Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Make a Wish for Me...

After my previous few days that had not been my best, when I crawled out of bed on Tuesday I decided to make it a great day.  I had a lot of things planned, it was going to be busy.  Most of the things were going to be really good things, just one thing after another.  I knew that I wanted to go at it with a better attitude so the day would be good.
The morning was the usual, scriptures with the kids, pack lunches, run on the treadmill, make sure the kids all got their rides to school, more running on the treadmill, tidy the house a little, get Hilary dressed, go to my workout class at the church, shower, eat, finish the house chores.  
Then I decided to sit down and read some emails that our friends had sent us.  They were letters from their son that just left on his mission.  I have just loved this kid from the time he was a little six year old when we moved in.  Pretty sure he was six or around there.  I think he sent me five letters.  I thought that I would try and read one.  Once I got started I couldn't stop.  They were so sweet.  His testimony and love of the Savior just flowed off of the screen as I read his words.  It was inspiring to read them.  I was so grateful that our friends had shared them with me.  It was what I needed to get myself in the right frame of mind again.  They were so moving I was afraid as I went to my next few appointments that I wouldn't be able to hold myself together.  I felt that emotional after reading them. 
I had a 1:00 lunch appointment with one of my good friends.  The weather was so beautiful that I decided to take Hilary to the park for a half an hour before I was supposed to go pick her up.  One of my other friends that has a little boy Hilary's age met me.  We sat and watched those two little sillies go up and down the slide and play with the cat that had made her home the park for the day.  She and I have been doing this exact activity for almost half of our lives together.  We have known each other since before Halea was born.  We have literally taken all of our kids to parks together.  As I sat there I realized that this season of our lives is almost over.  Sooner than I hope, they will be in school, and then our lives will be different.  We laugh at ourselves because as we have aged, we pick parks that have no swings so that we don't have to sit and swing the kids the entire time we are at the park.  Then we can visit a little:)  Tricky, or Lazy I know, but at least we brought them to a park, right?

After the half hour was up we parted ways and I went to pick up my friend for lunch.   We arrived at one of our fun places that we love for lunch, The Blue Lemon.  As we were getting out of the car my friend said "I hope you don't mind but one of my friends is meeting us here".  I said, "Oh that's fine".  This was a little out of character, but i didn't really think anything of it, in fact I was a little intrigued to see who it was.  As we turned the corner inside the restaurant there stood HILARY WEEKS!!  If you have ever read my blog you will know that I am obsessed with Hilary Weeks' music.  I started laughing and I told her that I was going to try not to be "star struck", only it was way too late for that.  I was trying to gain my composure because I can only imagine that is so uncomfortable if you feel like someone worships you! (well, at least for most normal people).  Hilary then told me that she remembered meeting me before.  Which is true, but I mean she meets a million people.  I never would have thought that she would have any memory of meeting me.  I'm pretty forgettable in comparison to people that she probably gets to meet.  (I had met her on two different occasions when I had gone to visit patients that I had worked with at the hospital)  Anyway.  We started ordering our lunch and of course my Hilary started in with her quirky 3 year old demands.   I want a cookie, that specific cookie, I want a quesadilla, etc.  Luckily we all have kids and we all have a "baby" of the family, hopefully they all act like this, right?  We got our lunch and as we were walking to our table I saw a lady that was my old neighbor, that also lost a baby that I helped with, that also writes books, that I haven't seen forever!  What are the odds?  It really is like my Make A Wish Day.  I stopped and said hello as quickly as I could.  I felt kind of bad, but I couldn't explain to her that I was having lunch with the lady that I stalk!  We sat down and started to talk.  Hilary started asking about my family and so I told her the ages of our kids, including Trevin and Tatum.  I told her the ages they would have been, but that they had died.  She asked questions about them and I tried to tell her the "brief" story of our family.  She was kind to be interested.  Then we just talked and asked questions about each other.  I found out as we were sitting there that my friend and Hilary W. have daughters the same age, and so that is why my friend felt she could call and set up this love connection:)  The time went really fast and suddenly we all needed to go and do carpool and get back to man our ships.  I was not shocked to see how sincere and real she was in person.  I have heard her speak and so I knew that she had a "real" life.  I just couldn't get over that my friend had done this for me, and that Hilary W. would take time out of her life to make another persons day brighter, in a sort of dark time.  It was really touching.  I was so grateful that my Hilary had demanded that cookie.  She was soooo good the entire time, until the very end where she announced that she was FULL and it was time to go.  I tried to explain to Hilary that the blond lady was the Hilary Weeks that sings our Tatum songs.  She kept saying "What?"  
After we got in the car I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning.  I still can't get over it.  It is an awesome experience to meet someone that you admire from afar and find out that they really are as nice as you have built them up to be.  My quandary now is all of the things that I didn't ask her while we were together.  I so wanted to know about her creative process when she writes music, and I would have asked a lot more about her family and parenting and her love for the gospel, and the Savior.  
I keep telling Hilary that she met Hilary Weeks and she yells back, "No it was (my friends name)!"  She still denies that it ever happened.  Stinker.  Today I finally pulled up a picture of Hilary Weeks and showed it to her and asked her if she remembered having lunch with that blond lady.  I could see the wheels spinning in her head.  Hopefully she will remember.  

After I dropped my friend off there was no one to tell.  I called a few of my friends, no one answered.  I finally called Lance.  I wasn't sure he would be very excited, but to my surprise he was genuinely excited for me.  He said "did you tell her you have a girl crush on her?"  NO.  I did tell her that I have been composing a letter in my mind for about four months that i haven't written yet, but I am going to this week!  I asked her if I could have her email so I could send it to her and not have to slip it in her mailbox like a real life stalker.  She was nice and gave it to me.  I did get a hold of Halea and she thought it was cool, even though I have nearly turned her against Hilary Weeks music because it is always playing.  

Then as if that wasn't enough to fill my day, I needed to finish with the rest of the crazy day.  I went home and picked up some letters to bring to the post office.  We went to the post office, then picked kids up from school.  Dropped the kids off at home and I was off to a hospital visit.  A very sweet family that has a baby that is going to be born with a fatal chromosome disorder.  They were so sweet and the spirit was strong as we visited with them.  

Straight from there I went to the high school to watch the JV boys basketball game.  Our neighbors boy plays and it was their last game so I wanted to go and watch.  We have another neighbor that played before him, but I didn't make it to his in time.  I really like to watch the kids play, so this was another addition to my Make A Wish Day.  After the game was over I went and picked up my other neighbor to come and watch the Varsity game with me.  We were in Young Women's together and two of our Senior girls, it was their last game that they were cheering at.  They have cheered all of their High School years, so I knew they would be sad, and so we really wanted to be there to applaud their dedication.  Cheer takes A LOT of time.  (A little hint to you parents of girls, careful what you commit to!)

After I dropped my friend back to her house I had to run to the store and to get gas ( I had been on empty for awhile).  It was a really exhausting day.  I felt like I was gone a lot, which I do not like.  But, it was a day that I needed.  Even though it was tiring, I feel rejuvenated.  I have the best friends and people that I am surrounded by and able to rub shoulders with.  Good kids who can function without me if I need a little break.  I don't know how I am so lucky that my friends think of these crazy creative amazing things to do for me, but I am forever grateful.  These things have carried me through this past year.  I hope that someday I have the chance to pay it forward.  Thanks for my Make A Wish Day!

This was Hilary this morning at exercise class.  She was not quite into it today, after our busy yesterday.

Monday, February 24, 2014

In a Low...

It has been a rough couple of days.  I wish that I could predict when these days were coming, so I could maybe somehow prepare.  There just doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason.  All of a sudden I am just in a blue mood, just sad.  There are so many happy, fulfilling things in my life, but sometimes it just isn't enough to keep the sadness at bay.  I am sure it is those good  things that help me to bounce back, but the sadness shoves its way through some times with a vengeance.

Saturday was a weird day.  I was really tired when I woke up.  Maybe because I didn't go to bed until after 1:00 again.   I woke up around 7:30 or 8:00am.  I just kept looking at the clock and telling myself that I would get up in 15 minutes.  This went on for many blocks of 15 minutes.  Finally, Hilary came down around 9:30 or so.  She snuggled in with me for awhile.  Then around 10:30 Halea came down to see if I was going running.  I grumbled a yes.  It was nearly 11:00 when I finally talked myself into getting out of bed and going for a run.  Halea, Zoe and I went for a run outside.  It was a beautiful day and I felt really good running.  I haven't run solid miles like that in months.  I felt a little bit of my old self.

When I got home my burst of energy continued.  I started on several home projects that I had been wanting to do, but just didn't have the energy.  The kids helped me with some of the jobs.  It was just a great day of accomplishment.  It felt so good to get some things done.

Later in the day I went shopping, with a friend,  for a few things that I needed for the house.

Enter Sunday.  It was an OK morning.  One of my friends sent me a picture of Hayden and Heidi at her sons funeral.  It just made me think of how big my kids are getting.   Heidi looked like she would be about Tatum's age that she was when she died.  I was so happy to have the picture.  I showed it to Hilary and told her who the people were.  She thought it was so funny that Hayden and Heidi were little.  I am sure it got my mind churning about Tater bug.

Off to church.  My classes were good.  I just got in a funk watching other people with little kids that are Tates age.  I am really, really missing her right now.  Sunday was horrible.  I just miss everything that she was and what I should be doing with her right now.

When we got home from church I wasn't probably in the best mood.  I was trying to be cheerful and not show it by cooking and playing good music.  One of the things that I am struggling with is seeing Hilary get older.  She has been grumpier than usual.  Mostly because she is getting older and more opinionated.  It is killing me.  Pretty soon she won't think that I am great, like she does now.  Soon she will be like the teenagers who think I don't know anything, or complain about things that I do.  I see Hilary's innocence slipping away.  I should have another little girl that thinks I hung the moon, but I don't anymore and it is killing me.  It's one of the most appealing qualities about babies.  They just love you so unconditionally.  I am really missing that. Really missing Tatum.  Missing snuggling with her and her sweet fluffy hair.  My heart is just aching.

Enter Monday.  This morning was good.  The weather was great again.  I got to do some fun exercise.  Hilary and I came home and got ready for the day.  I have great friends that have kept me busy this month.  I went to lunch with a few of them today.  We had a fun visit.  On my way home I called another friend to see if she wanted to go on a bike ride.  I asked Halea if she could pick the kids up from piano so I could go for a little longer.  She agreed.

I changed into my biking clothes and went out to check my tires since I haven't ridden my road bike for several months.  I immediately spotted a sticker!  I have gu in my tires so I thought I could just pull out the sticker, spin the tire and it should seal, right?  Wrong, not on a Monday, silly!  I pulled out the sticker, spun the tire and listened to it deflate.  I took off my wheel, took off the tube, and started changing the tire.  My friend got there and between the two of us, it took us FOREVER!  Guys do this in like 30 seconds.  I think it took us like 30 minutes.  Ugh.   We finally got out on the road.  It felt soooo great.  The weather was absolutely perfect.  We got about 4 miles from home and my phone started ringing.  I didn't get to it in time, so we pulled over so I could see who had called.  Oh my gosh, it was the lady that I do scouts with and scouts was today at 4pm, it was now 4:20!!!  I had totally spaced off scouts.  And I had the bug catchers that the boys were going to assemble. In my closet!!  I called her back and told her I was just a little ways from home and I would come right back.  She said not to come back because her husband was there and she had already started working on something else with the boys.  I was so embarrassed.  Wow, I guess we all make mistakes, but this was a doosey.  I had completely forgotten.
We continued our ride.  It was beautiful and it felt so good to be out.  We headed home.  We got about three miles from home and i noticed that my front tire felt low again!  I thought I could make it home, until I went to turn and my tire sort of slipped.  I pulled over and pulled out my pump.  I am not as familiar as I should be with my pump.  I tried to get it to work, but failed.  Just then a man rode up on his bike.  He asked if we needed help.  We both laughed and said yes, if he had a pump that actually worked.  He helped me pump up my tire and even discovered that the stem on my tube was bent, so that was probably why the air had leaked out.  At least it wasn't another flat tire, right?  I really wasn't probably supposed to go on this bike ride.  Then entire ride felt cursed.  We are lucky that neither of us were run over by a car or something.

It was an interesting Family Home Evening night, to top off the day.  One of us didn't want to participate (I'm not going to name names).  So half of the night was spent trying to convince this person why they should do what the rest of us were doing.  We were writing letters to the missionaries, not doing drugs or jumping off a cliff, or even cleaning toilets.  Nope, an entire debate on why this was a nice service to some folks that might be missing home!  A great topper for a really weird day.

Later that night Hayden sat down at the piano and plunked out a hymn.  So frustrating to think that he refuses to try to hone his skills on the piano.  He hasn't played for almost a year, and he could just sit down and still remember enough to do that!   Hard when I can see his potentianl, but he can't.

Holden and Halea ending the night with an intense game of Foosball.  She is ridiculous.  Kills every one of us.

I know that this sadness that I am feeling, that comes in unexpected waves is normal.  I am just weary of it.  Sometimes I don't want to fight to get myself going, or to have energy to do normal every day tasks.  I want to care more about what is going on around me.  I don't want to feel so heavy.  I want to have Tates here with me.  I just haven't fully adjusted to the reality of what my life is going to be now.
Tomorrow I am going to focus on all of the good things that I have been blessed with, because they are countless.  I will try to serve more cheerfully.  I know that there are people out there experiencing way worse things.  I really do.  Forgive me for my self pity.  
To end on a better note.  On our calendar that we have hanging in our kitchen I chose a scripture for every month, that reminded me of Tater bug and her life.  Let's end with that!  It is in the Book of Mormon in Alma  7:23-24.  it says
"And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive.  And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity and then ye will always abound in good works."

Tatum was the embodiment of these scriptures.  She had all of these qualities.  I am lucky to have her in my life to be an example of these things that I hope to emulate.  A great reminder to me always.  What a gift.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Am I Prepared?...

I have been thinking a lot about preparation lately.  It seems like we are always preparing for something.  Both physical and spiritual.  For the past month our family has been working on some of our "physical" preparation with food storage.  We have been trying to live for a month without going to the grocery store to see how we would do if we could not go shopping.  None of us, except for Lance, were very excited about this.  It took preparation to try and decide where our food storage needed bulking up and what we would need to store and purchase for all of us to be somewhat happy for 28 days without replenishing our food supply.  We have not been perfect.  I did allow myself one stop at the store, half way through to get a little more milk and fruit and veggies.  We have 7 days left.  We have actually done pretty well and I am sure that we have saved a lot of money.  I feel better prepared and I know that I have a little bit more knowledge and confidence in our abilities.  This all came through preparation.

I know that the same thing should be done with our spiritual preparation.  I have been thinking a lot about Trevin and Tatum lately, big shocker.  I think that as the world around me becomes more and more wicked and unbearable I start to think about the predictions and prophecies in the scriptures that talk about these days.  I see so many fulfillment's of these prophecies.  I think in the past two or three years we have leap frogged into incredibly scary times.  I had been pondering for several weeks about how and what I need to do to prepare myself better.  When I die I want to be able to face my Savior and have Him know that I lived a good life, I followed His commandments to the best of my abilities, that I loved my family, I was a good mom and wife, that I was a good person that tried to help those around me, that I stood up for truth, that I was a good representative of Him,  etc.  When I see Trevin and Tatum again, I want them to look at me and see who I have become and say "Well done Mom, Well done".  I want them to know that I learned from our time together.  That I didn't wallow in self pity, that I appreciated who they were and what they came to do and accomplish.  That I became a better person because of our relationship and experiences.  There time and efforts were not wasted.

On Wednesday Halea and Hilary and I met one of my good friends at the BYU Museum of Art to see the exhibit there called The Sacred Gifts.  Halea was maybe supposed to be in school, but I kidnapped her from the Great and Spacious Building and took her to a different kind of school:)  All of the art work is religious and they are from three different famous artists, the pieces are from several different countries and churches,  On loan to BYU for a time.  It was an amazing experience and I was so glad that Halea and Hilary got to come and enjoy the spirit that could be felt from these paintings.  As we were driving up to the Museum Hilary was asking what the paintings were going to be about.  Before I could tell her she saw a huge picture of the Savior on the building.  She pointed and yelled out, "Jesus!".  Yep.   I am not sure how anyone could ever look at those paintings and not believe in divine inspiration.  They are simply stunning.  Afterwards we ate at the little cafe above the museum.  If you look close you will actually witness Hilary eating something besides candy!  A fruit kabob.  A true miracle, captured on camera.
Wednesday night was our Relief Society gospel class.  I always look forward to it because we have such a great teacher who always adds such a new deeper perspective to the scriptures.  Things that we have read for years make so much more sense when you understand the culture and some of the meanings of words.  It is so fun to take these New Testament stories that we are all familiar with and really pick them apart and study them.  I love reading and trying to understand better the life of our Savior.  I know that understanding Him better will inspire me to live a better life more in line with what He would hope for me.   We learned that the last "public" teaching that the Savior gave was the parable about the Ten Virgins.  You know the story, 5 Prepared, 5 were not.  We really picked apart a lot of the deeper meanings and symbolism of this parable.  It means so much more than I ever understood.  We discussed that our daily acts of kindness and keeping the commandments are what start to build up inside of us (our oil).  Through these acts we try to pattern our lives after Christ and slowly we begin to know Him.  The flame illuminates who we are inside, (the flame in our lamp).  The flame is how the Savior recognizes who we are.  I have always been really stressed about spiritual preparation because I have a terrible understanding of the scriptures and I have an even worse memory. I could have read a scripture yesterday, and I won't understand it or remember it tomorrow.  It is pitiful.   The last thing that struck me in class was the last thing that our teacher said.  "It isn't what you know, it's who you know", meaning we must know the Savior, and have our hearts changed and full of love for our fellow men and for Him, the Savior of the World..
It was such a great day, until I got home and realized that I had lost my Tatum bracelet, that I have worn everyday since her funeral, somewhere in between the museum and coming home from class that night.  I felt really sick for a second, and then I decided I would retrace my steps and try to find it.  If I can't it will just have to be OK.  I have looked a few places, and have not found it yet.

The last few days have been really busy with hospital things and just regular life things.  On Thursday when I was at one of the hospitals that I work at, I noticed that at the nurses station they have a TV up on the wall and it is looping pictures with messages typed on each photo.  I started watching it because there were pictures of our nurses and doctors.  All of a sudden up pops a picture of Tates!  It said something like, "children hold our hands for but a little time but hold our hearts forever".   How thoughtful of them to put her picture in that video for me.  What a sweet surprise.  I love being surrounded by her memory.
Despite the crazy few days, I did take time to realize that the daffodils that my friends planted in the fall are starting to come up!!  I really hope that the ground hog was wrong and that spring is coming.

I did also discover that there is a thing called Marshmallow Chocolate milk!  This could be very bad.

I also learned that it is always really bad to drop the powdered sugar in the pantry.  Lesson learned.

 Tonight Lance and I went back to the museum with some of our good friends.  It was a great date night.  So fun to talk about the paintings and enjoy the spirit there.  I also ran in to an old neighbor there and some good friends from the hospital.  It was a super fun night with  fun surprises. I know that Lance would be just fine sitting at home so I really appreciate him humoring me and allowing me to have social time with him and good friends.

One of the artists at the museum tonight, Heinrich Hoffman, had painted an amazing picture of the Savior.  He said he had painted it for himself, but his friends had urged him to display it in his gallery.   He said that he had wanted to hang it over his bed and have this question by it, "Have you lived this day in my spirit according to my commandments?".  I think this is something I want to reflect upon every day.  Have I lived the way the Savior would have wanted me to?  Am I becoming better every day? Am I prepared?

Funny thing that Hilary sang today: "When people die, we get to see them again. Jesus takes care of people. I love my dad."  She is like a living musical.  She is also singing the snowman song from Frozen that is adorable.  I'll say it again, I wish I could freeze her right about now.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

February 12, 2013..

February 12, 2013.  I took the girls to our workout class at the church.  Several people there commented on how bright and cheery Tatum was.  Her eyes were exceptionally bright that day.  When we got home I put her on the couch to get her out of her seat to feed her.  I noticed that her little left leg was ticking rhythmically.  I got her out and fed her and watched her leg the entire time.  I kept telling myself that it was nothing, but I was becoming very uneasy inside.  I put Tates back in her seat and brought her back to the bathroom with me so I could quickly take my shower.  All the while watching her.  Every once in awhile I would think that the tick was going away, but then I would see it again.  I did a few things to get ready for our Young Women's meeting that night.  Then I just had this overwhelming feeling that I needed to bring her to my doctor.  I quickly packed her and Hilary in to the car.  As I was leaving the house my good friend that I was serving in Young Women's with called me to see if I needed any help with things for that night.  I told her I didn't know, but I thought that Tatum was starting to have a seizure and I was heading to the doctor.  I had only told a few people of our concerns with Tates and so I am sure she was like "What?".  I couldn't believe that I had spoken the words myself.  I got in the car and headed out.  I called Dr. Later's office to let them know I was coming.  On my way another one of my good friends called.  She was one that I had told of our concerns, so I told her that we were going to the office.  She said she would wait to hear from me.  I felt pretty panicked the entire drive there.  I was trying to talk myself out of the reality of what might be happening.  When I got to the parking lot, I flew out of the van, pulled out the stroller in record time.  I opened the door and grabbed Tatum's car seat.  When I turned her around where I could see her I was horrified to see that the tick now involved her body from her shoulders down.   It was like an electric current that would travel from her shoulders down to her legs.  I put Hilary on the front of the stroller and ran to Dr. Later's office.  I don't even remember being in the elevator.  I walked in to the office and the receptionist and a nurse met me at the door and escorted us straight back to a room.  I took Tatum out of her car seat and put her on the exam table.  Dr. Later was there seconds later, along with the rest of the office.  He took one look and said that we needed to head straight over to the  hospital.  Luckily their office is connected to hospital.  We put all of our belongings into the stroller and I held Tatum in my arms for that long walk to the hospital.
When we got to the trauma room at the hospital, Tatum was in the full convulsive seizure, never to awake and be the same.  That was the last time I saw her "healthy".  As I looked around the room I realized that I knew most of the nurses in the room.  A few of them had been there when Trevin was sick.  The amazing nurses were able to get IV access almost immediately.  Dr. Later was able to get in touch with her neurologist, who just happened to be in the hospital.  He came up and helped to determine which drugs to administer to try and stop the seizing.  One of my favorite NICU doctors came down to talk to us about the possibility of having to intubate Tatum.  He said they hoped that wouldn't be the case, but we should be prepared just in case.   I felt almost relief as I was sitting there in the trauma room with Tatum.  That seems like a weird emotion to have, but I had known this was coming for a few months, and I guess it had taken more of an emotional toll on me than I had realized.  I couldn't believe the day was here, and this was happening, but I was somehow relieved.  I had been praying about this day for several weeks.  I had received a spiritual confirmation that Tatum was indeed sick and that I needed to change my prayers to specific needs for this exact day.  At this point it was almost like an out of body experience because I felt like I was watching something that I had dreamed or seen.  Not dreamed in a good way.  But seen because i had been asking for all of the things that were happening.
 I had never seen prayers answered in this way.   I had prayed that her seizure would come in the day time, while the kids were at school.  That I would recognize it for what it was so I could get her to the hospital quickly and so that she would not have to wait for someone to come and help her unlike Trevin who may have laid there for hours seizing before we found him.  Check.  I had specifically prayed for Dr. Later to be there, and for all of the other doctors and people that she needed around her to do the best that she could.  Check. I wanted good nurses that could get IV access for her because that was a real struggle with Trevin.  Check.  I didn't want her to have to be intubated.  She never was.  Check.  For the past few years Lance had worked in Salt Lake City.  He faithfully rode the bus every morning.  In January of 2013 the express bus  was cancelled and replaced with the train.  Lance rode it one time and it was a nightmare.  A few days later he moved his office permanently to Orem.  So out of character for Lance to make such a move, so quickly.  Had he not done that, less than six weeks later when Tatum had her seizure he would have been in Salt Lake City, over an hour away, stranded without a car!  What a tender mercy that I didn't even know to ask for.  They were able to get Tatum stable enough to move her to a room.  They kept the equipment to intubate her in the room for the first day or so, just in case.  I don't remember a lot about the rest of that day.   I don't remember calling people, I don't remember who came.  I do remember all of the answers to my prayers, and I remember the looks on all of my kids faces when they came to the hospital and saw Tatum for the first time, and after we told them that she had the same thing that Trevin had.  That will forever be etched in my brain.  The answers to my prayers will forever be etched in my heart.  Those miracles are simply undeniable.

February 12th, 2014 did not work out like I had envisioned either.  I called my doctors office on Tuesday and they told me that they had another appointment on the 12th, so I asked them if I could come and visit them on the 13th instead. Then Lance was sick on the 12th and stayed home for work, so any chance of me just sitting on the couch with a pint of ice cream, crying, reading a book were out of the question.  As I was getting ready that morning, I got a little burst of energy.  I have to capitalize on these moments because they don't come super often anymore, part age part grief I'm sure.  I did a few things around the house and then I went to run some errands.  We had to go to Provo, so I decided to pick up some yummy ranch from the creamery and of course we had to get some ice cream.  Hilary wanted Vanilla, just like me when I was little. She requested sprinkles on her cone!  Best part is, the girl did it for her.

My niece had asked if she and her husband could come down and see us that night, so I hurried and ran my errands and came home so we could get dinner ready for them.  It actually felt nice to be a little bit distracted, with some tasks that I needed to complete.  I think that I did pretty good holding it together and not being too sad.  Enter the teenagers!
I was in the kitchen getting things ready and I asked Hayden to empty our recycle garbage.  He began his regular ritual of asking why I always ask him, why doesn't anybody else ever do anything, etc. etc.  Finally I couldn't take it anymore.  I won't give all of the details but it involved me crying, slamming of doors.  You get the picture.  Not sure why I allow him to push my buttons, but I do.  And he loves it.  A few minutes after he had left the room and I was quietly crying to myself, peeling potatoes of course, Hilary came quietly in and smiled really big and said "I think you need a kiss".  Yep, the three year old saves her brothers life AGAIN!  She knows just what to say sometimes.
My niece and her husband came down and brought all of us some sweet Valentines and some yummy macaroons.  We had a good dinner and good conversation.  They are very sweet to remember such a tender day with us.  I can't believe that it has been a year and yet I can't believe that it has ONLY been a year.  Again, time is weird.
As my niece and her husband were leaving my hospital pager went off.  It was a cell phone number instead of a hospital number, so I wasn't sure what that meant.  I called the number to find out that one of our nurses baby had died that night.  A few minutes later I got a text message from one of my good friends that they had found melanoma in one of her moles that they removed.  I hope that every February 12th isn't going to be like this.   Yikes.
I slept on the couch that night, remembering what it felt like to watch Tater bug sleep just across from me on the other side of the couch.  I miss those nights with her, watching her monitors, checking her oxygen, putting milk in her feeding pump, stroking her sweet head, holding her when she was sad or couldn't sleep, kissing her a million times, smelling her (I am obsessed with the smell of my babies), telling her all of the things I wanted her to know, because I knew our time was short.
The next day was a really good day.  I was able to get all of my morning things done and I had plenty of time to get things ready to go to my Pediatricians office.  I was able to sit down and write them the thank you that I had been wanting to for several months, so that felt good to finally do.  Lance was feeling a little better than the day before, but he was still home from work so that he wouldn't infect his coworkers.  This was great because I was able to leave my partner in crime behind for this visit.  I wasn't sure how it was going to go down once I got to their office.  I was bringing them lunch, but I wasn't sure if I would just leave it, or if they would have time to visit.  When I got there they were just finishing up with their last patient.  We put the food out on the counter and they all grabbed plates and came and sat in the waiting room.  Every one of them sat there and we spent their entire lunch hour eating and visiting and laughing.   It was seriously one of the funnest hours I've had in a long while.  I just love each one of them for all that they have done for me and my family.  I just wanted them to know that.  How do you thank people that have been so supportive to you for almost 21 years.  They have cared for us and mourned with us.  They are good people.
When I got home I asked Hilary how her day was and if she had fun with dad.  She said that she had fun babysitting dad.  Yeah that is probably about right!!
I took to my jammies around 5:00 that day.  Best day!
The next day was Valentines day.  I decided that I was going to do Valentines for myself.  Sometimes all that I want is a clean house for a gift.  I decided to surprise the kids and do their chores.  I cleaned up their rooms, scrubbed their bathrooms, vacuumed the upstairs.  It felt really good.  Happy valentines day to me.  One of my friends had  brought me a huge dinner on the 12th.  It lasted for about five meals.  I had some left over so a few of my friends came over with their kids and we had lunch together.  Then we visited for a bit.  Then back to reality.  That night Lance and I were supposed to go to the Valentines dance in our area, but when he got home he was still pretty sick.  He brought me really pretty roses, and then we shuffled him off to bed.  I really like the dance, but I was OK to stay home and watch the Olympics.  I am sure everyone was grateful to not have the sicky breathing all over the yummy food!
When your husband is sick, this is sometimes what ends up being your Valentines dinner.

Here we are to today.  Today is the kids big Sweethearts dance at the high school.  Hayden was going to his first dance!  He ended up getting asked by one of my really good friends daughter.  So funny, and weird.  We have known each other since they were babies.  Too funny that they are friends.  The theme was Great Gatsby, so Halea was thrilled.
So cute.
She is definitely in her element.  She made her cute head band.  Adorable.
 Her date..
Her group...
Life continues.  I am so grateful for the life I have.  I have constant reminders, with the work that I am so lucky to get to do, of what is really important in life.  I don't always remember or act like I know, but I am trying really hard to keep that perspective.  I am really lucky.

Sorry for the extremely long post.  I forgive anyone who couldn't make it through reading ALL of it.  I really just wanted to recount my memories of February 12th 2013 so I don't forget how the Lord has blessed all of us.  Forever grateful.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

February 11, 2013...

One year ago today I was probably putting sweet Tatum to sleep about this time of night.  No idea that it would be her last day "healthy".   No idea that our lives were going to change the very next morning.  No idea that her time with us was about to start ticking away.  No idea that she would never be able to lift her head or move her arms or legs again.  No idea that every prayer that I had been praying for the past three weeks were about to be answered.  No idea that I was about to be encircled by love that only Heavenly Parents could provide, through the most difficult year of my life.  No idea of the miracles that we were all about to witness.  No idea how close our guardian angels really are.

Last year this day was a Monday.  Tatum had been throwing up the Friday before and ended up staying in the hospital Friday, Saturday and came home on Sunday.  On Monday we went up to Primary Children's hospital for an appointment with a GI doctor.  When we made the appointment, a few months before, we were still investigating her inability to gain weight.  By this time, I knew in my heart of hearts that we were trying to get a jump on the onset of her Alpers syndrome.  We still had no medical confirmation that Tates had Alper's, so Lance was still being very positive and a little naive.  I was pretending to be positive, as I was secretly praying to try and orchestrate the onset of her disease.   Our appointment with the doctor was pretty uneventful.  When we told him, sort of in passing as we were getting ready to leave, that Tatum had been admitted to the hospital for vomiting he casually said "Lots of kids with mitochondrial disease have vomiting episodes".  Lance and I looked at each other, and my heart sank.  We quickly went through the motions of getting checked out and left the hospital.  As we left, Lance made said that he was glad that our baby didn't look sick like the big picture of the baby that is on the front of the hospital building.   The next time we entered the hospital, several weeks later he made the comment that he wished that our baby looked that healthy.  Perspective.

After leaving the hospital we decided to stop at our favorite (maybe my favorite) Chinese food restaurant since we were in the area and we probably wouldn't make it out for Valentines day.  The man who seats you always recognizes me and he was very sweet and took a close look at Tatum.  The food was fantastic.  Lance's fortune read: Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.  I didn't think much about it, but it seemed ominous.  Lance put it in his pocket and kept it.

I can't remember what I was exactly thinking this day in February.  I know that my emotions must have been heightened because of what the GI doctor had said about the vomiting episodes.  I am sure that I did not sleep well, I rarely did.  By this time I had already been praying fervently that her seizure not come in the night while I was sleeping.  I wanted to be awake and able to help Tatum immediately.  Trevins seizure had come at 3:00 in the morning.  I sat up straight in the middle of the night, like something had woke me up.  I went to check on him.  He was in the room down the hall from us, and we lived in a very old house that had those very thick walls.  When I got to his room I saw that his eyes were open and he was convulsing, but he could not make any noise.  I know that angels woke me up.  There is no other explanation.  It has always made me feel horrible to think about how long he was seizing before I was able to get to him.  He must have been scared and wanting one of us to come.  This has always haunted me.

I have been apprehensive about reliving these last months with Tates.   I wasn't sure how to spend these hard anniversary days. We still have things that we have to do, unfortunately we can't stop life.  Halea had her Sterling Scholar interview this afternoon, so I was trying to be emotionally available for her because she was very nervous.  She came home and got ready around 12:00.  As I was walking out of my bathroom I hugged her and wished her good luck, I told her to be herself, and then I told her that she had two very aware guardian angels.  Hilary said "two angels?"  I said "Yes Tatum and Trevin".  She looked very frustrated and said, "Tatum and Trevin are my angels."  I smiled and said I know, but they are Halea's too cause we share."  She seemed satisfied with that.
A few of my friends and I decided to go back to our favorite Chinese restaurant in celebration of Tatum and her life, her example, the gift she was to all who knew her. To reenact that last day with her healthy.  My fortune today: "Stop searching.  Happiness is just next to you."  I am sure that she would not want me to be looking back on the happiness that I "had", but to look forward to the happiness that is all around me and up ahead.  I have to choose to be happy.  Tatum fought and worked for every breath those last three and a half months that she lived.  She would want us to all live with that same fervor.  And so I will.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

I Know, not Despite, but Because....

Saturday morning Lance and I got up early and went to the Temple and then we came home, ate, changed and headed up to the mountains.  We wanted to go snow shoeing.  We weren't sure how the snow would be because there has not been a lot of snow that has stuck around in the valleys.  We were pleasantly surprised! Right when we pulled into the parking lot it started to snow.  By the time we started hiking it was really coming down.  There was a ton of snow.  It was so much fun.  It was so beautiful and quiet, except for the occasional snow mobile.  We hiked for a few hours then headed back to reality.

This was our view coming back down the mountain.  Just another beautiful winter day in Utah.  I was a little freaked out tonight when I heard on the news that there was a snow shoer killed at the very spot that we were hiking on the same day that we were there.  Made me think that maybe we need to arm ourselves with a little more safety equipment.  Feeling sad for that girl and her family.

When we got home we started preparing for Holden's scout dinner.  It was a Luau theme, so we put together a volcano cake.  I am not always "that" mom, but Saturday I was at least trying.  We baked the cakes, and decorated with the frosting.  Holden, of all of the kids, gets the most excited over these kind of creative adventures.  That's probably why I try, because he makes it fun and he is appreciative.  It wasn't perfect, but we did our best and it did smoke.  We put a little tea light holder in the top of the cake and put a little dry ice and water in it and voila it smoked.  (don't be mistaken, we got the idea off of the Internet)
When we told Hilary it was a Luau theme (we explained it as "beach") she ran upstairs and came down with this get up.  Her swimsuit, including her sun hat and sunscreen!  She kills me.
You can barely see, but there is smoke coming out of the top.

Sunday morning the kids and I got up early and headed off to St. George.  Our good friends daughter is going on a mission and she was giving her talk in church today.  I was pretty nervous, because I was driving with the kids by myself because Lance had assignments that he needed to do.  The weather through that drive can be very volatile and I panic driving in bad weather through the mountains.  I watched the news for several days leading up to it, and it seemed like it was going to be fine.  On the drive down everyone except for Heidi fell asleep, so I had some good thinking time, listening to beautiful music.  A few weeks ago we were talking about women who made an impact in the scriptures in one of our church classes.  The first one that came to my mind was the woman who had the faith that if she just touched the robe of Jesus as He passed by that she could be healed.  While I was driving a favorite song of mine came on.  It is by Mercy River and it is called "The Robe".  It came up a lot during our rotation on our stereo when Tates was sick.  It refers to this woman in the scriptures and it talks about if it isn't to be that you are healed, to please "wrap me in the robe, and hold me til I go".  It just always makes me think of Tater bug.  It truly was an honor to hold her til she went.  She had the faith she needed, it just wasn't her miracle to be healed.
We arrived in St. George and went to the church.  Our sweet friend has been called to the Arkansas mission, American Sign Language.  Her dad served a sign language mission 20 years ago, and their family has been attending and serving in a deaf branch for 7 or  8 years.  A lot of families would probably just go and support their dad, but all of their kids have picked up sign and are nearly fluent.  It is the coolest thing.  She gave her entire talk in sign language.  Luckily they are kind to the hearing so they have a speaking interpreter.  I get so mesmerized watching the people sign, sometimes I forget to listen.  I tried really hard to pay attention.  She gave the greatest talk.  It was all centered around the Savior and His Atonement that is available to all.  She did fantastic.  Then three of her cousins sang a song, while her two sisters signed the words.  Her brother blessed the Sacrament in sign.   All of the songs were done in sign, and much of the congregation were signing the songs.  It was a truly moving meeting.
One of the other men that spoke talked a little bit about his conversion.  He told how his uncle and grandfather were preachers, and that when he was born deaf he broke that generational pass down of the career.  He said he didn't know why he was born deaf.  He wondered if it wasn't so he could eventually find the LDS church.  If he had not been deaf he would have certainly grown up to be a preacher where he would have never been available to meet the missionaries.  It was very sweet and sincere how he said it.  He said he had never minded being deaf, and he felt like it had ultimately changed his life.  I thought it was such an interesting perspective.
After church we went back to our friends home for a few hours to visit and eat together.   Naturally, a lot of the people were deaf.  When deaf people talk they move their arms around a lot more than the hearing, because they are using their hands.  I looked over just in time to see Holden walk right into a mans arm as he was communicating with another person.  Holden had just loaded up his plate with about five desserts.  The biggest piece of cake flew up in the air and landed right on another deaf persons lap, who was innocently sitting on the couch.  He was an older gentlemen and had other disabilities that required a walker.  Holden just stood there for a minute.  I yelled over to him to get the cake off of the poor mans lap.  He looked bewildered and embarrassed.  Poor guy.  The man sitting next to me asked if he was my son.  I laughed and said no, then I smiled and told him I was just kidding.  Holden quickly helped the man get the cake off of his leg and the man was a good sport.  I noticed that Holden had cake in his hair so I went over and helped him clean it up.  Poor guy.
We started packing up around 4:30 so we could make the 4 hour drive home and get home at a decent hour.  It is always sad to leave our friends and the beautiful weather.
Cute girls, just a year apart.  This could be Halea in a year!
As we started our journey home, everyone fell asleep again.  I had more time to think and ponder.  The other day I was talking to someone and I said something about "when my sister died".  The person whom I have known for several years, took a double take and said that she did not know that my sister died.  She gave me this sad pitiful look and said "are you kidding me!?"  It made me think about how people must perceive my life.  Some would probably say that I have a testimony "despite" the fact that I have faced some pretty hard challenges in my life.  I look at it totally different.  I know that the trials that I have had in my life have shaped me into who I am.  I know that I have a testimony, "because" of what I have seen and experienced, not despite.  Now, am I glad that my sister and my two children died?  Absolutely not.  I would give all that I have to have those three amazing people back in my life today.  The lessons and changes in my character that have come from their impact in my life, however, are priceless.  I hope that I honor them in the way that I conduct myself and live my life, until I get to wrap my arms around them again.  They have helped me to know our Savior in a personal way that I might now have ever experienced had I not had to rely completely on Him during those difficult times in my life.  Through that reliance, I have felt His love for me.  I know that He knows and understands me because I have seen how He has succored me through those trials.

Sometimes Lance and I feel like it would have been good for our kids to live outside of the state of Utah, so that they could have had more missionary experiences and maybe had to really stand up for what they believe in.  We just think that can always help to strengthen your own testimony if you sometimes have to stand on your own, and be different from those around you.  Tonight when we were driving home we started flipping through the radio stations.  At one time there were 4 different religious stations playing hymns for us to choose good music from!  They were playing a lot of the Easter songs, like "Consider the Lilies", "He is Risen", "Beautiful Savior".  Tonight I was grateful to be living in Utah.  I like and appreciate our nerdiness.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Going for Gold...

I have been really working on my "month of distractions".  The 14 Days of February has been really fun, at least for me and Hilary and Holden.  I am not sure if the other kids really care, but that's OK, it is really for me anyway:)  Hilary has been very excited every morning to look in her little box to see what her surprise is. The other day she looked early in the morning.  About 10 am that morning I heard her gasp and run up the stairs.  I wasn't sure what she was doing.  A few minutes later she came sadly down the stairs, her eyes were a little red and teary.  I asked her what was the matter.  In a sad, cracking voice she said, "I didn't get a prize in my box".  Then I reminded her that she had got it early that morning.  She got this great big smile and said "Oh yeah", and then she was fine.  So cute.  Now the pressure is on.  I think next year I will add some service during the days.  Maybe I will be more organized by then:) Nice thought at least. 

A few days ago I was watching a show that was highlighting having a "Go for the Gold" Olympic opening ceremonies party.  I thought that sounded really fun, so I told the kids they could invite a few friends, and I invited a few friends.  It was really fun, and again something that I would not normally do.  
Yummy food....
good sign....
.  Lots and lots of candy..., fun friends...Ugly team America sweaters...
Oh and the opening ceremonies.  Party complete.

A few days ago Hilary was sitting at the bar and I was doing some things on the computer.  I was half listening to her talking to herself.  Then I heard her say, "It would be bad if you died in our home".  I told her that I wasn't going to die (after I said the words I regretted saying them.  I can't really make that promise, can I?)  Then she said "Well, Tatum died".  Ouch.  I said "yes she did but remember that her body was sick, not like we get sick with the coughs, but her body was born different than ours".  She said yes that she knew that, but she still didn't seem comforted.  Poor little thing.  Pretty sad that she even puts the connection and understanding together that because her sister died, so can her mom.  I hope that we can somehow help her use all of these experiences to make her life more meaningful.  I feel like losing my only sister at 7 has definitely shaped me into a much more compassionate person.  Hopefully she will feel the same.  

The other night I was at the hospital and I was working with a family that had a sweet little baby that had died just before birth.  One of the grandmas was watching me clean her little granddaughter.  I was wearing my Tatum bracelet (I wear it every day) and she said it was such a pretty bracelet.  I thanked her.  I was glad that she didn't ask any more questions about it because I didn't want to take anything away from their moment, but it made me feel good to know that someone had noticed my bracelet, a twin to the one that Tatum was wearing.

Some family updates:  Halea made it to the next phase of her Sterling Scholar award, she got an interview to see if she will go to the semifinals.  Not everyone got an interview, so this was a big deal.   
Hayden passed step four of six to getting his drivers license.  He is such a funny kid.  I was at the DMV on my sixteenth birthday and so was Halea.   I could not wait to drive.  He is not nearly as motivated apparently.  
Holden is constantly creating.  I came home the other day and he had made his own Valentines box.  What?!   He is so funny.  He also added "fire" to the jet packs that he made for he and Hilary.
Heidi has been doing a lot of drawing and sketching.  All of the kids seem to have that talent, obviously inherited from me.

We have been having a difficult family situation in our extended family.  It has made me very sad, and also very grateful for the beautiful experiences that our family has been able to experience over the past almost 23 years that Lance and I have been married.  We have had some very hard, sad things to accept and work through, but I would not change any of it.  Every bit of it has made us stronger, more loving, more forgiving and understanding, more faithful, more obedient, more hopeful.  I feel like one of my main focuses as a parent and wife right now is to maintain the beautiful spirit that we have been blessed with for the past few years in our home.  I know that our exposure to the powerful feelings of the spirit are vital to our protection from the crazy world that swirls around us.  I am grateful for that knowledge.  Tatum has left an imprint on our lives that will forever be a protection to us all, if we just remember.  We will remember and never forget.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

14 Days of February...

I can't believe that it is February.  I knew that this month was going to be a hard one, and it has been thus far.  The other day I was watching a show and I heard someone talking about doing the 14 days of Valentines for their kids.  I didn't get to actually see what their ideas were, but I decided that doing something nice for the kids every day and focusing on all of the qualities that I love about them would help me take my mind off of remembering what happened to our life just 12 months ago.  I kept thinking about going out and getting the supplies that I needed for the next few days, but in Heather style I was at Walmart at 1:00 in the morning on January 31st, actually February 1st.  I found cute little boxes to put outside of their doors, a little trinket to put in their boxes for each of them for each day and pre cut hearts that I could stick on their doors each day with a quality that I love about them written on it.
 It has been a good distraction, but today it hit me that it was ground hogs day.  Last ground hogs day Tates was happily sitting in her bumbo seat while I was making my funny ground hog cookies that I found on Pinterest.  I remember it so vividly because she was so happy and that day was just fun and I was proud of my cookies because that is not something that I would normally do.  We had no idea that our time with her was quickly ticking away.
These are my most favorite pictures of her, taken on that groundhogs day.  The top picture shows her wise eyes.  I am sure she was soaking us all in.

This month has also started off a little strange.  On Thursday there was a weird shooting and killing of a Sherrif Deputy, not too far from where we live.  It was such a sad, sad situation.  It was just another reminder that life is so fragile.  At any moment, any one of us could be called home.  We just don't know.  Just like we had no idea how quickly Tates would end her stay with us on earth.  These things always remind me to live life, the best that we can.   My heart just broke for this family.  I found out later that I knew the officers sister, through some mutual friends.  I have such a hard time when officers are targeted by these evil people because they are out there protecting all of us.   Such a huge sacrifice.
Then on Friday I was called by another family to go up to a hospital in Salt Lake to do some hand molds of their parents because their dad was dying.  Before I went I ran down to the hospital in Provo.  Hilary was with me, of course.  We went into a supply closet and as we were leaving she spotted something.  She said "those are the pink suckers!"  I looked down and saw the pink spongies that we used to use to wet Tatum's mouth and to brush her teeth.  I said "yes, those are what we used to use for Tates ha?"  She said yes and then we had a little conversation about that.  It was sweet that she remembered those.  She used to love to help wet Tater bugs mouth for her.  I am sure it felt so good to Tatum.
 When I got to Salt Lake,  I was taken aback a little.  This poor man was literally probably hours from dying.  His breathing was very labored, but he was still a little responsive.  His family was gathered around.  It brought back a lot of memories of my sister in law that died a little over a year ago. I was grateful to be there and hopefully help them preserve a good memory of their parents.  I don't know why I have been called to do this for people, but I feel so lucky to do it.   I am always grateful for the spirit that is so tangible during those very difficult times.  Angels truly do come to comfort and support.
Luckily Lance and I had planned a date with our neighbors, because I was in desperate need for some fun by Friday night.  It was a great night.  We went for Thai food and it was delicious.  We just sat and talked for a few hours.  Their son and Hayden are good friends and so we have a lot to talk about.  It was the highlight of the week for sure.

Saturday morning I had a funeral to go to.  (stop being jealous of all of the fun things I get to attend) It was for a sweet baby that I got to meet at the hospital.  It was a beautiful celebration.  I know I have said this before, but I actually really like going to funerals.  I never walk away the same.  I always learn something.  The spirit was very sweet.  The only thing that could have made it better is if the little boy that was sitting  in front of me  would have not been picking his nose and eating it!  Why are kids so gross sometimes?!

Saturday night my friend and I had planned to take Heidi and her daughter that is Heidi's age out for some shopping.  Halea also decided to grace us with her presence, probably because there was going to be food involved.  Again I was in need of some light fun.

 We ended up at the Cheesecake factory.  Wow.  Having regrets about this!
Heidi reading to Hilary.  She is such a great big sister.

I have had a lot of reminders this week that we are never alone in our journey, if we will just allow the Savior in, He will carry our burden.  Also, there is always someone out there that is going through something harder.  I never like to compare myself or my situation to others because what everyone goes through is different.  But I know that what my family and I are going through is not the worst thing that we could experience.  There have been so many amazing blessings through this journey.  Knowing this will never make the hurt go away, but it surely makes it a little more bearable.