Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Happy Birthday, Sweetie!

I haven't blogged forever but today deserves a post.  I don't have my WordPress blog anymore but I was going through those old posts that I had saved and remembered this post I did last year on my hubby's birthday.  I still feel the same so I am posting it again...

A Day That Will Live Forever in Infamy! – (Originally posted 14 November 2011)
I said I wouldn’t be thankful for the obvious things in my life but I just have to break my own rule today.
On this day, in 1968, a bouncing baby boy was born.  But, not just any boy, a very special boy.  He grew up with loving parents and siblings in a loving home.  He did lots of things mischievous little boys do.  He grew into a strong handsome teenage boy who learned to love sports and the great outdoors.  He worked (a lot) for the family business where he learned to be a very loyal and hard worker.  He grew even taller and stronger still.  When he turned 19 he set aside two years to serve the Lord and the people of Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas.  This is where he grew the most.  After returning with honor, he furthered his studies at Dixie College.  That is where I had the fortune of meeting this handsome young man!
From the day we met, we have been just about inseparable.  Sure, we have had our ups and downs, but for the most part we have loved every minute we have had together (Well, I know I have).  We have had three wonderful children together.  We have helped each other through some hard times and we have celebrated our accomplishments together knowing that we are each other’s biggest fans.  We are happy with our lives right now and look to the future with excitement.  In a few weeks we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the day we were sealed together for time and also eternity.
So today I am thankful for my mother and father-in -law.  I am thankful that they had that beautiful boy 43 years ago.  But I am especially thankful that he found me and I was able to take him off their hands!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Moving Day

I have decided to move our blog from Blogger to Wordpress. I haven't really liked the blog editor in Blogger for some time. I am not sure if I will like Wordpress better. I guess time will tell. For now, you can visit us in the testing phase here:

Hope to see you there...

Hope it is easier to blog...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Trying to Turn My Brown Thumb Green

Jim has "gardener" blood flowing through him. His Grandpa Jack had a farm and his dad worked hard on that farm. There has always been a garden in the Barber family. However, the Perez family did not. I remember when I was really little my mom tried to have a garden. But I didn't grow up with that experience.

It is known around our house that I can barely keep a house plant alive. (So I forget to water them, so what!) So Jim and I have a deal. If he takes care of the garden I will cook, freeze, can, or otherwise process anything he grows and brings into the house. That has worked well for us so far but life is busy. I have had to learn to help out.

This spring we went and bought our plants for our garden. It was on March 15th. I took pictures because I love the way the garden transforms from empty beds to instant garden when we plant those little starts. I love the look of the smooth brown dirt with no weeds (yet). I wanted to blog about it then but, like I said before, life is busy.

These are our tomatoes. We planted 8 Roma tomato plants this year. I guess I will be making lots of spaghetti and pizza sauce this fall!

This is our raspberry bed. Jim had cut back late year's plants and we were left with these cute little baby raspberry plants.

This year I filled this whole box with different kinds of peppers. I planted red and purple bell peppers, Anaheim peppers, ancho peppers and something Jim HAD to have called "Big Jim" peppers.

These are our cute little baby peas. Jim planted those as seeds way back in March. They loved our cool rainy spring, even if we didn't.

These are our rows of lettuce. One row of romaine and one row of - oh! now I can't remember the name! Next to that we planted a row of pole beans.

Well, Jim has been gone this week with Josh on a Boy Scout canoe trip. I have been responsible for taking care of the garden. My biggest fear is forgetting to water. I remembered to water this time! I know, amazing. But more than that, I didn't want Jim to have to do any yard work when he got home so he could spend all his time paying attention to me. So this morning we got started before it got too hot. We trimmed, edged and mowed the lawns. We pulled all the weeds. We watered everything. And it looked so good I had to take another picture.

This picture includes the yummy grapes and the six rows of corn planted (on the left) at the last minute. (also the chicken coop Jim has been working really hard on. Blog post to come soon) We really love corn and last year I learned how to bottle it. It was so delicious we ran out of it last month.

I don't think I could do this without Jim. In fact, I know I couldn't. He inspires me to want to get my hands dirty. And though I am totally worn out and will probably be a little sore tomorrow, I have a real sense of accomplishment. The yard looks great. I think Jim will appreciate how it much work we put into it. And he can direct all that appreciation into making sure all the camping gear gets put away!

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Graduate

I have blogged about my Austin before. You know that I am a very proud mommy. This will be a gushing blog post, so if you aren't up for it, you might just want to click away.
There have been so many times in his short 18 years that I wondered what would happen in his future. Since we got his Autism diagnosos when he was 5, there have been so many times I didn't know what would happen with him. I still have some worries about what will happen next, but for now I will just think about his accomplishments in the last couple weeks.
The Sunday before school was over, Austin graduated from Seminary. He sacrificed one elective class period every sememter throughout his whole four years of high school to take seminary. He made this choice on his own without any pushing from us. He studied his scriptures, he participated in his class and he did all the work. But he wasn't the only kid to do it. Not only did every senior in our ward graduate with a four year certificate, every kid in our stake did! I am so proud of him and all of those kids. (I was Austin's cub scout leader for a couple years and Jim was the scoutmaster for those kids, so we know and love them all) Below are a few of those boys that we love so much. They have been great friends to Austin.
Then came the last week of school. Austin was in the End of Year Assembly. He loved being involved! He loved being in high school. He loved opening the door for everyone. He loved all the friends he made at Syracuse High School. I loved how they embraced him and his quirky ways.
Then came the big day... Graduation! So many people were involved in getting him to that day. I appreciate all of them and all they did to help get him to this. And not only get him there, he got there with his class and with a 3.5 GPA. He worked so hard! He loved seeing those A's on his report card. He's such a good boy!
Then it was time to celebrate! I told him I wanted to take him on a trip and he could choose where he wanted to go. And just like a "Disney Kindred Spirit", like a kid after my own heart, he chose Disneyland. He loves all things Disney, just like his mom, and that was where he really wanted to go. And it was worth every penny...
A lot of people don't like to go to Disneyland because of the crowds and the lines. I have never been in June because of that. But we went and we made sure we had plenty of time. We started with a visit with my dad, Austin's Papa Ralph. We went to an Angles game and then Papa dropped us off at our hotel. We checked in and went straight over to the parks. The lines were long but much more tollerable with an 18 year old than with toddlers. My favorite part of the trip was just watching his face as he experienced his old favorites and some of the new things. (California Adventure was still being built the last time we were at the Disneyland Resort in CA) He loved Sorin' over California, the new Little Mermaid ride and World of Color, the night time show. I enjoyed watching his face while he watched the parade down Main Street and when he met the characters at our breakfast in the park.
It was so fun for me to be able to spend some one on one time with my Austin, even though he almost ran me into the ground. (I had to recover for a few days after!) We are as close as two people can be when one of them has Autism. It was fun to be able to have little conversations with him, something that is not so easy to do. It was fun to be able to spoil him and let him make decisions about where to go and what to do on those days.
We aren't quite sure what is next for him. He wants to work with animals and he wants to serve a mission. We know what ever he does he will do his best and he will work very hard. He will make us proud as he has the last 18 years. We love him and we are so proud of him!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Glue Flakes Keep Fallin' from My Head

In an effort to continue to diagnose the severity of my autoimune disorder, my doctor ordered some more tests. One of the things that may happen with my soft tissues is called Calcinosis (calcium deposits). One fear is that this happens in my lungs. If it does, my body will not be able to absorb oxygen like it should. That could cause pulmonary hypertension. It is scary when you take it in all at once but I am pretty far from that. That is why my doctor has me have a yearly chest x-ray and heart ultrasound. It is also why I was sent to have a "lung study" done. He just wanted to get a starting point so we can monitor it for the future.

So I went to have my lung study at the local hospital. I got to sit in a Plexiglas box and breathe into a tube several different times in several different ways. The computer did all kinds of calculations, the results were sent to my doctor and we met with him to go over the results. He said my lungs are already starting to have some trouble absorbing oxygen. Not much but enough that it may be affecting my sleep and that may be why I have been getting light headed when I over exert myself.

So, he wanted to do another test. He wanted to check my oxygen levels while I sleep. I went to the hospital and picked up a pulse oximeter. I got to wear it for a night while I was sleeping. Those results were also borderline so he ordered another test. He wanted me to do an overnight sleep study at the clinic.

Last week, I packed up my knitting and my pajamas and headed to the sleep lab. I checked into the lab at about 7:30pm. I got settled in for a little bit. I started watching a movie and knitting. It was quite comfortable. I was warm enough (that is always my greatest fear) and the bed was very comfortable.

Then, the technicians came in to hook me up to all the sensors. There were so many it took about 20 minutes. The beautiful self portrait below only shows about 2/3 of the wires that were connected to me.
What you can't see are the wires stuck to my calves, the other strap wrapped around my waist, and the six sensors glued to my scalp. They had to rub a solution on my head to clean it, then they glued the sensors on and dried them with a little air compressor. They gathered the wires and hooked them up to a plug behind the headboard. After that, they had the audacity to wish me a good night's sleep.

It took me a while to fall asleep. I put in my ear plugs and put on my eye mask. I finally felt like I was just in a deep sleep and far in the distance I felt the lights go on and heard the door open. It was time to wake up. (Well, what they thought was time to wake up. I wouldn't consider 5:30am an hour I would generally choose to wake up.) It took a little less time to unhook me from all the wires. They had to spray a solvent in my hair to get the sensors from my head unglued. That was fun. I gathered my stuff and took my greasy hair home. I crawled into my own bed. It woke Jim up so we had a few minutes to chat before he had to get up and get ready for work. A few hours later I got up and got in the shower. They told me the rest of the glue would wash out in the shower, but it didn't.

It is a week later and I should be getting my results anytime now. It is a week later and I am just starting to feel like I am making up my sleep. It is a week later and I am still picking glue flakes from my scalp.

I feel like I have been a horrible wife and mother the last week because I have felt so exhausted. I hope my family understands. I know they will never feel what my body is feeling, just like I don't really know what Austin's autistic brain is thinking. But I hope they can try to understand that I'm not just lazy, just like I know Austin isn't. It is just a different way of functioning. It is very hard to describe. It is also hard to know that with both of us, even though our diagnosis' are drastically different, it is our reality. A reality we will both live with for the rest of our lives.

We live in these fragile bodies for what we think is a long time. It is sometimes hard to keep things in perspective. It has been hard for me this last week. Then I get reminded that this life is very short. It is the eternities that we are preparing for. I know one day I will be able to sit down with Austin and have a wonderful conversation. I also know that one day I will be again be able to climb a mountain.

It's OK if that day doesn't come in this life. I know the next will be even better.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Apearantly , "Sleepless in Seattle" Means Extra Sleepy When You Get Home!

I guess when I don't blog for a while that means I am doing stuff that is more fun than blogging. That has defiantly been true this last few weeks! I have been knitting up my hats. I am done with the first two and well on my way to reaching my goal. I just purchased a bunch of sale yarn today that is going to make some really fun hats. I finished my first on a bus...

Kyle is in a wonderful choir at Syracuse High School. It is called A Capella. They have the BEST teacher and all the kids a wonderfully talented. I love listening to them sing. Every spring they go on a "choir tour". (I guess they have only gone three times because the school is only three years old) Last year they went to Southern CA (Disneyland). I'm not sure where they went the year before. This year they went to Seattle. I was fortunate enough to go with Kyle as a chaperone.

The purpose of Choir Tour is to expose the kids to other cities and cultures and to get instruction from other choir directors. It also helps to the kids to sing better together when they are a close knit group. Traveling like they do definitely helps them bond to each other and become better friends.

We left on a Tuesday night at 9pm. The kids look happy in the picture below because I took it at the beginning of the 15 hour bus ride and not at the end!
About three hours after I took that picture they were sleeping all over the floor of the bus. They were in the aisles and under the seats. By the end of the trip the bus smelled of feet and Cheetos.
Our first stop was before we even checked into the hotel. We were able to walk around Pike Place Market for a couple of hours. It was so nice to get out of the bus but we were tired from not getting a good night's sleep. After that we walked down to the old downtown area called Pioneer Square. From there we went on a Seattle Underground Tour. When it was dinner time, we walked up to the Seattle Hard Rock Cafe. That was fun for me. I don't think the kids really appreciated the amount of Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix memorabilia that was on the walls. We finally got to check into the hotel after dinner. My job was to always make sure my two rooms of girls were in their rooms by 10pm and they were all there whenever we had to meet somewhere. My girls were especially good. I never had any problems.

On day two, we boarded the buses around 9am and headed to the Chittenden Locks and Fish Ladder. They use the locks to maintain a particular water level in Lakes Washington and Union, so the sea water doesn't mix with the fresh water of the lakes, and to get the boats to the right water level to be able to travel between the two bodies of water. The fish ladder is along the side of the locks and that helps the migrating salmon (and other types of fish) get up and down stream. Then we went to Seattle Center where we went up to the top of the Space Needle. We also got to look at and try at all the cool stuff at the EMPSFM (Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum) That was WAY fun. We then went back to our hotel and got ready for dinner and the Seattle Symphony.
After a long day, some of my girls wanted to have "girl chat" in their hotel room. It was fun to be able to have that time with them because I don't get that in my house full of boys!

The next morning, the kids had one of their clinics. This one was at Seattle Pacific University, kind of. It was in a church just of the campus but it was with one of the music directors from the university. He taught them some really great stuff. I didn't know those kids could sound any better but they did! And the acoustics in the church were great!
We had a little bit of time before dinner to stop at a park and take some great pictures. These are two of "my girls". They now call me Momma Barber!
For dinner, we went on a harbor cruise. There were sandwiches and finger foods and great views of the city.
But the best part of the night, and the whole trip, was the D.J. and the dancing! WE had a great time and the D.J. said we were one of his best crowds ever. Everyone danced and had a great time. My biggest mistake was having "girl chat" again late into that night. I am not as young and I don't bounce back as easily as those teenagers!
On our last day, we checked out of the hotel and went to another clinic at University of Washington. We also had a little time to go and shop at the University Book Store. It was the only day we got a little bit of rain off and on. We got sunshine for a few hours in the afternoon. That is when we had some time to drive up to the Seattle Temple.
Our last dinner was at Tillicum Village. We boarded a ferry boat that took us across Puget Sound to Blake Island where we had a traditional Squamish and Duwamish salmon bake. Then the Native Americans put on a show of story telling and dancing.
When we boarded the buses after dinner it was time to head home. The bus was a little quieter on the way back, but not too much. We arrived back at the high school at about 11:00 the next morning. I just laid around for the rest of the day. I was still pretty beat from all the walking around, the late nights and the dancing. The next morning I got up, got Jim to work, got the boys off to school and then got back into bed! I fell right back to sleep. Jim sent me a text message at about 10:30 that I didn't answer so he called me at about 11:45. That is what finally woke me up!!! I guess I needed the sleep. My sister even told me she was a little worried about me doing too much that week. I kind of feel like it is OK as long as I have a recovery day. Don't tell my doctor that I wore myself completely out! He might not like my "recovery day" theory.

So last Friday night, Kyle and I invited all the kids over to the house for a reunion of sorts. We roasted marshmallows in the fire pit, ate too much pizza and played Rock Band until curfews.
Not all the kids came but most of the ones that I had "girl chat" with and some of the others that I got to know over the week. It was a good time. I have a feeling, now that they know where we live, that they will be around a lot more, which is totally fine with me. I like it when our house is the hang out spot!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Inspired by My Sister, Cousin-in-Law and a Very Brave 15 Year Old

Josh has a friend named Maddie. They have been great friends for a very long time. A few months ago Maddie was diagnosed with Osteo Sarcoma... bone cancer. It was a shock to her family and her friends. Most 15 year old kids don't even know what cancer is, let alone have to deal with it first hand. I have been thinking about her and her family a lot over the past months. Even more since Josh came home last week and told me she is loosing her hair from her Chemotherapy treatments. I remember how much my hair meant to me at 15 and I don't think I would have loved going bald! I also thought about how lonely and bored she must be. She hasn't been able to go to school, she has to be very selective about her visitors so she doesn't catch anything, and she sleeps a lot. So she and Josh text a lot. I usually get on my boys for texting instead of doing homework (or other things they should be doing) but I let it slide a little when it is Maddie.

Josh and I have been spending a lot of time together lately. We have been able to have some good chats. I got the bright idea to help Josh make a little gift bag of things to take to Maddie. So through text messages we found out that she was currently in the hospital. We gathered some fun things together - books, coloring books, play-dough, bubbles and a hat I knitted. After church yesterday we headed down to Primary Children's Medical Center.

Josh was nervous. He didn't know what he was going to say or do. I assured him that even though she was not feeling well, she was still the same Maddie. We felt a little bad because she was sleeping when we got there but they said it was OK and we were able to have a really nice visit. Maddie's mom was so happy that we did. She told us that was the first time Maddie had smiled all day. She smiled especially big when she saw the Veggie Tales coloring book we got and when Josh got brave enough to sit by her for a picture.

We saw the x-rays and the MRI pictures. We learned that the cancer was confined to her femur and had not spread to any other parts of her body. Her prognosis is great and we hope and pray for the best for her.

That wasn't the case with Jim's cousin, Zac, who had the same cancer. I spoke with Jim's Aunt Sue this afternoon and she said it has been ten years since they first heard Zac's diagnosis. We talked about him and I told her how much our family has learned, and are still learning, from their wonderful example.

I know that there are lots of different endings to a story that starts with the words "Osteo Sarcoma". I know how I want Maddie's story to end. But I know even more deeply the importance of humbling ourselves enough to learn the lessons that we can learn from our trials. Our Heavenly Father loves us and will tell us what we are here to learn if we only ask. Chemotherapy makes you physically weak but this girl has a strong spirit. I could tell she got it from the wonderful example of her parents. I'm sure they will be strong. I am also sure they will know when to lean on others when their strength alone is not enough. Those others are out there just waiting to do good for others.

I try every day to be one of those people. The best example I had of this was, and still is, my big sister. She was the kindest, most giving person I have ever known. Over the last few years I have tried to be more like her. I feel like that is a one way I can keep her close to me even though she isn't physically here.

One of the things that we used to talk about was her anxiousness about turning 40. She wasn't looking forward to it. She passed away four months before she had to face it. (I sometimes think that is one of the first things I am going to ask her about when I see her again.) I, on the other hand, have been looking forward to my 40th birthday. I want to have super big party! I want to celebrate being alive and being able to be with my family and friends. But I have also been looking for something more meaningful to do to celebrate those 40 wonderful years.

Well, I think I have my idea. I was inspired by our visit with Maddie. One of the things we put in her gift bag was a hat I had knitted. They were so grateful and impressed. To me it was nothing. Just a few hours spent doing something I love to do. On the drive home, the thought came to me that there must be other kids at PCMC that have lost their hair for one reason or another. They must need a hat. I don't know how to cure cancer but I can knit.

My goal, starting today, on what would be my big sister's 45th birthday, is to knit 40 hats by my 40th birthday. Boy hats with skulls and crossbones and girl hats with flowers on them. All colors and all sizes.

It isn't much on my part. I can't take all the pain away from Maddie and her family. But maybe I can help some other little girl or boy feel better about going out in public when their illness has taken part of them away.

So, thank you, Uncle Rock, Aunt Sue and your whole family! Thank you, Lisa! Thanks for being shining examples to me and my family. Thank you for showing us what it is to be strong when life is hard. Thank you for inspiring those that know you to be better people because they know you.

And thank you, Maddie! Thanks for teaching me that, "When life gives you lemons, make grape juice and leave them wondering how you did it!"