We had a wonderful week last week, beginning our holiday with an early Thanksgiving dinner with friends and then moving on to our 5 1/2 hour drive to Salt Lake City Thanksgiving morning. We woke up to a VERY cold crisp 20 degree morning with no snow and hot air balloons flying overhead. We have a hot air balloon festival in our town over Thanksgiving weekend and often they fly right over our home, as was the case this weekend. As we loaded up the car we waved to the balloon pilots and yelled out "Happy Thanksgiving"!, and aside from our yells the only sound was their heaters huffing and chuffing as they silently drifted right over our house.
After a few "pit stops" along the way we arrived in Salt Lake City and our crew of 10 looked as if we were a traveling band of gypsies as we unloaded our cars in front of the Marriot (Super inexpensive thanks to Priceline!) and traipsed through the lobby with board games, swimming noodles and Walmart bags in tow. We spent the weekend swimming, walking around Temple Square with thousands of other people to view the glorious display of lights, and doing a little bit of clothes shopping for Matthew who really needed some long sleeved shirts.
That hour spent shopping with him for clothes was a very sweet time for me, as it was the first time he has shown an interest in his own clothing, and I was reminded that he is really growing up so quickly. We had such fun standing among the piles of clothing that others had pulled off racks in a Black Friday frenzy, and finding just the right things for him at huge discounted prices. At one point when he found a really cool black shirt with red trim and words in white that said things like "Honor" and "Courage", he giggled, jumped up and down and said through a huge grin "Mommy, I think we hit the jackpot this time!".
The evening we spent at Temple Square was so beautiful with everyone milling around in great spirits, politely enjoying the scene. We are not Mormon and I'll bet more than half of the people there were not as well, but we all came away with a renewed respect for those of different religious traditions and backgrounds. There were helicopters flying overhead capturing the scene for the evening news, projected snowflakes high above the city on sides of buildings, reflections of the lighted trees in beautiful pools, it is a site to behold and anyone within driving distance should put this on their "Life List" as a must-see at least once. While I had hoped to hear the magnificent organ played that accompanies the Tabernacle choir, we missed the brief window of opportunity on Friday so maybe one day I can go back and hear it and the choir as well. I well remember the recording my parents used to play of Christmas carols performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir when I was a kid and it would be awesome to hear them in person some day.
The one thing that marred the weekend was Kenny's behavior. He has been steadily sliding downhill since his birthday, and we had a few struggles this past week with things culminating over the weekend. Don't get me wrong, it was not over the top awful, but definitely backsliding from the great gains we have made over the fall, and it was a little disappointing...and somewhat expected, honestly...to see Baby Kenny emerge and Big Boy Kenny recede for several days. We have several things we still are working on with him, things like grabbing things out of people's hands and speaking far too loudly (we've checked his hearing, it is fine), as well as his need to be in control and run the show. These behaviors are slowly improving, but over the weekend they returned with a vengeance and then some. We also had a real problem with him walking way ahead of our group and getting lost in the crowd. He simply refused to stay with us, and it was not out of excitement but out of a desire to control what he did. A couple of times we kept him in sight and let him wander off until he couldn't see us, and then he was scared when he couldn't find us...but he went right back to doing it again 5 minutes later.
By the end of the evening Friday night we had reached our limit as he continued trying to control the situation, complained about it being too cold, that he was too tired (after walking only 10 minutes), that his tummy hurt, etc. all not real complaints but his subtle way of gaining the upper hand. So when we returned back to the hotel, we played it up and said "Poor Kenny, he is not feeling well, and he is tired and his tummy hurts...so he has to go to bed..." and it was only 7:30 PM. While we had hamburgers we grilled in our room (the only way we can afford to do things like this is to go "on the cheap" and not eat out, so we had "cooler meals" and used our George Foreman Grill the entire weekend!) he had a cup of instant soup. After all, we didn't want to make his tummy worse ;-) . Then while I took Matthew and Josh down to the pool with our friends Kenny had to stay in bed while Daddy remained in the room. Once or twice he tried to ask for something more to eat, but we said "No, your tummy was really bothering you while we were seeing the lights, so you must be sick and we can't give you anything else until you feel better."
Did I feel awful? Yes...like a Mean Mommy Extraordinaire. Thankfully I was with friends who totally "get it", went right along with us on it, and were very supportive after I left the room saying "You are not a bad mom, it won't kill him!". Having that kind of support is worth it's weight in gold when you are not feeling so hot about yourself at the moment. It helped keep it all more lighthearted and kept the spotlight off of my own reaction and more on correcting Kenny's behavior. We also are so blessed to have friends who understand that this is a long road, not an overnight express train to having a son who eventually will mature and be the boy we know he can be. There are great moments and there are set backs, and it will be a couple of years before we are where I know we will ultimately end up with Kenny.
For me, the most frustrating part is having 9 year old Kenny sometimes, and then he disappears and 2 year old Kenny appears!! There were moments during this weekend when I looked at 4 year old Joshua and saw a boy far more mature than Kenny. Then there were also moments when I looked at 4 year old Joshua and remembered him at 2 and realized we have come so far, and have much to be thankful for...and I am utterly confident Kenny will be there too one day.
Then there were the moments when I looked at Matthew, who was hanging out with his 15 year old special friend, going to the gym and "working out", walking around the hotel together just the two of them, and I realized my little boy is long gone, and my older son has arrived, his body is growing and changing, his face is no longer little boyish, his interests are growing and widening. Matthew has a rare gift in his friend, a young man who has created a trickle down effect in our family without even knowing it, leading the way by taking Matthew under his wing and Matthew then sets the example for his younger brothers (ok, younger in actions not age!).
All in all, despite the challenges with Kenny, we had an awesome weekend. We needed the time together as a family as we head into our family's busy season with me returning to work full-time for ski season and the long winter daily drives I have to look forward to. I will begin in about 3 weeks, and then we all rarely have time like this together until the beginning of April. It is worth it for the 8 months I am home the rest of the year, but the 1.25 hour drives one way along totally deserted roads the entire time gets a little lonely. However, I am priviledged to see things on a daily basis that others pay thousands of dollars to come see. Eagles soaring overhead, herds of deer foraging on mountainsides, big horn sheep blocking my path on the road, snowy pristine mountains as far as the eye can see, and miles spent driving along Blue Mesa Reservoir, going from rippling waters to a frozen slab and then back again during the course of my time working in Gunnison. Each day brings a new surprise, a new and ever changing scene, so I guess I can't complain too much.
It also gives me long hours for private conversations with myself and God, and right now I need that more than ever. Things are brewing for our family, changes may happen in the coming year that would require walking with God in an even more powerful and connected way than ever before. I am not at liberty yet to share anything about it, and it may not come to pass, but I would ask all of you who read this who feel called to do so to pray that God's will would be revealed in a clear and unequivical way for us. I'd also ask that you pray for a speedy resolution to this circumstance, whatever that final resolution may be...and that if it is His will, that it falls into place easily and smoothly leaving us no doubts at all. I apologize for not revealing more, but there may ultimately be nothing to reveal so I will keep quiet until we know more. However, I fully realize the power of others speaking with God on our behalf, and feel a strong need to put this out there right now for all of you who might be willing to carry us around for awhile in your hearts.
And with that small request I leave you to go try and do my budget Christmas shopping! We have Joshie's birthday the day after Christmas as well, so we need to keep it all very strictly controlled in terms of cost. Luckily when they are his age it takes very little to make them happy and the things they enjoy are not very costly. Target's dollar bins are awesome for stocking stuffers!! We finally have a Target in town as a lone alternative to Walmart and I am thrilled to shop this year!