Wednesday, July 29, 2009

July 2009: "Girl's Got No Skills" Contest and Giveaway

Today has been a day of great reflection enabled by a dear friend offering to take my boys for the day. I have been able to sit down and try to figure out how I'm going to get a hold on our new way of family life. One thing that has been greatly affected by Mike's condition is family meals. Mike LOVES to cook but since not being able to eat he has barely been able to be in the kitchen. I can't imagine the torture. That has left me to feed my children. I'm sure some of you are saying, "Boo hoo she has to cook, I do that everyday." Well that's a very good point. I haven't had to. I don't know how to cook and was not blessed with the cooking gene or even the desire to cook. Trying to make a meal takes me 4x the amount of time it takes a normal person. It absolutely stresses me out to cook but I refuse to let my children eat out all the time or eat unhealthily.

So here I am turning to all you fabulous people who do this everyday. I need your help and I thought to make this more fun, and to give a little motivation to both you and I, I will make it a contest with a fun giveaway prize.

"Girl's Got No Skills" Contest and Giveaway

Who can enter: ANYONE that cooks
How: Submit ONE MAIN DISH recipe based on the following judged criteria:
  • HEALTHY - doesn't have to be over the top healthy, just a cut above the usual
  • EASE OF PRODUCTION- remember it is I that will recreating your recipe, and yes it is a production
  • MY KIDS APPROVAL- I've been told by many that my kids are great eaters, I guess I wasn't aware that a lot of kids weren't
If you can add a photo of what it is SUPPOSED to turn out looking like, that would be helpful.
Put your one best recipe, photo (if any), advice (if any), name, and way to contact you in a comment or email it to me by AUGUST 12th.
WINNER will be selected by our family and will receive a fun GIVEAWAY of a product from my Polka Dot Square inventory - aprons, bibs, placemats, tutus, Savvy Snack bags, Bumvelope, etc.
This will take a chore and make it into a game. I do so much better at games! Can't wait to see all of your submissions!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

July 2009: Nurse, Needles, and kNowledge

First of all, I just wanted to thank everyone for the amazing uplift we have received in the past few days. I have cried, felt elevated & supported, and thankfully even laughed. I think I will have some time tomorrow to try to personally respond to each one.

I am relieved to say that yesterday went a lot better than I had expected. Mike's nurse, Joann, was a very pleasant woman who was very easy to talk to and I truly believe will be accessible and approachable through our journey together. I gained so much more knowledge about MS from her and am very thankful.

My biggest question was what does the medication do. The medication is actually a protein that already exists in our body not a foreign chemical. This protein will help to decrease further damage inflicted by his immune cells on his nerve cells. Once damage has been done, it cannot be repaired. That is what most of the research on MS is trying to find, something that can repair these damaged nerves. So the things currently affecting him like not being able to swallow solid food and increasing difficulty walking may not go away, but future problems may be decreased or delayed.

I had no idea the effect heat played in MS. Heat causes inflammation in Mike's brain which speeds up the attack on his nerve cells. He has to be sooo careful about being in heat. The only good thing that may come out of this is that Disneyland gives those with MS and their group a fast pass to the front of the line because they cannot be standing out in the heat. So Mike may become even more popular with the visiting crowd:-).

Heat is also the biggest cause of fatigue in MS. The nurse explained to me that fatigue for those with MS is not just being tired. Fatigue is exhaustion, not being able to move, and your brain telling you to lay down. I have watched Mike be increasingly exhausted over the past months, even in this past week. Joann gave me a good reminder that even though Mike may look normal, to remember that he is exhausted. Mike does a good job of trying to convince me he is "normal" or "just fine". I love that he is a fighter though, and an optimistic one at that.

The things Mike needs to be constant with to delay any new flare-ups are:
  • keep building muscle
  • a healthy diet-this is a tough one for him since he can't eat - includes vitamin supplements
  • stay cool-also tough in our 100'+ weather but we may be able to get a lower rate with Edison
  • stay hydrated
  • good sleep-he has to go to bed at the same time every night
  • medication
  • follow up with Dr. & lab work - since medicine reduces his white blood count
Joann showed us both how to do his injections. I have to admit that this was tough, me being a needle-phobe. I had to look away while she showed him how to do it without the injector. It was a breeze for Mike since on his mission for our church in Hong Kong he gave himself and other missionaries shots for two years. They have him started on a very low dose which I am happy to say has affected him very little. I hope this will continue to be the case as the dosage increases. Mike attributes this to your prayers in our behalf and the power of Christ's priesthood through a blessing given to him on Sunday. I thank you again and look forward to reporting more good news in the future.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

July 2009: The long awaited diagnosis

No one ever thinks that something like this will ever happen to their family, especially to the one person on Earth that means the most to them. A few of you are aware that Mike has not been able to swallow solid food since late April. There has been a long chain of events that has brought us to a recent diagnose that my incredible, faithful, loving husband - my champion- Michael has Multiple Sclerosis. I can't even write this without crying. It has been a heart-wrenching time the past little while full of an array of emotions I'm sure you can imagine.

Mike and I are fairly private people but at this time we are inviting others into our lives to help sustain us. I truly know that it is often through the hands of others that prayers are answered.

Mike has been optimistic and hopeful, as normal for him, throughout this entire process despite being disappointed & left unknowing for so long, hungry, exhausted, poked by needles of all sizes multiple times, and pushed to his physical limit through countless tests. I think I have had a rougher time of dealing with this outcome than he has. I think you can be tougher when it is yourself that is in pain, but watching someone you love so much go through all of this and imagining what may come next for him has been very, very difficult. I think I have been going through a type of mourning; mourning for the loss of dreams and expectations of what I thought Mike's life and our life together would hold.

But through the mercy of my loving and omniscient Heavenly Father and my deep rooted testimony in the knowledge of what Jesus Christ's life, suffering, death, and resurrection mean I have hope that that life ahead of us will bring joy, refining, and a revealing of Mike and I's true and best nature as God sees it.

We take our official first step into this life battling the effects of MS as Mike starts his injections tomorrow. I ask for your thoughts and prayers in his behalf as he is quite anxious to how his body will react. I also ask for your patience as I learn to be comfortable talking openly about such a difficult subject. I think just writing this was a needed step in the right direction for me.

Mike's family has asked him to create a blog updating them on what is going on, which he has and invites you to read it if you wish:

I am sure you all have lots of questions: some of which may be answered on Mike's blog, others possibly by this site by the National MS Society a friend referred me to, and still others may need an individual response which I hope I may be able to answer.

Thank you all for your listening ear and caring hearts.

Friday, July 24, 2009

July 2009: Morning Jog and Bike Ride

This summer the boys and I have been enjoying taking a morning jog and bike ride in our neighborhood. We live in a Master Planned Community that was affected by the housing downturn and so we have a long, straight main street at the back of the neighborhood that is almost completely empty. After months of research (would highly recommend Jogger Mom site) and serious debate I finally found a jogging stroller that is right for me. I was amazed to find this Baby Jogger City Classic cheaper new at Sports Chalet than used on Craigslist. The salesman told me that he had thought the sale price was a mistake when he saw it. On top of that, it was a display model (that had only been out of the box for 2 weeks) so they gave me an additional discount. It was still an investment for me, the weird woman that hates spending money, but it has been worth it. It really pushes itself, turns on a dime, and folds up with one tug. I could go on but I'll spare you.

Owen is doing so well on his bike so I thought we would give this a try. Tate and Eyan are in the jogger and Owen rides his bike on the sidewalk. I can't believe how well it has been going. This particular morning was Mike's day off. He was not up for coming with us, but promised Eyan he would take him out in the cul-de-sac to ride his bike. Eyan is still sad that he can't ride his bike too on our jog like Owen. So after our jog the boys hit the street with their vehicle of choice. Owen his new skateboard, Eyan his bike, and Tate his little push car. Tate is hilarious. He has a tricycle he could ride. He could ride on this little car but instead he insists on running and pushing it. Why he doesn't just run without the car we're not sure. Owen is quickly learning how to use his skateboard. Mike showed him a trick or too. I didn't really know that Mike had ever skateboarded before. It was fun to watch them all have fun out front. Of course this all happened before 9:00 am since it gets soooo hot here (as you can see on poor little Eyan's sweaty face - all my kids are like me, complete sweat hogs).

July 2009: Butterfly and Eyan Eating in the Frontyard

The boys have been enjoying the butterflies that just love our flowers in the yard. I have never before observed a butterfly drink from a flower but it is very fascinating to watch the way they bob up and down. This little guy liked Eyan and kept floating away and coming back. I would have loved to have gotten a perfect shot but Eyan shoving food into his mouth was just not the right set up. I guess they were both enjoying their morning snack.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

July 2009: Fourth of July at the Pool

This year for Fourth of July our family decided against braving the crowds at the beach and to head inland to my Aunt Kelly's pool for a private celebration. My Aunt Kelly lives in the beautiful city of Rancho Bernardo and has an absolutely amazing backyard with fountains, terraced gardens, deck, patio, batting cages, an orchard, and a great pool and spa. We all had a great time in the pool and had plenty of good food to eat. We were glad that Mom and Dad were able to come for awhile since Mom had been at the hospital all week with my grandpa.

Tate loves goggles. He insisted on wearing them on his head the whole day. He wanted to swim on his own without me holding him, so sorry Tate, not yet baby. He and Eyan took turns jumping into the pool over and over to either myself or Auntie Liz. Each time Tate jumped he would shoot straight into the air, toes pointed, arms at his side. It was hilarious. I think Auntie Liz got a workout throwing them up in the air too. Owen floated along on one of the many floaties we had at the pool and played b-ball with Uncle Lukie.

June 2009: Happy B-day Lil Sis

My little sis turned ..., I better not say:-) and we had a sweet party for her at my Mom's - D.J. Swell and all. Vanessa has lots of fun friends who came to shake it along with the fam. Love you Nes!

June 2009: Chinese Food and Chopsticks

Since going to Benihanas back in January with the boys, anytime we eat Chinese food they want to use chopsticks. I wish that I knew how to make those nifty kid ones they have there. Being undeterred they pressed on in trying to use regular ones to eat their meal. I have to say I was rather impressed with Owen (here he is with his American President placemat as mentioned in my previous post "George Washington, John Adams..." . I was worried Tate was going to stab himself since he had to have his own pair, "Mommy I do it.", but he did fine too. Eyan realized that eatting with chopsticks was rather slow, so he kept with a fork. His favorite part was the fortune cookie. Their Dad would be proud of his Chinese children:-)

P.S. After this meal, I looked up how to make kid friendly chopsticks. Here is the link.

June 2009: Blueberry Picking

A few months ago I joined a local Mom's Group called "Mom's the Word", cute huh?!, which just happens to be run by a friend of mine at church, Amanda - one busy lady. It is great for me to have others plan fun activities for my kids and I to do and then go along for the ride:-) This time it was blueberry picking at a farm in Temecula. I had no idea there was a Blueberry Farm there. We eat SOOO many blueberries in our house.

We met there and Farmer Mike gave us a tour and told us all these amazing things about blueberries. Did you know that they "fertilize" blueberry plants with fish oil? Strange huh? After the tour, we each got a cute little bucket do our own picking with. The boys loved it and I had to keep them from eatting them before we could pay. Its only $5 a pint, which is about the same as the grocery store, but these ones are sooo much better. Tate escaped through the row of bushes and Farmer Mike caught him as a frantic Mom was about ready to have a major meltdown. I was just envisioning Tate lost amongst in the Temecula countryside. I would love to go back another time.

June 2009: Lazy Days of Summer

These are the days of staying in p.j.s and lounging around. At least that lasted a few summer days:-) Tate is galloping around, "Look at me. I'm flyin." He is such a monkey. He is definitely my adventurous one, which you might think I might not be happy about, but truthfully its mostly a breath of fresh air to have a child that isn't so afraid of things. Of course he wants to do everything by himself though, "Mommy I do it." I love my boys! They are all so different.

June 2009: Erik Gosta Johnson

We had the honor of attending the funeral of Mike's grandfather, Erik Gosta Johnson, in Utah. Mike and I were able fly up by ourselves and spend some tender, quality time with all of Mike's family. Mike is 1 of 7 children and has a large extended family as well. To see the love the family shared was beautiful. Mike's grandfather has an amazing life story one that I can describe in one word- service. He served his country, his family, and his God whole-heartedly and left an incredible legacy for his family. I do not think I will ever forgot the image of true, eternal love as Mike's grandmother bent over to kiss her husband, caress his face, and express her love one last time before the coffin was closed. It was a powerful and tearful experience shared with Mike's entire family. Mike and his brothers were among the pall-bearers; the Johnson boys are all sensitive men. I was so glad that we were able to be there. I think the family grew closer through it. I was glad that I was able to take a few photos of Mike and his parent as well as some of his siblings and their families after the services.


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