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


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


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


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.