decided that if people were unhappy with us being there, they could just go sit in the foyer. (seriously, my sassy self started to come out) I needed to be there and my babes needed to be there. I was one of those moms who dropped my kiddos off at nursery whether they were crying or happy and literally told the nursery leader that under no circumstances should they come get me!! Luckily, my babes loved nursery and primary...

Today, church looks very different. My boys are all up and ready to go at 10:20. We go, and I sit for a good 30 minutes, watching my babes prepare the Sacrament. I just sit and am. I watch with great humility and pride as I watch these boys do their thing. Normally the two oldest stay on the stand to bless the Sacrament while the two youngest sit to pass it. Sometimes, I am joined by one or two of them during the Sacrament. I absolutely love to hear my boys bless the Sacrament.

Colton is often falling asleep right after the Sacrament is passed. Sometimes I hand him my phone to play Candy Crush. Sometimes my other boys are playing Subway Surfer... bad, I know. But, People. We are there. They are quiet. I am where I need to be and so are they. I have worked so hard on not judging others and their practices during church because I HAVE BEEN THERE. We all have our struggles, so it's nice to buoy each other up!

This past Sunday, a young man played "Consider the Lillies" on his violin. It touched me more than I have been touched in church in a long, long time. At the end of it, the next speaker (a woman I adore) stood. She was silent for a moment, then asked in a whisper, "Do you feel that?" YES! Yes, I feel it!! The Spirit was tangible. That is why I go. That is why I need to be there. I don't always learn about my own testimony from the words that are spoken. I often learn about my testimony and feel it grow when I feel... when I am still... when I hear music... when I serve... when I watch my boys... when I hug... when I can just feel my Savior's love. How grateful am I that, even though it would have been so much easier to stay home for years, I didn't. I didn't stay home. I kept going.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Our Thanksgiving 2017

The boys and I headed to Orem Wednesday night to do some final grocery shopping and have a slumber party. Randy stayed up late with me so that I could make the wheat rolls. They turned out pretty legit! Early Thanksgiving morning, Randy and I got up. He fixed an amazing breakfast while I colored. :) After breakfast, Jackson and Randy made an amazing pasta salad for the festivities. We headed down to Sandy around noon. Randy stopped and bought my mama some flowers. So thoughtful, as always. The food was amazing! I did not take enough pictures, as usual. We played with babies and stuffed our faces. After we ate, Randy and I headed over to his sister, Michelle's, house. His oldest sister, Monique, was also there. It was really great to meet them.

Then, we went and got the boys and headed to my dad's. The house was full of family and friends. We were glad to be able to sit and visit with everyone for a little bit.

It was a happy Thanksgiving. The weather was beautiful. The company was amazing. Everyone had full tummies and safe drives. We are so, so blessed!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Nine Months and Six Months

Last night I went right from work to Brandon and Carrie's to watch the babes. I haven't seen them in over a week and I was super excited to let them know that Auntie is still the favorite!

Asher is just days shy of being nine months old. He has two teeth on the bottom. He is crawling every where and pulls himself up to things. He loves bath time and had both of us soaking wet! He is super ticklish and has the cutest dang laugh. He gets super jealous if Anson is being held and needs to be in on that action! He still does Auntie kisses with me and I just can't get enough of him!

Anson is six months old today. He is the sweetest, happiest baby boy. He is just starting to roll over. He loves his bouncy chair. He gets a bit irritated with his brother now and then. He isn't as excited about bath time as his brother, but they both love being naked! He is more of a cuddler than Asher and I just eat that up! His smile melts me!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Single Mom Gig - Gosh, I'm Thankful!

This has been a great year for my little family.

I have four amazing boys!
We only had one surgery this whole year!
We welcomed Asher and Anson and got to be at the sealing!!
Grandma and Grandpa Nef came for visits and were of course there for ordinations!
Nana is in complete remission from her cancer! She's badass!!
Boys got to spend time with Papa and Grandma!
Boys got to go camping together - the four of them!
Mama is strong and healthy!
P got his angel wings and we continue to learn from him!
Mama has the best job with the best guys!
We got to spend lots of time with Uncle Logan when he came to visit!
We got to spend lots of time with Pops and Nana this year!
Two Patriarchal Blessings!
We have been blessed with Randy in our lives!
We have an amazing ward and the best bishop in the land!
I finished the Book of Mormon, then started it again!
We are so blessed every day with love and strength and faith over fear. We continue to choose joy on this crazy journey because the alternative sucks! I am so thankful that we will be able to spend Thanksgiving with people we love.