Thursday, May 27, 2010

,, , , , , ,And the Winner Is

I am so excited to announce the winner of the SL Bees game give away contest! The winner is.... (drum roll please).....

Tina Allred!!
Congrats to Tina! I have known Tina since I was only 15 years old, though I haven't seen her in at least that many years! I am thrilled her family will be able to go to this fun game!
The truth is, I wish everyone could have won! You are all my dear friends and there is nothing more I would like to do than say "thanks for being there" with a fun treat for each of you! I hope you all have a wonderful, relaxing Memorial Day weekend!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

. . . . . . Weather Woes and Contest Countdown

I have a new friend you may soon meet. It is a new eye patch that has been waiting in the wings to enjoy a little "get to know you" time. Well, the windy weather has afforded us just such an occasion to spend some quality time to acquaint ourselves a little better.

My current patch friend is one bejeweled by my sweet Lindi. I am grateful for the break it gives my eye, though because of its "newness", the elastic is tight on my head and causes me to sprout headaches galore. Yesterday I wore it much of the day, as the wind was not so friendly to me. By evening, my head hurt in a familiar, but sad sort of way.

Today I felt renewed and excited for another day, but a few hours working in my yard has already taken a toll. Ahh, at least the air is warm and the blossoms are dancing outside for my good eye to enjoy!
Just an FYI, I will be picking a winner for the Salt Lake Bees contest tomorrow morning, so make sure to hurry and enter (leave a comment or send me an email) if you want to be included in the drawing!

Monday, May 24, 2010

. . . . . . .Transformation: Bedroom Oasis

OK, it's time to share another transformation project! :) This was a project that took place over about 4 months. I loved my previous bedroom set, but we got a new bed a while ago and the bedding was too big for the new mattress, so I decided it was time for a transformation project!!

This is my bedroom as it looked a few months ago. The bedding and accessories area all in green and the cedar chest at the foot of the bed is in a purple accent color.

It took me quite a while to find a new bedding set that I liked, I think I bought 4 sets and tried them out on the bed before I found "the one". The best part about it is I got the bedding set (and valances) for a great deal! It was a $500 set, on clearance for $160. A week later, it went on "closeout" and the price dropped to $42 for the 18-piece set! I contacted the company and they refunded the difference! Wow!

I purchased more accent pillows, a throw (blanket) for the bottom of the bed, and got fabric to recover my cedar chest and make a pillow. Then I got a slipcover for my wing-back chair so it matched the new decor. I purchased wall sconces and finished my art framing project, and now....

I have a brand new master bedroom oasis!

The TOTAL project cost me just about $200!! I am thrilled with the results and I still love to relax in my room!

Friday, May 21, 2010

. . . . . . Utah Contest -- Great Family Activity!

Calling all Utahns!!!! A very generous blog reader and family member (thanks, Niki!!) has offered a fabulous prize to one of my local Utah readers! If you want to win this fun family activity, make a comment on the blog, or send me an email at so you can be entered to win. The prize is a 6-pack of great tickets for a Salt Lake Bees game on Saturday night, June 5! The Bees will be playing Colorado and it promises to be a fun event!

The tickets are for great seats and they will be in the "will call" area with your name on them! :) Drop me a line if you want to enter!

. . . . . . School Year Winding Down

I am amazed that school is almost over for the year. My elementary kids only have 4 days left and my preschooler, Casen, "graduated" today! This week Trenden was in the Math and Science Olympiad, having earned a spot for being the best fifth grader in his math "sport". What wonderful celebrations of these great kids! Enjoy the pictures!

Ah, now to await the days of summer! :)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

. . . . . . Working It Out

A few months ago I started a new workout plan, but it was derailed for a while when I started having symptoms again for several weeks. Now, I am trying to get back on track and see if I can build up some muscle in this body!

Today I rowed for 5000 meters, then I did the treadmill for 20 minutes. It may have been a bit too much, as I can hardly walk down the stairs now. :) I can go up the stairs just fine, but down is so hard! That means I had a good, tough workout, right?

The fact is, I am so grateful that I am strong enough and steady enough to be able to exercise again. It doesn't seem like that long ago that we were celebrating when I could walk a few feet, finally building up to one small lap around the park. To think of my body in those days is scary. Now I am gaining strength and hoping to keep moving forward!

I will be "confined" to exercising indoors until my eye works again, so thank heavens we have an entire gym in our basement! Anyone want to join me in starting a new summer workout program?? We can motivate each other! :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

. . . . . . .Sleepless nights and Dizzy days

I don't know what spurs on the sleepless nights for me, but last night was one of them. Tolan also had a bad night and we were each up numerous times, passing each other in the halls, and trying out different beds and locations.

Both of us had far less than stellar nights. Today, likely in part as a result of my night, I feel dizzy and I have a headache. That seems to be my body's way of reacting to things now. This was never the case in the past, but for 20+ months now, this is how my body responds to stressful situtaions.

So, today I will pray for more than normal patience so I can be a kind mother to my little boys. They are the same as usual, but I am not. I will say extra prayers and hope I can get through the day.

What are your secrets for keeping kids safe and having fun when you can't give them all your normal energy?? If you have bright ideas, please share! ;)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

. . . . . . Seasons of our Lives

Made famous by the Beatles years ago, Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us that "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven." In such a simple sentence, we learn many things, including the fact that there is a PURPOSE to every season. I believe each of us experiences many seasons throughout our lives. I have come out of a very long, hard winter, and am entering a spring of renewal, growth and budding flowers.

What season are you in, right now? Are you experiencing the warmth and growth of summer, or the cold air and falling leaves of fall? Are you still learning and progressing, or are you falling behind and getting discouraged?

My husband told me a quote that has stuck with me. "There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing."

Like this quote so aptly states, no weather, or season, in itself is bad, but in order to make it through the hard and harsh months of our own personal winters, we must be prepared. If we take on the full armor of God and dress ourselves in the protective layers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we can be shielded when the winds blow and the snow falls. We can stay warm amidst the storm.

So much learning has taken place over the last year and I know the lessons could only have been learned by surviving the coldest of storms. Knowing there is a PURPOSE to it all helps me understand and appreciate my seasons. I am grateful for my winter, and more grateful for the sacred layers of protection that covered me, taught me and have brought me into spring.

Friday, May 14, 2010

. . . . . .Emotional Day

Yesterday I spent my one-year "anniversary" at the hospital for appointments. The summary is:

* As I suspected, the headaches and pressure in my head is caused from my inability to equalize (pop) my ear, as a result of my eustation tube being sealed. Dr. Shelton said normally he would just put in a tube, but with my history of spinal fluid problems, he doesn't dare. So, for now, the pressure problems are here to stay. If I haven't had any CSF leaks in the next 2 years, he will put in a tube to alleviate the pressure in my brain.

* My hearing is improving, my speech recognition is now at about 85% of normal levels (when the headphones are in my ears) and my overall hearing in my right ear is up to 71% of normal, which is also a vast improvement.

* My paralysis is improving (which is noticeable even in pictures) but I still don't have use of my eye, right nostril, forehead or the extremities of my mouth. The extremities don't always come back to 100% of where they were, so my mouth or forehead may not look the same. (A little drool isn't that bad, right??)

* Because of the location of my nerve damage, at the brainstem, my recovery time is longer than with others in a similar situation. Instead of the normal 12-month recovery time, Dr. Shelton estimates I may still have a few more months of good progress before the healing slows. It is a matter of travel time from the damaged site to the nerves in the face, they recover about a milimeter a day, so a few inches difference in the location is a big deal.

* The good news then, is I still have time to get better. Normally, one year is the time frame within which 90% of recovery takes place, and little healing can be expected afterwards.

* Dr. Shelton wants me to go to physical therapy to try and improve my facial movements while there is still healing time. I will call them today and get my first appointment set up. We are very fortunate because facial therapy clinics only exist in 5 cities in the nation. Once again, not a coincidence!

* He recommended I go back to my eye doctor and consider having additional surgical procedures to get some use of my eye back. My eye is the cause of most of my daily issues, including photophobia, vision impairment, loss of depth perception, and not being able to drive very much.

After the appointment, Tolan and I walked through the wing of the hospital where I lived for 5 weeks last year. It was very emotional for me. I looked at all the people there and I commented how sick they all looked. Tolan replied, "That is how you looked, Jodi. You really looked terrible." It is so overwhelming to think of myself like that, especially when I see how far I have come.

I also saw one of the nurses who cared for me. I didn't think he would recognize me, but he did. He even remembered my name. He said, "You look a lot different, a ton better than the last time I saw you!" Yes, so much has changed this year.

The tears came, but they were manageable. I was emotional and sad, but also so very grateful. My wonderful husband was by my side the whole day, yet again. The trials may continue, but I know the blessings and miracles will come, too!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

. . . . . . One Year of Miracles, Learning and Growth

One year ago today, at this very moment, I was being prepped to go into surgery, for what I thought would be the only procedure I needed, followed by 5 days of recovery in the hospital. Now, looking back on it all, it is surreal, and it is still hard to believe.

My life is a miracle, or a series of miracles. It is through the prayers, fasting and help of hundreds of people that I lived and my family survived. To recall how we have changed and grown is a monumental task. It would be far easier to recount the few things that are still the same in our lives.

As for me, I am a changed person. My few physical changes cannot demonstrate the massive reconstruction that has gone on within me. Though it appears I am back to "Normal", I know I will never be the same.

Today I will be back at the hospital, for an appointment checking on my paraylsis, hearing and progress. If I am brave enough, I plan to go to the Neuro unit and walk the halls. I know it will be emotional, but I need to do it.

If I ever go back to the blog archives and re-read the events of one year ago, it is nearly too much to ingest. The challenges, faith and miracles still amaze me. Words cannot adequately deetail the experiences, lessons and miracles. At this stage, all I can do is thank God for my life, and thank all of you for your prayers, faith and ministering. Life is a blessing, live it that way!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

. . . . . . . 5th Graders

Today I spoke in Trenden's fifth grade class at Riverdale Elementary School. I talked about the challenges of the last year and what we learned from them. Fifth graders are awesome, they are old enough to understand the world around them, without being too tainted by that world.

They also ask very good questions. They are thinkers. They are processors. They are do-ers. I hope that the time we spent together today will help them make good choices in their lives and take control of their actions. I hope they know that they won't have control over everything that happens to them, but they will ALWAYS have control over how they act and react. I hope they understand that some decisions don't come with a second chance, so the choice they make the FIRST time is critical. I hope they know that all people are the same on the inside, no matter how they look on the outside.

And, when they look at my Trenden, I hope they get a glimpse of a young boy who has gone through so much this last year, and come out of it as a young man. Of course, they won't "get" that part, but at least I do. I can see how he has changed, matured, grown and lost a bit of innocence. But, in place of the innocence, he has gained faith, courage, strength, compassion and service, which are far more powerful than innocence.

Today, hopefully at least one young person will go away from school having learned a lesson that will save them heartache or hardship in life. What a blessing it is to be the instrument to teach such a lesson! I would do this every day if I could!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

. . . . . . .The Best Day

I am a MOTHER. This is such a blessing in my life. My children bring me so much joy. My tears are ones of love and amazement. Today I shared my day with my eldest son, who 11 years ago today, made me a mom on Mother's Day. He was so concerned with me enjoying Mother's Day that he constantly deflected the attention from himself to make sure I was having a good day.

Between the flowers I got from my Dad, the ring from my husband, and the hot pads from my children, it was a wonderful day. But no material gift in the world could compare to message my sweet Trenden gave me. He wrote this "essay" about his mom to tell others why he thinks his mom is the best. :)

"On May 9th 1999 I made my mom a mother on Mother’s Day. My mom is NOT the average mom. Of course she loves me just like any good mom should, but my mom and I experienced something that most 11 year old boys can’t relate to.

Last year my mom was diagnosed with a brain tumor. And as you can imagine that year was really hard for not just my mom but me and my family as well. Four days after my 10th birthday my mom had her first surgery. After that her face was paralyzed, her hair shaved, and she lost her hearing. We went to visit her in the hospital I could not believe she was my mom. She looked so much different! I was almost scared of her, but I knew she was my mom so I hugged her anyway.

Then she had her second surgery and things got worse. She got a spinal fluid leak and every bad thing the doctor said COULD happen did. Every time we went to see my mom she looked worse and worse.

I could tell that my dad was trying not to scare us and he spent most of the time at the hospital so our grandma moved in with us. We played games and got treats, but I still couldn’t stop thinking about my mom. At school all the teachers kept asking about my mom and I just said she was feeling better.

When my mom had to have a third surgery I was starting to really worry. My family had started a blog called so that family and friends could keep track of her progress. Reading her blog we realized that people around the globe were following my mom’s progress. People my mom hadn’t seen in 12 years were following the blog. Random people would call and say Jodi we are praying for you and we hope you get better. Everywhere we went people would look at my mom and say, “Hey, are you that person on the blog?” and they would talk for hours. Throughout everything she went through she was always happy and positive and didn’t complain. She is the kind of person that makes people feel good when they talk to her.

Finally my mom then had her 4th and last surgery and I was so happy that it was almost over. Then when the doctors said my mom was good enough to be let out from the hospital we threw a surprise party for her and at least 50 people were at our house when she arrived home. And I was so happy that finally it was over. But it wasn’t really over because even now, a year later, her face is still paralyzed and one eye doesn’t work right. But to me she is more beautiful than ever and I love and appreciate her more than I did before. I have an awesome mom."
By Trenden Brown

I couldn't ask for a nicer tribute! Happy Mother's Day to all of you!

Friday, May 7, 2010

. . . . . .My Favorite Times of the Day

When little Daven wakes up (like clockwork between 7:15 and 7:50 am) he runs in to find me and jumps in my arms to welcome the morning. I wish I could make those moments last forever. This is one of my favorite times of the day.
When I see my sweet Lindi grab a book to read to her brothers, this is one of my favorite times of the day.

When I "catch" Trenden playing the keyboard, just because he wants to, when he thinks no one is watching, this is one of my favorite times of the day.

And when we say family prayer at the close of night, and I get to hear the loving and simple words of faith to the Father, this is one of my favorite times of the day. My favorite prayer currently is by Casen, who gently utters, "Please help Mom's eye to get better and help that her brain will start working again!" Yes, these are my favorite times of the day! What are yours?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

. . . . . . .And the Winners Are

Before I announce the winners of my little blog contest, I want to tell you the reason I did a contest. Yes, it was in celebration of 25k vistors, but more than that, it is to recognize and thank all of YOU for inpspiring me.

* Like a good book that keeps you pondering long after you've put it down, all of you have left notes of love in my heart that I think about often.

* You warmed my soul by "being there" for me when I needed you most, through cards, notes and love sent through the airwaves.

* You rooted for me and pulled for me, even when I was the "underdog" and it looked like I didn't have a chance at making it.

* When you gathered for prayer at the end of the day, you remembered me, and prayed for me by name, even if you'd never met me.

* You plead to God and asked for a miracle, and because of all of YOU, He granted me with many.

Thank you for keeping me going when the days are rough and the load seems too much to bear. I know that you have been sent by my Savior above to be the angels in my life.

And the Winners Are:

"Krista", The Perfect Stranger, from Utah, wins a $25 AMC Movies Gift Card!!

Dom Hammett, Martinez, Georgia, wins a $15 Applebees Gift Card!!

"Fenwick Family", wins a $10 Jamba Juice Gift Card!!

Winners, please email me your addresses so I get your gifts out my door and into yours!

I wish I could give you all a gift, just to say I love you! Thank you for being part of my world!

. . . . . . .Fancy Get Up

As I promised, here are some pictures from the formal gala I attended the other night with my dear friends. One of our co-workers, Jean, is missing from the picture. She left before we could snap the shot!

What a wonderful evening it was, celebrating the hospital we love and the friendships we cherish!

The first two photos are of all of us the last time we were all together, October 2005!! Now, nearly 5 years later, we were together again in our fancy get ups! :)

Kelly, Jodi, Carol, Jean and Noellee Jodi, Carol, Joey, Jean and Noellee from the McKay-Dee Hospital Foundation, 2005.

The gang together again, April 30, 2010, in honor of the 100-year anniversary of McKay-Dee Hospital.

Me at home, before Kelly came to pick me up! It's fun to get fancy once in a while!!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

. . . . . . Last Chance & Friends Reunion

Today and tomorrow morning are your last chances to enter the gift card prize drawing! Simply leave a comment on the blog and you will be entered to win!!!

This weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to get together with some dear friends of mine. We all used to work together in a group that was synergistic, cohesive and more like family than co-workers. We reunited to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the hospital where we all worked. It was a fabulous evening of memories, hugs, laughter and fun. I am so glad I got to go! As soon as one of my dear friends emails me the pictures, I will post some on the blog. We were all dressed up for the formal affair and I think we cleaned up pretty nicely! :)

Every friendship means more to me now than ever before. I truly appreciate the individuality of each person and what they bring into my life. From old friends to new acquaintances, it is a blessing to have such wonderful people in my life! Love you all!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

. . . . . . .Scary Dreams

Friday night I had a dream that was so real, it scared me even after I was awake. In my dream, my eustation tube had somehow come unstitched and my spinal fluid leak had started again. I could feel when it happened, as there was a "pop" in my ear. In the dream, I became concerned about germs causing an infection in my brain, or air getting in, and causing pneumocephalus again. I kept trying to call my doctors but no one was available and I was starting to panic from fear. I dialed the numbers over and over again, but no one ever answered. As the dream went on, I could "feel" air silently creeping in and putting my life in danger.

When I awoke Saturday morning, I was exhausted and felt like I could go right back to bed. I told Tolan about the dream and he speculated it was a result of the trauma I have been through in the last year.

Well, I am certainly grateful it was a dream, and not reality, but no matter how much I try to "move on", I find myself reliving some of the difficult days and scary moments. Part of me is still in shock that it all happened. It almost feels like an out of body experience, where I could see it happening, but it wasn't really me. I am so thankful for my life and I feel peace with where I am, so I am not sure why these dreams or "fears" are still so gripping. Why am I fine one day, then sobbing the next, as I think about what could have been?

Though I have no answers, I do have gratitude for the experiences. They are a reminder of how precious life is and where my priorities should stay focused.

If anyone has theories on why this is still happening, I'd love to hear. Thanks. Love you all.