Monday, January 2, 2012

My Mantra for 2012

(I came up with this all by myself. I'm pretty proud of it.)

Happy New Year y'all.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Memorable Christmas Lesson

Tonight for Family Home Evening, I wanted to help Nathan (and Eli) understand how we can find joy through giving to others this Christmas season. 

Derik and I knew that Eli wouldn't understand the lesson completely, so this Family Home Evening lesson was geared mainly for Nathan. 

Derik read the book Christmas Oranges.  (**Spoiler Alert!!**) Then he took some time to visit with Nate about the children sharing their oranges with Rose, and how happy it made her - but especially how happy each of those children felt after sharing what they had with Rose.  Derik then talked to Nathan about the children in our area that don't have a home, coats, clothing, or toys, and asked if he would like to share one of his toys with another little boy his age (specifically a stuffed animal).  Nate got so excited and ran to his room to retrieve a toy.

He came running back into the family room with his beloved stuffed whale, and declared that this was the toy he wanted to share.

On a side note:  Nate has always been attached to his stuffed animals.  Some are very well-loved, while others have hardly been touched.  He will cling to a particular animal for several weeks, and then move on to another. 

Derik and I explained to Nathan that this toy would not be coming home - that if he wanted to donate his stuffed whale, he certainly could, but to remember that it was a gift for another boy his age that needed a toy for Christmas.

Just then, the phone rang, and Derik answered it.  I got up and went into the kitchen.  Neither of us really noticed what transpired in those few moments where our full attention was diverted, but we both heard Nathan's door shut and a few moments after that, crying.  Derik went into Nathan's room to visit with him:

"What's wrong, Nate?"

(Tearfully, and hugging his whale tightly) "I really like my whale.  I don't want to give him away.  I will really miss him."

"You can choose another toy to give if you'd like."

So Derik helped Nathan gather all of his stuffed animals together so they could decide which animal Nathan would like to give for Christmas.  In the meantime, I came in the room to join the conversation.
We discussed the different options with the different animals and again explained how some children don't have the nice things that we have.  Some children don't have a coat to wear, or warm clothes, or even clean socks.  And how some children won't receive any toys for Christmas without help from others. 

We talked about saying a prayer to Heavenly Father asking for help in choosing a toy, and for help to make his heart feel good about his decision.  Then I asked Nathan which animal was his favorite.  He looked at me questioningly (I wonder now if he thought he had to give away his very favorite).  I asked him again to show my his very favorite animal.  He picked up the kitty and handed it to me, and I set it aside.  We went through the remaining stuffed animals in the same manner until we reached the last one.  When we got to the last toy, we asked Nathan if he would be willing to give this stuffed animal so another [little boy] could have one for Christmas (thankfully, the last toy was one that has hardly been touched). 

"But I will miss him.  It makes me sad (crying again)."

I pulled him onto my lap and gave him a hug, all the while looking over his shoulder at Derik -  and we were both thinking, "It is so hard to watch him hurt.  It would be so easy to just go to the store and choose a toy to purchase...but we've come this far.  There is a a great lesson (for all of us) by doing this..."
I told Nathan that it was okay to cry (especially because I was crying at this point too).  Daddy and I understood that this was a great sacrifice for him to make, but that he was making a good decision, and helping another child have a Merry Christmas.  We told him how this toy would make another little boy happy, and that he would be well-loved.   We talked about all the things that they would be able to do together, and reminded him about all the stuffed animals he would still have.

After a few more tears and hugs, I asked Nate if he'd like to say goodbye to his animal before we wrapped him up.  He smiled, and said he'd like that, so Derik and I left the room, but of course stood at the door that was cracked-open to listen in:

"I love you. I'm going to miss you so much (crying again).  Take really good care of that little boy.  He will be so happy to see you.  Make sure to cuddle with him, and laugh with him, and then....punch him! (Giggles to himself)  No, don't punch him.  No punching, okay? No punching.  I love you.  I will miss you (Hugs his toy).  Be good.  Okay.  Now I'm going to put you in this box so we can wrap you up.  'Bye."

Nate helped us wrap the box up, and I was amazed at how he seemed so calm and at peace with his decision.  I decided this was a melting moment that deserved a photo. I never want to forget this moment.  He looks so happy!


We said family prayers, and Nathan asked Heavenly Father to bless the children that don't have toys or clothes. Derik and I told him how proud we were of his decision.  We hugged him for about the millionth time and tucked him in bed.  He told us he wanted to sleep with all of his stuffed animals, so we put all of them on top of him and covered 'everybody' with a blanket.  He giggled and went to sleep with a smile on his face.

Derik and I talked after both boys were in bed.  As hard as it was for Nathan to make this sacrifice, it was incredibly difficult as a parent to stand by and watch him hurt so badly.  It was a good learning experience for each of us, and I know Nate is happy with his decision. 

I'm so grateful for this holiday season.  I'm so very blessed.  I have a beautiful home, a family that I love, and my Savior, Jesus Christ.  It doesn't get much better than that.
Hugs to you all, and Merry Christmas.

**Post note:  I just found out that you can't donate (even barely-used) stuffed animals (which makes sense, now that I think about it!)  And they can't be wrapped (which I figured, but it helped with Nate's closure).  Oops.  Can't go back on it now - I think it would defeat the purpose of the whole lesson.  So, we'll take it, drop it off anyway, and then I'll secretly go purchase a stuffed animal and take it to the donation center.  Happy Christmas! :)

**Post - Post Note: Today (12/12/11) I took Nate with me to Health & Welfare to deliver his toy.  I tried to explain to the case workers what we had done for FHE, and as my pathetic-self would go, I couldn't stop crying.  Nate didn't shed a tear.  He was so sweet about his donation.  Way to go, Nate! I love you and I'm so proud of you!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Summer 2011 Recap

The last six months, anyway.

For Memorial Day, we had a change of pace.  Generally all of the Clarks (my mother-in-law's family) go to the cabin in Island Park, but this year there was still a lot of snow there.  So we headed south to St. George!

The Moms watched kids while the Dads golfed in the morning.  Then we switched, and the girls got pedicures together! 

We walked into the salon, and the lady asked, "How many with your group?"  She was shocked when she realized that there were 20 of us.  We had so much fun!







Before the pedicures, and while the Dads golfed, we took the kids to Pioneer Park.  They had tons of fun cllimbing rocks and running around together.  And when you get to the top, it's a beautiful view.








 Eli turned 2 this year, and got a fun little swimming pool.  Summer didn't allow for too many hot days, so we had to be selective about when we used it.





 The Splash Park is always good fun for the boys too.  Actually, just for Nate at the time, because Eli was paranoid about water splashing on his head.  He didn't appreciate the cold water either.

 Nate, on the other hand, couldn't get enough.



 Soaking in the sun, and warmth from the sidewalk. 


 And of course, summer wouldn't be summer without fishing! Nate caught a fish on his first cast again!  This trip was especially fun, because we couldn't reel the fish in fast enough!


We also realized that summer was rapidly coming to a close, so made an impromptu trip to the hills to go camping.



 Eating powdered donuts until dinner is ready.

 S'mores!




 It's so fun to see the boys be such good friends. They had a blast.





Poor Eli.  He always has some sort of battle wound.  This particular sore is from a mosquito bite about a month previous.  He cannot stop pulling the scabs off.  It makes me crazy sometimes.

More to come!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I Love Eli Too

I was accused by my lovely sister Kelsey that if I didn't post on my blog soon, she would think that I loved Nathan the most.  This is for you, Kelso!  I hope you're having a blast in Turkey!!


Eli has had a rough year.
Well, we all have had a rough year.
Last year, Eli had 8 ear infections (some double-infections) over the course of 4 months.
So in April 2010, we had tubes put in. While the doctor was in surgery, he checked Eli's tonsils and adenoids (by my request).  He told us after surgery that Eli's adenoids covered over 80% of his airway.
I have always known that something was wrong with Eli's breathing.  Now we finally had an answer as to why.  The doctor told us not to be concerned.  I couldn't help but be bothered by his nonchalance at the less than ideal chance at breathing for our baby boy.

We attempted to have the adenoids and tonsils removed in May 2010. As they intebated,  Eli had a broncial spasm, so the anesthesiologist and doctor immediately decided against the surgery.  He then told me he'd rather not do surgery on babies younger than 18 months. (Why didn't he tell me that before!!?!!?!?!!???)

Then fall 2010 happened.
Eli was always sick.
Always.
We would take him in to discover he had yet another ear infection, the doctors would put him on an antibiotic, and he would clear up. He would also get a yeast infection from the antibiotic. Then about 3 or 4 days later, we would be back at the doctor for another visit.
Oh, it's just a double ear-infection.  Here's a prescription.  He'll be feeling better in no time. Another yeast infection.
Then Eli got Balinitis.  The bacterial kind.  The doctor said it was probably caused from too many antibiotics, causing a yeast infection, then balinitis.  So we were given a cream to help that. I finally lost count of how many office co-pays we paid from November through December.

Next came the real hell.

This picture was taken on Christmas Eve.
Eli was absolutely miserable.  We were staying with my parents for Christmas so therefore, the entire household was miserable.
My parents have a nurse in their ward.  She said it looked like impetigo.  I didn't have a clue what that even was, but I trusted her judgement.
This picture was taken 2 days later at the pediatrician's office.  Apparently, Eli didn't have an ear infection or impetigo,  but he did have a staph infection.  It was basically a cold-sore that had grown out of control.  The sores under his nose and next to his eye were becoming infected as well.  The problem we kept encountering was that Eli's nose was constantly running.  If we left it, he was a mess.  If we wiped his nose, it would open the wounds on his lips, and he would scream and be miserable all over again.

One morning I started brushing Eli's teeth.  His mouth literally filled with blood and it scared me.  We noticed these white spots on Eli's gums, and I wasn't sure if he was teething, or we were dealing with something else.  I called our dentist next.  He told me to come up right away and he'd check it out.  The giant white spots were eyeteeth coming in, but Eli also had canker sores all through his mouth, and down his throat.  He also didn't think the sores on his lip were staph infection.  It was just an overactive cold sore.

Grrrrrrr.

So we press forward.  We finish the antibiotics we're given.  Less than 1 week later, we're on another antibiotic.  The ear infections just weren't going away.
At this point, I am completely disgusted with any person on the planet that calls themselves a doctor.
I couldn't get any person in the medical field to take me seriously as a mother.

If I don't stick up for my baby, who will?

I kept getting the "you're just a paranoid mother" vibe from every.single.person.
So our ENT was technically fired.  I switched to a different doctor (in the same office). Even though I got the same vibe, I felt like he was at least somewhat listening.  I basically forced him to agree to remove Eli's adenoids and tonsils.  At this point, I knew it was more than just ear infections.  Come hell or high water, we were going to get things done.  Surgery was scheduled for 2 weeks later.

When we got to the hospital, the anesthesiologist came in to visit with us about Eli's surgery.  We explained the complications we had in May with the bronchial spasm, so he suggested we do a breathing treatment and gave him a shot (a steroid?) that would open his lungs a bit before going back to the surgical room, and that they would take extra precautions during intibation.
They took Eli back, and we waited.  The anesthesiologist came out to tell us that Eli went under very well.  They started to intibate, and decided to suction out his throat - it was covered in cruddy stuff that was blocking his airway.  Once they got all of that removed the intibation went very smoothly, and Eli was breathing fine.  The doctor came out to visit with us about the surgery and his findings about 30 minutes later.  Eli's tonsils were completely compacted with infection. His adenoids were 'huge', and he had the one of the worst ear infections that the doctor had ever seen.  They had to remove quite a bit of fluid behind the eardrum.  He told us at that point that it was a good idea that we had completed the surgery.
 (duh)
I went back to be with Eli in recovery.  The doctors and nurses told me that he probably wouldn't be up to eating or drinking much.  They were dead wrong.  He wouldn't stop drinking apple juice.  And he decided about 2 hours after the surgery that he wanted french fries.  Go figure.
Eli got out of surgery around 9:30 a.m..  We stayed at day surgery until around 1 p.m..  Eli's breathing was silent.  I was almost scared that I couldn't hear him breathing.  He had always breathed like Darth Vader, so the silence was a bit unnerving.  We went home, and Eli took a nap.  He wasn't as groggy as we thought he'd be, and he just wanted to be held.  People had told me to "expect 7-10 days of hell".  
(My mom had Nathan for the week so we could focus on Eli's recovery.)

Then the strangest thing happened.  Derik and I were watching a movie with Eli.  He was content to just be held.  At 9:30 p.m., it was like we flipped a switch.  He climbed off my lap and went and jumped on Derik.  He started wrestling with his dad, and was actually laughing.  Laughing!!  He was jumping on the couch, and running around the room.  Derik and I just looked at each other in awe.  Was this our child, just 12 hours after surgery?  He was only on pain medication for about 4 or 5 days.  He acted like nothing had happened.  The only change we noticed was that before, Eli could eat Nathan under the table.  Now, he isn't so excited for food.  He will hardly touch foods that he loved before.  We guess it's to the fact that now he can actually taste what he is eating.  No blocked nose means no taste.  Open nose, tons of taste!  It's like he's a new baby learning textures and flavors all over again.

We thought that all was well.  Eli was well for about 3 weeks, and then we started to see a decline.
More ear infections.  More antibiotics.  Wait 3-4 days, and another decline.  Another antibiotic. Well, that Rx didn't work, let's try antibiotic shots.  Three of them. 
Talk about a yeast infection.  Yikes.

I was stressed about all the antibiotics.  I was killing all of the good bacteria that Eli needed to fight infection in the first place, and his body was becoming resistant to antibiotics.
So, I switched ENT's again.

This new ENT didn't really tell us anything new, but he listened.  He didn't give me the "you're over-reacting" vibe.  He told us he wanted to start small and work our way up.
And then he said what I needed to hear: "We need to quit with oral antibiotics. They're obviously not working. We need to go directly to the source."
So we started with antibiotic drops directly in the ears.
The nose has stopped running.
Eli's eyes are clear and bright.  He is full of energy.
He is a full-fledged boy, tearing my house apart.

We are on day 6 of being off the antibiotic drops, and so far we haven't "slid backwards" yet.
Hopefully we'll continue to move forward and get him better!

Master Bedroom Redo

It's been a long winter.
Very long.
I love love love having 4 seasons in the year, but I despise looooooong winters.

I needed something. 
Anything. 
And since I couldn't change the weather outside, Derik said I could change the inside! 

I decided to start with our bedroom.

Our entire house (ceilings included) was painted the exact same color of beige/tan/cream/whatever-you-call-it.  With our white mouldings, it doesn't look terrible.  But we've been here almost 5 years now, and I'm a bit tired of it.
Here are the before pictures (along with messy bedroom-ness):
I decided on a yellow/gray/cream/white motif.  I found a killer deal at Overstock on a yellow quilt and shams, so the yellow part was all taken care of.  Now to choose the gray walls.  It was much harder than I thought it would be.  I wanted soothing and calm, not dark and cave-like.  But all the samples of light gray looked boring and white.  Every time I tried one on the wall, it looked almost platinum white.  Ugh.  So I tried darker...double-ugh.  This last sample looked like I had plastered concrete on the wall.  Flat, dull, boring, and just plain cold!  I wanted this to be my special retreat.  This would never do!  See that color at the very top of the samples - the one that looks lavender?  It was my first sample, and actually ended up being my overall color.
  I hated it. 
 If you know anything about me, you know I hate, loathe, despise anything having to do with the color purple. 
And lavender is even worse.
So here it is at the very beginning stages of painting.  I was so nervous.  But Derik encouraged me to forge ahead.  He reminded me that we had to add the new quilt, lamps, and fabulous white (yes, white!) TV  to the wall.  (Derik did the electrical for this...he's awesome!)
I had fully anticipated this to be a me-only project, but the day our TV came, Derik was suddenly ready to help complete the task! Yay! Nate wanted to play an active part as well. :)  We had to work on this when Eli was asleep each night.

On a side note: I have never, ever done anything like this since Derik and I were married.  I have always wanted to, but could never decide on a color-scheme. 
I love clean & simple. 
Less is so so so much more to me.  So when I would look at comforters and quilts, it would be such a turn off, and I would give up on even trying to come up with something.  (That's almost 11 years of ugly bedroom-ness folks! Eleven years, of, "Oh, I guess this comforter will work for now.")  This blue striped comforter has been on our bed for the last 7 years.
Yikes.

Derik and I painted the first coat of the entire bedroom the first night, and finished around 11 p.m.  I was pretty disgusted with all the lavender, so Derik suggested I paint the bathroom yellow (I think to help compensate for my disappointment).  Now I went to work on yellow samples, and I found what I thought was the perfect yellow.

In the meantime, Derik and Nate went to St. George to spend time with his parents for the rest of teh week.  I decided to stay behind with Eli and finish our Master Retreat.

I painted the bathroom yellow. 
Both coats in one night. 
I finished at 2 a.m.
I hated it even worse than the gray/lavender.

I wanted to cry.

So I called Derik the next morning and told him my sob story.  I also told him I wanted it to just be the same color as the bedroom.  He laughed and said to go for it.
So that night, I painted 2 coats in the bathroom.
Again, I finished at 2 a.m.

I put the yellow quilt on the bed.
And suddenly, I was in love.
It didn't look lavender anymore.
It was gray.
Calm, serene, peaceful.
Hooray!

Now I needed to apply the finishing touches.
Lamps, sheets, towels, shower curtain, bath mats.

I found everything I needed at Target, and got all the "accessories" for under $120. Yay!

Here's the after:


I even painted our ceiling fan blades to match the shade of gray used on our ceiling.  They were black before, and I felt like our bed was enough black in the room. (I love our bed so much more now - I was starting to get tired of it.)  Don't you love our white TV?  I decided to omit bathroom pictures, because although it is amazing, it is after all a bathroom, and bathrooms (at our house) never stay clean.

Now I am obsessed with making pillows.  I have ideas in the works for this gray/lace-looking fabric.  I also want to make a simple gray and yellow gathered pillow.
For now, these are the first pillows I made.  I didn't even use a pattern either - I decided to "wing it!"  Not too bad, if I say so myself.    
I absolutely love this gray! If you're wondering, it's from Ace Hardware's color: Cavalier on the walls, and Venetia on the ceilings.
Absolute perfection.
I could spend the rest of my life in here.

I still need to figure out what to do with the ugliness that is our dressers.  They were freebies from when we lived in Phoenix over 7 years ago.  And ugly doesn't begin to describe them.  I also need to paint our nightstands black to match the bed, and everything will be awesome!

For our bathroom, I decided to omit yellow.  We have white towels, white showercurtain, and white floor mats.  It feels so clean (even when it isn't), and I love it!