Friday, November 12, 2010

Freckles and Faith

I started writing this for a short story competition for LDS Radio a few months ago. I didn't finish it in time to submit it, so I thought I'd put it up here. The theme was a fictional story about the pioneers or early days in the church. Enjoy.
Freckles and Faith
The glare of the rising sun made the small figure seem miles away. A loud whistle woke the sauntering old mare into a gallop and less than 5 minutes later John could see a tattered blue dress, yellow-brown stockings and a set of long pigtails all of which belonged to a little girl.

"Hey," he screamed as he pulled back on the reigns. "What are you doing?"

Startled the little girl stepped away from the river and squeezed her knitted doll close to her chest.

"You can't get in that," John pointed to the seemingly innocent river. "It's too cold; you'll freeze, and besides the current is too strong for you."

He dismounted to the relief of the heavily panting mare.

"I just wanted a drink. I am very thirsty." She said sheepishly.

John pulled the half full canteen from his saddle bag and dipped into the cold river.

"Where are your parents?" He asked offering the canteen.

She snatched the cold container and emptied nearly half of its contents. When she finished she pointed to the west.

She smiled and with a tone of a girl playing tea she said, "They said they were going to Zion."

"Zion," John wiped the beads of sweat from his brow. The word had a way of nagging him only second to his mother reminding him of his chores every 5 minutes. His eyes focused on the mighty Rockies. He shivered at the thought of passing over them a third time. "That would truly be hell" he said under his breath.

"So when will they be back?" The small freckles spotting both sides of her nose, her deep blue eyes and the innocent way she carried herself was very peculiar. She stood there clinging to her doll, yet showing no signs of fear. Her head bobbing slightly side to side and her feet fidgeted as if her shoes were denying her great desire to dance. As he waited for her response John searched his limited memories for any hint of having met her before. There was nothing. This was the first time he had ever seen this little girl, or any girl even like her for that matter. She was unique, and immediately he felt a certain bond with her. It compared only to the bond with Jeffery. He quickly brushed Jeffery from his thoughts, and the pain he felt by abandoning his kid brother.

"Not sure," Her response lacked any concern, "I haven't seen my mother in a few days, and I haven't seen my father in a very long time."

"What do you mean a very long time?"

"If I could remember when I saw him last I'd tell you silly." She brushed the red yarn representing the dolls hair playfully. "How much farther?"

"Farther for what?" John pulled off his hat and began scratching his blond head. He had never been so confused.

"To Zion," She laughed, "What else would I be talking about?"

"The guy is pretty silly Molly." She confided in her doll.

John replaced his hat and sat in the dirt next to her and stared. He stroked the soft blond hairs poking through his seventeen year old chin. Such a simple question should not be the cause of such confusion. As he forced his mind to accept what she was suggesting the little girl took a step towards the horse, set Molly neatly on a rock next to the sweaty animal and began hopping. She continued this until she knocked the canteen from the bag. Once the canteen was securely around her neck she picked up her brown leather satchel put Molly inside and then looked back at John.

"I hope you don't mind," she motioned to the canteen. Without further notice she started back up the trail John had just come down.

He watched as she slowly made her way back up the hill. The muscles in his body were irresponsive to her abrupt decision; they were confident that she would turn around any minute. No person, let alone a little girl, would consciously make the decision she is making. For five minutes he waited for any sign that she would turn around, but nothing. It was inconceivable, and he was becoming angry. He couldn't allow this. He couldn't allow her to walk off to her death. So he stood and ran after her.

"Hey what do you think you are doing?" The question was finish just as he fell in stride with her.

"Walking, duh" she said giggling.

"You can't just try and go through those mountains, you'll die."

"No I won't." Her words came without hesitation.

He threw his hands in the air completely befuddled. "This is crazy," he said to himself. Then he jumped in front of her and knelt down to her level.

"I know you want to see your parents, but it is already late fall. You are guaranteed to be caught in an early winter storm and you WILL freeze to death." His conjured up his best serious face. "So you will come with me and I'll find a family for you to stay with until the first companies leave next spring." He was now gently holding her shoulders hopeful that she would recognize her dire situation.

She tapped her forefinger on her chin for a moment, making quite the show of her deep contemplation. The she pulled Molly from her bag and whispered something. After allowing Molly a moment to think she raised Molly to her ear and listened carefully.

"No," She said with a smile and stepped around John.

Once again John watched as this time she skipped up the trail singing one of the torturous hymns he's being trying to purge from his mind.

"What do you mean, no?" He stopped her again.

"Listen, you." She looked straight into his eyes. "I was told that my parents would be in Zion. And I am going there."

"You'll never make it." He said softly trying to appeal to her innocence.

She laughed, "You are silly, you think that God can't keep me safe. You think that He would let me down. "

Then she changed her tone again and looked deep into his eyes. John felt her blue eyes penetrate into what spirit he had left.

"I'm very sorry for you mister. So, so, sorry." The she wrapped her little arms around his neck and held him. The embrace only lasted a moment, but John felt something he hadn't experience before. She gently pushed him away and smiled at him. It was a genuine love that he recognized, but couldn't place.

"I. . uh." He could say nothing. He saw the compassion in her eyes, the sorrow in her face, for to her it was him that was walking off to his death.

She sidestepped him once again and continued humming. She didn't look back. He slowly turned and watched for a second time as she walked away. But this was different. He still knew that if she left now she wouldn't survive, and it would be his fault. He turned back down the trail, his mind exploding with thoughts. He passed the last handcart company a few days back. If he hurried he could catch them. But it would be too late to turn back east. He would have to go back to Salt Lake for the winter. The agony of giving up on his dreams, his freedom and his life were weighing down his every step. Once he rose back into his saddle he saw her disappear behind a large outcropping of rocks. He dropped his shoulders pulled back on the reigns, and after turning the horse around galloped back up the hill.

"Get on," He reached down his hand as he pulled alongside her. "I'll take you to the last company; they can help you find your parents."

She reached her hand out and accepted the offer, and to his surprise she said, "I knew you'd come back."

They caught up with the company two days later and just as he reached the last wagon, a girl about his age turned and waited. He felt a sharp pointing in his back.

"What," he asked his tiny passenger.

"I have to go," She whispered. "You know." It took him a minute to recognize what her wrenched face was implying.

"Oh," he said and helped her down. She ran off into a cluster of trees.

John walked up to the older girl who had turned around. As he drew closer he could see in her eyes something eerily similar. Small faded freckles, deep blue eyes and a smile that brought to life feelings he had never experienced. Her reaction to him was just the same. When the two teenagers came within a few steps of each other they stood motionless looking into each other's eyes.

"Hi," John muttered.

"Hi," She replied.

"I'm looking for this girl's parents." He pointed to the clump of trees she was using for privacy. His words seemed to be coming from somewhere else. He was too focused on her eyes to conjure any ability for a coherent sentence.

She smiled, acknowledging his request. Then they waited for the little girl to emerge from the trees. After a few more seconds, John passed along an awkward smile and ran towards the last place he saw her. The girl followed. As they turned around the largest tree he saw Molly lying on the dirt face down. John picked up the doll.

"Molly?" He said inquisitively as he picked it up.

"How did you know my name?" The girl asked in shock.

John turned to her revealing what he was holding. Her mouth dropped open. And she took the doll from his hands.

"How did you get this?" She examined the doll closely.

"It was hers, the little girl's."

Molly's eyes began to turn red. As she held the doll close to her heart tears slowly formed. "My name is Molly and I gave this doll to a little girl two days ago. She was the sweetest thing I had ever met. She was searching for her parents. I had never seen her before, but it felt like I had known her all my life. The way she looked at me. Her eyes could see into my heart. It was like I was the one she was looking for."

Molly wiped her tears with her sleeve. "After I gave her the doll I couldn't find her. She sort of disappeared."

The words prodded deep into John's heart, and the earlier memory of the little girl's compassionate hug flooded his mind. He could now easily place the love he felt from her at that moment, it was that of finding something once thought to be lost. That is why she wasn't afraid, he thought. She came for me. To find me. Her father.

Suddenly John's eyes opened to see his life clearly. It was a flash, but everything came together perfectly clear. Not only did he see what others had been trying to help him see, but he felt it deep inside. His eyes flashed upward and his lips formed into a smile he'd been suppressing for 17 years. A tiny face full of freckles and faith has just changed him forever, and it wouldn't be the last time that little girl would impact his life. His eyes refocused on Molly and with full confidence he reached out his hand, "Hi Molly, my name is John."

Her face beaming, she interlocked her fingers with his and just as expected, they were a perfect fit.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Grandpa's and Vomit

I held on as tightly an eight year old could, but my very unfamiliar cousin was unaware that the strings on the back of the saddle were not intended has handlebars for a second rider. He decided to kick old Pal into high gear and that is when I bailed. Unfortunately my ungraceful fall was face first into the recently cut alfalfa. When Grandpa Myler saw me lying on the couch he said what any Idaho-aged farmer would say, "What the hell are you doing? Quit your crying and get back out there." As the youngest of 7 children I don't have many memories with either of my grandfathers, but those I do have I will cherish forever.

Grandpa Hess 1989
This month marks 5 years since my father has passed away. The last few years of his life were wrought with pain, discomfort and despair. It was extremely difficult for all of us to see how such a large, strong man could be decimated by disease. In February of that year he had his second open heart surgery to replace a valve. Against all our hopes he never fully recovered from this surgery. He was in and out of the hospital from that time until his passing in November. Kade was born that same year in August and though I knew that he would never know who my dad really was, I hoped that Kaden would grow old enough to at least remember him. As we neared the day of Kaden's blessing I became even more concerned that his health would prevent my dad from participating. But by some miracle both of Kaden's grandfather's stood in the circle that day. It wasn't much, but Kaden will always know that his grandpa Hess was there for him that day. I will always be saddened that Kaden will have to wait until after this life to be with grandpa Hess, for he was a truly great man.

Grandpa Thatcher 2010
My sadness for that loss has been quelled this weekend by the loving acts of his other grandpa. As we sat in the kitchen Saturday Sid said, "I think I'll go down to California." In a not so serious manner I replied, "Oh good you can take Kaden with you." So an hour later there we were loading their brand new car full of treats and movies to keep Kaden occupied for the 12 hour drive. MaRea and I were excited for the opportunity that Kaden had to have Grandpa Thatcher all to himself. MaRea was especially excited for she knew how much fun a road trip with Grandpa was. We anxiously waited to hear about their trip. The next morning when we called Sid and asked about their drive, to our surprise, he said it didn't go so good. Kaden had vomited in their brand new car. I began to get very nervous that it made the trip miserable for Sid, but before we could beg his forgiveness for our weak stomached boy he said, "Its all our fault. We fed him all sorts of crap. And when we stopped I got him some more crap. I never got anything healthy for him." You could tell in his voice that he was sincere and that he wasn't disgusted by the mess Kaden made, he was only concerned about helping him. After a stop to clean up what he could of the disaster, Kaden fell asleep and they finished the drive. As we talked with Sid he was happy to report that Kaden's carseat had been stripped, washed and was hanging out to dry, and with what seemed like a bit more pride that Kaden was the first kid awake that morning. Of course Kaden was off playing with his cousins and had no interest in talking to us.

Knowing that your children are loved by others may be the most gratifying experience as a parent. But to see those acts of love in motion will endure the doer of such acts to your heart forever. I will be forever grateful that Kaden will have this memory and many others with a Grandpa that will be there for him, teaching him, loving him and of course making him laugh.

Monday, October 4, 2010

General Conference

Inspiring words, chicken fettucine alfredo, cinimmon rolls.
General conference was perfect!

Could Kyle be any more attractive than making Cinnimon rolls, nope! They are to die for.
Kyle, is the baker in the house, too cute!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I married a Maven!

There we were, MaRea, her friend, three or four giddy kids, and me. The line into Lego Land wasn't very long, but my "theme park anxiety" was growing. On occasion I experience an uneasy feeling when we pass through a ticket counter, register or checkout line. This was one of those occasions. At this point MaRea, who never gets that feeling, was shining with pride, because her plan for half price entrance was seconds away from fruition. Then without any warning she approaches couple with two small kids and offers them the remaining spots in our coupons. Once pass the awkwardness of her invitation they gladly joined our group. After a short explanation to the confused teenager behind the glass, all ten of us enter the park for the price of five. You should have seen the smiles on those parent's face. I bet they enjoyed their time at Lego Land more than expected that day.

This story has many versions with MaRea, unfortunately I don't remember them all, but she will. Also if you asked her about, her shampoo deal, her washer and dryer, her Iphones, her Progresso soup, her Toaster Strudels, Dyson, never ending boxes of cereal, . . . (you get the point), she'd have an equally amazing story about the price, location, effort and result of the deal. One time we bought $600 of groceries for less than $30, (I'm sure she'll correct my numbers later). Most of you already know this about MaRea, but what amazed me was last night about 11:30pm I finally put a name to her obsession.

She is a "Marketplace Maven." I read this term in Malcom Gladwell's book "The Tipping Point." He describes a Maven as an "information broker" or someone who is "almost pathologically helpful." There you have it, that's my wife, "pathologically helpful." She can't help it. She can't allow someone to overpay or get less than they should. She will speak up, she will email, call, text or even come to your house if necessary to share her information.

At times I wondered if this ever annoys people, but after reading Gladwell's description I've realized a greater appreciation for MaRea. She never gives her advice or help expecting anything in return. This is not about her feeling good. It is about helping everyone else. If you ask her how much you should pay for (insert any arbitrary item) she will either give you exact details, or spend her first available minute on the internet finding out. I have many times sat by as she has helped someone who didn't seem interested . It doesn't matter, she'll still help. She isn't trying to brag or make herself seem over important. An opportunity to help is never passed, even if the one being helped is extremely wealthy. Even the rich need a deal!

I know everyone of you at one point have benefitted from her efforts. Just take a minute and think, it may have been a while ago or maybe you brushed off her help as unnecessary, but if you try hard enough I bet that most all of you can think of at least one thing she has told you, showed you, or done for that has saved you a lot of money, time or effort. I urge you not to take our own "marketplace maven" for granted. If you do not seek her help or knowledge she will hunt you down and give it to you, because it WILL be of benefit. And next time she calls you with some juicy nuggets, be aware that she has probably spent a few hours researching those nuggets just with you in mind. If you don't take her seriously, you might run the risk of losing what would be a great benefit in your life. Next time you get a call or a text from her, I urge you to sit up straight, put down the remote or book, grab a pen and paper, because what she has to share should not be taken lightly. If you are one of the lucky ones she has helped take a minute and tell us how.

So to my beloved Marketplace Maven, thanks for all you do for us. We know it costs you sleepless nights, anxiety and some miserable trips to the store, but we are forever grateful and will continue to seek your counsel, for surely there is wisdom to be had.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Monday, May 3, 2010

April Overload

Easter Party

Avery made a really cute little bunny, for a minute. She had such a fun time eating candy and playing with the big kids.

Marsha had a killer Easter Party for the kids. These little cupcakes were to die for, coconut makes everything good. Such cute ides for cupcakes, bird nest, baby chick, and a rabbit. It was activity after activity of complete joy. They made an easter basket out of ribbon and paper plates, colored eggs, hit a pinata, played games, and decorated cupcakes.

This little bunny, would eat the candy off the cupcake as fast as I put it on. I don't blame her.


We had a great time at the Aquarium with Max and Hudson. I think it is such a wonderful thing that our kids get to see and handle mother nature. You can touch the sting ray, star fish and other stinky wet things.

These two already have the hots for each other. How could they not they are both the cutest kids alive.
Avery could not get enough of the aquarium. She was talking up a storm. If only I new what she was saying. Her sweet little voice with complete and utter amazement of all Gods creations. Such gratitude these little souls show!

My little monkey!

Baby Animal Day

I loved this old Mountain Man, doesn't he look so authentic! Kade was a little intimidated by his stature. He was unsure about getting that close, he manned up and got a quick photo. I love the passion Kade has for life!

Sweet little baby duck .

Who would think that a baby calf is cool, when you see them everywhere? Kade loved, this stinky, dirty animal.

Pigs are such ugly little things, but we all think they are cute, weird? I loved watching Kade immerse himself in the joy and innocence of new life. Spring, what a beautiful time of year, it brings hope, new life, light, warmth, and kids playing outside.

Girls Vegas Trip

We had a wonderful time leaving our kids and husbands at home and chilling with nothing to do but, relax! I loved sitting by the pool with treats, drinks, music, and great friends. My most favorite part of any trip is to people watch. I could do that all day long, people are so interesting. Thanks Jill, for the sweet hook-up at the Venetian hotel.

Happy Anniversary

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Skiing The Beav

We took the kids up skiing to Beaver Mountain Saturday. It was the perfect day for skiing, I was in my element of pure joy! It was my favorite memory of our family to date.

Kade just wanted to go down Little Beaver FAST! He had no interest in turning or stopping to take any pictures. That is his angry face, such a cute boy. Avery is not smiling at the moment but she loved it.

This is only his 2nd time going and he LOVED every minute of it. I was a little amazed at how well he did. He is not the most coordinated child so I was worried that we would be staying on the magic carpet all day. The thing I love about Kaden is his attitude about everything. He is so determined to learn and be happy doing so. He had a huge smile on his face all day, I love that little man!

I could not get enough of Avery on skis. It was so cute she would giggle as we would ski down the mountain. She was so happy all day. She went without a single nap and never cried once. I caught her zoning out a few times. The lifties said she was the youngest they had seen on skis.

I took this picture of Kyle and Avery it was worth a thousand words. I knew I would love it. There are some pictures you just take and know they will be great. All my hopes for this picture were shattered. My camera settings got changed on accident resulting in an overexposed picture:(!

It It was The Big Air day at Beaver Mountain. They had ski races and pond skimming. Avery had a good time chilling out with all the ski bums.

I loved watching these two ski together oh, so sweet!

This NEVER happens, Avery has maybe fallen asleep in the car 4 times. It was a sight to see. I think we need to take her up skiing more often!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Happy Saint Patricks Day

Brynlee with her Saint Patricks Crown

Avery doning her sideways smile. She looks just like little Cindy Lou Who.

The Boys enjoying their green dinner. I enjoy it more than they do, the whole anticipation and planning for such a fun day makes me happy . There is nothing better than seeing my childs smile filled with complete JOY and utter happiness!

Green Eggs and Ham. I finally figured out how to make the eggs look like Sam I Am's. Fill a spray bottle with green food coloring and spray it on the eggs. It only took three years to figure it out.

We made our Cereal and milk green for breakfast. Kade's favorite color is GREEN, I think his new favorite holiday just might be Saint Patrick's Day

Who else, other than Grandma is fit to read Green Eggs and Ham to the kids!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Can I go to the Funeral with Jack?"

I have been meaning to document this sweet conversation with Kade. He loves to talk and think about heaven. His Grandpa Hess passed away when he was just a few months old, this has given us several opportunities to talk about what happens when we die. I guess we still need to work on a few things?

Kade: Where's Jack going mommy?
MaRea: A funeral.
Kade: What's a funeral?
MaRea: When someone dies everyone gets together and share their love for that person.
Kade: You mean Jack gets to go to heaven?!!!! I want to go to heaven too, can I go?
MaRea: No he doesn't get to go to heaven, the person who dies gets to go to heaven, like grandpa Hess. Those who love that person gather to talk about him, then we bury the body in the ground.
Kade: Oh mommy I love digging can I go, I can bury him.
MaRea: No, I don't think they want a 4 year old digging the grave.
Kade: Mommy I have my very own shovel!
MaRea; Kade look at the ground it's frozen, it would be really hard to dig!
Kade: And cold mommy!

This smile kills me, she reminds me of the little girl from the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

I read Nie