Monday, June 29, 2009

Looking for more miracles

{{editing to add a picture of Lily. She is so precious and I just want to hold her and give Megan the biggest hug in the world right now.}}
My little sister, Megan, finally had her first baby last Wednesday. Little Lily Sarah Stafford was 11 days overdue and in many ways, her arrival has long been waited for. Even before her birth, Megan and Chris knew there may be a heart issue, so Lily was taken to the Children's hospital in Denver shortly after birth (Megan delivered at a birthing center). After a couple days, the heart was looking fine, but Lily was having a hard time eating. Apparently she hasn't been sucking on even a bottle nipple. But I was told by my mom, that they'd be able to take her home once she started eating better and gaining some weight.

Then, yesterday, while at a big family gathering with Paul's family, my dad called to let me know that Lily has taken a turn downhill. His news was pretty grim and he told me about multiple seizures that Lily was having and the fact that she wasn't digesting the food they'd put in her stomach. Dad said that they really didn't know what was wrong. So, all afternoon, I was worried to death that Lily wasn't going to make it.

Thankfully, when I talked to my mom later that night, the news wasn't as grim (by the way, Dad, when it comes to passing along news in the family... you're fired! The picture he paints has now been worse than reality TWICE). Anyway, the doctors had done a CT scan with everything looking just fine with the brain. The heart is just fine. They'd done a spinal tap to check for meningitis, and thankfully, we now know there is no infection. She's had a slightly elevated temperature and heartrate, and she has started to digest some of the milk they've given her. The seizures have also stopped with some medication they've given her. As of right now, I'm still not aware if they know what's going on. But the head doctor of the NICU has been handling her case and is very optimistic that everything will be okay.

So, for anyone out there with extra room on their prayer list, please send one out there for Lily, Megan, and Chris Stafford. I'm sure they won't mind the extra faith and prayers sent their way. Thanks. As my mom told us siblings this morning, "We have been blessed with many miracles this year already, but I will still ask for more." So will I.

A bike ride first

This morning I went on a bike ride. It was long and difficult because I decided to ride up one of the nearby canyons. There was a minute there that I wasn't sure if I could make it up this really tough hill! After I'd had enough climbing fun (which was only 4 hills into the canyon) I turned my bike around and cruised down those same hills at my fastest speed yet on a bike (about 35 mph). On the way down, I felt something hit my right shoulder and then shortly after, something stung me! Leaning forward with the wind blowing against me, my shirt was pretty open at the neck and a stupid little bee flew in and got me at the base of my ribs... OUCH!

This was my first bee sting ever! And I was sort of freaking out because I was riding downhill very quickly (which is scary anyway) and worried about getting stung multiple times. Thankfully, I didn't get anymore stings, and I found out I'm NOT allergic to bee stings! It didn't sting for too long, so I was able to go another 7 miles. I ended my bike ride having ridden the furthest I've ever gone (20 miles), having climbed the start of my first canyon, and having experienced my first bee sting! It was a pretty eventful morning! When I got home and sat down, I found that sorry little bee struggling to climb up my shoulder. I helped him out by throwing him in the toilet! I hope that taught him a lesson!

Mommy time bliss

On Saturday this past weekend, Paul and I took the boys up to North Ogden for a high school choir reunion. It was held at one of those awesome "aquatic centers" that many cities in Utah now have which is what saved my sanity for the event. Paul was able to see a handful of old aquaintances along with his old choir director and his family. Paul spent the afternoon hanging out in the bowery shooting the breeze (he never even got in his swimsuit), while the boys and I played away in the water and the sun. It really was a fun little afternoon event and all of the boys were ticked when it was time to go, even though we'd been there for over 4 hours. Each of the boys got a bit of a sunburn, but nothing they can't survive!

We got home at about 5:30 pm and Paul's plan was to go hang out at his parents since so much family was in town for the twin's farewell. Knowing the kids would be able to roam around and play, I asked Paul if I could head up to the Downeast outlet in Orem to do some dress shopping. Since losing the weight, I've purchased enough shorts and capris to get me through the summer, but my options for sunday attire were pretty limited. He actually let me go ALL. BY. MYSELF!!!

I gotta tell ya, it was BLISS! Guilt-free, time-limit-free, mommy-actually-gets-to-go-shopping-in-a-store time is extremely rare for me. I do get plenty of opportunities to leave the house alone, but I'm usually on my way to work, or someone else is watching the kids, so I always need to hurry back. But this time, I just moseyed around, picked up everything I thought was cute, and tried it all on without having to hurry. I ended up getting a cute, cotton, knit, black dress that will work for any type of occasion with a red tank top to wear underneath (practically all their clothes require an undershirt), and a denim skirt and a fun, yellow shirt. Ahhh. It was so nice to have options on Sunday morning!

Then, to top it off, the Downeast store is right by a Cafe Rio restaurant. I know everyone makes fun of how trendy it is to eat at Cafe Rio, but I love that pork salad and could eat one everyday! So, I treated myself to a salad and sat in my car and ate the whole thing! Mmmmm! After that, I felt sufficiently spoiled and headed to Mapleton to join Paul and the boys at Grandma's house. I know it's dumb to make such a big deal about an hour and a half of alone time, but it really was wonderful!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Phenomenal Book

I just finished the book, "The 5000 Year Leap" by Cleon Skousen and just want to talk about it briefly here on my blog to get the word out about it. It's a book about the 28 principles on which the founding fathers based the constitution and their hope for America as a republic. I know it sounds a bit on the boring side for those who prefer novels and fiction, but it's actually formatted in a manner that is easy to digest and understand. The chapters are short with lots of quotes from the founding fathers.

Just to give you an idea, here are the principles: (After a few, it might start looking like "blah, blah, blah" but each one really is important!)
1. The only reliable basis for sound government and just human relations is natural law.
2. A free people cannot survive under a republican constitution unless they remain virtuous and morally strong.
3. The most promising method of securing a virtuous and morally stable people is to elect virtuous leaders.
4. Without religion the government of a free people cannot be maintained.
5. All things were created by God, therfore upon Him all mankind are equally dependent, and to Him they are equally responsible.
6. All men are created equal.
7. The proper role of government is to protect equal rights, not provide equal things.
8. Men are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.
9. To protect man's rights, God has revealed certain principles of divine law.
10. The God-given right to govern is vested in the sovereign authority of the whole people.
11. The majority of the people may alter or abolish a government which has become tyrannical.
12. The United States of America shall be a republic.
13. The constitution should be structured to permanently protect the people from the human frailties of their rulers.
14. Life and liberty are secure only so long as the right to property is secure.
15. The highest level of prosperity occurs when there is a free-market economy and a minimum of government regulations.
16. The government should be separated into three branches - legislative, executive, and judicial.
17. A system of checks and balances should be adopted to prevent the abuse of power.
18. The unalienable rights of the people are most likely to be preserved if the principles of government are set forth in a written constitution.
19. Only limited and carefully defined powers should be delegated to government, all others being retained in the people.
20. Efficiency and dispatch require government to operate according to the will of the majority, but constitutional provisions must be made to protect the rights of the minority.
21. Strong local self-government is the keystone to preserving human freedom.
22. A free people should be governed by law and not by the whims of men.
23. A free society cannot survive as a republic without a broad program of general education.
24. A free people will not survive unless they stay strong.
25. Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations - entangling alliances with none.
26. The core unit which determines the strength of any society is the family; therefore, the government should foster and protect its integrity.
27. The burden of debt is as destructive to freedom as subjugation by conquest.
28. The United States has a manifest destiny to be an example and a blessing to the entire human race.

So, there are the principles. Many of them are pretty bold and in today's political climate, likely considered outdated, obsolete, and politically incorrect. I recognize that, but I don't apologize for it. I want to be the kind of person that stands up for these principles. I strive to build my home around them and teach my children about their importance. As I read the book, I was filled with feelings of hope and pride in our blessed nation. But along with it, I also felt a sense of grief and loss as I perceive that the voices from the supposed "mainstream" of our society mock these principles. It's also difficult to see what damage has been done by branches of our government stepping outside these boundaries and implementing unconstitutional policies. I'm not blaming left, right, republican or democrat, because it's happened on all sides. And I agree with Skousen as he credits Milton Friedman for having "demonstrated that every one of these adventures in non-Constitutional activities proved counter-productive, some of them tragically so."

Anyway, I rarely speak out politically in a public forum, but I guess I just did a little bit today. I loved this book and I think you should read it!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

I just wanted to take a second and wish all the wonderful father figures in my life a Happy Father's Day!

First, to my Dad. Thanks for being a wonderful father to me! Thank you for working hard and providing for our big family. Thank you for loving and respecting my mother, and in turn, teaching me that I was worth that same love and respect. Thank you for being an excellent example of faith and service and for teaching me about the gospel of Christ. Thank you for all the projects you have helped me with over the years. Thank you for supporting me in my interests as they have evolved. I love you and am so happy to be honoring a man such as you on Father's Day.

Second, to my Father-in-law. Thank you for everything you do for us! Living close to you and Mom is such a blessing. Thank you for being an active part of my children's lives. They love to be near you. Thank you for always accepting me as one of your own. Thank you for teaching me so much about the atonement. I've learned so much about it from your example. Thank you also, for your example of service to others. I admire so much the work you have been doing with the foundation. I hope you have a great Father's Day.

Third, to my husband. I love you so much. Thank you for loving me back. Thank you for serving our family in every way. Thank you for your hard work and financial support. Thank you for being an awesome dad that plays with and teaches our children. Thank you for being a worthy priesthood holder in our home and for exercising that priesthood whenever it's necessary. Thank you for being a good example to all of us with your hard work in training! I love how you are always trying to do better. Thank you for leading our home with a gentle hand and voice. I know I made an excellent choice when I picked you! Happy Father's Day, sweetie!

I have such a strong testimony in the importance of fathers. They sacrifice SO MUCH for their families and deserve our utmost respect. I recognize how incredibly lucky I am to have had such fantastic influences in my life. I wouldn't be the woman I am without the men I've had to support me. Here's a shout out to all you fathers out there. I hope you know just how influential you are.

an ABC's tag

My friend, Rachelle, tagged me to fill out this meme... and since I'll admit to enjoying doing these types of things, here I go!

A - Age: 32 and a 1/2
B - Bed size: Queen - I sleep on the right side.
C - Chore you hate: As evidenced by my house, pretty much ALL OF THEM. I hate bathrooms the most though.
D - Dog's name: no dogs, just boys. Favorite dogs from childhood were Chief and Mugsy
E - Essential start your day item: sunscreen moisturizer
F - Favorite color(s): Chocolate brown
G - Gold or Silver: gold jewelry, silver decorating
H - Height: 5' 5"
I - Instruments you play: voice, piano, guitar
J - Job title: wife, mom, speech therapist, stampin' up! demonstrator
K - Kids: 3 - all of them boys
L - Living arrangements: we live in a twin home.
M - Mom's name: Liz and Rhyll (rhymes with Bill)
N - Nicknames: Mom - by my kids, "Nana, Dee-dee"- by my family, "Di"- by old friends, "Dina"-by nieces & nephews that are young, "doll, dear"- by Paul
O - Overnight hospital stay other than birth: 4 times, one for each pregnancy
P - Pet Peeve: when people type 'your' when they should type 'you're'. I'm a grammar nazi, part of my job description!
Q - Quote from a movie: "No more rhymes now, I mean it!" "Anybody want a peanut?" Princess Bride
R - Right or left handed: right
S - Siblings: 5 sisters, 2 brothers, 6 sisters-in-law, 10 brothers-in-law
T - Time you wake up: varies. during the summer it's around 7:30
U - Underwear: all white, 'cept for special occasions ;)
V - Vegetable you dislike: jalapeno and onions
W - Workout style: running, biking, swimming, weights, yoga
X - X-rays you've had: spine, teeth, and a bunch of ultrasounds (do those count?)
Y - Yesterday's best moment: watching Paul finish 1st in his age group at his olympic triathlon! Way to go, love!
Z - Zoo favorite(s): gorilla, tiger, elephants

Now you know my ABC's! Go ahead... sing with me!

Friday, June 19, 2009

two little comments

So, I've just got two little comments to make today.

#1 - T-ball has to be the most HUMONGOUS waste of time! It's sort of funny to watch just how COMPLETELY clueless these little 5-6 year-olds (though some of them are shorter than Charlie, I'm sure) can be at baseball, but it's also sort of really annoying and pointless. Canon is the one playing T-ball. Andy never got that chance, but he's doing okay in his coach pitch baseball, making me think, "wonder if Canon will notice if we just stop going to his games?" Nah, we'll stick it out, but the whole thing just makes me shake my head.

#2 - It literally feels like I am NEVER going to lose this last 2 lbs. I've been within 1 lb of my goal weight for 4 weeks now, though for 3 of these weeks, I didn't go weigh in. Last night, I weighed in at 145.8. Getting under 145 is the goal here. So, I guess I was able to figure out how to lose 41 pounds, but not 42... Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr! I'm planning on doing another triathlon in July, so hopefully, increasing my workouts again will help. We'll see. Last night was pretty discouraging. And I'm sure it didn't help that I rewarded myself for the .4 lb weight gain by eating some Sour Patch kids, half of Charlie's dinner, and some frozen yogurt! Better go and write down my points for today so far so I know how many lettuce leaves I can eat for dinner!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A really WET hike!

Last week while in Denver, we opted to go hiking with my sister-in-law, Rebekah, and her 5 darling children! We drove to a state park south of Denver a ways called Castlewood Canyon. It's a bit out of the way, but it's a pretty little canyon and a kid friendly place to hike. Unfortunately, when I was packing for our trip to Denver, I didn't expect it to be as cold as it was all week long! I DID pack jeans for everyone, but no long-sleeve shirts and no jackets for any of us! We ate our lunches before heading off on the hike, which turned out to be the smartest thing of the whole day! After a quick potty break, we were on our way!

All the bigger kids, ranging in age from 12 year-old Brooklyn, to our 6 year-olds Canon & Eliza, went on ahead with Paul while Rebekah and I walked along with Charlie and Jeanette, and their newly halfblind little dog, Penny. These two kiddos are so cute together!
They wanted to jump off of every rock along the trail, but that was slowing us down significantly! We met up with the big kids at this beautiful overlook. Paul is showing the boys some sort of wildlife.
They all walked ahead and we met up with them again at this stream.

It was already getting windy with dark clouds rolling over us, so the kids didn't get to play much in the creek. By the time we got much beyond this point here,

it began to rain... HARD... with HAIL!!! Carrying two little toddlers and 6 other kids in tow, it was a semi-stressful situation. The last place you want to be during a flash flood is at the bottom of a canyon. But once the hail passed and we were completely and utterly DRENCHED, we just kept walking as quickly as we could back to the top where our cars were parked. We did stop for a minute to hide from the hail and huge raindrops, but ultimately, had to keep moving. Look how miserable Charlie looks!

By the time we reached the top, it had mostly stopped raining... OF COURSE!! Here's how we looked after the drama subsided!

I know... attractive!

We were scheduled to spend the evening with my cousin, David, and his darling wife and daughter in their new home. Since the last people you want to look like a total dump in front of is Dave & Becca, we opted to spend a couple hours at Scott & Rebekah's house to get washed up and run our clothes through the wash. It was great to get to spend some more time with our cousins and Rebekah. We definitely don't get to see them often enough. It was also very nice to be clean and dry as we spent some good, quality time (as well as a delicious dinner) with Dave, Becca, and Genevieve. Despite the weather, it turned out to be a great day.
So that was our little adventure in the rain (or at least one of them... it rained on us at the Denver Zoo the day before as well). It's too bad we had to hurry so fast out of there. It really was beautiful and it would have been so nice to leisurely walk through this canyon! We'll have to schedule another hike for our boys this summer. We don't get them outdoors enough and they enjoyed it!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Seeing Spencer

We just got back from our first trip to Colorado since Christmas. I was so anxious to get over there that we left the weekend after all my teaching obligations were finished. I'm always excited to see my family and to take a trip to Colorado, but this time, I needed to get over there so I could see Spencer.

The last time I saw Spencer, he looked like this.
Now, he looks like this!

Not too bad, eh?! He looks a little different because he's lost some weight and now wears glasses, but other than that, we've got our Spencer back! Even though we got out to Denver on Saturday night, we weren't able to see Spencer, Jen and their girls until Tuesday evening. I was so happy when they arrived at my parents house! I'd talked with Spencer on the phone, but nothing was better than seeing him walk in with a smile on his face. I'm happy to report that he is doing so well! I stopped doing "Spencer updates" a while back once he started making fast progress in the rehab unit at Spaulding Hospital in Denver. He made amazing strides in his physical therapy, quickly mastering all the basics and then moving beyond them to strengthen any muscle weakness he had. He also made impressive progress with his speech therapy and all the cognitive rehab. They had him practicing mental drills that most of us would have real difficulty with. I'm so grateful for how hard they pushed him. Spencer has always been a very smart guy and they needed to get him back to his rocket scientist/engineer status. Thankfully, this happened/is happening very quickly.

Spencer got to leave the hospital the Sunday we left on our cruise (first weekend of May). The whole family was together (except us, unfortunately) and he was able to participate in my little nephew's baby blessing that day. Since then, he's been doing outpatient rehab and has continued to make such amazing progress that he actually went back to work last Thursday while we were still in town. His therapist went with him to do an assessment on what needs may arise as he enters the work place again (i.e. can he actually see the computer screen?). I talked to Spencer that afternoon again and he sounded so happy and positive. He said he didn't realize how much he'd missed being at work! Thankfully, he has a job that he enjoys and colleagues that have stood by him with nothing but 100% support. I think it was great for Spencer to see that he was missed. It's always nice to be needed. They even have some projects they are ready for him to get working on. It looks like he'll be going in twice this next week, three times the week after that, and apparently, he's wanting to work everyday in July. Hopefully that's with shortened hours, but who knows?! I am so amazed by all of this.

So, for the most part, Spencer will have his life back. Of course, it will never be like the accident never happened. He is now blind in his left eye and will now always need to wear glasses. Using a contact in his good eye is too risky, because if he gets an infection or scratches the cornea or something, he doesn't have back up. We're lucky that we haven't seen any major personality changes as a result of the brain injury. The main difference is that Spencer is much more chatty than before! No offense, Spence, but you almost talk as much as Dad and me now! I love it! My favorite thing to report, though, is that he's still our awesome, silly, ol' Spencey who refuses to look normal in pictures! You can't see it well, but he's crossing his eyes in this picture with Jen and Greta!

Spencer said that he's hoping to start running again. I don't know why, but this fills me with happiness! He's wanting to run the Bolder Boulder 10K next year in May and Paul and I promised that if he did it, we'd come out and run it with him. I think running 6.2 miles next to my brother who potentially could have never walked again as a result of this accident would be one of the best ways I could spend an hour! Hopefully, he doesn't intend to become wicked fast, but if he does, I'll do what I can to rise to the challenge!

I'm so proud of my brother. I'm so happy that he is getting his life back. I'm proud of how well they've been hanging in there together as a family. I'm so grateful to Jennifer for her love and support for Spencer. I'm sure that in the last 2.5 months she has felt the full spectrum of emotions, from debilitating panic to the deepest joy and relief. She has amazing strength and I admire her in every way. She is truly an elect lady and I love her so much! What a journey they have travelled together.

So even though we had some other great adventures this last week, seeing Spencer was the highlight for me. Love ya, Spence! Keep up the great work!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Last weeks 5K

It's been a very busy week, being on vacation in Denver, and all! But I wanted to post quickly about the 5K I did last Saturday with my friends.

Anyway, the race went really well. I didn't get much sleep the night before because Paul was on a father/son campout with Andy and Canon. I don't know why it's so hard to actually go to bed when your spouse isn't there! I also rarely sleep well the night before a race... you know, all those crazy dreams about being late and not being able to find your shoes. I did manage to get some sleep and woke up early to get ready and drop off Charlie at Emily's house. An awesome young woman in our ward (thanks again, Sarah!) was willing to come over at 6:45 am to watch our two toddlers. She was an angel and total life saver for both Emily and me!

We got to the high school and got registered. I had meant to register weeks ahead of time, but never managed to. I was actually glad, though, because they were out of their lame t-shirts, meaning the registration was only $10 instead of $15! Sweet! We then spent some time looking for some of our other friends running the race. Those we saw from the ward were Jina, Monica, and Tina. It was fun to have so many people to congratulate at the end of the race! This picture is of Emily, Jina and me.

The race started right at 7:30, but because there were SO MANY PEOPLE packed in at the starting line, it took a good 5-10 seconds before you could even start moving! I quickly took off, though, and weaved in and out of people until I could find some space to run. It's amazing how much easier it is to run at a quicker pace when you have other people running with you. A lot of my running lately has been solo. I was able to keep my pace between a 9-9:30 minute pace for most of the three miles, with some slowing down during and after the hill. I felt really good, though, and just kept pushing it along! That 3rd mile is always the toughest for me, though. The race ended with a lap around the track and once I saw the timer above the finish line, I really tried to kick it into gear and finish before the clock hit 28:30. Once the times were posted as we were leaving, it said my official time was 28:28! I was so thrilled! Here is a picture of myself, Monica, Jina and Emily after the race was finished. We hung around after to see if we won any of the cool raffle prizes, but unfortunately, none of our numbers were called. Better luck next year, I guess!

This wasn't my fastest time for a 5K, but this one felt especially good to me. Last year when all my friends and I did a 5K on July 24th in Mapleton, I came in DEAD LAST by many MINUTES! I wasn't out to prove anything this year, but I did want to redeem myself a little. I admit that it feels good that I came in fastest this time, but it's not something I expect to do everytime. Emily is going to be catching me any day now! But, all my friends ended up doing a really great job with this race and I am so proud of them! I'm glad that running is something we all enjoy doing together. Thanks for a fun morning, gals!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Happy Birthday, Canon!

My little monkey, Canon, turned 6 today. I know it is SOOOO cliche to say it, but it is amazing how fast time goes by. I sure love this little feller! I thought in honor of his birthday this year, I would come up with a little mini Canon happy list.

Things about Canon that make me happy:
1. his freckles
2. his squinty smile and how much he "cheeses" it for pictures these days.
3. his energy for life
4. his affectionate nature
5. his ability to finish a whole math facts homework page without me standing over him!
6. how he LOVES to be tickled
7. his readiness to grow into whatever comes next!
8. how easy he was to potty train all those years ago
9. the cute things he says ("Mom, chores are for big year-olds!")
10. that he loves to dance and watches 'So You Think You Can Dance' with me.
11. his friendly and outgoing ways
12. he's a happy kid who smiles a lot
13. he's easy to make laugh (REALLY easy!)
14. he is teachable and a fast learner
15. that he's no longer a kindergartner (I hate that schedule!)!!!
16. his love for anything boyish (spiderman, star wars, super heroes, sports, etc.)
17. that he always wants to sit by me
18. his confidence in himself
19. that he's now saying his /r/ sounds correctly (after 2+ years of nagging)!!!

Today we had a friend birthday party for him over at his Grandma's house. Grandma's awesome and friendly neighbor let us bring 12 kids over to their pool and swim for an hour. It was a great day for swimming and all the kids had fun. After drying off a bit, we went back over to Grandma's yard to open presents and eat cupcakes. When figuring how many kids were coming to the party, I neglected to add my own boys and an extra niece to the headcount and didn't get enough cupcakes. Paul and I had a bit of a squabble about it, but no major drama ensued (well, maybe just a little) except that Paul accidentally took the camera with him when he went to get more cupcakes against my wishes. I took some pictures of Canon opening his presents with my phone, and Paul caught these pictures after the kids had already eaten their blue frosting cupcakes! We missed the whole singing "happy birthday" event and that ugly yearly picture of blowing out the candles. Ah well. Overall, it was a fine little party for my extremely low standards. My friend, Rachelle, would never approve because she throws ridiculously amazing parties for her boys (I'm so jealous of her hostessing skillz), but it was good enough for me because it actually happened! I was pretty tuckered out, though, afterwords.

Canon's cupcake ring!
Couldn't help but point out all that icing on his face again!
The carnage!!

So, happy birthday big guy! I'm happy to be celebrating your life. Each day being your mom is a gift. Your daddy and I love you so much.