Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Delayed Announcement

I wish I were more organized,
I would send these out in the mail.
But since I'm not, no sense in not sharing
 our baby announcements anyway!
These are some of the beautiful photos my sweet friend Robin took of Natalie last month.  Natalie cried nearly the entire time, but Robin was patient and kind.  There were over a hundred amazing pictures, and this is only a smidgen of them.  I am sure I will find excuses to share more of them in the future!
Robin is an amazing lady in other ways.  She calls herself a meteor magnet, because if one fell from space, it would seriously hit someone in her family.  Several of her children have some pretty intense health concerns, and the folks at the ER know the family by name.  Robin herself has not evaded the meteors.  Health issues have haunted her as well, and her mother was recently near death and was hospitalized for several weeks.  Let's say the girl knows stress.  But her faith is strong and she is a great example of perseverance as she holds it all together.
Oh, and babies love her.

I am grateful for the talents my friends have been blessed with.  Some are like Robin, with artistic talents, amazing energy and creativity.  Others, like Melissa, Kathy, Francine and Chantal are wonderful active-listeners who make therapy unnecessary.  Some, like Danielle, Madelaine, Joanna, Amanda and Krista show up, and by showing up bring comfort and help (Robin is also one of these). 
 Some make me laugh,
 some share their faith,
some wipe tears
and some join right in to shed them. 
“We are all in this together. We need each other. Oh, how we need each other. Those of us who are old need you who are young, and hopefully, you who are young need some of us who are old...We need deep and satisfying and loyal friendships with each other. These friendships are a necessary source of sustenance. We need to renew our faith every day. We need to lock arms and help build the kingdom so that it will roll forth and fill the whole earth.”
Marjorie Pay Hinkley
Standing on the bed to get the perfect shot.
If you would like to hire Robin to take your family or baby photos,
check out her website
You will love her!!! (We do!)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mostly UP-dates, and a few downdates

Photography by Tessa
 (if you want to have some photo-edit fun, check out Picasa for free. 
This photo uses sepia, soft focus and glow effects.)

There are so many things
 going on these days, that a few updates are in order:
My dad is in the hospital right now (at midnight) after a mild heart attack, having surgery for a twisted intestine.  We are praying hard.
On a lighter note, Tessa's hamster (mistakenly called Nibbles in the hamster post, but that was the former hamster's name.  This one is ChimChim.  I was tired when I wrote that one!), anyway, ChimChim is very much alive.  Go figure.  He looks like Quasi-Moto, with a big giant lump in his shoulder, but he is very much alive, and is somehow getting slightly better each day, though he may never fit in his tube again.
Tessa's tummy trouble is finally getting the attention we have been asking for.  I will be attending a class for her and we will get one-on-one time with a specialist.  We are hoping that she will be out of pain soon.
I have a leg scan tomorrow. 
 My blood thinners are effectively making me have red water for blood.  My leg oozed for two days after the clot removal and the bruise is impressive.  No sky diving or knife juggling for a while.  Swimming with sharks - also out.
Our dog, Toby, who was acting like he might die back in December, and again the week the baby was born, is back to semi-puppy mode.  He will be 14 soon.
Adam is excited to be enrolling in public school.  It was not my choice for him, but we allowed him to make the decision for himself.  He walked to the school, got the enrollment forms, filled them out, and asked his dad to help him drop them off.  I hope he has a great year.
Natalie girl weighed 9 pounds at her appointment the other day, and has been diagnosed with reflux.  The medicine seems to be helping, and in combination with Kid-E-Col (herbal colic tonic), simethicone (which, by the way, makes for some impressive toots) and my elimination diet, she is feeling much better.  Also she is adorable and smiling a ton now.  And I adore her.  And she is just the prettiest baby ever.  Sorry, it is true.
Yes, it says 9 lb 4 oz, but that was with dipe.  Sans dipe, 9.2, tummy full.
She also has developed a pretty bad umbilical hernia.  It sticks out like a little balloon.  Updates on that when we know more  (the picture above shows the hernia, but 2 days later it freakishly tripled in size).
The following creatures are living in my house: one dog, two hamsters, one 4 foot red iguana, two leopard geckos (and their little egg :) ...), one tarantula and one huge black widow spider in a jar.
I may have diabetes. 
Tests pending my 12 week post partum visit.
My Kindle book Coping with a Miscarriage has been selling about 15 copies a month, and I got my first consumer review... 5 stars.  Not too shabby.
I am currently working on a collection of my favorite posts from this blog for my SECOND Kindle book.  My goal is to be able to pay our monthly car payment with the earnings.
We had a shooting the other day here on our block.  Two bullets went into neighbors' houses on either side of us, but missed ours.  The shooter was on foot and shooting at a moving car in the early evening, sun still shining.  Ridiculous. 
I have added dishwasher repair to my home appliance repair lineup.  This time a nasty problem (Tessa FORCED the door shut with something stuck down in the hinge and bent the hinge so the door couldn't shut) cost exactly ZERO dollars.  Yay for mama and her handy-dandy pliers!!!
I walked around the block.  I was slow and had to be barefoot because of my leg pain, but I did it!
I am back to doing laundry, sweeping, and being completely ignored by my children. 
Except for the blood clot business, life is feeling kind of normal again.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Photography by Jonah Boy

Kinda feels like
 everything is spinning
a little off kilter.

Like maybe I should be putting some things in order.

Maybe I need to be prepared,
just in case.

Its not about a lack of faith.
Its about understanding that rain falls
on everyone


it might be wise to
the storm.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Once, Twice, Three times...

The double doors... where all the magic happens.
 "What are you going to do
 with the rest of your day?"  I asked Guy.
"This."  He answered.
"Silly.  We'll be home in about an hour."  I oh-so-wrongly replied.
12 days ago my leg started feeling stiff and a little painful.  Kind'a reddish. 
8 days ago I went to a physical therapy appointment.  My balance is very unstable and my strength and range of motion are nil.  But when the PT saw my leg, she was nervous to touch it.
4 days ago a new doctor looked at my leg and decided that even though it looked okay-ish, my history begged her to further question what she saw.
An hour later we were in the South Hospital getting a leg scan. 
The tech turned out to be Jane, the very same woman who first found my first clot.
She hugged me when she saw me and said, "We started this together."
She took a long, careful time as she scanned.  The blood was flowing out of my leg, she could see, but somehow it did not look right.  She called in another tech who glanced for a few moments and then quipped, "Looks good" and left.  Jane continued scanning, and then said that she "just had a feeling" that something was not right.  She would send a note along with the scan to ask the doctor to look carefully at a few things.
3 days ago I got a message from kind Dr. F. saying that the ultrasound looked good, but if I was worried he would do a contrast angiogram and just make sure.  I almost said no, but that little voice in my head said to take him up on the offer.
One of these things is not like the other...
Yesterday we arrived at the hospital first thing in the morning.  I was casually prepped by the people who used to be strangers, but who now cheerfully greet me by name.  I had not the slightest bit of nervousness.  Sweet Velma and Dinnah admitted me, and David and Jim prepped my leg.  Soon Dr. F. was doing his thing, poking holes, shooting dye, taking ex-rays.
Then he broke the news.  My stents were blocked.  It was unclear if my artery had collapsed the stent, if the stent had perhaps shifted and the artery was now compressing the vein, or if, far more unlikely due to the blood thinners, I had a new clot.  All he could see was that those collateral veins (that had saved my leg health before by creating a bypass routing blood flow to my right leg) were back up and running, full steam.  The dye in my blood illuminated the vein in my leg and abruptly stopped.
Dr. F. was clearly disappointed, almost dejected.

There was another patient waiting, and since I had not been on the docket for an extended procedure I was wheeled into recovery to wait a bit.  Guy came in with the baby, happily chatting with a nurse, thinking we were going home.
I told him the news.  We processed.
While we waited, he called Bishop and asked him to come help Guy to give me a blessing.  He came just in time, and we asked Dr. F. to join us in prayer.  I wanted him there to feel the spirit and to hear the words of encouragement and peace that I knew would be spoken.  I needed this doctor to cheer up, feel inspired and directed, and to know we are all praying for him.  I wanted him to feel the power of the One who has been guiding this whole process.
Waiting for the procedure to be finished.
 More prepping; Andy started an IV and Claudet buzzed around me, hooking me up to heart monitors and taking vitals.

 We went back in through the double doors.
Dr. F. went back into my leg, this time with tools.  It became clear that the stents were now blocked by new blood clots - about 8 inches of them.  Guided by x-ray, he began the careful process of breaking them up and removing them using the drugs that we had refused back when I was pregnant with Natalie.  Because the clots were in the stents, it was less painful than I had imagined it would be.  The most intense pain was in my tender leg vein up in my thigh and from some of the ballooning he did deep in my pelvis.  Really, I was relieved that it was not as bad as before, and I had medication on board to help.
When he was done, Dr. F. held pressure on the entry point in my leg for a while because it continued to bleed.  It took so long that he called my buddy Noss, one of my favorite techs, over to continue with the pressure.  A half an hour later I was still bleeding.  Finally, 40 minutes after the procedure was complete, the bleeding stopped.  I lay still in recovery so as not to start bleeding again, and Guy worked on feeding the baby donated milk (thank you Kathy and Krista!!!), who had blessedly slept the entire time.

We got home last night in time to head over to the Boy Scout fundraiser at church. 
I felt amazingly good, considering the day. 
I was happy to see friends. 
Glad to be with people I love. 
Thrilled to be walking and holding my girl.
We ate and laughed, bid way too much on a cake and a pie (good cause, you see), and then brought Bishop's family home with us to enjoy the desserts together.
This week we've learned of 2 people who have endured amputations due to vein issues and clotting.  We are unbelievably blessed to have been through this for the third time now, and to still be able to walk. 
When Bishop came, the verse he had shared with us was simple and profound;
"Be Still, and Know that I am God."
We know.

Dolly girl slept the entire day. 
I sang "Once, Twice, Three times a blood clot" to her. 
Lionel Richie would be proud.
 Next step: Dr. F. has ordered weekly leg scans, has raised my blood thinners even more, and is conferring with his mentor, Dr. H., one of the leading vascular specialist in the US and internationally known.  He is sending my scans to him at Stanford.

Last night Dr. F. texted with my new dosages and asked me to keep Dr. H. in my prayers.
We are not the only ones whose faith is growing through all this.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Beautiful Vistas

Ten pounds of sugar! 
(Post edit: Whoops!  Found out she is barely 9 pounds!)
 I love this view.
I like to sit in this chair and look out of this window.
From this spot I watch the kids play,
the black phoebe bird hunt for spiders,
 the grass grow too long,
and the daffodils and roses come and go,
year after year.
I don't know why but for some reason
I haven't been looking out the window much lately.
Another one of my favorite views; Guy holding a baby.  Double sweet.

Double Dipping

Everybody knows why you go to Costco. 
It's the samples.
But if you are Tessa, you have to pass them up. 
I know how she feels, and now that I am back in the boat with her she is very happy to have someone share her ore.  It's not that misery loves company.  She feels like we are partners.  She gets a kick out of sharing her rice milk, her gluten-free cereal and her dairy free cheese.  We talk about how it feels to be left out when goodies show up.
So Saturday I took Tessa someplace where she could double dip her ore if she wanted to.
 in Sacramento had their anniversary party with vendors, sale items
and SAMPLES!!!!
Tessa invited Ellie.  I invited Natalie.  We had a girl's day out.
We sampled. 
And sampled some more.
(Yea for PB&J granola, nay for seaweed snacks!)
It was so fun to see her feeling normal.
It was just plain fun.

Faves: Pamela's Chocolate Cookies
Pamela's Flour Mixture
The Cultured Kitchen's Cashew based dips
Eco-Kids Cereal
In other news...
Had a leg scan today.
It was unclear.
There have been some new symptoms.
We are waiting to hear more, maybe tomorrow.
Could be more clotting.
Could be an arterial problem.
Could be my body is just trying to find a
new normal.
I'm not worried.  Things are going to be okay.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

All Smiles

For a solid hour my darling little girl
 lay in my arms today and loved me back. 
She has been so sad. 
 She sleeps, she nurses, and she screams. 
We (meaning I) have eliminated:
pretty much we have eliminated everything but air.
She wakes squealing.  She looks fine and then begins to pull up her knees and fuss.  She cries every waking moment for hours on end.
I was giving up.
I've ordered some herbal baby-belly tonic for colic
and am prepared if I need to take her to the doctor
 (I think it might be reflux) to get medicine. 
Guy and I went to my physical therapy appointment this afternoon.  The doctor gave me lots of exercises to do to get my legs strong again, to build up my balance and get back my range of motion, and she noticed that my leg looks odd.
I noticed too.
Its reddish, and has been feeling a little tighter
and tinglier and more painful for a few days.
I guess we will be going back for an ultrasound.
But Natalie slept the whole time.
Then we stopped to visit my friend Laura to show her the baby.
Natalie was happy the whole time.
We went by the fish store to return a nearly-dead fish.
Natalie was fine.
We popped over to Krista's and Robin's to pick a few things up
and Natalie cried a bit, but once we got home she was fine.
We sat together and she started smiling
over and over.
For a whole hour she stared into my eyes
and returned my smiles.
It might have been a fluke. 
We might not get to see this particular happy baby again, but wow,
what a great hour, and what a great afternoon.

Our 5th child to get Guy's dimples.  Lucky girl.

She's lookin' like she may be a redhead...

Monday, July 8, 2013

Move Over, Bellagio

In the past 24 hours
 I have been covered in:
muddy grass clippings
crying children (3 at once)
hamster blood

Certainly the hamster blood was the most exotic of the messes I have had to clean up, but by far the most exciting has been... the vomit.  You know the look on the coach's face when the team sneaks up from behind and dumps a cooler of ice laden Gatorade over his head?  Yeah, that's the reaction I have, every time. 

I used to have this sixth sense with both Tessa and Jonah, where I could just tell when they were about to spew.  It was a gift.  I would actually have time to reach for the burp cloth before the geyser would gush.  I had people applaud my amazing gag-snag.  It was, I must admit, burgeoning on legendary. 

But this little gal is sneaky.  She just lets you pat her as she fusses, and you pat and she fusses and you pat and she fusses and WHAM!  Exorcist.  Puke pajamas, drenched clear to my upchuck-soaked-undies and hurled upon hair.  She has put my over-sized cups to good use by hoarking straight down my cleavage and filling my bra.  Indeed, my cups runeth over.  In fact, at this very moment, I smell like the inside of an old milk carton on a warm day.  It's a lovely aroma to conjure, you're welcome (and anyone who is feeling "holier-than" can come on over and hold the child while I shower.  Oh, you don't want to hold the little cookie-tosser?  I rest my  case).  I guess I lost my mojo, the magic that I once had for avoiding the fountain of yuck.  I must be getting old.

We are working on a fix for the situation.  I went off dairy a week ago, and have abandoned gluten, eggs, nuts, soy and my sanity this week.  It was an easy choice, but a challenging commitment.  When I did it with Jonah, you may recall, if I cheated the results showed up in Technicolor spots on the poor kid's head and chest.  With Natalie, it is more subtle.  I am not even sure it is food related, all I know is that about 4 times a day she displays the entire contents of her belly in a spray that would make the Bellagio jealous.  It is nice to see I am making gallons of milk, not so nice to see it in reverse.  Somehow she is keeping enough down to have gained weight; she is almost the size of a sack of flour, but her screams and wails are heart breaking, and her flatulence would impress a long-haul trucker.

When she isn't crying or asleep, we have a wonderful 45 seconds together.  I really adore her, spinning head and all.  If you see the lights on at 4am, come on over.  I am singing my way through the 80's this week for our nighttime tear-tour, but I was never very good with the hair bands. 

Bring a rain slicker.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Waking Up

Good grief!!!!
No, not good, frankly.  It's bad, very, very bad!

Tessa came out of her room tonight sobbing, something about blood.  I was tending a very unhappy baby, so Guy headed down the hall to investigate.  It was quiet a moment and then Tessa began wailing hysterically.  Guy came out with a report that the hamster was covered in blood.  I couldn't imagine what could cause a hamster, alone in it's cage, to bleed.  I passed the baby to a taller-than-me kid, and headed down the hall to face the unknown.

As I lifted the poor creature out of it's cage, I was shocked to see it's entire right side slick with bright red blood.  He, "Nibbles", had had a tiny scab on his shoulder about a week or two ago, but now in its place was a shocking hole nearly half and inch long and a quarter inch wide.  It went clean through the skin, but the skin was loose over his muscles like a window through the hide.  When I tried to clean him up, I became aware of something that suddenly made a giant hole in his skin the least of our worries. 

Nibbles is a long hair hamster, bigger than any I have ever seen before, and rather disheveled looking.  He is a pleasant little guy, not anxious to get out of your hands when you hold him, which I seldom ever have time to do.  Until tonight.  As I cleaned his injury, I realized that the large puff of black and white fur standing off his shoulder wasn't fur at all, but some massive growth, easily the size of a ping pong ball.  I, of course, don't know if it is an infection or a tumor.  Not that it matters; he won't last long.  Whatever it is, it is amazing the little fellow is alive.

You have to understand something here.  This hamster can't die.  I know he will, but he just CAN'T.  It is so wrong and sad.  Tessa lost her first hamster in early December, and has grieved about it bitterly.  She began having relapses of mourning when I was first hospitalized, and it got so bad that we had to take a framed picture of her hamster away from her because she cried when ever she saw it.  We didn't realize at first how her worry and sorrow paralleled all of my hospitalizations, until after the baby was born.  Tessa had become so anxious that she would not leave with anyone who came to take the kids for fun outings, and slept every night on our bedroom floor for the first two weeks after we came home with the baby.  She had heard a lot of conversations about the risks of the baby and I dying, and her way of dealing with it was through her hamster grief.

Tonight I cleaned up Nibbles the best I could, and had Ethan hold him as I held the wound closed and super-glued it shut.  In the process a drop of glue rolled down Nibbles' body and glued the towel to his side.  I couldn't risk pulling at it and re-opening the wound, so I cut the spot of towel that was adhered to his fur away and there it remains, glued to his side.

Poor little Tessa told me she wished she was having a bad dream that she could wake up from.  Haven't we all been there?  I ache for her and what she faces in the next few days, and knowing her, the next few weeks and months.
I held her as she slipped into sleep,
and, ironically, tomorrow she will wake up,
but not the way she wants to.. 
Bless her little heart when she does.

Friday, July 5, 2013

This 4th of July (A Photo Album)

Guy strikes again... white chocolate strawberries dipped in sugar.
We headed out on foot just before dusk to go see the fireworks show at the nearby park.  It was apparent after two house-lengths that I would slow the group down too much if I walked the whole way, so Guy drove me as close as he could get in the van and I got out and began walking.  I slowly made my way as the crowd moved past me like a stream flowing around a rock.  I got a text from Caroline, my youngest sister, wishing me a happy 4th.  I don't know about her, but the 4th really reminds me of being with family, and of one 4th in particular.
I was about 10.  My folks were cooking in anticipation of meeting up with our friends, the Kojima's, who had 5 kids.  We were running late, and so to expedite things, my dad tried to loosen the seal on the pressure cooker full of corn-on-the-cob when it was done cooking. 
It exploded.
The sound was deafening, and there were screams and yelling.  We kids ran to the kitchen's swinging door but mom yelled at us to stay out.  The cooker had blown its heavy lid straight into the air and the contents of the pot followed.  The scalding water and corn hit my dad right in the face and bare chest on their way up, hit the ceiling, and came right back down on top of his shoulders and back.  Mom, who stood a few feet behind him, was blasted in the face and neck.  She ran to get burn cream, as my dad ran to the huge utility sink on the back porch, flipping the faucet on and plunging his head under the flow of water.  In his confusion and pain, he had grabbed the hot water faucet, and didn't know he was holding his head under the hot water until my mother stopped him.
He spent 5 days in the hospital.  His face turned black.  The end of his nose came off.  For years after that particular 4th of July, we reflected on the chaos of that year.  It was a gentle reminder to be grateful that we had moved past that day, that the fear of it was behind us, and that everyone was well.
As I slowly made my way to the park last night, I thanked my sister via text for the well wishes, and told her I was walking on my own power to the park.  She wrote back, "That's awesome!  Enjoy tonight, it's great that you are alive!  I was thanking God for that today.  This could be a different holiday for the whole family if things went the other way for you or the baby."
I felt a little misty, but I held it back.
I sat on a boulder and rested while I waited for my family,
the throngs of merry-makers cruising past me.
Later, as the night sky lit up with fireworks and patriotic songs played, I sat and let the tears come.  I hadn't thought beyond the gut wrenching possibility of leaving Guy and the kids alone.  In the hospital I had talked to Guy about it; that I wanted him to find a mom for my kids, to fall in love and be happy, to enjoy his life.  I hadn't thought about the impact it would have on the rest of my family, the feeling at holidays that we know so well since mom left;  that hollow of someone being missing, year after year after year.
I wet the top of Natalie's head with my tears as she bellowed from the fireworks.  I glanced around at my family, their eyes fixed skyward at the display,  and I felt so immensely grateful to be viewing them there, from my chair on the grass beside them; part of them.
For me, this 4th of July
Our neighbors rented a 20 foot tall water slide. 
 Happy, happy kids!
Bathing beauties

Natalie, showing off one of her TWO pass-times;
sleeping and screaming her head off.


All dolled up for the festivities.

I had to include another shot of these...
 they were just too beautiful to eat, but we did!

A craft project with the Jensen clan.
(Tessa, Kaylee, Owen and Ellie)
Jonah and Lauren

BBQ with Jensen's and Bush's!



Watching the sky... about 12 seconds before
Jonah fell sound asleep, just like last year!

Kathy and Bishop with baby Ryan.  Can someone please explain how babies wake up if you tiptoe into the room while they're asleep, but can saw logs through a Grand Finale?

Ellie, Tessa, Lauren and Kaylee

Natalie, looking just as she did through the entire fireworks show, even though I held her close and kept my hands over her little ears.  She is one little lady who lets you know how she feels!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Layers of More

Natalie's first park day with our TJ Ed homeschool group

 Things are slowly returning
 to familiar patterns, including my insomniatic nights. 
It is in those early hours when I tread the line between mortal mind and Zen; that I skirt the edge of life's mysteries, believing I have almost brought the lens of some great cosmic camera into focus.
Last night in the wee hours I stood at a mental crossroads.  That is what happens when you look back at the bullet you dodged, stuck in the wall.  You start to wonder if, had that bullet reached it's mark, you would be satisfied with the chapters of the book of your life you had written up to that point.
Of course, for me, the answer to that is a resounding "heck no". 
Would you be happy with your mark on the world if you stepped off of it today?
As I thought about the opportunity that lay before me,
a word came to me over and over again;
More helpful.  More caring.  More honest.  More generous.  More genuine.
More... of everything good.
I want to spend more time with my kids, reading to them,
 doing crafts, laughing, playing.
time supporting my friends; helping them, reflecting back to them
 all the good that I see in them, so they never doubt it.
time reading the words of men and women who have walked a godly path;
scriptures, classics, talks and seminars (and even blogs... love this one).
art, music, and writing...
I will leave little of significant value behind on this planet.
 I have no wealth, but can pepper my children's lives with lovely things.
I want to learn to give More;
approval, acceptance, respect, honor.
The people in my life deserve the best I have to give.
I know its dangerous talking like this. 
 It would be easy to take on too much, to tackle more than I can truly manage,
 and then to fall apart in a tearful heap of utter failure.
But I can start with one little layer at a time. 
I think, in fact, that is the only way I will succeed. 
I can't do more of everything everyday,
but I can add just a little layer here and there,
 one day or week at a time.
I managed to say yes to taking the kids to the pool today
 (yesterday I said yes to just sprinklers; ask them- vast improvement!),
and Guy and I started reading The Great Gatsby together
 (move over, Better Homes Magazine!).
I started back to reading Catching Fire to Addy-Boy,
(sometimes more means trying again)
 and I babysat today for someone who needed it
(my first chance to offer service after having received so much).
It's a beginning. 
And tomorrow I will add only what I can,
not everything
just some things,
 a little layer of more at a time.