The phone call came while I was cuddled on the couch with Hub watching the late evening news.

“Mom.”  Huh’s voice was shaking.  “I’m calling you so that you don’t panic.  I was just in an accident on the freeway.  I’m okay.  I just didn’t want you to panic in case someone else calls you.”

I sat up and said, “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“My head hurts, and my hand, but I am okay.  I have to go.  The cop wants to talk to me.”

And at that moment I knew I wouldn’t be going to bed after the evening news as originally planned.  The wait was made all the worse for me because Huh is out of state attending college and if she needed me, I could not get to her quickly.  I waited and after about 45 minutes Huh called back.  She only got part of the story out before she again had to talk to the police.  After another wait of an hour I called Huh, who was still at the scene of the accident, and got the rest of the story.

Huh and one of her friends had been driving to meet another friend.  As they drove on the freeway, Huh noticed a pickup truck and commented to her friend, “That guy is playing Pac Man.”  The truck was driving in two lanes so that the truck straddled the dotted line.  Then the truck started swerving and Huh knew he was a danger.  She sped up to pass him.  Later, when she was telling me the story, she said, “I almost made it, Mom.  I almost made it.”  Just as she was about to be completely past the truck, the driver swerved and hit the back driver’s side of Huh’s car.   The force of the hit started Huh’s car spinning.  Fortunately, Huh had one of her thumbs hooked around the steering wheel and as the steering wheel started to spin, one of the center bars on the steering wheel slammed into Huh’s thumb, thus stopping the steering wheel and Huh was able to regain control of her car and pull to the side of the road.  As she was doing so she looked in the rearview mirror and saw the pickup truck slam head-on into another car and then spin off and hit a third car.  Many people who witnessed the crash pulled over to be of assistance.  Huh and her friend, Tiana, were shaking as Tiana reached for her phone to call 911.  It was then that Huh saw the driver of the pickup truck get out of his truck, light a cigarette, and lean against his truck as if nothing had happened.

Huh saw red.  Adrenaline kicked in and the mean softball player side of my daughter came out.  She got out of her car, screamed in anger, clenched her fists, and strode toward the pickup driver.  “I was going to hit him, Mom,” she told me later.  “I really wanted to hit him.”  A quick thinking man who had pulled over intercepted my daughter before she could attack the pickup driver, told her she needed to calm down, and made her sit in his car until she did calm down.

Thankfully there were no deaths that night.  The worst injury was a gash on a lady’s forehead.  She was the only one transported to a hospital.  Huh and her friend both have whiplash, and burns from their seatbelts (thank heavens they were wearing them!) and Huh’s hand is swollen from the steering wheel slamming into it.  Her car sustained damage but is still drivable.  The other two cars had to be towed away.  The pickup driver was arrested at the scene for DUI.

Once I got the rest of the story and was assured that my daughter was okay, I went to bed.  It wasn’t until the next morning that both Huh and I really processed what had happened and realized how close she had come to major tragedy that night.

We have both thanked God in prayers that she was watched over and protected.  I wish she was here so I could give her a hug and really look her over to make sure she is okay.  I guess I will have to wait until spring break to do that.

I am so glad it was Huh calling me that night, and not an emergency services worker with bad news.

I will forever be grateful for that.

     “Regardless of our circumstances, each of us has much for which to be grateful if we will but pause and contemplate our blessings.

     This is a wonderful time to be on earth.  While there is much that is wrong in the world today, there are many things that are right and good.  There are marriages that make it, parents who love their children and sacrifice for them, friends who care about us and help us, teachers who teach.  Our lives are blessed in countless ways.

     We can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude.  If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues.  Someone has said that ‘gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.'”  –Thomas S. Monson

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’ve noticed that quite a few of my Facebook friends are doing a daily “Thankful” post this month.  It gave me an idea for a poll for my family.  I asked them each, “What are you thankful for TODAY?”

Here are our answers:

Hub – “My job.  Sorta.  Tomorrow I might not be, but TODAY I am thankful for my job.”

Kweenmama – I am thankful for a mistake.  Back during the summer we filled a shirt and hoodie order.  I let Huh and her boyfriend make the shirts because Huh needed to earn some money.  I’m not sure exactly what happened, but one of the hoodies ended up with a melted zipper.  So, of course, we needed to replace that hoodie which left us with a defective hoodie here.  This morning we woke to a cold rain.  The defective hoodie came to my rescue.  It is huge, so I was able to pull it over my head without having to use the zipper.  Because of the zipper mistake I had a hoodie to use and was warm and dry while I crossed kids at my school crossing. 

Squid – Unavailable to participate in our poll while he serves a mission for our church in Uruguay.

Huh – “I’m grateful that I get off work at 3:00 today.  Easy day!”

Juju – “I’m grateful for my dad’s cooking.”  Juju was up visiting us from college over the weekend.  She has grown weary of “college fare” and loved that Hub made one of his delicious roasts for Sunday dinner.

Mack – “Hot chocolate.”

Shroom – “Computer.”

Hoob – “My jacket.”  Said as she eyed the rain coming down.

Yawlin – “The rain.” 

What are you thankful for today?

Only those who have entered the world of step-m0m-hood would understand why my heart soared on July 23.  I received a random text from my step-daughter, Juju.

“You’re a great stepmom.  Thanks for everything.  Love ya.”

It was out of the blue.

It made my day.

🙂

Last month I did “A Week of Mornings” by posting one photo a day for a week.  Each picture was taken sometime during the morning.  For November I am going to do “A Week of Afternoons” and post pictures taken during the afternoon.  I love this time of year and the photo ops are plentiful.  In fact, I love the fall colors so much, I think I will post two photos a day instead of one. 

I urge you to notice the beauty around you, even in the smallest details.  It is a glorious world we live in, and we have a lot to be thankful for.

Enjoy your week!

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I love to travel.  I really do.  But, one thing I’ve noticed about myself is that I appreciate home a little more after returning from a trip.  Here are some of the things I appreciated after returning home from Hawaii this week:

*My washer and dryer.

*Not having to live out of a suitcase.  My clothes won’t be wrinkled.  I can find my razor when I need it.  I don’t have to worry about shampoo or facial cleanser  leaking all over my clothing.  I will no longer be stubbing my toe on the suitcase.

*Knowing where I am going when driving.  I won’t have to consult a map or ask for driving directions.  I can go back to ignoring freeway signs.

*Sleeping in my own bed and using the pillow that I love.  Good night’s sleep once again!

*Max greetings!  The dog was left behind this week when our family went in different directions.  The first home, and the first to receive an enthusiastic Max greeting, were Hub and Squid as they returned home from Moab at 3:00 a.m. Saturday morning.  Next came Shroom and Juju from their mother’s house later in the morning.  Hoob and Yawlin returned from my parents’ house Saturday afternoon.  Mack and I returned at 9:00 a.m. Monday, followed by Huh at 11:00 a.m. when the softball team’s flight finally landed.  Max was beside himself greeting his family (herd) as we each returned.  He jumps on us, runs a few circles, repeats jumping on us, and finally ends by giving us big sloppy kisses. 

*Knowing where a doctor is.  Mack returned from Hawaii with a urinary tract infection.  And Huh has started showing signs of either appendicitis or an ovarian cyst.  I took them both to the doctor this morning for diagnoses.  Thank heavens the symptoms waited until we got home!

*And the thing I most appreciated after returning from Hawaii??  Seeing my husband and other kids!  Hub brought Hoob and Yawlin with him to the airport to pick us up.  They all snuck up behind us and gave us big hugs.  It was the best welcome ever!  Like I said in an earlier post, I prefer when our family travels together.  I miss my family when we are scattered all over the planet.  I kept in touch via cell phone/texts, but it was nice to be back together again.

And now for a few lingering images from our trip:

Storm on the beach!

Storm on the beach!

 

What you do in Hawaii after losing softball games.

What you do in Hawaii after losing softball games.

 

Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor

Hawaii 223

 

It’s nice to be home.

It was so out of the blue…

Last night at around 8:15 I left the house to go pick my kids up from their father’s place.  He lives about ten minutes away, just off of the same busy street that we do.  It was a typical Sunday evening, not much traffic, a few clouds in the sky, quiet.  As I drove I listened to a radio station that always plays religious music on Sundays.  The station went to commercial and I reached to turn the volume up because I wanted to hear what the commercial was about, although now I cannot even remember what commercial it was.  As I reached for the dial it hit. 

I experienced a sudden tightness in my chest and a heaviness in my head.  My throat felt like it constricted and I suddenly couldn’t breathe.  I gasped for air as the road swam before my eyes and then my vision tunneled and I could not see much.  I knew I was losing consciousness.  I gripped the steering wheel and applied the brakes to slow the car, hoping there was no one behind me, and said aloud, “Heavenly Father help me, please help me.”

My vision cleared and the tightness left my chest.  I took deep, gulping breaths and looked around for a place to pull over.  A wave of dizziness hit and my breathing became labored again.  My vision swam, but not as bad as the first time.  There was a tingling in my fingertips.  Again I prayed, “Heavenly Father, please help me.  My kids need me.  Please help me to get to my kids.”  I was aware that the car was still moving forward, but I no longer knew where I was.  “Please help me,” I prayed over and over, “My kids need me.”  I fought to stay conscious. 

After what seemed like an eternity, but was in reality only about ten seconds, I saw the turn-off to my ex’s street and made the turn.  Still taking deep breaths and shaking I remember thinking, I might have to have Mike call 911.  I pulled into the driveway and called Huh’s phone.  Taking a deep breath I made my voice sound as normal as possible, “I’m here.”

“Okay, we’ll be right out.”

My breathing slowed, and the dizziness left me.  I got out of the car and walked to the passenger side, as I slid into the passenger seat I said a silent prayer, “Heavenly Father, thank you for helping me to get here.” 

Mack came out of the house carrying her bag of clothes.  When she saw me in the passenger seat she got a puzzled look on her face.  “Why are you sitting there?” she asked as she loaded her stuff into the car.  “Are you okay?”

“Do you have your license with you?”  I asked.

“Yup.”

“Good.  Do you want to drive?”

“Sure.”  Mack looked at me closely.  “What’s wrong?  Did something happen?”  I just shook my head.  I had been trying to appear normal, somehow my daughter was seeing right through me.  I pulled the sun visor down to look at myself in the mirror.  Sure enough, I was pale.

“You’re shaking,” said Mack.  I simply nodded.

After all of the kids were in the car and Mack was driving us home I told the kids what had happened.  They were quiet.  To lighten the mood I asked them about their weekend.  Huh had attended the Senior dinner dance for her high school and Yawlin had gone to a birthday party, so I asked them both about those events.  Mack finally said, “Mom, you are only 41.”

How many times have my kids told me that I’m old and teased me about my age?  And now the perspective is that I am only 41. 

When we got home there were neighbors standing on our front porch visiting with Hub and Squid.  They’d dropped by to congratulate Squid on his recent call to serve a mission for our church in Uruguay.  My kids carried their stuff into the house and I stopped on the porch to visit with the neighbors.  After the neighbors left I told Hub what had happened on the way to get my kids.  He got a concerned look on his face and asked, “Are you okay?  Do we need to go to a doctor?”

“I don’t know,” I said.  “Other than a slight headache, I feel fine.”

Later on, as I loaded dishes into the dish washer, Hub again asked me if I was okay.  I told him that I was and that all I had was a slight headache.  We finished our evening routine and everyone went to bed.  That is when my mind started to race.  What if I had blacked out?  What if there had been more traffic?  What if I had been on the freeway?  What if it happens again?

This morning I got up at my usual time and made poppy seed muffins for breakfast (box mix).  My headache is gone and I feel fine.  Normal.  Alive. 

As I was crossing kids at my morning crossing a lady walked by with her dog on a leash.  She smiled at me and asked, “Doesn’t it smell heavenly out here?”  It did.  A mixture of lilacs and Russian Olive tree did make my little street corner smell nice.  I took a few deep breaths.  It was nice to do so with ease.  I’m not taking that for granted. 

The incident in the car happened so suddenly, so out of the blue.  There were no warning signs.  It just hit.  Quickly.  It’s a little scary to think about.  Things can change in our lives in the blink of an eye.  I don’t think I am going to be taking things for granted for awhile.  I am noticing the little things.  I truly am blessed.

And I am so grateful for help from above.

The ball fields for this week’s softball tournament are near a military base.  Two fighter jets flew by and we all looked up.  One of the Dad’s smiled and said, “I like to hear that.  That’s the sound of freedom.”

Since I don’t have much time before I have to be back on the road to catch the final softball game of the evening, I decided to simply post a question.

What is the sound of freedom for you?

*Getting ready to join my daughter at a softball tournament in Steamboat Springs, Colorado I walked out to my car to load my stuff and saw my dashboard covered with mini post-it note messages from Hub:  “Call when you get there,” Keep your eyes on the road,” “Don’t look at cute guys on the side of the road,” (does that mean we can pick up cute guys on the side of the road, as long as we don’t look at them?), “Remember me often,” “Most of all, have fun.  I love you!”  He also carried my luggage to the car for me.  Yes, he is a keeper!

*My youngest sister joined me on the six hour drive to Steamboat Springs.  We laughed, talked, snacked on nachos, and took pictures of the annoying industrial truck with the words “Student Driver” draped across the back that slowed us down on a two lane highway.  Sister time is always good time.

*My daughter called me on the drive to inform me that her team had won their first two games, that she’d pitched a no-hitter during the second game, and that she’d hit a homerun.  I cheered aloud in the car.  I was so happy for her.  They went on to win their third game as well.

*We made it to the ball fields in time to see the fourth game.  My daughter was pitching.  I was glad I got to see one of the games yesterday.  It was gratifying to see my daughter give me a two fingered wave from the pitcher’s mound as we walked up.  I could tell she was glad we’d made it.  As soon as the inning was over she ran over to greet us.  I was happy to see that she was getting along with her teammates on her new team–once again she is the new girl.  Her team won the game 6 – 1.

*We discovered that our hotel is newly remodeled and that we are the first to sleep in the beds.  The rooms are very nice and we have a balcony with a great view.

*Sis and I went to dinner at a pizza place and got to talk to a couple of coaches from a 12 and under team.  It turns out that they grew up in our hometown but now live in Denver.  Small world!  It was fun talking softball.

*Because our team is undefeated so far in the tournament, we only have one game in the afternoon today.  That was great news yesterday because we knew we would get to have a lazy morning.  Which we have…lovely! 

It took most of us out of our comfort zone.  It took about two weeks for it to be completed.  There were no life-changing results or dramatic emotions.  But, it did make each one of us a little more aware of those who have touched our individual lives in some way. 

One night last month I decided to put a challenge before my family.  Each person was given two blue ribbons that said, “I did it!” in gold lettering.  Then each person was instructed to think of a person who has been a positive influence in their life.  They were to give both ribbons to that person, tell the person why they were being recognized, and then instruct that person to give one of the blue ribbons to someone else in like manner.

As my family stared at me with blank expressions I gave a couple of examples, “Has there been a friend who has helped you through a hard time?  Or maybe there is a neighbor that you admire.  Or did you witness someone doing a good deed?”  I could see that they were starting to get it, but were still reluctant to actually go out and tell someone that they’d made a difference.  That is a little scary, especially for teenagers.  Would the recipient of their ribbons think they were weird?  Would they reject it?  And would the person then even want to give the second ribbon away? 

To make sure each family member was stretched in some way, I made it a rule that we couldn’t give our ribbons to family members.  I could just see all the kids quickly giving the ribbons to each other just so they could unload them and be done with the assignment.  The rule didn’t apply to the people we gave our ribbons to, just to us.  I gave them a week to complete the challenge.

Shroom was the first to respond.  He got up from the couch, walked across the street, and gave his ribbons to our Bishop who was out working in his yard.  His reason for honoring our Bishop?  “Because he has always been there for me.” 

Mack and Juju completed the challenge the next day.  Mack chose to honor her math teacher, Mrs. R.  Her reason?  “Because of all the help she has given me after school and because she increased my brain greatly.”  Increasing a brain!  Wow, that is something to be recognized for!  Juju gave her ribbons to a student in her peer tutoring class who “needs to be loved.”  The student gave the second ribbon to a classmate who laughed and threw it down.  But, as soon as the classmate realized it was for real, she picked up the ribbon and accepted it.

Hoob waited two days and then presented her math teacher, Mrs. P, with the ribbons because she felt that her teacher had helped her understand math better.  Mrs. P gave her husband the second ribbon.

Yawlin decided to give his two ribbons to the student teacher helping in his classroom because she helped him with his seat work.  She in turn gave her second ribbon to her best friend.

Huh took awhile to decide who she would honor.  She decided on her friend, “B”, because she always brings Huh cookies whenever she is having a bad day and she has helped Huh clean her disaster of a room twice.  Huh’s words, “She knows how to be a good friend.”  “B” gave her second ribbon to her mom.

I gave my ribbons away on the day of the deadline.  I chose to give them to “I”, a neighbor who came here from France and has worked long and hard to gain citizenship to our country.  She finally made it last month! 

Hub and Squid didn’t make the deadline, so we extended it for another week.  Squid finally gave his ribbons to his girlfriend who has been a GREAT influence on him.  We really like her.  Hub gave his ribbons to “R”, a teenager with Down Syndrome in our neighborhood who has overcome many obstacles and will be graduating from high school next week.

My purpose in giving the assignment was to get my family members (and myself) thinking about, and then recognizing, those who have made a difference in our lives by actual acts or by simply setting a good example.  It was interesting to see who each family member picked to honor.  I was pleasantly surprised by some of the choices.  So many times others don’t realize that they have made a difference.  Sometimes it is good to express gratitude for what others have done.

As far as the challenge…mission accomplished.