Wednesday, January 26, 2011


We feel so deeply grateful for the love and support that was expressed to our family by our extended family members and close friends when we needed it the most during Ben's illness. We understand that many of our family members and friends took a real personal investment in our son, his recovery, and our family and we feel so humbled to have been the subject of so many thoughts and prayers. Now, after the passage of some time, we continue to receive sincere questions from all those people who reached out to us, wanting to know how Ben is doing now. There are also many people who don't know what to say, or what to ask, but are curious about Ben's health. As we have had the priviledge of witnessing countless miracles take place before our eyes, we want to spread our experience, our gratitude, and our love for our Savior with all of those who have been affected by our son's experience. However, as this experience is deeply personal and very close to our hearts, there are certain things we wish to keep private. So, in order to provide our support system with an accurate update and to record and celebrate the great accomplishments that Ben has made, I have answered a few Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. "How did Ben get meningitis?"
A. Who knows?! My purpose in answering these questions is to be open and informative, but I have to say, I find this question irritating. By asking where he caught the germ, are you looking to place blame? Ben was diagnosed with strep pnemonia bacterial meningitis. Like any other bacteria, it can be found on shopping cart handles, doctors' offices, in your home, or just passed from person to person. If you've ever had strep throat, then you've had the exact same bacteria! For some completely random and unknown reason, Ben picked up the strep pnemonia bacteria from an unknown source. Rather than the bacteria localizing in his throat or sinus the way that it would affect most people, it likely travelled through his blood stream where it infected the thin covering of his brain (the "meneges") and spinal cord.

Q. "My neice/cousin/neighbor had menigitis and she is just fine--why was Ben's case so severe?"
A. There are many strains of bacteria that cause meningitis, some are more severe than others. Strep Pnemonia is a particularly dangerous strain that can cause serious complications. The type of bacteria, coupled with Ben's age at the time of only five-weeks-old, and some serious medical discrepancies, resulted in a very serious illness.

Q. "I know Ben doesn't have meningitis anymore, so does that mean he isn't sick anymore?
A. Ben does not have meningitis, he doesn't have any communicable disease, and he is not sick anymore. As the result of his illness, Ben suffered some very serious complications, including: CVST (cerebral sinus venous thrombosis), hydrocephalus, epilepsy, dsyphasia, mild unilateral hearing loss, nystagmus, gaze palsy, name a just few. It is these after-affects that we are now treating.

Q. "Is Ben still on medication?"
A. Per the EEG performed earlier this month, we received the very encouraging news that Ben's brain waves are now calm enough to taper off his anti-seizure medication. As Ben's medication is very sedative and harmful to his development, we are very pleased to discontinue this medication, his last prescription. However, the medication is also addictive and, obviously, he will be at risk for seizures over the next few months. In the past, Ben's seizures manifested with apnea, so Ben sleeps with a oxygen saturation monitor to make sure that, should he have a seizure, he doesn't stop breathing. We would hope that we would be able to discontinue his monitor in the next few months also.

Q. "How is Ben's development coming along?"
A. Miraculously well. When you consider the fact that at one point we were told by his doctors that Ben may be blind, deaf, have profound disabilities, feel too sensitive to appreciate touch and contact, and may require feeding and breathing support, Ben is definately exceeding expectations. As Ben has suffered some serious setbacks, we are aggressively pursuing rehabilitative therapy to (pray, pray, pray) reach a full recovery. At this time, Ben is delayed in some of his gross motor skills and visual ability (as would be expected, all things considered), but we see him make new learnings and discoveries EVERY SINGLE DAY. Ben receives physcical therapy, occupational therapy, aquatic therapy, speech therapy, feeding therapy, and vision therapy seven times per week. Although it has required a major shift in our priorities to provide Ben with daily therapy, we have seen great results so we feel encouraged to continue with his regimen. As Ben is still so very young, there is no way to tell what his abilities will be. While we are constantly watching his development with a critical eye, we feel very hopeful and encouraged with the remarkable progress that has been made in such a short amount of time. With Ben's hardwork, courage, and perseverance, our determination, and the Lord's will, we expect great things for Ben.

Q. "How do you, as his mother, handle this trial?"
A. Ben is an absolute joy. I have been ridiculously blessed to have received Ben as my son and he makes every minute of every day more meaningful. Ben is not a trial--the way that our family must adjust to a new situation is a trial. As with any trial, there are low points. Unfortunately, our trial is not one that we will 'check-off' and complete. Rather, our trial is a journey that we will walk for the rest of our lives. Fortunately, I have the knowledge that I don't walk this path alone. My greatest friend and Savior, Jesus Christ, leads me on this path and has provided me with a perfect partner with whom to share my journey. He has also given me wonderful parents, parents-in-law, family, and friends who give us much needed support. Additionally, I know that through this trial, our family will gain strength, faith, compassion, charity, and patience--qualities that will enable us to ultimately attain salvation through Christ.

Q. "Is there anything I can do to help?"
A. We very much appreciate your love, support, and concern for our family. Ben's progress has been phenomenal, but there is still such a long, long way to go--we continue to call on our friends and family to remember our son in prayer. We know that the Lord hears and answers prayers and we have personally felt the comfort and strength of the many prayers offered on our behalf. Thank you! Also, this experience has opened up our eyes to the suffering and needs of so many families like ours in similar circumstances and we encourage you to look for opportunities to serve and love them.

I know that the Lord works in mysterious ways, often using His children as instruments in His hands to bring about His work. I would welcome any opportunity to be of further assistance in discussing our experience with anyone interested.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Best of Both Worlds

If you've ever taken a road trip with three little boys, you know that for all of the family fun, there is also a downside--the kids are tired, grumpy, and whine endlessly:  "when will be be there" and, "I need to go potty," and "Max won't stop bugging me." Well, we came up with the perfect solution: a mini stay-cation at a hotel in our own city--all the family fun without any of the hassle!

 Aaron had a membership reward for a free night at Marriott that we needed to use before it expired, so we decided to just be spontaneous and have a little family pool/movie party at a hotel in the city.

So, its not Disneyland, but we let the kids pick out their favorite treats and didn't even make them wait until after their dinner to eat them, jump on the beds and wreak havoc on the room, stay up late watching 'Honey I Shrunk the Kids' and have giant slumber party, order pizza and eat it in our pjs, and swim until our fingers are pruny.... even though we didn't go to an exciting destination, the boys were happy campers.

 Clearly Ben is malnourished, I know.

Hopefully sometime soon we'll get to take the vacation of our dreams, but until then, I'm pretty happy just being with my favorite boys--anywhere at all.

Friday, January 21, 2011

my little baker boys

With our crazy schedule, Friday is our only non-therapy day--its become a sacred stay-at-home-and-do-nothing-but-play-together day. Max had the idea to "make tu-keys" and since I've been dying to try a new sugar cookie recipe, we busted out our matching aprons (thanks Nana Z!) and baked up a storm!

Its amazing how cooperative Hank will be for a taste of cookie dough.

Hank must get his photography skills from me--thanks for the up-the-nose angle shot, Hank!
We decided to get a jump on our Valentine's Day baking and made heart-shaped cookies. I let the boys cut out, dip, sprinkle, and drizzle their own cookies.

The kids gave the final product a big thumbs-up!

This little baker was all baked out!

Changing of the Guard

As Ben is rapidly outgrowing his infant carrier, today I decided to promote him to the front seat of the shopping cart. On the one hand, I was literally beaming with pride to see Ben sit up in that seat, nice and tall, and stroll through the grocery store like a big boy.

On the other hand, the new seating assignment meant that Max was also promoted to being a walk-along. As you can see, Max took full advantage of this new freedom to explore the store at will, hang from the shopping cart one handed anytime he wanted a lift, and throw full-fledged tantrums in the middle of the aisle when mean Mom didn't give in to his cookie demands. Next time: a leash!

For his part, Hank was a phenomenal helper, insisting that Max hold his hand in the parking lot and keeping a good lookout for blinkie coupons:)

Monster Jam

As a Christmas gift, I bought Aaron and Hank tickets to the Monster Jam! For the past three weeks, Hank has been super-excited, counting down the days until the big event--and Aaron and I have not missed the opportunity to use it as leverage for good behavior: "Eat all of your breakfast or you can't go to the Monster Jam next week." Mean, I know.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Last year, when I turned 28, I revealed my theory about "epic" years occuring once every four years, and proclaimed that 28 was sure to bring me "big things." It seems that my prophecies were fulfilled, just not quite in the way that I had envisioned. So, if I get to put in my order again for this year, forget "epic" and "big," I'm saying up front that I'd like a calm, peaceful, and positive 29th year.

Some of my very sweet girlfriends surprised me with a birthday brunch get-together. Besides the fact that our millions of kids wreaked havok on Liz's poor house, it was so nice to celebrate with dear friends.

Believe it or not, I chose to go out for sushi for my birthday dinner--its not ALL raw fish people, trust me!

One of my favorite parts of the day was my 'birthday hug' from my boys. Hank and Max gave me hugs, sang me "Happy Birthday," and "helped" with a sweet card.

As tradition holds, I challenge Aaron each year to make me a birthday cake of my choosing. This year, I chose a throw-back from my childhood, a favorite we called 'yum-yum cake.' Aaron whoopsed and forgot a few key ingredients, so Sue saved the day and made the cake--it was a team effort.

If I told you what I wished for then it wouldn't come true, but I'll give you one hint: it starts with a 'Ben' and ends with a "Jamin."

Interview with Hank about Me:

1. How old is Mom? 29 (true)
2. What is Mom's name? Courtney (that's me)
3. What is Mom's favorite color? pink (I wouldn't have been able to choose)
4. What is Mom's favorite thing to eat? sandwiches (wrong-o. Chocolate!)
5. What is Mom's favorite thing to do? play with us (of course)
6. What is Mom's favorite song? Twinkle-Twinkle (hymns)
7. What is Mom's favorite book? The Book of Mormon (right!)
8. What is Mom's job? to take care of us (yep)
9. Where does mom like to go? Go to Old Maybe's (I think he meant "Old Navy." I do like to shop, but I would have said be outdoors, go on a walk, or go on a date with Dad)
10. What is your favorite thing about Mom? you are loved (thanks Hankie:)

If I have learned anything in my 29 years, its that I have so, so much more to learn. I'm looking forward to another year to figure it all out, to mess up, to keep on trying to get it right, to try to do my best, and to just keep moving forward. Its going to be a great year, I know it!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Little Comparison


6 law textbooks weigh 28.2 lbs

A giant bucket of cars and trucks weighs 24.5 lbs

4  #10 cans of long grain rice and three bottles of spaghetti sauce weigh 27 lbs

A random google search found this fisherman and his 27lb catch

My loveable, squishable, oh so adorable just-turned-9-months-old baby boy weighs 27 lbs!

Yesterday my sweet baby boy turned 9 months old! At our appointment with our pediatrician yesterday my suspicions were confirmed: Ben may not exactly be "petite." At 30" long and 27lbs, Ben is in the 90% for length and off the charts for weight. Bonus for me: I have no need for a gym membership because carrying Ben around everywhere gives me plenty of exercize!


- There is NOTHING more important in this world than family.
- Life is precious. Don't take anything for granted and don't waste time sweating the small stuff.
- Live each day with gratitude.
- I may make mistakes, I may not be perfect, but I will try my best to be the best mother I can be.
- Miracles Happen.
- Have faith--even when its hard, even when your prayers aren't being answered the way that you'd like, even when you're angry--Trust in the Lord and His will. If you look for His hand in your life, you will find it. Seek comfort in Jesus Christ. He is perfect friend.
- Enjoy the little things. Secret: the little things are the big things!
- Some things can't be measured. Some things don't need to be quantified. Some things don't fit molds. Some things are different. And its ok.
- Just LOVE.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Boys Will Be Boys

For as long as I've known Aaron, I've had concerns about the fact that he seems to be contantly belching or passing gas (sorry, honey!). No offense to my dear mother-in-law, but once when I was annoyed with Aaron's stinky habits, I asked, "didn't your mother teach you how to be polite?" Aaron said that withe four boys in his family, his mom gave up trying to teach them any manners a long time ago. Hmpf! Right then I made a mental note that if I ever had any sons, I would certainly teach them manners. Well, Sue, here is me eating my words: I give up! My boys are hopelessy, and innately, disgusting. The other day I was sitting on the couch when Hank rears up next to me. When I asked him what he was doing, he said he was "tooting" on me! Who taught him that?? Then last night while we were making dinner, Hank asked, "what is that smell?" and Max replied, without missing a beat, "my bum!" I am making a formal apology now to my future daughter-in-laws--I tried, but I give up!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Out With the Old...

...In With the New! Good riddance, 2010! We're feeling guardedly optimistic that 2011 has great things in store for our family--there's nowhere to go but up!

Being the wild party animals that we are, we had a family New Year's Eve pizza party.

After dinner, we got really crazy and made some homemade icecream!

Well, it was more like "icecream soup," but the boys weren't complaining!

Cheers! We toasted our sparkling cider to "miracles in 2011!"

The night ended with the kids getting tucked into bed and Aaron and I cuddling up together to watch a movie.
I've never been a big fan of New Years--the whole self-assessment and end-of-year evaluation always stresses me out. Nonetheless, I'm always up for setting new goals and, boy, do I have some new goals for 2011. Among other spiritual, physical, social, and financial goals, I have made the personal resolution to be done with guilt! Done! At the end of every day, I lay in bed and feel racked with guilt for what I didn't get done, for what I wish I had done differently, for not spending enough time with the kids, for not giving someone enough attention, etc. Certainly I can always stand to improve in these areas, and I will continue to work hard to meet all of my responsibilities/duties/expectations. But, I am done feeling guilty! All I can do is try my very best, and if that isn't enough--then I'm off the hook! Here's to trying my best...and forgetting the rest!


Well it wasn't exactly enough snow to build a giant snowman, but mom was feeling stir-crazy and the boys were needing to burn off some energy, so this little skiff of snow provided some entertainment on our nature walk the other day. How am I going to get these boys the exercize they need all winter long?? Bust out the treadmill...