My Family

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

Thursday, August 31, 2017

End of Birthday Month

On Monday night, we all went to celebrate Braxton's birthday. At our home when it's your birthday, you get to pick dessert.

This year, Colton wanted the "biggest ice cream ever." Kaydon wanted "diabetes." Jackson wanted a Dairy Queen blizzard. Braxton wanted Baskin Robbins. We kind of REALLY like ice cream at our house!!

This month has now come to an end. Each of my boys is one year older. The first week and a half of school is in the books. The nights are beginning to be get cooler, and darker earlier.

This weekend, we will spend time with Grandma and Grandpa Nef who are coming from California for Braxton and Colton's ordinations on Sunday.

Cheers to another birthday month come and gone!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Six Months and Three Months

Last Saturday, the boys and I went and babysat the boys. It was 11 hours of babysitting them and my boys were there the entire time, helping, changing diapers, feeding, burping, playing, laughing, watching Baby Einstein and loving on babies. They all made their schedules so that they could be there - doing that. I found that to be pretty dang impressive!!

Asher is six months old. He rolls all over the place. He is eating solids and LOVES sweet potatoes. He screams and squeals. He loves to be outside. He loves open-mouthed kisses with Auntie. He loves his bath time. He is the funniest, most spunky, feisty baby ever!

Anson is three months old. He is also rolling over. He loves his sleep! He is so chill, still. He is calm and alert and just the complete opposite of this big brother. Although, he also loves to be outside! He loves his swing. He loves to watch Baby Einstein with his brother.

We love these babies so, so much!!!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Single Mom Life - All Families Look Different

I had the opportunity to have a conversation with a 14 year-old on Sunday. He lives in our complex and came to our door, asking to speak to me. I went out on the porch and he and I had a little chit-chat. This young man, who is a good kid, had been talking poorly about me and Jamari's mama in front of Colton and Jamari. He had been saying that I am a bad mom because I am at work everyday and I must not love my boys because I am at work all the time. "She must not even miss you," he noted to Colton.

It is important here, to remember that Colton's Autistic (and awesome) mind don't have the ability to divide fact from fiction, or truth from garbage, when things like this are said to him. So, in his mind, Mama must not want to be with him or brothers. His mama must not love him like moms who stay home love their kids. In his mind, other kids see that too and that is embarrassing and hurtful. In his mind, if I loved him, I would be home with them when they get home from school. In his mind, this is troubling and so hurtful.

I explained to this 14 year-old boy that I HAVE to work, that I am the support for my family, that while his mom is at home cleaning and taking care of children and cooking and running errands, his dad goes to work to support their family. I explained to him that in my home, there is only one parent. I have to do all of those things by myself. I told him that the fact that I go to work everyday and then come home and do all of the things that his mom has done all day proves that I love my boys more than anything on this planet. Then, I explained to him that all families look different:

This is our family:

Some families have two parents, a mom and a dad. Some families have two parents, a mom and a mom or a dad and a dad. Some families have one mom or have one dad or have grandparents. Some families just have brothers and sisters (like P's family). But, all of these are families.

Then, we talked about Autism. He told me that his parents have told him not to be around Colton because Colton is "special." They don't want him to "catch" what Colton "has." I explained to him that he needs to obey his parents, but that maybe I could educate them on Colton. I told him that we are blessed to learn from Colton every day. I agreed with him that Colton can be challenging, but no more challenging than a kid who talks badly about someone's mother. He told me that at school, he'll tell Colton to "not act a certain way," or to "not say certain things because kids will think he's weird." I told him that first of all, Colton is Colton. We teach him and train him and direct him, but Colton is NOT at a 14 year old level. He is at a seven year old level. Deal with it! Then, I told him that if he feels that he needs to change Colton, then Colton doesn't need him as a friend. Period.

Finally, we discussed "safe places." I told him that "this place" (the complex) is our home, and his home, and the home of everyone who lives in it. For that reason, it is also a safe place. I told him that I will not tolerate him or anyone else coming in to our complex and talking badly about any of us. I told him that when he has friends over at the complex and they begin talking poorly about anyone who lives here, that he should protect his complex and, thus his home.

All families look different. All families have different struggles. Do I wish I was a stay-at-home mom? It was my greatest desire my whole life. Does the fact that I work a lot of hours mean that I love my children any less? Hell no. And this mama bear will come out every single time I hear someone say it. I work my booty off for my boys. All families matter. All families are just as important, and matter just as much.

It's so important for me to teach my kids this message, and to help others understand it as well. We need to educate ourselves on people so that we can be less judgemental, more accepting, and more protective of our families. All of them.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Braxton Turns 16!!

Braxton turns 16 today! He is in Drivers Ed this semester, and so depending on how amazing his grades are, he just might have a driver's license in a few months!

Braxton was THE cutest freaking baby. He was easy-going. He was goofy. He was silly. He was bald. He loved his big brother. He is still goofy and silly. He's got a whole lot of hair now. And he's not so easy-going any more. Braxton is my anxious boy. All of my boys are anxious (weird, considering I'm their mom!), but Braxton is extra anxious. School is very overwhelming to him. He is not my clean child. He is not my organized child, either. But, he is loads of fun. He says the funniest things. He is my fashion consultant. He is very out-going. He is a great little builder. He doesn't know what he wants to be when he's an adult yet, but hopefully he will at least start making some goals! I love this peanut. We butt heads a lot... a lot more than any of my children. But, I love him oh, so much. I am proud of him and I know he will do great things!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Jackson Turns 18!!

How is it even possible that my Jackson is 18?!

This boy had a tough time coming in to the world! The epidural wouldn't take. I pushed for three hours. They used the vacuum. They put the fetal monitor on the wrong part of his head, which he has a scar from. He had two heads for like two weeks. It was traumatic. He had colic for months and months and months. He didn't like sleeping.

Then, he became the biggest, brightest angel. This boy is amazing. He is responsible. He is frugal. He is cool. He is organized. He is a hard worker. He is a leader. He is loyal and committed to the people around him. He expects a lot of his friends. He wants so badly for them to be happy and healthy and safe.

Jackson is a senior this year. He wants to be an electrical engineer. He also wants to be a husband and a father. He will be the very best! I love this bubba of mine to the moon and back!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Friday Favorites - Dances

Both of the boys asked girls to Homecoming on Monday - before school started. How cute is this? "Please be a SMARTIE. Go to Homecoming with this Dum-Dum?"

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Kaydon & The Ladies

Kaydon had his one-on-one with Papa and Grandma last weekend. They went to the BYU Blue Bash. Apparently, a few girls asked Kaydon if he'd like to have a picture taken with them. His response? "Of course, Ladies!"

Such a swooner!!!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

School Year 2017

We don't do boring at our house, therefore why not have the fire department at our house the night before school starts?! I came home from the gym - all sweaty and stinky - and immediately went in to my normal mom mode. I emptied the dishwasher and started a load of laundry while I fried the hamburger and warmed the refried beans for tacos. I got the hair clippers out in preparation for back-to-school hair cuts. I finished dinner and yelled for the children to come stuff their faces with food. They obliged, as they always do. As they sat down to eat, the most horrible alarm went off. I have never in my life heard anything like it. It wasn't the smoke detector. Jackson turned off all of the breakers. Nothing! We called the fire department and they were there quick. I was still in my workout clothes and the boys were sad that their dinner was getting cold. It turned out that it was a "water alarm." I was not too pleased about that and sent a lovely message to the property management company who "installed" a water alarm in the water heater closet by laying it on the floor.

Anywho, dinner was warmed and eaten. Hair cuts got done. Laundry was done. Boys showered. Mama double checked school supplies and made sure they had a clean outfit set out. Alarms were set and this mama when night night.

This morning, we knelt in prayer and I pleaded with the Father that my babies would be protected, comforted, kind, and that they would return home today with honor.

Jackson is a senior at Layton. A senior. I'm tearing up as I type this.
Braxton is a sophomore at Layton.
Kaydon is a freshman at Fairfield Junior.
Colton is an eighth grader at Fairfield Junior.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Single Mom Life - One-On-One Time

As a single mom, and one who works a lot of hours, quality time with each boy is tough. Plus, they are at the age where friends are pretty important in their minds. I'm pretty blessed! I have boys who ASK to spend time with me! Like, they want to!!! I know, weird!

Jackson had mentioned a while ago that he might want to get a pedicure. Uh... DONE! So, I made an appointment on Saturday for he and I to get a little love. Beyond Spa is fantastic. They are SO reasonably priced and they do a great job! We spent a half hour in the B lounge, drinking cider and eating cheesecake, frozen grapes, chocolate, and cheese and crackers while our feet soaked. Then, we went back to the pedicure room, where they fed us sorbet (divine!!). Jackson was in heaven! He absolutely loved everything about it. The cute girl doing his was like, "So, do you think you'll be back??" Jackson, "Uhhh, HECK YEAH!!!!"

Then, we went and ran errands together. I am in love with my boys. They are funny, smart, kind, and just so much fun! I love spending time with them individually, even if it's just going grocery shopping. They are just my favorite people in the world.

With this being Jackson's last year of school, I am feeling rushed. I feel rushed to just eat them up every second I have. I just want to soak my babies in. I am so grateful for one-on-one time with each of them. We don't have money, People. So, sitting and watching a movie or playing a game or making dinner, or going to the grocery store, or just walking home from church with one of them - that all counts!!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Back To School Feast 2017

Yesterday was our annual back to school feast. Because this is Jackson's last year in high school, I asked him to come up with our theme for the school year. He and I went shopping on Saturday for the handouts he would need. We also shopped for our dinner. Jackson decided on the following menu:
- Rump roast
- Homemade garlic mashed potatoes (I totally nailed it!!)
- Homemade pasta salad (I seriously totally nailed it!!)
- Rolls
- Apple cranberry cider
- Warm homemade cookies with ice cream for dessert

The theme that Jackson chose for the year is "Honor." He spoke about how each day, we should all return home with honor. He spoke about the ABC's of honoring the Priesthood with his brothers. He talked about dating and how the boys should always be respectful of the girls that they date and the rules in their homes. He spoke about respecting me, as their mama, respecting each other, respecting themselves, and honoring Heavenly Father. He gave each of them a card with the ABC's of honoring the Priesthood. He had a letter in front of each of us that spelled out "honor." He asked each of us to explain what honor means to us. It was a great conversation and a great dinner!

Besides the usual burping and farting at the dinner table (good times), it was a really great dinner. I love my boys so, so much. I am so stinking proud of them. I can't believe that this is Jackson's last year of school. He is such a good example to me and to his brothers, who adore him!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Three Weeks

It's been three weeks since P gained his angel wings. It seems like not that long, but it also seems like so much longer. I've needed, so much, to have P time - where I just sit in his office and talk to him about life and he lets me cry while he hands me all of the purple taffy from the bowl. I need a back-to-school chaos blessing, but he's not here to do that. I need to hear him sing. But he's not here to do that. I need to talk to him about opportunities, frustrations, funny stuff that only he would laugh at. But he's not here to do that.

I messaged Kenzie Lou last night to remind her that she's loved and supported and KNOWN. Sweet Kenz has her hands full. I remind her often that she is prepared for this. I also remind her that all she has to do is reach out. We will all be there for them!

P, we are going to have our fall employee appreciation softball game and lunch! Except, this time the entire Public Services Department will be there. I have my hands full to make sure it's just what would have made you smile. You won't be catching this year - razzing everyone who came to the plate. You won't be hitting doubles, that only turn in to singles because you were getting old. You won't be making the salads for me while I set everything up because you knew just what I needed you to help me with so I didn't stress - like over the top stress! But, I hope and I pray that you're close by. I hope that our guys will hear you razzing them from behind the plate. I hope that we will all hear your voice and your laugh in our hearts.

I miss you every single day. I think you'd be proud of how we are doing. We have been told we are on "auto-pilot." However, I think that we continue to go about 65 MPH, which is the exact speed you lived your life at. Sometimes we play Neil Diamond. Sometimes we cry. Still. Sometimes we hug - okay every day we hug.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Single Mom Life - Putting Them To Work

I have almost always worked for men, who have wives who are able to stay home and raise their families and make their houses homes. At times, they have been less than understanding about the fact that at my house, all of those things that their wives do during the day still have to be done at my house, just in much shorter periods of time. I have to make the money, pay the bills, run the errands, get kiddos to doctor and dentist appointments, do the shopping, make the meals, do the laundry, do the dishes, vacuum, do the garbage, plan the meals, attend the functions, cut hair........ It goes on and on. But, it's just me. Just me.

However, I am not raising my children to sit and watch Mom do it all by herself. I can't. I won't. Not only would that not be fair to me, but it wouldn't be fair to them. They are capable and we are a team. For this reason, once they turned 10, they did their own laundry and ironing. Even Colton. I have not done their laundry in years. I have not done their ironing in years. They do dishes. They fix meals. They do grocery shopping. They clean the house. We all pitch in and do these things. And, sometimes I'll notice that one of them grabbed my laundry and did it for me! They are great organizers and hard workers. I am proud of them.

Sunday, Bishop came over to our house to set Jackson apart as the 1st Assistant in the Priest Quorum. Afterwards, he gave us blessings. In each blessing, he told my boys that their mama loves them and that I sacrifice for them and that I do everything in my power to take care of them. Kaydon said, "That's so true. You can see it in her. She sweats sacrifice and hard work for US." I cried a little. But, how grateful I am that they see that their mama loves them. How grateful I am that they never, ever complain about being part of this team where we work hard and love hard.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Baby Time!

Friday night, Jackson and Braxton met me at Uncle Brandon and Aunt Carrie's house to babysit the babes. As always, Anson was completely chill. Asher, not so much. Baby Asher was not very happy with the world. Poor little guy. We had to do lots of snuggles and bouncing and walking. Jackson and Anson just chilled and watched Baby Einstein.

Saturday night, we all met Uncle Brandon and Aunt Carrie at Farmington Station to get Baked Bear to celebrate this month of birthdays! The boys loved it!! We loved some more on these babes and laughed and talked. Brandon has been having talks with Jackson and Braxton about what they think they want to do after high school. Braxton is the tough one to get through to. I am so grateful that my boys have amazing uncles who are helping them to become great men.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Kaydon is 15!!

This miracle boy of mine is 15 today! As per tradition, I will be emailing his gastroenterologist an update on this boy who so many thought would die in infancy. His doctor felt otherwise and always fought hard for Kaydon! Kaydon is creative, hard-working, driven, spiritual, loyal, and has so much personality! He will be a 9th grader this year!! I cannot wait to see what this year brings him! Love you, Buddha!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Friday Favorites - Memories

I am so grateful for pictures of P that are at my desk. On Wednesday, I called his voice mail (which still has his voice mail message on it) and recorded his voice on to my phone. That might sound weird, but some days I just need to hear that dang voice that irritated me so often. My favorite thing about my memories is the picture that Colton drew during the funeral. Colton was so much better at the funeral than I thought he'd be. Two hours of sitting there, listening and being "reverent" is so hard for adults who are neuro-typical. As soon as the caskets came in, Colton shrieked, "Why is Perry in a box?!?!" I thought that for sure that was the beginning of the end, but with the help of Skittles and a drawing pad, he made it through. Sweet Colton and his love for Perry make me smile big everyday!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Trading in Sassy for Sweet

The guys brought me in a donut yesterday. They said I was being a weeeeee bit sassy and needed to trade it in for some sweet. I don't eat donuts. But, I sure as heck ate this one.

Don't judge.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Single Mom Life - Real Freaking Furniture!

I've decided that once a week on this blog, I am going to highlight single mom life. People, let's be honest - life is not supposed to be this way, but for so many people it just is and that's ok! So, I will be highlighting the highs and the lows, the good, the bad, and the ugly, the tender mercies and the struggles. It's our life and it's a beautiful life.

Saturday, Brandon texted me that his assistant, Keeli, had a bedroom set. I jumped on the chance to get it! We literally have no real furniture. It's just not in the budget. Don't get me wrong, we have a couch. It was $50 on KSL six years ago. We all have mattresses. We have broken down, used dressers. But, not real furniture.

You guys!!! This is my new bedroom set:

The boys so gladly switched rooms for Braxton and I. They put together the furniture. They helped me put all of my clothes away. They helped me clean. They were so glad for me. They told me to lay down and see if it was comfortable enough for me.

Jackson and I ran an errand on Thursday night. Just me and him. He told me that he is so grateful for our challenges in our family of five. He told me that because of what we have been through, the boys don't take anything for granted. They know they have to work hard because they see me work hard. They know they are not entitled to anything. They know that life is hard. They know how to budget, how to prioritize, how to work hard, how to pay tithing, how to be so grateful for what we do have.

As he told me these things, I realized that indeed our trials and struggles and hardships are blessing in our lives.

This single-mom thing is not such a bad gig when I hear my boys speak of our blessings like that.