Monday, May 8, 2017

A Daunting Challenge

 
         I have an epic summer vacation plan this summer! We will be camping, hiking, fishing, relaxing, and exploring as a family! Also, we will add up to 19 cancellation stamps to our passport! I have as many reservations planned as I could. Unfortunately , not all national parks allow reservations... many are first come first served. I hope we can secure a site! summer trip 2017!   I am so excited to gaze at the  stars, take a cave tour in Great Basin, eat a ton of smores! This summer cannot get here fast enough!  Making memories together is something I treasure as when I was in therapy full time... we went nowhere all freakin' hot summer long....but now that I am free... WE hit the road and explore!



family goal to cancel as many national parks, monuments, battlefields, ad trails as humanly possible!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Trip Planning



I am enthusiastic, passionate, and creative naturally. My motto is "go big or go home."  I love planning family vacations experiences. I am in the middle of planning an epic road trip back to my home state of Michigan,  I am still waiting for the final "yes" from Ben. This trip will be amazing! We will learn so much history and collect so many cancellation stamps.  I am like Goofy, from the Goofy  Movie.  I may even be a more an extreme version of him. True story. Sometimes, my family looks at me with  my sprawling maps, pinterest ideas on cheap living on the open road, and they smile nervously, or is it sweetly??? They love me and my love for life. I tell them when I die, put my ashes in different baggies and when  they visit a national park... just sprinkle the baggy there. I love nature, fresh air, history, crazy family moments, pb&j road trip sandwiches, crap gas station coffee, laughing hysterically because life is so insane.. and my family loves me for it.  I really hope Ben says "yes". I am ready for some summer fun in the cooler northern part of the country.   I am researching people to stay with for the night... So, I might ask you :) Life is an adventure; it is windy, unpredictable, wild, and a journey and I intend on carpe diem.. each moment even if I am Goofy on steroids, see movie clip below.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

video of my story

Raw Emotions, Hurt.

My fourth child lost her first top tooth tonight. My heart hurts so bad. Milestones with Hannah hurt the most for me. When the stroke happened, she was only 21 months.  We were connected at the hip. I missed out on a lot of her milestones. My sister in law potty trained her, comforted her when I was absent. I will never forget her walking into my hospital room wth her soft, wavy , bleached blonde hair and waving her pudgy hand to me and saying "Hi Mama!" I buried my face in her soft hair and hugged her.

When Hannah began kindergarten, I sobbed. I feel like time is racing, and I am not capturing enough moments. Tonight, she struggled going to bed because she is trying desperately to stop sucking her fingers. Ben taped her fingers, I  cuddled in her bed, holding her taped, listening to soft worship music on her cd player and feeling like my heart was going to break from watching my Lou grow up.

Please stop, I do not feel I am doing a good enough job. Many days I feel so overwhelmed and inadequate to mama five  kids ranging from preschooler to preteen, with a brain injury. I am so inadequate for this job. Jesus, I'm sorry for trying to do the on my own. I don't want to mess this up... but daily, I feel as though I am. I will miss her baby tooth and the beautiful gap between her teeth.

Why does my heart hurt so much? Maybe because ALL  my babies are growing up... and it hurts. I don't know what I'm doing! Sorry this is a rambling, tears are streaming down my face bc life hurts, transition hurts, loss hurts, and I'm still grieving. Gosh I hate grieving.  Hannah stop losing teeth, stop having birthdays, just stay my little Lou  a little while longer.. while I try and catch up to our lost years. I'm sorry, I was absent during those formative of years... I missed you, I'm sorry. I'm sorry my energy isn't always up to speed. Gosh my heart hurts. Your notes to me are so special, I don't deserve your love for me. You are so fancy, love frills, lace, skirts... anything girly. Yet you are amazing at building things, puzzles. You re so creative Lou- you are passionate and determined like your Mama,







Monday, February 13, 2017

Simplistic Dinners

photo credit:simplemost.com



The purpose of a family dinner is to bring people, who happen, too be related,together.   I was blessed with probably close to five full months of meals provided for our family, during the acute stages of my recovery. The meals were fantastic! They blessed us and nurtured our hearts and souls as we gave thanks to God for friends and family who sacrificially gave up their time and money to sign up and bring us a meal.


After the meals waned, for a few weeks, I gave birth to Ezekiel birth.. then they started up again :) God bless those who love to make enchiladas and lasagna !!!

The meals tapered and Krista, my sister in love, assumed that full time role, grocery shopping, meal prepping, preparing, the works. She went from making dinner for one to seven hungry humans.  I resented every ounce of her role in that interim.. but she had no choice... we had to eat! I resented her in that position because not was a daily reminder of what I could no longer do, and it hurt.

After eight months post stroke I was given permission, under supervision, to make my first meal of spaghetti and meatballs. Because I could no longer multi task. The meal looked like this:
1. Boil water
....sit and wait
2. Ask for help to drain the water
...sit and wait
3. Ask for help to open spaghetti jars
...sit and wait for help
4. mix sauce, ask for help to hold the pot , so it did not slide all over the stove top
5. Ask for help to open meatball package ( I had no flexible thinking which stopped me from problem solving anything).
6. preheat oven
sit and wait
7. put meatballs in oven
sit and wait
8. mix meatballs in pot, again ask for help
9. mix in Cesear Salad into a bowl
10. eat- the kitchen had an explosion in it- why was I trying to do this again?


For months , I attempted one meal a week. Eat and every time it was a painstaking issue.

Almost two years post stroke, I moved up to four meals a week they were planned with the assistance of my speed therapist. I was improving! My occupational therapist oversaw my grocery shopping ventures.. my frugal ways never let me....Ha! I knew a good sale when I saw it, pre stoke and post stroke!!!!


By, June 2014..I transitioned from 4 meals to seven meals AND  independent grocery shopping. I would wheel my faithful double stroller to the grocery store and feel giddy knowing I was all alone , shopping for non other than FRUIT, MEAT, VEGGIES, AND TOILETRIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Due to the days being filled with therapy. I would trot off to Frys with the stroller at  night, park it, shop, push my stroller home and unload happy as a clam to once again reclaim an area they didn't know if I would ever regain. Thank you Jesus!

Krista painstakingly researched and adopted countless recipes for me to use, i.e.: Frys and Walmart, in their freezer section have cut up onions!!!!!!  If the recipe called for chicken, we would use canned chicken.   have the most amazing can opener and lid openers and adaptive  cutting boards! I have come so far, my kitchen is so orderly and clean now and I can multi task now :)

We eat dinner nightly together, we are thankful not because I am a master chef (because Lord knows I am not. ) Most nights our meals are loud, things spill,the dog begs for food, and they are chaotic. The point is, we take the time to "family"... and we  do it together with no help! Chrish the small, seemingly unimportant moments... because when they are taken from  you, your heart will obsess about those simple times you had.


Am I Enough?

 My identity was shaken to the core after the stroke. I lost the "me" of who I knew I was. Trying to redefine myself in this hard knocks life after burying and mourning my former self; was so incredibly difficult and sad. I hate talking about that part of my stroke recovery because it brings me back to such ugly demons. Due to the severity of my stroke,  Right hemi middle cerebral artery infarct( for those of who medically minded individuals), and the challenge of raising four very small needy, humans AND growing an even smaller and even more needier human being in my womb.  I had my sister in law move in full time to "mother" my children 2,4,6, & 8. The level of noise would cause me  to vomit, become irritable, unable to care for the four, and the need to sequester myself in my room -alone.  A far cry from my former life. Krista, my sister  in law, cooked all our meals, changed all the diapers, broke up all the squabbles, did the laundry, car pooled met kids to bday parties, acted as a mediator to two very hurting humans ( my husband and I), and slept on a futon for over two years-now if that doesn't speak sacrifice, I think we will be receiving her chiro bills for her lifetime :)


Where do I fit? Everyone moved at lightning speed around me, I couldn't stand for more than 15 seconds without getting winded and an adult chaperone nearby. No one needed me for making them a meal, unloading a dishwasher, driving them to a library class, homeschooling, playing games(my brain could nor comprehend basic instructions and if I tried too her I would vomit).  I was unable to schedule a dentist appointment, could not swing the kids as the park, my husband held my hand as I shakily went around a teeny, itsy,  bitsy , neighborhood square(did i mention it was tiny (pre stroke I worked out hardcore DAILY)).


I'm useless; I felt on more than one occasion. Ben and I cried daily at our broken, shattered lives, to have  and to hold was a little more difficult now... we were 29 and 30.


I remember the joy I felt when  the kids sat on my lap, hugged me, said "I love you." After returning home, my voice was a whisper bc of paralyzed vocal chords and totally flat.. but it took all the strength in me to read my four year old a story... and you know what?! We both cried together... bc she saw me as valuable as her strong Mama who fought to come back home and love on her. I sobbed. I have value not in what I do but in who I am to God, Ben, and the 5 small humans who call me "Mama"

They have never asked me why I never unloaded the dishwasher for months, but the oldest one recalls the fear and uncertainty of my time in the hospital.


This life that God gave me, that Satan tried to destroy. Will be a living testimony to how great my God is- I didn't say it would always be beautiful... but what satan meant for evil, God can turn to good!
first day home

Jayden;s 8th bday party, day before

Lunar eclipse


kids sleeping in our bedroom to be close to Daddy


couldn't stand, 13 weeks pregnant, couldn't lift my head

my sweet friend Stefanie loved on my kiddos the day after the stroke




Sunday, February 12, 2017

Simple Christmas 2016



We are a little over a month back from another non stop six days, 2100 miles of adventuring, adulting, parenting, laughing, bickering, falling, and playing, This was such a great trip again! The kids did great. My youngest hiked 4.2 miles over boulders on Devil's Hall at Guadalupe Mountain National Park.  He was literally a mountain goat. I, on the other hand somehow managed to fall gracefully face first onto a boulder spraining my pinkie so badly. "Now you see me, now you don't."

We rented sleds and sled down gypsum at White Sands National Monument! Hiked over boulders at the very cold and windy Guadalupe National Park, descended 750 feet below the surface of the Earth and explored Carlsbad Caverns, Explored Kilbourne Hole in the middle of no where- driving for hours down deserted dirt road to see a crater in the ground created by a volcanic explosion, hiked Organ Mountains National Mountain, Franklin State Park, and Hueco Tanks State Park and then home!

There was tons of games played, Mariachi bands in Las Cruces, laughing about my fall, more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches than I care to remember, high quality gas station coffee, the alphabet game, I spy... oh and we slept too :) 























Simple Christmas 2015

I am so indebted to the National Parks Service.... because something like a stroke means disabled to them? I dunno ??? For my family, this is awesome because we now have access into EVERY SINGLE PARK, MONUMENT, MEMORIAL FOR FREE-LIFE TIME.  
WE will take advantage of this  fully. I have so much fun planning exotic national park trips  for my family. One way this in accomplished is via Christmas. Now that I can no longer homeschool, sadness, we are regulated by the traditional school schedule. Thankfully, we receive three weeks off and take a week, in lieu of presents, go on a fun- filled, historical, geological,road school to the max, and outdoorsy trip... With tons of family fun :) My children "never"  bicker just look at their smiling faces on my highlight reel :) 

My point is, after the stroke, my family clung onto memories of our Oregon trip. We realized that making memories and family time was what we desired to cultivate. When I started to think back over my life... I could not remember what I received for any particular Christmas, but I could recite to you the Florida trip taken with my grandparents! 
After 21 months of intense therapy to try and regain so much that was lost in 5 seconds,Stroke recovery I am typing this with my right hand (no, I am not fully recovered). I wanted to regain the years I lost with my kids... So out of that came my idea to trade of gifts with a trip! I though the idea sounded awesome... but how to convince the natives could be so much harder... Thankfully, they were semi-excited and apprehensive with our new idea! Fast forward, they LOVED the trip and asked if we could do this again next year!!!! 

Our 2015 Xmas destination were as follows:
LAKE MEAD NRA
DEATH VALLEY
VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK
ZION NATIONAL PARK
RESORT IN LAS VEGAS!