Thursday, June 30, 2011

A worthy cause

I know that there are tons and tons of worthy causes out there, and I wish I could contribute to all of them, but I'm just not that rich. However, when I came across this family's story yesterday, I felt compelled to donate their cause. 

This is the Grimshaw family and Rob has stage four cancer. It's an extremely rare cancer called epitheliod sarcoma and Rob is one of only eight people diagnosed with this cancer in the past 15 years. Because of this, there is very little research available and treatments are all experimental. Unfortunfately, since the treatment is experimental insurance won't cover the cost of the treatment. This is Rob's only chance of survival and he will die without this treatment.

Here is a picture of Rob's arm. The tumors are breaking through the skin, causing sores. I can't imagine how much pain Rob must be in.
I don't know the Grimshaw family at all, but I do know a worthy cause when I see it, so that's why I thought I'd mention it on my blog. I lost my dad to pancreatic cancer when I was 14. I know what it's like to grow up missing a father, but I was blessed enough to at least have my dad until I was 14. The little girls in this family are only 8 and 2, so they need their dad.

I know that it's hard to part with your money, especially with the economy the way it is, but if you have a few extra dollars to spare, I know this family could really benefit from your generosity. Click here to donate (there is a donate button on the right side of the page) and to find out more. (And if you need further incentive to donate, there is a giveaway with a prize valued at $400 that you can enter if you donate. Click eighteen25 blog for more details.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Something wonderful happened to me last night, but unfortunately it was only a dream and I woke up feeling disappointed. I was talking with one of my friends yesterday about something and it was no doubt part of the reason I dreamt this particular thing. I find dreams SO fascinating! Here are a few thoughts about dreams/dreaming that I want to share. Let me now if you can relate do any of these things:
  • Do people from your past – someone you haven't thought about in ages ever pop up in your dreams? (It might be a former teacher or classmate or someone you used to work with or babysit.) It could be someone you knew from just about anywhere that you haven't thought about in a long time. Sometimes I wake up after dreaming about someone long forgotten, and I think, "Whoa! Where did they come from?!"
  • Do you ever dream about someone you've never even met…real or made up? I have. I have had dreams where there might be a "character" who is someone I don't know. It makes me wonder how I can dream about someone I've never met, although I'm sure a dream expert might say that they represent someone. I've also had dreams about real people that I've never met. Anderson Cooper, for example. (And yes, I was truly asleep and not just daydreaming!) ;)
  • Do you ever dream about someone who is dead? I dream about my dad quite frequently. I know there isn't anything so strange about dreaming about a loved one who is deceased, but what IS weird is when my dad has just "come back to life" after being dead for more than 12 years. That's what seems so weird!
  • Do you ever dream that you are fighting with someone, and you actually feel angry with them when you wake up, even though you know you were just dreaming and they've done nothing wrong?
  • Sometimes I wake up from a dream, but when I fall back to sleep, I get sucked back into the same dream. Sometimes this happens three or four times where I keep going back to a dream, even when I've woken up several times during the night.
  • I think it's interesting when you're having some sort of nightmare where someone's chasing you with knives or when you're  involved in a war/combat-like dream.
  • It's also interesting how vivid a dream can be and how you remember it when you wake up, but the longer you're awake the less you remember. 
  • Everything always seems to make perfect sense in your dream, but when you wake up you realize that whatever it was you were dreaming about could never happen!
  • I'm usually not paralyzed in my dreams, but occasionally I am. I might be desperately trying to do something that I know I should be able to do, but my body won't cooperate, just like my real life paralysis.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Blessed beyond measure

I know I haven't written as much the past week or so, but I tend to get writer's block from time to time. Fortunately, it usually doesn't last too long, though, before inspiration strikes and I think of a new topic to write about.

I've had something on my mind the past few weeks that I'll write about today. The Lord has blessed me in so many ways, but especially physically. I can't tell you how many health problems paralyzed people are prone to, but I can honestly say that I don't suffer from the majority of things that most quadriplegics do. I've been paralyzed for 7½ years, but I don't have a problem with things like chronic pressure sores, UTIs, etc. Sometimes I wonder why I'm so blessed, especially since I know other people in my situation that suffer physically and emotionally on a daily basis. I don't have an answer to the "why me/why not me" type of question, but all I can do is put my situation in the Lord's hands and let him do the rest. He takes good care of me.

I was recently paid a compliment that I wanted to write about since it's along these same lines. A man that I know from church (who is a nurse) told his wife (who told my mom) that he's never seen someone who is paralyzed as severely as I am who looks as good as I do so many years (7½) after being injured. I really hope I'm explaining this in a way that makes sense.  Maybe this will shed a little more light on why I was so pleased to hear this.

After breaking my neck at the C-2 level and becoming paralyzed from the neck down, one of my worries was that I would never again look normal and that I would take on that "stiff" disabled look that high-level quads tend to have. (Think Christopher Reeve.) 
Sometimes it's hard to see the bright side of things when I think of my body and know I'm not completely satisfied with the way that I look. However, when I look at the situation objectively, I DO think I look pretty good for someone who is completely paralyzed, so I try not to be so hard on myself.

There are two things that I attribute my relatively healthy situation to. I've already mentioned the first one – being blessed by the Lord, but the other is being blessed to have good people to care for me. The two that do the most care for me are my mom and my youngest sister Chandra. What would I do without these angels who make my challenging life so much more bearable?! I'm so grateful for my loving family and friends in general, but especially for these two amazing and selfless women! 

Here's a picture of the three of us: (Several people have asked me who my "friend" is in the pictures that I post on my blog. Well, she's actually my youngest sister, Chandra. She's adopted, obviously, and I'm so glad she is because she's a major part of my life! I just wanted to clear that up since a lot of people have asked, and I'm sure there's even more who have wondered, but didn't want to ask!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Stuck up or shy?

I've always been a pretty shy/reserved person and it definitely takes me a while to warm up to people when I'm in a new situation and when I meet new people. Because I'm shy, I've been mistaken for being stuck up  before. This wasn't the case, of course, but people who didn't understand my quiet and reserved ways judged me wrongly. Although this was hurtful at the time, it was something I'm glad I went through because it taught me to keep an open mind when I meet someone new and they might not be super warm/friendly. I know from personal experience that they might just be shy. Just something to keep in mind!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Birthday recap

Yesterday was my birthday and what a lovely day it was! It was so nice that my birthday fell on a Sunday since Sundays are even more relaxed and low-key than normal days. My youngest sister Chandra is a working girl and works full-time (and usually works at least 50+ hours a week), so that means she's gone A LOT. If I had it my way she would quit her job and hang out with me all day, every day, but that won't pay the bills…! Anyway, Chandra is always off on Sundays, which is nice because it's fun to have a day set aside each week where I can count on the fact that we can just spend time together.

Back to my birthday. My family and I went to church in the morning, and then my sister Laura, her husband Brett and their baby came over for dinner. I come from a large family, but my four older sisters all live hundreds of miles away, so it's usually just the six of us (my mom, younger sisters Chandra and Laura, brother-in-law Brett and baby Amy) that get together to celebrate special occasions. Our family friend Paul also came over for dinner as well and it was great to see him since it's been several months.

My mom always makes a special dinner in honor of the birthday child. She asked me what I wanted this year and I told her what I really wanted was biscuits and fresh fruit because biscuits are one of my favorite foods and I dearly love them. However, since I know most people wouldn't consider that an actual dinner, I decided to go with scones and fresh fruit, and my mom also fixed a meat and cheese tray for everyone else. For all of you who are wondering what a scone is, it's similar to a biscuit, but sweeter, depending on what kind of scone it is. (They were white chocolate cranberry – so good!)

After dinner was over we did presents and cake which is always fun and makes for a good photo op!
My sister Laura made my birthday cake this year. It was an ultimate chocolate lovers cake with chocolate butter cream frosting and bittersweet chocolate ganache. The sweetness from the cake and butter cream frosting combined with the bittersweet chocolate ganache was amazing!

Chandra always makes me a homemade card each year and I always look forward to it. Here are a few pictures of her showing me my card and holding it up so I can read it. Then I posted a picture of the outside and inside of the card. Yes, that is a soft pretzel on the card! I absolutely love soft pretzels, although I rarely eat them since they aren't the greatest for you. One day Chandra and I were flipping through a magazine and I saw the picture of the pretzel. I jokingly said something like, "You can glue the pretzel in my birthday card." And she did! Anyway, I thought the message was so sweet, so I took a picture of it (with her permission) and I'm posting it here as well. (If you're wondering who Ponsi is, that's our nickname for each other. Inside story, don't ask! ;) )

Here are some of my favorite birthday presents. Peanut Butter Snickers– LOVE them!
iTunes gift cards – a perfect gift for me since I love to download audio books. (Boy, can they be expensive?!)
My friend Lacee gave me this, and I love it:
Pink! I absolutely love the smell of this lotion and body spray:
A gift card to The Cheesecake Factory:
Gnomeo and Juliet. I love this movie, especially because all of the music comes from Elton John's songs:
Peanut butter Bugles. So good! (These are just snack bags, but they look huge in the picture!)
A new hummingbird feeder. I'm really excited about this because it's the kind of feeder that suction cups to the window. I had one several years ago and I loved having hummingbirds come so close to my window, but then it broke in a thunderstorm. I've been searching for a new one ever since then, but I hadn't been able to find one that actually attaches to a window. I can't wait to put it up!
My grandparents sent me some money and I'm buying a movie I dearly love: Father of the Bride (part 1 & 2 both come in the same DVD). Although I've watched this movie over and over, I still love it and laugh every time I see it!
Paul gave me a Wood Wick fragrance diffuser. I first became acquainted with these several years ago when I saw one at my sister's house. I loved it because every time I would go past it I would catch a whiff of it. I love things that make my room smell good, so this is perfect!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Super Saturday

This is my birthday weekend, so I decided to go to the movies today with my younger sister Chandra since she was off work. (She is the best movie buddy ever!) They are so many good movies out right now, so I decided to see a triple feature. That's right, three movies! I feel sort of silly in a way since I spent more than six hours at the theater watching movies today, but I just enjoy it so much. I can't tell you how many hours I've spent at the theater in my life when you factor in all the movies I've seen, in addition to all the hours I spent working at the theater back in the glory days before my accident. (I worked at the theater at least 25–35 hours a week for three and half years.)

The first movie we saw was Green Lantern with Ryan Reynolds (absolute hunk!). Next we saw X-Men First Class which was my favorite movie of the three we saw today. It's really good. As I've said before, I love comic book movies, so these two were right up my alley. Finally, we watched Super 8. This was a disappointment and I kept nodding off in it which was okay since I wasn't really into it. Sci-fi and alien movies really aren't my cup of tea, but I didn't know that's what this movie was about before I saw it. Plus there was quite a bit of language in it. In my opinion language just spoils movies and I cringe every time I hear a bad word, or when the Lord's name is taken in vain.

Two superhero movies + one called Super 8 = a super Saturday at the movies!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Aging and wisdom

One thing about life that we all have in common is that each of us get a little bit older each day. Here are two thoughts that I have about aging, one good and one slightly depressing. I'll get the depressing thought over with first. I have to admit that physically aging is something that really scares me, especially now that I am paralyzed. It's hard enough for me to imagine aging, but throw in the fact that I'm severely disabled and I start to sweat just wondering what is going to go wrong and when. I'm just bracing myself for the inevitable breakdowns and repairs that loom in my future.

A bright side to aging is that the older we get, the wiser we get. I definitely feel smarter now than I did 10 years ago because of the little things that I pick up every day. I think my mom is so smart. She seems to know at least a little bit about everything! My mom says that she thinks her mom (my grandma) is the smartest woman she knows. They are both super smart and I hope that I keep accumulating little bits of knowledge so that one day I will be as smart as they are.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tooting my own horn

I want to share an experience that happened on Monday. My sister Laura comes over several afternoons a week to help my mom with my afternoon routine. Laura brings my 10-month-old niece Amy with her, and I love being able to see her so often because she is learning new things all the time. She's crawling like a champ these days and has also started cruising around and pulling herself up on any thing that she can grab onto. On Monday my mom and Laura were in the kitchen talking and Amy was on the prowl. She came into my room and it wasn't long before she had pulled herself up to a stand on my entertainment center.

If you know me, then you know two things about me: 1) I'm very particular about my things because I like everything just so and 2) my room is definitely not baby proof, as I've got lots of pretty things here and there that are breakable. It wasn't long before Amy had pulled something onto the floor and there was a crash and the sound of broken glass. Amy had pulled a candle holder onto the floor and one of the glass panels broke.

My sister Laura felt really bad and apologized profusely. I told her that although I really liked that candle holder that my mom had bought me for my 19th birthday, I loved Amy more, so it wasn't a big deal. I honestly didn't feel mad even for a second. Things are just things and it's not worth crying over spilled milk.

Who could be mad at this little lady?!

"Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet"

 My mom and I finished reading a book together this morning that was really good, so I wanted to give it a shout out on my blog. It's called Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford.

Here's a summary of the book that I found online: "In the opening pages of Jamie Ford’s stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol. 

"This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry’s world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While “scholarshipping” at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship–and innocent love–that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept. 

"Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel’s dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family’s belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice–words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.

"Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart."

The book had a little bit of a slow start, but it was hard to put down once I got into it. This book would make a great book club selection because it's an interesting story and it's clean and doesn't have any questionable content in it. I highly recommend it!

Takes a licking and keeps on ticking

Yesterday I had an appointment with my cardiologist so that she could check my cardiac pacemaker. I had an EKG and everything looked good. The "gas gauge" on my pacemaker is running down since my pacemaker is more than seven years old, so I will need surgery next year to switch out my pacemaker with a fresh one. I don't use my pacemaker very often at all anymore like I did after my accident, but it's a nice insurance policy to keep my heart beating at a steady pace; between 60 and 120 bpm.  I'm glad my ticker is still ticking away!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fun to celebrate

This past Saturday I had a small get together with a few of my friends to celebrate my birthday which is quickly approaching. I invited six of my friends over, so there were 10 of us total including my younger sisters Chandra and Laura, Laura's husband Brett and me. I wanted to keep things low key and easy, so I just decided to order pizza from Pizza Hut and have ice cream for dessert. We played a few rounds of Buzzword before and after dinner, but we basically just spent most of our time visiting with each other. It was great to catch up with some of my friends that I haven't seen in a few months.

I didn't get very many decent pictures, but here are a few:
 I didn't get a picture of the pizza until it was almost all gone:
 Gotta love Blue Bunny ice cream. Monster cookie and peanut butter panic (my favorite!):

I'm grateful to have such nice friends to celebrate with.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Piece of cake

This morning my mom and I went to the dentist. Most people dread going to the dentist, but I actually look forward to it because it's always been such a pleasant experience for me. Our dentist, Dr. Farmer, is a family friend and I've known him all my life. One of Dr. Farmer's catchphrases is "piece of cake" as in "relax, no biggie, there's nothing to fear, you're in good hands."

I got a clean bill of health – no cavities. The only cavity I've ever had was in one of my baby teeth, so I don't really count that since it fell out long ago. I feel pretty proud of the fact that I've never had a cavity in any of my permanent teeth. Every time I go to the dentist I always worry and think, "Is this the year that I get my first cavity?!" Thankfully, cavities aren't something that I've had to face yet, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time before I get a cavity or need some other dental work done.

I have a couple stories about the dentist from my childhood. First of all, I was a serious thumbsucker when I was a kid! My mom was determined to break me of that habit when I started kindergarten, and one of the factors that really motivated me to quit was because my dentist, Dr. Farmer, promised me 10 rings and 10 necklaces if I quit. (You know the toy rings and necklaces that dentist gives out to their kid patients?) I finally kicked the thumbsucking habit and earned my rings and necklaces. My mom even bought me a jewelry box to keep my treasures in. It was a velveteen rabbit jewelry box that said "love makes you real" on top. I still have the jewelry box, but the rings and necklaces are long gone!

My other dentist story is that my family would always stop for ice cream at Ted Drewes after going to the dentist each summer. (Ted Drewes is an ice cream place in St. Louis that is famous for its frozen custard.) I have fond memories of our tradition of stopping to get concretes after our dental visits.

This year there was no ice cream, but a "piece of cake" of another kind. Cheesecake! My dear sister Kristin gave me a gift card to The Cheesecake Factory for my upcoming birthday. There was a sweet note attached to the gift card that said, "Since I can't be there for your birthday and make you something delicious myself, here's a lesser alternative that's still good." My mom and I stopped by The Cheesecake Factory on the way home and each picked out a piece of cheesecake to take home for our dinner. I picked Reese's peanut butter cup cheesecake and my mom picked chocolate coconut cheesecake. We both shared each other's cheesecake, and I honestly couldn't decide which one I liked better since I love peanut butter and I love coconut. They were both wonderful! Thank you Kristin for such a wonderful birthday gift!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Forces of nature

Have you noticed lately how the world seems to be in upheaval? Forces of nature are so powerful and I'm just in awe of all of the natural disasters that have taken place in the world in recent years. Earthquakes and tornadoes, hurricanes and tsunamis, floods and landslides, wildfires and volcanic eruptions, blizzards and avalanches, etc. The world is not at rest, and it seems like natural disasters are becoming much more frequent and it's really frightening to think about how your life can drastically change in a matter of minutes. One minute you're house can be standing and the next minute it can be leveled to a pile of rubble by a tornado or earthquake. It just reiterates the fact that we are living in the last days and that these are some of the "signs of the times" that are talked about in the Bible. Scary things are to come, I'm sure.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

New Testament: check!

One of the things I like to do each day is spend a little time (between 15 and 30 minutes) reading scriptures, talks from the leaders of my church and other uplifting things. This past January I decided to start the New Testament and I finished this morning. Although I've read a lot of the New Testament before, this is the first time I've read it cover to cover, every verse of every chapter. I love reading about Jesus Christ and his personal ministry. I have to admit that so much of what I read goes over my head and I wish I understood everything better. I guess that's the point of reading, though, so I can learn a little more each time I read.

I think the themes that really stuck out to me and that I found the most comfort in, are that we all experience suffering of one kind or another at some point in our lives, but all of the pain and suffering that we might experience is only for a small moment in the eternal scheme of things. Life seems really long and hard at times, but I know that if I live the best life I can and try to overcome all, one day I will live in heaven with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Dirty politicians

Last Friday there was a story on 20/20 about John Edwards. He has been indicted because he "allegedly" used campaign funds to cover up his affair with Rielle Hunter. I don't know how closely you follow politics/the lives of politicians, but John Edwards had an affair several years back, and he fathered a child with the woman he was having an affair with. The affair eventually came out into the light, and I remember watching an interview where John Edwards adamantly denied that the child in question was his. Well, the truth always has a way of coming out, and John Edwards is in fact the father of his mistress' child. (Did he really think he was fooling anyone?)

I'm getting so sick of wealthy, powerful men thinking that they are entitled to "having their cake and eating it too" just because they are "rich and famous." Whether you're a  politician, actor, sports figure, or just a "normal" person, it doesn't matter! If you're married, then you're MARRIED and should adopt a strict "hands-off" policy in regards to other people! I know that infidelity is not something that's exclusive to wealthy, powerful, "rich and famous" people, but those are the stories that you hear about on the news that make you shake your head and wonder what are they thinking?!

You know the sort of men I'm talking about… I like to call them losers because they do something stupid and end up losing a good thing. (So yes, I intentionally picked pictures where these men were photographed with their wives. Jesse lost Sandra and Tiger lost Elin, and I'm sure it's only a matter of time before Arnold loses Maria.)

Have you heard the latest news about Anthony Weiner? He's been a US representative since 1999, but last week he got caught up in a scandal when he allegedly sent an inappropriate picture to a female via Twitter. He adamantly denied sending the picture and said that his Twitter account had been hacked. The truth came out this afternoon and Anthony Weiner admitted that he lied, and did in fact send the inappropriate picture. He also admitted to having several inappropriate relationships over the internet with women before AND after his marriage. (He hasn't even been married a year.) I just feel badly for his wife since she just announced that she's expecting their first child. Another politician goes on the "loser" list.

Above is a picture of Anthony Weiner admitting the truth and giving his teary apology. This definitely isn't  someone that I want representing the country!

Feeling lazy

I felt lazy this past weekend, and there were several contributing factors. First of all, I've been trying to get over a cold that I must've picked up from my nieces/nephews that had colds when they were in town visiting last weekend for my family reunion. I've had a bit of a cough/chest congestion for the past week that makes it difficult to breathe. Sometimes it feels like there's a brick on my chest, or like I've been running outdoors on a cold morning. (Do you know the feeling?)

Another thing that contributed to my laziness was the heat. We set a new record high temperature of 98°F (that's about 36.6°C for all of you Celsius folks!) in St. Louis on Saturday. That beat the former record high temp of 97° that was set 100 years ago in 1911. In the afternoon  I started feeling extra warm and feverish, so my mom took my temperature and it was 101.5°, so that helps explain why I felt so hot and lethargic.

Plus, I was bored. My sister Chandra had to work this past Saturday so we weren't able to go out shopping or to the movies like we usually do. I guess it was just as well, though, since I wasn't feeling very chipper. Usually I don't mind staying at home when she's working because I like to get on my computer, but I know I'm not feeling well when I don't have the desire to blog!

Yesterday I was able to do something really special. We had a special conference at church where one of our general leaders from Utah was in attendance. It was Dallin H. Oaks. This probably doesn't sound like any big deal if you are not a member of my church, but he is an apostle of Jesus Christ. Most people think prophets and apostles are just people that existed in biblical times, but we have a modern-day prophet (Thomas S. Monson) and 12 apostles, just like there were prophets in ancient times (like Adam, Moses, Noah, etc.) and 12 apostles in Jesus' time (like Peter, James and John). It was wonderful to hear the talk that Dallin Oaks gave and to feel the wonderful spirit that was present during the conference.

My mom called my doctor this morning and she called in a prescription to help my chest congestion and cough, so hopefully I should be feeling tip-top again soon! I hope so because I don't like it when I feel lazy, tired and lethargic because that's definitely not me.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

More family fun

I wanted to write a little more about my family reunion and post a few more pictures of the fun we had together.

Lots of time was spent in the kitchen either preparing food, making desserts or cleaning up messes. I don't think the reunion would've been near as fun if we didn't have yummy food to enjoy.

   __There was lots of time stories and games:

   __Here are some of my other favorite pictures from the reunion:

My 10 month old niece Amy even got her first French-braided pigtails. Chandra is really good at braiding, but it was difficult, even for her. The braids turned out pretty well, but they didn't last. At least we got a few pictures while they were nice.
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