Monday, November 30, 2015

Working hard...

Every day that I go to visit my dad, I just am in awe of the progress he is making and how hard he is working.  I see moments of total frustration when he tries to do what he thinks he should be able to but is not quite there.  I see him shake his head no and put his lips together and kind of frown when he is asked to do anything with his right side.  He knows it isn't working, but we aren't giving up on it.  I see that look in his eyes of accomplishment when he speaks or does his therapy exercises and everybody is so proud of him.  He knows we are proud and you can see his eyes light up.  He loves making us happy.  His days are filled with doctors and nurses, respiratory, occupational, physical and speech therapists.  I was there today during occupational and speech therapy.  They were pleasantly surprised when they heard him sing!  I love that these therapist get just as happy about his progress as we do.  Today the occupational therapist actually gave him an exercise that Seth and Ivan could help with.  These boys have been with us every step of the way so far.  We are always there for family, no matter what.  I want them to learn just how important it is to be there for your family.  When we left today Seth said he thought it was great that he could help grandpa with his exercises to get better!  That made my heart happy.  In the picture below Seth is throwing a makeshift balloon and my dad moves his hands like he is hitting it back to him!  
 Speech therapy was great - hearing him practice vowel sounds, say "more" for ice chips and sing happy birthday was amazing!  Some things he didn't recognize or would try to talk but we couldn't make out what he was saying.  When they gave him a toothbrush he wasn't sure what to do with it.  When they gave him a mirror he looked at the scar on his head.  When they gave him a ball, he wouldn't give it back!  Brushing your teeth can be relearned.  I am just grateful that he remembers all of us. I love how my mom has stood beside him every step of the way, celebrating with him, encouraging him, and loving him unconditionally.  I have the best parents in the world.  I love my dad so much.  I love my mom so much.  They are both fighters!

p.s.  I did get a video of dad singing Happy Birthday today that I am in the process of uploading...stay tuned because you won't want to miss it!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

"and many more"

If you have heard a loved one speak today, stop right now and thank God!
It is amazing to me just how much I take for granted.  I have a new appreciation for a lot of things in life, and for that I have my dad to thank! Today I talked to my brother and sisters and grandparents about all of us meeting on the 5th floor at Mayo Hospital to celebrate mom's birthday.  Usually the weekend before one of our birthdays we always get together for a family dinner. This would be the Sunday that we would get together to celebrate mom's birthday this coming Tuesday. We wanted to include dad in celebrating mom so we went and picked up a little cake and all sang happy birthday to mom.  I kept an eye on dad, I think he was trying to sing along, but at the end of the song he said, "and many more."  We all looked at him and said "yes, and many more!"  There were even a few tears that fell out of pure joy to hear his voice, something we didn't think we would hear again. I heard him speak yesterday but it was very soft and you really had to be paying attention. Today he projected his voice, we all heard it, and that is something that he would always add to the end of the Happy Birthday song during times we would celebrate as a family.  He also doubled his steps today - 8 steps today, he took 4 yesterday.  And I just talked to my mom and she told me that he was being rather stubborn and unplugging monitors.  I think he is just so ready to go home!  One of my mom and dads friends, people who have been part of our life for a long time, always there for each other even if they go for a while without talking, anyways, they have been checking on my mom and I love this picture from this morning....I love the love that this picture displays.
  You can also see how the swelling has gone down on my dads head where he had to have a piece of his skull removed, this picture shows how much was removed.  The doctor who did that surgery came by today and was very happy with how he was healing and actually said he might not have to go as long without it as they originally thought.  My dad is incredible. My dad is a fighter.  

I love my dad so much!

*edit* Just heard a great story from my mom that I wanted to add to this day - they have my dads left hand restrained because he kept messing with the incision on his head and they don't want him touching it because of the risk of infection.  He has 46 staples currently.  He does not like having his hand restrained.  He kept asking my mom to untie his hand and she kept telling him it needed to stay how it was so he could heal, he got a bit of an attitude and turned away from her.  This made her sad so she walked around to the other side of the bed and asked him if he was mad, to which he shook his head yes and rolled his yes.  When the nurses came in they let his hand lose while the nurses were tending to him before my mom came home.  As soon as his wrist was released he grabbed the strap and put it under his right arm and then put a pillow over both hands and his head on top the pillow. He found this rather amusing. And less than 2 minutes after having his hand free he put it on top of his head and looked at my mom and the nurse.  He knew what he was doing! This kind of stubbornness will be good once he gets into rehab and can channel it into learning how to take care of himself. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

One week...

What have you done this week?
Fought for you life? 
 Stood watch while somebody else fought for theirs?
Felt powerless?
Felt convicted?
Felt loved?
Felt supported?
Helped somebody in need?
Felt happy?
Felt sad?
Felt angry?
Felt blessed?

Exactly one week ago is when this new journey began for my dad and my family.  And while none of us can wrap our head around why it happened, especially to him - we have each rediscovered how much we have to be grateful for.  Everyday, every little thing.   Today's visit to check on dad was a very encouraging one.  I came home and was able to rest and feel some of the tension leave me. Part of me wanted to wake up this morning and have everything be back to normal, as if this past week was just a nightmare and it was finally over.  I am grateful, instead, for the progress that we saw today!  My dad was awake and alert just about the entire time we were there this morning.  He was winking and smiling when we would talk to him.  That was so good to see.  I brought a little white board and dry erase markers to just see what he would do with them - when mom handed him the board, it was upside down so he turned it around so it would be right side up.  Then he gave her the cross he has been holding since yesterday and took the marker. 

 He tried to write but he is not left handed.  Mom started writing some things and you could tell that he understood.  And then, he spoke! As she was writing names he actually said "Ivan" when she wrote his name on the board.  Then my mom looked at him and said "I love you" and he looked back at her and said "I love you."  I don't need to tell you that made her day!  She looked back at him and said, "you are going to talk again aren't you?" To which he nodded his head and you could just see how happy he was. She didn't think she would ever hear him say those words again.  Doctors were not very hopeful that he would understand or comprehend much or that he would talk, due to the large amount of his brain affected by the stroke.  I was with her when one doctor told her that he was treating a man similar to my dads situation, who one year later, is just able to say a few words.  They didn't think my dad would talk, and just ONE WEEK after all this started, he spoke!  As I have said before, they don't know my dad.   I heard that after we left the physical therapist came in he took three steps and stood up four times! Isn't that amazing!  I am so proud of my dad. I love my dad so much.

"Pain and suffering is not garbage when God uses it to show Himself through it." Randy Alcorn

Friday, November 27, 2015

Oh what a day....

Some days just seem harder than others.  Today was an anxiety filled kind of day.  A lot of things could be contributing to it but I started reading about strokes this morning.  I probably should not have spent so much time, on the Internet reading about strokes.  I can't get over how much alike me and my dad are - same heal problem, joint issues, and mental health concerns.  It is terrifying to me to think about what the future holds, but my husband keeps telling me one day at a time, don't worry about all that.  Seeing dad this afternoon was good for me, he has the nose tube out and looks a little more like himself.  My Seth woke up at 6:30 this morning and one of his first questions was, "When are we going to the hospital to check on Grandpa."  It has been so sweet to see their love for him, I'm grateful that they are learning that you have to be there for your family, no matter what!  Also on a side note, my Seth does not like elevators at all, but he has overcome and bravely gotten into the elevator everyday for the past seven days, and sometimes he has done so multiple times a day!  That is huge for this guy of mine!  Ok, anyways, back on track....asked Dad to smile for the camera today - was pleasantly surprised when he did - its a beautiful thing to me!  The next picture is what he has been holding on to, he is currently not able to lift his arm because of concerns with his scar on his head becoming infected, but he did have a firm grip on this little cross that my sister had given him.  Every day that I see him alert, is a good day!  He also had to have a feeding tube put in and is running a low grade fever, but he will overcome this!  I have no doubt.  My dad is a fighter. 

The later part of the day proved to be a bit more difficult.  It was as if a 24 year chapter of ones life was coming to a close.  While my dad hasn't worked for a while due to some other struggles, the reality really hit when we were moving his toolbox tonight.  He has worked at Sears for so long, I remember growing up we would always go in at the auto center entrance, with the hope of seeing dad!  We would look through the window and watch where he worked on cars.  We looked through that same window tonight, but we didn't see him working on cars, we watched as his toolbox was disassembled and loaded up to go home.  My heart broke for my mom.  I am glad that her sister was there for her  My husband said my dads toolbox had been there for so long that when you pulled it away from the wall, you could still see the outline of it. His toolbox had a lot of our pictures on it.  It was like a walk down memory lane.  In the lobby, by the window where we always watched him was something he signed - nice to see his name. When we came home the guys had to take the drawers out of the toolbox, because this was close to 30 years worth of tools.

As the guys took all the drawers out of the toolbox, to lighten it enough to lift out of the truck, we kept an eye on the boys to see where they were and what they were doing.  Looked around and saw that they were playing in Grandpa's toolbox.  Ivan sat and looked through this one drawer, Seth was looking at the stuff from a distance, but Ivan was definitely interested.  I look forward to the day that Ivan and my dad are looking through this stuff together.

 I love my dad so much.  I love my mom so much.  They are both fighters.  
We will get through this together!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving - the expression of gratitude, especially to God. 
Thanksgiving - a public acknowledgement or celebration of divine goodness.

The phrase, "life can change in the blink of an eye," just doesn't seem to adequately express the magnitude of what that feels like to live through.  Five days ago my father had a major stroke.  Three days ago he had a large portion of his skull removed to relieve pressure from swelling in his brain.  Last night we were told he has a blood clot that can not currently be treated because of some bleeding on his brain.  Thanksgiving day mom would prepare a big thanks giving dinner. We would all meet at mom and dads, grandma and pop would come over, we would all sit at the dining room table and take time going around the table and saying what we are thankful for.  This Thanksgiving was very different.  We still went to mom and dad, but this year it wasn't at the home we all grew up in, but rather at the Hospital.  We stand beside each other, no matter what, no matter where we are in life!  We gathered around them both, and lifted them in prayer and thanksgiving. I really have a lot to be thankful for, I do every year, but this year the list seems longer as I realize just how much I take for granted.  

I am grateful that God has a plan.
I am grateful that my dad is still alive.
I am grateful that my mom is still alive.
I am grateful that my mom is so strong.
I am grateful that my family is so close. 
 I am grateful that Mayo Hospital is so close to where we live.  
I am grateful for the doctors and nurses that have saved my dads life. 
I am grateful for my grandparents.  
I am grateful for my supportive husband.
I am grateful for my compassionate boys.  
I am grateful for my sisters and my brother.
I am grateful for our ability to relate to one another.
I am grateful we are able to take care of my mom.   
I am grateful for my aunts and uncles.
I am grateful for my cousins.
I am grateful for the friends who have kept checking on me.
I am grateful for the people that have showed up to support my mom.
I am grateful for all the people who are praying for my dad.
I am grateful for medical technology.
I am grateful for Neuroscience Research.
I am grateful that I can move my arms and legs.
I am grateful that I can verbally communicate.
I am grateful that I can see out of both eyes.
I am grateful that my brain is not delayed in receiving information.
I am grateful that my organs are working properly. 
I am grateful that I can stand up.
I am grateful that I can walk.
I am grateful that I can convey my needs.
I am grateful that I can swallow my food.

I am grateful that my dad is still alive.
I am grateful my dad is a fighter. 
I am grateful that he can open his eyes.
I am grateful that he is trying to use his left arm to move his right arm.
I am grateful that he knows who we are.
I am grateful that he can squeeze my hand.
I am grateful for the nods he gives me when I talk.
I am grateful that my dad is still alive.

When we went to see him this afternoon, he was definitely wanting to get up and move and kept trying to get out of the chair they had him sitting in and kept trying to take the helmet off.  He is so strong, at one point it took 4 of us to keep his hand down as he tried to remove the helmet because of how persistent he was in removing it and how strong he is. Mom showed him how to change the channels using the remote, and he was able to do that on his own....then when anybody tried to take the remote from him he would pull it back towards himself and not let anybody take it!  Some things never change....he always had to have the 'power' at home - the remote control!

I felt a little more encouraged after seeing him today.  I know we have a long road ahead but I know he still has that fight in him.  I know he is frustrated with how things are.  I know he is stuck with us!  I love my dad!

1 Thessalonians 5:18 ...give thanks in all circumstances, this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus...
While this is incredibly hard to do sometimes, I have to believe there is a purpose in this pain, otherwise I would not have any hope.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

My heart is heavy tonight....

As I sat in the ICU Waiting room, I wondered how many tears had fallen in this place.  How many lives had been shattered by the news the surgeons brought to you while you sat in this room.  Chairs all out of order, tables moved, old newspapers, games, puzzles without pictures. Empty Kleenex boxes. That is how much time you have when you wait in a room like this, you can put a puzzle together that doesn't even have a picture to go off of. Today has been hard. We started the day off bringing mom some breakfast and checking on dad.  They brought his helmet in and they were moving him to the chair to sit for a while.  We hung out for a little bit with mom and talked to dad as he drifted in and out of sleep. The swelling in his face had gone down considerably from yesterday.  Seth was very intrigued by all the monitors and wanted to know exactly what each number meant, each symbol, each line, and also wanted to know what all the wires and cords attached to him were for.  After my mom answered as many questions as she could, Seth then talked to the nurse about the others. He is very much about the details, and needing to know exactly how everything works and why it is needed.  They were very well behaved while we were there this morning.  We continued our day - running errands, cutting great grandpas hair, playing miniature golf and then ended up back at the hospital.  I kind of hold my breath when I walk past the waiting room - to see if the family is there or in dads room, that is a pretty good indication of how things are going.  Tonight they were all in the waiting room. We sat, sometimes you don't need words to know that it just isn't good.  As we sat, one of my moms friends showed up with a smoked turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, sweet potato casserole, rolls and tea and lemonade - the ICU Waiting room was transformed and we enjoyed a nice dinner, even invited others to enjoy the dinner who were in there, waiting for a word about their loved ones.  It is interesting how suffering can bring you closer to others, strangers.  One lady sat down to eat with us and told us about her husband who was flown in from another state and suffered a brain aneurysm.  The stories people tell on this floor are just hard to hear, and my heart breaks a little bit for each of them. I am grateful for the generosity of people we don't even know, who reached out because of love in their heart to help us on this journey. Their timing was perfect tonight. I love this picture of my dad and my sister, I know that he will keep fighting because he loves us, and I know we will keep believing in him because we love him!  He has always beaten the odds, and nothing has ever been easy for him, but its never stopped him before.  I love my dad.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Setbacks pave the way for Comebacks!

After taking the boys to school, I went and picked up some coffee and a bagel for my mom.  I walked into the all too familiar 4A South wing of Mayo Clinic's Intensive Care Unit.  I never really know what to expect - I walk down the hallways and can't help but look into the rooms as I pass, wondering what these people have been through, what is their story?  My dad's room is all the way at the end of hallway. Every time I walk in I always see my mom, faithfully standing beside him. I was coming to check on him this morning and sit with him while my mom went to get a shower.  Yesterday he had the surgery to remove the bone from his head, he will have quite the scar from that surgery.  It goes from the middle of his head all the way around to just above his ear. My mom said that before all the swelling came from the surgery she could see his brain kinda of pulsating below the skin of his head. While I was sitting with him he woke a few times and lifted his head like he was looking for my mom, I told him that she was taking a shower and would be back soon, and in no time flat he was back to snoring again.  He didn't seem as alert this morning, but with all that his body has been through in the past three days, I'm sure he needs a lot of rest.  At one point he was moving his feet and lifting his head up to look at his feet and I asked him if he wanted to go driving and he nodded his head yes.  I played Elton John's Philadelphia Freedom for him.  He had that song on a cassette and would play it at 6:30 in the morning when he was driving me to high school...I could not stand that song back then....but today it didn't seem so bad! I remember calling my dad, just about daily asking how his brother was doing and one thing I remember him saying, that seems to help now, is the nurses talking about being in ICU and sometimes there are setbacks, but they are to be expected. My dad had a minor setback, but I still believe that he will push through.  Setbacks pave the way for comebacks.  The proof is, once again, in the pictures -- just before I was getting ready to leave the nurse came in and was asking him the hourly questions, "Vaughn, can you lift your left leg? good, now hold it.  What about this right one?  Vaughn can you lift your left arm, good. Can you squeeze my hand? good. What about your right hand, can you wiggle your fingers?"  Then she took his hand out of the mitten it is in to prevent him from pulling the tube out of his nose, and then, right before my very eyes I saw him use his left arm to hold up his right arm. I told him that I was proud of him, something that he never hesitated to tell me. And all this was less than 24 hours of him having a portion of his skull removed to relieve pressure from swelling in his brain.  My dad is amazing.  My dad is a fighter.  I love my dad so much.

Monday, November 23, 2015

I am proud of my....

I am proud of my mom! She is an incredibly strong person. She keeps that front on for all of us.  I have seen my parents stand beside each other no matter what.  I watched as she stood by his bed this morning and fed him pureed eggs and coffee that had been thickened with honey.  I saw the tenderness in her touch as she rubbed his head and held his hand.  I saw the love in her tears. I saw the frantic look in my dads eyes when he couldn't see her.  I watched my dad do things that the physical therapist and occupational therapist told him to do, but only after my mom repeated what they said.  I watched the joy just overflow in my mom when we watched my dad starring at his feet as he was moving his right foot up and down as if he was pushing a gas pedal.  I watched her heart sink when the team of doctors came in and told her that the swelling had continued in his brain and that they would need to cut a portion of his skull out to relieve the pressure, to relieve the life threatening pressure.  Almost 48 hours after getting out of an extensive surgery after the stroke, he had to go in for more surgery.  The portion of his skull that was removed was placed in a deep freeze and will be returned in a few months. It is our hope that this surgery help with the swelling on the brain.  It was a real whirlwind of a morning - to see progress, but also see him more sleepy and less responsive and almost as soon as we saw him move that right foot, and our hearts were filled with hope - then the results of the cat scan felt like a setback.  I've heard it said that setbacks pave the way for comebacks.  For today I am reflecting on the morning and seeing the occupational therapist hand him a wash cloth and tell him to wash his face, and he was able to do that.  And listening to the physical therapist tell him they were going to work on standing up and how eager my dad was to do that and how they had to keep telling him to wait.  Each of my boys had their moments today, when Ivan and I came home before getting Seth he told me I needed to hold him and that he was sad and crying because of grandpa.  I told him that it was ok to feel sad but that grandpa will be ok.  Then on the way home tonight Seth said he had a question and then said oh never mind.  I asked him if he was sad about grandpa, he said he was sad because he didn't get to see grandpa wave to him before school this morning.  Usually when my mom would pick up Seth for school in the morning my dad would stand down at their house in the driveway and wave to the boys.  I told Seth that it was ok to feel sad and that grandpa would be ok, I'm sure he will wave to him again one day.  I am just so incredibly proud of my mom. I love my mom.

 My dad standing up - with a little help but look at who he is focused on - my mom!  And there is also a picture of him washing his face with the wet wash clothe.  This is the hope I will hold on to for today.  I remain incredibly grateful for those who have sent text messages and called to check on me and my dad.  Those who I thought would stand beside me no matter what have gone missing in action, but yet I have found who I can count on when times are tough.  Thanking God for those people who hold us up with their words and thoughts when we are struggling to keep on.  

Sunday, November 22, 2015

My Dad Gives Me Hope

We take so much for granted.  The strength to lift our arms, open our mouths, give a thumbs up, receive information and respond, smile, stick our tongue out.  Sometimes bad things happen and I hear people blame God for allowing that to happen or not preventing it from happening, but ever thank God for those things you miss before they are taken?  Does a diabetic thank God for their pancreas working properly before they become insulin dependent?  Do we thank God for the way our body works everyday or do we just complain when it fails us?  These are all rhetorical questions just meant to be pondered.  I know I have a whole new appreciation for the ability to adjust myself in a chair, sit up, stand up, verbally communicate, move my head, move my arms, move my legs.  But would my deep appreciation for these things be there if I hadn't seen what my dad is going through? I was a bit apprehensive about seeing him today, when we left last night he couldn't even open his right eye.  I was grateful that he made it through surgery but I guess the reality of it all really hit me hard after I saw him.  I wanted to go this morning but I was afraid of my reaction and how he would be and not wanting to be upset in front of him.  We had some breakfast, packed some stuff for the boys and headed out to see him.  When I got there, I was pleasantly surprised!  He was sitting in a chair, he had both eyes open, he was moving his head, he would wave.  He picked up a Kleenex and used it to wipe his eye. He nodded his head no when asked if I was Vanessa, he nodded his head yes when asked if I was Rachel.  One of his neurosurgeons came in and asked him to say hi, you could see that he was trying but no sound was coming out.  He was asked to smile and show his teeth, and he did that!  A few times while we were there he pushed the recliner foot stool down and was moving forward like he was trying to get out of the chair.  We had to buzz the nurse because he was persistent.  All of this was very encouraging for me to see.  He has always been like a dog with a bone, when he gets his mind made up - watch out world!  (We are a lot alike in this regard)  There is no doubt in my mind that once he gets through these next few weeks and gets started in rehab, his persistent, determined spirit - and all of us around him - will keep him going.  I know he will over come this.  My dad gives me hope.  The proof is in these pictures - less than 24 hours after an extensive 5 hours surgery, less than 24 hours after suffering from a stroke, he is sitting up and trying to get up out of the chair.  My dad is strong!  My dad gives me hope.  I love my dad so much!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

My Dad is a Fighter!

Life can change in an instant. 
Thursday I was talking to my dad and he was joking about me being the best neighborhood watch because I noticed a window on one of their vehicles that looked like it was down so I called to make sure that somebody hadn't broken it.  He thanked me for looking out for him.  I asked him what he had going on for the day.  Who would have ever thought that two days later he would have a stroke. I am grateful that my mom was home this morning and heard him fall and called 911.  I am grateful that Memorial Hospital gave him the medication to slow the stroke.  I am grateful they called Mayo Clinic and got him transferred.  I am grateful for my family. By the time we all got there, they already had a cat scan done and had him prepped for surgery. Before beginning the surgery and talking with my mom the doctor said that he had been around long enough to know that he wasn't the one in charge and would pray before surgery. It was a long five hours, waiting for a word from the doctor about how he was doing.  The blockage was worse than they had anticipated.  He has a long road ahead of him, but I've seen my dad fight back from the grips of mental illness, and being one who struggles, and knowing how hard that is to battle, yet my dad has....I know he can get through this.  I love my dad and its hard to see him like he is right now, but I am grateful that he is still with us.  Sometimes life feels so fleeting.  When tough stuff like this happens, there is always something good to come from it.  The outpouring of support for me and my family was eye opening.  Gave me hope that there are still people in the world who care.  Catching glimpses of my son comforting his grandma was also sweet to see.  I want my boys to know the importance of being there for others. I am grateful for the people who showed up today.  There was really nothing anybody could do aside from pray....and be there.  This world we live in seems to think that we have to "do" for people when they are going through difficulties and challenges but sometimes I think you just need to 'be' for those who are there.  I saw that today, and felt the love of those who were there - some in person, some via text messages, some via facebook messages, some via phone calls.  Those who have reached out to me to show their love and support really mean a lot to me.  The doctor did seem a little surprised when he came into the waiting room after the surgery and saw so many people there for my dad. I will say we did take up the majority of the space in the waiting room.  Before we left, we were able to go see my dad, and honestly that is when it hit me the hardest.  In my minds eye I wanted to think he would go through surgery and be up and talking tonight.  I know that was unrealistic, seeing him just sorta opened the flood gates for me.  He did open his eye and squeeze my hand when I told him I would be sure to pick up his lotto ticket that he usually gets every Saturday. I've been pretty upset since seeing him, I know he is a fighter, I know he will push through because that is what he does. I've been listening to messages he had left me, and for some odd reason - I save some peoples messages...  But it's hard, and I'm sad and I'm scared and I'm worried.  As we were leaving my sister came out as I was talking to my brother and gave me a hug and the next thing I knew we were embraced in a 'sibling hug' among the four of us as we stood outside the doors of the ICU Waiting Room, and you know that is exactly what dad would have wanted.  He always told us, and showed us with his actions, that no matter what you have to be there for your family. As my mom said, "He is sleeping comfortably, we are praying faithfully and we are believing wholeheartedly that he will heal."   I love my dad so much, and my heart feels so heavy tonight.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Happy Birthday Vaughn!

I can't believe that my baby brother turned 21 today!  We surprised him by meeting at Daruma for dinner tonight.  I am so happy that he is my brother.  He is one of the most caring, considerate, compassionate, kind hearted people that I have ever met.  We both think a lot alike, its nice to have somebody who really gets my train wreck of a thought pattern....I mean my train of thought!  I am so glad that my boys have him as a positive role model in their life.  I dug through a bunch of pictures and made a little video slide show of him through the years...

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Very rarely will I turn and look at the people driving other cars when I am driving.  Something about not wanting people to look at me so I won't look at them.  And what if I turn to look at them and they are looking at me?!?!  I suppose none of that should matter.  Anyways, leaving Toys R Us yesterday Dennis said, "wow she is actually eating something that requires a fork while driving."  Now I admit I am guilty of eating while driving, but something like a cracker or a granola bar and I have even been known to take a drink while driving - usually from a straw though.  Not trying to justify eating while driving, because I suppose it still diverts attention.....but I gotta say this girl took it to a whole other level.  She was eating something that required a fork and spoon while driving, and while holding the bowl of food she took a drink, all while driving.  She then put down her drink and picked up her phone while still holding the bowl of food and fork....and driving down the road.  I guess multi tasking is a good thing, just not while driving down the road....
And just in case you wondering about how safe it might be to take this picture while driving, I was the passenger!

Friday, November 13, 2015

"Officer Ivan"

This week Ivan was learning about safety helpers at school.  He enjoyed seeing the fire truck come to school, he did not like the loud noise.  They were all so eager to get out there to see that fire truck, but as soon as those sirens were on, they all took a step back....funny how we can be so excited to go check something out but then go into sensory overload and not enjoy it as much as we thought we would....I guess that is a good life lesson. Be cautious! A lot of his classmates have been out sick this week.  Today they were pretending to be police officers and fire fighters....when I went to pick Ivan up he had his badge on!  I turned it over and looked at the picture....before I could say anything he said, "I am officer Ivan.  This is the face I make when I call 9-9-1 no 9-1-1."  He proceeded to make the face in real life for me to see too! Every time he looks at his badge he starts laughing!  It is such a sweet sound.  No sensory overload when it comes to hearing his sweet laughter.  When Seth saw his badge he asked, "Did an emergency come up when they were taking your picture?"  I love both of them so much....this "Officer Ivan" badge will be one for the memory books.  I am so glad that he is so ok being different! 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Fight Back With Joy

I have been reading a lot lately, a desperate attempt to keep my over active brain busy.  And of course, I am not a fan of 'light reading,'  I need thought provoking, deep books that inspire profound if I need any help with increasing my thoughts!  

Anyways, some of the quotes I wrote down or highlighted, were worth sharing.  It is amazing to me how I have completely read two books in the past week and a half and have been working on this other book for about a month.  I read Fight Back With Joy by Margaret Feinberg and I read Safe People by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.  My husband and I are in the process of reading If God Is Good by Randy Alcorn.  That one will take a while to complete as I am only able to read a few pages at a time, and in most cases a whole flood gate of thoughts and questions flow from those few pages each night.  What I find fascinating is how all of these books seem to be providing similar messages but yet they are all so different.  

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Leo's Love

I am giving you fair warning, these thoughts might seem kind of like they are out in left field.  I don't even know that my thoughts are fully developed or if my words will be adequate to describe how Leo, once again, touched some depth of my soul.  I usually go see Leo on Monday but last Monday I had plans and I wasn't sure if I would be able to make it out to see him at all, but Wednesday worked out and I really enjoyed our time together.  It was like a mid week 'pick me up'!  I love how this horse loves me.  I love that he likes when I am around.  The peace and calm is amazing and gives me hope.  But on this particular day it was like I was seeing an analogy for God's love for us in the way this horse was loving me.  While I was sitting there brushing Leo sometimes he would like turn and put his face just about in my face, like he was trying really hard to get my attention.  Other times it wasn't as subtle, it was a nudge on the arm. So long as I was with him, he never stayed away from me for long.  He was always watching me, if I moved somewhere else he would follow me, as if to just check on me, make sure I was ok and still there, and remind me that he was watching me. And then it was time for me to leave, I told him good bye and that I would see him next time, he let out a horse cry but I figured letting him free to graze in the field would be the end of his thoughts of me.  I hung out and was petting him while he was eating and then I left.  As I walked towards the gate to leave he looked up from where he was and came running towards me.  I didn't think he would even notice that I had left. I got in the car and he sat at the gate crying.  I backed the car up and drove down the driveway and he followed me along the fence line.  I turned onto the road to head home and he followed me as far as he could until I was out of his reach.  He would occasionally let out a horse cry as he saw me get further and further away. 

And then it hit me....we can be doing one thing, and then something will happen to show us or remind us of Gods love and it will feel like it is right in out face.  Other times it might not be as subtle but is still there.  As long as we are with God, he doesn't leave us for long.  God is always watching us, he sees where we go, even before we go there.  He is with us every step of the way.  And should you ever stray from him, he won't give up.  He will follow us.  I suppose if we walk away from God it makes him sad.  He notices what we are doing and where we are going.  He sees us, he hears us, even when we think he is occupied with somebody or something else. Leo gave me a different perspective of God's love for us, and how he must feel to see us walk away from that love.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Think, Act, Be Like Jesus

Think, Act, Be Like Jesus 

Written By: Randy Frazee
Illustrated By: Steve Adams


Written for children 6-10, the Think, Act, Be Like Jesus; A Believe Devotional for Kids is part of the national church-wide program led by bestselling author Randy Frazee that shows children how they can think, act, and be more like Jesus, with 90 devotions from the Old and New Testament.
They know the story of the Bible, but do they know what it means?
This 90-Day devotional, written by Oak Hills Church pastor Randy Frazee, is part of the church-wide, ground-breaking Believe campaign and encourages children to follow the footsteps of Jesus. Think, Act, Be Like Jesus; A Believe Devotional for Kids shares the message that the more you believe, the more Jesus can change you from the inside out to become the best person you can be.
As children ages 6-10 walk through 90 devotions from the Old and New Testament—they’ll complete a journey that will take them closer to the heart of Jesus and deeper into the words of Scripture. They’ll learn what the Bible has to say about everything from the nature of God and the identity of Jesus, to prayer, worship, and the fruit of the Spirit. Foundational and faith-building, this book can be used by individuals or in conjunction with the all-church campaign.
My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed reading through this devotional.  It is great for children at the Elementary level.  There were even devotions that I enjoyed as an adult.  It would definitely lend itself to a good bed time devotional that the entire family would benefit from. I enjoyed the fact that it lends itself to further discussion with each reading. I read through a few of them with my five year old and he was engaged and responding to the questions. I would highly recommend this book. It would also make a great gift. I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher, through BookLook Bloggers.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The two most incredible children....

Proud mom moment!!!  I love my boys.  Ivan has had almost an entire week of outstanding behavior and good choices!  He was usually on green, which means ready to learn.  He is so proud of himself, and so are we!  And Seth - wow - he brought home his first report card of third grade - with straight A's! I still can't believe that he is already in third grade!  He also had perfect attendance.  He is a very studious kid, takes his school work and homework very seriously.  The results of such hard work left him feeling very proud.  I love these two with all that is in me! Every night when I tuck them into bed I tell them I am proud of them and love them.  Same thing my parents told me!