Monday, January 28, 2013

Currently

-I am currently over the many bugs seeming to be passed around this winter.  So far we've cancelled Sam's birthday party twice, so I'm hoping it comes to pass this weekend.  Just when some people get better others seem to come down with something.  I'm crossing my fingers we can kick sick to the curb.

-I am currently elated that I saw blue sky.  This is the time of year when I question why I live in Utah.  Winter has been particularly winter-y this year, and between the cold and the snow and the frequent inversions, I'm ready to head south.

-I am currently realizing that I bit off a little more than I could chew for a few days this week.  The days I race from one commitment to the next never seem to go very well.  I'm assessing to see what can be cut or postponed, and I don't feel too guilty doing so.

-I am currently menu planning for the rest of the week.  We tried this delicious dinner tonight and it was a great weeknight meal- not too labor intensive but flavorful and delicious.  Beef stew, lasagna, and a new chicken pot pie recipe are on the menu so far for the rest of the week.  Hearty winter fare is definitely winning this week.

Hope you're surviving the winter-time blues.  Three more days until the longest month of the year is over.  I can't wait!


Enough

The weekend after we returned from Idaho with my dad, it was our annual Stake Women's Conference.  We were still very much adjusting to our new schedule and I still had a small baby at home, but I knew that everything at home would still be there when I returned.  The husband assured me that he could hold things together for a few hours, so I left and went to the conference.  I was not prepared for the speaker's message to feel directed to me.  I was not prepared to sob through the whole meeting.  I was not prepared for the promptings that would come almost faster than I could write them down.  I was not prepared to feel the love of my Father in Heaven so abundantly just for me.

The speaker was Emily Freeman, and she spoke on the promise of enough.  She talked about the miracles that happen when we work with the Lord to take what we have and make it more.  She spoke of the abundance that can come when we need a miracle.  I was keenly aware that I was in desperate need of a miracle.  How could I care for 3 young children, one of which was a newborn?  How could I meet the needs of my dad?  How could I continue to function in the leadership positions I held?  How would my marriage hold up under this kind of pressure?  Suddenly I felt a greater peace than I had up to that point, that there would be enough.  Enough time.  Enough patience.  Enough stamina.  Enough help.  Enough love.  Not just enough, but enough and to spare.  

When my dad moved in, he had minimal resources.  We knew that we were not only entering a physical, emotional, and spiritual challenge, but also a potentially difficult time financially.  We had savings that began to deplete as we paid for co-pays on top of co-pays and prescriptions and supplies and COBRA premiums and a variety of other expenses.  After about 4 months, things began to look grim.  We were still wading through red-tape to get a short-term disability pay-out, and we had no promise of Social Security or Medicaid or anything else that might help ease the financial burden.  The husband and I sat down and looked at things and had a talk about how we might make things work, possible ways to improve the situation.  We prayed that night asking for help and went to bed. 

The next afternoon the husband called in the middle of the day.  His voice sounded different and I started to worry at the beginning of the call.  He asked me to guess what he was holding at the moment, and a variety of bad options filled my head- a pink slip? a pay cut? Faith was hard to find some days and I feared more bad news.  In quiet disbelief, he told me that his boss's boss had called him into his office to award him a bonus for his outstanding efforts.  The amount of the bonus was slightly more than a month's salary.  Tears streamed down my cheeks as well as his as we expressed our gratitude for a perfectly timed blessing.  

Cutting checks at the husband's job are a long process.  The award would have gone through approval and red tape weeks ahead of time.  But somehow things worked out to receive that blessing exactly when we had asked for it, exactly when we needed it most.  It was just one of the many times we witnessed the promise of enough.  

As I talked about in my last post, all of us will have times when we experience loss.  But in contrast, I am constantly amazed at the abundance that we find in the Lord.  Miracles are truly waiting for each of us.

In an effort to remember what I've been through taking care of my dad post-stroke and share the growth and beauty that came along the way, I will be journaling this experience as part of Bee a Little Better.  You can find all posts in this series under the label "the dad story".  I hope you'll stick with me as I record this experience.  If it doesn't interest you, come back tomorrow for something different.

Loss

This week has been a bit of a roller coaster.  Thoughts of loss have been on my mind frequently throughout the week, especially with some heartbreaking news at the start of the weekend from a dear friend.  Through it all, I've come back to a song that I first heard a few weeks ago.  The chorus provides such beautiful perspective that all we have comes from God, and that when things seem to be lost to us, they are not lost to Him.  Although this song specifically references loss of a child and loss from adoption, but I feel the application to so many times we feel loss in life.  I am trying to keep the perspective of "what's mine is yours" in relation to the Lord, and knowing that He knows what is needed for all of us.  I am grateful to know that all loss is somehow compensated.




Friday, January 18, 2013

Notes for the Weekend

Look at me!  I'm blogging!  It feels good to write again after being sporadic for so long.  At least I'm writing, because I'm still struggling with the running, and when I say struggling, I mean not having my husband home so I can do it and not having the energy to haul two kids in the double stroller to go do it.  I need to figure out this plan.  And maybe get a treadmill, although I think running on a treadmill is a cruel form of torture, but it may be the only way that I accomplish this running thing right now.

My family has been sick.  The husband was down Saturday through Tuesday, and despite looking like death he decided he had to go to work Wednesday.  That was just in time for Nellie to start her fever which is still going strong today.  Luckily she's sleeping right now.  Unluckily I'm pretty sure she feels awful.  I'm crossing my fingers no one else comes down with it.  

In the mean time, I'm supposed to be planning Sam's birthday party.  I'm a little reluctant to pass out invitations for fear that the plague will continue to take down the rest of the house.  I'm tentatively planning on Monday (thank you Martin Luther King Jr. Day- you come at just the right time), but I may have to wait until next Saturday.  I'm not sure if Sam can wait that long- his excitement levels are through the roof and his patience levels are not.  I'm also a little tired of party planning.  I guess that's what happens with a birthday at the end of our family birthday season- I'm a little worn out by the end of it all.  I'm going to need to dig deep for a little enthusiasm for another party.  

In other news, Amazon has a bunch of albums on sale for $2.99.  A lot of them are so deeply discounted because I'm not sure who would listen to them, but I found a few this morning that were worth adding to my iTunes library.  I'm currently listening to Carole King's Tapestry album and feeling like I'm about 10 again cleaning on a Saturday morning.  Maybe I should start cleaning again while I listen.  I'm hoping to disinfect every inch of this house.  Luckily there is not a lot on the weekend agenda aside from the birthday party I should be planning, so I just might get something done around here.  

Hope your weekend is fun-filled and germ-free.  I'll be back here soon.  Because I do that now.  I blog, you know.  Ha!

P.S. I turned on word verification.  Too many spammy comments lately.  I'm hoping this keeps the computer robots away, but I'm sorry to do it because I think word verification is all sorts of annoying.  If it's bugging you too much, let me know.  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Set-backs

The first weekend of April my brother came to visit, and I couldn't have been more thrilled.  I remember leaving with the husband for two or three hours at a time the firsts day he arrived to spend time together running errands, returning to feed Charlie and then heading back out again.  It was the most freedom I'd felt in months, and I was so glad to have one of my brothers there to share the load, even if it was only for a few days.

After jumping through a variety of hoops in the process of social security disability paperwork, we had finally gotten word that my dad was scheduled for several appointments with specialists who would determine if he would qualify.  The first appointment was with a physician that first weekend in April.

Friday evening we spent time together with the family, but started to notice that my dad seemed a little off.  His speech had become extremely unintelligible, so he tried to avoid talking that night.  His walking was struggling.  After he went to bed we sat up trying to determine what to do.  The training I'd gone through at the rehab hospital along with my personal crash course into stroke management pointed to the fact that my dad was experiencing a TIA or mini-stroke.  At the same time, we knew if we missed the first disability assessment the next morning that our case may not be taken seriously and the appointment would be extremely difficult, if not entirely impossible to reschedule.  We decided to take him to the appointment and monitor him closely in case he got worse.

My brother and I accompanied my dad and arrived at a strange doctor's office.  Offices normally used by physicians were occupied that Saturday morning by the Social Security staff, and the waiting room was filled with a very motley crew.  I sat filling out a stack of paperwork while we waited.  When it was time to go back to the tiny exam room, my dad barely made it.  He could barely talk to the doctor.  When he was asked to do certain tasks, they were impossible to complete.  The doctor got to the point where he would verbalize what he should be asking next, but he would instruct my dad not to attempt it because there was no way he could accomplish what was being asked.  Then he had my dad stick out his tongue.  It went to the side.  He left the room and came back in several minutes later.  He started to tell us that he was not allowed to give out any medical advice, but he asked my dad to stick out his tongue again.  I told the doctor that we were planning to leave his office and head straight to the emergency room, and he nodded in agreement that we were doing the right thing, although he couldn't tell us in so many words.

We headed to the hospital and spent the afternoon and evening with scans and assessments and phone calls and concerns about his current situation.  He had a TIA.  There was nothing we could have done to prevent it, and he may have more.

All of his progress to that point had been wiped clean.  We were starting over.

In an effort to remember what I've been through taking care of my dad post-stroke and share the growth and beauty that came along the way, I will be journaling this experience as part of Bee a Little Better.  You can find all posts in this series under the label "the dad story".  I hope you'll stick with me as I record this experience.  If it doesn't interest you, come back tomorrow for something different.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Six


I love the poem "Now We are Six" by A.A. Milne.  I feel like it was just yesterday when my mother-in-law was sitting on the couch with Addie teaching her this poem, writing it on paper for her to commit to memory, Addie filling in the borders with illustrations.  And now it's time to teach that poem all over again to my Sam.  I just wish it could come true- that they could stay six forever and ever.  

Sam helped teach me that I could do this job as a mother.  Where I spent so many days questioning everything I did as I mothered Addie, I felt at ease and comfortable starting over again with another baby.  I prayed the entire time I was pregnant with him that he would be a happy baby.  My prayers were answered.  

There are so many things I don't understand about how he ticks- the second born is a bit of am enigma to me.  He moves at his own pace.  He is a slow starter.  He is sensitive to the core.  But he says the most sincere prayers that frequently bring tears to my eyes.  Since my mother-in-law has been diagnosed with cancer, I don't think there's been a prayer where he hasn't prayed for her cancer to go away or for her to get better or feel well.  He prayed for my mom not to be frustrated by the snow during a snow storm.  He prays that Nellie won't cry and that Charlie will share.  Listening to him pray reminds me of feelings I felt years ago rocking him one night in our blue gingham glider.  He is a special boy meant to do great things. Happy Birthday to my sweet Sam.  

"Now We are Six"

When I was One,
I had just begun.
When I was Two,
I was nearly new.
When I was Three
I was hardly me.
When I was Four,
I was not much more.
When I was Five,
I was just alive.
But now I am Six,
I'm as clever as clever,
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.
-A.A. Milne


Monday, January 14, 2013

Our new schedule

After arriving in Utah, the string of appointments began.  My dad needed to get established with new care-providers to continue his recovery.  I spent a while looking through his provider directory and mapping things out in relation to my home.  I was concerned about location because I knew I needed to balance the needs of my kids with the needs of my dad the best I could, so I was hoping for things close to home.  
Within days of our return, we met with Dr. Ling.  She would be my dad's primary care provider and help to manage his stroke recovery as well as his diabetes, blood pressure, and other health problems.  At our first appointment I tried to explain my desire for home health as I still had a newborn and thought it would be helpful so I wasn't spread so thin.  I envisioned a physical therapist coming to work with him in his own environment, along with a nurse to help monitor him occasionally. She thought it was good for my dad to get out of the house and denied my request.  I should have realized that this would be the beginning of negligent care as our questions and needs seemed to fall on deaf ears.
Because home health was no longer an option without doctor's orders, we met with a physical therapist, a kind, practical man named Jerry.  Over the coming months, he worked with my dad to improve his balance, mobility, and strength.  Gradually his appointments lessened from three times a week to twice a week to just weekly until sometime that summer Jerry told me he felt that we'd probably come to the end of the road with physical therapy.  Any progress that would continue would be more of a blessing than something we could expect.  
After getting into a routine with doctor's appointments and physical therapy, we added speech therapy to the mix.  The problem was that the only speech therapist in the provider directory was about 30 minutes away, but we decided it was worth a try.  It only took a few visits with the young, curly-haired hippy before we realized that this therapist was lacking the experience and skills necessary to help my dad.  
It was difficult to watch my dad try to improve.  In the beginning we were so diligent about his stretches and exercises.  We'd sit at the dining room table as he would stack cups or put quarters into cups or reach items that we'd place barely out of reach. I bought hand weights and ankle weights and balls and puzzle books and mirrors and anything that anyone seemed to suggest may help.  We kept a crazy pace going to appointments 3-6 times a week.  My in-laws and kind friends helped watch my kids as I figured out which appointments I could bring them to and which ones they couldn't attend without being too disruptive.  As we got more relaxed about helping him to do his exercises, I gained a lot of guilt about any lack of progress.  I was sure it was my fault because we weren't helping as much as we should.   We really did see a lot of progress until the first weekend in April.  Then everything started over. 

In an effort to remember what I've been through taking care of my dad post-stroke and share the growth and beauty that came along the way, I will be journaling this experience as part of Bee a Little Better.  You can find all posts in this series under the label "the dad story".  I hope you'll stick with me as I record this experience.  If it doesn't interest you, come back tomorrow for something different.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Collecting my thoughts

My brain has been overflowing lately.  Things I need to work on, things I need to do, sorting out some life lessons, gaining perspective and understanding, learning more everyday, improving ever so slowly, it's all there.  One of the things on my resolutions list for this year is to write.  I look back on the times I've documented my life and those words are treasures.  I was lamenting how few recollections I had of my older kids as toddlers, but I found some gems on my old family blog that helped remind me of those times, and I was beyond thrilled.  I started this blog to write part of my story.  And it's a huge part of my story that has shaped the last three years of my life.  It's been three years since my dad had a stroke.  In two weeks it will be three years since he moved in with us.  It has changed me forever.  But I also recognize that that is just part of my story.  There is so much more.  When I think about writing it, it kind of scares the pants off of me.  It's so vulnerable.  But I know it will be good for me to work through some things.  Even if I never hit publish on some posts and they sit in draft form, only for me to read, at least they will be there.  I'm going to work on it.

Another goal for the year that scares the pants off of me? I'm planning to run a half marathon.  It's January 10th and I'm yet to start walking again, let alone running.  I haven't done any exercise since pre-Nellie.  The run is in June.  I'd call it a race, but I know it's not really going to be a race for me, just a run.  I'm scared that I won't follow through.  I'm scared that my body won't be able to push to those limits.  I'm scared that my normal pace of life will take over the times I'm planning to run.  The proceeds benefit local cancer patients who can't afford treatment, and just typing that makes my eyes fill to the brim.  As we're in the middle of my mother-in-law's cancer, it has affected our family in ways I didn't expect.  My kids are becoming familiar with terms that I had no idea about at their ages.  They have a compassion that I can only hope to develop.  Tonight I attended a class on chemotherapy with the other adults in my husband's family, so we can know what to expect over the next six months.  I feel confident going into this knowing that my mother-in-law will come out ok on the other side of it, but it doesn't change the fact that she still has to go through it.  So while she's doing her hard thing, I'm hoping to do a hard thing and run.

I have yet to totally outline my plans for the year, but maybe with the two afore-mentioned goals I should make it the year of doing the things that scare me.  I'm also deep in introspection as I try to rid myself of some of my less-awesome personality traits and trade them in for better ones.  Change is hard.

I am in a place right now with a really soft heart.  There are many things I'm learning, and it's hard to recognize all of those faults and the many hurts left in that wake.  There are thousands of mistakes I make every day.  Motherhood is throwing me for a loop lately, with all of my children seeming to have various needs and circumstances that I'm not sure how to meet.  After a few days of potty-training success, Charlie decided it was more fun to explore urine retention and spent a few nights screaming at 11 o'clock at night as he finally could no longer hold all of the day's liquid in his bladder.  Potty training is currently on hold.  Nellie won't eat solids and I'm really ready for her to have another food source besides me.  The most she's eaten are a few grains of rice, 3 bites of avocado just today, and a spoonful of sweet potato.  I've never had a kid who didn't like food this much.  Just when you think you've figured things out, another child comes along and throws you for a loop.  It is hard to gain confidence in motherhood when each child needs such different things.

And there you have it.  A fraction of my current goings-on.  All that to say I'm hoping to be back here more.  And when I'm not, I'm hoping to be running more.  And when I'm not, I could list a hundred other things I'm hoping to be doing, but I'll save those for another day.

Happy weekend.  We have a baptism to attend and a few primary things to pull off and probably a pile of snow to play in.  Hope your year is off to a great start.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sweetness

Addie in the celebration dress she changed into so she wouldn't mess up her white dress for church the next day!  
Last Saturday Addie was baptized a member of our church.  At age 8 we believe that children are more understanding of their choices and the promises they're making.  She was full of all things good and sweet. I loved sharing a few private minutes to talk to her as I helped her get changed out of her wet clothing and into her baptism dress.  I talked to her about the feeling she was experiencing (besides being all wet) and the promise that she can feel that same clean feeling every week as she partakes of the sacrament.  I talked to her about the importance of choosing to be baptized and how this is a wonderful decision that can be followed by many more good decisions in her life.  Before we went back to the meeting I stood with her in front of the mirror and encouraged her to take a mental picture of that moment.  There are a few fleeting images from my baptism cemented in my head, and I wanted her to have a few of her own to look back on over the years.  She received a sweet blessing from her dad as she was confirmed.  I couldn't have asked for things to go any better.  We came home to celebrate with family and friends over brunch, and everything was completely lovely.  I am so grateful for this good girl and her desire to choose the right. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

All things

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When I was at BYU I took multiple religion classes from Todd Parker. One of my most memorable lessons learned in one of his classes was the gospel principle that all things testify of Christ. He gave example after example of things in our world, things we experience, that can all be paralleled to the Savior. As I've been thinking about embarking on a New Year, I realized yet another example of this principle. I think it's more than appropriate that the New Year comes just the week after Christmas. The holidays soften our hearts. Beginning with the gratitude at Thanksgiving, our hearts and minds continue to soften through Christmas. Our focus shifts from ourselves and as we focus on Jesus Christ, we reach out to others and feel the blessings of charity. The grand finale of it all is the New Year, a chance for all of us to set goals and start anew. It finally clicked for me how fitting it is that the New Year is the capstone for the holiday season. Annually, packed into a 6 week period, we have the opportunity to reflect on our blessings, reflect on the Savior, and make changes. It is truly the Savior that softens our hearts and inspires us to change, and the Atonement is what makes it possible for us to change. The New Year is almost a celebration of the Atonement- the chance we have to repent and improve! We set goals because of Christ. We feel inspired to because of Christ. And we can improve because of Christ. It is more than a coincidence in calendaring. All things testify of Christ.

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This post was originally posted on my family blog several years ago, but I wanted to share it here.  The past few days I've been reflecting and re-evaluating to come up with a few goals.  I'll be back to share them soon.  Happy New Year!