Saturday, May 28, 2011

To Quote the Boys...

"Daddy, I caught a dirthopper!"
--Jared, upon catching a cricket or grasshopper in the dirt-not the grass.

"Daddy, what are these two things?"
--Jared, after getting out of the bath.

"You smart Alex!"

"Want me to get to my anger?"

"Speaking of dumpsters, can we go to the Goodwill Store?"

"Can we please get the overalls? We can sew it up the middle and it won't be a dress anymore!"

I've started keeping a notebook of things the kids say. I've missed hundreds of good ones...but I won't miss them anymore!! :D

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Demons Are Coming

Years ago, some terrible things happened to me. I never really dealt with any of it either. Years after that, more terrible things happened and again I never really dealt with it. Just a few years ago, even MORE bad things happened,...but this time, I wasn't capable of dealing with it. I wanted to, but I didn't know how and I honestly didn't have the internal strength to just forge ahead and take care of it.
What I didn't know then, is that my swallowing it and keeping it out of sight meant that I began to be a different person. This person reacts badly on a frequent basis and those bad reactions have consequences that affect other people. It's an ugly pattern that has formed.
Recently, the opportunity arose to get some help for our whole family. The way it is presented will be more help to specific individuals, but the result should be that the whole family can heal from wounds that originated with me.
This help began this week. In order to heal, I have to relive some of those hellish events before I can actually "detox" from them. I don't like that, but I like them hurting me over and over again even less. I totally hate it that they are able to hurt my family too, so the healing is worth the pain. Still,...those of you who are around me regularly, please understand the demons are coming and I have to face them before I can slay them. I hope you don't feel any of the heat from that, but if you do...hopefully this blog post gives you some idea why it is.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Mental Strobe Light

I had a nice talk with Manti yesterday. It was just the two of us, and we were able to talk about some things that have weighed quite heavily on my heart for sometime now. During the conversation, I tried to explain to him what I experience inside when I'm under stress.

Imagine being in a dark room - like at a dance where the lights are very dim and there are a lot of people - and there is an intense strobe light flashing the whole time. I'm not talking about a disco ball. I'm talking about a strobe light that flashes strong beams of lights haphazardly around the room into any unsuspecting eyeballs that might be unfortunate enough to be looking in its direction. How do you turn off one of those things? I think they hide the switch somewhere so that only one person knows where it is and they have all-power where the strobe light is concerned.

Inside my head is a strobe light. It has endless battery power too, I think. I don't know where the switch is, and if someone turns it on, its inevitably going to aim for my eyes and keep me from being able to focus on anything. It truly is a miserable feeling.

And that is my definition of my personal stress response. It's no wonder I can't deal with anything during stressful times, right? It interferes with all thought processes and reasoning. I'd really like to pull that plug. *sigh*

So am I just odd, or is that a plausible description for what everybody experiences when they feel stressed?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Unique Family Pictures

I love family pictures. I wish I could afford to do it much more often than I have.

Recently, I made a trade with a friend of mine who is a photographer. He went with us out to a nearby park and took pictures of our family. After he took several different sets of pictures, we changed our clothes and put on our native regalia. Then he took pictures of the family all over again. I think they turned out wonderful!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Relief Effort Service from Carrollton Ward

The Powder Springs Georgia stake of the LDS church is like many other stakes around the southeast region, in that we were asked if we could go and give service to those in nearby areas that suffered from the disastrous tornadoes back on April 27th. Generally, the men were asked to render this service, but our stake president did not turn down any women who wished to assist also. Because of my calling in emergency preparedness and my ham radio license and connections, I was contacted and asked to be a part of it if possible. So this past weekend, like many others in our area, Tommy and I with our son Manti went to Bessemer Alabama to see what we could offer.

We saw nothing along the interstate to indicate there had been a problem, other than a couple signs down. We arrived at the Bessemer stake center and saw nothing to indicate storms there. We went inside and were given t-shirts to identify as a volunteer worker and told to get with our "group"...which normally meant to join up with other members of our ward, but in some cases we were split up. So Tommy and I happened to see Richard Davis across the hallway and he had us join up with him. We rode with him and his father, Bishop Davis in Douglasville, over to the location of our first work order. It was the most winding route you ever saw! Every road was numbered, and to get 11th Street, we had to go down 11th Way and cross 11th Court and 11th Avenue!

Our area was a community called Pleasant Grove. It's actually the same community where my mother and aunt were little girls, and 2 of my uncles and another aunt were born there. So for me, this was an opportunity to take care of my roots. To enter any of the streets that led to the devastated neighborhoods, you had to have a pass on your windshield (and it was best to have a yellow t-shirt too!) that identified you as either a resident or a volunteer associated with a specific group. If you didn't, the National Guard wouldn't let you through. We had the necessary identifiers so we drove into the neighborhoods. Have a look at what we saw as we drove through looking for our assigned address...

We thought that looked pretty rough. I guess in reality, it could be looked at as an opportunity to mentally prepare for what there is still to see, but I didn't feel prepared like that. As we drove further in, I could only gasp and hold my breath.

So sad.
Now these pictures are small for load time reasons, but the reality of them is enormous.

We got to our first house and found Kevin Knox already had a crew working there. We jumped off the road and put on our gloves, getting right to work trying to find the driveway for this house. Trees were all over her backyard and front yard. We cut and piled limbs till about 11:30am Alabama time.

Look there on the right side. See that young girl? That's Sophia...hauling a TREE! Don't tell me girls ain't tough!

Off to our second work order address and look at the change in the neighborhood... gives me chills...

Our assignment didn't seem to have much problem in the front yard. Seeing all the other mess everywhere, we were puzzled for a second as to why we were sent to this one house. The homeowner was at the front door when we pulled up so we asked what we could do to help her. She sent us to the back yard. NOW we understood! This lady had been an avid gardener it seems. She had potted plants strewn all over. Her rose bushes no longer had leaves, and you couldn't see them! You could only feel them when they stabbed you as you pulled the tree limbs and roof shingles off of them. The house next door had lost part of its roof. We found it for the yard WE were working in! We worked and worked for a few hours. We stopped for a lunch break during that, and visited the house across the street. Take a look....

It looks like Stanley is walking across the clear foundation- no floor, no walls, nothing. It's an illusion. This is actually the front porch.

You're right! There's no house attached to this porch!

If you stand on the porch and look down, this is the basement. Nice Snapper mower, huh? I hope the family comes and gets it! So where is the house?.....

It's the green/gray colored building you see Tom looking over at. It's knocked clean off the foundation and emptied completely. I didn't get a picture of it, but there is a closet underneath this cement porch I'm standing on for this picture. The door had blown off, but the contents were still intact. I hope the family (if they were home) hid inside there. It's the only place that wasn't demolished. This is dead center of the eye of this storm. You can tell it because the way the trees look. There is a path cut and all trees that the tornado engulfed look like this- no green, nearly no bark, and few limbs. Check out the neighborhood around this very same house....
Can you read that sign? It says "For Sale, Open Floor Plan"-- yeah, its ALL open floor!

So we finished up this location and went just a little ways down the road. We ended up at the sweetest lady's house! She was a widow lady, and had been saying her prayers pleading with the Lord to send us that day. Ten minutes later, we were knocking at her door. She was an older lady, and just as precious as you can imagine! She worried over us and watched us work.
We had gotten pretty tired, as you can imagine. The sillies started to show a little. As you look at our progress here, notice the antics. I think Barry Barton had something a little hinky in his lunch ;)

See? Maybe Laura will see this and pack his lunch FOR him next time!
I really DID do more than just take pictures...honestly!

At the end of this work order, we talked with the lady. She was so gracious and thanked us profusely. She had no idea how she would be able to pay someone to do that job. She was fighting tears as she talked. She told us about a lady who had been killed just down the road from her and how terrible the whole ordeal had been. She pulled on my heartstring, that's for sure!

When we finished the day, we went back to the church yard and camped out. I've never seen SO many people anxious to be in bed by 9pm in all my life! It was so quiet so fast!

At 6am, people were rolling out and packing up tents. At 6:30am Sunday morning, volunteers had come to the church and were cooking pancakes and bacon for us. We ate and were ushered into the chapel where the Bessemer stake president addressed us. We had a sacrament meeting and one speaker. They took pictures of the group and did a headcount. If we read their lips right, there were around 350 volunteers packed into the chapel and the overflow area. It was so wonderful! We heard there had been accidents too. One in particular we heard through the grapevine... a volunteer had gotten into the whole where a tree's root ball was. He was trying to use his chainsaw to cut the roots loose and when he cut through, the root ball fell on him, crushed him, and he died. He was only 30 years old.

We spent Mother's Day giving relief to others. I feel SO good about my efforts. We had 3 more places we visited, and all members of our ward worked together this time. We were so blessed, and I will never forget this.

We counted 34 members of our ward participating, but the blessings bestowed on all are countless!