Saturday, May 25, 2013

Cupcake or computer?

My Dad took Jodi out to dinner for her birthday a couple of days ago. They ate dinner and sat and talked. They had a great time. Jodi said it was one of the funnest nights of her life.

At dinner, my dad wanted to do something nice for me. He told Jodi he had planned on going to Sprinkles and sending me home a cupcake to let him know that he was thinking of me. He then remembered Cupcakes for a Cure and figured that I got plenty of cupcakes. He thought about buying gelato but figured it would melt before she could get it to me. He asked Jodi if there was anything I needed and she couldn't think of anything.

He remembered that I am writing more and more so he told Jodi that they should go to Best Buy. They started out looking at keyboards for the Ipad. Things quickly went from a keyboard to a laptop. Then from an ordinary laptop to the laptop of all laptops.

They found a laptop with a keyboard that the screen is turned and it becomes a tablet. It is all touch screen. It is AMAZING!

So, Jodi called me on the phone and told me that her and dad had a great time and dinner. She asked if she could come show me what dad got her for her birthday. I said sure. I was excited to hear about how much fun she had.

She showed me this incredible laptop/tablet and we were so impressed. Hayden was oohing and awwwing over it. He was talking about all the cool features and cool gadgets. Hayden and Thomas were in awe with all that it did.

No one was more in awe, then when Jodi told me how much my dad loved me. How that he cares but can't fix this and it frustrates him. She then handed over the laptop/tablet and told me it was my very very early birthday present.

She relayed the story of the cupcake.

Cupcake or Computer?

That is so my dad. He never does anything half way. His philosophy is definitely go big or go home.

All he does is big and bold and over the top!

I am still in shock that this incredible laptop/tablet is mine. I have started writing on it and absolutely LOVE it! It makes writing so much easier. I can do it so much more often.

I am so thankful for this incredible Dad of mine. He is a good man with a huge heart. He loves me. He wants to make this illness as easy on me as possible. I am grateful for him and the great man that he is. He has been very caring and loving during this illness. I am very grateful. 
I love this sister of mine. She was happier for me than if it would have been for her. My dad apologized to her. He told her that she got dinner with him for her birthday and I got a laptop/tablet. It didn't quite seem fair. Jodi told him that it was one of the best nights of her life. She loved surprising me with such a great gift. How lucky am I to be surrounded by such amazing people that are more concerned with my happiness than their own?
This is right after Jodi told me that it was mine, not hers. I was in awe. The smile is evident to the love and joy that surrounded me and filled my heart and soul.
Thomas and Hayden love it, too! Hayden thought that is the coolest story ever. He couldn't believe that such a cool gadget is 'ours'.
I can honestly say that we love it! That beautiful and fun device has been explored and played with every single day.

How lucky am I to have such a generous and loving dad and sister? I am truly blessed!

Last Day of 5th Grade

Hayden is an official 6th grader. He said goodbye to his 5th grade class and is out for the summer break.

He keeps reminding me that he is now in 6th grade.

I think he feels very grown up.

I feel like that time is speeding at an out of control speed that will not slow down. It feels like someone hit the fast forward button and no matter how hard I try, time will not slow down to even a steady pace and rhythm.

My boy continues to grow up, change, learn, grow and get older.

As much as I want time to slow down. Let this age that I love linger. I know that Hayden is growing and loves all he is learning and experiencing.

Moving Hayden to Cambridge Academy school this year was a wonderful decision. I always question myself when I make changes and question if I am doing it right.

Looking back, this was definitely inspired and the best school for my boy this year. He had wonderful teachers. He made wonderful friends. He grew in ways that can not be explained.

Academically, Hayden accomplished over two complete years this year, with a three year improvement in reading and math. He has excelled at Cambridge. They teach "out of the box" learning and thinking. With my "out of the box" thinker, it has been a perfect match. 

Hayden has excelled in areas that he was already great at. He has conquered so many subjects and areas that were challenging. Most of all, he worked his hardest. His report card was all A's and B's. Most importantly, he had outstanding effort in every class and every area. He worked his hardest at all he did. He never did the bare minimum required but always went the extra mile. He has decided that learning is fun.

I am grateful for good teachers and a caring staff that took an interest in Hayden, saw his true potential and helped find him ways to learn and succeed.

Hayden definitely grew a lot this year. Not just at school but with all the events at home. He has learned to be a survivor. He has learned that prayer conquers fear. He has learned that hard work and extra effort pay off. He has experienced the sweet taste of success and he loves it.

He still misses his old school where he attended since Pre-K, but he has adapted well. He has made so many new friends. His teachers adore him. He is loved and cared about.

I am so proud of my boy. He has conquered, even in the hardest of situations. The life lessons he has learned this year will take him far in life. He has a great work ethic and gives his all. I couldn't ask for me. I love you Bubba and am so proud of who you are!

Brigham's Birthday- 7

Brigham turned 7 years old. Where in the world has time gone? I cannot believe how old he is. I love this boy with all of my heart. He is an amazing boy with so many amazing qualities.

Brigham is full of energy, great at sports, full of life, smart, energetic, loving, a cuddle bug, has a smile that melts my heart and loves treats. Most of all he loves his Aunt Jer, enjoys going on adventures with Uncle Thomas and loves playing legos and video games with Hayden. He brings more joy to our lives.

I will always remember the day that Jodi found out about Brigham. It was such a great day. Both of us were chosen by birth moms on the same day to get babies. Jodi and I were over the moon thrilled. We were going to raise babies at the same time. Life couldn't have been better. Life goes on and things happen. Our birth mom changed her mind. But, luckily for us, Brigham's didn't.

Jodi brought Brigham home in the middle of the night. I couldn't wait until the next morning to see him. I had to hold him as soon as possible. I held this 4 pound little bundle in my arms and he snuggled in. I was sold. He was so precious, so loving and so what I needed to heal my heart.

I found myself driving to Jodi's house several times a week, after work. I just wanted to sit on her couch and snuggle with this little precious baby. Brigham helped me overcome the loss that I felt of losing several babies that year to miscarriages and failed adoptions. I didn't have my own, but Jodi was willing to share her beautiful bundle of joy with me. Brigham's little spirit knew how much I needed him and he would snuggle and cuddle with me. I couldn't get enough of him.

To this day, Brigham has a way to touch my heart and bring my soul comfort and peace and joy. He still has a way of snuggling into me and my heart melts. What he doesn't know is that I would do anything in the world for him. He definitely holds a piece of my heart that is all his.

Happy Birthday, Brigham Buddy! I am so grateful for the gift of you in my life!
So, when on Sunday morning, I called to wish him a happy birthday and he lovingly and in his sweetest Brigham voice tells me there is plenty of time for me to bring his present over BEFORE church, we all hopped in the car and drove over to Jodi's. Like I said, I would do absolutely anything for this boy.
He had the gang come. But, I loved that he wanted his picture taken with Aunt Jer. I love you, Brigham! Always have. Always will.
Happy Birthday to my wonderful, incredible, knock them out of the park, adorable nephew, Brigham! I hope 7 is a wonderful year for you and you grow and learn and bring more and more joy and happiness into our lives.

My boys

With how much time I have had the privilege to spend with Jodi's boys, I consider all three of these, mine.

The day after Hayden got home from his field trip, I let him stay home from school. Why not? Less than a week left. They were only finishing up last minute assignments. Hayden was caught up. He was exhausted from no sleep for two nights with constantly going. Plus, I missed him.

Jodi had to run somewhere so she asked Hayden to babysit Talmage. He did a GREAT job! He played and played with Talmage. He made T man lunch. He watched movies with him. He even laid by him on my bed while I slept and rubbed Talmage's back so he would fall asleep.

Hayden is definitely growing up and is becoming more nurturing all the time. He loves Brigham and Talmage and is really trying to be a great example to them. I love that they are starting to look up to him and realizes he will be good to them.

With Hayden being an only child, I worry so much about him. I would give anything for him to have siblings. I did my best and it just didn't happen. One of the greatest gifts is that he has Jodi's kids. They are as close to siblings as he will ever know. I pray that they always include him and let him be apart of their lives as they grow. He loves them. So it touches my heart when I see them all so completely getting along and loving being together.
This one is definitely going on my wall. I love how sweet they are to one another. They had a ton of fun playing together.
When Brigham got home from school, he immediately started in on the fun, too. The boys wrestled, laughed, goofed off and had the best time.
I dreamed of the day when the fighting would be less then the getting along. We have finally hit that swing. They definitely play together and enjoy one another more than they fight. What a blessing. I love the smiles on their faces, even though they are blurred by the camera. I love all three of my boys.

Number B

Oh how I love Mr. Talmage. He cracks me up and brings joy and laughter to my life.

I enjoy the steps of him growing up. With my being around him every day, I get to experience all of his milestones and experiences in life. I absolutely love it. I consider it one of my most tender mercies. I love the joy and happiness that he brings to my soul.

Jodi has been working with Talmage. One day as he was driving down the street, he looked at the streetlights and said, "Hey, that's my number!" Jodi couldn't figure out what he was talking about and looked and looked and realized that the streetlights, being double sided, looked like a letter T. She told him that indeed that was his "letter T". Since then, he gets so excited any time anything looks like a "T".

Driving in the car the other day, he looked and me and said, "Jer, Look! It's my number B."

Jodi and I laughed and laughed. Jodi, lovingly, told him it was his Letter T. He said, "That's what I said, my number B." 

Oh the joy. I hate correcting him now. He will all too soon grow up. Not only will he know that it is indeed  a letter and not a number. He will understand the difference between a T and a B. But this innocent stage of learning and growing and experiencing life for the first time is so precious and is so fleeting. It is such a small moment that they are young and innocent.

I love this age. I love that each day brings a new adventure and new learning and new growth. I love that I have had the opportunity to experience so many of these precious moments with Talmage. These are the highlights of so many of my days. He is a precious little boy.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Murphy Gang

Imagine the joy I felt when I received a phone call from Thomas' brother's family saying that they would be coming down to Mesa over the weekend and could they stay at our house. I was over the moon elated. I absolutely love Scott, Shelly, Megan and Jazzy and couldn't wait for them to get to our house.

Megan is an absolutely sweetheart. She takes care of all the kids and plays with them. She humors Hayden and would do absolutely anything for him. I adore her. Jazzy is a little bundle of joy and happiness rolled into one. Her smile melts my heart. She is an Aunt Jer's girl and I love it!

When they come, all the Murphy's begin congregating at our home and I love it. I love all the laughter of cousins, the smile on Thomas' face as he laughs with his siblings, the joy on Joyce's face when her children are together. The love that surrounds is a great feeling.

Shelly is one of my dearest friends, along with being my sister-in-law. I adore her. I wished we lived closer to them. I know we would spend a lot of time together.

This weekend did not disappoint. We had a great time! We all stayed up late at night talking, we ate yummy food, we laughed, we caught up on one another's lives, we told stories and Thomas reminisced with his brother, sister and mom. It was great.

Hayden loved having so many cousins around to play with and have fun with. There was so much laughter coming from the back yard and the toy room. Of course, the noise and chaos trickled into the family room, but when it got too noisy, we would shoo them back outside or down the hall. They had so much fun together.
I loved that we snapped a picture together. Thomas has a great family and I am lucky to call them mine.
I think that Scott, Shelly, Thomas and I could stay up all night talking, laughing and discussing life. We had some great talks. We laughed. We cried. We celebrated. We had a great time!

I cannot wait for them to come back. They are sending Megan and Jazzy down for a week to stay with us this summer. I. Can't. Wait. Neither can Hayden. Love them. So glad they came down, even if it was for way too short of a visit. Love you guys! Come as often as you would like!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

5th Grade Fieldtrip-Grand Canyon

Hayden had the incredible opportunity of attending his 5th grade field trip with his friends at school.

On Monday, May 13th, at 10:45pm at night, we dropped Hayden off at the school for a three day adventure to the Grand Canyon, Sunset Crater, Lowell's Observatory, Glen Canyon Dam and many more places across Northern Arizona.

The first night they were to sleep on the bus. Hayden was in heaven as we dropped him off at the school and was one of the first in line to board the bus. He couldn't wait for this adventure of a lifetime to begin. He was so excited when he saw Chris, one of the boys in his group for this exciting adventure.
When Jackson showed up, his excitement almost became completely over the top. The anticipation brewed within him.
What a trooper and great sport that Aunt Suzi is. Her willingness to go chaperone these 5th graders so that Hayden could have this opportunity, is so selfless. I did have to laugh so hard as I talked to her in the morning and she informed me that there is no possible way to sleep on a bus with a group of 5th graders. She was exhausted and the adventure had just begun.
I was so excited for Hayden. I loved that he was wanting to go and be with his friends. I loved that he had Suzi with him so he would feel safe and secure. He has grown up so much this year and I have loved watching every moment of the young man he is becoming.
Hayden's group for the field trip. Suzi was responsible for Hayden, Jeremy and Chris.
In the morning, the bus stopped at Denny's, where the kids could order whatever they wanted for breakfast. Oh how that pleased Hayden.

One of the most memorable moments of the trip for Hayden was going to the Carl Hayden Visitor's Center. He loved seeing his name on the building and everyone made a huge deal out of it.
He was off for an adventure and so excited to get to float down the Colorado River.
Hayden and his buddies out on the water. I love the great friends he has in Jackson and Chris.
Jackson and Hayden in the museum. They had the time of their lives.
Hayden was in awe at the size of the Grand Canyon and the sheer beauty.
5th grade group shots!
Hayden loved feeling so grown up at all the restaurants. He loved being on an adventure with his friends. He loved the feelings of independence that he gained on this trip. I loved the confidence he gained.
He really does have a great group of kids that he gets to associate with at school.
Hayden had a great time! Night two, he slept in a room with three other boys. He did great at getting himself to bed, up and ready in the morning and packed back up. He conquered so many fears. He had so many wonderful opportunities to travel Northern Arizona and make incredible memories.

A shout out to two wonderful people who helped this to happen. Grandpa, who gladly donated his tax credit, so that Hayden could have this wonderful adventure. And to Suzi, who willingly gave of her time, energy and money to attend this field trip with Hayden. She gave him the confidence to venture out away from home and have this chance of a lifetime.

Hayden, I am so proud of you and your willingness and desire to try something new. Some of the best parts of life are had just outside of our comfort zones. You overcame so many fears and challenges and had such an "I can do it" attitude. I am so proud of you and am so grateful for all the adventures that you can call your own. I love you, Bud. As always, I am so proud to be your mom.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

My story

I have received quite a few requests from my new friends and acquaintances to share my story. I am trying to figure out how to summarize a couple of years of doctors, long hospital stays, many "death sentences", strokes, adventures, blood clots, experimental treatments, seizures, and miracles into a  readers digest version instead of a full length novel. Here goes my best attempt.

Two years ago I went in for a pretty routine robotic surgery to correct some hysterectomy complications. I spent my overnight observation without too many problems. On the way home, all of a sudden I felt a pain in my abdomen that hurled me into a ball accompanied by a intense headache which caused a audible gasp and scream. Something was terribly wrong. My husband took me to the nearest ER where the trauma team began treating me. Imaging tests showed massive internal bleeding. 

The details get crazy from there but it was later determined that I suffered a massive stroke and had lost over half the blood in my body due to my vaso-vagal nerve being cut during surgery. My body rejected the blood leaving doctors to believe the wrong blood type was administered. 

Shortly thereafter instead of healing from the surgery repair, I actually became sicker. I started passing out, completely losing consciousness and was having seizures. I spent so much time in the hospital with the doctors trying to understand what happened and what was going on with my body. Stroke rehab helped my be able to walk again and gain added strength in my arm and hand. 

A year went by with me growing sicker, the seizures becoming more intense and the passing out became a daily occurrence. I saw more doctors than I can remember and spent a lot of my time in testing and in hospital stays. My heart was not beating correctly and would drop into the teens and lower if I laid flat. My blood pressure and heart rate was so faint it was barely keeping me alive. The cardiac electrophysiologist determined my heart was okay but my brain was not telling my heart to beat and he sent me to am autonomic neurologist. 

By the time I saw this doctor I was so incredibly sick. I spent weeks in the hospital enduring tests and being poked by thousands of needles. With my heart rate and blood pressure so low, no anesthesia could be given. It was determined that I had a rare disease that the doctors knew about but there was no cure and it was still in experimental stage with not much information known on the illness. I was diagnosed with autonomic neuropathy, peripheral neuropathy, dysautanomia, vasovagal syncope and an autoimmune disorder. 

The doctor called Thomas and I in to discuss options. The doctors informed us that no one had lived longer than four months with the disease and I was already at a year. The odds of surviving were almost zero. The doctors would basically treat symptoms and make me comfortable. We begged for options and agreed to try anything experimental. There was one option given that only gave me a 10% chance of surviving but was told it may help. What other choice did I have? Die or try. We were told the odds were so slim. I would have no immune system so if I developed the flu, pneumonia or illness, I could not survive it. The chances of developing meningitis were over 50% and again, if acquired, death would be imminent. 

A week later, I started a six phased experimental immune system transplant type treatment. Massive amounts of IVIG were given to try and kill the fighter cells that were attacking my body. Day one, emergency medications were used when they thought my body was starting to slip into meningitis but I came out ok. Day two, the symptoms began again and this time I was not as fortunate. I developed meningitis. Day three of treatments were cancelled. By Friday, my husband called the doctor and he was told that with the meningitis, it was over. I was too sick to survive the hospital with all the germs and illnesses. My immune system had been wiped out. He needed to say goodbye and bring me to the hospital. 

Instead, hands were laid on my head and a priesthood blessing was administered. I became very ill but my husband kept me at home. I was not responding, couldn't eat or drink and lay still, coma-like, for two days. On Sunday, my church family prayed and fasted for me. That night, although so incredibly sick, I was able to respond. The doctors were shocked that I survived. A month later I went in for round three. Round four brought pneumonia which again, no antibiotics could be given and my body had no immune system to fight any disease. Another month and thru the miracles of our Savior, I was again able to fight my way back to be healthy enough to go in for my fifth treatment. Again, pneumonia and pleurisy developed and I grew gravely ill. All future treatments were cancelled and I was told there was nothing left to do but treat symptoms and try to make me comfortable. 

I continued to get sicker and sicker. I didn't know where to turn. Help was no where to be found. On top of this, January rolled around and with incredible medical bills, no doctors would treat unless we could come up with cash. The entire situation seemed hopeless. 

Without me saying anything, my sister knew that on top of all our medical bills, my $5000 deductible would have to be met again. She started "Cupcakes for a Cure" and sold cupcakes to raise money for me to see a new doctor. The generosity and love poured in. With cash from the cupcake sells in hand, I was able to schedule a couple of appointments. These new doctors tried figuring out if they could keep my heart from shutting down while others tried figuring out the neurological aspect of the disease. By this time, the autoimmune disease was killing me and organ at a time. Blood clots were rampant within my body and it was determined that I had taken many hits causing strokes and aneurysms. 

I could barely walk, and only with help. I sat on the couch almost paralyzed. The seizures were daily. The passing out occurred every couple of hours. I was struggling to catch a breath. Swallowing was so difficult. My body was so weak. I text-ed more than talked because of the extreme effort that it took to catch my breath and form words. 

The cardiac electrophysiologist called on a Friday in March and told me to get all my affairs in order. The testing that was required had such a high expectation of a blood clot letting loose that they would have three surgeons and a team of doctors ready to do surgery, in case a blood clot broke free. I was told the odds of me surviving the tests were minimal. However, there were no other options. Give up or try to see if these tests would reveal any answers. 

On Sunday, with my ward family, friends, my loved ones and many many acquaintances praying and fasting for me, I received a miracle. 

Another priesthood blessing was offered. In it, I was promised that I would find healing. I was promised that the Savior would intervene and breathing would become easier. I was promised people would be brought into my life that would hold the healing that I had been searching for. I was promised life. 

When hands were taken off my head, I took in a huge breath. Breathing hadn't come so easily in over a year. Immediately my heart felt like it was beating in a steady rhythm. I was over joyed and the tears fell freely down my cheeks. I immediately stood and had anticipated my legs working as well as my breathing. I stumbled and my husband caught me. I laughed. I didn't care if I ever walked again. I could breathe. 

I have a long walk back. The testing is still occurring. The doctors are still trying to find answers. Yet I know I hold life saving natural alternatives and the power of the priesthood. 

My Savior gave me the healing to take the first couple of steps down the right road. Since then, he has led me to those that can help me. Through them, their extensive knowledge and their willingness to help me, I know healing will come. 

I am so excited for the future. I think back often to that day in March when hands were laid upon my head and a blessing of healing was pronounced. My loving Savior could have easily brought 100% healing that day. Now, as I find healing, I will be able to teach other about how they can find relief, as well.

I am so excited for the future. The end of my story is still unfolding. I learn more each day. It is a journey but one I am so thankful to be on. 

Jodi's Birthday

My sweet sister and I celebrated her birthday by going out to breakfast to Apple Cafe, one of our favorites. A nice little hidden gem of a restaurant in Queen Creek. They have the best apple stuffed french toast. It is close to home and we had the place to ourselves during the week. It was wonderful.

I am so very grateful for Jodi. I was given the world's greatest sister. She is so special to me. I know that she was hand picked in heaven for me. She is my best friend. My confidant. The one I turn to for advice on being a mother. The first one I call when I am not sure what to do in a situation. The one I vent to. The one I express my greatest fears and deepest desires of my heart.

Jodi is one of the most incredible people I have ever known. She is the most amazing mom. She loves her children with all of her heart. She constantly puts their needs above her own. She prays for each of them and pleads with her Father in Heaven for answers in how to be a better mother and to know what to do for each of her children. She serves in her church callings with all of her heart. She prayerfully does the best she can to lead the way her Father in Heaven would have her teach and direct.

She loves her husband and speaks kindly of him, always. She knows his weaknesses but is quick to point out his strengths. She knows that he is a son of God and helps him develop to his greatest potential.

She loves all those around her. She always finds the best in others. She sees the needs in those around her and prayerfully fills those needs. She is always running treats over to others homes, babysitting neighbors kids, picking up extras from school and there are always twenty extra kids at her house. She is truly the kool-aid mom, but one that makes her own natural drinks.

Her children's and family's health is vitally important to her. She cans her own food, makes her own cleaning supplies, is constantly trying different foods to adjust to her children's allergies. I will never forget about a year ago when all three of her kids drank three different types of milk. One soy, one almond and one rice. How she kept it all straight is beyond me.

Her children all have different health challenges, yet she is constantly seeking for health alternatives for them. She finds and tries all different types of treatments. She has led me to so many new options for me and Hayden and Thomas. She is constantly looking for "out of the box" ways to help her dear children.

She loves me. She loves Hayden. She loves Thomas. She has and would do absolutely in this world that any of us needed. She has loved me, taken care of me, been my rock, been my strength, been my sounding block and my biggest cheerleader. She has brought me diet cokes, helped lift my spirits and been there when the road was dark and long.

Jodi lovingly started Cupcakes for a Cure. She has worked so hard to help us out financially. She was the answer from my Father in Heaven in how we could fund our medical treatments this year. She has never asked for anything in return when so lovingly getting supplies, giving of her time, working all day to make the cupcakes and all night to collect the money and pass the cupcakes out. She designed labels, came up with ideas and has done amazing at marketing Cupcakes for a Cure to bring in money for my treatments.

What Cupcakes for a Cure did for me was multifaceted. It raised the money for me to meet our medical deductibles so that doctors would again treat my medical conditions. It has continued to bring in money so I could try alternative treatments that medical coverage does not provide. All of the all natural treatments have been possible due to her making cupcakes and those around me, lovingly purchasing them. What else Cupcakes for a Cure did is something that I am not sure many are aware of.

When I was given less than a month to live and especially without money for treatments, I shut down. The path seemed too hard to walk, too overwhelming. I felt the benefits of me living this life and the burden it was placing on those around me was too great. I decided that I really was better off just quitting the fight and not placing any other burdens on those around me. When Cupcakes for a Cure started, the donations came pouring in. The stories of how I had touched lives came in with each dollar. The well wishes, the encouragement and love that poured in are still inexpressible in words. My heart was renewed and lifted and in awe. The only way I can explain it is when in "It's A Wonderful Life", all of George's family and friends come in, one by one, bringing him money and thanking him for his undying service and love. His life is validated by all those that have been touched by him over the years. Jodi provided me with my own version of "It's a Wonderful Life". I felt surrounded and buoyed up with love by all I knew. I was in awe at the love and generosity showered on me. It gave me the will power that I needed to fight this battle. When I no longer had the courage and strength to do it for me, I was given the incredible opportunity to see how others see me and feel about me. Oh what a precious gift that was for me in my darkest hours. It was the lifeline I needed to hold on.

I could spend pages and pages and days writing of all the ways that Jodi has blessed my life. Sufficeth to say, she is the best sister that I could have ever been blessed with. Not a day goes by that I do not thank my Father in Heaven for the gift of her in my life.

I love you, Jodi! Happy Birthday to the best sister ever.

Friday, May 17, 2013


The Western Conference was amazing. I learned so much. I loved meeting with so many amazing people.  

I loved all that I learned. I loved it all.

Most of all, I loved getting to eat lunch with Emily. She sat with me as I told my story.She had a spirit about her that was amazing. As we spoke, I knew that this was the door opened by my Father in Heaven.

Emily is definitely one of the kindest people that I know. She was sincere and comforting. She made me feel like I was the one helping her, strengthening her testimony, when she was such an angel sent down to me.

With speaking of Emily, I cannot neglect to mention Natalie.  My Father in Heaven knew I needed help.

 My Savior could have used anyone to help me, but he knew that Natalie would go the extra mile. He knew that she would help get me in touch with those that could help me. I am so thankful for Natalie. She has been the answer to so many prayers. I am so thankful for her sensitivity to the spirit and listening and following its promptings. She is definitely someone I will always regard as my angel on earth. The Lord had a plan for me and he utilized sweet Natalie to help bring to pass his miracles.

After a very long journey of getting sicker and sicker, it is so wonderful to feel like I am walking out of the spiral, one step at a time, one day at a time. But, I will get there. No matter how many stairs lay ahead, I know that I am in the right place. Who would have known that the answers I sought after would be within my reach. My Savior did. Looking back, I see the progression. I see how he has led me and my path. What a journey! I am excited to write the rest of my story.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

South Korea Project

Hayden's 5th grade had to pick a country and do a huge end of the year project. Because I went to South Korea, Seoul West Mission, Hayden chose to do his report on South Korea.

First up was we had to make a country out of salt dough. It had to be three dimensional and contain every mountain, mountain range, lakes, streams, islands and topography of the country. I honestly do not think that Hayden could have picked a harder country for this assignment. South Korea has over 300 islands and in a very short distance goes from sea level to one of the highest points in all of Asia.

Of course, Hayden, being artistic and a perfectionist, wants to do over the moon projects. There is no second class assignments when big projects are involved. Knowing my stamina and Hayden's perfection, we decided to start right away on this massive assignment. We spent Friday night gathering supplies and designing and planning the projects out. No kidding, we spent ALL day Saturday working on his map. We rolled out the dough and began creating mountain ranges, elevations, islands and the lakes. Of course, Hayden had the fantastic idea that all of the words and key be written in English and Korean. There was no convincing him otherwise. He decided that was what he wanted and he was going to go for it.

Sunday before church, we continued to work on his project. More because we were having fun than a requirement to get it done. I had him start weeks in advance. We talked of missions, the people, my experiences and funny stories of how I messed up the culture. We did have fun creating this masterpiece.

Thomas explaining to Hayden how to achieve his desired outcome.
Love how much Bubba loves his dad.
I loved that Hayden did keep thanking us for being involved and helping him.
He was in heaven as the project started coming together. With each new element added, his face lit up as his vision began to come to life.
Along with having a massive detailed map of their country, they were also to create a travel brochure highlighting all the great adventures in their country. The grade was going to be based on how many people in the class would choose to visit your country after reading your brochure. With Hayden's artisitc and writing abilities, he picked some pretty catching word phrases that made the travel brochure pop. He used beauty, culture, ziplining adventures, shopping excursions and exotic food to convince people that choosing South Korea to visit would be a great idea. He did a great job.
Once the map and travel brochure were created, he then had to write a report on all the things he learned about South Korea. He had detailed out paragraphs on their economy, natural resources, people, cultures, history and overall fun facts. He drew the reader in and kept it educational and exciting at the same time. I was amazed by his writing capabilties and the way he held the reader's attention. He was supposed to have a two page report, but he could not narrow down the facts he wanted to include and turned in a four page report.
He was so proud of the finished product. I think he received the reaction he wanted when he turned in the map and travel brochure. The teacher and students were amazed at Hayden's level of detail and some of the elements that he included.
His idea was to create each main city with flags giving their English names on one side and their city names written in Korean on the other side.
Hayden amazed me on this project. With his IEP, he was able to do a modified assignment, with only a one page report, was told the travel brochure was optional and that he was just to do his best on his map. Hayden didn't chose to take the easy way out. By the time I started counting the hours Hayden worked on the project researching, talking about his ideas and actually sitting down and working on his masterpiece, I was in awe at the extensive hours that he put in.

He, or should I say, we, spent two complete Saturdays working on this project. Each day after school for two weeks we would look up facts and learn info on South Korea. He easily spent over forty five hours, outside of school working on this project.

Way to go, Bubba! I am so proud of you for having a vision and knowing that if you put hard work, lots of time and your best effort into this assignment that you could do whatever anyone else could. Not only did you do it, Bubba! You can do anything you set your mind to. This project is proof that hard work and dedication defintely pay off.

Ariyona and Faith

Ariyona and Faith came to visit us while they were in town this past week. Faith has really gotten a lot bigger since they moved to North Dakota. She is a cute baby and is really smiley. It was fun to hold her and play with her for a little while.

Hayden has really missed the girls since they moved out. He loved seeing Ariyona and talking with her. I think it was a little weird for him that she has a baby. He is not sure what to think since she is doing the mom thing instead of just playing video games with him. He does like Faith, especially when she is smiling and reaching for him.

Ariyona is really trying to be a great mom to Faith. She is learning that it takes a lot to raise a little human but she is really putting Faith's needs above her own and learning a lot.

I wish they lived back in Arizona so we could get more time with sweet little baby Faith. But, we do love that she comes to visit us whenever they are in town. I love Ariyona and only want the best for her. She was born to be a mom and sure loves her precious baby girl.


Snakes are something that I can NOT stand.

Princess and Spanky spent an entire day barking and barking. I was so incredibly frustrated. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't do anything with the loud barking in the background. I seriously was ready to go crazy with their shenanigans.

Thomas came home and went to yell at them to quit barking and low and behold, they were barking at this snake in our backyard. Since Thomas loves snakes, there was no way he was going to kill it.

Hayden and I were in the office working on homework. Thomas comes walking down the hall, snake in hand, to show Hayden. I screamed. What was he thinking bringing a snake in my house? Thomas was cracking up laughing that I was yelling and freaking out.

Hayden went with his dad outside to try and release it way up the wash, far from our house. I told Thomas that thing better not find its way back home. He assured me that he removed it far from our house.

Two days later, the dogs again were barking. I looked this time to see if I could figure out what they were barking at, but could not see anything. Thomas came home and went exploring and found that this slithery creature had again come "home".

I told him too bad. He was killing that slimy thing. Against his desires, to make me happy, he killed the snake.

There are definitely down sides to living in the desert and backing the natural wash. It is beautiful and provides a lot of privacy but creatures like snakes, wild rabbits, scorpions, lizards and all types of creepy crawlies also enjoy our yard.

Now, every time I hear the dogs bark, I will not let the kiddos outside. I am so scared that their continual barking means they have located more creepy crawlies trying to make our home, their home.

Lessons with Grandma

Sweet Grandma Joyce has started teaching Hayden to cook.

Since everyone has a different day picking Hayden up from school, the routines have started to become fun. On Mondays, Grandma Joyce picks Hayden up from school and they come home and start dinner. At 4:15, she runs Hayden to art lessons and picks him up at 5:30. When he gets home, they finish making dinner. We eat as Thomas walks in. While I help Hayden quickly with homework, Thomas and Joyce usually clean up. We try to go as fast as we can, even completing the science homework and vocabulary over the weekend to make for a light homework night.

The best part of the night is when we settle in on the couch and start family home evening. I think the Grandma loves the weekly tradition of being in our home for FHE. We talk and have a lesson and with Grandma cooking, there is usually a yummy FHE treat. We always include some little video clip from Mormon Messages before scriptures and prayer.

It has been one of my favorite new traditions with Joyce. She has been so great to us. The relationship that she has with Hayden is priceless. He is lucky to have such a fun tradition with her each and every week.

With school coming to a close, Hayden and Grandma have started planning out their summer. Both of them want to keep up the weekly tradition of Grandma time. As we sat and planned some activities, I think he will have a lot of fun with her. The are going to go to the geneaology center and learn how to do indexing. They are going to continue cooking lessons. They are also going to make some crafts together. I am so thankful for Joyce and her desire to make great memories with Hayden. He sure loves and adores her. She is one great grandma!