15 months

May 26, 2021 by

This week marks 15 months post-brain surgery. What a journey of tears and laughter and courage and faith and exhaustion and most of all, of people and God loving us and carrying us through the hard.

Richard is doing so well. He continues to improve in his abilities and we are figuring out how to help him better.

He is working…three jobs actually. One as a behavioral consultant for School District 91, one as a behavioral therapist for a developmental disabilities company, and one as a hospice chaplain. The second and third jobs are only 2-5 hours a week. We are sooooo grateful he has been able to work and bring income into our home. All three jobs are a lot for his brain and body and he is SO done by the time he gets home. He has two more weeks of his school job and we are really hoping his summer schedule will allow him to get some much needed rest and healing in before school starts again in the fall.

He is working on his bike riding skills. He rode four miles two weeks ago, WAHOO! Then nothing this past week because it was play week for Annesley…so nothing extra for his brain because the performances are so hard for him to attend. This week he has set a goal to ride a total of 15 miles! We are looking into getting him a bike with bigger, softer wheels to give him more traction and comfort, but we are still in the testing phase with that idea.

A few weeks ago he started wearing an ear plug in his good ear when he is in a crowd of people. He says it helps his brain to sort out what the important sounds are so he doesn’t get as worn out as quickly. He still can only endure an hour of church and then he has to come home and sleep for several hours to recover.

His eye and nose are leaking more lately. He isn’t sure why, but thinks he is not getting enough rest. We have been really busy with plays and late nights with our kids and with his three jobs, he isn’t resting as much as he needs, so we are hoping the summer schedule will turn that around.

Some interesting things…for your humor needs…and understanding of brain injury…

  • I found out recently that he didn’t wear deodorant for four months! He ran out and thought he would pick some up that night. But he forgot. The next day he forgot. And the next. And the next. For FOUR MONTHS! Finally one day after a really warm day, I noticed he smelled funny and asked him what was up. He confessed that he was out of deodorant and had been for months. I asked him why he didn’t put it on the shopping list and have me or Keziah pick it up and he said that every single morning he would make note of it in his brain to pick it up that day after work and then every single day would forget. I asked why after a few days he didn’t just tell one of us to get him some and he said he truly thought he could remember, but then he would forget again. So hilarious. And a bit sad, don’t you think?
  • His brain has a hard time staying focused on a task. Yesterday I asked him to count some pills to see how many we had left. It took him a very long time because he had to keep starting over because he couldn’t figure out where he was in the chain of counting.
  • A few weeks ago I needed him to replace the load wheels and tracks on my Elliptigo. The project required fine motor skills that were too much for his brain to focus on and he dropped the parts probably 30 times before he was able to get them on correctly. It took him several hours to do a job that should maybe have taken thirty minutes. The thing that amazed me the most was his patience with himself. If it had been me I would have been SO frustrated and ranting, but he just kept picking the little pieces up and trying again and again and again. (Lesson for me – perhaps figure out how to do it myself or have someone else do it next time!)
  • People out in public don’t know what to think of him. They don’t know that he can’t hear on his right side so if we go out to eat or are with people who are trying to talk to him, he can’t hear them if they are talking on his right side. We try to explain that we need them to speak to his left ear and move him so his left ear is facing them, but people don’t understand and either keep talking to his right ear, start shouting, or give up and just talk to me instead. I’m not sure what the answer to this is, but so far we just keep having me tell him what people are saying. I lean in to his left ear and he can hear me just fine.
  • About a month ago, I was driving to Wyoming past several of his favorite fishing streams and proposed the idea of dropping him off and letting him fish for a couple of hours while I was driving and then picking him up on the way back. He wanted to SO much. But he said his brain was too tired to fish especially because it was breezy outside. He said he didn’t think he could handle the sounds from the wind and the casting at the same time. If you know him at all, you know that is a really big deal. I didn’t think I would ever hear such things from his mouth!

I am amazed at his determination to show up for our children and me even when it is really, really hard for him. I am amazed at how he tries so hard to do things around the house even though it completely wears him out. I am amazed he is working three jobs plus all sorts of side appointments with family and friends who need his skills with their children or themselves. I am filled with immense gratitude for his kindness and patience and willingness to keep trying things that are incredibly challenging for him. He doesn’t get mad or irritable with his limitations, just keeps trying.

He has some big goals for this summer. They may prove impossible. At this point, they are looking impossible. But we are all going to do our best to help him make them happen. He really, really, really wants to go on a one night backpacking trip. This means he has to be able to walk on uneven ground for a good distance and carry at least some sort of pack. I told him Fisher and Annesley would carry all the stuff, but he says that doesn’t count (in my mind it totally counts!). Right now he can walk about a mile on paved ground. So walking multiple miles on uneven ground seems impossible. But that is what we are working towards! He also wants to work on bike riding more and be able to ride with us. And he wants to work on his crossbow skills so he can go hunting with Fisher in the fall. All these things are hard. Dang hard. But he is cheerfully determined to keep working towards these goals.

He is my hero. I love him so deeply and am so grateful I get to walk this journey with him.

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lightning

Apr 17, 2021 by

I’m part shrieking with joy and part welling up with tears.

You guys!!! I just played Lightning with Fisher and Annes! I don’t think I’ve ever played basketball with them. They were 4 and 7 when I was injured and really 3 and 6 when I stopped being the fun, active mom my older children knew because I had a lump in my breast the year before I was injured and with the treatments and surgery, I couldn’t do hardly anything fun that year.

I was working. Annes came in and asked, “Mom, do you think you could play Lightning with us? I thought about it, wondering if my body really could do it or not. I knew I could slip and roll my ankle or injure my knee or dislocate my shoulder by shooting, but I checked in with my body and decided, yes, I think I can handle it. Then I had to check in with my heart. A big part of me wanted to keep working and finish what I was doing. And then this other part of me yelled, “Get up and go play with your kids! They are asking you and this is a beautiful opportunity to be WITH them. Do it!”

When I said, “Yes,” she screamed, “Really? Really? You’ll play????”

So I did. And we laughed and ran and shot and breathed hard and I even won once! At one point I made three free throws in a row!

SO FUN!

I hope we do it more often. Maybe a nightly ritual? Surely at least weekly. And I hope they always remember this joyous moment in time of this first game. Day by day, they are getting more light in their eyes and joy in their hearts as they see their mama and papa getting stronger and healthier and more capable. They pretty much gave up all their hope last year when Richard was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It was just too much for them to face their mama having EDS with years of injuries and passing out and then their papa to face such an unknown future. But every little bit of progress we make lifts their spirits and helps them see life is full of hope and miracles.

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thankful thursdays 4/2

Apr 2, 2020 by

I’m not really feeling very thankful tonight. Truth be told, I’m in a funk. Earlier this week I was irritable as could be and now I’m in the leftover stages of irritable, worn out from being irritable and ready to move on, but not quite there yet. So gratitude is probably what I need even I don’t feel in the gratitude groove at the moment.

  • Tonight we are five weeks out from brain surgery. Just typing those words brings the tears pouring out of my eyes and running down my cheeks. Here we are, five weeks later, and he is alive and recovering and doing so, so well. Today he cut a few pieces of wood for me and deep gratitude filled my soul that he was able to do it.
  • My nephew, Marcus, committed suicide last week. My heart absolutely aches for him and the pain he was carrying and fighting. I’m so grateful I was able to go and spend some time with his family at a park and remember the sweet, kind boy I always knew.
  • We’ve been studying the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith in preparation for the 200th anniversary of the First Vision. It has been wonderful to spend time together as a family learning more about the nine different First Vision accounts, the coming forth of The Book of Mormon, Father’s covenant plan for His children, ordinances, the messiness of the restoration process, and most of all, Jesus grace and love in the lives of Father’s children. I will always treasure this time we have had together.
  • Whenever I’m irritable, I like to rearrange. Yesterday my children helped me rearrange and clean the school room. Something about a new placement of furniture helps clear my mind and see things in a new ways.
  • My dear friend lost her baby today. My heart is aching for her and her family. This baby has been prayed for and waited for for a long, long time. Her baby’s passing is bringing up all sorts of feelings about our babies’ passing and it is hard, tender stuff. Regardless of the pain, I’m grateful we get to share and love and pray for each other. I’m grateful for her faith and courage she has shown for the past 15 weeks of her pregnancy. She has been a strength to me and I hope I have been a strength to her. Having babies that don’t make it into their mama’s arms binds hearts together in a sacred way and even though it is hard, I’m grateful we get to do this together.
  • I’m reading a beautiful, soul-filling book, The Keeper of the Bees. I haven’t been able to focus and get through a book for many months. I’m trying to use this Coronavirus quarantine time to reclaim my mind and fill my soul with good things and this book is helping me learn how to focus and read once again. It is such a wonderful story that is reminding me that God is in the details, that life is worth fighting for, and that human decency changes lives.
  • I’m really grateful we all like each other. Since we are all together much more than we ever have been, this Coronavirus situation has been a test of our relationships. And yes, there have certainly been some pull-my-hair-out moments, but for the most part, we have laughed and played games and read and worked together. It is a huge blessing in my life to genuinely enjoy spending time with Richard and our children.
  • We’ve taken the past four weeks off our morning scripture study routine. With Richard not being able to sleep at night and therefore me not sleeping either, we’ve been in survival mode and absolutely could not get up at 7:00 for family scripture reading. This week we started again. And it’s been hard. I would much rather sleep in. But it’s also been good. I love reading scriptures all together. I hope when our children grow up and move away that our morning scripture reading and evening read-alouds bring smiles to their hearts forevermore.
  • Tonight I am grateful for do-overs. Second and third and a zillionth chances. I mess up again and again and again. And because of Jesus, I get to keep trying. I get to keep learning. I get to say I’m sorry. I don’t even have something pressing on me that needs a second chance in this moment, but boy howdy, the glorious plan of redemption is filling my heart with gratitude tonight. Without it, there is no hope. With it, there is every hope.

And so, I’m going to go to bed, trusting in the hope that Jesus’ atoning sacrifice gives me power to keep trying and Father’s love gives me the desire to do so. Mortality isn’t a cakewalk, but it can be beautiful and blessed.

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celebrating the family video

Oct 13, 2015 by

I saw this video yesterday and have to share it because I love it so much! I set a goal to memorize The Family: A Proclamation To The World this year in our homeschool and even had an awesome giant poster printed (thanks to Valena!) in the weeks right before Blythe left, but we haven’t started yet. I haven’t even hung the poster up! But today that is changing. Today we begin! This video gave me the nudge I needed to get back on track with this goal.

If you want to make your own giant 24 x 36 poster, here is the pdf file. The awesome Valena also made a matching poster for The Living Christ. You can download that pdf file here.

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yes, i know, silence isn’t golden

Jul 19, 2015 by

Oh my good heck, it is July 19. Serious problems blogging on any kind of regular basis over here. I’m pretty sure I will develop a more regular posting habit come fall, but at this point, I am not promising anything…because I hate breaking promises and I try not make a promise I am not 100% sure I can keep.

In the meantime, here is an update.

Health
I am doing pretty well. I am moving better and functioning better and it is visibly apparent to those around me. People give me high fives and big smiles when they see me walking at an almost normal pace in normal shoes. I have been out of my knee brace for several weeks and while my knee is still sore, it is improving. It still hurts to drive and it hurts to be up on it for a super long time, but it is good for the first hour or so. My face, neck, jaw, ribs, and back are still suffering from January’s car accident whiplash, but they are slowing improving as well.

As far as passing out goes, it is improving as well and I actually was starting to think it was a thing of the past, though I have had two small episodes in the past 24 hours, so now I don’t know what to think.

I have been exercising on the Elliptigo for a few weeks and am up to 3 minutes – BIG WAHOO! It feels absolutely amazing to feel my neglected muscles working and growing. Three minutes doesn’t sound like much, but it is hard. It about knocks me flat. Keziah gets on and rides for 30 minutes…someday, someday I will be there.

Mission
Blythe has been working her butt off all year putting money in the bank for her mission and we both have been searching and shopping for some fabulous mission clothes. We have most of what we need in that department and are now starting on the long list of other supplies – first aid kit, books, bags, sewing kit, pens, temple clothes, personal hygiene, and a gazillion other little things. It feels like we have very little time left to pull all of this together, but I am confident with Amazon Prime and some improvisation we can pull it off.

Home
We have undertaken a massive project this summer (which is primarily responsible for my poor blogging) and while there is light at the end of the tunnel, it is has kicked my butt and left our home in a terribly messy state of disarray. Ever since the summer of 2011 when we were dealing the breast lump, we have been in full-on survival mode – which means each day we try to love each other, teach each other, and feed each other…and not much else gets done. Stuff does not get dealt with. Stuff builds up. Stuff gets knocked over and left. Stuff takes too much time to sort and process and organize, so it gets shoved here and there for another day…and that other day doesn’t come and after awhile there is a garage and a storage room that are completely inaccessible to any human that values their life.

And that is where we are at…or were at a few months back. I started the Stuff Project by having every single piece of clothing currently in Fisher’s and Annesley’s rooms brought upstairs for me to sort into Keep, Give to Mikelle (my baby sister with wee babes), Give to DI, or Trash. That project was huge. We finished it the day before Swim Camp back in June.

Then we tackled the school room. We went through each book down there and did the same thing, Keep, Give to someone specific, Sell to a used book store, Give to DI, or Trash. Books are sacred to me and I don’t part with them easily, but we did it! We were able to get rid of 6 big boxes of books! We also created a new computer area for the big girls, moved my Elliptigo and deep cleaned the whole area.

With that success under our belt, I decided to hire Keziah to clean out the storage room. I really wish I had a before picture so you could see how awful it was because there are no words to do it justice. None. Picture a grocery store, special events store, and clothing store being on the fault line of an earthquake and then being abandoned to the survivors who would climb over the piles of stuff, dig through it for the treasure of the day, and knock more stuff over on their way back out. And then picture that earthquake happening several years back and the survivors risking their lives to go in and dig through everything to find a can of diced tomatoes or a pair of size 1 shoes or the Christmas decorations. Oh my, frightening, don’t you think?

Well, this job was ginormous. I offered Keziah $100 to clean, organize, and completely dejunkify. Really, it should have been about $500 for the amount of time she put in, but $100 was all I could come up with (and to be honest, I haven’t even paid her for it yet, she may have to wait until October when Richard starts getting paid again).

Miss Amazing did it. It took her several weeks of working around her other jobs and she completely filled the (once clean) school room with her storage room mess, but she did it. Our burn pile is in desperate need of being burnt to smithereens as we threw away SO MANY boxes. We went through every single pair of shoes in the earthquake residue and gave 163 pairs of shoes and 75 singles to Dando Amor. She reorganized all the food storage, Passover and Christmas items, and the preparedness supplies. She removed the filthy carpet, vacuumed and scrubbed, and then put all the stuff back inside. It looks and feels awesome. We can enter without risking life or limb. We can find things! We can walk around!

Part of the mess in the storage room was the 10 or so big bins of children’s clothes that have been buried and dug through for the past many years. I made the super painful decision that it was time to let those clothes go and to let Keziah sell what she could and give the rest to the thrift store. So she hauled all the bins upstairs and has been washing and sorting and folding the clothes for the past several weeks. So once again, we don’t have a usable dining room. The floor is almost completely covered with stacks of freshly-washed clothes. I still need to go through the clothes and figure out which ones are sellable and which ones need to go to DI.

Then last weekend, we started on the garage. Oh my. Oh my. What a disaster. Richard and I worked for about twelve hours and we probably have thirty more to go. Thirty hours we don’t have before he starts back at his school job again, which means, this job may get left until next summer when he has Saturdays off. Super sad, but that is the reality of only having a few Saturdays off a year – only a couple projects can get done in a year. We could have worked on it yesterday, but we decided our little ones’ emotional health was more important and that they needed to go fishing with their papa.

Throughout all of these dejunkifying projects, I have also been working on my room and closet which is one giant pile of disaster as well. I have been sorting through clothes and facing the strong possibility that I will never fit into my size 6 clothes again and if I do, they probably won’t be in style anyway, so they need to go. And probably the size 8’s as well. And probably the clothes that are too big for me, surely I won’t need those in the future, right? Every few days I send a small load of stuff to DI with Richard or Blythe and bit by bit I am making progress. The floor of our room is all clean along with our bathroom, I just need to finish the back of our closet and the purging decisions.

We still need to build water storage shelves in the garage, clean out the garage, improve the chicken coop, clean up the messes in our yard – the burn pile, the broken cars, and the weeds. I had big hopes of building some swings, staining the deck, and remodeling our camper, but I think those will have to be tabled until next summer as well.

But now all these projects are going to be put on hold because my mountains are calling to me.

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It is that time of year when I go and get recharged by the glacier-fed waters and rugged mountains I love so much.

I will try to get back to the bringing-order-to-my-life-projects when we get back, but my guess is, it will probably be December when I have time to devote to it again as when we return from camping we will be busy with Blythe’s first temple trip, her mission farewell, and getting her on her mission. Then we will start our fall homeschool schedule of Learning Time, iFAMILY, and Homeschool Gymnastics. I am also starting a Liberty Girls group with Annesley and nine other little girls, which is probably a bigger commitment than I realize right now. I desperately want to wrap up all my summer organization projects, but I also have to be realistic about the capacity of my body to work, the needs of my family, and the lack of any extra funds to devote to the projects. It’s all good and I need to keep reminding myself that we have accomplished a massive amount of work already. We just need to get the house put back together so we can eat meals and play games in the dining room again.

So if you are wondering why I haven’t been posting much, this is why – a summer full of big projects and when I have a spare minute that I’m not flat on my back in bed with my ice packs, I take the kids to the lake for an afternoon of kayaking and swimming or curl up with them for read-alouds. I hardly see Blythe and Keziah at all. They are both busy working as hard as they can earning money and my job is to give them hugs and encouragement when they get home.

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yellow squash soup

Jun 17, 2015 by

Last summer when I couldn’t open my mouth to eat at all, my friend Sherry brought over this delicious soup. I have saved her handwritten recipe for the past 12 months and vowed to make it again, but I haven’t done it yet. My face has been hurting significantly since the January 31 car accident and last week a little toddler landed on my head in the swimming pool and now my face is swollen and needing to rest again, so I think I will make this soup soon.

Yellow Squash Soup

2 C. chopped yellow summer squash
1 C. chopped carrots
1 C. chopped onion
4 C. peeled potatoes
garlic – not sure of the amount here…maybe 1 clove?

Boil in chicken or veggie broth. Add 1 can evaporated milk, salt & pepper, and cayenne. Blenderize till smooth.

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how did we get to june already?

Jun 7, 2015 by

Oh my good heck, it is June 7 and has been over a month since I last posted. I guess I need to let y’all know I am alive.

Yes, I am alive and well. At least kind of well. I am happy and spending lots of time with my kiddos and loving the sunshine. I am also super sore from the blasted car accident back in January. If I do hardly anything at all and just lie around my house the ball at the base of my spine shrinks down to about softball size. If I try to drive or do laundry or cook a meal or sit at the computer or basically ANYTHING, it flares up and knocks me flat for a few hours or days until the inflammation goes down. We have made it through the past several months since the accident by having me do very, very little and having Keziah do very, very much. But all of that has changed over the past month and boy, howdy, am I sore. She is working her butt off trying to earn money to go to Europe and D.C. next year and is hardly ever home which leaves the bulk of the housework in my hands for the first time in over three years. And it hurts.

So, posting has fallen by the wayside. By the time bedtime hits each night I am covered in ice packs and completely exhausted from the tasks of the day…and I am not doing much. Not at all. My normal cleaning standards are quite low in most people’s books and they have fallen even lower over the past while, but somethings just need to be done. Laundry does need washed. Food does need to be prepared and cleaned up. Fisher and Annes have been making most of their own meals and Richard has been cooking most of the rest, but I really want to preparing some nutritious meals for my family and have a sit down dinner with inspiring, connecting conversation instead of the survival mode we have been living in for so long.

So, we are learning and adjusting and trying to figure out this new phase of life with the big girls gone and me unable to do much to keep this house running. It is a big transition and it is going to take some time for all of us to adjust – my hope is my back and neck will improve enough that I can do more and hurt less.

Other news in the last month? I went on a cruise!!!! YES, ME! The person who never goes anywhere actually went on a cruise. My cousin, Tami, took me and our other cousin, Camille, on a cruise to celebrate our 40th birthdays…which were last year, but we couldn’t celebrate it then because I was too injured. I need to do a whole post with all the beautiful pictures and stories from our adventure.

The same week Blythe opened her call, I celebrated my 41st birthday and Keziah had her play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which also deserves an entire post with heaps of pictures.

Now it is time for Swim Camp and a family reunion and I have no idea when I will be back on here to post again. We are living and loving and trying to get Blythe ready to leave on her mission.

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starting anew

Apr 19, 2015 by

The buds are coming out, the grass is greening up, the tulips are sprouting, and a tiny kitten was born this morning – spring is here!

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The breath of fresh air spring whispers to my soul is full of hope and healing. It signals the beginning of a new growing season, shows me that new life is possible. As I ponder the lessons of Passover and Easter, see life springing up all around me, and let the sun soak into my soul, hope is growing.

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I have been quite focused on a healing regimen the past three months and while it has been hard and sometimes quite discouraging, it is working. I have just returned home from a second trip to my doctor where he evaluated my progress of the past three months and made a plan for the next three months. My nervous system has calmed down significantly – I have only had three passing out/shaking episodes since he saw me in January – and my body is ready for more treatments. He has me taking a wide variety of supplements to strengthen my nervous, immune, and connective tissue systems and on a clean nutrition plan to give my body the best shot at digesting and absorbing the food I eat.

This regimen is a lot of work. It takes all the dedication and focus I have…really, more than I have as my whole family is contributing to helping me succeed. They prepare my foods for me, help me remember my pills, and encourage me to keep on keeping on when I just want to throw in the towel.

This last week of treatments was good and hard and painful and wonderful all at the same time. I was able to get one injection of my own plasma into my knee and one injection of stem cells into my bottom…both without anesthetic of any kind. Gotta say, that hurt…a whole heaping lot. My butt is still sore, but it is easing up. My knee on the other hand hurts.

Today I start the next phase of our treatment plan and pray that my body is infused with new life just like the plants on this beautiful spring day.

Quote for me to ponder..

Sometimes we give up what we want most for what we want in the moment.

What I want most is an eternal family linked by covenant and happy, healthy relationships. What I want second is to be able to function physically. What I often want in the moment is ice cream, sleep, and long days full of fun and big projects. It is spring and time to start anew focusing on the things I want most.

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a moment of normal

Nov 13, 2014 by

Tonight I feel like a normal human being. A human being who doesn’t pass out, can walk through the grocery store, and walks at a normal speed. I haven’t felt this normal for weeks and especially not for the past five days since the shaking incident on Saturday. I spent Saturday – Wednesday in bed recovering. Then yesterday I was moving vvvveeeerrrrryyyy slowly as I made my way through the halls at iFAMILY and then to the Cross-Country Awards Banquet and then the Evening of Excellence program last night.

Jeremy worked on my inguinal ligament again today and said all the shaking on Saturday set me back on my healing time quite a bit. He would really like me to find a brace to hold my hip socket in place and give the muscles a break so they can heal. And while all of that is kind of depressing, I walked normally today. Normal speed, normal gait, normal heart rate, normal everything.

AND I TOOK MY BOY ON A DATE! Like a normal mother. A date with yummy food, a trip to the bookstore for a new Star Wars book (goodness, he is obsessed with all the Star Wars stuff!), and a quick trip into Sam’s Club for some staples like cheese, sour cream, and tortillas.

Oh, my stinking heck. What a blessing to feel like a normal human being for one afternoon.

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