Friday, April 9, 2010

Last Time

I did something today that, I'm so happy, will be the last time I will ever have to do again. Change the bag. So long to the Yeti and the bag. You served me well, except for the first few frustrating weeks. Good riddance to your untimely dumping and noisy out burst.

It's been an adventure. Not the one I was hoping for but I don't think that I would've learned as much as I did if I had gone on a cruise to Alaska, or walked on the Great Wall in China, or swam with the dolphins in Key West. Although, I'm looking forward to doing all those things one day.

No, this adventure taught me many things about myself, life, blessings, love, and suffering for a good cause, and faith. I am stronger than I thought I was. I've been blessed with wonderful, supportive, and kind family and friends. On the top of that list is my husband who made me laugh when I was crying and who encouraged me to hang in there. You were right. I really was okay. And everything worked out. And my mother-in-law, we have dropped the in law. She's been a mother to me. I've so needed that too.

Here are a few things I've learned that helps get one through the very toughest of times.
  1. Pray out loud

  2. Deep breathing, at least 5 of them in a row {thanks to Kristen for teaching me that little trick}

  3. priesthood blessings

  4. finding something to be grateful for

  5. sudoku

  6. housekeepers

  7. writing thank you notes

  8. laughter really is the best medicine

Those are just a few things on a long, long list.

I'll be back next week, new and improved. And on a new adventure.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cookies. Cookies. Who gets the Cookies?

Thanks again for playing Where in Redlands and Beyond. You've helped to make our spring break fun.

Here are the answers you've all been patiently waiting for:

#1 Ford Park

Day #2 Gardens at the University of Redlands


#4 Crafton Hills Conservancy

#5 Santa Fe Redlands Train Depot

Green Valley Produce, Yucaipa



#9 Pinkberry, Victoria Gardens

#10 Mill Creek

#11 Jennifer Jensen's Chicken Coop & Citrus Grove
{I'll be getting fresh eggs from Jennifer this {Easter} weekend for hollandaise sauce and custard for the banana cream pie and fresh oranges for yummy orange rolls}
and the winner is.....
The Poulsens
I'll call you and make plans for bringing over the cookies.
There was a three way tie for second place: Gina, Anne, & Megan. We'll probably play this again this summer. Hope you'll join us again. Thanks everybody!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Visiting the Neighbors

Day #11 {Oh, Henry!} That's this peacock's name. Remember I said that we would visit some well known and not so well known spots in Redlands and beyond. This is probably a not so well known spot, but we had to bring you along for the ride.

When I heard that they had baby chicks I knew that we had to stop for a visit. My camera battery died so I only took a few pictures. I didn't get a shot of the baby chicks. They were so sweet too. This place belongs to the Martha Stewart of ........, I almost said where. More about this amazing person when we give all the answers tomorrow.

I guess this is the last day for the contest.
The last real day of Spring Break.
We're so sad that it's come to an end already.
But we had a lot of fun in our adventures of Redlands and beyond.
We still have so many places to go.
We'll save them for next time.
Thanks for playing along!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spring or Summer?

Day #10 {Digging through the archives} Okay, this isn't what we did today.
The girls went shopping to a far away outlet mall and we didn't take pictures. So we went digging through our past photos and this was another fun day we had.

Where to cool off on a hot summer's day?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Indoors Today

Day #9
{taking cover indoors from the wind} It was another treat day, but no dilly bars this time. Something much, much better.

Have you've been here?
Let's all go together.
Call us...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

In Good Company

Day #8 Another Day at the Park. I know. It's blurry, but I love it. Addie took it and she focused on the grass, so the grass isn't blurry. Besides, if we post one of the other pictures we took, it will give our spot away. Just too many clues.

We're going to have to excuse a few people from guessing this time around. Cheryl, Kate, & Amy. Kate's new in town so I knew she didn't have a chance with this location. We had to invite her and little cutie, Paul, to join us. Then we invited the cousins too. We haven't seen them the whole spring break. Then I was talking to Amy about visiting teaching and had to invite her along. Does that count as visiting teaching? I thought so. Next, I talked to Lisa and before I knew it I was inviting her and she invited Lindsey. Lots of children running around. Only a few got hurt. I've never seen a goose egg that big a child's forehead before. Poor Peter. They went home dizzy from all the fun.

{photo by: Meagan}

Monday, March 22, 2010

Always Searching

Day #7 {Meagan & her ipod} I guess this spring break adventure isn't exciting enough to capture her attention. So where ever we go she searches on her ipod touch for wi-fi.

And she found it here.
You guys are amazing and so are your guesses. Redlands and beyond would be proud. So, we're going to try to make the photo spot of the day more difficult. But I have a feeling that we won't be able to shake you. Let's see.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Orange Blossoms in the Air

Day #6: The only soda worth getting.
Stewart's orange cream soda. It's so good.

But where do you find it?
I used to get it at Loma Linda Hospital in the cafeteria.
And here too.
Just a little note on who's winning so far.
Rach, Purcell's Party, and Gina are only one behind. Let's do six more days and see who gets the plate of cookies.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Going Places...

Day #5 {Once upon a time} This must've been a bustling place many years ago. I heard it used to be the place where the farmer's went to market.

I'm always giving out too many clues.

I'm sure you all know where this is.

But, have you ever taken your children there

to explore and walk the line?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Hills are Alive...

Day #4: {Could this be Ireland?} Not. The blue sky gives us away.

*note to those playing along that haven't been able to leave comments because you don't have a google account. I fixed that little problem. So rewrite those comments and get caught up. Just remember to leave your name in the comment. Otherwise, it will say anonymous and I won't know who to take the plate of cookies to.

Where or where in Redlands and beyond could this be?
Would you like your husband to take
your little children and big ones too
on a nice hike when he gets home from work?
This is a perfect one to send them on.
I love day light savings time.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Some Where in Redlands

Day #3 {Rolling down the hill}

maybe you didn't know it had a hill, but Peter found one.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Quite Spot

Day #2

{a place for reflecting & relaxing}except when you have Peter & Andrew running around close by.

This one might be a hard one so make your best guess.

After reviewing a few of your comments we took pity on you and decided to revise the picture.

One with a few clues.

Go ahead and make a second guess if you need.
photo taken by: Meagan

Monday, March 15, 2010

Let the Game Begin!

The game is on. But first we need to go over the rules. Maybe there's just one rule. At the end of spring break will be when we divulge the places of the daily photo spot, just in case we have some late comers. And I hope we do. Wow. What a pleasant surprise to see that we have 6 or 7 interested players. We might have more fun doing this than you. We'll see.

Thanks for playing along. Oh, since the first photo was only a teaser than we feel we should tell you where in Redlands we took that photo. And a few of you were close, but only one person actually wrote the correct location. Heather Case. It was taken at the entrance gate to Kimberly Crest. Way to go Heather! Good eye.

Day #1: {Dilly Bar Day} We're going to start off with a very familiar spot. This is an easy one.

What will we be eating tomorrow?

I mean, where will we be tomorrow?

Remember spread the word.

The more players the merrier...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

For the Fun of it

Looking for some family fun? Good. We're taking on a project for Spring break and thought you'd all like to join in on the fun. Every day we're going to a well known or not so well known spot in infamous Redlands and beyond and take photos. If you think you know the photo spot of the day or want to make a guess leave a comment. At the end of Spring break who ever has correctly guessed the most spots will receive a handsome yummy reward; a plate of the Hallen's Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies. So spread the word. Let the contest begin...
Monday, March 15th

Here's a teaser. {photo by Addie}
Guess where in Redlands or beyond.
Do you know this spot?
I think you do.

Is there anybody out there who wants to play???

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Favorite Spot

I was reading in my new favorite spot this morning... Wait. I have to say something about my new favorite spot. I don't know why it's taken me so long to figure this out but I'm so glad that I did. I moved a comfy chair in my bedroom, on my side of the bed, with a lamp over head next to my nightstand with a stack of books and the current Ensign piled nicely on top and a window over my shoulder that lets in the warm morning sun. Doesn't that sound so perfect? I want to go to there right now.

I love my new morning routine. I've always gotten out of bed when John awakes to get ready for work. I've always ironed his clothes that he's going to wear to work that day. That's actually when I wake up. I know. It's so 50's. But I love to do it. I like to see my husband in nice, pressed clothes. I get myself ready for the day. Hang up or put away clothes and straighten up the bathroom and occasionally make my bed. Then I leave my room for the rest of the day. And I always have a hard time finding time to read my scriptures or the Ensign.

For some reason having my new spot makes it easy for me to read my scriptures and a little something from the Ensign and a "Did you think to pray" moment. So nice.

And this morning I read a short message about saying thank you.
Here's a quote, a glimpse of what I read: "Think of the things you are grateful for,” the speaker said. “Think of the people who have taught you, encouraged you, loved you, and made a positive difference in your life.” Then he said: “Now think back. Have you told them you are grateful for them and why? That is something we each can and should do. Tell them in person, by phone, in a note, or in a letter. We can start today. Let’s do it!”

I've already written lots of thank you notes these past few months to every person that's helped me and my family. There's been dozens. Many times a thank you note feels so inadequate in expressing my gratitude. I wish I could give everybody something like flowers to show how they brightened up our days. That's a good idea. I could do that.

I can't help myself. I'm going to have to make a list. I love making to do lists. If you need help or instruction on How to make a list, this will help you. This was a long list and most of it is checked off. My favorite: what to do a rainy day list . I don't always get everything checked off but if I write it here than I know I'll be diligent.

  1. Brother & Sister Kempton. {my long time best friend's parents}
  2. Dr. Muskett {Peter's peditrican that found the tumor}
  3. Dr. Horvath & Dr. Haigiat { Peter's oncologist}
  4. Dr. Sedorack {Peter's surgeon}
  5. Phyllis {ileostomy nurse}
  6. Brother Evans {a friend & doctor in the 4th ward}
  7. Dr. Nugyen {my surgeon}
  8. Doug & Kathy {my substitutes}

I better add stationary to my favorite spot.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Quote of the Day

The quote of the day was by Andrew today. I over heard him saying to Peter, "Peter, you're not the king of the house. Dad is. No Mom is. Mom you're the king of the house."

I have high hopes for him. He's going to have life figured out early. Now if I could just get him to put away his shoes...

Friday, March 5, 2010

A New Adventure

Something that my ileostomy nurse, Phyllis, said to me in my hospital room on that dreadful day when I was struggling to cope with Yeti, has stuck with me every day since. The weight and overwhelming realization that my life was never going to be the same, or at least the part that dealt with my bathroom needs was greatly altered. {*note to unassuming reading: this is going to contain some potty talk.} Going to the bathroom used to be so simple. I never appreciated the simplicity of eating whatever I wanted nor my body's automatic digestive process ending with sitting on the toilet, wiping, and flushing, not even having to look at the output in the bowl. Life was so simple.

Phyllis had finished instructing me about "the bag". I listened and acted interested but all I wanted to do was close my eyes and not wake up again or wake up to find that it was just a horrible night mare. So I closed my eyes but when I opened them I was still in a place that I wasn't excited about and the tears came. Phyllis was surprised. She thought she did something to hurt me. Finally, all I could say was that I was having a hard time mentally dealing with the bag. She was so funny and said, "oh, you're having a moment."

With great care, wisdom, and compassion she explained exactly the feelings I was experiencing, which made me cry more. Then came the pep talk. She explained that we're all on this amazing experience, life. But I'm on a new adventure. That's all it is. An adventure. It's not the one I wanted or asked for. But it's the one I've been given and it's still an adventure. And it'll be what I make of it. And she said a few more things about other people's adventures. But my mind stood still on the thought that I love adventures.

I grew up with three brothers and an adventurous father. He took us out all over the Arizona deserts and mountains to explore, climb, and discover. I had many great adventures. I remember once we were near the Superstition Mountains north of Apache Junction for the day riding our motor cycles. Us kids had one little motor cycle to share between us so while we waited our turn we explored. I was always hopeful that I would discovery a new cave or sight that nobody had known about. That day I actually came across an old abandoned dug out cabin or some kind of dwelling. Maybe it belonged to the Lost Dutchman. It was exciting.

What a blessing Phyllis and her talk of adventures has been to me. And now while I look out my windows and see all the green hills and snow capped mountains I can't wait to climb to their tops.
For another {uplifting} story about mountains click on this. I loved what was said about the difficult climbs. “To appreciate the height, you must experience the bottom,” he says. “You can’t appreciate the end without understanding the process.”

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What Have I Done for Someone Today?

I'm able to go to church now since my incision is almost healed and it doesn't hurt to sit up. I go just to Sacrament Meeting for now. The talks were wonderful. I especially loved Kim's inspiring talk about Pres. Monson's talk, What Have I Done for Someone Today? It gave me a lot to think about. I realized that I've been missing this in my life this past month. I've been recovering from surgery and haven't done much for others. Family and friends are serving me. Every day I get a call, a letter, an email, a package, lunch, dinner, flowers, house keepers {thanks D.A.}or a visit from one of my friends or ward family. It's really brightened up my days. I know it's one of the reasons I'm doing so well. I feel so loved. How can I be down or feel sorry for myself or situation when so many care about me and do so much for me? I can't. I felt a resolve to find someone to serve or do more for my family.

But after Sacrament meeting I headed to the grocery store. Yes, you heard me right. I was going to the store on the Sabbath. I know. I felt terrible about this. I can't even remember the last time I have been to the store on the Sabbath. A long time. And I can't believe that I'm actually writing this for my posterity to read 100 years from. I kept hoping that somebody out of the blue, possibly following a prompting, would call me and ask me if I needed croissant roll dough so I wouldn't have to break the Sabbath {you know? #4 of the 10 commandments}and go to the store to purchase the most important ingredient for this most delicious main dish. It's the one thing I forgot to get on my Saturday night run to Stater's. I'm making my family's favorite: Chicken Pillows {recipe to follow if you read this long post, it's like a little reward for enduring to the end} So in the store I went in my pink skirt and pink flats, looking really churchy. I told myself that I was only going in for the one item. But as I stood in line with my croissants roll dough I noticed that the candy bars were on sale, 2 for $1. And I felt prompted to get two. Yes, prompted!

There was just one person in line in front of me. It was an older woman who looked very stiff and down. I couldn't help over hearing part of their conversation. It sounded sad. So when the woman left with her groceries I asked the checker what was wrong. She and the bagger told me that when they wished her a Happy Valentine's Day, she commented that she's all alone. Her husband died last year and her son joined the army and is stationed in Afghanistan. Then the checker said the woman started to cry. Nobody gave her a hug or offered her any kind words. They just froze and took pity on her with no words of comfort. Poor lady.

As I walked out to my car I could see her pushing her cart to her car and wiping her tears. So I pulled out the candy bars {thankful for promptings} and went over to the woman and said that I was behind her in line and I gave her the candy bar and wished her a Happy Valentine's Day. She started to cry and gave me a hug. I started to cry. Not just for this woman but for being able to go to church and learn the things that Heavenly Father intends for us to know so that we can make it back to Him someday and to help others along the way.

So many have helped me in my time of need, especially this past month. Through their kind actions and loving words I have felt Heavenly Father's love for me and that has made all the difference.

We talked for some time in the parking lot. I learned a lot about Charlotte. I'm glad I had something to give her, chocolate, a hug, and a listening ear. In return I felt a little closer to my Savior.

Now, here's the recipe. Let me know if you try it.

Ricks College Chicken Pillows
4 – 6 cooked chicken breast
1 roll of refrigerated croissant dough rolls
Italian breadcrumbs
Dried or fresh herbs
Fresh garlic or garlic salt
8 oz cream cheese
1-cup sour cream
½ cup butter

First boil the chicken breast in little water for 20 minutes, cool, then chop up, set aside. In a bowl mix cream cheese, sour cream, chopped parsley or other herbs like thyme, press fresh garlic or sprinkle some garlic salt to taste, salt & pepper to taste, and ¼ of a cup of any cheese like cheddar, mozzarella, Parmesan. Mix in chicken. Roll out croissant dough one triangle at a time on a lightly floured surface until thin and big. Place spoonful of chicken in center of dough. Fold up, seal with water. Dip pillow in melted butter then in Italian breadcrumbs. Bake in oven at 350 for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Introducing....The Yeti

My colon surgery was on a Friday. I finally woke up at 9pm that night crying in pain. Then the next few days I pushed a lovely button intermittently day and nights to follow and in between twilight sleep I would gaze up at the t.v. that was stationed on the National Geographic channel. It was a weekend marathon special about the Himalayans ever allusive creature, the Yeti. It caught my carefree attention. And after three days of watching bits and pieces of the show where the scientist were trying to prove the true existence of this legend, I began to hear the yeti moaning from the vent in my hospital, or was it the patient in the next room over??? I'll never know.

Then I was visited by special ilestomy nurse, Phyllis. She came in my room and taught me all about my new feature and accessory the stoma and the bag. The ideal stoma protrudes out about a half inch and the opening is right in the middle like a bulls eye. But to my disappointment I was not to be blessed with the perfect stoma or opening. As Phyllis examined the stoma she couldn't even find the opening at first. I knew it had to have an opening because stuff was coming out and dumping into the bag. "There it is tuck way low and aiming down. That's okay. We'll make it work. It's just a little shy one."

Then she told me that people name there stomas and I ought to think of a name for mine. One lady named hers Bling. She explained that the stoma gets kind of noisy at times. It's like having a whoopee cushion in my belly for people five feet around all to hear. The sounds only a six year boy laughs out loud about.

I sent John home for the night and I lay in my bed in the dark waiting for my sleeping medicine to kick in and I heard the sounds again. The yeti was calling.

When Phyllis came back the next day to check on me I could officially introduce her to my stoma, the Yeti, because it's a shy one that Yeti. It's true! The Yeti lives. And if you're lucky you might hear it if you come and visit me.

"...we really don't know what we believe or believe in until we're tested...Whether we like it or not our trials and struggles can tend to accelerate our push toward godliness." Sheri Dew, If Life were Easy it wouldn't be Hard

Friday, February 5, 2010


"All of us have problems. We face them every day. How grateful I am that we have difficult things to wrestle with. They keep us young, if that is possible. They keep us alive. They keep us going. They keep us humble. They pull us down to our knees to ask the God of heaven for help in solving them. Be grateful for your problems, and know that somehow there will come a solution." Pres. Hinckley quoted in Sheri Dew's book, If Life were easy it wouldn't be hard.

I can't believe it's been three weeks today since my surgery. I now have a bionic colon, or so my sister-in-law, Kristen says. It's not going to be functioning until the next surgery in April though. For now, I have something else... I'm amazed at the medical minds, our miraculous bodies, and our brilliant creator. For now I have an ileostomy. Click if you want to be amazed or bewildered. But don't click and then feel sorry for me. I did enough of that on my own. Last week while I was begrudgingly taking care of matters in the bathroom with it I finally straighten myself out and I refuse to feel like a freak any longer.

Why did I feel like a freak? Because I inherited F.A.P. and had hundreds of precancerous polyps in my colon, that's the big intestine. My gastro doc adamantly insisted that it needed to be taken out and thrown away. All 5 pounds and 4 feet of it. Meagan, the smart oldest child, asked, "Don't you need your colon?" A colon is nice to have, but apparently one can get through life without one. So temporarily, an ileostomy takes over the function of the bottom. And this is the really cool part. The stool that goes into the ileostomy bag from the small intestine doesn't smell like poop because when it goes into the colon {I don't have one of those anymore} is when it gets stinky because of the bacteria in the colon. So, I can say that my poop doesn't smell. Can you say that? I didn't think so. Who should feel sorry for whom?

While I lay for 6 days in my tiny hospital room I had a lot of tv time. Too much. I saw the coverage of the Haiti earthquake. Horrific and heartbreaking. I couldn't bear to watch it any longer. People suffering in every way possible. The hardest part was seeing critically injured people in pain with no relief of medicine. And I lay in my bed with a button in hand to push every ten minutes if my pain was too much to bear. So high as a kite I lie and prayed for the Haitians. Then my kite came down. I fell hard. Drugs were a blessing to me when I was in so much pain but coming off of them was emotional damning. And after a few days of that emotional roller coaster I felt like I had been pulled out of the Haiti earthquake rubble myself.

I have many to thank for rescuing me: understanding skilled nurses, loving husband, kind friends who visited and call daily, supportive and capable mother and father in law, sister's n law, thoughtful brothers and Arizona family, hundreds of acts of kindness from ward family, and home with my children.

There's no place like home.