Category Archives: Brian

Whom the Lord Calls

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Valentine’s weekend represents a lot of milestones for our family. Two days ago, we celebrated the seven years since we took Patrick to the temple to be sealed to our family. Three years ago, we took Patrick to Nebraska to have him evaluated for a transplant there. It meant moving to a better program, but leaving a lot of comfort behind. A completely foreign city, a huge hospital, and no one we knew. And then one year ago, we arrived home with Patrick after he’d received his transplant, evidence of a miraculous recovery.

And then yesterday we added one more. Yesterday, Brian (also known as Howie, if you are ever confused by my mixing names in this blog post) was called to be a counselor in our bishopric.

A bit of explanation for those less familiar with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The “Mormon” church has a lay ministry. That means that we don’t have professional clergy. At all. Some full-time. But none are formally trained. And none are paid. Instead, we are all trained as a part of “bringing up” in the church and we all take turns. Every 5 or more years, a new bishop is called. His service is voluntarily and in addition to his regular job, but no less real in its demands. He is a pastor to his congregation. Leader, comforter, judge, and friend. And he is helped in his work by two counselors. Brian was just made a counselor. (And in order to serve in that assignment he was also ordained a high priest.)

But this blog isn’t about Brian or about bishoprics. It’s about our family and our journey together. And so I’m going to share some reflections I’ve had as we prepared for this new assignment. (See, even though the news was only announced yesterday, we’ve known for a few weeks and I’ve had some time to think.)

A phrase came to my mind a few days ago. “Whom the Lord calls, He qualifies.”

And so I’ve been thinking about the calling I’ve been pursuing for the past seven and a half years. My calling as Patrick’s mother.

Seven and a half years ago,  I took that a phone call, my life changed. But I don’t think you could say that the Emily who answered that call about a boy who needed a family was qualified to be a special needs mom, a short gut mom, a TPN mom, a transplant mom, an autism and ADHD mom, a feeding therapy mom, a food allergy mom. I had tried to prepare to be a mother. I had often wondered if I hadn’t been given the chance yet because I wasn’t really prepared to even be a mother. (I wasn’t so very wise then, was I?)

Patrick on His sealing day.

Patrick on His sealing day.

Some people say that special children are only given to special parents. And I don’t think that is true. At all. I’ve watched hundreds of moms in the support group I run learn about their children’s diagnosis and realize that they don’t have even the beginning knowledge required to do what is required of them.

I certainly wasn’t equipped. I was impatient. I was just learning how to handle my anxiety. I had panic attacks when schedules changed. (Umm, drop everything and run to the ER? What?) I was absolutely phobic of doctors and hospitals and especially surgical procedures.

When I took Patrick for his transplant evaluation, I had learned a lot and was a seasoned medical mom. But I couldn’t have imagined what that experience would be like. The pain he’d be in. The effect his medications would have on his moods. The trauma we’d both have to learn to live with. And though I knew being far from home and without my husband would be hard, I couldn’t have prepared for it.

Patrick and his dad in x-ray at his transplant evaluation

Patrick and his dad in x-ray at his transplant evaluation

When we brought a “new” Patrick home, I wasn’t prepared for the growing and changing that would happen this year. The sheer weight of trying to learn a whole new way of life. A new gut in many ways opened doors to a new him and needed a new kind of mom.

I wasn’t qualified for any of these things when I started them. But I was willing. I was teachable. And I trusted that the call came from the Lord.

I have received a lot of on-the-job training. I have had solutions to problems come to my mind with such clarity and perfection that I know they can only have come from a knowing Heavenly Father through the Holy Ghost. I have shed lots of tears when I didn’t feel I was measuring up. And then I’ve gotten up and kept trying.

I have learned to rely heavily on friends and family and neighbors, on experts willing to take the time to teach me, on other parents who started out as strangers but became friends.

And I’ve learned that truly, whom the Lord calls, He qualifies.

He does it. Through His grace. If we let Him.

Special children aren’t given to special people. Ordinary people become parents to special children all the time. Ordinary people are faced with all kinds of devastating trials every day. Ordinary people step up and do impossible things every day.

There is a saying that floats around a lot. “The Lord won’t give you more than you can handle.”  That isn’t quite right. Here’s what the scriptures really say:

There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.  1 Corinthians 10: 13

In other words, “The Lord won’t give you more than you can handle without also giving you a way to handle it.” He uses trials to make us better. To make us more like him. He takes ordinary, willing people and makes them into special people. Or, in simpler words, “Whom the Lord calls, he qualifies.”

P.S. Don’t take this as bragging. I still consider myself far more ordinary than special. But I digress…

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Here we are. Another Valentine’s weekend. Another big change. I don’t know quite yet how Patrick and I are going to fare with Brian even busier. I’m sure sacrament meetings are about to be really interesting. And bedtimes.

I am sure that my humble, determined-to-serve husband is feeling a bit overwhelmed by this new calling. I’m also certain that he will do a marvelous job and that the people of our church are going to be really blessed by having him on their side.

And I’m going to do my best to keep up. That’s what I’ve been doing the whole time I’ve known him.

Brian loves to go for walks. When we were newlyweds and lived downtown, he would decide to walk to the city center. That wasn’t a short walk. And with his longer stride, I had to take an awful lot of steps to keep up with his pace. He has taught me quite literally what it means to “lengthen your stride.”

That’s what it is like having him for a best friend and husband. He’s always challenged me to quicken my step, lengthen my stride, and do a little better.

I’m ordinary. And short-legged. But I’m trying.

And whom the Lord calls….

Transplant Day 43 and Celebrating 11 years

(Sorry.. Internet connection isn’t doing syncing pictures right now. Will edit and add later if I can.)

Today is our wedding anniversary. The week has been so crazy that I wasn’t sure how today was going to turn out. We got the day off of labs so we slept all the way till 8 a.m. But then when we woke up, getting ready quickly was important. Still have to get meds from the fridge downstairs by 9 a.m.

But the morning routine is getting better. Brian sent a package yesterday and so I opened that while Patrick was in the bath. It had a few thoughtful little gifts in it. It made me really, really miss my best friend. But one of the gifts was a necklace that I have been able to wear all day to remind me of him. I have been so glad that we went big with a Disney trip last year as we’ve had to spend this day apart.

Thankfully, it’s been an overall happy day. A group home nearby comes every day to clean the playroom toys. Today, they were later than usual, which meant that we got to spend the morning downstairs playing. The rest of the house was really quiet so it was a great time to get to be out of the room. That’s how you got multiple blog posts today.

I ordered Brian a pizza and pizza cookie. I really wanted to find a way to send him warm cookies for our anniversary.. And to tell him that I’ve been working on other plans. The pizza place was kind of enough to put a note in the pizza for me, even. Then Patrick and I went upstairs.We stopped by the office because they kept coming and telling me I’d received flowers. (Don’t I have a sweet husband? It’s fun to get flowers in a place where people get excited about them coming.)

Then I made lunch and I fully intended to put Patrick down for a nap. But then my phone rang and it was his homeschool teacher cancelling class today because he had a fever and was going home sick. Then, people started to come inside and tell us what a beautiful day it was outside. Patrick had been begging me to take him for a walk in one of the house’s wagons. So, I gave in.

We had a great time. (And I met my FitBit step goal for the first time in almost a month.) And, yeah, it was so nice that I still didn’t feel right making Patrick go sleep the day away. Instead, I offered to take him to the park. One of the moms here pulled out a local guidebook that they’ve put together and gave me the address of a nearby park. It was only a few blocks away and it was perfect for Patrick’s mood. Quiet. Small enough to not be too hard for his recovering body. He was so happy he was literally jumping up for joy.

Then he got really, REALLY tired. He asked to go back to sleep, but then remembered that he had a $1 bill in his pocket that had come in the mail yesterday and he was dying to spend it. I wanted to do some shopping anyway, so we packed up in the car and we drove to one of my favorite on-a-budget stores: Aldi.

But we didn’t find a way for Patrick to spend his money there. I had, however, noticed a Family Dollar on our drive out and knew that they bring in crazy cheap toys for Christmas. So we stopped there instead. He picked out a remote control car. (Ok ,ok. Not $1. He actually had another $10 that he’d forgotten about so I gave it to him to spend when he spotted this car.) I found a shelf of kid’s knit gloves. I’ve been looking for those EVERYWHERE! Patrick can’t help himself touching things everywhere we go. Kid’s vinyl gloves are not really accessible and also not really comfortable. But little knit gloves? We can stick those in the car and put them on when we get somewhere he might need them. And then, we can bring them home and stick them in the wash. I bought 14 pairs of knit gloves. Some are pink. Patrick insisted. And that’s ok.

When we got back, he really WAS tired. I meant to come back and just cuddle up in the room and watch TV and maybe he’d fall asleep for a bit and that would be ok. But his new car required a screwdriver to get open. And then we discovered that there was a big stack of mail for Patrick today.

Oh my gosh do we feel spoiled today! Savannah, Maria, Emily, and Clarene.. Thank you! Those packages just on time to make today feel a little more special.

And speaking of special, tonight’s dinner group brought along Santa Claus. Patrick was so excited to see him again that he ended up first in line. But then he froze and couldn’t remember what he was supposed to tell him he wanted. He also pulled one of his new favorite tricks on him and pretended he didn’t know his own name. It was a great Santa moment.

Santa brought a bag of beanie bears and Patrick picked one out with polka dots, then named her Chrissy after his favorite friend from school. (Have I mentioned that I taught Patrick about naming stuffed animals this week? He’s received 2 others this week. A stuffed dog he named Cookie. And a purple teddy bear that he’s bounced back and forth between calling Pink and Cute Bear.)

Anyway.. once Santa left, Patrick was for sure ready for bed. We came up to the room and he went and picked out his pajamas. I told him he could start changing while I got meds.. But with the hospital here preferring that we loop his line up instead of down, he accidentally tugged it and pulled his dressing off. I did my first dressing change here. It went ok. Patrick actually did a decent job helping out.. being my non-sterile hands.. a job usually reserved for another grown up. And we managed to get by with the very different dressing change kit provided by a new homecare company.

Then, we make a very quick Christmas ornament, read our nightly scriptures, practiced how to pronounce “Bethlehem”, said our prayers and laid down to sleep. Patrick was out in minutes and is fast asleep now.

So I’m wrapping up this blog post and hurrying off to the kitchen to get some more formula for the night and post what I’ve written. Then, if I’m lucky, I hope to get my husband on the phone for a bit on our anniversary.

11 years is worth some celebration! Especially 11 years married to my best friend. We’ve known each other over half our lives. Howie (or as you know him, Brian) has always been my anchor. He calms me down. He teaches me patience. He has carried me through all of my hardest times. It doesn’t matter if we are right next to each other or oceans apart, we have always been best together. But I sure am excited that there’s only one more week of this particular apart time because I miss him a lot. Especially today.

My little photographer

This weekend, we took a short family getaway. My smart husband saw a deal on a cabin in the woods right as he went to leave for the Ukraine a couple of months ago. (You know, before everything hit the fan) and tasked me to pick a weekend.

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Little did I know when I booked that the Uinta Mountains would be hit with an unseasonably early snowfall. Still, we trusted in the warm cabin, and packed and went.

Getting there was a bit crazy, as we squeezed in an eye exam and speech therapy before we left town. But the trip up was peaceful, despite falling snow. We met one of our favorite Short Gut families for dinner on our way through Evanston, Wyoming and then arrived and settled into our cabin just on time for bedtime.

It was so peaceful to sit by the fire, snuggled by my husband, watching the snow fall and the end of a football game. And then, well, the rest of the night wasn’t as peaceful. Patrick didn’t sleep well and was up early, early in the morning.

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The snow meant we had to cancel our plans to explore the mountains by ATV and we had to settle for a drive in the car instead. Still, despite the rough start to the day, we had a really nice day out. The mix of autumn leaves and nearly a foot of snow made for stunning scenery. The free range cows preferring to move along roads to avoid snow broke up the drive. And we enjoyed some yummy pizza for lunch before heading back to the cabin. (They even made Patrick a crust-only pizza that, once convinced to try it, Patrick sat and ate for half an hour.)

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But for me, one of the highlights of the trip was Patrick discovering my camera. Brian loves photography and with the amazing fall/winter scene, we stopped to take pictures along the way. To keep Patrick entertained in the car, I offered him my camera when we stopped. Before long, I was following along behind him as he sought out the perfect picture. (Just like his Daddy.) It made his day and I find it quite entertaining to see the world from his point of view.

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I hope you enjoy his work, too. (The rest of the pictures in this post were taken by Patrick).

Looking out the car window

Looking out the car window

There is a whole series of pictures of Patrick's feet when he didn't realize the camera was turned around

There is a whole series of pictures of Patrick’s feet when he didn’t realize the camera was turned around

Provo River Falls

Provo River Falls

 

Mommy

Mommy

Looking up at the trees

Looking up at the trees

Daddy taking pictures at Provo River Falls

Daddy taking pictures at Provo River Falls

"Green"

“Green”

Mommy (with some help from daddy to get Mommy in the frame)

Mommy (with some help from daddy to get Mommy in the frame)

View from our cabin window

View from our cabin window

A selfie

A selfie

The time out chair

The time out chair

Trees behind our cabin

Trees behind our cabin

King Buckle Boy

Patrick likes to script our lives. For example, we will be riding in the car and he will say..

Patrick-“Mommy?”
Me-“Yes, Patrick?”
Patrick-“No ‘Yes Patrick.’  ‘Yes, Buddy’!”

Then..
Patrick- “MOMMY!!?”

To which I must reply, “Yes, Buddy.”
And then he tells me what he wants.

Only yesterday he was not Buddy. He was “Buckle Boy”. Just out of the blue. And after a few repetitions, daddy added “King Buckle Boy”.

All day today he has been “King Buckle Boy”. Well, that and “Meow meow” which came from a conversation I missed between him and daddy.

Hooray for imagination

The big slide

I went online to look for pictures from the most recent HopeKids party and found these from the HopeKids birthday party that we attended in November. I just had to share.

This year, the party was at Classic Fun Center in Sandy. This place has two skating rinks, an arcade, ball pits, and best of all, inflatables. I wasn’t sure that Patrick was big enough for inflatables, and was sure his tubes would get in the way. Daddy saw otherwise.

Howie knows Patrick loves slides and so he found one he could carry Patrick up to slide down.

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He’d tuck Patrick under his arm, and up they’d go.  Up about 15-20 feet… and at least that many little foam steps.

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They’d stop at the top to get backpack and tubes situated. This only helped build the anticipation.

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And then down they’d come.

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Both of them thought this was pretty darn fun.

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And so, they’d go again.

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They did it again and again until Daddy was so tired from carrying Patrick and his equivalent weight backpack back up the slide that he couldn’t do it anymore. So they sat and had a rest.

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We played in one of the calmer inflatables for a bit. Patrick was really scared and frustrated trying to walk until Daddy started bouncing so we’d bounce. That’s how we finally got this smile.

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And then, well rested, they went down the slide again. Is it any wonder why Patrick loves his Daddy?

(p.s. THANK YOU HopeKids for a very fun birthday party.)

Happy Anniversary Howie

wedding-photos7 years ago, I made the best choice I ever made. 7 years ago tomorrow, I went to the temple to marry my best friend. There, we promised to love and care for one another for time and for all eternity.

Howie (whose given name is Brian) is truly my better half. We met as teenagers. We got to know each other best when we worked in the same mall. (He was kind enough to allow me to take my breaks in his store. We jokes, wrestled, and sometimes he’d even take me for ice cream.)

Shortly after high school, he was called to serve as a missionary for our church in Southern Italy. He went to Italy and I moved away to go to school and we wrote letters to stay in touch, weekly letters. I learned to love Italian chocolate. He returned as I was finishing college. He returned to school and I decided I’d like to be a missionary and so, we traded places. I went to Chicago to work as a missionary and he went to school, and we continued to write letters.

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We fell in love through those letters and a month after I returned home, He proposed. He presented my ring to me on a platter.. on the beak of a rubber chicken we’d mailed back and forth through all those years of letter writing. How could I say no?

Howie is the best thing that has ever happened to me. He has always known just what to say to calm me down when I work myself into an anxious fit. He knows how to make me laugh. He knows just the things to do to make me smile.

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We’ve been through some difficult things in our marriage. Not the least of these has been taking care of our very special boy.

I don’t know how I’d do it without him to bring me clothes and treats when Patrick’s in the hospital, to read the “Jesus Book” to Patrick every night while I get meds ready, to get me out of the house when I get overwhelmed, to be my assistant for all medical procedures, to rejoice with me over the little triumphs no one else could understand, and to tell me that things will be ok even when neither one of us is sure of how they will.

I could not ask for a better friend, a better father to my son, a better provider, or a better husband.

Happy Anniversary, Howie.

Please don’t be mad for too long that I posted a tribute for the world to see.

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Thanksgiving

What’s the best thing about Thanksgiving dinner? Not the food, according to Patrick, who really didn’t even want to eat much of anything at either of the family get-togethers we went to. For Patrick, the best part of Thanksgiving dinner was that it put his family all together between the hours of 2 & 4 p.m. This is when Patrick has his break from his TPN, which means that on two consecutive days, Patrick got to run around tube free and play with his very favorite people.

You couldn’t ask for a better holiday treat.

I’ll admit, I enjoyed it, too. It’s different to go to an event and be able to let Patrick play without having to follow behind him watching his tubes.

And the best thing about the entire holiday weekend? Well, according to Patrick, it was having Daddy home for so many days in a row. He didn’t want to let him out of his sight. Friday morning we went to do a little bit of Christmas shopping and when Brian walked away from the cart, Patrick was absolutely heartbroken.

Daddy is, hands down, Patrick’s favorite person in the entire world. And who am I to argue? The two of them are my two favorite people, too.

Spending the holiday with the two of them, free from the hospital, healthy and happy is truely something to be thankful for.