Wednesday, November 4


The last five months have found Owen regularly in and out of various doctor’s offices. He has physical and developmental limitations and we are working tirelessly to find the reason why and search for both short and long-term solutions. His muscle tone is low, causing balance and stability issues, speech delays, and other minor difficulties. Sweet, innocent children ask why Owen walks “crooked”, adults comment on his wobbliness and how tired he always looks, and others silently watch him from a distance as he stumbles and falls through grocery store aisles or the hallways at church. 

Things that come easily and naturally to so many children - running, speaking, eating, standing straight - require a lot of hard work for Owen. He has been seen by an audiologist, an ophthalmologist, two pediatric neurologists, and has weekly sessions with both a physical therapist and speech pathologist. There are a lot of questions about what’s going on inside Owen’s little body and not a lot of answers, but we do know a few things. The diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy was mentioned a number of times with our first neurologist, pediatrician, and Owen’s therapists. After taking him to Primary Children’s Hospital in SLC for an MRI and then following up with our second neurologist there, we have been told with confidence that Owen does not have CP. We had been prepared for and almost expected the CP diagnosis and were relieved when, after those several weeks of waiting and wondering, we were told that it can be ruled out. What that leaves us with, however, are more questions and a new path of possibilities to explore. 

Our next step is genetic testing, where Owen’s doctors will take blood samples of Clay, myself, and Owen and look for any anomalies that might explain his delays. The chances of finding a diagnosis are slim, but the test results could still give us a better idea of what’s in store for Owen’s development down the road. For now, we are calling what he has Global Developmental Delay, which means that everything from his speech to his fine and gross motor skills are delayed without having a clear explanation why. 

What others see as weaknesses in Owen, we know are strengths. We may not yet have a diagnosis, but what we do have is everyday proof that Owen is a fighter. He is strong, he works hard, and he knows no boundaries that someone else might set for him. He has improved so much in the short time that he’s been in physical and speech therapies. In his first PT evaluation, he could not complete simple tasks like jump with both feet off the ground or walk up or down stairs without being held and guided. He now jumps off of everything he can find. He loves to walk on the treadmill and climb the rock wall with assistance from his therapists. In his first Speech evaluation, he could only say a small handful of words and mostly grunted and pointed in an effort to communicate. Now we can’t keep up with the words he is picking up on every day. 

What’s hard is that many people on the outside do not and will not know of Owen’s strength. They will not know how hard he has worked and the tears he has shed as his progress continues, so frequently through pain and fatigue. So often we look at people and choose to see their faults rather than what they’ve overcome. We judge others, thinking they could try harder, do more, be something or someone different. But the truth is, we never know how far they’ve already come.

I know that we have many years, if not a lifetime, ahead of us as we work to give Owen the care that he needs. There will probably always be questions and stares and a natural curiosity from those around him. But there are also the people who know Owen and the light that he brings wherever he goes. He is happy and adorably loving and so fearlessly active. Those things come from within him. They do not come from a place of weakness or disability. They are who he really is. They are a part of his spirit and his tender, exceptionally big heart. And no matter what diagnosis we may or may not get down the road, that will never change. Owen is exactly who and how he is supposed to be. And we are so unbelievably glad that he’s ours. 

Monday, February 2

For Tony Jay

Tony. I find myself quietly saying his name throughout the day, as if speaking it out loud will make the pain of his death easier to bear. In some ways it does help, just a little. 

I think about him a lot. I think about conversations we had and the conversations I wish we would have had. I picture him wrestling Mushu on the living room floor, or blaring his music way too loud in the upstairs bathroom. I see his dimples and hear his voice and I miss him terribly.

My favorite memory with Tony was when I told him I was pregnant with Owen. Clay and I had been sharing and celebrating the news with family all day. Crying tears of joy left my eyes puffy and red. When Vandi told Tony I had something important to tell him, all he saw were my tear-stained cheeks and he was instantly concerned. I smiled and told him I was pregnant. The worry on his face was immediately replaced with overwhelming joy and relief. That was Tony. He cared about people. He cared about his family. He sighed, gave me a big hug, and, through shared laughter, told me not to scare him like that ever again. 

From the day Tony died up to the day of the funeral our time was spent planning, writing, crying, praying, and somehow pulling off Christmas with a house full of grieving family members. We had each other to lean on and we kept one another afloat. We shared stories. Even what had once been simple anecdotes of Tony’s life were suddenly cherished and priceless memories - recollections that we desperately clung to, hoping to feel him close. Though those days were hard, the ones that followed Tony’s funeral were significantly harder. After the funeral, we had to leave the support and comfort of each other and face real life as we went our separate ways. In my quiet moments alone, not knowing what else to do, I fell to my knees and sobbed. I know every other member of the family has done the same. 

Those moments of outward pain are gradually lessening, but I fear the internal sorrow will never go away. As a family we are suffering, we are missing a huge piece of who we are. As individuals we are broken, seeking peace and even just a temporary freedom from sadness.  

As the days go by and questions remain unanswered, I feel anger sneaking its way into my heart. It’s a strange thing to have a person who means nothing to us be responsible for taking away the person who means everything to us. I don’t know his name, his face, nor do I care to. But his choice has altered the lives of many. I have had more conversations about guns and bad guys with my five year old daughter than any parent ever should. There are no words to describe the hurt of knowing how Tony was taken from this earthly life. I try not to think about it. I try not to think about the person responsible. I can’t think about it. I do think about how Tony lived, though. I think about him daily. And that’s a much better way to direct my thoughts.

I also think about Jesus Christ and the pain and suffering he endured at the end of his life. I think about how I wouldn’t wish the heartache I feel from this tragedy on anybody, and then I remember that Christ voluntarily felt this very pain. He knows our suffering. He knows our broken hearts. And that knowledge, more than anything else, helps me get through each day. 

Throughout all of this, my eyes have been opened to the truly good people around us. Their acts of kindness and love remind me that light will always drive away darkness. Their service shows me that God answers prayers in different ways through inspired hearts. The good people of our community whose lives have been touched by Tony and the Hansen family have provided a strength we’ve needed and will continue to treasure. 

Two days before Tony died, I told him the next time I saw him I was going to give him a big old hug. He said he couldn’t wait. I don’t know how long that wait will be, but I do know that I will see him again and he’ll be there, ready to receive that big hug I’ve got saved for him. Until then, I will continue to miss and think of Tony every day. I will turn to this incredible family I've married into as we lean on one another for support and strength. I will try to find a way to get through the sadness and to live with a light that honors and celebrates my dear, beloved brother-in-law and his light that impacted us all.

Thursday, November 29

non-cheesy slideshow songs

Every year for Christmas I give my in-laws a picture slideshow of our year in review. The whole family is basically one big paparazzi team, so we always have plenty of pictures to share. As hard as it can be gathering the hundreds of photos from family activities throughout the year, the more difficult part is finding the perfect songs to play in the background. I don't want anything too cheesy and I really don't want 90's graduation songs, so I often find myself ready to tear my hair out after hours of song searching. However, by some Christmas miracle I always end up finding the greatest three or four songs to add to my slideshow for the year. 

I've compiled a list of many of the songs I've used over the past five years' slideshows. These are great alternatives to the cliche sappy and dated songs we're all used to hearing or the overly lovey ones more fit for a wedding video. Give them a listen when you have a chance and prepare yourself for the sudden urge to create a picture slideshow for someone in your family. 

COUNT ON ME / by Bruno Mars
IF THERE WAS NO YOU / by Brandi Carlile
FATHER + DAUGHTER / by Paul Simon
HOME / by Andrew Simple
WE GOT LOVE / by Ernie Halter
THREE LITTLE GIRLS / by JJ Cale and Eric Clapton
BETTER TOGETHER / by Jack Johson
THE BEST THING / by Jeremy Kay
YOU MAKE ME HAPPY / by Lindsey Ray
WE BELONG TOGETHER / by Randy Newman
I'D RATHER BE WITH YOU / by Josh Radin
93 MILLION MILES / by Jason Mraz

Tuesday, October 30

my favorite bear

When Hallie told me she wanted to be a bear for Halloween this year, my first thought was, "But bear costumes aren't cute!" Of course I didn't say this out loud. I nodded my head, smiled, and knew it was only a matter of time before she would change her mind. It was bound to happen, right? Wrong. 

Instead of going the traditional route of a bulky, baggy bodysuit animal costume, I came up with something a little more comfortable and...let's be honest...a lot cuter. I wasn't sure what exactly Hallie had in mind when she imagined herself as a bear and was nervous about her reaction when she saw the finished product, but she loves it. Phew! 

Of course there are always a few bumps in the road when it comes to anything dealing with Hallie. She was really upset about her hair - because bears don't have long hair and they don't wear pigtails or ponytails. She also refused to wear underwear with her costume because, hello mom, bears don't wear underwear! After a few discussions we agreed on a ponytail and underwear. Wonderful. 

Though I wish I could take credit for coming up with the entire ensemble on my own, you know Pinterest had a hand in it all...

The ears were based off of this awesome tutorial. 
The idea of a girly bear costume was based off of this panda costume
The sweatshirt was purchased here and the quality and price are both super. I'm thinking about buying some more in other colors. 
And that fur skirt? That idea was mine and I seriously want to make one for myself. Sooo soft!

I hope everyone has a happy and safe Halloween! And don't forget to sneak some of your kids' chocolate in my honor. You know you want to. 

Tuesday, October 16

what i've learned from watching curious george

I'm going to come right out and say that I let my daughter watch TV. Regularly. It saves my sanity on a daily basis. I have been known to put my foot down when it comes to certain shows though, like ones where the characters talk like babies, or if there are characters who bully, or shows that don't teach us anything by the time the end credits are rolling. And believe it or not, there are a lot of them out there.

One of Hallie's favorite shows is Curious George, which I love. The more I watch this show, the more mental notes I find myself taking. The parenting advice in that show is subtle and certainly unsolicited, but it is solid gold. I don't know how I feel comparing my three-year old daughter to a monkey (although most days she insists she is one), but there are noticeable similarities. I actually feel kind of foolish writing this, but here are a few lessons I've learned while observing interactions between The Man in the Yellow Hat and his lovable monkey, George.

1. Be Patient. Sometimes it's hard for me to remember that just because Hallie understands a lot of things, that doesn't mean she understands everything. It takes time for her to get from one activity to the next, from the front door to her car seat, from downstairs to upstairs, because there is so much to take in and figure out. George is the same way. There is always something to distract him, but TMITYH (you got that, right?) always shows patience and understanding as he waits...and waits...and waits.

2. Don't Raise Your Voice. George gets into trouble. It's what he does. He's a monkey living in a man's world. Unfortunately, our children are young, innocent, curious kids living in a fast-paced, high-stress world as well. So whenever I feel the urge to yell at Hallie for getting into the same kind of mischief that any other kid would get into I ask myself, "How would TMITYH handle this?" Seriously. Call me crazy, but I've seen enough episodes to know he wouldn't freak out. He'd be gentle and calm and he'd talk it through, which leads me to...

3. Take Advantage of Teachable Moments. When George does something wrong, TMITYH makes sure to explain why it was wrong and what can be done to make it right. He takes the things that George doesn't yet understand and turns them into teachable moments so that George will understand them. Does that mean he will do it perfect the next time? No, but the seed has been planted. And that's the least I can do with Hallie. I want her to know things and think about things and comprehend them. It might take a few tries, but it's also surprising what information a three-year old brain can absorb the first time around.

4. Let Them Make Mistakes. Sometimes when I watch this show I think, "None of this would have happened if TMITYH just kept an eye on George. At all times. He's a monkey for crying out loud!" But that's not how we live our lives, is it? There are days when we just have to let our children go about their own little world, which oftentimes lead to them learning a lesson the hard way.  Spill your drink once or twice (or ten times) and hopefully you'll learn to be more attentive at the dinner table. (If my husband is reading this, he's sure to be laughing hysterically because, even at 28 years old, I still spill my drink at least once a week during dinner.) Nevertheless, the idea is the same. Let them fall, let them mess up, let them lose a game and it will teach them to be more brave, more careful, and more dedicated to make it right.

5. Anyone Can Be a Friend. I am always pleasantly surprised at how many friends George and TMITYH have wherever they go. Age, gender, ethnicity, or background don't matter: a friend is a friend is a friend. And within those friendships are endless opportunities to teach, learn, share, grow, and sometimes be downright silly. That kind of relationship is something I really want Hallie to experience in her life.

6. Explore the World Together. This one is my favorite. TMITYH and George split their time between the big city and the wide open country, but no matter where they are the find something new and exciting to do and learn. Always looking for a new adventure, George uses his curiosity and amazing monkey energy to go, go, go until he has explored a new part of his world and shared it with TMITYH, who is always, always excited to embrace it and experience those simple, joyful moments together.

So there you have it. Lessons learned from a monkey and a man who wears a whole lotta yellow. I guess this is what happens when you are a stay at home mom for this long...

Tuesday, October 2


Ever since Hallie started preschool, I feel like my week doesn't start until Tuesday. She's out the door, learning ABCs and 1,2,3's at a rapid pace, leaving me home alone to cram as many things into three hours as possible. I don't think I've ever crossed so many things off of my to-do list in so short a time. Tuesday is the new Monday.

The weekend was a great one. Had a few moments here and there that reminded me of how blessed I am to be a mom, a wife, a daughter, and a sister. I also got a text from one of my closest friends that brought tears to my eyes. A simple act of kindness, even when not intended to be anything big, can make quite the impact. 

In other news, I am now a smart phone owner. Why buy the 5 when you can get the 4 for free? With that, I am also an Instagram-er. And I love it. Feel free to follow if you'd like - jordanlee22. Sharing pieces of my world through photos is surprisingly invigorating. 

Happy Monday Tuesday. 

Tuesday, September 25

the "next" button by google reader

If you use Google Reader to keep up with the blogs you follow, I have a treat for you. Or...maybe I'm the last person on earth to learn this cool trick. We'll see.

Google has a "Next" button that you can add to your toolbar to navigate your unread blog posts instead of logging in to Reader and seeing them all in list form. I like the button much better because I don't feel like I have to catch up with every blog all at once. I click the button when I have a few extra seconds and I read whatever post it takes me to. Also, I get to see the blog, which is one thing that I've missed since using Reader.

To get the button, follow these three simple steps:

Step 1.
While logged in to Reader, click on your Settings icon in the upper right corner. Then click on Reader settings.

Step 2.
Click on the Goodies tab.

Step 3.
Scroll down a bit until you find the "Next" button. Drag and drop it onto your toolbar.

It will look like this:

And you're done. You can thank me later. Or tell me I'm a bit behind the times. Whatever.

Thursday, September 20

loving lately / fall

1. watching Felicity episodes on Netflix / combine one of my all-time favorite fictional characters and so much drama you can cut it with a knife and you've got an excellent show to watch as you unwind at the end of the day. Also, let the record show that I absolutely loved it when Felicity chopped off her hair.

2. jon mclaughlin / I've always been a fan but I especially love his latest album, Promises Promises. He sings his stories so well, I can't help but stop in my tracks to get a better listen.

3. Better Homes and Gardens wax scents / I might get a lot of heat for this, but I love these $2 bricks so much better than the Scentsy brand. They're cheaper, you can buy them at Walmart or online, and you aren't dealing with a consultant pressuring you into buying other products. Their selection isn't nearly as big, but their seasonal scents are delish and last just as long in the warmer. Our current fave is Spiced Pumpkin Pie.

4. crocheted scarves / the chunkier the better, right? 'Tis the season.

5. JCPenney / have you shopped here lately? I'd heard about their revamp earlier this year and finally walked through a store the other day. They have the cutest kid clothes at great prices. I'm urging Hallie to hit another growth spurt so I have an excuse to shop it up.

6. almonds / I'm trying to snack healthier and my new go-to mid-day boost is a mix of almonds and dried apricots. They taste yummy and I feel so happy putting them in my belly.

Your turn. What else is out there to love?

Tuesday, September 18

life at home

I've been notified by a few readers that I need to blog more. Or at all.

Boxes are still being unpacked and I'm overwhelmed by the bare walls that are crying for some love and decor. Pinterest has become my best frenemy as I dream up a plan for all of this empty space...only to realize a shopping spree is necessary in order for it to become a reality. I do have a lot of picture frames, though. Is a gallery wall in every room too much? Probably.

The joyous fantasy of Hallie reuniting with her ridiculous amount of toys and stuffed animals played out even better than expected, as the glee and excitement still hasn't worn off two weeks later.

Perhaps my favorite part of this move is how seamlessly life has gone back to the way it once was. Preparing dinners and the family snuggles on the couch and the morning routine. It feels good and right and happy.

I was hoping life would slow down once we got into a house and started to feel at home. Suddenly I realize that at home is when life is craziest.

My goodness, I sure love crazy.

Thursday, August 23


After a ridiculous house hunt (for a rental, nonetheless) we finally have a place to almost call home. Next weekend cannot come soon enough. It has been seven months since I slept in my own bed, did my own meal planning and grocery shopping, and haven't lived out of a suitcase. 

Our house in Texas was blue - a hideous, dirty, old blue. Hallie remembers that house well and talks about it almost every day. Seven months later she still misses the house and, probably more importantly, all of her stuff that filled it. I can't help but smile that our new house is a little bit blue too. A newer and brighter blue, representative of our new and brighter future as a family. 

As hard as it has been living with family this year, I am glad we had the opportunity to stay with both my parents and Clay's parents. We owe them an unthinkable amount for taking us in. The experience was part fly-on-the-wall and part Family Relations 101. You learn a lot about the love of your life by watching them interact with their parents and siblings and vice-versa on a daily basis. I think Clay and I can appreciate each other's little quirks and habits a little a lot more now.

I imagine the day we move into our house will be like Christmas. Unpacking boxes and discovering things we forgot were ever a part of our past life. And, of course, we'll dig for treasures that we've been missing and dreaming of since January. (I'm talking about my box of shoes, those poor neglected beauties.) I can't wait for the cheers and excitement that are sure to come from Hallie as we open boxes of toys and stuffed animals and puzzles. She has been more than patient and has surprised us all with how well she has comprehended this stage in our life. A stage that is on its way out as we make room for the next big step - finally having our own home sweet home again. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...