Saturday, January 31, 2009

Creating Convenience

Years ago I read Good Morning Merry Sunshine, by Chicago Tribune columnist Bob Greene. It was a journal of their daughter’s first year of life. I loved the book and thought it was a “should read” for every first-time father. Greene described himself as fastidious in both his dress and housekeeping. The coffee table (pre-baby) was always spotless—a flower arrangement and three magazines fanned out at 2” intervals. After the baby, the coffee table was a mass of diapers, nursing pads, pacifiers, burp cloths, Desitin, water glasses, and baby magazines. His suits regularly had spit-up on the shoulder and his ties had wiped everything from runny noses to bottoms. And he hardly even noticed.

I certainly would not use the word “fastidious” to describe myself, but I do like clean surfaces and my night stand would normally have a lamp, a clock radio, a phone and a reading book. We’ve rearranged a few things for convenience sake. And yes, we’re still noticing it!

Friday, January 30, 2009

TP Chimes In

Hi All,

This is Travis. I'm here in Chicago with Mom and Dad and wanted to give a quick update on Mom and the activities of the last couple days.

Mom continues to do great. She had her first therapy session yesterday. She met with an occupational therapist, a physical therapist and a case worker. The visit lasted about 2 hours. This first visit consisted of reviewing Mom's medical history and doing an evaluation. The occupational therapist had her do a few exercises to evaluate her baseline function. These were timed exercises comparing the dexterity of the right and left hand. One tested her ability to put small pegs into holes on a board and then remove them. The other had small circles with letters and numbers on a piece of paper similar to a dot-to-dot. She timed mom connecting the circles with a pencil. She finished by giving Mom a few exercises to work on at home to improve her coordination.

The physical therapist also did an evaluation focused on strength and coordination of the upper and lower extremities as well as assessing Mom's gait. We were impressed with her and think she will do a good job.

Overall there was not too much heavy duty therapy, but that will start at her next session on Tuesday. My take home message from therapy was that Mom is strong but needs to work to regain her coordination. Mom's take home message was summed up by "the 3 nos". 1) No visits to the gym...yet. 2) No driving...yet. 3) No walking without a cane...for now. Each of these were a bit of a bummer, but we hope that these will all be short lived annoyances.

Today we went to see Mom's internist. This visit was pretty uneventful, but allowed us to ask a few additional questions. After leaving the doctors office we went on the most important mission of the day to find Mom a cane. Not just any cane, but one suitable for Mom. This was not an easy task. What do you think of our choice?

FYI: We have decided to have a family fast for Mom this Sunday. We know there are many other people in need of health, spiritual strength and comfort; but would like to invite any of you to join us if you would like. Our hope is that Mom will have no permanent disability and no further stroke.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I used to always hope that I would die instantly or in my sleep. Then I heard about a man who felt the same way. He got cancer and suffered a long and painful death. Before he died he expressed his great gratitude for the way things had turned out and said that if he had died suddenly he would never have known how much people cared about him.

First of all, I’m not going to die, but had I not had this event, I would never have experienced this amazing outpouring of love and concern. I have heard from so many people who I didn’t even know read my blog. I have received phone calls and emails, flowers and goodies. Your faith and prayers, your expressions of love and concern have been such a support and comfort to me. I wish there were better words than Thank You to express my feelings, but until the Adamic language is restored I guess they will have to do.

And speaking of support, could anyone be blessed with a more supportive family than I have? When they finally released me from the hospital Saturday evening, Quinn came up from Champaign to help get us through Sunday. After assessing the situation, the kids counseled together and, despite our protests, came up with a plan. Quinn stayed until today. He is replaced by Travis, who has tried to board a plane four different times today (Columbus has truly been slammed by a huge storm that has shut down everything). He will stay until Saturday. Kristin will arrive on Sunday. By the time she leaves I hope I will be able to take care of myself. But what an extraordinary experience to spend this one-on-one time with them. And I am so aware that they are not making the sacrifices alone. Spouses are staying at home with full responsibility for children and everything that goes with it, and some of their circumstances make this a significant challenge. I’m so grateful to them.

Quinn has served his little fingers to the bone, cleaning, cooking, laundry, blogging, errands, phone calls. Getting back to the lab will be a vacation for him. Travis will be here to take me to my first physical therapy appointment and to my follow-up appointment with the internist. It will be so good to have his medical expertise and perspective. I certainly have much to bless my life. I am grateful

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bottoming Out

I always assumed that when a stoke occurred the full impact of the consequences was delivered immediately. When I walked into Central DuPage Hospital on Thursday evening they immediately suggested the possibility of a stroke, but my symptoms were so minimal that I still was confident that I could be at the gym the next morning. Disappointingly, in my case each morning for the next three days I awoke to discover that my capacities were further diminished and although the doctors reassured me that I had every reason to be optimistic, it is hard to be confident of recovery when each day your condition seems worse.

In the wee hours of the morning on Saturday, I asked a nurse if she would help me go for a short walk to relieve some of the aches and pains of lying in bed. We made a quick circle around the nurses station and returned to the room. I sat in a chair in the darkness and contemplated for the first time the reality of my situation. My left hand didn’t work. When I tried to reach for something, I realized I couldn’t control the direction that my hand went, and when something was placed in my left hand I regularly realized that although I thought I was holding it, it had fallen. When I stood on my feet, my left knee sagged. I constantly had to straighten my left leg. I never realized how necessary two feet are in maintaining balance. When I would try to move my left foot it often wouldn’t move, but my body had already started forward motion. I was left to try to compensate by moving my right foot back and forth in ways I’d never tried before. This resulted in a lot of banging against walls and grabbing for furniture to steady myself.

Yesterday was a good day for me. The first time I stood on my feet, I felt somehow different—more stable, more confident, less tipsy. Was my foot dragging less? I wanted to think so, but wasn’t sure if I was making it up. Later in the day my son called to say that his doctor colleague told him that in cases where the clot occurs where mine had, a very few patients experience swelling that causes their symptoms to become increasingly worse. This should only last 72 hours and then things should begin to improve. Yesterday was 72 hours for me and I’m hopeful that I have bottomed out and that I am on the way up. Life is good.
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Sunday, January 25, 2009

When the Unexpected Occurs

Hello blogging friends:

I am grateful to Quinn for typing this blog for me.  My world as I have known it was rocked dramatically on Thursday evening when I suffered a stroke.  Fortunately, it was a small one and my doctors are optimistic that I will have a full recovery.  But for today, I am seeing my world very differently.  I am home from the hospital and grateful that my speech has not been affected, nor my mind (any problems I had with my mind were pre-existing); my biggest problems are motor skills.  I am not able to walk without assistance and my left hand functions much like a fish tied to a stick.  We are in the process of assessing what I can and can’t do for myself.

When the physical therapist came to see me at the hospital, she brought a shopping list of available equipment for handicapped—wonderful things like hand rails for the shower and toilet, shower chairs, and toilet lifts.  I nearly laughed out loud at the thought that I would ever use something like that.  However, when I carefully considered how I was going to take a shower this morning, guess who ended up putting on his boots, trudging through the snow to the shed and retrieving a plastic patio chair.  Some of the information they brought me to read indicated that two of the symptoms of stroke patients are uncontrollable laughter and crying.  I laughed a little bit, but I cried a lot as I flailed around trying to shampoo my hair.

I have given some thought as to whether or not I should try to continue blogging. I think it might be therapeutic and also be helpful in chronicling my progress.  One of the things I can’t do is type, but I will post whenever I can enlist someone to help me.

In the meantime when you hop out of bed tomorrow, be grateful that no one has to be there to assist you, that you can hold your own hair blower, flush the toilet, and put on your own pants.  I had never noticed how sweet it was to be able to do those things.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

That Magical 32

Today our temperature is supposed to creep past that magical 32 degrees Fahrenheit all the way to 34. I will be grateful for any speck of ice and snow that might possibly melt from our driveway before the temperature plunges again tomorrow. Where was all this snow during the holidays when we could have taken the grand kids sledding, played Fox and Geese, built snow forts and snowmen?!

When I was 11 or 12, my dad purchased some Army Surplus skis (which were wooden and about 20 feet long) and introduced me to skiing. We drove up Cedar Canyon on treacherous roads to the College Cabin near Woods Ranch. They had set up a short tow rope which hauled us up to the top of the hill. It was about a 60 second descent, snow-plowing all the way. That's about as proficient as I ever got. Some of my children enjoy skiing, as do some of my grandchildren. Adam especially loves it and actually attends a ski school twice a week. His grandma Judy can hardly breathe when she watches this eleven-year-old daredevil ski.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Today was a politically historic day for our country. My father was a Democrat, and in fact, ran for office several times on the Democratic ticket. Obviously, that shaped much of my early political thought. I have to remind myself that time has changed many things. I understand that at one time all Mormons were Republican until our church leaders said that it was essential for our country to have a two-party system. They then divided the room in half. One side was to be Democrat. The other side was to be Republican. I sometimes wonder how my father would feel about our country’s politics if he were still living.

I was a teenager when Kennedy was elected President. Much about Obama’s success has reminded me of the fascination and excitement I felt about the Kennedy’s political acclaim. In much the same way, I think our country is quite captivated by the Obamas. Through the years my political views have become conservative. I did not vote for Obama. But, I am trying to have an open mind and I truly hope that he will be able to accomplish some good things. Beginning tomorrow, I will be paying close attention to his actions and his decisions.

At the close of this day, and after all that I have seen and heard others say about the inauguration, there is one thing that stands out in my mind, and that is the grace and dignity with which the Bushes said goodbye. Whatever you may think of George W. Bush, and however you may feel about the decisions he has made, let me make it clear that I am happy he was our president. I am grateful for the good things he accomplished. I appreciate the “class” and good taste they exhibited in every instance. The Bush administration is behind us, but there are still a lot of mean-spirited people in our country. I’m interested to see who they will be complaining about tomorrow. To the democrats, it’s all yours. You will have no one to blame but yourselves.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Welcome, Snowy

Okay, I do realize that it is the middle of January and no one's really thinking about Christmas these days, except me. Being out of town, I never really had a chance to blog about the holidays and I have too many precious memories to just act like it never happened. I thought the least I could do would be to post a few pictures.
Uncle Rob joined us in California. Naturally, he was everyone's "favorite." He always seemed to have the energy and time to play with the kids, help them with projects, solve their problems and salve their feelings.

Our Christmas Eve Shepherds dinner.

Duffy-boating at Newport Beach.

In case you're wondering what this cage is, it is a rabbit hutch. Our cousins live about an hour away from Heidi and Brent, and when we go to California we love to get together with them. They raise rabbits, and our grandkids don't want to do anything while we're there but play with the rabbits. Bruiser had just had a new bunny about two weeks before we went to see them. Unbeknownst to the kids, Heidi and Brent had agreed to take the bunny as a Christmas gift for their kids, but the bunny had to be a few weeks older before it could leave its mother. The kids thought the bunny was to die for and when they asked if they could have it, Debi explained that they already had a home for the bunny, but that they could help name it. After much discussion and voting they finally settled on "Snowy". You can't believe the delight when the kids discovered the rabbit hutch on Christmas morning and learned that Snowy would be theirs as soon as he was old enough to leave home. What do you think, will this bunny be loved?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Safely Home

For Christmas, Quinn gave Tiffany tickets to see "Wicked". They came up last night for the show. Wouldn't you know it would be the coldest night in Chicago since 1996. Brrrr!! It makes me nervous to have children out in that kind of weather, especially in an older car that is not completely dependable. Fortunately, over the holidays Quinn and Randy installed a new heater fan so the inside of the car was warm. Just got the "we're home" call.

Look at our little Clayton. He's only 10 weeks old and already he weighs 16 pounds. This picture was taken the day he was blessed. Since Travis and Britt were here too, Quinn and Tiffany kindly agreed to bless him here in our home ward. It was fun for Randy and me to babysit the kids last night. We don't have very many opportunities to have them all to ourselves. Come back soon!
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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Are We Prepared?

Last night was our ward cannery night. Randy and I had ordered a few things we were running low on. We had about 20 people working and were able to can almost 500 #10 cans of everything from powdered milk to apple slices to potato pearls to refried beans. We like Stephen's hot chocolate mix, but used the last drop at Christmas time. We can't get it around here, so we were grateful to get 30 pounds of cocoa mix for our storage. That should last us for a few weeks. We also got 30 pounds of fruit drink mix. If we ever have to live off of our food storage, I'm thinking we'll be glad to have something besides water to drink. We feel blessed to have a bishop's storehouse so close to us and to be able to spend an evening with people we love helping each other become better prepared. We're now $150 closer to being able to care for ourselves in an emergency.
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Boxcar Children of 1951

Speaking of sisters (yesterday’s post), I’ve been thinking about my own sisters. I was second youngest in a family with five girls. The summer that I turned eight years old we had a unique experience. My oldest brother, Charles, died when I was five years old. My parents had always wanted to take the family on an extended vacation, but Charles’ health was always a problem. After he passed away, they saved up to buy a new car and then took the remaining eight of us to Oregon for a summer adventure.

My uncle was part-owner in a fruit company. Our family joined the other migrant pickers who worked for Webster Orchards. We lived in this little two-bedroom “shack”, which we called “the cabin.” It was set on a hill that was surrounded by fruit orchards. All five girls shared the same bedroom. The two oldest girls shared one double bed. The three of us “little girls” shared the other double bed. We slept side-ways because it gave us a little more room. Mother spent the first three days scrubbing the cabin from top to bottom with Lysol disinfectant. She cooked on a wood-burning stove. There was a huge blackberry patch at the foot of the hill, and that doggone wood-burning stove (with a little help from mother) baked the most delicious blackberry pies you’ve ever tasted.

We “little girls” weren’t old enough to pick fruit. When we awakened in the morning the others were “long gone.” Looking back, I wonder if mother wasn’t a little worried about leaving an eleven-year-old, an eight-year-old, and a five-year-old alone all day long with no phone and no way to get in touch with our parents (who roamed from orchard to orchard depending on where the fruit was ready to pick). There was a family that lived in a house on the other side of the orchard. I suppose that is where we would have gone in case of an emergency, but pretty much it was the three of us on our own for the day. There was always a pot of cracked wheat cereal waiting for us on the stove. By the time we woke up it was a cold solid block of “mush.” Since that didn’t appeal to us, we usually ate a can of applesauce or some pineapple rings. The rest of the day we ran through the orchards, picked blackberries, swung on the huge tree swing daddy had hung, made plans for a new club, wrote notes to ourselves from imaginary playmates which we hid in tree trunks or under stones. When we “accidentally” stumbled onto one of these notes we read it over and over and diligently tried to persuade each other that there were truly secret playmates watching us from behind this or that cherry tree.

By today’s standards, DCFS would probably have taken us away and put us into protective custody. We never worried for a minute. We were the Three Musketeers. We were never afraid, never had an accident, never were bored, never made a mess, never lacked for ideas about how to use our time, and never complained about being left alone. I occasionally see a fruit box at a grocery store from Webster Orchards. It’s always a reminder of an idyllic summer for three little sisters.
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Tuesday, January 13, 2009


My daughter sent this picture to me yesterday. During our Christmas visit in California, Randy and I got to be Christmas Elves to assist with a number of home-made gifts. We cut, painted, glued and sanded these SISTERS boards. It was a fun project and since it didn't get hung until after we had returned home we were especially happy to see how it turned out. That's the room we always stay in when we visit so we'll get to enjoy it each time we go.

Monday, January 12, 2009


It’s Monday. I really love Mondays. For one thing, they come right after Sundays, which have the potential to be awesome days for me, depending on whether I get to teach my gospel doctrine lesson that day (a calling which I share with another teacher). When you only teach every other week it allows a lot of time to read and think about the topic, and you know the old saying that there is no greater burden than an undelivered sermon—it’s also true for Sunday School lessons. Yesterday I taught, and today I feel “unburdened!” But by tomorrow I will have read my next lesson and begun to think about it.

Here’s how preparing a lesson goes for me. Monday is my free day. Then I read the reading block and the lesson. Invariably I think, “How in the world am I going to turn that into a lesson that is interesting and engaging! Over the next few days I read the material again and again and begin considering the key concepts covered. I have a whole library full of commentaries, institute manuals, old lessons I’ve taught over the years, my personal filing system which houses things I’ve collected for forty years, and a few internet sources I look at. Over a period of days, thoughts come into my mind, or something in an article I read jumps out at me, or I happen to think of an experience I had years ago. The Lord is so good, and as I pray for direction and inspiration in my preparation I can always recognize his hand in the way things turn out. I love this calling!