Tuesday, January 29, 2013

It's Not Much

As I was getting ready to step into a bubble bath tonight I heard Jason singing downstairs.
He was probably singing something from the Bee Gees.
He had serenaded me earlier in the evening and danced with me in the kitchen.
Jason told me tonight that he can't think of another time in his life when he has had more fun.
He and his little girl are head over heels in love with each other - and they spent all evening laughing and playing together.

Emily has turned into a monkey.
She climbs everything, and falls off of all of it at least three times a day.
She loves life and is as happy a little girl as I've ever known.

We met with her cardiologist last week.
He did an EKG and took a chest x-ray.
For now her heart is doing better than he expected it would be, and he's given us a 5 month break from seeing him.
The next time we do see him, he will sedate Emily and do another echocardiogram.
That echo will more than likely give us an idea of when Em's next open heart surgery will be.
Blech to open heart surgery.

I would like to say that important things have kept me away from blogging, but it would be a lie.
It's a combined lack of inspiration and a new game called Candy Crunch.
I may not have mentioned that Jason gave me an iPad Mini for Christmas, and I've recently discovered the world of iTunes and games that take up too much time.

I'm striving for balance.
Starting tomorrow.

Oh, and look, I decorated for Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Simple Moments

Tonight Emily and Becca and I went to the mall.
We stopped at Hallmark because it's our favorite store.
I let Em down to wander and watched as she stopped in front of the Valentine's Day display.
She walked around that entire display, looking at and studying everything she saw.
She didn't touch anything, just looked.

She spent most of her time investigating the boxes of Valentine cards.
There were at least 15 different options:

princesses, cars, monsters, Toy Story, etc.

Emily looked at every box and finally after several minutes walked closer to the display and picked up one box.
She brought it over to me, and as she handed it to me, she looked up at me and smiled.

Is there anyone who could resist buying this box of Valentines?

Aunt Becca found the perfect little heart elephant, and as you can see it was nearly love at first sight.
(I hope you can see this video.)

Tonight as I put a sleeping Emily into bed I sent a prayer heavenward.

"Thank you Father for Emily.  Thank you."

Monday, January 21, 2013

Life Lately

I've been busy.
Oh so busy, and busy, and busy.
Which is different than feeling pretty, oh so pretty, and witty and gay.

This weekend I made the best batch of banana bread I've ever made:

I was in charge of Sunday dinner for my family, and I made chili from scratch:

Let's talk about this.
I. Made. Chili. From. Scratch.
And it was good.
Really really good.
My dad took three bites and asked, "Who made this?"
I hesitantly raised my hand and he said, "This is really good!  It's better than Wendy's chili."
And that's saying something because my dad loves the chili at Wendy's.
I. Made. Chili. From. Scratch.
It was a very proud moment.

I started phase 2 of my bedroom remodel.
Do you remember phase 1?

We went nontraditional with the headboard and bench, and took a chance on painting the lamp tables I bought at Pier One.

Phase 2 has been on hold because the girl who helps me with my painting projects had a baby and took some time off.
We delivered our bookshelves to her this past weekend, and I can't wait to see the finished result.
The bookshelves will be the same color as the lamp tables, and will be distressed and antiqued.
And since the bookshelves go against the wall we have been planning on painting our accent color, we've been working on picking that color.

Our bedroom is an utter disaster:

Jason likes #1.
The man at the paint store is hoping for #3.
And although you can't see much of a difference between #1 and #2, my goal tonight is to convince Jason that #2 is our best choice.
I really like #3 but I don't think there is enough contrast between that and the color of the bookshelves.

Jason will be gone all week, working crazy long hours, and so I'm going to attempt to paint the one wall on my own so that it will be done by the time the bookshelves are done.
I'm probably crazy.

Phase 3 will be painting the rest of the room, refinishing the dresser, and if I can sell my curio cabinet, buying the one that I really want.

Anyone want to buy a curio cabinet?

My little lady is standing here next to me, wanting to cuddle.
That's the best reason I can think of to end this post.
I love her.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Things We Do For Love

In case you were unaware - 

Disney Junior has a new series called Sofia the First.
It's about a little girl who becomes a princess when her mom marries the king.

It was on this morning as Jason and I were eating breakfast.
{Jason made homemade waffles and syrup.  He's a good husband.}

{This is Emily's way of saying hello.  She has to be in on all of the action.}

Anyway - Sofia the First.

"I'm really disappointed in this show," Jason said.
"I was looking forward to a new series but this one has too many flaws."
"Watch, any minute the princesses are going to start to rap."
"And then they're going to play 'pin the tail on the stupid unicorn' but they aren't even going to finish the game before they move on to the next activity."

"How do you know this?" I asked.  "This episode was new just yesterday."

"I've watched it three times Noelle."

I could not stop laughing.

My tough manly man husband has been thrown into an entirely different world.
I'd say he's handling it pretty well.
Even if he doesn't like Sofia.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


{A note my mom recently found, written by my sister when she was 12 years old}

Dear Mom and Dad,

I'd like to thank you for all you do for me.
I look back at Russia and all the other communist countries and I relize we shouldn't take for grantive all that we have.
I mean like food, clothes, bed, house, and lots of other stuff.
I usually think that's not good enough but it really is.

But all my friends have like LA Gear, Nintendo, mountain bike, computer and big sinthicizers, and I think we need one of those but as I think about it, I think why would you need that to be happy.
I mean that because you can't by love.

Mom, thank you for cooking, sewing, and helping us if we are sad or something.

Dad, thank you for working and giving us enough money to buy needy stuff, and building.

Mom, lately I feel like you've hated me ever since I was born and you wish I was never born.
Cause you've been yelling at me for everything I do and say, and yes, that do's hurt my feelings even if I am just 12 years old.
I do have feelings.

And it hurt my feelings when you and Ben were making fun of my spelling.
So I'm not the world's most perfect speller.

I love you even if you're rude to me sometimes.
I just think of the good things.

Love, Heather

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

Things Are Looking Up

Em is okay.
I'll spare you the details of the long long days she and I have had over the last week and a half.
We avoided the hospital, but just barely.

Now that she's past the worst of things, it's my turn to go to the doctor.
I'm sick, and have been for a long time.
Night after night of no sleep hasn't done me any good, and I'm afraid the doctor will tell me I have pneumonia.

Jason was gone for a few days and this is how I entertained Em so that I could take a pseudo nap:

I can't tell you the number of times in the last week I've thought about writing 'The End' of this little blog of mine.
I feel that I'm out of stories - out of anything that would keep a reader entertained and coming back.
I just texted a friend of mine and told her my blog either needed to be retired or given an energy drink.

Maybe I just need the energy drink.
I'll work on that.

(And I didn't write that looking for positive reinforcement.  I'm just thinking out loud.)

My little lady is standing here begging me with her eyes to play with her.
It's 11:30pm and she's wide awake.
Silly girl.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Definition of Blah

Do you want the good news or the bad news?

The good news is that we aren't in the hospital.
The bad news is that we probably will be within the next 24 hours.

We've been to the pediatrician three times in the last few days.
We've taken Em to have an X-Ray of her gut.
We've had her blood drawn.
We've started her on medicine, and later stopped the same medicine.
We've given her formula, and not given her formula.
We've given her pedialyte and not given her pedialyte.

But mostly we've just held her while she cries, and cleaned her up after she throws up.

The best guess Em's pediatrician and GI doctor have is that she's got some kind of virus in her GI tract.
And because of the virus, Em isn't tolerating anything in her tummy.
Last night she and I were up all night while she moaned and threw up and moaned some more.
Sometime early this morning she threw up quite a bit of blood and it was then that I finally allowed myself to cry.

As long as her tummy is empty she's okay.
Tonight all it took was giving her her medication to make her simply miserable.

I just texted her pediatrician and asked him what we should do: give her fluid and make the misery worse, or not give her fluid and maybe she'll sleep tonight.
They're watching her fluid levels really closely and so far she's not dehydrated.
The pediatrician texted me back and told me I was okay letting her tummy have a break, but that we were probably looking at a one way ticket to the hospital in the morning.

And I was worried that it was going to take me all year to reach my insurance deductible.

My poor girl ... my poor sad little girl.

I give up.

(at least for today)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sad Face

There was a time - once - such a long time ago - when I had a happy Emily.
The memory is hazy - but I cling to it, hoping for a brighter future.

Dramatic much?

Let's discuss how I don't understand this idea of attaching the word much to the end of sentences.

Actually, let's not.
Instead let's go back to unhappy Emily.

This is the face that greets me 98% of the day.
Our poor girl!

Last night she couldn't sleep - not even a little bit - and the only time she wasn't whining was when I was holding her.
It was 6:00 this morning before I crawled into my bed for two hours of sleep before Em woke up again.

At 5:00 this morning Jason was changing the sheets on our bed because our girl threw up all over.
It's been rough.

In fact, not three seconds ago, Jason sat down next to me on the couch and after letting out a big breath  said, "This has been a tough few days."

We've digressed so far back from the 'Emily loves her new formula and never throws up' days that it makes me want to cry.

We've got her on an antibiotic and we're hoping that tomorrow she'll smile at us, maybe just once.
And I'm hoping for at least four hours of sleep tonight.

On the bright side, Jason is watching football right now.
What more could a girl want?

(Insert sarcasm)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Making Memories

My mom baked bread at least once a week.
That was something I could always count on.
She mopped the kitchen floor every Saturday morning.
She let us go swimming every day in the summer, always after we had done our chores.
I'm pretty sure we had to scrape and paint the ginormous white picket fence that surrounded our home at least once every summer.
And it seemed there was always a quilt on frames, waiting to be tied.

My mom taught all of us, both the girls and my brothers, how to tie a quilt.
She tied a quilt for every cousin that ever got married, and no matter how many people were there to start the quilt, it usually ended up just being mom and my sisters who finished the quilt.

One time when my brother was in high school, he and his friends went to the church gym to play basketball.
They were disappointed to find the gym already occupied, with the ladies from church tying quilts for a humanitarian project.
My brother's friends agreed to help clean up, but my brother pulled up a chair, threaded a needle, and helped to finish the quilts.
I'm quite certain that one act earned my brother the favorite young man award for eternity.

When my brother told my mom he wanted to tie quilts for his two boys for Christmas, and he wanted to surprise his wife, my mom didn't even bat an eye.
She helped him with the fabric, and then came to help him set the first quilt up in our office.
It was funny to watch my mom and sister and my brother work to put the quilt on the frames.
The entire process wasn't technical enough for my brother, so he brought in his tape measure and some other tool I don't know the name of, and squared everything off perfectly.

For a week we quilted more than we worked.
My mom and some of our sisters would come down and help when they could, and my cousin Travis avoided the quilt at all costs.
We had some good conversations while we quilted, and once in a while when one of us would say "I didn't know that" in response to a story, Ben would say, "It's because we haven't done enough quilting."

I took advantage of the situation and had my siblings help me tie a quilt for Emily too.
I had had the fabric for a while, just never the opportunity to quilt it.

One day a customer walked into the office and Ben wasn't quick enough to shut the door to his office.
"Well, isn't this just cute," the customer said.
When the guy left Ben said, "There goes my man card."

On the last day before we closed for Christmas vacation, I was alone finishing up Em's quilt.
My cousin walked into the office and said, "If you breathe a word of this to anyone you'll be in trouble."
And then he pulled up a chair, threaded a needle, and helped me finish up.

The week I spent with my family working on these quilts will always be one of my favorite Christmas memories.

Let me show you what my sister and brother-in-law gave me for Christmas - it was my other favorite part of Christmas.

They built and painted the picture frame and the shelf for Em's elephants.
Looks like there's room for a few more elephants.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Woe Is Us

Here in the Because Nice Matters household we've gone from critical to needing life support within just a matter of hours.
Thankfully, out of the three of us, Emily is the most healthy...as long as we keep her medicated with Benadryl.
And no, Benadryl doesn't knock her out - as much as Jason and I might wish it did, just so that we could all take a nap.
All day Em has walked around squealing and talking to whatever is in front of her, while Jason and I have been on the couch all 'pass the tissues please.'

Jason's new favorite pastime is spraying saline up my nose, (which I'm pretty sure has killed my nasal passage all the way to my belly button) while mine is telling him when the tissue is stuck to his facial hair.
If we can talk Becca into entering the germ infestation that is our house to watch Emily, Jason and I are going to drag our sorry selves to the doctor to ask for the strongest dose of medicine we can get.

Jason wrapped his arms around me tonight and said, "in sickness and in health ... don't forget."

That's all - I'm going now to find Jason and his stash of nasal spray.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Dear World,

Mommy and I are sick.
We spend a lot of time snuggling on the couch together, and wiping our runny noses.
Mommy says she doesn't know if I gave it to her, or if she gave it to me.
Either way, we are miserable.

Mommy's colds like to turn into pneumonia, and Mommy says if that happens this time, she's going to fire her immune system.

(I'm just a little girl so Mommy might not believe me, but I think I should tell her that if she went to bed at a decent hour her immune system might behave once in a while.)

Mommy and Daddy took me to the GI doctor today, and when the doctor saw me she did a happy dance.
She said I was her favorite story of the entire day because of how well I'm doing.

(It doesn't count when I'm sick though because my gut rebels.)

My GI doctor doesn't want to see me again for 6 months.

World, Mommy is really tired and is going to bed now.
She says she should have named me 'Irony.'

(I think it's cause I like to suck on the toy baby bottle while Mommy feeds me.)

Silly Mommy.

Have a good day World!

Love, Elimy

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Fresh Start

"Has it been a good Christmas?" Jason asked me as we were driving home after spending Christmas day at my parent's home.
I nodded but had a hard time speaking.
My throat was clogged and my eyes were misty.
After a minute I cleared my throat and said, "I've never had a better Christmas - but not because of the gifts."

* * * * *

Two days have passed since I wrote that first paragraph, and I've spent the last two days thinking about how to write this post - how to put into words the thoughts that have not left me alone.
I feel like my vocabulary is inadequate for the task before me.

About two months ago I stopped taking the medicine my doctor has had me on to help with the lingering effects of PTSD and depression.
I felt ready to face the world without it, and I felt strong enough to battle whatever I would encounter in the days to come.
Not too many days passed before I realized that while the medicine had been helping with the negative emotions, it had also been masking the good emotion.  And to feel emotion again, the kind that warmed my soul, made me take deep breaths and soak it all in.

I felt like I had been looking at my world through a window, and for a little while after I stopped taking the medication, I felt like that window had been opened.

One night before Christmas I was walking through the mall and stopped to watch a father reason with his little boy.
They were sitting outside of Bath and Body Works and the little boy was crying.
"Look son.  Look how many men are in that store," the father said.
The son shook his head and refused to raise it.
"I promise this is not just a girl's store.  There are lots of boys in there, and we need to go in to find something for your mom."
The little guy shook his head again and looked up to his dad with a pout.  Just then a surge of men walked into the store and the dad convinced his son to watch them.
"See.  There are lots of boys in that store, and we will fit right in.  Can we go now?"
The boy reluctantly gave his dad his hand, and the dad pulled him up and put his arm around him as they walked into the store.
I passed that dad a little while later, and he gave me a knowing smile as I watched his son happily walking next to him.
I don't know what it is about this scene that touched me so much, but I had a smile in my heart the rest of the night, and I was grateful that I could feel it.

On the day of my sister's wedding I had a small moment where I felt close to my grandpa - closer than I've felt to him since he passed away.
As I shared the experience with my sister, and then with my mom, and later Jason, I cried.  
It had just been days earlier that I had told my mom how much I missed my grandpa, and how he seemed so far away.

Other moments - small and seemingly insignificant - filled my heart and soul and I locked them away where I knew I could find them again, if and when I needed a reminder of the good in my life.

Just a few weeks after the metaphorical opening of my window, I felt the heaviness seep in.
I felt the sadness outweigh the joy and the reality of my life seemed too heavy once again.
I fought it - I fought it with everything I had inside of me, but one Sunday afternoon I had to leave church early because of the overwhelming hurt and sadness I was feeling.  I sobbed as I walked the short distance home, and when I walked in the house Jason took one look at me and wrapped me in his arms, where I continued to cry and cry.

A little while later I looked at Jason with tears still in my eyes and said, "I don't think I was ready.  I think I have to keep taking the medicine."
He hugged me again and said, "It's okay - take it, and you can try again in a few months."

Later that night I talked to my mom and told her the one thing that has been harder than all of the other hard combined.
"I can handle Emily's broken heart," I told her.
"I am learning to deal with everything else that comes with Em's syndrome."
"I trust that God has a plan for Em's life, and I believe that He trusts Jason and me to help Him with that plan."

"But why did this have to break me in the process?" I asked her, and I was crying yet again.
"Why can't I be strong enough to do all of this without stupid pills," I said.
"Why did it break me too?" is the question that I ask over and over again in my mind.

* * * * *

When I told Jason I've never had a better Christmas, I meant it.
Christmas this year represents the end of the longest and hardest year and a half of my life.
It represents a closed chapter - and while I know we have hard things ahead of us, they won't be hard like the last 18 months have been, and I'm so grateful for that.

It's 1:30 in the morning on January 1st and I'm listening to fireworks going off outside.
I've never been more ready to start over, to start fresh, to leave the past behind.

The last 18 months have made me a much different person that I was before.
They've strengthened me and exposed my weaknesses.
They've caused me to draw closer to God, and at times they've caused me to question my faith.
They've made me vulnerable and unsure, but they've made me rock solid too.

I'm closing this chapter of the story of my life with an added bit of emphasis, and as I walk forward into  the next chapter, I'm filled with gratitude that these two will be a part of it: