Life is wonderful and difficult... and I am grateful!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Most Inspiring Student

"Elizabeth is inspirational, kind, hard working, and determined. Lizzie has the grace and beauty of a butterfly and the fierce determination of a warrior" (or "hornet", if you read the Press Telegram).
This was the description written about Elizabeth, published in the papers. I think they got it right : )

Elizabeth' gift from us was this necklace...a butterfly, of course. Her first diamonds. Sounds crazy, but I can't tell you how great of a sale it was and so it was totally not as expensive as it sounds. And, I am sure the diamonds should be called diamond dust. In any case, it was the perfect gift for her for this occasion and she was so happy to receive it. Also, check out those nails! I took her for a manicure (she always gets a mani-pedi before surgery or a procedure, so I told her we must go and get them done for a celebration rather than in preparation for the hospital.

Liz received a luscious lei from the staff at her school. I could cry even thinking about how cared for she is by the amazing teachers, Counselor and Principal at Prisk. You can take the Education Budget and cut it all away, run a school system that thinks of test scores rather than the children's learning itself, and have a society where athletes and pop stars are held in the highest regard and teachers are simply used and, as is the case now, tossed aside. BUT, even with all of that, these educators (at least at our school and I'd imagine almost every other school out there) care for each child and respect them as people who deserve the best education no matter what situation they are forced to teach in.
Anyway, the lei was gorgeous, weighed a ton, and Liz wore it as if it was a badge of honor. Such a sweet and perfect gift.

Liz fell in love with this dress, after being told she could choose any dress she wanted.

Shaking hands with Mayor Foster and Mike Montgomery. Mr. Montgomery was raised and educated in Long Beach. He has coached basketball at Stanford and now Cal. His speech was from the heart, not scripted, and wonderful. He shared about his life here in Long Beach, stories of inspirational boys he has coached and shared his memories and stories about his friend, Coach Wooden. It was great!
Liz and Mayor Foster keep meeting....and she is offended he can't remember her name! SO funny. She first visited the Mayor's office last year with Student Council and has been at a few hospital media events with him. In her mind, she may as well be invited to the Foster Christmas dinner!

Mrs. Foster giving Elizabeth her medal. Each honoree received a plaque, a medal and two Proclamations- one from Long Beach and one from the Senate.

Elizabeth and her PROUD Papa. My sister, brother and I are pretty fantastic ( : ) ) but we have never received a Most Inspiring Award or medal...Not.Even.Travis! : )

Elizabeth's Principal and Counselor. They went out of their way to make her feel so very special.

Past teachers Mrs. Bell and Ms. Bonetati, who have continued to support Liz.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


I hesitate to blog about this, as the exchange I had with Elizabeth tonight seems so personal that I almost want to keep it private. However, I am so moved by her and more than that the ultimate point of what she has said is to bring glory to Him and a way to do this is to share.

Elizabeth and Kaitlin spent about 45 minutes reading their Bibles tonight. We are blessed with a WONDERFUL church where my kids learn about His love and life in a fun and caring environment. Tammie, I hope you read this and are once again reminded of how all of your dedication and work impacts lives. We also are so blessed to have a church family; wonderful friends who share the same beliefs we do and hold us in prayer daily. Anyway, when I sat down with the girls, they shared what they had talked about today in church. They heard the story of Lazarus. Lazarus became sick and his sisters called for Jesus. Instead of coming right away, Jesus took days to get to the town of Bethany and to Lazarus. He knew that though Lazarus would die, a miracle would happen. By the time he arrived, Lazarus was indeed dead. Jesus went to the tomb of Lazarus and prayed. When the stone was removed, Lazarus walked out, alive. Because of this miracle many people who witnessed it became believers; they put their faith in Jesus.

Elizabeth told me that she read one of the verses aloud. Because of what the verse said, I assumed that maybe her teacher assigned her the passage, knowing of Elizabeth's background. Liz said "no. My teacher asked for a volunteer, and so I just read." This is what she read: John 11:4 -When He heard this, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it"
The girls and I talked again about how we are here to glorify God. How our trials and hurts seem unfair and how we wonder why God doesn't answer our prayers more quickly or help us in the way we think He should. But that all of this has a purpose. Liz then said "Yeah and trusting He might not answer your exact prayers because He wants to see if you will still trust Him and pray to Him"
She totally gets it.

About 15 minutes later she said "This may sound weird, but I kinda want to die. I mean, I want to stay here and live, but I want to die too so that I can go to Heaven and never have my tummy hurt so much again. Do you think that sounds dumb, Mom?"
Oh, my heart. I literally felt pain and my stomach dropped in a way it never has.
BUT, through my sadness that my daughter even has to have pain in her life great enough to bring this thought, I also was struck with a HUGE sense of awe and admiration. As sure as knows the sun rises and sets, as sure as her knowledge that her family loves her, as sure as she knows her little brother will annoy her on a daily basis and her sister will giggle with her one minute and drive her crazy the next, as sure as she is that she will always be loved and taken care sure as all of this, she is sure that one day, because of her faith in Jesus, she will be in a wonderful place and she embraces it.

For those who do not believe or have never heard this story or guarantee, I know how it may shake you to hear that a child welcomes the thought going to Heaven. I know, though, that Liz does not want to die. That is not the case at all. If anyone loves living, it is our Liz, but she knows that because she believes in Jesus Christ, when she does die she will have eternal life. She knows that we all (who believe in Him) will get to go to Heaven.
I heard this as a child and as a teen, but it was not until I became an adult that I was even close to believing it with all my heart in the way Elizabeth is as a child and I know that as much as it kills me to see her suffer at times, she is His child and there is a purpose.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


I LOVE to laugh. I pray my kids will have a good sense of humor and enjoy laughing; I think they do. Walter and I laugh all the time. I will admit that even at times of struggling most in our marriage, I missed laughing with him most.

Last night my sister pushed and pushed me to join her for a sister date night. Our friend Laura and her sister (her twin! I enjoy watching her with her identical twin because they remind me of my girls and I get a glimpse of how Liz and Kate may be when they are older) went too. We saw a totally inappropriate, crude, silly, immature movie....and it made me laugh for two hours straight.

Today I have laughed.....
Jackson is dressed in his board shorts and a beanie. Why?!
Kaitlin came to me upset that Elizabeth wasn't helping with the chore of cleaning their room. "She is just dancing around, doing the "Hooky Pooky! Make her stop!" I asked her to repeat what Liz was doing (knowing full-well she meant Hokie Pokie) and again Katie said "The Hooky Pooky!" it wrong that I was dying of laughter inside and I did NOT correct her?
Liz asked me for $329, as though she was asking for a dollar. Straight faced and dead serious she asked me for it. When I asked her why she needed $329, she said "Alright, $299 will do it." I told her she would have to earn it, to which she said she would. She then asked how long it would take and when I told her that it would take a LONG time to earn that much, her response was "yeah, um that's not going to work for me."

....and I will giggle again when Walt gets home from work tonight and I repeat this all to him.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I'm Pooped!

I have been surrounded with poop so much in the last 6 weeks, I could scream! I have talked about it, examined it and taken enough samples of it to last me a lifetime.
It is true, Elizabeth has CDiff-AGAIN! Or perhaps it never really went away from her last bout in late April. Either way, the infection is there. This is what she was JUST hospitalized for. She also took a larger dose of antibiotics for a longer than normally prescribed amount of time. And still, it is there, taking residence in her poor intestines three weeks later. Grrr!!
Last Thursday I took a stool sample to the lab as is protocol. With CDiff, you take the course of antibiotic, wait a week and then take a stool sample in for testing to prove that the CDiff has cleared. Anyway, I took it in last Thursday. By Saturday, Liz started complaining of stomach pain again and saying that she thought she thought the CDiff was back. Yesterday, the nurse called to tell me that results were in and Liz is testing positive for it. So frustrating!!! Of course, Liz is her doctor's only patient to have recurring CDiff. Poor baby.
Normally, she would start on a dose of Flagyl, an antibiotic used to treat CDiff. With her last course of Flagyl, used last month to treat the CDiff it became obvious that she is allergic to it. Frustrating because the 4 other times she as had the infection, she did fine on the Flagyl. I have learned, though, that your body may not show an allergy or intolerance to a medication at the first (or second or third...) course of treatment. This is also frustrating because there are only a few drugs used to cure CDiff. She will start on Vancomycin and then go to Cholestyramine. Hopefully her body will react to the medication over the next 24-36 hours. The next step would be admitting her to start iv antibiotics. Liz's Gastroenterologist is trying hard to treat her as an Outpatient, which I appreciate. We'll see how she does...we DO NOT want to go back to the hospital!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Jackson and I think pneumonia should be called "pneumoniBLAH"

It is true, my poor little guy is sick. I am glad I took him in yesterday as I had no idea he was so sick. He'd had a cold about 10 days ago, then a fever starting about a week ago and his cough only got worse. I'd been giving him breathing treatments the whole week. Still, he has been more sick than this in the past, so I figured at the worst, he may have another sinus infection. And, in yet another move that nominates me for Mom of the Year, I boo-hoo'd him last week when he told me a handful of times that his heart hurt. Seriously! I brushed it off as heartburn, as he has been drinking a lot of orange juice. Ahh, mommy guilt is the best!
Anyway, he had two injections of an antibiotic yesterday at the doctor's office and is on antibiotics at home. We are praying his gut holds up and he does not get CDiff again. Remember, he had CDiff in January after being on antibiotics for a sinus infection. The doctor did not want to put him on an antibiotic for at least a year but we have no choice with the pneumonia. Blah! Add in my concern of Elizabeth getting sick, and I am a sanitizing freak!

I will admit that I had a good, exhausted cry last night in my car. I am so tired of doctors and the hospital and xrays. I just want a healthy household... and some sleep! Good thing Kaitlin is great and so are Walt and myself! Megan reminded me that because Liz gets sick so often with her medical issues, this just feels like a lot. I KNOW this will pass.

Here's to hoping Jackson is able to sleep at least a few hours tonight and he is better tomorrow. Pneumoniblah stinks!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Serve and be grateful


One of my favorites! We have this up in the house in several places, as I believe it and I want the kids to see the words and come to believe, too.

The song that is playing now is another favorite of mine.... "greater things have yet to come and greater things are still to be done in this city. We believe in You God."

Today, in Long Beach, many gathered to participate in Serve The City. The girls and I decided to serve alongside other members from our church at the COA. The COA provides meals, clothing and groceries to anyone at their doorstep. We spent the morning sorting (and sorting and sorting...) and hanging clothes. Others in our group (heeeyyy Nickie and Bear!) did fix-it jobs and some major deep cleaning.

It is natural for me to want to serve; that's just how I am made. I realize that my children may not naturally be driven to do that - though I see it in the girls-. Still, it is important to me that they do for others and learn that service without anything in return(other than the wonderful feeling that comes from helping others) is what we are called to do. I started with the kids early and I can see that service to others, kindness and giving without expectation has become something they easily embrace and want to make a part of their lives.

This morning's project was a huge lesson/reminder for the girls. Their walk-in closet is a disaster! I can supervise them cleaning it one weekend, and by the following Saturday, it is a mess; a heap of clothes on the floor. A constant battle between us. This morning, as they sorted through bags and boxes of used clothing and hung the pieces up for someone else they know will be grateful to get to chose and take home, I know their little (big) minds were thinking.

After serving, I asked the girls if they had any thoughts about what we had just done. Liz said she was "emotional" and Kaitlin said " I think we have a lot even thought we don't have the most like some people. We should feel lucky."
Exactly, my Kate, to whom much is given, much is required. We have (so)much so we should give much. I pray my kids will always know this and always want to live a life of service. Love your neighbors as yourself, it is as simple as that.
"It is more blessed to give than receive"- Acts 20:35

Friday, May 6, 2011

Got Cdiff?

All smiles as she gets to be back at school!!

After three long weeks, Liz went back to school today! Yay!! Miss Social got a warm welcome from her friends and was glowing as I drove away. I checked in on her at recess and she said she was feeling well enough to stay. Once school was over and I picked her up, she said she was dizzy and tired, but had a great day. Hooray!

I have been bleaching and cleaning up behind Elizabeth like a madwoman. CDiff is extremely contagious and I have been a crazy person trying to keep it from spreading. Holly once sent me a flair button (I think it was Holly. Or maybe Paul)that said "Got CDiff?" with little germ-like characters floating around. Not funny! Actually, once I get thru this latest bought of it with her, it will be very funny again. Cdiff isn't cleaned by alcohol or sanitizers. It's hot water and bleach to kill those germs!

She has been itchy for the last few days and it's only getting worse, so she'll start on an oral steroid. She is probably having a reaction to the antibiotic she has been taking for the CDiff. Luckily, today is her last dose after 14 days, so she should get some relief from the itching soon. In the meanwhile, she is making the rest of us scratch just watching her.

Liz saw her GI doc this week. He talked with me about having presented a bit of her case to other doctors at a meeting. Radiologists have always noted that Liz has sludge in her gallbladder. Though this does not cause much of her pain, it may be responsible for some of it, so she is going to start on an medication that mimics the bile acid we all have naturally in our bodies. This should help move the sludge out. Sounds yummy, doesn't it?
She'll have stool samples tested again on Monday to make sure her CDiff has cleared and also see if she has nay white cells in the stool. We'll test some more for blood as well.
From a GI standpoint, we'll just continue to monitor her. She should not have antibiotics for a LONG time, as that can cause the CDiff easily for her.

It has been a long month and I am grateful that she seems to be getting back to normal. Grateful...and scratching : )

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Day!!

Today is May Day!! I was excited to help the kids decorate paper cones and then fill them with flowers, to hang on the doorknobs of people they chose. It was fun to hear them speak of each person they'd chosen and hear them talk about how surprised they thought the recipients would be to open the door and find flowers.
The kids will never be undercover cops or the best toilet paper-ers (is that a word?) as they were so loud in their flip-flops and constant giggles. They get big points for always embracing the fun and it is a happy tradition. Yay for May (and flowers and smiles)!

The kids had fun decorating the cones and filling them with flowers. I loved that they talked about each person who they planned to receive the flowers as they were filling them.

So exciting for them to hang the cones, knock and then....

turn around and run to the car!

The three of us who were still in the car at each stop would giggle and giggle as we watched our partner run. So fun!

Jackson got a kick out of the whole thing. This is the same kid who, during our Caroling Party two years ago, would hand a person at each home we sang at a candy cane while telling them "trick or treat!" and expect candy in return. Thankfully, he is the 3rd kid and just goes with the flow during every silly thing we do.