Thursday, December 22, 2016


Before Thanksgiving, the newspaper asked for stories from the community about what people were thankful for. I noticed it for several days and finally decided to write a piece for them. They published some of the stories in the newspaper on Thanksgiving day, mine included, and posted all of them online. It was nice to see my words in print, but I was more grateful for the chance to share my thoughts on what I was thankful for. Here's my story: 

My husband and I received some staggering news just over six years ago. Five months into our first pregnancy I had to be induced to save my life. I had HELLP Syndrome and the baby and I would both have died if they had not induced labor. Our little boy was stillborn the night before my 26th birthday. It is a never ending road to deal with the loss of a child. But the love and support we received from family, friends, and neighbors was amazing. We were so grateful for monetary help, meals, cards, momentos, and prayers in our behalf.  

It seems in times of tragedy that love pours out in equal amounts to help assuage the pain.  
We went through two more difficult pregnancies. People we didn't even know were praying for us and keeping up to date on our progress. It was amazing to us, and we were thankful for every good thought sent our way.  

We had two beautiful girls and thought the worst was behind us. Life was going pretty well and we were excited about my husband's new job and moving to a new home soon.  

Then our younger daughter started falling. She was twenty months old and had been walking well. We took her to the doctor and he diagnosed a double ear infection. The infection cleared up but her walking got worse. She was to the point where she wouldn't walk and hardly wanted to crawl. After more doctor trips to her pediatrician, an ENT, a couple MRIs, and blood and urine tests, we learned she had neuroblastoma cancer along with OMA syndrome. The tumor had also grown into her lower spinal column complicating the situation.  

From the moment we found out, the doctors and nurses showed both us and our daughters such compassion and understanding. The staff at Primary Children's hospital has been amazing the last nine months. Generous donations to the hospital have helped make our daughter's multiple hospital stays better with handmade blankets, stuffed animals, toys, books, and more. The Ronald McDonald room and the groups who make meals for those away from home help relieve the burden of extended stays.   

From the moment we told our family and friends, we were overwhelmed with love and prayers. Our closest friends, as well as people we hadn't seen for years flooded us with support, mostly online. But we also received cards and meals, gift cards and care packages, and many offers of babysitting.  

Throughout this hard time we have been the recipients of much love and service, all due to the devastating diagnosis of the life altering disease our daughter has. Most of the support was at the initial time of diagnosis, but those who have supported us during this whole long journey are much loved by us. We are forever thankful to all those who take the time to look beyond their busy lives to help us in our time of great need.  

In the words of Fred Rogers, "Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me." 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Sound Of Silence

"...disturb the sound of silence..."

Music disturbs the sound of silence and touches the soul.

To fully feel emotions, sometimes we need music to take us to the deeper parts of our soul.

This version of this song seems to channel my feelings lately. I've listened to it over and over.

Les Miserables is a musical that disturbs the sound of silence as well. Full of passion- love, anger, pride, war, longing, sadness, desire. It has been my good friend.

We all need cathartic music to help us deal with our emotions.

Find your songs. Feel your emotions.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Empty And Full

Chemotherapy is a beast. Watching your toddler go through chemo is a different kind of hell. It is draining, to say the least. She has a calendar of her own to keep track of her multiple medications, appointments, and blood counts. We go through a lot of hand sanitizer and soap. We miss our families and friends and watch too much tv. We've cut our daughter's hair shorter and shorter in an attempt to mask the thinning but it's coming to a point where we will just need to shave it off.

Each time I have to hold down my screaming child while she gets poked tears off a little part of my soul. Each time I have to give my terrified child a shot myself tears off a big part.

It is lonely. It is hard. It is painful. It takes a toll on the whole family. My other daughter complains the screams are "breaking her ears".

The nausea, picky appetite, gloves for diaper changes, multiple Sharps containers, bags and boxes of medical supplies, confinement away from potential sickness, missed activities and parties, checking for fevers, the hospital stays.

She has a good prognosis and this should all be a distant bad memory one day. That's what keeps me going. But that's not the case for everyone dealing with cancer, and it wrenches my heart to think of those families.

The hospital staff and home health care nurses are wonderful. They care for the patient and the family. They never tire of my many questions and concerns. They are available for anything around the clock.

Family and friends pour out their love, prayers, and concern on facebook and through texts and phone calls. People rearrange their schedules to babysit last minute. Those who aren't sick and don't have anyone sick in their household stop by for visits. There is support from all around.

But with the love and support comes the dreaded question- "What can I do for you?"

Don't ask, I don't know what to say. Do I need you to do anything, probably not, so it's hard to answer the question.

Here are some better things to say or do.

"Would tonight or tomorrow be better for me to bring you a meal? I'm going to do it, so just pick."
"I'm going to bring you a freezer meal. Will you be home for me to drop it off tonight?"
"We're all healthy at my house and it's clean, can I take your other kids for a play date tomorrow?"
"What night would be the best for me to come babysit your kids so you can have date night?"
Give gift cards for restaurants, gas, and groceries.
Make a care package.
Send cards with a personal message.
Keep sending love and support even if they don't always reply back to your message.
Remember it's a long road, keep showing up.

You don't have to show up in person, just show up in genuine love and support. Thank you to all those who have made your love felt though you are miles away, and thank you to those who show up on our doorstep with open hearts.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Put Good Out Into The World

It seems as if the flags will fly at half mast forever more. Each week there is news of devastation in the world: war, terrorism, random mass killings, politics, famine, disease, and natural calamities. It seems as if the world is in a downward spiral of chaos and darkness. So what can you do to stop it? Probably nothing. It's true. But you can put good out into the world. You can put out light, happiness, kindness, laughter, and joy.

"So much darkness. Offer whatever light you can."

You may think you won't make a difference, and you probably won't make global newspaper headlines, but each good thought you think, each good deed you do has unknown far reaching effects.

"Not a day goes by that the world still doesn't quake with your impact--
 the ground beneath me will always shake because of you."

A smile and a hug may change the course of another's day, potentially shifting their actions from bad to good, thus affecting more lives in return because of your kindness. You will never know it in this life, but in the next life you will see the far reaching consequences of your actions, good and bad. The more good you put out now, the easier it will be to watch your life in review and own up to all you accomplished.

"Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but 
that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary 
folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."

We get so caught up in our own lives, so ego-centric, by natural design of self preservation. But the more we reach outside of ourselves, the more we learn about ourselves and come to love ourselves and others.

"We are here to awaken from our illusion of seperateness (sic)."

When we look for good in the universe, we find it. When we put out good in the universe, it finds us in return.

"I've found that focusing on the good or bad in a 
person tends to cause those attributes to grow."

Seek out the light and success of others, and let if fuel your fire to shine brighter. We're not here to just compete, we're here on a team. The best race is the human race.

"Call me crazy but I love to see people happy and 
succeeding. Life is a journey, not a competition."

"Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen." Make it happen, put good out into the world. Be the light in the darkness that gives hope to others. Do it now and always.

"Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen."

(unless noted in picture, sources unknown)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Family Is Everything

source unknown

It's easy to dwell on what is wrong in your life and even easier to forget your blessings. But "No matter how poor you think you are. If you have a family, you have everything."

Family is biological and chosen. It's birth, adoption, and friends. 

Some days, months, and even years will be hard but focusing on love in a family will help ease the troubles of you life.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

You Know You're A Parent When

You know you are a parent or around kids a lot when ...

When your fridge is more full of your kid's art and fingerprints than food inside.

When you find random photos or texts on your phone.

When you try everything to get your kid to eat, then finally resort to eating it yourself, and as soon as you take the last bite they want it and are upset you ate it.

When you find your kid without a diaper, and wonder how many places their little butt has been.

When you finally get mad at your kid, and then they cry and come to you for comfort because you're their parent, and they still love you even when you're mad at them, breaks your heart.

When you're really sick and you still have to take care of someone else.

When you end up cleaning the whole house looking for something your toddler hid.

When you know the theme songs for all the cartoons.

When you find yourself watching cartoons even after the kids have left the room to go play.

When you don't have any energy and are dead tired but still have to get up three times in the middle of the night and somehow you can do it.

When you don't mind eating something your kid has licked.

When you have all sorts of bodily fluid on you, and it doesn't bother you too much.

When you walk around unknowingly with a sticker on you all day.

When you wear a shirt with a stain, and if someone says something you pretend it just happened.

When you ask where the 'potty' is or say the food is 'yummy' to another adult.

When you reference kid's shows in adult conversation.

When you rock as you stand even if you're not holding a baby.

When you feel like an interpreter for your little kid's way of talking.

When you're just about had enough and your kid hugs you and says they love you- makes it all worth it.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Scariest Things

What are the scariest things to humans? Fear of the unknown and pain. People have stayed in misery because it's their known misery, they've grown accustomed to it, almost comfortable because it's understood or at least expected. People survive instead of thrive because they aren't sure how to change, or what will happen when they change. Will it actually be worth it? What happens if there is failure? What if I don't know what to do?

People won't truly change until they are ready for it, until they are in a place where they can make the change mentally and physically. How many people set goals or lifestyle changes only to fall back into their old habits. Some people make it through- drastic weight loss that stays off, change in eating and exercise habits that stays, complete change of personality, finally going for the dream instead of always planning.

It's hard, it hurts, there is failure, there are new and unexpected challenges, but moving to a higher plane is worth it every time, usually it's just a matter of time.

This weekend I went to lift a box I thought would be light but was actually quite heavy, and I was lifting improperly and felt something move in my lower back. According to the chiropractor my hip popped backwards out of place. If this has never happened to you, I greatly hope it never will.

My husband told me I was walking like a 90 year old woman, and I was because I was trying so hard to not feel the stabbing pain in my lower back. The spasms of the ligaments and muscles trying to protect the injured area made me want to just not move and hope it got better on its own. But of course that was unrealistic.

I went to a chiropractor and thought he helped but it still wasn't great. Then after a nap, I could hardly move without feeling the pain. I knew I couldn't stay on the bed and that I had to get up, but every move produced pain. I finally pushed myself through pain that hurt like hell and got myself to a sitting position then realized I couldn't move. I was crying, sweating, and breathing so hard. I yelled out to my husband and he helped me stand up and I took tiny baby steps to a chair where I cried some more.

My husband found a different chiropractor that would come into the office on a Saturday evening luckily, and I shuffled sideways to the car. The chiropractor was so patient and understanding of my reluctance to move, my crying, my mini break down, my fear. He took the time to figure out what was wrong and how to help me, but wouldn't proceed until I was ready. He managed to pop the hip back into place but let me know that I would still be in pain and couldn't really do anything for the next little while. He showed me how to sit down, sit up, lay down, move without too much pain. He also told me it will hurt to do normal things like brush my teeth, laugh, and even breathe sometimes.

It still hurts a lot, and I have to be careful but knowing how to take care of myself correctly, and mostly knowing that this too will pass helps. I know in a little while that I'll be able to cook, do the laundry, and more importantly, pick up my children when they want to be held. I'll be able to hug my husband without worrying about pain, and I'll remember to lift correctly.

My point with this long story? Sometimes you have to push through pain that hurts like hell and just trust that someday it will get better. Find someone that can help you deal with your pain correctly and follow their advice. Let others take care of you when you need it so that you can take of them when you feel better. Don't let fear of the unknown and pain hold you back from getting to a better place. Give yourself time for your wounds to heal. Just breathe, breathe deeply. Mostly, be thankful for misfortune that skips you, and grateful for what you do have in your life.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Wanted: A Little Humility

source unknown

Someone posted this picture in a mom's group on facebook. Many of the answers were the same: hatred, violence, evil, mean people, greed, pride. My first thought was war, probably inspired by watching Mockingjay recently. 

There are so many bad things that happen every day- why? Because people have traveled down paths, little by little, that led them to do horrendous things. Nobody wakes up and decides to abuse, kill, or harm another person without first traveling a path that led them there. 

We all have bad thoughts occasionally, it's human nature. But each time we entertain the thought, it puts down a stone on that path. We can easily turn around and start a different path, but the more stones we put down, each bad thought we muse on, leads us farther down a path. The further you go, the harder it is to take another path. 

People think the strong people are the bullies, the vicious, the loud; but truly they are the weak ones hiding behind a facade. You see true strength in humility. Stories of forgiveness, turning the other cheek, reaching out to the enemy, and dealing with hard issues. 

It's easy to make a snide remark for the laughs, it's hard to not retaliate and walk away. It's easy to be with your friends, it's hard to reach out to others. It's easy to make an anonymous mean comment online, it's hard to let the mean comments go. It's easy to get road rage, it's hard to let the anger go. It's easy to yell at someone's mistake, it's hard to stay calm and work to fix the issue with love. 

A little humility goes a long way in having a peaceful life. When you realize that answering with love not anger helps solve the problem, that people are mean as a defense to their pain not as a personal attack, that everyone has their strengths and weakness, that their accomplishments do not take away from your hard work, that we need to let people make mistakes, that we need to let ourselves make mistakes. 

Humility isn't being a pushover, being weak, or having low self confidence. Humility is understanding your great individual worth without thinking you are better than others. Humility is understanding that people aren't perfect and overlooking the small things. Humility is having the strength to control your emotions and your actions, to act not react. Humility is appreciating your blessings and looking for the good in your life and in people. 

If more people acted with humility, there would be less anger, less fighting and wars, less abuse, less evil. People would be happier and have more peaceful lives. People would be more productive, really listening and trying to understand others. The world would be a better place. 

Next time try a little humility. :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

How Do I Say This?

When you have something big to announce it can be fun to plan a big surprise if it's happy. But if it's bad news, you almost don't want to tell anyone because every time you say it, it becomes more real, it sinks in even more.

When we lost our first child, we made a general announcement on facebook after letting close family and friends know. But there were still people that we had to call because we knew they would want to know. I just couldn't make the phone calls, so my poor husband took the task. Every phone call was so hard.

Well, we have other big bad news. Our second daughter has neuroblastoma cancer and ataxia. It took about a month to officially diagnose from the first symptoms. It was a shock to hear the doctor say our daughter has cancer, but it was a little bit of a relief to finally know what the cause was, but still mostly a very depressing moment.

She's since had surgery to remove most of her tumor, and they'll be keeping a close eye on her to see if the remaining tumor grows again. We've also been treating her ataxia, helping her to walk better. She's at a point right now where her surgery wounds are healed enough, and her ataxia medication is working well enough that she's walking so fast. It's amazing to see her go from crawling because she couldn't walk anymore to almost running!

It has been really hard, but I've seen many people with worse problems. Every time I get too depressed, I hear about someone else's problems and I am thankful I'm not going through that trial. People fleeing from war and trying to make a new home as a refugee in another country, houses burning to the ground or being destroyed by earthquakes, deadly car accidents, and even people whose cancer is much more aggressive and advanced than our daughters.

If all goes well with our daughter, which the doctors are optimistic, then this could hopefully all be a bad memory. Not to say that there isn't a rough road ahead, because there still is much that needs to be done with our daughter, but the outlook is hopeful.

We don't know how strong we are until being strong is the only choice we have.