Sunday, December 30, 2012

13

The Holidays are nearly over. I am always a little sad to see them go because I love Christmas so much. But every year I resolve to keep the spirit of Christmas with me all year. That and the extra candy weight.
Heaven knows that the last couple of months have been really lame around here. Three major surgeries, Robert gone for a week and all of us have been really, really sick. Super fun. But, yet again, we have been taken care of.
Our ward has been astounding. We have had meals brought in, our house cleaned, our kids taken to play and just the overall sense of charity. On Christmas Eve, the young Women stopped over and, much like a reverse tornado, blew through the house making it sparkle and smell so good. They wrapped a few presents and even disinfected light switches and door knobs. Wow.
Two Sundays ago we needed a prescription picked up but both Robert and I were too sick to go, so Robert texted his dad who left church and picked it up for us. He dropped off the prescription, got a look at us, and went back to the church to get Roberts mom. They came over, brought soup, cleaned up the dishes and took our kids with them to their house. What a blessing they are.
But now we are on the mend. I wish I could say I was back to cooking dinners and cleaning. But I must be honest and admit that our whole family has been lazy this week. The table is a Lego workshop I have not even cared. The only person cleaning has been Jain who keeps her play room immaculate. She is just trying to make the rest of us feel bad.
Now to switch gears. Yesterday was my wedding anniversary. 13 years. It may not be so long in time, but in content...we have been married for 100 years! I still count down until he gets home from work and love his days off. Often he is downstairs with the boys while Jain and I are upstairs but just knowing that he is in the house makes me content. This morning in church, the speaker said something that reminded me of a line from the movie Toy Story. I laughed silently and turned to my side before I realized that he was in another ward. We just have so many little jokes and connections that I definitely feel it when he is not there. There have been sad times, especially the last few years, but we cling to each other and no one can make me laugh through the tears like he can. I love that man fiercely and he has my heart and soul. How did I ever get so lucky?!
But do not think he is always perfect. He sometimes sings and dances for me and he would never make it on Broadway. He chose my user name for Words With Friends and he chose Jodikat. ??? At times he says he is a bull and uses his head to push me onto the couch for snuggles. See? Not perfect or even normal.
I love you, Robert, and I feel blessed to be with you FOREVER!!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

She Is Back!!!

My mom is back from her mission! She has been gone for 18 long months. Of course it was made easier with many, many phone calls. Still, it was lame! But I really feel that we were both blessed for her service.
I have not written specifically about my mom because where would I even start? She has done so much for my family and me that I could never write everything. Seriously, I could write for days and not get it all. So, for now, I will at least write about  some of what she did for me in the hospital.
My dad had passed away on Christmas day of 2006. During the following 11 months she sold their home, took over the finances and built a smaller but still beautiful new home. The pain of losing my dad was still very fresh and raw but she was doing her best to keep going, probably counting the days until she and my dad are reunited.
When I had my stroke, her mama bear instinct kicked in and she spent all day, every day at the hospital, and made the hour + drive home every night.  At first we were all living from moment to moment so we didn't imagine how long my stay there would be. Within a few days, though, she decided that new arrangements needed to be made, so she left her brand new house to collect dust while she moved into the guest house by the hospital. Every single morning at 8 she would show up and stay until 5 ish when Robert would come. Keep in mind that I could not talk at all and could not even move. While I was in the ICU and then on Neuro Acute floor, she would sit next to my bed, learn the sign language alphabet, tell me stories about the outside world and read to me. We probably read every book ever sold at Deseret Book. She read for hours and hours every day. She was also an expert at bathing me, and other basic care. Lets just say no mother should ever do for a grown child the things she did for me.
When I moved to Rehab wing (5 years ago today) she was right along with me. Still, every day. She went to therapy right along with me and at times, pushed me harder than my own therapists did! When I had a small break between sessions, she would pull out the yummy smelling oil and massage my feet and legs. Ahhh. As it was around Christmas, many of my friends brought small decorations. I still use the decorations and they still bring tears to my good eye when I put them up. However, I wanted nothing to do with it that particular year. I did not want to be reminded of the time of year or what I was missing, so she would take every little gift out of my room and save it for later.
She got to be good friends with all my Therapists, Doctors, Nurses, CNA's, Psychologists, and every time we took a walk around the huge campus, she would be greeted by numerous people. It was like I was with a celebrity!
She did things for me like showers, suctioning my trach, cleaning incisions, etc.
Once in therapy, I bent over, and immediately got violently ill. Every time the nurses would put anything in my feeding tube I would be near tears and beg them to stop. Not even strong pain medication would help. My mom told the staff that she would NOT leave that night, and "slept" in the chair next to my room. The next morning, Dr. McLaughlin came in to check on me (a wonderful, wonderful guy) and she felt impressed to tell him that she thought my feeding tube had come out of place. He said she may just have figured it out and ordered an X ray. Sure enough, it was out. So they took me in for surgery, accidentally put the new one in my lung, took me in for another surgery where they made about a 4 inch incision, and then they had to do another procedure to place a tube in my back to drain out all the building infection from putting food and meds through my body where they should not be. Had she not paid attention to her promptings and we had waited even one more day before finding the problem...well it could have been terrible.
During all this, I spent about 3 weeks in IMCU, one step down from ICU. Talk about boring! Not a thing to do but watch talk shows and read books and chat. Chatting was really fun since I was finger spelling everything.
Every day the Physical Therapists would come by. Even in IMCU I still had to work. Once I totally embarrassed my poor mother when everybody was trying to get me to take a much dreaded walk. I turned to the PT and flipped her off. Now, I am not a swearing person, especially not in front of my mom, but my vigorous head shakes and pleading eyes just were not cutting it. My poor mom, I thought she would die right where she stood.
Another time in IMCU, the therapists wanted me to sit up in a chair for a while. Again I vigorously shook my head and kept signing no, no, no, to my mom. Nobody paid any attention and put me in the chair anyway. They then all left the room to visit with other victims patients. Only a few minutes went by before my blood pressure plummeted. I later learned that it was 14/40. I was crashing. My ever present mom ran out into the hall and yelled for help. There were suddenly so many people in the room, pushing so many buttons, putting things in nearly every tube sticking out of me, just chaos. If my mom was not there...
I finally returned to Rehab and again, she was there every day. After much too long, my Dr.s were ready to let me go. I was far from ready to go home, but there was nothing more they could do for me. I had not even thought this through and I guess I figured I would be able to walk out of the hospital and just pick up where I left off. Isn't denial great?
When the Dr. asked me where I would go after leaving, I just looked at him thinking, "Am I not going home?" My mom answered without even seeming to consider at all, "She can live with me."
So before I was released she had grab bars put up, ordered a shower bench, took off doors, rearranged furniture, made sure I had home health and rehab, learned how to take apart/put together my wheelchair, was trained on my medications and how to handle my feeding tube, and many, many other things.
When I left, I think the staff was more sad to see her go than they were to see me go! Whenever I talk to anyone from there, they always want updates on my mom. She is beloved by every person there. But she is my mom so I get to love her the most. And I do!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Eye Roll and Chuckle

My family has been funny lately. Okay, they are often funny, but the last few days they have been making me laugh even more.

Aleq:  I want to get a good education but they trap you in there for over 6 hours!

Tommy:  (apologetically) I chase girls and girls chase me, and I like it.

Ana Jain:  Momma, am I being good for goodness sake? 
                  The other day she lost her stuffed, pink, poodle. After looking for over an hour with  no             success, she suddenly lit up.  "I know how to find Poodle! I can smell his foot prints!" She then crawled all over the house sniffing the carpet. Sadly, it didn't work but she found it later. I have a feeling one of the boys knew where to look.
    
Robert:  I have felt for a long time that it was very cruel/darkly funny that invalid could also mean not valid. When Robert came home from back surgery, he started telling me that he was INvalid. He continues to use that every time he needs me to do something. Yep, he is going to Hell.

I sure love them.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

He is back!!!

I am paranoid and don't like to announce to everybody that Robert is gone. But he is home, finally, and I thought I needed to remember this past week and a half.
The first few days were uneventful. We watched Elf, watched it again, and again, had indoor picnics, and showered and got right back in pajamas. It was heavenly.
Church is impossible to do without Robert.  Too many people and obstacles to knock me down and the logistics of getting us all there and from class to class... Aleq was asked to pray in Primary so our wonderful neighbors, the Stallings, took him with their family.
Tuesday was a full day! My sweet visiting Teacher, Laura, brought lunch over and stayed to eat with me. I love that. Then she emptied and loaded the dishwasher and took bins down to the storage room for me. These might seem little to some but to me, they showed she actually cared and wanted to help.  She and her Visiting Teaching partner had made plans to come by on Thursday to clean my house. Bless them.
 Later, I took my in laws car (they went with Robert Arizona and took my car) over to the school to pick up the boys. I had to wait about 5 minutes so I turned off the engine. Once the kids were in, I turned the key. Nothing. I tried again. Nothing. I happened to glance over and Aleq quietly had his head bowed and arms folded in a prayer. Sweet boy.
I called my neighbor, Karen, (once again) for help. She had her son come to pick us up and then when her husband returned home, he took me over to jump start the car while her daughters came over to be with my kids. Karen drove my boys to school the next few days.  I love them!
While all of this was going on, my sister, Wendy, and 3 of her kids called to tell me they were on their way to clean my house. They quickly had the whole place clean and smelling of pine (mmmm) and then we all had dinner together. What could have been a really lame day ended up leaving me smiling.
I called Laura to tell her she was off the hook for Thursday, but she too good of a person to just let it go. She knew I was going grocery shopping and made sure she was at my door when I came home. She brought in the groceries and brought 2 dinners! She is the best cook so I love when she does that :)
My brother, Josh, called to check on me nearly every day and stopped by to take out the trash.
Robert needed this surgery. He really had very few options and our insurance would only cover this facility until the end of this month so it needed to be done. He was nervous about it but was possibly even more nervous about leaving. But he needn't have worried. Our Father in  Heaven was aware of our family and inspired those around me to take care of me. I am so thankful.
Roberts surgery was on his back, which has steadily been more and more painful. He is afraid of becoming addicted to pain killers (smart) so he tries to only use them when he can't stand the pain any longer. Lately that has been increasingly often so something had to be done. They were able to laser out some bone spurs and fix some nerves (not sure if they moved them, deadened parts or what) and hopefully that will help.
He finally got home last night to many hugs, snuggles, kisses, jumping, and cheering. And I was happy, too! We sure missed him! I know he does a lot for us but when he is gone it's more just "him" that we miss. I'm glad we are all under one roof again.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

5 years

Today marks 5 years since the stroke. 5 loooong years. 5 wonderful years. 5 years I wish had never happened. 5 years I would not trade for anything.
I will be honest, I often get angry and frustrated. I have really hard times. Just last night, lying in bed, I had to go to the bathroom. I just lay there. And lay there. I was hoping it would just magically go away. Getting up and trying to walk in the dark really scares me. I still can't totally sense where I am in space so falling is a real possibility. My heart races and it wakes me all the way up. Then trying to get back to sleep usually takes at least an hour, sometimes two.
My whole day is filled with little moments like that. Nothing is easy, I am very slow, and nearly everything requires a rest after.
But I have witnessed miracles, inspiration, charity, humor and so much more. I have seen that The Lord has been with me and taken care of me every single day. Robert and I have grown closer than we ever could have otherwise. I have learned amazing lessons through truly inspiring people. Mostly, I have been able to see true goodness in others. People both close to me and unknown by me have touched my heart. Some have made huge sacrifices for me, some have shared their time, some have served my family when I could not, and some have done simple things like smiling or opening a door for me.
"There is no such thing as a small act of kindness."
                                    Marjorie Pay Hinckley

I recently read a poem on a wonderful woman's blog. It more perfectly describes her son, Dakota, but some matches the reaction I have been blessed to watch. Thank you, Tessie.

 "The suffering soul unlocks the love in people's hearts much like the sun and rain unlock the flower within the seed. I created everyone with endless love in their heart, but unfortunately most people keep it locked up and hardly share it with anyone. They are afraid to let their love shine freely, because they are afraid of being hurt. But a suffering soul unlocks that love. I tell you this- it is the greatest miracle of all. Many souls have bravely chosen to go into the world and suffer- to unlock this love- to create this miracle for the good of all humanity."

Thank you to all who have helped us go through this. Thank you to my extended family for your unwavering love and support. Thank you, Wendy's fam, for being Jain's bonus family. Thank you mom for, well, everything. Thank you to Roberts parents who changed their whole lives for us. Thank you to my kids for giving me a reason for working every day. Thank you, Robert, for your love, patience, humor, and strength. And THANK YOU to my Father In Heaven for never leaving me and taking care of all of us. I honestly feel that I am a much different and better person because of the last 5 years.



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

STOP

Once again, an abuse post. But this one has a good outcome.
The abuse went on for just over a year.  During that time he had me so convinced of his being in the right and of my  having no way out, that to survive, I had to push away every instinct and prompting that this was wrong, I was correct in my feelings, and I could get help. he had me completely under his power. For a time.
he had given me a job cleaning dental instruments at his office. I realize now that this served many purposes for him, allowing him to show my parents how great he was by teaching me and helping me pay for school clothes that were so important to a 7th grader, while keeping me close by driving me to and from work, staying late at the office, etc.
On one particular day my mom and I had made plans to go school shopping right when I got home. After cleaning instruments all day, skip (still can't capitalize his name) was to drive me home but instead turned towards the local University and a parking lot there that was surrounded by bushes. he knew of a hollowed out part of a bush where no one could see and he would occasionally take me there. It was one of a couple of private hollows in bushes that he knew about. What grown man knows about private spots in bushes?
When I saw him turn towards the school, I told him that I needed to get home today, that my mom was expecting me. This was not in his plan for that afternoon and it made him angry. He turned the car around and headed for home. I don't remember that he said anything, just seeethed. When we got to my home, I hurried and got out and he hit the gas and was gone. This may have been another way to show me that he was angry?
As I walked to my door, something changed in me. I knew right then that I would never have it happen again.
School was starting so I couldn't work in his office much longer anyway, so stopping a few days early would not raise too many suspicions. I stopped going to play with his girls at their house. My mom and his girls asked questions but I always had an excuse about why I couldn't play at their house.
One morning a few days later, I was out in front of my house waiting for my ride to school when he came out of his garage, walked over to me, handed me a letter, and made a hastey retreat. The letter stated that he was terribly hurt by my actions. he couldn't even sleep. he said that I was hurting him. Um...
The following years were filled with more secrecy and a lot of pain but never again did he lay a finger on me. I know now that he wanted me to feel powerless but I had, had the power all along. I was and am stronger than he ever was.
And then one brave little girl stood up to him and because of her the police started an investigation that led to me. THANK YOU, MINDY!!!
But that can be written another day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Broken

It has been too long since I have posted, I know, but I have a good excuse. I won't say who, exactly, because I don't want to hurt Jain's feelings, but someone knocked my computer off my table and it broke. Usually this would be no big deal in a home with Robert, but one of our other computers was broken, Aleq's touch pad is broken, and Roberts computer is mostly used for his work and runs on some obscure system that I was not willing to learn. So I had to wait for him to hook up my computer to the other broken computer and use the good halves from each to make one whole. Thank goodness for my Robert.

So I need to catch up a bit. But I don't want to. We will just say that our lives are boring and calm. I like that.

Instead, I will just write a few random things that have been said or done for us.

1.  Last week, Tommy and I snuggled for a few minutes before school. Really I just sat down and as usual, he worked his way up close to me. He is very snugly and and, without us realizing what is happening, he often maneuvers on to our laps, spoons us after crawling in our bed, or secures a spot next to us in a chair. I love it. Anyway, as we were snuggling, he told me that he had a dream in which I ran. "You ran and ran and were really fast. Then at the end you fell." This dream was really sweet but it broke my heart. My son dreams of having me run but he knows it is only fantasy.

2.  A few days ago I received a beautiful email from my friend, Jodi. She and I are members of a exclusive club that I wish no person would ever have to join. See Life Under Construction on Blogs I Love. In It she told me about a few of her struggles and guilt and said that she was thankful that we could understand one another. I sure would not wish sadness on anyone but I am so grateful that we know each other. She and I used to work together and she knows my mom, Wendy, and brother,  Matt.  She used to visit me when I lived with my mom and then when she got her awful diagnosis (brain tumor) we began to share things that others never should, like wheelchairs, a hospital, therapist, tears, fears, excitement, and at times a listening ear with someone who "gets it". And of course a great name. We don't share any earth shattering revelations or anything, but we gather strength from one another and we have a bond that few people could ever share.  I love you, Jodi, and am sure that one day we will see why all of this has to happen. Maybe not today, though.

3.  On the flight home from California I sat next to a guy who had a 22 year old son who has Autism. We got chatting and he said that he often gets asked how he does it, how he continues. He answered the same thing I often feel,  "I have no choice. I do what I have to do. The Lord gives us challenges and it is up to us to not only just let them happen, but to fight every day to deal with them well."  He asked me if I were happy. I didn't even have to think because, yes, I am (and I was coming from Disneyland). I think that is a simple but powerful answer he gave. I was reminded again of Dori from FINDING NEMO. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, that's what we do, we swim. But this is not all that keeps me going...

4.  Last night I was watching an interview with a lady who was wounded and watched her 15 year old daughter be killed during the Trolley Square shooting spree. She said that she survived because she is a mom and her children needed her. That may seem silly to some but every mom can understand. For me, there is a very strong motivation to be a mom. For instance, right after my stroke I kept thinking how much Tommy loves waffles and needed me to make them for him. Robert could make some but I like to add things like bananas or pumpkin and I had never written down any recipes so I had to get well enough to cook again. It is small, yes, but things like that add up! Being a mom is my most important job and on many days that is all the motivation I need.

5.  I was talking to a lady at church whose son is in Kuwait and his wife and baby are living with her. The baby has a genetic problem and was born with numerous difficulties. He is requiring many surgeries and years of treatments but this will most likely be a life long struggle. She said that when she thinks of me she knows she can do it. This is so sweet. But I told her that her role as a caregiver and support to the mother were even more difficult at times than anything I go through. Watching someone you love suffer is just not something I think I could deal with. After my stroke I was able to lose myself in sleep, mindless TV, books, etc. But Robert said I was always on his mind. His work suffered, he lost his appetite, he couldn't sleep, he was just a walking Zombie. My point is that there are many ways to suffer. At times I get so self involved that I forget that and that is not okay. Especially at this time of year I need to say Thank You to the many people around me who are impacted by this and for their love and service. I would NEVER have come so far without The Lord blessing me to be surrounded by wonderful people/angels. They will never realize how much I love them.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Disneyland

We just got back from Disneyland!! We have never been as a family because pregnancies, babies, and my strokiness kept getting in the way. I have always wanted to take the kids but honestly didn't know if I would ever be able to. But we did it! My wonderful sister and nephew agreed to go along to help out and I think it was a huge success!
Aleq told me that he didn't like the trip, he loved it! He has always been my scaredy cat boy but on this trip he went for the gusto. He went on the Matterhorn, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and The Haunted Mansion and loved them all.  His favorite ride was Silly Symphony Swings. He was happy nearly the whole time as long as we kept him fed, and loved being with his cousin, Matthew. Matthew is the same about scary rides so they would check on each other and use one another for moral support as they waited in lines.
Tommy is the perfect mix of young and brave and is so easy going he was just happy to go on whatever. He love, love, loved all the faster rides but also reveled in Buzz Lightyear, Nemo, etc. He absolutely adores Nightmare Before Christmas and The Haunted Mansion is transformed into that for the Holidays. The whole time he was pointing out characters and laughing and said, "Mom, this is weird but I like it!" His favorite ride was Tower of Terror. He waited in line three times for that one.
Ana Jain was in awe of the whole place. She has her walls painted pink and her bedding, etc. is Disney Princesses so to see them in person was pure joy. She honestly believes they are real. She is also the bravest girl I know. She barely meets the height requirements for the big rides but she is no reluctant rider. Wendy sat behind her on the Matterhorn and reached up to touch her shoulder. "I thought she was crying because she was shaking" said Wendy, "But she was full on laughing!" I sat right behind her on Big Thunder Mountain and she was the only one of the 4 kids who kept her hands up the whole time! She was by far the smallest rider on Tower of Terror and although she said her belly felt funny, she begged to go on it again. She said her favorite rides were The Teacups, Tower of Terror, and Mickeys Fun Wheel.
At a store I gave my card to the lady and she called me by name. Jain asked her how she knew my name and the lady told her that Tinkerbell has sprinkled them all with pixie dust and they are all magic. Jain thought for a second and then said, "I guess dreams really do come true here."
My favorite thing was Cars Land. They made it look exactly like Radiator Springs and it is amaaazing!
Robert may win father of the year. He never once asked to go on a ride for himself  but took the kids on anything they wanted. His back was killing him but the kids never even knew it. And every day around 3 he would take the ones who needed it (Aleq and some days Tommy) over to the hotel for a break of swimming and resting. I love this man.
Matthew is so sweet and easy to have around. He was always happy and liked (almost) every ride. He is just a joy to travel with.
And Wendy. I have so much love and gratitude for her. Jain adopted her on this trip, sleeping in her room, having her do her hair, sitting by her, etc. and Wendy made her feel welcomed and loved every moment. We absolutely could not have taken this trip  without her. Robert and I honestly feel that she is the most selfless and kind person we know. Thank you, Wendy!
After so many days of being "switched on" I haven't really left my room in 24 hours. I am wobbly and tired and it might take me a few days to recover but it was totally worth it!!


Waiting for our flight. Thank goodness for electronics!

Jain and her security blanket, Wendy


Tommy, Matthew, and Aleq. Such good friends!

A birthday hug from Mickey!

Hey there, Pluto.

Jain and Mommy tipping tractors

By the tire Christmas tree at Luigi's




All 4 on a huge tire.

Mickey's Fun Wheel, ONE of Jain's favorites

Hello, Goofy!
She could not believe that Rapunzel called her a princess!!

She gasped when she saw Tiana. She is for real!


Can this day get any better? Ariel!


Jasmine was the first princess she saw and she was a bit shy. Luckily Wendy was there as a buffer.

Matching Goofy hats. Adorable boys.

Lightning  Mcqueen? Ka Chow!!!
We all loved it and the critters are already planning a trip for next year. Um, next year? Did they recently get jobs to pay for that??

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Trick or Treat!

Yesterday, of course, was Halloween and to my kids, it is pure joy! I mean what's not to love? There are fun costumes, CANDY, staying up late, CANDY, all your friends all outside, cousins and grandparents, and the tradition of the stop, along with the whole neighborhood, at the our friends house for hot dogs, apples, and hot chocolate, and then, after coming home and putting on jammies, taking turns answering our door and passing out candy. Talk about a fun night!
Robert and I were pathetic. I had to hold his arm the whole time and my hip and knee started bothering me within the first 15 minutes. His back was especially bad and started hurting shortly after that. But the kids were hilarious and we couldn't stop watching and laughing as they went (ran) from house to house. They quickly tired of saying the boring Trick or Treat and started telling every person, "Merry Christmas!" or, "Happy 4th of July!"

He came up with this SUPER costume all on his own.  So proud!
  
Steve from Minecraft

 
Sleeping Beauty


My critters with cousins,  Carson & Logan

She camped by the door and didn't even wait for the kids to ring the bell before flinging it open. It may have been her favorite part of the night.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Snow!!

It snowed a little here on Thursday and my kids were in Heaven. They went and got their friend, Sam, and spent hours outside. You would have thought they had never before seen snow.  Notice the angle of the camera? I was warm and snuggly inside watching through a window. I am way too smart to get cold on purpose.








And as Grandma requested...

Manipulation

There were many ways that skip manipulated me. Remember that he was practiced and quite good at it long before I ever showed up on his radar. But there were a few things that stand out in my mind.
He manipulated my parents. He gave our family low cost dental work, invited our family over to their house for meals or family home evenings, made sure that my parents knew how involved in our church he was, which church leaders he knew and had worked with, and made a point of letting them know how respected he was in the community, again name dropping.. My parents gradually began to trust him. There were times when they felt that something just wasn't right with him but the evidence of his greatness was overwhelming. Their hearts were telling them to be wary but they almost felt ashamed for doubting him.When he began singling me out more and more, again their gut instinct was telling them to intervene but in what? They had no way of knowing what was happening and so many others were dazzled, they just felt silly. Lesson here-ALWAYS TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS! You may be wrong or hurt someones feelings but so what? This is your little one and they are more important than anyone Else! Looking back, my parents are heart sick that they let themselves be taken in by this guy, but they are no more at fault than I am. We were all victims.
He manipulated his wife. She knew what was happening. On one occasion, he had me in his bedroom with the door locked.  She came home early and came to her room and, finding it locked, asked what was going on. skip quickly had me hide in the bathroom before opening the door and taking her into the hall to talk. After a few minutes I could no longer hear voices so I came out. There they both were and when she saw me, she whirled around and marched out. skip turned to me, and while I don't remember the words, I remember the feeling he wanted me to feel, he was really angry, we were both in  trouble, and it was my fault. Later that day, Barbara (his wife) came to my door and without saying a word, handed me a note, then walked away. The gist of the note was to stay away from her husband or she would tell my mom. I wish she would have. But even though she absolutely knew what was happening, she kept her mouth shut and played the dutiful wife. Years later, after he was arrested for abusing another girl, the police went to find her over at the church. When they told her what had just happened, she passed out but got one thing out first, "The Burtons." Upon hearing that and knowing that was a new name to them, the Detectives did a little searching which led them to see that the Burtons had lived next door, years before, and were now in San Antonio, and they should probably talk to their daughter, Jodi (me). So I guess I have Barbara to thank. Shortly after this she was asked, "Why do you stay? Look at what he has done!" She answered, "What would I do without him? I would have no money and nobody would ever love me, only him." Obviously he had spent years breaking her down.. No matter what he did, she felt dependant on him.
He manipulated me. he manipulated me in many, many ways but I will only go into two. 1. If I ever refused him or even just avoided him, he would act like I was really hurting him and pout and act sad. At the same time he would refuse promised things to his kids or just be blatantly mean to them. His looks to me made it very clear that their unhappiness was my doing. It was well understood by all of his children that if they needed or wanted something, have Jodi ask for it. 2. One day while he had me in his gazebo, I told him that this just didn't feel right and that I thought people who were married shouldn't do this stuff with little girls. He told me that we knew each other in Heaven, before coming to Earth, and that this was Gods way for a man to show love to a woman. (a 13 year old woman?) and all of this was okay. How could I doubt him? He was a leader in my church so he must know more than I, right? Wow. Looking back on it, this makes me sick.
All in all, he knew what he was doing. But he was anything but unique. Pedophiles often follow a script of sorts, and skip was no exception.
I usually like to end on a happy note but there is nothing happy about abuse. I am really happy now and that is wonderful revenge though, huh?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Who wants cookies?

Two things from my children:.
Jain: "Do you know who I love most? Daddy, Grandma, Wendy, and Jeeter & Coda (dogs)."  I laughingly asked, "What about me?" She quickly answered, "I don't even like you that much because you're too strokey." I burst right out laughing! This is the same girl who, during her soccer game, kept yelling, "I love you mom!" Saying she didn't like me that much was not smart considering I was rolling out cookie dough.
Aleq: "Mom, do you realize how important your children are?"  I replied that daddy and my kids were the most important things in my whole world. Then he said, "Do you realize how happy your kids are because of you?" My heart almost burst and then melted. Now he is getting cookies!!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pictures

These are just some random pictures I found. They are lovely.


24 days before.


Believe ir not, I was actually much better here than at first. This is about 1.5 months after the stroke.


Ana Jain's blessing day. We did it at my moms instead of at the church. Notice my  feeding pump behind me. 5 months out.

My contraption to stretch my leg muscle. It hurt. A lot. about 9 months out.

Normal

Just now Tommy was telling me that I have to see the X Box that my neighbors have. Never mind that we already had one. He wants me to see a certain video game that they have.  He has it all figured out.
These neighbors live right behind us and there is a gate between our yards but my critters know that walking on grass is not my favorite thing in the world. So Tommy said we should all drive over and then Aleq could hold my hand as we walk in so I don't fall. He was very matter of fact about it.
It made me realize, again, how normal this all is to the kids. They had just had their 5th and 2nd birthdays and Ana Jain was only weeks old when I had my stroke. They either don't remember or, in Jain's case, have no reference for me before. That is both good and bad.
It is good because I am just mom. I have not really changed much in their minds. My slow pace, my frequent naps, my inability to fight back when Robert tackles me on the bed and they all take turns "getting" mama, (truth be told, I wouldn't fight back anyway), are all normal to them. They see my differences with their friends moms much the same way they see differences in hair color or shoe size. It makes us all easier to recognize but it's really unimportant.
It is bad for much the same reason, though. They don't see the stroke as the lightning strike, one in a million, freak act of nature that it was. When my friend had her 3rd baby and again when my sister-in-law had hers, Tommy remarked that it was time for them to have strokes. I had to explain that not every mom has a stroke. He and Aleq were quiet for a minute and then they started naming moms who are not strokey. It seemed to hit them hard that other families don't have this. That wasn't an isolated incident. They forget about our family's differences and then it smacks them in the face at times. I wish they could see the good outweighing the bad but at these moments all they see is STROKEY MOM. The moment usually passes quickly and we all go back to our healthy state of denial.
Another good thing we have been able to teach them is that every family has sadness and the stroke is ours (for now). Some families have sick children, some kids are not able to have both parents live with them, some people have bad things done to them, etc. We have tried to show them that we are actually very blessed.
The other day Jain got her kindergarten shots and they left bruises on her little legs. When she saw that, she looked at me in a panic and asked if that was going to make her strokey. I hugged her and assured her that she was safe. My heart broke. Although our lives have become so normal, she still knows that a stroke is a bad thing.
At times I just have to shake my head and sigh. None of this makes sense and it's so not fun.
But on the flip side, there wouldn't be nearly as much laughter in the house without strokey mom. They love when I try to say chicachica (from a song) and the half of the word won't come out, or when I try to run away from daddy and the only way they can tell is that I say I'm running.  I'm lucky I am so amusing!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Most Humiliating

Notice that this post is not called most embarrassing. Embarrassing implies humor (maybe for others)  or an eye roll at the very least. Humiliating is a whole different thing.
Did you know that many insurance companies have a million dollar cap per lifetime that they will pay? Ya, I didn't either. But sadly, I had reason to find out that little nugget of information. The first few months in the hospital cost dangerously close to that cap. Fortunately, on our policy, we had an out of pocket maximum. Unfortunately. I was in the hospital for the last few weeks of 2007, and the first few months of 2008 so we had to pay 2 years worth. I should have timed that better.
We were able to work out a payment plan with the University of Utah but they never seemed to get everything together.  Robert spent hours on the phone with different people in different departments, trying to make sure we had all the bills covered. But still we would receive letters from collection agencies demanding payment. Robert would have to call the attorneys and straighten things out and then call the U and add that payment to the total, asking every time, "Is this everything? There are no other bills?"
One day last year I was at home when I heard a knock on the door. When I answered, a man handed me some papers and said, "You've been served."
I was stunned into silence. I just stood there while he returned to his car. When I recovered enough to think, I looked around to see if any of my neighbors were out and had seen. They wouldn't have known anything but that didn't stop me from worrying. I then walked in the house, closed the door, and broke down crying. I mean really crying. It took me quite a few minutes before I could even call Robert and explain what had just happened.
He was furious! He immediately called the U and was not nice. He told them that his disabled wife had enough to worry about without answering the door to get a summons. He told them that we had never been late on a payment and this was THEIR oversight. They apologized and got supervisors and fell all over themselves trying to make it better.
I had people see me naked, had people shower me, had people help me in the bathroom, but nothing compares to that day. It was terrible.
Luckily that night, I got a foot massage. That made my day better.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Surgeries, Soccer & SEP

I have been too tired/busy to even think of posting this week. I think all the stress just got to me and all I have wanted to do is sleeep! But, being a mom  makes that impossible. How boring would my life be without my critters? Here is a quick summary of our week:
Robert:  He is healing well but still in some pain. His Doc found a hernia and removed it during the surgery, two birds, one stone. The pain is minimal, mostly annoying, and belts are now an enemy.
Jodi: Yesterday was 5 weeks from my hysterectomy. The infection I got after has been taken care of and I am feeling great. My Doc asked if I wanted a moment of silence for my periods. I answered emphatically, "No!" I have started back to exercising, as much as I didn't want to. When Jain saw me dressed  for the elliptical, she asked why I always have to exercise. I told her that it was really good for my body and that strokey moms can't jump on the trampoline, run around the yard, or play soccer like she can. That seemed to make sense to her but now she feels the need to tell me EVERY SINGLE TIME that she gets exercise. Good grief!
Aleq: He started a new pill 3 weeks ago. We had SEP conferences this week and finally it was a pleasant experience. His grades are always really high but behavior-wise... His teacher was all smiles and couldn't say enough about how fun he is to be around. He tells me every day how fun school is and that his teacher is so nice! Unlike previous pills, this one does not keep him awake all night, mellow him out like a zombie, or decrease/eliminate his appetite. It is like it is helping him control some impulses and allowing him to just be himself. Now others can see what we already know, that he is awesome!! He seems to be loving it. We have gotten our hopes up before, though, and about 5 weeks things seem to go south. We are all really hopeful.
Tommy: His SEP conference was great. He is doing really well in reading, math, etc. The only problem was his handwriting. He goes too fast and isn't always neat. I'm okay with that- maybe he will be a doctor. We went to dinner the other night and it was funny to watch him inch closer and closer until he was snuggled up next to Robert. That's normal for him but usually he ends up on our laps without us being fully aware of what is happening. I love it.
Ana Jain: She has school on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On Tuesday and Thursday she notices the difference and asks when school is. Yesterday she told me that she has school on every tomorrow. She continues to love playing soccer and starts on Sunday to count the days until she gets to play again.  Her team name is the Pink Watermelons and she tells us that she is tough and always hustles. Super funny.
Our week was pleasantly normal. We needed this after our last few weeks.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Don't Tell Robert

I was asked to speak at my ward Relief Society on Thursday night. Actually Robert was supposed to speak with me but he REALLY didn't want to so he went and had his appendix out. He could have just said no. But it actually turned out better for me to go it alone. Most people in my ward know much of my history so I was able to talk about other aspects, mostly Robert. He hates being singled out and having me say things about him with him right there would have made him really uncomfortable. After, though, I realized that I had never written these stories down. Luckily, he never reads this blog so he will never know, unless someone tells him...
I don't remember this first thing at all, but my mom told me that it is one of the most tender moments she had ever seen. Very early after my stroke, while still in ICU, I woke up once and looked at my mom. Remember that most of my family only knew the sign language alphabet, so I spelled, "Tell Robert to leave me." Robert only caught some of what I had spelled so he had to have my mom tell him. Upon hearing what I had signed, he came to my bed, held my face so I had to look at him, and said, "You are my eternal companion and I will never leave you." My mom said she just stood there and cried.
We had our 9th Wedding Anniversary while I was in the hospital. Obviously we could not do much to celebrate but we both realized how precious it was to get to this day. So, Robert brought me flowers and a movie and we snuggled on my little bed. That was difficult due to my many tubes but we figured it out. It may not have been lavish but all we wanted that night (and every night) was to be together.
I have often felt guilty for all the changes, sacrifices, and things I have made impossible for our family to do together. But Robert is always incredulous when I apologize. He seems to honestly feel that we are all in this together and often remind me of some of the ways he and our kids have been blessed by all this. And he always points out that our family is doing very well and the most important thing is that our kids have their mommy with them.
Before my stroke, I had my voice on the voicemail. The stroke permanently changed my voice. For months Robert would call our home just to hear my voice.
Along those lines, my PT called my house once and left a message. When I returned his call, he asked if that was my voice. He could not believe the difference and even asked if I sang before.
This morning when we woke up, I asked Robert how he had slept. He replied that he had not slept well and that it's all my fault. Now, you might assume it is my snoring, sleep talking, or even stealing the covers but you would be wrong (for last night at least). When I was in the hospital, he would often get calls from the nurses requesting permission for something or letting him know of some crisis that had happened. He was almost afraid to go to sleep. Even when I lived with my mom he would get calls at strange hours from both my mom and me. He has never quite recovered from that and wakes often in the night. I am only slightly saddened by this because sometimes when he wakes up he snuggles up close. If I am awake enough to notice, it sure makes me happy.
There are so many stories about Robert and I could go on and on but for now, the pumpkin cookies need baking!
Oh, some more mommy proud stuff--
Jain's prayer from last night:
Heavenly Father, we love your son. His name is Jesus. I love Disneyland more than ice cream. I love You and Jesus more than Disneyland and ice cream.
Yesterday Robert asked Tommy if he had remembered to bring his jacket home from school. Tommy said that he mostly did. Robert understandably had no idea what this meant and asked Tommy to clarify. An exasperated boy looked up from his video game and said, "Dada, theres a high percentage that I did and a small percentage that I didn't." Percentage? What?
He and Robert were talking the other day and he said something that made Robert laugh. Tommy said, "Dada, I never know whats going to set you off."
I hope he never stops calling Robert Dada.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

We Can't Buy A Break!

As I have said before, "When it rains, it pours!"
The antibiotics I was on were not working so I started a new type. Should be no big deal, right? Wrong. Ever since the stroke, even the tiniest thing is huge to me and has me right down in bed.
Then, Friday Aleq was sick and stayed home from school. Really fun with the two of us trying to take care of each other. And then, out of the goodness of his heart, he shared his cold with me. Isn't he sweet?
Then Saturday night, Robert got really sick. I have never seen him in that much pain! I can handle a lot but seeing him hurting like that was almost more than I could take!
On Sunday night, Tommy got sick. So he slept on the floor in our room and stayed home Monday. That morning, Robert left early to try and see our doctor friend, Scott, and I was nowhere near up for driving so Jain missed school. Boy did I hear about that! I got a lecture about calling Roberts parents to drive her and how her friends and teacher would miss her. I won't be doing that again any time soon. That girl can lecture with the best of them!
Meanwhile, our friend, Scott examined Robert and thought it might be appendicitis. But he wasn't showing the classic symptoms so he ordered a CT scan. Sure enough, appendix. So he had it out last evening and came home this afternoon.
I broke down and called my sister, Wendy, and her daughter, Olivia, to clean my house and she even treated my kids to McDonald's. My ward has stepped up with rides, sitters, dinners and prayers. My wonderful brother, Matt, is bringing us dinner tomorrow. Roberts parents left on vacation today but yesterday they did everything they possibly could for both Robert and me,  and his dad even stayed at the hospital until very late so that I could be home with the kids and get some good sleep.
All in all it has been a very chaotic few days. I have been reduced to tears on more than one occasion. But we have been taken care of by everyone. Heaven knows it hasn't been ideal, but it could have been a disaster!!
And the kids loved it tonight when we had a picnic on our bedroom floor with Subway for dinner.  I guess even broken parents can be cool if you know the right tricks.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Say What?

Because this is my journal, allow me yet another mommy proud post. This past few days have been hilarious!
Ana Jain:  We were having lunch the other day when she told me that sad juice tasted yucky. I had no idea what that was. I was trying to figure out what juice I had given her that she didn't like. I asked a few questions and she said, "you know, when you're sad, juice comes out of your eyes and sometimes gets in your mouth."
Tommy:  Yesterday I got a call from Tommy's school. Being a slow walker I missed the call and they called Robert who in turn called me. The school principal had called to tell us that Tommy had been kissing kids on the arm. Robert and I talked to him last night and I really do agree with the school that this is not okay behavior for many different reasons.  But I'm really glad that Robert got the call. I am afraid I would have burst out laughing! He is a 6 year old boy who was acting like a 6 year old boy. I'm just glad it didn't involve spitting...or worse!
Aleq: This isn't so funny. Yesterday the kids and I had to go to Walgreen's for medicine. On the way home, Aleq said that he was glad I was his mom because it is so hard to take care of me that the rest of his life will seem easy. I think he truly meant this as a compliment. I didn't answer. I couldn't because I was too emotional. This stung. My worst fear is that I am being a burden to others, especially my children. In my head I understand about all the wonderful blessings and lessons we are all learning, but my heart hurts at times. I wish with all my power that my kids had a "normal" mom but the fact is they don't. I know that nothing I do will change that. I just have to work with all my strength to be the best mom I can, and leave the rest to my Heavenly Father. I know that all my kids will be blessed for the sacrifices we are making and I hope that one day they will be able to see that. I hope I will.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Favorite Store

I get a pass on surgery #19! That is both a good and bad thing. Good because well...no surgery. Bad because Robert promised me that after 20 surgeries, we could go on a fun trip. Actually he said he would much rather have me have no more surgeries and we go on a fun trip anyway.  I like that option better, too.
My nerve graft has had some time to work, letting the muscles around my eye receive signals from my brain and grow stronger. I have wondered for a while if the gold weight was necessary and Dr. Patel agrees. The weight was working it's way out anyway so he just had me come in to the office and pulled it out. Now we will just wait and see how my eye is working. So far so good but the dry air and winds of winter are coming so we will see.
After he had pulled the weight out, his assistant came in. She was disappointed that she had missed the 2 minute procedure and said she could have at least held my hand. He just looked at me and said, "She is a bit like the waiter who comes over to check on you after you are finished eating and you just don't have the heart to tell him it was ghastly!"
I really  like Dr. Patel. He has a wonderful reputation and people come from all over to see him but you would never guess by talking to him. He makes me feel that I am his only patient and has been known to walk out to the waiting room to meet and chat with my friends or family members. He was recommended to me by the nurses at the U and I feel very lucky.
As for my health after my last surgery, I am doing OK. Not great. I have an infection, most likely from the catheter, and that is sapping my energy. But hopefully that will be done soon.
I just needed to get out today so Jain and I took a trip to Hobby Lobby. We walked around, put things in our cart and then took them out again, made wish lists for Christmas ornaments, and ended up with some pumpkin "costumes." Upon leaving, Jain told me that she loved that store and it was her new favorite. Oh no. She is 4 and has a favorite store? What have I done to that girl?  Don't tell Robert.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Walk/Run

I was asked to go yesterday, to the Utah Heart & Stroke Run/Walk. It is put on by the American Heart Association and it is unreal.  There are thousands of people there with a common goal of saving lives.  There were families running for a loved one they had lost, teams walking for children who suffer, some who have been effected in some form or another, survivors, volunteers, and just all around good hearted people. It was astounding to see the stream of red that was people walking and although I didn't have my camera with me at that crucial moment, just imagine a sea of red as far as you can see, including children on bikes, strollers, parents, teenagers, people with walkers, people in wheelchairs, groups of siblings, and stoic solo walker. It was very solemn and very joyful at the same time.
There were tents/booths set up all over offering things such as taking blood pressure, or support for teaching CPR in High Schools. And there were T shirts galore! Some had pictures on them, some had signs of stroke, some had big hearts, but my favorite was a group wearing shirts that read "Clot Busters".
All this was to help raise money for many things such as education. I really wonder where I would be if I had known more, the EMT's would have known more, the ER Doc would have known what was happening, or the Hospitalist or the people in the ICU would have had more education. Instead, even though I called 911 in time, I just sat for 10ish hours in the hospital, deteiorating with no meds or tests. It is obvious to me that this cause is urgent.
At first it was just my cousin and I who were going, but then my sister heard about it and my 3 brothers, my sister and I stayed in a hotel the night before, met up with my cousin, Emily, there and made it a really fun time just being together. I was so touched that they would all leave their families and spend their time doing nothing but making me happy. I loved it.
Usually when I am in big crowds I feel self conscious. I get stares, questions (not at all unwelcome), and looks of pity. But there I got hugs, laughter and groans about ailments from other survivors, respect, and the stares I got were full of understanding and encouragement. I loved being in that environment!
We will for sure be there next year and are already planning our T-shirt designs!!


Josh, Jed, Me, Matt, and Wendy and some of our swag.


At the tribute tent.

Emily and me. Hot!


Yep, had all the symptoms. If only...


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Yesterday was my dads birthday. He would have been 70. I wonder if my Grandma made a big carrot cake for him and they played catch to celebrate.
My mom sent out an email yesterday morning and some of us added to it, making a list of things we love and remember. It mostly made me laugh, some things were more tender but they all made me miss him more.
Mom:
Deer hunting with his dad and brothers and later his sons, sitting around on Sunday and laughing and talking with his family, eating fried chicken. a good hamburger (especially at Longhorn Cafe in San Antonio) lazagne, apple pie, pumpkin cake, his ugly black and red checkered shirt he wore when we were dating, keeping his pants up with his palms, playing baseball/soft ball/ football/soccer/golf/basketball with his kids or grandkids, going to all your different sports activities, as well as those of his grandchildren, going to all of your individual concerts/plays/assemblies/awards banquets/anything that honored any one of you, watching sports on t.v. especially with his kids, watching The Simpsons with you, watching or going to the movies or anything with you, watching Craig and Jodi's solos, writing Wendy's papers, going anywhere with G & G Burton, shooting his guns, taking you to Sun Valley, working in the yard (just kidding) going to movies, out to eat with me and rubbing my feet (at least I thought he loved it), his job with the Air Force, especially in Warner Robins, Ga, just the two of us living in Maryland-we missed you but it was such a great time for us, being near Craig and April in Maryland, long walks with Matt when he was in Jr. High, being in Park City anytime with you, having Matt/Jodi/Josh/Wendy and Kevin/ Jed and Lisa boomerang to live with us again.

Wendy:
Going out for breakfast, playing sports in the yard, singing "My Boyfriends Back",  "Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress", calling me at work, cinnamon rolls, buying treats, going on walks/breaking in to houses being built, watching the Olympics, staying up late and watching shows Mom couldn't know about, walking to Leons Market during Sacrament Meeting to get a Coke, Huntsville Park, telling about every detail of your life and him listening like it was the most interesting thing in the world.

Kevin:
BELCHING is seriously my all time favorite memory, singing :Oh Your Red Scarf Matches Your Eyes", his snickering hee hee laugh as his neck would retract into his chest and he had that boyish grin like, "I just got caught."

Kaitlyn:
First person to ever let me drive a car. Not to mention it was the most expensive car anyone had, Zingers in his robe pocket. He hated the coconut kind but still ate them with us if we promised not to tell Grandma he had them, singing the highly inappropriate song, "Two Trailer Park Girls Go Round the Outside"-to this day I blare it when it comes on, treats whenever we NEEDED them, that included secret treats like eggnog that you didn't have to share, hitting a bucket of balls-even in  the snow, wrecking on the scooter in Sun Valley, late night t.v. sessions and always reminding me that we could only watch The Simpsons if I told him when Grandma was coming so we could change the channel to Disney, biggest bear hugs, we were all his "favorites" and he made each of us grandkids believe it, the pure example of love and family, sickest toe nails ever and he was so proud of them, always with us and never will we forget. Love you, Grandpa!!!!

Craig:
The way he treated April, Yankee games in Balyimore and Tampa, eat as much as you want on vacations, touching the dashboard in the car when people apparently couldn't see it, pulling on the reigns in the car to stop, "How do you hide an elephant in a strawberry patch?", singing Happy Birthday off key.

Jodi:
He was magic and could make the moon disappear, "jogging" in Texas that was really walking and talking, throwing coasters in Chilis and then look all innocent, "People are no damn good", he popped my first zit by the polar bear pond (really cold pool) in Sun Valley.

Josh:
Talking to Coach Nelson when my confidence was gone, singing "Today Is Your Birthday" Beatles style, pork chops Pepsi, scallop potatoes, softball game fights, walk and talk, alway take care of mom first, eating out always makes you feel better, his kids were always the best at everything (even when we weren't, bringing a gun to work, Corpus Delicti=Corpus Christsti, barnicles, slipping jalapenos into hot dogs, Shanae hitting him and leaving a bruise, safety, best laugh ever, "Money for Nothin" . Jive Bunny and the Master Mixers

We miss you and love you, Dad, and can't wait to see you again!!

We didn't even ask, Aleq just gave him kisses out of the blue.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Eye

Last Tuesday, Jain and I were playing and accidentally bumped heads. It didn't hurt either of us and in fact we laughed, said bonk!, and went right on playing.
But later as I was washing my face, I found this.


Notice the gold coloring? That is the gold weight showing through. Yummy. But seriously, how do I not set off metal detectors? I thought it would just heal up on it's own. But this is from last night. 

Healing yes, but the weight is more visible now. So I sent these pics to my Doc and he confirmed it. Surgery # 19 to replace the gold weight. He said that while it was not an emergency, this week or next would be good. I'm still recovering from # 18! Luckily this procedure is done at an out-patient surgical center and although not fun, relatively minor.
Robert is dreading the bruising again because people think he did it to me and give him strange looks. I have very little sympathy as I am the one with the bruises!!
I'm so lucky.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Solution

This is something I remebered this morning and It's one of the many sweet things I want to remember always.
When I came home, Jain was only around 20 months old, still small enough to require an afternoon nap. As we get older we may not require them but instead we want crave them. She still didn't know enough to want one. So every day when I told her it was nap time she would start to cry.
Now,  knowing that carrying her was impossible, this could have been a bit of a problem. But again, we were blessed and my darling little girl would start to cry, walk to her room, stand by her crib and wait for me to catch up, and then hold out her arms for me to awkwardly lift her into her crib, still crying the whole time.
Usually by the time we had "sung" (my vocal chords are jacked up) and did kisses and loves her crying had stopped.
My little girl has such a sweet spirit and when that was combined with the Holy Ghost, it provided the perfect solution for us.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Angels

This past week I have once again been on the receiving end of service. I don't know why but I am still unused to this. This time I have justified it by telling myself it's mostly for Robert. That's a lie because he wouldn't mind frozen pizza every night and as long as he doesn't catch diseases, the house is clean enough. But he knows having a clean house calms me and he knows it won't do to have pizza every night. I mean, you have to add in some McDonalds to keep it healthy, right? So he has been cooking, cleaning, running errands, and even massaging my feet. He already does much more than most men but this past week I think he is better than Superman. And besides all the things involved in keeping our household above water, he always manages to make me laugh when pain meds make me angry, tickle my back to divert my attention from the pain, and hold me close when I need some extra love. After all, as he says often, there's always time for 30 seconds of love.
My kids have been unreal, too. Holding my hand when I walk (whether I need it or not), cleaning up more, and just helping anywhere they are able. Two nights ago Jain wanted to do her "homework" just like her big brothers. Without skipping a beat, Aleq sat down at the table with her and read with her for ten minutes. When they see me doing something that they don't like, such as getting a glass out of the cabinet or something just as dangerous, I have been told that I am at a 1 and if they get to 3,  I will go to time out.
Friends, family, and ward members have taken care of us all. My sister, Wendy, not only came to a 9:00 a.m. game, but took Jain home with her to let me get some rest. I have received calls and support from far away family, even Chick Fil A from my cousin, Amy.  Roberts parents have gone to games, given rides, babysat, and made meals. The whole Stallings family, especially Karen, has been heaven sent, driving my kids to school every day and keeping them after, driving me to my follow up Dr. appointment, making sure my mental health is being looked after,  taking late night medical calls, and generally filling in all the gaps. And this ward is wonderful!  I have had visits, meals, and my visiting teachers, Carly and Laura, and Carly's son, spent nearly 3 hours cleaning my whole house yesterday and then brought me in a fabulous dinner. Then between cleaning and dinner, Carly took Jain home to play with her daughter and Laura got us lunch and we got to chat while we ate. And my mom was freaking out about being so far away so people in her office fasted with her and then went to the temple with her.
I am still uncomforatable accepting charity but the people around me act as if it is the easiest thing in the world to help me. They are the kind of people who seem to love allowing The Lord to put them to work.  I never get the feeling of sacrifice or "I don't want to" although I know it is not easy for them or their families.
These people and sooo many others may never know how much I love them for helping, not just me, but my family. While accepting help is no picnic, I am so thankful that there are such sweet people in this world.They are truly Heavens messengers. I want to be just like them when  grow up!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How he started

I seriously doubt that I am the first girl skip ever got to. I have heard from the police (off the record) and other reliable sources that he started long before me with other girls. By the time I entered his perfect striking age, he was well practiced and knew exactly how to lure me into his web.
For as long as I could remember, I was a little afraid/intimidated by him. I often just avoided him. He was rough or even (in my opinion) mean to his children and seemed pious and unapproachable at church. I remember once when his kids were helping to bring in the groceries from the garage, his young son was carrying a huge bottle of apple juice and it slipped out of his hands and shattered. The son was covered in juice and some of the glass had cut him. He was crying and scared and hurt. Before his mom, Barbara, could even start helping him, skip became irate and yelled at how clumsy and careless the boy was and how he had just wasted three dollars. This guy was a dentist with a beautiful home, fast cars, and every electronic toy you could think of and he was belittling his son over 3 dollars.
But to adults he was the poster boy for what a great man should be. He never shied away from displaying his knowledge in church, gave generously to charities, did free dental work for the needy, did kind but showy deeds for others around him, and did everything to gain the limelight and show how great he was. He seemed to love people being in awe of him.
I am told that this is classic behavior for abusers. Show the world your greatness and people will never suspect what you really are.
When I was 12, the nielsens planned a day trip to Midway, Utah and every child got to invite a friend. Even though all of the children invited friends from school, skip made sure that I was invited along too. That was the first day he even acknowledged me and seemed to go out of his way to be nice to me. This was strange but not bad. He was being a fun dad and we all seemed to eat it up. He later told me that he had noticed on that trip what a woman I had become. Um, I hadn't even started puberty yet.
After that trip he began what I see now as "courting" both my family and me. He helped financially to get my brother ready for his mission, he invited my parents to be a part of his scripture study group (they were reluctant to join, feeling that the group was a bit clique-ish) and even offered to have me clean instruments in his dental office to earn my own money for school clothes. As for me, he would seek me out to talk or pick his son and me up from school to go to lunch, and when I was over at their house, it seemed like every time I turned around, there he was, being nice. I see now, at 38, that he was flirting, but at 12, never having seen it before, it was just him finally being good to us and his kids and I all enjoyed it.
One night I was in the basement alone playing video games. As I pretty much lived at their house, playing video games alone was fairly common. I knew skip and Barbara were getting ready to leave so I was a tiny bit surprised to see skip coming down the stairs. he went into the back room and then came out, stood behind me and put his hands on my shoulders and turned me around. Then he kissed me. Just a quick but not very gentle kiss on the lips. Then, without saying a word, he ran up the stairs.
To say the least I was confused! Men didn't kiss little girls. Did they? It wasn't a kiss like on T.V. or anything, so maybe it wasn't a big deal??? It would probably never happen again, right? My 12 year old mind couldn't make sense of it and it just went in to survival mode. Denial. It wasn't what I thought, it wasn't a big deal and it wouldn't happen again.
So I went ahead with the planned sleep over that night. 3 or 4 (I can't remember who was all there) girls all sleeping on the pull out couch. We were little, about 14, 12, 10, and 8,  but it still must have been crowded.
Early the next morning, skip shook me awake and then sat me up on the side of the bed. He began kissing me again. This time it was slower and not quite as hard. He stopped and asked "Why don't your lips move?" Maybe it was because I was 12 and had no idea about kissing. he then said, "I will just have to teach you how."
I was frozen in place. I don't remember even giving a response. I just waited for it to be over. Looking back, his daughters must have known what was happening. They were all right there. But if you see your dad kissing your friend, it's probably best to keep your eyes closed.
I should have stopped it right there. I should have run home and told my parents. But I was a scared and confused little girl. skip wouldn't do something wrong, would he? he was in a leadership position in my church, a family friend, a pillar of the community. he must know something I don't. And who would believe me anyway? I was a little girl and he was a respected adult.
So I didn't tell that day. Or the next time it happened. Or the next. I didn't tell as it progressed and progressed. I didn't tell for the reasons I mentioned before and more and more. Each day I didn't tell I felt more ashamed that I was "letting" this happen. And skip would tell me often that he just couldn't keep control around me. he said the way my lips moved when I talked made him want to kiss me or the way I walked made him want to touch me. Was this my fault? Was I causing a great man to do these things?  I even told him once that I felt that what was happening was wrong. he just smiled and said that we had known each other before coming to earth and this was the way it was meant to be.
I found out years later that he was often unable to maintain an erection and I am soooo grateful for that. I am guessing he didn't want to humiliate himself in front of me so the abuse stopped just short of intercourse.
In my studying and my work with child abuse prevention, I have found that his behavior and mine was very typical. Sadly, this is not a unique story. At all. But I am in that small but growing group of survivors who will talk about it, shine a light into the dark corner, and maybe help one other person avoid it or stop what is already happening, and to realize that the best revenge really is living well!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Little Animal

Saturday was Ana Jain's first ever soccer game. Last Monday we took her to buy cleats and she was a total crack up! After putting on each pair she would ask Aleq what he thought. He is our resident soccer expert and she needed his opinion. Of course Aleq thought that was way cool and was happy to help!
On the big day we really had no idea how she would do. We were ready for crying, picking flowers, being intimidated or the like. Instead we got an animal! She was right on the ball every second she could squeeze through the group, and at one point she yelled, "Get out of my way!" to the girl in front of her. She scored all 3 goals of the game and after each one she would cheer, jump up and down, and run over and hug Robert.
I couldn't be there (surgery) but she had Papa & Nanni (Roberts parents) Robert, Aleq, Tommy, and her favorite guest, Wendy. She was one happy little girl!!
And it doesn't hurt that her uniform is bright pink.