Saturday, February 13, 2016

Happy Hiking and Happy Valentine's Day

Our Valentine's Day activity!

This is all I am posting, but it was great to be in fresh air out in the sun with my love today!

I set up my tripod for this one. That is Mt. Timpanogos behind us!

We were hiking but we saw some people riding these awesome bikes on the snow and Marc was bold enough to ask if he could give the bike a try... and they let him. We may have to try this together one day.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Faith, Prayer and a little bit of Funny.

Wow! You guys!

Prayer and faith are real!

I was so stressed and nervous about taking Sister to her doctor's appointment last night and even let the anxiety of what I might face get me down yesterday morning...


A little prayer and a lot of faith and all there was was a big meltdown when I told her about the appointment after school that lasted about 30 minutes, and then... voila! She was so good.


For real?

We were even able to go to the store afterwords so she could pick out candy for her Valentines!

So I'm starting today with a better attitude and a more hopeful outlook.

Oh, I'm still overwhelmed by Our Life... you can be sure of that.

So I've decided sometimes I have to go through life like the picture below:

I might have to go through life with my eyes closed, but I am, at least, gonna find a way to laugh about it along the way!

Ha! Ha! Ha!

My mom took this picture of me at her house one night because we were just being goofy... I still laugh every time I see it!

I forgot to tell you yesterday, in my whining mode, that Baby said the funniest/cutest thing.

Let me give you the background for her words so that you'll get it.

So, to my chagrin, Baby is 6 and a half and still not potty trained. She keeps giving me a drop of hope every couple of months by voluntarily peeing on the potty by her own choice. I get all excited thinking we are on our way to a diaper free life... then she reminds me that she is in charge and has NO desire to not be in a diaper all day, but she is starting to talk more and understand more and that leaves room for the understanding of a reward chart.

So, on Wednesday afternoon, when she asked for a Barbie doll for no special reason, I said, "well, it's not Christmas or your birthday so I can't just get you a new toy for no reason. How about if you go potty 10 times then you can earn a Barbie doll?"

She smiled and went and sat on the potty and sat for while trying to make it happen. She succeeded and after our little celebration she followed me into the kitchen to mark her little chart and then she smiled and excitedly asked for her Barbie doll. I had to explain again that she had to have 10 marks on her chart to get her doll. So after she fussed for about an hour about not having a Barbie she decided to go potty again and she did. Then she ran in to watch me put a mark on her potty chart and then asked again, "Barbie?"

Needless to say, it wasn't exactly the prettiest response from Baby that I have seen and it took a while for her to calm down about not having a new Barbie yet.

I thought she had just forgotten about it yesterday until after I had gotten Sister off to school I walked into the kitchen to see a distraught look on Baby's face. She looked up at me, and clear as day, said to me, "I hate my chart."

Ha! Ha!

How cute it she?

I love hearing her talk, but I also love to hear that she has her own opinions and feelings.

Her chart is still hanging on the fridge with 2 marks on it, but hopefully we'll get to 10 marks before she's 10 years old.


Now for a little update on Brother's hip. He stayed home all day from school and even stayed home from his class Valentine's Party after school. Poor little guy. It's hard to tell if it's just hyper-sensitivity to pain, the love of the attention he gets for being hurt or if he really can't walk well, but I do think he is hurting... I'm guessing he has a really bad bruise.

Anyway, being the angel that she is, his teacher, Marie, came with her kids to visit Brother and bring him Valentine cards that his classmates had made for him.

I was with Sister at the doctor at this time so I wasn't there, but hearing Brother talk about it all morning reassured me it was the highlight of his week! He even got up and got ready for school today all while limping and whimpering, but as excited as could be to see his friends at school.


We are so blessed.

I wish I could share this video with you that his teacher sent me while Brother was at home missing his party because it is adorable, but, I am just going to at least give you the audio feed. Brother couldn't stop smiling as we watched it twice:

I'm working on happy today and I am succeeding.

Like I always say, "fake it till you make it."

Sometimes that helps.

I just have to share this picture of my little friend, Ranger, keeping me company while I have my bone stimulator machine attached to my foot... he's always there by my side... sometimes annoyingly... but, most of the time welcomed. (smirk)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Peaches and Eggs

Life is great!

Really, it is!

I have so much to tell you that will make you smile!

See. I'm smiling! 

Well, actually this is a shot from when I was having a conversation with our dear friend, Thomas. With Marc being home I got him involved and it ended up getting pretty goofy....

I had to laugh when Marc agreed to get on the couch with me and hang upside down... oh the things we do for our loves.

Sometimes I get pictures from Brother's teachers or classmates.

I love them.

He doesn't tell us a whole lot about his day so it is fun to get a little insight into it from others' perspectives.

This one is with his friend, Gracy, at bowling during their Life Fitness class.

I just can't help but smile.

 A couple of days ago, Brother was having one of those rare moments where he volunteers information to us about his day at school. It was so cute when he told me that one of his peer tutors gave him a Granny Smith apple. He was smiling so big when he said, "He had one for me and one for himself."

I almost cried.

I'm so thankful for good people.

I've also had the awesome privilege of seeing Sister take Baby and do cute little things with her like making a lunch for the both of them and taking it into her room and setting it up on her desk and they eat and "talk" together.

It melts my heart and makes me laugh at the same time... I love that Baby's lunch is animal cookies and water.

Sister has also been working hard to teach Baby the ways of organizing and ordering random objects. This day it was hair ties and barettes... hey, I'm not complaining I am just thankful that my two daughters are doing things together. It's such a joy to watch.

I am also happy because I went on a rad date with the hubby and our friends this last weekend and tried something I had never tried before...

We did a chocolate and vinegar tasting at a local restaurant/chocolate factory, The Taste! It was quite an experience and I felt so cultured... like I was in Europe or something.

This is me at the tasting counter with Marc reflecting next to me and our hostess giving us the explanations of chocolates of all kinds. It really was a treat.

So we did chocolate tasting for our appetizer at one restaurant and then went to another restaurant, Oregano, for our main course.

The service, the atmosphere, and the food were great! I had to take a picture of my fancy potatoes... too bad I only had my phone camera to get the shot... ho hum... but trust me, it was really good.

That tall, empty glass in front of Marc was our Italian Soda which was amazing so if you ever go there, you really need to try one.

Then we took a little walk to let our food settle a bit before dessert and Marc and I introduced our friends to a local clothing store, Unhinged, that is quite unique and awesome, but also has this really cool barber shop set-up for mens beards and cuts. I made Marc and Brent take a seat for a shot.

I wish I had remembered to get a picture of our next stop for dessert. It was a place that serves what's called Kronuts. Never heard of that before so we thought we'd keep our adventurous night going and go there for dessert. I didn't end up getting a Kronut, but I got a pastry of another kind and it was so delicious... I'm telling you this was the date night of European delight... at least it took me back there for a moment. We had good laughs, good conversation, and good food. I love dates like that!

This morning I took pictures of two things that made me smile:

The first one was Baby's dolls that she has stacked on our side table next to the chair in the front room. I keep putting them in her room and she keeps sneaking them back to the front room.

Last night I heard some little footsteps run down the hall as I was working late at my computer.

I think I know now what she was doing.

Too funny.

I know it's dark, but, it was kinda creepy that way...

After being spooked by the re-appearing dolls I open the curtains to see there was a lot of fog outside and the street light and trees looked so cool. I just stepped out our front door and took a shot.

Also, I have another reason to be happy! Guess what!

I made it into another play at the Scera! I get to play the part of Matron in Saturday's Warrior! Cheesiest LDS film ever and yet, I have always LOVED it! So excited to be a part of it on stage. It will be so nostalgic!


So why did I have such a hard time getting myself to move forward this morning?

So much joy, so much to celebrate, so much to be happy about... and I could only do the necessary to get the girls off to school.

I hate depression.

It sucks!

I think that all the physical and emotional turmoil of taking Baby to a doctors appointment last week and a hearing test at the hospital yesterday, Brother coming home from rollerskating with church friends crying because he fell hard and couldn't go to school this morning because he couldn't walk and knowing that I have an upcoming doctor appointment for Sister tonight... It drains me. All of these things are so wearing and intimidating and overwhelming.

It's not often that a mom has to hold her daughter in a trained position in order to just have a doctor look at her ears.

It's not often that a 16-year-old boy falls and acts as if his limb was ripped off.

It's not often that you have to endure threats and screaming from your sweet-faced 10-year-old daughter just to get her to a well-check.

But, it's often enough for me.

I just have to keep moving forward.

Our Life won't get any easier, I am seeing that now.

I have to push through it. 

I have to keep going so I won't be defeated.

I mean, if you look at the bright side, which I just spent 90% of this post telling you about, life is peachy... I just have to focus on the peach instead of the pit.

I do have to end though, by showing you the video I put together of the kids getting excited (and overstimulated) about a surprise that was sent to us in the mail last week.

I am amazed at the kindness and thoughtfulness of people and when I received a message from an acquaintance and friend from high school I was a bit shocked that she would choose my family to send a special package to. She and her kids sent my kids one of the greatest things they could ever  have received in the mail—chocolate Kinder Eggs! Best day ever!

My heart is filled with joy when I think of all the great people I have the privilege of knowing.

How can I not smile when even a far away friend can be such a peach!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Yep. It's one of THOSE things...

Oh you guys!

You've missed so much!

Let me catch you up...

No, let me catch me up!

I'm enjoying life too much!

No. Seriously. It feels weird.

When you have been in a weird depression fog for a long time and struggling to make everything positive, it almost feels weird to just enjoy life without effort.

Does that make sense.

I mean, I did have some moments of, "WHAT THE @!#$!%!!," but all in all it's been great. Let's just say that I am still recovering from a severe bruise given to me during a massive anxiety attack from on of the kids... boy, if you need a constant reminder that your life isn't normal, that'll do it for ya!

See, that's the thing though, if I wasn't out of my depression cloud that would have been so much worse and could have sent me into Yucky Town, but, instead, I would tell people about it and show them, proudly, that I survived it and will probably have to survive it again.

See this cute little drawing?

This is a pride and joy for both Marc and I and especially Baby!

She has been doing so much and realizing so much about the world around her. It's kind of like watching a typical 2-year-old starting to do all the things they do: pretending, wanting to do things themselves, playing with toys with a purpose, conversing (somewhat). We just had to wait until she was 6 1/2 to enjoy it.

Anyway, on Sundays at church I keep her entertained and sitting through sacrament meeting by drawing My Little Pony ponies for her. I have to try to make each picture last as long as possible so I always add grass, flowers, a tree with apples and sometimes even sky with clouds and a sun.

I almost cried when I saw this drawing she did one day.

Here, I'll help you "see" it.

She always has to have me draw a pony with a unicorn horn, and wings. And in order to make it a true My Little Pony, it always have to have a dramatically flowing mane and tail, and don't ever forget the cutie mark.

She included everything!

I have been finding these almost everyday as she sits to the table to draw a new one.

Her teacher at school told me that she has been drawing them there too.

I'm such a proud mommy!

This pony was the first one that I ever noticed her draw and it has been hanging on my fridge... I think I may have to frame it.

I do that sometimes.

Brother painted a great painting of a rainbow once and I have that framed and hanging in our home.

I can't take anything for granted, I need to enjoy every thing our children accomplish.

Thinking of Baby drawing takes me to her doctor appointment this past Wednesday.

Holy cow! That was a doozie!

Doctor appointments with any of my kids is ALWAYS a challenge.


A. L. W. A. Y. S.

So, of course this was no different and was impacted by the fact that she wasn't able to ride her bus to school because of the appointment time.

Once we got in the car and were on our way, she was actually quite happy. All the way to signing in for the appointment.

Then it happened... (read those dots as a "duh, duh duh")

They came to get her for the appointment.

It was all uphill from there.

I say uphill not because it was easy, because "downhill" would hint at no physical exertion, and that would be a lie.

It's moments like this that I am so thankful that my back is stronger and I can "handle" my special children in times of struggle. It took two of us just to hold her by the wall so we could check how tall she is. Now, I know, for some parents they would say, "Just skip the weight and height and we'll do it next time," but we are watching Baby's growth and weight-gain closely as she pretty much only eats Pediasure.

Which leads me to divert to another quick story of her actually eating lunch at school and not just her Pediasure! Her teacher even sent me pictures because it was such an epic moment:
I wasn't sure if I should cry because she was eating real food,
or because I was so proud to see that she could carry her lunch tray! Oh, it's the little things!

OK. so back to the doctor's visit... (again, duh, duh, duh)

By the time we got back to the room I was already a crumpled mess and she was now past that point as I answered some of the nurses questions. After about 10 minutes Baby settled down because she found something in my purse that made her smile.

It's ironic actually.

I doubt any female smiles when they see the item she had found in my purse.


You'd think it would be the suckers that kept her happy, but no, it was the thing tucked away in that green, square package.


That's a feminine napkin.

Uh huh.


She was so happy listening to it crinkle in it's bright green package and making it a great little addition to the home of the suckers!

Sorry, Jessie, but how could I not take a picture of this and not share it with the world.

It's hilarious!

(Jessie is my younger and wiser sister who has to keep me in check most of the time.)

Love you, Jessie...

Anyway, I was finally able to get her to put the feminine item back in my purse by having her pose for pictures on my phone:

There were several of these full-of-sass pictures and trust me, there was a lot of sass. She was still mad at me for having her there.

She took some time once she had settled a bit to draw one of her pony pictures.

I was so proud of her.

When her doctor came in he was so proud of her too! He said it's a big step forward in her development to draw like that! Yay!!!

"Forward" in development is always nice to hear as a parent of a child with special needs!

I'll save you all the details of the rest of the appointment, but let me just say that it ended with me feeling like I had run a marathon, Baby with big crocodile tears, any other parents in the office thankful for their own children, her doctor walking out the door saying, "You are amazing, I have so much respect for you, good luck," with a worried smile on his face and me needing to drown myself in an Arctic Circle shake and fries... Whoa!

I really can't express enough during the rough moments of Our Life that I am so grateful for my faith.

I have this really awesome opportunity to go to a special place of worship to feel at peace and serve others at the same time.

I love to go to the temple!

I can't take pictures of the inside of the temple for you to see, but I took lots of the outside.

There is so much peace for me inside the Holy Temple of The Lord.

This is the Provo Temple. It's been the only Temple in Provo until recently.

It's a really awesome story that I'll let you look into on your own, but the Provo City Center Temple was once a tabernacle and has now been built, literally from the ashes, and the open house is going on now to March.

Marc and I took Brother to the open house of the Provo City Center Temple on Thursday night.

It is so beautiful!

If you aren't close enough to see it yourself, in person, here is a link so you can see what it looks like inside.

Brother was so happy to be there. He couldn't stop smiling.

It was so neat to see him feel the peace and happiness that I also feel while in the temple. And to be with him in a place that allows me to have the promise of being with my children and hubby forever, is always humbling.

We wanted to take pictures to commemorate our little outing with our son, but he really didn't want his picture taken. So I just snuck one while he was splashing his hand in the fountain.

We were lucky enough to get Brother to come with us to eat dinner afterwards.

I can't even explain the joy we had as Brother actually conversed with us and told us little things about it his day at school and even some of his happy moments that have been happening throughout the week.

If you have a 16-year old son, I know it is hard to get them to talk to you sometimes, but when he does, listen. Really listen. Don't judge, scorn or ridicule but allow him to talk freely to you so that he feels comfortable sharing things with you. I know that my situation is a little different than those of typical teenagers so it is easy to say that when I am just excited to hear Brother speak words to me, but trust me. I know.

I raised my nephews for a short time.

They needed me to listen to them.

Brother's feelings may sound different than my typical nephew's, but they need to be heard and expressed all the same.

I wasn't going to share this, because I don't even know if I'll even make it into this play, but, I went to callbacks today for a play called Saturday's Warrior. As part of my callback I was auditioning to be the mother in the show and had to sing a song and show emotion about a struggling relationship with her oldest son.

I was amazed at all the emotions that ran through my head as I portrayed this mother's feelings.

I thought I would have to draw more on my experiences of raising my nephews, but instead I came to tears at one point because I was drawing on the struggles, the special struggles of my own son. His fight in this life is so different than I had hoped it would be.

The song talks about how "he's grown up some how" and I was able to realize for a moment, that even with Brother's Fragile X he has grown up and matured in a way that I am grateful for.

I love him.

He's such a blessing.

I am so glad that he and his sisters chose to come live with Marc and me.

So, even though I run marathons at every doctor's appointment, sport bruises the size of baseballs from child bites, keep my stomach muscles flexed to endure the flying kick the the gut and live in constant alert being prepared for the next breakdown...

I have a full and wonderful life and I am thankful that I get to watch my children grow up... no matter how long it takes them... I am just thankful for forever.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Who do I look like?

You know it's pretty cool that we live only a 45 minute drive away from one of the biggest film festivals in the world—The Sundance Film Festival in Park City. We live only 20 minutes from actual Sundance where Robert Redford began the whole thing but it's popularity required more space so it is in the nostalgic winter town of Park City.

I didn't realize it, and don't ask me why I didn't remember, but Marc has never been to Park City during the film festival.

Everybody loves going there to go spot movie stars, try to get pictures and just enjoy the atmosphere.

Oh, and they go see independent films too.

Marc and I decided last minute to go and enjoy the crowds and the ambiance of Park City during Festival time. It was our date night outing and we weren't quite prepared for how packed and busy it was going to be.

We spent the first hour of our time just driving at 5 miles an hour through the main street and we were about to give up until we realized they had free shuttle service from further parking lots. So back to the outskirts of Park City and we were in for an entertaining shuttle ride. 

At each stop we just kept packing more and more people in until we all got to know each other quite well (smirk). There was a group of friends on there that kept us all laughing while making comments about "the more the merrier," "pack 'em in," "can I get your phone number?" It was fun and made the ride seem much shorter.

After getting off the shuttle Marc and I kept our eyes wide open as we searched the passersby for movie star sightings. Marc and I got a good chuckle as we were nearing a small crowd this young man kept darting his head out and looking at me. I couldn't figure out if he was trying to be non-chalant or just really excited to see me... at any rate, as I came closer to him he stepped out as if to greet me and then he shied away back to his group and carefully smiled at me as I smiled back at him making eye contact. I just want to know what movie star he thought I was! I should have said, "Who do I look like?" Marc got quite the kick out of this too as he noticed before I did that this guy was anxious to see me as I passed.

That was one of the highlights of my night!

We saw so many people who looked like movie stars, but we didn't know who they were or even if they actually were. It's funny to walk up and down the streets as people are all trying to casually look at each other to discover the disguised movie star under the winter hats and coats and beards and boots.

After not spotting anyone and getting quite hungry from our star search journeying, we decided to stop and eat. We chose something "affordable" and did pizza and pasta.


Let me remind you.

We are in Park City.

Nothing is cheap here.

But, we hoped it would at least be reasonable, but, no such luck. It was one of the most expensive cheap dinners we've ever had out on a date... and maybe not because of the price, but the price we paid for the amount of food... which wasn't much... really. I thought a calzone might be, at least, bigger than a subway sandwich... 

Anyway. We still had fun and were even lucky enough to only have a 20 minute wait when soon after us there was a life spanning halfway down the building.

Our seats weren't the best.

Here, check it out:
No, that's not a bad picture, it's bad lighting. We were seated just a few feet away from their bright, red, neon sign...

We were slightly disappointed with our dining experience so we were so excited to see that Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory wasn't far off and we were happy to share a caramel apple.

Here we are waiting in line to get our treat.

After we snarfed our apple we continued down the street taking selfies, people watching and star searching.

We stopped in few art stores, which I always enjoy, but I was really excited to discover a new artist I have never heard of and I loved his work, it was so creative. And I can't remember his name now so I am going to have to get it on here later... argh, I hate when I don't remember things...

Then we walked the bridge and Marc got some nice shots of the lights and the street.


Of course we had to get us on the bridge too.

At the beginnings of our journey home we talked on and on about how much fun we had even though we didn't see and movie stars, except for one we recognized but couldn't remember what we had seen him in and I later found out it was Casey Affleck, he looked way different than in Oceans 11-13. He had a beard, shaggy hair and amazing eyes!

But as we got closer to home, the roads got worse! They were snowy, icy and slushy which made for some scary moments of sliding and turning.

We were so relieved we made it out of the canyon safely that we went and got a shake to celebrate our survival... kind of funny that we chose ice cream to cheer us up after almost getting stuck in snow...

Almost 20 years guys! We have almost been married 20 years!

I'm telling you, dating your spouse is the bomb-diggedy!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Taco Time and Truth Time

I was checking something on my new flash so I used Brother as my subject.

He was happy to cooperate at first and then I started invading his space...

This is all very typical for Brother—the green apples, the salt and vinegar chips, the blanket, the microphone, the headphones, the iPod, the couch—all of it is pretty much him every day. he would live here all day if we would let him.

I call it his cave.

It's where he hides when company comes, but it's also the place he stays most of his days.

I've been working hard to get him services so that I could arrange a caregiver or "buddy" that would be paid to work with him so that he can get out and do things like attending his high school games or going out to eat, all without our being there. He really just doesn't do things very well with us and does better with "buddies." I finally have been able to work that out for him and his buddy is Jake and he has taken him to 2 high school basketball games so far and Brother has LOVED it! I love hearing about him saying "hi" to his peers and them saying "hi" to him. Him being social is something I don't really get to witness because he is so reserved around me, so hearing that this is a part of his personality is so rewarding!

Baby has been talking so much more and she utilizes this skill to tell me what to do quite often... I never thought my little silent one would be such a sassy pants! As much as I have to remind her that she is not being nice, I LOVE that she is talking so much and her voice is so adorable regardless of whether they are sassy or sweet words.

Take this picture for instance.

She made me take it just because she wanted to look at it after...

Our dog, Ranger, really has been a very good thing for our kids and I am amazed at the peace he has brought to our home with his demeanor and presence. He has been such a blessing. I can't begin to tell you how many melt-downs he has discouraged, how many tears he has licked off cheeks, or how many endless snuggles he allows while giving me puppy dog eyes wondering when he gets to be done being squeezed.

Taco time...

Every Monday night we have a family night where we spend time together and have prayer, singing and a spiritual lesson and if the kids are really doing well we have an activity.

The activity part doesn't happen very often because they just don't last long enough or they just aren't comfortable leaving the house.

This last Monday, Sister looked at our preparation chalkboard an saw the family night was on there and said, "Mommy, let's go to Taco Time tonight!"

I was so excited to hear her say she actually wanted to go somewhere as a family!

I jumped on that bandwagon as quickly as possible and we began to "prepare" our 3 kids for a family excursion to Taco Time.

It went so well that we were actually able to take pictures!

These are the simple moments that can bring so much joy. They were all smiles until they had hit their limit of restaurant time and we immediately took the hint and started for the van.

Truth time...

It hits me really hard sometimes that this is Our Life.

Not the good parts like going out to eat as a family or enjoying rare conversation, but the reality of what life is like having ONLY special needs children.

For whatever reason, I'm guessing Brother's age, I have been approached by people, friends or acquaintances, and they remind me of how tough it must be to know I will never experience their first date, their first Prom, their graduation, going to college, marriage, grandchildren, daughter or sons-in-law... then they pause... at least not in the way most parents experience it all.


I know.

Those are actually some of the things that hit me when we got Brother's diagnosis. All the things we wouldn't experience because neither would he.

It's tough to be positive all the time and say, "well, he might have a special friend who will take them to a dance" or "our nieces and nephews will have children and the can be like grandchildren to us."

Sometimes, it just seems like I'm humoring myself so that I don't have to mourn my reality.

Sometimes, it just seems like I am working hard to look at the positive.

I try to stay on the positive side of the street most of the time, but sometimes the mourning screams at me from across the street and I can't help, but look up to see what I'm missing.

It just hit me...

you hear so often "life is a two-way street" or "marriage is a two-way street." Well, I guess Our Life is also a 2 way street. I have 2 ways to go—making the best of our situation or mourning what I can't/don't have, but even if I am trying hard to stay on the "making the best of it" side I am still passing by that loud, annoying, and down-playing side and I can't help, but notice the passing traffic.

But I just have to keep going through on the positive side because I don't think I want to know where the other side of the highway of life takes me, but it's a good reminder to have it there so I know I am making a conscious effort to stay on the route I'm going.

Does that all make sense?

Anyway, that's the truth, I'm passed everyday by what my children could have been, what my life could have been, what Our Life could have been and it's a tough reminder and it's hard not to long for the sights on the other side of the road. I may slow down a little, maybe even contemplate flipping a U-turn but that wouldn't benefit me or my family.

Life is a highway...

yes, I thought of the song... did you?