Sunday, August 23, 2009

Goodbye Grandma McClellan...And Farewell To Union

Well, I suppose it's worth a little time to update those who read my recent blog about my Grandma, and might be wondering how she's doing. She passed away on Saturday, August 22nd at the age of 95. She went peacefully and relatively quick. Of course, we all expected it at any moment and the Hospice nurse pretty much had narrowed it down to the last few minutes. So it was no surprise and in my opinion, I think that makes it a little easier. Although, I would say death is never easy for those who are left behind. I have a lot of memories of all my grandparents, even though both of my grandpas went when I was relatively young. It's interesting, too, because I don't have any bad memories of them.

Oh, I'm sure I pushed their buttons the wrong way on many occasions, yet I don't remember any bad moments with any of them. That must be the sign of a good grandparent. The thing I think remember most about my Grandma McClellan was that I could joke around with her about anything; and I mean anything. As she got older, she became a grouchy old lady more and more, but I could always make her laugh. And she did a good job of making us laugh, too. I'll miss that.

Anyways, her funeral will be this coming Saturday, and we will be in attendance, of course. She will be buried next to my grandpa in Union Oregon, where all four of my grandparents' mortal bodies will rest till the Resurrection. For me this will be a farewell in more ways than one. That's because it will more than likely be the last trip I will make to the tiny town of Union, Oregon. Now that I no longer have family there, I don't foresee another trip there in the future. Of course, I could be wrong, but realistically, this is probably it.

Union has a lot of special memories for me, because it always meant visits to both of my grandparents' houses, plus that is where we got to know and love our cousins. And of course it was the home of the annual Livingston Family Reunion for more than 30 years. It will be sad to say goodbye. I think I could write volumes on my memories of trips to Union. There have been so many to that little town of around 2000-2500 people that there are too many to even start writing them down. But looking back, those trips and things that happened in that town really helped shape my childhood.

So when we pull out of there next weekend, I will kind of be saying goodbye to an old friend and to a piece of my childhood. I will still have the memories, though, and that is really what life's experiences - and life itself - are all about. We live them, we enjoy them (or not), and then we move on to what life brings next. However, we learn from them by remembering them. And in the end, life is really just a big book of memories. Whether or not that book is good reading or not, is really up to us. So this weekend it will be time to write another chapter in that book of memories as our family reunites in Union, Oregon. There will be tears and there will be laughs. And of course, as my Grandma's mortal book ends, we will all be adding another cherished chapter to our ongoing stories. As for my book, I know this weekend will make for some good reading down the road. Goodbye Grandma, and thank you for leaving me some good chapters.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

It's Time To Laugh Again

We have been busy, as usual. The baseball season is now almost over (just one game to go for each of them this Saturday) and both Tyler and Bailey have done very well.

Tyler Behind The Plate

Bailey Goes Deep
Bailey Behind The Mask
It is fun to watch them each week. It is also very fun to watch Trevin and Caden waiting in the wings. Trevin is so ready to play, and he will next year.
The kids are having a good summer but it is passing very quickly, and now almost over. Tyler will be a third grader and Bailey a first grader. How is that possible? So the big news in our family is that Carol is………now the Gospel Doctrine teacher in our ward (some of you thought I was going to say pregnant again, didn’t you?). She is humbled by the call, but I know she will do great. Plus, it will be a good break for her from the kids at church, as I will have to handle both Caden and Ammon during that hour. I’m excited for her, which is good, because at least one of us needs to be.

We took a little three-day vacation a couple weeks ago, to Eugene and mainly to Florence to play at the coast with my parents and my oldest brother Scott and his family. We did a little sandboarding, swimming, canoeing, marshmallow roasting, and of course baseball (when we got back to Eugene). We also had two unexpected “near-drowning” incidents. First, Caleb, who is almost 8, fell off the dock into the lake we were staying near. He probably would have been Ok, cuz he knows how to swim, but I yanked him out of the water as he struggled to get himself oriented. The next day, Trevin ran down the dune and straight into another lake we visited, and I guess Tyler pulled him up. We were not even there to see it. My Dad was close by, but thank goodness Tyler was, too. That’s the third time now that Trevin has had that kind of experience. You think he would learn by now. Anyways, the kids had a great time with their cousins and were sad to say goodbye.

The garden is producing cukes like crazy, and soon all of our green tomatoes will be turning red.
We have several ears of corn, but so far none of them have been bursting with yummy corn goodness. The kids love the garden, though, so overall it has been a success and totally worth doing.

We did Ammon’s baby blessing a week ago and it went well, I guess. It’s not something I really enjoy doing in front of the entire congregation, and would prefer it to be a much more intimate thing.
Almost all other blessings are, so I don’t know why baby blessings aren’t, but oh well. Ammon is growing like crazy. He has his two-month check-up this Thursday and I’m guessing he will already weigh about 15 pounds.

Caden seems to have reverted to is old ways of being grouchy, fussy, and generally unhappy, most of the time. It also appears that many of the same symptoms are showing up that were around before he started seeing the naturopath last year. So, we have decided to take him back and see if the Doctor can help again. Everyone keep your fingers crossed for Caden.

Well, it’s been a long time coming for these, and I know many of you have been waiting for more. So without further delay, here is the latest batch of funnies (sorry in advance to those of you who don’t like potty humor):

We were at the table for dinner and Ammon was close by in his bassinette. He kind of stirred, and then let out a huge blast. We all started laughing, then I said: “Whoa, was that you Bailey?” because, of course, we are used to Bailey providing the “musical” entertainment for our dining experience. She quickly denied responsibility. Then, Trevin said to Bailey, with a wry smile and tone to his voice: “That was you.”

The other day Trevin asked Carol: “Do you still have a baby in your tummy?” She, of course, replied: “No.” Trevin then asked: “Where did it go?” Carol pointed at Ammon and said: “It’s Ammon, right over there.” Trevin responded: “Oh, I’m gonna go see him.”

Tyler recently went to Cub Scout Camp, and each day they would meet up and then carpool over to the site. It was in Portland, across the river, so Carol was asking Tyler if he knew where it was and if he knew how to get there. He said: “Yeah,” then he started trying to tell her how to get there. His directions were, well, lacking quite a bit of info. He did mention that you go till you get to this really tall house. He said “if you see that house it’s so tall that if you go to the top balcony, you would be like two feet away from the sky.” So Carol questioned him: “Two feet away from the sky?” He responded, “yes.” Again, Carol asked him: “Two feet?” He said: “OK, not really two feet.” As I was writing this down, I was questioning him and Carol on the details. He said in all seriousness: “Actually, if you go to the roof, then you would be two feet away from the sky.” He still needs some work on his measuring skills.

Carol was in the bathroom cleaning Trevin up and said, “I’m tired of wiping your bum. When are you going to start wiping your own bum?” Trevin replied: “Umm, I wipe by bum when I 19. First day of my mission, I wipe my bum.” A couple days later, the same scenario occurred and Carol asked him the same question. Trevin replied, emphatically: “I told you; when I 19.”

President Nashif was over to home teach us and he asked Bailey if she had been baptized yet (of course he already knew the answer.) She responded, then he kept asking her questions as to why not? She finally got to the crux of it and said: “Because you have to be eight.” Then Tyler chimed in (and he wasn’t kidding), and said to President Nashif: “You’re a lot older than me. You should know that by now.”

I was changing Caden’s diaper and it was extremely wet. I said “that is one soaked diaper, buddy. Holy Cow! Holy Cow!” As I was saying it I would move my face in closer to him. He said: “Don’t say cow!” I asked: “Don’t say cow?” He then replied: “Don’t say holy!”

We were getting ready to read scriptures and Carol and I were on the love seat. Both Trevin and Tyler wanted to push their way onto it as well. I said: “No, this couch is made for two. It’s a two-seater.” I then told them that it’s called a love seat. After I said it, I thought, so how am I going to explain this one? Of course they asked: “What’s that mean?” Then Bailey cleared it all up, and said: “That means the couch loves you.”

So around here Carol changes almost all the diapers. Caden (and Trevin before him) does not want me to do it. When I lay him down and get ready to, he complains and says: “I want mommy do it.” So the other day I pick him up and he is messy, so I ask him: “Who’s gonna change your diaper?” fully expecting him to say, “mommy.” But he says, “Ummm, Tyler.” I started laughing, but Tyler, who was in the room, quickly said: “No I’m not.” The next day, Caden was ripe again and after a discussion between me and Carol, she asked him: “Caden, do you want daddy to change your diaper?” He replied: “No.” So she said: “Who’s gonna change your diaper?” He replied: “Uhhh, Ammon.”

Bailey asked one Monday night: “So are we ready for Family Home Evening?” Carol said as soon as Dad’s done, but Tyler butted in and said: “No. I’m still looking for a scripture.” Carol, who had asked him earlier and received a positive response, then said: “I thought you already had one?” Tyler replied: “Apparently, I didn’t. I was mistaked.”

So Trevin had an accident as he was getting ready to sit up on the toilet. Thus it was aimed all over the floor and the bathroom mats. I went in to assess the damage and he says: “I had a little accident.” I replied: “Yes, you did.” Then I as I stood there, looking at the puddles and soaked floor mat; while silently contemplating the fun time in which I was about to partake, Trevin, trying to look on the bright side, said: “I only got a little bit on my underwear.”

Tyler and Trevin have to do certain things each day before they play the Wii. For Tyler, one of them is to practice the piano for 15 minutes. Trevin has to be read to for at least 20 minutes. So the other day Trevin had his reading done, but Tyler still hadn’t done his piano practice. We also have to do family scripture reading before they play. We were about to do that, but Tyler wanted to do piano first, because he said: “If we read scriptures first, then Trevin will be able to play the Wii and I won’t.” Then Carol said, “Then you’ll just have to concentrate on the piano and get it done.” Tyler responded very sternly: “Yeah, but how am I supposed to do that?”

Grandma Shirts came down one night to visit. She arrived at about 7:30 and Grandpa was not with her. Usually he comes, so the kids asked: “Where’s Grandpa?” Grandma said: “Grandpa’s in bed.” One of them then asked: “Why is grandpa in bed already?” Bailey replied: “Because he’s an old man.”

Now enjoy some of the latest and greatest photos of this summer...
Fun With The Birds On A Hot Summer Day
What Shade Is That?

Jay-Bird Giving Tyler a Bird Bath
Let Me Get That For You
Dinner With Hayden and Claire
Take us To Your Leader
Cool In The Shade

Mini-Mom in Action

Not a Halloween Mask

Best Mates

Ammon Giving It His Best Shot

I Must Be In The Front Row
Enter Your Own Funny Caption Here
Here, We Wear 'em High

Rope Swing

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Good Night, Bailey...I Love You

I had a very tender moment with Bailey tonight and I think I should share. I was sitting in the kids' room writing in my journal, as I do each night when I'm home with them. Because of the way the lighting is set up, I sit on the floor leaned up against Bailey's bed. I was writing away, then suddenly stopped, looked up at her on her bed and gently caressed her hand. She laid there and smiled. I smiled back and then rubbed her cheek and told her I loved her. I could tell she was getting a little emotional, so I just smiled and sat back down. She gathered herself, while I exchanged some jokes with Tyler, then I finished writing.

Before I left, I sat on Bailey's bed, gave her a big hug and told her I loved her, again. She gave me a big kiss, then I left to put my journal away. I got half way down the hall and heard the sniffles. I grabbed some tissue, then headed back into their room. I handed her the tissue, and said: "You're not sad are you?" She shook her head no, then said through her tears: "When you said, 'I love you,' it just made me so happy."

Now, I have told Bailey that I love her every day at least a couple times a day, for her entire life, but even a six-year-old can sense the difference of that phrase being said, and being said with feeling. My eyes got a little wet, too, I must admit. I then rubbed her back till she fell asleep. It was quite tender, and another reminder that I should never underestimate my children's need of my love and affection. Just thought I would share...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Visit With Grandma…And A Pause To Reflect

We had the opportunity to go and see my Grandma McClellan in the nursing home where she has been a resident for a couple years. She is 95 now and this past week she started to bleed for no apparent reason. She went to the hospital and they could not figure out why, or how to make it stop. She received a blessing from my brother and Dad and it did stop…for now. However, the Doctor said that it will probably happen again, and they will not be able to stop it. Basically, she will go to sleep and bleed till she passes away. It is a peaceful way to go, according to what the doctors told my mom. So, being that we were in Eugene, and realizing that this quite likely would be the last time I would see my Grandma McClellan alive on this earth, we decided we needed to go and see her.

It was not easy, because it is very depressing to see her, or anyone else, in that condition. I have visited her several times before and it always makes me sad. But nursing homes also serve as an important reminder for many things in life, at least for me. When we arrived, she was sound asleep. After some effort, we got her to wake up and talk. However, she could not figure out who I was. I kept repeating my name, but she could not come up with it. She is blind in one eye, and the other barely works. She is also close to deaf, so communication is not easy, but her mind is still OK. It just takes a little bit to get going.

After a while, she recognized Carol. Bailey, Trevin and Caden each apprehensively said hi and smiled at her. She was happy to see them. Tyler would not leave the door jam and even enter the room all the way. He stood there and cried, refusing to look at her. Everyone shed tears as we looked at her and continued trying to explain who I was. I gave up and just decided to tell her how I felt. I sat down on her bed, put my arm on her shoulder and said: “Grandma, I love you.” I told her we thought of her and we prayed for her. I kissed her on the cheek (her skin surprisingly very soft) and hugged her, the best I could in that position. She smiled at me and said thank you. We all shed more tears and then, when we were just about to go, she asked Carol: “Where’s Kent?” Then she looked at me and said: “Are you Kent?” I told her yes, and then she said: “Now I recognize you. It just takes me a while. Sorry I’m so dumb today.” Carol asked if we could do anything, and she said she was cold, so I put two more blankets on her. She told me thank you, again. She said: “No one ever covers me up around here.” Again, we told her we loved her and she thanked us for visiting. We said goodbye and departed. She popped her head up one more time to see if we were still there, then laid it down again to sleep.

I don’t know if that will be the last time I see her in this life, but I know I’m glad we stopped. Things have never been easy for my Grandma McClellan, or my Grandpa when he was alive, but I know she loved her family. Oh sure, she complained about a lot of things, but we grandkids still liked her. She always enjoyed our attention, and we always loved to tease her. She enjoyed it, though; like I said she liked the attention.

As we drove away, I told Carol: “It’s funny, death. Many people are taken from this earth much sooner than we think is right and then we wonder: ‘Why did Heavenly Father call that person home?’ And then there are others that live so long, that we wonder, ‘Why does Heavenly Father want them here still?’ We just have to trust him and his infinite wisdom.” The whole situation was tough, but it was also very sweet. I do find it sad that my Grandma is there, just waiting to die, but it’s a teaching moment for me. It makes me think that I need to appreciate what I have more. I need to love my kids more and spend even more time with them. I need to love Carol more and treat her with love and kindness all the time. It reminds me that my parents and Carol’s parents are also getting older and I need to show more love and appreciation for them. I need to love my siblings more and let them know it more. I also need to love my Savior more and trust him more and appreciate every blessing my Heavenly Father has given me. Death will come to each of us, when the Lord decides it’s time. This visit with my Grandma has helped me realize, yet again, that I need to take advantage of every opportunity in this life, while I’m still living it. So thanks again Grandma for the good memories. My prayers are still with you. If I don’t see you again in this life, I plan to see you again in the life to come.