Tuesday, June 10, 2014

i decide


choosing happiness multiple sclerosis

this week has been brutal to say the least
torturous may be a word i would use
the disease is making an ugly appearance this week
some of our greatest fears made manifest
and it scares me that these new ugly things may take up permanent residence in him
tests being run
new treatments being explored
every action analyzed

and in my mind battles are raging
questions
why more
why would his last means of giving purpose to his 'duty driven heart' be taken away
how much longer must this go on
how much more can he endure
how much more can i be pulled
when will things get better

there are defining moments 
when you find yourself in places you never thought you would be in 
paths you never imagined being on 
choices you never would have wanted to have to make
witnessing seeming injustices that you never would have wanted to witness  
in those moments you have a choice 
how are you going to react   
who are you going to become
what feeling are you going to give into

after a period of feeling very justified in my anger 
feeling deserving of a reprieve for my husband and myself
a chance for us to breath
i began to recognize old habits of thinking in myself
old habits of reactionary responses
old habits of letting the air get sucked out of my lungs as the weight presses down

today i had to make a hard choice  
i fought it hard  
i have good reason to be angry 
i held on tight to it
but i began to see that i was going down a road i didn’t want to be on again
i was becoming someone i didn’t want to be
someone i fought hard to break free from
and pleaded with my Savior to help me change from
ungrateful
self-absorbed
justified in anger

i am grateful that i chose not to let myself fall back into despair for too long
but to decide that's not who i am
not anymore
to decide
to decide
to decide

i choose happiness
that's who i am and 
that’s who i want to stay

its not easy
those thoughts flood in
my circumstances scream loudly in my face
my husband's suffering blaring 
he fighting the real battle
i will fall 
and fall again
but i won’t let myself stay down there for very long

for i decide
i decide to choose happiness
that’s who i am and
that’s who i want to stay

and as we wait
we wait and watch
i will turn my heart to a place that will serve Mike best
a place of trusting
a place of peace
a place of humility

until my next fall comes
and then i will decide
i will decide again
to choose happiness

prayers my friends
i ask for your prayers
as we seek for answers

{to read more about our journey with Multiple Sclerosis click here}

Sunday, May 11, 2014

moms living happy: our new adventure, you and me



every once in awhile something seems to fall from the sky and land in your lap that was just meant to be
i know better
what would seem like some random fruit falling from the tree 
is more like a heat seeking missile with your heart's signature as its target
something designed for an impact just for you

this is how i feel about Moms Living Happy
a project that will change the way we look at ourselves as mothers
and which will reach out to the corners of the earth and bring together a community of moms who despite life's vicissitudes choose happiness

i am honored to be a co-founder in this brilliant endeavor 
to step into the homes of countless such moms 
and tell their courageous stories in video form
your story
you
and you
and you

so how are we going to hear your story
or the story of your inspiring friend, neighbor, or own mother
we need to hear from you
email us your stories at momslivinghappy@gmail.com
and who knows we could meet in your living room with a film crew 
to tell a story that needs to be told
of Moms Living Happy



so hope on over and see what we are all about
subscribe to our newsletter so you won't miss a single inspiring story
head on over to 

Thursday, March 06, 2014

the book that saved my husband


what would you do if you couldn't think
no really
you couldn't think critically
ok so i hear some of you sleepless moms of littles saying, that's me everyday
trust me, i get it
but what if you had had a photographic memory, could recite passages of scripture and literature poetically, were fluent in cantonese, and knew every line in every single Seinfeld episode and 80s movie 
and now could not force your mind to complete simple tasks, remember what you did this morning, remember who you spoke with about what, or form words properly when you spoke
to have a ghost of a memory that you once knew so many beautifully rich things 
this is just a mild taste of what my brilliant husband deals with on a daily basis

so when i tell you that Mike just finished a novel
it is with absolute elation that i tell you that my husband just completed his first novel

you know of his passion for books
his thirst for reading
his in depth studying
his fascination with word choice
being drawn into other worlds
living life through the eyes and passion of another

this same passion was born into the soul of our son
for years Mike has had a story in his mind to write for Owen
a story that explored ideals that he wanted our son to seek after
ideals he felt were lacking in the world our son was growing up in

Mike wasn't able to dedicate time to write this story before
well, because he had been busy with so many other things

now his daily life is quite different
a type of different that tears at my heart leading me to often times turn my head from Mike's view so as to hide my tears as i witness his daily struggles and see his brilliant mind dormant
i turn away so he does not witness my moments of inner battle that read on my face, 

but as always the Lord has extended mercy through something very simple 
imagination

imagination flows from dreams
from ideas of our own making
without limits or the necessity for critical thinking
for this reason and a miracle that the overall idea for the story was stored in a part of Mike's long term memory that has been unaffected by his Multiple Sclerosis
Mike was able to write his book

now the process of writing for him was quite different than it would be for you and i
every morning he would forget what he had written the day before
he would forget the storyline, the characters, the direction
every day he would have to start anew, rereading what he had written the day before
learning to take exhaustive notes of any upcoming details of the novel, knowing that in a few short minutes or hours he would forget them
day after day this routine repeated
until nearly 100,000 words were written
a novel completed

out of this process came something beautiful
something life-saving
this book saved my husband

as i sure you can imagine 
having so much of what you would consider your identity and role taken from you
having limitations hinder you from fulfilling those duties you delight in performing for those you love
then battling extreme fatigue and intense pain to carry out those things that remain for you to struggle through
experiencing all of this would throw anyone into a period of questioning your worth 
into period of self doubt and dare i use the 'd' word

being able to write gave him a purpose again
a feeling of contributing
even a feeling of meaning
it brought excitement and structure back into his day
even life
something to look forward to
and although it was difficult to have to start over every day, he could look back at what he had written the day before and see that he was accomplishing something
i loved seeing that passion and vibrance for life return
you could see it in his face
you could hear it in the way he spoke
you could feel it in the energy of our home

he was writing something of value for our son
which became something of value for himself
and something he hopes will be of value to many youth and parents out there 
for he is planning on self-publishing it before Owen's twelfth birthday in May

i want to have Mike tell you more about this experience himself
i know how much you love hearing from him

he has just begun sharing his first draft with family and friends
and is looking for a few others who would be interested in reading it to give him feedback before he sends it to a copy editor
if any of you are interested in reading a copy of his first novel, please contact me
it is entitled, CHOSEN, the quest for the eight keys
and is a young adult novel full of adventure and hilarity as only Mike could write
it is brilliant and we have already received incredible praise from those who have already finished it
including one speed reading son who absolutely loved it and can't wait for the next one in the series
i am beyond proud of what Mike has accomplished and am so happy to see him move forward with self-publishing
i am so grateful for this gift that God has granted him
this opportunity to free his mind and spirit
in a way that will be immortalized for his children and generations to come

Friday, February 14, 2014

everything is awesome: my valentines day crew


everything is awesome

happy valentine's day 
from my growing crew
amidst the complexities of life, little tate's sweet inquiry as to if i was going to make them valentine's day shirts this year, ensured that the simple things that preserve the structure of family life as they know it remains strong
traditions
traditions keep our family identity alive
and give so much to look forward to

to read about out how our family valentine's day tshirts tradition began, read here 


our traditional jump shot
their absolute favorite
eyan definitely wins this year's best jump


felicity steals the show once again for her daddy
this little cutie pie is daddy's best buddy


simplicity was the name of the game this year
but its always a challenge to come up with a design the boys will wear
i have strict instructions are our first year's design, that no hearts are allowed

so i stuck to something that has been chiming repeatedly in our house for months
as i am sure in so many of yours as well
can you even say it without singing

everything is awesome
everything is awesome

i used my silhouette cameo to design this stencil i cut out on freezer paper
you can see my freezer paper tutorial here


as much as i love seeing changes in my children from year to year
i secretly or not so secretly wish for them to be frozen in time

happy valentine's day to you and your crew


our past year's valentines t-shirts:

check out my tutorials for tshirt appliqué and free hand cutting & freezer stencils

Sunday, January 26, 2014

putting my inner voices in time out




there is always some fight within yourself when you are nearing a major breakthrough in your life
your current self just doesn't want to let go of the good thing you’ve got going on right now
good defined as 
comfortable
familiar 
expected
not necessarily good defined as
good for you
change is hard
especially when you keep having that loud and intense inner battle of two voices within yourself 
that you wish you could just rip out of your mind 
tell them to play nice and work it out 
or they are just going to have to just stay there in timeout until they can get along

one voice tells you 
that you are ready to take that next step
you are strong 
you are capable
you’ve got what it takes 
you can rise above
the other voice laughs at you and says
who are you fooling
you can’t change 
look at what you’ve done in the past 
what makes you think that today will be any different
my head is spinning right now just thinking about it
because that has been the battle going inside my mind for months
and i am here today to tell you that as loud as that debbie downer voice has been screaming in my mind 
she has now faded to a whisper
that duct tape must have done the job
no in all fairness i cannot pin point one major event that has triggered this most incredible quieting of the mind and propelled me on to my next level of growth
it has been the compilation of many, many little efforts and the surrendering of myself to faith 
faith in me 
faith in my God
and faith in the circumstances I have been currently blessed with
it has been a loooong fight 
and i have no doubt that that duct taped voice in my head may find her way to a bullhorn once again but next time she’s going to find a new me
one that will have grown in my inner debbie downer silencing skills
change is in the air once again
so watch for some tremendous growth coming on all fronts over here as i climb to that next level of achievement

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

charge into the new year with the paper antler party cracker - a tutorial

this is it
the very single last final caboose day of 2013
can you believe it

i give one final raised glass to this year
by presenting a tutorial inspired by the symbol of the year
the antler

here is a quick diy to allow your New Year's Eve party to go out with a bang
and to charge into the new year
the paper antler party cracker
designed for the Paper Crepe Company challenge mentioned here in my previous posts
merry and bright christmas and
hipster baby boy's first birthday


new year's eve paper antler party cracker tutorial


SUPPLIES

{all decorative supplies provided by the Paper Crepe}
tp tube
9" crinkle or thin textured paper
glitter paper
high quality patterned paper
twine
adhesive or hot glue
small prizes and candies

party cracker form

FORM

cut your crinkle or thin texture paper to approx 9" x 9" 
place tp tube on the inside centered
apply adhesive
since my cracker was made for a company party display and not to be opened it was not filled with special prizes
to create a functional pop-able cracker add just a couple more steps found here on this tutorial by


tie up party cracker with twine

TIE UP

carefully gather up each end and tie the ends


soften paper by crinkling

CRINKLE

here comes the fun part!
remember when you were a kid and you made your own leather by crinkling up paper brown bags until it became so soft
that is the same concept here
this is why you need a high high quality paper so it will crinkle and mold in your hand and not tear
crinkle away
it starts off rough but just keep going
crinkle and crinkle some more until it becomes soft and pliable


cut triangle for party cracker

CUT CORNER

do not try to flatten the crumpled paper
fold over a corner to form an elongated triangle approx 4" x 2"
and snip


antler branch form

FORM TWO

to form a branched antler cut an 1 1/2 to 2" slit starting at the shortest side of triangle toward the folded side of the triangle at an angle


twist to form double branched antler

TWIST

start twisting the paper to form your antler shape
twist and twist
don't be afraid to twist tightly if you have some serious high quality paper
you want it tight to hold its shape
use adhesives or hot glue to finish off your antlers

party cracker wrapper

WRAPPER

cut your wrapper from glitter paper approx 3 1/4" x 6 1/2 "
adhere paper centered on cracker
wrap paper around cracker and then overlap and apply with adhesive or hot glue


mounting antlers on paper cracker


MOUNTING 

cut a chevron arrow shape out of patterned paper approx 2 3/4" x 1 1/2"
adhere shape to center of glitter paper
glue antlers in the center of the chevron shape


new year's eve paper antler party cracker tutorial diy

and there you have it
the paper antler party cracker

enjoy your New Year's Eve friends
look back with gratitude on the blessings of this past year
and charge forward with conviction to make this next year one with no regrets 
as you love more 
find more courage to those things which will bring the greatest joy for yourself and those around you
and dare to dream and act upon it

here's to living life with passion and conviction

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

merry and bright christmas: simple last minute touches to your holiday table decor

merry and bright christmas simple last minute holiday decor ideas

although the countdown to Christmas is nearly over
there is plenty of time to add those final touches to your holiday table decor

here are a few ideas i designed for The Paper Crepe challenge
last month in collaboration with Amy from Commona My House
as we were hired to create displays for their party tour which hit Sacramento, Dallas, and Chicago
read more about the parameters for the challenge here on my 'hipster baby boy's first birthday' post

so here are some simple last minute decor ideas:
antler party cracker {watch for tutorial coming just in time for your New Year's Eve bash}
3D Christmas tree
triangle trees
glitter paper chain
tissue tassel bunting {here's a great tutorial on green wedding shoes}
two tone glitter pine cones

merry and bright christmas simple last minute holiday decor ideas

may your days be merry and bright
from a gal who's christmas has become very white

merry merry christmas to you all

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

my Christmas wish



as the list of things that i should be doing are adding up in my mind
i am drawn at this time to reflect on some quiet moments that have transpired in our life the past little while
i have missed writing
for this is how i truly am able to reflect on the goodness in my life

as many of you know mike has begun treatments for his MS up here in utah where we have moved for a variety of reasons
but mainly to be close to a specialist we feel confident in and have easy access to
due to the nature of the progression of mike’s disease
some days, lots of days are just plain hard
in my mind and i think in the minds of others 
making this huge change in our life must have equated to the lessening of daily difficulty
if not for that
then why would we have moved
well the truth is that we have seen many moments of illumination that have shown us that indeed this is the place we need to be
we have already seen blessings in various aspects of our life
we know that a path of tremendous growth and hope is before us
but the weight of what remains the same and even the weight of what has changed 
lies heavy

what remains the same

mike continues to struggle in a very big way
physically, emotionally, and mentally
it is a daily battle
hearing him laugh and seeing the relaxation of his face when the pain has lessened are two of my favorite things right now
the humility and gratitude i see in him makes me love him more and more
i feel a tremendous honor to be his wife

what has changed

mike is no longer able to work due to a dramatic decline in his cognition
we have been sustained by the benevolent generosity of family
and i have been giving all i’ve got to my Nerium business
with full confidence that soon it will be able to put us on a path of independence
mike is my biggest champion
as i am my own worst enemy some days
i admire moms who have worked while raising their children
i admire men and women who have the fire of confidence with the skills of communication and the ability to inspire
i admire those who work with laser focus on what they want for the good of their family and don’t let rejection or obstacles get in their way

i tell you i am being stretched and molded into a woman i never knew i could become
one that never would have been uncovered had the need for me to rise not have been there
one who has had to rely heavily on the Lord
as well as newly acquired knowledge though good books of all varieties
and persons of great influence and motivation
all lending to the building up of a woman of greater courage and drive
but along this path of digging for deeper conviction and leadership capabilities
those qualities that need to be attended to most have been widely exposed
and sometimes for a vast public to see
those deeply rooted insecurities or inadequacies are paraded in front of my eyes and in front of so many others
a long line of them
i have put myself out there for all to witness not only my successes but my struggles
but as you see me pick myself up over and over and over
i hope that above all you will see that as i lift my head up again and again 
that my gaze 
my step 
my direction 
continues to be drawn toward what it is i must do and who i must do it for
at times i hope i will glance down to see who it is that is carrying me and give much thanks

two such moments i would like to share with you

a few nights ago
was one of those moments when the weight just seemed so great
one of those times in which the heaviness of what you carry causes the strength in your legs to give out
i found myself flat on my knees alone in our front room 
only the light of the Christmas tree to illuminate the tears running down my cheeks
no one else to hear the gasping cries escaping my lips in bursts of sound
so i thought
i looked up to see Owen standing in the doorway gazing down on me
without word he quickly came to my side 
knelt down next to me
not as i had, flat to my knees
but kneeling tall so that when he wrapped his arm around me at my side he was taller than i
he simply asked me, ‘are you missing grandpa?’ 
to which i replied ‘yes’...i kept the array of other looming thoughts to myself
i looked over at my son and felt his arm around me
not as a child but as a man who had come to comfort and rescue his mother
i felt of his strength
i felt of his faith
and i felt of the love he had for me
and indeed i felt rescued

i knew i had to write this down 
for i never want to forget that moment of tenderness between us

then last night as i came home late
i looked upon our counter to find a lovely basket of food and something peculiar in the center
a mason jar
at first i didn’t comprehend what was inside
could it be, no
a jar full of change and bills
there was a note accompanying it and i quickly reached for it looking to discover the bearer of such a gift
waves of tears overcame me as i read the sweet poem attached 
which in part reads:
we collected all year our dollars and dimes
and hoped we could save enough just in time
we prayed to know who to give this jar to
Heavenly Father’s answer said it was you
we hope you will feel the Savior’s Love
and know that this gift is from Heaven above
this family whoever they are filled their year with the intent to bless the lives of others at just this moment
and God himself knew of our need and directed their sweet hearts to our doorstep
i shook with gratitude and felt the warmth of my Savior’s love

in church this past week
i had the opportunity to address our congregation on a topic that i have been thinking much about
not only believing in Christ, in who He is, but believe Christ, believe His words
believing He will do what He said He would do
to not merely be an advisor or a champion or a counselor
but be our actual Savior, our Redeemer
to trust in His care and heeding His simple admonitions

‘let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid’ *
‘doubt not, fear not’ *
‘be of good cheer, for I will lead you along’ *

when i truly understand what He has done for me
i am happy
i shine forth
i carry myself with a perfect brightness of hope
i let the promises i have made to Him shine through my face 
even in times of difficulty and distress

this is my Christmas wish
to let this Child who was Born unto Us
enter as the Prince of Peace into my heart and life
that with the lifting of my heart and the lightening of my step
the joy returns to my countenance 
and my soul is filled with His redeeming love

Merry Christmas to you my sweet friends
may this Prince of Peace enter into your heart and life
this Christmas season and throughout your coming year

Friday, December 06, 2013

blue christmas blog hop: moments frozen in time


i am so happy to have been able to participate in this year's 
blue christmas blog hop 
with some fabulous bloggers
krista @ The Happy Housie
amber @ Averie Lane
rachel @ Maison de Pax


this week's feature is trees
be sure to check out previous weeks posts



since our tree has yet to be purchased
{can Christmas really be coming so soon}
i decided to highlight some of my favorite Christmas moments from last year
i am so happy that these are frozen in time
since our lives have changed so drastically since then

the giddiness of gifts received
my decision to wrap pretty with homemade touches so that opening presents was pretty too 
it was so worth it
the awe of Legos
the gift from a friend of our tree



homemade cards and presents exchanged amongst the boys
homeruns on mike's gifts


love my little family of six
the attention and careful protection of brothers to sister
little toes venturing on her own


wishing you all a Christmas full of moments worthy of being frozen in time
it was a delight to meet you new readers
i hope you will venture back soon

Saturday, November 30, 2013

a tale of two boys: the arrival of abigail's twin brothers

tonight has been an evening of great reflection
tonight Jani and Jesse
champion parents to our sweet miracle baby Abigail
were once again brought to that moment of greatest anticipation
the birth of their child
and this time the anticipation was doubled
with the birth of twins
twin boys

i know they have been beyond elated to have two new additions to their family
but i can only imagine what entering that hospital felt like to them
did that overwhelming feeling of anticipation become dimmed by a rush of fear
i dare say that it may have
i know i would have let it creep in uninvited

for those of you who have joined our little community within the past two years
you may not be familiar with the story of little Abigail and the fight for her life
born with part of her heart missing
her heart backwards
and on the wrong side
to be then reconstructed several times within such a short period of time
the waiting
the wondering
the holding of ones breath for great lengths of time
i know so many of you journeyed with me
and like me lived from moment to moment on updates regarding her surgeries, setbacks, and recoveries

hers is a story of courage and miracles
fought not only within her own little soul but within that of her valiant father and mother
for many long months

to watch a video i made of the beginnings of her life including that heart wrenching life flight
come visit here
to read more of her journey over those months click here or on the 'abigail' link in the sidebar

this is a family of warriors
tonight two strong boys joined Abigail as children to my fine brother and his superhuman wife
enduring nearly two days of intense labor
jani fought hard to deliver both of her boys naturally
extreme back labor caused an epidural to be necessary at the end of day one
the position of both of the boys allowed for the need for a c-section to be kept at bay
long did she labor
finally help was given for her labor to progress
but it did not
at least not at all in a manner i would deem real progress
slowly it continued
despite the strong contractions

at last this afternoon baby boy one arrived into this world
nicknamed Flex by his grandpa
with his brother baby boy two, nicknamed Blaze, still rather high up
Flex and Blaze
that's how we have known them
little Flex weighed a healthy 5 lbs 1 oz
and looks so much like my brother Jesse i just love it
he arrived doing well
no surprises
he would soon be named
Thomas Russell Dix
a fine name don't you think


i have never experienced a double birth
but i can imagine the sort of mix of emotions
having delivered pure joy after such tribulation
only to have to continue to push and toil once again
for jani this pushing and laboring lasted hours more
to the point where jani just didn't know if she could last much longer
as i am sure you may surmise this woman is one of absolute stamina, faith, and courage
unfortunately Blaze was larger than Thomas and got stuck in the efforts to be delivered
so a c-section was needed
much to jani's dismay
but i know her heart was only directed toward doing what was best for her babies

a time of communication darkness ensued between those there at the hospital and myself
it is ever so difficult to be so far away from my family during moments such as these
during Abigail's birth, surgeries, and fights for her life
i was in california while they were in utah
this time i am the one in utah and they are in california

the next text message i received told me that Blaze was born but was whisked away due to breathing difficulties
my brother was beside himself
i have no doubt that the memories of Abigail's birth flooded his mind
emotions mixed with experiences mixed with logic mixed with faith
all whirling around inside
i could visualize his facial expressions and his stance in my mind
i will say of my brother that he feels the pain of others like no one i have ever known
he feels what they feel
he takes them upon himself

once again a stretch of a communication void
but then there appeared across my phone screen the most beautiful words and photos
the babies were both breathing on their own
both on their own
and daddy and grandma were holding them
jani was in the recovery room resting peacefully

here is jesse with Thomas Russell
and our first glimpse at Blaze...to be named soon




i think i breathed for the first time

and now i am happy to present the first moments Jani was able to see and hold her babies
Jani is the champion of the world
Movember Jesse looks much more worry free
i am so grateful for the miracles that continue to happen in this family
we are continually blessed with watchful heavenly care
and i have no doubt that daddy is able to be close by for occasions such as these
how i wish these little ones could pass on messages from him

photos below:
Jani and Jes with Thomas Russell {baby one}
with Baby Blaze {baby two}
Baby Blaze
Baby Blaze
Thomas Russell whom I can see a lot of Jani in him now
Thomas Russell








i can not wait to see the whole family together
thank you family and friends once again for lifting us up in your prayers
it is an incredible feeling to be surrounded by an army of prayers from those who care for and love you
it is nearly tangible
as it has been many times before
thank you
thank you

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