Monday, December 19, 2011

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

I love Christmas! I love everything about Christmas!

Finally a party to celebrate what matters most. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

I love the Christmas story because it tells of the coming of THE central figure in the great plan of salvation. Christmas is a celebration of THE life of the world.

There can never be too many Christmas lights; never too many Christmas songs; never too many Christmas parties and get-togethers; never too much good will; never too much peace on earth; never too much praise and celebration for our great savior and redeemer Jesus Christ!

To everyone, everywhere: MERRY CHRISTMAS!

To our families, friends, and neighbors....Thank you for another wonderful year of support, prayers, and friendship. MERRY CHRISTMAS and may God continue to bless us every one!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Just bee-cause

Talitha's latest rounds of tests--MRIs, spinal tap, labs, IQ, etc--are encouraging. She's healthy, alert, capable, and progressing. Still a few areas playing catch-up--e.g. mobility up and down stairs--but overall a very positive outlook and indications of even being a little ahead for her age. I recently reviewed some pictures from the days following her brain surgery and know it's a miracle that she's even still with us. Those were some frightening days and weeks hoping and praying that she would "come back".

Tali's zest for life seems only to increase with time. She's getting a little more sure footed as the months pass and gets so excited anywhere she goes that she tries to run, even skip a little. She's polite when she wants to be; and gets her way consistently. She can be bold and demanding but always very tenderhearted especially when someone around her is crying or hurt. She seems to relate to those going through pain of any kind and tries very hard to get a smile back onto their face.

She loved dressing up yesterday as a little bee and even joined in with her brother and sisters in carving pumpkins. But she insisted on having her mom carve a sad pumpkin. So that's what she got. (I guess that's better than a scary or mean pumpkin.)

Interesting to note that after all the trouble Audrey went to in getting costumes put together, Talitha ended up spending a great deal of time walking around the house with a box on her head bumping into things. She loved this original box costume of her own making so much that she insisted on getting her picture taken just like she did with her bee costume.

She keeps us giggling and laughing for sure!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Smile and Laugh!

Talitha loves to smile and laugh.

Sometimes her laughter is genuine and deep. Sometimes it's fake. Either way it's infectious. Laughter and smiles breed more laughter and more smiles.

Just yesterday, Audrey was telling me about a documentary she watched about the making of the Star Wars movies. Fascinating, the ingenuity used in the first Star Wars movie when they didn't have unlimited funds (and things like light sabers didn't already exist). But perhaps the most interesting story is about R2D2, the endearing little robot that rolls around and never seems to get too shook up about anything in the crazy shoot-up-the-far-away-galaxy drama.

Well, this little robot character actually had a real, live actor inside controlling the movements and blinking, and rotating, etc... Of all the acting instructions you could give to someone who will never be "seen", what could you possible say other than "have fun" and "remember to push the right buttons at the right time"?

As it turns out, the director instructed this actor to smile. That's! And I guess his reaction was similar to mine when I heard that. After all, what difference could smiling have if no one will ever see your face?

But actors don't get paid to argue with the director so this guy just shook his head and did what he was told. Later on, he reported that the funniest thing started happening as he smiled and smiled inside this little robot can. The smile started showing up in the actions and blinking and movements of R2D2. Not only did the actor start having more fun with the part, people on the set remarked about the noticeable difference. And of course, who doesn't just love R2D2.

Smiling matters. Laughing matters. It changes us and it changes others around us.

When my younger brother called the other day and asked me how my business was doing, I started in telling him all the reasons why things were going great. Well, he knows something of the struggles and challenges of the economy and the recession and what we've been going through with life's trials. So I suddenly stopped and told him the obvious. "Hugh, it's my job to be positive."

Are things getting better? Yes.
Either things really are better, OR... just being positive for so long has talked my brain into believing things really are better. And if the mind can't tell the difference, why not just make the decision to be happy.

Why not decide to smile a little more. And laugh a little more. EVEN IF YOU HAVE TO FAKE IT A LITTLE to begin with.

Except for when she's really tired, Tali is one pretty happy little girl. She doesn't wait for life to cheer her up. She decides to be happy and cheers up life!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(Come on over sometime...maybe she'll even do one of her fake laughs for you. It works. I promise you'll smile...and feel better too!)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


What a day of celebration!

Tali was SO excited to turn three. She's been talking about it for months. And was here! She made the most of her day and just beamed.

I've never been more grateful for a birthday. Each day is a miracle in its own way. And a reminder...

Talitha is at the stage where depending on the moment she can look more like a young lady than a baby. I think I'll always see her as "my little girl".

For several days, she has been insistent that she have a birthday hat. And when the Birthday Princess hat appeared, it did not part from her head the whole day--except when the wind blew it off!

This morning when she woke up, she asked her mom, "have you made my cake?"  Even better, she got to help make her cake!

She loved opening her presents! Wish you could have seen some of her facial expressions. We're talking eye-popping, face-stretching delight! Her sisters and mom know exactly what floats her boat--everything Princess!

She loves playing at the park so her birthday party the park.  Too much wind to get the candles lit on her cupcakes. But she pretended to blow them out any way.

The day was everything she imagined and more!

Welcome to another year, Tali.  We love you!!!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A different kind of summer

What a difference one year makes!

Last summer, Tali really couldn't be outside very much due to problems with sun exposure after chemotherapy.

This year, she'd live outside if we'd let her!

Last summer she was bald.

This summer...well let's just say she would've been right at home in the 80's with her mom and the "big hair" craze.  :-)

She's enjoying life and living to the fullest, almost like she's making up for lost time.

In between work, re-roofing our home, and the craziness of trying to keep up with 6 children ranging in age from 2 to 20, we are enjoying snatches of time together whenever we can find them. 

Gratitude--that's a word I just can't get enough of.  So grateful for the blessings of life, learning, and love. Amazed and grateful Talitha is still with us. How much she has taught me! 

Yes, it's a different kind of summer.

And different is good!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Worry less

Talitha had another full round of tests. The MRI results show things are still clear. The hearing test shows no hearing loss. The spinal tap results are still showing some irregular cells but the unusual cells are not cancerous so they will just keep monitoring according to the normal post-treatment schedule.

Tali now moves from being tested every 3 months to just once every 4 months for the next year. We'll take it.

As I was pondering life this last week, an interesting thought came to my mind: "Repent more; worry less." I like that. Worry is such a complete waste of time as it is incapable of changing anything. On the other hand, repentance is a God-given gift that allows us to change, improve, grow, and become.

Talitha continues her journey of life and teaching us. I'm grateful for the blessings of having her in my family. Her next big step now: potty training.  :-)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

1 year since ringing the victory bell

Next Saturday marks the one year point from when Talitha completed her final bone marrow transplant cycle at Primary Children's Medical Center, rang the victory bell, and came home. I don't know that June 4, 2010 is any more significant than dozens of other miracle milestone days in Tali's journey. But it does mark a day of yet another new beginning, the point we returned home with changed, grateful, and exhausted hearts.

Tali's exuberance for life just keeps going. She lives with a houseful of older siblings who adore her and try to accommodate her voracious appetite for walks, books, playing, and music. She loves being around younger children and is delighted that her parents are finally letting her go to the full hour and a half of nursery at church on Sunday. She's in good health with a full head of hair again.

Tali has been getting MRI's, spinal taps, and other tests every 3 months as part of her post-cancer maintenance program. Her next two days of testing at the hospital are on June 7th and 8th. I believe that at the one year mark they move the maintenance procedures from quarterly to every 6 months. So I'm hoping there will soon be even fewer hospital visits and procedures. But whatever lies ahead, we hope to always look to Christ as our one true source for life and support. And as always, thank you for all the support and prayers and love over these many months.

It's always fun when Talitha gets lost in her own world and has more than a hospital room with which to imagine. The flower pots in front of our home are filled with water thanks to an abundance of moisture this spring. Tali would has stayed in this spot all day had we let her. How she enjoyed talking and playing with sticks in the water! Some days, I think she'd rather live outside. Can you blame her? 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Look up

Bathtime for Talitha is almost enjoyable again. She doesn't like to get in the bathtub but once started--and sitting down--she likes to play and then usually complains that she's not ready when it's time to get out.

It has been many months since she has been willing to let us cradle her head in our hands and lay her back in the water to get her hair washed. We're not sure if her ears are more sensitive now or what--definitely something. Now I don't even try to lay her back but instead just pour water on her head before applying a little shampoo.

Tali doesn't like to get water in her eyes. (I'm not aware of any child that does.) She instinctively puts her head down to protect her eyes. The head being down makes the water run right into her eyes. Of course that frustrates her...and me. So, I've been asking her to put her head up by saying "look up....look up at the ceiling." But that doesn't make any sense to her so she just keeps putting her head down ... and getting water and soap in the eyes.

I'm not one to give up easily so the last two times, I've tried showing Tali why the water keeps getting in her eyes. I have her look at me while I pretend to pour water on my head, first with my head in the "look up" position (where all is smiles as the water runs down my back) and then with my head in the downward, get-water-and-soap-in-the-eyes position complete with the imitative flustering and sputtering of the arms and head. She enjoys the demonstration and asks to see it again.

Well today, she finally decided to give her dad's crazy suggestion a try. When I said "look up", she did; and the water poured off her hair down her back instead of into her eyes. Both of us were delighted with the outcome.

At Easter time, I feel an even stronger, heavenward tendency to feel and express gratitude. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

How easy with life's trials, challenges, and responsibilities to get road weary, troubled, and tired. My instincts at such times don't always serve me. Too often when I feel life pouring down on my head, I look down with fear and get a face full. My Father in Heaven invites me to "look up"  with faith as a better way to endure the cleansing He desires me to have.  "Therefore, lift up your heads, and rejoice, and put your trust in God..." (Mosiah 7:19) 

I'm grateful for His loving ways, kindness, and patience. He lives!

Look up!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

February Tests and Physical Therapy

We have several things to report since the last blog post in January. But first, let me say thank you. Thank you to the Lord for His continuing mercy and grace toward Talitha and our whole family. Too many blessings to even begin adequately numbering them. And thank you to our family, friends, and neighbors for ongoing encouragement and prayers.

Tali is growing by leaps and bounds. Her hair is long enough now for Audrey to "finally" put a ponytail in--no matter how small it may be. When I see Tali's smile, it melts me pretty much every time.

Talitha is on a maintenance program that calls for blood work, MRI's, and Spinal Taps/Lumbar Punctures every three months. Thankfully, the February tests were favorable. No tumor, no cancer cells, improving ANC--i.e. her body's ability to fight off infection is improving. The doctor tells us it is definitely cause for celebration EVERY time it comes back clean.

Some days, the biggest challenge is to not take the miracles and blessings for granted. God is so gracious and good. When I stop to count my blessings, it takes my breath away.

Talitha was on a waiting list for the "Now I Can" therapy. The wait is over and she is now doing multiple physical therapy sessions each week. They are very optimistic the walking challenges will be corrected very quickly. We're optimistic too as we can already see some improvements.

One of the things they do with this therapy is tape Tali's legs with some special tape that helps her feel support towards a proper standing and walking stance. She wears this tape 24/7 (in the bath tub and everything). When it falls off, they replace it.

The therapy lasts for two hours each session and involves muscle massage, balance exercises, electrical impulse stimulation, and proper motion simulation/repetition.

Some of these exercises and activities are more tolerable than others. It has been somewhat of an emotional roller coaster for Talitha who is already dealing with being two. She is getting better but Audrey still has to leave the room and watch from behind the one way mirror glass so that Tali does not struggle so hard to be rescued.

The "spider cage" hooks 8 bungee cords to her little belt and provides support while Sergio, her primary therapist, works on her balance, coordination, and muscle development. As this progresses, some of the cords are removed one by one until she is standing on her own. Throughout, Sergio puts pressure or pushes on different areas to encourage an auto response reaction that trains her in stability. Think of it like a level you'd use in construction. Tali is tipped to one side and these exercises are helping bring her "bubble" back to the middle position so she won't walk crooked or lopsided the rest of her life.

We are in awe of all the Lord has inspired and prepared to bless His children and support us through trials of every kind. Talitha is a warrior spirit. She reminds us with her example that God has a plan, we're not alone, and all things are possible through Christ.

P.S. The Now I Can Foundation is a charitable organization that makes it possible for families like ours and so many others to receive life changing therapy for a fraction of what it would otherwise cost. They have their annual 5K run/walk coming up and all proceeds go towards helping children walk again. Here's a link to get more information and/or to participate in this worthwhile event:

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Already a month into does the time go so quickly?!

Talitha is doing really well. Her hair is getting longer, she's got meat on her bones again, and she's constantly saying things that either have us in stitches or make us ask, "Did she really say what I think she just said?"

We take her to the first of three church meetings each week--Sacrament Meeting. But we still aren't brave enough to have her stay and play with the other children in the Nursery.  It's just so easy for her to pick up bugs when she's around people. She got sick a few weeks ago and that really scared us because of what looked like a relapse in development. Prayers, Priesthood blessings, and nutrition keep making a difference as God is making it possible for our little one to remain with us.

The miracles keep happening.

And the smiles and joy keep happening.

This past week, Audrey was at the store with Talitha. When they came outside, the sun was bright and the day beautiful in spite of the cold weather. Out of the blue, Talitha blurted with customary enthusiasm, "oh...there is sunshine in my soul!"

Yes, Tali...there IS sunshine in your soul. And you've made our whole world brighter because of it!