Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Highlights

2013 came and went pretty quickly for me this year.  Over the past few days I've been thinking about some things/memories/whatever and thought, just maybe, on this last day in 2013, I'd write some of it down.

* Callie turned 5 and will soon be 6.  This was a big year for her.  She started Kindergarten and is doing great.  She is picking up reading like a champ and loving getting older.  Callie definitely tests her boundaries...but we've had a lot of fun this year.

* Sammy went to Utah again and really made some good progress.  From time to time I wonder how long I will keep up some of this therapy stuff.  I mean, it can wear a mama out.  And I'm not sure if there's big enough progress to keep me motivated.  But then I see her do something and am amazed.  She keeps me motivated.  In the meantime, I'm looking for new options for her that may help a little more.  I'd like to find some kind of water therapy for her.  I've tried in the past, but now I'm pretty serious about it.  We're looking into buying her a $2,500 bike!  Yeah!  You read that right.  She uses it at school and loves it.  It would be a good recreational activity for us as a family that she could participate in, AND she gets the great reciprocal movement and patterning.  I don't know.  We'll see what 2014 says about that.

* Micah has grown up way too fast for my liking.  He's adorable.  I mean, ridiculously adorable.  Grandpa can't get enough of him...and the feeling is mutual.  Micah adores "Bampa."  Callie says, "Micah loves Grandpa because he does whatever Micah wants," and she's 100% right.  He's so spoiled, which can cause tantrums at home when I don't let him do whatever he wants, but come on...what are grandparents for if not to spoil the grandbabies?

* Callie thinks I have eyes on the back of my head.  One day she asked me how I knew what she was doing all the time, and I told her that I have eyes in the back of my head.  "Really?!"  "Of course Callie."  "Why don't I?"  "Because you're not a mommy.  When you're a mommy, you'll get your eyes."  Now she's constantly testing to see if I am seeing what she's doing behind my back.  Most of the time I catch her....and she'll say, "You're eyes are open huh?"  Because, sometimes, I tell her...I rest those eyes.  I'm not sure how long I can pull this off.  I never intended it to be something she really believed.  And I seriously thought she picked up on the joke when I laughed when I told her....but alas.  This whole lying to kids is a slippery slope.  First Santa.  Now eyes in the back of my head!  When will it stop?!

* Santa.  I had a terrible internal conflict with Santa last year.  I didn't want to lie to Callie.  I didn't want the stress of Christmas to be on Santa.  Right?  Right.  Marcus labeled me the Grinch.  And I took it.  But, I discussed it with a few people and came to the conclusion that I'm ok participating in our cultural tradition of Santa Claus.  And, this year it was quite exciting.  Santa is magic.  Jesus is real.  Callie is quite literal and analytical...one day in the car she declared to me that she didn't believe in Santa.  "Those people dressed up aren't Santa.  He's not real."  "Callie, that's silly.  Of course those Santas aren't real....but we dress up as Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus...but they are real.  People dress up to remind us of those people...to help us feel something.  People dressed up as Santa are trying to give us the magical feeling of Santa Claus and giving gifts.  When we dress up and do that nativity, that's to help us remember and feel the sacredness of when Jesus was born."  I liked the answer, and luckily it worked.  Christmas this year was completely magical.  Partly because....

* We moved into our own place this year.  It was a crazy weekend when we moved: Sweatin' for Sammy, Micah's sealing, moving.  It was busy.  But it's been so great.  Each child has their own room (a luxury here) and I feel like we have sooo much space.  It's been fun to decorate here and there and make things our own little home.  And this year for Christmas, we were able to spend the morning here together before heading over to Grammy and Grandpa's for round 2 of Christmas.  Marcus was a little unsure how it would go, I think.  But he later told me that he loved being at home.  It was pretty incredible.  Callie was so excited, she was laughing at everything.  She thought it was hysterical that Santa left oranges in our stockings...and toothbrushes.  She could barely pull it together.  Christmas was magical in our own little place.

* Micah is such a little mimic.  He's adding so many words each day.  Much to my dismay, "mommy" is not among those words regularly used.  But, he does give me unsolicited kisses, and that makes him not calling me mommy just fine.  I think I'm the only one he just kisses on his own terms.  He is currently obsessed with balls, especially football.  It's pretty cute. 

* I've been feeling like we have some kids missing.  I'm not saying how many, because I don't know.  Maybe just one.  We'll see.  But I'm pretty sure we are going to start the adoption process again, which makes me tired just thinking about it.  It's so time consuming and can be a frustrating process, but it's all worth it in the end.  I've re-realized something recently.  Adoption is not for everyone.  And my feelings have been reconfirmed that if you don't want to adopt, you shouldn't.  I was interviewed for an article at BYU about adoption (I haven't heard if it's been printed yet or not), and I've had many discussions in the past few months with friends who are considering adoption.  In each of those conversations and in the interview, the Spirit whispered to me that this is our plan and it's good.  I already knew that, but maybe that was to help prepare me for this next time...to give me a boost and motivate us to get started and find our baby He has for us.  We'll see, and we'll keep you posted.

* We've had 2 weddings in the past few months.  Those have been really fun and has helped me appreciate Marcus even more.  He's such a good man.  I love him so much and feel very blessed that he's my partner in everything.

Life is good.  We are blessed.  And I'm feeling quite happy.

Happy New Year 
Welcome 2014.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Corn and Cheese Chowder

I've made this a few times and am getting requests for the recipe...because yes, it is that good.  So, I'm going to just put it here on the blog.

If you know The Pioneer Woman, perhaps you are familiar with the recipe.  Her Corn & Cheese Chowder is divine.  I did change it up though.  If you want her recipe, go right to the link.  But below is how I made it...it's nearly the same as her recipe.  Basically, I add potatoes and creamed corn...and don't use 1/2 and 1/2 unless I have cream on hand then I'll do half milk and half cream...but when do I ever have cream?  One time.

Jenny's Pioneer Woman's Corn & Cheese Chowder

4 Tablespoons butter
1 whole onion, chopped
3 slices bacon, cooked and cut into pieces
3 whole bell peppers, finely diced (red, yellow, orange)
2-3 cans of corn
2-3 cans of creamed corn
4 good sized potatoes, cleaned and cut in cubes
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups whole milk
2-3 big handfuls of whatever cheese you have on hand (I use cheddar or Monterrey Jack)

In a pot, boil cut up potatoes.  You can peel them if you'd like...I normally don't for time purposes.

While the potatoes are boiling, in another large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Cook onions for a few minutes.  Add bacon and cook for another few minutes, then add diced bell peppers and cook for a couple of minutes.  Finally, add canned corn and cook for a minute.

Sprinkle flour evenly over the top and stir to combine.  Pour in broth and stir well.  Add cooked potatoes and cans of creamed corn.  Allow this to thicken for 3-4 minutes, then reduce heat to low.  Stir milk, then cover and allow to simmer/thicken for 15 minutes or so.

Stir in cheese.  When cheese is melted and the soup is hot, check seasonings.  Add salt and pepper as needed.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Optimistic Child: A Proven Program to Safeguard Children Against Depression and Build Lifelong Resilience by Dr. Martin Seligman PhD

I write a small book review for the books I read.  It's mainly for myself...a way to keep a running list of what I've read and what my thoughts were on it.  The idea of writing a quick review came from a class I took at BYU.  We were required to make note cards on the 30+ books we read during that semester.  It was a young adult lit class, and I realized then how important those note cards were.  When I became a teacher, and students needed advice about what book to read, I pulled out my note cards.  I had a few students flip through them and choose a book to read.  Often, from my note cards, they found a book that they connected with and that was very satisfying as a teacher.  Now, as a mother, I hope that these blog posts will do the same for my kids one day, a friend, or even myself if I would like to re-read something.

Though I don't read as much as some of my friends, I have read many books and written a few reviews.  Seldom do I write the entire title...including the subtitle...on my post title.  However, this book demanded full attention to the ENTIRE title: The Optimistic Child: A Proven Program to Safeguard Children Against Depression and Build Lifelong Resilience.  I have been told I am an optimistic person.  I happen to agree.  I grew up in a very optimistic family.  If there was a problem, we just needed to figure out how to fix it.  Individually, we could do anything we put our minds to.  If something happened that was painful or hard, after crying or being sad about it, we just knew that it would get better -- or that there must be a reason for it -- or that there was something to learn from that experience.  I remember my Junior year in high school, I went through a really rough time.  I have told people that I was kind of depressed that year.  But you know what?  What "depressed" looked like to me was crying because I couldn't find my shoes in the morning (that happened once), and feeling worn out in general (hello...I was taking a pretty good academic load, plus year-round sports, musical, class president, clubs, etc.  I was a VERY busy girl).  That's not depression.  That's being a teenager.  But because I grew up always so full of energy and...optimistic...this slump was devastating for my 16 year old self.

I'm now 33 years old and I've experienced a lot more than just busy days and rough classes.  And though I maybe grew up "optimistically," I now have my own children.  Life has gotten a lot more complicated for kids than they were only 10 years ago.  And, I want to protect each of them the best I can.  So when a book claimed to have a proven program to safeguard my children against depression and build lifelong resilience, I took notice.  And I bought and read the book.  I am so glad I did.

Dr. Seligman introduces a concept: what if we could immunize our children against depression?  We have immunizations against other various physical diseases.  What if we could immunize our children against mental health ailments?  He claims we can; and he has a very convincing case.  His ammo?  What he calls Realistic Optimism.  Dr. Seligman and his team created a class...a course...that they offered to the most at-risk for depression 5th graders.  After the 24 week class was over (1 hr/wk for 24 weeks), these at-risk kids not only demonstrated a huge improvement in the way they thought, but these results were long lasting.  The same group was followed and re-evaluated every 6 months until graduation.  The program was then used on another group of at-risk kids.  Success.  Another group.  Success.  Then, the program was created for teachers.  Teachers were trained and used these methods in their classrooms.  Then the same program was created for families....so parents can do this with their own children.  These programs can be found online.  Read the book, and download the program.

Dr. Seligman makes the case that pessimistic thinking patterns are what fuel depression.  Can we change those patterns?  Yes.  And he provides a structured way to do it.

There was one part of research that really stood out to me.  We often talk about how depression is genetic...having a history of depression in a family will increase one's likelihood of having depression themselves.  However, in a study with twins -- identical twins who grew up together and in different households -- they found that the genetic link is much weaker than originally thought.  Genetics contributes about 25%.  The other 75%?  Environment.  If you grow up in a home with depression, that's your environment.  BUT, those mental patterns can be changed.  And seeing that most of my children have been adopted....this comforts me.  Yes, we may be predisposed, or more inclined to have pessimistic thoughts, which according to Seligman is an epidemic...but, now I feel like I have tools to really safeguard my kids so they can experience, and create, joy in their life.

I can't recommend this book enough.  I loved it and plan on using his program when my kids get older for family night lessons.  For now, I'm doing small things he recommends for toddlers...some we are already doing, and others I'm incorporating into our daily dialogue.  Anything I can do to help my kids feel more in control of their life, to have more peace, and to be more successful...I'm all for it.

I Didn't Plan to Be a Witch by Linda Eyre

My nephew was baptized in August.  The kids and I drove down and spent the weekend with the family to celebrate this milestone in his life.  During that time, I was able to talk with my sister-in-law.  As a side note, I love her.  Peggy is among the best people I know.  She is sincerely kind, beautiful, smart...a good and loyal friend, great mother, and stellar wife.  So, it was fun to spend time with her, my brother, and my nephews -- and the bonus was that my parents had flown out too.

Back to the book.  Peggy and I were talking about books we were reading, or had recently read, and loved.  She handed me I Didn't Plan to Be a Witch and told me to read it.  I did.  And I loved it.  Loved it.

If you are aware of the Eyre's, you know they have written many parenting  books and have quite a following.  They have a pretty extraordinary family and have made a business sharing them all with the world.  And, it's all really great stuff.  Inspiring stuff.  Encouraging stuff.

Why did I love this book that Mrs. Linda Eyre wrote?  Probably because I love the title.  It spoke to my heart.  Because, truly, I am a witch.  On some days (more than I'd like to admit), something takes over me and my inner witch is unleashed.  ahhh  I try.  I do.  But too often I feel like I'm totally lacking and failing my children.  I'm convinced that I'm screwing up their future and that they will be on some tv show, or heaven forbid writing a blog post, about how their mother scarred them.  (sigh)  Logically, I know that's not going to happen (or at least I hope not), but I do worry that I'm not nurturing them as they need.

So, this book was just what I needed.  It brought the perspective that I needed.  It reminded me that I'm not messing up that badly...and in fact, I may actually be doing a pretty good job.  Linda Eyre's sincerity and combined with her sense of humor helped me feel a little relief and see the humor that surrounds me.  Each principle of motherhood that she describes, each chapter, was a small reminder that I'm doing the most important job I can be doing right now, and I'm doing alright.

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

Have you read this book?  It is wildly popular.  Millions sold.  And, I think I know why.  Basically it's a good book with good information.

I don't have too much to say about it other than I think it's really worth reading...for everyone.  I learned things about myself, my husband, and my children.  And hopefully, with that knowledge, I'm making all those relationships better by speaking their love language.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Today, I felt an immense sense of gratitude.  No, it was more than that.  I felt flooded with love and...ugh...gratitude.  I'm really trying to find a different word here, but it's not working.  Because, you see, that is exactly what it was.  One moment I was slightly overwhelmed with worry, and a moment later, I was crying because I was so grateful for my children.  Yes, it revolves around them.  And it's not because it's November and Thanksgiving is approaching.  I wish I were that thoughtful and used this month to focus on all I'm grateful for, but I'm not.  I'm neither that thoughtful nor organized to make my lists in preparation for Thanksgiving (though I enjoy reading everyone else's).  No, rather, I was just in a moment.

Samantha has had 2 therapy appointments in 2 days.  These early mornings are dreaded.  They really are.  It's not fun getting up early, sometimes even pulling Sammy out of bed when she's in a comfortable, cozy sleep...only to quickly feed her breakfast and take her to a place she probably doesn't enjoy too much.  Micah crawls all over the place, pulls plugs out of the walls...or tries to stick his fingers into the outlets.  It's all very frustrating.  But, it's also all very necessary...and not that bad.

Sammy's been struggling.  She is tight.  And I'm not talking about..."that's tight yo."  No.  It's not cool.  She's painfully tight.  I don't understand what it is in her brain that tells her body to curl up, to constantly flex her muscles, to not move properly.  I've been giving her warm baths each night to help relax her muscles.  Afterwards, she gets her nightly massage.  This week I was feeling especially in love with her, and as I cuddled with her on the couch...Callie came up and brushed Sammy's hair to the side.  "Callie, you know what I wonder?  I wonder what Sammy would be like if she didn't have all these problems.  Would she be funny?  Serious?  What would she talk about?"  And what I was thinking but didn't say was, "I wonder what games you guys would play together and what you would argue about.  I wonder who would sleep on the top bunk and if she would let you play with her friends."  And it kind of broke my heart.

I noticed Sammy had a small bloody nose on the way to school.  And that small bloody nose triggered something that brought tears to my eyes.  What if something really happened to Sammy?  What would I do?  How could I function?  How could I get up each day?  She brings so much light to my life.  And then Micah interrupted my thoughts with a squeal and I thought...Micah!  What would I do if something happened to him?  I would be crushed.  My heart hurt thinking about it.  He's my cuddlebug.  He's my little man.  He adores me just as much as I adore him, and I can't imagine...cannot imagine my life without him.  I had this image of myself crying on the couch, holding Callie...or maybe it was an image of her comforting me...and then boom.  Callie.  What would I do without Callie?  She's my helper.  My buddy.  My little friend.  I have more conversations with her than I do with anyone else!  Today we had an in-depth conversation about if mice could drive.  The ridiculousness of it all made me laugh.  She brings laughter to my life.  I love her so much.

I feel so blessed.  I can't imagine my life without these 3 little kids.  They make me better, I hope anyway.  My world revolves around Samantha's therapies, medications, and schedules -- Callie's school, activities, and friends -- Micah's naps, meals, and tickle attacks.  These 3 have become our world, in a very very good way.  I can't imagine our lives without them.

Sammy and Callie are asleep.  Micah is playing with Grandpa...probably taking Grandpa on a tour of his own house as I type while Marcus talks to his mom.  I sit in our family room and feel so much love.  So much gratitude.

I am blessed.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

This is one of the best books I've read in a long time.  I absolutely, 100% loved this book.  I have liked a lot of books I've been reading, but this one I couldn't put down.  The story is so compelling -- so well written.

August was born with physical abnormalities.  He has a pretty severely deformed face, and because of that, his parents had always chosen to home school him.  But now, he is older, and decided it was time he enter school...time to not be so sheltered.  Wonder is about his first year in school.  With friends.  With cruel kids.  With insecurities.  With new discoveries.

There are moments that are tragic...and you can't help but feel for August, want to be there to protect him.  But then, there are heroic moments.  Agh.  It's such a great book.

One aspect of the book that I appreciated was the perspective of August's sister, Via.  I often think about Callie and what it's like for her to be Samantha's sister.  What are the stresses she has because of Samantha?  What are some of the feelings she has...without even really knowing it yet...because she is Samantha's sister?  Yes, the book is fictional, but Via's perspective brought me a lot of comfort.  She was honest in her frustrations at times, and her feeling less important...second priority...hurt feelings because her plans would have to be dropped to accommodate August.  But, she also shares her deep love for him...her understanding of it all.

I recently had a conversation with a friend who, I just found out, has a brother with special needs.  He cannot speak, walk, feed himself...some things very similar to Samantha.  Her brother is now 26.  I asked her how she felt growing up with him.  She shared with me how she just adored him...sure, he was different and that meant that she had to help take care of him and whatnot....but she loved him so much all growing up...and still does.

My conversation with her AND reading this book brought me so much peace of mind.  No matter who we are, we will have struggles.  Some will be more obvious than others, but we all are connected through experiencing Life.  I guess that's another reason I loved this book.  By August's apparent, obvious, and perhaps extreme example ~ I was reminded that we ALL need to be more compassionate to others, all the time.  We never know what people are carrying.

Excellent book.  Everyone should read it.

Friday, November 1, 2013

This is Halloween

This year we headed down toward Morgan Hill and hit up Spina Farms.  We went on a Saturday.  Yikes.  But it was fun.  

 Pony Rides
(is she already a teenager?  look at that sass)

More pumpkins.

and a hayride.
That was a big hit.

Micah.  Check out his pose!  Very GQ.

I made Micah's costume this year.  Callie wanted to be a firefighter with Sammy and Micah was to be their dalmatian dog.  When I put it on him, I realized that this cute little face looked a lot more like a cow than a dog.  And, I wasn't the only one who thought that.  At the ward party, people kept saying he was such a cute cow, except for Christine who generously lavished him/me with compliments, "That is the cutest DALMATIAN I've ever seen!"  It brought me joy every time:)  

In the "fire truck"/wagon for the costume parade.

This year, it broke my heart that I wasn't going to be in Sammy's class for her Halloween party, but I was soooo excited to be at Callie's!  I couldn't get any smiles out of her during the parade...

until I got a series of these....

which made me laugh.

I stayed for her class Halloween party and helped with some games.  So fun!

Halloween Night
Much anticipated.
Here we have the firefighters with their dalmatian!

And for trick or treating, Captain America joined us.
We were pretty well protected against any evil-doers with Captain America, 2 firefighters, and a mighty dalmatian.

Callie was so eager to go and we were just too slow.  So she took the truck and went forward!  
Note: When I got her costume, it fit.  In a few weeks time, she grew so much!  I couldn't believe it.  Callie's one tall girl.

I just kind of love this picture!

We hope it was a fun Halloween for all!
Until next year...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Big Brother

When I took this video weeks ago, I just thought it was cute.  I had been spinning Micah and Sammy around on the chair and they were having fun together.  When I stopped, Micah got down and continued the adventure.

I thought it was cute.

I thought it was sweet.

As I watched today, I still think those things.  I think it's a little comical how Micah is the little brother, yet there is nothing little about him.  He's a tank (that's what he should have been for Halloween ~ instead of a dalmatian dog that looks like a cow!).  And Sammy....well...in many ways she'll always be the little sister.

That could be sad.  But, she's such a blessing.  Among many blessings she brings to our home, because of her, we have these amazing little spirits who have come to our home.  Callie and Micah are here, I think, both because of -- and for -- Samantha.

I talked to a friend last night who grew up with a brother who has many physical challenges.  She talked about how she cared for him as they grew up together.  I told her my concern that Sammy's siblings would feel a burden.  She emphatically jumped in and said how she never felt that way...how her brother was always a blessing...how he was someone uniquely special to her.  It brought me a lot of comfort.

I look at this video and see Micah, at 1 year old, spinning Sammy around.  But I think this is really just a glimpse into his and Sammy's future together -- as brother and sister.  He looking out for her...taking care of her...being the "big brother" that Heavenly Father sent him to be.  What does age matter?  I think there is no question that Micah will always be her big brother!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

This Laugh

Ya know some laughs that just make you laugh too?  Yep.  This one is pretty awesome.

Love this kid.

Friday, October 11, 2013

#3 is Gone

Callie's tooth has been loose for about a couple weeks now.  She has very carefully been wiggling it, but at the current wiggle rate, it was still a few weeks before it was going to be coming out.  

Today, Callie and Micah tagged along to Samantha's neurology appointment.  I kept Micah strapped into the stroller because I knew if I took him out, he'd not want to get back in.  But, he also wasn't too happy to stay in that stroller after awhile.  Callie, being the great big sister that she is, went over and tried to distract him.  He was not to be distracted.  Rudely, he took his hand and swiped Callie in the mouth.  I was in the middle of talking to the doctor, so when she curled up to me quietly crying, I just put my arm around her and tried to comfort her the best I could given the circumstances.  Moments later, she pulled away and pulled her bloody tooth out of her mouth.  Bloody tooth.  Literally.  

She was no longer crying, but shocked that Micah had ripped her tooth out.  It was still a little sore, but that went away as the doctor and I did the Lost Tooth Celebration.  

This is just 1 more reminder that Callie's growing up.  While we were in the doctor's office waiting (before the tooth was lost), I was flooded with this love for Callie.  I even teared up .  I just love her so much.  I gave her a big hug.

"Callie, do you know what you are?"
"You're my daughter and I love you.  But you're also my buddy.  I love you so so much."

It's true.  She's my bud.  I love this girl and her toothless grimace.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Monday, October 7, 2013

I Know I'm Going to Offend Someone...but...

Facebook.  I use it.  I post.  I follow my friends.  I follow my acquaintances.  I waste time on it.  I reach out to others through it.  It's a great way of bringing people together, and at the same time, a mind-numbing past time.  Facebook has changed our culture.

Studio C.  We love it.  Marcus and I think it's really funny.  It's super clean, and considering the production and budget, we enjoy it.  It's rare to watch something that is clean and funny, and we appreciate it.

Marcus and I saw this last weekend and thought it was hilarious.  And yes, it's because we see ourselves, our family and friends in this skit.  I'm sorry.  It's just funny.  I know which facebook character I am.  Do you?

(I was going to post this on Facebook, but decided that it wasn't safe...I'd probably offend someone.  And, it's too funny to worry about offending anyone.)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Micah Turns One -- Part 2

Two days later, we celebrated Micah's birthday again.  Cousins, aunts and uncles, Grammy and Grandpa, and birth family all there to join in on the fun.  My one regret...why didn't I get a picture with everyone there?  I always think about pictures I want too late.  But, let's enjoy what we do have.  
Micah with Lindsey and Cindy

Uncle Scotty and Nate showing off his mad flexibility

Mesmerized by the candle

Sammy and Uncle Colin enjoying the party (whether it looks like it or not)

mmmm  This looks a lot like cake.  

Yep.  It's cake.  Let's get drunk on cake.

Micah and Cindy getting ready for presents

For the record, Micah loves this toy tool chest.

I guess Mom was pretty excited about this one.  I was actually.  I was looking at a sorter just a few days before, so I was excited to see my wish granted. :)

And then, this would be the final picture, with everyone who was there.  

It really was a lovely party.  We ate, laughed, played, and had a great birthday for the little man.  Boy is Micah surrounded by a lot of people who adore him.

I love you Micah.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Heaven is Here by Stephanie Neilson

“It's a beautiful heart, not a perfect body, that leads to a beautiful life."  If you haven't read something great in a long time, something beautiful, pick up this book and read it.  The couple days it takes to read this will change your life forever.  The subtitle of the book: "An incredible story of hope, triumph, and everyday joy" sums up the entire book.  Each time I put the book down, I left feeling that hope, triumph, and joy.  Stephanie's words reminded me of all those things that I know...that there is a greater plan for us all.  That no matter what trials come our way, the most important things carry us through -- faith and family.  That life is so much more than what we see in the mirror.  

“Your heart matters most, so be gentler and more patient with yourself, and their hearts matter most, too, so be kinder and more compassionate to others.” 

National Microcephaly Awareness Day

Today is National Microcephaly Awareness Day.

What does that mean to me?

It means that a little over 7 years ago I was blessed with an amazing little girl who would face many challenges.  Words like diagnosis and prognosis became a part of my nearly daily vocabulary as I wondered about these things myself, but also as I answered people's questions.

This day means that I have a daughter, my sweet dear Samantha, who has a head smaller than average...much smaller than average...but whose rosy smile and bright blue eyes take up her entire face!  What a blessing.  What a gift.  It means that people can see angels, miracles, and a glimpse of eternity through those eyes and smile.

It means I have a daughter who does not speak, which can be difficult.  But because of her lack of words, she also isn't limited by words.  I have a daughter who can speak directly to people's hearts.  Words don't get in the way of her communication.  And her message is simple.  She teaches sermons about love, compassion, patience, a loving Father in Heaven and a truly empathetic Savior who has experienced it all on her behalf -- on all our behalves.  She teaches about faith, hope, family, and reminds us that life isn't as complicated as it sometimes can seem.  It's all pretty simple when you cut the fat.

This day to me means Samantha.  Today, many people who love someone with microcephaly are wearing yellow.  I love that.  Today, I'm wearing Samantha.

On my arms when I hug her,
On my hip when I carry her,
In my hands when I brush her hair to the side,
On my legs and feet when I watch her struggle with each step and think about how easy it is for me to even stand,
In my heart...because she's my baby girl and will always be my baby girl.

She motivates me to be better.
She inspires me to try harder.
She is my constant reminder of where I want to be...and she's helping me get there.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Micah Turns One -- Part 1

On September 11, Micah turned 1.  One.  ONE.  That is so crazy to me.  Where did this year go?  His birthday was on a Wednesday this year....most inconvienent.  Marcus doesn't get home from work until later on that day, but we did want to celebrate.  Plus, Analisa was leaving to head back to BYU the next day.  So, celebrate we did -- minus Daddy.

Callie and I made cupcakes for Micah's little celebration.  
 At first, Micah was very tentative about eating this cupcake.

 But he soon realized that this cupcake was friendly and was waiting to be eaten.

 And crushed.

Happy Birthday Micah

At a year old you are walking...all over the place.  You love to climb up your little slide all by yourslef and then slide down.  You and Callie are great buds.  And you love being around Sammy.  You drink more milk than any kid I know.  You are obsessed with our ceiling fan.  You can sign "more," "milk," and "all done."  You love books and are one of the best sleepers around.  We love you kiddo.  

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Ragnar 2013

I have said it before...I'm not a runner.  I really do respect runners though.  They are so disciplined.  My running looks more like a trot.  Furthermore, I really only run when I have something to run for.  When I was younger, I ran for a team...I ran after a ball, to kick it into the goal, or pass to someone so they could kick it into the goal (preferably someone from my own team).  But just run?  Blargh.

Now, I run for races.  It gives me a deadline and motivates me to get out there an do it.  And, over the years, I've come to like running a little bit.  I still have a long way to go.  I still don't love it, but I think I can one day.

Last weekend, I loved running.  Yes.  More than "like," I loved it.

A few months ago, a friend told me there was an opening on her Ragnar team.  What is it?  Ragnar, Napa Valley...the best relay race ever.  Starting from Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, and ending in Calistoga.  200 miles.


I was really looking forward to running Ragnar.  However, I was sorely unprepared.  I had wanted to run while I was in Utah, but it was so hot, I just couldn't.  (or decided I couldn't...whatever)  Shortly after returning from Utah, I hurt my back.  And not just a little.  For about 3 weeks, I was in extreme pain.  I was icing my back all day long, going to a chiropractor 3x a week, and still needing help to get up in bed.  After only 3 weeks, I was beginning to think that I would never feel better and would have to survive the rest of my life feeling pain.  Oh how my sympathy grew for those with chronic pain.

I wasn't able to run for a while.  And Ragnar was quickly approaching.  Before Ragnar, I was running a painful 13 minute mile.  I could barely run a mile straight.  My back had really taken a toll on me.  I told my team leader, Scott, that I'd be much slower than anticipated.  He didn't care.

At the starting line with van 2.
Eric and Scott Summers, Christie Killen, Kari Carlson, me, and Beth Headly.
Van 1 had been running all morning, and we were waiting for their last runner, Jennifer, to come in so Beth could start off our 1/2 of the team.  Since I was the last runner in our van, I felt no pressure to be all geared up and ready to run yet.  
Ragnar came.  I bought my reflective vest, a head lamp, and a flashing back light.  I had snacks, 3 running outfits packed, iPod set...I was as ready as I could be.

Wine country.  It was gorgeous.  I appreciated the beauty of the landscape far more when the others were running.
That weekend was gorgeous.  It wasn't too hot.  We got plenty of rain.  And it was an all around good time.  I was pretty happy that my first run, 5.9 miles, was kept at an 11 minute mile.  My second run, at 4:30am, was a 10 minute mile.  I was pretty excited.  I was the last runner in our van, which meant we were able to go to a hotel and try to get a few hours of sleep before we had to run again.  My 3rd and final run was difficult.  It was only 5.5 miles, but I had a big headwind pushing against me, I was tired after not sleeping for over 24 hours, and I just didn't have the strength.  BUT, I did it.  I brought us home and it was exhilarating.  I loved it.  And I want to do it again!

Yeah!  Team "Running on Fumes" makes it to the end.


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