Sunday, March 13, 2016

Post Treatment Clearness

I have successfully completed my concussion treatment with Cognitive FX, and to be honest, I already miss those guys.  The staff and the other "patients"? quickly became friends of mine, and I miss seeing them every day.  It's strange how quickly you can get used to something, event if it's hard.  I kinda want to go back tomorrow...

This is my group of peeps that went through the same week, with the exception of T-bone, the sweet 10 year old boy who finished and left before we snapped the pic.  They are all amazing.  They were so nice and thought I was still in my 20's.  Haha!

As the week went on, all the therapies grew in intensity and still somehow seemed easier.  It was fascinating!  By the end of the week, I was able to complete tasks I laughed at the first day.  Here are some examples:

Brain Games:  These games started out very difficult to even keep my eyes focussed on the screen with some of the games, but by the end of the week I was able to force my brain to focus.  The games themselves are still challenging, they are meant to be, but I am now able to focus on them so much easier than I was before.  I am supposed to keep working on these daily to continue improvement.

Cognitive Therapy:  The tasks given to me the first day seemed so daunting and near impossible, but by the end of the week I was killing it!  The second day I was able to recall all 15 pictures in the correct order shown to me the day before.  I did it.  Every single one.  Boom!  Then I had to do the same thing with 20 pictures, and nailed that too.  The games got more challenging and at one point near the end of the week the therapist said, "Are you sure you have memory problems?"  YES!  So much improvement!

Neuromuscular Therapy:  The second day, the therapist checked my eyes again and the jumpiness that was there the first day had completely gone away.  "Your eyes are so smooth" he said.  Another big step!  We worked on my peripheral vision and balance with a Bosu Ball and a football.  I had to look straight at him and catch the football without looking at it when he threw it to me, usually from an angle.  He tried to mess me up and trick me, but I was onto him and caught all but one.  That's right. :)  The rest of the week we worked on lots more balancing and strengthening exercises, and lots of focus on posture exercises.  It was very good.  Oh, and the massage was my favorite.  Of course.

Occupational Therapy:  The shape sorting thing got easier, I shaved off about 1/3 of the time it took to complete it at the end of the week.  I got better at the crazy games she had me play that really made me think.  The craziest game was when she would flip 2 cards over and I had to touch the red cards with my right hand, black cards with my left hand, and if there were 2 black cards I had to subtract them, if there were 2 even numbered cards I had to add them together.  Every time there was a heart I had to remove it from the pile, and every time I heard a certain word from the song that was playing I had to turn over the top two cards...after all the other tasks were completed.  Got that?

Dynavision:  On man, this thing is awesome.  It tests so much at the same time.  I loved it!  It's the one thing that really scared me about this whole training, and I loved it almost as much as the massages from Neuromuscular.  Haha!  It tests your peripheral vision and cognitive function at the same time.  It requires you to think fast while focusing on many things.  I got to the point where I was balancing on one foot on a pad, pushing red lights with my palms, green lights with the backs of my hands, and continuously adding numbers as they appeared on the screen.  It was tricky, but my time improved so much!  Here's what it looks like.

So there you have it, my week in a nutshell.  I feel more clear, more quick, and less overwhelmed.  I came home to a house that had been in survival mode for the week (apparently I am more productive around here than I realized) and it's didn't even make me shut down like it would have before.  Woohoo!  Progress!  I just tackled what needed to be done.  It felt good.

Results.  I went from a 2.4 down to a .7...remember that optimal range is between 0 and .8.  This puts me technically within "normal" cognitive functioning.  Although, like my new friend Rett said, "Don't worry, you'll never be normal.  You are a super rocker chick!"  Haha!  No worries people, I'm still crazy old me.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Day 1 - Brain Camp!

Day one went much better than expected.  I walked into Cognitive FX feeling very nervous.  I was on the verge of tears with anticipation of what the day held.  I had no idea what to expect.  I thought I was going to be so frustrated I would want to cry all day long, but I was pleasantly surprised.

First of all, the staff at CognitiveFX is incredible.  They are all kind and gentle as they deal with us fragile little concussed humans.  They have the perfect balance of being patient and kind without being demeaning or making us feel like idiots.  That was a good way to start the day.

First stop for me was going over my results with Dr. Fong.  She explained to me all the results from my brain scan and explained the areas that I lack "normal" abilities.  On a scale of 0-6, where 0-.8 is within normal range, I am at a 2.4, which means moderately impaired.  Could be much worse, could also be much better.  The areas I struggle with most are focus, visual search, visual tracking, memory recall (both short term and long term) and lots more focus.  There are probably other areas too, but I can't remember.  Ha!

Second stop was "Brain Games" where I played on the computer.  These games immediately gave me a headache as I had to focus very intently and tap into my visual skills (which suck) to get the right answers.  That. Was. Hard.

Third stop was Neuromuscular therapy.  The therapist tested my visual tracking, balance, and checked out my neck issues (I have multiple herniated discs, fragmentation that is impinging my C6 and C7 nerves, straightening of the cervical spine, ((which is ironic since that's the only part of my spine that's NOT supposed to be straight and it's the only part of my spine that IS straight)) and most of the discs are degenerative) and he helped work on some of those issues.

Fourth stop.  Hmmm, I can't remember what that was.  Oh yeah, Cognitive Therapy.  This was intense.  I had to play these games that really tested my memory, some card games that I had to also answer unrelated questions while I was playing.  I had to remember details from a paragraph I was to read out loud that was about historical events.  That means I had to remember dates.  Torturous.
I also had to put a bunch of (15) random photos into whatever order I wanted to and then remember the order later on in the session.  I did that successfully!  Although, I have to remember the same order today...not sure sure I'll pass that one.

Then, lunch!  I took the time to check into my hotel and realized just how fried my brain was.  I had a hard time driving there, ended up walking out of the room without my key, and then couldn't figure out where to go to find food.  Once I finally did eat and get back, I was relieved I didn't get in an accident or something.  I'll be walking to lunch today.

Fifth stop was DynaVision.  This is what I was most nervous for.  It's a large board with lights all over it and a blue screen in the middle.  I have to look at the screen and use my peripheral vision to push the buttons that light up as they appear.  This made me dizzy.  The first round was ok.  Then they kept getting harder as I had to do more things simultaneously.  Some of which included reading text while pushing the buttons, pushing the red lights with my right hand and the green with my left, then switching that to the opposite.  Another one had me pushing the buttons while reading words that were missing a letter, I had to decide what the word was and say it out loud while pushing the lights that were flashing all around me.  That was hard.  I'm getting a headache just thinking about it.

Sixth's stop was Brain Entrainment.  This is me sitting in a nice comfy chair with headphones on.  Sounded awesome at first.  Until I realized the headphones would be playing a weird sound that mimics brain waves, mixed with thunder and rain, and my brain was naturally supposed to match the waves of the sound I was hearing.  Not sure I understand that correctly, but it did something crazy to my nerves!  I would get jolts of nerve twinges throughout my whole body every once in a while.  It was nuts.  Only 10 minutes though, then off to.....

Seventh stop was more Brain Games!  They have put together a list of the games I am supposed to work on according to the findings in my MRI.  I played those again for another 30 minutes, and walked away with another headache.

Eighth (last) stop of the day was Occupational Therapy.  This was hard.  First thing was shape sorting.  Like what you have your toddlers do, but on steroids.  That one wasn't bad.  The second "game" was much more difficult.  There were sticky notes on the wall with numbers counting from 1-20.  Half on the right, half on the left, but randomly placed.  My task was to start with one, touch it, if it was on the right side I had to touch it with my left hand while stepping toward it with my right foot, and say a word that starts with the same letter that the number starts with.  (brain explosion) This was SO hard for me.  I couldn't think of more than 2 words that start with T, and there were lots of numbers that start with T, and S and F.  It took me forever, and I'm sure I still repeated some words.  Then I did some things like Scattergories (so hard) and word searches, and short term memory recall games.  It was exhausting!

And now I'm off to start Day 2.  Wish me luck!!

Monday, February 29, 2016

The Worms Ate Into My Brain

So there was this one time (last March, to be exact) when I was ice skating and fell flat on my head.  Hard.  It did this:
Baseball sized goose egg...that did NOT feel good.

And then I couldn't function very well.  My brain kinda stopped working the way it's supposed to and I started making decision that weren't typical for me, and I wouldn't even think twice about it.  There were some clear issues I was facing that became very evident, especially with work.  My ability to focus, follow through tasks, or even remember the tasks at hand was severely decreased.  I noticed that I became very overwhelmed quickly and easily over things that didn't used to be overwhelming.  My brain was on overload all the time and things started to fall apart for me.  Badly.

I could write a book about all the events that transpired since the fall until now (well, if my brain was functional enough to think chronologically and detailed enough to recall all the experiences I went through and I had the ability to focus, then I could) but this is a mere blog post about what is about to happen...

After much research and encouragement, I will be attending a program all next week that is geared toward concussion recovery.  I had a functionMRI done on my brain to determine what parts were performing correctly, and what parts are not.  The results show severe cognitive processing problems in some areas, and these people at Cognitive FX have helped many heal from this same problem.  Here is the schedule of my treatment plan:

The schedule is full of different kinds of therapy, including Neuromuscular, Cognitive, Dynavision, Brain games, and Brainwave Entertainment.  Each of these things intimidate me and make me nervous. 

Now I'm anxious that I'll fail at every one of these, that I will perform horribly and embarrass myself and come back from treatment just as slow and unfocussed.  I'm overwhelmed at the thought of all these back to back treatments that are going to be demanding and difficult.  I'm afraid I'll still be the same, yet I am unsure of what I want to change.  I don't know what to expect, or how to react, or what outcome to hope for.

I wanted to document how I am feeling now so I know what to compare it to when I finish this treatment.  
Right now my daily struggles are with focus, being very overwhelmed very easily, being able to perform “normal” tasks and get things done that I feel like should come easily.  I’m also very obsessive in my thinking.  I get hooked on something very easily and have a hard time letting it go.  If I'm focusing of something and get interrupted, I'm immediately on edge and it takes me a long time to get back on track.  The thought of doing the daily tasks that should come easy to me are debilitating at times.  I just sit and think about it instead, or distract myself with music or social media instead.  Or write a blog about it...
I realize that doing the laundry, or making dinner, or any other daily task that takes little effort (especially mental effort) should be automatic.  But there are days I can't bear the thought of starting the task.  It's too much.  My house is a wreck.  I take care of the emergencies, but can't get through the piles that surround me.  I know that if I got through the piles and eliminated clutter in my visual sight, my brain might feel less cluttered as well, but I simply can't do it.  I've tried, and I become overwhelmed and confused and can't fathom where these things that pile up should belong.

Here is a mild example of how my line of thinking goes most of the time:
"I'm sitting at my computer at the kitchen table.  It's 4:00 and I haven't even thought about what to make for dinner.  
I should clean off the table to it's cleared off so we can eat here.  I start making piles and can't figure out where to put any of them.
I better go check what we have on hand so I can decide what to make.  I get up and go look in the pantry. I notice that we are very low on bread, so I write bread on the grocery list.  
While I'm here, I may as well figure out what else we are low on, so I start looking through the pantry to see what may need to be replaced soon.  
While I'm making a list, I might as well make a meal plan for the week and put everything we will need on the list.  Hmmm, what should I plan for this week for dinners?  
I better get online and see what some ideas are.  
I go back to the kitchen table to get on my computer and search for dinner ideas and realize that the table is still a mess, I haven't decided what to make for dinner tonight, I haven't made a list or a meal plan, and I am back where I started with nothing accomplished...15 minutes later.  The thought of deciding what to make for dinner is still looming above my head, but now it feels like a very large burden that's attached with so many other tasks that I just can't imagine completing. Luckily I have wonderful children, and my daughter came in right then and asked if she could make teriyaki chicken for dinner...just as I was about to become incredibly overwhelmed."

This example is a mild one, but gives the idea of my thought process throughout most of the days.  I'm hoping this treatment will help clear out the muck a bit.  I'm constantly hearing the line from the Pink Floyd song "Hey You"  that says, "And the worms ate into his brain" and I can almost feel it.

Enjoy a good tune here!

This is a very vulnerable place to be, me telling you all this.  But through this journey I have found that to be vulnerable is one of the things that makes me feel alive.  Really alive.  The times when I have hid who I really am are the times I feel like I'm dying inside.  The depression kicks in full force, the anxiety pushes me to the medicine cabinet, and that's not where I want to be.  I want to be vulnerable and rid myself of shame.  Mostly though, I want to fix my brain.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

I just want my own teeth

We don't have the best luck when in comes to dental shenanigans.  Two of the kids and I have all had far too much work done over the years, and today was no exception.
Kayman had an appointment to get some cavities filled.  This is the third of 4 appointments.  They had to spread them out because there are so many visit per quadrant.  Almost done, yay!   Here's how Kayman and I feel about dental work:

Last night I was feeling a little pain in one of my teeth, one that I had a root canal and a crown put on about 2 and a half years ago.  Then I noticed that my gums were swollen around it and it was clear there was infection inside there somewhere.  So, while we were already at the dentist this morning, I mentioned it and asked for the Dr. to take a quick look.

Turns out I had a fractured root, which apparently doesn't happen all that often.  Sadly, when it DOES happen, it's bye-bye very expensive root canal and crown, hello even MORE expensive implant and new crown....and bone graft, and tooth extraction, and percocet, and lots of pain, and trouble eating without one of your molars, and no sucking through a straw for 3 days.  And thousands of $$$.
This is not what I was planning on when I woke up this morning.  Nope, I was going to stop by the gas station and grab myself a Dr. Pepper and drink it all up through a straw this afternoon.  I was going to eat some chips and salsa with my healthy molars.  I wasn't going to be sipping soup, popping pills, and eating ice cream.  Ok, maybe the ice cream, but it would have been a date with my hubby or something fun.

And seriously, let's talk about the fact that I have cadaver bone in my mouth.  That. Is. Disgusting.  I'm not a fan.  I realize that it's imperative to the success of the implant and a necessary step to provide the best environment for my bone to grow back thick and strong, but it grosses me out.  Especially when pieces of it creep out and I'm suddenly mouthing a dead person't bone shavings.  Gross.

So, I get to go about 8 months without a tooth in the main spot where I chew all my candy.  Gobstoppers are going to have to be crushed by the other teeth now, and it's going to feel so weird.

At least this time it's deep enough inside my mouth you can't see it right away.  Not like in 2012 when we had first moved into our home that needed lots of work, with a yard that was severely overgrown, with dumpsters out front to facilitate our remodeling project, and me, without one of my front-ish teeth.  Just a big gap in my pearly whites I'd just had braces taken off of.

Yeah, that one was worse.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Jesus Saves Us All

I have been thinking a lot about the Atonement lately.

I am grateful for the gift of resurrection that is given to all of Heavenly Father’s children that chose to come to Earth.  I love my body and am grateful that I will get to have it for eternity.  I’m especially grateful that my resurrected body will not be subject to pain.  What a relief that will be.
The Atonement overcomes the obstacle of physical death, but more importantly, of sin.  Grace and mercy from God make it possible to return to their presence after physical death if I exercise faith and endure to the end.
Jesus submitted to God’s will and suffered so much pain so that I can overcome sin, so that I can be forgiven if I am repentant.  
How do I know if I am repentant?  
If I have turned back toward God.  If I have abolished the sin.  If I have taken action in my faith and focus on making righteous choices.  If I have done everything in my power to correct the mistakes I have made.
The atonement can fill me with joy, peace, and consolation.  
I must have a broken heart and a contrite spirit, which means to be overcome with guilt and sorrow for what I have done.  I have definitely had my moments of complete despair, and I feel that God has been carrying me to prevent these deeply painful emotions from breaking me.  Alma 7:12 speaks of Jesus being able to succor his people according to their infirmities, and I believe this is what is happening with me right now.  I am being succored.  God is helping me figure out how to love myself, how to see myself the way he sees me so as to not let me fall into depression as a result of the guilt and shame associated with my grievous sins.  He has taken upon Him the sins I have committed and done all I know how to forsake.
All of us are hardened, lost, fallen.  Human.  Jesus took upon himself our sins, our illnesses, our trials, our temptations so that He would know what it was like for us.  He suffered with us.  He know’s what it’s like for me to feel the way I do, to suffer within my own mind because of who I believe I am.  He loves me enough to have taken that on and suffered through it.
He did this that we may be spared if we believe on His name.  
D&C 45:5 - If we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus will cleanse us from all sin.

The Atonement is a redeeming power.  It’s there for us to become one with God once again after separating ourselves from Him through our own sin.  When we are ready and willing to come back to God, repent, and be at one with Him, the mercy and grace of the Atonement makes that possible.  

Monday, November 16, 2015

This. Is. Necessary

The leaves of the ivy that surrounds my possessions are starting to turn.  
Some leaves are red, some yellow, and some still a deep green.  
This reminds me of me.  
I am changing.  
One leaf at a time.  
Some leaves are changed and bright red and beautiful.  
Some are crusty and need to let go.  
Some are still green and hanging on to nature’s way.  
We are meant to change.  
We are meant to grow and change colors and grow new leaves after a period of dormancy 
and waiting 
and (apparently) suffering.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Better Than Great Harvest!

I've had a request to post the recipe of the most delicious bread I have ever made.  You guys will love it.  You know that delicious Cinnamon Swirl bread you can get at Great Harvest?  Yeah, well, this is better.  And, it's the easiest bread you will ever make...

This is standard Artisan Bread with white chocolate chips and cinnamon added to the dough.  There are a ton of different add-ins you can use to change the flavor, or just leave it plain.  It's all delicious.  The only thing is, you have to plan ahead.  This bread needs to rise for a few hours.


3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. yeast (any kind)
1 1/2 C water (or juice to replace the water for different flavors)

In a medium bowl mix flour, salt and yeast together.  Stir in any additional add-ins (see below) at this time.  Add water and stir until the dough comes together.  Don't knead, just get it into a "shaggy mess" and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  Now, leave it on the counter for 12-18 hours.  (Or use lukewarm water and it only needs to rise for about 4-5 hours)

An hour before you want to eat:

Heat the oven to 450.  Place your pot (I use a 3 quart casserole dish with a lid, you can use a roasting pan, or even a pizza stone) in the oven as it preheats.

While the oven is heating, prepare the dough as follows.  Put a little flour on a square of parchment paper, scrape the dough onto the paper and use the flour to shape the dough into a ball.  Remember not to knead the dough, you want air bubbles and variation in the ball.
When the oven is ready, remove the hot pot, take off the lid and place the parchment paper with the dough on it inside the pot.  Replace the lid and place the lidded pot inside the hot oven.

Cook the bread for 35 minutes with the lid on, and then remove the lid to cook for another 7-10 minutes, depending on your oven's heat.  Use foil to cover the top of the bread if it is getting too brown.  Once the bread is done, remove the pot from the oven, take the bread out of the pot and let it cool on a cooling rack.

You are going to be tempted to start eating it right away, but wait about 10 minutes so you don't burn your hands and mouth and everything on it's way down.  It's much easier to slice once it has cooled, and much more enjoyable to eat when you haven't burned your tongue off.  But trust me, you're going to want to devour the whole thing immediately.

Here are some ideas for add-ins to mix up the flavors a bit:

  • 2 tsp. cinnamon, 1 C white chocolate chips, orange zest and the juice from the orange (in place of a portion of the water)
  • White chocolate chips and whole pecans
  • dried cherries, almonds, orange zest and orange juice
  • kalamata olives
  • lemon zest, basil sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese
  • jalapenos and pepper jack cheese
  • fresh garlic, rosemary and parmesan cheese (sprinkle extra cheese on top before baking)
  • bacon and cheddar cheese
  • rosemary, feta, sun-dried tomatoes
  • chocolate chips and craisins
  • thinly sliced garlic
  • cinnamon chips
  • oregano
My kids favorite way to eat it (when it's not cinnamony and white chocolatey) is with a little rosemary or oregano and we dip it in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It's divine.

K, go make your dough, and let me know how amazing it is!  How fast it goes!  How much YOU ate.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Another One Down.

Welp, I had surgery again.  This has been quite the year for the insurance company!  Ok, the last 2 years have been pretty full of doctors, but this year for me was a big one.

I started the year out with an umbilical hernia surgery, then I found skin cancer on my arm and had that removed.  A few other things here and there, and then I decided to hit up the ENT to see if there was anything he could do about the static/broken speaker/rattling sound in my left ear.  I'd already met my deductible, why not?

Dr. Meads, my ENT, found that I had chronic sinusitis which had been so severe for so long that the ear problems I have are secondary to the sinus problems.  He sent me to an Allergist to see if I had allergies as he suspected.  Meanwhile, I was to take antibiotics and steroid nasal spray for 3 weeks, then go back for a CT scan of my head.

Turned out I had sever allergies to everything they tested...grass/weeds/trees/animals/dusts, etc.  Basically, if it's alive, I'm allergic to it.  See?!

Right?  Yeah, this is my back on allergens...

I started the Cluster allergy shots right away, which consisted of 4 rounds of 3 hour long Dr. visits that contained 15 shots.  I did this within 2 weeks and my arms looked like I had been stung by hundreds of bees.  It was awful.  And itchy.  Now I just go back at least once a week for a while and will slowly taper down to once a month.
At least these days are over...

By the time I got back to the ENT and got the CT Scan, it turned up that I had major stuff going on in my sinuses.  Dr. Meads suggested surgery to clear out the entire right side of my face, correct the severely deviated septum to the left, and put tubes in my ears to release the negative pressure.
What on earth?!  I just went in to see why it was making the weird noises, and all this?

So anyway, I had the surgery last week.  My sinuses are still swollen and yucky, but supposedly I am going to feel fabulous in a few more weeks!  Wahoo!  Lucky for you, I don't have any nasty pictures of my sinuses, or me looking disgusting with a gauze mustache under my nose.  But I do have this:
Flowers, water, and drugs...ahhhhhh!

I was down and out for the first few days, but today was really hard to stay down.  I am not supposed to lift anything, bend over, or do anything strenuous for 2 weeks.  I have another 9 days of that.  I'm not a sit around kind of person, so this is hard for me!

All I wanted to do today was vacuum.  How weird is that?  But it's only cause I am forbidden to.
I have been so well taken care of, I'm so grateful for my fabulous family and friends!  My parents took the kids for the weekend, basically, and friends brought me food.  Andy stayed home a much as he could and took great care of me.
I stayed drugged up on the couch sleeping until today.  4 days of it, then today I wanted to vacuum.  And make more grape juice.

Friday, May 16, 2014

A Noble Cause

Being part of something NOBLE is humbling.   I had the wonderful opportunity to meet another very talented artist, honorable man, and doer of good.  Alex Boye is somebody many of us have at least heard of, if not seen perform.  He is very animated and passionate about his work.  Lucky for us, his work becomes our entertainment!

The first time I saw Alex perform was at a Christmas Concert in 2011.  We have some friends in a band called "Barsie" (you should totally check them out here, they are incredibly talented and on the edge of releasing their album!) that were performing in the concert as well who invited us to attend.  It was very spiritual and uplifting and set the tone for the Christmas Season.  Alex was a big part of that.

He has since made numerous music videos and worked on many projects.  Check out his website, he is one in a million and such a sweet man!

When the opportunity for me to be part of his most recent project came up, I jumped at the chance!  Thank you Emily from "Is This Really My Life?" for inviting me to join you in this project!  

Alex did a cover of Katy Perry's "Roar" in his traditional and catchy African theme.  Being the drummer I am, I fell in love with his version of the song immediately because it's full of drums!  He then dedicated the video to the kidnapped girls from Nigeria.  Seriously.  Check it out!


The experience of being in the video was lovely.  It was a beautiful sunny day that I got to spend with about 40 brilliant and beautiful women who inspire me on a daily basis.  They are all so wonderful.
We were provided with animal print leggings from the fabulous Agnes and Dora and danced the afternoon away in them!

I am always grateful for opportunities to be part of something that influences people for good.  I'm honored to have met some truly wonderful people.  Sometimes I wonder how I've been placed in such a sweet spot at this point in my life.  I don't ask why, I just do all I can to give back and show gratitude.  I am blessed.

If you scroll down and read the notes on the video you will see links to most of the blogs of the women involved.  They are all so great, you should visit them!

Friday, April 11, 2014

The first day of the rest of our lives...

(as of April 7, 2014)

The first day of my dear husband's coaching career.  
He's dreamed of this for nearly 20 years, and today he began living his dream.

My handsome stud of a husband. 

It's interesting how things fall into place long before you know why they are happening.  Before you get any inclination of God's plan, He is shifting us around.

Just when we think we are comfortable and where we ought to be, we get shaken up a bit and repositioned.  Sometimes that repositioning is antagonizing and uncomfortable.  Sometimes it feels right from the very beginning, and this is the way it was for us.

Two years ago:

We were comfortable (or so we thought) in our previous home and neighborhood.  We had been there for 8 years, knew many people around us, and adored the small town feel of Herriman, Utah.
Until one day when my mom planted a little seed in our hearts.

Her suggestion that we move to Sandy was immediately rejected with things like:

"We love our neighborhood!"

"We are comfortable, why would we want to leave?"

"We built our home and landscaped our yard just how we want it, I even have my little white picket fence at the entrance to my luscious (200 sq. foot) garden!"

This is the entrance to my old garden.  I loved the landscaping we had done in that yard!

Within the month, we had some of our best friends ask us why we don't just move to Holladay already.  Again, we rejected the idea immediately, until we got in the car to go home that evening.  We entertained the idea, a little, then didn't talk about it again for a few days.

A few days later, Andy and I decided that if we were going to move, we may as well do it soon so we could be settled before school starts the following school year.  It was near the end of April at this time.

I didn't know what to think, so I knelt down and prayed as soon as we got off the phone.
What happened next was so vivid and real and intense, I will never forget it.  It immediately became very clear to me that we were to move.  Tears flowed from my eyes.  Partly out of sadness to leave the people I had come to love so much, and partly out of pure joy in the experience I'd just had.

As soon as I stood up after that prayer, the home no longer felt like mine.  I felt like an intruder in my own home.  I knew it was not where our family was to remain.
Andy and I discussed it that night, decided to find a realtor and scheduled a meeting for Wednesday.  Our home was put on the market Friday evening, and by Saturday evening we had 8 offers on our home.
At this point we were so overwhelmed and in shock!  We accepted the offer that made the most sense to us and felt right, and we began our search for our new home!

Each of the concerns I had about selling the house and moving were slowly replaced by confirmation that we were doing the right thing.

My only major request for the new home was that it have a garden, or a place to put a garden, AND a large kitchen (large enough to do my canning) with a window that looked over the backyard so I could see the kids playing.  Andy's request was a large family room.  That was pretty much it.
We looked for only 2 weeks before finding this charming little 50's home.
Our new (to us) home!
We fell in love immediately!
And look at the garden I got!  It's nearly 2000 square feet, 10 times bigger than our previous garden.  Slightly overwhelming, but a glorious sight once I cleared all the overgrowth.

Before cleaning it out.
After cleaning it out! 

There was a lot of work to be done in the entire yard, so I got started right away.  We bought a chain saw and I got busy pruning the trees!

Watch out for a woman with her chainsaw...

I also have a large kitchen with 2 windows that look out into the backyard, and the family room is just the perfect size.  The home is a very special place for us, there is a feeling here that is unlike any home we've lived in before.  It's a blessed place for sure.  We know we are here for a reason, we felt like we were led here.

We are lucky enough to know some of the family members who lived in this home, a lot of history about the family and the land, and my sister was good friends with the man who owned the home when she lived in this ward a few years ago.  None of which we knew until after our offer on the home was accepted.

Now that we are here, things are happening that never could have happened if we stayed in Herriman.  The most recent and exciting at the moment is the fact the Andy was hired as the Linebacker Coach for the Skyline Football Team!  This is his lifelong dream!  He's wanted to do this since he played football at Skyline back in 1995-1998.  He has spoken of this ever since I met him.  His dream was always to coach football, and at only 34, he is living his dream.  He is working with his lifelong best friend John Rowbotham as well!  It's pretty amazing.
Andy's football helmet from high school.

Watch out Oly, you have another thing coming once Coach Selcho and Coach Rowbotham get the boys at Skyline whipped into shape!

God is real.  He has a plan for all of us, I know that.  There were many times along the way, and I'm sure many more are to come, where I just don't understand why things are the way they are.  Things get hard, trials come and drop me to my knees.  Every day I have struggles, just like anyone else.
But I have found that the more grateful I am, the happier I am.  There are many ways we could look at our lives, but I strive to look at the good.  The divine.  The blessings.

I love what President Uchtdorf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints said at the latest General Conference.  "Gratitude is a way of life."

I choose gratitude.

In other news...I got a new job as Executive Assistant with a company called Incorporate Massage.  I love it, and it's so nice to be working again.  It's part time and it's from home, and my boss is an amazing woman who I called a friend first.  Things seem to be falling into place for the time being.

Oh, and I took up drumming again!

Go. Be grateful.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sister Song-Writing Sunday

I opened my computer this afternoon and found this on the screen:

"we’re driving down the highway the same amount of sass we look at each other and  say we want to pass the test next friday was coming up so soon we we always have the same attitude about each other we like to skate and we love to dance but we mostly love each other (base base base base)

I’m no better than you are your no better than me we make a great big team oh l’m no better than you are your no better than me we are the same as each other mentally we look so different but we’re the same inside oh yeah but l’m no better than you are your no better than me we make a great big team.base.

we read books and we comb our hair and we talk at the same time even at the skatepark we do the same tricks. and the flips. we ace all the tests together we even share lipgloss we work so well together oh we look so mixed up but we’re the same"

My girls wrote a song together.  They wrote it about their experience with each other, and I think it is so sweet to read of their love for one another.

After I read it, I looked out the window to find this happening.

Sister make-over time!
It is very satisfying to see my girls love each other and having positive experiences together.  Sometimes I feel like all the effort that goes into being a mother is worth every tear, anxiety attack, adult temper tantrum, and yelling match.  Sometimes.

It's the smiles like these that warm my heart so much.

I love being a mom.  I love my children with all of my heart.  And how did my little baby girls get so stinking grown up?  It's exciting and scary at once.  I am so blessed.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Beach and The Dragons

We woke up Saturday morning in beautiful San Diego ready for a day of fun on the beach!

Beach Bums
We shared this vacation with Andy's sister Hol and her family.  We all had tickets to the Imagine Dragons concert in San Diego and thought we'd make a vacation out of it together, and it was one of the best weekends in a long time!

The beach house we rented was right on the beach overlooking the water.  It was also right next to the Bellmont amusement park on Mission Beach.  It was the perfect location!  Luckily, the weather was unseasonably warm and made for a perfect day on the beach.

The girls played a little beach volleyball.

And playing in the sand is always a favorite!

Around lunch time, the boys and my oldest niece Micaela headed out to Coronado to see the USS Midway, an old aircraft carrier docked in San Diego.  They said it was great, Kayman sure enjoyed it!

On their way back from the USS Midway, Andy was dropped off at the concert venue to get in line for the show.  We had GA tickets, which meant that we were on the floor and wanted to be as close to the stage as possible.  If you want to be close, you have to wait in line a little longer than the rest of the groupies.

  *A BIG shoutout here to my incredible sister in law Hol for staying behind and watching the kiddos.  She definitely took one for the team with this decision, and it was not her most pleasant night thanks to my kids.  They did learn a very important lesson though...more on that here.*

Brandon, Micaela, Izzy, and I headed out for the show, grabbed some In-N-Out and took it to Andy in line.  We then waited there for two hours before it was time for the doors to open.  About 10 minutes before 6:00, door opening time, a big group of people started heading for the front of the line.  After a minute of a continual stream of people, we realized that they were rushing the line.  Sooooooo not cool.  We made a run for it (along with everyone else who had been waiting for hours) to stay as close as possible to the front.  A nice organized line with civilized people turned into this crazy mob in minutes.

The security guards didn't have a clue what was going on.  I could talk for a long, long time about the horrible security, disorganization, and general lack of knowledge about the crowd at this venue, but I digress.  We ended up with only 2 people standing in front of us once we got to the stage.  Couldn't ask for much better with a stadium filled with a few thousand.

My favorite band at the moment, Nico Vega, opened the show.

We have seen them a few times in the last year.  They put on such a great show every time.  They have so much raw emotion just oozing from each of them as they perform.  Aja, the singer, is an incredible vocalist and has some killer moves up on stage.
Aja Volkman dancing it up!

My favorite is when she climbs up on the drum set.  Of course.

And she really loves her fans.

Rich, the guitarist, has a fabulous sense of style and some fancy footwork as he shreds on his guitar.  Dan, the drummer, bounces on his throne as he beats those drums and sings simultaneously.  So much talent!

It was really great to hear some of the new songs that will be on their album coming out on Feb. 25.  I can hardly wait!

If you haven't heard them yet, check out their new single here.  "I Believe" by Nico Vega

The second band that played was The Naked And The Famous.  They were pretty good, but it's hard to follow Nico Vega and precede Imagine Dragons, in my opinion.  I like them better on Pandora than I did live.

Then.  Imagine Dragons.
The one and only...Dan Reynolds!
AHHHH!  The show was amazing.  We had a great spot up front and could see the sweat dripping from each of the members of the band.  Okay, that's gross, but we love being so close!
Dan Reynolds

Dan sings and dances his heart out on every song.  He is so much fun to watch because he's so passionate about his music.  Every member of the band is.  The energy they pack up on stage is unreal.  On this tour they have so many more theatrical elements to the show, it's just that much better.  It's less intimate than the days when Dan used to crowd surf down at The Velour in Provo with a crowd of 50 people, but it's still as intimate as possible given the venue.
Dan Reynolds

The encore is always the best.  They end their show with "Nothing Left To Say" and this time they brought Dave Keuning from The Killers on stage.  He rocked out with Wayne for quite a while.  That was pretty cool.
Wayne Sermon and Dave Keuning

They always end the show with a humble bow and genuine thank you to the crowd.  These men and so talented, and have remained very humble throughout this explosion of fame.  I hope they can maintain it.
Wayne Sermon, Dan Reynolds, Ryan Walker(touring member), Dave Keuning(Killers), Daniel Platzman, Ben Mckee

I got the privilege of meeting Wayne's (the guitarist) wife Alex Sermon after the show.  She is an incredible ballerina and a lovely photographer.  I have been following her blog as she tracks the band tour and I love getting the inside scoop on their adventures.  Alex was very sweet to take a few minutes to talk to me and let me take a picture with her.
Alex Sermon and me

Dan and Aja are the cutest rocker couple ever.  How great that they get to tour together!

Rock Star Love Birds

The Croc in the Sand

My wonderful sister in law, Hol, watched our kids for us while we went to an(other) Imagine Dragons concert.  We were originally planning on one of her older daughters to watch the younger kids, but Hol decided to let both of her girls go to the show.  She took the four of them to the beach for a few hours and then they were planning to go get pizza for dinner.  

They had a little problem when it was time to get shoes on and head out...

Usually they can find a way to get along, but sometimes things get quite testy between my girls.

Jess was feeling a little left out, so she buried Syd's flip flops in the sand.  Not completely, but just enough to be more difficult to find than Syd expected.  

Syd did not like that.  Not one bit.  So, what did she do?   
She took one of Jess's Crocs and buried it when nobody was looking.  She dug a hold, put the Croc down in there, and completely buried it.  Then she lost track of where it was buried.


They spent 45 minutes digging around in the sand looking for the shoe.  Ya think they found it?  


Hol helped the girls understand how our actions affect those around us.  Kayman and Ava were not involved in this little tiff of theirs, yet they had to help dig in the sand.  They were all hungry.  They were frustrated.  Tensions were high.  This was not a pleasant experience for anyone, but hopefully the girls learned the important lesson that their actions do affect more than just themselves.  That revenge is not the best solution.  That everybody makes mistakes.  That when you make a mistake, you must make it right.  That making it right takes humility.
Now, Syd and Jess both have to work to earn money to replace shoes for Jess.  They were both at fault, and now they both get to make restitution.

These two are best friends again now.  I hope they can remain close as they grow up.  Who better to share your secrets with than your sister who has been there with you through everything?  A sister is one of the best things in the world!

Sisters.  Best Friends.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Road Trippin'

Reflections in the Sand

I set out to document our latest family vacation and realized that I take far too many pictures.  As a woman who has a hard time letting go of things, (like people, and pictures of people, and details, and memories) this is a bad habit.  Lucky for you, this is only the first post of a few more to come!

Day 1

After spending a bazillion hours making these for Syd's class Valentine party...

...and making 80 of these for the kids' classmates:

Next year they are making their own.

...and then for Kayman's Valentine party, the kindergarteners and I made these:

Tissue paper hearts - thank you Pinterest!

...after all the festivities, I was ready to get on the road for our family vacation over President's Day weekend.  We planned months ago to head out to San Diego to see our favorite band in concert again (any guesses?) and thought it would be the perfect excuse to take a beach vacation in the middle of winter. Brilliant, right?!  It's a good excuse to support our concert-going habit.

We left as soon as Andy got home from work Thursday afternoon, stayed the first night with my parents in St. George, and then left early (5am) Valentine's morning for the beach.  After stopping at In-N-Out for a proper welcome into California, we got to Mission Beach in San Diego around 1pm.  

First look at the water
Andy had a conference call for work, so the kids and I headed for the water to give him some peace and quiet.  Yeah, that's why.
The weather was lovely and warm.  The water had a chill to it but felt so good on my feet.  The kids got a little further in than I did, they were soaked in no time!
 There is no better way to celebrate the end of a long road trip than with a dip in the ocean.  And since it was Valentine's day, Syd drew a cute little heart in the sand.
Happy Valentine's Day!
There is something so peaceful about the ocean.  The sound of the waves is so calming, and the sand feels so good under my feet.  Jess thinks it's "way better than carpet."  

After the kids got their clothes soaked and Andy was off his phone call, the kids changed into swim suits so they could really enjoy the beach the way they wanted to.  They were patient enough to let me snap a shot of them before running into the water.

Sisters on an adventure!

             They built sandcastles together.
I think this is such a precious things to witness as a mother.  I love watching them work together to create something, especially when they are legitimately enjoying one another's company.  That doesn't always happen, ya know.

 Kayman had a strange urge to return the seaweed to the sea.  He didn't seem to mind that it kept washing back ashore with each wave, he'd simply return it to the water once it came in.  Ahh, the simple pleasures of childhood.

Blue Moon
As evening was approaching, the fog rolled in from the West, creeping from the sea to dry land and covered the city in a blanket of silver.  It was very surreal.  I'm pretty sure this is the first time I have ever seen/noticed a "blue moon" for real.  Isn't that gorgeous?!

After walking through Old Town and getting some delicious Mexican food for dinner, we headed up to the Mormon Battalion for a tour.  We happen to have a friend serving a mission there at the moment.  
I didn't think we had a chance of bumping into her because she only serves there half of the day, and it was already 8:30 pm by the time we got there.  As we walked in the doors, Andy noticed her right away just behind the counter.  When she saw me, she hurried to me and hugged me so tight.  She was very surprised, of course, and a bit choked up at the sight of friends from home. 

We spoke for a few minutes, and then she led us on a tour of the Mormon Battalion visitor center.  She did a really great job, she's a natural.  Her calling requires a bit of role playing and acting, and she did it very well.  It would have been insanely difficult for me to do, I'm proud of her.

Jess dressed as a member of Mormon Battalion
Sister Kennedy and me

Sister Kennedy is a beautiful young woman whom I have admired since I taught her in primary 9 years ago.  Once she turned 12, she was anxious to make sure I knew she was interested in babysitting.  I had been hiring her sister, Chanel (who I also dearly love and have kept close with over the last 9 years) and I started hiring Ally also.

Ally is a hero to me, and this is one reason why.  She was diagnosed with severe scoliosis during her Senior (I think) year in high school.  It was serious enough that she had to have invasive surgery to straighten her spine.  She has rods screwed into her spine, a scar down the length of her back, and I have heard nothing but positivity from her.  Always.  She has taken this difficult trial in life and let it strengthen her.  This woman is a gem, a strong and faithful daughter of God.  I am proud to call her a friend.

Day 1 in San Diego was a success! Be on the lookout for Day 2!