Monday, September 13, 2010

Family Pictures 2010

If it looks like we have pained expressions on our faces its because our photo shoot was just that--painful. There must be some sort of photo shoot phenomenon where you take five generally happy, cheerful people and put them behind a camera and they instantly become awkward, cheezy, cranky, and psycho (ok, that last one might just be me). Anyways, thanks to our wonderfully accomodating and talented photographer (Madsen Photography), we managed to capture a few photos where at least the majority of us are all looking/smiling at the same time. I love them. Its us....awkward, cheezy, cranky, pyscho us.

Aaron, Hank, Max, and Ben: I love you all the way around the world and back :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Bestest Birthday EVER!

Max is pretty much the awesomest little boy I know (besides my other two awesome little boys, of course). So for his second birthday, we went all out! We hired a couple marching bands, we ordered some carnival rides, rented the petting zoo animals, and busted out the cotton candy machine. Ok, well, maybe not. But, we did take him to the opening day of the Puyallup Fair and told him that it was all for his special day--and I think he believed us :)

First up, we watched the marching bands, horse-drawn carriages, and tractors parade through the street.

Once in the gates, we made a bee-line for the food court and got us some Fisher scones!

Very first thing when Hank woke up yesterday morning he came up to me and said, "I am THIS excited!," spreading his arms as far as they would go to show me how excited he was to go to the fair. The boys were super excited to ride the rides, especially the choo-choo train.

One of my favorite things about my little Mattsy-boy is that, even now that he is a big 2 year-old, he is still momma's boy and holds my hand, sits in my lap, or wants me to carry him every where we go. I hope he always lets me hold his hand.

When we got to the bottom of the giant slide, Hank said, "that was a gosh lot of fun!" and Max said, "I go more!"

As if they needed the extra sugar to fuel their excitement...

Ben enjoyed his first fair experience from the comfort of his stroller--he snoozed through the whole thing!
After the fair, we went to Red Robin for the birthday boy's dinner of choice: french fries, ranch dressing, and ice cream!

Max was spoiled rotten by his Nana Z and Nana and Papa Grover who all joined us for a party with presents and cupcakes.
Max was very sweet to let Hank "help" him open his presents and to share his new toys with Hank afterwards. Max was so excited to get some play dough sets and a special Elmo shirt.

I just love my Max more than words. He is an utter joy to have in our family. Max is one of those people that I just admire because he just can't NOT be happy. Its not in his nature to be unhappy. I am so lucky to be Max's momma. I love you Maxwell! Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

happy tears

I have hesitated to share some of our personal/spiritual experiences concerning Ben's condition for several reasons: 1) many of our experiences are so sacred and personal that they can't possibly be communicated in words; 2) although I want to record an account of our experience, I can't bring myself to revisit such an emotionally painful experience; and, 3) I worry that I may "jinx" myself by committing words to paper. As uneasy as I am to relate our personal experiences, after many powerful spiritual experiences in the hospital, I made a sacred promise to my Heavenly Father that I would offer myself as an instrument in His hands to further His work and I would be terribly ungrateful if I did not share the true miracle that has happened in our lives...

April 15th, 2010: Ben is moaning pathetically, writhing helplessly, struggling for each breath. With his heart racing over 250 beats per minute and his temperature reaching 105 degrees, Ben is examined by the doctor and his eyes are found to be fixed and dilated. We are told that the eyes become fixed and dilated upon "death or pre-death." I am frantic with fear and despair. I cry.

April 15-30ish, 2010: Ben slips into a coma, fails to respond to even painful stimilus, and his eyes are fixed, dilated, and completely unresponsive to light. I am shocked and unfeeling. I cry.

April 30thish, 2010: Ben's right eyelid cracks open for the very first time. I am relieved but unsure. I cry.

June 1stish, 2010: Ben's right eyelid is cracked open, but is too swollen to raise beyond the midpoint. The right eye is still fixed and dilated. The left eye cracks open for the first time. The left eye is fixed, dilated, extropic, and disconjugate. Ben's eyes beat with nystagmus. My heart is heavy with grief, sorrow, and pain. I cry.

June 3rdish, 2010: Ben's eyes are both still fixed, dilated, and unresponsive to light. The left eye opens more and more but his gaze is extropic and discongujate. The right eyelid does not open past midpoint. I am discouraged. I cry.

June 5thish, 2010: Ben keeps his eyes open for almost 45 minutes! Oh the joy in the smallest of accomplishments! I cry.

June 7thish, 2010: Ben's eyes show the most faint response to natural sunlight! Another small step. I cry.

June 14thish, 2010: Ben's left pupil shows a slight constriction. I cry.

June 20thish, 2010: A coordinating relationship between Ben's eyes is detected; when the left pupil is stimulated with light, a response is observed in the right pupil. I cry.

June 30thish, 2010: Ben is seen by an opthamologist. We learn that Ben's eyes are healthy but it is unclear whether or not Ben has or will have vision. Frustrated. Angry. Scared. I cry.

July 15thish, 2010: Ben's gaze is fixed to the left and any motion to the right causes strain and nystagmus. I cry.

July 23rd, 2010: Ben is seen by a specialist. We are told that Ben has no vision out of the right side of his eyes and that the vision that he does have from his periphery is measured at 20x800. Completely broken. Devastated. I cry.

August 18th, 2010: Ben is seen by a vision therapest. We are taught exercizes that may stimilate Ben's vestibular system and told that Ben's vision measures 20x400. I feel disbelief and guarded hope. I cry.

August 25ish, 2010: After extensive visual therapy, Ben visually tracks a toy for the first time. My heart soars with pride. I cry.

TODAY: We revisited the vision therapest and Ben's vision is measured at 20x100 (considered within the normal range for his age)! Ben tracks objects in both directions! Ben is able to move his eyes to both left and right! Although Ben still has a significant visual impairment and visual delay, the doctor tells us that Ben has great potential and instructs us to perform home-therapy exercizes with Ben to improve his occular-motor coordination. I am so filled with hope and joy that I cry!

I know that Ben has a long way to go in his recovery, but I cannot deny that we have felt the hand of the Lord in Ben's steady progress. Just as we taught the children in primary last month, I know that Jesus Christ is a God of miracles. We studied in primary the accounts from the Bible of Jesus restoring sight to the blind, and I have watched for myself as my son has gone from being positively blind to having sight! A true miracle!

I know that in Christ, all things are possible. I pray for Ben to be healed. pray. PRAY! pray. I don't know what is in store for Ben and his eyes, but I know that if it is the Lord's will, Ben will have sight. Some days are really hard. Some days I feel fear and grief. I pray for an increase of faith and I am filled with peace. I feel peace in my knowledge that the Lord hears my prayers and has a plan for my special son.

Today I cry because I know that Christ can and does perform miracles.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Today my baby boy turned 5 months old and while naturally there is a part of me that feels sad that my baby is growing up, I'm also really happy that my baby gets to grow up. So, today I celebrate Ben and the miraculous journey that he is made in his five, short months of life.

Five of My Favorite Things About Ben:

1) The Squeal. Ben is very verbal and loves to laugh, letting out a high pitched squeal whenever he is tickled, whistled to, or played with.

2) The Pudge. Ben is pleasantly plump and I like nothing better than to blow wet kisses against his full cheeks, rolly wrists, or squishy tummy.

3) The Squeeze. It makes my heart melt when Ben holds my finger in the grasp of his tiny little hand.

4) The Journey. Has it really only been five months? In some ways it feels like it has been much, much longer. I cherish every moment with Ben....the sheer joy at his birth, the days spent getting acquainted in his infancy, the nights spent holding his hand in the hospital, the playing and snuggling since, and every moment in between.

5) The Spirit. Ben is a special boy. Wordlessly, I can feel the courage, strength, and faith of his giant spirit inside his little baby body.

I am so proud of you, Benjamin! I love you all the way around the world and back. Happy 5 months!

Fun for All

I would like to give the weather a peice of my mind because I was quite bugged to have such lousy weather on my Labor Day holiday. So, we improvised. Bowling!

Poor Max must not have understood our instructions to keep his slippery bowling shoes off the greased bowling lane because he took one step across that line and wiped out! Maybe he thought it was a giant slip and slide.

If you thought bowling was an exciting sport, just try playing with a toddler. Think: watching a bowling ball spin at snail's pace down the lane without even enough momentum to knock over a single pin...then repeat, again and again.

Although Hank was mostly fascinated with the ball retrieval machine, he actually had a blast and was quite a natural. I'm a little embarassed to admit that I got beat by my 4 year-old!


Sometimes I fantasize about how much fun it would be if my sister and I lived near each other...we would review books together, test interesting recipes, and exchange mom tips all while the cousins play together in the backyard. I got a semi-glimpse of that idea when my sister visited me this weekend. It was awesome to just visit together, give her a little tour of my surroundings, and let her spend time with my family. Oh how fun it would be....

Thursday, September 2, 2010

First Day Photo-(fl)op

My wonderful idea to take a quick snapshot of Hank on his first day of preschool flopped big time. Sheesh! By the look of the pained expressions on his face you'd think I was doing chinese torture or something...

I'm so excited for all of the new learnings awaiting Hank this year in preschool and so proud of him for being the smarty-pants kid that he is.