Monday, March 5, 2012

Tears that don't stop.

It's something you talk about. Something you know will happen. Something you dread. And then. The day comes. The hour comes. And the phone call comes. And the words make no sense. How can Terry be dead? What? What? What? Why does my voice sound so far away? Danny's too. Why can't I understand what he is saying. What happened. What we do now.

Losing a parent is something that we know will likely happen. The odds are anyway. When it happens to other people. To friends. To family. We express our condolences. And our hearts hurt for them. And we, very secretly, exhale to know that it is not us. Because we cannot imagine. Besides, we have time.


On January 20, 2012, Spencer's dad, Terry Jack Anderson, died. He died at 56 years old. He died at home. In his bed. Married to a woman he loved so deeply. A woman who loved him so truly for who he was. He died the father of 6 children. The grandfather of 9 children. He died an artist, a gun lover, a knife lover, a Harley lover, a dog lover and a people lover.

That phone call will never leave me. The time afterward that I had to calm my voice enough to call Spencer. Spencer who was an hour away. An eternity away, at work. I had to tell him that the man who had raised him and whose nose he bears and memories he shares, had died. The same what, what, what, I don't understand followed. And then, to tell Isabel. And her friend. Some playdate.

We would leave immediately. We need to be there. Had to be there. Had to see siblings. Had to see Tami. Had to be in his house. To soak of any last bit of him that was there. Time came in extremes. Slowing and spinning. Weather fought against us. Fitful hours (few) of sleep and we were on the road for real. Ironically, through the same central Utah that had raised each of us. Alternately crying and talking and being silent. We could not get there fast enough.

My heart ached for the grandfather and the father-in-law that I knew. My heart broke for my husband and his siblings. For Tami. For the entire family. How could this be?

And when we got there, the four oldest siblings arriving nearly in unison, and hugged and nearly collapsed with grief together, but didn't, it felt a little better. But the tears wouldn't stop. How could this be? How could we have missed the chance to say it, or that, or anything. We didn't take the time that we should have or we didn't have the chance that we wanted. What about the grandkids? What about a love so true that they were still "boyfriend and girlfriend"?

Time continued in spits and spurts. There was planning and decisions and choices and programs to arrange. All things that anyone in that condition should not have to do. But you do. When it's your parent, you don't get to just show up. You have to do. All the while, doing together. Doing their best to do together and to just be. Be together.

I don't want this post to necessarily be about remembering the program or the casket or the flowers. Although, it was all perfect. Spencer agonized over delivering the perfect life sketch and euology. The one that represented the dad that each of the siblings and Tami knew and loved. That represented him in all phases of his family and life. And he did a wonderful job. At what may have been the hardest thing he's ever done. But I want this to be about what kept rolling through our heads. And what we kept saying. At least we're all together. To see all of the grandkids together, every last one of them. And to hear their joyful noise. And to hug and hug and hug some more.

This past summer, Melissa Rae (younger of the Melissa sisters) was married. It was, in a word, beautiful. Everything about it. But, more than that, was the feeling that weekend...this is us. We are a family. We are a family of divorce and remarriage and steps and adoption and more adoption. We are all over the country, from Utah to NYC. We are a personal banker, moms, a nurse, a therapist, students, dads, managers, artists, runners, readers, crafters, climbers, homeschoolers and so much more. And we are just us. We are funny. We laugh together. That day was beautiful. Terry was so palpably proud. His family was growing even more.

As our family was together for that week in grief, the same thing was rolling through my head and was verbalized by others. Terry would have loved us all together. (He would not have loved the fuss and the crying, however.) He would have loved to see us all laughing and see the kids all playing. He would have taken a moment to talk to each one of us. To ask how work is, to ask how climbing is, to ask how school is, to talk about hockey, fishing, working out, running. Whatever he knew you cared about. And he would have been proud. Proud of the family he had brought together. Proud of the choices his children were making and the places they are at in their lives. Proud of his growing grandchildren. Proud of his amazing and hilarious and bright and funny wife. And, undoubtedly, there would have been some sort of antics. 200 goldfish in a swimming pool for the kids to catch (and the dogs to eat!), dog training class for a grandchild, a carp and some hot dogs, sneaking strawberries to dip in a vat of powdered sugar, chocolate croissants for breakfast, and a model Harley (or 6) given to a grandchild.

Life will never be the same. Today is the first day that I feel like I have some grasp of time in its normal sequence and speed again. Last night, we stumbled on a picture of Terry reading to 3 year old Milo and Isabel and it brought tears again. Recent pictures are still too hard to look at. We have a stack of Terry's artwork in our living room. Waiting to be reframed and hung as a collection. So that we can remember. Every day. So that we have something beautiful to remind us of what he was, what he was passionate about, and what we take away from all of this.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Once upon a time...

Once upon a time ago...we moved.

We had been in our cute little house since grad school (almost 6 years) and had loved almost every second of it. We mostly didn't love the seconds we spent waiting in line for the bathroom (only one. for five peeps.). We also didn't so much love how crowded our guests felt when they stayed with us (1000 square feet).

So, we agonized and prayed and agonized some more. This isn't really a "pick up and move" economy. Also, I moved and changed schools quite a few times as a kid. Some might say that it strengthed them. I would not say that for myself. We really wanted to move to a home where we would be able to stay for...well, forever, if we needed/wanted to do so.

So, we cleaned up, fixed, and staged our cute little house. Then, we put it on the market. And BAM it sold. Yikes. Sold super fast. And then it was time to find a new house. After seeing no fewer than 30 houses (not joking) we found the one that was meant for us. Or so we hoped.

We're still in the Fort. We've just moved further south (shortening Spencer's commute). We love our house. We love our neighborhood. We love our ward (congregation).
We also really, really, really love our fireplace. :) Come and visit us?

Our cute little old house. Sorry, you can't really see it. We had just that many trees. It was fantastic except for the months of September and October.

Once upon a time...this little guy continued intensive speech therapy for his apraxia. We feel so fortunate to have connected with Susan, our speech language pathologist (through our pedi, whose son has a hearing impairment). She has been amazing. Just what Keeler needs in all ways.

Having a toddler who cannot communicate his needs/wants/frustrations/observations through speech was so challenging and so heartbreaking on many days. Sign language has been a life-saving bridge for us. Keeler had a pretty extensive signing vocabulary within 2 months of working with Susan. Seeing him get SO excited about a book and sign his way through it with Susan for the first time was so amazing and so heart breaking all at once. To think that he had probably been dying to participate and communicate with us...

Keeler has made great progress--much better and faster than we ever thought he would in this period of time! His speech vocabulary is extensive now (and he uses signs only when really frustrated with us). We are still working on enunciation and on using more than 1-2 words at a time. He is being evaluated for an early intervention preschool where he would have a speech language pathologist in the classroom with his every day (once he turns 3). We're crossing our fingers that he qualifies!

Once upon a time...Milo kept playing soccer. He played both spring and (now) fall and continues to love it. I am so impressed with Milo's determination and his team spirit. Milo's diffuse hypotonia (low muscle tone) makes running very challenging for him, but he keeps up and loves it! Soccer this fall has been made extra-spectacular by the prescription sports sunglasses he's sporting above. Try not to be jealous.

Milo has also developed a serious love of any and all reading. It's pretty much adorable and he impresses us with the number of books he is plowing through.

Milo was really sick in late spring. Really darn sick. It was so sad and so frustrating because we just couldn't seem to get him over it. Ugh. He also had quite a bit of residual back pain related to all of the coughing and struggling to breath. If I wasn't a firm believer in massage therapy (which I was and am), Milo would have converted me. A fellow mom in our area is an absolutely amazing massage therapist and works with children as well as adults. She worked WONDERS for Milo. It was really, really incredible to watch and to see the improvement.

Once upon a time...Isabel did not play soccer this fall (my fault--registration goof up) and she was pretty much devastated. That's a far cry from shouting at me "Mom, why did you make me play soccer anyway?? You know I've always wanted to be a ballerina!!!". (Whoa. Kindergarten girls are a challenge right?) Instead, this fall she's putting her focus on ballet. She auditioned for and got a part in a local production of the Nutcracker. It's at the big (relatively speaking) theater in town and is really a pretty big deal for a 7 1/2 year old. Heaven help me.

Reading has also really started to "click" for Isabel. It took us so long to get her vision properly corrected that reading was really very challenging and frustrating for her last year. This year, it's been a completely different ballgame. Phew.

Also, this girl loves to craft so much and it is completely adorable. She has taken sewing classes and needle felting (what? I didn't know what it was either.) classes and nearly bursts with excitement over every one of them.

Once upon a time...these nuts started a new school. We are pretty much in love with the new school, the principal, their teacher AND (most importantly) our 1/2 block walk to school. This school feels like a much better fit for each of them and, after the struggles Isabel had at the beginning of first grade, second grade has been fantastic so far!

Once upon a time....we did some normal (read: non-traveling) summer things like master bike riding (twins), ride to our new park, ride skateboards (Keeler?? He's TWO.) and ride scooters (again, Keeler. TWO.) and swim with friends. Milo and Isabel took a month's worth of swimming lessons and are pretty water safe at this point. Good thing because Keeler is pretty positive that he can swim (and that I am constantly holding him back from his swimstar potential). As you can imagine, this results in a great deal of (my) time spent restraining him or watching him like a hawk.

Once upon a time...I ran another marathon. I tied my first marathon time but had much more fun this time around. I ran and trained with Allyson, a fellow nurse and my most frequent running partner, and Shikay, my marathon partner from last summer and one of my oldest and bestest friends.

The entire weekend was a blast. No kids (sorry children) and no responsibilities other than running, eating, drinking, and sleeping? Awesome.

This, sadly, will forever be known as "the marathon that Erin overtrained". Bah. I did not follow my own advice and crosstrain, crosstrain, crosstrain. Instead, I ran and ran and ran. And, I developed plantar fasciitis. Bah!! Good news is that it is healing. The bad (really bad for me) news is that I have had to nearly stop running completely to heal it. I have my sights on a few spring races and am praying that I am well enough to do them. (Let's be honest, my family probably is too. Running really is my sanity saver.)

We're slowly but surely catching up here aren't we?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Maple Canyon Climbing

This post could also be titled "Guys Vacation vs. Girls Vacation". Within this post, we would discuss the differences between the vacation that Sherri (Spencer's rock climbing BFF's wife) and I were on vs. the vacation that Spencer and his rock climbing BFF (Dad) were on. It would involve driving 9 hours with two crying babies vs. rock climbing all day long. It would involve wandering around Ikea with two babies vs. rock climbing all day long. It would also involve breast-feeding at a truckstop (Sherri), stopping at a lavendar farm, buying ice cream even though you know you are lactose intolerant (me) and driving 9 more hours back home with two crying babies oh and breastfeeding on the side of the freeway right next to a coyote head stuck on a fence vs....rock climbing all day. :) Despite the vast differences, it was really an awesome time. We would travel with these two (and their baby, Conrad) any time.

We went to Maple Canyon, Utah. Maple Canyon is an international climbing destination located right outside the teeny tiny farming town of Fountain Green, Utah. How anyone ever discovered that there was climbing up there, I have no idea.

Spencer's mom and sister and nieces even met us there for a few days but, somehow, I have no photographic evidence of that?? You'll just have to trust me that it was awesomeness.

Stay tuned 'til the end of the post for a funny story about my first booger-eating kid. :(

The infamous Dan climbing.

Nicest, funniest guy ever. Also happens to know every climber in the state of Colorado.

Hanging out in Spencer's Father's Day present--a lightweight and packable 2 person hammock. Conrad and Milo are adorable. Spencer's pretty cute too.
Milo was in heaven on this trip; cousins, climbing, and mountains.

That tiny speck in the distance is Milo on a rope swing that Dan and Spencer made on one of the climbing routes. Swinging from rope (in a harness) is pretty much the funnnest thing ever if you are an Anderson kid.

Spencer waaaaayyy up high on a climb.

Looking up one of the crazy offshoots of Maple Canyon.

We went for a family hike through here. The rocky bottom didn't make it very toddler-friendly.

Hmmm...Spencer? Dan? Not sure. But it's pretty cool either way.

Dan showing how narrow the canyon offshoot was in some spots.

Sherri and I looking like an ad for Ergo carriers. :)

Adorable and amazing Red Apple Cottage where we stayed.

This was in the town of Fountain Green, Utah. It was spotless, roomy, cool, and well stocked. There was a HUGE yard, a firepit, a barbeque and more than enough room for all of us. The kids favorite part? The loft that was up a very narrow and very steep staircase. They slept and played up there. Super fun.

Spencer helping the kids up to a crazy cave with some Native American petroglyphs in it.

The view out the car window on the way from Fountain Green to Maple Canyon. It was so green and so beautiful. I ran here too and it was stunning. I felt like I was running through a postcard.

Apparently, for just 25 cents you can buy hours of entertainment and embarassment (for your wife) at the delicious little Mexican restaurant in Fountain Green. Fake moustaches? Awesome.

Keeler eat a farmstand peach in the backyard. Sherri and I made it our mission to hit pretty much every single farmstand on our trip. Mission accomplished. We had some amazing fruits and veggies and some...not so amazing.

The cabin came equipped with proper head attire for cooking dinner.

More shots of the canyon on our family hike.

Adorable Conrad in his adorable carrier with his adorable binky. Seriously. The kid is adorable.

Keeler having a picnic on the stairs. He was soooo over having to stay home with the moms and the baby. :) He wore this backpack all day and kept saying "Cime. Peas? Momma? Cime? Daddy". The poor kid just wanted to go climbing too.

Watching out the front door for the dads and kids to get back from climbing.

One of the days that were getting ready to go up to Salt Lake for the day, Sherri was blowdrying her hair and I was watching Conrad and Keeler in the front room. Conrad was being adorable, as usual and Keeler (also normally adorable) was watching a cartoon on PBS. As I was watching him, watch the cartoon and reflecting sweetly on how cute he was and how funny he is when he watches tv (totally tunes EVERYTHING out around him) I watched him pick the MOTHER of all boogers out of his nose and....PUT IT IN HIS MOUTH (like it was no big deal, like he did it all the time). I did what any self-respecting spaz of a mom would do and screamed, "NOOOOOO!! No, no, no, no!!! We do NOT eat our boogers KEELER!!". Well, as you can imagine, my screams did two things. 1. Caused Keeler to immediately jump 4 feet in the air and start sobbing and 2. sent Sherri tearing into the front room with her sopping wet hair yelling "What? What? What happened? Oh my gosh!! What's wrong?!". A few things then happened simultaneously. Keeler began saying (through his sobs), "No momma! No say NO KEELER. No boogers Keeler. DAAAADDDDYYYYY!!!!" and Sherri began saying, "I thought one of them ate rat poison or something! Oh wow. I seriously thought we were going to have to make a trip to that little medical clinic or something. A booger huh?" Some might say that I overreacted. BUT, I know that many others would say that they COMPLETELY understand. The boy does not want to be THAT kid. I mean, really. We do not need a booger-eater in this family. You all know booger-eaters at school. Keeler does not want to be that boy. Sherri has assured me that, based on my response to Keeler and his (traumatized) response to me, she is pretty darn sure that he will never eat a booger again. Ever.

P.S. Keeler totally ratted me out to Spencer when he got back from climbing. "Daddy. Mommy. No Keeler. Eat Boogers. No Boogers Keeler. NO MOMMA.".

Pierce (Porter) Family Cabin '11

The tradition of spending a weekend at the Pierce family cabin carried on this summer. Really, it's the Porter family cabin. Confused? Porter is named after his Grandma's family...last name Porter. Now a first name Porter.

We went with the Davises and the Pierces. We've all been friends since our oldest were babies and have been together through babies, adoptions, moves, school, new jobs, and all sorts of other adventures.

These kids are all so funny together. They've known each other for so long and played together so much that they just fall right into rhythm. There's no bickering, no fighting, no whining. It's lovely really. (Except for Keeler and Beckett. We'll talk/laugh about that in a minute.)

Silly kids.

Really Jude is the funniest. A baby who doesn't mind his sister's grubby fishing hands in his mouth assisting in his "silly face". Love it.

Serious kids.
Fishing families.
The cabin is in a gated mountain community with a (stocked) fishing pond and a swimming pool. Yep, it's amazing.

Daddy helping the kids fish.

Porter was the big winner of the trip. He actually caught something. Too bad it was a duck. A really freaked out quacking duck with a whole gaggle of freaking out duck friends.

Anderson kids. Day 3.

Another "coulda been an engagement photo" photo.

No trip to the cabin is complete without s'mores.

Dang "no burn" thing almost killed our buzz. Fortunately, you can just microwave those new giant marshmallows and it's almost as good. Especially once Spencer figured out that it was a microwave/convection oven and quite trying to convect things and started microwaving them instead.

Boy adventures involving lots of sticks, hiking, horseshoes, and Spiderman Rock.

I still don't know what that is/where that is but they went there. Love it when you can tell the kids that they "have to stay within shouting distance".

The girls (Isabel and Laila) were so tired that they put THEMSELVES down for a nap. So funny. We found them all spooned up on the top bunk together like this. 30 minute catnap later and they were ready to rock again.

The property has a stream running through it with a sandy beach. Every trip there involves some sort of reconfiguration of the water flow and building of a waterfall. This one was no exception.

Melissa is truly one of the craftiest and artsiest (yes, it's a word) people that I know. She brought all the supplies and the kids got to tie-dye t-shirts. They've done this together a few times and love it every time. Colorado kids right?

Becket and Keeler in a rare moment of peace.

Laila, Isabel and Porter checking out a caterpillar.

There was so much adventure, bug-catching, hiking, and exploring on this trip. Perfect.

The two year old duo playing in the stream. Wait for it....

Early morning braiding and water play.

We could barely get the kids to eat breakfast before they were out the door playing outside.

And the truth finally comes out.

This would be how these two nuts spent most of the first day of the trip. Keeler shrieking because Beckett is doing something totally benign (say....breathing) or silly (say...pouring water on Keeler's already wet feet). Oh boy. One of our goals in speech therapy has been to help Keeler defend/express himself when he feels threatened by other kids (when playing or at daycare etc.). Let's just say that we had tons of practice on this trip. Turns out, he feels threatened quite often. Like every 5 seconds sometimes. Don't worry grandparents, we've made big strides. Thankfully, Beckett is still willing to be his BFF despite his drama and hystrionics. :) (They are now, officially, in friend love.)

Sage managed to capture one of my favorite "Keeler's thinking" faces.

We call this one, "Proof that Spencer is an Anderson".

(We might also call it "pervy/weird uncle" but only because of the weird stance he's assumed. I mean really.)

Back Pack Nap

Top of the hike. Looking over Colorado Springs. Dads hiked together, kids hiked together, and moms lollygagged behind and talked forever. We feel so blessed to have such amazing friends to share our lives with.

Ready to hike in front of the semi-creepy sign.

Sage was Awesome Mom (as usual) and brought each of the kids a journal and a fun pen so they could write about their trip and take notes on their hike. There was a little misadventure when Porter left his along the trail...and didn't notice for about a mile but, otherwise, they were the best idea ever.

Colorado dads.

Love a man who will rock an Ergo. Love those dang Ergos. Like, really love them. Like, kind of obsessed with them. Best baby carrier ever.

Hiking with Daddy. Keeler is fond of yelling "Back Pack!! Kee'er back pack!". As in, "Put me on your back in the Ergo and hike off into the sunset because that thing is awesome. And give me a stick to distract me or I will poke you in the ears and repeatedly steal your hat."

Isabel on her own private island. Nevermind that it wasn't actually an island. She was still fond of calling it that. And of acting out a variety of scenes from books while over there.

A little shot of the scenery around the cabin. Dirt roads, mountains, and trees. So beautiful.