Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Highlights

Every year has ups and downs, it's just how life goes and will continue to be that way I'm sure. But we'll focus on the good things that happened this year! Here are a few highlights of 2015 in chronological order:
  • We bought a house
  • Lance quit his managing job for SCI and started his own business called Inland Mortuary Services
  • Cora had her second surgery
  • Lance and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary in Coeur d'Alene
  • Went home to visit for a month
  • Cora began walking at 22.5 months
  • Cora's gastrostomy tube was removed
  • I turned 30
  • Kimball began speech
  • Lance added an answering service to the business
  • Cora had her third surgery
  • Cora said her first word, "mommy"
Cheers to a happy and healthy 2016 for all our loved ones!

Monday, December 28, 2015

May Your Days Be Merry & Bright! (including years past)

I could've sworn we had a family picture every Christmas, I guess not. Years prior to 2008 are not digitized and therefore not included.



Merry Christmas!

All I wanted for Christmas day was a little bit of uninterrupted family time....and I got it! Lance did end up having a busy day of 10 calls but we had a few hours in the morning where the phone was quiet, whew!

These are the only pictures we got of Christmas day; the kids in their undershirts, underwear, and new socks. It was a nice relaxing day complete with pull apart rolls for breakfast, naps for everyone, and too many goodies. The gifts we received were more than generous and it was just so lovely to have some family time together, that's a rare happening these days!
This is a video of Cora rocking and singing her baby to sleep. Too adorable!

Christmas Eve Festivities

We had a nice Christmas Eve dinner of lasagna, garlic bread, and.....something for dessert I'm sure but I can't recall.

These are the ornaments we gave the kids this year. I try to pick something that they've really been into all year long so I got Cora a cupcake because she loves food and Kimball a race car with flames coming out of the pipes. They loved them! In fact, all Cora wanted to do was eat the cupcake.

I always loved opening one gift on Christmas Eve growing up and I tried that this year with the kids even though Lance said it was pointless. They opened the gifts that they got from the Guild School, and I put a pair of footie pajamas with them. I'm not sure if the pajama tradition will continue but it was a lot of fun anyway! Cora got a little tea set and Kimball got a game called Who Shook Hook? which is similar to Operation.
 She LOVES dressing up!


 Too excited to sleep!

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Cora's awesome speech therapist, Jan, makes home visits to children who are too sick or aren't mobile enough to get out of the house to actually visit santa. Her and her husband dress up like Mrs. Claus and Santa and she called wondering if we would like a visit. Of course! It was pretty awesome!! Kimball took right to Santa and told him he wanted a baby puppy. Cora wouldn't go to Santa at all but she sure loved Mrs. Claus, I couldn't tell if she recognized Jan or not but either way she cuddled with Jan for a long time. Before they left they gave the kids a little bag of goodies - coloring book, crayons, beanie baby, a little thing of play dough, and a candy cane. It truly was magical!

We've had SO MUCH snow and even though I told Jan she could park in our driveway, I'm glad she didn't because Kimball really wanted to see Santa's sleigh and reindeer.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Fullness of Life

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."
- Melody Beattie


Last night Lance did a house call of a 13 year old special needs boy who's the oldest of eight children, the youngest being a newborn. The family members are very devout Catholics. His younger siblings wanted to help with the removal so they helped with the sheets and pillows and so forth. The little siblings and father were crying but the mother held it together pretty well. They then sang hymns together and prayed together before Lance left with their oldest brother.

The parents said they knew this day was coming since birth, they just didn't know when he'd pass away. I was very touched by this family's faithfulness to still worship and praise Heavenly Father even in such a difficult circumstance, or perhaps especially in such a difficult circumstance. I was touched that his siblings wanted to help, instead of being scared or sad, they still wanted to take care of their oldest brother until he was laid to rest. I was touched by their strength and their love for each other. I probably would have bawled but I wish I could have helped Lance with this removal, what a remarkable example!

Every day Lance tells me stories of how people die or who he picked up or what the removal was like. And with every story comes perspective. This young man won't be with his family for Christmas this year, I keep thinking about the gifts they probably have under their tree for him and if they might have made his favorite Christmas treat. And I'm sure that even with their limited knowledge, these young siblings don't care about the gifts. They just want their brother. Maybe his death was a welcomed blessing, I'm not sure and I don't know to what extent he was special needs, but one thing is for sure; he is certainly loved! And that's all that matters in life. Love, family, hope. Merry Christmas!!

Cora's "Official" First Word

Cora's ENT did a nose culture and found her to have two major bacterial infections causing the chronic sick-like symptoms. She's be on a strong antibiotic for 21 days, I'm just glad they finally found the problem.

She has been saying Mommy!!!!!! I can't get her to repeat it when I ask her to but she says it pretty often and pretty clearly. I think she's so used to grunting and pointing to communicate that she's not motivated all that much to talk. But her babbling has also picked up and we're getting lots of good consonant sounds. She's got a long speech road ahead of her and I think it goes hand-in-hand with her dysphasia, aspirating, reflux, and low muscle tone in her throat. I also think once she (hopefully) outgrows the aspirating that the speech will come naturally. But we are slowly seeing progress!

My Buddy

I love this ginormous Rudolph, he lives at Cora's Guild School and is sturdy enough for the kids to ride him.
 This is Kimball's first recognizable drawing - a seahorse!

Our Christmas Sunday, of course I couldn't get Cora to stand with him but they matched with their red outfits. He's been really into letters lately and loves Christmas music.He's also developed a short fuse and/or gets frustrated very quickly, I'm still not sure how to address that other than the usual "take a big breath and count to five" strategy. But he's sweet and cuddly all at the same time.

Snow Much Fun

We got about 6" of snow of last week and the snow hasn't slowed down much. We're supposed to get 4-8" more today with snow everyday this week. Looks like we are in a for a white Christmas after all.
Cora loves getting dressed up but she sure didn't like the snow. She kept crying so I just let her stand on the porch while Kimball and I played. I was hoping she'd get used to it and eventually dig in to the fun but she just cried until I took her inside.

The snowman defeated Kimball and he never got the carrot nose to stick. The snow was quite icy and wouldn't hold together much.

Man Trip for Ice Cream

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Of Sacrifice and Worship

I've had my Christmas shopping all done since before Thanksgiving which has been nice not to have those things on my mind. For the month of November and December I've been trying to do a lot more service, both in the ward and some of it anonymously. I'm always much more profoundly aware of the Savior's love and tender mercies as I try to focus on others.

My "motto" for the few months has been this quote by President Hinckley from 1983,

“Christmas means giving. The Father gave his Son, and the Son gave his life. Without giving there is no true Christmas, and without sacrifice there is no true worship.”

I've been really trying to make particular sacrifices and offering more than the usual Christmas cookies. I won't go into details but I'm doing it for the Lord because we've been taught that we are His hands. Most days I have something planned out and other days I just do what the spirit directs me to do. I'm doing it to show how completely grateful I am, I've witnessed so many miracles and tender mercies in the last two years that I cannot deny the divine intervention in mine and my family's lives. God is so good! And there have been so many people who've blessed and helped me since we moved to Spokane, I'm so thankful for a time right now that I can finally give back. And so, I continue to try to sacrifice to praise the Lord and to hopefully bless someone else in the mean time.

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Completed Surgery #3 & Happy Thanksgiving!

The eye surgery was done just two days ago and Cora is doing great. It was a minimally invasive procedure with no recovery, the actual surgery was just 10 minutes long. She still has some blood and drainage coming from her nose and eyes but that's to be expected. I'm always amazed and get a very different, pinpointed feeling of.........worry, love, impatience, gratitude, etc, every time I go into the pediatric surgery center at the hospital. This was Cora's third surgery and sixth sedation, you'd think the more I go through it the easier it would get as a mother but it doesn't. It's always nerve racking, I think mostly because Cora's a high risk for potential anesthesia problems and/or any other complication regarding her heart, respiratory, and how her brain will react. So far we've been blessed every time.

It's been a few months since we've had so many doctor appointments or heightened problems, I almost forgot what it was like to be a special needs parent. It was nice to be "normal" for a while. I can't explain the true magnitude of the love and bond that I have for Cora. My relationship with her is different than it is with Kimball, not that I love Kimball any less, in fact quite the opposite. She and I are just unique and different together and I treasure that. I treasure being her Mama and cannot express how grateful I am for this entire journey. It is because of Cora that I've experienced a different kind of personal revelation (who knew there was more than one type?). It is because of Cora that I view life itself in a whole new light. It is because of Cora that my relationship with God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, is so significant.

On this day of Thanksgiving, I'm so grateful for my little family that brings me so much happiness, for Lance's work that brings his happiness, and for the gospel which makes us an eternal family. I'm grateful for the gift of the resurrection and forgiveness. I'm grateful for a hard working spouse who honors his priesthood and holds his children dear; all that he does he does for us. I'm grateful for a country that was founded by just and righteous men which allows me to give thanks and praise to our merciful Savior. I'll praise His name forever!

The kids might be sick today on Thanksgiving, but we'll still have our own little feast. They loved watching the Macy's parade and after some much needed naps.......gobble, gobble, gobble!

Sibling Bond

After Cora's done with school, she squeals in delight as she sees us in the hallway. As soon as she's let out of the gate she and Kimball immediately hug. Every time. They usually hug two or three times and fall down on top of each other because they're so excited to see each other. Completely melts this Mama's heart!

Random Photos

On this board we write various things that we are thankful for in each other or that we love about each other. Occasionally I'll write a funny moment from years past. The other day I woke up to this illustration and I'm still giggling.

Cora's picture was in the Guild School's newsletter this quarter, I think this was during their  Halloween celebration.
This kid is always cracking me up.

Cora Turns 2!!!

This darling girl turned two years old! I am so incredibly grateful that we got her for another year, and I will continue to feel that way year after year. Time with her truly is a gift and unique in it's own way. This was actually the first real dessert she's ever had. I made a gluten free, egg free, and dairy free cake with a powdered sugar icing. And you know what, it was actually so moist and dense and delicious, it tasted just like a chocolate donut. It was really nice to be able to give her a piece of dessert without thinking of tummy troubles she'll eventually have with being allergic.

Her gifts were play food and play utensils/dishes from us, a play mop set from Grandma Cox, and a baby doll from Grandma Julie. Both of the kids have just loved playing pretend lately and they can't get enough of these new toys!

Dearest Cora,

We are so blessed to be your parents! At two years old you are walking despite doctors saying you'd never do such a thing. You don't talk yet but you speak very well with gestures, sign language, and with your eyes. You do everything your big brother does and he's taught you how to make some funny faces. You are still cuddly and give any stranger a hug. You're solid at 30 pounds and tall for your age which makes me giddy on the inside knowing what severe stomach troubles we had your first 18 months of life. You love dairy free cheese and marshmallows, reading books, and your new baby doll. You're so sweet and loving. Your eyes tell me everything, I know everything you're trying to say or want just by looking at your pretty blue eyes. You're such a joy and the immense love we have for you is overwhelming. Happy birthday, baby girl!

All our love, Mom & Dad