Surviving life

2015 is coming to a close. It was a rough one. As a family we survived one of the biggest blows that I have ever experienced. The good news is, we survived.

If you know Blake at all, you know he never sits still. He works hard every day to keep the family business thriving and then comes home and does more than his share around the house. It’s just who he is.

That’s how I knew he wasn’t feeling well last February.  He would come home and sit. He wasn’t eating, he didn’t feel well, he didn’t look well. He was not well.

I remember one late night, I was driving Blake to Kansas City after our local ER had told us that was the best option, I was driving and thinking, “This is where our life changes forever.”  Who knew how right I was?

That night’s ER visit did not get us any answers. They sent us home after all night of waiting telling us he was fine. We came home to our favorite doctor and she helped us find answers.

Side note:  if your doctor ever wants to come to your house with results from tests, it’s probably not a good thing. We tease her about that now but her compassion, dedication and love for our family is something we will never be able to repay her for.

She had the MRI results back and I’ll never forget her words, she dropped her head in her hands and told us Blake had “lesions all over his brain”.

We knew this more than likely meant MS. Blake’s dad has fought a long, hard battle with this horrible disease so we are no stranger to it.

This is when God started working.  Miraculously we went from not able to see a neurologist for weeks to getting an appointment that next day with one of the best MS doctors around.

After a couple days of living it up at KU Med (the only thing the Jayhawks ever did right) Blake was on the road to recovery, this time, and did not have a diagnosis of MS yet….

Our life slowly got back to normal. Blake got settled into a life of medicines and shots and felt better little by little.

I’m happy to report that we have had a somewhat normal rest of the year. We had a great vacation where we walked all over Chicago, Blake golfed and hunted a lot all season long.

We headed back to the doctor at the beginning of December just sure he would get “patient of the year” because of how well he had been doing.  We were shocked when the doctor told us he had a couple new lesions. Because we have now experienced a change, Blake officially has multiple sclerosis.

He’s changed medicines and is continuing the fight. Overall, he still works hard at work and at home.

We’ve learned a lot throughout this past year

Our kids are stronger than we ever gave them credit for.  We have explained all of this to the extent they can understand and need and they have taken it all in stride. I think they are sad Blake isn’t doing shots anymore because it was a family affair.

We have learned who we can count on. We would like to thank those of you who have prayed for us, asked how we were doing, helped with our kids and brought us meals. It means a lot.

We are definitely closer as a couple. This has brought about a lot of conversations about how we want to fight and how we are coping with all of it. We are determined to fight as hard as we can and do everything we can to beat this horrible disease.

For me, the hardest past was having an unknown future. I’m a planner. I hate not having a plan or taking forever to get a plan. I was beyond devastated to know that I no longer have a way of knowing what our future looks like. Through my struggles, God really made clear to me that no one is promised tomorrow.  We can plan all we want and one second can change your life so really our future is no different than anyone else’s.

Our main reason for sharing is that we know, especially in small towns, people talk. We want to make sure the correct story is the story that is shared. Please don’t hesitate to ask us how Blake is doing. We are happy to share with you. We don’t want anyone to feel sorry for us. We are so blessed and have such a great life. There is no reason to feel sorry for us. You never know, a cure could be right around the corner.

The main thing I learned is that everyone has a story. Everyone has baggage.  Before we get frustrated with one another, let’s take a step back and realize we have no idea what the other person is going through. We are all just surviving.

Library family

It’s no secret that my job is my passion. You don’t have to be around me too long to figure out that I love what I do.  Libraries and getting people passionate about reading is what I’m about. 

I love coming to Spring Conference for MASL each year. It’s like summer camp when you see your friends each year. It’s so nice to talk with people who understand your daily struggles and successes. 

This year I have an added appreciation for my MASL family. It’s no secret that I’m not as involved as I have been in past years. Some of that is due to my time on committees coming to an end and some of that is due to the fact that my world got rocked about 2 months ago and I wasn’t even sure I would be able to attend Spring Conference. Thankfully things have settled down during this crazy year I’ve had and I’ve been able to attend as well as present at this year’s conference. 

It is evident  that I have connections with these people in the library world but what has been overwhelming to me is how many people have taken time out of their busy conference schedule to ask about Blake (who they have never met), hug my neck, tell me they have been praying for us…  I appreciate all of these kind words more than you will ever know. It’s nice to know someone has your back. 

Thank you

Smiling through it all

One of my dear friends mentioned that I haven’t blogged in awhile.

Where have I been?

For the past seven months, my life has kind of fallen apart.  I say that with a smile on my face.  Our family has gone through a rough patch of life but those things happen.

In the fall, I had carpal tunnel surgery.  It needed to happen, it was a success, I’m moving on and still getting stronger every day.

In 6 months time, between Blake and I, we lost 3 grandmas.  The silver lining of this is that we were able to have those lovely ladies for over 35 years of our lives.  Many of our friends haven’t had that experience.  Although we miss them terribly and I still pick up the phone to call my grandma all the time, it’s the circle of life.  I never would have dreamt that my kids would be able to tell their kids about their great-grandmas some day and my kids are old enough that they will have memories.  For that I am grateful.

Blake had some serious medical issues happening in February.  We are still getting all our ducks in a row but I’m happy to report that he is back to his old self (for the most part).  Figuring out what the new normal looks like.  I was explaining to Paige the other day that yes, there is a chance he could get sick again but this time, we have the right doctors, the right hospital, the right medicines.  The scary part is the unknown.  I’m thankful for God opening the doors we needed opened and I’m super thankful for technology and medical researchers who continue to find cures for horrible diseases our loved ones have to fight.

We are ready for a normal, boring routine of life to find us again.  With that all being said, we now have 2 kids who know how to ride their bikes and one more day care payment before summer and kindergarten.

I think the thing I’ve learned through all of our exciting times is that many people walk through life with a smile and are hurting inside.  Maybe they’re hurting physically or maybe their world is crumbling around them.  All around us people are hurting.

Be aware.

Maybe someone bit your head off at work but it really has nothing to do with you.

Maybe someone cut you off when you were driving because they had a lot on their mind.

We live in a self-centered world.  I’m learning to be more mindful of people around me.  If only everyone would try this, think how wonderful the world would be.

the quieter you become the more you can hear [explored]

Social Awkwardness

People and their behaviors are strange.

Most of the time I live in my own little world and don’t pay attention to other people but lately, I have started noticing somethings.

I consider myself an nice, polite person.  I would never knowingly do or say something that would hurt someone’s feelings, BUT I am very sarcastic and notorious for sticking my foot in my mouth.

The thing I’ve been noticing lately comes more with manners.  I will always hold a door for someone, smile in passing, that sort of thing.  Am I strange?  I notice people walking by me all the time, they don’t make eye contact or speak.  Many times it’s even people that I know.  No matter who I pass in the hallway at work or in the aisle at Walmart, if I’m not distracted, I will always make contact and smile or say hello.  This doesn’t seem to be the case with others.

So which person in that scenario is socially correct?  Am I a weird, stalker girl because I’m overly friendly?  Is it common courtesy to say hello in passing or at least make eye contact and smile?

Things that make me go hmm….

A Look into Parker’s World

Have you seen the video of the little 5-year old who uses the word apparently repeatedly in a news interview?

If you have met my son, you know that he could have easily been the kid in that video.  My five-year-old keeps life interesting and you never know what he is going to say.  Here is a little taste of some of my past Facebook statuses:

On the way to basketball practice tonight, a song came in Klove and I mentioned that it was a song I wanted played at my funeral someday.
Parker: well Mom, I’m going to stand up and talk at your funeral
Me: Really? What will you say?
Parker: I don’t have it all figured out yet and I don’t want to ruin it. You’ll hear it soon.

P: will someone get me some tea?
Me: drink some water
P: guess I’ll get the tea myself it’s the only option I got.

I ask the kids: what are you guys watching?
Both of them: I don’t know
Parker: but it’s not naked people and cuss words.

Spent some time ringing the bell today. Here are some Parker quotes:
-On the way: we are going to be rich! (Followed by an explanation of why we were ringing the bell)
-That guy looks like Obi Wan Knobi with a beard
-Mom, your ringing is pathetic. By the way what does pathetic mean?

This is just the last month of our life…we don’t have many boring moments around here.

Month Long Menu Planning

Christmas  is behind us.  It’s time to get organized to start a new year.  By nature, I am a messy person, but I long to be organized and it is an ongoing battle for me.

Last fall when school was starting, I decided to try menu planning for a month at a time.  There were many factors that led to this decision.  First of all, I live in a small town with not much options when it comes to grocery shopping.  There are only two places to shop and I got tired of the lack of selection or the fact that half the time, if I didn’t watch extra close, I was bringing home out of date groceries.

My first step was to research.  I wanted to find a good printable menu that I could use each month and enjoy looking at.  This is the one I chose.

menu-plan-grid

I found it on this blog from a great lady in Australia.  Check it out!

Next, I wondered how I would fill all these days with great meals.  Most days I can’t think of a single thing to cook for dinner.  In our house, if I make 3 meals a week, that is plenty for us.  We can eat those meals and their leftovers (I cook like I have a family of 8) and be satisfied for the week.

I decided I was making it too hard.  I sat my family down and asked them what they wanted to eat.  It’s a struggle to get my kids to eat so why not put them in charge?  I let each kid pick one meal each week.  That means we usually have breakfast for dinner at least once a month and usually sneak in some chicken nuggets, but it is all good.  My husband and I discuss what sounds good to us and we finish up the month pretty quickly.

Because of our schedule, it works best for me to make my meals at the beginning of the week.  I have found that you do what works for you.  If a plan changes and I don’t get a meal made, I don’t stress, I just mark it out and plan to make it later in the month.  At the end of the month, I look at the meals that I didn’t make and add those meals to the next month.

As far as the shopping goes, I tried my hand at extreme couponing and I just didn’t have the patience or the time to deal with that.  I do watch the adds and pick up staples that I know I will use when they are on sale, but mostly I just go off my monthly meal plan plus some snacks.  If I stick to this, we can easily cut our monthly food budget almost in half.

I had worked hard for two months to keep up the monthly meal plan and I loved it.  I didn’t have to sit looking in my pantry wondering what I was going to have each day.  I don’t waste time throughout the day wondering what I’m going to cook and what I have in the freezer.  The guess work is done for me and I just follow my schedule.  I was in a good pattern but then I had hand surgery and some unexpected family stuff came up and I just fell off the wagon.  I’m looking forward to getting started again in January.

Here are two examples of completed meal plans.  I put our activities on them so I know when we will be home or not be home.

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Why am I sharing this?  It doesn’t seem like brain surgery.  When I would discuss what I was doing with people, they seemed intrigued.  I never want anyone to reinvent the wheel so if something I do helps you, that’s great!

Let me know if you have questions.

A Look Back at 2014

2014 was an interesting year.  The highs were high and the lows were low.

Blake and I celebrated 10 great years of marriage with a trip (my first) to Vegas.

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This girl turned 8.

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This guy got his first turkey and it was yummy!

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Parker’s love of go-carts and the ultimate fight for the best go-cart driver began

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My baby cousin graduated high school.

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I decided to change things up in my library which resulted in moving over half the books and causing a lot more work for myself…in the end it was worth it.

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We took an awesome vacation where we got to relax and strengthen our love for the beach.  It was hard to come home.

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Paige gave back to the community with her own very successful service project.

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We started yet another school year…

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This guy turned 5.

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Attended the most exciting game in Royals history…The Wildcard Game

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Made dreams come true as we attended a World Series game where the Royals actually got to play…even though we lost, it sure was fun.  How many days until catchers and pitchers report?

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Once the Royals lost, things took a turn…

I got an extra fall vacation while I recovered from carpal tunnel surgery

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I started 2014 having only lost one grandparent.  This year, I lost both of my grandmas in two months time.  I don’t have words to say what that has been like.  I’m learning every day how to live without Grandma.  Even when someone has been sick for so long, you still can’t imagine what this world will be like without them.

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I wish you peace, health and love for 2015.  I’m hoping it’s the best one yet.