Sunday, November 09, 2014

our five year journey with Multiple Sclerosis

dealing with symptoms of multiple sclerosis

i was asked by a beautiful friend of mine who also has MS and is very involved with the MS Society
if i would submit Mike and our family's story for her to share
one focusing on the effect of the disease on our family and how our lives have changed because of it
i was indeed grateful for this opportunity as it gave me time to reflect on these past five years
i cannot believe it has been that long 
and yet it feels so much longer since our lives are completely different

i only had a few paragraphs to share our five plus year experience with the effects of Multiple Sclerosis on my sweet husband
i pray i did it justice

thank you for sharing in our journey

I am honored to share with you a small part of my husband and our family’s journey with Multiple Sclerosis.  The summer of ’09 found my husband Mike in a thriving career with Apple as well as the backyard soccer hero to our three small boys, when our world was turned upside down and inside out.  For three months Mike had not been able to swallow food, losing weight at an alarming rate and suffering tremendous fatigue and weakness, to say nothing of the intense worry we faced.  We had found ourselves on the trail hop from doctor to doctor looking for answers.  When the diagnosis finally came, we were stunned.  I will never forget looking across at each other that night, not knowing what to think but feeling tremendous fear and as if our future plans and expectations of our life together were slipping through our fingers. 

The passing of each year has brought one family adjustment after another, and the onset of unexpected symptoms and the loss of functions for Mike.  We have learned together as a family the effects of the disease.  As fatigue, pain, temperature intolerance increased, and taste, sight, cognition, balance, and mobility decreased, we began experiencing little losses we had not expected... 
no more backyard races with the boys, loss of stamina to prepare meals that brought him delight and stress relief, inability to watch our boys’ sports games due to hot or cold temperatures, no more walking hand in hand on a date, and so many more.  

Blessings have come as well, one in the form of a beautiful baby girl, the child we had found out I was pregnant with the exact day we received Mike’s diagnosis. One night when our little girl was very young, I left her at home with Mike before putting her to bed.  Being beyond exhausted after a long day at work, Mike did not have the strength nor the balance to carry her up our stairs.  With her in his arm he sat on the stairs and tread by tread scooted and crawled his way to the top of the stairs to put her to bed.  My heart broke when I came home, not realizing that such a simple task would be so difficult for him.

Because of his love and sense of duty as a father, husband, and provider, Mike worked for as long as he could.  Leaving his career at Apple at the age of 36 due to his worsening symptoms.  He then worked for three additional companies trying to do what he could to provide for our family.  Mike has a gift of the mind and of words.  He has a thirst for knowledge and had a photographic memory.  He was a linguist, a scriptorian, a passionate researcher, an author, a teacher, and one of the those guys that would win Trivial Pursuit on one turn.  

The most difficult of symptoms, that of drastic cognitive decline, has robbed him of so many of his gifts and pleasures.  This decline has produced emotional scarring due to his inability to provide for our family any longer or function in his roles as a husband and father as he would wish.  He suffers from confusion, memory loss, inability to concentrate or perform simple tasks, as well as absent seizures.  He is home bound while I am now the sole provider for the our family of six.  When he has moments of physical and mental strength he does what he can at home and I have had to learn to let him, despite great sacrifice on his part.  I have learned that although his suffering is audible and quite visible when he does these tasks, I must allow him to do what he can to feel he is still contributing to our family and retaining what independence he has left.

Today our children are strong, having had to learn independence as well as reliance on one another.  They are brave, they are aware, they are compassionate and protective.  God has blessed us greatly.  He makes himself known to us each and every day through the kindness of others who bring my children home from school, come visit Mike on their lunch break, wash our laundry each week, take my son to football practice, and so much more.  

Mike is my champion.  His desire to make me happy, help where he can around the house, and remain loyal to his faith while instructing our children, renews what I knew the day I married this man almost seventeen years ago, how lucky I am to be able to be by his side each and every day.  Sometimes the future is scary, sometimes we wonder how we could possibly adjust to one more thing, but we continue to put in the work and step forward in faith that we can make our life full and joyous no matter what is on the horizon.  

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

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Forever Young Club with Nerium AD Giveaway

forever young
i want to be forever young
if you are a child of the 80s you have already begun singing alphaville's synthesizer led ballad 

i feel so privileged to be able share products with my family and friends that contain natural ingredients that have been scientifically proven to improve the appearance of the overall health of your skin by an average of 30% in a 30 day period
yep, you heard that right...30%
you can't get much closer to forever young than that
the products you are buying from your dermatologist or local department store, even the high end ones
are only improving your skin 2 - 7%...what?! 
yep...30 vs 2 - 7 
i haven't taken a math class for awhile but i know my greater than and less than equations
30 > 2 - 7

a few bloggers joined my Forever Young Club this month and had the chance to try out Nerium AD
for two weeks
hop on over to their blogs and Facebook pages to hear in their own words what they experienced and loved about Nerium
it is so much fun to be continually adding to my photo gallery of before and afters from people that i know and are experiencing incredible results with Nerium

check out a few of the participating bloggers and their before and afters
i love how the array of results shown below really represent the spectrum of improvements you can get from our products 
  • reduction in the appearance of deep and fine lines
  • reduction in the appearance of pore size
  • reduction in the appearance of discoloration and age spots
  • improve the appearance of uneven skin texture
  • improve the appearance of aging or loose skin

then head to the bottom of the post for a chance to win one of the 2 Nerium Age-Defying Night Treatments up for grabs

"No makeup! Circles gone, overall skin tone evened, deep lines are softened."
Frieda from Frieda Loves Bread

"I did see a big difference in my overall skin quality and it seemed to really brighten up my skin tone."
Lara from Hapa Girl

"I had a more even skin tone and better color.  The creases by my eyes really improved too!"

"I’ve always hated the size of my pores and that’s what I noticed the most change in and also the even-ness in my skin."
Lindsay from Frenchie

now you can become part of my Forever Young Club with Nerium AD
click over here if you would like more information  
click over here if you can not wait another day to start getting your own phenomenal results

enter the NERIUM AD Giveaway
TWO lucky readers 
will WIN ONE bottle of Nerium Age-Defying Night Treatment

a Rafflecopter giveaway

this giveaway will close at midnight on Oct 21st MST
this giveaway is opened to US residents only
the winner will be chosen using Rafflecopter 
they will have 48 hours to respond to the winner notification email. after 48 hours another winner will be chosen
2 winners will win 1 Nerium Age-Defying Night Treatment valued at $110

Monday, August 25, 2014

why you should write stuff down

why you should write stuff down keeping a journal family history biography memoirs

i get it
some of us made it through college vowing to never write another thing
some of us wonder what is so special about our life and thoughts that we should record any of it
some of us feel like we just don’t know where to start

but i’m here to tell you that writing down the experiences you traverse will be one of the most cherished possessions of your life
truly all of us have gone through something in our life that was hard, that was stretching, that was building
and it should be documented 
if for no one else, but for your future self
because as we all know hard stuff doesn’t just come around once in our lifetime
the likelihood of us battling difficult events in our future life is certain
and there is nothing quite like rereading your own words telling you
that thing was hard
that thing tore you up
but you made it through
and here’s how you did it

you will now know that you can get through this new thing too

i declare to you that any effort you make to throw your words down on “paper” will be of tremendous value to you
time after time i have revisited my own words 
words which seem so wise and couldn’t have possibly come from me
but they did

writing is a form of clarity
a clearing away of the fog of the heavy circumstance and channeling a crisp communication that lends to perspective
whether you believe in God or not
writing is a tool that is given to us to still our busy lives and allow us to listen
listen to yourself 
and listen to God’s Spirit

i am so grateful tonight to have come across a blog post i wrote back in march 26, 2012
for the days i just can’t get out of bed
this post included part of a speech i gave to a large body of women in my church
these words were the clarity and comfort i needed today

"I am grateful to a loving and merciful Heavenly Father who provided me with an opportunity to speak so that I could be still, and sit and reflect on the lessons that He was asking me to learn when I just didn’t think I could be stretched any more.  Who’s gift to me of the Holy Ghost brought to my mind in just that instant the words of one of my favorite quotes from the ever eloquent apostle of the Lord, Elder Neal A Maxwell, from his powerful book “The Promise of Discipleship”

Even if and when we seem to have squeezed out the last full measure of our devotion, an omniscient and perfectly empathic God not only knows the difficulties through which we have passed and are passing but also knows if any residue of unused devotion still remains to further the process!

Heavenly Father knows what we are capable of and of our potential for greatness - He knows our heart, He is our creator, He sees our life, He sees it in its complete form.  He knows what we are to become.  And through his wisdom and mercy He will utilize any residue of unused devotion to refine us and raise us to levels of faith and testimony that we didn’t even know we were capable of.

I pray that these thoughts will continue to bring comfort, peace and joy to me
even, and especially, on those mornings I just don’t feel like getting out of bed.

Being stretched is hard and flat out painful.  Naturally, I desire the easy route; whether that be the least work, pain, or thought.
Let us be careful that we do not resent the very things that help us put on the divine nature - whatever form they may come in: whether it is someone, a health issue, an unyielding obstacle, our own weakness, or the absence of something or someone in our life.

Elder Paul Johnson spoke directly to me in his April 2011 General Conference address. 

Sometimes we want to have growth without challenges and to develop strength without any struggle.  But growth cannot come by taking the easy way out.  We clearly understand that an athlete who resists rigorous training will never become a world-class athlete.  We must be careful that we don’t resent the very things that help us put on the divine nature.
Oftentimes my trials and struggles blind me, they are that pebble that I have held up to my eye that prevents me from seeing beyond it.  I have had a beautiful and blessed life and I allow fear to take over in imagining the tolls disease may take on my Daddy and my husband and what our life together may become.  I find myself like Lot’s wife looking behind because she could not imagine that her future could have been better than her past.  If there is anyone who we can look to on this earth for optimism, it is our dear living prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Pres. Thomas S. Monson who proclaimed in his closing testimony in the April 2009 General Conference, 
The future is as bright as your faith
I would encourage each of you to turn to writing as you travel along your journey, especially during times of difficulty. It does not need to be published or for others to see, simply in the act of recording your experiences your eyes will be open and you will gain a grander perspective as you create a moment of quietude that can allow the Spirit to work through you.  I can not count the number of times that I have felt compelled to write about a struggle in my life, only to have the love of my Heavenly Father communicated to my heart through putting the words down on a page.  They have also served as an invaluable source for comfort and strength as I return to reread what I have passed through. "

you will not know today, or tomorrow, or perhaps even a year down the road if what you write today will become just the words you will need
for that is only a portion of the treasure

writing will bring a sense of clarity and gratitude to your life right now that may be exactly what you need
so tonight 
just write some stuff down
and feel the power of your words

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
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
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
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
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 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 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 
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


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