Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!  This year, I didn’t do anything “fancy” for a costume, but I did get to finally do a long awaited costume that I keep asking to do: doctor/patient.  To me, it’s such an obvious & easy thing to do!

Mark has been out of town a lot lately, which makes things a bit crazy for me, cuz I have to then be in charge: Which wouldn’t be a big deal, if I could just “step in”, but I can’t, so instead of doing what I usually do, I type a lot of schedules & texts, in order to find & coordinate people to not only help me “be me”(get up, get dressed, potty, & do therapy), but also find people to help w/stuff Mark does (like make meals, transport kids, etc.).  The schedules are necessary to keep it straight in my head, & I also use them to help me to more clearly communicate with those who are helping me.

On the bright side, one of the girls who helps me, scrapbooks a lot with me, so since she has been here more often, I have posted a lot of new traditional scrapbook pages that I made for Jessie (& I copied some of them for Zach).  My favorite page we made is a “tradigital page” (meaning it was partially made digitally, as well as traditionally).  It has the most awesome photo, & I have been wanting to scrapbook this photo since the day I took it, but I could never find the embellishments I wanted…so, I finally just made my own embellishments—which  I couldn’t have done 15 years ago, so I am so glad I waited to do this page!:



I posted several new traditional baby book pages for Zach & Jessie, as well as one of the few pages I made for Zach’s missionary album that I’m keeping:

My son, Zach, is serving a mission for our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in san Diego, CA for the next 2 years. He can only call home on Mother’s Day & Christmas, & he can only email us on his P-Day (“preparation day”, for him, is on Tuesday, every week), which is his “day off” to grocery shop, do laundry, run errands, & “have fun” (usually play basketball, I think!).   The rest of the time he is sharing the gospel & the message of Christ, often in ASL.  (If u are ever interested, there is a link to get a free Book of Mormon, which is what he is sharing as well, on the right hand side of my blog).

My youngest, Sophie has never been sure of the career she wants…I remember her feeling distressed in elementary school, cuz she wasn’t sure how to dress for career day…I suggested “a mom”, & was so proud of her for doing it!  Maybe something sank in that day, cuz last night, Sophie had a choral concert.  In the program, it listed “empowerment statements” by the show choir.  I was touched by Sophie’s, that said, “I want to be a loving mother.”  Sophie just rolled her eyes when I told her that I loved her empowerment statement, but motherhood is the most important job a girl can ever have, yet now-a-days, it is ignored, & they all want these fancy professions instead!  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for learning & knowledge (I was a teacher, for crying out loud!), & I love that girls believe that they can be in male-dominant professions!

The concert was to support breast cancer, so when the sponsor was speaking, & mentioned some of her favorite empowerment statements, I thought for sure she’d mention Sophie’s…but she didn’t, & it made me so sad to see how little motherhood is valued now-a-days!  Some of the girls even were chosen to shout out their empowerment statements in one of their songs…Of course, Sophie wasn’t one of them!

I am thankful that I was raised in a way that I could see the nobility behind the calling of motherhood, & I am grateful that my daughters have recognized it as well (my middle daughter, Jessie, has always wanted to be a vet, but not at the expense of being a mom).  I am thankful that my son is sharing the gospel with others, which also teaches of the nobility of motherhood!  & finally, I am grateful that when all was “said & done”, two things remained after my stroke: my free agency & my family (mother/wife).

How’s my memory?

My son left on his mission this week ( — the “about me section is old, but the rest has been updated), & if we are Facebook or Instagram friends, u may have seen a post & a scrapbook page I made about it!  I am often asked about my memory now-a-days.  It is 100% in tact, but when I had my stroke, while I did not loose my memories, it is like the “bridge to memory land” was burned…so many of my memories are triggered.  Luckily I’m an avid journal writer & scrapbooker.  I never dreamed that I’d profit by doing these things, but I have!

I am in the process of re-reading my old journals, & it has been an interesting process. I began writing just because I was told to, & became more frequent a writer because I wished that my anscestors had kept journals, so I had a connection to them, but since they hadn’t, I decided to keep mine for my future posterity… I thought that was it. But as I re-read things, I can see the Lord’s hand in my life 20 some years ago, preparing me for people & events in my life today!  & as I read, I feel that my stroke was no accident!

Scrapbooking provides me with the pictures that accompany the stories I write about.  (& if u like to look at my scrapbook pages, I added some new pictures of traditional pages I have recently made for Zach & Jessie).  Pre-stroke, I slowed down on making pages that might involve more than 1 kid…I wasn’t quite sure how to do it until scanners became so big in the scrapbooking world, & now that “the stars have aligned”, I have worked on finishing Zach’s baby book, & then I did Sophia’s baby book–I had never scrap booked my baby book for Sophia, the one kid who scrapbooks & would appreciate a scrapbook.  (Soph has seen her book & seen Zach & Jessie’s nearly finished baby scrapbooks, & though she has never said a word, it has always bothered me that her scrapbook wasn’t made!)  Now it’s Jessie’s turn…

After my stroke, I tried traditional scrapbooking on several occasions, but often felt discouraged or frustrated unless I “dumbed it down.”  It’s just so hard to explain the picture in my mind!  So I was thrilled to discover digital scrapbooking, cuz I could do my hobby without any help or need to explain the “picture” in my mind, & it was only up to my own abilities to see “my picture” come to pass!  However, I still had all those pages I had organized to do.  My mom gave me a glimmer of hope: she began scanning all of my scrapbook supplies & preparing them for me to use on digital pages–a huge job (which I appreciated SO much, cuz I’d been trying to do it myself, but with my double vision, it took me hours to do what should take me minutes, & I couldn’t see me scrapbooking traditionally very much in the future, so I might as well use what I had bought!)  That took care of everything after the year 2004 (when I had my stroke), but I still wanted to somehow traditionally scrapbook at least Sophia’s baby book.  I decided to give Angie a shot, anticipating to really “dumb it down”, since she doesn’t scrapbook.  But, boy, was I in for a surprise!

I don’t know if Angie just thinks like me, so she “gets” the picture in my head, or if it’s cuz I don’t allow myself to fully form a picture in my mind, so I’m not disappointed (I have been working on my OCD & anxiety, & it helps if I don’t let my OCD take charge) or if it’s both: But I will give Angie a basic idea, then just let her do her thing, & tell her to “make it  awesome”, & she does exactly what I’d do! ( For example, when Sophia was a baby, I came up with an  idea for a Cracker Jack scrapbook page, so pre-stroke I scanned all the stuff from a Cracker Jack box, & kept the wrapper–yes, I held onto that trash for 12 years!  The idea was a fuzzy picture now & I wasn’t sure how the page would work, but I did my best to tell Angie my jumbled thoughts, & then she said she’d find a way to make it happen!  The page she made is exactly how I would’ve made the fuzzy picture clear in my mind!)  Additionally, since I had journaled about the things I was scrapbooking, I could scan it, & still include my handwriting on the pages!

In  the past it wasn’t necessarily the people who helped me that made it harder, I just have evolved in 2 major ways:  1.  I’m a control freak, & I’ve needed to learn how to let go, realizing there are more ways than 1 way to do things, & the other ways may even be better than my way.  2.  My stroke affected my ability to process & use words well to express myself.  It didn’t take away my ability to communicate, just “slowed it down”. (For example, when I think I’ve written a post, I wait about 24 hours, so it can “stew”/process.  Usually I think of corrections &/or additions.  Often, I recall more “colorful” words, fill in the “blanks,” & re-arrange things to make more sense).  However, I don’t have time to process when someone is helping me that instant!   I’ve given in to that, which has been easier to do, since my helper just happens to have the talents & abilities that have helped me to evolve!

My 10th stroke-a-versary

10 years! Wow! A lot has happened…here are some highlights of the last 10 years–Some of the things listed below weren’t “achievements”, but highlights (like seeing Donny Osmond in concert):

Journalling on the scrapbook pages:

“The eyes are the window of the soul” Mary Anne Radmacher

• I’m alive, after a nearly fatal brainstem stroke in March 2004.
• In April 2004, I began showing voluntary neck movement to my right, & by May, I could move my right thumb and came home from the hospital at the end of the month.
• In Sept. 2004, the LDS (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day saints) prophet, President Monson wrote to me.
• In Sept. 2004, I started to develop significant movement in my right arm, so in Nov. 2004, with the help of several ward members, I went to the temple for the 1st time post-stroke.
• In Sept. & Oct. 2004, (this was a huge deal), I started to fingerspell & use a modified sign language, instead of blink spell.
• By Nov. 2004, I had gotten rid of all my tubes (trache/breathing tube–August, catheter—Sept., & feeding tube—Nov.).
• In Dec. 2004, I was the proud owner of my 1st power wheelchair!
• On New Year’s Eve I received my 1st calling/volunteer job (in the LDS church) post-stroke, as co-teacher with Mark as the teacher of the 8 year olds (Zach’s CTR8 teacher in primary).

“When life hands you lemons, always ask for sugar.” Anonymous

• In Jan. 2005, I start doing knee bends w/help (someone pulls out my knees, & I stand up) while at a 75 degree tilt on the tilt table.
• In Feb. 2005, a friend from church taught me how to watercolor.
• On March 14, 2005, I posted for the 1st time on my website. Mark had introduced the computer about 5 months earlier, but it took that long to have the strength & ability it required to feel capable of posting.
• In March 2005, if I don’t think about it, on occasion, I am able to produce word sounds.
• April 2005, saw my long time “love” (Donny Osmond) in concert.
• In May 2005, I was introduced to digital scrapbooking.
• In June 2005, I moved to a warmer climate, where we were building an accessible home (which we moved into in Dec. 2005), & MK assumed his role as my primary caregiver & a full-time dad w/o help.
• In July 2005, I started playing the piano again, 1-handed.
• In Aug. 2005, I started moving my left shoulder (where there has been absolutely NO movement since my stroke).
• In Sept. 2005, I was asked to be co-Activity Day Leader at church, where I taught the 8-12 year old girls at church through spiritual activities.
• In Oct. 2005, I started a digital scrapbook class
• In Nov. 2005, I made 3 pies from scratch (apple, ice cream, & pumpkin)!

What are some of the most valuable lessons our parents have taught you?

I would have to say that one of the most valuable lessons I have learned growing up is to work hard and to never give up – try and try again. Or, as the little blue engine would say, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” Even when the going gets tough, or when you are too shy to try one more time… you aren’t allowed to give up — things always seem to work out in the end if you have faith, say prayers, and believe in yourself. I learned this through tough experiences in my own life where mom and dad helped me to continue on, no matter how hard it seemed. I also learned it by watching them through their examples and their trials and happy times in life. There is nothing so strong of an influence to a child as a parent’s day to day actions.

“I am always doing things I can’t do, that’s how I get to do them.” Pablo Picasso

• Feb. 2006, I discovered that I have PBA (which is why I laugh/cry uncontrollably).
• Around June 2006, I started music therapy, & can grunt vowels–I cannot yet say stuff on the spot or if I am asked to say something.
• In June 2006, I began my current website/blog.
• Sept. 2006, I could stand &, if I was held right, I could walk in the pool.
• Oct. 2006, I took aquatic (swim) therapy.
• By Oct. 2006, I have reduced the number of times I need to be turned at night to once at night.

“Achievement—only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Robert F. Kennedy

• Feb. 2007, my new, & current, website began.
• March 2007, all my kids are beginning to understand my ASL
• In May 2007, I met the presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.
• Aug. 2007, I was asked to be the Ward Historian, & keep a record of what we do, at our LDS church.
• In Oct. 2007, I was a presenter at an international doctor conference in Cleveland, OH.
• I was published in the April/May 2007 issue of Simple Scrapbooks Digital Scrapbooking magazine.

“All things good to know are difficult to learn.” Mary Anne Radmacher

• Feb. 2008, I figure out that I can suck through a straw!
• In the spring of 2008, I was called as an Asst. Ward Music Chairperson, & find special musical numbers for the Sunday Meetingin our LDS church.
• In July 2008, I started to play the recorder & increase my breath support.
• In Sept. 2008, my article “Primary Songs Blessed Me,” was published in the Ensign, a church magazine for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day saints.
• In Oct. 2008, the LDS prophet, President Monson wrote to me again, & actually remembered me!
• In Dec. 2008, I performed in a church play, as the angel Gabriel, who announces christ’s birth.

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” Walt Disney

• In Feb. 2009, with the assistance of a computer program, I finally can read all of my own emails (instead of waiting to have them read to me), regardless of the font size!
• April 2009, I touched the top of my head while sitting!
• May 2009, I blew out a candle.
• June 2009, though I’ve done it on rare occasions since 2005, now, even if I am not sitting “exactly right,” I am able to use my right arm to pull myself so I can lean forward & sit back up.
• In Nov. 2009, I was asked to monthly teach the 12-18 year old girls at church

“The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it.” Epictetus

• March 2010, I independently feed myself a whole meal, without using an arm support.
• April 2010, I start being capable of caring for my left hand.
• In June 2010, I spoke to the 12-18 year old girls at the LDS church girls’ camp.
• In Dec. 2010, I rode 2 rollercoasters at Disney World: “Tower Of Terror” & “Aerosmith’s Rockin’ Rollercoaster.”
• Again, in Dec. 2010, I performed in a church play, as the angel who announces Christ’s birth.
• About Dec. 2010, I started smiling with booth sides of my mouth, using the muscles on the left side of my mouth!

“The flower that blooms in adversity, is the most rare & beautiful of all.” Mulan

• Jan. 2011, I can now say most of the alphabet, many words, & several phrases.
• In Feb. 2011, while casually reading an email from my yahoo stroke group, I find that I was published in a British Medical Journal, as an example of how attitude can affect us, & to show that there is life after stroke…here’s an excerpt:
“…the ability to speak was powerfully predictive of happiness, the researchers found. The odds ratio for having happiness scores of 0 to +5 was 20.47 (95% CI 1.89 to 221.45) among respondents who indicated they could say words or sentences.
Another factor that may help patients maintain a positive attitude is mental discipline, as indicated by blog posts from a patient with locked-in syndrome since 2004.
The patient, an Indianapolis woman whose name is given as Jennifer Ann Lynn, developed the condition at age 30 following a brainstem stroke. Her husband started the blog almost immediately, but Lynn herself began contributing in 2005. She regained some hand movements and was able to control a computer as well as an electric wheelchair.
She also regained some speech ability, but in a post from December 2010, she explained that whispering and shouting were still impossible.
But, Lynn wrote, “I don’t usually let myself think that, [because] it’s dangerous. It’s a matter of perspective: I can’t think, ‘I wish …, I want …,’ or dwell on what I can’t do.”
• In Aug. 2011, I went in the ocean on a family vacation to Destin, Florida.
• Although I’ve been capable of writing short things since 2005, as of Oct. 2011, my handwriting has become more legible & I can write more!
• In Oct. 2011, I was written about in an observation by Jack Rushton, a man I greatly admired.


“Blessings come in disguise. And challenges can be a blessing.” Actress Diane Lane

• In April 2012, I gave myself the bread & the water (I’ve been doing just the bread since 2010), without any help, during the sacrament for the 1st time since my stroke!
• In May 2012, I was interviewed & videotaped by Mormon Messages, & in Sept., I literally had 15 minutes of fame in a Mormon Messages video on you-tube.
• Sept. 2012, one of the greatest blessings in disguise: my falling off of a curb in June resulted in a hospital trip, which directed me to a doctor who gave me medicine for my PBA!
• In Dec. 2012, I was published in a Fortune magazine article, with my dad.

“God has equipped us to do just what He wants us to do?When God gives an assignment, it comes with His enablement.” Dave Branon

• As the year progressed I began to have enough control over my eyesight that, while double vision remained, by the fall of 2013, I could read smaller font, & books on my mini iPad.
• Throughout this entire year, I really grew in my speech capabilities, so I was now able to say more complex & intelligible words & sentences, & often be understood by others.
• In March 2013, I was given a new calling as compassionate service leader, helpingorganize service with the women (18 years old & up) at church
• As of Sept. 2013, I’m finally independently feeding myself for every meal in our home, & most meals when we go out.
• About Oct. 2013, I start doing knee bends on my own while standing straight up on the tilt table.
• In Nov., I started equine therapy, & went horseback riding! Within 6 lessons, my trunk support was at least twice as strong!

“Anyone who says it can’t be done, is usually interrupted by someone doing it.” Anonymous

• I was published in the Jan./Feb. Issue of LDS living magazine
• In February, I met Elder Oaks, an apostle of the Lord, from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day saints.
• As of March 2013, I start having conversations & recieve help from people who don’t know ASL, but understand me just fine