Saturday, October 31, 2009


Today was full of goblins and angels and a major headache for me. Not that the costumed-candy-begging-hordes gave me a headache. It's just I had one and couldn't get rid of it all day. I still went out with the kids to look for sweets.

Ashley got all decked out, including her fingernails.

After I spent all that time gluing the spiderwebby nails to her, she said "I can't DO anything with these things on! Why do people like them? How can they DO anything?"

I told her that the price you pay for beauty is sometimes not being able to do anything productive. Ha! She ripped them all off right there.

Smart girl.

We went to the Trunk or Treat in the church parking lot and there were so many adorable little people there, all decked out in various costumes. Here's my niece Nicole, Alli and her friend Mercedes.

Ashley was cold so she put her coat on.

Lance and Ashley handed out candy from the back of our suburban.

After the Trunk or Treat, we went TRICK or treating through roughly a bazillion neighborhoods, hitting a trillion or so houses. I'm guestimating here, but it seems that number is reasonable for the amount of candy that was given to my children.

We'll be suffering dental drama for years to come from the effects of this night.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

You know you're not feeling right when... do silly, distracted things. Like...oh, I don't know, maybe putting a fortune cookie in your mouth before you realize you forgot to take out the fortune.

For the record? That little paper thingy does not taste good.

Also, that finger I thought was sprained, really isn't. It's broken. I have to wear the splint forever now because I've damaged my poor lil digit with all my attempts to bend it when it should have been kept straight. This really cuts into my typing speed.

I took the girls to the gym this afternoon to see if it would make me feel better. Lance and I went there this morning as well but there was no exercise involved. We simply lowered ourselves gently into the jacuzzi and sat there. We were full of the pathetic.

I exercised this afternoon. It did nothing to drive my cold/flu away.

On the plus side? The kitchen is now spotless for the night. Or until The Boy decides to have a bowl of cereal. It's been about an hour since our penne pasta dinner with garlic bread and squash so I'm expecting him to come running for nourishment any second.

Excuse me now. I have a date with some Nyquil.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Speech

This is the speech I gave today for Wonderland Developmental Center's 40th Anniversary Celebration in a large ballroom in the convention center.

Frist I want to tell you about a little girl named Cheri Lee, born in the late fifties. She was born healthy and beautiful. Big blue eyes, bright blond curls and she loved to run. Then one day she became terribly ill. Seizure after seizure and then apparently a stroke. She was placed in a bed. Her parents were told to put her in an institution. She was never given therapy or moved. She lay in a bed. For years she lay in a bed. Back then they didn't know you had to move so she lay in her bed.

When I was seven months along with our fourth child, something odd happened. I felt my baby girl within me do something she'd never done before. I felt her have a seizure.

At the time I didn't know it was a seizure---but it felt that way to me.

Then I felt...nothing.

For two days I did everything I could possibly do to make the baby move within me. I ate chocolate, I ate more sugar than I'd eating in the previous six months. I lay on my bed and poked my swollen belly. Nothing. I called the doctor and she had me come right in. Her ultra sound showed the same thing---my baby floating in amniotic fluid but no movement. She sent me to the hospital where they preformed more tests. There was a faint heartbeat but no movement.

They told me my baby was dying and they didn't know why. There was enough amniotic fluid. They didn't know why she was dying. They told me I needed a crash C-section. As I lay in the surgical suite, the anesthesiologist told me that he was going to put a tube down my throat, that his nurse was going to press on my neck and then I would be unconscious. I told him I'd give him fifty dollars if he'd put me out BEFORE he did that. He didn't laugh. He told me this was serious. What I didn't know at the time was that I could die too.

The I was out. Then I was awake. I didn't see my baby girl for two days.

When I did, she was perfection. Tiny, tiny perfection, but perfection nonetheless. They told me she was fine.

Fine? I was pretty muddled from the drugs but fine? How could she be fine? What had happened?

After a month, we were allowed to take our tiny, beautiful miracle home.

After a few weeks I knew she was not fine. I didn't know what was wrong, but I knew she wasn't right. She would lay on her blanket and not move. She'd be so still my heart would nearly stop in fear---was she dead? No, she was breathing. She did this again and again. Then she moved and I knew what she was doing.


I took her to the doctor and told her what was going on. She sent me to Children's Hospital and Ashley Rose had her first EEG. It came back abnormal so she had her first MRI.

Because there was such a long wait to get into see a Neurologist from the hospital, they sent us to see one in private practice. In the meantime I had the MRI films for two weeks. Two weeks is an eternity when you're in a situation like this. I pored over the films. I looked online to find MRI's of the human brain and I compared them to the films of Ashley's brain.

I knew there was something wrong but I didn't know what it was. There was this big black hole where I thought there should be....more..but I didn't know.

Then the Neuro walked into the room and said the words I never expected to hear. The words no parent of an infant ever thinks she's going to hear.

Your baby has had a stroke.

A stroke? My baby? A stroke? A STROKE?? Babies don't have strokes. Old people have strokes. A stroke??? What was she saying?

A stroke, A massive event that probably took place in the womb and since the location of the stroke was where language developed she might not speak, she might not walk and she could have vision issues.

You know when you first take a very bad hit? It knocks the breath right out of you and you're not sure you're ever going to breathe again. You can't get oxygen. You panic. You claw at the air, trying to force it into your lungs.

There were tears of course. Many, many tears. When the future is unknown for your child, there is fear.

Once we got over the initial shock, I went into fight mode.

I pored over research, I looked for intervention.

And I found Wonderland.

When I called Wonderland that first time, Marilyn answered the phone. I remember suddenly feeling choked up as I tried to explain why I was calling. What I wanted to say was “My entire world has just collapsed in on me, can you help me? Oh please, please help me. Help my baby”

What I said was that my infant daughter had suffered a stroke and I was looking for a place for her to receive therapy. Could I come see Wonderland?

Although that was what I said---Marilyn heard what I didn't say. She knew. She understood.

I bundled my little angel up and I drove to Wonderland.

I will freely admit to you that I was frightened. I was scared. My heart was in agony.

They wrapped me in a warm embrace from the moment I walked through the door carrying my tiny bundle. Mary Kay took Ashley from me and held her while I took the tour. Marilyn comforted me with her words and her demeanor.

Pam Neighbor led me through the labyrinth of paperwork I needed to navigate. The parent groups gave me other moms who were in exactly the same boat I was in. We sat and talked. We shared. We hugged. We cried. We were all worried sick about our babies. We were not alone on this very heart-wrenching voyage.

We could share our laughter and our tears. We could say things to each other that we could never say to the other moms at the bus stops in the morning as they complained about ear infections, or stuffy noses or skinned knees . I knew that saying Ashley had had a grand mal seizure the night before and then stopped breathing and turned blue would be a conversation stopper. So I simply nodded as they spoke. It was a club I didn't belong to any longer.

I belonged to Wonderland, where I could share life and death stories and it was all right.

While I was being cared for, so was Ashley Rose. She received physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy.

After a while I took to taking walks outside while Ashley was receiving therapy. One day when she was nearing three years of age, I came back inside and everyone was grinning. They took me by the hand. “come here! Come here! We want to show you something!” They looked like cats that had just feasted on very plump canaries.

They took me into the room with the floor padding and the therapy balls and there was Ashley Rose sitting on the floor. Mind you, helping her learn to even sit had taken a year or more. We'd taken the furniture out of our living room and installed a ball pit so she could have fun as she learned to sit by herself. Often she'd slowly tip over and disappear under the colored balls and one of our other children would dive in to pull her out and prop her back up. So sitting was still a big deal to us.

As I stood there in Wonderland, I watched as Ashley took a step. A step! She took a step! Then another and BOOM down she went. But she'd TAKEN A STEP! The entire staff, therapists, office staff and Marilyn were there clapping and laughing and crying like we'd won the super bowl.

And we had. Ashley could walk!

Have any of your children had to wear one of these? I think this is her first leg brace. Over the years, we were casted many times over by Don at Cascade Orthotics. Ashley needed to wear these in order to give her stability as she toddled around. Every six months we'd get casted again and start out with a new brace. Ashley still fell a lot, but she fell less when she wore her brace. Once when she was about four years old, we couldn't find her brace anywhere in the house. We searched and we searched....nothing. Finally we found it in the garbage can. Ashley had made her feelings very clear on the subject of braces. Very EXPENSIVE braces.

Wonderland was an oasis and a haven for us. One of the therapists sewed a neopryne hand brace for Ash to wear. When we first began Wonderland, Ashley couldn't open her right hand, It was always fisted. We called it her stinky paw and lovingly pried it open and to wash it and put a cloth inside it. Her soft hand-brace helped her open her hand and keep her thumb out. When I found a new therapy online called CIT, constraint induced therapy from a doctor in Alabama who was treating adult stroke victims, I asked Children's Hospital if they would do it for Ashley. They said no.

Wonderland said yes. Barb sewed a little shirt for Ashley so she had no access to her left arm and hand. It was like a tiny pediatric straight jacket. She could only use her stroke affected side. It was amazing. She progressed in leaps and bounds because she HAD to.

I'm here to tell you that Wonderland is amazing, wonderful, and all things good for parents who have landed in Holland and not in Italy. I will forever be grateful to Wonderland and it's staff for their kindness, their compassion, their love. They do not just treat the child, they treat the entire family.

My baby girl can walk because of Wonderland. There are no words to express our gratitude for that.

Braces like these give stability and support. Wonderland is the source of stability and support for grieving parents who are ready to stand and fight for their little angels.

Remember this little girl I told you about in the beginning? She is my sister. She's out of bed now, but lives in a wheelchair, unable to use the left side of her body. She can't open her hand, she can't walk. There was no intervention in her time of crisis. There was no Wonderland for my sister and so she has spent her life in a wheelchair and living in an institution.

Thank you Wonderland. Thank you for being there and blessing the lives of so many children and so many families.

Ashley? Please come up. This is what Wonderland has done. Thank you.

(Ashley came up to the podium and gave me a bouquet of flowers and stood there while the audience clapped for her)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Some I like...some I could do without. I try to follow what I'm taught about 'love one another as I have loved you' and that whole 'do unto others' thing too. Some people push your buttons until you're ready to pop. I've found myself posting on boards in less-than stellar behavior when some forum people intentionally nit-pick and argue the most ridiculous points. I stop myself and I stop myself and then....I just post what pops into my head. It may be wickedly clever and sarcastic--but it's probably not the nicest thing to do.

Like I said...I know the Golden Rule and attempt to abide by it.

Some people make it harder than others. Still, I do try.

However one person on this planet today really pushed my buttons.

No, it wasn't one of my teenagers--they've been remarkably well behaved of late.

It was the person who hit my husband's car and caved in the driver's side door and then left. They didn't leave a note, they didn't wait to see if someone would come out to see what happened. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

How do you get to be an adult with a driver's license and not have a conscience? If I'd done that, my nights would be wracked with guilt-induced insomnia.

I just don't understand.

Hubby had to climb in the passenger door because the driver's side won't open.

And.....a happy Wednesday to you all.

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's raining, it's pouring....

The old man is snoring. Well, he might be. I can't tell from here.

It's been a busy week at Rancho Troeppl. Seems we hit the ground running on Monday and haven't stopped to take a breath. It's always a busy week for me during parent teacher conferences as I rush to dozens of interpreting appointments all over the district. I feel like a ping pong ball.

Also, are any of you experiencing this? There is a ratty white panel van parked on our street. It's dirty, beat up and now it has a flat tire. As I walk the dog in the morning and evening I don't get a good feeling.

A neighbor called last night to warn me that there is someone living in it.

This isn't the first time this has happened here. There have been cars, mobile homes and trailers that have, for a time, lodged themselves on our street and been called home to the homeless.

Last night as Ashley and I walked Cassie, I told her that this sort of thing just never happened on our street when I was a child in this house. It just didn't. She told me she didn't feel safe here any more and wanted to move back to Shoreline. I told her I'd love to do that too. More than anything. I also told her that things are the same out there as they are here though. People are struggling all over.

There are more people standing on freeway off ramps holding card board signs. More desperate people hanging around outside of grocery stores asking for money or food. I keep a box (or two) of protein bars in my suburban for two reasons: I'm sometimes not able to come home during the day and run from one school to another and they keep me from buying fast food and the other reason is to hand them out to the guys holding the cardboard signs. I can't (won't) give them money but I can give them a little bit of healthy food.

Ah well. I'd better get moving this morning. There's breakfast to be made and kids to be roused from their warm beds.

Oh, and that ratty white panel van? A neighbor called the cops on it to have it towed.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Isaac and Papa Bob

I foolishly agreed to watch my great nephew this weekend. When I say 'foolishly' I mean that my pea brain had forgotten just how time intensive and sleep-depriving these small humans can be. Not to mention the odoriferous offerings ejected from their nether regions.

I got no sleep last night as the wee one 'slept' with me. He woke up well before six a.m. and he was singing. How could you get mad at that? The answer is that you couldn't. It was so sweet. He snuggled in next to me and even when he discovered that I wasn't his mommy, he was fine.

Here he is playing with his Papa Bob. I'd love to go take a nap but my father says that he's too old to watch kids. I dunno....look at this and tell me he's not doing a bang up job!


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Ashley's Birthday

Has it been that long since I've been pregnant? The calendar says heart says it isn't possible that my baby is so old.

I think she had a good day yesterday--despite some small disappointments. Mommy had to work late interpreting and couldn't call to say I was going to be late. Daddy picked her up at school and Alli baked her birthday cake after school. I helped her decorate it when I got home.

Rosie loves her duckies and so her theme, if you will, was chock full of duckies. From her cake to her balloons. She's a duckie lover.

Daddy and I took her to get her birthday present, a new iPod. Pink. At least I think it's pink. She was thrilled. Then later her cousins and Aunt and Uncle came over. We sang happy birthday to her and she blew out candles.

Her Auntie gave her little ducky non-slip decal thingies for the bathtub. I loved this idea and gift as getting her in and out of the tub is a tricky business with her balance issues. Thanks Auntie Julie!

Isn't she a happy angel?

AND...(drum roll please) Ashley has some exciting news. There is a swim team for disabled youth that is connected with Children's Hospital It's called The Shadow Seals. Ash had her first tryout on Sunday evening. As I sat there watching these stunning children---most missing one or more limbs---as they swam laps at speeds I haven't yet achieved, I was in awe. Stunned. Moved.

Ashley made the team and she's beyond excited. If she continues to progress and do well, she may get to go to the Nationals in Chicago next July. It's a goal she's determined to meet.

My swimmer

Monday, October 05, 2009

Zooooooooooooo and Aquairium and birthdays oh my!

Spontaneity has been the name of the game for us lately. We generally go to the pool after school every day (and I go in the morning as well) but the other day I surprised the girls with a trip to the zoo.

Actually we've gone twice in the past week. Once with Steph and Ash and then the second time with Ash and Alli. I walked my feet off. It was fun each time---but the two experiences were markedly different. One visit was on a Saturday and the place was jammed with people. The second visit was in the afternoon on a weekday and there was virtually no one there but us and the animals.

I liked the second visit the best. Here's a slide show of our time there with Ash and Alli. Don't expect any pictures of me. You know better than that.

This past weekend Lance finally had some time off and we took full advantage of his time with us. We were all sort of sick with colds and not feeling so well but we managed to enjoy ourselves.

We began with a yummy waffle and sausage breakfast on Saturday morning before the first session of Conference from Salt Lake. Conference was wonderfully inspiring and uplifting. Then we went to Olive Garden for lunch to celebrate Ashley's 11th birthday (a few days early)

Then we dropped the two older kids off so they could go to work and the rest of us went down to the waterfront to hit up the Seattle Aquarium. It was a beautiful day.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Los Pinguos!

Since the concert last week I've been anxiously awaiting the arrival of their cd that I ordered and it came!

Lance brought it out to the school and I played it for my Spanish class. In fact we sang and danced to it the entire time. Here's the song we picked that the kids are going to learn and perform at the Expo for their parents. They're so excited.

Turn up your speakers. I dare you not to chair dance to this!

My Los Pinguos obsession has infected my girls and my husband. I thought they might not enjoy it as they don't fully understand the language, but they love it as well! Yay! Makes it nicer that I can have the cd blasting away in the stereo when we drive around.

And boy do we drive around. I've been keeping up my twice-a-week gym visits. I've got an ugly cold right now and don't feel so well, but I did manage to drag myself to the pool this morning, hubby in tow. He wanted to stay in bed but he went anyway. He went right to the hot tub but did come for a workout in the pool afterward.

We wanted to go to the beach cabin this weekend for Ashley's 11th birthday, but she's feeling sick, Alli stayed home from school sick, Chris has it too and now Steph is coming down with it so I think it's a weekend at home for us all tucked under the covers with lots of tissues and cold remedies at hand.

Also, it's the worldwide church conference so we plan on watching that. I reccomend it to all my friends. It's a wonderful way to learn about the church. I look forward to it every six months. You can watch it Here Just click on the 'here' in the past sentence and it will take you there. Enjoy!