Christmas, Goodbyes, and Happy New Year!

December 31, 2008 at 2:40 pm (*)

I meant to write while we were in Colorado, but I just never got around to it.  I was enjoying being home.  Yep, HOME.  In Colorado.



Unfortunately, our trip back home did not start as we had planned on Tuesday morning.  As Jarid and the kids were on their way to see his grandma before our flight left, he received the news that she had passed away.  Jarid’s dad had just flown back from Denver the night before and was able to see her and talk with her.  While our hearts are absolutely broken at having to say goodbye, we are so thankful for the time she was able to spend with us for the last two months.  I am especially grateful that Benjamin and Kaiya were able to see her and spend time getting to know her.  What a trooper Grandma Mary was to trek down here in her already-frail condition!  Through all of this, we are resting in God’s sovereignty.  We will be flying to North Dakota this Sunday for her memorial service, so we would appreciate your prayers as we travel and support Jarid’s dad though this.

Even with Grandma Mary passing, Jarid made the decision (with his dad’s blessing) that we should not cancel our trip to Colorado.   So we packed it up and headed to the airport (what a bittersweet feeling!).  We only dealt with a few disasters, the first of which was Kaiya’s announcement at the airport that she had a little accident in her pants.  Fortunately, it was a small, albeit stinky, disaster.  I think maybe she had a little bit of an upset stomach, because she needed to use the bathroom once as we were getting ready for takeoff (and I was informed that if I went into the bathroom with her, they would delay the flight to show the movie again) and once as we were about ready to begin our descent into Colorado.  Oh yes, the timing and urgency of a child’s bowel movements are nothing to be messed with.

We probably weren’t two feet out the door at the Denver airport before I realized just how much I’d missed Colorado and the cold weather.  I was honestly worried that I’d be a little bit of a pansy and that maybe I’d already begun adapting to Arizona climate.  Not so.  Thank you, Lord!!!  🙂

Our trip was a whirlwind of activity (from a gluten/casein/everything else-free mommy’s standpoint!), but we had so much fun.  In no particular order:

  • We took a day trip to Casper, WY to see my grandfather.  I think it’s been almost two years since I’ve seen him and it was rough for me.  With Grandma Mary passing away, that aspect of life is fresh on my mind and I’m pretty sure my grandpa won’t be far behind.
  • One afternoon was spent up near Estes Park, enjoying real life Jingle Bells.  We went on a sleigh ride and had fun singing “Dashing through the snow, on a two-horse open sleigh…”.  It was cold and snowing and absolutely perfect.  Beautiful.  Just how I’d pictured it.  We ended up back at the lodge after the sleigh ride where the kids played in the snow and then enjoyed hot chocolate and sat by the fire.  Benjamin gulped down his hot (coconut milk) chocolate while nursing the fresh cut on his chin…too much fun sledding!
  • Family photos.  All ten of us.  Coming soon.  Enough said.
  • All four kiddos had fun at Jumpin’, the bouncy air thingy place.  Benjamin and Kaycee were best buddies, running from one structure to another holding hands and going down the slides together.  Haylee and Kaiya had a blast going on one slide again and again and again.
  • Christmas Day started with a treasure hunt and opening all the gifts.  Of course, Grandma and Grandpa “forgot” that there was supposed to be a limit on the gifts.  🙂  Unfortunately, the suitcase with all of the presents is still sitting at United in the Phoenix airport.  Boo.
  • Church on Sunday morning was good for me.  And I didn’t even hear the sermon!  I spent most of the morning spying on my kids during Sunday School.  I’ve never taken time to see how they act with other kids, outside of my presence, so it was very eye opening for me.  Surprisingly (to me!), they did very well.  Toward the end of the service, I ended up chatting with a mom who is going through the exact same thing with her son, as we are with Benjamin.  She’s about 5 years into it though, so she was a great source of encouragement and information.  What a blessing for me!
  • Benjamin and Kaycee whooped up on Grandpa and Uncle Andy at the bowling alley.  Benjamin actually got a strike!  We won’t mention that he used a ramp to guide the ball…..
  • We did get to play in the snow with nice weather, once.  It was just a skiff of snow in my parents’ back yard, but enough to throw at each other and pull the sled around.  Jarid was feeling a tad sick, but refused to miss an opportunity to play with his kiddos in the snow.
  • Kelli and Andy brought their Wii, so I obliged Kelli and played Guitar Hero with her.  I stink at it.  And I got whooped by Kaycee at tennis.
  • Most evenings were spent playing “Settlers of Catan”.  It’s our new favorite game.  Kind of like “Risk”, but not really at all.  Way more fun.  We warned everyone that they’d be addicted by the time we left and we were right.  Dad, Mom, Kelli, and Andy were very skeptical at the beginning, but mom proved us right when she called me this morning and asked if just two people could play!
  • Thankfully, not much time was spent in the kitchen.  Well, other than constantly finding goodies and snacks to eat.  I didn’t have to spend much time cooking or baking.  For at least a month and a half, my mom had been preparing food, buying supplies and reading labels for Benjamin’s meals.  Many of our traditional meals and Christmas goodies were transformed to be safe for Benjamin.  We estimate that for the one week we were there, my mom spent almost $500!!!  A huge and heartfelt thanks goes to the angel who helped my mom and dad financially with this week.  (If you’re reading, you know who you are!)  And obviously, no amount of words could be enough to thank my mom for all of her hard work and preparation.
  • Of course, nothing is complete without a trip to Chipotle.  But this one was extra special to me.  Chipotle is one of the few places we can still eat with Benjamin, but not without a little hassle in preparing his order.  This time, the employees at the Loveland Chipotle nearly brought me to tears!  When it came time to order for Benjamin and I mentioned he had allergies, the entire crew sprung into action.  “Gluten allergy coming down the line” was all it took for all of the spoons to be replaced (regardless of whether it was an item Benjamin would be using), all of the gloves to be changed, and all of the counters to be wiped.  They didn’t bat an eye when I asked for fresh lettuce from the back.  I seriously almost burst into tears.  I’ve never had that happen before…but found out that all Chipotles are supposed to know exactly what to do in a situation like ours.  I will be writing a word of thanks to their corporate office, as well as to that Chipotle directly.

A few random thoughts and observations from the trip, as well:

  • One aspect of Benjamin’s diet I have not seriously addressed is the cross-contamination issue.  Being in an environment with non-gluten-free food heightened my awareness and I realized how many times I’ve probably contaminated Benjamin’s food with gluten or dairy…and then wondered why he was having a bad day!  We will be taking a serious look at this issue after we return from New Rockford.
  • After the long (stressful for me) trip to Casper, Jarid lovingly pointed out how up tight I can be over my children’s behavior, among other things.  During our talk, we both finally acknowledged that I am teetering on the edge of depression, if not already there.  Not a serious, manic depression, probably just a reaction to the stress and changes we’ve faced this year with Benjamin’s diet.  I covet and appreciate your prayers right now.  There will probably be some bigger changes coming in the near future to help me cope.  For now, I’m claiming Isaiah 40:31 – “Those that hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
  • Since moving to Arizona, I’ve always been careful to specify that I can’t wait to move back to Colorado, even though it’s not really home.  Home was always Montana.  I think that’s changing.  They say that home is where the heart is, I now I believe it.  My heart is in Colorado, location-wise.  I really can’t express the feelings I had while we were there.  It felt so natural to be there, in the cold weather (even though it didn’t actually snow while we were there), in the mountains, in the fresh air.  I’m almost ashamed to admit that on more than one occasion, I thought through the consequences of not returning to Arizona.  If Jarid hadn’t gone ahead of us, I might have purposely missed our flight back!  In this instance, I will rest in Jeremiah 29:11 – “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'”
  • A wise man pointed out to me that I should not continue to or feel like I should have to explain myself, our decisions with Benjamin, or his behavior.  Thanks, Dad.  It’s very freeing to hear that and I’ll try to work on it.
  • My mother never ceases to amaze me with her perseverance and giving spirit.  She went above and beyond for us.  Thanks, Mom.
  • I have a seven year-old niece.  She’s kind of grown up already!
  • We need to do family pictures more often.  I’m just too cheap and too lazy. 🙂


Okay, I think that’s all I can manage to spew out for the year.  🙂  I’ll leave you with a bunch of pictures of our trip.  Have a safe and happy New Year!  I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us in 2009!



  1. sara kay said,

    So glad to hear you had such a great trip. Hang in there. You’re doing a great job. Love from Colorado! 🙂

  2. Kelly T said,

    I will definitely be praying…I think it is very encouraging your take on being depressed…that alone is a HUGE help..just to acknowledge it. And I agree with your dad…and you two are doing a great job, from what I hear:)

    Wonderful photos…looks like a special trip. We just got back a couple hours ago. We don’t have as many photos…I did post a slide show of an evening of making cookies. Welp, thanks for all your pictures.

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