13 December 2014


I took this picture because I wanted to freeze this view in my brain. I am so thankful for a counter I can look out from while I am doing the dishes and watch these cuties play. I love being with them. I do, they are a joy. I feel like I am enjoying them more and more, I am not living in la la land, my days are long and tiring and my little ones throw fits and most of the time I am second guessing my parenting tactics, but in the midst of those things, I get to look up and see two healthy beautiful babies playing princess castle hospital, and if listening in on their conversations and make believe doesn't put a smile on my face, well I don't know what would! I am just savoring watching them play together.
 We took the tiny ones bumper bowling. We all 4 had a blast! Kelly and I were just kind of in disbelief that we have arrived at the stage where we can do activities like this. It seems like we have been in the baby stage for so long, it excited us to have a glimpse of what our Sunday afternoons (post Levi's nap of course), are turning into. Lots of family adventures ahead!
 I included the first picture in this post because I feel like SO much of 2014 was spent under stress, that I honestly didn't take time to enjoy my tiny ones as much as I should have. The year was under a cloud of what felt like chaos at times and this bowling day really tipped the scale in the other direction. Praise the Lord oh my soul! The very end of January our kitchen leak happened. Turning our kitchen into a nail exposed, loud fan covered, sub-floor construction zone. Early February was a mix of contracting bids, flakey flakey flakey insurance people and Levi's incredibly scary allergic reaction. It was also the news of Kelly's brother having kidney cancer. 
Throughout February our little guy continued to be ill and make his mommy and daddy very nervous. By March, nothing much had happened with the insurance company, and Kelly was in a little tussle at work resulting in a major shoulder injury. (Good thing he transitioned to a more mild police position, ha ha, if only.) Thus began what would turn into a very long road to recovery. The initial doctor told him to put his arm in a sling and he would be better in 10 days or so. Well, that was a recipe for frozen shoulder to begin setting in. A couple of weeks past with no improvement at all and another doctor consult, and we found out he most likely had muscle tears. Buy April his MRI was finally approved (oh L&I never in a rush), and we learned he wasn't feeling so well because he had at least 3 tears in his shoulder. By that time, our home owner's insurance rep was "no longer with the company," and our file was lost in the abyss. But, April did bring jumps of joy when my cousin Ashley came home from teaching in Thailand and shouts of joy when Kelly's brother had surgery and as far as cancer goes, it could not have gone better! The best news ever… Cory was cancer free!
Two weeks later and Kelly was at the hospital for his shoulder surgery. Although we had hustled through all of the home insurance hoops (again!), and as much as we longed for countertops and floors, we didn't think having a construction crew in our home during Kelly's recovery would be the best idea. So, we postponed any remodel movement. Not so shockingly, Kelly's surgery turned out to be more extensive than originally thought. He came out of the surgery only being allowed to lift 1 lb (so basically nothing), and we spent the next 6 weeks navigating how to go about life with daddy only using 3 limbs. Cory came over to recoup with Kelly on the couch and I made them both promise me that would never ever happen again! If only they had control over that :)
We were blessed like crazy with meals and encouragement from friends and family. It is not easy to learn how to say yes to help, but it sure does help carry the burden when we let others in to help with yard work and life. I am forever thankful for those who came by our side. Shoulder surgery recovery makes me want to cry. My biggest advice is to get a recliner. My aunt and uncle brought theirs to us, and Kelly lived in it for a good week or so. Shoulder surgery is awful. Kelly is not a complainer, but it is pretty horrible to watch someone be in so much pain. It's different than the knee surgeries he has had in the past. Post knee surgery, he has been quickly released to full activity, to work through pain but had the confidence that he wouldn't re-injure himself by doing regular things. Shoulder surgery recovery is a constant juggling act. Don't lift over 1 lb or you could undo everything that the surgery did, but be sure to be using your shoulder otherwise you will get frozen shoulder.
So, frozen shoulder started creeping in. The end of June he was told he had about a week to get scar tissue breaking up in his shoulder, otherwise he would be headed back in the operating room.
The timing for him needing to move around fell right about the same time that I was scheduled to head down to Los Angeles for a few days for filming. I realize this sounds dramatic, but the Lord really blessed me with that three day break. Kelly insisted that I go, and it ended up being such an amazing trip. My childhood best friend, Allie, came with me and although I was nervous to leave my one armed husband with the two little ones, the trip recharged my batteries. We preplanned meals and family playdates and it went better than expected. Being a one armed Mr. Mom helped the scar tissue start to break up! Now that Kelly's arm was doing better and almost out of the woods with the frozen shoulder, it was time to start addressing our house. Due to a LOT of postponements, we could no longer get on the schedule of our contractor. So… we decided why not attempt to be DIYers. Oh, to be so ambitious and naive. We had NO idea how big of a job we were going to take on. But, even though a downstairs remodel turned out to be a never ending headache, the Lord used all the movement to get Kelly's shoulder healed. After being cleared to lift normal weight, Kelly (along with his dad and brother) dove on into the hardwood flooring. After the first solid week of doing the floors, Kelly's doctor was blown away by the amount of mobility and strength he had regained. Up to this point, Kelly had been told that he would never heal 100%. And, up to this point, we weren't sure he would be able to return to full duty at work. According to Kelly's guild contract, he had six months to get back to full duty and his doctor was not confident he would meet the September goal. But, the Lord used hardwood flooring, counter top demo, and even our HOA breathing down our neck about staining our fence, to get Kelly's shoulder back in order. It was definitely not what the physical therapist recommended, but it worked. By August, Kelly returned to work full duty! He still has some mobility and strength to gain back, but he is already at 90% or better. He stepped down from his SWAT position, because it will be quite sometime until his shoulder will allow him to comfortably and safely complete the physical test. That being said, even the freedom of not having SWAT training and call outs has been a blessing to our family.
So, August brought on Kelly returning to work, the ever growing to do list of DIY home construction, and yet another reprieve for myself. I have never been a mom who says "I need a break!" But, I think God heard the quiet cries of my heart, because I got to go on a  trip to Alaska with my aunt and Grandma. I got to visit the village where my Grandma lived as a little girl and learn about my roots. The timing seemed challenging with Kelly's shoulder, our house and life, but I am so thankful it worked out. That being said, I am pretty sure my little ones will never sleep through the night in their own beds again! Kelly let them sleep with him while I was gone, and that is a hard habit to break!! But, I sort of love that Kelly's the type of dad that cuddled the cuties to make sure they weren't sad when I was gone.
I can't even think of all the delays and what felt like daily if not twice or thrice daily trips to Home Depot, but the home improvements just took forever. It's hard to juggle it all. Our goal was to have the house completed by our big family vacation to Disneyland the end of August. Well, that didn't happen, but we still had an amazing time! Going to California does stress me out a little, we have a lot of friends in CA and I always feel terrible if I don't get to visit them, like I am sneaking around. But, we opted not to rent a car and just enjoy some very much needed family time. We were able to meet Kelly's cousins absolutely adorable little baby girl, but otherwise we flew under the radar and soaked up the sun and loads of smiles from the kiddos. Mommy and Daddy were not distracted by doctor's appointments and projects and that made for a very happy little family.
Next goal was to have the house completed by Levi's birthday, that too didn't happen. September was busy with the start of school and a couple added police lawsuits. Lovely and stressful. Oh, and a new reporter who thought it was her mission to paint Kelly in poor light as a police officer. Really!?! It was ridiculous and Kelly's chief very boldly and clearly gave his opinion on the matter. I am so thankful for the chief! So, we survived that lovely entry to Fall an even met our absolute latest timeline of home project completion… My sister's October baby shower! Praise the Lord!
This photo was taken the Sunday after her shower. Honestly, the first time since January that we weren't feeling guilty for not being home to finish such and such project. I looked at Kelly and I said with pure joy and almost disbelief "I am happy. I am so happy!"
That being said, we still have drywall repairs, a leaky new faucet, paint to complete and a list I don't even want to write for the backyard. But, we are putting them ALL on hold until the New Year.
We are trying to pay more attention to the little ones, making sure Levi doesn't eat any more whole apples.
Yep, where's the core?
Go on some much needed playdates.
Could Tatum be any cuter!?!
Get distracted by toys being thrown in our water, rather than knobs and cutting tile.
Let Georgiana FINALLY giver her doll a haircut.
She's been begging me for months. 
And, applaud Levi's car creations.
Earlier this year in the midst of the craziness, a friend told me that that is just how life goes. Which I agree, to an extent. There are daily things, like our furnace going out after we just got it cleaned, interesting timing. Our car not starting repeatedly, thankfully it was just the key battery. Holding Levi for two days because he has a fever and terrible cough. Laughing at myself because of how stressed out I felt backstage of Georgiana's dance recital. Life.
But, there are also seasons of life that are extra extra difficult. I can think back to times in my life that were just plain hard. The valleys. Spring of 2012. Winter of 2009/2010. And, to be honest I feel like the majority of 2014 was a valley. Yes, I am spoiled to consider a valley as a time with filming a movie, celebrating two healthy kids' birthdays, even coming out of the valley with a remodeled house (poor me, I know). But, it was trying. I remember in July, when Kelly received news that he wouldn't have to have a second surgery, I remember feeling like we were coming out of the fog. It felt like we took a while to come out, and boy is it nice to breathe in the fresh air. Gray Washington days and all. 
I realize my valley had many "first world" problems, and even Kelly's shoulder, at the end of the day if he only had one arm we are still more blessed than most. But, that's my story. I know the Lord only gives us what we can handle, and with His help, that's what I could handle this year. 
I hope 2015 is a continuous climb without deep valleys, but if 31 years has taught me anything, it's that the Lord directs our paths, valley's and all.

Proverbs 19:21
"Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails."


Stefanie said...

Love this! Happy to hear you're coming up and out of that valley!

e said...

so great to read this report! i love you, nicole. and yes...valleys can last and last. but praying 2015 is full of exhilerating views and fresher air!

Patty Siegmund said...

Oh my!!!! I talk to Jenna a lot so I knew about Cory but I had no idea about what was happening with Kelly! Thank you for such a god focused perspective!