Saturday, February 27, 2010

. . . . . . .Grateful Prayers

It has now been a few hours since the tsunami warning in Hawaii has been cancelled. My family is safe at home, unpacking all the belongings they packed up, draining the bathtubs they filled with water, and bringing everything back down to ground level. They spent half of the night preparing and all day waiting, and in the end, nothing happened. Prayers of gratitude are now needed to thank the Lord for passing over Hawaii, for a safe, uneventful day atop Temple Hill in Laie.

All the news sites have tsunami videos, as reminders of the tragedies of the past. Watching just a few of those made me even more grateful for the outcome of this day.

While much of the world went about the routines of the day, hundreds of thousands of people fled to higher ground to wait, hope and pray. I was shopping and having lunch. They were watching, waiting, listening and wondering. I feel overwhelmed and blessed to know that this natural disaster was just a close call this time. My prayers of gratitude have begun.

. . . . . . . .Quick Updates & Prayers Needed

It is Saturday morning and I just got a call from my family in Hawaii that they are having a tsunami warning. The men are all sandbagging the houses then heading to higher ground to join the rest of the community in case the tsunami strikes their area. Please pray with me that everyone there will be safe and protected. These are such good, faithful, loving people. Prayers please.

I am going in a few minutes to take my dear friend, Aunt Celia, to lunch for her birthday. It should be a wonderful, fun day of food, visiting and shipping.

I also hope it will help keep my mind off the compications I have been experiencing. A call into my neurosurgeon's office resulted in an appointment set for Monday morning. I hope and pray that the evaluation will result in a "clean slate" and this will not be something that will require additional treatment.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

. . . . . . . Guiltless Sleep

Lately I have been feeling very guilty about the amount of sleep I feel like I need. My body is physically recovering so well, it doesn't "seem" like I should still need so much rest. But, I do. I am having an extended "episode" right now and I am more tired than I have been in weeks. I am getting 8.5 - 9.5 hours a night and I am tired again by afternoon.

Then I started reading an amazing book, “My Stroke of Insight”. It is written by a neurologist who had a stroke and was “aware" as she was losing her abilities and functioning. Because she already “knew” the brain, she also knew how to overcome and retrain her brain so she could recover fully. It took eight years, but she did it. Though her situation is different than mine, I have found some very helpful info and advice as I have read. One important thing she talks about is the amount of sleep a body needs when recovering from trauma. For the first 4 years after her stroke and brain surgery, she slept 11 hours a night, plus took naps during the day! For the next 4 years, she cut back to 9.5 hours a night and a short nap. Wow! So, no more guilt for me (at least not about my need for sleep).

I would recommend this book to anyone because there is so much we can all learn about how we CHOOSE to use our brains. It is empowering to realize how much we actually have control over, if we understand how our brains work. I am starting to use some of her methods to see if I can make positive changes in my life, maybe you can, too! :)

P.S. - I have had another "complication" or "side effect" pop up. Not quite ready to discuss it yet, but it is weighing on me mentally and physically, so prayers would be appreciated. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

. . . . . . . . . The Soundtrack of My Life

I was alone for a few minutes this weekend, lost in my thoughts, when all of a sudden, a song from the soundtrack of my life came on the radio. In an instant I was transported back in time, to Grantsville, 1991, dragging Main Street and hanging out at the local convenience store with friends. The moment was so real, I could hear the laughter of my friend next to me and smell the seats of the old Buick we were driving in...

Music is so powerful it indeed helps us tell, and remember, the stories of our lives. One moment I was back in Grantsville, another moment I was at a high school dance, yet a second later I was on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. And just as quickly, I was back home again, in my kitchen.

Right now, I'd have to say my song for the last year is "Lucky" by Jason M'raz and Colbie Caillat. "Lucky I'm in love with my best friend. Lucky to have been where I have been. Lucky to be coming home again..." Precisely.

There are so many songs that whisk me away from life and drop me off at a "stop" that is long ago and far away. From the moment the first notes are heard through the speakers, my whole self changes for a short time. There are new songs on the soundtrack of my life, and others that have been there forever that will get played over and over again.

What are the songs of the soundtrack of your life?

Monday, February 22, 2010

. . . . . . . .Life Through the Rearview Mirror

Driving down the road this weekend, I glanced at my rearview mirror before switching lanes. What I saw nearly took my breath away. The scene behind me appeared to be straight out of a painting, a beautiful newly snow covered mountain towering over a small valley village beneath.

When I later turned a corner, I saw the view again, this time head on. Truly stunning. How often have I even noticed that view this winter?

Perhaps we should all look at life from a new perspective and see what majesties around us suddenly come into view.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

. . . . . . . .Rest and Reminders

Many of you know that I am plagued by periods of restlesness when my body will not allow me to go to sleep. I have been doing much better lately and I am on some medications that have made a huge difference in my ability to fall asleep and stay asleep during the night. However, I can't nap. Ever. No matter how tired I am. Ugh. (The one excpetion being in the hospital and when I was first released and taking a cabinet full of medications. Anyone can sleep with those!)

This morning my little Daven woke up way too early (especially for a Saturday!). So, this afternoon I am feeling totally exhausted. I attempted to get some sleep, but as usual, sleep evaded me. I have found that if I can rest, even if I don't sleep, that the rest helps me. Partially for this purpose, I am saving up money for a massage chair that will just lull me into a peaceful relaxing state. In the meantime, I borrowed a massage pad from a neighbor and used it today to try and nap. The massage part was helpful, even though sleep never came. Sleep and rest are so important to recovery! I still can't quite get enough sleep, no matter how much I get!

Last night Tolan and I were working on a home project (one of my many) and we started getting frustrated with each other when things weren't going quite right. After sleeping on it and contemplating about it today, we decided to have someone else to the project. So, we are going to hire it out. This is hard for me. I am a real Do-It-Yourself person. I like the challenge, the rewards and the cost savings of DIY projects. But, as I was reminded last night, nothing is worth having contention in the family. And these projects can often cause contention.

So, my good reminder for today is that RELATIONSHIPS, NOT THINGS, should be my number one priority. My project is far less important than having peace and love with my hubby. Lesson learned. Again. :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

. . . . . . . Miracles for CCAM

It is a good thing that our family and friends are all getting so good at praying for miracles! This week my sister, Tami, went in for an ultrasound for her 5th child. The family is thrilled to have another little Baker baby boy join the family this summer!

However, in the ultrasound, a problem was also detected, one that could be serious or minor, depending on how things progres from here. Baby Baker has CCAM - Congenital Cystic Adenomatoid Malformation, or a large mass on his lungs that is pushing against his heart. Tami will now be under careful watch to see how his progress is and to see what will happen to the mass and his heart. There is a possibility it will shrink, so PLEASE pray with us for this miracle! There are many possible outcomes and this sounds like the best of all. Some others are not so positive.

To read more about CCAM, go to:

Thank you! You are all very good at making miracles happen, so please join me again for another one!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

. . . . . . . Simple Prayer

I have a little prayer in my heart today. It goes something like this:

Dear Father in Heaven,

I have already been blessed so much and my life is so good, but if thou sees fit, I would really love these small miracles.

I would love to be able to blink again. I will never again take it for blink, to see, to drive, to be free.

I would love for my mouth to heal so I can taste and enjoy food and not "drool" liquid from my mouth.

Oh, and I would really love to be able to kiss my husband again.

Father, I want to thank thee for my wonderful family, friends and loved ones who sustain me everyday. And I am eternally grateful for the sacrifice of Thy son, my Savior, Jesus Christ. Through his atonement, I can be whole and clean again.

With gratitude and thanksgiving,


Saturday, February 13, 2010

. . . . . . . . .A Long Winter

There is something about the month of February that makes it feel long to me, even though it is the shortest month. By this time of year, I am tired of winter and ready for spring. There are fewer snow storms, but not much warm weather either.

This winter has really felt long, even though I have actually been here in Utah for a short portion of the season. But, the fact that I cannot drive makes me feel "trapped" sometimes. I start to go crazy.

So, I am doing house projects. :) I would like to do 10, but I don't have enough money, so I am only doing one or two for now. I am starting on my bedroom, making it feel more elegant and luxurious. Why, well, just for us, I guess. Just because I am home so much and now I see all the things that need to be done!

The best part is completing a project and seeing the "after". I love the after. The transformation process is amazing, and the after is the best part.

I cannot wait until I am an after.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

. . . . . . . .Best Night

Had the best night with some of my family last night. Just what I needed to get me out of the funk I have been stuck in for a few weeks. Tolan and I took the older 2 two kids, Trenden and Lindi, to a play at the Desert Star Theatre in Salt Lake. I still am not able to see well enough to drive that far, so the kids and I hopped on the train and had an enjoyable ride to the city.

We met Tolan at the station and together ventured to the theatre. The kids didn't know what to expect, but we had a feeling they would enjoy it. The Desert Star performs original comedies that are spoofs on pop culture. Last night's show was "Twi-Lite: I was a Teenage Vampire".

Let's just say that Trenden was laughing so hard, I witnessed Root Beer spill out of his mouth and nearly shoot out his nose! :) Lindi was all smiles and quiet giggles. All the way home we imitated our favorite parts of the show and the olio afterwards.

We bought season tickets for the year and now I know it was a great idea. This was just the night with my family that I needed. All fun, laughs, smiles, singing and togetherness. We loved it and now we can't wait to go back for the next show in March! You need a pick-me-up, perhaps you should head to the theatre!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

. . . . . . . .Defining and Refining

Thanks to everyone who sent emails and gave suggestions to me after my last post. I appreciate the love and support I receive from all of you!

A conversation with a good friend yesterday prompted me to think back in time to when this "journey" began, last year on Easter weekend, when I received my initial diagnosis. At the time, and honestly since then, I have lived in a bubble, aware of only those things I needed to be aware of to survive.

What I have begun to find out, is that outside of my bubble, the outlook for my life was far more grim than I realized. Many friends, doctors, church members and neighbors knew of the location of my tumor and the very realistic potential outcomes, many of which were not good. I continue to find out about predictions that went something like this:

"She's toast."
"I'm afraid she probably won't make it."
"I am losing my friend."
"Don't mean to be frank, but she's a goner."
"She won't be around to raise her kids."

Now as I look back, I don't want to dwell on these things, but they are very good reminders that my life truly is a blessing. I actually did have miracles that saved me!

When people talked to me, they did not say these things upfront of course, and I honestly didn't let myself go "there", to the possibility of my death. I knew that I HAD to stay positive to make it and that was that.

Since I have been home from the hospital, I have heard things like:

"Do you know how lucky you are to be alive?"
"Someone must have been looking out for you."
"I didn't want to tell you or your family, but based on pure medical reasoning, I didn't think you had a chance."

These reminders are critical for me right now, as I am continually struggling with how to become normal again. I feel like I am in a "funk" and figuring out life is harder for me now than I could have imagined. I don't want to let the events of the last year define me, but rather refine me. So past predictions become fuel for my refiner's fire. Now I just have to figure out how to deal with the heat and challenges of my new life.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

. . . . . . . . Humble & Help

Why is it that I lose my patience most with the ones I love?

My intentions are always to try and demonstrate love and the gospel of Jesus Christ in action, so why do I end up feeling so inadequate at being a good wife and mother?

How can I teach my children through example when my own example isn't good enough?

As I "feel better" and "return to normal", I realize I have been living in a bubble for a year. I haven't been the main caregiver, the responsibilities have been shared. Now I am feeling quite humbled and overwhelmed by the tasks that are again mine. A whole day of being Mom is often more than I can handle. I hope it will get better in time, but I am feeling discouraged by my daily "outputs" and "outcomes".

How can I become the kind of mother I want to be? How can I fit back into this critical role in my life without feeling like I constantly fall short?

I know we all fall short, I understand that is part of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the reason we all need the atonement of our Savior. So, what can I do to implement changes into my life that will have a positive impact on my family members? How do you stay patient, teach with love, demonstrate kindness and service and keep life in check? Please share your thoughts. My tears tell me I need all the help I can get.

Friday, February 5, 2010

. . . . . . . . Old and New

Old photos. Young people...

Oh, the nostalgia of looking through old pictures! Last night I looked through photos from 1996, when Tolan and I met at the BYU Jerusalem Center in Israel. What an adventure we had! We were young, falling in love, traversing Israel, Jordan and Egypt. We were learning, growing and understanding the gospel of Jesus Christ in new and exciting ways.

The people in those pictures were so young! I look back and wonder with fondness, "What happened to all those people?".

If they were to ask the same question of me, what would be my response? Who am I now? Am I the same as the young lady in those photos? Is that zest for life still in me? More importantly, have I become the woman I wanted to be?

I think I would respond, "I am definitely a work in progress, but at least I am still working on it." :)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

. . . . . . . . .Sleepy Head

Since I've been out of the hospital, I've made getting sleep a priority. The doctors told me to sleep (or rest) 10-12 hours a day, which is I've decided is impossible. :) Still, my sleep has taken the number 1 place on my list of "needs" lately, so I attempt to get 8-9 hours of sleep a night. I know this sounds like a lot, but it is never enough. My body is working so hard at recovering, I can use every minute and then some.

So, when it comes to exercise, sleep is more important to me than the 20 minutes of exercise before the kids get up. Sadly, this has been the case with everything, from my morning scripture study to quiet meditation time, or even shower time. Now I wait and do everything til after the kids are up, I get up with them instead of before them.

Today I decided that this needs to change. Now. If I wake up the kids without having read the Book of Mormon, then I am simply not in the right frame of mind to deal with the stresses of the day. The scriptures, meditation time and prayer time are too important to wait.

This morning was the perfect example. I woke up and got the kids out of bed and got them started on breakfast. My children are picky eaters to say the least, and today no one wanted the breakfast on the menu. Instead of being calm, I was, once again, frustrated and upset, right from the start of my day.

Tomorrow I will get up earlier, even if it means I miss out on some precious "recovery" sleep because my scripture study and prayer time need to be a priority to set the tone for the day. Email me tomorrow and see if I did it...I need the pressure of knowing people will be checking on me! :)

Monday, February 1, 2010

. . . . . . . . Yelling Moms, Singing Angels

Tonight I was frustrated and totally worn out. I didn't get the amount of help I wanted in straightening up, and so I blew up at my kids and yelled.

Why do I do this? I have promised myself over and over again that I won't yell at my kids, and each time I mean it.

Tonight when nearly everyone was crying, Tolan said something like, "Everyone takes their cue from Mom." And, as much as I hate to admit it, it's true. I set the tone for the family, so when I am frustrated and in tears, so are they.

So, now the little ones are in bed, my eyes are dry from tears, I am "sane" again, I am promising myself, yet again, that I will do better tomorrow.

All of this because Mom was more focused on the house than the Home.

As I tucked Daven into bed, he said his sweet prayers and sounded like an angel, my little angel. This is why it is so worth it being a mom, even on the hard days.

Here is D, last night, singing the chorus of "I Am A Child of God". (Interpretation: Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way. Teach me all that I must do, to live with Him someday. )