Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hello VNS

Last month I had my first grand-mal since the previous November. Almost made it a year. Missed it by a month. Oh snap.

The partial seizures that I still have 1 to 3 times a week are no fun, but there is absolutely nothing, NOTHING, neat about a grand-mal seizure. Nothing neat about losing control of your own body, not being able to do a single thing about it as it jolts you around, convulsing painfully, smacking you into things, making you come in and out of consciousness only to wake up not being able to move even your little finger. Nope, not neat at all. Even after having several the last few years (side note: they have become MUCH more infrequent, and I have it so much better than others with seizures) they still put me in a deep slump for a few weeks following. I still get a little panicky whenever I sit in the computer desk chair where I was when I had it. It is also where I am sitting now...

This last one was the worst as far as bodily harm goes. (Pretty great that I haven't had any serious injuries with any of them!) I came out of it with a shiner and a very painful shoulder. I had landed on it and couldn't change position at all to alleviate the pain. The first thing I said to the friend who was the first person to get there was to please roll me off this shoulder! The pain was still interrupting my sleep a couple days after the fact so we went in to get it checked out. Mostly I wanted to make sure that there wasn't any serious damage that I would make worse by trying to use it. They took a few x-rays and determined that there weren't any broken bones, just some serious muscle bruising.

This was one of the x-rays. It features my lovely VNS device. I think it is neat that you can see so much detail in it. It's number, the different parts of the battery, the wire as it loops around making its way up to my vagal nerve and even the little clasps that attach it to the nerve. Pretty neat, huh?

There is still absolutely nothing neat about a grand-mal seizure. I would be quite delighted if I never had another one It was however, neat to see the device that until then I had only felt just under my skin.

Hello VNS.
Nice to finally meet you.
I wish it had been under different circumstances.
We really shouldn't meet like this again.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Jane had a Birthday!

Our sweet, not so little, bundle of joy has turned 2!

I took these pictures the morning of her birthday. It was just like any other morning but it seemed like a good day to document her bed head and the enthusiastic way in which she jumps into the day.

Charlie and I had practice for his first church primary program in the morning, so Keith took Jane on her very first daddy-daughter date. :)  She won't remember it, but Keith will.

She loved opening her presents. Toddlers have enthusiasm for opening paper enclosed packages that I have never seen matched. Charlie, on the other hand, enjoys opening things to see what is inside. It was a win win that way; Jane loved opening them and Charlie would play with them. She has since enjoyed the actual presents themselves, but at that moment it was all about the paper. And yes. That is Christmas wrapping paper. We are just that cool.

I made the same cake this year as I did last; pumpkin cake with pumpkin spice glaze. (Yes, it is every bit as good as it sounds.) As long as I get to choose this will be her birthday cake every year. She sure enjoyed it! least until she intentionally began pressing her little thumbs into it and almost instantaneously realized what she had done and burst into tears.

Tragedy thy name is broken cake!

Luckily Daddy saved the day by happily dividing the cake into a few more pieces then stood back and exclaimed: "Look! You have more cake!"

I love how that kind of stuff works with toddlers.

Jane, if you read this in the future, and even if you don't, I want to let you know how much I love being your mother. You were the missing piece to our family. Even at your young age you impress me with your gentle kindness. I love your spunk, curiosity about everything around you, easy smile, your hugs and kisses (or as you say: "muh"), and even sometimes your attitude (because sometimes it is so darn cute!). You are a clever girl with determination to do things on your own (which is aggravating at times, but great too), or to do whatever you see Charlie do (ex: you climb up the "rock" wall on the playground downstairs, stand precariously on the top, and fearlessly leap off of it onto the big pillow chair because that is what Charlie does, and it makes you happy). I love to watch you jump, move your arms, and dance with abandon to songs. You are destined for greatness and don't ever forget it. I treasure this age. At times it makes me a bit sad to think about how fast it is going by, but I am excited for the years and adventures ahead, together.
I love you.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Two Very Wonderful Announcements

BIG things have been happening in the Temus family lately! Here they are:

 Joe and Jessica are getting married!!!

 Yep, same Jessica that survived over a week with the whole family.

Pictures taken by the wonderful Whitney.
 She is simply wonderful and I am SO happy that she is joining the clan.


Sarah had her baby!
Hannah Rosalie was born early in the morning of Tuesday October 27th. It is safe to say that everyone is super happy! And I get to hold her sweet little self in December when we all get together for the wedding! Joyous!

From what I have heard, Grant is acting the part of a very good big brother. :)

I love happy news.

And I love my family.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Wonderful Washington

We ended the summer with a bang: a Temus family reunion in Washington. It was great to see Alex again (he recently returned from a two year mission for our church). I also got to meet a nephew for the first time and play some much needed catch-up with the rest. As with all family reunions there were some stressful parts and times when we didn't quite see eye-to-eye, but looking back the things I remember most are the joyous times spent together.

Mom, Sarah, and Alex have been busy creating a "children's garden" and it was a HUGE hit, especially with Charlie. You see they included dinosaurs, complete with a cement cave and (dormant) volcano (hand crafted by Alex). It is no secret (see Utah trip post) that Charlie is obsessed with dinosaurs.

Grandma was in heaven.

Alex playing with Charlie, reading books to Jane, and Keith and Dad prepping for the morning's fishing (the salmon were running).

A family reunion in August wouldn't be complete without a trip up to the fire look-out on Mt. Fremont. It is a long standing family tradition. And that gal in the red hat is Jessica; Joe's girlfriend. She was gutsy enough to spend almost two full weeks with us. That is a long time to spend with the entire boyfriend's family. She is still dating him though so it must not have been too terribly bad.

Charlie approved of her pretty much since the moment he met her.

You always know you are getting close when you pass under the man face rock. Do you see the face?
Charlie made it all the way! I was impressed, especially since we didn't put any pressure on him to go the entire distance. He did get a little help from Grandpa though (see a couple pictures back).

This view is one of the things I look forward to most on this hike. I just can't get enough of it. You can see how dry it has been this year from this picture. Especially compared to past years.

Grant got creative with filling up his cup at a ward function Mom and Sarah hosted while we were there.

Family in the kitchen. Good times.

The strawberry patch was another HUGE hit with the grand kids.

Ian and Cheryl are long time friends that were spending the summer in their 5th-wheel in our backyard. It was so fun to have them there! Cheryl took several pictures in this post and all of the ones in the previous one. They are simply great people. Oh, and they have a dog which Jane is cautiously very interested in these days. It took a bit of arm twisting... ;) but Ian took me on his new toy: his trike.

It was so great to have space for the kids to roam!

The "official" family reunion (when everyone was together) was when we spent a few days camping and playing at Dash Point. It was a bit stressful getting everything organized to take such a big group camping but when we got there it was tons of fun. Fishing, boating, big campground all to ourselves, outdoor movies after dark (thank you Darren), good times.

Charlie's first time fishing. He got pretty sad when he found out that it is more fishing and not too much catching.

Keith and I took the kayak for an hour or so while others watched our littles. It was like a mini date. A very fun mini date.

While we were there we took a short drive to the zoo where Charlie, Jessica, and I all took our very first camel ride.

Trying to re-create "baby fuseball" from the Dust Bowl reunion. We had limited success.

Relaxing/recovering back at home.

Feeding the cows. Jane was upset for about two weeks after returning to Fargo that we had neither "moo moos" or "beawwies (berries)."

Keith and I talk often about how blessed we each are to have the "in-laws" we do, and how wonderful it is for our kids to have the grandparents and extended support system that they do on both sides. It was great to be able to visit both sides this summer.  I love you guys!

Sunday, August 30, 2015


A couple of weeks ago Keith, the kids and I took a trip back to my parent's place for a family reunion. Alex, my youngest sibling, had returned from his mission and school would start soon so it was the first time in a while that we could be all together.

While we were there our good friends Ian and Cheryl, now retired, were staying in their 5th-wheel in our backyard for the summer. They live part of the year in California and part in Washington (with a bit of road-trippin' in between). They they have become, by far, the closest neighbors we have ever had! Cheryl took a lot of photos while we were there, mostly of the kids, but also of our home. I was beginning to sort out pics for a post on our trip when I realized that I kept on getting caught up in the memories and emotions that these pictures brought back. This is the only home I had ever known. We moved in shortly before I was born and I never moved until I left for collage.

At first I hesitated to make a blog post about home just because it could get so long. There is so very much in each picture that I could talk about! (I will try very hard to not give too much narrative.) And how could I possibly choose which pictures to include and which to cut! I also worried about sounding like I was bragging. In the end I decided that this place and the memories I made here meant too much to me to not share it. Even if it is just for my own sake.

Our elementary school bus stop was at the end of the long gravel driveway. You can't see the end from the house, but we had a very protective black boarder collie named Hector who would take us to catch the bus each morning. He would walk with us to the end of the driveway, wait with us for the bus and then as soon as the bus door closed he would turn around and go back up to the house. Mom would be watching for him to come back and when he did she would know that we were safely on the bus. Some how he always knew when the bus would be coming back at the end of the school day because when we got off he would be waiting there to walk us back up to the house. He went everywhere with us.

 To this day, big cedars bring back strong memories of home. When my dad cleared the land that he grew up on, and that our house now is on, he left many of the big trees. These cedars are some of them.

I remember how difficult it was as a kid to open and close this rickety old gate. We drove the old red tractor through it to take hay to the lower shed, we opened it to get escaped sheep back in. This is also the view that I would see if I looked left as I pumped my legs harder and harder, to fly my swing higher and higher, on the wooden big toy my dad built. 

  Hydrangeas. They are green (at least the white ones) for the longest time before they turn into their respective lovely colors. As a kid I remember thinking that they were quite plain and drab looking when they were green and wondering why Mom didn't replace them with something showier. I rather like their delicate little blossoms now.
I always forget what these are called (Mom? Sarah? feel free to comment and remind me) but I have always liked them. My Grandma Temus, who lived just on the other side of the apple orchard from us, had them in hanging baskets each summer. I remember how fun it was to pop the buds and how much she would get after us if she caught us.
The back of the side of the house as seen from Ian and Cheryl's 5th-wheel. The hot tub is a new addition. Sadly they got that after all the kids had left home.
 Black-eyed Susan's. Can't have too many of these. I remember how much Mom seemed to enjoy working in her flower garden, thus the flowers bring back happy memories.

I can't remember a time when this old rusty plow (sorry Dad, I know it was more of a rake attachment thing...) wasn't in this spot. I love it.

 One of my absolute favorite things about home is watching the sunset from the large back windows that face west. Our house was built on the top of a hill and the view of the sunsets are spectacular.

I remember when my mom redid the flower garden circle in the driveway. It was surrounded by rocks before without the statue. The statue took a bit of getting used to at first (especially because it was white when we got it) but the sad part was getting rid of the large flat boulder at the bottom of the circle. It was so much fun to play on. Funny how little things are so important to kids.

 There were always a lot of shoes at the front entry way. I still remember Mom calling us to come pick them up and choose ONE pair to leave. It was a futile effort.

Pickles. Nothing like Mom's pickles. It was Joe's and my job to pick the grape leaves to put in the bottom of the jar. Mom would show us with her hands what size she wanted and the two of us would go down to the garden and pick some. Upon return she would throw out the ones that didn't make the cut, pick out a sample one to send us with and we would go back down.

We were each assigned a row or two of corn and other vegetables to weed each Saturday before we could go do anything else. It felt like slave labor often times. But once the corn got big we had a grand time playing in them!

 Squash and pumpkins. Mmmmm! Each fall we would each pick a pumpkin and haul them up to the house in wheel barrows to be carved. The biggest one, which Dad always would carve (with some input from the rest of us), was always the most exciting one. I think there is a picture of each us as a baby sitting in a carved pumpkin. I don't think any of us are exactly smiling about the situation.

Speaking of autumn. We never got a single trick-or-treater the entire time we lived there. I guess no one was too keen on driving up a long, dark, unfamiliar driveway.

  Raspberry jam. Raspberry syrup. Raspberry blueberry jam. Raspberry rhubarb jam. Yum.

 Go down and pick berries. Go back up with bowl only to have Mom tell you that you didn't get enough. Go back down. Repeat. It took a long while, but I am proud to say that I am now quite good at picking raspberries. Hint: there are an awful lot hiding under the leaves.

Pruning and tying raspberry bushes is also where I learned the square-knot. Yup. I was quite proud of that as a child.

A lot has changed over the years, but there is a whole lot that has stayed the same. I didn't have a perfect childhood. No one has. But I am well aware that mine was blessed. Blessed to live where my father was raised. Blessed to have so much freedom to roam. Blessed to grown-up interacting with so many animals. Blessed to have had been raised where work was a requirement in so many ways. (I wouldn't have thought about it that way when I was struggling to carry a 5-gallon bucket of water down to the chicken coup after dark or pruning apple trees.) Blessed with parents who never stopped trying to be the best parents they could be. Blessed to grow-up where, out of necessity almost, my siblings became my best friends. Blessed to have a whole lot of space to be alone to think, cry, look at the stars, talk to God and ponder the big things in life.

I don't write all this to boast about how good I have it, or to show off; but rather to acknowledge and give thanks for the blessings that I have been given and the profound influence they have had on my life.

No matter how many homes I have, or places I live throughout my life, coming back here will always feel like coming home.

Thank you so much Cheryl for capturing this special place!