Thursday, December 5, 2013

is there such thing as Santa?

this is a post wherein i validate children all over.

this story will take us back to the years of 2004-2006. the mckay's lived in the ghetto otherwise known as new haven, ct. we lived on the campus of yale university. in our 4-plex there was a wide diversity of the world represented in a small colonial building. the italians lived across from us. she was an artist, he was the stay at home dad with their son theodore. katarina and angel (he was a man and it was pronounced anyel) were from spain and they had two daughters whose names escape me. the people above us were a family from korea. they had lived at yale in the tiny apartment for 9 years. he was getting his PhD in religious studies. they had three children. we got along great. koreans in general are polite, well behaved, socially aware of their own behavior and actions. their middle child, alex, however, in public often overstepped his bounds. his mom only let him interact with other children outdoors, rarely indoors. our apartments were so tiny that he rarely came over. there were a few occasions where they came over, once when they got locked out of the apartment and the campus police took three hours to respond and then in the depths of winter, he was at our house once. and it was the once you don't forget.

he was in awe of the toys at someone else's house, the food at someone else house, the movies we watched were different, it was a cultural thing mostly.

somehow the topic of holidays came up between him and grayce. i think grayce was around 4, and easton almost 2. alex, in his little korean accent spills to grayce the following:

alex: grayce, there is no santa claus. it is your parents. they go to wal-mart. they buy everything for you there. it is not santa. there is no easter bunny, there is none of that, it is ALL from the store.

grayce: well what about the the valentine's chicken? does he come to your house?!?!

alex: what?!?! the valentine's chicken? what does he bring you?

grayce: (she showed him her recent haul from our tradition) he comes and knocks on your door and runs away. he leaves you all this stuff of your doorstep for valentine's day. if you believe, it's real.

alex: oh man,..... (he stomps off angrily up the stairs)

i have always told my kids when they asked about the existence of magical traditions that as long as you believe, magic exists.

and i believe that.

as long as you believe, there is magic. i will never dispel, i will never bear any bad news, there will never be a talk.

magic happens when you believe, even a valentine's chicken.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

ramble

there was a situation that needed to be taken care of for a while and it had to do with my female body parts not wanting to cooperate. this is a situation i have dealt with for 19 years now. 18 years ago was my first surgery to remove the devil they named endometriosis. and while it's not the worst thing to happen it sure is not convenient. i went under the knife in October to have the stuff removed, again. this time it was causing the strangest symptoms. like i thought i had neck problems for a year and tried every chiropractor/massage/MRI/steroids solution possible.  and then i get referred to a specialist and he's like, hey you have endo growing on your diaphragm and that causes your neck to hurt, and let's take your appendix out because you have cysts rupturing on your right ovary and the statistics aren't in your favor of keeping the appendix happy while that business goes on. and i say, hey specialist, there are some other pains going on and they are strange so how about you investigate.

and so he does. and i wake up from surgery and no one looks at me sorrowful in the recovery before i can hear what i lost and what they found so i figure i will live. the report is that the endo was growing everywhere it could but not on my uterus and ovaries and that's a warm fuzzy. but also, an irritant. lucky am i because i have four kids and that is always an impossibility if this stuff attacks your major female parts. irritating because it causes the most awful pain and makes me think my necks a mess, i have weeds growing in my colon, my leg has a blood clot every month, and my ovaries could spontaneously com bust at any point.. good news, he burned the heck out of the enemy. only, it has kind of made everything worse and apparently it takes a while to heal and that was not on my planner. so there is this funk and mist that makes me cry when i can't do normal things or go a day without having to lay down. i think somewhere i read that that is not allowed if you are the mother.

and so days pass and i am "recovering" which involves everyone to constantly ask "how are you", "you don't look so good" and the like.

and i have come to a moral issue. i don't feel good most of the time now while my burns heal up and all, but man i don't want people knowing about it. i want to feel alive again. i want to forget about how torturous i feel and how hopeless it feels to think i might feel like this forever/another day. but when someone can see on  your face that you had a rough night that required medication, i don't want to lie. and so...

when the bishopric asked me if i would make breakfast for our ward christmas party in two weeks, i knew that god loves me. because really, i am mostly on invalid status as a mormon for a while. the relief society sometimes gets involved to help and that makes me feel real bad about what it's all come down to. but god, he knows me. he knows that while i don't have a lot of strengths of offer my LDS ward congregation, i can feed them. i know how to make a lot of tummies gathered at a ward house happy. and, i like doing it. he knows that for some reason, i took to the kitchen. i developed a talent as a young mother on a tight budget and i also developed a talent of recognizing how much god loves seeing us eat a meal together. how when there is a plate of food before us that someone filled with love and time, relationships are strengthened. you feel loved as you partake of good food. and god knew that i needed to be taken off the invalid list. when i was asked, i had been on my third sleepless/tear filled night because the recovery isn't complete. but when i was asked, i was able to ignore that misery better on behalf of my ward members breakfast needs. i was giddy thinking of a menu ALL BY MYSELF! the most tortured part of serving as a mormon is sometimes you have to have your rough edges knocked off by serving on food committees and that always opens it up to opinion. i get to say what, how, and they even let me choose the when (time of the party)! now, those are circumstances that will facilitate healing.

also, my mother helped me come up with a purpose to gathering for breakfast. we will fill trailers up with food for the local food bank. she was able to go to the facility and make a goal to help them no matter what! so we will ask our neighbors to help and bring a can of food and come share a meal. it will make christmas creep into all of our hearts and for sure heal wounds of many shapes and sizes.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

old and young with a tale of football inbetween

this boy here to my right but your left is my youngest sibling. he is kyle and i am a fan. this is us watching a sunset together at bear lake 1 year ago. we both had sweet sunglasses and my sister in law documented it, thanks ash. i was a junior in high school when he was born and he was the cutest baby you have ever seen, minus the part where he was always vomiting. always. every morning before school, someone would have to go round up a new shirt if they held kyle. he has played a good caboose to our family. he is tough, and fun, and funny, and a superstar uncle.


in the summer of 2012 he decided to take up football. he is a generally athletic kid and his cousin ben was playing. he had never played on a football team before but he is a hard worker, really hard worker and he has some serious determination. 
i mentioned in my last post how it turns out he can play, well too. 
last friday we were at the football game. we watched good old weber high crush viewmont. crush them. the quarterback had 3 running touchdowns. kyle played hard but we noticed they were giving other players some time to get experience on the field.  fourth quarter came around and sure enough, the whole night kyle was wide open for a pass every play. we all wondered and waited to see if he would get the chance, the kid is a speed demon.
the perfect strike came. he caught it and ran 35 yards. there were two players from the opposing team waiting for him as he scored that touchdown. they crushed him. he went down so hard and even though it's football, it was mean to tackle someone after they made a touchdown. especially my little brother.  he was down and didn't move. instantly, the umpires started waving their hands frantically. the EMT's were instantly called onto the field. my kids were scattered all over the stadium with friends. scott ran down immediately as we thought it was a head and neck injury. then, my parents were fetched by screaming girls. i rushed down to the field as the stretcher was rolling onto the field.  
my dad starts hearing the crowd chant, get up kyle mcfarlane over and over.
 as i get down there, he is whooping and hollering and his arm is in a sling. that boy broke his arm as he was tackled down.
his version of the story is when he saw them coming to tackle him he closed his eyes and misjudged how close he was to the ground. as he was on the ground, the ump says to him - sweet touchdown. kyle's response was- thanks, i broke my arm.
that's why it was sheer panic instantly. 
kyle didn't cry. well, until coach hammer came up to the hospital and delivered the game ball to kyle. offensive player of the week. and he teared up when he realized he wouldn't be playing in the homecoming game. 
it took 12 screws to put both broken bones back together. and the PA assisting the case felt bad because almost everyone assisting in the surgery had been at the game and were a buzz with the sweet play.

some funny things that have to be documented.
as i got down on the field i could see kyle was going to be fine. his coping mechanism was humor. he is a stoic kid. quiet. but that night, he was cracking everyone up. his cousin ben, was above him on a crane videoing for the team. ben and kyle have been inseparable since birth and ben broke his collar bone the week before the football season started and was out. so, he films for the team. ben watched kyle's body on the ground and thought he was dead. until kyle yelled up to ben,- next week, me and you buddy! we are up there together. kyle instantly knew he was out for the season. 
he was so upset when he realized they had stopped the game to get him taken care of. he was yelling - drag me off, drag me off, keep playing! as he realized we were all pretty shaken up, he yelled, let me give a wave to the crowd, let me wave. and that he did.
his buddy jaden was lifted by his helmet by the defensive coach and told rather vulgarly to kill viewmont's offense for kyle. 
in the ER, he had everyone in stitches. scott went with my parents to the hospital to be the support and i thought that was appropriate as when people caring for you have a connection, they make sure things go more smoothly. scott knew almost everyone caring for kyle that night. the big rivalry game of BYU vs. UTAH was the next day and scott, kyle and easton had tickets. kyle found out which team the surgeon was cheering for (utah), and as he walked in the room to consult, kyle started sing/shouting: rise and shout, the cougars are out!! the ER doc happened to be the surgeon's bishop, and that always gives you a warm fuzzy that they were working together.

this picture appeared in the newspaper on the front page of the sports section a few weeks ago. kyle made a touchdown and it was amazing. easton mckay almost piddled his pants to see his uncle on the front page of the sports section the next morning. easton has been an avid newspaper reader since the beginning of kindergarten (his teacher suggested challenging him with big words, it's kind of like a religion now).

Weber High's Kyle McFarlane breaks away to score Weber's first touchdown of the night at Roy High School Friday, August 30, 2013. (DYLAN BROWN/Standard Examiner)

this was another great shot. 


Weber High's Kyle McFarlane carries the ball Friday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Weber High School. (DYLAN BROWN/Standard-Examiner)

i have pondered all of this. the why, the how. this kid has put his heart into something that he now has to stand back silently and watch knowing he is capable of performing. the team is slated to possibly be in play offs of some sort which is huge for weber high. and then part of me hopes my sons see that if you play football you will get your arm broken. cause, shoot. every time someone goes down, my heart palpitates abnormally and i feel like we are watching brutal carnage on a field with someones baby boy. but then, there's that thing about doing hard things in life. about having a good attitude with the cards your are dealt. about not being able to change a thing. my wise friend often stated, everything is as it should be. and now, he is in a different kind of sport. the kind that is quiet and unnoticed. his cousin ben has been engaged in it for two months.  he sits at every practice, every single team meeting, every game on the sidelines. he videos the games so the team can see where they need to improve. that is not playing sports, that is called being a sport. that is hard, and that is the refiners fire. it's grueling mentally and physically, wanting to play but not being physically able to. how lucky is kyle to have a buddy who has gone before him? i can only imagine the conversations that will take place on the large crane overlooking the field. and we will cheer for the film crew and not miss a game and be proud that kyle and ben are doing hard things.


Monday, August 26, 2013

new

there are 49 pages i could fill with words to describe the last two weeks of my life but that's drawn out and long.

easton had a parasite. had. that means he is 100% normal. his pain scale went from a 5-6 everyday to a 3 within two hours of the medication. by 48 hours, he was a 0. i won't go in to the details of how it came to light or how we figured it out, but it was one of the hardest parenting situation i have had to watch. i have never seen a body so tortured. and then at the same time, it was a miracle. and no doctor can explain it to us nor has anyone been able to identify what type of parasite it was (the lab tried for a week) but it doesn't matter. eosinophils spike when you have an intestinal infection, prednisone makes that number go down, hence why we thought we were making headway with the course of action. the crazy diet? most likely unnecessary. the steroids that made him so ill and changed his physical appearance, probably unnecessary. the faith and testimony that are under all of us after learning patience, love, trust, becoming a strong family, they were all necessary.

healthy easton had a lot of words and information build up in his body for five months and now it is spilling out at a rapid speed. we have established a no talking rule after 8pm. my head is tired.

ella started a chinese immersion program. ella now hates the chinese people, language, food, dragons, and life in general. it was a chain of miraculous events that she was able to get into the program and i felt a jolt and overwhelming rush of heaven sent energy that ella mckay needs to know mandarin chinese. but i have spent the last two weeks on my knees watching my confident, happy, little girl turn into an angry asian hating gal. scott and i had a moment where we talked for hours, and cried and talked some more about it. we knelt to pray that night and he looked at me and said," what's our decision? we need to make the decision and pray that it's the right one." i told him that what she was supposed to do had been conveyed to me, we need to pray that her heart will soften and that her tongue will be loosed and that the anger will be replaced with love."

the next morning, she walked in her classroom. we didn't have to hang out in the car crying to find her courage for an hour. she gave me the thumbs up after one minute which meant she earned two points. we have a large poster up on our board called the chinese loving chart. there are no more sparkly things left in the town. we own them all and ella earns them with the points she accumulates for our chinese loving chart. she gives out cards with her name and number on them so that she can make some new friends because a new school is scary. and, those cards are worth one point each if she passes them out. we have had no phone calls yet, but this week, i can feel it, it will happen. and yesterday during sacrament meeting, my father in law snatched up her paper she was drawing. it was a picture of a girl with all chinese characters above it. not only does it make me happy, but those characters are so dang pretty, i feel like she is an artist. and also, this language immersion program has made me change my mind about punishing a kid under 5 years old. because one day i had to ask her chinese teacher something and the thing is, they don't speak english.  and so i didn't understand anything she was telling me and my cheeks got hot and i wanted to spit, cry, hit and scream. so now i understand the behavior of all children everywhere and it is merely a language situation and never will i get upset with a kid under five for not doing what i say lickety split.

also, my daughter grayce, she turned 12. and she is suddenly a woman and she is confident and wore a duck dynasty shirt the first day of seventh grade, bypassing all of the other fancy shirts we bought. and it reminds me of the time in second grade she wrote a song in duck for the talent show (she has a killer duck call that comes from her mouth) and when the teacher asked her to translate it in english, she did. and it reminds me that she has more confidence in herself than i ever did. she makes no apologies, watch out. she also started wearing make up and suddenly, the dynamics around here have changed. because when i went to back to school night with her and she introduced herself, her teachers asked who her parents were. most likely, they taught scott and i and their cheeks turned red because they were teaching second generations.  and because i feel mostly like i have not been able to give my other kids sufficient attention with the running back and forth to health institutions, i threw her a nice birthday bash. we had a delicious dinner, a fantastic two tier yellow cake i made, and we did facials, nails, and watched pee-wee's big adventure. i told all 14 girls that this was cinema at its finest and large marge was the pioneer for special effects in movies today. they weren't as impressed as i had hoped for but it was a fantastic night.

my new normal includes all day with a two year old who is turning three soon and only goes on the potty when he wants a starburst. and because of the aforementioned language thing, i am just fine with that. i am not lonely enough to beg scott mckay to take his baby locks off his baby door yet but it will probably come sooner than later. and also, something fantastic has happened to rowan. he now will watch tv. this is miraculous on many levels because it's consuming him and yesterday he saw the number eight and said out loud that he wants the number eight. and PBS is taking right over for me and his mind sponges up every little bit of information. because when easton was three, he went to pre-school.  at the 3/4 mark of the year, his teacher told me he just wasn't getting the whole letter and numbers thing and that we should watch the letter factory. he watched it for 4 days straight. the next month he read the stop sign. by years end, the teacher told me he was the top scorer on the kindergarten entrance exam. and so, i will embrace the learning from those shows.

last friday, we had the most fantastic experience. my little baby brother decided last year that he might want to play football. the boys in my family have an athletic build and have done well with sports. well, that mr. kyle decided that he would play football this year too. only weber high school hasn't won a football game for 23 games straight which means two years. and so, we all didn't have too high of expectations in the community. they got a new coach and there were high hopes.  we trucked down to west high last friday night. this is where very large football players live on the west side in salt lake city. my mutha texted fear into all of us as she got there before us. text:very large players, kyle might be a rag doll at the end. scared.
shoot. we wondered if this was the kind of carnage small children should watch as we had hyped them up to see uncle kyle play football. wouldn't you know, that kyle mcfarlane, turns out he can play football against thugs after all. he played the entire game and we were all yelling from the stands mostly in shock and disbelief every time he kicked the ball or his name was read over the loud speaker. except for the fact that west high kept calling him kyle mcfarley which turns out okay as we have quite an affinity for the farley's in general. but there was one thing he did that scott had to narrate to all of us naeive family members called a fumble. i don't know how it happened as this was the first football game i have ever watched in it's entirety, but somehow there was a large pile of thugs on top of my brother and the folks in the stands were yelling, he's not letting it go, i think weber got it. that little brother of mine was under that whole entire pile of thugs and it's a real crowd pleaser if you can still hang onto the ball of a lot a fellas are on top of you. and scott mckay commented on the way home how kyle played offense and defense and how he never even played football until last year.  it kind of makes me real proud of how athletic he is and how experience doesn't matter if you have a listening ear and a drive to do hard things. and to top it all off, they won. those boys killed it and it was announced at church podiums across the valley yesterday. and all of these things happened in two weeks, which is why i say - NEW.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

sweet relief

monday was our big day with easton. we were checking his eosinophil levels to see if they had lowered in his blood.

the week before i threw my grandma's big party, i was de-junking and came across the articles scott had printed about eosinophilia and hyper-eosinophilia at the hospital.  when he initially brought those home, i had a very strong impression not to read them.  the doctor had told me we were doing everything possible for either diagnosis. easton's eosinophil levels suggested the hyper condition, but his symptoms did not. i made a mistake and read the literature before i threw it away. the one good thing that came from it was reading that when prednisone is taken, every time you taper, or lower the dose, the disease can re-surge and cause all of the symptoms to come back for a few days. we were finding that to be very true with easton. the every two week taper was a cruel trick. he would be making progress and then we would have to taper and he was down for five days. reading that part made me feel ready for the next 6 tapers we had ahead. the part where it said hyper eosinophilia is always fatal made me stop dead in my tracks. my heart sunk and instantly my eyes were wet and i realized why the dr and scott were being so solemn about this. that was a sunday night i read that. the entire week, i found myself on my knees a lot. i was contemplating things that a mother fears. i pushed it aside by submersing myself into the party planning. throwing that party was the best distraction i could have had while we have been going thru this. we had to cancel a couple of vacations (traveling is hard with a restricted diet that is crucial that it is followed with exactness and it was a somber thought to have to pinpoint every hospital along our intended traveling routes) and as a result we used those funds to pay for all of the things insurance doesn't cover and put some attention into our yard.  if we were going to be home all summer, we might as well enjoy the house and the yard. i planted 13 flats of annuals, we amended soil, finished items on our house list and got ready for this party in between the plethora of hospital, lab and dr visits. that week, i had given myself so many tasks to complete, i felt lucky that i had little down time to contemplate what i had read. i knew we were weeks away from retesting his levels and it would take the week to get the blood work results to see if it was the hyper eosinophilia and if it had attacked the heart, brain, kidneys, liver or muscles. the week seemed to fly by but at the same time, each second was loud and slow with these humbling thoughts.

as we were cleaning up and people were dispersing from the big bash, my cousin Johnny and his wife inquired about easton.  they had traveled from oregon to the party and had heard about easton's illness. they told me that their good friends have a daughter who is fighting HES (the hyper condition) and it had attacked her kidneys. When the diagnosis was given, they realized that everything that is out there about this condition labels it as terminal. This family was able to go to a specialist in pediatric HES at oregon health sciences university to consult with him about their daughters condition.  he told them that pediatric cases have a much higher survival rate and that it's not a death sentence. my heart soared when i heard that. i felt like even though i didn't listen to that strong warning about not reading that literature (for the record, i didn't read it for 4 weeks) that a loving father made it up to me by bestowing that information to me. it was in no way a coincidence that they would mention that to me. i still get teary thinking of that loving mercy extended to me. it helps me be a better parent to my kids, a little more loving when i want to be upset when they don't follow my strict instructions. also, i was relieved to know that the road might be long to a full recovery but that it was possible.

elder bednar gave a talk in march found HERE. i came across it a few days before my good friend was diagnosed with colon cancer that had spread to her liver. she is in her early 40's and today she sent her oldest son on a mission. her husband was my favorite seminary teacher and now they are our neighbors. i love them dearly and we have all been so touched by their journey. the concepts presented in this talk have stuck with me. i thought about it pertaining to my friend and then, i had the opportunity to apply it to me. do i have as much faith in dying as i do in living? would i have the faith the let my son go as much as i have the faith that he is healed? my goodness, it's humbled me. i think i have more faith in living sometimes than i do in dying and that is something i need to work on. it seems ironic as a mormon that i wouldn't have more faith in a forever family and in the sure knowledge that we would always be a family unit if we lived up to those covenants, those very principals define mormonism. my friend i previously mentioned called me last week. even though we are friends, scott had been involved as they have gone thru this cancer challenge, and i stayed aloof, wanting to give them their full privacy.  we were finally able to talk and my goodness, talking to her gave me the boost i needed before we did this blood work. her liver tumors have shrunk remarkably, and her cancer numbers are astonishingly low. she is proving a miracle. we talked and related. she told me that she was really struggling as to what it means to live with cancer. she decided that most of the time she felt good and so that is how she would act. it's a new normal but "as a man thinketh". it helped me so much. we need some counseling but it is extremely hard to get into a pediatric specialist (im going on three weeks of trying to be seen within the next six months) and she passed on her counselors advice to me. define a new normal and be happy. live. don't feel bad about what isn't in your normal anymore.

the blood work showed that easton's eosiniphil levels have returned to normal. with this blood test, for now, we are out of the HES category. we are on our way to healing. now that the eosiniphils are out of the blood, it will stop the attack on his GI tract. eosiniphils attack tissue giving easton what's like asthma of the GI tract. the rate of eosinphils were 100+ in his GI tissue, and so it will be a while before he starts to feel like his old self and before he starts to recover. he has a while of this strict diet, steroids, vitamin boosting (when the tissue is so inflamed, it's extremely hard to absorb nutrition), pro-biotics, and the thrush, oh it's miserable, but!!! we are leaving our dark path for now. our unknown, scary, what's the road we are on path. the relief is not something that words can describe. knowing that easton is functioning enough to return to school in a month and that we don' have to live day to day, dr visit to dr visit is tremendous relief. i am always grateful for this point in a trial when you can look at it with the layers of miracle and add them to the foundation of life.

extremely blessed, overwhelmingly loved.

Friday, July 26, 2013

the biggest birthday bash i ever threw AND the longest post this blog has ever seen.

in the bleak winter months i had the party gods give me a vision of a lovely party i would throw for my grandma helen to mark her 95 years. my party voices started and i couldn't stop them. it happened and it was one of the highlights of my life.

my mother had told me no for years about hosting grandma's adult birthday party. mostly because she is the youngest of 7 kids and i guess you let the older ones take charge or something. so i had to usurp her and go to my auntie annette who is the event planner extraordinaire. she said yes and i was beside myself with excitement! this is all a real and true story about my excitement.  there is nothing i love more than to host or be a part of culinary events for people i love. pulling a meal together comes easily to me, especially for large groups, and being that i'm a mormon and we are supposed to share our talents, i have to listen to the party demons sometimes, and that's on account of i dropped out of piano lessons as a teenager and i can't enrich the mormon's on sundee with my music abilities.

i filled up an entire notebook with ideas and such. and the menu changed 976 times but that was the funnest part, thinking of what to feed all these good people. i started on emails to my cousins and aunts and uncles and i think you might like an excerpt of one i sent out to guilt them into coming (because they couldn't see the scenes the party demons were playing for me, i had to lay on the heat real thick like):


This email is to address any concerns, excuses, problems with your attendance to grandma's friday night celebration.

1. you have a babe in arms, they are invited! if they happen to talk back, spit, hit, or wrestle - those offspring are not invited. kyle and ben have promised to behave.
2. you can't find a babysitter for the aforementioned children. call me, i will arrange responsible gals to watch them at my in-laws who live a few houses away.
3. you have to work and can't get to the party by 5:30 or 6:00. Dinner is a spread of food that can be eaten at 6:13, 6:42, 7:23 and so on. JUST COME!
4. you have a medical condition. my husband has a medical license and a killer first aid kit but he does not treat hemorrhoids. we also have two horses on standby should you need assistance once you get here. grandma has agreed to be pulled in by sled, what's your excuse?
5. north ogden is far away. so is the great beyond where grandma will be sooner than any of us. it will be worth it.
6. you don't know what present to get her. her words to me friday were something along the lines of - please tell everyone no gifts! i know they stew about what in the sam hill to get a 95 year old and the truth is, i don't need anything i'm ever given. my tip to you is that she is a sucker for m and m's and also the dark chocolate covered pomegranate seeds at costco, also pero is always a hit.
7. the entertainment should please a bunch of christensen's. i worked for six weeks to secure it. it is top secret but i know you will laugh.
8. food. it will be good. 
9. grandma's hoping it's her last party, you might be sad you missed out.

you would come if you got this coercion, right? the beginning of the email was wikipedia's definition of coercion.

i am pleased as punch to tell you that it worked and our final count was around 75 people! there were cousins i had not seen in years that attended and my glory, it was something i will never ever forget. my sister in law who was eight months pregnant at the time captured perfectly the evening. i am so over the moon grateful for her and her photo skills. i always invite her to my events and she always, always comes thru. she has a gift with natural light and i think the following photos show it.

the woman of honor, helen.
when my alaskan brother, cameron, saw this picture, he asked what bad thing vaughn (my brother shown here) ever did to me to get grilling duty on the hottest day of the summer. he was willing was all!
that martinelli's lemonade is found at costco and it will tickle your fancy. it's amazing
the appetizers were laid out and i ended up realizing that we did an ode to corn. every dip contained corn but no one complained. it was divine! my mom and i fussing over the set up and function.

 and the guest of honor! grandma on the far right and her sister allison in the middle (this is not a great shot of her crunching corn, sorry auntie allison!) and then her sister eulinid in the bright pink with my aunt ruth in the light pink. behind them was the baby station. i gathered up every baby apparatus ever known for all thebabies that came, it was awesome!

my good neighbor grows these fantastic flowers in abundance and let me have a go at them for decor. it was purely therapeutic.


 you will notice the name tags that my brother and dad are wearing. little did everyone know that this was a clue about the entertainment (it was a top secret surprise). and they are also probably conversing about how i made them do ridiculous things to get ready for this party. one of them being mowing a lawn in 200 degree weather and the other painting my mudroom the entire week so that my house looked somewhat pulled together.
 mingling and laughing. grandma pulling scott in congratulating him on staying married thru this whole deal. he is such a good sport!

 i sat with my cousin jill and her husband nick and enjoyed the ode to corn. it was possibly the first time i had sat down in a month. this is real. i wish i had realized that i needed to take my apron off. i wore that thing until i went to bed. ah well.
 my aunt ruth and aunt susan in a deep conversation about how i pulled this off for only $7 a plate. (i kid, but that dollar amount is real folks)
 these two shots are poor reward for my slave labor, but i had an epiphany that i would not enjoy one moment if i did not have help there that wasn't related. i called in some big favors to some good women i love, they obliged and i am forever indebted. at the end of the night, my entire house was put together, food put away, and not one dish left to do or thing to clean. their name tags read, the help. we had to make sure no one mistook them for a cousin. in this picture below, kellie is giving me strict instructions that she will take care of the cake station.


i had a food skeleton inside the house of how the salads should be laid out. they had the ingredients for each salad in separate coolers with a food label on what went into each grouping. i went with salad bar extraordinaire for dinner.


 the next shots demonstrate that these folks came for the party, not my speaking abilities. oh how i struggle with public attention. it makes things not work out smooth for my mouth and head. and apparently, my hands over compensate. a lot of hand action was apparently necessary for the welcome to the party and what we were having for dinner.





 this shot of my mom is a beauty. i love that happy look on her face. it does not at all reveal how she had been my sous chef for three days straight chopping, slicing, and following orders. she's a gem.

if seeing extra large pictures of a salad spread doesn't make you excited, i am real sorry for you. this is my happy place.
 my mom and i made 120 dilly rolls. store bought is not good if you have lived 95 years on this earth and your only complaint is you vomit when your intake of m and m's exceeds two handfuls.


 after dinner was over, i introduced the entertainment. it's okay if you don't know who it is. these folks all did and the pictures of the reveal are priceless.




MR FARLEY
 this man below made a video (after many, many performances around the state) of a family reunion typical of mormon families. its a one man show where he acts out every character who might attend a family reunion. we were all rolling and the laughter was heard two streets over. it was our entertainment as kids and it extended to most of my cousins. i had a whim and googled him. turns out he was delighted to come and i was giddy for months about this surprise. it made the evening. and, apparently, some of my cousins did not have a VCR growing up. they enjoyed it anyway and in that particular family, most of the spouses that married in to the family had seen it growing up. it was great! 
the reactions upon his arrival were awesome. i had one cousin who wanted to yell and shout she was so star struck. my uncle and cousin were in fits of disbelief and giggles, they couldn't believe it. 









i think this is the winner of the night. the three remaining sisters. it makes me tear up every time. they were watching our baby parade. we had so many new great grand babies there, we paraded them to the front. 




the birthday cake was quite a feat. i was at a baptism where my friend amity brought these two amazing rainbow cakes. they were not only beautiful, but some of the best cake i have ever eaten. i asked to hire her out for the evening only to find she would be out of town.  she came over one day and gave me a lesson. it was gold. i ended up making 20 layers which turned out to be 4 cakes. it was the highlight of my culinary life. they are so beautiful and my goodness, they grab your attention!


 

 i will be honest, they were slicing up the cake and i had a watchful eye. six layers gets tricky but this was my cool, spy, sneaky face. the help did a fantastic job slicing!


 grandma took the mic right before we ate cake and imparted some gratitude and wisdom. she's my idol.

 this face is one i have seen many times thru my life of loving her, but i feel so over the moon that ashely captured it. it's her overwhelmed, amazed, purely grateful face. priceless. happy 95th grandma helen.



the best thing i ever did

i am going to tell you about it, but first let me tell you why before what.

we have a new normal around here. that's obvious with the past few posts. things are good with easton.  we are on a path and i feel like we are making progress. we still have a long road ahead and there are many things to conquer before we get a clean bill of health, but we will get there.

in this process of this sickness i discovered i have a really hard time balancing and not just giving up on certain things. for instance, when there are weeks where we are at the hospital, dr's office, lab all day for say 4 of the 7 days of the week, i find it really hard to follow thru with cleaning, three meals made, pick up, homework, extra curricular activities. not to mention time for myself. things came to a head and that's when i made a decision to hire a cleaning crew for my house.

all my married life i have discovered that i really, really struggle with keeping the cleaning voices quiet in my head. tell me i am not the only one? i have the need to clean everything top to bottom, old to new. i struggle with keeping balance on both ends.  when life is crazy i tend to stress over cleaning and am usually too drained to do the actual cleaning, only stress about it.  also, i found i had to get really worked up and mad to clean to propel me thru.  it was seriously a disorder that i probably should have been taking medication for.  i  have my kids help me but getting them to deep clean the way i want it was only injuring our eternal relationship. that's being honest. i do however have them do things that don't require spraying chemicals. once i watched one of them clean the bathroom, ugh. it was far more dangerous for everyone with all of the scratching, itching, touching kids do on a regular basis, and then you throw in bodily fluids on surfaces? they were contaminating themselves before they could clean the mess up and i was loosing sleep over it.

every year for my birthday i have wanted this deep cleaning package my brother has been telling me about.  that scott mckay is a hard sell. for three years i have begged and he just has too much common sense to indulge in such things. i knew my mental health was at stake and so this year, i told him that was what i was getting for my birthday, a deep clean.  these folks came and cleaned windows inside and outside, walls, corners, baseboards, decor was dusted, couches vacuumed, and then a regular cleaning to top it off.

when scott consented, i took the two weeks before the cleaners came to de-junk every crevice in my house. there were trailers full taken to the DI. it was so incredibly liberating.  i have always had a hard time making time for dejunking because i always feel like i am in the process of regular cleaning. it was becoming a snowball effect. and for the record, this cleaning problem and stress always seemed manageable in smaller quarters.  this house has killed me. i realize it's no mansion, but we lived for ten years in apartment type dwelling and so it feels massive to me.

while these good cleaners were doing their deep cleaning, i asked if they regular cleaning as well.  he gave me a quote and i told him to come twice a month to this house.  i made room in my budget by cutting down on some other things and we fast once a day (joke). i made changes in phone services, and started cutting back on extras and it is worth every single penny! i can keep the house picked up but i don't function very well when i have the burden of cleaning, pick up and de-junk on my plate. it feels like i have had someone give me 10 years worth of therapy. i highly recommend it if you suffer the problems i do. and for the record, i do have to clean before the cleaners come in a sense but it has forced me to only worry about pick up and regular cleaning everyday. so at the end of the day we go thru the house putting everything back in it's place and then do meal clean up and floors as needed. but, twice a month, my floors are mopped, kitchen scoured, all floors cleaned, sofas vacuumed, bathrooms cleaned top to bottom and my goodness, it feels so good! for the record, my two levels (about 3100 sq feet) for my bi-weekly cleaning is $100. am i crazy? yes, either way you look at it!!

Friday, June 7, 2013

when time stops for a bit


sometimes time seems to halt and it's like god's hand scoops you up.  you go along for the ride but you feel ultra sensitive and out of your comfort zone. it feels like home when hard things happen.  a strange familiar feeling. does this make sense?

i need those things in life that make me stop and say what are you doing and where are you headed. are you going good places? are you taking your kids with you or are they dragging behind.

my heart has been in a million different directions since this all started with easton. broken, mended, shattered, torn, guilt ridden, bursting, overflowing. all of them. i love my family. i am grateful to love fiercely and to be loved fiercely.

our first miracle was when our pediatrician gave us his cell phone and told us we could text and call. there were countless nights he kept us out of the ER talking us thru calming easton down and getting his pain under control.  he stayed up with is, hour by hour, determining he was okay. that's organic medicine.  that's why scott m went into medicine. he saw a grandpa and uncles practice organic medicine. he saw healing. it's no corporate office, it's no billing and payment, it's house visits, it's charity, it's healing.

(disclaimer to our medical friends, my spelling is not accurate but i refuse to google our diagnosis for fear of being institutionalized, work with me?)

then along the way, i just happened to ask our allergist while i was doing a baseline with rowan for his food allergies (i could tell they had shifted because he had constant eczema since december that wouldn't go away)a simple question. i just had a feeling.  it is uncharacteristic of me.  having scott work in the medical field, he gets a lot of questions from people.  one man cornered him in the hall at church and grilled him about his hemorrhoids. a lot of people call and ask if he can tell if they have a broken bone over the phone. they are really seeking reassurance from someone who spent a lot of years in medical education if they are going to be okay and what they should do. on this particular day, i excused myself profusely to our amazing, wonderful, brilliant allergist who is also an immunologist, for the question i was going to ask about easton.  i had noticed on rowan's new patient questionnaire a line about frequent recurring strep throat.  it was my first nagging question to the pediatrician when this all started. easton's had strep throat 6 times in 12 months. the immunologist said it was absolutely a sign that something was off and would i be willing to include him in easton's care. he gave me a list of blood work to take to our GI appointment. it took nothing short of hi-jacking the GI staff at primary's to get an appointment. our pediatrician called for five days straight to the emergent on call dr. for five days. straight. no phone call back. these two months have led to so much disappointment with the GI dept at primary's. i would get angry, angry because easton was getting sicker and sicker.  being the primary care giver and not able to relieve pain and suffering no matter how much i googled or racked my brain was torture.  primary's tells us it's a six month super bug. wait it out.  they did a CT w contrast which reassured us that there was no life threatening problem. the blood work came back and was reviewed by dr jones (the allergist/immunologist) and he immediately sent me for more blood work to check easton's eosinifils. this is a measure of allergic response in the blood. he also did a ton of skin tests and we found he was allergic to a number of things outside and a few foods. the blood work came back and his eosinifils had doubled from 800 to 1600.  so high that dr jones called primary's and told the nurse we needed a GI scope immediately. not in two weeks. as soon as possible. they got us in 5 days later with another GI willing to take it on. At the scope they were looking for the presence of these eosinifils in the esophagus. dr jensen reviewed his findings and said there was no significant swelling and he had a very healthy tract.  we were devastated.  he told us with the presence of the collection of enlarged lymph nodes discovered in the gut at the last ultra sound it would confirm the virus theory.  so that day we were on team virus, wait it out even tho none of the medication was helping. we were told the results would take 7 days from the biopsy. i got a call the next day from our GI. he told me that the rate of eosinifils was high and that we needed to be treated by the allergist but that it wasn't at all explaining the pain easton was in.  he told us to go back to our pediatrician and general surgeon who performed the umbilical hernia repair in april and to do an exploratory lap. sigh. we were off team virus and feeling like we were at square one with an incidental finding.  we were so depressed. the next morning i had an appointment with dr jones to review the results.  to diagnose with eosinophila it takes a score of 20, 50 being severe.  easton was 100+. i was telling him how i felt so deflated that this didn't explain his pain.  he got stern with me and told me we had a diagnosis and that it was absolutely the right path.  he assured, calmed, educated, and promised to follow this thru with us. he promised easton he would do everything he could to get him feeling better and this was causing the pain. he wanted us to see the general surgeon the next day to rule out a need for surgery and wanted him to call dr jones the second we were done with the appointment. dr jones called my cell phone on his lunch break and said he had this this nagging feeling we need to do some more blood work. there's a condition that's called hypereosinifila that is hard to pin down and diagnose, but it's serious.  we have to explore it. his rate double in three weeks. it won't change the course of treatment but it changes how aggressive we are. we will get that blood work back in two weeks when we see how the prescribed course of action is going. no surgery. it was the answer we were hoping for. and the last two days, man they feel right. it's that green light feeling that we are with the right people doing the right thing and my burden is lightening up. it feels right. those angels in the last post? i looked up, i made room for them, i listen for them. i can feel them.

what's the prescribed course of action?

a five food elimination diet. we eliminate dairy, eggs, wheat, soy, nuts in any form. an aggressive round of steroids to calm the GI tract down and to see if it improves the eosinifil rate. every time we reintroduce one of the foods, we follow up with blood work and a GI scope. is it chronic or acute? time will tell.  today, he started the steroids which should take 2 weeks to notice improvement. we are praying he responds to it and his rate goes down. please don't google this and talk to me about it.  when scott got off the phone with dr jones this week, he spent the day at the hospitals medical library. he came home solemn and said, "what a miracle that you asked that question. i don't want to think where we would be if we let this go untreated." and so i won't google it. i will take it day at a time.  we have dr jones cell number and his urging to call with any questions.  that's healing. that's organic medicine. today i called the nurses line because i remembered my best friend who had lupus could never go in the sun because of the steroids. i wondered if i should keep him out of the sun. also, someone was telling me a coconut was a nut and i shouldn't give it to easton. i had grandiose dreams of ice cream with coconut milk and oil to fatten him up. dr jones called me back 25 minutes later to tell me what to expect and that the FDA classifies coconut as a nut but it's a fruit and eat away.

we are calorie boosting as he is thin and this condition makes it hard for him to absorb nutrients. his blood work shows his deficiencies. i bought a juicer, with every piece of produce in costco accompanying me home. i'm a mother on a mission.

this is long, it is detailed and erratic but there's a point to it.

i have an inbox full of emails. i have texts waiting to be responded to. i have a phone that rings with concern. we put our pride aside and asked for help. we have prayed for a miracle. loved ones, you are our miracle. it is faith that proceeds the miracle. ours wasn't enough. i can't express the overflowing gratitude that seems to burst from me at times. i have been so touched to see genuine concern and faith expressed for easton. god's hand. we have been on a ride. and this particular ride is slowing down.  i hope i can cultivate and keep this feeling with me. the feeling of hard things and how it reminds me of home. that closeness we feel when we realize that bended knee offered to calm the turbulence is what this life is about. yes, that line my friend jen said from my last post about the lord orchestrating our education, it has imprinted on my mind.  this is our education. it is not a mystery, it is the answer.  thank you from the bottom of our hearts for everything that was offered to receive and be aware of this miracle. love is what it's about, we are forever grateful. thank you!!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

new normal

today is day 39. 39 days since easton got sick, really sick. the kind of sick that sends the red mother alarm off. blaring. flashing.

when motherhood grabbed me with that first maternal inclination, i remember well the thought of panic setting in. grayce was a new baby and the responsibility hit me upside the head and down the other. i remember the distinct thought that it would be 18 years before she could be out of the house and that heavy feeling might leave.  of course that was soon replaced with and eternal well of love. love that surprised me. i was entranced by it, by loving her and wanting 900 babies to love and feel that love from.

when your baby gets sick, it brings such a wide variety of emotions. the love is so perfect and so pure. in some ways, when everyday you are waiting for your child to turn a corner, it seems everything stops. the days no longer count, the measures of time seem loud reminders of when your normal was disrupted. that feeling of love is magnified, explosive because it's all you have to aid this baby in the pain and in the journey.

it all sounds so dramatic. all those emotions over a little boy who is sick. but that maternal instinct is so fierce.  there was one visit to the ER in particular that scott and easton had to go all alone. it was a result of an on call GI dr not calling our pediatrician back for five days. our pediatrician told us to force their hand. i was fed up with our medical system. if we were given one more colon cleanse, i was going to knock some heads together to the tune of a fierce beat. it we were told one more time a sentence containing "wait it out" and "virus", there was going to be someone who would hear it from me. hibernation for mother bear was over. we were 17 days in. i was done living day to day, done with no answers, done with begging for a GI specialist to see us. done. i am the mother and i knew deep in my bones by day 5 that something was not right in his body.  it took 24 days from onset to get to a specialist. the poor kid has gone rock hard on one side guarding because the pain is so intense. he is hunched over and moves slow.  sometimes it goes away, sometimes he vomits. every night its hours to get his body calmed down to sleep, and all night it's tossing and turning. all night. 39 nights. 6 ER visits, 8 lab visits, 4 ultra sounds, 1 CT scan, 5 prescriptions, at least 40 phone calls, psychologists, GI's, immunologists, allergists, and we still don't really know. one dr called today with a lab value that doubled in three weeks over a certain number that means it's possibly more than the severe allergies we discovered in the skin tests and the GI scope needs to be done sooner. when i asked what it could be, he tried to describe it simply saying its benign whatever it is but it's an indicator of something that's yet to be discovered of an abnormal production in the body that could take six months to figure out and watch. sigh.

am i learning? am i taking the opportunity? am i looking up? 

i'm pretty sure brian kershisnik got it right in this painting, lift your eyes my heart tells me on the days my heart is broken for this kid, lift your eyes. i want this painting 50 feet by 50 feet so i don't forget what it does to me when i see it.  it feels like a deep truth in my heart.

 i read this concept from a friend's blog who has been recently diagnosed with breast cancer at a very young age. she was talking about the game of what if i have cancer? the process she went thru upon discovering a lump and waiting for the results. here is an excerpt:

This turned into a bit of a What About Bob moment (i.e.  Bob:  There are two kinds of people in this world those who like Neil Diamond and those who don’t.  My ex-wife loved him.  Dr. Marvin:  You mean to tell me that you are a  paranoid multiphobic personality, but she didn’t leave you? You left her because she likes Neil Diamond?)  OW…OW….  My moment was kind of like “You mean I have been putting all of my efforts, reading books, making plans, spending most of my time caring and nurturing these children and I am disposable?  I can at best be taken out of commission for a while as a mother and at worst be taken to the other side???  So maybe, they don’t really need me as much as I think they do?  Though I have always looked at motherhood as a joint effort with God; I realized more than ever that it is His work and His glory---to help these children achieve their full potential and return to live with Him.  He is at the helm, not me.  I can be a useful instrument in his hands as a mother, but He is not depending on me.  I am depending on Him!!!  My children are depending on Him—and He will orchestrate their education  and mine in mortality in a way that is best for us.  Also, I realized more fully that where I fall short as a parent, the Savior's grace is sufficient for them and me. 

have i shown easton that we are depending on him? have i shown him that no matter what the doctor tells us, this is all temporary but the learning we do from these trials is eternally vital? 

i was lamenting over my strawberries the other day, half dead and lifeless. i had amended the soil, watered faithfully, and yet they were dying.  the rains came thru with cold temperatures and as i watched for days i was quite sure the vision of strawberry jam would be put to rest and that there was no way could they survive the multiple days of awful weather. they went into the rain compromised and weak.  after four days i was amazed to see the leaves a vibrant green and more blossoms than i could imagine.  the vines were spreading and by george, we might be able to eat from our garden this year.  the thought struck me so deep that the harsh weather was exactly what these strawberries needed to make them beautiful and productive.

and so i will lift my eyes, be grateful for the rain, and remember that we are depending on him.

*if you want to read more about my friend jen and her unselfish documentation, you can go here. every post i read of hers i feel like i'm reading a conference talk. she is unmatched in her eternal vision and doctrinal interpretation.*

Monday, April 29, 2013

looking for miracles

i'm in charge. usually.  i coordinate, i plan, i write lists, and more lists, i make meal plans, cleaning plans, dish out jobs that need to be done, carpool, and on and on.  i am in charge of a lot of things to keep my little household running. in the midst of the bustle, i take more credit than i should about being in charge. i feel like i have had a few reminders about being in charge that have really helped me.

the last month has put some hair on my chest and some contributors are strep throat, stomach flu, emergent surgery for easton for a hernia repair, a trip to the hospital twice to rule out appendicitis for easton, my ever abounding female hormonal problems (last months PMS episode mimicked a blood clot in my calf, the list of things that happen before i cycle is unreal and gets stranger every month. i have never ever looked forward to a monthly visit so much to relieve the craziness, the symptoms dissipate within hours of cycling. TMI, i know), and little easton who just can't get over a stomach bug (we are on day 9 and under a doctors watchful eye and a trip to the hospital).

i had my breakdown yesterday. i was headed to church and had some responsibilities there that called for a list of organization and cooperation. the list didn't include easton taking a bad turn as we were trying to get there on time. i had to call the doctor again, go over symptoms and protocol and what to look for. scott ended up getting someone to cover for him so he could take him up to the hospital. my tears started as i pulled up to the church house 10 minutes late and realized i only had one side of my face with make up on it and my dress wasn't ironed. my hair was neglected because of the turn of events and i broke.  the bishop was the first person i saw and immediately asked how easton was.  the dam broke. snot flying, mascara running down one side of my ugly crying face, the sobbing. the hall was filled with people looking at the spectacle. i have never done that in public before. i was absolutely mortified. everyone bustled around me to take over so i could go to the hospital with easton. but, i couldn't go.  i had to go home and cry for two hours. i was filled with fear and panic to say the least. i was also not feeling up to par as i had spent friday night throwing up all night and dealing with an incurable yeast infection i have had since christmas. it was one of those soul searching moments. i had to dig deep and find where my peace was going to come from.  i remembered this talk i had heard by chance as the channel was on BYU tv one morning and kept repeating to myself, don't shrink. don't shrink. and then the desperation of how do i not shrink? my son is in peril, his eyes are sunken, there is nothing i can do for him. it seems there is no end, no break in his pain and misery. there is no meal i can cook, no service i can do for him. my body is sub par and compromised and i feel insufficient right now, not shrinking seems impossible. i wanted desperately to give into that fear. then i had the feeling to listen to this talk from a few weeks ago. it was such a moment of clarity when i felt like someone was right there telling me what to do. i had to ask for a humble heart to realize that i needed to borrow some faith.  i had let the fear consume me to the point that i couldn't see an end to the monotony of the affliction. i repeated over in my heart, i do believe but please help my unbelief. i had to realize that my faith was short. i had gone thru this onslaught without relying on my faith, therefore missing the miracles.  everyday there are miracles and there is hope.  this being in charge business is tricky to balance faith sometimes.  i puff with pride and take credit for things that i should be looking up for with gratitude.

i had to sit in my bed with closed eyes and remember the things i do know. and then i recalled the miracles i have been missing. i was filled with just enough hope to press forward.

being aware of miracles i was so filled today when i went to a dental appointment with rowan.  i had noticed a few spots on his front teeth on the back that did not look good. i made an appointment for this morning and sure enough his thin enamel had broken thru and we were missing some spots obviously on the back teeth when we were brushing.  that little boy let the dentist use the drill without any numbing medication and fill the bad spots.  he sat completely still for 45 minutes while he drilled, poked, and filled.  i was overwhelmed by that little miracle. it saved us a trip to the surgical center. rowan didn't flinch once. as we were leaving dr ryan's office with a fistful of treasures, that cherub looked up at me and said, momma, that was fun, can we do it again? it was just the miracle i was in need of.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

drama{tic}

 january can do some nutty things to a gal, but this thing might have been too nuts.  one day i had this really terrifying thought about my girls connecting their beauty to their long hair. we seem to grow hair like unwanted weeds around here, it just pops up uncontrollably. everywhere they go they get a comment about their hair.  i decided that i wanted them to realize beauty beyond what grows on their head.  i talked to them about change and beauty and about doing something great for someone else.  ella was right on board but grayce (whose hair turned a wavy mess with the onset of puberty) was slower to concede. somehow she jumped off this steep cliff with us.  Here we are, ready to take the plunge.......the girls right out of the shower, ready for change.






change is what we got! ella and i both coughed up 10 inches, while grayce left us in her dust...she came up with a whopping 14 inches!

grayce and i were on our way to new beginnings, hence the fluffiness ella was mad she didn't have!


two months in to it, here's my feeling on short hair. ITS A LOT OF WORK.  for grayce, it's perfect.  her length is just right, ella needs about 5 more inches, that's her perfect length.  i wish i would have cut 5 inches and changed my hair color.  i can't get away with only washing my hair every couple of days.  short hair is serious, you have to have a style, and the boho look doesn't work as well.  i had gone with a darker hair color in december and it was making my poor no sun skin looked washed out.  but, like i stated earlier, our hair grows like unwanted weeds. so this is a tragedy we will recover from.  next january i will buy a new top or a new pair of jeans.....