Monday, February 28, 2011

For the Love of Aimee by Julie Riera Matsushima

(Unfortunately) Due to sickness in the family (oh how we're so sick and tired of the flu!), I was able to read For the Love of Aimee within a short few days. (Yes, the flu slows me down and gives me time to sit and read during the day. It was actually quite nice.) For the Love of Aimee is written from the perspective of the grandmother -- a grandma who is heavily involved in her granddaughter's life. Aimee, born with microcephaly and cerebral palsy, was given a grim prognosis at birth. The family was told that Aimee would, at best, live in a vegetative state. Julie explains in her book, their fight for Aimee and the course of action they took to make sure that she was able to meet her potential. To her credit, it seems that Julie, as Aimee's advocate, was a driving force behind seeking the proper help and therapies that Aimee could (and did) benefit from. Perhaps it was because she was close enough to the situation, but also just removed enough, that she was able to more clearly see the big picture. I'm not sure. But it doesn't really matter. The love and bond that these two share is inspiring and I found myself imagining my future grandbabies and being this involved in their lives as well. They were nice daydreams.
As excited as I was to read this book, I wasn't sure what to expect. I knew that Aimee had cerebral palsy and microcephaly. I wasn't sure how I'd feel as I read the pages. The cover art is a picture of Aimee, and I immediately noticed similarities between Samantha and Aimee. I could picture Samantha 10 years from now, and I began to worry if while I read this book I would be too attached to Samantha. Would I be comparing? Would it remind me of feelings I've had? Would it be painful to read? On some level, I was expecting myself to cry a lot during this book. I'm not sure why, but I think I expected that this would dig up some old buried feelings that my subconscious had buried -- or some other mumbo jumbo like that. To my great relief, I was fully invested in Aimee and Julie's story together. I anxiously read to find out what happened next in her life. I was curious. I felt inspired. More importantly, I felt happy for Aimee's successes. And, most importantly, I felt hopeful for my own Samantha's future, whatever it is. Yes, there were times when my eyes filled up with tears...and perhaps they spilled over and ran down my cheeks. But I more often smiled and laughed as I read. Julie and Aimee's story is a happy one, and I was so grateful for that. We ought to read more happy things that uplift and encourage us.

Aimee's positive attitude and determination did, however, remind me a lot of Samantha's, and reading this reminded me of how grateful I am to have her in my life. For me, the most poignant section of the book is found in the epilogue.

Without Aimee just the way she is, I would have missed out on the experience of a lifetime. I would have missed the self-satisfaction of overcoming personal challenges. I would, most likely, have never known my own capacity for devotion to a grandchild in need who was wanting to be loved and acknowledged as a valued human being. I would never have understood what it means to truly respect another individual, body and soul, for who rather than what they are. Most of all, I would not have known that faith and hope are at the heart of our existence, no matter what kind of existence it is.

When Samantha was born, and the doctors gave us Samantha's grim prognosis, I cried. As I held Samantha and my tears dropped on her tiny head, her cap absorbing each tear, Marcus put his arms around me. He boldly stated that one day we would look back and say that we wouldn't have it any other way...that Samantha is a blessing the way she is. He confirmed that we wouldn't feel this way today or tomorrow, but in time we would see the blessing that Samantha is...just the way she is. I have experienced this change of heart that Marcus told me we'd have, and I know he has as well.

When I read this paragraph in the epilogue, it rang true in my heart...and my mind. It makes such clear sense to me, partly because I have experienced it myself with Samantha, but also because I believe Julie and I share a similar faith and belief that there is a greater plan and if we accept that, we can receive the blessings that await. Samantha has touched my life in more ways than I could begin to explain in this post...and Aimee does the same for all those who feel of her spirit, whether from meeting her or even just reading about her. She's an incredible young woman who is a sister, daughter, granddaughter, and teacher. I'm glad I had the opportunity to read this book and be reminded of the innumerable blessings in my own life. Even though this is about Julie and Aimee, I found myself wondering a great deal about Aimee's parents. I wondered what it was really like at home. I wondered about Chloe, her identical twin sister, and how she felt about Aimee's special attention. I wondered about Jeffrey, the younger brother, who was born into this special needs family, and how he felt about everything.

Though Julie Matsushima paints a picture of her journey with Aimee and special needs, we can all learn from the lessons taught in this book -- the need for patience, increased charity (the true meaning of the word), dealing with trials, choosing to act or react to life, etc. It's definitely worth reading.

** You can find more information about Julie Riera Matsushima at her website and more information about her advocacy for special needs children at her non-profit foundation webpage, That's Amore Chairtable Foundation, Inc.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Book Review

Well, this is super exciting.  I have a ton of books -- ok, something more like 3 -- that I need to write about and add to my blog, but I've been a little busy lately, and I'm kind of behind here.

BUT, a couple days ago, I was contacted by a publishing company, well, their PR person, and they want to send me a book to read and review.  It was a personal email, to me.  I was a little leary at first.  I mean, I've never been approached to read and review a book.  The book is written by a grandmother whose granddaughter was born with microcephaly...this is a book about their journey together.  I have to say I'm really excited to read it for a few reasons -- one is that I've recently started writing about my own life with Samantha. looking for my review!  (I just feel so special -- said in the Church Lady voice of course)

I'm so excited

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

This was a really interesting book. I liked the perspective, letters between diabolical servants -- but I had a hard time getting into it. I'm not sure why. I began reading it as a story between these two devils. But then, when I switched and started reading it as a story about the man they are trying to trap in sin, it became more enjoyable. Then, however, I found I had switched again to focusing on the 2 devils. For whatever reason, I couldn't organize my reading. Perhaps it's beacause of everything going on while I was reading it and I just coudln't focus? I'm not sure. Either way, it's a short book and though it took me a bit to get into it, by the end of the book I liked it and was glad I had read it. It made me think of Satan and his devious ways a little differently. There were some parts that were disturbing because you can't help by self-reflect during the book and I found that I had gotten into some of the traps C.S. Lewis mentions. Very interesting. No, I don't believe I'll be thrust to Hell, but the subtle traps he uses are very interesting. It's an eye opening piece of fiction.

Bio-Hazardous Zone

I hate being sick.  I could leave it at that, but I'll go on...

Last Friday Marcus and I had a date.  A real date.  We went out to dinner and it was blissful.  We used a gift card for Chili's and I have to say, both Marcus and I felt a little cheated -- unfulfilled.  We are trying to eat healthier, and so the meals we got didn't consist of burgers and/or fries.  At the end, even though our food was great, we felt cheated.  Grrr for healthy eating I guess. 

So, we get home from our date, and strangely, I throw up.  I just...threw...up.  Gross.  I had no warning, which in a way was nice because I usually am feeling horrible before the event actually occurs.  Anyway.  The rest of the evening I just didn't feel all that great.  Saturday Sammy starts to have a really congested and runny nose, and I'm not feeling my best, but whatever.  Saturday night Sammy is up through the night coughing.  I go in to check on her and she is soaking wet with sweat.  Poor girl.  We "sleep" on the couch together, which means I was awake until about 6:30am.  Sunday we keep Sammy home from church and I volunteer to stay with her since I'm feeling a bit worse, thinking it's lack of sleep.  Monday Sammy has a fever of 101.3.  That night I get an email from Scribbles and Giggles that she has been exposed to strep.  I call to make an appointment with the doctor.  Tuesday Sammy clearly has a fever, Callie has a fever, and I'm feverish.  Strep tests are taken for all of us.  From 2pm-9pm Sammy throws up every 20-30 minutes.  We get Zofran prescribed for her and, as per nurse instructions, have to keep her up until about 11:30pm to get fluids in her gradually (and to avoid a hospital visit and IV).  Between the hours of 2:30pm and 7:00pm she doesn't move, sitting on the couch "watching" tv.  She only moves to vomit.  Callie chills on the couch all day too because her fever is high and she's pretty fatigued.  I feel bad, but am in mommy mode.

Wednesday.  Strep test positive for Sammy, negative for me and Callie.  We go back for a second test (just in case) and to pick up Sammy's medicine.  Last night I had chills and sweating, couldn't sleep.  I'm currently super congested and feel horrible.  I'm starting to think that I really don't have strep, but am kind of wishing I did so I could just take an antibiotic and be done with it.  Callie seems to be doing a little better too.

Colin is also sick -- but he think he got his from co-workers.  So, here, in the Green household, we have possibly THREE different illnesses flying around.


Sammy in her not-moving-from-the-couch-but-only-to-vomit phase.
Thursday has been a little better I suppose.  Sammy is actually eating some.  Callie seems to be doing better, and my recovery is coming in waves.  Callie and my strep tests came back negative.  I just hope we don't pass this on to Marcus.  

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

The HistorianThe Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

I loved this book -- really really loved it. I started reading it last year and then was juggling too many books. I was reading a lot at night, and this book was too scary for me to read at night (yes, I'm a wimp) so I had to only read it during the got dropped. Recently, however, I started reading it while I was at the gym and I loved it! It's not "scary" but definitely creepy. What I loved: I loved the setting. There's a lot of traveling in the book, and I was intrigued by her descriptions and these places I've never been to. I was also, however, thrilled that part of it takes place in Budapest and fell in love again with that city. I enjoyed the characters, though at times I was annoyed, but that's ok. And finally, I'm so happy with the ending. A book about Dracula -- it could be very cliche and unoriginal, but she did a fabulous job...and I love how she concluded it. I'd recommend it. Great piece of fiction.

View all my reviews

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

the perfect "sisters" picture:

No, look over here.

Callie, put your head down.

Were you trying to wink?

Um, try not to look so startled.

And the goofy smile isn't what we're going for now.

Oh well. Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sammer Fredette

Back over Christmas, Bryan started calling Samantha Sammer Fredette.  The name stuck and she proudly responds to it.  And rightfully so.  Have you heard all the news about Jimmer?  That's right.  We've had a good time reading all the responses to innocent Michelle's opinion published in the Daily Universe (read the comments after)....but this is so good, I just had to post it.  If you saw the original (which I can't find anymore), you'll enjoy this even more.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Other People's Potties

Callie's been home potty-trained, I call it, for awhile now.  What does that mean?  She'll use the potty only at home.  She had a terribly traumatic experience (though we're not sure what it was) that made her very much afraid of other people's potties.  I didn't push it.  I didn't want to force her.  For the most part, she's been really good at "holding it" until we got home.  I did always have to make sure she tried to go before leaving anywhere, but even when I was a wee lass and using other people's potties, my mom made me "try" before we went anywhere.  When we'd be out, I'd ask her if she needed to go.  I always told her that I'd hold her -- because she was afraid she'd fall in (and rightfully so, my goodness!).  But, she never wanted to use the potty in public or in someone else's home.

In the past few weeks, Callie's made some HUGE break throughs.  She has used other people's potties on several occassions, and even today, she went while we were at the park -- a PUBLIC, kind of scary, potty!  Way to go Callie girl.  And everytime she goes she says, "Mommy, you hold me?"  "Of course Callie."  "Because you love me."  "That's right Callie.  Because I love you."  She says it very matter-of-factly...and I love it.  Today, as we entered the scary park bathroom, she asked with trepidation, "
Mommy?  You hold me?" 
"Yes Callie." 
"You won't let me fall in?" 
"Have I ever let you fall in Sweetie?" 
"I will never let you fall in Callie.  I'll hold you." 
"Because you love me." 

Ahhhhhhh.  Sweet girl.  And pee she went in the potty. 

In addition to her ability to now use the bathrooms in different locations outside of her secure, familiar potty at home, she has been napping without a diaper.  We haven't had one accident.  I had noticed that her diaper was dry for awhile now after naps, so we just didn't put it on one day...we haven't gone back. 

Oh, she's growing up...and what's worse...she's called me "Mom" many many times now in the past 2 days!  My baby girl is growing up.

Monday, February 7, 2011


So, after much agonizing, we finally bought a camera back in November.  Here's how it all went down.  (Small preview of Callie dancing in the kitchen...)

After we bought our camera, Callie dancing in the kitchen.  I didn't really know how to use our camera then, so things were blurry, but I was loving the continuous shoot -- still am!

There are a few reasons why I bought the camera I bought.  One is the speed.  Now, I was debating over Nikon and Canon for awhile.  It was very stressful -- I felt like I was deciding if we should have another child or something!  It was ridiculous, but this was a very important decision for me.  I researched it out.  I asked around.  I asked YOU.  Then, I went to Wolf Camera, where they turned my world upside down!  UpSiDe DoWn I tell you!  "Have you thought of a Sony?"  SONY?!  No!  I informed the kind gentleman that I hadn't thought of Sony and I'd prefer not to be introduced because I'm sure an ulcer was forming just at the mention of a different brand.  He smiled and continued.  And, he sold me.  I had me at 7 frames per second.  Now, I've never been one to have the newest and best thing on the market, but as of now -- within this price range (a camera under $1000), this is the "best" camera on the market.  I wasn't sure if he was just throwing me a load of salesmanship or it was real.  I did my research -- AGAIN -- and I have to say, I was impressed.

The Sony NEX-5, what I purchased, is the newest addition to our family (I'm thinking of starting a scrapbook).  There were a few things I wanted in a camera: 1) speed.  In 2010, I couldn't have 12 pictures of Samantha that we liked.  TWELVE.  I feel like a year came and went and we have nothing to show of that.  I worry that if she were to pass away, I'd have missed years.  I really want these pictures to capture her so I have see her.  It's a fear of mine.  I remember when my sister left for her mission.  One day, I realized I forgot what she looked like, even though I had pictures.  I so worry about what would happen if Samantha were to die and I didn't have pictures...the fine details I'd forget over time.  So, yes, speed was important to me because she's one fast lady and we haven't got one ioda from last year.  2) color.  I wanted quality pictures.  I took some pictures with the Canon Rebel and the colors just weren't as sharp and bright as my dad's Nikon.  I wasn't sure if it was a setting thing or not, but I wanted nice color.  3) user friendly.  I'm not a photographer, so I wanted to be able to use it with ease.  4) 12 megapixels.  I wasn't exact on this, but I like to blow up pictures, so I wanted them sharp.  I wanted the most megapixels that I could get for the price I was willing to spend.  5) price

What we got.  1) speed.  Currently this is the fastest camera on the market.  2) Lens quality.  I had been planning on buying a new lens once I got a camera.  However, the lens that this camera comes with is high quality.  The only lens I'll need to purchase -- or want to purchase -- is a zoom when they come out.  Yes, it is a new camera so there are no other lenses currently but a wide lens I believe.  8 lenses are scheduled to come out in the next 2 years.  3) color.  Fantastic!  I don't remember all the lingo, but there are a ton more sensors or something, so the color is good.  There.  4) 1040 HD Video.  This was unplanned.  We weren't planning on getting video, but it was less expensive to get it in one camera then wait to buy a new video camera later.  So, we splurged.  5) Small size!  Yikes, this mama is small and fantastic.  I have a case for it, but I also bring it with me in my purse when I take Callie to ballet, and when I do quick trips.  6) weird looking.  Yeah...we've gotten some quizzical looks when I pull it out, but I love this thing, so I'm good with it.  Plus, I really think they'll be more popular and not so foreign looking within the next few years.  7) higher price.  Higher than anticipated, but once I was decided on it, I quickly earned the money needed.  To get that video, it was a couple extra hundred, but I believe worth it.  8) 14 megapixels.  9) 100s of really great pictures of our girls.   And that, to me, was worth the extra hours of tutoring and cleaning houses.

The girl's got soul.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Thoughts on Sammy

...found over at Kidz


Many of you know we have started doing an additional therapy with Samantha at home.  She was first evaluated in August.  She was tested at having an overal nuerological age of 8.8 months -- this is when she was 50 months old.  We were given a plan -- what we were to do everyday.  For almost 6 months, I did what I could, Marcus helped out...I fell off the back on.  She was re-evaluated on Friday and these are her new stats:

Chronological age: 55.5 months
Nuerological age: 12.1 months

This is good.  There was a 4 months improvement over 5.5 months.  Compared to other kids her age, she's sitting at 21% -- whereas before she was 17%.  Here's the big thing though -- as good as it is to show these numbers, when you compare Samantha to herself -- when you compare her rate of progress over the 50 months to the rate of progress over the past 5 months, she has improved 289%!  She has made more progress in the past 5 months than she had made on her own (with OT, PT, Speech, Water therapy, craniosacral therapy, etc) for 50 months!  We're pretty excited over here and are looking forward to her next evaluation in July!

Way to go kiddo.  Keep it up!!!

And, just because I laugh everytime I see's what 7 frames a second looks like with Sammy!  I love our new camera.  Have I already mentioned that?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mormon Women

I may have mentioned this before, I can't remember. But recently I was invited to write for a blog called Mormon Women. I readily accepted and will write monthly. Mormon Women is a blog for all women. The target audience, however, are those who are not LDS and want to find out more. Anyway, my newest addition can be read there. As I reread it, I couldn't help think "ooo I needed to reword that" "that doesn't make sense" "Oh Jenny. Don't mess up like this again." Nevertheless, I'm posting it up here so years down the road, when I want to remember what I've written, it'll be here.

I have found that sometimes words flow freely; it's easy to express in writing your thoughts. But most often, it is very difficult. oh well. Here's an example of from the "difficult" and hopefully someone understands what I was trying to say.


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