Friday, December 25, 2009

Reflecting Back

Nine years ago, on December 12th, my parents stopped by on their way home from Salt Lake. My dad had been in the hospital down there (they had flown him down from Salmon about a week previous). His doctor could find nothing wrong, or so he said, and released Dad to go home. Our friends who brought them back were kind enough to stop here so we could see him for a while and give him a break from riding in the car. As I watched him struggle to walk from the car to my door I knew that if he continued on to Salmon he would not make it home alive so I insisted they stay here for a while to give him a chance to rest up. Little did I know that that would be my last opportunity to give service to my dad. His stay lasted just 2 weeks. He struggled to breath, he struggled to eat. We tried everything we could think of for him. I even put my chicken noodle soup in the blender for him to see if that would go down easier for him. The kids LOVED having their Paa-aa here for that long a time.
December 23rd I awoke from a dead sleep with the thought I need to go out and check on Dad. He was awake but having an awful time trying to breathe. He told me he thought he had better go to the hospital, but he wanted to try to shower first. When he got to the bathroom and realized he couldn't even do that I knew it was serious.
That day I had to make some of the toughest decisions a child should not have to make when it comes to their parents. Even though my mom was with us, she was not in the state of mind needed to make these kinds of decisions. After we got Dad into the Emergency Room on 100% oxygen and his sats were still at only 66% the doctor pulled me aside and told me we had to decide if we wanted to put him on life support to "try to pull him out of this." Dad asked the doctor if he didn't have something he could give him to take it all away.
Ultimately Dad was the one who agreed to the intubation but I still had to make the phone calls to family and let them know what was going on.
It was a hard time for us, having 4 little ones at home trying to get ready for Christmas, family coming into town to see Dad, watching out for Mom as she stayed there with Dad in the Intensive Care Unit and thinking I still had to fulfill my church calling. I am so grateful for wonderful friends and neighbors who helped us out.
Less than 36 hours later, as John and I were home on Christmas Eve getting ready to celebrate our little tradition with our kids of opening their 'pajamas', we got a phone call from the hospital. John & I left immediately, leaving the kids home alone until I could call someone to go stay with them. Dad had returned home to live with Heavenly Father on the Eve of our Savior's birth.
We opted not to tell the kids when we got home that night. We didn't want to spoil their Christmas. The next morning, after opening presents, KC hurried to get dressed and was putting on his shoes when I asked him what he was doing. He told us he was going to go see Paa-aa and show him his Christmas presents like we promised he could. It broke our hearts to tell him he wouldn't get to.
For a year or two after, I had a hard time at Christmas time. It has gotten easier as time goes on. Some years are tougher than others because I get in a more reflective mood, I guess. I remember all the fun Christmases we had when I was living at home. I remember the year after Dad's cancer surgery when we would ask him what he wanted for Christmas. "A new body and and a new truck," was what he would say. So we borrowed a mannequin from the clothing store and dressed it up and put it in a big box. We put it in the living room about 4 or 5 days before Christmas. Dad would walk around that box with a twinkle in his eye just chuckling. He was so curious as to what could be in that box. Then we bought a little toy truck, complete with horse trailer and horses and put it on a straw bale out in our calving shed. That was such a fun Christmas.
As a child, we would play Secret Santa to a family in the valley that we knew were less fortunate than we were. Mom & Dad would drive us and we would take the boxes to the porch and ding-dong-ditch the house. If we had enough snow my Grandpa (or Dad) would hitch up the team and wagon, or bobsleigh, and go up through the neighborhood, picking up neighbors and kids, come back and go out through the fields with the tubes, sleighs, car hoods and toboggans on back, then stop at the house for hot chocolate. Dad loved going sledding as much as we kids did and sometimes we would go up Williams Creek and sled down the road at night. We always had to wait, on Christmas morning, for Dad to get done milking before we could get up and open presents. If any presents were opened before he got there they would be his. One year I happened to spy a Barbie in my stocking before Dad got in the house. I didn't dare tell him because I knew he would get that present and I just knew he wouldn't enjoy playing with a Barbie near as much as I would.
My dad was such a fun loving guy who always had a twinkle in his eye. He loved to tease and he loved to laugh. He was friends with everyone and if you didn't know him, he would introduce himself and you would be friends in no time. He left me a great legacy that I will always appreciate. Of course, he wasn't perfect, none of us are, but he was a great Dad! I am forever grateful for the chance I had to have him in my home the last two weeks of his life, for the chance my kids had to have him near at Christmas-time. A friend, and family relative told me later that when they came into our home to see Mom and Dad during that time she noticed Dad sitting in the living room, with the Christmas tree up, and the kids playing there close by; she felt such a sweet spirit there. She thought that must be such a happy time for him to be surrounded with his grandkids like that.
As it turns out, Dad had problems with his esophagus and was basically starving to death. That is why he had such a hard time eating. But what was his undoing was he had been released from the hospital in Salt Lake with pneumonia. Because it went untreated, the infection spread into his chest cavity. He also aspirated fluid into his lungs. He died of asphyxiation and pneumonia.
Now I must always remember how blessed I was to have the father I had and to be grateful for all he did for me, especially all he tried to do while he was here with me before he died.
We love you Paa-aa and are very thankful for you and all you taught us. Merry Christmas!
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Monday, December 7, 2009

The Symbols of Christmas

Just a week before Christmas, I had a visitor. This is how it happened. I had just finished the household chores for the night and was preparing to go to bed when I heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the door of the front room, and to my surprise, Santa Claus himself stepped out from behind the Christmas tree. He placed his fingers over his mouth so I would not cry out.
"What are you doin..." I started to ask but the words choked in my throat as I saw he had tears in his eyes. His usual jolly manner was gone. Gone was the eager, boisterous soul we all know.
He then answered me with a simple statement of "Teach the children." I was puzzled. What did he mean? He anticipated my question and with one quick movement brought forth a miniature toy bag fr0m behind the tree. As I stood there bewildered, Santa said again, "Teach the children. Teach them the old meaning of Christmas; the meaning that Christmas now has forgotten."
I started to say, "How can I..." when Santa reached into the toy bag and pulled out a brilliant shiny star.
"Teach the children the star was the heavenly sign of promise long ages ago. God promised a savior for the world and the star was a sign of the fulfillment of that promise. The countless shining stars at night, one for each man, now show the burning hope of all mankind." Santa gently laid the star upon the fireplace mantle and drew forth from the bag a glittering red Christmas tree ornament.
"Teach the children red is the first color of Christmas. It was first used by the faithful people to remind them of the blood which was shed for all the people by the Savior. Christ gave His life and shed His blood that every man might have God's gift of Eternal Life. Red is deep, intense, vivid. It is the greatest color of all. It is the symbol of the gift of God."
"Teach the children," he said as he dislodged a small Christmas tree from the depths of the toy bag. He placed it before the mantle and gently hung the red ornament. Here was the second color of christmas.
"The pure green color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round," he said. "This depicts the everlasting hope of mankind. Green is the youthful, hopeful, abundant color of nature. All the needles point heavenward-symbols of Man's returning thoughts toward heaven. The great green tree has been man's best friend. It has sheltered him, warmed him, made beauty for him." Suddenly I heard a soft tinkling sound.
"Teach the children that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of the bell, it should ring for man to return to the fold. It means guidance and return. It further signifies that all are precious in the eyes of the Lord. As the soft sound of the bell faded into the night, Santa drew forth a candle. He placed it on the mantle and the soft glow from its tiny flame cast a glow about the darkened room. Odd shapes in shadows slowly danced and weaved upon the walls.
"Teach the children," whispered Santa, "that the candle shows man's thanks for the star of long ago. Its small light is the mirror of starlight. At first candles were placed on the trees. They were like many glowing stars shining against the dark green. The colored lights have now taken over in remembrance."
Santa turned the small Christmas tree lights on and picked up a gift from under the tree. He pointed to the large bow and said, "A bow is placed on a present to remind us of the spirit of the brotherhood of man. We should remember that the bow is tied as men should be tied, all of us together, with bonds of good will toward each other. Good will forever is the message of the bow."
Santa slung his bag over his shoulder and began to reach for the candy cane placed high on the tree. He unfastened it and reached out toward me with it.
"Teach the children that the candy cane represents the shepherd's crook. The crook on the staff helps bring back the strayed sheep to the flock. The candy cane represents the helping hand we should show at Christmas time. The candy cane is the symbol that we are our brother's keepers."
As Santa looked about the room, a feeling of satisfaction shone on his face. He read wonderment in my eyes, and I am sure he sensed my admiration for this night.
He reached into his bag and brought forth a large holly wreath. He placed it on the door and said, "Please teach the children the wreath symbolizes the eternal nature of love; it never ceases, stops, or ends. It is one continuous round of affection. The wreath does double duty. It is made of many things and in many colors. It should remind us of all the things of Christmas. Please teach the children."
I pondered and wondered and thrilled with delight,
As I sat and viewed all those symbols that night.
I dozed as I sat in the soft candle light,
And my thoughts were of Santa and all he made right.
To give and to help, to love and to serve,
Are the best things of life, all man can deserve.
Old Santa Claus, that jolly fat elf,
Is the very best symbol of Christmas itself.
He's the sign of the gift of love and of life,
The ending of evil, the ceasing of strife.
His message to me on that pre-Christmas night,
Has opened a treasure of deepest insight.
The one thing on earth we all ought to do,
Is teach all the children the right and the true.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas stories

I love Christmas stories. I have a book that has been put together with lots of stories and poems in it. I was typing up some more stories I had found to add to the book & thought it would be fun to put a few of my favorites here for others to enjoy.

Ready For Christmas
"Ready for Christmas," she said with a sigh,
As she gave a last touch to the gifts piled high.
Then wearily sat for a moment and read
Till soon, very soon, she was nodding her head.
Then quietly spoke a voice in her dream:
"Ready for Christmas! What do you mean?
When only last week
You wouldn't acknowledge your friend on the street.
"Ready for Christmas, while holking a grudge!
Perhaps you had better let God be the judge.
Why, how can the Christ child come and abide
In a heart that is selfish adn filled with pride?"
"Ready for Christmas, when only today
A beggar lad came and you turned him away
Without even a smile to show that you cared!
So little he asked--it could have been spared.
"Ready for Christmas! You've worked, it is true,
But just doing the things that you wanted to do.
Ready for Christmas! Your circle's too small.
Why, you are not ready for Christmas at all."
She awoke with a start, and a cry of despair,
"There's so little time, and I've still to prepare!
"Oh Father, forgive me, I see what you mean;
To be ready means more than a house swept clean."
Yes, more than the giving of gifts and a tree,
It's the heart swept clean that he wants to see.
A heart that is free from bitterness, sin,
Ready for Christmas means ready for Him!
I sure hope I am ready for Christmas this year! Hopefully I can post a story every day until Christmas and you all enjoy them!

Friday, November 13, 2009

He looks like a normal boy....

Most everyone knows the story of our Juddy Buddy. He was our very first foster baby who arrived at our home at the tender age of 12 days. Being our first foster child (and no training), we had no idea what to expect. They brought him into our living room and then told me he tested positive for Meth when he was born. My heart sank as I wondered if I was going to be up all night and all day with a crying, fussy baby. We still fell instantly in love with him. It didn't take long to know he was the best baby any mom could ask for.
Eventually we found out we would be able to keep him forever! What joy was in our hearts. We also knew we would be taking on a lot because no one really knew what the long term effects from prenatal meth use were.
At about a year old he discovered his brother's cars and would line them up on the ledge of our bay window. They were all front to back. Not one was out of place. At 18 months he still wasn't talking so I started getting him evaluated. There were a few signs of delays. At about 2 1/2 he started getting extremely upset at the drop of a hat and would bang his head on anything that was near; concrete, the floor, the wall, us....He also was displaying impulsive behaviors that, even though it appeared he knew they were wrong, he couldn't control them. By this time we were getting a lot of outside help for which we were grateful. We were also learning how others could be so extremely judgemental and close-minded. We would get looks, and occasionally, comments, on our inability to control our child. Some mothers would even tell their children not to play with Jud, just run away from him. He wanted to play with other children so bad but did not know how to initiate that social contact and behave right.
It has been such a heartbreaking but extremely rewarding journey. Once people take the time to get to know Judson they see what a huge spirit lives inside this (albeit oversized for his age) body. He has a love for everyone that goes beyond any social barriers we have all put up around ourselves. He tries so hard.
Even though we have known for over a year, the psychologist just officially diagnosed him with Autism Disorder. Dr. Christensen told us a year ago that he was sure that would be his diagnosis but then changed it based on the paperwork I filled out. When answering their questions about different issues I would state they were not much, if any, of a problem. I did that because we had learned how to deal with most of them. I had not been told to fill out the questions based on what another person would go through if they were taking care of Jud for the first time. This year I was wiser and was instructed better on how to fill out the questionaire.
Judson looks just like a normal little boy about 9 or 10 years old. However, he is only 6 and once he begins talking most would be able to tell he is not 'normal.' We have learned so much from this special child. As parents we have learned more patience. We have to work harder and not raising our voices in anger (at least not too much). We have learned we need to slow down our lives and try to keep a little calmer atmosphere in our home. These are just a few things, but most of all we have learned when we see a parent struggling with a child in public to not be judgemental. We have no idea what that parent is going through or what the situation my be.
We have also learned the blessing of adoption. I always believed that when you adopt a child that spirit was intended to come to your home from the beginning but unable to by normal circumstances. Simply put, that child was chosen to be yours here on earth but had to go thru other means to get here. We have learned you do not love that child any less than the ones you carried for 9 months and gave birth to. Once he is sealed to you & your family he is yours forever, not just binding on earth but binding in heaven.
Jud struggles with a lot of things. Verbally he has a difficult time expressing himself. He just learned how to button buttons and how to skip. He cannot ride a two wheeler but watch out when he is on his tricycle! He cannot tie his shoes and if there is a change in his routine without forewarning, heaven help us all! He is delayed in school and academically only functions at about a 3 or 4 year old level. Oh, but he is very smart! He will draw pictures till the day is long. He loves to build cars with his legos and if you are doing something while he is in the same room as you, even though you think he is not paying any attention, he can come and do exactly what you were doing. Visually he remembers everything and can imitate anything he sees on t.v., especially animals, to the exact sound. He loves music and maybe cannot say all the words but can hit the notes right on.
He is one precious little man and we are so grateful he is ours. The road may be tough and extremely frustrating and heartbreaking at times but, oh it is so rewarding. Especially when, out of the blue, I will hear "Mommy. I Love You." Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Brittany & Scott's Wedding

I am finally getting pictures posted of Scott & Brittany's wedding. What a perfect day it was! Thank you to everyone who came and helped make it extra special.

Grandpa & Grandma Franson

Grandpa Sawatzki

Scott's Family

Everyone who was at the Temple

Goofy Dad

My Handsome Boys &

My Beautiful Girls

The Bridesmaids: Kimberlee, Katy (Scott's sister)
Tara (Britt's friend), Mataya

The Groomsmen: Matt (Scott's brother), Mike (Scott's friend), Jon (Scott's friend), KC and Jud

I love this one!
They made such a beautiful Bride and Groom. The colors Brittany chose were so pretty and vibrant. Made everything just stand out and pop! What a wonderful and exciting day. We love having Scott a part of our family. It is crazy to see your children grow up and move on with their lives, but also very fun to watch.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Some BIG Onions

I decided it might be a good idea to get my onions pulled and ready for storage. Especially since it was going to turn cold today. I thought we planted a lot of onions last year, but we almost ran out and didn't have any for storage. So we planted two rows this year. Boy did we ever get a lot of onions! And they are big ones too. The great big ones you can see in the pictures are Walla Walla's and they are about the size of small plates. I don't think I have ever grown onions that big. It is fun to plant the garden and then see and enjoy the fruits of our labors.

Another successful harvest was our spaghetti squash. I got three plants from the nursery and from them got about 40 squash! That's quite a bit for only 3 plants that I almost killed.

P.S. Sorry for the sideways picture. I still am not technologically smart enough to figure out how to fix that. I thought I did and this is what I got. You can still get the idea of how many onions we have.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wonderful Rewards

I am sure that all of you who read this know we do foster care. Mostly we take babies but a few times we have had older kids. Babies are much easier for us because Jud is does better with them. Plus I love taking care of the tiny ones. The last foster baby we had we got when she was 5 weeks old. We ended up having her for a year with only a 2 1/2 month break in which they were trying to reunify her with her mother. It was unsuccessful and we got her back. A few months later her aunt and uncle were finally able to get licensed so they could take her. They were very much hoping to be able to adopt her. This adorable little girl turned 3 this month and has been with the aunt and uncle the whole time. The birth mother lost her parental rights and appealed the decision. The ruling was upheld this summer. I knew approximately when the appeal was to happen but had not stayed in very good contact with the aunt & uncle and didn't want to bother the social worker too much.
Anyway-as I was getting ready to take Jud to school Thursday the phone rang. It was the aunt calling to tell me the adoption hearing was that morning in an hour and could I come? Of course!!! I would not miss that! What a beautiful healthy little girl she was! And so loved! It was the neatest experience, aside from our own adoption. My heart overflowed knowing what a wonderful chance this little girl has now with a family who adores her and takes such good care of her. To top off the morning, the aunt, before the hearing, told me they were changing her name, to Katherine Linette. They wanted to give her my name to honor the first year of her life that she was in my care and to let me know how grateful they were for what I did. That touched me like I can not even describe.
So many times I have wondered what has happened to those 13 children I have cared for, some for only 24 hours, some for only 3-4 days, some for much longer. I have seen a couple of them around and have quietly been able to watch a bit of their progress but most of them I have no idea what their little lives are like now. This experience was a reaffirmation to me that what I do does make a difference somewhere, somehow. This has made it all worthwhile for me. I cannot wait until the temple sealing when I will be able to witness the joy this family will receive to have their whole family together in the temple. Wow! What a blessing it is to have the gospel in our lives and to have the knowlege we have of a loving God who wants only what is best for us!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Judson's "Bambi Bike"

This summer I had KC and Mataya clean out the shed. In the process they put the elk horns out on the lawn. Of course Jud found them and had to play with them. He would hold them up to his head and pretend he was Bambi. Next thing we knew, one night while John and I were on a date, KC calls and says Jud wants to tape the horns to his bike. KC did, according to instructions and this was the result. As you can see he got quite creative with his balls and 'sticks'. He has received quite a few comments on it.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Jud's First Day of School

Monday, August 24th was Judson's first day of 1st grade. He had been counting down 'how many sleeps it was' for the past 11 days! He was so excited that morning. Mom is excited too! I like having quiet days do regroup and get things done. Let's just hope and pray it is a good year for him.Posted by Picasa
Monday I took Kimberlee back to Provo to get her moved out of one apartment and into another. We are getting pretty good at this moving thing. One problem I did notice though, was each move seems to be bigger and bigger. I told her to quit aquiring stuff.
Actually Monday we only made it as far as Brittany and Scott's in West Jordan. It was Brittany's 21st birthday so we spent the night with them and went out to dinner with the Sawatzki's. They are such a fun family. Brittany sure got lucky to get such great in-laws.
Tuesday morning we kinda dawdled a little so we could go show Kim Gardener Village before we headed down to Provo. Brittany took me there last fall and I have wanted to go again ever since. It is the cutest little village of shops. So much fun to go look around in. Anyway, as we started down the street we heard a very out-of-the-ordinary sound the car was making. Sure enough--flat tire! Thanks to some very wonderful neighbors of Britt's we got it changed and got it over to the tire store to get fixed. In the meantime, while the car was at Les Schwab, we crossed the street to browse around the Quilted Bear. Another FUN store! Needless to say, we were a little late getting on our way to Provo.
We did manage to get Kim all moved over to her FLSR (Foreign Language Student something-or-other). We pretty much dumped everything in her apartment, gave her hugs & kisses and left. I was going to be late getting home as it was and I hate driving after dark.
I dropped Brittany off at her house and headed on home. I passed Malad and was almost to the next little exit when a ding sounded and a light came on the dash. I had totally forgotten about GAS!!! I was so grateful I was able to get off at that exit and slip back into Malad and fill up. I put a little over 18 1/2 gallons into a 20 gallon tank. Talk about being watched over! The rest of my trip was uneventful and I made it home safe and sound to find the house and contents all in one piece. Thank goodness for great kids!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Warm River Fun!

Saturday, the 22nd, we made our annual excursion to Warm River. We took Brent and Zana Bitton, Tayler and Dakota (we missed you Dallas) and also Kim's friend, Jonathon. We had tons of fun. It was a perfect day to picnic and float the river. The river is perfect. Not too deep and the float is only about a 1/2 mile. Someone stays at the campground and brings the pickup down to load us all in and take us back up. We all went down at least two or three times (some more than that). Jud loves it because we put his life jacket on him and he plops into the river and hangs onto the rope that goes around the boat and just floats all the way down. At first the river is a bit cold but by the end of the float you are use to it (or your just too numb to notice). This is an outing the kids look forward to every year. We missed having Brittany and Scott with us this year so hopefully next year! I think we are going to have to invest in more tubes or boats though! And maybe even make it an overnight trip. The campground there is really great!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Funniest Story Ever!

So tonight, at aproximately 10:45 pm, Kimberlee decides to finally go down to her room to pick up her clothes she has scattered throughout the room. After a moment, we hear a bloodcurdling scream (I thought it was on t.v.) and she comes bombing upstairs. She swears there is something down in her clothes like a snake or something. Whatever it was it rattled! and moved! Of course I, being the mother, had to come to the rescue to start the process of sifting through each article of clothing from the door to the wall. After everything was picked up and shook out and I moved the suitcase, her face turned red as she bent down and spun the wheel on her suitcase. That was the ratlling sound she heard. Some snake or rodent! I'm afraid this is one we won't let you forget for a while Kim! (by the way-she DID wake up Jud so I made her put him back to sleep) .

Hello all!

Greetings fellow friends and family! This is Kimberlee, daughter #2. My mother (Linette) has been asking me for quite some time to help her set up a blog. I thought that today, while I am visiting home, would be an excellent time to do so. However, just as I start asking, "What do you want to call your blog? What kind of background do you want? What do you want to say in the 'About Me' column?" I received the same answer: I dunno, you pick something. And then she goes off and works and I don't know where she is. I thought it rather silly to create a blog and have no posts, so at least here is one to help get started until you can hear from her yourself. Hopefully in enough time she can figure out how to use this as well as facebook, which was also created by her fabulous first daughter. Maybe I should leave some step by step instructions posted on the wall next to the computer... Just kidding Mom! Love you lots! And from all the crazy Blackfoot Fransons, we're glad to be on board and we love to hear from you all as well on your blogs. Ciao!