What's on the Inside that Counts

So I had an unexpected blessing this last week. My washer stopped working. How is this a blessing you ask? Well, it took me a long while before I figured that out. This washer was just over a year old. And two weeks out of warrantee. SUPER frustrating! Oh, they did offer me an extended warrantee for $235.....I only paid about $400 for it in the first place. My hubby jinxed it by saying "we only need it to last a year".

I thought it might have been the move, but then I remembered it did quit in the middle of a cycle a few times in Arizona. So....not that. I finally broke down and called the landlord to bring the other washer he had in here back. He had it brought that night and I had to clean that up (just like everything else in this house) before using it. Then I ran a load of towels with baking soda and white vinegar. Not only to clean the machine, but the towels as well. Well...what do you know? But those towels came out fluffier then I can remember! Then it hit me...my new shiny washing machine has NOT been washing clothes for a long time! I had noticed the kids clothes were getting pretty dingy. I thought they were just too old. I was going to spend a LOT of money replacing those items. When it wasn't the clothing, it was the washer!!
Lesson learned...just because it looks nice and shiny on the outside, doesn't mean it's good. I think this goes for people too. Don't make a judgement based on the outside appearance. Sometimes the ones that don't look the part might be just the one for the job.
Have a great Easter!!


What do you see?

So what do you see when you look in the mirror? What do you think others see when they see you? Two things that PLAGUE women from their teens on!
So how do we change that? And how do we help the next generation with this?
I have been sewing! SO MANY DRESSES! I am on a mission. To make beautiful yet modest dresses. Some every day, but mostly for special occations.
I LOVE doing this, but I also was concerned that my time was being spent in a material way. I agree there are lots of frumpy options out there and not many that teen girls would like while still covering them up, however my focus is all on appearance. On clothes.
Don't get me wrong, I ADORE fashion. Project Runway one of my favorite shows. However, was I spending my time in the best way by focusing on clothing? I have struggled with this....until NOW!
Last night I had the best lessons on fashion, clothing and modesty! So now I will share with you...

Beauty Redefined
www.beautyredefined.net (not a link, stupid old computer...)

This has me thinking of my body and beauty in a WHOLE different way! And my new business of dresses, as something good. Not material. Helping them have good options for prom and homecoming. This is a GOOD thing! YAY.

And one other thing to share. When the housing market crashed we were deeply effected. But I am so glad that we were. I learned some valuable lessons that help me today.
First, I started sewing again. ALOT. I can make dresses for my girls and my self for about $12. Not bad.
Second, I got creative. With everything. I learned to repurpose and bargain shop. So far in my dress journey, I have two dresses that were $2 each! They do need a LOT of work, but $2?? That wouldn't even cover the thread and zipper! Plus I have some ideas to fit multiple sizes. And maybe do some separates! I am getting excited with this new adventure.
OH, and we are moving....again. I know. This is our 13th move in 18 years! Seriously.....


Home is Where the Heart is

Where is home? It's where those you love are. That was a quote I remember from probably pinterest. Home. Our home has been in many places. Mostly Vegas, Utah, Idaho, Washington, Arizona. We have had big houses and tiny ones. Ones with one bathroom and others with three. Some of our favorite homes are the small ones. For some time we have even lived with family in their homes.
One of my greatest friends Kathy, had her special needs guy, Isaac, go home last night. Home to that heavenly home. And while I was frustrated with a sewing project and having (what I thought was) a hard day, this news brought that all into perspective. Life here is short. We are not merely mortal beings trying to have an heavenly experience, but we are heavenly beings having a mortal experience. (Another quote, don't know who by).
Where do you feel at home. Can you feel at home in a hospital room surrounded by monitors and beeping sounds? Or is home where the yelling happens (mine, I will admit it). Everyone says that the kids are little for only a short time, take advantage of that. I try to. I will also admit, I would MUCH rather sew that play a game with my kids. But some days, you just have to focus on them.
Let the dishes go for one night. Ramen noodles for dinner isn't going to kill them. Try to stay focused on our home. Our heavenly home and make our homes reflect that.
Btw, it's Payton's birthday. She is 10 today. As we celebrate her 10 years here, we also celebrate Isaac and his not quite 8 years here. The light and hope he brought to many. And celebrate the One who made it possible to return home and stay there, despite our short comings.

Some pics of previous homes...

The girls fairy room, Nathan's Transformer room, and the house in St. George...


Bloom Where You Are Planted

Back in 2005 something amazing happened. Death Valley was in bloom. The desert had record rainfall that year and seeds that had been laying dormant for years, some said as long as 100 years, bloomed. It was all because of the rain.

When we lived in Washington it rained. A LOT. Those scenes in Twilight where it's lush and green with moss on the trees and overcast. Yep, that was our life.
We have a good friend that always tells me, "bloom where you are planted". He is meaning, be happy where you are. But I think it can be much more than this.
(Go back three years) We had just come back from our trip to Utah. Back to the cold and rain of Mt. Vernon. On day in August Avery told me she was seeing double. Her eyes were crossed. I thought she was being a silly eight year old. So I didn't think much of it and went about getting ready for the day. Until about an hour later I noticed her feeling her way down the hall. Then I started to panic. There was something really wrong.
The neurologist we say at Seattle Children's had since moved to Oregon. We really didn't have established with any other doctor there. So I emailed him. He immediately called me and instructed me to take her to the ER at Seattle Children's. He would call it in so they would be ready for us. Traffic was pretty bad that day and being new to this, I didn't pack a bag, or eat anything. It was about noon when we got to the ER. The doctors wouldn't let her eat anything until they figured out what was going on, just in case they needed to do a surgery. I didn't want her to feel bad, so I didn't eat either. We were both starving. After about four hours they decided to admit her and start her on steroids. We had been to opthomology by then and saw there was damage to the optic nerve. They then where deciding what to do until tumor board the next Wed. This was Thursday. I remember because it was a gorgeous sunny day and the weekend was coming. I didn't want to spend one of the very few sunny weekends stuck in a hospital. So I begged the doctors to let us go home. They consented. We got to spend the weekend together outside as a family. It was my next blessing.
In order for things to bloom you need not only the sunshine, but rain too.

Since then I have learned a lot about a deep dark place inside me. Before I didn't know it even existed. Sometimes it comes out as depression. A dark place that I go, for no reason at all. Once we moved back to Las Vegas, on rainy days I would turn on all the lights in the house all day long to combat it. Even one day would bring me back to the seasonal depression. After living in a crisis mode for a few years, my adrenals were burnt out. (Self diagnosis). Even if I over did a workout, I would be out of energy for two days. Literally doing laundry was huge. I almost stopped working out. Just a 10 minute a day yoga or light pilates was it. There were some days that I read a book, did the dishes and that was about it. This was a harder transition than I expected it to be. As when we go through different phases of life, you have to adjust. When each baby was born, I had to redo how we did things. When the kids all got in school, that was another adjustment. And now, as we go back to "normal", just about a doctor appointment once a month is all!
I think a lot of the reason we needed to move to Arizona is so we could feel like a normal family. If we had stayed in Vegas, we would always be the cancer family. Avery would always be the sick kid. Here no one knows her as that. We will always be the cancer family, but here we get to decide how to share that. If we didn't tell anyone, they would never know. It's allow me time to heal and not have everyone's first question, "how is Avery?".
In the last few months I have really felt my energy come up. I can do almost a normal workout. Jillian Michaels and me spend quality time together 5 to 6 days a week.

The flowers the desert don't last long. They have very short roots from the little bit of rain they got. When life gives you trails that are like torrential downpour that last for months or years, it helps you roots reach to depths you have never knew where there.

I now feel things on a level I never thought possible. When I read or see other families in treatment or in a hospital, I can actually feel what they are feeling. I can not only sympathise but empathise with them. I can be in that moment with them. Kind of a blessing and a curse.
I try to find purpose in it and use it to be able to in some small way help to lift another mother who is in the middle of the storm with her roots being pushed. Bloom where you are planted.


Brain Tumors and Blessings

As you have noticed (if you are here from before) I have revamped the blog. Every once in a while your closet, makeup and even blog need some updating.
I also edited the tabs down a bit also. The "Threads" tab is anything to do with fabric. My slight obsession...fabric. You can always spot someone who speaks fabric, because they feel their way through stores. We HAVE to feel it!
The other tabs I feel are pretty self explanatory. But I am going to add in another one. Parenting. NOT that I can offer much in the way of advise. Just some things I never knew I never knew until I had kids (and NO that is not a typo). I have learned so much about myself since having kids. I don't think I would have learned .01% of that without those darn kids (that I am really excited go back to school on Monday!)

So to get us started, I was thinking about when Avery got diagnosed. One of the first blessings we got was she was actually misdiagnosed at first.

They day we went to do Avery's MRI I took all the kids with me. It was suppose to be a quick 30 minute procedure and then we were going to do some fun stuff while in Seattle. It had been scheduled toward the end of the day, but there was an ice cream shop the kids wanted to try. And it was summer, so no school. So we all loaded up and went. The other kids got to hang out in the sibling room making crafts, meeting Miss Washington and playing games. Thank goodness for great children's hospitals and all their amenities. But after her being in there for almost an hour the tech came and told me they had to do contrast.
Now, I am not a nurse, but even I knew that they don't do an MRI with contrast unless there is something they are trying to see. And honestly, I didn't panic. And when they said we couldn't leave without seeing a doctor, I was still calm. The doctor explained she had a brain tumor and the radiologist wanted to admit her right then. But he (the neurologist, the only doctor we had at that time) felt she was fine to go home and we would schedule appointments to see other doctors right away. It didn't sound odd. Somehow, it felt right. I don't know how else to say it. Maybe it was because ignorance is bliss and I had no idea how this would affect us. But somehow this didn't feel like a kick in the stomach.
The doctor was saw was actually transferring to another hospital in another state, but said he was going to make some calls and we would be meeting with Dr. Ojemann on that Wednesday. This was Monday.

We did go for ice cream, but my head was starting to process the information. The minute I got home I looked up Dr. Ojemann. He is the HEAD of neurosurgery at Seattle Children's. I at least knew that you do not see heads of departments unless something is really wrong! That's when all the worse case scenarios started playing out in my head.

I had made a crockpot dinner and got the kids all eating when I decided I had better call our bishop. To those of you not LDS, it's a pastor. He wasn't home, so I left the message with his sweet wife. I think all I said was, "they found Avery has a brain tumor." She said she would pass along the message. I hung up the phone and walked over to the table. Before I got even a bite in, there was a knock at the door. It was our bishop. Now this might not sound unusual, but he lived about 15 minutes away. So when his wife called him, by some miracle (not small) he was within 5 minutes of our house! He came in and stayed with us for the evening.
When Chris got home, he came in and put Avery on his lap and for the first and last time that I have ever seen, cried. All the emotions from his dad's tumor and surgery came flooding back and the thought of your child having to go through that I guess was too much even for him.

They did get us in that Wednesday afternoon. It was just Avery, Chris and I that went to Seattle that time. After checking her in we met with the "team". That day it was Dr. Ojemann and Dr. Olsen. They said brain tumor board had met that morning and Avery was on the list of discussions. There were conflicting opinions but with either option, this was basically nothing to worry about.
Most thought it was an optic glioma. Just some discolored tissue, they said like a freckle. Not really doing much. Not growing or causing any issues(I WISH!). I just about laughed out load. Honestly. I had worried for two sleepless nights over a freckle? Seriously? So we went home...totally relieved!

This is our home in Washington. Built in 1903. It had three bedrooms (kind of) and ONE bathroom...don't ask. Oh and no garage. But we did have chickens, bunnies and fat squirrels.

It was summer in Mt. Vernon, Washington. Our first summer there. We had moved from Las Vegas and I was tired of being cold...all....the...time! Not kidding. For example, my mother-in-law came for the 4th of July. The high was 65 degrees. I REFUSED to turn on the heater....in JULY. So I baked a turkey. I figured having the oven on for four hours should heat the 100+ year old house enough I wouldn't have to turn the heater on. And all spring I had suffered from seasonal depression. I didn't know how bad it really was until I took the kids to Utah and had been sitting out at the pool one day, when I realized I finally feel like me again. It was the first time I had ever encountered any type of depression. I had no idea how bad it had gotten. But sitting there in the pool that day I seriously was re-energized.

If Avery had been correctly diagnosed, we would have been dealing with that instead of on vacation in the nice warm sun!
So there you have it. A wonderful bishop and his wife right exactly where and when we needed. A tumor that was so out of character they didn't know what it even was. And sunshine, blessed sunshine. Where the peaceful happy moments roll. Do you have sunshine in your soul today?


My New Years Resolution

About three years ago a good friend of mine turned me onto a new idea. Instead of a New Year's resolution she picked a word to focus on for that year. I LOVED the idea! So for the past three years I have done this. My word for 2014 was HOPE. It's shown up in my life all over the place.

I reached out to my fb friends to get some ideas for this year. I wanted something with action. One suggested ENJOY. I had joy last year, and even though it's close, ENJOY had action to it. I strongly considered this one. I also considered EMBARK. It also is part of the youth theme in our church this year. But it didn't feel right.

At the same time I was considering word options, I got a neat opprotunity. A friend of ours is putting together some really great podcasts and asked Avery and I if we would share some of our story and some of the things we encountered in the way of challenges with cancer. I had been thinking it was time to start sharing some more of the journey we had taken. Not just the treatment updates, but how it actually feels to have a child with a brain tumor. And all the hardships and all the great things we encountered. Then, I had it. That's my word.


I was watching "Heaven is for Real" (if you haven't seen it, you MUST). The father talked abou when he thought he might loose his son. He said "something inside me broke". This resonated with me. I felt like cancer had broken me in a very deep place. I was blessed this year to move to Arizona. Where we weren't the cancer family. Where no one had seen Avery sick. I was able to heal. She was able to be a regular kid (for the most part). I still carry the scars. The memories and lessons of those two years. When I see another family in the middle of their struggle with childhood illness, I feel it deeply. But I can read those stories now. I can offer support to those mothers. I can use that experience to help. I am ready to share. I want to share.

You might learn all sorts of stuff you never wanted to know about me. TMI to the max. But, I am hoping by sharing with you that I will help you to feel something. Or think of something you have never thought of before.

To start our story we have to start at the beginning. Not like the beginning of all man kind, but with my kids. It's funny how their birth stories actually reflect a lot of how their personalities are. I don't know if your kids are like this but here is how mine go.

Nathan. He came two weeks early. My labor was short (four hours) and very hard. My epidural worked for about 10 minutes. The second dose, for about 5. By that time it was too late for any meds. So basically I had him natural.

Avery. She came right on time. My labor was shorter and harder. The nurse sent us home and she was born on the living room floor. (NOT kidding) It was just me, Chris (dad) and the 911 operator. One day I will tell you the WHOLE story. And obviously, no epidural or meds for pain.

Payton. She came early. My labor was short (four hours) but the epidural worked perfect. It was my easiest labor. I actually enjoyed it. I never thought I would ever say that!

Hallie. Came over three weeks early. Chris was in Seattle. I told him not to go. But in Hallie fashion, she took her time (8 hours) and made sure everyone was at the party before she made her entrance. Oh and epidural did work fine.

What this translate into:

Nathan. He is our practice kid. He makes sure we are prepared for his sisters. Really he is a good kid and doesn't challenge us too much (hopefully that doesn't change!)

Avery. DRAMA QUEEN. Had to make a grand entrance. Had to do make sure we all had something to talk about...for years!!

Payton. Wants everything fair and easy. Loves to be on a schedule. Wants no one to hurt or feel bad. My easiest baby and the only child that can handle diabetes.

Hallie. Total yellow personality. Loves a party. Loves to have fun. She did try to come early and let us know, even though she is the youngest, we were not to forget her in any way. We never have.

There you have it. My first SHARE. And don't thing that this blog is the only way I am going to be sharing this year. I am also starting a little business. I am going to share some of my sewing skills and rent modest, beautiful dresses. Mostly for prom and home comings. I will also be sharing in all aspects of my life. You will most likely hear about most of it.