Tuesday, January 24, 2017

I Have A New Friend.






I finally have given myself permission to be myself, and I am pretty great!
I feel like I have finally become friends with "the real me".
The real me is happy, even when I am alone.
The real me is able to set goals and not be afraid of the hard work it takes to achieve them.
The real me stands up for my beliefs, always.
The real me loves myself for who I am, not what others think of me.
I am now doing things that I love, because I want to.
2016 was such a great year for our family.

In March I went to my very first Utah Caucus. 
I was selected to be a Utah state Delegate. 
It has been such a great learning experience so far. 
I love everything politics, and this has been so fun. 
Man, I have learned a lot! 
The Utah Republican Convention was pretty fun too.
 I love being informed, and now I really feel like I have a vote, 
which is really awesome!
(Sorry Cory, I will stop talking about politics. On this post anyway.)


At the beginning of the year I made a goal to train for a half-marathon. 
A few of my new friends were all signing up. 
I had never run more than a few miles at a time in my life. 
But I thought, "Hey, why not?". 
 I had to work extra hard to strengthen my right leg. 
But it did get strong enough. 
In June 2016, after four months of training, 
I completed my very first half-marathon! 
It was such a great experience. 
Reaching the finish line was very overwhelming. 
I was tired, but I was also so proud of myself. 
I am great at making goals, but the sticking with them 
until they are complete has always been hard for me. 
The finish line of this race held so much significance for me. 
I felt strong for the first time since before I was sick. 
I felt like I was back. I was no longer defined by my limitations. 
I now had the ability to do anything I set my mind to do.
So, what did I do as I felt so empowered? 
I cried, of course!
This was my view after I crossed the
finish line. I cried tears of joy,
and ate my little heart out!
Loved this!!!
One happy girl!!

       

I can't really complain about running in Utah. 
What a beautiful state I live in!
Antelope Island. I actually took this
while I was sitting in my car.
The beautiful trail by my house.

Life in Utah has brought lots of visitors, and lots of fun. Cory finished his Master's in Taxation Degree (I know, he is super smart. I am so proud of him!) over the summer, and we finally had some free time. The fall got busy again because I decided to go to school to get a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing. I needed a few classes to qualify to apply for the program, so I completed 12 units over the Fall. It took a while for my brain to warm up to school again. But I have loved it! I even had to dissect a fetal pig for my Anatomy and Physiology classes. That was quite the experience.
Now I just wait, and hopefully I will get in to the Spring 2017 Nursing program!!

Here are some of the things we were up to during the rest of the year:






G loves her stuffed animals.
We even had a wedding for two of them!

This boy is growing so fast!
We love him so much!
All we need is LOVE and S'mores.


My crew. We are a two cart family.
One for the kids, one for the groceries.

t-Ball might be one of the cutest things ever!
This boy brings us so much joy!
Excited for Tucano's.
If you are ever in Salt Lake City, this restaurant is a must!

This girl keeps things
very entertaining.
Love this guy.


Salt Lake City Temple
Visitor's Center.

We had so many apricots this year!
We love that Utah has all four seasons.


These pictures don't need captions.
 These kids are so good at entertaining themselves.
We even found the high school from the
High School Musical Movie!

This beauty turned 8 this year.
It was so special to watch her get baptized by her dad.

This little cutie loves being our baby.
So much personality in this little body.

video
If I don't text you back, 
it means my phone has been hijacked. 
She cracks me up!

 We had family pictures taken just before Christmas. 
It was SO COLD, but they turned out so good.




Second Christmas in our new house. 
We have so much to be grateful for!


Our life is far from perfect. But we are so blessed. We are not rich, but we have a steady income. We have a warm house, two cars, clothes to wear, and plenty of food to eat. We have access to the world's best medical care. 
I truly feel like we live in the greatest country in the world. I am so grateful for all of the blessings in my life. 
If I have learned anything these past couple of year it is that God loves ME. He knows my struggles, and he blesses me constantly. 
I know He loves each of us, and is aware of our specific needs.

There was a time this year when my sister had to have an emergency c-section to save her baby. 
She had to be taken back into surgery after he was born because she was hemorrhaging. 
All while her baby was being cared for in the NICU.
I felt so helpless. 
My sister was over a thousand miles away, possibly dying, 
and I couldn't do anything.
I found a quiet room, and prayed and prayed and prayed. 
This was 2016, women don't die in childbirth.
Let alone my own sister!

My prayer was interrupted by a very loud tapping on my window.

I tried to keep praying. I had important things to pray about. But the bird would not stop. Finally I realized what the bird was trying to help me remember. I opened my Bible to Matthew 10:29-31


God was aware of the situation. Everything was going to be okay.
 "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered."

Thankfully my sister, is alive and well.
Her baby has grown into a cute, healthy, chubby baby.
Am I the only one who has to learn the same lessons over and over?!

This is my new motto. 




There is so much negativity surrounding us, trying to bring us down. 
I know if we keep our focus on the Lord, we can feel peace. 
No matter our circumstances.
We have no reason to fear. 
God knows and loves every one of us.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Tears


We shed tears for many reasons. Tears of sadness, regret, loss, loneliness, and tears of pure JOY! Sometimes I cry just because I turn on the TV and catch the last 5 minutes of Father of the Bride. (What can I say? I love my Dad!).  
I have shed a lot of tears over the last couple of years. 
I have cried out of fear, out of grief, out of pain, 
out of joy of witnessing miracles, and out of feeling so loved and supported.
I have cried out of guilt, because I am healthy, while others die. 
I have a wonderful life, while others struggle.

This week marked a huge Milestone for me. I got my braces off! My teeth are actually touching in a lot of places! And best of all, this was the end of treatment for me!!! Other than periodic scans, I AM DONE! So while yes the braces were annoying, and just having them off is exciting in itself, I might have cried some big fat ugly tears when they came off.
I was completely overcome with emotion. 
I feel like I officially have my life back.

I still have the same limitations as before. But now its not something I will have to think about every time I look in the mirror, or meet someone new, or smile in a picture. My face will never be symmetrical. The right side will always be a little "different" than before, but no one would ever know unless they compared before and after pictures side by side. My teeth are never going to be "perfect". But I have all of my teeth! And they look pretty dang good.
I know how bad it could have been, and I am choosing to be happy, and move on. Easter and Spring are the celebrations of new life. I am so grateful for my chance to keep living. 
We have been in Utah since September and we love it so far!
Here are some things we have been up to since we moved. 
We miss our family and friends, but have made great friends here, and have had fun seeing extended family that live nearby.


In November we got to go to Southern California with my family. We stayed in one huge house, we went to Disneyland, Sea World, and the beach. It was a lot of crazy and a lot of fun! 
We took family pictures at the beach, and some of my kids were willing to smile:)

The whole group. Don't you wish you stayed in one house with all of us?!



video

All of the kids had a number on the back of their reunion shirt in order from oldest to youngest. They even saved number 10 for our baby Lorraine. Which meant a lot. The line got a little crazy down at the end. Such a fun crew!


Our first picture with Mickey where no one was afraid!

We survived our first winter. We actually loved the snow! 
But we have a garage, so it wasn't too big of a deal.
 Christmas lights at Tempe Square in Salt Lake City. 
It was freezing, but so beautiful!
 Even Rosie loved the snow:)
 This is the "adult" tree looking out or front window. 
The snow was especially beautiful when we were warm and inside looking out.

The kids adjusted really fast, and loved it!




 Being in Utah is SO different than California. Not good or bad necessarily, just different. It took me a little bit to adjust. I wasn't sure why everyone was talking to me in line at the store. I may have gripped my purse a little tighter as people stood in "my bubble" in public places. 
But then I realized, people here are just so friendly! There are great people in California too, it just takes longer to get to know each other.
This was on the candy machines at the mall, it sums up our Utah experience so far perfectly.


 I mean, seriously, how awesome is that! Who knew that a quarter could make our day?!



 In Utah we are surrounded with wonderful people, beautiful scenery, and beautiful temples!
Such a great reminder that I get to be with the guy I chose even after we die. 
And our little people get to be ours forever too!
Ev's face in this picture made me laugh until I couldn't breathe.
That boy is hilarious!


Our kids spend more time outside than they probably have in their entire lives. 
They love it and I love it! Utah is Mayberry for us.
We have had fun making our house our own. Here is the backsplash in progress.
Here is the finished product! I love how it turned out!  




To sum up, we are happy. Our life is not perfect at all. I suck at keeping house, and I would much rather read a book, or do something that I think is fun than fold laundry. Sometimes I need a break, and I complain to my husband about needing said break more than I should. I have a love/hate relationship with our dog. It might even be more of a like/hate relationship. I have a hard time being patient with myself and others. I like results, and I want them immediately.
I am trying to be more compassionate. I am trying to be more present for my children, I am trying to love people the way they are, even if they add no value to my life.
I am trying to let myself cry when I feel the tears coming. I don't like people to see me cry, because to me tears=weakness. But if I have learned anything over the last two years its that tears are healing, no matter the reason we are shedding them.

Less than 10 days until this guy is done with tax season.
He is my happy place!






Wednesday, September 2, 2015

One Year- We are Moving!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo1VInw-SKc


I have been loving "Fight Song" by Rachel Platten. To me it sums up exactly how I feel, and exactly what I have been doing this last year. I can't believe it has been 1 year since my first surgery! I celebrated by having one last surgery:) This 1 year anniversary has brought on a whole range of emotions, and life has brought lots of blessing and changes our way.

In February I got braces. Yep, braces. And I was (not) excited. When my tumor was first found, I was told I would lose some of my bottom teeth when my jaw bone was removed. Because I was so blessed and they did not have to remove that part of jaw, I was able to keep all of my teeth! With my jawjoint missing, my entire lower jaw has shifted to the right. This is because the muscles act like rubber bands, and the bone was no longer there to balance the pull. So, the braces are to try and fix my bite. After surgery my teeth were now only touching in one spot. So braces were put on to shift my teeth to a position where they might be able to touch and bit and chew. There is no promised outcome, but I have great doctors who are doing their best. Its hard when there are no prior cases to compare to. 
The braces could be on for a while, but I am trying to keep things in perspective and to continue to be grateful that I have all of my teeth (And I have clear braces on the top).


In June, our family had the opportunity to go to Disneyworld! We have some amazing friends that helped us make that dream a reality, and we had an amazing trip with them. I have a lot of guilt from being sick for so long. Guilt about my kids getting the short end of the stick. Missing out on activities that I couldn't take them to, or just being preoccupied in general. So since I have been feeling so good, I have been trying to make that up to them. I know it wasn't my fault, or anyone's fault, but it still happened, and my kids suffered, and my marriage suffered. So this year I have been on a mission to change that. Disneyworld was a great start!

 






We also decided this year that we needed to sell our house. We had been thinking about it for sometime, but obviously we were busy with other things. So this summer, we sold it, and it sold fast! We had no idea what our next move would be, but we knew we were on the right track. We moved into an apartment on a short-term lease and a lot of faith. Fast forward a few months, and we are packing to leave for Utah in a few weeks! Who would've thought?! Cory got a job in Salt lake and we will be living north of Salt Lake. We are really excited for this next chapter in our lives!

I recently had my one year follow up after my Jaw was removed last August. 
My scans are clear (NO new tumor!), 
and I am adapting to my new circumstances. 
Its to the point now, that I don't think about it all of the time. 
Other than a big scar on my leg (That I told my kids I got from a shark bite. My scar, My story), 
it is almost back to normal. I am the slowest eater in the world, but I was pretty slow before too. 
Most of that is due to talking. I still dont have feeling from the middle of my right cheek to behind my right ear. The doctor thinks that will remain. It feels weird, but its more annoying than anything. The hearing in my right ear is not great, but not completely gone. the doctor said my ear drum is healthy, but it is there is a build up of fluid because its not draining right because its not in the same position it was before. 
It feels as if there is always cotton in my ear. 

In the (3rd)surgery I had a couple of weeks ago, they repaired my septum that was extremely deviated. the right side of my nose was blocked almost completely. This was a separate issue from my tumor surgery, but it is related, because I needed the inside of my nose fixed, so my sinuses and ear could drain properly. With hopes of regaining some hearing in my right ear.

Almost two weeks out and my hearing is already improving! I look the same, other than my nose looks a little straighter because the repair work was on the inside. I asked the doctor to keep me looking the same. I have looked in the mirror and not recognized my reflection before, and I didn't want to do that again. There are a lot of things I dont like about how I look, but I  look like me. An added bonus to my hearing improving, is I can actually breathe! I didn't realize how bad I was breathing before!

As I said before, I feel like my marriage suffered when things were really bad. What I mean by that is not that we weren't still in love, or that we didnt want to be together. But life was hard. Cory was asked to give give give give. It was lobsided and it wasnt fair. Everyone would ask him how I was doing, but no one really thinks about the care-giver. He was amazing! He took care of everything, without complaining. But how long can that go on? I cant imagine if I had been sick for even longer. people who suffer through major illnesses are amazing, but their care-givers are right up there too!

There is also the matter of survivors guilt. At the one year mark for me, I am alive and well, with a long life ahead. There are others who became ill the same time as me, who have now passed on. I get to make memories with my kids and husband, and others are gone. 

Why some people receive miracles like we did, and others suffer and even die, I don't know. It makes me feel guilty, grateful, blessed, indebted...
It's like when your friend miscarries a baby while you go on to deliver a healthy baby.
 I feel so happy and so empathetic all at the same time.

To sum up my update, I know it was long...
I am healthy, happy, and very aware of my blessings. Some friendships have changed, some of my priorities have changed, some relationships have been mended. 

My body is different than it was a year ago, but in most ways I feel like I am more my true self than I have ever been!