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! 

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Shame on me!

Shame on me!  With Chris feeling a little down over the past couple of days, I forgot to mention the good news!  Chris is now getting a little bit of movement from his thumb and his index finger.  Up until now, it has just been his middle finger that would move.  It takes a lot of work, but before he was doing all of the work and getting no result.  Yeah!  As his OT said, it is easier to build on a little movement than to start from scratch.  

Today was a better day for Chris.  I think it is because he got to eat sushi for lunch. :)  He has been wanting some sushi for quite a while and with his diet being very restricted, sushi is a great treat.  We also got Chris a little acupuncture and he met his new OT. (Occupational Therapist)  When the therapist said " are doing great!  We will get you back to normal in no time!", Chris remarked that he liked him a lot more than his neurologist.  I feel like attitude is such a major part of recovering from a stroke.  The big factors that I read about on the web (Because, as Chris likes to say, everything you read on the internet is true) was attitude and depression.  I can see this already.  If you let your attitude get negative, the depression starts to seep in.  Then you don't feel like working so hard on rehab.  Visious cycle, I tell you.  Not at the Kang house.  These silly  girls aren't going to let it get sad for a moment around here.  Kids definitely make the ride more fun.  

Speaking of kids, Hannah is turning 5 on Friday.  For those of you who don't know Hannah, she is our spunky one.  She is our first one to kiss a boy.  Agh.  I already have gray hairs from that one.  The big thing about Hannah that she tells everyone right after introducing herself is that she LOVES horses.  In fact, we were watching Opportunity Knocks tonight when she said "If we were on here, they would ask me what you put on a horse before you ride it.  I would say 'A blanket and saddle.  Duh!'"  Yes.  She is only 4 and talks like a 10 year old.  Luckily for me, we had all of her presents bought before this whole stroke thing came.  She asks me what I got her everyday and everyday I say the same thing.  "Nothing to do with horses because I know that you HATE horses!"  (Which, in fact, is a complete lie.  Everything we got her has to do with horses. )  So here is where you guys come in.  I was going to do horse cupcakes, but I can't find white circus peanuts for the head.  Any suggestions for a horse type cake/dessert that I can "Wow!" Hannah with?  (Maybe a cool enough treat with make her forget about that dinner that I promised her that is now history?  Buy off the 4/5 year old.  That's my plan!)  All I have right now is sticking horses in cupcakes.  (Which I did last year.)  Any creative ideas?  Easy creative?

Monday, October 6, 2008

When life gives you lemons....

sometimes you need a few moments to complain about their sourness.    Right? 

It was one of those days for Chris.  Poor guy.  I think it was a combination of things.  The first real day without any physical therapy for Chris, combined with the transition to home.  A good neurologist appointment, but with the neurologist still telling Chris that he will never be 100%.  Being hungry, but not getting those foods you are so used to.  Lots of things to remind you of those new limitations that you have.  Stressing about finances.  Being tired just from sitting in piano lessons.   I am hoping tomorrow goes a lot better.   School starts at Kang Academy and we have a new teacher on staff.  I think that will help a little.  Maybe?  

Hannah is sick now.  Chloe is better.  Any bets on who it will be tomorrow?  Still throwing airborne at everyone.  I had to give the girls baths tonight, but Chris was feeling a little down.  I really didn't want to leave him to his own devices so I asked Rachel to play skipbo with him to keep his mind  busy.  From upstairs, I hear Chris hysterically laughing.   Hysterically.  Turns out that Chris is a lot more susceptible to tickling now.  He reminds me of my little Rachel.  Once you get her laughing, you can wiggle your fingers at her and she will roll on the floor in laughter.  It was out of control crazy.  I tried to get everyone to drink their airborne, but Chris and Rachel couldn't stop laughing long enough to drink.  I was a little like Mary Poppins, trying to get those silly people off of the ceiling.  It was the happiest Chris was all day so I am not complaining.  I'll wipe up airborne you spew across the room in laughter if that is what makes you happy.  (No, not for any of you out in the blog world.  Just for my beloved family.  Anything to make them happy.)


Most of the day yesterday was spent with Chris playing "Sorry!" with the girls.  They have finally decided that they can beat him without being mean to their beloved patient.   Chris also has been arm wrestling with his right arm to work up some more upper arm strength.  The upper arm is where his strength is right now, but it is still bad enough that my mom can beat him. :)  I am sure he will be back to beating all of us before long.   He can make a better fist now!  Soon he will be able to release the fist also.   Keep up the hard work, Chris!

Around noon yesterday, Chloe started crying and told me that her brain hurt.  I went to pick her up and she was burning up.  The rest of the day was a lot of holding my cuddle bug ( a nickname she got when she was 1.  She could still have you cuddle her all day long!) while she threw up, putting a wash cloth on her head and giving the rest of the family lots and lots of airborne, in hopes of stopping the germs at Chloe.  Chloe just woke up.  More details later.  

Saturday, October 4, 2008

home, sweet home

Well, Chris is home at last.  It is nice to have him home again, but I think Elise (2 years old) has been the most excited.   I was telling Chris that the saddest part today was how happy she was when she saw him.  Let me expound on that. :)  To me, how excited she was when she saw him showed just how sad she has been for the last 3 weeks without him.  It makes me sad that she was without words to express this and that she has truly been suffering without her parents.  She has followed him around everywhere, holding his right hand.  Chloe sat down to cuddle him and Elise told Chloe to go sit on my lap and hopped on his lap.   For all of you parents that hate changing diapers, it turns out that you can...actually miss that.  Chris is 100% excused from diaper duty, but as soon as Elise had a poopy diaper, he insisted on changing it.  He said he might need some help (one handed diaper changing?  Scary stuff.) and Elise got mad that grandma was actually trying to help.    She wanted this to be between her daddy and her.  These are just some of the things that we miss when they are taken away from us.  Chris carefully made it upstairs to tuck in all of the kids last night, which was nice since that was one of Autumn's biggest fears.  (That daddy wouldn't be able to tuck her in at night)  

Chris is getting lots of practice with his speech and walking.  I have to kind of remind him to not walk too much as I see his leg start buckling under him.  I think we need to work out some sort of therapy schedule everyday to work on his arm since he isn't having daily therapy now.  They say that one of the biggest "no-no"s is to forget about the affected arm.  If you aren't trying to do stuff with it (even though it might be harder), your brain is less likely to find new ways to use it.  We'll work on that, but in the mean time, it is nice to have our family back together.  

Friday, October 3, 2008

The big day

Well, tomorrow is the big day.  We are so excited to get the family all together again.  It is definitely time, as Elise is officially breaking down. She spent a lot of today crying, which makes me SO sad.  Going from your mom being home too much to just about never is tough stuff.  Plus, she has always been a major daddy's girl.  I think it will be tough for her to not be held all of the time by Chris.  She definitely needs her parents at home again, just as much as Chris needs to be home with his girlies again.  

I have to say that I am a little nervous about him coming home, as much as I am very excited.  There is the diet that I need to worry about, the making sure he doesn't fall, helping him get better without him getting stressed, making sure Hannah doesn't knock him over....little things like that.  This is kind of the second phase to this whole stroke business so there will just be new things to get used to.

We got the bed ready today, a house cleaner came and cleaned up (thank you, Lia!) and my mom went and bought lots of yummy healthy food for us.  Do you know how much sodium is in prepared food? (Canned veggies, soups, etc)  You shouldn't have more than 3000 mg a day and a serving of soup is normally around 800 mg.  Wow.  Pickles?  Some have as much as 1900 mg. Crazy stuff. 

Rachel spent the afternoon with us at the hospital.  She got to see Chris do his Physical Therapy and then we spent some time playing "Be mean to Mom".  She figured that since dad is in the hospital, she should join forces with him and beat me at any game we play.  Luckily, I am not the competitive type.  I acted like I cared just to make it more fun for them.  It seemed to work.  Picking on me seemed to cheer Chris up quite a bit.  Shame on him. :)