Sunday, December 29, 2013

When Liam Died

Liam, me, and new baby Presley on June 22 of this year.

I hate starting a post that way.  The last time I did, it's when my brother was killed.  It's surreal.  It's cruel.  And I hate it.

I haven't posted anything in almost two months.  Throughout the month of November, it's because I was very busy and didn't have time for it.  Then the unthinkable happened on Saturday, November 23rd.  After that, life tasted far less sweet and it felt almost wrong to post anything mundane, as if nothing had happened.  My heart was shattered.  He wasn't even my baby, yet it hurt more than I had ever hurt before.

When Joseph died, it was horrible.  I remember it being horrible and four and a half years later I have my occasional break down and cry myself dry.  Has it been so long that I can't recall the exact pain that kept me up at night and made a grenade go off in my chest every ten minutes?  It was really horrible, I know that.  He was my baby brother and I loved him more than words can say.  But something about Liam's death was different.  Right now I can barely type because of the emotion.

It had been a very difficult week.  Liam had finished round three of high-dose chemo and developed RSV because of his weakened immune system.  It was touch and go but he was in the "best" place on earth for a sick child to be.  But then the RSV turned into pneumonia and he was a sick, sick, sick little boy.  But everyone stayed positive and despite his fevers so high they were un-registerable on the thermometer, he beat every odd.  Every single odd, just like he had for the last seven and a half months.   Yet I checked my phone every five minutes to see if there was an update from Carli.  Every time I saw her name appear on my phone, my breath would catch in my throat.  And then I would jump on his FB page and update with something and tell everyone to pray and stay positive and to be happy because he was going to be fine,  When really, I was scared to death.  And my FB inbox filled every day with messages from strangers asking me for updates as if I knew something that wasn't posted...all of them freaking out.  And I stayed strong and I was happy to be there for my friends. 

I had just talked to Carli for an hour on Friday.  We talked about Liam, but mainly we talked about other things.  Funny things, stupid memories, and just life in general.  She was laying in bed with Liam and every once in a while I could hear his sweet voice.  I remember him asking for something to drink.  I didn't know it would be the last time I'd ever hear that voice.

Suddenly Liam's monitor started going off and Carli hung up on me.  I was scared, but that stuff happened before and I figured it was just his monitor being super sensitive.  I was right because she sent me a text a few minutes later and told him his O2 had slightly dipped but he was fine and she would call me later.

That night I was laying in bed with my little boys as they fell asleep.  I dosed off and woke back up around 10:00 that night.  I turned my phone on and the blinding light hit me hard in the face.  Carli updated something about Liam having a small scare but that everything was ok and he was stable and she had headed home.  I immediately texted her and she responded that his O2 had dropped again and he was having a hard time breathing, but they upped his O2 and he was okay.  My heart calmed down.

The next day was one of those rare Saturdays when our family of seven had an open calendar.  That never happens, but we tried to take it all in and we stayed in bed extra long.  Everyone in the house was still in their rooms.  I rolled over in bed and grabbed my phone that was freshly charged on the nightstand.  I opened FB and the first thing I saw was a post from Carli. "Oh God, please help him!"  At first my heart sank, but I reminded myself that I had just talked to her the night before and I knew from experience that when she said something like that on FB, I probably knew that backstory.  In that moment I truly figured that his fever was high again and he was having a hard time getting comfortable.  I tried to put it out of my mind and I made a mental note to call her later in the morning.

I got up and started cracking eggs.  I was going to be a good mama and make my kids a full breakfast.  Eggs, pancakes, sausage, the works.  Again, it had been ages since we'd had a Saturday like that.  As I was scrambling eggs, my phone alerted me that I had a text.  My hands were busy and I decided to let it go a few minutes before I checked it. 

Ten minutes went by and I remembered to check it.  It was from my friend/neighbor Jessi and it said "My heart hurts so much for you and your friends.  Hugs."

That was weird, I thought to myself.  Jessi?  Why would she say something like that.  I went back to the eggs.

And then my heart dropped clear to the floor.  What??!!  No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  I flipped open FB and was hit in the face with posts from a hundred people all saying things like "My heart goes out to the Webb family.  May Liam rest in peace with Jesus."  My newsfeed was completely filled with messages like that.

I can't explain what happened next.  But I will say that I had never experienced such a volatile, painful, physical manifestation of emotion.  It erupted out of me like hot lava.  I began screaming and breaking things and Cody came running out of the back room to see what had happened.  I remember that I couldn't get the words out.  And I remember looking around to see my five frightened children, three of them crying in confusion as the $%#@ hit the fan.

I did and said things in the next hour that I am not proud of, but it was the only thing I could do.  There was a monster coming out of me and I had no idea how to control it.  Seven and a half months of immense pain and suffering.  And God let him die anyway.  He truly was effing with all of us, with Liam.  It hurt more than I can ever put into words.

That afternoon at 3:30 Cody and the kids dropped me off at the airport and I was on a plane to Houston.  I was in a deep fog and the feeling in my chest was unbearable.  As I waited for my plane I locked myself in a bathroom stall and cried deep, engulfing, heaving sobs.  I'm sure the people outside the stall thought I was crazy or possessed or something.  Oh how it hurt.  I can't even explain it.  I drank more rum and vodka while on the plane and laying over in Pheonix than a person should admit to.  It was the first time I had done something like that and suddenly I knew how a person could develop alcoholism when going through a tragedy.  It dulled the pain, and made it worse in a way.  I will say that crying when under the influence is more painful than crying sober.  Why am I telling you this?  Because it's part of the experience and I don't want to forget about it, and I'm not ashamed.  I was raw and vulnerable and didn't know what to do with the shards of glass all in my chest.  I'm human and if you cut me, I bleed.

It was midnight when I finally got to the rental car place in Houston.  As I drove away through the dark city that I had called "home" for nineteen years, I was overcome with grief.  Even more so than I had been that morning or traveling.  Maybe it's because I was sober and felt my feelings and it was like pouring vinegar in the wound all over again.  I thought of my friend Christian who would never play ball with his boy.  I though of Kennedy who would wake up the next day without her best friend and kid brother.  I thought of Carli and how she'd laid in bed with Liam's body for hours after he had passed.  I thought of Presley and how she would grow up not knowing or remembering her courageous hero of a brother.  I thought of myself and how I had just held him in June.  I remembered walking into their house that day and being greeted by Liam and how he hugged my neck and called me "Eronica".  And I remembered standing in the grocery store on a cold January night when I got a text from Carli with a picture of a positive pregnancy test.  And she was scared and asked me if I saw what she saw because it hadn't been planned.  And that second line was Liam.  And I remembered feeling him kick in her belly.  And I wondered if the world would ever be the same without his light to fill in all the dark places. 

And the last seven and a half months came flooding back to me and I had to pull the car over and cry and scream.  Liam was dead.  He was gone.  It was a nightmare and none of us could wake up, but somehow I made it to my destination for the night.

At this time I can't go into details of the horror of the week.  Maybe I will do it in time, but not now.  I saw and experienced things that most people can go their whole lives being unfamiliar with.  I can't get certain things out of my head and not a night has gone by since he died that I haven't dreamed/nightmared about him or his parents or my own children in some way.   I "think" I know what it's like, through proxy, to lose a child and of the details involved with laying him to rest.  It's something that is almost too horrible to talk about.  There are no words. 

Maybe tomorrow I will write more, but tonight it's raw all over again.  I need to end this for now.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Hailey's Baptismal Photo Shoot

Today during the late afternoon Hailey and I headed over to Temple Square for her baptismal photo shoot.  Even though she doesn't turn eight until January, we had to strike while the weather was good and I was amazed at how gorgeous the day was.  It's November 10th and it was 65 degrees outside with no wind!  As you can see, it was short sleeve weather.  Score!

I know I am biased in thinking that Hailey is a beautiful girl, but I think she is incredibly beautiful both inside and out.  She is blossoming into such an amazing person and she is a huge blessing to our family.  I sometimes catch myself thinking back to what we were going through eight years ago when I was pregnant with her and when she was a baby.  Because of complications surrounding that pregnancy, life was very difficult to say the least.  But God is merciful and I truly think He makes things right when we have suffered.  Hailey is that reward and then some.

Her photo shoot went great and I am excited to get started on her baptism invitations.  Temple Square was pretty crowded with tourists and Hailey got a lot of attention as we shot pictures.  So many people followed us around and kept telling us how beautiful she is and how much they loved her dress.  I asked her at one point if she felt embarrassed and she said (very nonchalantly) "No, not really."  Shrug.  Everyone said she looked like a mini-bride and I think so too! By the way, she picked out this necklace last weekend when she got her ears pierced.  It actually came with matching gorgeous earrings and she will be able to wear them for her baptism, but for now she still has to keep in her original piercing earrings for five more weeks. 
























Monday, November 4, 2013

Why I Don't Homeschool

I tossed and turned quite a bit last night because I'd made the mistake of checking Facebook right before bed and when I did so, this lovely cartoon meme was the first thing on my news feed.  It was posted by a friend and avid homeschooler.  I clicked on it because it was attached to another organization's Facebook page.  While I didn't take the time to learn about the organization itself, I did find myself reading through the hundreds of comments, made mostly by homeschoolers and homeschooling parents, and very little by people in favor of public school. 

I need to preface this post with something: I realize that I am running the risk of upsetting my friends who homeschool their children.  That is not my intent, but it may happen nonetheless.

The homescool vs. public school debate is ongoing; that's no secret.  Five years ago when my oldest was about to enter kindergarten, I never hesitated to enroll him in our local elementary school.  In fact, he is such an introverted and reclusive child by nature and it was a no-brainer that homeschooling him would be very detrimental and would in fact push him even further into reclusiveness.  This was something that we were not going to let happen.  Looking back over the last five years, we have seen him flourish and bloom and come out of his shell that absolutely could not have been accomplished had we kept him home.  Even with homeschool groups, he would not have found the ability to find the independence that he needed. 

From day one in preschool, Cody and I have been highly involved in our children's education.  We collaborate with teachers.  We attend all of the conferences that we can.  Even after our kids come home from school (mind you, having been there for several hours already) the first thing they do is open their backpacks and show me everything that they have done and anything that teachers need me to see.  I look over tests.  I examine graded classwork.  I read notes from teachers.  I check email regularly and reply to the teachers when I need to.  If I have any questions, I ask.  I am good to clarify their instructions on things when I am unsure.  Their teachers know me on a first name basis and I them.

We read.  I have workbooks for each grade level and if I think a child needs  little mor attention in a certain area, they do extra work.  If a grade is below par on a report card, they know the consequences.  That means more academic time and attention from Mom and Dad.  Less playing with friends after school.  More time focused on the area at hand.  I work with them every afternoon on homework, all with the distractions of friends calling on the phone and knocking on the door to see if they can play.  The answer is always "No, I'm doing homework." We review spelling words all week long, even in the car.  We do math flashcards.  I incorporate inferring and critical thinking into daily conversation.  It's a lot of work and I bust my butt to make the connection between what they are doing in school to what they do at home and in every day life.  

I admit that when Ethan was in first grade, he had a teacher that was not a good fit for him.  That has been his hardest year by far, but we took it as a learning experience and if anything, it made us even better advocates for his education- both academically and emotionally.  It is possible.  You can be a good parent while sending your child away to be taught by other people for eight hours a day.  And you may have to work even harder than a parent that has their child at home all day to school them one-on-one (or now days, it involves much more of sitting your child in front of a computer and while they learn much of their curriculum, from a program and screen.)

The age old argument that children who homeschool are far advanced is true to an extent.  Yes, they can beat public schooled children on academic tests.  But I believe that there is a far bigger reason children should attend school.  It's a school of life, not just academics. My friend Tiffany taught junior high and this is what she had to say.  I really couldn't have said it better myself:

"They [homeschoolers] may learn the material much quicker and at a higher level with minimal distractions at home. But, there are things that can not be taught in the comfort of your home. In the real world students must learn with distractions, they may not have a boss who likes them or coworkers who are constantly working for their benefit. 

 Any child can succeed while in public education. While teaching I realized some students would succeed regardless of the difficulties in the class room. They worked hard, were self motivated and received excellent grades. They will be high achievers in college and will conquer many obstacles in their lives. Parents who send their children to public schools and want success for their students may have to work even harder then a parent who home schools a child. They have to coordinate with the teacher about what is going on in the classroom, and how to better help their child succeed. My son has had struggles this year in his Kindergarten class. The teacher is awesome and has been so willing to help. We have worked with her to help him find greater success. 

This takes time energy and effort from all persons involved. This is a great pattern to teach your children. We may have areas where we struggle and need further help, but we work hard and push through and find success. If we start these patterns with our young children nothing will stop them. Some of the barriers we find in public education, if overcome, can be some of our greatest victories [and advantages]. These will prepares us and our children for the difficulties we will find throughout our lives."

Now, let's get back to addressing the laughable cartoon above.  I believe with all my heart that the person who created it was a sanctimonious prick.  Who is he/she to group us into categories like this?  To say that the desire of public school is to make us conform and loose our sense of identity and uniqueness like the school of fish shown, is a closed-minded and judgmental moron.  My children attend school in a class of twenty-five and while they are supposed to follow instructions and abide by certain rules and standards, they have been blessed with wonderful teachers (with the exception of Ethan's first grade teacher) who encourage creativity and self exploration.  One reason I am so wildly against school uniforms is for this very reason.  I know they have their purpose and advantages, but if you want to further the stereotype of school stripping away identity, make them all dress in khaki and navy.  That's another whole blog post in itself.  

I spend time in my children' classrooms when I can.  I try to volunteer on at least one field trip for each kid every year.  And when I see my children in their element, surrounded by friends, laughing, playing, learning, interacting.....I see that THIS is where they belong.  At the end of last school year I volunteered for field day and something whispered to my heart that I am doing the best thing for my children.  And those times when I get the inkling that I would rather keep them home than send them to a school, I realize that they are selfish reasons.  They have to do with MY convenience and MY wants, not their wants and needs.  I am a parent and made sacrifices and some of those sacrifices included giving up certain freedoms with my schedule.  By having our children in school, we are "slaves" to the schedule of the school and district.  

I should add about the difficulty of getting a child, who has already sat in school for several hours and is tired, bored, hungry, and fidgety, to sit down even longer at home and work on more school. And it's all to make sure that the correct crossover between school and home takes place. It's extra time, extra patience, extra attention that I really don't have but have to pretend I have. It's invaluable time that needs to be taken and I am willing to do it and my kids benefit from it. And it's all because for OUR kids, it is far more beneficial for them to be away from us, in school, taught by and interacting with other adults and children, then to be at home with a mother who lacks the ability to provide them with the resources they need (and by resources, I don't mean knowledge). So don't you dare go and make my kids out to be dead sardines squished in a tin, screaming for help. My kids are happy, healthy, thriving, brilliant, well rounded individuals who greatly benefit from the way we do things and the sacrifices we make.

Our days are not our own, Monday through Thursday.  Our lives revolve around early mornings, lost shoes, cranky girls who have tangled hair and a son who just wants to lazy around in the morning and read.  I divide my time all day between gymnastics, preschool, kindergarten carpool, library time, laundry, laundry, cleaning, laundry, driving to the school to take a kid something that they forgot, church callings, Girl Scouts, making food and cleaning up food, and at 3:45 the front door swings open and Ethan and Hailey burst in with a million things they want to tell me.  And the backpacks go flying and the shoes get tossed and dirty socks get stripped off and thrown on the floor.  I feed them a snack and we get down to business (homework).  And then it's soccer and ballet and scouts and piano and everything else that we bust our butts to give our children to ensure that they have the most well-rounded life education that they can have.  

Anyone who thinks that parents who send their children off to school have it easy because it takes the responsibility away from the parent are HIGHLY mislead.  If anything, I believe that as a parent who does NOT homeschool, I have it harder and have to work that much harder to make sure my children succeed.  It is not easy.  And if you are a parent who sends your child off to school and expects the teachers and administrators to do the work of raising and educating your child while taking no responsibility after 3:30 in the afternoon, you are doing it wrong.  Dead wrong.  

I do believe that the educational system is partially broken, but I also believe that the family and home system is partially broken as well.  Wherein lies the solution?  It all comes back to the parents.  Parents need to step up and take more responsibility to ensure that their own children are making the grade.  And if they are not, they need to work on it with their child and the teacher.  Get involved.  Show the teacher that you are interested in your child's education and you will be amazed at how willing the teacher is to work with you.  Know the kids your children like to hang out with.  Talk to your child.  You don't have blindly to send them off to school every day, unaware of who they are friends with and what influences they are coming in contact with.  It all comes back to the dialogue between you and your child.  

Ethan is getting to an age where his friends are becoming more important to him than his own family.  I don't worry about it because it's a natural life process.  The other night we let him invite a bunch of his school friends over (the ones he talks about but we don't know, and a bunch of friends that we DO know) for pizza and a movie.  We wanted to allow him an opportunity to bring friends into our home in a safe environment where we could monitor what went on and of course, eavesdrop on some conversations.  I know we have yet to experience life with teenage children and we may have to go back to the drawing board when we hit that milestone.  But for now, talking to our kids, talking to their teachers, and talking to their friends and friends' parents gives us the peace of mind that our kids are blossoming in a healthy way.  They are still under our wings to an extent, but have their heads completely out and are able to see and experience the world in a way that they couldn't if they were not allowed to leave us for several hours a day and be under the care of other adults.  I truly believe that it takes a village to raise a child, and I suppose we are lucky because we live in a fantastic village.  

I don't believe that homeschooling is bad, but I do believe it puts children at a disadvantage in some ways.  Most of those ways have to do with the social and emotional education of children.  On the flip side, I see that public school has it's flaws and can put the child at a disadvantage academically.  Is there a perfect solution?  I don't believe so.  But I do think that good parents do what they believe is best for their children and that parents feel strongly on both sides of the debate.  At the end of the day most parents have the same goal in mind, and that is to produce healthy, happy, smart, well rounded children that can function responsibly in society and do well in life.  I suppose both sides have a different way of going about it. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Hello, Old Friend


Yesterday at Ethan's final (outdoor) soccer game of the fall season, I ran into someone and it filled me with joy.

I was sitting on the sidelines talking to Audrey about this and that, there was a grandpa type guy sitting a few feet down from her.  He was wearing a fishing cap and sunglasses and over the course of Audrey's and my conversation, I noticed that Grandpa Guy kept looking over in my direction.  After a little while I started wondering if he was looking at me or someone behind me.  Right at half time, he got up and walked over to me and took off his sunglasses.  My heart was so happy to see that it was our beloved Dr. Allred!!  What?!  No way!!

I jumped up and hugged him.  Turns out his grandson is Isaac on Ethan's team!  What a small world.  It was so wonderful to see him and to finally meet his cute wife, June, after hearing all about her for years.  She was exactly like I had pictured her!  What made my day more than anything was that Dr. Allred picked ME out.  He recognized ME, after not seeing me for about a year and a half.  I have said before that we love him and have always thought of him as family, but I know he had a jillion patients and families to see after.  So the fact that he knew who I was and gave me a hug made me feel like a million bucks, but miss him even more.  It validated my belief that he really was and is the best pediatrician in the world.  He doesn't just "say" he cares about his patients, he really means it.  He was invested in them and that's what made him such an invaluable doctor and a wonderful advocate.

I will never forget how after each baby, he was as concerned with how Mom was doing as how the baby was doing.  He would sit and talk and make sure that all was good at home and that I was getting the support and help and SLEEP that I needed.  And when Garrett was born and cried twenty hours a day and Cody had a difficult time bonding with him, I sat in Allred's office at Garrett's two week check up and cried and confided my feelings of inadequacy and exhaustion and just plain fear to our good doctor.  And he listened and told me that he would love to talk to Cody (or me) any time he needed to because he had been there and knew how hard it could be on dads too.  I could go on and on with stories of how he helped get us through some tough times and how good he was to our kids.

Anyway, it was so good to see him and talk and catch up on life in these past twenty months, and the kids were thrilled to see him and didn't hesitate giving him huge hugs.  He is still in remission from cancer and he and his wife bought some horses that they board just a few miles from our house.  I said that Hailey just might need to come out there and "exercise" them some time and he said he'd love it.  We talked about my "journey" in finding a new doctor for the kids and he asked me the name of the GP that we decided on.  When I said it was Ray Ward, he and his wife laughed and said "Ray grew up in our ward!  Tell him hello!"  They both said how great he was and that we made a great choice in going with him.  That made me feel even better in deciding on him as our new doctor. 

I know I we are not the only patients of his that miss him and appreciate him so much.  I'm sure he had that effect on all of them. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Good & Bad Of Foot Surgery


 I am super lucky and have had a severe foot condition called Morton's Neuroma.  I had both feet operated on the same time in August 2011 because the doctor told me that if I only had one foot done and then planned to have the other foot done, I would likely not come back in to do the second foot after seeing how difficult the recovery was from the first foot.

He was absolutely right.

As you can see from the above picture, the normal nerve is supposed to be the size of cooked spaghetti or even smaller.  Most people with MN can relieve it by only having ligaments cut so that over time, pressure is relieved and the tumors on the nerves will shrink and not be aggravated anymore.  The tumors form in the same way that an Oyster makes a pearl from a grain of sand.  Increased friction and pressure over time forms a not-so-beautiful tumor on the nerve, otherwise known as a neuroma.

My feet were worst case scenario.  When the doctor got in there back in 2011, he found that the nerves were so badly damaged and covered in tumors and the only way to fix it was to cut the ligaments and remove the tumors.  My nerves, which were supposed to be teh size of spaghetti, were in fact the size of a grown man's finger.  Huge and corroded.

The left foot healed beautifully, but the right foot never seemed right after surgery.  Over time I could feel a mass forming around the ball of my foot and I figured it was just scar tissue.  I did my best to break up the tissue by doing some physical therapy exercises, but back in June it was really bothering me so I figured I needed to get back in to see the doctor.  When I went in, he found that yes there was a massive amount of scar tissue, but there was also a massive nerve where it had once been removed.  It had grown back!  Seriously, call me Wolverine.  Apparently I regenerate just like he does.  The doctor gave me a steroid shot in hopes to soften and shrink the scar tissue which would in turn relieve pressure from the area.

After the triathlon I did in August, I realized that the steroid had NOT worked and that I needed to get back in to see the doctor.  When I did, we weighed pros and cons and decided that the best thing would be to go back in an operate.  NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

 So ON September 26th I checked back in and got ready for surgery.  Knowing that I would be down and out for quite a while after surgery, I deliberately crammed a million to-dos into the week leading up to surgery.  It was so busy, in fact, that checking in for surgery felt like a relief.  For the next week I would lie in bed and watch movies and read and be waited on hand and foot while someone else ran the house for me! 

I get extremely nervous before surgery and the great anesthesiologist gave me a dose of "liquid courage" to calm me down before heading into the OR.  I remember feeling very tense and being on the brink of a panic attack before he administered the drug.  He put it into my IV and two seconds later I felt a warm sensation go through me from head to toe.  Good doctor.  I think I laughed a whole lot and when I got wheeled into the OR and saw everyone wearing blue gowns and masks, I laughed more and said everyone looked like smurfs. And then there was nothing.

A split second later a nurse was telling me to wake up.  I started singing some Belinda Carlisle song, according to the nurse.  I am certain that the same song had been playing in the OR some time during surgery, but why on earth wold my doctor choose to listen to that kind of music while he operated?  The song haunted me for days after that because I could never quite figure out what song it was.  I would wake up in the wee hours of the morning with that mystery song in my head, but forget it when I fully woke up in the morning.  One day, about five days after surgery, I was doped on Percocet and the tune of the song popped into my head.  I was coherent enough to jump online and Google "Belinda Carlisle songs".  A list came up, and BAM.  There it was. "Mad About You".  I was elated to finally know what song had been haunting me!
 I won't lie.  Recovery has been 10x worse than it was the first time.  About a week after surgery I decided to Google pictures of the exact operation I had.  I shouldn't have done that while in so much pain because it about made me throw up.  They cut in between my middle and fourth toes and the incision came down about an inch and a half and around at the ball of my foot too.  But they retract the toes sooooo far apart and get way down in there with the instruments.  No wonder I was bruised up to my ankle!  The doctor said that this surgery was very invasive because I had mounds of scar tissue inside that he dug out.  And the nerve that he removed, was AGAIN as thick as his pinky finger. I was shocked that it had grown back at all, let alone that big!! 
 I about brought my foot to the point of frostbite each day, but cold was the only thing to relieve pain.  Percocet did a good job, but it makes me so itchy and loopy and I just don't like the side effects.  Surgery was on a Thursday and Cody was here through the weekend taking care of me and the household.  Then his mama came into town on Sunday and stayed for the week.  Having surgery like this is about impossible without a lot of help because you can NOT be up and about.  I had a walking boot that I had to wear when I was up at all *like to go to the bathroom), but even with the boot being up for more than ten minutes would have me reaching for a Percocet.  And since there is a giant cavity in my foot where everything was removed, it would pool with blood and fluid when I was up for too long.  Yuck.
 It goes back and forth between being horribly bruised, and then looking like this.  Not too bad at all.

 Stitches came out on Friday the 11th.  Holy pain!!!  That seriously hurt like a mo-fo.
This is my foot today.  Look at all the bruising near my ankle.  Weird, huh?!  Pain and recovery is relative and I am doing a lot better than I was a week ago.  Still, the majority of my time is spent sitting with my foot propped up on ice and it stills hurts a heck of a lot. Brings me to the point of tears at times.  But it's getting better.  The doctor is certain that the nerve will NOT come back again.  I start PT next week and I think that will prevent a lot of the same scar tissue from coming back.  I told Cody that if the problem comes back in either foot, I will live with it until I die because I don't want to go through this again.  I say that, but I don't think I mean it because the surgery is still better than living with the problem. 

Halloween Costumes

 Tonight was our church's Halloween party and since I was getting them ready anyway and it was a "somewhat" stress-free evening (meaning we weren't rushing from school, to a parade, to a work party, to dinner, and then to trick-or-treat with friends) I decided to do their annual costume photo shoot.  This year we decided to make the kids utilize costumes that we already had on hand.  They weren't too happy about it because they are in the habit or getting new stuff every year (especially Ethan), but they ended up having fun going though old stuff to come up with new stuff.  I think we spent less than $25 on Halloween this year.
Garrett Allan- 2 1/2 years old
 Since Devin and Garrett are obsessed with all things "Toy Story", going as Buzz and Woody was perfect.  Ethan went as Buzz when he was two years old, and the costume fit Garrett very well.  But the stinker threw a major fit when I tried to get him dressed in it.  He screamed and thrashed and became possessed.  I had to bribe him with about a million things to make him calm down and sit for a few pictures.  He refused to wear the hood, but I'm grateful for the pictures I got.  As you can see, he was way more interested in ringing the doorbell and running in to lock me out.  He's good at being two years old. 



 My neighbor was getting rid of this Woody costume so I snatched it up for $5 a few weeks ago.  Score!  Devin was super excited about it and he was perfectly happy to let me take pictures!


Devin Joseph- 4 years old

 Lauren went back and forth between a fairy (wearing an old ballet costume and fairy wings from their dress up box) or a University of Utah cheerleader (already have the outfit).  In the end, she went with a pirate.  She already had the shirt and skirt, so I bought her the patch, earring, tights, and the head wrap and sword came from the boys' dress up box.  Score again!


Lauren Elizabeth- 6 years old

 Hailey wore an old ballet costume that actually served as a mouse costume when their studio did "Cinderella" last year.  But it worked great to add cat ears that they already had to make it a cat.  I bought a face painting set and turned her face into a cat, and voila!  I think it turned out okay.


Hailey Jane- 7 1/2 years old

 Ethan was the hard one to please.  Because he is the oldest and he gets everything brand new, he's not used to recycling clothes or anything at all.  He has always gone as a super hero of sorts, and this year we tried to sell him on going as Tony Stark, which we had some great ideas for.  But he didn't love the idea and kept pouting about not getting a new costume.  I had an old black cloak and I suggested going as "Death".  When I said I'd buy him an ax to go with it, he loved it immediately. 
Ethan Gilbreth- 9 1/2 years old



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