Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Inpatient Rehab (for my camera)

As I have mentioned in previous posts, my dear sweet camera has been misbehaving as of late.  It has been slightly annoying through our white Christmas to not have a dependable camera around, but I have been having a hard time figuring out what is wrong with it.  Is it the battery?  The charger?  The camera?  Well, yesterday it officially pooped the middle of shooting some friends of ours!  Arg!!  I was at least able to get their family shots before it turned off, saying goodbye indefinitely.  I ran it into a very dependable camera shop (Camera West) that fixed a minor problem this summer, proving their honesty by fixing a tiny problem for free.  They were a little baffled by my rebel's (living up to its name, eh?) mood swings, so we will have to wait and see what is wrong with my baby and if it will be worth fixing.  Cross your fingers, guys!  And to all of my family that I was going to take pictures for this weekend...Sorry!  Here are a few of the pictures that I did get to take yesterday.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Personalized Address Stamp

For my sister, Lia, I turned their new house into dot art for an inked address stamp.  I think it might have been a little bit too subtle because a few days after Christmas Lia realized that it was her house on the stamp.  Oops.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Presents in Review

Since I couldn't just go around flashing all of my Christmas presents (even though I really wanted to show everyone what I was up to), I thought I would do a project a day to show you some of the fun we had creating for our family this Christmas.

This is a little piece of Angela's lap quilt that I made her.  We kept it simple with strips of these two fabrics, with the black dots on the back again.  Then I did some free motion quilting swirls up the strips as an accent.  Viola!  A fairly quick quilt (quick as a quilt gets, at least.) for my wonderful sister in law.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Our week in pictures

Our Christmas Story play....minus Elise since she insisted on playing 
with playdoh in the other room.  Those rebellious 2 year olds!
Mary, Joseph (the one making the funny face) and baby Jesus

Not exactly sure what Hannah is doing here, but these are her new pj's.  
They all fit pretty well except Lilly's pants, that are now Elise's.

Sweet Lilly Lu in her dress that Komo gave her.  Stinking cute, she is.


This will soon be a fairy house, kind of like this one.  Just don't
say "those 5 words" to Autumn because she loves her fairies.

I am sorry guys, but I just don't have the time or brain power today, so here are some pictures from the Kang Christmas, in all of the glory of my kids, their incooperative spirits and my camera's temper tantrum.  (Behave, camera, behave!  It is either that I need a new battery or that my camera is dying.  I am really hoping it is the battery, but it is appearing that the new battery isn't fixing the problem.  No!!)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

None of your Beeswax! (Candles, that is)

What a wonderful Christmas we had!  The girls all loved their gifts, but more importantly, they loved watching people receive their gifts that they had made.  The rest of the day was spent playing with all of the new toys and just being together.  Elise played "Thomas" all day long.  I don't think she would even require any tracks because she roll plays with them as if they were her dolls. (Ok, she might eventually want some tracks)  Her opening presents was asking one of her sisters to open it, her eyes lighting up at another Thomas toy and adding whatever it was to her game she was playing at the moment.  Hannah and Chloe were serving sandwiches and sushi (Melissa and Doug style) to us throughout the day from their kitchen.  It was really the ideal day.  Staying at home with the family, just enjoying the company.  

Right before dinner, we had the lights go out on us a few times, which sounded like this: Me: "Someone get to Lilly!" Elise: "Turn the lights back on!" Lilly: Wahhhhh!" Rachel: "I got to Lilly right before I stepped on her!"  We quickly scrambled for some beeswax candles that my dad had dipped for us, found the matches and....the lights went back on.  Then they lights went off.  Then the lights went back on.  Then the lights went back off.  We decided that we would eat our Christmas dinner a la candle light.  Then the lights went back on.  Everyone sighed very disappointedly and that was when we decided we would do it anyway.  We turned off all of the lights and enjoyed a very calm, relatively peaceful candlelight dinner.  I think a new tradition has been born, and this one that is way easier to carry on than the making pj's for 3 little girls. (wait!  There were 3 when I started it....6 is so much harder)

By the way, I am so grateful for all of this snow.  I know a lot of those folks out there have hated it.  I realize that it has kept a few families apart this Christmas, but it did a great job of keeping us together.  It has been such a gift to force us to slow down, spend less time running around , spend less money on worthless presents and more time just being together.  I have had numerous deep conversations with the girls about the season that I am not sure I would have had if I had been running around like a chicken with its head cut off.  (Including the not so deep conversation in which Rachel remarked that she likes Christmas because I am nicer during the Christmas season.  Thanks, Rachel.  Note taken.  New Year's resolution added.)

And now, for the challenge of this post.  We've played a little game at the Kang house, somewhat spuratically, that I'd like to challenge you guys to play along with.  It is very easy and requires little to none planning. (That is very important over here)  Whenever we are making a little treat, buying a yummy snack or something along those lines, I will ask all of the kids to guess a number one through ten.  It is always a little out of the blue, but the kids always know what I am getting at.  (I guess if I was a little more creative, we would use something besides guessing a number EVERY time, but in another life....)   Whoever guesses my number chooses a person to receive the surprise and we go sneak it to their doorstep.  It is always a secret, normally a person we don't even know and it always makes for a great little game.  So, as you are finishing up your holidays, or as you are starting the New Year, whenever you have a second to spare (that is all it takes), join in the fun and play our Very Random Acts of Kindness Game.  Your kids are bound to have a blast (and start requesting that you play it more often) and you are bound to feel the lovin'.  Everyone, get your game on.  Ready, set, go!  You can even share your fun in the comments.  Pretty please?

Merry Christmas

Due to crazy weather and the Forest Grove Post Office (which, by the way, I love going to because everyone knows everyone there!) being short on post card stamps, I still have a pile of cards that will be mailed out soon.  Until then, here it is in all of its digitalness.  I hope you all enjoy your family this Christmas as much as we are enjoying ours.  I was thinking today about how great of a Christmas Season it has been so far and my next thought was that it wouldn't have been without all of you.  Each of you has made an impact on us (either large or small) that has made this past year, in all of its trials, a little easier.  Without all of our friends and our family, this Christmas would have been a lot more stressful and sticky ucky.  Thank you to all of you for everything you have done for us.  We appreciate all of the acts of kindness that have come our way during what could have been a very dark time for us and instead was full of blessings.  We have felt every prayer that was offered and feel very blessed to have all of you as our friends.  Thank you!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Stroke scare

Disclaimer: Angela, do NOT pass this on :)  No need to worry the folks, eh?

So.  Last night we had a little "get together" with the paramedics.  They seem like very nice people and we enjoyed chatting and all, but I think we will avoid all future get togethers with their type of people. Before I get into the thick of it, we thought Chris was having a stroke, but it turned out to be a panic attack.  A little scary for Chris (and the whole family!), as his biggest fear right now is...having another stroke.  

They think this could have been from all of that playing in the snow and sledding, which I think makes a lot of sense.  Basically, he was sitting on the couch and all of a sudden he was going tingly and hyperventilating.  Yikes.  Tingly sensation.  Stroke?  Tingly sensation on his face, eye stinging.  Stroke?  Right arm can't move.  Stroke?  Leg twitching.  Stroke?  It turns out that these are also common with panic attacks, but the main difference is that his right side couldn't move because it was stiff and tight (panic attack) and not because it was weak (stroke).  Horrible, horrible experience, but all is well now.  We know now how to identify this, we are having Chris take it easy (no more sledding, honey!) and all of our great neighbors dotingly shoveled our driveway today and brought us a nice, sodium free lunch.   I am hopeful that this won't happen again simply because now we know the early signs and know that when we see those signs, Chris needs to cool it and relax.  Whew.  I am so not ready for him to have another stroke.  And kudos to the Forest Grove FD paramedics that made it up our very steep and snowy hill in about 5 minutes.  Did I tell you that our total count for snow is 26 inches now?  Yep, they did a great job getting here fast through a whole heck of a lot of snow and getting Chris back to normal.  Whew.  Breathe, Sarah.  

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Thank you, Lilly

I feel so blessed right now.  My sweet little Lilly Lu.  Let me start by saying that I love nursing my babies.  It is wonderful in so many forms, but the thing I don't like is that my babies never let me just rock them to sleep.  If I am holding them when they are tired, they want food.  Tonight, for the 2nd time this week, Lilly has slowly drifted to sleep in my arms without nursing and I must say it is different.  I don't know why (maybe because it is so rare), it was such a sweet moment.  Sitting in the quiet glow of the Christmas tree, with Lilly stroking my face (she loves this), slowly closing her eyes.  This moment was priceless.  I felt time slow and I sucked every bit out of this moment that might never happen again.  Thank you, my oh so sweet Lilly Lu.  As if she isn't the sweetest thing ever when she is up and at 'em (and boy is she-standing by herself, crawling all over the place!), she is 20 times cuter when she is drifting off to dreamland.  Now I am extra jealous of Chris, who has always gotten to experience this with all of the girls and extra sad for him as he can't experience it with Lilly.  I cried right along side him after his stroke as he lamented his not being able to hold his daughters, but I feel it even more right now.  Feeling that extreme joy tonight reminded me just how much it must hurt him to not be able to rock her to sleep.  Lilly, you are such a blessing to us. 

Today, I might have started something bad.  We'll have to see how it plays out.  Elise is always either playing in Thomas land or pretending to be a doggy.  We can get her to do many things that she would not do otherwise if we start playing doggy with her, so today I used it to my advantage a few times.  To get her dressed, I talked about getting the baby doggy dressed in her pants and shirt.  To wash her face, I pretended like I was a mommy doggy, cleaning her baby. (No, I did NOT lick her face)  To get her OUT of the room with the sleeping Lilly (yes, Lilly actually slept today!), I got on my knees and called baby doggy to follow me.  Yes, all well and good.  Except that now Elise expects me to crawl on my hands and knees at times that I don't need any specific behavior to be her mommy doggy.  You see, the joy of having 6 kids is that this is normally something that the big sisters do with her.  They are sort of her play friends that are always at her disposal.    I have now been drawn into that category and, as much fun as it was, she expects me to jump in and join her no matter what task is at hand. (nursing, cooking, etc)  Once again, it was lots of fun, but once I start getting holes in the knees of all of my pants, will it still be fun?  Luckily, Lilly is quite the crawler, so we try to get her to follow Mommy Doggy, too.  If you come to our house and see my crawling through the house, you will know that baby doggy wanted me to come out and play.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snowed in and loving it

I must say that nothing is better than slowing it down a little, having to stay home and just enjoying the family.  I guess I might not feel like this a week from now, but so far, I'm loving it. Chris commented on my foresight in going grocery shopping, to which I replied, "Yep!  We have enough hot cocoa for the week!"  Who needs veggies, right? Things that were o my list: Gloves for Elise and Rachel, Gingerbread House Kits, Sleds, Hot Cocoa....and a few other, more practical items.  We are getting a ton of snow up here in the hills.  I don't think I've ever had so much snow for such an extended period of time before.  Fun, fun, fun.  (until we need to go somewhere, I guess)

I think that one of the best things about homeschooling is that it is flexible.  We aren't limited by this snowy craziness, the kids can hurry through their school so they can go sledding and they aren't driving me crazy being home....because they are always home.  And when I say hurrying through school, I mean it.  Autumn is my schooler that likes to drag her feet a bit, but she has been getting done by 10 am the past few days!  One more reason to love the snow, right?

*Update: 12 inches and counting.  Definitely more snow that we got in Beaverton

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Silly boys! Trains are for girls!

Yeah!  I just finished Elise's Christmas present and unlike all of my other projects that I want to show you, I can actually post this one.  I don't think my sweet Elise will be lurking on my blog (Unlike the rest of my family) to find out what she is getting under the tree.  Elise loves Thomas.  This all started on a trip to Lia's house, hanging out with her cousin, James, who is one train obsessed kid.  Little did I know that she would soon pass him up on the Train Maniac scale.  Thomas is the coolest thing since sliced bread to little Elise and we can pretty much get her to do anything if we tie Thomas into it.  (Or Percy, or Harold....)  The problem comes up when we try to find Thomas gear that it all is very masculine.  I am alright with buying trains galore, but potty training would be a lot easier if I could get my hands on some Thomas panties. After coming across some Thomas material at Goodwill, I decided to embark on making her a cute little messenger bag and matching zippered pouch to tote all of her Thomas gear in.  Oh, and of course to make it a little girlier than the typical Thomas bags.  Here it is!  Now I just need to make 9 more presents.  How many days until Christmas again?  Uh oh....

The bad news today?  Chloe was looking on Pottery Barn Kids today with me and when she saw the kitchen set, she said "We don't need one of those.  We have one out in the garage that Grandma got when she was here!"  Yep, you guessed it.  I had tried to plan ahead on a group item from a very jolly feller.  Now I am in a little bit of a jam.  Yikes.  At least she said something because I would have hated for her to find out (if you know what I mean) quite this early.  The rush to fix this one should be interesting.  And in the mean time, what do I do with this other...item?  We give our girls 2 gifts for Christmas: the predicatable matching pj's and one other small handmade item.  I hate to ruin that by throwing this bigger item out there since I can no longer "help" a certain feller with his delivery.  Hmmmm.  Do you like my code?

On a side note, I think I need to stop blogging so late.  It makes for crazy talk.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Baby love and other Kangness

Not my baby, but still just as sweet.  These are from a family that I "shot" today. :)
One week old babies remind me of just how much Lilly has grown up.  Sigh.  It is so sad that it goes by so quickly, no matter how much you try to slow it down.  The little feet.  The cute little sneezes.  Yes, Lilly is so much fun right now with her giggling, clapping and standing up all of the time.  Still, a newborn baby is a different sort of  priceless and, no, I am not going to go do anything crazy!  (that was for Chris and my mom....didn't want to freak them out or anything)

On to other life updates:  Elise has slept in her dog house for almost a week now.  (A blanket over the table in her room)  Why do we buy our children beds?  It has made bed time so much easier.  Instead of lots of crying, I simply ask if doggy wants a "backpack ride" and my two year old doggy hops on, barking all the way, saying something about mommy doggy.  Just a few "woofs" later and she is off to doggy dream land.  It works like a dream! Rachel deserves all the credit for this one as she started it.  What a fabulous big sister, I tell ya!  

We are on tooth fairy watch at our house, too.  Chloe has two wiggly teeth and Hannah has her first wiggly tooth.  I have offered to pull out any teeth in exchange for an extended bed time, which has pretty much only made Hannah want me to pull out her tooth every night right around....bed time.  No, I am not a mean tooth pulling mom normally.  They just have these other teeth coming in that are in slightly nightmarish places and I am hoping that this might save us a few bucks on braces down the road.  I know....keep dreaming, girl.  I have a tooth fairy elf now (who finally figured it all out last year) who keeps me in check so I don't forget to deliver any "packages" when these said teeth do finally fall out.  She reminds me that night and will sneak into my room in the morning (after I forget) and sneak everything to...where it needs to be.  Hey, I don't call her my secretary for nothing!  Us moms don't have quite the memory that we used to and with Rachel being such a young spry, she makes up for the memory that I lost. (it did all start with her!)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sister Power

Chris update:  Chris has been back to work for a week and a half now.  He kind of went all out and returned to his normal work week.  I think it has been very theraputic for him to return to work and feel a little more useful. (Although I sure do miss his tutoring help with the girls)  He said that he was able to type at 15 wpm with 100% accuracy yesterday, which I consider huge since a month ago it was 3 wpm with 60% accuracy.  Since he was the fasted typer in town before, he still has a while until he is back to what he considers normal, but I think 500% improvement is pretty darn good.

I had such a sweet sister moment last night with Rachel and Autumn that I just had to share.  Since I grew up with my 3 sisters and plenty of chic bonding, I love seeing the same with my little girls. (Don't get me wrong.  There was plenty of fighting, too!)  Last night I went into Rachel and Autumn's room at 10:30, doing my laundry fairy duties.  They were sleeping in one bed, all cuddly and cute.  As I went to set down their clothes, Rachel jumps up and says "What are you doing snooping around our room?" They both broke out in that uncontrollable silly girly giggling.  :)

Friday, December 12, 2008

I need some serious help!

*this is for my mom, who has been asking me for the last month
 for a picture of Elise's new "doo"

Ok, so Chris might agree that I need some serious help, but this is a different kind of help than he thinks I need. :)  Chris is going to be returning to work next week. He'll be working from home some of the time, but some days will have him eating at work.  Having homeschooled all of our girls from the beginning, I am not much of a lunch packer.  If you add into this all of Chris' dietary restrictions, I am at a major loss.  I would love some help from the audience on this one.   Any lunch packing ideas?  Lunch meat isn't an option. (way to salty)  There can't be a lot of saturated fat in whatever it is and it really needs to be under 300 mg of sodium. (total)  Please help me! 

Today we are taking the girls to an assisted living home to play and sing some Christmas songs.  I figure it will go one of two ways.  I know they will play their piano songs, but when it comes to singing, either it will end up just being the adults singing because of all of the girls are huddling shyly behind me or they will sing proudly and a little bit louder than they should.  (Which is my preferred choice)  I never know when they girls (mainly Hannah and loud and outgoing ones) are going to turn shy on me.  It is somewhat unpredictable and sometimes I wish I had a little shy remote because sometimes I would like for them to be a little bit more shy (and please stop telling everyone our complete family history!) and then there are the times when I wish they would at least say SOMETHING to the person talking to them. (Just a small "hi!"??) Ah, the unpredictability of motherhood!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Crabs and tidepools and cheese, oh my!

Today we took a little day trip over to Tillamook to explore some tidepools, partake of "cream cones" a la Tillamook and of course, pick up some seafood for my starving husband who can't eat most food anymore.  

While Chris was in rehab, my family tried to get out and about with the girls quite a bit.  With us living in a somewhat new and unfamiliar place for them, they sought out what they knew.  This resulted in quite a few trips to...Tillamook.  This was quite evident this morning when I asked Elise if she wanted to go to the beach in hopes of enticing her to get dressed, which she never really wants to do.  I repeated "Do you want to go the beach and see the cows?", to which she quickly responded to by telling me that she wanted cream cones.  I guess Tillamook Cheese Factory made a little bit of an impression on her.  About 10 minutes later, Chris went to the store for a quick compact flash card run (YES, my husband can run errands again!!!) and Elise had a gigantic freak out because she was just positive that Chris was going to go see the cows, the beach and her cream cones without her!

A few hours later (can you tell that we have 6 kids?), we were off.  We made perfect time to enjoy some tidepools (which we've never really done here) near Tillamook Bay.  The girls loved finding purple crabs a plenty, fish, 2 anemones, and many, many shells which were each collected like they were the only shell that my sweet little girls had ever seen.  All of this exploring despite the slight drizzle and cold weather proves that we have become true Oregonians.  That and the fact that we held our own little beach clean up as we left.  :)  Chris maneuvered along the slippery rocks quite well, but he did have an altercation with a rebellious group of barnacles that resulted in way more blood than I personally like to see. (ask my parents about how much that is.  None.  Still not quite as gross as when Autumn got her tongue stuck to her braces the other day.  I was SO grateful that I had Chris at home to take care of that gross moment.)  

Ok.  So here is where I put in writing just how much I love my husband.  I'll preface by saying that he has been extremely diligent with his diet.  He has now lost 20 lbs since his stroke and although he is on a very low dose of cholesterol and blood pressure medication, he has lowered his blood pressure to 120/75 (from 220!!) and his Cholesterol to 139 from 270.  Ok.  Back to how much I love my husband.  I *hate* seafood.  Blah.  Gross.  Yuck.  He loves it.   Slightly allergic to it, but he loves it.  And he can actually eat seafood right now!  So we went to a little shop with very fresh and very cheap crab and oysters.  Dinner for the whole seafood eating portion of our family (everyone minus me) for less than $18.  Here was the catch: First of all, I had to go into this store that stunk to high heaven of this seafood that I hate.  Then, I had to drive in a car that stunk to high heaven of this seafood that I hate.  And last, but not least, my house smells like crab now instead of Christmas trees (which I love) after cracking open all of this seafood for my dear, seafood loving husband who cannot open it when his weak right hand.  Oh....and I haven't gone around complaining either.  I saved it all for my dear blog readers, mainly because I want to turn to this when Chris tries to say that I don't love him.  Here is the proof, honey. :)  I love you more than I love my hands not smelling like oysters. (which is a lot!)  

Sorry, got way off track there.  It was a wonderful day with lots of fun.  It doesn't seem like we have fun outings very much anymore.  It is either a therapy day or a school day.  Today was....a great little family field trip day.  Another cute kid moment from today?  I commented to Chris how crazy it was that we had this nice little haven behind the rocks, among the tidepools while the waves were crashing on the other side.   All of a sudden, Hannah was urging us to leave quickly and was almost in tears.  She was pretty sure those waves were going to come over.  I guess she isn't my dare devil in all things.  

Monday, December 8, 2008

A business idea for some entrepreneur out there

The day after we tromped around Parry's U-Cut for the perfect tree to make the season bright, Hannah (who is a pretty bright little girl) turned to me and asked, "Is our tree fake or real?"  Rachel and I looked at each other and giggled quietly to ourselves before reminding Hannah about the part of the trip where the tree was cut down.  This is when we came up with a brilliant business idea.  A fake Christmas Tree Farm.  It is for that part of the population that doesn't do real trees because of allergies or whatever other crazy reason (They don't like the intoxicating smell of a Christmas tree in their house?), but that still want the experience of cutting down a tree.  They go and choose out their fake tree (in a field of other fake trees of various sizes), cut it down with a fake saw and then tie it to their car to fit in with all of the other cars toting Christmas trees at this time of year.  What do you think?  I think it is a stroke of genius. :)

Here are a few sneak peaks for you, Leigh Anne.  Your family is so refreshing up to my kids.  No chasing Clark down to sit back in the pictures, bribing him with a lollipop.  No telling Cali to stop rolling her eyes for just a few shots.  Will my kids grow out of this or is it just because I am their photographer?  Maybe I just need a better bribe.  Hmmm....  

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Long overdue pictures

Due to a complete lack of brain cells, I never put up these pictures.  They are of our good friend, Wells, who headed up a bunch of guys to put in our sprinkler system....on a very rainy, rainy day.  Ah...if only the heavens had shined upon him as they did on Nike.  Sigh.  What can I say except that we definitely can't call these guys "fair weather friends".

UPDATE:  I have fewer brain cells than previously accounted for.  I can't even find the pictures that I just mentioned, but I really hate to waste all of my typing energy and not post at all, you go. :)  Did having children really eat away at my brain capacity that much?

We'll show those Doctors yet!

After Chris' stroke, we were told that we should probably just sell Chris' newly purchased civic since it is a stick.  They said it would be at least a year until he could drive it. Of course they threw in probably, which I guess means yes to Chris.  He is one determined guy.  On the way home from therapy yesterday, he asked if he could drive the rest of the way home.  I found an empty parking lot (Cornelius Theater is never that busy, right?) and asked him to practice in the parking lot for a little to see if he could make it on a road full of stop lights and traffic.  As I was putting in my little request, he was pulling out of the parking lot.  I guess Chris has never been one to lack confidence, eh?  He drove his car all the way home without stalling (until we were pulling in the driveway) and today.... (drumroll, please!) he drove to Nike all by his lonesome.  Feeling a little like a parent of a teenager, I begged him to call me when all was safe and sound.  I have to day that it gave me goosebumps to hear the garage door open when he came home.  What a warrior.  Sorry, Doctor Friedman.  Chris isn't listening to that can't stuff anymore.  Where there's a will, he finds a way.  

On a slightly different note, the Kangs have finally decked the halls.  We went to this great U-cut (or in our case, They-cut) tree farm that is a hop, a skip and a jump from our house.  Seriously.  3 minute drive.  The very kind owner gave us a flag to tie to our tree, he drove his trailer down there, chainsawed it down and got us all set up.  The best part? (Besides watching Chris take the rugged terrain pretty darn well) We found a tree that had a nest in it and we found a burrow that they think was from a nutria. (Think beaver/rat....yuck!)  Then we sat and sipped peppermint hot cocoa while Ken Parry of Parry Trees did all of the work.  It was great.  Then we had to get that big ole (I am thinking probably 10-11 ft) sucker in the house.  It shouldn't have been that different than every other year.  We always get a big tree and Chris and I carry it in together.  This would be no different, except that Chris would only use his left side.  I always help him anyway, right?  Ok.  Here is confession time.  I am a wimp.  (with a capital "W")  I normally kind of hold up my end, but I have to say our trees are normally a lot lighter. Lighter as in Chris normally does all of the heavy lifting.  I am for show.  Dang it.  Not this year.  Ok, I was still for show.  I am sure all of the neighbors got quite a laugh if they happened to be looking out their windows to see Rachel and I struggling to get our end up, with the stroke victim leading us along.  Luckily, the neighbors couldn't see when we were trying to get it in the stand.  Comedy in its best form. :)  All of the hard work is over for a while.  Anyone want to come by around the end of December to do the tree removal? 

I don't want to start a big green debate or anything, but I am trying to figure this out.  Which is worse?  Cutting down a perfectly fine tree for a month ( smells so stinking good) when the farm will still plant more trees to replace that one and the old one will be mulched/recycled or buying a fake one (to avoid cutting it down) that will some day end up in a landfill and will never be recycled?  Yes, I think I have been living in Portland for too long. I don't think I would have even thought about this 5 years ago. I am inclined to think #2 is worse. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

This session of Driver's Ed is now over.

I have great news for all of those readers out there that find themselves driving around the Portland area from time to time.  Chris will no longer be running off of the road. (not that he ever did, but it sure did feel like he was about to!)  He drove to Nike the other day and drove to a Dr. Appointment (at which they said his cholesterol is looking pretty darn good!  All of that hard work is paying off.) and I didn't feel like we were about to die.  Isn't that great?  I actually felt like I was driving with the pre-stroke Chris, who has always been a much better driver than me.  Of course, Chris tends to be a little on the over confident side (which I think has attributed to his quick recovery) and now wants to drive the civic to his therapy tomorrow.  Yes, his civic is a stick.  I said a big fat no way jose to that one, but he plans on practicing around the neighborhood.  Watch out, neighbors! :) 

Tonight we went the the Light Parade in Forest Grove.  Ah, what a small town experience.  It wasn't fancy and it wasn't even that long.  It was a fun evening for the girls (Minus Elise, who refused to get dressed to leave the house and stayed home with Chris), complete with horses for Hannah.  It was so Small Town, USA and I LOVED IT!  Any more decked out and I don't think it would have worked.  It was the best and I think  I am falling in love with our new little town.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Back to the real world....

Well, we made it home safe and sound.  Physically sound, but the jury is still out on the mentally sound part.  Overall, the girls were VERY good for the 2 day drive from Las Vegas.  The problem is that: A) I still went to Joann's on Friday morning at 5 am so I was way too tired to drive from Las Vegas to Portland  B) Even if the kids are good for 75% of the time, that still leaves 5 hours of crying and craziness. (mainly on Elise and Lilly's part)  Glad to be out of the car, but I do wish we could have stayed in Las Vegas a little longer.  When we got home, Elise ran into the house exclaiming "Home! Home! Home! We're home!"  It warms my heart to see them so happy to return home.  Hannah was saying something about how she missed the smell of home.  Sweet little girls.  I was more like "Yeah!  No more driving in the car for long periods of time when all I really want to do is sleep. "  We arranged the trip around a few fun stops for the girls.  On the way down, our lunch break coincided with Lake Tahoe, which we had never seen before.  On the way back, we arranged a dinner break in Salt Lake City to see the lights on Temple Square.  We were blessed with great weather, no snow and minimal rain.  Here are a few pictures from the trip. (let's place extra emphasis on the word few.  You don't exactly take tons of pictures at a funeral, all though I think you should and I left my camera in the car at Salt Lake City.  Chris says we must not have even gone since we have no proof!)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Off to Vegas we go

Tonight we got the very sad news that Chris' uncle passed away tonight.  We are heading out tomorrow with the whole family to Las Vegas.  In the Korean culture, they do not call adults by their first name because they consider it disrespectful.  Instead, they "number" their aunts and uncles.  This uncle, #1 Uncle, is the relative that sponsored Chris and his parents when they came from Korea.  They lived at his Uncle's for their first year in Las Vegas, and it is #1 Uncle (Also fondly known as jek jek halapoji/ bird grandpa because of all of the great birds he kept in his backyard) that taught Chris that you should only go swimming when the thermostat reads 100 degrees.  (Which he still holds to, annoyingly enough)  It is #1 Uncle that sold Chris' family the cadillac that Chris was driving when we met.  It is #1 Uncle that would shower the girls with treats whenever we would stop for a visit.  I can't remember if it was with Chloe or Hannah (I am thinking it was Hannah), but we went to visit when she was especially shy and wouldn't leave my side for the whole trip.  It took a few minutes for her to feel comfortable around Jek Jek Halapoji and she grabbed his hand and pulled him outside to see his chickens.  On second thought, that must have been Chloe because I am not sure if Hannah was ever shy.  

He was a good man that Chris looked up to as a Grandfather figure that he never really had and we look forward to celebrating his life and supporting his wonderful wife during this hard time.  Off to Vegas we go....time to pack up the kids now.

Consider it an early Christmas present (or something like that)

Man, taking pictures of your own kids is just down right hard.  I really should start taking Chris along to help.  I said that last year, too, but a year later that thought had completely escaped my frazzled little brain.  Having a face that isn't behind the camera is so helpful with kids. Dang.  Next year! I can't show you guys more than one family picture because, quite frankly, wouldn't that ruin the Christmas card if you knew what it was going to look like ahead of time? 

Let me just say that I am so lucky to have any pictures with Elise.  It wasn't a matter of trying to get her to look at the camera or smile (I have embraced the natural, less "posey" style out of pure necessity, but now I prefer a picture of my kids showing their personalities a little bit), but it was simply trying to get her to actually be in the picture instead of 100 feet away from where we wanted to picture to be.  Or trying to get her to sit up instead of laying on the ground, face down.  Or to stop playing in the dirt and getting it all over her face in the middle of the picture.  You know, minor things like that.  Yes, she is two.  Today proved it big time. :)

The story behind this picture?  Elise saw Autumn posing on this lovely tree (Can I just say that Forest Grove is overflowing with great picture locations?) and she decided to pose just like Autumn had been.  After getting a few great pictures of Elise (acting like a puppy next to the tree), I told the girls to pose around her in an attempt to get a group shot.  This is when Elise got very cranky because this was now "her tree".  We decided the girls would sneak up around the tree and peak in to avoid upsetting Queen Elise.  Turned into a rather cute shot, considering what we were up against.  Compliments of Elise and all of her twoness. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fairy Frenzy

While my mom was here this weekend, she taught the kids all about the art of fairy making.
Let me start by telling you that Autumn has been obsessed with fairies for the last two years and I keep trying to sway her towards the more traditional fairy and away from the lovely disney fairies.  Something a little more earthy in nature, maybe?  Yep, these fairies are exactly what I had in mind, but in my little picture of Autumn playing with these "earthy" fairies, I never imagined this great little craft that the girls could whip out on their own.  It is perfect.  Autumn will disappear into the other room, quietly creating her own little world of fairies, complete with their acorn hats and their tiny fairy tree that Grandma provided.  Thanks, mom. 

Chris update:  A day full of therapy again today.  Now that he can walk in the backyard, he has been going out there to help his dad put together the trampoline. (In a managerial sort of way)  Before, he really couldn't go back there because of the sticky clay and unlevel nature of it.  The best thing is that he has been better emotionally lately.  I think the prospect of going back to work and getting back into the swing of things is great for him.  He also has been getting his blood pressure around 120/80 on a pretty consistent basis.   Good job, honey!  He is able to lift 5 lb weights on the right hand. (just a few weeks ago, it was 1 lb)  I think we need to go driving again, since we still haven't gone since last week.  Maybe tomorrow.  Or the next day.  Or the day after that. :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

It's great to be Hannah

Wouldn't we all love to have Hannah's self confidence?  Today Hannah said to my dad "Every family would be lucky to have a kid like me!" and yesterday she told Chris how cute she is.  Well, Hannah, I agree with you on both counts! 

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Wow. You Nike folk rock!

Today was the big landscaping day, with Chris' incredibly kind friends and co-workers.  To give you an idea of the scope of this thing, there were 100 volunteers scheduled to come out today and tomorrow in 4 different shifts.  There was food brought in and two port-a-potties.  Now, to give you an idea of just how organized and amazing it was....they were done in 4 hours.  There were 3 shifts of people that they had to call off.  

To everyone who helped and to those who just wanted to help: THANK YOU!  Chris kept looking outside and saying "We have a backyard!"  (And the typical Chris silliness, telling me how tired he was from putting in the backyard. "I've been working hard on the backyard all day, you know!")  Back when Chris first had his stroke, I remember feeling like I was just being carried by all of the support that everyone was giving us.  Feeling a little numb in the beginning, all of you helped us carry on and survive.  Your prayers and thoughtfulness helped us continue to function.  Today, it was this indescribable feeling to have all of our friends work so hard (in the sun, thanks to a major miracle!) to help us with this mud hole of a backyard of ours.  (Which is now an extension to our home instead)  Thank you.  I am a little tongue tied and just don't know what to say beyond that.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  If anyone wants to see more pictures from Corey, the man who orchestrated the whole thing, he has a ton on his blog.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Preparing me for teenage drivers....

We did a little driver's ed again today, which I think is horrible since I have said since the beginning of parenthood that Chris would be the one teaching our kids to drive.  Cruel world.  After Family Home Evening (or our lame attempt at it), we lured the girls into the car with promises of McDonald's ice cream.  As soon as they were all content with their "cream cones" (as Elise calls them, ever so affectionately), we went to a newly developed and relatively empty neighborhood.  The girls all were pretty giggly about Daddy relearning how to drive, but I sided with Lilly, who started screaming at the top of her lungs as soon as Chris got in the driver's seat.  Amen, sister!  

Tonight, there was a lot less hugging the right side of the road, much to my relief.  Chris was even able to drive with both hands on the wheel without scaring me into my own little stroke.  He learned how to take curves (a must up here in Forest Grove) without jerking and freaking out the wife.  The one time he really scared me tonight, the girls were laughing hysterically and told me that he "did it on purpose".  From the look on his face, I am pretty sure that was not the case, but we won't tell the girls that.  Overall, he did a ton better today than a week ago.  Just like teenagers, I just think he needs practice.  We need to start tracking my blood pressure after these little lessons.  Before we know it, he will be driving to work again.  (And yes, in case you are wondering, driving is doctor approved.)  

Chris has been lifting weights, increasing his weights by 500%! (He started at 1 lb and is now at 5 lbs!)  It has been discouraging for him to feel his arm turn my arms, but today we were able to feel some muscle in there when he flexed.  All of this work is paying off!  I am so proud of his determination and perseverance.  He is one great man, even if he won't let me take his picture.  

Non-Chris side note:  We went to the Forest Grove Library Book Sale today and scored big time.  We got some great classics that are old, but in great condition.  Not only will they be fun to read, but they are going to look so cute on my bookshelf.  I love old books!  When I see them at Powell's, they are in the $30 range.  I was more than thrilled to shell out $.50 a pop.  Cheap thrills, quite literally.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Calling all T-shirts

I was exploring Soulemama the other day and read about her call for baby hats made from t-shirts.  I have been going through our clothes donations and have been picking out t-shirts that I think will make some mighty comfy baby hats, but I was thinking that there might be some folks out there that have possible baby hats (that are still in the form of t-shirts) that they might want to share with us!  If any of you have t-shirts that are dying to become hats or that just may need a vacation (to Haiti), please let us help them fulfill their wildest dreams.   My little women and me are anxious to start on this fun project and would love to adopt any of your homeless t-shirts!  Thank you!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Baking Marathon for the Nike Folk

Seeing as next week is the big landscaping day(s)  with all of Chris' amazing coworkers from Nike, I thought I should get baking.  So far, we have 3 batches of no bake cookies, 3 batches of snickerdoodles and Chloe and I just finished mixing the chocolate chip/ oatmeal cookies and the scotchies. (2 batches each)  Chris has even been single handedly monitoring batches and making sure that your cookies will not be too toasty or too doughy.  Yes, you may be wet and filthy dirty, covered in clay next week, but you will be enjoying some mighty tasty homemade goods from the Kangs.  Ok.  It doesn't even begin to pay you back for the great feat you are about to perform, but I will keep trying.  Let me know if there are any other favorites that you would like to see next weekend! (I already have rice krispy treats, raspberry shortbread and sugar cookies and ranger cookies on the queue. Any more requests?)  We are so grateful to you all for your help and support!  Thank you!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Dear Lilly


Oh how I love you. You are the sweetest, happy go lucky baby that our family has every had.  Just one question.   Do you ever plan on sleeping again?  I am not trying to threaten you, but we've never had to let your big sisters cry themselves to sleep until they were at least 10 months old.   This is the way it is supposed to work.  You nurse to sleep, I lay you down and sleep.  Not for 10 minutes.  Not for 15.  Normally, you should sleep for about 2 hours.  I would even be happy with 1.  Do you realize that you didn't sleep for more than 5 minutes all day long yesterday?  

I do realize that this is partly my fault.  First we lived in the townhome, with no bed for you.  Then we moved into our house and couldn't find the hardware to the crib.  I didn't mind because we just cuddled you all night long.  Then daddy had his stroke and I really enjoyed having you in the bed so I wasn't all alone.  Plus, you are so nice to cuddle.  Daddy is home, we have a playpen until I locate those elusive crib parts and I think it just might be time.  It is this recent all night long buffet and constant waking up that has me sleep deprived and writing this letter to you, begging you to....sleep.  Please?  Can we sleep today?  Just a little longer than 5 minutes?  I don't know how you are so happy on such a small amount of sleep, but I really do think that you will enjoy getting more sleep.  Really.  Trust me.  Please?  Maybe you could start by choosing one.  You could sleep during the day a little or sleep through the night?  Consider it a compromise of sorts. 

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Low energy day

Whenever Chris is having a rough day, he calls it a "low energy day".  This pretty much means that  it is going to be a tough day in some aspect.  Sometimes it means more of an emotional type of energy and sometimes it is just  plain old energy that he is lacking.  The other day he was stumbling through out the morning as part of this "low energy day".  Well, today was my low energy day.  It was more of an emotional day.  Day is a little inaccurate, as it was really more of an evening thing.   But it was definitely low energy.  I am very glad to have kids in bed and have some winding down time. (Is blogging while nursing Lilly considered winding down?  Sure!)  A "Blah" day would be the best way to describe it.  Or maybe a 3 Diet Vanilla Pepsi day.  (Although one of those was spilled all over Elise when she tried to sneak it, which lead to lots of tears because she spilled on her favorite Rocket push toy.  "Rockie wet!" )  Enough about me.  Chris has learned to tie his own tie.  I think this is out of pure desperation.  Rachel and I both didn't prove to have much in the way of mad tie tying skillz and as they say, necessity is the mother of invention.  That is your homework, blog readers out there. Try to tie your tie one handed.  (With your wrong hand, none the less!)  Report back, okay?

We ran across this great book this week (Thank you, Soulemama),  The Apple Pie that Papa Baked.  The illustrations pull you in, the well written style  has all of the kiddies hanging onto every word, memorizing the book in a few readings.  All of that AND the fact that it is fall and this book embodies one of our family's favorite parts of fall, apple picking.  Run and get it from the library. (Or your bookstore, since I do have the library's copy)  Did I say that I love this book?  It is up there with Apples to Oregon, my other apple book of choice.

Elise's new game with the girls should be titled "I am the boss of you big sisters!"  She likes to tuck in Rachel,  pretend like she is the mommy (sitting in her rocking chair, singing, with her feet in the massage chair, which I never actually have time to use) and say "Go to bed now!"  when Rachel dares to get up.  It is pretty stinking cute.  It is even more fun when Rachel sneaks out of "bed".  I quietly say "Elise, where is Rachel?" and she quickly gets up from her comfy chair, looks for Rachel and herds her back to bed with a "Come on.  Go to bed now!"  It is hilarious.  I think I need to set up a nanny cam of sorts to catch mommy Elise in action.  Can you imagine how boring life would be without kids?  Thanks for the entertainment, Lisey. 

Dusting off the camera

Long, long ago, in a land far away....I used to take pictures.  Today I got to play with "Miss Kylene" and her family.  Thought I would put a few up here for a preview. 

This little Piggy: Part 2

Yeah!  Chris had increased movement of his toes tonight.  He can scrunch them up now.  An interesting note: When Chris is trying to do something with his right side, you can look at his left side and see by what that side is doing how hard he is trying and what he is trying to do.  When he scrunched up his toes, his left toes and fingers were working SO hard.  (It is actually pretty fun to see what he wants to do by looking over at his left side. )  What we've learned is that some movement is better than none because that movement only gets easier as time goes by.  Who knows?  A week from now, it might be a whole lot easier to scrunch up those piggies.  Also, he ate his corn with his right hand tonight and the hand to mouth movement wasn't nearly as strained as it has been in the past.  

So, you all know about Nike's incredible plan to landscape our backyard on the 15th, right?  Well, about a week ago, we got a message from a friend of ours offering to put in the sprinkler system before the Nike gang came over.  I think he used the word easy in his message, but after a very long day with a bunch of friends from our old ward, I would hardly call it easy.  I think it belongs on an episode of  "Dirty Jobs", personally.  Here is a picture of these great friends, working in the rain.  Thanks, guys!

Friday, October 31, 2008


Halloween, ah, sweet Halloween.  It is always fun to prepare for, but I am always a little glad when it is over.  Tonight the Kang girls turned into (in age order) a 50's waitress, a garden fairy, Dorothy, a cowgirl, a very unhappy puppy and half a seal.  Sounds like all of the ingredients for a fun evening, right?

Here is a summary of all of the drama of Halloween.  It started with Autumn.  I was trying to finish the top to her fairy costume when it tore in a pretty bad spot.  Like any good mom, I spent the next hour trying to convince her that wearing a tshirt with her fairy skirt would be just fine.  You guys thought I went to the store to buy more fabric, didn't you?  Nope.

 During this time, Elise decided that she didn't need a nap.  This is very important because it made a very big impact on the rest of the evening.  I was busy with Autumn and just let it slide.  Halloween means candy, candy makes Elise happy and my end theory was that she would be happy without a nap just because of the candy.  Wrong, mom.  The nap, or lack thereof , led to Elise refusing to get in dress up, or any dress (she was in just a diaper) to go trick or treating.  After trying to persuade her to get dressed in any costume or clothes for about an hour, I put her doggy costume on while she was kicking and screaming.  We immediately took her to the front door for some mock trick or treating.  As soon as that first piece of candy kit the bucket, all was well.  Its kind of like piano lessons.  I have Autumn  take piano because SOMEDAY she will be glad. (right??)  I force my 2 1/2 year old to get dressed up because I know that she WILL like trick or treating.  And I was right.  See, Autumn?  Someday you'll thank me. :) (Connecting  trick or treating to piano.  Wow.  What a stretch!)

We went around the neighborhood with our new neighbors, who have a daughter Rachel's age. (yeah!)  It was beautiful weather and the kids have enough candy for a mouthful of cavities.  I guess the evening was a success, eh? Oh...and by the way, Hannah's horse is "Strawberry" because of the horse's mane.  "Everyone will know I am a cowgirl because it is OBVIOUS!" (insert teenage face) After ringing a door bell with her fingers covered in chocolate, she told me that we should pretend that it is mud because cowgirls have lots of mud on them.  Gotcha, Cowgirl Hannah.  I sure will be sad when she gets out of horses.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

This little piggy....

Chris is trying to backseat blog right now.  Sigh....those stroke victims. :)  Today he was able to wiggle his toes!  (Not individually, but team work makes us happy, too.)  

We had our family field trip to Chris' therapy today and it went....moderately well.  The girls did some of their school in the waiting room and probably would have lasted a lot longer if it weren't for that two year old of ours.  Good ole' Elise.  She is.....very.....two.  She is SO lucky that she is silly and cute.  I forget why she was even crying in the waiting room, but all I remember is that we ended up walking to the other end of the hospital and watching Handy Manny.   Then we took Chris to acupuncture and hung out at Powell's.  Autumn stayed with Chris so she could see him get poked.  (Silly Autumn!)

I decided that I don't like Powell's anymore.  Ok, I like them.  But I don't want to.  All of the other bookstores give homeschool discounts, but not Powells.  They gave me some lame mumbo jumbo.  I like them, but not because I want to. :)  Sorry for the scatter brained blog.  Going on very little sleep today.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

In the right place at the right time

Wow.  Tonight, Chris and I went to a meeting at our church that was just for adults.  We left all of the kiddies minus Lilly Lu.  It was an inspirational meeting and I found myself hearing many messages that I definitely needed to hear, but the most important message of all came after the meeting.  We were heading out to our car (I forgot the handicap tag, so it was a normal spot.  This makes it hard for Chris to get in if a car parks next to us) and saw that someone had parked next to us.  Chris commented that I might need to move the car when we discovered that the guy walking behind us was the owner of the car.  He asked if Chris would be able to get in and then asked if Chris had suffered a stroke.  We had never met him before, but found out that he had a stroke when he was 37.  He talked to us for quite a while, giving us many words of wisdom.  It had been 10 years since his stroke and he was completely normal.  His best piece of advice?  When someone tells you that you have recovered as much as you can, that just means it is time for you to work harder.  Just last night, Chris was really struggling over this exact thing.   

Some might call this a coincidence.  Not me!  That we would happen to park next to another guy who suffered a stroke at a young age and would be an inspiration, after a very tough day yesterday, is nothing short of a miracle.  I love this talk about the tender mercies of God and this was nothing short of Heavenly Father reaching out to Chris to give him some extra support.   I feel so grateful to this man who was willing to talk to a perfect stranger and really comfort him.  I think of us, as parents, watching one of  the girls learning to walk.  You are standing there, hovering over them, trying to let them do it on their own, but waiting to step in.  You them to do as much as they can, but you are ready to jump in and pick them up as soon as they fall.  I envision God doing the same thing.  Watching Chris go through this (cheering him along), but ready to send in "extra troops" like this man when Chris starts feeling overwhelmed and defeated.  I feel very grateful tonight.  

Side note: The other point that this nice man emphasized was that he wished that he had thanked and appreciated his wife more.  I just wanted to get that in writing *just in case* Chris might not have been listening. ;)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Business of sorts

A lot of people have been asking, so I thought I would just blog it all.

First of all, everyone and anyone is more than welcome to come out on the 15th and 16th of November to help the Nike team with our backyard.  People have been asking for more info, but what I can tell you is that if you come, the wonderful people orchestrating this whole thing will put you to work.  It is BYOSAW (Bring your own shovel and wheelbarrow), but we can't wait to see everyone.  

Second item of business: People want to know when they can come visit, so I thought we would put some scheduling on here.   Chris has therapy on Tuesday and Thursday this week.  That leaves Monday, Wednesday and Friday open for playdates. :)  I really appreciate all of the great friends that have been keeping him company and just breaking up the monotony a little.  I think I get a little boring after a while, eh?

We bought our quarter of a cow today for this great farm in Corvalis.  The great part of it all was that the owner brought it up here for me and gave us a pretty great deal.  I can't wait to try some low fat, grassfed beef.  Yummy.  This really opens up a lot of options for Chris since he is a red meat sort of guy.    Although he enjoyed our sushi night, I don't think I can drive to Beaverton for octopus and squid that often.  If there are any die hard sushi lovers out there, let me know and we can have a sushi night at our place!  (Ok, maybe not die hard.  I am new to this whole Sushi thing!)  I was going to take a picture of my sushi art, but I thought I would get a little better at it before I show it off. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Blogging Quickness

Ok...super fast blog before going to bed.  We have therapy at 7:45, which wouldn't be quite so bad if we weren't in Forest Grove and if I didn't need to help get Chris, Lilly and myself ready by 6:45.  Ugh.  

My mom is going home tomorrow....sigh.   I know it is time to get back into the real world, but I am a little scared.  I am sure it will all work out.  Really. :)  Time to have some Dream Dinner lovin'.  Chris' mom flew home tonight, which will start a round of Chris hating his food options again.  It subsided while his mom was here because she is a master of all things Korean, which in general, is healthy food.  We will have to work on my Korean cooking skillz so Chris doesn't get desperate and walk to Burgerville.  We decided that Chris loves Korean food, but that most American food that he likes is very, very unhealthy.  Ahh....I will work on the Korean cuisine.  We've been married for 11 1/2 years, so I guess it is about time that work on it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A weekend in review

The girls are back and life is a little busier, thus the lack of blogging.  For those of you that are thinking of having more than 2 children, I am all for it, but I would recommend taking it one at a time.  (Or maybe even two, but don't go from 2 to 6.  It was a little bit of a shock to the system!)  The best way to describe it is joyful chaos.  It is definitely a little bit louder around the house, but it just feels like home again.  How heartwarming to see all of the girls run in the house and immediately hug and kiss on Lilly and Elise.  

Thanks to some busy work from my brother in law, Chris has some new rehab toys at the house that allow him to be working even when he isn't in therapy.  I will take some pictures tomorrow to show off Chris' new tricks.  He went on a walk with me today and we actually made it pretty far.  The last walk we took didn't get us out of the culdesac (about a week and a half ago).  This time we went about half a mile and he made pretty good time.  I have noticed him having more stamina throughout the day and he seems to always sneak in therapy here and there.  

A few new things I have learned that I thought I would share:  Grassfed beef is extremely good for you!  You can buy a 1/4 of a cow  for a small fortune, but it ends up being about $4 a pound for a whole variety of meat.  It not only has less saturated fat than normal meet (10 g fat vs. 2.5 g fat), but it has a ton of other great nutrients that are good for your cholesterol and general heart health.  Sodium is in everything.  I have always thought we had a pretty low sodium diet because we aren't ones to sprinkle salt on our food or in our cooking.   (I still remember my brother in law gasping in awe when he found out that we didn't have a salt shaker)  Unless you are cooking from scratch or searching out low sodium prepared food, you are probably eating way more than the recommended 3000 mg of sodium a day. (2400 mg for people like Chris)  Third and final note for today:  Stroke recovery is all about hard work, good attitude and working your affected side even when it isn't easy.  The easier route isn't the route that will get you better.  

Side note:  I have been awful at returning emails.  I am very sorry and hope to eventually get back to all of you.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I heart Nike

Did I tell you that I love Nike?  Yes, I've always like their shoes.  I have kind of....resented Chris' devotion to the company over the last 4 years, but most people don't realize that this started a long time ago.  I remember going to buy shoes as newlyweds and trying on reeboks.  Chris told me that his Nikes last him forever and the only pair of reeboks that he had fell apart within a month.  That is where it all began.  

Fast forward to now.  Nike has been an amazing company to work for. (Yes, I don't work for them, but when Chris is happy, I feel like they have been amazing to me)  With the family friendly environment that they foster, Chris has been more involved in our day to day activities while working at Nike.  He babysits for all of my doctor appointments, sometimes taking the kids himself.  He takes the girls to piano every Monday morning, which has been a bonding time for them and a great stress taken off of my shoulders.  None of these things would have been ok with his past employers.  So they are great, but why the increased love of all things with a swoosh?    It all started on September 15th.  The day after Chris' stroke.

As soon as the word was out, we were surrounded by their support.  Yes, it was the people, not the company, that showed us so much love.  But I just don't know how to separate the two.  All of the lunchtime visits from coworkers.  All of the phone calls and support from Human Resources.  The flowers, the gift baskets, the cards.  But then the biggies.  The things that are amazing friends, amazing people and just an amazing company.  The month of dinners from Dream Dinners blew me over. (which are so delicious, by the way!)  Now Nike has done it again.  These amazing friends and this amazing company are putting together this amazing (have I used the word amazing enough yet?) landscaping project in our backyard on November 15th.  Being in a new house, our backyard is clay nothingness.  Not so great for kids that want to play, not so great for our HOA's deadlines for installation and not so great for Chris to be walking in, much less landscaping. 

Some friends from work came to us with a few ideas to coordinate the kindness overflowing from Nike.  When they mentioned landscaping, I told them that grass would be great just because it would fulfill the HOA requirements and we could add stuff later.  Next thing I know, we are hearing things like port-a-potties, slate patio, trees and other things that make me feel very grateful, but very overwhelmed with that gratitude.  They are talking food tents and lots of people working in the rain.  Wow.  Did I say amazing yet?   When they do something, they do it big.  I just am so grateful that not only does Chris work for a company that is supporting him through this recovery and VERY emotionally trying time, but that he works for a company that is full of compassionate people.   So this is one of the many things that makes me heart nike.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What goes down must come up

Okay, it is a little backwards, but tonight Chris was able to lift his ankle.  He can move it down and move it right back up.  So very important for walking.  Yeah!  

Can I just tell you how much respect I have for Chris?  The guy just doesn't give up.  We have decided to have Chris eat one meal a day with his right hand. (Thanks, Betsy!)  He was able to grip a spoon yesterday and was already to try this out at breakfast time.  He was hungry.  We got out the big handled spoon and the handy bowl that won't slide around.  (Which Elise was positive was HER bowl)  For some reason, he couldn't get his hand to make a fist this morning.  I am a little new at this, but we tried a few different positions, yet there was still not enough of a fist to hold onto the spoon.  After a few tries and him reminding me that he was quite hungry, I reminded him that we could do the right handed meal for lunch or dinner.  Maybe the grip would come back later in the day, right?  Nope.  This would not do for Chris.  The same guy that sat on the couch for an hour trying to lift his ankle would not give up.  Once Lilly woke up, I went to the other room to get her.  I could hear him say "Two bites!"  Every five minutes or so I would hear him add another tally.  It took him an hour to eat his breakfast with his right hand, but he conquered.  I would have switched to my other hand 10 minutes into it.  Not Chris.  And this is why his neurologist is wrong.  He doesn't realized that Chris isn't going to accept a 95% recovery.  He will spend every waking minute working until he is 100%.  Just wait and see, Doc.  This guy has determination.

Monday, October 13, 2008

How time flies

It has now been a month since this whole saga begin.  Today a month since we brought Chris into the hospital and tomorrow a month since he had the full on stroke.  The way I can remember this and not remember any appointments we make?  Tomorrow, Lilly is 6 months old.  Wow!  And I remember being in the hospital as this was all taking place, with everyone asking me how old she was, and saying, "Oh! She is 5 months old today!  Chris, you shouldn't be having a stroke when your daughter is 5 months old!"  So, a month later.  Where are we now?

In therapy. That is the short of it.  I have to say that today I feel more in control of everything than I have before.  We met with a good friend whose daughter has cerebral palsy and worked on a different type of therapy (Conductive Education) that basically works your brain more than the muscles.  Making a long story short, she is helping us do exercises that work Chris' right hand instead of teaching him how to do things with his left hand.  

With it being a month since all of this craziness began, I want to thank all of you for your help.  Thank you for visiting Chris and for keeping his spirits up.  Thank you for supporting us and the family, in matters practical and spiritual.  Thank you for reminding me that we are surrounded by such wonderful, caring people who have good hearts.  I would definitely be in a nut house if I didn't have all of you out there helping us through this.  The last month has been a month of growth for our whole family, but it is really just the beginning.  We have a long road ahead of us, but I really feel like all of you are just carrying us down the road. us a ride in a cushy car.  Thank you for all that you have done.  You Oregonians rock. (And those of you outside of Oregon, I guess!)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hannah is 5!

Thank you for all of your suggestions.  This one, a horse made of cupcakes, won on the merit that I didn't need to buy ANYTHING for this.  I didn't even need to leave the house to make it.  Hannah loved helping me make it, which reminded me of her 2nd, 3rd and 4th birthdays.  Hannah sitting on the counter, eating frosting and "helping" me make her cake.  Some of my best moments with Hannah are when she is helping me.  She loves being at my side while I am doing anything.  She was so enthralled with her gifts that she was ready to skip eating the cake all together. (sidenote: we made the cake with egg whites and applesauce.  Don't ask about the frosting, but Chris didn't eat it. Surprisingly tasty with applesauce)

We sent the older kids (Everyone minus Elise and Lilly) up to my  mom's house for the next 4 days.  I really struggled with the decision just because I feel like the kids really keep Chris busy and happy.  I am hoping it works out ok.  He already has gotten a little down with them being gone a few hours.  We'll cheer him up yet.  

Chris has had a good week for his hands.  He has been able to move all of his fingers and lift his wrist.  For those of you who haven't seen Chris, I thought I should expound on finger movement.  When he has finger movement, it starts out where you can barely see his finger move.  Although his finger is making this very slight movement, Chris' face looks like he is lifting 100 pounds.  The most frustrating part for him is that sometimes he feels like he is lifting 100 pounds, but there is actually no finger movement.  
We feel so excited that there has been movement in all of his fingers and that the wrist is finally starting to remember its job!