Thursday, April 30, 2009

Utah Trip 4/23 to 4/28

Well, I'm back in Keokuk. A 24-hour shift later, and it's time to post my latest trip out to Utah to see Aryn & Quinn. Although the time gap between this trip and my last trip was much smaller than my previous visit, it still always seems like a long time in between visits. Aryn greeted me with her usual heart-melting hug and smile. Quinn looked at me with a "do I know you?" suspicious stare. It only took Quinn a couple of minutes (and perhaps a little jealousy when Aryn was getting her hug) however, to quickly run over and get in on the action. I was hoping for better weather because it's much easier to find activities for the kids when I can include outdoors, but winter was still trying to hold on out in Utah, and overall we had a mixed bag of sunshine, clouds, rain, and even snow. Aunt Kathee and Uncle Dave were gracious enough to host me again, and we started the visit by just playing at their house, but then filled out the week with trips to Rock Canyon, Hogle Zoo, Discovery Museum, Sugarhouse Park, and of course plenty of time in Alpine.
In Provo at Aunt Kathee and Uncle Dave's

Rock Canyon

We played by the BYU football stadium with lots of grassy hills to
run and roll down and even a cougar to climb on.
Of course, a lot of time was spent at Sara's in beautiful Alpine, and she is
always gracious at letting us play there and feeding us yummy meals.

We spent a chilly day at Hogle Zoo where the kids got to see
their favorite animals-- giraffes (Aryn) and birds (Quinn)

Discovery Museum in the Gateway Mall in Salt Lake City

Sugarhouse Park
enjoying the playground, ducks, geese and sunshine.

It was a really wonderful visit. The kids are just so much fun to be with, and this trip I got to spend five days instead of three or four. I'm so grateful for a job in which I can pack in all my work into a few days and be able to take off to see the kids without needing to utilize vacation time. I was also glad to have been able to see Grandma Roberts and her beautifully remodeled home, in addition to a few old friends, which made the trip even more enjoyable after the kids got tucked into bed. Aunt Kathee and Uncle Dave are so wonderful and hospitable for letting me crash at their place too. It's going to be a rough 6 weeks before I get to see the kids again. I've chosen to take a visit in May to see Mom instead of the kids, knowing that I will get to spend some good quality time with the kids at the beginning of June in Sedona. So, that's the next trip I'm eagerly awaiting.
AND...Before I'm done, I need to throw a little shout out to my AMAZING sister Kellie, and brother-in-law KC, who both celebrated their birthday while I was away. What wonderful siblings and friends they both are. It seems like just yesterday we were all living together in Royal Farms in Sandy or Holliday or wherever that was. My how times change. :) You guys rock, and I appreciate and value both of your friendship. HAPPY BIRTHDAYS!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Trip to New Mexico

So...after I got back from my trip to Utah on Tuesday night, I worked a 24 hour shift on Wednesday, and then Thursday morning drove back down to St. Louis (the closest major airport) to fly up to Cleveland to pick up the latest memeber of the extended Roberts Family and drive her down to Albuquerque. Her name was Acura. Yes, it was a car. And, I only mention as her part of the greater Roberts family because now, finally, KC feels that his family is complete. When I heard they bought their new car, I volunteered to pick it up and drive it out to them rather than have them pay to transport it there. I figure if they're going to pay for anything, let me come out and see them, and pay for me to get back to Iowa. It worked out wonderfully! ...I got a nice (most of the time) relaxing drive across the country, listened to some good music, and more than anything else got to spend a few days with my wonderful parents, sister, brother-in-law, and neice and nephew.

What made this trip even more satisfying was being able to spend some time with my amazing mother who had started chemotherapy for another battle with cancer a few days before I arrived. Mom was recently diagnosed with liver cancer (after already surviving Round 1 with colon cancer 5 years ago), and is gracefully battling it again with the same faith, grace, and strength as she did the first time. I love her soooo much and hope she is in everyone's prayers to beat this again! You can do it, Mom!

March trip to Utah

It's official. I stink at blogging these days. I'm not sure if it's just that my life is pretty uneventful these days and the only things I think that are noteworthy are related to the lives of my children. Or maybe they're just much more photogenic than I am, and since I don't see them often, AND blog posts without pictures aren't nearly as fun, I figure why post anything that doesn't include the latest and greatest pictures of them. Regardless, if you still check my blog once in a while for a new posting....I apologize.

So, the latest...

I was able to get out to see Aryn and Quinn back in late March. It is always so great to see them and they are just as adorable as ever. Winter has been holding on in Utah with both hands and just not letting go, so the coldness has been a bit restrictive when I'm there. However, we have been able to spend time at their favorite library (in Draper), swim in Lehi's indoor pool, and we played at my good Aunt Kathee and Uncle Dave's house for a while too. (Thanks so much to both for being so hospitable and letting me crash there!) Aryn is always just dreamy for me and we have so much fun being able to express our love for each other and just how much we've missed playing house together, me being her handsome prince, reading stories, or her telling her stories. She is without a doubt my "precious angel", and she's a great big sister to Quinn.

When I saw Quinn this time, he looked longer and older. He is definitely growing up and is so fun to chase around and make laugh (which isn't hard to do). He loves to follow his sister around and explore things. He is a "gadget guy" and likes to play with phones and tools and light sockets. At the library he prefers the computers to books. He has an infectious smile and brightens the day of whoever is around him. His health is much improved as well and he seems to be growing out of his laryngomalacia as the doctor's predicted.

Another bonus last visit was being able to celebrate my Grandma Roberts's 83rd birthday. She is such an amazing woman! Despite some recent setbacks with her health (a broken arm, arthritis, etc.) she still manages to live completely independently, and not only that, but she continues to not only shovel her own sidewalks and mow her own lawns, but those of her neighbors also. She has more children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren than I count, but she remembers to call every one on their birthday (usually in the morning) and sing them her distinctive version of "Happy Birthday". Grandma, we love you.

Back in Keokuk, things are all right. I have recently changed my position at Midwest Academy from Shift Leader to Family Representative. I view it more as a lateral movement than moving up or down. However, it does allow me to be more involved and responsible for the progress of specific students on my caseload, as well as work with their parents and families to "keep them on board". I am excited to have a deeper level of connection with the boys and their families, and think it will actually fit my personality and my motivations for being at the school more closely. I am excited about it and already have eight boys on my caseload to try and turn into solid young men.