Friday, April 30, 2010

. . . . . . .Transformation: Switch it Out, Paint it Up

I just finished up another fun project! I have a print of my favorite painting, "Reflections" by Carol Harding. It is large and expensive to frame (almost $300) so I have never had it done. I finally did the project myself and took another framed piece of artwork (that I purchased from Ross for a mere $39!) and transformed it into a frame for my print!

I sanded and stained the frame, then took it to Joann's to be matted. The results are in, and it looks great! The photos don't do it justice!

Take a look:

Before: The picture I purchased from Ross.
After: My favorite print, in a beautiful frame with lovely mats!

One more reason I love transformation projects!

The 25k visits contest will go til at least Monday, so if you haven't entered yet, make sure to leave a comment on any one of the posts from this week!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

. . . . . . . Roll Call & Quick Update

In the 2 days since I posted the 25k visits drawing, there have been over 250 visits to the blog, but only 17 comment "entries" into the drawing! So, who are the rest of you out there, who are reading, but not entering the drawing?? If you don't care about the prize drawing, that is fine, think of this more as a "Roll Call". Whether you are my family, friends, or perfect strangers (and I emphasize the word PERFECT!:), please let us know you are out there.

I'll start. :)

Jodi Orgill Brown
Riverdale, Utah

See! It's as easy as that! :)

As for me, I am doing very well these days. The change in weather (again) is causing more issues in my head. When the barometer falls, I have all kinds of problems because I cannot equalize my right ear. When you can't adjust for the pressure, it just builds up until it feels like your head will explode. I tried to get an appointment with the surgeon who sealed my eustation tube (Dr. Orlandi) so I can ask him questions, but he is out of town. So, I get to ask his nurse instead and she will pass the messages on to him when he checks in. It may be a while.

One benefit of being in the hospital is that your questions get answered a lot faster than if you are a patient at home. :) Still, I'm so grateful to be at home blogging, rather than at the hospital watching someone else do it! My dad and Tolan were wonderful bloggers, but I think they would both agree, being at home is best for all of us! :)

Monday, April 26, 2010

. . . . . . . 25,000 Visits Prize Drawing!

Wow, I just saw that the blog had it's 25,000th visit today (the counter started in August)! I wish we had a counter on the site when I was in the hospital, but we didn't think of that til later. Still, what a great milestone! Let's celebrate! Anyone who leaves a comment to this post will be entered to win a fabulous prize!!! It will be a gift card of some sort, so enter now! This is just for fun, so humor me and make it a real drawing!

(If you don't want to leave a public comment, you can email me or sign up to "follow" the blog instead. Just let me know you want in! :)

. . . . . . Orgill Family Party

Last January, when my Grandma Lisenbee passed away, I honestly didn't know how often I'd get to see the Orgill family anymore. My only trips to Grantsville were usually to see her. Thank heavens for some wonderful (and organized) family members who have planned 2 family events in the last year! Hooray for Allison! :) Check out the pics from our latest gathering, Saturday night at Noah's in South Jordan. What a fun place for a party!

Ef, Jim, Kevin and Brady watching a game after playing racquetball.
Judy, Lois, Denny and Rachel visiting and snacking.

Allison, Dave and Susan rockin' out. (Dustin was the primary vocalist for the evening, but I didn't get a pic before he left!)

Tolan, my sweetie, hanging out on the pool table. We haven't played pool in years, but it was so fun!

Rachel, Rebecca and Niki visiting by the kitchen.

Dave, Tami and Diane playing Rock Band.

Me, focusing really hard!

Allison, Karen, Sharon, Me and Rachel having fun cousin time! A great gathering of family!!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

. . . . . . . Exploding Volcanoes

I have to laugh when I see that my last post was about how great I have been feeling, since I am posting the opposite today. I don't know if it is because of a change in the weather, allergies or what, but I am having terrible issues with pressurizing my ears. Since my surgery where my eustation tube was sealed to fix my spinal fluid leak, this has been an issue that I haven't been able to "fix".

It feels like my head is in a cloud and I just can't quite see straight. There is so much pressure built up behind my right ear, I feel as if my head will simply explode or cave in. It started in the morning and has increased as the day has gone on. Now I have a terrible headache. I took some OTC meds, but I don't want to take the "heavy meds" because they make me out of it and loopy. I can't be out of it, because today is a day for celebration...

Daven Hale Brown turns 3 years old today!

I can't believe my "baby" is three. No more babies at our house now! We have spent much of the morning and afternoon making cakes and frosting. Perhaps as an unintentional reflection on how I am feeling, I made a chocolate volcano cake, that looks like a volcano that has erupted. I guess it had too much pressure built up, too. :) Hopefully I will be feeling better soon and I will be able to enjoy this day with my family, celebrating my sweet, sweet little "D", one of my greatest reasons for living!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

. . . . . .Blessed Days

I realized this week that I have gone almost 2 weeks without a single dizzy spell or debilitating headache! This is the longest "good spell" I have had in more than 20 months!

As my strength returns, so does my energy. Along with it comes a renewed excitement for life. There are so many things I want to do, so many projects to finish, so many people to visit, so many friends to serve!

With such blessings, how could anyone ever deny that God is still a God of miracles??

My faith is stronger than ever. My love for others still builds each day. My gratitude for LIFE cannot be measured. My debt to a loving SAVIOR can never be repaid, though I will give my best effort, one day at a time.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

. . . . . . .Retiring an Old Friend

It is with mixed emotions that I say goodbye as an old friend retires from helping me. My bedazzled eye patch, which was my constant companion for many months, has been worn for the last time. Many of the jewels have fallen off. The elastic is stretched and broken and no amount of knot tying or safety pinning can fix it.

Though some would simply throw it away, I cannot. There are too many memories attached to this little piece of fabric. So, I will gently clean it up, place it in a bag and put it in my cedar chest. There it it will stay so one day I can show my children's children the famous patch from the pictures. :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

. . . . . . Thoughts on Freedom

I cry when I hear the Star Spangled Banner. Every time. My heart swells with emotion at any song that reminds me of how blessed I am to live in THIS free country. Despite the political fights, the mistakes and "well-intendend" laws that go wrong, I love THIS country, the United States of America. Usually this type of post would be reserved for the 4th of July, but I am feeling immense gratitude today for the blessings and beauties of my life.

I just finished reading "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini, author of "The Kite Runner". This book is not one you read, then casually set down and go on with life. It lingers. The words linger in your mind. The thoughts and feelings linger in your heart. Today, I am grateful for my country and for the freedoms that I enjoy, as a woman, in this country. Here, I am a partner with my husband, and we are partners with God, through the religion of our choosing.

What a blessing it is that our hard days are really so easy. Even my most difficult times, in the grand scheme of "things", are simple to overcome, when compared with the natural disasters of the world and man-made disasters that ruin countries and tear lives apart. I needed doctors, medicine and even miracles, but much of the world needs much more.

Here, I am truly free to choose...and for that I am grateful and blessed.

Friday, April 16, 2010

. . . . . . .Little Miracles and Big Victories

Yesterday I got brave and did something I haven't yet done since I've been out of the hospital. It was a glorious spring day and I wanted to go for a walk with the boys. I planned on a little walk around the neighborhood, but they wanted to walk to the park for lunch. I didn't even "wonder" if I could do it, I just knew I could!

So, we loaded their wagon with lunch goodies and I pulled them to the park! There is a "big" hill that leads to the park and I had to huff and puff my way up the hill. At times I doubted if the idea was a sane one. As my steps slowed and my breathing increased, Daven and Casen started cheering me on the rest of the way! “You can do it, Mom. We’re almost there!”

As we finally turned into the park, they cheered, "You did it! Yeah!" Such little miracles, but such big victories!

We stayed at the park for 2 hours, and we got to visit with some good friends who happened to be there at the same time! As an unplanned reward, our local Chic-Fil-A showed up and gave out free chicken sandwiches for lunch. Wow, what a fun day!

When we left, I pulled the wagon and dropped Casen off at preschool before heading home with Daven. My legs and body were tired and sore when I got home, but it felt wonderful!! Hooray for all the little miracles we each have in our lives! What are your little miracles??? :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

. . . . . . .Days and Nights

I love the spring! The whole world is tranforming before my eyes each day, awakening as the sun and rain call forth the flowers, grasses, plants and trees to start growing again. It is joyous to actually watch the little buds on the trees and bushes as they get ready to bloom. I love it!

The days this week have been wonderful! The air is warming enough to spend more time outside and it makes me feel so ALIVE to be outside! Yesterday I played outside all morning with my little boys. We played soccer with the neighborhood 2 and 3 year olds (which was quite funny) then they rode bike and big wheels around the culdesac. Simply glorious.

The only hard part for me is the wind, which negatively affects my eye and my vision. I am sporting my special moisture chamber sunglasses all the time, but sometimes even they are not enough. But, even that cannot stop me from enjoying this beautiful season!

My nights are not quite as good. I am not a great "sleeper" and even though my body desperately needs rest, recovery and recuperation time, I often don't rest as well as I'd like. the last 2 nights have been really hard, but so far I am still functioning (and better than I would have expected!).

So, the way I see it, the only way to overcome a less-than-perfect night's sleep is to spend the day in the sunshine! See you outside!

Monday, April 12, 2010

. . . . . . .Transformations: Physical and Spiritual

We had 2 major events in our family this weekend. First, my sweet Lindi was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! It was a wonderful occasion and she is a wonderful girl! As part of her baptismal service, she was also confirmed a member of the Church through a special blessing. She was blessed with great things and I believe this is the start of a spiritual transformation for this already sweet, special little lady! Love you, Lindi girl! :)

Lindi preparing for her baptism, dressed in white with her dad, who had the honor of baptizing her!

Afterwards, we had a family gathering in honor of our Lindi. :) So many of our loved ones came to our home and celebrated this special day. It was wonderful to spend time with them! Enjoy the pics below!

Second, the "first anniversary" of my diagnosis was also a big event, though I am grateful it was on the same day as Lindi's baptism, because it became a wonderful celebration, when it could have been a difficult reflection. Somewhat in honor of the event, I had a physical transformation, as my dear friend, Becky Sevy, helped me change my look by cutting off my hair!

"Before" the cut. You can see the length of my new hair vs my "old" hair.
Albeit staged for this purpose, I actually walked by mirrors a few times and found all my little hairs sticking out everywhere. Definitely time for a change!

My "regrowth" hair from when they shaved my head for surgeries, was really starting to get in the way, so my friend Melanie Taylor encouraged me to be bold, crazy and do something I wouldn't otherwise have done...cut it all off! So, I did it! For me, this was a big step. I have spent the last year using the hair I had left to cover up the funny little hairs growing back in, but now all my hair is the same length and it feels healthier and better than before. I love it! :)

Truly, it feels like a fresh start for me, a new "year", a new look and more energy than I have had in ages. Life is so good! Enjoy the fun photos!

Me, Lindi and Tolan on Lindi's special day!

Me and Melissa, I chopped my hair, she dyed hers dark. Fun changes!

Aunt Celia Brown and Rheanna getting some treats.

Martin Merx, Tolan's cousin. I think he wants to be Superman. He could, too, he'd be perfect! :)

A four generation picture with me, my kids, my mom and my grandparents Ketchum. I love this picture and will cherish it forever! I am so glad they were there for Lindi's big day!

Grandma Brown, uncle Dave, Grandpa Orgill and the cousins waiting for the food!

Lindi and the new scriptures she received as a gift from Grandma and Grandpa Brown.

Our dear friend, Debbie and Brandon Rhoads, hanging out and enjoying the "after" party. :) Brandon is so funny, he should have his own blog! We love them so much!
Debbie and sweet little Paige! So fun to have our friends there to celebrate with us!

Me and my dad. My smile isn't all the way back, nor is my eye and face, but I am looking more like him (again) every day! Yeah!

Friday, April 9, 2010

. . . . . . .The Year in Numbers

Wow, what a crazy year it has been for me and my family! One year ago, on Friday, April 10, 2009, I was diagnosed with an “inoperable” brain tumor, growing on my brainstem. My, how life has changed since then! We have been trying to “Pay it Forward” for all the kindnesses shown to our family during this difficult year, but I don’t think any amount of trying will do. Thank you for your endless love and support. YOU are the angels who got us through!! Our love to you!

More than ever, we are grateful that we are an eternal family, that we have a Savior who lived and died for us and a Heavenly Father with the ultimate Plan of Happiness. We count ourselves lucky to have made it through this trying year. Here are a few other things we counted this year…

Tolan: 4 Years at OC Tanner
264 Round-trips to Salt Lake City
112 Hours visiting Jodi in the hospital
1 Knee surgery

12 Weeks of physical therapy
12 Months as Ward Clerk
6 Weekends as a single dad
1 Zoo trip “alone” with the kids
365 Days as a great husband & dad
34 Blog posts written
21 Doctor’s office visits with Jodi
9 Home and yard projects completed
0 Days to himself
78 Hours research on spinal fluid leaks
1 Savior, always near

Jodi: 1 Devoted husband to love
4 Amazing children to mother
1 Brain tumor
78 Visits from dear friends
3 Brain surgeries & 1 eye surgery

59 Caring Doctors, nurses & CNAs
37 Days in the hospital

1,116 pills and 149 shots administered
1 CLOSE call with pneumocephalus
90 Faithful blog followers

236 pgs of hospital & doctor bills
16 Rides to the doc with 2nd dad, Larry Brown
28 Hospital days with Dad at bedside
6.5 Hours of MRIs
33 Days of spinal fluid leaks
328 Days of facial paralysis
15 pounds lost & 15 regained
10 Months as Young Women’s Pres
1 Savior, always near

Trenden: 2 Soccer MVP awards

21 Goals scored in soccer games
20 Hours of swimming lessons
100+ Hours in the hot tub

12 grade reading level (in fifth grade!)
37 Books read (Favorite: Fable Haven)
3 K’Nex Coasters, designed & built
13 Days fasting for Mom
12 months as Mom’s right hand man

Lindi: 212 Notes of love written

396 Art projects completed
197 Play dates with Daven
14 Chapter books read

38 Piano lessons taken
4 Soccer goals scored
3 Months of ballet lessons

6 Months without front teeth
1 Eye patch bedazzled for Mom

Casen: 165 ABC Train preschool days

26 Alphabet letters learned
7 Soccer games played
3 Goals scored in soccer
20 Hours of swimming lessons
160 Mornings with Mom & “D”
100 Hours in the hot tub
157 Times singing It’s a Grand Old Flag
365 Prayers for his Mom

Daven: 365 Days of smiles & laughter

8 feet high chain link fence conquered
6 Pair of Big Boy underwear
280 Morning luvs for Mom

6 Months of successful potty trips
3 Daily bumps from falls
147 Climbs on furniture

48 Walks in the wagon
1 million reasons for his mom to live

Family: 82 Meals brought to our home by neighbors, friends and loved ones

93 Days with Grandma Orgill living at our home and taking care of the family
1 New Russian Blue kitty named Pepper
1 Christmas in Laie, Hawaii (for a month!)
3 Trips to Hebgan Lake, Montana
5 Friends taught the gospel in our home
2 Visits from Grandpa Pringle
17 Sunday dinners at Grandma and Grandpa Browns
1 Savior, always near

1,345,654,276 AMAZING Family Members, Friends, Neighbors, Co-workers, Well-wishers, Gift Givers, Prayer Providers, Meal Makers, Flower Senders, Drivers, Babysitters, Visitors & Angels who granted us

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

. . . . . . .Biblical Feats

I have been reading in the Old Testament this year and yesterday I read the story of David and Goliath. I have known this story my whole life, but I had forgotten some of the details. As I read, I was amazed at the boldness of young David, so confident and sure. He was not sure of himself, but of his God, that through Him, David would be protected and would be able to overcome Goliath.

This morning as I was telling my children this story (Trenden already knew the story, Lindi didn't) we started discussing the implications. Trenden asked whether Goliath was killed from the rock, or from David cutting off his head. Yes, these are the things little boys contemplate! The "moral" to the story,as I explained to the kids, was that no matter the obstacle, with the Lord's help, we can do, accomplish or conquer anything!

As we talked about this, our conversation naturally turned to the last year of our lives. I told them that the tumor was my "Goliath", but through God, we had miracles and conquered Goliath.

Then the kids did something they have never done before. They told me how they felt during my hospitalization. Trenden told me how scared he was, because I had a tumor "in a bad place". He didn't know if I was going to be OK. At times, he thought I was going to die. He was petrified for what could have happened. To hear his words was heartbreaking. Lindi, too, was scared. She is less verbally expressive, but she did say the hard thing for her is how much I have changed. The biggest changes were when I was gone all the time (in the hospital), and the physical changes in my face, hair and abilities. She said she was scared she wouldn't recognize me because I looked so different. She even had dreams that she couldn't find me at church because I didn't look like myself.

Quite humbling to hear these kinds of words from my sweet children. But, I reassured them that the Lord is aware of us. I told them how grateful I am that they gained testimonies of God and Jesus Christ, of praying, fasting and miracles. I told them it was all worth it, for those reasons alone. That I would even do it again, just for them and the lessons they learned.

Then we all wiped the tears from our eyes and I scooted them out the door and off to school.

Monday, April 5, 2010

. . . . . . .Easter Break

Here are a few fun pictures from our Easter vacation to St. George to visit Koby and Melanie Taylor. Egg hunting in the red rocks, playing in the pool at the Taylors, 4-wheeling and having fun! :)

Thank you to the Taylors for a wonderful break. We needed it! :)

Friday, April 2, 2010

. . . . . . . .Pressure Problems

Ahh, there is nothing quite like Spring Break in Utah! Luckily, we ventured to a warm spot in Utah, where it actually feels like Spring. We are in St. George, staying with our dear friends, the Taylors. Their hospitality is even warmer than the weather.

The kids have caught on that this is a fun place to be. Trenden summed it up this morning when he said, "This is even more fun than I thought it would be!" And that was before we went 4-wheeling or they took a dip in the pool (still a bit too cold for the pool).

The boys LOVED the ATV adventure. Daven had a grin from ear to ear, as did Casen and Trenden. I had on my special moisture chamber sunglasses, plus a set of heavy duty goggles, so I didn't get any wind/air/dirt in my eye. I must have looked like quite a sight, but it was worth it to watch the kids laugh!

I did experience unexpected pressure problems on the drive here. The descent into St. George takes you from one of the highest driving points in Utah to one of the lowest, all in the matter of about 60 miles. In figuring out what was happening in my head, Tolan explains it like this:

Dr. Orlandi sealed the eustation tube (in my ear) in order to seal the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) leak that plagued me for more than 4 weeks after my first craniotomy. The sealed tube trapped fluid in my ear. At that time, my right ear did not need to pressurize, so elevation changes were not an issue. Now that my CSF leak has stopped leaking, the fluid in my ear has dried up and now there is just air, like the other side, so now my ear needs to pressurize. However, it can't because the eustation tube is still sealed, thus not allowing the needed pressurization to take place.

At first my ear just started to feel weird as we began our descent out of the mountains. As we drove further down the mountain, the pressure started to build in my head and ear. Once we hit St. George, my whole head did not feel right. My ear was obviously struggling to pressurize, but unsuccessfully. I ended up with a pretty intense headache and a "not right" feeling in my ear. So, for the first time in ages, I took a "heavy hitter" pill last night before snuggling into the comfiest guest bed I have ever slept in.

Today I am doing better, but I have had dizzy spells all day, likely attributed to my inner ear being off because of the pressure problems. The good news is I am not in pain today, so it has been a great, fun and relaxing day with our friends.

I will post pictures of our adventures when we return home. We are doing an Easter Egg Hunt tonight with the neighborhood and one tomorrow with our hosts' family. :) Should be wonderful!