Saturday, August 10, 2013

August 2013 Newsletter: Happy birthday, Morgan!

Dear Morgan, 

Tomorrow you turn four years old, which I'm hoping means you'll finally be done asking "When is it my birthday, Mom? How many days until my birthday, Mom? How many hours till my birthday, Mom? Can it please be my birthday now?" This is the first year you've understood what a birthday is, and it's suddenly the most exciting thing in the whole world to you. In fact, just as I was tucking you into bed you said, "I can't wait to be four tomorrow. Four is my very favorite!"


Lately I've spent a lot of time wondering which of the day to day moments that we share will stick with you and become your memories. What will become your rituals, your stories, the things you remember and can't wait to tell your own children about? I have very clear memories from about four years old on, and a handful of slightly hazier ones from when I was just two or three. I worry sometimes that your first memories will be of me losing my patience or yelling about something that was most likely totally trivial, but for one reason or another I just couldn't let go of at the time. 



Instead, I hope your first memories are of good things like lazy days spent at the lake, eating snow cones under a shade tree at the park, racing down the water slide at the pool, lying next to each other in the bed of a truck and watching fireworks light up the sky, or running from waves on the beach and catching crabs from tide pools in California. Since I'm not working anymore (this is the first real summer break I've had in ten years) we were able to get out and enjoy all the fun things summer has to offer. And you, my little adventurer, have loved every minute of it! If I had to describe your personality using only a few words, I'd simply say that you are up for just about anything. Whatever we're doing, wherever we happen to be going... you're always excited to go along for the ride. And you hope with all your little heart that it'll be a fast, bumpy ride with twists and turns and at least one loopty-loo along the way.  


A couple weeks ago we were lucky enough to take a trip to San Diego with Grandma and Grandpa Carmody (or, as you like to call them, Grandma Candy and Grandpa Crazy) and one morning while we were there I came into the kitchen to find you talking with my aunt. You didn't see or hear me, so for a minute or two I quietly stood there just watching you being your charming, brilliant, hilarious little self. It's a rare thing for me to see you interact with other people independently. Usually I'm right beside you being the mom -- the one telling you no, insisting that you use your inside voice, trying to teach you manners, doing my best to make sure you behave at least slightly better than a feral animal -- so the side of you I get to see most often is a little more feisty, stubborn, headstrong. But there you were, politely asking if you could please have more cereal and recounting events from the previous day in such a sweet and comical way. And in that moment my heart swelled with so much love and pride that I almost couldn't breathe. You're absolutely amazing, stunning in every way. And I created you! I'm responsible for sharing you and all your awesomeness with the world and no matter what else I do in life, nothing will ever top that. 


One of your favorite things we did while on vacation was go to the zoo. I've heard people talk about how cool the San Diego Zoo is, and I remember going there when I was young, but it wasn't until going back as an adult that I realized it truly is an amazing place. Much bigger and far more impressive than the zoo we usually go to in Salt Lake City. You loved everything about it! One of those very clear memories from my early childhood is of riding the sky ride at the San Diego Zoo. I'm guessing I was maybe four or five at the time. My sisters and I were riding the Skyfari, looking down at all the trees and people and zoo attractions and I remember thinking "this is what it must feel like to fly." And suddenly, the ride stopped. There we were, suspended from a tiny cable in the sky, unable to do anything but wait for the cars to start moving again, and I started to panic a little. I suddenly began imagining all the terrible things that could happen to us. Our car might fall off that cable and we'd drop to our deaths, or maybe the ride wouldn't ever start back up and we'd be stuck there forever. What would we eat? Where would we go to the bathroom? Needless to say, whatever the issue was, it was resolved quickly and we were safely back on the ground just a few minutes later, but I'm certain that my ridiculous fear of heights can be traced directly back to that incident. 


Well of course you saw the sky ride almost immediately upon entering the zoo and eagerly said, "Whoa! Can we go on that, Mama?" As we stood in line waiting for our turn to board, I started feeling a little sick to my stomach. But I didn't want you to know how scared I was because I didn't want to make you worry or let my fear ruin the experience for you. To say you enjoyed the ride would definitely be an understatement. You loved it! Your eyes were wide with amazement as you looked down at the people and scenery so far below us. You smiled as the wind blew through your hair and caressed your face, and then you looked at me and cheerily said, "You can look down, Mom." 

You couldn't see the way my knuckles were turning white from holding onto my seat so tightly, and I don't think you noticed that the smile on my face was forced as I told you, "I'm actually choosing not to look down, but thanks anyway, love. Guess what? I have a secret, but I'm not going to tell you until we're done riding, okay?" When the ride was over and we had reached the other side of the park, I said, "Wanna know my secret? I'm super duper afraid of heights!" 

"Did you hear that?" my uncle Joe (who had ridden with us) asked. "You helped your Mom be brave!" You were so proud that you were able to help me, and for the next week you would randomly walk up to me, grab my hand and say, "Remember when you were scared to go in the sky and I helped you be brave?" 


Morgan, I know I've said it before but sometimes I can't help but look at you and wish you'd stay this way forever. You are the child that people envision when they think of what it might be like to have a family. The way you throw your head back and laugh with your whole body, the way your eyes have a constant expression of wonderment and joy in them. The way you squeal and clap when something excites you, the way you believe in magic and goodness and fairy tales. I wish you could stay this small, this uncorrupted and innocent forever. I wish that we could just stay here, here where you're completely naive to the harsher realities of life, here where a hug from you is enough to save me from the sometimes overwhelming circumstances of adulthood. 

But I know that I can't stop time. I know that before long you'll stumble headfirst into this thing called life, and I know you're going to love it because it's just  the kind of crazy trip you hope for. So I'm doing my best to brace myself for the bumpy ride I know is ahead of us. Just promise me you'll do one thing, kiddo. Help me be brave. 


Happy birthday, little love. I hope four is all you've been waiting for. 

Love,
Mama 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Moments

Wow, I'm a little ashamed at how long it's been since I've written here. It's strange how something that has always served as an outlet and a comfort for me has recently seemed like such a chore. Not because I haven't had anything to write about, and not because I haven't wanted to write. But for several months now, each time I've attempted to put my thoughts into words I've wound up with a headache, staring at a blank screen as the cursor taunts me with it's incessant blinking. So eventually, I just stopped trying for a while.

But tonight I find myself lost in my thoughts once again, unable to sleep, and for the first time in a long time, writing just feels... right.

Do you ever get the feeling that everything around you is changing, and while you realize that change is inevitable, necessary even, you can't help but want to freeze time? It's like the world is spinning slower somehow, but still, things are moving entirely too fast. Like you're suddenly recognizing and appreciating things you never paid much attention to before, yet you're painfully aware of the fact that those things are temporary and you begin to miss them before they're even gone. Have you ever known that something huge is about to happen (or maybe it's already happening) and if you don't slow down and really pay attention, you're going to miss the whole point? That's the best way I can think to describe what I've been feeling lately. It's as if every fiber of my being is telling me that things are changing -- I'm changing -- and one day when I look back on my life, the things that are happening right now will stand out as some of the more defining moments of my entire existence.

When you think about it, life is really nothing but a string of fleeting moments. Most get lost in the shuffle of every day life, forgotten almost as soon as they happen. But every once in a while we experience little moments that have a bit more resonance than others. There have been dozens of moments in the past few months that I'm certain will forever leave their imprint on my soul. Moments that have changed me. Moments that have made me laugh. Moments that have made me question almost everything I thought I knew. Moments of pain and heartache. And even a few moments that were so devastatingly perfect, I could (and sometimes do) just cry.

All that being said, in the midst of this... what is this? An existential crisis, maybe? The beginning of the end of my sanity? Whatever it is, even as I find myself immersed in the conflict and confusion and bizarre excitement of life, things are going quite well. My health has been (dare I say it) the best it's been in a very long time. This is probably a topic deserving of it's own post, but for now I'll just say that aside from a little cold I've been fighting for about five days now, things have been pretty awesome on the health front.

In other news, Morgan's birthday is next month! For the handful of you that have been reading this blog since she was an infant, just go ahead and take a second to let that sink in... our baby is turning four! Can you believe it? Being home with her these past several months has been quite an adventure. I think I'm finally starting to get the hang of this stay at home mom thing. It's definitely not without it's difficult moments, but just today I laid down on the couch and she jumped up behind me to snuggle, her arms and legs wrapped around my torso, her head buried deep into my neck. And that's when she looked up at me with her giant blue eyes and sweetly said, "Mom, I don't even know why I love you so, so, sooo much... but I sure do." And then she immediately followed that up with a loud, grown-man sized fart.

And while we laid there on the couch together, wrapped up in each other and laughing hysterically, I realized that this is exactly the kind of moment that matters. One of the good ones I'll carry with me. The kind that, regardless of how ridiculous the circumstances were, I'll cherish forever because in that moment there was no room in my heart for anything but complete and total happiness.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

May 2013 Newsletter: "Almost Four"



Dear Morgan, 

It's been a while since I've written. Nine months to be exact. This is the longest I've ever gone without giving an update and as I think back over the past several months, I realize what a mistake it was to wait so long. A lot has happened, kiddo, and you've changed and grown so much! There's no way I could possibly sum it all up in one letter, but I'll do my best to tell you what our life is like right now.

You currently love to collect things. "Treasures" as you call them. But it has to be said, your precious treasures are mostly, well... junk. Recently your obsession with this junk has become almost unmanageable. On any given day our house looks like a landfill scattered with things like bugglegum wrappers, bottlecaps, empty water bottles that now house a collection of centipedes or "roly poly" bugs, baggies full of grass and leaves, junk mail, or basically any and every random object that's happened to spark your interest. You put these things in piles and stash them in hiding places throughout the house. And the worst part is that you remember exactly where you've hidden which pile of garbage and if I happen to do, I don't know, the logical thing and throw them away, you have a complete meltdown. "My CENTIPEDES! My CANDY WRAPPERS! I put them RIGHT HERE! Where did they gooooo? Mom, this isn't even funny anymore!" (Yes, you say that. And no, I cannot keep a straight face when you do.)


That's another thing I should probably tell you about... how much you love "your" centipedes. And worms and caterpillars and beetles and moths and, well, any kind of bug you can get your hands on, really. What's the deal with that? Didn't your mother teach you that bugs are gross? You've been fond of bugs since before you could walk, but at the time I figured it was just a passing fancy. On the contrary, your love of all things creepy and crawly has only grown with time.

A few weeks ago you were at your uncle Tommy's house playing in the dirt with your cousins when you found a worm. You immediately decided this worm was going to be your pet and gently cradled it in your hand while you continued playing. When the time came to leave, you asked if your pet worm could come home with us. Once home, you found a container, filled it with dirt and leaves and made a cozy new home for your little pet. Morgan, for several hours your entire life was about that worm. You talked to him, tried to get him to eat, even sang him a sweet little lullaby as you put him down for a nap. It was one of the strangest, but most precious things I've ever witnessed. But then, as I was cooking dinner, you came to me and said, "Mom, I don't want my worm anymore. He's broken." And sure enough, that darn worm had mysteriously broken into three separate pieces. You insisted you had no idea what happened, that you just found him like that when he was supposed to be napping. I pretended to believe you but made a mental note to never leave you alone with a sleeping baby, just in case.


You're very smart, Morgan. I know every parent thinks that about their children, but you're really smart. And I'm not just talking about things like counting to 20 or being able to recite the alphabet. You're smart in ways that I can't really explain. You just get things. Things that a child your age should have no grasp of, yet you understand them so well. You're also smart in that you know how to manipulate people. For instance if I tell you that no, you cannot have a popsicle right now, you know that if you sit next to your dad, put your hand on his arm, flash him those gorgeous blue eyes of yours and sweetly say, "Daddy, can I have a popsicle, pretty please?" he's going to give in. No questions asked. You have that man wrapped around your little finger in a way that sometimes terrifies me. Which is why you won't be allowed to date for... let's see, you're almost four now, so... another 31 years at least.

Someone recently asked me at what point you start saying a child is "almost" whatever age. Like, once they're three and a half, are they suddenly almost four? Or is there a particular time between three and four when it becomes appropriate to say almost? I guess I don't have a solid answer for that, but with your birthday being only three months away, I definitely think it's okay to say that you're almost four. And in your mind that means one thing - you can almost go to school! You've been telling people for months that you get to go to school once you turn four, and you are incredibly excited about that idea. You routinely fill your little backpack with papers and crayons, then sit in the corner of the living room "at school" for a while before you come to me asking for help with your "homework". My little love, if you stay this excited about school beyond the first week you're in attendance, I'll be ecstatic!


The biggest change that has taken place in the last nine months has definitely been me quitting my job. For several reasons I chose to stop working near the end of last year and for five months now I've been a stay at home mom. Being able to spend each day together is something I've wanted since the moment I found out I was pregnant with you. And Morgan, I wish I could say it was everything I ever wanted or that it's been the easiest and best decision I've ever made. But the truth is, while parts of it have been nothing short of amazing... it's also really hard. Harder than any other job I've had. (I don't know if saying that makes me a bad mom. I hope not. I hope it just means that I'm honest, and I also hope I'm not the only one who feels this way.)

There are days that end in tears, with me seriously questioning whether or not I was cut out for motherhood. More and more I'm learning how much you and I are alike, and while it's thrilling to see so much of myself when I look at you, it's also incredibly difficult because it means that we butt heads... a lot. You are stubborn and sassy and by far the most independent child I have ever met, and all of these things make it hard to be your mom sometimes.


When you're old enough to read and understand what I've written, I don't want you to read those paragraphs and feel bad. Because as hard as it can be, as frustrating as my days are sometimes, you are without a doubt the best thing that has ever happened to me. In a world that can be scary and confusing, you are my constant; you're what keeps me grounded. When I start to question choices I've made, I can look at you and know with certainty that by bringing you into this world, I've done at least one thing exactly right. More than anything or any person I've known before, you have made me more capable of loving, have made me a stronger person by challenging me, and have taught me more about myself than I ever would have learned without you. Yes, the days are sometimes long and most of the time I feel like you're a raging wildfire I have no hope of containing, but I'm overwhelmingly grateful that somehow I got lucky enough to spend so much of my time with the most vibrant human being I've ever met.

And I'm confident that one day (maybe when you have a child of your own) you'll understand what I mean when I say that you, Little One, are what drives me most crazy in life... yet somehow you're the only thing that keeps me sane.

I love you to the moon and back, baby girl.


Love,
Mama

Friday, March 15, 2013

Hey guys, remember me?

I'm the girl that used to blog here, and judging by the texts and emails I've received, a few of you have been a little worried about me. Maybe even missed me a little bit, which is very flattering. Admittedly, my last post was a little heavy and probably not the best place to leave off and disappear for more than a month. I apologize for that.

But here's some good news:

1) The hospital stay I blogged about in my last post ended up being an incredibly effective and beneficial stay.  I was able to get my PFTs back up to baseline (a number I haven't seen in a year or more) and I came home feeling awesome. I've had a pretty rough go of things for the past little while and I can't even begin to tell you how great it feels to finally be back on my feet.

2) I mentioned, oh, I don't know... a year ago, that we were doing some remodeling/renovations on our house. Well, let me tell you, home improvement sucks. Plain and simple. It's hard and expensive and time consuming, and when you decide to do the projects yourself despite a serious lack of know-how, you're asking for trouble. Ultimately, most of the projects we had planned ended up being put on the back burner and we're just now getting around to them. Fortunately my dad is helping us this time around and it's already been wildly more successful. Hopefully in a few weeks we'll finally be living in a home instead of a construction zone!

3) Spring has decided to grace us with it's presence. I've lived in Utah long enough to know that we're not out of the woods quite yet. I expect at least another snowstorm or two before the sunshine is here to stay, but we'll take what we can get for now. Morgan is excited for summer, her birthday (kid turns four in a few months!) and "lots n' lots" of swimming. I have a feeling it's going to be an awesome year for us!

4) This happened:


"In this episode we chat with Jenny and Brian about their experiences parenting while living with CF. They pull no punches and answer tough questions with so much honesty and love it made me well up with tears. This podcast will give potential CF parents many things to ponder and open the eyes of those who might question their decisions. Plus, there are funny kid stories!" -- Josh


I'm honored to be a part of this! I've been friends with Josh for a while now, but this was the first time I'd "met" Brian. We discussed both the serious and fun sides of parenting with CF, and had a great time doing it. I strongly encourage you to listen, whether you have kids or not.

You can listen on iTunes, here.
Or on the Joshland Unfiltered Podcast Fanpage, here.

Well, that's it for now. Would you believe me if I said I'm really going to try to blog more? I know, I know, you've heard that before but I promise I'm trying. I still plan on finishing the 30 Days of Truth challenge, and there have been a lot of fun things happening around this place thanks to Morgan. I've got a ton of stories, and when life slows down just a little I promise I'll tell them.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Random thoughts, fears, and being a rockstar

It's been one of those weeks. The kind where the normal stresses of life blend with exhaustion, sickness and heightened emotions to create a thick grey cloud that hovers directly overhead. The kind of week that brings tear-filled telephone calls to family members and extra time spent thinking about some of the less-than-pleasant things in life.

For the fourth time in six months, I'm back in the hospital. I've tried to be positive and I've attempted to hide my frustration from that sweet little blondie who calls me "Mama." But the fact of the matter is, this sucks! And she knows it as well as I do.

The night before I left for the hospital, Morgan slept in my bed with me (Adam was working a graveyard shift). Sometime in the early morning hours, she started crying in her sleep so I pulled her closer to me, told her that I was there and tried to kiss away whatever darkness was filling her dreams. And that's when, still asleep, she tearfully said, "But I don't want my Mama to go to the doctor." Right then and there, my heart shattered.

The next morning, we were just about ready to walk out the door when I knelt down to zip Morgan's jacket up. "I don't want you to go," she cried. "I want you to stay at home with me."

"I wish I could," I told her. "But Mama needs to go to the hospital to get feeling better. I know it's hard, but we can do this. We're tough. We're rockstars!"

I don't think I've ever said that before. We're rockstars? I'm not even sure where it came from, but in the moment it seemed like the right thing to say. I think I was trying to convince myself as much as I was trying to convince her... and it kinda worked.

Hours later, after once again blowing pretty dismal PFT numbers, I was making my way through the hospital to the CF clinic when I felt tears pricking the edges of my eyes. Why was I crying? I knew this was coming. I'd been sick for a couple weeks and knew a hospital stay was inevitable. I was prepared for this. I'm tough, I reminded myself, recalling the words I'd said to Morgan earlier that morning. Then I took a deep breath (well, as deep as these lungs would allow) and began silently chanting to the rhythm of my boots hitting the tile floor... I'm a rockstar, I'm a rockstar, I'm a rockstar.

There are a couple things that are bothering me more than usual this particular stay. First, the fact that Morgan has never struggled this much with me leaving home. She is beginning to realize that there is something different about me, but she's not sure what it is or why. She asked Adam the other day, "Why does my mom have to go to the doctor a lot?" And just today it was, "Mama, do all mommies live at the hospital sometimes?"

I've always known she'd eventually start asking questions, but I wasn't prepared for how difficult it would be to answer them. Serious questions deserve serious answers. I'm going to have to get a lot better at coming up with honest yet child-appropriate answers on the spot.

The other thing that is getting to me, that has been on my mind a lot these days, is how frequently my lung function is falling into a range much, much lower than I'm comfortable with. I hear it all the time: CF is a progressive disease. Slowly losing lung function over time despite making every effort to stay healthy... that is the nature of this beast. This is something I've always known. But now that it's becoming a reality for me, now that I'm consistently blowing numbers 30-40% lower than just a few years ago, it's suddenly a lot to handle. And it's hard. Really, really hard.

But I think it's okay to admit these things; that I'm scared about the future, that I don't have all the answers to the hard questions, and that sometimes life is hard. I don't think saying those things makes me any less of a person. In fact, I like to think that having those fears and learning to face them makes me stronger. Fear isn't a pleasant emotion, but it certainly can motivate a person. Things aren't as easy as I'd like them to be right now, and life is full of uncertainties - even more than usual, it seems - but I'm certain we'll get through this and everything else life throws at us. Even when it's really, really hard.

Right now Morgan is lying next to me in my hospital bed, sound asleep, but before she dozed off we were talking, our bodies sidled up next to each other and her head nestled into my neck. "I'm so happy you came to see me today," I told her. "I've missed you."

"I miss you too, Mama. But it's okay, right?"

"Yeah, baby," I whispered. "We'll be okay. We're tough."

In fact, we're rockstars. And rockstars never, ever give up.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

We interrupt this programming to bring you...


Today I'm very excited to be guest blogging over at Inhaling Hope!

When IH, a fellow CFer, began her journey trying to conceive and have a baby, she discovered that there simply wasn't a lot of information out there. Now a mother herself, she has decided to compile the pregnancy and/or parenthood stories of several people within the CF community. I think it's going to be a great resource for people (especially women) to have, and I'm honored to be part of it!

Go check it out!

30 Days of Truth: Day 7


Someone who has made your life worth living for

This might sound weird, but if I'm being completely honest, the first person I thought of was... well, me. I make life worth living. I am the person responsible for my own happiness, right? That said, there are definitely a whole slew of other people who have contributed to my happiness and who truly enrich my life. While I try not to rely on others to find my own satisfaction or self-worth, life sure would be sad without the incredible people I'm surrounded by!

Here are just a few of those people (whose pictures I had handy) in no particular order:
















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This post is part of the 30 Days of Truth challenge. 
For a list of all the prompts and corresponding posts, click here.
If you decide to participate, please link to your blog in the comments.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

30 Days of Truth: Day 6


Something you hope you never have to do

I sit on the edge of the bed with my head in my hands, struggling to catch my breath. I'm glad the "puke bucket" was within reach because I wouldn't have made it to the bathroom this time. Always keep a bucket near the bed - a lesson I learned the hard way. This type of thing isn't unusual when I'm not feeling well. Sitting up for the first time in the morning is all it takes to stir things up in my lungs and trigger a vomit-inducing cough attack. 

I make my way to the bathroom, coughing the whole time. I pause to look at myself in the mirror and see that the circles under my eyes seem a little bit darker this morning. The imprint of my oxygen tubing is very visible across my cheeks and will be for at least the next half hour or so. The outline of my collarbone becomes more prominent with each labored breath that I take. These little things that go unnoticed by most are sometimes the only visual evidence of the fight going on inside my body.  

It's not always like this. I don't always need to use use supplemental oxygen, and it's not often that I struggle to breathe this way. I take comfort in the knowledge that once I get over this cold, once this infection is gone, I'll go back to feeling like myself again. But as the violent coughing continues and I decide to crawl back into bed with my oxygen for a while longer, I can't help but wonder how long it will be until all of my days are this much of a fight. 

Mornings like this make me wonder how long these lungs of mine are going to hold up... 

~~~~

When a disease has taken nearly everything from a person, transplant can be a second chance at life. People with cystic fibrosis in need of a transplant usually require new lungs but may also need liver, kidney, or heart transplants. Personally, I'm a huge supporter of organ donation and transplantation. I'm so happy for those who have received their new lungs, I hope and pray with those who are waiting, and I'm completely humbled and blown away by what a miracle the whole process is.

But when it comes to thinking of myself getting a transplant? Well, I prefer not to go there. Just the thought of someday needing a lung transplant is absolutely terrifying to me.

Over the past few years I've followed the stories of several people along their transplant journey. Some of these people I know personally; most of them just through the internet. Each story is different, with varying degrees of success. Some of these strong individuals are living the lives (post-transplant) that they could only dream of living before. Some received a transplant but passed away shortly after, or have found themselves in a day-to-day, epic battle for their life. Others never got the call...

Although transplantation offers new hope, it also presents new challenges and responsibilities. From what I understand, the evaluation process can be long and very trying. The surgery itself is, well, huge! Then a life of immunosuppressive drugs (that forever reduce a person's ability to fight infection) and risk of rejection certainly doesn't sound fun. Transplant is not a cure for CF. It's like trading one set of problems for another, really. And it all sounds like something I never want to go through.

Then again, I know me. If I reach that point in my life, if given the option, I know I'll choose to fight. I've got too much to live for! If I get sick enough that a lung transplant is my only hope, you better believe I'm going to do it! And maybe that's what scares me the most - knowing that facing this fear of mine is a very real possibility at some point in my life.

~~~~

I don't like to think about and dwell on my fears too much. But on mornings like this, I allow myself to think about the future and admit that I'm afraid. And on mornings like this, I feel that much more motivated to do everything within my power to keep these breathers inside me for a very, very long time! 

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This post is part of the 30 Days of Truth challenge. 
For a list of all the prompts and corresponding postsclick here.
If you decide to participate, please link to your blog in the comments.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

30 Days of Truth: Day 5


Something you hope to do in your life

Well, off the top of my head, I'd like to: 

Own a pond with pet ducks
Write a book
Have another baby (maybe... someday)
Watch my babies grow into good people
Design and create my dream home
Travel the world
Ballroom dance 
Grow old with my husband and sit together in rocking chairs on our front porch
Learn how to enjoy yoga
Eat healthier
See my kid(s) get married and have babies of their own
Read about a thousand more books
Run without feeling as if I'm going to die
Begin drawing again
Show my kids the beauty of the world
Solve a Rubik's cube
Learn to knit and/or crochet
Make a difference in someone's life (outside my close friends and family)

I could go on like this for pages, so let's just say that I hope to live long enough and have the opportunity to do all that I hope to do in life.

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This post is part of the 30 Days of Truth challenge. 
For a list of all the prompts and corresponding posts, click here.
If you decide to participate, please link to your blog in the comments

Thursday, January 24, 2013

30 Days of Truth: Days 3 and 4


Something you have to forgive yourself for

Hmmm... three days into this thing and I'm already unsure about how much I'm willing to share. The point of this challenge is to be totally honest, to write like nobody is reading; and while I'm really making an effort to do just that, I feel like sharing too much on this particular topic has the potential to hurt other people. 

There are things that I need to forgive myself for and I believe that in time, I will. But forgiveness (even self-forgiveness) is a process, and I'm not at a point of absolution just yet. There are demons yet to be faced and things I'm not quite ready to share with the world.

So, all I'm going to say for now is that I'm working on this one. Every single day


Something you have to forgive someone for

I'm generally a very forgiving person. I don't carry grudges often. I've been known to give second, third, and even fourth chances even when they're not very well deserved. Very simply put, I figure that the people worth having in my life are also worthy of being forgiven. We all make mistakes, I get that. To withhold my own forgiveness when I so often ask for that of others would just be ridiculous. It's always been fairly easy for me to wipe the slate clean... most of the time, that is.

As I thought about this post, something immediately came to mind. Years ago (close to ten years to be exact) there was someone who hurt me and I don't think I've ever truly forgiven them. 

I grew up very active in the Mormon church. Somewhere between the ages of 15 and 16 I'd begun questioning whether or not I truly believed in the church's teachings. I had a lot of very real questions, as I think all of members of the church do at some point, but I had made a conscious decision to really try to figure things out. I was studying the scriptures and praying harder than ever before. I was attending all my church activities and I rarely missed a day of Seminary (even though everyone in my high school knew it was the one period you could sluff and totally get away with it). I was honestly seeking answers for myself instead of relying on the testimony of my parents and friends, but I was struggling. 

During this same time, I met a boy. He wasn't a member of the church and just about everyone in my life at the time told me he was bad news. Looking back I realize he was exactly the kind of boy I wouldn't want my 16 year old daughter dating, but I was young and incredibly dumb... and date him, I did!  He was a cowboy which made my little teenage heart swoon. He was also nice and funny and, sure, a bit of a "bad boy", but we sure had a lot of fun together. And contrary to popular belief, it was innocent fun! I was still going to church but began missing the weeknight activities to spend time with him, cruising the dirt roads with the windows rolled down and the music cranked up in his old Ford pickup or hanging out with his family (seriously, we did it all the time). 

And that's when the rumors started. 

The simple fact that I was dating a "rebellious" cowboy was enough to really get people talking. I'm not even sure what all was said or how bad the rumors got (the little bit I heard was pretty awful) but I do know that things began to change for me. The girls at church and a lot of my friends from school, people that I'd been friends with since childhood, started treating me differently. They wouldn't speak to me or even make eye contact with me in the halls at school, but once Wednesday rolled around, there they were - flashing their friendliest smile as they invited me to the Young Women's activity that night. I felt as if I had become their project. "Everyone be sure to invite Jenny, we need to get her back on the straight and narrow!"

I started to feel very uncomfortable at church each Sunday since nobody would talk to me there either, including most of my leaders. I was still honestly trying to find my footing in the church, so one day I told my boyfriend that I was actually going to attend my Young Women's activity instead of ditching it for a date with him. 

It was pretty quiet when I entered the activity room that evening. People seemed genuinely surprised that I had shown up. The experience was just about what I had expected - some sort of craft followed by refreshments; me awkwardly trying to make conversation with people who used to be some of my closest friends. As the evening came to an end, one of the leaders asked several of the girls if she could give us a ride home. We all piled into her van and she began dropping us off one by one. I noticed that the route she was taking would make me her last drop-off. I also realized that this meant she wanted to talk with me alone.

I rubbed my sweaty palms on my jeans as she pulled into my driveway. I was nervous, but actually looking forward to talking to her. I was hoping this conversation would help clear the air, maybe settle some of the rumors. I figured that she would put her arm around me and tell me that everything would be okay; that we all question things sometimes but that it was important to keep pushing forward. I wanted (and expected) her to be caring, to be kind, to be my leader

We sat there in silence for probably a full minute. When she finally looked at me with tears in her eyes, she said grimly, "I think it's about time you had a talk with the bishop, don't you?" 

I didn't say a word, just let myself out of the vehicle and slammed the door shut as I walked away. I realized in that moment that she believed all the rumors. She assumed, like so many other people, that I had gone off the deep end and was doing... who knows what? Instead of asking me what was going on or offering any words of wisdom, she told me it was time to confess my alleged "sins" to the bishop. In a moment when I was vulnerable and in desperate need of something to grasp onto, instead of being my leader or my counselor,  she was just another accuser. 

I stopped going to church soon after that. I also started intentionally making some of those rumors come true. I figured that if everyone already thought I was doing it, I might as well be. I really, really lost myself for a couple years and during that time I made a lot of decisions I wish I hadn't. And for a long time, I blamed it on the people at church... especially her

As time went on, I was able to sort through some things and I realized that none of my decisions could be blamed on anyone but me. I came to terms with the fact that people are imperfect and can't be expected to say or do the right thing in every situation. It also became clearer to me why everyone made assumptions about me the way they did. I realized how my own actions came into play throughout the whole experience, and I was able to move past a lot of the hurt I had once felt. 

I never did become active in the church again. As an adult and as a person who is continually searching for goodness and ways to connect with God, I can honestly say that not being an active member of the LDS church (or any church) has nothing to do with that particular woman, or anyone else I used to go to church with for that matter. I am happy with the path I'm on right now and I don't have any negative feelings towards the church. I am no longer bitter about that time in my life and I no longer blame anyone but myself for my choices. 

So why do I say that I still need to forgive her? 

Because no matter how many times I tell myself I'm over it, no matter how hard I try to forget that night, the memory of those words and the accusation in her voice still cut like a knife. 

"I think it's about time you had a talk with the bishop, don't you?" 

I could have reacted differently. I could have calmly explained to her that I knew some of the things that were being said, but that they were not true and I was deeply hurt by them. I could have chosen to keep going to church and keep looking for the answers I needed, despite the way other people chose to treat me. I could have cried out for the help I needed at that time. I could have changed the course that my life took for the next couple years. All of that was my responsibility.

But the fact that her words and their implied accusations caused me to second-guess everything having to do with the church and the gospel; the recollection of her breaking my heart when I so desperately needed a leader and friend... those feelings have been pretty hard to get over, I guess. 

I still see this person occasionally. Not very often and usually just in passing, like at the grocery store or post office. We exchange polite smiles and a friendly hello but inside, for just a tiny moment, I feel like that 16 year old girl all over again: lost, alone and completely let down by someone that should have been there for me. 

So that's it... that's my something I really need to forgive and forget. I've held onto it for entirely too long. 

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This post is part of the 30 Days of Truth challenge. 
For a list of all the prompts and corresponding posts, click here.
If you decide to participate, please link to your blog in the comments!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

30 Days of Truth: Day 2


"Something you love about yourself"

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, 
deserve your love and affection.” ~ Buddha

Yesterday's post wasn't too difficult for me to write, but as I mentioned, I don't usually have to try very hard to find something to be self-critical about. Fortunately today's post also comes fairly easily to me, and if you're taking part in this challenge, I hope it comes easily to you as well. I think it's so important for everyone to recognize their self worth, and knowing that this concept is something many people struggle with makes my heart hurt.

I suppose that since this post is all about love, it's fitting that one of the things I love most about myself is my ability to love. I give love freely and I tend to love deeply. I love life, I love my family, I love my friends, I love music, I love nature, I love laughing and (among other things) I really, really love people. My friends laugh at me because I'm often involved in conversations that go a little bit like this:

"Hey, so you know so and so, right?"
"Yes! I love her!"
"Well I ran into her with her sister the other day and..."
"Oh my goodness! I love her sister, too!"
"Uh, can we put all the love on hold for a minute so I can tell the story?"

I was chatting with a friend a couple months ago and during the conversation he asked if there was anyone I've ever met that I didn't like. My initial reaction was, "Of course there are people I don't like. Nobody likes everyone." But as I tried to think of specific people in my life that I dislike, I began to realize that somehow, somewhere along the lines, even when my first impression of someone is not positive, I generally end up liking them anyway. I told him, "I really think that there's something good, something to love, in just about everyone! Sometimes it just takes a while to find it."

An example:

Working at the credit union for six years gave me the opportunity to interact with and get to know a significant number of people within our little community. People are weird creatures anyway and when it comes to dealing with their money, that weirdness is magnified by about a thousand percent! When I first started working there, there were a lot of people I just plain didn't like. Some people were grumpy, some were rude, and some were just unpleasant to deal with in every way - from the look on their face to their attitude to their totally bizarre banking habits. There were people that I absolutely hated helping, but I did so with a smile because it was my job (which may have made me resent them even more).

But as time went on and I came to know these people on a more personal level, I came to realize that they weren't so unlovable after all. That grumpy old man who never had a clue what was going on in his checking account and frequently blamed the tellers for his mistakes? He eventually became a dear friend of mine and I remember crying the day I found out he'd passed away. That insane eccentric woman I simply couldn't stand to be around for the entire first year that I knew her? We ended up having many, many good conversations over the years and on more than one occasion she sent me a "get well soon" card when she heard I was in the hospital. And that older woman who always seemed so arrogant? She ended up being my home health nurse during a course of home IV's once and I came to realize that she actually has huge heart and is incredibly caring. I still have her personal phone number saved and she has assured me that it's okay to call her anytime I might have questions.

I learned that as I made an effort to tolerate the people I initially disliked, it led to a better understanding of each other and eventually paved the way to friendship. There are about a dozen other stories like this I could share, and these are just the people whose banking I helped with.

With a few (very few) exceptions, this is how things work with most people I meet. I won't pretend that I'm a saint who immediately sees the good in everyone and never has a bad thought about another human being. That's not the case at all. But it is true that once I get to know someone, I generally really like them. I'm incredibly interested in learning about people's life experiences, their beliefs, their differences and what makes them tick. And that's all it takes, really. Once I start to learn those kinds of things about a person, they've got a little spot in my heart to call their very own forever and ever. (Am I starting to sound a little crazy right now?)

Adam pointed out a few months ago that even if I've only met a person once or twice, I often refer to them as my "good friend." Before I could even try to deny it, I realized he was completely right. For reasons that I don't even understand, I'm able to connect with people easily but in a very real way. My sister left a comment in response to yesterday's post that read in part, "I wish I could make best friends with everyone in the whole world the way Jenny does."

I understand that not everybody is going to like me as much as I like them. There are a lot of qualities about me that can drive a person absolutely insane (just ask my husband). I don't expect everyone to be as enthusiastic about me as I am about, well, everything... but if it were entirely up to me, I'd really love to be best friends with everyone in the whole world. (Okay, I definitely heard the crazy that time.)

Some people believe that loving too much is a sign of weakness, but I strongly disagree. Though there have been times that I've been hurt because I've let someone in my heart and they weren't very kind to it, I believe that my life is exponentially better in so many ways because I'm willing to love regardless of the risk. I live life passionately, I love deeply and I wouldn't change it if I could.

So that's my thing for today. I love that I love so easily. Even when it makes me seem a little crazy and even when people make fun of me for it, I'll take my free-lovin' heart over a more conservative one any day of the week. Like Kasey (for my fellow Bachelor/Bachelorette fans) says, "It's my heart. Jump in. Stay a while."

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This post is part of the 30 Days of Truth challenge. 
For a list of all the prompts and corresponding posts, click here.
If you decide to participate, please link to your blog in the comments!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

30 Days of Truth: Day 1


"Something you hate about yourself"

Well, for starters... 

I hate that I'm always late, like my inner clock is perpetually running five minutes slower than the rest of the world's. I hate the way I can be so critical toward my husband. I hate that some of my decisions in life have hurt people I love. I hate the way I allow certain people to walk all over me even though I've vowed to make changes. I hate it when I lose my patience and yell at Morgan. I hate that it took me so long to take charge of my health and start taking care of myself the way I should have been all along. I hate that I consistently make plans and end up backing out of them (granted, it's usually for a legitimate reason like choosing to spend time with my kids, or lack of money, or because I'm not feeling well... but still). I hate that I waste so much energy worrying about things I have no control over. I hate that on most days, I'm not even remotely close to being the person I'd like to be. 

But perhaps the thing I hate most is that I tend to be really hard on myself. 

It seems like everywhere I look there are people who are better than me at this or that, who do their daughter's hair in a cutesy new hair-do every single day, who have incredible jobs and make a lot of money, who seem to have the perfect marriage, who have four million things on their "to do" list and still manage to attend PTA meetings and read to their kids before bed every night, who have multiple college degrees, who never let the dishes pile up in the sink for two or three days at a time, who go on exotic vacations, who run marathons and climb Mt. Everest, who are brilliant and talented and funny and kind... and the list just goes on. 

The thing is, I'm pretty comfortable with who I am as far as my character and the fundamental parts of my personality. It's when I think about my accomplishments that I become incredibly self-critical. I went to a semester of college, then dropped out. I'll probably never have a career. I'm not particularly talented in very many ways. I don't keep an immaculate house, or even a respectably clean one most of the time. I certainly won't be winning any Parent of the Year awards anytime soon. Conquering an especially large pile of laundry is the closest I'll ever come to scaling Everest.

In the quiet moments when I have some time and can really think about it, I realize that most of the things I give myself a hard time about don't even matter. They're silly things. They certainly don't define who I am as a person or mother. In those moments there is a tiny voice in my heart that whispers, "You may not feel like you're doing much, but it's enough."

Unfortunately in the hustle and bustle of life, that voice is easily drowned out and often replaced by a much louder, harsher voice that taunts, "You'll never match up!" 

I know it's human nature to make comparisons and to judge. I also know that 9 times out of 10 we are our own worst critic. I think everyone sets standards and expectations, whether for ourselves or the people around us, that we expect to be met. And I think (I think!) that's normal. I just hope that someday I'll learn to be a little kinder, maybe a little more forgiving towards myself. 

Perhaps acknowledging that and writing about it here is a step in the right direction. 

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This post is part of the 30 Days of Truth challenge. 
For a list of all the prompts and corresponding posts, click here.
If you decide to participate, please link to your blog in the comments!

Monday, January 21, 2013

30 Days of Truth -- The Prompts

At the beginning of the year I made a promise (to myself mostly) that I'd try to blog more. About this same time last year a lot of my friends in Blogland did the 30 Days of Blogging challenge. It was pretty lighthearted; just a fun way to get the creative juices flowing, and I had a lot of fun participating. I thought about doing something like that again to help me get back into the writing mood, so I started searching for similar ideas to share on my blog. That's when I came across the 30 Days of Truth challenge. 

The subjects in this challenge range from simple to thought-provoking to... well, pretty deep (like, bear-your-heart-and-soul/hours-spent-on-a-therapist's-couch deep). At first I kinda dismissed the idea but when I took a second look at the list of writing prompts, I started to think that it might be pretty cool. I think it will be an interesting way for me to really get back into the blogging game. 


Day 01: Something you hate about yourself.
Day 02 : Something you love about yourself.
Day 03 : Something you have to forgive yourself for.
Day 04 : Something you have to forgive someone for.
Day 05 : Something you hope to do in your life.
Day 06 : Something you hope you never have to do.
Day 07 : Someone who has made your life worth living for.
Day 08 : Someone who made your life hell, or treated you badly.
Day 09 : Someone you didn't want to let go, but just drifted.
Day 10 : Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn't know.
Day 11 : Something people seem to compliment you the most on.
Day 12 : Something you never get compliments on.
Day 13 : A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough days. 
Day 14 : A hero that has let you down. 
Day 15 : Something or someone you couldn't live without.
Day 16 : Someone or something you definitely could live without.
Day 17 : A book you've read that changed your views on something.
Day 18 : Your views on gay marriage.
Day 19 : What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics?
Day 20 : Your views on drugs and alcohol.
Day 21 : (scenario) Your best friend is in a car accident and you two got into a fight an hour before. What do you do?
Day 22 : Something you wish you hadn't done in your life.
Day 23 : Something you wish you had done in your life.
Day 24 : Make a playlist to someone, and explain why you chose all the songs. (Just post the titles, artists and a letter)
Day 25 : The reason you believe you’re still alive today.
Day 26 : Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?
Day 27 : What’s the best thing going for you right now?
Day 28 : What if you were pregnant or got someone pregnant, what would you do?
Day 29 : Something you hope to change about yourself. And why.
Day 30 : A letter to yourself, tell yourself EVERYTHING you love about yourself


I can't promise a post every single day. There will certainly be breaks here and there, and I may choose to combine multiple subjects into a single day's post, but I'll try to keep things in order as I go along. So check back tomorrow for the first post, and feel free to join the challenge if you'd like. I think we could have a lot of fun with this! 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

That poor little mouth of hers

Remember back in August when Morgan almost bit her tongue off? She slipped off a piano bench, bumped her chin on the edge of the piano and bit right down on her little tongue - almost all the way through! She didn't eat anything or speak a single word for nearly a week afterwards and almost six months later, she still has a very noticeable dent across the middle of her tongue. Yeah... not fun.

Well there's another story that I never got around to telling here. A little story I like to call "The Time Morgan Fell Down an Escalator and Almost Knocked Her Teeth Out" or "My Worst Parenting Fail To Date".

Back in late October/early November when I was in the hospital, Morgan and Adam had come up for one of their usual weekend visits. Since I already had a couple visitors in my room when they showed up and hospital rooms aren't known for being incredibly spacious or entertaining, we decided go for a little walk. This happened to be on one of the first days I felt well enough to actually be out of bed and walking around and it felt great, but I was hauling an oxygen tank, a heart monitor with all it's wiring, plus all my normal IV junk around with me so I was having to take things pretty slowly. 

So there we were - Morgan, me, Adam, my brother Jason, and a friend of mine - out for a nice little stroll. (Let me just make sure you're paying attention: that's one, two, three, four adults and one tiny three year old. It's not as if we were outnumbered.) Morgan is very familiar with escalators and has been told no less than four thousand times to "be careful, don't step on the escalator alone, you need to hold someone's hand or you could fall and get hurt." She had always been compliant and never made a real attempt to get on by herself, but as we approached the escalators that day I could see the wheels start turning in her head. I'm not sure if she knew that I wouldn't be able to move fast enough with my entourage of medical equipment or if she thought that the four of us were too involved in our conversation and wouldn't notice if she snuck away, but right as I saw those little wheels start turning in her head, she darted toward the escalator and jumped onto it.

Jason and Adam both moved toward her, but weren't quite fast enough. I'm sure I mumbled (or possibly shouted) some kind of profanity because that's what I tend to do when I find myself in a situation I'm not in control of, but my brother, not wanting to scare her, calmly said, "Ooooh, Morgan, don't fall." And that's all it took. She suddenly panicked, tripped on the air under her feet, and tumbled.

Fortunately Jason was just a step or two behind her at that point and was able to grab her pretty quickly. It's not as if she plummeted down an entire staircase or anything, really just a step or two, but I have never felt like such an awful parent!

There was blood everywhere, so it took me a minute to really notice what was going on with her tooth. She had apparently hit her mouth on either a metal stair (ouch!) or the side of the escalator, and her tooth took the brunt of it. One of her front teeth was crooked, out of place and pretty loose. She had a very bloody, very obvious snaggletooth!

Fortunately, of all places, the hospital wasn't a bad place to be in this situation. After a little research and asking around, we determined that the best thing to do was leave the tooth alone, get her some Tylenol and wait until she could get into the dentist.

Two months and a few visits to the dentist later, her tooth is still there. It didn't end up falling out, and in fact tightened back up into almost it's original place. Once she got over the initial trauma it didn't cause her any continued pain, so the dentist said that the best course of action would be to leave it just as it is... which I'm grateful for, but here's the thing. She hit the tooth hard enough to cause nerve damage, and she now has a dead greyish-brown tooth right in front, constantly glaring at me and filling me with guilt!

(The good news is that since it's a baby tooth, it won't be discolored forever. Once that one falls out and her permanent tooth comes in, everything will be back to normal.)
The more I look at this picture the more I think maybe it's not
as noticeable as I'd originally thought, but trust me, it's there!

But it doesn't stop there, guys. In the weeks since that accident, this kid's mouth has been a target for, well, EVERYTHING! She's bumped it on the edge of the bathroom sink and coffee table more than once. It somehow got hit when she and Shylee were playing last weekend, and she's accidentally bitten her tongue or cheek countless times -- more than she ever did before! Just this morning she was playing with Nora, somehow got smacked with the dog toy and split her bottom lip open. Things like this happen on an almost daily basis now!

We always knew that Morgan would be the child who would make it necessary to memorize Poison Control's phone number and the reason we'll likely be on a first name basis with the entire emergency room staff someday. It's just who she is, and we've come to terms with that. I've actively tried to prepare myself to deal with her craziness clumsiness adventurousness, but there are some days that I wonder if I'm actually capable of that task.

Should I start making her wear a mouth guard? Maybe a football helmet to ensure extra protection? What about wrapping her head in bubble wrap? Until we figure it out, I may not be posting many pictures of her. Not because I'm embarrassed by her tooth or anything (because hello, have you seen her? She's still totally adorable!) but mostly because we'd really like to retain custody. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

You Know You're a Mom When(sday)

As most of you know, I quit my job in November. The past two months have been, in a word, incredible! I absolutely love spending each day with Morgan and now that our schedules don't conflict, I actually get to see my husband every day (something that didn't always happen when I was working)! 

I've always considered myself to be a pretty engaged parent. I genuinely enjoy spending time with Morgan (and Shylee when she is here) and since she was born, I've longed for the opportunity to just be home with her. That being said, I'll be the first to admit that being a stay at home mom is, well, a little different than I expected it to be. While the past several weeks have been full of fun and sharing countless precious moments with my daughter, they have also brought about some of the worst "UGH!" moments I've had since becoming a parent. And so, in the spirit of fun (and a little frustration) I present the first "You Know You're a Mom When(sday)". 


- You yell at your kid for yelling at you.

- You don't realize until the end credits are rolling that your child has been asleep for the past 20 minutes and you just watched that entire episode of Calliou by yourself. 

- You're woken from a deep sleep by toddler feet smacking you in the face. 

- You can recite an entire collection of children's books word-for-word without looking at a single page. 

- Everything your family needs to survive for a week can be found in your purse or on the floor of your car. 

- Your idea of "me time" consists of three minutes alone in the bathroom. 

- You proudly tell other parents about the new "incentive program" you've implemented when what you really mean is, "I've been bribing my kid with candy." 

- You accidentally cut your husband's sandwich into quarters like you do for the kids. 

- The words "stop washing your hands in the toilet" and "please don't bite the dog" leave your mouth on a regular basis. 

- Having chicken nuggets and french fries for dinner four nights in a row seems like a totally rational idea.

- You realize that the thought of an uninterrupted nap is more exciting than the thought of uninterrupted sex. 


What are some of your "You Know You're a Mom (or Dad) When..." moments? 
Share in the comments or write your own post and share the link!